Between your nose and brain, you can smell and “remember” at least 50,000 different scents.
Take A Holistic Approach to Antibiotic Resistance
When it comes to our health, there are two schools of thought: the Germ Theory and the Terrain Theory. Understanding the differences is critical, particularly because it involves the use of antibiotics, which should be used sparingly and for the right reasons. So let’s examine this often confusing topic.
The Germ Theory asserts that, regardless of the state of our health, germs that can cause disease will, indeed, cause disease. That’s because the germ is responsible for our illness and not the overall state of our health. Traditional medical practice calls for identifying and destroying invading germs, including bacteria (but not by viruses including cold and flu) through the use of antibiotics. Unfortunately, antibiotics are often over-prescribed and germs are mutating to survive them.
On the other hand, the Terrain Theory, embraced by holistic practitioners from a wide range of medical fields, asserts that germs that can cause disease will do so when the body is more susceptible and that the more healthy we are (the terrain) the less likely we will become ill; if we do, we will become less ill. In other words, when the body’s internal environment is at its best, then immunity, metabolism, and detoxification are at their strongest. Consequently, the body is less susceptible to illness and has the best defense against “disease causing” germs. Antibiotics are used sparingly and primarily in life-threatening situations.
It’s important to understand that taking antibiotics does not contribute to building immunity; they are prescribed for treatment, not prevention, and there is the real threat of resistance.
Antibiotic Risks and Drug Resistant Disease
When prescribed judiciously by doctors and used properly by patients, antibiotics can save lives by destroying bacteria or stopping it from reproducing. Despite the wonders of this medicine, there are significant problems:
20% of people experience side effects including gastrointestinal, kidney, menstrual, and joint abnormalities after taking antibiotics. Risk for side effects increase with each additional ten days of use.
About 10% of people are allergic to antibiotics.
In the U.S. more than two million illnesses per year are caused by resistance to antibiotics, resulting in 23,000 deaths when these drugs fail to work.
Antibiotic resistance (AR) means that the germ targeted by the medication has mounted defenses that render the drug ineffective even when taken properly. Situations and conditions that present the greatest risk for AR include:
Overuse of antibiotics
Not taking the medicine as prescribed
Long hospital stays
Working in parts of the world that lack proper hygiene
Not having the ability to meet essential nutritional needs
Improperly handling raw meat, consuming contaminated meat, crops, or water
Contact with infected individuals
Protect Your Internal Terrain from AR
Healthcare is faced with a dangerous rise in antibiotic resistance, making the more holistic “terrain approach” to battling germs vital to preserving health. Here’s what you can do:
Take a probiotic supplement, a quality multivitamin, follow a quarterly detox regimen, get adequate sleep, and eat a variety of whole foods
Filter your water (drugs disposed of at landfills can get into groundwater supply)
Limit your intake of sugar and processed foods (these lower immune function)
The unfortunate truth is the “kill the germ” perspective is failing. We will reach a point where we do not have effective antibiotics. By bolstering the internal terrain, a healthy and vibrant person can mount the immune defenses necessary to protect their health.
“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.” – Helen Keller
Apple Cider Vinegar: A News-Worthy Remedy
Over the years, the media has paid lots of attention to apple cider vinegar (ACV) and for good reason. An ancient health remedy, it’s known as a panacea for what ails us, aiding in weight loss, managing blood sugar, reducing cholesterol, lowering cancer risk, supporting digestion, and facilitating natural detoxification. It was used by Hippocrates as an antibacterial cleanser for wounds and has a long history of use by holistic physicians, particularly for its natural antibacterial properties, stemming from its fermenting process.
ACV is produced by fermenting the natural fruit sugar in crushed apples (or cider) into alcohol. Specific strains of bacteria are added to the alcohol, creating enzymes and acetic acid – the active compound in any vinegar. Acetic acid can destroy bacteria or prevent it from multiplying and spoiling foods. Probiotics and other plant compounds in ACV may help support immunity. For those who like to keep things natural and chemical-free around the home, ACV has many other uses, including conditioning the hair, cleansing the skin, gargling to soothe sore throat, and as a household cleanser.
Whether you are making ACV at home or buying from a store, the dilution ratios vary depending on whether you’re adding it to water or tea, using it to wash food, or for cleaning around the house. Because ACV contains a pungent acid, these ratios should be discussed with a holistic health practitioner. Improper mixing can result in stomach upset, reflux, or aggravation of preexisting digestive or skin condition. Most importantly, do not drink undiluted ACV.
At the first sign of a cold or flu, reach for Garlic Oxymel, an age-old immunity boosting remedy. Oxymel means “acid and honey” and is indicative of its two main ingredients (honey and apple cider vinegar). Traditionally used to help make certain herbs, such as garlic or onion, more palatable, drinking just 1/2 to 1 cup per day of this tonic will help the medicinal properties of garlic go down easily.
1 fresh garlic bulb (do not use pre-peeled or minced garlic)
4 c. water
1/4 c. raw honey (locally sourced or regional is best)
1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
Optional: 1 T. finely minced, fresh ginger root
Peel and finely chop garlic cloves. Let the chopped cloves sit for about 10 minutes, then add to the water in a large pot with cover, heat to boiling, reduce heat and simmer until garlic is very soft – about 20 minutes. Leave cover on pot, remove from heat and set aside to cool at least 1 hour.
