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, February 27, 2013

Starting with Authentic Sourdough

frame for photo courtesy of cottagearts.net
Sourdough was the first form of bread to exist. Commercial yeast and yeast breads are a relatively new phenomenon in human history.  Many commercial sourdough breads today are just yeast breads with sourdough flavoring. Authentic sourdough bread is actually made from a sour dough, impregnated with a balanced culture of healthy bacteria and yeast. This culture, which is used to make the bread, is sometimes called the “Mother” or the “starter” (pictured above).
Most sourdough starters can be purchased or received as a gift. If you are new at baking with sourdough, this is an excellent way to start because you can learn what a healthy culture looks like and learn how to maintain the culture. Once you know what to look for and how to take care of your culture, then you might venture out to make your own starter.  In its most basic essence, a sourdough culture is made from flour and water (and lots of time). The microbes are naturally present on the flour and become active after being exposed to water. Also, the wild microbes in your environment will have some influence. No need to special order any bacteria or yeast!
Pictured above is our sourdough starter.  She’s beautiful, isn’t she? We are not heavy bread eaters in our household. So, she spends most of her time in the refrigerator, so she doesn’t grow too fast. We take her out and feed her flour and water on a weekly basis. With it being winter, we’ll typically bake a loaf of bread each week.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Upcoming Sourdough Class

My mother is a microbiologist. Growing up, I learned from her that bacteria are normal phenomenon, and we were not on a rampage to eradicate bacteria. She was hip to the health benefits of good bacteria before it was even popular, and believed it was good for me to be raised in a non-sterile and unbleached environment. Soap and water were the predominant cleansers of my childhood.

One of my favorite factoids to share with patients is that there are more bacteria in and on our body than there are cells, and without bacteria, we would not live for very long. I’m truly in awe of this fact. For all that bacteria get a bad rap, they do some pretty amazing things for us—produce essential vitamins, out crowd harmful bacteria and support our immune system, clean toxic waste sites, and produce amazing food, just to name a few.

This week I will be featuring sourdough, which exists because of a symbiotic and balanced relationship between bacteria and yeast. The bacteria metabolize sugars and produce lactic acid. The yeast are unable to metabolize the sugars, but they can break down the lactic acid produced by the bacteria. Thus, they depend on one another to survive. The sour of sourdough actually comes from lactic acid produced by bacteria. Thanks to this relationship, we have been able to enjoy bread for thousands of years.

On Saturday afternoon, March 9th, Merry Schepers and I will be hosting a four hour class on sourdough bread in Tulsa, OK. Each class participant will get a sourdough starter culture. We will show you how to maintain your culture and bake bread with it.  The cost of the class is $25, and you can sign up by e-mailing me directly at office@ourhealingroots.net.  

Saturday, February 23, 2013

What's in my tea cup...

frame courtesy of cottagearts.net
It's a chilly afternoon and I've got a hot cup of chai in my hands. It consists of a special homemade blend of chai tea delivered as a gift from a dear friend. This blend is called "Coconut Assam Chai Tea." The coconut is a subtle top note, while the spices provide a heavy base note.
The term chai simply means tea; however, in the States it typically refers to a traditional spiced tea from India. Traditionally, it is made with milk. The fat in the milk can actually increase the absorption of certain phytochemicals in the spices.
Green tea is commonly touted for its benefits in supporting the immune system of cancer patients. However, many of my oncology patients tell me they do not care for the taste of green tea. Chai can be a great tasting alternative to green tea. Many of the spices are warming and also contain immune supportive phytochemicals. Many chai blends also contain ginger, which may stimulate the appetite by promoting gastric emptying and by quelling nausea.
To learn more about the healing properties of chai, check out my favorite article about chai written by Dr. Tina Kaczor in the Natural Medicine Journal-- http://www.naturalmedicinejournal.com/article_content.asp?article=91.  

Friday, February 22, 2013

...and it begins with tea

 frame for photo courtesy of cottagearts.net
I begin my winter days with a warm cup of comfort in my hand--tea. So, it seems only appropriate to open my blog with the tradition of tea. If you were to join me at my home, I would be offering you a warm cup of tea now.  The tradition of sharing tea with a friend or simply sipping tea alone in the early dawn light deeply comforts me.
At heart, I was drawn to natural medicine by the beautiful and aromatic herbs and spices. Botanical medicine is truly a passion of mine. One of the foundational preparations of botanical medicine is tea. Amazingly, it can be made and served in a diversity of ways--beverage teas, hot infusions, cold infusions, sunlight infusions, even by the moonlight infusions, tea bags, strainers, tea presses, and decoctions. The study of the tea leaf could fill volumes, and yet "tea" can be made with any number of other plants. 
A search on PubMed.gov brings up over 19,000 peer reviewed, scientific papers on tea. A meta analysis just e-published on Wednesday from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (PMID: 23426037) suggests that green tea with or without caffeine can significantly reduce fasting blood sugar levels over a 12 week period.
What are you sipping in your tea cup today?