Jennifer McDonnell, December 2019 – East West School of Planetary Herbology


Upon moving west to attend college, I become a pre-Med student, following my paternal lineage of medical doctors. However, after some time, I felt my passion misaligned with the curriculum and decided to shift my human biology focus towards plants and environmental studies instead.  I achieved a bachelor’s degree in both subjects, while embracing gardening as a means of income, further developing a love and passion for growing my own food and medicine, and expanding my knowledge of the healing capacity of food and new delicious ways to prepare it.

My passion for holistic living grew with Studies in Permaculture & Sustainable Community Development, raising chickens and honeybees, learning handcrafting activities such as sewing, knitting and weaving.  I also pursued studies in yoga, Chi Kung and a variety of other spiritual modalities, including meditation and transformational breathwork.

One of my most life-affirming moments was when my aunt informed me that a great grandmother on my maternal side was the village healer/medicine woman in my family’s Canadian hometown. This ancestral detail gave me a new form of encouragement to embrace greater depths of holistic medicine and validated my interest in herbal medicine as something that was rooted in my genetic make-up.

Although reading Materia Medica has been one of my favorite nerdy evening pastimes, my daytime pursuits for the past 2 decades have included raising 3 healthy and beautiful daughters (all born in the comfort of our home), creating multifunctional beautiful landscapes and healthy home spaces.   Additionally, we now live nestled in the mountains of North Carolina and help foster a family commune of sorts.  Here, my beloved husband and I have designed and built our home and several others, as part of our vision to create a space for people to come for retreat, healing and spiritual development.  All the while, my interest in food as medicine and my use and cultivation of medicinal herbs has further expanded.

When a dear friend suggested we attend The East West School of Planetary Herbology in 2015, I fondly recalled Michael Tierra’s lecture on the importance of tongue diagnosis at the 2011 Breitenbush Herbal Conference and decided to enroll. I feel so grateful I circled back to find this program. I wished I had known about Chinese Medicine or Naturopathic medicine years ago, as I fear I am now too old to pursue those degrees.   Yet, years of managing my (latent) Lyme Disease, combined with the knowledge I am cultivating in this program, inspire a future where I may focus on helping folks with chronic disease and imbalance in a substantial way. I see great potential to restore balance to the lives of people suffering from chronic dis-ease using food, herbs and lifestyle shifts through the study of an individual’s functional/behavioral/physiological pattern.

While I proceed with this course (very slowly at first, yet am picking up my pace & consistency as I am able), I continue to design beautiful, thoughtful smaller home spaces, as well as periodically nurturing individuals (beyond my family) with challenging health concerns. As I look toward a future in which I utilize my herbal knowledge, skills and passion, I imagine spending more time tending my medicinal gardens, creating highly potentized medicinal concoctions, and working with patients seeking a return to health by resolving deep seated imbalances and illnesses.

Since I find myself energetically disabling computers and electronic devices time and time again, my focus has not been in building a strong media profile, and although I envision having a website at some point in the future, I know the greatest skill I offer is my ability to be fully present in the moment and connect face to face with individuals and communities.

Reach me at TaprootRemedies@gmail.com with questions.



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