Sprigs of freshly plucked sage stood halfway out of the pocket on her long violet skirt. Using a wooden cane, she slowly hobbled around her herb garden past rosemary bushes as tall as she. "Herbs help your body help itself," said herbalist Daphne Singingtree. She led the way past a chicken coop and vegetable garden before slowly lowering into a metal foldout chair under the disco ball hanging from a canvas tent.
Singingtree is an herbal medicine maker and founder of Eagletree Herbs. Her interest in herbs and medicinal plants began in the 70's when she was 12 years old and living in a hippie community called Rainbow Farm. At the farm, she came across the book "Back to Eden" a book on herbal medicine, natural food and home remedies that her interest really began to grow. "It became like my bible. I read that book over and over and carried it around," Singingtree said with speckles of dried plants sprinkled across her black sweatshirt and throughout her braided salt and pepper hair.
She went on to a career as a midwife, using her knowledge of herbs to help maternity patients and birthing. "Midwifery is traditionally about looking at alternatives to standard medical practices," she said. A few years ago, a car accident left her with two broken legs and once heeled, a lifetime of pain and arthritis.
Suffering from daily pain, she began gardening as part of her rehabilitation and found relief from the herbs she grew. Soon after she began gardening, she converted her laundry room into a commercial kitchen where she and her team of interns make over 200 herbal products ranging from culinary, medicinal, and body care. Pain relief products are her best-selling, often including herbs such as wintergreen, nettles, hemp oil and more.
Herbal healer is what she calls herself and although much of what she knows about herbal medicine was learned from a Naturopath doctor, that is, a physician that focuses on naturopathic care, she is adamant that she is not one herself. Though people can purchase herbal medicinals from her such as herb extracts, salves and balms, she will not diagnose people who come to her. Rather, Singingtree chooses to educate them on herbal relief options. For this she does not charge for her knowledge and time.
Though not opposed to Western medicine, she opts for herbs as often as she can. "Drugs sometimes artificially address symptoms, where herbs can address the causes and often have less side effects," Singingtree said. She explained how many modern drugs started as plants before being processed and purified – aspirin came from willow bark, cocaine came from cocoa leaves, valium comes from valerian root.
Recently, she has found an affinity for agrimony – an herb she learned helps coughs and skin irritations. She also said that agrimony supposedly has energetic properties that keep aggressive people away. Leaning back in her chair, with sprigs of sage still in her pocket she gave a full-body laugh and said, "I was at a conference recently and they called it 'asshole spray'." Everyone could probably use a bottle of that.