Nicholas Zemp is a Clinically Certified Western & Chinese Herbalist, educator, aromatherapist, and avid naturalist and gardener. He is the founder of Grey Mountain Herbs and Director of the Grey Mountain Herbs School of Botanical Medicine.
Growing up close to nature in Southeastern Idaho, Nick has always loved the outdoors and been fascinated by the Earth’s natural abundance and innate intelligence. At the age of 15 he (precociously) threw off modern medicines and began to voraciously devour any book regarding herbal medicine and natural therapies he could find. After moving to Oregon at the age of 18 and volunteering on a medicinal herb farm, he devoted himself to an herbal healing path. In 2007, he received a Traditional Western Herbalist Certificate from the Appalachian School of Holistic Herbalism, and in 2010 received an Advanced Chinese Herbalist Certificate from the Institute of Chinese Herbology. Nick continues to educate himself and others in the wonders of botanical medicine and Gaian consciousness.
~Extensive personal home study on natural healing and medicinal herbs 1995-2006
~ Farm Internship on small family owned herb farm, Sisters, OR. 2000
~Appalachian School of Holistic Herbalism -100 hours in the study of Fundamentals of Herbalism- herbal ethics, medicine making, herbal energetics 2006
~Appalachian School of Holistic Herbalism -400 hours in the Advanced study of Herbalism- botanical identification & wildcrafting, clinical evaluation and diagnostic skills, materia medica, permaculture, anatomy and physiololgy, herbal formulations, and treatment protocols. 2007
~Head Herbal Pharmacist for Golden Needle Acupuncture, Herbal & Medical Supply -herbal formulating and compounding, running a full service Chinese herbal apothecary. 2007-2009
~Chinese Herbal Internship with Dr. Yu J. Liang -50 hours in botany, materia medica, organoleptic identification and evaluation, growth parameters, and herbal preparations. San Francisco 2008
~Institute of Chinese Herbology -125 hours of Comprehensive Chinese Herbalist Training. 2009
~Institute of Chinese Herbology -132 hours of Advanced Chinese Herbalist Training. 2010
~Institute of Chinese Herbology -60 hours of Clinical Chinese Herbalist Training. 2010
~Level 1 graduate of Floracopeia’s Aromatherapy Foundations Program -60 hours in the study of fundamental principles of Aromatherapy, Ayurvedic applications of aromatic medicines, clinical evaluation & aromatic treatments. 2012
~Level 2 student of Floracopeia’s Advanced Aromatherapy Certification Progam -150 hours in the study of advanced principles of Aromatherapy, Chinese applications of aromatic medicines, advanced botany and biochemistry of aromatic plants, aromatic business practices. Present
~Utah Valley University BS in Biochemistry, BS in Botany (double major) – 2011-Present
What was it that first got you interested in natural healing ad herbal medicine?
Ever since I can remember I have been fascinated with plants and
mushrooms. As a child my mother always had a plethora of House plants
that I used to take my toys and play in. I’m sure my love of plants
started there but it only grew as I got older. I remember walking
through parks and natural areas and being able to spot the lowliest
mushrooms growing amongst the leaf litter and grass. What finally
pointed me toward herbal medicine though was a documentary I saw on
pbs when I was 14 or 15.
It was on African sleeping sickness and how the pharmaceutical
companies were blocking effective treatments from being disbursed to
poor Africans. I was infuriated and decided then and there that I
would no longer support the pharmaceutical industry. My one person
crusade lasted until I was 28 and was hospitalized with a spinal cord
injury. Between that documentary and that fateful night in January not
a single prescription drug or OTC crossed my tongue
When did you decide that you wanted to practice herbal medicine full time?
When I was 18 I was living in Sisters, Oregon and two of my close
friends lived on a medicinal herb farm. I would go out to the farm and
spend the afternoon learning about the different benefits of various
plants and helping out in the greenhouse. I kept spending more and
more time there and learning more and more as they put me to work
doing various farm tasks. It was on their farm that I finally realized
that the plants had been calling me for many years
Do you have a favorite herb?
This is a tough one. I have so many favorites! Hahaha! I would say
overall my favorite herbs are the ones that most people (or commerce)
pay little attention too. I particularly love weeds like plantain,
dandelion, and violets. They are not overly showy or particularly
famous for anything great, but they are powerhouses in an herbalists
apothecary. Geez, I want to just keep listing amazing herbs!
