She obtained her degree in 2004, began practicing
in London, and after a few years, opened up an
herbal clinic and apothecary called Lemon Balm.
helping clients with medical issues, she also teaches people how
to make skincare items like lotions, lip balm and body butter. She
shares her knowledge in a variety of ways, including consultations,
classes, workshops, birthday parties and herb hikes in the
“An herb walk is an opportunity to get out in nature; UC Santa
Cruz is great for that,” explains Grainger. “Its farm and garden
have lots of things growing, both wild plants that I can identify
and share with people and more cultivated things in the garden.”
Although she calls the walks “herb hikes” (pronouncing the “h”
in herb as they do in England), she says they are not difficult or
“I find it hard to go more than 50 feet in half an hour
because there’s always this plant and that plant. We really
just walk around and identify the plants, discuss what they
do and how I use them medicinally, and learn a little bit
about their history. It’s really fun,” she says.
Grainger says people are often surprised to learn that
plants nearby and familiar to them have medicinal uses.
“Yarrow is a really good example of that. It stops bleeding
and is particularly good for bites and stings. You can
chew it, or you can mush it up in your hand and put it
right on a bite or sting. It just takes the sting right out of
it and reduces the inflammation,” she explains.
“Plantain—not the one that looks like a big banana
but the kind that grows all over Santa Cruz with its straplike
leaves—that’s another really good anti-inflammatory
that helps with all kinds of bites and things.”
“I had been trying to control my blood sugar with diet, exercise
and pharmaceutical medicine. I added the herbal tincture, and it
dropped 15 percent,” he says.
Jill Dion is also getting help from Grainger for arthritis conditions,
and she says Grainger’s herbal preparations have been helping
her with the pain. She adds that they work hand-in-hand with the
conventional arthritis medicine prescribed by her rheumatologist.
“She’s just so knowledgeable about plants. You could listen to
her forever,” says Jill, adding tongue-in-cheek, “It helps that she
has an English accent. That always sounds better to me.”
The Dions are among a growing number of Bay Area residents
who have been introduced to the power of plants by Grainger,
known as “the English Herbalist in Santa Cruz.” In addition to
leading an herb
walk at Wilder
at home with
and son, Paula
her parents and