It can be challenging to eliminate bad eating habits and take control of your health. The pandemic has prompted many folks to reevaluate their lifestyle and strive toward making healthier choices.
Muntu Law, a certified herbalist, is helping those who seek a more holistic approach toward getting their health on track. Muntu, who is also married to radio personality icon and activist Bob Law, are the owners of Namaskar – Bob Law’s Health & Wellness Store located in Brooklyn, NY. For nearly 40 years, Muntu has advised and provided products that help folks reset their unhealthy living patterns.
Muntu prefers the straightforward route in her approach to laying out the facts about unhealthy diets that can be detrimental to especially Black people. Aware of the health disparities plaguing our community, she teaches us what we need to know to care for ourselves better. Muntu firmly believes that “health can progress tremendously once you change your eating and drinking habits and stay out of the barn.”
Bob Law sat in on Muntu’s interview and, in closing, shared some profound insights on critical issues pertaining to the status of Black people in this country that are truly a wake-up call.
Muntu chatted with 50BOLD to address why she feels it’s crucial for us to take control of our health now and how it’s possible for anyone to transition from bad habits to that healthier lifestyle they so desire.
50BOLD: Is Muntu your birth name and what is the meaning of your name?
Muntu: My birth name was Earlene Virginia Frazier. But when I met Mr. Law back in the 70s, he changed it to Muntu which means the essence of mankind, humankind. He thought Muntu was a better name for me. So, I had changed my name legally back in the 70s to Muntu.
50BOLD: It’s a pretty name. What did you do before becoming a certified herbalist?
Muntu: Well, before I became an herbalist, I worked for a company that designed and sold handbags to department stores and did so for thirty years.
50BOLD: What was your diet like before you became an herbalist? Are you vegan or vegetarian?
Muntu: My diet is a combination of vegan and vegetarian. But every now and then I will eat salmon and fish. And when I cheat, I will eat a piece of chicken. But basically, I consumed plant base foods that come from the ground, trees or bushes.
50BOLD: How long has Namaskar been around and what does the name mean? And how did you come up with the name?
Muntu: Namaskar has been in business since 1985. And I think Mr. Law gave us the name of Namaskar, which means the ‘divine in me acknowledges the divine in you.’ It’s a Hindu greeting and some people say namaste or namaskar, the meaning is the same.
50BOLD: What an interesting origin for your store’s name. Now, why should someone consult with an herbalist?
Muntu: Well, most people consult with an herbalist because they want to change their lifestyle habits. Very often people are not well, not healthy. They go to a medical doctor who writes prescriptions with far too many side effects and this is when many folks decide to seek an alternative. We are the alternative. We make tonics and different kinds of potions. We offer complimentary pills to clean you out. The herbal route is totally different from traditional medicine which is why we decided to go into the herbal business.
50BOLD: Since our readership is over aged 50, should they always consult with their medical providers before taking any herbs?
Muntu: Well, many medical providers do not learn about natural living and organic herbs; there’s no money in it for them. What they do is write prescriptions, which again has way too many side effects. We encourage people to incorporate more healthy stuff, and most of it has to do with what they eat and drink. People will drink coffee, alcohol and eat mucus forming and processed foods; these are unhealthy choices.
50BOLD: All so true. Are there any herbs that would pose a serious health risk to older adults?
Muntu: No. Older adults need to detox and clean out their bodies of the bad foods they have been eating for years. If only people could understand that what they eat and drink can bring on many diseases. The foods we like oftentimes don’t digest properly, which is one of the reasons for weight gain. What we eat and what we drink can affect us negatively.
50BOLD: You are so right. Another problem is that as older adults, many of us just do not have the ‘get-up-and-go’ vigor we once had when we were younger. Are there any safe herbs that can provide us with a daily boost of energy?
Muntu: Sure, we blend up smoothies that can provide energy. We also recommend different beverages, and liquid vitamins. Most people take vitamin pills that don’t digest well so, therefore, the pills are not doing their job. People waste a lot of money swallowing vitamin pills when they need liquids. We provide an entire lifestyle for good health. We can teach you how to clear out the garbage you’ve been eating and drinking for years, so that you can start ingesting the right things, that will provide you with more energy.
