Adrian White is an herbalist, farmer, and freelance writer specializing in and researching topics of food, agriculture, health, nutrition, herbalism, farming, gardening, and sustainability since 2012. (Click here for services and portfolio respectively). She also offers limited services as a cleromancer, astrologer, and in dream work.
Starting in 2021 I began formulating my own unique take on medicinal herbal products under the continued label Deer Nation Herbs. (Soon to change names and open Etsy shop – stay tuned!) These are currently very limited and small batch, made with care from wild-foraged or Certified Naturally Grown vegetables and herbs, available only through pick up and direct delivery options (for now) in the eastern and Driftless Iowa areas near Colesburg, Dubuque, Dyersville, Cedar Rapids, Garber, Elkader, and Guttenburg, Iowa. (Check out the Online Shop).
My writing work has been published by the likes of Rodale’s Organic Life and Healthline, with bylines in The Guardian, Civil Eats, Good Housekeeping, Precision Ag, and many other publications and websites on the subjects of sustainable ag, health, herbalism, and other subjects. I also contributed a personal farmer’s essay about the importance of organic farming for educational textbook “Organic Food and Farming: A Reference Handbook” by ABC-CLIO.
I am farmer, co-owner, and co-operator of Jupiter Ridge Farm with my partner and husband William Lorentzen in the beautiful Driftless area of Iowa, producing naturally grown (to organic standards and Certified Naturally Grown standards) diverse vegetables, gourmet and medicinal mushrooms, culinary and medicinal herbs, perennials, and healing / edible / victual herbal products to farmers market and restaurants around eastern and the Driftless in Iowa (northeastern Iowa) with a small CSA and online shop providing direct delivery and pick up options. (Shipping options for herbal products coming soon!)
Over 10 years ago began my interest in and study of the multi-faceted world of herbalism and plant-based healing. This developed alongside my interest in organic vegetable and herb farming starting in 2009, a study which took me off my college campus in the small prairie town of Morris, Minnesota into my travels through the U.S. such as Appalachia, Texas, the Midwest, California, Oregon, and for some time in South America.
I’ve studied folk herbalism, basic plant nutrition, herbalism/spiritualism hybrid practices like curanderismo, clinical herbalism, countless plant-based research and studies, and “classic” male- and white-centric Western Herbalism that most people would associate with the word “herbalism” – and which continues to be the pillar supporting most well-known herbalists and herbalism-related companies today.
I became a certified herbalist through two programs (including an apprenticeship and distance program) from 2012 through 2013 with stellar teachers. As an organic farmer passionate about the food system however, and not just an herbalist, my studies and practice (and overall ideals about herbalism) took me off the beaten Western Herbalist path that most American herbalists feel they have to follow– and which seemed limited and not a match for me, but taught me so much.
My herbalism and nutrition studies helped me forge a career in freelance writing, creating polished content, articles, and copy based on my herbalism expertise and research,bursting the boundaries of my Western Herbalism teachings– and thrusting me deep into the latest studies as well as traditional knowledge about all kinds of plants used for health and healing, well and beyond into knowledge from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Ayurveda, and practices of African herbalism.
What I’ve learned from my research: an enormous number (if not practically all) plants all over the world– and especially food plants, not just the classic Western Herbalism “medicinal” plants– have some sort of medicinal value.
Their original modality? In the form of daily preventative, balancing, and “corrective” foods.
Plant-based foods ranging from vegetables and fruits to culinary herbs, mushrooms, nuts, and grains share huge overlaps. You’d be hard-pressed to find a plant food that doesn’t contain some sort of antioxidant that helps fight free radicals, and which in turn reduces inflammation, heart disease risk, autoimmune risk, cancer risk, the list goes on (and helps explain the endless mining of popular “superfoods”).
