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Feature Article

Written by Janine DiBella-Fernandes

April 2024


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A Journey

In my teenage years, I was drawn to astrology, crystals, spiritual earth and kitchen based beliefs;  I also had an interest in family history. As life got busier in my 20’s and I went to university, I had less time in my life for the things I once had a passion for. 


After graduating as a primary school teacher, working in the industry and then becoming a mum, I found my way back to family history, where I began thinking about how the strong women I was researching had taken care of their families, when no modern medicine was available. 


My ancestors would likely have been taught from their mothers, and grandmothers before them, how to take care of their families using the plants that grew in their local area. They would have known innately and through verbal knowledge, of the body’s ability to heal itself; if given the proper opportunity. Also, the knowledge that everything, (not just living things), has a vital force - also known as qi (Chinese medicine), prana (Ayurvedic medicine), or in the case of my ancestors, animism.


This has encouraged me to look around my local area and see what tools of healing are available by using ‘the healing power of nature’ (one of the naturopathic principles), instead of relying on non-natural substances for my family's health. By doing this, it has sparked the desire to use my knowledge and education background to share and teach others to heal their families and community. 


I found my way back to crystals when my first born, as a toddler, began collecting rock; enquiring about the types and expressing how they made her feel. Cooking together with my children brings an extra layer of love and magic to the food we prepare. Also around this time, I decided to home educate - knowing I had the ability to educate these small humans in many areas of life, not just mainstream ideas.


Coming back to the things I had been drawn to as a teenager made me think deeply about what I wanted for myself, my children, my community and the people of the world. 


Enrolling at university to complete a degree in Western Herbal Medicine was, for me, the next step in this level of educating us all. Who I was as a teen, and am at my core, aligns with the six naturopathic principles and is what makes me happy and fulfilled.


Humans consist of many facets: physical, psychological, hereditary, the world they live in and social factors. As a herbalist, all these areas come together in treatment: ‘Treat the whole person’. For me, it’s not just about the herbs; ensuring people are taking care of all aspects of their lives, those around them and the world as a whole, is just as important. Holism is a term that describes the intimate interconnection between these parts - the parts make up the whole person, the whole family unit, the whole community and the whole world community. They cannot survive independently or be comprehended without looking at the whole. 


Prevention (‘preventare’), as has been said, is the best medicine. If illness and disease can be prevented, this is the best outcome and every effort to achieve this in full consultation, is key. The health of everyone on earth depends on the health of all living things, so learning to heal yourself through education is vital. For me, this will be through teaching others about their health, empowering and helping them in their healing journey. This aligns with one of the Naturopathic principles: Doctor (healer) as teacher.


My journey into herbal medicine has only just officially begun, but I feel this deep connection to it in my DNA and soul; and am looking forward to everything I am yet to learn and in turn share with others.

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