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Ep 5: Fantastic Herbs and How to Use Them

Hosted by: MegaFood | Podcast



Ep 5: Fantastic Herbs and How to Use Them

runtime: 38:51


Ep 5: Fantastic Herbs and How to Use Them

Herbs are one of the easiest and most successful edibles to grow - But, when your windowsill or patio is brimming with basil, and the mint is multiplying,  what do you do? Abigail and Killeen are here to talk actionable items with Herbs!


Announcer: [00:00] The statements in this podcast have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
[00:08] Welcome to episode five of "That Supplement Show." In our last episode, Killeen and Abigail uncovered a reoccurring theme within their conversations, mindfulness.
[00:17] As they explored their relationships with food, the notion of mindfulness came up again and again. Today, they're building on that same theme by discussing a topic they clearly love, herbs. I had no idea two people could get so fired up over basil and lemon balm, but as you'll see, it happens.
[00:33] Between infusions, tinctures, and glycerites, this herbal stuff sounds pretty cool. I'm ready to clear off my windowsill and see what I can grow, and after you listen, we should swap notes.
Killeen: [00:42] Hi, Abigail.
Abigail: [00:43] Hey, Killeen. Before we get started, tell me what's in your mason jar? It looks delicious.
Killeen: [00:48] I've got some mint in here. I see some lemon verbena. There's some lemon thyme, a couple of Johnny jump up petals. I think that's it. A friend of mine calls it pond water.
Abigail: [01:05] That's too funny. It looks refreshing, though. It sounds refreshing.
Killeen: [01:10] We like to call it fairy water at our house. [laughs]
Abigail: [01:10] That's much better than pond water. [laughs]
Killeen: [01:12] Yeah, but basically, I've got a lot of herbs growing in my yard, so the ones that are edible and fragrant, I pop them in the water, and it makes it more fun to drink.
Abigail: [01:20] A little more cheerful.
Killeen: [01:21] Yeah, for sure. This is actually a perfect segue into what we're going to talk about today. If you remember in our last episode, we were discussing our relationship with food. We've barely touched the tip of the iceberg on that one, but we were both relating to the notion of when we know more about our food source, our relationship with it becomes more mindful and more intimate.
[01:43] I think that it's nearly impossible not to feel an intimate relationship with food when you grow it yourself, and here in my glass, my herbs, they're very easy to grow. Drinking my water, I immediately feel more connected to it.
Abigail: [01:56] Yeah, it's a simple way to increase that mindfulness, that way we approach food. When we grow it ourselves, it changes. It makes it more special, I think.
Killeen: [02:05] Even those who don't identify as having a green thumb can grow a decent herb garden. When you're trying to grow a plant that bears fruit, it can be a little more challenging, but these leafy greens, they just need a little bit of sun and a little bit of water and a little bit of attention. Really, anybody can grow herbs.
Abigail: [02:23] Even if you don't have a big outdoor space to grow them, even if you're like me, in a tiny, little apartment downtown, you can still grow herbs at home in little containers. That makes them so versatile and easy to use.
Killeen: [02:34] I think herbs are often the gateway into growing food for people, and especially for that reason alone, having limited space to grow.
Abigail: [02:43] I remember when we had a yard, [laughs] and I could do some outdoor herbs. I was overwhelmed in the middle of summer with the sheer volume of herbs I had. I remember every spring, getting really, really inspired and excited about all the things I was going to do with them throughout the summer, and how I was going to save them for the winter and dry them.
[02:59] There were so many, so I would bring in basketfuls of herbs to everybody at work, because I didn't know what to do with them.
Killeen: [03:06] I feel like you're describing my life right now. My lavender has exploded.
Abigail: [03:11] Lucky you. [laughs]
Killeen: [03:11] The mint is everywhere, it's out of control. I do have so many herbs that I don't know what to do with them. It sounds like today, we can maybe offer some tips for incorporating herbs into our culinary adventures.
[03:27] Also, when we have that abundance, what are some simple and easy things that we can do so they don't become ornamentals or feed the pollinators which is great, we should have herbs for that reason alone but they're right there. Let's do something with them.
Abigail: [03:44] Absolutely, and this is something that's near and dear to my heart, because I'm an herbalist.
Killeen: [03:47] That's right.
Abigail: [03:48] Working with herbs is second nature for me now, but that definitely wasn't always the case. Like I mentioned earlier, I plant herbs in that small container, and they get away from me, even though it was such a small, compact area of plants.
