Herbalism, PTSD & Traumatic Stress Course

In a world full of injustice and oppression that can be deeply traumatising, we need plant medicines more than ever. In this self-paced online course, you will be supported to build relationships with plants to help take care of your nervous system, your health and your loved ones for the long-haul.

This course will help you gain an understanding of how trauma shapes the body, and how we can reclaim and reshape it. You will also develop an in-depth knowledge of plants and nervous system physiology, grounded in an anti-oppressive analysis. This course will not only help you learn the theory, but most importantly it will aid you in embodying the practice. The course is structured and has resources to enable you to gain the practical herbalism skills you need to transform your life and find some respite from the relentless rollercoaster of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and traumatic stress.

Open for enrollment at the end of February

The course is open for enrollment from the end of February to early March 2023.

Sliding-scale

Sliding-scale pricing. No one turned away for lack of funds.

Self-paced learning

Complete at your own pace for as long as you need. Lifetime access.

Plants take care of us when our bodies express the distress we feel

PTSD can be unrelenting and unforgiving. Unlike common trauma narratives, what we are going through isn’t always in the past. It’s not always historic experiences remaining unprocessed in our bodies. Traumatic stress can be ongoing and be very much in the present. And unfortunately, it is often a big exhausting mix of both - past and present. 

Whatever we’ve gone through, or are going through, our bodies express distress in different ways: anxiety, panic attacks, nightmares, flashbacks, insomnia, bouts of anger and rage, digestive issues, headaches, regular coughs/colds/infections, chronic inflammation, muscle pain and more. Plant medicines can support us to manage and recover from many of these symptoms to help us find steady ground in what can feel like a world of chaos.

Plants take care of us when we struggle to trust humans

For people who've had their trust in humans shattered, the more-than-human world offers relationships of love, connection and stability that can help people survive what they should have never had to endure. Plants can teach us new ways of being in our bodies and help us move into a more "parasympathetic" nervous system state aka ‘rest and digest’. 

Feeling different is bigger than ingesting a herb through a tincture or a tea. It is the act of herbalism itself - being outside, growing plants, foraging, medicine making - that heals us. This course introduces these practical skills so that you can form a rich relationship with the world around you and feel supported. With plants, you are never alone.

Plants take care of us over the long-haul as we survive what is f**ked up in the world, and transform it together

The world isn’t likely to become less traumatising any time soon. Equipping ourselves with the skills to take care of ourselves and each other is essential. Herbalism is a life-long journey. Plant medicines can transform your life by enabling a deeper relationship with the land, improving sleep and digestion, preventing disease, reducing inflammation and aiding the nervous system to rest and recover while surviving and resisting this oppressive world. 

This course teaches you the principles and frameworks on which herbs to choose, and why, for your unique constitution, health history and needs. It encourages experimentation - for you to work with different plants and see which work for you better than others. Our goal is for you to be able to build a medicine cabinet of allies that can support you negotiating and navigating a lifetime of experiences.

What's Inside the Herbalism, PTSD & Traumatic Stress Course

Module 1: What is trauma?

This model explores the question ‘What is trauma?’. We look at the reductionist ways trauma is commonly framed - that it’s a result of faulty brain chemistry, that we are sick, insane or ‘mad’. We explore trauma as forces of the world around us that shape us - from racism to ecological destruction. We dive into common trauma dynamics such as lack of safety and support, powerlessness and ‘dysregulation’.

 

Lessons include:

  • What is trauma?
  • How trauma is framed in the global North
  • Exploring liberating ways of framing trauma
  • Common trauma dynamics

Module 2: Herbal foundations

In this module, we look at important herbal safety information, ways to work with plants (medicine making, foraging, journaling and more), and the many incredible medicinal actions that plants have. We introduce a framework for looking at constitutions, tissue states and energetics. We also look at the role of plants in the essential foundations for health - sleep, movement, digestion and nutrition.

 

Lessons include: 

  • Starting or deepening your journey with plants 
  • Herbal Safety 
  • Understanding herbal actions 
  • Constitutions, tissue states and energetics 
  • Essential foundations for health

Module 3: How trauma shapes the body

There are 8 billion people on this planet and 8 billion ways people experience and process trauma because we are all unique. Our bodies express distress in multiple ways, which are different for all of us. This module explores common trauma symptoms and how trauma can impact our bodies - from triggers and flashbacks to autoimmune conditions and chronic inflammation.

