Frequently Asked Questions
- Why choose an herbalist instead of just sourcing herbs yourself?
- Shipping Policies
- Payment Options
- Product and Material Sourcing
- What is an “apothecary” and why do you call yourself one?
- What is a tincture?
- What is a decoction?
Why choose an herbalist instead of just sourcing herbs yourself?
This is the question I get most often, and it often comes right after “What IS an herbalist actually?”. For now I’m going to assume you already know what an herbalist is and I’m going to jump right into the why!
One of the most valuable things I have learned in my years of schooling in plant medicine is that even though herbal medicine is natural, and has fewer side effects than many other medications on the market, it is NOT COMPLETELY SAFE. A person can do a lot of harm to their body if they don’t know the right herbs to pick for what they’re going through, and generally speaking a person can waste a LOT of money taking an herb that just isn’t effective for them because it was either prepared in the wrong way, given at the wrong dose, or not chosen correctly for their body type/size/age/constitution.
A person with mild to moderate depression may google herbs to take, and come across St John’s Wort, a beautiful and wonderful herb. However, google often fails to inform them that it makes your liver rapidly clear just about every medication you may be taking, or that if you are a passionate person who reacts to things with anger and feistiness rather than sadness and withdrawal, this herb may draw up more anger in you and prevent you from getting to sleep! Actually… it can prevent you from getting to sleep simply by being taken at the wrong time of day. And furthermore, it has not been found to be helpful with depression if taken as a tea because dried St John’s Wort no longer contains the properties to help with serotonin levels, though it can still be a useful nervine.
If these are just the considerations to take into account for a single herb, you can imagine what needs to be considered with every herb offered, and every formula made. This is why consultations can take so long, and why a formula made for one person, may not help another person at all. Herbalism highlights how very unique we all are!
Another thing to keep in mind is price as well. Even though a consultation with a professional herbalist may seem pricey, the herbs offered are often much cheaper than one could get online or at a grocery store, because they have been purchased at a reduced price for practitioners. Herbs from an herbalist can cost 50-100% cheaper than store-bought herbs, and again, you’re not as likely to waste money trying out different products that may or may not work, when a formula tailored specifically to you is much more likely to have a benefit!
For people with multiple allergies and sensitivities, before making a complete formula, I will often drop-test single tinctures on someone’s wrist. If they are sensitive or allergic, a benign rash will occur, and I’ll know not to use that herb in the formula. If you take a formula off the shelf and experience a reaction, it’s hard to know what you’re actually reacting to… having a formula made just for you takes away the mystery and allows you to feel more comfortable and safe with what you’re taking.
With all of this being said, I also want to empower people to take their health into their own hands, which is why I offer learning herbal sessions as well as general consultations, because herbal knowledge and health knowledge should be accessible to EVERYONE.
Just please, please take google searches with a grain of salt, and if you have any questions give your local herbalist a call, or set up an appointment to learn more!
The apothecary uses Canada Post to ship orders. If for some reason you cannot receive Post, please email before placing your order and we’ll see what we can do.
Shipments are sent out once weekly on Monday mornings.
You’ll receive an emailed confirmation and tracking information once it is shipped.
At the moment we can only ship to Canada and the states, we do not offer international shipping, mainly due to technical difficulties with our shipping account which we are in the process of fixing. If you are from another country and would like to receive one of the products from the shop, please email the apothecary and we’ll see what we can do.
Returns and Exchanges
- You can return an item if it arrives broken or damaged, please send an email to the apothecary at WhiteOwlMedicinals@gmail.com and explain the circumstances and provide a picture of the item if possible. You will receive a full refund, or an exchange for an item of equal value, or a coupon for your next order, whichever you would prefer.
- You can return an item within 30 days of receiving it If the item is non-perishable. It can be returned for a full refund. You are responsible for return shipping costs, and you will receive your refund upon receipt of the item in the same condition in which it was sent. To make up for some of your shipping costs you will receive a coupon for a future order.
- You can exchange an item if you would like, though generally it is easier to return the original and start again. You are responsible for return shipping.
- If you are having another problem which is not covered here, please send an email to WhiteOwlMedicinals@gmail.com with your order number and we’ll do what we can to help.
In person and for consultations I accept, E-transfer, Cash, and Check. In the near future I will also be able to take standard credit and debit cards.