[04:00] I want to talk about some tips and ideas, culinary and medicinal, because, like you have in the water that's delicious, but there's a lot of medicinal value in herbs, too. I think we can talk about ways to incorporate both.
Killeen: [04:14] Sounds really good. Let's dig in.
Abigail: [04:16] Did you just make a pun?
Killeen: [04:18] I did. No regrets.
Abigail: [04:20] You shouldn't. It was very apt, and I think that's actually a good place to start, talking about digging in the dirt. I did some online research, very savvy Googling, [laughs] and I found that over 40 percent of the population here in the US currently rents rather than owns a home.
[04:34] Like I said, I fall into that category now, but even though I don't have that suitable yard or the growing space, that doesn't have to limit us. I think we could start by talking about some container garden ideas, because that person in their apartment may not even know where to start. They may not even have the herbs.
Killeen: [04:48] When Pinterest was born, I think everybody's brains completely exploded with the realization that you can make things out of anything, and with containers, that is no exception. If something can hold water, it can hold soil. If it can hold water and soil, you can grow an herb in it.
Abigail: [05:09] Absolutely. It can be something bigger, like going to a yard sale. This was an amazing find.
[05:14] It was actually when we bought our first home, the old owner had left giant horse troughs, and he came by one day, and he's like, "I'm gonna bring them to the dump." Instead, I said, "Can you, can I keep them?" They turned into my container gardens for four years.
Killeen: [05:25] That's perfect.
Abigail: [05:26] I was able to upcycle something and give it a new life, which was great. There's these really great companies that package their things in these either reusable containers that you can make your own garden at home once you're done using the good.
Killeen: [05:38] There's no limit. We did actually put together a little Pinterest board for this particular episode of That Supplement Show, so if you jump into the show notes, you'll see some of our favorite picks for container gardening, but like I said, you can use anything.
[05:54] One of my favorites is using mason jars, because the mason jar's so versatile. I'm drinking out of one right now, they become centerpieces, and they can become containers for herbs.
[06:04] One of my favorite things that I've seen is the simple idea of mounting an old piece of barn board onto the wall, and then they make these little clamps that you can use.
[06:14] [sound effect]
Announcer: [06:14] Specifically, Killeen is referring to a pipe clamp.
[06:18] [sound effect]
Killeen: [06:18] Just Google it or Pinterest it, and you'll find these simple pieces of metal that adjust, so you can tighten one around a mason jar. There's a little hole, so you can screw it right into that board.
[06:31] You keep your wall nice, but you can put all kinds of different sized jars, and make the herbs grow every which way and put it near a window, so cute. Now, have I done this? No, I've just used the old fashioned windowsill and my garden, because I do have a fair amount of space, but there is no limit.
[06:51] If you jump into the show notes, you'll see a link to our Pinterest board where you can get some of our favorite ideas for container gardening.
[06:58] Since today's show isn't about planting, let's dig more into...
[07:04] There's that pun again.
[07:06] [laughter]
Killeen: [07:06] Let's dig more into what we can do with herbs, because, as we've said, easy to grow, not so easy to always come up with ideas. I even have tons of ideas, but it's about executing them and making them simple.
[07:19] Where do we start? Let's start with this water glass. Throw them into your water. If it's edible, mix and match. Play around with it. See what you like for a flavor. I found that I like rosemary and rose petals. I know that sounds weird, and maybe I put it together simply because of the word rose, but it looks cool and it tastes great.
Abigail: [07:40] I'm excited. This is the fun part. This is what I love to do, play with the herbs. Lots of easy, stress free ways to bring the joy of plants into your life.
Killeen: [07:48] Cool. Let's have a quick word of our sponsor before we get going on that.
Abigail: [07:51] Sounds good.
[07:52] [background music]
Announcer: [07:52] Today's episode is brought to you by MegaFood's Skin, Nails & Hair. Promoting a healthy glow and radiant beauty from within. Formulated, mineral rich herbs and food state nutrients, Skin, Nails & Hair is designed to strengthen and nourish hair and nails.
[08:04] It contains hormone balancing, purifying herbs like organic nettle, ashwagandha, red clover blossom, chamomile, and many more. Learn more about MegaFood's Skin, Nails & Hair in today's show notes. Just visit and look for episode five.
[08:18] [sound effect]
Abigail: [08:18] Lots of different things that we can do with herbs once we harvest them. You talked about the fairy water, or some people refer to it as a sun tea, where you can actually put it in a windowsill and let it steep or brew that way, but with the fresh herb.
Killeen: [08:31] When you do a sun tea, is it just the herbs and the water, and it sits in the windowsill, or are you actually adding something else, too?
