I invite you to send me any questions you have on health and wellness, herbs, herbal medicine, plant spirit medicine, natural skincare, and anything else that comes to mind that I may answer. I can’t diagnose or treat over the internet, but I welcome suggestions on what you might want to read in my blog.


Healthy Dressing or Butter Substitute

This is a delicious blend I’ve been making for years. Depending on how thick or thin I make it, I use it as a dressing for salads, steamed veggies, pasta, etc. or as a spread for bread or toast on its own or in a sandwich. It’s savoury, so I don’t use it with sweet things like jams, or with nut butters, etc. For those kinds of things I just use straight coconut oil.

The basics:

Any kind of cold-pressed, organic oil such as flax, hemp, olive, coconut, etc.

Garlic – either powdered or fresh minced


Nutritional yeast

Other possible ingredients:

Kelp powder – this gives the dressing a thicker texture and is a yummy way of getting iodine.

Cayenne pepper

Black pepper

Mustard – either prepared or dry



Italian spices – rosemary, oregano, thyme, sage, basil – fresh or dried


Maple syrup

Vinegar – any kind.

Sundried tomatoes  

Whatever you can think of!

Specific amounts of the various ingredients isn't really that important – just blend them to taste. If you like lots of garlic, then add lots; if you like it thicker, add more nutritional yeast and kelp; if you like spicy, add more cayenne; etc.

This is the blend I make most often as a dressing:

1 tbsp flax oil

1 tbsp olive oil

½ tsp garlic powder

½ tsp kelp powder

1 tbsp nutritional yeast

pinch of cayenne pepper

1 tsp Tamari

It is so easy to whip this up. Especially if using dried garlic and spices, you can put this together in about a minute and have a very healthy, nutritious, delicious spread or dressing. It’s a good way to eat your omega 3, 6, and 9 oils without having to take them straight or in gelatin capsules. You can make up a bigger amount and keep it handy in the fridge. Be sure not to heat this dressing as it destroys the fragile oils. It’s fine to add it to hot foods after they’ve been cooked though.

Be sure to keep track of your recipes if you create something you absolutely love and want to repeat!


The Health Benefits of Bare Feet and Being 'Grounded'

A study called Earthing: Health Implications of Reconnecting the Human Body to the Earth's Surface Electrons which came out in the Journal of Environmental and Public Health in January brings to light the important health benefits of walking barefoot on the Earth or being 'grounded' to the Earth, otherwise known as 'earthing'. In the conclusion of the article, the authors state:

"Emerging evidence shows that contact with the Earth—whether being outside barefoot or indoors connected to grounded conductive systems—may be a simple, natural, and yet profoundly effective environmental strategy against chronic stress, ANS dysfunction, inflammation, pain, poor sleep, disturbed HRV, hypercoagulable blood, and many common health disorders, including cardiovascular disease."

I've always loved being barefoot. As a kid, I don't think I ever put shoes on in the warmer months unless I was forced. Remember how tough your feet would get? Even as an adult, I still walk barefoot as much as possible and can spend a whole week camping barefoot.

There is a barefoot revolution going on out there. Tom Kutscher, the co-ordinator of the 'Barefoot Hikers and Grass Walkers of Greater Kansas City', has written an article with 125 reasons to go barefoot.

While walking barefoot in areas where you could injure your feet, such as a forest, it's important to 'fox walk' - a way of walking that prevents injury and allows you to walk quietly in nature. Here's a short video on the techniques of fox walking by Ryan Salmon to get you started. 

So this summer find yourself a patch of earth somewhere and free your feet for some profound physical and spiritual healing!


Toronto Standard's film 'Made in Toronto' - Herbalist 

Here's a short film about Thuna Herbals in Toronto featuring herbalist Evelyn Dorfman, who is the granddaughter of the original Dr. Thuna. That's Evelyn standing in front of one of her grandad's stores when she was just a wee thing.

Evelyn and I attended Dominion Herbal College together many moons ago.



Free Lecture on Plant Spirit Medicine 

I'm giving a free one hour lecture on Plant Spirit Medicine this Sunday, February 5th at Richters Herbs.

I love Richters. I love wandering up and down the rows and rows of herbs, seeing old friends and being introduced to new ones. I love the loamy soil smell and the moist air. They have such an amazing selection of herbs - pretty much anything you could want can be found there.

...and the catalogue! Oh, the catalogue. It's like the People's magazine of herb enthusiasts. Who's out, who's in; what's new, what's happening. Fantastic!

If you have the time this Sunday, it'd be great to meet you. Otherwise, be sure to catch one of their other free lectures offered throughout the year or just go to the greenhouses to stroll the isles and dream of gardening in the spring.




Living Earth School of Herbalism - Herbal Field Studies

Herbal Field Studies Introductory Class is now online!


This class is the prerequisite for Herbal Field Studies - a series of seven full-day outdoor workshops running monthly from April to October.


The Introductory Class establishes the theoretical foundation for the field workshops and provides an excellent overview of wild plant identification and ethical wild-harvesting. It is useful to any herbal student or herb enthusiast who wants to develop a more intimate knowledge of wild herbs.


Once you complete the introductory class, you will be able to attend any or all of the field workshops lead by Michael Vertolli in which you will learn how to identify, harvest and use many wild herbs that grow in Ontario or in similar ecosystems. At each field workshop you will also make an herbal preparation using herbs harvested during the workshop.


There is no prerequisite necessary to take this class and it is open to anyone with an interest in wild herb identification whether or not you continue on with the field workshops.  

Cost: $65.

For more information or to register, please click here.

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