Category Archives: Natural Medicine

The 5 Supplements Everyone Should Be Taking

I’ll admit, I’m not a big pill pusher.

I am wary of any health professional that pushes something on everyone, and in response to not wanting to be ‘that person’ I’ve taken a very passive approach to supplement recommendations. I also hate, hate HATE taking pills myself. It wasn’t until I was pregnant just this last year that I was able to get on a consistent supplement regimen myself! Thankfully, knowing I needed to nourish my son was enough of a motivator to get me over my aggravation of swallowing pills and get the habit going. I’ve finally gotten over it, and am able to get my daily doses most if not all days of the week. Even though I’ve not pushed them upon others, I honesty believe we all need to be supplementing our diet. My own lack of consistency and concern for appearing to be a pill-pusher led me to be quieter on the subject than I should have been. I’m just coming to realize this now.

It’s a sad truth given the state of our lifestyles and our planet that supplementation has become necessary. For more in depth reasons why I believe you should be supplementing your healthy diet, check out this post I wrote on Why You Need Supplementation. There are several supplements that I believe almost everyone needs to be taking. They are as follows:

1) Vitamin D – here’s the deal. Unless you are supplementing with Vitamin D there’s a 90% chance you are deficient. Even if you live in Florida. We are not outside often enough and liberal use of sunscreen have caused our sun-stimulated vitamin D production to drop off significantly. The foods we consume which are fortified with Vitamin D are not supplementing enough to prevent deficiency. You’ll want to ask for a Vitamin D3 test from your doctor or Naturopath to determine your levels; don’t be surprised if it’s recommended you supplement with 4,000-10,000 IUs.

2) Basic Multivitamin – Given that the topsoil is sitting at the bottom of the ocean and most fields are only fortified with a few minerals and given that we all tend to gravitate to the same ten to fifteen foods and don’t get a wide variety of foodstuffs it’s safe to say that we’re probably low on one or more nutrients supplied by a multivitamin. Don’t go out and buy a one-a-day form Costco, though. You’ll want to make sure what you are taking is actually absorbable. Choose pharmaceutical grade supplements from companies such as Thorne and Pure Encapsulations. My personal favorite is from Thorne; they supply a form of folate that is absorbed even if you have a MTHFR gene mutation (up to 60% of the US population is believed to have this mutation); ensuring your vitamin is doing all it can to stave off high homocysteine, depression, and PMS.

3)Probiotics – I personally take a high dose probiotic (25-50 billion CFU) along with regular consumption of fermented foods (sauerkraut, kombucha, etc) to keep my gut flora balanced and happy. Depending on your own digestive health and lifestyle, you may wish to do one or the other. The role of probiotics in overall health is just beginning to be explored. In the future we will be able to recommend certain gut bacteria for certain conditions; in the meantime I believe it is best to get a wide variety from many sources. Choose a probiotic with varying species and begin at 25 billion CFUs. Probiotics which are kept refrigerated are often of higher quality and viability than those stored on the shelf. If you prefer to eat your live cultures you’ll find several recipes for Kombucha here, here, and here. As I get more skilled on my kraut and cultured veggies I’ll be posting more recipes on this blog and in our newsletter.

4) Omega-3 Fats – you can choose fish oil, fermented cod oil, or krill oil. I’m not yet sold on just one. Some of my mentors believe that krill oil is better absorbed, so smaller doses can be taken (some research indicates this); others prefer krill due to the overharvesting of fish species. Fish oil is more readily available. If you have no chronic inflammation taking 2-3 grams of omega 3s from fish oil daily is a great place to start. If you have chronic inflammation you’ll want more – talk to a healthcare practitioner for appropriate dosing. If you are on blood thinners or preparing for surgery it is important to consult with a healthcare professional about your omega-3 supplementation.

5) Magnesium – like vitamin D, most of the population is magnesium deficient. Lack of green leafies and poor soil quality is, I believe, the largest contributor. 200 mg, of a chelated form of magnesium (I like magnesium glycinate) is a great place to start and will not disrupt bowels. Prepare to find yourself sleeping better and more relaxed throughout the day! Adding these to the diet can go a long way in creating a body that has all the tools it needs for abundant health. If you have any questions about these supplements or wish to have a conversation about which may be right for you comment below or consider scheduling a complimentary consultation with one of our nutrition coaches!

