My Current “Supplement” Regimen
I am currently living in Crete, the southernmost Greek island. One of the things I loved most about Greece when I visited for the first time last summer, is how incredible the food is. It is so easy to find organic, (actually) local, real, whole, food. In Canada, I would say that my local organic shop was 85% imported; even things that can and do grow in Canada were cheaper when flown in from California or Mexico. Since moving to Europe last December I kept seeing this pattern, but produce is being flown in mostly from Spain and Italy. It’s absurd! Brutal not only for the planet but for the prana of your food: the life force that feeds not only your body but your soul. Anyways, I fell in love with the Greek food ethos and culture my first time around, and since being on Crete (for nearly a month now), I’m realising that this same magic extends itself to the apothecary (supplements/ natural medicine) scene.
Crete is literally a bee haven. It’s actually a bug haven in general, which means it’s just a haven for ALL living things, because if you want to know how well an ecosystem is doing, examine the bottom of the food chain. I remember growing up road-tripping with my parents, the windshield would be covered in bugs; riding my bike or even walking through parks in the city would still be full of these swarms of little bugs. When’s the last time you experienced either of those things?
It wasn’t until l got to Chanià (in the West of Crete) that I’ve actually started hearing the buzzing of bugs again, seeing bees everywhere (almost every flower out in the mountain has a bee on it), and of course birds are chirping too.
Crete is like a floating apothecary, the entire island is covered in wild herbs like Malotira, Dittany, Thyme, Oregano… and the bees are pollinating all these incredible herbs out in the pristine valleys of the White Mountains that stretch all the way to the sea. We can actually trace back medicine to it’s Greek roots, and of course to Hippocrates, who was a Greek physician of the Age of Pericles and considered one of the most outstanding figures in the history of medicine. Modern medicine has taken a turn for the ridiculous in the realm of big pharma, cut/burn/poison mentality… but ancient medicine of Greece was indeed a union between nature and the human body, and a channeling of cosmic plant healing wisdom.
I’ve ditched all my plastic bottled supplements (that just intuitively feel vibrationally deadAF to me), and am including these 5 Cretan wonders into my daily life/ self-prescribed thriving plan. These real, handmade “supplements” aren’t actually supplements at all, they are real, medicinal ingredients and are a true homage to the concept of “let food be thy medicine”.
My Current “Supplement” Regimen
Royal jelly is the food made by bees for their Queen. The average bee lives about 6 weeks, and the queen kicks if for up to 5 years- so you know royal jelly is on some #nextlevel nutritional density. Royal jelly is often called “bee milk” and indeed it is also found in larval cells, where the baby bee’s are partially submerged in royal jelly for sustenance for the first three days of life. The baby bee’s are then weaned off of royal jelly and start consuming bee pollen and honey, apart from the queen who eats exclusively royal jelly her entire (longAF) life.
Royal jelly is made up of a mixture of water, collagen, and many enzymes and hormones. It contains high amounts of essential vitamins and minerals (all of the B vitamins, pantothenic acid and trace amounts of vitamin A, C, D and E). The studies just keep piling up on the benefits for royal jelly in humans including:
Improves skin health (thanks, biotin!) (more info)
Improves blood pressure regulation
Balances male hormones (supports fertility) (study)
Heals ulcers (study)
Prevents/ heals asthma (more info)
Heals skin conditions (more info)
Gut healing (contains probiotic bifidobacteria, which is also found in breast milk!) (study)
And so much more.
Personally, all I need to know is the longevity fun fact related to the queen’s exclusive royal jelly diet. …Yas Queen!
Note: You want to ensure you properly understand the dosage, and how to take royal jelly. This stuff is powerful, and if taken improperly it can be completely wasted.
Propolis Extract + Wild Thyme Honey
This is a 2-for-1 “supplement” because I combine the two (as per recommendation of the incredible herbalist I bought my propolis extract from).
