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Fire cider is a delicious homemade herbal concoction that uses apple cider vinegar to extract the medicinal constituents from herbs. This herbal tonic is consumed during winter months to ward off cold and flu. It is also a very effective digestive tonic if taken before meals, as the apple cider vinegar and herbs stimulate the secretion of gastric juices that help break down foods. You’ll want to allow the herbs to steep in the apple cider vinegar for a minimum of 4 weeks to get the medicinal benefits but longer can be more beneficial, so make sure you make your cider in late fall. The best part of making fire cider is that you can choose which herbs you want to add and make a few different varieties. Here are some of the commonly used ingredients and their benefits:
Ginger is a tuberous rhizome, or a root that sends out multiple shoots from its nodes, used for its anti-inflammatory properties. It can be very helpful when used for upper respiratory tract infections, respiratory distress and bronchitis.
Garlic is an herb commonly used for its powerful anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. It can help prevent the common cold and can be useful when fighting the flu and helps ease fever, cough, sinus congestion, bronchitis and asthma.
Onion naturally contains the plant polyphenol quercetin which is helpful for reducing allergies and relaxing the muscles in the respiratory airways associated with asthma. Like garlic, onion is also helpful for fever, cold, cough and bronchitis.
Horseradish is a root vegetable in the brassicaceae family related to mustard and broccoli. It is very helpful in the treatment of sinusitis as well as cough, colic, bronchitis and sore throat.
Cayenne is the “fire” in my cider recipe and provides a lot of heat which improves blood flow and acts a diaphoretic, meaning it will make you sweat. In the winter it is important to eat spices and herbs that warm you and improve circulation.
Black pepper will add a bit of bite similar to cayenne but it also brings additional benefits that help with arthritis, asthma, upset stomach, bronchitis, sinusitis and rhinitis. Additionally, black pepper can increase the absorption of turmeric when taken together.
Raw apple cider vinegar has so many health benefits, that chances are you’ve heard about them by now. It is a great source of vitamin C and has often been used to increase digestion, reduce symptoms of allergies, balance blood sugar and aid in weight loss. Raw apple cider vinegar by Bragg’s is best because it contains naturally occurring enzymes and probiotics.
As you can see, fire cider is a great homemade remedy for so many ailments! Looking for a simple way to make your own fire cider? Join me at my Fire Cider Workshop on Monday, Dec. 4 at Peoples Conference Room South, and I’ll supply all the ingredients and instruction!
There are many ways to make fire cider! If you are interested in making your own fire cider and cannot attend my workshop, I suggest you start with trying renowned herbalist Rosemary Gladstar’s recipe, who is credited with being one of the original herbalists to teach the fire cider recipe.
Lauren Sanchez, ND received her Naturopathic Doctorate at the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Tempe, AZ. Her natural approach to medicine facilitates healing by respecting the mind, body and spirit connection. She also specializes in helping individuals reach optimal wellness through a plant-based regimen.
In my practice I’m often asked about anti-inflammatory diets, and while there are some fairly simple answers, as people start to research these diets on their own, they often get more confused. Sometimes they’ll even try certain elimination programs and either feel the same or worse. Why is that? The reality is that many kinds of foods can cause bloating, pain and other inflammatory issues. Many of us have heard of anti-inflammatory diets (high amounts of wild fish, green leafy veggies, etc.) but we can go much further than that to see what, if any, foods can be causing inflammation. How can we do this?
There are some great companies who test for food sensitivities. This is not the same as a true allergy, but these tests will show if you are reacting to various foods in some way. Inflammation is a major symptom, but other symptoms can include bloating, fatigue, skin rashes, and more. Affordability can be an issue, as these tests can range from a few hundred dollars to over $1,000. Therefore I’ll often have patients try a few other ideas to see if their pain and inflammation decreases after going on an anti-inflammatory diet.
