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As you guys know, 2019 has already been a wild ride for me. If you told me even one month ago that I’d be in a studio rekindling my deepest passion and finding my voice again, I probably wouldn’t believe it.
Since my other passion of course is all about health and we view the body holistically, I know that what you eat and how you live can have a huge impact on the quality of your voice. I asked my teachers for their “herbal secrets” regarding singing, and this is the list of tips I came away with!
1. ACORUS CALAMUS ROOT (tincture)
Often called “Singer’s Root” or “Preacher’s Root.” A very unusual herb that’s both a relaxant and stimulant. It helps to increase the range of the voice and center your energy, plus eases discomfort when your vocal chords are tired. This is a very low dose herb so I just use 5-10 drops under my tongue or sipped in tea. In Ayurveda, this herb is called “vacha” meaning literally “to speak” and it helps connect the heart to the voice, helping anxious people feel able to speak up about things.
2. STONE ROOT aka Collinsonia (tincture)
Helps you relax your larynx to hit those sultry low notes. My teacher says to combine this with equal parts Calamus for a 50/50 tincture. Indicated for tenderness, hoarseness, and cough brought on by intensive speaking or singing. Also a very low dose herb (5-10 drops).
3. DIGESTION IS KEY FOR SINGERS
You must be extracting Qi (energy) from food to propel the voice. Food must be digested “downward” energetically (instead of coming back up with reflux, etc) which is where digestive bitters come in with their downward moving energy. Use digestive bitters throughout the day/week/in your regular routine rather than using them directly before singing because the digestion piece is more of a long term effort that has an indirect effect.
4. “NERVINE” HERBS TO RELAX
The class of “nervine” herbs are our best anti-anxiety allies (they can be found in both my Peace Juice and Mood Juice). You can kill 2 birds with one stone by using “nervine bitters” which are herbs that are both nervines and digestive bitters. These include: blue vervain, chamomile, mugwort, lemon balm, gentian, wood betony, and more. You can create your own digestive bitters blend with a few of these or choose an existing bitters blend that already contains several.
5. PAY ATTENTION TO HOW YOU’RE DIGESTING CARBS
I asked why it seems that I sing better when I’m eating a lower carb diet. My teacher Claudia said, “That makes sense, because many people have trouble digesting carbs. They can sometimes slow us down, make us tired, they’re hard to digest, and they get ‘stuck’ in the middle.” Eating what digests well and easily is the best way to improve singing via improved, more seamless digestion. For many people that is either low/lower carb OR eating the “right” carbs that are properly prepared if you can tolerate: 48 hour fermented sourdough bread, soaked and sprouted grains, etc.
6. OIL YOUR BODY
In the system of Ayurveda, people who are of the “kapha” dosha are natural born singers as they are very well lubricated and have a strong constitution for belting out those notes from the belly. You can spot a Kapha singer by their big white teeth (Brandy, Lea Michelle) and their strong, solid build (Adele, Pavarotti). Kaphas are very loving and nurturing, their skin is supple and well-oiled and they often have rounder features. You can support your own Kapha (since we each have all 3 doshas within us in some form) by oiling your body via self-massage.
Do this before a bath or shower; you’re not “washing the oil off,” you’re actually opening up the pores and helping the oil to penetrate deeper into tissue.
Singing requires a lot of moisture and lubrication so the throat doesn’t try out (which is again why Kaphas do so well). Ayurveda says to regularly lubricate your head, neck and throat to maintain a clear and firm voice. Nasya Oil is the most powerful lubricating tool for healthy voice and an essential part of the Ayurvedic daily morning routine “dinacharya” prescribed for everyone. You use Nasya Oil by dropping your head back and inhaling 1-3 drops per nostril with a deeeeep breath. The goal is to “sniff it up to the brain,” as one of the benefits of Nasya Oil is to stimulate the pineal and pituitary glands to regulate hormones. Funny enough, this relates to #1 because Nasya Oil traditionally contains infused Calamus Root!
8. OIL PULLING
Although this a trend in today’s world, oil pulling has been part of the Ayurvedic dinacharya for thousands of years. While it’s helpful for teeth whitening and oral health, the benefits go much deeper (read more in my post here).
“Keeping of oil gargle provides strength in jaws and voice, development of the face, maximum taste and relish of food. One does not suffer from dryness of throat, lip cracking and teeth become firmly rooted. The teeth do not ache or become sensitive and can chew the hardest food items.”
~ Caraka Samhita Ch V -78 to 80.
Oil pulling is yet another way to lubricate the throat, vocal chords, etc. I’ve recently added this into my routine and I do feel that food tastes a bit more delicious (and my voice doesn’t get tired as quickly!)
Today we launched our brand new hair formula, “Mane Magic” which is based on principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine. In honor of launch day, I wanted to give you guys a background story on why and how this formula came to be!
When my hair began shedding at an accelerated rate, I tried everything under the sun to find relief.
I took every “hair growth” herb in the book, did stimulating scalp massages, downed biotin like it was my job, and even bought a $600 infrared cap that proved to be nothing more than a (very expensive) safety helmet. After kicking it across the room one night, I decided to explore the one thing I was forgetting… the system of medicine that got me interested in herbs in the first place: Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Because so much of what I study in school is now geared towards Western concepts and North American herbs, I was looking at “hair loss” and “hair growth” from a very modern and black-and-white perspective. Traditional Chinese Medicine on the other hand looks at patterns of disharmony, which allows you to sort of match your main symptom up with a group of other symptoms related to a specific “health pattern.” Everything clicked when I saw that hair loss is related to a pattern called blood deficiency, which often comes with other hallmark indicators such as dry hair, dry skin, brittle nails, anemia, scanty periods, mental fatigue, pale complexion, blurred vision and feeling like you’re easily startled. Not everyone will have all symptoms associated with blood deficiency as we’re all different and lead vastly different lives, but this is one of the most common patterns seen by TCM practitioners in our fast-paced world.
