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Embracing Herbal Medicine With Jane Barlow Christensen

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There are so many plants in the wild and cultivated spaces that can support our health and wellness. That’s why we should learn to depend more on herbal medicine instead of swiftly seeking medical treatment in times of sickness and disease. In this episode, we hear from Jane Barlow Christensen, a master herbalist and owner of Barlow Herbal Specialties. She explores how to identify healing herbs and plants in the wild and cultivate them in your own backyard to achieve better health without breaking the bank. Jane also opens up about how herbal medicine brought significant transformation in her life, testifying to its wonderful efficacy.

 

About Guest:

Care More Be Better | Jane Barlow Christensen | Herbal MedicineJane Barlow Christensen is a master herbalist known for her work with herbal remedies and natural healing.  She is the owner of Barlow Herbal Specialties, a company that focuses on offering herbal products.  Jane has a passion for teaching people about the benefits of medicinal herbs and how they can be integrated into daily life for health and wellness.  Her knowledge and expertise come from both her personal experiences and her family legacy in the world of herbal medicine.

 

She is the author of “Be Your Own Shaman,” a book dedicated to teaching people how to easily utilize plant medicine in our everyday lives. She believes that each of us is responsible for ourselves and the love, joy, spiritual and physical health that we experience.  She is the 2nd oldest of 14 kids and grew up in rural Idaho.  Jane has two grown sons and two grandchildren.

 

Guest LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jane-barlow-christensen-3301161a/

Guest Website: www.barlowherbal.com

Guest Social:

https://youtube.com/@barlowherbal

https://instagram.com/barlowherbal

https://www.facebook.com/barlowherbal

 

Show Notes: – Raw Video

Looking Back – 02:37

Now, as we get started in our conversation today, I’d really love for you to tell your personal family story as you were brought up in a somewhat non-traditional perspective as the second oldest of 14 children.

 

Traditional Medicine – 06:37

Getting back to this question of health care in America, how do you see herbs and natural products serving us better or potentially helping us to augment our personal health and manage our personal health care?

 

Book Architecture – 14:08

Can you talk to me about the architecture of the book and why perhaps you included some of these particular plants?

 

Be Your Own Shaman – 16:49

Now, I also wanted to connect to something else just with the title of the book, because the term shaman has been coming up more and more in recent culture.

 

Sharing Cultures – 18:36

I personally have heard people saying, oh, I’m speaking to my shaman about this.

 

Embracing Herbal Medicine – 22:35

You’ve mentioned in other podcasts that I’ve heard you on the importance of getting your herbs fresh.

 

Unfamiliar Herbs – 31:15

I wonder, you know, as we talk about natural health and wellness, if there are a couple of herbs that you wanted to highlight from your book that people might be able to engage with in a new way.

 

Barlow Herbal And Medicine Cabinet – 37:53

I wondered, given that you also have this company, Barlow Herbal, that you resurrected after your father had passed and now this company is living on in its second life under your tutelage.

 

Facilitated Plant Medicine Journey – 49:25

Well, so let me just finish this very last piece.

 

Closing Words – 55:40

I have so enjoyed this conversation and I would love to invite you back.

 

Episode Wrap-Up – 58:09

To find out more about Jane Barlow Christensen, visit the links that we provide and show notes.

 

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Embracing Herbal Medicine With Jane Barlow Christensen

Welcome to another interview episode of the show. You’ve likely heard about trends like foraging and creating urban gardens and herbal apothecaries. We’ve even covered topics like that on this show as we explored guerilla gardening and interviewed the founder of FallingFruit.org. This would engage you in foraging in your local environment.

Do you really understand how and why the many plants in our wild and our cultivated spaces can support your health and wellness? Would you know how to identify these plants in the wild? How might you build your own backyard or apothecary garden? With rising healthcare costs that affect all of us, do you know how to use herbs that you grow or wild forage yourself to achieve better health without breaking the bank?

To help us answer these questions, I’m joined by master herbalist and author of Be Your Own Shaman, Jane Barlow-Christensen. She is the Owner of Barlow Herbal Specialties, a company that focuses on offering herbal solutions to help your body achieve optimal wellness. Jane’s passion, knowledge, and expertise come from both her personal experiences and her family legacy in the world of herbal medicine. She believes that each of us is responsible for ourselves and the love, joy, spiritual, and physical health that we experience. With that, Jane Barlow, welcome to the show.

It’s great to have you.

Looking Back

Thank you so much. I’m happy to be here. We met not long ago. I’m excited to be here.

As we get started in our conversation, I’d really love for you to tell your personal family story as you were brought up in a somewhat non-traditional perspective as the 2nd oldest of 14 children.

That alone sets me apart from the majority of human beings. I grew up in the ‘60s and ‘70s when maybe bigger families were a little more common, but I also grew up in a very religious family where big families were encouraged. What made my childhood unique was that my dad was a medicinal botanist. His PhD was learning, studying, and writing about why plant medicine is so important.

He used to geek out on what made a plant have the medicinal properties that it has and how you identify it. We’d be driving somewhere as a family and we would see a plant that he wanted to identify. He would pull over and we’d all pile out. There’d be this little group of kids and my dad. He’d be like, “Now this plant, you use the leaves, the stems, and sometimes the flowers. You collect it this time of day, We can take it home and make it into a poultice or a salve.” This was super normal for me and my siblings.

