Welcome to Our Healing Roots, a blog exploring natural medicine that returns us to the roots of health and wellbeing. Our Healing Roots, LLC, is a private natural healthcare practice and experiential learning center that advocates the safe use of integrated, natural medicine. Many healing ways have gone by the wayside with the advent of conventional medicine. While it is important to receive professional medical advice for serious conditions, there are many things we can do at home to prevent disease and maintain our health. The Latin word for doctor is docere, which means to be a teacher. Our Healing Roots wholehearted embraces the importance of teaching in healthcare, so that people feel empowered about their health and wellbeing. More information about this business can be found at www.ourhealingroots.net.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Canning Marathon & Upcoming Events

Harvest is rolling finally rolling in, and it is a busy month of canning in the kitchen. We have been putting up beets, marinara, tomato sauce, peach jam and relish these past couple of weeks. Our nutritional savings account is growing! The quality and taste of locally grown food in jars is hard to surpass.

Last week, I invited our friends over for dinner. I served our canned vegetables on top of peas and rice topped with lemon-tahini dressing. It was sublime and well liked!

If you missed our canning classes in June and July, I'm happy to announce we have three more opportunities this year for you to join in the fun...

Saturday, August 17 (1030-1130)--Merry Schepers and Katrina Bogdon will be teaching a free canning and preserving class at Groggs Green Barn in Tulsa, OK.

Sunday, August 25 (2:00-3:00)--Katrina Bogdon will be at the 306 Phoenix House in Tulsa to start her Monthly Natural Health Gatherings. This event is by donation. She will be talking about preserving the harvest, the latest scientific updates in nutrition, and sharing recipes.

Saturday, September 7 (11:00-5:00)--Autumn Canning and Preserving Class ($50). This will be another one of our hands-on and instructional canning classes. The fee includes cost of all materials and you can take home some of what you make. To register, see www.ourhealingroots.net for instructions or e-mail office@ourhealingroots.net

We hope you can join us!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Hintful Drinks

To wrap up my series on soda alternatives, I would like to discuss flavored seltzer water. You can buy flavored seltzer water (i.e. LaCroix) or you can affordably make you own. These sodas do not contain any sugar or artificial sweeteners. I recommend flavors such as cucumber, citrus, rosemary, and mint.

To make flavored lemon-rosemary seltzer water, add fresh slices of lemon and sprigs of rosemary to your bottle of cold seltzer water. Allow to infuse for at least an hour; this can be done in the refrigerator. You can strain the lemon and rosemary sprigs off, but this is optional. Experiment with other herb/vegetable/fruit combinations, too.

You can also do these flavor infusions in filtered, non-carbonated water as well. Lemon-rosemary or cucumber infused water can be a refreshing option for your next summer party.

I hope you have enjoyed this opportunity to think outside the box on soda. If you have a soda addiction that is causing you headaches and mood swings when you try to give it up, please consider making an appointment at Our Healing Roots, LLC for additional support.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Juice Spritzers

It's easy to spend a lot of money on flavored waters and juice spritzers. The good news is that they are easy to make at home for an affordable price!  Juice spritzers can be a substitute for commercial soda when you are looking for something cold, sweet and bubbly to drink.

To make a juice spritzer, fill a quarter of your glass with 100% fruit juice of your choice. Fill the rest of your glass with seltzer water and gently stir. For flavored water, just use plain water instead of seltzer water. You can adjust the amount of juice to suit your taste.

100% juice still has sugar in the form of fructose, so watering it down with seltzer water or plain water reduces your sugar intake. 100% juice also may contain antioxidants and vitamins.

My favorite juice spritzer is pomegranate-lime. I use non-sweetened pomegranate juice, a squeeze of lime, and seltzer water. For something sweeter, use fresh squeezed orange juice instead of lime. Pomegranate juice has been demonstrated to have several cardiovascular benefits and may protect against prostate cancer.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Homemade Root Beer

The most common herbal sodas today are ginger ale and root beer. Historically, root beer was a tea/fermented soft drink. The fermentation process helps give the drink its bubbly aspect. From personal experience, fermented root beer is delicious. We unfortunately put too much yeast in our batch and it became a bit explosive when we opened the bottles.

