Restoring Digestive Balance

Biohacking Basics for Restoring Digestive Balance

By Sandra Miller
Nutritional Therapist

When building a house, you don’t start with the furniture first. It would be unwise to decorate the inside when the foundation hasn’t yet been built. When building your best health, the same holds true. You have to start with the foundation. You should first REMOVE anything that could be contributing to poor health from a foundational perspective.  Anything that threatens the foundation must get first attention.

There is so much that we can do to keep out that which could disturb YOUR foundation. It’s about keeping chemicals out while at the same time getting the toxic things that are already in our bodies to exit safely.

We can now catalog over 90,000 chemicals present in our environment. Very few of these 90,000+ chemicals used today have ever been evaluated by the FDA for safety.

Are we just an experiment of the double blind-randomized control variety for a study to occur at a later date

microbiome, probiotics,
YOUR BEST DIGESTIVE HEALTH BEGINS HERE.

Where it begins.

As we begin removing toxins in food and environment, we want to restore or replace what the digestive system needs to optimally process the food we eat to extract the nutrients from that food.

Our digestion starts in the mouth, so having a healthy microbiome in the mouth is as important as having that same health in the gut. Our digestive system is one extremely long tube that begins at the mouth and ends, well, you know where it ends.

 Let me point out two things you need to have a healthy mouth and healthy oral flora. Anything that enters the mouth travels down the digestive tract and will effect your gut.

  1. Get rid of your toothpaste
  2. Get free of your mouthwash

I know, I sound a bit crazy, right? When it comes to keeping a healthy mouth, it is best to use natural toothpaste and mouthwashes. Alcohol-free is best. You could make them yourself, but, there are a few commercially made that are pretty good. Your toothpaste should be fluoride and SLS (sodium laurel sulfate) FREE.

Just because a toothpaste says it is all-natural, you will still need to check the label for fluoride. You can find many homemade options to help rebuild enamel. Mouthwashes or rinses are easy to find and offer cleaner ingredients like charcoal or even essential oils.

But the one recommendation that fits the bill for everyone is oil pulling. Slowly pulling out and eliminating toxins is as vital as flossing.

Personal Care Poisons.

Sodium fluoride is extremely poisonous. We see clear links to Parkinson’s and thyroid problems, among other things. Fluoride is one of a few compounds that appears very similar to the natural thyroid hormone the body makes. It often confuses the body because it fits into the thyroid hormone receptor. The problem is, it does not ACT like our thyroid hormone. By blocking the receptor, our internally made thyroid hormone cannot fit in and do the job it is supposed to. In a nutshell, fluoride wreaks havoc on your thyroid.

SLS or sodium lauryl sulfate is found in many body products as it helps products “foam up” and usually in your toothpaste. Why should you worry about SLS? SLS is one of those chemicals that causes men to have “man boobs” or “moobs” as I have heard them called. PMS? SLS might be a culprit. It is an estrogen mimicker. Any estrogen mimicker has the potential to cause cancer as well.

Many cancers are estrogen-dependent. 

Natural Health Information Centre. For a quick guide to finding clean products check out “The Good Guide” app Mobile Apps | GoodGuide, which rates products based on several factors such as the use of toxic chemicals and even sustainable practices. Learn more about what products to avoid and which are better options.

So for a healthy mouth, if you are not going to make your toothpaste yet, try a fluoride-free and SLS free toothpaste like “Botanically Bright” by Toms of Maine. Your local health food store will have several good options.

“Repeated exposure to fluoride could cause deterioration of health by an accumulation in one or many human organs.”

For me, it could not be any clearer. Check here:
http://www.sciencelab.com/msds.php?msdsId=9927595
I have had numerous dentists blow off my concerns about fluoride and mercury. If someone is not an advocate for my health, then I have to be. Play it safe and use a biological dentist or a dentist who practices safe dentistry.

Give Mercury the boot.

http://www.sciencelab.com/msds.php?msdsId=9927595

I have had numerous dentists blow off my concerns about fluoride and mercury. If someone is not an advocate for my health, then I have to be. Play it safe and use a biological dentist or a dentist who practices safe dentistry.

Here is a great resource that explains how to have a more natural dental experience and what to avoid at the dental office on Dr. Lawrence Wilson’s page. You will note that I refer to this page for so many things so you may want to bookmark his page. It is a wealth of information.

Biological Dentistry http://iaomt.org/safe-removal-amalgam-fillings/ This one talks about safe amalgam removal.

 There is so much clear research linking implants and root canals to breast cancer that it is nothing short of shocking! A biological dentist can guide to safer options when facing a decision for either. Those who already have anything implanted in the bone should most definitely seek the advice of a biological dentist.  

Start where it all begins.

The energy “meridians” in our bodies are not “imaginary energy channels” alone. They are physical structures that have now been labeled the “primo vascular system” because this system which carries “light energy” instructions and one of the first structures that form as an embryo is developing.

