Herbal remedies: Randi Embree shares her passion for plants

December 2012 Posted in People, Your Health
Randi Embree prepares a mixture.

Randi Embree prepares a mixture.

By P. Milliren

Silverton resident Randi Embree sometimes feels like a crazy old woman “dragging people around showing them weeds.”

Five days a week, she is the manager of a nonprofit tax policy organization.

On Sundays, she teaches people how to make medicines from wild plants.

Embree started using herbs 40 years ago when she was a teenager. Herbalism dates before written history, and the Scripture talks about using plants and herbs.

“Herbalism is not yet the norm in this country. In the rest of the world, it is an accepted part of medicine, but it is not as evolved here and sometimes met with suspicion,” Embree said.

Working with herbs is a passion for Embree. When she andher family moved to a Silverton Century Farm in 1991, she knew many of the plants which were on her land had to have been used for herbal medicine.

“There was a seven mile bumpy road to the closest doctor at the time this farm was originated, these plants are not native to our area, so they had no other business being on the land other than being a pharmacy for whomever lived here before us,” Embree said.

She took classes and learned about using herbs from other herbalists. She attended Australiasia, a yearlong herbal study class.

“I figured taking the herbal classes would get it out of my system and instead it got worse, I wanted to learn more,” she said.

Embree said worldwide that 90 percent of medicine is given by women who care for their families at home.

“We in the United States have gotten away from that. There are simple things which can be done at home which will keep money in the household for other things such as groceries or the house payment,” Embree said. “Plus, now that there is more affordable health care, there still is not enough care providers. You do not always need a physician for a tummy ache, earache or mild cough. The more people can care for themselves; it will free the overworked physicians for larger issues. Save the big medicine for those who really need it. Even a cup of chamomile tea can work wonders for stomachache or garlic oil infused in olive oil for earaches. Recently there have been multiple pharmaceutical medicine shortages as well.”

Walking on a trail by Silver Creek, Embree points out useful plants here and there.

“It depends on the plant what I do with it. Some plant parts get dried, others made into tinctures or otherwise preserved for when they are needed. Like nettles are good for hay fever, for several seasons my husband took nettle and now he is barely affected by it,” Embree said. “One of my current favorites is hawthorn which grows as a scrub tree. I use it as a preventative medicine for my heart. I blend the hawthorn with peppermint and yarrow.

Herbs have to be harvested in their season. Some parts like leaves and flowers are often

harvested in the spring and others like roots and bark in the autumn. I will be collecting rosehips very soon. I dry the rosehips and use them because they are high in vitamin C.”

Another plant that Embree uses is the state flower, the Oregon grape. Embree states parts of it can be used for a microbiological powder antiseptic for skin. Other parts of it can be useful for stomach conditions and stomach disorders. Some people consider Himalayan Blackberry a nuisance, but it is not only just edible as a berry, but all parts of the plant can be used. Embree says it is often it is used as an effective astringent and anti-diarrhea. As Embree finds some Saint Johns Worth growing along the trail, she says it is now becoming widely uses as an antidepressant in Europe and she also blends the flower for massage oil.

“A lot of herbal medicine is common sense and we are in danger of losing our human knowledge, traditional ways and herbal history,” Embree says. “I have herbal study groups which meet almost every Sunday here at the family farm. We have a cozy spot to meet and we have access to 88 acres on the farm with cultivated and wild plants. It is a great way to share the ambiance of our farm too. I wanted people to have fun using herbs for food, comfort, conversation and simply have messy, free fun.”

“It is a delight to share the farm, herbs and the joy in our lives in this way,” Embree said.

For information she can be reached at  silvermoonapothecary.com.

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