50BOLD: So, you’re saying it’s better to take vitamins in liquid form?
Muntu: Absolutely! Vitamins in liquid form digest better. When you’re taking vitamins in pill form, they sit in the bottom of the intestines which are already impacted with a bunch of garbage.
50BOLD: Why is it better to drink water from a glass container vs. plastic?
Muntu: Well, there are good plastics and there are bad plastics. But it’s better to drink water from a glass. And there’s a particular kind of water that is best, alkaline water. Alkaline water is better for your body instead of toxic water like some of the marketed ones people drink, thinking they’re consuming a healthy beverage. It’s not just a matter of water, it’s a matter of healthy water. You must drink alkaline water.
50BOLD: We can find alkaline water in health foods stores and other places, but is it better to buy a filter for it?
Muntu: There is an alkaline filter that people can buy, but it’s not cheap. But we do sell only alkaline water at Namaskar.
50BOLD: Someone mentioned how you have to be careful because the filters can get dirty.
Muntu: Well, yes, you have to clean the filter regularly or get a new one.
50BOLD: We know that eating organic food is best but it’s a pricier investment that many people can’t afford. What is the difference between organic and non-organic fruits and vegetables? What can we do if folks can’t eat organic food regularly?
Muntu: Well, food that is not organic has been sprayed with pesticides, arsenics and those are the foods that can cause cancer. So, if organic foods are too expensive, then imagine how expensive it would be to have cancer. We don’t have choices. I mean you could eat vegetables and apples that are sprayed with arsenic but ultimately it will cause disease in the body.
50BOLD: What is the long-term effect of eating fruits and vegetables sprayed with pesticides overtime?
50BOLD: I hear that! Are there any specific teas that would be beneficial overall for older adults?
Muntu: Well, there are good teas for everyone regardless of age. At Namaskar we recommend hibiscus and acai tea, which is a cleansing tea. When people visit our store we give them a complimentary cup of tea and sometimes, we use four different kinds of tea–dandelion, pineapple, and garcinia. We make a tea that cleanses people.
50BOLD: How long might someone need to use herbal preparations? Does it depend on the individual needs of your customers?
Muntu: Well, there are people who have cancers, so they have to take healthy stuff all the time. Sometimes they might get rid of the cancer, go back to their regular lifestyle and then, get cancer again. So, as long as people eat cancer-causing foods, they need to drink nourishing teas.
50BOLD: Are there any specific herbs you’d recommend for someone struggling with COVID-19?
Muntu: Covid-19 is an immune problem. The immune system is weak, that’s how you get COVID-19, multiple sclerosis, lupus and other ailments. You must strengthen your immune system. We recommend high amounts of Vitamin C, Vitamin D, zinc, and elderberry, herbs, vitamins, and minerals that will boost the immune system and possibly ward off diseases.
50BOLD: Many of our readers are on medications for various ailments. Can herbal preparations help them to feel better?
Muntu: Yes, well, what we try to do is offer people healthy choices of supplements and drink because so many medications have bad side effects. We try to help folks live more healthier lives even if they take medications.
50BOLD: But folks can also see an herbalist to get products that can help them detox, cleanse their blood and so forth.
Muntu: People must be dedicated to detoxing their bodies and it can be done by making the right healthy choices.
50BOLD: Is there a special product used to help improve memory?
Muntu: You really have to eliminate mucus-forming foods like cheese, pasta, rice–all of the foods that can clog the blood vessels to the brain and can lead to conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s.
50BOLD: There are a lot of people who really want to commit to a healthier lifestyle, but find it difficult to stick to a plan. You know, ‘The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.’
Muntu: Yes. Most people are addicted to the wrong foods, and too many of them. So, over a period, as you put on a pound here and a pound there, you should know, you’re eating the wrong foods. So, we encourage people to take some things to clear out the wrong foods and to boost their immune system. We want people to take better care of themselves. But people love foods like oxtails, cow foot soup and chitterlings. Have you ever eaten chitterlings?
50BOLD: I ate chitterlings about thirty years ago. (laughs) A lack of sleep is a real issue among our menopausal population. Are there any safe herbs you can recommend for women struggling with sleep?
