Portland Apothecary is close to our heart; this talented crew of acupuncturists, herbalists and plant lovers has been at the forefront of the local maker and traditional remedy movement, launching a seasonal Community Supported Herbalism (CSH) and consistently creating remedies that are as beautiful to use as they are to behold.
As part of our ongoing Meet the Maker series, we visited the PA studio and chatted with Kristen Dilley — who, we’re proud to mention, lent her herbal expertise to the Pistils Nursery team prior to launching Portland Apothecary a few years ago — about the significance of the apothecary, the history of Community Supported Herbalism, and remedies for winter health.
Pistils Nursery: The word “apothecary” conjures images of the past. Why do you think we’re seeing the apothecary style of healing return to more common practice these days?
Kristen Dilley: I think the word apothecary conjures up the feeling of potential for us at this point in time. My first imagery around it is that of rows of jars of dried plants in beautiful colors, an earthy & sharp smell that awakens some deep part of us and curiosity in how the natural world may interplay with our own health. People are looking towards the earth and its offerings to feel connected to their own health and to the natural rhythm of the planet. We are woefully disconnected and compartmentalized right now with our dependence on technology, but there is a wild seed in all of us that is turning our heads towards nature once more. Or that is my hope!
PN: How did the idea for Portland Apothecary first emerge? Where did you, as a group of makers, find the inspiration and the know-how for the remedies that have become Portland Apothecary?
KD: Years ago, Elie and I met at Fresh Pot for a cup of tea and shared our dreams and schemes and met upon a shared interest. The idea of beginning a Community Supported Herbalism project similar to that of the CSA shares offered by local independent farmers. There is a need for seasonal health care just as there is around seasonal eating. We wanted to fill that need, and add some good design to the mix. Between us we have over two decades of experience with studying herbs and learning from the plants. I am also an acupuncturist, at Nightingale Acupuncture in North Portland, so we bring some of the framework of Traditional Chinese Medicine to the seasonal aspect of our work.
PN: Many of your products are grouped around four landscapes; Desert, Mountain, Sea and Forest. What do these terrains mean to you and how do you imbue you products with their essences?
KD: Our work with the elements line is similar to that of our work with the seasons. We are bringing some of the basic archetypes back into people’s daily routines. We associate each element with a different essence and then offer them to people. For example the Forest helps us to ground, manifest and grow; the Mountain helps us feel strong and still offering protection, strength & mystery; The Desert and its wide open vistas and starry night skies offers Calm, Resilience and Love; and the Sea with its salty air and wily winds offers us a chance to wake up, renew ourselves and clarify that which might muddle our thoughts. Of course there is a lot more potential in this Element Line that the user brings to the experience.
PN: What is Community Supported Herbalism?
KD: We have a CSH that is offered quarterly, Spring, Summer, Winter and Autumn. Shares are pre-ordered and then are generally ready to pick up or ship out on the corresponding equinox or solstice. Each Share is based on the corresponding Traditional Chinese Medicine framework with a Western Herbalism twist. So for Spring you will be seeing a focus on the Liver, the color green, managing stress, soothing muscles and sinews and the Wood element. Each CSH Share comes with a remedy guide and a booklet with tips for an easy and healthy seasonal transition.
PN: What are three tips you’d recommend to help folks keep healthy through this winter season?
KD: We’d love to share our notes from this Winter’s CSH Share; there are still a few available. Here are a few tips from those notes:
Adjust Your Diet: Winter is a time to eat warming slow cooked foods. Use a slow cooker to make nourishing soups from beans and grains. Slow roast root vegetables with rosemary and garlic. Add warming spices such as ginger, garlic, cayenne, cinnamon, turmeric and clove. These spices will help increase your circulation in the months where some of us have decreased our physical activities.
Hydrate: The Kidneys and Urinary Bladder are the focus of Winter and they are both associated with water. It’s easy to forget to drink enough water during the colder months, but remember the artificial heat indoors is drying you out and if you are having a little extra to drink at holiday functions of hitting the coffee a little harder to combat darker days you will become dehydrated.
Keep It Simple: Our culture lends itself towards excess this time of year. Pare down! Whether it’s piling a plate too high, or stuffing too many bags with purchases, try and resist. It’s easy to lose control of ourselves with so much momentum in the air. If you can step back for a minute, you’ll be better for it.
Instagram GiveawayHow do you keep yourself happy, healthy and green this time of year? We want to know! Portland Apothecary has generously offered to donate a complete Winter Community Supported Herbalism share to one lucky instagram user! We’re throwing in an air-purifying fern for a winter wellness prize.
How to enter:
1) Follow @pistilsnursery and @portlandapothecary on instagram.
2) Tag one of your photos #pistilswinterwellness to share how you stay happy, healthy and green through winter!
We’ll announce the winner next Wednesday, February 11th! Not local? Don’t worry, we’ll ship you your prize.
By the way, you can find our favorite Portland Apothecary products on our web shop!