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;

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As I look back and reflect where I was 5years ago and where I am today, I think wow. It all started at a free Reiki event many years ago hosted by Anita. I had not a clue what Reiki was and I was hesitant to sign up. Then in walked Anita, searching for willing participants.  I thought “what was the worst thing that could happen?” – I get to relax for 30minutes?  Anita so brilliantly explained what Reiki was all about and I instantly said yes. I was amazed at the energy work that happened that day. I knew I would work with Anita many more times, to heal my heart, body, and spirit.

Inspired by the care, compassion, knowledge and love Anita has for Reiki and for life, I signed up to study and train under her to become a Reiki Master/Teacher. Her knowledge of Reiki, Healing Touch, Crystals, Herbs, Aromatherapy, Mindfulness and Meditation practices, just to name a few is beyond any comparison. You opened your home and studio to those of us eager to learn what you loved doing. You so generously give back to the community and help those around you embrace those opportunities as well.

For those who do not know Anita, she lights up the room with her beautiful smile, loving heart and healing energy. Her healing modalities are guided by spirit and infused with such amazing and abounding love. If you have never been to the cottage, taken a workshop, tried tea or soap made by Anita, you do not know what you are missing. It is such a sacred and welcoming place.

My favorite thing is…the cottage, homemade teas, homemade soaps, crystals, singing bowls, Reiki share, community, dream catchers, meditation…. Who am I kidding, I love it all, especially Anita!  Thank you for teaching me to do what I love and for guiding me every step of the way. Thank you for holding space, sharing unconditionally of yourself ( and your family ).Thank you for making a difference in my life, and the lives of so many others. Never stop doing what you do.
~Cheryl T.