Plantain – a Wondrous Weed Indeed!


Plantain dreamstime_xs_13734770

I know, I’ll bet most of you are thinking about bananas when plantains are mentioned, but the plantain I speak of is found right in your own backyard!  Plantago major, otherwise known as common plantain, is that weed in your backyard that competes – or perhaps conspires – with the dandelion to overtake your lawn.

My introduction to the wonders of common plantain happened quite by accident.  We were living in southern Connecticut at the time, and it was early summer.  One day my husband Dale was bitten by a spider behind his left knee.  It was painful when it happened, but we didn’t think too much of it after the initial incident.  A few weeks later, however, upon returning from the International Herb Symposium at Wheaton College in Massachusetts, I noticed that the skin was reddened in a ring around the bite, and the skin was beginning to chafe.  It was bothering him, too.  Although a “bullseye rash” is a classic symptom of a deer-tick bite, and we had plenty of those where we were living, we knew he had been bitten by a spider when it happened.

I quickly went to the “web” to see what I might be able to learn.  His bite had the characteristics of a brown recluse bite, and the prognosis for those nasty bites was disturbing, to say the least!  I read of persistent, stubborn sores that progressed in severity and size, treated with intravenous antibiotics, etc., and many times leading to the amputation of arms or legs.  Yikes.  I didn’t share this information with Dale!

Searching for a ‘miraculous’ botanical alternative treatment over the worldwide web yielded nothing.  Then, I remembered I had purchased a book at the conference I had just attended, The Book of Herbal Wisdom by Matthew Wood, a western herbalist I have long admired and whose lectures I attend whenever possible.  Wouldn’t you know, in the book he told a story of a woman who had been on a walk with an herbalist who pointed out the use of common plantain for insect bites, asserting that even the black widow bite could be successfully treated if the chewed leaves were applied.  Sometime later, this same woman was out in a garden with two of her friends when they stumbled into a black widow nest.  All were bitten.  Upon returning home, the woman remembered the words of the herbalist regarding plantain and did as she had advised.  The next day her two friends were dead.  She was fine (was this before email… or telephones for that matter?).

So… I hustled off to Wild Oats and purchased a liquid extract of plantain.  I instructed Dale to rub it on the bite topically a few times a day and to take a few droppersful by mouth a few times a day.  After the first day the bite began to subside and quickly healed.

An anecdote, to be sure!  But then I had another opportunity to try it.  A few years later, back in New Hampshire, I attended my women’s Bible study at Windham Presbyterian Church on Thursday morning, as I was in the habit of doing.  I missed a woman from our group and inquired regarding her absence.  “Didn’t you hear??  She was bitten by a spider, hospitalized, treated by infectious disease…”  etc., all to no avail.  Sent home, her knee was so swollen she couldn’t walk, and she was in a great deal of pain.

Hmm… the wheels started to turn.  Here was the very opportunity I had been waiting for!  By this time I had started making my own medicinal herbal extracts, and I had plenty of plantain extract at home.  I gave some to one of her close friends with instructions.  The next week she was back at Bible study.  Not knowing what to expect, as casually as I could, I asked how it went with the plantain experiment.  “It was instantaneous,” my guinea pig replied, “…I rubbed it all over the knee area the first night before I went to bed, and when I woke up in the morning the swelling was completely gone; all that was left was a small, red dot!”

Incidentally plantain’s extraordinary drawing power is largely responsible for its miraculous action on insect bites, and it can be applied to other conditions that require powerful drawing, such as splinters, ticks, you name it!  Not bad for a humble, oh-so-common weed!

Is Your Health-Conscious, Low-Fat Diet Making You Fat & Unhealthy?



Rebecca Roentsch Montrone, BS – Wondrous Roots, Inc.

When I begin working with a new client, he or she first fills out a lengthy, very detailed Nutritional Wellness Questionnaire.  Part of the information this provides me with is a general description of the daily diet; breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, etc.  Oftentimes, I see a pattern of eating that reveals an intention of making very good choices, but misinformed.

