The apothecaries of Brooklyn are ready to help you with a litany of complaints: allergies, weight gain, chronic pain, and the so-wired-you’re-tired syndrome common to many New Yorkers, among others. If you’re still clutching onto your bottle of pills, consider this: Plants have been working wonders way before pills were invented, and continue to be used as the primary form of medicine by 80% of the population in some Asian and African countries, while remaining very common in Europe. In the United States, around 25% of modern drugs have been derived from plants.
So, for all the non-believers and believers alike, here are four Brooklyn apothecaries that know how to work some (plant) magic.
The Herb Shoppe: The Brooklyn outpost of this Portland-based company boasts over 120 plants and herbs on location in its Boerum Hill storefront. This includes most of the traditional western herbs, plus dozens of Native American and Chinese plants. The jars are neatly labeled and arranged alphabetically, and the plants inside are sourced mostly from the West Coast, although the Brooklyn store tries to get what it can, when it can, locally. The Herb Shoppe also has its own individual herb blends—like Allergy Tea Blend, Peaceful Feeling, and Painfree Tea—that sell for $3.75 an ounce. Custom blends are $3 an ounce, but depending on your needs, you can also just buy herbs in bulk, powdered herbs, and culinary herbs & spices. The store has an impressive selection of tinctures (alcoholic extracts of herbs) for various complaints, as well as single-herb tinctures. Practitioners are available to consult with you if you’re a more complicated case, but I just have the occasional bout of insomnia so, after speaking with friendly herbalist Sam Perry, I left the Herb Shoppe with an herb tea blend that’s let me quickly hit the pillow without issue over the past few days.
394 Atlantic Avenue, Boerum Hill theherbshoppebrooklyn.com
Sacred Vibes Apothecary: Owned by master herbalist Karen Rose, Sacred Vibes’ 600-square-foot storefront in Flatbush carries just about everything from loose herbs and tinctures to syrups and elixirs. Rose was born and raised in Guyana until she was in her early teens and grew up learning about the mysteries (and powers) of plants. “In retrospect, many of our grandparents or community elders were herbalists in their own rights,” Rose writes. In Brooklyn, Rose prepares many of Sacred Vibes’ products in-house from ingredients sourced from American suppliers. She also offers nature walks, in-depth herbology works shops (for instance, a 4-week course on essential oils), and a unique two-year community apprentice program, where students have a chance to learn “the art and the practice of spiritual herbalism” from Rose herself.
376 Argyle Road, Flatbush sacredvibeshealing.com
Anima Mundi Herbals at Botica & Company: Third generation herbalist and Greenpoint resident Adriana Ayales is the co-owner of bottled juice company Pura Fruta and of apothecary Anima Mundi, and runs both from her herbal laboratory in Long Island City. An opportunity arose last fall to combine both businesses under one storefront in her Brooklyn neighborhood—and, thus, Botica & Co. was formed. Now, in addition to buying herbs in bulk, you can also pick up a variety of booster shots and elixirs like Cerebrum Brain Tonic, which brings circulation to brain tissue and enhances clarity, and Lucid Dreaming, which encourages deep sleep and banishes insomnia. Ayales is from Costa Rica, and first learned the art of herbal distillation from her grandmother before formally studying at a botanical school in California. Many of her herbs are sourced from Latin America, but all of her juices are cold pressed in Long Island City and are poured on tap at the juice bar. Highly recommended: The Cold’s Cocktail, which will knock the cold right out of you if you feel one coming on.
607 Manhattan Avenue, Greenpoint animamundiherbals.com
Remedies Herb Shop: Carroll Gardens residents were delightfully surprised last May when this new storefront popped up in the neighborhood to stay. The owner, Cheryl Boiko, comes with seven seven years of experience at the Flower Power Herbs & Roots shop in the East Village, and interned with renowned author and herbalist Robin Rose Bennett. Remedies’ shelves are stocked with glass jars containing root barks, spices, and loose herbs (sold from $2 to $3 per ounce), in addition to an impressive variety of teas, cooking and bath salts, salves, charcoal soaps, and more. If you have time, Cheryl will give you a friendly tour of the shop and will counsel you about that pesky insomnia. Remedies also offers flower essences and tinctures, and—for those who want to upgrade their knowledge of herbs—affordable classes like “Intro to Medicinal Herbs” and “Weed Walk in Prospect Park.” Just follow your nose.
453 Court Street, Carroll Gardens remediesherbshop.com
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