Health, herbs & career insights
| Educator
14th Sep, 2022Podcast

 

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Jacqui Fahey (00:05): Welcome to Common Ground, a podcast series discussing new research and interesting projects in the field of complementary medicine. Hello, my name is Jacqui Fahey, Head of education at vital.ly 

Today on Common Ground I'll be speaking with Erin Lovell Verinder to discuss clinical insights for your practice along with her journey authoring two books.

Erin is an Australian trained Herbalist, Nutritionist and Author of two plant medicine titles, Plants for the People and The Plant Clinic. Erin’s work is to reconnect the people with the plants!

Her training began studying a Diploma of Energetic Healing (Nature Care college, 2002), following with a Bachelor of Western Herbal Medicine (Nature Care college, 2011), and an Advanced Diploma of Nutritional Medicine (Nature Care college, 2012).

Walking the plant path, she is a woman in tune with the natural world. On a full-hearted mission to educate and inspire others to heal with the rhythms of nature, through the bounty of plant medicine.

Erin runs a thriving clinical practice, alongside mentoring students and emerging practitioners, she teaches the love language of the plants within her communities and writes from the wild green island of Tasmania.

Welcome to Common Ground Erin!

Erin Lovell Verinder (01:28): Aw, thank you for having me Jacqui, happy to be here.

Jacqui Fahey (01:31): Thank you for sharing your wisdom I'll say in advance already. So Erin, you're a clinical nutritionist, herbalist and writer. What led you down this path of health and then onto writing?

Erin Lovell Verinder (01:47): It's like, I could answer that in this really succinct way but I think that there's just all of the, it's complicated you know, there's all of these parts of me, I think that were really engaged with different facets of nature and nature admiration and health and healing as a child. And as a teenager that sort of ended up bringing me here. I was always just so fascinated with nature. Always felt most at home with nature and plants. I got a sense of gardening from my uncle and got a sense of healing remedies from my auntie. There was just all these influences in my life that came together to sort of encourage me in this strange way, you know, to start walking this path of healing and starting with energetic healing. Yeah, I was always so just enamored with esoteric healing. And so that's where I began as a teenager, but always wanted to know more about the body. And as I, as my body changed, I was so curious about physical healing as well. And knowing all that sort of esoteric work well, how could I bring it into the physical realm? And yeah, that's what got me into sort of herbalism and nutritional medicine and oh so many things brought me here. That that's very long winded, but you know, it was like multifaceted to bring me here.

Jacqui Fahey (03:13): Beautiful. And then onto writing, where did that come from for you?

Erin Lovell Verinder (03:20): It's interesting because I think my job as a clinician, it is a quite clinical role, you know, the way that I'm working with people. Obviously I bring a lot of heart and spirit to it, but I have all these other parts of myself that I love engaging. And, you know, a lot of it is say that hands on connectivity is with gardening and my creative self.  I love being creative. I love you know, really in the pursuit of beauty and just beauty in all different facets, writing and poetry and the poetry of nature. And for me yeah, writing was just always a creative outlet. And I loved writing when I was young and what brought me to write the books was just to ignite that part of myself that wasn't really being fed in my clinical practice.

These other facets of myself and writing for me is a really a powerful way of sharing information and creating accessibility. And so what brought me to writing was all of those desires to put my creative self and vision and all these beautiful lessons that I've learned along the way as a hub list and admiration of nature and plant medicine, and to bring it all like onto the paper, into written words to make it accessible and reachable for people. So, yeah, just in a really strange kind of way I came to writing Jacqui, honestly, it wasn't really my plan. It just sort of happened.

Jacqui Fahey (04:49): Yeah. It evolved into that. Wonderful.

Erin Lovell Verinder (04:53): Evolved. Exactly.

Jacqui Fahey (04:54): You are in clinical practice as well. What do you see as some critical element to success in clinic?

Erin Lovell Verinder (05:05): Hmm, that's a really good question. My first thought is really hard work because I think, you know, for me, I think my success as a clinician has been just an accumulation of hard work over the years of really working at it and really being very consistent with it and giving it a whole lot of energy, time and presence to thrive in my life. So making a lot of space for it. But one thing that really comes to me when you ask that question is around the different iterations that for me, my clinic has taken and continues to take on. And I think that this is something that I always talk about when I'm mentoring students and emerging practitioners is around, you know, your clinic and career needs to work for you and help you thrive first and foremost.

