Sleep: Essential for Mind-Body Health & Detoxification

sleepAdults and children alike are spending more time awake late at night to study, work, or have fun. All those late nights may be slowly killing us. More than 20 years of research shows us that sleep is vitally important to physical and mental health.

Most of what we know about sleep and health comes from studies of what happens to the mind and body when we don’t sleep enough, or at all. In animal and human studies, living without sleep for even a few months resulted in death. Sleeping fewer than 8 hours a night on a regular basis is associated with increased risk for diabetes, heart disease and stroke, depression, colds and flu, and obesity.

While We Are Sleeping…

Sleep affects brain chemistry and has an important role in the functioning of the nervous, immune and endocrine systems. During sleep we develop and reinforce neural pathways involved in memory, learning, and emotion. New research suggests sleep helps flush toxins from the brain.

While we are sleeping, the body manufactures hormones that repair damage caused by stress and the environment in which we work and play. Growth hormone cleanses the liver, builds muscle, breaks down fat, and helps normalize blood sugar. We also produce hormones that help fight infections. If we aren’t getting sufficient sleep, we get sick more often and take longer to recover. Lack of sleep increases inflammation, which is has been linked to heart disease and stroke.

Skimping on shut-eye is linked with obesity in adults and children. Lack of sleep interferes with the levels of ghrelin and leptin, metabolic hormones that signal when you’re hungry and when you’re full.

The amount of sleep you need varies based on age, activity level, quality of sleep, and genetics (e.g., some of us really are night owls). Infants typically require 14-15 hours of sleep per 24-hour period; young children about 12 hours; teens about 9 hours, and most adults 7-9 hours. A general rule of thumb for determining your sleep requirement: If you do not wake feeling refreshed, you may not be getting enough sleep.

Tips For A Good Night’s Sleep

  1. In the sack for sleep and sex only. Regular sex can improve sleep quality so don’t use your time between the sheets to deal with daily hassles–take that outside of the bedroom (or record in a journal). If you don’t feel sleepy, leave the room and do something relaxing until you feel drowsy, (see our Natural Therapies for Sound Sleep in this newsletter). Then, go back to bed.
  2. Set a sleep schedule. This includes a soothing pre-sleep routine, such as a warm bath, reading or gentle yoga. Go to bed and wake at the same time each day. This entrains your body rhythms, making it easier to fall asleep. If you need a nap, get it in before 5:00 PM; limit to 20 minutes.
  3. Surround yourself with cave-like ambiance.  A sleeping space should be quiet, dark, and cool (between 60-72°). If you do shift-work, use blackout shades or an eye mask. Remove electronic devices, computers and TVs from your room. Research shows that use of digital devices within an hour of bedtime has a negative effect on sleep quality.
  4. Let the light in early and exercise regularly. Natural light helps regulates hormones that promote ideal sleep-wake patterns. Open the curtains as early as possible and get outdoors during the day. Also, exercise during the day or early evening makes it easier to fall asleep and increases the amount of deep sleep obtained.
  5. Eat a Light, Last Meal of the Day. A light dinner eaten 2-3 hours before sleep is ideal. A full stomach interferes with sleep as the body works at digestion. Steer clear of spicy or fatty foods that can cause heartburn. If you need a bedtime snack, combine a carbohydrate and protein, such as almond butter on toast, Greek yogurt with sugar-free granola, or cheese and crackers. Avoid products containing caffeine, sugar or nicotine as their effects can last several hours.

Are You Sleep Deprived?

You don’t have to pull “all-nighters” to become sleep deprived. A sleep debt of just 1-2 hours a few nights a week can affect your health and performance.To become fully well-rested and regain energy after a sleep debt, get an extra hour of sleep each night for one week.

If you experience any of the following the signs of sleep deprivation, talk to your healthcare provider about natural approaches to getting your sleep back on track.

  • Daytime drowsiness; fatigue
  • Poor memory; difficulty concentrating
  • Changes in appetite
  • Difficulty dealing with stress
  • Irritability
  • Muscle tension; impaired vision
  • Increase in accidents or clumsiness


Calcium Essential for Strong Bones, Sound Sleep

calciumDid you know that Calcium, the most abundant mineral in the human body, is not only essential for strong bones, it also supports healthy functioning of the cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, and nervous systems? Research shows a relationship between Calcium intake and risk for heart disease, colorectal cancer, kidney stones, PMS, and managing a healthy weight. When it comes to sound sleep, insufficient dietary Calcium has been associated with insomnia. Calcium is instrumental in the way our brains cycle through the stages of sleep and in the ability to generate brain chemicals, including tryptophan, associated with deep sleep.

The best way to get calcium is through whole foods. Dairy products are abundant in the mineral in a form that’s easy for most people to digest. Vegans sources of this mineral include almonds, dark leafy greens, and tofu. However, figuring out how much calcium you’re actually getting from veggies is tricky. If a vegetable contains oxalic or phytic acid, then the calcium may be poorly absorbed because of the acids. For example, 1 c. of frozen spinach contains nearly as much calcium as 1 c. of milk, but only a tenth as much is absorbed because of the oxalic acid.

For a healthy adult, the recommended intake for a Calcium supplement is 1,000 – 2,000 mg daily, depending on health status and lifestyle habits including exercise. There are many factors and forms of calcium supplements (e.g., carbonate, citrate), that affect how well the body absorbs the mineral. Also, calcium supplements can interact with other medications. Too much calcium can stress other bodily systems, leading to health problems. For these reasons, consult with a health practitioner as to which type and dosage of calcium is best for you.


Natural Therapies for a Good Night’s Sleep

sleepBefore your head sinks into the pillow at bedtime, there are some very simple things you can do to prepare mind and body for a night of deeply restful sleep. The evening hours are a time when the busyness of your day should begin to wind down. It’s important to create a bedtime ritual that will help tame the thoughts that may still be racing through your mind and which can prevent you from falling or staying asleep throughout the night.

Try adding some of the following naturopathic and holistic approaches to your evening routine.

  • Turn off WiFi if possible!
  • Enjoy a warm bath including Epsom salts and/or lavender oil.
  • Listen to the relaxing sounds of ocean waves, classical music, or chimes. There are specialized acoustic recordings that are orchestrated to affect specific brain wave patterns for relaxation or sleep.
  • A guided recording of progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing exercises, restorative yoga poses, can help the body create the ‘relaxation response’.
  • Herbs and other botanical or aromatherapy treatments are useful for calming down after a stressful day. In addition to the herbs discussed in this month’s newsletter, you might want to ask your physician about teas, tinctures or capsule preparations of valerian, skullcap, passionflower, or lemon balm.
  • Try meditation, beginning with just 10 minutes a day. Meditation has numerous health benefits and recent studies show it can significantly affect quality of sleep.


SWEET Potato… its more than delicious!

sweetpotI’m a HUGE lover of the sweet potato… I even eat them for breakfast (baked topped with almond butter, put in a smoothie, juiced or done up like hash browns).  Not only does it help fulfill “eating a rainbow” with its colorful hues, but it also is a powerhouse of nutrition. This vibrant orange tuber is rich in vitamins, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory nutrients, and blood sugar-regulating nutrients. The antioxidant Beta-carotene, which gives Sweet Potato its orange flesh, is necessary for your body to produce Vitamin A. We need vitamin A for eye health, for a strong immune system, and for healthy skin. One medium Sweet Potato provides 100% of your daily needs for Vitamin A, as well as a healthy dose of vitamin C, several of the B vitamins, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and vitamin E.

Some research has shown that, as antioxidants from Sweet Potato (called cyanidins and peonidins) and other phytonutrients pass through the digestive tract, they act in ways that may lower the health risk posed by heavy metals. Scientists are also studying the anti-inflammatory nutrients (anthocyanin) contained in purple Sweet Potatoes, which may provide protection against certain types of cancer. Of note, purple sweet potatoes are equally delicious and provide a fun new color to your meal!

Sweet Potatoes also have a fascinating ability to potentially improve blood sugar regulation. Researchers are interested in determining what effect this may have on Type-2 Diabetes. High in fiber, including Sweet Potato in your diet can promote regularity of the bowels and healthy digestive function.

