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SCNM Students and Doctors Discuss Gaia Selective Trip

Each year, SCNM offers a yearly selective called “Botanical Medicine in the Appalachian Mountains” in which students and doctors travel to the Gaia Herbs Farm outside Brevard, North Carolina.  The 2017 trip was an amazing experience for everyone involved.  

Students learned about medicinal plants of the Appalachian Mountain region through field study with local herbalists. They also spent time at Gaia Herbs discussing medicinal use of cultivated plants with an emphasis on clinical application and constitutional prescribing.  They received invaluable education about quality control, raw material processing/production, harvesting, and validation of strength, purity and efficacy of herbs.  

We would like to thank Gaia for providing this amazing experience to our students and their continual support of SCNM.

SCNM students Dara Denzer and Katharine Schneller, as well as Dr. Dawn Jonas told us about their experiences on the trip.

Dara Denzer

What was the most impressive plant you met? 

The most impressive plant I would have to say was Echinacea. Hearing Ric (owner of Gaia) discuss how he partnered with SCNM Research to demonstrate efficacy was eye-opening. He explained that there are different species that look extremely similar and have different constituents. This is why it is critical to Gaia for species testing prior to processing the herbs.

What impressed you most about the Gaia facility?

I was most impressed by the quality control was as at the facility. I think that Ric is melding botanical medicine with the going field of evidence-based medicine. The plants are tested for the species as well as the active constituents to ensure efficiency of the product. I was also impressed that the herbs are tested for pesticides as well as heavy metals at numerous times during processing. This detailed testing gives me assurance both as a consumer and as a future prescribing physician in these products.

Favorite memory of the trip?

My favorite part of the trip was going on the field identification. Hiking through the local state park was an amazing whist identifying numerous plants along the way. Ending with swimming under a waterfall, you can’t get better than that.

Favorite dish at the grand finale dinner?

My favorite dishes at the grand finale dinner was the delicious picked beets with mint/peppermint (can’t remember) leaves AND the awesome cookies that are made with Golden Milk!! These cookies are BOMB!

Anything else about the trip that made a great impression or that you want to add?

I think that Ric was the most impressionable to me. He is a kind and caring individual that believes in Naturopathic Medicine and all those who practice it. I was surprised that he knew every aspect of this company, from getting his hands dirty in the field to understanding the quality control instrumentation in the lab.

Katharine Schneller

What was the most impressive plant you met? 

I would have to say the echinacea fields. They're expansive and gorgeous when they blossom. The bees loved it, too! 

What impressed you most about the Gaia facility?

The three different filtration and analysis systems that ensured their quality. There's no other herbal company that ensures DNA genotyping of the plants or tests for as much contaminates as Gaia.

Favorite memory of the trip?

I think going to dinner on the Fourth of July with most of the group of us. We saw fireworks as we sat inside the restaurant and talked and ate delicious food.

Favorite dish at the grand finale dinner?

The salmon was incredible!!

Anything else about the trip that made a great impression or that you want to add?

The whole trip was amazing and I am just grateful I was able to go and learn so much.

Dr. Dawn Jonas

What was the most impressive plant you met? Do you have a photo of it?

I really enjoyed meeting Stinging Nettle. Ric demonstrated a flogging and the immediate results were amazing! Later in the week, we ate the leaves whipped with ricotta cheese as a delicious hors d’oeuvres. 

What impressed you most about the Gaia facility?

The Gaia facility was so impressive! It was great to see the lab and learn about the quality control procedures. However, I most most excited to see the machinery used to process the turmeric. (I wish I could say more about what it was called.)

Favorite memory of the trip?

My favorite memories were of the herb walks and learning about all of the common plants that are growing wild in the woods which can be used for medicine. I had a cough while I was there, so we cut a piece of wild cherry bark and decocted it. We tasted lots of the plants and some of them, such as Birch tree bark and Sassafras were surprisingly delicious.

Favorite dish at the grand finale dinner?

My favorite dish for the finale dinner was the nettles mousse atop squares of polenta. However, throughout the week we ate from the garden and everything was delicious. The night that we arrived we ate a healing soup that contained Astragalus root.

Anything else about the trip that made a great impression or that you want to add?

Overall, I was so impressed with Gaia. Once per week, there is a catered luncheon for all of the employees. I spoke with several of them and they are all so happy to be working there. The mission to make the highest quality herbal supplements in the most responsible, ethical manner really shows in everything they do. I love that employees and guests are welcome to eat from the garden. The grounds are like paradise.