Herbalist brings alternative medicine to old theater

By NANCY WILSTACH / Community Columnist

There’s a cozy new spot on Montevallo’s Main Street where Cameron Strouss and Wren send out a calming vibe along with the gentle aroma of an herbal tea.

Deep Roots Apotheke’ and Clinic occupies the downstairs of what long ago was the Strand Theater.

Cameron Strouss and her daughter, Wren, welcome visitors to Deep Roots. (Contributed)

Cameron’s bright smile and little Wren’s cheery burbles have put life back into what once was the lobby. The focus here these days is principally on helping people cope with chronic conditions under Cameron’s guidance. A certified clinical herbalist, she also graduated from the University of Montevallo with a degree in biology and from the Eclectic School of Herbal Medicine.

“I go out into the woods and harvest plants and make medicine from those plants,” she said. Her scope is wider than that. She studied with respected herbalists, including folk herbalist Darryl Patton who inspired her, and she studied under Thomas Easley in North Carolina.

“On my birthday in 2008 I went to an herbs class that (Patton) was teaching,” she said, “And afterwards I went on my knees and told him ‘I want to learn.’” That started her on a path that not only taught her about the natural world and the remedies it can provide, but it led her to good health.

“I was really sick, and no-one could figure out what was wrong,” she said. Her body was exhibiting symptoms of arthritis, hormonal anxiety and pre-diabetes, “And I was feeling very crazy and out of control.”

Cameron also worked in California and Oregon, learning more about herbal medicines and the storefront concept. Meanwhile, adhering to what she was learning, her personal health began improving along with her knowledge.

An uneasiness with conventional medical practice had begun to emerge when she was a student-dancer at Homewood High School. A dance injury damaged the tarsal tunnel. A too-tight cast on one leg, she said, led to blood blisters and a hematoma. She was in a wheelchair for nearly two months.

At 22, Cameron faced the chilling diagnosis of pre-diabetes. “I am 28 now,” she said, “And it is gone.” She credits a regimen that includes such plants as stinging nettles, peppermint and spearmint.

Cameron gathers wild about 40 percent of the herbs she uses at Deep Roots. Trusted friends gather others, and she cultivates some, such as comfrey, horseradish and yarrow.

Clients fall into three categories. Some wander in off Main Street to buy tinctures for such ailments as colds, anxiety, tummy troubles and baby colic. Others come for clinical help—dietary recommendations, supplements, herbal formulas—with follow-up. A third group come for acute care for issues ranging from sinus infections to childbirth.

Beginning in January, she plans to teach a 10-week intensive course in medicine making. Information about all Deep Roots activities is available on the website: deeprootsapothekeandclinic.com or via email: deeprootsoffice@gmail.com or via phone at (205) 790-3285.

Or, drop by to visit at 620 Main St. like I did.