You can enjoy Sweet Potato as a main course, side dish, in soups, or in desserts. When shopping for these versatile veggies, remember that Yams are not the same as Sweet Potatoes. The two are not in the same “food family” and each has a different nutrient profile. Yams are usually imported from Africa or Asia, whereas the Sweet Potato is grown abundantly in the U.S. Finally, Sweet Potato color, both flesh and skin, can range from white to yellow-orange to brown or purple. There also are “firm” or “soft” varieties, which can make a difference in your cooking.

Recipe for Chipotle Mashed Sweet Potatoes (a great Thanksgiving or any other time side dish):


3-4 full size sweet potatoes (or 2-3 lbs of the smaller variety)

1 small can chipotle peppers (available in Hispanic section of most grocery stores)

3 cloves fresh garlic*

1/2 medium red onion*

salt and pepper to taste

1.5 cups shredded organic sharp cheddar cheese*

water for boiling sweet potatoes

1 TBSPN olive oil or butter for sautéing

Instructions: wash, cube and boil sweet potatoes until soft (approx 20 min).  During this time mince garlic, chop onion and sauté until golden brown.  Drain potatoes and place in large mixing bowl.  Add in sautéed onion and garlic, chipotle peppers (with sauce in can), dash of salt and pepper, and cheese if desired.  Mix with electric mixer until it is the consistency of mashed potatoes, serve hot!


Essential Oil for Rejuvenating (or Calming) Energy!

oilsIf you are feeling depleted, essential oil aromatherapy can be a gentle and safe way to rejuvenate your energy and invigorate your senses. Essential oils are typically blended into and applied with a thicker carrier oil (such as grapeseed, olive, coconut, jojoba, almond, or other massage oil). With this method, you can massage the oil into your feet, behind your ears, or along pulse points on your arms and legs.

Essential oils also can be inhaled (“air therapy”) much the way one inhales the aroma of a good meal. Hold the bottle a few inches below your nose and breathe deeply. Another option is to use an aromatherapy diffuser. We use these at our office and infuse lavender for the relaxing effect.  It’s also a great technique to use around the house, especially after a long day.  Many parents will also use calming essential oils in diffusers to help calm down children that may be hyperactive.

These uses of essential oils are believed to stimulate the brain centers that are active in regulating hormones, including those that affect emotion and energy levels. The oils listed below are just a few that are recommended for boosting alertness, elevating mood, and restoring balance when you feel fatigued. Check with your wellness practitioner to see if these oils are right for you.

Energy-boosting oils can be blended or used individually. Remember, these oils are stimulating, so you would not want to use them within a few hours of going to sleep.

  • Bergamot (Citrus bergamia) helps relieve anxiety and pent-up energy.
  • Ginger (Zingiber officinale) has a stimulating fragrance that can boost motivation when you feel sluggish.
  • Lemon/Lime (Citrus limon/Citrus aurantifolia) are energizing, cleansing scents that can help dispel worry and clear emotional confusion.
  • Peppermint/Spearmint (Mentha piperita/Mentha spicata) both can awaken mental activity and help relieve fatigue. Spearmint has a sweeter, less medicinal scent than peppermint. The mints also can be beneficial to reduce stress headaches.
  • Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) helps calm anxiety and boost mental alertness.


Digestive Enzymes

Tenzymeshe digestive system has an intricate relationship with all other systems in the body, including the immune, endocrine, and nervous systems. If your digestive system cannot properly digest food, absorb nutrients, and eliminate waste products from the body, then it becomes very difficult to maintain optimal health. Even if you eat an ideal diet, if you experience a great deal of stress, have an underlying medical condition, or are taking medications that affect digestive processes, you can experience digestive difficulties and have problems absorbing nutrients.

Digestive enzymes are proteins that facilitate specific chemical reactions to break down food (e.g., carbohydrates, fats, and proteins) into smaller, absorbable components. Digestive Enzyme Supplements (DES) are a natural remedy for many conditions that have a root cause in the digestive system, including food sensitivity, allergies, behavioral disorders, many skin disorders and other health conditions that may be related to a nutrient deficiency.

Your health practitioner may suggest taking a plant-based DES with meals. These are usually derived from pineapple (bromelain) or papaya (papain). Another source of DES is derived from microbes and includes varieties of lipase, amylase, protease, and lactase, which all have unique effects in the digestive process.

The medical premise for a DES is to facilitate thorough digestion of food and to prevent foodstuffs from lingering in the gut where they can generate unfavorable bacteria and yeast (at the expense of healthy gut bacteria). Digestive enzyme supplements may also enhance the nutrition received from the foods you eat, which is good for the whole body. Research shows that taking a DES can promote bowel movement regularity, reduce or eliminate other gastric disturbances such as reflux or gas, and ease the symptoms of food intolerance (e.g., lactose).

Digestive enzymes can be used by adults and children alike, but consult your practitioner for proper dosage. Do not take digestive enzymes without the input of your doctor if you have active stomach or duodenal ulcers, inflammation of the bowels, bleeding disorders, or are scheduled for surgery.


“Egg-cellent” Ways to Replace Eggs in Recipes

eggLet me start with: I am an egg-eater, they are full of vitamins (including folic acid) and a great protein source -HOWEVER, they can be quite allergenic for some people and other people may not eat eggs due to personal beliefs. This list provides good substitutes, both homemade and store-bought, organized by the role of the egg in the recipe (binding, leavening, or adding moisture).

For an egg replacer that binds, add any of the following for each egg:

  • 1 T (heaping) soy powder + 2 T water
  • 1 T soy milk powder + 1 T cornstarch + 2 T water
  • 2 T cornstarch
  • 2 T potato starch
  • 2 T arrowroot powder
  • 2-3 T whole wheat flour
  • 2-3 T tomato paste
  • 2-3 T mashed potatoes
  • 2-3 T mashed sweet potatoes
  • 2-3 T instant potato flakes
  • 1/4 cup tofu puréed with 1 T flour

Tofu tips: While it can be a terrific substitution in “eggy dishes” (quiches or custards), tofu does not fluff up like eggs. Use plain tofu, not seasoned or baked.  Adding turmeric to tofu will give it a bright yellow color making it closer to the color of eggs and really healthy!

One of my students once made a vegan quiche with garbanzo bean flour as the base.  She just made a “paste” out of garbanzo bean flour and water, sautéed veggies, mixed them together and baked it.  It looked just like a quiche, and it was delicious!

For leavening, try this commercial product:

  • Ener-G Egg Replacer (base of potato starch, tapioca flour)
  • If you’re baked goods crumble, please consult these tips from Ener-G.

For sweet, baked goods, try one of the following for each egg:

  • 1 banana
  • 1/4 c applesauce
  • 1 T milled flax seed and 3 T water


  • If using fruit, make sure it’s compatible with the other flavors in the dessert.
  • It is quite difficult to replicate airy baked goods, such as angel food cake. Instead, look for a recipe with a similar taste but fewer eggs or one that has been tested by real kitchen pros.


Mindful eating

mindful eatingThe holiday preparation race is on: Cooking, cleaning, hosting, visiting, and tackling a holiday shopping list that is growing faster than last summer’s weeds. Before you know it, the table is set and you’re serving the holiday meal. This year, though, is going to be different–you’re going to sit down and savor the cornucopia of flavors and the good company at your table.

The art of Mindful Eating, with its roots in Zen teachings, aims to reconnect you more deeply with the experience of eating and drinking. It’s the process of deliberately paying attention to what is happening both within yourself and in your environment during mealtime. When you eat mindfully, you are in tune with the aroma, taste, and texture of food. You become much more aware of your appetite–just how hungry are you? And, you become more sensitive to the feeling of fullness, so you’ll be less likely to overeat. Mindful eating brings enjoyment back to mealtime.

5 Ways to Slow Down and Savor Your Holiday Meal

Pause & Connect. After you give thanks for your meal, but before you pick up your fork, take a moment to connect with your appetite. How hungry do you feel? Of all the glorious food on the table before you, what are you truly hungry for? What flavors will nourish you and replenish your energy? Try not to choose foods out of habit. Fill your plate first with the foods your body is saying it most needs. Then, embellish your plate with smaller amounts of those traditional holiday favorites.

