Podcast 217: Reality vs Reality in Herbalism

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There’s one reality, that of the human need for fundamentals like nourishing food, restorative sleep, consistent movement, ways to mitigate stress, and community support. Then there’s the other reality: that so much of this is not accessible for so many people in our society.

What can we do about it, as herbalists? A lot!

We can start by keeping our recommendations as accessible and affordable as possible. We can center our practice on grocery store herbs, abundant weeds, and widely available plants instead of those that are rare or expensive. We can teach people to minimize waste, and get the most goodness out of their herbs. We can keep a mental store of “cheapbest” formulae – things that serve common needs and keep expenses low, but don’t compromise on quality.

We can recognize that people don’t only have to budget money, but also time and energy. Especially in the context of chronic illness and fatigue syndromes, being able to work effectively with simple protocols – to hone in on the manageable essentials – is critical to success. And perhaps most importantly, we can improve access to herbalism and cultivate community connections. One individual against the world is in a really tough spot, but a community together is healthier.

If this topic is speaking to you today, check out our Herbal Community Care Toolkit. It’s chock full of low-cost, abundantly accessible herbal remedies for addressing common health issues. Students in this program learn our most inexpensive strategies for improving health and well-being. This course is available by donation, but if you can’t afford it, email us and we’ll send you a coupon code so you can get it for free!

And, don’t forget! Our semi-annual 20% off sale is running for the whole month of July!
Use code ALLTOGETHER at checkout to get 20% off any of our courses or programs!
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Our theme music is “Wings” by Nicolai Heidlas.


Episode Transcript

Katja (00:00:14):
Hi, I’m Katja.

Ryn (00:00:15):
And I’m Ryn.

Katja (00:00:16):
And we’re here at Commonwealth Holistic Herbalism in Boston, Massachusetts.

Ryn (00:00:19):
And on the internet everywhere thanks to the power of the podcast.

Katja (00:00:22):

Ryn (00:00:24):

Katja (00:00:25):
Oh, this is my part.

Ryn (00:00:26):
It’s your thing. It’s your turn to tell them what we’re up to today.

Katja (00:00:28):
Yeah. Okay. So, this morning I was thinking about life, the universe, and everything. And I was thinking about reality versus reality. When we talk about health and getting some health, there are many realities. And they conflict and they are nonetheless real things that need to be managed in order to achieve some kind of objective that we’re trying to get to. And that juggling of those realities is a really big part of the work that you do when you’re working with people, whether that is in clinical herbalism or helping people in your community, or your family, or whatever. And so I wanted to just sort of talk about that a little bit. About the realities that are conflicting and colliding. And then how we can manage those creatively to have better outcomes for the people that we’re helping.

Ryn (00:01:34):
Nice. So, yeah, that’s our topic for today. Before we get into it though, we want to let you all know – if you didn’t know already – that our twice-a-year annual sale is going on now for the entire month of July. And this means that you can get 20% off of any of our programs, any of our individual courses.

Katja (00:01:53):
All of them, in fact.

Ryn (00:01:54):
Everything that we offer. To do that, as you check out, you’re going to want to use the code alltogether, ALLTOGETHER, alltogether, all one word. Use that at checkout and use it as many times as you want. It’s not a one-time only thing.

Katja (00:02:12):
It does work on payment plans. Yes, it works on everything. Just use it. It’s great. It’s good until the very end of July.

Ryn (00:02:19):
Yeah. So, we have tons of courses and programs for you to enjoy. Check them out at online.commonwealthherbs.com.

Katja (00:02:28):
Our cat is really excited about the microphone.

Ryn (00:02:31):
If there’s nuzzling sounds, that’s what.

Katja (00:02:33):
That’s what that is. Also, I wanted to talk for a minute about our twice a year sale. This is a sale that we do every single year. We’ve been doing it for a long time now. Instead of doing applications for scholarships or… Okay, we give a discount to people with a disability, but not to teachers or to this or to that. And there’s so many groups of people who need extra assistance, and also people who aren’t in any groups who need extra assistance. And instead of making 10 million codes and everything else, we just figured listen. Every six months we’ll just do 20% off of everything. And that way no one has to apply. There are no hoops to jump through. You just know that you can plan on it. Every six months there’s going to be this 20% off sale. So, we hope that that makes things easier to budget, and easier to achieve, and all that good stuff.

Ryn (00:03:25):
Yeah. So, now’s the time. One more time. Online.commonwealthherbs.com. Okay. Before we get into the rest of our topic for today, just a reminder that we’re not doctors. We’re herbalists. We’re holistic health educators.

Katja (00:03:40):
The ideas discussed in this podcast do not constitute medical advice. No state or federal authority licenses herbalist in the United States. So, these discussions are for educational purposes only.

Ryn (00:03:52):
We want to remind you that good health doesn’t mean the same thing for everyone. Good health doesn’t exist as a single objective standard. It’s influenced by your individual needs, experiences, and goals. So, keep in mind we’re not attempting to present a single dogmatic right way that you need to adhere to.

Katja (00:04:08):
Everyone’s body is different. So, the things that we’re talking about may or may not apply directly to you. But we hope they’ll give you some new information to think about and some ideas to research and experiment with further.

Ryn (00:04:20):
Finding your way to better health is both your right and your own personal responsibility. This doesn’t mean you’re alone on the journey. And it doesn’t mean that you’re to blame for your current state of health. But it does mean that the final decision when you’re considering any course of action, whether it’s discussed on the internet or prescribed by a physician, that’s always your choice to make. All right.

Katja (00:04:41):
So, you know, the first reality that I wanted to talk about, our cat, Lucy, is demonstrating really well right now. She’s right in front of the microphones, and she is cleaning her paws. And I’m like oh my goodness. They’re going to be able to hear it in the microphone. But…

Ryn (00:04:59):
We’ll find out later.

Foundational Self-Care Takes Time & Energy

Katja (00:05:00):
We’ll find out. Yeah. I’m sure you’ll tell us if you can. But that is an example that I think about a lot. Because the first reality is that care of the body takes a long time, and it is not negotiable. It is not an option. It is not a luxury. It must happen and it takes a lot of energy to do.

Ryn (00:05:27):
Yeah. It’s not set it and forget it. It’s not one and done.

Katja (00:05:31):
Right, right. And when we look at each other, other humans and whatever, we see very little care of self happening. People jump in the shower so that they don’t smell when they go to work. Or they do their hair, or makeup, or whatever. But mostly that is for appearances, for what’s expected of them at work or in their day. And we eat food because we’re hungry. But maybe there’s not a lot of time or whatever. There’s a small number of things that we do to care for ourselves. But if you look at animals – and our cat was being a really good example there – they spend a huge amount of their time caring for their bodies. I would have to look up the number again for otters. But it’s more than half of a 24-hour cycle, sea otters spend taking care of their fur. It’s more than 12 hours. And that makes a lot of sense because they float around in freezing cold water. And if their fur is not in really good condition, they will get hypothermic and won’t survive. And so it’s funny because you can hear that little fact. You can be like oh, sea otters spend more than 12 hours a day taking care of their fur so that they don’t get hypothermia. And then we say…

Ryn (00:06:53):
Sucks for them.