In such cases I like to do a nutritional analysis.  My clients are usually shocked when they see what their health-conscious food choices really add up to.   For example, a young woman I recently worked with noted that for breakfast she often had low-fat yogurt with low-fat granola and apple.  Sometimes toast.  She became hungry often throughout the day and had to snack frequently.  She didn’t like junk-food, mind you, so she wasn’t grabbing cookies or chips; usually cheese, crackers, that kind of thing.  Not a big meat-eater, she usually relied on chicken for protein at dinner, sometimes salmon, usually eaten with a grain of some kind and vegetables.  No soda, artificial sweeteners, etc.  The diets of many in our population don’t come close to being that “healthy,” but…

The data regarding the function of this young woman’s pancreas and insulin – i.e., blood sugar regulation – indicated ups and downs; wide fluctuations between highs and lows.  This pattern is a pattern that sets one on a path to ill health.  It begins here, with foods containing high amounts of sugar, frequent hunger and the need to eat often, moves on to weight gain, insulin insensitivity, metabolic syndrome  –  and over time can eventually end in full-blown type 2 diabetes.

“But wait a minute!…” you might be saying.  “Where are you finding so much sugar in her daily diet?  It looks pretty reasonable to me.”

Are you ready?  Here’s the nutritional analysis for the breakfast of low-fat yogurt, low-fat granola, and a raw apple:

  1. Low-fat plain yogurt 8 oz – 13 gm protein, 17 gm sugar, 17 gm carbs (the same, so all the carbs are from sugar), 4 gm fat. Remember, this is plain – not flavored – yogurt.
  1. Granola. Granola is made of grains and usually some kind of sweetener.  I took a look at the nutritional analysis of Kellogg’s Low-Fat Granola Without Raisins, halving the serving size because of its part in the breakfast.  Protein 4 gm, sugars 15 gm, carbohydrates 44 gm, fat 3 gm, fiber 4.5 gm.  So here, again, is a food very high in sugar and in other carbohydrates (the grains) that will very quickly convert to glucose and enter the bloodstream.
  1. Apple. Now, you’re probably saying “WHAT? What could possibly be wrong with an apple??”  I checked the nutritional analysis for one cup of raw apple with peel on:  no protein or fat, naturally; 3 gm of fiber and a whopping 13 gm of sugar, and in the form of fructose (and don’t believe the “sugar is sugar” people, no matter what you hear in television ads).

So… in this breakfast that on the surface looks like a healthy choice, there are approximately 45 gm of sugar!  By comparison, 8 oz of regular root beer contains 24 gm of sugar.  Then, there are still 29 more gm of carbohydrates from the grains in the granola, which will all convert to glucose once they make it to the small intestine, which will be fast, remember, because there is not much fat or protein or even fiber present to slow digestion and release of sugar into the bloodstream.  Make sense?

Now…I’m going to take you on a journey through the body as this food is ingested and digested!

  • Carbohydrate digestion begins in the mouth with the enzyme amylase present in saliva.
  • Digestion continues in the stomach and then moves to the small intestine.
  • In the small intestine carbohydrate is converted to various forms of sugar (maltose, lactose, sucrose). As these sugars travel further into the small intestine they are broken down in size and are all eventually converted to glucose (except for fructose, which enters the liver as 100% fructose) so that they pass through the intestinal walls and…
  • Enter the bloodstream. The bloodstream carries the glucose to the liver.  If cells in the body need the glucose for energy, the liver will send it where needed.  If not, the excess glucose is stored as glycogen – liquid glucose.  Glycogen is stored in the muscles and in the liver.
  • When all the space for glycogen is occupied, the liver begins converting excess glucose to fat. This is how “sugar makes us fat.”   The fat cells are stored under the skin and in various organs throughout the body.