Another thought here is to pause until you start salivating, that is the body’s way of saying it is ready to help you digest.  This is especially important for all those holiday carbohydrates as the enzyme amylase (which is present in saliva) is the first step to breaking the carbohydrates down into usable energy.

Clear Digital Distractions. Although it’s less likely at holiday time when family and friends gather from near and far, it’s easy to forget to turn off the digital devices that are such a huge part of our lives.  Everyone at your table should be in the moment for the main part of the meal–free of distraction. I’ve know people that will completely shut off the wi-fi in the whole house during meals and/or sleep hours.

Take Bites, Not Gulps. Instead of shoveling food into your mouth, take smaller bites and focus on chewing and tasting it. As stated above, digestion begins with the act of chewing. Salivary enzymes break down food the moment it enters your mouth. Your taste buds awaken to flavors as you chew. Pause between bites to set your utensils down and breathe.

Engage All the Senses. The taste of food is just one way to appreciate it. Throughout your meal, notice how food smells and how it looks on the plate. Notice the colors and the textures. I always have a goal to have a rainbow of color on my plate! Consider the nutrients that the food will provide for you. Appreciate every aspect of eating (and celebrating) the holiday meal.

Be a Nonjudgmental Diner. Being a nonjudgmental diner is about paying attention to your needs for nourishment and not the person’s next to you. I can be quite guilty of this myself – knowing that someone else’s food choices may not be the best choice for them… and knowing that sometimes my food choices are not the best for me.  Keep in mind, as adults, we can only be responsible for our own choices. If we feel on the verge of overindulgence at our holiday meal, we need to make it a conscious decision. Choose your favorite holiday treat and bring a focused awareness to eating it. By eating with focused awareness, often we will be so satisfied by that first piece of pie, the urge for seconds is no longer apparent.


What do you REALLY know about your supplements?

suppsIn light of recent news reports coming out with startling statements about supplements, it is worth pointing out that just because it is a supplement, does not mean it is always safe.  NPR recently posted an article about the number of ER visits due to supplement use/misuse. Though I feel this was faulty representation and does not mention the number of ER visits due to pharmaceutical use/misuse, it nevertheless makes the point that supplements too, can be dangerous if we aren’t informed. Recent studies (conducted by independent labs, scientists, and/or newspapers) in which dietary supplements (DS) were randomly and independently tested have shown that DS products do not always contain the ingredients (or the purity of ingredients) stated on the product label. This concern goes across all supplements: vitamins, minerals, herbs/botanicals, and amino acids.

To complicate matters, manufacturers of DS are not currenlty required to submit products to the scientific scrutiny of the FDA because DS are regulated as a food product, not a drug. The Federal Trade Commission regulates advertising of product claims, this is why you see “this product was not intended to treat or cure…” on the labels, but that has nothing to do with the purity and quality of the pill you’re taking. The FDA has the authority to spot-check supplements (and to remove products that violate certain regulations) but is not required by law to test, or require testing, on all over-the-counter supplements.

Several private groups, as well as the Government Accountability Office (Natural Resources and the Environment Division) want more done to hold supplement makers accountable for the purity of their products. It’s a heated debate, but as more clinicians, consumers, and retailers call for standardized practices for testing, producing, and marketing DS before they go on the market, the more confident we all can be about what we’re buying.

It is important to be an informed consumer:

  1. Read labels and understand what the terms on the label actually mean (See Diagram). Ingredients you don’t want to see include fillers, dyes, lead, dextrose, titanium dioxide, and magnesium stearate.
  2. If it sounds too good to be true, chances are, it probably is
  3. Look for a Quality Assurance seal of approval: Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and the U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP).
  4. Purchase products from your healthcare provider or a reputable company.
  5. Research the product / company on the Internet: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM). Look for product recalls and scams:  FDA Health Fraud Scams & Tainted Supplements.

Your best source of educational support is your health care practitioner. Particularly a healthcare provider that is educated in nutraceutical use!


Spiced Pumpkin Bread

Adapted from Bon Appétit Fast, Easy and Fresh cookbookpumpkinbread

Yield: 2 loaves

Preheat oven to 350°F

Butter and flour two 9x5x3 inch loaf pans


  • 3 c. gluten-free flour mix (I’ve also played with subbing  1 1/2 c. coconut flour, I think almond flour would work here too)
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1-2 tsp ground cinnamon (I really like cinnamon!)
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2- 2 c. raw sugar or honey (depending on sweetness level desired)
  • 1 c. high oleic sunflower oil or organic butter
  • 3 large eggs (room temp)
  • 15 oz. (1 can) pure pumpkin
  • 1 c. chopped walnuts (optional)


Sift first eight ingredients into a large bowl. In second bowl, beat sugar and oil to blend, and then add eggs and pumpkin. Mix well. Stir dry ingredients into pumpkin mixture in two additions, just until blended*. Add nuts, if desired.

Divide between loaf pans. Bake approximately 1 hour 10 minutes, or until tester inserted into center comes out clean. Transfer to racks and cool in pans for 10 minutes. Cut around sides of pan with a knife to loosen. Turn loaves onto rack to cool completely.

* on an honest/lazy note, I really put ALL the ingredients into the mixer and mix all at once.


It’s October – PUMPKIN season!!

pumpkinFor those of you that don’t know, I’m a HUGE pumpkin fan! Fall decor, yummy treats and picking out my pumpkin to carve, I love it all!

From Shakespeare’s reference to “pumpion” in The Merry Wives of Windsor to The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, pumpkin is woven into the fabric of history and cuisine. Native Americans roasted long strips of pumpkin over an open flame and ate them. Colonists made pumpkin pie by slicing off the pumpkin top; removing the seeds; filling the rind with milk, spices, and honey; and then baking the pumpkin over hot ashes. And we all know pumpkin transforms into Jack-o-lanterns for Halloween decor. Today, we appreciate pumpkin not just for culinary traditions, but also for its abundance of nutrients and versatility in healthy meal preparation, such as soufflés, stir-fries, soups, bread, jam, butter, and desserts.

A member of the Cucurbitaceae family of vegetables (along with cucumber and squash), pumpkin is cultivated around the world for both its fleshy vibrant orange meat and seeds. It is a naturally low calorie (49 calories per one cup serving), yet filling food that offers the following health benefits:

Health Benefits

  • Pumpkin contains no saturated fats or cholesterol. It is rich in dietary fiber, antioxidants, minerals, and many antioxidant vitamins, including A, C, and E.
  • It is also an excellent source of many natural polyphenolic flavonoid compounds such as beta-carotenes, lutein, and zeaxanthin. Carotenes convert into vitamin A inside the body. Zeaxanthin is a natural antioxidant that may offer protection from age-related macular disease.
  • Pumpkin is a good source of the B-complex group of vitamins including niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), thiamin, and pantothenic acid.
  • It is a rich source of copper, calcium, potassium, and phosphorus.
  • Pumpkin seeds provide dietary fiber and pack a powerful mix of protein, minerals, and vitamins: 100 g (1 cup) of pumpkin seeds provide 559 calories, 30 g of protein, plus folate, iron, niacin, selenium, and zinc.

Stay tuned for pumpkin recipes!


