September 23, 2010

Shoptalk: Using plants, not pills, to stay healthy

Q: Can you tell me about your business at Dream Tide Farm?

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Elizabeth Peoples owns Mainely Herbs at Dream Tide Farm in Scarborough. “The main focus is on plants that heal,” she said.

Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer


WHAT: Owner, Mainely Herbs

WHERE: 152 Spurwink Road, Scarborough

PHONE: 749-0690


E-MAIL: mainely


SHOPTALK ALLOWS people to describe in their own words the rewards and challenges of their jobs. In doing so, they reflect the energy, imagination and hard work that characterize the workplace in Maine. The questions for Shoptalk are compiled by Press Herald staff writers.

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A: Well, we are an organic certified medicinal herb farm. We do sell culinary as well, but the main focus is on plants that heal. Both grown and wild crafted.

Q: What exactly are medicinal herbs?

A: Pharmaceuticals are synthetic, but most of them are derived from plant medicine. Back years ago, for instance, the willow bark is where aspirin came from. With the turn of the century and industrial revolution, scientist began to synthesize medicine, but 80 percent of the world still uses plant medicine. Plants whose properties support and maintain wellness, as well as heal ailments. It's nature's remedies.

Q: How did you become interested in organic medicinal herbs?

A: I've always had an interest since I was young in plants and started studying 10 years ago. That hooked me into starting my farm.

Q: You just opened the business, right? What made you turn the farm into a business?

A: I've gardened here for 20 years and have seen an interest in plant medicine grow. With health care costs rising and people losing their health care, it's now more important than ever. I encourage people to consider taking charge of their own wellness through the use of medicinal herbs and plants.

Q: What is your background?

A: I'm also an attorney and I practice from here, at the farm. I'm a certified herbalist, I've studied with different master herbalists, both in Maine at Avena and out of state, with some of the more well-known herbalists. I've also studied Native American spiritual healing, and that's one of the lectures we'll be having in October. So it's like an ongoing continuing process of exposing oneself to various teachers.

Q: What is your goal in offering public workshops?

A: The goal for public workshops is to create an opportunity for the public to learn about backyard medicine. Whether it's creating your garden or wild craft harvesting, it's a way to learn about the healing properties of plants and how to make natural remedies from the plants.

Q: What do you offer at Dream Tide Farm?

A: People can contact us for consultations, always working along with their own health care provider. We harvest and make herbal products including tinctures, elixirs, teas, salves and lotions, as well as provide raw honey. People can purchase by e-mailing and we'll provide a more detailed list or products available. I like to individualize the products for people. If people are interested, we also provide individual workshops, including making your own tea garden or herbal medicine cabinet. So we provide general workshops, special requests for individual workshops, consultations and products.

Q: Could you tell me a bit more about the winter medicine cabinet?

A: During the winter months, we're often faced with various illnesses, both viral and bacterial. There are many natural antidotes to these. An herbal medicine cabinet provides one with freshly made remedies. More importantly, a medicine cabinet includes wellness products that help boost one's own immune system, so the body can defend itself against such ailments. Elderberry is one of the old-time favorite winter remedies for cold and flus. The elder flowers are used to help reduce fevers and the elderberry has antiviral properties. Elderberry gets its name from the elderberry jam, wine or cordials given to the elders during the winter months to help keep them strong and healthy. I make an elderberry syrup. It's delicious.

Q: Do you have regular farm hours?

A: Just by e-mail right now, and when we have the workshops, the farm will be open. Come (next) summer we'll have more set hours. You can check the website for current hours. We're working toward an apothecary.

Q: Anything else you'd like to add?

A: Well, the first thing I would say is know your source for your herbs. Local is better. If they're organic, even better. Like Hippocrates said, "Let thy food be thy medicine and let thy medicine be thy food." Take the next step to find out what's in what plant to help you stay well.

Staff Writer Emma Bouthillette can be contacted at 791-6325 or at:


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