EDITED 09/2017

After experiencing unsettling discrepancies in supplements ordered off Amazon I have decided to exclusively use Fullscript when I cannot order directly from the company myself. Fullscript offers most of the pahrmaceutical grade supplements you are used to seeing in your NDs office: Thorne, Pure Encapsulations, Metagenics, and more! You’ll find all my recommendations here as well:

Purchase products through our Fullscript virtual dispensary.

The Miracle of Bone Broth

Bone broth has been used in most cultures as a restorative and healing food. It is used to heal the sick, mend injuries, restore strength and  promote health. As the values of processing became associated with purity in the early 20th century America potent medicinal foods such as organ meats and bone broth became passé. There are some schools of nutritional thought that point to the loss of “scraps” from the diet as contributors to disease and tooth decay that are the norm in modern culture.

Mineral Rich Bone Broth

 

After much experimentation, I have found a bone broth of my own making that I am very excited about. It is dark, rich, and flavorful. It includes ingredients long forgotten but highly valuable in healing. And, it’s very easy to make, requiring little prep or clean-up.

 

  • 2 pounds of scrap bones (soup bones, chicken carcass, marrow bones, etc)
  • 3 chicken feet (I completely understand if you choose to omit; but these add high amounts of collagen and other nutrients to the broth)
  • 3-5 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 carrots, sliced lengthwise and coarsely chopped
  • 2 parsnips, cut lengthwise and coarsely chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, leaves included, coarsely chopped
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, sliced
  • 1/2 onion
  • 3 pieces of wakame (sea veg that is rich in iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and other trace minerals)
  • 1/4 cup dulse flakes (sea veg that is rich in iodine, trace minerals and  fucoidans for healing injuries and tissues)
  • 1/4 cup nettles (optional)(western medicinal herb rich in iron and silica as well as vitamins C and K, soothing to GI tract and beneficial for building strength and robust health in a stressed or injured body)
  • 6-8 peppercorns
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 8 cups of water
  • 2 tbsp. vinegar (critical – it’s acidic nature is key to pulling minerals from deep within bones)
  • 1 tbsp. fish sauce (adds a nice depth of flavor)

 

OPTIONAL: Roast bones in 400 degree oven until browned – 5-10 minutes. This roasting will add depth of flavor to the broth.

1) Crush garlic and set aside to allow allicin to form.

2) Place veggies and bones into slowcooker pot. Add herbs, sea vegetables and spices.

3) Cover with water and vinegar.

4) Set slow cooker on low for 24-36 hours.

5) Strain broth, discarding vegetables. Bones may be saved and reused if desired.

Makes 2 quarts of broth.

 

For maximum healing, consume 1 -2 cups of broth per day, as a liquid, soup, or through cooking it with other foods. To learn more about using foods to speed healing of injuries or for post-surgical recovery, visit www.nutritionforinjury.com

“OMFG, Are-You-For-Real” Decadent Chocolate Pudding

I’m 25 days into an allergy elimination diet and I feel like I am going mad.

(She looks just like me, minus the Tammy Faye Baker mascara streaks and the bruise on my forehead from banging my head on my desk.)

This diet, offered by my friends at Metabolic Effect, is a more extreme version of my detox plan and it is designed for digestive healing – something I have wanted to undertake myself on a deeper level for several years, but until now it hasn’t been the right time and place in my life to do so.

So I jump in gung-ho last month and eliminated a laundry list of common foods that would make your wince, PLUS any food not on that list that I eat three or more times per week. (adios, chicken!) I quickly discovered that most of the spice blends I rely upon for flavor had forbidden elements to them. So I’ve been leaning on salt and pepper and am bored to tears tonight with any options I have available to me.

Some of this is poor planning on my part – I got too wrapped up in work to ensure my fridge was stocked full of fun foods on the okay list. I plowed through my exotic meats and haven’t made it back to the butcher to get more. (BONUS – I have tried kangaroo and elk this last month! I may go for the water buffalo next. Not sure what to do with python meat, but I want to try it…so much fun!) Thus the last few days have been piecing together pathetic excuses for a meal from the back of my cupboard, trying to make do with something satisfying if I am eating out (so far, this is impossible) and trying not to say “the hell with it!” and stuff brownies into my mouth while I am making macaroni and cheese and melting ice cream in the microwave so I don’t have to worry about brain freeze.

Ahem.