Once cool, add honey and vinegar; mix well. Store in refrigerator for up to 5 days.
When ready to drink, gently reheat on the stove. If desired, add minced ginger root.
Note: This remedy is not for use in respiratory illnesses where heat, such as fever, predominates.
It’s fairly common knowledge that antibiotics kill some of the health-promoting bacteria that live within your gut’s complex ecosystem. Taking a probiotic supplement can support the way gut flora work together to keep that ecosystem – and you – at the healthiest.
Antibiotics are used to kill both the pathogenic bacteria that should not be present in the body and the pathogenic bacteria that normally reside in the body in very small numbers but which have “overgrown” for some reason. Unfortunately, while antibiotics are targeting the unwanted pathogenic bacteria, they often disrupt (or destroy) the balance of “good” gut flora. The result: gastrointestinal upset. Up to 20% of people using antibiotics experience antibiotic-associated diarrhea. The longer you use an antibiotic, the more damage that is likely to occur in the gut ecosystem. Some people can experience severe symptoms that progress to inflammation of the colon, which can become life-threatening.
This is where probiotics come in. With an estimated 80% of your immune system located in your gut, taking a probiotic on a regular basis is a good idea for most people, and especially important while taking antibiotics. Probiotics are live microorganisms that encourage the growth of good gut bacteria, thus strengthening immunity. And they can help prevent that antibiotic induced diarrhea.
Which probiotic is right for you while taking antibiotics? That depends on your age, general health, current symptoms of illness, and the length of time you have been using any antibiotic medication. Probiotics come in different strains of bacteria, as well as different forms (e.g., liquid, capsule) and are usually refrigerated to preserve the integrity of the microorganisms. The selection of the strain of probiotic you should take – especially while taking an antibiotic-is very important. Just as important is making sure that you take the probiotic at a different time of day than when you take antibiotics and to continue taking the probiotic even after you have finished the antibiotic. Your health practitioner can determine which probiotic formula and dosing strategy is best for your needs.
Desert Parsley (Lomatium dissectum), also known as Toza Root, is a traditional Native American herbal remedy for colds, flu, pneumonia, viral infections, asthma, tuberculosis and many other conditions. Used in the Southeastern states during the influenza pandemic of 1917, positive results have been documented, particularly among Native people, who recovered more quickly because of their use of the herb.
Among naturopathic physicians, Lomatium is one of the most useful natural antimicrobial herbs for eliminating bacteria, fungi, or viruses that can cause infection. It’s also shown to be effective against a variety of pathogens including several types of Staph, candida, and E.coli. It acts as an expectorant, helping loosen and expel mucus from the respiratory tract and relaxing the mucosa to decrease spasmodic cough.
Lomatium is typically offered in a tincture that is dosed differently based on an individual’s needs and the condition being treated. When using desert parsley for medicinal purposes, such as to fight a cold or flu, it can be taken in pill form, tincture, tea, or finely ground root powder added to a steam bath. Supplements should be taken under the care of a holistic physician because improper use of Lomatium can cause nausea, blood thinning and may interact with prescription medicine.
Protecting yourself against infection can be done naturally. But where do you begin?
Foremost, if you suspect you have an infection (you’re coughing, expelling mucus, are feverish, etc.), now is not the time to experiment: You absolutely should be working with a holistic doctor to treat the infection. If your current aim is to boost your body’s natural protection against infection, a variety of herbs and essential oils, as well as good old soap and water, can do wonders. Use this brief overview as a starting point for an in-depth discussion with your natural health practitioner.
Food Extracts. Certain food extracts contain antibiotic properties. For example, cranberry extract is a useful remedy for urinary tract infection. Honey is one of the oldest known food-based antibiotics, dating back to ancient Egypt and Israel.
Herbal Extracts. A variety of herbal extracts have antibiotic properties and are often used in tincture, capsule, powder (e.g., tea) form, depending on the herb and the intended use. Among the herbs are goldenseal, barberry, Oregon grape root, Echinacea, and Lomatium.
Essential Oils. Thyme, basil, tea tree, and eucalyptus oils have a variety of bug and germ fighting properties. Additionally, citrus fruit oils (lemon, lime, orange, bergamot) have health-protective benefits. Essential oils should never be consumed and should always be used in a diffuser or diluted with a base oil, such as almond oil.
Soap and Water. The FDA has ruled that companies can no longer market “antibacterial soaps.” The risks of adding chemicals, including triclosan, to washing products are greater than any protection when compared to regular soap and water. How does soap help protect against bacteria? When you vigorously rub your hands and lather the soap, it loosens bacteria from the skin. Simple, effective, and all natural.
There are many natural remedies in addition to those listed and most don’t have a wide body of clinical research behind them. It may take time before medical science catches up with the long history of use documented in traditional medicine. There is potential for drug-herb interaction, so it’s important to work with a health practitioner who is well trained in the pharmaceutical properties of botanical products.
A single human brain generates more electrical impulses in a day than all the telephones of the world combined.
Supplemental Knowledge: Should You Take Nutritional Supplements?
