Krista Bjorn started from scratch when she moved to Australia. In this podcast she tells her story of falling in love, beginning a garden and learning the hard way! She says she was a really horrible gardener and the little that she did know was from a high rainfall climate that absolutely didn't suit her new dry Australian surrounds - so she just kept experimenting!
Over time her skills improved and her passion for herb collection grew and now she has 5 herb gardens that include more than 45 different herbs that she uses for their medicinal properties, though I'm sure that she'd love to include every herb imaginable in her garden! She shares that her kitchen always looks like a science experiment, with bottles of herbs and herbs hanging to dry, as she makes apothecary remedies from the herbs she grows. And she gives us some good tips for how to dry herbs and how to store herbs.
Krista explains that apothecary is simply an old term for a chemist or pharmacist and means someone who takes herbs and blends them together to create a herbal medicine cabinet. She has spent 10 years researching medieval medicine and herbal medicine and discovering what people did to heal themselves before modern medicine. Now she makes herbal remedies for herself by blending herbs according to the healing property of the plant and this is a key part of her holistic health. Krista shares a herb blend plant remedy that she likes to use during flu season - when she has a cough she picks sage and lemon thyme and makes a really strong tea then gargles it as her form of medicine.
At the onset of autumn Krista picks elderflowers and elderberries for her winter herbal remedy. She drys them and turns them into an elderberry cordial by boiling them up with cinnamon, star anise, clove, cardamon pods and Tasmanian pepperberry. To create a natural healing cordial that is both antibacterial and antiviral.
She also makes an elderflower tea at autumn time, it's one of her favourite teas. She picks the following herbs for tea: elderflower, yarrow, hibiscus, rosehip, peppermint and she also adds calendular because one of it's medicinal herb qualities is being an adaptogen. Krista finds that this herbal blend helps relieve sinus congestion, headaches or aches that come with fevers and colds, it helps to alleviate the symptoms while she heals.
The recipe for this tea to your herbal medicine cabinet the recipe is as follows:
1/2 cup dried elderflowers
2 Tbsp dried hibiscus flowers
1/4 cup dried yarrow
1/4 cup dried peppermint leaves
2 Tbsp dried rosehips
2 Tbsp calendula flowers
Directions: Mix all ingredients together well and store in an airtight glass jar, such as a mason jar, out of direct sunlight.
When ready to drink, scoop 1 heaped teaspoon in a tea strainer and place in heatproof mug or cup. Pour over just-boiled water and leave to steep 5 minutes. Sweeten with maple syrup, honey or sugar.
She talks about the importance of building your own personal apothecary because all of us are different. Every human body is different and the blessing is that there is always more than one healing herb for each condition. Krista says that the fun begins in discovering the herbs that are meant for each of us.
How do people learn about herbal apothecary? Krista explains how she is a science based kind of person and while she loves learning the history of herbs and the medieval herbal medicines she spends most of her time researching the science based evidence of herbs and plant-based medicine. She does one herb at a time and started with peppermint and lavender.
She shares her two of her favourite books on herbs that both include the scientific evidence for the traditional wisdom of herbs:
Krista finds that knowing she has a garden full of natural remedies she feels a sort of quiet confidence or sense of security, a peaceful feeling that she'll be able to handle whatever comes her way.
Now she teaches others how to have that same confidence and how to build their own personal apothecary. You can find Krista's workshops here. She is also soon to publish her own herbal book and you can also find details of that on her website.