How did you become interested in clinical herbalism?
What set me on the road to holistic medicine
was my involvement in martial arts, which I started when I
was 9 years old. I had very classical teachers that believed
the fighting arts had to be paired with the healing arts,
otherwise you would be ineffective at both. I got introduced
to herbal medicine when I was 14 or 15, and soon after I
discovered yoga and Hinduism. From there I began to study
Ayurveda. When I was around 17 I met a spiritual healer from
South Africa and I studied with her for two summers. She
taught me a lot more about Ayurveda and herbal medicine, and
she was a very influential force in my life.
I never really thought of making herbal
medicine a career. As a kid, I just grew up with it as a
fact of life. I would drink teas and make incense and things
like that; all of my friends thought I was weird, but I was
kind of a pioneer with my Hopewell, New Jersey peers.
Then I started working at a health food store,
and learned a lot more about supplements, nutrition, and
herbal medicine. I attended David Winton's lectures at
Herbalist & Alchemist about once a month for a couple of
years and I became very interested in the field. While I was
in acupuncture school I took his two-year herbal training
program followed by the one-year graduate course. I did four
years of Oriental medical school including Chinese herbal
medicine and Japanese herbal medicine, and that led me to
where I am now. I opened up a practice six years ago. Even
before that I was treating people with herbs, and as a
teenager I would advise people of things they could do to
help themselves with various ailments.
So working at a health food store led to your formal herbal training?
Yes, the store carried the Herbalist &
Alchemist product line and I started experimenting with the
products on myself. I loved the feel of them. I noticed that
when people used them they got better, quickly. I saw a
dramatic improvement in customers' results. I found out from
the H&A newsletter that David taught classes. I went to one
of them and he talked about his philosophies on life and
medicine. I remember thinking, “Oh my gosh, that is what I
have been thinking my whole life!” It resonated with me so
much that I took his program as soon as I could. It changed
my life. I will say this: I believe I learned more in his
two-year program than I did in four years of Oriental
medicine school. Many clinically useful techniques I use now
came out of his program. Because of my early experiences
with the effectiveness of Herbalist & Alchemist tinctures,
they are the only ones I use in my practice.
As for my formal training, I am an
acupuncturist and eclectic herbalist. I am trained in four
different styles of acupuncture that I weave together,
similar to herbal medicine and nutrition. I was trained by
David in his eclectic practice that combines Chinese herbal
medicine, Cherokee herbal medicine and traditions from
Europe and the Americas. I combined those with what I
learned about Ayurveda earlier in my life. I use tools from
a number of different traditions, including bodywork from a
variety of modalities such as tuina, shiiatsu and reiki. I
recently finished a nursing degree and will be starting work
on a nurse practitioner degree so I can add Western medicine
to my treatment modalities.
You are also one of the teachers in David's two-year herbal training program, correct?
I teach the TCM module and sometimes students
come to shadow me in my practice. I do one-on-one tutoring
and case studies. I also do clinical supervision and case
studies for physicians and other herbal practitioners around
the country when they want to understand more about herbs
and what their clients are using.