For Will Endres, understanding the curative properties and prophylactic benefits of herbs and wild growth is not just about knowing which mushrooms are safe to eat, but also knowing how to use the mystery of nature to better ones life.
“I bring people out and help them get comfortable in nature,” says Endres. Born in Savannah and formerly from West Virginia, he established his business, Will’s Wild Herbs, after discovering his passion for nature and the essentials of life.
Endres studied at Berkeley and moved progressively through many jobs, from an interest in law enforcement to documentary photography to mailman and other odd jobs before he took to the trails in search of herbs and nature’s healing ways.
“There was a time in my life when I actually lived in the woods,” he says. “During this period, it became really obvious what was actually essential in life; that being those things I couldn’t live without. I met a third-generation herb doctor and I studied intently for three years the craft of herbal medicine.”
The mentor, Clarence Frederick Grey (Catfish, Man of the Woods), began teaching Endres how herbs and other natural remedies are used for healing. Much of the mentoring and the ways of nature were passed down from Cherokee Indians. Endres holds Native American healing ways in high regard.
Back in West Virginia, Endres was furthering his education about the craft of herbal medicine in an environment where neighbors had used many of these practices for generations.
“Most all of my neighbors were in touch with nature and the healing powers found within; they all knew the plants, trees, and shrubs, and I gravitated to those people that were in touch with nature in that way,” says Endres.
Upon honing his own practice of herbal medicine, Endres found that he also had an interest in teaching and sharing his own knowledge with those eager to learn.
“To date, over 350 people have apprenticed under me,” he says. “They committed to a minimum amount of time to learn and practice herbal medicine and identification, and teaching and mentoring is a big part of what I do.”
In Orange County, Endres discovered that the informal practice of using herbs to heal was already part of certain communities in and around Hillsborough.
“Some of the older people, they have been using natural remedies for as long as they can remember, and when I explained what I was doing, it made building relationships here all the more special,” he says. “I get much joy in life now in the role as a teacher and also in working within nature to extract healing properties.”
He is quick to identify common natural wonders, too. Endres explains that rabbit tobacco, or Life Everlasting, is good for breathing and asthma and has insect repellent properties, too; boneset has been used to treat fevers, as a diuretic, and for the influenza virus; skullcap is used for nerves and sleep disorders; and, flag root is used for mental and physical focus.
For information, visit his Web site at willswildherbs.org.
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