Podcast 107: Herbs for Whole30: Help Reduce Cravings, Improve Digestion, & Boost Nutrition

The Whole30 is one of our favorite diet plans – or, as we prefer to call them, food experiments! It’s a great way to reset your eating habits, change your relationship with food and cooking, and discover your own personal food intolerances or sensitivities. As herbalists, we’ve seen it accomplish amazing things for our clients – but we’ve also found ways to make it more enjoyable, efficient, and effective! Nowadays we always recommend herbs for Whole30 enhancement to our clients and students, and work with them ourselves.

In our experience, the best herbs for Whole30 success have effects on one of three main areas: cravings, digestion, and nutrition. Herbs like tulsi and schisandra can really curb sugar cravings, or longings for foods that are not Whole30-approved. Plants like calamus and sage can improve your digestive function, which is especially relevant if your Whole30 diet has more fat or protein than your previous habit, as often occurs. Wild greens like dandelions & nettles provide nutrient density, variety, & complexity, while adaptogens and immune modulators such as astragalus or shiitake can improve core functions of immunity and hormonal communication.

However you work with herbs for Whole30, your experience will be improved for sure!

Herbs discussed include tulsi, schisandra, calamus, fennel, ginger, sage, dandelion, parsley, basil, nettle, astragalus, codonopsis, shiitake / maitake, & seaweeds.

Mentioned in this episode:

Wondering where can you learn how to work with herbs? In the Herbal Medicine-Making course, of course! There are 47 close-up, step-by-step videos showing how to make all the kinds of herbal preparations – plus recipes, printable instruction cards, and more. You can ask us questions on anything you’re wondering about, both in the discussion threads or in our twice-weekly live Q&A web conferences. You get to learn on your own schedule and have live access to Katja & Ryn! It’s the best of both worlds.

As always, please subscribe, rate, & review our podcast wherever you listen, so others can find it more easily. Thank you!!

Our theme music is “Wings” by Nicolai Heidlas.

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Episode Transcript

Katja (00:00:01):
Hi, I’m Katja.

Ryn (00:00:15):
and I’m Ryn!

Katja (00:00:28):
And we’re here at the Commonwealth Center for Holistic Herbalism in Boston, Massachusetts.

Ryn (00:00:28):
And on the internet everywhere thanks to the power of the podcast. We’re trying something a little different this time. We’re going to see if we can make these podcasts onto the YouTube also.

Katja (00:00:54):
Yeah, so you can listen with your ears, or your eyes or both. Whatever you’d like.

Ryn (00:00:54):
If you’re listening you found it, so you’re good to go. So this week’s topic, we’re going to talk about herbs for going through a Whole30. Also known as herbs to help you survive a Whole30 and herbs to help your loved ones survive you going through your Whole30.

Katja (00:00:54):
It’s best if you and your loved ones go through a Whole30 at the same time.

Ryn (00:00:58):
Absolutely.

Katja (00:00:58):
But that’s not always on the menu.

Ryn (00:01:02):
Yeah.

Katja (00:01:02):
Yeah. And the thing is that a Whole30 is just one kind of a cross between a diet/detox. I use big quotey marks around that.

Ryn (00:01:16):
Reset. It’s like…

Katja (00:01:17):
I like that word a little better. It’s an elimination diet that’s really helpful if somebody is trying to figure out their food allergies. Even if you’re not concerned about food allergies, a Whole30 is a chance to get all of the sugar out of your diet for one month. To get all of the most common inflammatory foods out of your diet for a whole month. It’s not saying these foods are good or bad. It’s not saying that your bad, if you like them. It’s just saying, Hey, let’s take a month and cut down on inflammation basically. Oh, I’m really on a roll here and we haven’t given our reclaimer yet.

Ryn (00:01:59):
You are on a roll. Yeah, let’s do that. So like every week we just want to remind you that we are not doctors. We are herbalists and holistic health educators.

Katja (00:02:06):
The ideas discussed in this podcast do not constitute medical advice. No state or federal authority licenses, herbalists in the United States. So these discussions are for educational purposes only. Everybody’s body is different. So the things that we’re talking about may or may not apply directly to you, but we hope that they’ll give you some good information to think about and research more.

Ryn (00:02:28):
That’s right. We just want to remind you that good health is your own personal responsibility. The final decision when you’re considering any course of therapy, whether it’s discussed on the internet or prescribed by a physician, is always yours.

Katja (00:02:40):
Yes.

Ryn (00:02:40):
All right. So, you know, changing your diet can be a lot. There can be a lot to it. For a lot of people doing a Whole30 can be a really big change to the diet. You know, some folks come straight from your standard American diet, with its acronym SAD. Its nutrient quality is pretty sad too and jump right into a Whole30 because they’re ready for a change. And I think that’s awesome. I, you know, I really respect that kind of drive and initiative and you know, it’s New Years. So some of that kind of feeling is going around. It’s not always very easy. There are things that can help you to get through it.

Katja (00:03:19):
Yeah. You can find out all about the Whole30 at whole30.com. We’re not like affiliated with them in any way. It’s a really helpful tool for people who are trying to figure out if food is playing a role in their health issues or for people who are really interested in detox type stuff. It’s just a very, very helpful and well thought out tool. The key factors here are to eliminate for 30 days all grains, all dairy products, not eggs, but any, any kind of milk from an animal or milk products from an animal. All sugar. That doesn’t mean fruit, but it does mean any kind of added sugar. All legumes and alcohol. The reason that those five things were chosen is because those are the most common big inflammatory promoting foods.

Ryn (00:04:26):
Yeah. Then one of the key things there is that in the course of avoiding things like soy, corn, your grains and your legumes and so on, you’re also avoiding their oils. So, that’s going to be soy oil, corn, canola and cotton seed oil. All of those things are also going to be on the avoid list for this period.

Katja (00:04:43):
Again, because they are so pro-inflammatory, they really wreak inflammatory havoc in the body.

Ryn (00:04:51):
Yeah. Okay. So that’s the idea. The other part of the idea there is you’re going to do that for 30 days and you’re going to stick to it. Like you mean it, like your life depends on it. Like your brand new and improved life depends on it.

Katja (00:05:05):
Yeah. Like you’re a committed person who has the power to stick to something.

Ryn (00:05:08):
That’s what you’re like. You are that in fact. Yeah. So you do that and then after the end of 30 days you drop everything and go immediately back to the way you were eating before, right?

Katja (00:05:19):
No.

Why a Whole 30?

Ryn (00:05:19):
No, not exactly. This is one of the other things that we really like about this program, whether you follow it to a tee, you take pieces of it and experiment or you have another version that’s kind of similar but it has its own set of rules or regulations or whatever. These ideas are really helpful when they have a finish line and they’re helpful for everybody. They’re helpful for the person going through it and for us as practitioners when we’re advising people with these kinds of things. Having the finish line, having the idea of you’re going to do this thing and you’re going to stick with it. You’re going to do it, but with this time frame so you know when to start and when to finish. You’d know that things may change a bit by the time you get to the end.

Katja (00:06:05):
Well, it’s those changes that we’re really working on exploring. Honestly, that’s true for any kind of holistic health therapy or any kind of holistic…we can really call all of them experiments. Everything is about figuring out what works best for your body. Everybody’s body is different. So for me, ginger and chamomile is the power team; if I don’t know what to do it will probably improve my situation. For somebody else, there may be some other perfect best thing. You do, you need to whatever it is, you need to do a little experimentation. Even something, I was going to say silly or dumb, I was going to kind of diminish it, but it’s not to be diminished at all. Even something like movement, you know, it takes a little bit of experimentation to find the movement style that works for you, that you enjoy, that you can stick with, that feels good in your body and doesn’t cause injury or pain. Life is about experimenting.