 

Lessons include: 

  • How trauma shapes the body 
  • How the body expresses distress 
  • Trauma, chronic illness and inflammation

Module 4: How we can shape it back

In this module, we take a deep dive into understanding nervous system physiology. We look at different frameworks for describing states of being, such as polyvagal theory (a framework on how the autonomic nervous system has evolved to keep us safe and alive). We introduce the roles of plant medicines in shifting how we feel and explore some of the goals we can aspire to in healing and feeling differently.

 

Lessons include: 

  • Nervous System Deep Dive
  • Polyvagal Theory 
  • Healing goals

Module 5: Collective responses to traumatic stress

This module introduces a framework exploring radical responses to traumatic stress. We look at the many individual and collective practices that can aid trauma recovery. Plant medicines are one tool in the toolbox - in this module we look at their role in each of these necessary stages to help explore the diverse role of plant medicines in trauma recovery.

 

Lessons include: 

  • Deconstructing ‘trauma recovery’ and introducing the radical trauma response framework
  • Release 
  • Rest and renew 
  • Reconnect
  • Resistance

Module 6: Nervines Deep Dive

We begin our series of lessons taking a deep dive into nervines - plant medicines that have an affinity with the nervous system. We introduce herbs which enable our body to feel calmer and grounded, prepare us for sleep and allow us to move into a more parasympathetic (rest and digest) state. We also look at nervine tonics - herbs which act to tonify, strengthen, and restore the proper structure and function of the nervous system. They are a key tool in enduring and recovering from traumatic stress.

 

Lessons include: 

  • Introducing parasympathomimetic herbs
  • Relaxant nervines deep dive
  • Nervine tonics deep dive

Module 7: Nervines Deep Dive, Part Two

In this module we explore some of the more ‘hypnotic’ and sedative nervines that can help to induce a stronger relaxant effect and a deep and healing state of sleep. We also take a deep dive into cardiac nervines that have an affinity with the heart and cardiovascular system. Finally, we cautiously explore ​​stimulating nervines that can be indicated in some cases which have a direct stimulatory effect on the nervous system.

 

Lessons include: 

  • Hypnotic nervines 
  • Cardiac nervines 
  • Stimulating nervines

Module 8: Practically working with Plant Medicines

This module introduces many of the incredible ways we can make medicine with plants with how-to guides on tincture, glycerite and infused oil making. You will learn how to harvest herbs and make potent medicine for yourself safely, effectively and sustainably. This module will also explore case studies of how plant medicines have supported people with PTSD and traumatic stress in their lives, so that you can have a clearer idea of effective ways to support yourself with plant medicines over time. You will make an implementation plan for yourself and identify clear next steps to put the program into practice.

 

Lessons include: 

  • Working with plant medicines in practice
  • Introduction to medicine making 
  • Case studies 
  • Your implementation plan

Begin your journey with plant medicines

Be the first to know when the course is launched. The enrollment window opens this February! People who join the course waiting list in advance will receive a course discount.

Self-Guided, Zero-Stress Learning

Zero Time Stress

Complete at your own pace for as long as you need. Lifetime access.

Zero Achievement Pressure

No assignments, quizzes 'grading', or essays. Study for pleasure.

Zero Disclosure Pressure

No triggering group calls with strangers discussing deeply sensitive life experiences.

No Exhausting Information Overwhelm

No forums, messages or overwhelming information to keep up with. Study when you have the headspace, energy and desire. 

Freedom for your Learning Style

Beautiful, highly visual presentations. The ability to download lessons as audio files for when you're on the move. Practical exercises, journal prompts and action steps. Resource lists for each module so you can check the references & deep dive into source material as much as you wish. 

Flexible access to content

Freedom to 'chop and change' between lessons. Study in the order you want following your interests and passions.

How much does the course cost?

Solidarity Price

£0 . 00

Pay what you can - including nothing if needed
  • Refugees, asylum seekers & people without papers
  • Former prisoners & detainees
  • Low-income prisoner & detainee family members
  • Low-income organisers experiencing state repression
  • Anyone in financial distress unable to meet their basic needs

Standard Price

£195 . 00

or £65 x 3 months or
£39 x 5 months
  • For people in employment or with a steady income
  • For people able to meet their basic needs and afford extras (holidays, takeaways etc.)
  • For people with some savings and safety net

Resourced Price

£345 . 00

or £115 x 3 months
or £69 x 5 months
  • For people with access to unearned generational wealth e.g. trust funds, family allowances, living off inheritance
  • For people who own a house or own more than one property/are a landlord
  • For people with larger than average savings/pensions/investments beyond your daily cost of living
  • Being a middle to high earner in terms of work/waged labour

Why a sliding-scale?