Before even going on an anti-inflammatory diet, balance out your stress. While we as healthcare practitioners can’t change the amount of stress you have in your life, you can change how you react to it. Stress impedes your body from digesting your foods as well. In return, if your food isn’t fully digested as it gets into the small intestine, your body will send different immune modulators to attack it. When your food doesn’t get broken down into its basic building blocks(amino acids, glucose, etc.) the body could think it’s an invader and that’s when you might have a reaction. Getting in quality digestive enzymes is key. Even if you might not have any direct symptoms, you still might not be digesting well. There are blood tests you can take that are often covered by insurance that can reveal if you are not digesting well. You can also add herbs to help balance out your adrenal glands, such as Ashwagandha or Rhodiola from a high quality source. This is a good two-pronged approach to handling your stress and being able to digest better.
Next, we need to balance out your gut flora. I talk about digestion and stress first because if those aren’t taken care of, you can take the best probiotics, take various herbs to kill off parasites, and more, but really not make much progress. There are some great protocols that use various herbs and nutrients to basically weed, seed and feed your gut. I recommend working with a trained healthcare provider to guide you through this.
If you work on both your stress and digestion and determine that you still need to further look to see if your inflammation is being caused by certain foods, you can do something called a Coca Pulse Test. The basic premise is that if you eat foods that lower or increase your pulse rate, you could have a sensitivity to it. If you find certain foods that do this, I recommend taking out these foods for about 30 days (it takes about this long for any potential antibodies to these foods to be eliminated from the body) and then see how you feel. After 30 days, you can try adding one of the foods back in and see how you feel after 3 or 4 days. You do this because you might have a delayed reaction to this food. For more information on the Coca Pulse Test you can order the book The Pulse Test by Dr. Arthur Coca.
After taking these first three steps you will understand more about what food sensitivities you many have and if you need to do any further testing.
Growing up in Texas as an overweight child, Dr. Scott Jurica, MS, DC, PAK, ACN was often teased about his size. Through the support of his family, mentors, and love of sports, he turned his weakness into his strength by focusing his life on natural healthcare. In his offices in Austin and New York City, Dr. Jurica helps his patients become their healthiest selves, so they can live life to the fullest!
Looking at the levels of Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) and Folic Acid in your blood can help diagnose different types of anemias, investigate neuropathy, and evaluate general nutritional status. Low levels reflect the aspects of these conditions, while high levels may be significant for blood disorders (polycythemia vera or leukemia) or liver disease (cirrhosis or hepatitis). Often these conditions are ruled out and patients are merely left with the advice to discontinue all supplemental B12 and Folic Acid. However, as we learn more about methylation in the body, we have learned that a high B12 or Folic Acid blood value may actually mean a deficiency of these vitamins. Read more →
October marks the beginning of three months of holidays that all center around sugar, white flour, and alcohol, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Celebrating all things pumpkin, I have five recipes to share with you that will help you eat (and drink) in peace from now through January.
#1 Pumpkin Pancakes
Vitamin A is responsible for the maintenance of our teeth, bones, mucus membranes, skin, and eyes. Unfortunately, many people think that orange foods like tomatoes, pumpkin, carrots and sweet potatoes contain vitamin A, but they do not. They contain its precursor called beta-carotene, which the body then has to convert into vitamin A, and some people don’t make this conversation very efficiently. Young children, for instance, lack the enzymes necessary and excessive insulin in adults will block the conversion. That’s why I love this pancake recipe! Egg yolks are rich in vitamin A, and drenching the pancakes in butter will help your body convert the beta-carotene in the pumpkin into vitamin A. What a great way to start the day!
4 pastured eggs
½ cup organic canned pumpkin
2 TBS honey
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp nutmeg
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Fry in coconut oil over medium heat. Serve warm with a liberal amount of butter or ghee, a light drizzle of maple syrup, and…bacon! Or you can make little pigs in a blanket with your favorite breakfast sausage.
#2 Harvest Pie
One of my favorite remedies for constipation is soaked prunes. You place 3-4 prunes in a mug and pour boiled water over them. Let them sit for a few hours until cool. Drink the liquid and eat the prunes…or better yet, you can make this delicious, fiber-rich pie!
1 cup each: dried apricots, prunes, cranberries
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 goji berries
2 cups chopped apples and pears
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
4 TBS butter
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
Pinch of salt
1-3 teaspoons arrowroot
Cut apricots and prunes into bite size pieces in a large pot. Add all remaining fruit. Add apple juice and simmer on low for about 15 minutes. You might need to add a bit of arrowroot to thicken. Remove from heat and cool. Stir in butter, spices and salt. Pour into a nut-based piecrust (see below for crust recipe). Refrigerate. Serve with coconut whipped cream.
