Philip Fritchey was my husband. He was the love of my life and meant the world to me, and I find comfort in hearing how Phil inspired others. This week one of my husband’s students Martha Bowers reached out to me and asked if she could write her story about her experiences while attending classes with Dr. Phil and using his book Practical Herbalism.
I hope you enjoy this week’s blog as much as I have.
The Man, The Myth, The Legend… Dr. Philip Fritchey, I met Dr. Fritchey on June 6, 2008, while taking his Disaster Preparedness class in Los Angeles, CA. I took 26 different courses, and Dr. Fritchey taught 6 of them, including Nature’s 911, Body Systems, and Practical Herbology 1 & 2. At this point in my life, I was on my own personal wellness journey.
Dr. Fritchey was a master herbalist, naturopathic doctor, author, teacher, and mentor to many students across the country. He impacted thousands of lives doing the work he loved, and I was one of them. Dr. Fritchey was passionate about empowering as many people as possible with the understanding of the healing power of nature that is available to anyone. I remember him saying that we trip over more plant medicine on the way to our car to drive to the pharmacy to buy drugs. What impressed me the most is how much science is actually available on plant medicine.
Dr. Fritchey wanted you to understand and experience the plants for yourself and not just read about them. More importantly, he wanted students to be “hands-on” with the herbs in our classes. Just to illustrate this point, one of the students hiked on a random trail in Southern California and brought back to the classroom the random cuttings from plants on the trail. It was amazing to watch Dr. Phil pick up each of these plants and explain how they supported healing in the body. He continued with how you would use the plant, and what part of the plant you would want to use. Whether it was the root, bark, leaves, fruit, seeds, or blossom. It was an excellent way to help students demystify plant anatomy while helping them understand what is available to them right in their own backyard! He made this weekend immersion in plant medicine easy, fun, and friendly even for newbies.
In our class, Dr. Fritchey would explain why his book Practical Herbalism differed from other herbal books, not necessarily that the content was better, but rather how he designed the book. Dr. Fritchey was a fascinating, multi-dimensional individual who was also a fantastic chef! What he did with plants to make medicine mirrored what he did with food in the kitchen, so much so that his book is much like a cookbook. The book is designed so that you take it on a hike so that you can correctly identify plants. this book is brilliantly written and laid out in such a way that even novelist herbalist can confidently make their own medicine.
Dr. Fritchey walked us through the process of making a herbal tincture. His objective was to educate and pass on the generational learning that he knew the rest of the world would need for self-preservation. We made a tincture of Capsicum as he shared stories of how this tincture could save a life. (you will find this on page 112 of his book).
Other essential highlights you will find in Practical Herbalism:
- Making a tincture on page 49,
- Harvesting – Timing Is Everything is on page 101,
- Why Plantain is a first-rate “First Aid” plant on page 244,
- How to make your mouthwash for gingivitis on page 150.
And Then There Are Weeds…
We have all tried to kill dandelions in our yard, right? Well known, the dandelion is, for most, a weed and needs no description. Dandelions are so persistent that it is difficult to eradicate them. I used to ask why it would continue to grow back… well after reading Dr. Phil’s book, many of the benefits are in the roots, and now I ask the question, “Do I need dandelions as a supplement?”
In Dr. Phil’s words, “Dandelion is commonly thought to be one of the “bitter herbs” recommended in the Bible. Its young leaves have been gathered and eaten as an addition to salads for centuries. It has been used to aid digestion, relieves liver distress, and treat all manner of ills, from dropsy, jaundice, and kidney stones to warts and psoriasis.
Do you know of someone who suffers from any of the ailments? Could dandelion help them?
Then There Is Poison Ivy
Dr. Fritchey also taught about Poison Ivy; he marvels at God’s wonder and how God often provides nature’s erasers in the same area. How extraordinary is it that a natural remedy is usually growing nearby? If you are out camping and somehow you get into poison ivy, just remember its natural remedy is nearby. Do you know how to find it? … check out more on page 101 of Practical Herbalism.
The Beginning of Sunshine Botanicals
There was never a class where Dr. Fritchey did not mention his bride. He always referred to her as Ms. Emily. He so fondly spoke about the great work that she was doing with skincare. Dr. Fritchey and Ms. Emily created the first two products, Lipid Booster and Rapid Repair Fluid. These products are both full of amazing healings herbs. He made these especially for Miss Emily to use with her skincare clients with aging and problem skin conditions. As an esthetician, she was improving the skin of her clients, which began their journey in providing a natural alternatives skincare for us all. Unfortunately, it took the passing of Dr. Fritchey for my paths to cross with Ms. Emily (but that is another story).
A Gift from the Garden
On one of my visits with Ms. Emily at the farmhouse, I arrived just in time to harvest comfrey. Comfrey is a multitasker in the herb world as it supports dry, itchy, inflamed, and irritated skin. It is easy to grow and bears beautiful, bell-like purple blossoms in the spring and summer. Comfrey has myriad uses. It’s considered the best-known wound healer and skin remedy on the plant. You can comfrey find in Rapid Repair Balm and The Elixir- they are magical! Think of comfrey as the skin-comforter; it is a powerful skin cell regenerator and reduces redness through its gentle strength. Comfrey is an ally to those who deal with any skin discomfort.
Dr. Fritchey inspired me so much that I now have my own garden. I have so many plants, including the treasured comfrey plant I was gifted for my own garden. I also have aloe vera, jasmine, and rose geranium. I also planted milkweed and a butterfly bush to ensure the butterflies and other pollinators – birds, bees, and other animals – that we depend on to move pollen from flower to flower and fertilize plants to ensure successful seed and fruit production.
I hope that I have inspired you to look in nature as you navigate your own health. As I will never forget Dr. Phil; he is forever in my mind. I never walk by a plant (many of you might consider it a weed) without thinking… I wonder what that plant does to support restoration to the body. From Dr. Phil’s perspective, he taught us the plant is there for a purpose. Is not there by accident. In closing, I will leave you with his words…
“The absence of Faith is fear, and it is fear that now keeps most people, many herbalists included, from confidently gathering and using medicinal herbs from the field. Contrary to popular “wisdom,” though, it is not our knowledge of science that makes us wary of the plants around us, it is our ignorance of nature. We can forgive our uncertainty more readily, too, if we understand that our ignorance has been born of generations of apathy, and has been constantly reinforced by the commercial interests who profit by our dependence.
Learn how to identify, gather, and preserve common medicinal plants, and you have taken a significant step towards the restoration of faith and independence. Use your herbs to prepare simple, effective, time-tested botanical remedies; watch the results, and you have learned how to help restore health and vitality, gently and safely, for yourself and your loved ones. Build on those insights by reading, attending classes, and gathering in fellowship with other herbalists, and you have set yourself free from fear, dependence, and manipulation. Pass on that knowledge, and you have helped secure genuine freedom in health choices for future generations. Nature’s healing plants are there and waiting, all around us. They always have been. With interest, care, and respect, they always will be.”