What happened as we got older, especially as teenagers, is we were embarrassed. We shunned everything. We were like, “Don’t bring people home,” because there were lots of stuff growing and things curing in jars. What happened as adults for most of us is that we started realizing what a gift it was to grow up with this kind of knowledge as being part of our childhood. It was very non-traditional. We didn’t spend a lot of time in the doctor’s offices except for when one of my sisters had her appendix out or if there was a broken arm. For the most part, we didn’t go to the doctor. It was very untraditional.

As a child who grew up on a hippy commune and didn’t even go to the hospital when my horse dragged me through barbed wire fencing, cutting my leg open, I get the feels. It’s farm life. It was like, “That’s not that bad. Put a little cream on it. Put a Band-Aid on it. It’ll be okay.” That was the ‘60s and ‘70s from a cultural perspective too.

It seems like in this world, if you get a scratch, you go into the ER or you’re going to the doc-in-a-box. This also impacts the rising costs of our healthcare across the nation. One part of that is cultural, and one part of that is access. We also have this mandate that we’re all supposed to have health insurance. Even a single person on the Affordable Care Act is spending close to $500 a month for their health insurance. That number is something that’s hard for families to reach when so many can’t afford a $400 emergency expense. I feel like getting back to a little bit more of that perspective where we manage our own health is going to help us better as we go forward.

Before we dive too much into health, I need to mention this show is for entertainment and education purposes only. We’re not here to treat, diagnose, or cure. If you have a specific ailment that you’re working to treat, you should be in the care of a health professional in some capacity. What we’re talking about in this episode is more general. We’re trying to give you tools to help you on your journey.

Traditional Medicine

For those that are curious about health and wellness, this is to be able to give them a tool like your book to use as a bit of a textbook to help you identify plants so you’re looking at the right plants and then using them appropriately. Getting back to this question of healthcare in America, how do you see herbs and natural products serving us better or potentially helping us to augment our personal health and manage our personal healthcare?

Herbal medicine should be called traditional medicine. I really believe that our modern medicine should be called an alternative. That has been my thought process as a person who’s been into natural medicine not just since childhood, but I’ve raised both my children and I have grandchildren. I’ve got a lot of experience under my belt. It doesn’t necessarily rub me wrong, but it’s so interesting that we call modern medicine traditional medicine.

I really believe that there’s a rise in interest in, “How do I take an herb and get rid of a headache?” or, “How do I take a different tea and get rid of some nausea I might have?” I believe that human beings want to empower themselves with knowledge that is how human beings have been taking care of themselves for thousands of years. Modern medicine should be our alternative.

Human beings want to empower themselves with knowledge. This is how we managed to take care of ourselves for thousands of years.

As you said in your disclaimer, where we shine is in trauma care and with acute infections and acute situations. We need to not throw out the baby with the bath water. We need to say, “I live in this beautiful modern world with all of this medical technology that can make my life better and can save my life at certain times.” In fact, a few years ago, I had to have a full knee replacement because I had a bad water ski accident. I’m not going to try to heal my knee with some herbs. That doesn’t make any sense.

They can accelerate your healing after the fact, and then you know how to use them. There’s this part that we don’t always talk about where they don’t need to be completely separate. They can be used in conjunction to support your total health. In fact, they are typically more effective when you manage your health that way.

Many people are used to putting Arnica on a sprain. Where does that come from but herbal medicine? It’s important to draw our attention to examples that people are going to be familiar with along the way. I’ve even heard, for instance, people using things like tea to help with headaches. They even use a simple peppermint tea to help with headaches, digestive concerns, or an upset tummy. What do you think are those entry-level herbs that people might already be familiar with that they could engage with as they’re getting started and potentially on their journey to become their own shaman?

This is one reason I included in the book a huge group of spices like rosemary, thyme, garlic, ginger, and different herbs that people are familiar with, even basil. These are really familiar. People would be surprised at the medicinal benefits of some of these plants that are so packed and full of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. Not only do they flavor up our food, but they’re also incredibly good for us.

In fact, one of my favorites, which people might not realize, is feverfew. Feverfew is a beautiful perennial plant. It’s in the Daisy family. It’s one of the plants in my book. It has these beautiful white flowers with these little yellow buttons in the center. It’s not only beautiful in your flower garden that is a perennial so it comes up every year, but you can take the leaves and steep up a tea. It’ll go after a headache, but it’s also good for digestion. It has some anti-inflammatory properties. It’s packed full of antioxidants. Not only are you taking something that tastes delicious, but it’s so good for you. To me, a really good place to start is with teas and spices that you add to your food.

As far as growing feverfew, that’s something that grows well here in the United States. It does augment a garden. I have to say. I come from a family that is also deeply steeped in botanicals because my father is a landscape architect. One of the trends that he bucks is this mono-color garden where people will say, “I want to only have two colors of flowers in my garden.” He has always leaned into what grows naturally locally, what is drought-tolerant, or what flourishes in your local environment, and then leaned into those plants.

In my garden, I personally grow some basic herbs. I grow rosemary, oregano, and basil. I also grow lemon balm because I like it in tea. I grow lemon verbena and different sages, which I don’t consume, but I love for their beauty and so do my hummingbirds. I call them my hummingbirds. They fight over my garden.

