Nevada woman studies herbs, homeopathic remedies

Sara Jordan-Heintz Contributing Writer
Marcia Sampson, of Nevada, got interested in growing herbs for making teas and elixirs out of necessity for treating a variety of medical conditions that didn't respond to traditional medicine. She has a greenhouse on her property and enjoys spending time growing plants and flowers. Photo by Sara Jordan-Heintz

Marcia Sampson, of Nevada, got interested in growing herbs for making teas and elixirs out of necessity for treating a variety of medical conditions that didn’t respond to traditional medicine.

“I have allergies to a lot of medicines, so my doctor told me to think outside the box. I don’t think he meant essential oils and herbs, but this is where I went with it,” Sampson said. “I have three pages of allergies to medicine.”

She says her health dramatically declined after being implanted with Essure in 2011, a medical device crafted from metal coils for female sterilization, later pulled from the market. Its manufacturer, Bayer, has been hit with thousands of lawsuits. Even after having the product removed, Sampson says she still suffers from sunlight sensitivity, severe migraines, new food allergies, hair loss and extreme weight loss, among other ailments.

“It changed everything about my DNA,” she said.

By day, she works as a bus driver for the Nevada School District. In her free time, she does online learning through the Heart of Herbs Herbal School. On its website, the school says it educates, “doctors, nurses, mothers, massage therapists, doulas, midwives, bankers, clergy, missionaries and basically anyone who wants to learn about herbs or aromatherapy.”

Once she completes the program, Sampson would like to operate a side business selling herbs to “help people who are interested in holistic care like I am. I started doing this in 2013 when I did not know what I was doing and I made a lot of mistakes. When I started the schooling in 2017 that’s when I realized more what to do.”

Sampson grows her own catnip, basil, cilantro, mint, thyme, lavender and wormwood. She is busy getting the small greenhouse on her property ready for an assortment of plants and flowers to reside inside.

She said she and her family primarily suffer from migraines and sensitive skin. Salves for eczema and dry skin are crafted using burdock. Calendula oil has antifungal, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial components, which aid in the healing of wounds, soothes eczema and relieves diaper rash. It can also be used as an antiseptic. Feverfew traditionally is used to treat fevers, migraine headaches, rheumatoid arthritis, stomachaches, toothaches, insect bites, infertility and problems with menstruation. Wormwood can help ease digestive problems, as well as gall bladder disease and intestinal spasms.

The types of herbs she brews in teas for migraine relief include catnip, spearmint, peppermint, skullcap and feverfew.

Symptom relief is achieved in 45 minutes to an hour, Sampson said.

“I start with using one teaspoon for making a cup of tea,” she said. “With my migraines, they’re so bad, I usually do one and a half teaspoons.”

Sampson makes tinctures and elixirs. The main difference between the two is an elixir is a tincture but it is sweetened by using a simple syrup. They are both made by grinding herbs and mixing them with either alcohol, vegetable glycerin or apple cider vinegar. The concoction is then left alone in a dark cabinet for four weeks, and then strained. A dose is administered under the tongue. Its shelf life depends on how the elixirs and tinctures were made.

“Some glycerin ones can last up to four years if kept in a very dark cupboard,” she said. “Also, apple cider elixirs and tinctures can keep good up to four years if they are kept in a dark cupboard; if not they won’t last past a year. Alcohol (such as brandy or vodka) ones will keep for four to six years, and this is why people use alcohol most often.”

Sampson makes an elderberry syrup year-round for general health purposes. She creates a fire cider in July, which has to set for four to six weeks. It is made with apple cider vinegar, horseradish, peppers, garlic, onions, lemons and oranges. After the proper time passes, you take everything out and mix in honey. You can take a shot of it every morning, she said.

Being allergic to cinnamon, Sampson creates her own holiday-themed beverage.

“I make my own coffee blend: it has cloves, cherry coffee, anise, nutmeg and ginger. I have an espresso machine and brew it out. Then I put honey and half-and-half in it. Cherry coffee is low caffeine,” she noted.

Trial and error is the key to working with herbs, and sometimes these plants don’t grow at the speed in which the grower would prefer.

“Buy already growing lavender and then replant it. I do cheat. Ones we planted do take a while to grow,” she said.

For an over-all pleasant and pleasing tea, try brewing hibiscus, rose hips or rose petals.

When in doubt, she uses a popular nature app called iNaturalist, which assists people with identifying the flora and fauna around you.