Season 2 Episode 6 of Quiet the Diet Podcast with Michelle Shapiro, RD and Olivia Amitrano (Organic Olivia)
Herbs for Holistic Healing with Organic Olivia
In this episode, Michelle does a deep dive into “Kitchen Herbalism” with Olivia Amitrano, founder of Organic Olivia. Olivia explains what holistic health actually means, and how to make herbalism easily understood and accessed by all.
Key Points from Quiet the Diet with Organic Olivia
Scroll down to read the podcast transcript and learn:
- What a realistic healing journey looks like (Olivia shares her own!)
- What true herbalism & holistic health means
- How to feel comfortable with new & alternative healing modalities
- Chronic constipation remedies
- Easily accessible lifestyle changes
- Restoring our connection to ourselves & our world
- How to “be a human” again
- 3 Kitchen Herbs to begin your herbal journey
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8-Week Fitness and Nutrition Guide: JUST START SOMEWHERE
Today marks not only one of my favorite podcast episodes I’ve ever done or will ever do, but also the launch of our Just Start Somewhere program. The Just Start Somewhere program is an eight week fitness and nutrition ebook that Nicki Parlitsis, our amazing staff dietitian, and I developed and Nicki is not only an amazing registered dietitian, and she’s also a certified personal trainer.
And I have felt like for the past nine years of my practice that I wanted to create something that was nutrition centered with a fitness focus that was able to be done from home at a really low cost. And that’s exactly what we’ve been able to develop. This is not only a kind of list of different fitness and exercises you can do, but it’s really a step by step guide on how to start somewhere.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by conflicting fitness and nutrition information you can be at any level of fitness or nutrition to engage in this program. You can be super advanced and having worked with a dietitian like myself or someone else for many years, you can be advanced from a fitness perspective, you can be totally new from a fitness perspective. We have something for everyone in the e book.
The minute that you sign up, you get this ebook delivered to you right into your inbox and a little pop up will come for you to download it you can start literally today and what’s so important For me to express is that in all of my years as a dietitian, what I’ve noticed that a lot of people struggle with is that overwhelm of knowing where to start.
So that’s why we really call it Just Start Somewhere, it’s just for you to take that first step. And because I want all of you to know that no matter where you are in a chronic illness, health, fitness, any kind of journey, there’s always one tiny step you can take. And you can always just start somewhere. And we want people to be able to do that from home.
So I’m really excited to launch this amazing ebook program for you, you can sign up right in the link in the show notes. I’ll of course shared on Instagram too. And we’re putting all of our skills to good use here, we’re throwing the book at you not in a bad way and a good way. All that we have all of our knowledge to be able to share with you at the lowest cost possible.
Who is Olivia Amitrano of Organic Olivia?
Michelle Shapiro RD 1:23
You ever just meet someone and you feel like you’ve known them for a really long time and can feel palpable energy coming from them? These descriptions would be an understatement for our amazing guest today. Within one of my first interactions with Olivia, you might know her as Organic Olivia, Olivia Amitrano, I felt like I can only describe it as a physical reaction. Just excitement and I don’t know this person. Olivia brings such a level of light and energy to conversations that is in and of itself healing.
And that’s the only way I can really describe Olivia. I will of course talk about her amazing qualifications and her amazing company. But I just first had to say that what I kind of eerie listening to this episode before I even shared it with you. What resonated with me so much is not only Olivia has knowledge but her presence. And we also talked about what presence and energy can bring to the wellness world and to our lives.
So I’m just so excited to have Olivia as a guest today and I’m going to tell you a little bit more about her before she comes on and totally rocks your world. Olivia Amitrano was a clinical herbalist who completed a three year intensive program at Arbor vitae School of traditional herbalism. She then went on to create her own line of root cause focused remedies that target and support the foundational pillars of life, like digestion, healthy blood sugar balanced stress and quality sleep.
She is currently studying classical Chinese medicine as part of her continuing education and hosts a podcast called What’s the juice, where she explores the various facets of robust health with a variety of guests. Olivia’s podcast is a must listen. Olivia’s platform is a must watch and honestly her remedies her her herbal remedies have been transformative in many of my clients lives and my own.
I am beyond overjoyed to be sitting with my new honestly dear friend like that’s how I feel about you Olivia Amitrano, you might know her as Organic Olivia, many of you know her as organic Olivia, Olivia, I’m so freaking excited.
Olivia Amitrano 6:09
the feeling is so mutual, you are just really a one of a kind human and your voice is so needed, your work is so needed, and so to, you know, be able to be aligned with you and to be a friend of yours. And a colleague of yours is my greatest honor. Oh, no,
Olivia’s Personal (and realistic) Holistic Healing Journey
Michelle Shapiro RD 6:23
it’s the honor is mine. And I told you before we started recording, because we obviously had to get like a lot in before we even started recording that I felt your energy coming into this before you even entered.
And what I feel about a lot of practitioners is there are practitioners who are the science practitioners, and they are the practitioners who are the energy practitioners, and you just you approach them and you feel differently. And I think you’re just a beautiful marriage of both. And I think you bring like real magic to the space. And I actually so deeply mean that like real life magic is how I feel about you truly,
Olivia Amitrano 6:56
Thank you so much. It’s such a fun project to try to put the science to the energetic and to the things that we experience as humans. And it won’t always be there. But what do you do find a place where you can explain to them that way. It’s really fun. And that’s always my goal is to kind of bridge the gap between the traditional and the Eastern and the modern and the Western and help people see that it can all coexist.
Michelle Shapiro RD 7:18
Absolutely. And this is also just I’m assuming part of your personality, or always has been to be this intuitive tapped. Is that true? Tell me I want to know,
Olivia Amitrano 7:26
we will Yeah, I think I think I’m highly sensitive for sure. I think I’m very much always scanning sort of the energy around me. And I’m always kind of trying to read in between the lines as well. So even when I’m working with someone, or even when I’m talking to a friend, it’s kind of like, what are they telling me?
But what are they also not telling me, you know, like reading in between the lines, and I think that that’s a skill that you develop as a practitioner, it’s a skill you develop as a human. And it takes some intuition, as well as some good old education and psychology, you know, it’s kind of a mix. Totally.
Michelle Shapiro RD 7:56
Right. Because also, you could be misinterpreting those signals for your own feelings or anything like that, which I think practitioners get stuck into.
Olivia Amitrano 8:03
That’s big. That’s why having your own regulated nervous system and knowing that, Oh, this isn’t my stuff is so important. And as a practitioner, I think you have to constantly be doing the work and constantly regulating yourself so that you’re not projecting it.
Michelle Shapiro RD 8:18
Absolutely. And again, this likelihood to this is a totally off conversation for what I wasn’t, I knew we were going to have all these conversations I wasn’t planning on having. But I think that what we learned a lot is that when we’re going through something personally, we do have a likelihood to bring that into sessions, we have a likelihood to think, oh, maybe this is what this person is going through.
So in some ways, that’s really powerful. Because for instance, I didn’t know too much about histamine intolerance until I had this huge episode because of post COVID. And the most mold exposure I had. And because of that I had this and I told my client I had this moment, I was like, oh my god, the whole thing. This is what your thing is, oh my gosh. And sometimes like our personal experiences really do illuminate.
And then sometimes we can put too much stock in our own experiences and lose track of what the client is going through. And what they’re going through is the only thing that really matters. You know, it’s a combination of both.
Olivia Amitrano 9:08
Yeah, and I think I know who energetic sense, I think a lot of the times you are sent clients who are going through something that very much resonates with your own experience and the education that has evolved out of your own life path and health journey, because that’s kind of the education that means the most to you.
You know, when you think about psychology, and those light bulb memories, the memories that stick around the most are the ones that have an emotional connection. So I think we learn best and deepest when we are going through something and because that sticks around with us and resonates so deeply. And we have such a personal motivation to dig into those root causes. A lot of the times that’s the type of people that we like to work with and that are drawn to us.
Michelle Shapiro RD 9:45
Absolutely. And I also feel like when you are going through something in a physical way, we are all so desperate to find the answers for ourselves that you end up doing a really good deep dive for sure.
So like again, I want my experience of panic attacks. I wouldn’t take back literally one Panic attack that I’ve ever had. Because it’s very hard to understand the panic attack without having experienced it. So when I go into those client sessions, and someone tells me they’re having a panic attack, I’m like, good thing I spent years trying to find the answer to this thing because it is so important and was so urgent for me.
