Dominica Collis | Ep #51 | Want to Herb up your life?



dartif integrative and preventive healthcare the content discussed in this episode is for informative purposes only and should not be replaced by individualized professional

consultations or professional medical advice hey guys i’m tasha hey listeners this is gooney and we’re here to discuss lifestyle medicine i think there are two types of cooks in this world they’re the ones that cook for taste and then they’re the ones who cook for survival what type of cook are you i’m definitely a cook for taste person because you know i live to eat so um gotta gotta keep it tasty uh throughout the process but yeah i mean like i do keep nourishment in my mind but definitely i make taste the priority what about you in my healing journey i think um with regards to my hormonal imbalance i definitely switched into seeing food as medicine so i was a bit more like you but now it really i saw ingredients and the way i cooked in in a very particular way and as i studied ayurvedic nutrition i definitely see my herbs as spices and as a health and medical benefit so like you know your ginger fennel seeds turmeric um all these things that are kind of taking the world by by surprise and everyone’s kind of incorporating this in their kitchen i mean while i say i cook for taste uh but in other respects of like life i would take a lot of action and put like preventive measures uh through using herbs and spices to help with like my own ailments because i have like pcos and so then when i have period my period grams they often get really severe and in the past i used to just pop painkillers or sleep it out so that you know the pain disappears but uh i started researching and i was like oh chamomile teas and avoiding certain types of foods as well before your period so that you can actually like reduce the inflammation so you know you start to uh change shift your mindset about how to approach nutrition and also incorporate certain types of teas and spices in your diet but i guess it also begged the question of like i don’t know how else to improve that situation because there’s so much information and i grew up with you know sri lankan malaysian food and and so we have those things already in our diet but i don’t know where else to go to like fix or fix the gaps yeah and there is also um a lot of knowledge and wealth with regards to you know each region in the world whether it gets to medicinal aspects with regards to herbs i i lack the local knowledge about herbs and understanding their benefits i understand more about you know the eastern side but what could be really interesting is to have the take on kind of the local uh and and more herbalistic point of view in this side of the world spot on i think we should have context to the different parts of the world that we we live in so that we can actually tap into what’s low in that area right just why we wanted to actually bring on someone a specialist who can actually speak to us and speak to the local area in london and uh to give context for that we have dominica collis who is a master herbalist and a nutritional therapist with us today and she’s also the owner of surrey organic and organic skincare and herbal cell phones brand and is the founder of her naturopathic practice wellness alchemy and she’s based in london in the uk so welcome dominica to daughter of the podcast thank you so much for having me thanks for for being here could you tell us what’s the difference between a spice and a herb so there is not so much difference between them however i think that the major distinction between them is that herbs generally speaking are the leafy things like basil tarragon thyme rosemary coriander spices it is what we consider as a seat of the plant that is either whole or ground so we can have of course the we have fennel seeds coriander seeds metal seeds that we can also use cumin but also what we call a spice is turmeric and turmeric is the is the root there is kind of you know fluidity i would say yeah the herb is everything that has leaves and the spices in general are the the seeds like the essence really so what would you say is the right way to frame those herbs because the european union has kind of labeled some of those herbs as either toxic and so maybe understanding what is it that it’s okay in what does because i think that that’s the real issue is that it’s in excess it’s toxic is that correct yeah it’s absolutely correct so certain herbs that are on the restricted list so let’s focus on the the uk and europe like arnica yellow jasmine they are very strong analgesic herbs so they help with dealing with pain and the dosage allows dosage is very very low between 20 to 50 mil maximum a week it is not the information that we can find easily that is mainly available for the herbalist however in the specialist shops we can find things like arnica ointment ointment that help that help with pain you said it very correctly that it all comes down to the dose in any dose if we overdose something it will it will not have a beneficial effect it can have harm us and it is true for every single plant there are certain plants that i wouldn’t be afraid which are definitely safe for use even in large quantities so this will be definitely our culinary herbs for instance could you give us some examples definitely the basil thyme turmeric fennel fenugreek and the plants that grow outside they are dandelion it’s saving any quantity and it’s amazing plant we can have everything from the roots to the flower nettle it’s very nutritious and high in iron cleavers and also milk thistle milk thistle is a lovely herb for the