“Ultimately, this research on apples indicates how important whole foods are to our overall health. Apples are not medicine, rather, they are the means by which medicines become unnecessary. It is through authentic nourishment and detoxification…that we prevent and treat disease.” -Sayer Ji, Founder of GreenMed Info
A few weeks ago, I was privileged to attend a weekend seminar with one of my most beloved nutrition and herbal teachers – Paul Bergner. The topic: Botanicals, Microbiome, Biofilms, and Chronic Infections.
He reminded us of such things that we can easily forget, like don’t take antibiotics unless your life is at risk. Just like vaccines (my words), it’s not the first round of antibiotics that takes you down; it’s the second course, third course, fourth course, etc that can permanently damage your microbiome. I am most certain that many of my current health struggles at 43 years of age are a direct result of countless rounds of antibiotics I took up until my mid-twenties when I finally learned better. The microbiome I have now isn’t the one I was born with and never will be (so please pardon my prolific, stinky farts - it’s not my fault).
But most importantly and directly related to the ongoing use of antibiotics, he reminded us that we rarely need to kill microbes as it relates to our bodies. What we need to instead is alter the environment in which they are growing. This is easy to forget in the culture of modern medicine and the political tone of our country which loves to create wars. The war on cancer and war on drugs come immediately to mind. And what do all wars have in common? Wars want to kill the enemy. It’s such an appealing mindset: good guy, bad guy, kill the bad guy.
Many doctors will use antibiotics to treat Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO), for example. While this may take care of the bacterial overgrowth in the bowels, what about the health of the rest of the person? His/her overall vitality will be injured and the root cause is never addressed. [Side note: how do we know that SIBO isn’t really SIFO – small intestinal fungal overgrowth – or SIMO – small intestinal microbial overgrowth? We don’t, which would both make antibiotics ineffective and not worth it].
In addition, the main cause of SIBO is the on-going use of proton pump inhibitors which attempt to address indigestion and acid reflux. The other two causes are hepatic (liver) and pancreatic disease. These 3 things all have one thing in common: they negatively impact the motility of the gut.
Think of your intestinal tract as a giant tube of toothpaste and when it slowly squeezes throughout the day, the muscles move and you have will have an urge for a bowel movement. That’s how things should work but it many people this peristalsis isn’t occurring and bile from the liver and gall bladder which is the body’s natural laxative isn’t moving, and the gut is stagnant and slowly transforms into a swamp. And what do we know about swamps? Nasty shit grows there.
Maybe, just maybe, the bacteria or other microbes in SIBO or general dysbiosis in the gut aren’t the actual problem. Instead it’s the environment in which they are growing in. As Paul put forth in his lecture, maybe SIBO is really amotility syndrome (the letter ‘a’ before a word means ‘without’ so here we have without-motility syndrome meaning that the toothpaste tube squeeze in the gut isn’t happening).
So what do we do to address this? How do we alter the environment? It’s pretty fucking simple. We reduce the inflammatory load on the gut by eating real food. We discover and remove any food sensitivities (the big 4 are wheat, dairy, corn and soy). We utilize bitter herbs which I discuss more in my book. And finally, we make sure our mucus membranes are robust! Because without a healthy, happy mucus membrane, we have nothing. That’s where our immune system resides and where beneficial bacteria like to grow, and we are going to do that with this:
Homemade applesauce with the powder (and power) of gut healing herbs.
Paul’s favorite trio includes calendula flowers, plantain leaves, and marshmallow root. I might also consider gotu kola or chamomile, depending on the patient’s presentation and access to quality plant material. All of these herbs have the honor of being vulneraries which means that they heal the skin – outside and in. These are the exact same herbs I use in my Magic Herbal Salve. If we can make contact with the tissue, these herbs can help heal. (In addition, these plants are also antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory. Show me a drug that can do all that! It simply doesn’t exist).
The overall idea here is to deliver the herbs in a way that can actually reach the mid-to-lower GI tract, and powders are more likely to do that. Teas would be slightly helpful here as well, but liquid extracts not so much as they are typically absorbed into the body in the stomach and exert their influence in the bloodstream. Neither teas, nor tinctures, can act as prebiotics, which is food for good bacteria, in the large intestine, like a marshmallow or slippery elm powder can – never mind the brilliance of delivering these herbs in applesauce!
For a moment, let’s set the herbs aside and review the power of apples which can be used for:
Now, THAT’S food as medicine, right? Most of the medicine in an apple comes from the skin and pectin which can both be conveniently found in applesauce. When you hear the word pectin, you can think binder, soother and healer. You can buy it in capsules or…you can just simply eat it. This was absolutely delicious:
Homemade Applesauce Recipe
3 pounds of green organic apples (that’s about 9 medium-sized apples)*
1 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
¼ teaspoon cardamom, ground
¼ teaspoon ginger, ground
Juice of 1 organic lemon
¼ cup filtered water
Coat the bottom and sides of your crockpot in coconut oil. Core and slice apples. I use this to make it fast and easy. No need to peel (the skin contains a lot of nutrition and fiber that you don’t want to miss out on). Add spices, lemon juice and water. Cover and cook 4-5 hours on low.
Now comes the fun part: do you like your applesauce chunky, smooth or somewhere in between? I like mine smooth so I gently pulse it in my Vitamix, but you could use a potato masher, immersion blender or hand mixer to achieve your desired texture.
*The reason you want to use green apples is because of the additional tannins. This is why green apples are tart, sort of like that green tea phenomenon that makes your mouth pucker. Tannins, not only act as antimicrobial agents, but will help to tighten and heal tissues making tannins the perfect answer to both leaky gut AND dysbiosis.
For people concerned about carbohydrate intake, a medium-sized apple has roughly 20 metabolic carbohydrates (that’s not counting the fiber), so it will be a case-by-case basis as to whose metabolism can handle an apple without disturbing blood sugar.
Now, all you need to do is get a small bowl for the applesauce and then add your herbal powders for a gut healing treat in your kitchen!
Heal in peace, my friends!
P.S. – A note about herbal powders…
The minute you make powder out of an herb, thus increasing its surface area, it starts to degrade and medicine is lost. So what I would recommend doing here is buying your herbs in bulk and powdering them with a coffee grinder. Some of my favorite companies to source from are: Pacific Botanicals, Mountain Rose Herbs and Starwest Botanicals. I try to buy the ones that are organic and harvested in the US. Please store them in a dark, cool area and not in plastic.
I would aim to use a tablespoon of herbal powder per day in the applesauce and if you’re working with a child, cut that in half.
And don’t forget to have fun!