After many years of dabbling, I finally got serious about herbalism in 2006, when I attended Michael Moore’s Southwest School of Botanical Medicine in Bisbee, Arizona. What I valued so much about him as a teacher, and what I try to transmit to my students, was the way he taught us HOW to think about herbs – how to research, how to learn through sensory experience in our own bodies, and how to formulate custom herbal blends for individuals.
In Austin my herbal practice comprised growing and wild harvesting herbs, making tinctures and other herbal products, teaching herb classes, leading plant walks and seeing clients for individual consultation. I attended many herbal conferences and workshops and was a founder of the Texas Chapter of the American Herbalists Guild. To round out my knowledge base, I also became certified as a Personal Fitness Trainer, Licensed Massage Therapist and Certified Interpretive Guide.
A typical herbal consultation with me at that time went like this: when the client arrived I would cleanse them with water or smoke. This step would help them let go of the worries of the day and be present during their session. I would then bring them into my office and give them a simple nourishing tea to drink. We would sit together and they would tell me their story for about an hour. Some people speak unprompted, some like a question and answer format, either is fine with me. As they spoke I would take notes and along the right side of the page I would write down herbs that made sense to me as I thought of them. When we were done talking, I would line up bottles of tinctures all of the herbs on my list and “drop test” them. This means I would feel the person’s pulse and place a drop of the herb either on their tongue or on their wrist, close my eyes to feel the pulse, then open my eyes and get a first glance reading of how they had changed (or not). From the herbs that seemed to create a positive reaction I would create a custom tincture blend, usually a one ounce bottle intended to be taken over the course of a week. Often they would also get a tea and some other lifestyle recommendations.
In Berlin that style of practice is not permitted. I would have to choose between making herbal products OR dispensing them. After researching all my options and thinking about it long and hard I decided that my top priority is HANDS ON PLANTS, and that became the name I use for my herbal teaching activities. I chose a third path: I can bridge the gap between manufacture and consultation by teaching kitchen classes where the students can make their own custom formula under my instruction. Now I am a Kräuterpädagogin (certified herb teacher) and wellness massage therapist.