The Clayoquot Botanicals Blog contains articles and musings from Carmen Bell.  Read more about Carmen here.

Cleansing Guidelines

Posted: Thursday March 11th, 2010 @ 1:43pm

Many of us are feeling the need to purge the winter stores and remnants, as well as kick-start the liver to embrace the new Spring. A common mistake in this beneficial process happens when we shock the body through drastic action. Breaking patterns requires subtle determination. Be gentle and focus on the good... self-love is powerfully transformative! Below is the info sheet included in the cleanse kit, a worthy read whether you are cleansing or not.

Happy eliminations,
E.C. Bell


Compliments to you for choosing to cleanse your body of unwanted accumulations of foods, wastes and toxins. Internal cleansing of your organs helps to increase their overall performance enhancing health and longevity. Reducing the amount of collected fecal matter in the intestines provides for better assimilation of nutrients from our daily food choices.

Clayoquot Botanicals has designed this herbal cleanse to strengthen the body's own systems of detoxification and processes of elimination. The herbal formulas support the natural processes of cleansing in the specific organs, and encourage increased production of intestinal lubrication to prevent reabsorption of released wastes and toxins.

Please begin this process slowly. Avoid releasing toxins into circulation until your body is prepared to dispose of them efficiently. Fasting and purging too quickly can cause a "healing crisis" and deplete your vitality. Follow the dosage and directions on each item and place them where you will remember with routine.

It is important to work these herbs into your daily routine through consistency. The components are all of food grade, very nourishing, containing essential nutrients without harmful "scrubbing" actions. Occasionally, certain herbs do not agree with individual tastes or constitution. You should not experience intense bowel movements. Warnings and contraindications are listed and you should consult a physician for possible interactions if you are taking pharmaceutical or herbal prescriptions.

It is important not to become overly compulsive about your eating habits nor food choices. Try to maintain what is relatively normal to your daily routine & incorporate subtle shifts as opposed to dramatic change. Take realistic assessment of your usual food choices; keeping the positive & letting-go of those that you instinctually know aren't so good for you (i.e. baked goods, refined foods, animal protein everyday, too much caffeine, alcohol, sugar, or excessive anything).

Consider what portion of your diet is of cooked food & how to balance that with raw sustenance. Flours clog the pipes. During this cleanse do your best to eat very few (if any) foods with flour; and yes, this means bread, muffins, most crackers. Take this as an opportunity to indulge in a new cookbook and try different recipes. A cleanse should not be a period of punishment and denial.

If I could advise one main focus for your diet, it would be to increase the amount of enzyme rich choices & to start sprouting the beans & grains sitting in your pantry. Sprouts are unbelievable sources of enzymes & are so incredibly agreeable to digestion! Sprouting is enjoyable & rhythmic in practice, also very affordable.

Pay close attention to food combining. Understand that improperly digested foods turn toxic within the digestive system. Keep it simple, eat many greens with protein, eat greens with fats, eat greens with starches/carbs.; but don't eat them all together. Each example would be its own meal. Fruits require at least a couple hours to digest & should definitely be eaten alone. However, if you have a meal that doesn't work within these guidelines, then balance your system with more of the root tea & an extra big salad (try homemade dressings with omega oils & your favorite vinegar). Don't berate yourself if you have difficulty fitting these patterns into your lifestyle. Remember subtle changes, use each meal as an opportunity to clean the system.

Fresh juices and vegetable broths are easy to make and exceptionally beneficial to the cleansing process. Miso can be added to broths after they have simmered. Roasted veggies are super satisfying on a chilly day and also quite nourishing and cleansing. Try to use organic produce to reduce exposure to harmful pesticides: artichokes, asparagus, beans, beets, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, cucumber, celery, daikon, dandelion greens and roots, endive, corn, peas, peppers, kale, lettuce, okra, sprouts, onions, garlic, parsley, parsnips, radishes, spinach, squash, swiss chard, turnip, zucchini.

