How did you first come to study herbal medicine, and what teachers have inspired you?
So many wonderful teachers come to mind!
I was fortunate to grow up with a wonderful grandmother, whose gardens flourished under her loving watch. She had an amazing relationship with plants, often bringing unhealthy plants back to abundant health. I also witnessed my grandmother work with people in restoring health through educating them about mindful thinking and offering reiki healing sessions. I am grateful for her guidance over the years. Incorporating herbal medicine into my life was really just part of my foundation with my grandmother.
I am so grateful I was able to study with another teacher, David Winston, for 4 years. Every single class was such a joy for me as he explored the many ways plants can support us.
Horses have been my master teachers, helping me to expand my knowledge so I could help them. They have a unique way of mirroring your inner self and are so generously forgiving with their spirits.
I am grateful for all my teachers who have supported me and continue to support me.
Describe the path of your herbalist practice. Did you start with people and add horses later? How did that evolve??
I love to learn and am an avid seeker of knowledge. My favorite past time is curling up with a good herb book and a cup of tea. I have studied many healing modalities including herbal medicine to support others in balanced wellness.
Horses are such an integral part of my life, I have always included them in my studies. Guardians and their horses are so intertwined, often mirroring each other’s physical and mental conditions, so supporting both parties in wellness makes sense to me. This led me to found EquiBotanical to empower others and restore balance in mind and body through traditional uses of our plant allies and mindful thinking.
What conditions do you see in horses that herbs are particularly well suited to address? Can you share a couple of anecdotes?
Horses can benefit from herbal support for many issues. So many horses lead stressful lives, eating highly processed diets, traveling, living in stalls, minimal or no turnout on grass or the freedom to just be. With that stress many horses have GI issues and benefit from diet changes such as hay 24/7 and herbal support so they can be more comfortable.
Horses are unique in that they constantly produce hydrochloric acid due to the fact that they are trickle eaters or browsers. In the wild they walk as much as 20 miles eating a variety of plant life as they move. So, when horses are confined and then only given hay two or three times daily, the ulcers form rather quickly throughout the gastrointestinal tract.
For example, I had one client contact me because her horse had been having diarrhea for two years and unfortunately conventional medicine had not been able to help. With diet changes and the correct herbs addressing his dampness and stomach ulcers, he was finally having normal manure within a short period of time.
Another horse experienced arthritic changes in one of his knees; with changes to his diet along with supportive herbs he is much more comfortable now.
Each horse is unique in the way they experience an issue. This requires herbs along with diet changes that focus on bringing them back in balance. Once a horse’s issues are addressed, they feel more comfortable in their body, which often creates sometimes dramatic improvements in behavior. I feel so many horses suffer silently and many behavior issues are rooted in physical or emotional pain.
How accepting is the veterinary medical community of herbal medicine?
Many equine veterinarians have started including acupuncture and herbs into their practice because the clients are requesting this service. Two organizations that support herbal medicine in the veterinary community are the Veterinary Botanical Medicine Association (VBMA) and the College of Integrative Veterinary Therapies (CIVT). Both organizations offer webinars and education to members that promote responsible herbal practice.
Many horse guardians take herbal medicine into their own hands with mixed results. I noticed that current books on herbal medicine for horses do not include the energetics of the herbs, which led me to write a book with my coauthor Stacey Small. We named the book Equine Herbal and Energetics with the goal to educate the many horse guardians looking for ways to support their horses.