On the flip-side, this is how fat is burned for energy, promoting healthy weight loss:

  • When blood sugar levels fall too low (because there is minimal sugar/carbohydrate in the food eaten), the liver will first trigger the release of glycogen from the muscles and liver for conversion back into glucose. This is not to be confused with the protein in muscles being burned for energy.  The liver will convert protein from muscle into glucose only in emergencies; this is what happens when people starve – when glucose and fat stores are depleted.
  • Once the glycogen stores are depleted, then the liver will begin to burn fat for fuel, and fat loss results. This is why on carbohydrate-restrictive diets it is not uncommon to experience an initial rapid weight loss during the first few days to a week; this is what we think of as “water weight” – not really water at all but liquid glycogen.

How does fructose fit into this entire equation?  From ScienceDaily Limiting Fructose May Boost Weight Loss, Researchers Say – July 8, 2008:

“Our study shows for the first time the surprising speed with which humans make body fat from fructose,” Dr. Parks said. Fructose, glucose and sucrose, which is a mixture of fructose and glucose, are all forms of sugar but are metabolized differently.

“All three can be made into triglycerides, a form of body fat; however, once you start the process of fat synthesis from fructose, it’s hard to slow it down,” she said.”

What might my client eat for breakfast, then?  If she doesn’t like the idea of switching to foods such as eggs, etc., here is a suggestion for a similar breakfast but “sugared down.”  A really lowered-sugar/carb version might be:

  • Full-fat cottage cheese – 4 oz contains 13 gm of protein, 3 gm of sugar with a total of 4 gm of carbohydrate, and 5 gm of fat. (4 oz instead of 8 oz yogurt, because it is hard to eat that much full-fat cottage cheese).
  • Raspberries instead of an apple – 1/2 cup of raspberries contains 2.5 gm fructose, 7.3 gm carbs, 1/2 gm protein, 1/2 gm fat, 4.6 gm fiber. Another benefit of raspberries is the ketones contained in them.  Stubborn belly fat is often stubborn because of the hormonal disruption that doesn’t allow thermogenesis to work as efficiently.  Raspberry ketones cause hormone-signaling lipase to kick in, slicing up the fat cells in these hard-to-reach areas and preparing them to be burned off.  Raspberries are also an excellent source of antioxidant rich ellagic acid.
  • Hemp hearts and/or nuts instead of granola? A half- ounce of walnuts (7 halves) contain 2 gm carbs, > 2 gm protein, 9 gm fat, 1 gm fiber.  One heaping tablespoons of hemp hearts contain 1.25  gm carbs, 3.5 gm protein, 4.5 gm healthy balance of Omega 3, 6, 9, 0.7 gm fiber.

Now, let’s contrast the two breakfasts:

  1. Low-fat yogurt, low-fat granola, apple:

Carbohydrates not from simple sugar:  29 gm

Sugar:  45 gm

Total carbs:  74

Protein: 17 gm

Fat: 7 gm

Fiber:  7.5 gm

  1. Full-fat cottage cheese, raspberries, hemp hearts, walnuts:

Carbohydrates not from simple sugar: 5.8 gm

Sugar:  5.5 gm

Total Carbs:  11.3

Protein:  > 19 gm

Fat:  19 gm

Fiber:  6.6 gm

Wow!  If we can wrap our Madison-Avenue brainwashed heads around the fact that it is sugar that makes us fat and not healthy fats, it is easy to see how astonishingly more healthy the second choice is.  Further, this breakfast will stick with my client; she will not be hungry again until lunchtime, avoiding the rollercoaster of grabbing high-carb/sugar snacks and feeling hungry every couple of hours.  Consuming whole-fat foods as found in nature ensures that the protein can be adequately used to build muscle – we can’t use the protein in protein foods without the fat-soluble vitamins in the fat to metabolize it.  The protein and fat content of the second choice will cause the already low amounts of sugars and carbohydrates to be released into the bloodstream much more slowly, providing a gentle increase in blood glucose and keeping the need for insulin at a minimum.  By the way, keeping blood glucose – and therefore insulin levels –  within a narrow range is a key to longevity, but that will just have to wait until next time!

