I took a walk through an herbal garden for the first time in 1984 and fell in love. The rich, full, seductive bouquet of gardenia, jasmine, and rose combined with the more delicate, lemony scent of lemon balm, the intense smell of peppermint and the woody, camphorous aroma of rosemary intoxicated me.
I wanted more.
I started my first herb garden in Connecticut where I was born and raised; some lamb’s ears, lemon verbena, peppermint, and what I called my “Scarborough Fair” of parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme. Over the years, my little garden expanded to a variety of other herbs, and I educated myself on their therapeutic benefits too, by going to the library and taking out books with recipes and folklore, some of which I used to help myself through a diagnosis of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.
My little hobby served me well for about two decades but in 2009, a friend’s illness prompted me to seek schooling. Up until that time, I only knew how to have a hobby, not actually help anyone else except for the blended teas and oils I made for gift giving. After the news of my friend, it suddenly became real.
I found the American College of Healthcare Sciences in Oregon and started distance learning, one class at a time. I thought it would take forever to obtain any credentials because a diploma was 39 credits: an average of one credit per month! I wanted to be an herbalist, but I discovered I wanted everything else too. Aromatherapist, Holistic Health Practitioner, and Nutritionist. I fell in love with an entire field of complementary and alternative medicine!
And so, I began. One step at a time, one class at a time, while I worked. Every dollar I made went to pay for every class I took.
Today, I am nearly 62 years old and currently hold two diplomas which I obtained in 2017; one in Master Herbalism and the other in Holistic Health; a certification in Holistic Nutrition from the American Fitness Professionals Association and in October 2021, a certification in nutrition for Mental Health and Addiction recovery from the Academy for Addiction and Mental Health Nutrition in Wayne, WV. Through nutrition, I have helped others recover from food and other chemical addictions such as caffeine, sugar, dairy, gluten, tobacco, and anxiety medications. I am also trained in aromatherapy, blending essential oils and flowers for perfumery.
I work full time at Valley Naturals Vitamins and Whole Foods Store in Saint Albans, where I have the freedom to create herbal tea blends and will be blending essential oils for health issues and fragrant perfumes. On Mondays, I hold classes at either our St. Albans store or Teays Valley, on various topics. Updates on location and time, as well as featured products can be found on our Facebook page at @valleynaturalswv.
In the meantime, if you haven’t had a chance to visit, please stop by and say hello. I may offer you some tea, either single herb or my own blend which I call “Guardian at the Gate” because it protects and defends. Full-bodied flavors of hibiscus, rooibos, orange peel, stinging nettle leaf, elderberries and cinnamon make a delicious tonic that helps build the immune system, and helps lower blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol and more.
But if you aren’t a tea drinker and just want a good multivitamin, fish oil, or relief from joint pain, Valley Naturals has what you are looking for. Let us help you navigate your way through all that we offer.
Darlene Rose is a Master Herbalist and Holistic Health Practitioner. She can be reached at Valley Naturals, St. Albans or by email at email@example.com