WORTS + CUNNING APOTHECARY is a purveyor of quality, handmade herbal products as well as natural products for moms. The Apothecary is currently in Mesa, Arizona and run by owner, founder, and herbologist Alexis J. Chapman.
Alexis chose the name for her apothecary by blending two words: Wort, meaning plant and Cunning meaning artfulness. In other words her focus is on working with plants in new artful ways, while retaining the ancient art of creating herbal remedies for health and healing.
We were so excited when Alexis agreed to offer a give away for our readers! She has chosen her Organic Bundle of Joy Postpartum Kit (featured in picture) which includes Herbal Sitz Bath, Sweet Nectar Milk Tea Blend, Blue Skies Postpartum Courage Blend, Labor & Postpartum Belly Balm and her Sassy Mama Tea Blend.
How does this give-away work? You must nominate a special pregnant woman in your life by sending us an e-mail or facebook message letting us know who you are nominating and why. It is as simple as telling us what you think is special about her and why you want her to win this special postpartum gift-set. We will be selecting our winner on Mother’s Day.
Want to win yourself? Get a friend or family member to nominate you! Once we announce our winner, Alexis will send out this amazing gift direct from Worts + Cunning Apothecary!
We also had the chance to chat with Alexis about her work and love of plants. Please read our amazing interview with her below.
Natural Mommy (NM): Alexis, how did you get started working with plants/herbs and what do you love about it?
Alexis: My story with plants begins with a koala – a real koala that I had the opportunity to hold and have my picture taken with when I was about 5 years old. For the next few years I knew that I was more than just a little girl, I was, in fact, a koala and set about exploring the world as I thought a koala would. I rode my tricycle around the city and in parks, picking leaves off trees and bushes and eating them. I figured out pretty quickly which plants tasted good, others that were not so palatable, and my parents (bless them) realized that they could not stop my koala-ness but began to educate me about poisonous and non-poisonous plants. We would move to a new place and my mom would take me around the yard, showing me what I could and could not eat. So it began, my lifelong journey with plants from koala girl to herbologist (though there is still a bit of koala left in me).
My plant work continued beyond eating leaves to brewing batches of plant materials in plastic buckets in my backyard. Then I began creating herbal body products in junior high school under the label “Aphrodite’s Own” designing labels on MS Paint and giving them as gifts to friends and family. During college I was given a copy of Deb Soule’s Avena Botanicals catalog and realized that I, too, could be an herbalist and dedicate my life to working with our plant allies in re-enchanting our world. A few years later, I opened WORTS + CUNNING APOTHECARY and have been serving as a community herbologist ever since!
NM: Can you tell us a bit about your natural mom products, such as your postpartum tea and how you came to create them and why?
Alexis: My first “real job” out of college was with Seattle Midwifery School and before that I practiced as a doula. I have been immersed in the birth world ever since – my partner is becoming a midwife and I live with other midwives (as well as a baby and puppy) in our fantastic little house. I wanted to create products that would serve the uniqueness of each part of a person’s pregnancy journey. I have tea blends for each trimester, for example, and a few different postpartum teas, including our Blue Skies Postpartum Courage blend. The process of bringing a new baby into the world is a story of unfolding, expansion, and great change and I wanted to create a tea blend that would lend courage to parents as they experience the incredible range of emotions that birth and a new baby brings.
Whenever I am creating any herbal products, I am working between plants and people to help facilitate the path towards wholeness. I can’t walk that path for any person who comes to me for assistance – but I can support their journey and hopefully introduce them to the plant allies that will best illuminate the way of healing. Birth is still a mysterious process in many ways – we don’t quite understand why it is a baby comes when it does – and plant medicine is very comfortable with acknowledging and working with mystery which is why I feel that herbal medicine can be so powerful during pregnancy, labor, and postpartum.
NM: In what way do you think that herbs and natural substances are valuable to moms and babies?
Alexis: Herbal medicine when used consciously and with a bit of knowledge is generally very safe. What is wonderful, too, about herbal medicine is that it has been my experience that “less is more” when using plants to heal. In the case of parents and babies a little knowledge and small dosages go a long way in maintaining the health of a family. Chamomile (Matricaria recutita), for example, is a wonderful herb to have in the home, it has little to no side effects (unless you have a ragweed allergy), and can be used for a wide range of complaints such as colic, rashes, teething, indigestion, insomnia, and more. The herb is simple to use as a tea, glycerite, essential oil, and salve, and by using simple, earth-based remedies a family can know exactly what they are putting in, on, and around their bodies.
Expanding on that last point, I think it is especially important for us to build personal relationships with our medicine and see it as an extension of knowing where our food comes from and who grows it. Growing some chamomile, peppermint, and basil on the windowsill or in the backyard is a wonderful way to introduce the whole family to herbal medicine, showing everyone where those magical healing teas, oils, and such come from! By observing how plants grow, what they look like, smell like, and taste like, we can also begin to learn more about what they’re healing properties are (this technique of observation to determine healing properties of plant is called the Doctrine of Signatures). Looking at chamomile again, the bright, cheery, sun-like flowers are useful to use when someone is upset or cranky – chamomile brings in sunlight where there is gloom.
NM: Can you tell us about your natural remedies and tinctures, such as your Lavender Flower Essence and how they can benefit moms and babies?
Alexis: Flower + Gem Essences are potent medicines that are safe for everyone to take since they have, by their very nature, no side effects. Flower + Gem Essences are similar to homeopathic remedies in that they are so diluted from the original plant material that no plant material exists in the actual dosage. That is why I feel Flower + Gem Essences are so valuable – if you choose the wrong remedy there is no harm and it is a wonderful way to “meet” plants and minerals and begin to build a relationship with them. Flower + Gem Essences primarily work on the emotional level, resetting any imbalances that may be in the psyche. This can lead to physical healing and restoration.
Lavender Flower Essence, for example, is indicated for folks who often get headaches from stress and tension and for those who are particularly sensitive to pressure from family and friends (parenthood, anyone?). Lavender Flower Essence instills a sense of peace within us, and is very useful during the second trimester of pregnancy in taking advantage of extra energy by seeking activities that promote stillness and reflection. After the birth, Lavender Flower Essence can help us unwind and mellow out, so that we are able to dream better and envision our future with more clarity. If you have a child who seems particularly sensitive, Lavender Flower Essence helps them turn that sensitivity into a strength, allowing them to find peace through their perceptions.
We also make custom Flower + Gem Essence blends to fit the specific needs of an individual – we’re all unique, we all deserve to be treated as such and to have our medicines be made just for us. Also, we’re just beginning to stock the Apothecary with single herb extracts and blended extracts, such as our Ease After-Pains Tincture for helping to manage postpartum pain.
I think the greatest benefit of herbal medicine for parents and babies is the ability to be create your own healing remedies and to bring up children with a sense of enchantment about the world – that we are all made of the same star-stuff and we can know ourselves better through our relationships to the many creatures known as plants, animals, and minerals, that we share this beautiful green earth with.