Living Well with Herbalist Traci Donat
Traci Donat is a Los Angeles based herbalist and the founder of the plant-based apothecary, Simples Tonics.
Traci began her interest in plant medicines in high school, where she first connected with their healing powers. She later discovered biodynamic gardening and developed an inseparable bond with the earth. Traci has been making herbal remedies and brewing simples for friends and family for years and has seen first hand the profound transformation that occurs with deep nourishment. Her decades-long study and immersion into traditional folk medicine fueled her dream to share these plants with a larger community. Simples Tonics are a new breed of superfoods, and Traci is proud to offer them to you with love and excitement.
Get inspired as Traci shares her self-care rituals & routines, her favorite natural remedy, and a few of the women that have fueled her faith and courage.
In what ways do you carve out time for self-care while growing a new business?
Since starting Simples, my life has definitely changed, like any new business or venture, or baby, it takes a lot of time and energy, and I find I need self care more than ever and yet it is much harder to come by. So at least for now the days of 3 hour hikes and spa days are not realistic and honestly not easy anyway for the healer archetype. Most nurturers and healers I know struggle with taking care of themselves, we tend to take care of everyone else first, it’s our nature and honestly our purpose and joy, so for me carving time out for self is a learned and cultivated skill.
However, I have found that a well placed 10 minutes can actually go a long way and is sometimes all it takes. Here are a few ways I squeeze nourishment and self -care into my life.
Meditation, evens just for 5 minutes, is critical for me and actually does the trick. I have a monkey mind so creating space for 5-10 minutes is a huge act of self- love.
Water. Drinking enough water, and Simples tonics. It sounds basic, but half the time when I am feeling depleted or having an afternoon slump, it’s because I haven’t had enough fluids, and minerals. Hydration is critical. So I am trying to stop, and take a moment to consciously hydrate and nourish my body.
Food. Taking a few minutes in the morning to prepare a lunch for work so I make sure I am eating, and eating healthy foods. It takes 10 minutes to pull together a salad and I feel much better and more in control when I’m making conscious choices about what I am eating.
Breath. There are so many simple breathing techniques that can be done anywhere that I find completely reset my nervous system and can shift my energy. Just a few deep breaths are a conscious effort to get back in your body and be present and kind to yourself.
Exercise. In the past couple of years I have let exercise slip by the wayside, and I feel the difference, dramatically, so I am trying to get back into the habit of making time a few times a week to move my body. I love hiking and being in nature, that’s my go to for physical and mental health. I am fortunate to live adjacent to amazing hiking trails so I can slip out for an hour and be in deep nature, climbing hills.
Bathing. My reward at the end of the day is a nice hot bath. Soaking in hot water is one of my favorite things and something I always make time for. We carry some of the most amazing bath salts and soaks at the shop (because I make sure that we do!) and I use all of them. Choosing from my line up, and then pouring in handmade, lovingly blended herbal and flower bath soaks is a gift I give myself and a way I feel pampered.
Boundaries: My work these last few years launching Simples was learning to say yes. Yes to things that scared me, yes to things that put me at risk and out of my comfort zone. Yes to things that kept me up all night and home working all summer. Now that the business is open, I feel a whole new set of challenges, and there is a greater need to say no. Especially as an empath and healer my instinct is always to jump in, take everything on, and give you the shirt off my back and I am learning that self care often involves making hard choices, drawing lines in the sand, saying no, and leaving situations and relationships that are toxic or one sided. It’s not the feel good kind of self care necessarily, yet what I am practicing I think is ultimately the most important way I can care for myself even if it is horribly uncomfortable and unfamiliar at times.
Some of your favorite rituals & routines?
Rituals and routines are another form of self -care for me. There are a few things I do everyday that make me feel grounded and happy.
Morning coffee (four sigma mushroom coffee for me please) with my husband. We are both morning people, and get up 5ish, so our best time together is when we are fresh, and we have this magical “found time” when the world and all the demands are still asleep. Making that connection in the morning helps me feel connected to him all day.
I like to pull cards in the morning to help me set an intention or to offer some guidance for my day. I have several decks and I am really enjoying learning more about the different cards and interpreting them for myself.
Many Moons Workbook. I have been reading and following the prompts and rituals since I happened upon the very first edition a few years ago . I find the workbook gives a structure or a “calendar” to keep me connected to the phases of the moon. Living in connection to the waxing and waning of the moon is as old as time and I find comfort and insight in flowing with this rhythm.
How do you incorporate plant medicine into your daily life?
Plant medicine is at the core of how I live my life. It is the source of my best nutrition, and my best physical and emotional support. I love the Simples Tonics because they are such an easy way to incorporate plant medicine into my routine on a daily basis. Grab a bottle and go, in the car, at the gym, at home. And each bottle is full of vitamins, minerals and healing for the body. So it’s super easy and super effective. I also carry tinctures and flower essences with me in my purse. I switch different medicines around depending what’s going on, for example, if I need stress relief, immune support, or a detox boost. Once you get a few tools in your toolbox you’ll find it’s not only very easy to use these herbal tonics for support, you will rely and crave them.
