OUR STORY

Hi Dianne and Elizabeth, It was great meeting you both yesterday! I’ve been using my Rapid Heal first aid cream for bug bites and heat rash, love it!!
Emily Dreblow
Owner, Soulflower Floral Design, San Francisco, CA”

Organic herbal medicine as part of a healthy, vibrant lifestyle is central to the vision of Finca Luz. With this in mind, we created our own brand of organic herbal remedies and skin care products under the name of Cloud Forest Botanicals.

How did this happen?

Cloud Forest Botanicals was born on Finca Luz in 2008. Within the rolling borders of Finca Luz, there are multiple micro ecosystems. It is possible within the nine acre farm to walk through a mountain hardwood forest of towering trees dripping with wild orchids, purple and red epiphytes, and shading an under-story of wild gingers and exotic heliconias, then to meander through a meadow planted with rows and rows of Arabica coffee trees, pick a bunch of bananas, and eat an orange or a guava; and then finally to sit by a reflecting pond in a natural wetlands where springs encourage wildlife to water, frogs to spawn and papyrus, elephant ears, lilies and God knows what else to grow with abandon.

It is the “God knows what else” that gave inspiration to Cloud Forest Botanicals.

We, Elizabeth Worley and Dianne Heidke, the founders of CFB, have been living here in Panama for years. Dianne, from Queensland, Australia, has always been keen on knowing plants, knowing their scientific as well as common names, and knowing what they were good for. She worked for years in a botanical research facility, learning the how, what and why of plants. Elizabeth, from the temperate rainforest of western North Carolina, spent much of her life wandering those mountains, learning the names of trees and wildflowers, and just generally feeling comfortable knowing where she was and what surrounded her. She once owned a health food store in Brevard, NC and studied herbal medicine with several Cherokee Indian medicine people and a few ‘granny women’ back in the mountains.

Bienvenidos! to Panama, where we found that many of the local trees and plants were unfamiliar and the local names of none were known. Oh, there was some familiarity with some…but out of context. What to make of a twenty-foot tall philodendron climbing the side of an unusual oak—only recognized as such because there are acorns on the ground? Clumps of wild elephant ears the size of Buicks, just hanging out in the valley? Hibiscus bushes two stories tall? Poinsetta trees? So, even the few identifiable plant varieties were strange and alien. Weird, really. And then, there was all this other vegetation that we just flat out didn’t know. We would walk around. What’s this? What’s this? And, that over there, what’s that? And, what’s it for?

elizabeth worley cloud forest botanicals
working on the cloud forest botanicals farm

Another teacher appeared. A tall, strange man—half gringo, half Panamanian—who had spent the last 30 odd years tromping through the jungles, studying with curanderos (local medicine doctors), formulating herbal remedies using plants that healed. Modern pharmaceuticals, he decided, were too expensive and often unavailable for many people living in the Highlands of Panama. Frank Gruber Chiari, reckoned that we were serious enough inquirers to share knowledge with. He helped us identify plants, gave us a few herbal remedy recipes, steered us in certain directions, and hinted at mysteries we were too “young” in the field of herbalism to know. He also introduced us to Doña Maria, the famous 101-year-old curandera living in the El Valle area of Panama. At a mere four and half feet tall, this tiny woman walked us through her 5 acre garden, pinched off leaves, pulled up shoots and roots for us to take home to grow, and gave sometimes explicit and sometimes mysteriously veiled instructions for their use. We were blessed to visit with her twice, and to gain both her trust and friendship, and that of her heir and grandson, Estaban.

