Finding Your Root
Jul 23, 2019 03:37PM
● By Nora Mounce
With a global wellness market valued at $4.2 trillion, it’s easy to feel inundated with images and ads for products that promise to improve your quality of life. In the US, the wealthiest economy in the world, the buzzword “wellness” dominates our social media and daily lives. Though health and income are inextricably linked, the majority of Americans still struggle with obesity, one in four deaths are caused by heart disease, and a growing mental health crisis has spurred increasing rates of addiction and suicide. Clearly, money doesn’t buy good health. What’s even more misleading is these statistics don’t account for the millions who qualify as “healthy” by the standards of Western medicine. Without a doctor ticking a single box, a clinically disease-free human can still suffer from pain, fatigue, allergies, and melancholy.
In response to this grim reality, a host of new products have emerged in the health and wellness market in the past decade. While the FDA regulates dietary supplements, there is still a wide margin for companies to tout various herbs, foods, and teas as “energy-boosting” or “anti-inflammatory.” Whether it’s kombucha, CBD, or mushroom tea, such products are often one person’s snake oil and another’s salvation. While many individuals want to feel better, the complexities and costs of navigating the wellness marketplace can be prohibitive.
Understanding the limitations of America’s healthcare system, acupuncturist Alyssa Melody decided to invest in natural medicine and nutrition at a young age. After earning a degree in elementary education at Humboldt State, Melody returned to her home town of Berkeley to study at the Acupuncture & Integrative Wellness College. Specializing in acupuncture, the ancient practice of Chinese needling, Melody also had an affinity for herbs.
“I was always going to Chinatown to try things for myself,” says Melody, a self identified herb nerd. As a student, Melody remembers the first time she took a large quantity of reishi, known in China as the queen mushroom of immortality. After experiencing a “big bubble of bliss,” she thought to herself, “Oh, damn.”
Back in Humboldt with a Master of Science in Oriental Medicine under her belt, Melody established her own acupuncture practice in downtown Arcata. She treats a diverse range of patients five days a week for “addictions, allergies, hypertension, digestive disorders, and insomnia.” Initially, Melody compounded her own custom prescriptions, ordering raw herbs in bulk and teaching patients how to boil roots and make teas at home. She noticed it was challenging for patients to incorporate the time-demanding prep into their busy lives. Still, she kept up with ordering pounds of lab-tested and certified mushrooms and herbs from China and recommended the ground powders to family and friends. She loved the ease of dosing and wanted to share.
In 2016, Melody launched Root and Bones, a line of “carefully sourced, broad-spectrum adaptogenic super herbs.” Melody sources mushrooms directly from China, where they have been cultivated for centuries to guarantee the highest levels of potency and purity. When she sees patients, Melody recommends a few different mushrooms or herbs to specifically target their needs such as immunity, stress response, or the endocrine system.
“Chinese medicine is very preventative medicine, which targets the root of the problem,” explains Melody. With Root & Bones, Melody enjoys connecting with a much larger public about the health benefits of medicinal mushrooms and herbs. She’s quick to stress that her products aren’t a cure-all, but best taken continuously to support a healthy diet and balanced lifestyle.
“I don’t tend toward extreme rules,” explains Melody. “I think intuitive eating is best. People can fear so many categories with food. I tell patients to eat as seasonally and organic as possible.” Melody also stresses the importance of a healthy work-life balance and carefully maintains her own health through exercise (mostly weight-lifting and hiking) and time spent outdoors enjoying fresh air and the beauty of Humboldt County.
While Melody doesn’t recommend avoiding certain food groups, her nutritional philosophy definitely favors superfoods and shies away from classic trigger foods like sugar and wheat. The Root & Bones Instagram feed features beautiful images of cakes, coffee, truffles, and teas accompanied by recipes featuring nutrient-dense ingredients like hemp milk, edible flowers, spices, raw cacao, honey, walnuts, dates, and coconut cream. Colorful works of art like Mucuna & Reishi Cheesecake Tarts (raw, vegan, and gluten-free) bookend Melody’s Gluten-free Cordyceps Cardamom Doughnuts with Coconut Mucuna Glaze and Black Sesame He Shou Wu Iced Latté. Rather than depriving your appetite of pleasure often considered a necessary evil in the world of natural medicine Melody’s approach is to fill the mind and body with beautiful and medicinal food. Scrolling through Root & Bones recipes for cakes, blended coffees, and truffles featuring medicinal mushrooms and herbs, her recipes leap off the screen, a Candyland for adults.
R O O T & B O N E S R E C I P E :
ShouWu Mint Matcha Latté
• 1 cup hot water
• 1 cup non-dairy milk
• 2 tsp matcha green tea powder
• 1 to 2 tsp raw honey
• 1/8 to 1/4 tsp peppermint extract or 5 to 8 fresh mint leaves
• 1 tsp Root & Bones He Shou Wu
STEP 1: Warm up milk and water on stove.
STEP 2: Blend all the ingredients in a high-speed blender for 30 seconds or until smooth and frothy.
R O O T & B O N E S R E C I P E :
Chaga Carrot Cake Oatmeal with Pine Pollen
• 1/3 cup grated carrot
• 3/4 cup almond milk, add more as needed
• 1 tbsp maple syrup
• 1 tsp Root & Bones chaga
• 1 tsp Root & Bones pine pollen
• 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
• 1/4 tsp ground ginger
• 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
• pinch sea salt
• 1/3 cup gluten-free rolled oats
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
STEP 1: Peel and grate carrot.
STEP 2: In a medium-sized pot on medium heat, whisk together almond milk, maple syrup, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt until smooth.
STEP 3: Stir in grated carrots and oats.
STEP 4: Bring to a low boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, for 8 to 11 minutes, stirring as it thickens.
STEP 5: Add more almond milk as needed. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract, chaga, and pine pollen.
STEP 6: Garnish with your favorite toppings.