Erin Lovell Verinder’s passion for plants that heal
Erin Lovell Verinder is a plant-obsessed herbalist, nutritionist, energetic healer and wellness writer who practices at the Sydney health institution, Orchard Street. I discovered her obvious enthusiasm for plants through her Instagram account, which (gently) preaches of the benefits of holistic wellness through botanical medicine. Erin tells us why she’s so hooked on plants, gives us a stickybeak into her daily routine, and reveals the radical energies plants have within them to heal and re-calibrate the off-kilter human body.
Can you tell us a little about yourself, and your career in natural medicine? I am a herbalist, nutritionist, energetic healer and all round naturalist – a plant obsessed woman. My marker for the beginning of my career really begins at the tender age of 16 where I actively started seeking out the esoteric, the power of nature, and our body’s innate ability to heal.
I dove into studies of energetic healing nearly 20 years ago, and from there continued studying a multitude of healing modalities. I studied with wild women up north of Australia, learnt reiki deep in the Blue Mountains, healing methods in USA and undertook a two year intensive diploma at a college in Sydney. After working so high up in the esoteric ethers I desired a more grounded approach and began a Bachelor of Naturopathy. I wanted to understand the herbs and plants much more deeply so forked off into western herbal medicine and nutritional medicine studies. These were such a deep dive into understanding the therapeutic action of botanical medicine, food as medicine, how our bodies function, dis-ease, and how we ultimately can heal through nature’s bounty.
Would it be fair to say you are obsessed with plants, medicinal or otherwise? Absolutely. It is an all-encompassing passion. Walking the plant path is what I call it! There is not one part of me that ever tires from learning more about the healing power of plants and their medicinal actions. I live my life surrounded by green, in a house brimming with plants, around all the plant medicines weaved into my daily life.
I would say it is inherent in me to embody being a crazy plant lady for the rest of my earthly time!”
What sustains your drive to heal others through natural medicine? My belief in the power that our bodies can heal and that the answers to our deep healing processes are in nature. I have actively worked within these realms for 16 years and it never gets old watching people get incredible results and reclaim wellness!
What are some of your favourite health outcome stories? For me a success story is a client who connects to the importance and power of taking care of themselves and treating their body and being like the precious vessel it is. Naturopathic medicine shines in a preventative health sense so by improving health with habits, great food, stress reduction, addressing underlying causes and using plant allies, we are potentially avoiding future chronic health imbalances. I see many clients with very complex cases, so seeing radical improvement is truly incredible. A client with chronic arthritic pain and restricted movement improved greatly after focused treatment and lifestyle changes and was out gardening and moving around with zero pain. Many clients present with debilitating digestive issues and once we get to the roots with commitment and focus their gut heals…I commonly work with clients experiencing fertility challenges, again with intention and naturopathic interventions I have received the joy of holding their babies in my arms.
It honestly is the most rewarding “job” to witness people get better, and empower them to claim their right to heal.”
Do plants have particular energies? Yes, most definitely. There are many approaches to the energetics of plants. If you look at a TCM (Traditional Chinese Acupuncture) approach, they use language like yin and yang to explain the actions of the plant which is much more energetic in nature. With traditional herbal knowledge there is always an element of energetic wisdom noted in the materia medica. Personally with my more clinical training here in Australia, I have had to learn much of this myself through my own intuitive compass and feeling into each plant.
Let’s use Hypericum perforatum, St John’s Wort, as an example. This medicinal plant is used commonly in anxiety and depression. If you look at the physicality of the plant, it grows in the most arid, random places regardless of what is around it and the soil quality, it is tall, proud and erect with radiant yellow flowering heads. It is a sunshine beam embodied, hence the energy of this plant is lifting, cheery and radiates our own inner light.
What are some of your tips for health conscious Planthunter readers wanting to incorporate plant medicine into their life? The fundamental elements that soothe our bodies are: staying hydrated with water, the natural world, a whole foods, veggie dense rainbow diet, waking naturally without a startle response and seeking daylight to awaken our happy hormones, then to wind down at night off any screens.
One of the most accessible ways to weave more herbal medicine into your life is via herbal infusions. Some of my all-time favourite combinations nourish the nervous system/adrenals (our stress responders). I adore nettle, oat straw, ginger and hibiscus flower mixed together. An infusion is basically a slow infused herbal tea, so I suggest you infuse the dried herbs overnight for ultimate medicinal effect. Use a mason jar that is heat proof and fill a good hefty layer of the dried herb at the bottom. Boil hot water and fill to the brim, cover overnight to infuse. In the morning, strain out the plant matter and sip mindfully over your day.
Can you give us a pervy stickybeak into a naturopath’s daily routine? Absolutely. First and most importantly – living amongst accessible nature and keeping a slower pace is key for me to feel balanced and sustained. I am the queen of ritual and take my mornings quite seriously! Sleep is hugely important to me, so I head to bed by 9pm (self-confessed nanna) and wake around 6am naturally. When I wake, I stay off my personal and work phone and stay well away from emails until after 9am. I keep the morning easy and breezy with a rotation of either a Qi Gong practice, some Yin Yoga stretching, walking my dogs along the cliff edges, or spending time in my yard. Breakfast is always hefty and wholesome, and a brewed infusion is always a part of my morning and day for ultimate hydration.
I have full days seeing clients via Skype in my garden studio or my weekly day at Orchard St Bronte with clients. These days are more speedy and demanding so I do my best to keep my non clinic days calmer and quiet to replenish my well. I spend a lot of time in nature, earthing myself, learning from her. On the weekends I head out into the thick of the bush and picnic on the mountain top. Greatest replenisher! I recognise that I am of no use to aid others to be well if I am not well myself so I do take self-care to new heights – ha! I have my own team of wonderful practitioners I reach out to when needed for my own support and taking time off to truly switch off and rebalance is essential.
You live in the Blue Mountains. Do you keep indoor and/or outdoor plants and/or grow any vegetables and herbs? My husband always jokes that our home is as wild as the outdoors. It is filled with plants galore and rocks on all the surfaces! We are minimalists beyond the gems and plants; my ethos is you can never have enough of either if they call to you. I often feel like I can’t go near a nursery, because guaranteed the car will be full of greenery if I do! I have a very green thumb and love to grow herbs and veggies. We are getting ready right now to plant out our spring garden. I love choosing what we will be growing and getting excited to tend to the veggie patches to reap their bounty in spring and summer.
What’s your favourite thing about coming home to the mountains after working in your Sydney clinic? The crisp mountain air and the way the mountains hug you as you climb the hill upwards driving home. I love the smell of warm home fires burning, and how that fills the air with an earthy hint; the way the eucalyptus trees creak in the mountain winds. It’s the peacefulness and the slow hum of nature that the Blue Mountains are in abundance of, and I am so grateful for this.
And finally, what is your favourite plant? (you can name more than one if it’s impossible to choose!)
Medicinal plant – I am having a serious love affair with nettle right now. Honestly this changes a lot, but I will stick with nettle. Great to rebuild adrenal health, high in iron, wonderful for women and majorly nourishing.
Indoor plant – Most definitely monstera, the swiss cheese plant. We currently have one taking over our lounge room and she is such a delight!
Flowering plant – I adore paper daisy, and am totally fascinated by them. I found some growing wild and native in the Blue Mountains and was blown away like a kid in a candy store!
All images by Georgia Blackie