Today Tahnee chats with Laura Clemmons, a woman who brings intuition, love, compassion and a great passion for herbs to the discussion. The ladies talk about becoming your own healer, which can be extremely empowering. The ancient practices of massage, using herbs and vaginal steaming are explored, along with how women tend to bloom after utilising these intuitive practices in their journeys. The ladies share their herbal experiences, noting that herbs have their own personality and often reveal themselves to us, when we need them. Laura is a big believer in honouring your moon time as a sacred time and having ritual (it could be as simple as lighting a candle and setting an intention). We know you are gong to love today's incredibly gentle and intuitive convo.
You will hear about:
Who is Laura Clemmons?
Laura Elvira Clemmons is a certified herbalist and graduate of the Rocky Mountain Center for Botanical Studies. Laura concentrates on female reproductive health. Her work attends to physical, psychological and spiritual issues, being that these systems are integrated and inseparable. Laura believes that caring for the reproductive system is one of the most important things that we can do, being that it is literally the gateway through which spirits are drawn from the ethers into this world. She studied under Dr. Gu Ding in Traditional Chinese Medicine at the Shen Nong Center in Philadelphia, PA, and Mayan Traditional Healing Practices and Uterine Care with Ms. Beatrice Waight, Belize, Ann Drucker, Boulder, CO and Rosita Arvigo, Belize. She held an apprenticeship with Linda White Dove in herbal medicine; an apprenticeship with Claudia Rosewolf in traditional North American indigenous healing practices; and an apprenticeship with Pei Fen Yan in Chinese Medicine in Boulder, Colorado. She believes that all medical modalities are lifelong learning processes and that the more education one has increases the tools in one’s tool box. Along with a finely tuned sense of intuition she combines these healing techniques to create a healing protocol for her clients.
ResourcesEmail Laura: Stregagardens@gmail.com
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Check Out The Transcript Here:
Time to talk tonic herbalism people. Maybe some of this little mushrooms and philosophy for longevity. So pour yourself a tonic and get ready to get super human baby. Let's start the show.
Mason: Hello everybody. Welcome back to the podcast. We've got another one of the women's series today. Tahnee is behind the wheel. She's talking to an absolute incredible herbalist, Laura Clemmons. She is a Shamanic Strega healer. And she uses several modalities to help her clients and get to the basic core of their health issues. She's amazing at that intention of getting to the core. I feel like quite often, people say that on surface level, Laura goes deep, especially utilizing plants as a integral part of the healing touch empowering her clients. And this is going to be you, as you listen to her to make your own medicine. So ladies, going into that, the magic of making your intentions, your own herbal medicine.
Mason: They both explore the intuitive nature of claiming one's help and merge that with conversation around wisdom of plants and their healing properties. During this deeply gentle and dare I say spiritual chat, Tahnee and Laura explore what it is to tune into yourself, nourish and nurture your body, and care for your mind. And you'll even get a couple of cameos from the kitties on both sides of the pond. So, really hope everybody, you enjoy this incredible conversation between two incredible women.
Tahnee: Hi everybody and welcome to the Superfeast podcast. Today we have Laura Alvira Clemmons, who is a certified herbalist and graduate of the Rocky Mountain Center for Botanical Studies. She studied under Doctor Gu Ding in traditional Chinese medicine at the Shen Nong Center in Philadelphia. And she also studied Mayan traditional healing practices and uterine care with Miss Beatrice Waight in Belize, Anne Drucker in Boulder, and Rosita Arvigo, who is the founder of the Arvigo style. She had an apprenticeship with Linda White Dove in herbal medicine, and an apprenticeship with Claudia Rosewolf in traditional North American indigenous healing practices, as well as an apprentice ship with Pei Fen Yan in Chinese medicine in Boulder.
Tahnee: And Laura believes that all these medical modalities are lifelong learning processes, and the more education we have, the more tools we have in our toolbox, which I completely resonate with. And she also brings a really fine tuned sense of intuition to her work that combines all those healing techniques and modalities. Laura sees clients directly, but also does workshops for retreats, that kind of stuff. But I had the pleasure of meeting you at the American Herbalist Guild Conference, Laura, in 2017 maybe? Yeah. That was up in Oregon. And I remember doing your workshop on vaginal steaming. And I think you did a little bit on the Mayan healing touch as well. It was just such a really profound and beautiful learning for me. And one that I took home myself, and postpartum especially used it.
Tahnee: I think you said it in that workshop, that it was such an amazing healing tool for post partum care. But in general, it's just such a great practice for women to be doing regularly. Is that something?
Laura: Yes. It is. It is something that women should be doing regularly, massaging ourself, massaging our womb and our digestion, really just helping to keep circulation going. And Miss Beatrice Waight, who was my main teacher, she used to talk about if you can do anything for yourself, one of the best things you could do for a daily practice is just rub your belly at night a little bit, massage yourself a little bit. Because for us, for women, we're always holding everything there. We're always holding our emotions, our anxieties, our fears. Right? And then, digestion stops working, painful periods.
