Category Archives: magnesium

Whole Food Magnesium!

I was recently invited to test some of Garden of Life’s new products, including their whole food magnesium. Please note that I received several samples of this product for free, but was not compelled or asked to share a positive review, nor was I paid for this review. Those of you who know me can rest assured I will always be brutally honest in my reviews. Please also note that some, although not all, of the links in this article are affiliate links. If you purchase product after clicking these links, I receive a very small amount of compensation (less than 5%) of the purchase price. I never share links to products I do not believe in, nor do I ever share links to products I have not used and tested. The small amount of money I receive from affiliate sales are used to pay for the upkeep of this website.

The first product I reviewed was the Relax and Restore whole food golrelaxmagnesium. Did you catch that? This is a WHOLE FOOD magnesium, meaning it is made from food.

Why is that important? Because your body recognizes the molecular structure of supplements that are sourced from food and therefore digests and absorbs them much better than synthetic versions of the supplement. There are less than five other whole food magnesium supplements currently on the market, each of which provides an extremely small serving of magnesium, so this new product is a very big deal.

To learn more about magnesium and its importance for health, please read Why You Need More Magnesium.

Following is my review of Relax and Restore’s whole food magnesium features. I was brutally honest. I loved the product, but there are a few things I wish were a smidge different.

The Basics

The Garden of Life Relax and Restore Whole Food Magnesium is an effervescent powder. It is organic, non-GMO certified, and vegan. There are very few (less than three) organic magnesiums on the market, and none of those provide a whole food magnesium.

Relax and Restore also provides 1 billion active cultures of probiotics (Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus bulgaricus, and Lactobacillus acidophilus) to help improve digestion. One billion active cultures isn’t enough to be a therapeutic dose of probiotics for most people, but it’s enough to improve the digestion and absorption of the product. For some people, it may be enough to boost immunity and improve regularity.

The magnesium in this product is derived primarily from pea protein. The main source of magnesium is a chelate, meaning the magnesium molecule has chains of amino acids (proteins) attached to it. The body digests and absorbs amino acids very easily, so the amino acid chelate connected to the magnesium ensures the magnesium will be very easily digested and absorbed. This should also ensure that this form of magnesium will not cause digestive upset.

Price and Serving Size

Serving size is a single teaspoon, so the smaller, approximately half-pound, containers provide around 50 servings. Not bad for a price point that’s between $15-17.

It is interesting to note that the different flavors have different net weights, but each provides about 50 servings. I’m assuming the difference in weights reflects differences in the ingredients that were added to create the flavors. To learn more about the extreme caution Garden of Life uses in selecting flavoring ingredients, please visit Seven Surprising Facts About the Garden of Life Colmpany.

The product is available in the following sizes:

  • Approximate half-pound containers, providing about 50 servings, averaging $15-17 per container. (Price differences were seen between various retailers. Amazing seems to have the best price.) Average cost per serving came to around 32 cents.
  • Approximate one-pound containers, providing double the servings (around 100), and costing around 24 cents per serving. This is obviously the better deal, but I recommend trying a small container of the flavored versions before committing to a large container. (Just in case you don’t care for the flavor.)

There is a somewhat similar product on the market that retails for a similar price but has double the servings. HOWEVER – that product is not organic or non-GMO verified, and contains some questionable ingredients. It also uses a synthetic form of magnesium that is known to cause diarrhea. It’s not a better option, in my opinion.

Taste

I tried the Original, stevia-free unflavored version, and the Orange Dreamsicle flavor. There is also a Raspberry Lemon flavor which I did not try.

I truly enjoyed both versions, although I felt the orange flavor was a bit strong. Adding more water helped eliminate that issue. My husband enjoyed both versions. The product wasn’t gritty after blending, and was easy to drink. I’ve tried other powdered magnesium supplements that were extremely gritty and hard to drink, so this was a pleasant change.

Effervescence

Here is perhaps my strongest negative opinion about this product. It’s not truly a negative, it’s merely a lesson I learned the hard way. Because the bubbles in this product are created naturally, it can take a while for the ingredients to finish bubbling.

