Own Your Own Wellness

own-wellness-smIt shouldn’t have been so intimidating:

  • put herbs in mason jar
  • fill to the rim with vodka
  • stir
  • seal

Not difficult and certainly not rocket science for someone who knew her way around the kitchen.

And yet…

Was it really okay to pick dandelions from my yard? What if a dog had peed on them? Where does one buy mason jars anyway? And the big one: what if I poison myself?

The resistance and fear that this simple exercise evoked was amazing to me.

I had the book and then the mason jar for months before I made my first herbal tincture.

I thought this silliness was mine alone until my second year studying with herbalist David Winston.

The course was live-streamed, so while David lectured, some of us chatted online. It turned out that nearly two years into the program, one of the other women in the class had still never made a tincture.

That was years after my first tincturing experience and I’d been teaching herbalism for a while. I knew the only way to get this fear into proportion was to make the damn tincture.

I hit the caps key and typed GO GET A MASON JAR.

* * * *

I have come to realize recently that this fear of adding alcohol to plant material is a little deeper than mere fear of kitchen chemistry gone awry.

This is a cultural fear, pounded into our heads since we were quite small:

We don’t take care of ourselves, doctors do.

We don’t make our own medicine—we buy it from trusted names like Johnson & Johnson or Merck.

Our kitchen is not a lab and therefore not hygienic enough for making medicine.

I bought into all this, and I bet a lot of you do, too.

Don’t get me wrong—there is a time and place to get yourself to a doctor and there is a time when pharmaceuticals are exactly the drugs you need.

But there is a lot of space between optimal wellness and health that has deteriorated to the point of needing medical intervention.

And that’s the space we need to reclaim.

Making your first tincture is so friggin’ scary not because it’s complicated or difficult. It’s scary because, in that moment of pouring vodka over dandelions, you are declaring self-sovereignty.

You are saying I can make my own medicine and take care of myself.

And in our culture, that is downright revolutionary.

How do you do your self care? Tell me below!

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  1. says

    Thanks SO much for saying this! I just had this conversation with friends again this week, but reading your words for myself, reminds me that I am also holding back in this way, especially with herbal preparations. Needed to be reminded!

    • says

      Yo are so welcome, Nakia. And I understand the holding back– I’ve been there, done that. :) Once you have moved on this, post and let me know what you have made for yourself!

  2. Marcia Hole says

    Working in a hospital, I’ve had to suppress that notion and rely on compassion as the medicine that I give. When I read “I can make my own medicine and take care of myself”, I began to cry. What about compassion for myself? Isn’t that and healthy self love paramount to self care and from which all else springs?

    Yeah to the peaceful revolution.

  3. Lindsay says

    Thank you for posting this, Maia! Although I’ve been an avid home herbalist for years I’ve recently balked at the idea of giving my young daughter herbal preparations. I’ve been exploring this fear lately and after re-reading a children’s herbal book and this post, I feel I am ready!

    Enjoy Asheville! We lived there for many years.

    • says

      Hey Lindsay. I think the most important thing is absolute certainty in your plant i.d. So if you are unsure, buy your herbs from a trusted source. You don’t have to do every step of the process– grow, gather, turn into medicine– for it to feel empowering. Choose the bits that you can do easily and comfortably. And let me know how it feels to be making your own (and your daughter’s) medicine!

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