Bios & Consultations

Karyn Sanders and Sarah Holmes have exceptional skills with plant medicine. The way they each uniquely posses and convey their skills gave me a wide and yet very specific understanding on how to work with the plants, animals, people, planet and the unseen. I recommend Blue Otter wherever I go.

— Nabha Goldfeder, FT 2007, Advanced 2008, 2010


Karyn Sanders and Sarah Holmes created and founded the Blue Otter School of Herbal Medicine, opening its doors in the spring of 2003. Both practicing herbalists, they are committed to teaching and passing along this craft. Karyn and Sarah had been teaching for many years prior to the opening of Blue Otter and wanted to create an environment in a rural location where students could completely immerse themselves in the study of plants, nature and self. Together they have over well over 50 years of experience.


Karyn Sanders, Clinical Herbalist

IMG_0528Karyn has been working with plants for most of her life. She was first trained in Native American traditional plant medicine. In her mid-teens she apprenticed with a Mexican curandera and has subsequently studied with various traditional teachers as well as Western herbalists. Karyn has been teaching and practicing herbal medicine from an energetic perspective for over 42 years.

Karyn has a live radio show, The Herbal Highway, that has aired weekly since 1996 on KPFA, 94.1FM out of Berkeley, California. She co-hosts this program with Sarah. You may listen to her show live through the internet at, Thursdays from 1 to 2pm. Karyn is also available to teach at other schools, community groups and conferences.


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Karyn Sanders is available for consultations in-person or by phone both in the United States and internationally. Her work is based in Native American, energetic herbalism. She is available for working with deep rooted emotional/spiritual  issues, both for humans and animals. 

Karyn may be reached at or (530) 468-4342 to arrange an appointment.




Sarah Holmes, Clinical Herbalist and Educator


Sarah HolmesSarah Holmes has been in private practice as a clinical herbalist since 1998. She trained in Native American and Western Herbalism starting out at the Pacific School of Herbal Medicine in Oakland, CA and continued with Karyn Sanders.  Sarah believes strongly in the interconnectedness of mind, body and spirit and enjoys working with clients and students to open them to this concept on both obvious and subtle levels.

Sarah has a strong commitment to service that started with volunteer work in her teens and continued into a career in social work. Her background in social work enriches her current vocation bringing together her love of nature and a commitment to service and working with people and the plants.

Sarah also has a love for teaching and has been teaching people for many years before beginning her career as an herbalist which has expanded her teaching beyond health to also include plants and the outdoors. For the past nine years she ran an outdoor education program for The Sierra Club Foundation on Mt. Shasta with local school children and is trained as a Wilderness First Responder through Wilderness Medicine Associates.  Sarah co-hosts The Herbal Highway on KPFA public radio with Karyn Sanders.

When not working, Sarah can often be found hiking in the vast wilderness of this area, puttering in her garden or curled up with a good book. Sarah is also available to teach at other schools, community groups and conferences.

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Sarah Holmes is available for consultations in person or by phone for people living outside of her area. As a clinical herbalist Sarah works with individuals to support them in regaining and maintaining their  health through herbs, diet and flower essences. She addresses the physical,  emotional and spiritual from an energetic perspective.

This practice of herbalism addresses multiple needs. On a physical level the herbs provide overall support to the body as well as focus on specific issues. Herbalism looks at the whole system and looks to support any weaknesses in the body so that the body overall may be stronger.

Believing strongly in the interconnectedness of mind, body and spirit, Sarah also addresses emotional and spiritual needs through her formulations as she finds this necessary to truly be in balance.

Sarah may be reached at or (530) 468-4342 to arrange an appointment.

Stella & Annie 

Our four-legged staff, when they are available, assist students in relaxing and being in the moment. Stella likes to hang out in the garden and provide the occasional appearance with her cat self.  Our beloved Annie, who has been with us from the start of our school, died this March. She will be missed and remembered by many. Annie, January 6, 2003 – March 6, 2017.