Category Archives: immune system


Could You Have Scurvy (even Though You’re Not An 18th-century Pirate)?

What is Scurvy?

Scurvy is a disease caused by a vitamin C (ascorbic acid) deficiency.

Without vitamin C, the body is unable to synthesize collagen necessary for wound healing and healthy skin, bones, teeth, joints, and blood vessels.

Vitamin C is also a powerful antioxidant that effectively fights free radicals and prevents oxidative stress throughout the body.

In addition, it plays a critical role in adrenal and thyroid function.

Scurvy Symptoms

If you’re not eating fresh fruits and vegetables regularly, then you’re likely at risk of developing scurvy. This should be your first clue.

Other early warning signs and symptoms include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Muscle spasms, cramping or pain
  • Brain fog
  • Diarrhea
  • Weakness
  • Fever
  • Bruising
  • Wounds that won’t heal
  • Bleeding or swollen gums
  • Tooth decay or tooth loss
  • Weight loss
  • Coiled hair
  • Skin rashes or red spots
  • High blood pressure
  • Depression

Resurgence of Scurvy

In the 18th century, scurvy caused the teeth of sailors to fall out due to a lack of vitamin C in their diet aboard ship. However, it appears scurvy isn’t just a disease of the past.

Based on data collected between 2003 and 2004, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found 6 to 8% of the general population had a vitamin C deficiency severe enough to qualify as a scurvy diagnosis.

Between 2009 and 2014, almost 25% of patients admitted to a hospital in Springfield, Massachusetts with unexplained symptoms were diagnosed with a vitamin C deficiency.

In the United Kingdom, the rate of scurvy-related hospital admissions increased by 27% between 2009 and 2014.

And a researcher at a Diabetes Center in Australia documented more than a dozen cases in recent years as well.

Why is Scurvy Making a Comeback?

This resurgence is surprising to doctors and health officials because the amount of vitamin C needed to prevent scurvy is relatively low. For example, one large orange or one bowl of strawberries a day provides enough vitamin C to do the trick.

But the sad truth is that more and more people don’t regularly eat fresh fruits and vegetables. Or, if they eat these foods at all, they are either from a package or overcooked, which almost entirely diminishes the vitamin C content.

Other modern day factors may also deplete the body of vitamin C, which includes:

  • Chronic stress
  • Environmental toxins
  • Illness
  • Injury
  • Synthetic hormones and birth control pills
  • Steroid medications
  • Diuretics
  • Aspirin

It’s also worth noting that a well-functioning digestive system is necessary to properly digest and absorb vitamin C (and all other nutrients) from food. Thus, with the rise of gastrointestinal diseases and dysfunction, this could also be a contributing factor.

Best Sources of Vitamin C

Uncooked, fresh fruits and veggies are the best sources of vitamin C. Those you can enjoy raw with the highest vitamin C content include:

  • Papaya
  • Bell peppers
  • Broccoli
  • Strawberries
  • Pineapple
  • Oranges
  • Kiwi
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cauliflower
  • Kale
  • Cabbage
  • Grapefruit
  • Raspberries
  • Tomatoes

And in the case of a vitamin C deficiency, it may be necessary to supplement with collagen until optimal levels are reached. 

In Conclusion…

Scurvy, a condition caused by a severe vitamin C deficiency, is making a comeback around the world mostly in part to our modern way of life. This means your risk may be real even though you’re not an 18th-century pirate.

Therefore, it’s important to consume fresh vitamin C rich fruits and vegetables every day to prevent a vitamin C deficiency and the development of scurvy.

References
National Institutes of Health – Vitamin C Fact Sheet for Professionals
Pelton, R. (2001). Drug-induced nutrient depletion handbook. Hudson, OH: Lexi-Comp.
Scurvy makes surprise return in Australia. (2016, November 29).
Scurvy Is a Serious Public Health Problem. (2015, November 20).
The World’s Healthiest Foods – Vitamin C

The Healing Powers Of Bone Broth (plus Recipe)

Have you ever been told to eat a bowl of chicken soup when you’re sick?

I bet you have. But do you know why?

It’s truly an ancient tradition. But the truth is, not all chicken soups will do the trick. Especially those found in a can.