Laura: So, these things have a lot of, of course, physical reasons. But I'm also looking at the emotional reason too. And if we can hep to massage ourselves, kind of feeling into those painful parts in our bodies and our bellies every day, just going, "Hmm. I wonder what that's about." Looking into that is one one of the things that we can really do to help so much, because isn't digestion one of the biggest issues that we're seeing, not just in women's health, but with health in general?
Tahnee: It's funny, because I studied with Mantak Chia in Thailand. And his work is Chi Nei Tsang, which is Daoist belly massage basically. It involves uterine care. But one of the big emphasis he places is that, at the end of the day, we want to empower the student to go home and do the massage themselves, so they don't have to come and see us anymore. To be able to take care of their own health, to me, it's almost like redefining what healthcare means because so often its like have a blah, blah blah, or do something kind of ... you know, no offense, but superficial. And I think when we have these practices or these techniques available to us where we can really start to feel into , "Well, what are the patterns of tension that I create every day? What are the kind of manifestations of symptoms that happen when I do have these kind of particular sensations or feelings in my body?"
Tahnee: It becomes a really beautiful kind of self awareness practice. Is that what you see in your clients when you kind of start to teach them this stuff?
Laura: Yeah. I actually feel the same way about seeing clients. And I want them to be empowered. I don't want them to have to come to me all the time, and to see ... although I love them and want to see everybody. But I want to see them get better through their own self exploration. I do encourage that. And I do see people really start to take ... especially women who come to me for fertility and want to get pregnant, because it is going to be up to them whether or not that happens.
Laura: Now sometimes, of course, there's not much anyone can do. There's something physical wrong that may be an abnormality or something like that, but a lot of what I do see with women who really want to take charge of their facility and say yes to getting pregnant, yes to having a life come into their body, I see them bloom into someone who starts this self exploration, whether it is spiritual or physical or through herbs, or even seeking other modalities. And I try to really empower women, or even men that I do see a lot of times when we are doing fertility.
Laura: I encourage and I want to know, "Well, what's going on with your partner? What does that look like? Are they healthy? What's going on with that?" And putting it back into their hands.
Tahnee: Do you see regular patterns with fertility in terms of ... I mean, Chi Nei Tsang, because it comes from a daoist tradition, we do like a lot ... the organ energies and emotional kind of patterns that will create physical blocks. My teachers mapped out some of the common ones. But I wondered from the kind of main tradition, are there kind of common blocks that we see that would affect things like fertility or digestion, like in Chinese medicine we would say excess worry and kind of anxiety can create a digestive issue. We might say that if we have fear or something, we might create a blockage in the kidney channel, which might manifest as kind of a lack of being able t conceive or something like that, or liver issues can affect the uterus. Is that sort of a similar thing? Or do you guys have a little bit more of a ... I don't know. I don't know much about your practice. [inaudible 00:07:40].
Laura: Well specifically, with the uterus massage, we're looking at position of the uterus. And a lot of times, we do find in an infertile ... For example, there was a couple and they'd been married about seven years. And they'd never been pregnant, not even on accident. She'd never been pregnant before. And they were trying. And they'd been trying for a few years. I think they weren't as serious about it at the time. So then, they went into looking at IVS ... had them looking at this and looking at that. But right before going, she came to see me. And her uterus was actually off to the left and down. I told her that and I put it back in place.
Laura: And she had had cramps. And there's symptoms that we look at if the uterus is down displayed. There's cramping, constipation, diarrhea, all these different things that can come into play. She had some of those symptoms that told me that, yes, her uterus was a little tilted and down. So, I felt it. Once you practice more, you can actually feel really really easily where the uterus is. So, we put it back into place. She came back the following month and said, "Wow! You know, I'm feeling so much better. It just feels spacious down there. There's room down there." But also, we had discussed what was going on in her life. And she was really feeling very powerful in who she was as a career woman, and intelligent, beautiful. Just this vivacious woman was kind of bound to a culture that her mother-in-law and her family were really feel ... kind of controlling and overseeing her love life.
Laura: And why isn't there a baby yet? And those kinds of things. And I could see that she was having a hard time with it. So, on an energetic level, we worked on that as well. But on the physical level, her uterus was to the side. So, we pulled it back. We talked about those things. We worked on it. The month after her follow up, she was actually pregnant. That was her first time ever being pregnant. So, we just had a follow up on the phone after that again, talked about herbs and different things, because she was told that she has hypothyroidism. And it wasn't really fully diagnosed. They went back and forth, hyper, hypo, they weren't sure. Her levels were a little wonky. And of course too, the physical aspects of her body could be affecting them as well, nutrition intake, that type of thing.