I decided to give Chinese medicine’s “blood building” herbs a shot with the help of my chemist who created a sample formula for me. I originally wanted to see if it would improve my scanty periods (I was bleeding for only 1-3 days with a light, sometimes brownish flow that felt incomplete. Bleeding too little is a sign of imbalance just like bleeding too much is!) After my first month on this blood deficiency formula, I had one of the best periods of my life… but more importantly, my hair appeared to be shedding less and less. I knew I would need at least 2-3 months to really see a change, but I was extremely hopeful.
It has now been almost 5 months and I am amazed at how much better my hair looks and feels. Before it was getting very dry and brittle, especially on the ends, but now it’s much softer and shinier from top to bottom. The luster and body that was slowly fading is back – it sort of feels like I watered a plant that was crying out for nourishment. The shedding has not completely stopped, but has improved and only continues to. We will always lose a certain amount of hair each day (50-100 strands is the norm) and I feel much closer to that “normal” range than I have in a long time. The most substantial difference I’ve noticed (which you guys have pointed out as well through my daily stories on Instagram) is the growth! I can’t believe how much my hair has grown the past few months. It is much longer, shinier, and stronger.=
A friend who has been taking this formula with me also pointed out that we can go longer in between washes because it seems to be balancing oil production on the scalp. Since many of the herbs are targeted towards the “dry skin”/“dry hair” symptoms of blood deficiency, I believe that our scalps have more moisture and nourishment which means we’re not overproducing oil to compensate. I’ve been able to wash my hair once a week which I haven’t done since I was in my teens. The final change we’ve noticed is stronger, longer nails that don’t break easily and have more color to them. (Pale nails are another sign of blood deficiency!)
HOW THE FORMULA WORKS:
According to TCM, the growth and development of healthy hair depends on proper functioning of the Kidney and Liver organ systems/meridians. Their idea of the “Kidney” meridian is much different from the Western view of anatomy and includes the entire reproductive system (which means hormone balance is a factor here, too!)
The Kidney “meridian” also includes the Kidney “Jing,” known as the inherited Qi we get from our parents that is akin to a bank account of money. When you’re born, all the figurative money or “Jing” you’ll ever have is in your account, which is why you must spend it wisely. Drugs, alcohol, stress, and late nights are examples of things that “cost” us extra Jing. Protecting your Kidney Jing protects your energy levels, vitality, hair, teeth, bones, and longevity.
Their view of the “Liver” differs too, as it encompasses everything from the smooth flow and excretion of hormones to the regulation and circadian rhythm of Qi (vital energy). It all comes full circle as the Liver meridian governs hair health and is supported energetically by Kidney Jing, which influences the growth of all body cells, including the hair.
Most importantly, blood from the Liver meridian nourishes the hair follicle and the hair itself is seen as an extension of blood. The most common causes of declining hair health, premature greying and hair loss in TCM are related to deficient and/or stagnant “Liver Blood” (Blood Deficiency) and Kidney Deficiency.
This formula is designed with “blood tonic” herbs that nourish the “Liver Blood” and activate blood circulation in order to reinvigorate the hair follicle. The blood building herbs are complimented with Kidney meridian herbs that support and protect Kidney Yin and Kidney Jing in order to promote healthy hair growth. From a Western perspective, “blood tonic” herbs, such as the astragalus used in our formula, usually have immune-regulating actions, which may be relevant in managing autoimmune factors that can contribute to hair issues.
The primary herb that comprises the base of this formula, Fo-Ti Root (also known as “He Shou Wu”) is a classic herb for nourishing the blood, invigorating hair growth, and supporting one’s natural hair color. For this reason it is often referred to as “Mr. He’s Black Hair,” although I can’t vouch for that piece as I haven’t experienced premature graying myself. In TCM, this herb is used to tonify both the Liver and Kidney meridians, nourish the “Liver Blood” and strengthen Kidney Jing to support hair follicle strength and development. Other herbs used include White Peony, Dong Quai, Ligusticum and Rehmannia which promote the quality and circulation of blood. Dong Quai specifically invigorates blood flow, harmonizes the relationship between the Liver and Kidneys, and modulates hormones which may help with shedding related to hormone imbalance. There is also evidence that it may improve the absorption and storage of iron, which is important in cases of poor hair health due to iron deficiency or thyroid issues.
Overall, this formula targets the underlying pathological processes and patterns that cause hair follicles to be undernourished.
Because everyone is different, results may vary from a reduction in hair fall to overall shinier, healthier hair. TCM believes that if it took you 6 months to get where you are, it will take at least that to get where you want to be as the body retraces and rebuilds. For this reason, Mane Magic is most effective if taken for two or more months.
This formula is suitable for both men and women. Women should discontinue use during the duration of their menstrual periods as this formula truly “moves the blood.” When you finish bleeding, you can start right back up again. Not to be used while pregnant or nursing.
HOW TO USE: Take 60 drops (2 full droppers) 2 times per day in water or juice. Take on an empty stomach (away from food by at least 20 minutes) for highest absorption.
I have a gooood story to tell you today. It’s a continuation of the saga I’ve been going through this past month, where it feels like I am finally releasing a chunk of the emotional clutter I’ve been working through ever since I moved out of my parents’ house and began life on my own. I’ve been detailing this journey on my Instagram stories, and I’d like to give you some more background here before I go into what happened to me yesterday.
PART 1: THE BACKGROUND STORY
As you may know from the personal posts I’ve shared on my site over the years, I (like most of us) had some difficulties in my childhood that left a lasting impression on me. We’ve all been wounded in some way during those formative years, and I am constantly floored by how the seemingly “insignificant” events from our younger years stay with us in the deep pockets of our physical and emotional bodies. Something I’ve done since the very beginning of my journey on social media is speak about this trauma openly, because this is the root of so much of the anxiety, depression, self-loathing, addiction, and maladaptive coping mechanisms so many of us battle with behind closed doors.
My particular childhood trauma stems from my relationship with my mother who has always grappled with mental illness. It was very difficult to live under her wrath, and my healing only began when I was able to completely get away from the emotional and verbal vitriol. That’s when I was able to meet my true self for the first time in a long time, because I realized at one point that I had to become the monster I was fighting in order to survive. This caused me to hate myself for far too long, and turned me into someone my soul could not recognize.
