Benefits of Rosemary with Christophe Bernard


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I am so excited to bring you this conversation about the benefits of rosemary, the queen of antioxidants, with brilliant herbalist and teacher, Christophe Bernard. In this episode, Christophe is sharing a wonderful way that you can enjoy the wonderful, aromatic taste of rosemary (Salvia rosmarinus) with roasted or barbecued food, while at the same time helping to buffer the oxidative stress which results when we eat that yummy browned food.

You’ll come away charmed by the story of Christophe’s journey to herbalism, his enthusiasm, and his willingness to keep learning. You'll also discover the many gifts of rosemary and receive Christophe’s recipe for Rosemary Deglazing and BBQ Spray, along with several tips and variations for making it.

Listen in for:

► How embracing humility and imperfection and remaining open to new information can produce big results 

► Tips for working with rosemary, including tasty flavor combinations for a tea that’s brimming with protective antioxidants

► A classic beginner’s mistake that you can avoid 


-- TIMESTAMPS -- 

  • 01:22 - Introduction to Christophe Bernard
  • 02:38 - Christophe’s journey from engineer in corporate America to herbalist
  • 09:07 - How embracing imperfection and small beginnings can produce big results
  • 10:28 - The importance of preserving and sharing herbal knowledge
  • 11:48 - Do herbal teas have any advantages over herbal tinctures and powdered herbs?
  • 14:53 - The health benefits of rosemary (Salvia rosmarinus)
  • 18:33 - Why it’s important to work with fresh or freshly dried rosemary that’s strongly aromatic
  • 20:34 - How to make rosemary tea
  • 22:39 - Christophe explains the protective role rosemary can play in buffering oxidative stress
  • 28:36 - Christophe’s recipe for Rosemary Deglazing and BBQ Spray
  • 29:30 - Cultivating a new generation of clinical herbalists in the French-speaking world
  • 35:05 - Why it’s important to stay open to new knowledge and unexpected results as an herbalist

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Transcript of the Benefits of Rosemary with Christophe Bernard Video

Rosalee de la Forêt:

Hello, and welcome to the Herbs with Rosalee Podcast, a show exploring how herbs heal as medicine, as food, and through nature connection. I'm your host Rosalee de la Forêt. I created this channel to share trusted herbal wisdom so that you can get the best results when relying on herbs for your health. I love offering up practical knowledge to help you dive deeper into the world of medicinal plants and seasonal living.

Each episode of the Herbs with Rosalee Podcast is shared on YouTube as well as your favorite podcast app. And to get my best herbal tips, as well as fun bonuses, be sure to sign up for my weekly herbal newsletter at the bottom of this page. Okay! Grab your cup of tea and let's dive in.

I am so excited to bring you this conversation with Christophe Bernard, who is not only a brilliant herbalist with a huge following in France through his school and his YouTube channel, but also is a good friend of mine. I met Christophe about 10 years ago in France and I was instantly taken with his views on plants and herbalism and we've been friends ever since. Christophe is a French herbalist.

He currently lives in Southern France, Provence, where he spends his time picking, growing and recommending herbs as a health practitioner. He has written three books and teaches at one of the oldest herbal schools in France. He also offers a set of online classes on how to make and use herbal preparations. His blog, Althea Provence, has become a reference for plant lovers around the French-speaking world. Well, welcome, Christophe. Thank you so much for being here.

Christophe Bernard:

Thank you. Hello, Rosalee.

Rosalee de la Forêt:

Well, it's such a pleasure to have you here. And as I mentioned earlier, we are friends. And so I know a bit about your history and I know that you did not start your professional adult life in the garden. So I'd love to hear about your journey and what that was like for you.

Christophe Bernard:

Well, it's a long story, but I'm going to tell it as it happened. We're talking early 2000 and I know it's going to sound a little weird, maybe, but that's my story. I was living in the U.S., in sunny San Diego, with my wife and kids and we were having a good time, really. I'm an engineer by trade, and then I did an MBA, and then I was flying all around the world for big corporate America, being a good student of the system. And then at some point, I just realized this was not aligned at all with my vision of life anymore.

So I had that question in the back of my head, what can I do next? And really, I had no idea. And one day out of nowhere, and I remember I was coming out of a nap on a Saturday afternoon outside on my lawn, looking at the clouds, I think I had a beer with me, and I saw myself preparing little bags of herbs with the little string, the things you're infusing in a cup, and I was making herbal teas. And that was the weirdest thing. And I wondered, could that be it?