Jacqui Fahey (05:55): Well said.

Erin Lovell Verinder (05:58): For me, that's changed a bunch, what I've needed to thrive, you know, my capacity and ability to say, do 12 hour days is no longer, you know, that's been no longer for a long time, you know, or to make myself, you know, available for whatever may suit a client when you first start. It emerges, it keeps shifting for me over, well, okay, what's gonna work for me? How, how can I be at my best for me at this point of my life? I'm so good in the mornings and the days, and I just do not have that capacity in the afternoon. So I schedule my time where possible to be at my energy peak, you know, and when I'm really at my best to be able to show up for my job. So yeah, it's just a continuation and a refining what works for you as a clinician yeah. As well to be great for your clients. Does that make sense?

Jacqui Fahey (06:57): Yeah, it does. Yeah. Because it's a bit of a, I guess, a reflective process, isn't it? And you sort of take a moment, you pause, is this working for me? Do I need to tweak it? Don't I, mmm…

Erin Lovell Verinder (07:08): Yeah. Do I need to tweak it? Don't I? What's making my, what, what am I feeling? Good and comfortable? Is this practice suiting me? You know, there's, there's all these questions. I think that it comes down to, how does it also feed you and how do you feel about showing up for that? And that's something that I continually ask myself and I keep refining as a practitioner, well, into many, many years of practice, it's a constant evolution for sure.

Jacqui Fahey (07:33): Yes. Compliance with patients, that can come up for some practitioners and students when they graduate, you know, that's often a question, how do you increase patient compliance? What worked for you in your experience?

 Erin Lovell Verinder (07:50): The biggest thing for me in my experience as a clinician is empowering the client with as much information as possible to explain the process of the protocol or the therapeutic approach. So, you know, I always aim to really explain to my client and really bring them into the healing process to understand why I'm suggesting those foods. I'm suggesting that lifestyle shift, these herbs, this supplementation, this practice to really arm them with information. So they feel really pumped and on board, you know, and excited and a part of the process. And I find that is major with compliance. People will lose a sense of something and to be compliant or the drive and the motivation to do something. If they don't understand why they're doing it or taking it, you know, or practicing it. Yeah. So that's the biggest thing for me is just empowering the client to really understand. So giving them as much digestible and accessible information as I can to remind them, to motivate them, to empower them.

Jacqui Fahey (09:03): Yeah. It's a good point, isn't it? Because health literacy is just vital. From the styles of how we learn.

Erin Lovell Verinder (09:11): Absolutely. Absolutely. And I think I personally know, you know, that, I think one of the first naturopaths I saw when I was, you know, teenager was like, my mum took me to our, I chose to go to, I do remember just getting a bag of things. It was a bag of supplements, you know, and it was like, I had no idea why I was taking the things I was taking. I didn't understand what they were doing. And I remember that experience being incredibly disempowering. And so for my own health process. And so for me, that's, I want to do the opposite of that. I really want to explain to people what's, you know, to obviously to a degree, but, you know, explain, and help them feel motivated and onboard.

Jacqui Fahey (09:56): Yeah. Beautifully shared. And congratulations on your second book, 'The Plant Clinic'.

Erin Lovell Verinder (10:03): Thank you.

Jacqui Fahey (10:04): How did you juggle clinic and writing your second book...even your first book?

Erin Lovell Verinder (10:12):  Funny, because I've just started. Yeah, the first and the third I've just started writing my third book. I'm facing that right now. And I'm like, okay. You know, just scheduling and how to really give this space and energy and honour all things that I'm in right now.

It was a real challenge. It's a real challenge writing the books for sure. Because my clinic is a full-time practice. You know, what I found really helpful was when I, where possible, I would take chunks of time off. So I, I took some time off, you know, like four to six weeks when I was writing the first book and then yes, I took sort of six weeks off and I was writing ‘The Plant Clinic’ and I would schedule, I'd have to schedule time and a week for the book and then, you know, back to clinic and a week for the book and really just give it a lot of energy and presence.