Of all the holistic health products available, nutritional supplements are the most widely used, consumed by people of every age and every lifestyle. While supplements should not be used as a replacement for healthy lifestyle choices, (whether prescribed by a physician or self-administered), even those of us who eat well and maintain active, healthy lives, will benefit from taking certain supplements. Here’s why:
Mineral content in our food is decreasing due to a combination of soil depletion and chemicals used in conventional farming and food production.
Our busy lifestyles lead us to consume convenience foods that are overly processed and low in nutrients. Foods “fortified with” are not equivalent to nutrients found in whole foods (or even in a high-quality supplement).
The majority of the U.S. population has poor dietary habits. Barely 1 out of 10 people consume at least 5 servings of fruits and veggies a day.
We are under more stress and often surrounded by environmental toxins, which increases the body’s need for nutrients.
Antibiotics are overused, leading to dysfunction in the gut and affecting immunity.
Certain medications, including birth control pills, can impact how the body assimilates nutrients.
Most importantly, every biochemical process in the body relies upon vitamins and/or minerals as ‘cofactors’ to facilitate processes that help maintain physical health and achieve optimal performance. When there is even a mild deficiency, or a problem with absorption of nutrients, those processes cannot take place and can lead to chronic illnesses including Alzheimer’s Disease, diabetes, chronic fatigue, irritable bowel syndrome, depression, and PMS.
The Top 5 Nutrients for (Almost) Every Body
Based on the above reasons, and because there is solid research on their benefits, the following nutrients are often recommended for most people. A holistic physician who interprets nutritional analysis can help you determine which nutrients are best for you: how much, for how long, and in what form (e.g., capsule, liquid).
Multivitamins provide ‘dietary insurance’ for our modern lives. Since there are a wide variety of formulas, some with herbs, consult with a holistic practitioner about which is best for you.
Omega Oils, known as Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs), usually come from fish but can be obtained from vegan sources (flax, chia, hemp, borage). EFAs are associated with lower risk of heart disease, depression, rheumatoid arthritis, certain cancers, and can protect against cognitive decline.
Probiotics support the growth of friendly gut bacteria and help protect against diseases such as eczema, allergies, digestive conditions, and yeast infections.
Trace Minerals are found in perfect balance in mineral-rich ocean waters. Just very small quantities of these elements are important to good health. Since erosion has led to nutrient-depleted soil, supplementing with liquid trace minerals is the best way to obtain these elements.
Green Superfood Supplements are concentrated servings of nutrient-dense vegetables and other superfoods, such as moringa, kale, chia, chlorella, and maca; they provide important micronutrients and plant nutrients (e.g., antioxidants) that support a healthy immune system.
Emerging research also supports supplementing with Vitamin D, certain B vitamins, magnesium, and selenium.
These recommendations do not apply to all people nor for long term use (some supplements contain wheat and other allergens, and some may provide more nutrients than an individual needs or can tolerate). Remember, dietary supplements are intended to support and enhance your diet and lifestyle. Partner with a holistic physician to make the best choices for your health.
“A grateful heart is a beginning of greatness. It is an expression of humility. It is a foundation for the development of such virtues as prayer, faith, courage, contentment, happiness, love, and well-being.” – James E. Faust
Turnip Greens: A Powerhouse for Good Health
Like their leafy green cousins, turnip greens contain an abundance of nutrients important to good health. Scientifically known as Brassica rapa, turnip greens are a cruciferous plant in the same family as other nutrient-dense vegetables, including broccoli, cauliflower, kale and cabbage. Cruciferous plant consumption is associated with lower risk of chronic illness such as heart disease, arthritis, cancer, diabetes and autoimmune disease.
The entire turnip plant is rich in vitamins and minerals, but the greatest proportion of nutrients are found within the leaf blades. These nutrients include the antioxidant Vitamins A, C, E and K; B vitamins; calcium and folate. What really makes turnip greens a powerhouse for supporting good health are the antioxidants, which help the body fight inflammation and play a major role in cancer prevention, healthy aging, and a heart health.
One cup of turnip greens packs a whopping 600% of your daily requirement for Vitamin K, which helps keep bones strong and plays an important role preventing osteoporosis. The carotenes, including beta-carotene, found in turnip greens help support eye health and protect against eye disease such as macular degeneration.
When selecting turnip greens, buy as fresh as possible and opt for organic if available. Look for deeply colored leaves that don’t show signs of wilting or damage, such as spotting. The greens are often sold while still attached to the large white root. You can roast the roots and use the greens for stir-fry or add to soups or stews.
Loaded with a natural peppery flavor, Turnip Green Soup is a Southern favorite and a hearty addition to your Fall menu. Perfect for lunch or a light supper, paired with a salad and jalapeno cornbread, or enjoy a smaller serving as a starter to a multi-course dinner.
1 lb chopped fresh turnip greens
16 ounces organic chicken broth (or more, as needed)
10 ounces stewed tomatoes
4 ounces roasted green chilis
16 ounce can navy beans, rinsed and drained
15 ounce can black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
15 ounce can pinto or kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 lb smoked sausage, diced*
1 large onion, chopped
5 cloves crushed garlic
1 cup sliced carrots
2 tablespoons organic olive oil
Pinch creole seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste
Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste (optional)
*Vegetarian Option: You can use large chunks of Portabello mushroom, look for a vegan sausage at a health food store, or create your own vegan sausage.
