Kitchen Herbalism: Why I Teach Affordable Care

Picture of our parents' wooden spice rack full of reusable jars of multiple seasonings, both whole and ground.

I believe the knowledge of how to grow, harvest, and store herbs should exist in every household. Herbal medicine should be readily accessible both physically and financially. For most people, nothing is more easily recognized or accessible than their spice rack. Therefore I focus on teaching kitchen herbalism using common kitchen herbs and spices that include basil, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, oregano, rosemary, and thyme. For example, the table below marks the many medicinal abilities of each of these herbs.

BasilGarlicGingerLemongrassOreganoRosemaryThyme
Alterative*
Antibacterial*****
Anti-cattarrhal**
Antifungal***
Anthelminth*
Anti-inflammatory**
Anti-microbial****
Antioxidant***
Anti-spasmodic**
Antiviral*
Carminative***
Circulatory Stimulant**
Diaphoretic**
Nervine*

Kitchen Herbalism Everywhere

These familiar herbs and spices are powerful medicines lurking on grocery store shelves, in kitchen cabinets, small container gardens, and even as landscaping plants. Many of them are easy to grow, while giving you instant access to herbal medicines. This also puts useful herbs back within reach of those living in poverty, who work 3 jobs and have no downtime, and even those who are without permanent shelter.

Closeup picture of a thumb with a mostly sealed cut across the thumbpad.
This picture was taken less than 24 hours after Rimakej had accidentally sliced her thumb on some broken glass. The cut was originally deep enough to merit the need for stitches by conventional medicine standards. Instead, Rima had treated the wound immediately with a freshly plucked leaf of lamb’s ear (Stachys byzantina) and pressure. This medicinal herb is commonly grown in many gardens for its beautiful sliver-green fuzzy soft and absorbent leaves, which are also antibacterial and promote hastened healing. With continued applications of fresh lamb’s ear leaves, the wound was fully healed in a few days, leaving only a slight scar that is very hard to find now.

Herbal Medicine Is the People’s Medicine

I strongly believe that growing your own food and medicine is one of the most empowering things you can do for yourself. I also understand being in survival mode often means the option to pursue greater health is an afterthought. Especially when you’re just trying to make sure you still can meet rent costs.

I’ve said before that I believe herbs should be accessible to all people without a huge pay wall. This is where learning kitchen herbalism comes in handy. But how to prepare and use herbs medicinally should not be solely held by a person acting as gatekeeper. By gatekeeper, I mean someone who is unwilling to share knowledge or resources with you unless you fit their category of “worthy.” This usually involves paying them obscene amounts of money.

Picture of fresh basil cuts reaching out of a small cup of water above Cristophe's left-hand middle finger with a clump of wet crushed basil leaves over a wasp sting on it.
One example of a pay wall free easy remedy using kitchen herbalism. In this picture I was applying fresh basil leaves as a poultice to my wasp sting to alleviate the pain.

I would like to note my exceptions to the previous statement. One is that people should still be compensated fair value for their time and effort. I do expect to pay more for someone who has been studying a subject for 10 years than for someone who took a 3 day course. But this payment doesn’t always have to be money, and certainly not an amount that limits accessibility to those that really need it.

Secondly is that BIPOC communities have every right to safeguard their traditions. Healing rites (like smudging) and spiritual practices have been consistently stolen from these communities without consideration of the peoples or their lands. Paywalls can also keep these same communities from regaining access to their stolen knowledge.

Services Tailored For You

If you are ready, I am here to teach you what I can about herbs, gardening, and homesteading. I offer a sliding scale price for my garden consultations. My consults are also tailored to your specific site, what you want to grow, your budget, and your available time.

Picture of a small 3ft by 6ft (1m by 2m) flourishing raised bed garden with walls made of stackable cement blocks under a decorative short wire fencing surrounding it. Plants growing within it are green onion, basil, bean, tomato, and squash. The tomato plant is supported by a metal tomato cage, and the bean plant is growing up a wooden trellis.
Raised bed at one of Rimakej’s parents previous homes back in the USA that I consulted them in establishing. Growing in it was green onion, basil, bean, tomato, and squash.

Due to the pandemic I have had to suspend my classes. But when I am able to host them again, they will continue to encompass gardening, herbalism, and small-acreage homesteading. These classes are designed for a general audience. And my lectures often flow with the specific needs of that audience.

I also take on up to 5 apprentices a year. Each apprentice gets a custom learning plan tailored to their specific interests within my knowledge base. My former on-site apprentices had access to a work-trade agreement. They helped me with my work on our previous homestead in exchange for the knowledge I was able to teach them. I hope to be able to resume this option when we are settled into our new homestead. Then, for my distance learning apprentices, I exchange my knowledge with them for their being beta testers for my course materials.

Locally Available Kitchen Herbalism

Although I offer many friendly options I am not an herbalist that is immersed in the community. There is a deep need for culturally appropriate medicine, and as we are in transition to a new homestead, I feel I am not qualified to dip into that yet.

However, there are many excellent resources for our previous local community. Yanawana Herbolarios is an indigenous, woman led nonprofit that cares for San Antonio’s underserved communities. I have donated medical supplies to their street medic team and for their pop-up clinics. Eco Centro runs a community garden and hosts many free classes. They also provide free garden seeds to the community. And Roots of Change is a community garden that provides free garden seeds and fresh food in what is otherwise a food desert.

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