Category Archives: herbal remedies

Super Simple Super Tonic Recipe

One of my favorite aids to use during cold and flu season is my formula for “Super Tonic.” Super Tonic is a combination of herbs Super Tonic Ingredients and vegetables known to have properties that include being antiviral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, cleansing, immune-boosting and more. The beauty of Super Tonic is that it can easily be made at home by anyone. You can make a batch in the fall and it will keep well until spring. If you need more, you can whip up a new batch in no time at all, or simply add a bit of each ingredient to the existing jar and top with more organic apple cider vinegar. This formula is gluten-free, dairy-free and soy-free, and is free of the top eight allergens.

There are a wide variety of ways to use Super Tonic. Some people take between a teaspoon and a tablespoon daily, while others only use it while fighting a cold or flu. People who take it while battling a virus take anywhere from one teaspoon every four hours to one tablespoon every two hours. Some people make the mixture and then use the liquid as a spiced vinegar in salads, salad dressings and more. Others use it as a meat marinade. There are obviously a wide variety of ways Super Tonic can be used, many of which fall far outside the realm of using it to boost immunity and increase wellness.

My formula for Super Tonic follows. The beauty of this formula is that it’s very forgiving. You can use more or less of every ingredient and still have great results. The only requirement is that the organic apple cider vinegar completely cover all the veggies. 

Good Works Super Tonic Ingredients (All ingredients are organic)

3 inches of ginger root

3 inches of horseradish (Look for at farmer’s markets if you cannot find it in your local grocery)

1 full head of garlic, all cloves peeled

1 small red onion

2-4 cayenne peppers (other hot peppers may be substituted if needed; vary quantity to adjust taste)

1 quart of organic, apple cider vinegar with the mother

Optional:  

3 inches of turmeric root

3 tablespoons whole cloves

3 tablespoons Manuka honey

Instructions

  1. Chop all ingredients into small pieces
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  2. Place in a food processor and cover at least half way with organic apple cider vinegar
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  3. Pulse until ingredients are uniform in size, then process for at least 60 seconds. Transfer to a quart Mason jar.
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  4. Completely cover ingredients with organic apple cider vinegar.
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  5. Can be used immediately, but will have stronger effects if mixture is allowed to meld 2-3 weeks.

That’s it! If the flavor of the straight Super Tonic is too strong, feel free to make a tea out of it by adding 1-2 tablespoons to a cup of hot water. People rave about its ability to slow coughing and clear stuffy heads.

Do you make your own Super Tonic? What’s your favorite way to use it?

Natural Solutions for Ear Infections (Otitis Media)

Otitis Media – the common ear infection – is the most common reason parents schedule doctor appointments for children. Ear infections are incredibly painful and can lead to hearing issues, yet research has proven antibiotics are ineffective. There are a Picture of baby with ear infectionvariety of alternative approaches that are known to be very effective.

When discussing ear infections, it is important to recognize they typically involve biofilms. Biofilms are a complex matrix of bacteria that may also include fungal and viral cells. The various cells in an ear infection create a strong matrix, called a “biofilm,” to protect them from antibiotics. The antibiotic resistance often develops before the child feels pain or realizes there’s a problem.

One important thing to remember about ear infections is that the human body is perfectly capable of healing them without intervention if the person’s immune system is functioning as it should. One of the primary ways of resolving ear infections is to help protect your immunity by eating well, getting enough sleep, exercising, etc. However, there are times when medical intervention should definitely be sought.

If a child’s fever is extremely high (above 102F degrees), if the pain is intense or if symptoms last longer than three days, seek medical treatment immediately.

If an ear infection does develop, the following are known to help:

  • Eliminate sugar from the diet. I realize that may be tough, but sugar depresses immunity and makes it difficult for the child’s body to use its natural defenses to battle the infection.
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  • Use herbal ear drops. Commercial herbal ear drops typically contain Garlic, Goldenseal and perhaps Mullein infused into oil. The oil is gently warmed and 2-5 drops are put in each ear every 2-4 hours. The oil feels good and diminishes pain, but the antibiotic/antiviral/antifungal properties of the herbs actually penetrate (soak through) the ear drum to reach the infection on the other side. I find the combination of Garlic and Goldenseal to be far more effective than garlic and mullein. I like this one: http://amzn.to/1NpuXmw.
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    NEVER use ear drops if the ear drum has ruptured. Seek immediate medical attention.
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  • Use other naturally antibacterial ear drops. There are a wide variety of ear drops available which contain ingredients known to be naturally antibacterial and antiviral. One of my favorites contains Grapefruit Seed Extract and a tiny bit of Tea Tree Oil blended into a soothing amount of Glycerin. You can view them here: NutriBiotics Ear Drops.
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  • Consider homeopathic remedies. There are a variety of homeopathic remedies for ear aches. When using homeopathics, remember that nothing should be eaten ten minutes before or after taking them orally, and that mint products should be avoided for an hour. Homeopathic ear drops can be alternated with other ear drops being used. One advantage of homeopathics is that they do not interact with prescription medications and do not cause side effects when used as directed.
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  • Use colloidal silver drops. Colloidal silver drops can be placed in the ear canal every 2-4 hours. Similar to the ear drops described above, colloidal silver is known to be soothing and to stimulate the body to heal itself. For more information on colloidal silver, please read: Common Uses for Colloidal Silver.
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  • Use a probiotic and/or fermented foods other than yogurt. Probiotics help the Peyers Patches in the gut boost immunity. Probiotics also help maintain a balance of good and bad bacteria in the digestive tract. Since 70% of immunity resides in the gut, it makes sense to care for it! I recommend using a probiotic specifically designed for children, such as the ones made by Udo’s Choice, Renew Life or Garden of Life. Fermented veggies are also a great way of gaining beneficial bacteria. Serve some with every meal or serve water kefir between meals.
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  • Use immune boosters.  During an active infection, the body will respond well and be able to fight infection better if immunity boosters are consumed. Eating a lot of garlic, onions and turmeric is a great place to start. Taking Vitamin C, Vitamin D or Monolaurin are also known to boost the body’s ability to fight infection.
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  • Eliminate dairy. If a child has recurring ear infections, try eliminating dairy for one month. Many parents find ear infections miraculously stop occurring when dairy is eliminated. Wheat or other food allergies may also be a culprit, but dairy is the most common.
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  • Use a rice bag:  Applying a bit of warmth to the affected ear is a very effective way to bring soothing relief from the pain. The simplest way to create a heating pad is to pour uncooked rice into a clean cotton sock, tie the top, and then microwave the sock in 20-second bursts until it is warm to the touch but not hot. Lay the sock over the ear, repeat as needed. (For the record, this is the only time I advocate the use of a microwave.)
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  • Seek medical intervention when needed. There are times an antibiotic may be needed. If symptoms or fever remain for more than three days, if the fever is extremely high or if pain is intense, seek treatment immediately.

What’s your favorite ear ache remedy?

Photo Courtesy of Lisa Williams

Two Weeks From a Broken Foot to Dancing in Heels

There is a myth that time and immobilization are the only ways to heal broken bones. I disagree. It is very possible to heal broken bones more rapidly using changes in lifestyle, eating habits and supplementation. I know because I’ve done it more than once. For more information on broken bones, please read Five Myths About Broken Bones and Fractures.

Before I dive into my personal story of supporting a broken bone, please note the story I am sharing is purely my own. The techniques I used were appropriate for the type of break I had and its location.Surgical Boot
They were also based on years of professional expertise. Although many of these techniques could be used by anyone with a broken bone, please discuss them with your orthopedic doctor and a natural health consultant before using them. As always, this information is shared for educational purposes only, was not evaluated by the FDA and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness.

Three weeks ago I broke the fifth metatarsal of my left foot in a motorcycle incident. Thankfully, it was an “incident” and not an “accident.” In spite of the broken bone, I was very fortunate. So was the driver who caused the incident, as my break prevented me from chasing him down and giving him a piece of my mind.

The orthopedic surgeon who diagnosed the break said the bone would take six to eight weeks to heal, I would need to wear a “boot” for that entire period, and my lifestyle would need to drastically change. None of those options appealed to me. I knew he was wrong, but I politely refrained from telling him that – with God’s grace – I would get that bone healed much more rapidly. I was determined to wear heels with the little black dress I was wearing to my 30th high school reunion. That gave me 2.5 weeks to heal the broken bone and walk without a limp. I was on a mission!

How the Body Works to Heal Broken Bones

When a bone is broken, the body immediately sends a multitude of resources to repair the damage. Healing broken bones is a truly miraculous process. Within minutes, the body creates a cushion of blood between the pieces of the broken bone. The blood quickly begins coagulating to hold the bones in place. The body also causes the surrounding tissues to swell in an attempt to immobilize the bone and force the area to be used less. In the hours that follow, the coagulated blood allows new blood vessels to grow within the gelatinous “scab” that lies between the areas of broken bones. The new blood vessels carry specialized blood cells that create a network of collagen and which work to destroy and carry away the damaged bone. Eventually, this network crystallizes some of the collagen cells into bone crystals which are used to create new layers of bone. The process does take time, but is a truly miraculous combination of physiology and chemistry. Most experts agree that it takes six to eight weeks to completely heal a bone. Luckily, the outside of the bone heals first, which strengthens the bone so that the interior is not as vulnerable. When the outside of the bone is healed, the bone will appear solid on X-rays, but it may take longer for the interior of the bone to fully heal and repair itself. The area surrounding the break may swell for several months as the body continues sending resources to the area to heal it.

It is possible to support the body’s efforts to heal broken bones. Providing the extra nutrients that are needed to form the new tissues and bone cells can sometimes decrease the healing time. There are also lifestyle changes that support new bone growth, and eating styles that provide further support. Since most breaks also cause strains, sprains and damage to surrounding tissues, muscles, ligaments, tendons and nerves, there are other ways to support the healing of those tissues.

My praise report is that a follow-up X-ray taken two weeks after I initially broke the bone showed the bone is healed. That doesn’t mean the internal structure of the bone is completely restored, but is truly miraculous. Even my osteopath was impressed! I still have pain from the ankle sprain that occurred with the break, but the area surrounding the break is no longer painful and it no longer hurts to walk. My left leg consistently swells up to my knee, but even that decreases a bit every day. I occasionally wear a wrap to keep the swelling to a minimum. I did wear heels to my reunion and did dance in them, but I confess I switched to flats after a few dances as a purely practical matter. Every woman there wished she could have done the same.

Following is a description of the things I did to support my body’s efforts to heal the broken bone more rapidly. Please note that the break I incurred was a “closed” fracture that did not require surgery or a cast, so the break required minimal medical intervention. Breaks requiring surgery and more in-depth medical intervention will obviously need more patience and have a longer period of healing.

Supplements Used to Heal Broken Bones

Following is a list of the supplements I took. These supplements may have drug interactions and are not recommended for some conditions, so please check with a health practitioner before using. Please let your doctor know you are taking them. Please also note I do not recommend taking this many supplements at once for extended periods of time. I had an acute situation requiring intervention, so I gave my body what it needed. Now that I know the bone is mostly healed, I have stopped taking most of these supplements.

  • White Willow Bark:  A natural pain reliever and anti-inflammatory with few side effects. I only needed it a few days. NSAIDS are known to slow bone healing, so I was determined to avoid them. I am happy to say I didn’t need them. The White Willow Bark helped reduce pain during the first few days following the break.
  • Whole Food Calcium Combination:  Bones need calcium. I used a calcium that was derived from food and is very easily absorbed. The supplement I used contains multiple other ingredients known to improve bone strength and improve calcium absorption.
  • Magnesium:  To improve calcium absorption, provide mineral support to the tissues and relax the muscles in my ankle.
  • Trace minerals:  To provide the extra minerals my body needed to heal the bone.
  • Selenium:  For additional mineral support. Selenium is known to work synergistically with calcium to strengthen and build bones. It is also a powerful antioxidant, and I wanted to ensure my body had plenty of antioxidants to help repair my damaged cells.
  • Liquid silica:  An essential component of bone tissue. I debated between taking Collagen and Silica. I opted for the Silica because it benefits a broader range of tissues.
  • Homeopathic Arnica: A powerful anti-inflammatory known to be very effective for reducing swelling and bruising. Arnica is one of my favorite supplements for soft tissue trauma. I used the 1M strength because it’s one of the strongest available.
  • Homeopathic Symphytum Officinale: The homeopathic form of Comfrey. I continue taking this one to support the continued healing of the internal bone structure. I used the 1M strength.
  • Proteolytic Enzymes:  Powerful anti-inflammatories that support healing in every way possible. The enzymes are typically used to reduce pain and swelling, but the enzymes also support the body’s production of collagen, which is then used for bone healing.
  • Comfrey Tea: Another name for Comfrey is “bone knit.” It is known to greatly speed bone healing. The FDA claims Comfrey should not be used internally, but they based that recommendation on flawed studies. Please note Comfrey can cause liver damage when incorrectly used. I took a carefully calculated dosage and do not recommend that others use it internally. I also made Comfrey compresses to use externally on the break, but confess that was such a bother and so messy I only did it a few times. Had my break been more severe, I would have used the compresses more frequently.

