Prior to studying herbs, my background was in graphic design, having my own business and eventually working with a major state-wide and local newspapers and full service ad agencies. I moved from the East Coast to California in 1997 and my first introduction to herbs was with Jeanine Pollack in Soquel, CA. She was giving a demonstration of herbs and food combinations at an outdoor venue and what drew me to her was her incredible enthusiasm. It was so apparent to everyone that this delightful herbalist was in love with what she was doing! I immediately signed up for several of her herb walks and medicine-making classes.
A friend introduced me to Michael Tierra and he offered me a job of working in his garden. Michael taught me how to care for the plants, what they are used for medicinally, and when to harvest the herbs, dry and store them properly, along with watering, weeding and composting. I found out through Jill about the East West Planetary School of Herbology and immediately signed up.
I became healthier, just learning basic nutrition from the coursework. I was fascinated with learning that foods can make you healthy or they can make you sick and how to shift things in the right direction. I would say just knowing THAT basic information would radically change life on this planet. It did mine! In those first few years the herbs helped me overcome arthritis, urinary tract infections, depression, bursitis in my shoulder, colds and flu, hormonal imbalances, an under-active thyroid, parasites, worms, candida, leaky gut, etc. I have to say, when you notice parasites and worms exiting your own body – THAT IS SUPER EMPOWERING, NOT TO MENTION MOTIVATING!
What I must point out here is that, most of the time, I really did not feel sick at all and my energy seemed fine. But during my studies these are the imbalances I discovered, and I was able to correct them through herbal therapeutics, proper diet and healthier lifestyle habits.
Because of the profound effect herbal and dietary therapies had on my health, I became very interested in healing food therapies and was greatly influenced by the work of Dr. Bernard Jensen, Dr. John Christopher, Jethro Kloss, Weston Price, Adelle Davis, Ann Wigmore, Max and Charlotte Gerson and Paul Pitchford (among countless others).
My background now includes the study of many types of healing food therapies including Chinese teas, congees, soups, herbs, Ayurvedic therapies and cooking, detox therapies, juicing, raw foods and macrobiotic foods. My training in macrobiotic cooking was with Roxanne Koteles, certified macrobiotic teacher and certified chef. I attended the Starting Point Wellness School in the Bay area and completed Wellness Cuisine Chef Certification, Levels I and II in Raw Foods and also studied with Thrivin Edibles Chef Patti at Cafe Gratitude in Santa Cruz, CA.
My very first herbal assessments began with myself, my family and friends. I ordered pounds of herbs and my home began to look like an herb warehouse. In making and taking my very first formula, I had no idea if this would work or not. It was a female hormonal formula and within several weeks the condition cleared up. THAT was an epiphany! It internally registered so deeply with me that we can make our own herbal medicine and that the herbs really do work! I spent that entire year making herbal formulas, tinctures, syrups, and salves. The delightful art of herbal medicine making was instilled in my heart forever.
Michael Tierra suggested to our advanced class, that taking a course in body work would help us fledgling herbalists better understand how herbs work in the body. Shortly after that, I enrolled in Twin Lakes College of the Healing Arts and fell in love with massage therapy as well.
I graduated from the East West School in December of 2001 and mentored with Michael Tierra for one year after that. I was seeing my own clients and we would review each case with suggestions and/or corrections /additions to my original analyses.
Following that, I earned my clinical hours through an apprenticeship with Keith Latham, L.Ac., an acupuncture physician in Tequesta, FL in 2002. For about a year, I set up and ran his herbal pharmacy according to the energetics of the herbs, tracking and ordering all of the herbs, powdering them, making sure the pharmacy was well stocked, encapsulating herbs, dry-frying or honey-frying when necessary, occasionally making decoctions and infusions, and daily filling herbal prescriptions for the patients. In the evenings after work, each week I was in Susan Kramer’s riveting online study group, trying to come up with the perfect analyses for those amazing case studies.
While still seeing clients, I worked in health food stores in Florida and Chicago in their Natural Living departments. I was trained and educated by many of the well-known herbal and supplement companies about their products and formulary, which was a powerful education in itself.