I love that.

It’s a multicolored garden. There are white flowers. There are blue flowers. There are the hot lips of the white and pink combination sage. There is yellow. It has all the colors. It’s like a rainbow garden. It’s also friendly to the butterflies so that they have a corridor to come up through their migratory path given that I’m in California and the monarch comes through here. It’s important that we think about the plants that we grow and engage with.

To your point, also have something that you enjoy. My son, when he’s sick, goes into the garden and picks mint. He will make fresh tea with that. He likes to do that. He’ll mix it with some local honey that we have to soothe his throat. It’s something that I don’t have to tell him to do. He’s nine years old and he wants to. He looks at it as a ritual. It’s something that he enjoys. I know that it’s supporting his health at the same time.

Perhaps this is a little non-traditional, but I got your book in the mail. My son picked it up and said he wanted to read it each day. I had shared this with you, but he wanted to read page by page. We started off with the first herb in your book, which is Iris versicolor. That one in particular is blue flag. I didn’t know what to call that before.

Book Architecture

He was reading about it going, “Mommy, can I go pick some iris and eat it?” I’m like, “No.” We need to be careful now about my nine-year-old, not thinking he can go and eat every herb in this book. This one in particular can be poisonous when ingested but is used as a poultice to help you heal. I found it really interesting that you included particular flowers that are very common in our area but could also be poisonous if not used correctly. Can you talk to me about the architecture of the book and why perhaps you included some of these particular plants?

Yes. 100%. When I was a senior in high school, which was many years ago, my dad wrote a book on medicinal botany. It contained 48 plants. It was called From the Shepherd’s Purse. He passed away many years ago. He has been gone a long time. The whole time that I’ve been running my herbal business and doing what I do, almost weekly for more than two decades, I have people ask me, “You need to republish your dad’s book. This needs to come back.” You could go into Amazon and it might cost you $200 or $500 because it’s no longer in print.

A couple of years ago, I thought, “I need to not only update my dad’s book, but I need to add the content and add some more to it.” I took his original 48 plants, which included the blue flag. Honestly, it’s not something I use on a regular basis myself, but I wanted to honor my dad’s legacy and I wanted to update the information from his original work. One of the things that I know he did talk about was making a second volume on poisonous and edible plants so that there would be more information about it.

There’s always room for expansion and knowledge. I really love that you’re keeping a close eye on what your children are reading because this is important. You’re right. You can’t say, “This is a pretty flower.” Your son sounds very smart. Kids are smarter than we give them credit for. To your point, that is a very good point. That’s the reason it’s in the book. It’s one of my dad’s originals.

Also, using some things topically. They can’t be ingested. It’s being real about that and making it plain and clear. Each herb that you’ve covered in the book isn’t like a chapter. It’s not super long or deep. It’s a couple of pages and gives you that top-line perspective on how it can be used. I refer to it a little bit as a primer textbook when I’m talking to my son about it. If we wanted to learn a lot more about how Iris could be used, we’d be digging into much more research and how this was used traditionally. I don’t know if it would ever be used in tea, but probably not.

I agree.

Be Your Own Shaman

That is really wonderful. I also wanted to connect something else with the title of the book. The term shaman has been coming up more in this culture, especially with the use of medicinal mushrooms and ayahuasca ceremonies that seem to be all the rage. Why did you choose to position your book with this particular title?

Part of it was because it does seem to be a bit of a trend as far as using the word. One of the first titles that I was thinking of was Be Your Own Healer or Be Your Own Doctor. There is a chapter in the book on sacred plants and psychedelics. It’s chapter fourteen. There are seven plants. I don’t have any preparation methods or dosing on any of those plants because, to me, there is a whole different category when it comes to plant medicine on that level. There needs to be a lot of expertise. There needs to be care. There needs to be intention. I believe a lot of them take facilitation.

Care More Be Better | Jane Barlow Christensen | Herbal Medicine
Herbal Medicine: Plant medicine requires a lot of expertise and a high level of care.

 

I really believe that at the base level of picking that title, it was, “We need to learn how to be our own healer.” A shaman is traditionally in a lot of Native American cultures. I have three adopted Native American siblings that I grew up with. They were part of the Eastern Shoshone tribe. They were two, three, and four years old when they were adopted into our family. I was four. There was a deep love of Native American plant medicine with my dad and his knowledge and then my siblings. To me, it felt like it was a good title and it could encompass what was happening in the world.

Sharing Cultures

I personally have heard people saying, “I’m speaking to my shaman about this.” I’m like, “You have a medicine doctor who refers to themselves as a shaman.” It’s new to me in a way even though it’s an old term because I hadn’t heard it as much until probably the last couple of years. I feel like this could partially be seen as cultural appropriation. I wondered if you had any perspectives on that.

Cultures are meant to share with each other. Especially growing up with three siblings who are full-blooded Eastern Shoshone, I never looked at them as “You’re a little Brown person and I’m a little White person.” To me, they were our siblings. They were fully adopted and embraced. Everything my parents did with us, they were not treated differently. This is what makes human beings that have different cultures and belief systems. What makes us unite as one is when we can share our cultures.

Human beings have different cultures and belief systems. We are united through the sharing of our cultures.

