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The healing power of pine
Classes on the essential oils of evergreen plants being offered
Sheridan Semple
Sheridan Semple and her evergreen trees. Courtesy photo

Humans relied on plants to treat injuries and ailments long before modern pharmacology. Evergreen trees were widely known among Native American tribes for their usefulness in this arena. 

This summer, Valley resident Sheridan Semple will again be teaching her unique classes on the healing powers of evergreen plants. Citing a deep connection with local flora and fauna, Semple, who holds several certificates in healing arts, enthusiastically shares her knowledge with others.

Colorado Plants Heal: The Evergreens will be featured at the True Nature Healing Arts campus, 100 N. 3rd St. in Carbondale, on May 11. Aromatherapy, nutrition and holistic health consultations combine to create a full-time profession for Semple. She earns her living helping people heal themselves with natural remedies.

If the phrase “new age healing” makes your eyes roll, this probably isn’t the class for you. However, there is some non-anecdotal evidence to support the medicinal efficacy of holistic claims. 

The most frequently documented panacea is salicin. Derived from the bark of the Quaking Aspen tree (Populous tremuloides), salicin closely resembles the compound of modern day aspirin. According to the Native American Ethnobotany Database (, salicin was used for everything from headaches to menstrual cramps.

Before you throw out the contents of your medicine cabinet, know that salicin may also cause an allergic skin reaction as one of many possible side effects.

Semple, who lives in Aspen, has been in and out of the Roaring Fork Valley since 1976. Originally arriving at age 8 for third grade and staying here through high school in Aspen, she returned to Santa Cruz for a degree in fine art – predominantly ceramic sculpture. Returning to Colorado again after college, she then spent 10 years in Santa Barbara. It was during this time, when the fiscal futility of a fine arts degree set in, that she became a new age health and medicine professional.

In 2005, Semple finally settled in Aspen. Seven years later she married esteemed Aspen Daily News columnist and professional ski bum, Lorenzo “Lo” Semple.

Her class, “Colorado Plants Heal: The Evergreens” will primarily focus on trees prevalent in the Carbondale area. These include Ponderosa Pine,  Piñon Pine, Blue Spruce and Douglas Fir. Semple also will be discussing the delicious and edible pine nuts. Essential oils — a natural oil typically obtained by distillation and having the characteristic fragrance of the plant or other source from which it is extracted — are one of Semple’s specialties and will also be brought up in the class. 

She started teaching about local plants’ medicinal qualities during the summer of June 2017. This will be her seventh class on evergreens. 

It was Semple’s mother who first sparked interest in alternative medicine within her. Unable or unwilling to accept western medical doctors’ diagnoses of three ailments – root canals, tonsillitis and scoliosis – her mom sought out alternative practitioners. Always keeping an open mind with nutrition and testing new diets in the family home laid the foundation for Semple’s healing philosophies to be put into practice.

Semple said, “I’m not interested in treating anything major or significant. It’s not in my scope of practice.” Once a potential client has consulted with a licensed medical doctor, and received a full diagnosis, then they will begin with treatments. Common colds and digestion discomfort are afflictions with which she routinely deals.  

As an adjunct to an MD, she has found success in helping people work through their issues naturally. Semple’s clients are primarily women: “Men will come if something is starting to get in the way of their lifestyle,” she said. 

According to Semple, women are more receptive to probing what ails them when it first happens, whereas men will cope with the malady until it affects their family life, work or play. 

Colorado Plants Heal: 
The Evergreens

Saturday, May 11

2:30-4:30 p.m.

True Nature Healing Arts

100 N. 3rd St., Carbondale