One of the blessings of herbalism is the sense of community it creates within those who practice it. I am always so pleased to speak to other herbalist and find out how they began their herbal journey. Today, I would like to welcome Sharron Lavy. Sharron is the accounts manager at the Bulk Herb Store.
I am always interested in how others started learning about herbal medicine. Can you tell me your herbal story?
When I was younger, I knew nothing about the world of herbs. My parents did not go to doctors much, or use medications and drugs to treat sickness unless absolutely necessary; but herbs were not a common alternative in my family either. I can only remember going to the doctor approximately 3 times while growing up.
The year I turned sixteen, I worked for the Bulk Herb Store the 3 months of summer vacation. It was like an entire new world was opened up to me! I never knew there were so many plants on God’s green Earth that could heal the body naturally. I soaked up as much knowledge as I could that first summer. Every spare moment was spent perusing books and asking questions of Shoshanna to glean all that herbal knowledge from her that I could.
When high school resumed for me that fall, my herbal education fell by the wayside for the next 2 years. The spring I graduated high school and turned 18, I applied for a job at another herb company in our area where I worked for the next 2 ½ years. During that time, I begin to teach myself about herbs and what they were good for by utilizing the opportunities that were available to me, mainly the internet, books, and people. My employer at that time also paid for me to take an herbal course online and by textbook.
After working there 2 ½ years, I was ready to do something new. That’s when James and Shoshanna approached me and offered me a job with Bulk Herb Store again, and I gladly accepted their offer. I have now worked here at Bulk Herb Store for 2 ½ years. I have greatly enjoyed all that I have learned and experienced here. I have learned so much from just being around herbs every day, speaking to and helping the customers with questions. I know my herbal journey is not over yet, and I shall be continuing onward!
I believe that the Lord puts people on our paths that will help us become the person He created us to be. Can you tell me about any people (or herbalists) that have been on your path and how they have helped you become the person you are?
My Mother was definitely the first big influence in my life. We may not have necessarily known about herbs, but we would use other natural remedies such as lemon and honey, salt water, store-bought herbal cough syrups, “teabag” teas, steams, etc…. to cure the common colds, sore throats, stomachaches, muscle aches, and other sicknesses that our family came down with.
My Grandmother was also an influence in my life. Both my Mother and my Grandmother were influential, but more so in the way of learning how to incorporate a healthy diet and lifestyle into my life. I grew up knowing about gardening, vegetables, fruits, vitamins and minerals. These were our “herbs” and they usually worked to keep us free of illness for the most part.
My aunts (my Mother’s sisters) were also great influences on my life, as we grew up together and we were all fairly close to the same age. My Mother came from a family of 10 children, and of those, she had 6 sisters who all were confirmed health nuts! I would get gifts of vitamins or natural skin care products from them for special occasions, such as my birthday. I loved to receive those gifts! Those gifts would usually send me off on my next new “natural product testing spree”. I was turning into a confirmed health nut as well!
One of the most recent people to influence me has been a girl that I work with at Bulk Herb Store. Her name is Lauren Brandt, and she is our photographer/graphic designer. Her passion for learning new things about herbs and life in general keeps me on my toes in reaching for my goals and dreams. She is always inspiring me to try a new diet or something with her and I love it! I can’t wait to see and meet the people that God continually puts into my life and how they change me, and add new perspectives to my worldview!
I love learning about herbal medicine from all different kinds of herbalists. Who are some of your favorite herbalists and what have you learned from them?
Three of my favorite herbalists would be Shoshanna Easling, Rosemary Gladstar, and Susan Weed. Shoshanna has taught me so much about herbs and how to use their properties to the fullest. She has taught me that less can be more, even in the world of herbs. You don’t have to take every herb that states it is good for whatever may be ailing you; just pick one or two and go from there. I have also learned from her how much a healthy diet and the foods we eat can influence our moods, lives, attitudes, and health. Herbs in themselves work amazing, but combined with a healthy diet, you have a recipe for a life that will make people go “WOW”!
Rosemary Gladstar has taught me how to come up with some great herbal concoctions and not be afraid to experiment until you find the combination that is right for you. She has also helped me to brave making my own natural body care recipes using herbs and other natural skin care ingredients. I can now make body creams to rival the best store bought body soufflés out there!
Susan Weed has helped me to understand the female body and organs much better, and how herbs can help heal and nourish them when combined in the proper way. I have learned everything from how to get a monthly cycle to come on your time, to how to have a great birth.