If you are not up to fermenting your own sodas, take heart. There is a much easier way to make your own homemade root beer (or ginger ale). You can cook a soda syrup and add it to carbonated water or seltzer water. Seltzer water is readily available at most grocery stores. If you plan to make your own homemade sodas, I recommend a home carbonation system. An example is the Soda Stream machine which has become quite popular the last few years.  This system can help cut down on the waste of plastic bottles and is a better choice for the environment.

This past weekend, I made my own root beer syrup. I adapted my recipe from several recipes found in two books--Rosemary Gladstar's The Beginners Guide to Medicinal Herbs and Schloss' Homemade Soda. To make the syrup, I simmered several ingredients in water for 20-30 minutes--sarsaparilla, sassafras, raisins, vanilla bean, birch, burdock, licorice, star anise, ginger, dandelion root, cinnamon and carrot. This simmering process is called a "decoction." Many of these herbs and spices are traditionally considered "alteratives" or "blood cleansers." They have been used for centuries to help detoxify the liver and clear stagnation of fluids within the body. Some of these herbs help support healthy blood sugar metabolism, which is an excellent addition to a soda! 

After you make the decoction, you have two choices. Rosemary Gladstar recommends adding the herb stevia to her recipe for sweetness. This would be the healthier choice, but your formula would not last very long in the refrigerator. You can also choose to make a syrup. With the right amount of sugar to preserve it, a syrup can easily last a couple of months in the refrigerator. Syrups are made by adding the right amount of sugar, molasses, and/or honey. In my case, I used unrefined sugar and molasses.

Once you have made your root beer syrup and tea, chill it. Then add carbonated water. By adding your own syrup, you can control the amount of sugar your adding to your sodas. If you are trying to wean off of soda, try slowing reducing the amount of syrup you add until your taste gets adjusted to less sugar in your sodas.

My syrup has just a slight bitter aftertaste. While I enjoy the taste, I don't have craving to drink a lot of it either. I am attributing this to the herbs that support blood sugar metabolism. It is a very satisfying drink and a nice tonic for my liver. I certainly do not recommend drinking lots of this soda, because it is still a botanical medicine tonic and because it contains sugar. Like most medicines, more is not necessarily better.  I will probably have a glass a couple of times a week as a summer treat and then wait again for next year.   

For those of you living in Tulsa, I picked up my copy of Homemade Soda at the store High Gravity at 71st and Memorial.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Soda Habit

Soda. It's a sweet, cool drink many people reach for during the hot days of summer. Some people say they depend on it "to get them through the day." It's relatively cheap and easy to adapt into an everyday routine. Most regular soda contains high fructose corn syrup, and the Corn Refiners Association wants you to feel good about the high fructose corn syrup you are consuming in your beverages. If you feel guilty about drinking it, soda companies try to comfort you with "Zero" and "Diet" options. The artificial sweetened and/or caffeine beverages offer an alluring addiction that can be difficult to quit once you start.  

Numerous studies link sweet and artificially sweet beverages to obesity and an overwhelming number of chronic diseases. The phosphorus (which is present in some types of soda) weakens our bones.  Our culture helps us justify drinking soda in so many ways; while at the same time, we know it can be harmful for ourselves and the environment.

If you are looking to kick the soda habit without going "cold turkey", then my next three posts are for you. This upcoming week I'll be covering some healthier options for sodas with herbal sodas and juice spritzers. These options can keep the "fizzy" in summer without being as detrimental as commercial sodas. They make a nice transition step for people eventually looking to kick the soda habit.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Wild Flowers and Herbs

I spent the first part of this month travelling to visit family in Virginia. I travelled by car. The roadsides of Missouri, Kentucky, West Virginia and Virginia were covered with wild flowers, herbs, and prairie restoration projects. What a beautiful sight to see in the summer, as I am more accustomed to fields of brown!

Chicory is very common in the Virginias. It has a purple-blue flower. The roasted root was used as a coffee-substitute in civil war times and can still be found in many coffee substitutes today.

