Friday, January 16, 2009

Using Herbs to Eliminate Nutrient Deficiencies

I'm asked every single day about vitamins and minerals and how optimal daily needs can be met. Most want to find an inexpensive way to remedy deficiencies and fill in the gaps between their refined sugar, caffeinated energy drinks and lifeless Healthy Choice frozen meals. How can we address and resolve this question?

One day a week I work at an 'integrative' pharmacy (that's another post) and my genuine heartfelt response to the vitamin/mineral question is to refer them to herbs and medicinal teas. It's unlikely the corporate pill-pushers want me around because of my minimal contribution to rising synthetic supplement sales! When people have a real need, I try to convey what was already present prior to the convenience of vitamin shops, supplements, and pills. Beautiful Nature - herbs, plants, roots, barks, greens - we have been given all that we need to keep our body emotionally, psychologically, and physically balanced and resilient. However, some have been steered so far away from a natural diet by a culture constantly whispering in our ear that 'food' comes in a box, can, or package, all of which is in an adultered state. Supplementing has become a perceived magic bullet to remedy the detrimental effects of processed and refined foods the people I talked with won't live without (cooked addiction).

I would much rather be unconventional and eat raw and living foods, build resilience with adaptogenic herbs, and reach superior health with superfoods. In my conversations with these desperate individuals (this is not a judgment, it's the reality of what I've witnessed), I think my approach comes across quite clear through the passion in which I talk, but most people really just want the short answer, quick fix, and to be on their way to Starbucks. I may be a poor synthetic supplement salesperson because I honestly want for others to grasp the enormous potential of pure food and superfood boosted living. I've been told countless times during my Superfood Education sessions (whether at HealthForce demos or in Healing Wellness Programs), that I can sell absolutely anything - if I wholeheartedly believe in it. To me, that's not selling - that's sharing and healing.

In Mountain Rose Herbs' January newsletter, there was a phenomenal article written titled 'Just Say No to Synthetic Vitamins and Processed Foods!' and I really recommend you read it. I love that this information is available to us! It's just a matter of making ourselves aware, keeping informed of the truth, and following the ancient herbal wisdom.

My favorite herbal remedy is a delicious thirst-quenching blend I call Stunning Skin Medicinal Tea. This inexpensive blend includes nettles, alfalfa, horsetail, burdock root, noni, oat straw, and red clover blossoms. This is also the blend that I use to infuse the organic olive oil I use in my Body Silks. As you'll read in the article link above, these herbs offer a broad spectrum of vitamins and minerals - all in a highly bioavailable form our body recognizes and therefore absorbs. You'll replenish your reserves of vitamin A, B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (panothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B12 (cyanocobalamin), and vitamin C, D, E, and K. Minerals, such as calcium, chromium, iron, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, potassium, selenium, sulfur, and zinc, are abundant as well. Who would have thought?

Cultivate health by adding herbs:
- as an infusion steeped overnight (add hot water to small handful of herbs and steep 6-12 hours for maximum potency) - it doesn't taste like medicine, but it is medicinal
- as your smoothie's liquid base - immensely healing
- as an herbal hair rinse in the shower
- in the bath (small muslin bag of herbs draped under spout) - soak and absorb the benefits through your skin
- in homemade skin care formulas in place of flower water (as the liquid part of a clay masque)

I typically make the tea every few days, store it in fridge, and enjoy it in these ways throughout my week. Comment on your experience and results! Do you use herbs in any other way?


  1. Absolutely true , love your blog more than anything else

  2. Thank you so much! We all inspire each other!

  3. Hi Bethanne,hope you are enjoying a lovely weekend!
    I have been wondering about something for a long time now and thought to ask you. I love to make Pau d'Arco / Cat's Claw tea. I usually bring a big pot of water to a boil and simmer the herbs for about 1 hour. I have been doing it this way for a while because I heard that only simmering can extract the medicinal benefits from the barks. Now I am wondering if this is true or if it is ok to just steep them overnight with water close to boiling and still get the medicinal benefits from the barks (putting anything in contact with boiling water seems weird since being raw : )

    Thanks so much : )

  4. What synchronistic timing! I just made Pau d'Arco & Cat's Claw tea last night! I vary the method of preparation depending on how much time I have. It is true that roots and barks should be made via decoction (low heat for minimum 1 hour, up to several hrs) to extract the medicinal properties. However, sometimes I still make this tea steeped over night as an infusion (12-18 hours - strong!).

    I never get it to boiling, just before the rolling boil and that's good enough. I've heard conflicting info - that the high heat is needed to extract, and also that it's because of the high heat that the herbs are 'damaged' and not therapeutic.

    You may like to check out Daniel Vitalis on You Tube. He's known for his elixir crafting!

  5. Kevin Gianni just answered this very question on his Renegade Health Show!