Ryn (00:07:05):
Yeah. You know, framing it as experimentation, whether it’s movement or a diet change or whatever other intervention you’re making also helps you from feeling like I’ve tried the thing, I didn’t enjoy the thing. I couldn’t sustain the thing. Now I guess that thing’s not for me.

Katja (00:07:20):
Or it did not work, so nothing will work.

Ryn (00:07:23):
Yeah. So if it’s movement, it’s like I went to the gym, I got on the Nautilus, I took the Zoomba class and I just didn’t really enjoy it

Katja (00:07:31):
And it didn’t feel better afterwards either.

Ryn (00:07:33):
Maybe fitness isn’t a thing that I can have in my life. I don’t know how else you’re supposed to get strong or get healthy or whatever. Right. So people can feel limited by that. Framing it as an experiment, I’m going to try this and see if I enjoy it. I’m going to try this particular kind of movement. I’m going to try this particular dietary overhaul, see what happens. That’s super helpful. So that’s a big part of it. The other part there though is that when you reach the end of your Whole30, you’re going to reintroduce things and you’re going to do it in a structured way. So you’re not going to have eliminated gluten, dairy, soy, corn, seed oils and all of that, and then come back and have a little bit of everything on the first day. On day one. You’re going to plan it out a bit and say, all right, well, I’m going to try reintroducing dairy or even I’m going to try reintroducing fermented dairy only for the first week and see how that goes. Try out a couple of different versions of dairy over the course of a month and see which ones are good and which ones give you trouble. So, you know, there’s many, many levels of intricacy that you could involve yourself in with that. The overall point is that you can get clearer data that way.

Katja (00:08:45):
Yeah. And that’s really, for me, the key because as a practicing herbalist, as a clinical herbalist, I am always talking to people about food because it plays such a huge role in our everyday health. For a long time I would listen to what people said and were describing and how their body felt. I would say, you know, it really sounds to me like you could have a gluten sensitivity or you have a dairy sensitivity. Based on my assessment, then a client would try something and there still was that experimentation and feeling like, well, I’ll try it and I’ll see how that feels in my body. That’s good. I like that even better because I always am looking to put the power in the hands of the client. So this is an experiment where I am not the one saying you need to give up gluten if you ever want to get better, they are the one experiencing it in their own body so that we can all agree, Hey, I think there’s a food issue here. I can even talk about all the reasons in an educational way; why I think this or that food might be involved in the issue. The power is still in the hands of the client to say, great, I’m going to try this and then my experiment is going to tell me whether or not your hypothesis is accurate. I am going to know by how my body feels if I am the one motivated to make these changes in a more long-term kind of way.

What to Expect & the Timeline

Ryn (00:10:26):
Yeah. Cool. All right. So, it’s a plan and we like it. This particular podcast today was going to be about how to make it easier. So first thing I would say is there’s a super handy article from the Whole30 people, called the timeline. The timeline is basically from seeing a lot of people go through this. Sorry. Lucy cat is brushing up against the mic. So if there were furry sounds coming through then that’s fine. The sound of her against the microphone. Okay. Anyway, Yes, the timeline. There we go. All right. It’s a timeline. Yeah. So this is like a description of here’s what usually happens when people do this, right. It’s like, okay, so day one is like, yeah, whatever. No big deal.

Katja (00:11:18):
I’m so committed. This is going to be great.

Ryn (00:11:20):
Then the next couple of days are the hangover and then you’ve got the kill all the things days. Then you have the days where you just want to nap. Days when you feel a little bloated, days when you’re feeling like you’re slogging through and then suddenly you’re feeling pretty energetic and you’re feeling pretty good. But, maybe you’re also kind of bored with the food cause you’ve eaten so many eggs and you’re sick of them., You know? Then after a while you feel like, okay, am I done yet? Am I done? Am I done? Then you also realize, wait a minute, I’m almost done.

Katja (00:11:49):
What’s going to happen then?

Ryn (00:11:51):
So, if you haven’t already, if you’re doing a Whole30 or you’re thinking about it, I really advise reading that article because that can really help you to set your expectations. Not just for bad things, right, also for like, wait, how long is it going to be before I feel great? That’s super important and that’s relevant for all kinds of things. I mean, as herbalists that’s relevant when I give somebody a tea blend or a tincture. How long should it be before you notice a change is something I always try to tell them, and remind myself to think about, because that can really make or break someone’s experience with an experiment like that.

Katja (00:12:27):
I think also it’s really helpful emotionally and motivationally to know that although your experience might not be exactly the same as their timeline, that the things that you are experiencing are not weird. Like the day you wake up and you’re like, everybody get out of my way, I am going to kill something today. You don’t have to be like, what is wrong with me? Why am I a terrible person?

Ryn (00:12:56):
Am I broken? Does this mean that this way of eating is actually bad for me?

Katja (00:12:59):
Yeah. Instead you can recognize, Oh, okay, there are hormonal changes happening in my body and I’m just sort of having a little PMS moment, except it isn’t PMS, it’s like some other hormonal shift. That is affecting my mood and that’s okay.

Ryn (00:13:15):
This is all based on predictable changes in your internal chemistry and your internal energy, manufacturing power. You know? For most people going through this process, you are shifting some of the macronutrient profile of your diet to have fewer carbs overall and especially fewer refined carbs, to have a little more fat, maybe a bit more protein than you had been previously. Also, a lot more plant nutrients and plant complexity, especially the way we do it. It’s going to be like, you know, it’s great to get some more bitter greens in your life and that’s a place to introduce your herb and all those things.

Supportive Herbs: Cravings & Adaptogens

Katja (00:13:59):
Okay. So herbs, yeah. Oh, there’s an addition to the lists. So the first category of herbs that I really want to talk about, and I think that this also really displays my own areas of trouble. We do Whole30s, a few times a year. Partially because if we’re going to recommend it to clients, we feel like we should do it as well, even though we always are very strictly gluten free, dairy free and few other things. You know, sugar creeps in every few months.

Ryn (00:14:43):
Because of the common denominator for modern diets.

Katja (00:14:45):
So, you can really see here where I struggle, with the two herbs I want to bring up very first. These are two herbs that really help with cravings. If you are a long listener of the pod you may have in mind which two these are going to be. Are you ready for the big reveal? It is schisandra and tulsi. Let me start with tulsi. Tulsi is a herb that is well renowned for helping to stave off cravings, helping to change our relationship with cravings and helping to allow a sort of break between our food and our need for a certain donut. A lot of times when you give up something, to give up sugar or something you’ve been enjoying for awhile; you can really get bogged down in those feelings of deprivation. Tulsi is just amazing to help lift you up out of that bogged down place, to help free yourself from needing that cake or whatever, and content like you’re going to make it through the day.

Ryn (00:16:24):
Yeah, it’s really pretty fantastic. This effect of tulsi is probably not something you’re going to observe if you buy yourself a bottle of tulsi tincture and take a squirt, if you buy some tulsi capsule supplements and take two of them in the morning. This effect is going to be most notable when you have extended consistent work with tulsi over a period of time. Yeah. So let’s talk about some easy ways to get tulsi into your life.

Katja (00:16:54):
You know, tulsi tastes good. You can drink it as tea. I am doing that right now actually. Yeah, I definitely recommend it. It blends well with other plants, but it’s also great completely on its own. So I personally feel like that’s one of the easiest ways to do it there. There are some tulsi tea bags. Organic India is one brand that is medicinally potent. The other would be Traditional Medicinals.

Ryn (00:17:25):
Yeah. Both kind of handy if you’re in a shop and just want to grab something quick or if you’re away from home or something. Like visiting a different city, you can go over there and find, Oh look, it’s tulsi with rose, tulsi with chamomile, tulsi with mint. This is awesome!

