When learning to use herbs for heath issues, you must be aware that there are poisonous herbs lurking among the good herbs.
It is essential when gathering herbs for either food or medicine that you correctly identify the herb with absolute certainty and know to which use the particular plant may be put. There are many poisonous herbs which grow side by side or intertwined with food plants, and which can be very similar in appearance at either the leaf, the flower or the fruit stage. Along damp hedge rows the bright red berries of the black bryony, which are highly poisonous, can be mistaken for the wholesome fruits of the common hawthorn. Black bryony is a vigorous climber that will twine in clockwise fashion around the stems of hawthorn and its vivid berries will catch the eye.
Until you can be certain of identifying the plants, it would be sensible to buy your herbs from a reliable herbalist instead of gathering them yourself. Most recipes call for the fresh herb, but where it is not possible to buy these fresh herbs, you can use the dried plants with confidence. If the herb is gathered at the correct time of year, and carefully dried, the healing nature of the herb will not have been impaired. Dried herbs, however do have a comparatively short shelf life and contain little goodness after 6 to 7 months.
Many herbs are poisonous only if eaten to excess and great care must be taken at all times when dealing with these dubious healing plants. Some herbs are used for external treatment only and the instructions must be carefully carried out when using plants which might be violent in action even though they are not listed as poisonous. When using herbs for treating minor ailments, if any of the treatments should make you feel worse, then stop them at once. The following are poisonous herbs that should be avoided:
The Baneberry, the Black bryony, the Buttercup, the Columbine, the Common buckthorn, the Deadly nightshade, the Fool's parsley, the Foxglove, the Hemlock, the Henbane, the Ivy, the Laburnum, the Meadow saffron, the Mistletoe, the Monkshood, the Spindle tree, the White bryony, the White hellebore, the Woody nightshade, the Yew (the leaves and the berries)
The danger of self diagnosis and treatment cannot be stressed too highly and where there is obviously a serious condition, a doctor should always be consulted.