As a follow up to my recent post on Botanical Infused Hair Oil for Long Strong Locks, I wanted to layer in the second half of what contributes to strong, healthy hair and that includes good nutrition and optimized digestion. It's often more convenient to rely on only topical products to enhance the way our hair looks and feels, and some good quality hair products are beneficial for scalp health and to strengthen and nourish damaged hair strands (botanical oils work really well for that!). But my foundational practice for long strong locks is what I'm putting in my body everyday and I focus heavily on nutrition and digestive support to make sure that, 1) I'm getting in all of the essential nutrients, vitamins, healthy fats and minerals that I need to maintain healthy organ systems, detoxification pathways and energy levels and, 2) I'm able to actually absorb all of the things I'm eating. It's a common saying, "You are what you eat", but it's more accurate to say, "You are what you absorb", and if we have impaired or compromised digestion, this can dramatically affect how our hair, skin and nails show up. 

As part of my foundational routine, I always incorporate whole, fresh foods into my diet every day with a variety of color and proteins (both plant based and animal) along with nutrient rich whole grains, legumes and healthy fats. As soon as my digestion starts to get a little out of whack, I notice it in the texture of my hair (and also my nails) and this is a sign that I'm not absorbing the nutrients I need. Your body speaks to you in little whispers like subtle hair and nail changes, and those little whispers are always telling you something that you should be paying attention to. Also, keep in mind that nutrition and digestive health are not the be-all-end-all solution for healthy hair. Sometimes other health considerations need to be addressed too such as hormone balance, stress, and immune system support. Everyone may require something different, physiologically. Here are a few recommendations to maintain long strong locks from a nutritional and herbal medicine perspective:

Essential Nutrition -----

Healthy Fats: I can't stress enough how important healthy fats and essential fatty acids are for hair health (and for so many other things, too!). When we have dry, damaged or brittle hair, that is a classically dry and deficient condition. Healthy fats are not only feeding and structurally supporting our cellular membranes but they're providing that much needed moisture into our bodies to help balance out those dry conditions. Fats are one of  our three dietary macronutrients (along with carbohydrates and proteins) and are essential for us to absorb our fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E & K. Avocado's, coconut oil, olive oil, walnuts, almonds, salmon, flax seed, chia seeds and hemp seeds are all great sources of healthy fats and a variety of these should be consumed daily. I often eat at least 1/2 an avocado or 1 tbsp freshly ground flax in a summer morning smoothie just to start off the day. A handful of walnuts and coconut butter also find their way into my snacks on the regular. Of course, everything in moderation. The amount of fats you should consume daily is different for each person and lifestyle, and your nutritionist or dietitian can help figure that out for you.

Essential minerals zinc, magnesium, potassium and selenium. If you're eating a moderate portion of at least 5 different colors every day of whole foods, fruits and vegetables, you're probably getting what you need in terms of essential minerals. All of these minerals are abundant in spinach, rainbow chard, carrots, nuts and seeds, legumes (especially lentils!), broccoli, sweet potatoes, black beans, whole grains (like quinoa, amaranth, wild rice), tomatoes, blueberries, bananas, sunflower seeds, peppers and mushrooms. Focus on COLOR, fresh vegetables and fruits and variety for each and every meal. Even a small amount consistently adds up over time!

Biotin - biotin is one of the most beneficial nutrients for healthy hair, and it's abundant in so many whole foods including walnuts, eggs, almonds, sunflower seeds, bananas and avocado's. As you'll notice, all of these biotin rich foods cross over into other categories for healthy hair like minerals, healthy fats and also proteins (hence why we should never pigeon hole foods - they're supportive in such comprehensive ways). 

Protein: proteins provide all of the amino acids we need to build strong muscles, organs and hormones so that we can function optimally and with adequate energy. Variety is key when it comes to proteins, as many protein rich foods are so abundant in nutrients that we also need for hair health. Some of my favorite proteins that pack a powerful nutrient punch include lentils, quinoa, walnuts, Brazil nuts, eggs, organic yogurts, organic turkey and chicken, salmon and black beans. Personally, I also eat organic red meats about two or three times per month for the extra iron. 