Olivia Amitrano 10:15
Absolutely. Yeah. And allows you to empathize on a different level.
Michelle Shapiro RD 10:19
Totally. Do you find that your personal experiences led you to your professional experiences, too? Is that something that’s been true for you?
Olivia Amitrano 10:27
Yes, I think in a sense of where I kind of ended up specializing and having an interest in working with people for sure. But also just in a greater sense of me as a public figure, essentially, it’s I really do hesitate to call myself an influencer because I, I don’t know the word feels so odd and dirty sometimes, but I am what I am, whatever. Maybe that’s what I maybe that’s what I am. It’s part of you. But not all of me. Yes.
So I think as a as a health influencer, while also being an herbalist, while also being a writer and a podcast host, I have spent a large portion of my online career very transparently sharing my own journey. And I think that there is so much value in the fact that I’ve gone through several different arcs.
And when I originally started my blog and got into, okay, maybe alternative medicine is a thing, maybe I can write about it, maybe I can experiment and go into this field, I was really heavily struggling with skin and gut issues with, you know, heavy cystic acne, as well as IBS. And I was like, Wait a second, these flare up at the same time, cut the gut, and this can be connected. And so so much of my original journey into the online world was me really sharing my path to healing acne.
And so that’s how a lot of people found me. And then I was really into gut health and the microbiome because it gave me so many answers to my skin and to my emotions, and to my anxiety and depression. And so that was my thing for a long time. And then I lived in a house with mold, and I had a little mold toxicity experience and share that.
And then after that, I got really sucked into the business aspects of my work because it takes so much to run a company and also to lead humans and to make sure that you’re doing a good job in terms of the structure that you have a responsibility to build as you’re serving people that I got so wrapped up in the world of entrepreneurship and sitting at my desk and doing zoom meetings, that I you know, let a lot of my metabolic health go and ended up you know, in the last two years, my doctor, Dr. Gabrielle Lyon, was like, Hey, baby, you know, you’re insulin resistant, and you really need to build some muscle and your blood sugar’s creeping up.
And we really need to take care of this. And so, most recently, I’ve been on a journey of reversing insulin resistance and balancing my blood sugar, as well as my hormones because I was kind of on a trajectory for PCOS based on my markers and my symptoms. So now I’m, I’m really, really passionate about PCOS and hormones and blood sugar and muscle, because that’s my most recent experience.
And I think it’s been really good that people have seen that health is not linear, and you don’t just heal one thing and you’re good for the rest of your life. Things happen life stress happens, you’re going to face different health issues throughout your path, and it’s not going to be perfect, and you get to keep digging and keep learning.
Michelle Shapiro RD 13:17
I often think of healing as being kind of like you’re pushing that baseline as much as you can. But it’s it’s not like you just eradicate even in functional naturopathic, you know, traditional Chinese medicine, you’re not eradicating conditions completely, you’re altering the condition and environment with which that disease state is happening.
But I do think of it as like, maybe healing is more about like pushing that baseline of health up as much as you can, with still knowing there’s gonna be some waxing and waning, which is really hard for people to understand, I think, because it’s not appealing for that to be the case, we want it to be like you’re done, you’re good. But a lot of the work that I think we need to do is in those daily tasks to push that baseline, which are also really unpleasant, versus just taking one pill or something like that.
Olivia Amitrano 14:01
Absolutely. Healing is mostly about maintenance and those habits once you figure out what works for you and dig into your own root causes and know your weak points that you do kind of struggle with when things in your life get hard. So it’s you can look at weight loss the same way, right, it’s a lot of people can lose a lot of weight in a really short term period. But how many of those people actually maintain that weight loss and keep it off for the rest of their lives?
A very small percentage, it’s very hard to do. It’s the same with health, you know, it takes constant dedication to the tiny, foundational daily basic habits and that is not sexy, and that is not clickbait worthy. And it’s not what gets the clicks and the views so I think as I’ve grown as an individual, you know, again, an influencer or practitioner I realized that, you know, it’s not I can’t there’s no sensationalizing things.
There’s no this herb will do this for you and I’ll cure all your woes. It’s Meet this herb here are the energetics. Here’s where it can be indicated, but talk to your practitioner things have gotten so much less extreme in my personal and my professional life. And I’m able to communicate things in a way where people understand it doesn’t just take one thing, you got to do all the things a little bit each day.
Michelle Shapiro RD 15:15
Totally. And this you actually do something really beautiful with your herbal and literally for YouTube, I take them every single day with your herbal supplement line. And herbs. I don’t know if supplements and herbs could be considered different things for different people. But what I don’t even know if you know you do this, but you do this, which is extremely cool, which is all of your tinctures distinctly help the foundation versus helping kind of that top level and I talked about this in almost every podcast I go on or my own, which is I think of functional medicine as being if we think of our bodies like a house, functional medicine would be let’s work on the root of the house.
Because if that’s crumbling, it doesn’t matter what kind of fancy supplements you throw on top, it doesn’t matter what fun kind of infrared sauna you do. That’s all decorating the top of the house, we need to work at that foundation. And every single one of your supplements works at the foundation. They’re not these short term, quick fixes.
They all say hey, what are the most important things are liver health, blood sugar regulation, nervous system regulation. And if we can get those systems, right, everything else comes into play. And then we can have fun with a couple little fun supplements, you know, here and there. But all of yours work at that foundational aspect.
Olivia Amitrano 16:27
Thank you for saying that. And I think it’s a fine line that you have to toe in the world of creating a supplement line in the world of consumerism where you know, people aren’t going to be very tempted to just buy a solution to what ails them and kind of feel like okay, well, this will fix it.
This is enough. Because when you’re struggling with your health, you are in a very vulnerable place. And a lot of people can easily be sold a dream and can easily be sold, you know, these supplements on Dr. Oz that are saying, oh, yeah, like Garcinia? Remember Garcinia Cambogia?
Michelle Shapiro RD 16:59
I think he got in trouble for that, because I think he was getting like backpay for that. I think that was like a problem.
Olivia Amitrano 17:03
Sure, I’m sure. But it’s like, you know, the world of like the fad supplements of like, this is all you need. So I think it’s there’s our responsibility to not only kind of market them in a way that’s like, here’s part of your toolbox. Here’s how this can be used in accordance with other things that will help to regulate your blood sugar.
Yes, take gluco bitters, but also, I’m going to show you that I’m lifting weights every day, here’s some tips on how to stay consistent with it. Here’s how you need to prioritize protein and your nutrition, you need to get fiber and poly phenols. Like, there’s so many other pieces to the puzzle. And I think that that’s why I enjoy the education part of my job, especially on my brand account where I’m like, Yes, we have this product, but how can we also support you with valuable education to kind of create the rest of that full pie.
And yeah, and it’s also my responsibility as a formulator to make sure that I’m not making products that are band aids, and some of them are, are tools that are maybe less root cause focused than others, right? Like my spring defense tonic my allergy formula that you popped up, right? That’s not going to heal your allergies on a root cause level forever, right?
If you have low grade chronic inflammation or histamine intolerance, you need to deal with that on a gut microbiome level long term. But it’s one of those in the moment formulas that can drastically reduce your allergy symptoms, drastically increase your quality of life and also show you that hey, herbs work and can be a gateway to someone who maybe is really skeptical and is like wait a second, integrative medicine could be an option for me. Totally. Yeah,
Michelle Shapiro RD 18:27
I like this gateway into functional medicine. You also you know, you brought up Dr. Oz and this is I’m gonna pull this back to something we talked about before we even came on. I want to make a distinction between herbal, holistic, integrative functional naturopathic, I want to kind of divide us a little bit because I think due to lobbying, and a lot of other reasons, a lot of these words come up as being quite dirty and unscientific especially when we think of herbal when we think of holistic those are top two words that I think for people feel very this is not scientifically supported because I’m trained in kind of this western model.
Can you speak into that a little bit and kind of what’s your impression when you hear the words herbal holistic, how is it different than what we might hear in society? And what trends do you see regarding those words?
What is Herbalism and Holistic Health?
Olivia Amitrano 19:15
Yeah, cuz it’s like I could go a lot of ways with it. But I think that again, like in for the general public who have grown up, perhaps engaging with herbs through big time television shows like Dr. Oz, or like I seen on TV ads were herbal supplements were these very disconnected, kind of just like you just see the pill. It’s just in like a white sterile capsule bottle. And that’s the only interaction you ever have with the actual herb in the medicine that you’re taking. I think true. herbalism is a holistic relationship with the plants that are serving you.
