Plants are the powerhouses of energy and healing. They can consume the rays of the sun and convert them to necessary nutrients for humans and animals to use for survival. Truly, if it weren’t for plants, we wouldn’t be here!
Jade Waterworth is an Herbalist who is able to harness the natural healing power of plants to combat an array of issues including pain, disease, disorders, and just overall health and wellbeing. You can learn more about Jade and her work here:
About Jade and her work:
I am a medical herbalist and studied for a Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Herbal Medicine at the University of Westminster, achieving a First Class Honours (1st) degree in 2019.
Since then, I have studied aromatherapy and flower essences to increase my knowledge of plant-based remedies further. Nutrition was a taught element of my course but it is a subject I have self-studied since 2013.
I am currently learning horticulture and aim to be self-sufficient with my own herb garden; growing and harvesting plants with my own hands and turning them into potent, healing remedies.
My passion lies in the historical use of herbs, traditional medicine, and herbal folklore. Digging up information about old, helpful remedies which may have been sidelined or forgotten and championing herbs that have been in use for centuries.
I’ve suffered from psoriasis and eczema since I was a child and tried so many different pharmaceuticals and treatments to no avail. Recommended creams and greasy, uncomfortable ointments did nothing to improve either condition.
At age 21, I was fed up with waiting for a conventional treatment that worked and wanted to try taking my health into my own hands. I started to look into more holistic treatments thinking that, indeed, there must be a natural way to treat my condition. After researching, I decided to give nutrition and herbs a try. Modifying my diet (cutting out food triggers such as sugar and gluten, as well as steering clear of alcohol) and drinking copious amounts of nettle tea finally eased the intensely itchy eczema (and consequently, the stinging, bleeding skin) that I had suffered with for so long. I was amazed and overjoyed but also dumbfounded that such a simple fix had finally rid me of years of discomfort and disappointment. I was eager to learn more and wanted to help others who had been in my position.
Since then, I’ve used herbs for many of my ailments and have been amazed by their effectiveness each and every time.
Teaching others to take charge of their own health and enjoy the process of using nature to heal and stay well, just as I do, is something that fills me with joy. Seeing them in awe of the beauty and healing power of plants is a beautiful thing.
But also connecting with the plants. Planting them as seeds and watching them grow, harvesting them, and turning them into a variety of remedies to aid myself and others through the day and being able to use the gifts of mother nature in my practice. Plants have an energy, an intelligence, that is only heard if we take the time to connect with and listen to them.
Herbalism from start to finish:
Herbalism is using parts of the plant, whether that be the flowers, leaves, seeds, bark, roots, or fruits, as medicine in forms for the body to utilize, such as tinctures, teas, juices, creams, oils, ointments, salves or supplements.
A typical consultation usually starts with taking a detailed case history which explores the areas around the presenting complaint and will look into the diet, lifestyle, medication history, and family history. This usually takes around 1 hour for the first session. This may also include a physical assessment such as palpation of the body areas affected, taking the pulse, taking the blood pressure, or listening to the heart or lungs with a stethoscope. A management plan will be discussed, and herbs will usually be dispensed after the session either for the client to take with them or shipped shortly after. Follow-up sessions are usually around 30 minutes to check in and modify the treatment plan, if necessary.
Herbal medicine has a broad range of uses due to the vast array of plants and their complex assortment of constituents; as such, many health challenges may be considered for treatment. This can be anything from muscular pain to respiratory health, circulation problems, skin disorders, digestive issues, and reproductive health. For more serious concerns, it is usually recommended to work in conjunction with your doctor, which many herbalists are more than happy to do.
Herbalism is especially practical for minor ailments such as coughs, colds, sore throats, hay fever, and indigestion, so as not to rely on OTC medications or overwhelm GP surgeries.
I would also recommend it for chronic complaints due to the wide selection of nutritive herbs able to build up the body, provide support and reduce inflammation, and be safe for long-term use.