Sometimes people ask me why I choose to share such personal details that could offend my family members and while I understand that risk, I also understand that it’s even more important to end the taboo nature and stigma surrounding this topic. The reality is, parents are humans doing their best with what they’ve been given. Parents are wounded too, and hurt people go on to hurt people. I will make mistakes just like my mother did, but I want to take care of my mental health now before it gets to that point. I know that my mother only became “the monster” in order to survive her mother… and she had it even worse than me. That cycle continues back as far as I can trace and I will be the daughter to break it. If we don’t talk about it, we can’t end it. And every time I *do* speak about what I’ve gone through, I get messages from hundreds of women who thought they were alone dealing with trauma due to a parent-child relationship.
We are not alone, and we shouldn’t be quiet because the more we share what’s working for us, the more we can help each other heal.
The year that I moved out was possibly the hardest I can recall. I thought I was free… and from my logic, it should have been the best year of my life, unchained and liberated from the rage and manipulation. What I didn’t realize was that years of surviving an “abnormal” situation often leaves you with “abnormal” coping mechanisms, “abnormal” neural pathways (anxiety, negative self-talk, looping thought patterns, self-doubt), and “abnormal” mental health status; not to mention brand new chains of your own that exist in the most sacred place that the trauma invades: the mind you live in every day. I put “abnormal” in quotes because there is no such thing as normal, period. It’s just the best way I can describe it.
I realize now that my mother’s voice became integrated with my own. I had to learn to catch when I was beating myself up, and realize these are not my words – I have the power to create a new narrative (easier said than done). It wasn’t as simple as just escaping the situation. Anyone who grew up in a chaotic/dysfunctional home, or survived a traumatic relationship of any kind, knows that it stays with you longer than you’d like. The anger you feel towards that person, and eventually towards yourself feels like it will never leave.
It all started with plain old therapy.
I was not the happy and fully functioning person I expected to be once I started my “new life,” especially when it came to relationships with others and self-worth/self-love (because how can you love others if you can’t love yourself?) I was mean to myself, mean to Nick at times, and felt out of control. I was acting just like her (including isolating myself) and I was miserable.
I knew I needed help. Unfortunately, I had to go through 5 or 6 therapists until I found the right fit, and the one who actually made a difference for me does not accept insurance so it’s a hefty expense. This is something that saddens me about the mental health industry. The “best” therapists are usually the ones who invest in continuing education to explore the latest and greatest integrative techniques. This means they charge more to fund their education. This is a field that shouldn’t fuel the cliche “you get what you pay for,” but I have found it to be all too true. I realize that having access to this type of care is a huge privilege and that is another reason I continually speak about what I learn and take away from my own therapy sessions. I want to share as much as I can.
Therapy helped, but it wasn’t the full picture. Talking to someone for 1 hour a week is wonderful, but you must help yourself the other 167. One of the things my therapist told me was to “schedule” both mental-health-supporting activities (like journaling) and fun (like cooking classes or friend dates) into my life the same way I schedule work or appointments. Turns out fun, joy, and passion are extremely important when healing from trauma, and something we deny ourselves when we don’t feel worthy. My next step was to schedule voice lessons each week to get back to singing, an important emotional and mental escape for me as a child, and something I stopped doing when I wanted to “fit in” and disappear into the crowd. Voice lessons have helped me just as much as therapy has because it allowed me to get the pent up emotion and energy out (and, it was something just for me – an act of self love). When we’ve been hurt or neglected by a caretaker, we often resist taking care of ourselves in ways that remind us of how they didn’t.
I then began seeing my incredible functional medicine doctor (Dr. Gabrielle Lyon) in NYC who helped me take care of my physical body in a way I never did. Because I’m in the health field, I was stubborn and had an “I can do it myself” attitude. Number one rule that I’ve learned: just because you’re good at helping others doesn’t mean you can’t ask for help yourself. You deserve to be taken care of as much as everyone else does and you don’t have to do it on your own. In fact, health practitioners treating themselves is not a good idea because of your own blind spots and biases. Dr. Lyon saw the best version of me within the current ‘me’ sitting in front of her and spoke to me as such from day one. She held me to the high standards and expectations I was capable of and looked me right in the eyes when she said “YOU ARE NOT HER.” When you are a woman with a mother wound, having a strong woman genuinely love and believe in you is everything.
After beginning my journey with Dr. Lyon, I began moving my body consistently again with daily walks (something I realized I stopped doing literally within weeks of moving out on my own). I started losing fat and building muscle, and I felt so much happier with just this step. I had been eating so healthy and taking all these fabulous herbs for years, yet was sedentary and missing the movement piece entirely. There’s a reason for that (which I’ll talk more about in another post): I knew that stirring up the body meant stirring up the trauma stored in the physical.
I have always said I “hated” exercise… but that’s because my body is great at tucking away and protecting me from the things I don’t want to feel. Exercise isn’t hard for me physically, it’s hard for me emotionally. The vulnerability and connection to self is what actually burns. Hating myself was far easier than showing up for myself.
The whole time I was punishing my body by being sedentary, I was unknowingly living in an apartment where I was exposed to mold. This made everything ten times worse and I thank God that I started exercising again because it has been the most important thing I’ve done for mold recovery (other than sauna!)
Now we have the therapy, the voice lessons, the huge step of allowing someone to care for me and my physical health, plus the exercise piece. I felt more stable and supported than ever. I continued to have huge breakthroughs in therapy, which were so much more powerful and intense when I did all these other positive things for myself each week.
Keep in mind though that I was really only walking and occasionally playing around with the 3 machines in my apartment gym. I wasn’t really challenging my physical body, which was fine because I’m glad I took it slow. One day Dr. Lyon saw that I was hitting a bit of a plateau both physically and emotionally, and she recommended Dr. Sylva Dvorak to me, her “hypnotist” as she described it. Sylva is actually like another therapist who yes, incorporates hypnotherapy, but also many other techniques via our Skype sessions such as guided meditations, visualizations, EMDR, inner child work, and more. I switched to seeing my regular therapist every other week so that I could also see Sylva since they are similar in price. She is the person I recommend to those who are not local to me since she works remotely with people around the country. All of a sudden my weeks were packed with lots of ‘work work’ (as I’ve been building my passion and company this whole time), but also lots of ‘self-care work’ that was just for me. The more I scheduled this time for me and showed up for myself, the more I showed up in my career.
