Edinboro environmental club brings herbalist to talk herbs, wellness

Category:  News
Wednesday, November 15th, 2017 at 5:50 PM
Edinboro environmental club brings herbalist to talk herbs, wellness by Livia Homerski
Photo: Livia Homerski

Herbs are one of the oldest forms of medicine on the planet. Whether it be indigestion or inflammation, cultures around the world have used spices and herbs to treat illnesses and ailments for centuries. 

The Students of Edinboro for Environmental Defense, or SEED, welcomed Leslie Alexander, a clinical herbalist and educator, to present a workshop, “Let’s Talk Herbs,” on herbalism and wellness. Kelly Hinnebusch, a ceramics student, provided over a dozen handcrafted mugs for everyone to sip their tea from during the presentation in order to be as sustainable as possible. 

Alexander began her career as an herbalist once she discovered her interest in healing and wellness while doing research at Lancaster University. Alexander obtained her bachelor’s degree in environmental sciences from Fairleigh Dickinson University and her Ph.D. from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland. 

The nearby table neatly displayed the variety of herbs she discussed during the presentation, and Alexander shared them with everyone who attended. The mugs passed out contained hot water with lemongrass, chamomile, lavender, and stevia for everyone to sample. For the second round of tea, Alexander french pressed a mix of cardamon, fennel, and cumin. 

Alexander also brought tinctures, a concentrated form of herbs that can be taken orally for wellness purposes. Tinctures are comprised of two things: the herbs and a medium of extraction for the herbs, typically alcohol or a glycerite. Glycerites are made of plant matter such as oat seeds, which are rich in B vitamins and a healthier alternative than alcohol based tinctures. There were tinctures of bergamot, cinnamon, ashwagandha, and Bee Balm, which contained monarda and didyma. 

Alexander explained that you can find the right herb to treat nearly any common medical issue you may have, but it is not one size fits all. Your diet, sleeping patterns, stress levels and even your environment all affect the multitude of good and bad bacteria living inside of you. The more balanced they are, the easier it is to maintain your health, she said. 

“In Western medicine, we treat everyone the same. There are differences in every person’s body. Treatment (using herbs) must be done in the context of yourself,” explained Alexander. 

The taste and smell of the tea itself can also reveal clues as to what the herb may work best for. Is the aroma warming or cooling? Does it dry or moisten your mouth? Does the warmth and aroma move into your sinuses or stomach? Some herbs may have antibacterial, antiviral or anti-fungal properties; be aware of the differences when choosing your ingredients. These elements all affect your intended treatment. 

Alexander explained many properties and effects of the herbs she brought in. Cinnamon is a spice that brings blood to the surface of the skin, thus warming the body. Eucalyptus is great for sinus issues like congestion because the warmth and aroma move upward in the body. Lemongrass relaxes muscles, supports salivary action and has anti-microbial properties. Knowing the properties of different herbs and experiencing them yourself is the best way to create your own recipes and remedies. 

For those intrigued by creating a healthy coexistence between yourself and your environment, SEED Club meets every Thursday from 5-6 p.m. in Cooper 223. They can also be found on their Facebook page, SEED (Students of Edinboro for Environmental Defense.) 

Livia Homerski can be reached at eupnews.spectator@gmail.com.

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