About Katja and Ryn
I came to herbalism in a very practical, thrifty way: over several years as an exchange student, I developed a love of fancy European herbal teas, but they were expensive and hard to find in the States.
It seemed to me that I should be able to make them myself, so I started searching for ways to learn. I found Rosemary Gladstar, my first teacher, and a lot more than just instructions for making tea: I found a vocation.
Almost 20 years later, I can honestly say that herbalism has saved my body, mind, and spirit.
I was introduced to herbalism by Katja: when we first met, I was intrigued by all the potions and curious jars of leaves she had stashed everywhere. She started to teach me about herbs and tea, and I fell in love – with herbs, as well as with her!
I'm one of those herbalists who didn't go out into the woods often enough as a kid, and now I'm making up for lost time. I want to help inspire others to get moving and get outside, because I've found time and time again that some of the best medicine plants have to offer is found not in a bottle or capsule or powder, but in the peace of wild places.
Together, we started an herb school in Boston in 2010, and got married in 2014. We’re one of the few wife & husband herbalist teams in the country, and we think that gives us a unique perspective on the plants.
Plants are like people: just as everyone’s relationship with a particular person is a little bit different, everyone’s relationship with each herb is a little different too.
Together, we have a much broader understanding - of both plants and humans - than either of us would have found on our own.
Our Community Projects
Herbalism is the people's medicine, and as herbalists, we feel called to be engaged in our community to promote growth and healing. Here are projects that we are working on right now.
Monthly Free Clinics
Providing access to free herbalism is a way we can help our local community right now. Every month, we offer free herbal clinics open to all: we'll sit down with you, talk about your health concerns, and come up with an accessible plan to build improvement.
We've been doing this every month since February 2015! We are hoping to expand this program in 2019 to be twice-monthly.
Coal River Valley, West Virginia
In 2016, we teamed up with the amazing folks at Mountain Sol to provide herbalism training and community free clinics in Coal River Valley, West Virginia, a region bearing the heavy burden of mountaintop removal mining. Because of the environmental impact of this kind of mining, cancer and other health issues affect this area at much higher rates than other areas, but because of the economic impact of this kind of mining, there aren't good jobs to afford quality food and health care, and accessing health care often requires more than an hour's drive.
We provide free online herbal training for the local team of herbalists & midwives, and travel to West Virginia once a year to help host free clinics with them, where we can help them grow their clinical skills in person and build ties with the community as well.
Herbal Study for Single Moms of Color
As herbalists, we feel it is important to work actively towards equity in health and wellness for Communities of Color. And as a single mom, and later a "remarried mom", Katja knows what it's like to try to take care of a child without a full complement of support. Since our courses went online, we've been able to extend scholarships each year to Single Moms of Color, which allows them to learn practical, cost-effective and accessible ways to take care of their kids' and their own health at whatever pace and at whatever time fits into their schedule. If you know a mom who could benefit from this program, please encourage her to get in touch with us!
Herbalism for Incarcerated People
Herbalism is for everyone. By providing herbal training to incarcerated students, we can not only provide access to a tool for better health and for health advocacy, but also a pathway to a sustainable future after incarceration. It's very difficult for people with a history of incarceration to find employers willing to hire them, but we teach people to start their own businesses - if a person who is incarcerated can start learning and planning for their own sustainable employment once their time is served, the likelihood of recidivism is drastically reduced. If you know an incarcerated person who would enjoy studying herbalism, please encourage them to write to us!
Palestinians & Israelis for a just peace
We support a group of Palestinian and Israeli people dedicated to working for a just peace, and who are in service to those who are traumatized and displaced. People in this group are providing services to refugees and those living in areas of "high intensity", which is to say, where there is regular bombing or other violent disruptions. If you are doing this work, or if you are in service to refugees in other regions, and if herbal skills would be helpful in your work, please contact us so that we can support you!
There’s more to herbalism than just the herbs...
In our journey as practitioners and teachers together, we've worked to develop a well-rounded view of herbalism that integrates modern scientific insight and traditional herbal wisdom.
It's also important to us to investigate more than just plants: we wanted to incorporate a full-circle perspective of how food, sleep, stress management, and physical movement impact health and wellness, and how they can be integrated into herbal practice to create a truly holistic view of individual health.
As we've built and facilitated herbal programs for our students, we've seen how important it is to form a strong holistic foundation – incorporating the energetic construct of how plants work in the body as well as the full spectrum of factors that affect good health.
You can learn more about this approach in our free mini-course, Four Keys to Holistic Herbalism. Find out how holistic herbalism can work for you!
As my health improves and I become more confident as an herbalist, I'm glad I stuck with the program!
I’m immensely grateful for your teaching and I’m really glad I stuck with the program.
The investment is paying off now: I’m putting that training into practice and taking care of Client Zero, which is me!
I feel confident in the tools I have to take care of myself now and I’m finding it easier to prioritize focusing on my own health. I’m excited to teach and care for others in the future, and excited that as my health improves I have more and more energy to give to my community. Many thanks to you!
~ Danielle L., 2015 Clinical Program Graduate
It isn’t true unless it’s true in your body.
You could study herbalism (or any system of healing) for years, but it’s all just theory until it works for you. That’s why we always tell our students “don’t believe anything we say, just because we said it: it isn’t true unless it’s true in your body.” Because everyone’s body is different, the right approach is what’s right for you.
Once you learn the foundations, you’ll be ready to choose the tools, methods, and herbs that fit your life best - not the specific teachings of a single "authority". Because of this, our programs are experiential in nature: as you go through each step of the process, you'll be trying out different strategies and discovering the ones that suit you best.
Our school is built on the idea that through collaboration and support, you will discover how resilient you can be!
Cultivate Your Herbal Knowledge
Start learning right now with our Herb of the Week series.
Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) is one of the simplest herbs to work with, and one of the safest. It’s an...
Oh, the dandelions! One of our earliest flowers and one of the last to hang on at the end of...
The southern prickly ash (Zanthoxylum clava-herculis) and the eastern prickly ash (Z. americanum) are relatives of the Sichuan hot pepper...
Wood betony is our Herb of the Week this time, and for this one you’ll want to make sure you...
Join our newsletter for more herby goodness
Get CommonWealth newsletter delivered right to your inbox. You'll be first to hear about free mini-courses, podcast episodes, and other goodies about holistic herbalism.