Then I met Cato.
Christopher Cato is a massage therapist, personal trainer, and shaman/energy work practitioner who I met by chance through Zeel. I woke up one day and my back was killing me, so I downloaded this little app on my phone and ordered a couple’s massage right to my house. Cato showed up for me alongside another therapist for Nick, and I had no idea what was about to happen. I prepared myself for a relaxing massage and instead received what I can only describe as the most powerful reiki session you can imagine. I immediately knew this was no coincidence and asked Cato if he realized how powerful he was. “I have an idea,” he said… “I just work differently.” Different is what I like, so I booked with him for the next week and it’s been history ever since.
After 2 months of weekly massages, I began feeling emotionally better than I ever had in my life. When I would miss a week, I could completely feel the shift in my energy. He was moving out so much stagnation and it would build back up when I wasn’t actively working through it. He gently suggested to me that this could be avoided if I would just freakin’ stretch and utilize weight-bearing exercise (lifting) to manually pump my lymphatic stagnation. Of course I resisted, cause that’s what I learned to do: resist what I needed most. Luckily he is an angel and like Dr. Lyon, saw the potential in me. Because I had recommended him to so many friends and family members via Instagram and real life, he gifted me with 8 personal training sessions (1 month, 2x a week) as a Christmas present. This changed my world because I would not have done it on my own if it wasn’t a gift. And now I can’t imagine my life without it.
I began personal training January 1st and I have had more emotional release and growth this month than in the 5+ years since I first moved out. I have never exercised “like this” because I never had anyone show me how to. It’s been so long since I had a chance to physically release the emotions I was storing in my musculature, fascia, and fat cells – and that’s what was missing from all this emotional work.
More importantly, I never felt safe enough to be vulnerable with someone about where I actually am physically. I never let anyone help me. For the first time in my life I’m actually building muscle, seeing changes, feeling different, and wanting to move. I can officially say I enjoy exercise with all of my heart because I am enjoying taking care of myself. Having someone create that safe space was essential for my success in this area. This is a common theme here: DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP. We need other people whether they are professionals, communities, or friends.
At the week 3 point, I had a major breakthrough. I talked about this on my IG stories under the highlight titled “mind BLOWN.” I showed up for my workout one morning and after 100 jumping jacks, I broke down in tears. I was embarrassed at first. “You’re very good at being vulnerable with strangers on the internet, but not so good at opening up to the tribe around you,” he said. That hit me hard. “It’s normal to feel this… those jumping jacks have a way of digging.” I let it all out the rest of the workout as he took it easy with me and focused on gently moving the emotions out. During our closing stretches I cried harder than I’ve allowed myself to in a long time, especially when it came to the hips where women hold so much pain and shame.
It felt like years of gunk were being ripped out of me in the best way. The next night, we had our usual massage which is basically a 2 hour meditation where you’re forced to be silent and alone with your own consciousness. For the first time, I understood the “bliss” and “higher planes” people talk about achieving via meditation, and I truly entered another realm. My whole body began vibrating and I started seeing visions of all my greatest hopes and dreams of helping others and fulfilling my purpose. I saw myself hosting retreats, community classes, I saw my wedding, and all I kept thinking was how can we all win more?! How can we all heal together? How can I do more for this world and community? I felt pure joy for the first time (something I always had trouble feeling) and felt like life was actually good. I felt so much gratitude for everyone in my life…. especially for myself because I showed up to do this work… and felt like I actually deserved to be happy. I was basically on mushrooms minus the fungi. More about this on my Instagram highlights if you’re curious!
PART 2: THE CURRENT STORY
Now that I’ve written a novel, let me tell you the story I came here here to tell. It’s been a week since the blissful meditation experience and I’ve already had my second brush with an unexplained phenomenon.
To give you a touch more context, I want to start by saying that our bodies are extremely intelligent. Because of this, the body will actually store fat to protect us. Sometimes that means physical protection (when we’re exposed to lead for example the body up-regulates fat storage to protect the vital organs from the lead). Other times, that means emotional protection: when we feel angry, unloved, alone, etc… we also build up fat as “protection” or “padding” from the external world that we do not trust (and from others who have hurt us).
So clearly, I’m already experiencing an emotional revolution this month ever since I started exercising because I’m finally having to deal with all the stored emotions that my body fat was keeping safe within my body. I was sedentary for so long because I didn’t want to feel things. It was easier to be still and not stir it up. When you move it out, you actually have to deal with it and feel it once more to release it.
Now, I didn’t connect it until yesterday, but recently I’ve been doing cryotherapy fat freezing sessions with my friend Tonya at a place called The Nordic Edge. My goal with this was to accelerate my results from training and work on stubborn areas. Last Monday, I had a session on my stomach and they say you’ll be peeing out the debris from the fat cells over the next 72 hours. Because of this, you have to exercise or get a lymphatic massage to move everything out of your lymph. That Wednesday was the day I cried during exercise, and that Thursday I had my vibration meditation experience because I released so much and was mentally/physically lighter.
This led me to believe that all the emotional and spiritual acceleration I experienced last week was partly due to physically freezing the fat and moving it out through exercise… all the emotions stored in those fat cells were stirred up and released too.
Yesterday, I had a cryotherapy session on the back of my thighs to target cellulite. I’m not even being hard on myself, I’m just being honest when I say that this is my problem area and my cellulite is extremely pronounced compared to almost all other women that I’ve seen. My mom is the same way and it’s all on the back of her legs like me. I’ve always felt this is very symbolic and is related to stored/hardened emotional baggage. I also find it interesting that I store so much body fat and emotion in a place that I can easily hide with all clothing except a bathing suit (so I don’t have to ‘show my pain to others’ – back to vulnerability!)