Herbalism for overall healing and well-being:
It is easy to forget that we are whole beings. Each part of us is interconnected to the others; one part affected affects the whole. If we are getting indigestion after meals or not sleeping well and waking up tired, this will likely start affecting other parts of our body, leaving us feeling run down and susceptible to illness in the long run.
Herbs help to build us up, cleanse us and keep our bodies running efficiently by being nutritive and aiding metabolic processes. Their properties help to address our physical ailments but also help to calm our mind and soothe our spirit, bringing the whole of our person into unity and harmony.
There is something so grounding about using plants as an aspect of our health. Growing and harvesting; foraging for remedies. I urge people to try growing a plant from seed to harvest; even if you do not have a garden, it is nice to have a windowsill herb shelf, growing a small pot of peppermint to use as tea or fresh basil to top a pasta dish. Nurturing a tiny seed into a healthy, usable plant is gratifying.
From the patient’s point of view:
Being fully present with the person so that their concerns are heard with the highest level of respect and attention that I can give them. Being a present and active listener is essential to being a good practitioner. People are at their most vulnerable when they open up to a therapist, so I need to listen to them thoroughly so that they feel supported. Not everyone has a sound support system at home; feeling supported is incredibly important to the healing process.
Being treated with herbalism is opening up to the gifts of the earth and being more connected with nature; as beings of the earth, this is how we should be living. City dwellers often lose contact with nature due to the lack of green spaces and foraging opportunities. Seeing a herbalist is one way to re-establish that contact with nature and utilize the powerful properties of the plants that grow around us.
Many of our pharmaceuticals were initially derived from plants, and a vast amount of research is going into new drug discovery using isolated plant constituents. Herbs contain a very complex combination of constituents that actively interact with the body to produce several beneficial effects. Moreover, people have used herbs as medicine and in rituals for as long as humans have been alive.
The best advice I can give to someone is just to be open-minded and give it a try. I had no experience with herbs before I tried them for the first time at age 21, and it’s been the best thing I ever did for my health and well-being. And if it doesn’t work the first time, try and give another herb combination a go. Some herbs are better suited to different people depending on their constitution. Some herbs are very drying or heating, so a person already suffering from a condition that makes them feel very hot internally or dry externally may not get the desired results if they use the wrong herbs. It is why it’s worth seeing an experienced herbalist.
But at the end of the day, it’s what works for you. Some people don’t like the taste of tea or tinctures, or they might find creams and poultices a hassle to use regularly. But if people are coming to see me, then at least they consider herbal medicine as an approach. A big part of healing does come from within. A skeptical person may dismiss the healing effects of their herbs and may not respond well to treatment.
Jade’s well-being tips:
The four pillars of health are worth keeping in mind: eat well, sleep well, do light exercise, and keep stress to a minimum.
Eat well: the food you put into your body is what gets assimilated and used to keep you alive and well. Therefore, eating the most nourishing foods you can find provides the body with the optimum nutrients to keep working at maximum efficiency, helping keep illness at bay. It’s worth cutting down on sugary and processed foods; they do not provide the best nourishment, and the body has a hard time processing them, which is why they can disrupt the digestive system, causing constipation or showing up on the skin in the form of red and irritable skin conditions such as acne. It can be hard to omit them altogether, so I recommend just having them in small amounts, say for special occasions, but not every day.
Sleep well: sleep is so essential for the body and mind to rest and heal. Having disrupted or little sleep impacts our body’s capacity for repair, which can cause us to become more susceptible to illness and long-term health conditions. It can also affect our mood, making us feel more irritable, tired and causing difficulty with focusing and remembering.
Light exercise is essential for the body to stay in good working order to remain flexible and supple. Sitting down for long periods of time in one position can cause the body to become stiff and painful over time. Going for short daily or long weekly walks or doing some light stretches can help to loosen up the body to lessen the aches and pains associated with long hours of sitting down.
