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.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Integrative Medicine Conference 2014

Tomorrow, I will be speaking at the 3rd annual Integrative Medicine Conference in Tulsa, OK. This year has particularly sparked my interest in Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL), so this will be the topic of my presentation.

NHL is actually not one cancer, but rather a collection of many different cancer subtypes. As I study nutrition and cancer, many of my findings apply to specific NHL subtypes, not NHL as a whole.  For example, vitamin D improves survival rates for people diagnosed with diffuse large B cell subtype and T-cell lymphoma subtypes, but not for NHL overall.

Certain bacterial and viral infections are established as risk factors for NHL. For example,  the bacteria H. pylori is associated with some cases of MALT lymphoma of the stomach. This subtype of lymphoma has been successfully cured by treating the H. pylori infection in some instances.

In the 1980's, NHL also helped us first to understand how cells die in humans. The study of programmed cell death is now flourishing and being used to develop several novel approaches to cancer treatments.

Well, the kiddos approach...have a happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Healthy Halloween Treat for Kiddos

Looking for a healthy treat for your trick-or-treaters? Consider handing out water or 100% juice. It's easy to get dehydrated while running wild through a neighborhood on a sugar-high.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Holiday Giftmaking Class Last Night

Our 2013 class season is slowly winding down. We had our Holiday Giftmaking Class last night. (Our final 2013 hands-on class will be a Sourdough bread class in November.)
We enjoyed great holiday treats...
Pictured above is a melon brain, little fruit salad goblins, and a stack of bread bones.
We crafted trays of lavender-bergamot-oat soap. This is a great soap for irritated skin conditions!
We adapted Rosemary Gladstar's luscious recipe for warming bath salts (cinnamon, roses, ginger and cardamom). Oh my!  The original recipe can be found in her latest book Rosemary Gladstar's Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner's Guide.
Finally, we made a great salve to help support healthy skin healing.  These tins are cooling off.
It was a great night!  Thank you to all who participated. Keep an eye out for our upcoming 2014 class list so you can join us for the fun next year.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Adverse Childhood Experience Study

Last night, I started reading a new book called The Last Best Cure. It is written by a science journalist who undergoes a year of meditation, yoga, acupuncture and being among nature to turn around numerous chronic diseases that her body is expressing. As I am beginning the book, she is discussing the Adverse Childhood Experience study.

The Adverse Childhood Experience study examined how certain childhood experiences are linked to health conditions later in life. The results of this study stunned researchers. They discovered, in fact, a very high correlation between later life disease and those exposed to adverse experiences as a child. These adverse experiences included neglect, parental divorce/separation (and I think also includes death of a parent?), a mother being abused, drug and/or alcohol abuse in the home, imprisonment of a household member, mental illness of a household member, and physical, emotional, or sexual abuse. These adverse experiences were not limited to any one socioeconomic part of our population.

Those who have had more of these adverse experiences have been found to actually have a smaller hippocampus (part of the brain). Ultimately, these experiences can alter how our stress and immune response functions. Eventually, it has the potential to lead to chronic disease. More information about this study can be found at acestudy.org.

So, where's the light at the end of this bleak tunnel?  It is this--our brain is malleable. There are techniques that can change our response and, thus, our health. A whole new field of science called psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) is emerging that describes how we can change our brain, immune and stress responses and reverse disease.  Many of these techniques are not new, but rather ancient (i.e. mindfulness, loving-kindness meditation, yoga, being among nature, breathing techniques). It is just now that science is coming to understand just how profound their effects can be on changing health.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Making a Respiratory Tonic Syrup

I recently made a batch of herbal syrup as a respiratory tonic.  Since it is a tonic, I worked to balance the herbal energetics of the formula so it would not be too heating, too cooling, too drying or too wet. 

12 cups filtered water
6 Tbs dried elderberries
6 Tbs rosehips
1 Tbs dandelion root
2 Tbs Siberian ginseng root
1 Tbs Astragulus
4 Tbs Fennel seeds
3 fresh inner stalks of lemongrass

Bring the above ingredients to a slow simmer. Simmer until there is about 6 cups of liquid left. Strain out and compost herbs. To the remaining liquid, add

2 ounces fresh ginger root juice
15 mL of Osha tincture (optional)
15 mL of Elderberry tincture (optional)
3 cups local, raw honey (do not give to infants)
Brandy (as a preservative)

Bottle and label. I canned my syrup in canning jars. Once open, they need to be refrigerated. This recipe does have the potential to interact with certain medications; check with a qualified health professional if you are currently taking other medications.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Gift Giving...

