Jennifer: We have, like I said, a great guest today. If you were here just a little bit earlier, coming in ... Hi, Deborah ... then you know that she has really saved me from being in a pickle. I'm going to read her bio. I always like to read bios of my guest because I don't want to get anything wrong. I also want to let you guys know what a wonderful person she is. Our guest today is Kami McBride, and she is the author of The Herbal Kitchen. She is a clinical herbalist graduate of the Southwest School of Botanical Studies, and has developed and taught an herbal curriculum for the Complementary and Alternative Medicine Department at the University of California of San Francisco School of Nursing. You see that's why I really wanted her here, because she is so much more qualified than I am to talk about the stuff. I love to share what I'm doing with you, but Kami is going to really give us some authority and let us know exactly what we can be doing with herbs.
Over the past 25 years, she has helped thousands of families learn to use herbs and natural remedies so they could be more self reliant in their health care needs. She is the author of Herbal Kitchen Remedy Solutions, an online course that demystifies the world of herbal medicine and empowers people to use their herb garden for herbal self care in the home to prevent illness and take care of common ailments. Wow, yes. She is an expert. You can find her at livingawareness.com. We are just going to bring her on.
I just want to say, really quick before I do that though, I have my notes in front of me. I'm talking to you on this camera, and then I'm also monitoring your comments down here on a different device. If I'm looking all around, I just want you know that I'm really looking at you guys and making sure we're going okay. I just want to make sure that you know that, because I know that when I'm looking at a video, and somebody's not looking straight into the camera, I'm going, "What's wrong with this person?" I want you to know what I'm doing.
Kami: Hey, Jennifer. Good to be here.
Jennifer: Thank you so ...
Kami: So excited, Jen.
Jennifer: Thank you so much. You are just like a life saver. I am so thrilled that you are here. We have a bunch of things to cover, so I'm just going to jump into it if that's okay with you.
Kami: Let's go. I'm ready.
Jennifer: Okay, so can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your mission, for people who do not know who you are?
Kami: Yeah. Well, so when I was 19 actually, I developed a really severe side effect from taking a prescription medication and I had to have surgery. It was a really big deal at that time in my life, and it really opened my eyes that medications have side effects. I started, at a very young age, to pay attention to the fact that all of my elders were on medication. I actually started reading that little paper that has all those little side effects, you know what I mean?
Jennifer: Oh, yeah.
Kami: If you're going to take a medication, you actually want to read that. I asked this question. Isn't there another way? It just put me ... I started studying herbal medicine when I was 23 years old. I was just really, really passionate to help people avoid what had happened to me, of just not even having an idea of how over-the-counter or prescription medications can disrupt your so many things. I've just been so passionate about this, really my whole life, to help empower other people to have access to everything, meaning sometimes we need medication, but we want to put everything on the table. We want to use herbs and natural remedies to take care of the small stuff.
Jennifer: Yes, exactly.
Kami: Keep medications for when we really need them.
Jennifer: Yeah, so this would be a really good time to say, if you really do need to seek medical help, to please do that, and that we are talking about this for informational purposes. Please, if you are sick or not feeling well, please go and see a doctor. We are talking about prevention here, and then we are also talking about how to curb some symptoms of viruses and whatnot. If you are really, really ill where you need to seek medical attention, then please do that immediately.
Let me just go ahead and ask you if you could tell us ... You alluded to this a little bit, you know, with the first question I asked you, but what are the benefits of using herbs for medicinal purposes. I mean, there has to be a ton of them. I can think of four or five right off the bat. Can you tell us, because I know that you have been in this like almost all of your life.
Kami: Right. Well the herbs ... Like again, I'm really big in getting diagnoses and if you're on medication, it's not a bad thing, but to really look at if you have something going on, see if there's an herb that can help you. Also, what the herbs do best is they help with prevention. If you learn ... I'm really big on helping you learn how to use your common kitchen herbs and spices to prevent illness before it starts, so being able to have an awareness of when something's maybe a little off, you know, when you just don't feel quite right, and being able to use your kitchen spices to alleviate something before it begins. Prevention is the biggest thing for me when it comes to using your culinary herbs especially.