Katja (00:06:54):
Right? Exactly. We say woah, wow, that’s otters. I’m so glad I’m not an otter.

Ryn (00:07:00):
No wonder they don’t build cities.

Katja (00:07:02):
Right. Yeah. Like that kind of thing. And all of those statements are like oh, we are so different than otters. And I mean, we are different than otters in many ways, but that is not one of the ways. We too need to spend a lot of our time caring for our bodies. Our bodies require care.

Ryn (00:07:24):
Yeah. I think one place that this can show up is in the context of chronic illness and especially something like a chronic fatigue syndrome of which there are many.

Katja (00:07:33):
Yeah. Lots of flavors of that.

Ryn (00:07:35):
Right. But just to say people in that situation, especially if that’s not the way they’ve lived for much of their life, they might feel like all of a sudden I have to spend so much time resting, and thinking about the kind of food that I eat, and doing my self-care practices, and my stretching, and all this different stuff. And especially if that’s a really big difference from the way that they had been living previously, that can feel like a burden or an imposition. But in a fair number of cases, that habit or that set of habits could have made a big difference in the progression of the illness in the first place, or the severity that it extended to. And it also can mean that even in the context of a serious illness, that these things can still be really beneficial. But we often see people who are writing from a place of frustration, and it’s totally understandable. I mean to be really clear about that. And writing things like listen, I’m sick of people on social media telling me that I need to rest. That I need eight hours of sleep a night to be healthy because I’m not healthy. And even if I did sleep eight hours tonight, I wouldn’t feel healthy tomorrow. So, don’t just tell me to rest, because I’m actually sick over here.

Katja (00:08:48):
And listen, that is 100 million trillion percent valid. That is a disconnect in expectation or lived experience. It does not mean that the person doesn’t need care for their body. And a person who says oh, you need some rest is not necessarily wrong in that. But the definition of what rest is for an abled person and a person who is disabled or who is chronically ill, those can be very different. And so sort of the discussion between the two can often feel very frustrating because the context is so different.

Ryn (00:09:28):
Right. And there’s a lot of justified irritation in those kinds of posts, you know? You’re going along. You’re dealing with a chronic illness. You spend eight hours a day in bed. And the rest of the time is trying to do as much as you can with the energy you’ve got. Not to use up all your spoons too fast, things like that. And then you see someone and they’re like ah well, if people would just sleep nine hours a night, then they would feel great. And you say, that’s not me. Because I do that now, and I don’t feel great, right? So again, people feel bad. They want to feel better. They get frustrated when something seems offhand, or it seems like it’s coming from a person who isn’t dealing with that level of illness, and never has, and doesn’t understand what it’s like. So, that’s all completely sane. But at the same time, no one is exempt from biology.

Katja (00:10:13):
Right. And I think that part is really critically important. That we don’t have a good handle on what our biology is and what our biological requirements are because our culture does not allow us to have that. That doesn’t mean those are not biological requirements. We can’t all just decide sorry, productivity time. I’m not going to pay attention to those biological requirements. That’s not how it works. But that is what our culture does. And so we don’t necessarily understand for so many reasons, which we’ll get into in the second reality. We don’t really understand what it is that we need to do to care for our bodies in order to stay healthy. And all of that doesn’t mean it isn’t true. We do have to have good food. There is some variation, but there is also some objective definitions about what good food is. And we do need to have good sleep. And we do need to have safe places to live. And we do need to have time to care even for our skin. Just like animals take care of their fur and everything, we also just need to take care of our skin. And it isn’t just to stay pretty according to whatever culture tells us it is. It is literally to care for the function of the body in all the different ways.

Ryn (00:11:40):
It can also happen that someone is dealing with chronic illness or a severe issue. And they go ahead, and they give it a shot. They try some herbal tincture that they heard about. They say all right, I’m going to take a week. And I’m going to eat really clean whatever definition they’re using in the moment for that, right? And then be a little disappointed when it doesn’t turn everything around. So, the note here is that even if these things quote-unquote don’t work or don’t cause a kind of miracle shift, that doesn’t mean that they’re not necessary. These habits are not magic bullets to solve all your problems. They’re the foundations that the rest of the work is going to be built on.

Katja (00:12:19):
Sorry to jump in, but I just want to be kind of really overt about a timeframe and about what does and doesn’t work. Any given tincture maybe feels like it doesn’t work. And that might be because it was not the right set of herbs for the situation. That is of course always a possibility. But it also might just be that a week wasn’t long enough. Or that’s true with any of these other interventions as well or all of them. Like changing food for a week. Well, maybe a week wasn’t long enough. And I really want to put that in context. Because I have MS kind of not now.

Ryn (00:13:00):
kind of you had it. You have been at one point in your life diagnosed.

Holistic Strategies are Mandatory

Katja (00:13:04):
Diagnosed. Yeah. And I was fairly acute at the time of diagnosis, but now I really don’t have much in the way of symptoms. Very, very minor symptoms that are easily manageable. And when I started implementing changes… I never have been medicated because I was diagnosed when I was pregnant. And then I breastfed, and so I couldn’t take medications. And I couldn’t wait until I was done with all that to make some changes. So, I had to find some kind of options. So, the stuff that I did as interventions started making a change very quickly. In weeks, in months, in the first year I saw lots and lots of changes and lots and lots of improvement. And I would say that after the first year I thought wow. I’m done. I did it. This is great. But I just continued to do those things habitually and to expand and sort of adapt to how my body was feeling with my approaches. And when I came to the 10-year mark, which was 10 years ago, I can remember having a whole long series of discussions with you about holy cow. I’m 10 years out, and I feel very different, even very different than I felt one year out. Really, I could see continued shifts in my body over 10 years. And I think that it is important to normalize that or at least to publicize that. That I don’t want anybody to feel discouraged. Like well, if I don’t have 10 years to spend getting better, I guess I just won’t get better. I don’t mean it that way. Things improved even in the first month. But I kept seeing changes in myself 10 years out. And then the second round of 10 years did some back and forth because lots of stressful things happened in that second 10 years. And so there was some regression, and then some advancement, and different things. But even the regression was much smaller than it would have been in the first decade. So I mean, life still happens, but you still see this progression. And anyway, I just want to be clear. It never is that I’ll just take a week and try something. If it didn’t work, well, I guess it just didn’t work. I guess that wasn’t the thing that I needed.

Ryn (00:15:36):
Yeah. And sometimes it gets even more extreme. And it’s like well, herbs don’t work at all. There’s no point in trying any of these holistic methods or whatever. And that narrative is really… I’m noticing or thinking today, it’s actually kind of rooted in and it perpetuates the mainstream medical model that we have in this society. Which in the shortest version is like a programmer’s if-then statement. If illness, then drug. Else nothing. Maybe surgery. I don’t know. That’s sort of the end of the line, you know? And there’s a version of that too in sort of alternative health world. Which is like if severe illness, then extreme treatments, intense cleanse or something like that.

Katja (00:16:17):
Like super herb, yeah.

Ryn (00:16:18):
Yeah. And neither of those are the model that we take.