Chop, slice, dice, or drain everything first.
To a large pot, add the first seven ingredients over medium-low heat.
In the meantime, saute the sausage, garlic, and onion in the oil until sausage is lightly browned and onion is desired tenderness. Add it to the turnip pot on stove. Add carrots and desired seasonings to taste.
Simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes, adding more chicken broth if needed or desired.
Wouldn’t we all like a little (or a lot) of superhero power now and then to help us scale life’s various mountains? If you’re nodding “yes” right about now, think Iron, a mineral critical to the circulatory system and life-sustaining functions. Iron is a component of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen through the blood and is essential to powering the energy levels required for all physiological processes in the body.
Most people acquire sufficient iron from their diet, but a supplement may be needed by those who have strenuous physical regimens or who experience frequent blood loss (e.g. from heavy periods or inflammatory bowel disease). Foods containing the highest sources of iron are liver, organ meats, red meat, dark turkey meat, and shellfish. Legumes, certain seeds, and dark leafy greens, such as spinach and kale, do provide iron but you’d have to eat quite a bit, nearly every day, to obtain sufficient amounts.
If you’re experiencing extreme fatigue, weakness, cold hands and feet, headache, rapid heart rate, or unusual non-food cravings, you may be anemic and require an iron supplement. It’s important to have your iron levels tested before starting a supplement because iron can build up in the body (a condition called hemochromatosis). This can lead to life-threatening health problems involving the liver, heart or pancreas. A simple nutrient analysis done by blood test indicates if you are deficient; other tests can determine if you have difficulty absorbing iron provided by a healthy diet.
Because there are many ways to increase iron levels, consult with a holistic health physician who can recommend the right method, and if a supplement is needed, the correct form and dose for your needs.
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the human body and you might think that’s because of the essential role it plays in building strong bones; calcium’s importance, however, goes beyond preventing fractures and osteoporosis. It also supports healthy functioning of the cardiovascular, endocrine, and nervous systems. Numerous studies have established a relationship between calcium intake, absorption and assimilation and a person’s risk for heart disease, colorectal cancer, kidney stones, PMS, insomnia, and difficulty maintaining a healthy weight.
Eating a wide variety of whole foods is the best way to get the calcium your body needs for growth, maintenance, and repair. Even though dairy products contain and are fortified with calcium, foods derived from cow’s milk may not be the best choice for many people because of allergies, intolerance and other digestive concerns. Other valuable sources of calcium include almonds, dark leafy greens, legumes, and and nuts such as almonds. Be aware that just because you’re consuming the recommended amount of calcium daily does not mean your body is absorbing and utilizing it properly.
Recommendations for a calcium supplement vary by age, gender, and development (e.g., puberty, pre or post-menopause), and are influenced by health issues, lifestyle habits and taking certain prescription medicines. Different forms of calcium (e.g., carbonate, citrate) are absorbed differently by the body. Check with your holistic health physician to determine if you need a calcium supplement, and which form and amount is best for you.
They go by names such as Vitamin Drip Bar and Liquid Vitamin Lounge. You’ve probably seen the store front right next to your local Target. What they’re selling is nutrient IV – as in intravenous – therapy. Its claims range from being able to boost your low energy, spice up your libido, and instantly recover from a cold or a hangover, to improving chronic health conditions such as arthritis, asthma, and even immune disorders.
Does it work?
To be clear, for decades IV therapy has been a critical part of medical care, serving as an efficient and immediate solution in cases of dehydration, severe illness, and organ damage that inhibits the absorption of nutrients. Nutrient IVs deliver vitamins, minerals, and amino acids directly into the bloodstream. It’s typically used when a patient’s condition can result in a nutritional deficiency if treatment is not provided. This works very effectively for its intended purpose. But…
These days, ‘IV infusion therapy’ has grown in cult popularity like a vaping lounge. Mobile IV clinics and store fronts offer quick cures and transformative wellness benefits. Proponents claim IV nutrient delivery is necessary because taking high doses by mouth is simply not possible because digestion limits absorption. Really?
By definition, a nutrient is something found in food, which we eat and our bodies break down at a rate appropriate to need, and ultimately put to use for the optimal function of the body. That is what nature intended and it works very effectively so long as illness or injury does not interfere with nature’s beautiful design.
Bypassing nature’s design via IV cocktails puts nutrients into the bloodstream very quickly and in very high amounts. This can stress vital organs, not just in the digestive tract, but also the liver, pancreas, and even the circulatory and nervous systems. Just as concerning is having a technician who has inadequate medical training deliver a nutrient cocktail that potentially interacts with other medications a person may be taking.
There is a role for IV nutrients in medical treatment as well as in holistic health treatment of a select few medical conditions for patients who are carefully screened by qualified holistic physicians. For the rest of us otherwise healthy folks, we need to do as Mother Nature intended and obtain our nutrients through a healthy diet of fresh, whole foods or nutritional supplementation – and there’s no hype about that.
