While I’m no stranger to the stress reducing benefits of adaptogens, like ashwaganda (thanks to my discovery of Moon Juice a few years back), or the ability of Chinese herbs like jujube, longan and astralangus to ease labor and delivery, the benefits of western herbs are rarely salient in my mind when I think of herbs.
When I mentioned this to Traci Donat, herbalist and founder of Simples Tonics, an herbal apothecary that specializes in western herbs, last week during our interview she wasn’t surprised. “In our society, we often look to Ayurveda or Traditional Chinese Medicine or the Andes when it comes to herbal medicine, but the truth is we have these incredibly nutrient dense plants with tremendous healing properties that grow in our backyard and are often overlooked.”
Many of these common herbs, she explained, are considered “weeds,” like dandelion and chickweed, but have extremely nourishing benefits due to their high vitamin and mineral content.
Through an infusion process that involves boiling large quantities of organic herbs in fluoride-free, filtered water and allowing to steep before thoroughly straining and chilling, the shop creates in-house single herbal infusions sold in 16oz or 32oz bottles.
Rose, schisandra, oatstraw, tulsi, chickweed, nettle, and linden are currently on the menu.
My favorites: oatstraw and linden – the “nervines.” While the fragrant rose tonic uplifted my mood and the shisandra delighted my palette, it was the out cold, uninterrupted deep sleep I experienced immediately after drinking the oatstraw and linden that have me obsessing over when I can make another trip to the Simples apothecary to purchase more.
“Oatstraw is a really popular one here in the store. It’s super high in magnesium, B vitamins, and calcium. It’s considered a nervine herb, meaning it works on the nervous system, so it’s very relaxing, not sedating, great for stress, and anxiety. It also rebuilds the nervous system and helps support people who have adrenal fatigue and are depleted,” says Traci, “And Linden is also great for calming the body down. We call it ‘the hug’ because it soothes the soul.”
The effects these two herbal tonics had on me was almost immediate and took me off guard. My previous experiences with powdered herbs left much to be desired, and to be felt. So the intensity of my experiences with these tonics has me believing.
When I mentioned the immediate effects these two had on me, Traci smiled and said yes, we get that a lot. “Once our customers try our tonics, they feel the benefits right away and start craving them because the vitamins and minerals make you feel so good.”
The shop also sells herbal tinctures; alcohol extractions of herbs meant to be taken in small doses, 1-2 drops every day. But when asked which are more potent, the tonics or the tinctures, she says, “Tinctures are great for traveling and are very concentrated, since you only need a few drops, but I love the tonics. It’s just such a great nourishing way for the body to readily absorb the plant nutrients.”
Simples Tonics; 2724 Main Street, Santa Monica CA, 90405; Open: 10:30 AM – 5:30PM; Closed Tuesdays
Written & Photographed by Amy Chang, founder + editor