As I embark on my quest to become a certified herbalist I find myself asking, why? I have always had an interest in plant medicine and nutrition. My personal experience with dietary changes dramatically reducing my pain levels and improving my health have fueled my passion for promoting wellness through a plant-based diet. Our gut holds our primary immune defenses and actually regulates a great deal of our endocrine system. The old saying “you are what you eat” is far more factual than you would imagine. It makes sense that if our gut controls so much of our physiology then what we put in there is going to affect how we feel both physically and mentally. Wellness is my passion and there is no wellness without addressing basic nutrition and “gut health”.
My passion may be wellness but the trouble with passions is that they aren’t always shared. I have learned to curb my enthusiasm when promoting plant-based diets and herbs. Rushed and overly zealous attempts at sharing wisdom with others can become very annoying to everyone around you. I have been labeled a “health nut” and any cooked dishes I bring to an event are eyed with suspicion. “Heaven knows what she has put in here; it’s probably full of tofu and bean sprouts!” You also run the risk of making people feel guilty about their choices. “I don’t usually eat doughnuts; this was just a treat!” My hope is to help others, not alienate them, so I must tread lightly and wait for the right moments. I have learned to ask permission. I know of some things that may help you feel better, would you like some information? Asking first goes over a lot better than spouting off spontaneously.
Sadly, even when others ask for advice it will often go unheeded. My many years as a nurse providing dietary information has highlighted this fact. I suggest to the stroke patient that decreasing the amount of sodium in their diet and increasing fresh vegetables and fruits would help prevent another stroke, and I hear “I can’t”. I have provided dietary education to diabetic patients with serious complications, only to see them diving into the fast food meal their family brought them. “I can’t do it”. Even when it is less dire I see the same thing. I will give a friend with a minor health complaint some herbal tea to try. Although they have complained non-stop how much discomfort they are in, they never actually drink the tea. All these behaviors baffle me but humans are known to be complex creatures.
All these experiences bring me back to the question at hand. Why on earth do I want to be a herbalist? A lifetime of study, the expense of certification classes and hours of time invested, all for what? Who will benefit from my wise woman ways? Well, I certainly will, and maybe there are a few people out there that would like me to share what I learn. As I reflect on the question of why, I also realize it’s a moot point. It’s my passion and I couldn’t ignore my desire to learn more if I tried.
My love of nature and conservation, my desire for promoting wellness, and my inclination as a healer all drive me to become a herbalist. Why on earth would I want to be a herbalist? Why on earth wouldn’t I, and how would I possibly ignore this calling in life. So onward in my pursuit of wellness fueled by sustainably grown plants and herbs. Maybe I will get the privilege of helping a few others along the way.