Episode 61: How To Start Using Herbs In Your Everyday
Herbal medicine is a huge focus area that can take a lifetime to learn. So, where does a regular person who wants to safely experiment with herbs even start?
We’ve got you covered. On this episode, Andrea speaks with Meghan Telpner and Josh Gitalis about how to open up the world of herbs in an accessible, easy-to-try way. The duo discuss how to incorporate herbs into your life through teas, infusions, salves, tinctures and more.
They talk about the benefits of different herbs, contraindications to look out for and their favorite herbs for digestive distress and overall wellness.
Longtime listeners will remember both Meghan and Josh from previous episodes. Meghan is a Toronto-based author, speaker, nutritionist, and founder of The Academy of Culinary Nutrition. She is also the author of two best-selling, award-winning books, “UnDiet: Eat Your Way to Vibrant Health” and “The UnDiet Cookbook.”
Josh is a clinical nutritionist and recognized expert in the fields of clinical detoxification and therapeutic supplementation. He runs a Toronto-based private practice with a worldwide client base.
Together, they run Everyday Herbal, a 4-week online program designed to take the overwhelm out of herbs and get you on the path to using a wide variety in your everyday life.
To get a sense of their teaching style, enjoy these two free video demos from Meghan and Josh:
- A brief history of medicinal herbs (2:46)
- Culinary vs. therapeutic uses of herbs (6:44)
- How pharmaceuticals are derived from herbs (12:35)
- Internal and external ways to use herbs (15:53)
- Herbal shelf-life (18:18)
- Contraindications (21:37)
- Herbs for common ailments (23:50)
- Children and herbs (27:49)
- Tips on sourcing herbs (34:15)
- “Everyday Herbal” course info (37:56)
Mentioned On This Show:
- Everyday Herbal course (rolling enrollment)
- The Academy of Culinary Nutrition
- Josh Gitalis’ Functional Nutrition Certification Program
- BIOHM’s website (Promo Code: POD15)
Andrea Wien: Welcome to the Microbiome Report powered by BIOHM Health. I am your host Andrea Wien and we are talking all about herbs today with two of our favorite guests Meghan Telpner and Josh Gitalis. They've both been on the show separately but this is the first time that we've them together in the same room to really put their brain power into a single episode and I couldn't be more thrilled with how it turned out. We are talking about how to use herbs in your everyday life. These are things like teas, tinctures, salves, lotions, really the list goes on and on and what's so cool is Josh and Meghan have distilled all of their information into a course called Everyday Herbal.
On this episode, I really picked their brain into what herbal medicine is, how we can use it in our modern day life, how it's different from pharmaceuticals or even supplements that we might be taking and some common herbs that we can use for digestive ailments. Things like constipation, diarrhea, upset stomach, indigestion, GERD. These really common things that are out there, that herbs can have a huge impact on. We also talk about some contraindications, things to watch out for and then, also, how to start using herbs with kids. This episode is packed with information and I'm really so excited to bring it to you.
I just love the way that Josh and Meghan are able to explain things and make it really easy and accessible to understand. Many of you will know that I've taken courses with Josh and Meghan before and I just really can't sing their praises enough. Please go biohmhealth.com/pages/podcast to get all of the links to their course and everything that we talked about in this episode. Additionally, don't forget that if you go to BIOHM's website, you can save 15% off with the code POD15, so that's P-O-D 15. Now, without further ado, let's get to the show. Meghan and Josh, welcome to the show. It's so lovely to have you both together.
Josh Gitalis: Thank you for having us.
Meghan Telpner: Thank you, we're sitting very close together right now to do this too which is always nice.
Andrea Wien: Yes, that is nice. I know. Sometimes when you're married, suddenly you're like, Oh wait, we're this close together, great. You forget to do that sometimes. So most people probably think of herbal medicine as a little bit of an antiquated form of medicine. Can we talk about just a brief history of how herbs have been used medicinally? And then, how it's evolved really for modern day?
Josh Gitalis: Absolutely. Well, I think herbal medicine has evolved because indigenous tribes and people around the world have looked for some sort of medicine in their environment. They knew that of would keep them alive and give them sustenance, and they knew that food was important for their health but when there was injuries or cuts, or illnesses, they would look to nature to find remedies for that too. Because they knew that food did that in terms of sustaining their health. Different herbal disciplines have been developed all over the world, using herbs for very actually similar ailments and similar mechanisms.
