Friday, October 30, 2009

Belly Ache? Detoxing?

(circa 2004- Thanksgiving Dinner in "American" restaurant in Germany)

Some advice when you feeling ill and the sound of food makes you want to ralf, DON'T EAT. When the body is ill, let it work on the pathogen. Fasting is a great idea when you are acutely sick. Forcing food into your body takes the energy away from fighting bugs to the digestive system which will not be very efficient anyway, as you are in a more (you guessed it), sympathetic state.
One thing you can do if you still need energy and replenishment is to make some broths which aid in bringing the gut into alkalinity with sodium and potassium. Alkaline broths help healing and are most useful in: post-op surgery, chemo, GI disturbances, general detox and cleanses.

Broth Recipe

In stainless steal pot, fill with 1 1/2 cup water, 2 scrubbed (unpeeled) potatoes, 1 cup carrots, 1 cup celery, 1 cup misc vegetables of your choice. Season with cayenne, basil, oregano, and others. Cover and cook slowly at least 1/2 hour. Cool for another 1/2 hour. Drain and drink only the broth. 4-8 cups a day

Another highly regarded reference:

Dr. Breiler's Health Broth
  • 3 stalks of celery
  • 3 whole zucchini
  • 2 cups string beans
  • 1 cup parsley
  • 1 clove garlic

Thursday, October 29, 2009

SIT DOWN at the table or no dinner for you!

Wanna digest your food? Absorb all those nutrients you work so hard to get? Avoid constipation or the hershey squirts? Prevent pH imbalances, heartburn, hiccups, and bad breath?
I once made reference to eating your food in a parasympathetic (rest & digest) state, rather than a sympathetic (fight or flight) state. By using all of your senses and paying attention to your food, you too, can take control of your gut.
When we are in a sympathetic nervous system state, we are in our instinctually human nature of preparing to defend ourselves or run away from danger. We are animals afterall. We put ourselves in this state when we are driving, arguing, stressed out, studying, watching TV, or playing croquet. The sympathetic nervous state puts us on alert: eyes dilate, heart rate and respiration increases, blood vessels constrict, perspiration, goosebumps, and increased blood pressure to name a few. Moreover, gut motility and urinary output are put on HOLD. So when you are not paying attention to your food, you are not digesting! Why even eat then?
Point being- stop eating fast food. Hold your darn horses. Wait til you're hungry and take your time. PLEASE, don't eat and drive. There will be consequences.


When we are in a parasympathetic state, the more likely our bellies will function happily. Gastrin is a hormone that tonifies organ musculature and secretes HCl (acid needed in stomach) and digestive enzymes. Without proper stimulation and release of gastrin, many unpleasant symptoms can arise such as stool irregularities or reverse digestion... yeah.
  • Think about your food
  • Say a prayer. Give thanks to your food, to who picked or produced it, to whom made it possible that you are eating it. This 30 sec-1min allows your body to know that it is time to release necessary enzymes.
  • Take 5-10 deep belly breaths before your first bite.
  • SMELL your food
  • CHEW YOUR FOOD - each bite should be chewed 31x until it is a nice, creamy paste. mmm. This is called fletcherization. FLETCHERIZE to health.
  • Take time to SIT and eat your food. LOOK at your food. No TV, reading, or dramatic fighting roommates.

A few other tips about eating:

  • Only light snacks after 8pm
  • Avoid excess and icy water during meals
  • Drink 2 liters of water in between meals
  • Simplify meals
  • Don't overeat.
  • "Eat Breakfast like a queen, Lunch like a princess, and Dinner like a Pauper."
  • REMEMBER THIS SAYING "Eat breakfast like a queen, lunch like a princess, and dinner like a pauper"

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Got an Ow-wie?


Here's the deal. Charcoal is more than just barbeque necessity. It is an incredible cleanser and absorber for the body. Made from charred wood, charcoal can help remove toxins, drugs, wastes, and foreign proteins from the body. This easy, cheap remedy is great for adults as well as pregnant women and infants. It can be taken internally or used topically as a poultice. Where do you buy it you ask? Most pharmacies should have it in capsules... if not, let me know.