It's a funny thing when you're writing books, I mean, for me, they sit with me for a long time. So I'm, before I get to actually writing the process is really internal and it's really enduring so it's, you know, I'm thinking about the books and I'm thinking about things that inspire me in recipes and I'm putting it all together in the background. So that kind of just, yeah, sometimes I'll be in clinic and I'll go, oh yes, that and that will be an idea, you know, through a client and what we're talking about, you know, so it's sort of funny thing doing these books. They unfold in this really interesting way. But yeah, it takes a lot to, like anyone listening who is a clinician and also has another job or other projects or other roles. There's always this interesting, you know, juggling octopus act of holding all these things at once, but at the same time, you know what I mean? So it's an interesting journey, Jacqui. I mean, I make it work. I just give it lots of energy and presence. And I know now that I'm writing this next book until May, I know that that's going to really just hold me captive right alongside my clinic until May. It just takes a lot, oh it's funny. I don't even know how to answer that. It's a lot but it's, they're also a real joy and it's so beautiful when you start to see and come to light just off the page, the design comes together, we take the photos and I love that creative process of bringing other parts of plant medicine to life, you know, and bringing the plants, just to dance on the page, through words, through imagery, through design. I really enjoy that. And I think that lights me up for sure. It gets me through the challenging times when I'm juggling to know that it's going to come out and be on the shelves and be in people's homes and be of service. And that really drives me for sure. To bring it to life.

Jacqui Fahey (13:00): It's quite evident with your books with the colour and the energy of the plant. It's almost like a revisiting some of the herbs that we've been taught, you know, through herbal medicine and just the wealth of what mother earth is providing us. It's quite beautiful, isn't it?

Erin Lovell Verinder (13:21): It's so inspiring. Yes. I mean, that's my greatest inspiration and happy to be a small part of that, you know. To bring people, things that inspire them. For sure.

Jacqui Fahey (13:30): Tell us a bit about your second book ‘The Plant Clinic’. How best does a practitioner use this book? Is it mainly for practitioners?

Erin Lovell Verinder (13:43): No. I mean, it was, they were written both for the general public. And I knew that they would be very sort of varied people, you know, finding these books and varied knowledge points of it, whether they were just beginners totally new to plant medicine or they were practitioners. But it's funny because it's reached all sorts of people and what I found with ‘The Plant Clinic’, because it has these protocols and it has so many recipes and guides that a lot of naturopathic students and practitioners will actually use the book, utilise the book for inspiration to guide them with protocols and ideas. And I think that's just so lovely. So it's been, it's for everybody really. Anyone can pick up that book, but practitioners seem to get a lot from which is just so lovely. It's kind of an extra added, amazing thing that's come from the book.

Jacqui Fahey (14:43): I do like how you've laid it out and you've got, say for example, the daily protocol section, that's a really nice layout. So what's your understanding and approach to protocols?

Erin Lovell Verinder (14:57): It was funny writing ‘The Plant Clinic’ because it's one thing to have a client face to face in clinic who say has, you know, chronic bloating and sinusitis. And, you know, so when you say putting a protocol together for them, you're obviously considering the all different types of things of the person in front of you, the individualised care, their constitution, all the things, you know, but when you're writing a protocols for all sorts of people to read a book, it was a really interesting experience to, well, how do I write a protocol that can be approachable and safe and all the things for everybody who might be experiencing bloating and sinusitis or whatnot? So I kind of came back to these, you know, principles of folklore medicine and these everyday remedies that have been shared in herbalism forever.

And obviously, you know, in these recent generations, we've lost our way a little bit with that handed down knowledge, but I really return to those principles. And I thought, yeah, okay, you know, these are remedies that are out there. How do I then take my clinical knowledge and understanding and all of the lessons I've learned over the years and sort of bridge it into a really accessible, helpful herbal healing protocol. That's where the protocols came from. So they're different to what I would say prescribe in some ways, of course, in clinic, in a clinical setting, one to one, but they're very similar in ways, just in a really kind of accessible way. I just tried to make them really easy going, like, say for somebody who's got a cold, you know, increased garlic, increased cook forming foods, here's a herbal tea for your cold. What about steams? You know? And it was all, sometimes these things that we often forget about as clinicians that are really basic compared back, but that it can be super profound and a lot of people don't know these things. So how to just inspire and remind people of these simple practices that can be so helpful.

Jacqui Fahey (16:51):  Yeah. That's a good point. I was publishing an interview for Common Ground soon and it's to do with Long COVID and you know, where is the research at? And I thought of you because it said, what is the official line that the AYUSH government in India are taking with regards to preventing reinfection of COVID-19. Some of the protocol’s principles were yoga for 20 minutes a day, warm hot water, warm to hot water during the day and then herbal teas. And it just, it talked about, teas from your garden and just going out, getting herbs. I thought of you because it's like, yeah, there's that connection isn't it to plant, to healing, to medicine?