Abigail: [08:38] When I do it, I'm just putting in fresh herbs and cool water and letting it sit in the windowsill for about a day until it looks ready to me. Sometimes, not in the windowsill, I can set it on the counter overnight before I pop it in the fridge.
Killeen: [08:51] Do you have some favorites, combination wise?
Abigail: [08:53] Absolutely. I cannot stop with lemon balm. Every summer, it's the first herb that I'm looking for. Dried lemon balm is great, medicinally. I love it, but there's nothing that beats the refreshment and the amazing, joyful taste of lemon balm. It is so uplifting, even smelling it makes me smile from ear to ear.
Killeen: [09:10] That's the one that looks similar to mint, right?
Abigail: [09:13] It is a member of the mint family.
Killeen: [09:14] That's right, OK.
Abigail: [09:15] Mint is always...
[09:16] A dead giveaway is looking at its stems. They actually have square stems. Every member of the mint family catnip, true peppermint, spearmint, lemon balm all have those cute, little, square stems.
Killeen: [09:26] Cool, I didn't know that.
Abigail: [09:27] In addition to those awesome waters and teas, there's lots of fun things you can do, like creating gifts with them. A simple thing to do especially for co workers with fresh herbs is you can make a little bouquet of them, especially if you do ones that I think of as poultry seasoning or something hearty with rosemary for a stew.
[09:46] You can do these great bundles, and depending the time of year, especially heading into fall, where you make those hearty stews with squashes, wrapping a little bundle of sage and rosemary and thyme in a little bit of yarn, I guess.
Killeen: [10:00] Like a piece of twine, maybe.
Abigail: [10:01] Piece of twine, perfect. Using that, popping it into soups and stews to allow their flavor to integrate into the food, but then you actually can pluck it out since it's one little bundle at the end, and you don't have to worry about any woody stems or leaves in your food.
[10:15] Great to do at home for yourself, but when you have that overabundance, it's a really beautiful, elegant way to gift somebody some herbs.
Killeen: [10:23] Yeah, I agree, and I like putting together basil and oregano and thyme. It's super classic, but great for tomato sauce, even if somebody's just opening a jar of tomato sauce and they throw that in there. Presto!
Abigail: [10:35] Some other things you can do with those culinary herbs is infuse them into oils or vinegars. That's another great thing to use every day in your own kitchen, but again, as a gift. Especially going into holiday season, it's another great one.
Killeen: [10:48] Let's say you didn't think that far ahead. Something that you can do on the fly, and something that is our absolute favorite thing to do at home when it's just my husband and I having a dinner. Maybe we've put the kids to bed, and we're trying to be a little bit romantic. We'll light the candles, and we'll do dipping oil, just fresh herbs thrown onto a plate, sprinkled with a little fresh cracked pepper and some sea salt, and dip in our bread. So good.
[11:13] If we're feeling feisty, a little hot pepper flakes in there too, some fresh minced garlic. I'm getting hungry right now.
Abigail: [11:22] I bet. Can't stop talking about that. [laughs] I'm starving now.
Killeen: [11:25] There is no better way to enjoy bread than that.
Abigail: [11:26] I agree.
Killeen: [11:27] That's some basic stuff. I think that this isn't going to be anything crazy new to people, but at the same time, maybe you've just forgotten. Use those herbs up by doing these simple things.
[11:39] Let's get a little more complex now.
Abigail: [11:42] In a similar vein to the oils and vinegars, I do want to mention honeys, too. Herbal infused honeys are one of my hands down favorite things to do.
Killeen: [11:50] I've never done that before. Is it as simple as sticking the herbs into honey and waiting, or what?
Abigail: [11:55] It really is. You can speed up the process if you put it in a slow cooker, in the jar, in some water to warm it, but I just let it sit for a few weeks and agitate it when I can.
[12:05] You can do bee balm, is an amazing one that I love to do for cuts and scrapes. We love to do sage, because it can be very soothing to a sore throat, to have that for cold season. Thyme is very supportive for the lungs, so another really good one to stir into teas during the winter months.
[12:22] Raw honey, though, got to go with the raw honey. [laughs]
Killeen: [12:24] Raw honey, for sure. If there's a farmers' market anywhere near you, generally there is somebody there touting their honey. So good.
[12:34] There's plenty of different types of herbal preparations. I would love to get some solid definitions on those.
Abigail: [12:41] Yeah, I think it's important, especially if you're new to herbs.
Killeen: [12:44] For sure.
Abigail: [12:44] Maybe we'll define some of those terms. I think we should start with a really simple one. This is really how we see a lot of medicinal herbal preparations, the primary way, and that's tinctures.