After the cryotherapy, my friend Nasya and I did a personal training session with Cato around 2:30. Once we finished, he proceeded to stretch/mini-massage us since that’s part of his whole integrative style.
He started with Nasya, then he moved on to me…. and mind you, I didn’t tell him where I got my fat frozen whatsoever. I just joked that we “froze ourselves” earlier so we had to workout. He had me lay on my stomach and immediately went directly to the area of my thighs where the cellulite was treated like he was a human metal detector. He got stuck there and couldn’t leave; Nasya said he just kept pulling things out of me reiki-style. She told me his face looked like he was in immense physical and emotional pain.
Once he finished, he stood up and looked like he was about to collapse, You could see the exhaustion written all over his face. He dropped to his knees and his tears began flowing. It was the deepest, saddest cry I have ever seen and it felt debilitating for me to watch him because it was my pain that he was working through. I knew what I was storing there. Apparently freezing your fat accelerates the rate at which you release those stored emotions, so buyer beware! Haha.
Of course I had to dig deeper and understand what I released from that area, so I started looking up specific emotions that get stored in specific parts of the body. Here’s something I found about the backside of the body:
“Your back side reflects private and unconscious elements of your life. This side becomes the storehouse for everything you don’t want to deal with or don’t want other people to see. Hidden or unexpressed feelings become frozen into the structure of your body. That means a lot of negative emotions become stored along your spine and in the backs of your legs. Most of your powerful emotions such as anger and fear are stored here.”
Then I went deeper to look for what the thighs would mean, since it was the back of my thighs that we treated. I found this:
“Fat is the receptacle for a range of angers; on the arms it signifies being denied love, on the belly it is about being denied nourishment, the hips hold stubborn anger towards parents, and thighs are packed with childhood anger (often rage at the father).”
I meditated on “rage at the father” because this is something I have realized over the last few years that I deal with but have not faced fully. I feel that I have one of the greatest and kindest fathers on the planet, yet this is also his downfall. He takes care of everyone but himself. He always chose my mother over me. He did whatever to appease her and keep her from verbally abusing him, unfortunately at the sake of his own child who took the heat instead. He never defended me or protected me from her even though he knew the pain that she was causing (because she was doing the same to him). The same way he never fought for me, he never fought for himself.
It’s very easy for me to talk about my mother and everything I’ve been through with her. But I’m not so quick to say “I’m angry with my father because he didn’t protect me from her.” Yet I realized, that hurts 10x more than what she did because he was the one I trusted… the only one I had. I knew she had issues, but I always held out hope that he would help me.
So now… it makes perfect sense. That’s the “private and unconscious element” that even I didn’t want to deal with and surely didn’t want to express to others. I’m so glad that I’m aware of this pain now so that I can unpack it with my therapist and perhaps even express to my father how I feel.
It’s been a crazy ride and this feels like it’s only the beginning of the healing process. I want..
I used to swear that I hated beets… I just couldn’t fathom that people wanted to eat them! Somehow, Nick has this talent of making any food taste delicious, and he truly changed my life with this recipe. I’m so glad because beets are an incredible liver detox food packed with betaine (which helps the liver cells release bile and eliminate toxins) along with pectin (which clears the toxins that have been removed from the liver so they don’t get recirculated).
10-12 medium beets
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp sea salt
dash of black pepper
juice of 1 lime
juice of 1 orange
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1. Preheat oven to 400° F.
2. Trim the tops and bottoms of the beets and peel them.
3. Cut into ~1 inch chunks.
4. Pat dry to get rid of excess moisture.
5. Season with sea salt and black pepper to taste. Toss in olive oil to coat evenly.
6. Spread out on baking sheet and cook in oven for 20 minutes.
7. After 20 minutes, shake them up or turn them over. Cook for 15-20 more minutes depending on how soft you want them. You’ll know they’re done when they pierce easily with a fork.
8. In a small mixing bowl, mix together the lime juice, orange juice, and red wine vinegar. Pour over the cooked beats and toss one more time to evenly coat. Serve immediately.
REHEATING: Since this makes a big batch, you can store the leftovers in the fridge as meal prep for up to 3 days. They reheat very well if you pop them back into the oven at 425° F for 10 minutes.
In need of exercise motivation for your New Year’s resolutions?! This year I committed to taking fitness a step further via personal training sessions, so my non-athletic self can learn a thing or two. However, I’m the type of person who needs to know the science behind why I’m doing something in order to feel passionate about getting it done. I recently went over two highly motivating exercise studies on my Instagram stories, and wanted to share them here so you always have something to read when you’re feeling uninspired.
Did you know that most of us overestimate the minimum effective does for exercise? Even if you have 10-15 minutes, you can still make incredible strength gains and feel amazing.
WHO: The study looked at 33 older adults (14 male and 19 female) with a mean age of 55 years.
WHAT: The participants underwent brief (<15 minutes per exercise session) and infrequent (only 2×/week) exercise sessions at a high intensity of effort (6-repetition maximum to exhaust the muscles) on just 5 standard resistance machines in the gym.
RESULTS: After 12 weeks for the men and 19 weeks for the women, significant strength increases were identified for all exercises. For a total time commitment of just 30 minutes a week(!), the participants showed outstanding strength gains, as much as 55% more than when they started.
Every workout matters, and even one single workout can boost your metabolism for days.
WHO: The study looked at specific neurons in mice (POMC) that are important for metabolism via regulating energy balance and blood glucose levels.
WHAT: The researchers tested how much exercise was required to alter the activity of these neurons in a positive manner.
RESULTS: They found that just a single bout of semi-intense exercise could boost POMC neurons for 2 full days, all while inhibiting counterpart neurons that have a negative effect on metabolism.
One workout matters more than you think for fat burning and blood sugar control. Movement matters always, whether it’s 10 minutes or a full hour. I hope this motivated you to get your workout on (and most importantly, do what you can – when you can!)
