Nearly a year ago Tiffany and I connected first on Twitter, and what followed was a steady correspondence about all things aromatherapy, herbalism and just chats about every day stuff. We talked a lot about her books, The Art of Herbalism and The Craft of Herbalism, which, at that time, were the first editions, and I reviewed The Art of Herbalism, an excellent guide on medicinal herbs, formulas and procedures. I also received The Craft of Herbalism, but waited with a review until expanded edition was published as during summer, Tiffany was busy writing expanded editions of both The Art of Herbalism and The Craft of Herbalism; for the later I wrote a review a while ago. Readers of Nature of Europe have probably noticed that I am a big fan of both books, and grateful to call Tiffany my friend.
Soon after expanded editions were published, they became best sellers with 5 star reviews on many bookstores and sites, including, of course, Nature of Europe! Given the volume of knowledge in both books, I was not surprised that aspiring as well as seasoned herbalists recognized both books as valuable source of information on properties of herbs and how to use them for our health’s benefit.
Tiffany M. Psichopaidas is a certified Clinical Master Herbalist, who has over twenty years of experience in the field. Aside from being a published author of best selling books, she also writes for various publications and has a private practice as an herbalist.
Passionate about herbalism and well being of people, Tiffany is a graceful, elegant and lovely soul. Always having handy a kind word, her up-beat, optimistic and perky personality radiates both in her professional as well as personal world. We’ve talked about conducting an interview for quite some time, and I thought I had to really give it my best shot. I treated this interview as a delicate Damascus rose, out of which I had to extract as much knowledge as possible; it’s not every day you get to interview someone who can offer as much knowledge in the field I am so interested in – aromatherapy, herbalism and making your own herbal medicine and beauty products – as Tiffany can. I am honored and thankful to Tiffany for this interview. So, today I kindly invite you all to grab a cup of hot infusion and read the – if you don’t mind me saying – an in-depth, thought-provoking, amazing interview with Tiffany!
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Nature of Europe: Hi Tiffany! Welcome and thank you for taking the time to have a little chat with Nature of Europe. How are you and what are you up to these days?
Tiffany M. Psichopaidas: Hi! Thanks for taking the time to chat with me! All is well here – just settling into Winter and making plans for Spring planting and medicine-making…
Nature of Europe: Let’s go back a bit. How did you start your herbalism journey? Most people turn (back) to Mother Nature after having a profound occurrence in their lives, which made them re-evaluate their lives. If I may interject my personal experience, which ultimately led me to creating Nature of Europe, I, too, had medical reasons for leaning on Mother Nature and switching to natural organic cosmetics. I had a surgical procedure under arms due to synthetic antiperspirants and never ending problems with skin due to conventional synthetic skin care and make up products. What was your turning point in life, which led you to Mother Nature and developing this massive folder of herbalist medicine knowledge?
Tiffany M. Psichopaidas: Good question and observation! I began my serious journey in to using plant medicine when I was diagnosed with my first auto-immune disease over a decade ago. Before that, I had always had a keen interest in plants and their medicinal applications, but suddenly, my hobby had to develop into a course of action to facilitate my own healing. I began to combine conventional medications with herbal medicine as well as other healing modalities (yoga, meditation, earthing, etc.) and achieved significant improvement. As the years passed, I changed doctors numerous times due to their retirement, moving, etc. and each new doctor simply picked up where the previous one had left off; until I began seeing one who decided to do all new blood work to get a completely fresh picture of my situation. We were both astounded when it appeared that my initial diagnosis was incorrect! I was not producing any antibodies, and it looked as though I had been misdiagnosed from the beginning. Long story short, I now had my life back and had to answer the question of what did I plan to do with it? Feeling as though I had received a “second chance,” my answer was to try to help other people. I returned to school and became certified as a Clinical Master Herbalist and also as a Holistic Wellness Professional. (I realized that although I already much of the knowledge, I needed the proper documentation to inspire confidence in others!) While I was acquiring the formal certifications, I allowed my healthy lifestyle to fall by the wayside, as I completed assignments and developed the outlines for my books. Another visit to the doctor for follow-up testing revealed that I did, in fact, have antibodies present and my initial diagnosis was correct. Not a good day. Approximately three feeling-sorry-for-myself days later, I came to the realization that I was actually on to something big. I had improved my health to the point where my disease was no longer detectable, as evidenced by the fact that once I had stopped my own protocol, it returned in full force. So all was not in vain! I used my new/old diagnosis to spur me on even more! How lucky are we that Mother Nature is always there, just waiting for us to return to her?