Like royal jelly, propolis has just blown my mind to bits recently. Propolis is the resinous substance manufactured by bees to seal/ build their hive, made of wax and saliva (yum!). The word propolis comes from the Greek pro meaning “in defense of” and polis meaning “city”: “in defense of the city”. As it is used to seal and heal, it is also unsurprisingly it is a miracle substance for wound healing in humans (sealing up our flesh home). As above, so below! The magical compound in propolist is called pinocembrin, a flavonoid that acts as an antifungal and does genuine miracles not only taken internally, but perhaps even more so applied topically. Propolis contains over 300 natural compounds, including amino acids, coumarins, phenolic aldehydes, polyphenols, sequiterpene quinines, and steroids. The benefits reach far beyond wound healing, and also include:
While travelling in Crete I made a friend who is an Argentinian surgeon; he shared my absolute love for bees and had a special passion for propolis. He told me the story of the 93 year old woman who had been in a brutal accident, whereby her entire jawbone was exposed. Her surgeons explained it was inoperable, so my friend worked with a team and provided this woman with propolis-infused gauze. After three applications this woman’s faced didn’t only heal, it literally regenerated. I saw the images, and truly they are un-fucking-believable.
As per recommendations from the brilliant man I bought my propolis from, I take a teaspoon of wild thyme honey with 15-20 drops of the propolis extract on top. It’s soooo delicious, and I get the added benefits of wild thyme honey (antioxidant, antibacterial, cough-relieving and expectorant, energizing and immunomodulating).
There is something truly magic about buying local honey, for so. many. reasons. First of all, it can it help with reducing your seasonal allergies (it basically introduces microdoses of these allergens, because the bees pollinate local flowers!); like nature’s vaccine! Second of all, it is a symphony of symbiosis between your body and the surrounding plants/ natural world. The relationship that honey has to pollinate (which spreads flowers and plants), and also nourish the bees, build their home, and feed animals) is just so rad I can’t even express it in world. When you consume this honey, you’re becoming a part of this cycle. You begin to speak the language of nature, and build an understanding of how important it is to be a part of the cycle; this trickles out into your life and manifests as being more conscious awareness of your duty to take care of this planet.
Sustainability Note on bee products
The vegan argument that consuming bee products is detrimental to bee survival couldn’t be farther from the truth. Bee keeper’s and those buy bee products are actually the ones who ultimately value them enough to promote not only sustainable harvesting and production of bee products, but also protect the bees. This requires protecting the bee’s ecosystems (ie. their pollinating plants, and especially ensuring that herbicides and pesticides aren’t poisoning them.
Apart from supporting local, ethically-minded, sustainable bee keeper’s by buying their products, the top 3 things that will “save the bees” (according to Greenpeace) are:
Ban the seven most dangerous pesticides.
Protect pollinator health by preserving wild habitat.
Restore ecological agriculture.
What this means for you is:
Buy local, organic food (preferably biodynamic, which is true regenerative agriculture). You vote with your dollar, and investing in food that is grown without harmful chemicals ensures the industry shifts in that direction. You can also educate yourself on the dangers of products like Glyphosate, and the impact that GMOs and Monsanto are having on your health and the planet. Become a voice in your community and educate your friends and family that organic food is more than just a hashtag, it’s actually a movement to honour the integrity of the very earth we walk on. If you’ve got the activist gene, you can also join the Pesticide Action Network and get involved on a political level. If you want to do the most radical thing of all: plant your own backyard (or front yard!) garden. Growing your own food is the ultimate act of rebellion.
Preserving wild habitat starts by spending more time in it. Once you value something, you begin to naturally want to protect and preserve it. Visit your National Parks, volunteer at your local park. There are so many groups striving to protect public lands (which are in more danger than ever); you can check out the National Wildlife Foundation or Protect Our Public Lands to get started.
Buy local, organic, ethically harvested bee products from bee keeper’s who are doing it right. Almost all the “honey” on the shelves of large supermarkets are cut with fake honey and/or practice incredibly unsustainable, abusive practices. Choose local, family-run/ small-business companies that actually love their bee’s. They should be able to tell you how their harvesting honours the bee’s first, including only collecting fresh pollen at a certain time of year, rotating the hives to areas in bloom, limiting the quantities of collection for all the bee products (honey, pollen, royal jelly, propolis).
