AHG Community Connection Articles are submitted monthly by members of the AHG DEI Advisory Committee.
George Washington Carver: American Scientist, Indigenous Herbalist? by Essex Igyan (August 2023)
George Washington Carver, while not widely considered an indigenous herbalist, was a prominent African American scientist, botanist, educator, and inventor who made significant contributions to agricultural science and sustainable farming practices. He is best known for his work with peanuts and sweet potatoes, but his approach to utilizing natural resources in a sustainable and practical manner has some parallels with indigenous herbalism.
An indigenous herbalist is a traditional healer or practitioner within an indigenous community who possesses deep knowledge of local plants, their medicinal properties, and their cultural and spiritual significance. Read more.
Julie Ward by Holly Hutton (June 2023)
I sat down with Julie Ward, a colleague specializing in nutrition and herbs, to discuss her life path and thoughts on her current focus. As always, it starts with the roots; when I asked Julie about her younger years and memories of herbs and plants, she brought up her Southern-born grandfather, an avid gardener, who ensured the family table was filled with fresh-grown food. A vivid memory Julie conveyed of her grandfather, “He ensured that his offspring recognized the importance of the cotton plant and its many manifestations of meaning in America.” Read more.
Motherland Medicine by Jocelyn Perez-Blanco (May 2023)
Connecting with one’s roots can be a transformative experience, and when coupled with the opportunity to experience traditional medicine, it can be truly beautiful. Over the holidays, my husband and I had transplanted ourselves to Costa Rica, my mother's homeland, for almost a month to reconnect with family after many isolated years, and the visit could not have come at a better time and offered us an opportunity for a profound and uplifting experience that I will never forget. Read more.
Diverse People; Diverse Practice: Gender Expansive Care at the Heart of Herbalism by Lyz Moore-Frye, BSN, RN, Clinical Herbalist (April 2023)
I recently spoke at the 2022 American Herbalists Guild Symposium in Bethesda, Maryland regarding the demystifying of gender expansion in our current herbalism framework. This concept of heath care being a human right, and herbalism being health care, and that moving to an inclusive framework ensures the human rights of others was met with some pushback.
Fast forward to January of 2023, and we are now met with an unprecedented number of new legislation across the United States limiting, restricting, and sometimes banning gender expansive and transgender people from accessing vital health care. While herbalism is never a replacement for contemporary western medicine, herbalists sit at the precipice of providing life saving care for our gender expansive community. Read more.
Herbal Healing: Reducing Recidivism and Strengthening Indigenous Families by Sophia Boettcher (March 2023)
In Tacoma, Washington, the nonprofit Native Reentry Services (NARS) is making a difference in the lives of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated Indigenous individuals. Through the use of spirituality and herbal healing traditions, NARS helps break the cycle of recidivism and fosters a reconnection with community and cultural identity. Read more.
Book Review - You Are the Medicine: 13 Moons of Indigenous Wisdom, Ancestral Connection, and Animal Spirit Guidance by Asha Frost (February 2023)
Book Review Author: Dr. Kourtney Sims MD, FACOG, NCMP, DABOM, Clinical Herbalist
This month’s spotlight features the work of Asha Frost who has walked the path of Indigenous Healer and Medicine woman for over 20 years. She is also the author of several works including You Are the Medicine: 13 Moons of Indigenous Wisdom, Ancestral Connection, and Animal Spirit Guidance, Sacred Moon Teachings and Meditations, Indigenous Teaching and Meditations for Energy Healing, and has an upcoming oracle deck called the Sacred Medicine Oracle that is set to be released February 28, 2023. In this spotlight I will be reviewing her bestselling book You are the Medicine. Read more.
