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Brigitte Mars 2023: Herbalist, Author, Professor, & Natural Chef!

Welcome to Delivery Rank’s captivating conversation with Brigitte Mars, a true Renaissance figure in the world of natural wellness. As an esteemed herbalist, prolific author, dedicated professor, and innovative natural chef, Brigitte has woven a tapestry of knowledge and expertise that transcends boundaries. Her journey is a testament to the power of combining ancient wisdom with modern understanding, and today, we have the privilege of delving into her vast reservoir of insights. Join us as we explore the lush landscapes of herbalism, traverse the pages of her literary contributions, uncover the secrets of her classroom teachings, and savor the flavors of her culinary creations. Get ready to be inspired, informed, and invigorated in the company of Brigitte Mars.

You hold multiple titles, including herbalist, author, professor, and natural chef. Could you please share your journey into the realm of herbalism and what initially ignited your interest in delving into the world of plants and natural remedies?

I had the privilege of having a wonderful French-Canadian grandmother who utilized numerous folk remedies, and remarkably, they appeared to yield positive results. Her ability to predict the weather seemed more accurate than that of the weatherman. We also produced our own Maple syrup and crafted soap in a cauldron. These experiences nurtured my profound love for nature.

I vividly recall witnessing her nurse a wounded bird back to health, an incident that left an indelible mark on me. It ignited a fervent desire within me to cultivate the ability to heal through natural means. My upbringing in upstate New York involved being subjected to a series of shots and antibiotics. In response, I often wished for the wisdom of folk remedies, as I believed they were tailored for the well-being of the people.

During my high school years, whenever I had assignments due on subjects such as chemistry, Spanish, French, or history, I seized the opportunity to explore the world of plant medicine. At an all-girls boarding school, I maintained a drawer filled with a variety of natural remedies. Classmates often approached me for assistance, allowing me to offer chamomile tea for stomachaches, peppermint tea for headaches, ginger for nausea, and Rosemary to aid in studying. Despite my youth, I experimented with these remedies, realizing that they had been relied upon by countless individuals for centuries, and they indeed produced positive outcomes.

From that point forward, my journey continued. I lived in the Virgin Islands and contributed to the establishment of a natural foods’ restaurant. A period of communal living in the Ozarks ensued, where I resided in a teepee. During this time, I discovered that the forests and fields were teeming with a plethora of herbs, including blackberries, elder, wild asparagus, and wild roses. My primary aspiration was to identify and learn about these plants, drying them for use throughout the winter months.

I was a parent to two young children, named Sunflower and Rainbeau. My journey to Boulder began in 1977 when I enrolled in massage school. My intention was to deepen my knowledge of anatomy, physiology, nutrition, and acupressure, among other traditional medicine practices, with the belief that these skills would enhance my abilities as an herbalist. Not long after that, I embarked on a professional career as an herbalist. During that time, I had the privilege of serving as the herbalist for Alfalfa's Market, one of the largest natural food stores in the country. Customers would seek advice for issues like hay fever and insomnia, and I would provide them with herbal remedies while also sharing additional suggestions. This experience affirmed the efficacy of these remedies as I saw their positive impact on people's well-being.

Over the past three decades, I have authored 14 books on natural medicine. Each book represented an in-depth exploration of the subject matter at hand. Additionally, for the past 40 years, I have held the role of an herbal medicine professor at Naropa University. This has allowed me to impart timeless wisdom to young minds, witnessing them express how this knowledge has transformed their lives. Such feedback has motivated me to continue on this path. I firmly believe that my work not only aids individuals in their health journeys but also contributes to the well-being of our planet. By encouraging the cultivation of these beneficial pollinators that support bees, butterflies, soil, and air quality, I feel I'm making a positive impact. For these reasons, I am dedicated to persisting in my pursuits.

We are currently living in a world that is increasingly reliant on pharmaceutical solutions. In light of this, what role do you envision herbalism playing in the promotion of holistic health and wellness?