Combine all ingredients in food processor until blended, then press into an 8-inch pie pan:
1/2 cup raw pecans
1/2 cup pitted dates
1/4 cup shredded coconut
2 TBS butter or coconut oil
Pinch of sea salt
#3 Pumpkin and Chocolate Crumble Bars
Have you ever stopped to think why a cold is called a “cold”? Traditional Chinese Medicine teaches us that a cold is literally a cold invasion into the warm body, and. ItThey goes further to say that this “cold” typically enters the body at the back of the neck. The warming, drying spices in this recipe, like cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg, can help us ward off the cold, damp influence of winter. So go ahead snuggle up in your favorite scarf, make yourself a hot cup of tea and enjoy one of these delightful bars.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
In a large, bowl whisk together:
1/2 cup creamy almond butter
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup maple syrup
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground or freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp baking soda
Pinch of sea salt
Whisk until combined and pour into an 8×8 inch glass pan smeared with coconut oil.
For topping, combine all ingredients in your food processor until smooth:
1/2 cup pecans
1/3 cup almond flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch of sea salt
1 TBS maple syrup
1 TBS coconut oil or butter
Dark chocolate chunks
Sprinkle the topping onto the batter, followed by the dark chocolate chunks, and bake for 25 minutes or under firm to the touch.
#4 Kava Colada
Piper mythisticum, also known as kava, is an herb of relaxation. It helps to remove tension from the body and quiet the mind, and is great for social anxiety, or having to spend time with annoying family members. This beverage is a life-saver!
1 can full-fat coconut milk
1 can organic pumpkin
1 ripe banana
2 heaping cups of frozen pineapple
1-2 TBS pumpkin spice mix
1 TBS vanilla
6-8 Kava Forte tablets from MediHerb ground to a powder in a coffee grinder or crushed with a mortar and pestle
Cinnamon, for garnish
Combine all ingredients in a high-speed blender until smooth. Serve in wine glasses with a dash of cinnamon sprinkled on top.
#5 Cashew Pumpkin “Cheesecake”
I was diagnosed with asthma when I was 3 years old. Thirty years later, I found out that I never had asthma; I had a dairy allergy. Once I removed dairy from my diet, I started to breathe freely without the use of inhalers and steroids. This makes sense because Ayurvedic medicine teaches us that dairy is a mucus-producing food. I haven’t consumed milk, cheese or yogurt in 8 years and I don’t miss it a bit thanks to recipes like this one that everyone can enjoy without inducing an inflammatory cascade!
Combine all ingredients in food processor until blended, then press into an 8-inch springform pan:
1/2 cup raw pecans
1/2 cup pitted dates
1/4 cup shredded coconut
2 TBS butter or coconut oil
Pinch of sea salt
Combine all ingredients in your Vitamix until smooth. Then pour on top of crust. Freeze for 4 hours to set and then move to refrigerator:
3 1/2 cups cashews that have been soaked overnight in water (this is an important step that releases the nutrition of the cashews)
1 cup organic canned pumpkin
2/3 cup maple syrup
2/3 cup coconut oil, gently melted
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
2-3 TBS pumpkin pie spice
1-2 teaspoons of vanilla extract or crushed vanilla beans
Zest of 1 lemon (optional, for a more lemon flavor)
For Raspberry topping:
Combine all ingredients in a blender until smooth and then drizzle on your “cheesecake” upon serving:
1/2 cup raspberries
1/4 cup water
1 tsp honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp nut milk
Charlotte Kikel, MS, NC, ACN, MCPP, Nutrition Consultant & Registered Herbalist AHG, is a wife, mother, herbalist, nutritionist and self-care advocate. She received a Masters of Science in Western Herbal Medicine in 2008 and then moved on to study with one of the leading herbalists in the world. She lives in Austin, Texas, where she teaches local healthcare professionals how to utilize and apply the power of whole food supplementation and herbal medicine. You can learn more about her and her work at charlottekikel.com.