Let me point out that drinking the product before the bubbling stops may result in a lot of burping. I felt it took an inordinately long time for the effervescence to stop effervescing, but I failed to time it. 

golrelaxlabelPlease also note that stirring the product once the powder has been added will greatly increase the bubbling effect and may cause foaming that will make the product overflow the cup it was blended in. 

If you’ll notice in the graphic at the right, the instructions clearly say to add the water to the powder. I did it wrong every single time, which may be why I had excessive bubbling. Following the instructions is obviously the wise course of action.

My advice if you ignore the instructions is to fill the container half way with water, add the teaspoon of product, and allow it to sit for 30-60 seconds. (I did time how long I waited.) Then add the remainder of the water, gently stir, and wait until the bubbling has obviously stopped.

Not a big deal, especially since the issue was with my failure to follow the instructions.

Interesting Side Notes

As you may or may not be aware, magnesium should never be taken with iron supplements, thyroid medications, some antibiotics, and a wide variety of prescription medications because it can either block absorption or increase absorption and increase the medication’s effectiveness. Please note that the face this is a whole food magnesium is not sufficient reason to assume this supplement can be taken with supplements and medications magnesium is known to interact with.

Having said that, I can say that I experimented with Relax and Restore and took it before bed with my iron supplement for two weeks. I did not notice any difference in how I felt, nor did I begin to notice symptoms of iron deficiency anemia. As someone with Pernicious Anemia, I can assure you I would have been flat on my back had this magnesium interfered with with absorption of my iron supplement. Let me also say, you should not experiment the way I did. My training and professional experience enables me to quickly tell if my body’s balance is shifting. In other words, don’t be stupid.

Have you tried Garden of Life’s Relax and Restore? What did you think?

The Most Commonly Ignored Cause of High Blood Pressure

The CDC estimates that 29% of adults (one in three) in the US have high blood pressure.1 Unfortunately, many people who Blood Pressure Titlehave high blood pressure are not aware of it. The National Institutes of Health defines high blood pressure as any pressure above 149/90, and prehypertension as any pressure above 120/80. It is common for doctors to put their patients on medications while they are in the prehypertension phase without encouraging any lifestyle changes, even though multiple studies proved lifestyle changes can be as effective as medication for lowering blood pressure.2

I want to be very clear that high blood pressure must be treated. Period. Allowing chronic blood pressure to remain elevated and untreated can lead to permanent physical damage and may result in death. The potential dangers of high blood pressure means it can be dangerous to refuse high blood pressure medication when a physician prescribes it. My encouragement is to use the medication while making lifestyle changes, and to then work with your physician to determine whether or not you can reduce the dose. Consider the medication a potentially temporary necessity. Reversing high blood pressure requires a commitment to making multiple lifestyle and eating style changes, but many people are able to work with their physician to reduce or sometimes eliminate their blood pressure medication after making the changes.

High blood pressure always has a cause. Mainstream medicine often addresses the symptom without taking time to determine its cause. My personal philosophy is that it is imperative to figure out WHY a symptom developed in order to correctly address it. Potential causes of high blood pressure vary, but may include (among other things) food allergies, excess alcohol consumption, obesity, systemic inflammation, hormonal imbalances, cardiac disease, high blood sugar, insufficient cellular oxygen, and many others. If diagnosed with high blood pressure, accept the prescription and then work with your physician to determine why your body raised blood pressure. High blood pressure doesn’t just happen. The body always has a specific reason for raising blood pressure. Take time to figure out the cause.

Sadly, medical literature rarely mentions the most common root cause of hyptertension:  Insulin Resistance. Insulin resistance occurs when the body’s cells stop absorbing insulin the way they should. This may occur due to chronic high blood sugars, excess consumption of sugars and high-glycemic carbohydrates, or other metabolic imbalances. When the body produces high amounts of insulin over a long period of time, the body’s cells can become “overwhelmed” by all the insulin and stop absorbing insulin in the quantities the body needs. Insulin is an inflammatory chemical, so the cell’s reduced absorption of insulin is a protective measure, but Insulin Resistance can have devastating results including elevated blood sugars, magnesium deficiency, vision problems, and more. For more information on the potentially negative effects of insulin, please read Surprising Facts About Insulin.