Don’t Let Food Labels Give You Indigestion

labeslWhen you are cruising the grocery store aisles, you probably flip over a few items to scrutinize their nutrition labels. But do you understand what you’re looking at? Most people don’t! I try to educate my patients on what to look for and the government is working on updating the label to reflect today’s nutritional concerns and include more realistic serving sizes, but until that happens, use the diagram included with this article to help make quick, informed food choices that contribute to a healthy, balanced diet. Also, remember these helpful tips:

  1. Nutrition information is provided for one serving of a food or beverage. Many products contain more than one serving. If a serving size is one cup, and you eat two cups (or the whole package), then you must double (or more than double) the calories, fat, sugar, and other ingredients to get an accurate estimate of how much you’ve eaten. If you’ve eaten a smaller portion than what is on the label, calculate accordingly.
  2. Pay special attention to the amount of sugars (including carbohydrates) in one serving. This is especially important if you have diabetes (or other health concerns) that require you to monitor sugar intake or the glycemic index of foods.
  3. Check out the amount of fat, especially saturated fat, in one serving. Fats contribute to many chronic health problems. Trans fats are also labeled because they are known to contribute to “bad cholesterol,” which contributes to heart disease. Choose foods that are low in these fats. However, some foods, like nuts, have high fat content, but the source of fat is actually good for the body–it’s not a saturated or a trans fat.
  4. Be aware that “0” does not mean zero! It means less than 5% per serving!
  5. In addition to understanding the nutrition label, take a look at the list of ingredients. If you cannot pronounce the words that are listed on a food label, it’s likely coming from chemicals and processed (unnatural) elements that are not healthy for the body. Some of the items you want to avoid include:
    • Preservatives including BHA, BHT, brominated products
    • GMO – genetically modified organisms, common in corn and soy derivatives
    • Dextrose
    • Xanthan gum
    • Hydrocarbons (pesticides PCB, DDE, DDT)
    • Soy and cottonseed oil
    • Dyes (e.g., yellow dye no. 5, tartrazine)
    • MSG – monosodium glutamate (common in canned foods and Asian cooking)
    • Food allergens – if you or family members have a known allergy to peanuts, wheat, soy, or gluten

If you are in a hurry and can’t take the time to read labels, do your best to avoid packaged (bag, box, or bottle) foods. Instead, buy fresh foods and “eat a rainbow everyday” (e.g., fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, cheese, yogurt). Also, choose water, tea, or juices with no sugar added. For more colorful food ideas, you can like my Facebook page!

Finally, pay attention to what’s happening in the news … in July 2015 the government proposed a new nutrition information panel for food labeling. The public is invited to provide comment.


Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis)

elderberryFor millennia, physicians and herbalists have found medicinal uses for all parts of the elder tree, including its wood, leaves, flowers, and berries. The branches of this native European plant were believed to cast off evil spirits. Leaves were used in ointments to heal wounds. Flowers and berries were used to make wine; infusions were a common treatment for colds and rheumatic conditions. Today, herbalists and holistic physicians commonly recommend elderberry for its immunity-boosting properties.

Elderberries are rich in vitamin C and flavonoids that act as antioxidants and exhibit anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have shown that elder extracts may inhibit the replication of viruses.

Elderberry syrup is made from an extract of elder fruits. Lozenges are often prepared with zinc and other herbs. Both are commonly used to help tame colds, coughs, and relieve flu symptoms. Syrups and lozenges are available on the market, but always check with your personal wellness practitioner to be sure it is a quality product and you are taking an appropriate dose.

Important caution: Unripe berries are not safe to eat nor are the other parts of the elder plant. Since elderberry stimulates the immune system, it is not recommended for people with autoimmune conditions.


  • Duke, J. A., et al. Handbook of Medicinal Herbs. 2nd ed. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2002. 267-268.
  • Johnson, R.L., S. Foster, T. Low Dog and D. Kiefer. National Geographic Guide to Medicinal Herbs: The World’s Most Effective Healing Plants. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic, 2012. 71-73.

Zinc for the immune system

zincNext to iron, zinc is the most common mineral in the body and is found in every cell. It has an important role in the workings of the muscular system, reproductive systems in both men and women, and proper insulin and thyroid function.  It is one of the main minerals I recommend to boost the quality of sperm in my fertility patients. Zinc is also a catalyst for the vitality of the skin and wound healing. However, zinc is probably best known for supporting the healthy functioning of the immune system.

Several studies have shown that zinc lozenges or syrup reduced the length of a cold by one day, especially when taken within 24 hours of the first signs and symptoms. Studies also show that taking zinc regularly might reduce the number of colds each year, the number of missed school days, and the amount of antibiotics required in otherwise healthy children. New studies are also looking at how the body uses zinc and whether or not taking zinc can improve the treatment of celiac disease, diabetes, and inflammatory bowel disease.

There are several forms of zinc, but not all are easily absorbed or appropriate for every person. The two best forms are zinc gluconate, and zinc citrate. According to the National Academy of Health Sciences, the need for a zinc supplement varies based on age, gender, pregnancy status, and other health factors. Zinc can interfere with the actions of some medications and can even affect the utilization of other minerals, such as copper. It’s best to first consult with your wellness practitioner before taking zinc.

Though we recognize zinc as an immune stimulant, care needs to be exercised as too much zinc may actually inhibit immune function as well.  Zinc can be dosed orally, taken through lozenges, or at times we place zinc in IVs to boost a patient’s immune system in times of sickness.


  • Hulisz, D. “Efficacy of Zinc Against Common Cold Viruses: An Overview.” Abstract. Journal of the American Pharmacists Association 44, no. 5 (2004).
  • National Academy of Sciences. Institute of Medicine. Food and Nutrition Board. “Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium, and Zinc.” Report. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 2001.
  • Seaman, A. “Zinc May Shorten Common Cold but Side Effects Common.” Reuters website. Accessed July 2015.
  • University of Maryland Medical Center. “Zinc.” Reviewed June 30, 2011.

Better than Chicken Soup recipe

chickensoupImmunity Boosting “Better than Chicken Soup”

This immunity-boosting soup is made with a virtual garden of powerful ingredients (in bold) that contain beneficial nutrients for your immune system:

Turmeric adds a subtle flavor and a beautiful yellow color. The active ingredient is curcumin, a powerful antioxidant.

Black pepper also has antioxidant properties.

Cayenne pepper can clear congestion due to the main active compound capsaicin, which has anti-inflammatory properties.

Shiitake mushrooms are rich in vitamins and minerals and contain unique phytonutrients that contribute to good health.


  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 8 fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
  • 4 cups low-sodium mushroom, vegetable, or chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups finely sliced kale
  • 1 cup cubed butternut squash
  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 6 slices astragalus root (optional)
  • 1 fresh lemon, Juice of
  • 1 teaspoon miso


  1. In a sauce pot over medium-high heat, add oil and cook onion and garlic, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes.
  2. Stir in turmeric and mushrooms, and cook 2 minutes more.
  3. Add broth, kale, squash, ginger, cayenne, and astragalus. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer 15 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and let cool slightly, add lemon juice and miso. Cover and let sit 5 minutes before serving.

Nutrition Information per Serving: 90 calories (5 from fat), 0.5g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 160mg sodium, 19g carbohydrate (6g dietary fiber, 5g sugar), 2g protein

  • Whole Foods Market Recipe


Natural Ways to Prevent and Treat Colds & Flu

unnamedWhen it comes to cold and flu season, prevention really is the first line of defense. To keep your body’s defense system–the immune system–in peak condition, follow our immunity-boosting tips to help your body fight off the bugs looking for a host. And, for times when you are feeling ill, the second set of tips can help ease your symptoms and support a quick recovery.


Cold & Flu Prevention Tips

Your immune system is at work 24/7! The best approach to supporting immune function is a healthy lifestyle that includes stress management, exercise, whole foods, nutritional supplementation, and the use of plant-based medicines. On a daily basis, you can take the following steps to help your immune system keep you healthy:

  1. Wash your hands regularly to help prevent transfer of bacteria.
  2. Stay clear of people sneezing or coughing. Avoid shaking hands or other close contact with anyone whom you know to be sick.
  3. Make sure your home and work space are well-ventilated. Even on a cold day, open a window for a few minutes to clear out stale air.
  4. Follow a consistent sleep/wake schedule so the immune system can repair and recover.
  5. Drink plenty of water and eat a balanced diet that includes a variety of fruits and veggies, which contain antioxidants that help the body neutralize cellular damage.

Healing Tips

  1. Rest. Sometimes the body’s only way of getting your attention is to force you to slow down by getting sick. Don’t push through fatigue. Honor your body and sleep/rest as needed to promote healing. Reduce activity at home and at work as much as possible.
  2. Increase fluid intake to include water, diluted vegetable juices, soups, and herbal and green teas.
  3. Eat light meals and eat more soup. Whether you choose a vegetarian broth or a heartier bone-broth, soups for healing should be loaded with a variety of herbs and veggies.
  4. Manage stress. Even just 10 minutes of meditation a day has positive effects on the immune system and promotes a positive mindset.
  5. Laugh–it truly is good medicine. Patch Adams was onto something when he brought humor to his patients’ bedsides. Read a funny book. Watch stand-up comedy. Share jokes with a friend or your kids. Laughter lowers the stress hormones and elevates your mood–both are good for healing.