[12:56] Cue quiz music.
[12:57] [background music]
Abigail: [12:57] Killeen, what is a tincture?
Killeen: [13:02] My Uncle Al used to provide the entire extended family with an echinacea tincture using vodka, so I'm pretty sure that a tincture means infusing herbs into alcohol.
Abigail: [13:20] Exactly. A tincture is any herbal preparation that's been suspended in alcohol, basically.
[13:25] There's a lot of different ways you can make a tincture. One of my favorites is the homespun way to do it, where you're going to take your dried herbs, cover them with a high alcohol content grain alcohol, like a vodka, like your Uncle Al used to do, and then you're going to let it sit for, like, four weeks.
[13:41] You might agitate it every single day, but then you'll strain it out, and you've got your tincture.
Killeen: [13:45] Even that seems really easy.
Abigail: [13:46] Really easy. If you want to get deep into it, you can find more complex recipes, where there's lots of weighing and measuring going. For the basic, at home hobby herbalist, the tried and true homespun way is the way to go.
Killeen: [13:59] So cool. OK, what's next?
Abigail: [14:02] What about bitters? Bitters are a really fun gift we can make. What are they?
Killeen: [14:07] I have actually made cocktail bitters for my husband as a gift at Christmas time. I'm going to add the recipe in the show notes because it was incredible.
Abigail: [14:15] Oh, good.
Killeen: [14:15] It contained some of the most obscure ingredients I'd ever come across. Not to digress too much, but thanks to online shopping, I found everything that I needed at this particular online marketplace called Mountain Mouse Herbs, also in the show notes.
[14:30] Here's the thing. I'm not really sure what the difference is, preparation wise, between tinctures and bitters. Is there one? I've only taken Uncle Al's echinacea, but the process seems pretty similar. Is it just what's going into the tincture?
Abigail: [14:45] Yeah, when we tend to think of medicinal bitters, something you're using for health, there's cocktail bitters for flavor, and they're going to have a digestive component.
[14:53] If we're focusing on digestive bitters, which is often what you could find in the store, we're going to use herbs that are very supportive to the digestion. They're going to help stoke that digestive fire, and that's why often people are going to take that right before a meal.
[15:07] A bitter is really just a tincture.
Killeen: [15:09] Got it. Now I know why I was confused, because they really are the same thing. It just depends what herbs you're putting in there. What are some examples of bitters?
Abigail: [15:18] Some really great bitter herbs that most people can get their hands on pretty easily are things like dandelion roots, burdock roots.
[15:25] I don't necessarily recommend going in your backyard and scooping up your dandelion, especially if you live near a roadway. Those are things that I like to be considering when I'm harvesting herbs, but dandelion root is really incredible, and it's something that you can make a really flavorful, delicious tea with.
Killeen: [15:40] Good to know.
Abigail: [15:42] One more that's really fun to make, and especially if you have children, so this may be of interest to you, is glycerites. You hear them referred to as glycerins, glycerites. All the same thing. Any ideas?
Killeen: [15:54] I know this. It is an alcohol free version of a tincture.
Abigail: [15:58] Yes.
Killeen: [15:59] I know this because my friend Elizabeth introduced me to rose petal glycerin served over vanilla ice cream.
Abigail: [16:07] Oh, my goodness.
Killeen: [16:07] Wow, you have to love roses. She even said, "You either are going to love this, or you will hate this." I was in the "I love" camp.
[16:17] That blew my mind, how easy it was to make. This vegetable glycerin can be used for so many things. I was confused. I'm like, "OK, so I can eat it, I can make soap out of it. I mean, what can't you do with glycerin?" [laughs]
Abigail: [16:33] It's pretty amazing. Because you've had it on ice cream, you know very well that lovely, beautiful, sweet taste.
[16:39] When I make a glycerite, to me, that's just as much a part of the medicine as the actual herb. We talked a lot about mindfulness, and we've been talking about the emotion you can get from food and the sweetness of, like, a rose. That's my favorite glycerite as well. That sweetness that the glycerin brings makes it a really lovely, relaxing experience when you take a glycerite.
Killeen: [16:59] I think you and I talked long ago about making a lavender glycerite. I can't remember, had you done it before, or was I just dreaming about it?
Abigail: [17:08] I have. Because of what I said, I have this very emotional response to glycerins. I love that sweetness. I try to do it with herbs that I think match that, so nice, calming botanicals. I love glycerites as a before bed way to take herbs, so doing it with something like lavender.