Lifestyle Changes to Heal Broken Bones

  • Careful Exercise:  The type of break I had allowed me to very carefully exercise in an adapted manner. Even severe breaks benefit from mild exercise or from gently moving the toes and fingers that extend from the cast. When I broke my ankle 25 years ago, I wiggled my toes several times a day in the beginning and rode an exercise bicycle after the bone had firmed. I was able to get out of my cast in four weeks instead of six. Exercise stimulates blood flow to the region and is known to speed healing. However … you must discuss exercise with your doctor and physical therapist before trying it. Excess exercise could be devastating to the healing process and could do more harm than good.
  • Sleep:  Having a broken bone is exhausting. The body will pull energy from every available system and use it to heal broken bones. Getting extra rest and plenty of sleep is imperative to helping the body heal itself.
  • Ionic Foot Baths:  Ionic foot baths are known to ionize calcium and other minerals in the blood stream, making it easier for the healing bone to absorb them. Ionic foot baths are also known to help the body eliminate toxins, which can also speed healing.
  • Prayer:  Studies have proven prayer speeds healing. The speed of healing I experienced could only have happened with divine intervention, so I felt prayer needed to be mentioned. Other techniques such as meditation and positive visualization can also help speed healing.

Dietary Approaches to Support Bone Healing

The best way to support the body during bone healing is to eat a diet high in natural minerals that can very easily be absorbed. During the healing process, I increased my intake of dark leafy greens and other veggies. I also increased my consumption of fermented veggies and water kefir so that my body had more probiotics and enzymes to use for healing. Beyond that, I continued eating a very clean diet void of chemical additives so that there were no toxins to slow the healing process.

Have you ever had a broken bone? What did you do to support its healing?

Ten Tips for Avoiding Hangovers

I want to take this opportunity to wish you a joyous night of celebration and a very Happy New Year. Please celebrate with caution and be careful! This post is dedicated to ways to avoid hangovers.

I don’t condone excess drinking, but we all know that New Year’s Eve is typically a night filled with alcohol.Beer Bottles Why does excess alcohol cause a hangover? For the following reasons:

  • Alcohol causes dehydration, which leads to inflammation and feeling generally horrible.
  • Alcohol contains two highly toxic compounds: acetaldehyde and malondialdehyde. These two chemicals create massive cell damage throughout the body. The damage caused by these chemicals is so severe it resembles the damage caused by radiation. There’s a good reason you feel so bad! 
  • Alcohol lowers blood sugar and can cause hypoglycemia. Typical symptoms of hypoglycemia include weakness, dizziness, nausea, and more. Sound familiar? If you ever notice someone acting far drunker than their consumption warrants, chances are they have a low blood sugar. Get them something to eat! 

If needed, use the following ten tips for avoiding hangovers:

1) Don’t drink. (This is the only certain way to avoid hangovers. You know it.) Please don’t waste your money on products claiming to be a hangover “cure.” There is no such thing. The only way to avoid hangovers is to not drink, or to drink very small amounts of alcohol.

2) Alternate every alcoholic drink with a big glass of water or other beverage. Dehydration is one cause of hangovers, so drinking a non-alcoholic beverage between each alcoholic beverage will help limit your intake and will help keep you hydrated. Staying hydrated is key to avoiding hangovers.

3) Add trace minerals to every drink. In addition to replacing essential electrolytes, trace minerals help counteract alcohol’s acidic effects. My favorite trace mineral is I like this one: Premier Polar Mins, but drinking coconut water is also an excellent way to replace trace minerals. It makes a good mixer, so it’s a win-win.

4) Don’t mix different types of alcohol. Stick to one type. Mixing beer and wine and distilled liquors puts a heavy load on your body’s ability to metabolize both the alcohol and the other ingredients in the drinks. There’s no guarantee that only drinking one kind of alcohol will avoid a hangover, but it may diminish the symptoms.

5) Drink lighter colored forms of alcohol. Darker alcohols (bourbon, dark rum, etc.) contain higher amounts of congeners, the toxins in alcohol which cause hangovers. Cheap booze also has higher amounts of congeners, so splurging on name brands which are more expensive may reduce hangover symptoms.

6) Avoid bubbly mixers. The gases in bubbly mixers can cause alcohol to enter the bloodstream more rapidly and may make it more difficult for the body to eliminate the toxins in the alcohol. Instead of carbonated mixers, use coconut water (loaded with electrolytes), fruit juice, water, etc.

7) Eat before you start drinking. Eating slows the absorption of alcohol and helps your body eliminate alcohol’s toxins. Eating a meal high in healthy fats is known to reduce hangover symptoms.

8) Order drinks on the rocks. The ice will melt and dilute the alcohol and will help keep you hydrated.

9) Ask for a larger glass. Ask your server to put your drink in a 16-ounce glass and fill the empty space with water.

10) Use supplements. Yes, supplements can reduce the effects of a hangover. Many hard core alcoholics know that taking Lecithin and Milk Thistle before, during and after drinking can help reduce hangover symptoms. The added bonus is that these also help repair the liver, so there is some value in using them.

Alcohol depletes the body of B Vitamins, Magnesium, Potassium and other essential nutrients, so taking a multi-vitamin before you drink and a B Complex vitamin can help. Taking potent antioxidants can also help prevent the damage done by alcohol’s damaging chemicals. Taking all of the previously mentioned supplements as soon as you wake up may also help.

Related Articles:

Surprising Facts About Vitamin B12

Why You Need More Magnesium

Unusual Ways to Keep the Holidays Healthy

My Holiday Prayer for You

Difference Between Bach Flower Remedies, Essential Oils and Herbal Tinctures

Healing Mosaic

Many people seem to have a difficult time distinguishing between Bach Flower Essences, Essential Oils and liquid Herbal Extracts. This is probably because these remedies are liquids and are packaged very similarly. In my practice, I use each of these, so I wanted to share information to help explain what each of these supplements is, how it is used, and how the remedy is made. Each description contains links to some of the most popular remedies of that type. Please consult a trained practitioner before using any of these remedies. As always, these statements have not been evaluated by the FDA, are shared for informational purposes only, and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Let’s go!

Bach Flower Remedies/Flower Essences

Dr. Edward Bach first began using flower essences in the 1930’s when he realized that his patients’ emotional state directly affected their ability to heal physically. Through his research, Dr. Bach identified 38 different negative emotional states and developed a flower remedy for each. Bach Flower Remedies are used to address emotional states such as depression, obsessiveness, bitterness, etc. The essences are made by infusing flower petals from specific flowers in brandy. (Non-alcoholic versions are available for children and pets.) The beauty of the flower essences is that they have a very gentle impact and do not interact with prescription medications. (The Bach flower remedies cannot be used with prescription Antibuse due to their alcohol content.)One of the most popular Bach Flower Remedies is Rescue Remedy, commonly used during times of extreme stress. Rescue Remedy is often used in emergencies to help people calm down. It is also known to be highly effective for pets who have separation anxiety or storm fear. (Pet Rescue Remedy is alcohol free and very effective.) I often find the Bach Flower Remedy Gorse to be very helpful when addressing long-term depression. Most practitioners use a specific set of written questions to identify which Bach Flower Remedies may be best for emotional issues and then create a customized blend in mineral water that is taken four times daily. It is very important to work with a trained practitioner when identifying which Bach Flower Remedy is best for specific issues. If you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, please read my post: Stop Seasonal Affective Disorder Now.

Essential Oils

Essential oils are the highly concentrated volatile aromatic oils that give plants their aromas. They are highly medicinal and can be used for physical issues and emotional issues. (The chemicals in essential oils can have very powerful and positive emotional effects because they cross the blood-brain barrier.) Essential oils are so versatile they also have culinary uses and a wide variety of uses for cleaning and scenting. The oils are distilled or pressed from the leaves, flowers, stems, barks, roots or seeds of a plant, tree or bush. Essential oils are highly concentrated and have such strong medicinal powers that they must always be diluted before use.
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Very few essential oils are suitable for internal use. There are a few applications that do not require dilution, and several essential oils that can be used internally, but only highly trained practitioners should use essential oils in those manners. Additionally, some essential oils can actually be harmful to health when incorrectly used. Please never use essential oils without consulting an expert or doing extensive research. (On a side note, I am aware there is a network marketing company which claims their essential oils are such high quality they can always be used internally and without dilution. I STRONGLY disagree with this company’s teachings and feel they encourage very dangerous usage of essential oils.)
The medicinal effects of essential oils can be gained through inhalation, balneotherapy (bathing), diffusion, massage, compresses, etc. Essential oils do smell good (most of them, at least) and can be used for scenting, but their potential extends far beyond that. My two favorite essential oils, which I consider “essential” for every home first aid kit, are Lavender and Tea Tree oil. For more information on essential oils and their uses, please read Hand Sanitizer Alternatives with Recipes.

Liquid Herbal Tinctures (Extracts)

Most people now use the term “tincture” to refer to any liquid herbal extract, but this term is actually incorrect. My definition is that a tincture is made using fresh plant materials and extracts are made using dried plant materials. However, everyone seems to have their own definition to distinguish between liquid tinctures and extracts. Since the term “tincture” is commonly used to refer to all liquid extracts, that’s the term I use in this post. Liquid herbal tinctures are concentrated forms of medicinal herbs that contain the beneficial properties of the herb extracted into a liquid. Tinctures are typically made by placing an herb or herbs in a natural solvent, such as alcohol, glycerin or vinegar, and allowing the mixture to infuse for three weeks or longer. The amounts of herb, solvent and water used are very specific and are dependent upon the herb being used. (Some herbs require higher amounts of solvent, some require lesser amounts.)
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It is actually very easy to make your own herbal tinctures. I make them frequently and love being able to make my own in the comfort of my kitchen. For detailed information on how to make herbal tinctures and other herbal products, I highly recommend reading Richo Cech’s book, Making Plant Medicine. The book provides ample information about herbs and provides detailed information about how to use herbs in a variety of ways. Herbal tinctures can be used for any and all conditions which are treated with herbs. They are typically taken internally, although some people use them topically in poultices. Some people even add anti-bacterial herbal tinctures to their neti pot. Why use an herbal tincture instead of drinking teas or taking capsules? Because a therapeutic dose of the desired herb can be obtained in a tiny amount of the tincture instead of having to eat pounds of the raw herb or drink gallons of tea. My personal preference is to use liquid tinctures instead of dried extracts in capsules because I believe they are stronger and because it avoids consuming “fillers” commonly used in capsuled products. Herbal tinctures can have a very strong taste, but diluting them in a bit of water or juice effectively modifies the taste.
Glycerites are herbal extracts made in glycerin  Glycerin is a very sweet vegetable liquid that is often used to make liquid herbal extracts for children. The glycerin is used so that the extracts taste good. The problem with glycerites is that (for most herbs) glycerin is not as strong a solvent as alcohol, which makes glycerites weaker in terms of their medicinal potential. However, glycerites are a good compromise for anyone who cannot tolerate the taste of alcohol tinctures. (For detailed information on one of my favorite herbal tinctures, Goldenseal, please read The Wonders of Goldenseal.)

Have you tried or used Bach Flower Remedies, Tinctures or Essential Oils? What was your expereince? Please share!

My passion is helping others improve their health using a natural approach to wellness. If you are interested in feeling better and reversing symptoms by addressing their cause, please feel free to contact me. I will work with you to help you reach your goals. I will not let you fail!

The most obvious conclusion I’ve drawn from writing this post is that I need to write many more posts about the uses of specific Bach Flower Remedies, essential oils and herbal extracts! Stay tuned for more!

Photo used by permission courtesy of LaWendula Photography

Natural Approaches to West Nile Virus

Picture of a mosquito biting a human

The recent rise of West Nile Virus has raised concerns about ways to prevent the spread the virus. West Nile Virus can become a severe illness in a very small percent of the population. The majority of us have nothing to worry about. The best defense against West Nile Virus is controlling mosquito populations in your neighborhood and ensuring your immune system is functioning at full capacity.

Please note: West Nile Virus is a very serious illness. Anyone with symptoms should seek immediate medical attention. The information in this post is shared for educational purposes only. The information in this post has not been reviewed by the FDA and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness. It is also not intended to replace the medical advice received from your physician.

Facts About West Nile Virus

West Nile Virus is reported to be a virus that is typically found in birds. The virus spreads to humans when a mosquito stings an infected bird and then stings a human. Although the virus is listed as a “severe illness” by the CDC and mainstream media, the fact is that less than 1% of those who are bitten by an infected mosquito develop severe symptoms. Children are reported to be the least likely to be infected. The population most at risk are adults over 50 who have pre-existing conditions which compromise their immunity.

Per the CDC, “No reliable estimates are available for the number of cases of West Nile encephalitis that occur worldwide.” The CDC also acknowledges that there is a broad variance in the data reported about the prevalence of West Nile Virus in areas where it is tracked. This raises questions about whether or not many cases listed as West Nile Virus truly are. Many people believe the severity and frequency of the virus are being exaggerated to support the spraying of dangerous chemicals. I encourage everyone research and draw your own conclusions. I also encourage you to take measures to protect yourself from the sprayed chemicals, as most of the insecticides being sprayed are known carcinogens and/or are known to impair liver and endocrine function.