Insulin resistance may cause the following situations, each of which can cause high blood pressure:

  1. The cell’s refusal to absorb the insulin in the blood stream means the blood stream contains excess insulin. Insulin is extremely inflammatory, so the excess insulin in the blood stream may cause blood vessels to become inflamed. It is harder for the heart to pump blood through inflamed blood vessels, so this situation can quickly increase the pressure inside the vessels and may lead to measurable high blood pressure.
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  2. When insulin is not adequately utilized, the blood stream may also become filled with excess sugar. Sugar is highly acidic and causes inflammation. In the presence of high blood sugar, the body will elevate blood pressure to help it more efficiently attempt to lower the amount of sugar in the blood stream. Raising blood pressure also helps the body more efficiently carry oxygen to the tissues.
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  3. One of insulin’s primary functions is to carry magnesium into the cells. If the body reduces the amount of insulin it absorbs, the body’s cells therefore cannot absorb the amount of magnesium they require. magnesium’s most important job is to relax the blood vessels to maintain normal blood pressure. When a person is deficient in magnesium, it is likely the person will develop high blood pressure. People with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes usually have insulin resistance and a magnesium deficiency. They therefore have a 90% chance of developing high blood pressure. Some doctors automatically prescribe blood pressure medication to their diabetic patients. These physicians assume there is no way to avoid high blood pressure in the presence of any form of diabetes. They are wrong. As someone who has had Type 1 diabetes for almost 50 years, I know high blood pressure can be avoided and/or reversed because I’ve done both.
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  4. Excess insulin can cause water retention. When water is retained in the tissues, it is more difficult for the heart to push blood through the vessels. The body therefore raises blood pressure to pump the blood more efficiently through tissues experiencing water retention..

Many people who have hypertension also have Insulin Resistance. I believe there is no such thing as “hereditary” high blood pressure. As the old adage states:  Genetics may load the gun, but lifestyle pulls the trigger. (Anonymous.)

So what lifestyle changes can potentially benefit insulin sensitivity and high blood pressure? Here are my top three starting recommendations:

  1. Exercise! Even ten minutes of exercise (three to five times weekly) is known to improve insulin sensitivity for four or more hours.
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  2. Eliminate most grains and sugars (including natural ones) for one to three months. Grains are metabolized into simple sugars that can make insulin resistance worse. Eliminating grains and sugars can help the body re-set its insulin sensitivity. This dietary change, combined with other lifestyle changes, can help the body lower blood pressure.
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  3. Discuss with your physician the possibility of taking daily magnesium and/or potassium. (Take a form of magnesium other than oxide, as it cannot be absorbed by the body and is worthless as anything except a laxative.) Magnesium and potassium are known to help relax the blood vessels and may help reduce blood pressure. For more information on the importance of magnesium, please read Why You Need More Magnesium.

The above steps are merely a starting point. There are other options that may help. If you have high blood pressure and wish to lower it using natural methods, please find a natural practitioner who can assist you. Until then, please keep taking your blood pressure medication and make sure your blood pressure stays within normal limits.

 

References:

1:  Nwankwo T, Yoon SS, Burt V, Gu Q. Hypertension among adults in the US: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2011-2012. NCHS Data Brief, No. 133. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, US Dept of Health and Human Services, 2013.

2: http://www.unm.edu/~lkravitz/Article%20folder/hypertension.html

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

Surprising Facts About Insulin

Cells in the pancreas that produce insulin (Islets of Langerhans)

Insulin is an important hormone for everyone, whether they have diabetes or not. It performs many functions in the body that most people are completely unaware of. The purpose of this article is to show you how important insulin is and why you may need to start paying more attention to it. Unfortunately, we live in a society where many people’s cells have stopped absorbing the insulin their body produces. This insulin resistance creates a domino effect of negative consequences, even though many people never have elevated blood sugars. All of us have insulin resistance to some degree. The resistance is partially caused by aging, poor eating habits, lack of exercise, etc. However, it is very simple to regulate insulin production and insulin sensitivity. (The picture you see is a cross section of the beta cells of the pancreas that create insulin.)

