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mohornerI'm a city girl who was raised by a 'health conscious' mother and that was extent of my familiarity with alternative health care until 2003. A brush with breast cancer and some very impressive complimentary health care detoured the direction of my life.

Two intense years of counseling, journaling, yoga, support groups, and radical diet and lifestyle changes led me to my life work and passion for natural healing. I met Nicholas "Spirit Bear" Schnell in 2005, who agreed to make me his first apprentice at the Four Winds Natural Healing Center in Omaha, NE. That work has exposed me to his lifelong study of Traditional Chinese, Ayurvedic, Western, Native American and European herbal therapeutics and led me to study with the East West program from August 2007 to May 2010.

Before Planetary Herbology found me, I earned a B.A. in Psychology from Creighton University and held jobs in phlebotomy, insurance marketing and third-party unemployment claims, professional recruiting and desktop publishing, and owned a small business, while raising three daughters. For fun, I resurrected an old interest in playing bassoon and joined the Nebraska Wind Symphony three years ago. Friends and family have stopped trying to guess my next move.

Practically speaking, I'm a 'city herbalist' with urban clients, so it makes sense to apply natural healing in the most accessible and simple ways, subtly educating my patients about how effective herbal healing can be. At the same time, I'm trying to bring the healing plants of Nebraska closer to my living and working environments.

I credit my studies and training at East West for showing me that there IS a community of learned and passionate healers to support my journey. Blessings to those healers and teachers, especially Spirit Bear, Michael and Lesley, Susan Kramer, and Zhen Wren/Miles Coleman. I can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. my website is www.NaturalHealingOmaha.com and my blog site:   http://www.naturalhealingomaha.com/natural-healing-omaha-blog/.

richkamsolGrowing up, I remember my parents frequently using herbs and traditional, European folk remedies. When I was about 5 years old, my mother had severe pneumonia and stayed in bed for a number of days. During her illness, she drank a strong-smelling herbal decoction and I recall watching another family member do traditional cupping over her whole back. Smelling the strong herbs and seeing the raised skin and dark, reddish-purple spots over her back, I felt fascination, fear and awe.  This experience and other similar encounters with traditional healing methods planted a seed for my future health care choices and practices.

As an adult, I was first exposed to the concept of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) while in massage school; I have been studying TCM ever since. Around that same time, I also met Misha, my current partner. Her knowledge and practical use of herbs rekindled my fascination with traditional healing and inspired me to learn herbs more in depth. After exploring medicinal herbs on my own for some time, I decided to formally begin my studies at East West School of Planetary Herbology in 2003.

I recently completed the East West course and earned the Planetary Herbalist certification. Now, I'm in process of working with a mentor and continuing to grow in my herbal practice. My goal is to earn the East West Certified Herbalist degree and become registered with the American Herbalists Guild as a professional herbalist. My mission is to enrich, educate and empower those I serve to confidently use local herbs for their health and well-being.

Professionally, I have been practicing massage and bodywork in Chicago, IL, since 1999. In my private practice, I have specialized in craniosacral therapy, somatoemotional release, and integrative body therapy. During a seven year period, I also worked within several grant-funded, low-income clinics with HIV+/AIDS clients and for three years I worked within an outpatient pediatric pain clinic at a major children's hospital. In addition to my clinical practice, I have been a massage instructor at three different massage programs. And, for five years, I served as the director of education for one of these schools. As I evolve my private practice, I am excited to bring the benefits of herbs into my work with both adults and children experiencing pain (physical, emotional and spiritual).

Currently, I live in Chicago with my wife and two, energetic children.

My private practice website: www.SolFulBodywork.com

In 2009, I published and released a massage DVD and e-book entitled, 'Professional Full-Body Massage:  A Step-By-Step Video Guide and E-Book.'  To learn more, visit:  www.LearningMassageVideos.com

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.

ehlersI 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.

ryancI 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.

rdelafI 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.blogspot.com

I also enjoy connecting with herbally minded folk on Facebook.

ellengMy 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 piñon, 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/

esnellingHerbs have always been a part of my life. As a kid, I idolized our family herbalist and would transcribe herbals word-for-word, trying to remember every morsel of information. I dreamed of one day being able to work with the human energy field and be a healer. But somehow, as I got older, this love of plants and natural healing got swept under the rug.

I majored in comparative literature in university, after which some grant writing led into a career in the nonprofit sector. For most of my career, I worked in social services for homeless and very low income people in Oakland and San Francisco, CA, and was unusually fortunate to have many world-class mentors.

Unfortunately, the more I accomplished professionally, the more depressed I became --perhaps because my success was fueled by workaholism, ridiculous hours, and massive amounts of caffeine, cigarettes, and sugar. This unsustainable lifestyle finally caught up to me. I had to take a leave of absence.

My saving grace was my garden. The process of transforming it from weed patch to native plant oasis completely transformed me from the inside out. I gradually lost interest in my professional and social ambitions. I started using TCM, which helped me to quit smoking. I started eating according to Ayurvedic principles. And I found that my mind was finally quiet enough to meditate. Eventually, I found the courage to quit my job and follow my heart out of the city and back to nature.

I lived for a little while at an ashram, and settled in Northern California's Sierra foothills, eventually taking on the role of director of an animal welfare organization that was in crisis. I balanced the work stress with spiritual practice, gardening, and hiking in the forest. I was also initiated into Reiki healing, fulfilling a childhood dream. Those years of living in the forest were truly like paradise for me.

Then I fell head-over-heels in love with a wonderful man, and uprooted to Eastern Nevada. Life in the high desert proved to be an unending series of challenges--chief among them being mold poisoning. We ended up moving five times in under two years, but wound up in North Vancouver, BC -- a forested place that I have totally fallen in love with.

It was my quest to heal poisoning-related health problems that led me to enroll in the East-West Course about two years ago. Little did I know it would change the course of my life! I've now enrolled in acupuncture training and look forward to combining my nonprofit management experience with TCM and Planetary Herbalism, bringing these powerful tools to people who would otherwise have no access to them. I'm particularly interested in mental health and stress management, given the central role that these play in helping people move out of poverty.

Congratulations to our December student of the month, Jenn Atkins, CNC, LMT!

j_atkinsMy 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!

Melissa FrittsAs 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.

http://www.myspace.com/orchidhunter


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