Traditionally chicken soup was made by simmering vegetables, meat and bones to create a nutrient rich broth (a.k.a. bone broth). However, most commercial soups today simply use broth made from water and chicken “flavor.”

Bone broth has been used throughout humankind for its rich flavor and healing powers. Many cultures use it to cure illnesses, such as colds and flu. In fact, bone broth is sometimes referred to as Jewish penicillin. It’s also been prized for its ability to treat conditions related to the digestive tract, skin, joints, lungs, muscles, and blood.

And fortunately, bone broth is making a comeback.

Bone Broth Nutrition

Bone broth contains a soup (pun intended) of health promoting nutrients in highly absorbable forms. Thus, it’s much more potent (and enjoyable) than taking a variety of synthetic supplements.

Below are several key nutrients in bone broth along with their health benefits:

Minerals

Minerals are essential to life. They play many important roles in our bodies, such as nerve signaling and the initiation of most enzymatic processes in our bodies. They also impact the health of our digestive system, heart, cells, and bones.

Bone broth is rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicone, sulfur, and a variety of trace minerals.

Amino Acids

Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins and have numerous responsibilities when it comes to our health. Bone broth specifically contains high concentrations of glycine and proline.

Glycine acts as an antioxidant, which protects our cells from free radical damage. It also aids in detoxification as well as wound healing, digestion, sleep, memory, and performance. It keeps our muscles strong and is used to make glutathione (another powerful antioxidant).

Proline is essential for healthy skin and joints. It also helps to repair the lining of the digestive system.

Collagen and Gelatin

Collagen is a protein found in bones as well as other connective tissues. Its name comes from the word “kolla,” which means glue. Essentially, its main role is to hold the body together.

When collagen dissolves in water, it forms gelatin. Gelatin has been studied extensively and is often used to heal and soothe the digestive tract, support bone health, overcome food allergies and sensitivities, improve digestion and detoxification, and boost the body’s natural production of collagen.

Glucosamine

Glucosamine lubricates our joints and provides a cushion within them. Expensive supplements are often used to treat conditions involving bone and joint pain, but bone broth is an all natural (and effective) alternative.

Chondroitin Sulfate

Along with glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate supports healthy bones and joints. But it’s also essential for heart and skin health as well as maintaining optimal cholesterol levels.

Chicken Bone Broth Recipe

Bone broth can be made using beef, poultry, lamb, pork or fish bones. There are many recipes available online. Below is an easy to make chicken bone broth recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1 whole organic chicken
    or 2 to 3 pounds of bony chicken parts, such as carcass, necks, and wings plus gizzards
  • 2-4 chicken feet
  • 4 quarts cold filtered water
  • 2 T raw apple cider vinegar
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 shitake mushrooms
  • 1-2 pieces kombu seaweed
  • 1” piece of turmeric root, sliced (or 1/2 tsp turmeric powder)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 12 peppercorns
  • 1 bunch parsley

Directions

If using a whole chicken, cut off the wings and remove the neck, fat glands and the gizzards from the cavity. Cut chicken parts into several pieces.

Place other ingredients into a cheesecloth or jelly bag for easy removal later. Otherwise place carcass and parts in a large stainless steel pot with water, vinegar and all ingredients except parsley.

Let stand 30 minutes to 1 hour. Bring to a boil, and remove scum that rises to the top. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 12-18 hours. The longer the stock cooks the richer and more flavorful it will be. About 10 minutes before finishing the stock, add parsley. This will impart additional mineral ions to the broth.

If using a whole chicken, let cool and remove chicken meat from the carcass. Reserve for other uses, such as chicken salads, enchiladas, sandwiches or curries. Strain the stock into a large bowl and reserve in the refrigerator until the fat rises to the top and congeals. Skim off this fat and reserve the stock in covered containers in the refrigerator or freezer.