Let’s get started! The following facts about insulin may surprise you.

Insulin is found in almost every life form, including single-celled creatures

Any chemical that is found in every life form on earth must be vitally important. For most single-celled organisms, insulin’s role is to control and advance aging. The older the life form becomes, the more insulin it produces. Insulin is therefore vitally connected to the aging process. When people become insulin resistant, causing their body to produce excess insulin, their cells age and deteriorate much more rapidly. Controlling insulin production and resistance is vital to slowing the aging process.

Insulin allows the body’s cells to store and create energy

We’ve all been convinced that insulin’s role is to lower blood glucose levels. Truth is, that is not insulin’s job. Insulin’s primary role in the body is to create energy. Plain and simple. The insulin your body creates should allow your cells to create energy. When cells become resistant to insulin, it means those cells can no longer create energy. Fatigue and exhaustion follow. This is why many people with insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome and diabetes are often so tired.

Insulin signals the body to store fat

Insulin is a fat storage hormone, especially when it is not absorbed by the body’s cells. Excess insulin in the blood stream tells the body to start storing as much fat as possible. This is why people with insulin resistance and diabetes often find it impossible to lose weight. It is also why people with those challenges often have extremely elevated cholesterol and triglyceride levels. It’s just that simple.

High cholesterol has a stronger connection to insulin than it does to fat consumption. I recently worked with a lady who came to me with a cholesterol reading of over 300 and a triglyceride level of over 1500. What did I do? I recommended an eating plan that was very low in carbohydrates and very high in healthy fats. (Yes. You read that right. I gave her body what it needed. A low fat diet does not help weight loss, nor does it improve coronary health.) She lost forty pounds in three months and had normal cholesterol and triglyceride levels within six weeks. Focusing on insulin instead of her blood lipids made the difference.

Insulin delivers magnesium

One of the most important jobs insulin fulfills is to carry magnesium into the cells. Experts currently estimate that seventy percent of the US population is magnesium deficient. There is a large probability this deficiency is not solely due to bad eating habits, but is also linked to insulin resistance. For information on the negative effects of magnesium deficiency, please read Why You Need More Magnesium.

One of magnesium’s jobs is to relax the blood vessels. A primary result of a low magnesium level is that blood vessels constrict and blood pressure rises. Over 80% of people with diabetes or insulin resistance also have high blood pressure. The connection is purely related to insulin. Unfortunately, the cells in blood vessels never become resistant to insulin. These cells continue absorbing all the insulin that is present. The excess insulin in the walls of the blood vessels makes them hard and predisposes them to being covered with plaque. Both of these factors create elevated blood pressure. Left untreated, these factors create serious heart disease. Few people speak about regulating insulin levels as a means of preventing and reversing coronary disease, but it is one of the simplest ways to improve heart health.

Insulin triggers hormones that create a feeling of fullness

Insulin is a hormone that tells the body when it’s time to stop eating. This makes perfect sense. As we eat a meal, our body releases insulin to turn that food into energy. As those insulin levels rise, it should trigger a feeling of fullness once a sufficient amount of food has been eaten. When the body stops absorbing insulin, it prevents the signal that tells the person it’s time to stop eating and allows people to eat far more than they need without feeling full. This is another reason why people with insulin resistance and diabetes have such a hard time losing weight. The key is to improve the body’s ability to absorb insulin. It is very simple to improve insulin sensitivity using lifestyle changes and sometimes a few inexpensive supplements.

Insulin lowers blood glucose levels

Last on the list is that insulin lowers blood sugar. Insulin’s least significant role in the body is lowering glucose levels. The fact is that elevated glucose is merely a nasty side effect of poor insulin metabolism.

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Do you deal with insulin resistance? Is this a new concept for you? Please share your thoughts in the comments section.

