Community Herbalism and My Journey Towards Becoming a Clinical Herbalist

Community Herbalism and My Journey Towards Becoming a Clinical Herbalist

I have had a love affair with plants as far back as I can remember. I was fortunate to grow up in Minnesota with a home that had a garden, fruiting trees, and lilac bushes to keep me mesmerized throughout the summer and fall. I was also fortunate to have grown up in a family where vacations were spent in nature and exploring the many corners and crannies of the US where the outdoors were the main attraction. It's no surprise that these foundational experiences have led me on a career that studies plants and uses them to heal others. The bulk of my career has been focused on healing the skin but as my career and life evolves, I have begun spending more time leaning on my schooling to work more with herbs to heal the body, mind, and spirit.

Spring of 2020 was incredibly hard for all of us. Fear, lockdowns to keep us safe, trying to outrun a virus that was seemingly everywhere all at once. I was working for a global beauty brand, trapped on zoom calls for 8+ hours a day, withering. My loss of vitality led me to passing out every day in the afternoon, unable to hold onto iron. I was losing my hair, gaining weight rapidly, and feeling like complete trash in every inch of my skin. I realized that summer that this was a opportunity crisis. I left my role in Corporate America and formed Brooklyn + Rye. 

As with all projects, it evolved. A website built in a day turned into rapid growth. Turned into a store. Turned into a skincare practice. A move halfway across the country back to my hometown. Now three years later, I am making another shift in my career. I am going back to my one true love. Plants. I had begun an educational journey in Boston to study food historically. I love food and the cultures it encompasses. But I was missing a key piece: where do our food and herbs come from? I realized I needed to switch my focus to how to grow food and herbs. So I switched schools and joined the Sustainable Food & Agriculture program offered through UMass Amherst. My previous university training afforded me the chance to study the science of plants but it never really dove into the healing capabilities and spirit of the plants. 

My schooling has re-energized me and my vision for the future. Over the course of the next three years, I will be working on gaining my credentials as a Clinical Herbalist and pursuing my Registered Herbalist accreditation from the American Herbalist Guild. It is the highest and most rigorous credentialing program in the US for herbalists. 

For now, I will be practicing Community Herbalism for clients. What is Community Herbalism? Community herbalism is largely focused around traditional folk preparations and historical uses of herbs, but of course is also informed by modern uses and research. Common backgrounds of study in Western herbalism include Native American, eclectic, wise woman, earth-centered, and folk, among other traditions like Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine. 

As has been the case over the entire course of my career, skin healing and revitalization will be central to my work. But I will also be diving into how various other states of health impact the skin and how to better address these imbalances from a combination of internal supports and external treatments. I call it being a Regenerative Esthetician. I am so excited to take on this new learning path and tackle this extremely rigorous training.

It was and will always be about the plants for me. I hope you'll stick around for this next evolution as I build my kinship even more with these beautiful healers.


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