Healthy at Home
Lion’s Tooth Herbs owner Annie Doran is on a mission to show Charleston the healing power of plants, and she’s making the herbal medicine practices she’s studied for years more approachable with easy-to-use products and a mobile botanical bar serving drinks designed to actually make you feel better the next day.
Doran started Lion’s Tooth in 2017, selling teas, medicinal tinctures, seasonal syrups and mixers through an online shop with descriptions explaining the health benefits of each product. Her “chill zone” tincture, for instance, aims to relax customers with herbs like skullcap (in the mint family) and blue vervain, while Lion’s Tooth’s elderberry syrup — one of its most popular products — is said to protect the body from acute illnesses.
“The way I designed all of my stuff, I really tried to make it as simple and close to something you already know as possible,” Doran said. “I feel like this rise in the herbal medicine businesses is kind of only staying with certain people who are really into that kind of thing, when really it’s something that we had as part of our culture until really recently.”
The company was named Lion’s Tooth Apothecary until last week, when Doran rebranded to Lion’s Tooth Herbs after finding that many people were confused by the term “apothecary,” which describes a person who prepares and sells drugs for medicinal purposes. Historically, plants and herbs were the main remedies for most illnesses.
These days, pharmacists prepare and sell drugs prescribed by doctors, but herbal apothecaries are still around and gaining popularity, as folks learn to use plants, herbs, tinctures and creams to relieve common symptoms. Like most apothecary companies, Lion’s Tooth’s products are not approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration, but a full list of ingredients can be found online.
Doran believes in the benefits plants and herbs can have on the body after years of researching herbal medicine, which became a passion when she was a young adult.
“I’ve always been fascinated by the idea that you could make something from nature,” said Doran, who grew up in Mount Pleasant. “I started taking some classes and ended up going to herb school out in Eugene, Oregon, at the Columbines School of Botanical Studies.”
After her schooling, Doran came back to Charleston with Lion’s Tooth’s business model front of mind. She wouldn’t just sell items online — Doran wanted to personally introduce her products to the Lowcountry.
“I started doing a pop-up elixir bar. I know the term elixir can be confusing — I also call it a potion or botanical bar,” Doran said. “The pop-up bar is a largely alcohol-free herbal bar where I make different drinks.”
In the past, Doran has featured drinks like the Love Parade, an infusion of rose, damiana and passion flower that’s mixed with vanilla extract and blood orange juice and served with seltzer over ice. The drink is “relaxing, sensual and great for easing anxieties and being present in the moment,” Doran said.
“They all have different intentions — some of them are for energy, some of them are to relax you or clear your mind. Every drink is designed with a certain intention.”
The pandemic has forced Doran to rely on the retail side of her business, which has grown, she said, but the botanical bar will be a big focus moving forward.
“I would love to be able to take my bar to more festivals, weddings and larger events eventually once we’re able to do things like that,” she said. “I really actually designed the bar for festivals because when you’re at a festival for three or four days, sometimes you just want something that’s really refreshing and good for you.”
While she awaits the return of larger in-person events, Doran wants to educate Lion’s Tooth customers with virtual classes like an upcoming session on Feb. 27, when she’ll teach folks how to make their own botanical cocktails and mocktails.
“I think it’s really important for people to be able to make healthy herbal goods at home. There’s actually so many things you can make from stuff you already have in your kitchen,” she said. “Food is medicine and herbs are food.”