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My direct experience with herbs as medicine only began a few years ago.  Even so, I believe that they were always there running a parallel path with me and, like little brain synapses, connections were being built over time. 

I grew up in the center of the Western medical model in the 1950s.  My doctor dad and nurse mom were part of that new generation that embraced the miraculous “magic bullet” perspective signified by the antibiotic.  Every sniffle in our household resulted in my three siblings and I being lined butts up on the couch for a shot of penicillin.  I didn’t fare as well as the others and tended to be chronically tired and ill with one thing and another.  Because no medical reason could be established, I was eventually dismissed as being weak and a bit of a hypochondriac (even though I had significant and measurable symptoms).

Even so, it was a good childhood in a small rural town where I developed an abiding love of nature.  I always spent time outside communing with my frog friends and voraciously reading in my private “room” under our huge lilac.  This microcosm set the ground for my passion for social justice.  College was exchanged for membership in what was considered to be a radical group (SDS – Students for a Democratic Society) and I lived in a commune dedicated to social justice.  Later I hitchhiked around Europe for a couple years.  Along the way I was introduced to healthier food choices and alternative health modalities – still not in the forefront but securely tucked in my back pocket.

After marriage and children I went back to school and was able to fully indulge my interests in social justice.  My academic work was centered on history, Cultural Theory and Whole Systems Theory and I found that most often I was drawn to issues around food, water and health – and more connections were made.  Through all of this, I gardened.  I considered my garden my sanctuary and I was always most happy on my knees weeding. 

In the last few years, I noticed I was incorporating more herbs that had medicinal uses into my garden but I realized I didn’t know them or their uses well.  I also found that my need for the big structural picture just wasn’t meshing with the memorization of single herbs for this or that disease.  Happily, all the connections converged after I retired from my job.  I worked with a very gifted herbalist, Rosalee de la Forêt, who many of you know as a graduate from the East West program.  I could see the big picture and consolidation in her practice and it made me want to know more.  I signed up for the East West study program and its systemic approach to herbal study has made all the difference.  I am starting my advanced year in the program and my intentions are wide open. 

I’ve felt a connection with plants for as long as I can remember, but it wasn’t until my first move to the Southwest that I began to integrate them into daily life.  There I discovered how the native cultures traditionally used plants, and how they are still using them today.  It fascinated me, and inspired me to complete my Consulting Herbalist certification at Clayton College of Natural Health with Phyllis Light.  It also spurred my graduate research into the medicinal plants of the San Francisco Peaks, comparing how the 13 tribes in the region utilize these plants.  While I loved academia and research, my real passion was making medicine and helping others to resolve health conditions.   After using Michael and Lesley’s books for years as resources, I was thrilled to finally enroll in this program. 

East West has helped me develop my clinical and diagnostic skills tremendously as I work with clients through my holistic practice, Banyan Moon Botanicals. There I strive to heal the whole person by utilizing herbs, nutrition and lifestyle recommendations.  As a registered yoga teacher, I will often incorporate yoga therapeutics into my treatment plans.  I’m also an adjunct professor for Kaplan University’s Department of Health and Wellness, and a freelance writer for natural health magazines and regional herbal publications.

I love sharing this knowledge with others, and can often be found leading various medicinal plant walks, kids in tow.  My goal is to keep learning and to keep sharing.  There’s always another layer to peel back!


I love sharing the wonders of wild edible and medicinal plants, and I am fortunate to make a living doing that. I'm the author of the book, "Dandelion Hunter: Foraging the Urban Wilderness," which Publishers Weekly kindly called "the funniest herbal adventure you'll ever read." I also write the herbal blog First Ways, and offer plant spirit classes and private plant walks where I live in Portland, OR. And I absolutely love doing energy healing with plants in my Plant Spirit Reiki practice. I am passionate about herbs and I love introducing people to them. Often it's a very special and empowering experience for people, because our culture has really become disconnected from nature, and people are eager to reclaim that sacred, primal connection that is still within all of us. The plants are such amazing beings.