Good News About West Nile Virus

It is important to note the following very positive facts about West Nile Virus:

  • Most people bitten by an infected mosquito never notice any symptoms. Their body very naturally combats the virus and they never contract a full-blown case.
  • A smaller number of people, typically those with slightly weaker immune systems, experience very mild flu symptoms. These symptoms include headache, sore joints, mild fever, etc.
  • Less than 1% of people – typically those with extremely compromised immunity – experience the most severe symptoms of West Nile Virus. These symptoms are very similar to those of encephalitis and include brain inflammation with headache, fever, muscle weakness, stiffness, confusion and sometimes convulsions. Only 5% of the one percent that may contract these severe symptoms experience long-term complications or death from the virus. (This equates to 0.05% of those infected.)

Protective Measures Against West Nile Virus

The most obvious way to protect yourself and your loved ones from West Nile Virus is to ensure there is no standing water in or near your home. The most common carrier of West Nile Virus, female Culex mosquitoes, typically do not travel more than 440 yards (one quarter mile) from where they hatch. Although they may travel further, your best defense is to focus on controlling stagnant water in your neighborhood. If you have a water source you cannot eliminate, I recommend using Bt bacteria (Bacillus thuringiensis), a non-chemical insecticide. This insecticide is used heavily in third world countries and has no known harmful effects to humans and other mammals even in very high doses. Most garden supply stores carry it.

The other option for reducing your risk of serious infection is to ensure your immune system is working at full capacity. The most effective way to boost immunity is to limit sugar and to eat a clean diet consisting of organic whole foods and no artificial food additives. Drinking adequate water, getting plenty of sleep and engaging in exercise are also known methods of improving immunity. If you wish to take a supplement to boost immunity, I recommend the following three for adults. Dosages must be adjusted for children:

The final option for protection is to use insecticidal sprays. The CDC has acknowledged that the essential oil Lemon Eucalyptus is equally effective as DEET when applied frequently. I recommend using natural sprays for protection, but you must realize these sprays must be applied more frequently to be effective. Very simple spray-on protection can be made using the recipe that follows:

Natural Mosquito Repellent Recipe

Blend all ingredients well and allow to “meld” for at least 48 hours. To use, shake well and spray onto skin and clothing. Re-apply frequently. Avoid spraying into eyes or mouth.

Other home remedies that can help include eating lots of garlic and taking Vitamin B1 on a daily basis. For maximum protection, dress in long sleeves and pants and avoid going out at dawn and dusk.

What are your favorite mosquito repellents? What are your thoughts on media coverage of West Nile Virus? (Let’s keep comments positive, please.) I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Image courtesy of: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Some links in this post are affiliate links

Green Coffee Bean Extract and Raspberry Ketones: Truth or Hype?

Green Coffee Beans

I’ve recently received many questions about whether or not Green Coffee Extract and Raspberry Ketones actually work. These questions multiplied after a well-known MD with a nationally-syndicated television show promoted these supplements. I’ve also been receiving multiple spam email messages about both supplements. I confess the spam made me question the validity of these supplements, so I decided I needed to do more research. I also have to admit my research was difficult, as most of the sites containing “research” were also trying to sell one or both of the products. 

Update, May 8, 2013: I do not recommend using these supplements. Please do not contact me to ask if I think it’s a good idea for you to take them. I do not, regardless of your health issues. Thank you.

Please be aware there are no “magic bullets.” Weight gain or an inability to lose weight always has a cause. Eliminating the cause is key to finally losing weight. Please read my article, The Top 7 Reasons You Can’t Lose Weight, for more information on weight loss and on physiological issues that may prevent it.

If you are struggling with weight loss and need help or coaching, please contact me to schedule a consultation. I have literally helped hundreds of people lose many thousands of pounds. I use an approach that provides coaching and education in nutrition, fitness, metabolic balancing, and eliminating sabotaging thought patterns. I would love to help you reach your health goals. I will not let you fail. Please feel free to contact me at 317.489.0909 or via email. PLEASE NOTE I CANNOT ANSWER MEDICAL QUESTIONS VIA EMAIL. You must schedule a consultation to receive advice. 

Very few double-blind, placebo-controlled studies have been done on these supplements. The ones that were done were either very, very small (less than 20 participants) or were done on mice and not humans. The information that follows shares what I found when I researched both supplements. As always, this information is shared for informational purposes only and was not evaluated by the FDA. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness. Please do not take any supplement without first discussing it with your physician and checking for prescription interactions.

Green Coffee Bean Extract

The only study I could find that researched the effectiveness of Green Coffee Bean Extract on weight loss was done by JA Vinson,BR Burnham, and MV Nagendran. This study did find the extract helped with weight loss, but was only conducted on 16 people and was conducted over a very short period of time. In my opinion, a study of 16 people does not qualify as a valid study, as the control group is simply too small to prove the effects would be the same in a larger group. Additionally, I could find zero information on how the “control” group was chosen, which again causes me to question the validity of the study. It is also important to note that the company who paid for the study is a company which manufactures and sells green coffee bean extract. (Please read my article, Simple Ways to Evaluate the Validity of a Research Study for more information on ways to know whether published conclusions are valid or not.)

Potential Positive Benefits of Green Coffee Bean Extract:

  • Green coffee bean extract is known to contain many anti-oxidants, which are known to boost health and protect cells from damage from toxins, aging, and free radicals. (That does not mean it helps with weight loss.)
  • Green coffee bean extract contains chlorogenic acid, a chemical which is thought to help balance blood sugar levels. (Insulin encourages the body to store fat instead of burning it, so reducing blood sugars and reducing the amount of insulin produced is a proven method of assisting weight loss. However, there is no evidence to prove this supplement works or that it effectively reduces insulin levels.)
  • Some studies have shown that green coffee bean extract may help suppress appetite and may have a positive effect on lowering blood pressure.

Potential Negative Effects of Green Coffee Bean Extract:

  • The frenzy surrounding green coffee bean extract has caused a multitude of supplements to be released which don’t actually contain green coffee bean extract, which contain harmful fillers or which contain a very low-quality extract. Use caution when purchasing green coffee bean extract and only purchase from highly reliable suppliers.
  • Some people respond negatively to the supplement. (Any supplement has the potential to create an allergic reaction in sensitive individuals.)
  • The supplement does not work for everyone. Physical and hormonal issues preventing weight loss may not be helped by this supplement.
  • The caffeine in green coffee bean extract may have a negative affect on some people.

My Conclusions About Green Coffee Bean Extract:

As with most products claiming to boost weight loss, green coffee bean extract is no magic bullet. There are many other methods of reducing insulin in the body, so taking this supplement may boost weight loss efforts a little bit, but won’t produce dramatic results for most people. My recommendation is to follow a low-glycemic eating plan and to use your head. On an interesting side note, roasted coffee also contains chlorogenic acid, so drinking a single, eight ounce cup of ORGANIC coffee may have the same effect as taking these supplements.

Raspberry Ketones

The only studies I could find that have been done on raspberry ketones were done on mice, and one was only done on mice who were being fed a high-fat diet. Raspberry ketones have been around for a very long time. The only “new” thing about them is that the marketing. Let’s be honest, the fact a supplement was recommended by a doctor on TV doesn’t mean it works, it just means it gets an insane amount of marketing attention. There is plenty of anecdotal “evidence” stating raspberry ketones assist with weight loss, but I could not find any scientific evidence that proved it.

Potential Positive Benefits of Raspberry Ketones:

  • There is some evidence that indicates raspberry ketones might alter the levels of a adinopectin, a hormone that is typically lower in obese people and which has been shown to be a factor in insulin resistance. (Insulin resistance is often a precursor to and major factor in Type 2 Diabetes. That does not mean this supplement helps with weight loss.)
  • Raspberry ketones may also stimulate the release of the hormone norepinephrine, an adrenal hormone which affects metabolism. (The problem is that it may negatively affect the adrenal glands and ultimately reduce one’s ability to lose weight.)
  • As with green coffee been extract, raspberry ketones do contain anti-oxidants which may have some health benefits, but no weight loss benefits.

Potential Negative Effects of Raspberry Ketones:

  • The supplements sold are artificial raspberry ketones created in a lab and are not the real thing
  • Norepinephrine can have a very negative effect on health. It can cause anxiety, raise body temperature, and raise blood pressure.
  • Stimulating the adrenal glands to release norepinephrine could cause adrenal fatigue, which would ultimately have a very negative effect on weight loss efforts.
  • All of the potential negative effects I cited for green coffee bean extract also apply to raspberry ketones.

My Conclusions About Raspberry Ketones:

Similar to the conclusions I drew about green coffee bean extract, I think the claims made about raspberry ketones are all hype. They may assist with weight loss in a very small way, but they are not extremely effective. The fact raspberry ketones affect adrenal hormones concerns me. Adrenal function directly affects weight gain and loss. Taking raspberry ketones has the potential to harm adrenal function, which would ultimately result in weight gain. I can’t honestly recommend taking this supplement. As with any supplement, if you choose to take it, please discuss it with your physician first. Please monitor blood pressure carefully. If elevated blood pressure occurs, or if you begin to notice anxiety or hot flashes after taking it, please discontinue use immediately.

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If you are struggling with weight loss and need help or coaching, please contact me to schedule a consultation. (Liability issues prevent me from answering questions or providing advice if you are not an established client.) I have literally helped hundreds of people lose many thousands of pounds. I use an approach that provides coaching and education in nutrition, fitness, metabolic balancing, and eliminating sabotaging thought patterns. I would love to help you reach your health goals. I will not let you fail. Please feel free to contact me at 317.489.0909 or via email

Update added October 24th: Yes, these products can be taken together, but I do not recommend their use. They both do basically the same thing, so taking them simultaneously will not necessarily boost your weight loss efforts. There are much easier ways to lose weight which are free.

References:

CalorieLab.com: Green Coffee Bean Extract – Weight Loss Miracle, or Waste of Time?

Los Angeles Times: Green Bean Study Shows Promise

Kimberly Snyder, The Truth About Raspberry Ketones

PubMed: Adiponectin

Six Things People with Diabetes Rarely Tell Their Doctor

Lady holding her fingers to her lips as if saying, "Shhh!"

This post covers a variety of behaviors and lifestyle habits that people with diabetes rarely tell their doctor. I need to state a disclaimer before diving into this post. Please note I am not condoning the activities and actions I’ve shared below. I’m simply sharing what I know to be true and what I see occur frequently in the diabetic community. Please follow your doctor’s instructions exactly and do not deviate from them.

Most of you know by now that I’ve had Type 1 Diabetes (the auto-immune, insulin-controlled type) for over 45 years. In the time I’ve had it, I’ve devoted years of research to the disease of diabetes. I have also dedicated myself to understanding how diabetes affects a person’s emotions, not just their body. One of the most fascinating things I’ve discovered from chatting with thousands of people with diabetes is that there are some very common habits many of them share, but which few of them tell their medical staff. Some of these habits are harmless, while others could be potentially harmful.

Why do diabetics break the rules? The most common reason is because the rules don’t work for them. Although MDs live in a world of black and white absolutes, every diabetic knows that much of what they’re told about controlling their disease does not work for them or apply to their specific case. Their body never read the diabetes text book and doesn’t do the things the text book says it should. Most of us wish our doctors understood that control is highly individualized and that not all care guidelines work for all people. People with diabetes soon learn which topics are “safe” to discuss with their doctor and which will earn them a quick lecture. They grow weary of being told they’re “wrong” or being told one of the control tactics they rely on “can’t possibly work.” The truth is that every person’s body and lifestyle is highly unique and requires a unique approach to maintaining control. What works for me may not work for anyone else, and what works for them may not work for me. Doctors don’t have time to consider these “gray areas,” so diabetics keep this “secret info” to themselves.

The list that follows includes the top six things I’ve found diabetics rarely tell their doctor. Do you know of others? Please share!

I take a lot of supplements to help control my diabetes

This one is perhaps the most common. I hear this not only from diabetics, but from many different people with many different health conditions. Why do people not tell their doctor about their supplements? People I chat with share one of three basic reasons: 1) They are tired of their doctor telling them the supplement doesn’t work (even though using it has improved their health); 2) They are taking the supplement(s) instead of taking a prescription (see the next point); or 3) They know their doctor doesn’t believe in supplements and don’t want to risk upsetting him or her.

Obviously, it is IMPERATIVE to tell your doctor about every supplement you take. Your MD needs to know what you’re taking so that s/he can advise you about any potential interactions with your prescriptions. A growing group of MDs is learning about supplements and accepting their use. If yours is not one of them, perhaps it’s time to find one who is more accepting of the lifestyle you’ve chosen.

There are a wide variety of supplements that can help people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes maintain better control. However, these supplements must be very carefully researched before being added to one’s regimen. It can be dangerous for a Type 1 diabetic to begin taking supplements without checking their blood sugar more frequently. No one taking a prescription medications should begin taking a supplement without first discussing the potential interactions with their doctor or pharmacist. My favorite resource for researching potential interactions between prescription medications and natural supplements is the PDR for Non-Prescription Drugs, 33rd Edition.

I don’t take some of the prescriptions you write for me

This is another very serious item. If you are not going to take a prescription your doctor prescribed, you must tell him or her. It is your choice to not take a prescription, but you owe your MD the courtesy of being honest about it. When you share this information with your MD, take your research, be direct without being emotional, and make it clear your decision is final. If your MD has an issue with this, perhaps it’s time to find someone who is a better fit for your needs. (On a side note, there are times it may be better to take the prescription. Please do significant research before deciding to not take a prescription. As an example, I take insulin. There are no viable alternatives that are 100% effective, so I consider myself blessed to have it available.)