Delicious Ways to Add Bone Broth to Your Diet

Cup of Bone Broth
Once you have a batch of bone broth, here are several ways to enjoy it:

  • Sip it plain (or seasoned with sea salt and minced spring onions)
  • Use it in soup, stew, sauce and gravy recipes
  • Use it instead of water or other liquids to cook grains, steam vegetables, make mashed potatoes and bake casseroles

To make a “miso-style” soup, follow this recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 C broth
  • 1 fresh mushroom, diced
  • 1 spring onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup shredded carrot
  • sea salt to taste

Directions:

  1. Heat broth on stovetop
  2. When broth is fully heated add remaining ingredients
  3. Heat on medium 2-3 minutes until all ingredients are warmed
  4. Enjoy!

I also encourage people to pour cooled bone broth into ice cube trays and freeze. Bone broth ice cubes are a great nutrition boosting addition to smoothies. They also give smoothies a thicker consistency.

To sum it up:

Consuming bone broth on a regular basis is probably one of the most beneficial things you can do to support your health.

  • It contains a variety of easily absorbable nutrients;
  • It warms your heart and your soul;
  • It’s easy to make; and
  • It’s absolutely delicious!

 

References:
Bergner, P. (1997). The healing power of minerals, special nutrients, and trace elements. Rocklin, CA: Prima Pub.
Daniel, K. (2003, June 18). Why Broth is Beautiful: Essential Roles for Proline, Glycine and Gelatin [Web log post]. Retrieved January 10, 2017, from http://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/why-broth-is-beautiful-essential-roles-for-proline-glycine-and-gelatin/
Fallon, S. (2000, January 1). Broth in Beautiful [Web log post]. Retrieved January 10, 2017, from http://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/broth-is-beautiful/
Fallon, S., Enig, M. G., Murray, K., & Dearth, M. (2001). Nourishing traditions: the cookbook that challenges politically correct nutrition and the diet dictocrats. Brandywine, MD: NewTrends Pub.
Vital Proteins, Why Collagen, Retrieved March 27, 2017

Avoid Sugar If You Have A Cold

 

I just spoke with a friend, Sarah, who is feeling a little under the weather.  She’s got a bad cold and is generally not feeling well.  She wanted to know if there was anything she could take in addition to orange juice and tea to help her feel better.

Where to get your vitamin C

Most people reach for orange juice when they’ve got a cold.  They’re thinking they need vitamin C and this is their best source.  It’s been shown that vitamin C can prove beneficial in lessening the duration of a cold.  One particular study published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics found that cold and flu symptoms could be reduced by as much as 85% with the administration of megadoses of vitamin C.
 
But orange juice is actually not your best choice.  Yes, vitamin C boosts the immune system, but sugar suppresses it and there’s a lot of sugar in orange juice (approximately 22g per 8 ounces). Even eating fruit is not necessarily recommended as the fruit sugars will still work to suppress your immune system.  If taking vitamin C in supplemental form you’ll need to take several doses through out the day as our bodies don’t tend to absorb more than 1,000 mg at a time.
 
Good non-fruit food sources of vitamin C (not in order of nutrient density) include Brussels sprouts, broccoli, kale, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers, swiss chard, collard greens, spinach, winter squash and green peas.  There are others but these tend to be the highest.

Cold remedies

Other good choices for supporting the system are zinc lozenges and elderberry syrup.  Long considered to be folk remedies, these are being studied for their effectiveness in supporting cold symptoms.
 
According to one study published in the journal BioMed Central:
 
Zinc acetate lozenges shortened the duration of nasal discharge by 34% (95% CI: 17% to 51%), nasal congestion by 37% (15% to 58%), sneezing by 22% (−1% to 45%), scratchy throat by 33% (8% to 59%), sore throat by 18% (−10% to 46%), hoarseness by 43% (3% to 83%), and cough by 46% (28% to 64%). Zinc lozenges shortened the duration of muscle ache by 54% (18% to 89%), but there was no difference in the duration of headache and fever.
 
Another study published in Nutrients which looked at air travelers and cold symptoms, cold duration, and symptoms found:
 
Placebo group participants had a significantly longer duration of cold episode days (117 vs. 57, p = 0.02) and the average symptom score over these days was also significantly higher (583 vs. 247, p = 0.05). These data suggest a significant reduction of cold duration and severity in air travelers.

