Throughout history, curious minds have searched for the answers to health, wellness, and longevity. Some contributed great breakthroughs, some had a gentle influence on their age, and others turned out to be completely off-base, but their ingenuity shaped the world we live in today.
Our 2023 Almanac centerfold art celebrates the many individuals whose shoulders we now stand on as herbalists, scientists, and members of the human race. Learn more about them below.
Paleolithic People/Neanderthals (60,000 years ago)
Not only did we pick up instinctual behaviors from paleolithic and neanderthal people that would shape how we deal with stress, love, and addiction through the then-developing brain and its chemistry, we also picked up the use of some medicinal plants. Scientists have found through testing plaque on teeth of our very early descendants they had used herbs we still use today, like poplar, chamomile, and yarrow.
Native American Medicine Man + Woman (15,000 - 40,000 years ago)
Spiritual, environmental, social, and physical are just 4 of the systems the brilliant and in tune indigenous peoples managed for the best health. For tens of thousands of years Medicine men and women dedicated this and the next life to caring for the people in tribe and family. Passing knowledge and commitment to this sacred practice, teaching generation after generation. Over 500 nations practiced this way. It is interesting that western medicine today is just scratching the surface of the whole person/spirit care paradigm.
Midwife - female, indigenous (40,000 years ago)
Midwives of the indigenous early people were not only part of the birthing/delivering of babies, they actively worked with expecting and new mothers in many ways. Preparation involved many factors starting with diet; they knew good and bad foods and herbs during pregnancy. Teaching women how to deliver by themselves if needed. How to evaluate the health and needs of a newborn, foods and herbs that would help the mother with milk production as well as nurture and care for the baby.
The Sumerians (4500 BCE - 1900 BCE)
Written history on tablets and other means opened the door for official schooling and the beginning of well-recorded and prepared herbal remedies. This period and people deepened the use of local and traded herbals; the use of different parts of herbs like root, stem, fruits, and so on. Several modes of consuming herbs bloomed with this time; beer, honey, wine, and poultices to name a few. Fermentation may not have been understood but marveled at today. A great jump with written language and histories we still value today.
Ötzi the Iceman (3275 BCE)
Otzi, a natural mummy found in the Otztal alps in 1991. He was frozen around 3200 bc. Otzi was well equipped and outfitted, which helped with understanding the people of the time. Some of Ötzi's possessions were two species of polypore mushrooms with leather strings through them. A common use of this medicinal mushroom is for intestinal parasites. Otzi was suffering from intestinal worms and it is believed he was taking the dosed mushrooms to rid his body of this issue.
Dhanvantari (3000 BCE)
Dhanvantari is the Hindu god of medicine, and an avatar or incarnation of Vishnu, the preserver, one of the three central deities in the Hindu tradition. He is the god and traditional author or creator of Ayurvedic (traditional Hindu) medicine. There are many temples to Dhanvantari in the southern part of India. He is depicted as very good looking (attractive doctors are apparently an ancient meme) usually shown with four arms, holding a medical book and other healing instruments.
Yellow Emperor or Huangdi (2698 - 2598 BCE)
The "Yellow Emperor'' (Huangdi) is the legendary founder of the first Chinese (Han) empire. He is reputed to have reigned from about 2698–2598 BC and is an important figure in Chinese nationalism to this day. His "Classic of Internal Medicine" is commonly thought to be one of the oldest and foundational texts of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). It outlines the theory and practice of TCM and acupuncture through a series of dialogues between Huangdi and six of his (also legendary) ministers.
Orunmila (1983 BCE)
Orunmila is a spirit in the pantheon of the native religion of Ifa and the Yoruba people of Nigeria and West Africa, which spread to Latin America during slavery. This religion and form of worship is sometimes known as Voodoo in the West Indies. Orunmila was one of the original spirits of creation, incarnated as a prophet, or a sacred being living on earth. Priests of Orunmila (called Babalawos) are required to learn and teach the use of herbal medicines as part of their religious tradition.