When I first launched my collection of “juice” tinctures at the end of 2018, I never could have imagined the overwhelming love and support that they would receive from this amazing community. It took a long time to get those formulas out into the world, and I see them as a representation of my growth and continued education in this field. Although I’ve created several products in the past, I wanted my first official “line” as an herbalist to be a complete set of core blends that make everyday life easier and smoother (so that you always have something to turn to no matter what’s thrown your way). It’s been a few months since the launch, and your feedback and reviews have quite literally made me cry tears of joy on the kitchen floor on more than one occasion! All I’ve ever wanted to do is help people with the power of plants, and I can’t thank you enough for making this work possible.
Once people started feeling the results from these tinctures, requests for new products and issues to tackle came flooding in. You have no idea how honored I am that so many people are excited about herbal medicine – that’s how you know the world is changing.
My gears began turning and I have so many ideas for powerful plant medicine that I want to bring to you. My goal is to one day have an entire herbal apothecary where I carry enough blends to meet everyone’s needs and serve as many people as possible. Slowly but surely I will make it happen, and I’m excited to announce the very first step in realizing that dream: our brand new line that I like to call The Immunity Collection.
THE IMMUNITY COLLECTION
With a launch date of January 11th, my objective this time around was to create a seasonal collection that would be perfect for the winter transition and cold/flu season. There’s nothing we need more during this time of year than immune support and tools for all the respiratory bugs going around.
As someone who grew up chugging NyQuil and Robitussin like it was my job, I wanted to make safer, natural alternatives that get to the root to help you through whatever this season brings.
Herbal medicine can be extremely effective when it comes to easing the uncomfortable symptoms of colds, flus and coughs (not to mention that immune-supporting and anti-microbial herbs can help speed recovery, too!) Every blend I’ve created not only aims to ease those surface symptoms, but goes a step further to tackle the bugs causing discomfort in the first place. For example, our “HerbalTussin” cough syrup not only contains antispasmodic, antitussive herbs to help “relax the hack”…. we’ve also included ingredients that support the native immunity of the resident macrophages (white blood cells) so that your own immune function is reinforced and boosted. The goal is to re-establish immune homeostasis so that the respiratory ailment is taken care of by the body as swiftly as possible. Rather than simply suppressing the cough, this is a whole-body approach.
We decided to launch Allergy Defense Tonicwith this collection because allergies often arise in the Spring after we become depleted and deficient throughout the harsh winter. Allergies are not a sign that you’re just unlucky. Rather, they’re a sign that your body is prone to imbalance as the seasons change, with a heightened immune and allergic response that can be calmed and reduced with herbal medicine. It is a “tonic” blend (formulated with the building and strengthening Nettle Leaf) that you take preventatively at least 2-4 weeks before allergy season begins. It also helps with environmental allergies and those who are sensitive to histamine as it improves liver detox and histamine clearance. It can also be taken by those who are sensitive to everything and often feel congested or itchy with dust or mold exposure!
Adrenal Recovery Formula is of course designed to combat “adrenal fatigue,” but matters immensely for your immune system as well. When the adrenals are overstimulated and overstressed, the HPA axis (which controls your mood, immune system, hormones, and sleep cycle) becomes dysregulated. A dysregulated HPA axis leads to symptoms such as anxiety, fatigue, cognitive impairment, inhibited digestion, slow wound healing, and most importantly: suppressed immune function. If you’re someone who is always getting sick and you’re exhausted with symptoms of “adrenal fatigue,” adaptogenic herbs are the best way to build up your immune system and change the way your body responds to stress altogether. This balancing herbal formula is designed to bring life back to those who are overworked, overstressed, and find themselves feeling burnt-out or under the weather much of the time.
Black elderberries have a rich history in the realm of herbal medicine as a must-have for supporting the immune system during cold and flu season.
Although it has been a staple in herbalist’s medicine cabinets for centuries, elderberry syrup specifically rose to fame across the world after a 2009 study was released demonstrating its ability to effectively inhibit the H1N1 strain of the flu (Roschek, et.al., 2009). This came as no surprise, since elderberries support the immune system and recovery process in several different ways.
First and foremost, elderberries are considered “immune-stimulating,” meaning they tell your immune soldiers that “it’s time to get to work right now!” This is different from medicinal mushrooms in my ImmuneShroom formula, which is more of an “immune-modulating” blend that brings the immune response up or down as needed. For this reason, elderberry syrup is best consumed at the very first sign of illness or just after a known exposure to someone who is sick. If you are someone with a very weak immune system who catches every bug that goes around, it can also be taken in small daily doses preventatively during the entirety of cold and flu season or during times of increased exposure (such as holiday or airplane travel).
Second, research shows that elderberries have an additional benefit of inhibiting viral replication (Kinoshita, et.al., 2012). In one Norwegian study, 60 patients were given elderberry syrup within the first 48 hours of developing flu symptoms. This included patients with both type A and type B influenza. The patients receiving elderberry were over the flu virus within an average of 4 fewer days than those with placebo. (Zakay-Rones, et al, 2004).
Elderberry syrup mustbe extracted by hot water decoction in order to deactivate any irritating glycosides in the berries through the use of heat. When thoroughly cooked down in hot water, you get the most potent and 100% safe end product that is suitable for kids and adults alike. We cook the berries for several hours in a steam jacketed kettle and then press the berries to maximize extraction. Then we reduce it down enough to make room to add in the vegetable glycerin base (derived from organic palm so it’s corn, soy and gmo-free). Our Elderberry Immune Elixir is highly concentrated (with 6400mg of active plant medicine in every serving) and is safe for the whole family. It’s nourishing, building, and starts working right away.
HOW TO USE (adults): Take 2 teaspoons every 3 hours at the first sign of a virus. For daily prevention throughout cold and flu season, take 2 teaspoons per day.
HOW TO USE (kids): The adult dosage is based on a 150lb person. Childrens’ dosages will also depend on weight. If the child is ~75lbs, you would use half the adult dose. If the child is ~35lbs, you would use a quarter of the adult dosage.
Not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women.