I don’t use alcohol when I take my shot or check my blood sugar

I can’t say that 100% of diabetics fall into this category, but a huge number of them do. Remembering to pack alcohol swabs is just one more thing on an already long list of items that have to be carted around on a daily basis. Many diabetics have found – contrary to what their MD told them – that not using alcohol doesn’t make much difference. They don’t wind up with skin infections, and their insulin continues working perfectly. It’s a personal choice. (This is only true if they are healthy and are under good control.) From a bird’s eye perspective, I don’t think this is a big deal, provided their blood sugars are under good control, they don’t have any other auto-immune conditions, and they are not in a dirty environment filled with toxins. It’s always best to use alcohol, but the likelihood of developing a complication if none is available is fairly small.

I use my syringes and lancets more than once

Most people are horrified to learn that many diabetics re-use their syringes. Let me make it perfectly clear they are not sharing their needles, they are simply using them twice in order to save money The same is true of the lancets used to prick their finger to check their blood sugar. Is it the best way to treat their disease? No. Is it one that has a huge negative effect? Not really. I don’t recommend it, but based on the hundreds of diabetics I know who do this, the effects are too small to even be measured. Re-using syringes is never a good idea, but the effects will probably be minimal for someone who is under good control, is in a clean environment and who does not have other auto-immune conditions affecting their immunity.

In all honesty, if a diabetic cannot afford syringes and lancets, I’d much rather they re-use them than not take insulin at all. A diabetic who needs insulin and stops taking it will wind up in the hospital and deathly ill very quickly. Diabetics who re-use needles run a risk of infection and run a risk of injecting bacteria into their insulin bottles. The potential for disaster is huge, but the fact is that very few ill effects are seen. I don’t advise re-using syringes, but if you’re in a situation where you’re forced to re-use one, please do not exert much energy to worrying about the after-effects. Again … this does not refer to people sharing needles. I’m not talking about a family of diabetics using each other’s syringes. I’m talking about an individual who re-uses their own syringes.

I leave my insertion set in for more than 3 days and refill my reservoirs

This item applies to people with diabetes who use an insulin pump. Insulin pumps use a reservoir that looks somewhat like a short, squat syringe with no needle. The diabetic fills the reservoir manually and then inserts it into the pump. One end of the reservoir is connected to a long tube. The other end is connected to the body via an insertion set. The insertion set contains a very tiny plastic cannula (a form of tiny needle) that is inserted into the abdomen, arm or buttocks. The pump injects insulin into the diabetic’s body on a continuous basis. The amount of insulin infused into the person’s body is controlled by information the diabetic (or his/her support staff) programs into the pump. Programming the pump and inserting the insertion set is a very simple process. An insulin pump is the closest thing we have to a functioning pancreas.

Most pump companies instruct their users to change insertion sets and reservoirs every three days to avoid infection and to ensure insulin delivery continues at the correct dosage. Many diabetics I know leave their insertion sets in for longer periods. I also know a few who refill their reservoir instead of replacing it. These diabetics swear they can’t tell a difference. (One told me she can leave her insertion set in for more than 10 days before infection develops. I would say that’s pushing the limit on the insertion set’s ability to maintain adequate delivery.)

Why do they do it? It’s very simple. Many diabetics are uninsured, and many are underinsured. Many insurance companies have changed their deductible program and have raised deductibles above $10,000 per family. This means that most diabetics receive NO assistance with their pump supplies, in spite of having insurance. On my insurance plan, our regular prescriptions are filled for a co-pay and don’t apply to the deductible, but my insulin pump supplies do not. My insurance company will not pay a dime toward my supplies until my family meets our $10,000 deductible. There is no logic behind this, as helping their insureds maintain good control is the best way insurance companies can avoid more expensive claims. Almost four billion dollars each year are spent on diabetic amputations. That number could potentially be lowered if insurance companies would re-think their approach to handling insurance claims for basic care needs.

A 90-day supply of infusion sets and reservoirs costs anywhere between $500-900 dollars. That’s a huge expense for many people. It is an expense that motivates many diabetics to stretch a 90-day supply of materials into a 180-day supply or longer. They don’t do it as a form of rebellion; they do it because they have no other choice.

The diet you told me to follow kept my sugars sky high, so I found a new one that works for me

I hear this more than any other concern voiced by people with diabetes. A mother with a 10-year old recently came into my office and said her son’s dietitian recommended he eat seven servings of high-glycemic carbohydrates per day. She said he used over 100 units of insulin per day eating that diet because his blood sugars were so high. He also felt horrible most of the time. I worked with her to create an eating plan her son could easily work into his daily activities. The plan I recommended focused on low-glycemic carbohydrates in smaller quantities. Within two weeks, this young man’s energy had returned to normal levels and his insulin needs had lowered to around 60 units per day. (Lowering the amount of insulin needed to maintain control is helpful because of the hormonal side-effects of insulin.) I’ve also had clients come to my office who said they argued with their diabetes educator because they felt the amount of sugars and carbohydrates they were eating was excessive. These patients typically get a slap on the wrist and are told they must obey. Sadly, many who find they can maintain better control using a different eating style than the one their doctor’s staff recommended are labeled “non-compliant.”

This brings us back to individuality. Every person’s body responds to carbohydrates and other types of foods in different ways. Most people with diabetes know which foods affect them more than others. (For me, a quarter cup of white rice will send my blood sugar through the roof in about five minutes. I can’t eat it, even though it was one of the main foods recommended by the diabetes educator I saw many years ago.) It is impossible to use a “cookie cutter” approach to eating styles for people with diabetes. Each person must start with a basic recommendation and then tweak it to fit their needs. Many endocrinologists and their staffs are not willing to allow their patients to deviate from their strict guidelines. This is sad, because it makes many diabetics think they have to hide things from their endocrinologist.

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I recognize and fully expect this post will generate controversy. I’ve shared the truth, but I know many will react in anger. I’m ok with that.

Do you have diabetes? Do you hide things from your doctor? What do you think needs to change in the world of diabetes to encourage more open dialog between endocrinologists/doctors and people with diabetes? I firmly believe change occurs one person at a time. Let’s start here!

*Links in this post are affiliate links shared to provide a visual representation of the mentioned item.

Why You Need More Magnesium

Experts estimate that 80% of the US population is deficient in Magnesium, a very basic mineral that is essential for good magnesiumhealth and which is used by every system in the body.

A lack of Magnesium in the body may cause any of the following: 

  • muscle cramps
  • heart palpitations
  • headaches and migraines
  • fatigue
  • constipation
  • muscle weakness
  • digestive disorders
  • impaired pituitary and thyroid function
  • PMS
  • kidney problems
  • insulin resistance and/or hypoglycemia
  • insomnia
  • depression
  • vertigo
  • problems swallowing
  • muscle aches
  • tremors and shaking
  • anxiety or over-excitability
  • muscle twitching and tics
  • Restless Leg Syndrome
  • osteopenia and osteoporosis
  • kidney stones and heel spurs
  • coronary spasms
  • atrial fibrillation
  • dizziness
  • memory problems
  • numbness in extremities
  • worsening of asthma symptoms
  • water retention
  • high blood pressure
  • loss of appetite or nausea
  • and many more 

The problem with these symptoms is that many are very vague and most could be caused by a wide variety of other issues. Unfortunately, it is extremely rare for a medical professional to consider a magnesium deficiency and act accordingly when faced with symptoms that indicate one. Additionally, plasma levels of magnesium measured during blood tests are very inaccurate because only 1% of magnesium in the body is stored in the blood. The majority of magnesium in the body is stored in the tissues, making blood tests almost worthless. We live in a society where mainstream physicians are taught to place more weight on blood test results than on symptoms, which makes it even less likely that a person exhibiting multiple symptoms of magnesium deficiency will be given magnesium. (There is a blood test that is more accurate, the ionized magnesium test, but it is not widely available.)

As the huge list of symptoms indicates, magnesium is necessary for the proper functioning of every body system. A deficiency can have devastating consequences. Magnesium is the most prolific mineral in the body and is responsible for almost 400 different biochemical reactions in the body. A short list of the body functions magnesium directly influences include:

  • Allows the body to absorb calcium and to place it where it belongs 
  • Essential for the production of energy
  • Essential for the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats
  • Relaxes muscles so they remain flexible
  • Essential for the activation of B vitamins
  • Helps build bone and keep it flexible enough to not shatter
  • Helps maintain a normal electrical flow of nerve impulses in the heart
  • Essential for hormone balance (especially during PMS and menopause)
  • Essential for initiation over 300 different enzyme reactions essential for health
  • Essential for proper digestion
  • Essential for the production of key brain chemicals
  • Essential for normal kidney and liver function

Obviously, you need magnesium. If you eat a standard diet, drink alcohol, or drink coffee, you are probably magnesium deficient. Many people are magnesium deficient because of digestive disorders and malabsorption. (Please read Top Six Ways to Maximize Digestion for tips on improving digestion.) 

It is possible to maintain adequate magnesium levels by eating high levels of dark leafy greens, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds on a daily basis. If you’re eating well and don’t have absorption problems, you’re probably not deficient. If you don’t eat well, drink alcohol or can’t get by without your daily cup of java, you need to be getting supplemental magnesium other ways. (Coffee and alcohol sap the body of magnesium very quickly. It is not unusual for alcoholics to have anxiety and sleep disorders as a result of their magnesium deficiency.)

Drinking a daily Green Drink is a wonderful way to get sufficient magnesium and other essential nutrients. If you don’t care for the taste of green drinks (which taste like grass, to be blunt), try Green Vibrance Capsules by Vibrant Health. It is one of my favorites and is one I use frequently.

If you prefer to increase your magnesium using supplements, do NOT take Magnesium Oxide. It is a form of oxide that your body cannot absorb. It is worthless. Read labels and make sure whichever supplement you purchase does not contain magnesium oxide. Most people do best taking 200-800 mg of magnesium on a daily basis. I recommend starting with 200/day and very gradually working up (not exceeding 1200 mg) until your symptoms disappear. Having loose stools is a good indicator that you’re taking too much. If you develop diarrhea, take less magnesium.

I recommend doing or using the following to increase magnesium levels, in conjunction with a healthy diet:

  • Take a very warm bath three times weekly with 2-3 cups of Epsom salts in the bath. Your skin will absorb the magnesium, eliminating the need for it to be absorbed through the digestive system.
  • Use Magnesium Oil:  Magnesium oil is not an oil, but has an oily feeling due to the high concentration of magnesium in the liquid. Note that it is necessary to use high doses of magnesium oil in order to receive a high amount of magnesium. Most oils need to be used in doses of eight sprays, three times daily.
  • Take Magnesium Glycinate:  Magnesium Glycinate is one of the more easily absorbed forms of magnesium. The magnesium molecule is bonded with glycine, which is an amino acid. The human digestive tract is maximized to absorb amino acids, and glycine is known to improve digestion, so the combination of the magnesium and the glycine greatly increases the absorption levels. The amount of glycine absorbed is minimal, so please do not use magnesium glycinate instead of a glycine supplement if you need supplemental glycine.

My passion is helping people improve their health by identifying and correcting nutritional deficiencies and other causes of illness. I have helped thousands of people improve their health, reverse symptoms and reduce their need for medication. If you are ready to improve your health using a holistic approach, please contact me to schedule a consultation.

As always, none of these statements were evaluated by the FDA and none were intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any health condition. Check with your medical practitioner before starting or stopping any supplement or medication.

References:

Yu ASL. Disorders of magnesium and phosphorus. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 120.

Rakel D, ed. Integrative Medicine. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007.

Common Nutritional Deficiencies Caused by Medications

Prescription Bottle

Many people do not realize the prescription they are taking to address one health issue is depleting nutrients that may cause other health problems. Unfortunately, few patients are told about nutritional deficiencies that can be caused by prescriptions. This results in health issues developing which may be a mystery but which can typically be reversed very quickly simply by replenishing the nutrient that was depleted by the prescription medication. In a strange twist of fate, many of the prescription medications I listed below deplete the body of a nutrient that is essential for preventing or controlling the very condition the prescription is used to remedy. Unfortunately, many doctors are not aware of the nutritional deficiencies caused by the medications they prescribe. As a patient, it is imperative to look up each prescription medication you take to see if you should be supplementing to replace what it is depleting. In my office, I review each client’s prescriptions medications to ensure they are taking measures to prevent a potential deficiency.

The table that follows provides a list of just a few of the most common prescriptions that can cause a nutritional deficiency. I’ve provided information about the prescription medication, the nutrient(s) it is known to deplete in the body, and information on which supplement might be used to help counteract or prevent deficiencies. I’ve shown one possible supplement per deficiency, but many options exist. I’ve merely shown the one I like or use personally. Please note this is a very tiny list and is not complete. If you’d like to pick up a book providing excellent, detailed information on deficiencies caused by prescriptions, I highly recommend Suzy Cohen’s Drug Muggers: Which Medications are Robbing Your Body of Essential Nutrients and Natural Ways to Restore Them.

Please also note this table does not list interactions which may occur between foods or supplements taken with prescriptions. Please consult your MD, read the information that comes with your prescriptions, and research to determine which supplements and foods should never be taken with your prescription medications.

NOTE: This information is being shared for educational purposes only. If this information concerns you, please discuss it with your MD before making any changes to your care plan. Please DO NOT begin taking any supplements without checking with your MD. Additionally, never stop taking a prescription medication or alter the dosage without the express consent of your MD or other healthcare practitioner. None of these statements were reviewed by the FDA and none are intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any medical condition.