I became a professional member of the American Herbalists Guild in 2008. I am a trained clinical herbalist and a licensed California massage therapist with my own company, Herbal Vital Health. It is also my honor and privilege to have recently been elected as president of the new Greater Bay Area Chapter of the American Herbalists Guild; and, for the incredibly rewarding opportunity of serving our community locally with an amazing group of super-talented herbalists, herb teachers and nutritionists, etc. at the East West Free Clinic as well. You can read all about our latest herbal adventures at http://cagba-ahg.org
I’ve been in the nutritional consulting field for the past 8 years. Prior to that I was a full time yoga instructor. I am the founder of www.MetabolicHealing.com, where I’ve authored around 300 research-oriented articles, and spent a lot of time researching, writing, and consulting. I have also created two practitioner certification courses, one on functional blood chemistry analysis and the other on biochemistry-specific nutrition. My study of functional blood chemistry analysis and nutrition has enabled me to create a web-based blood chemistry analyzer tool for clinicians, with numerous recommendations for herbal medicine and nutrient therapies.
In my practice I search for nutritional therapies that will help my clients get well and stay well. It is important for me to be able to see my client’s situation from as many different perspectives as possible: functional lab testing, cellular physiology and biochemistry, emotional, psycho-spiritual, physical/anatomical, familial, and genetic.
The decision to seriously study herbology and the basic tenets of Chinese Medicine is a very large undertaking, and to me is like learning new languages and new ways of thinking. I began the East West Herb Course in 2013, and enjoy the engaging material presented.
My highly investigative and inquisitive nature is drawn to the practice of TCM and herbal medicine. As a busy clinician, the proper application of an herbal formulary has become a major asset to my practice, and will continue to in the future.
My curiosity about using plants for wellness began in the library as a preteen, following my own interests. I’ve never stopped reading on the subject. The Internet brought tons more information; my favorite pastime became Jim Duke’s Ethnobotanical Database. My interest was so keen, I almost went to Naturopathic Medical School after college, but eventually decided to move back home to be with my (now) husband instead.
Today my husband, John, and I own and operate an Organic Market/Health Food Store/Specialty Beer & Wine Shop in our small hometown in eastern NC. We are also about to celebrate our 15th year at our first business, Muddy’s, a neighborhood coffeehouse and roastery. We are the caretakers of a Revolutionary War era house in the country with a huge heirloom garden, a small orchard and lots of resident plants and animals. Our hobbies include sailing, camping, biking, seed-saving, cooking, traveling, photography and old houses.
Yet, through it all, my interest in herbs, plants and wellness remained. I discovered East West Herbal School online and signed up for classes back in 2004. But the craziness of running two businesses, having a child and life in general happened. I never touched those books.
Almost 10 years after I started, the coursework that sat on my shelves began calling me again. On a whim one day, I emailed and asked if I could pick up where I left off and begin the course again. Jill and the Tierras cheerfully allowed me to start over in 2013 and it’s been amazing! Learning TCM diagnostics seemed so far outside of everything I’d ever read, but its knowledge goes deep and wide across thousands of years. Using plants that have evolved with us over millennia, in formula, to bring the body back into balance; this is what I was meant to do. My deepest thanks to the Tierras and the school for sharing the knowledge and allowing me a chance complete my study and pursue this dream. By teaching modern healers how to heal, they are creating a better world for all of us.
I’ve moved from East to West over the course of my life. I was born in Boston. My parents were involved in the home birth movement, and natural food co-ops. We followed my father’s career first to Chicago, then to Santa Fe.
I began studying theatre in Santa Fe, and majored in acting at UNM. After college, I supported my acting career working in bars and nightclubs. I got burnt out with that lifestyle, and resolved to work with fresh air and sunlight. It is said that the actor’s body is the instrument - a painter has paints, a drummer has drums - which needs to be well-maintained.
