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Local Herbalist Gives First Aid a Plant-Based Twist

A 90-minute class will teach you how to use nature to your advantage during non-life-threatening emergencies in the wilderness.

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Most adventure-loving Coloradans understand that exploring the wilderness comes with a side of risk. Packing the right gear and bringing along a stocked first aid kit is second nature when we’re heading to remote locations. But most of us aren’t aware that the forests and fields we’re trekking through can actually help us in emergencies.

That’s the concept behind Adventure Herbal First Aid ($30), a class on outdoor remedies taught by Denver herbalist Bridget Molloy. Taking place Wednesday at herb and aromatherapy shop MoonDance Botanicals, the 90-minute course is based off situations Molloy has experienced or heard about during her international travels, and she addresses how plants can be useful in those scenarios. For instance, during a backpacking trip to Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia, Molloy caught a severe case of diarrhea. At the time, she was on a remote island in Bolivia’s Lake Titicaca and hadn’t brought her normal stash of supplies with her. Since then, she’s begun carrying a tincture made of blackberry root, which helps to prevent the unpleasant condition. “The whole point of having that symbiotic relationship with our planet and our human health is a huge point of where I land my business,” Molloy says. “The planet can actually help heal us, and we can in turn heal the planet.”

A Littleton native, Molloy isn’t your typical herbalist. She studied molecular biology as well as ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado Boulder and has managed labs at both Harvard and MIT. “I love the very detailed components of what different compounds are doing in the body and what clinical research studies have been done,” Molloy says. “But I complement that with more of an intuitive healing process that has been happening for thousands of years.” After taking a botanical medicine course in Italy, she became fascinated by how plants could complement traditional medicine. Now, she travels the world studying herbs, offering health consultations, and teaching courses on topics ranging from the science behind herbs to the stress reduction properties of plants to Wednesday’s adventure-themed first aid course.

This session will cover identification of useful plants, what symptoms they’re best for, and how to turn them into tinctures and salves. Molloy will also sell herbal first aid kits with items like meadowsweet, a bushy plant with cream-colored flowers that relieves pain without causing stomach bleeding (like aspirin sometimes can). In May, June, July, and September, she’ll offer two-hour plant-gathering hikes to provide more of a hands-on experience to complement the class.

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