I was raised in the San Francisco bay area and currently live in Grass Valley, Calif., north of Sacramento. My father was a hunter and fisherman. During my childhood, he inspired my love of animals.
While living in Iceland with my husband and two children for a couple of years, I got to be known as the Cat Lady. All the hurt cats ended up at our house. I started medical training as a veterinary assistant in 1980 in Iceland, and continued when I got back to the States. In 1987 I passed the State test to be a nurse (RVT) for animals.
Also in 1987, I got introduced to herbs for animals. At that time I was able to see how well herbs worked but at the time I didn't believe in herbs. I think the reason I started to believe in herbs because animals can't think, "This will make me feel better" -- they just respond to the herbs. (But for humans, yes, it is very important to have a good mental attitude for getting better.)
In 1989 my mother was told she had cancer so I started studying herbs for humans as well. Those herbs did help my mom. In 2000 I was told I had cancer. I started looking up herbs again for cancer and learned what I could use during radiation and chemo. I was surprised that those herbs were able to help my body fight the disease.
In 2005 I started a class in acupressure and massage for animals. This is when I started to learn about Traditional Chinese Medicine and the five elements. That same year, my mother was told she had cancer again, and in 2006 she passed away. Besides of the normal feelings of her passing I felt bad because I didn't help her with the herbs this time and I decided I need to learn more.
I'm also a coordinator for the Disaster Response team for animals. What that means in short is we are the Red Cross for animals. I work mostly during fire season, but we have also worked floods.
I teach CPR for animals, anatomy, zoonotic diseases, and many other topics about animal health.
I am hoping to work more with people and some of the doctors in my area.
I have held a deep interest in natural healing for as long as I can recall. My grandfather was a chiropractor, and I remember receiving an adjustment from him at age 5. Perhaps that spurred the initiative to pursue natural medicine. Having studied karate when I was younger also seemed to influence my leaning toward taking care of my body and mind holistically.
My formal journey began 18 years ago when I started studying massage therapy, graduating as a Registered Massage Therapist after two years of study. This opened my passion for healing which then led me to study homeopathic medicine for four years with the Vancouver Homeopathic Academy and later for two years in the Homeopathic Master Clinician Course. Throughout my career I have been drawn to continue my studies in homeopathy, osteopathy, bowen therapy, postural exercise, and energy medicine. In 2008 I excitedly began studying herbal medicine with the East West School of Planetary Herbology, anticipating being able to help people in a new way using herbs and diet therapy. It has been a rewarding journey that continues to inspire me.
Gradually over the years, my passion and interests have opened in the direction of teaching others how to heal themselves. In January 2010, I wrote and published my first book titled BODY '“ The Essentials of Health and Wellness which has been my first major step in this direction. BODY is the first in a series of three books '“ BODY, MIND, and SPIRIT, with the latter two books due to arrive over the next few years.
When not practicing, studying, or writing, I love to spend time in nature, especially hiking in the backcountry mountains of coastal British Columbia and the Rocky Mountains. I currently live and practice in Port Moody, British Columbia with my wife'”a Naturopathic Doctor.
Later this year I plan to teach some workshops in holistic health and launch my newsletter on my website at www.ryancarnahan.com. Other future plans include holding retreats with a group of colleagues where people can rejuvenate in body, mind, and spirit.
I began my plant kingdom journey seven years ago when I started studying primitive living skills with Earthwalk Northwest. Through the experience of exploring my relationship to the natural world around me, I fell in love with plants and apprenticed for three years with ethnobotanist Karen Sherwood. I learned practical botany, ethical wildcrafting skills, and traditional uses of plants for food and medicine.
Following my years of apprenticeship, I involved myself in intensive self study of herbalism. Besides my studies here at the East West School of Planetary Herbology, I have also been honored to be mentored by Paul Bergner, Michael Moore, and Kiva Rose.I am currently taking a course on clinical herbalism with KP Khalsa.
