My Herbal Journey

2012-3_7I grew up with a deep love for the wild and cultivated plants around me. I remember climbing up the mulberry and apple trees in my backyard to pick fruit, eating sour grapes too early off the vine in between sweet cherry tomatoes, and tucking myself underneath the queen annes lace flowers as a wee little one. Even though my mother insists that she has a “brown thumb,” she–and by extension I– learned a lot about growing plants from my grandfather who always told me he grew vegetables out of necessity to stave off poverty, but when he passed away I found two decades worth of an Organic Gardening magazine subscription in his grow room. I feel so lucky to have grown up the daughter of Indian and Italian immigrants who retained enough of their culture to teach me a lot about food as medicine.

I have an academic background in the biology of bodies and disease, and then I studied reproductive health in women’s circles and community clinics. But I kept working in rural and poor communities that are disproportionately affected with chronic illnesses due to industrial waste, poor nutrition, and limited access to preventative care–all of which come, in large part2012-3_4, from the pharmaceutical industry that I intentionally left. And so I started to pursue more holistic and accessible forms of healing and medicine.

Nine years ago, I met my herbal mentor: the magical, intuitive herbalist, Suki Roth, and I’ve been lucky enough to be her apprentice at Herb Haven in Alamance County ever since. Suki has been practicing herbal medicine for over two decades, seeing individual clients, collaborating with physicians and other health care practitioners, and selling products at all the local health food stores. Suki stewards a beautiful piece of land with hiking trails, medicinal herb gardens, and an apothecary. At Herb Haven, I’ve learned plant identification, cultivation, medicinal preparation, and clinical diagnosis–and I’ve learned how to be in deep relationship and communication with healing plants.

I also have training in Ayurveda, the ancient healing art originating from the Indian subcontinent. Ayurveda uses an elemental approach to understand the world and the cosmos, what causes disease, and how to affect health in the body, mind and spirit. I took a year-long intensive course through the Chapel Hill School of Ayurveda, and I continue to study the intricacies of Ayurvedic pulse and constitutional diagnosis, nutrition and herbal supplementation, and breathwork and energetic (marma) treatment. I am a certified Reiki master and am working on my Reiki master teacher’s certification. Reiki is a form of energy work that is rooted in Ayurveda, Traditional Chinese Medicine, and old Japanese healing arts. I have been studying Reiki for a decade and currently work with clients in private practice and through monthly Reiki free clinics in Durham.

I am a community herbalist. My herbal training is based in OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWestern eclectic, vitalist, and Ayurvedic traditions that extend back many generations in my family’s history. I use a marriage of clinical scientific, intuitive, and elemental approaches to my work, and my training in Reiki energy work informs my practice with plants and human creatures.