Herbal medicine is a practice of healing that has been around for centuries, and a local entity is providing it as a means of healing on an affordable basis to Athens area residents each month.

Sovereignty Herbs, a local business that focuses on providing herbal medicinal services located at 7247 N. Coolville Ridge Road, hosts free clinics once a month for those in need of clinical herbal medicine. 

Erika Galentin, the co-creator of Sovereignty Herbs, is a herbalist who has been in clinical practice for more than a decade. Galentin said the clinics are offered on a “pay-what-you-can” basis.

If You Go:

What: Free herbal clinic

When: Wednesday by appointment

Where: Sovereignty Herbs, 7247 N. Coolville Ridge Road

Admission: Free, or on a pay-what-you-can basis

“I can provide a clinical and educational environment to people who maybe don’t have the money to afford to see an herbalist privately,” she said. “It’s just my way of giving back to Athens.”

The clinics are by appointment to assure that people seeking a consultation can get the most out of their visit. Appointments can be made through an application on the Sovereignty Herbs website. The February clinic will take place Wednesday.

Herbal medicine is a practice derived from herbalism, which is the study of botany and use of plants for medicinal purposes. It does not diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease, and herbs do not work in the way that taking a pill does. Instead, Galentin said, herbal medicine provides a natural correction to an imbalance in an individual’s body. 

“One of the benefits, or really the main benefit, of coming and seeing an herbalist is learning how to work with your body,” Galentin said. “To me, this is the way that I can give back to the community.”

Some people are firm believers in the healing that herbal medicine provides. 

“I’ve seen it work for me and for other people so many times,” Kevin Tidd, owner of The Farmacy, a natural foods store located at 28 W. Stimson Ave., said.

Tidd took an interest in herbal medicine when his sister helped him with a health problem using herbal medicine and natural foods.

“The single greatest thing is the lack of a litany of side effects of herbal medicine,” he said.

Tidd thinks some pharmaceutical medicines have long and extreme lists of side effects that make people, including him, hesitant to use them. He believes in a healthy balance between medicinal practices and everyday lifestyle. 

“Good stuff in, good stuff out,” Tidd said.

Tidd is familiar with Galentin and sells some of her products at the Farmacy. If Tidd believes a customer would greatly benefit from her services, he will recommend both the free clinics and her as an herbalist to that customer. 

“I get a good feeling from her,” Tidd said. “I feel like she’s legit.”

Sarah Campbell, a junior studying journalism, will enjoy herbal tea or tea and honey while sick, but is not heavily involved in herbal medicine. Despite not using it much, she believes that it can work.

“I think it’s really a cool concept,” Campbell said, “I think it does work to some extent.”