Latest Event Updates
Herbalista Free Clinic Service Report
It’s hard to believe that our clinic debut was not even a year ago! On Feburary 6, 2013 we pitched for the first time at the Open Door Community in Atlanta. It has been a tremendously exciting year, and we hope this is just the beginning of a long and healing journey.
We wanted to share some of the highlights with you:
At our Atlanta hub we hosted 17 clinics, where we served gallons of seasonal tea blends, conducted 111 consultations, dispensed 2 1/2 gallons of customized tincture formulas (alcohol and glycerites), 8#’s of raw custom herbal and powder blends, and a variety of other remedies including essential oil sniffers, herbal capsules, and oil rubs.
We facilitated several pop-up first aid clinics around the country, including the Rainbow Gathering in Montana, the Firefly Gathering in North Carolina, the Southeast Women’s Herbal Conference in North Carolina, and the Georgia Organics Conference in GA, where we served hundreds more and put herbal healing in the hands of the people.
We spread the Herb Bus method and our love for plants and community at numerous classes and workshops. Some of our hosts included Ponderosa High School, the Blue Ridge School of Herbal Medicine, Warren Wilson College, Homestead Atlanta, and the High Museum of Art.
We created the Herb Bus Service Manual to help others start free clinic projects in their communities. This manual is available as a free PDF download from our website.
Lorna, the herbalista who drives this sweet ol’ bus around town, was awarded the 2013 Community Service Award by the American Herbalists Guild to honor her work with the Herbalista Free Clinic and the Harriet Tubman Free Foot Clinic.
The Bus drove over 10,000 miles delivering healthcare and herbal education around the country.
And, saving the best for last, we spent time with the plants– studying their form, learning their energetics and actions, and wildcrafting to prepare sweet sweet remedies to share with our patients and community.
Thanks to our community who supports this work, our teachers who inspire us to grow and strive, the plants who heal, and the people who receive these gifts with grace. Viva la Herb Bus!
The Herb Bus turned Black Friday Green as she circled up in the museum piazza to share some herbal healing at the High’s “Go West!” exhibit.
Teachers from Homestead Atlanta demonstrated survival and crafting skills such as tanning, cobbling, spinning, herbal healing and orienteering — all skills necessary for life on the frontier. The pioneers relied heavily on plant medicine for survival during the days of western expansion. Most families would have needed to have a basic knowledge of how to use plants to keep themselves healthy as doctors were few and far between. For many, their doctor was in fact their wife or mother, and her apothecary would have been her kitchen using the herbs that grew around them. The Herb Bus is honored to carry this American tradition into the 21st Century. We spent the day crafting herbal remedies for wintertime health. I’ve posted the recipes for some of the remedies we made on the Herbalista website for your crafting pleasure. Give the gift of health this holiday season!
The Herb Bus stops at the Open Door Community on the first Wednesday of every month. In this month’s issue of Hospitality, their regular newsletter, they gave a shout out to the Bus and our efforts to spread the health and happiness through herbalism. And I would like to give a shout-out right back for the wonderful work the Open Door is engaged in on the daily.
The Open Door is a residential community dedicated to resisting war and violence, dismantling racism, sexism, and heterosexism, abolishing the death penalty and building a stronger and more loving community by nurturing all members of our community including the homeless and prison inmates. They open the house several days a week and offer many needed services such as soup kitchen, showers, phones, and medical care. There are 4 different free clinics at the Open Door — basic medical, foot care, women’s, and for the past year herbal.
I have been fortunate to have spent close to a decade of Wednesday evenings surrounded by this dynamic and caring group as I serve at the Harriet Tubman Foot Clinic, a free foot clinic for our friends on the street. The members of this community have been a tremendous influence on my work and my heart. Their encouragement and support allowed me to take on the challenges of promoting an integrative approach at the foot clinic and also to dare to dream of a free mobile clinic we now call the Herb Bus.
There is a saying at the Open Door, “We’re gonna do the best we can until we can’t.” These are simple words that make a profound point. When we are facing what seems a difficult journey, when we don’t know how we can achieve the change that we know needs to happen, this phrase reminds us that we don’t have to have all the answers, we just have to do our best. And while we are out there, giving what we can, we will be creating the community that is capable of even greater things.