Legumes, beans, peas, and lentils are efficient sources of protein, reduce saturated fat and cholesterol in the blood, and are cleansing to the arteries. Sprouting further enhances their effective nutrition. There are many wholesome grains that you can cook with or instead of rice, whose varying flavors may surprise you. Unprocessed grains are an excellent source of niacin and contain quality vitamin E in their oils.

Apple cider vinegar is considered very detoxifying and can help to balance digestion. Use as a salad dressing, sprinkle on top of steamed greens and veggies, or try a teaspoon diluted in 1/3 cup of water drunk first thing in the morning (please wait until a week into the cleanse to ensure proper elimination of toxins). Fresh squeezed lemon or lime juice first thing in the morning or on an empty stomach can be used in a similar way.

Your cleanse kit includes tonic herbs that will nourish & build your systems, facilitate elimination, and fine-tune the processes of metabolism. Develop a routine that suits you, whereby you take the capsules & tinctures twice daily. Alternating preparation of the loose leaf tea with the root decoction can simplify the program. If you happen to take a break from the cleanse simply resume the routine when ready. Remember that consistency yields the most efficient results.

Engage in activities that give you a gentle sweat and increase metabolism. Do what you love to do, especially if it increases your heart rate. Focus on getting plenty of fresh air & be positive in your thoughts. Observe how you feel & enjoy the improvements.

For your health, happiness, and quality of life;
Clayoquot Botanicals.



Root Harvest

Posted: Saturday August 22nd, 2009 @ 3:20pm

There is great satisfaction to be gained in harvesting your own plants or those growing in the environment about you. Aromatic fragrances release themselves from both the earth & the plant itself. Loosening the dirt around the roots reveals colours & textures, as well as the critters whose habitat lies beneath the surface of the soil. There we discover the characteristics of the roots of our chosen plant. Just as each individual has a different hairstyle, all roots are unique. Some are tuberous & easy to follow into the depths with your hand; while others have thin strands that project like a mop & require the entire surrounding earth to be lifted.

If you are going to harvest botanicals & use them therapeutically or for food, you first have to know the plants. You don't need a whole bunch of different varieties, you just need to know the ones you gather & know them intimately.

When ‘going after your own grub', it is crucial to know where the plant can be found; how it is gathered & when; how common or rare it is; how it is to be processed, dried, or preserved; & how long it will maintain its goodness. Be sure of the plant you are picking, cultivate your judgement, pick what you need or what is respectively available & protect the rest.

The medicinal herb garden has been a tradition since we humans began to dabble in agriculture. Even older is the tradition of wildcrafting. It has been discovered that some groups of First Nations peoples attempted to preserve their knowledge & spiritual connection with various plants by carving the images of the plants on wooden sticks, usually combinations of 2 to 8 plants. Approximately a dozen of these "prescription sticks" are currently known to exist in public or private collections.

Medieval Monks are famous for their medicinal herb gardens. When the Romans invaded the British Isles they found Inula helenium to be so highly revered that they took it home with them, it can now be found growing in both regions.

Doug Elliot tells a wonderful story in his book "Roots: An Underground Botany & Forager's Guide". "The long trailing roots of this plant, so the legend goes, possessed not only extremely beneficial healing properties, but extraordinary magic. So beneficial was it for the people that used it that the Devil himself became angered & tried to change the qualities of the root from good to bad. The power & goodness of this plant was so strong, however, that his attempts were always thwarted. Finally, the Devil flew into a rage & personally bit off every one of the roots. His rage was so searing that to this day the roots have not been able to grow back. But the remaining stub is still imbued with good medicine, & every spring it is able to put forth the tall spike of beautiful blazing-star blossoms as a reminder that the power of goodness can always avert the forces of evil."

Recently, Jen Pukonen presented her graduate studies, the Tl'aaya-as project, inspired by the Nuu-chah-nulth communities of Clayoquot Sound:
"The Tl'aaya-as project has engaged students and community members of all ages in the research and re-creation of a Nuu-chah-nulth root garden of kuuxwapiihmapt (northern riceroot), tlicy'upmapt (Pacific silverweed) and ?a?iic'uqmapt (springbank clover)*. Ahousaht community members have guided all stages of the garden's development and have offered many great ideas and suggestions. Over the past two summers, six high school students from Ahousaht have helped with the fieldwork, which included getting to know local plants, planting and tending to a root garden, organizing community steam pit cooking events and preparing an educational poster for the Ahousaht school about root gardens."

