Felicia Cocotzin Ruiz is a curandera (traditional healer), author, indigenous foods activist and natural foods chef whose work is deeply rooted in the healing properties of all earth medicines. Her business name came to be after friends lovingly called her “the kitchen curandera,” as she was often creating healing foods and remedies in her tiny adobe kitchen.
Her work has been featured in Food & Wine, Spirituality & Health and on Padma Lakshmi’s Taste The Nation, among many other platforms. Cocotzin Ruiz lives with her husband in Phoenix, AZ, where she works with the sun, the moon and the elements, offering medicine workshops and one-on-one healing sessions for her community.
Q: What inspired you to write Earth Medicines?
A: In my case it is “who” inspired me as I was deeply enamored watching and hearing stories of my great-grandmother. She was a curandera who helped many people in her small community of Old Town Albuquerque. She lived to be 94 years old, and I remember hearing so many share how she impacted their lives with her hands and herbal healing ways throughout their lives.
Q: Why did you decide to divide the book into four parts, one for each element (water, air, earth & fire)?
A: In curanderismo, like many earth-based healing practices found around the world, the practice of holistic wellness is rooted in water, air, earth and fire. It seemed like a smart and simple way to organize my recipes and rituals for readers to put into action. It was also an acknowledgement that I come from all of these elements as taught by my elders.
Q: Each section of the book offers recipes for inner harmony, beauty and spiritual work. Why did you choose to organize it this way?
A: I wanted to give readers the opportunity to look at this as a lifestyle practice. Curanderismo is a way of living–reminding us that the elements are represented in everything we do. Incorporating them into our daily lives can help us create and keep harmony of the body, mind and spirit.
Q: What is hydrotherapy and how does it aid in headache relief?
A: Hydrotherapy is actually very simple yet has powerful results. The theory is that hot water will increase circulation to the feet, therefore shunting blood away from the head. All you need is warm water, a bowl/bin and hopefully a friend to help you.
Q: How is Plumed Serpent breathing beneficial?
A: This exercise is a mindfulness act to get in touch with your intuition, something that many people do not hear very clearly or even trust. It helps you slow down, tapping into all of the wisdom that you hold and have access to. This meditation or mindfulness act came to me when visiting Xochicalco in central Mexico where I was connecting to my ancestral lineage.
Q: One of the many recipes in Earth Medicines is the zarzaparilla adaptogenic tonic. What was the inspiration behind it and when should it be utilized?
A: The tonic was originally created to support me during times of mental stress.
It is an ancestral remedy for me and works as an adaptogen among many other benefits. The beverage is actually quite tasty and one of my favorite recipes from the book. I try to enjoy it often, even when I am feeling no mental stress as I find it quite relaxing.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?
A: I would like to add that I am writing from the Sonoran Desert, the ancestral territories of many Indigenous peoples, including the Akimel O’odham (Pima) and Pee Posh (Maricopa) communities, whose care and keeping of this desert allows me to be here today.