[i] Stanhope K.L., et al. “Consuming fructose-sweetened, not glucose-sweetened, beverages increases visceral adiposity and lipids and decreases insulin sensitivity in overweight/obese humansJ Clin Invest. 2009 May 1;119(5):1322-1334

[ii] Le K.A., Ilth M., Kreis R., Faeh D., Bortolotti M., Tran C., Boesch C., and Tappy L. “Fructose overconsumption causes dyslipidemia and ectopic lipid deposition in healthy subjects with and without a family history of type 2 diabetesAm J Clin Nutr. 2009 Jun;89(6):1760-5

[iii] Ouyang X., Cirillo P., Sautin Y., McCall S., Bruchette J.L., Diehl A.M. Johnson R.J., Abdelmalek M.F. “Fructose consumption as a risk factor for non-alcoholic fatty liver diseaseJ. Hepatol. 2008 Jun;48(6):993-9

Invokana – Worth the Risks?


And… are medications the only way to manage type 2 diabetes? –

Rebecca Roentsch Montrone, BS –  Certified Holistic Health Practitioner

What is Invokana, anyway?

SGLT-2 inhibitors are a new class of medication for treating type 2 diabetes.  Unlike metformin – which helps improve sensitivity to the efforts of insulin to move excess glucose out of the blood stream into the cells of the body– SGLT-2 inhibitors curb the reabsorption of glucose back into the bloodstream through the kidneys.  Metformin is the classic, frontline medication prescribed for metabolic syndrome, prediabetes, and type 2 diabetes and has been used with a solid safety record since the 1970s.

Invokana was the first of this new class of medication to be approved by the FDA, with Farxiga following behind.  Currently there are three SGLT-2 inhibiting drugs on the market, as well as four combination medications, most of them combined with metformin in one way, shape, or another.

Three months prior to FDA approval of Invokana in March of 2013, concerns were raised by the agency’s regulator regarding possible cardiovascular injury, kidney damage and bone health risk.

In spite of those concerns, the FDA approved Invokana with the mandate that five post-marketing studies be conducted to evaluate potential problems such as pancreatitis, hypersensitivity, photosensitivity, liver abnormalities, pregnancy problems, and pediatric studies.

What problems are being seen with the use of these drugs?

Kidney problems – 457 reports of serious adverse events related to the kidneys in a report from the Institute of Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) in May of 2015, to include kidney failure, impairment and stones; dehydration, hypersensitivity, and abnormal weight loss.

Then, since May, 2015, the FDA has issued five drug safety communications regarding serious adverse events such as life-threatening ketoacidosis, severe electrolyte imbalances, acute kidney injury, possible increased risk of limb amputation, higher risk of bone fracture, sepsis and urosepsis, as well as urogenital infections.

If you knew this about a medication prescribed for you, would you want to take it?

Here’s the thing.  You are the guinea pig when being prescribed a new type of medication, especially when potentially significant risks to your health were already identified prior to FDA approval.  What’s more, the jury is completely out when it comes to the possible long-term risks associated with this class of medication.  But…the real clincher here is that in the majority of cases, type 2 diabetes can be prevented, controlled, and in many cases reversed without medication.

Why do I have type 2 diabetes? How does this differ from type 1 diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes is caused by damage to the pancreas that destroys the beta cells in the Islets of Langerhans, responsible for the production of insulin.  Without insulin, you will die due to ketoacidosis, a process that causes very rapid metabolism of fat cells for energy, because without insulin the body cannot use glucose. Type 1 diabetes is a completely different disease than type 2 diabetes and is most often related to an autoimmune attack on the pancreas.  Some of the reasons scientifically attributed to this process include an infection somewhere else in the body causing immune-system confusion, vaccination side effects, and early consumption of cow’s milk.

When it comes to type 2 diabetes, however, most people “lifestyle” their way into it by way of poor dietary choices, lack of exercise, and cumulative effects over time.  In most cases, type 2 diabetes is not inevitable if you know how to prevent it with lifestyle changes, control it with lifestyle changes, and even reverse it with lifestyle changes.

What do I do?

Change your diet  Eat a whole food diet based on whole foods, elimination of processed foods, grains, and simple sugars.  Plenty of veggies, moderate whole fruit, moderate good-quality protein, and plenty of healthy fats, such as real butter, animal lard, olive oil, coconut oil.  (Yes, I really do mean that!) That’s it.  Just do it.  This will starve your bloodstream of excess glucose, taking a load off the work of the pancreas when it comes to insulin production, and lowering all of that body fat that puts a strain on so many areas of health.