My sliding scale involves three different packages aimed at people with different levels of financial resources, as well as people affected by different forms of systemic oppression. You can read through the packages above in more detail. In short, people on low-incomes pay less and financially-resourced people pay more. It’s an (imperfect) way to create a more economically liberating model while we work to create different economic systems.

Class is complex. It is inseparable from other forms of oppression (racism, sexism, transphobia, ableism, etc). People do not fit into neat categories or into neat sliding scales. Capitalist society generates and perpetuates a feeling of scarcity, for many this is acutely real (e.g. poverty), for others it is an emotional feeling of instability and fear which is also very real. Studies have shown that even millionaires feel that they do not have ‘enough’. Therefore, a sliding scale is a bit more complicated because of our different relationships with money - hence why it is important to integrate an analysis of systemic oppression and class rather than an emotional feeling of what you can afford.

When you enrol in the course there will be different payment options at checkout, including the ability to spread payments across three or five months. There will also be an option to check-out just offering a donation of what you can afford (including nothing). Please note as part of my anti-capitalist principles, no one is turned away for lack of funds. 

Thank you for caring about liberation.

About Nicole & the Solidarity Apothecary

I’m a clinical herbalist and anarchist organiser based in the Westcountry of England (in Somerset, south of Bristol). My lineages are English, Welsh and Irish. I have been studying herbal medicine informally for over 15 years. I completed a four-year clinical training with The Plant Medicine School in Ireland to develop my skills as a practitioner.

As a herbalist, I focus on supporting people experiencing state violence, most of whom live with debilitating PTSD or are surviving ongoing traumatic stress. For better or worse, prison has shaped my adult life. I’ve been supporting partners, friends and comrades in prison for the last eighteen years. I did a three and a half year sentence myself after a huge wave of state repression against a campaign to close down Europe’s largest animal testing company. Plants sustained me through my sentence and many years later I wrote the Prisoner’s Herbal book which is now distributed to prisoners worldwide. I'm also the author of the book Overcoming Burnout that links recovery from burnout with wider systemic forces such as classism, sexism, poverty, chronic illness, ableism and power dynamics in groups. It focuses on models of collective care and mutual aid.

Why do I do this work?

In 2016 I got sick, really sick. My life became a blur of NHS appointments, fear and confusion. Accessing the work of other healthcare practitioners, such as herbalists, was a constant financial struggle that delayed my recovery. When I did see them, it often felt so alienating as a working class person who had been brought up by a single mum. It felt like people couldn’t comprehend the things I’d been through including state repression, abuse and sexual violence, poverty and incarceration. It felt like we were on different planets. It took me a long time to learn and gain an understanding of how traumatic stress truly shapes our bodies and how to navigate my complex PTSD diagnosis. 

As I developed my practice, I kept wishing I had an online resource that I could refer people to that could help them understand the distress they were experiencing and how it is possible to feel differently.  I believe people deserve to access the knowledge themselves about their bodies, about plant medicines, about how to make medicine - so I created this course.  Plants have kept me alive. I know they can support you too.

What this Course is and isn't

As someone who has lived with PTSD, I’ve had those moments of absolute despair where I’m prepared to spend everything I have in order to feel some kind of relief. Where I’ve gone into debt investing in online programs, ‘rapid therapies’ or whatever is on offer because I’m literally so f**king desperate to feel different. It would break my heart to know that people paid for this program under any kind of false premises so I wanted to make it explicit what the course can and cannot offer. It’s the worst of capitalist marketing tactics when online courses and coaches promise the world for only $$$. I'm not prepared to exploit, deceive or manipulate anyone!

This program is not ‘the single solution’. You’re not going to work through videos and suddenly be free from PTSD. As we explore in the course, our bodies are unique, we experience distress in different ways and it can often take a whole ecosystem of support to feel differently - for example, therapy, dietary changes, herbal support, embodied practices, friendships, political organising etc. This course is not a replacement for therapy or any other trauma recovery modality and approach. Likewise, this course does not offer you a qualification that enables you to work as a herbalist or trauma professional - but it will certainly compliment any course of study that you are undertaking. 

I share this knowledge within my scope of practice - a clinical herbalist. I’m not a therapist. I have not had the financial resources to complete lengthy qualifications in trauma recovery, but I have undertaken thousands of hours of self-education in trying to understand how trauma shapes the body. Through the course, I give detailed references and links to resources from trauma professionals with many letters after their names. 