Katja (00:17:39):
Especially if you’re maybe just starting out with herbs and you don’t just have a big shelf with all these jars filled with whatever…and tulsi. Yeah, It is okay. Make sure that you’re getting tea bags that are medicinally potent. Those are two brands that I rely on for that. Not just any old tea bag, but those two really in particular you can depend on to be medicinally active. Especially because maybe at work you don’t have a lot of leeway for anything super out of the ordinary, but you can manage to put a tea bag in a cup, go get the hot water and put it in. Because of that, it would allow you to drink three or four cups during the day. That would be fantastic. Another really sort of easy to add to your life way to get tulsi in is to make a quart of tulsi tea. You can make it overnight. Tulsi doesn’t have to sit overnight like nettle for example, but it’s okay to let it sit overnight.

Ryn (00:18:43):
As long as you keep it covered.

Katja (00:18:44):
As long as you keep it covered. Alternately, when you wake up in the morning, you can go ahead and make up your tulsi tea kind of first thing, then have your shower, get dressed to do all the stuff. Now it’s been like 30 minutes or whatever. Pour it into your thermos. That 30 minutes is long enough for tulsi to sit. Even 20 minutes is fine and poured into your thermos. You can make a whole quart that way. Then take it with you and drink it all day long. That’s another way to do and it’s pretty quick.

Ryn (00:19:16):
Yeah, for sure. You can work with tulsi as a tincture as well. Whether you make your own or buy one from a maker that you trust or has good quality to find way to take this herb. We’ve infused tulsi into honey sometimes. You can grow a fresh plant. It has a pretty broad range of climates that it will grow happily in. You know, we’re up here in new England and there are some varieties that grow pretty well around here. Of course the plant is native to India most famously. But other places as well. So yeah, it’s a really fantastic herb. If you ever do have a fresh plant, then that’s definitely one I’d advise to like nibble on a leaf every now and again. Do some of those honey infusions or fresh plant tincture that really captures those aromatic complexities of it really well. But yeah. Fantastic Herb.

Katja (00:20:09):
One more thing I wanted to mention about tulsi is that it does have a really beneficial effect on the endocrine system, as well, in particular your body’s ability to process sugar and carbohydrates. That is an area where, especially if you are feeling like, Oh, I have really been eating a lot of sugar lately. You may have some impairment in that. So tulsi can help rebuild that in a healthy, I would say relationship, that’s not what I’m trying to say, but like a healthy mechanism of doing that processing work.

Ryn (00:20:48):
Right. That’s a large part of why tulsi is helping with the sugar cravings that you may experience during your Whole30. Also with cravings for things like bread or gluten sources that you had been having super consistently, if that’s just changed for you. You know, one of the things that happens when you go on the Whole30 in particular, which is a bit different from other ways of eliminating gluten from your diet, is that you’re also eliminating all the other grains at the same time. So this is one of the rules actually, is that you’re not going to be looking for gluten free substitutes or dairy free substitutes.

Katja (00:21:25):
So this is not about your gluten free bagels.

Ryn (00:21:28):
Right. And so that’s probably one of the reasons why doing this rather than a straight up gluten elimination does tend to drastically reduce people’s intake of carbs and sugars and so on. So you are really asking your body to switch its fuel processing from primary reliance on rapidly digested carbohydrate to relying instead on slower digested carbs, on proteins and on fats; and utilizing the full range of possible substrates for cellular energy.

Katja (00:22:01):
And it is not a zero carb situation. It’s just you’re switching to sweet potatoes and beets and apples and rutabaga and even white potatoes, like whatever as your carb sources instead.

Ryn (00:22:14):
Yeah. And that’s the thing that we often do find is necessary to emphasize with people or even ourselves. Sometimes I’d be like, all right, we’re doing Whole30, but we’re not, we’re not trying right now. So you are right to drastically reduce carb content. For some people who maybe don’t have any weight to lose, right, then we have to be saying, all right, you can change your diet like this, but you got to watch out. If you’re not actually thinking about it, planning for it, then you might suddenly be like drastically reducing your calorie intake too. So yeah, sweet potatoes and beets and root veggies and….

Katja (00:22:50):
it’s like more nutritionally dense carbohydrates instead of empty carbohydrates. Because even rice, you know, like whole rice that isn’t super processed, it’s still is not nutritionally awesome. You know it’s definitely calories and it’s way better than like ground up, whatever. But sweet potato has more to offer than just plain rice. So we’re, trying to switch over to those nutritionally dense carbohydrates.

Ryn (00:23:20):
Absolutely. Cool. Yeah, and tulsi can help bring that all the way back around. Yeah. All right. Awesome. Well, so then the next one in regards to cravings is schisandra. So this is a berry. It’s a very interesting berry because it’s not just sweet and it’s not just a hint of sour like lots of berries are. It is like powerfully sour and also a bit sweet. And wait, is that bitter? I taste, is there pungency happening? What is going on here?

Katja (00:23:54):
Oh, there it is. Schisandra berries, in the Chinese name, it’s like five flavor berry. They are super powerful. They are a taste experience to be sure. They’re kind of like herbal pop rocks. I was just going to put some in my mouth right now but the thing is that they do make you really salivate. And if I do that right now, then it’s going to be hard to talk. I think actually I won’t, but right off the bat, if you’re a person who struggles with dry mouth you’re going to love schisandra let me tell you. So schisandra, this is an herb that comes to us from the Chinese medicine tradition. It does grow in the US and in fact in central Massachusetts there is a big schisandra farm, which is really cool. Catalyst kombucha company makes schisandra kombucha and it’s pretty awesome. So I have heard, and I don’t speak Chinese, I do not practice Chinese medicine, but I was told that a traditional way to work with schisandra is to take 10 berries every day for a hundred days. Now I can’t, I don’t know for certain if that’s accurate. Maybe, some of you have a Chinese medicine background and can let me know, but I was intrigued by that. Even if it isn’t accurate, I do think that it’s very cool because…

Ryn (00:25:30):
I mean, empirically it works.

Katja (00:25:31):
Because empirically it works.

Ryn (00:25:33):
Not to give away the game.

Katja (00:25:36):
Foreshadowing!

Ryn (00:25:36):
The end of your story, but yeah.

Katja (00:25:36):
Empirically it works. But also, I love that baked into the recommendation is the amount of time that it’s going to take to really settle in. I like a hundred days. That’s a season. That feels very appropriate to me too. If you really want to make a change in your body, a change in your life, a month is great. A Whole30 fantastic! Really committing to something for a whole season that’s really going to make big shifts. All right, so schisandra. When you learn about schisandra, when you read a monograph about it, you’ll see things like it’s cooling. It supports liver function, especially if there’s a lot of inflammation or heat in the liver. Especially if you’re a person who has a lot of agitation.

Ryn (00:26:25):
It can drain dampness and stagnant fluids.

Katja (00:26:29):
Yeah. So, I often think about schisandra also for people who just carry around a lot of anger. I feel like that’s pretty common these days. There’s a lot to be angry about. So that, that was one of the things that drew me to schisandra early on and a couple of years back. I think it was early in the podcast, when we first started doing the podcast a couple of years ago, I decided that I was going to do the whole 100 day thing with schisandra. What I figured out completely unintentionally, it just was this amazing side discovery, was that schisandra just kills sugar cravings. I mean and the way that we figured this out was that, so I love cake. I am a person who just loves cake. When I make a cake, it’s gluten free and it’s dairy free and it’s low carb. I use almond flour and whatever, I sweeten it with honey. It’s still cake! Like it’s better cake, but it’s still cake. So if I make a cake, I’m not one of those people who eats like one little piece in a day. If I make a cake, I’ll eat like three pieces in a day and they won’t be small. I love cake you guys. So I had made a cake and I was taking schisandra and the cake molded. Like I had to throw it away.