So I started to buy a few books on medicinal plants and then I taught myself plant identification and I started to pick in the wild and studied to make a lot of products and tinctures and powders and infuse the oils. And before you know it, I've taken over the whole kitchen, and the garage, and the pantry and we've got bags and Mason jars everywhere and it's a whole mess.

And then at some point, I started to give consultations on the side and really at this stage I knew this was going to be my new career. So that took a few years. I still had a traditional job, but I was doing all of this on the side. But at this stage, I decided to make it my new career, but then something was missing and what was missing were my roots, the south of France, Provence, that region you know well by now.

The whole aromatic plants growing in the wild and the whole culture that I had known as a kid where we went picking wild thyme, and linden, and dandelion greens, and mushrooms, and wild rosemary and all of a sudden it came back to me. I had kind of forgotten about it, pushed it back in the corner of my head. It all came back. So we had to come back. And that's what the family did at the end of 2009. And you came to visit us a couple of years after that, I remember. I think it was 2011, 2012.

And at this point, I fully dedicated myself to medicinal plants, picking, gardening, a lot of gardening. For a few years, I actually thought I would produce and sell my own medicinal plants. It didn't turn out this way, but I did a lot of gardening picking, writing in different magazines, teaching, I still teach today. That's one of the fun parts of what I do. Consulting as a clinical herbalist and developing a blog and a YouTube channel, well, that has grown way above and beyond my expectations, I must say.

So this is where I am today. It's great. It's exhilarating. Sometimes it's exhausting, but I love it all and all aspects. I want to be in the garden. I want to be in the wild, but I also want to be in the classroom. And I want to be with someone in front of me doing a consultation because if I stop one of those things, and I have stopped some of those things over the last few years because I was so exhausted. For instance, for about a year and a half, I stopped consulting. And then at some point, just something didn't line up. I was teaching and then I was not consulting.

And I thought, no, I cannot teach if I'm not consulting. This is what keeps us real and on our toes. So I went back to this. So actually today I'm unable to drop any of those activities, but what I have done is scale back, spend more time with the family because for a few years, to be frank with you, they suffered a little.

I didn't see much of them. I was living in my fears of not making enough money, of not knowing if I would ever make it and if I would ever sell anything. But it was such a passion that I just couldn't drop it. And I'm glad I persisted because finally, 12 plus years later and things are working out and I'm pretty happy about that.

Rosalee de la Forêt:

Yeah. You are such an inspiration to me and we are very similar in that we both went all in and we are both prone to overdoing it and burnout and recovery. So it's been nice to have that friendship with you to just be like, oh, that happens, pull back in, re-center. That's been very helpful for me.

And then also what's been really inspiring for me is your work with looking at your roots and French history, and the French use of herbs, especially in Provence which is, of course – if people don't already know – a major interest of mine, as well. And yes, your YouTube channel really inspired my YouTube channel. So I feel like I'm just so glad to have you here because I don't know that there would be this YouTube channel without Althea Provence.

Christophe Bernard:

Thank you.

Rosalee de la Forêt:

I love your videos. They're so much fun. And for people who speak even intermediate French, I think they can understand your videos pretty well. I think I speak fairly advanced French, but I understand them quite well and I think it's worth learning French to watch your videos, in fact.

Christophe Bernard:

Oh, wow. Thank you. Thank you for all those-

Rosalee de la Forêt:

And years later there's so many of them and such great information there.

Christophe Bernard:

Yeah. And as you know the way it started was pretty laughable almost. Some of my videos I just kept them just as a symbol of where I'm coming from. And the fact that I was pretty pathetic as I started and mumbling and not smiling and being super stretched. I think I have one video that I kept, it's public on my channel where I was sweating so much under the armpits. I mean, when I edited the video I thought, do I make another one?

And then I thought, no, it has been such a nightmare to shoot that 10-minute video and there's no way I'm going to redo it. So I ended up putting text boxes on my armpits whenever I lifted my arms to hide the sweat stains. That was pathetic, but I kept it as a symbol of the fact that we're just who we are, we're not perfect. We mess up. And here we are in our beautiful imperfections.

