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The Healing Power of Plants

An interview with an award-winning Maine herbalist

Spend a day with Maine herbalist Kathi Langelier and soon you’ll discover you can create your own power to heal what troubles you and maintain wellness throughout your body, mind, and spirit.

Langelier’s farm and apothecary, Herbal Revolution, is the result of 25 years of hard work honing her skills with plant-based medicine. She arrived at her calling on a winding path with one destination: wellness. She pursued a variety of educational opportunities including apprenticing on farms throughout the country, eventually deciding to attend massage school, while gaining knowledge and reliance on the healing power of plants. “I realized I am not built to be inside,” she said. 

After buying her farm, Langelier began growing the variety of plants that she uses in Herbal Revolution’s line of products, which have gained a steady following and loyal customer base, and her business now boasts a production facility on Route 17 in Union. While this facility is not open to the public, Langelier said she has a vision for the future. 

Her first book, titled Herbal Revolution: 65+ recipes for Tea, Elixirs, Tinctures, Syrups, Foods + Body Products that Heal was released in December of 2020. 

“I wanted to create something that connects with people, encouraging the use of everyday products most of us have in our kitchen,” she said. Basics such as garlic, thyme, ginger, honey, and lemon are among those approachable staples. 

“Many of the herbs we use daily have historically been used in medicine,” she said. 

Langelier added she believes that the value of Western medicine dovetails with herbal remedies and that she values the traditional medical system immensely. 

“I definitely do not want to discount the medical system,” she said. “These alternatives enhance the ability for people to take charge of their own health.” 

The recipes featured in Langelier’s book make preparing and consuming beneficial foods delicious and easy. 

“If people are missing an ingredient, I want them to feel empowered to get creative,” she said. “I wanted to say, ‘here is a recipe, but feel confident to not follow it exactly.’ So I wrote recipes that are really accessible.” 

A favorite recipe that encompasses medicinal benefits is a Ginger and Elderberry Hot Toddy.  This tasty concoction is enjoyed warm and includes ginger, elderberry, and reishi mushroom. Langelier explained that these ingredients combat inflammation, while boosting the immune system. Enjoying them in a hot toddy helps activate the ginger and cinnamon, which maximizes circulation. 

Langelier lights up when she talks about another popular Herbal Revolution product, Fire Cider. The spicy infusion contains garlic, onion, ginger, horseradish, honey, and hot peppers in an apple cider vinegar base. Langelier said that many drink a shot of it straight for health, but she also encourages using it in salad dressings, soups, and various savory recipes. 

“Every year, I add it to the salsa I make,” she said. The potent formula provides an umami flavoring when mixed into a recipe.

Langelier said her recipes are designed to be enjoyed anytime, not simply as a reaction to illness. 

“I want people to enjoy these recipes whenever they feel like it,” she said. “It’s preventative care; why get a cold or flu when you might be able to use it in your diet to avoid it all together?” 

Herbal Revolution: 65+ recipes for Tea, Elixirs, Tinctures, Syrups, Foods + Body Products that Heal can be found on the Herbal Revolution website, and on Amazon where a Kindle version is also available. Langelier also suggested checking with local, independent bookstores. 

Ginger and Elderberry Hot Toddy with Elderflower Brandy

Makes two cups of Elderflower Brandy and 3 (3?4-cup) servings of Elderberry Hot Toddy

Ingredients

¼ cup dried elderflowers
2 cups brandy

Ingredients for Elderberry Hot Toddy

1– 2 tbsp fresh grated ginger
Zest from one lemon (about 1-2 tbsp)
2 tbsp dried elderberries
1 tbsp cinnamon chips or one cinnamon stick
2 tsp dried Reishi powder
4 cups water
1 tbsp Lemon juice, divided
1 ½ tsp maple syrup or elderberry syrup, divided
1 ½ tsp – 3 tbsp Elderflower Brandy (optional), divided

Tools

Pint jar
Strainer
Microplane
3-quart cooking pot

Directions for Elderflower Brandy

Place the dried elderflowers in the jar; pour in the brandy to the very top of the jar.

Cover and let sit for four weeks. Strain into a labeled jar, and sip on its own or make into a hot toddy below.

Directions for Elderberry Hot Toddy

Use a microplane to grate the fresh ginger root and lemon zest and place in the pot. Add elderberries, cinnamon, reishi, and water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then, reduce the heat to low simmer for roughly 25 to 30 minutes. Reduce the mixture by about half.

Remove from the heat and strain. Divide the liquid into three serving cups. Add 1 tsp of lemon juice and ½ tsp maple syrup to each cup and stir. If adding Elderflower Brandy, add ½ tsp to 1 tbsp to each cup. 


Story by Jenna Lookner. Jenna lives on her family farm in Camden. Always curious, she enjoys exploring her natural, cultural and epicurean surroundings with her husband and three rescued mutts. 


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