Don Ollsin is a pioneering educator and leading practitioner in the field of herbal medicine. His story begins in 1969 when, working in Vancouver’s Golden Lotus Restaurant as one of B.C.’s first vegetarian chefs, his inherent love of natural food drew him to the study of herbs and their therapeutic value. At this time he began to apprentice under the noted American herbal authority Dr. John Christopher with whom he studied the science and art of herbalism. Wanting to work directly in the natural health field, he moved to Victoria, B.C. in 1972 and opened Sawan Natural Foods, which included Victoria’s first herbal dispensary. Don cares about people. He created and owned Self-Heal Herbs, an herbal retail store, clinic, and dispensary for 18 years. There he made herbal medicine, tinctures, tincture formulas, tea blends, oils, and salves for the store and helped thousands of clients. Education is also important to Don.
In 1976, Don began to study through the Emerson Institute of Herbal Studies. That same year he decided to devote all his energies to promoting the value of herbal medicine and opened Self Heal Herbs in Victoria, a retail store and information resource centre which helped to set the guidelines for quality herbal medicine and education. Don received his Master Herbalist’s degree from the Emerson Institute and soon after began teaching classes on herbs and healing, eventually broadening his activities to include lecturing and giving workshops with noted authors and teachers.
Don combines his passions for education and herbs and has taught herbal classes at University of Victoria, Bastyr University, and Royal Roads University. Over the years he created many herbal programs, “the Healing Journey” “The Practical Herbalist Program” “The Consultant Herbalist Program” “The Community Herbalist Program” “Herbal Studies, a college blended program,”.Recently he completed his MA in Environmental Education and Communication at Royal Roads University. His thesis was on online curriculum development and instruction. Since then has developed a state of the art online herbal education programs for aspiring students of healing and herbalism.
As a professional herbalist with a practical orientation, Don believes in seeing results. His knowledge of what works comes from his years of experience in treating the widest range of conditions among his thousands of clients. In 1987, Don began to offer an intensive herbal training program called the Herbal Healing Journey and also developed a home study program. In the fall of 1996 Don began teaching at the Division of Continuing Studies of the University of Victoria, where he created the course entitled “Western and Local Herbs for Healing.”
Don believes that herbs have a place in today’s evolving health care system. He would like to see more grassroots herbal education. He wants to see more people learning about herbs grown in their local area and how to work with them with care and respect. He envisions the development of a grassroots movement where the majority of the medicinal herbs used are grown and produced by the communities they serve.
Don is the author of the Pathways To Healing, A Guide to Ayurveda, Herbs, Dreambody and Shamanism. It was chosen by the Time/Life One Spirit Book Club.