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Optimal Health

An online program addressing food intolerances as an essential life skill with clinical herbalist Paul Bergner

This program has roots in my own journey. Over the summer, my normal aches and pains grew to a level that slowed my activity, robbed my sleep and grabbed my attention. I say normal, because I have dealt with muscle aches and pains since I was a young teen. By age 28, I quit running and other high impact activities, relying on cycling, swimming and weight-lifting to stay fit.

More than two decades later, even walking or climbing stairs is painful.

Charis Lindrooth Plant Walk square

With the increased inflammation, I noticed I began to feel discouraged, even despondent. It was at this point, with the support of my closest herbal allies, I began to seek help. When conventional testing showed that structurally all was well with my joints, I turned to one of the most experienced clinicians on the topic of inflammation and food intolerances, Paul Bergner.

Paul’s incisive explanation of how food triggers a gut immune response, which can result in a myriad of inflammatory responses in the body grabbed my attention in a new way. Even though, as a health care practitioner, I have studied the concept of food intolerances for many years, I began to understand more deeply the nuance of these immune reactions, as well as the importance of a well-managed assessment of them.

What amazed me most, though, was how deftly he reset my attitude about food, so that this time when I decided to give up dairy, I did so with joy and a new appreciation for a simpler approach to what I was eating. 

My story is not finished. Within a week of strict avoidance of dairy, the pain in my left hip dissipated. But I still have pain in my right hip. And I have a lot of questions for Paul.

The rest of my story will unfold with the community of students ready to take this journey with me. I hope to see you there.

~ Charis Lindrooth ~

What's Inside this Program?

This 6-week program describes in great detail current scientific concepts of digestion, immunity, and autoimmunity to explain the “dotted line” between an immunological response to food peptides in the gut, and systemic manifestations of disease.

You will learn assessment methods, with an emphasis on interview and examination skills rather than on unreliable and expensive laboratory antibody testing. A complete review of lifestyle factors, nutrition, herbal materia medica, and formulation strategies for inflammation and Leaky Gut Syndrome are included. This course prepares you with the complete skill set to assess and coach a client, or yourself, through removal of an offending food.

The course material was developed over a period of more than 25 years, and delivered in various formats to hundreds of advanced students of herbalism, nutrition, and naturopathic medicine as part of their pre-clinical training. These methods have been finely tuned in several multi-faculty teaching clinics continuously between 1995 and the present. Foods in the diet which evoke an immunological inflammatory response are nearly universal in modern chronic disease, and removal can in many cases cause symptoms of even some serious diseases to fall away. Cases presented will include congestive heart failure, panic disorder, systemic lupus, multiple sclerosis, severe eczema, systemic lymphadenopathy, and a dozen more physical and mental disorders which were cured or greatly improved with removal and strict avoidance of an offending food.

After completion of the course, you will have an opportunity at the start of the new year to engage in a supervised food withdrawal.

Through the course of this extensive 6-week program, you will learn…

This program also includes the following materials…

The Healing Power of Minerals and Trace Elements

by Paul Bergner
(abridged PDF eBook)

200 Presentation

References included
+42 pages of
supplemental readings

Access to Last Year's Course Info

Including recordings and community conversations

What's the Schedule?

All classes start at 7pm Eastern Time. Paul Bergner teaches the core classes on Tuesdays.

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Introduction to Concepts of Systemic Inflammation

Using illustrative case studies, we will discuss causes of inflammation, it’s role in chronic disease, and methods of assessment. We will describe the role of diet and nutrition to support natural anti-inflammatory processes, explain the most important nutrients to prevent or treat chronic inflammation, and show how some foods can be pro-inflammatory.

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Anatomy & Physiology of the Gut Lining with Tammi Sweet

We will discuss the detailed anatomy & physiology of a healthy intestinal lining to set the stage for further discussion of the pathophysiology of Leaky Gut Syndrome.

Tuesday, November 16th, 2021

The Pathophysiology of the Gut-to-System Axis and Systemic Inflammation

We will explain the normal mechanisms that maintain gut wall integrity, and the pathologies that can produce injured barrier function and Leaky Gut Syndrome. We will then show the exact molecular and immune mechanisms which allow local inflammation in the gut to produce inflammatory effects in other tissues in the body.

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Cultivating a Healthy Microbiome

The human body, especially the gut, harbors up to ten times as many microbial cells as human cells. What are these microbes and what are they doing? What do they tell us about ourselves? Just as our human genome records traces of who we are and the conditions we have adapted to during evolutionary history, our microbial genomes may record traces of what we have eaten, where we have lived, and who we have been in contact with. Let’s take a closer look at the impact of these “bugs” on human health, and the impact our diet has on them.