Vitamin, Mineral, and Botanical Support for the Immune System

There’s no panacea, but a growing body of research has shown that certain vitamins, minerals, and plant-based supplements can help prevent/curtail the symptoms of colds and flu. Some that you may want to include are listed below. Talk to your practitioner as these suggestions must be tailored to your specific needs and health status.

  • Multivitamin and mineral formula
  • Vitamin C
  • Bioflavonoids, 1000 mg/day
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin D, 2000 IU/day
  • Zinc, 30 mg/day
  • Echinacea, elderberry, and astragalus (tea, capsule, or liquid extract) help prevent common cold and viral infections. Physician-scientists continue to study the immune-enhancing effects of these and other botanical remedies.



  • Balaji, P. A., S. R. Varne, and S. S. Ali. “Physiological Effects of Yogic Practices and Transcendental Meditation in Health and Disease.” North American Journal of Medical Sciences 4, no. 10 (October 2012): 442–448.
  • Besedovsky, L., T. Lange, and J. Born. “Sleep and Immune Function.” Pflügers Archiv European Journal of Physiology 463, no. 1 (January 2012):121-137.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “What You Should Know for the 2015-2016 Influenza Season.” Accessed July 2015.
  • Kachko, R. “A Pillar of Optimal Health: The Immune System.” American Association of Naturopathic Physicians website. April 14, 2015.
  • MacDonald, C.M. “A Chuckle a Day Keeps the Doctor Away: Therapeutic Humor and Laughter.” Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services 42, no. 3 (March 2004):18-25.
  • Gaby, A. (2011). Nutritional medicine. Concord, N.H: Fritz Perlberg Publishing.
  • MedlinePlus. “Chicken Soup and Sickness.” Accessed July 2015.
  • Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. “Natural Medicines in the Clinical Management of Colds and Flu.” Accessed July 2015.
  • Pizzorno, J. E. and M.T. Murray, eds. Textbook of Natural Medicine. 4th ed. St. Louis: Elsevier Science, 2013. 516-524.

Seed Cycling for Hormone Support

Seed Cycling/Rotations for healthy hormone balance

Back to the principle of “you are what you eat”… the diet so readily affects the body, including the hormones.  Certain foods are known to have a direct effect on the body’s endocrine system, more specifically – seeds!  We already knew they were full of healthy fats and proteins, but certain seeds can help push hormone pathways helping to establish normal hormone balance in the body.  It is a much gentler approach that

A little about the seeds…

Flax seeds (linum)  Flax is one of the best plant-based sources of alpha-linolenic acid, which converts in the body to the same heart-protective omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon, sardines, and mackerel.  Flax contains both soluble and insoluble fiber (approximately 3 grams total fiber per tablespoon), which promotes intestinal health.  In addition, flax seed is one of the richest dietary sources of lignans and phytoestrogens that are thought to protect against cancer of the breast, prostate and colon in addition to balancing reproductive hormones.

Flax is safe for almost everyone (including women who are pregnant or breastfeeding), although its mild laxative effect may bother people with inflammatory bowel disease. You must grind these tiny, hard-shelled seeds or they will pass through the body undigested.

Flax meal has a sweet, nutty flavor and tastes delicious when added to cereals, soups, salads, grains and smoothies.  You can also bake flax meal into muffins or bread, but keep in mind that when flax is heated it is more susceptible to spoiling and reduces the omega-3 content.

Chia seeds (salvia)  No, you will not grow green hair like the chia pets!  In addition to a surplus of omega-3 fatty acids (more than what is in flax) chia also is very rich in antioxidants which keep the healthy oils from spoiling.  Chia provides a great source of fiber and protein as well as a plethora of minerals. No need to grind, but does grind well with flax.

A great recipe for [tapioca-like] chia pudding: soak overnight 1/3c chia seeds, 1 pinch salt,  1/4 tsp vanilla and 1 cup milk alternative (almond, coconut, rice, etc) – may add 1tsp of maple syrup to sweeten to taste and/or add fresh fruit if desired.

Pumpkin seeds (seronoa)  Pumpkin is also a great source of healthy oils, antioxidants, protein, and minerals.  In addition to this is also contains large amounts of phytosterols which help lower bad cholesterol levels.  It contains an enzyme called alpha-5 reductase which helps modulate androgen levels, making it helpful for male health and females with higher androgen conditions such as PCOS. Pumpkin also contains phytoestrogens and also has a strong anti-inflammatory properties in the reproductive tracts, especially the prostate.

Pumpkin is more stable than flax, but best in raw form – ground or whole, makes a great snack or topper for a salad!

Sunflower seeds (helianthus)  Sunflower seeds also have healthy oils, phytosterols, fiber, proteins and minerals as the other seeds above, but tend to push the progesterone pathway in females, and thus are recommended during the second half of the cycle.

Sunflower seed butter is a great alternative to peanut butter, but I’ve also used sunflower seeds in pesto recipes!

Sesame seeds (sesamum)  Sesame seeds also are a rich source of lignans and antioxidants, healthy oils, phytosterols, and minerals as the other seeds above, but tend to push the progesterone pathway in females, and thus are recommended during the second half of the cycle.

Hummus is my favorite go-to for getting in sesame seeds – tahini (sesame seed butter) is used in the base along with garbanzo beans.

Organic bulk seeds are sold inexpensively at natural food stores and now many ‘regular’ grocery stores as well.  The whole seeds (especially flax) should be stored in the refrigerator.  Grind them as you go, or grind up to a ¼ cup at a time in a blender or a coffee grinder dedicated to seed grinding.  The ground seeds should be refrigerated in an airtight, opaque container, where they will keep for up to 30 days.  

Some seed cycling protocols*…

Females of childbearing ages  The female reproductive cycle traditionally follows a lunar (28 day cycle), with the first 2 weeks focused on estrogen building a lining to the uterus and then causing ovulation and the second 2 weeks focused on progesterone and sustaining the uttering lining.  Supporting the female cycle bi-phasically (in 2 phases) is important to maintain reproductive balance and regularity.

Flax/Chia – equal parts (or choose one) fresh ground 2 T a day for the first 2 weeks of the cycle (new moon to full moon).

Sunflower/Sesame – equal parts (or choose one) fresh ground 2 T a day for second 2 weeks of the cycle (full moon to new moon).


Females postmenopausal  After menopause, female ovaries essentially stop producing estrogen, this is a natural occurrence.  During this time in life, we focus on supporting the body with phyto-estrogens (plant based estrogens) to mitigate the body’s decreased supply**.

Flax/Chia – equal parts (or choose one) fresh ground 2 T a day

Females in post menopause may also use other seeds (sunflower, sesame) but emphasis should be placed on flax and chia.


Males Though male hormones may not “cycle” to the extent of the female hormones, that is no reason to not support the male hormones and reproductive tracts with seeds that are known to combat things like benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) and other male health related issues.

Pumpkin/Chia– fresh ground 2 T a day

Males may also use a rotation of the other herbs listed, but emphasis should be placed on pumpkin seeds.

*not an all-inclusive list; many hormone-related health conditions may require more specific protocols or additional therapies.

**adrenal support may also be warranted due to the adrenal gland assisting in sex hormone synthesis, which is an especially important function post menopausally.

Natural support for increased success of IVF and egg harvesting.

IVF and egg harvesting:
Considering these options? Want a better chance at success? Consider taking steps to improve both egg and sperm quality and increase your chances of a successful harvest/transfer.

The Why
Egg harvesting has become quite the craze in the US over the past decade. There are many theories as to why this might be, a few of the common ones include:

More females focusing on “career first”. Interestingly enough, Facebook, Citibank and several other big companies are now offering to pay for their female employees to harvest their eggs, presumably with the idea that they will focus more on their careers. (1)
Higher infertility rates – the CDC estimates (as of 2013) that the percentage of females ages 15-44 with impaired fertility is 10.9% (2) and the National Center for Health Statistics shows an overall decline in fertility rates since 1990 (3). Though these are correlations and not causative studies, I believe that the amount of exogenous hormones and toxin exposures leading to more endocrine imbalances and thus more impaired fertility for US females and males.
Not finding the “one” and wanting to preserve the chance of having biological children.
Financial gain for egg donations

This is by no means an all inclusive list of reasons, but merely a synopsis of what I see most frequently in my office.

