Updated: Oct 23, 2019
According to Worlds Health Organization, reports show that the leading cause of sickness and disability in the world is depression.
If you haven't already, do yourself a favor and watch Nikki Webber Allen's Ted Talk. After her nephew committed suicide, she decided to open up about her own struggles with depression. Nikki found that Black Americans are at 20% greater risk of developing a mental disorder yet we seek mental health services at about half the rate of white Americans. The stigma is 63% of Black Americans mistake depression for weakness.
Nikki's Ted Talk and my own struggles with depression inspired me to spark a conversation amongst people of color, especially women. Considering the statistics above, I wanted to challenge the ways in which we view mental health care. I encourage seeking therapy and even taking medication if you have to, but for some, herbalism was all they needed.
Check out what Xullee Iris Rose AKA The Lady Venus Magical had to say about how she transformed her quality of life with herbs.
DL: Like many of us, (some who do don’t know they suffer) you have suffered from depression. What were the signs and how soon did you take action?
LV: Well the first sign that I was suffering from depression was this extreme sadness and feelings of not wanting to do anything. Life just didn’t feel like it did before. It is hard to explain but I would describe it as a loss of excitement for things I had previously enjoyed doing. I experienced extreme sensitivity and feelings of melancholy; Feelings of extreme loneliness even when people were around. There was a feeling of just general dissatisfaction. Bad thoughts about myself and my life. I felt lost. I felt confused. I felt tired and didn’t want to do anything.
DL: What did you do to treat your depression?
LV: Well the first thing I did was change my thoughts and that starts by not claiming disease so I had to recognize that it wasn’t “My depression” but something I was just dealing with that could be changed. I had to recognize that it wasn’t a part of me. I used affirmations, yoga, meditation and herbal teas and tinctures to treat myself of severe depression.
DL: Is there a complete natural regimen to treat depression and anxiety or is it different for everyone (as it relates to herbs)?
LV: I believe that everyone can treat depression naturally. However, not everyone may use the same herbs. There are many herbs and combinations of herbs and foods that assist in treating depression. Some people may be depressed because of nutrient deficiency. Others may be suffering heartbreak. Someone else may be having hormonal imbalances that are causing the depression. So I think it is important to evaluate that persons personal life circumstances and then help them to develop a remedy based on that. For me my depression came from over-working myself and not dealing with the grief of my mom passing. So, the yoga, meditation and teas were really helpful for me.
DL: When did you become an herbalist and who introduced and influenced you, if anyone?
LV: I developed a major interest in herbs and natural remedies when my mom was dying of cancer in 2008, I saw how the medications were not helping her but only making her feel worse. I also saw that the doctors didn’t really know what to do to help her. That is when I began to study and learn herbal treatments. However I didn’t become a true herbalist in the sense of formal studies until 2013 almost 2 years after I had beat depression using herbs, I went to herb school online and worked at the store of Master Herbalist and owner of Herbally Grounded in Las Vegas Nevada. There I gained a wealth of knowledge and began putting my work into practice and that is how I became the herbalist I am today.
DL: As an herbalist, was treating depression your main goal?
LV: When I began the journey to treat the depression, yes it was a main goal. However, once I overcame the illness, I began to work with the herbs for other things like PMS, energy boosting, migraines, focus, colds and flu, and anxiety
DL: Had you considered conventional treatment? If so, why didn’t that work for you?
LV: I did consider conventional treatment. However, I had done extensive research on the side effects and it just wasn’t for me. Not to mention I tried one pill (I believe it was Zoloft) and felt horrible. My body immediately rejected it.
DL: What else can one gain from herbs? What are the benefits?
LV: Herbs are good for the mind body and spirit. There are millions of herbs. We are still learning about herbs that we never knew before. Not to mention 85% of all pharmaceutical drugs still come from a plant source first. I always say, “why not just go to the source.” Herbs have been used for thousands of years, and were the primary form of medicine and healing before the pharmaceutical industry began to grow in the early 1930s and began to boom in the 1950s. It wasn’t until then that people started to call herbalist “quacks” and discredit the 1000s of years of research and experience. Pharmacy was just quicker and didn’t take as much effort. With herbs, you have to do the work, brew the teas and take them several times a day. We live in a world where everyone is looking for a quick fix to symptoms vs a deeper level of healing which will eliminate disease and the symptoms associated with it. We are used to treating symptoms and not the cause and that is the issue. Herbs can help with focus, dreams, mental clarity, food cravings, problems sleeping, hormonal imbalance, blood cleansing, detoxing and the list goes on. The benefits of taking herbs last a lifetime.
DL: Do people generally welcome your advice or are they skeptical?
LV: Usually when people start talking to me about herbs, even if they are skeptical at first, they can hear and sense that I have studied this deeply. They instantly know through conversation with me that I know what I am talking about and I mean beyond what you can find on Google and beyond just what I have read in books. I have practiced and learned and attended classes, taught classes to help people heal and deep down inside most people know the truth. Herbalism is the people’s medicine; it is a part of our human instincts. That is how we discovered plant remedies in the first place. Most people remember their grandmother giving them ginger tea or castor oil or garlic cloves. Yes, those things are nasty when you think back to it but they are natural. Most people see how much the herbs truly help them when they begin taking them and stop they truly recognize a difference.
DL: You have a garden, when did that come about and what could one find in your garden?
LV: Well since I started my journey with herbs gardens have followed me everywhere I go. I usually meet someone who wants to give me their land to grow food on and that’s how I got the current garden I work in. But, before that I would go to the local community gardens and ask to rent a bed and volunteer and that is a big part of it. I have all types of herbs growing in the garden from nettle to elderberry; I have lemon balm and holy basil. I have rosemary, thyme, oregano, motherwort, and yarrow. I have so many herbs I can’t name them all.
DL: I have often talked about starting my own garden. What does it take to get started?
LV: It just takes seeds, soil, water and sunlight. And you really don’t need the soil, I have several herbs growing hydroponically right now. You can have a mini garden in your home made from cinderblocks or empty cans and jars. My first garden started indoors with a bunch of empty cans I poked holes in the bottom and grew herbs out of it. It’s just a matter of doing it. It’s about starting right now. And knowing you have everything you need. The best thing about plants is they just need water soil and sunlight.
DL: Was there trial and error in becoming an herbalist and starting a garden? Give an EX. of both.
LV: In life, there is always trial and error, if not how else would we learn and become better so of course. I have had many mistakes in the garden. Last year my entire harvest was thrown off because I planted too late so I got baby watermelons. One of my best friends passed out on the floor after I mixed up a garlic and cayenne pepper shooter the wrong way trying to kill her cold. I have made many mistakes but the best thing about the garden is you can always start again. And the best thing about herbs is they don’t kill you so you can learn and try again. I am always learning daily.
DL: Was there ever a time you felt defeated in becoming an herbalist? If so tell us about that time.
LV: There are many times when I feel defeated in this work, because of my own drive, not because the herbs fail. The herbs always work I am confident in them. I have never given someone something and they didn’t feel better. I do feel defeated trying to give herbs to my son but he is just a baby and trying to get a baby to take anything other than breast milk is hard enough. But, for me there are times when I don’t have my sh*t together to make an herb video or post on my blog or tell people the remedies I have on sale and for me that is where I fall short. But the herbs; The herbs NEVER disappoint.
You can find Lady Venus Magical via her website