Over the past two years it's been my privilege to be an herbal consultant for HerbMentor.com, a community-based website for herbal education. To date I have written four e-books, created over 30 educational videos, and written many articles including a series on Anatomy and Physiology for herbalists. I also spend a lot of time in the forums participating in herbal discussions and answering questions.
This year, my main focus is creating a botany-for-herbalists course, publishing a book on colds and flu, and creating a mini visual glossary series to explain herbal terms.
I am also the wild plants and herbal health instructor for Methow Wilderness School where I lead wild plant walks aimed at helping people connect to the natural world
I met my husband Xavier while I was studying the wilderness arts. After marrying we remained dedicated to our values of living close to the earth. Our small cabin is located on the edge of the wilderness and we live simply with minimal solar electricity and no running water. We love experiencing the seasons and having the wild world at our fingertips. Pretty soon the forest around us will be covered in arnica and mariposa lilies!
Another exciting part of my life recently has been my involvement with the Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference. This new event is bringing together innovative teachers to present on western herbalism with a strong focus on plant energetics and bio-regional herbs.
Besides my passion for plants I am also a Structural Medicine Specialist. This type of structural integration focuses on easing chronic and acute pain by aligning the body in the gravitational field. I have a private practice where I see clients for herbal health consultations and Structural Medicine sessions.
So far my life has been a fascinating journey and I am thrilled that East West has been a part of my path. This school gave me a constitution-based approach to herbal health. This understanding is invaluable in the successful practice of herbalism.
You can follow my herbal adventures at http://www.MethowValleyHerbs.
I also enjoy connecting with herbally minded folk on Facebook.
My earliest memories are filled with plants. My parents were both gardeners and my father is a landscape architect; at 85, he is still planting his vegetable garden this year. My mother had a deep understanding that we should be out soaking up and exploring the natural world. I first lived in the Midwest and then for a few years in the dry high plains of West Texas, an ecosystem completely opposite to the green hills, streams and rivers with which I'd become familiar.
My mother, intent on giving her brood reprieve from the dusty plains, gathered us up and drove each summer to a magical valley cared for by the Puye natives in New Mexico. My first herb walk took place during one such family vacation. Mormon tea, bearberry, juniper berries and piÃ±on, 12 plants in all: I pressed their leaves into my first notebook walking along the cliff-dwellers' trail.
My tour through different ecosystems continued after college, when I moved to the Cascade Mountains and worked for a brief time for Dr. William Kelley, who had cured himself of pancreatic cancer. Kelley understood that different individuals were of different metabolic types, and that poor and metabolically mismatched diet was a primary contributor to disease. Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez arrived from Sloan-Kettering that year to study Dr. Kelley's controversial protocols and review his cases.
While living there, I also had the opportunity to host and spend time with Daniel Bensky and his wife, who were completing his first TCM materia medica translation. Dan provided me with more information regarding constitutional differences, and offered great encouragement to continue pursuing my interests. I began treating my own symptoms with western herbs and pored over herb books.
After four years, I accepted a job in the Midwest and then transferred to the Bay Area, working in a number of corporate positions in the telecommunications industry. For several years, on weekends, I studied with Barbara Brennan, Dr. M. Mamas and with a number of elders, shamans, mystics and poets. I also pursued extra curricula in Core Energetics, Diamond Heart, Pathwork, Hakomi, Continuum, energetic anatomy and physiology, and massage.
Over the years, I found many references to Ayurveda and felt immediate and great affinity for its holistic approach. After a class in its basics, I had the blessing to literally bump into Dr. Vasant Lad one summer at Mt. Madonna, and began my Ayurvedic education in earnest. I felt completely at home. I graduated from formal Ayurvedic programs in the U.S. and in India, a land that continues to live in my heart, where I interned in panchakarma clinics. My teachers have been enormously generous and encouraging and I have abiding gratitude for them. It has been a gift to have so many of my interests merged together in this ancient system of healing. I began an Ayurvedic and panchakarma practice in Northern California over a decade ago and it gives me great joy to share it with others.
