Nourish Shakti: a visit to the apothecary
Sun pours in through the windows of the Nourish Shakti apothecary. Owner and creator, Savannah Clayton sweeps in and around with a type of grace that is found amongst the deeply modest. Pulling glass jars from her wooden shelves lined with herbs, she starts to blend an impromptu tea. Incense burns on the side table emitting a grounding scent similar to soil in spring.
When sitting with Savannah, her level of presence is deeply comforting. She is unassuming, calm, and receptive. That, coupled with her training in Integrative Nutrition and a long history of interest in holistic health is the perfect recipe for her work as a healer. Savannah is a holistic health coach, herbalist, and a maker, all skills that encompass her brand, Nourish Shakti. Her conviction and spirit seem to be what is cultivated when a person follows what they love and learns to genuinely listen to their inner voice.
We had the absolute gift of a visit with Savannah as we sat in her apothecary surrounded by herbs, charts, crystals, plants, and more. This woman blends glycerides, crafts botanical skin care products, helps pull people into a healthier plane of life, speaks of the fire in our bellies, and gets giddy over beloved herbs. Of her many natural gifts, one notable is her ability to be in a field labeled as alternative with both feet on the ground. She laughs, heartily at herself and the world around her. She is the herbalist who can hang with anyone.
Settling in to talk, she hands over a bracelet strung of Tibetian healing quartz and a sunshine yellow teacup with a fresh blend. It feels like we are in a storybook, drinking from tulips and sitting upon a cloud.
SOTB: There is a noticable ceremonial rhythm in the way you do things.
Savannah: I think this has just become my flow of having people into my home for sessions. I always make them tea, light a candle, and burn some incense. I really like drawing cards, so at the beginning of sessions, I have a client pull a card, an oracle card.
SOTB: A card? And it tells you something?
Savannah: Well, I think it’s a nice starter. Do you want to do it?
SOTB: Yes. Absolutely. (It reads): When I focus on my inner light, I see the world through the lens of love.
Savannah: I like these types of oracle cards because the message can be kept in mind throughout the day.
SOTB: That is a lovely practice.
Savannah: I think it’s really helpful.
SOTB: Herbalism is super intriguing, but getting into it can be overwhelming, given the accessibility of information and abundance. Once you get past the curious stage, how do you suggest someone get started?
Savannah: Personally, I started by making my own herbal medicine chest because I wanted a tool kit, and I would recommend doing that to others. Choose things that are exciting to you and make them. The other big common starting point is drinking tea. That is an excellent way to get to know herbs. Choose one herb to drink in a cup of tea, and really get to know it, the taste, and how you experience the plant.
SOTB: Do you have a favorite herb that you put into tea? Or does it go in seasons?
Savannah: Yes, probably more seasons of life of what my body wants. Right now I am really into linden and milky oat tops. I was super obsessed with cardamom for a while, where I was putting it into everything. It’s a heart opener, and I needed that at that point in my life. But it does go in waves. Another way that you can explore herbs is through culinary herbs and spices and learning about their medicine. It’s a really great gateway to herbalism.
SOTB: What makes tea a tea?
Savannah: Tea, if you want to be super technical, refers to one plant, Camellia sinensis, the tea plant. Green tea, black tea, and white tea are all the same plant. They are grown in different methods, harvested and processed in different ways. They are all caffeinated. Technically, the word for herbal tea is teasane. I tend to call tea anything that is steeped in water.
SOTB: You teach a class here in your apothecary. That sounds like a perfect next step.
Savannah: True, the Herbal Medicine Chest class helps people learn the basics and make herbal preparations to take home to use with common ailments.
SOTB: When a client comes in, you do an intake and assess their whole situation. Do you notice a common theme?
Savannah: Not in the physical health sense, but otherwise yes. People tend to come to me when they are in crisis. It doesn’t necessarily have to be on paper a huge crisis, sometimes it is, but usually, people come to me when they are on the cusp of something, and they need a little bit of support getting through that.
SOTB: Is that cusp of something a brink of change?
Savannah: I’d say so, yes. Once a person opens themselves to holistic health, whatever the modality, there is a moment of being overwhelmed because there is no going back. There is this realization of how interconnected everything is, and you can no longer search for a magic pill. People start to feel more responsible for their own health and wellbeing, which can be a scary thing for people to realize. Those are the people I want to work with because they are ready for it.
SOTB: Let’s chat cycles. You are vocal about menstrual health and charting moon cycles. Many people are scared to change their approach to that. In the world of diva cups and IUDs, do you think knowing your cycle and connecting to the moon is an important practice?
Savannah: I think it can be important because being aligned with the earth, and the cycles can be really spiritual and filling. It is interesting, often when people track their cycle, it lines up with the moon, but that alignment often only happens when they are in the act of tracking it.