We also need to be reminded that LYMPH carries waste. Anything toxic in our mouths can be sent through the lymph circulation and settle in the breast, thyroid, armpits and other local structures. As you remove toxins, you must also MOVE lymph.

Mouthwash not only kills some harmful bacteria in your mouth but also kills the good bacteria required for a healthy mouth. Mouthwashes with alcohol create a change in the microflora balance of the mouth and gut If you read my book on probiotics, you will completely understand the connection as well as the importance of the word “MICROBIOME.” It is THE hottest topic in health right now, and restoring digestive balance is quite fashionable! Here is a technique that many are finding are the best solution of all.

Why You Should Start Oil Pulling Today This method not only kills bad and pathogenic bacteria but has much documentation in the area of re-mineralizing teeth, and even preventing cavities.

Improve Digestion with Enzymes.

 I have some statistics that I want to share with you. What I share here may come as a surprise. First, the statistics on heartburn and GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). Quite prevalent!

Heartburn and GERD Frequency and Statistics”

  • “Over 60 million people in the United States suffer from heartburn at least once a month.
  • The estimation is that over 30% of adult Americans experience acid reflux every day.
  • GERD can affect people of all ages, including infants and children, but the risk increases dramatically for people over the age of 40.  
  • One-third of GERD patients develop erosive esophagitis.   
  • 10-15% of GERD patients develop Barrett’s esophagus.
  • And of course, belching, gas and bloating.

 Sounds like an acid problem right?

The purpose of sharing these statistics is that the majority of people with heartburn, reflux, and acid issues and symptoms described above DO NOT HAVE EXCESS STOMACH ACID but rather have LOW stomach acid.  Counter-intuitive perhaps, but quite right. Most folks are straight-up misdiagnosed. So, are you surprised yet? 

Just wait. There is more.

    Achlorhydria or hypochlorhydria is the medical term used for little or low stomach acid. Now, remember, although this may sound like I am bashing the allopathic system, I am only stating facts. The system does injustice to itself.  Remember that most docs are symptom presented-drug solution-based. If the solution were as simple as I am going to outline, nobody would make any money.

http://www.infoaboutgerd.com/gerd-statistics/

The Stomach Acid Conundrum.

Most symptoms that feel like over acid stomach are because so many of us have LOW stomach acid. Stomach acid or HCL (hydrochloric acid) has some very critical functions. It breaks proteins into essential amino acids and nutrients that are needed by the body.

HCL has a stimulating effect on the pancreas to produce the bile and enzymes necessary for the more advanced breakdown of proteins, fats, and some carbs. Some carbohydrate digestion begins in the mouth. It’s the complicated stuff like protein and fat that are tougher to break down.

Opportunistic bacteria and yeasts that may be present in our foods cannot grab a foothold in a properly acidified environment and are destroyed. Unfortunately, as we age, our stomach acid begins to decrease, and the SAD diet (standard American diet) is a significant contributor. Once stomach acid reduces, other diseases, including the autoimmune type, can also begin to take over.

So, how do we fix that? Digestive enzymes are a fabulous start. These different enzymes digest protein (proteolytic enzymes). Some of these would be protease, bromelain, and, papain.

Alkalinity comes with a cost.

When there is insufficient acid in the stomach, we cannot begin to digest proteins and fats. Undigested proteins cause over-acidity in the blood. The over-acidity of the blood causes the body to seek out minerals stored elsewhere in the body.

Our body’s own innate acid buffering system and it has strict instructions. Blood getting acid, the body says, “SEEK MINERALS.”

Since minerals are alkaline, the body can seek and free these minerals to alkalize the blood (called buffering). One of the minerals it finds as a buffer is calcium. Where do you think that the calcium comes from? If you guessed from our bones or teeth, you would be right. Not a good thing, right?

 Be patient, I really do have a “ta- da” moment coming!

Acidic blood is one big shiny nail in your coffin. Cancer adores blood acidity and thrives in that environment. This release of minerals further lowers stomach acid, and a cycle begins. When you try to digest food, there is not enough acid in the stomach and the symptoms of low acid rear their ugly heads. What are those symptoms? You guessed it! Reflux and heartburnWhat do most of us do then? We take an antacid!

Talk about adding insult to injury.

Things do not happen in a vacuum.

Your freed up calcium must go somewhere. The calcium which is freed up to neutralize the acid from our diets (after buffering the acid,) will set up shop in the walls of your blood vessels. A blocked vessel could lead to a heart attack or stroke.

The saddest situation of all is that if the person needs digestive enzymes to fix the problem but instead takes an antacid, even further destruction begins.

Everything affects everything. It’s that simple.

So now let’s compare some of the symptoms of LOW stomach acid.

  • Heartburn
  • A food allergy or intolerance symptoms
  • Indigestion, diarrhea or constipation
  • Fatigue
  • Dry skin
  • Reflux or GERD
  • Pylori infection
  • Bloating, burping and gas
  • Candida symptoms (fatigue, brain fog)
  • Periodontal disease

PPI Dangers.