[17:27] Lemon balm's another great one, because in addition to being so delicious and flavorful, lemon balm's very soothing and relaxing. That makes a really lovely glycerite. Lavender's really fun too, but rose is still my favorite.
[17:37] Harvesting those fresh rose petals, don't even have to let them dry with a glycerite. Here's the really important piece, and we'll make sure to put this in the show notes so it's really clear.
[17:46] You want to dilute it with water, but you never want to do more than 30 percent water. That glycerin's going to make it keep for a very long time, but diluting with more than 30 percent water can cause it to mold. Really important that you do at least 70 percent glycerin.
[18:00] I actually have some in my, we call it my hippie cabinet, [laughs] where I keep all my herbs and I have a bottle that is already blended. It's 70 percent glycerin, 30 percent water, and I keep it ready to go for when I want to make one.
Killeen: [18:11] You think that 70/30 is pretty surefire?
Abigail: [18:14] Absolutely. That's a great tip that I learned from our lovely friend Dr. Tieraona Low Dog.
Killeen: [18:18] If you were to go more like 80/20, would it be too thick?
Abigail: [18:21] It might be a bit thicker but there's not going to be any detriment to the herbs that it's just really sweet. It can be very thick. That 70/30 tends to be magic ratio. We mentioned kids. Because of that sweetness, this is a favorite way to include herbs when you're giving it to children.
[18:40] Whether you're putting drops in a smoothie, in a tea, or just under the tongue, it's a really great way for kids to take herbs and a safe way as well.
Killeen: [18:47] Yeah, even just a little spoonful. It's just happiness. So good.
[18:52] We will stick a link in the show notes to how to make a glycerites because there's all links up there. We'll find a good one we like and we'll put it in there.
[19:01] On the thread of sweetness, I'd love to share a clip from one of our friends, MegaBlogger, Christina Anthis of The Hippy Homemaker. She is an herbalist herself and has all kinds of cool recipes and different do it yourself soaps, and deodorant, and you name it. Loves to use herbs in all these different types of things.
[19:21] One of her favorite recipes that she's going to talk about here is her Flowerchild Refreshment Tea, which she compares to that of Kool Aid but healthy style. Let's just hear a little bit from Christina about what she puts into this Flowerchild Refreshment Tea.
[19:36] [sound effect]
Christina Anthis: [19:36] A lot of kids love things like Kool Aid, sugary beverages, and whatnot. You can find on my website a recipe for a tea called Flowerchild Refreshment Tea.
[19:48] It's made with herbs like hibiscus, and rose hips, and orange peel, and lemon peel, and then I add lemon juice and sweeten it with a little bit of raw honey. It tastes like a fruit punch Kool Aid when I'm done. I make it for people all the time, adults and children alike.
[20:02] [sound effect]
Killeen: [20:03] If you'd like that recipe, again, visit our show notes. Just a reminder, that would be and then look for episode five.
Abigail: [20:12] I can't wait to make. It sounds delicious.
Killeen: [20:14] I know. I've been wanting to for a long time.
Abigail: [20:16] There's one other really simple thing I wanted to touch on before we wrapped up today. Another great way to use some of those herbs especially since you have an overabundance of lavender right now, you said. Lavender's such a beautiful botanical. It smells incredible. So relaxing.
[20:30] I love to use another really basic thing everyone probably has in their cupboards, and that's rice. I can blend some dried lavender buds in with that rice and put it in, if I'm savvy, it can sow, then I can make a little pouch or an old like maybe not an old maybe a new, [laughs] clean tube sock.
[20:47] You can even put those things in there and tie it off at the end and use it in the microwave to create a nice warm pack, that's going to have a great aroma therapy to it.
Killeen: [20:55] Somebody turned me on to the idea instead of using rice, using feed corn. I don't know if it keeps longer, I don't know what the case is, but the feed corn just gives it this nice texture to it. Now, it can't be popping corn because you can imagine what would happen if you stuck that in the microwave but feed corn.
[21:13] [laughter]
Killeen: [21:13] I have a whole huge bag of it and I have made not only a heat pack but I've even just made them like bean bags. They're scented, fragrant, sew up five or six and give them to the kids and they can throw them around. It's not going to damage anything, and they smell good.
Abigail: [21:29] It almost could be like a stress ball for the adults during the day, right?
Killeen: [21:33] Exactly. They do work as well as heat and cold packs.
Abigail: [21:37] That's awesome.
Killeen: [21:38] Really easy. You know what we have not done yet today?
Abigail: [21:42] What's that?
Killeen: [21:43] We have not called the doctor.