I’ve had a couple of people be a little bit triggered by the title of my book. I found it really interesting. I wasn’t offended. I believe that we get offended too easily in this world. I believe that cultures are to share. I don’t think they’re meant to say, “I can’t call my book a shaman because I’m a White girl.” That doesn’t feel right in my soul. I feel like I can share cultures that maybe I didn’t come from in this particular life. That’s a very good question. I’ve never had anybody ask me that.

I have to be sensitive too to my audience. This show is about social impact and sustainability. I also have a sibling who’s half Native American. She doesn’t always love it when I share things about Native American culture and has felt like I am appropriating the culture in some way to even talk about it when my perspective has been that I am helping to raise awareness.

It’s important that we talk about the issues that affect us all, especially when you’re talking about colonialism or adoption methods that were very common in the past where young native people from around the world were adopted by families. In this world, there’s less of that and, in fact, adoption communities who try to speak out against adopting cross-culture, which I have also thought was interesting.

My background is in cultural anthropology. I studied anthropology at UC Santa Cruz. I did archeology digs around the globe from France to California. My background has echoed this throughout my life as an adult person. Spending over twenty years in the field of health and nutrition specifically focused on herbs, Omega-3s, and then total nutrition with vitamins, supplements, proteins, and things along these lines, these are the sorts of things I’ve often thought about.

We borrow medicine from cultures around the world. We borrow food medicine from cultures around the world. We share knowledge. It’s not because I love a good curry that it should be seen as appropriating this culture’s food. It’s part of the culture that I have developed with my family and my food culture. These are things that we need to think about and talk about. We also need to respect the heritage. There’s so much amazing herbal medicine that comes from around the globe as well.

Agreed.

Embracing Herbal Medicine

You’ve mentioned in other podcasts that I’ve heard you on the importance of getting your herbs fresh. The freshest way to get them is to procure them yourself, right?

Yes.

If you’re growing them in your garden and know when to harvest them, then you are going to get the absolute freshest herbs that you could even dream of. What would you have to say about that? What is the best method in your mind for leaning into this herbal medicine, building your own apothecary, and becoming your own shaman?

We need to take it one step at a time and realize that no matter where you are or where you live, you can grow a pot of something. Even if you live in an apartment, you can use some pots on your balcony, or you can use a couple of pots in your kitchen sink or your kitchen window. There’s always a way. Here’s another thing that has taken a huge rise. It’s our communities, like community gardens.

I live in Salt Lake City. I don’t live out in the rural part. I live in the city, and I live on a street. It has been cultivated over the years that I’ve lived here, which has been a long time, the community where there are 3 or 4 people that have different fruit trees. They grow different things in their herb garden. I have a neighbor who has 40 chickens, the person who lives right next to me. There are people who have a couple of goats a few houses down.

I live on a pretty unique street that’s in the middle of a city, but we share. There are things that I grow in my garden that I know about and I share with other people even on my own street. If we realize we can grow fresh things no matter where we live or what our situation is, there’s that first, and then we need to get to know our neighbors. We need to build a community because then, we share.

Care More Be Better | Jane Barlow Christensen | Herbal Medicine
Herbal Medicine: If we can grow fresh things, no matter where we live or what our situation is, we get to know our neighbors. We build a community when we share.

 

I have a peach tree, an apple tree, and an apricot tree. I have a neighbor who has a walnut tree and plum trees. I don’t want to have all those other trees, but we share. We have so much. There’s a nonprofit here in Salt Lake that will come to your house and they’ll pick all your extra fruit. You still pay a fee, which is great. I’m so happy to be able to pay them so it doesn’t go to waste. They donate it to the food bank. They get to take part in what they pick. It’s easier than we think to be able to grow your own fresh stuff so that you get all the benefits.

I mentioned in my opening a not-for-profit called FallingFruit.org. Ethan Welty is the Founder of that company. They do an interesting thing where you can go and log the fruiting trees or things along those lines that are in your neighborhood on public lands so people can harvest them. One of the things that I love, which you’ll never find on a grocery store shelf, is the strawberry tree. They’re these little prickly little fruits that are golden underneath but with redness on the outside.

They’re very high in Vitamin C. They’re delicious. They don’t keep well. You pick them at the peak of ripeness and eat them right then. They’re divine. There are so many of them in my neighborhood, so I went ahead and logged them somewhere at the industrial park that has my medical offices as well because they’re commonly planted as ornamentals.

In our own yard, we grow a lot of plums, but frankly, the squirrels and birds end up getting more of them than we do. We also have lemon trees. I have a funny story about this. My kids had picked all the lemons when they were green and thrown them on the ground for fun. I had made this recipe in my kitchen which was a lentil stew with a lot of Indian spices and it called for lemon.

I didn’t have any, so I walked down the street to my neighbor’s tree who I didn’t think was home at the time. I knew he wouldn’t mind. I grabbed a lemon and then he came out the door and was like, “Did you steal a lemon from my tree?” I said, “I did. You caught me.” A little later that evening, I came back to his house, knocked on the door, and gave him some of the soup that I made with half a lemon that I had stolen from his tree. There are comical ways that you can also engage in this. If I thought he was home, I would’ve knocked on his door. It is what it is.

Borrowing a lemon is better than borrowing a cup of sugar, right?