Please contact me at 317.489.0909 if you would like to start the process of  improving your health and slowing the aging process by improving your body’s ability to absorb insulin.

Is Coffee Healthy or Not?

Steaming Cup of Coffee

I am often asked what my thoughts are about whether or not coffee is “healthy.” As with most health issues, your personal physiology determines whether or not coffee is beneficial for you. Many people are shocked that I am not opposed to coffee. To be quite honest, I recognize that coffee does have health benefits. I also recognize that some people have such poor diets that a morning cup of java provides the only antioxidants they receive during the entire day.

If you’d like to learn how to brew the healthiest coffee possible, please read my article, How to Brew a Healthy Cup of Coffee: Cold Brew.

In the points that follow, please note that a “cup” of coffee is 8 ounces. Most coffee mugs hold far more, so use caution.

Coffee’s Benefits

Coffee may provide the following benefits. Please note that some people are extremely sensitive to caffeine. Caffeine sensitivity may counteract some of the positive effects I’ve shared below.

  • Coffee is a rich source of antioxidants.
  • Coffee contains certain minerals that are lacking in the Standard American Diet (SAD), including magnesium, potassium, chromium (necessary for proper blood sugar control), zinc, and others.
  • A Harvard study found that women who drink two to three cups of coffee per day have a 15% lower risk of depression than women who do not drink coffee.
  • Coffee is rich in Trigonelline, a chemical that helps protect your teeth from bacteria that can cause decay.
  • Over 17 different studies found that people who drink one to four cups of coffee daily have lower rates of Type 2 Diabetes and some forms of cancer.
  • In addition to antioxidants, coffee contains high levels of 3,5 Dicaffeoylquinic acid, a chemical that protects cells from free-radical damage.
  • Coffee is rich in niacin, a B vitamin that is essential for cardiovascular health, normal brain function, normal digestion, cell health, energy production and more.
  • Multiple studies found that those who drink two to four cups of coffee daily have lowered rates of Alzheimer Disease, liver disease, gallstone formation, Parkinson’s Disease, coronary rhythm disorders, heart attacks and more.
  • Several studies found that coffee consumption does NOT elevate blood pressure and actually improves coronary health. Hallelujah! If you have high blood pressure, test your pressure before drinking a cup of coffee and 20 minutes after to determine if drinking decaf might be a better option due to your personal sensitivity to caffeine.
  • A 13-year study conducted by the New England Journal of Medicine in 2012 found that coffee drinkers who drank two to three cups of coffee per day had a 10-15% lower rate of mortality than those who did not. The researchers said this effect cannot be directly attributed to coffee and that further research is needed, but those numbers are certainly interesting!

Coffee’s Risks

Coffee beans contain over 1600 different chemicals. Unfortunately, not all of them are healthy. Drinking coffee may have the following harmful effects:

  • Coffee has been shown to increase levels of LDL cholesterol, although the exact reason is not known.
  • Consumption of two or more cups of coffee per day has been associated with a higher risk of osteoporosis and osteopenia. Percolated or drip coffee is very, very acidic, which creates an overly acidic pH in the body. To counteract the acidity, the body will pull calcium out of the bones and teeth to alkalize the body’s pH. My personal belief is that acidic brewing methods lead to osteoporosis and not the coffee. See the section below for healthy ways to brew coffee.
  • Coffee is known to interfere with sleep and may cause irritability and anxiety in some people. Drinking naturally decaffeinated coffee may lessen this effect.
  • Coffee hampers the absorption of iron and has been connected to iron deficiency anemia. Women who take iron supplements should never take them within two hours of drinking coffee. (Iron supplements are best absorbed on an empty stomach, so taking them right before bed – at least two hours after eating – works best for most people. Please note that iron interferes with the absorption of some prescription medications. Check with your pharmacist to find out which medications should not be taken with iron supplements.)
  • Brewed and percolated coffee can irritate the lining of the digestive tract and may worsen the symptoms of digestive disorders, heartburn (GERD), ulcers and more.
  • Combining coffee with Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is known to cause liver damage.

