How were you introduced to the power of plants and what led you down this path of healing, naturopathy, nutrition and herbalism?
I was always really into nature and anything esoteric as a child and teenager. I always felt most at home in nature, bare footed and grubby. I was first introduced to crystals by my sweet elderly British neighbour, the kindest soul, my Auntie Maureen. I loved the ethos that a piece of such beauty was grown so deep in the earth and held healing properties. Auntie Maureen's husband, my Uncle Les was a keen gardener and taught me that food did not just come from the shop! I was fascinated at the beauty and bounty of growing a garden from a very young age. Along came the first modality I ever learnt- reiki- at the age of 17 (21 years ago!) and the continuation of this path of learning began to blossom over the years into a career. I began walking the plant path as an herbalist, long before my formal training. I felt so connected and inspired by nature, and I wanted to learn how to heal the body with nature's bounty. With this intention I committed to a 5 year degree to learn all things plant medicine and nutritional medicine. My work is to bridge the gaps between all of these modalities to assist people to heal! And write books about healing with plants! It is a constant evolution for me of this mighty path, my passion and purpose.
How did your new book, Plants for the People, come about?
I really wanted to create a book that is quite different from books of the past in this space. I wanted it to be beautiful but experiential and informative. I wanted to remind people of the depths that nature has to offer through the love language of plant medicine. I hope to awaken the remembering within, that we all are herbalists at heart.
I have been in practice for many many years and always wanted to write books, but life was so full to the brim. In truth it took me hitting my own health wall to awaken and create the space to bring my book forward. A total blessing amidst the muck!
How do you start your day?
Out in the garden. I wake early when the sun rises with my dogs (they are basically alarm clocks) and head outside. Bare footed, I ground my body, stretch a little and listen to the sounds of the bird songs.
We always cook breakfast, and keep phones switched off and work at bay. Creating a quiet container for a slow morning is super important for me. I often walk the dogs or go to the beach early just after sunrise.
A cup of herbal tea or a warming tonic by my side, I then shift into work mode in the later morning. Getting up early feels so good to me, as by the time I am ready for writing or clinic work I feel I have had a whole adventure in the morning!
What is your food philosophy?
Eat the rainbow! Make sure your veggies and fruits are varied, we are such creatures of habit and often really limit our varieties of foods. It is so important to have a diverse diet where possible. I also do not prescribe to any particular way of eating, nor do I suggest a one size fits all approach for my clients. I believe our connections to food is deeply personal. Food is medicine, this is the foundation of my food philosophy.
What's always in your fridge?
Homemade pickles, olives, plant based mylks, greens, seasonal veggies, organic pasture raised eggs, hemp seeds, nuts, nut butters, avocados, buckwheat flour, almond meal, maple syrup.
What’s always in your pantry?
Purple corn chips, sardines in a jar, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, coconut oil, gluten free pasta, passata sauce, coconut cream, coconut butter, nutritional yeast, pulses and grains, miso paste, nori sheets, dandy blend, pink sea salt and a gazillion herbs and spices! Oh and an infinitely varied collection of dried teas, medicinal mushrooms and medicinal herbal powders.
What do you turn to, to make you feel your best: food and all the other practices?
I call upon many elements to support myself, and do my best to make sure that I am weaving in these nourishing practices on the daily. Eating food that makes my body feel good is primary, I focus on quality proteins, great fats and seasonal fruits and veggies. I do my best to avoid skipping meals and stay super hydrated drinking spring water. I bring herbs and medicinal mushrooms into my day and I rest! Rest is the deepest medicine for me as I am naturally a fiery speedy Aries who historically has found it hard to embrace stillness. But as the years pass I am mastering it!
What are some of your favorite cookbooks and books on herbalism?
• Whole Food Cooking Everyday by Amy Chaplin
• Sweet Laurel Cookbook by Claire Thomas and Laurel Gallucci
• My New Roots by Sarah Britton
• Anything by Rosemary Gladstar!
• Plant Spirit Healing: A Guide to Working with Plant Consciousness by Pam Montgomery
• The Herbal Medicine Maker's Handbook by James Green
(There are honestly so many favs but these are the top 3 that came to mind for varied reading on the subject of medicinal plants)What is the relationship between people and plants?
It has always been, and will always be one of kinship. There simply is no separation! We have always been with the plants. It is now about finding our way back to them….
Where is a good place to start for someone new to the world of plants?
Begin to experiment with herbal tea! Tea is our most ancient method of ingesting plant medicines and can be a mighty potent way to get to know the plants better. Beginning to build your home apothecary can be so simple, start with a few dried plants you are feeling drawn to, and go from there.
What ingredient are you most excited about right now and why?
Ohhh that is a tricky question! Hmmmm, well our friends just made this incredible vegemite (very aussie) like spread called Oomite that I am obsessed with. Pretty excited about that!
Herb wise, I am having a very big affinity and appreciation for Chamomile. I am growing a whole crop of it in my garden and it just holds the softest energy, when I go out to harvest it I honestly feel like I am in the clouds. So mellow in the best possible way.We’ve heard you talk about how health doesn’t need to be overcomplicated and couldn't agree more. What do you consider to be the foundations of health and what tips do you have for simplifying?
Eating nourishing food and balancing your blood sugar.
Resting, sleeping well.
Moving your body.
Moderating negative self talk.
Of course there are more elements that support, but these are so simple and so essential.
What do you wish more people knew about plants?
That anyone can grow a garden! That anyone can learn the medicine of the plants! Plants are just the most approachable allies, and hold so much gold.What inspires you most about your practice?
Witnessing people heal. I am so honored to stand by, guide and cheer people on as they learn how to recalibrate their bodies and beings with the assistance of food as medicine, plants as medicine and lifestyle shifts.
As an herbalist I love how I am constantly learning, and that nature is my classroom. I am infinitely inspired by the innate wisdom of nature's intelligence, beauty and generosity.
How do you end your day?
Always softly. I make sure I am off any screens in the early evening and make a home cooked meal with my husband, the lights are low and warm. We read, or debrief about our days, share thoughts and wind down together. Often I have a warm shower with candlelight, especially after a long day of consulting I find this calms me and clears any cerebral and energetic congestion I have from a full day. I am usually in bed by 8:30pm, it's so funny how as I have gotten older I just adore sleep. Feels like strong medicine for me to truly allow my body to rest in the dark of the night, to welcome the next day with the sunrise.
ROSE AND TULSI OXYMEL
Heart opening, mellow and gently lifting. Oxymels are so wonderful added to fizzy water for a refreshing drink, or taken neat off the spoon.
1 litre (34 fl oz/4 cups) sterilised dry jar and lid
1.5 cup dried tulsi leaf
1 cup rose petals or rose buds
Unpasteurised raw apple cider vinegar
Raw local honey
Combine your dried herbal ingredients in the sterilised jar.
Pour over the vinegar until the jar looks half full.
Top off the remaining space with raw honey.
Place a piece of baking paper over the top of your preparation, then secure with the lid.
Label with the plant ingredients used, date made.
Place your jar in front of a sunny window to infuse, shaking it daily.
Let it sit for 2+ weeks, strain through a mesh strainer.
Be sure to press the herbs to extract the liquids, you can do this with a spoon.
Pop in a clean jar and keep in the fridge.