In 2013, the US Senate passed a resolution designating the second week in October (October 8-14, 2017) as Naturopathic Medicine Week to encourage Americans to learn more about this unique healthcare profession.
My own journey towards naturopathic medicine started in high school, when I discovered the impact of exercise and nutrition on my energy level and mood. I earned an undergraduate degree in chemical engineering at the University of Texas at Austin and worked as an engineer for several years after graduating. While I enjoyed the challenges and problem-solving skills that the work entailed, I discovered I was more interested in a holistically oriented career in healthcare. I knew I was interested in studying medicine but longed for a system that allowed doctors to have more time with their patients, as well as one that emphasized a healthy lifestyle as the foundation.
I began using botanical medicine and nutritional approaches for my own health concerns, and loved how effective these approaches were without accompanying side effects. Then one day I read the words ‘naturopathic doctor’ in an article one day, and knew that this was the profession I was looking for.
After researching the schools, I was impressed with the rigors of the programs but felt uncertain about returning to school for another four years. My mother lived in a state where naturopathic doctors were licensed at the time, so I suggested that she see an ND to discuss her chronic allergies. Months later, when I was still leaning towards not going back to school, I returned home for a visit to hear my mother excitedly describe how amazing she felt, and how she was able to discontinue all of her medications which she had taken for years by following a comprehensive naturopathic plan. This inspired me to complete my school applications. The following fall I attended Bastyr University in Seattle, and have been fulfilled in my career as a naturopathic doctor since graduating and moving back to Austin 10 years ago.
One of the most common questions encountered by naturopathic doctors (NDs) is “What exactly is a naturopathic doctor and how are you trained’?
Before answering this question, it’s important to point out that although naturopathic doctors are now licensed in 20 states, there are currently no licensing laws to regulate our profession in the state of Texas. Interestingly enough, Texans have historically supported the licensure of naturopathic doctors, who were licensed to practice medicine in Texas from 1949 to 1957.
Naturopathic doctors (NDs) are guided by the following principles:
Naturopathic doctors are trained at four-year, graduate level naturopathic medical schools. The curriculum includes the same basic sciences as conventional medical school (anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, pathology, histology, pharmacology, immunology, microbiology etc.), along with extensive training in botanical medicine, nutrition, hydrotherapy, physical medicine, counseling and other holistic modalities. Clinical training includes supervised shifts at teaching clinics as well as preceptorships. An increasing number of residencies are becoming available as the profession grows.
In North America there are seven naturopathic medical schools, accredited by the Council of Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME) and members of the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges (AANMC). The American Association of Naturopathic Medical Colleges (AANMC) is a great resource to learn more about accredited naturopathic medical education. In addition to 20 states, naturopathic doctors are also licensed in the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
If you would like to find a naturopathic doctor who has attended a CNME accredited school in your area, please visit the Texas Association of Naturopathic Doctors (www.txand.org). If you would like to support the advancement of the naturopathic profession, please consider joining as a supporting member or making a donation to support legislative efforts.
Amy Tyler, ND* received her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University and also holds a BS in Chemical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. She takes the time to listen closely to her clients and to educate them, empowering them to gain a deeper understanding and ownership of their health. Her individualized wellness plans, incorporating herbs, homeopathy, nutritional supplements, and nutrition and lifestyle advice, are designed to support the body’s innate healing abilities.
With young ones going back to school after a long summer vacation, it is important to get them on a good wellness routine. Quality supplements paired with good nutrition can help them stay healthy throughout the school year. From a naturopathic medicine perspective, these are my top recommendations. Be sure to talk to your pediatrician when starting your child on a new supplement or a nutritional program.
Dr. Lauren’s Guide for Kid Wellness
Looking for delicious gluten-free snacks for your youngster? We have that too! These are my top recommendations.
Lauren Sanchez, ND, received her Naturopathic Doctorate at the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Tempe, AZ. Her natural approach to medicine facilitates healing by respecting the mind, body and spirit connection. She also specializes in helping individuals reach optimal wellness through a plant-based regimen. She is excited to be an integral part of your health journey and a resource for optimal wellness for you and your family.