A Recipe for Health

This time of year, you’re probably busy adding cinnamon to everything and decking halls left and right with boughs of holly. But did you know that many herbs all around us (like cinnamon and holly) can be and have been used as types of natural medicine for over a thousand years? This time of year especially, with all of our holiday parties, family get-togethers, and community functions, we could all benefit from the ability to find natural medicine all around us. A great place to start is by investing in yourself by investing in local, certified naturally grown or organic produce like at the Woodside Market. Don’t forget to check out the website for updated hours so you can enjoy all the local goodies for your holiday get-togethers this winter. Another great way to stay in tip-top shape this winter so you can stay happy and healthy for all those caroling competitions and family functions is by heeding the advice from an accomplished Naturopathic Doctor. Check out my conversation with Dr. Leah Hollon of Richmond Natural Medicine below for more information.

WFVA: Thank you so much Dr. Hollon for joining us in this discussion today. How would you best describe naturopathy for individuals who may be new to the idea?

Dr. Leah Hollon: Well, as naturopathic doctors, we focus on the whole body, with a preventive approach to your health. We work on and with what’s best for the patient. We often find that a combination of many methods typically works best. It’s like finding the perfect recipe for each patient as an individual – what ingredients and methods work best for them. And even though a recipe may have been handed down over the generations, it’s not always the right fit for each chef in each part of the world.  We recognize that each patient is more than just what can be seen physically. They’re also interacting in the world on emotional and spiritual levels. We work to connect to all of the levels in our approach to patient care. We move forward from a space that embraces the inherent healing that people have within themselves. We’re here to be the person that helps them move through different phases of life. We help people, through many different means, remember who they really are and who they really want to be on the other side of illness. 

WFVA: Is winter a particularly important time to take a preventative/natural approach to health and wellness? If so, why?

Dr. Leah Hollon: There are really unique things that come up in the winter. But mostly, it’s about following the seasons, and winter, in particular, is a time of rest and inward-moving energy, despite the social calendars of winter. We are able to rejuvenate in that winter darkness. There are also certain disease states that are going to be more prominent in the winter – like bronchitis or pneumonia – and they’re usually exacerbated by doing too much during a season of calmness. Think about it from the perspective of a harvest. There isn’t much to harvest in December, January, and February. The energy can’t be spent on producing food. So why do we expect ourselves to be able to move through the world with big summer energy in the winter? 

Also, it’s important to notice the patterns of a particular family or individual. If a family or individual gets sick with the same thing around the same time every year, we can take preventative measures ahead of time.

WFVA: Great! What are a few of your favorite ways to prevent illness in the winter?

Dr. Leah Hollon: So, based on age, it definitely matters. We do notice as we become older that our immune system typically does not work quite as well. It’s not to be alarming or scary, but there are things we can do that are simple. There are a lot of different hygienic things that can be done. 

  • One of the things I like is to have a humidifier during the winter. Making sure our body doesn’t dry out too much and keeping mucosal layers lubricated gives us an extra layer of protection from colds or the flu.  
  • Have a saline spray on hand or do steam inhalations.
  • Gargle salt water. That’s an easy one. I mean, if you’re on the road traveling and there’s nothing else, there’s usually at least somewhere where you can get a salt packet and gargle. I really love gargling salt water as a health-promoting technique. It’s antimicrobial and it helps keep infections from setting in.
  • Have some downtime where you can integrate all of your different life systems. Having downtime makes a huge difference on the immune system.
  • I love helping people find ways to earth and ground themselves or even experiencing a sauna in the winter.
  • Move your body gently in the winter: take a walk, even if it’s cold and rainy, just 10 minutes to warm the body. Maybe try qi gong if you can’t go for a walk or if you want to shake things up a bit. Anything we can do to exercise the body’s systems helps fight off infection in the winter months. 
  • Keep manuka honey cough drops on hand and in your mouth – they’re antimicrobial and help keep the nasopharynx lubricated to help fight against infection. 

WFVA: If somebody is already feeling ill, what are a few things they could do to feel better?

Dr. Leah Hollon: An easy thing to do if they’ve already begun to feel poorly is to try echinacea if they have upper respiratory symptoms, GI virus, or even food poisoning! I also love warming socks and castor oil packs and then getting in a tub to warm the body or use a sauna.  We’re just trying to help the body mount an appropriate reactive defense. 

WFVA: Thank you so much for all of this incredibly dynamic and helpful information. Our last question is sort of open-ended: Is there anything else you would like us to know about naturopathy and how to use it for overall wellness?

Dr. Leah Hollon: Yeah! I think we just have to put ourselves in a little bit of perspective with history. As humans, we’ve been practicing naturopathic medicine for tens of thousands of years. We’ve been practicing this connection to nature this whole time, but in the last 100 years or so, we’ve lost this connection to nature. A lot of our experiences as natural beings have been lost. We’ve known for generations and generations how to work with our bodies to get them back to their inherent dynamic degrees of health. And in the modern age, this inherent, or intuitive, knowledge has been filtered out by our lives. But now science is showing that the things we’ve been doing over the last thousand or so years actually work. I guess, in a way, what sets us apart is that we believe in healing. We believe people can truly heal. We work to get to the root causes of why things happen: “What is your family history like?” “What are some of your beliefs and what do you continue to carry with you?” We want to know it all so we can work with and support all of the changes. 

Thank you so much again to Dr. Leah Hollon of Richmond Natural Medicine for sitting down with us to share a lot of helpful information, especially for this time of year. If you’d like more info on what she and her team of Doctors do at Richmond Natural Medicine, check out their website at: richmondnaturalmed.com

There are so many ways to treat your body kindly and practice wellness every day. And, many of them start with local and healthy ingredients like the ones you can find here at Woodside Farms. While the winter is a slower time for all, especially farms, we’re still here to help feed your families this holiday season. Swing by during our winter hours starting on December 15th:

Holiday Hours: (Dec 15th – Mar 15th)

Thurs/Fri 1-5 pm

Saturday & Sunday 10 am-2 pm

Closed Mon, Tues, & Wed

Closed Dec 23rd – Dec 27th