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.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Iron Deficiency Anemia: Part Two

Have you ever known someone who craves eating ice or non-food items such as clay or dirt? These can both be symptoms of iron deficiency.

The craving to eat things such as clay, dirt or other non-food items is called pica. An abnormal craving to eat ice is called pagophagia.

Other clues to iron deficiency include but are not limited to pallor, brittle nails, fatigue, headaches, fainting, irritability, shortness of breath, a sore tongue, and canker sores. 

Blood loss, pregnancy, a poor ability to absorb nutrients, and lack of iron intake can all potentially lead to iron deficiency anemia. Iron is supplemented in many commercial US foods, so a lack of iron intake is not very common in the US.

If you are experiencing symptoms of iron deficiency or are at risk for iron deficiency, please talk to a health professional about being tested before self-treating.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

A Special Annoucement for Tulsa Widows/Widowers

Please pass this message along if you know a widow or widower in the Tulsa area...

Last night I attended Tulsa's Widow/Widower Support Group Meeting as a natural health care provider. This group has been around for 20 years. It meets the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of the month at 7:00/7:15 p.m. It is an excellent group ranging from people who have recently lost their spouse to those who have lost their spouse several years ago. It is a non-denominational group, but meets at the Christ United Methodist Church at 3515 S. Harvard Avenue. If you are needing to see that it is possible to survive such a deep grief, this group can give you hope.

They have two very special upcoming events...

Widow/Widower Workshop
October 5 & 6, 2013
Cost $25.00 (and they feed you!)
Register by contacting Kenny Kay Grundy at 918-855-8314

Surviving the Holidays
November 16 or December 14 (9:00-12:00)
Call 918-747-8601 for more information

Both of these events give wonderful tools for people wondering how they will ever survive the grief.

I am sincerely touched by their support, love, compassion and strength. Please share this with those who might need the love and support.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Iron Deficiency Anemia: Part One

Blood is made of up four basic components--red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets and plasma. Anemia is a deficiency of red blood cells or hemoglobin in the blood. Red blood cells (which contain hemoglobin) are critical because they help transport oxygen to the tissues of our body. Anemia can lead to breathlessness, fatigue, and pallor among other things.

It is commonly believed that anemia is addressed by taking iron. While iron deficiency is the most common cause of anemia, it is not always the underlying cause. If you have been told that you are anemic, it is important that you determine if it is an iron deficiency anemia or anemia by another cause.  If you take iron without testing, your anemia may not get better because the cause is not being addressed. Furthermore, excess iron can have pro-oxidant effects. Remember how antioxidants in our food help prevent chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer. Well, excess iron can have a counter effect. Taking iron supplements for long periods of time when one is not iron deficient or at risk for iron deficiency can be potentially harmful.

Anemia is determined by testing hemoglobin or doing a complete blood count (CBC). However, those two tests cannot determine if one is iron deficient or not. A CBC can provide a clue about iron deficiency by describing the size and color of the red blood cells, but it is not a definitive test for iron deficiency. Physicians may request a CBC first, and if it is suggestive of iron deficiency anemia, then they will order an iron panel. CBC's are generally more affordable than running an iron panel, so they are a good place to start. Just remember to complete the process by running an iron panel to follow up.

If you are found to be iron deficient, make sure you have a follow up with your doctor to periodically retest your iron levels after taking iron supplementation. You likely will not need to take a high dose of iron indefinitely. It is good to monitor that you are getting enough and not too much with supplementation.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

I had great fun this afternoon with the Autumn Herbal Wellness class! It was a fantastic group of gardeners and herbal medicine-making novices. Pictured are some of the ingredients in the immune tonic we made.  I also harvested a fresh horseradish from the garden for the occasion. As you might imagine, the immune tonic had a good kick of heat. We added it to homemade vegetable juice. Mmmmm....so tasty!

Early this morning, I was out working in the cool air in the garden. Autumn officially begins tomorrow, but I certainly felt fall today. I felt blessed to have the opportunity to make and teach about plant medicine on this day among such friendly souls.  What a perfect way to begin this season!