The How
Thinking of harvesting your eggs? Considering IVF? Here are a few more things to consider before jumping into the process.

Egg harvesting typically takes place in two phases, phase one: ovarian hyperstimulation and phase two: retrieval. During phase one, a female usually takes daily injections of hormones both to suppress some of the pituitary hormones and to stimulate the ovaries to produce more immature eggs. Phase two then involves multiple ultrasounds and blood tests, along with a final hormone injection to stimulate ovulation before the eggs are harvested via transvaginal ultrasound. (6)

Eggs may then be stored in temperature control climates indefinitely OR be used for in vitro fertilization (IVF). With IVF the eggs are then inseminated by either adding sperm and letting fertilization happen or injecting sperm directly into the eggs. They then wait for embryos to form and develop properly, before transferring them into a woman’s uterus via catheter. Progesterone shots are typically recommended for the next several weeks to help maintain the uterus during early phases of conception. (5)

Side effects of IVF can include the myriad of menopausal-like symptoms of: hot flashes, mood swings, vaginal dryness, abdominal swelling. More severe side effects, though rare, can include kidney damage, blood clots, structural abnormalities and even death. Frequently, cycles may be irregular after the hormone therapies. For many patients, these side effects are short-lived; however, for others they can cause a greater impact and require more care to abate. (6)

The costs
Estimated cost of egg harvesting is somewhere in the realms of $10,000 plus a $500/year storage fee. This pricing doesn’t account for the fertilization fee and transfer which can easily run another $5000. (4) Estimated average cost of IVF procedure in the US is around $12,000 plus an additional $3-5000 of medications. (5)

Success rates with both IVF and egg harvesting vary depending on several factors, some that can be manipulated (ex: diet and lifestyle) and some that cannot (ex: age).
“According to the Society of Assisted Reproductive Technologies (SART), the approximate chance of giving birth to a live baby after IVF is as follows:
41 – 43% for women under age 35
33 – 36% for women age 35 – 37
23 – 27% for women ages 38 – 40
13 – 18% for women age 41 and over” (7)
Males, you aren’t off the hook here… male infertility rates also seem to be on the rise, with the CDC reporting, “Of men who sought [fertility] help, 18% were diagnosed with a male-related infertility problem, including sperm or semen problems (14%) and varicocele (6%).” Amongst other medical conditions, the CDC further states that the major causes of male infertility also include unhealthy habits (ex: smoking or drinking too much alcohol) and environmental toxins(8), both which we can combat with proper nutritional support and lifestyle choices.

What more can be done?
IVF success obviously depends on the quality of the embryo being implanted, which leads us back to the quality of sperm and egg from the get-go. Here is where naturopathic medicine comes in. There now are numerous studies demonstrating improvements with fertility rates when proper nutrition is in place; this is also why OB’s instruct you to take a prenatal vitamin if you are trying to get pregnant. Males may also be instructed to take vital nutrients to promote sperm health. However, there is so much more than a prenatal vitamin that your body needs to produce the most vital, healthy and viable eggs, sperm and embryos possible.

Several studies are recommending the use of key nutrients such as CoQ10 and other antioxidants to both preserve stores of egg and sperm and prevent oxidative damage to the cells. One study even suggested a 6.5% increase rate of pregnancy in the CoQ10 group. (9) Supplementing DHEA, a precursor hormone in the body, has also shown promising results in optimizing hormones, increasing pregnancy rates, and decreasing the chance of miscarriage. (10) There are several other important nutrients that have been shown to increase success rates of pregnancy, sperm maturation/motility, egg harvesting and IVF; testing for someone’s micronutrient status may also be a helpful tool in the process. Consider consulting with your Naturopathic Physician for more complete recommendations or with help restoring normal function to the body post fertility hormone treatment.


Full IVF package includes:
Full naturopathic fertility intake of both partners
Treatment plans for both partners
Food sensitivity and Micronutrient* testing for both partners
Recommended supplementation for 3 months
1 follow up visit for both partners
Acupuncture PRE and POST implantation**

Partial IVF package (female only) includes:
Full naturopathic fertility intake & treatment plan
Recommended supplementation for 3 months
Acupuncture PRE and POST implantation**
optional Food sensitivity and Micronutrient testing

Full Egg Harvesting package includes:
Full naturopathic intake and treatment plan
Food sensitivity and Micronutrient* testing
Recommended supplementation for 3-4 months***
1 follow up visit

*pricing for the micronutrient test is reflected of co-pay price with insurance; cash pay pricing is an additional $100.
**includes up to 3 implantation sessions
***fourth month includes recommended detox regimen to help aid the body in rebalancing after the fertility hormones should the eggs at that time.

1. Company Paid Egg Freezing Will Be the Equalizer. Time.
2. CDC
3. Population Reference Beaurea
4. NPR
5. Resolve. National Inferitly Association
6. Egg Donor Information Project
7. Medline
8. CDC – Infertility:
9.Coenzyme Q10 Supplementatyion and Oocyte aneuploidy in Women Undergoing IVF-ICSI Treatment. Pub Med:
10. Center for Human Reproduction:

Mouthful of Mercury?

I have seen patients with various complaints from: infertility, anxiety, depression, chronic sinusitis, high blood pressure, fibromyalgia, and many autoimmune disorders, test very high for heavy metals, including Mercury. Though mercury exposure can come from several sources (fish, thimerosal vaccine preservative, coal fumes, etc) – dental amalgams may prove to be a source of chronic exposure if they are in your mouth!

Dental fillings, aka amalgams, are typically made from liquid (elemental) mercury combined with a powder of several other metals. Mercury is a heavy metal and also a known neurotoxin, or brain and nervous system disruptor. Acute exposure to this type of mercury is known to cause: vomiting, difficulty breathing, cough and bleeding gums. However, according to the National Institute for Health (NIH), long-term exposure, can lead to “…permanent lung damage or death. You may also have some long-term brain damage from inhaled elemental mercury.”(1) This long-term exposure could be due to the daily exposure of having amalgams in the mouth. The longer they have been there, the longer the exposure.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “When amalgam fillings are placed in or removed from teeth, they can release a small amount of mercury vapor. Amalgam can also release small amounts of mercury vapor during chewing, and people can absorb these vapors by inhaling or ingesting them. High levels of mercury vapor exposure are associated with adverse effects in the brain and the kidneys.”(2)

In addition to this, it is noteworthy to consider the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), concept of energy meridians running through the mouth. TCM, which dates back over 5000 years, studies the occurrence of energy lines (meridians) that run through the body. When these meridians become blocked, stagnant, or the current is not flowing optimally, one’s health is affected. Since these meridians also run through the teeth, and mercury is a positively charged ion, the change in current around the amalgams could theoretically affect the overall health status of the body.

It should also be mentioned, that if pregnancy is on the horizon, a fetus will concentrate the toxic load (including the accumulation of heavy metals) of a mother. With Austism, ADD, ADHD and various other neurological disorders in children on the rise, why not keep our exposures to a minimum?


GMO foods = Genetically Modified Guts?

The other day before entering Whole Foods, I was asked to sign a petition… it was to mandate labeling of GMO on food labels.

So what’s the bid deal? Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) has been a good thing for food production has it not?

The idea of GMO was to produce more virulent crops that were resistant to viruses, herbicides, pesticides, and etcetera. Which also means a farmer can use a lot more toxic spray and the crop will still survive… but will we?

GMO foods have been in use in the US since the 1990’s and of date very little research has been done on their safety in human diet. One study that has looked at the implications of GMO food and our health has found that our gut flora (beneficial bacteria that are supposed to be in our guts to help us digest and assimilate our nutrients) is now carrying genetically modified DNA.

So your gut is now resistant to viruses, pesticides… why is this bad? Again, we need our gut flora to digest and absorb – if our flora is not operating correctly our entire body and health is at risk. Most of our immune system is located in our guts; without proper flora, one’s immunity is low making them more susceptible to illness. As if being sick isn’t scary enough – most of our feel good hormone (neurotransmitter – serotonin) is also produced in the gut, so now you are sick and unhappy. Without your flora, you will not have the nutrients your body needs to function or heal; in short, you would be a hot mess!