Katja (00:16:22):
Yeah. I think that it’s important to recognize also – as we’re talking about things that continue to change over decades – is if it doesn’t work in a week, then I guess it just wasn’t going to work. Another direction that can go in is if it doesn’t work in a week, then I guess natural approaches aren’t going to work for me. And all there is for me is pharmaceuticals. And that’s also not… It takes both sometimes. Sometimes you have to do a lot of that foundational work of recovering all of that care that wasn’t happening earlier in your life because people were depending on you for their survival. You had to provide food for people and work really hard. All those things. None of this is about why didn’t you take care of yourself? It is about the situations that our culture creates that makes it extremely difficult to take care of ourselves. And so it might be that a person needs all that foundational care of the body with holistic, natural, normal, everyday kinds of strategies. And they also need some sort of conventional medical intervention. And that conventional medical intervention can be much more successful if a person is doing all the work on the foundational things. A lot of times people try conventional medicine interventions, and they don’t work. Sometimes that’s because it wasn’t going to work. And sometimes that’s because the body wasn’t strong enough to do… The medicine was going to do part of the job, and the body needed to do the other part of the job, but the body wasn’t strong enough to do it. Yeah.

Ryn (00:18:02):
Right, right.

Katja (00:18:03):
I feel like I have this flow chart, and I’m not sure that this is really easy to explain verbally. But hopefully you’re seeing that flow chart of many possible options in your head too.

Ryn (00:18:17):
Yeah. Including people who are in one of these kinds of health situations, and have tried a lot of stuff, and have tried it full on. They’ve done the whole 30. They’ve done the 10 hours of time in bed at night for a month or more. They’ve done this and that and may still be feeling frustrated. They may still be feeling like is this actually worth it? And our largest contention here is that it is worth it because in the end you’re a mammal, bro. These things aren’t actually optional, even though most of our society treats them as if they were, or even worse treats them as if they were a luxury, right? And so that brings us into the other reality that we’re coping with here is that so much of this, and by that I mean holistic interventions and community growth and all this other stuff.

Katja (00:19:04):
Listen, even just calling it a holistic intervention is abstracting it. Is it a holistic intervention when your cat cleans its paws? No. It’s your cat just cleaning its paws. And so we don’t have a word for that. Care of self is already a luxury term, especially if it is in the reverse, self-care. And holistic intervention or holistic strategy, all those things also automatically sort of sound to us like luxury things.

Ryn (00:19:35):
Yeah. That’s true.

Katja (00:19:36):
And so I don’t know how to phrase it, that it is non-negotiable mandatory care of the body.

Ryn (00:19:45):
Right. But you know, what’s going on though is that the reality that we’re coping with here is that so much of that isn’t accessible to people, or it doesn’t feel accessible. Or they’re not aware of the ways in which it might be.

Katja (00:19:59):
Or they didn’t learn how to do it because we also don’t teach people how to do it.

Self-Care Isn’t Always Available For All

Ryn (00:20:03):
Yeah. So, there’s lots of reasons for this, and none of them are probably going to be surprising to our audience, right? People might not have access to these things or knowledge about them because of the effects of racism, because of wealth inequalities, because they live in a food desert or a medicine desert. Because they’re in a gray scape situation where there’s not really any living plants around. And so it’s hard to seek shade, and to seek nature immersion, and forest bathing, and all of that.

Katja (00:20:32):
Yeah, it’s just like concrete everywhere.

Ryn (00:20:34):
And then there’s also issues with displacement, and that that can include cultural loss, you know? So, if people are displaced from their home because of war, because of climate change, because of wars that are due to climate change.

Katja (00:20:49):
Because of historical factors like slavery.

Ryn (00:20:52):
All of that. Then that can include displacement from a land and a place where there are familiar foods, and herbs, and medicines, and things like that. And it can also include displacement from a cultural practice, where those things are intentionally or systemically suppressed.

Katja (00:21:11):
Like cultural wisdom about how to live. How to be a human. Cats get cultural wisdom about how to be a cat, right, about how to clean their paws. Mama cats lick them vigorously until they start. And then they practice, and they lick each other, and whatever. And they learn how to be a cat that way. But when we are displaced from our culture, we no longer learn how to be a cat. And I think also that one thing that we didn’t list in there – well, kind of – is also capitalism. And that also goes back…

Ryn (00:21:49):
Which is like a driver of so many other of these things: of wealth inequality, of food deserts, of, you know…

Katja (00:21:54):
Yeah. And when we think about displacement, often we think about racism, and systemic oppression, and slavery, and wars of exploitation. But also there are a lot of people of European descent who on one hand, I mean, we got here by colonizing. And so it’s kind of hard to say that there’s displacement, because that puts people of European descent in sort of writ large in the power position. And yet people of European descent were also displaced. And got to America and on one hand, yay, the melting pot. But what that really was, was we are taking away all culture. And a lot of that also was happening in Europe. And it was driven by capitalism, and I mean capitalism far back, like even feudal capitalism. Every generation just stripping away a little bit more, a little bit more cultural wisdom. And so I just want to say that, you know, displacement can happen even for populations that are benefiting from systemic racism just in different ways. And that is what got us to Oreos and Doritos.

Ryn (00:23:16):
Right, yeah. Colonization harms most of the people involved, right, like 98, 99% of the people involved.

Katja (00:23:23):
Yeah. A percentage at the top gets very, very rich. And the rest of us get Oreos and Doritos if we’re lucky and systemic oppression otherwise.

Ryn (00:23:33):
So, these are systemic factors that take away accessibility to holistic lifestyle interventions, to these practices for self-care. But then there are also individual factors too, right? So the way that all those systemic factors influence one person, yeah. And then like we raised before, you know, illnesses, and especially the chronic fatigue syndromes plural, right? Like nowadays we would have to include ME/CFS, right? Sort of like chronic fatigue classic. But now also long covid is not exactly the same but shares many similar expressions. And long covid has been a way for a lot of people who aren’t virologists or pathologists to start to understand that there are many other long syndromes like long flu, as a very common example, for instance.

Katja (00:24:25):
Even now MS is this long Epstein Barr – that kind of thing – long mono? I think also to look at chronic fatigue as ME/CFS – you see that often written that way – but also fatigue that is chronic. And so that could be, let’s say, somebody with fibromyalgia. They may not be diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, but they have fatigue that is chronic because it is exhausting to be in pain all of the time. And so often we are working with people who are not diagnosed with chronic fatigue. And even if you ask them, do you have chronic fatigue syndrome? They themselves would not necessarily identify with that diagnosis. And yet chronically they are fatigued. And I think that the issues around chronic fatigue syndrome, and the name of chronic fatigue syndrome, and people thinking that well, that’s not really an illness. You’re just tired, take a nap. First off, that kind of judgment is not useful and also not accurate. But people with that diagnosis have had to fight so hard to have that fatigue recognized as hey, it is not just a nap that I need. And then also recognizing that just dealing with a chronic illness in general makes you super tired in a way that also is not just take a nap. And that that is also valid. Fatigue that is chronic, that is not necessarily chronic fatigue syndrome, is still a thing that needs to be dealt with. That is still a problem that is real, and you are not imagining it.