"Root gardens like the ones we are restoring were historically important to First Nations all up and down the bc coast. For the Nuu-chah-nulth, the gardens were part of the hahuulthi system of ownership and chief's responsibilities. The roots were highly valued as an important food source and were often eaten in large quantities at feasts, as well as for everyday meals. To produce enough of these roots to feed the communities, the Nuu-chah-nulth would carefully tend their gardens, weeding out other plants, churning the soil with special digging sticks, and selectively harvesting and replanting rootlets to grow for the next years' harvests. Like most Nuu-chah-nulth food practices, this type of gardening was sustainable in the long-term, producing an abundance of food without degrading the land. River estuaries and tidal marshes are one of the most productive types of habitat and were ideal for root gardens."
"The sustainable harvesting of these roots vegetables required a great deal of knowledge and respect that was developed over many generations. Many of the plants formerly cultivated by the Nuu-chah-nulth are now quite rare in their natural habitat, and their populations can be severely harmed by just a few wild harvesters. In addition, mistaken identification or misuse of wild plant foods can be very dangerous. Always be careful eating wild plants!"

Clayoquot Botanicals in co-operation with the Tofino Botanical Gardens will be hosting a "Five Root Harvest". Learn about and use the medicinal plants of tradition, cultivated & growing wild here in our region. Discover tools of recognition to apply to the five roots, why they are medicinal, & how they work. Get in there, get dirty, harvest your own. Drink the root decoctions while you prepare tinctures to take with you. Leave with the five roots brewing, five rootlets growing for a future harvest, & the knowledge of five new friends.
Please email to register. $150, all materials supplied.

As you compost your soil preparing for winter, plant your seeds this Spring, & make plans for the coming Summer,
may your roots grow fat & strong...



The Process of Digestion

Posted: Saturday August 22nd, 2009 @ 3:07pm

Everyday life often focuses on tasks to be accomplished, responsibilities to fulfill, schedules to upkeep... food often becomes something we shovel into our mouths in order to keep going.

However, every meal is an opportunity to observe where we are at in our day &/or in our thoughts & emotions. This is also a time when we can slow down & take a break, contemplate that which we are eating through its characteristics: type of food (protein, fat, carb., etc), nutrients, enzymes, temperature (hot/cold, raw/cooked), colour(s), texture, pH balance (acidic/basic), taste, vibration, & on & on. It's endless & you can take it as far as you want to go depending on the day & the meal.

From a physiological point of view, each meal offers an opportunity to get the most out of your body. The fuel you put into the machine directly results in the performance obtained as does the maintenance of the machinery. The optimal performance rate of your machine is guided by the requirements or restrictions unique to you; such as allergies, medical conditions, digestive tendencies, season, mood, needed output, blood type, all kinds of things.

To keep it simple, the process of digestion is where it all begins:
CHEW YOUR FOOD because chewing mechanically grinds big pieces into useable bits, the longer you chew the more starch-splitting salivary enzymes you get into the mixture, & because your mom told you to.
After you swallow, your tasty mash travels to the first chamber of the stomach where the break down of starch continues for approximately one hour.
Gradually things move to the lower part of the stomach where accumulating gastric juices take over. This is an acidic environment of peptic digestion where the proteins start to unchain.
The pancreas throws down a mix of digestive enzymes & then evaluates what is required to finish the job.
The duodenum secretes three enzymes; one for each protein, fat, & carb.
Onwards to the liver; from which four enzymes to dismantle carbohydrates, two enzymes for protein, & one to tackle fat content are contributed.
The gallbladder lives under the right lobe of the liver & produces bile, which is very alkaline & whose main objective is to emulsify lipids (fats) prior to their digestion.
Broken down nutrients are now absorbed into your blood instantly as they pass over the villi (hairs) of the small intestine. The health of these hair-like reeds are crucial to successful absorption of the nutrients that we have just invested so much effort into extracting from our food.


