Discovering the healing power of herbs

I’ve always thought of herbs as something to spice up savory dishes, to soothe a headache or rash, or to delight the nose. It turns out that herbs can do even more than that. Here’s a story I received from Sally Hammerman, of West Chester.

Says Hammerman, “Recently, I sliced the tip of my right index finger off. Right off. I was using a mandoline slicer, and couldn’t find the thing that holds the produce which is being run over the blade, so I just thought, ‘I’ll be careful.’

“As a farmer who cherishes everything we grow, I put matter over mind. The parsnip was getting to the ‘close’ point on the mandoline. I stupidly figured ‘just one more slice,’ and with that slice, blood was gushing from my finger.”

If that had happened to me, I would have called a neighbor to take me to the Emergency Room. Hammerman is obviously made of tougher stuff. (It also helps that she is an RN.) As she tells it, “I ran to the garden, yanked out a handful of yarrow, pressed it on my finger, ran back to the house, wrapped a gauze pad over the finger and secured it with tape.”


A few hours later, Hammerman took a look at the wound: bleeding, but not gushing. She rewrapped it and checked on it the next morning, finding the bleeding almost stopped, allowing her to see the extent of the damage. “The tip was gone, skin and derma, exo and endo.” In an effort to avoid a trip to the hospital, Hammerman considered her options. She recalled a “regenerating salve” that she had made at an herbal workshop. She dug out the container, applied a generous amount of the salve, and bandaged up her finger again.

A day and a half later, the wound was obviously healing. Hammerman was relieved, but resigned to having permanently lost the tip of that finger. The surprise was that eventually the tip of the finger was restored, with only a reddish line remaining visible where the slice took place.

Hammerman made the salve at a workshop at King’s Herb Nook a few years ago. The healing results she experienced were so remarkable that she has invited Rosanna King to do a workshop in West Chester, at IMBY, Misty Hollow, the CSA (Community Supported Farm) that Hammerman tends with her husband, Jim. King will take participants on an herb identification walk, and provide an herbal salve make-and-take workshop.

Rosanna King’s interest in herbal healing grew out of growing herbs at her mother’s herb shop and nursery — King’s Herb Nook, in Honey Brook, PA. She completed Dr. Christopher’s School of Natural Healing herbalist program in 2006. Since then, King has been leading herb walks, and teaching classes on the uses of healing herbs.

She also studied with David Winston at the Center for Herbal Studies in New Jersey, completing both his two year program and the one year grad program. From Winston she learned how to use more than 300 herbs and create customized herbal formulas specific to an individual. In addition to being a full-time student at Millersville University, King works part time for Natural Answers —an herbal product company — as an advisor and formulator, helping them create effective and consistent herbal products.

The event is from 5:00 - 8:00 p.m. on Friday, September 5, at IMBY, Misty Hollow, located at 1020 Street Road, West Chester, PA 19382. Cost is $45 per person (2 or more participants attending together is $40 per person.) The fee includes a light dinner with an herb-infused salad.

Space is limited to just 15 people. To register, go to, or reserve a space by sending a $10 deposit to IMBY Misty Hollow, P.O. Box 626, Westtown, PA 19395. If registering online, you’ll notice a $3.00 PayPal processing fee is included. This will be refunded at the workshop.

Pam Baxter is an avid organic vegetable gardener who lives in Kimberton. Direct e-mail to, or send mail to P.O. Box 80, Kimberton, PA 19442.