My View from the Weeds: Herbalists Without Borders

This post was originally published in HWBCO's monthly column, My View from the Weeds, for the Columbus Free Press, January 2019 Issue

Herbalism is the people’s medicine – allowing people to grow medicine alongside their food and take charge of their health. Herbalists Without Borders (HWB) People’s Clinics give people access to help and refers them to ongoing help when needed. It is the holistic ER that so many need but have not been able to access before. What is HWB? It is an international non-governmental organization (NGO) that focuses on delivering heath care and food justice worldwide through a fifteen specific projects: they deliver trauma training for practitioners, run community herb apothecaries and people's clinics, and they practice international borderless medicine (similar to Doctors Without Frontiers in places of famine or war). HWB hosts medicinal seed saving projects and community gardens, have a veterans’ resiliency holistic clinic in Washington D.C., and run the Keepers of Herbal Traditions Project in Puerto Rico. In other words, they deliver green goodness throughout the world, in areas where it is needed most: countries torn apart by capitalism and war, veterans traumatized by what they have experienced, and right here at home, the uninsured, underinsured and populations not served by modern medicine. All the work HWB does is through dedicated volunteers, organized in chapter units. Central Ohio has a large need for free or sliding scale holistic and herbal care – so the newly formed local chapter here is focusing on running a People’s Clinic and Apothecary events, with the hope of growing the chapter enough to include other projects like a seed library and swap, giving away bags of high-need items not given out by food banks: shampoo bars and soap, feminine hygiene products, mouth care (like toothbrushes and toothpaste) and socks. HWB’s People’s Clinic events will also serve as a workplace clinical internships for advanced Apothecary students when the time comes. At this time, what the chapter needs most are dedicated volunteers who help organize, promote and run chapter events. HWB is seeking holistic-minded practitioners to volunteer at People’s Clinics (you do not need to be a trained herbalist – there are medical doctors, herbalists, massage therapists, nurse practitioners and Naturopaths who are volunteering currently) and donors who will give in-kind or cash donations. Anyone interested in delivering health care justice can help in some way. People’s Clinic events happen every two months and are able to give out herbal and holistic products during the events out of a stash of apothecary items. Some were provided by HWB international, some are leftovers from the now-closed Boline Apothecary, and others are donated from herbalist members. Help HWB help the folks of central Ohio by volunteering or donating to the Central Ohio HWB chapter today! January meeting: Sunday, January 20-4:30pm 3007 Calumet Street (near Weber), Clintonville January People’s Clinic: Sunday, February 17-4:30 3007 Calumet Street (near Weber), Clintonville Lily Kunning has information about herbal activism events and health justice in central Ohio, and can answer herbal and holistic health questions from readers (please write in). What do you want to know most? Do you have a health question? Contact her at Lily Kunning is the herbalist who ran Boline Apothecary for four years in Clintonville and is now doing herbalism work that is more aligned with her values: rather than simply engaging in commerce, she is helping Ohio’s most vulnerable directly through activism. When she does sell much needed herbal products, it is in a model that also is more in line with her beliefs. When Boline closed, she reorganized and asked several people to join her in a new company, Haven Herbs (an herbal apothecary with my formulas, but organized to promote democracy at work – a worker owned company.). She continues to be an educator and teach Ohio’s next generation of herbalists, too. She also spends time doing herbal activist projects. Currently, she is working to organize Sassafras: Ohio’s Annual Herb Gathering (inaugural date is Labor Day weekend 2019) and a newly formed Herbalists Without Borders (HWB) chapter for central Ohio. To contact: Haven Herbs ( Classes ( Sassafras ( Herbalists Without Borders (

Appears in Issue:  January 2019

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