Jungle Mama was a pandemic business, born in a time that people desperately needed natural healing support and has gone on to provide herbal remedies, nutrition education, and counseling service to many. Its founder, Mara Cherry, is a clinical nutrition student, medicine woman, and plant lover.
Mara affirms that “alternative medicine” is the original medicine that has simply been overshadowed and suppressed by “conventional medicine” and founded Jungle Mama to help reconnect people to their ancestral healing practices.
Being a black woman raised in America, she has dealt with some of the common medical conditions for women of color — not to mention their overall treatment by conventional medicine — and are her first priority in her healing practice. Although this is her area of focus, she is passionate about enabling everyone to free themselves of health issues and to have a better quality of life. Mara sits down with us to share some of the routines and rituals that have kept her grounded and in tune with the natural world over the past few years.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about Jungle Mama and how it came to be?
A: Jungle Mama, naked and unashamed, was inspired by an interview with the famous herbalist, Dr. Sebi. He’s had such an impact on my life and the many lives of all that he’s influenced. In this interview, he spoke about his mama who lived in the jungle in Africa, natural and happy. She lived without any clothes, naked and unashamed. He made a point to highlight that she didn’t have any clothes, grocery stores, or hospitals, but most importantly…she didn’t have any disease. The birth of Jungle Mama was during the labor of a pandemic. Through Jungle Mama, I wanted to reconnect people to our mama in the jungle. Return home. Come back to mama where there’s an array of herbs here for us to support our healing.
Q: Do you have a consistent daily AM and/or PM routine? Or do you mix it up?
A: I absolutely have my own rituals that play such an important role in my mental, physical, and spiritual health. After rising, I start my day off by cleansing my space to establish mental clarity. This is essential for setting myself up for success that day. It’s difficult for me to make my affirmations and map out my day with a cluttered space. I make my bed, clean my floors, laundry etc. Then I burn my sage, smudge, and set my intentions. And we cannot forget the tea time! My favorite tea to enjoy in the AM is my Magic Mineral Mud, which is Jungle Mama’s coffee alternative. It has such a rich and warm flavor! Plus, it’s abundant in micronutrients so it curves food cravings. At night, I have a similar routine, but I’d love to improve it. Currently, once I’m ready for bed, I light incense and smudge sage. If I’m having trouble falling asleep, typically due to my mind racing, I make Jungle Mama’s Somni tea and I get super calm. I also tend to have more vivid dreams. I’d love to get to the point where I am meditating and reading before bed. As someone with anxiety, I feel it’s useful to practice breathing exercises like in meditation because those who do have anxiety tend to forget to take full breaths during the day. Once I add this to my routine, I feel that it’ll improve my sleep and I’ll feel more rested when I wake up.
Q: How does the natural world support your modern life?
A: The natural world is so critical in my modern life! It is what keeps me grounded and centered. It is so easy to lose yourself and get out of alignment with your purpose. I surround myself with nature in my home. Unconsciously, we experience quite a negative impact from living in a precisely measured box with other man-made objects that are not alive. We start disconnecting from Mother Nature. This is why having plants in my home is not only beneficial to my health, but my spirituality. Crystals are also everywhere in my home. They are my energy filters constantly filtering through the negativity and purifying my space. And I cannot forget to highlight what has been the greatest impact in my modern life, herbs. Living in a time when our original form of medicine is considered the “alternative” while being sold drugs that are foreign to our bodies is challenging for me. In conventional medicine, the intention of quieting the symptoms that are trying to alert us that there is something wrong or off within the body — seems counterproductive to me.
Q: Do you have any rituals that you practice daily, weekly, or monthly?
A: On a daily basis, aromatherapy is my necessity. You name it, I use it! All natural forms of aromatherapy. I love essential oils, candles, incense, palo santo, sage, etc. This has been incredibly supportive in relieving and managing my anxiety. I also like to receive spiritual readings whenever I feel disconnected or not intune with myself. I like to get some help in realigning and tapping into spirit. The reading helps me connect with my inner self and my ancestors to give me some wisdom and perspective. This has been especially helpful whenever I am having a major transition in my life or the seasons are changing. About every other month, I practice fasting. The most common fast I do is a liquid fast for about three to five days. In my liquid fast, I drink one gallon of spring water, herbal tea, and maybe some coconut water. The herbal tea is amazing while fasting. It gives my body the nutrients it’s lacking due to not eating any foods. When done correctly, fasting can absolutely be beneficial health-wise. But I fast more so for mental clarity. As I am transitioning to a different stage in life or if I am feeling off center, fasting gives me the opportunity to focus and have self-discipline.
Q: Are there any particular foods or botanicals that align with your beauty routine or self-care practice?
A: It’s funny because I feel that most people want a cream, oil, or serum that will topically make their hair and skin super healthy, but I like to focus on the inside. Internally, the main causes of acne are generally digestive issues, the body isn’t properly detoxing, or a hormonal imbalance. If a person is aware of what is triggering their acne or skin condition, then they can utilize certain herbs that are helpful in that specific healing. For example, if someone has issues with their liver, which is important in the detoxing process and can show up as acne when not functioning properly, then herbs that support a liver cleanse can positively impact that person’s skin. I feel like we rarely talk about the foods and herbs that assist in hair and skin health. Plus, it is a wonderful self-care practice to cater to your internal health. Personally, I love to drink burdock root tea for my skin health. When I am consistent in drinking that tea everyday, I can tell. My skin is so smooth and if I have any scarring on my face it clears up quickly. Burdock root is famous for treating skin conditions, which is why I offer this herb in my online store as well. So many people suffer from eczema or psoriasis and get put on hormone treatment. Sea moss is like magic when it comes to skin. For this, I like to apply topically as well as consume it. At home, I make a sea moss face mask and it’s incredible! My skin is glowing and supple to the touch. Burdock root and sea moss are just to name a few when it comes to skin health. For hair health, I always recommend Amla or Indian gooseberry powder. It’s high in antioxidants and iron! When addressing hair health, people should look for herbs that promote blood circulation because poor blood circulation is a common cause of hair loss. As well as hormonal imbalance, nutritional deficiencies, etc. I personally believe that to see the best improvement we shouldn’t neglect the internal contributing factors.
Q: What do you wish people knew about the power of herbs?
A: The herbs are for the healing of the nation. We should feel comfort in turning to Mother Nature to provide us medicine ensuring our bodies function at their best. The irony is that although I am more of a spiritual person rather than religious, seeing herbs improve the health of myself and my customers feels like I am going to church. It’s like experiencing a testimony and confirms that everything has been created in perfection. I feel more connected to the source when I see these beautiful plants made by God treat my God-made body. I think we expect man-made drugs to benefit us the same way and it’s simply not the case. There is something magical about utilizing a plant that is made up of the same nutrients as our bodies. No one can do it better than nature. Everything is already created in perfection. For man to think he can improve upon perfection is quite arrogant.
Mara Cherry is a Clinical Nutrition Major, Medicine Woman, and Plant-Lover. She created Jungle Mama in 2020 to offer natural healing solutions that reconnect people to their ancestral healing practices. Connect with her on Instagram and shop her line at Jungle Mama Store.