⚕ Cheryl
, California, USA, 
Herbalist, Herbal Educator and Herbal Shop Owner

Cheryl’s herbal store

Cheryl’s herbal store

What is your profession? 

I am an Herbalist, Herbal Educator and I run a retail Herb Shop. 

Do you grow your own herbs? 

Some. I have two gardens where I grow herbs for medicine. In the herb shop I have to rely on retail, or herbal distributors. I get herbs from all over the world. For example, ginger and cardamom doesn’t grow here. What I can’t grow and keep up I get from local herbal farmers. I support local herbalists. 

I sell herbs in bulk. I make herbal medicines from syrups, oils, salves, herbal oils, herbal extracts, otherwise known as tinctures. I have a copper still where I can make floral waters from aromatic plant material also called hydrosols. 

Where were you born? Where did you grow up?

Born in Rochester, New York, in a little town just outside New York.

When you were growing up, what sort of occupation did you envision yourself doing?

I had no idea. Even when I graduated from high school I had no idea. It wasn’t until my late 20’s did I start investigating Herbalism as a career. 

What jobs caught your eye while you were little? Any specific memories of the idea of “work”? 

When I was younger I always wanted to be a wood worker and a weaver. My grandfather was a woodworker and I always loved wood. I was drawn to the grain, the trees, the beauty of it all. 

What is a herbalist?

Herbalists are specially trained in the field of herbal medicine. An herbalist uses plants and other natural substances to improve health, promote healing, and prevent and treat illness. Herbalists use the seeds, berries, roots, leaves, bark, and flowers of plants called herbs or botanicals for medicinal purposes.

Herbal medicine, also called botanical medicine, has been used for thousands of years. 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 80 percent of people worldwide use herbal remedies as part of their overall health care. 

Cheryl ( in the middle on her grandmother’s lap) on a family trip.

Cheryl ( in the middle on her grandmother’s lap) on a family trip.

What professions did your parents and grandparents follow?

 My mother was a secretary her whole life, she never pursued the path she wanted to which was a nurse. My Dad was a mechanical engineer, he was a drafter. He had the same job from when he was 16 until when he retired. You don’t see that too much anymore. 

My grandparents lived in the country. They ran a cold storage, a place to store fruit for the winter, or cellar crops. They would also store livestock. I remember seeing deer hanging in the storage. 

How did you end up in your current profession? 

Cheryl (middle) as a child eating corn with her sisters.

Cheryl (middle) as a child eating corn with her sisters.

My father instilled the love of nature in me. Growing up, we went camping, hiking, swimming. We didn’t have a lot of money so we went on vacation camping. My Dad was a real environmentalist. He loved trees, nature and the world around him. That and the birth of my daughter. When she was born, I discovered allopathic medicine didn’t have much to offer for children when they were sick. I started looking at alternative, complimentary or traditional medicine to treat her. Once I saw the effectiveness, and the safety of nurturing the body for children, that really inspired me to study more. 

Through my creativity, I would make gifts for people instead of buying them. It would feel more significant coming from the heart.

Cheryl (far left) observing a student preparing a tincture

Cheryl (far left) observing a student preparing a tincture

What are the main adjectives you would use to describe yourself?

 I am a real community builder. An important part of my work is bringing community together through education. My community building experience started when my daughter was in grade school. Notes did not come home, so I put together an email list for all the parents where we could share information from home and school. I love sharing my experiences with people. Educating people about the importance of self care and how easy it is to grow your medicine and care for your family and friends. 

I have tons of energy, curious, love, inspiration. I tend to be inspired easily and am very creative. I am an introvert in many ways but have a lot of humility. 

How do you feel your work fits you? What do you enjoy about it? What is difficult or took time to master? What were obstacles in your way to overcome?

My love of nature and the natural world. When you become an herbalist, it provides a deeper connection to the world around you. I love the connection to the natural world. Looking around I love knowing how to use the plants to heal mind, body and spirit. I love being creative.  I love the chemistry. Once I got to know more about herbalism I would make creams, lotions, aromatherapy therapy mists and salves. It is the medicine part I enjoyed. Herbalism is an art and science and I love combing the two. 

What took me time to master was teaching. I am an introvert by nature. Teaching is a skill that you just have to get yourself out there. I feel now that after eight years of teaching, I now feel more comfortable with it. I had to overcome my insecurities of putting myself out there. Public speaking was really scary. Now I find it is really fun and enjoy it. “Do what you fear” and when you master it, it gives you so much self confidence.

Cheryl demonstrating how to prepare an herbal extraction.

Cheryl demonstrating how to prepare an herbal extraction.

How would you describe your achievements? What role do you play in your community?

 Being a positive role model for people in the community. I am now a non-profit where I can reach out to those who could not otherwise afford care because I can now afford it. Being an herbalist is not something you gain money from, but it feeds your soul. It is a rich life that feeds my purpose. It is a love. A different kind of wealth way better than any other wealth can give people. 
What elements, events and/or people have influenced your life and choices? Who inspires you? 

Rosemary Gladstar. Before I started training with people, I read her books. Her love of what she does and her gentle kindness shines through her books. I think it was because of her teachings that really inspired me to go further. 

Helping people to take care of themselves. I love teaching people how to take care of themselves. I love when people come back to me and say, “Wow! I really loved what you told me. It worked” That nourishes me. 

What advice would you offer to a young person exploring their interests about finding their calling or trying out different paths? 

Volunteer. Help out in places you are drawn to. 

The chamomile plant

The chamomile plant

Plants can be used to heal
Example:  Chamomile

Chamomile is the mother of all herbs. Peter Rabbit and Alice in Wonderland drank chamomile tea! It soothes tired bodies, and has many important uses for healing.

Chamomile can help with:

  • stomachache
  • indigestion
  • gas
  • colic 
  • nervousness, tension,
  • crying, whining, irritability 
  • teething
  • insomnia 
  • colds
  • constipation
  • burns, cuts
  • sore muscles
  • diaper rash and other rashes

    Latin Name: Anthemis nobilis or Matricaria chamomilla
    Part Used: Flowers
    Energy and Taste: Neutral energy, bittersweet taste
    Make as a: Tea, bath, capsule, pill sun tea, wash, poultice, tincture, butters, dream pillow, mouthwash, steam, oil, salve. 

Chamomile tea is very calming and relaxing. 

Here’s what you will need to soothe:

  • Place 2 teaspoons chamomile flowers in a teapot or stainless steel pot.
  • Pour 1 cup of boiling water over the flowers. 
  • Put a lid on and let sit for 15-20 minutes.
  • Strain, sweeten to taste and drink in 1/4 - 1/2 cup doses. 
  • Wait and see how much better you feel!