My knowledge is learnt and embodied through life experience ‘in the trenches’. In prison, I worked as a listener with the Samaritans. This involved spending sometimes thirty or more hours a week listening to suicidal and deeply distressed women disclose horrific stories. I’ve supported people in prison for nearly twenty years pushed to the limits of what humans can endure. I’ve worked with thousands of refugees in a mobile herbal clinic and supported many people fleeing the invasion of Ukraine with herbal medicine. I’ve supported people experiencing repression, and gifted medicine to their families destroyed by grief. I’ve worked with people trying to heal from prison, addiction and childhood trauma with herbal medicines to reclaim their sleep, find out what rest really means and slowly learn to inhabit what feels like a new body. I’ve seen plants work their magic over and over and over again, and it’s with this confidence that I feel able to offer this course. 

So, what does this course offer? This course is an opportunity to increase, and deepen, your knowledge of plant medicines. It is an opportunity to transform the way you look at trauma. I believe plants can and do radically change people’s lives and can more often than not bring them into a world of pleasure and purpose, connection and healing. I know that herbs have direct effects on people’s bodies and have been used on every continent for thousands of years. In the words of  Indigenous writer and scientist Robin Wall Kimmerer, “In some Native languages the term for plants translates to ‘those who take care of us.’” Plants take care of each other and their ecosystems, including taking care of us. They take care of us in prison courtyards and refugee camps, when fleeing war zones or working toward a world free of domination, exploitation, and oppression. Plants take care of us until all are free. I hope they can take care of you too.

Commonly Asked Questions

How much does the course cost?The course is offered on a sliding scale. There are more details about this in the ‘How much does the course cost?’ section towards the end of the page (after About Nicole and the Solidarity Apothecary).

Can I get a refund if I'm unhappy?I strongly encourage you to read through this course page in its entirety and make an informed decision about if the course is right for you at this moment in time. As an undercapitalised femme with limited financial resources, requests for refunds have a big impact. However, if you are unsatisfied with your purchase, contact me within the first fourteen days and I will give you a full refund.

How long will I have access to this course?Indefinitely! You will have lifetime access.

When does the course start and finish?The course is open for enrollment at different times of the year. This is because I want to ensure I am present and available for questions and admin when people are signing up and getting started. Other months it could be that I’m working with the mobile clinic in Calais or engaged in other frontline herbalism work. I cannot say with certainty when the course will reopen after the initial enrollment window in February.

I don't have PTSD, can I still do this course?Yes! All of the herbs introduced in this course are helpful with the inevitable stresses of life. One of the goals of the course is to support you to build a medicine cabinet of allies that can aid you in navigating a lifetime of experiences. There is also a huge amount of learning embedded in the course that is useful to anyone interested in herbal medicine e.g. medicine making, herbal safety, constitutions, energetics and tissue states and more.

I'm just starting to learn about herbalism, is this course for me?Yes! Everything is built up in layers; introducing and re-visiting concepts and ideas over time. A comprehensive glossary is shared to counter the risk of any assumed knowledge. I’ve tried to create it in a ‘plain speak’ way as possible. For people at the start of their herbalism learning journey, I think the course will accelerate you in a great direction. It brings together everything I’ve gathered in 15+ years of education and experimentation. I wish I had this resource when I was starting out!

I'm an experienced herbalist, is this course for me?Yes! From my experience, many herbalists still speak about trauma in a limited framework, if they even talk about it at all. I feel it's essential that all experienced or practising herbalists deepen their understanding of trauma because it so dramatically affects people’s lives and their health. I think exploring more liberating ways of understanding trauma can benefit everybody. In terms of herbalism, some aspects will be familiar, but it’s unlikely that this knowledge has been brought together in such a focused way around trauma and the nervous system. The nervine deep dive is really that - it’s an exploration in depth about plants and their impacts on the nervous system. I share a lot of insight into these actions in practice and the complexities of where they are strongly indicated and when they may not be appropriate or preferred.

What support is available?I am available to answer questions over email. The logistics of this will be introduced in the welcome lessons of the course.

Can’t I just find this information in a book?You can definitely try it! I’ve spent 15+ years scavenging every possible resource on this subject to try and fit the pieces of the puzzle together. There are many fantastic books on herbalism, likewise, there are many interesting and well-researched books about trauma, PTSD and traumatic stress. I don’t believe there are many or any that bring them together while also having a structural anti-oppression analysis. This is sadly the main thing left out of books on trauma which still centre experiences on the individual and their physiology, rather than the traumatising forces in the world that shape our daily lives.