Proton Pump inhibitors know as (PPI) are those that are prescribed or found over the counter. You may have heard of “the little purple pill.” Look on the pharmacy shelf all around the little purple pill, and you will get my drift.

PPI drugs and calcium carbonate tabs further lower stomach acid. Here lies the PPI’s claim to fame. By taking them, we are unable to absorb some of our B vitamins along with unable to digest our food. Why is that? B12, for instance, MUST have adequate stomach acid present to be utilized by the body.

If you are taking over the counter antacids and vitamins containing B12, you have been wasting money. But worse than that. You could be setting yourself up for a B12 deficiency, and that is not a good thing.

If we want to hack our health, we must have adequate stomach acid.  I am sharing a free way to check where you might be.  All for the cost of about ¼ teaspoon of baking soda. Not a foolproof solution but perhaps an eye opener.

Do this first thing in the morning before you eat or drink.

  1. Get a glass with about 6 oz. of cold water. Add ¼ tsp. of baking soda
  2. Drink contents of the glass.
  3. Time how long it takes you to belch. If you don’t belch within about 3 minutes, your stomach acid is low.

In theory, if your stomach is producing adequate amounts of stomach acid, you’ll likely belch within two to three minutes. If you burp well right away and continue burp, then you have excessive stomach acid. If it takes 3 minutes or more, it indicates a low level of stomach acid. Try not to take any antacid medications for several days before trying this, so you don’t get a false reading.

Here is another test called the Betaine HCL test. You can check this link for the test.
http://scdlifestyle.com/2012/03/3-tests-for-low-stomach-acid/

Get Bitter About It.

There are several different types of bitters that aid digestion.

  • Dandelion
  • Andrographis
  • Wild lettuce
  • Mint
  • Grapefruit
  • Radish
  • Coriander
  • Wormwood
  • Chamomile
  • Endive
  • Chicory
  • Mint
  • Arugula

OX Bile/Bile Salts

Many people who claim digestive dis-ease have had their gallbladder http://www.drdavidwilliams.com/advice-after-removal-of-gallbladder/

Ox bile must be used with caution with those who have thyroid dysfunction. Whichever route one chooses, making sure you are restoring what is lost is the main message here. Ideally, your doctor should be able to help you make the best choice. Unfortunately, most traditionally trained doctors don’t know much about the powers of plant intelligence.

Betaine HCL (trimethylglycine)

TMG or BETAINE HCL is made from sugar beets and helps the liver detoxification pathways, lowers Homocysteine and more

Since Dr. Lawrence Wilson wrote a great article on trimethylglycine, I will share it and save the keystrokes. This article is quite helpful.

http://www.drlwilson.com/ARTICLES/TRIMTHYLGLYCINE.htm

I use this one. It’s a pure powder that is sweet, so it’s easily mixable in drinks! Bulk Supplement TMG

ACV (apple cider vinegar)
By taking 1 to 3 tbsp. of apple cider vinegar (raw, with the mother) in a glass of water about 15 minutes before your meal, you can also encourage an increase in stomach acid. Bragg’s is a good brand.

One last word

AVOID CARBONATED BEVERAGES WITH MEALS. You will quickly lower stomach acid when consuming carbonated beverages with your meals.

While you may think that taking your probiotics at this stage is a good idea, let me help you to understand precisely why we DO NOT use them just yet. You don’t want to plant flowers in a junkyard. You will receive many more benefits of a probiotic when you get your foundation in order.

 Get your digestion working first, and your probiotic will work better.

Remember, the best probiotic is the one you NEED. Why guess when you can test? Start your journey but doing a gut health test like Viome. Build your foundation and build upon it. Rome wasn’t built in one day, and neither is your best digestive health.

Renew Life Ultimate Flora 
Mark Sisson’s Primal Flora

Is There An Imposter In Your Pantry?

           

Big Business in FAKE Olive Oil!

Were you aware that there may be an imposter in your pantry? Fake olive oil is disguising itself in something you value FOR your health and could damage your health.

Back in the ’90s, I was extremely health conscious and believed I was

doing all the right things. I shunned butter and saturated fat and loaded up with olive oil. My diet was mostly low fat because that was the conventional wisdom at that time, and not many people questioned it. I happily followed along. I probably drank my weight in olive oil annually. The known benefits of olive oil back then were so numerous and still are today.

According to Olive Oil Times, at http://www.oliveoiltimes.com/olive-oil-health-benefits there is a phytonutrient called “oleocanthal” that appears to mimic the effects of ibuprofen as an anti-inflammatory. Squalene and lignans are two other substances that show a positive effect on cancer

Why Olive Oil is Beneficial.

Olive oil also has monosaturated fat that does not oxidize quite rapidly as its counterparts do. Other polyunsaturated oils such as soybean, corn, canola, and safflower, do oxidize. We now know that when oil or cholesterol “oxidizes,” it causes inflammation in the arteries that supply blood to our tissues and organs.