We find that one herb in one part of the world has similar mechanisms than herbs in other parts of the world. It's just really cool because nature provides no matter where you are. So, lie ginger and turmeric and boswellia, they all are really great anti inflammatories but available in different parts, no matter where you are.
Meghan Telpner: One of the things that we love in learning about herbal medicine and using it in our everyday lives, both culinary wise and in therapeutic ways is that, now in 2021, living in Toronto, there is so much knowledge available to us and so much access to what has been used for thousands and thousands of years in other cultures. We have the privilege of being able to sort of pick and choose the very, very best for what our specific needs are. I mean, viruses and pathogenic bacteria, these have been in existence and a threat to humans for as long as humans have been on the planet. For the longest time, herbal remedies and other types of natural remedies were what were used to sustain health and maintain health and regain health when needed.
Josh Gitalis: This question actually reminds me of a little story. I was on an herbal farm for about a couple of months doing an herbal medicine internship.
Meghan Telpner: Right after Josh and I started dating, he took off for six weeks. It was a cute move.
Andrea Wien: Well he came to Ohio, which is where I am. So I can't fault him too much.
Josh Gitalis: Yeah, Ohio is a rich, rich source of amazing herbs. Which is why actually one of the teachers of the program decided to set up shop there, I guess about 50 years ago now. He decided that he wanted to live off the land, completely be self-sufficient. So he learned how to farm and after he learned how to farm and make all of his food, he decided he needed some sort of sweetness and became a beekeeper for that. But then he realized he also needed medicine for various ailments, because he wanted to be completely self-sufficient and not depend on the conventional medicine world. So he became an herbalist.
So that's kind of the evolution of humankind as well. Is that we've sought these remedies to keep us healthy and to deal with situations as they come up, if they're acute medical situations.
Meghan Telpner: But not emergency medical situations.
Josh Gitalis: Right, that's a good thing to specify. Conventional medicine is incredible for stabilizing and for emergencies, and we should definitely go to a doctor, a hospital if we are something life-threatening, but we're talking about maintenance of health and little things.
Meghan Telpner: Day-to-day prevention.
Andrea Wien: I think you, Meghan mentioned also that there's culinary uses and therapeutic uses for herbs. I'd love to just talk about that distinction a little bit and what the difference is between an herb that we might be using culinarily and what that looks like and what a therapeutic use would be.
Meghan Telpner: Yeah. So a great example, Josh mentioned turmeric. Turmeric we can use in our cooking, we use it in things like curries, we can use it in teas, we can use it as a flavoring agent. We can use it sprinkling it on a dry rub on chicken or on Tempe. So there's so many different ways to use turmeric as a culinary application for both its flavor and its nutritional benefit. The active component in turmeric is curcumin. It's one of them, which is a very concentrated and powerful anti-inflammatory said to be as effective as nonsteroidal anti inflammatories. You're not going to get that level of anti-inflammatory benefit by sprinkling a teaspoon into a pot of curry. However, if you were to take it in a therapeutic dose, say, as a supplement, a concentrate of the curcumin or as a tincture, then you start getting that higher therapeutic benefit.
We also use turmeric in a poultice. So if you know, Josh mentioned emergency medicine. If you break your leg, you want to go to the emergency room. However, if you have a slight sprain or you've pulled a muscle working out, you can make a poultice with turmeric and some ginger and castor oil and put that as a compress on your body and be able to gain benefit from those anti-inflammatory properties in those spices. So that's an example of how something can be used both in a culinary application, in an internal therapeutic application and in an external therapeutic application.
Josh Gitalis: Even another example, something I just dealt with recently with one of my clients is, Meghan and I are sitting right now in our kitchen, looking at our spice rack.
Meghan Telpner: We were both looking at the jars of spices that we keep out.
Josh Gitalis: So over on the shelf there, I see cloves. Cloves is again, a spice we use in a lot of our cooking and recipes. Recently, I had a client who had a toothache and couldn't see a dentist right away, couldn't get help for that. So clove oil is an amazing anti-inflammatory and local analgesic. So, that's even another form, these essential oils, which harness a lot of the medicinal qualities out of this spice.