Ryn (00:26:11):
Yeah. But this kind of exhaustion, or this ongoing pain, these kinds of issues, they can really make a lot of the holistic herbalists methods kind of difficult. Because so much of it is going to be rooted in regimen, and building daily habits, and making some changes to what your existing habits have been. And that takes energy, you know? So that can be a personal level difficulty there too. But with all of this, we’re not going to just throw up our hands and be like oh, well. Too bad for you. I’m sorry, but I can’t actually help you very much because you don’t have enough money to afford my herbs, or because you don’t have enough time in your day to get in an extra nap, or to take a walk at lunchtime, or other things like that.

Katja (00:26:53):
Or because there’s no Whole Foods where you live.

Herbalists Can Creatively Build Accessibility

Ryn (00:26:55):
Yeah. And we also can’t just avoid the topic entirely. And be like well, I know that this person doesn’t really have a lot of resources, and they’re pretty tired. So, I’m just going to not bring up the stuff that I think would help, but I’ve decided in advance is going to be too hard for them. That’s also a way to take power away from someone, and we’re not into that.

Katja (00:27:13):
So, I would say that the whole rest of everything we’re going to talk about is going to fall under the sort of little motto… This is not going to be a very graceful motto. I’m sure we could do it in fewer words. That is my middle name. I’m sure we could do it in fewer words. But as a clinical herbalist, it is not just our job to match up the right herbs to the person. It is not just our job to match up the right other strategies of care of self to the person and what they need in that situation right now. But it is also our job to use our energy and our resources to creatively build accessibility. And we’re going to talk about ways to do that. But I just want to be really clear that our job does not stop when we come up with the perfect herbal formula and a gluten-free diet. That’s not the work. That work is important, but that is literally okay, great. We’ve figured that out. Now we’ve got to figure out how to do it. And it is the how to do it part that is the real work. That creativity, that’s where the job starts.

Ryn (00:28:30):
Yeah, absolutely. So, we’ve got a pile of recommendations here. We can start with literal affordability, money-wise kind of stuff, because that is a barrier for so many folks. And because that emerges out of so many of those systemic problems. So, some recommendations around this. First off, trying to keep what you recommend as an herbalist, what you recommend to other people, to keep that inexpensive, to keep that as accessible as you can. And there’s lots of ways to do that. One of our favorites is to just focus a lot on grocery store herbs over exotic plants, or rare ones, or ones that might be local but are still really expensive to work with.

Katja (00:29:09):
You can do so much work with the stuff at the grocery store. Like parsley, you can do so much work with parsley for a dollar a day. And like literally, if all I had to work with was parsley, I could do a lot.

Ryn (00:29:26):
Parsley, garlic, citrus fruits, ginger, you know.

Katja (00:29:29):
Right. There’s so much there. The cranberries, any berries, even if they’re frozen. Fresh berries are more expensive. Okay, but frozen berries are less expensive. And even if your grocery store doesn’t have those fancy little plastic boxes of fresh herbs, you know, the tiny little boxes. It doesn’t matter. That’s not what we’re talking about. We’re talking about beets. We’re talking about garlic and turmeric and yeah.

Ryn (00:29:57):
Right. And this goes right along with food recommendations too, right? You don’t want to end up in a spot where you find yourself making recommendations to people that are only accessible if they make $60,000 a year. You want to be able to say all right, we can make some really healthy meals for you that are going to fit into your budget. This is an exercise we give to all of our students who are working up to clinical practice. Okay, make a protocol in sort of the ideal world where the person can get whatever they want, and money and time and space are no object. And then let’s start adding in some constraints, right? And working up to where you are making a project like this for someone who is chronically ill and has limited resources. And to see what that does to your recommendations, and the kind of creativity that that trains you to keep in the front of your mind.

Katja (00:30:51):
If you work with people, this is an exercise that we recommend to everyone. Go through your cases or imagine some cases, also fine. And come up with what you want or look at what you recommended. And then go read the SNAP guidelines and the WIC guidelines – because that’s food assistance that people get – and learn them and really study them. And then print them out, put them right there. What are they allowed to buy? How much are they allowed to spend? How much do they get in benefits? All that kind of stuff. Or if it’s WIC, what are they given? What things are they allowed to have? Because WIC is much more limited in exactly the products that you can have access to. And then look at what your protocol was, and make it fit into those guidelines, and do the work. And you do this on a Tuesday evening when you’re not seeing clients. And it’s quiet, and you’re having tea. And you’ve got a long time to really work through this because it takes a while to get good at it. Work through what you want a person to do, what it is that you want to recommend to somebody. And then look at what these guidelines are and what your hypothetical person would have access to. And then keep changing your protocol until you come up with something that is just as good as your ideal dream protocol, but completely fits into the context of SNAP, or WIC, or whatever they have access to.

Ryn (00:32:22):
Yeah, absolutely. And you’ve got to be thinking about that, right? So, like SNAP, the electronic benefit transfer, that’s something people can use at a grocery store. They can use it at farmer’s markets. And sometimes you’ll get like two for one, dollar for dollar that way or in that context. And even Amazon, you can set up your SNAP EBT benefits there, and you can order some herbs that way.

Katja (00:32:49):
The thing is that you have to be careful because some things are not covered by SNAP. And so sometimes that is herbs. You have to really look carefully about well, are they allowed to get fresh garlic with SNAP? Or are they allowed to get this pretty good quality teabag tea? Maybe it’s like Traditional Medicinals. Well are they or are they not? You have to check the different variations of SNAP and WIC and all that stuff to figure out what the person actually has access to. Because sometimes… These programs help people, and that’s important. But our country is partly made up of people who want to help people and partly made up of people who don’t want to help people. And there’s that constant tension between these two groups. And so there’s a lot of constraint and a lot of judgment. Well, we say you can have this, but we say you can’t have that. And that makes us feel like we are making you be responsible for your poverty or whatever. And it’s just, okay, that could be its whole own podcast episode. And so it is that battle that drives whether or not somebody with SNAP benefits is allowed to buy fresh garlic. So, when you are doing this exercise, you might think well, of course they can have garlic. But depending on what type of benefits they get, it might not cover garlic. And so you just really do have to read all the intricacies of it and then do that exercise.

Ryn (00:34:25):
Yeah. Really worth doing. Right along with this, you want to be thinking about what are the actual herbs that you’re focused on or that you’re recommending. And it’s really good to consider inexpensive analogs for more expensive herbs, right? First off, just building your practice around plants that are abundant, that are easily accessible, that are grocery store plants, or that are weeds. Or that you just know people are going to have an easy time finding and not going to have to spend a ton of money on. That’s great. But you can also explicitly look at some of the more expensive plants that you work with. And you can say what would be an alternative? So, I checked on a couple of prices today. So, at Mountain Rose Herbs today, if you want to go and buy Asian ginseng root, whole roots, that’s about $231 per pound.

Katja (00:35:11):
Which by the way is a fair price, and we are not complaining about that price. Just it’s not accessible to a lot of people. On the other hand, farmers need a living wage. And so, there’s tension there too.