Internal indications include: diarrhea, food poisoning, URIs/colds, halitosis (icky breath), flatulence (1 Tbsp in water 3x/d), nausea, hyperacidity, and liver or kidney infections.

Internal Preparations: 1 Tbsp powder = 4 capsules = 8 tablets
You can mix the powder in water for an easy suspended solution. 1 tablespoon in 8 ounces of water is a good start.

External Indications include: absess, insect bites/stings, mastitis, otitis media or externa (ear infections), gargled for quinsy (peritonsillar absess, poison oak/ivy, snake bite, skin ulcers, wounds, herpes lesions including shingles, and pain (as poultice over entire area- sprains, abdomen, arthritis, etc)

Poultice Preparations: 3 Tbsp charcoal powder + 3 Tbsp ground flaxseed + 1 cup of water = heat or let stand until mixture thickens

OR charcoal + minced garlic + minced herbs (fresh or dry), etc

A great application is the use of grated potato or zucchini with the above additions. Using fresh veggies gives you a great poultice base for absorbing and holding all the goodies together.

There is a lot of flexibility as to how to apply the poultice. Apply the concocted paste to a cotton/cloth with some room around the edges for spreading. Bandage on the cloth and leave for 6-10 hours and apply heat over the bandage for enhanced effects.

Be aware: charcoal does have a tattooing effect when used externally which will eventually fade with washing. When taken internally, some nutrients/vitamins/minerals may not be absorbed since the charcoal will absorb and excrete so much, thus food does interact with its effectiveness. And the most exciting news is- your stools WILL be black. So you can track your GI motility!! FUN!!!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Let Me MILK it for a Second...

I'm not one to preach, but let me get up on my soap box just for this quick note. Today I crawled out of bed to go to Geriatrics class, taught by an MD gone ND. I usually fall asleep pretty quickly due to his calming sing-songy voice, but he said something that I had heard him preach a few years back in Pharmacology...

MILK DOES NOT DO A BODY GOOD. That is, non-human milk. Mammals are given mammary glands to nurse their own species. Granted, I'm not trying to be a speciesist, but let's break it down.

1. Milk Companies (FDA) claim that we must have 2-3 servings of dairy every day. Why? For Calcium. You know, to build bones and stuff:) Well, I can see how we need it for the protein. But protein is not difficult to get. The thing about calcium is that it is not bioavailable in (cow's) milk! In fact, it is very difficult to absorb much at all due to the high phosphate content. Phosphate inhibits the absorption of calcium and increases it's excretion.

2. Magnesium. We NEED magnesium as it works synergistically with calcium in a number of functions such as muscle contraction and relaxation and bone health. Milk does not have optimal levels of essential minerals such as magnesium.

3. Food sensitivities- people with allergies or sensitivities to casein (protein found in milk) are at a serious disadvantage when they drink milk. They not only experience detrimental digestive symptoms, whether conscious or not, but they also don't receive any of the "benefits" of drinking it in the first place. Calcium absorption is seriously hindered in this case. More people are sensitive to milk than we think. I bet you even are, you just don't know. ha. Food sensitities are overlooked in our society. Our self-awareness is butchered when we eat in sympathetic states (fight or flight) as opposed to parasympathetic states (rest and digest). But that is a whole 'nother topic.

4. Acidity- Our conventional medical model is confused. Most of us are not overproducing acid in our gut. We are actually HYPOchlorydric. Without a balanced amount of hydrochloric acid (HCl), we cannot absorb calcium. Many people take TUMS as a source of calcium and to settle their acidic stomachs. Again, in most cases their problem is not too much acid but not enough. So this viscious cycle perpetuates, and calcium is not properly absorbed.

So. The solution? Drink nut, seed and rice milks. They contain high levels of bioavailable calcium, magnesium and other minerals as well as good fats. They do not alter the chemical state like they do with whole milk to make it "low fat." Hemp milk is yummy, but I'm more a fan of Almond milk. mmmmmmmmmmm

And another point to make. Why do we feed our own children milk of another mammal when we are blessed with the capability to feed our own and provide immunity and optimal digestion to them? Okay, gettin off the soapbox. I don't know everything, OKAY?! geez.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Easy, free medicine, in the SHOWER?

