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What to Expect in an Herbal Consultation (with Jennie)

Welcome to your herbal consultation! 

I am Jennie Isbell Shinn, and I will be your herbalist today! The world of herbs and plant remedies is vast and old, so I want to offer some insight into the particular approach I take with clients and students.


Before we enter into the herbalist-client relationship, you will receive an Informed Disclosure Form which clarifies and affirms that I am not a medical doctor (nor do I want to be!). Much like the models of health and personhood we hear about from the East which have prana and chi and meridians and chakras, Western Herbalism also has systems of energetics. It also operates with different goals than conventional medicine. And it’s sometimes slow when viewed against the world of pharmaceuticals. On the bright side, it also often slows us down, which is a big part of healing and self-care in today’s frenetic world.


My training includes nearly a decade of self-directed study and attending conferences with more experienced herbalists before I entered into a two-year apprenticeship at Blazing Star School of Herbal Studies in Ashfield, MA where I got a very good foundation in the basics of plants, chemical constituents, body systems, herbal actions, herbal preparations and more. The move from self-taught home herbalist to Community Herbalist came about because of these two years of apprenticeship. After a small break and becoming a mother at 42 (!!), I continued on with a year of focused clinical herbal study at the Commonwealth Center for Holistic Herbalism in Boston. I now continue my education under the supervision of an herbal mentor and by participating in a clinical roundtable with other herbalists to discuss cases, conditions, and simply grow my skills as a clinician.


Clinical herbalism is a world apart from home herbalism. I love making and teaching about “home remedies” because they work and it’s fun! Best cough syrup ever! Best sleepy tea ever! Best skin balm ever! Did you know you can do ____ with things from your yard?!

Whereas my home herbalism focused on getting to know the plants and making effective catch-all remedies, my clinical herbalism addresses one person at a time and does so holistically. This means there is a thorough intake process that includes questions about everything from diet to poop to sleep to caffeine and alcohol use to computer screen time to exercise. (It’s entirely possible that a cough can be wet or dry, and depending on which one, the herbal ally and its purpose will be different. And would you believe that cutting your electronics use a couple hours before bed will help your sleep which might help you lose weight?) It also means that while some concerns can be addressed herbally in a relatively short period of time, the biggest changes will happen as you become convinced to make small lifestyle changes, that are herbally supported, over time.


I am happy to answer more questions about what the work is like, or what brought me to this part of my work. In short form, this is what the herbal timeline/consult often looks like:

  1. Schedule an intake, in person or via video (phone also possible, but video is better). This is usually an hour to 75-minutes. I will ask you a lot of questions and take a lot of notes. Behind the scenes, I am tapping into everything I know about energetics, tissue states, herbal constituents and actions, and more, forming a picture of the story you are telling me. I imagine it as a tree-shaped story where some things are branches and leaves, and other things are root concerns.
  2. If you are with me in person, we may spend the last bit of time blending a tea or talking about how to make a specific herbal preparation.
  3. If we are on video, together we will consider what kinds of remedies you are willing to use (She who does not like herbal tea would not be served by a recommendation for herbal tea--- how about an herbal vinegar as a water additive then?). Depending on what comes up, as in the in-person sessions, we will spend some time determining basic herbal formulas that meet your needs and situation.
  4. I will send a follow-up by email or postal mail with recipes and recommendations. Depending on where you are, I may be able to connect you with a local herb source or apothecary. I am a strong proponent of people connecting with plants directly, so if you’re game, I’ll probably teach you about plant id and preparation so you can do some home herbalist things on your own. If kitchen-chemistry isn’t your thing, don’t worry. 
  5. Most important step (or second most important after item #1 above), is the follow-up. We will have a 20-minute follow-up visit that is scheduled at the time of the first visit. I don’t charge for this because it’s part of the consultation. If we need more than 20 minutes, we should consider booking an entire hour for a second consultation. The follow-up is usually 2-3 weeks after the initial visit, and it is the time to report on progress and tweak the recommendations, as needed.

An important note:

I don’t sell products. I may give samples to clients and students, of things that we work on together, but when you pay me, you are paying for an educational consultation customized in response to the information obtained in the intake process. The cost of herbs is yours, as it the decision to follow any recommendations for further consideration that come up in our time together. I can help you find a supplier, and I can help you with recipes and troubleshooting.


Central to my work as an herbalist are commitments to increase accessibility to herbalism-- education and consultation ---  and to use easily available plants in my work. Where possible, I am working with local plants, either found or cultivated. Many, many herbal allies exist in spice cabinets all over the US! 


I look forward to working with you!

Jennie