One of the things that has kept me sane is the recipe I am sharing below. It feels SO NAUGHTY that I don’t even want to get fresh strawberry pie or ice cream or a latte (okay, maybe I still want a latte) or any of the other treats I have whined about the last 3 1/2 weeks. I’m counting my lucky stars that this plan said nothing about eliminating cocoa powder, so I have been relishing this pudding spoonful by spoonful. It is thick, creamy, sweet enough to satisfy and so quickly made I feel like I am cheating somehow. Whether or not you are on a food restricted meal plan, you simply MUST make this decadent dessert and share it with your favorite people!

“OMFG, Are You For Real” Decadent Chocolate Pudding (gluten,soy,dairy,egg and sugar free)

1 cup coconut cream, 1 ripe avocado, 2 tbsp. cocoa and 6 dates.

Yeah. That’s it.

Throw everything but the dates into a blender, then add the dates one at a time until desired sweetness is achieved.

SO TASTY.

Not one to keep a recipe as is, I decided to adjust my second batch to bring in some protein and reduce the sugars from the dates. I added 1 scoop of Vega Sport Performance Protein powder – an excellent soy-free, vegan protein powder that is my favorite choice right now. The recipe turned out slightly different but just as good, and I was able to reduce the amount of dates to 2 due to the stevia in the Vega Sport.
That recipe is as follows:

1 scoop Vega Sport Performance Protein Powder

1 avocado

1 1/3 cup coconut cream (more liquid is needed to offset the dry powder)

2 tbsp. cocoa powder

1 tsp. vanilla (optional)

2 dates, pitted.

Repeat the process above.

For those following the Metabollic Effect Plan, or understand hormonal carbs, there are only 6 grams of hormonal carbohydrates per serving (a generous 1/4 of the recipe). This is rich enough that I am quite satisfied with a honking spoonful, so I end up with about 8 or so servings each time I make it.

Alas, I have no ripe avocados at the moment. But soon. Soon. This recipe will be the key to making it over the next few weeks.

Tonight, however, begins food prep night. Pounds of produce grilled, roasted, and baked. A couple of salmon fillets that will get the standard salt and peppering, and yummy yams for something sweet until the avocado ripens.

 

 

Adventures in Medicinal Nutrition: The Law of Similars

Stunting is dangerous work.

Do not try this at home.

In preparing for a big show, I’ve been learning all sorts of new acrobatic moves, many of which involve highly ballistic moves that my tendons and ligaments aren’t quite accustomed to doing.

I poorly executed a stunt in practice the other night (see right) and strained some of the ligaments in my lower leg upon landing, resulting in more acute injury on top of the accumulating chronic stress of practice. With a big stage performance 5 days away, it was time to pull out all the stops and get a little crazy in the kitchen.

 

In homeopathy, there is a concept called the law of similar. It essentially means “like cures like”. For the purposes of nutrition, we see this in a cut carrot, which looks like an eye, complete with iris – and is good for eyesight. A tomato, is red and contains four chambers – just like our hearts. Tomatoes are packed with vitamins and lycopene, which has been shown to reduce heart disease risk. Walnuts look like little brains (with right and left hemispheres!) and contain omega-3s and other nutrients which facilitate the creation of neurotransmitters and overall health in the brain. These examples are all around us and have been used as signs in the food as medicine model for thousands of years.

For the purposes of building up my tendons and ligaments, I went straight to the source. I went to my local organic butcher and brought home about 3 pounds of lamb knuckle and marrow bones.  Nothing will give my body the building blocks for collagen and bone like collagen and bone! I boiled them into a stock for several hours with herbs, salt and pepper, then removed them, folded them in a kitchen towel, and proceeded to pummel them with a hammer.

Lesson one: Knuckle bones are tougher than I am.

I can take this! I'm tough enough!
Bones: 3pts. Aimee: 1pt.


Despite an overall failure, I was able to chip some of the firm tissue off the knuckles, and broke a leftover turkey leg bone to pull out the marrow inside. I wrapped the bones in cheesecloth and set them back inside the broth to stew with the veggies I was going to add. (Note – if you try this, make sure it is not on tile or easily damaged surfaces! Also – try a sledgehammer and wear goggles. That may work better. While your Vitamix may make some headway on the bones, it isn’t worth the risk of damage to the container)

Tendons and ligaments need several nutrients to maintain their integrity. Sulfur, vitamin C, Vitamin K, and many others. I added seaweed to the broth to increase the mineral content, and chose cruciferous veggies for the bulk of the stew. Cruciferous veggies such as cabbage, cauliflower, and bok choy contain sulfurophanes, which break further down into sulfur when eaten. Sulfur plays a key role in creating connective tissue. Bok choy also contains large amounts of calcium – and the calcium present is better absorbed than the calcium in dairy products.

