For this evening’s North Country Herb Guild Meeting, Carolyn Smith will present a topic she researched for her masters degree thesis — what we can learn about our unconscious attitudes and thought patterns when we become aware of the automatic language we use on a daily basis. The topic will explore how we rely heavily on a war/military metaphor to understand immunity, disease, and medicine and how awareness of this allows us to understand the cognitive obstacles that inhibit understanding of our bodies, systems of medical treatment and our relationship to the larger environment as well. This language has been challenged by critics but still remains largely unchanged in public conception, which reflects a deep and violent thought paradigm and might impose some potentially negative limitations on how we might better behave in relationship to our own health as well as the natural environment. We will take a light look at the physiology of the immune system to question how well suited these metaphors are, and look at a few plants as well to find some clues as to how we might think more carefully when choosing our words.
Carolyn Smith has been a student of herbal medicine for just over 10 years. Brought up in St. Paul, MN, with relatively little exposure to alternative healthcare, she began developing an awareness of plants and their medicinal value through classes with herbalist, Lise Wolff. She completed Lise’s Three Seasons Herbal Intensive in 2010, and spent time as Lise’s apprentice for several years. Working closely with Lise, Carolyn has learned: the power of subtle small doses of plants for healing; the use of local abundant plants for medicine; the value of carefully listening to people and their pulse to hear what they need; and listening to plants to learn what they do. Through this mentorship she has established her own practice and has been doing herbal consultations with clients for 6 years. For 6 months over the summer of 2017 Carolyn worked as the full time intern at Red Clover Herbal Apothecary in Amery Wisconsin, founded and run by herbalist and herb farmer Nancy Graden, where she assisted with growing, cultivating and making plant medicine from the organic 3 acre farm. Carolyn has also worked several years in retail with natural health care products at Whole Foods and Mastel’s Health Foods in St. Paul. She completed a 10 week intensive internship at HerbPharm during the summer of 2013, working on their organic farm in Williams, Oregon, cultivating medicinal plants and studying with a variety of herbalists, naturopaths, and herb farmers while there. She has studied with Martin Bulgerin (of BioPsciences Institute) on Flower Essences, taken classes with Matthew Wood, and studied ethnobotany, ethnopharmacology, and traditional plant usage in Hawaii with Kathleen Harrison, Dennis McKenna and Momi Subiono. She earned a Masters of Liberal Studies in Spring 2013 through the University of MN, incorporating classes from the Center for Spirituality and Healing into a thesis which focused on changing paradigms of body and healing metaphors through looking at alternative medicine.