Blaire Edwards is a product developer, formulator and a Western herbalist fascinated by the intersection of plants and people.
How did you first get involved in this work?
I’ve been studying herbal medicine since I was in college, my undergrad was in psychology and that’s where the passion is. I come to wellness and healing from a harm reduction approach and I think plants can play such a huge part of that. I’m not a big fan of the trend of wellness language that says “no pills anywhere,” that’s not realistic. There is a lot of mental health where you need to be on a pill...and if it helps you, that’s great, but that doesn’t mean plants can’t help and help with the same efficacy of medication that may have side effects as well.
I was studying psychology in Florida where I’m from and I saw a lot of young lives really wrecked by pharmaceutical addictions...people close to me. I was at a point in my psychology career where I was working at a mental health clinic and I needed another internship and I was like, Okay, I have a lot of friends who are midwives and if there are herbs that can assist with giving birth — such a complex thing — then there have to be herbs that can help with mental health.
What do you personally use in your herbal practice?
I change the formulas based on where I’m at. I have a whole apothecary in my house so I have the freedom, but I change my formulas every 2 weeks because it’s based on how I’m feeling.
I really want more people to realize that buying something isn’t going to fix everything — you actually have to know where you are and what’s going on.
Go to therapy. A lot of people in Los Angeles are very focused on the aesthetics and not as much the deep work. Do the deep work to find out where stress shows up for you. For some people when they are stressed out they get sick and other people they don’t sleep, others get digestive upset and some people get really hungry and some don’t have an appetite.
I think it’s important for people to go to therapy and be aware of what you are doing and if you need to see a psychiatrist, see a psychiatrist. Go see experts in their field. It’s OK to ask for help. If you live in a place where there are herbalists who have experience, go see an herbalist.
Also...the therapeutic healing of relationship. In a lot of situations, I think that people aren’t getting enough sleep and don’t’ have a great diet or don’t drink enough water but I think the reality is there is also a lack of community, and there is no supplement for community — there’s just not. There’s no supplement for a spiritual practice in which you are in connection with something greater than yourself.
The real work that you do on yourself is not instagrammable but it’s still worth doing. You can’t document transformation, it’s not linear. You can’t. There’s no stopping point. Transformation is an evolution.
Why you think the hemp plant is so special?
What I think is special about hemp is that it gives people permission to say, I’m stressed out and I need help. And wow, people are turning to something that is relaxing that isn’t alcohol (and alcohol is a drug that gets you excited). People that are looking for a way to relax that doesn’t involve a drug.
I’m excited that people are not just thinking stimulation is the answer and I think we can learn a lot from that. Coffee is a stimulus, more more more is not the answer. Slowing down is the answer.
If don’t change your lifestyle, it doesn’t matter if you take 1000 grams of hemp, but hemp gives you the permission to slow down a little bit more. Some people say CBD makes them tired, I’ve never had that experience, I’ve had the experience where it makes me feel calmer and so yes, maybe I have a hard time manically doing a bunch of stuff, but I’m not feeling tired.
The hemp conversation needs to be had in terms of, “OK, what’s the deal, why was this illegal for so long?” There was a reason — so that we could incarcerate brown and black bodies and profit off people in prison like they still are. A way to demonize whole classes of people and to demonize relaxation...and so by it being legal, now we kind of need to have a conversation like, What else are we demonizing for political purposes?”
There’s no way for us to really celebrate — or that I can celebrate — anything going on with Hemp and Cannabis when people are sitting in jail for it. A very specific population is sitting in jail.
This is a plant that makes us question.
Where do we start?
Grow hemp and cannabis: it teaches you so much. If you have a patio or balcony in California, you can grow cannabis very easily. If you can grow tomatoes, you can grow ashwagandha; it’s the same family. I want to encourage people to build relationships with actual plants. That’s where the magic is. There are plants when I lived in New Jersey that I would go to and they would just tell me what’s up. They would say, “You are doing this and you shouldn’t be,” and that may sound crazy but building those relationships with your plant allies is very important. That is a concept in Western Herbal medicine...to have plant allies.
Another core tenant of my philosophy when it comes to plants is that there is no supplement that replaces adequate sleep, adequate nutrition, healthy relationships and a spiritual practice. And that’s not buying a rose quartz and posting yourself doing lotus.
Spiritual practice is every single day, establishing that you are not the center of the universe.