Erin Lovell Verinder (17:39): Yes. I mean, that’s totally what, you know, both of my books are about and ‘Plants for the People’ was really the first one was really remembering of those plants and trying to inspire people to reconnect again. And so is ‘The Plant Clinic’ and that's totally what much of my work is about. And it's the how potent relationship with plants and nature can be for us in so many ways, you know, not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually and yeah. All of these, but I love that. That's, that's really beautiful that they also suggested potent. I think that they, that, that's what they're also giving the public. Okay. It's about a lifestyle practice. It's about plants. It's, you know, it's about warm water, like so simple.

Jacqui Fahey (18:23): With you talking just now Erin, it brought to mind sometimes when students and recent graduates ask, you know, ‘how do you know what to specialise in? Do you need to specialise? Should I specialise? shouldn't I?’, and it seems like the key word for this interview that we're having this chat is about evolving and evolution. You've evolved into, you know, you had a passion with regards to gardening and the influence, as you said, from some family members growing up, it's a natural progress, isn't it? When, you know, I'm just thinking of students here when they ask such a question and maybe does that come up for you in mentoring? What do I specialise in? What are your thoughts around that?

Erin Lovell Verinder (19:13): It's actually a great question because I get asked it all of the time. And I think I would've sort of had a different answer as a young practitioner, I felt also motivated to really specialise in something. And it's just interesting how my again, the word evolution, of my practice. I remember when I came out, I was working a lot with paediatrics and I was working with, I always had a, you know, deep affinity for kids and having been a nanny in my past life career you know and had loving working with kids. And I loved working in that space as a herbalist nutritionist for years. And I thought that's what I'm doing. And it just changed really quickly as I was moving through my own personal health journey. I started seeing so many more women experiencing burnout and just this like nuanced client that I just kept kind of attracting.

Erin Lovell Verinder (20:18): And it really made me expand. I no longer sort of thought of myself as specialising in this way. And my experience just has continually kept changing and moving as a clinician. And in my career, like you said, these different sort of chapters and these different these openings that have opened up as I've shifted as a person and you know, my own personal growth, I think it reflects my career because I think so much of, I don’t know, how everybody else feels about this, but for me, there's really not much of a separation between my career path as a herbalist and my personal path as a person on this earth who loves the plant from the planet. Like they're really connected. And so my own personal evolution always seems to really mirror what I'm putting out into the world or how I can kind of show up as a herbalist. So yeah, when people ask me that, I always sort of say, I don't think you need to specialise or put that pressure on yourself. I think you need to explore and I think you need to feel into what you're drawn to. I think it's a really individual personal expression as to who you are drawing in and what you're what you're interested in, in practice as well.

Jacqui Fahey (21:48): Exactly. And then I guess then when you hear words, like, what's the keys to success? and of course that's important, but what does that look like? And as you said earlier, it's integrating, this is part of your life, and this is part of your clinic work. So if yeah, if that flows for you, that you are marrying the two together, I mean, how beautiful, because there's one quote that I heard a few years back, you know, life doesn't happen to you, it happens through you and it's yeah, you can see that you have the blend, because you can see through the books that you've written, your joy. I mean your absolute joy, you know, herbal medicine and plants and nature and yeah, it's very inspiring.

Erin Lovell Verinder (22:36): Thank you Jacqui thank you. Sweet.

Jacqui Fahey (22:39): I wanted to ask you, with your books, you've got so many recipes in there that are just absolute gems, where have all these recipes come from?