No kidding. These are things that are naturally growing. Generally speaking, here, we don’t really have to water them extra once their roots are established. You’ll get more fruit if you do, but you don’t necessarily need to. You can do dry farming. The plums are going off. I’ve got pluots and Santa Rose plum. They’re not self-fruitful, so we have to have two. Unfortunately, in 2024, I was gone for part of the fruiting. What happened was that one of the branches got so heavy that it broke. This beautiful branch of green plums is bending to the ground.

There’s a benefit in collaborating with the community for that exact reason too. Sometimes, it’s a little bit of work to maintain a fruit tree. If I had thought ahead a little bit, I might have asked a neighbor to check in on them for me. This is one of the stories that gets us engaged with the local community because food is something that can be collaborative.

If you are in a space where you can plant and your neighbors can plant, then you can do a little bit of cross-collaboration like, “I’m going to grow string beans. You’re growing tomatoes. Do you want to do some trade this year?” They’ll be open to it. You’re going to save bank for one because these are rising in cost. Secondarily, it’s going to be super fresh, picked at the peak of ripeness, and will be delicious. I really encourage people to engage a little bit more in the community and if you have a surplus to engage with FallingFruit.org, logging it, and/or working with the local community that will come and harvest your trees. That’s amazing.

I love that. My brother-in-law and his wife live in Manhattan. There are tons of community gardens all over the city. They live in an apartment. They don’t have the space, so they participate in this community garden. Even anywhere in a city, one of the most important things that we can learn is how to feed ourselves. There is a lot of empowerment in that, but then there’s so much more dense nutrition. We’re all realizing that an important piece of being a human being is getting the most bang for our buck.

When I grow a couple of tomato plants or squash, my husband is a cook in our family, so he takes the squash blossoms and ends up making the whole summer these beautiful dishes out of squash blossoms because we get so much squash off of one plant. You know how squash grows. If you see one underneath a leaf and it’s big, you’re like, “I’m never going to eat this because it’s too tough. No one will take it if I give it to them.” Food is so abundant, especially food that you grow in your garden.

I’ve had a zucchini that was as big as a thigh. I tried to salvage it by baking it. It wasn’t very good. It had no flavor.

You have to get them when they’re little.

It still looks fantastic, but it becomes ornamental at that point.

It’s like, “Look what came out of my garden.”

It’s like the pumpkins that are 1,000 pounds and win the award for the largest pumpkin at the local harvest fair or something like that.

You can’t eat them when they’re that big.

They’re not good. It’s the little pumpkins that make good pumpkin pie.

True.

Unfamiliar Herbs

I wonder as we talk about natural health and wellness if there are a couple of herbs that you wanted to highlight from your book that people might be able to engage with in a new way that they may not have heard of before. Since we’ve talked about some of the familiar, let’s get into the unfamiliar.

I have a couple of mushrooms in there. They’re different than herbs, but mushrooms have also made a huge surge.

I saw lion’s mane in the beginning chapter.

Lion’s mane is a culinary mushroom. There’s a grocery store here in Salt Lake City that’s a little bit of a higher end. They have more things that aren’t common in grocery stores. You can get foraged lion’s mane mushrooms and cook with them.

Which health food store is that?

It’s a local Utah grocery store called Harmons.

I know Harmons.

There are a couple of them that sometimes will have lion’s mane mushrooms. Lion’s mane is good for your brain. It stimulates nerve growth factors. It’s been very well-studied. I thought it would be really cool to put in something that is important for cognitive health and for people to realize, “I can cook with this.” My husband loves cooking with it.

Also, there’s a plant that is not very well known, but this was a plant my dad studied for 30 years. I feel like this is a plant that I talk about all the time. It’s a plant called Lomatium. My dad didn’t have it in his original book. We’ve had people ask us over the years, “Why didn’t your dad include this?” This is one of the things that he was known for.

This is a Native American plant. There are about 10 species of it. It is only wildcrafted, so you can’t cultivate it. That’s what makes it a little bit less known. The species we use is called Lomatium dissectum. The variation is called multifida, which only means something if you’re trying to go out and wildcraft it or harvest it. You should do it not only sustainably, but go into places where you have permission on private property. We own 40 acres where it grows at this point. If it’s on public lands, make sure you step through the proper hoops to get a permit to wildcraft. It’s great to forage, go out, and learn how to identify plants, but make sure you’re doing it not only sustainably but with the proper permits and permission.

This is in particular very important when we talk about mushrooms too. In my local community or in the Pacific Northwest, and I’m in Santa Cruz County and there are some redwood forests here, people will overharvest them. If you’re leaving behind only about 10% of what you see and then somebody else comes through and takes the rest of it, then there’s not much for it to recover from.

In the Pacific Northwest, because the Morel mushroom has become so popular, that one has been subject to a lot of overharvesting as well. We need to be mindful and educate other people in our community around that front as well because sometimes, people don’t know. They’re out there and are like, “Look at what I came across,” and don’t understand that it could mean that they don’t come back next year.

It’s all so important. This, to me, is a really important piece of the whole puzzle not just for the survivability of a species but also the survivability of our species. They figured there are about 3 million mushrooms and they’ve identified about 13,000 of them. Only about 12 or 13 are medicinal mushrooms. Part of those include edible mushrooms like shiitake and maitake. I love Turkey tail and chaga. The thing is if you misidentify because there are so many species, you could not only wipe out the species if you overharvest. If you consume them, you could hurt yourself or you could possibly not be alive.

