Cultivating Herbal Health

Inside the botanical first-aid kit

Herbalist Main

When STEPHANIE WEBB’s then-younger daughters suffered a severe reaction to an antibiotic medicine they were given, she knew a safer treatment alternative was in order. She then took it upon herself to find one.

A clinical aromatherapist, aromatic formulator, and international sourcing agent for essential oils and botanical nutraceutical ingredients, Webb says that incident led her to her work today.

“We treat everything we can naturally without pharmaceuticals – plants can be antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, expectorants, antihistamines … the list goes on,” Webb says. “Most people don’t realize that the building blocks for all pharmaceuticals are plants.”

Among her roles, Webb creates botanical formulations for a large company within the industry.

“Some days I am assisting in a lab to formulate a nutraceutical product, and some days I am reviewing lab testing to make sure the ingredients are pure and unadulterated; no pesticides and no heavy metals are in the products I source,” she says. “Knowing where the ingredients and essential oils are coming from, how they are processed, and the care that has been given in farming makes or breaks the end product.”

Herbalist In ArticleFor example, at interview time, Webb was reviewing documents for essential oil samples supplied from farmers in Madagascar and Turkey. Among her goals: to verify that the ingredients were chemically and aromatically sound for their use.

To that end, Webb also owns an organic vanilla farm project in Florida called Sunshine State Vanilla ( She launched the venture two years ago, “when I was trying to source vanilla for a client, and it was extremely hard to find organic CO2 extract,” Webb says.

Citing issues in the international vanilla industry, including labor practices and quality, Webb started growing the spice on her one-hundred- year-old mango farm. From there, she began shipping vanilla plants to other Florida farmers and started a farmers co-op.

“We are the pioneers in this new industry in Florida,” Webb says. “When I first opened up my sales to other farmers, I had about 400 farmers overnight email me about my plants – we are at the beginning of something really big in Florida.”

While Webb plans to expand Sunshine State Vanilla, she’s also putting the finishing touches on an online educational course that she’s creating. The goal is to teach others how to safely – and simply – incorporate plant medicine into their daily lives.

“I do so many home remedies to keep my family healthy – plus all my experience and background – that I want to share it with the world so everyone has the opportunity to understand how powerful, simple and easy plant medicine is, without it being complicated,” Webb says. “Once you have an understanding of how powerful essential oils and herbs are, you will find so many uses.”

What are Webb’s top five plants in her arsenal? This time of year, she says, “I use these plants daily.”

1. Nettles

“An herb with antihistamine and anti-inflammatory properties … I add this dried herb into my cooking and drink the tea often. You can also buy it encapsulated as a supplement; commonly used for seasonal type allergy symptoms, as well as an anti-inflammatory for joint pain.”

2. Garlic

“I use garlic often in cooking, and I make an oil to keep (my) family’s ears healthy during summer swimming season. Garlic also is a wonderful prebiotic that helps with digestive issues.”

3. CBD

“CBD directly affects the endocannabinoid system of our bodies. In my home, we use CBD to help with sleep issues and keeping my family calm. It has so many benefits as an anti-inflammatory for general pain relief as well.” She advises making sure to source certified organic products.

4. Vanilla

“This pod is widely used in the flavoring industry, but most people don’t know that it is extremely anti-inflammatory as well. I like to use this in a body oil … Or use it in your morning coffee for the flavor and anti-inflammatory benefits.”

5. Lavender

“Its antibacterial and antihistamine properties make it perfect to help with minor skin rashes and scrapes. It is also well known for its calming benefits. I like to add a drop to my laundry – so my sheets carry the aroma and help keep me sleeping soundly. Lavender is also wonderful added to a diffuser to help with anxious feelings and have a calm atmosphere in your home.”

To view more of photographer Aris Harding’s work, go to

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Categories: Features