Unfortunately, there currently is no labeling mandate to let you know that you are genetically modifying your gut. The biggest crops/foods to look out for are: soy, corn, potatoes, and canola – if available, try to find these products with a “non-GMO” label. And, continue signing those petitions!

Body Cleanse – Detox

Fall Cleaning for the Body

body cleanse or detoxSpring and fall, or the shifts of seasons are great times of year to get in a body cleanse or detox.  Like it or not, with eat passing season our bodies pick up more and more of a toxic burden.  We are exposed to so many chemicals and pollutants in our everyday lives that it isn’t hard to fathom why we just don’t feel as lively or energetic in our adulthood as we did during childhood.

Even when we are trying to be healthy – there are so many hidden things in our foods (PCB’s are latent in non-organic butter, many canned foods and farmed salmon), cosmetics (aluminum in deodorants, SLS in soaps, PCB’s in makeup – check out:, and even our drive to work can build up toxins in our systems.

To keep our systems clean and healthy, many naturopathic doctors recommend taking steps to detoxify the body.  I typically recommended doing a detox/cleanse twice a year as maintenance, and offer several different cleanse approaches.   Some easy and short others longer and more intense.  Maybe for some, just going gluten-free for 10 days and for others, maybe we are chelating heavy metals.

I chelated my heavy  metals this spring and now I currently am in the midst of a 10 day gentle cleanse.  I will admit, though I recommend spring and fall, there really is no “good” time to do it.  There are always events: dinners, weddings, vacations that you don’t want to happen during a cleanse, and inevitably, if you plan for it, something will definitely come up.  It takes a fair amount of will power to commit to several days of bland dieting and detox proteins when friends and family are starting to enjoy the fall flavors.  But, my naturopathic medicine mind knows that my body will thank me for it – 5 days in and already feeling clearer in the mind!

Dr. Laura Lambert

Teaching the Heart…

Where do you feel anxiety?  Where do you feel love?

Where do you feel anxiety?  Where do you feel love?The membrane that lines/protects the heart (pericardium) physically anchors into the muscle that controls your breathing (diaphragm). This means that deep breathing tenses/massages the heart muscle.

Our hearts also produce several peptide hormones for us (most of which help regulate blood pressure); deep breathing can stimulate the secretion of these hormones to directly affect blood pressure. These hormones can also bind to the limbic system of the brain (where emotions come from) and thus influence our mood.

Did you know that over half of our heart cells are neural cells, similar to the cells in the brain? Think about practicing the piano or a sport… the more we practice, the more efficient we get Levitra.  This happens because more connections are made between the neural cells.  Our heart can do this too.

This means if we focus on the deep breathing/massaging breaths and concentrate on feelings of love and joy, the heart will become more efficient at experiencing these positive emotions.  Conversely, if we are constantly stressed and experiencing feelings of anxiety or panic (often associated with shallow breathing) we could actually be helping our heart learn to be more efficient at feeling those emotions.

Several studies have documented a multitude of positive benefits associated with deep breathing.  I have been challenging my patients to commit to a minimum of two minutes a day to focus on positive emotion and deep breathing.  I challenge you to do the same!

Gluten Free?

To Agree or Disagree?

Bad-Mouthing Gluten by Katy Steinmetz
Dr. Laura Lambert’s commentary:

Gluten – a protein comprised from the amino acids gliadin and glutenin, and found in high quantities in our wheat products, is not inherently bad.  I agree with the author, it is high protein and full of nutrients.  However, due to it’s over use in our typical American diets, many of us have developed a food “sensitivity” to gluten.  Our guts are over-exposed to gluten as it is in almost every packaged product on the market along with breads, pastas, crackers, spices, etc.

Often times (strictly) removing gluten from someone’s diet for a period of a week or more results in less pain and five or more pounds of weight loss!

Since many people eat these products several times a day, our guts start to view it as a foreign invader to our immune systems.  This process can trigger our bodies retain more water, bloat, have headaches, joint pains, etc.  Food sensitivities can affect our bodies up to five days after eating the offending food! Often times (strictly) removing gluten from someone’s diet for a period of a week or more results in less pain and five or more pounds of weight loss!

That being said, now that the marketing companies have caught on to this, the “gluten-free” products available have increased.  I agree with the author, that the problem resides in the fact that most of these ‘gluten-free’ products are very refined and produce little or no nutritional benefits.  They are often lower in protein content and higher in sugar/carbohydrates.  The average consumer does not take this into account, and could actually gain weight by eating too many products like this.

What I often recommend is for people to take gluten out of their diets for a trial period of at least 10 days, note how they feel and make a decision based on that. I usually recommend making your own gluten-free foods!  I understand that process isn’t for everyone, so as a disclaimer: Food labels still need to read and adequate nutritional balance obtained.  Additionally, food sensitivity testing can be done to determine more specific offenders in a person’s diet.

BHRT – Bio Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy

As women age, and approach menopause, our body’s natural hormone production from the ovaries dwindles, and thus ensues the dreaded menopausal symptoms.   These symptoms include, but are not limited to:  hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, fatigue, mood swings, irritability, anxiety, depression, gastro-intestinal upset, decreased libido, vaginal dryness, weight gain, skin changes and cognitive or memory decline.  Many women unnecessarily struggle with these symptoms for years, which can negatively impact their overall quality of life.

The primary female hormones associated with menopausal symptoms are estrogens and progesterone.


Estrone (E1) is the most common estrogen produced post-menopausaly, though is 12 times weaker than the most commonly prescribed estradiol (E2).  Conventional hormone replacement often prescribes E2 by itself, which may increase one’s risk for adverse effects, namely cancer. Estriol (E3) is our weakest form of estrogen, with specific affinity to the vaginal tissue. Recent studies have demonstrated that E3 given in conjunction with E1 may decrease breast tissue proliferation, thus being cancer preventative.

Estrogens are known to decrease cardiovascular disease and atherosclerosis and reduce the risk of osteoporosis, or bone loss.


Progesterone works together with estrogen to alleviate menopausal symptoms.  It is considered a natural mood elevator, or antidepressant and has also been shown to help normalize blood sugar imbalances, thus alleviating cravings and potential weight gain.  More specifically, progesterone protects the uterus from too much proliferation from the estrogen, thus preventing uterine cancer.

Bio Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT) uses hormones derived from natural, plant based sources and offers a safer option to synthetic hormones.  Bioidentical hormones are most frequently administered in a topical cream, and are tapered to each patient’s needs, allowing for maximal absorption with the least amount of adverse effects.

Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy serves not only to alleviate menopausal symptoms, but may also decreases risk of osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease and some cancers.  BHRT has also been shown to increase HDL (the body’s ‘good’ cholesterol), promote overall longevity and can act as a very potent Anti-Aging agent!

Start feeling better. Sleep better. Eliminate hot flashes and mood swings. Increase your libido. Reclaim your body and your vitality! Contact Dr. Lambert to find out if Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy is right for you.

Anti Aging Trifecta

We all know the dreaded effects of aging.  There are the typical visible signs: wrinkles, sagging skin, decreased luster; and also changes such as decreased stamina/energy, weight gain (an average of 10 lbs a decade) and increased risk of cardiovascular and other chronic diseases.  Fortunately, we are finding out how to combat these effects naturally!

Anti Aging TrifectaThe Trifecta:

Trans-Resveratrol (found in the skin of grapes, and thus red wine) has been shown to an effective antioxidant, anti-cancer, and pro-hormone balancing agent.  It decreases inflammation, keeps blood thin and is not only protective to heart tissue, but may in fact increase life span (1).

D-Ribose (an important part of our ATP/energy production) has been shown to increase endurance, decrease muscle fatigue and soreness.  It also increases the efficiency of the heart muscle and may prevent heart attacks (2).

Ubiquinol (a major antioxidant for heart tissue and other organs) is shown to decrease with age (3).  Supplementing with this form of Co-Q10 has been shown to increase energy, promote healthy circulation, improve cognition, and even boost immunity (4).

