Years ago, When De Linda Brady was suffering from seemingly endless respiratory issues, she never would have guessed that her ailments would one day lead to her life’s passion.
Asthma, bronchitis, allergies, a sinus infection that led to surgery — Brady felt sentenced to a life of discomfort, and it didn’t help that her physician told her she’d better “learn to live with it.”
To make matters worse, Brady — then a Bay Area secretary — began to experience severe back and neck pain.
“I had years of night terrors because I thought it would last forever,” she said. “Sometimes I was in tears at work.”
One day, while in a doctor’s waiting room at one of her many appointments, a magazine suddenly caught her eye.
“It was all natural stuff — something I was pretty unfamiliar with,” said Brady. “It sparked my interest. I wondered if there was a natural alternative to the antibiotics I’d been taking.”
It turns out the magazine Brady picked up was a newsletter published by Michael T. Murray, considered to be one of the world’s leading authorities on natural medicine. Murray has published more than 30 books featuring natural approaches to health.
“That was 1989. It got me started on my journey of researching natural alternatives,” said Brady. “Don’t get me wrong — there is definitely a place for prescription drugs, but I was taking too many. It was too hard on my system.”
Brady began to see improvements in her health after researching and experimenting with alternative options, such as echinacea and anti-inflammatory herbs.
Yet in 1997, Brady was thrown yet another curve ball. Her secretarial position was down-sized. Her reaction? Panic, stress and hurt, she said.
“I said to my chiropractor, ‘What am I going to do?’ and he said, ‘The question is, “What do you want to do?”’”
That opened the door of possibility, and eventually Brady realized she wanted to work in a natural health food store.
She landed a job at Apple Health Foods in Redwood City and worked there for the next six years. Every day on the job was an opportunity to learn more.
In 2006, Brady and her husband relocated to Nevada County and started a new chapter.
“I really wanted to move to a place where we could afford to open a small store,” she said. “I was really nervous when the store opened — I knew no one.”
Seven years later, The Healing Garden in Alta Sierra is still the only store of its kind in the southern portion of the county. Locals pop in regularly, looking for just the right herbs, flower essences, teas, amino acids, homeopathic remedies, beauty products, greeting cards, candles, gifts and more.
Brady has become a local resource when it comes to recommending natural alternatives. On Wednesday, a customer stopped in to get a refill for a homeopathic remedy that enabled her to get off a prescription sleep aid.
“It’s important to determine what’s right for your body, not everyone else,” Brady advised. “Knowledge really is the key to better health. I wish people would give nature a chance — the bulk of all drugs comes from plants.”
Facing the challenges of a small-business owner in a flailing economy, Brady just hopes she can continue doing what she loves six days a week.
“The most rewarding part of my job is knowing I’ve helped someone with a difficult issue,” she said. “I enjoy getting to know customers — I love finding that one thing that makes a real difference in someone’s life.”
To contact staff writer Cory Fisher, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4203.
“It sparked my interest. I wondered if there was a natural alternative to the antibiotics I’d been taking.”
— De Linda Brady