Ryn (00:35:25):
This plant is complicated to grow. It takes a lot of whatever. It’s worth that much, right? But $231 a pound for that versus eleuthero root cut and sifted for $17 a pound. It’s a pretty big difference.

Katja (00:35:38):
And you can do a lot of the same work with those with eleuthero that you can do with ginseng.

Ryn (00:35:44):
Yeah. And you can also draw on your formulation knowledge and be like okay. Eleuthero is not exactly ginseng. But if I formulate a couple of other plants into there, then it can be just as good for my particular purposes. Because of course we don’t just pick ginseng. We say ginseng is chosen because of this set of actions, these effects that it can have. Eleuthero can be a direct analog for a lot of those and a mostly full analog for the rest of them. So, we can find ways to fit that in.

Katja (00:36:11):
It’s always you who remembers podcasts that we’ve done in the past that are relevant. But today I remember one. It’s a very early one. I don’t remember the number. But I think the title was Formulating for Absent Friends or something like that. And it was where we had run out of chamomile, and so Ryn was formulating plants to do all the work that chamomile does for me. And I think we also talked about tulsi in that episode. And so you can go back and listen to that one, and it’s pretty early. I don’t know, it’s like maybe 17 or 25 or somewhere around in there. And then just replicate that exercise for any herb that you either just happen to run out of or an expensive herb that you need those actions. And how can you reformulate to get those actions with less expensive plants.

Ryn (00:37:04):
Right. Just because I have it here, one other example. If you want to buy goldenseal root cut and sifted, that’s roughly $416 per pound.

Katja (00:37:13):
Again, appropriate. That plant is at risk and endangered.

Ryn (00:37:17):
Yep. Or you can get powder for $30 an ounce. That’s cool. But we could get barberry. And we could get that cut and sifted for $33 a pound as opposed to 416. Or we can get powder for about three bucks an ounce. So, somewhere between one tenth of the cost and some other factor that’s larger than that. So again, these are just a couple examples. But you can apply that to a lot of herbs, and you can be thinking about it. Because the thought here is not just can my client afford this from me if I’m going to custom formulate for them right now and give them a two-week supply. But what happens next, you know? What happens down the line?

Katja (00:37:59):
Even if you’re like, I will just give them some right now. Okay. But yeah, next month.

Ryn (00:38:04):
Yeah. another thing that we can do to try to keep the costs down, specifically for the herbs themselves, is to find ways to minimize waste. And so one example, a super simple one, is just hey, when you brew your tea and then you pour it out or you strain it out. You can pour more hot water on those same herbs and brew it again. And it’s essentially always worth doing.

Katja (00:38:27):
Right. You might not get 100% of the action that you got from the first batch. But what if you got 60%? That’s pretty good.

Ryn (00:38:35):
Yeah. There’s almost always something left behind. Even if you make a tincture, you could take the mar after you press that out. You’ve got your good tincture over here. You’ve got this plant matter. You could just compost it. Or you could say well I’m going to throw it into a pot. I’m going to make a decoction of it. And just try to get the last bits, the rest of the good stuff. This is like use the whole beast, but for herbs.

Katja (00:38:57):
Yes. I want to back up one second because I was saying even if you’re just going to give it to someone for free. You’re like yeah, but I really want them to have this very expensive herb. So, I’ll just give it to them for free. That is awesome and admirable. But it isn’t just what are they going to do next month? It’s also what are you going to do that next month? Because what if your situation changes, and now you don’t have the resources to do that anymore? It doesn’t mean you should never give somebody an expensive thing. Obviously if you can do that, that’s fantastic.

Ryn (00:39:34):
If that was a rule, we would break it a lot.

Katja (00:39:36):
Yeah, we would break that all the time. But being able to make that adaptation is not just about sustainability for your clients, but also sustainability for you. So, if you have it to give, fantastic. But when you don’t, or even if you do, still let them know what the alternative, more sustainable, more cost-effective version would be. Both so that you are ready with that information if you’re going to continue to support this person into the future. But also so that they have the information in case they don’t want to be continued to be supported in the future. They would rather do it on their own.

Ryn (00:40:16):
Nice. One thing that I find helpful in this regard is to keep a handful or a whole book of formula, formulae, formulas – however you prefer to say that – that are, we call them, the cheap best, right? Because they’re the cheapest, but they’re also the best. So, you can make your fire cider. And you can make an expensive fire cider if you decide to do it.

Katja (00:40:44):
You can make it super-duper fancy.

Ryn (00:40:45):
You can put in some really great honey, you know. You can put in all this different stuff. But you can also make your cheap best fire cider with just garlic, onion, horseradish and some vinegar. You don’t even need the honey. Your goal here is I want this to fire you up. Clear those sinuses. Wake up the immunity in the lungs. This will do it, no doubt. And it’ll be super cheap.

Katja (00:41:06):
Right. And you can make enormous batches of it. And it can be a community event and whatever else. You could do it at the beginning of the fall. And even for enormous batches, this is still going to be a very accessible cost.

Ryn (00:41:19):
Or you can buy super fancy adaptogen coffee powder mixes that are instant and this and that. And they’ve got rhodiola, and they’ve got ginseng extract and whatever. Or you can take some eleuthero, and some astragalus, and some maybe dandelion root if you’re into that, and a little bit of decaf. And you can throw them in a pot and cook them up. And you’ll get a lot of the same type of benefit from it, but you’ll spend so much less. So, you know, think about that. Think about if you have formulas or schema for formulas. It’s not like always made the same way, but the general idea is there.

Katja (00:41:52):
Like the way that you always make your elderberry syrup, or the way that you always make whatever it happens to be. Your favorite winter health formula, whatever it is.

Ryn (00:42:04):
Look at them, look at the costs, look at the ingredients. See if there’s ways that you can reduce costs without compromising on efficacy.

Katja (00:42:11):
Right, right. Without compromising is key, but it is so possible to do.

Prioritize Interventions

Ryn (00:42:17):
Yeah. When we think about getting the most bang for the buck, sometimes we realize that it’s not all about herbs, but it could be about the four pillars of good health, right? Food, and sleep hygiene, and movement, and walking around, and stress management, and that kind of thing. Because in so many cases we find that eliminating gluten could be more impactful than drinking some gut heal tea, even though it is better to do both.

Katja (00:42:43):
Yeah. But you sort of can prioritize it. Like what is going to give me the most action. And that prioritization might change depending on the situation. If a person is neither willing nor able to give up gluten. And listen, just because a person stops eating gluten does not mean that they need to spend $9 a loaf for some kind of gluten-free bread. Rice is gluten-free. And it’s not as fun to eat as bread. But hey, I don’t eat rice very often because I try not to eat too many carbs at my age. But it’s delicious. I do like it quite a bit. So, there are many different hierarchies of prioritization in terms of both cost in dollars and cost in everything else. Because maybe the cost in dollars for gluten-free is manageable, but the cost emotionally was maybe not manageable. In which case okay, maybe the tea is better, you know?