Traditional hygiene and wellness strategies

These still apply.  We know them but sometimes we get a little lazy.  During cold and flu season be sure to protect your health by incorporating the following:

  • Wash hands, especially after shaking hands or touching door knobs, elevator buttons or stair rails. 
  • Get enough sleep.  Lack of sleep can contribute significantly to reduced immune function
  • Go outdoors.  Fresh air and sunshine are an important part of wellness.  Although we do not get as much vitamin D from the sun in the winter, we’re still making serotonin which can help with Seasonal Affective Disorder.
  • Drink up.  Include soups, fresh juices, and herbal teas to stay hydrated and keep your system functioning well.
  • Eating a colorful diet.  In the winter we have a need for certain nutrients found in the seasonal vegetables.  These would include dark leafy greens and winter squashes.  

Food Intolerance Testing

Food sensitivities or intolerances can cause a number of different health related issues.  Some people refer to them as food allergies.  It’s important to note that this is different than an allergy such as a life-threatening peanut allergy.  A food allergy can be dangerous and may require the use of medication or, in extreme circumstances, an epi-pen.  Food sensitivities can cause significant discomfort but, to the best of my knowledge, are not life-threatening.

I recently noticed several significant changes in my health that lead me to believe I might be developing some food sensitivities.  I realized that I was getting frequent rashes or flushes on my neck, my sleep was more interrupted (I kept waking repeatedly for no particular reason), I also noticed occasional low level aches in my small joints, and I realized I had developed a craving for cheese.  Sadly when we “crave” foods it often turns out that we have become intolerant of them.

Because it had been a while since I’ve had food sensitivity testing I decided it was time to go ahead and retest myself.  A couple of days before Thanksgiving I received my results.  Here is my thought process as I read the report:

  • Strong reaction – honey – “Darn!  My favorite sweetener to deal with seasonal allergies.  I often take a spoonful of raw, local honey in tea to help me through the winter allergy season.  Oh well, I guess I’ll have to give that up for now.”
  • Strong reaction – fusarium vasinfectum (an agricultural fungus) – “Rats!  Hard to deal with.  I’ll really have to be extra vigilant about washing produce and drying it carefully before use.  Time to get out the humidity monitor and make sure the house isn’t too damp.”
  • Strong reaction – sodium benzoate (a preservative) – “Say what?!?!  I’m guessing my exposure is coming from eating on the road because I KNOW I am not eating it at home.”
  • Moderate reaction – Blueberry – “Darn!  My favorite berry.  Luckily there are lots of other berries, I’ll just have to switch for a while.”
  • Moderate reaction – Canteloupe/Honeydew – “Huh?  Another fruit?  I don’t even eat that much fruit to begin with.”
  • Moderate reaction – Cottonseed oil – “Again probably from eating out, I certainly don’t have this at home.”
  • Moderate reaction – Cheese (cow) – “Dagnabit [and yes, I do say this, it’s my favorite “swear” word followed closely by dagnabitall] I was afraid of that.  NO CHEESE!  Seriously!”  [That’s when I realized the craving part was worse than I had thought]
  • Moderate reaction – Raspberry – “Excuse me??  What???  No berries????” [a food sensitivity to more than one thing in a food group often means that there is a reaction to the group as a whole.  For me the berry sensitivity means no acai, blueberry, blackberry, boysenberry, cranberry, elderberry, goji berry, gooseberry, raspberry, and strawberry for months.]
  • Moderate reaction – FD&C Yellow #10 – “Oh man I seriously need to look at how much I am eating out or away from home.”
  • Moderate – Dibutyl Phthlate – “hmmmm, time to look more closely at my personal care products.”
  • Moderate – Ethylene Dibromide (a chemical solvent) – “no earthly idea where I could be getting exposed to this but I’ll have to be more aware of my surroundings.”

These reactions are very similar to the sort of mental gyrations that many of my clients go through when we review their results.  Although a significant reaction requires a six month avoidance of the substance and a moderate one only three months.  I often just ask that they avoid everything for six months.  We also embark on a healing gut protocol.

In my case I’m already doing most of what the healing gut protocol involves, however there are some gaps, especially when I travel.  I’ll be working hard to address those.