Ryn (00:28:05):
Yeah. You just didn’t need it.

Katja (00:28:06):
And I wasn’t trying, I had no intention around that. It is just what happened. I was like, whoa, what does this mean? So that started a whole rabbit hole of discovery around schisandra and sugar. I started talking a lot about it. I started working with clients this way to see, you know, can we replicate this behavior? What’s going on? And you can!

Ryn (00:28:34):
Yeah. You know, it does have historical applications for what today we’d call diabetes. Previously it would be called sweet blood, blood in the urine or not linear and sugar in the urine, things like that. From the kind of traditional medicine perspective, a lot of that relevance is bound up in the sour flavor of the herbs, the draining nature of it for eliminating those stagnant fluids. Before people were going around measuring each other’s blood sugar levels, tracking that kind of thing and understanding what the pancreas was; the most obvious signs of type two diabetes was going to be the accumulation of the extra fluid, the weight gain and so on. So this herb that kind of rings you out, and others like it, were always the things that would be indicated for that kind of a state. Nowadays of course we can see that schisandra has a lot of connection there beyond just the sourness of it and the effect on fluid balance in the body. Of course that’s still relevant. It also has influences on hormonal coordination. So this, like tulsi, is to be considered an adaptogenic herb. One that helps us to, well, usually we start with the end goal, right? Were the end result that the adaptogens help us to manage stress more easily and to be able to handle more stress without undergoing suffering or damage to the same degree. That’s sort of the end of the story, right? The way that that is accomplished in the body by the herbs often has a lot to do with hormonal communications. Right. So that may be through directly supporting an endocrine organ, like the pancreas or the liver, or really any organ. But when we say endocrine organ, we mean specifically the ones whose major job is to make hormones and react to them. Really every organ, every tissue, every cell in your body is going to make and react to hormones in one way or another. Okay. But some are a little more hormonal than others.

Katja (00:30:31):
Right. Yeah, or we identify that in that way a little bit more than others.

Ryn (00:30:36):
So herbs may have action directly on those organs or they may have constituents that are kind of like those hormones or chemical messengers in the body. So many different ways that it can actually play out, but we can definitely look at schisandra and say that when you work with this over the long time, you see improvements in liver function, you see improvements in hormonal coordination in the body. I guess what we’d call hormonal balance or you know, elegant homeostasis.

Katja (00:31:06):
Oh, that’s a good one. I like that one.

Ryn (00:31:08):
Yeah. Really super helpful on those levels and those are going to be the kind of physiological base level drivers of cravings, whether it’s for sugar or whether it’s for your average in which you can often crave your food intolerance pretty strongly for lots of reasons. So I mean it’s a very helpful herb for that. Like you say that method of taking 10 of those berries every morning. Just chewing it up and eating them, that is a really great way. I think one reason is because it’s so completely saturates you with the flavor,

Katja (00:31:43):
Really does, it is an unavoidable flavor. Like you will be very focused on it. If you’re ever having trouble clearing your mind, you just need a minute. Wow. Schisandra berry can do that because you will absolutely focus.

Ryn (00:31:59):
There are other ways to work with schisandra.

Katja (00:32:01):
Yeah, it’s great as tea and the flavor is strong, but a little less intense that way. So if the berries just themselves are a little too much for you then definitely trying it as tea is a super great idea. When I make schisandra tea, then I just eat the berries afterwards cause now they’re rehydrated and good. By the way, tulsi and schisandra together, they’re delicious. As tea…

Ryn (00:32:28):
Yeah, you can play with it. Right. It doesn’t have to be like a tablespoon of tulsi and a tablespoon of schisandra.

Katja (00:32:35):
No, still just put your 10 berries in. Like that’s enough. I also really love schisandra in red wine. So obviously if you’re on a Whole30, you’re not maybe going to work with wine. You can make a tincture of schisandra. You can make it an alcohol. You can make it in vinegar. We do when we do a Whole30. Even though alcohol is removed, we still work with tinctures and elixirs. What they’re going on there about removing the alcohol. First off, a lot of alcohol has a lot of sugar in it. Secondly, if we’re going through all this trouble we might as well pull out the alcohol too, just make it a whole clean everything. A couple of droppers full of a tincture for us, we feel like that’s not the same…

Ryn (00:33:25):
It’s negligible.

Katja (00:33:27):
Yeah. So if you prefer it, the flavor wise and a tincture that’s also super effective. I wanted to say one thing though, you mentioned craving your food intolerances, like craving the things that you have sensitivities to and that is so common and that might sound like, wait, what? Having a real addiction to, being a person who’s like, I am totally addicted to toast. That is often, that often goes hand in hand with being a person who also has a very strong sensitivity too.

Ryn (00:34:06):
Yeah. And it’s often also said to sort of tongue in cheek, but then it’s actually true.

Katja (00:34:10):
Right. So, if that strikes you like wow, really? That is something that we go into detail on in the holistic nutrition course, where we also talk a lot about how to figure out if you have food sensitivities, why you should even bother to think about food sensitivities. Yeah, that’s the holistic nutrition course and you can find it along with all of our courses at commonwealthherbs.com/learn. Just because of pulling that out and I was like, Ooh, that might sound a little weird.

Ryn (00:34:50):
Yeah, because shouldn’t the wisdom of the body tell me which foods are bad for me and then I wouldn’t want them? Sometimes that happens, but not always.

Katja (00:34:58):
Not always. Yeah. There’s sometimes it does happen. You hated milk when you were a kid, you know, but it does not always happen. Yeah.

Supportive Herbs: Digestion & Bitters

Ryn (00:35:05):
Yeah. All right, cool. Well, so now that we’ve got our cravings, at least muted a little bit with the tulsi. We’ve got ’em there. Let’s move on a little bit and talk about some herbs to enhance digestion because you’re changing your diet, right? And so even though you’re changing it to the good stuff, there can still be an adjustment phase and, you know, that can involve a lot of different things. It may be that suddenly your diet contains a lot more vegetables that’s great for you, but it might also mean that suddenly it contains a lot more fiber and now your gut flora is undergoing a recomposition. Right. Because now you’re feeding some kinds of creatures that you haven’t really been previously and you’re starving some kind of creatures that you’d previously been overfeeding. This is generally in the positive direction, right?

Katja (00:35:58):
Generally, that’s what we want to happen but it’s not necessarily comfortable.

Ryn (00:36:03):
Yeah. There’s going to be in your Whole30, at some point, unless your diet was pretty close to it already, you’re going to be undergoing some change in your gut flora composition. There’s going to be some gas, there’s going to be some bloating and so on. It’s not going to last forever.

Katja (00:36:24):
You know, it’s like remodeling.

Ryn (00:36:26):
Herbs can really help with this. Right. So the very first herb that we tend to think about in this regard is Calamus.

Katja (00:36:35):
Yeah. I just love Calamus so much. Calamus is a bitter, and it is a warming bitter, and that is what my body really needs.

Ryn (00:36:48):
What a lot of people need.

Katja (00:36:50):
I have a kind of sluggish digestion. On one hand, my body’s a tank. I don’t tend to get indigestion. I don’t tend to get a stomach ache. I don’t vomit easily. Almost never. You know, tanks are like impervious but slow. That’s kind of my digestion it’s sort of impervious but slow. So having the heat from Calamus is sort of like revving up the fire, revving up the engine and helping things to keep on moving and not get stuck in the lower digestive tract. I really appreciate that. I also love the sort of nervous system effects that Calamus provides moving out of that stress state, the sympathetic nervous system and into the parasympathetic that rest and digest state. So it is assisting with digestion in multiple ways. I didn’t even talk about the bitter part yet.