Ryn (00:43:41):
Yeah, it’s true. But imagine somebody who’s a little anxious, maybe they’re a little tired in the latter half of the day. And that makes them feel more unsettled and uncomfortable. And what they describe that as is I’ve got a lot of stress. So, if we just respond to oh, stress? Let me give you adaptogens. Okay, that’s one thing. But what if we help them to get better sleep by working on some sleep hygiene habits and giving them a simple bedtime tincture? Maybe the amount of actual herb expense there is going to be reduced just from which herbs we’re choosing for sleep aids versus adaptogens. And also the amount that you might take. If you want to help that person out just with the adaptogens, you’re going to need a lot of herbs. You’re going to need high doses. Some of them could be expensive plants to work with. And it could be again, more bang for the buck, less expensive, more effective to focus on the sleep piece of the puzzle. So again, seeing the whole person.

Katja (00:44:47):
Or another way you could go in that example would be instead of the adaptogen blend, which most of the adaptogens are more expensive on the scale of herb prices. What about nettle? Because another factor in anxiety is minerals. Your body uses up minerals very quickly under stress, and minerals help you to stay calm. Some minerals help regulate your heartbeat, so that things stay steady and calm. Some regulate the way that your nerves function, so that again, they stay calm. There’s a lot of different factors across minerals. Well, nettles has a lot. Seaweed has a lot. And so those are two things that can be much less expensive, especially much less expensive than adaptogens. And so if you were like okay, well yes, getting better sleep would be the best option here maybe in terms of it’s cheapest. But that’s not available to this person because it is not affordable in their schedule or in their list of obligations and responsibilities. And therefore I’m going to go with this adaptogen tea, except that’s going to be very expensive. Ah, nettles and seaweed. Okay, now we’ve got it.

Ryn (00:46:02):
Yeah. We’re going to see how that goes out. So, you know, as the clinical herbalist here, it’s our job to get creative about how to make these things accessible for someone. Because they may not have the energy, or the time, or the resources to do that part of the work for themselves.

Katja (00:46:15):
It’s not like here’s my suggestion, pat, pat, pat. Have a good life. Good luck with that.

Ryn (00:46:22):
Go figure out how that works for you. No, it’s more like all right. So let’s figure out how that can work for you.

Katja (00:46:26):

Ryn (00:46:27):
Yeah. So, we’re not going to leave them hanging. And you were just kind of really raising this next point, which is that budgeting is not only about money. It’s also about time and about energy. So, like we said before, yeah money-wise can your client afford the herbs or the remedies or the food products on the new diet plan or whatever, not just once, but long term. Long enough to do the job. That’s a core concern. But not just money, right? We’re going to budget time realistically. So, do they have time to do the protocol?

Katja (00:46:57):
Right. If you’re going to change the diet, and even they’re up for it. They’re like sure, who needs bread? Okay. But now they’re going to need to cook for themselves. And maybe they don’t have the time to do that.

Ryn (00:47:09):
So then, well, okay, do you have to be there for the entire time that cooking is happening? Or can we draw on the magic of the crock pot?

Katja (00:47:17):

Ryn (00:47:18):
Right. So, sometimes it’s little life hacks, whatever, little things like that. That can take an idea from yeah, that sounds good, but I have no idea how I’m going to make it real. To oh, right. I could do that in the morning, and then it’s dinner when I get home. Great. So we’re always looking for those kinds of ways to help people out. With time we’re thinking also about the time to do the protocol day-to-day, and the time for it to take effect. And does that match up with what this person needs in terms of restoring their health?

Katja (00:47:51):
Right. If they’re experiencing a really acute situation, then something that takes a month or two to kick in. An herb that takes a month or two to kick in might be fantastic, but that’s going to mean a month or two more of whatever that acute pain or whatever is. And so it doesn’t necessarily mean that you don’t do that long-term item. Maybe you can still do that. But also let’s look at a shorter-term item that is going to make an impact and move the needle for them. I think that you can never underestimate how much energy it takes to be in pain, or how much energy it takes to have anxiousness, or sadness, or grief. A lot of emotions require a great deal of energy. And pain requires a great deal of energy. And so if we can alleviate a little bit of that, even if it’s only 25%, that’s 25% more energy for that person. Okay. It’s not like a one-to-one whatever, but you get the idea. And then that boost of energy might be enough to take the next step that could get them a 40% improvement in whatever. Nothing has to be – and this is good because also things are not – nothing has to be the single magic thing that solves all the problems. We’re talking holistically. Also, when we’re talking about anything at all ever, everything is an incremental improvement. It’s like okay, well this will get me 10%. This will get me another five. This will get me 20%. Fantastic. And we’re building on each one of those. That’s the end of my sentence. It sounded like there was a comma there, but there wasn’t.

Have An Essentials Protocol

Ryn (00:49:34):
Yeah. So, you know, with energy it’s like with time, right? Is this achievable daily? Okay, we’ve got the time to do it, but am I going to collapse halfway through what I was planning. So, in that regard, one of the things we find most helpful is to make a stripped down, like essentials protocol for the rough days, right? We know that this is a day when you only have two spoons. Okay. These are the things you’re going to do with them, right, and that’s all. You’re not going to try to do more than that because that can burn you out further than where you started the day, right?

Katja (00:50:05):
And I want to give special acknowledgement here to movement when we’re talking about budgeting energy. A lot of people who would genuinely benefit from more movement have been given a lot of advice that is inappropriate for the chronic condition that they’re managing.

Ryn (00:50:26):
Several different kinds of inappropriate in different directions.

Katja (00:50:30):
And so maybe that person was told you need graded exercise therapy, or you need this, or you need that. Or maybe they simply were told you need to exercise more, and you’ll feel better. And there are a lot of physiological reasons that moving your body will help you feel better, even if we just start at the very basics of lymphatic function. But I just feel like, especially when we’re talking about people with limited energy resources, it’s so important to say listen. This could mean walking to the bathroom one extra time today. It could mean lying flat on your back in bed. And I’m thinking specifically of people who are dealing with PoTS for example. And maybe standing up and moving around gets them really dizzy. Movement in your bed is still movement if you are just rolling back and forth, or waving your arms in the air, or wiggling your toes, or whatever. It doesn’t have to be and now I’m going to get on the Peloton, and I’m going to ride for whatever. Any movement is movement. And so really tailoring movement to the amount of energy that’s going on. And emphasizing very clearly that the purpose of movement is not because you’re building muscle, or because you’re this, or because you’re getting pumped, or whatever. And it isn’t to add on the miles or any of those things. It is to increase lymphatic flow. And subtle movements even will do that. That also was the end of my sentence. It’s not a comma. I just was really on a roll.

Ryn (00:52:06):
Yeah. Okay. So, we’re thinking about all of that. And, you know, those two considerations around time and energy. They come into the realities about wild crafting and gardening your own herbs. Because so often we see people who are like I’m going to talk about how to do herbalism on a budget. You can go out, and you can harvest all your own plants. They’re free if you find the right place. You can grow a whole bunch for yourself. It’ll be easy. You’ll have a ton of herbs in no time. Not really. Not for most people. You’ve got to think about okay, I’m going to go out and harvest my plants in the wild. Where am I going to go to? How am I going to get there? How am I going to carry everything I need with me? And then how am I going to get it all home again? How am I going to get it home in time to make sure I process the medicine before things wilt, or go bad, or aren’t effective anymore?