liver and it’s relatively safe so all these herbs most of them some i recognize and some i’m just thinking what the hell is this where do i find them my thoughts exactly so where do you usually find them i’m quite lucky because i live not far from box hill in surrey so i have that clean area where i can go out and and forage her and when we are foraging definitely not in the parks in the city just find the area outside the city where it’s clean of course away from any kind of dog walking routes etc but those helps that i they actually grow everywhere you can find them in the open fields in the meadows they literally grow easily everywhere and one of those herbs that i mentioned that not many people know about that always grows next to nettle or with nettle wrapping it around its stems it’s cleavers it’s the lovely plant that the leaves kind of form a star and what is beautiful here it actually helps the lymph moving in our body it’s the lymphatic herp very cleansing her it’s so interesting how you’re saying that all these herbs are actually in nature and it’s just that we don’t pay attention or we don’t know we’re just ignorant on it and it just brings me back to one of an anecdote with my dad where this would make my mom enraged so my dad is very much into ayurveda and knowing like these different herbs and with their medicinal um properties and so one day he found this herb in some place somewhere and don’t ask me where he got it and he came up with these branches and these leaves are just a big bag of them and my mom was like where the hell do you find these types of herbs and why are you giving me so much you know a headache because she’s thinking now i need to like cook it and and incorporate it in the way we we eat but that just goes to show if you open your eyes and you’re more aware and knowledgeable about these plants you don’t really need to go to the supermarket and go and buy those things right that’s why i always encourage my clients wherever they are to find a local foraging courses because of course it’s easy to spot nettle it’s easy to spot dandelion but there are so many different plants growing you know yarrow mag war our local equivalent of the white sage which we are actually taking away from the native tribes of the north america whereas we have our own plant that has been used for thousands of years for cleansing purposes so we have everything within our reach already and it’s just a matter of us learning maybe not learning remembering again because we had that knowledge but remembering again how to actually use those plans and be for a fully independent you know self-sufficient it’s a valid point leading us to the next point of like can we just grow them in our homes and would it be beneficial to actually do that as opposed to like getting them from somewhere else and actually also identifying those ones that are critical or that are really good regardless you know to have it it’s always good to have it in in your in your back backyard or on your balcony for london so we with certain plants it will be difficult to grow them in the pot of course it’s relatively easy with the things like rosemary thyme we can grow it easily we can grow certain flowers as well like marigold pot marigold actually marigold is herb that actually heals the digestive tract and our gut lining and they grow beautifully in the pot and look amazing as well certain plants of course like nettle like mugwort like yarrow they will be difficult to grow in the pots on the balcony because they have very strong roots so the pot will not really give them that much space unless we have a massive pots however if we have a garden then we can easily buy seeds even of ebay organic seeds for nettle for the different herbs and of course dandelion if we have garden we will definitely have some dandelions they are everywhere but if we want to have something specific like for instance yarrow which is amazing for actually for women during menstruation when the bleeding is heavy so picking up on like the most commonly experienced i wouldn’t say sickness but maybe you know when you’re somewhat out of balance usually we always have something with the digestive system you touch upon marigold what do you recommend with regards to these herbs it’s great to keep in your in your pot or in your backyard to kind of reduce bloating and improve digestion a penalty from fennel seeds and this is something that most people will have at home i often have questions oh shall i buy organic spices of course it would be ideal to have everything organic we have that obstacle that it’s not necessarily always can find everything organic or there is a limit in terms of the budget that we have planned for the month so any fennel will do it can be even fresh fennel bulb and we are doing the making the infusion uh pouring hot boiling water over it or a teaspoon of fennel seeds you know what i it just it just struck a chord in my mind and my memory because when i was a kid and i used to get like a tummy ache and i wouldn’t know how to explain it but my aunt would always make me take these fennel seeds with warm water like just the raw seeds and just kind of like a teaspoon full and then swallow that with water now and i never remembered that until you said that just now and it always worked so i guess it’s one of the home remedies that our ancestors know about yeah that’s very true and it’s so so simple that’s literally in terms of bloating it or kind of any digestive discomfort especially after heavy meal or we simply i don’t know ate too much and we start feeling sluggish kind of heavy uh you know too much of that as we would say in ayurveda