My Intro to Herbalism: Nature Always Finds a Way


I am about 1 month into my 6 month herbalism workshops at Farmacy Herbs ( and its amazing!  The classes are one day a week for 4 hours and they are making my last few weeks of teaching middle school livable!  The classes take the edge and dread out of my Mondays and they started at just the perfect timing.

To say I have become spritually drained by urban, public school teaching is an understatment.



This experience has challenged me more than I can process quite yet, but it feels a little something like this Taylor Swift Parody:

Well…. anyways, it has put me face to face with opposing forces  (hope / dispair)  (love/ fear).  So, at this point, yes I’ld rather be reading up on the herbs then have one more dead end conversation/complainant with folks who dont have th courage to dismantle this abusive system…

Happy Mullein!

Happy Mullein!

Of course, like most things, I am taking away  so much more from these classes than the intended, face-value information on the medicinal uses of herbs.  For one thing, I feel at home at Farmacy and Cemetery street.  I met Mary Blue ( Providence Herbalist) about 7 or so years ago through friends and have watched the herb shop, farm ,and education center grow to what it is today.  Simply being there is recharging and clarifying.  Especially considering how rapidly and drastically my life has transitioned in the past few years ( motherhood-divorce-writing rebirth-new life-and-stuff), Farmacy very much feels like my constant…

look at those fuzzy leaves!

look at those fuzzy leaves!

A highlight so far has been my general awe of the natural world.  We talked about Mullen and how it stubbornly finds its way pretty much any where:  gardens, wooded lots, even cracks in the sidewalk. Mullein can be used for several aliments especially coughs and congestion.  It is considered to be a respiratory aid.  Interestingly, Mullein is known to grow tall by the side of highway-a place that is known for its constant contact with air pollution and lung irritants. Nature, it seems will always have the last word.

So, I am inspired to come up with my own……….(drum roll………)

Healing naturally is gangsta!

Healing naturally is gangsta!

Nada’s Philosophy For the Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired

Learning about Mullein has inspired me to come up with the following ratio: Nature=Life=Love


love: expansion and fear: contraction

If Mullein ( love) can break through cracks in the concrete and thrive, well… we could break through this old shell of a world that no longer serves us…all those old instituations education system/capitialism/patriarchay…are already ripping at the seams. We just gotta keep pushing through…we gotz no where to go but up.



2 responses »

  1. Nada! It’s Chuck, chiming in for my annual comment. I guess I’m what they call a “lurker,” meaning that I read, but never comment. I prefer to consider myself an internet peeping Tom…… maybe not.

    Anyway, I just read this post and, coincidentally, have just read a journal article about elements of religious revivalism in the health food movement (this was written back in the 80’s, when one eccentric hippy was the only source for natural food in town). The two met in my mind, said hello, and came up with a question for you.

    I want to ask the following question: do you think that the natural medicine and/or herbal medicine culture, at least here in the States, functions in part as a religious movement? I don’t mean do people worship at the feet of natural medicine gurus or build statues of St. Nada Our Lady of Providence (though I would totally buy that statue), but I mean do you think that herbal/natural medicines provide a sort of spiritual experience for people divorced from their chemical components? I don’t mean to say that herbal medicine is all in the head, but conventional medicine is also at least partly in the head (as shown in almost every placebo-effect trial ever conducted), so why not herbal medicine?

    Let me give a quick anecdote (even though I usually hate anecdotes). When I was 15, I broke out in an insane strain of acne which, without exaggeration, ravaged my face and back. Smiling was painful, playing sports was painful, pretty much everything hurt and I was covered in red blisters. I was put on a drug called Acutane (and yes, I’m sure you’re well aware of the horrible side-effects it has on the liver and testicles, but I digress….) which totally cured me of this pestilence in a matter of months. When I was 21, I suffered a sports injury. Without getting too specific, it involved a whole lot of pain in my nuts (I guess that was specific after all). I was put on a painkiller called Indomethicin which was designed to treat blunt force trauma to the testicles. It did nothing. I naturally healed over time and threw the drugs away. When I was 25, I met Matt Lonergan (I think you know where this is going) who introduced me to a whole ton of natural, raw foods such as maca, cacao beans, goji berries, and the like. For a good year, I still ate a diet heavy in cooked foods and dairy, but I also mixed in these “superfoods.” Some of them has very real biochemical results (cacao wakes you up, like coffee), but others seems to influence me on a different level. Knowing the history of maca, how it was discovered, how it is produced, and what it is supposed to do, gave me feelings which were not easily located on the body. Maca, for instance, made me feel more balanced in sexuality – never feeling monastically neutered nor rabid like a teenage boy. Raw nuts didn’t let me lift heavier weights at the gym, but made me feel as though my body could “spring into action”, if you will, faster. I always wondered if these where strictly chemical reactions. If so, these chemicals could be re-created in a lab (pretty much like all vitamin additives are). If not, then what was causing it? The body is inherently chemical. There is nothing but chemicals which comprise our bodies. So if the chemical structure of maca could be recreated in a lab, why did no one bother making a “maca-esque supplement”? Why did people continue to pay $30 for a bag of powder at Whole Foods?

    I’m not suggesting that herbal/natural medicines are all hokus pocus, but I do wonder what your opinion is on the relationship between the chemical nature of these plants and the supernatural associations some humans have made with them. Is it all or the other? A mix? Something else?

    I referenced testicles WAY too many times in this comment. My apologies. I hope you’re doing well! Keep doing you thing,


    P.S. I didn’t spell check this either because I’m tired, so ya know….. yeah…..

    • Oh Chuck! Dont lurk! Call me and lets hang ou! lol!
      Well, thanks for your comments, I always apperciate the opportunity to call out “hey you pain in the balls!” and now I do!
      Sorry, I couldnt write back sooner, I was wrapping up the abusive relationship called urban public school teaching and Im currently in recovery mode…so yes, Ild love to take a stab at answering your question: Does natural/herbal medicine function as part of a religous movement? For me, no to religion but yes to spritual ( I feel in Awe of Allah’s creations the more I learn about all the cool herbs out there), as for others, maybe? From what I’ve observed though, not really. All the herb ladies Ive been around seem to regard herbs as I do
      ,as an opportunity to return to our collective roots as humans that used to know so much more about our world and how to live healthfully connected to it…
      As for the whole science trying to extract the medicinal properites in plants for pharma-use, I don’t think science will ever be able to do it right. Why? Take for example the ‘Ashwagnda’plant. An infusion is made with its root to use as a sedative, to support hypothroid issues, migrains, lupus, and even as a sexual regulator ( not enough sex drive as well as too much), its classified as an adaptagen because its an endrocrine system balancer…so Ashwagnda has Akoloiods- which are bad for the liver, we brought that up in class last week and it turned out that in isolation, it is bad, but as part of the whole plant, with all its other chemical constituants, its not a problem. I can come up with many more anedotes of plants that when scientists try to isolate one healing compound, like the flavanoids for example, the healing doesnt go as well or doesnt work at all when its isolated outside the plant…so yes, the more I learn about this magical natural world, the more spritually grounded I feel, to myself and others… But thats because I already belive that our world is magic- birth-death-farming-ect…, that we are all a powerful and magical force too, I feel thats behind things like the Arab Spring and the all the other worldwide movements right now- that we are finally starting to wake up to our true potential, as creators and healers and we know its time to carve out a world that better reflects who we me, its all connected. And isnt that, after all, what sprituality is all about?

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