However, I’m going to confess that none of this will take place until after Thanksgiving.  The results came after I had planned my menu, purchased food, and started cooking.  I’ll admit that I’m human and not able/willing to completely revamp my holiday menu with just a couple of days notice.  I’m also not thrilled about mashed potatoes with no butter or cream, no homemade cranberry orange relish (made this year with kumquats picked fresh off the tree instead of oranges), no whipped cream on the pumpkin pie/custard.  But believe me, I know how much better I will feel once I start on my new eating plan and clean up my food intolerances.  I also know that the more compliant I am the better I will feel and that in six months it is highly likely that most if not all of these food sensitivities will have gone away.

I’m also very grateful that these are the only food sensitivities that I have.  The test included 212 different potential allergens.  You can see them listed below.

EAB pg 1

 

EAB pg2

 

If you’re interested in finding out if you might need this kind of test email me and I’ll send you my Food Intolerance Test.

In the meantime I’m off to reconfigure some of my menu planning and to recommit to a more complete gut support routine.  I’ll keep you posted on the changes to my nutritional plan.

kombucha scoby - make at home

Making Kombucha

I’m a fan of consuming fermented foods. They’re good for your gut and a very healthy way to add probiotics to your system.  While I certainly don’t make all of the fermented foods that I could, I do make some; I buy others.  The challenge is finding the time to make everything while still finding time for family, work, and real life. One of my favorite foods to make however is kombucha.

This is in part because the price for kombucha has risen to an incredible $4.19 at my local grocery store.  That seems rather steep for A 16 ounce bottle of fermented tea.  Especially when you consider that all you need to make your own is a glass one-gallon jar, some kombucha (or raw and unfiltered apple cider vinegar) to get you started, 8 tea bags, 1 cup of sugar, and water.  All of that will make a gallon of the stuff.  That’s eight pints or more than $32.00 at grocery store prices.  The at home price (not including the cost of the jar) is less than $1.00. It’s definitely worth it to make your own.

Making scobys

The picture at the top is my lovely jar, full of scobys.  That’s an acronym for Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast.  The “pancake” that takes all of the sugar and consumes it while fermenting the tea and adding beneficial colonies to it.  Amazingly enough each time you brew a batch it makes a new “baby.”  Eventually you have so many that you wind up giving them away.  It’s a great way to make friends and share the healthy benefits of this wonderful drink.

The collage directly above is photos of the process of making kombucha.

Secondary fermentation

After my initial batch of kombucha is done brewing I do a secondary brew by adding fruit, sealing the jar, and letting it sit at room temperature for 24 hours. This extracts the sugars (and flavor) from the fruit and makes a fizzy drink at the same time. The longest I’ve ever let it sit is 36 hours because it generates so much fizz I’m afraid to let it go longer, I don’t want to shatter the jar. One of these days I’ll get around to buying a fermentation lock and then I won’t have to worry about exploding jars.

After it’s done I decant the flavored kombucha into recycled kombucha bottles. This time I used strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries.  The blackberries, unlike most fruits, were still firm, pretty tangy, and delicious, rather than bland, sour, and soggy. If you mash them first you get a better flavor in the kombucha but I wanted to try eating them afterwards to see what it was like. Most fruits are not okay and definitely not nearly as delicious as I thought they would be. That’s probably due to the fact that the fermentation process sucks out the sugars from the fruit in order to create that secondary fermentation.

A testimonial

The best thing about kombucha is how healthy it is for you. I recently had a friend visiting who has been having a lot of gut issues. We talked about fermented foods. I happened to need to brew a new batch of kombucha so I showed her the process. She got to eat some fermented foods while she was at my house. I sent her home with a baby scoby and she’s been adding fermented foods to her diet. She says that her stomach has not bothered her once since she started adding fermented foods. Yay for live food!!

If you’d like to know more about kombucha, including specific brewing instructions and recipes using kombucha be sure to get your copy of my ebook.

 

Pasteurize Eggs With Radio Frequency

  Eggs are a wonderful part of a balanced nutritional plan.  Despite all of the kerfuffle about the cholesterol in eggs, it’s a healthy food which provides protein and choline.  Each egg delivers a whopping 6 grams of protein while choline is an essential nutrient.   Part of the b vitamin family it is responsible for supporting methylation as well as overall nervous system health.

