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The Antioch Apothecary: Teas and Tinctures, Syrups and Salves – Beth Bridgeman Faculty Spotlight

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 taught by Antioch faculty member Beth Bridgeman, 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 work focuses on sustainability, place-based learning, mindfulness, reskilling, and "thrivalism" in the Anthropocene; exploring the many ways that individuals and communities are bringing new (and ancient) ideas to the challenge of how we will feed ourselves, save our water and soil, and farm sustainably in a changing climate.Her professional practice areas, informed by community engagement and student-centered experiential learning pedagogy includecological agriculture, reskilling and resiliency, commensality, seed-saving and stewardship, and field-based education. Beth has designed courses in co-constructed learning, agrarian systems, reskilling and resilience, plant medicine and herbalism, seed-saving, and harvest preservation, utilizing the Antioch Farm and campus as a learning laboratory.

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