To season the stew, I added turmeric, cumin, and ginger. All these herbs are powerful anti-inflammatories and contain wonderful compounds that facilitate overall health. Your spice cabinet is a veritable medicine chest!

The result – pretty good! Admittedly, I’ve never sat down to eat something like this before, but I do prefer to eat my nutrition whenever possible. I am not stopping there, though.  My arsenal for anti-inflammatory, connective tissue healing includes the following, daily:

3-6 packets of Emergen-C per day (or divided doses of Vitamin C to 6,000mg)

1 tbsp fish oil

1500 mg. bromelain, divided into 3 doses, taken on an empty stomach (when taken with food, it acts as an enzyme. When taken alone, it gets into the GI tract and acts as an anti-inflammatory)

6 oz. Zrii – an Ayurvedic blend which has a high antioxidant, anti-inflammatory effect on the body and helps reduce the stress response physically and mentally

 

Now, if crushing bones on the back porch isn’t your style, you can purchase collagen as a supplement to add to this regimen, or make aspics – those popular jello molds from the 60’s and 70’s that graced many a potluck. Aspics are made with gelatin, which is derived from the bones and tendons of animals (how’s that for a new take on Jell-o?)

 

I’ve also gotten acupuncture, received reiki, and had my ankles braced most of the time for the last 4 days with alternating heat and ice applications. All this commotion in the kitchen doesn’t take away from the basic principles of Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation (RICE)!

So far so good! The test comes on show day (tomorrow) … I will be taped for extra support and will continue this regimen for the following 6 weeks or so (about the time it takes for ligaments and tendons to heal).

Why You Need Supplementation

I am a strong advocate of supplements. While I am not alone in this idea, there is a strong contingency of holistic nutritionists who are very opposed to the idea of supplementals. So I will share with you the reasons why I feel strongly about this, so that you have the ability to make a more informed choice for yourself:

1) Our food quality has gone to hell – Agribusiness has cut down forests and depleted praires, allowing nutrient dense topsoil to dry out and blow away in the wind, ending up at the bottom of the ocean. This is of great ecological concern as one inch of topsoil can take 500 years to form naturally.(1) An apple today contains almost 15-40% less nutrition than it did in 1950!!! (2) The nature of how we grow food – maximum yield in minimum time – is blamed for this. Also to note – conventional produce uses fertilizer which contains 3 minerals – Carbon, Phoshorus, and Potassium. There are FAR MORE nutrients essential to good plant and human health!

2) And – you’re not absorbing as much as you think you are! Antibiotics (via prescription or polluted water/animal products), stress, lack of mindfulness, adequate chewing and low nutrition all prevent our bodies from properly absorbing nutrients, so even if your diet was perfect, your ability to ABSORB your nutrition may not be. Certain supplements can facilitate nutrient absorption by boosting the effectiveness of the digestive system.

3) Pollution taxes the system and creates additional nutrient needs – agribusiness is also a huge contributor to pollution, in addition to industry in general. Our waterways are polluted, our soil is polluted, and our air is polluted. This has been very noticeable to me, as I was raised in Alaska, which has the cleanest air and water in the country. If you live in the city and do not travel much, you may not realize how poor the environment you live in is. Pollution is poison, and it takes our cells and organs extra energy and nourishment to be able to detoxify unhealthy compounds that we are continuously exposed to. Antioxidants, phytochemicals, and key vitamins and minerals for cell, liver and lung health are key to keeping your system operating optimally!

4) You are under more stress than you think – and that means you need more nutrients! Even if you do not feel stressed, you are likely working too hard, sleeping too little, are nutrient depleted and overstimulated by lights, media, and the hullabaloo of modern living. We have ancient bodies that are coping marvelously well given the copious stimulation of modern society! Stress – be it physical, mental or emotional; conscious or unconscious – taxes the adrenals, which then need additional vitamins and minerals to produce hormones for normal functioning. Just being nutrient depleted puts stress on the body because it is trying to cope without tools it needs! You can see how this can be a powerful negative feedback loop that leads to chronic disease ten, twenty, or thirty years from now?