Egyptians (1550 BCE)
Egyptians were great medical leaders in their time. Their ideas regarding cleanliness and sanitation (long before germ theory) made their surgeries more successful than any other civilization until the 1800s. The great library of Alexandria (accidentally burned by Julius Caesar in 48 BCE) is thought to have contained a great deal of herbal, medicinal, and surgical knowledge accumulated over several millennia of Egyptian civilization and far-reaching trade.
Sushruta (800 - 700 BCE)
Sushruta was thought to be an Indian medical scholar who is thought to have lived somewhere between 1000 and 800 BCE. The Sushruta Samhita ("Sushruta's Compendium"), written in Sanskrit, is one of the oldest foundational texts in Ayurvedic medicine. It includes chapters on surgical training, tools, and procedures, some of which are still in use today.
Atreya (600 BCE)
Atreya (circa 600 BCE) was the author of the Agnivesha Samhita, another foundational text in Ayurvedic medicine. In addition, Atreya taught 6 disciples, each of whom founded a medical school and wrote an additional Samhita. The teachings of these several Samhitas became the core of Ayurvedic medicine as we know it today.
Hippocrates (460 - 370 BCE)
Hippocrates (c. 460-370 BCE) is often called the “Father of Medicine”. Born on the Greek island of Kos, near Turkey, Hippocrates systematized the teaching and practice of medicine as a profession, created (with his followers) a large body of medical literature, and authored the Hippocratic Oath that is still taken by doctors today.
Theophrastus (371 - 287 BCE)
Theophrastus was born in 370 BC on the Greek Island of Lesbos, where he left as a young man to study under Plato at his academy in Athens. After Plato passed, Theophrastus studied under Aristotle, even following him to tutor Alexander. He became a philosopher, botanist, biologist, and physicist. The most influential of his books are two large botanical treatises, Enquiry into Plants, and On the Causes of Plants, which contain the first systemization of the plant world and were considered authoritative sources for botanical information during antiquity and the Middle Ages. Because of Theophrastus' contributions to the advancement of plant knowledge, he has been aptly called the "father of botany."
Crateuas (111 - 64 BCE)
Little is known about the life of Crateuas, who was a Greek doctor, pharmacologist, and artist. He is well-known for his scholarly, three-volume herbal encyclopedia known as Rhizotomica. This literary work illustrated plants and botanicals (some being the earliest known illustrations) for identification along with the medicinal properties of various plants known to the Greeks. Rhizotomica became a major source of reference for future botanists, doctors, biologists, and other related fields of work as well as influencing the work of Pedanius Dioscorides who wrote De Materia Medica.
Dioscorides (40 - 90 CE)
Pedanius Dioscorides lived from 40 – 90 AD, and during his short life, he wrote one of the most widely used pharmacopeia called De Materia Medica, which consisted of five books. Dioscorides' work gave excellent descriptions of nearly 600 plants, with some animal and mineral substances, and about 1000 different medicines made from them. De Materia Medica used previous studies and texts from other pharmacologists and improved their identification; plant habitat, properties, actions, and uses, side effects, administration, and dosage all organized into therapeutic groupings of drugs based on similar medicinal actions. Dioscorides' Materia Medica was one of the most influential works of his time and was referenced for over 1,600 years!
Charaka (100 - 200 CE)
Living between 150-200 AD, Acharya Charaka was an Indian physician, who was a key contributor to the alternative medical system known as Ayurveda. He was a crucial editor of the Charaka Samhita, a foundational text underlying ancient theories on the human body, etiology, symptomatology, and therapeutics. Charaka's main idea was that health and sickness are not predestined, and attention to one’s own body and lifestyle can extend life.
Galen (129 - 216 CE)
Considered to be one of the most accomplished medical researchers of ancient history, Galen spoke and wrote extensively on the anatomy of the body emphasizing the role of the heart, brain, and blood. He regarded anatomy as the foundation of medical knowledge and advocated dissection to improve surgical skills and expand research of over 300 works of writing to his name.