The history of Big Pharma is a longstanding one that stretches back to a time when women were barred from attending medical school and were even denied the opportunity to read. During this era, an ancient tradition of herbalists and midwives providing aid to their communities emerged. These healers often exchanged their expertise for goods like cabbage, potatoes, or eggs. However, both Big Pharma and the church disapproved of this practice, resulting in the persecution of many herbalists and midwives as witches.

Personally, I feel a sense of responsibility to a higher purpose, one that I embrace willingly. If we rewind to the year 1900, around 80% of pharmaceuticals were derived from plants. It's fascinating to realize that even some of our modern medications have their roots in natural sources. Birth control pills, for instance, originated from Wild Yam, while heart medicines like Digoxin were extracted from Foxglove. Even Aspirin traces back to Meadow Sweet, Willow trees, and Aspen bark.

In 1917, the Rockefeller Foundation dispatched an individual named Mr. Flexner to assess medical schools across the country. His assignment led to the Flexner report, which essentially pushed medical institutions to exclusively teach the newer, modern form of medicine. Funding would be granted only to schools that adhered to this directive, leaving out institutions that continued to teach traditional, nature-based approaches like herbalism and homeopathy.

Contrasting this with the European model, pharmacies in parts of Europe, both eastern and western, still offer natural remedies alongside pharmaceutical drugs. This coexistence can be attributed to the preservation of the wise woman tradition, a nature-based approach that not only benefits individuals but also the planet as a whole. My commitment to studying and advocating for this approach remains steadfast, as I've witnessed its effectiveness firsthand.

Do you have a memorable case, perhaps just one, although I'm sure you have many, where your herbal remedies had a substantial impact on someone's health and well-being?

There are countless stories, literally thousands upon thousands, that underscore why I continue in this line of work. Allow me to share that during my twenties, I had experience with birth control pills. In my early twenties, I discovered a significant lump in my breast. Three separate doctors recommended a mastectomy. However, I opted to explore an alternative route, committing to fasting and seeing if the lump could be eliminated without invasive measures. Fasting, which requires no financial cost, miraculously led to the disappearance of the lump. I chose to keep both my breasts, and that experience has significantly fueled my determination to persist in this field.

Moreover, my daughter Rainbeau, who is now in her forties, battled asthma that resulted in two hospitalizations. Rather than passively accepting the situation, I proactively delved into finding solutions. My journey led me to create a syrup infused with garlic, ginger, cayenne pepper, honey, and lemon. This concoction, coupled with her adoption of yoga and breathwork, contributed to her becoming a prominent yogini with an impressive collection of yoga DVDs.

The personal anecdotes are just a small fraction of the larger picture. There exists an abundance of clients with their own unique stories. Many were informed of their infertility or were urged to undergo surgery, only to later find a different path through herbs and holistic practices. Furthermore, studies frequently conducted on animals or utilizing synthetic compounds often attempt to validate age-old wisdom. Nonetheless, I remain steadfast in my commitment to the tried-and-true tradition of natural remedies. While some may opt for medications and injections, I will continue advocating for the approach that resonates with me and countless others.

Do you have a significant approach when it comes to selecting and combining herbs? For instance, as you mentioned, you've assisted your daughter and your boyfriend. Do you adhere to certain principles or guidelines in this process? Could you explain how you approach this?

There are a few essential aspects I always consider. Firstly, I make it a point to delve into the emotional facets surrounding the ailment. When the condition began, what circumstances were prevailing? This inquiry is crucial as I'm not merely interested in masking symptoms with herbs. I steer clear of an allopathic herbalism approach. My intention is to address the root cause genuinely. I approach this holistically, aiming to enhance not just the external but also the internal factors.

Diet plays a significant role in the process as well. It's not solely about using herbs; it's about how we can enhance the individual's diet. If someone is grappling with high blood pressure and they're inclined to rely solely on herbs, it's pertinent to consider broader lifestyle adjustments. Perhaps reducing coffee consumption, integrating meditation practices, embracing mellower music, moderating red meat intake, opting for better quality salts, and ensuring adequate hydration could all contribute. My approach encompasses these considerations.

