My sister and I took a trip to New Orleans over the winter holidays and lucky me to stumble across this gem of a museum. Now I’m already a bit of a museum buff, I like the chance to sit with things and ponder their significance in our world, so combine that with bottles and bits and herbs and potions and it’s almost too much!
Wishing you a New Year filled with peace, smiles, and candy canes
For the final clinic of the year we throw a foot fiesta at the Open Door Community. In addition to offering full foot care services and community acupuncture, we sip cider, nibble on sweets, and spin those holiday tunes– I’m talking some James Brown’s Funky Christmas and a little Motown action.
Thanks to the help and contributions of our volunteers and friends, we are also able to hand out gift bags to our friends on the street. We fill these bags with items to help keep the harsh winter at bay, such as herbal salves, cough drops, and cozy wool socks. For some photos of the final clinic of 2014, please click here.
It’s been over 8 years since I first sat down at the Open Door and had the honor of holding someone’s feet in my hands. In the tradition of counting our blessings, I feel grateful to have found the Open Door and their open hearts. They have been an inspiring force in my life. I want to thank them for their commitment to service, for their unwavering dedication to human rights, and their courageous ability to take direct action. May you all find your inspiration this New Year.
GROW A ROW for the HERBALISTA FREE CLINIC!
Together with the Funny Farm of Stone Mountain, we are excited to share the launch of our new project — Grow a Row!
Our Goal – To supply the Herbalista Free Clinic with locally and sustainably grown herbs by enlisting and supporting our local farmers in our Grow a Row Project. We hope that this will not only bring more herbal medicine to the people of our community, but will help develop a market for locally grown medicinal herbs!
•Grow and donate high quality herbs for the Herb Bus apothecary
•Develop a market for locally grown medicinal herbs
•Collect data on production rates for herb production
•Study the potential for herb growing as a profit center for local farmers
•Promote bioregional herb production
•Spread knowledge about herb growing
WE WILL PROVIDE THE FOLLOWING:
•Guidance on what herbs might be profitable to grow
•Seed or plants for the 9 herbs we need for the apothecary
•Advice on production techniques for herbs we have experience with at The Funny Farm
•On-going support throughout the growing season
•A team of gatherers to harvest herbs at the appropriate times
•Medicinal uses and recipes for each herb.
The Herbalista Free Clinic, traveling via the Herb Bus, provides free clinical care, a spot of tea, and herbal education in the Atlanta area. The Herbalista Free Clinic is the 2013 recipient of the American Herbalists Guild Community Service Award. For all the herbalistic details, please visit the Herb Bus website at www.HerbBus.org
The Funny Farm is a 3 acre suburban permaculture haven, located in Stone Mountain, GA where Duane and Robin grow veggies, small fruits, herbaceous and woody flowers, medicinal herbs, mushrooms, and worms. They teach classes on organic gardening, sustainable living, and run the medicinal herb line Stone Mountain Herbs. For more information, please visit www.funnyfarmatl.com
Please print our info packet: Grow an Herb Row
Join us at the Grow a Row Groundbreak!
February 14th, from 10am -1pm
at the Funny Farm
FREE but RSVP required!
Join other farmers and urban gardeners with an interest in medicinal herb growing. We will review our 9 herbs in depth, including growing tips and medicinal applications. These are herbs that the Herbalista Free Clinic uses in abundance and have practical applications for even the kitchen herbalist! Choose your herb and receive the seeds to Grow a Row!
Thanks to everyone for their support as we continue
Building Community through Herbalism!
For more information, please contact us at
Last week, when getting ready for our annual Foot Clinic Holiday Fiesta I put together around 30 aromatic inhalers to put in our winter care gift bags. We dispense a lot of aromatic inhalers, aka sniffers, on our Herb Bus rounds. They are useful for so many ailments and cheap and easy to make. You can order the blank inhalers from most any essential oil supplier these days. I order packs of 100 in the most lovely of greens from Aromatics International.