Nutritional Deficiencies Caused by Prescription Medications

Medication Deficiency Caused Potential Source of Replenishment
  • Statin Drugs
  • Anti-Diabetics (Micronase, Glynase, DiaBeta, Dymelor,  Glipizide/Glucotrol, Metformin/Glucophage, Tolinase)
  • Pamelor and other Tricyclic Antidepressants
  • Beta-Blockers Used for High Blood Pressure (Lopressor, Toprol, Inderal, Coreg, etc.)
Co-Enzyme Q10 (CoQ10) Co-Enzyme Q10 is essential for heart health, so it is concerning that statin and drugs used to treat type 2 diabetes cause a severe depletion in this nutrient. Some studies indicate congestive heart failure’s base cause is a deficiency in CoQ10. If you take a statin drug of any of the antidiabetics listed, I strongly encourage you to take a Ubiquinol Supplement on a daily basis. I recommend taking .5-1mg per pound of body weight. Your body must convert CoQ10 into Ubiquinol in order to absorb it, so it is much more efficient to simply take the Ubiquinol.
  • Metformin
  • Most Antibiotics (Azithromyzin/Z-Pack, Amoxicillin, Penicllin*)
  • Most heartburn and GERD medications (Cimetidine, Omprazole, etc.)
  • Colchicine and other anti-gout medications

*Almost all antibiotics deplete Vitamin B12. A complete list would not fit in this table.

Vitamin B12 There are many differing opinions about how much Vitamin B12 a person should take to replenish a deficiency caused by a prescription medication. Luckily, Vitamin B12 is water-soluble, so it is very difficult to develop an excess without taking ridiculously high amounts. My recommendation is to take a minimum of 2000mcg of sublingual, Methylcobalamin B12 on a daily basis. I also recommend having your B12 levels checked every three months if you are taking a medication known to deplete B12. Please see my post, Surprising Facts You Need to Know About Vitamin B12 for more information about how important Vitamin B12 is and how many health issues may result from a deficiency.
  • Ritalin
  • Most Blood Pressure Medications
  • Most Acid Blockers and Antacids
  • Most Antibiotics
  • Most Oral Birth Control
  • Inhaled Corticosteroids (Flonase, Nasonex, Flovent, Pulmicort, Rhinocort, etc.)
Magnesium Magnesium is essential for lowering blood pressure, yet almost all blood pressure medications deplete the body of this essential nutrient. Seems somehow backward, doesn’t it? Several studies found that 70-85% of the US population – children included – are magnesium deficient. (See my post Why You Need More Magnesium for more information on the importance of Magnesium and information on which types are most beneficial.)
  • Valium (Diazepam)
  • Xanax (Alprazolam)
  • SSRI Antidepressants (Fluoxetine/Prozac, etc.)
  • NSAIDS (Celebrex; Ibuprofen/Motrin, Advil, etc.; Naproxen/Aleve, Naprosyn, etc.; Lodine; Daypro; etc.)
  • Hydrocortisone
  • Prednisone
  • Beta-Blockers Used for High Blood Pressure (Lopressor, Toprol, Inderal, Coreg, etc.)
Melatonin Oddly enough, Melatonin is a hormone that is essential for maintaining serotonin balance and for maintaining a positive outlook. Deficiencies can cause depression and insomnia, and may also increase the effects of aging because Melatonin is such a strong antioxidant. Dosage of Melatonin varies from person to person. I generally recommend starting with 1-3 mg each night and increasing the dosage (up to 10 mg) until restful sleep is easily attained. If you take Melatonin and it does nothing for you, that’s a good indicator that you are not deficient. However, most people taking anti-anxiety medications are deficient and find their symptoms improve very quickly once a Melatonin supplement is started.
  • NSAIDS (Celebrex; Ibuprofen/Motrin, Advil, etc.; Naproxen/Aleve, Naprosyn, etc.; Lodine; Daypro; etc.)
  • Aspirin
  • Anti-GERD Medications, both OTC and prescription (Axid, Tagamet, Pepcid, Prevacid, Prilosec, Nexium, Protonix, etc.)
  • Hydrocodone
  • Anti-Cholesterol Medications (Cholestyramine, Collestipol, Questran, Colestid, Atromid-S, etc.)
  • Colchicine (anti-gout)

 

 Iron

Please read Facts About Iron-Deficiency Anemia to learn more about combating anemia.

A word of warning about iron: Do not take an iron supplement unless you know you need it. Additionally, iron may interfere with the absorption of many prescription medications. (One example is that it should never be taken with thyroid medications such as Synthroid or Armour.) For best absorption and to prevent interactions with medications, I recommend taking iron supplements on an empty stomach, at least two hours before or after taking prescription medications.Many forms of over-the-counter iron supplements are almost impossible to absorb. This is why many of them cause constipation. I prefer to use forms of iron which are very easily absorbed and therefore do not cause digestive upset or constipation. My recommendation is to never purchase iron supplements from standard drugstores, as I have yet to find one that carries iron in a form that is easily absorbed. (Please let me know if you find one!)

Have you suffered from a nutritional deficiency you later learned was due to a prescription? How did you counteract it? If you’re taking one of the medications listed, I’m curious to know if your doctor told you in advance about the possibility that it might cause a deficiency? Were you warned and given a list of recommended supplements? I hope you were!

My passion is helping people improve their health by identifying and correcting nutritional deficiencies and other causes of illness. I have helped thousands of people improve their health, reverse symptoms and reduce their need for medication. If you are ready to improve your health using a holistic approach, please contact me to schedule a consultation.

Please note that the links in this post are Amazon affiliate links but that my use of an affiliate link in no way encouraged my listing of these supplements. They truly are my favorite supplements, most of which I use myself.

Top 10 Ways to Shorten the Duration of a Cold

This post is a follow-up to Surprising Facts About the Common Cold. You may want to read that post before you read this. 

I’m often amazed at how many people are affected each year by colds and flu’s that attack their depression immune system. So what can you do to protect yourself? Here are the steps I recommend to shorten a cold. Using these techniques have very successfully helped many people shorten the duration of illness and reduce the severity of their symptoms. Doing the following may help shorten the duration of a cold:

  1. The Obvious: Drink plenty of water, get plenty of rest, eat healthy foods (lots of fruits and veggies), and avoid sugar at all costs. A single teaspoon of sugar suppresses the immune system from two to six hours, so a single can of soda could potentially make you more susceptible to colds for up to 24 hours. It’s not worth it. Another tip that should be obvious is to please blow your nose, constantly if necessary, so that you don’t swallow infected mucous. Do I really need to say anything more? Another tip is to take at least 2000-5000 IU of Vitamin D daily to boost immunity and help prevent colds before they start. You can take higher doses while fighting a cold.
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  2. Use a Neti Pot with Additives: I recommend using a Neti Pot twice daily to help clear congestion, reduce inflammation and eliminate virus-infected mucous from the sinus passages. You can increase the effects of a Neti Pot by adding two to three tablespoons of Colloidal Silver or 30-60 drops of Goldenseal Extract. Both of these additives can also be taken internally. (Read The Wonders of Goldenseal for more info on this great herb.) If you’ve never used a Neti Pot, please rest assured that it is not an unpleasant experience. When done correctly, you should feel next to nothing while using it. The trick is to keep your mouth open and make sure your head is pointed slightly forward. If you find yourself gagging, change your head tilt to correct this. Please ONLY use distilled water in your Neti Pot.
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  3. Make Clove Tea to Soothe a Sore Throat: Cloves not only have an anesthetizing effect but are also one of the highest sources of antioxidants on the planet. (Antioxidants are known to lower infection rates from viruses and bacteria.) Make clove tea by putting one to two tablespoons of whole cloves in a tea strainer and allowing to seep in hot water for five minutes. (You can also put the cloves directly in the water and then scoop them out. They float, so scooping them out is relatively easy.) Add stevia to sweeten it if needed. This tea is a true blessing for a sore throat. The warmth is very soothing, the steam will help clear the sinuses, and the cloves work as an anesthetic to kill the sore throat pain. This tea is a perfect remedy for children, as they generally like the taste and will enjoy not having a sore throat. The fact the tea also makes the mouth numb is a minor inconvenience.
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  4. Take Extra Vitamin C: The body uses Vitamin C to produce the white blood cells which are responsible for fighting viral infections. The recommended dosage of Vitamin C is typically 1000-5000 mg/day. Taking excess Vitamin C produces an “ascorbic acid” flush and causes diarrhea, but during a cold your body can absorb far more. Since getting sick, I’ve been taking an average of 25,000-65,000 mg in divided doses throughout the day and have not experienced the flush effect. This means my body is craving the Vitamin C and is using every single bit of it to fight this cold. During a cold, I recommend starting with 4000 mg/day and very gradually working up to 10,000 mg/day. (Note: I can tolerate higher amounts of Vitamin C because I receive intravenous Vitamin C in huge doses to combat autoimmune issues. Please don’t take the same dosage I take.) You can also use other immunity boosters, such as ZincAstragalusOlive LeafGarlic, etc. Please follow the dosage recommended on the bottle.
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  5. Use Elderberry Extract: Elderberry Extract is one of the strongest anti-viral ingredients known, yet it is 100% natural and will not react with any prescription medications. It is known to very effectively and very quickly kill viral cells. Some expert estimate that 1000s of deaths could have been prevented if Elderberry Extract were distributed during the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918. It is a powerful antiviral that works very quickly. It is very easy to take, tastes good, and is safe for children.
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  6. Use an Immunity-Boosting Combination Supplement: Instead of taking 40 different pills every day, take a combination supplement designed to boost immunity. A few of my favorites that can be easily found in health food stores include: 1) SystemWell by Nature’s Way: SystemWell helps protect and improve cellular health, digestive immunity, respiratory immunity, systemic, lymphatic and circulatory immunity. It’s a great product and works well. 2) Full Spectrum Immunity Defense: This is a heavy-hitter containing 18 of the top immunity-boosters known. It is a powerful combination of vitamins, minerals and herbs. I highly recommend it! The dosage can be increased based on need, which is nice.
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  7. Use Monolaurin: Monolaurin is potent antibiotic and antiviral. It is a simple fatty-acid that is present in breast milk and is considered to be one of the components responsible for boosting immunity in breast-fed babies. It is also present in extra virgin coconut oil and a few other vegetable oils. Monolaurin is one of my “can’t live without” supplements, mainly because it’s so darn effective! It is also perfectly safe, having no known interactions with other supplements or prescription medications. The bottle recommends taking three to six 600mg capsules daily, but many MDs who prescribe Monolaurin recommend using higher doses at the beginning of a cold.
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  8. Use Proteolytic Enzymes: Proteolytic enzymes help by reducing the inflammation that contributes to congestion and irritated nasal passages. They also help kill viruses. Most viruses have cell walls that are made of proteins. Using a proteolytic enzyme containing high amounts of Protease (which digests protein) on an empty stomach will work to destroy the cell wall of virus cells, thereby killing them. The most important part of proteolytic enzymes is to always take them on an empty stomach, at least 30 minutes before eating or two hours after eating. If you take them with food in the stomach, the enzymes will help digest the food and will not get into the blood stream to work their magic. The company Enzymedica makes what I consider the best product in the business for combating viruses: ViruStop 2x. I highly recommend it! The best of the best in terms of a mainstream proteolytic enzyme that functions as an anti-inflammatory is WobenzymWobenzym is also useful for inflammatory arthritis, bursitis, and other joint issues, and is used in Germany as part of a cancer treatment.
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  9. Cook Up a Healing Soup: I don’t want you slaving all day in the kitchen, but tossing handfuls of anti-oxidant rich veggies into the crockpot/slow cooker with lots of mineral-rich veggie broth, meat of choice (or not), and immune-boosting spices can do wonders for a cold. It’s also easy to digest, allowing your body to dedicate more energy to healing than to digestion. As you sit and sip, the vapors from the soup will help clear out your nasal passages and the warmth will soothe your throat. Herbs and spices that are known to boost immunity include: garlic, oregano, turmeric, sage, basil, ginger, cayenne, rosemary, and many others. Ginger is especially nice because it opens blood vessels, allowing the body’s own defenses to circulate more easily. See my next hint for another potential use.
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  10. Take an Anti-Virus Bath: Taking a bath is a simple way to help your body eliminate toxins and viruses. It is also wonderfully soothing, so why not take advantage of it? Here’s my favorite blend for baths: 1-inch (grated) of ginger root to increase circulation, warm you up and help you sweat out the virus; 10 drops of tea tree oil to boost immunity and help pull toxins out of your system; 2 cups of Epsom salts to increase your magnesium and to soothe aches and pains (See Why You Need More Magnesium for more info); 3-4 drops Eucalyptus oil as a decongestant; 2 cups Apple Cider Vinegar to help your body expel mucous. Add everything to the tub while the water is running, and then sink into the warmth and think positive, healing thoughts for 20 minutes. You’ll feel better immediately and will sleep like a baby! You can repeat part of this process in the morning by putting 30-40 drops of Eucalyptus oil on a washcloth and placing it on the shower floor to inhale while you take a hot shower, or by using Aura Cacia’s Eucalyptus Shower Tablets. Eucalyptus is a wonderful decongestant that is also known to be antiviral and to boost the body’s immunity. For more bath info, read: Create a Detoxification Bath Using Common Ingredients.

