My journey into alternative medicine began because of my son’s health. As an infant and toddler, he had ear infections, was a restless sleeper. Troublesome, worrisome and perplexing, I felt forced to look at health in general and his in particular from a different angle. How could I create foundational health for him when traditional medicine seemed to be a band-aid? It helped with the crisis but didn’t seem able to get to the root of the problem?
He was born in New Jersey where naturopathic medicine was /is not licensed. When he was three years old we moved back to CT, my home state, where I found out naturopaths are licensed to practice medicine. Remember I was trained as a nurse in western, allopathic medicine so this was a stretch for me. But I was tired, tired of long restless nights with him, cranky daytimes and his ill health. I had to step off the medical model I was trained in, face my fears, ( I was told in nursing school that chiropractors, naturopaths etc were “quacks”) and investigate alternative medicine for myself. I learned a whole lot, became angry that good research was not mainstream though potentially helpful.
Through a series of synchronistic encounters, I met a couple fo N.D.’s, Naturopathic physicians, who were licensed to practice medicine in the state of CT. Through specific testing, we found out my son was very sensitive to certain foods. When I removed them from his diet, the results were miraculous. After three days of removing these suspected culprits from his diet, he slept peacefully. Gradually his ears improved and so did his overall health.
Naturopathy refers to a system of medical practice that combines a mainstream understanding of human physiology and disease with alternative remedies. Naturopathy grew out of taking the
cure from natural mineral springs and spas prevalent in Europe in the 1800’s. This model flourished in the 1800’s and early 1900’s here in the USA. However, hospitals and schools were shut down by the 1920’s by the rise of biomedicines and the Flexner Report. As complementary and alternative medicine experienced a resurgence in the 1970’s, we began to see N.D.’s in our cities here in CT.
This practice chooses natural remedies aimed at stimulating the body’s own healing ability rather than surgery and drugs. These Doc’s have the same medical school training as our allopathic, (western medicine) Doc’s do with a few differences.
First, they cannot perform surgery and cannot prescribe certain classes of drugs. However they are trained in homeopathy, supplements, nutrition, and some are well versed in acupuncture, body therapies, traditional Chinese herbs, Ayurveda herbs, and western herbology.
My podcast guest this week, Dr. Ashley Burkman, highlighted her approach, involving a comprehensive review of a person’s lifestyle, environment, work and study habits, routines, in order to address whatever her patients present. On my first visit to an N.D. with my young son, I was surprised at the extensive interview and the quality time spent with me and my son. And it paid off. Little by little, we made dietary changes along with the addition of herbs and supplements. He improved. I finally felt he was regaining foundational health and vitality. And for the parents out there with small children, you can imagine my relief.
For the holidays: keep in mind bedtimes both your child’s and yours. We all function better with a good night’s sleep. Try different recipes that contain less refined sugars, refined flours and opt for more organic ingredients where you can. Put on relaxing music while doing kitchen chores. Laugh, smile and giggle. This is a wonderful time of year where true heartfelt giving, family, and friends surround us.
From my heart to yours, have wonderful holidays. Judith
Holidays are upon us. We tend to eat more, party more, join family and friends and drink more. And depending on our unique immune system strength, we can open the door to colds and flu. Who among us likes to be sick? Not me and I am sure not you. And it seems that digestion is directly tied to our immune systems which makes building immune strength and resistance a priority.
Digestive issues are prevalent from IBS, heartburn/ GERD, and IBD. I am sure most of you have heard of one if not all of these ailments. But what can we do to aid our digestion during these “off our routine” kind of times?
My podcast guest this week, Dr. Scott Gerson, MD and Ayurvedic physician reminded me how powerful one herb is on its own. One single herb, such as ginger, contains many constituents creating a unique formula all on its own. Highly recommended in Ayurvedic medicine both traditionally and today, ginger is one plant to keep in our kitchen. Besides adding flavor and pungency to a variety of dishes, a simple single tea from ginger root soothes digestion. Ginger, popular in many countries for its culinary flavors, can be pickled, honeyed, as well as added to soups, stews, fish, meat and vegetarian dishes.
