Growing up, Jillian Bar-av didn’t know being an herbalist could be a profession. That was something she learned in her late 20s. Now 48, she runs her clinical practice Greenspring Herbs and teaches at the Maryland University for Integrative Health.
Bar-av has an undergraduate degree from Washington University in St. Louis, a certificate of herbal medicine from the California School of Herbal Studies and a Master of Science in herbal medicine at the Maryland University for Integrative Health.
In 1999, Bar-av attended her first herb conference, the Frontier Herb Fest, where she learned of the herbalist profession. This conference was Bar-av’s first introduction to all of the different ways people could be herbalists.
“I was at a crossroads,” Bar-av said. “I was just discovering the world of herbal medicine and at the same time I was teaching at a Montessori school.”
She decided to follow her heart. This career-related decision landed Bar-av in Baltimore for her master’s degree at the Maryland University for Integrative Health. Baltimore turned out to be more impactful than she initially realized when she met her husband Lev Bar-av, a photographer in Pikesville.
Currently, Bar-av balances her work while raising two daughters, Hannah, 7, and Zoe, 3. This juggle between hard work and a healthy home life is connected to her passion for women’s health.
“My focus now is to work primarily with busy women who are potentially overwhelmed and stressed out,” Bar-av said.
After having her second child, Bar-av decided to take some time off. However, now she is ready to bring her practice back in full force. Bar-av’s goal is to help bridge the connection for people between their health, the world of plants and the health of the planet.
Bar-av said that sometimes people misjudge the world of herbal health and think that it is not a valid form of medicine. What some people do not realize is that it’s actually the original medicine, compared to pharmaceuticals, which are much newer, Bar-av said.
“The majority of the world still relies on plants for healing,” Bar-av said. “It takes healthy people to create a healthy planet.”
Bar-av believes that when people are just in survival mode, they make decisions based on what is best for them short term and don’t have the capacity to look at what might be best on a larger level. However, when people are healthy and vibrant and don’t feel like they’re in survival mode anymore, then people will make choices that are beneficial for the planet as a whole.
As part of her work with women, Bar-av assists women, from college age through menopause, who have reproductive and urinary tract health conditions. She feels she is best equipped to help these women due to her past experiences with similar issues.
Through consultations and a close partnership with her clients, Bar-av provides individualized nutritional recommendations and herbal formulas.
While her focus is currently women’s health, Bar-av does work with male clients.
In addition to her love of herbs, Bar-av holds a strong passion for the environment.
“My favorite part is being with plants in my garden or out in nature,” she said.
The Bar-av garden grows flowers, fruits, vegetables and medicinals. Bar-av even puts an emphasis on growing endangered medicinals.
“I really like bringing friends and family closer to nature,” she said. “I love having people over and showing them the bounties of the garden.”
The family goes to services at both Suburban Orthodox Congregation Toras Chaim and the Owings Mills Torah Center. Their children attend Beth Tfiloh.
“We looked at many different schools for our children,” Bar-av said. “Beth Tfiloh was the one that we knew we would want to be at.”