Having referred to Michael Tierra's books for many years, I enrolled at East West in the spring of 2009 to expand the number of global herbs I feel proficient in using. The education of an herbalist is life-long, and the mutual support and sharing at East West is simply wonderful.
In addition to Ayurveda and Herbology, I also love spending time with my beloved partner Phil, hanging out with our sweet dog Pico, spending time with my family and hearing them laugh, immersing myself in poetry, travel, sustainability, being in nature, reading the works of Nisargadatta, Ramana Maharshi, and Ramesh Balsekar, witnessing the play of light and dark, and observing the infinite forms of beauty.
I also teach classes and write a newsletter offering Ayurvedic information and ideas. You can visit my website at http://www.vitalityandbalance.com/
Congratulations to our December student of the month, Jenn Atkins, CNC, LMT!
My career as a holistic health practitioner formally began through my family business, Brazos Natural Foods, which opened in Bryan, Texas, in 1988. I worked on odd jobs in the store since its opening, but came on as customer-service staff in 1995, and my duties have expanded considerably since then.
What a lot there is to know in working at a natural foods store! I had a familiarity with some products already, having been raised by eclectic parents (comfrey root powder was a standard in our medicine cabinet), but was soon immersed in learning. I was also challenging my usually introverted nature to be more confident in working with people, and the store setting was a superb if demanding one for that!
If you've ever hung out in a busy Whole Foods supplement section and just looked at all those bottles, you can imagine that the customer service staff have to know where to find each item, what it's for, contraindications, what's in it (and I mean even the fine print and sources), about the company, which product would most suit the needs of the customer (having first tactfully asked about the issue and about some suspected related issues), and do all this within the limited and often grey scope of authority to advise the customer. It's one reason I'd love to see a training program that covers all such needs for store staff, a field in itself.
In 2005, I began to challenge myself to become a formal practitioner. I started Quantum-Touch energy work classes and enrolled in a holistic diet and nutrition course by correspondence. In 2007 I became accredited through AADP as a nutritional consultant and enrolled in massage school. In 2008, I earned my massage license. Then I realized I needed better diagnostic skills to able to assess the needs of customers and clients. I'd known of Michael Tierra's course since 1990 and had read his books since childhood, and the store had carried Planetary Formulas since opening. So I knew just where to go to study, and in 2008 enrolled in the East West Professional Herbalist course. Immediately I gained a better ability to direct customers to their needs.
Some of my next goals include learning reflexology, continuing my nutrition and other studies, and perhaps someday becoming a licensed acupuncturist, which would allow me to better practice in my state. I also will continue my studies in ecology and horticulture. Informally, I want to have a large property to maintain as wildlife habitat, a luscious garden and some poultry, a modest profession as artist, and to be part of a thriving business that enhances the health and awareness of the community.
Meet our November student of the month, Melissa Fritts!
As a child I spent my time in the woods and fields - ever exploring the natural world. I quickly also became fascinated with the inner worlds and began intensive study of spirituality and philosophy as a young adolescent. I was fascinated with the mind, behavior, and belief systems. In high school I encountered psychology and decided that I wanted to pursue the path to a PhD in Clinical Psychology, ultimately helping others with alternative, outside the box, therapies. While in school for my B.S. in Psychology, I fell into a job working at a greenhouse that specialized in herbs, growing 300 varieties during peak season. I knew then that I would have to include working outside with plants in my livelihood, but was distraught as to how that would fit in with psychology.
One day, when I was 20, a co-worker mentioned to me that I would enjoy Horticultural Therapy and I was mesmerized, forever transformed. I knew this was my calling on some level. There was only one school in the area that offered the degree, as it was a new field, so, after I graduated, I moved with the intent of getting a second bachelor's in Horticulture and a master's in Horticultural Therapy. Various hurdles presented themselves in this time until I finally had to come to the conclusion that what I was doing wasn't my path. It was just too hard; I wasn't flowing.