A special thanks to Merry Schepers for her help and support for the class today!

Tomorrow I will be at 306 Phoenix House with Lacey Kidd, ND. We will be discussing one of my favorite topics-sleep! While expensive supplements, drugs, and energy drinks may be alluring for what ails us (i.e. poor focus, poor memory, fogginess, fatigue, feeling out of sorts, poor immune function, aches and pains), sometimes the answer simply lies in getting better sleep.  The gathering is from 2:00-3:00 p.m. at 306 S. Phoenix Avenue in Tulsa, OK.  Hope you will join us! Sweet dreams... 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Great Naturopathic Events This Weekend!

I have two great events coming up this weekend and there's still time to join the fun!

On Saturday from 1-5 p.m. I will be hosting a class on Autumn Herbal Wellness. We will be making herbal recipes and trying herbal treats. This is a great opportunity if you are looking for an introduction to making herbal medicine!

On Sunday at 2:00 p.m., I will be hosting my second Monthly Naturopathic Gathering at 306 Phoenix House on the topic "High Quality Sleep: Why It Matters and How to Get Some" with special guest Dr. Lacey Kidd, ND. She will be giving additional information about children and sleep. Get lots of information on sleeping better, try out essential oils for sleep, and sample some tasty naturopathic treats.

I'd love to see you there!

For more information, please see my website at www.ourhealingroots.net or call at 918-813-1874 for more details. Pre-registration required for Saturday's class.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Lemon Verbena Ale Update

I tried my lemon verbena ale, and it think it is lacking the right degree of fermentation. I'm guessing that I needed a warmer spot. It tastes like sweet herbal tea with a note of whey. I have two bottles, so perhaps I will try leaving one sealed outside in the 90+ degree temperatures and see what happens. Wish me luck!

Setting a Sleep Routine

One of the most affordable and effective ways to improve your health is to establish a rhythm to your daily routine. The most basic routine is going to sleep and waking up. Support your body's natural rhythm by establishing a consistent bedtime and waking time for yourself every day. This will help re-set a healthy rhythm for your body.

When I was exhausted the summer of my third year in naturopathic medical school, I began trying this idea for myself. It took several nights of practice, but I eventually got the hang of it and started noticing significant changes. It gave me more energy than any supplement. My thinking was less foggy, and my learning improved. I felt good. I no longer needed an alarm clock.

This Sunday at 2:00 p.m. I will be at the 306 Phoenix House in Tulsa for a session called "Sleep: Why It Matters and How to Get Some" with special guest Lacey Kidd, ND.  This gathering lasts one hour. There is no cost, but donations are graciously accepted.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Craving Something Sweet...

The other night I was craving something sweet. I didn't want to choose junk food because I don't like the way it makes my body feel. Luckily I remembered those freezer cookies I used to make as a kid. The solution was perfect for that desire for something sweet, and I felt okay after eating them.

In a small bowl, I mixed uncooked oats, nut butter, cocoa powder and just a little bit of honey. Then, I rolled the "dough" into balls. These cookies are good at room temperature but very messy. I noticed this looking at my white blouse as my fingers were covered in chocolate.  So, I placed the cookies in the freezer to harden.

This is a great snack idea and it's quick. This cookie can be adapted in many ways. Dried fruit paste can be substitute for honey. Powdered herbs can be added for additional benefit (think maca or ginseng powder). Alternatively, roll the cookies in nuts or coconut flakes.  Enjoy and have a sweet weekend!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Starting Lemon Verbena Ale

Recently, I was reviewing some herbal ale recipes and discovered that I can make herbal ales use yogurt whey! Apparently, the bacterial culture of the whey helps to ferment the drink and make ale. I was intrigued!

Tonight, I decided to try the process for myself. It starts with collecting lemon verbena from the garden.
Lemon verbena has a rich, lemon taste. I love using the leaves in salads and teas. I started the ale process by making sweet, lemon verbena infusion. Additional lemon juice was added. I allowed this sweet tea to cool before inoculating it with my whey. Too hot and it would kill the beneficial bacteria I need.

