Introduction: Herbs are for Hippies

I have developed a recent fascination with herbs and their medicinal use. I have always been a fan of fresh herbs in cooking, but had never thought to explore their health benefits. Admittedly, part of me was like, “that stuff’s for hippies and wizards.” And I might have continued believing that, spending the rest of my life happily addicted to ibuprofen and Tylenol PM. Lucky for me, I had a hippy-magician deliver my first baby.

I should clarify: I had my son at a hospital with doctors and machines and all that, but my go-to provider was a nurse-midwife. She had long silver hair and turquoise bracelets and was otherwise charming and magical and probably wore purple velvet robes in her spare time. Anyway, long story short: I was complaining of insomnia and restless legs, which had plagued me for the last part of my pregnancy. The magic midwife lady clasped her hands together and said, “Ah! I make tinctures.” She went to a cabinet and pulled out a blue, stoppered bottle simply labeled “Sleep.” I took the potion home, feeling very excited about how awesome it looked in its little blue bottle, like I could put a few drops on my head and turn invisible. I was less optimistic about it having any effect on my sleep whatsoever.

But you know where this is headed. I wouldn’t be writing this blog if I had been let down at my first encounter. That night, I opened the blue bottle and took a whiff-not unpleasant. It smelled floral and faintly alcoholic, like vanilla extract. According to the midwife wizard’s instructions, I put a dropperful into a small glass of water and drank it about thirty minutes before bed.

I woke up the next morning. To those of you out there who have ever been pregnant, you understand how miraculous that sentence is. “I woke up the next morning” is something you hear people say but have forgotten what it feels like. Pregnant women do not simply “fall asleep and wake up the next morning.” A typical night goes kind of like this: you wake up an hour later to pee; two hours after that you stagger around with raging charlie horses in your calves; an hour after that, you have to pee again. The rest of the night, you prop yourself with and cry intermittently into the body pillows you spent way too much money on.

This is where my love affair with plants began. It could very well have been placebo effect, but that phenomenon typically occurs when a person thinks they are being given real, effective medicine. I was under the impression I was being given flavored water and good vibes. So that could only mean one thing: whatever was in that potion worked, and I was going to find out what it was. And so began my quest. And after nearly six months of exploration, study, and honestly having the most fun I’ve had in awhile, I find myself thinking that maybe the hippies and wizards are on to something.

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