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The Antioch Apothecary: Teas and Tinctures, Syrups and Salves

With uncertainty over health insurance coverage and out-of-control medical costs, including pharmaceuticals, there is a renewed interest today in taking control of one’s own health care and in relearning about herbal medicines and folk remedies.Herbal and plant medicines have been documented back to 5000 years. Until the mid 20th century, natural cures and herbs were common among many Americans. Many doctors utilized these older remedies, and today, a number of modern prescription drugs in the Global North are still directly plant-based.

In this hands-on course, students made teas, tinctures, balms, vinegars, tonics, syrups, salves and poultices for treating many common ailments and gained a basic understanding of the four major herbal-medicine traditions; Chinese, Ayurvedic, European and Native American, and commonalities of each. They explored the role that women have played in healing traditions throughout history; who, from ancient times and still today, provide much of the world’s primary care. The course also covered the history of medical plants, from aromatic magic to mainstream medicine, from Hildegaard of Bingen to Nicholas Culpepper, from the 19th Century Ohio Eclectics to the current work of the Ohio United Plant Savers, and walk away with a variety of remedies made from common plants.

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Beth Bridgeman joined the Cooperative Education faculty in 2013. Her professional practice areas are informed by community engagement and student-centered experiential learning pedagogy. Her work focuses on ecological agriculture, reskilling and resiliency and field-based education. Beth has designed courses in co-constructed learning, reskilling and resilience, integrative learning on the Antioch Farm, plant medicine and herbalism, seed-saving, and harvest preservation.

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