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Become a Self Taught Herbalist:

Recently on a podcast I frequently listen to (The Survival Podcast) the host of the show suggested the following system for learning herbalism independently:

For a year choose one herb a week and learn about it for a few minutes every day according to the following instructions:

1 herb a week

6 days a week

For 1 year

Day 1: What does this herb do?

Day 2: In what form should it be used?

Day 3: Where do you get it? How to grow it?

Day 4+5: Learn about 2 unknowns that came up from days 1-3

Day 6: Practice applications for the herb.

This slow and accumulative learning is a methodical way to gain a lot of knowledge.

I will start with a very common herb here in Israel:

Biblical Hyssop Majorana syriaca

Day 1: What does this herb do?

It contains Essential oils (thymol, carvacrol, monoterpene glucosides, gamma-terpinene, alpha-pinene, beta-myrcene, o-cymene p-cymene), Phenolic compounds, Tannins, Arbutin, Methyl arbutin.

Primary herbal actions:

Expectorant: supports the respiratory system by assisting it to remove excess mucus

Spasmolytic Respiratory: stops spasmodic coughs

Antitussive: cough suppressant

Carminative: promotes the expulsion of gas and soothe the stomach, supports healthy digestion

Antifungal: Kills fungus

Antiseptic: Prevents or eliminates sepsis (infectious destructive condition of tissue)

Antibacterial: Helps the body's immune system to destroy or resist the proliferation of pathogenic microbes.

Anti-inflammatory: Combats extensive occurrence of inflammation. Remember a degree of inflammation is a necessary part of healing.

Antihelminthic: Anthelmintics or anthelmintics are a group of antiparasitic drugs that expel parasitic worms (helminths) and other internal parasites from the body by either stunning or killing them and without causing significant damage to the host.

Secondary herbal actions:

Peripheral circulatory stimulant



Mild astringent



Immune boosting, Purifying, Stimulating, Causes motion, flow, Strengthens, Dry energy

Gets a digestive system going, speeds up metabolism.

It has a more gentle effect than other plants in the Lamiaceae family, doesn’t elevate pulse, cause sweating or elevated body temperature.

Useful in treating respiratory issues: coughing: reflexive coughs, strider cough, breathlessness. Useful in treating inflammation and infection in the upper and lower respiratory systems.

Traditionally used to treat chronic or recurring respiratory symptoms.

Useful in treating problems in the digestive system: worms, bloating, gas, constipation, nausea and cleansing the digestive system.

Day 2: In what form should it be used?

Infused in olive oil for use in the kitchen.

Zaatar Spice Mix: dried ground hyssop with sumac and sesame seeds.

Infuse vinegar for an immune boosting vinaigrette.

Dry leaves are better in teas for internal use.

In cases of mucus in the respiratory system massage chest and back with the infused oil.

To relieve sinus discomfort lightly massage forehead and nose with the infused oil.

To relieve stomach pains, bloating and gas, lightly massage abdomen with the infused oil.

Use an aromatic bath of hyssop for babies with colds and respiratory discomfort and coughs.

Mouthwash for infection in gums.

Use with tyme, white laced savory, sage, echinacea root, and black sambuk blossoms, marshmallows root to make a tea for infections and inflammation in the lower respiratory system.

Use with savory of Crete, three-lobed sage, Dominican sage, sage, fennel seeds and cinnamon on making a tea for poor nourishment absorption, with an infectious tendency.

Day 3: Where to get it? How to grow it?

It can be foraged in the wild in Middle eastern temperate zones.

Easily grown in pot or soil in Mediterranean climates.

Day 4: Learn about 2 unknowns that came up from days 1-3.

Stridor Cough: Stridor (Latin for "creaking or grating noise") is a high-pitched breath sound resulting from turbulent airflow in the larynx or lower in the bronchial tree. It is different from a stertor which is a noise originating in the pharynx. Stridor is a physical sign which is caused by a narrowed or obstructed airway. It can be inspiratory, expiratory or biphasic, although it is usually heard during inspiration. Inspiratory stridor often occurs in children with croup. It may be indicative of serious airway obstruction from severe conditions such as epiglottitis, a foreign body lodged in the airway, or a laryngeal tumor. Stridor should always command attention to establish its cause. Visualization of the airway by medical experts equipped to control the airway may be needed


Metal element: The fourth phase of the Chinese philosophical five elements theory. Metal is yin in character, it’s motion is inward and its energy is contracting. It is associated with the autumn, the west, old age, the planet Venus, the color white, and dry weather.


Zaatar: A traditional spice mix made with biblical hyssop, sumac, sesame seeds, and salt.

Dabah: A zaatar and olive oil mix, used as a dip for bread or vegetables.

Immune boosting serum: Infuse a light oil such as grape seed oil with hyssop leaves. Mix with eucalyptus-infused oil and add essential oils.

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