Furthermore, I examine their current regimen. When I meet with individuals, I urge them to maintain a food journal for a week and bring along any medications, herbs, and supplements they're taking. Often, one medication could lead to another, creating a chain reaction. For instance, being on an antidepressant might inadvertently impact blood pressure. This thorough assessment is vital.

Digging deeper, I inquire about their life circumstances when the issue first emerged. Emotional components can be pivotal. The ailment's onset could be linked to pivotal life events such as divorce, relocation, work-related stress, or personal tragedies. Emotional insights provide valuable context.

After addressing the emotional and dietary dimensions, I might explore the potential of herbs. However, I also incorporate vitamins, flower essences, and even colors. For instance, for someone experiencing depression, I might suggest wearing vibrant hues to uplift their mood. Essential oils also play a role; certain scents can boost memory or energy levels. My toolkit is diverse and draws from nature's abundance.

Ultimately, I view my role as one of education and empowerment. Healing comes from within, facilitated by the individual themselves. While some attribute their recovery from conditions like multiple sclerosis, arthritis, or even cancer to my guidance, I recognize that it's their commitment, dedication, and willingness to adopt positive changes that drive their progress. I function as a coach, offering insights and guidance. Nature's resources and a higher power contribute to the healing journey.

Since you mentioned that you were also a natural chef, could you offer insights into your philosophy of promoting a healthy lifestyle through culinary expertise?

Alright, well, you know, it's often been said that we dig our graves with our forks. I'm not sure who originally uttered that phrase, but I find it quite meaningful. It's intriguing how people sometimes blame God for afflicting them with dreadful illnesses. They express anger towards a higher power. Yet, in reality, we have choices each day. Most of us are aware that sugar behaves like a drug; it's addictive. We also recognize other truths. For instance, I often discuss the concept of "eating courageously." Long ago, hunters would consume specific animal parts to gain attributes—like ingesting an elk's heart for bravery or a rabbit's liver for improved vision. In the present day, factory-farmed, tormented animals are consumed, leading to potential mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, or paranoia.

I predominantly follow a plant-based diet, though I acknowledge that meat can sometimes possess medicinal qualities. I haven't been an exclusive vegan, and my approach leans towards plant-based consumption. Yet, there are instances where meat can serve as medicine. The crux is that we have the power to choose what we ingest into our bodies. It's worth contemplating fried foods, genetically modified oils, chips, and foods laden with artificial colors. The logic behind neglecting the importance of our dietary choices eludes me. I advocate for a diet embracing all colors of the rainbow—incorporating daily salads and vibrant, antioxidant-rich fruits. Often, individuals unknowingly consume allergens like wheat, dairy, soy, and genetically modified crops.

The process of choice-making is a daily source of joy. I thoroughly relish creating healing cuisine. Additionally, I firmly believe that many plants commonly deemed as weeds hold immense health benefits—examples include dandelion, nettles, chickweed, and violets. These plants endure adversity; they thrive without human intervention, showcasing their resilience. In contrast, the pursuit of perfect lawns laden with grass seems ill-advised. Such endeavors require excessive water consumption, gasoline for lawnmowers, and effort. I find this counterintuitive. Our outdoor spaces could instead feature dandelions, which possess anti-cancer properties and aid liver health, benefiting our eyesight as well. Despite being 70 years old, I don't require glasses. Recently, I survived a 15-foot fall onto my head and pelvis without breaking a single bone. These experiences affirm the effectiveness of natural remedies.

My passion for this subject is reflected in my upcoming books—"Dandelion Medicine" and "Nettle Power." These publications champion the potency of often-overlooked plants. It's a straightforward and cost-effective approach to nutrition. As we strive to conserve water and promote sustainability, championing these "weeds" makes perfect sense. I'm committed to advocating for this cause for the duration of my life.

If you would like to find out more about Brigitte Mars, visit https://brigittemars.com/

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