Episode 25 | Making Peace with Not Running an Apothecary

If you've ever felt bashful because you don't run an apothecary...

Check out this week's episode!

There are many different ways to be an herbalist.

Not everyone needs to fulfill each aspect of herbalism personally.

If you love running an apothecary, great!

If you don't love it, you don't have to do it.

If you don't have the time, or the money, or the ability to deal with it: that's fine.

There are plenty of amazing, ethical people and businesses who you can work with to supply herbs for your clients.

It doesn't have to be you.

You do you.

Work with your strengths & gifts. 

Let go of what's not right for now.

Have a great week.

xo,

Camille



Transcript of Making Peace with Not Running an Apothecary episode

Episode 25 | Making Peace with Not Running an Apothecary - powered by Happy Scribe

Hi, everyone, welcome to In the Clinic with Camille. My name is Camille Freeman. I'm a licensed nutritionist and registered herbalist and I support other practitioners who need help with complicated cases or building, managing and growing a clinical practice. So today I wanted to talk to you about something that came up in a conversation with one of the folks at my 'Monday Mentoring' program. And that was about how to make peace with being an herbalist who does not run an herbal apothecary.

If you are not making your own herbal products and sharing them with clients, giving them to clients, selling them to clients, etc.. And it seems I think to many of us, we have this assumption that an important part of being an herbalist is working with the herbs and making those formulas for your clients. And while I agree that that is important and we do want to have high quality products for our clients from, you know, where we know the quality has been verified, that somebody knows what they're doing, prepared this product and harvested it, was harvested appropriately, ethically.

It was identified. It was stored correctly. All of these things are so important. And here is the way that I think about this, and before I go any further, let me just clarify that I also am an herbalist and I do not have an apothecary. When I'm working with my clients, I send them out to a compounding, compounding apothecary. I will send in an order for them of exactly what I want and how I want it, and I'll have them purchase it from the apothecary.

Or sometimes we will use a preprepared product. So, for example, sometimes we use a tincture. That's a formula that's kind of on the market for production consumption by the public. And sometimes we piecemeal things where I'll ask them to buy, you know, two ounces of this and one ounce of this, whether it's a cut in soft herb or a tincture, a single tincture. And then they'll have them do a little bit of formulating themselves once they will dump the two bottles together and then take a teaspoon, whatever it is.

So that's how I do it in my own practice. And I hear this feeling that maybe I'm not a real herbalist, if I don't do this, like if I'm not interacting with the plants myself and I'm not insuring the you know, the clients are getting their herbs from me or from a source that I know now. So here's what I have to say on that. There are so many different aspects of being an herbalist. It involves everything from, you know, botany to medicine making,

to teaching to actual clinical work, to research and academia, there's so many different facets and people who are involved in all of those are considered herbalists. For example, Jim Duke, I think many of us would consider an herbalist. He was not a clinician. He was really into the growing of plants, the botany, the kind of anthropology and ethnobotany and the research components. But he wasn't a clinician. I think he still counts as an herbalist in the same way that people who are into medicine making and plant walks and botany and things like that may also not be clinicians.

There are plenty of people out there whose passion lies in interacting with the plants and preparing the plants and kind of learning more about them and that they don't love working with people. It's not their gift, it's not their strength, and it's not their desire. Those folks are considered herbalists, and there's no reason why people whose attention, string gifts, desires or whatever else is focused towards clinical work necessarily need to also be folks who run an apothecary. It is possible to mix and match the aspects that you are able to do right now.

In my case, I actually really love making herbal products, I love harvesting and interacting with the plants, watching them grow and love the gardening aspect and my time is limited right now. I have a lot going on and I know that if I spread myself too thin, I'm not going to do anything well. And I know that my particular strengths are in teaching and working with people clinically. So I've decided to prioritize those for now. And let other people whose strength and energy is really devoted toward the herbal preparations and that sort of thing, I decided to let them serve my clients in that way.

I feel really good about that decision. And maybe there will come to be a time where I want to add that part back in to my work. But I also love the feeling of community in the feeling, a kind of symbiotic relationships when I am referring people to other businesses and practices in people who I know are ethical and making great products, doing great stuff. I really love supporting people in that way and feel like you're having multi legs stool versus a two legged stool when you're bringing more people into the work together.

So I feel good about it. I think that regardless of what kind of herbalists you are, any doing any one of those pathways is valid. You can pick just one. You can pick two, you can pick three. But there's a whole network. There's a whole world of really highly trained, amazing ethical people who do every single one of those things that we talked about, there are people who do the gardening. There's people who do the wild crafting.

There's people who are skilled at botany and herbal preparations and clinical work and academia, interpreting research, doing research, understanding ethnobotany, understanding traditional uses from all different lenses. We need people who are skilled in all of those things and no one can do everything really, really well. So, know your strings, know what you're good at and make that decision. You can always change. You can always learn, you can always add things to your practice.

But when time is limited and when you when you're kind of working on moving forward in one direction, it's absolutely OK to rely on the community to fill in the other parts. And that is how we lift everyone up and we get the herbs to people who need them. So I hope that helps some of you who have perhaps been feeling like maybe you should be doing it all and it's less legitimate or less authentic if you're not doing every single aspect of practice.

It's absolutely OK to rely on other people in areas that you don't care to work with or that are not your strengths right now. All right. Have a great week, everyone, and I will see you in June. Take care.


About Camille

Hi there! I'm a clinical herbalist and licensed nutritionist specializing in fertility and reproductive health. I mentor other practitioners who need help building and growing their practices, working with complicated clients and getting clinical hours. I have a doctorate in clinical nutrition, and I'm also a professor in the Department of Nutrition at the Maryland University of Integrative Health, where I teach physiology, pathophysiology, and mindful eating. 

My pronouns are she/hers. 

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  • I love this episode, Camille. I love making medicine as an herbalist and as my hobby but I really appreciate supporting a compounding pharmacy that specializes in just that, herbal medicine for my clinic. Thank you for sharing and encouraging this train of thought.

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