Presently the apothecary does not offer wholesale large orders. However, if you would like to buy more of an item that is offered, such as a larger amount of tea, or multiple orders of the same thing and it is showing up as “out of stock”, please send an enquiry to WhiteOwlMedicinals@gmail.com and we’ll put together a custom order for you, and depending on the amount you are purchasing you could receive a coupon for 5-20% off!
Product and Material Sourcing
Sourcing comes from many different places but everything is either certified organic, biodynamic, sustainably and ethically sourced/grown/harvested/gathered and created with intention and respect.
Some sources include:
- Dried herbs: Usually Mountain Rose Herbs, Harmonic Arts, or ethically and sustainably wild crafted by myself or a trusted colleague
- Tinctures: Rutland Biodynamics, Panacea, or personally made.
- Teabags and Packaging: Teabags and boxes are recycled paper, and the stamp ink is non-toxic. Jars and bottles are recycled glass or sourced from The Cary Company. Dropper lids for the tincture bottles need to be factory new and food-grade for your safety.
- Capsules: These are vegan and made from plant cellulose.
- Labels, and business cards: Labels from PureLabels and are printed on biodegradable 100% compostable paper with a non-toxic sugar adhesive. Business cards are from Greener Printer, and come on 100% recycled paper with non-toxic soy based ink.
- Printing materials: Some of my prints were sourced locally from Opus Arts and Island Blue Printing.
- Original art information: Birch bark has been harvested over the course of 20 years from a privately owned property, the bark is never removed from the tree but gathered from the ground with all due respect. I usually clean it with vinegar and essential oils to remove any dirt, mold, or bits of nature that may get in the way. The ink I use is sourced from various places and I am currently in the market for non-toxic ink whenever possible.
What is an “apothecary” and why you do call yourself one?
The word apothecary is from ancient Greece, and adapted by Medieval Latin. It was a traditional term used to describe a place and a person who dispensed medicines. At the time of its original use the word mostly referred to herbal medicine, and the apothecaries (or “storehouses”) would often dispense herbal medicine, the ingredients to make your own medicines, as well as health advice. As the medical community evolved, the old Apothecaries became Physicians, and herbalists were left behind. Most herbalists in the modern age still consider the word Apothecary to be an appropriate definition of what they do, however, many laws around North America prohibit the use of the word “Apothecary” in a business name because it could lead to confusion that the place of business is a pharmacy, when indeed it is not. This law is from 1903, but is still upheld in many states, including Michigan and California.
I enjoy the use of the word to refer to White Owl Medicinals shop and clinic, because few other words seem to sum up everything offered, as we work with modern herbal medicine as well as ancient traditions. In fact, the original name of White Owl Medicinals was actually White Owl Apothecary, until we were made aware of the law.
Hopefully you’ll join me in appreciating the antiquity of this word, and know that we are an herbal medicine clinic and we do not offer pharmaceutical drugs or medical advice.
What is a tincture?
A tincture if a fluid extract of the alcohol soluble phytochemical constituents in a plant. It can be made in several different ways, two popular methods which the apothecary uses are “maceration” and “percolation”.
Maceration is when fresh or dried plant material is soaked in a high strength alcohol for 4-6 weeks. This is a long extraction, and is good for fresh plant material, wood material, spongy material, and fluffy plant material.
Percolation is when an herb is suspended and an alcohol solution is slowly and carefully dripped through it. This results in a stronger extraction, because gravity/kinetic forces are pulling out the constituents. This extraction can also be done much faster, but it can only be done with dried plant material that can be ground into small pieces.
Some plants actually NEED to be tinctured fresh, just as some need to be tinctured dried. So each method needs to be used in the right instance, and neither are good for everything.
Tincturing isn’t for every plant. There are plenty of medicinal constituents in plants that are water soluble, and it’s better that these are turned into teas or decoctions than tinctures. Tinctures can sometimes extract some water soluble constituents, but not as much as could be extracted with a good steeping or boiling.
Some tinctures are a mixture of water extraction and alcohol extraction, which makes a medicine which contains both the water soluble and alcohol soluble constituents of a plant. Again, we don’t want to do this all of the time, but it’s good to know we can!
What is a decoction?
A decoction is a water extraction of plant constituents.
It is different than a tea, because where a tea is plant material sitting in boiled water, a decoction is the plant material being left to simmer continuously for some time (anywhere from 1-12 hours!). Most decoctions can be completed within 1-2 hours, and are usually used to extract constituents from hardy plant material, such as bark, berries, and roots.
It is rare that leafy plant material or petals would ever be decocted, as the prolonged high heat can damage some of the medicinal constituents.