That’s pretty dramatic, right?

Yeah. It can be dramatic.

In our local community, chanterelles grow a lot here and things like that. It’s a golden chanterelle. They’re also best picked before they get completely blown out. You have to know when, and you have to know what they look like. Be sure you’ve identified the thing that you think you have. Some of them are good at mimicking one another.

There’s a reason that you can refer to people who really know mushrooms as mycologist. In fact, I had the founder of Om Mushroom on this show a little bit ago. She had shared that you pretty much need to cook all mushrooms. I didn’t know that that was a worry. I typically eat my lion’s mane raw when I get it. What do you tend to advise people to do? I’m curious about what your perspective is.

There’s not a right or wrong way because I like raw mushrooms. It depends on what they are too. I’m very tuned in to not just my own intuition about what I eat, but I feel like I’m tuned into the actual plant or the mushroom. We have an energetic connection with plants that have been stomped out of us a little bit. It sounds like you have this as well where you intuitively eat. We need to educate ourselves. I prefer my lion’s mane cooked only because of the taste.

Care More Be Better | Jane Barlow Christensen | Herbal Medicine
Herbal Medicine: We have an energetic connection with plants. It was just stomped out of us a little bit.

 

I have never tried it cooked.

It’s really good. It depends. It’s almost like anything that you cook and if you saute it with different things. One of my favorite ways is to saute it with a little bit of garlic, olive oil, and then salt and pepper. It’s super yummy. You can make it crispy. I like raw lion’s mane as well. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong way. Some of it can be individual. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong way to do mushrooms like that.

Barlow Herbal And Medicine Cabinet

You also have this company, Barlow Herbal, that you resurrected after your father passed. This company is living on its second life under your tutelage. I wondered if you could share a little bit about what your medicine cabinet looks like as somebody who has been so deeply steeped in herbs throughout her life.

It is quite extensive at this point. My dad passed away many years ago. I restarted his company four years after he passed. He had a line of what were mostly tinctures. He did do a couple of capsule things and some injectables, but he did mostly tinctures. He developed this where there’s no heat and there’s no pressure. It’s a pretty simple extraction technique to make a tincture. A tincture is technically, and I’m sure you probably know this, an alcohol-based extraction. This is especially true with root herbs because the constituents are so much more viable when they’re extracting alcohol.

If you were to take a look at this point, my apothecary, I have a detached building behind my house and we don’t park any cars in it. It’s my building. It’s 2,500 square feet. There’s an office, which is upstairs. Downstairs, I have a couple of hundred things, mostly herb tinctures and then blends of things. A family member can say to me, “I’m feeling this way. Can you blend up something for me?” or, “My liver needs a little bit more support.” I have taken this to a pretty high level.

This is how I also formulate. A couple of years ago, I brought out a tincture for kidneys. What I do is I’ll get the raw herbs. I don’t wildcraft most of the herbs. I have different sourcing. I’ll tincture them mostly individually, and then I’ll start working with what is the percentage I need for this plant and another plant. I have this whole process where I formulate. That adds to what I have in my own personal apothecary.

It’s pretty fun at this point because I’m so familiar with what they do and what I have. One of my siblings might call me up and say, “Can I get a tincture of lemon balm?” I have it. I pump them out a bottle, put a dropper on it, throw a handmade label on it, and send it off to them. It has reached a super fun point where, to me, it does feel like I have the ability to be a shaman but in the Whitest of worlds. I’m a White shaman and I will own that.

Care More Be Better | Jane Barlow Christensen | Herbal Medicine
Be Your Own Shaman: Heal Yourself and Others with 21st-Century Energy Medicine

I appreciate the candor. It’s helpful for people to understand what you do differently than some of the other brands that they might be familiar with. Let’s talk about the spectrum of them. You might have something like the flower essence remedies of Bach homeopathics or Boiron who makes homeopathics, which has a minuscule amount of an echo of the actives in it. You have brands like Herb Farm that are in most health food stores and then everything in between. Herb Farm has a lot of single herb tinctures. That’s their master house. You go in and be your own apothecary in this way, but there’s not a ton of blends. What you’re doing differently with Barlow given your family history and how you see what you do is standing out in some way.

There are a couple of things. First of all, there’s a very high intention behind what we do. It’s not that we want to be on every health food store shelf. In fact, you won’t find us there. When my dad was alive, he sold only to practitioners. They were naturopaths, acupuncturists, and chiropractors. It was mostly natural medicine and functional medicine doctors.

When I restarted his company after he passed, that was really where I started too because a lot of these doctors were like, “We need these in our practice.” My dad was alive right at the beginning of when the internet started, so he wasn’t able to have the reach. He used to do a ton of talk radio, especially when he was promoting his book. He would get on these big 50-watt radio stations. They would be a one-hour show. It was audible and only radio. People would call in with questions.

It’s like WOR radio in New York City. It’s like one of the big ones, right?

Exactly.

They get enough span that you can hear it in Philadelphia from New York City. This is so people can get a perspective on what that means. It covers a large region that’s typically quite populous because you don’t have a 50-watt station in a smaller community. It’d be Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle, New York, or maybe Miami. This is to give people that frame of reference.

