MATCHA MATE Q & A with Reece Carter
1. Tell us a bit about what it means to be "Herb Nerd" and how you got to this point in your life?
‘Herb Nerd’ was actually a nickname my mate Lola gave me. As I moved through my naturopathy degree, I became more and more obsessed with growing and blending my own herbal medicine. I feel sorry for my poor housemates over the years. Every time they’d go to the pantry or the fridge, they’d be faced with a mountain of jars filled with my brews, and the front yard was quickly turned from courtyard in to an inner-city jungle. I’ve always been gardening and cooking, right from when I was a kid in country WA. It’s just lucky that I grew up to study something that allowed me to combine all the passions in one – which brought me to where I am now!
2. Before we go any further, our self interest demands we ask you to explain from a naturopath's perspective what the benefits of consuming green tea are and why more people should get on the bandwagon?
Green tea is one of those ingredients that gets tested for all sorts of benefits – from immunity to metabolism – and every time it comes up trumps. It’s loaded with xanthines and epigallocatechin gallate (try saying that ten times quickly) that are responsible for most of its medicinal benefits. I even recommend green tea on the skin to keep pimples at bay.
3. Three biggest challenges of running your own business?
I think the hardest thing is just not feeling overwhelmed. I still pull back every now and again and remind myself to breathe. Running a small business means not just being an expert in your trade, but also learning the ropes in bookkeeping, marketing, design – the lot! Finding the time to do all that is a pretty massive challenge in itself. As I’ve progressed, I’ve joined forces with a bunch of likeminded people who have skills to complement mine. Putting together the right team who are talented and share my vision has been the most important part of making this work. Lastly, I think the most challenging thing of all is believing in yourself. Doubt creeps in all the time: am I good enough? Does anybody care about my mission? What if it falls through? But ultimately, there’s no alternative for me, no back up plan. I simple can’t see myself doing anything other than this.
4. Three highlight moments of your Herb Nerd journey so far?
Releasing my loose-leaf sleep blend ‘Lights Out’ was pretty phenomenal. I remember when orders started pouring in, then a few days later the feedback and grateful emails followed. It blew my mind that people loved it as much as I did. I got the same kind of feeling when we opened the Naturopathic Collective of Australia (NCA) straight out of college, and started to make real change in our clients’ health. Lastly, I think the most recent highlight was the opportunity I got in Los Angeles to film and film my own content – my herb-nerdisms – and share that with you all.
5. What does a typical day in the office look like for you?
There is never a typical day at the moment. When I’m taking consults, it’s usually back to back sessions, but I’m only doing that one or two days a week at the moment. I’m lucky enough to get to spend other days working from my favourite cafes, writing health articles for GQ, Wellspring, Lorna Jane – and others! Then on another day I’ll be in the garden filming some of my favourite remedy recipes, before taking on a natural health wellness presentation at a workplace somewhere to round out the week. The best thing about what I do is how varied it is – I can never ever get bored!
6. Your day on a plate?
Working out comes first (training before breakfast helps boost natural growth hormone release) then it’s a big nutritious breakfast. If I have time, it’ll be eggs and loads of greens, but if I’m on the run I always have a jar of overnight oats waiting in the fridge. Lime and coconut is my current favourite flavour combo. I’ll follow that with my morning dose of tonic herbs. Licorice, withania, and Siberian ginseng are among my favourites, but the blend changes week to week based on my needs. Lunches and dinners are usually meals from my Four-Week Wellness plan, or something very similar. Grilled chicken or pistachio ‘crumbed’ fish is accompanied by quinoa and brightly coloured veggies. Eating the rainbow is the easiest way to hit all of your nutritional targets without having to think it through too much. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, so my snacks and treats are always savouries: home made spiced nuts or grilled haloumi are current faves. I’m also a total gym junkie, so will make a low-GI smoothie packed with protein at least once or twice a day. As you can see, I eat a lot.
7. Favourite form of exercise?
Like my food, I like to keep exercise varied. I’ll lift weights four times a week, but my other two workouts change all the time. I like a good circuit class to get my heart rate up, or if my world is a bit chaotic I find swimming very calming – plus it just strips the fat off me I’ve noticed.
8. One item you can't live without?
A notepad and pen. I’m a writer at heart, and don’t go anywhere unless I have paper and a pen should I need it. The other thing I can’t go for long without – although it’s not an item per se – is access to a liquid herbal dispensary. Ready-made supplements are fine, but I like the freedom of combining all my favourite herbs from the Western, Chinese, and Ayurvedic traditions to create a blend I know will do just what I want it to.
9. Favourite way to relax and combat stress?
I’ve touched on them both already, but swimming and writing are my two therapies. Swimming helps banish stress, and writing lets me order chaotic thoughts. A good shot of schisandra doesn’t go astray either.
10. Three people who inspire you?
I’ve watched my friend Lola Berry go from strength to strength in the years that I’ve known her, and I don’t think I’d be where I am today if she hadn’t shown me how to turn dreams into reality. Love that woman. James Wong is another big inspiration to me. He’s a British ethnobotanist whose herbal remedies I would recreate long before I learned the skills to create my own. Lastly, my biggest inspiration is my mum. She’s the strongest person on the planet.
11. Three absolute non-negotiables for health, wellbeing and nutrition that you advise anyone you consult?
Cutting sugars and refined carbohydrates really is the best dietary change that most people can make. A lot of people eliminate foods unnecessarily, but these guys really are worth limiting as much as possible. Secondly, retrain yourself on how you think of food. Your groceries should be made mostly, if not entirely, from the items you can find around the perimeter of a supermarket: fruits, vegetables, meats, raw nuts and seeds, herbs, and spices. My final tip, and it carries on from the one above, is to learn to cook for yourself. If you can cook, you have all the skills to choose how you nourish your body.
12. What's next for Reece Carter?
I’ve recently moved home from LA and couldn’t be more excited to be back in Australia. I’ll be calling Sydney home in the next few months, and have some very exciting things coming up. Some of them I can’t reveal just yet, but there’s one biggie that I can: I’m about to launch my first ever liquid herbal tonic. It’s taken a year to get up and running, and has approval from the Therapeutic Goods Administration to be sold as a medicine here in Australia. It’s pure, high-dose Chinese Qi herbs for overall wellness and vitality, and means that people can easily start their day the way I do: with a shot of herbie goodness. It will be available in the next two months, so watch this space!