Katja (00:52:54):
Oh, but what if I ran out of energy before I even got home? And then now I have all these fresh plants. And they’re sitting on the counter because I need two days to recover from how much energy it took to go out and harvest them in the hot sun. That is a situation that happens very often, and it is not reasonable for that person to… Okay.

Ryn (00:53:12):
So, at the very least considering okay, how easy is the herb to harvest? How easy is it to process? Like if on the one hand you’re talking about well, on the porch I’ve got this bucket. And there’s some mugwort growing in it. And I know I can just clip the stalk, grab it up here, strip all the leaves off, and they’re ready to go. I can tincture it. I can throw it in the dehydrator. That’s done. Versus I’m going to go out to that piece of land over there. I’m going to hike up a bit. I’m going to go to that big burdock patch, and I’m going to dig out some burdock roots. That’ll probably only take two minutes or so per root. So, I can probably do like 20 or 30. Yeah, no. That won’t happen at all. You’ll be there all day for one burdock root and yeah.

Katja (00:53:56):
It’s so hard to dig burdock root.

Ryn (00:53:58):
Right. And we’re not even talking about okay, now I’m going to harvest bark. And I’m going to strip off the layers. And Okay. So, you know, there’s a lot of I think over-promising in terms of what you can – quote – get for free through wildcrafting.

Katja (00:54:13):
And also it wasn’t free anyway.

Ryn (00:54:19):
Yeah. And similar for gardening, right? Like okay, well what are you starting from? Have you got a garden already? Have you got a raised bed, and it’s good to go? You’re just going to drop seeds? Are they seeds you can just drop and forget about? What are we actually dealing with here? How often do you need to be there? How much do you need to water? All of that. So, that’s some things that could get in the way. It doesn’t mean that none of this can be done at all. There are some plants that are pretty easy to wild craft, like mugwort. It’s a simple example, right? There are plants that are easy to garden, again, like mugwort or fleabane, something like that. Evening primrose.

Katja (00:54:56):
Yeah. They’ll basically grow themselves.

Ryn (00:54:58):
Yeah. You have a bucket. The plant is in the bucket. It’s going to grow. It’s going to be fine.

Katja (00:55:02):
You don’t have to water it. You don’t have to whatever. It’s going to be fine.

Ryn (00:55:04):
You can harvest it on the day you get around to it, you know? So, we’re really big advocates for gardening your weeds, and for bucket gardens on the porches, and stuff like that.

Katja (00:55:14):
Listen. Garden dandelions. The seeds are everywhere. They’re everywhere. You just go get the little… like a little kid, and you blow the seeds. Except don’t blow them. Take them home to whatever bucket or garden space you’ve got available and just put the seeds right there. And now you have dandelions.

Ryn (00:55:30):
Yeah. But again, this is not like a quick fix for somebody who needs herbs soon. This is not a quick fix for somebody to have all the herbs they’re ever going to need cheap and free and easy. There’s a lot of investment in time and energy and all of that in these kinds of practices. So, I just want to get a little reality check on that.

Develop An Understanding of Disability & Chronic Illness

Katja (00:55:51):
Yeah. Especially for people who are abled and have never experienced chronic illness, and have never experienced chronic pain, any of those things. It can be hard to understand what life is really like. And if you don’t, then it’s very hard to calibrate your recommendations. And so it’s very important for you to… If that has been your life so far. And just because it’s been your life so far doesn’t mean that it will always be your life. Anybody can become disabled at any time. But if that has been your life so far, then there are ways to get more perspective. And one way that I appreciate that is, even though Twitter is kind of dying some weird kind of death right now, it has always been a really good source for me following disability advocates. Because even though yes, I have MS. And yes, I have dealt with this chronic illness. That’s just my own experience. And I have wanted to have a broader understanding of other experiences. And so reading other people’s explanations of their life, especially in a place like Twitter where they are sharing this information publicly so that other people can read it. Instead of just going up to a friend of yours that you know has a chronic illness and saying tell me about your life. Okay, now you’re just putting the expense of your education on them or the energy of your education on them. And so that is one way, and that way might resonate with you.

Katja (00:57:32):
But perhaps another way that might resonate with you is why not do a super hard workout every day for a week? I mean, really hard at the absolute of your limit. And then stay up all night. And then on that next day try to do the things that you told somebody to do and see if those are easy or hard for you. Okay, that’s not necessarily going to give you exactly their experience. But you will be tired, and you will be sore, and you will be cranky. And it isn’t a perfect analog, but it is a way to start to feel in your body oh, I’m kind of getting that actually. I have never experienced needing to just sit down in the middle of a task before because I just was too tired, or too fuddled in my mind, or whatever else. But after three days running 15 miles a day and hoisting rocks over my head. And then staying up all night long and then trying to do these things. I told somebody I realized actually, it’s really hard to go out and dig roots when you’re really sore and tired. If that’s what it takes for you to get the perspective, do that. Because that is going to make you a better herbalist. It’s going to make you a better helper of people.

Ryn (00:58:57):
Yeah, totally. So, kind of the last main idea for us today is going to be about improving access to herbalism in general, to clinical herbal services in particular, and to community support. Because one individual against the world is in the hardest spot. There’s no real lone wolf among wolves, let alone humans.

Katja (00:59:21):
Yeah. That whole lone wolf thing is not actually real.

Ryn (00:59:26):
Or another way to put it is an actual lone wolf is having a really bad time. You know what I mean?

Katja (00:59:32):
Right. You can read about this if you google something like lone wolf myth, or there is no Alpha wolf, or something like that. Because all of that was observed. Some of those behaviors were observed scientifically, but they were observed of wolves in captivity who were experiencing great hardship, and the pack was not healthy. And so what was being observed was actual emergency behaviors instead of natural behaviors, like worst case scenario behaviors.

The Fifth Pillar: Herbalism in Community

Ryn (01:00:08):
Right. Yeah. So, one person alone in the world or against the world is in a really hard spot. A community together is healthier, right? So, we often talk about the four pillars of good health as food, and sleep, and movement, and stress management or mitigation. But then we’ll sometimes add in oh yeah, don’t forget the fifth pillar. That’s community, right? Because otherwise without community, you’re doing all of this on your own, right? You’re responsible for all of your own food. You’re responsible for all of your own herbal remedies. You’re responsible for getting you around from place to place. And there are a lot of people who are in that situation, and that’s a hard spot. But they don’t have to stay alone forever. Right. And again, as an herbalist it’s good to have a referral list. It’s good to be able to say here’s a pharmacist who’s not…

Katja (01:00:53):
Here’s a pharmacist who will be easy to work with.

Ryn (01:00:55):
There we go. A psychiatrist. I think you should maybe talk to them. Things like that.

