My name is Dr. Douglas Schar and I am an herbalist, botanist, doctor, and health journalist. My specialty is plants, herbs or foods, that make the body strong and healthy. Twenty years ago I became interested in plants used by traditional cultures to increase health, plants that had some miraculous ability to boost vitality and insure wellness. Ok, its a rather unusual interest, but, it fascinated me then and it continues to fascinate me now.
I was intrigued that around the world, people living in different cultures, simultaneously, identified plants that could be used to boost vitality, prevent disease, and or stimulate speedy recovery from illness. Sometimes they were foods made out of plants, sometimes they were medicines made out of plants. But, what they had in common was this peculiar ability to stimulate vitality or restore health. And in many cases, different cultures on different continents identified the same plants as being vitality building, prior to the age of communication. Coincidence? Probably not. So, I was fascinated and spent twenty years nosing around the subject. And, when you spend twenty years studying “health causing” plants, you learn a few things. I consider myself an expert in the field of plants that can keep you well or get you well.
So that’s boring old me, plant freak who has spent his life looking for plants that stimulate health.
Now about the website. This website contains all that I have discovered about “stay well” or “get well” plants, and it will contain all my future discoveries. If you want to learn about plants you can use maintain or regain health, you have found the right website. Getting down to brass tacks, this website is broken down into two areas. They would be the archives and the features section.
The archives is where I have parked all of my prior writings which would include chapters from my PhD thesis, chapters from my books, articles, fact sheets and more. I have written a lot and in the archives you have access to all of my prior research, discoveries, and writings.
The features section is where you will find monthly features on my recent discoveries or fascinations ……plants you need to know about. As I float around the globe, I come across plants that appear to have potential in the health game, and I end up researching the hell out of them. I grow the plant in question, process it into food or medicine, and then use it. When I get through with all that, and I feel that I have some useful information to pass on, I write an article.
Formerly, I would send those articles off to magazines. Well, times they are a changing, and now, rather than selling the article to a publication, I am posting my articles on my own website. Welcome to the features section of my website. Once or twice a month, I will be presenting my latest health boosting plant discovery and my findings on that fascination of the moment.
And, the website has a home. Well, the website and me have a home. All this experimenting and learning takes place on a small farm 14 miles outside Washington, DC. The farm is where I grow and experiment with all kinds of health stimulating plants. It’s kind of like an experimental station….. out of control. It’s the playground of this mad scientist. I have fields, I have a greenhouse, and I have a commercial kitchen. In the commercial kitchen stuff from the fields and the greenhouse gets turned into health building foods and medicines. Could be applesauce or could be a cold preventing syrup. If you have ever seen the “Lucille Ball” episode where Lucy and Ethel get jobs in the candy factory, you have a good idea of what goes down at the farm.
So, thats a little bit about me, about the website, and about where the website is actually located. Welcome. Check in from time to time, there will be some new and interesting plant for you to read about. Some plant that you can use to stay well and strong, or get well and strong.
My adventure with plants began at a very early. At the age of three my grandfather helped me plant my first garden. By the age of four I was writing to my grandmother asking her to send me seeds of a variety of lettuce she grew. A lettuce variety she got from her grandmother.
Basically, as soon as I could talk, I talked plants. Specifically, I talked to old people about how to grow things. They seemed to know the deal. As soon as I could read, I began reading gardening books. Some kids read comics, I read Rodales’ Organic Gardening. Growing up in DC, I had the big daddy of all libraries at my disposal, the Library of Congress, and I used it. I read all about the different useful plants that people used for all kinds of purposes. I went to College in NYC and without a garden I grew vegetables on my fire escape and turned my apartment into an orchid nursery.
When I got back from College , I bought a house in DC that had a 40 x 80 lot. Having spent four years in Gotham City, gardenless, I had a lot of pent up garden energy stored up. I went crazy with my city garden. I began collecting useful plants and over stuffed my little city plot. Soon enough, the garden was producing enough food for a family of five. The grass was replaced by corn. Pumpkins were trained over the house in a very peculiar trellis. Bless my neighbours for not complaining and or turning me into the authorities. My garden was clearly in violation of something.
To pay for my ridiculous garden, I started a gardening business. I designed and installed gardens for people. I got to know the commercial side of the plant world. However, in time, the business became more about managing employees and scoring clients and less and less about plants. I wanted to work with plants, and though this was close, it was not close enough.
As total luck would have it, a local television producer noticed my bizarre garden and asked if I would be interested in hosting a gardening television show. Mass media to my rescue! I was going to get paid to study useful plants and then talk about them! Sign me up for some of that said I. The Urban gardener was born. I wrote and starred in the show and it was bliss. To get paid to read books at the Library of Congress was a dream come true. That was the good part.
The bad part was that I was hosting an organic vegetable gardening show in 1990 when the only advertisers were the lawn chemical companies. Oops. Let’s just say it was less than a sound business decision. Now, my real interest had always been useful plants, plants that were used as food or medicine, and I knew a lot about both. The television show wasn’t paying the rent so I had to look into some other options. I decided to write a book to increase my income.