Ryn (00:37:56):
Well, and we could say that this is going to be true about Calamus in particular, but also about bitters in general. That when consume something bitter, well really, when we taste it, when we taste something bitter, that triggers a set of responses inside of the body. It starts with that salivation, starts with production of stomach acid, production of bile from the liver and release of that through the gallbladder into the intestines. Even production of digestive enzymes out of the pancreas. All of these organs are going to respond when you taste the bitterness on your tongue. That signal, that taste is a nerve signal, right? From your tongue to your brain. Then your brain says, all right, everybody wake up, it’s time to eat, it’s time to digest. Something’s coming in here. Because you’ve been tasting this bitterness, it could even be dangerous. So we better make sure we really break it down. Good.

Katja (00:38:46):
Yeah. That’s like a big theory around why does bitter improve digestion? Because things that are poisoned tend to also be bitter. So that’s like, if I digest this fast and get it out of me, then, if I break it down, then it won’t be as dangerous. Kind of a theory.

Ryn (00:39:03):
Yeah. So that’s always going to help. If it’s calamus or if it’s other herbs, a really great way to work with them is to get them in a tincture and just take a few drops, 10-20 drops, a half a dropper full or half a squirt or whatever you want to call it right on the tongue. Because you’ve got to taste it for it to really work right? Do that like 10 or 15 minutes before you’re going to eat. It just revs everything up, gets it all ready and then you introduce food into that environment that is ready to accept it, ready to digest it. Now your actually getting what you ate, right. Because as we say, very frequently, you’re not what you eat here, what you digest. Yeah. And that really matters on a Whole30, because you’re probably buying better quality food. That’s probably a little more expensive, in some ways, than what you’d been used to. So, if you’re going to get the grass fed steak, you want to actually absorb all that grass fed goodness all the way into your muscles, you know.

Katja (00:40:08):
Also, it’s so easy in our current culture to go through a day and basically only eat carbs and dairy. If you’re having a really busy day and you’re eating some fast food or you’re eating on the go that’s easy. Carbs, like if it’s made out of flour, it’s already broken down super small and that’s part of the problem is that it’s absorbed very quickly.

Ryn (00:40:31):
And in that spikes your blood sugar.

Katja (00:40:36):
Right. So, part of this transition is that you’re sort of getting the gears moving again to digest more complex food that maybe like those processes have been sort of like lazy for a while because you’ve been eating sort of very easy to digest stuff. So having the bitters really just helps you a lot to get those mechanisms going again in a more comfortable way. I’m thinking here our bottle of calamus is really running low. I had it out on the table because I want to make a new tincture and I want to film it and put that on the internets. That also made me think that if you are somewhere and you don’t have access to calamus, like your local health food store doesn’t have any calamus tincture.

Ryn (00:41:38):
Or it doesn’t grow where you live.

Katja (00:41:41):
Calamus is not the only herb that will do this job. Any of the bitter herbs will and Urban Moonshine is a brand of bitters blend that is pretty widely available. They carry them at Whole Foods, they carry them at, even a lot of like not health, food oriented grocery stores have them. I feel like bitters are becoming trendy again, which is really fantastic.

Ryn (00:42:10):
Yeah, there was a trend starting awhile back in the cocktail scene too. You saw a bunch of bars around Boston suddenly having their own house made bitters and it was great. As herbalists we were super excited. We were like, yeah, I want to try your homemade bitter cocktail. For sure.

Katja (00:42:25):
Yes. So, if you can’t find Calamus then any of the bitter blends are worth trying and they’re not all the same. So, try a couple, see which you like best. Yeah, definitely. If you can’t find anything else, get cocktail bitters and just put a little bit in water and drink it that way.

Ryn (00:42:46):
Yeah. If you try a few different bitters and you’re like, ack! If you try a few different, let me say, individual bitter herbs, and that’s your reaction every time then don’t despair. Right. There was a long, long tradition in American herbalism of helping bitter herbs to taste a little bit better. That’s usually done in a couple of different ways together so that you’re going to take your bitter herbs, you’re going to combine it with something that’s a bit pungent or maybe aromatic. So that pungent is going to be ginger. Aromatic is going to be things like the tulsi we were talking about. Fennel kind of has elements of both. Things that have that kind of like warm spiciness to them can really help here. Then the other secret weapon is citrus.

Katja (00:43:31):
Orange peel in your bitters

Ryn (00:43:34):
Put a bit of orange peel tincture or however it is in with your bitter herbs and suddenly it’s just like, Hmm. Very good. Excellent. You know, those pungent herbs, those pungents and aromatics, warming digestives like ginger, fennel and even chamomile. They help with digestion in a kind of a different way from what bitters do. They will increase movements. They will bring blood to your digestive organs and wake them up and get them alert. They also tend to relax those organs to release tension, to release constriction that you may be feeling in your guts. So if you’ve started eating Whole30 style and you’re feeling like, ah, I don’t know, I’m getting some gut cramps and then, you know, maybe my body’s not quite used to this yet. Some fennel tinctures, some ginger, some actually even ginger, like…

Katja (00:44:31):
Candied ginger, even.

Ryn (00:44:33):
It’s Whole 30 though so..

Katja (00:44:35):
Right. Altoids makes a ginger. It might still have sugar in it.

Ryn (00:44:39):
Still have sugar. Well, stick with that ginger tincture or you know get fresh pieces of ginger. You can just slice off a little coin piece of it.

Katja (00:44:48):
Uncandied ginger.

Ryn (00:44:50):
That will be powerful herbal medicine right there. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Um, all right. Fennel, ginger thoughts?

Katja (00:45:00):
I also think that fennel and ginger are both really important for you. My body is very well adapted to digesting fat, and digesting like heavier foods and that was not an easy transition for me to make. Your body sort of has to struggle to digest fat, to digest heavy, heavy meals. Just cause you’re doing a Whole 30 doesn’t mean that you have to have a heavy meal like fish and kale is a totally Whole 30.

Ryn (00:45:35):
It’s true. It does, sometimes it does, let’s say frequently happen when people are thinking about good fats and changing the kind of fats they use, especially in your own home cooking. Then it often does involve like a bit of an increase or at least a change maybe in the type of fat you’re consuming. So there’s still some adjustment phase going on there. Yeah, fennel is really helpful for that. I mean like that’s why they put fennel in the sausages, right? There’s a lot of fat in a sausage and the fennel helps digest it. Sage is another one that I would really highlight here. Sage is awesome. It’s got pungency to it. It’s got aromatics to it. It’s got that deep warmth, that activation of digestion, it has that relaxant quality to constrictions there. It has a light, astringency that can help with just keeping the gut barriers intact. It really specifically does help with the digestion of fats. So that’s one. If maybe you’re like, yeah, I’m doing a Whole 30, I’m also taking the chance to increase my fat content a bit or just think differently about how I’m consuming those. Maybe you had just been previously tending toward an extra low fat diet because you’d absorbed the nutritional wisdom of the 80s. So, that’s really one to consider.

Katja (00:46:54):
I know it was the nutritional experiment of the 80s, but yeah. Turned out not to be wisdom.

Ryn (00:47:00):
Alright, cool. Other digestive herby thoughts there.

Katja (00:47:05):
One other thing here, especially along those lines of fat and improving digestion is vinegar. If you find that it is challenging to digest protein, maybe you find that you’re eating more protein than you previously did. Again, because it is so easy in our culture to get through a whole day just on carbs. That’s not like there’s a judgment statement there. It’s just easy. It’s easy to do it. And when you’re busy, the reality is you do what’s easy because you’re doing too much. So a lot of times when people start to eat more intentionally they will sort of go back to a meat and vegetables kind of a meal, which is great. But if you have not been doing that it can be difficult to process the protein and maybe new fats too. So making any kind of herbal infusion in vinegar is going to actually improve your digestive capacity and improve the work that happens higher in the digestive tract, especially in the stomach. So that things are more fully digested in the stage that they’re supposed to be when they leave the stomach. That is really helpful, really important. Any of these herbs we’ve been talking about you can infuse in vinegar.