One of the most effective prescriptions we give in the clinic is home hydrotherapy. Hydrotherapy is the application of cold and hot water to enhance immunity and support inflammatory processes. A very simple treatment is to end your warm showers in a cool spray for 30 seconds. Sounds uncomfortable, I know. But you get used to it. And your body loves you for it. Here's why...

Ending your shower in cold water improves circulation. It helps bring the blood back from the surface of the skin to all the internal organs. This process supports the prevention of cardiovascular disease by decreasing inflammation. Cold water contrast also stimulates metabolism, increasing oxygen absorption and carbon dioxide excretion. Carbon dioxide can actually be very toxic to the body when we don't get rid of it efficiently. (This is why deep breathing is so important.) It also increases nitrogen absorption and excretion, increases tissue tone, peripheral white blood cell and red blood cell counts, and decreases blood glucose. In other words, this routine will support many different functions of digestive and cardiovascular health as well as immunity.

So, the point? PREVENTION of colds and flus! Contrasting hydrotherapy increases lymphocytes which fight viruses.

You need more reasons? Cleaner skin. Cold water helps the pores to close after being opened and flushed with hot water. Close em up before dirt clogs them. Unless you like zits and blackheads.

And another? It's a free anti-depressant! Depressed people have a lowered immunity status, leading to more illnesses. By ending your showers in cold water, you will stimulate your immunity while bringing a smile (or flinch) to your face from the shock of ice pellets hitting your skin.
No really, it helps.
Do it. Every day.

Other ideas- take a sauna or run up to the hot springs at least once a week and follow up with a brief cold rinse. If you just can't handle the cold water, take a wet, cold washcloth and rub up from fingers and toes towards core with quick friction movements. Don't forget your neck, back, armpits, etc.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Vegan Love

Woody Harrelson. "White Men Can't Jump." "Scanner Darkly." Mmmmm. Ok, this guy is more than just a good-lookin funny man. He stands for consciousness, activism and sustainability. One of his venues of activism is through veganism, a lifestyle that avoids the use of all animal products be it food or clothing for example. Woody's website is Check it out, get inspired, get off your ass, instill change.

And while your at it, if you get a hankering for some dank chocolate, treat yourself to Vegan Mousse of the Gods. Woody's site has a page dedicated to vegan, organic recipes that will blow you away.

Mousse Ingredients:
3 avocados
1/2 cup maple syrup or 1 1/4 cup soft dates for sweetener
1 tbsp nonalcohol vanilla extract
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil or cold pressed coconut butter
3/4 cup raw carob powder
4 tbsp organic cocoa powder (or more if u want dark chocolate); use 2/3 cup if no carob powder available
mint leaves

If using dates- pit and soften in water for 5-15 min
Food Processor- blend avocados, sweets, vanilla, butter/oil til smooth
Spoon in carob/cocoa powder til creamy
Layer with berries in martini glass and top with mint
Crumble Crust Ingredients:
1/2 cup almonds soaked in fresh water for 8 hours (or not)
3/4 cup pecans
3/4 cup walnuts
4-6 pitted dates
2 tbsp raw honey or maple syrup
2 tsp cinnamon
pinch seasalt

In food processor: chop nuts til fine
Add dates and syrup/honey til well blended
Add cinnamon and salt
Texture should be crumbly and sticky
Press into pie pan
Sliced strawberries or bananas layered on bottom
Spread mousse over crust and fruit, top with more fruit and mint
Seriously, I've made this countless times and it is so worth it.
Nutritional Aspect:
Avocados = EXCELLENT monounsaturated fats that we need, as well as fiber, Vitamin K, Potassium, folate, Vitamin B6, copper, and Vitamin C. You can't get a better fruit.
Dates = a natural, healthy sweetener that provides plenty of fiber and amino acids. B vitamins are abundant in these little candy-like prunes, and minerals such as selenium, iron, magnesium, calcium, etc. You can't go wrong. Keep em around.
Carob - this chocolate-like substance is high in potassium, fiber and protein. SCORE.
Cocoa - YAY chocolate!! Antioxidants, minerals, bioflavonoids, serotonin upregulator (the happy neurotransmitter), what ISN'T there to love? Just do it.
Nuts - aside from the unbelievable benefits of monounsaturated fats, fiber and minerals, nuts should just be a part of everyone's standard daily living. There's just too much good to even tap into the necessity of gettin nutty. The best ones you ask? Walnuts and almonds. Hands down.
Bon Appetit!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Pumpin' IRON

