Sharing Nature’s Healing Bounty
By Stephanie Giles
Michele Palazzo’s love of plants started at a young age growing up in New York. Finding and experimenting with plants was a hobby of hers. What she didn’t know, while she was exploring through the brush, was that her hobby of collecting plants was just the beginning. “There is an amazing amount of edible medicinal plants around the North East area where I grew up,” she said. “I was always curious, but I didn’t learn about their medicinal purposes until college.”
Palazzo studied Environmental Science and Forestry at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. After graduating, she studied with famous herbalist Cascade Anderson Geller. This sparked Palazzo’s passion for edible medicinal herbs.
“Every time I looked at the ingredients of over-the-counter products, I didn’t like what I saw,” she said. “If I can’t read the majority of ingredients, it isn’t good.”
Palazzo continued to study herbology under other well-known herbalists until 1999, when she moved to Southern Humboldt. She says her land is blessed with the plants and herbs she picks for her products. “These plants are wildly ethically grown,” Palazzo said. “There needs to be a mutual respect to keep the integrity of the plant community.”
Cheryl Lisin prefers using Palazzo’s organic tinctures instead of drugstore products. “ I prefer things that are made naturally and organic,” she said. “I also like buying local.” When Lisin’s great aunt was suffering from arthritis, Lisin gifted her some of Palazzo’s pain cream. “She would go through it so fast and would ask me to get her more,” she said. “[Palazzo’s] products really work!” Lisin, a landscape designer, met Palazzo when she went on one of her nature hikes 10 years ago. “I know the plants, but I never knew the medicinal purposes of them,” she said. Lisin takes one of Palazzo’s nature hikes every year.
Palazzo’s ingredients include healing salves, Respiratory Rub, Rose Cream, Anti-Fungal Cream, Cough Elixir, several different tea blends and so much more.
Palazzo also offers harvesting workshops and processing workshops. She also teaches classes on how to create organic tinctures and rubs with these plants. “The knowledge is important to put out there,” Palazzo said. “It’s also important to empower people to use plants.”
C. L. Moss, who teaches Ecological Education, met Palazzo seven years ago when she led a nature tour for the children at Whitethorn Elementary School. “The kids get to learn their own ability to use the world around them,” Moss said. “That is what Michele [Palazzo] is all about.”
Moss took a series of classes throughout three to four months with Palazzo before starting to make her own organic products. “She is a role model,” Moss said about Palazzo. “She’s an excellent teacher with a wealth of knowledge.”
Two summers ago, Moss took a trip to the Tanzania and brought a batch of Oregon Grapefruit, which she learned to make from Palazzo. “I was the only one who didn’t get sick and didn’t have intestinal problems,” she said. “[Palazzo] is really on to something!”
Moss has taught some kids in Whitethorn about the benefits of edible medicinal plants and how to harvest them. “I’d like to say I’m following in her footsteps,” she said. “I see her as my mentor.”
Palazzo believes we can learn from the plants around us. “Nature is an amazing bounty,” she said. “Many thanks to the plants that share their knowledge.”