Meghan Telpner: Clove also happens to be a really potent antioxidant, or contain potent antioxidants. We often think of blueberries or everyone loves to think about wine, but clove also has that benefit and it's antiviral, antimicrobial, antibacterial as many spices are. So what's really amazing about using herbs in this way is that they don't just have one function. They typically have a combination of synergistic benefit, which is why you can use one or two spices or herbs and they can have such a far reaching benefit on so many different systems of the body. And they're delicious. So that's a bonus.
Andrea Wien: That was actually one of my questions about the synergistic nature of them. This is something I learned when I took Josh's course. That when you mix certain herbs together, the sum is better for you than the individual parts. I just thought that was so interesting that these compounds can really play off of each other and it just shows you how much nature has really evolved to be the perfect version of what we need. It's just tapping back into the land or tapping back into this ancient wisdom as something that's very popular right now, ancient medicine. Everyone's kind of talking about that. But we knew so much in the past, it seems, that we've lost in the race to be better and stronger and have more technology. But some of these things that we're rediscovering or tapping into are so interesting to me. That nature has really provided so much of it for us there.
Meghan Telpner: Absolutely. Most often, the remedy we need most is almost practically growing in our backyard. It's right around the corner.
Josh Gitalis: Yeah, I find Indian cooking really fascinating because they're using a lot of the same herbs and spices for every recipe, but they use them in different combinations. We've evolved to understand how food works in our body, sort of on a subconscious level, by the way we taste our food. One of the most common questions Meghan and I get when we teach herbal medicine or even culinary nutrition is, how much of a spice or herb is okay? How much turmeric can you put in? How much clove can you put in? When you start to learn these benefits, everyone always thinks more is better.
One of the guiding principles we give is to trust your taste buds, because your taste buds know where the medicine is. It knows where the nutrients are. When we combine these spices, as you mentioned, we have the synergistic effect and our body sort of knows it in some way. Because we know when we combine these, it elevates the food. It makes it taste amazing and it takes us to other places, on a spiritual and physical level in terms of our experience of that flavor.
Meghan Telpner: As well, that flavor itself limits how much we can actually have. You can't eat two tablespoons of ground turmeric. It would be unpalatable and probably pretty nauseating and might give you a belly ache. But so the taste itself and the way the food is, usually has its own limits in place. Which is why you also want to be more mindful when you start using these herbs in therapeutic concentrates. Because then you are taking it out of its more natural whole state.
Andrea Wien: I'm going to talk about contraindications later, but for right now, let's talk about how herbal formulations are developed and how they're different or similar to drugs and pharmaceuticals. Which from my understanding, a lot of the backbone of some of the drugs and pharmaceuticals that we take have been kind of extrapolated from the isolated aspects of different herbs.
Meghan Telpner: Absolutely. So aspirin is a great example. So it's a known painkiller and is it aspirin? It's aspirin. It was derived originally from white willow bark. So white willow bark is an analgesic, a natural painkiller. What you end up with aspirin is a extreme concentrate of that active component. So that's kind of one example how traditional medicine has been manipulated by humans to create these concentrates, to have a more aggressive and instantaneous response in the body. Oftentimes that's what we've sort of been programmed to expect when we start taking remedies, is that we want this immediate result. Feel better, decongestant works within 30 minutes of taking a pill and we've sort of been programmed to expect that.
A lot of what we do with herbal medicine is looking at prevention, tonifying the body, strengthening the body, which is a more slow and steady preventative effect or benefit in the body, as opposed to that aggressive response. There are herbs that can be used in that way, but that's not what our focus is on.
Andrea Wien: So is it safe to say that using herbs daily over a longer period of time, is that kind of what you're getting at. that that's more effective in terms of supporting longer term health than an acute situation that might be fixed by herbs?
Josh Gitalis: In some situations, yes. So if we look at the spectrum of herbs and their effects, there's a group of herbs where we might just want to use them acutely for an illness for a short period of time, because they're quite strong in their effect. For example, echinacea is quite effective at increasing a certain white blood cells that can deal with an acute infection. Or goldenseal, similarly can do that. It's a great anti-microbial. But there's another group of herbs, which we call tonic herbs and there's a discipline called tonic herbalism. Where these herbs are not as strong, they just kind of have, as the name suggests a tonifying effect and when you consume them or expose your body to them over a period of time, they just help the strength of your body. They make you more resilient.