Laura: So, when we worked on her uterus, I was also working on just talking about how could she receive her voice again, how could she get her power back, can she talk to her husband about this, what does that look like? Then, doing some energy clearing. I mean, even something as simple as smudging to help kind of change someone's outer energy, allowing things to release from them. And that massage often does that too. In the Mayan tradition, we really do look at the focus of, where is the uterus? And what kind of illness is that causing, not physically, but spiritually?
Tahnee: There's a couple of things I'd love to pull out of that 'cause ... the first is that a lot of people don't realize that if they're having PMS symptoms or, like you were saying, constipation, the fascia of the uterus can actually attach to the fascia of the digestive system and create all kinds of issues. So, there's kind of these complex things that could be going on. And, as you said, it can be as simple as the uterine position in the body. I mean, it's obviously many other possibilities there.
Laura: Yes. You're right.
Tahnee: But I remembered you telling a story which made me giggle about your own flipped uterus after having one of your sons. Is that right?
Tahnee: Could you tell that story? 'Cause that makes me laugh.
Laura: Where my husband was like hitting ... I think it ... Well, I've had my uterus flipped a couple of times because I was a landscaper and did a lot of heavy lifting. And women tend to put heavy things on their belly. And that can tend to kind of push down and make the uterus flip. I think this is the story that you're talking about is ...
Laura: I think I'd just gotten pregnant. I actually have a daughter and a son. And I was pregnant. But my uterus was flipped. And my teacher, she was still alive at that time and she had told me. And it was really imperative to flip the uterus back over because of all the nutrition. I mean, that is ... Sometimes, when the uterus is flipped and it's pinching, nutrition can't get to the womb, so miscarriage can happen. And she would actually say it's almost impossible to have flipped uterus and really carry full term, 'cause you have to get the uterus to come back over.
Laura: So, I was determined. There's exercise that you can do where you put your hand ... or you put your elbows on the ground, then you put your knees and your butt in the air. And then, you have your partner, whoever that is, come behind you and bop your butt, and hit like the fatty part of your butt. And it's so enjoyable. People just love to do that. It's so enjoyable. You know, it doesn't hurt when they're doing it. But then my husband kind of integrated in shaking my hips and doing all this stuff, just like really wanted to get it over. But when I was pregnant, he wasn't that aggressive with it. And actually, because I was, when it flipped, I literally felt it go back over. It was heavy and I could feel it. I'm like, "Oh!"
Laura: And then, I had just a tiny pooch starting after that. So, when you're pregnant it's a little easier to see when that happens. So, it is something that you can do because when your uterus is flipped, there's a possibility that it could sit on your colon. And that causes so many digestive issues.
Tahnee: And I think people don't maybe conceptualize the uterus. But it's kind of like little bungee chords, is how we got to it, like those little tendons or ligaments that are running across. Yeah. I think that's just a good visual for people because then they can really get a sense that it's quite a mobile organ in the body. I think we tend to maybe think of organs as being static once they're in their place and maybe don't realize that they do move around and are kind of [inaudible 00:13:48]. I always imagine we're basically packs of fluid and fascia. It's kind of incredible to think that the possibilities. And if we get too dry, in terms of we get adhesions or stickiness and stuff.
Laura: You're right.
Tahnee: I know that the main tradition has the self care kind of component. So, I remember you doing that in a workshop. You showed us how to do massage and stuff. And I know it was quite different to Chi Nei Tsang, which I liked and thought it was just such a ... But I think their kind of foundations are probably similar. But do you guys also work on digestive system as well, you work on kind of the liver and all of ... do you all that sort of organ massage as organ massage as well?
Laura: Yes. We do a digestive massage as well. And it's hard to do for yourself. And when I do teach my clients or people that come, I actually show them how to massage their digestion with the round part of a wooden spoon, and scooping, kind of getting in, and if you feel pain, holding it until you hear a gurgle and doing things like that. And actually Hanna Kroger, in one of her books, she actually talks about that too, massage your digestion with a wooden spoon.
Tahnee: That's good.
Laura: Yeah. I like it.
Tahnee: I guess the general flow, from my memory, was from your practice with sort of uterine care was skipping up towards the belly button, and the digestive is scooping down-
Laura: For scooping down, yes.
Tahnee: ... following the natural curves of the ribs and the pelvis respectively. Is that generally kind of what you would suggest?
Laura: Yes. Starting at your pelvic bone and going up towards the naval, but not past the naval if you're doing your uterine care, and then from the right side, and then from the left side, massaging, and just holding your hands, holding your thumbs together, kind of making a cross and then holding them together, making your hands look like a little hoe or a scoop, the best way I can describe. And then, you start at your pelvic bone. And you're laying on your back with a pillow under your knee. And then, you kind of tilt your pelvis under a little 'cause you're doing it for yourself. You know how deep you can go or not, and just scooping up toward the naval and then diagonally, and then, just doing it seven times: the diagonally, seven times one way; straight, seven times; and then diagonally the other way.
Tahnee: Do you use oil? That's an obvious question, but ...