Muntu: People have problems with sleep for a few reasons like stress, and eating heavy meals before bedtime; these types of things can interfere with sleep. You need at least 7 to 9 hours of good sleep, every night. Your schedule will determine how much sleep you’ll get. Some people go to bed late and have to get up early, and sometimes wake up tired. Some people go to bed and sleep for eight hours and still wake up tired. So, you have got to cleanse your blood to get restful, peaceful sleep. Next, you have to get rid of whatever stress is causing the lack of sleep in the first place.
50BOLD: So, if you have a problem with sleeping, you don’t necessarily have to take a pill, you can take a tea that helps you sleep.
Muntu: There are some teas that will help you get restful sleep, but if you’re eating a heavy meal before going to bed, you’re not going to sleep.
50BOLD: So, even a lack of sleep has to do with dieting. Everything bad that can happen to the body points to eating.
50BOLD: Did you study the works or were you influenced by such renowned health practitioners as Dr. Sebi or Dick Gregory?
Muntu: Well, I did have conversations with Dick Gregory. And he’s the person who told me to tell all Black folks to stop drinking coffee, even one cup a day is not good. But then I studied other herbalists over the years and learned from them as well.
50BOLD: How successful, percentage-wise, are you at getting clients to follow your advice toward healthier eating?
Muntu: Well, I would say as much as 70 percent of my clients switch to a healthier lifestyle. Anyone who follows a cleaner and less toxic path will improve their overall health. BTW, if a healthy protocol is designed for you, it is not a good idea to stop it. It’s all about a lifestyle change that should remain in place to maintain a healthy status.
50BOLD: What daily routine helps you stay healthy physically, mentally, and spiritually? You don’t look 80 at all, Muntu. You look so good.
Muntu: Yeah, well, I’m 80! As far as physically, I make Mantu’s Green Drink and have been drinking it for about sixty years or so. I just blend it up, throw in frozen or fresh berries, organic juice, and it gives me a lot of energy. I used to suffer from low-iron deficiency, and was always tired, and sleepy. Since I’ve been drinking my green drink with its energizing effect, I’m good. Juicing is blending and a lot of people are either too busy, or too lazy to do it. Juicing takes the place of food because so many foods are killing us. But once you start taking a liquid vitamin, and drinking the blended green drink, you know that physically, you’re good. Remember, I’m 80 years old. Time goes by so fast.
50BOLD: Why do you think it’s so hard to commit to a healthy regimen?
Muntu: People are very comfortable with their lifestyle. They know they are not healthy and have gained too much weight, but they like to eat whatever they like. So, that’s why we give our clients samples of things to clean them out, because Black folks are going to eat whatever they like. They’re going to eat pork and God knows what. One lady told me she was looking forward to eating some pig feet. How are you looking forward to eating pig feet? How are you going to have a healthy body eating some dead pig’s feet? They had to kill the pig to get the feet. But I still counsel everyone who comes into my store to try and live better.
50BOLD: You work with herbs and even make your own mixtures like your Muntu’s Apple Cider Vinegar. What makes your products different from others?
Muntu: Well, it depends on what herbs we use to make our products. We do make a lot of stuff. But we also order a lot of healthy things like the teas, tonics, and the Black Seed Bitters; we sell a lot of those. We have herbs that come from all over.
50BOLD: Many people have skin and hair problems. Can you address this and tell us about some of the natural products you have to make the skin and hair healthier?
Muntu: Well, we do recommend collagen for hair, skin, nails, bones, and joints. And we do have hair vitamins, because people can lose their hair due to a lack of nutrients. Skin issues usually arise from the stuff we eat or drink. When the skin breaks out you have got to clean the liver so, we recommend a total detox. For whatever concerns people have, we can generally provide an answer.
50BOLD: I know our physical health is important, but I’d like to dig a little deeper and ask you about the problems facing Black families, especially surrounding mental health issues.
Muntu: I think I will have Bob take this question.
Law: Can I answer the question?
50BOLD: Yes, most definitely!
Law: There’s a conspiracy to destroy families. And what is necessary is a person’s understanding of how this works. Most people don’t think there is such a conspiracy. They think that as times change, as the years progress into the twenty-first century, things just automatically change; things are just different. New technology causes us to do things differently. Children don’t play outdoors anymore; they stay home and play video games. And people think that all of this is just the result of time passing. They don’t understand or see it as an assault on the family structure.