Zhang Zhongjing (150 - 219 CE)
Known as a “Saint in Medicine” and the “Chinese Hippocrates”, Zhang, since childhood devoted himself to medical science. Growing up he became a pharmacologist, physician, inventor, and writer of the Eastern Han dynasty. During this time, he collected prescriptions, remedies, and deep knowledge of healing from his time with patients and with his studies from the books such as Internal Canon of Medicine and Yellow Emperor's Inner Classic. With this knowledge, he wrote two works Shang han lun (Treatise on Febrile Diseases) and Jin Gui Yao Lue (Jingui Collection of Prescriptions) which greatly influenced Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Shennong Ben Cao Jing (206 BC - 220 AD)
Believed to be a compilation of many authors written between 206 BC and 220 AD, this Chinese book on agriculture and medicinal plants categorizes 365 herbs into three volumes. The first consists of 120 upper level herbs that are harmless and can be taken daily. The second consists of 120 middle level herbs that are therapeutic but can be toxic to varying degrees. The third lists 125 lower level herbs that have strong or violent reactions on the body and should only be used for a short amount of time.
Huangfu Mi (215-282 CE)
Growing up poor during the late Eastern Han dynasty (212-282 AD), Huangfu Mi worked under the famous scholar Xi Tan. While he wasn’t an author of pharmacological books, he spent all his life studying herbal books in order to spread knowledge to others and later generations. Around 40 years of age, he became sick, which led him into the world of acupuncture and moxibustion. Determined to find answers to his aliments, he systematically compiled older comparative studies on acupuncture by reclassifying their contents, deleting redundant words, simplifying the contents, and detailing the essence within the 12-volume book, named Jiayi Jing (The Systematic Classic of Acupuncture and Moxibustion).
Tao Hongjing (456 - 536 CE)
Tao Hongjing was a Chinese alchemist, astronomer, physician, and pharmacologist, among many other titles, and is considered the Chinese counterpart of Leonardo Da Vinci. His father and grandfather were experts in herbal drugs, and he shared the same interest. He composed the Bencao jing jizhu or “Collected Commentaries to the Materia Medica”, which provides information on each substance, its use, effectiveness, appearance, and more. He is considered the “effective founder of critical pharmacology in China”.
Sun Simiao (581 - 618 CE)
Titled China’s King of Medicine, Sun Simiao was a physician and writer for the Sui and Tang Dynasty. Apart from making significant contributions to Chinese medicine he also wrote 2 books that listed over 7000 medicinal recipes and both were great milestones in Chinese medicine. He is also known for writing the text known as “the Chinese Hippocratic Oath” which is still a required reading for Chinese physicians today.
Vagbhata (600 - 650 CE)
Vagbhata was one of the most influential writers, doctor, scientist and advisor of Ayurveda. He was a disciple of Charaka. Two great works are associated with his name, however research has shown that he could not have been the sole author of these works. Sushruta “Father of Surgery”, Charaka the medical genius, and Vagbhata are said to be “The trinity” of Ayurvedic knowledge.
Abu Bakr al-Razi (864 - 930 CE)
A Persian physician, philosopher, and alchemist considered one of the most important figures in the history of medicine. Known for his Latin name Rhazes, he wrote in over 200 manuscripts and is remembered for his many advances in medicine. He was the first to distinguish between smallpox and measles. During his career he became a successful doctor, chief physician in Baghdad and Ray, and also a teacher of medicine. He has also been noted as the father of pediatrics and a pioneer in obstetrics and ophthalmology.
Avicenna - Iba Sina (980 - 1037 CE)
Ibn Sina, commonly known as Avicenna, was a Persian polymath known as the father of early modern medicine. He was a physician, astronomer, philosopher and writer of the Islamic Golden Age. His most notable works are “The book of Healing”, a philosophical and scientific encyclopedia, and “The Canon of Medicine” a five-volume medical encyclopedia that was used in practice and universities until the 18th century.
Hildegard of Bingen (1098 - 1179)
Hildegard of Binden was a German Benedictine Abbess and polymath, also known as Saint Hildegard, was a writer, composer, philosopher, mystic, visionary and medical writer and practitioner during the High Middle Ages. Considered by scholars to be the founder of scientific natural history in Germany, she wrote theological, botanical and medical works. Her medical and scientific writings came from helping and then leading the monastery’s herbal garden and infirmary. As she gained skills in diagnosis and treatment she combined physical treatment with holistic methods centered on “spiritual healing”. Her healing became well known for using tinctures, herbs and precious stones.