Abigail: [21:45] Oh, yeah. You were right. She is such a big herb fan. Maybe more so than me, [laughs] if that's possible. I think she's going to have a lot of really great information to share with our listeners.
Killeen: [21:56] Something we haven't really touched on today is supplements. I'd love to ask her what about herb based or herb inclusive supplements for daily support. I just think that she's the right go to for that.
Abigail: [22:06] Perfect. Let's give her a call.
Killeen: [22:09] OK.
[22:09] [phone rings]
Dr. Erin Stokes: [22:12] Hello. Hi, this is Dr. Erin Stokes.
Abigail: [22:15] Hi, Erin. It's Abigail and Killeen here. How are you?
Dr. Erin: [22:18] Hi Abi and Killeen. I'm doing well, thank you. How are you?
Abigail: [22:21] We're doing great. We're actually sitting down and having a lot of fun talking about a topic we thought that you'd have a lot to contribute to, and that's herbs.
Dr. Erin: [22:29] I love talking about plants.
Abigail: [22:31] We thought you might. We wanted to give you a call today and talk specifically about herbs and supplementation.
[22:38] We've been talking a lot about fun ways to create gifts with them and that overabundance you may have in your garden this time of year, but also wanted to focus on the ways that they can really impact and benefit our health and thought, "Who better to chat to than our doctor?"
Dr. Erin: [22:51] Thanks for thinking of me. I love my herb garden. I just was having some peppermint out of my garden. Also, I think it's crossing that bridge of, how do we use these incredible plants as supplements?
[23:07] We know that people in different cultures all over the world have been utilizing plants in their everyday lives and using them as botanical medicines.
[23:19] When we look at a plant like turmeric, for example, which has gained incredible popularity right here in our country, it really comes to us from the other side of the world over in subtropical Asia, particularly in India where people have been using this plant for thousands of years.
Abigail: [23:38] Yeah, absolutely. It's something that we can't grow here, right?
Dr. Erin: [23:41] No, we can't. Interestingly about MegaFood, we love to talk about other farm partners. You can grow turmeric in the United States, particularly one state that is uniquely suited for growing turmeric, and that's Hawaii.
[24:00] We're really happy that our turmeric comes from Kauai Organic Farms in Hawaii. Yes, in Boulder, Colorado, here I am not growing turmeric. You're not going to find turmeric amongst my mint, and lemon balm, and sage, and all of my other plants just because it really needs that tropical moist climate.
[24:22] This root, if you open it I know you've seen it, Abi but people that are listening, haven't used turmeric before, it's a cousin of ginger. They're both in the same family, Zingiberaceae family. If you crack open that root, it's going to be a beautiful bright orange color. That orange comes from curcuminoids that are in the plant.
[24:43] Lots of people are very interested in using turmeric, golden milk has become really popular. I know I add turmeric to my brown rice when I make it, and yet people are often looking to take it to the next level. How can they incorporate turmeric into their daily routine and get more, and actually have a higher potency?
[25:06] That's where we really see the value of supplements when you're wanting to take an herb on a consistent basis and take it in a way that you're going to be able to utilize some of the benefits.
[25:20] Turmeric, you can use it in powdered form like our nutrient booster powders. I also really like turmeric tablets. People are really curious about that plant, in particular how to take it. There are multiple ways to do that. Doing so allows you to get a consistent potency and to really reap some of the benefits.
Abigail: [25:41] Supplement, it sounds like with herbs particularly are a great way to get meaningful doses especially if it's something you're not able to grow around home. You can just go to your natural products retailer and pick it up off the shelf?
Dr. Erin: [25:54] You sure can. I think it also takes a little pressure off. Just going back to turmeric for a moment, people are finding all kinds of creative ways to incorporate it but you may not be doing that every single day.
[26:06] Like you said, this is a way to provide meaningful potencies and also consistency. I know for myself, I love to get outside and run, and hike, and bike, and swim, and do yoga. I want to take turmeric every single day, and I do. I do that in a supplement form, both the tablets and the powder.
Abigail: [26:29] What are some other fantastic botanicals that maybe some of our listeners could go look for in supplemental form?
Dr. Erin: [26:35] There are so many amazing plants out there. Where do I even begin? Well, I guess we could stop...Killeen and you have probably already touched on this. Often, you're going to look for herbs as tinctures, or powders, or tablets and capsules. Those are some of the different forms.
[26:58] Some of my favorite herbs, another one that I really love is valerian. Valerian is a plant that's been utilized like most of these plants for centuries particularly over in Europe.
[27:14] Valerian is a plant that can help promote restful sleep. It's found with a blend of other botanicals in our Dream Release formula from MegaFood, which I love because I am such a big advocate, Abi, of the importance of restful sleep.