This process is similar to when the paint on cars turns that milky white opaque color. Oxidation of fats is one of the MAIN causes of inflammation in the arteries that supply blood to our tissues and organs.

No oxidation, no free radical production. Numerous benefits. Beautiful, glorious olive oil!  So here is the bad news:

 You may not be getting the health benefits of olive oil because your olive oil might be a fake! Yes, I said a fake!

An imposter may be in YOUR pantry. You can read the whole article here> The Great Extra Virgin Olive Oil Hoax, but I will give you the in a nutshell version. It seems that olive oil is such a big business, and the profits are so significant that individual companies “adulterated” the olive oil they were selling

. They contain hazelnut, soy, or sunflower oils (oils that oxidize) that are much cheaper and do not have the same health benefits. The other hidden truth is that once the olives are harvested and pressed, it can be stored in warehouses for extended periods.

Upon exposure to the elements, it oxidizes. After extended storage periods, it can then be sent anywhere in the world and what happens after that is a huge unknown. It’s a prime example of the old “bait and switch.”

The size and density of your LDL are more critical. Industrial seed oils cause small dense LDL and need to be avoided like the bubonic plague.

Effects of Idustrial Seed Oils on Cholesterol Levels.

Unfortunately, the standard LDL, HDL, and triglyceride testing do not indicate heart disease and stroke risk. No testing had been done previously on me to determine the “SIZE or DENSITY” of my LDL. This is the correct way to assess your risk.

You see, contrary to what you have been told, there is a growing body of evidence that saturated fats and cholesterol are not the culprits of heart disease that they have been made out to be.

Inflammation is the real cause of most conditions, and this is true for heart disease and stroke as well. It is only fats that oxidize which causes inflammation. I felt it was my job to let this cat out of the bag in case you missed the memo.

We now know the size and density of the LDL particles are a better predictor of arterial health. I quickly researched the brands that were real and unadulterated, and I chose “California Olive Ranch .” My local grocery store carried it. International Olive Council (IOC) sets standards, and only individual companies’ measure up. Get more information and a list of brands participating in the seal program for 2015 here:

http://aboutoliveoil.org/naooaqualityseal.html

Storage and Usage.

At home, store your oil in a cool and dark place. Quality olive oil will come in a dark bottle and not a clear container. Most quality olive oils also come in glass bottles and not plastic.

Keep the cap closed when not in use and avoid storing near heat sources or windows. Although it is preferable to store this oil in the refrigerator, it will solidify and get cloudy to some degree.

Cloudiness is a good sign. Most poor-quality oils are still liquid when refrigerated. Olive oil will tend to begin to solidify if it is real. Once you break the initial seal, try to use it within a few months. Well, there is the ugly truth. Now that you know it is time to speak loud and clear with your dollars by purchasing only 100% cold-pressed, extra virgin olive oil.

Most poor-quality or adulterated oils are still liquid when refrigerated. Olive oil will tend to begin to solidify if it is real. Once you break the initial seal, try to use it within a few months. Well, there is the ugly truth. For good cardiovascular health severely reduce or eliminate refined seed oils that are GMO and grown with a multitude of chemicals from pesticides and fungicides.

  Be aware that the beneficial properties of the oil are fragile and should never be heated or cooked with.

Use after the food is cooked or in salad dressing. For cooking, use other oils such as avocado or coconut. Both of these oils can withstand much higher temperatures. Avocado is the most heat tolerant of all even surpassing coconut oil. Avocado oil withstands temperatures close to 600 degrees.

So, now you will no longer be duped. Tell the imposter in your pantry that it has been found out and now you know the difference — Bon’ Appetit.

To learn more here is some recommended reading:

Extra Virginity The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil.

Get the book!

Stress and 4 Tips to Hack It

Find your balance with adaptogenic herbs.

How many people can say today that they live a life free of stress? Running from errand to errand, sitting in traffic, raising children, getting married, college, changing jobs and even getting older.

All of these things can cause us to feel more than a bit overwhelmed. Even though some stress is necessary  to produce the hormones we need to survive, it can also have serious effects on your health.  Stress has also been known to disrupt your hormones and accelerate the aging process. Let’s take a look at the phases of stress and some ways that botanicals can help us moderate the stress response.

The Three Phases of Stress.

Stress like grief, has phases. There are three to be exact. The first two are acute and short-lived. The third is chronic and persisting.