These particular inhalers were simply 9 drops of Olbas oil (an essential oil blend of peppermint, eucalyptus, wintergreen, juniper and clove) dropped onto the cotton insert. We often dispense these sniffers from the bus to folks suffering from sinus congestion and find they reliably provide relief. The blend has a pleasant smell and is also generally uplifting and energizing.
This is a photo of our Aromatic Oils Kit, that travels with us on the Bus. In it we stock around 20 different essential oils, a bag of blank inhalers, and a few other preparations (such as herb-infused oils and aromatic waters.) We custom blend inhalers for a variety of issues. Beyond the straightforward such as resolving congestion, essential oils also provide tremendous emotional support. They are useful tools when dealing with a range of feelings from grief to anxiety to addiction. One of my favorite books that I often refer to when putting together an aromatic remedy is Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit by Gabriel Mojay, a wonderful acupuncturist, aromatherapist, and teacher who travels over the pond from England to visit us here in Atlanta from time to time.
Aromatic inhalers are not only effective, cheap, easy, and convenient– they are a journey for the senses.
Update: Here is another post on sniffers with a few blends to support the J-20 Defendants.
In Defense of Good Herbalista Practices (GHP’s), or
Healthcare Practitioners are not Manufacturers, or
The Rejection of Rules Written in the Name of Mass Production by a Practicing Herbalist
The current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMPs)[i] were created by the FDA to regulate the growing industry of dietary supplements, including herbs. As the name implies, these standards and protocols were created with the mass manufacturer in mind and not with an eye towards the specific needs of the practicing herbalist. Despite their obvious bias toward the manufacturing model, the FDA has written these regulations in a way that binds the herbalist, forcing them to adhere to inappropriate and often economically unfeasible requirements. In an effort to soften the blow, the FDA stated that it would “be appropriate to consider the exercise of our enforcement discretion, on a case-by-case basis.”[ii] This offers no respite; they have most assuredly reserved the right to apply this rule to the ordinary herbalist. These regulations interfere with our ability to provide affordable herbal care to our community and most certainly infringe upon a patient’s access to quality healthcare. And while the effects of these regulations may not yet have made themselves felt to the larger community, it is still important to speak out and make our objections known.
In the mass-production manufacturing model, the success of any company is measured by their growth and by their profit. The goal must be to create larger and larger batches, destined for an ever greater number of shelves, in increasingly distant lands. These remedies must survive multiple transits and transactions, making the manufacturer and ultimate recipient strangers to each other and accountability quite difficult. And so the cGMP’s were penned, in defense of a vulnerable public from the possible negligence of a faceless manufacturer.
In contrast, our success is not measured in dollars, but in quality of life– in the vitality of our patient, in the health of our community. Most clinical herbalists make small batches of medicaments with their community in mind, maintain a modest sized apothecary, and dispense herbal remedies that have been custom compounded for their patients. These remedies are then delivered directly to the patient. There is no middleman involved. The relationship between herbalist and patient can be well established and accountability quite possible.
Herbalists are not manufacturers; we are healthcare practioners. Our relationship with the public exists in an entirely different realm from that of manufacturing. Our aim as herbalists is to provide patient focused care. And this means working with quality herbs. With this in mind, we are often involved with our remedies from their harvest until they lay in our patient’s hands. Sometimes we even plant the very seed of our future medicaments. We are intimately familiar with the qualities of the herbs we use and are trained through time and experience to differentiate plants and understand the variety of quality or action that can result from fluctuation in rainfall, sun, location, or harvesting time. We wear many hats – grower, wildcrafter, medicine maker, apotheker, educator, practitioner, and more. It is becoming clear that to require herbalists to adhere to cumbersome criteria intended for mass manufacturers is an insult to our vital craft and will result in the degradation of the practice of herbalism. The more the cGMP’s force the practitioners away from the making of their own medicines by creating these prohibitive requirements (in cost, time, and infrastructure), the less herbalists will handle the materials of their craft. We will lose our herbal intimacy, dulling our understanding of the very tools we use to heal. This is like asking a violinist not to tune her own instrument or a cook to never do prep work. And while these comparisons are a bit clumsy, one thing is quite clear – under these current GMP regulations, the making of herbal medicine has been handed over to the manufacturing industry in the realm of commerce, whose bottom line (as time has repeatedly shown) is profit, and NOT the health and wellness of people. The FDA has no business lumping the herbalist with the natural products manufacturer. This is a misstep.
