Urbana store offers beads, classes and alternative medicine

Catherine Novak can identify at least 10 medicinal or edible plants within a block-and-a-half walk from her shop in downtown Urbana.

Novak opened her shop, Beads N Botanicals, 117 N. Broadway Ave., partly to share this knowledge with others, as well as to educate people about alternative forms of medicine.

“It gives people a sense of resources that they have in their own backyard that you don’t even think about,” Novak said. “A lot of people call plants ‘weeds’ that are actually very good medicinal and edible plants.”

Alternative medicine is something Novak has always been drawn to, an interest that began with gardening, Novak said.

Beads N Botanicals offers products ranging from medicinal herbs and healing oils to jewelry and beading supplies, as well as incense, artwork and rocks with unique health properties. Novak also offers services at the shop, including tarot readings, perfume blending, medicinal herb classes, jewelry-making classes and hypnotherapy sessions.

Ethel Wombles was a customer of Novak’s at her shop in Hoopeston, Ill., and said she liked what Novak offered so much that she followed her to Urbana and now helps out in the shop.

“I like the things she does, and we became good friends,” Wombles said.

She said while she does not have any formal training like Novak does, she has learned about the herbs and other products over the years through interacting with the customers and doing a lot of reading.

“Any reason the shop is organized has a lot to do with Ethel,” Novak said.

As a certified medicinal herbalist, Novak said she believes medicinal herbs have an advantage over allopathic, or traditional medicine.

“Allopathic medicine has a tendency to deal with symptoms rather than people,” Novak said.

“Holistic medicine, under the best circumstances, deals with the whole person.”

In addition, Novak said since herbal medicine is natural, it takes to human bodies better than traditional medicine.

“Our bodies have an innate capacity for healing themselves, so when you work with herbs that are naturally derived materials,” Novak said.

She said she acknowledges, however, that traditional medicine does have its place, and she never pushes people to rely solely on herbal medicine. She said she also cautions her customers of the time that has to be put into gathering herbs and making teas versus popping pills.

Novak said she also explains to people that while herbs do have medicinal and healing properties, they are not magic, and people do need to take control of their own well-being.

“You can do things to change your health, and I believe in miracles, but you have to take some positive steps,” Novak said.

She said even the seemingly unrelated products in the shop can have a profound effect on a person’s health.

“I find if you do something that makes you feel good about what you’re accomplishing in life, that creates better health,” Novak said.