I learned hard lessons that year. I moved back and decided I would teach myself Horticulture; who needs a degree (and the debt that goes with it)? I purchased all of the books that I would have needed for my degrees and read them on my own, taking notes just like I would've in school. I cleared 1/3 acre and planted my first garden: 80' x 40', which you can tell by its size, was my almost daily immersion (after work). I built my first greenhouse and started seeds. I still grow the Echinacea I started 13 years ago.
I got a job at a health food store and quickly moved up to management position. I had been studying nutrition and herbs for a few years at this point and enjoyed sharing my knowledge and helping others to be healthier. All the while, studying, studying, studying; I am ever a sponge. Eventually, I knew I had to get back outside and got into landscaping which, other than a 2 year stint as a librarian at a private, rare plant book library, I have been doing in one form or another ever since. I still have a goal of doing a Horticultural Therapy Retreat Center, and am not really sure how I am going to get there from here, but I am working toward it and being patient for the Universe to present its doors - a philanthropist would help!
The landscaping I do is eco-friendly. I use only my hands, no power tools, and do everything organically. I love having my hands in the earth and tending to our green companions; I know others can benefit from doing the same. I have been studying herbalism for 15 years now; a year ago I started this course because I wanted to feel comfortable with offering my services more. Most of my prior study had been symptomatic; I am delighted with how deep this course gets, its focus on diagnosis and energetics, and its blending of the world's healing traditions. Someday, I intend to offer therapy (though I won't legally be able to call it that) which will include herbology, horticulture, yoga, meditation, nutrition, counseling (another word I will not be able to use), and the like.
Congratulations to Mojohito Richerson von Tchudi, our October student of the month!
A partially homogenous life as the son of progressive academic education philosophers, with its customary international travel and bouts of expatriateship went marvelously awry when the professionally-bored young man deviated from the prescribed path of desk-job-to-pay-rent and began to engage fully in rooted-nomadic life of a somewhat serious spiritual seeker hell-bent on a naturally healthy lifestyle.
I traveled internationally, and attended the most progressive of state-run educational institutions where - devoid of intention - I lived comfortably among vegans and gender-ambiguity. Formal education was focused around the radical idea that people ought to have access to the public airwaves - community radio, theatre, animation, cinematography. Eventually, I found myself sitting at a desk job on the 21st floor of a San Francisco financial district high-rise, enduring epic bouts of telephone tech support, where I, aghast, was the supporter. It was out of desperation that I discovered qigong, yoga, kung fu, and a cleansing whole-foods diet. I stopped using the microwave.
But all this wasn't enough. I knew that in order to break the habit of consumer capitalism, hopeless suffering, degenerative disease, and social malaise, I would need to radically change my life; divorce myself for the first time from the advertising-laden comforts of urban society.
I moved as far from anything I had previously experienced, to an intentional community and rural mystery school known as Heartwood Institute. I studied Asian Healing Arts and Whole Foods Nutrition with master Paul Pitchford, and eventually recruited as a Teaching Assistant. I entered the East West course in August 2007 as a natural extension of the comprehensive, assessment-based modalities I was now practicing in the classroom and Wellness Center.
After Heartwood's closure in 2008 my wife Heatherlee and I joined my extended family in Chico, California, where, finally rooted, we are beginning to farm and homestead. Our immediate plans include the formation of a community healing clinic based on the principles of TCM and Ayurveda, deep nutritional healing, herbal remedies, therapeutic touch, healing movement, and the profound beauty of a mindfully simple lifestyle.
I am prolific on the web, and you can follow my day to day activities on Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/mojohito), befriend me on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/mojohito), read articles and essays on my blog (http://mojohito.ro), see my curio collection (http://mojohito.com). Also, check out our clinic Grass Roots Vitality & Herbs (http://wholefoodshealing.com/), and learn more about the beautiful spiritual partnership I share with my wife Heatherlee (http://richersonvontchudi.com).