A lot of people are familiar with adaptogens. Adaptogens are a perfect example of this. They help your body adapt to stress, you're not as tired, you're not as worn out. You can handle more stress, you recover quicker and you can take these things for a much longer period of time, because it's almost like an herb that you would use culinarily. You wouldn't again, going back to the [inaudible 00:15:17] cloves, you wouldn't say, Oh, I've used those three days in a row, I need to take a break now. You want to have that in your food, ongoing, because there's so many subtle benefits from those constituents in those spices that they're constantly supporting the health of the body.
Andrea Wien: Can we talk about the different ways, you've mentioned a few of them teas and salves. What are the internal and external ways that we can start to use these herbs? When you're looking at kind of end products, end stages of where these herbs end up, what are those different places?
Meghan Telpner: The most basic, and I think what everyone is already consuming, maybe without even knowing it is an herbal infusion. So if you make a peppermint tea, you're using peppermint as an herb in a subtle but a medicinal way and it could be helpful for digestion. It can be helpful for nausea. So there's a few different benefits in that way. So infusions are taking sort of the leafy kind of herbs and infusing them in water. The next step would be a decoction where you take spices that are a little bit harder or seeds, things like milk thistle or chaga mushroom or Reishi, or even goji berries, and you have to boil those down for a period of time to be able to extract more of the active constituents from those herbs.
We can then look at different types of concentrates. So tinctures, where you're taking these herbs and soaking them in an alcohol for a period of time to extract the active constituents in that way. Then you'd be taking either a few drops or a dropper full in a higher concentration. Syrups are another way. You can make an elderberry syrup where you boil it down in water with a little bit of honey. We like to do with honey that we add after. Some people do it with sugar, but we try and keep the sugar out of the mix. So you can do syrups, you can make lozenges with things like slippery elm and an essential oil. Those are a few different internal applications.
Then we can look at external applications like making balms or salves like a vapor rub or a bath balm that you soak in, or even making an herbal tea that you infuse your bath in and soak in that. We have transdermal absorption, meaning what we put on our skin transfers into our body. So anything we put on our skin has the potential to have a healing benefit to the body. I talked earlier about compresses, that's another external application or massage oils. So if you're getting a massage and you use a non rancid oil that is heat stable, but you've infused it with maybe [inaudible 00:17:42] or chamomile or lavender. In addition to the massage, which has a benefit to the nervous system and the body, you can also be absorbing the benefits of those herbs through the skin.
Andrea Wien: So when we start to think about these different applications and different use cases, I have to imagine that some of them are more shelf stable. Some of them go rancid more quickly. When we're thinking about what we might already have in our cupboard and how we're using these things, are herbs good forever? What's kind of the rule of thumb here on how long we should be keeping some of these things around?
Josh Gitalis: Well for raw herbs and spices as a general rule, the softer the herb is, the shorter shelf life it's going to have. So if we're looking at leaves and flowers, like chamomile or peppermint, it's going to lose its flavor, lose the essential oils a lot quicker than something that's really hard, like chaga, which is a mushroom that dries really hard or Reishi mushroom that could last a really long period of time. Or even roots or barks can last a little bit longer as well.
Then when we're talking about some herbal preparations, there's really great ways to increase that shelf life substantially. So tinctures are a great way to preserve herbs over the long-term. Most people have like one of those small bottles from the airplane of alcohol, that is 40 or 50 years old and hasn't changed at all. So alcohol is an amazing preservative of these herbs. When you make tinctures, it gives you the ability to take that herb, whether it's fresh and in season or dried and preserve it for when you need it. You don't need to have it on hand.
Meghan Telpner: One other factor to consider when you're making things like oils or an infused honey, which is another great way to preserve herbs, is using them in their dried form. So as soon as you add water, which contains oxygen, so a constituted or fresh herbs is going to have that water oxygen in it. You increase the rate of oxidization or rancidity. So if you're working with dried herbs, they're going to last longer than if you're working with fresh herbs.
Andrea Wien: That's a really good way to think about that. So when we start to think too about herbs overall, I think people hear herbal medicine or herbs, and they think, Oh, it's safe. It's natural. I can't really go overboard. We've talked about it a bit in terms of the strength of them or when you're isolating certain compounds, that it can be possible to go overboard on these. But what are some contraindications that we should be looking out for before we just jump into creating our own herbal mixes?