And true herbalism is also built on the tenant that that plant may not work for you forever. And this is something that’s really important. that I see with clients that I hear about all the time, where, for example, someone may be taking something like skullcap or holy basil. These are two lovely nerve ions that are really helpful for nervous system regulation, lowering cortisol helping with deep sleep and winding down in the evening. And they may take skullcap for three or four months, and it works like a charm every night to help them sleep. And then all of a sudden, that herb stops working.
And in traditional herbalism, because it’s not just okay, the study substantiates this, there’s lore around it, there’s tradition, there’s elders, there’s energetics around it. The elders who taught me would say that that’s because the plant is now asking you to take the lesson that it has given you, it’s now asking you to say, hey, it’s possible for me to regulate my nervous system in the evenings. I know what this feels like. Now, I know what where I need to feel when I’m fully there. And it’s now asking you how can you incorporate habits? And how can you be with yourself? And how can you utilize other tools besides just the plant to help get you there? Because it is possible.
And so I find that some people when that happens, they’re like, Oh, well, then herbs don’t work. I knew I knew it was too good to be true. And I’m like, no, no, no. Maybe the herb is asking you can you create a bedtime routine? Can you take a bath? Can you start to journal Can you start to meet yourself on a deeper level, because even when it comes to herbalism, and holistic health and Western medicine, all of it all together, it can often be a banding, you know, it can often be a temporary solution.
And at the end of the day, we have the power within ourselves to make a lot of progress with just our habits alone and knowing what our bodies need alone. And the herbs are meant to be tools, but they’re not meant to be a forever thing. So I don’t know if that answers the question.
Michelle Shapiro RD 21:50
I think it’s a beautiful answer. And I like this way of explaining things that you have is really wonderful, which is that it’s not like the supplement goes in and does something to us. But it’s a bi directional relationship between the herbs and our bodies. So there’s two parts to this.
One is that the herb does something and the next is that our body reacts to what it does incorporates what it does integrates what it does, is the component of that that you’re thinking of, in a biochemical way, but also in an energetic way. Tell me about the energetic piece. I think that’s what people would be interested in learning to
Olivia Amitrano 22:24
certainly, I mean, I think I love that you bring it back to the start, like you’re so good at explaining things in the scientific lens that’s really accessible. So as soon as you said that, I’m like, Oh, yes, absolutely. So a plant like holy basil, for example, or Magnolia bark, right? That like lowers cortisol, it’s going to on a biochemical level, increase the neurotransmitter GABA, right, a calming neurotransmitter, and maybe it’s going to decrease cortisol or decrease or glutamate.
But by increasing GABA, right and helping you to experience more of this calming neurotransmitter, it’s going to lower the amount of perceived stress on a brain on a hypothalamic level in your hypothalamus, which is going to interact with your HPA axis, which is how your hypothalamus talks to your pituitary gland, which talks to your adrenal glands, which ends up talking to your ovaries and your thyroid.
And there’s going to be this feedback loop of okay, thanks to this biochemical input thinks so this plant that’s actually changing my neurotransmitters, I’m able to down regulate my nervous system and balance that HPA axis. So there is that very physical biochemical level, in an energetic sense, right? Plants are living, right they are they are alive, right I, I took a hike this morning, I woke up early, I’m like, I gotta get my hike and before the podcast so that I’m centered, I have to spend time with the plants.
And I was actually thinking about this on my hike. We talked about on the episode that where you were on my show that there’s a huge piece of CO regulation that happens when you’re in relationship with others in your lives. And this is a bit of a tangent, but I’m going to come back.
And it’s really important to be in relationship with people in your life and to share sacred space with people in your life that are able to regulate their own nervous systems because we as living beings, as beings that cannot survive alone, need to co regulate, we see someone’s nervous system, we feel their nervous system, we feel their energy, right, the Heart Math Institute says that your the aura, essentially, of your heart extends up to six feet around your body, or 12 feet, something like that.
So we actually energetically pick up on someone else’s ability to feel calm and to regulate and that gets to rub off on us the same way that people’s microbiomes rub off on us like you think about this microbiome cloud that we’re now discovering through science where our microbiome extends around us as well. It gives a whole new meaning to you are the five people that you hang around with.
So all of this to say, the same way that you can be around an animal like a horse or a dog and you can pick up on their calming energy or like a cat purring can also help you to co regulate. I think because Plants are not animate objects because they are not they don’t talk back to us or essentially move at the pace that a dog or a cat would even though if you set up a camera and videotaped a plant, it’s very much moving and opening and having, you know, a whole experience.
Plants are also living beings that can help us to co regulate, there’s so much value in simply sharing space. And being in relationship with plants, even when you’re not picking them off of the tree and eating them or tinkering them or putting them in a capsule in a supplement, just simply being next to them. They have an energetic imprint, they are living, they have their own aura, let’s say. And so each of those plants, spirits and personalities and traditional herbalism have this impact on us.
And so when we learn traditional herbalism, and when I was in school, and we would have specific lessons like we’d have an entire day dedicated to just the Materia Medica of chamomile, and we would simply just dive into chamomile that day, not only the phytochemicals, and the different plant chemicals and studies on chamomile, so that we could have that scientific lens, but very much the tradition and again, the lore and the stories, the oral traditions that were passed down around the personality of chamomile, and my teacher would always say that camera meal is for those crying on the outside, whereas catnip is for those crying on the inside.
So these are two nerve ions that may both up regulate GABA, right, they may both you know both of these plants are common. Just pick one, right? That’s what Western medicine would say, right? But when you look at the spirit, the personality of the plant, chamomile is really, really highly indicated for someone who is kind of like, Ah, I hate this. When are we going home, I’m so uncomfortable, my stomach hurts, who’s not afraid to kind of like wine out loud and tell you how uncomfortable they are.
And that’s why chamomile is such an excellent remedy for children, because children are not afraid to to wine. And they’re expressive about that. Absolutely, yes. Where it’s catnip is the spirit of catnip resonates much more so with someone who’s going to hold everything in and be crying on the inside, but isn’t going to let you know what they’re feeling. So it comes down to that’s why having this like separate education in herbalism.
And being able to learn from my teachers who preserved those stories and preserved those traditions around these plants, and really helped us to take time to meet the plants in the wild and sit with them and even say what is this plant saying to you? Or are you getting anything from them and validating that it helps us to have a really deep relationship with the plant and then be able to see a plant in a person.
So I can you know, be in a session with a client or even a friend. And they can be telling me something and just by the way that they’re speaking just by the way that they’re using certain language, I can be like, Oh, this is the St. John’s Wort person. This is a rosemary person. And I can be taking notes kind of on their energetic signature and help to refine what nerve ions I’m going to choose for them, right.
So I know they’re going to need an Irvine blend before bed to help them wind down into practice nervous system regulation. But I’m not just going to throw any nervine at them based on a scientific study saying this works to calm them down, I’m going to really be mindful about what nerve ions I’m choosing based on how the plant spirits can support them.
Michelle Shapiro RD 28:20
So beautiful. And this connection to nature, we think of as being it’s so weird, but I think a lot of people think of it as being like woowoo. But what you’re talking about is kind of an amazing representation of the scientific method over 1000s of years, right? Like we are like you use the right word, we’re validating that science and repeating it, and seeing if it works and changing it and understanding more. So what I love so much about herbalism and from your explanation is that it’s so obvious.
And then for a lot of people, I think it draws their line where they’re like, oh, yeah, that’s so true. There’s so much truth about that. There’s so much truth about nature. Why am I not implementing kind of all these things into my life? And I think there’s a couple explanations for that for people. But I think honestly, Olivia, people are very intimidated by what they don’t know. And herbalism feels like this big, huge game that people aren’t a part of. It is counter to everything we’ve learned in growing up here.
We grew up in extremely similar places like 15 minutes away from each other. It’s counter to what is the norm here? Tell us how do we overcome the unknowingness of it? How do people start to get over that fear? Because people really do fear the unknown in a lot of ways.
How do we start to kind of move into this ultimate knowingness, which is that like yeah, of course, nature has energy we live we know that it’s alive. We know these things. We know we feel different when we go to the beach or in the mountains. How do we start to like draw that bridge between what we know and what we don’t know. Really hard question. Sorry, in advance.
How to Feel Comfortable with New or Alternative Healing Modalities
Olivia Amitrano 29:59
No, I think that it It’s about knowing that practicing herbalism in your own way, even if you’re not going to a clinical program to become an herbalist, and there’s so many different meanings as to what that means, because it’s not that there’s like one system or accreditation, right? It is so unique to you and your relationship with plants is going to look so different from someone else’s.
