Sometimes the best homemade luxuries are the ones that soothe and relax, like herbal balm and hot tea for nursing mothers, or a calming room spray for the nursery. Abbye Churchill, editorial director of the beautiful Wilder Quarterly, brings you a week of small apothecary projects for mama and baby — or anyone who would like a little homemade pampering.
An Interview with Abbye Churchill
We talked with Abbye about what the home apothecary means, and her perspective on herbs in the home.
You're an herbalist — can you tell us what that means?
For me, all that being an herbalist really means is being conscious of where a lot of our contemporary medicine has come from and respecting those ingredients. For example, knowing that what we know as aspirin today was first derived from the bark of a willow tree makes me think about plant life differently and helps me better understand how contemporary medicine functions.
It is also just plain cool to think that the living plant world around us can be beneficial in ways beyond the ornamental or edible.
What got you interested in plants and herbs?
Two things. First, I have always been obsessed with what things are made out of. My interest in plants and herbs started from an interest in what these ingredients do — both in and on your body. Second, my mom. She has been a lifelong gardener and defender of the environment. She has instilled in me from a very young age a deep respect of nature.
You're the editor of Wilder Quarterly and you recently co-authored a book — tell us more about that?
Celestine Maddy, the founder and publisher of Wilder Quarterly, and I have been working on the magazine for the past five years. It has been an incredible outlet for both of us to gush, really, about our fascination with the natural world. For the book, we wanted to encompass all that Wilder does seasonally into one annual compendium. The scope is also expanded in two directions – we take the reader further into the wild and further into the home – while still staying true to Wilder's singular interest of getting people excited about the natural world and what they can do with it.
Later this year, you're launching an apothecary line called Twin Tides — what made you decide to go in that direction?
In the course of the four years of research for the book, A Wilder Life, learning the ins and outs of what ingredients actually are – in other words, decoding the back of product packaging – was alarming. Many of the ingredients used in commercial products don't add to the efficacy of the product, and in the worst cases, they can be harmful.
I started making my own products that included ingredients that I know really work, that are safe, and that are naturally beautiful. I was giving them away to friends – ever the oversharing enthusiast – and eventually, there was more interest than I could keep up with. I am inspired by ingredients and want to share the same conviction I have about what goes in our bodies as what goes on them.
What should people, new moms in particular, know about herbs and natural remedies?
Natural remedies are a fantastic way to supplement your health. You should always make sure to talk about your health comprehensively with your doctor, including any herbs or natural remedies that you're adding to your regime.
Thank you, Abbye!