My birthday happened this past Friday, and we did a lot to celebrate — a visit to the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum, cupcakes from Lavender Moon Cupcakery (try the Boston Cream!), and a quick trip to Sacred Circle metaphysical shop to re-stock on some herbs. It was a ton of fun, and I highly recommend taking the Apothecary Museum tour if you’re ever in the area. It’s about $5, only a half hour long, and very informative, and the building itself is really neat and strikingly well-preserved! A word of caution, though: there are some steep stairs. I managed them alright, but be careful if you have balance or mobility issues.
My favorite part was the production room upstairs. The herb cabinets were to die for (and I think I just about have my S.O. convinced that investing in an apothecary chest is a sound decision), and the old implements were fascinating to see. It seems like a bit of a no-brainer in retrospect, but I honestly didn’t know that things like pill cutters or pill tumblers existed. I usually get my herbs in salve, tea, or tincture form, so I never really put much thought into how you’d make them into a pill!
Back before the days of easy-to-swallow gelatin capsules, the apothecary would roll a paste made of herbs and binding agents into a sort of clay snake, then roll a pill cutter over it to form evenly-sized slices. These would then be put into a pill tumbler to be coated in sugar or other agents to make them easier to take. The implements were really ingenious, from a quality-assuring and labor-saving perspective.
I also blame my lack of actual apothecary knowledge on watching The Princess Bride too often during my formative years.
I picked up a copy of Medicinal Plants of North America, which I’m really looking forward to reading. I’ll probably do a quick review of it when I’m done, so keep your eyes peeled if you’re interested in medicinal foraging field guides!