Before I started studying with East West, I had a lot of experience with plant identification and had been wildcrafting herbs in the city and surrounding wilderness areas and making tinctures and salves, and I got to see them cure myself and friends overnight in a number of acute instances -- for example strep throat, urinary tract infections, and other occasions that call for herbal antibiotics -- which was amazingly inspiring to me. Because I was documenting this on my blog, people would sometimes write to me and ask about treating chronic conditions or complex diseases, and I didn't really have much to offer them because I did not have an understanding of how to use herbs holistically. This course has been extremely useful to me in helping me develop an understanding of how herbs work for chronic conditions and how they can balance each individual's body energetically to enhance health and prevent illness.

I'm very much looking forward to the upcoming herbal seminar this April. I'm excited to deepen my knowledge and meet the inspiring teachers who created this wonderful course.

It's only fitting that every photo I've found of myself lately includes my daughter - my studies at East West coincided very much with my transformation into a mother. I decided when I was pregnant that I wanted to create a long-lasting and valuable family legacy for my daughter, one that was primarily based in plant medicine and the traditional knowledge of ancient cultures and first peoples. I wanted this to be my daughter's foundation, her strong beginning, and so I signed up for my formal studies at East West School of Planetary Herbology in September 2012 when she was just three months old. I have embarked on this lifelong journey of herbalism with her and all future generations in mind.

My goal is to foster a world where the norm is living wholly and healthily - one where the focus is on prevention rather than cure. My natural journey began with studying Permaculture in Australia from 2005 to 2007. There, with some amazing individuals in really diverse communities, I first became deeply immersed in nature in a way that was previously unknown to me. It was also during this time that I began my connection with plant medicine, and the flame was lit under the cauldron of herbal creation in my soul. Upon relocating to Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, in my native Canada, I shared a home with two women who had devoted their lives to practicing herbalism personally and professionally, weaving the rich web of plant medicine in the Pacific Northwest. I took that inspiration and ran with it, starting my informal independent studies on my own.

Through the years I continued to travel and explore, eventually making my way to California where I made my home, put down some roots and fertilized those roots with my enrollment at East West. Up until then it had been a journey of a serendipitous sort and since then my herbal journey has taken a more deliberate shape.

I've worked in the natural health industry for many years, mainly in retail. As an advanced student in the East West Professional Herbalist Course, I plan on completing my clinical certification within the next year. I am looking forward to the privilege of attending the EW seminars and transforming my student membership in the American Herbalists Guild into a professional one. Recently my aspirations have grown beyond my original intention of simply creating a family legacy to planning to go into clinical practice. The idea of being able to help people every day is exciting and exhilarating. My confidence is growing each day as the building blocks of my career are laid: creating my website, working with my first clients, living the day-to-day life of an herbalist. East West has given me the foundation and tools to build a career that I didn't even know I was looking for. With their education and guidance I hope to influence and guide not only my daughter but her generation and generations to come in a relevant and helpful way. My 30th birthday is the first day of March and being honored as Student of the Month at East West is the best gift yet - one I believe is a wonderful omen in this prosperous and possibility-filled Year of the Horse.