First, we need to get people to understand that the things that are happening to the family structure is the result of policy. The policymakers have created obstacles. For instance, we have expectations of what a family structure should be. We have expectations of what success is. However, expectations to achieve success, to have a good job, to own a profitable business, to do all the things associated with success are very difficult because of obstacles like racism that is put in place to make things difficult, if not impossible, to achieve goals. This is a long answer.
50BOLD: People need to be aware of what you’re discussing.
Law: However, people don’t realize that obstacles are in place. They just know that we pay higher interest rates; we can’t have access to capital; they think this is just the way things are. But society, in particular the media, promotes success as the American Dream. And they’ll point to people here and there who have just come to the country and now own Amazon. And they’ll say this is what success is. So, when you can’t get a bank loan, when you can’t get support, obstacles are in your way. You don’t realize there are obstacles, so you become even more frustrated as you try to achieve success and frustration leads to emotional and mental imbalance. And this is the reason why there’s disarray and chaos in the Black community.
There’s a strategy in place to dehumanize. The philosopher Frantz Fanon in his 1961 book The Wretched of the Earth said that once the oppressed realize their humanity, it is precisely at that moment that they begin to sharpen tools and weapons for their liberation. Therefore, the oppressor must keep your humanity away from you.
50BOLD: Bob, your explanation really speaks truth. I’m so glad you agreed to have one of our writers interview you for a future issue. Your compelling knowledge on what’s happening in the world today, and your insightful wisdom and solutions need a platform, especially when it comes to the crucial problems facing Black families. Health is only one aspect of it all.
Law: We also have to look at the harm we are doing to ourselves by eating fast foods that’s targeted to Black consumers. All of the research indicates that these fast-food companies target Black youth. People can Google this information right now, ‘fast food and Black youth.’ And the industry promotes it heavily. In commercials, and in giveaways, many Black celebrities even endorse fast foods.
One of the reasons why Black people continue to eat bad food more than any other group is because we are targeted by the food industry. We are encouraged to eat bad food, that’s not only fast food. Young Black kids will ask their parents for burgers and fries. There’s a lot of pressure on the parents because all around them are posters, billboards, tv commercials of kids eating bad food. Fast food causes obesity in children and brings on high blood pressure.
Fast food is harmful period! We have Black communities with food deserts where there is no quality food available. If you want to go shopping for the week and get good quality food, you must drive outside of the Black community. In these types of areas, there aren’t any good quality supermarkets, only corner bodegas with stale food. There are no good quality sit-down restaurants. If you want to take your date out to have a good meal, you can’t stay in the hood the way you can remain in neighborhoods in other communities. What’s in the Black community are fast-food joints. Harmful food is consciously and deliberately promoted to our community. There are studies to backup what I am saying, just Google it.
50BOLD: You are a powerhouse couple and doing amazing, significant work in the Black community. In what way have you both influenced one another?
Law: Well, it’s all the same. The influence Muntu has on me is the important work she is doing here at our store. She also influences on me to get my health habits under control and on track. As a result, I do a lot of cleansing, so I don’t have a potbelly. I used to have a potbelly but after understanding the need for cleansing all the time, it is no longer there. I’m conscious of what I eat and what I don’t eat. I will look for opportunities to eat healthy more so than not. Back in the day, I used to drink Pepsi and coffee every day, and eat chocolate donuts. (laughs)
So, Muntu continues to do the research and look for foods that are nutritious and I try and stick to consuming these foods. Otherwise, I would still be eating all the wrong foods all the time. It’s not like I don’t ever eat the wrong foods, but even when I do, I know better.
50BOLD: And this is what counts, that awareness is knowing and doing better. Thanks again Bob, for your insightful comments. Muntu, is there a message concerning the importance of striving to live a healthier lifestyle that you’d like to share with our readers?
Muntu: Black people, we must make dietary changes. These fast foods and living an unhealthy way of life is killing us. Stop saying you can’t afford plant-based foods from the ground, bushes, and trees! In order to maintain good health, we must make a firm commitment toward changing the way we eat.
Namaskar – Bob Law’s Health & Wellness is located at 956 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn New York 11238, 718-636-1967, Namaskarhealth.com