We are excited to announce that Of The Earth Wellness is moving from our humble farm office in Steele Creek to partner with Two Trees Acupuncture in Plaza Midwood. We will be seeing patients there Starting Tuesday October 30th.
Our New address is 1318-A3 CENTRAL AVE CHARLOTTE, NC 28205
Hours: Tuesday-Thursday 10am-6pm
Scheduling and availability remain the same and we look forward to continuing your care at our new location.
Why the move?! Of The Earth Wellness is expanding to the reaches of Blue Ridge Mountains in Roanoke, VA two days a week. Managing two clinic/farm locations made it difficult to maintain our energy. Our time on Shopton Road was always on borrowed time as a rental property. Despite this, we made it our home and it was a welcome respite from years of moving that provided fertile ground for us to get our start and grow our farm and business. We are so grateful to all of you for your support during our humble beginnings.
We sold our home in AZ just over a year ago and looked for a place to call home in Charlotte. Our farm and clinic is a humble life and we are unable to afford home prices as they skyrocket in Charlotte. It was important to us to keep our homestead in tact and avoid an hour commute to work. We finally purchased our forever home in Elliston, VA where the farm will now be located. To manage our energy, practice the self care that we recommend, and to better serve YOU we decided it was time to make room for someone else to enjoy the opportunity and simplify our lives!
We will continue to serve the Carolinas in person 2-3 days a week at our partnership location at Two Trees Acupuncture. We are located in the heart of Plaza Midwood off Central Ave in the brick buildings next to Bistro La Bon & Healthy Home Market shopping center. We are in the far corner of the shopping center in building A suite 3 on the ground floor in the building across from Yoga One. We have plenty of parking either in front or behind building E. NOTE: If you are using GPS to find our location, do not include the suite number (A3). Simply input 1318 Central Ave., Charlotte NC 28205. www.twotreesacupunture.com
Over the past 5 years, it served as our home, clinic, and farm. We have made many friends, provided entertainment, education, and health services to our wonderful Greater Charlotte community. We value and honor your support during the past few years. We hope you all can make the journey and grow with us we transition into a new setting.
According to a report from 2017, almost
6% of Americans identify themselves as vegetarians. Only 1% of the
population described themselves as vegetarians in 1971.
Tips for Going Vegetarian
There’s Vegetarian. And there’s Vegan.
Related, yet different. Both diets eliminate meat, fish, and poultry.
Vegans don’t eat any dairy, eggs, or other products derived from
animals. Sub-types of vegetarianism, however, make exceptions for
certain animal products:
Lacto-ovo-vegetarians eat both dairy products and eggs.
Lacto-vegetarians eat dairy products but avoid eggs.
Ovo-vegetarians eat eggs but not dairy products.
Whatever your reason for choosing this
dietary path – your health, concerns for the environment, or for
spiritual reasons (or a combination of these reasons) – be aware of
common mistakes that can adversely affect your health. Understanding
these pitfalls can help you maintain a nutritionally sound vegan or
Consuming too much fruit sugar.
Fruit is an important part of any healthy diet, but consuming too much
fruit sugar on a daily basis can have a detrimental effect on blood
sugar. Also, fruits alone fail to provide the diversity of nutrients a
body needs to thrive. Balance fruit intake with veggies, legumes, nuts,
seeds, and whole grains.
Lacking dietary variety. Being a
creature of habit, or being afraid to try new foods or recipes, can
leave your diet deficient in nutrients, and your taste buds in a sorry
state. You’ll have food cravings, hunger pains, and might just give up
on vegetarianism. Follow those famous Dr. Seuss characters’ advice: Try
New Things; You Might Like Them!
Tipping the carb scale in the wrong direction.
With so many convenience foods for vegetarians, it’s easy to get
tricked into thinking you’re making a healthy choice by selecting
“fortified with (fill in the blank)” products over fresh foods. Many of
those products are loaded with hidden sugars and sodium. Get complex
carbs and grains from whole, organic food sources such as barley, wheat,
rye, millet, flax. Buy dried berries and nuts without added sugar or
Mismanaging your protein. Folks
new to vegetarianism don’t properly combine foods to provide sufficient
amounts of complete protein for their age and activity level. Many
people wind up relying on protein shakes, which is not the ideal way to
obtain protein. Most of your protein should come from whole, real, fresh
foods. A holistic health practitioner can help you establish good,
flavorful meal planning strategies.
Both vegetarians and vegans need to pay
attention to the intake of nutrients lost by omitting meat, fish, eggs,
and dairy. As noted above, “fortified with” foods aren’t the best
because the nutrients aren’t in the most bioavailable state for the body
to utilize. The nutrients most commonly lacking in vegan/vegetarian
B vitamins, particularly B12 and B6
Iron, Zinc and Selenium
To track your nutritional intake, try this awesome program: cronometer.com.
It has both free and paid account options. To understand your nutrient
needs and assess risk for deficiency, see a holistic health physician
for a nutrient assessment test (details below). This simple blood test
indicates if deficiencies are present and need to be corrected, as well
as how to best support already good health with the right dose and type
of supplements for you.
“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” – J.R.R. Tolkien
Surprise Your Taste Buds with Sunchokes
On your next foray down the produce
aisle, don’t overlook the wonderful sunchoke, aka Jerusalem Artichoke.