I like to think of conventional medicine as the alternative.
Nature of Europe: In your book, The Art of Herbalism, you speak of conventional medicine having roots in the plant kingdom. For instance, salicylic acid is found in Willow tree, whereas synthetic salicylic acid – acetyl-salicylic acid- is known as aspirin. Same goes for fragrances, found in conventional cosmetic products (perfume, skincare, body care etc.) Synthetic ingredients are cheaper, made in large batches. How does a synthetic ingredient, a synthetic copy of a natural ingredient compare to natural ingredient, especially in terms of effects it has on our health?
Tiffany M. Psichopaidas: There is no healthy comparison! Synthetic ingredients can be appealing because they sometimes work to alleviate a problem faster, or they’re cheaper to purchase, easier to obtain, or even owning an expensive synthetic product is a form of status. They can appeal to our vanity in a variety of ways. But synthetics have no synergism. Natural ingredients are perfectly made and all of their constituents are masterfully designed to work together harmoniously. When you select a particular herb or essential oil, and combine it with another, you increase this synergism. You magnify their positive healing benefits. (Of course, it’s important to look at all the constituents because even natural ingredients have effects that we may not want in a particular health concern or situation.) When you mix one synthetic with another, you’re not achieving anything greater in terms of health. What you may be doing is actually increasing your exposure to toxins. Approximately 60% of what we apply to our skin enters the bloodstream, so I strive for all-natural products, every time!
Natural ingredients are perfectly made and all of their constituents are masterfully designed to work together harmoniously.
Nature of Europe: Herbalism is addressed as alternative medicine. Before Big Pharma, there was no alternative – but – herbal medicine.
Tiffany M. Psichopaidas: I like to think of conventional medicine as the alternative.
Nature of Europe: I’d like to make a clear distinction for those, who claim that so called alternative medicine (such as herbalism, as well as natural organic beauty products, as some claim they are not up to par with, mostly, expensive brand products) is a fraud; especially compared to mainstream scientific, if you will, medicine. I make a clear and strict distinction between modern medicine and pharmaceutical business. Allow me to clarify: if you break your arm, if you’re having a heart attack, if you need a life-saving surgery, you use modern medicine, you go to a doctor; you do not drink chamomile tea and meditate a broken arm or a bullet in your stomach away. However, if you have sleep problems, you don’t (have to) gulp down Big Pharma pills, but, as you suggest in your book The Craft of Herbalism, use lemon balm leaves and chamomile hot infusion. Likewise, if your baby has a diaper rash, you don’t slap steroids on, but instead create your own natural diaper rash balm. What’s the biggest reason that natural remedies (still) get so much disrespect; misinformed and uninformed public, Big Pharma’s fear of losing the monopoly and money, some other, more nefarious agenda, or all together?
Tiffany M. Psichopaidas: The market for medicinal herbs is estimated at more than $3 billion dollars. Prescription drug sales totaled more than $320 billion dollars in 2011. This shows that while herbal medicines are still lagging in the mainstream, they do hold a recognized place. Big Pharma has acknowledged this fact and is hurrying to patent countless natural remedies. More and more, herbal remedies are finding their way into mainstream society via large companies and slick packaging and promotion. While this may seem to be a wonderful stride in gaining acceptance and understanding of their healing abilities, there is a serious downside. Commercial exploitation has led to traditional medicines becoming unavailable to the indigenous peoples that have relied on them for centuries. Bio-piracy is a term that has been coined for the practice of private companies patenting traditional medicines from the wild and then selling them at a vast profit. These companies often don’t allow any of their profits to return to the country of origin or indigenous or local communities of origin. Indigenous peoples and local communities can actually be prevented from using a remedy that they developed and used for centuries due to the patenting! Plant habitats are also being destroyed faster than scientists can investigate them. So sometimes, a little disrespect can actually be a good thing…
Bio-piracy is a term that has been coined for the practice of private companies patenting traditional medicines from the wild and then selling them at a vast profit.
