The healing power of plants is real—you just need the right blend.
IMAGINE FEELING ENERGIZED AND HEALTHY AS YOU GO ABOUT YOUR BUSY DAY. Then, you come home to a peaceful environment, relax in the evening and settle into a restful and rejuvenating night’s sleep. Sounds dreamy, doesn’t it? By now, we’ve all heard the term “wellness,” and we know that managing stress, anxiety and health concerns amid our demanding schedules is crucial to our overall health. We’ve read about, or maybe even tried, the meditation and yoga retreats, or found ourselves ordering all-natural supplements online in an effort to enter the wellness world— which has grown to be an upwards of $4 trillion industry (Global Wellness Economy Monitor Report). But the truth is that genuinely improving our mental and physical health in our everyday lives, often riddled with back-breaking traffic, work and family drama, an overload of technology, etc., can end up feeling like just that: a dream that’s unattainable down here in our earthly realities.
That’s where Blair Townley comes in. Her business, Wildkraft Herbs, is helping islanders understand that our health and wellness goals are not out of reach. As a western clinical herbalist, Townley offers
a holistic approach to supporting healthy lifestyles, starting with the safe and informed use of medicinal plants that are made into high-potency tinctures, teas and custom formulas.
“Sometimes it’s so overwhelming to go to the health food store and see thousands of powders, capsules and supplements in the herb section,” says Townley, who graduated from the Ohlone Herbal Center in Berkeley, California. “I like to think of myself as a guide who can help people know which plants to use and which not to use.”
Townley is the first to note that herbalists are not doctors, so they do not diagnose diseases, illnesses or conditions, nor prescribe pharmaceutical drugs. What her strength lies in, however, is offering tools to address a wide range of existing health concerns and symptoms, as well as promote an optimal lifestyle over- all. Herbalists also seek to uncover the root causes of imbalances in our bodies, which may be contributing to various health issues. Some of the wide-ranging areas in which Townley offers tools for improvement include stress and anxiety, poor sleep, digestion, auto-immune and respiratory issues, and reproductive health. “I see myself more as a wellness educator, looking at clients’ goals in where they want to be with their health and suggesting ideas on how they might get there,” she says.
Wildkraft Herbs offers one-on-one sessions in which Townley examines a client’s individual needs, as well as their unique body types and characteristics— referred to as body constitutions—to determine the best herbal recommendations. “Certain imbalances or disease states are common for different constitutional types. For example, some people are hot-natured or cold-natured, have oily or dry skin, or are more prone to anxiety or depression. These are just some clues into someone’s body constitution,” she explains. “There are herbs that are generally rebalancing for different body types, and this is based on the energetics of the herbs and the energetic of the imbalance and constitution of the person.”
Just as distinctive are the plants them- selves, Townley points out, so her knowledge allows her to choose the appropriate plant remedy for each concern. “In the broadest sense, I act as a matchmaker
between people and plants. Every plant has a personality, so after talking to someone, I can see what would mix well with their bodies,” she says.
Prior to starting Wildkraft Herbs, Townley worked in advertising sales in the visitor market, but was inspired to pursue a career in herbalism after experiencing her own health crisis, and subsequent journey to healing. Struggling with anxiety, auto-immune issues and other ailments, she found herself in the doctor’s office with a long list of prescription medication in her future. Townley decided she didn’t want to go down that road at the time and started to seek alter- native paths to healing.
Her “aha” moment came from finding that the bitters class of herbs—Oregon grape root, artichoke leaf, orange peel, and gentian are a few examples—greatly improved her acid reflux. Townley also was thrilled to discover the nervine class of herbs, which help to calm the nervous system and thus can aid in tempering everyday stresses. “These are all great tools that I found many people to be underutilizing,” she shares.
Her interest turned into research, then pursuing an education in herbalism and, finally, starting her business. In the past few years since founding Wildkraft Herbs, Townley has evolved her services to include home visits, a critical component to helping people efficiently. Because wellness involves leading a healthy lifestyle overall, it requires more than simply taking your daily dose of herbal remedies. Townley assesses home environment, diet and exercise habits, sleep patterns and more when recommending wellness solutions. “If someone is not sleeping well,” she offers as an example, “we can create a formula that relaxes the body, but they may still have bright lights on in their home, eat late into the evening, and look at bright computer screens. It’s like pushing a rock up a hill if you’re not also addressing these other lifestyle aspects.”
When it comes to the foundation of her business, the herbs and ingredients that go into her tinctures, teas and custom elixirs are organic and responsibly sourced—right down to the alcohol base that is used to make a tincture, or concentrated herbal extract. To make tinctures, alcohol and water act as solvents to extract the constituents of each plant (which determine the medicinal qualities) and produce a shelf-stable liquid. These are not to be confused with essential oils, which, in the most basic sense, go through a distillation process to take on the fragrance of the root plants.
Though Townley makes her own recipes, she calls upon centuries of documented use of medicinal plants to create her products, which are aligned with the western tradition of herbalism. One source of these teachings, though lesser known than the Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic traditions, comes from the Eclectic Medicine movement of the 19th century. Townley says that although there
is some overlap between western and eastern herbalism traditions, they are each distinct and nuanced in their own ways. What appealed to her about the western track is that many of the utilized plants are familiar, from basil and rosemary to lemongrass and ginger.
Every wellness journey with Wildkraft Herbs begins with a two-hour session in the client’s home, along with a starter dose of herbs, if appropriate. Most clients will then follow up with a handful of monthly sessions—for some, that may be all that is needed to attain the desired improvements, while others may wish to continue with ongoing support. Wildkraft Herbs also sells standard blends online—an appealing starting point for many people. Explore Gut Healing Tea for digestive health, Nip It In the Bud tea for immune support, or travel and workaholic survival kits, each with three tincture samplers for comprehensive support.
Townley has grown her business to offer workshops, corporate wellness support, and healthy home assessments to promote positive lifestyles. She’s currently looking to expand her reach by providing home-building consultations to encourage those who are in the building or remodeling process to choose less- toxic construction materials.
Regardless of where her clients are on their wellness journey, Townley says that the best part of her job is getting texts from them about successes and big shifts. “I’m probably just as excited as they are,” she shares. “I know personally how hard and lonely health struggles can be, so it’s really nice to have someone else in it with you for accountability, support or even just to talk to about what you’re going through.” wildkraftherbs.com