When we got wind of Marisa's monthly herbal workshops, we knew we had to spark a partnership. We are beyond excited that The Botanical Series is finally happening as it'll be a great opportunity for people to learn more about natural healing as well as roll up their sleeves and get their hands in on making some tinctures, tonics, and teas to take home. Marisa is an absolute ray of sunshine and we can't wait for you to meet her. Until then, you can learn more about her below:
What was your first exposure to herbs/ herbal healing?
My first real exposure to herbal healing came from my Grandmother, who would harvest plants like Stinging Nettle and then label them in her own gorgeous cursive with a variety of ailments for which they could be used - "For restless & tired legs, to help in urinary tract infections etc.". Though my teenage palate at the time couldn't fully appreciate the bitter-greeniness of these blends back then, these tastes are something I so savour now! And no matter how much plant biochemistry was being memorized during Naturopathic school, I always come back to the power of these sensory connections with plants in my own herbal learning.
How did you get into Naturopathy?
As a Kinesiology Undergrad I was always interested in health & in helping others to heal. I remember considering the ways I could make this my profession (MD, physiotherapist, dietician etc.) and quickly realized that I didn't like idea that there were these neat little limited healing tool boxes I was required to choose from (drugs, exercise, food etc.). So when I stumbled upon a website for Naturopathic Medical school and saw just how large & diverse an ND's toolkit was, something clicked. Here was a medical model that was both ancient & revolutionary. It recognized the health of the mind & body as inseparable and also intimately tied to the health of the planet we call home.
What is one of your favourite things about what you do?
Oh so many! But teaching people about the incredible inner workings of their bodies and the power of plant medicine is my very fav. Knowledge is power, and seeing the transformation that happens when we tap into our innate healing potential using plants is insanely rewarding.
What is one of the common myths you find yourself debunking about Herbal healing/ naturopathy (or alternatively- what is one little known fact about herbal healing/ naturopathy?)
A big misconception about using plants as medicine is that they act like, and are so often compared to & against drugs. For example aspirin originally came from Willow bark, therefore a Willow bark tea should have the same direct physiological effects or else it's considered roughly inert, and this belief breaks my herbal lovin' heart!
The conventional medical model is pretty fixated on understanding how something works by breaking it down into individual parts, whereas herbal medicine is more comfortable with the fact that Nature operates as a unified organism that is far more complex that any one chemical. Sometimes she hides her secrets so tightly that not even the most well designed randomized control trial can reveal them, and as a herbalist you kind of have to be ok with that. Having humility towards our herbal healers & admitting that just because we can't comprehend exactly how a herb will benefit us does not negate it of it's value. There's I think a sort of magic in their therapeutic mystery. I don't need an RCT to tell me Kale is good for me. Kale is so much more than it's chlorophyll. The very same goes for Chamomile.
What are you hoping will be the biggest takeaway from the series?
That each participant will have a transformative sensory experience with herbal healers as they've never had before, that takes them way beyond their typical cup of tea. That no matter your level of knowledge, your relationship with herbs & ability to access their benefits will become a life-long love affair of the most passionate & rewarding kind.
And finally, if you were an herb- what would you be?
A big bright Calendula flower (aka. Herbal Sunshine) :)