Interview with Fire Cider Workshop Leader, Alyssa Regan
Q: What do you like most about traditional remedies?
A: My favorite thing about traditional remedies are the stories. I love hearing how the remedies came to be. What cultures used which plants and how. There was such a connected respect toward nature and this beautiful reciprocity amongst plants, animals, and humans. Our ancestors were hunters and gatherers. They used what they could find and it was often very little. I respect that traditional remedies are meant to be simple, easy to make and use. When you begin to prepare these types of remedies you inadvertently begin to develop a relationship with the plants and the earth. Gratitude is something that naturally develops when you open yourself up to these types of healing. There is so much peace and solace in keeping these remedies alive.
Q: What's your favorite thing about Fire Formula (aka Fire Cider)?
A: Truthfully, besides the taste, just how simple it is to make. It is most certainly one of those “everything but the kitchen sink” remedies. Like a lot of folk medicine, there is no “right” way to make it. You can add or subtract what plants you want to make it your own. I find such beauty in this and love this about most plant medicine.
Q: What drew you to learning integrative nutrition?
A: Oooh, this is a long story but I’ll summarize ha! I developed anaphylactic food allergies as an adult. My intuition told me something was not “normal” about this. Our bodies innately should not have reactions like this and they especially shouldn’t develop as we grow. It was a sign to me that my body was not in optimal health. I have also had horrible menstrual health my entire life (recently diagnosed with endometriosis after years of infertility). I was persistently told by many doctors that this was all normal. My dying words will be just because something is common does not mean it is normal.
About 8 years ago after developing the food allergies, I was still eating a very processed Standard American Diet. After the diagnosis, I had to change every aspect of my diet as my allergens were lurking everywhere. I had to learn to love to cook. Through my journey, I became increasingly aware of how much our “food” really isn’t food. Convenience foods are anything but nourishing. I began to dive deeply into the world of organic practices, GMOs, chemicals, pesticides, herbal medicine, sustainable agriculture, foraging, etc. But be careful what you wish for because you cannot unlearn this information. It is absolutely horrifying and devastating what has been done to our food system and farms. I decided to go back to grad school to study nutrition and integrative health.
As I began to go down this journey though I began to heal. My body responded in ways I never dreamed of. It was extremely grateful to be nourished and shown love. As I begin to experiment and have this healing journey take place, I quickly became infatuated with the body and especially women’s health. I started to dive deep into the intricate endocrine system and wanted to share what I have learned to other women. I hope that no woman has to go through a journey like I have alone. I guess that is why I switched careers. I found something I was so profoundly affected by and I wanted to help others on their path to wellness. My passion is a very personal one.
Q: What are your favorite foods that promote wellness?
A: I think I would have to go with one of my favorite foods, beets. In my opinion, this is probably one of the most amazing foods out there. It is a beautiful food for blood building and blood cleansing as well as aid in healthy liver function and bile flow. The beet tops are also a potent bitter for digestion. I mean it is just so beautiful! Can I add water into this category? It is the most basic necessity and I often feel it goes overlooked. We typically should be drinking half our body weight in ounces (up to 100 ounces). Granted this varies with exercise and different life events but that is a good general rule. Our bodies are mostly water. When hydrated, our bodies function optimally and it makes everything else so much easier. Another area sometimes overlooked is healthy Fats (olive oil, sardines, avocado, ghee, chia seeds, fatty fish, olives, coconut oil, coconut butter, seeds, nuts, etc.). Fats are extremely critical for hormone production. Our brains are nearly 60% fat. We need fat to think and function on all levels. I am extremely grateful we are slowly moving out of the fat free fad of the past. Another category of foods I love are cruciferous vegetables. These beauties are great at helping us have healthy bowel habits and also aid in hormone balance. They are high in fiber and contain compounds to help the liver break down and excrete hormones. Have you caught on yet, I really love women’s health. Cruciferous veggies are ones like broccoli, kohlrabi, cabbages, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts are all examples of this food family. Another group I really love are spices. Spices bring so much flavor to a dish. They can also easily add warming and cooling properties. Since spices are super concentrated dried, plants it is an easy way to get some extra benefits in your meal. Basically eating any real, whole food will promote wellness.
Q: As the cold season approaches, what do you do to boost your immune system?
A: I believe taking care of ourselves year-round and nourishing our bodies is the first place to start. I’ll share some of my favorite herbs and remedies but there is absolutely nothing that will beat good nourishment, staying hydrated, getting enough sleep, light movement, and emotional health. When these basic practices are out of balance, herbs and other supplements will not be as beneficial as your body is already in a compromised state.
With that said, I usually start taking Astragalus in August. It is a beautiful adaptogen to start utilizing before cold season approaches. I take this herb until I potentially fall sick. I am a lover of medicinal mushrooms. I rotate through mushrooms on a daily basis, always taking reishi. During this season I take a product by Host Defense Mushrooms called MyCommunity. It is a gorgeous blend of many medicinal mushrooms to help with immune support. I believe mushrooms in particular really help strengthen our immune systems at a much deeper level.
I also take a big spoonful of fire cider daily (or several) as well as Elderberry syrup. I drink a lot of hot water with lemon and ginger and include raw local honey. I also make sure I use my NetiPot and Nasya Oil daily. Furthermore, hand washing is probably the most underrated preventative there ever was.
I try to stay away from processed carbohydrates and foods as well as sugar as they ultimately weaken the immune system. If I do begin to get sick, I really up what I take. I will take vitamin C, Echinacea, Zinc, Manuka Honey, and usually several more herbs, symptom dependent.
Q: In your view, how is our food connected to our health?
A: I will try not get on my soapbox here, haha. Food and our food systems are foundational to our health. I believe the current state of our food system is in crisis. We are beyond disconnected from our food system in this country. We do not know where our food comes from or who our local farmers are. If you have a local farmer, hug them, thank them for the hard work, grit, gifts, and much needed work they provide.
As humans, we cannot create every nutrient within our bodies. We need to eat in order to gain this nourishment. Every process that happens in our system is dependent upon various nutrients. Unfortunately, with Big Ag and CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operation) farms, both plants and animals alike are far from the food our ancestors ate. Our food has been altered, sprayed with many chemicals, and processed. Animals raised in factory farms are full of disease, malnourishment, chemicals, and live a very terrible “life”. When we eat food such as this we are missing those critical nutrients and eating dead foods. Our soils have become depleted of minerals and therefore our food also is. To gain these nutrients, we need to support a synergist relationship amongst plants and animals. Supporting small family farms and your local food systems support this type of relationship with our food.
Taking small steps to get back in our kitchens, cook meals as a family from scratch, and learn about food processes can make a huge difference. I also understand this is easier said than done in the fast-paced world we live in. I think bringing awareness to others is a passion of mine and I like encouraging others to do what they can, when they can. I am a firm believer that without making time for cooking food, our health will never be optimal.
FIRE CIDER WORKSHOP
1 - 2:30 PM
@ Temenos Retreat Center
*Registration closes THIS Sunday (9.30.18) end of day!*
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