Josh Gitalis: Mostly when we're working with the culinary form of them like herbs and spices in their food form, we don't have to worry too much about contraindications. It's really when we start to concentrate them in some of these prepared forms like tinctures and capsules and even teas in certain situations. So, a lot of people are on pharmaceuticals these days. There definitely has to be some cross-checking to see if that drug interacts with the herb or spice that they're trying to consume at a therapeutic level.
So for example, when people have issues with blood clots or maybe they've had a heart attack or have thick blood, sometimes they're put on blood thinners. Blood thinners, as a category of medications, have a very narrow therapeutic target. Meaning that if you take too much of it, your blood thins too much, and you can bleed out. If you don't take enough of it, the blood is too thick. So other foods, other herbs that can influence the effect of clotting in your body can really affect how that drug needs to be taken, the dosage. That's an example of something that would need to be checked.
Andrea Wien: Yeah. I know pregnancy too is a big one. I often was looking at different herbs when I was pregnant and my midwife would say, "Well, there's not really a lot of evidence." Because ethically, obviously it's hard to test different things on pregnant women. But she was like, a lot of these things we don't know and so it's better to just put them on the back burner until after you've had the baby and then revisit them in the postpartum days. So I thought that was a big one also that should probably be mentioned just in terms of people who might be starting to think in a more holistic and natural way during pregnancy, that not all of these herbs might be safe.
Meghan Telpner: Yeah, absolutely. There are herbs that are known and safe. Aviva Romm is a great reference to look into that, but things like nettle and oat straw, and then some herbs can actually be very beneficial in the third trimester. For example, like raspberry leaf tea, to start to sort of tonify the uterus. So there is some research on them and you just want to be mindful about your own personal health always. Everyone, no matter whether you're pregnant or not, or breastfeeding or not, or wherever you are in your health, it always comes down to the individual, because something that's healthy and beneficial for one may not be beneficial for all.
But it's also, I always have a little giggle about this too, that people start worrying about lavender and different herbs while they're pregnant. Then you think about people drinking those massive coffees when they're pregnant or the liquids you have to drink for the gestational diabetes test. So, within reason, but always consult with your own health practitioner for sure.
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So let's talk about some common herbs for common ailments. Obviously this show is all about digestive health and the microbiome. So maybe we can start there in terms of if people are dealing with maybe more acute things like digestive distress, diarrhea, or constipation, or some of these ailments that are very uncomfortable, what kind of herbs can we start to think about?
Meghan Telpner: Well, ginger is my go-to. I'm prone to digestive stuff. Anything happens in my life, that's where I get hit first. So I keep ginger on hand. I keep ginger root for delicious teas where you can simmer about a quarter cup of ginger with four to six cups of water and you get a really strong ginger tea that's good for nausea. It's good for digestion, helps calm the nerves, keep circulation going. I'll take ginger as a capsule or in tincture form for motion sickness, nausea. So ginger's a really great go-to everyday herb to have on hand for those types of digestive symptoms.
Josh Gitalis: I definitely second that on ginger. The cool thing about herbs is that they have so many functions. So sometimes you can have one herb in your herbal medicine kit and use it for so many different things. So Meghan just mentioned all these amazing uses of ginger for digestive related stuff and a few other related items, but I just took some ginger this morning because I pulled my neck a little bit.
Meghan Telpner: Because you're becoming an old man.
Josh Gitalis: Yeah, something like that. It's an incredible anti-inflammatory. So I just really looked in the cupboards and took whatever I could find that I knew was an anti-inflammatory. That's the cool thing about some of these herbs. But on the note of digestion, one of my favorite categories of herbs are what are called bitters. Bitters are herbs that, exactly what it sounds like, they taste bitter. When we taste bitter, we ramp up all of our digestive juices. Our enzymes, our hydrochloric acid and we increase what they call in Ayurvedic medicine, the digestive fire.
So you can combine a bunch of these herbs or you can take them individually. Evolutionarily speaking, when we taste bitter in nature, we think it's a poison, well, our body thinks it's a poison. So it tries to deal with that poison as quick as possible by ramping up our digestive juices. Now these bitters are obviously not poisonous, but they elicit that response. They're really amazing at improving digestion for those people who have GERD or indigestion. I feel like food kind of sits in the stomach, maybe they have gas and bloating. Maybe they get constipation or diarrhea. It's just kind of an all around tonifier of the digestive tract.
