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Little Free Apothecary by Alchemic Herbals Ltd.

Herbs are not Drugs

Herbs are not Drugs

I am often asked about what herbs should be used for this or that condition. This is the medical model, a diagnosis and a prescribed treatment. It's what we are used to in orthodox medicine. As a clinically trained registered nurse, I understand this model and have a role within it. My scope of practice in that model is clear and important. I love being a nurse. But being an herbalist (though complimentary) is something different.

As an herbalist, I approach health and healing differently. I do not consider herbs as specific agents for specific conditions. Plants are complex organisms made up of multiple constituents, any number of which may interact with an individual's body systems and chemistry in any number of ways. Because every person is unique, what I might suggest to support one person's recovery from, say... a cold... may be different from what I might suggest for another person recovering from a cold. Herbs are more than the sum of their constituents. In my experience, herbs have their own life and an energy of their own. We don't just "take" them; we interact with them. Herbalists call this dynamic "herbal energetics". How we describe and work with herbal energetics will be organized differently depending on the tradition observed.

Should I suggest marshmallow or elecampane or ginger to support your recovery from your cold? Clinically, they all have constituents likely to have a desired physiological impact. How do I choose? One herbalist might approach the question from the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) model of energetics and assess the flow of your Qi energy to decide which they might recommend. A Yogi practicing Ayurveda might assess your doshas or chakras. Still another, practicing the elemental system of energetics, may assess how the four elements are balanced in you before suggesting which herb would best support you in your recovery.

I practice clinical herbalism. My clinical background, education (and yes, bias) demand an evidence-based approach to health support. But I do practice herbal energetics as well. I've gravitated toward the elemental "wise women" tradition and the classical humoral system of energetics.

There is another element to the practice of herbalism. The herbalist doesn't serve the client only. She serves the plant as well. Some would say she serves plants first and the plants serve the client. More on that in another post.

Thanks for stopping by,

Angie Hilbert RN Herbalist

Alchemic Herbals Ltd. is my gesture of faith.

Alchemic Herbals Ltd. is my gesture of faith.

Alchemic Herbals Ltd. is my gesture of faith.

Faith in myself, that can make my own food and medicine; faith in you, that you can do the same, and faith in our world and its ability to care for us when we care for it too.

No one just wakes up one day and decides to make their own food. It takes us time to grow our resources, knowledge and confidence. Most of us take it in stages. Maybe we’ll plant a garden this year. Next year we make it bigger and start canning and freezing our produce. Maybe then we get a bee hive… a chicken coop… a rabbit hutch. Soon, we are bartering and sharing our skills with others who, like us, value living simply, close to the earth.

I started Alchemic Herbals to support the self efficacy of people who believe in the dignity of making their own food and medicine. Building your own herbal apothecary, like most things, is surprisingly simple once you get started. But everyone has different needs and has different concerns. That’s where I come in. My goal is to help you find the level of herbal support that’s right for you.

If you just want to make a few classic remedies with gentle herbs but don’t really know how, try an Alchemic Herbals DIY kit. You’ll find everything you need in the box. Just add your own honey, vinegar, or alcohol, and you’re on your way. There are kits for tinctures, infusions, and syrups. What I have on offer is seasonal and changes, so check back often. I source clinical quality herbs then do the weighing and measuring for you so you can be confident that your finished product will be proportionally correct and accurately formulated. Complete directions are provided for crafting the product and for administrating it when finished. There is always an extra label in the box for you to affix to your finished product so you can always see the ingredients and directions.

My kits will be on offer at the Crestline Farmer's Market, Shelby Farmers Market, and Picker's Market in Butler, Ohio.

If you are ready to be more independent in your herb craft, Alchemic Herbals also offers herbal classes. Work with advanced techniques, fresh ingredients, and learn about the biology, botany, and chemistry that can inform your choices in how you work with herbs. The next class, “An Outlander Apothecary” will be held April 12, 2022 at Crestline Public Library. Learn about the medicine-making techniques of Colonial America, have a taste of “spring tonic” and take the recipe home with you to make more. Future classes will be held at the Galion Chamber of Commerce Conference room kitchen beginning in May.

Many people want to work with herbs but hesitate because they have specific health needs, take prescription medication, or are under other medical treatment. In such cases, it is still possible to work with herbs as part of an integrated approach to your health. I take a limited number of consults to collaborate on a custom herbal protocol to support unique needs and work synergistically with conventional medicine. I am an RN, a Health Coach, and an Herbalist. I believe you are the one who should make your health care decisions but that you deserve to do so from a place of fully informed understanding and with the support of your entire healthcare team.

I sincerely hope I can be useful to you.

Thanks for stopping by,

Angie Hilbert RN Herbalist

(reprint: originally posted 2-20-22)