These tubers look nothing like an artichoke and are easily mistaken for a
strange potato!. A native North American plant, sunchokes are a member
of the sunflower family.
Low in calories and nutrient dense,
sunchokes provide iron, potassium, thiamin (one of the B vitamins) and a
good amount of fiber in a one-cup serving. The carbohydrate contained
in sunchokes is inulin, which doesn’t cause spikes in blood sugar, so
it’s a great option for anyone concerned about diabetes or weight
management. Sunchokes also contain vitamins, A, C, and E. The most
unique nutrient found in sunchokes is known as prebiotics, a type of
non-digestible carbohydrate found in many root vegetables. Food-based
prebiotics enhance nutrient absorption and help maintain a healthy
intestinal tract by promoting growth of “good” gut bacteria, which
Sunchokes have a nutty, mildly sweet
flavor and are delightful to eat raw – shredded or sliced into a salad
or sliced and served with raw carrots and other veggies. They can be
cooked in a variety of ways and added to stir-fry dishes in lieu of
water chestnuts. Their flavor is enhanced when lightly seasoned for
sauteing or roasting. You can also puree sunchokes for soups.
Available year-round in the U.S., prime
harvest time is October through early spring. Buy tubers that are firm,
free of sprouts or bruises, with a smooth, clean surface making them
easier to prepare.
Vegetarianism has many health
advantages, but a poorly designed diet poses significant health risks.
Research shows that vegetarians (and vegans) are vulnerable to
deficiencies in two important B vitamins: B12 (cobalamin) and B6
If ever a group of vitamins could be
considered “the Force” within you, it’s the B-Complex group, which
synergistically supports energy production. Individually, each B vitamin
– B1 (thiamin), B2(riboflavin), (niacin B3), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6,
B12, biotin, and folate are vital to different physiological processes
throughout the body. Specifically, B12 is essential for healthy nerve
cell communication while B6 is necessary for hormone regulation and
breaking down dietary fat, protein, and carbohydrates.
It’s difficult to obtain sufficient,
high-quality amounts of food-based B6 and B12 when meat, fish, eggs, and
dairy are eliminated. B12 is not present in plants, so vegetarians
usually need to take a supplement. Some plants contain a “glycosolated
form” of B6 that is not absorbed easily or used efficiently in the body.
The aging process, a vegan diet, stress, certain medications, and
illness also can alter your body’s ability to utilize vitamins taken
Signs of B12 deficiency include extreme
fatigue, sadness, irritability, loss of appetite, anemia, lower
immunity, and increased risk for heart disease. B6 deficiency is
associated with PMS, depression, and insomnia; it can lead to nerve
damage in the hands and feet, which is usually reversible with proper
A holistic health practitioner can order
a blood test to determine if a vitamin deficiency exists and work with
you to identify the appropriate supplement (vitamins, injection or nasal
gel, or sublingual tablet), form of that supplement and dietary
improvements for your health needs.
Sprouting is the moment of greatest
vitality in a plant’s life cycle, the phase in which the seed activates
and makes its way through the topsoil and sprouts into the fresh air
above. At this high point of metabolic and enzymatic changes, the sprout
contains high levels of nutrients. And that’s what makes sprouts good
for you, particularly Alfalfa.
Alfalfa (Medicago sativa) is a
legume that is also considered to be an herb. The leaves and seeds can
be used fresh, or dried for supplements, and the sprouts are enjoyed
with meals. It’s high in Vitamins A, C, and K and contains several B
vitamins. A good source of dietary fiber, copper, magnesium, and iron,
Alfalfa contains active plant compounds currently being evaluated for
benefits in women’s health, managing high cholesterol, and effects on
the nervous and cardiovascular systems.
When selecting sprouts, look for those
that have been kept chilled in the produce section and choose organic
when possible. The International Sprout Growers Association (ISGA) seal
on a product indicates the sprouts have been carefully grown and
handled. Look for clean roots with a creamy white color. Buds should be
attached to the stem. Sprouts should be odorless. Keep sprouts
refrigerated and use within 2 days of the sell-by date on the package.
Enjoy sprouts atop salads, sandwiches, or as a garnish for prepared
How are your cells doing today? Don’t know? Then a Nutrient Assessment might be in order.
Here’s the truth of it: If your body is
missing – or even short on – key vitamins and minerals, your cells will
not perform at optimal level. This can affect your daily energy, quality
of sleep, mental and physical performance at work, school, or sports
and can lead to complex health problems.
Nutrient deficiency can occur for reasons other than the presence of an active illness, including:
Inadequate intake in the diet
Poor absorption in your digestive tract
Problems at the cellular level, preventing proper use of the nutrient
Loss of nutrients through intense exercise or long-term stress
Insufficient cofactors or enzymes needed to properly utilize the nutrient
And that’s why a Nutrient Assessment is
important. In holistic medicine, specialized tests are available to
assess nutrient status. These tests are also known as Functional
Nutrient Assessment, Nutrient Status Testing, or Micronutrient Testing.
