Hygieia is the Greek goddess of health, daughter of the god of medicine, Asclepius. At Hygieia’s Corner, an herbal apothecary at 451 Main Street in Placerville, health is the whole point. Owner Stephanie Sorenson said, “It’s my goal to empower people to heal themselves.”
Bulk herbs in glass jars, loose teas, tinctures, salves, natural perfume oils, Tantric oils, esssential oils, handmade soaps, incense and aromatic resins, smudge sticks and herbal supplies fill the shelves of the tiny shop. In the back of the shop, rows of neatly labeled jars shine with liquid of various colors — tinctures waiting to be decocted. Sorensen grows her own herbs and also gathers the wild herbs that go into her tinctures, teas, salves and lip balms.
“I started playing with herbs when I was 18,” said Sorenson, 40. “I learned about Native American history and medicine people. I had my first herb garden and harvested it. My family and friends were all guinea pigs as I grabbed whatever I could to try out.”
Sorenson has studied with numerous institutions and practitioners, including Clayton College University and the North American Institute of Medical Herbalism where she served a two-year apprenticeship, and with Ayurvedic practitioner Sharon McCork.
“For about six years I brought my medicinal herb starts and tea blends to the Placerville Farmer’s Market,” said Sorenson. “I developed a tonic and tincture line with about 120 tinctures which is carried at the Placerville Natural Foods Co-0p.”
When Sorenson realized that her herbal offerings were bringing in almost as much income and customers as the organic produce she was selling from Sacred Path Organic Farm, she decided to follow what she loved — herbs and health — and open her own shop.
Hygieia’s Corner opened in November and has been growing ever since. In addition to herbs, teas and tinctures, Sorenson also offers classes in herbal medicine making, along with teachers Susan Weed and Jonathan Gallagher.
“Right now the classes are indoors, but when the weather is better we’ll do some wildcrafting outdoors,” said Sorenson. In the fall, Sorenson plans to bring in an Iridology teacher.
On third Saturday, during Art Walk, the shop stays open later, offering tea tasting. Creekside Place merchants collaborate to offer live music and live art.
Customers at the apothecary can also have a numerology reading from Bonnie, get a temporary henna tattoo and have a medicine card or a tarot card reading when available.
Sorenson tries to carry as many locally produced products as she can with locally made hats, soaps and an essential oil line.
“I would love to have other local herbalist products as well,” she said.
When customers ask about herbs for health concerns, Sorenson uses what she calls “an empowerment approach.”
“I ask questions based on their symptoms and lifestyle to get an idea of their health and other issues in their life that might be affecting it,” said Sorenson. “I look at the whole person — emotional, physical and spiritual. Based on my scientific knowledge of herbs, I give them some options which might direct them toward other health workers like chiropractors, life coaches, homeopaths or herbs and encourage them to trust their own inner guidance.”
Herbal medicines are not a quick fix. They take time to work and discipline to use.
“Herbs aren’t for everyone, so it’s kind of a test of discipline,” said Sorenson. “The formulas don’t work the same for each person and it can be a matter of trial and error to see what works best for an individual.”
The current biggest seller at both Hygieia’s Corner and the Placerville Natural Foods Co-0p store is a lung tonic to help with respiratory ailments and a “Sweet Dreams Tonic” to aid with sleep.
“I’ve been able to get several clients off pharmaceutical drugs for sleep,” said Sorenson.
If you’re concerned about catching the flu or a cold this season, check out the Thieves Oil Sorenson made at the request of a client.
The history of the oil, on Hygieia’s Corner Facebook page is fascinating and so is the research that makes it something to consider in addition to washing your hands.
Hygieia’s Corner is located at 451 Main Street, Placerville, in Creekside Place. Hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m and closed Monday and Tuesdays. Stop in and taste the tea of the day.
Contact Wendy Schultz at 530-344-5069 or [email protected] Follow @WSchultzMtDemo.