What do you feel is the deepest healing wisdom?
I believe that spiritual wisdom is where we touch the deepest
levels of healing. With our spirits we touch universe around us and
breathe it into life. I love it because it is both utterly
incomprehensible, yet innate in all living beings. It is from
spiritual wisdom that all other wisdom is born. Here we not only touch
the psyche, but we can influence each cell in our bodies as well. This
is where I believe all healing comes from.
Tell us about a profound moment of healing that you have experienced?
I have had many profound healing moments, but one of my favorites
is one that I truly wasn’t expecting. Not long after starting my
healer’s path I found myself living in Salt Lake City, Utah. I was
looking for ways to deepen my knowledge and was contemplating
attending massage school. I wasn’t overly interested in becoming a
massage therapist, but I felt that it would be a good tool to have in
my tool bag. While I was investigating the Utah College of Massage
Therapy the admissions officer gave me a few free gift certificates to
try out their student clinic. She raved about a particular therapy I
have never heard about known as Craniosacral Therapy. I figured I
would give it a shot.
The experience itself was sublime; subtle, yet it tapped into the
deepest level of my energetic body and gave me a profound sense of
wellbeing. I’ll never forget that experience. I sincerely hope that
the student who worked on me realizes the amazing gift she has!
Do you feel that herbal practitioners should be required to be licensed through the state?
Ultimately my answer is yes, however it is a tricky topic that
requires an in depth look. I look at the landscape of healers working
with herbs and see two different types of practitioners. One is the
small community/family herbalist that treats members of their
immediate community and isn’t using their practice as a primary source
of income. The other is a practitioner that has a clinic, treats a
broad range of conditions with more potent herbal extracts such as
those that are currently available to licensed practitioners; and uses
their clinic as a primary source of income.
The second practitioner I believe should be licensed. It not only
would clearly demonstrate a common minimum level of
education/experience; but also add credibility to our healing form,
and another layer of protection for the general public.
There will always be community/family herbalists, and I firmly believe
there should be! I do see the tide changing though and I feel that
eventually some kind of licensure will be required. My only hope is
that when that time comes members of our community are asked to direct
how those laws are written and applied.
What do you think the role of natural medicine is in today's ever changing world?
I believe that natural medicine is the deeper more universal healing
truth. After having the life experiences I’ve had though I recognize
the validity and value of conventional western medicine. I believe
that most long term and chronic illnesses respond better to natural
therapies. Acute and life threatening illnesses should be treated with
western more heroic interventions.
Who are some natural healers that you look up to?
Geez there are so many, but I would say those that I have had the
chance to learn from personally and directly are those closest to my
heart- Frank Cook, Ceara Foley, Jade Shutes, David Crow, JaiDev
Singh… many of my classmates- Sam Gahagan, Alyssa Rieser, Jessica
Smith… & those who have enriched the field with their wisdom & have
had a deep influence on me- James Green, David Winston, Stephen
Buhner, Dr. Vasant Lad, & Bob Flaws
Do you have a teacher that really inspired you? What did they do that was so unique?
When I was studying at ASHH our TCM and materia medica teacher,
Jessica Godino, really inspired me and confirmed that I was on a path
with heart. She infused every lecture with deep wisdom by starting
every lecture with a short meditation, creating a sacred space in
which to learn. Her enthusiasm and passion for healing was infectious
and I will always be grateful for the experience of learning from her.
10. Healing starts within oneself. As my ear friend and colleague,
Tyler Wauters says, “You must be the medicine.” There is a deep and
profound truth to this saying, and it is tht wisdom that I strive to
impart to my students.
What do you feel is the most essential lesson you want your students to know?
Healing starts within oneself. As my ear friend and colleague,
Tyler Wauters says, “You must be the medicine.” There is a deep and
profound truth to this saying, and it is that wisdom that I strive to
impart to my students.
Do you have any books that you recommend?
There are so many wonderful books about so many great topics out
there it would be impossible to name them all. A few that are
noteworthy though are:
The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants by Andrew Chevallier
The New Holistic Herbal by David Hoffman
Bensky & Gamble’s Materia Medica (vol. 2 of two volume set) by Dan
Bensky and Andrew Gamble
The Yoga of Herbs by David Frawley and Vasant Lad
Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina and Stress Relief by David
Winston and Stephan Maimes
Botany in a Day by Thomas J Elpel