At the Monthly Naturopathic Gathering this Sunday, we will not only be talking about gift ideas for the holidays, but also the practice of gift giving itself. Please join me at 2:00 p.m. this Sunday at 306 S. Phoenix Avenue in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Gift giving can evoke a mixed bag of feelings for people. I know several people who loathe the tradition of giving gifts and see it as too materialistic. Some see the tradition as overshadowing the true meaning of the holidays. On the other hand, it is other people’s favorite time of year, filled with happy memories and love. I find it very interesting to examine why this disparity exists.
In college, I had a wonderful professor named Dr. Heather Zwickey. She was a brilliant immunologist and researcher at our college, but she also appreciated helping students develop into well-rounded physicians.  She introduced me to a book called The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts by Gary Chapman.

The main thesis of the book is people give and receive love differently.  These different ways of giving and receiving love are called “love languages.” Each person has a primary love language for giving love and a separate primary love language for receiving love.  The five love languages described in this book are words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. How do you give and receive love?

If the tradition of giving gifts does not suit you or your loved ones, perhaps look to the love languages to provide some alternatives for the holidays. If your friends and family don't like receiving gifts, then talk to them about providing love in their primary love language instead. Here are some ideas…

  Words of affirmation—a homemade holiday letter telling them how much they mean to you

  Quality time—set aside an afternoon to spend together doing something they love

  Acts of service—find out if they need help getting a project done or make something homemade for them

  Physical touch—consider a gift certificate for a massage or providing them with a relaxing foot bath and rub

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Free Class on Sunday & How to Peel a Pomegranate

If you know someone who likes to make homemade gifts for the holidays, please share this with them...

I warmly invite you to join me at the 306 Phoenix House at 2:00 p.m. this Sunday, October 20th, to get ideas about homemade, healthy gifts for the holidays. It will be a wonderful hour of tasting and experiencing potential holiday ideas. There is no cost for the class, but donations are warmly accepted. The address of this class is 306 S. Phoenix Avenue, Tulsa, OK.

One of the things I will be demonstrating in this class is how to peel a pomegranate. These wonderful fruits are delicious and are filled with health benefits. Pomegranate has anti-cancer action (PMID: 22689129), may reduce blood pressure (PMID: 21457902), and can also slow the progression of osteoarthritis (PMID: 20955562). However, pomegranates can be intimidating to eat.

Here's how I eat a pomegranate...
(1) Cut the pomegranate into quarters or eighths.
(2) Place the slices in a bowl of water.
(3) Separate the seeds from the pith. The pith will float in the water and the seeds will sink to the bottom.
(4) Discard the pith and drain the seeds.
(5) Enjoy the seeds!

I love to give pomegranates as gifts. If you live in Tulsa, I found organic pomegranates on sale at Whole Foods today at 2 for $4.


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Healthy Gift Ideas for the Holidays--Free Event Sunday

This Sunday afternoon at 2:00 p.m., I will be at 306 Phoenix House for October's Monthly Natural Health Gathering. We will be discussing gift giving around the holidays and alternatives to gift giving. There will be several demonstrations of herbal and healthy gifts to share with friends, family and coworkers. We will also be cooking up some rosemary, roasted nuts and seeds. Please join us this Sunday and bring your friends!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Naturopathic Medicine Week

Naturopathic medicine is a form of medicine that:

-               Considers the whole person
-               Focuses on the causes of illness, not just the
-               Emphasizes prevention and ongoing wellness
-               Uses natural treatments that are less invasive and
                  less expensive than conventional drugs and

There are approximately 4,400 naturopathic doctors (NDs) in the US who are currently licensed, having graduated from an accredited 4-year naturopathic medical school.  NDs are rigorously trained in approaches that facilitate the body’s inherent self-healing ability.  They treat a full range of illnesses and work closely with their patients, guiding and empowering them education and self-care.
The US Senate’s unanimous passage of a resolution (S. Res. 221) establishes October 7-13, 2013 as Naturopathic Medicine Week.  This is the first time Congress has recognized the ability of naturopathic physicians to “provide safe, effective, and affordable health care” and to play an essential role in addressing the nation’s pressing shortage of primary care physicians.  
Happy Naturopathic Medicine Week!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Addressing the Out-of-the-blue "Blues"

Have you ever felt "blue" for seemingly no reason at all? If so, know that you are not alone.

Depression can be complex and range in severity. Today, I am discussing one particular expression of the "blues." Let's say you are having a great day. Everything is going your way. Then for no reason, you just feel down. It's like a black cloud suddenly passed overhead. The day no longer seems as bright and you might lose interest things about which you are typically passionate. The feeling may hang around for awhile but eventually passes.

It's not uncommon for most people to experience this state occasionally. If this a common and frequent pattern, consider using mustard flower essence under your tongue or with a few drops in water to help brighten your day. (Note: This is not to be used as a substitute for treatment of moderate/severe depression.)

