Lessons from the Dodder Vine - Drew Ramsey MD

Image courtesy Flickr/Dinesh Valke

Last summer I planted a few large plots of orange Cosmo flowers in early May. My mom had collected the seeds, originally in Vermont, and then had diligently harvested more Cosmo seeds from her original crop. She picks the dried seeds by hand in a process known as “gleaning.” With a bounty of seeds, we decided to put in some larger plots this year hoping for an orange blaze out in the field.

As the plants grew and bloomed, something caught my eye. Strung between them like pieces of thin spaghetti were long filaments. At first I thought these might be a part of the Cosmo plants, maybe part of their reproductive cycle or an air root.

A few days later, the patch of vines had grown surprisingly rapidly. And more concerning they were wrapping around the stem of the cosmos strangling the plant. The next day, hundreds of plants were brown and dying. We had a nasty plant on our hands, something none of us had seen before. In and old small reference guide to the weeds of North America we identified our intruder – The Dodder vine.

Armed with a name, I began to search out a cure for my orange flowers. Shivers ran down my spine when I came across this youtube video of the Dodder in action sniffing out its prey. Our Cosmos patch was in trouble. We were tangling with a USDA top ten problematic weed. The dodder is a parasite known by the names devil’s hair, Hellbind, and witch’s shoelaces.

Sometime during the ensuing battle to eradicate our dodder infestation, which included a lot of fire and 22 gallons of vinegar, I started thinking about the mental health implications of the dodder.

What fascinates me most about this vine is that it does not produce chlorophyll, the molecule needed by most other plants for photosynthesis. And I thought there was a lesson in this: The Dodder doesn’t care that it doesn’t have chlorophyll. It goes out and gets the nutrients it needs.

In talk therapy, we explore ourselves to understand our deficits, hopefully at the root of a struggle. But getting stuck on things you don’t have–the right look, a bigger brain, a comfortable apartment, better self-esteem–gets you, well, stuck.

I figure this was an interpretation I would never figure out how to tell a patient, “There is this parasitic vine that I know….”

But there is a good lesson for us all from the dodder vine. Instead of just lamenting our deficits, be pro-active and get what you need from the world. For the dodder it is nutrients from the host plants. For you maybe it is a different kind of nourishment like a meaningful connection with someone or taking the first step to a more satisfying job.

So from time to time, pull a Dodder from your play book. Don’t care about not having something – go get it.

Eat Complete

Winner of a 2017 IACP Cookbook Award  •  Finalist for a Books for a Better Life Award

Named one of the top health and wellness books for 2016 by Well + Good and MindBodyGreen


From leading psychiatrist and author of Fifty Shades of Kale comes a collection of 100 simple, delicious, and affordable recipes to help you get the core nutrients your brain and body need to stay happy and healthy.

What does food have to do with brain health? Everything.

Your brain burns more of the food you eat than any other organ. It determines if you gain or lose weight, if you’re feeling energetic or fatigued, if you’re upbeat or depressed. In this essential guide and cookbook, Drew Ramsey, MD, explores the role the human brain plays in every part of your life, including mood, health, focus, memory, and appetite, and reveals what foods you need to eat to keep your brain—and by extension your body—properly fueled.

Drawing upon cutting-edge scientific research, Dr. Ramsey identifies the twenty-one nutrients most important to brain health and overall well-being—the very nutrients that are often lacking in most people’s diets. Without these nutrients, he emphasizes, our brains and bodies don’t run the way they should.

Eat Complete includes 100 appetizing, easy, gluten-free recipes engineered for optimal nourishment. It also teaches readers how to use food to correct the nutrient deficiencies causing brain drain and poor health for millions. For example:

• Start the day with an Orange Pecan Waffle or a Turmeric Raspberry Almond Smoothie, and the Vitamin E found in the nuts will work to protect vulnerable brain fat (plus the fiber keeps you satisfied until lunch).

• Enjoy Garlic Butter Shrimp over Zucchini Noodles and Mussels with Garlicky Kale Ribbons and Artichokes, and the zinc and magnesium from the seafood will help stimulate the growth of new brain cells.

• Want to slow down your brain’s aging process? Indulge with a cup of Turmeric Cinnamon Hot Chocolate, and the flavanols found in chocolate both increase blood flow to the brain and help fight age-related memory decline.

Featuring fifty stunning, full-color photographs, Eat Complete helps you pinpoint the nutrients missing from your diet and gives you tasty recipes to transform your health—and ultimately your life.


Buy Eat Complete On AmazonBuy Eat Complete on iTunesBuy Eat CompleteEat CompleteBuy Eat Complete

You have Successfully Subscribed!

The Happiness Diet

For the first time in history, too much food is making us sick. It's all too apparent that the Modern American Diet (MAD) is expanding our waistlines; what's less obvious is that it's starving and shrinking our brains. Rates of obesity and depression have recently doubled, and while these epidemics are closely linked, few experts are connecting the dots for the average American.

Using the latest data from the rapidly changing fields of neuroscience and nutrition, The Happiness Dietshows that over the past several generations small, seemingly insignificant changes to our diet have stripped it of nutrients--like magnesium, vitamin B12, iron, and vitamin D, as well as some very special fats--that are essential for happy, well-balanced brains. These shifts also explain the overabundance of mood-destroying foods in the average American's diet and why they predispose most of us to excessive weight gain.

After a clear explanation of how we've all been led so far astray, The Happiness Diet empowers the reader with simple, straightforward solutions. Graham and Ramsey show you how to steer clear of this MAD way of life with foods to swear off, shopping tips, brain-building recipes, and other practical advice, and then remake your diet by doubling down on feel-good foods--even the all-American burger.


Buy Eat Complete On AmazonBuy Eat Complete

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Fifty Shades of Kale

Kale gets sexy in Fifty Shades of Kale by Drew Ramsey, M.D., and Jennifer Iserloh, with 50 recipes that are mouth-wateringly delicious and do a body good.
Release yourself from the bondage of guilt and start cooking meals with the ingredients you love: meat, cheese, and yes—even butter. Nutrient-rich kale provides essential vitamins and minerals to keep you healthy, happy, and lean—so you can indulge in your most delicious desires. Whether you’re a cooking novice or a real kale submissive, you will undoubtedly succumb to Kale’s charms.

From Mushroom and Kale Risotto to Kale Kiwi Gazpacho, Fifty Shade of Kale offers simple ways to have your kale and eat it, too, as well as nutritional information, cooking tips, and a tutorial on kale in all her glorious shades.
Indulge your culinary passions with Fifty Shades of Kale: 50 Fresh and Satisfying Recipes That Are Bound to Please.


Buy Eat Complete On AmazonBuy Eat Complete on iTunesBuy Eat CompleteEat CompleteBuy Eat Complete

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Are you ready to eat to beat depression?

Get a head start with our free food mood log! Submit your information and we will send you the log to begin.

You have Successfully Subscribed!