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New spin coming to herbal classes

Staff writer

Karyn Woodward has been conducting herb workshops in Florence since 2012, but now she wants to start demonstrating what she says are the plants’ antiviral properties.

“Some of them are more for stomach issues or headaches,” she said. “Each herb has its own thing, and that’s what I teach.”

Even with a new focus, Woodward has no plans to abandon discussing well-known herbs like rosemary and thyme that boost the immune system.

Those common plants were what Woodward focused on when starting classes but she gradually began delving deeper into more nuanced options.

Phoebe Janzen is a longtime confidant and her herbal knowledge has grown in the eight years since Woodward started classes.

“There are lots of practical things to do with herbs,” she said. “It’s just a matter of teaching people that. A hundred years ago people knew this, and that was their medicine.”

Woodward’s interest in herbs took off in the late 1960s, when she was a single mother trying to find healthy options for her four children’s diets.

“I ended up not having any doctor bills, period, with four children, except for their checkups for school sports,” she said.

Janzen hasn’t been sick in three years but stressed the difference between boosting her immune system and completely replacing medicine.

“It adds to it,” she said. “You don’t quit taking medication your doctor is giving you and do this. But, maybe you can keep from having to take medications if you are eating healthy and utilizing herbs in your diet.”

Herbal uses cover a broad range, from soothing bee stings with squished up broadleaf plantain leaves to eating specific varieties of garlic to try lowering blood pressure. Many people feel besieged by the amount of information though, Janzen said.

“Sometimes people are overwhelmed,” she said. “You just start a little bit at a time. Now that you know about garlic, add it and it’ll help your blood pressure.”

Taking an interest in herbs can change the way people see plants typically viewed as weeds, Woodward said.

“What you call weeds I call healing,” she said. “When you see a weed like dandelion, dandelion probably has around 30 medicinal uses it addresses in the body.”

Dried or fresh dandelion can help stimulate the appetite, and herbalists use the leaves to improve kidney function, according to a study from the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

Woodward’s dandelion-specific class is planned for fall, when she says its uses are most applicable.

Woodward’s customer base comes mainly from surrounding states, with participants coming from Oklahoma or Colorado to take part. They will have to wait until July to convene though, Woodward said.

“They’re not going to be happy I’m not starting this month,” she said. “I’m hearing more and more from people that they’re going to be doing more things in their state or around their area because of difficulties flying and traveling.”

Last modified June 4, 2020

 

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