Rosalee de la Forêt:

Yeah. That's so true. And I want to say we are our own worst critic because I've been watching your YouTube from the beginning and I've loved it from the beginning, but you have also shared this with me and you've shared it in your YouTube videos about your humble beginnings. And it's been a mantra for me, just starting the push to get my own started. I was like, it doesn't have to be perfect. It's going to get better. The only way to get better is with time.

Christophe Bernard:

Yeah. I think we have a mission today. I think it's such a weird time in our history. I think part of our mission is to make the knowledge just available to as many people as possible. Here in France – you don't know this because those listening to us, you're in the U.S. And in the U.S., there was a beautiful rebirth of herbal practice in the early '70s with all of your herbal of grandpas and grandmas, including Rosemary Gladstar and all those great people and Michael Tierra, and Michael Moore and all those folks.

But here in France, there was a desert in the '70s and '80s. A couple of people, a couple of schools and we started much, much later and we had this huge gap. So one thing I tried to do as I came back is try to retrieve all that lost tradition. So now we're being stressed that it might disappear again. So I think we need to write, we need to teach, we need to talk about it so that now it's being captured in the wild west of the web, I guess, with its pros and cons, but it is a tool to communicate.

One thing I discovered when I came back to France was the love of infusion and herbal teas. So what I learned in the U.S. was the practice around a lot of tinctures, and powders, and different forms. And then when I came back to France I just found out that people love their herbal teas there, but we call them infusions here.

So I started to formulate on... A liter of tea. The way we formulate for tinctures, well, I started to formulate with herbal teas and that worked quite nicely. And actually the French herbalist will usually use a lot more teas than they use tinctures or other forms. And that has been a fun part to rediscover.

Rosalee de la Forêt:

Yeah. That's how I like it, too. There's just something so much more satisfying about the relationship you form with herbs that are in a tea and just the enjoyment of it versus the squirts of a tincture. You know, tinctures have their time and place, but I definitely love the tea.

Christophe Bernard:

Yeah. I love it because you receive the bag from the herb store and you open the bag and first of all you look at the color and you may have a smell and you're like, oh, wow, this is German chamomile. It smells like, wow. It reminds me of a honey. Oh, beautiful. It's white and yellow, beautiful colors. Then you put it in the Mason jar maybe and you pour your water and all of a sudden then you look how the water is changing color.

And then you remove the lid and you smell it and you're like, whoa, that's like aromatherapy coming out of the jar and then you drink it. So I think it gets you more implicated. It gets you more involved in the preparation and therefore in the healing process and that is something I really, really like about it.

Rosalee de la Forêt:

Yeah. Well, years ago we did an herbal intensive together in Provence. It was, to this day, one of the most fun weeks of my life and so many good memories for that. One thing just being in Provence and seeing your chosen herb, rosemary, growing from the cracks in sidewalks and growing out of these 2000 year old stone fences or barriers is just such an amazing thing.

And I do have this particular memory of we are on a hike walking from one village to the next, the old ancient trail, and we had stopped to talk about rosemary. And I remember in that moment I fell in love with rosemary harder than I ever have before in my life because your love of rosemary was just so apparent.

And I think somebody had asked one of those impossible questions of what herb would you have for the rest of your life or something? And you were just without a doubt, I mean, there was no hesitation, without a doubt, rosemary. So I'm so glad you chose rosemary to talk about today.

Christophe Bernard:

Yeah. I had to choose it. I mean, just such an amazing plant. I mean, in our region, it's a true survivor. To me it represents resistance and resilience, survival. When you see it growing in this little crack of a rock, I mean, there's no soil, there's nothing, and it's not raining during the summer here. And yet that rosemary is growing and it's aromatic. What it gives back is just so strong and amazing and I really studied that plant because it seemed to be doing a lot of things as an anti-inflammatory, as a liver plant.

Actually in France it's a big liver plant. It's not known as a liver plant in the U.S., but in France it's much appreciated for that. So when you need a choleretic and cholagogue to stimulate detox processes, we use rosemary quite often. In terms of protection, antioxidant, I've been saying this for a while now and I really believe it.

It's our green tea. I mean, we always talk about green tea as the major antioxidant but based on what we know, I think rosemary is a couple of levels above and beyond that. So it's a great, great overall protective plant. So this is what I picked today.

Rosalee de la Forêt:

Wonderful. And that modulating of inflammation is something that's just so big in my mind constantly because of how much of our chronic illness today is really the root cause of it. And rosemary is sometimes called the Queen of Antioxidants and it's amazing how many applications there are for rosemary with that in mind in terms of say, cognitive health.

