Healing is about more than just symptom relief.
True healing is about reclaiming your wholeness.

Herbal medicine works differently than any other healing practice.

I do my work as an herbalist a bit differently than anyone else.

There are almost as many approaches to herbal practice as there are herbalists. The essence of my style is equal parts compassion and precision. I value elegant solutions that create a lot of change with ease.

Intuition and imagination are just as important to me as modern research and traditional wisdom. 

Herbal medicine is a safe and effective complement to modern conventional medicine, not a replacement. Where conventional medicine is strong (ex: diagnostic tests and imaging, traumatic injuries, and innovations like chemotherapy and organ transplants), herbal medicine is relatively weak. Where conventional medicine sometimes struggles to get good results (ex: stress-related illnesses, many chronic conditions, and as a tool for improving general wellness and resilience), herbal medicine soars.

In my practice, conventional medicine and herbal medicine aren’t enemies; they’re partners.

I trained in three of the world’s great herbal traditions with a mentor who believes that a modern herbalist must be able to draw on more than one cultural perspective. My approach to assessment and formulation emphasizes Chinese Herbal Medicine and incorporates Western Herbal Medicine and a little bit of Ayurveda. I have also been profoundly influenced by the writings of Carl Jung, ten years of practice as a massage therapist, and the transformative experiences I had as an artist.


 

You don’t have to choose between herbal medicine and conventional medicine.

They are complementary systems, not competitors.

 


In my practice, I give equal honor to the physical body (soma) and the deep essence of the psyche (the Greek word for “soul.”)

This is a place to receive support that works with your unique body, your individual personality, and your deepest values. Herbal medicine works best when your formulas and protocols are fully customized to your needs and adjusted as often as necessary to adapt to every significant change in your health and in your life. This fully customized approach makes room for all of who you are. It also produces the best possible results. Best of all, it works its (proverbial) magic in a way that actually feels good during your journey, not just when you finally get to the destination.

Lastly, I want to share an important note and word of caution. Unlike conventional medicine, massage therapy, and acupuncture, herbal medicine is currently an unlicensed profession in the United States and in the State of Maryland where I live and work. This means that there is no governmental process by which practitioners submit our credentials to local authorities, pay licensing fees, and undergo a process of review before receiving legal permission to practice. This means that anyone can legally call themselves an “herbalist” as long as they don’t attempt to practice medicine without a license, impersonate a doctor, or break any other laws. The government leaves the decision about whether or not someone is qualified up to you, the individual consumer. As always, it’s vital to do your research before hiring an herbalist or any other member of your healthcare team.

Ready to get started?
The first step is to schedule your Tongue Reading & Assessment Session.

Melanie is a godsend.
She is the perfect and most beautiful balance of both smart and grounding.

The minute I started working with her I felt taken care of, nurtured and safe. She’s so attentive and calming and one of the best investments I’ve made in all of 2015. After only one call with her, I immediately insisted to my wife that she work with Melanie too, and she fell in love with her just as quickly. I love her so much and am so grateful to her and for her.

~ Jordana Jaffe
JordanaJaffe.com

Credentials, Education and Lineages

I’ve been working at the crossroads of physical and emotional healing since 2005 and practicing herbal medicine since 2010. Before becoming an herbalist, I practiced massage therapy in both private practice and at The Center for Neuromuscular and Massage Rehabilitation in Washington, D.C. I hold a B.F.A. in Drama from New York University and regularly draw upon the power of images, storytelling, and creativity to support my clients’ healing and self-discovery.

I became a Certified East/West Herbalist after graduating from the School of Planetary Herbology and completing over 100 hours of private mentorship and case review. After six years in practice, I traveled to China to study directly with the physicians of Longhua Hospital and Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine. That experience showed me how much is possible when conventional and herbal medicine work together to serve the highest good of each patient, and deepened my commitment to working collaboratively with physicians.

  • Longhua Hospital and Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine
  • East/West School of Herbology, Professional Herbalist Program
  • Bachelor of Fine Arts in Drama, New York University Tisch School of the Arts (Summa Cum Laude)
  • NCBTMB Certified Massage Therapist, currently licensed to practice in Washington, D.C.
  • American Council on Exercise, Certified Personal Trainer
  • Additional training and courses of study include: CranioSacral Therapy through the Upledger Institute; Traditional Thai Massage & Healing through the Thai Institute of Healing Arts; Reiki with Master Dr. Barbara Moquin, APRN; Theater for Living training with David Diamond in Vancouver; Rainbow of Desire with Cardboard Citizens in London.

Teachers & Lineages

My deep gratitude and respect extends to all the healers and teachers of my lineages whose names I do not know. Especially, I honor the women healers who practiced their art without recognition or remembrance, sometimes in the face of persecution. All of my work is an offering to their memory. May my work be worthy enough to repay even a fraction of the blessings I owe to the effort and sacrifice of those who came before.

