DoubleBlind has partnered with Colibri as a part of our commitment to supporting local businesses and artisans selling the highest quality products in the plant medicine space
On 40 acres in Northern California, Shelby Stafford lives amongst a range of medicinal plants growing wild on the land. Mugwort, mullen, wild rose, pine, poppies, cedar, manzanita, yerba santa, and other native species, too. A registered nurse and an herbalist, she says it’s important to have a direct relationship with the plants she works with.
“I started this business kind of on accident through my own healing journey,” says Stafford, who now creates a range of essential oils, tinctures, and smoking and tea blends, through her artisanal brand, Colibri. “I graduated as an RN at an early age, and was also handed some of my own health issues—autoimmune issues—around age 21. I wasn’t finding much help in Western medicine, but I was also working in Western medicine. I was looking for a deep level of healing.”
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On the path to wellness, Stafford found herself in the Andes mountains of Peru, where she deepened her knowledge of plant medicines, dream work, and native wisdom, through the Paititi Institute, whose mission is conservation ecology and preserving native traditions. In carrying out these goals, Stafford had the opportunity to work with a local weaving family. She formed a business—Colibri, which means “hummingbird”—as a platform to help them present their goods to the world, and to function as her own creative outlet.
“I really wanted to start working with subtle plant medicines to integrate into my life and my healing as a daily practice,” says Stafford. “So I started making herbal products, selling the products from the family, and creating products from the earth with a healing intention.”
Through the institute in Peru, Stafford works with several artisanal families from the mountains and jungles who craft traditional products. “They weave in different symbols that have ancient cultural aspects to them on products such as altar cloths, tapestries, clothing like vests and scarves, bags, and things of that nature.”
As for her own products, Stafford creates body oils, tinctures, flower essences, and a drinking cacao blend that contains different herbs. She only uses plants that are in season.
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But for DoubleBlind, she’s created a sacral balancing oil, formulated (originally in collaboration with friend and herbal formulator Amber Stadler from Joshua Tree) from lavender, rosemary, geranium, ylang ylang, and benzoin. Sweet, floral, and herbal (some compare the scent to vanilla), the components of the oil serve various functions, Stafford explains:
The lavender may balance the emotions, relieve muscle spasms, offer increased focus and antimicrobial properties, and help with depression, anxiety, insomnia, anger; the rosemary could improve circulation and serve as an antioxidant to protect the skin from cellular damage, while its fragrance may improve memory, creativity, and perception; the geranium could treat hormonal imbalances caused by PMS or menopause, and could relieve stress, anxiety, or depression; the ylang ylang, meaning “flower of flowers” in Tagalog, is sedative, antispasmodic, and aphrodisiacal, with the ability to balance hormones and combat low libido; and lastly the benzoin, an antiseptic, may also help those who feel emotionally blocked, exhausted, or anxious, creating a “safe space” for oneself, Stafford says.
“As you can put together from these actions, this oil is formulated to sooth, relax,” she describes. “It is also balanced to not totally sedate, but to enliven perception and help align, relax, and awaken the sacral center for an expressive, engaged, sensuality, and sexuality.”
With the essential herbal oils mixed together upon a foundation of sunflower oil, the light-weight sacral balancing oil can be used externally all over the body. Stafford and Stadler also crafted the oil with numerological intention. “Multiples of 2 and 4 are included in the formula of this blend,” she says. “2 represents the number of the Sacral chakra, and 4 represents the number of the Heart chakra. These numbers work together in balancing the passion and love between two energetic beings. The creation of this oil is intended to open the Heart chakra, allowing the Sacral chakra to flow spontaneously.”
Inspired by the Native American belief that fire holds many medicinal properties, the aim was for the oil to serve as “fire medicine” to kindle “our need for warmth, compassion, and physical strength” and “fuel the dancing flame within.”
The oil itself is made from sustainably sourced herbs and formulated by Stafford by hand at home. “To me, health is holistic,” she says, noting that she stopped taking pharmaceuticals. “I can’t just take out a symptom and target that with a drug and feel good about it. As I’ve been on the route of working with healing myself, I’m finding where I can combine my worlds. This feels like a much better fit for me [than working full-time as a nurse] because there’s a lot more focus on the emotional and spiritual aspect of things.”
Madison Margolin is DoubleBlind’s co-founder and managing editor.