Zhang Yuansu (1151 - 1234)
Zhang Yuansu was one of the most influential Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners in the transitional period from the Jin dynasty to the Mongolian Yuan dynasty. Showing great talent at an early age, he took the imperial examinations at age 8. However, at 27 he failed the highest examinations for scholars and abandoned his professional career to practice Chinese medicine. Studying classics such as “The Yellow Emperor’s Inner Classic” he advanced his skills and came to fame when he cured a famous medical practitioner, Liu Wansu, who couldn’t cure himself.
The Aztecs (1300 - 1521)
Nahuatl speaking people in the Aztec region of central Mexico used knowledge, belief, and rituals to understand health and sickness. They used a vast inventory with hundreds of medicinal herbs and plants to treat their people. Being great believers, they used magic to avoid illnesses and wore amulets for protection. Some elements of their traditional medicinal practices and beliefs are still used today among modern-day Nahua communities.
The Incas (1400 - 1533)
The Incas were highly skilled engineers building roads, bridges, advanced irrigation systems, and farming techniques. They used astronomy to plant and harvest and built observatories to track the movement of the sun. They had a deep understanding of the medicinal properties of herbs and plants. They used the bark of trees, leaves of plants, and extracts of vines to help with certain ailments that are used today.
Martin de la Cruz + Juan Badiano (1484 - 1552)
Juan Badiano and Martin de la Cruz compiled and translated the Livellus de Medicinalius Indorum Herbis, the Latin translation of “Little Book of the Medicinal Herbs of the Indians”. This book was an herbal manuscript that described the medicinal properties of 250 medicinal herbs used by the Aztecs. This manuscript has become a significant historical document as it is the first illustrated and descriptive scientific text of Nahua medicine and botany.
Otto Brunfels (1488 - 1534)
Otto Brunfels was a German theologian, physician, and botanist. He studied medicine at the University of Basel and became a city physician. He is often called the father of botany and had many botanical writings and books. His work helped move botany away from medieval herbalism and toward modern science. His publications were some of the first to rely on observation of native plants and their environment and include descriptions of plants that go beyond their medical value.
Leonhart Fuchs (1501 - 1566)
Leonhart Fuchs was a German physician and botanist. He authored a large book about plants and their medicines that includes about 500 detailed and accurate drawings of plants. These depictions were high quality and more advanced than any of their predecessors. He worked with Otto Brunfels and Bock to publish herbals and helped with the German botanical renaissance in the mid-sixteenth century. He created the first medicinal garden at the University of Tübingen and spent the last 31 years of his life as a professor of medicine.
Rembert Dodoens (1517 - 1585)
Rembert Dodoens was a Flemish physician and botanist, sometimes known as Rembertus Dodonaeus. He has been called a father of botany along with Brunfels, Bock, and Fuchs. He published several books, one of which, Cruydeboeck (Herb Book), divided the herbs into six groups based on properties and affinities, rather than the traditional alphabetical order. It was more detailed and considered a pharmacopeia. This work was one of the most important works of the 16th century, becoming the most translated book, after the bible. It was known worldwide and used as a reference book for two centuries.
Li Shizhen (1518 - 1593)
Li Shizhen, also known as Dongbi, was a Chinese acupuncturist, herbalist, naturalist, physician, pharmacologist, and writer for the Ming dynasty. He developed many methods for classifying herbal components and medications. He spent 27 years authoring work in the Compendium of Materia Medica text with entries that detail more than 1,800 traditional Chinese medicines that described the type, form, flavor, nature, and application of over 1,000 herbs and included more than 1,000 illustrations and 11,000 treatments. He also wrote eleven other books.