5) The RDAs were made to prevent gross deficiency, not achieve optimal human health – Nutrition is a very young science – we did not even know vitamins existed until about 100 years ago! The RDA’s were made to prevent extensive diseases that were becoming common at the time – rickets, beriberi, scurvy and the like. The RDA’s were created looking at DISEASE, not looking for OPTIMAL HEALTH. Since they were first created, many revisions have been made and we are discovering that most of them are likely far too low. Vitamin D is a common nutrient we are deficient in – the NEW RDA is set to 600- 800 IU, (3) but clinical treatment of low D stores is upwards of 50,000 IU. Given that over 90% of the country is low on Vitamin D, what we are getting supplementally clearly is not enough. Low Vitamin D is linked with autoimmune disorders and cancer … conditions we were not looking for in 1905.

6) Even if RDA’s were enough – you still aren’t meeting them! All that said, we are still not even meeting the RDA’s! Less than 15% of Americans are getting enough of at least one nutrient (Vitamin E). Chances are, every single one of us is consistently lacking in at least one nutrient. Supplementation is an inexpensive way to give your body an extra boost considering your health and energy is the most valuable gift you have!

Check out my other blog posts on how to determine supplement quality and the top supplements you should be taking. You can order high quality, GMP certified and even pharmaceutical grade supplements through Fullscript, below.

Purchase products through our Fullscript virtual dispensary.
Sources:

(1) http://earthleaders.org/publications/stress_topsoil

(2) http://www.nowfoods.com/?action=itemdetail&item_id=43732

(3) http://www.vitamind3-cholecalciferol.com/vitamin-d-rda.htm

More Info:

http://www.organicconsumers.org/ofgu/vegies121205.cfm

http://www.xylzw.com/nutrient-bombardment/

The Magic of Herbs

This post is part of FoodRenegade’s Fight Back Fridays, a blog carnival promoting the Real Food Revolution

Herbs have been used for centuries to not only flavor our meals, but to provide powerful medicine to keep the body healthy and strong. Below are some of the medicinal properties of herbs commonly used in cooking. Growing fresh herbs in your home is a wonderful way to not only give your food spectacular flavor, but boost your immune system, prevent food poisoning, and give your body powerful plant medicine!

Bon appetite!

Oregano: oregano is a strong antimicrobial, antiviral and antifungal. The aromatic oils in this herb offer natural food preservation due to these qualities, and have been used for thousands of years to treat bad breath, arthritis, cough, wounds, and bacterial & fungal infections. Oregano also has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities as well and may prevent cellular damage.

Basil: Basil is great for cardiovascular health, promoting lowering of cholesterol, stable blood sugar, and supporting the body’s ability to cope with stress. It contains triterpenoids (similar to ginseng, eleuthero) giving the body resistance to internal and external stressors. It has sedative, calming qualities and is often prescribed to alleviate anxiety (Holy Basil specifically is renowned for this). Traditionally it has been used for stomach aches, nausea, mouthwash, headaches, urinary complaints, and healing infection. Like oregano, it contains many antimicrobial properties and has powerful amounts of antioxidants.

Rosemary: a natural mood booster and energizer, rosemary has been used in aromatherapy for centuries to facilitate memory and boost mood. Medicinally, this herb have been used to soothe and facilitate the digestive tract and reduce anxiety. In ancient times, many Western cultures wrapped their meat in rosemary to retard spoilage. Rosemary can also be added to oils and used to massage achiness out of sore muscles.

Sage: Crushed leaves can be applied to wounds to speed healing. Sage is also reputed to be a powerful antiperspirant. It is the sacred cleansing herb of the Native Americans and is used to cleanse both body and environment of physical and spiritual impurities. Sage tea helps regulate menses and the herb in cooking helps reduce inflammatory conditions (arthritis, asthma, arterial damage). It also has been shown to improve brain function (citation)

Cayenne: as anyone who has tasted it knows, cayenne is potent! It has a strong ability to bring circulation and movement to the body, benefiting the joints (it’s an ingredient in many arthritis creams), heart, and speeding healing. Cayenne can be sprinkled in your socks on a cold day to keep your feet warm and is an essential addition to natural cold and flu therapies. It helps expel mucus from the body, kill infections and stimulates saliva and stomach secretions to improve overall digestion.

Cilantro: this herb is commonly seen in salsas and guacamole. Like the other medicinal plants listed here, cilantro is a great digestive assistant and reduces gas. It has been used traditionally to ease anxiety and (for what it is worth) one study with mice supports this. (Can we rule out the placebo effect here?) In the United States, the leaves of this plant are known as cilantro, its seeds are known as coriander.  Dodecenal, a compound found in the fresh leaves, is shown to kill the Salmonella bacteria. It seems logical that its popularity occurs in regions where heat (Mexico, India) cause rapid spoilage.

To get started on your own indoor herb garden, click here!