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Welcome to The Quality Makers, an interview series highlighting pioneers in the direct-to-consumer space. Join us as we get an inside look at the world of digital shopping through the eyes of the individuals shaping it…
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When someone hears the words “plant” and “medicine” used together for the first time, it can seem very incongruent. However, Adriana Ayales, CEO and Founder of Anima Mundi, is some kind of a mystical being (maybe an herbal nymph?) who hopes to eradicate the idea that plant-medicine is not real medicine.
When Adriana originally moved from Costa Rica to Brooklyn (which is very hardcore), she had every intention of transporting and translating her deep appreciation for botanical remedies. Her mission was to serve as both a spiritual and educational bridge between timeless Indigenous healing traditions and the everyday imbalances we all have developed from trying to keep up with this modern world (that some may even describe as h*ll!). Her knowledge is encyclopedic, her passion is limitless, and she practices what she preaches (or rather, she is simply the full embodiment of herbal medicine itself).
Now, with online and (two!) in-store apothecaries of 200+ organically sourced, ethically grown, and wildcrafted herbs and botanicals from all over the world, it’s safe to say that Adriana has succeeded in bringing her message to the masses. For her, herbal medicine is an artform, and if that is the case, we’d argue that her paintbrush and canvas are never-ending.
Before you find yourself overwhelmed by her truly massive collection of potent formulas and magical concoctions, think of Anima Mundi as you would your everyday pharmacy. Have a headache? You take X. Have a stomach ache? You take Y. Adriana’s goal isn’t for you to take everything all the time. The joy and secret behind herbs is learning how to integrate them as you intuitively need them in a long-term, sustainable fashion.
While there are endless things to say about the whimsy of Adriana, I’ll let her literally speak for herself since I had the great opportunity to dive deeper into the out-of-this-world mind of the Herbal Queen of all queens.
TQE: It’s safe to say that you are somewhat of an herbal witch, based on all your amazing concoctions. How did you become an herbalist with so much ancient wisdom?
AY: Since I was a little girl, I felt a very strong connection to nature and the spirits of nature. I remember having profound spiritual experiences when I was around seven years old, where I was directed in specific ways by the energies I was connecting to. Many, if not all children, have this access at that age, but the westernized—or modernized cultures—have sadly suppressed or disregarded this in children.
I’m very grateful that I grew up in a family that didn’t discard or discriminate against this power that blessed me at a young age and developed as I grew. I didn’t know at that time that this was “unusual” or perhaps spiritual. It simply felt like access to mysterious worlds that are intimately woven with everyday life.
As I grew older and better understood the language of these psychic insights, I realized this was part of my greater purpose. I started by immersing myself more in hands-on healing (similar to Reiki) and other healing techniques to then (surprisingly, at the time) fall deeper into herbalism. Thankfully, due to this early psychic access, following the inner voice that led me to different places and teachers, I came to find the path that was meant for me to follow.
I’m very grateful to have met many teachers along the way such as several indigenous teachers in Central and South America,the west coast of the US, and more.
TQE: What was the impetus for starting Anima Mundi?
AY: My core mission was to bridge ancient medicines with the modern world. After training and learning with many indigenous people, my heart hurt to think that this medicine would be forgotten. I have an unshakable devotion to preserving these ancient traditions and traditions that have lived for millenia. Because of this, I dreamed of Anima Mundi as a grassroots “pharmacy”—a place where people could source medicines from nature and bring in alternatives to their healing experience.
TQE: What do you feel people often misunderstand about the powers of herbal medicine?
AY: People often think herbs are dangerous or unreliable folk medicines that don’t work in comparison to what pharmaceutical medicines can do.
What people don't often realize is that over 60% of pharmaceuticals have been derived from the chemical templates from herbs! Many pharmaceutical companies have gone out into the wilderness to actually learn about plants, remedies, formulations and more from Indigenous peoples.