Ginger: Zingiber officinale
Where found: thought to originate in the Indian subcontinent to Asia. Brought to East Indies by Spanish explorers and brought to Spain and then Europe.
Parts Used: Rhizome: a Rhizome is an underground stem: a thick underground horizontal stem that produces roots and has shoots that develop into new plants; from Greek rhizoma “mass of tree roots,” Rhizomes are underground stems that grow horizontally that produce a number of plants and are known to spread rapidly.
Nutritional Value: Contains macronutrients and many micronutrients. And as Dr. Gerson explained, a single herb, known for a primary constituent has many more trace constituents that aid, and compliment, and help us utilize the very component we seek. In a sense, a single herb is a compound formula. This is a great reminder and illustrates the value of drinking herb teas. How about adding ginger to your routine?
3 tips for purchasing and using ginger today:
- When buying ginger root, snap off a small knob which should be crisp. Do not buy with any mold.
- Ginger can stay out of the refrigerator for about a week. Place in paper towels and they will keep much longer in the refrigerator.
- Unpeeled ginger root will last longer. Peel the skin off as mentioned above when you are ready to use it in tea or in a recipe. Keep what you need in the refrigerator. Freeze the rest for later use.
A little sharp, pungent flavor mixed with the oils in lemon goes well with the addition of maple syrup, honey to soothe irritated or dry throats as winter keeps us indoors. Here’s an example of a ginger tea recipe, easy to make.
Ginger Tea Recipe
- water, 4 cups
- 2-inch piece of fresh ginger root
- optional: honey and lemon slice
- Peel the ginger root and slice it into thin slices. Bring the water to a boil in a saucepan. Once it is boiling, add the ginger. Cover it and reduce to simmer for 15-20 minutes. Strain the tea. Add honey and lemon to taste.
Pungent and spicy with a little kick in taste soothes stomachs. When our digestive organs are soothed we are soothed. It’s fascinating to me that an herb to calm the stomach actually soothes our mind. When we are calm so is our digestion. Everything is connected and single herb teas provide so many tasty solutions to what ails us. What’s your favorite? Be well this holiday season.
This week’s guest on my podcast series, Holistic Nature of Us, is Janet Verney. I invited Janet to share an idea for supporting a healthy gut. Her photo and topic include herbs that many of us grow, whether on windowsills, in containers or gardens. Easy to use and a delight to harvest especially this time of year, these herbs provide nourishment and extra benefits towards maintaining a healthy gut.
Why is this so important? Our guts play an extremely important role not only in digestion but keeping our immune systems healthy. Think about this: everything we eat and drink comes from the outside world. Our biological system needs to stay healthy. Growing good bacteria in our gut contributes to overall health and vitality and protects us from unwanted negative bacteria, toxins. Enjoy her easy recipe and valuable message.
Did you know that Herbs & Olive Oil are a win-win for your GUT? In this picture, I have fresh rosemary, sage, oregano, and thyme in a glass jar with some organic, extra virgin olive oil.
• Rosemary, Rosmarinus officinalis, supports poor digestion of fats and has some prebiotic properties.
• Sage, Salvia officinalis, can reduce bloating and abdominal spasms. In olive oil, it can help lower blood sugars.
• Oregano, Origanum majorana, is a powerful antioxidant, is anti-microbial and promotes healthy gut bacteria.
• Thyme, Thymus vulgaris, mixed with olive oil is superior for gut health.
Olive oil is a polyphenol that is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and is believed to help lower LDL, bad cholesterol. So get some high-quality organic olive oil and some fresh herbs and make your own wonderful infused oil for use on salads of all kinds, or over some GF Ancient Harvest pasta with lightly sautéed veggies. Happy Gut, Healthy Life!
By Janet E.Verney, Author, Certified Integrative Nutrition Coach, & Wellness Designer at ROOTS2Wellness.com Janet-Verney-
Always, your comments and support are appreciated. Please share.
Description: Janet Verney shares her journey of seeking a diagnosis from a serious but unsolved lung ailment, undergoing multiple and complicated testing to letting go. It’s not an easy task to find health solutions but Janet’s journey inspires us as she learned about gut health, the detrimental effects of NSAIDS, (non- steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs, usually over the counter) and more. She offers practical health tips as she recounts her journey.