At 105 degrees F, I added a cup of yogurt whey and then placed it in a warm spot. It will ferment for a couple of days and then I will bottle it up and allow it to ferment another couple of days.  I'm excited to report on the outcome of my experiment next week.

If you want to try this for yourself, I got my recipe from a book called Full Moon Feast: Food and the Hunger for Connection by Jessica Prentice.   

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A Great Example of Organoleptics

Recently, I harvested hoarhound from my garden and dried it to make capsules. While I was waiting for it to dry, I used store bought hoarhound for my project.

Look at the vast difference between the capsules made from the store-bought herb compared to what was recently harvested from my garden and dried!

This weekend, I powdered my dried garden hoarhound. It was fluffy, forest green, and had a sweet-green scent with the smallest hint of a bitter undertone. My senses told me that my garden dried hoarhound was far more potent than the dried hoarhound I bought from the store.

The taste, color, texture, and smell of an herb are considered its organoleptic properties. Organoleptics can be used to help identify herbs, as well as to qualitatively measure the quality/potency of an herbal product.

You probably use organoleptics on a regular basis. For example, you might look at the organoleptic properties of the vegetables and fruits you pick out at the store. When you work with herbs, I recommend the same principle. It simply takes practice and paying attention. Look for opportunities to compare the same spice or dried herb from different manufacturers. See if you can pick out the differences and notice what you like best and why. In general, potent preparations will have deeper color and a rich scent. You can do this with herbal capsules, essential oils, tinctures, and many other herbal preparations. Have fun and see what you discover!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Drinking in the Last Days of Summer

The change of the season is upon us. I'm certain I felt autumn last Monday as I was working in my garden. The pace of life is picking up speed and deadlines are approaching. I am at risk of getting carried away in the fall rush of things.

However on Labor Day, I had to set all of this aside and savor the last days of summer. While it is summer for just a bit longer, I invite you to savor these last days, too. Here are some ideas I tried on my day off...

*  Enjoy leftovers from last night's farm party for breakfast.
* Make chamomile-honey ice cream (substitute coconut milk if dairy intolerant). The recipe is in Mary Jane's Farm Nature Knows Best special summer issue.
* Invite a friend over for a local dinner with ingredients from the garden and farmer's market.
* Be inspired by Julia Child! I prepared the best dish of garden green beans using her advice.
* Fill up the kiddie pool with water, peppermint leaf, and rose petals. Go for a swim.
* Read a book for fun and forget about everything you could be doing instead with that time.
* Make plans to replace all those opportunistic vines in the garden, and catch a sale on autumn mums.

May the last days of your summer be blessed with an opportunity to slow down and enjoy!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Whey Cool Yogurt Cheese

Remember Little Miss Muffet eating her curds and whey? When making cheese, the milk separates into curds and whey. You can do the same process with yogurt to make yogurt cheese. In the picture above, the clear yellow liquid is the whey and the white semi-solid matter is the curd. Perhaps you've even opened a yogurt container to find floating liquid on the top; this is whey.

After making my yogurt last Friday, I decided to make yogurt cheese. Here's how...

Place a mesh strainer over a pot or bowl.

Line with a clean straining cloth.

Pour plain, live-culture yogurt into the cloth.
Cover and place in the refrigerator for 8 hours. After the time is up, you will have whey which has drained into your bowl or pot and the yogurt cheese will be left in your strainer. Store each in a clean container.

Yogurt cheese is delicious and similar to thick sour cream or cream cheese, but it has all the probiotic benefits. I like to add spices/herbs and enjoy it with vegetables as a snack. You can also enjoy it with whole grain crackers and the savory/spicy jellies of the summer season.

My main reason for making yogurt cheese, however, was for the whey. Whey is generally used in commercial foods, sports drinks, protein powders, homemade recipes or fed to animals. In the coming days, I will be using my yogurt whey to make a lacto-fermented herbal drink. Stay tuned for more fun...

