Reflections on the NorthWest Herb Symposium: Botanicals at the Beach

With the goal of contributing in a small way to building a growing community, I am writing about my recent herbal medicine infused experience at Botanicals at the Beach: The Northwest Herb Symposium.

   

Being fond of travel (both local and afar) and having a sweet spot for local herbal gatherings (conferences leave me feeling inspired), I must say that the NW herb Symposium is one of my favorites. Situated in the San Juan Islands, Whidbey Island offers a scenic drive and picturesque site for herbal medicine infusion and education. I have so many amazing photos of this event- that I am excited to share my visuals and experiences. This herbal medicine conference is August 23-26, 2018 and is only a 3 hour drive from Vancouver.

 

      

Previously known as Fort Casey, the site of the conference was a previous army barracks; however recently turned children’s camp, with dormitories and tent camping available; situated on the edge of the ocean with stunning sunsets, cliffs and rugged skylines. The land still has the original army barracks and original majestic character of colonial houses complete with original moldings and claw foot tubs.

   

Some historical commentary apparently the US army opened Fort Casey (as it was called back then) back in the early 20 century to guard the entrance to Puget Sound. In its time Fort Casey was the fourth largest military posts in Washington. Today, Camp Casey and its grounds provide an opportunity to relax, reflect, appreciate nature and learn in a serene retreat environment.

   

The historic lighthouse is a short walk away and the local herb walks found us meandering into the forest to learn some traditional application for these valuable Pacific Northwest trees and native medicinal plants.

   
Numerous varieties of seaweeds are in the sound for viewing in Ryan Drums famous seaweed walks create a peace filled learning opportunity. The talks are held in line with the pull of the moon- so when the tide is out- either an early morning – or if we are lucky a mid day event. Morning yoga, organic herbal teas, exhibitors and vendor tables, sublime teas from B. Fullers Mortar & Pestle tea company in Seattle, local sponsors and evening movies round out this weekend event.

   

Perhaps one of the best things about this weekend is the intimate learning environment so close to nature, where the ratio of students to teachers is perfect for facilitating good conversation and mingling with everyone, instilling a “like family” environment. Having been here 2 years in a row, there are now familiar faces of those who have attended previous years events. The care and detail focused organisers of Botanicals on the Beach (Jay and Bridget, Rose and Nancy and likely others) offer a well organised event intended to give back to the herbal medicine community and in their 5 years of existence (3 years of conferences) have sponsored many of the best herbal medicine educators for their presentations.

   

The first year I attended the gathering there was Leslie and Michael Tierra, Jillian Stansbury, Amanda McQuade Crawford. Local San Juan Island herbal experts like Ryan Drum, PhD in Botany, Denise Joy (fourth generation herbalist), Leslie Lekos and Natasha Clarke brought their knowledge of local plants and Netta Deberoff, a fifth generation Doukhobor herbalist, shared her knowledge of creating an herbal hot pot and Eaglesong Gardener brought to life her personal stories of Hawthorn and I will forever more hear the words to the song “Row Your Boat” with new meaning! This year Susan Weed brought her wise woman wisdom to the conference and David Hoffman, BSc, FNIMH, RH (AHG) shared his thoughts on the future of holistic herbal medicine. Kevin Spelman, PhD, RH (AHG) another notable speaker bringing his expertise and research on mitochondria and cellular function to the discussions –ALL of the talks have been super informative, well researched, fun and packed full of learning.

      

Botanicals on the Beach also addresses environmental issues relevant to our health; last year’s key note speaker, Joseph Pizzorno shared research from his newly published book “THE TOXIN SOLUTION”: (How Hidden Poisons in the Air, Water, Food, and Products We Use Are Destroying Our Health). As if the title is not explanatory enough, he spoke about environmental toxicity and the impact of xenoestrogens on our endocrine health and organ function and how to improve this issue. Kevin Spelman brought in additional research about environmental toxicity, metabolic syndrome and the role of mitochondria functioning for healthy DNA replication and function. This year I had the pleasure of offering a talk of Phase 1 and 2 liver function, why a healthy liver is essential for the health of our whole body and our immune system and offered suggestions and research on various foods, herbs and mushrooms being studies to support liver detox. I also had the pleasure of sharing some of my clinical experience with herbal medicine and dermatitis; offering some recipes from my recently released book “The Good Living Guide to Natural and Herbal Medicine” and some insights and historical antidotes from the past about skin health.

   

For those interested wanting to expedite learning on health, healing and herbal medicine in a nature rich setting – check out this event. Save the date and website and be informed via email when the registration opens for 2018. Bring your friends; there is more than enough room for everyone.

   

The gathering is relatively new in its inception – which means that it requires the growth and continual support of the herbal community and sharing via social media in order to thrive and continue to offer such great speakers in an intimate setting- please share this post with other herbal enthusiasts who would be interested in a stimulating weekend. There are topics and experiences here for all levels of herbal medicine experience: from general interest and medicine making to practitioner track level presentations and embrace the opportunity to sit and chat with teachers over dinner after a talk. Save the dates for next year’s North West Herb Symposium conference (August 23-26, 2018) and circulate this valuable opportunity with your herbal community.

   

And if you thought this Whidbey Island NW Herb Conference post was just about an herb symposium, it was actually herbally infused with many adventures…prior to my arrival at Camp Casey, I visited some of the local herbal sites found around the island. Click here to view my other adventures: The Lavender Wind Farm and the Earth Sanctuary nature reserve.