What healing modalities do you practice and what training do you have?
The primary focus of my practice is herbal medicine. I take a holistic approach to my work and integrate food medicine, lifestyle modifications, and also make recommendations for complementary healing modalities. I believe medicine at its best utilizes as many tools as possible. The more ways we approach healing, the better chance we have at getting to the root of the imbalance and sustaining health for the long term.
I began my formal herbal medicine studies with Susan Hess in her Homestead Herbalism course. At that time she offered a level one and two, so I attended her monthly classes for two years. Immediately following, I began David’s two year Clinical Herbalism program which I completed in 2014. I’m currently in his one year Therapeutics program which will end this fall. Additionally, I have attended herbal conferences and countless online lectures offered through the American Herbalist Guild. I feel grateful that there is so much to learn in this field and that my curiosity about plant medicine and healing is endless.
I’m informed by work I have done with meditation, yoga, energy work, ritual, and nature based spiritual practices. I use herbs and food as the foundation but find that clients benefit from being guided to a variety of modalities. I also believe my own healing journey and the experiences of my clients has significantly shaped who I am as a practitioner.
What inspired you to formally study herbal medicine?
For most of my life I have been an artist (www.telegraphictree.com) and have used photography as my medium. In my mid 20s when I first moved to Philadelphia from Virginia, the focus of my artwork shifted and I became really interested in documenting nature. It was inescapable. My photographs were of trees, flowers and the connections between humans and nature. I believe my intuition was guiding me to look at the plants. They were calling me to pay attention and I did. I remember so vividly my first herbal medicine class in Susan’s kitchen surrounded by herbs and plant people, I felt like I had found my “home.” I felt like I had found myself. I returned from that first class and my husband asked me how it went. To his surprise, I burst into tears. But these were tears of complete joy. I told him “I’ve finally found it. This is what I was looking for.” And I haven’t looked back since!
How do you use your herbal training in your work?
I work one-on-one with clients to create a customized wellness plan. The consultation involves determining health goals, reviewing health history, and discussing overall wellness, diet, and lifestyle. I find that for many people this is their first opportunity to talk about health in such depth. It is powerful to take this time and a lot of healing seems to come from just the consultation itself. It is exciting to see the shift happen as people start to notice their own patterns. Listening as they reflect about their experience is an important part of my work. Based on the consultation, I create a wellness plan with guidance on dietary and lifestyle changes, information on supplements, and suggestions for personalized herbal formulas.
Recently I was invited to collaborate with a theater group for a spring 2016 adaptation of Beowulf. The performance will be in the beautiful Mt. Moriah cemetery in West Philadelphia. My role will be as their “Sensory Designer” with the intention of bringing herbal elements to this production.
I’m also a plant medicine crafter. As soon as I started to learn herbal medicine I began making herbal items for my family, friends, and community. I handcraft medicinal teas, tinctures, salves, and vinegars and sell at a local event Go West Craft Fest three times a year.
Talk a little about your herbal philosophy.
My philosophy begins with tuning in. We spend most of our time disconnected from our bodies and sometimes it takes an illness for us to pay attention. When a person gets to this place of imbalance herbs can be a helpful tool and in some cases enough of a catalyst to shift the body back to balance. But many times someone gets to this point because of a multitude of factors: their diet is unhealthy, they are not getting adequate sleep, and they lack stress management tools. Their pain or digestive issues may be what brought them to an herbalist but they hadn't noticed the other parts of their lives where things were also out of balance. I find it is absolutely necessary for people to pay attention to all of the information available to reestablish a connection to their whole self and begin the healing process. I ask my clients to do a lot of tracking and observation. It's definitely a commitment and often not a fast process. Ultimately, I hope to empower people to listen to their own wisdom and use this knowledge to practice self care and preventative medicine.
Combining herbal medicine with lifestyle and dietary changes has the potential to create radical and sustaining transformation on many levels. I want to serve as a resource, a guide, and a bridge between plants and people.