That’s a very good point. That was a long time ago, so he would have a big reach. What would happen is as he started talking and answering questions not just from the host of the radio show but people who would call in, they were so hungry for knowledge even many years ago that the show would go on for 2 or 3 hours. It was supposed to only be an hour because people couldn’t get it.

My intention for restarting my dad’s company was first of all, I was in Corporate America and I wasn’t happy. Both my boys graduated from high school, so I was like, “I can afford to step out of Corporate America. I don’t need to make a ton of money. I want to be happy.” I knew that my dad’s legacy needed to be carried on.

What happened, and I’m going to go into this in a nutshell because I could talk about this for a long time, is about 5 years in, one of my own 1st formulas. I did a ton of research on this plant, Lomatium, that I talked about. For some people, when they use it for the first time, there’s a potential for a one-time full-body detox rash.

It’s more extreme than something like niacin flush.

I’ve seen, at this point, thousands of this rash. It’s not a dangerous rash. It is very intense for some people. It only happens once. It’s very classic. This is something I could talk about. What happened during those first few years as I started going and talking to people off the ledge from this rash is I started collaborating with other doctors who had been friends of my dad’s. What we found is if you support and detox the liver, it prevents the rash in most people. Your skin is your largest organ. Let’s make your liver healthy so it can take the majority of any type of detoxing that you need to do. I started thinking, “I need to formulate something as a precursor to trying Lomatium by itself.

I’m imagining that that would include something like milk thistle, maybe artichoke, or something along those lines.

I didn’t use milk thistle in this one. I used dandelion root, which is very similar to the liver as milk thistle. I also used red root. I used vervain. I used a little bit of sarsaparilla. This is where this is really unique, and it took me a long time to talk about it. I’m not a botanist like my dad. I’m all experience. This is what I grew up with. I’m feeling a little bit unworthy. I was like, “I’m not my dad, but I can research, read, do a lot of due diligence, and collaborate with other people.” I did that.

You suffered from Imposter syndrome before we called it that.

Yes, 1,000%. It took me a little while to get out of that. I’m fully out of that now, but several years ago it was like, “Okay.” I sat down with all of my research. I’m a big meditator. I’m a person who believes in connecting with our higher self because we are full of wisdom that we don’t tap into very often. I sat down in a quiet space with all of my research and thought, “I need to formulate something that people can take prior to taking this plant, Lomatium, that will help their body be supported and detoxed and can prevent the rash.” I sat with all my notes. I turned to a blank page and started writing. Within ten minutes, I had this most beautiful formula. This has been out for 15 or 16 years, this blend. At first, I sat my pen down and was like, “Okay.” I was covered in chills.

I’m covered in chills hearing about it.

I didn’t tell anybody about this for a few years because of that imposter syndrome thing. People started taking it and it did exactly what it was designed to do. Some people would still get the rash, but it took it down from about 10% down to about 3% of people who would get this rash. It turned out to be very effective. It’s still one of the most popular things we make.

I’d love to experience that and also the detoxifying power of this amazing herb. I’ve mostly given up drinking alcohol too. I feel like this is the time to cleanse my body of all of that damage.

Facilitated Plant Medicine Journey

That’s so perfect. I love that. Let me finish this very last piece. It’s because of this whole interest in psychedelics and sacred plants that about three years ago, I had my first facilitated plant medicine journey. On this journey, my dad came in. He came in and said to me, “I’ve been helping you. I’ve been inspiring you.” I was like, “‘That’s a confirmation.” I haven’t second-guessed it for a long time, but I’ve brought out some formulas where I do all my due diligence and do all my research. It’s not like I’m going to go sit somewhere and go, “I’m ready for the downloads. Give me inspiration, dad.” I never do that.

What happens is when I sit with my research and I go into my flow space, I don’t care how long it takes me. It feels like my pen has a life of its own. This formula drops in. I have this beautiful lung blend that’s been out for about ten years. Some of the things that I’ve watched people transform their lung health with have made me so humble. My formulation method is unique. I was a little bit embarrassed to share for the first time. Now, I’m not.

It’s a beautiful story.

The alcohol thing, can I touch on that super quickly?

Yes, please.

My husband is a cook. He’s a chef. He’s beyond talented. For all the years, and we’ve been married 25 years, he pairs nice food with a nice glass of wine. On a Wednesday night, he makes this beautiful meal and is like, “Here’s the perfect glass of wine to go with it.” For a lot of years, I would take breaks. I’m like, “I’m going to not drink for 100 days,” because it doesn’t resonate with what I’m trying to accomplish in the world. I need full-on 1000% clarity. Alcohol is a neurotoxin. We all know that.

It damages the gut microbiota. There are a lot of reasons.

With alcohol, we’re taught it’s good for us. They’re like, “It’s good for longevity. Drink red wine because of resveratrol,” and all the things that come at us that we know are not true.

It’s not founded in science and not proven.

It’s all founded in good marketing and all of that. I don’t judge anyone. I drank for a long time. In November 2023 right before Thanksgiving, I said to myself, “You keep saying you want to stop drinking alcohol. I’m done.” I swapped it out for tea. I haven’t had any alcohol since last November 2023. It has been easy. I feel amazing. I’ve always slept well and felt like I’m on top of my game, but I’m in my 60s and I feel amazing.

