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Consequential Plants

Natural prescriptions for better health

By Manning Lee

Photos by Pamela L. Cowart-Rickman

Stress — whether environmental, nutritional, lifestyle choices ­— wreaks havoc on the mind, body, and soul. When we allow ourselves to succumb to stressors, we deplete our bodies of their natural ability to heal themselves. Running to local drug stores to find our temporary fixes hides underlying health issues. When people can’t fix their own medical problems, they often grow much worse.

There is a reset button we can hit. When we do, it helps us heal in ways that require no surgeries, multiple doctors, or medical debt. When we do reset our bodies back to their original factory settings, it allows us to unlearn old ways of thinking. The result is balance, peace, and wellness.

Deborah Mizeur and Krista Lamareaux of Herbal Alchemy in Chestertown met years ago through their work on Capitol Hill with former Congressman Pete Stark. Their friendship began over their mutual love of Italian culture. In seeking careers of consequence and meaning, both left the Hill and earned their graduate degrees in a program at the Maryland University of Integrative Health (MUIH). Their work together at their Herbal Alchemy apothecary in Chestertown is an outpouring of the disciplines and sciences they lived and learned along the way.

Their Approach

“When a person’s natural inclination leads them to our door, Herbal Alchemy’s approach to healing is a wonderful place to start. We come in when people find something is a little more complicated than what they can take care of by themselves, or when they are looking to complement the treatments they are receiving from western doctors,” explained Mizeur.

“As a licensed nutritionist, I’m qualified to develop nutritional recommendations for people with specific medical diagnoses. Although I am able to request specific lab tests for the purpose of determining nutritional sensitivities, we find that people respond to our protocols based on changing diets and adding supplementation or working with specific herbal formulas,” Mizeur continued.

Once a client enrolls in the program, they complete a comprehensive health history followed by an in-depth consultation to gain deeper insights into environmental, lifestyle, and nutritional factors influencing health. From this consultation, Herbal Alchemy will develop a personalized plan that gives the patient tools to achieve goals. During the time of implementation and support, patients meet with the practitioner one or two times a month for around three months. At the end of this time, they make new assessments to determine success or the need for further treatment.

Alchemy in Action

Last year, Herbal Alchemy’s extensive intake process proved life-changing for one patient who had received several lab tests from different physicians over the course of 18 months, but none had taken the time to review and compare the tests. Mizeur added, “When I started to look into her case, I put the pieces together and noticed she had some indications of pre-diabetes. I encouraged her to speak with her primary care provider, who confirmed my assessment. I developed nutritional and lifestyle interventions for her and four months later her updated blood work showed that her condition was reversed. During this time, she was also able to reduce or eliminate several of the pharmaceutical drugs she was taking.”

One of the teachers at MUIH named Dr. Duke was a respected researcher for the USDA. He researched plants and how many chemicals they have and determined that ginger/turmeric has 5000 phytochemicals that can be measured. He asserted that the number could triple as measurement techniques improve. He also surmised that most culinary herbs are the same.

“Different bodies need different chemicals to operate and pull specific chemicals from plants that they need. When the body digests foods, it recognizes its own need. The plant serves as food, nutrition, as well as medicine all in one serving. When the source of nutrition from the plants replaces the missing nutrients, it retrains the body on how to operate at its original factory settings. There is a beautiful, magical combination that happens when plants help the body remember how to function properly,” Lamoreaux said.

Words as Chemicals and What We Believe About Ourselves

“The words we speak to ourselves are drugs that create a chemical reaction in our bodies based on our perspective of the world. Whether we feel safe or connected or if we feel anxious and separate, looking into the narrative of how people speak to themselves and how they interact with the world has a lot to do with their ability to receive nutritious food,” said Mizeur.

“Anxiety is a broad term. When someone says, ‘I have anxiety.’ We have to ask them, ‘What does that mean to you? How does it show up for you? What do you experience in your body when you have anxiety?’ Science shows us that the physical expression of anxiety, or what people call anxiety, is similar to excitement. Just shifting the word from ‘I have anxiety’ to ‘I am excited’ changes the physiology of the word. When they recognize and tell themselves about their excitement, they do better on tests, karaoke and are better speakers,” quipped Lamoreaux.

The People’s Medicine

Mizeur and Lamoreaux always believed in using herbs and plants that are local, regional, what stays in season, what is available, and what is close. It is difficult for them to source many herbs. When COVID arrived, they had a terrible time sourcing herbs to supply for their apothecary. “We asked ourselves whether we were farmers, in addition to being herbalists and clinicians? We decided out of necessity that in fact, we did need to start a garden,” explained Lamoreaux.

The two women put together something they call “Community Supported Herbal Medicine” where they grow between 50 to 60 medicinal herbs each summer. They invite the community to participate financially, but it’s the most beneficial when the community members help in the garden, getting their hands dirty.

In return for community support, Herbal Alchemy gives the members plants several times during the season to make any number of medicines or to turn them into salves for anti-inflammatory treatments. As an example, they grow St. John’s Wort to make a lotion that helps nerve pain and shingles, among dozens of other uses.

Mizeur and Lamoreaux are plant and herbal ambassadors, teaching and leading their community to learn more about the true value of plants as medicine. They desire to return the keys to our health and wellness back into the hands of the people through education and hands-on experience.


Herbal Alchemy

10989 Augustine Herman Highway

Chestertown, Maryland, 21620

Website: www.herbalalchemy.me

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