Today I have a very special guest answering some questions about herbal medicine and herbal remedies. For anyone who works with me, you know this is a special area of interest, and herbal remedies are something I strongly believe in using as part of holistic care. I recommend herbs to most of my clients, and it is great to see many herbs are backed by science and have evidence to support what traditional and holistic practitioners have been advocating for, for a long time.
Herbs have many uses and include but not limited to helping with stress, mood, immune, allergies, headaches, migraines, menstrual cramps, digestion, PMS, sleep, energy and skin health.
Lauren Hayes is the incredible woman, and herbalist, behind Wooden Spoon Herbs. Wooden Spoon Herbs is a boutique herbal medicine line based in northwest Georgia. This line is focused on bioregional ingredients and founded on the principal that plants gathered and processed by hand are more beautiful, flavorful and medicinally potent than any other. Lauren founded her company in 2014 and creates tinctures, salves, syrups, flower essences, bitters and luxury body care.
I found Lauren through Instagram and was immediately inspired and drawn to her philosophy and how connected she was to the land, and to her work. I started carrying Wooden Spoon Herbs at my clinic a few months ago, and everyone that has tried her products loves them and has found them so helpful! I am so happy to bring Wooden Spoon Herbs to Toronto, and that I have been able to connect with such an inspiring woman!
I asked Lauren some questions so that she can share her expertise in the area of herbal medicine. I hope you enjoy and learn more about this amazing field!
Q&A WITH LAUREN:
Firstly, what is Herbal Medicine?
Most often we think of herbal medicine as the use of plants to treat discomfort and maintain excellent health. I like to think of herbs as part of self care.
What do you do as a Herbalist?
At this point in my herbal journey, I am focused on making high-quality herbal remedies to provide to the public through my company, Wooden Spoon Herbs. I harvest wild plants, work with small-scale herb farms, and source the best ingredients available for the most potent medicine. I work with only small-farm grown herbs, and try to stay true to what grows in my bioregion of the Southeast ( of America). I never want to feed into the fad herbs from far-off lands, when there is so much medicine surrounding me where where I live,. That is true for everyone, no matter where you are. Medicine and magic are all around.
In the future I hope to have time to work one-on-one with clients, and open up a small practice. I practice a tradition of herbalism spearheaded by Phyllis Light called Southern Folk Medicine, which is a kind of constitutional medicine much like Ayurveda or Traditional Chinese Medicine.
When did your love of herbal medicine begin?
My dive into the depths of herbal medicine began about five years ago, when I was 22. I was fermenting a lot, looking at backyard edibles to work with, when I started reading more and more that you could use these plants as medicines, too. I headed down the green path and never looked back. I still ferment and use natural dyes and love the utilitarianism of medicinal plants, but everything is tinted with shades of ” how is this plant affecting in my life” in all that I do.
What do you love about what you do?
I love being out in the woods. I love learning new things about new plants, especially ones that are right under my nose. I love seeing a plant really work for someone and I love when that blows both of our minds. I love befriending new plants. I love teaching people about the medicine chest below their feet, especially in weedy plants that they pull out of their garden beds.
Describe the process you take whens sourcing and making your products:
Sure! So I have a few lists that I have made for reference when I am sourcing/producing: one of the farms that I work with and what comes from each farm, and the other for what plants I have to work with from saids farms and from what grows wild around me. I also use a book Medicinal Plants of the Southern Appalachias by Patricia Howell, who is an amazing Herbalist.
Whatever new product I am making comes from half divine inspiration and half narrowing down what I have to work with. Formulation looks like breaking herbs down into their actions and seeing what is a good fit. I also tend to use safe and weedy herbs in my products, for sustainability purposes.
How can the use of herbs be used in a holistic healing regime?
Herbs are just part of a healthy lifestyle, that should include nutrient-dense foods, clean air and water, stress reduction, and exercise. Herbs can be a boost to all of these aspects and can totally help keep you on an even keel. For example, you can add mineral-rich nettle and dandelion root vinegars to your cooked greens to boost nutritional content, or use adaptogen herbs like ginseng and ashwaganda to improve energy and lessen stress. You can even use herbs for things like migraines and menstrual cramps.
A DIY TINTURE RECIPE
A tincture is an alcohol extract of an herb. It is super easy to use, concentrated for maximum potency, and portable. One dropperful of tincture is equal to about three cups of an herbal tea. You can use 1:5 radio for dried herbs, or 1:2 ratio for fresh herbs, but below is a recipe for a “folk method” tincture, which is easiest to make and highly effective.
MAKING A TINCTURE THE FOLK METHOD WAY
Supplies needed: a pint mason jar, a sharp knife and cutting board, and some fresh herb- some good, easy and safe herbs to start with are sage, thyme, and dandelion.
- Gather your herbs in the mid-morning after the dew has dried.
- Discard any parts that don’t look green and happy. Brown spots, spots too low to the ground.
- Chop the herbs finely and stuff into the mason jar.
- Cover with vodka and put a layer of parchment or wax paper between the tincture and the lid. Tighten the lid.
- Shake your tincture!
- Label your tincture with the herb, its Latin name, “folk method”, and where you harvested from, as well as any other information you want to include. I promise you have to label it or else you will completely forget what’s going on in there.
- Keep the tincture in a cool dark place and shake it daily for two weeks, then steep it for another two weeks.
- Strain and bottle in an amber glass bottle to best preserve.
Ta-da! Now you’ve made a tincture!
Thank you Lauren for taking the time to answer these questions, and for offering such a nice recipe. To learn more about Lauren and what she does visit www.woodenspoonherbs.com