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Making Yogurt

When I make yogurt, I am connecting to a tradition that is thousands of years old. Yogurt is the number one consumed probiotic food in the United States. It is very affordable to make at home, and the end result can be far better for your health than several of the commercially prepared products. Last Friday, I made a half gallon batch of yogurt. Here's how...

I began by scrubbing down all surfaces and spraying them with sanitizing solution. I sanitize my equipment and surfaces with an acid-base sanitizer called Star-San, which I can find at my local brew supply shop. I do not own a double boiler, so I make one using two pots. I use double boiler so that I do not directly heat or scorch the milk. To make a double boiler, I place a smaller pot within a larger pot and fill the larger pot with some water. How much water? That's the trick; you want the smaller pot to float in the water without the water overflowing from the large pot onto the stove.

Carefully, pour a half-gallon of milk into the inner pot. You may find that you need to remove more water from your double boiler so the large pot does not overflow.

I pause here to say that you can make raw milk yogurt, and that would follow a separate process. Today, I am giving directions for yogurt making using pasteurized milk.

Turn on the stove and heat the double boiler. In the meantime, sterilize your equipment. In my case, I sterilized a half gallon tempered glass jar and lid, my spoon and tip of my thermometer. I allowed those to air dry.

I waited for my milk to slowly come up to 185 degrees F. I would occasionally stir the milk and remove the skin that would sometimes form on top. Once at temperature, I turned off the heat and allowed it to sit in the hot water bath at 185 degrees F for 5 minutes. In the meantime, I made an ice water bath.

Let's pause to discuss why I heat the milk to 185 degrees F. When you make yogurt, you are creating the perfect environment for microbes to thrive. The goal is to select for only yogurt-making bacteria and not anything else. Pasteurized milk is a level playing field for both good and harmful bacteria. Somewhere between pasteurization at the factory and your refrigerator, your pasteurized milk could potentially have picked up a few harmful bacteria. This is usually no problem if it is just a few in a refrigerated environment, but if those few multiply to thousands during yogurt making, it is no good.  So, we heat pasteurized milk again before culturing it to destroy any potentially harmful bacteria that might be present right before we culture the milk with yogurt-bacteria.

After 5 minutes, I quickly cooled the milk to 115 degrees F, using the ice bath and stirring quickly.  I poured the milk into the sterile glass jar. I added a packet of thermophilic yogurt culture; if you don't have starter culture packets, you can also add 1/4-1/2 cup of live-active culture, plain yogurt to culture your batch. I placed the lid on the jar and shook it vigorously for two minutes.

The type of yogurt starter culture you use will determine the taste, consistency and process that is used. These set of directions are for a thermophilic yogurt culture, which is most common. (Mesophilic cultures are incubated at lower temperatures).  Yogurt can be thick, runny, thin, or ropey in consistency. Many years ago, I used Stoney Field Farm yogurt to culture and got ropey yogurt. Yogurt can taste mildly sweet to very tart. Most commercial yogurt producers will add thickening agents, so expect homemade yogurt to be thinner unless you are adding gelatin or powdered milk.

Once cultured, the milk needs to incubate at 105-115 degrees F. My particular culture called for incubation at 112 degrees F.  What do you do if you don't have a fancy yogurt machine or incubator? There are luckily several options. In the past, I have kept mine in a warm water bath in an ice chest. I now have thermos specially designed for yogurt making, which requires no electricity. Last Friday, I wanted to try the old-fashioned towel method for the first time. I found a draft free and warm area of my kitchen. I then wrapped the jar in two thick towels and let it sit there for many hours.

Incubation often takes 6-8 hours. I checked my yogurt at 6 hours and it still looked like milk. So, I allowed my yogurt to sit several more hours and eventually it gained the consistency and taste of yogurt. If you incubate your yogurt for too long, you run the risk of very tart yogurt. I did incubate my batch for closer to 12 hours, but I was lucky. It tastes perfectly and has a wonderfully thick consistency due to the culture I used.