ABOUT US: THOMAS

A bit more about Thomas

Thomas Avery Garran has been studying herbal medicine since 1989 and is a graduate of the American School of Herbalism as a direct student of Christopher Hobbs and Michael Tierra from 1992-96. He became licensed to practice Chinese medicine in the United States in 1996 and later attended Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, receiving his Masters of Science of Chinese Medicine degree in 1999. Thomas maintained a full-time practice in Chinese medicine from 1996 until moving to China in 2008. From 2004-2007 he taught in the Herbology Department at the Institute of Clinical Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, and in 2005 became the head of the department. During that time, he also served as an adviser to the John Burns School of Medicine, Department of Alternative Medicine at the University of Hawai’i.

In 2007 he began to think more about research in the field of medicinal plants, and began pursuing PhD studies in the Ethnobotany section of Department of Botany at the University of Hawai’i. This was cut short in December of 2008 when he moved to Beijing full-time. Thomas also studied Chinese language and literature at the University of Hawai’i as well as the Beijing Language and Culture University and is fluent in Mandarin Chinese.

In 2010, Thomas and his wife founded and manage the Autumn Reine Learning Garden, an ecological garden with medicinal plants from around the world, but unfortunately, they lost the land to government policy at the end of 2018. The learning garden was a 2/5 of an acre area within a 30 acre farm. Thomas also gardens a 1/6 acre of organic vegetables, 1/3 acre of research area, and the remaining area is an ecological organic farm managed by Thomas for the production of medicinal plants (for both domestic and export sales) and food for Thomas’ company, Herb Whisperer™. Thomas offers educational programs to adults, as well as children from local schools, teaching students the benefits of working with (not against) nature, and simple principles of herbal medicine.

Since living in China, he has done clinical studies with a number of Chinese medicine doctors and earned a PhD in Materia Medica studies and Plant Pharmacy at the China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences in Beijing: National Center for Materia Medica Resources and Daodi Herbs (the first non-Chinese recipient of this degree), and currently works with that institution in the area of ecological agriculture for growing Chinese medicinal plants. Thomas is also an adviser to the National Medicinal Plant Botanical Garden at the Institute of Medicinal Plant Development in Beijing. His current areas of research are daodi herbs and their cultivation using ecological agriculture, comparative research of Chinese and Western herbs, and ethnobotanical research of native Chinese medicinal plants. He is the author or co-author of a number of peer-reviewed scientific papers, and has authored portions of and been a reviewer for several monographs published by the American Herbal Pharmacopeia.

Thomas has been invited to lecture in the United States, Portugal, Brazil, China, and Taiwan. He is a founding member of the Committee for the Preservation of Chinese Medicine (Beijing) and has been recognized by the Chinese government as an expert in the field of Chinese medicine. Thomas is also a member of and current governing body member of the Chinese Society of Medicinal Botany.

Thomas has published widely in peer review scientific texts as well as authoring two books (and several articles) on the subject of integrating Western herbs into Chinese medicine, Western Herbs According to Tradition Chinese Medicine: A Practitioners Guide (2008) and Western Herbs in Chinese Medicine: Methodology & Materia Medica (2014). His work has been described as, “…the first truly authoritative work on understanding and using Western herbs based on the TCM model.” Z’ev Rosenberg, L.Ac. has said, “Thomas’ books is far and away the most advanced books on this topic.” And Eric Brand, L.Ac. has called his books, “…the best in this genre.”

In 2014, Thomas founded Passiflora Press where he published his second book (noted above), Chinese Herb Cultivation–Daodi Practices for Growing and Processing Chinese Herbs (2019), Chinese Medicine and COVID-19: Results and Reflections from China (Translated and edited by Shelley Ochs and Thomas Avery Garran, 2020, FREE ebook), and Fu Qingzhu’s Men’s Health: A Translation of the First Andrology Text in Chinese Medicine (forthcoming).

Thomas and his wife Holly are also founders of Herb Whisperer, a company focused on environmental and ecological literacy via its Learning Garden and farming consultancy program and also produces natural skincare products for the Chinese market. In late 2022, in anticipation for moving back to the United States, Thomas incorporated Herb Whisperer, Inc. in his home state of Massachusetts and in early 2023 purchased the East West School of Herbology from Michael and Lesley Tierra and became the executive director where he teaches and mentors students. The school was moved from its home in California to its new home and the new home of Herb Whisperer and Thomas and Holly in the foothills of the Berkshire mountains in Western Massachusetts where they are developing an herbal sanctuary and learning center.

Other than his busy schedule Thomas enjoys hiking, botanizing, gardening, plant photography, ice hockey, reading, and spending quiet time with his soul-mate and beloved wife.

Thomas with teachers and friends (left to right) Lesley Tierra, Roy Upton, Michael Tierra, and Thomas Avery Garran

Are you interested in becoming an herbalist?

We are excited to announce an upcoming course for beginners and intermediate students of herbal medicine and natural healing.