The combination of these three supplements has been shown to help improve our cellular metabolism, reverse and prevent weight gain, decrease risk factors for chronic illness and increase energy and stamina for your life.  Patients have even demonstrated weight loss without altering their current diet and exercise regimens (5).
1.Resveratrol – Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University
2.Metabolic supplementation with enhanced external counterpulsation improves myocardial function in acquired cardiomyopathy: a case report.
3.Age-related changes in plasma coenzyme Q10 concentrations and redox state in apparently healthy children and adults.
4.The Single Most Crucial Nutrient to Energize Every Cell in Your Body
5.Aging Metabolism

Increasing Energy (ATP) – D-ribose

I find that as we age, our bodies have a tendency to put on weight, have more aches and pains, and our risk factors for heart disease increases.  We may eat the healthiest diets, and we may get adequate exercise… why then are we still plagued with these issues? D-ribose might be one of the key factors in staving off heart disease and those dreaded pounds that keep adding up.Increasing Energy (ATP) - D-ribose

Cellular metabolism decreases with age for a variety of reasons.  We stress our bodies with crazy schedules, we are exposed to toxic elements in our environments, we don’t always make good food choices, etc, etc… inevitably, our cells are going to get tired.  How do we combat this unavoidable cellular fatigue? Most of the answer lies within our mitochondria, the cell’s energy (ATP) producer.

By supplementing the body with D-ribose we can actually increase the energy  (ATP) output from our cells.  Increased Adenine Triphosphate (ATP) supports our bodies in a few ways.  First, it can actually increase our metabolic rate, without having to increase our workouts.  Because of the energy production, D-ribose also promotes our endurance during athletic activity and thus may be very indicated for athletes.  Secondly, since it actually takes slightly more cellular energy for our bodies to relax (or stop a muscle contraction) than it does to make the muscle contract, D-ribose has been documented to decrease muscle fatigue and soreness post workouts.  In this same fashion it has been demonstrated to decrease pain in fibromyalgia patients and promote energy in chronic fatigue patients.

Much research is available on the cardiovascular benefits of D-ribose as well. Our heart, arguably the most important muscle in the body, contains massive quantities of mitochondria in its cells due to the need for a constant energy supply (our hearts don’t get to rest).  When the heart muscle gets fatigued, we are at increased risk for things like heart disease, heart attacks, or congestive heart failure.  D-ribose can work to prevent heart conditions and the help heal past occurrences.

Safer to start estrogen sooner?

Should I start estrogen sooner?Some research is now suggesting that starting estrogen therapy around the age of menopause/perimenopause is safer than waiting until years after. Starting estrogen therapies at onset of menopausal symptoms has been shown to be neuro-protective (preserves nerve and thus cognitive/brain funtion).  This is an important thought in prevention of diseases such as Alzheimer’s Dementia or even depression/anxiety.   Also, due to it’s lipophilic (fat loving) nature, estrogen can concentrate in our fat-rich cell membranes, increasing their fluidity and improving cellular function.  This is part of the reason that estrogen therapy can enhance mood, improve skin elasticity and improve many of the dreaded menopausal symptoms (hot flashes, weight gain, irritability, insomnia, etc).  In addition to the cell regulatory effects, estrogen has been shown to be an inflammation modulator by acting as a COX2 inhibitor (like aspirin) in the brain.

However, research is also showing that starting hormonal therapies years into menopause, comes with significant more risk and does not provide the same neuro-protective functions as starting support earlier.

Phytoestrogens (plant based estrogens) are also demonstrating similiar neuro-protective properties and can safely be used to correct menopause-related imbalances.

Female Body – Gynecology

Female Body - GynecologyOften times patients come in for their annual Well Women’s Exams (WWE) and have no idea what their body is all about. This is particularly true in the adolescent population.  Many times when a patient comes in for their very first PAP smear, they are anxious about the ‘unknown.’ As a Naturopathic Physician, it is my job to educate patients about their body’s. WWE should not be a scary experience, it should be a time when females appreciate their body and learn about it.

I was introduced to this incredible book, Body Drama by Nancy Redd – which takes time to explain the female body and all that it may entail.  I recommend it for my patients or anyone with questions about their body.

Kiva Loans for the Holidays

This year I want to give thanks to a great friend of mine that introduced me to Kiva giving!  Kiva is a company that operates under the mission “to connect people, through lending, for the sake of alleviating poverty” – and recently made Oprah’s favorite things list.Kiva Loans for the Holidays

I purchased my first Kiva loan a couple months ago, and have given several out for the holidays.  They make excellent gifts, allowing the receiver to choose which loan they’d like to fund.  Please give back this holiday season, I will give $25 off new patient visits with the purchase of a Kiva loan.

Learn more about Kiva loans at:

Turmeric for Arthritis

In the past few months (maybe due to the snow birds, maybe not) I have seen more and more patients with joint aches and pains.  Though acupuncture and fish oil help immensely (and are usually included in my joint pain treatment protocol), I have found a great amount of success with Turmeric!  Yes, the same spice found in a lot of Indian food, only at a medical grade consistency and potency.Turmeric for Arthritis

Curcumin (Latin name of Turmeric) has been show in multiple studies to decrease joint inflammation (arthritis) in the body.  There is a growing amount of evidence indicating its use for inflammation in general. Interestingly enough, there are also some promising studies in the treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease and even cancer.

Just last week I had a patient with Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis.  After one treatment of acupuncture and starting to take high strength Turmeric and fish oils each day, I was amazed at how much easier her gait was on her visit this week and how she could feel the difference upon taking the Turmeric.

I trust in the herbs, but I also like to experiment on myself.  The last couple weeks I have been increasing my running and for several days I was waking up with sore hips, I began taking Curcumin capsules before bed, and again I’m amazed at the difference!  I love natural medicine!!

Of course, this gets me thinking… can I just cook with turmeric and get the same results?  The answer, YES!! Which I have done, but the amount of turmeric needed in your cooking (and on a daily basis) to get the same results gets a bit excessive… however, I would recommended adding it to meals whenever possible to get some powerful antioxidant effects.  Be warned however, that it will stain almost anything bright yellow!  (I did use it last year in a tiny amount to color frosting for holiday cookies!)

I Want Bio Identical Hormones (BHRT) but do I need them?

Many patients call in asking for Bio Identical Hormones, seeking relief from the dreaded menopausal symptoms such as: hot flashes, insomnia, fatigue, weight gain, decreased libido and irritability.

“Suzanne Somers did it, that’s what I want.”  This is frequently what I hear, as patients reach out for the latest anti-aging craze.Bio Identical Hormones

Yes, I do use Bio Identical Hormones in my practice and YES they often help alleviate many of the symptoms often associated with menopause.  However, some of us are not candidates for hormone replacement therapies and some of us do not want the risks associated with their use.  Alternatively, many other natural therapies many be utilized with outstanding results.

As our bodies approach menopause, our ovaries naturally decrease their production of two very important sex hormones: estrogen and progesterone.  Lack of these hormones is what brings on many of the menopausal symptoms.  Luckily, our bodies have another gland that helps us pick up some of the hormone slack as we approach and enter menopause.  Our adrenal glands take over some of our sex hormone production as the ovaries fail. Our adrenal glands also produce several other hormones, including those that regulate our stress response, such as cortisol and adrenaline (epinephrine).

Unfortunately, most of us live high stress lives, we work, take care of our families,  eat poor diets, without enough sleep or exercise!  We often rely on stimulants like caffeine to keep us going.  This means we are always taxing our adrenal glands (where adrenaline – needed for our stress response- is produced).  After a while, our adrenals may become ‘fatigued’ and hormone production is decreased, exacerbating our symptoms.  Additionally, the hormone cortisol is produced in our adrenal glands. Cortisol raises under stress conditions and if it remains high, it can inhibit sleep, increase carbohydrate cravings and prevent weight loss.

Naturally, making sure our adrenal glands are healthy is a good first step in treating menopausal symptoms.  Fortunately, many natural products, namely herbs (botanical medicine) and vitamins nourish the tissue of our adrenal glands and often,  patients experience a complete alleviation of symptoms and do not need Bio Identical Hormone therapy.