Have you been told you are "Iron deficient" or "anemic"? Well, I have been handed this news by many docs in the last few years. The finding is not so shocking as I had been vegetarian for over 8 years with a few bouts of veganism thrown in the middle. I was proud to live this lifestyle and was not phased by a low Ferritin count (what measures Iron stores)...until I found myself sleeping through every class and still having chronic fatigue. Iron is needed for processes such as oxygen transport to tissues, regulation of cell growth and differentiation, and immunity. So get some!

Side note: I DID start eating small amounts of meat about 8 months ago. It didn't help my score.

Allopathic doctors usually throw Ferrous Sulphate an anemic patient's way. But this form of iron is not the most bioavailable, AND it aggravates a symptom I need no more of- constipation. Many pregnant women find themselves in this situation since iron requirements increase dramatically in pregnancy. They and others may find this information useful because there is another form that does not cause constipation and it is more bioavailable. Ferrous citrate is the way to go, friends.

However, even though I am a naturopathic student, I HATE supplements. I live by Hippocrates' words, "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food." So how does one deal with low iron when avoiding meat?

First consult your doctor. You may not be ABSORBING it, which can be caused by many factors. Mine, for example, is hypochlorhydria. My gut doesn't have enough acid. One way of remedying this is to take a shot of apple cider vinegar before meals. But I'm sorry, I would rather take a shot of something that makes me puke after 10 shots, not 1. My decision has been to go with taking HCl supplements.

In order to get more iron in my diet I have chosen to go the food route. There are 2 different forms of iron- heme and nonheme. Plants have nonheme and animal products have heme, which is more easily absorbed. Some great forms of dietary iron include:
  • Black Strap Molasses- a couple tablespoons every day!
  • Chick Peas (Hummus!!), lentils, all beans really
  • Spinach (lightly steamed)
  • Dried figs and Dried apricots

If you are an omnivore:

  • Chicken liver has the most! Yummy.
  • Oysters, clams
  • Turkey, beef
  • Tuna, halibut

I will report back in 3-4 months on this issue. After fighting anemia for the last few years, it is time to get to the CAUSE and treat the WHOLE PERSON. Temporary supplementation of HCl should help my body to absorb the iron. Then when my ferritin increases to a healthy range of >70 (it is at 15), I will find the true CAUSE.

Why not enough acid? Anyone have ideas? :)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Don't Forget to Brush Your Skin!

The integumentary system, or the skin, is the largest organ in our bodies. So why not give it all the love and attention it deserves? As it is a power-sponge, skin absorbs whatever is smeared on it; yet we forget this when we apply deoderents, make-up and lotions containing heavy metals such as Aluminum and Arsenic.

While being a potent eliminator in the body, the skin can be clogged with wastes and dead skin leading to toxicity. By dry skin brushing before showering, you will promote the lymph (immune) system to release toxins and wastes assisting in drainage, tightening the skin and toning muscles. The skin forms a new layer every day, so skin brushing removes old, dead layers leading to softer, smoother, healthier glowing skin and more efficient detoxification.

Be sure to start gently using firm long upward strokes from the fingers and toes toward the heart and counter-clockwise strokes around the abdomen. Loofa sponges, a dry towel or natural fiber brushes work great!

Calling All Shroom-Heads!

This Sunday, October 18th, scoot your boots up to the World Forestry Center for this year's Mushroom Show put on by the Oregon Mycological Society. It is an excellent opportunity to talk to fellow gurus and check out gorgeous displays of hundreds and hundreds of local mushrooms. If you are patient enough to wait in a short line, you may get to indulge in some culinary delicacies, too! My favorite part of the show is the dude who sells spored cubes for you to take home and grow your own! Last year blessed me with a Shiitake log that produced 3 cycles of yummy fungi for $10. Seriously.