It was when Stacielyn Rydingsward did not find herself back in the hospital that she knew she had found something amazing. Somehow a combination of herbs had put an end to the severe allergies that yearly brought her more doctors and more prednisone.
"I thought, ‘I've got to learn how to do this,'" she said from her new practice in Unionville. And so Rydingsward began taking classes to earn certification as an herbologist, learning how natural remedies can resolve some ailments without drugs and without side effects.
While she’s careful to say she doesn’t treat or diagnose illness, Rydingsward said she’s constantly amazed at how effective herbs are in bringing relief.
“We help you out in a natural way. I always say, ‘Before you go to CVS, come see me.' Usually all the symptoms go away and you won’t have all the side effects.”
The store is a calming backdrop for Rydingsward’s warmth and a surprise off the curb from New Britain Avenue. It is filled with jars of herbs, tinctures and little bags of tea.
Rydingsward holds up her most popular remedy, an allergy and sinus tea containing nettles and eye bright, red clover and peppermint. Nettles and eye bright are two of the best antihistamines, she explained.
Another personal experience led her to discover the power of reflexology, and she learned to do that, too.
Reflexology uses massage of the feet or sometimes hands to bring relaxation and relief.
The foot, she said, has 7,200 nerve endings, which correlate to various parts of the body and can relieve a host of complaints. Many of her clients have back problems.
Her favorite story is of a friends’ baby, who was scheduled to undergo tear duct surgery when she encountered him.
“I asked if I could do his feet … He kept pulling them back and then putting them back in my hand,” she said. “The next day my husband and I went on vacation and my friend kept calling me. She said ‘I just had to tell you his eyes are clear.’ She ended up canceling the surgery.”
Rydingsward is enthusiastic in her belief that herbology and reflexology can change lives. She is certified by the state of Connecticut to practice both.
“It helped me so much. I’m so passionate about it,” she said. “I just want people to know.”
A massage therapist, Lori Mudge, is also at Holistic Gardens. She offers offers Swedish, Deep Tissue, Sports Massage and Chair Massage.
Rydingsward plans to begin offering classes to teach clients how to make their own teas, as well as yoga and meditation.
She is a familiar face in Unionville. She grew up in town and graduated from Farmington High School in 1988. When her children were young, she quit a job at The Hartford and began working nights at McGillicuddy's, the bar her parents owned.
With certification complete, Rydingsward opened a practice in Winsted, where she has been for the past four years. But, she said, many of her clients were in Unionville and she finally decided to make the move.
"I love Unionville. It's my hometown," she said.
Holistic Garden shares a parking lot with McGillicuddy's. If you visit, park in back, off New Britain Avenue, and enter through the back door or go around to the front. Both doors are lavender.
Holistic Garden, at 89 S. Main St., is open Tuesdays 1:30 to 5 p.m.; Wednesdays 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Thursdays 1:30 to 8 p.m.; Fridays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. You can reach the store at 860-309-2256 or visit the website.