And, obviously, WATER! As a general rule of thumb, take your body weight, divide by 2, and that's the minimum amount of ounces you should drink daily. (Ex, if you're 120lbs = 60 ounces of water at minimum). Herbal tea counts towards this too, as long as it's not a tannin rich tea like black tea. 

Herbs for digestive support + nutrient absorption -----

Aloe vera - Aloe leaf, when taken internally, helps to increase the absorption of nutrients by almost 20x and provides a soothing, cooling and mucilaginous effect throughout the entire gastrointestinal tract. This helps to calm inflammation and irritated or inflamed tissues and promote daily bowel movements to eliminate toxins and maintain a thriving probiotic/saccharomyces balance in the large intestines and colon. Aloe vera itself is packed with nutrients and minerals that you also absorb, making it a powerful ally for both digestive health + nutritional intake. When there is any sign or indication where malabsorption is an issue, aloe is one of my first recommendations. 

Chamomile: Matricaria recutita is one of my personal favorite digestive modulators, being a calming and slightly cooling herbal remedy for irritated or over-active digestive states. Often if folks have a rapid digestion (i.e frequent diarrhea) or volatile and reactive GI tracts, chamomile helps to calm the spasms of the gut, allowing more time for nutrients to be absorbed via the small and large intestines, and offering an energetically cooling quality to an otherwise hot (overactive) gut. 

Nettle - literally jam packed with nutrients, Urtica dioica is like a multi-vitamin in herb form that is incredibly easy for folks with compromised digestion to absorb. It is also high in kidney nourishing minerals potassium, sodium, zinc and magnesium. Adding in a nettle tea to your daily routine is such a nourishing and easy way to add essential nutrients into your diet that's also herby delicious, affordable and easy and quick to do. 

Slippery Elm - similar to aloe, Ulmus rubra adds in some much needed digestive support with it's soothing and mucilaginous quality for irritated or inflamed digestion. Slippery elm itself is (not surprisingly) also packed with nutrients including polysaccharides and fiber and I treat this herb much like a food. I add this to teas and also use the powders in nut butter balls for a quick protein rich, healthy fat + nutrient dense snack. 

Of course, you don't have to eat every single one of these foods every day to maintain healthy hair. Think of the big picture within your weekly diet and also within your daily diet, get in as much variety as possible if these foods are affordable and available to you. I'm always a proponent of getting in nutrients via food before supplements, however high quality, food based, organic supplements can also be a good option to increase some of the minerals and nutrients on a daily basis. It may also be beneficial to have your nutritionist, dietitian or PCP do a mineral or vitamin panel before beginning to supplement so that you know exactly which nutrients and foods you need to focus on the most. Remember, foods and herbs serve as allies in your health journey and each one of us may require something a little different. 

Photography by Renee Byrd

I receive a slew of emails every month from folks around the country who have a passion for herbal medicine and/or nutrition, and they just don't know what their next steps should be in terms of where to study or continue their education. I have to say - these kinds of questions make me really excited, because I absolutely LOVE encouraging those passions to grow and for those people to go for it and become herbalists and nutritionists if that's what makes them the most happy. I know it's overwhelming to figure out what to do next, and there are certainly quite a few schools around the country that are excellent options. I can only speak about my experience in the Herbal Medicine/Nutrition Master's program at the Maryland University of Integrative Health (which has changed quite a bit since my time there from 2009-2012), and I've been wanting to compile some interviews & reviews of several other schools to pass on to these inquiring minds. I reached out to a handful of my friends and colleagues around the country who have gone through all kinds of programs, both herbal medicine and nutrition, and can offer honest feedback about their experience going through the programs, and some are now instructors at these schools or even founded schools themselves! The beautiful thing about studying herbal medicine in particular is the unique perspective every school can give you (it's definitely not a cookie cutter curriculum anywhere), and the expansiveness of herbal teachings all stem from so many fascinating traditions and traditional use. This is a short list (and there are loads more amazing schools and programs out there), so I hope to expand and add to these interviews over time. For now, I hope you enjoy the reminiscing of some exceptional herbalists & nutritionist & health coaches around the U.S.


