Practitioner Profile | Wendy Wen, founder of The Herborium

"It is time we bring back old practices, to dedicate time and space for optimal restoration, relationship bonding with your new family and to tender kindly to your body and mind with acts of self-care."

What drew you to do this work?

My husband Al and I grew up in Cantonese households where making a warm bowl of soup was an expression of love from our mothers. Soups were on the dinner menu daily. It wasn’t until we both moved out of home that we realised how much we missed Mum’s soups and the amount of effort and care that was put into cooking a pot of soup. We definitely took that for granted when we were younger. We realised many people were experiencing the same feeling especially during COVID when travelling locally and internationally was restricted; and that is when we brought to life The Herborium. We wanted to bring you the nostalgia of soul soothing soups, conveniently-packaged, ready to cook and to fill your home with the aroma of comfort.

I also come from a family of healthcare practitioners, including myself, so deeply value the importance of health. My dad is a third-generation TCM practitioner currently still practicing in Melbourne who is also the expert behind our products. Since a young age, I have experienced first-hand the true healing powers of incorporating herbs and herbal soups into our diets. My parents, even till this day, have always kindly reminded us to eat certain foods, get adequate rest and maintain a good exercise regime to Yang Shen (养神), the practice of daily self-care to prevent disease and improve wellbeing. My dream with The Herborium is to not only to carry on our family TCM traditions but also keep TCM lifestyle and food therapy practices alive in this modern-day and age where pill-popping is commonly seen as the solution to all our illnesses. We know that Chinese herbs can be so intimidating, but we want to demystify and help you understand the benefits of Chinese herbs.

What do you enjoy the most about your work?

The best part has been to reconnect with my culture and roots through The Herborium. Being a first generation Australian born Chinese, I went through a phase of being lost in a cultural and social gap as a child. Attempting to adopt an Australian culture seemed like the ‘cool’ thing to do as I tried to dampen down the ‘Chinese’ part of me. As I have grown, I have reaffirmed my identity and embraced the strong Chinese values that are deeply embedded within me. Our parents and grandparents had this valuable, innate knowledge around food therapy based on TCM principles that I hope to be able to continue to pass on for generations to come to the broader community.

What is the most memorable thing you can tell someone about your job?

Definitely the connections I have developed with our community and the feedback we get on our products. The happiest moments I remember are the stories that are shared with me when someone cooks one of our blends. From comments like "this is just like how my Mum made this soup!" to "thank you for making this postpartum herbal package possible for new mums to be" and "thank you for making TCM more accessible and attractive to younger people", these are the initial comments that take us into a deeper conversation and exploration into ancient TCM traditions.

What is the most memorable thing you can tell someone about your job?

To be honest, when I first started The Herborium, I didn’t have much of a focus on postpartum herbal packages. But I do remember, the first customer who enquired had an expected due date the same day as my birthday. And from there, it was a light bulb moment for The Herborium and postpartum packages began to flourish!

Based on your area of expertise, what can you share with our followers around postpartum care?

Postpartum care, or more traditionally called confinement or ‘sitting the month’ in Chinese culture has always been considered an imperative time devoted to resting, healing and nourishing to ensure good health in the future. In a society that applies pressure from all sides to bounce back as quickly as possible, the important of slowing down, resting and recovering is so underestimated. In TCM, if a mother neglects their recovery, she may experience a yin deficiency, resulting in poor recovery physically & mentally and risks her health in the future. It has also been referred to as the ‘golden’ month as it is believed to a time to heal old illnesses.

Based on your area of expertise, what can you share with our followers around postpartum care?

And while there are many extreme traditions people may or may not follow in this modern age, such as not being about to wash your hair, shower, drink cold water or no housework, the three things I cannot stress enough are:

1. The importance of keeping your body warm

2. Be gentle with yourself and prioritise rest

3. Plan and invest in your nourishment throughout your postpartum period.

In TCM, food is considered medicine and when chosen carefully, is a source of warmth for the body. Foods that are warm and moist like bone broths and herbal soups are ideal during your postpartum period. This is why we created our Postpartum Herbal Healing Package as an easy way to replenish your body with the foundations and nutrients it needs for physical and mental recovery after the rigours of birth.

See our Instagram post here.

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