And I think that it’s sort of de mystifying and uncomplicated it and saying, You don’t have to know every plant and you don’t have to know you know, what horror hound does, and what you know, like these, these very exotic feeling, you know, Romani, or root like, these are such like, removed plants that we would never find in our immediate environment. And there’s such a vast Materia Medica, it’s the same way that you know, you don’t have to know every medication, you don’t have to know it, there’s, there’s so much pressure, I think, when you’re like, I want to know herbalism, or I want to start dabbling with herbalism.
To feel like you have to have it all together, and have such a wide toolbox to feel competent. But I think real everyday herbalism is about picking a few plants that resonate with you that maybe grow near you that you can actually go and visit because there’s medicinal weeds everywhere. Those dandelions that are sprouting up in our yards that, you know, people spray roundup on or that red clover that seems like a little pests that’s making our grass not look perfect.
Those are really powerful medicines, right? And it’s picking those few plants. It’s cultivating a very deep relationship with them. And knowing that that is enough, it’s really quality over quantity. And it’s the same way that I’m sure in the dietetics world you have people saying do I need to consume this superfood? Don’t I need to be taking ice berry or like, you know eating ice berries? Or don’t I need this like specific powder or chlorophyll in my water or yada yada yada to heal? And it’s you saying? No, there are there’s spinach from the grocery store and oranges and apples.
And those are just as medicinal if not more than these crazy expensive superfoods because you’ll stick to them, you know, be like them. It’s no one wants to like choke down chlorophyll and sea moss in their water. I mean, maybe maybe some people don’t know hate, but it’s really those like simple few plants that it’s your job to kind of cultivate a relationship with. And if you’re picking those those simple kitchen medicines, especially ginger, chamomile, you don’t even have to go out and get the weeds, right, just look at what’s in your grocery store, ginger, chamomile, rosemary, pick three plants, or just one to start with.
And just cultivate your own relationship with that plant. Yes, look at the science, but also sit with it, taste it make a chamomile tea. What am I noticing in my body with this first sip? What is the smell telling me? How does Kim Emile look when it’s growing, there’s a doctrine of signatures concept that we have in herbalism, where the way that the plant grows and appears, tells you a lot about its usage. And you can also apply your own interpretation to that there is no one way.
So when I look at passionflower, for example, which is a lovely nervine. There’s these tendrils in passionflower that latch on to things and don’t let go and they’ll kind of like latch on to things other, you know stems around them, or whatever it is, and they’re looping. And that’s a doctrine of signatures that’s showing you that passionflower is really good for looping thoughts, looping thoughts that just latch on to a pathway in your brain. And you just can’t get out of that loop.
And you can’t stop thinking about that one thing that triggered you earlier, passion flower is a highly specific nervine to that in a way that camera mile or valerian root wouldn’t help because passionflower is so unique. So it’s just spending time with those few plants. And knowing that that is enough, and you are already practicing herbalism every day as you’re adding spices to your food as you’re baking ginger tea from the grocery store, as you’re ordering a chamomile tea at a restaurant, you are already there.
And it is your birthright because you are nature, you are a part of nature. We’re not separate from these plants. They’re not a thing that we need to go and learn. They’re not something that a textbook has to teach us. Just like animals and birds just exist as part of nature. We also just exist. I don’t know how we got here, were part of it all. And so you are the plants just as much as you are the humans and the animals and there is no separation. And they want to know you just as much as you want to know them.
Michelle Shapiro RD 34:23
I love that symbiotic relationship and the way that you have been able to help people again, integrate on that we’re going to come back to this rage kitchen herbalism is so powerful. When I think of functional nutrition supplementation. A huge concern I have is when clients come to me and say, Michelle, what do you think about this supplement? I’m like, I have to tell you something.
I never think about supplements I don’t think about it’s like I don’t have a thought about a supplement. What I want people to start with and you can totally correct me if I’m wrong is what are they experiencing and then you can find that match for what they are variances is that true for herbalism? The same way it’s true for supplements
Olivia Amitrano 35:03
absolutely and and when you become an herbalist so much of what we did, for example, we had our clinic in Harlem. So in my second year of school towards the end of the second year, with the help of the third year students as well as our TAs, we practiced in clinic in Harlem at a church, just seeing the local community, totally pro bono, that was all of our clinics, it was just like donation based or totally free.
And, you know, we’re working with people who don’t have access to supplements like that is not even a thought on their radar, they are at point A, and A supplement is point z. And that’s just not, it’s not there, nor is it necessary, right. So a lot of how we learn to practice was helping people to make the lifestyle changes and those little foundational changes to their routine, not just what they eat, but how they eat, which I know is a big part of what you do, right, like nervous system regulation, as you’re about to take your first bite, you know how they’re going about their day slowing down.
So much of that is medicine and part of the practice of herbalism or holistic health, just as much as it is saying, okay, it makes sense for this person who has X amount of disposable income and can absolutely afford this supplement to include the supplement and a diet that I know is going to help their response to glucose. You know what I mean? Like I know that these are insulin sensitizing herbs that are going to speed up their recovery from PCOS. Great, throw it in there.
But for someone who doesn’t have that access, can you start with just taking an extra walk each day so often it’s listening to the person and going to the lifestyle interventions first, to the nervous system interventions first, before you’re ever thinking about making them a formula that is so much more allopathic and consumerist mindset.
And again, it’s a fine line to toe as someone who makes supplements. It’s, it feels quite paradoxical a lot of the time, but I also know that those tools are necessary and if I can make really good ones that I can pull in when I need them, all the better. But at the same time, I want to dedicate so much of my life to the basics.
Michelle Shapiro RD 37:03
And these your even your supplements and tinctures are at a basic level price prohibitive. Yes, we’re talking we’re being honest about this, right. Yeah. But what you said is so important. All right. This is a conversation I’ve never had on a podcast before and a direction I want us to talk about for a second. Functional Medicine, holistic medicine, naturopathic medicine for many people feels extremely inaccessible.
We started off by saying, from an education standpoint, people feel like I can’t get my foot in the door, it’s too hard for me to conceptualize and understand I don’t know where to start. And on another level, it does feel financially inaccessible. So this is so fascinating to me, because a lot of the rhetoric I see online is people saying things like, you know, functional nutritionist or just trying to sell people fancy supplements, the kind of attacks against the holistic wellness community, when in reality, herbalism, or true lifestyle changes should be the most accessible to people, because they are what I put them in the category of are just acts of being human.
They’re just human stuff, right? These should be the most accessible. So I love that work that you did. And I love the appreciation you have for accessibility. And saying, Yeah, we can have fun with expensive tinctures too, like that’s totally okay for that person. But there is there is no person who this information should be inaccessible to this podcast is free. You the information you put out is free, but I think herbs are generally low cost.
Financial Barriers to Alternative Health Treatments
Olivia Amitrano 38:29
I mean, these are these are things that are very accessible for people, especially when you’re you know, as an herbalist who’s working one on one time, and even though I have a company where I’m like making things really easy to take, again for that person who’s really busy and is like, I just need a solution for this. I’m really anxious at night. And I just need something that I could put by my bedside and spray in my mouth and just feel a little bit better. Like that’s where my peace juice comes in.
That’s where allergy defense kind of comes in where you’re like, Ah, I’m having allergies today. I don’t want to take an OTC I’ve taken antihistamines for years, but I’m kind of concerned which is valid. I want something different, right? And that’s great to have. But also as an herbalist working with someone I’m like, Okay, you have years of chronic constipation and you when I’m assessing your overall tissue state, right, because we look at tissue states and traditional herbalism we look at if tissue states are damp, or lacks or windy, which is like tense or cold or hot, right?
I can see that that person who’s experiencing chronic constipation also has really dry skin also has psoriasis or acne flares, right. Also has all of these other indicators that their mucous membranes are dry and because the intestines are part of your mucous membranes, that person doesn’t need a fancy laxative supplement from CVS, they might just need to put a little bit of powdered marshmallow root into their oatmeal in the morning and they might even need to start eating oatmeal because it’s mucilaginous and then adding the marshmallow root or the slippery elm which is an endangered plant so I try not to recommend that as much anymore even though there are certain people that it is highly indicated for.