Ryn (00:48:36):
Yeah. If you want something really high powered, then you could always take a bit of fire cider before meals. So fire cider, if this is brand new to you, if you’re new to herbalism, then you can just search on that term and you’ll get a lot of different recipes, but with a lot of commonalities too, right? Fire cider is pungent herbs infused in vinegar, things like garlic and onions and ginger and turmeric and horseradish and Sage as well. Rosemary can go in there and you can really take this in a lot of directions and experiment. Herbs like that tend to be the core of what people are putting into their fire ciders. So there you’re getting that benefit from the vinegar, the acidity of it, the digestive stimulus that it provides to your stomach. But also the constituents from those herbs…

Katja (00:49:28):
And the heat, you know, the heat, the bitterness that’s coming from the pungent ones. All of that is combining to assist in digestion.

Ryn (00:49:40):
Nice. Yeah. And you don’t need much. Right. Again, same kind of ideas as to the bitters, but maybe even closer to the meal, like right before you eat, you can just take a little. Half a shot glass or something of your herb infused vinegar. Then go ahead and eat. You may be worried if you have heartburn. Why would I ever want to consume acid if I’ve got too much acid in my stomach? With heartburn in many, many cases, it’s actually coming from lowered stomach acid rather than elevated stomach acid. There are ways to sort that out. It’s kind of a longer topic. We have that covered in our digestion course. So we’ve got a course on digestive health and we talk about that there; about understanding heartburn and how to work with that and how it’s not always a case of way much stomach acid. So, give it a try. You may find that the vinegar actually relieves your experience of heartburn. People with low stomach acid who take vinegar before meals, they may find that they don’t get heartburn after eating.

Katja (00:50:39):
Yeah. Especially if you’re a person who gets heartburn after eating. If you get heartburn before you eat and it goes away when you eat, then you’re not in that category. If you’re a person who gets the heartburn after you eat, then a little vinegar ahead of time is going to really help. You can even just marinate stuff in that fire cider. I mean, that’s what barbecue sauce is; vinegar, sugar or some tomato paste. So just skip the sugar. You put in the tomato paste if you want to, that’s fine. Just marinate it that way. That’s why marinates were invented, meat is not easy to digest. We stew it, we cook it a long time, marinate it in things that help us digest it better and also that help it taste good and whatever. So you can do that too. You don’t have to just, you know. Yeah.

Supportive Herbs: Nutritives

Ryn (00:51:34):
Cool. Okay. So let’s talk about one more category of herbs that can help. While we’re going through Whole 30. This is going to be nutritive herbs actually because, hey, you’re thinking about nutrition anyway, right? There are herbs that can provide things that is maybe not super easy to get from kind of standard vegetables, fruits and foods and so on. There are ways that herbs can kind of power up your food a bit. Yeah. So first I would just come back to that idea about the wild greens, right? So wild greens generally do have bitterness to them and this is a fine way to get bitters into your life if you don’t want to take the tincture or sip a cup of calamus tea or whatever else. You could, before a meal, have a little salad with a bunch of dandelion greens or other wild bitter plants.

Katja (00:52:24):
Radicchio is not wild, but it’s one of my favorite bitters.

Ryn (00:52:27):
It’s got nearly wild intensity level where it’s in there. Yeah. So, some, radicchio, some dandelion greens. I’m trying to think of ones that you could find in a store.

Katja (00:52:38):
Parsley is kind of bitter too. That would fall into that category.

Ryn (00:52:43):
So maybe not even just all bitter, but the potency of flavor you get from wild plants and also from things that are considered herbs, like culinary herbs. I mean, I’ve made a salad that had like three handfuls of sage leaves in it and…

Katja (00:53:00):
Yeah, you can put sage leaves in a salad. Absolutely.

Ryn (00:53:04):
So what are we getting here? Well, any of the benefits from the particular herbs you use. Parsley’s a nice kidney stimulant and a diuretic. Sage is a digestive like we’ve been saying. Dandelion greens also support kidney function. Also, all of these are going to have a decent amount of mineral nutrition to them. Generally a lot higher than something like iceberg lettuce and other domesticated plants. They’re also going to be providing what we call phytonutrients. This is a really enormous category that kind of covers everything that’s not a lettered vitamin or the famous minerals, right? So phytonutrients is going to include things like chlorophyll, which we’ve heard of, but it has a lot of benefits for blood sugar regulation, for metabolism, for immune function. Things you may be thinking about anyway that drove you to try your Whole30 experiment. Then also the bitter compounds in plants, the pigments in plants and the antioxidants and all these different kinds of things that they can provide that exists in wild herbs, in much greater concentrations than in domesticated plants because those wild plants are under different kinds of stress. Also because they haven’t been bred over generations to be sweeter and to be larger, which tends to come at the expense of nutrient density and nutrient complexity.

Katja (00:54:31):
Also, a lot of the wild plants, especially if you’re foraging them yourself, they’re growing in better nourished soil. As opposed to soil that is just having mainstream fertilizer added to it and they’re growing the same crop there every year, that kind of stuff. I also want to put in a plug here for things like Basil and Cilantro.

Ryn (00:55:05):
Piles of Basil leaf makes a fine salad.

Katja (00:55:07):
These are not bitter, but they, I mean they’re not wild either. They are farmed but they still retain a lot more of their sort of nutritive wild components, than like iceberg lettuce does.

Ryn (00:55:28):
How can you tell? You can taste it. Sometimes you can taste it, sometimes you can see it, right? We’re thinking like, I don’t know, you were at a cafeteria in high school or college and there’s some “salad bar”, with a few tomatoes, some chunks of lettuce and it’s kind of, I don’t know, technically green, but it’s pretty pale and washed out. You taste it and it’s like crunchy water. Okay. I heard this was good for me. I don’t know why. There’s an enormous difference between that and some like bright green dandelions you bite into and it has bitterness and that mineral flavor to it

Katja (00:56:06):
or that basil flavor. That’s just very alive…

Ryn (00:56:10):
Right and uplifting. Yeah. So these things aren’t invisible is the point here.

Katja (00:56:14):
That’s something that you talk about a lot in the photochemistry course that, there is a lot of chemistry that we can actually detect on the tongue. That a lot of these flavor components, it isn’t that they represent certain properties of plants it’s that the flavor of that plant, the molecule that has that particular flavor is also the molecule that does a particular thing in the body. So being able to taste that tells you, Oh, this plant has this particular action. I know because we know what that molecule tastes like.

Ryn (00:56:55):
Yeah. Cool. So, yeah, more wild greens, awesome way to work with herbs and totally counts as herbalism. Then, there is a tea blend we really like to make, which is sort of like wild greens in your teacup.

Katja (00:57:08):
Yes. So we refer to this as nettle and friends and I have a blog post about it that we will link in the show notes. Actually we did a whole podcast episode just about nettle and friends. We even have a mini course, a little $10 mini course on nettles, Anything About Nettles. So there’s a lot out there that we’ve said about nettles, but it really is every wonderful thing we’ve said about wild greens all concentrated into one plant. And you can have straight nettles. That’s totally fine. It’s a little on the drying side. So if your body is like mine, which this is the power of the podcast, so you can’t see my body unless you’re watching it on YouTube, in which case you can, but I’m wearing a sweater and a whatever today. So, what I mean is if you have a constitution where you carry a little extra water around with you. Maybe a little on the sluggish side and a little damp, then the dry action of nettles might feel really comfortable and great to you. If you’re a person with a body more like Ryn’s where you know, dry and…

Ryn (00:58:15):
Yeah, you’re going to want to adjust it a bit, you know? If I’m going to drink nettles for one day, don’t worry about it. If I’m like, all right, for the next three weeks, for my next whole month, my Whole30 month, I want to also drink nettles every day, then in my body I would probably combine like nettles in equal parts with a herb that has some moistening aspects to it. So there’s lots of different ways to do that, right? It could be equal parts nettles and marshmallow. Simple. I’ve got a dry herb, I’ve got a moistening herbs, put them next to each other and it’s a more balanced formula. It could be, I really like nettle; and I’m going to put a little bit of a violet in there that’s moistening, but I’m going to also put a bit of fennel in there and a bit of licorice and a bit of Linden, right? They’re all moistening herbs and they’re not as strongly mucilaginous and moistening powered as the marshmallow is. Maybe I have like one part nettle and one part of each of those other herbs. So the balance of the formula is more to that hydrating side. That’s going to be more sustainable in my body long-term. So, if you’re more dry, you retain more water or you’re kind of somewhere in the middle, you can adjust the herbs you put together with your nettles to match your body.