kapha energy it’s kind of grounding us yeah fennel will really bring that instant relief and if i’m not mistaken in like all the indian restaurants i don’t know whether it’s fennel seeds but when you leave at the at the counter right they have like a bowl that’s right is it fennel seeds yeah that’s right right okay so it all adds up yeah so fennel ideal no-brainer for bloating if we don’t have fennel but we kind of feel there is that discomfort we had the meal and we cannot concentrate mint peppermint tea is absolutely wonderful to have right after the meal and it is something that most people will have at home why why is it that peppermint tea is is good after because i’ve heard about peppermint even like the you know essential oils because like the city calming what is it exactly that so these are the volatile oils that peppermint contains that relax our digestive system so the this is mainly down to the volatile oils oh that makes sense one word about the quality of teeth with the herbal tea one recommendation it’s good to have organic wild harvested tea that’s first of all secondly always check the best before date on the packaging because dried hairs whether in the form of tea or as a powder they ideally should be consumed within maximum 18 months from the day of harvest and unfortunately in most places like supermarkets uh the shelf life is horrendous sometimes you can see like five years so the medicinal value of herb drops okay so they put the best before they so do you know like it’s actually based on the from the day of harvesting the the herbs itself or is it from the time they manufacture it so i know that yogici their date is from the day it was harvest however i think it’s also they stretched it to two years so of course you know we still have 18 months to go that’s absolutely fine to buy but if we had only three months to go then we need to be aware that medicinal properties dropped why would it decrease its medicinal property when it’s dried i think like more on a conceptual like simplistic way you’re just like it’s dried up from the moment you dry i think everything drops the the medicinal value drops because it’s it’s not fresh anymore but if it’s dried why is it that it’s it would lose its uh punch so it is mainly the oxidation to some degree so of course this is in the packaging sometimes it is in the plastic bag so the tea is protected but there is still with over a period of time that value drops so my recommendation is always to buy it online unless you have places like museart in your area because they sell herbal deeper weight and they follow all the rules if not then herbal suppliers who are selling to general public like indigo help or baldwin’s uk because you can be sure that whatever you purchase they follow the the preparation principles you want to be able to have the best quality so that you can actually get the best value out of it for your body right yeah um in terms of like absorption rate of the herbs is there like um a way to consume the herbs that gives you the best impact on your body or is it just um however you use deemed fit so there are certain the chemical compounds that are in herbs some of them they got extracted better in water some of them are extracted better in oils for instance but the absolutely the best menstrual the solvent and at the same time a way of preserving hair for even up to five or seven years is alcohol so alcohol is able to extract everything every single compound from the plant even from resins so we often use the frankincense tincture which is the alcohol extract from arthritis and of course resin as you imagine it it’s something you know how can you extract something from the resin but it’s only alcohol that can do it for most of the plants water is fine so the infusions and if we are using roots for instance than the lion roots marshmallow roots infusion will not work we need to actually boil it in the pot and it is because of the content of the polysaccharides that make it difficult so we actually boil it in order to extract those compounds it just makes me think of why we have to boil weed into butter to get the benefits of wheat and not water but you know that’s why i was thinking oh the oil versus water um versus alcohol so there are different ways to get the extracted from from the herb and yes so now i know why weed is butter and not another medium right i was actually not going in that direction but yeah yeah it’s fine um but i was gonna just like think think out loud about whether so you’re saying water is the most neutral way of getting it into your body but probably the easiest as well and easiest yeah most most accessible right but what if you if you do use a different they say you use for the roots and you use it in in the water form will there be a negative impact like you can get sick or something like that uh no it’s just that the infusion so uh let’s say that we have uh chopped dandelion roots in the cup and we pour the boiling water on top even after leaving like 15 minutes we will only get a small percentage of the those active compounds extracted whereas we if we put this in the pot and bring it to the boil and then simmer for 15-20 minutes it doesn’t need to be long or anything um we will pretty much extract everything uh what is in that root so it is that moment of simmering and that constant heat applies to the root that helps it to be extracted so what is the investment that you know we need to to make to actually grow our own herbs and and practice this that’s very cheap uh there is no excuses so see uh you can get for even 50 pence one pound a little bag of seeds that will help you to start