Laura: Yeah. I actually use an oil that I make that we were taught how to make in Belize. In Belize, they actually cook their oils in the oven. And they don't do it stove top. And it's very very low heat. They cook it for days.
Tahnee: I think I might have done that as well.
Laura: You've done that as well?
Tahnee: Yeah, in the starting cross.
Laura: Oh yeah. And I used plants from my garden. I use plants that show up around. So, if I'm working ... Actually even in an office that I've been in over a year, I've been going out harvesting the plants, asking them to come in on my session, because I do a lot of fresh plant work with my sessions, I'll look to see who shows up. Maybe Violet shows up this year that wasn't there before. And I will use her in my voice. So, having a special oil that I make once a year, or once every six months depending, for my clients, and especially using the plants that are around where I have it used as treatment.
Tahnee: I love that. And I remember we talked before, and you were saying how you were also a bit of an opportunistic forager, as in you pop down to other states and get some sort of local [inaudible 00:17:21] plants from that region. And that's like something we really encourage people to do is to try and tune into what's kind of available in their region, but also ... I mean, my mom raised me as a forager. It's probably an embedded comers way of saying, "Yeah. We used to steal plants all the time, respectfully." We were calmest as we went.
Tahnee: But yeah, I do think it's a really beautiful thing to start to connecting with the plant kingdom. And I love that you used she when referring to Violet because we really ... like the hubs we were, in the [inaudible 00:17:52], had agreed that we'd refer to them as male or female. They all have personalities and energetics to us that are ... After years of use, you do start to kind of get a sense of their personalities, I suppose. Is that sort of what you-
Tahnee:... were liking with herbs?
Laura: Yeah. And Violet, actually, one of the very first plants that winked. I don't know if you've ever experienced this. But sometimes when we're out in nature, the plants will jus start moving. There's no breeze. But they'll just start waving at you. And my husband and I were dating. And we were on a walk. And so, I said to him, "Uh, you wanna see something cool?" And he's also working at the herb shop, this loser into plants and stuff. And he said, "Yes." So, we walked by this patch of violets that I always went to. And I reached down. I just looked at them and said, "Hello." And they all started to wave.
Tahnee: That's so cool.
Laura: And he was just, "They're waving at you." I said, "I know they're waving." And then, I actually showed some of my apprentices just this year a exercise on how to connect with a plant that way. And when you do have that kind of relationship with them, they start to talk back. I mean, they were very amazed and like, "Wow! They're really waving. They're alive. They're waving."
Tahnee: Yeah. I mean, I think that's something that I get ... not frustrated probably, but just a little bit like plants do have consciousness. We extend our kind of respect to more the animal kingdom because they're easier for us to relate to. But I think that we often forget that everything on this planet does, the plants, the rocks. I don't know. Have you read Stephen Harrod Buhner's books? Do you know who he is?
Laura: Yes. My husband actually read him.
Tahnee: Yeah. Well, he speaks a lot to that. And it's something ... They're books we recommend people get a hold of if they're interested, because he kind of speaks about how to connect to plants and has exercises. And like you say, I think sometimes it's just being open to that possibility that maybe they do want to share and connect with us. I mean, in the Daoist tradition, I don't know if there's anything in the Mayan tradition, but there's something called tree chi, where you basically develop a relation ship with a tree. It's basically like how, when we exhale, the tree benefits. And when we inhale, we benefit, and the tree is producing that [crosstalk 00:20:07] energy. So, we learn to befriend a tree. We ask their permission, and then we use them to clean our energy. And they get to take our negative energy and benefit.
Tahnee: So, that's a beautiful practice that I've been doing for probably five or six years now. And yeah, I have a tree friend [inaudible 00:20:28].
Laura: Yeah. Yeah.
Tahnee: We get to know each other. And yeah, it sounds funny to talk about. But it's a really beautiful practice.
Laura: I agree. And yes, my teachers, Mayan and other, teach to have those relationships with the plants, to have those kinds of relationships and introducing yourself, and asking for medicine. And when you give your offerings, you don't actually take that plant that you offer to, but you look for another. And when you're entering into a sacred area ... which to me, mostly every time is a sacred area. I mean, sitting here, looking in this parking lot before hand, and I'm looking at these trees. They're wonderful.
Laura: And so, every time, having those relationships where you introduce yourself. And you say, "You know, it's me. It's Laura. I'm coming in. I'm looking for medicine. Will you reveal yourself to me? Is it okay if I get that? And you will find that sometimes it takes a while for them to reveal themselves to you. And sometimes, you don't get it the first time you go. Sometimes, you're not supposed to. Really tuning in to what the environment, what the Earth, what those individual plants are saying to you. For instance, Osha is a very sacred plant here. People really shouldn't over harvesting and all of that. So, when we do go, if we go, we harvest maybe two roots a year kind of.