Grete Herball (1525)
Grete Herball or The Great Herbal (1525) is an early encyclopedia and the first English published illustrated herbal. It is a single volume compendium that details the medicinal benefits of about 400 plants as well as some non-botanical items such as cosmetics and associated folklore. 150 of the plants are English natives, and some of the entries include animal products like fox grease, as well as minerals or liquids like lyme, amber, sulfur, and vinegar. Foods are also included like cheese, butter, and honey.
*Philip Meyen von Coburg (1600’s)
Philip Meyen von Coburg laid the foundation of iridology (the practice of understanding disease through irregularities in the Iris) in his 1670 book Chiromatica Medica. Coburg detailed the first chart relating sections of the iris with other body systems. Later iridology would become a popular practice in alternative medicine, though methodological research has not been able to verify its claims.
Nicholas Culpeper (1616 - 1654)
Nicholas Culpeper was a radicalized apothecary who served as a battlefield surgeon during the English Civil War. He was a prolific researcher and documenter of herbs, and combined herbalism with astrology to treat his patients - for free. He believed “no man deserved to starve to pay an insulting, insolent physician.”
Graman Quassi (1692 - 1787)
Quassi was an African man who was captured and sold into slavery in the Dutch colonies of South America. He fought with the Dutch in battles against local tribes and was eventually granted his freedom and even owned a plantation himself. He was an avid herbalist and developed a bitter tea including Quassia amara, which Carl Linnaeus named after him as the discoverer of its medicinal properties. The tea successfully battled intestinal parasites, and even today serves as the basis of pharmaceutical knowledge for parasite treatment.
Carl Linnaeus (1707 - 1778)
Carl Linnaeus was a Swedish botanist, zoologist, taxonomist, and physician. He is considered the father of modern taxonomy as he formalized binomial nomenclature (the modern system of naming organisms). The publication of his first edition “Systema Naturae” was in 1735, however, he published the tenth and most important edition in 1758. The abbreviation ‘L.’ in botany and zoology is used to indicate Linnaeus as the authority of the species’ name. This is because he spent many years traveling through Sweden and other countries personally finding and classifying plants and animals.
Anton von Störk (1731 - 1803)
Orphaned at a young age, Anton von Störk was an Austrian physician native to Germany. He studied at the University of Vienna where he received his medical doctorate and quickly climbed the ranks to become deacon then rector at the University. He is known for his clinical research on herbs, their toxicity, and medicinal properties. His research and studies are considered the blueprint for modern medicine clinical trials. Convinced that even toxic plants and herbs had medicinal properties, he first tested them on animals, then himself, and finally on his patients using a “sliding-scale” to determine the right dosage.
Samuel Hahnemann (1755 - 1843)
Christian Friedrich Samuel Hahnemann was a Saxon-born linguist in the 18th century who learned to speak at least nine languages and employed himself as a translator and teacher for many years. He felt a growing concern over medical practices of the day, like bloodletting. He became fascinated by healing, and began to postulate that “that which can produce a set of symptoms in a healthy individual can treat a sick individual who is manifesting a similar set of symptoms,” or the theory of “like cures like.” He is still revered today as the father of Homeopathy.
Constantine Samuel Rafinesque (1783 - 1840)
C.S. Rafinesque was a Frenchman born in the Ottoman Empire in the late 18th century. He educated himself in France before moving to the New World and was living in Ohio by 1815. He was a polymath and a polyglot and made very interesting contributions to botany, linguistics, zoology, and archeology. He was not popular among his scientific community, yet he was a prolific writer and contributor to the robust conversations of his time.
Harriet Tubman (1822 - 1913)
We all know about Harriet Tubman’s contributions to the Underground Railroad, but a less talked about aspect of her work was the foraging of medicinal plants and herbs as she guided slaves to freedom. Slaves were barred from learning herbalism, as white people feared being poisoned, yet Tubman was able to gain a deep knowledge of plants and their benefits.
Ignaz von Peczely (1826 - 1911)
Ignaz Von Peczely was a Hungarian scientist, physician, and homeopath considered the father of modern iridology. At the age of 11, he noticed an owl in the back yard with a broken leg. He also noticed a dark stripe in the owl’s iris. He healed the owl’s leg and let it go, but the owl stayed and after some time he noticed the iris turned white with crooked lines. Through his studies and research came the first accurate drawing of an iris.