Andrea Wien: Yeah, bitters is pretty much the first place I go when someone tells me they're having digestive issues with any of my clients. It's all about eating hygiene and really slowing down to eat and getting into parasympathetic state, and then adding bitters is just a really nice way that a lot of people see so much relief with. So that's a good one. Then in terms of the Ayurvedic side of things, we had Divya Alta on who was my Aryuvedic cooking teacher when I was in New York. She is also a big fan of ginger. Now anytime anyone in my family or any of my friends is getting sick, I do something very similar to what Meghan was talking about with that tea where I'll grate ginger, make a really concentrated tea and then strain out the ginger, add a little bit of raw honey and a squeeze of lime. I swear people have said that their sinus issues and sore throats and things have virtually disappeared.
I actually had a friend who had COVID and I made her some of this tea and took it to her. And she said it really worked wonders. So even on something as serious as COVID, we can use some of these things to really move the needle.
Meghan Telpner: Wait a second. Herbal remedy is going to help with the virus? Stop it.
Andrea Wien: Oh my goodness. Can you believe it?
Meghan Telpner: The tea you just mentioned and what I was talking about, actually, I used to make that when I was pregnant, because I didn't have one of those pregnancies where I was just feeling amazing and glowing all the time. I felt sick, like a walking barf bag, but I would make that tea into popsicles cause I couldn't tolerate like drinking something hot. So that's another way to get the herbs in too. If you make herbal infusion and use that as the liquid in popsicles and smoothies, can be a really great way to sort of layer in more nutritional benefit.
Andrea Wien: That makes me think of something too. When we're starting to think about kids and how to introduce herbs into the lives of children. Obviously doing something like a Popsicle, a ginger Popsicle sounds delicious, but do we need to be careful when we're giving kids herbs or different teas, or what does that picture look like?
Meghan Telpner: No, I mean, do you want to talk about what we need to be careful giving kids. One of the first things, when our son started drinking water, we would give him a week infusion of nettle tea or peppermint tea. These really safe, stable, neutral herbs. It also helps sort of condition his palette as well. So we started off with that and yeah, we add them in smoothies. We put them in popsicles as basis, you can even cook an oatmeal in an infused water. So there's so many different ways to integrate it in and just letting your children become accustomed to these different tastes.
So making them legitimate ice teas, where you're making a beautiful infusion and maybe there's some lemon balm in it and different herbs, you can grow in your garden, which makes it even more fun. So your child can [inaudible 00:28:58] herbs, make the tea, drop the ice cubes in, and that becomes a refreshing drink they can make themselves from a pretty young age, is a really nice way to introduce that.
Josh Gitalis: Really just with the little ones, we have to remember they're just little adults, right? They have all the same body parts. They have all of the same systems, all the same enzymes. So typically we just have to reduce the dosage based on their body weight and go a little bit slower with them. The cool thing about working with kids, they're so responsive to all types of remedies, even the ones that are a little bit more mild for adults like essential oils. If your kid is a little agitated, get some lavender in the diffuser or put a little lavender on their pillow before they go to sleep and they tend to respond really well to things that may not even be internal.
The other thing that we have to think about with kids mostly is the delivery system. So if we're trying to get the herbs in them, internally, we often have to be a little bit creative. You mentioned popsicles, which is a really great way. We always have an elderberry syrup on hand, if we ever think our son is coming down with something. It's delicious, it's easy to get in and it's a fantastic antiviral and antibacterial, elderberry. We also have vitamin C, which is in a form called Liposomal vitamin C, which is quite sweet, because it's in a glycerin liquid. So it makes it quite palatable there as well. Vitamin C again, is an amazing immune booster and helps to fight off various illnesses.
Meghan Telpner: If you're making your child any kind of jello or homemade gummies, you can also use an infused water in those things. So anything you're making for them that has water in it, you can layer it up by adding some herbal infusion to it.
Andrea Wien: Those are such good tips. And I've said this to you both before, but I need you both to write a toddler cookbook where we're talking about some of these tips and giving some good recipes because toddlers are tough, man. That's a whole new ball game.
Meghan Telpner: It is tough and our son now is a three and three quarters. The full expression of the three-year-old pose and every day is a different experience and a different adventure. We find it so funny because we drink these herbal elixirs every morning and I don't put any type of sweetener in it and they're fairly bitter and he will down it. He loves it and I'm like, okay, go for it.
Andrea Wien: My son is the same way. Yep.