Laura: But I went to a new area. And I hadn't gone for Osha. And we went in there and we asked for Osha. We did a journey ahead of time to reveal ourselves. And it took almost an hour before we could see the plant. Once we did, we noticed it was everywhere in front of us the whole time. I kind of ... I feel ... "It's over there! And it's over there too! Why did we not see this last time? I can't believe it's here." And it was amazing. It's magical. It's truly magical when you're allowed to receive this medicine.
Tahnee: Yeah. I think you really have to earn it sometimes. And I think ... you know, it's funny, I remember ... 'Cause I grew up in the tropics, so I really identify those plants really easily. And it was funny taking my partner up there for the first time 'cause he was like, "It's just a wall of green." But once he started to tune in, he sort of ... Things started to reveal. And now, I could walk through and he always sort of stops to ... "Oh, that's jumping out at me. And there's a native ginger over there. And let's go and get some clones." You know, he knows where all the fruits are. But it takes a lot sometimes to develop that awareness.
Tahnee: And I'll say, like you say, I think ... I had a beautiful [inaudible 00:22:59] I went to a couple of weeks back. One of the presenters was saying that he was ... For 20 years, he kept returning to this place and asking for the message to be revealed, the message to be revealed. And he was like, "I know there's something here, but I don't know what it is yet." Literally, it took 20 years before he got the message. So, I was like, "That's pretty amazing." I thought you've got to have that kind of discipline. But yeah, I thought that was a really beautiful story. Just kind of put, for me, into perspective, that we really have this desire for instant gratification, I think. And some of these things take time. You know, it's like a friend.
Tahnee: It takes time to make friends with someone. It takes time to get to know them really well. And that we expect a plant to just reveal it's magic to us straight away is a little bit presumptuous.
Laura: I think so. And then, thinking about going into taking a pill, whether it's herbal or whatever. Are you really receiving the medicine? What are you taking? And thinking about your healing in that respect too. What is your connection to your body, if we are just taking a pill? Now, some things we do need to take, of course. But when you're looking at even the common cold, and looking at what you need to take, sometimes a plant comes out to you and says, "Oh. You should put this in the formula." But it doesn't make sense. In your head, it doesn't make ...
Laura: "Well, uh, that's not really for a cough." But it's what's needed. It's what's needed. That plant has so much more than just one or two constituents involved. When the medicine is revealed to you and you do have that relationship with the plant, the spirit of the plant still is in the medicine. So, maybe it's that's plant's spirit medicine, not just the constituents that lie in its cell wall.
Tahnee: I bloody love that so much. You know, we work with tonic heads. And we get so many people wanting to know, "What percentage of beta glucans, and na na na na?" And we're like, "No offense guys. But that's not what we do. We don't sell polysaccharide powder. We sell ratios." For me, ratios ...
Tahnee: Like my grandma, I take her on meditation retreats and she helps me understand my learnings. She's like this mentor and this kind of like spiritual guide. And she kind of hugs me. And she stops me from being in my own bullshit. That's what ratio does. But it's like, "Oh, okay. Yeah. She has prior toppings and 800 medicinal compounds. That stuff definitely does something, obviously. But the relationship is so much more different now than when I started, which was just about my gut health. But I think these things reveal themselves in town. But it comes down, I think, to intention. Something that we work with a lot is just a client comes to us and they have a really strong draw to a specific herb. And no matter what our wisdom or our teaching or our learning might be, we always defer to the person's intuition because, you know, I do think there's a reason we're drawn to certain things. And is that something you see and kind of work with as well?
Laura: Yes. I typically try to always involve whoever I'm working with in their healing, of course, and asking them, "Well, what do you feel about this formula? What do you feel about this herb?" Sometimes, I'll have them smell their medicine first. Which plant smells the best to you? That's what Cascade Anderson Geller, she used to teach that. That's how she started her women's health class, with just about eight jars of herbs on the table, none of them labeled. And she said, "All right. Come on up everybody. Let's smell this plant. Which one smells the best to you?" And that's the one that we would work with. There's something so beautiful too about working with the simple, working with one instead of a formula. Everyone's looking for that magic formula. Yes, of course, we need to use formulas. But when I am working with clients, I do try to go simple at first, depending on what we're working with.
Laura: And it's never just one thing that we're working on, right? But I don't want to go overboard with formulas or complicated things, getting people to do complicated things. I typically have someone choose one or two things they can incorporate into their life. And unless, they need to go on a strict food diet of something like that, I don't take away. I add, knowing that as the body heals, and as you want to heal and be healthier, you will drop away-
Tahnee: Things fall away.
Laura: ... the sugar that you've been eating. Yes. Because you need it to fulfill sweet part in you, like in nurturing that Earth part in you. I think that a lot of our food really does come around to fulfilling things that we're not getting. And so, once we do find a balance with that, regain our power, I mean, that's how I see so much of that healing too is self power. And regaining that power again, that feeling, that sense of, "It's my life. I'm in control of my life. I can do anything I want to."