Using samples of blood, stool, urine, or hair, these tests evaluate how
well your body absorbs and utilizes each nutrient assessed, along with
the amount and functional availability of vitamins, mineral, and
antioxidants in your cells. They help identify the nutritional
supplements needed to achieve and maintain good health and lower your
risk for serious illness.
Even if you feel your best, a baseline nutrient analysis is good to for two important reasons:
A healthy baseline provides a point of
comparison for times when you become ill and need to assess what’s
going on with your body and what it needs to recover.
Some nutrient deficiencies or
insufficiencies don’t manifest in disease for a long time, even years.
Having a baseline and periodic testing can help detect problems early.
Ask your holistic health practitioner about the type of nutrient testing that is most appropriate for you.
It takes 17 muscles in the face for us to smile and 43 muscles to frown.
When the Skin Erupts: Healing Eczema and Psoriasis
When those painful, itchy patches of eczema and psoriasis erupt, doctors of natural medicine ask, ‘what is causing this condition to present at this time?’ The Greek translation of eczema means “to boil out,” so the question makes sense: holistic physicians look for the underlying root causes that bring about these skin eruptions. Although they create similar discomforts for the people afflicted, psoriasis and eczema are different in important ways.
Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune condition that results in an overproduction of skin cells. As the dead skin cells build-up, they form thick, scaly white patches that are visible on the skin’s surface. The skin itches terribly and is inflamed.
Eczema (aka atopic dermatitis) also can be chronic, but it tends to come and go in response to certain triggers (e.g., weather changes, irritating cosmetics, or an allergic reaction). Eczema is common in infants and children, and may even go dormant for a time. Some people, however, suffer terribly throughout their lifetime. When eczema is active, skin is inflamed, dry, peeling and may blister.
From the natural medicine perspective, root causes of eczema and psoriasis include:
Food sensitivity/ allergy
Deficiency in one or more minerals
Low-quality diet (high in saturated fats, processed foods, sugar, etc.)
Poor gut health/ Leaky Gut Syndrome
Emotional/ Mental Stress
Exposure to toxins and/or inadequate ability to detoxify
Conventional treatment plans typically use steroids to simply manage symptoms (i.e., itching); however, there are harmful side effects, such as suppressing overall immunity, that must be considered. Natural therapies, on the other hand, work to correct the underlying imbalance that caused the body to react in the first place, offering relief without the unwanted side effects of steroid treatments. One or more of the following natural therapies may be part of an individualized holistic treatment plan:
Dietary changes to include more nutrient dense, clean foods
Remove foods from the diet that cause inflammation
Nutritional supplements to restore balance or deficiency (e.g., zinc, vitamin D/ E/ A)
Balance gut flora using probiotics and other approaches
Increase intake of Essential Fatty Acids, which are important to skin health
Provide support for mental/emotional stress
Identify and minimize toxin exposure
Support liver function, the body’s detox organ
Additionally, to temporarily soothe symptoms, holistic physicians may recommend nourishing the skin with herbal salves and essential oil baths specific to individual needs. Some common botanical ingredients are calendula, lavender, chamomile, rose, Manuka honey, tea tree, among many others.
Psoriasis and Eczema can quickly become chronic and severe and the wrong treatments can make things far worse. Consult with a holistic health practitioner to identify the appropriate therapies for you or your loved one.
“A man’s health can be judged by which he takes two at a time – pills or stairs.” – Joan Welsh
Cherries on Top for Fighting Inflammation
Succulent cherries, both sweet and tart, provide wonderful health benefits. They contain the antioxidant vitamin C along with substances called anthocyanins, both of which help scavenge those pesky free radicals that cause damage to cells (known as oxidative stress). Anthocyanins, which give cherries their deep crimson color, also play a role in reducing cancer risk. Another powerful antioxidant in cherries is quercetin, which has a variety of health promoting properties.
Quercetin belongs to a family of plant compounds called flavonoid polyphenols, which help reduce inflammation. Among these compounds, quercetin is the one that demonstrates the strongest impact on immunity and inflammation at the cellular level, helping the immune system more effectively respond to cellular stress. Quercetin also helps the body put up a stronger defense against substances that promote inflammation in the skin, even in people who don’t get much relief from conventional treatments. This makes quercetin containing foods, such as cherries, other dark berries and onions, potent healing foods for skin conditions with a strong inflammatory component, such as eczema and psoriasis.
Enjoy cherries as a healthy snack or take the time to remove the seed and mix cherries into smoothies, yogurt, or oatmeal. Whether you are drinking lightly sweetened cherry juice or eating dried cherries, you’ll get a similar amount of nutrients. Frozen cherries have fewer antioxidants and canned cherries have the least.
Using calendula flowers, you can make your own healing salve with this easy recipe. Beeswax acts as a preservative, giving this salve a shelf life of about six months. After that time, it will develop a rancid odor letting you know it’s shelf life has expired. Store the salve in an airtight container, in a cool dry place, away from heat or direct light, especially sunlight.
2 oz Calendula Flowers + 1 cup Olive Oil
1 oz shaved beeswax (or beeswax pastilles)
Put the flowers and oil in a small stainless steel, glass, or ceramic pot and place a thermometer into the mixture.
Heat to 120 degrees F and “cook” at this temp for 1 hour. Stir every 15 minutes.
Strain the oil.