At the moment I decided to write a book, the AIDS epidemic was roaring. People were dropping dead all over the place. And, what was really weird was this. Doctors were giving really sick people toxic chemicals to make them better? This did not make a lick of sense to me. In my mind, the last thing a sick person needed was a big dose of poison. This story was all around me and it really plagued me. It just seemed wrong.
As I was thinking about what book to write, something came into my head. I spent the first twenty years of my life reading books about medicinal plants and listening to old people talk about medicinal plants. In both cases, I had always heard about “tonics ” or plants that made people stronger. I knew that in the olden days, when people wanted to avoid getting the infection spreading through town, they took a tonic to avoid getting the infection. If someone got the infection, they gave them a tonic to make them recover quicker. If a child failed to grow properly or an old person was failing, they gave them a tonic. I had heard and read about thetonic concept, and knew of fifty or so plants that were called “tonics.”
It occurred to me that people with AIDS needed tonics. They needed medicinal plants that would make their body stronger. Something to build them up. So, this thought was kicking around in my head when another thought occurred to me. Yes, AIDS patients would be helped with a tonic, but, the average person of that day was looking a litttle raggedy too. The real estate crash of the early nineties resulted in a lot of people having a real hard time, and the hard time was showing on their faces and in their health. I thought the worn out modern person could use one of those old time tonics too.
To cut a really long story short, decided to write a book on “tonics”. I spent a year intensely studying the tonic concept and tonic plants from around the world. I had some hot leads from my prior study of useful plants, but I really dove into the topic. Thank goodness for the Library of Congress, because it held thousands of books that helped me learn more than I ever needed to know about tonics. My first book, “Thirty Plants that Could Save your Life” came into existence
When the book was done, I was totally sold on the tonic concept. Simply put, people around the world had identified and used certain plants to make the body stronger and healthier, for thousands of years, and all reported excellent results. I just felt that if there wasnt something to tonics,people would have stopped using them.
Ok, so I had a book and a conviction for certain plants ability to increase strength and health, but, what I did not have was a publisher. As luck would have it, the guy that shaved next to me at the gym, at 6 am, was a book publisher. And, he published the book. Well, the book was a success. So much so it led me to write another book on the subject. In the process, I realized that people wanted to know about herbal remedies that could make them stronger and keep them well.
As the TV show was really not happening, and tonic herbal medicine really was, I decided to blast down that road. This led me to attend a medical school in the UK that specialized in herbal medicine. Ultimately, I graduated from the leading college of western herbal medicine, “The College of Phytotherapy” (UK) with a Diploma in Phytotherapy.
After I graduated from medical school, I stayed in London. I had a shop that produced and sold disease preventing and health stimulating herbal medicines and a clinic where people were treated with nothing but these botanical remedies. The shop and the clinic were really fronts for an herbal medicines think tank. The objective of the think tank was to study tonic plants and their usefulness in contemporary society. Money earned from the shop and clinic allowed us to do clinical trials. Trials where we tested out the century old tonics to see if they worked and how they worked. Much was learned.
And, I wrote more books on the subject which include “The Dictionary of Aphrodisiac Plants”, “Dump Your Stress in the Compost Pile”, “Backyard Medicine Chest”, “Healing Plants of the Bible”, “Dictionary of Tonic Plants”, and “Echinacea”.
And, I began contributing to “Prevention” and “Preventions’ Guide Healing Herbs” and acting as an advisor to both.
And, if that wasn’t enough, then I started a Ph.D. in Herbal Medicine at the University of Exeter. I had spent 15 years fascinated with tonic herbs, plants that increased health and well being. I decided to spend some years looking even more intensely at this type of plant.
In 2000 I had had enough of living in London and I decided to come back to my garden in Washington. It just so happened, my PhD advisor from Exeter University, had set up a school of herbal medicine in nearby Maryland and I ended up taking an active role at the Botanical Healing program at the Tai Sophia Institute. I taught history of herbal medicine and worked with students to help them identify and pursue appropriate career paths. All the while, I was slogging away at my PhD thesis on tonic plants and writing for Prevention. Writing for Prevention was great because I had the opportunity to teach millions of people about tonic herbal medicines.
After ten years of struggle, I was finally awarded my PhD. I believe I have the only Phd in tonic herbal medicine in the world. I could be wrong, but, I think if there was somebody else out there, I would have run into them.
After I got my Phd something really great happened. I bought a small farm. Here I have the opportunity to grow tonic plants and make tonic medicines and foods. Even better, I have animals who benefit from the steady stream of tonics being produced in the lab kitchen! I am actively working on developing tonic preparations that can be used in commercial farming, substances that can be used to keep animals healthy and thereby avoid the need for antibiotics and other unnatural substances.
So the beat goes on. I continue to study plants that stimulate vitality and well being. However, I am now focused on communicating what I have learned through my website.
Disclaimer: The author makes no guarantees as to the the curative effect of any herb or tonic on this website, and no visitor should attempt to use any of the information herein provided as treatment for any illness, weakness, or disease without first consulting a physician or health care provider. Pregnant women should always consult first with a health care professional before taking any treatment.