However eggs can also be an infection vector especially for salmonella.  I was shocked recently when I gave a talk to discover, chatting with attendees afterwards, that not one of them was aware of the huge recall involving nearly half a billion eggs back in 2010.  I have a couple of articles about that time frame from my blog here and here.

According to the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, “Pasteurized eggs or egg products shall be substituted for raw eggs in the preparation of Foods such as Caesar salad, hollandaise or Béarnaise sauce, mayonnaise, meringue, eggnog, ice cream, egg-fortified beverages and recipes in which more than one egg is broken and the eggs are combined.”  This ruling is for susceptible populations such as the elderly in care home situations, children in preschools, or those who are ill, immuno-compromised, or in hospitals or other health facilities.

Currently in order to pasteurized “raw” eggs they are bathed in hot water for one hour.   In a new process, The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) claims that pasteurizing eggs through radio frequency (heating the egg) followed by a water bath to cool it off will be sufficient to kill salmonella.

Given that salmonella comes from the hen laying the eggs doesn’t it make more sense to treat the hens so they don’t get salmonella?  Unfortunately in this country we prefer to treat the outbreak and the affected ill population.  But it doesn’t have to be this way.  Below is a graphic from the presentation I gave at the Weston A. Price Foundation Regional Conference last weekend.

Screenshot 2014-04-03 14.52.29

 

As you can see from the graphic above, reducing salmonella at the source not only creates a healthier poultry industry, it reduces health care costs.  I’m not sure how much it costs to treat salmonella poisoning for 80,000 people.  And the truth is that may not be an accurate number as no one knows how many cases went unreported.

So while industry may pat themselves on the back for adding another systematic process to food production I have a few issues with this:

  1. I do not consider these eggs to be raw.  Raw means raw, not heated, not radio treated and heated.  True they are marked ‘pasteurized’ but they are not raw.
  2. We are focusing on the wrong side of the equation.  We should be removing salmonella at it’s source.
  3. We are missing an opportunity to reduce health care costs and save lives by changing how we raise poultry (and in Denmark they do it without antibiotics)

The government wars that even undercooked eggs (such as over easy or soft cooked) can be a potential vector for disease.  If you choose to eat raw eggs you may want to consider getting to know your egg farmer and not purchasing from large, confined, commercial egg operations.

photo:  Phichet9707

Endometriosis Explained

March is National Endometriosis Month.  I’m delighted to share an article by my friend and colleague Dr. Amy Day who provides expert answers to your common questions, giving us  important information about this condition which affects millions of women in the United States.  Dr. Amy is also offering a free call to readers of the blog, check out the details at the end of this post.

Screenshot 2014-02-19 19.02.13

Endometriosis, also known as “endo”, is a common condition that far too often goes undiagnosed. Women suffering from pelvic pain, infertility and immune dysfunction are told that the pain is in their heads or that it is normal for a woman to suffer.

Because March is Endo Awareness Month, let’s all get familiar with this condition so we can be on the lookout to help our girlfriends and sisters find doctors who care, diagnoses that are helpful and treatments that work!

Q: What exactly IS endometriosis?
A: This condition is named after the endometrium or inner lining of the uterus. Similar tissue can sometimes grow in the wrong places, outside of the uterus. However, this name is misleading since we now know that endo is a whole-body disease involving the immune and endocrine (hormone) systems, not just the pelvis.

The immune system is unable to control these implants and they release inflammatory chemicals that allow the tissue to grow and cause pain. The tissue is also affected by cycling hormones so every month it builds up and then bleeds. Unlike the menstrual flow, this blood has no way to exit the body, resulting in internal bleeding and pain.

Q: What causes endo?
A: The short answer is that we don’t know. There are theories about retrograde (backwards flowing) menstruation bringing endometrial cells into the pelvis. Another theory is that the tissue moves through the lymph or blood to distant sites. There is a genetic link since the condition tends to run in families. And there is an embryonic theory that it happens when a baby girl is developing in utero.