Ok … you obviously can’t do every single one of those. Since several of you have already asked, following is a list of what I’m doing on a daily basis to combat this cold. Please note that what’s right for me may not be right for you. Please consult a trained professional before taking any of the supplements mentioned, and please note that I have extremely high tolerance to some of these supplements and therefore take higher doses than what is typically recommended. The fact my cold is moving through incredibly rapidly and is diminishing quickly is testimony to the fact that these things truly work:

  • Nightly detox bath
  • Drinking high amounts of water, green tea and an immunity-boosting tea
  • Eating lots of soup loaded with a rainbow of veggies and lots of dark, leafy greens; completely avoiding grains, dairy and all sugars. (Eating 100% organic, non-processed foods will also reduce your body’s toxicity and boost immunity.)
  • Taking high doses of Vitamin C, Goldenseal (60 drops four times daily for five days; then 30 drops three times daily until symptoms subside), Monolaurin (900-1200 mg four times daily). During the first few days, I used Agricept (10 drops in one ounce of water) every two hours.
  • Drinking lots of probiotic-rich coconut water kefir every day
  • Using a neti pot with goldenseal tincture and colloidal silver twice daily
  • Light yoga daily
  • I broke down and got an antiviral IV from a functional medicine MD. If you have access to a doctor who offers IV therapies, I highly recommend these when you come down with a cold or flu. The IV contains vitamins, minerals, glutathione (a natural amino acid that is an antioxidant, immunity booster and detoxifier). The antiviral IVs are a great way to get rid of a viral infection quickly. I felt better within an hour and will get another one tomorrow to help protect me when I fly to LA on Friday. 

Many people are surprised to hear I am available to assist with temporary ailments and do not limit my practice to chronic conditions. If you are struggling with a cold, flu or other short-term challenge, please consider scheduling a 15-minute phone consultation. Feel free to email me or call 317.489.0909 to schedule.

Please consult a medical professional if your cold persists, if you have an extremely high fever, or if you develop a severe cough. As always, none of these statements were evaluated by the FDA and none are intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any health condition. Please check with your personal health practitioner before making any changes to your health regimen. I hope you feel better soon!

Natural Lifestyle Approaches for Relieving Pain

One of the most common problems I hear is “I ache from head to toe,” or “I have constant pain.” This is heartbreaking because chronic pain affects quality of life, may cause impaired sleep and is one of the leading causes of depression. If you have chronic pain, please work with a medical professional to determine and address the cause of your pain instead of merely treating the symptoms. In this post, I will discuss lifestyle changes and therapies that are proven to reduce and eliminate pain. I’ll discuss my favorite supplements for pain in my next post. 

I’ve mentioned much of what I discuss in this post in other posts. Instead of mentioning the title of every post that is pertinent to this post, I’ve merely provided a link including certain words. Click the link to view the post.

Most pain is caused by inflammation, so the most common natural and pharmaceutical pain relievers focus on reducing or preventing inflammation while others work to prevent the production of chemicals in the body that cause inflammation. The most important phase of eliminating pain is to IDENTIFY THE CAUSE. This is a step that many mainstream practitioners kind of skip, opting instead to prescribe pain relievers that mask the symptom but don’t address the cause of the pain.

Lifestyle Techniques for Reducing Pain 

The following lifestyle habits and techniques can be used to reduce pain:

  • The Old Stand-Bys: We all know we should get enough sleep, drink plenty of water and eat healthy food, but each of these lifestyle habits can have a profound effect on pain. I recommend getting at least seven hours of sleep each night, although many people with chronic pain feel better if they get eight to ten hours. I also advise drinking at least half your body weight in ounces of purified water on a daily basis. Dehydration will increase pain, so staying hydrated can have a direct impact on pain levels. Eating whole foods and avoiding processed foods will decrease the toxic load on your body. Many people find their pain levels dramatically decrease when they switch to a predominantly organic, whole food eating style. It is also very effective to follow an eating style that includes anti-inflammatory foods and avoids inflammatory foods.
  • Stay Engaged: Many people who suffer from chronic pain often do not have the energy or the emotional desire to engage in social activities. Staying involved can not only help decrease  depression associated with your pain, but can also help diminish the pain. The simple act of having fun can increase the brain’s production of serotonin, a chemical that is directly related to pain relief. If necessary, force yourself to get out of the house and engage in a fun activity at least once a month. Once you begin having fun occasionally, it will become very obvious how much better you feel when you do. If it’s easier, invite people over to your house instead of going out … and don’t even think about how your house looks or how clean it is … I promise your friends don’t care and won’t notice.
  • Massage: Getting a massage is a wonderful way to relax muscles, eliminate toxins and relax. Although it is a treatment that many consider “pampering,” it does have a proven physiological effect that helps diminish pain levels. Find a licensed massage therapist who is proficient in therapeutic massage. Most people benefit most from two to three sessions per week, but even a single session can provide relief.
  • Identify Food Sensitivities: One of the most common but least discussed symptoms of food allergies and sensitivities is joint and muscle pain. If you have a food sensitivity and eat the offending food, your body creates antibodies that wind up circulating in the blood stream. These antibodies are highly inflammatory and may cause muscular pain and joint pain. I personally know that if I eat dairy, my knees hurt like crazy. I’ve helped many patients and clients identify food allergies who found their chronic pain disappeared once they stopped eating foods they were allergic to. Unfortunately, most mainstream doctors don’t associate muscular pain (or fibromyalgia) with food sensitivities.
  • Visualization/Meditation/Prayer: The simple act of taking time each day to “decompress” and relax can be very helpful in controlling pain. Many people also find that visualizing themselves leading a pain-free life and engaging in activities that pain prevents them from enjoying is very helpful. For those who have a spiritual foundation, prayer that focuses on healing and grace is known to help.
  • Very Gentle Yoga, Tai Chi, or Water Exercise: The key words for these helpful forms of exercise are “very gentle.” Yoga and Tai Chi are forms of exercise that help maintain flexibility, provide relaxation, and help increase the release of mood-lifting serotonin in the brain. (Recent studies have found that people with fibromyalgia and other forms of chronic pain also have low serotonin levels.) Many yoga centers offer classes that are specifically designed for people with chronic pain. Finding Tai Chi classes may be more difficult, but there are many videos on YouTube that provide instruction. I am always happy to see more fitness centers offering water-based exercise classes for folks with chronic pain. Exercising in a swimming pool can be very helpful. It is very low impact and the buoyancy of the water often makes movement easier for those with chronic pain. The most important factor in any exercise technique is to modify the movements to fit your personal abilities. Exercise should not hurt. Choose movements that come easily and don’t try to force yourself to accomplish movements you cannot. The following resources may be helpful: – Body Wisdom Media: Tai Chi for Beginners
     – Yoga for Pain Relief: Simple Practices to Heal Chronic Pain
     – Yoga for Fibromyalgia (A book on gentle, chair-based yoga)
          
  • Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT): EFT was discovered by a psychologist who had an interest in acupuncture and acupressure. He discovered that the body and the mind could be positively affected by this technique which combines gentle tapping on acupressure points with the use of affirmations. I use it in my practice and have had people describe it as “magical.” It is wonderfully effective for negative emotional states, food cravings, addictions, etc., but is also very effective for relieving pain. The technique is so simple that it is easily learned by children. I know several parents who taught EFT to their children who suffer from frequent headaches, nightmares, etc. The beauty of EFT is that it can be effective for emotional and physical issues. It is very useful for pain. To learn more about EFT and download free manuals to learn the technique, I recommend visiting any of the following sites: – Free EFT Manual
     – Free Manual from EFTfree

     – Basic Steps to Emotional Freedom

Alternative Therapies to Reduce Pain

 The following alternative therapies are known to be very effective for reducing and eliminating pain:

  • Acupuncture: Acupuncture is an ancient art, but it  is gaining new popularity among mainstream medical practitioners because it is so effective. It is also gaining new popularity because multiple studies have proven that it works. Many people with chronic pain report immediate results from a single acupuncture treatment and experience a prolonged decrease in or elimination of pain after receiving multiple treatments. The needles used are similar in size to a human hair, so most people experience zero on the insertion of the needles. Acupuncture can be used to decrease inflammation and improve nerve flow, each of which may be helpful in decreasing and preventing pain.
  • Hypnosis: Hypnosis has gotten a bad rap due to its popularity as a stage show. What you’ve seen on Vegas stages has nothing in common with a hypnosis session delivered by a certified practitioner. During a hypnosis treatment, you are fully aware of everything that happens and cannot be “programmed” to do something you don’t want to. (Such as walking around quacking like a duck.) Certified hypnotists work to help the right side of your brain communicate more clearly with the left side. They also help you access and control subconscious thought patterns. Hypnosis can be used to help diminish someone’s perception of pain. It is a good option for someone experiencing pain due to a physical cause that cannot be controlled, but please be aware it will not address the physical cause of the pain. Hypnosis can also help eliminate stress and depression related to pain.

There are many other lifestyle habits and alternative treatments that are known to help relieve pain, but I’ve covered the ones I consider the most effective. What techniques do you use?

Top Seven Natural Pain Relievers

This post is a follow-up to my post on Natural Lifestyle Approaches for Relieving Pain. Everyone has times when they experience pain. Sometimes the pain is short-lived, sometimes it becomes chronic. My encouragement for anyone with chronic pain is to use the tips shared in the post I mentioned above along with the pain relievers shared in this post while working with a practitioner to determine and address the cause of the pain.

As always, none of the statements made in this post or any others on this site were evaluated by the FDA and none are intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any health condition. Please consult with your health practitioner before starting to take any supplement or before making major changes to lifestyle or diet. Please also note that pregnant women should never take any supplements unless recommended by a trained professional. Please always follow doses recommended on the bottle and do not take any supplement in a dosage higher than that recommended.

Following are my favorite choices for natural pain relievers. Some of these can be very easily found in any drugstore, while others may require a visit to a health food store. I’ve provided links to an example of each product so that you’ll know what to look for in stores. (I often find that Amazon has the lowest prices on supplements, including ones that can only be found in doctor offices.) Please work with a practitioner to determine which of these is the best option for you. I will provide examples of situations appropriate for each supplement, but each person is wonderfully unique and needs to find the supplement or combination of supplements that is best suited to their physiology, lifestyle and habits.

Magnesium

Magnesium is a muscle relaxer that is known to provide fast relief to many types of pain, including simple muscular pain, headache pain (stress headaches, especially), etc. This would be my first line of defense against many types of minor pain, especially since it is readily available, works fairly quickly, and because 80% of the US population is deficient in Magnesium. I recommend taking 200-400mg at the first sign of discomfort. Although higher doses can be taken, be aware that higher doses may cause diarrhea, especially if other supplements you take contain magnesium. When purchasing a magnesium supplement, please do not purchase one whose primary ingredient is magnesium oxide, as that form of magnesium cannot fully be absorbed by the human body. For more information on magnesium, including information about choosing an effective magnesium supplement, please read my post: Why You Need More Magnesium and How to Get It.

Arnica

Arnica is a homeopathic remedy or topical cream/gel/lotion that has been used for centuries to relieve inflammation. It is such a powerful anti-inflammatory that many mainstream surgeons now recommend their patients use homeopathic arnica orally before and after surgery. The nice thing about homeopathics is that they typically have no interaction with other medications or supplements. When using the oral form of arnica, tiny pellets are placed under the tongue 3-5 times per day at least 10 minutes before or after eating. (Homeopathics should also not be used within an hour of brushing your teeth, as mint can block their receptors.) Topically, arnica cream or gel can be amazingly helpful for muscle aches and injuries and bruises, but should not be used on open wounds. My favorites include Hyland’s Arnica Montana pellets or Boiron’s combination packet of Arnica Gel & Pellets. Please note that the Arnica Montana herb is highly toxic, but that it is perfectly safe to use in homeopathic form because the quantities used are so tiny. The tiny amounts are enough to stimulate healing but are not enough to cause problems.

Proteolytic Enzymes

Proteolytic enzymes are one of my favorite healers. They are powerful anti-inflammatories which also have the ability to help the body eliminate extra tissue growth and any undigested food molecules that wind up in the tissues due to leaky gut or other digestive disorder. Proteolytic enzymes are used in Germany to battle cancer along with other natural therapies, but this therapy is not yet recognized in the US. (Please don’t use this therapy for cancer treatment without the express consent of your medical professional.) I recently spoke with an osteopathic surgeon from an osteopathic center in Indianapolis that is known world-wide for its success in treating osteopathic issues. This MD shared that he is using proteolytic enzymes instead of cortisone injections to treat his own knee pain due to the damage caused by cortisone injections, but that he cannot legally recommend proteolytic enzymes to his patients. (That’s another issue for another blog post.) The bottom line is that proteolytic enzymes bring incredible relief to many because they are known to reduce inflammation and to help the body repair damaged tissues. They can also be helpful in reducing the size of some forms of fibroid tumors. I have a friend who suffered from debilitating bursitis pain for years and who tried every remedy – mainstream and alternative – under the sun, but who found relief in less than two days after trying proteolytic enzymes. The trick to using proteolytic enzymes is that they MUST be taken on an empty stomach. If they are taken while food is in the stomach, the enzymes will digest the food and will never reach the bloodstream. This means they must be taken at least half an hour before eating or at least two hours after eating. The nice thing is that they are effective when taken once per day, so splitting the dosage is not necessary. In my opinion, Wobenzyme is the best on the market. There are many others available, but Wobenzyme contains professional grade enzymes in the highest quantity and includes the highest combination of enzymes. I typically recommend that people start with three tablets per day. If three tablets don’t work to bring complete relief, I then recommend they take six per day, gradually working up to as many as 12 if needed.