SOTB: Wait, that is wild. So, humans don’t usually tap in, but when we do, it listens to us and responds?
SOTB: Do you think that people have become disconnected from their bodies? It seems that there is almost a calling out in response to that in the name of your business, Nourish Shakti.
Savannah: Nourish is one of my favorite words. It is one of my most significant approaches in coaching and welcoming people. The best way to feel healthier is to nourish yourself. Shakti is a Hindi word for feminine energy, and also strength. Noticing the interconnectedness of everything is really important in healing.
SOTB: So, noticing these puzzle pieces of our health is the start of connecting?
Savannah: Oh, definitely. It comes to a level of awareness. When I started cleaning up my diet and becoming aware of what I was putting into my body, my clarity of mind was unlike before. That was one of the biggest things for my awareness of holistic health and how I wanted to get into coaching.
SOTB: Once a level of awareness arises, what are the simple shifts that people can start with when they have a sense of curiosity in looking at their wellness?
Savannah: The place to start is to pay attention to what you are putting in your body. Taking out refined sugars is a nice shift. You can supplement with honey or maple syrup. Another thing to start is drinking warm water before eating food or having coffee in the morning. You can add lemon or apple cider vinegar to it. Warm is crucial because it activates digestion. Think of your digestion as a fire. Cold things just put out the fire, and you can’t absorb and do all the good things. Instead, wake up your digestion in the morning with something warm.
SOTB: There is a lot of attention to CBD now. Do you feel that people are missing out on a bigger picture of possibilities with herbalism?
Savannah: Some herbalists look down upon CBD, which I understand because it can be frustrating that people believe in cannabis being medicinal but have no other interest or belief in other plants. But on the other hand, if cannabis is a gateway to herbalism for some people, then that is great. There is a term in herbal medicine called “heroic herbalism,” and it just means these big powerful, potent herbs that you take in a heroic way. That’s what conventional medicine is, it is very heroic; you take a pill, and it goes away. I don’t know much about the properties of cannabis, but I feel that it is a very heroic herb and that it shouldn’t be the only thing that people try. That is the thing about herbs, each one can be a cure-all in its own way, and every person has a million things that they could balance out, so an herbalist has to match the herb to the person.
SOTB: What’s unique that grows around us that we can take advantage of?
Savannah: Oh, there are many things. One of my favorites this past winter was white pine. I was using it a lot in respiratory steams. You can make a tea out of it.
SOTB: What about wild leeks or ramps? They have been in the spotlight recently.
Savannah: Ramps are at risk in this area. It is important to forage responsibly. I think that if people are excited about plants and go foraging, that can be a great thing for the environment because that means people are becoming more connected and developing a relationship with their habitat. However, we should use caution. The honorable harvest is a good practice: you don’t take the first plant you see or the last and take no more than a third.
SOTB: Which herbs would you suggest we grow in our gardens this summer?
Savannah: Lemon Balm! I love lemon balm. It spreads like crazy, and it is easy to grow. You could make a fresh aromatic tea with it without having to dry it. Holy Basil is another one that is super easy to grow, which is good for so many things. Calendula, which has beautiful yellow flowers, is good for the lymphatic system. It moves the lymph fluids, so it can be useful in illness to carry pathogens and waste out of the body.
SOTB: What should we do with calendula?
Savannah: Tea would be a great start. I am making an all-purpose salve right now for cuts and scrapes with my medicine closet class. It has olive oil, calendula, yarrow, and St. John’s wort, which all grow here.
SOTB: What is your skincare ritual?
Savannah: I always clean with my floral cleansing mask. It is soap free, just powdered herbs, powdered oats, and a little bit of clay. Then, I either moisturize with my face potion or the serum. If I use the serum, I combine it with rose water or toner. It is out of this world!
SOTB: You’ve described yourself as a “self-care junkie,” and self-care has become a really important conversation. It gets coined for experiences or justifications for experiences. It feels like a temporary treat. Do you think that there is something in the realm of self-care that is being overlooked?
Savannah: I think there is a difference in self-care. I believe that the self-care talked about in the mainstream is physical body self-care, a massage, or a facial. Those are super important because it’s common for people to forget to take care of their bodies. I think the part that is overlooked is the emotional self-care, the spiritual self-care, the mental self-care. Those are all equally as important but harder to address.
Make the Positive Shift
-Follow ‘em: @nourishakti
-Connect for summer class offerings
-Meet Savannah! Market schedule list!
-Products we LOVE: Morning Dew & Love Thy Face: Shop Here or find products at these locations!
-Savannah’s recommended reads for starters:
Rosemary Gladstar: Herbal Recepies for Vibrant
Jethro Kloss: Back to Eden