Sacred Plant Traditions (Charlottesville, VA) Interview with Jan Wolf, Owner of The Elderberry

1. What made you choose to enroll in Sacred Plant Traditions over other herbal programs? 

It was locally based so I didn't have to travel far and I didn't have to sit through more computer time to learn (I don't care for webinairs); had many options as far as levels of instruction depending on how in-depth you wanted to go (i.e., 6 week, 9-month and 3 year programs plus many nationally known herbalists come to teach for workshops) and Kathleen [Maier] had a background as a physician's assistant prior to becoming an herbalist.

2. What do you feel made your experience in this program truly unique? 

I liked that it had a good balance of scientific and traditional ways of looking at things and exposure to different modalities such as some TCM, Ayurveda, etc. Plus the students were a mix of levels of herb knowledge and being taught by different teachers which made discussions really fun and educational because of different viewpoints and traditions being brought in. I really like how Kathleen (the founder) weaves stories and mystical elements into her the program.

3. How are you utilizing your experience gained in this program in your professional career or education today? 

I left my nurse practitioner job to start an herbal store and offer consultations.

4. Who would you recommend this program to, and who would you sway away from this program?

I think if offers a good variety of herbal education options and many will find a home here.  If you are looking for a more "off the grid" type of herbal practice, this might not be your cup of tea. It has a strong scientific basis (but not overwhelming) and not all herbalists want to or need to go that route. 

5.  In your opinion, what are the highlights of the herbal program here? Favorite classes, teachers, projects, opportunities?

I like Kathleen because she does such a great job of blending the mystic/energetic components with the more technical aspects.  She was focusing on Western herbal energetics before many others started doing it. Heather Wetzel was taught by Phyllis Light and infused the Appalachian aspect with the creative components of herbalism. Mary Michaud is a fantastic Ayurveda teacher and Bob Glickner was a wonderful TCM teacher. One of the best parts was Clinic 2 because then we got to see clients weekly and do group interviews and discuss cases. THAT really helped synthesize what I had learned.

6. What were some of the downsides or disappointments of the program, if any?

The once a week, 8 hour Clinic 1 and Clinic II days could be pretty intense.  There was a lot of testing in Clinic 1 but not so much in Clinic 2 and I found that I preferred being tested because it would help me see where I wasn't getting something and motivated me to keep up with the readings. I understand that this has changed and there is more testing going on.  Again, this was NOT a judgmental kind of thing but to make sure you understood what was being taught.  No grades were assigned. I like to make things and it would have been nice to do less demonstrating and more hands-on making herbal things. 

7. How long was the program, and when did you complete the program?

I did the Clinical Herbalist program (3 years) which started with a 9 month Foundations Program which met 1 weekend/month for 9 months (you could also do 1 day/week for 9 months but I was working at the time) then Clinic 1 and Clinic 2 were both 9 month, one day/week classes. I started in 2011 and finished 2013. I  do need to say that since I graduated they have revamped part of the program and do more hands on medicine making and testing in the Clinic 1 & 2 classes.

8. Is there an online option for this program? 

Not at this time

9. What is the official end result of this program (degree / certificate / title etc). 

You get a certificate and the hours involved would go towards you being able to sit for the AHG exam.


The Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine (Weaverville, NC) Interview with Kelly Moody

1. What made you choose to enroll in the Chestnut School over other herbal programs?

Honestly, when I was first searching for schools, I was coming out of living in the woods a lot, and being really directly engaged with plants, and I wanted to continue that kind of learning. The way that Juliet advertised her school at the time was that it was really hands on and interactive. That appealed to me, as well as Juliet's expertise, and the close proximity to my hometown in southern Virginia. Also, she had an apprentice program in addition to the school, and I was interested in that. I applied and got the apprenticeship as well as got in the program. 

2. What do you feel made your experience in this program truly unique (i.e - concepts you may not have received in other programs / the community of students / emphasis on research or medicine making etc). 

It is a little different now that Juliet has an amazing online course. I took her courses when it was in person and super immersive. Juliet has a huge amount of knowledge. She studied Botany in college, and knows Anatomy and Physiology without even looking at a book. She has a balanced perspective on science and spirit in relationship to the plants. I liked that. I feel like that can be rare- as some herbalists are all spirit, some all science. The Asheville community also changed my life. There are so many plant people. The city is surrounded by national forest, and you can pretty much spend all of your time in the woods if you want. 

