Words: Kirby Tello Photos: Rachel Benavides
LaDonna Calhoun, a surgical first assistant with American Surgical Professionals, is no stranger to modern medicine. However, her passion for alternative medicine is shifting the medicinal landscape within our community.
Calhoun started Archer Soapworks & Apothecary in 2015, but she started laying the company’s foundation long before she dreamed of it becoming a business. Her love for creating things, including medicine, with her own two hands had always felt empowering and intriguing. But the turning point came when she suffered a massive bruise on her forearm after an archery lesson. Remembering that arnica, a plant from the daisy family, is used medicinally to treat bruises, she went home and concocted a beeswax and arnica salve to soothe her injury. Just like that, her company was born!
Although Archer Soapworks & Apothecary stocks many healing products, essential oils are what they do best. In fact, they specialize in customized synergistic blends catering to people of all ages.
One thing to note when experimenting with oils is the importance of safety. With the trendiness of herbalism skyrocketing, it is Calhoun’s mission to provide in-depth education on essential oil usage. If someone doesn’t know the correct way to blend oils, usage might wind up being more harmful than helpful. That is how the company’s Basics of Herbalism Series began.
The series consists of four classes where students take a deep dive into the history of herbalism and learn about common misconceptions and assumptions. Two of the classes specifically focus on how to choose essential oils and why using a carrier oil, such as sweet almond oil, is a must in terms of safety.
Calhoun, who studies Clinical Herbalism at Herbalism Academy, hosts intimate class sizes (a maximum of 10 people) which provide a comfortable setting to create valuable dialogue and receive detailed takeaways from Calhoun’s expertise. “We take a very DIY approach since essential oils are not ‘one size fits all’,” says Calhoun.
Archer Soapworks & Apothecary has recognized that people want more options to take better care of themselves. Being armed with the knowledge of the safe application of essential oils puts clients in the driver’s seat of their health by using an easy, daily approach to self-care.
While traditional healthcare costs keep climbing, herbalism is becoming a mainstay in our healthcare options. Calhoun is in it for the long haul. Her positive intention drives her to educate the community about herbalism and essential oil safety.
Ultimately, she wants the local community to feel empowered when making decisions about their health.