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MARCH 2013

Geo Derick’s Herbal Apothecary Visiting herbalist Geo Derick

Healthy Outlooks By JiJi Russell

at her rural Clarke County apothecary transports me to the fascination of my childhood, when I spent many open- ended afternoons walking the deep woods discovering tiny fl owers, plants, and stones that I suspected had special powers. Derick, a clinical herbalist and organic gardener, believes in that specialness, and brings it right down to earth. She combines a vast knowledge of clinical science with


seemingly keen intuition to do what she does best: “cultivating life.”

Trained to work with the

medical community to serve clients’ health goals, Derick has worked with everyone from cancer patients

to toddlers

with allergies, using a wide variety of customized herb- based therapies. She trained at Tai Sophia Institute, which recently achieved University status, and is now known as Maryland University of Integrative Health. Indeed, the goal of “integration” pervades Derick’s work.

“A basic premise in integrative health is that the symptoms we experience are important signals telling us that something is out of

balance or under siege. Paying attention to the symptoms and learning from them—rather than suppressing them—are key points of holistic healing,” Derick said.

She believes that herbal

medicines, the core of her practice, help our bodies fi nd a natural balance. One key difference between herbal medicine and pharmaceutical drugs, according to Derick, is that the former is comprised of a whole plant with dozens to hundreds of active, synergistic ingredients, while the latter are comprised of a single constituent or synthetic molecule.

Said Derick: “Herbal medicines will attach to the same receptor sites as a pharmaceutical drug,


will ‘let go’ after a few hours and engage in hundreds of biological reactions before our bodies are done with them.

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Their side effects are basically nourishing, as they support structural components and functions, as well.” What is it that renders one

little plant so potent? According to Derick, the plant’s own biological need to survive. “The plants have been protecting themselves from predators,

bacteria, viruses, and fungi for billions

of years. The

chemicals that they produce for self-preservation also serve to protect the animals and humans who ingest them,” she said.

Derick does have several

favorite go-to herbs, but she cautions that one herb does not fi t all. She recommends custom formulas for people with health situations that are chronic or not responding to a particular herbal product that is generally found over the counter. “People often ask me which

herbs they should use for a particular issue, such as chronic migraines or high blood pressure. Have you ever met a migraine or blood pressure reading that does not have a person attached? I fi nd that the most effective strategy for achieving lasting results is to treat each person individually, rather than as a symptom or disease state,” Derick said. “Custom tailored formulas are much more effective. Of the 20 or so clients that I’ve seen for migraines, none have had the same protocol, and only one has gotten ‘the migraine herb’ feverfew included in their formula. Yet, all have enjoyed success in

being nearly or

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