For over a decade, Larry and Linnea Wardwell have had one main goal: to bring high-quality herbal medicine into practice. The annual Medicines from the Earth Herb Symposium 2017, planned for the Blue Ridge Assembly in Black Mountain Friday to Sunday, June 2-4, does just that, says Linnea Wardwell.
The symposium, which began when the owner of Gaia Herbs asked Wardwell to produce the event in 1993, offers a range of classes, events and continuing education. It brings together the herbal community, says Wardwell, which can sometimes be as powerful as the workshops. “Blue Ridge Assembly in Black Mountain is beautiful,” she adds. “The running water, the quiet space, the connection between participants — we find it all extremely inspiring.”
Local herbalists are an integral part of the experience, Wardwell notes, such as Doug Elliot, who is guiding an herb walk to instruct participants in practical uses, scientific information and cultural knowledge of the area’s many useful wild plants.
Participants have the opportunity to listen to lectures, watch demonstrations, explore the Blue Ridge Mountains and connect with others interested in herbal remedies. “There is something generated that is larger than just getting people together for information. There is a feeling of whole group consciousness of joy and love. You don’t have to be a practitioner. If you get tired of listening to lectures, you go out into the woods with Doug Elliot or David Winston,” says Wardwell.
An herbalist, explains Wardwell, finds ways to restore health that are noninvasive and nontoxic. “That is our passion,” says Wardwell, an herbalist who grew up using herbal remedies with her mother and grandmother. She notes that practitioners at the symposium have said how grateful they were for the information they now use with their clients. She notes that in past years there were primarily “folk” herbalists, but now their niche is taking information to health care practitioners for patients with chronic diseases.
Pharmacists and nurses frequently attend the symposium, says Wardwell, because they often get the most questions about how to use certain herbs with their prescriptions. “People can be bombarded by others saying, ‘You should do this, you should take this drug or shouldn’t take this herb,'” she notes. “You can connect with someone who utilizes herbs in the process to mitigate side effects of something like chemotherapy.”
And the symposium is not just for those living off the grid, continues Wardwell; quite a few medical doctors attend every year, and they are trying to learn how to navigate a new demand for alternative medicine. She says she hopes in the future there won’t be a boundary line between traditional and alternative medicine, but right now it is quite strong.
“There is an entire segment of the medical population that are being challenged by patients that are wanting alternatives to opioids,” says Wardwell. “Though the medical system is great at heroics like a bad accident or a crisis like a heart attack (and there is no system greater than the Western medical model for that), the issue … with the Western model is with chronic disease and autoimmune disease, which is presenting itself much more. Natural medicine and herbal medicine can really excel because it treats the whole person, not just the disease.”
WHAT: Medicines from the Earth Herb Symposium 2017
WHERE: Blue Ridge Assembly, 84 Blue Ridge Circle, Black Mountain
WHEN: Friday, June 2, to Sunday, June 4
COST: $399 by June 1, $420 at the door