We also know that there are links with environmental toxins. In fact, researchers use the chemical dioxin to create endometriosis in lab animals, in order to then do testing and learn about the disease. Dioxin is a byproduct of pesticide manufacturing, paper bleaching and waste incineration, so environmental exposure is a factor.

Q: How do I know if I have it?
At least 6.3 million women and girls in the U.S. have endo. The most common symptom is pelvic pain either with menses, during sex, with bowel movements and urination or at any time of the month. About a third of women with endo have difficulties with fertility. Fatigue is very common and many women have other related conditions such as yeast infections, irritable bowel syndrome, allergies and chemical sensitivities.

At this time, the definitive diagnosis is made by laparoscopic (camera inserted through belly button) surgery. In practice, many women don’t want to have surgery and, fortunately, new diagnostic tests are being developed.

Q: If I or someone I know may have endo, what treatment options are available?
A: In conventional medicine, there are strong drugs with many side effects, and there is surgery. Additionally, there is a whole world of natural treatment approaches available to patients.

Dr. Amy’s treatment plans aim to ease inflammation, normalize immune response, reduce pain, balance hormones, optimize gut function, promote detoxification and support effective stress management. This can be achieved through a healthy lifestyle, appropriate diet and exercise, nutritional supplements, herbal medicines and, when needed, bioidentical hormones. This natural treatment approach is safe and appropriate even if the patient “just” has painful periods and hasn’t had surgery to diagnose endo.

Q: How can I learn more?
A: Always be willing to speak up about your symptoms and seek doctors who will listen to you. You can also check out the Endometriosis Association, consider becoming a member to stay informed.

As a personal gift to you check out the free recording “Dr. Amy’s 3 Essential Secrets to a Naturally Pain-free Period.”  You’ll get valuable information and you will also learn more about Dr. Amy and her personal journey.

Dr. Amy is a woman with endo as well as a doctor who treats endo. Her journey has empowered her to learn the most effective natural treatment options for women with this complex condition. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for The Endometriosis Association, has a private medical practice in Berkeley, CA and offers telephone coaching and wellness support to women everywhere via her website www.DrAmyDay.com.

Green Tea And Inflammation

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  I’m delighted to share an article with you written by Dr. Helayne Waldman, co-author of The Whole Food Guide for Breast Cancer Survivors. Dr. Waldman is a holistic nutrition educator in private practice and a consultant to breast cancer clinics and doctors in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Inflammation is your immune system’s natural response to an injury, such as a pulled muscle, or to germs, allergens, chemical irritants, and other threats. Your immune system reacts by releasing white blood cells and chemicals into the bloodstream, which infiltrate your tissues, creating the indicators of inflammation that most of us are familiar with: redness, heat, swelling, and pain. This is a normal and appropriate response; our bodies need to stay vigilant in order to fend off an invasion or injury with aggressive pro-inflammatory mechanisms, such as clotting, fever, and swelling. But too often, inflammation becomes a chronic condition, and in this state, we leave ourselves more vulnerable to breast cancer occurrence and recurrence.

An important characteristic of chronic inflammation is its relationship to angiogenesis, the development of new blood vessels that serve to feed a tumor. While this too is a natural and normal process, it is also one that tumors can hijack to build a blood supply to accommodate their growing needs. Inflammatory cells stimulate the formation of new blood vessels which then transport critical nutrients to the tumor. This is a recipe for chronic inflammation, and clearly, inflammation and the resulting angiogenesis need to be kept under control. What can you do to control and reduce the cancer-promoting effects of chronic inflammation? Here’s one idea: Drink green tea.

Green tea is widely recognized for its anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory, and anti-carcinogenic properties. It supplies catechins, a class of antioxidants with therapeutic value for reducing your risk of breast cancer. The most abundant in green tea is epigallocatechin-3-gallate, or EGCG, a catechin that has demonstrated inflammation-reduction and cancer-interruption both in the lab and in animals. In May 2013, researchers concluded that their “findings support the hypothesis that EGCG… directly targets both tumor cells and tumor vasculature, thereby inhibiting tumor growth, proliferation, migration, and angiogenesis of breast cancer.” The finding that EGCG acts on cancerous cells while leaving healthy cells unharmed reinforces past results — that the catechins in green tea induced apoptosis, or cell death, in cancer cells but not in their normal cell counterparts.