HerbalTussin Syrup is our natural, herbal take on the classic OTC syrup from the drugstore. It is designed for acute needs to “attack the hack,” whether it’s a wet or dry cough. Our main objective was to ease discomfort in the throat, lungs and bronchial tubes so that you’re a) far more comfortable, and b) able to sleep much better through the night. Several of the herbs in this syrup have anti-spasmodic and bronchio-dilating properties, which allows you to breathe easier despite any active respiratory ailments. This blend is also highly soothing to mucosal membranes.
Because all of our formulas aim for the root instead of treating surface symptoms, we’ve also included herbs that support the native immunity of the resident macrophages (white blood cells) so that your own immune function is reinforced and boosted. The goal is to re-establish immune homeostasis so that the respiratory ailment is taken care of by the body as swiftly as possible. Rather than simply suppressing the cough, this is a whole-body approach.
On top of this, HerbalTussin helps the body take care of excess mucus when one is congested by loosening thick mucus and helping it to move out. All of the tools in our immunity line are there to help you feel better faster and support your body as it fights respiratory bugs.
HOW TO USE (kids and adults): Take 1/2 teaspoon every 2 hours or as needed. Shake well before using.
Not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women.
Soothe Your Throat Spray is a natural, herbal spray for sore and irritated throats brought on by sickness or overuse.
Formulated with Aloe Vera and Echinacea Root, this blend instantly coats the throat with soothing, lubricating herbs that help relieve tenderness and dryness – all while fighting the invaders responsible for this discomfort.
In order to make this a well-rounded formula that does more than target surface symptoms, we’ve included additional herbs that warm the lungs (ginger) and encourage bronchiodilation for easy breathing and relief from congestion (osha root). The “demulcents” or “lubricating” herbs in this blend include aloe, licorice, propolis and organic honey. They not only combat dryness and irritation in the throat, but actually strengthen the mucosal layer or “immune barrier” that prevents microbes from invading and penetrating respiratory tissue. Both echinacea and spilanthes add to this action by increasing saliva, which pH corrects the mouth and throat to further support healthy boundaries against sickness invading deeper into the body.
You can use this spray when you’re sick, when you’re speaking or singing, or at sports events before and after yelling. This spray can also be used by smokers to help clear and clean out the lungs. You may additionally implement it preventatively during airplane travel when you’ll be exposed to stale, recycled air.
HOW TO USE (kids and adults): Hold the bottle very close to your mouth (sideways if needed to get the nozzle as close to the throat as possible) and spray 1-2 times into your throat. Repeat more frequently as needed to soothe discomfort and improve vocal clarity.
Not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women.
Hay Fever, also known as seasonal allergies, is an extremely common and disruptive condition that affects a whopping 1 in every 5 people.
If you’re one of those people who has to deal with them year after year, shutting the windows and missing days at work when you should be out enjoying the sun, I want you to know that it doesn’t have to be this way!
Allergies are not a sign that you’re just unlucky. Rather, they’re a sign that your body is prone to imbalance as the seasons change, with a heightened immune and allergic response that can be calmed and reduced with herbal medicine. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), part of this imbalance is rooted in “liver deficiency,” meaning the liver is overburdened and needs help detoxifying and excreting the sudden buildup of histamine.
Why? Because when allergens (such as pollen) come into contact with the body’s mast cells, these mast cells ‘degranulate’ or burst open, releasing a slew of itch-inducing histamine. The body is supposed to break down and detoxify histamines through your liver detox pathways. However, many other compounds use the same exact route to exit the body (for example medications, pesticides, hormones, heavy metals, etc!)
While OTC allergy drugs can temporarily suppress symptoms, plant medicine goes a step further to address the root cause. This preventative formula strengthens your resistance to pollens before the season even begins, and includes anti-histamine, decongestant, and liver-supporting herbs. Results can vary from a decrease in reactivity to complete relief.
HOW TO USE (preventative): Begin use 2-4 weeks before allergy season by taking 1 full squeeze of the dropper bulb (approx. 30 drops) 2-3 times per day. Continue throughout allergy season.
HOW TO USE (acute symptoms): Take 2 full squeezes of the dropper (approx. 60 drops) 3-4 times per day.
HOW TO USE (kids): Begin use 2-4 weeks before allergy season by taking the weight-appropriate dose 2-3 times per day. For kids 10-30 lbs, one dose equals 5-10 drops. For kids 31-60 lbs, one dose equals 10-20 drops. For kids 61-100 lbs, one dose equals 20-30 drops. For kids 100 lbs and over, use adult dose of 30 drops.
FOR BEST RESULTS: Can be combined with Liver Juice and Adrenal Recovery Formula to address underlying liver deficiency and stress-induced histamine release. It is also recommended to consume small amounts of bee pollen (local to your area) and avoid dairy.
Not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women.
Adrenal Recovery Formula is a blend that I started working on last year when I was faced with the fatigue and burnout that is all too common in our modern world: “adrenal fatigue” also known as HPA axis dysregulation. This is a deep, unrelenting fatigue that does not get better with sleep and makes one extremely sensitive to external and internal stressors. The slightest inconvenience feels like a massive burden as the body has been in “fight or flight” mode for far too long, exhausting its resources and resistance. Circadian rhythm is often disrupted as you have a hard time ‘shutting down’ or getting into parasympathetic relaxation mode which is required for restful sleep and recovery. Anxiety is extremely common as well, since emotions are on overdrive and cortisol is consistently high.
This balancing herbal formula is designed to bring life back to those who are overworked, overstressed, and find themselves feeling burnt-out most of the time. It is also helpful for those who haven’t “hit the wall” yet, but live fast-paced, high-stress lifestyles and want to avoid breakdown or burnout.
Adrenal Recovery Formula increases the body’s resistance to physical, mental, and environmental stress and helps to defend against conditions brought on by a high-stress lifestyle. Formulated with highly adaptogenic herbs, each plant works synergistically to enable the body to respond more appropriately to stress without exaggerating the response. This prevents overstimulation and allows you to take on challenging tasks with greater ease and pleasure. Things don’t feel as “big” and overwhelming all the time – you can handle the unexpected because the body’s innateresponse is improving and getting stronger.