Digestive bitters are a brilliant and have been used for centuries to stimulate the natural digestive bile in your stomach. This is super important because “you are what you eat” should be replaced with “you are what you digest”. The reality that most people these days are eating on-the-go, distracted (in front of the TV)- which already sets you up for troubled digestion- but on top of that they are commonly dealing with low stomach acid (acid reflux!) and/ or leaky gut and/or a disrupted or imbalance gut microbiome. When your body isn’t working the way it is designed to, your food isn’t properly digested; which means you’re not absorbing the nutrients your body needs to thrive AND a leaky gut actually lets in particles it shouldn’t (which results in allergies, indigestion, inflammation, infections, and disease). All in all: you want to be properly digesting your food, no questions about it.
This starts with chewing, and being mindful about meal time; but digestive bitters are a tool to help you maximize your digestion, the ancestral way. Bitters are made by extracting bitter herbs in an alcohol solution. The ones I’m using are made from all wild Cretan herbs, and extracted in Raki (an organic, traditional Cretan spirit).
Little did I know that benefits of bitters transcend digestion! I bought these bitters from a gorgeous traditional apothecary in Heraklion, and the owner explained to me that actually bitters are used for.
I was given a little pamphlet by Vassiliki’s Herbal Apothecary (where I got my propolis too) in Heraklion, Crete, and it listed 45(!!!!!!) uses for bitters, including:
Pain and dizziness
Eyes and cataracts
Scabs, pustules, and eczema
Blisters on tongue/ inflamed throat
Constipation and gas
Stomach and digestion
Ear and hearing
Late pregnancy support
Spasm and cramps
Menstrual flow support
Wounds and blemishes
Bruises and swelling
I feel beyond blessed to have these amazing wild herbs extracted in the traditional local spirit, and although the ones I am taking aren’t for sale online, I urge you first to see if your local health store sells handmade local bitters, and/or you can have a hand at making your own, and/ or you can always skip the search and rely on the amazing Surthrival bitters (they are truly high quality awesomeness)!
Malotira (Sideritis Syriaca) aka Wild Mountain Tea
This magical plant is known as the Grecian “cure all”. I’m willing to bet that every Greek family on Crete has a cupboard full of it (it’s been my experience so far!) and for good reasons. Malotira grows at high altitudes over 1500m up, and on Crete it is harvested in the pristine White Mountains, where it grows wild. It’s medicinal properties include detoxifier, anti-anaemic, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, disinfectant, bacteoriostatic, and diuretic. It has been found to help treat and prevent Alzheimer’s, as well as osteoporosis; it lowers blood pressure; and boosts the immune system. And perhaps best of all: it’s caffeine-free. I’ve recently quit my morning matcha, in efforts not only to eat 100% local, but also truly get to know my real self (to learn more about why this is harmed by caffeine, read this article)… so this cup of herbal tea warms my soul without hitting my body with artificial energy.
The Malotira plant is native to Greece and a few other European countries, but if you’re not living there (or aren’t native to the area), I don’t actually suggest you start consuming it. Instead, opt for local herbs! Every country has its own native herbs, and making herbal tea that honours where you’re actually located is not only mindful of the planet, but it’s also providing your body with information to match your actual needs.
Making herbal tea is simple simple: just heat (spring or properly filtered) water just before boiling point, and pour over your herbs in a mug. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes, strain herbs, and drink! The hot water releases the healing compounds/ oils of your plants, and because some oils are quite heat sensitive (volatile!), best to avoid boiling water unless you really know what you’re working with.
That’s it folks! Bee love, a little digestive boost, and a warm cup of a wild herb(s), native to your home or current geographical location. Support local, help out the bees (and thus the entire ecosystem), keep it simple, and thrive!
If you’re keen to learn more about the benefits of bee products, have a listen: