By Brooke Schultz
College comes with its assortment of ailments — anxiety, insomnia, colds or flu — but remedies could be right in your greater backyard, so says Herbal Alchemy founders Krista Lamoreaux and Deborah Mizeur.
As part of the lecture series hosted by Chestertown Environment, Center for Environment and Society, Apotheosis Farm, and Herbal Alchemy, the pair taught an audience at Hynson Lounge how to cultivate their own medicine cabinet through their hour-long “Backyard Medicine Cabinet” lecture on Sept. 26.
Most of the audience, they said, are probably familiar with “lay herbalism,” which Mizeur said is, “common knowledge, things that most people turn to because they know it works.”
“There’s an awful lot that you can take care of in your own homes. In fact, you are your best primary care physician,” she said. “You’re the person who is there with yourself all the time. You can tell when you have a tickle in your throat—that tells you that, ‘Oh, I’m getting a cold. Maybe I need to do something about that.’”
Mizeur and Lamoreaux are clinical herbalists, which is “a little beyond what is traditionally practiced in people’s home.” By considering nourishment, digestion, rest, activity, and more, they take a “holistic perspective” to see where things may be “in or out of balance,” they said.
The talk focused on herbal practices people could use to better their health.
According to Mizeur and Lamoreaux, herbs tend to “stimulate life vitality,” where other medications can suppress natural body processes.
The pair went through common plights like upset stomachs, colds/flu, and pain, and what local herbs can best satisfy those ailments.
For immunity, elder and garlic can be regarded as “self-vaccinations” that will help your body withstand what fall and winter throws at you. Chamomile can aid with an upset stomach and calm nerves, where passionflower can also soothe anxiety and insomnia.
For colds and flu, mullein flowers can be used in tea or oils and can aid with inflammation and ear infections. Goldenseal is specific for mucus, and its bitter quality is good for digestion and the heart.
“One of the beautiful things about herbs is humans and herbs — and plants, generally — have evolved alongside each other, so we have this coevolutionary lifespan,” Mizeur said. “Our bodies know how to respond to herbal intervention. They know just what to do because we’ve had millions of years of co-evolution with these plants.”
The best friends met on Capitol Hill and found a commonality of appreciation for Mediterranean culture and health.
They decided to leave the Hill and “blend our love of plants and fascination with Italian culture into a lifestyle, a career,” Mizeur said. After three years of further education at Maryland University of Integrative Health, the pair learned more about physiology and biochemistry, and traditional uses of herbs.
“With that training, we decided to create Herbal Alchemy so we can share our knowledge with all of you and rekindle the spark of self-care, self-healing, and self-knowledge about the best ways to take care of yourselves in our day-to-day lives,” she said.
For more on Herbal Alchemy, visit herbalalchemy.me or their office at 10989 Augustine Herman Hwy, Chestertown, MD.