Dr. JJ of the Herb Shoppe: On the Store, Stress Relieving Herbs + Overall Health

I feel SO lucky to have the privilege of interviewing Dr. JJ, owner of the Herb Shoppe here in Portland. Since I have moved up here it has been one of my favorite places to go for teas, tinctures, culinary spices or even just education from her friendly staff or Dr. JJ herself. She is a wealth of knowledge and has created a very special business- one that you will have to stop by and see for yourself...

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself...

I'm Dr. JJ and the owner of the Herb Shoppe here in Portland, Oregon and Brooklyn, New York.  I grew up in the Midwest where my Dad had a flower farm my Mom lived in the city.  I had the best of both worlds and being around plants has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.  I also have a 2 year old daughter that I love to spend time with.  I see patients once a week, but outside of that I am focusing on the herbs and being at the shop!

2. What was your vision behind opening up the Herb Shoppe?

When I was going through graduate school, I really missed a good herb shop and I was surprised that there wasn't one in Portland at the time.  It was then I knew I needed to open one.  I started the Herb Shoppe and based it around 3 philosophies:

 -Provide people with the best medicine possible. Having the most alive and vital herbal medicine is what we stand by.
 -Offer people as many resources and references as possible.  Whether it is a piece of information, a   reference, a product or simply a smile- it is important that each person walks out with some sort of takeaway.
 -Community. We want everyone to feel welcome here and for them to feel a sense of community when they walk in the door.

3. What is your general philosophy around health?

Take good care of yourself! We tend to live in a very sympathetic dominant culture, meaning we are encouraged to go, go, go all the time and it is important that we find a balance between our go time and our down time.  That really supersedes into everything in our lives- eating well, working hard/playing hard, having good community, having loving people around you and enjoying your work and hobbies. You also have to own your health and love your body. Give thanks for the beautiful body you have every day.

4. You guys have some killer tea concoctions, one of my favorites being the "peaceful feeling tea." It literally puts me in an insta calm/happy mood.  What is it about that tea!?

Ah, everyone loves that tea! It is one the top selling teas we have here.  What is great about the tea is that it is filled with nervines.  Nervines are a type of herb that work on the central nervous system. When we are in that sympathetic dominant state I mentioned before, the tea helps to calm our central nervous system and helps us to relax and be able to go through the day at a more steady/calm pace.

5. I find a lot of friends and clients dealing with adrenal fatigue.  What are some herbs, diet suggestions, etc. that you would suggest?

So, the adrenals are two little glands that sit above the kidneys and do a lot of different things.  One of the big things they do is secrete cortisol.  Cortisol helps balance blood sugar, moderate inflammation  and moderate stress- emotionally and physically.  If this is taking place, cortisol is constantly being secreted and at some point the body realizes that it doesn't keep needing to put fires out, so the cortisol stops being secreted.  After all of that, you end up getting extremely depleted.  That's when you want to start working with a group of herbs called adaptogens.  Adaptogens are great at nourishing and tonifying.  They build things up that are low and bring things down that are high.  For adrenals, some great herbs that you want to focus on are rhodiola, schizandra and even a little borage leaf.  Combining those with the nervine herbs will help you gain a good build up.  At the shop we have an adrenal support tea and a great tincture called the adrenal tonifier and stimulator.  My other favorite is the schizandra adrenal complex or stress free capsules.

6. What do you feel is this most proactive thing most of us could be doing for our health?

I believe we need to slow down. Slowing down when we eat and slowing down when we go to bed to really balance out that sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system.  Also, just enjoying yourself on a daily basis and giving thanks for all that you have... that is essential.

7. Favorite DYI skin treatment?

I'm all about making homemade face masks.  I like taking French green clay and mixing it with mashed avocado and a little yogurt.  An egg white or honey mask is also great.  Also, I love doing a little steam with some rosemary or lavender.

8. I've noticed candida dieting gaining more spotlight.  What would you suggest to those who aren't willing to to the strict diet, but are still in need of fighting it off?

We have a great supportive yeast free tea at the shop that a lot of people really love.  It has the big anti-candida herbs in it like paul d'arco that really help clean out the intestinal wall.

9.  Favorite meal/recipe?

That changes all the time because I love food and love to cook! Last night, I made some really delicious quinoa salmon cakes that I put together with some beans, kale, quinoa, salmon, and fresh herbs.  I also love making herbed bread and butter.  I like to take some fresh calendula and creaming it into the butter.   The bread is great when baked with some fresh fennel or thyme...

Thanks Dr. JJ for all of your tips and knowledge! 

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