Food plants literally are, almost by definition, medicine. That said, certain foods and herbs contain highly unique or specialized antioxidants or phytonutrients for certain issues that have been well documented, empirically tested, researched, and demonstrated by both science and traditional medicine– and which lent them a “corrective” or specialized role now and in the past (e.g. lion’s mane for the nervous system, aloe for digestion and blood sugars, burdock for the liver and skin, etc.)
Does that mean herbal medicine cannot be clinical? Hardly. Our entire current medical system has been modeled after the practice of plant healers or other types of healers from times long past, and even a great deal of pharma and important medicines considered “conventional” were derived and still are derived from herbal medicines and plants.
But for many reasons (and in my personal and research-informed opinion), herbalists will find challenges in fulfilling “clinical” roles in this modern age. This is because we are plagued by conditions caused by the deficiency of medicinal and high quality (properly and sustainably grown, nutrient-dense, non-GMO) plant and herbal foods in our daily lives in the first place, and many psycho-spiritual factors as well.
We generally lack the medicinal foods whose purpose was to act as holistic, balancing preventatives. But can a preventative cure an acute illness? No. Simply restoring their place does not act curatively or reverse the damage that has already been done (at least not quickly enough for our appetites for better health).
And here lies the problem– and the root of our pharma- and synthetic-dominant healing system, which is no longer holistic but only soothes the acute issues of this deficiency without actually fixing them. This is why so many people try herbal “medicine” and complain that it does not work for them, and why herbalism in general became cast to the margins.
So are herbs useless? No! Herbs and medicinal foods can and should be used and restored to daily use, to help support and reinstate the preventative role and balance in the body that has been lost (thanks to the degradation of our food system) when dealing with an acute health condition (just like great nutrition….which it more or less literally is).
But unfortunately, to drastically reverse most acute problems, we are unfortunately reliant on the extreme treatments of mainstream medicine (pharma, surgery, radiation treatment, etc.) until we can revert our healthcare system back to a focus or emphasis on food as medicine, and preventative balance through herbs and food, if we ever can (and to fix our psycho-spiritual crisis, too).
Herein lies the ideology and bent of both my educational herbalist consultations and the craftwork of my herbal products. In 2013 I established my own herbal practice and apothecary Deer Nation Herbs— but many, many years after all I’ve learned about herbs and health (and the cultivation and production methods for growing these remedies myself), this practice (and the formulation of my products) is undergoing an exciting stage of metamorphosis. Updates to come soon.
My consultations blend herbal recommendations with nutrition advocacy, farming/gardening tips, and the harvest, preparation, and use of herbs and organic plant foods to enhance health.
Today I continue (and will always continue) my own health and herbalist education through intense research on botanical therapies, health studies, nutrition modalities, and integrative medicine through my writing, all the while striving to seamlessly join the worlds of nutrition, organic production methods, health, and herbalism.
The most important thing I’ve learned about herbalism: there is no end to how much you can learn about it. The best herbalists (at least the ones that I respect the most) are the ones who are candid about how they keep learning and have so much to learn.
My herbalist practice extends to East Central Iowa and Northeast Iowa: Cedar Rapids, Decorah, Dubuque, and the surrounding areas. If you are interested in an educational herbal consultation to learn more about herbs and how they could improve your health, feel free to visit my consultations page.
My consults could range from anything as simple as basic nutrition and herbalist insight into one’s wellness routine (through the recommendation of herbs or sustainable produce and foods), to giving tips on growing produce and herbs, herb walks, demonstrating harvesting, wildcrafting, or preparing techniques.
Using herbs, food, and “food as herbs, herbs as food” to educate and improve how people can handle their health with nutrition and phytonutrients is Adrian’s specialty and passion.