  1. Acute, mild response, not- recurring: This is when we have stress for a short time, but it does not affect you after it is over. A good example would be sitting in traffic. It does not affect you long term. You need to find a way to wind down , but you do recover and return to normal functioning after the event.
  2. Acute, recurring and poor recovery: In the second phase, your stress is recurring, and you may take longer to recover. A good example would be like sitting in traffic every day but also perhaps having a job you dislike. Your sleep can become affected, and you may be feeling a bit of anxiety you just cannot seem to shake. Sleep does not come easy and coffee is an absolute must have throughout the day to keep up energy from that loss of sleep.
  3. Chronic, prominent symptoms and poor recovery According to Dr. Tori Hudson, N.D. “by the time you reach this stage, your stress has become chronic. Your symptoms are prominent, and it takes you a long time to recover because your adrenal glands are most likely exhausted. You may also have unusual sleep patterns, sleep apnea, and excessive fatigue. Chronic stress can also impair your short-term memory and lead to chronic stress could to serious diseases – including heart disease and depression.”

Determining Cortisol Levels.

If you can relate to steps two or three, you can ask your doctor for lab tests to evaluate your levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. Serum blood cholesterol testing is a good start, but the best way to determine issues with the adrenals is to do a saliva test.   http://www.zrtlabs.com With this test you would spit into a few tubes and send it off to the lab. The name of this test is salivary cortisol testing

. This test measures cortisol throughout the day since you spit into the tubes several times a day. This method is much more accurate at determining what is going on with cortisol. A trained physician must interpret it.

Cortisol should be higher in the morning and gradually lower as night falls. When cortisol is low at night, we can sleep well. If cortisol elevates at night, we then find ourselves waking up throughout the night, leading to sleep that is not restorative. Cortisol can plummet in the morning, which is the opposite of what should happen to cause us to be fatigued during the day. Most of us reach for sweets and coffee.

Dr. Sara Gottfried outlines her protocol for adrenal issues in her book “The Hormone Cure” available here:

Dr. Sara Gottfried’s Fast track hormone cure

Here are the top 4 herbs to hack your stress.  These are the top picks of doctors who use these therapies with their patients.  Dr. Tori Hudson, N.D. shares some of her favorites here and according to Dr. Hudson “For phase 1, ashwagandha and Rhodiola are good choices. For phase 2, consider these two herbs plus passionflower and holy basil. ”

Let’s dive in!

1) Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera) *

Ashwagandha is part of a group called adaptogens which means it can help the body to adapt to stress and so are appropriately nicknamed. If cortisol is too high, it can help to lower it. If it is too low, it has been shown to reduce it.

These herbs appear to adapt to the body’s need for cortisol release or, in some cases, to withhold its release. “* For example, it decreased levels of the stress hormone cortisol; maintained pulse, blood pressure, and blood sugar already within normal limits, and improved markers of liver and heart health” as Dr. Hudson states.

According to research done by www.greenmedinfo.org, it is clear that Ashwagandha has been in clinical trials with positive outcomes for everything from lowering blood sugar, attenuating withdrawal-induced anxiety due to chronic ethanol consumption. Even chemo-protective properties against skin cancers have been noted! You can access all of these studies here: Ashwagandha | GreenMedInfo | Substance | Natural Medicine    

My go-to resource for herbs such as this is Gaia brand. From the way these herbs are grown in their extraction method, this company does herbs like no one else. Gaia has complete traceability meaning you can research each bottle you purchase back to the day it was grown or “seed to shelf” as they call it.

Dosing this herb according to Dr. Hudson
“Ashwagandha is recommended in the following dosages”:
• 3 to 6 grams of the dried root per day
• 6 to 15 ml of a 1:2 fluid extract per day
• 300 to 500 mg of an extract standardized to contain 1.5% withanolides per day.”

2) Rhodiola  (Rhodiola Rosea) *

Rhodiola is another adaptogen that can help your body adapt to occasional stress.* Rhodiola has substantial research for enhancing immunity, increasing the capacity for exercise, enhancing memory and weight reduction.

Read more here: http://Rhodiola Benefits & Information (Rhodiola Rosea)

As described by Gaia Herbs (R), “The fragrant Rhodiola Rosea root, also known as roseroot, has been used throughout history in Iceland, Sweden, France, Russia, and Greece. Popular with the Vikings to enhance mental and physical endurance, this revered adaptogen was included in the first Swedish Pharmacopeia. It has been used to elevate mood, counter stress-induced fatigue, and increase mental performance, according to studies.”

Recommendations from Dr. Hudson’s article for Rhodiola

“Rhodiola is recommended in the following dosages:

To support a positive mood: 170 mg or 340 mg twice per day for six weeks

To energize: 200 mg three times per day

To promote healthy sleep: 600 mg per day.”