Everyday I am thankful for the gift of medicinal plants and the ability to treat my family with these gifts. How have you been able to use herbs to treat your family or yourself and what has been the biggest impact it has made on you?
I love making new tea combinations, tinctures, and powder mixes. I have made vitamin tinctures, sickness tinctures, hormonal teas, workout powder blends, and even just plain delicious tea blends (nutritional benefits are just a bonus). My family has used these teas, tinctures and cough syrups to treat everything from the common cold to high blood pressure to heart problems. Herbs are also a great addition to keep off those few pesky unwanted pounds that like to hang around if I don’t eat just right all the time.
The biggest impact herbs have had on me would be my outlook on life. I believe Helen Keller puts it best when she states that “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” I want to experience all that God has for me and more! Herbs keep me healthy and going toward that dream. I love being able to wake up every day healthy and be able to truly say “Carpe Diem”!
I don’t think becoming an herbalist is a goal that is ever completely achieved. No matter how much you learn, there is still so much wisdom left to gain. What are some of your upcoming herbal goals?
In the future, I would like to expand my knowledge to include learning more about the use of essential oils and how they work to heal the body, as most all of these oils are derived from herbs. I want to expand my knowledge of specific conditions and the herbs that are useful to help heal/treat them. I would also love to expand my knowledge even more on how diet plays such an important role in our lives, and how herbs work into that as well by adding not only healthy benefits, but also flavors and smells that excite the taste buds and tickle the senses!
In your herbal journey, you worked with the herbs hands on first, then went on to acquire more book knowledge. How important do you think it is for someone wanting to learn more about herbal medicine, to work with the herbs hands-on in some way?
I would say it is very important to work with herbs in a hands-on way some. It is important to work with the dried herbs as well as the fresh herbs. When you work with herbs in a hands-on way, you can better retain the knowledge you have learned from books, online research, etc. You can also see just how the herbs work for you and for others instead of just believing what other herbalist have found. This is even more inspiring to learn more about these all-natural remedies in my opinion.
Can you tell us more about any “formal” classes you have taken, and how they compare to learning on your own? When might it be beneficial to take classes verses studying on your own?
I have taken 2 herbal courses, one was online and one was by book. I very much enjoyed the courses that I took. From those courses, I acquired an expanded view of herbs. I knew of the common everyday spices and “yard” herbs, but herbs that were more uncommon where a mystery to me. What was Goat’s Rue? To me it sounded like something that must grow around goats that goats must despise! Who would have guessed that it was good for diabetes, rheumatism, and increasing milk supply in nursing mothers? And calendula (marigold) was a pretty flower, NOT an edible food that was good for everything from skin rashes to highlighting hair! By taking the courses, I came to realize that there was a whole world of herbs I never knew existed! It was so exciting! New tinctures, new remedies, new teas, new possibilities! Studying and researching on my own was great, but since I didn’t know the names of new herbs, I couldn’t very well find them online or in books.
Also, by taking the courses, I felt much more confident in coming up with concoctions to give my family members and friends. I learned what herbs were safe to mix and not safe to mix, and general dosage information for most anyone to take. I am a definite fan of taking an herb course or two in addition to studying and researching by oneself.
One of the goals of The Christian Herbal is to match up beginning herbalists with mentors, even if it is long-distance mentors. You obviously had some great mentors through your work at the Bulk Herb Store. How important do you think it is to be mentored in this field?
I would say that it is quite important to be mentored. Herbs are amazing, but at the same time they are medicine. Like any medicine, they need to be handled carefully. It is wise to have mentors who have worked in the field and know how to mix and give dosages so that you use this wonderful medicine safely. Just because herbs are natural does not mean that you cannot still overdose on them or have unwanted side effects, and it is simply wise to have someone who is more familiar with herbs than the beginner usually is to help ensure the safety of everyone involved.
The body souffle´ sounds wonderful! Any chance you might want to share a recipe with us? (or any other favorite recipes)
I would love to share several recipes with you and your readers. The body soufflé recipe and 2 other favorites of mine are below. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have!
Bulk Herb Store
Well, you already know I love all things herbs or otherwise natural! Also, as you can tell from my picture I simply adore all teas. If I could have Pomegranate Green Tea running in my veins instead of all those platelets, I would! My nicknames are Sunshine and Smiley, so as you can tell, I am usually always smiling; but hey, I like spreading the joy “disease”! My next goal is to go on a mission’s trip this upcoming spring! It has been a dream of mine now for quite some time, and it will now be coming to pass hopefully. I love my life and I can’t wait to pop around the next corner to see what God has in store for me!