Emanuel Felke (1856 - 1926)
Emanuel Felke, often referred to as the clay pastor, was a Prussian Protestant pastor and naturopath. Felke practiced iridology and has been known as the co-father of homeopathic combination remedies. He developed the Felke cure which included the Felke sitz-bath, Light-and-air bath, Clay baths, and Ground Sleeping.
Henrietta Phelps Jeffries (1857 - 1926)
Henrietta Phelps was born the daughter of a slave. She learned midwifery from her mother and was a prominent member of her city delivering hundreds of both white and black babies. In 1911 she was brought to trial on the charges of “practicing medicine without a license”. Henrietta was found guilty by a jury of all white men. The judge dismissed the charges and defended her cause, seeing the work she had done for her community. An unheard-of victory for a woman of color at that point in history. Henrietta continued midwifery until her death in 1926.
Mary Stepp Burnette Hayden (1858 - 1956)
Mary Strepp Burnette Hayden was an African American Native-American midwife and herbalist. Born in Black Mountain, North Carolina; Mary learned the trade from her mother. Through the late 19th and early 20th centuries, African Americans could not get healthcare, making them reliant on the services of Mary as a midwife and herbal healer.
George Washington Carver (1864 - 1943)
Carver was an American agricultural scientist, one of the most prominent black scientists of the late 19th century and early 20th century. Carver promoted environmentalism, natural fertilizers, and crop rotation to prevent soil depletion caused by repeated plantings of cotton. Carver encouraged poor farmers to grow new cash crops like sweet potatoes, cowpeas, and peanuts to restore nitrogen to the soil.
Dr. Edward Bach (1886 - 1936)
Bach was a British doctor, homeopath, and bacteriologist known for his development of the Bach flower remedies. Inspired by classic homeopathy, Bach’s flower remedies contain extreme dilution of flower materials mixed with a solution of brandy and water. These solutions rely on the concept of water memory, using dew drops from plants that the sun had shown through. Bach would hold his hand over plants and depending on which emotion he felt would ascribe the healing power of that flower to that specific emotion.
Maria Sabina Magdalena Garcia (1894 - 1985)
Sabina was a Mazatec shaman living in the Sierra Mazateca in southern Mexico, she used psilocybin mushrooms in her sacred healing ceremonies called Veladas. She was sought out by R. Gordan Watson who lied to gain access to a ceremony. Watson in turn collected spores and introduced them to the western world. Unfortunately, Watson revealed her identity and location, which made people come to the town and seek her out for purely psychedelic recreation pursuits. This altered the social dynamics of the Mazatec community and customs. In turn, she was blamed and shunned by her community.
Emma Dupree (1897 - 1996)
Dupree was an herbalist from North Carolina, renowned in her section of Pitt County. As a child she was known as “woods gal”, and “little medicine thing” because she was always seen roaming the woods with her gathering sack and learning about the native plants. Emma established herself as an herbalist in the community and later moved to Pitt county with both black and white people. Emma received the Brown-Hudson Award and North Carolina Heritage Award for the knowledge she shared with physicians and medical anthropologists.
Tommie Bass (1908 - 1996)
Tommie Bass lived his life nestled in the base of the Appalachian Mountains where he wildcrafted the hundreds of medicinal plants the Appalachians have to offer. As a gifted herbalist, he acquired a status of fame and was featured in national TV programs, movies, The Wallstreet Journal, books, and other literature. He inspired future generations that carried his herbal traditions into more challenging times for natural medicine.
Bernard Jensen (1908 -2001)
Bernard Jensen lived to be 96 years old, practicing what he preached in nutrition and holistic medicine. He was known as the Father of iridology as he specialized in this form of wellness prevention and diagnosis in his multiple Chiropractic and health institutions. His product line is still available on the market today.