Monday, November 22, 2021

Herbal and Nutritional Approaches to Autoimmune Disease with David Winston

Over the past 30 years the incidence of autoimmune disease has increased dramatically. In this class we will explore the reasons this is occurring and underlying pathophysiology of autoimmune conditions. While “curing” these conditions is unlikely, they can be effectively controlled, allowing people to live healthier and more productive lives. We will examine the types of herbs that are appropriate for various autoimmune conditions. There are many herbs to choose from and we will discuss why one would be more appropriate than another for a specific person and their specific disease. In addition nutritional supplements and dietary changes for AI disease will also be discussed.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Natural Therapeutics, Medications, Herbs, and the Digestive Tract

We will first show the harms that can occur to the gut from the side effects of common anti-inflammatory pain medications, and describe herbal strategies for weaning from these drugs. We will then describe an array of natural methods to reduce inflammation, with diet and lifestyle, and elaborate on our materia medica for chronic inflammation.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Pathophysiology of Food Intolerances

We will do a deep dive into the specific pathophysiology of food intolerance, including the microanatomy of the cells lining the gut, the gut associated lymphatic tissue, the types and nature of antigens and irritants in food, and the mechanisms by which inflammatory components from the gut can initiate or aggravate systemic or local inflammation in distant areas. We will present more than 20 case studies of serious illness essentially cured by removing antigenic foods.

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Flower Essences for Emotional Support with Emily Ruff

This introduction to Flower Essences will include the history of these remedies work, how to prepare formulations of remedies, and creative applications for including flower essences in your daily regimen. An overview of specific essences to empower motivation and willpower, address root traumas that can manifest in unhealthy relationships with food and substances, recovery from food addiction and overcoming symptoms of withdrawal will be included.

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Assessing Food Intolerances

We will describe ways of evaluating food intolerances through clinical signs and symptoms, energetic presentations, and interview skills. Methods will include evaluation of digestive, musculoskeletal, and mood/energy symptoms, as well as patterns described in traditional Chinese syndrome differentiation. We will review the science of lab testing for antibodies.

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Integrating Mindfulness with Food and Herbs with Deb Soule

For many of us, food choices can be driven by our emotions and stress. This can lead to a diet that may derail our immune system and undermine our health. Shifting our mindset about what we see as comfort food is a key step in overcoming food intolerances. We will talk about herbs and practices that can help us approach our sustenance with balance, clarity and joy.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Elimination, Rechallenge and Herbal Therapeutics for Inflammation and Leaky Gut

We will describe the full clinical skills set to supervise an elimination and rechallenge to confirm food intolerance and demonstrate the benefits of removal to the patient. We will discuss the merits of various dietary approaches. Finally we will put it all in a package with a protocol, including supporting herbal therapeutics for the elimination process and gut healing.

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Final Wrap Up and Q&A with Paul Bergner

This final class will provide and overview of the core material and bring the pieces together so that the attendee is prepared to assist themselves and others through a proper assessment and removal of food intolerances, supported with diet, herbs and lifestyle changes which address the gut, inflammation and immunity. Bring your questions!


All Students are automatically eligible to participate in the

40-Day Food Challenge

Hosted by Paul Bergner and Charis Lindrooth

Tuesday, January 4 - February 13, 2022

In a private group on the BotanicWise platform, Paul and Charis will help you apply the course principles and experience a community supported food elimination and re-challenge. Guidelines for an effective food elimination strategy, as well as helpful tips to cope with feelings of deprivation, cravings and withdrawal will be included. Steps for re-introducing foods at the end of the Food Challenge will also be discussed.

This bonus alone is worth $125!

About Your Teacher

Paul Bergner

Paul Bergner is Director of the North American Institute of Medical Herbalism. He is a medical herbalist, clinical nutritionist, educator, author, and naturalist. He has studied and practiced natural medicine, nutrition, and medical herbalism since 1973, has written seven books, and has published and edited the Medical Herbalism journal since 1989. Paul has taught all aspects of clinical herbalism/nutrition since 1996 and has taught academically at university undergraduate and master's levels. He has mentored more than 400 students through 8-month clinical residency programs.

In addition to the core classes taught live by Paul Bergner, we’ve lined up 5 additional teachers to add even more depth to the topics!