My love of the natural world was instilled early by growing up in the beautiful and challenging environment of outback Australia.  Being surrounded by people who were keen observers of plants, animals, and weather was a treasured part of my childhood education, as was riding a horse to the schoolhouse my sister and I attended!  Our rural life meant further schooling had to be in Sydney, where I later obtained my university undergraduate degree in psychology and anthropology. 
My deep interest in immersing myself in other cultures and exploring some of the Big questions of life led me to adventure abroad for many years.  I  lived and worked in some wild, remote parts of the world -- New Guinea, Morocco, Jamaica, West Africa. These experiences distilled in me a passion to work with people’s health and wellbeing and find ways to encourage reconnection to our deeper selves and the Earth. This began a rich and meandering journey to weave together a variety of the healing arts. Initially, I studied nutrition at the UNC public health school and worked with a research group at the university. I then studied massage therapy and went on to co-found a massage school and healing center. Some years later, I picked up the threads of my undergraduate psychology degree and became a certified Hakomi therapist. This became my main work for the next 25 years, and ultimately led me back to the Southern Hemisphere where I taught psychotherapy students and ran a private practice. 
Along the way I sustained my love of gardening and growing and cooking wonderful food. I also love to collect plant materials in my wanderings to weave into baskets. I  spent a number of summers with Aboriginal people in Northern Australia learning about collecting wild foods and medicines, and tending spiritual relationship with the Earth through ceremony, story, and song. 
It wasn’t until my return to the U.S. in 2010, however, that herbal medicine blossomed for me. And what a joy that has been!  I graduated from Rosemary Gladstar’s course on the Art and Science of Herbalism, learned from various local herbalists in Oregon, and eventually began study with the East West school in early 2013.  Herbal studies have rekindled my commitment to the search for alternatives to mainstream healthcare, to enhance both my own and others' health.  I am finding an exciting convergence between my previous work with people’s psychological and physical energetic patterns and the energetic foundation to herbalism as taught in the wonderful East West course.
I hope eventually to develop a small home practice weaving together herbal and other healing approaches to benefit my family and community.
My first exposure to herbs was soon after moving to Montana at age 12 when my mother came down with pneumonia. She took echinacea as part of her healing process, and so my young curiosity was struck.
I spent the early years of my career doing retail management, marketing, event coordination. However, feeling a sense of longing to find my true “calling,” in 2004 I left my corporate job to go work as the manager of a small alternative bookstore called Barjon’s. It was at this store that my interest in herbalism really blossomed. 
Having studied energetic and shamanic healing systems for many years, I found myself now very interested in the more bio-physical application of plants. This propelled me to the independent of study of Chinese medicine and herbs. In 2010 I took over ownership of Barjon’s and shifted its focus onto being a formal apothecary.
Soon thereafter I attended my first formal herbal training at a week long seminar at the Shang Shung Institute for Tibetan Medicine. Although I have great love for the Tibetan system of healing, my desire to not be limited to one particular tradition of herbalism propelled me to pursue a more universal approach. This led me to East West School of Planetary Herbology in 2012. 
Upon attending my first seminar that spring, my expectations were far more than exceeded. Having my roots as an energy healer I was delighted to learn that both Michael and Lesley Tierra were not only clinical practitioners, but true healers in the deepest shamanic sense of the word. I felt truly at home.
My clinical practice has evolved and grown very organically over the past several years.
Outside of work and study, I currently spend a great deal of time teaching meditation in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, as well as practicing martial arts, songwriting, singing, and spending time with my two wonderful children.
I am looking forward to implementing an herbal tonic tea room into my existing apothecary in early 2014, as well as teaching more classes and workshops. My goal is to do more research and education in the area of “so-called”  incurables such as HIV and hepatitis C.
I feel very honored to study under the guidance of such an amazing faculty at East West!
Please feel free to visit my website at www.barjons.com

I was born and raised in Hong Kong. I went to college in Australia and lived there for eight years, earning my bachelor's degree in computer science and an MBA. My career has been in I.T. thus far despite my interests, which probably have always lay somewhere else. I like tennis, piano, interior design, marketing, and travelling – I guess that’s the part of me who enjoys exploring new ideas, new concepts and getting excited with finding something new.

I had been very lucky to be growing up in a fast-paced city that has always embraced East meeting West. This means there were bottles of anti-inflammatory pills alongside Yin Qiao San sitting in our medical cabinet and to me, both of them were labelled as magic bullets back then. My journey with natural healing started with aromatherapy and with amazing results using essential oils to treat circulation related infection and muscular challenges. These inspiring experiences made me wonder about how smart or complicated human bodies are. Since then, I have looked into Bach Flower remedies, qi gong, and massage therapy until I started a natural healing program locally in 2008. All these have truly transformed my concept of health and enabled me to know myself better, both physiologically and psychologically.