Exercise also has several studies showing that it can have positive effects on mild to moderate depression. The trick is finding the motivation to exercise when you feel depressed. Using mustard flower essence to lift the black cloud before exercise may help.

Learn more about mustard flower essence and other flower essences in our upcoming Flower Essence class. This will be held the next three Mondays from 6:00-7:30. To register, please call Our Healing Roots, LLC at 918-813-1874.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Herb Harvest Festival in the Ozarks


 This past weekend, I visited Arkansas for the Herb Harvest Festival at the Ozark Folk Center. The Herb Harvest Festival is held annually in the fall. It is a great time to visit the Ozarks and share the company of people who are passionate about herbs and food. Hats off to everyone who made this event a success!

This year, the festival focused on the herbs and food ways of Coastal Africa and how these ways interchanged with Americas/Ozark Region. Particularly think of Southern cooking and cuisine--watermelon, peanuts, clabbered milk (buttermilk), yams, black eyed peas, and okra. African herbs influence us as well. Have you ever enjoyed a cup of caffeine-free Red Bush Tea (also known as Rooibos)? This tea is only grown in a very specific area of Africa. Several herbal supplements we enjoy in America are grown in Africa.

Merry Schepers and I spoke about dairy products made in Africa with specific emphasis on demonstration of yogurt and a Nigerian-style farm cheese called "Wara."  We explored the history, science and health benefits of these foods. I was particularly intrigued to learn the science of coagulation. For wara, the plant Calotropis procera is traditionally used to coagulate the milk. Other plants can be used for coagulation, too--pineapple, papaya, lemon, and even latex of the fig tree! In yogurt, the bacteria produce lactic acid, and it is the acid that causes milk coagulation. 
Pictured above are African kola nuts wrapped in a leaf. These plant has been used to make coca-cola. By themselves, they can certain give you a "buzz".  Aren't they beautiful?  
Merry and I travelled back to Tulsa on Sunday. We entered the city as dusk was settling. After being among the trees, rolling hills, and fantastic herbal community this weekend, my heart dropped a little when I saw the city skyline. Luckily, I live and work in areas with several trees, but I still long to return to the Ozarks.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Accepting Change...

In these past couple of months, I have observed people's lives changing all around me. This state of change in individual lives is also being reflected on a national and global scale.

Change can be a wonderful new opportunity, but it can also be a present with ugly wrapping paper. Have you experienced change lately that leaves you unsettled or unhappy?

I found myself receiving a present with ugly wrapping paper on Wednesday. The change seemed too much to handle, and I just wanted to stick my head in a hole and ignore it.

There is a natural remedy that can help with this unsettled feeling that comes with change--Walnut flower essence. Flower essences are gentle, yet powerful, remedies that can help when a person feels stuck. They are often selected based on a person's emotional state, but they support healing physically, emotionally, mentally, and even spiritually. It is a system of natural remedies that treats the whole person.

I took Walnut remedy on Wednesday morning, and I'm happy to say I was able to pull my head out of the hole and face the change in a better state of mind.

To learn more about this and other flower essences, please consider joining my flower essence class series in October. More information can be found at my website at www.ourhealingroots.net under "Classes/Events". You can call 918-813-1874 or e-mail office@ourhealingroots.net to register.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Preparing for the Herbal Harvest Festival

The Herb Harvest Festival at the Ozark Folk Center is just around the corner! This morning, I was busy preparing for class by making "wara," a traditional Nigerian cheese. What you see in the picture above is the separation of curds and whey. Yes, this is what little Miss Muffet was eating on her tuffet. The white solids are the curd, and the yellow liquid is the whey. Curds are separated out to make cheese.
For one gallon of milk, you certainly don't get a lot of curds. Pictured below is all the whey I strained off from making my cheese (and it's not even all of it)!  It takes a lot of milk to make cheese.


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

What is Constitutional Hydrotherapy?

Most people associate hydrotherapy with warm, relaxing whirlpool tubs. When I was a student in naturopathic college, I was looking forward to that course. Alas, our hydrotherapy classroom and clinic had no whirlpool tubs. In fact, there were no bath tubs at all! I quickly learned that the naturopathic style of hydrotherapy was far different. This tradition of hydrotherapy emerged from the historic European "Water Cure" movement. Imagine a time when the drugs of today didn't exist and when applications of water were used to help heal life threatening diseases such as TB and diabetes.

Naturopathic constitutional hydrotherapy is the alternating application of hot and cold towels over the chest, abdomen and back. It promotes healthy circulation and helps to reset the autonomic nervous system when our body is stuck in overdrive with stress. The most supportive part of this therapy is not the warm towel, but the application of a cold towel.

Typically, constitutional hydrotherapy is delivered as a series of sessions provided over several weeks. Naturopathic health care providers continue to provide this service today to help address some of the chronic diseases of our time. It is one of our most important tools in supporting the body to heal.