Jennifer: Yes. Okay, so if somebody is overwhelmed and they just don't know where to start, you know, could you take us back to baby steps in terms of starting to use herbs, and starting to use them the best way?
Kami: Right. Well, it is overwhelming. When I started studying 30 years ago, there were like four herb books. Now there's like 400. You go online and it's like everybody's talking about herbs. It is, it's overwhelming to sift through all of the conflicting information, really, and so I do. I like to go way back to the beginning. Instead of looking to suppress symptoms. You know, most of us were raised with a symptom suppressive mind-set. You have this problem, you take this pill, get rid of it. I want to go way back to like using all your herbs and spices every day as part of your food. That is one of the best pillars of self-care that you can do. That's a very, very beginning place.
What I'm talking about is learning the medicinal uses of herbs and spices that you already have in your kitchen, and that you already have a connection with, because you're going to learn more. Instead of trying to learn all the new herbs that you've never heard of, like whatever, I want you to ... Where you can start is with one or two herbs or spices that you already totally love. Like do you love garlic, or do you love basil in your spaghetti? What are a couple herbs and spices that you're totally connected with already, and then really learn about those.
Jennifer: That leads me to my next question, because you're talking about garlic, okay? I eat garlic because I like the taste. How is that different from using it medicinally? I mean, are they the same? Is there overlap? How do you use it for one and not the other, or do you? Do you use it for both? How does that work?
Kami: Okay, I love that question. That's my favorite question, because the thing is that all of the herbs and spices in your kitchen right now, whether it just be black pepper or garlic, they're culinary. You use them for flavor, like you just said you love the flavor. You love the taste, but that's not really why they're there. I mean, they're there for flavor, but really those herbs and spices made it into your kitchen because they're carminative herbs. That's carminative, C-A-R-M-I-N-A-T-I-V-E. Carminative herbs and spices, what they do is they help you digest your food, so even though they are culinary flavor herbs, they are medicinal. That is what is so cool about really getting to know your spice rack herbs that you love, is that when you use them, you are using herbal medicine every day in every meal.
Jennifer: Wow. Yeah, that's great. Can you tell us, what if I don't like garlic? What if there is ... I mean I do, so I can't imagine, but I'm sure there are some people out there that, you know, they don't like garlic or pepper or whatever. Does that mean that's, you know, they're going to have a side effect if they go ahead and put it in their food or use it, what are your thoughts on that?
Kami: Right. This is where I go back to, find the herbal spice that you have an emotional connection with, like is it cinnamon on your oatmeal? Is it cloves when your mom used to make cookies? Is it the dill in your grandma's potato salad? What is the herb or spice that you actually feel and emotional or a heritage connection to? Even better. Like does your grandma make mole with a little bit of clove in it? What are the herbs and spices that are your heritage connection, that maybe you grew up with, and then learn about that. The thing is is that those herbs and spices ... See, what they do is they help you to digest your food, and that is one of the biggest components of benefit from using herbs and spices, and the medicinal use of it.
What you do every day is that you have to turn your food into you. I mean, you're into growing your own food, right? We're all into healthy. We spend a lot of energy growing that food, harvesting it, processing it, drying it, freeze dry ... like all the cool things you do, the amazing art that you are reclaiming for people, helping people, it takes a lot of work, right?
Jennifer: Yeah, it does.
Kami: But it's cool. It's fun. I wouldn't trade it for anything. However, the job is not done there. You now have to take that food and turn it into you. You have to digest it. Digestion takes so much energy. It's huge, and it uses your energy every day. The thing about the herbs and spices in your kitchen cabinet, they help you to digest your food, so this daunting task of turning your garden into you, you have these helper spices that help. They're actually the bridge to digesting the nutrition in your food.
