Keneuoe, a Restorative Chef & Clinical Herbalist
Every Month, we have the opportunity to talk to an alumni of the Berkeley Herbal School. We ask them to share their herbal journey with us, and with you.
This month we’re sharing Keneuoe’s herbal path!
Keneuoe’s path was catapulted by her own healing journey and using plants to support her health. Her rich tapestry of education has created her clinical practice as both an herbalist and chef, and led her to tending a small piece of land in the Bay Area where she grows medicine, teaches, and sees clients.
This is Keneuoe’s story.
Reverence for Land and Life
I have always had the sensation that I am a tiny sprout on a “tree of life” branch witnessing and experiencing the cyclical miracle of life. This was truer growing up in the remote, high altitude mountains of Southern Africa.
In the mountains, there were less man-made disguises to help mask or ignore seasonal flows and influences on the body. Every element, subtle and not so subtle was a tangible part of everyday life experience. There was this sense of being part of “all that is;” part of a whole. This initiatory sensation can (if one is mindful) give rise to intuitive insights into how to move about in order to attract a harmonious state of being for the elemental (earth) body.
My invitation to walk the path of herbal therapy came due to unpleasant anxiety and blood related heart rhythm irregularities. This internal state always pushed me into uncomfortable physical domain of restless imagination where I used creativity or constant “doing” as way to escape. These incessant attempts to escape were exhausting and were neither successful nor sustainable. I had to find true liberation.
I contemplated an active and scholarly approach to addressing imbalance issues through plant medicine therapies. I first trained as a therapeutic chef, with food as medicine emphasizing predominantly on plant-based nutrition proven to promote health and support recovery. The creative experience of cooking coupled with a understanding of food as medicine was life changing. Most importantly, this experience reminded me that we truly are what we eat. Therefore, we have to be interested in where our foods come from and the state of the earth (soil) where our food is cultivated. This awareness and gratitude lead to support of local land caretakers and farmers, which is paramount for sustainability.
Therapeutic culinary training left me with intense curiosity and deeper questions and forced me down the rabbit hole of phytochemistry – “how do plants do that?” Luckily, even though my Biochemistry bachelors’ degree had been so abstract, I still had gathered and retained some wisdom & basic comprehension of organic structures, properties and changes occurring in living cells. Now I wanted an experiential understanding of herbal medicine.
Keneuoe’s Experience at BHC
Berkeley Herbal Center was an experience imbued with a strong experiential understanding of herbal medicine. Herbal medicine is a natural science that involves the understanding of common remedies in terms of their chemistry (phytochemistry); plant constituents, solubility, and synergies responsible for specific therapeutic functioning. This is a scientific and holistic way of understanding whole plant therapy for clinical purposes of addressing body system imbalances and improving health.
This integrated experience placed me in the midst of nature’s play where the world of meaningful beauty (inspiration), natural creativity (design) and pursuit of balance (health) harmoniously intersect.
Medicinal Gardening in Oakland, Ca
In gratitude to nature’s guidance I tend to a small “way-station” medicinal garden in Oakland. It is an oak tree enclave with a vibrant ecosystem of native plants, bees, chickens, and many wild birds and creatures. Everyday earth magic reminds us to dance within the ebb and flow of life seasons. Nature is our way-shower to our rediscovering of the truth.
The garden is open to one-on-one consultations and to small gatherings centered on nature’s guidance towards spontaneous existence, wisdom–based learning and ultimately surrendering to personal peace.
Under the bees’ hum we make seasonal restorative herbal honey syrups, herb infused oils and vinegars, concoct balancing herbal teas and engage in other restorative practices to help ground and witness wellness and reciprocity at play.
What Keneuoe has been making in her kitchen recently
Herbal Syrup Recipe:
Bring 4 cups of filtered water to a boil the bring down to a gentle simmer
Add ¼ cup dried herbs
Let cool and concentrate overnight
Strain into a pot and simmer until the liquid is reduced to half
Cool the reduction a little before adding honey (this is to prevent damage to the beneficial enzymes with heat). Stir well to dissolve honey
Transfer to a sealable jar and refrigerate