For smaller companies and individuals, there seems to be disrespect that stems from a misinformed or uninformed public, their fear of something “new” (even though plant medicine is the earliest form of medicine and is embraced by every culture and ethnicity on the planet!) and/or the stigma that creating your own remedies and beauty products means you’re a little crazy, or even not very well-off! I think society seems to define normalcy and success as something quite different than what the “typical” Herbalist (if there is a typical Herbalist) would define them as. Like I mentioned earlier, some people really like being seen with their fancy mass-produced products. And that’s fine, to each their own. Mother Nature will be here if they decide to investigate her offerings eventually. On the other hand, some people go a bit too overboard in their quest for all things natural. I use all natural as much as I can, but sometimes, out of convenience, or let’s call it what it is: laziness, or a recognition that my situation requires conventional remedies, I use those! (In treating my auto-immune disease, I rely on both.) There can be a healthy balance between the two – they don’t need to be at odds with each other. There’s a balance to Nature, and we can balance our natural and conventional lives, too. It doesn’t have to be “either, or.” I’ve come to realize that disrespect (in every circumstance) generally comes from fear, jealousy, or being misinformed. When you’re comfortable with what you’re doing and where you’re at, you realize that the disrespect says more about the source dispensing it than it says about you. But maybe I’m just crazy!
Synthetic ingredients can be appealing because they sometimes work to alleviate a problem faster, or they’re cheaper to purchase, easier to obtain, or even owning an expensive synthetic product is a form of status.
Nature of Europe: If I piggyback to my previous thought. We’re hearing more and more about governments stepping in and regulating certain natural remedies; hemp seed oil is probably most famous for being “persecuted”, and with essential oils being next in line.
Tiffany M. Psichopaidas: Yes, that’s becoming quite an issue! One solution is to learn to grow and make medicine from your own garden. Another is to get involved with organizations (or form your own) to add your voice to the cause. I regularly correspond with my state’s government leaders to share and exchange information and have my voice heard. It has been a very positive experience.
Nature of Europe: One issue I’ve been thinking for the past few years, and then came across in The Art of Herbalism: responsible herbalism. More and more people are using herbal medicine as opposed to pharmaceutical ones. And more and more people are using natural organic cosmetics. While I am encouraging and promoting natural beauty products, I can’t help but wonder: there’s only that many roses (or tea trees, karite trees), for example, yet, with consumers of beauty products being more and more informed and thus switching to natural organic cosmetics, how do you see the balance between the needs of consumers and the ability of Mother Nature to produce enough? You talk in The Art of Herbalism about growing our own herbs, but sometimes, that may not be feasible.
Tiffany M. Psichopaidas: I touched on that in a previous question, and I’m happy to see you’ve brought it up here. I think the next best solution to growing your own plants, is to source out a responsible company to purchase from. There are some excellent companies out there who practice sustainable harvesting techniques in that they are committed to re-stocking and re-seeding native plant populations, Your source should also be anti-GMO, strictly organic purveyors, and their business philosophy should be one of sustainability and responsibility of, and for, our plants and people. It isn’t always possible to grow everything we need and want, but the satisfaction that comes from growing even one herb in a container is tremendous! There’s something really satisfying (on many different levels) about growing your very own plants to harvest them, and then crafting them into something really healthy and beneficial. Maybe you can try to grow one or more, and purchase the rest that you need. There’s nothing wrong with that!
It isn’t always possible to grow everything we need and want, but the satisfaction that comes from growing even one herb in a container is tremendous!
Nature of Europe: Learning about herbs, their properties and benefits is not something that happens over night; it’s not just about using the herbs for all their beneficial properties, but also about the fact that they are medicine and can and do have some side effects as well; some even very dangerous side effects such as an abortion. How do you propose an aspiring herbalist approach his/her journey into herbalism?
Tiffany M. Psichopaidas: Read everything that you can get your hands on! (I know of two helpful books…) Seriously, reading is a great start. If you can, sign up for some classes. Start growing some plants and then try your hand at making some simple yet effective remedies like infusions and decoctions, or tinctures and glycerites. Using herbs in the bath is another fun way to get started. Just remember to always, always use the proper part of the plant, read up on every action that the plant has, be aware of any potential interactions with other medicines you may be taking, and be aware of any contraindications and/or side effects. Go slowly, learn as much as you can, and then keep learning! There’s a lot to practicing herbal medicine – the education really never ends!
