What is an “herbalist” and how are they trained?

An herbalist is a highly trained practitioner skilled in the art and science of matching medicinal plants with people. Botanical medicine is both incredibly simple and amazingly complex. An herbalist has extensive knowledge of not only the medicinal potential of botanical medicines (from phytochemistry to pharmacology) but also a solid understanding of human physiology and pathophysiology. Combine together, this allows an herbalist to provide holistic treatment of varying illness using the therapeutic potential of medicinal plants custom compounded to fit each individual need.

In the United States, there is no licensure or regulations of who can call themselves an “herbalist” or who can practice using that title. It is extremely important to do your research and feel comfortable with your herbalists level of training. Some herbalists can attend weekend seminars or brief certificate programs and begin practicing with little actual clinical experience.

What is your education?

I started a 3 year masters degree program in Herbal Medicine in 2009 from the Maryland University of Integrative Health and completed the program in 2012. This is the only accredited graduate herbal medicine program in the country, and offered specialized clinical training covering the the principles of health and wellness; herb identification and wildcrafting, herbal pharmacy; herbal pharmacology and phytochemistry; integrative human physiology and pathophysiology; extensive nutritional training (a whole Masters Degree worth); Ayurveda; research methods; materia medica; clinical application skills and herbal therapeutics. This extensive degree results in the accumulation of 84 graduate level credits. A typical masters degree requires the acquisition of only 36 credits.

Before all of that fun stuff, I attended and was graduated from Virginia Tech with an undergraduate degree in Horticulture and Landscape Design. You just can’t keep the plants and me apart.

What is your nutrition training?

I am a Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist (LDN) by the Maryland State Board of Dietetics and a Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS) from the National Certification Board of Nutrition Specialists. This is the governing body of advanced  nutrition professionals in the United States, requiring an advanced degree in nutrition, the completion of a national exam and at least 1,000 hours of supervised clinical training.

Is herbal medicine safe?

Yes – when you know what you’re doing. Herbs (plant/botanical medicines) are also drugs, and they have a profound affect on the human body. Comprised of thousands of medicinal constituents, herbs can affect multiple body systems in targeted ways while also working synergistically with the body for a holistic treatment approach (allowing minimal to no side effects in the process).

How is herbal medicine different from modern-day pharmaceuticals?

When using herbs as medicine, you are employing the entire plant (root, flower, leaf, rhizome, etc) which consists of hundreds or thousands medicinal constituents to address specific issues. This differs from pharmaceuticals which are manufactured to address one specific goal (which they often do very effectively). Pharmaceuticals, standardized as they are, do not always take into account the synergy of multiple body systems, often leading to unnecessary and potent side effects. Herbal medicines were not created for your specific diseases and illness, therefore there is no herb to “treat arthritis” or to “treat IBS”. Herbs, when combined together in a custom compound-ed form, can be remarkably effective in providing holistic treatment that is not just symptom specific, but whole body supporting.

How do you custom compound herbs?

I own and operate a small herb dispensary with about 100 western and Ayurvedic herbs in tea, powder ad hydroalcoholic (tincture) form. At the end of an herbal medicine appointment, I’ll have a strong sense of what form is best for you, and put herbs together in specialized combina-tions and dosing for each person. 

Can you work with people already taking medications?

Absolutely. A major part of seeing a qualified herbalist is knowing that herbs can be safely used in conjunction with pharmaceuticals under appropriate supervision. Herbs are also drugs, and interactions do happen. We can work on this together. Sometimes it’s possible to stop taking medications and sometimes it is not. Never completely stop taking a prescribed medication without first consulting your doctor.

Are you currently seeing new patients?

Yes! My practice is currently set up in Richmond, VA. Legally, I cannot give out any health advice via email or phone with out seeing you as a patient first with the appropriate intake and privacy paperwork. (I know, boo hiss - even herbalists are subject to the paper trail, too) I am working towards offering distance appointments via Skype, and I'll update when that becomes a reality!

Do you do Collaborations?

Yes! I love working with other likeminded companies and brands, big or small, where environmental stewardship, conscious consumption, fair trade and ethical business practices as well as botanical, herbal and agricultural sustainability and organic standards of production are part of their brand philosophy. For more information, visit the Work with Me page and feel free to get in touch!

Do you offer wholesale for your herbal formulas?

Yes! Please reach out to lindsay(at)gingertonicbotanicals(dot)com for wholesale inquiries and we will send over a wholesale catalog. Note - our herbal formulas are made in small batches and often made to order. Seasonally, supply may be limited.

The Book Bindery Building
2201 West Broad Street. Suite 107
Richmond, VA 23220
(804) 977-2634