Try a program such as the Whole30 for just 30 days and see if you are not impressed; I know you will be!  But, you say, “Becky!  Does that mean you’re blaming ME for having Type 2 diabetes??”  Yeah, actually; kinda sorta.  I do know one person who is skinny, eats well, and has type 2 diabetes, but this situation is by far an exception to the rule.  In addition, you will be getting so many nutrients from the diet you have not been getting all along.

Get regular exercise – Weight training is best.  Key to the type 2 diabetes problem is the inability of the cells of the body to accept insulin’s efforts to move excess glucose from the bloodstream into the cells of the body.  Once the muscles burn off their liquid glucose supply, they are hungry for more, and this helps with insulin sensitivity.

Employ the use of some key foods, herbs, & nutrients – such as chocolate (believe it or not!), cinnamon, Beta glucans, chromium, Vitamin D, lipoic acid, Gymnema sylvestre, ginseng

 AND… too good to be true?  Did you know it is possible to regenerate insulin-producing beta cells?  That’s amazing, as this would apply to type 1 diabetics, as well:  arginine, avocado, berberine, chard, corn silk, curcumin, genistein, honey, nigella sativa (black seed), and stevia.

 Just be careful if you are on medication for the treatment of diabetes…

As you begin to employ some of these approaches and strategies, keep an eye on your blood glucose levels.  They will likely dip low, which is the point, but you need to be careful.  Be sure to keep in touch with your physician so your medication can be adjusted as appropriate.



by Rebecca L. Montrone


It’s interesting.  I’ve been doing some reading this week on the many studied health “bennies” that come with having a grateful mindset or “gratitude attitude.”  In many cases, it seems the perception is that gratitude stands alone.  Kinda like faith.  “I have faith.”  But… faith in what or in whom?  “I have gratitude.” Who… WHAT am I thanking?

I find all over the web encouragement to spend five minutes a day thinking about what we are thankful for and writing it down in a journal.  Hey, in my opinion, if you have to set aside five minutes a day to think about being grateful, you don’t have a “gratitude attitude.”  A grateful spirit is one that pours forth thanksgiving as an unceasing undercurrent to all of life.  AND it does require we know who we are grateful to.

Me?  I thank God.  Yep.  Radical, right?

I wish you all a Wondrous and Joyous Thanksgiving, and may gratitude mark our lives every moment of every day, and may “Thank You” be the first words we think of when we briefly awaken in the middle of the night!






Cookoo for Coconuts!



Is it possible that one “simple” food could wage war against: coconut-oil-2-dreamstime_xs_37617451

  • Hepatitis C
  • Influenza – FLU
  • Herpes simplex 1, 2
  • Chicken pox
  • Shingles
  • Epstein Barr Virus – MONO
  • Strep infections
  • Staph infections
  • Lyme disease
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • AND even the sensationalized viruses via mass media fear mongering, such as:
    • ZIKA
    • EBOLA

Coconut 3 dreamstime_xs_54291220.jpgREALLY?

If that were true, well, wouldn’t the worldwide population be a whole lot healthier?  Of course!


Greed.  Special interest.  There’s no money in preventing disease, there’s no money in curing disease, and worse, even if you could come up with a multi-billion-industry-dollar “drug” to prevent and cure disease, you can’t do it from coconut!



Stop Alzheimer’s Now – Bruce Fife, C.N., N.D.


beck-20  Posted by Rebecca Roentsch Montrone, BS, October 29, 2016

FIRE CIDER: Traditional, Decades-Old Recipe Now Under FIRE!



by Rebecca Roentsch Montrone, Nutritionist & Certified Holistic Health Practitioner

Some “Fire Cider” History

Back in the early 80’s, renowned American herbalist Rosemary Gladstar brainstormed a “spicy hot, deliciously sweet vinegar tonic” in the kitchen of her California School of Herbal Studies.  Anyone in the US who practices herbalism or is simply interested in herbal medicine knows of Rosemary Gladstone.  Rosemary was part of every single herbal medicine conference I ever attended, and in most cases was one of the ringleaders.  A prolific author, her Rosemary Gladstar’s Family Herbal is still one of my favorites.  While my professional bookshelves boast an impressive holistic health library, this book is one of the few that sits proudly on the coffee table in my office.

