Herbal Education At The Academy: Food As Medicine

Herbal Education At The Academy: Food As Medicine | Growing Up Herbal | Interested in going to herbal school? Here's a sneak peek at the Herbal Academy's Intermediate herbal course!

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” – Hippocrates

So far in the Herbal Education At The Academy blog series I’ve shared my reasons for choosing HA as the place to further my herbal education, and I’ve shared a bit of information about my first month’s study on herbal foundations there.

Today, I want to introduce you to the second unit of study which is all about food as medicine.

As most of you know, herbal medicine is effective, but if you don’t add in a healthy diet along with it, herbs can be very limited in what they can do for you. Sure they can help you get over minor illnesses, but if you neglect your body and you don’t provide it with the nutrients it needs to be strong and healthy on its own, herbs can only do so much.

Food As Medicine

What I Studied

The second unit in the Online Intermediate Herbal Course is all about herbs, food and diet and it covers some of the following topics.

  • pantry/kitchen herbs (spices)
  • growing your own herbs
  • seasonal eating
  • making vinegars, oils, honeys, oxymels, syrups, cordials, and electuaries
  • foraging and wildcrafting wild foods
  • how to create a materia medica

I love that this was one of the first lessons HANE offers to its students because diet is so key to health. Before herbs… your diet must be in order. I can’t stress this enough!

Interesting Things I Learned

Now for the most part, when it comes to food, I feel like I’m doing pretty well in this area. I’m a big fan of feeding my family a real food diet, I’m all for the wisdom of eating with the seasons, I’m inspired to learn more about wildcrafting and foraging for herbs and wild-eatables, and I love making food and medicine in my kitchen. Nonetheless, there were some areas that I could improve on so let me share 3 of those things with you below.

  1. Right off the bat I realized that when it came to preparing healthy meals for my family, I didn’t use enough herbs. Sure I made the occasional recipe that called for some spices here and there (like an Indian chicken soup with curry), but after reviewing this lesson, I’m definitely inspired to making sure that I use more herbs and spices in all the meals I prepare for my family. Maybe that will be by adding more spices to our foods as they’re being prepared, but it can also be by using herbal oils, syrups, and honeys as well. Why use more herbs? Not only do herbs increase the flavors of our foods, but they add nutrients and help our body absorb nutrients better as well. Why on earth would you not want to use these amazing plants in all your food?
  2. I also realized that although I do some things to eat seasonally, there’s a lot more I could be doing to improve in this area. Not only does eating with the seasons provide our bodies with a wide range of foods, but it connects us with the rhythms of nature… those seasons that God designed for us to go through. It’s also important to note that following seasonal rhythms can be applied to more areas than eating. It can flow into daily living, exercise routines, gardening, cleaning our homes, how we use herbs to keep our bodies healthy, and more!
  3. I’ve also learned the importance of creating a materia medica as a way to keep up with all the information I have on herbs. Up until this point I have books and notes… and of course what’s in my head, but let’s be real here. I’m busy, and I can’t recall every single thing about every single herb I’ve studied. So, I’ve started a notebook that will be where I keep all of my information at. It’s a three-ring binder with A-Z tabs in it. From there, as I study an herb, I’ll take notes or gather info and recipes and file them under the appropriate section. We’ll see how it goes!

A Recipe To Share

The following recipe is from the eating seasonally section of this unit, and it’s based in the season of summer. Now, depending upon your location the following information may or may not apply to you. If it doesn’t apply to you, read through it anyway because I’m sure you’ll learn something.

Summer is hot and active. We don’t have to worry so much about where food is coming from because it’s growing abundantly all around us. We also don’t have to worry about staying as warm since summer months are the warmest of the year. It’s the time where more people eat less meat and more raw foods, and people tend to weigh less during summer months than winter months because energy levels are higher.

The following recipe is for a cool summer drink that you’re sure to enjoy on a nice, hot, sunny day!

Hibiscus-Clove Cooler
Shared with permission from The Herbal Academy


  • 1/2 – 1 lime – sliced or juiced
  • 4-6 hibiscus ice cubes
  • cold water
  • tiny pinch of clove powder
  • dash of sweetener or 1-2 fruit ice cubes (optional)


  1. Add lime slices or squeeze desired amount of juice into a tall glass.
  2. Add sweetener/fruit cubes if desired.
  3. Pour cold water over contents.
  4. Stir in tiny pinch of powdered clove.

So there you go! This is what I’ve learned from my second month in the Online Intermediate Herbal Course from the Herbal Academy. Feel free to click through to see if their school is a good fit for you. They currently have a beginners course and an intermediate course with an advanced course underway!

Do you have any questions or comments about what I’ve shared with you here today? If so, feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section below and I’ll answer your questions in next month’s post!
  1. linda spiker says:

    I agree. herbs are great and so are supplements but if your diet is awful and inflammatory they can’t do their job:(

  2. Megan Stevens says:

    Such a good point. Food nourishes us. Herbs help to balance. Love the inspiring photo at the top. 🙂

  3. Jessica says:

    Great, great point! We need a balance.

  4. Renee says:

    GREAT points. Definitely need a good balance!

  5. Emily @ Recipes to Nourish says:

    Really great points! Love the hibiscus-clove cooler recipe too, it sounds delicious!

  6. Chloe @ How We Flourish says:

    Wonderful. The body needs a good foundation to get the best results.

  7. Andrea Fabry says:

    I have found food to be my medicine over the years after a health crash. Herbs offer great support during the process of healing.

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