Master of Science in Herbal Medicine Alumni Jess Starwood

Jun 12, 2024 9:15:00 AM | herbal medicine Alumni Highlight: Author, Herbalist & Community Leader Jess Starwood

Read the journey of herbalist and community leader Jess Starwood, from starting an Apothecary to becoming an author and educator.

Meet the accomplished and passionate Jess Starwood! Jess is a graduate of ACHS’s Master of Science in Herbal Medicine program and is a current student in the Doctor of Science in Integrative Health program. When she was looking for a Herbal Medicine program, she decided on ACHS because, as a mother of two young daughters at the time, she needed to balance a home life in addition to her studies. Accreditation was also crucial in her college criteria, and she found that ACHS met her needs and standards. 

Jess is currently elevating her education in the Doctor of Science in Integrative Health program with ACHS. She plans to expand on her work in the Herbal Medicine field after earning her Doctorate degree. Read on to find out how Jess became interested in holistic health and wellness.

From a Hobby to a Wellness Business 

Jess Starwood holding a mushroomJess recalls being interested in nature and plants ever since she was a child. This interest blossomed into a passion project that has now extended far beyond a hobby into a fruitful business.

Jess’s business began as an Apothecary, focused on selling products that featured local wild-harvested herbs and flavors. At the same time, she also started leading plant walks, where she noticed that students were getting much more out of her services by actually going outside and learning about their surroundings firsthand rather than just purchasing a tincture or tea. 


Focusing on Her Community

Jess’s products were very popular, but it came to the point where she needed to dedicate all of her time to growing the business and getting into manufacturing on a larger scale. She felt motivated to serve her community in a different way. She closed down the Apothecary and transitioned to creating classes and resources for her community, where she felt she was having the greatest impact. Her programs have many offerings and work with small groups in a variety of different settings, ranging from wild food foraging, and herb walks to conducting public speaking events and virtual lectures.  

The group events foster a lasting sense of community for her students. Jess believes in ethical harvesting practices and spreads the word about land conservancy. She’s always delighted when clients make the connection that they’re one with nature. She’ll often witness this moment when herbs are used in a culinary way. Eating and drinking plants and herbs brings a new awareness to this connection. 


Accomplished Author and Beyond

Jess Starwood holding a mushroomIn addition to running a busy household and operating her businesses, Jess also works as an Outreach Coordinator with the Mycota Lab, a mycological DNA laboratory, and is the Event Organizer with Mycena Events.

Jess’s impressive resume does not stop there. She is the author of "Mushroom Wonderland: A Forager's Guide to Finding, Identifying and Using More than 25 Wild Fungi" which was published in 2021. She also serves on the board of the Los Angeles Mycological Society and the Arizona Mushroom Society. 

Jess is a contributing member of the North American Mycological Association. She has been nominated for President of the Los Angeles Mycological Society and is editor of the academic journal McIlvainea, The Journal of American Mycology, published by the North American Mycological Association. 


Client Testimonials

Jess’s clients and students rave about her offerings. One client beamed: “As someone who already had a basic knowledge of plants, this class filled in all the holes that I needed to fill and gave me the courage to forage confidently. It's a magical experience to dine "forest to table" and to use wild ingredients to experiment in the kitchen. Pickles, preserves, infusions, salads, beverages, elixirs, etc. Jess will teach you in detail how to make them and how to safely and ethically forage for your ingredients. Sidewalks, parks, nature trails, and hillsides will forever transform before your eyes, and plants previously thought of as weeds will suddenly have a purpose. You will come to appreciate the abundance and wild flavors all around you. If you're as lucky as me, you will also get to meet some of the most wonderful and extraordinary people with whom you will learn and grow.”


A Proponent of Hands-On Learning

Jess loved the experiential and sensory components of her classes with ACHS. She particularly enjoyed a class that encouraged her to go out into the field. She believes the hands-on component of learning is extremely important and encourages students to get outside and touch the plants and herbs as they learn about them in class. 

Jess’s advice to peers is to "never stop learning." She believes that formal education is important, but it's how you continue the journey afterward that can really take your career further. She advises others to get curious, find topics and specialties that they’re passionate about, and keep going. Jess also believes in getting involved in your community and finding collaborators rather than competitors. She saysit’s important to  “understand who your clients are, what they really need, and what makes them excited to change their lives. Share in their successes.”

The ACHS community wishes Jess all the best in the Doctor of Science in Integrative Health program. We plan to follow her journey to keep up with her many current and future accomplishments.

You can follow Jess and learn about upcoming events on her website:


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This article is for informational purposes only. Please contact ACHS Admissions at or 800-487-8839 for additional information and to apply for admission. Graduation from any ACHS program does not confer a license to practice medicine. ACHS graduates do not claim to treat, diagnose, cure, or prescribe. Please note that professional success is achieved by a number of factors beyond education and experience, including soft skills, work ethic, integrity, and other skills that may not be developed through education and training alone. Not all graduates will achieve the career outcomes provided as examples in this article and other ACHS marketing materials. 

American College of Healthcare Sciences

Written By: American College of Healthcare Sciences

ACHS's mission is to lead the advancement of evidence-based, integrative health and wellness education through experiential online learning and sustainable practices. This includes sharing helpful, informative, holistic healthcare articles on the ACHS Health and Wellness Blog.