Another recent study from the journal PLoS (Sept., 2013) once again put EGCG to the test, this time against a highly aggressive form of breast cancer known as inflammatory breast cancer. . The authors summarized, “EGCG decreased expression of genes that promote [cancer cell] proliferation, migration, invasion, and survival. Consistently, growth, invasive properties, and survival of [inflammatory breast cancer] cells were reduced by EGCG treatment.” Well done!

To enjoy all of the anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer benefits green tea has to offer, it is best to get caffeinated green tea and add lemon juice when drinking — caffeine helps to enhance green tea’s tumor-suppressive properties while the vitamin C in lemon juice amplifies the effects of EGCG.
photo: McKay Savage

The Benefits Of Garlic

garlic for healthAre you a garlic lover? You may not have realized that with all that garlic breath you’re actually improving your health (and maybe warding off vampires). In fact, it’s health benefits have been noted dating all the way back to ancient Rome and Egypt, but what exactly does it do for you?

A great source of vitamin-C, vitamin B6, phosphorus, potassium, copper, iron, zinc, selenium, calcium, magnesium, and manganese, garlic’s secret lies in the compound called allicin.  This compound is responsible for all the purported health benefits by increasing the body’s production of hydrogen sulfide and leading to a number of changes.  Believed to protects against cancers, it is an anti-inflammatory vegetable which boosts the immune system, It is also antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal. As if that’s not enough, it’s also highly supportive for detoxification.

With the increase in interest in detoxing your body, it’s good to know how garlic helps with this process. Remember those sulfur compounds mentioned above? Those compounds activate liver enzymes that rid the body of toxins. On top of that, it provides both allicin and selenium, which protect the liver from damage. So next time you’re looking for a new detox recipe, try using garlic.

An interesting health benefit of garlic is that it helps with cough, sore throats, and stuffy noses or congestion. [editor note: when we have illness in our home a favorite remedy is to chop up a fresh clove of garlic and swallow it down with water.  It may be a bit pungent but it seems to do the trick.  Note of caution, do not do this on an empty stomach or you may vomit.]

Also good for circulation; the hydrogen sulfide compounds found in this vegetable relaxes the blood vessels.  It is believed to increase blood flow and it may even help protect the heart. Because of the changes in blood and circulation, it may also improve aerobic performance. A study done on college endurance athletes showed that both VO2 max and endurance performance time increased following garlic supplementation; perhaps that’s why ancient Egypt fed their athletes garlic before the Olympic Games and the Romans believed it aided strength. Consider taking supplements (or even try it fresh) before you exercise and see if it helps improve your performance.

You can easily maximize the health benefits that you do get from garlic by putting a little thought into preparation. The healthy compounds are boosted and can withstand cooking when the cloves are crushed or cut at room temperature and then allowed to sit for 10- 15 minutes. To get the most out of your garlic for health and flavor, cook it the least amount as possible. When adding it to a recipe that calls for onions and other aromatics always put the garlic in last.  Finally, researchers believe that aged garlic contains the healthiest properties.

If you’re a garlic lover, you may not even care about the negative effects, but for some they can be a large deterrent. Negative effects include bad breath, gastric upset, body odor, heartburn, and bloating. However, if you’re opting for supplements rather than fresh, some rare effects can happen including headaches, fatigue, and dizziness. Lastly, because it is a blood thinner, you may bruise more easily or if you combine a high garlic intake with blood thinners, you run the risk of severe bleeding.

Randi Upshaw is a Certified Athletic Trainer who loves health and fitness and uses writing to share it with others.  Like what she writes?  Then check out www.HomeGymReview.net.

photo: Donovan Govan

My Peanut Allergy Kid

Peanut Allergy

Food allergies and sensitivities are increasing dramatically in our society. I’m not aware of any family that does not have a child who goes to school with another child who has a, sometimes life threatening, food sensitivity. Peanut and tree nut allergies appear to be among the worst and the incidence is growing. In her book The Peanut Allergy Epidemic: What’s Causing It and How To Stop It author Heather Fraser looks at the growing challenge of this issue and why it seems to be so strongly tied to our Western culture.
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