I strongly believed that synergizing western herbalism and energies of TCM is where herbalism will shine. Hence, when I decided to further my herbal studies in 2011, East West Planetary Herbal program appeared as the perfect choice. I am so grateful that I have the opportunity to learn and grow with this family of East West herbalists! Apart from herbal knowledge, I grew as a therapist more so as I learn from the inspiring teachers who demonstrated respect for not only medical practitioners, but fostered connections through themselves and others to a better world!

I have been in apprentice practice for some time now and I think the perfect place for my natural healing practice to land is in training and consultative family care. I think everyone of us deserves a better sense of our health and even more so support people in regaining control of our health through a combination of healthy lifestyle, self-awareness and the right natural treatment, be it herbal, structural or psychological treatments. Only when we own our destiny can we do something about it!

Website: www.zensesinhealth.com

I was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA, and it was traveling abroad that really enlightened my life path and purpose.  

Six years ago I fulfilled a dream of traveling through India and this is where my journey as a healer began. I guess you could say that my whole life was leading me in this direction. I began studying metaphysics as a young child under the mentorship of my aunt who was a healer and intuitive. I was sick all the time growing up and constantly drawn to herbs and alternative therapies.  My cousin is a homeopath and she lived with us for a few years when I was a child as well.  Suffice it to say, I was surrounded with the appropriate influences and my interests leaned in this direction.  But I would have never imagined this would be the course of my career and way of life.

I attended the University of Michigan, where I studied Economics and Music Theatre.  I juggled aspirations of big business, performing arts and film production. Following those paths, I spent a few years working in consulting, finance and the entertainment business.  With each step forward I found myself more frustrated and disappointed with the corporate environment and the state of the world. So, I let it all go and went off to Africa and Asia with a backpack for seven months.  And alas, I ended up in the Himalayas of India at the doorstep of my first teacher of the healing arts.  

Everything changed and I began my practice as an energy therapist.  My true awakening to herbalism happened later that year when I developed adrenal fatigue. At the time, however, no Western doctor could diagnose or treat my condition. But when I took my very first Chinese patent formula from an herbalist, I finally saw results. Curiosity became a thirst for knowledge and so I formalized my studies in December 2011, when I enrolled in the East West program. Through this journey of study, camaraderie and herbal healing, I have fallen in love with herbalism.

When I'm not working with clients, I spend time writing and making music. I am in a band, The Sri Sris, and we travel around the country giving healing-yoga workshops and performing devotional music.  We recently completed our first album "Meet The Sri Sris," which you can find on iTunes.  I also love sci-fi/fantasy books and movies, hiking, camping, traveling, hot springs and adventure sports.

I plan to continue building my clinical practice as an energy therapist, herbalist and meditation coach.  I can't express enough gratitude for the East West program and all of the amazing teachers who have touched my soul both over online chats and in person at the annual seminar. I am forever changed. Thank you!


thomas-headshot2I am a clinical herbalist and holistic health consultant and have been part of the Goldthread team for the past four years. I started as a student of William Siff's and transitioned to Goldthread's operations manager, herbalist and chief medicine maker. I am currently focusing primarily on his studies under William's mentorship; I completed the Goldthread Farm to Pharmacy and Clinical Herbalist programs and also have studied at schools of esteemed herbalists Michael Tierra and Paul Bergner for the past two years, and under Lonny Jarrett for pulse diagnosis and clinical intake. My love of herbs stems from his childhood spent on a family farm and many hours spent outdoors exploring the woods.

My career education began with my family on farm and construction sites, where I developed a vast knowledge of building from blueprints to finished structures. I studied mechanical engineering in college, and subsequently worked for 10 years as a flight mechanic. I followed my passion for the herbal lifestyle, leaving the flight mechanic job for Goldthread's greener pastures.

I am a certified yoga teacher, having completed my Iyengar training under Eileen Muir, and I am also a certified Qigong Teacher under Dr. Yang Jing Ming. Other passions include martial arts, which I have practiced for 18 years, and wilderness and survival training.

I hope to be a great clinical herbalist and teacher of herbalism who can help many people. I just started my clinical practice a month ago and find great teachings everywhere I turn. Come and follow me on Facebook, I have tons of great info and events.

Thomas P Schieffer @ vital-herbalist.com 

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