Josh Gitalis: Yeah. He also eats the mulch out of the juicer as producing stuff.
Andrea Wien: Well, my son's just eating the mulch outside, that's where we're at. Oh my God.
Meghan Telpner: It's good for the digestive system.
Andrea Wien: Yeah, exactly. Oh my gosh. My friend next door, actually we were outside, it was a nice day. We're here in Cleveland, so we're dealing with the long winter. But we were outside and I was just letting him play in the flower bed a little bit. I turned away for a second and turned back and he was just holding a piece of dog poop. I was like, "Oh my God, no." My friend's like, "Aren't you the micro-biome queen?" I was like, "We draw the line somewhere." The dog poop, I think we need to go wash his hands.
Not that anyone is doing much traveling now, but let's say that both of you were on an Island somewhere and you could only take two herbs with you. I have an idea of what one of Meghan's might be, but-
Meghan Telpner: Well, if I have to get on a boat to get to that Island, I would have an IV of ginger.
Andrea Wien: That's true. Let's just say you're on an Island for a year, what are the two herbs that you're each taking with you that you couldn't live without?
Meghan Telpner: I think I would take ginger for sure. I don't know, I think maybe like a Reishi or a chaga for immune modulation, for nervous system health and it sort of those are both those tonifying herbs. So I would take either one of those
Josh Gitalis: Well, hopefully I'd be with Meghan, so we'd have ginger and reishi covered, but I would also bring like an American ginseng. I love ginseng, yeah, it gives me energy. If I was on an Island, I'd need a lot of energy to go find some food and build a shelter.
Meghan Telpner: And to go hunt for ginseng [crosstalk 00:33:19]
Andrea Wien: You guys are getting it airlifted in. You don't have to worry about where the herbs are coming from.
Josh Gitalis: So yeah, American ginseng is great. I think the other one would be goldenseal because it's so versatile. It's an incredible anti-microbial. And again, if I was on an Island, the water might not be the best all the time. So to create an anti-microbial there, you could use it as an eyewash. You can use it as an anti-microbial topical on your skin, goldenseal also have certain components in them that really help with blood sugar control. If I can't have food all the time, I need good blood sugar control. So it's another one that has so many amazing benefits.
Andrea Wien: That's perfect. Okay, so now on the Island, you guys are getting it airdropped in, it's obviously of the highest quality. But when people are starting to think about how to source their herbs, what are some things that they need to be looking out for?
Meghan Telpner: Well, the first thing I would recommend is to grow what you can. So even if you're in an apartment, find the sunniest window and start growing some cilantro, some basil, some mint, some lemon balm, those are all really easy to grow, or whatever herbs you love the most. So I would start with what you're able to grow in the space that you have, because that is the best on all levels. The next thing we look for is how they are harvested. We always want to make sure that they're coming from clean and sustainable sources and optimally sources that are close to where we live whenever possible.
Josh Gitalis: Yeah. So, one of the best forms of herbs is what's called wild crafted. It's exactly what it sounds like. It's just finding the herbs in nature. Now, as Meghan said, you want to definitely make sure it's sustainable because there are a list of herbs that are endangered and you can get that from United Plant Savers. They publish that. So you want to be careful there. But a wild herb has the strength and ability to survive in the wild with all the stresses that are there. So even if an herb's organic, which is the next best thing, a wild version of it is going to have a lot more potency.
We see this with, specifically ginseng. Like I was talking about before, a wild ginseng root can sometimes sell for thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars. In fact, there's ginseng dealers in the US that get ginseng roots from farmers and they sell them to places like China, where there are a lot more revered and a lot more expensive there. They rate each ginseng root and the wild ones have a much higher rating. Next is, you can get organic herbs. They're not going to be as strong as the wild ones, but they're still a really great option. In certain situations, they're the best option out there. But yeah, you want to make sure they're either organic or wild crafted.
Ginseng because it's actually a huge industry and I'm not going to get into this discussion, but there's a lot of extremely low quality ginseng out there that you don't even want to touch.
Meghan Telpner: I think there's a lot of low quality everything out there that you don't want to attach. And just like we don't want to eat food that's covered in chemicals, we don't want to eat herbs in any form or spices or anything we're using, if optimal health is our goal, we have to keep the chemicals out. So ensuring that the herbs and spices you're using, the therapeutics you're using are not from non sprayed sources.