Erin Lovell Verinder (22:50): Gosh, many years, you know, I loved many years of collecting, thinking, formulating... I loved herbal manufacturing at college. You know, the unit was probably one of my favourites and I just loved being hands on and making with the plants and definitely felt that that was something I wished there was more of, you know, in my training. So when I got out of college, you know, it's been many years of just playing and I love cooking and I love being in the kitchen. And, you know, even with like when I'm baking a cake, I'll infuse it with, you know, rose petals and I'll try, you know what I mean, chamomile, and I'll always sort of play with recipes and even with cooking and I just love playing in that way. And so a lot of my recipes and ideas came from experimenting and for the book, you know, I would challenge myself for both the books and I would sort of stand in front of my very large dried herb dispensary, so I invested in many dried herbs, and I would sort of stand in front of the herbs and just think, and sort of just feel into what might come and obviously my clinical knowledge and experience and reading a lot and just gathering information. And you know, I said, okay, well, what am I going to do for, I mentioned sinus a bunch, so that's coming forward, so what am I going to do for a sinus remedy? Or what am I going to do for shingles? And so it would just be sort of trying things and putting them together and really enjoying that practical alchemical kind of process of making. And even I recall, you know, in the States, I tried like this beautiful iron rich tonic. And so then I was like, well, how do I, what would I do if I was to create an iron rich tonic, you know? And there's an iron enriched syrup in the plant clinic that's really well loved by people, which is awesome. And so many people make it and I love it. I love having it myself here. And that was just honestly trial and error. So that's what the recipes are. And obviously based on...a big nod to our ancestral wisdom of plant medicine and traditional wisdoms, and that's where a lot of these, you know, these recipes, all origin originate from and are inspired from, of course.

Jacqui Fahey (25:06): And for some of your patients, like if they don't have sort of the space in their backyard, maybe if they're living in an apartment and they've got a balcony, what would be an approach for them? How would you help them out for putting some of your recipes together?

Erin Lovell Verinder (25:24): I mean, I always say if you're keen to grow and you're, you know, you feel that call, then just start with really easy growing woody, hardy plants, you know, we’re talking like your thyme and your rose, your oregano, and that's where I always get people to start very simple. Because you, there's actually so much that you can do with those three plants. And I think that it's a beautiful thing to encourage people to get to know a plant well. Because it can be really overwhelming to think about, like, if you're not much of a gardener or you're new to it, it can be really overwhelming to think about growing a garden. But just to also get to know one plant, to get to know the growing quality of a plant, the medicinal qualities, you know, what it seems to thrive from and not love.

I just think there's a beautiful invitation in that relationship. And I know that personally, a lot of clients, like if they do get into growing or they get their books and they're keen, and, you know, we talk about growing or working with different plants in a simple way in session, they always come back and reported in such like a they're really just engaged and intrigued by it. Like, oh, I learned this about rosemary.  I used this, I tried this rosemary hair once you've got, or I, you know, it's like, it's really lovely to see people sort of give energy and presence to one plant because you realise how healing that can be as well in different facets for people to engage with that one plant.

Jacqui Fahey (26:48): Yeah. That's a good point actually. Just keep it simple, just down to the one and get to know it and yeah, move on to another one. And what do you think of companion planting?

Erin Lovell Verinder (26:59): Oh, I love it. I mean, I'm a big, big companion planter myself. Do my very best with it. Sometimes I can, I'm a double Aries, I can go a bit wild in the garden and just, you know, just do whatever comes in the moment. But no, I really try to pay attention to companion planting and I, in all of my gardens that I've had, you know, we’re big on bringing in the bees and so always bringing in flowering plants and really trying to practice those principles of companion, planting, and flowering plants to, you know, attract those bees. And also just keep away the, some of the bugs you don't want to have a go at your plants. We're actually facing a new garden here in our, we've just bought this place in Tassie and it's a clean slate, so that's exciting for us. We're just planning and waiting for spring to come to get out there.

Erin Lovell Verinder (27:53): We might see some of the visuals from your new Tassie space in your third book would you say?

Erin Lovell Verinder (28:00): I hope so. Yeah. That's the plan. Feeling like I need to get that garden going but yeah, it's exciting. I just love gardening. I think there's just so much to it. And as herbalists, you know, I think we, we often as clinical herbalists and with our training, sometimes we don't consider that to be a part of it as much as say when you're training in the States, and it's a very hands-on approach often in the garden. And so I think it's a beautiful thing for, for us to yeah, deepen our relationship with our gardens, if possible, and learn again from that hands on approach of what the plants can teach us too.

Jacqui Fahey (28:38): Absolutely the signature of the plants and it's very grounding, isn't it? Yeah.

Erin Lovell Verinder (28:44): Oh, is I find it the best medicine truly.

Jacqui Fahey (28:48): Well, thank you so much for sharing your experience and wisdom today on Common Ground Erin.

Erin Lovell Verinder (28:57): Thank you for having me.

Jacqui Fahey (28:58): Yeah. Thank you. And thanks for tuning into this episode today. We appreciate your support and feel free to leave us a review. We'd love to hear from you. Thank you.

 

Erin Lovell Verinder's website