The Healthiest Way to Make Coffee

Here are my tips for enjoying coffee in a healthy way:

  • ONLY DRINK ORGANIC COFFEE. I cannot stress this enough. Coffee plants are often sprayed with gallons of chemicals. Since most coffee is grown outside of the US, those chemicals may not be regulated. Although it would be nice to think that roasting the beans removes those toxins, the opposite is actually true.
  • Enjoy it in moderation. Try to drink no more than 16 – 24 ounces per day.
  • Don’t substitute coffee for water. Coffee is a strong diuretic which can cause dehydration. Always drink extra water for every cup of coffee you drink.
  • If you drink decaffeinated coffee because you are sensitive to caffeine, only drink coffee that was decaffeinated using the Swiss Water Process method of decaffeination. The standard method of decaffeination uses chemical solvents, some of which remain in the coffee after processing. These chemical solvents may be toxic and should be avoided.
  • Coffee is known to challenge the adrenal glands. The caffeine in coffee stimulates the adrenal glands to secrete hormones. Anyone who has adrenal fatigue should avoid coffee. Decaffeinated coffee has less of an effect.
  • Coffee raises blood sugar. When the adrenal glands are stimulated, the hormones they secrete stimulate the liver to release glycogen, a form of sugar the body stores for energy. Decaffeinated coffee has less of an effect.
  • Don’t drink it for dessert. Many people immediately ruin coffee’s health benefits by loading it up with sugar, artificial sweeteners, chemical creamers, flavored syrups, whipped cream and more. Black coffee is the healthiest. Adding a bit of stevia or a tiny amount of natural milk or milk alternative is fine, but don’t go crazy.

Healthy Brewing Techniques

My personal belief, based on much of the information shared above, is that cold brewed coffee is the healthiest. Cold brewing is very simple and provides all the taste (and caffeine, if you choose) of drip coffee without the acidity. I will share the cold brew method I use in my next blog post. Trust me when I say my method is far simpler than the methods shared online. I can brew a pot of cold brew in less than 15 minutes. 

If you prefer drip coffee, please only use a non-bleached filter. There is some evidence that a non-bleached, paper filter removes some of the chemicals in coffee that could potentially have a harmful effect.

If you’d like to learn how to brew the healthiest coffee possible, please read my article, How to Brew a Healthy Cup of Coffee: Cold Brew.

Did this article surprise you? I help many people evaluate their lifestyle habits to identify changes that may help improve their wellness or help them avoid future challenges. To schedule, please email me or call 317.489.0909.

What are your thoughts about coffee? Do you drink it? How do you ensure you get the benefits without the risks? Please share!

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.
    . 
  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.
    .
  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.
    . 
  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.
    . 
  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.
    . 
  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.
    . 
  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.
    . 
  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.
    . 
  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.
    .
  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!

How to Create a Detoxification Bath Using Common Ingredients

This post is about pampering yourself and improving your health at the same time using a detoxification bath. One of my favorite Woman taking a relaxing detoxification bath ... Image by © Angelo Cavalli/SuperStock/Corbisways to detoxify is by taking a long, very warm detoxification bath two to three times per week. Why is it important to detoxify? Because toxins are “pollution” in your body and polluted cells don’t work well. As the cells become more and more toxic, the toxicity leads to illness and disease. It’s that simple. I can’t count how many times I’ve helped people dramatically improve their health and eliminate disease simply by eliminating toxic lifestyle habits and doing a systemic detox. This post covers a very simple way to detox several times a week. You’ll not only eliminate harmful toxins but will also feel wonderfully pampered and will probably sleep better! It’s a win-win!

Using baths to detoxify the body is a practice that has been used since ancient times. Hippocrates often used “bath therapy,” also called “balneotherapy,” for healing because he believed detoxification was a primary means of healing the body. The technique involves immersing the body in a detoxification bath containing ingredients that pull toxins out through the skin. The skin is the body’s largest elimination organ. It is a huge bi-directional “sponge” that can be used to absorb nutrients and to expel toxins. (Acne is typically an indicator of toxicity. Read my post The Smart way to Deal with Zits for more info on that topic.)