Andrea Wien: Yeah, that's helpful. I think it's the same when we think about supplements and the supplements that you can get at a drugstore or at Costco, or some of these big box stores versus something that you're getting from a practitioner who is working with companies that have vetted these things and checked for heavy metals and make sure that they're formulated in the way that they're intended to be. So it's just being a discerning consumer.
Meghan Telpner: Yes.
Andrea Wien: So you guys put a course together, which I love that you really go into all of this. Because I think when you're starting with this whole world of herbs, it can be really overwhelming to think like, okay, great. I know how to make a ginger tea and like, maybe I'll try that thing that Josh said with the goldenseal, but it's a lot, right? People spend their whole lives learning how to be herbalists and learning how to make these things and create synergistic compounds and things like that. So talk a little bit about your course and what you've distilled down for lack of a better pun into this course.
Yeah. So we wanted to invite people to start using these herbs in everyday use. Like you said, you can spend a lifetime and learn just a fraction of what there is to know about herbal remedies and herbal medicine. We don't claim to be that level of expert, however, we do know how to use 15 to 40 herbs on a daily basis in really simple applications. So with the course, what we wanted to do was to empower people to start using stuff today to learn in a way that is just really approachable and really practical.
Meghan Telpner: So we've broken the course app by common ailments. So like sleep, anxiety, immune health, that kind of thing, and then looked at four to five herbs that are sort of super strong in each one of those categories. In some cases the same herbs might show up in multiple categories. So looking at these common ailments, a few herbs that are really powerful in supporting, resolving, preventing those ailments and then simple ways to use them. So we teach, I think it's roughly 10 internal applications, maybe eight external applications. We go through between 30 and 40 herbs in the course, but at the end of it, it's all so practical and how you can start to make and apply it in safe ways into everyday cooking and eating and consuming.
We make a cider vinegar infused shrub where we're taking herbs and berries and making this delicious fermented shrub that you can sip on like you would a cocktail or mix into other types of drinks. So we're looking at how we make this really, really practical and approachable. We deliver the course over, I think it's seven modules, each one focusing on a different system of the body with recipes that go with each one. So not just how to make the application, but how to then use it in culinary uses, how to use it in say a salad dressing so that it really becomes part of everyday eating and most importantly, is an effortless addition to what you're already doing in the kitchen.
Andrea Wien: I think that this is really a good time too, for people to start thinking about this. As we start coming into spring and people planting gardens outside. You mentioned that being able to plant some of these things in your own backyard is a great way to start incorporating them on a daily basis. So this course is going to be open for a rolling enrollment you said throughout the year, but you guys, will you have additional resources? If people have questions, is there anything else that they can find you online or ask some questions through that way?
Meghan Telpner: Absolutely. So the course is offered through our school, the Academy of Culinary Nutrition, the course is @culinarynutrition.com/herbal. Of course you can email our team. There's loads of information about the course, a great preview video, a full outline, but you can always reach out to our team and they'll get back to you very quickly, because they're awesome with any questions. To make sure that it is the right next step for everyone's learning.
Andrea Wien: That's great. I mean, I can wholeheartedly, I've taken both of your courses now and I can just say you are both such excellent teachers. So being able to combine your knowledge together and on a topic that's so interesting and in-depth as herbs I think is so cool. So I hope everyone checks it out. I will certainly link to the course and everything we talked about today. Maybe if we could provide maybe one recipe on something like a shrub for people, they could check that out there and it will be at biohmhealth.com/pages/podcast.
I just thank you guys so much. Thank you for everything that you do. Also, I saw your initiative for vitamin D and COVID and getting the word out about alternatives to bolstering our health that maybe aren't being talked about at all in mainstream medicine and mainstream media. So I just really appreciate everything you guys do and the courses you've put together are so thoughtful. So thank you so much.
Meghan Telpner: Thank you so much. And thank you for allowing us to talk to your audience and for everything you're doing in getting this information out there.
Andrea Wien: All right. Thank you guys so much. We'll talk to you soon. Bye.
Meghan Telpner: Bye.
Andrea Wien: You've just listened to the microbiome report powered by BIOHM Health. BIOHM health is a leader in gut health, gut testing, probiotics, prebiotics that focus on not only the bacteria in our gut, but also the fungi. Again, show notes are at biohmhealth.com/pages/podcast. And until next time, I'm Andrea Wien.
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