Relaxation: We’re in a world where it feels like we have to spend every moment being busy, which overwhelms us and burns us out. It’s essential just to be able to enjoy downtime doing something simple and enjoyable so that our mind and body can rest and, consequently, our spirit can feel more settled. The most important thing is that our downtime is enjoyable. If social media scrolling or watching TV leaves us with negative emotions, then it is advisable to find a simple hobby that leaves us feeling better about ourselves, whether that be reading, crafting, listening to music, etc.
Don’t be afraid to talk to someone. A burden shared is a burden halved, as the saying goes. Telling another soul your concerns, even if they can’t offer much help or advice, can do a lot to take some of the strain off your mind and stop the circulating thoughts.
It’s important not to dwell too hard on setbacks but to be compassionate to ourselves. We are only human, make mistakes, and suffer consequences that aren’t always our fault, but we should try to be kind and forgiving to ourselves. Life can be hard enough, but practicing self-love, self-compassion, and self-forgiveness can go a long way to healing a burdened mind, body, and spirit.
One thing I recommend doing every day is to practice gratitude. Every morning, think of a few things you are grateful for each day, even if it is something small. Thinking of the things we are grateful for can help to settle the heart and lessen the negative thoughts and emotions.
Connecting back to nature can help soothe the mind and spirit. Talking a long walk through a green space, tending to a garden or allotment, sitting and contemplating our outdoor surroundings; it allows the mind to initially think things through, then to wander, and then, as we observe the birds and the bugs and the wind blowing softly through the tree canopies, it allows the mind to become quiet and peaceful eventually.
Some things take time to work, though. Even if today hasn’t been the best day, then that’s ok because tomorrow is another day. And as long as we keep trying to improve ourselves, there is always hope for tomorrow to be a better day. Most importantly, we can pick ourselves up and try again. And even if we falter, try again and again, making incremental improvements until we reach a more stable place. Things don’t always come quickly or easily, but they can improve eventually.
The little plant that struggles so hard to grow in the cracks of a busy road still manages eventually to bloom and set seed for the next generation to live and thrive. Day by day, its changes are incremental; but day by day, it eventually succeeds.
Jade’s recommended resources:
Herbal Academy is a great resource that produces many interesting articles and offers courses in herbal medicine. https://theherbalacademy.com
The School of Evolutionary Herbalism is another favorite resource of mine. They post articles and videos on subjects related to herbalism that isn’t touched upon elsewhere, including alchemy, elemental herbalism, and Astro-herbalism. They also offer courses in these subjects. https://www.evolutionaryherbalism.com/blog/
Alchemist’s Kitchen posts interesting articles on the use of herbs, wellness, recipes, and interviews with herbal business owners. https://wisdom.thealchemistskitchen.com/plants-herbs/
I also recommend both the National Institute of Medical Herbalists (NIMH) and the College of Practitioners of Phytotherapy (CPP) websites for more information on what a medical herbalist is, what we treat, where to find one, and how to become one.
Books I’d recommend for getting into herbalism:
‘Hedgerow Medicine’ by Julie Bruton-Seal and Matthew Seal is beginner-friendly and packed with herbal folklore, history, practical experience, and recipes. In fact, I recommend all of their books, especially ‘Kitchen Medicine’ and ‘Wayside Medicine’.
All of Rosemary Gladstar’s books. ‘Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide’ is an excellent book to start with, featuring a selection of safe herbs to grow and how to turn them into medicines.
‘Herbal Remedies’ by Christopher Hedley and Non-Shaw is another great beginner’s book featuring safe herbs and common kitchen ingredients and instructions on making them into usable remedies.
‘The Herbal Medicine Maker’s Handbook’ by James Green and ‘A Herbal Book of Making and Taking’ by Christopher Hedley and Non-Shaw for detailed instructions and invaluable advice in making herbal preparations.
Plants are an essential part of our daily lives, and when you work with a skilled practitioner like Jade Waterworth, you can use specific herbal remedies to combat any ailment you might be experiencing directly. Learn more about Jade and her work here:
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