Practitioners

20130301_151826-1Betzy Bancroft, RH(AHG) is a teacher, clinical herbalist, gardener, craftsperson and environmentalist who’s had a deep appreciation for the magic of plants since childhood. As VCIH co-director and core faculty, Betzy provides the earth element to the organization’s staff. Plants are truly her friends, and she feels ever inspired by the natural world—all its varied beings and the amazing interconnections and beauty that make up the great web of life. Read More...

In 1987 she began formal study at Herbal Therapeutics School of Botanical Medicine (now David Winston’s Center for Herbal Studies) and went on to teach herbal pharmacy, field botany and other subjects as an assistant instructor at the school. Lucky to be in the only class of David’s that continued for 3 years, Betzy went on to complete two graduate courses in clinical herbalism with him, as well.

Still an avid student, she has taught classes in herbal medicine, wild edible plants and the medicinal uses of food throughout the Northeast for over two decades, including major conferences such as Northeast Organic Farming Association, Pennsylvania Sustainable Agriculture Conference, the American Herbalists Guild Symposia and the New England Women’s Herbal Conference. Betzy was a part time instructor at the Tracker School for 7 years, specializing in edible wild plants and the physical languages of plants. Teaching there enabled her to take many classes in primitive skills, and she happily maintains connection to that community by teaching at the ROOTS School Rendezvous.

Betzy currently serves on the United Plant Savers’ Advisory Board. Her experience also includes over a decade in the herbal product industry as staff herbalist and general manager for Herbalist & Alchemist, Inc., a manufacturer of quality herbal extracts and other herbal products. Her favorite tasks at H&A were working with growers and the herbs they sent, and teaching workshops for natural food store personnel and customers.

Working at H&A made it possible for Betzy to attend numerous herb conferences. She’s also taken weekend or multi-weekend courses with a number of respected herbalists, including Amanda McQuade-Crawford and the late William LeSassier, two teachers who have particularly inspired her.

Practicing in the Western energetic tradition of herbal medicine, Betzy has been influenced by the Eclectic and other botanic physicians of the 19th and early 20th centuries in this country, and deeper back to the traditions of Europe. Her focus is on the common threads between all ancient medical systems, which ultimately lead to Nature itself–the four basic elements and the qualities intrinsic to them. Helping students and clients recognize the Nature of herbs, peoples’ constitutions and imbalances is a key part of her approach.

Betzy loves to introduce others to her green friends, to share the herbal wisdom she feels very blessed to have learned. Her goal is to help students and clients understand the plants’ “personalities” and relate to them as fellow living beings and guides to better health.

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Larken Bunce MS is a clinical herbalist, educator, gardener, writer, and photographer deeply inspired by a life-long love affair with plants. Since 1994, she has studied traditional views of health and nature in tandem with scientific understandings of plants and people, exploring our innate tendency towards health and the profound impact of synchronizing our lives with the rhythms of the natural world. Her practice and teaching draw wisdom from various systems of body, mind and spirit-centered healing, including Western herbal medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine, aromatherapy, flower essence therapy, mind-body techniques and whole foods nutrition. Her work is rooted in the premise that the heart of healing lies in remembering that we belong to each other and to the land. In all she does, Larken hopes to increase awareness of the capacity of not only medicinal plants, but of all nature and wildness, to sustain and heal. Read More...

In addition to working with clients in VCIH’s community clinic, Larken’s passion is sharing her craft through education. As founding co-director and core faculty at VCIH, she developed the comprehensive curriculum together with Guido and Betzy, and continues to think about and experiment with new methods to inspire the combination of rigorous critical inquiry and joyful exploration that herbalism calls for.

In addition to her roles at the Center, Larken serves as faculty in the Health Arts and Sciences program at Goddard College, where she works with students passionate about various herbal traditions, nutrition, agriculture, social and environmental justice, deep ecology and radical public health. She is a recurring lecturer in the nursing programs at the University of Vermont and Norwich University and has taught at national conferences, such as the New England Women’s Herbal Conference and Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference.

