Health checkup: Cleansing the heart and mind

Nicolina Ruiz

Nicolina Ruiz, a Latina herbalist, energy healer and owner of Casa Alchemista Botanica, tells Xpress that a healthy body begins with a clear mind.

What are some techniques you use for maintaining your mental health?

Cleansing practices are key for maintaining my mental well-being. The pandemic has turned my living space into my office, my workshop, my creative space, my sanctuary to recharge — basically where I do everything. In order to prevent my mental state from getting bogged down from the daily hustle, it’s important that I keep all areas of my life energetically and physically tidy.

As a Latina herbalist, I practice a traditional cleansing ritual used in Mexican curanderismo/folk medicine and other Indigenous cultures called limpia, a Spanish word meaning “to clean.” This practice uses plants, prayers and intentions to clear energetic “junk” from the aura and physical spaces. Some of my favorite herbs for cleansing are rue, rosemary or mugwort as a smudge or in a bath. I also love burning copal resins.

What is your favorite way to approach your own physical health? 

I love heading to the water to harmonize my physical body. A couple of my favorite ways to spend time in water is soaking in a hot tub or bath to help melt away tension and stress or taking a plunge under a cold waterfall to reset and invigorate my nervous system.

What is one book, podcast, documentary or article related to mental or physical health that you’d recommend, and why? 

I am inspired by the writings of herbalist, educator, author and North Carolina native Lucretia VanDyke who has a soul stirring ability of sharing stories of African American herbalism and healing through honoring the plants with ancestral connection. I am excited to see the culmination of her work and collection of stories come together in her upcoming book, African American Herbalism: A Practical Guide to Healing Plants and Folk Traditions.

“The Art of Forest Bathing” by VanDyke is a beautifully written article about the healing properties of spending time in nature and working with plant medicine to bring about balance holistically in mind, body and spirit from a culturally relevant lens. I love this article because it is a reminder of how spending time in the forests of WNC became the catalyst for deepening my connection with my own health, well-being and what ultimately led me to becoming an herbalist many years ago.

Editor’s note: “Health checkup,” is part of our 2022 Wellness issues. These short Q&As feature local residents offering insights about their individual approaches to maintaining their physical and mental health. Hopefully, the wide range of perspectives provide readers with ideas and tips for their own well-being. Be on the lookout for more online and in next week’s Wellness Issue, Part 2. 


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One thought on “Health checkup: Cleansing the heart and mind

  1. Enlightened Enigma

    Nicolina is such a beautiful human and we miss her around the Landing …

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