The Best Herbalists And Alternative Medicine Shops In America

These modern-day apothecaries specialize in herbal medicine and natural remedies.

June 9, 2017
best stores for herbal remedies
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We live in an age of pharmaceuticals, where everything from antibiotics to sleeping pills are doled out like candy. Yet, there are dozens of top-notch herbal apothecaries across the country, full of safe and effective plant-based remedies.

When you’re searching for an herbal medicine it’s important to consult an expert who is steeped (if you’ll excuse the pun) in herbal science. These five top-tier herb shops are all staffed with practicing herbalists—some with degrees in botany—to advise you on which tea or tincture would work best, whether you're looking for natural beauty treatments, herbal remedies for insomnia, or anything in between.

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Dandelion Botanical Co., Seattle, Washington

Everything about Dandelion Botanical—its creaky wooden floors, vintage scale, and its orderly shelves lined with amber jars of herbs—evokes an old-fashioned general store. Owner Mary Kachi Cassinelli, who has a degree in botany, carries a wide selection of bulk herbs (from astragalus to senna), herbal tinctures, Chinese herbal pellets, and digestive bitters. 

 

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There’s also a well-edited selection of locally made lotions and soaps, and all the ingredients for you to make your own (almond oil, beeswax, cocoa butter, lanolin, essential oils). Weekend classes range from medicinal mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest to how to make your own herbal medicine.  

Related: 5 Herbalists Reveal Their Go-To Natural Remedies

Fettle Botanic Supply & Counsel, Portland, Oregon

Locals rely on Fettle Botanic for its custom-blended tinctures and potent herbal teas such as Drug & Alcohol Withdrawal tea, Pregnant Mama tea, and Sleep Tea (a beautiful blend of chamomile, lavender, mugwort, and lemon balm blend flecked with rose petals). You’ll also find healthy pick-me-ups like Missionary Chocolates’ dairy free truffles, honey sticks, and even herbal smokes.

Naturopath J.J. Pursell, author of The Herbal Apothecaryfounded the shop in 2005 and it’s been a vital part of Portland’s herbal community ever since. Regular classes cover everything from “herbs for inflammation and pain” to “crafting homemade fire cider.” 

Related: 3 Awesome Ways Fire Cider Can Boost Your Health (And How To Make It)

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Leaves & Roots in Orlando, Florida

Founded in 1993 by herbalists Carolyn Whitford and George D’Arcy (also founders of the Florida School of Holistic Living) Leaves & Roots apothecary continues to provide Orlando residents with affordable herbs in all forms: powdered, cut, made into tea blends, and extracted as liquid. (They also have essential oils, incense, candles, lotions, and soaps.)

The shop’s medicinal mushrooms offerings are impressive, too: in addition to mycologist Paul Stamets’ full line of Host Defense capsules and liquid extracts, you’ll find chaga and reishi (in cut and powdered form) from Eugene, Oregon company Mountain Rose Herbs. “It’s really important to us to keep our prices low,” says assistant manager Shannon Rowland. “It’s medicine for the people.” 

Sacred Vibes, Brooklyn, New York

When herbalist Karen Rose opened Sacred Vibes eight years ago, people in her Ditmas Park neighborhood were dubious. But Rose and her employees—all trained herbalists—went about educating customers about plants and how to use them and soon they found a loyal clientele seeking natural remedies for everything from anxiety to menopause symptoms. “We want folks to not think of herbal medicine as something extra,” says Rose. “You already use this in your home—here’s how to use it medicinally.” Rose, who first learned about herbal healing from her maternal grandmother in her native Guyana, has also studied with a western herbalist in Arizona and indigenous herbalists in Mexico and Jamaica.

At her shop, she sells only dried organic herbs and homemade tinctures, teas, “steams,” and salves that either she or her employees themselves make. (i.e. you won’t find brand-name tinctures or face creams here.) Popular tinctures include Open Your Heart, an anti-anxiety blend of rose, skullcap, and Cider Tincture, an infection-fighting mix of garlic, goldenseal and other anti-bacterial herbs. Rose’s apprentices teach free workshops in the shop’s community garden, covering everything from “Preventing and Eliminating Fibroids” to “Self-care for the Caregiver."

The Scarlet Sage, San Francisco, California

A fixture in the Mission District for over twenty years, the Scarlet Sage came under new ownership two years ago. Former employee Laura Ash, a clinical herbalist, has kept the sprawling space more or less the same as it has always been—stocked with over 5,000 products including herbs, supplements, organic makeup, non-toxic nail polish, bath salts, tarot decks, crystals, and books on metaphysics and witchcraft.

 

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“Most herb stores are herbal. And they do it very well. We’ve always had a metaphysical element to the store,” says Ash. As such, there’s even an on-site tarot card reader. Ash is also proud of the line of organic face serums she introduced. “My favorite is the power serum”—made from pomegranate seed oil, rose hip seed oil, carrot seed oil, Vitamin E, and essential oils, among other things. “The idea is to shift into the concept of empowering people into aging,” says Ash. “It’s amazing stuff—I use it every day.”