For writing services or a project quote, portfolio of past works, information, inquiries, questions, interest in locally-grown sustainable produce, wildcrafted herbs, herbal educational health consultations, custom formulas, herbal products, or participation in upcoming food/farming projects, please email Adrian:
10 thoughts on “About Adrian White”
I just discovered your blog while following my own trail with plant medicines…they have once again taken my hand and are leading me to information like yours. I recently was introduced to sweet gale, and mullein has taken up residence in my yard. It’s amazing how listening is so important, but not something we all learn. Thanks for your insightful knowledge. Lisa
Thank you for reading, Lisa, and even with where I am now there is still so much to learn!
a single sumac showed up on out property years ago. I loved its tropical appearance and now I have quite a stand of them. I frequently have to cut them down or they would take over the whole place, so i was looking for some use for them, when i stumbled on your site. As fate would have it, my brother is coming to visit, with an abcessed tooth! So happy to have found the information and experiences you have shared…thank you! Did you cure his tooth with a berry tincture or bark? Is the bark medicinally from older trees or young shoots? There are berries on the trees now….when are they ready for harvesting? Thank you!
Thank you for reading, Rachael! I’m so glad to hear that you have found a love of sumac like I have (and yes, they do have a tropical appearance that I’ve always loved).
I gave this friend of mine a tincture of both bark and berry to use. I took the whole drupe, berries and twigs and all (without removing the berries from the actual branching part) and macerated all of it in alcohol (grinding it up beforehand helps with extraction). This has to be from the mature plant as a rule.
The berries are ready as soon as they are all bright red, really. When you touch them and rub them between your fingers there should be a powdery-oily residue, and that way you know they’re ready. If you live in the Midwest they’re ready to harvest right now! Good luck!
Thank you, Adrian for sharing your knowledge! So the tincture should be used internally? Or as a poultice on the tooth?
Straightaway on the tooth is best. Tincture may be diluted in water and used as a mouthwash or gargle, then spat out after rinsing. It works wonders! Sumac is also really good for keeping bacteria levels in the mouth at a healthy level, and keep gums and teeth clean.
Thanks again for reading Rachel 🙂
Excellent! Thank you for your timely responses!
I read your article about Sweetroot. I recently had the coronavirus. And although my case was relatively mild, I still had been sick for 3 weeks. Last weekend, I went to the woods and dug some sweetroot. I added it to a spiced tea blend of black tea, cinnamon, ginger and cloves (all known antivirals). The tea was very tasty and has greatly improved my overall stamina and cleared my lungs. I’m surprised virtually no one in my native Indiana knows about this plant since it grows extensively in most wooded areas. Thanks for the article and I would strongly suggest using this herb for anyone suffering from coronavirus.
Keith – thanks for sharing! This is an amazing experience with sweetroot. Even more amazing that you recovered, I’m happy you came out the other side!
I’m also glad you benefited from Sweetroot so powerfully, and yes, it’s amazing how ubiquitous it is and yet it’s so little-known here in the Midwest.
You’ve inspired me to want to dig some up this spring and add it to some of my coronavirus-preparedness herbal medicines. Thank you again so much!
Thanks Adrian. Once I realized I had Covid 19, I Googled anti-viral foods and ate/drank those foods almost exclusively. I believe that kept the severity of my disease to a manageable level. But after 2 weeks, I was really run down. It’s like running a marathon. The longer it goes the more tired you become. That’s what was so great about the Sweetroot. It fought the 2 worst symptoms- fatigue and the congested lungs. I tried just about every food known for antiviral properties and nothing was effective as Sweetroot. I drank in a spiced tea. The oils from the Sweetroot seem to coat my throat which meant I continued to breath it into my lungs with every breath. I don’t know if Sweetroot is an anti-inflammatory, but it seemed to be as it calmed the inflammatory cytokine storm that accompanies the disease. I also added Spicebush twigs (along with ginger, cinnamon, lemon peel and cloves). Spicebush is a shrub from the laurel family that is found in most woods here in Indiana. I added the twigs just because I like the taste which reminds me of a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom. Maybe something in the Spicebush works synergistically with the Sweetroot? Anyway, I wish more people knew of this little plant because it really, really helped. Thanks again.