Tahnee: Well, that's what I find with these ancient practices like herbalism and massage ad steams, they come from the people and they're very decentralized. And they're very personal. And I think when you start to ... you know, talking to someone the other day, and I haven't ... like anything that comes in my way at this point in my life I'm able to deal with on my own health wise. And that's a really empowering kind of thing to feel. And I'm not saying I'll never have to see a doctor for something. And I'm not against that. But it's just really nice. And I have a child. And I'm confident and capable in dealing with the things that come my way with her, again, at this stage. In child [inaudible 00:28:36] will ever happen.
Tahnee: But I think it's really even just that little bit of autonomy and sovereignty, I mean, it's a foundational philosophy of my partner and my lives, is like health sovereignty and that ability to take responsibility for ourselves. But like you say, that means acknowledging that there's a reason that all of these ... that we're drawn to certain foods or flavors. And I love that about TCMs. It's something where I first ... Well, learned it in Iabatta. But I feel like TCM is more elegant for me, in terms of how it understands those things. And yeah, it's just these things point to kind of maybe energy deficiencies in channels. And it's as simple as, like you say, bringing in the things that nourish and restore. And then, the bad habits drop away. And I think it's such a powerful message for people, I suppose.
Tahnee: It's like this exploration which may seem like it's just not going anywhere sometimes. It kind of leads us to a point where we start to know ourselves so intimately that we can become our own healers, which means ... I think it's really useful to use a practitioner or someone as a reference point. Because that's certainly got to still save people from time to time and just get a sense of "Are they picking up something that I'm missing because of my prejudice or my bias?" And I think that's the role of the healer or the kind of therapist is to provide some perspective and some space. And I know, you know, you would have seen Miss Beatrice a lot. Were you getting treatments just in general, or were you getting them for specific issue when you went to her?
Laura: When I was-
Laura: When I was her ... When I initially met her, I was in herb school. So, I think it was like 2001 or 2002. And I stayed after. It was like an extra class. I saw what she did, how she was massaging and what she was teaching. And I just like, "Wow!" I didn't exactly go to her because I had an ailment. I have a sluggish liver. I always have kind of issues going on with my liver. And so, it tends to manifest and show up. I always know how healthy my liver is by how much PMS I have, or cramping. So, I did have those issues. But I truly started seeing her because I was introduced to her class. And went, "Well, I'm just gonna start doing that. I need to be around her." I wanted to learn more. And then, anytime she was in town or visiting, I would go into the treatment with her. And then, Ann Drucker was the woman who really kind of sponsored her in this area and brought her here, and actually still does visit her family now and helps her family quite a bit still. She's been gone five years now.
Laura: And then, I would see just other women in the area. So, you start to get into the community and would have massages by older students and people who have been working with her for a while. It wasn't because I had an issue.
Tahnee: So, more in the name of self care kind of thing, and [crosstalk 00:31:36]. I think that's a really important message is that you don't have to do these things when you're sick as well.
Laura: No. No. Yeah. I mean, for me, I'm always so curious and interested in, how is this person doing it? What are they doing? What's working? And I'm always drawn to the more spiritual or the more emotional work. And so, if something is incorporating that and it really resonates with me, I just devour it. It's like I have to go and experience this. So, I love getting treatments. I think I have an addiction almost, just because it's so interesting to me to go and experience all these modalities, just an infinite number. And then, there's just an infinite number of types of people doing them. So, the energies are always different.
Laura: And sometimes, I see someone and it's not a good fit, you know? I've been injured a couple times seeing people or they're new, and they're like, "Can I practice on you?" I'm like, "Sure." And then I'm sick for a little bit or something like that. And that's okay. I think that's a part of learning to be a healer is you get sick and you hurt yourself, and you burn yourself, and you do all these crazy things. As long as you're doing this to yourself or your close friends that will forgive you while you're in the learning phase itself, it's okay. It's better in the beginning. That's where I burned myself with lemon and satchel oil in the shower and made cayenne pepper pills and took those. And I ran out naked. It was so hot. I laid in the snow. I mean, it was just all this crazy stuff that ...
Tahnee: Yeah. I wonder like ... 'Cause we talked a little bit about steaming at the beginning, speaking of burning I suppose, but that's kind of a good segue because I started steaming after your workshop. I was probably ten months postpartum, I think. But I didn't get my period back until I stopped breastfeeding, which was about 18 months. So, I just did a few kind of gentle ones to test the waters. And then, once my period returned, I was doing them really regularly. My first few periods were really heavy. And I was a little bit like, "Okay." I just literally had the most perfect cycle. And I still do them just for the maintenance and pleasure. I thought that was such an interesting and simple technique. And I loved how you taught it because it was so kind of accessible.
Tahnee: But I know you use it a lot in your practice as well. But is that something you give people as homework, as well as the self massage?