Christophe Bernard:

Yeah. Amazing plant for cognitive health, indeed. And if you look at some of the studies that were done, actually one of the conclusions of the scientists was it might be the most promising herb for Alzheimer's prevention and even for the mild phases of the disease, mild to moderate phases of the disease as a cognitive enhancer. So that's one of the diseases of our generation.

And as you said, chronic inflammation is just popping its head in all major chronic degenerative diseases from cancer, to metabolic syndrome, to autoimmune disease. There's always a low-grade chronic inflammation component. And so we need to use those anti-inflammatory herbs the right way in our recommendations. And I like rosemary for that. It can be a little too exciting for sensitive people.

The French know this herb so well and a lot of people will tell you, oh, I cannot take that in the afternoon. It's a little too stimulating. Or if I take it in the evening, I will not sleep. Literally, I will not sleep at all. It's got this hot, very yang profile, very pitta, fiery. It'll be like us, Rosalee, I'm afraid.

Rosalee de la Forêt:

True. I think most of us grow up using rosemary with potatoes or just like a culinary herb. Something that I have begun to appreciate is I grew up working with rosemary in culinary foods, but back in the day, I was buying McCormick spices and that rosemary was probably years old and I'd use a little bit. There's such a world of difference between having fresh rosemary or freshly dried, even.

It works great dried, as well, but having that just incredible freshness and the potency and the aromatics. So that's something I would encourage everyone to do. If you have rosemary already in your spice cabinet, go take a little bit, pinch it, smell it, see what it's like. And if it's not very aromatic, then get some new rosemary. It's so worth it.

Christophe Bernard:

Throw it away. Compost it. It will not work as well. And it's true for all aromatics, when you pick them in the wild here in the south of France, and then you buy dried from certain stores that don't really pay attention to that part, sometimes it's just so disappointing. So just night and day compared to the wild species or even the one you grow in the garden. I mean, you can grow pretty darn good aromatics in the garden. Sure.

It's never going to be as potent as the wild plants, but you know what, in my experience, it's pretty close. It's close enough to bring good results. Of course, here in France the birthplace of aromatherapy and essential oils, we have a whole discipline around. But what rosemary? What chemotype?

Is it the camphor one, or the cineole one or the this and the that? But that gets a little too complicated almost, especially since we're not dealing with essential oils here. We're dealing with a whole plant. But in my region, in the south of France, it's definitely a camphor strong type. You can smell the camphor really easily. So we have different rosemarys, in different regions, and different growing conditions.

Rosalee de la Forêt:

And one thing that you brought into my life was rosemary tea because growing up using culinary rosemary, it was not obvious to me to work with it as a tea and your love of rosemary tea rubbed off on me. And then in my first book, Alchemy of Herbs, I published your recipe for the perfect cup of rosemary tea. Are you remembering that now? You're like, oh, yeah.

Christophe Bernard:

Yeah. I do.

Rosalee de la Forêt:

Which I loved in that it was a quick infusion so it's not… With those aromatics, you just want those lovely aromatics and not necessarily the bitterness with the longer infusion.

Christophe Bernard:

The bitterness, the tannins that you get if you let it steep a little too long. That's true. The same with thyme. Actually thyme can be such a wonderful tea if you let it steep for three, four minutes maybe.

And then at some point if you forget about it, especially if you cut a little bit too much of the wood, you know how the thyme plant has a tendency to get woody after a few years, if you use some of the wood then at some point it gets so harsh on the throat that it's almost too difficult to drink; too much tannins too astringent, which is not the goal. Usually you use those aromatics mostly for their aromatics. Yeah, the tannins can be interesting too, but not too much.

Rosalee de la Forêt:

Not too much.

Christophe Bernard:

Yeah. Good combination, too. I love rosemary and peppermint. I love this combination. I think it goes super well. And, again, peppermint in France is considered as a liver plant, choleretic and cholagogue. So the two go well together. And I think rosemary and a Chinese green tea, not the Japanese, the taste doesn't go well I find, but the Chinese green tea, the two combined is actually pretty yummy, as well. So you may want to try it.

Rosalee de la Forêt:

Yeah. That's a nice antioxidant combination, as well. Another one of the many benefits of rosemary is that it protects food and the extracts of rosemary are often added to meats and bakery goods. And I'm really excited about your recipe because it sounds delicious and what a great way to get those protective qualities.