Each plant has specific parts that are safe, while other parts of the same plant may be poisonous.
Nature of Europe: Not too long ago, a topic for weekly Twitter #greenchat was DIY. We talked about which beauty products we’re making ourselves. In The Craft of Herbalism you offer many recipes for making natural beauty products at home. Which beauty products are you making at home and which ingredients do you mostly use?
Tiffany M. Psichopaidas: I make my own liquid hand soap and also travel sanitizer, shampoo, hair spray, face and body creams, facial masks, exfoliating scrubs, lip balms, powders, deodorant, you name it! Everything that’s in The Craft of Herbalism is somewhere in my house! My main ingredients are distilled water, coconut oil, grape seed oil, raw honey, beeswax, a ton of herbs, essential oils… Very few cabinet doors actually close all the way! I have a profusion of glass jars and lids, lip balm tubes, containers of various sizes, cheesecloth, cutting shears… Herbalism really takes over your life!
Nature of Europe: As someone, who closely follows natural organic beauty industry and the fact that’s becoming (more) mainstream (and at this point in time, I am not so sure that’s good anymore) I am seeing new brands popping up almost daily (and closing down as well, for various reasons). While for a faithful user of natural organic beauty products this is exciting, trying new brands, new products, I can’t help but noticing the (expected) bandwagon effect, mostly in terms of quickly cashing in. There are many honest natural organic beauty brands, which started small, in a founder’s kitchen, on the other hand, I know there are brands that are created by, for example, companies providing private label type of business. So, my pondering question is one you and I talked about many times before: the natural beauty industry surely could use someone with your knowledge and expertise, as well as honesty, to create a new natural beauty brand, hehe.
Tiffany M. Psichopaidas: I did own and operate a very small company a few years back called Wonderland Herbal, LLC. I devoted all of my time, energy, and efforts into it, but sadly, the downturn in the economy forced me to close the doors on that endeavor. I must say that it was a dream come true for me to formulate and create my products, and I haven’t lost that passion! You just may see a return to that end of the business in my future… I think about it almost daily! (I do appreciate your kind compliments, by the way. Thank you!)
Nature of Europe: You’ve just published new, expanded editions of The Art of Herbalism and The Craft of Herbalism, both containing even more information and recipes than the previous ones. With as much knowledge as you have about herbalism and obvious passion and dedication to persuade people to turn to Mother Nature for health, it’s no wonder you’re already writing a third book, called “The Practice of Essential Oils & Aromatherapy”. I am already saying, in advance, that I am excited and looking forward to the release of this book, as I am a big fan of essential oils, whether found in the beauty products I buy or when using them when making my own.
Tiffany M. Psichopaidas: To be honest, I was so eager to see my work “out there” that I really released the initial versions of my books way too soon. The information in them is accurate, but the new versions go into far greater detail and I think they provide a much better introduction to herbal medicine, and they also serve as solid and reliable references for those who have been practicing herbal medicine for years. I’ve learned to take my time and not rush things! The final book in the series, as you mentioned, The Practice of Essential Oils & Aromatherapy will really round out the collection. My goal was to write books that could be used to quickly and easily find what you need, offer well-researched and sound information, and offer specific formulas and recipes, while enabling the reader with the skills, knowledge, and confidence they need to create their own versions of everything they like.
Nature of Europe: Given the volume of both, The Art of Herbalism and The Craft of Herbalism, along with the new book you’re already writing, you already have planned 8 more books on holistic healing. Goodness gracious! On what… herbs are you on, Tiffany?
Tiffany M. Psichopaidas: Ha! I never said how long it was going to take me…
Nature of Europe: Well, writing excellent books is not the only thing you do. You also offer holistic consultation services. Tell us a bit about this.
Tiffany M. Psichopaidas: My consultation services are an off-shoot of my business from Wonderland Herbal. Many of my shop’s clients had no experience in using herbs as medicine and had an abundance of questions that couldn’t be answered without a lot of background information which included their complete health history. I began offering consultation services because, while there are countless remedies available to purchase, if you really want to achieve the maximum benefits from plant medicine, you have to dig deeper.