For all of the years leading up to now, on the land mass we call the United States of America, the people have ALWAYS maintained the right to practice and utilize herbal medicine. We have never before been restricted when making medicines from the earth to support our vitality and wellbeing. The health of this nation has been on a slow decline, with chronic disease ever on the rise. This is the time to empower the local healer, not to hobble them.
I cannot accept FDA guidelines, which require me to exclude “dirt” (Section 111.15) from my premises. What do they think herbs grow in? I will not abandon making medicine under sky in the open air where the plants grow because those premises do not “include floors, walls, and ceilings.” (Section 111.20) I will neither apologize for washing my bottles in merely a double (instead of a triple) basin sink, nor for making medicines in a kitchen where I also prepare my personal meals.
As a practicing herbalist, I have made a pledge to my patients, to my community, and to my planet to heal and serve. This means that I hold to certain standards of practice, such as cleanliness, transparency, sustainability, environmental protection, quality, and affordability, all of which guide my daily practices in the clinic and apotheke.
I have created varied documents over the years, which guide our work at Herbalista Headquarters, as we strive to create vital medicaments to share with our community. They are but a continual work in progress, as our practice and procedures certainly change over time; just as flexibility is a sign of good health, we need to be able to adjust with integrity to the changing needs of our community, to the resources at hand, and developments of our own understanding of health. These documents now form the beginnings of what I will tongue and cheek refer to as our current Good Herbalista Practices (cGHP’s) and I invite you to read, share, modify, and utilize as you desire. We hope to add more documents to the database on the Herbalista website over time in the hope that they support the craft of the practicing herbalist and help us continue our traditions in healthcare.
~ Herbalista Lorna
December 6, 2014
[i] CFR Title 21 – Food and Drugs; Chapter 1 – Food and Drug Administration Department of Health and Human Services; Subchapter B – Food for Human Consumption; Part 111 – Curruent Good Manufacturing Practice in Manufacturing, Packaging, Labeling or Holding Operations for Dietary Supplements.
[ii] Comment 32 from Final Rule Page 34793 of Vol. 72, No. 121 June 25, 2008
Congratulations to Occupy Medical Eugene!
It was an honor to be asked to present this year’s AHG Community Service Award to this group of dedicated healthcare workers. Born of the Occupy Movement, they continue to offer practical, alternative solutions to the current medical structure that neglects the poor and denies even the affluent, access to integrative and holistic treatment options. Occupy Medical offers no-cost, high quality, integrative medical services each and every Sunday on the streets of Eugene, Oregon. They put their love and respect for humanity into action. We are humbled by their service, inspired by their vision, and well, let’s just say, we have something of bus crush.
The days grow shorter and we will soon miss the abundantly warm embrace of our sunny, southern skies. The nights will grow colder, slowly slicing away at our skin, nipping and then biting our tender toes and ears. The barren branches will solemnly stand witness to the dissonant chord struck in our hearts, as the dimming light of winter threatens our primal need for security. Winter intimidates even the most finely housed of individuals.
To many the twinkling lights of holiday cheer are reminders of a home one doesn’t have, and the blanket that had offered a taste of rest will be unable to cushion against a frozen ground. What I am wondering tonight, is can this fading warmth actually stoke our abilities? Will we manage to take inspiration from the dying leaves burning in bright defiance against a cold, stark sky? Can the challenges of winter create champions of us all? I almost wrote that I hope it does, but I once read that hope is based on fear. And while fear is a strong motivator, it does not provide nourishment; action based solely on fear will be short lived. So even if fear be the initial spark, let us stoke our bonfires with compassion and sustain these flames on a love of community. And just to pour a little herbal fuel on the fire, please enjoy these recipes for herbal holiday gifts.