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.

IMG_5115This 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
Atlanta, GA

 

Endnotes

[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.

~Herbalista Lorna

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.

Herbal Holiday Gifts

May you be warmed by cinnamon and ginger from your hearts to your toes.

For full December Herbalista Happenings click here.

We are now accepting applications for our Herb Cart Program.  This service project of the Herbalista Free Clinic will provide free, earth-based care and health education beginning in 2015. The Herb Cart is a pop-up first aid station that sets up at soup kitchens and other communities in need around the Atlanta area.

We hope The Herb Cart will benefit all involved, by both get more healing herbs into the hands of the people and providing additional training opportunities for students of herbalism.  If you have been looking for a way to put your herbal knowledge to work, if you are looking for a chance to serve your community, then here is a chance to do BOTH! 

 

To volunteer with the Cart you must meet the following requirements:

  1. CPR and First Aid Certified within the last 2 years. This can be through any number of organizations, such as the Red Cross, American Heart Association, etc.  This must be completed prior to attending an Herb Cart Weekend Training Session.

  2. Attend an Herb Cart Weekend Training Session (Herbal First Aid, Herb Cart Protocol, etc.)  Each training session is limited to 8 participants.  Contact Lorna to register and make payment arrangements.

  3. Train at the Harriet Tubman Free Foot Clinic at least twice (Safety and Sanitation, Clinical Flow, Anti-Oppressive Practice, etc.)  This clinic meets every Wednesday Night at the Open Door Community.

  4. Demonstrate herbal competence, compassion & pragmatism as a healthcare worker. Please note, participation in the program is at the discretion of the Herbalista Crew. 

We will schedule Herb Cart sessions on various Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s throughout the year.

To enroll in this project, please complete the Herb Cart Application.docx

Upcoming Herb Cart Trainings  

 January 9th – 11th, 2015

FRI 7pm – 9:30pm / SAT 10am – 5pm / SUN from 10am – 5pm

Location: Herbalista Headquarters, Atlanta, GA

Cost: $250

February 20th – 22nd, 2015

FRI 7pm – 9:30pm / SAT 10am – 5pm / SUN from 10am – 5pm

Location: Herbalista Headquarters, Atlanta, GA

Cost: $250

November Herbalista Happenings

Here at Herbalista Headquarters we are always striving to come up with creative ways to make our endeavors sustainable and effective. Being flexible, allowing projects to shift and change over time as new needs are identified and methods realized, encouraging broad participation, focusing on training up the next set of helping hands and new leaders— all of these things are vital ingredients. We borrow often from the principles of “permaculture,” working to minimize waste and valuing feedback and diversity. Being a grassroots healthcare project means not only are we born of the community but must consistently reaffirm our relationship with it. And what better way to weave that web than to encourage active involvement in the day-to-day needs of our clinic. In October we tried out a new workshop model. The theory was simple – combine learning with service. We spent the day learning to make the remedies we use the most on the Bus, with special attention towards wintertime remedies. The supplies fee went towards our herbal ingredients, and 7 hours later folks had acquired new skills and the Bus had new medicines!! A win-win! You can read more about this amazing day here. Thanks to everyone who participated!

For those of you who have been following the work of the Bus, you might have heard mention a service project that has been in development over this past year. After lots of dreaming and scheming, I am pleased to finally announce the start of Herb Cart. This pop-up herbal first aid station will set up at soup kitchens and other marginalized communities around the Atlanta area. This project will offer BOTH healthcare to those in need and an educational opportunity for those looking for more hands-on clinical training. If you are interested in learning more, please read about project details and upcoming Herb Cart Training Workshops.

In this month of Thanksgiving, let us balance giving thanks with taking action. There is a lot of need in our world. I give thanks that there is also a lot of opportunity to address that need. We have many bodies, many brains, many hands, and many hearts. Let’s do this my friends. Together.

~Herbalista Lorna

For the full monthly newsletter, click here.

 WELCOME TO THE HERB CART

Screen Shot 2013-05-13 at 8.00.20 PMComing in 2015, this service project of the Herbalista Free Clinic will provide free, earth-based care and health education.  This pop-up first aid station will set up at soup kitchens and at other marginalized communities around the Atlanta area.  We hope this project will not only place more healing herbs into the hands of the people, but also provide an educational opportunity for those looking for herbal, hands on, clinical training.

If you have been looking for a way to put your herbal knowledge to work, if you are looking for a chance to serve your community, then here is the chance to do BOTH!!

