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District Herbs- Co-Founder Ebony Payne, LMT, Clinical Herbalist

Born and raised in Washington DC, Ebony Payne is a 2011 graduate of Potomac Massage Training Institute with over 7 years of experience as a licensed massage therapist, specializing in myofascial therapy. She began studying traditional herbal medicine in 2013 at the Mid-Atlantic School of Herbalism with clinical herbalists including Claudia Joy Wingo, the director of the three year program.

Inspired by an experience with a single cup of ginger tea that eased a severe bout of digestive pain, Ebony was drawn to learning more about the medicinal uses of plants and food. While studying under practitioners of Western and Ayurvedic herbal traditions, she first conceptualized District Herbs as a second year student intending to bring herbal medicine into her massage therapy practice.

At the same time that her herbal studies began, another herbal movement was underway. The medicinal uses of cannabis and hemp were beginning to be formally recognized nationwide including in Washington DC. As Ebony saw more and more people take a sudden interest in plant medicine, the impact and importance the legitimization of cannabis and hemp would have for herbal medicine as a whole immediately became evident.

After graduating from the Mid-Atlantic School of Herbalism in 2016, Ebony set out to connect people to the full scope of traditional herbal medicine by harnessing the excitement around the rise of cannabis and hemp. Knowing that she would need an expert and mentor to carry this vision to success, Ebony enlisted the help of Claudia Joy Wingo to co-found District Herbs into the company it is today. The two are excited to bring their line of medicinal loose leaf teas and hemp salve for pain relief to the community and though the journey has been long, it has only just begun.

Co-Founder- Claudia Joy Wingo, MPH, RN, FNHAA, Clinical Herbalist

Claudia Joy Wingo brings over 40 years of global experience in the herbal medicine and health care fields. Born in Washington DC to a botanist father and raised on her grandmother's handcrafted root teas in the Ozark Mountains, Claudia's entire life has been steeped in healing plants. As a teenager of the 70s, she began studying herbal medicine at Smile Herb Shop in College Park, MD where she eventually founded the Mid-Atlantic School of Herbalism in 2012. Embarking on a lifelong journey of world travel and study after completing training as a chef in the US and Europe, she traveled to Israel to apprentice under a Yemenite Unani Tibb practitioner to study medical botany. She continued her integrative health education in Australia, earning diplomas in Botanical Medicine, Nutrition and Therapeutic Bodywork from NSW College of Natural Therapies in 1981.

Claudia became a registered nurse after completing training at Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children in Sydney, Australia in 1984. She went on to practice hospital and community-based nursing in Australia as well as working as a public health nurse, supervising pediatric and maternal health clinics in Central America, Papua New Guinea and Bangladesh. She holds a Bachelor's of Applied Science from University of Sydney, a Naturalist Certification from the USDA Graduate School, a Post Graduate Diploma in Tropical Medicine and a Master's of Public Health (MPH) from James Cook University.

In addition to bringing her talents and wisdom to District Herbs, Claudia is currently the Department Chair of Health Promotion at Maryland University of Integrative Health and Director of Mid-Atlantic School of Herbalism. She is also an adjunct professor for Georgetown University's Complementary and Alternative Medicine graduate program and has served on the executive board of the Rachel Carson Council for the past nine years. Claudia is driven by her passion for integrative and herbal medicine, educating the next generation of leading herbalists and wellness practitioners, and above all, empowering others with the knowledge to care for their own health.

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