3. How are you utilizing your experience gained in this program in your professional career or livelihood today?

Well, I'm still figuring it out. I caught the plant bug from Juliet and other teacher at the school like Marc Williams and Luke Learningdeer. I learned valuable skills in identifying plants which has taken me all over the country seeking out learning as many plants as possible. I also learned a lot about herb cultivation, and I used that later while running a vegetable farm CSA program. 

4. Who would you recommend this program to, and who would you sway away from this program?

Again, the program is different now, but I think that Juliet's online program is top notch. She started working on it while I was apprenticing for her. Being the Virgo that she is, the design of the whole program turned into a magnum opus of sorts. I feel she has kept the quality of the program intact even though it is online and not in person. I think accessibility is key- and the program being online now, even though it isn't a replacement for one getting out there and being with the plants, is a really good way to get people thinking about and learning about plants. It is a container for learning wherever you are. I would recommend it to anyone wanting to learn more about plants and medicine making- beginners and advanced herbalists. 

5.  In your opinion, what are the highlights of the herbal program here? Favorite classes, teachers, projects, opportunities?

Juliet curates a wonderful repertoire of teachers that taught in person and offer teachings for the course as well. I loved that Juliet offers classes on mead making and fermentation as a part of her program. 

6. What were some of the downsides or disappointments of the program, if any?

I wished there had been a year 2! It's a lot of work and exhausting, so I can see why Juliet steered clear of this. Especially since another Asheville herbalist, Corey-Pine Shane has a 2nd year clinical program. 

7. How long was the program, and when did you complete the program?

When I did the program, it was from March-December and 500 hours not including my apprenticeship hours. I completed it December 2013. 

8. Is there an online option for this program?

Yes! It is predominately what Juliet offers now through the Chestnut School. She does some in person classes every now and then, especially focused on medicinal herb cultivation, hosted in her wonderful herb gardens. 

9. What is the official end result of this program (degree / certificate / title etc). 

Certificate- 500 hour Herbal Immersion.  I am not sure what the official certificate looks like for the online program now.


The Hawthorn Institute of Clinical Herbalism & Ayurveda (Williams, OR). Interview with Pearl Sites, Founder and instructor.

What was your driving desire to start this new school and take on such a huge undertaking?

Tyler Wauter and I are both passionate about teaching and fostering relationships between plants, people, and communities.  Herbal medicine has changed my life and I receive so much joy from sharing this wisdom with others. To have a deeper understanding of how plants can facilitate healing on physical, emotional and spiritual levels is incredibly empowering and awe-inspiring. It is important to all of us at Hawthorn to keep this ancient tradition alive and to share our passions and knowledge with our students.

What do you feel makes the experience in this program truly unique? 

What makes Hawthorn truly unique is our dedication to our own personal development and creating significant and lasting wellness practices of our own.  Students learn and apply a variety of herbal, dietary, personal development and lifestyle skills.  Students practice creating a wellness routine and learn self-care techniques that are tailored to their constitutions and individual goals.

How can students utilize the knowledge and experience gained from this program in their own professional careers?

The practical knowledge gained from Hawthorn’s Foundations program can be applied immediately into students’ day-to-day lives; students graduate with a solid understanding of how to apply their understanding of western herbal medicine and Ayurveda to support not only their own health, but can use these tools to support the health of their friends and families.

For students looking to develop professional proficiency in herbal medicine we offer a clinical training programs that helps students build the skills to become an herbal practitioner.  In the clinical training program students not only broaden their understanding of herbs as medicine, they also learn interview skills, how to manage and market an herbal medicine practice, gain hands on experience conducting consults, and learn advanced formulation skills for their clients in our student-run botanical dispensary.

Who would you recommend this program to, and who would you sway away from this program?

We recommend the programs at Hawthorn Institute to folks who are open-minded and open-hearted. Students must be willing to be vulnerable, try new things, and communicate their needs. We encourage our students to be introspective, curious, and to address their own wellness from a holistic mind-body-spirit perspective.  