Each year the SouthEast Women’s Herbal Conference sets up camp at Lake Eden outside of Black Mountain, NC. Over 1000+ women and children attend this 3 day event in the early fall. Our First Aid Center is tasked with providing earth-based care for this temporary village. All of our services and remedies are offered free. For many, a visit to our clinic facilitates their first healing experience with herbal medicine, illuminating the vital link between true health and nature. We had over 100 visits to the center and also made a few “cabin calls.”
Our clinic is hostessed by graduates from the Appalachia School of Holistic Herbalism (ASHH) located in West Asheville, NC. I have had the honor both serving and coordinating this clinic for the past several years and share with you some pictures from this year’s clinic. I have also been working on a mini-manual filled with information on how we staff, stock, and provide this type of clinic for those who may be inspired to do the same in their neck of the woods. It is available as a PDF on the Herbalista website. www.Herbalista.org
To see more from this clinic, check out the album in our Photo Gallery
For their final student clinic of the year, the Blue Ridge School of Herbal Medicine hosted The Herb Bus. After giving the students a preliminary training (using the Herb Bus Service Manual as our guide) about how to run a free, mobile, herbal clinic, we set up the bus at a community in Asheville to allow the students a chance to work in this type of health care model. We had a great time serving the folks at The Landing.
To see more from this clinic, check out the album in our Photo Gallery.
After a few more months of running clinics, we’ve made some updates and additions to our service manual. In order to share what we’ve learned and help you to better serve your own communities, the manual is available online. We’ve also created a tab on the Herb Bus website that will always link to the most current edition.
Fire up your engines… your communities need you!
Viva La Herb Bus!
One thing’s for sure– herbalists go through a lot of bottles. For a profession where environmental impact rates high on the list of our concerns, the last thing we want to do is add to a bunch of bottles, caps, and droppers to the mountainous landfills. I clean and reuse bottles and wanted to share with you the methods I have found safe and efficient.
When a bottle is returned to me, I pour out any leftover tincture, oil, etc and place the bottles into a hot, soapy bath, leaving them to soak for a time to allow the labels and any residue to loosen. The labels will practically fall off, and for the more stubborn parts, simply use the label bits that did come free and rub that over the remaining adhered label. That will work it free.
I have a number of different bottle brushes with which I scrub the inside of each bottle. As for the droppers, I dissemble them, separating the pipettes, the squeeze bulbs, and the plastic rings from one another. I use phenolic cone lined caps and these cones are popped free with the use of a pointed set of tweezers. These bits and pieces are all then immersed in a soapy, hot bath for a soak. I use my favorite tool, a mascara wand (purchased from a beauty supply store) to clean the inside of the pipettes, squeeze bulbs, and other hard to reach places. After this prewash I pack everything into a bin for the next step.
In order to feel like the bottles and tops have received a complete wash and sterilization for reuse, I like to use a dishwasher and program it for the heavy duty wash with the high heat setting. Since I am not gifted with a dishwasher at my own house, the next step involves schlepping all the bottles and various accoutrement to my parent’s house (is there ever a time we stop needing assistance from our folks) to run them through their machine. I use a simple eco-friendly detergent with the above mentioned settings.
After they have been run through, I schlep them back home for the final stages of this “ever-so-time-consuming-but-totally-worth-it” cleaning protocol. The bottles are lined up against my west facing window bank to allow for any last bits of moisture to escape and the tops are laid out on a clean towel. The blue bottle in the picture above is filled with 95% alcohol, which is the same alcohol I use for making my tinctures. I spritz them all over and wipe them down with a thin cotton towel. To reach the inside of the squeeze bulbs I again use that trusty mascara wand. Finally, all is reassembled to be used once more to dole out sweet, sweet herbal medicine
For any bottle or top that doesn’t pass muster (using organoleptic evaluation– sight and smell) they are put back into the bin for another cleaning. You will find that over time, the squeeze bulbs loose their integrity (notice in the photograph that some are starting to look a bit grey) and they will eventually get pulled. This is a bit frustrating, because the pipettes and ring are still completely fine. I have searched and have yet to find a distributer of just the bulbs. So I’ve taken to keeping the extra pipettes in a cup for tastings of herbal concoctions I’m making, which feels like a fine way to spend their retirement!