3) Passionflower (passiflora incarnate) *

It seems Native American healers and 19th-century herbalists traditionally used Passionflower to help induce restful sleep. According to herbalists, Passionflower even shows safety for children. Of course, you would always check with your pediatrician prior to giving any herbal remedy to a child. You can find many other uses for this extract here:

Passion Flower Delightful Benefits | Native American Herbalism

Research in Pub Med suggests that” Passiflora extract is an effective drug for the management of generalized anxiety disorder, and the low incidence of impairment of job performance with Passiflora extract compared to oxazepam is an advantage.” It works so well that they claim “A large-scale trial is justified.”*

Passionflower has the following dosage recommendation by Dr. Hudson:

• Dried herb: 2 grams, three to four times per day

• Infusion: 2 grams in 150 ml of water, three to four times per day

• Fluid extract, 1:1 or 1:2 (g/ml): 2 ml, three to four times per day

• Liquid Phyto-Cap form (Gaia): Two capsules, three to four times per day

• Tincture 1:5 (g/ml) extract, three to four times per day

4) Holy Basil (ocimum tenuiflorum) *

The botanical name is Ocimum Tenuiflorum or Sanctum, or Album. This herb is considered “sacred” by Hindus and Holy Basil has even planted around Hindu temples. Another name it has been given is Tulsi which means “the incomparable one.”

It is used heavily in Ayurvedic medicine for supporting stress responses. Holy Basil should not be confused with the Basil used for cooking. According to one study from Pub Med, the results indicated” a significant decrease in fasting and postprandial blood glucose levels during treatment with holy basil leaves compared to during treatment with placebo leaves.*

Since stress modulates the blood sugar response, we can easily see the benefits that herbs with these properties can have. It appears to affect not only “corticosterone (a hormone involved in stress response), but also in creatine kinase (a marker of heart health.)”

Holy Basil dosages used by Dr. Hudson:

300 to 600 mg per day in divided doses (does not need to be taken with food)

Other Elements Affecting the Stress Response.

Our bodies respond to stress by activating the sympathetic nervous system and the hypothalamic-pituitary-axis (HPA axis). This activation allows for the release of stress hormones. Adrenaline causes an increase in heart rate, and norepinephrine raises blood pressure, metabolism, and respiration rate.

The body shuts down what it considers to be “non-essential functions” like digestion and delivering blood to our muscles. Can you see why even your everyday stressors can have so many harmful effects on your health?

Your Best Medi “ZEN”

It is sitting down while eating, especially with others, which benefits our digestion. This is due to the stimulating action of the parasympathetic (rest and digest ) mode of the body. Also of benefit is the practice of saying grace or expressing gratitude for our food. These things can activate the calming, parasympathetic response, and aid in the digestion of food.

Calming practices like Yoga, Qi Gong, practicing mindfulness, crystal bowl sound meditation, binaural beats and, other ancient practices can calm the sympathetic response in favor of a parasympathetic response.

The parasympathetic is stimulatory to the stomach, increases gastric secretion and motility. The sympathetic is inhibitory, decreasing the gastric secretions and motility. It is no surprise then that our digestion is affected by stress. The way that we perceive stress is also crucial to how we will respond to it.

By considering adaptogens in combination with some of the above calming strategies, we can head off acute stress and manage some of our daily stressors. In the end, this leads to a happier, healthier, and more productive life.

More on Heartmath how the app works here:

How Heart Math Works

Heart Math-Inner Balance

Reference Materials courtesy of Pub Med.

 *Rhodiola Rosea therapy for major depressive disorder: a study protocol for a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. – PubMed – NCBI

*Passionflower in the treatment of generalized anxiety: a pilot double-blind, randomized controlled trial with oxazepam. – PubMed – NCBI

 * Randomized placebo-controlled, single-blind trial of holy basil leaves in patients with noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. – PubMed – NCBI

This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to treat or diagnose any medical condition and should not be taken for medical advice. Consulting with one’s physician prior to taking any herbal supplement is strongly encouraged

Reference Materials courtesy of Pub Med.
*Rhodiola Rosea therapy for major depressive disorder: a study protocol for a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. – PubMed – NCBI
*Passionflower in the treatment of generalized anxiety: a pilot double-blind randomized controlled trial with oxazepam. – PubMed – NCBI
* Randomized placebo-controlled, single-blind trial of holy basil leaves in patients with noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. – PubMed – NCBI

This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to treat or diagnose any medical condition and should not be taken for medical advice. Consulting with one’s physician prior to taking any herbal supplement is strongly enc

How many people can say today that they live a life free of stress? Running from errand to errand, sitting in traffic, raising children, getting married, college, changing jobs and even getting older.

All of these things can cause us to feel more than a bit overwhelmed. Even though some stress is necessary  to produce the hormones we need to survive, it can also have serious effects on your health.  Stress has also been known to disrupt your hormones and accelerate the aging process. Let’s take a look at the phases of stress and some ways that botanicals can help us moderate the stress response.

The Three Phases of Stress

Stress like grief, has phases. There are three to be exact. The first two are acute and short-lived. The third is chronic and persisting.