This program is less suitable for someone who has a one-modality attitude towards healing.  We teach botany and physiology, and we also have classes in yoga, plant meditation, flower essences and more. In other words, students should expect to learn some intimidating biomedical terminology, and they should also expect a little woo. We also foster a very safe space for folks to express themselves, so prospective students must be committed to communicating and showing respect for others and a plurality of beliefs.

In your opinion, what are the highlights of this school's curriculum?

In addition to the great herbal knowledge, students love the camping trips, yoga intensives and plant communication classes.  Another highlight for the students are our weekly personal development classes and check-ins, students enjoy having the structure and support of others to help set and achieve their goals. We discuss self-limiting beliefs, empowering communication practices, boundaries, time management, and more.  Medicine-making classes with Alexis Durham are another highlight. She is creative, engaging, and passionate about medicine making. She teaches techniques and medicinal preparations that I wasn’t taught in my years as an herb student, so I get to learn from her as well!

How long is the program?  

The Foundations program is five months long and runs from May to October. The Clinical Training Program is seven months and runs from April to November.  Students in the clinical program may continue to see clients in our student clinic beyond November, and are welcome to continue practicing out of the clinic once they have graduated.

Is there an online option for this program?  

There are currently no online options for this program at the moment.  We are in the process of creating some online options for 2018.

As faculty here, can you describe the community of students and what it's like to be an instructor here?

The community of students and faculty is without a doubt my favorite aspect of Hawthorn. We are goofy, communicative, and dedicated to being of service. We are all passionate about making a difference in this world and in our local communities.  The students, like the faculty, tend to be very progressive, interested in earth-skills, DIY projects, organic faming, whole foods preparation and preservation, outdoor activities and more.  We believe herb school is a place to create lasting relationships and we think of each other like family.  We hold space for our peers, support and challenge one another to grow, cheer each other on, laugh until we cry and vice versa.

What is the official end result of the program (degree / certificate / title etc).

Students receive a certificate of completion upon graduation

United Plant Savers Internship (Rutland, Ohio) Interview with Kelly Moody

1. Describe a typical day as an intern at UPS. What were some of your responsibilities and tasks? I have to say this is one of the most under rated herbal immersion programs out there. It changed my life and taught me the most about plants than any other studies I have done. 

We had mixed days of classes and work on the trails. We would wake up leisurely, a group of 5 of us and fix breakfast together. Chip, the intern coordinator, would come over and either we would do tree walks for the morning or do some trail work. This would include weeding the shade house beds that had plants like Ginseng and Goldenseal, or fixing trail signs throughout the property, or cutting back invasive plants. We had various guest teachers that would teach us medicine making throughout the week. We had the weekends off to study or go to the amazing farmer's market in Athens, Ohio about 30 minutes away! 

2. What was your favorite part about being involved in this sanctuary?

The immersion aspect of learning. Even when you were 'off', you could hike the trails and keep learning as all the plants are labeled on miles and miles of trails. The Heart Pond was also wonderful, we did a lot of hanging out and swimming on the hot muggy days of late Spring. The community around the property is also amazing, many had done the program in the 90's and bought land next door to homestead. 

3. What were some of the obstacles or challenges of living and working here?

The muggy weather and my spring allergies! There was no cell service or internet when I did the internship, which has changed now, and that was difficult and rewarding. 

4. How long was your internship, and what were the accommodations like?

I did the 6 week Spring program, but then stayed and lived on the property for the rest of the summer to caretake the land. The accommodations are simple but nice. Usually newly renovated dorm rooms built inside of an older barn. They have a state of the art compost toilet system and a communal yurt with a library and amazing kitchen and (now) internet. 

5. Describe the community of people you were living and working with. 

Five other wonderful interns that were just as excited about plants as I was! A community of neighbors that offered their homes and art studios to us (thanks Wendy Viny!! ) to use. 

6. What made this experience unique to other herbal schools or herbal curriculum you have gone through? 

There's really nothing like it. The mission of United Plant Savers has framed everything I've done since. The conservation aspect of herbalism is important to consider. I would recommend this program to anyone who can take the time away- because it really gives important insight to sustainability issues in herbal commerce. You learn to cultivate Ginseng, Goldenseal and other at-risk plants. You can take that knowledge anywhere you go and teach others or grow these plants on your own farm. Many interns even come back and teach classes!


