I don’t know what came first, my love of food or my love of plants. I don’t think it really matters, though, because they both go hand-in-hand and have persisted, and co-mingled, throughout my life thus far.
I believe that sovereignty does not just come from access to healthy, sustainable, and culturally appropriate foods. It also comes from access to safe, effective, and affordable remedies for a healthy and balanced life. Healthcare is a human right. When we practice herbalism, we practice an ancient and empirical tradition that emphasizes the body’s own ability to heal, but we cannot isolate the health of the individual from the health of the environment. As an herbalist, my duty is to not just assist others on their path to wellness, but to advocate for a better future that is more sustainable and equitable for humans and planet alike.
In our modern world, we have the ability to draw from many herbal traditions as well as from modern science to create a well rounded, integrative approach to health. Neither discipline is better than the other, and I hope herbalism gains the respect it deserves in the coming years. I am constantly learning more about herbalism, cultural competency, and social justice to be the best herbalist I can be.
I have been studying herbalism since my late teens and began my formal studies as a college student studying ecology and plant biochemistry. I was fortunate that the instructor of biology and chemistry labs, Allison Turner, was a trained herbalist who had her PhD in Pharmacogonosy. As a student, my interests focused on plant secondary metabolism and how these chemicals influence every relationship a plant has within its environment and their implications for the human body.
After college, I began more herbal-focused studies independently, online, and at conferences. Over time, I began to incorporate spiritual philosophy into my studies, as science, though vital, cannot teach us how to make sense of our world on its own.
Currently, I am training at David Winston’s Center for Herbal Studies to develop skillful clinical practice, and I study Traditional Chinese Medicine under Feng Xiao Liu, owner of Sinofilia Tea Shop.