Meet our September student of the month: Meret Giacomini!
I spent most of my childhood in a mimosa tree day dreaming and imagining that the pink fiber optic tutu-like flowers were twirling ballerinas. Instant Nutcracker Suite heaven! Little did I know I was sitting in the middle of a great big "happiness tree" (albizzia), the bark of which I would one day be recommending to my clients to lift their mood.
When I finally climbed down from the mimosa tree and got my "higher" education, I studied (and good Lord, later got a degree in) psychology. However, looking back, I realize the only academic class I really ever looked forward to was a plant taxonomy class (no, I wasn't learning to stuff plants). The class was taught by William Neiring, a kind of "Julia Child of the Wild," a botanist and teacher at Connecticut College in New London, CT. He later authored the Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Wildflowers: Eastern Region. From January to June we were out in the Connecticut woods noticing how dogwood twigs telescope, and how sweet a sweet birch twig tastes, and later tiptoeing into muddy neverlands to see skunk cabbage declaring the end of winter.
I spent the last two years of college attending as many dance classes as I could possibly fit into my schedule and squeezing in some academics here and there. Dancing has been a lifelong love. If there are any genius bones in my body, they are in my feet! And I must say, if I thought I could heal people by dancing, I would do it. Just when I thought dancing was everything, I had a baby girl. Full-time Mom-ing became my favorite pastime.
In 1985, my daughter and I moved from Oklahoma to Fairfield, IA, to be part of a community of 3,000 meditators. Sarah was 5 and ready to waltz into kindergarten and I waltzed into the world of Ayurveda. At that time, Ayurveda was just being introduced to our little community. There were Indian vaidyas (doctors) coming to town and a clinic opening up. Ayurveda went right into my heart and up and down my spine. I had one of those moments of absolute clarity that this was my new direction. I verbally tackled one of the vaidyas saying "Hey, this is what I want to do!" Judging by the look in his eyes he was probably thinking, "Uh, hmm, you go meditate some more. Don't call us, we'll call you."
Soon after, the Ayurvedic clinic was opened here and I went to visit it. I walked in the door and the receptionist/nurse looked at me and said, "You would make a good Ayurvedic technician. Would you like to interview?" I walked out with a job. I steeped myself in Ayurvedic "teching" for six years, administering abhyanga, shirodhara, swedena, pizzichili, udvartana, pindasweda and, of course, bastis (herbalized oil enemas) to over 2,000 patients. At the end of six years I felt both a saturation in Ayurveda (and sesame oil!) and a yearning for more. My job as a "tech," though priceless, did not allow me to have the full knowledge I was seeking, only enough to perform the treatments I was doing. My desire for more knowledge was never fulfilled in this situation. What a great relief it was (years later) to find East West School of Herbology with its doors of knowledge wide open to its students.
I enrolled in East West school about three years ago after some considerable soul-searching about what would be the best way to contribute something good to this world. I thought about my fascination with the use of herbs as medicine. I read Jethro Kloss' Back to Eden and John Lust's The Herb Book (like every good back-to-naturish person did back in the '60s). I was constantly recommending some herb to someone or taking one myself, but without the great traditional knowledge of herbal energetics I was only partially satisfied. I heard that feverfew was good for migraines and it worked for me. Some things were less successful and I understand now why.
So, in my soul searching, I came to some conclusions: I had spent a lot of my life recommending and trying herbal remedies; I wanted to know what I was doing; I wanted to be able to go as deep as I wanted to go; and that one-size-fits-all herbalism wasn't for me. So I checked out every school I could find online and East West stood out like a shining star!
As far as my aspirations, I want to help people and I want to see where this new phase of learning leads. I plan to finish my professional herbalist studies by the next spring seminar, complete the certification process, apply to the American Herbalists Guild, and then hang out a shingle and see who shows up.