About My Guest: Janet Verney is certified in Integrative Health and specializes in Women’s Wellness. As The Wellness Designer, she creates fun and educational programs for women around the world. Janet is passionate about living a rich and full life through delicious food and an abundant lifestyle!
Transcript: #25 Janet Varney
Food, that which nourishes us and sustains us, has been compromised. Yet, food is a complex topic, one that includes agriculture and large farming methods, food safety, food security, organics, pest management, soil health, water usage and more.
My podcast guest this week, Rachel Sayet, is a member of two food sovereignty groups. As I delved into this tipoic, I realized that food security is often intertwined with food sovereignty yet they have a different focus. What’s the difference between food sovereignty and food security? A lot.
“Food security does not distinguish where food comes from, or the conditions under which it is produced and distributed. National food security targets are often met by sourcing food produced under environmentally destructive and exploitative conditions, and supported by subsidies and policies that destroy local food producers but benefit agribusiness corporations.”
“Food sovereignty emphasizes ecologically appropriate production, distribution and consumption,
social-economic justice and local food systems as ways to tackle hunger and poverty and
guarantee sustainable food security for all peoples. It advocates trade and investment that serve
the collective aspirations of society. It promotes community control of productive resources;
agrarian reform and tenure security for small-scale producers; agro-ecology; biodiversity; local
knowledge; the rights of peasants, women, indigenous peoples and workers; social protection and climate justice.”
According to The Six Pillars of Food Sovereignty, developed at Nyéléni, 2007 (Food Secure Canada,
2012), food sovereignty is defined by these parameters:
1. Focuses on food for the people by: a) placing people’s need for food at the centre of policies;
and b) insisting that food is more than just a commodity.
2. Values food providers by: a) supporting sustainable livelihoods; and b) respecting the work of
all food providers.
3. Localizes food systems by: a) reducing the distance between suppliers and consumers; b)
rejecting dumping and inappropriate food aid; and c) resisting dependence on remote and
4. Places control at a local level by: a) placing control in the hands of local food suppliers; b)
recognizing the need to inhabit and share territories; and c) rejecting the privatization of natural
5. Promotes knowledge and skills by: a) building on traditional knowledge; b) using research to
support and pass on this knowledge to future generations; and c) rejecting technologies that
undermine local food systems.
6. Works with nature by: a) maximizing the contributions of ecosystems; b) improving resilience;
and c) rejecting energy intensive, monocultural, industrialized and destructive production methods.
The Food Sovereignty Alliance website provides detailed information about legislation, events, resources for thoughtful action.
I don’t know about you but I choose organic food grown with sustainable practices that ensure nutritious food, healthy soil, air, and water for future generations. We are slowly turning this planet into one big desert. It’s time for practical action and profound inner change! Please comment and share. Thanks.
Description: Rachel Sayet, walks her talk as she travels around our country teaching and sharing Native American traditional cooking and culture. She is a member of the Mohegan Tribe here in SW CT and a chef with a background in restaurant management and a Masters Degree in Anthropology. Her teaching experiences are varied as she hopes to bring back more traditional foods along with their rich history of storytelling, music, and calendars. She supports the US Food Sovereignty Alliance and the Native American Food Sovereignty Alliance. Her enthusiasm and energy are inspiring.
About My Guest: Rachel is a Mohegan tribal member from Uncasville, Connecticut. She received her bachelor’s degree in restaurant management from Cornell University. While attending Cornell, Rachel worked in kitchens and took many culinary classes. Upon graduation, Rachel worked as a personal chef in upstate New York. She later went on to receive her master’s in anthropology at Harvard University. Rachel has been working for the Mohegan Cultural Department since 2013. Since then, she has also been researching Native American foods. She has presented her work throughout the country at conferences and classrooms, and has begun food sovereignty initiatives at the Mohegan Tribe; partnering with the health department on gardening events, cooking and storytelling workshops for Mohegan youth, and a native cooking show. Her most recent project is the Native Food Discussion Group, created in order to share knowledge about seasonal eating, harvesting, growing, and fishing practices.
Transcript: #22 Rachel Sayet