Medicine Cats require a firm grounding in herb-lore. They must be able to not only identify herbs, but to gather them and preserve the medicinal powers they contain. To heal a medicine cat must have access to herbs, and to have access to herbs a medicine cat must provide for themselves. This means that a good knowledge in the theory one should apply to herbs is important, and will form the foundation of a Medicine Cat’s ability to heal his or her clanmates.
This document reflects the generalized knowledge that can be applied to most herbs. It should be noted that exceptions, such as plants that cannot be preserved and maintain viability, exist and must be taught carefully while undertaking the teaching process.
- In selecting leaves, one should be certain to select only those that are green and well filled with juices.
- One should also make certain to gather leaves prior to the flowering of a plant, for once in flower, the leaves are sapped of much of thier healing power.
- Leaves should be dried in full sun, so that the quick drying process preserves the healing powers.
- Leaves should be stored in loose piles in a dry, cool place. One should avoide compacting them into piles, and take care to remove any that rot, for when one rots, in can spread that condition to other leaves.
- Flowers shall be selected for thier good color and rich scent, both of which are indicators of thier power. One should also select those that appear in good health, and they must only be picked when both plant and flower are at thier prime.
- Flowers should be dried in full sun, so that the quick drying process may preserve the healing powers.
- Flowers should only be kept and used so long as the color and scent remain. Only so long as they retain these, do they also retain the healing powers for which they are to be collected.
- Seeds should be gathered as soon as they are ready to or have already fallen from the plant.
- Slow is the key to drying seeds. One should take care to begin the process in shade, and let them spend only a small ammount of time drying in the sun.
- Seeds can be stored very easily, and are less subject to damage than most other herb parts.
- Even though seeds will keep for a good many years, they are best if used durring the first year. It is always advisable to renew one’s stock yearly.
- One should take pains to select only those roots which are not rotted or worm eaten. Care should also be in making certain those selected are firm, not too soft nore hard. Roots which are over-soft have come to the end of their life and lack the strength of those in thier prime, while those that are too hard are mear kits and have not yet come into full strength.
- One is advised to gather roots in late spring, durring which the reiches growth of the plant is coming to a close.
- One should also gather roots only durring dry times, for the lack of extra moisture makes the preservation process quicker and more complete.
- Roots are to be dried in full sun. Those who have been both properly gathered and properly preserved may be stonred in a pile and remain potent for the majority of a year.
- Barks should be gathered in spring, just as the thaw sets in and the first water of the year runs within the tree. (this is also the prime time to find waters beneath the barks of trees).
- Barks are best used fresh, but may be dried carefully in the shade. This will preserve the medicinal power for the better part of a year.
- Barks shall be stored carefully away from moisture. Piles should not be made very high so that rot may be easily spotted.
Due to limitations of technology the Clan cats have a scant handful of techniques with which they prepare herbs.
- Consumption: The majority of herbs are dried in the sun and fed to patients.
- Poultice: The second most common preparation. Herbs are chewed and applied externally to the patient as a paste.
- Inhalation: The herbs are gently crushed so that they give off strong odors which the patient can be encouraged to inhale.
- Water/Juice: Some plants carry liquid in the flesh, which can be pressed out with paws and teeth and applied to parts of the patient.
Full information on preparation can be found in the dedicated document.