Laura: Yes. Vaginal steaming is ... it's one of those self care tools that we do have access to, that anyone can perform themselves at home with a pot and their toilet, or with a 5 gallon bucket. And I know that's not that comfortable but-
Tahnee: It works.
Laura: ... I've done ... I know. I've made them with plant skins, using plant skins and the toilet seat, tying the toilet seat to the plant skin. I mean, there's lots of ways that-
Tahnee: Creative ways.
Laura: Yeah. You can get really creative with it and make it your own. So, you can be in your bedroom or somewhere that you feel comfortable.
Laura: Yeah. Because you can make them that comfortable. You can make it to where it's not too hot, and you're using Calendula and Rose and Lavender and Sage, and things that just smell so wonderful, and also so very healing to your tissue. And you know, depending on what's going on and how you're feeling, you can use Basil, you can use Oregano. Those are more for anti bacterial, anti microbial, if you have something going on. Even if you have a UTI going on, using it to help pee can really get the pain away. It really helps so you an go to the bathroom.
Laura: So, utilizing steam, not just as self care but also when you have an issue going on and you need to administer some herbs sort of gently. But I wouldn't recommend using a steam directly postpartum. I would wait about a month or so postpartum, and then, of course, doing your sit backs first to help heal the tissue.
Tahnee: Do you ... I mean, I definitely noticed my flow increased and then dropped off. And my cycle's been really regular since I ... I mean, I was pretty lucky. I don't think I had much going on. But I remember you mentioning that you had like a pooch on your tummy, and it went away after steaming. And I thought that was a really interesting concept for people with ... about the cleansing aspect of menstruation. I don't know if you can speak a little to that and your experience with that, and why these kinds of things are helpful?
Laura: Yeah. My formal vaginal steaming class was actually done with Doctor Arvigo. And she taught that your uterus can hold on to old blood. When we start our moons and there is dark dark blood, dark dark red brown blood, that's old blood from previous times that the circulation isn't moving and it's just not getting out of our womb. Maybe the uterus is tilted. And it can build up in there. And then again too, what are we holding in there. For me and my time, when I had the pooch, for me, it was really it was about I had been holding on to so much pain from a previous love loss that I just couldn't let it go, and physically was actually creating a tension in my vagina.
Laura: I was hold it. I was holding down there. I didn't even realize I was doing this until I started to pay attention. The steaming actually did help stop it. And then, also Rosita Arvigo talks about if you've had children sometimes too, because the uterus expands and then comes back, you do have some excess old blood. And she's like ... almost every time. Just know that you are. So when you start bleeding, sometimes in the beginning, you have a lot come out. She said, "And things may come out! Don't be scared of the stuff coming out, like stuff like long stringy things." I mean, she was just going on and on. She's like, "But don't be afraid." And that actually did happen with me. And I didn't have a child, but I had had miscarriages.
Laura: Again, I just had so much I was holding on to. And after about my third month is when I literally gave birth kind of to what I needed to release. It was a lot of blood. I was bleeding very heavily. And instead of feeling tired, I felt revitalized 'cause it was all old stagnant blood. It wasn't fresh. It wasn't coming up from my uterus. I wasn't bleeding bleeding. It was old blood that had been stuck in my womb. And it really changed a lot for me. After that, I had like a soul retrieval. I was retrieving a piece of my heart. 'Cause I was just about to get in a relationship with my husband. And I could see all of that now, what all that transition was, all that healing that was happening. There was a physical part with the emotional part and spiritual part really coming in, and allowing me to let go of the old to let in the new.
Tahnee: That was a really beautiful story. You know, I think when we can just trust our bodies, 'cause it can be daunting to see a lot of blood for us. So if there's bits, like you say ... I mean, certainly the first bleed I had, that was my experience. And I was looking like whoo. But yeah. There was also a sense of lightness. And I felt generally very strong and well through that time. So, I didn't sort of worry about it. And my next cycle was back to it's normal pre birth kind of state. But do you have like a ... in terms of a self care practice, would you just say you do it once a month, or is it something you do regularly? What's your kind of technique planning and stuff like that?
Laura: With my self care practice, I do try to steam, but I don't get to that often. I can use having children as an excuse. I can use life as an excuse. I'm just tired. That's what a lot of it comes down to. I'm older now. I'm just tired. But I do still try to honor my moon time as my sacred time. So, if I don't get to steam, then I do use a moon stone, which is a warm stone on my belly, or a massage, or a hot bath, and massaging in that way, even if I just get to light a candle in honor of where I'm at during that time.
Laura: And if I don't have the ability to take a day to really do what I wanted to do, that self care, I'll at least light a candle and hide in the bathroom for 20 minutes and set my intentions. Knowing that I've planted those seeds helps me feel like that I'm still working on who I am. I'm still on my path as a practitioner, as a woman who wants to connect with other women my cycle of earth, and keeping my focus on love, compassion, and coming back to myself, finding those answers again. And every month, I'm reminded of that. That's kind of my self care.