But you know a plant like marshmallow Rupe, a little bit of that powder in your oatmeal. And you could get just a little bit like one or two ounces of powdered marshmallow root from, you know, a local herb store or even Amazon worst case scenario, depending on how you look at it for a very nominal cost, and that’s going to just be part of your oatmeal each and every morning.
And it’s going to help draw water into the bowels into the large intestine and lubricate your intestines, so that you’re working on that chronic constipation from a root cause level. And then because you’re also becoming more hydrated, and perhaps absorbing more nutrients from your food, and perhaps cooling some of that heat that I’m seeing in your skin with your scaly skin conditions, you’re also going to see an improvement, perhaps in combination with other changes in your skin over time.
So it’s really that root cause what is their presenting tissue state hot and dry? Okay, how can I bring cooling and moistening remedies and foods and also incorporate that into what they’re eating everyday so that they’re not just taking capsules and tinctures?
Michelle Shapiro RD 40:59
Absolutely. And so many people kind of know this intuitively. And it’s funny because I as a dietitian, again, you get like, so used to hearing the symptoms of someone and the experience and how people present that you’re like, oh, like I’ll say, Oh, my God, they’re burning up, like, we know they’re burning up. And you know, like I have, I have a client who presented very, like, sluggish and feeling like that heaviness.
And she was having like a tremendous amount of fatty foods and plant and animal protein. And I was like, that’s awesome. But for you right now, don’t you feel the heaviness? And so I’ll kind of play a little game with my clients to where I’ll say, let’s close our eyes and picture like how it would feel like if they’re, let’s say that I feel like they’re burning up, they’re experiencing reflux, they’re very aggravated feeling that anger, I’m like, How would it feel if I picture kind of your chest and your stomach being red? If I poured some beef stew in that?
And they’re like, Oh, that would be terrible. I’m like, how about a banana? They’re like, closer, you know, I’m like, how about a fiber cracker. They’re like, you know, ooh, that would be harsh, you know, just understanding and thinking about and visualizing how that’s going to influence you might be a good starting place for people also, again, who feel this overwhelm.
I don’t know what or does water, something like that, just understanding first, of course, like, I’m always gonna say how you actually feel, and then think about how things might interact with you. So that’s a really beautiful, nice starting point for people. And I’m glad you brought that up, too, because we have different states of being. And they change over time, too. So we have to know where we’re at in that moment to understand how something’s going to interact with us,
Olivia Amitrano 42:30
for sure. And it’s so important for you as a practitioner to reflect that back to the person because like you’re saying that, number one is the client, understanding how they actually feel so that they can start to make wiser decisions that are more in alignment with how they want to feel and have a greater understanding of how foods may affect that. But so often, they can, you know, list, a long line of symptoms to you, but it’s up to you to reflect back to them.
Okay, these symptoms are all feeling really hot and dry. Can you see that in your body? And again, how would it feel if you put this food on top of that that’s so important to them, the client has language around it, and then can make those empowering decisions about their food about their actions, right, stress and rushing and road rage feels really hot and dry. And Chinese medicine we call it your fluids, right?
You’re burning through your fluids very quickly and your fluids are kind of like this. Your adrenal reserves right. If we were looking in a holistic Western sense, like your HPA axis, the nutrients like magnesium, and calcium that are going to help your adrenal glands cope with stress, or even vitamin C, right, like we’re going to burn through vitamin C and B vitamins at a much faster rate. When we’re stressed out. That’s just what the body does, it uses more of our fluids, or our reserves.
And when you have really good fluids, you’re really juicy, right? It’s like this language gives you these metaphors are really juicy. Things can just roll off your back, you know, you can just have a comment made about you or you’re in road rage or traffic and you’re like EFF, such as life I’m just gonna put on some music and jam out. And that’s someone who’s really juicy and has good fluids.
But when you’re depleted of fluids and you’re at the end of your rope and you’re dry and you don’t have much left to give any little like strike of a match is going to set a fire. So understanding how can I bring more fluids and juiciness into my life? Does that look like more hydration or upping the minerals in my hydration so that I can actually hold on to more water and receive more water?
Does that look like you know, adding fluid building or blood building herbs and medicinal foods into my oatmeal so a lot of times when someone is really depleted, I’ll have them cook Jujubee dates and Oatstraw into a tea into an infusion the night before I’ll kind of have to do an overnight infusion and make this medicinal, delicious tea GGB dates are rich in vitamin C they’re really good for blood and fluid building and Chinese medicine Oatstraw really rich in magnesium, calcium, all these different minerals that we need for our adrenals and for our stress response.
And they’re going to actually cook their oatmeal with that tea as their base rather than water as their water, soy or almond milk. Right? Exactly. So it’s just how can you add a little bit of extra juiciness and fluids into your diet, since we’re seeing that you’re feeling really dry and depleted, and how can you also add more juiciness to your day in other ways with listening to some really juicy music while you’re working kind of help would looking out a window moving your desk to a window so that you can see green while you’re working actually helped to make you feel a little bit more juicy and fluid.
Could taking more walk breaks help, you could look like taking breaks to actually look around the room and stretch your eyes or stretch your limbs while you’re working help you to be less dry and tense and tight. So many little things go into addressing someone’s tissue state and presenting pattern. And once you as a practitioner, see it you can communicate it to the person and then they can start to see it.
And it’s your job to trust people that when they receive the education, they will make better decisions and they just need to be armed with that info and they’re able to hold it and handle it. It’s not just reserved for the people with the letters next to their names. And it’s health is not just something that a doctor tells you to do and doesn’t explain why.
Michelle Shapiro RD 46:14
Totally. And this also, God I could pull apart 15 different things. You said this juiciness, does it. First of all, what’s the juice? Well, that’s the name of your podcast,
Olivia Amitrano 46:24
the name of the podcast. And also it’s about like squeezing the juice out of different topics. It’s such a metaphor, but it’s one that we asked everyone season one What keeps you juicy.
Michelle Shapiro RD 46:32
I love that. Oh my God, why did I get that question? I’m going back so we can talk about that. That’s amazing. And I think that it’s so fascinating to me hearing you talk about this because more of my knowledge set is an iron beta. I am not an AI or Vedic practitioner. It’s it’s all it’s been self taught.
It’s been through sort of like, you know, learning, not through any sort of elders, like you said, any sort of formal programming, but every time I learn about TCM or Ayurveda, while they are totally different disciplines, the pieces of them that feel congruent are always so based in what we so know already. And it’s so obvious again, like when you’re saying these things, you don’t have to know herbalism to understand what you mean, when you say that juiciness, we can feel it. Right. It’s that feeling.
And I think what is so I’m hopeful about functional nutrition is that I think we’re starting to put into a still a Western framework and functional nutrition, how do we apply kind of those understandings of energy and understandings of momentum stagnation, movement, fluidity into tangible scientific information? So what you were talking about, we know that in times of stress, or when we feel like aggravated, or you know, you’d say like your pittas dominant, right, you’re feeling like that, that hot fire? How do we cool and soothe so in functional nutrition?
We’d say yeah, you’re right, you’re running out of magnesium, you’re running out of vitamin C, your body’s running out of those nutrients, your stores are empty. So you need to replenish them from a TCM or Ayurveda perspective, we would look at it more from like a nature, or energetic spiritual perspective, which is so cool, because I think, again, I think that functional nutrition is our best possible explanation of how do we grapple with our western understanding of things because we’re, it’s, that’s the hardest part of all this is to try to break through that idea that we are masters of the universe, and that we do things and that that cause is cause and effect and we fix things.
But not that we’re an integrated part of the world. How do we kind of translate that into even a western model? Because functional nutrition is still kind of a western model? How do we translate those truths?
I wish it would just be as easy as US Exploring the Nature part and exploring the the real part, but I think there’s some hope and being able to translate that how do you how do you feel about that extremely long soliloquy that I just spit at?
How to Restore the Connection to Ourselves and Our World
Olivia Amitrano 48:54
You know, it’s like, as you’re saying this I have a something brought up that I was thinking about earlier, when you asked the question about how do we start to develop a relationship with plants and herbalism when it feels so other and so intimidating? And I think that that right there speaks to the greater issue that we’re all suffering with as a society because there’s gonna be a pros and cons to everything.
There’s going to be a yin and yang, a light in the dark or light right now is that we have access to the incredible power of modern medicine or latest that we have. We need it. Yep, I tell ya, we do. Yeah. Listen, if I get strep, I’m taking antibiotics. If I have an issue that I need to go to the hospital for, I’m going to the damn Hospital. My dog got a hotspot last or in January gave him antibiotics right away. I’m not afraid of Western medicine. Because when you let things fester and try to be big and tough and like treat everything holistically, that’s when you get humbled.