Jennifer: Wow. That makes so much sense to me, because one of the things that's hard for me to figure out is that, well, there are multiple herbs and spices that will do the same things. You know, they will help with the same ailments or whatever, but that makes so much sense when you're saying, "Well, pick the ones that taste good to you, because those are the ones that are going to help you." That makes so much sense. It just shows you the big picture of God's design, too, because it's a natural thing. That is really ... I hadn't really thought about it quite like that, but that is really true. Then, turning them into you. I love that.
Kami: That's your body speaking.
Kami: When you're attracted to something, because there's so much herbal medicine out there, it's like, "Oh, I should take this." I mean, do you have like, "Oh, I know this is good for me. I should take this," right?
Jennifer: Mm-hmm, yeah.
Kami: What you want to do is go for what you love and what you're attracted to because that is your body speaking and communicating with the earth and the plants.
Jennifer: Yes, like I said, that's an 'aha' moment for me, because that really does make a lot of sense. Okay, so can you tell us, you know, what if we can't grow our own herbs, the difference between fresh and dried, and what that would mean if we used one or the other.
Kami: Yeah. Fresh herbs are incredible if you can get them, if you have them, you know, especially if you can grow something that's perennial that you can have all year. It just really depends on where you live. If you have fresh, great. If you don't have fresh, dried herbs, especially recently dried herbs, herbs that are not older than a year, spices that are not older than two years old, are totally, totally fine and highly medicinal. There's great resources of where you can get those, like Mountain Rose Herbs. They're both as effective.
Jennifer: Okay. Now I know a specialty of yours is using culinary herbs, because you've already got a lot of those in your kitchen. Could you expand on that a little bit and tell us, you know, what are some of the possibilities?
Kami: Right. You want to really realize that those herbs and spices are there for more than flavor, that they're there because they're carminative. What you really want to know is that you need a carminative at every meal. Okay, so just take that note. Take that note. See, this is the problem with the junk food, the fast food, the packaged food, is they add chemicals for flavor. Again, the tradition all over the world is that the herbs and spices are the bridge to your nutrition. When you don't have them in your food, then you know what? You get a lot more tired after you eat that food, because you didn't have any help. The herbs and spices, what they are is they're the gift of energy to you, because they free up your energy. Every culture, ever holistic medicine culture in the world teaches us that we need to eat lighter if we don't feel good, right?
Kami: That's because digestion uses so much energy. We know that. Let's just help digestion at every meal.
Jennifer: Wow. That's great. I love that advice. Can you tell us a little bit, because you're my mentor in this field. Like I said, I was telling a story before we actually started this show about what kind of a person Kami is, because I was in a pickle about this show, and I asked her really last minute, "Hey, can you come on?" And she was like, "Oh, sure. No problem," and here she is. Can you tell us a little bit more about how you teach this, because I know you have a class all about culinary herbs. Can you tell us about that class, and how you teach people this?
Kami: Yeah, so my online course is Herbal Kitchen Remedy Solutions. Actually, enrollment is open right this minute. Yeah, what I do is I start you step-by-step, and so it's about your connection and relation to the plants. Then it's about the techniques, like learning how to actually make teas, make honeys, make different techniques. Then, it's really about knowing ... getting it out. My favorite kitchen gadget is a lazy Susan. I really teach you how to get your herbs and spices out of your kitchen cabinet and onto your table so that you turn your garden into your pharmacy on your kitchen table. This is about creating a kitchen culture that is steeped in prevention, and that the herbal medicine just is part of what you do all the time.
Jennifer: Yeah. Well, if somebody wanted to take this class, do they need like special tools? Do they need to go and buy a bunch of stuff? Can you explain a little bit about that?
Kami: Yeah. I've been teaching herbal medicine for 25 years. One of the biggest things that I really focus on is making it easy and simple, because at first, it was really complicated for me. I've gotten really good at refining things so that you just need ... You need your stove. You need your water. You need some honey. You can do this. I've created this course so it's the most simple way. Really, it's focused on, it also needs to be yummy, right? It also needs to be done in a way that your kids like it, and you can get your kids onboard, because what we're doing, we're trying to raise up the next generation so that they can be health literate and not have to start from scratch like we're all having to do, right? It's just who they are and who they grow up with, so I have a really big focus on getting our kids involved in this whole process.