Katja (01:01:01):
Yeah. On one hand, a list of conventional medical practitioners who are going to be sympathetic to the goals that your clients might have or the people that you’re working with might have. And sympathetic to their preferences and how they want to work with those things. But then also, that’s not the only kind of referral list that you might have. What about a referral list for social activities? Keep a list of where are the adult dance classes? Where are the adult art classes? Where are different activities happening that somebody can just go to and maybe meet some people? Okay, maybe the first one they go to isn’t going to be the one that is ultimately great for them. But where are things that are accessible both financially, and within their energy level, and other things, in their time or whatever? If they have kids that need childcare or something. Is there a YMCA around? Is there this or that? Where are things where people can plug themselves in? They’ve been alone for a long time, maybe. And they need a referral. What I’m trying to say is that it’s not easy to make friends as an adult. And so keep not only a referral list of practitioners who could be helpful. But also keep a referral list of places you can go to make friends and be with people.

Ryn (01:02:30):
Right. Yeah. And then right near that also support groups or volunteer organizations, community kitchens, community pantries, things like that. Really it’s about getting to know your community or to help people to explore their community, right? If you’re going to do clinical sessions with people online, maybe they’re far away from you. But that doesn’t have to stop you from learning something about where they live, and what’s available, and what kind of services they might not have thought to look about, thought to ask for, thought that they deserved or qualified for. That’s a big one for a lot of people. Oh yeah, I’m struggling. But other people have it worse, so I shouldn’t go to the food pantry, or I shouldn’t go to the support group, or whatever else. You qualify, my friend. You need some help. This is what it’s there for, you know?

Katja (01:03:22):
Yeah. And it’s like everybody needs some help sometimes. Sometimes what we do to make things accessible for people is to make it okay for them to get the help that they need. Because in our culture, we are told so often that we’re not allowed to ask for help. And that asking for help is weak. And of course, you don’t want to be weak, do you? And we’re really nurtured – I don’t know – socialized, that’s a better word, into this mindset of it’s not okay. Help is for other people. It’s not for me. And so maybe the accessibility that you have to plan for is how do I make help something that is acceptable for this person. Because it is acceptable. It is acceptable to have help.

Ryn (01:04:12):
Yeah. So, that’s like in community contexts/ And then for you and your work as an herbalist or a clinician, of course you can consider things like a sliding scale or free clinic work, things like that to be able to offer what you do to people who wouldn’t be able to afford your full fee. Things like that. You can also think about teaching as a way to get information out to people. right? And there I would say specifically think about offering classes that are designed and oriented to be affordable, easy, and safe in the maximal possible group. Do you know what I mean?

Katja (01:04:50):
Which is to say herbs that are safe for most people and most situations. And especially the sorts of things that would be true in the group that you’re targeting.

Ryn (01:05:00):
So, rather than being like I’m going to do a community class on the most powerful way to work with ashwagandha. Instead you could say here are some plants you can get at the grocery store for less than $10 a week that can absolutely help with stress and anxiety. People want that. I guarantee it. Yeah.

Katja (01:05:22):
Especially if some of those herbs are nutritive also. And yes, they will be. So that less than $10 a week also is doubling as food for them. Because you know, there are times – I mean, we’ve had times – where our food budget for the family was… Ten dollars a week would’ve made a big dent in the food budget. And I think there are probably many people who have never experienced that. But I think many more people have experienced that and are experiencing that. So, even when you can get your herbs to cross over as food or your interventions to crossover as food so that the dollar is doing twice the work, better.

Ryn (01:06:05):
Yeah. Absolutely. And then broadly, you know, trying to cultivate community within the work that you do. Trying to build up connections and help people see the other people who are already there willing to help and ready. That’s an important part of what you do. I think probably a way to frame this is you don’t have to be the authority on everything that could help this person. You don’t have to be the source for all of the information or all of the practices or all of the support that they’re going to get. And it’s both a matter of hubris to think that you would be, but also not the best way to serve these people.

Katja (01:06:45):
Yeah. But it also goes right along with our capitalist society. And you might find yourself doing it without realizing it. Feeling like oh, I have to be everything because there’s competition out there. Oh, if I can’t deliver, then they’re not going to come to me for services, even if you’re offering something for free, right? You might still have that feeling of pressure. You may not even realize that you have that feeling of pressure. And so you may be creating this kind of situation where you are making yourself the one to rely on. And that is not sustainable for you. It’s not sustainable for the people you’re trying to help. And it’s also, like you said, hubris. Often not intentional hubris, often societally imposed hubris.

Ryn (01:07:35):
Right. Oh, I’m doing something that’s alternative medicine. That means it’s like medicine. That means I’ve got to be kind of like a doctor in a way.

Katja (01:07:44):
I have to do it. I have to do it all.

Ryn (01:07:45):
I’ve got to know all the things. I’ve got to project authority. And we haven’t found that to be necessary, or helpful, or particularly beneficial for the people that we’ve tried to help. So, we like this way better. So, if you’re a podcast listener, and this is the main way that you interact with us, then you may have heard our prior series of episodes that was accessible herbalism for… Accessible herbalism for high blood pressure, for edema, for weight management, for sleep, for wound care. We had a whole series. You can check them out in the feed here. But better is to check them out as our Herbal Community Care Toolkit. You can find that along with our other courses at online.commonwealthherbs.com. And it has both the discussions like this, but also supplemental wonderfulness.

Katja (01:08:35):
Yes. Some extra information about different medicine making things. Some extra information about other accessibility options, some printable stuff, videos.

Ryn (01:08:46):
Yeah. All kinds of good things in there. So, we encourage you to just check that out. That one all the time is offered either by donation. Or if you can’t afford it, then reach out to us. Just drop us an email, and we’ll get you a hundred percent discount code so you can get in there. But don’t forget that right now you can get 20% off of everything that we offer. All of our courses, our Family Herbalist program, our Community Herbalist program, anything that we’ve got. You can get 20% off if you use the code alltogether at checkout until the end of July.

Katja (01:09:24):
I particularly want to put a plug in for the Herb Drug Interactions and Herb Safety course, which has wrapped up. Or there’s like one more to go in there. But we just did a huge update on that. And that’s part of the Clinical Herbalist program. And you can do the Clinical Herbalist program. Or if you just want that one piece to augment your other work, that’s a thing that’s not super available out there. There aren’t tons and tons of people teaching that in a sort of systematic kind of way. And so a lot of people feel like maybe that’s a gap in their education. And that makes them feel a little unconfident dealing with people who are taking a lot of medications. But you can just grab that piece individually if you want to. That course is available all by itself at our website online.commonwealthherbs.com.

Ryn (01:10:23):
Very good. So, we hope to see many of you as new students soon. And we’ll be back soon with some more Holistic Herbalism podcast. Until then, take care of yourselves. Take care of each other. Drink some tea.

Katja (01:10:37):
Why don’t we have any tea?

Ryn (01:10:38):
Drink some tea.

Katja (01:10:39):
We need to go get some tea.

Ryn (01:10:41):
We do. We do. And keep it real.

Katja (01:10:44):
Yes. All of the kinds of real. All the real, all together.

Ryn (01:10:48):
Yeah, because we are all together.

Katja (01:10:51):
Oh, nice.

Ryn (01:10:52):
Yeah. That’s the code again. All right, everybody. Take care of yourselves. Bye.

Katja (01:10:58):


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