Katja (00:59:37):
Yeah. One thing with nettle is that you do want to let this steep overnight because a big part of the reason that nettles is so amazing is it’s mineral content. Minerals are slow to come out into the solution. You’ll see this yourself when you put the nettles and whatever else you’re going to put with it into your Mason jar. Put a good inch in the bottom of the jar at least. Pour in the boiling water, about a quart of water. Whatever size jar you have. If the jar is smaller than a quart then don’t pour a whole quart into this.

Ryn (01:00:16):
They probably knew that.

Katja (01:00:17):
They probably knew that for the boiling water. Intend for that to sit overnight, but look at it in about 20 or 30 minutes and observe the color. Then in the morning when you look at it again, observe the color again. It will be a jillion shades darker in the morning. That is just more of the chlorophyll, more of the minerals of all the stuff coming out into the water. Now you don’t have to drink it cold. It’ll get cold overnight. Obviously you don’t have to drink it cold, you can reheat it. That’s totally fine, but it’s a really actually very easy and very time friendly thing to add into your day. It’s Just at night, right before you brush your teeth, put the kettle on, go brush your teeth, do what you’ve got to do in the bathroom. Then go back to the kitchen. Now the kettle has boiled. Pour it over your nettle. Just let it sit and go to bed. Okay. You wake up in the morning, you take the jar, you strain it into your water bottle. If you’re anything like me, you just leave the jar next to the sink, go away and deal with it later. If you’re Ryn, you wash it immediately and compost it immediately because you’re awesome. It just takes a couple minutes before bed, a couple minutes off in the morning. You can take that with you all day long and actually you don’t even have to be doing a Whole30 for this. Even if you had one of those days where all you ate was carbs and it was all fast food, just a quart of Nettle and whatever friends you have paired with it through the day; it’s like instant bonus nutrition. It’s amazing. Yeah.

Ryn (01:02:01):
Yeah. Awesome. Cool. All right. You know, you could even throw your nettle leaf, and when we work with nettles we don’t really love to do this from tea bags because like she was describing, you’re going to use a pretty substantial amount of the herbs. So we tend to go to a wholesale herb supplier or your local herb shop and get yourself a decent amount because you know, you’re going to be using a good solid handful every day. So you can go through quite a bit.

Katja (01:02:28):
It’s funny on our shelves, all of the jars are like half gallon size jars and some of them are less, but the nettle jar is a gallon guy cause you just need more nettle.

Ryn (01:02:39):
Yeah. Right. I was going to say like when you have that, just like they call it cut and sifted, is the form that it comes in. It’s been called confetti before. So you can start with a handful of that and throw that into something like your bone broth because you’re doing Whole30, so you’re probably eating bone broth, you know. Or you know, plant, veggie and mushroom broth if you’re doing the vegan version. Throwing nettle into foods is a totally traditional way to work with it. You could even, depending on what time of the year you’re hearing this, go and gather some fresh nettles and cook those into a soup or you could saute them and eat them. I really advise this actually, if you ever do get the chance nettle leaves are shockingly delicious and in a way that there are a few other things I can think of that tastes as good as a fresh nettle leaf right off the plant. You may be saying this will sting your tongue and your gums and stuff. Yeah, maybe a little bit, but not as much as you think. It goes away super fast in the mouth.

Katja (01:03:40):
It more so tingles.

Ryn (01:03:41):
Yeah, but it’s ah, it’s so good. You can eat them in lots of ways. You could throw some into the broth and that leads us into other things that you can throw into your broths to power that up.

Katja (01:03:51):
This is going to be true whether you make the broth yourself from your very own backyard pasture raised chicken bones and you did all the work for yourself. Or if you got bone broth in a box from the grocery store, it is totally fine. Box bone broth is way better than no bone broth. So do what you’ve got to do, but then yet putting a ton of herbs in there is going to boost the value so much. So toss in the nettle, but two of my favorite things. Okay. Three of my favorite. I have so many favorite things to put into the bone broth. Two of them are shitake and maitake mushrooms, those are two that are pretty reliably available at grocery stores. Putting them in the broth, really cooking them for a long time makes them so much more digestible. You can saute your mushrooms and they’re delicious and that’s great, but you won’t actually digest them as well as you will if you put them in the broth and let them cook for a long time.

Ryn (01:04:59):
Yeah, absolutely. Shitake and maitake mushrooms are immune modulators. They are herbs that help your immune system to work more efficiently and more intelligently. I’m going out of my way here to avoid saying something like they boost immune activity or they stimulate activity because that wouldn’t be a really fair descriptor of what these do.

Katja (01:05:21):
Also because they are safe for people with autoimmune issues, they are not going to like turn an autoimmune condition and ramp that up even further. Actually, they’re very assistive in autoimmune situations.

Ryn (01:05:36):
Yeah. So these are medicinal mushrooms. They can really help to kind of give your immune system a tune up, give it some extra reserves so that it’s ready and prepared for the next illness that comes your way. Another thing that we really love to put into broth, it’s kind of similar in that regard is astragalus. This is not a mushroom. It’s actually in the legume family and we would be avoiding legumes on our Whole30, but here it is the roots. You’re not really going to be consuming your astragalus. You’re going to cook it up and strain it out when you eat it.

Katja (01:06:14):
Anyway, the reason that we’re avoiding legumes is because of the proteins in the lectins that are in the seed, the actual bean part that you’re going to eat. The reason that those are there is because the plant doesn’t want you to eat that because that’s it’s reproductive capacity and those lectins are not necessarily present in the roots.

Ryn (01:06:37):
Okay. Now that we’ve cleared that up. It’s good to check that we’re still Whole30 compliant. Astragalus, it’s another immune modulator, an adaptogen as well. So it’s helping with the stress response specifically through that window of immune activity and the immune elements of your stress response. It really does help to build that resilience and also to rebuild after a period of stress or of sickness. Absolutely.

Katja (01:07:10):
Codonopsis is really similar.

Ryn (01:07:10):
Codonopsis was one of your best friends for a long, long time.

Katja (01:07:15):
Oh my goodness. Codonopsis is one that I turn to for recovery when I am just rung out. It is a long, slow build of energy, of capacity. So it’s not like ginseng where it’ll give you a boost right away. It’s a restoration of what was lost or restoration of the things that have been depleted that have caused you to become exhausted. So this is a plant I love because often I will work like crazy and then feel depleted and exhausted. Then I remember, Hey, I shouldn’t really work like that. Then it’s time for Codonopsis and over my life, this has been a challenge that I am trying to work on and it is getting better every year.

Ryn (01:08:05):
Yeah. Codonopsis is kind of like patient ginseng. You know, it’s moving in the same direction. It’s supporting the same kinds of quality, function or energy in the body. It moves you there slowly and at a nice even pace, which makes it less susceptible to abuse. Yeah. It’s very possible to abuse your ginseng and not realize that’s what’s happening. Yeah.

