By Sue Bara, Certified Naturalist, Herbalist, Reiki Master/Teacher

The smell of fresh greens, vibrant florals, and pungent roots permeate the air, wafting from baskets overflowing with plants from the garden and valley. The local “wild woman” quietly gives her thanks to the plants and the earth for her bountiful harvest, which she will turn into medicine for her community…

Herbal medicine has been around for thousands of years. It’s a tradition steeped in deep respect for the plants and the earth, for their living sacrifice in providing food and medicine. And not so very long ago, every home had someone versed in basic herbal remedies. The home medicine chest was filled with plants like chamomile or catnip to soothe upset stomachs, yarrow to stop bleeding or help break a fever, and other basic herbs to treat all those little things that life throws at us.  Long before there were pharmacies, there were plants.  And they’re still here, offering some amazing and simple medicine.

In our neighboring state of New Jersey, David Winston runs his Center for Herbal Studies, where he brings his 35+ years of experience, offering both onsite classes and an online live webcast. David is a world-renowned herbalist, ethnobotanist, and a founding member of the American Herbalist Guild. I have been honored to be in David’s program for the past year and a half, where he teaches an intense study of more than 300 herbs, along with the basic systems of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda, Cherokee, and American herbalism.  Students learn not only about each herb, but how they work in the body and may interact with medications, how to understand clinical studies, and most importantly, how to treat people, not diseases. To me, that is the true beauty of herbal medicine:  Herbalists treat people, not diseases. We see you as a whole person, spending time to get to know you and discover which herbs will work best to help you be well.

Herbal medicine was quietly tended in the background while pharmaceuticals took the spotlight, being practiced and taught by traditional herbalists who shared what they knew with those willing to learn.  And now we can benefit from those who kept herbalism alive, learning not only from from books written by masters in the field like David Winston, Michael Moore, David Hoffman, Susun Weed, and Rosemary Gladstar (to name just a few), but we can immerse ourselves in some excellent online programs taught by experienced and reliable practitioners who are members of the American Herbalist Guild, with programs ranging from simple evening workshops to 2 or 4 year clinical programs (visit  And of course, there are many new community herbalists starting to offer local plant walks, classes, and consultations. Check your local health food store, co-op, and local nature societies to see what’s happening in your area.

Herbal remedies have made their way into the mainstream, with herbs available in local health food shops and even grocery stores. We are also starting to see the bridge between nature and science, with clinical studies beginning to understand and document the healing abilities of plants. Some plants have been shown to be effective against antibiotic-resistant bacteria, while others are helping to curb the side effects of chemotherapy. And there are many more places where herbs and western medicine can work well together.

As an herbalist, I hope to soon be introducing some of the wonderful, simple medicine that plants have to offer to our community right here in Delaware, especially for stress management, first aid, and those pesky ailments like viruses. I hope that every home will choose to have a few of our “green allies” to help treat stomach upset, insect bites, minor injuries, and stress, and that our local abundant “weeds” like stinging nettles, dandelion, chickweed, and red clover will once again be used and recognized for their healing and nutritional properties.  I hope to help our community merge the benefits of western medicine and herbal medicine, enhancing wellness for us all.


Questions about herbs or herbal education? Contact me at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (302) 743-6316;

What Our Clients Say...

Magical healing and mystical experiences are abound when it comes to the loving energy of Reiki.  These incredibly wonderful experiences start even before sessions begins; when you first see and feel the completely awesome and amazing energy of Anita's cottage.  Upon entering the cottage, you feel completely at ease, with a world of stress that you carry just melting away.  The longer you are in the cottage receiving the love of the Reiki energy and connecting to Spirit, the more of a gift you have been given.  It is truly something amazing and truly unique to each person.  And the best part is, while every session is unique, you know that you will be loved, touched, and receive some healing before your session is over.  The gift and love of the Reiki energy, the connections to Spirit, and the passion of those who bring Reiki to others is a beacon of light in a crazy, chaotic, and stressful world.  While there are many ways to relax and renew oneself, Reiki with Anita is one of the best and most profound experiences that one can have. 

~Katie Holloway