So modern issues sometimes need modern solutions. Number one, great we have the modern framework, we have the scientific method, we have these incredible, you know review boards and peer reviewed systems where we can get really high quality literature and that rocks And then at the same time, we are so disconnected from ourselves from nature from each other, from the microbes in the soil from the microbes in our own gut.
We want everything to be clean and pristine, we don’t touch dirt, we don’t live in communities the way that we once did. We don’t rely on others, we don’t raise children together, we are so hyper independent, because we are able to be now from technology and the advent of modern housing, materials and cars to drive to each other, and XYZ, that we’ve lost so much of what makes us human.
And you mentioned earlier in the show, a lot of guiding people through their health is helping them be human again. And I think a lot of my own personal health journey has been remembering how to be human. And I think so often, when we’re like, gotta meet this deadline, gotta get this Zoom meeting have to make enough money to survive, have to pay my friend like, it brings us so far away from what having a human experience is really about.
And at our root, I think our issue and why chronic illnesses exploding, and all of these things is that we are so disconnected. And we see so many things as other, and we don’t know who grew our food. And we’ve never seen the herbs that we’re taking in a capsule. And we’re not like we’re just not there.
And I think that a lot of restoring health for humanity is going to be restoring connection on every micro level on every macro level. And helping people see that everything is kind of a mirror of one another. And there is a connection between everything. And that’s what integrative medicine is trying to do is show people that all of this stuff is connected.
It’s not just a study in a petri dish, or like, you know, one human study that saying this work for this person. So it should work for you. There’s so much more complexity. And there’s so many reasons as to why we’re suffering that or not just your gut microbiome is off. Even if that’s true.
Michelle Shapiro RD 52:02
It’s still thinking about just your gut microbiome being off is still viewing the body as disconnected parts. It’s still not like you said, it’s not quite there, which is why I think functional nutrition is fun, because it is that root cause and it is tried to connect everything.
But I do feel that some functional nutrition is not integrative, and taking in that really human part of me, I’ll just ask you on a super, like highest level you can possibly think of how would you define what it means to like, operate like a human like, what does that look like for a person to really be human?
How to Feel Like a “Human” Again
Olivia Amitrano 52:34
Number one, spending spending less time with our phones, I think our phones are such an issue, I really do. And I’m the number one person that’s guilty of it, I’m speaking to myself because I spent a lot of time the last year or so looking into my vices and the way that I avoid my own humanity and the way that I avoid relationship with others relationship with myself the way that I say I’m too busy right now I have this work to do.
You know, the way that I isolate and dissociate and don’t feel the hard feelings that would make me go towards others and be more connected with myself or others. And I identified certain vices like using cannabis, which is a beautiful plant as a tool to often to the point where it was not letting me feel my feelings.
So I gave that up, identified caffeine, even caffeine was just putting me into this spiral of now I can be productive and totally ignore everything else in my life and be myopic about my one to do list and feel like work is the only thing that exists because that’s what I have to tell myself in order to burn myself out at this pace, and I’m burning myself out. So I gave up caffeine in a way to help myself learn a new way to work that felt more human.
And I gave up some other vices too. And now I’m left with a device of my phone where I’m like, oh, addiction transference, like cool. I’m still doing scrolling at night when I could be reflecting and feeling my emotions and like maybe having a good cry or maybe sending gratitude to someone that I love and thinking I’m going to call them tomorrow, you know, it’s number one phones issue, addiction, real thing, right? Like it’s, that’s such a thing.
And number two is being with ourselves and in nature and with plants more so that we can actually connect with ourselves and feel our feelings because ultimately the goal is to connect with others and to connect with the world around us and to have really deep and meaningful bonds with other people. I think that that is the most fulfilling thing in life and so important and what’s missing from a lot of our lives. I think loneliness is an epidemic.
But I think that you cannot meet someone where they are on that deep level if you cannot meet yourself where you are. If you can’t even hold the space for your own difficult emotions. How can you expect someone else to hold it? How can you hold someone else’s you know if you if you’re uncomfortable with your own flaws? How can you be in relationship with someone else who is flawed? How will you be able to forgive them when they slip up and expect them to hold space for your flaws?
When you’re not comfortable with that within yourself, and so I think we do a lot of things to avoid having a relationship with ourselves and to avoid feeling our feelings, and being with ourselves with no external input and distractions, and we’re just drowning in a world of stim and stimulation and dopamine.
And I think we’re getting lost in the sauce. So I’m hearing from you that what’s kind of the components of being human that we get away from is experiencing feelings? And periods and pain. Exactly. And, and being connected to other people, even if it may bring those negative or positive feelings? Because it well seems, yeah, well, that’s exactly relationship and it’s gonna bring so much joy, oh, my God, it’s going to bring so much joy.
But it’s going to bring pain because that is what comes with being in relationship, we only learn about ourselves in relation to others. And so when you cut yourself off from relation to others, you cut yourself off from yourself and you stop growing. You need the hardships, you need the you need the difficult times in relationship with other people, because also makes you stronger at the end of the day.
And then you get to have really joyful times with them. And then you get to feel fulfilled as a human. And you’re not looking for that fulfillment on social media at night, which again, I’m guilty of, like, I literally want to make sure people don’t think that I think I’m perfect, I got a lot of stuff wrong with me. And that’s why I like to talk about it because at least putting it out there shines a light on it.
Michelle Shapiro RD 56:28
I bet highly sensitive people like us are more inclined to shield themselves from motions to it’s like a lot for us. Like, honestly, it’s a lot to be alive. It’s a whole, it’s a lot for everyone to be alive and to be human. But I think that when you’re experiencing the emotions of others and your own, constantly and deeply like we want to disconnect and like you’re saying our big problem is you have every tool in the frickin world to be able to do that.
So it really comes down to making an effortful choice to and I’m hilariously saying this but like be a human every day like that’s it’s so it is so much easier to not be a person a human it is so much easier. I think it’s like a question we can ask ourselves. Is this taking me towards human-ness or robot-ness?
Because when I’m thinking of us like picking up a phone, like that’s how we’ll know is this something that’s going to be important to me? Like, we can think like is this like what a person should and what do I know?
Olivia Amitrano 57:21
It’s a silly way of phrasing it but it’s not silly because how many of us are taking pictures of a sunset instead of looking at it?
Michelle Shapiro RD 57:27
This is like I feel like the no you’re right and this is the the real work of herbalism the real work of functional nutrition is like just bringing us back to that human stuff and I think it’s so freakin funny with biohacking specifically because there’s grounding mats like all biohacking is just like making you be a person by not doing the person thing so it’s like you take you go on an airplane you take by the way I love I love those tools too. I use them all the time but so
Unknown Speaker 57:54
it’s so freakin accurate. Oh my god, please go ahead.
Michelle Shapiro RD 57:58
Because it’s like all of biohacking is finding things that work because they’re human and then making robotic versions of them like that’s what biohacking is. We’re packaging humaneness. That’s the point and that’s also when you’ll know something is accessible or not whether something is a wellness trend or not, is if it is trying to emulate the human thing or if it’s actually doing the human thing.
There’s a big difference between those and which is why Olivia I feel like your supplements are the I’m telling you and your tinctures I feel like they’re you know, this isn’t an ad for you. But it’s kind of an ad for you because I do feel like they bring in the humaneness as opposed to push away the humaneness, or try to fix things for us, as opposed to us taking accountability and fixing them for ourselves.
So there’s like, that’s a big part of all of this too, is that it’s got to be so unfortunately, the health piece has to be on a person. I wish I could just take my client’s pain I would in a non joking way, take my client’s pain on to myself if I knew how to fix it and they didn’t I would just take it do it myself and then do it but it’s it’s not possible without that person reconnecting and experiencing
Olivia Amitrano 59:08
the medicine is giving them the tools to sit with that pain. That’s that’s really the medicine, right? It’s like being able to say, Hey, I see your pain, right? Validating and I think you do that so well with your clients of like, oh, you’re having panic attacks. I know what that feels like. And it sucks.
But also not not exactly, but not saying oh my god, I’m so sorry. Like, how can I it’s just being like witnessing right witnessing is number one witnessing is the most important part of human relationship and something that I think is a reason why we’re not quite as adept at experiencing human relationship as we once were because a lot of us now there’s a lot of codependency that I see in the world and maybe this was always that way.
