NICHOLAS WEINSTEIN | HOMESTEAD APOTHECARY | Oakland
Ars longa, vita brevis. Translated, this Latin aphorism attributed to Hippocrates means, “Art is long, life is short.” Hippocrates was referring to the art of medicine, suggesting that acquiring such expertise takes years. He continues: “opportunity fleeting, experience perilous, judgment difficult.” Medicine, in short, is a difficult, high-stakes race against time. Hippocrates’ words seem no less relevant now than they were a millennia ago. Despite advances in technology and knowledge, the act of healing is still complex, nuanced, and challenging. Medicine is costly—and often fallible. When the systems we rely on—like Western doctors, healthcare, hospitals, and prescription drugs fail us—where do we turn?
This is the question that Nicholas Weinstein, founder of Homestead Apothecary, faced in 2009 when he began feeling sick and exhausted all the time. His energy levels had plummeted, and he found himself unable to function during the day. He went to see Western doctors, hoping they would have an answer for him, but none was able to identify a specific cause. One doctor even told him to wake up earlier and drink more coffee. Another concluded that he had jet lag. “I was going back and forth between all these specialists for two years,” he recalls. Frustrated and confused, he ended up seeing a naturopath instead. At first glance, she saw in Nic symptoms of adrenal fatigue—bodily fatigue caused by a poorly working adrenal gland.
“Throughout all its history, natural medicine has been in many ways a study of the relationship between the entire universe and the individual organism,” write Gaea and Shandor Weiss, in their 1985 volume Growing & Using The Healing Herbs. A visit to the Homestead Apothecary is not like a visit to the doctor: you will not come away with a remedial cure-all, prescription, or regimen. But you will be encouraged to explore that relationship between the universe and yourself, and you will be encouraged to learn.
Though the naturopath prescribed two herbal adaptogens, licorice and eleuthro root, which initially gave Nic enough energy to stay awake during the day, he soon began experimenting with his own herbal formulas for more sustainable and long-term healing. Ultimately, he made a Tulsi blueberry cordial and adrenal support tea blend—both of which he took daily for months before he felt completely healed. “I’m tired of people feeling like someone else is the expert on their health,” he says. “It’s about people having enough knowledge to treat themselves.”
Three years later, at the end of 2012, Nic moved back to the Bay Area from Massachusetts (he grew up in Los Angeles but first settled in San Francisco in 2003, before moving to Massachusetts in 2010), where he was living on a farm and attending herbalism school in Wheatley. He opened Homestead Apothecary in Oakland’s Temescal Alley in March 2013. It’s a tiny brick-and-mortar shop lined with shelves of neatly arranged tinctures, herbal blends, and teas, most of which are self-branded, though Homestead also carries other local, herbal goods, including candles, body care, vintage herb books, honey, and ghee. “Homestead Apothecary is a community space for all things herbal,” reads the website. “We’re here to promote the health and wellness of our Bay Area community.”
“Throughout all its history, natural medicine has been in many ways a study of the relationship between the entire universe and the individual organism,” write Gaea and Shandor Weiss, in their 1985 volume Growing & Using The Healing Herbs. A visit to the Homestead Apothecary is not like a visit to the doctor: you will not come away with a remedial cure-all, prescription, or regimen. But you will be encouraged to explore that relationship between the universe and yourself, and you will be encouraged to learn, whether through books, Homestead’s weekly workshops, or the home-made zines they offer. “Check in with yourself and see if your picture of health is what you want it to be,” says Nic. “What barriers are in the way of it looking the way you want it to?” “Be intentional. Slow down,” he adds. The answers may be closer than you think.