If you're confused as to which herb to use with what food, which herbs you can grow indoors or out, is it peppermint or spearmint you use in cooking or numerous other questions, I can help you.
Let me introduce myself - my name is Liz Alderson, I live in Chatham, Kent, UK and I've been editor of this site since 2005. I have a YouTube channel (Herb Guide TV) where I answer some of the questions that are sent in to me, by demonstrating how to make basic herbal remedies, herbal cosmetics, household cleaning products and how to grow and cook with herbs.
I have two levels of the Herbal Academy of New England Herbal Medicine course and in 2019, I embarked on a Bachelor of Science degree in Clinical Herbalism - watch this space!
Update 4th July 2020 - I have just heard that I've passed my Herbal Medicine exams for the first year. Don't know the mark yet, but it's a pass!!! Anatomy and Physiology results awaited. :-) Update - I got 91% in my Anatomy and Physiology and 92% in my Herbal Medicine :-) I am so happy to have got through that.
I'd love to be able to tell a tale of how I learned about herbs at my grandmother's knee, but sadly, I didn't, so I can't. However, I did get a love for cookery, crafts and making things from her, she was so talented, so maybe she did set me on my way.
That's my nan and grandad in the photo below - Nellie and Lewis.
I've been interested in gardening and cooking since I was very young. I used to help my dad in the garden and like a lot of children, cut my teeth on a packet of radish seeds and marigolds. Growing stuff was amazing!
Likewise, with the cooking - my nan taught me a lot and I was keen to have a go even as young as four or five years old. I'd stand on a chair and she'd let me help her mix cakes, make pastry and prepare dinner. My dad was a good cook too. My mum not so good... she likes to eat but cooking bores her.
When I first left home to get married in 1976, my husband Chris and I had a ground floor flat in a house in Loughborough, Leicestershire. The small back garden was divided into 2 – one part for each flat. It was a real mess as nobody had bothered to look after it for years.
The first spring in our flat, I bought some grow kits to use in our half of the garden and began to turn over the garden soil.
I planted the seeds in the little plastic propagators on the kitchen windowsill and marvelled as they grew.
The wonder of eating things that I’ve grown from seed never ceases to amaze me – I remember the first year’s crop tomatoes, brussel sprouts, potatoes and tiny cauliflowers. I looked into the dark green leaves of the cauliflower plants and could see tiny white curds growing – it was magic!
The tomatoes weren’t too bad – we’d had a very hot summer and they ripened well outdoors – and we had a few Sunday dinners from the potatoes, cauliflowers and sprouts.
The following year Chris and I bought a house a few miles away in Shepshed, Leicestershire. It had a large garden, but I just did a bit of general maintenance and looked after what was there – he died in November 1978, three months after we’d moved in (just 24 years old with cancer) and the garden went on the back burner.
The next winter, I moved again to a shop I’d bought in Worskop, Nottinghamshire – I started gardening the following spring and began to grow herbs. I’ve grown herbs for my own use since about 1980.
I’d become a more sophisticated cook and the thought of having my own herbs growing outside my kitchen door really appealed.
I started with sage, rosemary, thyme, chives, mint and parsley. It was about then that I began to use herbs as my home medicine chest - mint for an upset stomach, thyme for cystitis and spots, sage for a cough, rosemary as a hair rinse.
Nothing beats being able to pull a few leaves or snip some herb garnish - it always used to impress guests!
I got really busy in the shop and the garden was made over to easy maintenance apart from my little herb garden – herbs don’t take a lot of looking after – you prune them naturally by using them and once they’re established, they just need keeping in check. I let the parsley self seed and just kept it in check.
My mum and dad joined me in 1980 and we bought the fruit and veg shop next door - photos below. We expanded that a bit later into a fishmongers. (I edit another site find-a-seafood-recipe.com)
For years, I have managed to avoid medical doctors. If I ever had a problem, I treated it at home. Peppermint for an upset stomach, sage in honey for a sore throat, thyme cough syrup, garlic, lemon and honey for cold symptoms and elderberry tincture to boost my immune system. My son is the same - he never ailed anything beyond the normal childhood illnesses and is strong and healthy.
We have always had good health and I attribute it to the fact that I treat food as medicine. I use herbs and spices every day in my cooking, I rarely eat anything processed and I avoid stress as much as possible. I stopped drinking coffee some time ago and moved over to herbal teas. Chamomile is one of my regular brews.
Around 2000, I started a job at a Children's Home and the Director there was very much into alternative therapies. We used Bach Flower Remedies and Homeopathy frequently, but my interest was with herbal remedies.
I read more and more about it and in time, I took courses. Two with The Herbal Academy of New England (I have written in depth about their Introductory course here) and their Intermediate Herbal Medicine course. As of September 2019, doing a BSc degree in Clinical Herbalism at Lincoln College, in the UK. This is a course which is registered with NIMH - the National Institute for Medical Herbalists which is the largest body of herbalists in the UK.
I did a residential course on Herbal First Aid in Dorset with 7Song from the Northeast School of Botanical Medicine, Ithica.
I have studied the Science of Nutrition and Issues in Complementary and Alternative Medicine with the Open University.
I attended a course at the RHS in Making Herbal Medicines at Home.
I've got a YouTube Channel (Herb Guide TV) where I demonstrate many herbal techniques, how to make simple remedies, cosmetics, natural cleaning products and cook using herbs. Check it out - if there's something you'd like me to demonstrate, please drop me an email.
On the website, I concentrate on what is termed 'simple' remedies, which generally means one herb mixtures.
A Medicinal Herbalist will make you a prescription of several different herbs for your condition. They will take an in depth medical history, examine you and come to a conclusion based on 'herbal energetics', which matches you, the person, with the condition and the properties of the herbs. That is beyond the scope of this website as I could not see you face to face to discuss.
I write a newsletter - Herb Guide News - I cover various topics and if you subscribe, you will get a free 2 part eCourse 8 Culinary Herbs.
I also have a Facebook page with over 5000 members if you'd like to join me there at The Herb Guide
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