Tanis McPhail: The Spicy Herbalist!

The bare facts I knew about Tanis McPhail before writing this article were: She has a beautiful voice, long flowing hair and dresses, a great laugh, a beautiful smile, a quick wit and a beautiful soul. I knew that there was nothing negative, nothing unpleasant and nothing unkind about her. This was a pretty good start, but—I’m nosey, so here’s more!

Tanis McPhail is originally from PEI, where the mud is as red as her locks. But with a dad in the military and a mother with wanderlust, she didn’t have a place to call home until she settled in Wolfville a while back. Tanis refers to Wolfville as her “heartland” and says (speaking for many) that it’s a “special place that keeps calling me back and nourishing my soul.”

Tanis has a checkerboard educational background, complete with stints in public and private schools and a healthy dose of home schooling. Her love of music took her to the Canadian Mennonite University (she’s not Mennonite but attended because they had the best program) and at the age of 16 she thought she was on her way to a career in music. Her double major in Music and Theology dropped to a single major, then a move to Acadia. Then she realized that no matter how much she loved music, it was just not her true calling. After much searching, three years ago Tanis found her passion: HERBS!

Tanis McPhail is now the proud owner of Dragonsister Herbals. She is a Certified Practicing Herbalist (CPH), which means that she’s a “general practitioner” of herbalism. She endeavors to support individuals in their journey to balance and become whole. And yes, even I need more explanation than that, so…here we go!

Tanis provides herbal consultations. She will sit down with a client for a minimum of an hour (an intake session often takes 1.5-2 hours) and take a detailed history of their health and any past and current challenges or imbalances. After chatting with the client about the details of any imbalances present, she will either select a natural remedy from the product line Pumpkin Moon Farms, which she keeps in stock, or compound a personalized remedy. You can find Tanis at the Farmers’ Market or at pumpkinmoonherbals.com. If you’d like to book a consultation with her, you can reach her at  678-0911 or  tanis.dragonsister@gmail.com, or browse her website at dragonsisterherbals.weebly.com.

Tanis is also offering herbal workshops, including an Herbal Crafts for Christmas workshop series on Tuesday nights from November 19 to December 10. The group will be creating some lovely natural gifts with herbs and spices, and Tanis will share some knowledge of how the herbs can be used both internally and externally to aid your journey to whole health.

So how does one go from music to herbs? Well, Tanis’s mother was an aromatherapist and a massage therapist, and her father was a reflexologist and an allergy specialist, so Tanis was familiar with the idea that there were myriad paths to health. Herbalism, or more accurately the use of herbs and plants as medicine, was something that always had her attention, and she had been self-educating on the subject for over 10 years before an influential series of strong women and epiphanies visited her life.

And why does she love what she does? “Because it’s both simple and complex,” she says. “And being able to help people achieve wellness, and to empower them in their own lives, is a blessing and a privilege. I love how aware our community is, and how engaged we are as a whole. The focus on local, sustainable and ecologically responsible living has been a blessing and an education since I joined the community 10 years ago.

Outside of spreading wellness, Tanis loves to knit, read, spin, sing and play music.  And she’s also exploring how to build her community, so, with her business, she’s reaching out to people in a way she never had before. It’s a beautiful, humbling experience to learn about the people she sees and smiles at every day.

Thank you, Tanis, for helping to improve the world with herbs, smiles, love and healing. All my best!

Mike Butler