What was it that first got you interested in natural healing ad herbal medicine?
I was fortunate to grow up in a family that valued time outdoors and a connection to nature. My childhood summers were spent on our family farm in Appalachia, and I have wonderful sensorial memories of days spent in the woods among the pines with my grandparents, learning to ID trees and flowers. My entire life I felt a calling as a healer, and in my early twenties I discovered plant medicine was the conduit through which I would do that work. When I was 22 I got a job as a massage therapist and acupuncturist’s assistant after the hiring manager at the Chinese Acupuncture Clinic in Asheville read my aura and recognized that I was a healer. Under the mentorship of several amazing acupuncturists I learned about TCM, nutrition, acupuncture and it’s adjunctive therapies, and how to formulate therapeutic essential oil blends and teas. Seeing the impact these natural remedies and the practitioner-client relationship had on healing individuals inspired me to deeper, becoming an herbalist and a registered dietitian.
When did you decide that you wanted to practice herbal medicine full time?
After finishing graduate school (for nutrition) I realized I was an herbalist first, and a dietitian second. Meaning my philosophies on nutrition and healing is very much informed by the Vitalist approach I was trained in. I can’t imagine practicing one skill set without the other. No herbal intervention is complete with a good nutritional foundation.
What do you feel is the deepest healing wisdom?
Rosemary Gladstar says this best: “You make life beautiful so that people want to live. Beauty is what brings us back to wellness, what makes us want to be healthy and vital.” This is so important….medicine and healing protocols should bring people closer to their sensual nature, give pleasure, and make them feel good in their bodies.
Do you have a favorite herb?
Wild rose is a medicine that has been physically, spiritually, and psychologically profound for me. I also love turmeric; it’s been a game changer for several of my clients. And those delicious, sexy seaweeds of course! My favorite herbs are ones that can be incorporated into daily routines: seaweeds used in gomasio, cooking beans and grains, added to broth, and the bathwater. You can form a relationship with plants this way, and better receive the medicine.
Tell us about a profound moment of healing that you have experienced?
A couple years ago my partner Seven became extremely ill with a respiratory infection – the kind of scary illness where I stayed up night after night checking his temperature and breathing. He trusted me to treat him instead of seeking conventional medical care, though several times we considered going to the ER. This became the first time I was able to treat an acute illness successfully, using mostly local plants like skunk cabbage and wild cherry. I learned so much about how to enhance the body’s vital force and not suppress it, stage herbs as his healing progressed or stalled, and gained a lot of confidence in my ability to assess and treat a situation like this.
Do you feel that herbal practitioners should be required to be licensed through the state?
This is a difficult question. On the one hand, I believe strongly in keeping this path open to all people, not just those who can afford to run/attend a school and pay for the credentialing process. On the other, outside of seeking a Registered Herbalist through the AHG, there is no way to guarantee that you’re hiring a competent professional. I’m not sure I can adequately answer this question yet.
What do you think the role of natural medicine is in today’s ever changing world?
To reconnect us to the earth and the rhythms of the natural world that we have become so severed from.
Who are some natural healers that you look up to?
The herbal community in Asheville, where I began my training, is full of amazing healers: Ceara Foley, Juliet Blankespoor, CoreyPine Shane, and Doug Elliott to name a few. They all have very different approaches, but an immense respect for their ecosystem. They’re of it, not just utilizing it, and all are amazing teachers who’ve done so much to nurture other healers.
Do you have a teacher that really inspired you? What did they do that was so unique?
Frank Cook’s teaching around men’s health were transformational for me; it was through him that I began to realize their need for heart-centered medicine and healing the trauma inflicted upon the body by societal expectations. Suzanne Jordan once told me that the best medicine is the one someone will take, which opened me up to thinking more creatively about creating protocols that are realistic for each individual.
What do you feel is the most essential lesson you want your patients/students to know?
(1) That everyone, no matter what, has the capacity to heal. (2) That the best herbalists empower others to heal themselves.
Do you have any books that you recommend?
I love everything written by Rosemary Gladstar and Maya Tiwari, Botanical Medicine for Women’s Health by Aviva Romm, Ayurvedic Medicine by Sebastian Pole, Adaptogens in Medical Herbalism by Donny Yance, and the Plant Healer Magazine curated and edited by Kiva Rose.