Jennifer: Yes. I love the fact that you don't have to go out and get a chemistry set to start doing this. That is really a plus, because I mean, there's a lot of information out there. You know, there's a lot of things that people want you to buy here and there. I know that when you're first starting something, you just kind of want to dip your toe in and see how it goes, so I really love that that, you know, you start just with what you have. That is great. Do you have a favorite recipe? I know that you talked about a favorite recipe that you would like to share, so is there one that you could tell us about?
Kami: Okay, yes. We're going for simple here, super simple. My book is The Herbal Kitchen. I'm the recipe queen. I have over 250 recipes in there to use from your spice rack. What I like to do is, again, I'm really focused on digestion, because again, more than 60% of our immune cells are clustered in our digestive tract. If we want to talk about building immunity, we focus on digestion, so I have a really good, morning herbal tea that wakes up the digestive tract in a really gentle way for your morning meal.
What you do is you get two cups of water, and you get a half a teaspoon of cumin, and a half a teaspoon of coriander, straight out of your kitchen cupboard, and a half teaspoon of fennel, fennel seed. You put that in the water. You bring it to a boil with the lid on. You turn it off, and you let it sit for 10, 15 minutes. Then you warm it, and you drink that. What it does is it activates the digestive tract so that your first meal, you will be energized after you eat it, because you're going to have all your, you just primed your pump. It's a great morning wake-up tea.
Jennifer: Yeah, you're talking about, this whole time, prevention and actually building up your immune system. If somebody, maybe they were sick four or five times last year, and they really want to be proactive this year with the winter is coming, because if you're watching this and you're overseas or something, but we're in the States and winter is on its way. What can people do specifically to build up their immune system?
Kami: Again, focusing on healthy digestion and supporting digestion, because again, our immune system is clustered in the digestive tract. If you find that, you know, you have digestive upset, or if you're developing mucous, eight times out of ten, developing mucous or congestion is a result of not digesting our food well. Then it putrefies and forms into mucous and snot.
Kami: You want to avoid that, so you absolutely want to start having a carminative with every meal, and drinking ... That's why I gave this recipe, because it supports the digestive ... You know, we're used to quick fixes. Take this for that, but if you just do these little digestive support tools every day, it adds up over time. If you support your digestion every day, day in and day out, then you're going to support where all those immune cells are clustered, and really have a much more effective and capable immune system.
Jennifer: Could you give us kind of a picture, kind of an idea of what the common herbs that you work with so that people can say, "Yeah, I've got that one. I've got that one. I've got that one," and you know, really drive home the fact that you don't have to go out and buy a whole bunch of stuff. What you can work with is really what you probably already have in your kitchen.
Kami: Okay, that's a great ... You nailed it. You've so nailed it, because again, you go online, and there's a lot of herbal supplements to buy, aren't there?
Jennifer: Yes, there are.
Kami: This is about saving money and really doing it yourself, and doing it yourself at such a higher quality. If you go over to your kitchen cupboard right now, and look in there, and those are the herbs and spices. Ginger and cinnamon. You can make a tea with those two spices right in your cupboard. They're not only going to help you with digestion, but they're going to help prevent cold. The other thing about all the spices in your cabinet is they're highly, highly antimicrobial and they help to prevent colds. Isn't that awesome?
Jennifer: Oh, yeah. Yeah. Missy is saying that she loves the garlic and honey recipes, so just, I do too. I think that garlic ... Last year, like I said, I've been really, you know, delving into alternative medicine and working with herbs. I think, last year, garlic really helped me, because everybody in my family, except for me ... Knock on wood, right? ... was sick multiple times. I was not.
Kami: Good job.