The importance of enzymes is undeniable. The long tunnel that we put food into has all this going on just to keep us ticking as well as to derive enough energy to play.
Consider taking a good look at that which is coming out of the tunnel... it is the leftovers that the body couldn't use, bacteria, & metabolic excretions.

"Our goal for optimum health & longevity is to conserve the body's own enzymes for use in repairing & rebuilding rather than to deplete them during the process of digestion." Rita Romano.

Food Combining optimizes the process of digestion & prevents toxic build-up of harmful acids & fat deposits that limit our performance & health.
As we prepare our meals it is essential to understand that improperly digested foods cause many problems. Excess fat yields cholesterol & cellulite, excess sugar can be a precursor to diabetes, & excess calcium can lead to arthritic conditions. Undigested starch taxes the liver, kidneys, & skin; the players of elimination. Undigested protein rots, producing an incredible amount of toxic acids; which stress the heart, kidneys, blood vessels, & joints. Undigested fats lead to obesity, skin disorders, & heart disease. These undigested bits toxify any nutrition available & tilt the pH balance of the blood & lymph fluid to more acidic. The body then has to counterbalance & regulate, not an easy nor quick undertaking.

"High-fat, high-protein, highly refined carbs in cooked form create a body laden with toxic waste, dead cells, mucus, pain, poor elimination, overacidity, organ & capillary damage, poor absorption of nutrients, & fatigue; followed by formation of cysts & crystals, malnutrition & all associated spin-offs." Rita Romana

Food related diseases often originate from rich, overcooked food & poor choices in food combining. Age, constitution, & heredity somewhat decide our fate. Aging naturally reduces our production of enzymes, increasing our responsibility to incorporate enzymes into our diet. As life continues we accumulate metabolic waste, toxins from pesticides, hormones, & radiation. Periodic cleansing of the body really helps determine a higher quality of life.

Over-eating can lead to premature aging of the whole body, as eating more than we need creates unnecessary work in an already busy body.
"Understand that what each individual requires daily is in constant flux. As we grow older, our consumption of physical food should be kept to a minimum. Under-eat as a rule." Rita Romano
"Premature aging, degeneration, & disease begins when the body's enzyme reserves are being constantly over-taxed. The organ hit the hardest is the pancreas."

Sproating is an excellent way to increase the amount of enzymes in the system. Sproating beans & seeds before eating them deactivates their enzyme inhibitors, & begins the process of breaking-down proteins into their component amino acids. This releases available nutrients through an intense enzymatic hydrolysis. Sproats contain a magical anti-aging substance called auxinon (present in all embryos), & are full of anticarcinogenic properties.

Balancing the pH level of our internal environment is one of our main jobs. The kidneys work hard to neutralize the blood as do our lungs releasing the unwanted & inhaling oxygen.
An important point to remember is that an acidic body contains excess hydrogen, which must combine with oxygen. Other necessary metabolic processes need that oxygen to function properly.
Calcium, potassium, sodium, magnesium, & iron all support the kidneys & neutralize acids.

Considering the content of energy in our food goes beyond the physical concepts of nutrition. "The life-force of food not only affects us on the physical & chemical level but also affects our minds & spirits. These energy forces are transferred to the human form & directly link together physical & spiritual health." Rita Romano.
Living foods contain the energy forces of sunlight & oxygen, & are said to heighten our abilities of intuition.

"Improving the digestive Qi (prana) of the spleen-pancreas is of priority to good health, clear mind, & ambition." Paul Pitchford

Given all the information you have consumed in reading this presentation, it is important not to become too overly compulsive about your eating habits & food choices, nor to indulge in righteous attitude. A certain amount of "being bad" is required to function in this world.
Practice enough self-awareness to understand proper balance in relation to your daily & long-term care.
Cultivate practices that harmonize the active portion of your life, simultaneously building receptive, yielding, compassionate qualities.
Make a point of eating in a relaxed environment.
Get plenty of fresh air, clean water, & be positive in your thoughts. This alone will encourage efficient digestion, cleansing & renewal.

Enjoy your body.
You are complicated & beautiful.