I got a job in a plant nursery, setting me on the path of herbal medicine. Through subsequent work at an apothecary store, then a tincture manufacturer, I learned basic medicine-making and a foundation in Western, Native American, and Ayurvedic traditions.
I moved to San Francisco, pursuing acting opportunities, and continued with herbal work. Exposed to a large Asian community, I began to learn about Traditional Chinese Medicine. I apprenticed with Christopher Hobbs for my first Herbalist Certification.
I registered with East West in 2008. Having dual careers in acting and herbal medicine, my progress is slow but steady. I attended Foundation seminar in 2011.
This past fall, a new opportunity brought me to Ashland, OR, to run the dispensary for Donnie Yance’s Mederi Centre. My goal for the dispensary is to help it grow to meet the needs of the clients, and comply with FDA cGMP regulations. Meanwhile, I’m completing my lessons for Advanced seminar! Next: AHG Professional Membership.
Aside from herbalism and theatre, I love to travel. I’ve been to four continents (I’ve performed in three). Whenever I visit a foreign country, I like to find a natural pharmacy, and see a play.
I have some thoughts about the intersection of my dual careers. There was a time when performance and healing work were intertwined, when the herbal remedy required an accompanying ritual. In classical Greece, citizens went to see dramas and comedies, in order to experience catharsis. In modern society, art and medicine are separated. I believe the work we do as herbalists helps to bridge that gap.
Finding myself in the place I am now, I feel so much gratitude to witness my life filling with herbs- building my apothecary, building my understanding, having a homestead to invite medicine plants to grow and for me to grow with them. I feel too, a familiar feeling - of being in x marks the spot - that feeling of arrival. I have been here before. When I found rainbow and the tribes in the woodland gatherings, my spirit awakened and I was home. Five years later, again I was in the crosshairs when I took my vows to become Muslim and devote my life to spiritual purification. I could feel my very pulse echo in my ears as all else fell away.
Now I am older, my midpoint, my 40, the age I wanted to have my shit together and know my work. I've rooted my first chakra- I recognize my tribe. My second, nourished by my sweet husband. My third is my sense of self. In my youth I was a queen and then in my religious fervor I made myself a slave. Now I am neither. I have my core. I know who I am. My fourth, my heart, and that is where herbs come in. Nothing is new, the plants have been my acquaintances throughout the years but only now has the door opened for me to seek their friendship. I am so grateful to the East West school, to Michael Tierra for being relentless in curiosity and seeking understanding of the different systems of knowledge to bring us the best of them. I started at East West a year ago and am beginning to scratch the surface in understanding the main concepts and putting this knowledge to work by sharing herbs with friends and family. Opening my heart to these teachings, I go deeper- learning about our intricate relationship to plants, understanding the human organism and how our constitutions vary and the impact our various 'bodies' have on each other- physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. There is such richness here and I am so grateful to be on this path. I love my fellow students and teachers here in this school. I am in awe of the ways life unfolds and look forward to the work ahead.
I am not sure where my love of plants came from, but there is a familial connection. My mother was an avid gardener and I grew up in a home with hundreds of plants. My uncle is an amateur botanist. I have always had a deep love for the natural world.
I grew up in a small college town in the Appalachian mountains of Virginia. Born to Chilean parents, I gravitated toward making international friends. I lived in Germany and South Korea in the early to mid-1990s. In Germany, I lived with three PhD-bound ground chemistry students. We composted everything, ate lots of cabbage soup, and drank tea obsessively. I quickly became accustomed to a more natural, unprocessed diet that had a low-impact on the environment. Living in South Korea, I discovered Chinese herbs in the herbal pharmacies. I would buy huge stalks of fresh ginseng at the street market, boil them down, and drink this all day long, until my roommate begged me to stop!
My first real dive into herbs was in College Park, Maryland. I was immediately hooked after taking classes from Claudia Joy Wingo at Smiles Herb Shop. Afterward, I completed a Masters in Public Health and moved to Atlanta, Georgia to work in health research and evaluation. Soon after, I remarkably ended up in Susan Kramer’s office. Of course, she whipped me back into shape after recommending herbs that supported my liver, hormone balancing, and leading me to discover that I had a gluten-intolerance.
