Located at 1572 Bardstown Road, herbalist Myron Hardesty’s shop, Weeds of Eden, seems half general store and half botanical apothecary. The front room has both shelves of formulated vitamins and shelves of T-shirts. Behind the counter, a consultation room is packed to the ceiling with 300 brown glass bottles of herbal tinctures — alcohol solutions containing a variety of extracted herbs. People with all kinds of minor ailments find their way here in search of an alternative treatment to prescribed medicines.
"As an herbalist, you have to be a generalist," says Hardesty, who is also a candidate in the Physicians’ Assistants program at the University of Kentucky. "It’s different than just going into a health store" and grabbing a prepackaged supplement off the shelf.
After graduating from the University of Louisville with an English degree in 1992, Hardesty attended the Southwest School of Botanical Medicine in Bisbee, Ariz. Since opening the shop in 2000, he has treated 350 clients.
Each person seeking his expertise fills out a 12-page questionnaire detailing medical history and current complaints — the usual background information requested at a doctor’s office. But Hardesty also asks about personal habits, methods of coping with stress, family history, and perhaps even travel history. "I have the advantage of looking at the whole picture," he says. "Herbal medicine doesn’t treat diseases, but the person with the disease. The way I would treat a businessman versus an elderly woman (with the same symptoms) can differ."
If somebody came in with a case of insomnia, Hardesty would ask a battery of questions. "My first question would be, ‘Do you drink coffee?’" he says. "Then I would ask, ‘What’s your work environment like? Your home? Do you have kids?’" From there he would investigate the characteristics of the insomnia "to get down to the specific of the individual," he says. The client’s answers help Hardesty ascertain his or her stress type, whether adrenaline or adrenal cortical, categorizations used to determine care. For example, he might develop a formula, a bl/files/storyimages/of single-herb tinctures, for an individual with an adrenaline stress type (whose typical response to tension would include fight-or-flight behavior) to address the insomnia. It would include valerian root to calm nerves, wood betony to relax muscles, and hops, which stimulate the liver and provide a sedative quality.
The formula is taken by adding 30-60 drops to a small amount of water and drunk an hour before bed. A second dose follows right at bedtime. Hardesty combines the botanical treatment with directives on behavior change such as limiting caffeine use and exercising after dinner. "The tincture isn’t the focal point," he says, "but a nudge at the /files/storyimages/of the day."