Rachelle McElhannon - HHP, HNC by Essex Igyan (December 2022)
I am pleased to introduce to our readers someone who has also studied with my teacher Dr. A.K. Andoh, Rachelle McElhannon. Rachelle is the certified holistic nutrition counselor, holistic wellness lifestyle educator, and owner of 99 Plants, LLC. As a plant advocate and a plant based eater for over 30 years, she provides a plant food experience that involves the education of plant based nutrition and the use of a variety of plants (herbs) for healing purposes. The methods she uses in her counseling and education sessions include science based holistic therapies and a plant based food regimen. She is now on a mission to assist others in accomplishing their holistic health goals through the sharing of safe, evidence-based holistic protocols that support the body's ability to heal and maintain wellness. Read more.
Roots - A Chat with Keren Dolan by Holly Hutton (November 2022)
Keren Dolan, the recently appointed chair of the American Herbal Guild Board of Directors, graciously agreed to chat with me about her family's strong ties to Northern Virginia and South Carolina. Keren, with help from stories of her mom's, started to put the puzzle pieces of her family's history together. Throughout most of her life, Keren has been immersed in academia and science, specializing in functional nutrition, western clinical herbalism and holistic aromatherapy. Keren's quest and joyful recognition that she comes from a long line of ancestors who practiced traditional healing and herbal medicine felt like coming full circle. Read more.
My Mother’s Roots: The Tale of an Immigrant’s Herbal Journey by Jocelyn Perez-Blanco (June 2022)
Whether it involved tending to houseplants or using herbs in everyday life, plants have always been an important part of my maternal family’s dynamic – the primary source of nutrition and medicine. I was raised in a household with a mother, Xinia (pronounced See-nia), who took every opportunity to share her knowledge and instill a deep appreciation for the healing that nature could bring, inspiring me to embrace food as medicine and the beauty all around us, whether found in a field of white clover or the most delicate damascus rose. This is a peek into her own journey, one that continues to bring an endless stream of remedies and horticultural advice my way. Read more.
Book Review - African American Herbalism: A Practical Guide to Healing Plants and Folk Traditions by Lucretia VanDyke (May 2022)
I chatted with this wonderful herbalist and author, while she was traveling between Atlanta and heading towards her hometown of North Carolina after recently returning from Haiti, about the release of her upcoming book and her journey to writing the book. Talking with Lucretia was like talking to an old friend as she shared about the recent spiritual journey that she has been on since the COVID 19 pandemic and how that led her to the evolution of her new book. As she talked about using poke for a plant spirit meditation and the beginning of a 7 day spiritual bath, she explained how plant medicine and ceremony with the plants led her to a complete upheaval in her personal life and opened her up to the voices of the ancestors that were guiding her to write this book. Read more.
Historical Highlight - Avicenna (Ibn Sina) by Talal Al Hamad (April 2022)
Arguably the most influential practitioner of all time and as such the backbone of many herbal cultures , including the USA, Avicenna is in a league of his own when it comes to achievements. Born in 980 AD in Bokhara Afghanistan, his lifetime can be summarized as a period of extraordinary knowledge. As a gifted child he quickly exhausted his teachers in his teens and began his studies in medicine at the early age of thirteen seeing this first client at the age of sixteen. By 20 years of age he was appointed as a court physician and was granted permission to utilize the dynastic library as a reward for curing the prince of Bukhara from a disease where all hope was lost. His works formed the basis of many processes we know today including : filtration, distillation, sublimation and more. Read more.
Dr. Anthony Kweku Andoh by Essex Igyan (March 2022)
Dr. Anthony Kweku Andoh’s life was definitely preordained that he be a healer. Ethnobotany, shamanism and the very rainforest that he was born in, were all destined to be part of his elaborate journey. Born the son of one of Africa’s foremost botanists, the young Andoh was introduced to the secret life of plants at an early age. As a child, the traditional healers of his village, in the Ashanti Region of Ghana, taught Andoh about the ways in which his ancestors used the native plants. This knowledge was further enhanced by the many field expeditions he went on with his father, a member in the Ghanaian Forest Ministry. Sometimes on these expeditions with his father, they would play a game where Andoh’s father challenged him to identify plants with their common and botanical names as he randomly pointed at them along their route. To the amazement of his peers and colleagues, young Andoh got it right everytime. Read more.