Dr. John R. Christopher (1909 - 1983)
Dr. Christopher was truly dedicated to a life of natural healing and wellness. He was a man with a joyful nature in spite of all he went through to build his legacy. During a time when herbal medicine was being criticized and shut down, he was called a quack and thrown in jail on many occasions yet he never abandoned what he knew to be his purpose in life, spreading the truth about natural medicine. He was a beloved herbal practitioner in his community and documented many success stories that account for the power of good nutrition and herbal medicine. He founded The School of Natural Healing where his legacy could be carried on, educating and empowering thousands of future herbalists.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (1918 - 2008)
Unique in his foundation of Transcendental Meditation, Yogi is one of the most popular gurus of all time. His story and the trail he left behind throughout the decades is fascinating. His beliefs, teachings, schools, and institutions that span across the world have been a source of wellness for millions of clients and students.
Babi Hari Dass (1923 - 2018)
Being a silent monk in and of itself has many aspects of the discussion. But besides the discipline of Monastic silence, Babi Har Dass conducted his life along a path of wellness largely through spirituality and yoga. His journey began when he was only 8 years old and convinced his mother to free him from the confines of his home life. At this young age, he began a passionate and disciplined regime of meditation, yoga, martial arts, Mudras, Sanskrit, Shatkarma, and more. He was admired by his adult peers and often taken under the wing of many well-known and admired gurus throughout his fascinating life.
Phyllis A. Balch (1930 - 2004)
As the Co-author for one of the most celebrated texts in the natural wellness industry, Prescription for Nutritional Healing, Phyllis Balch is one of the most well-known and admired women in the industry. Like many in the industry, her story begins with an unhealthy and unhappy lifestyle until she came across literature that helped her improve her nutrition and health. She then pursued a life, alongside her husband James Balch, of helping others lead happier, healthier lives.
Rene Cassie (1930-1970)
Rene Caisse was a nurse in Ontario Canada who is world renowned for making significant contributions to the field of natural medicine. In 1922 an herbal formula that helps support the immune system was given to her by a Canadian Ojibwa Indian. She prepared this original formula and turned it into a drink named Essiac, which is her last name spelled backward. She spent many years (1922-1978) giving people her formula and helping them in her clinic in Bracebridge Ontario Canada, but always refused payment for services, although she would accept donations for her clinic. She turned over the rights to the formula in 1977 only with the agreement that the original ingredients never be revealed to anyone other than Resperin.
James Duke (1960-1990)
James Duke lived an absolutely fascinating life. It began on April 4, 1929, when he was born into a very poor family in Birmingham Alabama. His family would eat what it could find or grow, often sharing homegrown and canned food with extended family. When he was 8 his family moved to Durham and his father became an insurance salesman which allowed his family to eat meat and potatoes. Duke's father and both of his brothers died of colon cancer; he later stated his belief that their deaths were due to the switch in diet. These early experiences stoked his interest in botany and biology. He earned his master's degree in Botany in 1955. While he was in the Service he trained soldiers on edible plants for survival. He co-authored and wrote many books on botany and medicinal plants and spent many years in South America studying plant specimens. He has made huge contributions over a lifetime to the herbal industry.
Patricia Bragg (1929 - now)
Patricia Bragg is an American businesswoman, author, and health consultant. She was born in Oakland, California in 1929 and raised in Piedmont, California. She attended the University of California, Berkeley, and graduated with a bachelor's degree in Biochemistry. Patricia now serves as the nominal head of Bragg Live Food Products and is Chairperson of the Bragg Health Institute. Bragg products center around Apple cider vinegar as one of their main ingredients and have a large array of varying products as well as many different books on clean eating and healthy lifestyles.
Michael Pollan (1955 - now)
Michael Pollan is an American author and journalist, who is currently the Knight Professor of Science and Environmental Journalism at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. He has written an amazing selection of books on how a variety of plants affect our lives and minds.
His most recent book explores the relationship between the human and natural worlds. With an intense look at how psychoactive plants like Opium, Caffeine, and Mescaline impact our brains and culture. He asks the question why one of these three substances is used daily to power us up each morning while the other two are shrouded in Taboo? Bringing to question some very intriguing thoughts and ideas.
