Brenda VanNatta is a licensed massage therapist (LMT) and a state certified bodywork therapist (ACBT) in PA and a graduate of Herbal Therapeutics School of Botanical Medicine. She has been in practice since 1997.
How did you first become interested in herbal medicine?
My 7th grade teacher, Mr. Young, provoked my interest in plants. I liked spending time outside with plants I was growing. I found this to be nurturing, so this was a natural transition. I found some books on herbal medicine and started my own education, after the birth of my first child, almost 30 years ago. He seemed to be sick often and visits to the pediatrician were unproductive; the prescribed medicines harmed instead of helping. My family thought I was crazy, but I knew I needed more information. I’d had personal experience with the ineffectiveness of conventional medicine since my childhood.
How did you find David’s herbal training program, and how has that impacted your career path?
I heard from our family chiropractor, Dr. John Murray, that David Winston was teaching herbal medicine. I called him the day before his next class started and was accepted. I think it was 1992, or 1993 in Broadway, NJ. I felt so blessed to be there, and amazed how I had survived without all this information! A whole new world (and career path) unfolded for me. I learned about Chinese medicine and sought out other holistic healing. I had my first shiatsu with Kerry Adams. WOW! I felt blessed again for meeting her through the herbal study group. I visited several schools and began my shiatsu training at the International School of Shiatsu. From the very first beginners weekend at ISS, which I believe was in 1993, I began practicing. I used my dining room with small children underfoot! In 1999 I opened Shiatsu For You, my home office, in the lower level of my raised ranch in Raubsville, PA. I still feel blessed to be on this journey. It changed my life!
How do you use herbal medicine in your practice?
Physical or emotional pain brings clients in for bodywork. A need for increased well- being can motivate clients to ask me what else they can do to help themselves. I do consultations and/ or suggest lifestyle changes. Sometimes David’s ready-made formulas are used. I rely on mostly eye and tongue diagnostics for triune formulas. Shiatsu can give me clues for determining my client’s priorities.
If any of your clients do not have previous experience with herbs, what kind of reception do you get when you recommend it? How does that change with their experience, if it does?
I wait until they ask. I always respect the choice they make when it comes to using prescriptions or herbal medicine. Many people are taking prescriptions. Sometimes bodywork alone is very helpful. Simple changes in diet or lifestyle with a few supplements can have profound results. Some changes happen gradually, such as increased immune or digestive function. Sometimes the changes are seen in blood test results, like white blood count, or cholesterol levels. Managing chronic conditions with herbal medicine can keep people from needing prescriptions, saving them from the side effects.
What inspires you most in your practice?
I used to think I was helping people. Now I believe it may be the other way around. My clients inspire me! They gain vitality and the power to change. They grow and I am proud of what they can accomplish. I am lucky to have some long-term clients to observe how they have changed. I have learned compassion, patience and more, through growing in and with my practice. I feel blessed and in awe! I am happy that I get to share this life changing information with others.