Sadly this information has been stolen from many tribal peoples worldwide and has not been credited properly. There IS a way to make the synergy of these two worlds work. It doesn’t have to be one against the other. If you think about it, modern allopathic medicine—that we know of as “medicine” today—has existed since the early 1800’s. Traditional pharmacological knowledge has existed since the dawn of time. All major civilizations had intricate and advanced pharmacological knowledge.
It is honestly odd that allopathic medical systems don’t integrate more herbal pharmacology into everyday practice, as it would be the perfect balance to have both systems woven together.
THE MIND | Cognition + Focus
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BLUE LOTUS | Flower of Intuition
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GYNOSTEMMA | Miracle Grass
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ASHWAGANDHA | Nature's Chill Pill*
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TQE: Where do you source your inspiration when crafting your gorgeous potions?
AY: This is a hard question to answer! I love to study. I'm avidly studying ancient healing traditions, botanical books, botany, spiritual ecology, and more. It's such a vast field, and my inspiration comes from immersing myself into these realms consistently. I also deeply love being in meditation in nature, doing rituals and ceremonies. It’s a powerful way to connect with ourselves and nature’s mind.
If you’re just diving into the holistic, plant-based world of remedies for the first time, it can be really overwhelming to know where to start.
TQE: What are some areas of focus you’d advise someone to begin with?
AY: I think a big one is staying regulated and protected. Two key pillars I tackle in my practice starts with choosing herbs that keep our nervous system and hormones calibrated. This is why adaptogens have become so popular over the years, as they are safe “heal-alls” that tackle multiple organ systems. This helps the body stay grounded, stable, and in a constant state of equilibrium. This specific class also protects from oxidative stress and anxiety, another major section many of us need for mental and emotional stability.
Other herbs I like to utilize are mineralizers, which are my daily multi-vitamin. A key aspect to staying balanced and in homeostasis involves mineralizing herbs like nettle, nettle seed, horsetail, alfalfa, red clover, chlorella, seaweeds (and many more) to keep the body nourished with trace minerals and essential phytochemicals. This is a major necessity since a lot of mass-produced produce nowadays is sadly depleted. We must reintegrate micronutrients to receive a wide enough spectrum of nutrition.
TQE: You seem to have mastered the art of creativity when it comes to integrating your remedies into one’s everyday lifestyle. How would you recommend people better incorporate these concoctions without feeling like they have to account for a million supplements and/or steps?
AY: I’m a huge fan of only sourcing fresh and fresh-dried plants, incorporating them into food. It’s fun, easy and grants wider nutritional benefits to everyday foods. Also, a big plus side for most is that you hardly taste the herbs!
Instead of using capsules, opt for dusting your meal with herbs. Although I love capsules when traveling or in a pinch, oftentimes the herbal powders in there get old and oxidized, significantly reducing its medicinal value. It’s important to source truly high-quality capsules or make your own to ensure that you’re getting fresh ingredients in your body.
TQE: Can you give us a snapshot into the Day in the Life of Adriana? What does your daily routine look like?
AY: I love brain herbs. They’re some of my favorites to kick off the morning energy. I often integrate mucuna or The Mind formula into a mineralizing herbal tea, matcha, or coffee. I love using fresh coconut milk (produced by a beloved family near me!), mucuna, cacao, or coffee.
I loooove cooking with herbs. I love making curries with different herbs or saucy dishes with a mix of beans like chickpeas and lentils that have tons of herbs woven into them. Think of a curry spice blend, but with your choice of adaptogens or herbs you’re seeking to implement!
TQE: How do you want to continue to expand Anima Mundi? What are some exciting things people can expect to see from you in the days, months, years to come?
AY: We recently opened an apothecary in LA that we’re thrilled about! It took a significant amount of hard work to make this happen with a fast turnaround. We’d love to continue expanding through brick-and-mortar stores, as we’re big advocates of having spaces where the community can gather, drink exquisite teas, and learn through educational events. It’s still a fundamental way to continue connection and a bigger part of keeping the herbalism story going.
There’s soooo much more to come, stay tuned!