[27:32] The importance of getting not just enough hours of sleep, which I do believe is important, going to bed early ish, [laughs] as early as you can manage, and at the consistent time, but the quality is really important.
[27:48] I'm just a huge fan of valerian. It has a really important place in modern times as so many of us are overstimulated and often on our phones and computers late at night which disturbs our melatonin production. Valerian is a great one.
Abigail: [28:08] Valerian's one of my favorites too and really goes right along with one of the ones we highlighted earlier when Killeen and I were chatting, which is lemon balm.
[28:16] As you know, that's one of my favorites especially in the summer months when I can do infusions with the fresh herb and just looking for those really calming soothing botanicals, is something a lot of us are doing. Valerian is definitely up there on the list.
Dr. Erin: [28:30] Yes. One of the great things about lemon balm is that lemon balm is so gentle. Valerian, it's generally not recommended for kids. Always want to talk with your healthcare practitioner before beginning any herbs.
[28:47] Lemon balm is one of those plants that you often see in children's blends. Lemon balm along with chamomile, they're very gentle nervines. A nervine is basically going to help soothe the nervous system. Lemon balm is in the mint family, so a lot of times you'll see it has that square stem like all of the mint family does. You can feel that square stem.
[29:12] Lemon balm is also called the gladdening herb. I remember gosh, it was almost 20 years ago. I'm aging myself now in one of my botanical medicine classes in naturopathic medical school, one of my favorite teachers talking about, "Lemon balm brings joy to the heart."
[29:32] That's a phrase that's always stood out to me. Another phrase is, "It's like being held in your mom's arms," or your parents' arms, or your grandparents' arms, depending. It's just got this really lovely quality to it of being very gentle.
[29:49] I think sometimes when we talk about some of these more gentle herbs like lemon balm, we could almost dismiss it. No. Lemon balm is one of those ones that's really gentle but also has so much potency in the sense of...I'm not talking about milligrams. I'm talking about just the potential that's in that plant.
Abigail: [30:11] I absolutely agree. I think of it as like heart medicine, like you just mentioned being wrapped in a warm hug by someone that you love. That's what I think of when I think of lemon balm. Just really good heart medicine, that joyful uplifting feeling.
Dr. Erin: [30:23] It is uplifting. It really has that uplifting quality which is nice because oftentimes people that are in need of that nervous system soothing also need a little feeling of just uplift in their lives. It's a good blend. Lemon balm is often used in teas. It's certainly a great one to be found in formulations.
[30:50] This is one of the other things that supplements bring to the table, is that we can put together a combinations of different plants together and really benefit from the synergy that can exist with those plants. I love that because these formulations are often very well informed.
[31:13] With people like us who have partnership with Dr. Tieraona Low Dog, she's a botanical medicine expert and really helps to inform our formulations so we can bring all of these herbs together in one supplement.
Abigail: [31:27] Makes it a very safe way to incorporate them as well, especially for those that don't know how to combine herbs or what maybe goes well with one another.
Dr. Erin: [31:35] Yes. Also, you bring up a good point around safety. When you are taking any kind of herbal preparation, you want to make sure that you're working with a company that has very high quality standards.
[31:50] With our ISO 9001 certified lab and the purity and potency testing to make sure there's no adulteration, test for gluten, dairy, and soy, which you would never expect to be in herbs, but you need to make sure that you're getting high quality supplements.
Abigail: [32:11] Absolutely. You never know what can happen to them. Testing is really important. That's something that when you're growing it in your backyard, you don't have to worry as much about but certainly when it comes to supplementation, you want to buy them from a trusted source.
[32:24] Thank you for that, Erin.
Dr. Erin: [32:26] It's a good point and something to think about when we're looking for any supplements. In this case, we're looking for herbal supplements which...herbs really taken on increased popularity over recent years. I love watching trends and what people are interested in.
[32:43] I'm so glad that you and Killeen talked earlier about different herbal preparations, some do it at home things that people can do with plants because I am seeing that people want to engage more with plants.
[32:57] Whether that's having their own garden and then utilizing herbs out of their garden. That engagement with plants has also led to this increasing popularity of, how can we utilize some of these herbs?
[33:11] That's why I said, "I love talking about plants," at the beginning because herbs, it's part of it. Something like turmeric really crosses the herb food continuum. It's really been used as a food as well, same as beetroot. We wouldn't think of it classically as an herb but as this plant that has these amazing properties. Sometimes, it's like, where do you draw the line?