In her own words, Rosemary “taught hundreds of people how to make it” through her school of herbal studies “…and as I traveled about the country teaching about medicinal plants in conferences, schools, and various events.”


Taking the “Fire Cider” idea way back, Hippocrates recommended the “Oxymel” – a combination of vinegar and honey.  Later, Dr. D. C. Jarvis authored a bestselling book in 1958 called Vermont Country Folk Medicine in which he touted honey and apple cider vinegar as a panacea or cure-all.  (This book, by the way, also sits proudly on the coffee table in my office!)  He used this ancient Oxymel preparation to treat arthritis, gout, high cholesterol, as a metabolic stimulant to promote weight loss, and for longevity and life extension.

But what exactly IS “Fire Cider?”

Although there are many variations depending on the personal preferences of the formulator, these are the ingredients in Gladstar’s basic formula:

  • Raw horseradish root (powerfully antibacterial and stimulates lungs to cough stuff out)
  • Raw onion (contain allicin which slows down and kills a variety of viruses and bacteria)
  • Raw garlic (historically known as a food that fights infections from bacteria and viruses)
  • Raw ginger (research indicates can prevent and help heal flu infections)
  • Raw turmeric (shown repeatedly to be a big boost to the immune system)
  • Raw or dried cayenne pepper (defends against viruses and bacteria)
  • Raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar (antiviral, lymphatic system, intestinal health)
  • Raw, unprocessed honey (antioxidant, antibacterial, supports digestion)

How do I DO it?

Chop up all the solid ingredients, cover with the apple cider vinegar, add ¼ cup or so of honey.  Let sit for 3-6 weeks at room temperature, shaking daily.  Strain and store at room temp for several months or even longer in the fridge.

How do I USE it?

I like to say, “A shot a day keeps the doctor away!”  Rosemary says, “A small shot glass daily serves as an excellent tonic OR take teaspoons if you feel a cold coming on.”

BUT…“Fire Cider” trouble is brewing…  

Long story short, in 2012, a company called Shire City Herbals, based right here in New England, trademarked the product name “Fire Cider.”  While they stated no one opposed their application during the comment period, Gladstar says “The first notice to stop selling ‘Fire Cider’ was sent to Etsy business after the public opposition was over.” Almost humorous, if you go to their website and look at the staff pictures, my guess is that none of them were even living when Rosemary Gladstar first formulated Fire Cider.

Bottom Line?

You can’t trademark “hot chocolate.”

You can’t trademark “iced tea”

You can’t trademark “hot fudge Sundae”

You can’t trademark “bone broth”

Back off, Shire City Herbals.  As Gladstar suggests, you can certainly trademark “Shire City Fire Cider.”  Consider it, because the rest of us aren’t taking this lying down!

For our readers

If you are interested in learning more and/or supporting efforts to oppose the “Fire Cider” trademark by Shire City Herbals, visit:




Parkinson’s Disease – Not hopeless – the do’s and the don’ts


parkinsons-dreamstime_xs_49303798by Rebecca Montrone

Parkinson’s Disease is one of those dreaded degenerative diseases, the diagnosis of which – or even the fear of – can result in feelings of hopelessness and despair.  However, developing diseases such as this one is not inevitable.  There are causative factors that can be controlled, and there are some novel and exciting dietary and nutritional supplement strategies that can go far towards preventing, slowing down, and – I believe – even reversing Parkinson’s disease.

I have put together a very informative page with many hyperlinks for your own information and enlightenment.  Please check it out here.

This material will also be presented on WKBK radio Saturday, October 1, from noon to 1 pm.  If you miss it, check back later for the podcast post.

“Go to health!”  beck-20