Today we have nutritionist and herbalist Lindsay Kluge of Ginger Tonic Botanicals sharing with us her health tips, business advice, Ayurvedic insights, favorite wellness products and more. Hope you’ll enjoy reading this as much as I did!
1. Please tell us a little about yourself and what you do.
I am a lover of plants, organic gardening, holistic health and joyful living. I live in Richmond, VA with my soon-to-be husband, our sweet kitty and perpetual puppy in a city house that we turned into a woodworking and vegetable producing home. I have my herbal medicine business (Ginger Tonic Botanicals) integrated in with an amazing naturopathic clinic, Richmond Natural Medicine, where I work with four licensed naturopathic doctors. I function as the clinical herbalist and licensed nutritionist. I work with people who want to integrate holistic medicine into their every day life (sometimes in combination with their conventional medicine), and I make sure they can do that safely, effectively and naturally. I support the other doctors in the practice by offering nutrition counseling to their patients and also help them with researching botanical medicine and support them in herbal medicine compounding for their patients. I manage and operate our compounding herbal dispensary with over 200 herbs in tea, powder and extract form that the entire practice utilizes to custom compound herbal formulas.
I’m also the Health Coach for an awesome, local health food hub here in Richmond, Ellwood Thompsons, where I offer free weekly health coaching appointments for anyone who wants to come and chat that could not otherwise afford to see a health practitioner. I garden a lot, too (my parter and I are both horticulture junkies). We grow lots of veggies and spend the bulk of our time either gardening and cooking.
2. How did you get into the herbalism and nutrition business? Is it fair to say you take an Ayurvedic approach to your practice? If so, what drew you to Ayurveda?
I have always been fascinated with herbal medicine since childhood, and it was a common go-to in my home growing up. I didn’t realize I could be a “professional herbalist” (aka: do this for a living) until I was nearly done with college. That field was just never presented as a viable option in grade school because herbalists are just so few and far between these days. But once I discovered the Tai Sophia Institute (now known at the Maryland University of Integrative Health). Their herbal medicine masters degree program was just absolutely intriguing and everything I ever wanted to study.
And yes, the herbal medicine program I went through did have a strong undertone in Ayurveda which really speaks to me and carries through in my clinical practice, especially with nutrition. My masters program had a built-in nutrition masters program when I completed it, and Ayurvedic nutrition is profoundly moving to me. It’s just so grounded in traditional use and so tailored to each person.
3. What’s your predominant dosha and what have you found to be the most valuable health and lifestyle choices to keep you balanced?
I’m predominately Vata, with underlying Pitta. I’ve found that maintaining ritual and routine in my day-to-day helps to keep me grounded and stable. I also run really cold!! I love drinking and utilizing my herbal ally Ginger to keep me warm and grounded (especially when I travel!). Ginger tea is just the best.
4. What is your daily health regimen like?
A big part of maintaining health to me is maintaining a sense of joy in (almost) everything I do. My health really suffers when I let stress compound or take on too many things that cause me stress. On a daily basis, I make sure I’m taking time for long, thoughtfully cooked meals, afternoon and morning tea, talking with my friends, colleagues and my family, spending time outside and going for a walk with my dog everyday. When I don’t have time for these things, that’s when my health just falls apart.
5. What have you found to be the most significant yet overlooked health remedies to the constant barrage of stress we’re under as a society? What about the most significant yet overlooked remedies for digestive issues?
I’ll be honest – half of my job as an herbalist is actually to give people nothing sometimes – other than the firm request that they take some time off and go on a vacation. I think the biggest overlooked health remedy is to just disconnect for a while. Being on call, on the go and just ON all the time is so detrimental to the health of most people. It’s exhausting and leads to excessive stress. It’s amazing how much the body can right itself when given a calm environment and time to decompress. I can give people all the adaptogenic herbs in the world to help with stress, but sometimes if the causative factors are not remedied or addressed, the body will continually suffer and break down.
One of my favorite digestive remedies that seems to surprise folks is Slippery Elm. Most people have never heard of this native tree/herb! It’s no nutritive and soothing to the digestive system and great for all ages – kids to the elderly. The mucilaginous quality of slippery elm powder really coats and soothes inflamed tissues in the digestive tract from the bowel all the way to the throat!
Banyan Botanicals Healthy Hair Oil is my weekly go-to. I use this probably three times week and just love it. I also love Evan Healy facial products (especially their hydrosols), and Badger hand salves.7. Favorite tea/tea blends or health drinks?
I’ll be honest and say I’m totally biased towards my own herbal tea blends which are so close to my heart (and I use every day!). And I also just LOVE Gaia herbs bronchial wellness tea too! I’m a big, big fan of Barefoot Bucha which is made nearby in Charlottesville, VA. This is hands down the best kombucha ever!
8. Do you have any natural beauty/health/nutrition/herbalism books that you love?
Oh my gosh yes. I LOVE reading from other herbalists including Rosemary Gladstar, Dr. Jim Duke and James Green. I’m also an avid reader of Maya Tiwari and Dr. Vasant Lad
9. Where do you hope to take Ginger Tonic Botanicals in the future?
My overarching goal is to expand the field of herbal medicine for future herbalists. I’m constantly working towards bringing herbal medicine into the professional, mainstream world of western medicine. Of course, these are two very different methods of medicine, but I believe [they] could be utilized effectively together when enough research, information and competent practitioners are in line to offer this. My true love is grassroots herbalism, kitchen apothecaries and traditional holistic community herbal medicine. And I’m also trained in the science and clinical application of herbs for therapeutic use. I want to help bridge the gap between keeping herbs in the kitchen [as] a fun little hobby, with the clinical application of herbal medicine for legitimate use for things like cancer support and autoimmune disorders and preventative medicine.
10. Any business advice to readers who are trying to launch their own small, wellness-related business?
Reach out into your community and get to know your “competition” (which I would consider your friends and allies). There is room for everyone in this field of medicine who is good at their job and passionate about their their work and has a desire be integrated in this community. We all have a lot to offer and to learn from one another. Personally, I found my biggest growth as an herbalist and as a business was to join a smaller practice and work within a small group where we can all learn from one another and support one another towards the shared goal of our clients’ best health. Sometimes being a lone ship works really well for businesses, and sometimes partnering up (with people you love, respect and support) can be a great idea too!
Always keep your authentic voice. Share what your best skills are – even if you think they’re too outlandish, complicated or simple! So many people I talk with never want to authentically share what they have to offer because they feel like “there’s too much competition”. People will gravitate towards your authentic and personal voice more than just a popular recipe or product. If they develop trust in you as a person, they’ll likely develop trust in your products and information. Also – and this is big for me – keep it legit. There is a TON of just inaccurate, poorly researched “holistic” health information out there that just hops on whatever bandwagon is passing through. If you’re on board with delivering health information, make sure it’s researched, well grounded in science or traditional use and keep it truthful. If your product is awesome, it will speak for itself!