Maryland University of Integrative Health: Herbal Medicine Masters Program (Laurel, MD) My perspective

1. Why did I choose the herbal medicine program at MUIH over other herbal programs?

After searching through several other schools on the east coast, I painstakingly decided that I wanted to immerse myself in a program that was heavily science & researched based that also offered a clinical year of experience.. I was trying to think what on earth I was going to do with this knowledge once I finished, and I wanted to finish with an actual degree in hand that could offer me some marketable and applicable skills while also teaching me the sacred language of plants AND western medical speak. This program could offer all of that. 

2. What made my experience truly unique?

The community of students that went through the program with me, and the incredible array of knowledge delivered to us from phenomenal teachers from all over the world. It was an extremely intense program (3 years/9 trimesters when I took it), and having such a tight knit group of friends/students was just irreplaceable. Learning in community is a big part of herbal medicine I think, and had I done a program entirely online I never would have gotten this part. As for the instructors - they made learning JOYFUL, applicable, interesting and intriguing for the first time in my life. They have so much specialized knowledge in herbal medicine, physiology, nutrition, pharmacy and formulating!

3. How am I utilizing my experience gained at MUIH in your professional career today?

I'm praciting as an herbal medicine and nutrition practitioner full time (largely due to the confidence the year of clinical rotations give me), and I own and operate a compounding herbal dispensary for a small practice due to the training I received from my 3 year internship in the herbal dispensary at MUIH. The program is especially good at teaching you the medical knowledge and language that you have to use to communicate with other doctors and health care practitioners in today's medical model.

4. Who would you recommend this program to, and who would you sway away from this program?

I would recommend this program to folks who love them some science and physiology and research and love the idea of practicing in a clinical setting. This is a lot of intense physiology, pathophysiology, pharmacology, materia medica and clinical / traditional research based foundations with some undertones of grass roots herbalism. If you're looking for more field immersion, wildcrafting or plant energetics this may not be your cup of tea (although there are hints of this throughout the program). 

5.  In your opinion, what are the highlights of the herbal medicine program at MUIH? Favorite classes, teachers, projects, opportunities?

The teachers! The compounding herbal dispensary (to learn how it all works behind the scenes!). Being able to participate in clinical trials and research studies! Extra extra physiology and pathophysiology! Field trips to United Plant Savers! 

6. What were some of the downsides or disappointments of the program, if any?

I wish we could have spent even more time outside wildcrafting, plant IDing and medicine making.

7. How long was the program, and when did you complete the program?

When I went through the program it was 3 years (with 1 year of supervised clinical experience and much more nutrition education). I was there from 2009-2012. Currently, it is a 2 year program with an optional year of clinical rotations and an entirely separate masters in nutrition program offered. 

8. Is there an online option for this program?

There is now!


Maryland University of Integrative Health: Nutrition Masters Program (Laurel, MD) Interview with Becky Crump (current student)

1. What made you choose the nutrition program at MUIH over other nutrition programs?

Instinct. Honestly, I was worried it was going to be some hippy institution that was heavy on feeling and light on substantial learning. Why? Simply because of experiences in my past with health coaching and/or integrative nutrition education. But, MUIH was online, it was close to me in case I did need to make the 2.5 hour drive to get there, and the partnership with John Hopkins made me feel at ease. 

2. Did you have experience in Nutrition or other nutrition programs before enrolling at MUIH?

[Before this, I enrolled at] The Institute for Integrative Nutrition because of my desire to learn more about nutrition, with the ultimate goal of receiving my health coach certification. The program at IIN, when I attended, cost approximately $5,000 and lasted for twelve months — a reasonable cost and time-frame, in my book. I was coming into this program [at IIN] with a business degree and close to a decade of experience in marketing and sales. The first 6 months were very fascinating. We focused extensively on learning various diet theories. The second half of the program however, focused almost exclusively on starting, running, and growing a health coaching practice. This was very off-putting for me because I had that knowledge both from school and from work. (I do understand that others would not have entered with that same experience and might find this portion of the program helpful.) Beyond repetition, it was also off-putting because I was there to learn about nutrition and had to dedicate close to half of my program to things that were unrelated. Because of this, I left feeling like my nutrition knowledge only scratched the very surface, and that I was ill-equipped to go out there into the world and guide people toward better health outcomes. That is why I chose to enroll in MUIH’s masters of clinical integrative nutrition program. There I have found the information I was looking for. 