I was surprised to see so much mullein along the roadside as we approached Washington, DC.  Mullein is a biennial plant; it puts out soft leaves the first year and a tall stalk with yellow flowers the second year. The yellow flowers have been used to infuse an oil to help with painful earaches. Note: This is contraindicated if the tympanic membrane is ruptured.  The leaves have been commonly used for respiratory complaints. However, my favorite application of mullein comes to me through herbalist Matthew Wood. Some bones are difficult to set such as ribs, collarbones, the tailbone, and toes. I have used this successfully in the clinic to help support the healing of these bones and to reduce the pain.

I hope you are enjoying the wildflowers and herbs this summer, too.  One of my friends and herbalists Sasha lives in Missouri. She had some lovely posts about wildflowers and herbs on her Facebook page in early June. I encourage you to check them out! https://www.facebook.com/thegoldenlightcenter

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Carminatives, Demulcents, and Diaphoretics

Tonight, I will be teaching a class about botanical (or herbal) medicine. This area of study comes with its own set of terminology. Some of the terms make sense at first glance, such as anti-diarrheal, antibacterial. Some terms may be recognized from our local pharmacies, such as antitussive or sedative. However, many of the terms are older and out of common use these days.

For today's post, I would like to share three botanical terms--carminative, demulcent, and diaphoretic. Many more herbal terms can be found at the American Botanical Council's website.

A carminative refers to a plant that can help relieve gas from the digestive tract. A great example would include fennel. Many Indian restaurants put out candied fennel seeds, and fennel's carminative action can be helpful.

A demulcent refers to a plant that provides soothing to mucous membranes and is often mucilaginous in quality. An example is slippery elm bark or ground flax seed. If you soak ground flax seed in hot water and let it sit for 5 minutes or so, you can quickly see it become mucilaginous in quality. Slippery elm bark powder is similar.

A diaphoretic is a substance that promotes perspiration. Imagine a nice whooping dose of horseradish. This plant can definitely make you sweat!  (I personally find Oklahoma summers to have a diaphoretic effect on me.)

Stay cool and enjoy your day!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Tincture Class This Wednesday Night

There are several types of botanical medicines; you can make herbal teas, infused oils, salves, tinctures, syrups, herbal capsules, and many more. This Wednesday night from 7-9 p.m. I will be teaching a class on how to make your own botanical tinctures.  The class will be held in Tulsa, OK.

A botanical tincture is a quick and easy way of using herbal medicine. Tinctures are herbal liquid extracts that are taken internally.  They have long shelf lives. Tincturing is an excellent method to preserve your medicinal herbs. This summer, I have been harvesting my chamomile flowers and preserving them as a tincture. This way, I will get to enjoy my chamomile harvest throughout the entire year. On average, a tincture costs around $10/ounce if commercially purchased. It is much more affordable to make your own at home, but it is important that you follow some basic safety guidelines in doing so.

I invite you to join us for class on Wednesday. Cost of the class is $25. It includes instruction on botanical medicine and safety, hands-on experience making tinctures and formulas, and the opportunity to take home two 1-ounce tinctures that you make. Pre-registration is required. Please call 918-813-1874 to sign up.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Opening in the Pressure Canning Class

We have had an opening in tomorrow's class on Pressure Canning. The class will be held from 11-5 on Saturday, July 13th. The cost is $50. If you are interested in attending, please call 918-813-1874.

Herbs and Spices to Prevent Food Spoilage

Herbs and spices have long been used to help prevent food spoilage, particularly prior to the advent of refrigeration as we know it today. Many of these aromatic herbs and spices have bacteriostatic properties. To help reduce possible food spoilage, consider cooking and marinating with aromatic culinary herbs and spices. Need help getting started? Check out my post on the book Healing Spices (http://ourhealingroots.blogspot.com/2013/05/healing-spices.html).

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Similar State of Mind--Arsenicum Album

Homeopathic arsenicum album is a homeopathic remedy commonly used for food poisoning.  Homeopathic remedies, though, are selected based on how a person expresses a disease, not the disease itself.  Therefore, homeopathic arsenicum is not appropriate for all cases of food poisoning.