Tahnee: That's beautiful. I'm really passionate about redefining, that it isn't about the external thing, it's more about our inner kind of relationship with ourself I suppose. And I really love that you said that. It is about our moments or those ... especially when you do have children. It is moments. It's not like chunks of time anymore, yeah, where you really just can lean into what you ... that acknowledgment of self and, yeah, like you say, your journey. I'd also like to give the bathroom a shout out for being a special place mothers can go to allow us to be alone.
Laura: Sometimes, it's the only place with a lock on the door. You know?
Tahnee: We don't actually have a lock on ours and my toddler now knows how to open doors. I'm doomed for a while. Actually, I had a tantrum the other day 'cause I was trying to go to the toilet, and she was like sticking her hands in the bowl. And I was like, "Get out of my space."
Laura: I just need to go!
Tahnee: I know. It's like I just need to go.
Laura: But I actually have little altars that are all around my house as reminders. And I do one in the bathroom. I have just little baby altars set up. I have them in the kitchen. Well, the kitchen's my favorite place.
Tahnee: Yes. Sacred space, that.
Laura: We have two in the kitchen. You know? And then, we have our meditation room. And then, I put an altar in the bathroom, and just places.
Tahnee: Well, I think that was something I really took on after my daughter was making our bathroom beautiful because it is that place I'll run to sometimes for a minute. And I think it's really nice. I've got plants in there and candles and incense, and these little crystals. It this little space where I'm like, "Oh. It's nice to be in here and just spend some time." And that's what I do in my steams. I kind of use the toilet the way you should. I think it's a nice place for me to hang out for a little while, and spend some time.
Tahnee: Do you recommend people just do the steams before their periods is the best time kind of like to stimulate anything that needs to move? Or is it better through the cycle? Or what do you think?
Laura: I do recommend doing your steam the week before you get your moon. So, even if you're not really concentrating on your cycle, you kind of know your moon time's coming, it's time to do the steam. So yes, I do recommend that. And then especially too, your moon's a little late, definitely steam. If you're having a hard time starting to bleed, definitely steam. If you're spotting a little bit, I mean, it really does help. It makes a world of difference, just a little bit of that steam, because the steam ... The volatile oil on the plant will go through the cervix, will go ... The steam will bring everything and penetrate into the whole pelvic cavity. So steaming is beneficial because you are administering direct medicine. Even if you were to do just water, it'd be fine. But the plants just ... They do so much to help heal-
Tahnee: And we're talking fresh and dried herbs and not oils. I just want to make sure that's clear. Because essential oil is really strong. They can burn very sensitive areas, yes?
Laura: Yes. I do not recommend essential oils. Fresh, yes. Dried, of course. And more fresh. If you are going to use fresh plants, you'd want to use almost twice as much.
Tahnee: Yeah. Same with the teas. Okay. Well, I had one more question, but my brain has lost it. You know? It's now 5:00 in the morning here. I'm amazed my brain's functioning. I know there will be people that want to connect with you. And unfortunately, you are in the United States. But I would love to maybe see if we could get you out here one day. Let's work on that. But yeah, if people do want to reach out to you, I'll post your website and things on our show notes. I know you had a retreat coming up. Is that soon?
Laura: We just did a retreat actually.
Tahnee: Oh, you just did the retreat.
Laura: Mm-hmm (affirmative). And I just taught about plant spirit journeying, and how to connect with the plants in that way. And I don't have anything really coming up. I may have something in Idaho. But as I do things, I do post them all on my website.
Tahnee: Do you do any consultations over Skype or is it mostly in person?
Laura: I do consultations over Skype, yes. So many people do want and need that herbal piece, that herbal advice. So, I will do that, and even just showing women how to self care, massage, or even steam really, just teaching how to do that is so vital. So yes, I do Skype.
Tahnee: Okay. Great. Well, I'm really aware that you have a life out there. But I wanted to thank you so much for making the time. Yeah, just sharing your wisdom. It was really beautiful for me to learn that nearly two years ago now. And yeah. So, thank you so much. It's been so nice talking to you.
Laura: Nice talking to you too. Thank you.
Tahnee: All right. I will catch up soon. Bye Laura.
Laura: Okay. Bye.
Mason: Everybody, thank you so much for tuning in today. Now, time to take that information, round it into your lifestyle so you can amplify your health for the next level. And you really help amplify the health of this podcast by going on to iTunes and subscribing, and leaving us a review. Really helps us spread this information around Tonic Herb, around sovereign health, further out there to the community so we can help more people experience the best out of this life. Thanks guys. I'll speak to you next time.
Tracy Duhs is a modern wellness hydration expert who has devoted her life to helping people awaken their vitality and feel alive. Her education and healing work is underpinned by the belief that our cells have their own innate intelligence, and by removing the obstacles for healing, giving the body the building blocks for biogenesis, and allowing our cells to do what they know how to do, we can thrive in good health.