Policewoman fights illnesses with plants

Becky Bishop with her medicinal herbs. She taught her first class under the guidance of expert herbalist Darryl Patton.

Sherry Kughn

Jacksonville police officer, Becky Bishop, has a special weapon against illnesses, such as flu or colds. She builds her immune system with medicinal herbs. Recently, she taught her first class under the guidance of expert herbalist Darryl Patton.

“He is my friend and mentor,” Bishop said. “I have known him for six years.”

Bishop is a naturalist. She loves being in the forest and foraging for plants and mushrooms. Her favorite find is elderberries, which are located in nearby forests during the summer months. The plant grows on a bush that has tiny, purple berries. She makes a syrup out of the berries for taste, nutrition, and medicinal reasons.

“I boil them down to a juice, strain them, and add sugar or honey,” she said. “Then I boil them more to make a syrup.”

She likes doing the same with kudzu blossoms.

Bishop’s favorite herb to eat is cilantro. She likes to wash it with cold water, chop it, and sprinkle it on top of Mexican dishes. She also likes to pick and cook mushrooms but warns that care must be taken to avoid those that are toxic.

Bishop not only focuses on her own health, but she gives advice to family and friends who express their concerns about the side effects of prescription drugs. Often, she has an alternative, natural recommendation for them.

“I like self-sufficiency,” Bishop said. “I have an interest in doing things the old way.”

Her interests include history, quilting, bee-keeping, and gardening.

Bishop came to Jacksonville in 2006 to study for a degree in criminal justice and writing. She loved the area and decided to make it her home. Springtime is near, and she admits to getting excited over the thoughts of getting in her garden, planting herbs, and raising chickens. “I’m all about getting ready for spring.”

Email Sherry at sherrykug@hotmail.com.