When taken daily, Adrenal Recovery Formula assists with normalizing stress hormone levels, decreasing over-reactions to stress, restoring energy and vitality, and improving mood and emotional well-being. You may experience a more level-headed, grounded state of being where you’re able to take on your to-do list without feeling powerless due to fatigue.
HOW TO USE (adults): Take 1 capsule 1-3 times per day or as directed by your health care practitioner (for example, 2 capsules before breakfast and 1 before lunch). Best taken between meals for complete absorption.
Not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women.
Did you know that peppermint oil applied to the forehead and temples is shown to be just as effective for tension headaches as a whopping 1,000mg Tylenol?
This is incredible news as acetaminophen, the active ingredient in common pain relievers, can be hard on the liver. On top of this, an Ohio State University study found that Tylenol not only blunts physical pain, but can dull your emotions too – including the positive ones. 
In a 1996 German study, the effect of locally applied peppermint oil was tested on tension headaches in comparison to 1,000mg Tylenol as well as a placebo.
The authors found that peppermint oil and Tylenol both began working within 15 minutes, and had an equal pain-relieving effect! 
I dilute 6 drops of essential oil in 2 tsp jojoba oil and add this to a roller ball for easy application.
Peppermint isn’t solely beneficial for headaches, though… it helps your brain, too! A study in the International Journal of Neuroscience found that peppermint tea can increase both focus and concentration . Peppermint diffused in a room full of test-takers boosted their alertness and concentration, as the smell of menthol stimulates the hippocampus: your brain’s memory center.
Peppermint is also a fabulous herbal ally for those with IBS or any digestive disorders. The menthol within the leaf acts as a powerful antispasmodic that can help restore intestinal interactions to a normal rhythm faster than any other ingredient. Peppermint tea can be used in both diarrhea and constipation, because rather than slowing down or speeding up intestinal contractions, it actually regulates them in the direction needed.
Lastly, it’s a great idea to drink peppermint after a particularly heavy/greasy meal, as it can gently increase your bile flow and therefore improve your digestion of fats.
When you think of blueberries, the first thing that comes to mind would most likely be their brain-boosting benefits (thanks to the powerful purple pigments that act as antioxidants in the brain!)
However, today I wanted to share the benefits of the blueberry plant from an herbalist’s perspective, which is all about the leaves.
When my teachers first introduced us to the humble blueberry, we learned to recognize the leaves as they’re an important local remedy for elevated blood sugar levels in Type 2 diabetics. Blueberry leaves contain a substance called myrtillin, which greatly helps to reduce blood glucose in both animals and humans. 
To make an anti-diabetes tea:
Steep 1 teaspoon chopped, dried leaves in a cup of hot water for 10 minutes. Drink 1 cup 3-4 times spread throughout the day in order to keep blood sugar levels low.
Myrtillin is also present in large quantities in the berries, which are demonstrated to have a significant hypoglycemic effect in diabetic rodents, lowering blood glucose by as much as 51% relative to controls . Blueberry leaf tea is additionally rich in vitamin c, reduces allergies, boosts brain function, and contains a substance called gallic acid which helps with the redness, swelling, and pain associated with arthritis.
NOTE: It’s extremely important (especially if you’re taking medication) to speak to your doctor first and monitor your blood sugar levels closely when using blueberry leaf tea. Because it can greatly reduce blood sugar, you want to be sure your levels aren’t going too low. Start off slow and work with a practitioner in case medications require adjustment.
Did you know that apples contain one of the greatest types of fiber known to man? This fiber is formally known as a substance called pectin, which has the ability to bind not only heavy metals like mercury, but LDL cholesterol as well!
As apple pectin moves through your digestive tract, both the cholesterol and metals are safely removed from the body.
Pectin also acts as a highly valuable prebiotic fiber that selectively feeds the good bacteria in your gut, while actively fighting and reducing pathogenic bacteria.
For those with long-standing gut issues, there is no greater “superfood” than the common apple (see my post on applesauce for leaky gut here). Pectin’s last great feat is its ability to act as a highly accessible fuel that your gut cells can instantly use to heal and regenerate. As apples are stewed during the process of making applesauce, the skin begins to shimmer, signaling that pectin has been released from the inside of the apple and is now available on the surface.
As your ‘good bugs’ eat up apple pectin, they produce SCFAs (short chain fatty acids) that benefit the lining of your colon. These SCFAs acids also promote epithelial growth of the cells in the intestines, leading to repair and regeneration of the gut.
Lastly, apples are an excellent remedy for constipation, as the pectin supports digestive transit by swelling in the digestive tract, increasing the bulk of your stool and making it softer/easier to pass. They are one of my favorite foods on the planet (and were well-loved by my grandmother as well).
Sweet potatoes often get overlooked because they’re so common, cheap and accessible.
But what I’ve learned over the years is that the greatest superfoods are usually not the most exotic or expensive — they’re actually hiding right under our nose! For example, applesauce is one of the most healing, affordable foods for leaky gut… and our good friend the sweet potato happens to be a master at removing the heavy metals we’re exposed to each day.
The incredible thing about plants is that they’re hurting from environmental toxin exposure just as much as we are – and they’re able to respond by forming compounds that shield not only them, but us as well when we ingest them.
In response to the presence of heavy metals in soil and air, sweet potatoes produce peptide substances called phytochelatins. When we consume these phytochelatins, they bind to the heavy metals within our bodies (such as cadmium, copper, mercury and lead) and safely remove them via the digestive tract.
The phytochelatins in sweet potato interact with the mineral sulfur (which helps with liver detoxification) in order to complete this process. Therefore, sweet potatoes are best combined with sulfur-rich cruciferous veggies such as broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, garlic and onions. In fact, doctors in the Soviet Union used to combine cabbage with sweet potatoes or yams in a special prophylactic diet for factory workers who were constantly exposed to toxic chemicals and metals within their occupation (John Heinerman, Encyclopedia of Fruits Vegetables and Herbs).
Heinerman goes onto say that if you live in a big city with a pollution problem, be sure to eat more of this food combination in order to protect yourself from accumulating or becoming ill from heavy metals in the air we breathe.