3. What do you feel made your experience in this program truly unique 

It’s hard. Like, really hard. Much harder than I anticipated, and for that I’m very grateful. And the teachers have been, and continue to be, phenomenal human beings with brilliant minds. They want to challenge us, pushing us past what we think we’re capable of, and are there to celebrate us when we achieve those damn near impossible goals. I like a challenge, but I also like a support system. MUIH gives me both.

4. How are you utilizing your experience gained at MUIH in your professional career today?

I’m a full-time organizational transformation consultant so I don’t actually apply my learning right now as much as I’d like. However, I do consult with my team at work, I pickup clients here and there to support their wellness goals, or help them overcome illness, and I keynote around the country on the topic of wellness in the workplace. None of that would have happened without my education from MUIH.

5. Who would you recommend this program to, and who would you sway away from this program?

Anyone with grit and determination who has an insatiable desire to learn, and the work ethic to make it happen. That, and, they kind of need to want to help people — but that’s a given, right?

6.  In your opinion, what are the highlights of the nutrition program at MUIH? Favorite classes, teachers, projects, opportunities?

I don’t have a favorite. I have enjoyed all of my classes except for organic chemistry — which was truly my hell. I’m only half of the way through the program though, so this is likely to change!

7. What were some of the downsides or disappointments of the program, if any?

None. Love it. 

8. How long was the program, and when did you complete the program?

The track I’m on is 3 years and I’m a mere halfway through it. 

9. Is there an online option for this program?

Yup! That’s how I’m making it happen!


Institute for Integrative Nutrition : Interview with Brittany Mullins of Eating Bird Food

1. What made you choose to enroll in the IIN over other health coaching or nutrition programs?

I considered IIN for at least 2-3 years before I decided to attend and I explored many options before finally enrolling. I thought numerous times about going back to school to get my RD and even took a few classes at an ADA accredited school before deciding that wasn't the route for me. I didn't want to work in a clinical setting and I wanted to focus on a holistic approach to health through food. 

2. What do you feel made your experience in this program truly unique (i.e - concepts you may not have received in other programs / the community of students / emphasis on research or medicine making etc). 

The program covers a variety of dietary theories and focuses on bio-individuality, meaning that every client is different and there's not a perfect way of eating, exercising, and living that works for everyone. I also really enjoyed the focus on all aspects of health and not just weight.

3. How are you utilizing your experience gained in this program in your professional career or education today?

I use my health coaching certification every day — through my personal website and blog, Eating Bird Food, and within my health coaching practice. 

4. Who would you recommend this program to, and who would you sway away from this program?

I would recommend this program to anyone interested in becoming a health coach, particularly those looking to help others live a healthy life through one-on-one health coaching, corporate wellness or online programs. IIN probably isn't ideal for someone who wants to work in a clinical setting as these places will most likely be looking for someone with a Registered Dietitian degree.

5.  In your opinion, what are the highlights of the nutrition program here? Favorite classes, teachers, projects, opportunities?

I loved learning from some of the most amazing thought leaders in the nutrition and wellness space — Deepak Chopra, Mark Hyman, Andrew Weil and Gabrielle Bernstein. 

6. What were some of the downsides or disappointments of the program, if any?

If you love scientific data, the IIN curriculum might not excite you as much as another program. While they cover basic science and anatomy concepts, they put a lot of focus on lifestyle factors that influence health - all of the things that nourish your mind, body, and soul that can't be found on your plate: relationships, career, exercise, and spirituality. 

7. How long was the program, and when did you complete the program?

The program is 1 year. I graduated in 2011. 

8. Is there an online option for this program?

Yes, the program used have an in-person option but it's only offered online now. Being online made the program accessible and manageable even when I was still working a full-time marketing job. 