Christophe Bernard:

Yeah. That is true. Actually, another part of our tradition that I find really interesting is how our ancestors used aromatic plants to protect the food from spoiling and how we would kill the bugs and bacterias. And, of course, give tastes, but also protect us and help us to digest the food. I mean, here in France, we put a lot of sage with a pork roast, for instance, or savory with beans. I mean, there's a reason, a historical reason for this, it's not just for the taste.

But one aspect we've talked about in our circles when it comes to food is the fact that when we roast food, the browning process, how that is not good for health, right? It's the whole protein glycation. So sugars get associated with proteins through a process called glycation. And those glycated products are not good for us. They're toxic. They need to be detoxed or they create a lot of oxidative stress. So to protect our bodies against that then we can use those antioxidants.

So I was always wondering, well, rosemary how do I integrate it with my food? Of course, I can cut it in small pieces and then I can sprinkle it on my veggies or the meat and this and that. And then one day, a chef actually gave me that trick. He said, you know what? I found a great way to incorporate the taste of rosemary through infusion, through rosemary tea. So he said, there's two ways you can use your tea. So first you have to make a strong tea, right?

So it's going to depend on the strength of your rosemary, it's going to depend on whether it's fresh or dried, but you make it and you taste it. And it needs to taste really strong. It's still drinkable, but you have to say to yourself, well, I guess I could still drink it, but it's almost too strong for me. And if you cannot achieve that, then you double steep. You can do that, maybe, if your rosemary is not as pungent.

So you make another, you use the hot liquid, the hot infusion from the first batch and you infuse again some rosemary inside. And then once it is ready, one simple thing you can do is use it to deglaze a pan.

So say you've been preparing a stir fry with maybe a few carrots and turnips from the garden and maybe a few burdock roots and with olive oil and garlic, and it's all smelling super nice, and the bottom of the pan is looking a little brownish with things stuck to it, well, then you throw a bit of your rosemary infusion and you deglaze all that brown stuff. Of course, that is not very good for us, but it's yummy.

Rosalee de la Forêt:

Very yummy.

Christophe Bernard:

It's very yummy. And rosemary will help it to get detached and, of course, it will ensure that we get enough antioxidant, maybe, to buffer a little of that oxidative stress created by this browning. And it does give a pretty good taste. It's almost… it gives it more taste than if you sprinkled the rosemary and the herbs. I've been quite amazed by that. And this is why the chef I talked to liked it so much. It really brings in the taste much better than the actual whole herbs.

And then the second trick he gave me was to put it in a spray bottle. And when you barbecue, to spray it on a regular basis, I don't know, whatever barbecue you have, if you have the one that opens, then every minute or so you open and you spray your rosemary and tea on the food and then you close again. It will prevent browning, it will keep the food moist and it will give you the taste of rosemary. So that's something I like to do, as well. It's pretty cool. And, of course, you can experiment with other aromatic herbs.

It gets pretty fun actually. You can, of course, use the thyme, and the sage, and the savory, but also try lavender. Lavender mixed with the other aromatics can be quite interesting. Monarda fistulosa, very strong, thyme-like flavor that is very interesting for barbecue… sometimes can be almost a little too strong.

And of all the plants, rosemary is probably the powerhouse here, my top choice, but I could blend different herbs and make it a little more fun and play with the flavors. It's really interesting. The only, I guess, issue is that you cannot keep that infusion very long, right? So maybe 48 hours in the fridge, but usually you have to make a fresh batch every time you want to cook, otherwise it's gone. It's going to spoil very quickly.

Rosalee de la Forêt:

Well, it sounds delicious. I can't wait to play with that. I think that's going to be lots of fun and I'm definitely going to start with rosemary. And then, like you said, try out different aromatics. I'm excited for that. Thank you. 

For the listeners, as you probably know by now, I love to share recipes when we talk about these plants. Recipes are a wonderful way for you to get involved and create your own experience with herbs.

It's one thing to hear cool facts about rosemary, but another thing to form your own relationship with this plant through observing, tending, and of course tasting. And what better way to do that than with Christophe's recipe for rosemary deglazing barbecue spray. I think this sounds really delicious and what an interesting way to work with rosemary.

You can download your recipe card using the link above this transcript.

So, Christophe, you always have lots going on. I'm excited to hear what are you up to these days? What projects do you have going on?