There is an old Zen saying, “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.” In our case, teachers began to appear. Mountain people who had lived their whole lives here on Jaramillo helped us to identify plants. A common theme began to emerge as we wandered through gardens and woods, while they pointed out various trees, leaves, shrubs and plants, giving us the local names (which we feverishly took note of, and then cross-referenced with Spanish resource books to learn the English and Latin equivalents. And, thank God for the internet!). That theme was: this leaf is medicine; use the bark of this tree for medicine; the root of this plant is medicine; this herb flower is medicine.Our fascination grew. We began looking amongst the growth on Finca Luz for “medicine plants.” We found them.

frank gruber 1

donasantamaria

We tested everything on ourselves. We drank nasty teas and delicious teas. We stung ourselves with nettles. We made tinctures, infusions, decoctions. We made batches of greasy ointments that turned moldy…until we got the hang of it. We harvested and hand processed hive leavings to make creamy yellow beeswax. We found local sources for organic coconut oil. We dug roots, chopped leaves, took photos, researched, asked questions, learned. We did not die or get sick. In fact, Dianne’s lingering bronchitis from exposure to toxic burning plastic cleared up. Elizabeth’s chronic digestive issues went away. We got better. Our potions and tinctures got better.

We tested everything on our friends. No one died or got sick. In fact, again, people improved, got healthier. And then they wanted more. We began doing limited production of herbal remedies and tinctures in the kitchen with a $30 juicer, a $10 mixer, a blender and little jars and bottles we either bought in a hole-in-the-wall shop in David (nearby city) or scavenged from the recycling center and then sterilized to a fare-thee-well. People began to pay us for the remedies and natural skin creams we formulated. People got better.

Cloud Forest Botanicals’  herbal remedies are now available in several locations in Panama. They can be purchased at the local Tuesday Morning Market in Boquete or they can be ordered and shipped to the US, Canada or Europe using our online store.

Our commitment is to make the purest, most natural and most effective natural herbal products possible at the most reasonable cost possible. Each product is researched, tested and based on both centuries of herbal knowledge and the most currently available pharmaceutical research. Each product and tincture is hand-crafted in small batches from plants that are grown organically or wild-crafted from the Cloud Forest jungle. We use no artificial preservatives, thickeners, stabilizers, perfumes in our natural herbal products…EVER.

We regret that we are no longer able to offer public tours of our private gardens.

diingreenhouse
Inspecting the Anamu
santamaria cones

Suffered from horrible hot flashes

I suffered from horrible hot flashes & mood swings from menopause. I was just miserable, and miserable to be around. With the help of Ashwaganda, within 2… Read more “Suffered from horrible hot flashes”

Chris W. - New Jersey

NOVA CBD Tincture plus Ultra Turmeric

High end amazing stuff at 1/2 price of all other high end amazing stuff. ONLY thing I wish is the droppers had measurements listed on them. Besides… Read more “NOVA CBD Tincture plus Ultra Turmeric”

Cryss Marie

Super Immune Booster Tincture

This incredible product keeps us from catching anything while traveling. We especially appreciate Super Immune Booster when our grandchildren visit, they stay well and so do… Read more “Super Immune Booster Tincture”

Babbie Earle

I live in a cold, dry climate in the winter

– usually I’d have to reapply lotion multiple times a day to keep my face from feeling like it’s a piece of plastic wrap. Not so with… Read more “I live in a cold, dry climate in the winter”

Morgan F, WA

We are VERY impressed!

My partner and I are on our second bottle of Chill Out from CFB and we are VERY impressed! My partner suffers from work related stress and… Read more “We are VERY impressed!”

Christopher Bybee

“Changed my life!”

Dear Dianne and Elizabeth, In mid-December I took the Cloud Forest Botanical Tour and it has changed my life. I spoke with both Diane and Elizabeth about… Read more ““Changed my life!””

Sharon Cain, Boquete, Panama

Ultra Curcuma Tincture

I have a chronic inflammatory disorder and Ultra-Turmeric has helped reduce my inflammation rate substantially. I use it every… Read more “Ultra Curcuma Tincture”

Phyllis McNaughton

Anti Inflammatory Tincture

Best natural tincture out there for inflammation, aches & pains!! Suffered from daily headaches, arthritis-like pain in my hands & joints (have Lyme disease) and this is… Read more “Anti Inflammatory Tincture”

Chris Davis Whitaker

Super Immune Booster Tincture

This is my go-to answer for when I start to feel like I’m getting sick and for getting over a cold quickly. I always take it before… Read more “Super Immune Booster Tincture”

Morgan Fraser

Rapid Heal Works Wonders!