You look amazing too. I personally have been on that trend myself. I’ve been limiting my alcohol but going mostly plant-based, reading so much research, and working to dispel my prior knowledge because I was under the impression that in order to maintain healthy muscle mass, I needed to be eating animal meats or animal proteins. I have completely disproven that at this point. I’ve been off of them since January 2024.

I’ve put on a pound of muscle. I’m stronger now than I was then. I do assisted pull-ups because I’ve been forever on this goal of, “I want to do a pull-up without any assisted weight.” I went from having 70 pounds of assisted weight to 50 in the course of a month. That means that I’m lifting twenty pounds more like that while maintaining the same weight. It’s not like I dropped twenty pounds. That would also be amazing because I’m battling some of what potentially is perimenopause. I’m almost 48. I don’t have other symptoms, but I’m finding it a little harder to get rid of belly fat and stuff like that. I am transitioning to being fully plant-based, doing that, being able to maintain that energy, and sleeping better.

The thing I’ve also noticed is I had to adjust my thyroid medication. I was overstimulated. I know my body well enough to be able to make that shift, but I haven’t been able to get completely off of my thyroid medication since I was diagnosed as hypothyroid. I was 29 at the time, so this was several years ago. I’m acknowledging that perhaps because I’m 2/3 of the medication I was on a few months ago, with this style of eating and not consuming alcohol, I may be able to get off of this thing and be prescription drug-free forever.

I can give you some tips too off-camera.

I would love to hear them, but this is about personal journeys here. We’re not recommending diagnosing. This is about when you really start listening to your body and start acknowledging how you feel when you eat something. One of the ways to acknowledge that is to journal. You don’t need to necessarily be channeling from the ether though. Sometimes, we get there too and we gain this new knowledge.

It could be journaling about how you feel on a daily basis and documenting the foods you eat. How did you feel an hour later? How did you feel before? How hungry were you? These sorts of things, like asking yourself some basic questions, can help you to learn to listen to the signals that your body’s giving you and to eat by habit, like, “It’s this time. These are the things I eat,” and then not think about it twice, right?

Yeah. You’re spot on.

Closing Words

I have so enjoyed this conversation. I would love to invite you back. I would also love to experiment personally with some of your products, enjoy them, and see where we can take this conversation from there. At this point in the conversation of every episode I host, I like to ask my guests if there was a question that they wish I’d asked that perhaps I hadn’t or if there was a closing thought that you’d like to leave our audience with. The floor is yours.

I don’t think you left any questions out, but to anyone who’s reading, if they’ve been struggling with any type of health issue because there is so much chronic pain and chronic health issues, we need to realize we are designed so perfectly. Our human bodies know how to heal. If you think about the food that we eat, the processed food, the junk food, and all the stuff that we may have gone through in phases, our body still lives and not just survive. A lot of times, we can thrive even off of bad foods. Imagine when you start giving your body the right tools. We thrive and we burst into this beautiful blossom of health.

We need to remember that our health is not complicated. We are not complicated. We’ve complicated it, but health is super simple. Do the simple things. Eat simple foods. Leave the complicated part out. Tune back into yourself. Meditate. Journal. In my journaling, and I would suggest you do this too, do not write down what you’re eating and how you feel because that is powerful. Sit for a minute and ask your higher self, “What do you want to tell me today?” Be still. Let yourself dip into the wisdom that you have inside yourself. The world would look so different if each of us one at a time starts bringing ourselves into vibrant, beautiful health. It’s very simple.

Health is not complicated. We must do the simple things, eat the simple food, and leave the complicated parts out.

I love that. Thank you so much for sharing that. I really appreciate you.

Thank you for having me on.

Episode Wrap-Up

As a reminder, we are prepping to launch our new Cause Before Commerce site this summer of 2024, CircleB.co. This site will host the same great content that you find here on CareMoreBeBetter.com while also providing helpful tools to help you live a little greener and a little more socially and locally engaged. You’ll find how-to guides and DIY tools that can help you renew what you have, replace the things that you buy, and reduce waste.

CircleB.co will offer plastic-free products from housewares and clothing to supplements and personal care items, perhaps even Barlow Herbal. All of these are circular in design to minimize waste and that seek to eliminate or limit the use of plastics. You can explore our landing page to learn more about this upcoming launch. Visit CircleB.co. Thank you, everyone, now and always for being a part of this show and this community because together, we really can do so much more. We can even build a healthier society that prizes your individual health and perhaps become our own shamans along the way. Thank you.

 

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  • Corinna Bellizzi

    Corinna is a natural products industry executive who has earned a reputation for leading the development and growth of responsible brands (e.g. Nordic Naturals, iwi, NutriGold). In her professional life, she champions social benefit programs to enhance company impact while preserving and protecting our home planet. She’s presently working tirelessly on the development of a new pre-market that seeks to achieve a carbon-negative impact. In January 2021 she launched her show, Care More, Be Better: A Social Impact + Sustainability Podcast to amplify the efforts of inspired individuals and conscious companies. Through Care More Be Better, she shares their stories in an effort to show us all that one person with one idea can have a big impact. As part of her lifelong education journey, she earned her MBA from Santa Clara University, graduating at the top of her class with a triple focus in Entrepreneurship, Leadership and Marketing in June 2021.

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