Curcumin

Curcumin is the active ingredient and most easily absorbed form of Turmeric, a spice that is commonly included in curry blends. Curcumin is a powerful anti-inflammatory but also has other health benefits. It is known to be a powerful liver cleanser and is also often used as a remedy for MRSA. (Again, please consult a professional if you have MRSA, as it can be deadly.) Because Curcumin is a spice, it can typically be used in conjunction with prescription medications, but should not be used by anyone taking Coumadin or Warfarin and should not be used in conjunction with large doses of aspirin or NSAID pain relievers. Curcumin has been shown to be a powerful anti-oxidant and to increase cellular levels of glutathione, a naturally produced anti-oxidant. In other countries, curcumin is used to treat tumors, but please see my comment above related to using it in conjunction with cancer therapies. People with Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Chron’s disease often find curcumin to be beneficial. Curcumin is also showing promise as a potential treatment for Alzheimer disease, although further studies are needed. I recommend using 400-600mg of curcumin one to three times daily for best results. Please note that taking curcumin in excessively high doses has sometimes been shown to cause liver damage. As with all things, moderation and following the dosage recommendations on the bottle is best. My favorite brands of curcumin include: Jarrow Curcumin 95 and Nature’s Bounty Curcumin.

MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane)

Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is a natural form of sulfur that is known to be a powerful anti-inflammatory and which the body uses to repair connective tissues in joints. It is also a powerful cellular detoxifier which many people use when they’re doing a detoxification regimen. (On a side note, please note that people with sulfa allergies can take MSM without worry. The chemical form of sulfur used in sulfa drugs is very different and bears no resemblance to the chemical form of sulfur in MSM.) MSM is especially helpful for those battling arthritis or anyone suffering from tendon damage or muscular damage. I personally found MSM to be a lifesaver when I damaged tendons after I wrecked my motorcycle. MSM helped my body repair damage that doctors said couldn’t be repaired. I’m very thankful for that. I recommend starting with a dosage of 3000mg per day. Some people find they require higher doses. If you need a higher dose, work up very gradually to avoid a strong detoxification side effect and do not exceed 9000mg/day. As with any supplement, find the lowest dose that’s effective for you and don’t take more than is needed. My favorite OTC brands of MSM include: Doctor’s Best OptiMSM and Nature’s Way MSM. I find that taking MSM as a powder dissolved in water or in capsule form is best. MSM is also effective used in a cream applied topically.

Omega 3

Fish Oil, or an Omega 3 supplement, is a well-known anti-inflammatory with multiple health benefits. Anyone who does not eat fish at least three times per week probably needs an Omega 3 supplement. We are inundated with Omega 6 oils – which are known to be inflammatory – in our diet, so I tend to recommend people supplement with Omega 3s. Omega 3s can be obtained from seeds, nuts, fish and algae. If you wish to take an Omega 3 supplement, I recommend: Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega or Carlson Labs Very Finest Fish Oil. Fish oil supplements are one supplement I strongly advise against purchasing in a drug store, as purity is very important. You don’t want to take one containing high mercury levels or which contains high levels of radiation. It’s worth it to spend a little bit of extra money on this particular supplement.

White Willow Bark

White Willow Bark is what aspirin was made out of in its earliest days. White Willow Bark is very high in salicylic acid, the pain reliever in aspirin. White Willow Bark is my personal go-to herb for occasional headaches and minor muscle aches that were not relieved by a glass or water or magnesium. Many women find it very helpful for menstrual cramps. It is also effective for relieving low-grade fevers, although I feel fevers below 102 degrees should not be treated, as they are the body’s defense against illness. However, White Willow Bark should not be used by anyone taking a prescription blood thinner (Coumadin, Warfarin), nor should it be given to children with a fever due to the danger of Reye’s Syndrome. Beyond that, it has few prescription drug interactions. Follow the dosage recommended on the bottle. Typically, the dosage can be repeated 3-4 times daily. Some people experience a bit of stomach upset with White Willow Bark. If you do, I recommend taking it with food, but that is not necessary if you don’t experience stomach upset when taking it. My favorites include: Nature’s Answer White Willow Extract (liquid) and Nature’s Way White Willow Bark Capsules.

What are your favorite all-natural pain relief supplements? Please share!

The Smart Way to Deal with Zits

Zits and acne used to be a malady of the teenage years. Unfortunately, more and more adults — male and female — now find themselves dealing with pimples on a daily basis. The truth is that the average age of patients who see dermatologists for acne ranges from 20-26 years, and the anti-zit business brings in over one billion dollars per year. Acne rates are much higher now than they were 20 years ago. There are specific reasons for the increase and there are very simple solutions. 

The first step in addressing zits is to figure out the cause. Zits don’t “just happen.” There is always a reason. The most common causes of acne include:

  • Hormonal imbalances: Most zits in the teenage years are caused by an excess of either testosterone or estrogen. The belief used to be that acne was only caused by excess testosterone, but more recent studies proved an excess of either hormone can cause acne. The fact our food system is now overloaded with foods containing growth hormones and other synthetic hormones has a lot to do with this, as does the excessive use of highly-estrogenic soy that is included in almost all processed foods. I’m often amazed that people who eliminate soy from their diet often report that their skin becomes clear as a result.
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    Women often get zits on their chin as a normal part of PMS. These zits are definitely caused by hormonal changes. Women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome often frequently experience acne as a result of the hormone imbalances it creates. If you have consistent acne, it is wise to get a saliva hormone test to check the levels of your reproductive hormones and identify any imbalances. Frequent zits often disappear once hormonal imbalances are corrected.
  • Food allergies and sensitivities: I know personally that eating a food that I’m allergic to will cause a fairly large zit (or zits) to form within three days. The skin is a huge detoxification organ, so when we expose ourselves to foods our body considers toxic, the body may use the skin to eliminate some of those toxins. I know many people with food allergies who report their only symptom is that they get zits. They have little or no digestive disturbance, but know they’ve been exposed to an allergen when they develop a zit. Even a mild sensitivity to a food will increase inflammation in the body and decrease immunity, making it more difficult for the body to naturally resist the factors that cause a pimple to form.On a related side note, there is a lot of conflicting evidence both pro and con about dairy products causing acne. The American Academy of Dermatology has now done three studies that conclusively proved there IS a link between acne and dairy. My clinical experience is that 9 out of 10 people’s acne greatly diminishes or disappears when they eliminate dairy. My own daughter had horrible acne and refused to believe this point for years. When she finally tried eliminating dairy, her skin completely, totally cleared within a week and a half. She doesn’t have a dairy allergy that we’re aware of, but her skin made it very clear that dairy is not a good option for her. Why does dairy contribute to acne? Mainly because it is so hard to digest. Let’s face it, we’re not cows, so our bodies have a very difficult time digesting and absorbing milk intended to be drunk by baby cows. The result is that the body tries to eliminate the toxins in the milk through the skin. Unfortunately, mainstream milk and dairy products are loaded with growth hormones that negatively impact our own hormone balance, causing a the skin to produce excess acne-causing sebum. Dairy is also known to be one of the most inflammatory foods in our diet. Any food that increases inflammation will only worsen acne symptoms.
  • Comedogenic facial products (even some used to combat acne): Comedogenic is used to refer to products that are irritating and which block the skin’s pores, thereby causing acne. Mineral oil is one of the worst oils possible for the skin, yet it is used frequently because it’s cheap. (Mineral oil is a petroleum byproduct that is discarded during the production of fuel oils. Not a good choice to put on your skin, anyway.) Many of the most commonly used skincare ingredients are comedogenic, and many anti-acne products contain quite a few of these ingredients. Your best option is to use products from companies such as Aubrey Organics, Pangea Organics, Burt’s Bees and other chemical-free companies.
  • Prescription medications: A well-known side effect of steroids (both prescription and black market) is acne. Other prescription medications that may cause acne include anti-convulsant medications (such as Lithium), prescription iodides and bromides. (Supplemental iodine is not related to prescription iodides and is not known to cause acne.)
  • Reduced liver function: It is a well known fact that many skin problems originate in the liver. The primary function of the liver is to eliminate toxins. If its function is reduced, the body resorts to eliminating toxins through the skin. My favorite herb for improving liver function and reducing skin issues is Burdock Root. Burdock Root is known to cleanse the liver and to target the skin to assist with healing. Although Burdock Root works well, other supplements known to improve liver function often result in clearer skin. Milk Thistle is another one of my favorites.
  • Over-washing of the skin: Excess use of soaps and drying anti-acne cleansers can actually make acne worse by overdrying the skin and causing it to produce more and more sebum. (Most pimples are caused when the skin produces excess sebum. Sebum is intended to protect the skin, but it can harbor bacteria and can cause pimples when the skin produces more than is needed.)

In addition to the tips shared above, here are my top ways to eliminate and prevent zits:

  • Eat a healthy diet: (You knew that was coming.) Good skin happens from the inside out. Clear, healthy skin requires a healthy diet. Period. Eating a healthy diet loaded with vegetables and fruits, whole foods, and void of excess sugars, processed foods and refined grains boosts the immunity and has a very anti-inflammatory effect on tissues. If your immune system is working at 100%, your body will often be able to very naturally eliminate the bacteria that cause pimples and acne. Obviously, a healthy diet does not include hydrogenated oils, processed foods, or excessive carbohydrates and fats. As I stated above, many people find their acne disappears once they eliminate dairy from their diet. One of my favorite books on naturally eliminating acne is: The Acne Cure. It is worth reading if you suffer from acne!
  • Don’t squeeze: We’ve all done it … squeezed a zit because we believe it will go away faster if we do. That is, sadly, a myth. The problem with squeezing a zit is that it has the potential to push the bacteria deeper into the skin. The other problem squeezing creates is that it creates an open sore that is wide open to bacteria in the air and environment. Squeezing may also cause scarring, and nobody wants that. Your best bet is to use the topical remedies I mention below and to be very, very patient.
  • Use topical antibacterials: One of my favorite remedies to speed the healing of a pimple is Tea Tree Essential Oil. Tea Tree oil is one of the most antibacterial chemicals known, but it has the added benefit of being known to stimulate the skin to heal itself. It works well. I also find that a drop of CellFood morning and evening has an amazing effect. CellFood is a powerful oxygenator that can be used internally and externally. I use it straight when I have a zit, but I recommend blending one drop of CellFood with one drop of purified water. It is a powerful antibacterial that also stimulates the skin to heal itself.
  • Use Goldenseal and probiotics internally: Goldenseal is a natural herb with powerful antibacterial properties. I use it to help pimples go away faster. (Do not use more than 10 days in a row.) For more information on how amazing Goldenseal is, please read my blog post, The Wonders of Goldenseal. Using oral probiotics will also boost the body’s own immunity and help the body heal pimples faster.

How do you deal with zits? Please share your favorite remedies!

Dark Circles Under the Eyes: Causes and Solutions

Many people consider dark circles under the eyes to merely be a cosmetic problem that is easily concealed using makeup. The truth is that most cosmetic issues have a physiological cause. Dark circles are no different. There are many different potential causes for dark circles. Some are easy to address and correct; others take a longer effort. Dark circles can also be hereditary to some extent.If you have extremely dark circles under your eyes consistently, please see your practitioner. The information that follows will help you know which blood tests to request Dark Circles Under the Eyeand which body systems to discuss with your practitioner. Please note that the following information does not apply to anyone receiving chemotherapy or other extreme drug therapies, as these therapies themselves may cause dark circles under the eyes. As always, this information is shared for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or health condition.
Potential Causes of Dark Circles Under the Eyes
  • Lack of Sleep: Women who complain about dark circles often say they only sleep 4-5 hours per night. Deep sleep allows your skin to heal. Lack of sleep may interrupt this healing and cause skin to sag. Lack of sleep also makes us more pale, which makes the blood vessels under the skin more visible and makes the skin under the eyes look purple.
  • Anemia: An iron deficiency (aka: anemia) can definitely contribute to dark circles under the eyes. The truth is that many nutritional deficiencies can cause dark circles under the eyes. Eating a healthy diet is key to preventing and eliminating dark circles. for tips on how to improve absorption, please read my blog post, The Top Six Ways to Maximize Digestion.
  • Kidney Issues: Chinese medicine attributes dark circles under the eyes to any deficiency or challenge in kidney function. Although dark circles under the eyes can’t be used to diagnose kidney issues, I can say that dark circles under the eyes often accompany kidney issues.
     
