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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 is an Assistant Professor of Cooperative Education at Antioch College. Her professional practice areas are informed by community engagement and student-centered experiential learning pedagogy. She teaches courses in co-constructed learning, agrarian systems, reskilling and resilience, plant medicine, seed-saving, and harvest preservation, utilizing the Antioch Farm and campus as a learning laboratory. From 2013-2015 she led the Ohio Agrarian Trade Partnership at Antioch College, developing fifty-two cooperative education partnerships in sustainable food production throughout Ohio. Bridgeman previously served for twelve years as a county extension educator with The Ohio State University, focusing on sustainable agriculture and experiential learning opportunities for youth and adults.

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