Getting to the Root of Health

Julie Douglas in her workspace. The certified holistic herbalist improved her health through harvesting wild plants and turning them into medicine.
Portrait by Rachel Pressley

While working on an organic farm in Washington State, Julie Douglas, a holistic herbalist and owner of WildKrafted Kitchen, discovered a deep appreciation for natural remedies. She participated in farmers markets, helped grow herb gardens, and harvested plants like stinging nettle. “This is actually how I got interested in becoming an herbalist,” Douglas tells Bold Life. “I thought, wow, there is food and medicine in the woods.” She immediately began researching native woodland medicinals, learning everything she needed to know about them to make them herself. In 2014, Douglas moved to Asheville to attend an urban-farming school, and soon after, she enrolled in the Blue Ridge School of Herbal Medicine, where she received a certificate in holistic herbalism.

Drying herbs.
Photo by Rachel Pressley

What is your number-one priority as an herbalist?

I look at the body as a whole, using plants and nutrition to heal. I use plants responsibly, harvesting and growing them myself. It’s called wildcrafting. Herbalists go into nature and forage wild plants. I practice ethical foraging — only harvesting plants that are either invasive or [that grow] in abundance. People don’t realize there is so much right outside your door.

Is it all about nutrition?

Well, before working in herbalism, I was struggling with personal health issues and was having a hard time finding transparency, safety, and sustainability in pharmaceuticals and body-care products, so I took it upon myself to heal naturally and I found that at the end of the day, a big part of healing is what you eat and put into your body. 

Julie’s copper still from Portugal, used to make oils.
Photo by Rachel Pressley

Tell me about WildKrafted Kitchen.

I started WildKrafted Kitchen in 2016 after graduating with my certificate in holistic herbalism. I offer body-care products like lotions, salves, hydrosols, toners, oils, and internal-use formulas like tinctures, syrups, elixirs, and more. I also offer sliding-scale herbal consultations. I believe herbal medicine should be accessible to all. 

I feel like herbal remedies are good for your mental health, too …

It’s important to anoint yourself with plants and herbs, connecting with yourself and showing yourself love. It empowers people to take health into their own hands and feel more confident using plants to help heal themselves.

Julie creating a concoction of ingredients.
Photo by Rachel Pressley

How do you sustain your herb use year round?

I organically grow herbs. If I can’t do that, I ethically wildcraft them — and if I can’t do that, I purchase from reputable local or organic farms. Recently, I’ve been picking spring weeds for use — herbs like chickweed, dandelion, cleavers, and violets, which are all lymphatic herbs, all helping to move the lymphatic system. They work well by waking the body up after a long winter.

Jarred herbs for medicinal use.
Photo by Rachel Pressley

Julie Douglas, WildKrafted Kitchen, Ethically Wild Crafted Herbal Medicine. Douglas will vend at the 30th Annual Asheville Herb Festival happening May 3-5 at the WNC Farmers Market (570 Brevard Road, Asheville – for more information, visit ashevilleherbfestival.com). She will also lead a workshop with Gail Slaughter, owner of Mewdlic’s tea shop (66 Main St., Saluda) titled Herbal Medicine Making: An Intro to Herbal Infusions and Tisanes on Thursday, May 9, 4-5pm. For more information, visit wildkraftedkitchen.com or check out WildKrafted Kitchen on Facebook and on Instagram: @wildkrafted_kitchen.

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