I have lived in San Francisco for six years and I discovered The East West School in 2010. Yep, I am coming up on my fifth year with EW! I have watched several fellow students graduate before me with successful herbal practices such as Nicole MacDonald. I am definitely on a slower track, but I remain committed and inspired, especially to be able to learn from such world-renowned herbalists as Michael and Lesley Tierra. I continue to try and balance a very busy public health and policy career with pursuing my other loves – spoiling rescue animals, political activism, dancing, and, studying herbal medicine.
I grew up in the wide-open spaces of rural Indiana, where my favorite early memories include gathering morel mushrooms with my family and exploring oak and hickory woodlands in timeless summer days. My deep-rooted affinity for the natural world has blossomed over time into a love of plants – plants as teachers, allies and healers.
A winding path carried me to way-upstate New York, where the Grasse River tumbles north out of the Adirondacks and stretches out and meanders its way to the St. Lawrence. My equally winding path to herbalism started over a decade ago, when I embarked on a fervent exploration of the natural world. Many a live-long day have I spent wandering through woods and wading through wetlands, field guides in hand, keying out wildflowers and stalking turtles and calling after owls. In recent years my focus has turned increasingly to plants and their many uses – foraging for edibles, gathering plants for craft (basketry, my specialty being birch bark baskets), and herbal medicine.
I am thankful for my many teachers over the years, including Tim Drake and Jed Jordan at Primitive Pursuits, the Kamana Naturalist Training program, 7Song at Northeast School of Botanical Medicine, Arthur Haines, Leslie Williams and Leslie Alexander…and most of all the plants and animals themselves.
I embarked on the East West program just over three years ago, and am so thankful to have gotten to explore the complex, dynamic, and beautiful world of Traditional Chinese Medicine. TCM and its Taoist roots—the way it reflects the natural world and teaches us to harmonize with it—resonate deeply with me. I am grateful for the Tierras, and Miles Coleman and Susan Kramer, for all of their teaching and guidance and inspiration.
When not working with herbs I can be found botanizing and hiking in the Adirondacks, weaving baskets, and also weaving poems and stories on paper. My website is plantmedicineweaver.com.
As I finish up the E/W program, I am expanding my offerings as a community herbalist, building my apothecary of herbs, and teaching locally about plants and place-based living.
There are moments to me that it seems strange I ended up on the path of herbalism. I was in the construction/building industry and I was loving it. My husband and I owned a construction business and did well for ourselves. Although I was familiar with energy medicine, it wasn't until my son was born that I took an interest in natural healing/remedies/medicine. As a family we 'ate well' and were generally healthy, but a combination of difficulty nursing and my son having severe acid reflux lead me down the path of holistic medicine. My healthy eating obsession morphed into living a more holistic lifestyle. I became obsessed with 'all natural' because I didn't want to 'poison' my baby with anything. I started making our cleaning products, skin care products, and herbal syrups because anything I bought at the store had something unacceptable to me. I then met a Shaman of the Inca Tradition, who become my mentor and teacher. After going around the medicine wheel with my teacher, herbalism showed up in my life for the third time and I followed it. My life has changed in many ways since then. It has been both frightening and exhilarating at the same time.
I started in the East West program in October 2012 after I took a few random classes in western herbs. I knew I had aligned with my path when I read The Way of Herbs. This course has stretched me in surprising ways. I'm loving every minute of it. It's my intention to open a herbal practice, become certified with AHG, obtain a nutritional health certification, and blend shamanism into my practice.
Around the time I started the East West program I started an all natural, organic skincare line, Danu Skincare. It is my mission to help women age gracefully, naturally because we deserve more than a bottle of chemicals.
When I'm not studying, or working on my business which I really enjoy, I like to spend time at home with my family, have good conversations with friends, cook and starting knitting projects that I'll likely not finish. My life is filled doing the things I love. The East West program is such a gift to me. I'm grateful I am on this path.