Tips for Beginning Herbalists: Record Keeping and Organization

The one thing I have found the most  important out of everything during my journey -outside of good sources, and lots of study and practice- is record keeping. 

It sounds boring, but I cannot stress how important it is to write down, from personal trial and error with plants, to herbal properties, to book lists; everything should at least be printed out or written down, and I cannot tell you how much I regret not writing down some things long ago when I first started.

The easiest way I’ve personally found for organization and record keeping involves a few things: A printer; lots of printer paper and a decent supply of ink (if you’d rather print things instead of hand write them); at least 2, 3 ring binders; spiral notebooks (as needed); a hole punch; and, of course, writing utensils.

For my own personal collection, I’ve organized my Herbalism notes into three distinct categories.

The first one is simply my Herbal information; I keep my lists of herb uses, properties, and safety warning in a black binder, which is further divided into three categories: General information on herbal medicine; Bibliography, Terminology, Classifications, etc.; and spread sheets that are similar to chemical MSDS’.

Not all of it’s hand written. A lot of it was printed off from web sources, or typed up by hand and then printed, punched, and added to the binder; I printed out every single herb and it’s information from Annie’s Remedies. Their database is inconclusive, by far, but it’s still an extensive database, and it’s easier than sorting through all of my notes. This entire notebook serves as more of a “quick reference” for me when I can’t remember properties, need basic information on history, etc.

The second binder is my Recipes. This notebook came from a program I signed up for when I was younger. Unfortunately it was “pay to continue” and I didn’t finish it. The notebook now houses all of my remedies, information on remedy types, treatment and dosage information, etc. It’s always good to have these separated out as a quick reference for when you’re making things.

And lastly, there is my Journal. These are really more “as needed”, but I do highly suggest keeping them, or at least digital records. Especially when you’re first starting out; I literally write everything down in here. Recipes I experiment with, my personal physical / mental reactions to different plants or recipes, notes to remind myself to study certain plants, or research different things more. Random notes to add to materials in either or my other books, and so on.

Keeping detailed records and information can go a long way in helping you build your knowledge. This is especially true since we tend to forget knowledge that we don’t use often, and you never know when you’ll suddenly need it again in the Herbal world.

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