Katja (01:08:36):
Yeah. It has a nice flavor. It’s very much like parsnip. You can get it dried and put it right in the broth and it’s fine. If you eat it, it’s enjoyable. It really, really tastes like parsnip. There was one more thing that wasn’t on our list but that I really can’t not say. That is seaweeds. I noticed that you have planned for us next week’s podcast already.

Ryn (01:09:06):
Yeah. I want to drill it on this cause we’ve been going through these herbs kind of kind of rapidly right here and I don’t think we’ve really done them justice. So, let’s plan next week to do a podcast on herbs to supercharge your bone broths. I love that idea and that’ll definitely include seaweed.

Katja (01:09:23):
Yeah. So I’m not going to say too much about seaweeds for this very moment, but definitely put them in your bone broth and we’ll tell you so much more about it next week.

Ryn (01:09:33):
You’re going to love it.

Katja (01:09:34):
In the bone broth edition of the holistic herbalism podcast.

Ryn (01:09:39):
Cool. All right, well that’ll come up next week, but before we’re done for this week, we have shout outs.

Katja (01:09:43):
We do! I think that I got them all. So, here we go. First to Mary, who is a longtime listener and her friend Amber, who just gifted her some of our online herb courses for the holidays. Nice. Yeah, I’m excited.

Ryn (01:10:02):
We got a shout out to Alexis at Ocotillo Botanica nice. Who loves the pod and is going to be carrying our book herbal medicine for beginners in her shop. Where’s that shop?

Katja (01:10:15):
Oh shoot. I didn’t write it down, but the shop is called Ocotillo Botanica. One of the things that I really want to do early this year, like this month is start a list and, see he’s making notes, is start a listing of herb shops all around the country. So hold on. He’s actually even looking it up right now.

Ryn (01:10:38):
They’re going to be opening soon in Marfa, Texas.

Katja (01:10:40):
Awesome. Yes. So check them out. Watch on our website very, very soon for information about herb shops all around the country. If you’re listening and you own an herb shop, please email me info@commonwealthherbs.com and tell me, so that I can put you on the list because our students love to be able to shop at local herb shops and we really want to support that.

Ryn (01:11:06):
Absolutely. Shout out to Jolunket on Instagram. I mean, you never know how to pronounce the names…

New Speaker (01:11:14):
I think it’s Joe-Lunket.

Ryn (01:11:14):
We do our best and if we get it really wrong feel free to send us an…audio email?

Katja (01:11:14):
Yes, that would be great!

Ryn (01:11:15):
But, this was Joe Lunket on Instagram, who liked the Solstice tea but was maybe skeptical about the cardamom ratio that Katja included there.

Katja (01:11:37):
You guys, I love cardamom. I want all of the cardamom. One little cardamom is not enough. It has to be a lot of cardamom. I love cardamom, is what I’m trying to tell you. Also to Wendy who is interested in the nervous system and emotional health course; and also the musculoskeletal and alignment course. Both of those are launching this winter. So watch for them in our newsletter.

Ryn (01:12:02):
Yes. Coming soon to an online course platform near you.

Katja (01:12:07):
That would be Commonwealthherbs.com I believe.

Ryn (01:12:09):
That’s the one. To the Shaw family practice on Instagram, who likes the videos we post there as well as the pod. Hey, thank you so much.

Katja (01:12:22):
Also, while they were singing on Instagram, checked their podcast listening stats. I don’t know how you do that, but it was really cool because they posted that they had listened to 3,533 minutes of this podcast in 2019. I thought that was really cool. Here’s to many more minutes in 2020.

Ryn (01:12:45):
Yes. Wow. That’s okay. I’m a little blown away by that one. Glitter in the Dirt on Instagram, made herb infused wines for the holidays and reminded us that we didn’t send the bookplate yet. Oops! If you received a copy of our book for the holidays, or if you have one for some other reason, and you too would like a fancy inscribed bookplate sticker with our signatures on it to put it right in there then shoot us an email and we’ll send it to you for free.

Katja (01:13:15):
I won’t drop the ball this time. Our book is Herbal Medicine for Beginners and you can get it on Amazon, your local bookshop and also at many local herb shops. If you do just send us an email, we’ll sign it for you remotely. That’s right, yes. All right.

Ryn (01:13:34):
Shout out to Sandy who listens to the pod in Finland and was sharing some personal experiences with the herb parilla or paria? Whenever I see two L’s together, I sort of default to Spanish.

Katja (01:13:46):
Well, if it’s in Scandinavia it might be paray.

Ryn (01:13:50):
I don’t know. In any case, it’s a mint family plant. She mentioned this because on one of our earlier podcasts, we had been talking about supposedly poisonous mints, supposedly poisonous plants in the mint family. The Lamiaceae, perilla was one that I found that had conflicting info. I thought, wait a minute, they eat this as food some places. That’s probably not really toxic. Sandy was backing us up on that and saying that they eat it frequently.

Katja (01:14:20):
Yeah. You can buy it in the grocery store in Finland apparently, which is awesome. Sandy, if you’re hearing this and you want to tell us the proper Scandinavian pronunciation of that, it would be awesome. Christina in Tennessee, whose parents gifted her funding for herbal courses at our online herb school for Christmas. Which is awesome! I’m so excited.

Ryn (01:14:43):
A nice gift. Appropriate for birthdays and various holidays all through the year. All right. We have a shout out to RebeccaJean26, who left us a review on Apple podcasts.

Katja (01:14:57):
Thank you.

Ryn (01:14:57):
That’s so fantastic! We really appreciate it. That means a ton to us because it helps other people find the podcast and also because then they see what real humans think about it. Yeah, that’s awesome.

Katja (01:15:11):
That’s great. As I was looking at the recommendations that Apple podcast gives in the alternative health category of podcasts, there’s a 500 or 600 review threshold to get yourself into that recommended list. So if you want to help get our podcast up into that recommended list, then run over to Apple podcasts and leave a review.

Ryn (01:15:39):
We would really appreciate it.

Katja (01:15:40):
Well, we would appreciate it, but also the people who are better able to find the podcast and spread the herby goodness.

Ryn (01:15:48):
They don’t know it yet, but they would appreciate that. All right. One more shout out to Naomi in the UK who’s interested in all the different types of tincture making processes and the pros and cons of each one. I saw that email. Yeah.

Katja (01:16:01):
That is just one of the things that we cover in the herbal medicine making course. Right now there are 47 close up step-by-step videos in that course showing how to make all the different kinds of herbal preparations plus recipes, printable instruction cards and more. Plus whenever we add new videos they show up in all the students’ accounts automatically. Also you can ask us questions on anything that you’re wondering about. Like, Hey, I made this and I’m afraid it might mold. Am I doing this right or whatever? Both in the discussion threads that are attached to every video in the course; but also in our twice weekly live Q and A web conference sessions. Basically you can watch the material on your own schedule. You can watch it a million times, as often as you like. You have lifetime access, you have that flexibility in our courses to do things on your own time. You also have twice a week direct, live interaction. We’re really trying to have the best of both worlds there to give all the different options. So, if you are interested in online herbal courses with Ryn and I, check out all of our courses, including the herbal medicine making course at commonwealthherbs.com/learn. Alright, we did it.

Ryn (01:17:32):
I think that’s the pod for the day. All right. Good luck on your Whole30. I hope that these herb suggestions help to make that easier, more pleasurable, more delightful and more successful. We’ll be back next week with a discussion about herbs for bone broth.

Katja (01:17:52):
That’s going to be fun.

Ryn (01:17:52):
Yeah. So until then drink some tea, take care of yourself, take care of each other. We’ll be back next time.

Katja (01:18:14):
See you then.

Ryn (01:18:14):
Bye.

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