Note: Detoxification baths are typically not recommended for anyone with circulatory issues, heart problems or high blood pressure. Mainstream medicine says they are also not advised for anyone with diabetes, but this is mainly due to the circulatory problems some people with diabetes have. I strongly disagree that everyone with diabetes should avoid detoxification baths. I’ve had diabetes for almost 50 years and highly value detoxification baths as part of my weekly health regimen. I have never experienced negative effects from them, but I do not have circulatory problems.

The doses in this post are recommended for adults. Although these ingredients are generally safe to add to baths for children in smaller amounts, please consult a trained professional before using detoxification ingredients with children.

Please check with your practitioner if you have any concerns about whether or not detox baths are a good option for you. PREGNANT WOMEN SHOULD NOT USE DETOX BATHS UNLESS DIRECTED BY A TRAINED PROFESSIONAL AND SHOULD NEVER BATHE IN EXTREMELY HOT WATER.

As always, this information is shared for educational purposes only, has not been evaluated by the FDA, and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any health condition.

The act of bathing in warm water is a simple detox even if no additional ingredients are added to the bath water. The process typically induces the body to sweat, and sweat is one of the body’s best forms of detoxification. The simple act of rubbing the body with a wash cloth helps eliminate dead skin cells and open the elimination pathways in the skin. Please be very careful with temperature. Bathing in warm but not overly hot water is recommended. If you notice an increase in heart rate or begin to feel dizzy or light headed while bathing, exit the tub immediately. I recommend drinking purified water before, during and after a bath, as the body can become dehydrated due to the amount of sweat lost during a detoxification bath. Drinking water also helps the body eliminate toxins.

Most ingredients blend better if they are added to the tub while the water is running and the tub contains one to three inches of water. Adding ingredients to a bath can sometimes make the tub very slippery. Please use extreme caution when entering and exiting the tub during a detoxification bath. Please also note that I recommended soaking in a detox bath for no more than 20 minutes.

Here are my favorite detoxifying agents to add to a bath:

Epsom Salts: Epsom salts are a combination of minerals, primary of which is magnesium sulfate. Magnesium is essential for multiple body functions (see Why You Need More Magnesium), yet 80% of people in the US are deficient. Bathing in a solution of Epsom salt allows the body to absorb magnesium through the skin. Magnesium sulfate aids detoxification by strengthening the body’s own detoxification methods and opening up primary detoxification pathways. It also helps eliminate heavy metals from the body, increases the body’s ability to eliminate toxins through the digestive tract, and increases the production of digestive enzymes produced in the pancreas. Soaking in an Epsom salt bath is wonderfully relaxing, as it helps relax muscles. The nice thing about Epsom salts is that they are very inexpensive and can be found in any drugstore. If you want to try something more exotic, Masada makes a very nice detox blend called Mineral Herb Bath Detox. Dose: I recommend adding one to two cups of Epsom salt per bath. Some people recommend using much higher amounts, but 1-2 cups is a good starting dose. Epsom salts can be blended with any of the detoxification ingredients listed in this post.

Baking Soda (aluminum free): Baking soda is a powerful detoxifier for radiation poisoning. It is occasionally used intravenously during chemotherapy and radiation treatments for that reason. The US Army recommends its use internally to help remove radioactive ions from the kidneys following exposure to radioactive materials. Baking soda is a very alkalizing product, so soaking in a bath containing it can help alkalize an overly acidic body system. It is also helpful for reversing the toxicity of radiation absorbed from cell phones, pad devices, computers, microwaves, televisions, x-rays and other medical scans, etc. On a very timely note, adding aluminum-free baking soda to a detox bath at least once a week may be helpful for protecting against potential damage from any radioactive exposure we’ve had from Fukoshima. (Opinions vary widely about the true amount of exposure we’ve received, but the fact remains we have been exposed. This is a simple addition to a bath with no negative side effects, so why not?) Baking soda also softens the skin. Using it with 1/2 cup of Jojoba oil makes a wonderfully moisturizing bath. 

