Photos by Beth Kirby of Local Milk
A big part of why I created Elderflower Health was to foster community among up-and-coming and established herbalists, holistic nutritionists, and apothecaries, as well as health nerds and those who are simply curious about what we do and what we love. Today’s post is the first in my Meet the Herbalist series and features Lauren Haynes, the herbalist and creator of Wooden Spoon Herbs in Tennessee. Thanks for giving us a peek into your world, Lauren!
1. Can you describe your work?
I garden, forage, write, teach, and make plant medicines. My line is comprised of teas and tinctures, supplemented with limited edition syrups, vinegars, body care, bitters, and salves, all using the finest native and locally sourced botanical ingredients. By sourcing only from local and regional family-owned farms and wildcrafting my ingredients, I aim to reinvent my herbal supply chain and support small, American medicinal herb farms. It also lends itself to extended creativity – I am always challenged to work with what’s growing around me.
2. Can you tell us some more about Appalachian herbalism?
The Appalachian mountains are among the oldest mountains in the world. Appalachia and the surrounding areas are unique for so many reasons. Foremost, southern Appalachia is a temperate rainforest with unique geographic formations that have helped it maintain plant species extinct elsewhere in the world, such as our eastern woodland medicinals. In addition to this, the Appalachian herbal traditions are unique because the South is one of the only areas where early European settlers were both free and poor, an interesting combination. Out of necessity above all, they lived off the land and took their cues from their peers – Native Americans and escaped Spanish slaves. This is a whole separate narrative, but essentially Appalachian herbalism is the synthesis of Native American, African, and Scots-Irish herbal traditions.
3. What is your daily health regimen like? What are three herbal concoctions/products you regularly use?
I am a big fan of runny yolks, healthy fats, herbal infusions, ferments, whole grains and other foods as medicine. My most adhered-to regimen is a vegetarian diet and a mindful attitude. My favorite health treat is Golden Cocoa, a hot chocolate blend made of raw cacao, turmeric, and ashwagandha that I whisk into raw milk and sweeten with honey. I also take several tinctures daily, which I rotate according to mood: milky oats, burdock, local ginseng, mushrooms. Dogwood flower essence, too, for focused intentional living.
4. Are there any natural beauty products that you enjoy using?
Dr. Bronner’s cinnamon toothpaste for dental hygiene totally rules! I use my own handmade face cream, available on my website, and Urb Apothecary’s Rose Body Oil as a scented hair oil (amazing). I am a simple woman when it comes to beauty products. Thayer’s Rosewater Witch Hazel blend is delightful, too. So basically, anything made with rose.
5. Favorite tea/tea blends or health drinks?
Rose latte or golden cocoa. I do love making an infusion of lemon balm, lemon verbena, and oatstraw, though I also like making infusions based on what’s blooming in the garden. Nettles from the backyard, anise hyssop from the front, or honeysuckle from the woods. Cold infused honeysuckle tea is my favorite.
6. What are your top three herbalism books?
Ah, so many. The Gift of Healing Herbs by Robin Rose Bennett is number 1, for sure. The Herbalist’s Way by Nancy and Michael Phillips, The Home Herbalist’s Handbook by James Green, and anything by Rosemary, Juliette de Bairicli-Levy, and Susun Weed.
7. What is your favorite underrated herb and why?
My favorite underrated herb is probably violet. She is so beautiful and useful, yet is one of the least spoken about herbaceous weeds. Ridiculously gorgeous blooms, and tasty leaves that have been proven in studies to not only halt the growth of cancerous cells, but shrink tumors and other growths! Small but mighty, indeed. I also love wild strawberries & their leaves.
8. Where do you hope to take Wooden Spoon Herbs in the future?
Eventually I’d like to do herbal consultations to help people fill their lives with herbs. This alongside expanding my offerings, retail outlets, and relationships with plants.
9. Any shout-outs to or recommendations of your favorite herbalists, apothecaries, blogs, health companies, websites, etc.?
Shout out to my amazing doula-herbalist friend Lindsay Whiteaker of Harvest Roots Farm & Ferment, with whom I am starting a blog called Mama’s Almanac in the spring. Also to Ali Banks of Fireside Botanicals, another amazing Chattanoogan herbalist, as well as all the under-the-radar healers in Chattanooga: Holli Richey, Eileen Fisher, Hillary Libby, Kelsey Vasileff, Suzanna Alexander, Rhaine McCrae, Summer Bock. And to The Great Kosmic Kitchen blog (and so many others) for always inspiring.