Before western medicine was the norm, we relied on nature to heal our ailments and, in most cases, took a preventative approach. And prior to the dawn of Instagram herbalism or online herbal education, archaeological evidence indicated that humans were using medicinal plants during the Paleolithic, approximately 60,000 years ago!
That said, currently, herbalism has come full circle, with many ancient recipes and traditions being utilized today. So we spoke to someone who practices herbalism firsthand. Meet Rachelle Robinett, a clinical herbalist, educator, lifelong naturalist, and the owner of Pharmakon Supernatural, a New York-based company dedicated to modern herbalism education. Rachelle combines holistic herbalism with today’s health science and an understanding of both individual behavior modification and wellness industry zeitgeists to create life-changing remedies for thousands of people every day.
Rachelle spoke to us about her transition into herbalism and her company, Pharmakon Supernatural. She also gave us a few tips and recipes to boost our immune system during the winter months and shared some of her own personal wellness practices that she can’t live without.
How did you find your way into herbalism?
At a certain point in my journey, I realized I was an herbalist. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been seeking a certain truth about the world, about human nature and consciousness, and the experience of reality. I was drawn to the esoteric, psychology, metaphysics, and solitude, which I found in nature, and within myself. After following hundreds of leads and learning-learning-learning, the threads started to weave into a single sort of tapestry that I realized was a story about nature. It was about human nature, the natural world, and the relationship between living beings and life.
At the time, I was starting my private practice and struggling to define my approach. Holistic Health Coach really wasn’t resonating. I realized that what I do, how I live, and the way I work with nature to help others live better is herbalism, which is also to say that herbalism is far more holistic than simply recommending herbs.
How did your line, Supernatural, come about?
Pharmakon Supernatural® is a whole ecosystem at this point, which fits well with the natural work we do! My company first started as an education platform (I’m a writer first and foremost, and it was the era of blogs), a private practice, and a product line. Over the years, it’s grown to include a cafe-apothecary, our line of HRBLS herbal gummies, a curated e-commerce store, on-demand online education, events, content, and more.
At the heart of it, all remains education, though. It’s my way to inspire and inform in order to support people with the education and empowerment they need to navigate health with more confidence and naturally
With the colder months on the horizon, how can we transition our traditional cough and cold remedies to more natural plant-based herbal remedies?
There are so many ways! Consider a humidifier if your space is dry and working with moistening herbs (some are called mucilants), like slippery elm, marshmallow root, chia, flax, and sea moss.
I like immune-supportive solutions that we can use long-term to fortify the system rather than trying to “boost” it when things go down. Astragalus and functional mushrooms are go-to’s for me. Ginger and garlic all winter long, please! (See: This honey-cured garlic recipe and this ginger juice shot recipe). And when we do need acute care, elderberry is classic.
With the Coronavirus still being highly contagious, what are some ways we can support our bodies to recover better from the virus?
COVID can cause really heavy inflammation, which we know is the root of a lot of it. For that, turmeric is excellent. Other great anti-inflammatories are frankincense and myrrh (better together), and amla and Schisandra. Many herbs are anti-inflammatories, so this list is long!
Otherwise, symptoms still vary a lot person-to-person, so it’s based on a more personalized protocol.
What are your thoughts on medicinal mushrooms and how can they help us?
I’m a fan! Functional mushrooms are something I’ve considered as foundational as probiotics and turmeric (two staples that most folks can benefit from). Quality matters, blends work a little differently than individual mushrooms, and I love it all. Broadly, they tend to be phenomenal for immune system function, brain health, and resilience. From there, it becomes more nuanced — for example, reishi is a bit like meditation, whereas cordyceps is excellent for athletic performance enhancement.
How do you personally start your day? Tell us about some of the herbs you take daily and your wellness routine.
I wake up naturally and fill two-quart jugs with filtered water, which is the minimum I’ll drink in a day. With one, I take my morning supplements that evolve over time but currently include: probiotics and fish oil, chasteberry and a licorice blend, l-theanine, and mucuna pruriens.
Then I make a half-herbal coffee with a little MCT oil. Four ounces of coffee is the most I drink and if I feel fully energized before I’ve had it all, I don’t finish.
Consumption-wise, that’s it for my morning. I exercise every day and I intermittent fast until about 11:30 am.
What are some of your top books and other educational recommendations for those wanting to learn more about herbalism?
Firstly I would encourage people to consider which aspect of herbalism they’re interested in. For example, gardening, foraging, growing herbs, medicine-making, clinical practice, history and global perspectives, or different traditions of healing (indigienous, regional, etc.). From there, I like Mountain Rose Herbs’ resources section for finding books, as well as The American Herbalist Guild’s list of member books and free resources.
Where do you get inspiration from in business and in your personal life?
Inspiration comes to me from within, which I believe is also without, and most often when I am in solitude. It’s an experience I consider to be one of being with rather than without.
If you could choose only one product from your line, which one would it be and why?
Our Nerve Less HRBLS gummies. This recipe has supported countless humans through challenging times. It’s one of our firsts, and it’s delicious!