Paul Stamets (1955 - now)
Paul Stamets is an American Mycologist (a biologist who specializes in the study of fungi). In 2014 he teamed up with a research initiative called BeeFriendly™ to help reverse the devastating declines in bee populations. He has helped fund research to specifically study how mushroom Mycelium extracts can help bees stay healthy. Paul is also involved in studies on Microdosing with Mushrooms and how this can help with various aspects of one's health and wellness or how this may fluctuate over time. He has many peer-reviewed Scientific articles and holds many patents in regard to various types of research involving a large array of mushrooms.
Mark Blumenthal (1965? - now)
Mark Blumenthal is the Founder and Executive Director of the American Botanical Council. This is a nonprofit organization that is responsible for giving reliable and accurate information on herbs and medicinal plants. He also helped co-found the Herb Research Foundation. Many of Mark's articles on herbs and medicinal plants have appeared in natural health and nutrition magazines, as well as having been published in numerous medical and scientific journals. He has been the recipient of numerous awards in the field of medicinal plants. He is a very popular speaker on herbal issues.
Dr. Andrew Weil (1990-now)
Dr. Andrew Weil has been a practitioner and teacher of integrative medicine for the last 30 years. He states that “It has been his personal mission to drive research, education, and clinical practice to advance a philosophy of health that addresses mind, body, and spirit. He believes that integrative medicine is the future of medicine and health care.”
Dr. Weil has partnered with a skin care company that utilizes various mushrooms for their health-supporting properties. As well as many other natural ingredients to help with skin resiliency among other benefits. He has an amazing website that addresses so many different health and wellness questions with natural options offered to peruse.
Tieraona Low Dog (Today)
A mother, wife, herbalist, educator, author, researcher, and medical doctor, Tieraona has trained hundreds of medical professionals as the Fellowship Director at the University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, chaired dietary supplement expert panels for the United States Pharmacopeia, and has been appointed to numerous scientific advisory boards. In addition, she has authored best-selling books (including 4 published by National Geographic) and written over 50 peer-reviewed articles and 25 book chapters.
Rosemary Gladstar (Today)
Rosemary Gladstar is internationally renowned for her technical knowledge and stewardship in the global herbalist community. She has been learning, teaching, and writing about herbs for over 40 years. Rosemary is the author of twelve books and director of The Science and Art of Herbalism, an in-depth home study course with thousands of students enrolled across the globe.
Tonita Gonzales (Today)
Tonita Gonzales has her own practice at Tonantzin Traditional Healing in Albuquerque and is the director of RAICES (remembering ancestors, inspiring community, empowering self), a collaborative of community education. Tonita is passionate about teaching others to heal themselves. Her practice and research recognize the importance of Culture and Spirituality in all Healing of Mind, Body, and Spirit. She understands that everyone needs to be accountable for their own healing and happiness. People simply need guidance, confidence, awareness, and the tools to meet their goals.
Kieth Robertson (Today)
Keith Robertson owns and operates the Drimlabarra Herb Farm and the Scottish School of Herbal Medicine on the Isle of Arran in Scotland. Drimlabarra is a Vegan sanctuary and retreat center, dedicated to researching planetary health via herbal treatments, diet, cooking, raw food, and practical hands-on green living. Robertson is a well-known teacher of natural medicines and adds some thoughts from an herbalist's perspective.
Danny O’Rawe (Today)
Danny O’Rawe is a traditional herbalist and registered naturopath available in the Belfast area of Ireland. Danny first started learning herbal medicine seriously on a 10-acre smallholding back in the late 1980s, following a few years of dabbling in the field. He established his first herb garden there and learned how to cultivate herbs and forage from nearby fields and hedgerows. What began as a hobby eventually turned into a career.
The Ridgecrest Team! (Today)
Recognize any familiar faces? We wanted to include our wonderful team and credit them for the herbalists that they all are in their hearts and minds. We doing everything in-house here at Ridgecrest and we love what we do, so that means we would love to hear from you! What content have you read from us that you enjoyed? Did you remember the author? We will let them know what you thought too! Checkout Our Team page here.