Healthy Options: Good health through phytotherapy, wisdom of healing traditions |

Healthy Options: Good health through phytotherapy, wisdom of healing traditions

James "Slim" Miles, phytotherapist and Ayurvedic wellness consultant, meets with clients in an office off Mill Street in Grass Valley.
Laura Mahaffy/ | The Union

James “Slim” Miles’ journey began in 1987 when a “mystery” illness ended his military career. Traditional allopathic medicine was unable to help him recover, so Slim turned to natural health alternatives, cleansing, and dietary lifestyle changes.

His recovery lead to a passion for natural healing and for helping others. Over the years, Slim has accumulated more than 25 years in the natural health field. A highlight of his career includes 12 years of teaching herbal medicine, Ayurveda, homeopathy, aromatherapy, and natural health at the Himalayan Institute; where he developed and compounded over 50 herbal formulas and natural products for the Varcho Veda/Total Health & Neti Pot product lines.

Today, Slim helps his clients achieve balance and total health through lifestyle and dietary changes, herbs and dietary supplements, and relaxing and rejuvenating Ayurvedic body therapies. He and his wife, Alena, also produce Luminous Essentials, a line of Ayurvedic oils and herbs.

In this week’s Healthy Options, we share a short interview with James “Slim” Miles, Phytotherapist, Ayurvedic Health Consultant, and CMT (Certified Massage Therapist). Slim may also be found serving customers in the isles of the Wellness department at BriarPatch Co-op.

A synonym for phytotherapist is herbalist. … I like to use it because in my mind it means applying scientific research and the highest professional standards to the practice of herbal medicine.

What is a phytotherapist?

A synonym for phytotherapist is herbalist. The word is more commonly used in Europe and Australia, but I like to use it because in my mind it means applying scientific research and the highest professional standards to the practice of herbal medicine. As a phytotherapist I’ve studied the use of plants for healing purposes in both their whole and extracted form. I’ve worked with herbs and different facets of the natural products industry for 26 years, and creating and recommending the highest quality supplements is always my goal.

What do people need to know about choosing supplements and herbs?

Depending on where you buy them, the quality of herbs and supplements can vary greatly. If you buy them at Walmart, GNC, or Target for example, you’re not going to get the quality or receive the results you would from brands sold at most health food stores. Let’s take vitamin C for example. The least effective form, because it passes straight through the body after you take it, is straight ascorbic acid, partially synthesized from a corn by-product. On the other end of the spectrum would be taking acerola cherry extract, for example, which circulates in the body for longer periods of time because it’s still in its original food matrix. If you’re going to purchase herbal supplements, when possible opt for an extract as opposed to raw herb because they are more bio-available and therefore more effective. People also need to know that the supplement industry is regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA); the agency responsible for taking action against any adulterated or misbranded dietary supplement.

You and your wife make a line of high quality oils. What makes them so unique?

Our Luminous Essentials line of oils are influenced by traditional Ayurvedic principles and methods of preparation. In Ayurveda, daily topical oleation is a prominent practice used for rejuvenation, reducing pain, and for anti-aging. What really makes our products unique is the way they are processed. Raw oils simply sit on top of the skin but our oils, because they are cured, heated, and extracted with herbs, are absorbed deeply into the tissue where they do the most good. We also use only certified organic or wild-crafted ingredients, including our essential oils.

What are Nasya oils and how are they used?

In Ayurvedic medicine, Nasya oils are applied inside the nostrils to help lubricate, protect and detoxify the sinuses and can be the first line of defense against pathogens like viruses and bacteria as well as pollen, smog, and smoke. We make three different types of Nasya oil, each developed with a specific purpose. The one we call “protect” has antimicrobial properties and can be very useful if you’re going to be on an airplane or around a lot of people. The scent in “elevate” helps people relax. “Energize” gives people a mental boost of energy.

Can you tell us about Pyro Cyder, the new product you’ve been developing?

Pyro Cyder is coming out in the fall and will be available at BriarPatch. It’s based on Fire Cider, a general tonic for digestion, circulation, and overall winter wellness that has been around for decades, but we’ve improved and strengthened our formula to make it more effective and taste better.

To learn more about Slim’s work go to To learn more about his line of premium oils go to

Jan Fishler is a local author and writing coach. More about Jan is at

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