  1. Acute, mild response, not- recurring: This is when we have stress for a short time, but it does not affect you after it is over. A good example would be sitting in traffic. It does not affect you long term. You need to find a way to wind down , but you do recover and return to normal functioning after the event.
  2. Acute, recurring and poor recovery: In the second phase, your stress is recurring, and you may take longer to recover. A good example would be like sitting in traffic every day but also perhaps having a job you dislike. Your sleep can become affected, and you may be feeling a bit of anxiety you just cannot seem to shake. Sleep does not come easy and coffee is an absolute must have throughout the day to keep up energy from that loss of sleep.
  3. Chronic, prominent symptoms and poor recovery According to Dr. Tori Hudson, N.D. “by the time you reach this stage, your stress has become chronic. Your symptoms are prominent, and it takes you a long time to recover because your adrenal glands are most likely exhausted. You may also have unusual sleep patterns, sleep apnea, and excessive fatigue. Chronic stress can also impair your short-term memory and lead to chronic stress could to serious diseases – including heart disease and depression.”

Determining Cortisol Levels

If you can relate to phases two or three, you can ask your doctor for lab tests to evaluate your levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. Serum blood cholesterol testing is a good start but the best way to determine issues with the adrenals is to do a saliva test.   http://www.zrtlabs.com With this test you would spit into a few tubes and send it off to the lab. The name of this test is salivary cortisol testing. This measures cortisol throughout the day since you spit into the tubes several times a day.   This method is much more accurate at determining what is going on with cortisol. It must be interpreted by a trained physician.

Cortisol should be higher in the morning and gradually lower as night falls. When cortisol is low at night, we can sleep well. If cortisol elevates at night, we then find ourselves waking up throughout the night leading to sleep that is not restorative. Cortisol can plummet in the morning which is the opposite of what should happen causing us to be fatigued during the day.  Most of us reach for sweets and coffee.  Dr. Sara Gottfried outlines her protocol for adrenal issues in her book “The Hormone Cure” available here:

Dr. Sara Gottfried’s Fast track hormone cure

Here are the top 4 herbs to hack your stress.  These are the top picks of doctors who use these therapies with their patients.  Dr. Tori Hudson, N.D. shares some of her favorites here and according to Dr. Hudson “For phase 1, ashwagandha and Rhodiola are good choices. For phase 2, consider these two herbs plus passionflower and holy basil. ”

Let’s dive in!

1) Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera) *

Ashwagandha is part of a group called adaptogens which means it can help the body to adapt to stress and so are appropriately nicknamed.  If cortisol is too high, it can help to lower it. If it is too low, it has been shown to lower it. These herbs appear to adapt to the body’s need for cortisol release or, in some cases, to withhold it’s release.  “*  For example, it decreased levels of the stress hormone cortisol; maintained pulse, blood pressure, and blood sugar already within normal limits, and improved markers of liver and heart health”  as Dr. Hudson states.

According to research done by www.greenmedinfo.org, it is clear that Ashwagandha has been in clinical trials with positive outcomes for everything from lowering blood sugar, attenuating withdrawal-induced anxiety due to chronic ethanol consumption.   Even chemo-protective properties against skin cancers have been noted! You can access all of these studies here: Ashwagandha | GreenMedInfo | Substance | Natural Medicine    

My go-to resource for herbs such as this is Gaia brand. From the way these herbs are grown in their extraction method, this company does herbs like no one else. Gaia has complete traceability meaning you can research each bottle you purchase back to the day it was grown or “seed to shelf” as they call it.

Dosing this herb according to Dr. Hudson
“Ashwagandha is recommended in the following dosages”:
• 3 to 6 grams of the dried root per day
• 6 to 15 ml of a 1:2 fluid extract per day
• 300 to 500 mg of an extract standardized to contain 1.5% withanolides per day.”

2) Rhodiola  (Rhodiola Rosea) *

Rhodiola is another adaptogen that can help your body adapt to occasional stress.* Rhodiola has substantial research for enhancing immunity, increasing the capacity for exercise, enhancing memory and weight reduction.

Read more here: http://Rhodiola Benefits & Information (Rhodiola Rosea)
As described by Gaia Herbs (R) ” The fragrant Rhodiola Rosea root, also known as roseroot, has been used throughout history in Iceland, Sweden, France, Russia, and Greece. Popular with the Vikings to enhance mental and physical endurance, this revered adaptogen was included in the first Swedish Pharmacopeia. It has been used to elevate mood, counter stress-induced fatigue and increase mental performance, according to studies.”

Recommendations from Dr. Hudson’s article for Rhodiola
“Rhodiola is recommended in the following dosages:
To support a positive mood: 170 mg or 340 mg twice per day for six weeks
To energize: 200 mg three times per day
To promote healthy sleep: 600 mg per day.”