Jennifer: I really think there was something there. You know, because you always, when you're doing something new, you always try and work on yourself a little bit, you know, before you administer it to your children, right? That's what I was doing last year, and I really, really did notice that, and I was thrilled. I just couldn't believe it. I was like, "Where has this been all my life? It's so simple," right?
You've been doing this for so long. You were doing this before it was sort of in vogue, because like we were just talking about, everybody's writing about this now. You were doing this when it wasn't as popular. I know you talked a little bit, you know, about your history and what happened to you when you were younger. Could you just tell us a little bit more about your story?
Kami: Yeah, again, when I started getting interested in this, there wasn't a reflection in the world, so it's so fantastic that there's a reflection in the world, that this is normal and natural, and just how we live. I remember, I had just graduated from college. My dad got me this really, a job basically, in the '80s, I was going to make $14 an hour with benefits, and I was like, "Sorry. I'm going on a backpacking trip where I'm going to identify the edible plants for three months." I didn't take the job. My dad didn't talk to me for six months. My grandfather sat me down and said, "You have a college education. What are you doing?"
I just couldn't help myself, so this whole thing of like follow your heart, follow your passion, follow what wells up in your being, it is so true. I was scolded kind of at every turn by my family, but I just couldn't help but follow my connection to the plants. That's really the wisdom for ... You know, I didn't know that I was doing that at that time. I hadn't heard, "Follow your bliss," yet, but to allow yourself to be called by something and to follow that calling, even if people around you are not supporting you in that. I was called by the plants. I feel them. I love them. I love the plants so much.
Jennifer: Yeah. Yeah, my boys and I talk about that, about them being alive and living. There's so much truth in that. I have a dad like that, too, so I know where you're coming from. Can you tell us where to find out more about you, because it's just been wonderful to have you here. You're such a wealth of knowledge. I'm so grateful that you were able to scramble and get this together. Could you tell people where to find you, and your website, where they can connect with you on social media?
Kami: Yeah. Thank you. I also just want to say I love what you're doing. I love the revitalization of these home skills, because it's in the home is where culture begins. We change the culture when we do this work. People can find me at livingawareness.com. Www.livingawareness.com, and also my course, HerbalRemedySolutions.com where I can help you easily learn how to use your kitchen herbs and spices to take care of everyday ailments and prevent illness. I'm just so grateful that there is a movement now, a home wellness culture that is really taking hold, because it's what we need.
Jennifer: Yes. I just totally agree. Thank you so much for joining us, Kami.
Kami: Thanks, Jennifer.
Jennifer: Okay, so guys, before I let you go, I just want to remind you, if you had watched last week, we talked about my new dehydrating book that just came out. It's Dehydrating Charts and Basic Methods. If you go to SelfReliantSchool.com/dry food, you can pick up a copy. That is something I worked quite a while on. It actually has a conversion chart between dehydrated food and fresh food. That's something that I have not seen before. I did all those conversions myself. I'm hoping that that will help you out when you're dehydrating.
I want you to know that, like I said, Kami McBride was here, and we have a special link if you would like to know more about her, and what she does. She actually has a free mini-course. You can go to SelfReliantSchool.com/kitchenspices, and you'll be taken right there. You can take her course, and you can see what she's all about, and learn a lot because that free course has a ton of content in it. That is something that I have gone through myself, and I highly recommend that you do the same, because that will give you a great start to learning about herbs.
If you are joining us in the middle of the show, or did show us in the middle of the show, because we're kind of at the end, now, right, my name is Jennifer. I am from SelfReliantSchool.com. We have been talking to Kami McBride. She is from Living Awareness, and we have a special link that will be in the show notes so that you can get her free course, which, like I said, is awesome. I am so grateful that she was able to come to talk to us, today.
Remember, being self reliant is not about being selfish, and it's not just about you, it's about taking care of yourself so that you can take care of the ones that you love. Take care until we talk again.
Kami's FREE Course
Learn More About My New Book Dehydrating: Charts and Basic Methods