and then of course uh the soil i don’t really go uh i don’t really like over complicating things so i simply use the organic compost that you can get in garden centers and yeah the pots plastic pots or some old containers that you have uh just reuse them if they are you know in the cupboard or somewhere so you can easily start growing your herbs for under my goodness five pounds depending on of course uh how many things you want to grow but uh yeah it’s ridiculously cheap even if we start simply with the culinary herbs that we can have on the constantly on the other exactly because i was thinking like say you have all these spots and different herbs but if you always have this in mind of thinking okay i can add a little bit here and there when i’m cooking so that you know you you have this i think it also increases like consciousness in in your cooking it’s like conscious cooking so when you’re gonna put that herb you’re gonna know okay this is gonna help enhance you know the digestion of this whole food and this is how like for example south asian food is also kind of made the turmeric is here or the ginger is here to balance off another element that is maybe too heaty and so that that’s an interesting way to say like okay you have your own parts so that you can then cook more consciously by adding those herbs and understanding their medicinal um effect and um so so that’s you’re telling us there’s no excuse it’s not it’s ridiculously cheap um what would be the like the first baby step for a beginner definitely invest in um first of all some herbal at least one herbal reference book that you can use so that you can learn about different hairs learn how they look what properties they have and there is a book uh which is called the encyclopedia of herbal medicine printed on the beautiful paper uh you have a pictures of each plant i think there are 70 plants uh that grow actually in the uk and it’s split in the categories so it explains in detail how the plant looks like uh what are the characteristics uh to look for uh so we don’t mistake it with something else um all the chemical compounds the active compounds are listed as well with the explanation of what they do um as well as the applications and some recipes uh so i think it’s the perfect beginner book to start with and then just even by you know even if it’s one chosen herb that you decide to grow it will be the first step and depending on you know how you go you can start adding more and more yeah and how long do you like what would be the the period to which from like the moment you plant the seed to actually being able to use it so you will be able to see the little baby plant within three to four days for most plants oh my god uh so you can see the little road it’s very fast of course it won’t be of much use at that stage but with regular watering it will grow so for rosemary for instance in order for it to grow fully it will be probably around two two and a half months and remember also that rosemary it can grow massive and it also has flowers lovely purple flowers during summer so you may need to change the pot fall bigger because remember that plants also they love space so when you reach the moment when the plant is still in that medium size or small size pot and it kind of stops growing it is because the pot is not large enough right and it’s good to actually migrate it to something more spacious wow well thank you for that so to close off our conversation as we always do with our guests let’s go into the rapid fire questions um what is the first sign that you are when you’re out of balance for me it’s personally brain fog massive brain fog and usually unexplained tiredness that unexplained tiredness is also what my clients are telling me and yeah i think those two and as a follow-up question what will be your coping method to to get back to balance for me it’s always stepping back because following what happens to me help wise when i got unwell over 10 years ago it was due to bad diet and overworking and for me it’s the sign because i’m very passionate about what i do and i don’t really treat it as a job so it’s easy to get over and for me it’s simply a sign to step back take a day off do my practices like journaling doing the you know all sorts of the kind of like the herbal support having tease going in nature no matter what weather and kind of reconnect to myself because for me on that a more spiritual level it’s also losing the connection with my inner self right does that make sense and the last question what is one book that has impacted your approach to well-being or wellness this is the book actually from uh where it all started they published a new edition right now back to eden by jethro kloss which is a classic guide to herbal medicine home remedies natural foods that have been first published in 1939 and it’s a real gem in terms of naturopathic approach that focuses really holistically not only on the physical body but also the mental spiritual emotional and that book was really life-changing so that’s a good one i think uh we’ll give people some place to start with when they want to adventure into the herbal world well thank you so much dominica for sharing uh your insight and wisdom and and also hopefully with this information we can encourage people to start their own herb gardens absolutely it’s very rewarding it’s very rewarding thank you for being on the show thank you so much if you enjoyed this episode go ahead and select that follow a subscribe button for now stay safe and we’ll see you next week

Dominica Collis | Ep #51 | Want to Herb up your life?

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