Tammi Sweet

Tammi Sweet is a passionate and energetic teacher. She brings 30 years teaching experience into the classroom. Her amazement and wonder of the human body and how it works shines through as she presents the material in ways people can understand and utilize. She loves integrating the wisdom of the body with all aspects of living. Presently she co-directs her Herbal Program at Heartstone Herbal School, and teaches throughout the country. Her learning of the body has come through many paths including a master's degree in neurobiology, teaching anatomy & physiology, massage school, yoga teacher training, herbal studies, collegiate athletics and most importantly, an ever-growing love of understanding who we are in relation with this wonderful home we call the earth.

David Winston

David Winston is an author, herbalist and ethnobotanist with 49 years of training in Chinese, Western/Eclectic and Southeastern herbal traditions. He has been in clinical practice for over 40 years and is an herbal consultant to physicians, herbalists and researchers throughout the USA and Canada. In 2013, David was presented with the Natural Products Association (NPA) Clinician’s Award and awarded a fellowship by the Irish Register of Herbalists. David is the founder/director of the Herbal Therapeutics Research Library and the dean of David Winston’s Center for Herbal Studies, a two-year training program in clinical herbal medicine. He is an internationally known lecturer and frequently teaches at medical schools, symposia and herb conferences. He is the president of Herbalist & Alchemist, Inc., a manufacturer that produces herbal products that blend the art and science of the world’s great herbal traditions.

Deb Soule

Deb Soule is an herbalist, gardener, teacher and author of The Woman's Handbook of Healing Herbs and How to Move Like a Gardener. Deb began organic gardening and studying the medicinal uses of herbs at age 16. Her faith in the healing qualities of plants includes a desire to make organic herbs easily accessible to women and families living in rural areas. In a small 8 by 10 foot room in her house, Deb began preparing various herbal remedies. In the fall of 1985, with her first mail order catalog and a small selection of herbal extracts and teas, Deb launched Avena Botanicals.

Emily Ruff

Emily Ruff is a community herbalist who has practiced the art and science of plant healing for over a decade. Emily has served as Executive Director of the Florida School of Holistic Living for the last fifteen years. Inspired by a need for greater connection among her regional community, she founded the annual Florida Herbal Conference event in 2012. Sharing her time between Florida and Vermont, she currently serves as director of the Sage Mountain Botanical Sanctuary. Emily’s classes have been described as “heart-filled,” “enriching,” and “empowering,” creating a bridge between the teachings of our ancestors and the technologies of our modern world.

Maya Shetreat

Maya Shetreat, MD is a neurologist, herbalist, urban farmer, and author of The Dirt Cure. She has been featured in the New York Times, The Telegraph, NPR, Sky News, The Dr. Oz Show and more. Dr. Maya is the founder of the Terrain Institute, where she teaches Terrain Medicine™, earth-based programs for transformational healing. She works and studies with indigenous communities and healers from around the world, and is a lifelong student of ethnobotany, plant healing, and the sacred.

Food for Optimal Health

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Food for Optimal Health

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Are you ready to learn the tools to transform your relationship with food and optimize your health?

Registration closes on Nov 9, 2021!

  • 6-week course with live classes
  • All classes are recorded
  • Lifetime availability to recordings
  • Bonus: 40-day Food Challenge!
$ 350

Results from Last Year's Attendees

“I’ve resisted elimination diets since I learned about them decades ago. “Don’t make me give up my food!!” That was my mantra. I’m a foodie; I love flavors and textures and the thought of “denying” myself these pleasures was unbearable. But I’d noticed changes over the past few years that I couldn’t deny: bloating, aches and pains, and digestive things (I’ll spare you the details), but “not normal” fits the bill. When you shared info about this class, I just knew I had to lean in and take the leap. Fast forward and my whole family is entering week six of the 40-day Food Challenge and I can’t believe I resisted feeling so good for so long. Bloating? Gone. Joint aches? Gone. Low energy? Gone. Chocolate cravings (a food I didn’t eliminate)? Gone. Sugar cravings? Minimal and fruit suffices. My husband is ready and willing to give up beer (huge whoa!!!). My five-year-old’s belly isn’t distended for the first time in his entire life. Thank you for connecting me with Food for optimal Health. It’s been life-changing and I am eternally grateful!”
Hannah S.
“This course has been such a gift - there’s so much to it! I have to mention that the price of the program was so, so fair for the amount of information shared and the depth of content. I am in deep gratitude both personally and professionally to you, Paul, and all that made this platform accessible, easy to use, especially for people like me that couldn't be part of the live classes! ”
Darlene W.
“I want to thank everyone here for your teachings, tips, recipes and sharing of experiences and ideas. I've done a lot of elimination diets in the past, but this time was nothing short of amazing. I feel really well prepared to continue my own journey of finding out what foods don't work for me and I feel totally comfortable helping other people try this process too. The group support was a big help for sure, but Paul's advice to add yummy foods (and even high calorie treats) to ease the pains of transition was a true game-changer and gives me a solid foundation to coach others through the process. I thought I was going to go through this challenge with clenched fists, cowering under an imaginary bullwhip every time a craving hit. Who knew that bacon-wrapped dates, butternut crackers, herb tea, buckwheat pancakes, and flower essences can slay demons? In the past, I was obsessed with the suffering and couldn't even tell if I felt better. This process totally freed me up to pay attention to how I was feeling, which is the whole point of doing this, to begin with. LOVED this program and love all of you! ”
Susan B.