This cream works wonders on healing! I had stitches on my arm and they healed so fast with NO SCAR! Thank you for this… Read more “Rapid Heal Works Wonders!”

Rosie

I can’t thank you both enough…

 …for introducing me to the herbal remedies! I was diagnosed with Lyme disease about 2 years ago. It was too late for antibiotics since I had no… Read more “I can’t thank you both enough…”

Chris B. - Boquete

Sleep Tonight CBD Tincture

Thank you Elizabeth!!! My husband and I have been using CBD for a few years and have enjoyed the multiple options of Cloud Forest Botanicals. My husband… Read more “Sleep Tonight CBD Tincture”

Christen

Ultra Curcuma Tincture

Previous to using this product, I had migraines for about 15 years. I’ve use this turmeric once a day for the last 3 years, and they have… Read more “Ultra Curcuma Tincture”

Simon Presland

Giving me great relief & quicker than anything else!

don’t laugh….i fell off our 39″ high bed. really wrecked both hands & wrists. this was on april 24 & i am still a hurtin pup. i… Read more “Giving me great relief & quicker than anything else!”

Susan Frank

All my brain fog went away…

This was a tricky one for me..i’ve already tested some adaptogens but always felt they werent pure or raw enough…so it didnt make much difference. I found… Read more “All my brain fog went away…”

Ramada Harley

Eliminated my post-menopausal hot flashes

Eliminated my post-menopausal hot flashes. Alleviated fatigue. I feel calmer, clearer and more mellow. I just think it has balanced my system. I take two 15 drop… Read more “Eliminated my post-menopausal hot flashes”

Leigh H., Australia

…Rapid Heal is its versatility

The thing I like the most about Rapid Heal is its versatility. It works well on minor scrapes and burns, it’s true. But it also works well… Read more “…Rapid Heal is its versatility”

Frank Spitzig

No more hot flashes!!

Ashwagandha Tincture – If you’re a woman going through menopause this is for you!!! No more hot flashes!! No more bitchiness (well, maybe some lol) definitely gets… Read more “No more hot flashes!!”

Chris Davis Whitaker

Really helped with my energy, ability to focus, and mood

Dear Elizabeth and Dianne, I have been using your CHILL OUT tincture (CBD, Ashwaganda, Goto Kola, and rosemary) for about a week, and it has really helped… Read more “Really helped with my energy, ability to focus, and mood”

Cathy W

Had Frequent Migraines

I was suffering from frequent migraines. The doctors gave me pain pills, did an MRI, recommended hormone replacement therapy (I am only in my late 40’s). I… Read more “Had Frequent Migraines”

Julie H. - Panama

Giving my arthritic dog Big Pet Love

I have been giving my arthritic dog Big Pet Love every morning for a few years . I believe it has worked wonders for her. I had… Read more “Giving my arthritic dog Big Pet Love”

Sue Dykler

Eased the pain

Ultra Turmeric has eased the pain in the joints of my fingers. Now I can do so much more pain… Read more “Eased the pain”

Luana McCamy

RAPID HEAL — Love it!

Hi Dianne and Elizabeth, It was great meeting you both yesterday! Thank you for the very informative and enjoyable plant medicine hike and refreshments. It was such… Read more “RAPID HEAL — Love it!”

Emily Dreblow Owner, Soulflower Floral Design, San Francisco, CA

I’ve never been one for fancy face creams

…with ingredients I can’t pronounce…  I was always leery that they were doing more harm than good to my skin. When I heard that Cloud Forest Botanicals… Read more “I’ve never been one for fancy face creams”

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