Grainger says she might treat two people with very
similar issues in a very different way, giving them
herbs based on what suits their constitution.
Grainger's love of herbs has
inspired two books.
diseases, but at the same time, it poisoned them.
In the U.S. (as in the U.K.), Grainger doesn’t present her herbal
remedies as alternatives to traditional medicine. She takes an integrative
approach to her work.
“I’m not about to say to people with diabetes, ‘Hey; stop your
She says that she’s not a fan of the idea that modern medicine
has nothing to offer.
“It has changed lives; it’s fabulous,” she notes. “But we do know,
for instance, that antibiotics are becoming much less effective.
The World Health Organization has put out repeated warnings
about this. People are repeatedly given antibiotics for viral infections,
which don’t work and can lead to increased resistance.
She believes that one of the reasons the medical community is
slow to recognize herbal medicine is the inability to patent and
make a lot of money off herbs, as can be done with synthetic
drugs. That money is needed to fund studies on a drug’s effectiveness,
which tend to be very expensive. For that reason, there are
far fewer studies on the impacts of herbal medicines. You can’t
patent a plant.
Another reason: in herbal medicine, one size doesn’t fit all.
Grainger says she might treat two people with very similar issues
in a very different way, giving them herbs based on what suits
their constitution. That approach complicates any effort to do a
randomized control clinical trial in which people are randomly
divided into separate groups to compare different treatments.
Finally, herbal medicine has been thought of here as kind of
a folk medicine, mainly used by women to keep their families
84 South Bay Accent
and communities healthy. “It hasn’t really
poked its nose out from that to be a kind
of profession that’s good at standing up for
itself and getting laws changed and so on,”
To raise awareness and to share her knowledge
about the power of plants, Grainger
published “Infuse,” a book of herbal teas and
remedies. A second book, “Adaptogens,” is
due out in October.
HEALING COMES FULL CIRCLE
Over the past few years, Dr. Stephanie Cooper
Kochhar, an anesthesiologist from Saratoga,
has come to appreciate the value of herbal
medicine and of Grainger as a guide to it.
“She’s a great teacher,” says Kochhar. “I
learn something new at every class. They
don’t have any training here in the U.S.
equivalent to what Paula has been through
in the U.K., so I think she’s very unique in her knowledge, and
I’ve just really enjoyed getting to know her.”
Kochhar says she’s fascinated by how Grainger makes her
tinctures to help treat people with very different health issues. “It
feels like that’s how medicine kind of started, with people using
plants, and then came Western medicine with artificial chemicals
and tablets and pills, and now it’s like it’s coming full circle back
to plants. To me, they just seem safer, with fewer side effects.”
Kochhar has brought her daughter to Grainger’s holiday classes
where the participants often make gifts such as skincare products
out of plants and other natural substances, like beeswax.
“I like her philosophy that if you can eat it, it’s safe on your
skin,” says Kochhar.
Among the things she has learned from Grainger is that red
clover can help with menopause, sage and rosemary can help
with mental clarity and borage, among many other uses, can give
“I was running a triathlon and I was nervous,” she recalls. “I
really think it helped.”
For her part, Grainger says she really likes people and plants,
and her business gives her the chance to connect the two.
“I just love it when people are interested and say, ‘Oh, I’ve done
this and tried that and it really worked.’ When people feel healthier
and can address some long-term health issue they’ve had, that is
just so gratifying and makes you feel really good about the world.”
She also loves living in the South Bay and meeting the people
who live around her. “I think it’s just a kind of fairyland. And I
love the way things grow.” n
FROM LEFT: COURTESY OF HAMLYN; COURTESY OF GAIA BOOKS