100% Worth It!

We are so committed to our programs we will happily refund your full tuition price within 30 days of the start of the program if you are unhappy with it.

Need Help or Have Questions?

Program Overview

This 6 week course describes in great detail current scientific concepts of digestion, immunity, and autoimmunity to explain the “dotted line” between an immunological response to food peptides in the gut, and systemic manifestations of disease. Core classes will be taught by Paul Bergner. Special guests add to the core material: Charis Lindrooth, Tammi Sweet, David Winston, Deb Soule, and Emily Ruff. All attendees are invited to join a 40 Food Challenge starting January 4, hosted by Paul Bergner and Charis Lindrooth.
You will learn assessment methods for food intolerances, with an emphasis on interview and examination skills rather than on unreliable and expensive laboratory antibody testing. A complete review of lifestyle factors, nutrition, herbal materia medica, and formulation strategies for inflammation and Leaky Gut Syndrome are included. This course prepares you with the complete skill set to assess and coach a client, or yourself, for food intolerances.

This course will take place within BotanicWise’s virtual Mighty Network Community.

The BotanicWise virtual community is compatible with all devices so you can conveniently access all class materials at home or on the go. You can download the Mighty Networks App directly from the App Store or Google Play Store by searching for "Mighty Networks." The iOS app is compatible for both iPhone and iPad, and the Android app is designed to work perfectly on your favorite Android device. Otherwise, you can use Text Me the App, the prompt at the bottom of your Personal Settings page of your Mighty Network account.

If you wish to attend classes live, core classes taught by Paul Bergner are held on 6 consecutive Tuesdays, beginning November 9, 2021 at 7PM ET.

Each core class is approximately 90 minutes and includes a live Q&A. Guest teachers will be hosted on Thursdays at 7PM ET for 60 minutes. The guest speaker during the week of the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday will be hosted Monday, November 22, 7PM, ET.

If you cannot attend classes live, recordings will be available indefinitely. All attendees are welcome to join the community 40-Day Food Challenge hosted by Paul Bergner and Charis Lindrooth.

Who Is This Program Perfect For?

The course is geared towards both practitioners and individuals who have some experience with herbal medicine and self care. The information is particularly useful for those dealing with chronic pain, inflammation, migraines, digestive issues, and autoimmunity.

This is an online program that requires a computer, laptop, or device with internet access. If you lack the technology or know-how to participate online, this program may not be an option for you.

Tuition and Guarantee

Full tuition for this in-depth course is $350 and includes the 40-Day Food Challenge (valued separately at $125).

There is no expiration date for access to course materials.

No, there is no need to renew membership. Your tuition includes ongoing access to course materials.

Yes! We offer a 100% “Worth It” guarantee. We are so committed to our programs we will happily refund you your full tuition price if you are unhappy with the course. Refunds must be requested by December 10, 2021.

We accept all major credit cards as well as PayPal.

Last Little Details

  • This program was developed over a period of more than twenty-five years, and delivered in various formats to hundreds of advanced students of herbalism, nutrition, and naturopathic medicine as part of their pre-clinical training. These methods have been finely tuned in several multi-faculty teaching clinics continuously between 1995 and the present.
  • Tuition to the course includes access to Paul Bergner and the guest teachers during live sessions.
  • All attendees are invited to a 40-Day Food Challenge, a community supported experience geared to help you master the skills of a successful food intolerance assessment.
  • In addition to class Q&A sessions, students will receive 200 presentation slides with references, 42 pages of supplemental readings, and an abridged PDF copy of The Healing Power of Minerals and Trace Elements by Paul Bergner.
  • Access to the 40-Day Food Challenge will provide an opportunity to experience the skills taught in the course with guidance from Paul Bergner and Charis Lindrooth.

Yes! Classes include live Q&A sessions, plus you may reach out with questions at any time via the BotanicWise community chat feature.

Please reach out to the BotanicWise Team with any questions using contact form below!

Still have questions? Send us a message!

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