Christophe Bernard:

So at the moment I'm working on a pretty big project. So a bit of the background story here is the fact that, compared to the U.S. or England, herbalism has been a little slow to mature here in France. We talked about the rebirth in the U.S. in the '70s and then this phenomenal explosion in the '90s and the 2000 up until now. And I think here in France, we've had a long period of kind of slow development. I think we woke up much later on the practice, but at the moment we're, of course, all very excited.

And the interest in the overall population is very, very high. I think it's been a real explosion; especially after this or still during this COVID period, I think a lot of people have been wondering, how can I take care of myself, how can I work on prevention and on the immunity. And one thing we haven't fully developed in all the schools is the practice.

The practice, well, in the U.S. we call clinical herbalism, working with people, advising people, but not just in five minutes in the corner of the counter in the store, really over a period of several months through different cycles, help them to find relief for their chronic condition and hopefully helping them to get better. And we've been a little shy of exposing ourselves on that front due to, well, risks in the system that was not waiting for us with open arms.

But at this stage, sorry, but no more shyness now. We have a role to play and we are going to play that role. We're tired of being shy, and concerned, and afraid. No more. We're done. We're going to move forward in a careful way, of course, as a complement to traditional treatment, very respectful of the system, just like herbalists are doing everywhere else in the world. And as one of the persons I know is always saying, “Well, show me the dead. Where are the dead people? Under the carpet?” No, come on.

We're all pretty careful. So I am developing a new program to help students bridge that gap to move from the theory to the practice, to move from everything they've been learning in the programs we have today in France; they're usually over the last about three years of study. And then I'm going to launch another module, a new program that helps them to evaluate the person in front of them, knowing their strengths and their weaknesses using a simple way to determine strengths and weaknesses based on physiology, right?

Occidental models of physiology, something quite simple, but then understanding how they can work on the what we call here the terrain. I don't know if there's an English word for that, but the foundations of health. The foundations of health to help them get better. The vitalist approach, help them help themselves help their system become stronger.

So it's the combination of a lot of years of practice and it's a pretty complex program to make and I'm completely absorbed in the project at the moment, but I'm quite excited about it and looking forward to welcoming the first applicants probably early 2022. So around January, February, I'm hoping to launch the program. It's been a big chunk of work at the moment.

Rosalee de la Forêt:

Oh, that's going to be phenomenal. And it is in French, right?

Christophe Bernard:

Yeah. It will be in French because over the years I've worked with a lot of people around the world. I think there's a lot of opportunities in different countries, but I just came to realize that at the moment it's the French system that needs us French practitioners. The country almost, the herbalists in the country need us.

And we need to focus on our country, our system of education and making it better because we're playing catch up a little. We're going to catch up, but at the moment, we're lagging behind compared to a few countries. So we need to work on that. So it will be fully in French.

Rosalee de la Forêt:

Well, that's going to be a marvelous contribution. I know it's going to be really popular and insightful and I love your teaching so much. So I know it's going to be fabulous.

Christophe Bernard:

Yeah. Thanks. I'll wait for the first students to tell me what they think. I'm always a little stressed when I launch a new program. I'm like, are they going to like it? Are they not? They usually like it. So that's the good part of it, but looking forward to it.

Rosalee de la Forêt:

Well, Christophe, I'd love to end with the final question, which is the question I'm asking everybody in Season 2 which is, what has most surprised you about herbalism along your path?

Christophe Bernard:

Gosh, well, I think it's working with people with chronic health conditions, those people with a long list of ailments. And on top of this, you superimpose this amazing richness of plants and it's complicated. And it gives a lot of humility, I think. I've learned that what is being taught in books and schools is just a baseline. It's a basic model that barely scratches the surface. It needs to be taught, but it's just a starting point. And the practice, gosh, it's complex. It makes you sweat. It makes you doubt yourself.

It makes you fully live that imposter syndrome. I think we all have to go through that. It requires a lot of fine-tuning. What they don't teach you in school, at least in France, is that this process is very iterative and it takes time. And you the practitioner, you will learn as much as the person in front of you about plants and about how they work for that person. What surprises me is that sometimes you get unexpected reactions. Some individuals are hypersensitive to so many things.

Sometimes you introduce a plant and it seemed pretty mild to you, but it's going to kick the liver a little too hard. And then all of a sudden, they have maybe a rash coming up or inflammation in certain places. And so you have to back off, you have to adjust. It's very humbling, but overall seeing a person getting better and better sometimes through this two steps forward and sometimes through the one step back, but overall making progress. I think it's very humbling. It puts us back in our place.