But there’s a lot of like, I want to fix it for you. I want to take it on for you. I want to you know feel that for you. Whereas when we look at animals like yesterday, I did equine therapy with horses and there was no There was no touching them, there was no riding them, there was no nothing It was being in the paddock with them as they were regulating their nervous systems and regulating alongside them and just witnessing each other and just being with each other.
And that was enough because not only were the horses healing us in the sense of, Wow, thank you for being in relationship with me, thank you for being present and showing me that it’s okay to be present, thank you for being a mirror to my internal state and helping me to get to your level, essentially. But it’s also these were horses that were rescued and traumatized by humans.
So we were very much healing them in a way by showing them that we were safe humans to be around that weren’t going to try to touch them or hurt them or cross their boundaries, right? So it’s just witnessing, that’s the biggest part of human relationship. That’s a big aspect to working with someone one on one. And then it’s saying, I see that you’re struggling with this and asking questions.
Could you sit with that for for five more seconds, when it comes up? What do you think, could help you in the moment be with that emotion, you know, giving them a printout that has a list of all these different emotions written out so that when they’re in that mode, they can look at that list and say, Oh, actually, I’m feeling shame. I’m feeling loneliness, rather than just I’m anxious, right.
And they can start to unpack those emotions, it’s referring them out to practitioners who facilitate breathwork therapists, people who teach meditation people who teach embodiment and emotional regulation practices, giving them those tools and resources to be with the pain that is very much underlying and driving a part of that chronic condition, as you also work on them with the tangible physical things. So it’s, it’s really complex. And the more that I grow in my field, the more I realize that so much of it is the being with ourselves and the nervous system regulation piece.
Michelle Shapiro RD 1:01:47
That’s the lesson I learned a long time ago is that the whole game, like we’re saying of the humaneness is tolerance of discomfort. That’s like a lot of it. It’s like a lot of it and then how do you soothe from that, not through not experiencing discomfort, but by reconnecting with yourself with nature and all those things. That’s the whole game.
I also have to tell you, because you mentioned horses for my client who’s listening. So my clients horse, she rides horses, like as a hobby, she herself is a therapist, and she’s amazing, but her horse had an injury, I just have to tell you this. And so it can only do this specific type of show. And the show that it does, it does this fancy foot stuff. And then it’s like the it’s just the cutest thing I’ve ever heard in my life.
And they like compare it with other ponies and they’re like, go to this one spot. And then like do this with their foot, and like show off and I think I forgot what it’s called. And I’m kicking myself for not knowing but it still is the cutest thing I’ve ever heard in my life. They’re like, and her her horse likes to show off a horse Boone likes to show off and he’ll do like fancy stuff when he’s not supposed to be doing it because he likes to be like, like, I’m so fancy. It’s the cutest thing in the entire world.
Olivia Amitrano 1:02:52
That is so absolutely amazing. And like, it’s so funny animals, these horses they have such personalities it’s so healing to be in relationship with them and see them be themselves and goofy and have these things and be like oh, they’re doing this and they don’t care like they except themselves they don’t have this ego or like there’s just god there’s so much medicine and being around animals and I love this person’s horse and
3 Kitchen Herbs to Begin Your Herbal Healing Journey
Michelle Shapiro RD 1:03:13
I love Boone so cute. She will love this. So Olivia taking it back because I knew of course we did the thing where we went in the places of the like deepest parts of our psyche. Of course we did on the most like super tangible level when it comes to herbs and now understanding the baseline work people need to do three give me like three kitchen, herbs that you would call like your kitchen herbalism that people can start to use that are maybe more universally accepted on an energetic level, and what people can start to think about you might have mentioned them already, and you just want to mention them again. But
Benefits of Ginger for PMS and Hormonal Health
Olivia Amitrano 1:03:49
yeah, no, I 100% So I’m gonna hit you with ginger number one, probably my favorite herbs in the Materia Medica and in the kitchen Materia Medica because again, I think we feel like we need to go and get these super foods and yatta yatta and you can just go get ginger at your grocery store. Ginger I love because not only is it a digestive aid for someone who has cold, sluggish digestion where food is just kind of sitting in the stomach there’s chronic constipation. On a Western level.
We have studies showing that ginger is a prokinetic agent and can help with gut motility can help with some of the underlying causes of chronic constipation. Ginger is also antimicrobial so if perhaps your chronic constipation is in part contributed to by SIBO, something like that. It can help to maintain a healthier terrain a healthier balance of microbes in the gut which also will help with that chronic constipation.
But it’s also going to help with digestion and digestive fire and my favorite way to use it is that essentially when you are in the week leading up to your period, I love to do a pretty intense regimen of daily ginger tea
Michelle Shapiro RD 1:04:54
and you’re talking about literally boiling ginger. Is there any specific way you’re telling people to do it? Tell us I’d like to make a pretty strong infusion. So
Olivia Amitrano 1:05:01
you don’t, you don’t want to, I mean, you could you could just cut up some ginger slices, pour some boiled water, let it steep that would be like a light infusion of ginger tea but I like a really strong medicinal dose. So what I would do is I would cut up some ginger like a knob of ginger into slices and I’d maybe smash them a little bit with the end of the knife to get some of those juices out and kind of break it open.
And then I would put those ginger slices into a pot of water. I bring that pot to a boil or nice roaring boil and then I’d lower it to simmer once it’s boiling and cover that pot and let it simmer for like 20 ish minutes until you get that really golden strong liquid. It’s going to be strong, it’s gonna be fiery, if you’re sensitive to spice you know, kind of work your way up and see what feels good and definitely add a little bit of honey as well to kind of quell that spice and make it a little bit more palatable.
You don’t have to just chug raw ginger tea, make it delicious, make it soothing, make it beautiful. So that’s how I like to do ginger tea. Ginger baths are amazing to to just like warm the kidneys and in Chinese medicine, they would do ginger tea soaked towels essentially on the kidneys on the back to actually help with the warmth of that meridian. So you can use it topically too, but just internally is enough.
Michelle Shapiro RD 1:06:11
Ginger also is something that I know in IR Veda is something that can work with basically all three doshas, it’s an herb that can it can be heating, and not that it can be cooling. But it’s something where if you have inflammation and fire from inflammation that can also help with inflammation, which is interesting, because it’s also hot. Tell me about that as it applies in herbalism, or TCM two.
Olivia Amitrano 1:06:32
Yeah, I think it’s one of those things where when someone says, Well, isn’t ginger going to be too hot for me to heating for me, in general, as long as you are consuming ginger within the daytime, this is something that I’m glad you brought up. Because it’s important to mention, you don’t want to consume ginger at night.
You don’t want to drink that ginger tea before your period at 10pm. Or even in like the late afternoon. Because we have the cycle of the day right where your digestive fire is strongest when the sun is at the highest point in the sky. So anything anytime you’re consuming like a warming medicinal like ginger, you want to kind of consume it in line with that daytime period when you would want to be cultivating you’re young.
And then at night you want to be cultivating your yen or your fluids, right so that you can calm and you can nourish and you can have a really beautiful deep sleep where you’re not kind of agitated and hot. So at nighttime, you would want to maybe make a tea like american ginseng, for example. That’s a really beautiful Yin build. No ginseng is in the name but it’s not like Panax ginseng, which is stimulating and hot and energizing American Ginseng is getting building and restorative and adaptogenic. And you can have that tea at night.
Or again a nervine tea, a chamomile tea, a calendula tea, something that’s nourishing, but because the tenant of Chinese medicine is that your warmth, your young, your chi is your everything. Everybody needs to build their warmth. Everybody needs to build their y’all especially when you look at classical Chinese medicine because there’s there’s levels to this too, right.
And like traditional Chinese medicine, TCM is a standardized textbook system that the CCP created so that TCM could be more marketable in the Western world and so that Chinese patent formulas could be made in China and there could be profit there. So I’m not saying that TCM I love TCM really, I am not a licensed acupuncturist, I did not go through school to become a doctor of oriental medicine.
But I did study TCM within my herbal program, and I’m doing continuing education programs studying classical Chinese medicine now. So it’s definitely something that I incorporate into my lens of how I view the world. I incorporate Chinese herbs, it’s part of my education. But classical Chinese medicine is different. Like that’s, that’s the old original Chinese medicine that you had to learn from a lineage and you had to learn from like practicing with someone for years, there was not a textbook, there were no patent formulas.