[33:34] I do see that people are really starting to tap more into this ancient wisdom and utilizing these plants today. Ashwagandha is another one of my absolute favorites that's also an ayurvedic herb, comes to us from India.
[33:52] It's an adaptogen, which simply means that it helps the body adapt to stress. It's another one that just has this long storied history.
[34:03] You can hear all about ashwagandha, it's considered a rasayana, which in India is a highly revered herb that's used for a daily use. All of these writings in history.
[34:18] It's fun to watch clinical studies validating what these people knew all over the world about the plants that were vocal in the region. Aren't we lucky because we get to actually today use some of these different plants? [inaudible] been saying they're from all over the world.
Abigail: [34:36] I'm so glad you mentioned the traditional wisdom or use around these because that's something I often find myself thinking about. We talked about turmeric a few minutes ago and I think that's a great example.
[34:48] In our MegaFood formulations, we include black pepper extract because we know now that black pepper really helps turmeric get into the bloodstream. There are cultures around the world that have been incorporating black pepper and turmeric together for many, many years. They had this wisdom that we just have recently validated.
Dr. Erin: [35:05] I completely agree. Yes, when you look at curry powder, for example, it usually will include black pepper. It's interesting because to really potentiate that turmeric absorption as you mentioned, you want to either have black pepper or a lipid. Usually, this turmeric would be cooked with ghee or clarified butter in traditional Indian cooking.
[35:28] Yes, there's so much wisdom in the past that we can bring to the present. People generally just existed a bit closer to plants than we do today or at least than most of us do. People were outside a lot more in the past and walking amongst the plants. Sometimes I wonder, "Wow, how did they figure all this out?"
[35:53] If you look at another tradition, the Native American botanical medicine tradition is unbelievable around echinacea, and marshmallow root, and mullein, just to name a few of some of these plants that were used by people on this continent and seemed to know exactly what to use these plants for. It's really quite fascinating to me.
Abigail: [36:20] It absolutely is. As always, Dr. Stokes, thank you so much for all the wisdom you brought to our episode five of that Supplement Show. We're so happy to share your information on herbs and hope that our listeners came away with some great things and maybe they're rushing out to buy some turmeric as we speak. [laughs]
Dr. Erin: [36:36] Thank you. This is one of my favorite topics. I'm glad you called me up. We'll talk soon.
Abigail: [36:40] All right. Thanks so much, Erin. Have a wonderful day.
Killeen: [36:43] Always so good to hear from Erin. We've covered a lot of ground today. Again, I can't seem to get away from these accidental puns.
[36:51] [laughter]
Killeen: [36:52] Hopefully we've achieved our goal of taking the intimidation factor out of herbs or more so what to do with them and that we've driven home that point of just how accessible they are.
[37:01] If you're new at gardening, leafy herbs are really quite cooperative. As for use, when in doubt, go back to our original conversation about infusing your water or your tea or make a little bouquet to give out during the holidays. Even just fresh cut a bunch and put them in place of flowers. It's pretty, and cheery, and so fragrant.
Abigail: [37:18] When you walk by, you just ruffle your fingers through it to get a whip of that beautiful scent.
Killeen: [37:23] I used to work with a girl when I was in college who said that when she got married, she was going to walk down the aisle with a bouquet of basil. I guarantee that she did.
[37:32] [laughter]
Abigail: [37:34] I can totally relate to your friend. In fact, at my wedding, all of our center pieces were these beautiful herbal arrangements. They were actually living ones too, so we could take them home and use them or cook with them afterwards but all selected based on their meanings about family or love. It was really lovely. I can relate to her.
Killeen: [37:51] This has been really fun today and I hope that everyone listening has gotten a little bit of inspiration on what to do with herbs and just wants to bring herbs into their life a little bit more.
Abigail: [38:02] I think it's lovely. I could talk about it for days. I'm also really excited to hear about what we're going to be chatting about next time.
Killeen: [38:08] As lighthearted and fun as herbs were today, we're going to get a little heavier next time. We're going to be talking about iron.
Abigail: [38:16] Oh, that's a big one. It's important topic too. I hope everyone will tune back in.
Killeen: [38:19] Yeah, it's going to be a little bit more serious but definitely worth checking out.
Abigail: [38:23] We'll still do a quiz.
Killeen: [38:24] Yeah. We'll still have some fun.
[38:26] [background music]
Abigail: [38:26] All right. We'll see you then.
Killeen: [38:27] See you then.
Announcer: [38:28] This podcast is brought to you by MegaFood. Keeping it real, making vitamin and mineral supplements in New Hampshire since 1973.
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