Tiffany Davies' company, Embark Herbals, provides herbal consultations, wellness consultations, custom formulas, natural remedies, tinctures, bulk herbs, bulk teas, glycerites, herbal infused vinegars, herbal infused oils, natural body care products, natural home cleaning products, organic products, environmentally conscious products, green products, herbal workshops, herbal classes, an herbal blog and cleaning services to Berks County and Chester County, PA, and the surrounding areas.
How did you first become interested in the world of herbs?
My relationship with plants began under a Willow tree in the park near my childhood home, when I was 9 years old. I remember sitting with him by the stream, and, as he shared his wisdom with me, I’d write it down, in the form of poetry. He revealed to me the error of human ways and the sorrow it caused and brought to him. But more importantly, it was through his grace and gentle compassion in which I saw he prayed for us, that he taught me to keep a tender heart and the desire to heal and bring hope in the lives of others and into this world.
That was the beginning of my path; that was the moment my heart called me to be a healer. From there, my passion grew throughout my teenage years as I devoured any books, brochures, and even descriptions on tea boxes that I could find! I tinkered with trying different herbs and making things from plants. I spent a lot of time alone in nature and started listening to what the plants had to say. I found that if I conveyed my intentions to plants, that they’d speak back to me and tell me where to find them. As a child, this started with Four-Leaf Clovers, innocently enough. Whenever a friend was down on their luck or feeling blue, I’d ask the Four-Leafs where I could find one to give to a friend, to make them feel better. The first time I tried this, I found a whole patch! Something clicked for me when that happened. This awareness opened up, and so I just kept doing it and building upon my relationship with different plants. I still do this today, by the way; I’ve found dozens over the years! I taught others to do it, and they couldn’t believe it when it worked! At the time, I didn’t know communicating with plants was a thing that humans had been doing all throughout history.
When I bought my first house, it was a little cape cod with this beautiful, majestic Tulip Poplar tree out back. As I talked to him, I felt this protection and love emanating from his being, and I knew he cared for us. Later, in David’s class, I learned the Cherokee lived in cape cods that they covered with the bark of the Tulip Poplar. The Poplar bark literally protected them! I was living a tradition that went back hundreds, if not thousands, of years and connected me to my ancestors! I was right where I was meant to be. I was so sad to leave him when I moved, but now I live in a house with probably 50 Tulip Poplars around me, and I know he is still with me through them and they all know me.
When I was 20, I started a green cleaning business. All my clients knew I studied herbs too and would ask me questions about what they, or their loved ones, could take for this ailment, or that condition. I realized I needed to learn more about therapeutic dosages and preparations if I was going to help them, responsibly. One of my cleaning client’s mother had taken David’s class, and she told me how to get in contact with him. So, I set forth to embark on the next stage of my journey. That’s where I came up with the name for my company, Embark Herbals. It sums up how I feel about this venture. Not just for me, but as a societal collective. We are all in this together, plants and people and all living things alike.
Tell us about your education, and how David Winston’s training influenced your path.
My ancestors were Cherokee, like David’s. That was also part of what intrigued me to take his class. I had all these questions about my heritage and how they used plants to heal because I felt like that was where my passion for natural medicine instinctually came from, at least in part. So much of what David taught my class filled in the missing pieces for me and showed me that all the things I had been doing and feeling intuitively were part of the Cherokee way. That helped me grow by teaching me to trust my intuition and heart; it was revealed to me that they had been guiding me down the right path all along. To me, that is just as much a part of healing, and guiding others towards their healing, if not more so, as the medicinal metabolites in the plants.
Cognitively, David’s class answered my questions regarding specific indications, preparation ratios and dosages, that I had not come across in my studies so far (although not for lack of seeking that information). After completing David’s classes, I continued my training by mentoring with herbalist Don Ollsin and taking foraging and remedy making classes. My education also includes a bachelor’s degree in cellular and molecular biology, pre-med, and a minor in health science because I wanted to incorporate a scientific understanding of illness and healing into my practice in addition to the traditional and indigenous uses of natural medicine.
Last year you launched Embark Herbals, with a focus on education, and selling herbal products. How do you choose the products you offer? What’s your favorite H&A product and why?
I’m not really sure I’m the one choosing the products I offer as much as I feel it’s just my responsibility as an herbalist to procure the herbs that are needed by my clients. I don’t have a favorite product or herb; I love them all. That’s like asking me to pick my favorite child, lol. What I can say is this, I owe personal gratitude to Tulsi, Blue Vervain, Japanese Knotweed, Sarsaparilla, Burdock, Hawthorne, and Mimosa. I carry an array of quality bulk herbs and continue to expand the resources I offer, especially as I get requests, so that these items are accessible to those who need them locally (and remotely, online). H&A’s blends are wonderfully formulated and effective, and I am also confident in using their single extracts to create custom blends for my clients as I know the quality and purity standards they adhere to.
You offer consultation online via Zoom, which seems like a great idea for busy people and for those living in regions without many trained herbalists. What’s that like? Is this a technology you think more practitioners should utilize? Talk about how that feels compared to in-person consultations, and the pros and cons.
I always prefer to perform consultations in person; however, I have found online consultations are a good way to initiate a relationship with people that are having trouble finding the time to come see me or don’t have access to an herbalist nearby. I wanted to provide an option for that unmet need. After establishing a relationship, they are often more willing to make the drive to meet with me in person, and then we can work on a deeper level. Admittedly, it is harder or impossible to perform the tongue and pulse diagnosis, respectively. But, that’s just one part of how I conduct my consultations. And, like I said, sometimes we get an opportunity to do that later. Energy wise, I feel I am still able to assess their constitution and pick up on subtle energies by reading their body language and facial cues. I rely more on their feedback as we progress and am more conscious to ask them straight-forward questions if I can’t pick up on something otherwise because I’m not right there in the room with them.
Why did you decide to offer herbal workshops?
I asked myself, “What part about what it is I do, do I love the most? What do I want to be DOING in my life’s work all day long? What WON’T burn me out and allow me to stay balanced in my health and life too?” And the answer was healing people, making their lives better, bringing the community together (which is also a key component of healing) and working hands on with the plants (being in their energy). So, I combined them and resolved I would teach with a hands-on approach.
I didn’t want to ALWAYS be sitting across a desk from someone, or in front of a power point presentation TELLING them about herbs. I want them to EXPERIENCE herbs while I’m with them, educating them. I want them to meet the herbs, listen to them, taste them, smell them, appreciate them. I want them to learn how to do this, so we can revive the tradition of herbal wisdom know-how and pass the artform on to future generations. Once the herbs are extracted and in an amber bottle, there’s a disconnect from the plant that separates us from its essence. That essence can also be healing, in and of itself. It’s so beautiful and fulfilling to work with the plant from beginning to end and be part of its transformation, even as it’s entering our bodies and becoming part of us. Being part of its transformation transforms us as well. In our workshops, that’s what we get to experience, and it brings so much joy.
I hold special workshops for children too because I believe the next generation should grow up with an awareness of plants and all their gifts and marvelous healing powers. I especially love seeing their little faces light up with such excitement and pride when they’re muddling the plants we foraged and holding up the finished remedy they made with their own two little hands! It fills me with such a sense of purpose, and I’m blessed to be able to do this as my life’s work.
Thank-you for giving me this opportunity to share my story.