Here is how a person needing homeopathic arsenicum for food poisoning might present...
* Profound weakness--he or she may feel so weak that they cannot even stand up but must lie down
* Restlessness--may move from the couch to the floor to the toilet and then all over again
* Vomiting and diarrhea at the same time
* Chilliness
* Thirsty for small sips
* Burning pains
* Fear of being alone
* Certain they will die from this

Consider keeping a vial of homeopathic arsenicum album in the first aid kit. Experience has taught me that this remedy is sometimes needed when the store is closed.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Know Your Bugs: Salmonella

Salmonella was the most prevalent disease agent for food borne illness in the United States in 2012. It is estimated that most cases are not reported or diagnosed; up to 29 cases may go undiagnosed for every 1 diagnosed case(1).

Each type of disease-causing bacteria has a unique incubation time in your body before it makes you sick. It may be a short 6 hours before consuming the contaminated food and expression of symptoms. It can also take weeks before you get sick! So, it can be very challenging to figure out the offending food. In the case of salmonella, it can take 12 hours to three days before you have symptoms of fever, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps.

When the body is exposed to Salmonella, the immune system is typically activated. An immune messenger called IL-8 causes an intestinal inflammatory response when there is an exposure to Salmonella. A January 2013 study found that certain strains of probiotics can down-regulate the body's response so that there is less inflammation. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23391223)

(1) CDC Progress Food Safety Progress Report for 2012
(2) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23391223

Friday, July 5, 2013

Operation: Outcrowd

Our digestive system is lined with several varieties of bacteria. Some of the bacteria is quite beneficial, while other strains can be harmful, potentially causing food-borne illness. In fact, many people walk around with the potentially harmful bacteria in them, but they don't have any symptoms. They may feel perfectly well. How can this be so?

It's all in the numbers, my friend. If several different, beneficial bacteria significantly out crowd the harmful ones, the chances of getting sick are diminished. In this situation, if you consume just a small amount of harmful bacteria on your food then you have more protection. 

If you don't have enough good bacteria to out crowd the less desirable strains, you are at greater risk of becoming ill. If you eat a piece of food loaded with harmful bacteria, then it will be more difficult for your healthy flora to out crowd it.

Several scientific, peer-reviewed abstracts on PubMed describe how healthy probiotic bacteria can actually disarm the infective mechanisms of certain types of food-borne bacteria. Not only does out crowding help, but the beneficial bacteria can actually go after the more harmful ones.

So summer vacationers, consider consuming a good dose of healthy probiotics before, during and after your travels. Keep the probiotics on hand for the camping trips, picnics and other outdoor food activities, too. If you have a weakened immune system, consult with your doctor before taking probiotics.

Probiotics can be taking in powder, liquid, and capsule form; however, don't forget they are also found in fermented and cultured foods such as yogurt, kefir, and non-pasteurized sauerkraut.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Summer Lovin' Bacteria

Summer is a time filled with fun, vacations, warm sunshine, and...food-borne illness. Have you experienced this? Perhaps you've spent months planning summer vacation only to leave with memories of nausea, vomiting, and riding home on the plane in adult diapers.

Take heart, summer vacationers! These next two weeks Our Healing Roots, LLC will be featuring food-borne illness and natural approaches to addressing this bacteria party in the stomach and colon.

Prevention of food borne illness begins with good food handling practices. If you are purchasing, transporting, preparing, serving, or storing left overs, you are part of the chain that can help prevent food borne illness for yourself and others. The USDA has made a great summer handout about safe food handling practices and it can be found at the link below.

USDA's Handout "Food Borne Illness Peaks in Summer-Why?"

Tuesday, July 2, 2013


Thank you to all who participated in Saturday's pickle class. We made six types of pickles with Merry Schepers--Garlic Dills, Smokey Tea Pickles, Zippy Dills, Pickled Green Beans, Sunshine Pickles, and Bread and Butters. Unfortunately, we have to wait at least 2-4 weeks before we can open what was made. Our next upcoming class will be Pressure Canning on July 13th. At this time, this class is full and we have a waiting list started for another pressure canning class. Please let us know if you are interested!