Holistic Wellness is a total approach to achieving optimum wellness and healing for the body, mind, and spirit. It takes careful evaluation and planning by me, and commitment and dedication by my clients.
I utilize the following methods in my consultations: herbal medicine, essential oils, aromatherapy, flower essences, homeopathy, EFT, applied kinesiology, earthing, yoga, and nutritional supplements. Many people who are new to natural healing modalities aren’t aware that it, and especially Herbalism, is not a “take this for that” system of medicine. It goes deeper to identify the root of the problem and it seeks to provide real healing on every level. By incorporating a variety of healing methods, in conjunction with herbs, and sometimes with conventional medicines, we can often find lasting solutions to many health concerns. Holistic Wellness is a total approach to achieving optimum wellness and healing for the body, mind, and spirit. It takes careful evaluation and planning by me, and commitment and dedication by my clients.
The practice of Herbalism is not a “take this for that” system of medicine.
Nature of Europe: You’re also involved in holding seminars, where you’re educating listeners on the health benefits of herbalism. I’d wager such seminars are quite in contrast with, say, Big Pharma conventions, hehe.
Tiffany M. Psichopaidas: I do participate in speaking engagements, and I love sharing information with those who are genuinely interested in the subject of plant medicine! My perspective on healing is unique, and I believe, inspirational, because of my own issues. So that is one area where Big Pharma and I differ – they’re about the bottom line and I have a passion for this. But I always remind everyone that natural medicine and conventional medicine can and do work together. Can’t we all just get along!?
Nature of Europe: In The Art of Herbalism you mention a practice of herbalism being passed down to the next generation of Keepers of the Green. Where do you see, let’s call it a movement, of (re)turning back to Mother Nature as far as medicine and beauty products (as well as other aspects, such as food etc) going?
Tiffany M. Psichopaidas: I see things steadily heading in the right direction. There are always going to be opposing viewpoints, and large companies who care nothing about the quality of life for the people they claim to serve, but what has in the past been a quiet minority is quickening their pace, and making sure their voices are heard. The natural movement is growing by leaps and bounds every day. We hear more and more about the benefits of organic foods, the benefits from natural beauty products, and natural medicines are the logical next step for anyone embarking on a quest to become healthier. I think that, even a few short years ago, it was perceived that herbal medicine was just simple folk medicine practiced by hippies and people following the New Age movement. It’s not. It’s a scientifically proven form of medicine that crosses all cultural boundaries, ethnic groups. religions, political beliefs, etc. Thankfully, we have access not only to the tried-and-true remedies passed down through generations, but we have research study results pouring forth almost daily proving the efficacy of plant medicine. To quote The Art of Herbalism, “It cannot be denied that the art of Herbalism provides an effective system of healing that is readily available and affordable to all who choose to learn its secrets and incorporate them into their lives. Indeed, if we live quietly in the moment, appreciating and learning all we can about the beauty that lies before us, we can co-exist with the plant kingdom and be assured that the practice of Herbalism will continue to grow.”
Indeed, if we live quietly in the moment, appreciating and learning all we can about the beauty that lies before us, we can co-exist with the Plant Kingdom and be assured that the practice of Herbalism will continue to grow and be passed down to the next generation of Keepers of the Green.
Nature of Europe: Thank you, Tiffany, for sharing your thoughts with readers of Nature of Europe, as well as for being a friend of Nature of Europe. Wishing you much personal and professional success!
Tiffany M. Psichopaidas: Thank you! I thoroughly enjoyed this! It was an honor to be interviewed by you and I wish you the best of everything in this wonderful new year!
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How did you like the interview? Did it inspire you to look deeper into issues of conventional medicine and maybe, perhaps learn more about making your own herbal medicine and beauty products? What did you think about natural ingredients working together in synergy as opposed to synthetic ones? Were you aware of Big Pharma patenting natural remedies and the ramifications of this? Which part of the interview really stood out for you and made you think? Let us know what you think in the comments!
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How you can connect with Tiffany:
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In case you’ve missed:
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– The Craft of Herbalism (Amazon)
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