Our place is not humans master of the universe and humans master of the herbs, the all-powerful human who think that they know everything. We're just students of the plants and the plants, the thing they've taught me… to keep my cup empty. And you know what, I think the more I practice and sometimes I get this feeling that the less I know, which used to stress me out, but I've come to think it's actually pretty healthy to just let go of expectations. Start with this baseline of knowledge we have.

We all have our tools. I know you use a lot of energetics and me, it’s a little more physiology with a bit of energetics sprinkled. Then some people might do Chinese medicine or Ayurveda. So we have this baggage we carry, but after that, I mean, you need to keep your cup empty and be ready to be surprised, and let yourself be guided and adjust. And sometimes just discover things that just go opposite to what you learn. And you might doubt it. You might say no.

I mean, really, you took that plant, you took lemon balm and you couldn't sleep for three nights in a row. No, maybe I don't think that's it, but it might be it because the people we work with, they're not dumb. They tried, they couldn't sleep, maybe, and they stopped for a few days and it got better and they tried again and they couldn't sleep again. So to me, that's better than a clinical trial. So I keep being surprised and that's good. That's pretty healthy.

Rosalee de la Forêt:

Yeah. There's so many pearls of wisdom in there, Christophe. Some that jumped out at me was how what we learn in books versus what happens in practice is just totally different. And I was also thinking about… so many of us get started with herbs because we have an illness... either we tried Western medicine, it didn't work, or we want natural solutions.

And for so many, the first questions are like, what herb is good for ______? And what I'm getting – what I'm thinking about as you're talking – it's just there's so much richness and complexity behind that, that if somebody is willing to go beyond that initial question of what herb do I take for this and find that richness and complexity and understand it's not a straight line all the time. We have ups and downs and two steps forward, one step back, as you said; there is so much complexity there.

Christophe Bernard:

It's very complex. And I think one of the traps is to see the world through who we are. You know me, for instance, one of my struggles through my whole life has been debilitating migraines. And so, of course, I studied a lot of migraines and I work a lot with a lot of migraine sufferers. And at the beginning, you might just think that what works for you will work with everybody. I found the way to deal with migraines. No, you found nothing.

You know nothing. Get back to square one. And I had a joint pain and I moved on to paleo type of nutrition and it all went away. And so the whole world should do paleo… well, maybe, maybe not. For someone else, it will be they'll move to raw food and they'll feel wonderful. And another person, they'll do raw food and they'll be a mess. So that's the thing, the trap we all fall into as beginners and then we learn to move out of it and be a little more open to, again, being surprised.

Rosalee de la Forêt:

Well, here's to being surprised in herbalism. I think that's probably the best mindset we can have.

Christophe Bernard:

We'll drink to that tonight.

Rosalee de la Forêt:

Well, thank you so much, Christophe, for being here, for sharing your wisdom with us. It's such a pleasure and just an honor for me to have you on the podcast.

Christophe Bernard:

Well, it's a pleasure to be here and I hope I've been a good boy and you invite me for Season 3.

Rosalee de la Forêt:

Absolutely. I'd love to have you back.

Christophe Bernard:

All right.

Rosalee de la Forêt:

Thanks, Christophe.

Christophe Bernard:

Yeah. Take care. Bye.

Rosalee de la Forêt:

Don't forget to click the link above this transcript to get free access to Christophe's Rosemary Deglazing Barbecue Spray. You can also visit Christophe directly at altheaprovence.com. Before you go, though, be sure to subscribe to my newsletter below so you'll be the first to get my new videos, including interviews like this.

And I'd also love to hear your thoughts about this interview with Christophe and your relationship with rosemary. Leave your comments below. I deeply believe that this world needs more herbalists and plant-centered folks. I'm so glad you're here as a part of this herbal community. Have a beautiful day.


Rosalee is an herbalist and author of the bestselling book Alchemy of Herbs: Transform Everyday Ingredients Into Foods & Remedies That Heal and co-author of the bestselling book Wild Remedies: How to Forage Healing Foods and Craft Your Own Herbal Medicine. She's a registered herbalist with the American Herbalist Guild and has taught thousands of students through her online courses. Read about how Rosalee went from having a terminal illness to being a bestselling author in her full story here.  



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