She is also the past Education Coordinator for PlantMedicine, an international non-profit dedicated to disseminating evidence-based and traditionally-supported herbal information to the healthcare community. With PlantMedicine, she collated and analyzed research data to develop herbal monographs and co-authored (with Simon Mills & Jillian Borchard) a graduate-level learning module on herbal safety and herb-drug interactions.

Larken has written articles for various publications and was previously a regular columnist for UnifiedHealth, a practitioner’s journal devoted to renewing consciousness in medicine. Currently, she maintains a blog (see below) which chronicles the cycles of and lessons learned in one of VCIH’s medicinal gardens, which she maintains with VCIH students.

Her education includes a Master of Science in Herbal Medicine from the Tai Sophia Institute for the Healing Arts and a Bachelor of Arts from Goddard College. Larken holds certificates in Zen Shiatsu and Swedish/Esalen Massage from the Heartwood Institute and in using Teishin (acupressure) for pain and stress from the Barefoot Doctor Institute. She has also studied mind-body skills at the Center for Mind-Body Medicine in Washington, DC. However, as is true for most herbalists, Larken’s most profound learning has occurred through partnership with clients, students, other herbalists and practitioners, and the plants themselves. Through such exchange, she envisions the eventual reawakening and dissemination of traditional healing knowledge in each home in every community.

You’ll find Larken happiest on an afternoon spent in a field with a harvest basket, a blue sky, and the sun on her face or kneeling in the dirt meeting a new plant. She is tickled beyond belief that she gets to do these things regularly and get paid for it. She lives on a ridge in Middlesex with her animals, bossy perennial gardens and similarly green-thumbed sweetheart. Close

Guido Masé RH(AHG) is a clinical herbalist, herbal educator, and garden steward specializing in holistic Western herbalism, though his approach is eclectic and draws upon many influences. He spent his childhood in Italy, in the central Alps and in a Renaissance town called Ferrara. After traveling the United States, he settled into Vermont where he has been living since 1996.

His experience includes founding and operating an herbal extract company focused on local harvesting and production; co-founding and co-directing a non-profit community herbal clinic; teaching herbal medicine to a variety of audiences ranging from the very young to herbal conference attendees, apprentices, and medical students; and working with clients one-on-one to discover ways to support and enhance health using whole plants and whole foods. Read More...

Guido’s teaching style focuses on conveying the interconnections within the human organism and between the organism and its surrounding ecology with a constant eye to the amazing beauty such study reveals: at any level, and in many different “languages”, herbs mirror people, the plant and animal kingdoms grew up together as complements. Such a relational awareness provides meaning and context, critical elements to understanding and also to healing.

At home, he spends time with his wife Anne and daughter Uli. He enjoys cooking and eating with family and friends, writing on topics in herbal medicine and human health, playing music, and experimenting with distillates and novel herbal formulae. Time alone is usually spent running on road and trail (often in the very early morning). Occasionally he will race a marathon.

Guido works clinically and teaches as a professional member of the American Herbalists Guild, and is a part of United Plant Savers and the American Botanical Council. Close

Shona Richter MacDougall is a certified clinical herbalist and avid gardener. While growing up she knew there had to be another way in medicine. As a teenager she discovered herbology and was swept away by it. She has apprenticed with herbalist Bella Cloud, completed the clinical program at The Rocky Mountain Center for Botanical Studies, is a level two certified Bach Flower Practitioner and has completed a course of homeopathic study. Shona previously had a private practice in Leadville, Colorado, taught classes at Colorado Mountain College, as well as private classes. She has held multiple jobs in the herb and health industry, including making herbal products, and managing herb departments in health food stores Read More...

In the last twelve years Shona has focused her practice on pregnancy, child bearing and children’s health and wellness. She and her family are in the process of starting an organic herb farm where they strive to reach a high level of sustainability by raising much of their own food and medicine. Shona works with each client utilizing wise woman tradition and scientific research. Each individual’s plan blends herbs, supplements, homeopathy, flower essences, diet, exercise and self-awareness. Close