PLATTSBURGH — One-hundred percent positive identification of a plant is the first rule of good herbalism, according to North Country Herbalists founder Jenn Allen.
Allen began studying herbalism after becoming ill. Diagnosed with adult-onset asthma, the inhalers prescribed to her made her symptoms worse, so she turned to mullein, a plant in her own backyard known for its respiratory benefits.
“I’ve been practicing and studying herbalism for a couple of years now,” Allen said.
She created North Country Herbalists, a group that meets twice per month for about an hour, as a resource for the community and as a way to share information. Allen’s ultimate goal is to spread knowledge about herbalism.
“And have fun,” she added.
Sharing information is critical to keeping herbalism alive, Allen said.
For each meeting, the members choose a topic they’re interested in studying. In the past, they’ve had discussions on ailments and possible remedies, tea tasting and workshops on how to make tinctures. During the last meeting, members learned to identify plants that they brought in.
“Sometimes we’ll focus on plants, sometimes healing and remedy,” Allen said.
Currently, the group is interested in doing herb walks, but they’re still looking for a good location.
Allen said people are often unsure of herbalism as a topic, especially if they’ve had a bad experience in the past.
“People should understand there’s an alternative out there ... if pharmaceuticals aren’t fitting the bill,” Allen said.
She said that medicines react with everyone differently, and mainstream medicine can leave people disenfranchised.
Herbal alternatives, she said, may take longer to work but often do less damage in the long run than pharmaceuticals. They are also free and globally available.
“Herbalism tries to take a holistic view of the remedy and the body,” Allen said.