The Muse Series: With Emma Marigold of Lady Apothecary
Introducing the Muse Series – a bi-weekly post that celebrates the incredible women in the small business and wellness space who inspire me.
I’m delighted to launch the series with the founder of a brand that’s a daily staple for me – Emma Marigold from LADY apothecary. Her beautiful, comforting powder blends are a staple in my morning self-care rituals (if you try any – make it HARMONIA). Just like our namesake – Feronia – Emma has a wealth of knowledge to share around health and healing, as well as a nourishing recipe for Tomato & White Bean Stew!
Tell us a little more about LADY apothecary. How did the brand come about?
I started LADY apothecary as a project to share all that I knew about health and how plant medicine can support us. I felt really compelled to share this because it seemed like hardly anyone around me knew the powers of herbs and everyone was sick. I knew that my destiny here on earth was to break taboos – to talk about the unspoken, as a vedic astrologer once told me.
I originally used my Instagram account as a tool whilst studying at university, sharing what I was up to – back then I believe it was known as ‘Emma and Plants’, I didn’t intend for it to turn into a business. LADY apothecary was truly born in September 2020 while living in Sicily. I had graduated from university that summer and was planning my second big trip to India, where I wanted to deepen my practice with Ayurveda and meet farmers to source herbs. Because of the pandemic, India was no longer feasible, so I tuned in and asked my spirit guides where to go and I saw lots of white, blue, ceramics and temples. I thought Greece was the projected place because of its link to traditional Western herbal medicine (which I studied), but I had a sense of going to Italy, which I had never been before. I chose Sicilia because it was the most Southern point and it just felt easy to get there. When something is easy with minimal obstacles, it's usually the right path. It wasn't until I started exploring the land that I realised Sicily used to be part of Greece – there were ancient temples everywhere and I suddenly felt very at home. Exploring the land I became so inspired and knew I needed to start a business, teaching people how to get well and it had to have Ancient Greek influence.
I started LADY apothecary in January 2021. I began taking clients working one to one – which I still do today – and over time I found my flow and began specialising in Female Reproductive Health, Fertility and Hormone balance. I expanded from just taking clients to opening a small batch apothecary shop, and now working on an online platform to teach courses and workshops.
LADY apothecary seeks inspiration from ancient cultures such as Ancient Greece and Ayurveda. How do these cultures and communities lead the way in terms of wellness and what do you think it is about their practices that hold such longevity?
These ancient cultures lead the way in wellness because they’re about getting the body back into balance and finding the root cause of disease. Something I believe we’re heading back to. None of this ‘putting a plaster’ on symptoms so you feel better temporarily and then they come back. I think people are getting sick and tired of taking medications that do not ‘fix’ the problem, or they ‘fix’ the problem but then have to rely on these medications for the rest of their lives. The ancients knew this – and probably experienced this over the thousands of years they were developing medicine. Traditional Western herbal medicine that was developed in ancient Greece, known as humoural theory, is very similar to Ayurveda and I have studied both. In both these medical systems there is a very strong sense of prescribing herbs for the person, not the disease or symptoms.
Hippocrates said ‘I would rather know what sort of person has a disease, than what sort of disease a person has’. This refers to the elemental side of things and treating people as individuals and how we are all made up of a combination of the elements, like everything is. If someone has more fire in their system (Pitta in Ayurveda), then they will have tendencies to certain symptoms, such as acne, acid reflux, heavier periods, migraines etc so we treat the fire to rid all these symptoms, not just treating the migraine. I think this is why the practices hold such longevity, because they treat the person, not the disease.
Just to be clear, I’m not against modern medicine – it has its place, especially emergency medicine – but with regards to chronic illness, I do feel a holistic approach is more beneficial.
Here is an example of the difference between modern and ancient medicine…
Patient: ‘I have a headache’ Practitioner: ‘Take this medication’
Patient: ‘I have a headache.’
Practitioner: ‘Is it in the temples or back of head?’
Practitioner: ‘When did it start?’
Practitioner: ‘What was different about yesterday, did you drink enough water? Have coffee? Have chilli? Work out a lot?
Patient: ‘I had more coffee than usual’ and a spicy curry for dinner and have started HIIT training again this week.’
