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, their therapeutic value and yoga. At this time he was intiated into the practice of Surat Shabd yoga and 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, and be in a more conducive environment to practice yoga, he moved to Victoria, B.C. in 1972 and opened Sawan Natural Foods, which included Victoria’s first herbal dispensary.
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 he opened Self Heal Herbs in Victoria, B.C., a retail store and information resource center 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 is a professional member of The American Herbalists Guild and one of fewer than 250 of such practitioners nationwide whose education and clinical skills have been peer reviewed by the American Herbalists Guild so as to be granted the status of a “registered herbalist” (R.H.).
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. Over the years he has created many herbal programs and has taught at many colleges and universities including: The University of British Columbia, The University of Victoria, Bastyr University, Langara College and Royal Roads University. Don is the author of Pathways To Healing: A Guide to Ayurveda, Herbs, Dreambody and Shamanism. It has been chosen by Time/Life One Spirit Book Club and is used as the textbook for his Herbal Programs.
Don’s teaching is about environmentalism, community and sustainability. In 2013 Don completed his MA in Environmental Education and Communication at Royal Roads University. He still practices his yoga daily.