PLEASE make sure the baking soda you are using is aluminum-free. Many people do not realize the flow agents added to Baking Soda often contain high amounts of heavy metals. Soaking in a bath containing high amounts of a heavy metal could be damaging to your auto-immune and neurological systems. You can purchase four pounds of aluminum-free baking soda very reasonably on Amazon: Aluminum-Free Baking Soda. Dose: Start with 2 cups per bath, gradually working up to 1 pound per bath if you fear your exposure to radiation has been high. Bathing in higher doses of baking soda is especially helpful for anyone working in a medical setting who is exposed even indirectly to high amounts of radiation. Baking soda can be mixed with any of the other detoxification ingredients listed in this post, but be aware it will bubble furiously if combined with organic Apple Cider Vinegar. I recommend adding the baking soda at the beginning of running the bath, and adding the Apple Cider Vinegar once the tub is almost filled.

Ascorbic Acid Powder:  Ascorbic acid powder is known to neutralize chlorine, so it is a simple solution to use if you do not have a whole-house filtration system installed. One teaspoon is typically enough to neutralize the chlorine in the water. Amazon carries a wide variety of ascorbic acid powders. You can view their selection here.

Organic Apple Cider Vinegar: Organic Apple Cider Vinegar is high in vitamins and minerals which are absorbed through the skin while bathing. Apple Cider Vinegar baths are known to be highly anti-inflammatory and are known to help the body eliminate excess uric acid. For this reason, baths containing Apple Cider Vinegar are especially nice for anyone dealing with arthritic conditions or gout. Apple Cider Vinegar is also known to help the body eliminate excess mucous. My brother-in-law’s father swears that taking an Apple Cider Vinegar bath will help stop a cold dead in its tracks. The aroma will not linger on your skin, but some people rinse off in the shower after taking a bath containing it. I purchase it by the gallon and try to always have a gallon sitting on the edge of the tub. I actually have a large decorative basket sitting on the edge of my tub that I keep filled with detoxification ingredients, essential oils, moisturizing oils, etc. I use Bragg’s Organic Apple Cider Vinegar. (Click the link to view it and purchase.) Dose: Add one to two cups per bath. Apple Cider Vinegar can be mixed with any of the detoxification ingredients mentioned in this post, but be aware it will bubble vigorously if combined with baking soda.

Bentonite Clay: Bentonite Clay baths are a messy, although very effective, method of detoxification. Bentonite clay is a mineral-rich clay that is white in color and which is very effective at pulling a wide variety of toxins out of the body. It is known to be especially helpful for removing heavy metals and environmental toxins. It is also known to be very helpful for alleviating a wide variety of skin conditions. I use and recommend clays both internally and externally and am a huge believer in their effectiveness. I have seen and heard multiple “miracle stories” of clays being used to eliminate heavy metals and other toxins from the body. The downside of clay baths is that they are very, very messy. The clay left behind in the tub is sometimes very sticky due to having absorbed so many toxins, so cleaning it from the tub can take time. However, a clay bath once a month is a very luxurious way of detoxifying and pampering yourself. I highly recommend it! You can purchase pure Bentonite Clay at a relatively low cost. NOW has a very nice product packaged in one-pound packages: NOW Bentonite Clay. I also like Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay.

Amount to add to bath: Anywhere from one cup to one pound may be used. Obviously, using less will create less of a mess to clean up. There is some concern that using excessive amounts of clay may clog pipes, so I don’t recommend using extremely high amounts. Clay can be mixed with any of the products listed in this post.

These ingredients are the tip of the iceberg in terms of ingredients that can be added to baths to aid healing and help the body detoxify. I did not include herbs, essential oils and other detoxifying ingredients because there are too many to list in a single post. If you are interested in learning more about using baths for healing, I highly recommend the book Water Magic: Healing Bath Recipes. It has a multitude of recipes for healing a wide range of physical and emotional issues.

If you have health concerns and would like to address them using natural methods, please contact me. I will work with you to identify the causes of your health challenges, and will then work with you to create a plan to reverse them.