Practitioner: ‘Any reflux?’
Practitioner: ‘So it appears you might have some fire type tendencies – do you ever get rashes or suffer from acne?’
Patient: ‘ Yes, I do. I have acne on my back and had eczema as a child.’
Practitioner: ‘So I will prescribe some ‘fire’, ‘pitta reducing’ herbs which will aim to clear all your symptoms – be careful not to overdo too many heating activities.’
What are your self-care rituals?
Going at my own rhythm, honouring my body and taking slow days when I need to. I’ve always been terrible at working for someone else – I always used to call in sick and was very unreliable – but I realised that it was because I like to work in my own rhythm. Now I work for myself, I work harder than ever and am extremely reliable, I show up for myself and my clients. One week I may work 50 hours, the next 10. I work with my cycles and tend to work more when I’m about to ovulate in the ‘spring/summer’ phase of the cycle, and slow down in the build up to my period, the ‘autumn’ phase. That’s something that I teach my clients and that I’m currently writing as part of an online course.
I also have ritual baths. I could spend hours in the bath. I think I must have been a Greek goddess in a past life. If I could bathe myself in olive oil and honey and nibble on grapes all day, I would be a very happy woman. I have candles everywhere, I bathe in sea salt, epsom salts, flowers, loads of herbs – to be honest, often blocking the drain haha – and sing a lot to my body in the bath, offering healing and rest.
I practise Abhyanga, covering myself in oil before I get into the bath as well. This helps the oil penetrate the skin deeply – it’s very hydrating.
How does food come into your self-care space? Can you share your favourite nourishing recipe?
Making slow nourishing meals is definitely a part of my self-care space. It’s a beautiful mindfulness practice and digestion starts with cooking. We start to prepare the gut by just thinking about food, releasing the digestive enzymes and acids before we have even taken our first bite. The aromas dance up the nostrils making us salivate, releasing amylase (enzyme) in our mouth. This allows us to break down our food better, so we take in more nutrients. Most of us are quite busy and don’t make time to cook every night, but if we can at least 3 times a week and make big batches then I believe this can make a huge difference to our gut health.
My favourite nourishing recipe? Oo that’s hard, there's so many! I have lots on my journal on my website. At the moment I’ve been making a Tomato & White Bean Stew – it’s so delicious and healing as I infuse it with lots of herbs. Sometimes I eat it on a bed of couscous.
If you could share one herbal health tip, what would that be?
My herbal health tip would be to make a herbal tea infusion for at least 15 minutes, or overnight if you can! It's meant to be an infusion. So many people make herbal teas with a tea bag and dip it in for less than a minute and then see very little medicinal effects from the herbs. Herbs need time to infuse to release their medicinal content. I make a flask of herbal tea at night, let it infuse all night whilst I’m asleep and drink all throughout the next day.
Personally and professionally speaking, what woman in history has taught you the most?
Malala Yousafzai on speaking out on women’s rights to education. I was really inspired by her story. I named my business ‘LADY apothecary’ to represent women at work. Apothecaries in the UK were the gateway for women into medical education.
In the 17th Century Apothecary’s (original chemists) were typically run by wives or women of the family.
Physicians gave medical advice, however, they did not make the medicine, so they typically sent their patients to local independent apothecaries who also provided some medical advice in healing and remedies. Women were not allowed to be educated in universities at this time, so this allowed them a chance to be trained in medical knowledge and healing, learning the art of medicine second-hand. There is a painting from the 19th century called ‘The Lady apothecary’ of women working and making medicine. It just felt like the perfect name.
Is there anything you're reading, watching or listening to that you're finding particularly inspiring or helpful right now?
I am part of the ‘to be magnetic’ community, which has been tremendous in my emotional healing journey. It’s a great platform with a lot of support. The podcasts are amazing too and really expanding.
I recently read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert which reawakened the creativity in me when I was going through some stagnant times. I also just reread Sidhartha by Herman Hesse – my favourite book of all time. I’ve read that over and over again.
I cried all the way through My Octopus Teacher on Netflix. It's so beautiful to watch their connection grow and to have that connection with another living being is so special, especially when it isn’t human. It’s a reminder of connection and patience.