I stand on the shoulders of so many teachers, healers, and artists who came before me. I’m deeply grateful to those who have personally taught, guided, healed, and mentored me including Michael and Lesley Tierra, Christine Way Lynn, Heidi Lindeman and Michael Perry, Dr. Barbara Moquin, Stephanny George, Jan Cohen-Cruz, Pat Gottemoeller, Jon Kula, and Andrea J. Lee to mention only a few. I am equally grateful to teachers whose work has made a permanent imprint on my heart through their writings, recorded lectures, and legacy including Marion Woodman, Marie-Louise von Franz, Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell, Dr. Stephen Porges, Michael Meade, Rhodessa Jones, Tara Brach, Andrew Harvey, Stella Adler, Augusto Boal, Ram Dass, Thomas Moore, Jordan B Peterson, and Paul Pitchford.

My gratitude extends to hundreds of clients who have allowed me to be part of their healing since I first began this work in 2005. You have taught me more than any course or certification ever could.

My Story


Night after night, I shivered violently under the covers wearing four or five layers of thick clothing at a time.

It had been like this for weeks. Every morning, I fell asleep for a few hours after being awake all night shivering with fever and stayed in bed until I had to leave for work at 2pm. Walking a few blocks to the Metro was harder than running that first 5k I’d trained for the previous Fall. I excused myself two or three times during every client session to use the bathroom. By the time my 6pm session started, I could feel the fever starting to creep back. Every night, I could count on being drenched in sweat, barely able to lift my head, and running a fever of 104 degrees. This is what it’s like to have a severe Ulcerative Colitis flare up when you’re unable to access health care.

Before the fevers, my path seemed clear. I’d returned to the U.S. from a theater fellowship in New Delhi and the emotional anguish that had plagued me for so long had finally loosened its grip, so much so that it seemed to have evaporated. I was thrilled to be working as a clinical massage therapist at a prominent physical therapy center in downtown Washington, D.C. and pursuing a freelance theater career on the side. 

If you’d asked that young woman about her passions, she would have told you that she cared most about telling stories that have been suppressed or silenced. She might have told you about her work creating original theater with homeless activists or pregnant teens. She might have told you about the way that her massage clients with chronic pain seemed to be carrying untold stories in their muscles, as if the words couldn’t come to their lips because they were buried in their bodies, clenched tight to the bone. She wouldn’t have said anything about herbal medicine, even though she’d once checked out every book on herbal remedies in her hometown library and made tea from dandelion leaves harvested from the schoolyard.

Ulcerative Colitis turned out to be something of an initiation. It was more than just the fevers. My lips and nails turned cyanide blue and my insides poured out of me up to 20 times per day. Eventually, it whittled my body down until the outline of my ribs joining my sternum was easily visible through tracing paper skin. UC is an autoimmune illness that caused my own immune system to attack my intestines. In other words, it was a misguided and overzealous attempt at self-defense.

My suffering was compounded by gaps in our healthcare system. The massage therapy job that I loved was a contract position; no health insurance was included in my compensation. I tried to enroll through the individual market but no companies would sell me a plan because I had been sick with chronic illnesses before. A simple, cheap medicine could have turned it all around for me—-if only I’d been able to get it!

It was only by determination and sheer luck that I found a way to acquire health insurance and get the medication I desperately needed.  I could feel relief just hours after my first dose and I was on the mend by the Fourth of July.

But things would never be the same for me.

If this could happen to me, it could happen to anyone.

I was compelled to do something about that but health care reform wasn’t going to be my primary battle. I wanted something more radical, more direct. I craved an approach that would feel generous, much less technological, and much more focused on whole-person healing.

That’s why I decided to become an herbalist.

Two years (and much studying) later, I made my way to the East/West School of Herbology for our annual seminar. Halfway through the course, I began to run a high fever—this time from a raging sinus infection. Instead of feeling like I’d been left behind to suffer, I was the recipient of an everyday miracle.

All around me, scattered on the ground from a storm a few days before were heaps and heaps of a medicinal lichen called Usnea. This herb is specific for sinus infections. It was exactly what I needed. The medicine was right there at my feet.

I gathered handful after handful of the Usnea and popped it into my mouth. This simple act made me feel so loved, so held. The taste was the taste of cool woods, gentle breathing, and something impossible to name because it’s older than words.

For the first time, I was experiencing the direct connection to healing that’s at the heart of herbal medicine. It’s possible to harvest medicine with your own hands. It’s possible to experience relief and resilience. It’s possible to manage symptoms without side effects. It’s possible to feel more connected to yourself, the plants, and the planet.

You have a right to this experience.

Every human culture (and some nonhuman cultures!) has an herbal tradition. Whoever you are, wherever you’re from, your ancestors had a connection to the healing power of plants.

It is your right to remember the traditions that have been too long overlooked and to rebuild the ones that have been forgotten. It is your right to foster a deep connection to the natural world. It is your right to know how to care for yourself, how to work with healing plants, and to live your own destiny. And I consider it my sacred duty to support you in reclaiming this birthright.

Ready to get started?
The first step is to schedule your Tongue Reading & Assessment Session.