    I can share a personal story related to this … when I started using electrodermal screening (EDS) in my practice, my husband volunteered to be a test subject. His kidneys tested poorly, so I recommended a kidney support supplement. Within a few months, the dark circles under his eyes began to disappear to the point that people commented on it. The transformation was amazing. The supplement I recommended and which tested very positively for him on the EDS unit was Premier Research Lab’s Kidney Complex. (Click the link to view it.) It’s one of my favorite combinations for kidney support.
  • Food Allergies & Other Allergies: More than one mom has seen that food allergies cause dark circles under the eyes. This effect is known as “allergy shiners” in food allergy circles. Seasonal and environmental allergies can also cause dark circles under the eyes. The basic effect is that the allergy causes congestion which creates increased blood flow to the nose. Because the skin under the eyes is somewhat thin, the increased blood flow creates the purple tint. The congestion caused by allergies can also cause enlarged blood vessels around the eyes and cause the dark tint. Many people with allergies sleep poorly and have adrenal fatigue, both of which can also contribute to dark circles under the eyes.
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  • Adrenal Fatigue: Dark circles under the eyes are a primary indicator of adrenal fatigue. The adrenal glands are tiny glands located on top of the kidneys  that produce a multitude of hormones. The adrenals are our “flight or fight” glands. Because we live under a world that creates constant excess stress, many of us have adrenal glands that have become fatigued. Dark circles under the eyes, fatigue, poor sleep, weight gain and many other symptoms may be indicators of adrenal fatigue. I intend to write much more about this syndrome in future posts. I apologize I can’t adequately address it in a single paragraph.
If you have dark circle under the eyes, try to get more rest, drink more water, eat a healthier diet, and know you’re not alone. Work with someone to identify the cause of your dark circles, and then take measures to reduce them.

Naturally Addressing and Eliminating Allergies

One of the most common complaints I hear right now is that everyone is miserable with allergies. I used to suffer with allergies and KNOW how awful it is to feel that exhaustion, congestion and frustration. The problem with allergies is that the increased mucous and inflammation in the nasal cavities and lungs are true breeding grounds for bacteria and viruses. The constant battle against the allergens also depletes the immune system, further weakening an already weak body. Many people with nasal allergies develop secondary viral or bacterial infections that knock them down even further.

In addition to daily use of a Neti Pot, keeping windows closed, or even wearing a mask while outdoors, there are natural products that can eliminate symptoms and even reverse the allergy. A list of natural remedies follows:

Treat the Symptoms of Allergies

My favorite tool for combating allergies quickly and efficiently is to use a natural combination of Quercetin, Stinging Nettles (they don’t sting, I promise), Bromelain and N-Acetyl Cysteine.These natural ingredients not only reduce and eliminate the congestion and inflammation that makes us miserable, but also STOP the allergic reaction. How? These ingredients strengthen cell walls and prevent the release of histamines from what are called Mast Cells. The mast cells are responsible for the allergic misery many people know so well. Stopping the release of histamines stops the allergic reaction and prevents the symptoms that make us miserable. My favorite combination of these ingredients is called D-Hist. D-Hist not only works amazingly well, it works FAST, often within 30 minutes. Follow the instructions on the bottle and use a loading dose before backing down to a maintenance dose. D-Hist is also available in a children’s version: D-Hist Jr. (http://amzn.to/d-histjr). You can order D-Hist online at http://amzn.to/d-hist or can find it in most healthfood stores. 

Combat the Auto-Immune Reaction to Allergies

There is a wide variety of homeopathic remedies formulated for specific allergies. These remedies come in versions that specifically target allergies to tree pollen, hayfever, flowers, molds, etc. Some are regional to target specific plants/antigens in your region. Homeopathy works by using an extremely tiny amount of all-natural products to stimulate the body to naturally heal itself or reverse a condition. Homeopathics are known to effectively lower the body’s reaction to allergens and thereby reduce and eliminate the symptoms. For people with extremely severe allergies, homeopathics combined with D-Hist are often a powerful combination to bring fast relief. Please contact a trained practitioner before selecting a homeopathic remedy. Many different factors need to be considered in selecting the correct remedy. In my practice, I use systematic EDS testing to ensure the correct remedy is used.

Identify the Food Connection

I used to have horrific seasonal allergies, often spending months on antibiotics because of the chronic infection that resulted from the attack on my nasal passages. My doctors insisted there was not a food connection, but I insisted there was. I received  food allergy testing which revealed multiple food sensitivities. Within two months of eliminating all the foods I was allergic to (and there were many), my nasal allergies completely disappeared. The bottom line is that my nasal problems weren’t caused by seasonal allergens. My nasal passages were already inflamed from my food allergies and seasonal pollens and molds merely made it worse. Today, seasons come and go my nasal passages show no change … until I slip and eat something I shouldn’t. In working with client, I find many of them experience the same “miraculous” disappearance of allergies once food allergens were eliminated. One dear lady I work with had a cough disappear that she had struggled with for over 20 years. She eliminated wheat and within a few days the cough that had nagged her and caused constant problems disappeared. Completely.

Food allergies often cause very mild symptoms that most people don’t associate with a food sensitivity. Nasal congestion is just one of many possible reactions. Food allergies can be identified by a simple blood test that tests for over 375 different allergens, or can be identified by EDS testing or by an elimination diet that eliminates the most common allergenic foods and then gradually adds them back while watching for symptoms. Even if you don’t have any true food sensitivities, many people find their allergy symptoms diminish if they eliminate dairy. If your allergies are horrible, try eliminating all dairy and wheat products from your diet for two weeks. If you do this, let me know what changes you see.

Allergies make us miserable, but they CAN be conquered! 

If you would like to begin identifying your sensitivities or are interested in receiving more information on seasonal allergies, please feel free to contact my office at 317.489.0909. Private consultations are available in person, over the phone or via Skype.

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The Wonders of Goldenseal

Goldenseal Plant and Flowers

Many people have heard of the herb Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) but have little idea of the multitude of uses this versatile herb has. Goldenseal has been used throughout history as a medicinal herb, partly because of its amazing ability to stimulate the body’s own immunity. The bushy plant typically grows wild in rich soils. and has beautiful bright yellow flowers that produce a gorgeous red oil when infused. Goldenseal is now an endangered species due to excessive wild harvesting. It should therefore only be purchased from companies who grow it and who do not wildcraft it.

Please note that this information is shared for informational purposes only. None of these statements were reviewed by the FDA and none are intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any health condition. Please check with your MD before taking any supplement.

Goldenseal’s popularity is based on the following properties herbalists believe it has:

Antibacterial and Antiviral

Goldenseal has been shown to have powerful antibacterial properties. Because it targets the mucous membranes, it is commonly used to address issues such as upper respiratory infections, dental infections, conjunctivitis, sinusitis, allergies, urinary tract infections, and bacterial diarrhea. It has even been shown to successfully combat the bacteria H Pylori which is thought to cause some forms of bacterial ulcers. Goldenseal is often described as having a “miraculous” effect on colds or flus that have lasted longer than they should. I can attest to Goldenseal’s effectiveness as an antibiotic, having recently used it to avoid needing a prescription antibiotic for an abscessed tooth and a root canal.

Goldenseal’s antibacterial properties make it wonderful to use topically on small wounds and cuts. It is known to be especially useful in preventing or addressing skin infection. Another benefit of Goldenseal is that it is a powerful styptic and can be used to stop bleeding in minor wounds. I again can personally verify its effectiveness on wounds. I used Goldenseal in ample amounts after wrecking my motorcycle two years ago, and had incredibly rapid healing with no infection. I also used it recently when I deeply gashed my finger but didn’t have a way to get to a mainstream medical facility for stitches. I poured Goldenseal powder (which I always keep on hand) over the cut and bound it tightly. The bleeding stopped in less than a minute. (I had been applying strong pressure to the wound for over 45 minutes with no luck.) The wound healed cleanly within a week without stitches, with no infection and with very minimal scarring. I was amazed at how little scarring occurred, as I tend to scar deeply and very easily.

Goldenseal is also known to have powerful antiviral effects which make it popular used internally against colds and flus. It is also commonly used to help with cold sores and herpes lesions when made into a tea and used as a gargle or topical wash. Goldenseal has the added benefit of being known for boosting the body’s own immunity, which makes it a great help in colds and flus.

Anti-fungal

 

Goldenseal is known to be a powerful ally against Candida overgrowth and other forms of fungal infection. Whether used internally or topically, Goldenseal is reported to curtail fungal growth very quickly. The trick with using Goldenseal for Candida is to keep the Candida confused so that it cannot adapt to the antiviral properties of Goldenseal. I use Goldenseal for two weeks and then use a different antifungal supplement for two weeks on a rotation basis.

Digestive Aid

Goldenseal has a long history of use as a digestive aid and a liver supporter. It is thought to stimulate the production of bile, which may make it helpful in digesting fats and as a general digestive aid. The fact it stimulates bile production makes it a popular choice for use in addressing potential liver and gallbladder issues. Goldenseal also has a strong reputation as a bitter herb that stimulates digestion and appetite.

Anti-diabetic

Many herbalists recommend Goldenseal to people with diabetes because of its reputation of helping lower blood sugars and the belief that it has a stimulating effect on the beta cells of the pancreas. Goldenseal is a popular addition to many herbal products designed to help lower blood glucose levels, increase insulin sensitivity and support the pancreas. I find that my blood glucose levels stay much lower when I use Goldenseal on a regular basis. It is most effective when used in combination with other herbs that support normal blood sugar levels.

Astringent

Goldenseal has a very astringent effect when used topically, which makes it an excellent choice for topical use on hemorrhoids. It is also known to help alleviate inflammation in hemorrhoids and to have a soothing effect. Some people find that using it as a wash for acne is also very helpful. I find that using an infused oil of Goldenseal in my baths adds a wonderfully soothing touch and makes me feel very pampered.

Preparations
Goldenseal is commonly sold as (listed in order of my opinion of the highest potential strength to lowest):

1.  Tinctures containing an alcohol-based extract of Goldenseal root. Herb Pharm makes one of my favorites: http://amzn.to/Qsmm80

2a. Capsules containing an extract of Goldenseal root.  

2b. Capsules containing powdered, dried Goldenseal root. There are many on the market. I have come to rely on Nature’s Market as an over-the-counter brand providing reliable, high-quality herbs: http://amzn.to/QIdOLO

3.  Teas containing dried Goldenseal root. Alvita carries a wide range of herbal tea bags: http://amzn.to/UFRKQb

When determining what form of Goldenseal to use, select the form you take the most consistently . For example, if you do not like the strong taste of a Goldenseal tincture (which does have a very strong flavor) and may not take it as frequently as needed because of the taste, then using a capsule form may be best. If you find swallowing capsules to be difficult, then a liquid tincture might be best. The powdered extract, which contains only the active chemical in Goldenseal, may or may not be more potent than the straight herb, depending on how many milligrams are delivered per serving. The author’s preference is to use the root in its entirety to ensure receiving the full potential of the herb’s beneficial qualities. There is some evidence that suggests that some of the chemicals in Goldenseal are not soluble in water but are readily soluble in alcohol.

Dosage
There are many different opinions about the ideal dosage of Goldenseal. Please note that the dosages that follow are intended for adults only. Please consult a qualified practitioner before giving Goldenseal to children. The general recommendations for adults include taking 400-2000 mg of the powdered root three times per day. Recommended dosage of an alcohol based tincture is 90-210 drops per day in divided doses. Typical dosage for a powdered extract is 30-120 mg three times per day. As with any herb, discontinue use if any unusual symptoms or reactions occur after starting to take Goldenseal.
In my experience, a low dose (500 mg, three times per day) of powdered root is effective for Candida overgrowth, while higher doses (1000-2000 mg, three to five times per day) are effective for bacterial infections. I used 6000 mg/day when battling my abscessed tooth and during my root canal. It worked like a charm!
Considerations
As with any herb, there are some things that should be considered when taking Goldenseal. Although these considerations are important, please note that Goldenseal is considered a very safe herb to use. I recommend Goldenseal without hesitation when appropriate.

1. Goldenseal should never be used by pregnant women or given to children under age two unless under the direction of a qualified practitioner.

2. People using the prescription medications Warfarin (Coumadin), protease inhibitors or cardiac glycosides should not use Goldenseal due to a potential interaction with these prescription medication.

3. Goldenseal can sometimes cause an imbalance in the bacterial balance of the digestive tract. It is therefore recommended to take a probiotic (acidophilus or other probiotic) when taking it long-term. If using Goldenseal on a short-term basis, most people take it for a period of 10-14 days, then take a break of one to two weeks, then resume taking it if needed.

4. People taking prescription antibiotics should refrain from taking Goldenseal within two hours of taking the prescription medication.

5. Some people with pre-existing hypertension have noticed higher blood pressures when taking Goldenseal for a prolonged period of time. Although this side effect is rare, it is wise to check blood pressures frequently if taking Goldenseal for more than two weeks.

6. Goldenseal may lose its effect if taken for a long period of time. For that reason, I typically recommend a “two weeks on, two weeks off” regimen when Goldenseal is needed for use over an extended period of time.

7. Diabetics who use Goldenseal should check blood glucose levels more frequently.

This explains why Goldenseal is one of my most favorite herbs!!!


[i] Mahady GB, Pendland SL, Stoia A, et al. In vitro susceptibility of Helicobacter pylori to isoquinoline alkaloids from Sanguinaria canadensis and Hydrastis canadensis. Phytother Res. 2003;17(3):217-21.
[ii] Jellin J.M., Gregory P.J., Batz F. and Hitchens K. (2004): Pharmacist’s Letter/ Prescriber’s Letter Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. Stockton, CA, Therapeutic Research Faculty. http://www.naturaldatabase.com/member_home.asp?ph_img=memberhome.gif&ex=0&ex=0

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