Put the fixed oil into a stainless steel, glass, or ceramic pot; add the shaved beeswax. Warm until wax melts.
Test consistency with a metal spoon: Dip the spoon in mixture and place into freezer for 3-5 minutes. Add either more beeswax or oil if needed to reach desired consistency.
Put into an airtight container; allow to cool and harden completely before moving into storage.
Label and date the salve.
Adding a few drops of Vitamin E oil will help preserve the salve, increasing its shelf-life.
If, after being in the freezer, the salve is too hard to spread easily on the skin and be absorbed, add more oil. If the salve comes out softer or too liquidy, add more beeswax. Hardness or softness of the salve is both a personal preference and relevant to the purposes intended for the final product (e.g., on rough elbows you may want a harder salve. For diaper rash, you may want a softer product).
The Power of Vitamin D
Vitamin D: not only is it powerful, it’s vital for good health. Although it’s called a vitamin, D is actually a steroid hormone that acts as a catalyst for processes that protect our cells.
Every tissue in the body needs vitamin D, yet a large percentage of the world’s population is deficient, or borderline deficient, in this critical hormone. Even a mild deficiency can contribute to chronic and autoimmune diseases such diabetes, cardiovascular disease, depression, cancer (including ovarian, colon, and breast), multiple sclerosis, and psoriasis.
Nature intended for us to get vitamin D from exposure to sunlight, but absorption is blocked by sunscreen. We need bare-skin sun exposure for 15-20 minutes a day; most of us don’t get that. Additionally, we don’t eat enough D-rich foods, which include egg yolk, cod liver oil, shiitake mushrooms, and wild salmon. Fortified milk/dairy is not the best source because you need several cups every day. For anyone intolerant of dairy products, this food category is off limits.
The best way to help the body establish optimal levels of vitamin D is to take a supplement.
The recommended blood level of vitamin D (above 25 nmol/L) was established to protect people from bone disease (rickets and osteomalacia). From the natural medicine perspective (and emerging scientific data), that threshold is too low to protect against serious illness or to promote optimal health. Depending on the individual, holistic physicians identify 45-90 nmol/L as the ideal vitamin D blood level for disease prevention.
Age, gender, diet, stress level, and lifestyle factors affect absorption of vitamin D. A holistic physician can order a blood test prior to starting a supplement to help ensure you take the appropriate amount and form of vitamin D. Follow-up testing tracks improvement in your levels and health conditions. Your doctor can then adjust your supplement dose accordingly.
Considered a first-aid all-star, Calendula (Calendula officinalis) bears the nickname “mother of the skin.” It’s been used for health remedies and spiritual rituals dating back to ancient Egypt and early Christianity. Boasting antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties, calendula is still used to help heal skin inflamed by chafing, blisters, bites, and burns, as well as in treatment for dermatitis, eczema, wounds, and diaper rash. Calendula is found in a variety of cosmetics, as well as medicinal lotions, creams, and ointments applied to the skin to help reduce pain and swelling and encourage new tissue growth.
Medicinal Calendula has fiery red and yellow petals and is from the Marigold Asteraceae family, not to be confused with common garden marigold from the Tagetes group. In addition to topical applications, calendula flowers and leaves are used in capsules, oils, teas, and tinctures. A holistic physician can help you determine which form of calendula is best to treat specific health concerns.
There are a few precautions for using calendula: Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding may use calendula topically, but should not take it by mouth. Calendula may interact with other medications, resulting in drowsiness. Since it’s part of the ragweed family, people sensitive to or allergic to marigold, daisy, or chrysanthemums should not use calendula products unless under a doctor’s care. Be sure to consult with a doctor of natural medicine if any of the above situations apply to you.
Before there was a pharmacy on every corner and a doctor at the other end of your cell phone, traditional healers relied upon the natural world to harvest, combine, and formulate herbal medicines to heal what ailed the people. Whether to dress a wound, heal irritation and inflammation, or soothe a baby’s rash, Mother Nature provides a plethora of flowers, fruit, seeds, leaves, bark and pulp from which to create topical remedies. Even today we see a resurgence, with an estimated 80% of people worldwide using herbal apothecaries and compounding pharmacies to provide natural remedies, among them herbal salves.
What is an Herbal Salve?
Herbal salves (or balms) are a combination of infused herbal oils combined with some type of wax, typically beeswax, which acts as a thickening agent. Salves are generally solid at room temperature. They can contain finely ground or pulverized material from a plant along with an essential oil (e.g., lavender, arnica, chamomile, rose) or Manuka Honey, depending on the reason for use. Salves work best when applied to bring relief to irritated and inflamed skin in a specific area of the body to which they are applied.
A salve is absorbed through the skin in a localized area allowing for concentrated and sometimes immediate relief. They can easily be used for everyday moisturizing of the skin, giving added protection without harmful chemical ingredients often found in cosmetic products. Additionally salves are a gentle, safe and effective first-aid treatment for skin conditions such as:
poison ivy or oak
*A rash that cover the body or blistering sunburn should be seen by a medical professional right away.
Spend some time exploring herbal salves and enjoy the relief they can bring to your skin, day after day, season after season. Check in with your holistic doctor to get their recommendations.