9. What is the official end result of this program (degree / certificate / title etc). 

Health Coach Certificate


Have you had an educational experience in the nutrition or herbal medicine field that you would like to share? Contact me and let's chat! I would love to continually update this interview series with different schools!

Simple. Easy. Nourishing. I love a good salad. This time of year however, the last thing I want is a cold, raw salad. Summer yes. Autumn, not so much. I'm craving squashes and warming spices and greens and colorful roots and gourds. I'm basically craving the season. In Ayurvedic nutrition, your body (and your health) is never stagnant. Your diet should change as your body - and your external environment - changes. This means altering your diet with the flexibility of the season, and relying on the abundance of what is available to balance, nourish and align your physical body. As we ease into Autumn, the weather becomes more crisp, the chill in the air penetrates our sun kissed skin, and our digestive tract subtly reflects this change in the season by hinting at new cravings.

As we transition out of Summer, foods like soups, stews, casseroles, roasted roots and warming pots are what many of us crave, and for good reason. Balancing our internal environment with our external environment is a major way that our body remains in homeostasis and becomes neither too cool or too warm. In the heat of summer, cooling moist foods like milks and coconut and raw veggies help to balance that external sweltering heat. Likewise, in the autumn and winter, foods like ginger, roasted squashes and cooked beans and turmerics help to warm our body from the chill outdoors. This makes the transition easier, and allows for less strain on our organ systems during seasonal change. Also, NUTRIENTS. In all seasons, if you're lucky enough to have access to colorful fruits, vegetables and proteins, that means you have access to essential nutrients the body needs to perform basic physiological functions like liver detoxification, thyroid function, kidney filtration, cardiovascular function and overall cellular health. 

I'm not a huge fan of taking multi-vitamins, which is why when I create meals I like to keep them as nutrient dense as possible to make sure I'm getting what I need from the foods that naturally pack a powerful nutrient punch. Butternut squash, quinoa, greens, pomegranate, onions, sea salt - all in all, this has everything a multi vitamin will give you and then some. Quinoa alone is packed with minerals including zinc, iron, copper, magnesium, B-vitamins, fiber and protein. I add a whole grain like this to almost every dish I eat for the mineral content alone (and they taste amazing - added bonus). Butternut squash is an excellent source of Vitamins A and C. Pomegranates are high in polyphenol antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. And greens - well, seasonal micro greens are magical little things that have all of the above AND give you that hint of bitter flavor that's so supportive of overall digestion AND liver function. 

But let's get out of this tiny micro-view of food and step back to the big picture. You don't have to know the mineral and nutrient value of every single food you eat to put a simple, nourishing meal together. Keep it seasonal, keep it colorful and you've pretty much got it. That's what I did with my Savory Autumn Nourish Bowl. With 8 ingredients, 5 colors and 1 hour, I'll have this all week, and all week it's going to be chilly, so this will be an addition to breakfast AND lunch if my little Vata body is feeling the chill....which it always does. 

Optional: add your favorite dressing to this hearty savory salad, as I like to add some Flaming Elixir to mine, with a dash or olive oil and sea salt!

Savory Autumn Nourish Bowl

2 small Butternut Squashes
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp dried Sage
1 tsp sea salt
1 Pomegranate
3 cups seasonal micro greens
1/4 cup chopped scallions
1/2 cup soaked quinoa
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth

Pre-heat oven to 400F

Peel and chop the butternut squash into cubes and place in a large bowl. Add the olive oil, sage and salt and stir to coat well. Transfer to a baking dish and bake for 1 hour, or until a knife can insert easily into the cubes. 

While the squash is cooking, combine the soaked quinoa with 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth and let simmer (covered) for 15 minutes. 

While the quinoa is simmering, chop and seed the pomegranate and place the seeds in a small bowl. 

Chop about 1/2 cup scallions and place in a small bowl. 

Once everything is prepared, in a large bowl, add the micro greens. Top with about 1 cup butternut squash, 1/2 cup quinoa, pomegranate seeds, scallions and eat throughout the week. You will have leftover squash and quinoa to eat throughout the week to add to other meals. 


Herbal medicine and nutrition is my expertise. Understanding plants, their properties, and their powers is my passion.


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