Prior to studying herbs, my background was in graphic design, having my own business and eventually working with a major state-wide and local newspapers and full service ad agencies. I moved from the East Coast to California in 1997 and my first introduction to herbs was with Jeanine Pollack in Soquel, CA. She was giving a demonstration of herbs and food combinations at an outdoor venue and what drew me to her was her incredible enthusiasm. It was so apparent to everyone that this delightful herbalist was in love with what she was doing! I immediately signed up for several of her herb walks and medicine-making classes.
A friend introduced me to Michael Tierra and he offered me a job of working in his garden. Michael taught me how to care for the plants, what they are used for medicinally, and when to harvest the herbs, dry and store them properly, along with watering, weeding and composting. I found out through Jill about the East West Planetary School of Herbology and immediately signed up.
I became healthier, just learning basic nutrition from the coursework. I was fascinated with learning that foods can make you healthy or they can make you sick and how to shift things in the right direction. I would say just knowing THAT basic information would radically change life on this planet. It did mine! In those first few years the herbs helped me overcome arthritis, urinary tract infections, depression, bursitis in my shoulder, colds and flu, hormonal imbalances, an under-active thyroid, parasites, worms, candida, leaky gut, etc. I have to say, when you notice parasites and worms exiting your own body – THAT IS SUPER EMPOWERING, NOT TO MENTION MOTIVATING!
What I must point out here is that, most of the time, I really did not feel sick at all and my energy seemed fine. But during my studies these are the imbalances I discovered, and I was able to correct them through herbal therapeutics, proper diet and healthier lifestyle habits.
Because of the profound effect herbal and dietary therapies had on my health, I became very interested in healing food therapies and was greatly influenced by the work of Dr. Bernard Jensen, Dr. John Christopher, Jethro Kloss, Weston Price, Adelle Davis, Ann Wigmore, Max and Charlotte Gerson and Paul Pitchford (among countless others).
My background now includes the study of many types of healing food therapies including Chinese teas, congees, soups, herbs, Ayurvedic therapies and cooking, detox therapies, juicing, raw foods and macrobiotic foods. I attended the Starting Point Wellness School in the Bay area and completed Wellness Cuisine Chef Certification, Levels I and II in Raw Foods and also studied with Thrivin Edibles Chef Patti at Cafe Gratitude in Santa Cruz, CA.
My very first herbal assessments began with myself, my family and friends. I ordered pounds of herbs and my home began to look like an herb warehouse. In making and taking my very first formula, I had no idea if this would work or not. It was a female hormonal formula and within several weeks the condition cleared up. THAT was an epiphany! It internally registered so deeply with me that we can make our own herbal medicine and that the herbs really do work! I spent that entire year making herbal formulas, tinctures, syrups, and salves. The delightful art of herbal medicine making was instilled in my heart forever.
Michael Tierra suggested to our advanced class, that taking a course in body work would help us fledgling herbalists better understand how herbs work in the body. Shortly after that, I enrolled in Twin Lakes College of the Healing Arts and fell in love with massage therapy as well.
I graduated from the East West School in December of 2001 and mentored with Michael Tierra for one year after that. I was seeing my own clients and we would review each case with suggestions and/or corrections /additions to my original analyses.
Following that, I earned my clinical hours through an apprenticeship with Keith Latham, L.Ac., an acupuncture physician in Tequesta, FL in 2002. For about a year, I set up and ran his herbal pharmacy according to the energetics of the herbs, tracking and ordering all of the herbs, powdering them, making sure the pharmacy was well stocked, encapsulating herbs, dry-frying or honey-frying when necessary, occasionally making decoctions and infusions, and daily filling herbal prescriptions for the patients. In the evenings after work, each week I was in Susan Kramer’s riveting online study group, trying to come up with the perfect analyses for those amazing case studies.
While still seeing clients, I worked in health food stores in Florida and Chicago in their Natural Living departments. I was trained and educated by many of the well-known herbal and supplement companies about their products and formulary, which was a powerful education in itself.
I became a professional member of the American Herbalists Guild in 2008. I am a trained clinical herbalist and a licensed California massage therapist with my own company, Herbal Vital Health. It is also my honor and privilege to have recently been elected as president of the new Greater Bay Area Chapter of the American Herbalists Guild; and, for the incredibly rewarding opportunity of serving our community locally with an amazing group of super-talented herbalists, herb teachers and nutritionists, etc. at the East West Free Clinic as well. You can read all about our latest herbal adventures at http://cagba-ahg.org