What are some of your personal favorite herbs & tonics?
I have a lot of favorites when it comes to herbs, tonics and remedies and again it depends on what is going on with me. The Simples Tonics are my number one “go to” as they keep me strong through their deep nourishment. Drinking nourishing herbal infusions everyday builds stamina, strength, immunity and fortitude so there is less need for other medicinals. I drink all of the tonics at various times, right now I am drinking a lot of Oatstraw, it is full of Magnesium, which most of us are deficient in and it’s a great nervine, offering support to the nervous system. It’s crazy out there in the world and often in my own world so I am drinking a lot of that tonic!
With that said if I am feeling a bug coming on I will definitely reach for Simples Cider our version of Fire Cider, and I work with many tinctures, Motherwort being a favorite. I also really love working with flower and crystal essences. They are alchemical medicines that help us work with our emotions. I find them very potent and very empowering. Many of our regular customers have been experimenting with different blends and the results have been beautiful to watch.
Some fun ways to incorporate herbal medicine into daily meals?
We are continuing to expand our line of vinegars, as herbal vinegars are an incredible way to get the benefits from the nourishing plants in a shelf stable and easy to use way. People who want to incorporate the nourishing plants into their meals will be well served with our Simple Cider and herbal vinegars, they are a great way to boost the flavor and nutrition of salad dressings, soups and stews. It’s an easy and effective way to get extra minerals into your meals and into your children as well.
A quick natural remedy you'd like to share?
I believe that Fire Cider, that we make under the name of Simples Cider, is a remedy that everyone should have on hand in their cupboard. It’s super easy to make with affordable and readily available ingredients. The recipe is posted on our website and I did a kitchen demo which you can watch on leaf TV. It’s a great way to care for yourself and your family with common foods found in the grocery store.
3 women who have inspired your life & work
There are many women who have, and continue to inspire me. The top of the list is always Jane Goodall. She is a fearless and passionate advocate for not only primates but for all living beings and our precious environment. She works tirelessly for the betterment of the world and always seems to come from a solution based, compassionate, calm and reasonable place. She is my North Star of how to be a powerful woman in the world.
Brene Brown helps me get out of bed every morning. I like to listen to her books on tape in the car as she is such a beautiful storyteller and she inspires me everyday to face my fears, stay in the arena, and strive to be a more compassionate and whole person. She is genius.
Pema Chodron is another woman I admire and gain strength from. Her books and lectures are mainstays on my nightstand and playlist. She has seen me through some dark personal days and she inspires me to live a more compassionate and awake life. I also love the fact that like me, at the second phase of her life embarked on a whole new Journey. She gives me courage and inspiration.
A life Lesson you'd like to share?
Life throws me lessons everyday, but I think the biggest lesson learned is to not give up, to not quit. With Simples for example, it has not always been a smooth and easy road. Introducing a new category of nutritional beverage with plants that many people are completely unfamiliar with, takes perseverance and courage. It’s not the easiest path. But for me, it’s been my dream to do it. I have wanted to open Simples for 10 years, and it might still be just some idea floating around in my head if I hadn’t stuck it out through all of the challenges that a founder faces. I still look at out at the shop from behind the counter and am so grateful and so amazed by the fact that this idea I had is now actually a living, breathing tonic shop and apothecary and the tonics are in beautiful glass bottles as I envisioned, and people are drinking them and loving them and are feeling the magic of the healing that I have known for so many years. This is only possible because every time I get knocked down, I get back up.
How do simple tonics support women's health & beauty?
Simples tonics are made with nourishing plants which offer a plethora of vitamins and minerals, which is the key in my mind to optimal health and therefore beauty. When the body is thoroughly nourished it functions optimally, tissues repair, elimination and detoxification improve, immunity and energy are enhanced and the skin and eyes glow. In my mind there is nothing more beautiful than a woman glowing with good health and radiating the happiness that comes with feeling good in your own skin. Simples tonics are an excellent and easy way to get the proper nourishment you need to look and feel your best. There are also specific tonics that can address trouble areas, Burdock is detoxifying to the liver, blood and bowel and is a great choice to clear problem skin, Nettle is loaded with vitamins and minerals, specifically iron for women to keep cheeks rosy and energy levels consistent. So while each tonic is nourishing, they each have a special gift they offer for our health,
For our readers joining in from afar - is there a simple tonic recipe you'd like to share?
Since we have touched on Burdock, let’s talk about how you could make this tonic at home, if you are not amazingly fortunate enough to live in Los Angeles and visit us at Simples. You can use a simple mason jar with a lid, and put roughly a handful of dried organic burdock root in the jar, add boiling water, cover and let it steep overnight or for at least 8 hours, then strain. Just be sure to refrigerate the tonic if you don’t consume it right away. Tonics stay good for 3 days