There were kind of it’s from the Shang Hanlon, which is the original book of Chinese medicine. And the classical system doesn’t even have organs. It doesn’t even have the liver meridian. It doesn’t even like literally there’s no such thing. It’s your Senshi like your your digestive fire, your ability to transform food into fluids, and your warmth and your heat. And it’s your fluids.
And it’s Is this person depleted of fluids? Is this person, does this person have enough Senshi to transform food into fluids? Where’s the leakage happening? stop the leak. It’s much more complicated than that. But I’m just trying to condense it.
Michelle Shapiro RD 1:09:29
Of course. Yeah. Just trying to condense 10,000 years of information. It’s a 30 seconds. We’ll do it. It’s fine, though. But
Olivia Amitrano 1:09:36
it’s essentially like everyone needs to worry about their warmth. You got to stay warm, exactly warm. You got to build your warmth. So that’s my ginger is so beautiful for everyone. And that’s why also in China, like kids are not eating cold cereal for breakfast with milk. They’re eating like warm porridge and warm cooked foods and they’re not like, and they’re like leagues ahead of us. I mean, these kids are freaking smart.
So it’s like they’re doing Something right there’s this whole thing around warm foods and protecting your kidneys and not wearing crop tops. And like always having something warm on your stomach and your back like wearing a hat. That’s like a big energy point. These things matter, we want to keep that warm because as you get older, you get colder.
As you get older, your digestive fire lessens, you get dry, you get atrophy, your your joints get tighter, things get drier and tighter, you want to preserve your warmth and your ability to make new fluids from the food that you eat.
Michelle Shapiro RD 1:10:28
And the warmth also relates to all aspects of life all aspects of energy. It’s it’s a, it’s very essential. And that’s why also like, we’re so likely to be depleted of heat. That’s why I think ginger is so acceptable for so many people, because most of us are losing heat as time goes on. And we’re losing heat really quickly.
So it’s really important that we keep replenishing. Absolutely. And ginger can help us do that. All right, that was a, you actually touched on other herbs in it.
Benefits of Cinnamon for Blood Sugar and Insulin Sensitivity
Olivia Amitrano 1:11:00
But we’ll do one more quick rundown in the last two. So the other one is cinnamon, I think that everyone can use again, more warmth, more digestive support more of that, like cinnamon is also like this spiciness that helps to build like your zest and your love for life kind of like that warmth of like I’m excited about life on an energetic level. And then on a physical level, we’re all gonna have dessert, right?
We’re all gonna like have some cookies and some sugar and cinnamon is a great way to protect your metabolic health in the lens of having a balanced insulin sensitivity. It’s incredible to it’s amazing. And I think it’s just such a great longevity food in terms of preventing pre diabetes, diabetes as you get older. And just something that’s like a wonderful tool, you can have some cinnamon tea before you have dessert, right?
On the most basic level, you can add cinnamon into your smoothies to help prevent too much of a blood sugar response. If you’re having a smoothie with a whole bunch of bananas and whatever. And maybe you you have a little bit of metabolic dysfunction. It’s a great therapeutic. But it’s something that I think everybody can benefit from. It’s such a wonderful foods, so many different poly phenols and phytochemicals.
Benefits of Oat Straw for Stress Management
And then lastly, I would say Oatstraw. That’s something that I mentioned earlier, it is hard to find it gluten free. I’m working on finding like a specific source because people ask me all the time since oats are so often cross contaminated. So I’m trying to find a source that that does the testing, but essentially Oatstraw like the grassy part of the oat plant, because there’s so many different parts, right there’s like the grain which is what we cook and eat with which is also medicinal, you’re still getting like the nourishment from Mama Oat.
But there’s also the milky oats seed when the when the seed is in its milking stage where there’s like that white residue, you can actually pick those and tincture them and create this very, very what we call trovo. Restorative essentially restores the function of nerves and organs that have been damaged from years of stress.
So it’s a neuro trophic restorative herb, and so milky seed when it’s tinctured can be very good for someone who’s absolutely been their nerves are fried, someone who’s been through years of stress or years of addiction or whatever it is where their adrenals are just zapped, their HPA axis is just zapped, but more so Oatstraw is like the gateway into medicine where it’s like it’s just a nutritive, it’s not going to hurt you, you’re not going to overdose on it, it’s not going to be contraindicated for somebody.
It’s just a mineral rich plant that is packed with the vitamins, magnesium, calcium, all these different minerals are great for growing kids who are making new bone cells like an incredible tool for nourishment and for stress protection because of those minerals. And it’s just, it’s like you think about eating a salad for like the minerals in the leafy greens. This is like drinking a salad but it’s warm, and it’s great.
Michelle Shapiro RD 1:13:40
You don’t have to work through the cold. You don’t have to work through the coldness of the salad, then that’s the problem with snacks. I
Olivia Amitrano 1:13:46
never eat a cold salad. I think people are like, but wait, you’re having a smoothie, but we’re having a salad and I’m like, I know I’m trying to teach you guys the tenants of Chinese medicine but also be realistic in my life where I’m like, it’s a really hot day, I’m gonna have a salad I’m craving a salad.
Michelle Shapiro RD 1:13:59
If you’re like, it’s lovely to know something and totally different implemented. And I will also say I’m very vata like I’m very cold. And so like attracts like, unfortunately. So I I love smoothies and salads, but they don’t love me back. But I do love them. But it’s again, wood that we think about even something like that, the humaneness of it, what’s the likelihood I’m going to be heading out to the field and getting a pound of each different type of vegetable.
Like there’s, you know, do I know factually again, that I’m going to enjoy this and also at the same time, it’s taking me away from my humaneness? Possibly yes, and I think about those kinds of things too, like the likelihood that again, I would be cultivating these vast different vegetables that come from all different regions in the world into this one salad and then you know, always bring it back.
Olivia Amitrano 1:14:47
We’re also using that modern edge that we make really nutrient diverse and dense meal so and lettuce in the summer grows like a weed pretty much everywhere you are right like if you put lettuce in your garden in the summer and you keep it mostly in the shade. You’re gonna be able to get a lot of leads each day like that thing grows fast. So when I grow lettuce in my garden, sometimes I don’t know what to do with all of it.
So if it’s seasonally appropriate, you know, in Chinese medicine, we say that the climate and the plants that grow each season are growing to sort of perfectly balance us in response to the environment. So when it’s really hot outside, we’re going to have more greens growing, when it’s really cold outside, we’re gonna have Yin, nourishing, warming, root vegetables that grow underneath the ground and help us to store more of our energy in our chi.
Michelle Shapiro RD 1:15:29
Beautiful. And also, yeah, I love salads. And I also love root vegetables. We have to know there’s a season for all of us, there’s a moment for all of us. And to balance this kind of humaneness with our interactions, the environment. And to sum it all up, we just need to be human and feel things and love each other and experience life together. I think that’s the that’s kind of the name of the game with all this health stuff.
Olivia Amitrano 1:15:57
Yeah, yeah. And I don’t necessarily have an answer for like, my preaching is about, we’re disconnected. And that’s our problem, and blah, blah. And I think a lot of it does start with the soil and how we’re treating our earth and the pesticides that we’re spraying and the glyphosate and our relationship with Earth. I think that’s a great place to start.
And then take it to the relationship with yourself and to others and but it’s really a daily practice of learning how to see others as not other and how to be in relationship and how to be a good steward of the earth and your life and your own emotions. And it’s a daily thing. It’s there’s no answer. It’s a lifelong practice.
Michelle Shapiro RD 1:16:35
And it’s not perfect for anyone but I think that’s the question we can start asking ourselves, is this making me more robot more human? That might be a way to go instead of should I take this fancy supplement or gut cleanse?
Start asking those questions first before we start doing that, so I think it’s really important, Olivia, you’re a magical being that brings light to so many other people. If people aren’t following you, which is extremely unlikely. Can you tell them how to find you where to follow you how to work with you how to get your beautiful supplements tell us
Olivia Amitrano 1:17:06
You’re killing me Smalls. It’s @organic_olivia
Michelle Shapiro RD 1:17:10
Don’t forget to start out so yeah, Instagram, you’ll find her yeah, that’s
Olivia Amitrano 1:17:15
like my personal Instagram where I just kind of share more of my daily life and stuff and a lot of my recent insulin resistance and fitness journey. And then my brand Instagram is at shop organic Olivia that’s where we share a lot of our herbal content, meet the herbs, DIY herbal recipes, information about our formulas, all that good stuff. My website is organic olivia.com That is where you can shop my apothecary of formulas and my podcast is what’s the juice podcast.