To volunteer with the Cart you must meet the following requirements:

  • CPR and First Aid Certified within the last 2 years. This can be through any number of organizations, such as the Red Cross, American Heart Association, etc.  This must be completed prior to attending an Herb Cart Weekend Training Session.
  • Attend an Herb Cart Weekend Training Session (Herbal First Aid, Herb Cart Protocol, etc.)  Each training session is limited to 8 participants.  Contact Lorna to register and make payment arrangements.
  • Train at the Harriet Tubman Free Foot Clinic at least twice (Safety and Sanitation, Clinical Flow, Anti-Oppressive Practice, etc.)  This clinic meets every Wednesday Night at the Open Door Community.
  • Demonstrate herbal competence, compassion & pragmatism as a health worker. Please note, participation in the program is at the discretion of the Herbalista Crew. 

We will schedule Herb Cart Clinics on various Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s throughout the year.

To enroll in this project, please email Lorna@herbalista.org

Upcoming Herb Cart Trainings 

January 9th – 11th, 2015

 Friday evening 7pm – 9:30pm

 Saturday from 10am – 5pm

 Sunday from 10am – 5pm

 Herbalista Headquarters, Atlanta, GA

Cost: $250

 February 20th – 22nd, 2015

 Friday evening 7pm – 9:30pm

 Saturday from 10am – 5pm

 Sunday from 10am – 5pm

 Herbalista Headquarters, Atlanta, GA

Cost: $250

 

Pay It Forward Medicine Making Workshop October 24th, 2014 Sponsored by Homestead ATL
Pay It Forward Medicine Making Workshop
October 24th, 2014
Sponsored by Homestead ATL

This past weekend we tried something a little new.  It was part of the ongoing attempt to make community healthcare sustainable.  Because, as we all know, free clinics aren’t really “free.”  They cost money to stock and money to run.  The hope is that if we can get creative about how we do this, that the cost can be minimal and Herbalista Free Clinic can continue serving for a long, long time.

Since we were looking for more community support for the Herbalista Free Clinic, then what better solution than to literally put the community to work, stocking the bus.  At this medicine making workshop (sponsored by Homestead Atlanta) we combined learning with service.  We spent the day learning to make the remedies we use most on the Bus, with particular attention to the needs of the coming winter months.  The supplies fees went towards the herbal ingredients and 7 hours later everyone had acquired new skills and the Bus had new medicines!!

The list of medicines we made is based on what the Bus was currently low on or use the most often.  This time we made Echinacea MPS amplified tincture (an advanced preparation involving percolation and reduction), infused calendula oil, a pain and trauma oil rub, astragalus brandy, fennel glycerite, and a winter health tea blend.  We more than sold out the class!  I can’t tell you how good it felt to see this type of workshop so well received.

Looking forward to many more!

~Herbalista Lorna

 

Each year we set up an Herbal First Aid Station at the Southeast Women’s Herbal Conference to support this gathering of over 1000 women and children.  Our clinic is a collaborative effort between EMT’s and Herbalists, as we strive to provide compassionate care for this temporary community.  For more information on the clinic (such as how we stock it, staff it, the forms we use, etc.) please check out the SEWHC Herbal First Aid Station Manual.  This Manual is a free pdf download available at the herbalista website.  And for a glimpse inside this year’s clinic, check out our photo album.

A shot of the apotheke. The Herbal First Aid Station is a combined efforts of many -- the Herbalista Free Clinic, the Appalachian School for Holistic Herbalism, Red Moon Herbs, Traditional Medicinals, and the Clinic Crew!
A shot of the Apotheke.

The weather was lovely this year, the overall energy was so joyful, and I was particularly moved by the keynote given by Rosita Arvigo on service and the dharma of a healer.  While I am not situated to speak on the concept of “dharma,” I do know that while our work as herbalists (or any community healthcare provider) is often beautiful.  It also requires that we witness and work with deep emotional and physical pain.  When we partner with our patients through their struggles, we can be at risk of neglecting our own needs or those of our loved ones.  It can also be hard to grapple with the suffering of multiple patients all in the same day.  This is what can make a gathering like the Southeast Women’s to be so important, as it brings together a community, all of whom are dedicated to this path.  It gives us a chance to nurture and support each other, a chance for care-takers to be cared for.  We are grateful to have the chance to do just that.

~Lorna

Little gold VW busses now grace the Star Bar’s Grace Vault.  Elvis grants your every wish when you support the health of your community.  Thank you Star Bar for hooking this Bus up with what must be the coolest donation jar imaginable.

Viva las Vegas and the Herb Bus!

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