3) Passionflower (passiflora incarnate) *

It seems Native American healers and 19th-century herbalists traditionally used passionflower to help induce restful sleep. According to herbalists, Passionflower even shows safety for children. Of course, you would always check with your pediatrician prior to giving any herbal remedy to a child. You can find many other uses for this extract here:
Passion Flower Delightful Benefits | Native American Herbalism
Research in Pub Med suggest that” Passiflora extract is an effective drug for the management of generalized anxiety disorder, and the low incidence of impairment of job performance with Passiflora extract compared to oxazepam is an advantage.” It works so well that they claim “A large-scale trial is justified.”*

Passionflower has the following dosage recommendation by Dr. Hudson:
• Dried herb: 2 grams, three to four times per day
• Infusion: 2 grams in 150 ml of water, three to four times per day
• Fluid extract, 1:1 or 1:2 (g/ml): 2 ml, three to four times per day
• Liquid Phyto-Cap form (Gaia): Two capsules, three to four times per day
• Tincture 1:5 (g/ml) extract, three to four times per day

4) Holy Basil (ocimum tenuiflorum) *

The botanical name is Ocimum Tenuiflorum or Sanctum, or Album. This herb is considered “sacred” by Hindus and Holy Basil has even planted around Hindu temples. Another name it has been given is Tulsi which means “the incomparable one”.

It is used heavily in Ayurvedic medicine for supporting stress responses. Holy Basil should not be confused with the Basil used for cooking. According to one study from Pub Med, the results indicated ” a significant decrease in fasting and postprandial blood glucose levels during treatment with holy basil leaves compared to during treatment with placebo leaves.*

Since stress modulates the blood sugar response, we can easily see the benefits that herbs with these properties can have. It appears to have an effect on not only “corticosterone (a hormone involved in stress response),but also in creatine kinase (a marker of heart health.)”

Holy Basil dosages used by Dr. Hudson:
300 to 600 mg per day in divided doses (does not need to be taken with food)

Other Elements Affecting the Stress Response

Our bodies respond to stress by activating the sympathetic nervous system and the hypothalamic-pituitary-axis (HPA axis). This activation allows for the release of stress hormones. Adrenaline causes an increase in heart rate, and norepinephrine raises blood pressure, metabolism, and respiration rate. The body shuts down what it considers to be “non-essential functions” like digestion and delivering blood to our muscles. Can you see why even your everyday stressors can have so many deleterious effects on your health?

It is now proven that sitting down while eating especially with others benefits our digestion. this is because it stimulates the parasympathetic (rest and digest ) mode of the body. Also of benefit is the practice of saying grace or expressing gratitude for our food. These things can activate the calming, parasympathetic response and aid in digestion of food.

Calming practices like Yoga, Qigong, practicing mindfulness, crystal bowl sound meditation, binaural beats and, other ancient practices can calm the sympathetic response in favor of a parasympathetic response. The parasympathetic is stimulatory to the stomach, increases the gastric secretion and motility while the sympathetic is inhibitory, decreasing the gastric secretions and motility. Its no surprise then that our digestion is affected by stress.The way that we perceive stress is also crucial to how we will respond to it.

By considering adaptogens in combination with some of the above calming strategies we can head off acute stress and manage some of our daily stressors. In the end, this leads to a happier healthier and more productive life.
More on Heartmath how the app works here:
How Heart Math Works
Heart Math-Inner Balance

Reference Materials courtesy of Pub Med.
*Rhodiola Rosea therapy for major depressive disorder: a study protocol for a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. – PubMed – NCBI
*Passionflower in the treatment of generalized anxiety: a pilot double-blind randomized controlled trial with oxazepam. – PubMed – NCBI
* Randomized placebo-controlled, single-blind trial of holy basil leaves in patients with noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. – PubMed – NCBI

This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to treat or diagnose any medical condition and should not be taken for medical advice. Consulting with one’s physician prior to taking any herbal supplement is strongly encouraged.

BIOhacking Detox

Is Your Detox Working?

Acd how would you know?

Perhaps you are embarking on your first. It’s usually all the rage right after the final hangover of the prior year has worn off. I had dabbled in some less than successful detoxes before I understood what it meant to detox. I also want to clear up the confusion between a detox and a cleanse as this may also help you.

It seems like many professionals out there today recommend detoxifying the body at reasonably frequent intervals, and rightfully so. At a minimum, twice a year.

We are breathing polluted air morning, noon, and night. To complicate matters, the very food we eat even if organic, can become contaminated by things in the air beyond our control. Products we use in our homes and workplaces add their toxic burden.

Flame retardants in furniture, flooring, and cabinets, and even the new car smell I hold so dear all emit or “off-gas” toxic fumes. Now add to the numerous other chemical exposures we face daily; our chemical burden on this planet is very high.

You can even detox just a little every day or take 12 hours or more for more severe cases of toxicity. To each his own really. What is truly important is for you to know what your body is holding onto first.

There is even a way you can detox mildly each and every day.

 Entering the Detox Zone. 

According to Dr. Alejandro Junger, the author of CLEAN and CLEAN GUT Diet, “When the body gets confronted with this huge load of demands, the body has to prioritize, redistribute and reorganize.” If you add the energy demand of digestion to all of that, it appears detoxification gets put on the back burner.

Dr. Junger states “Since these extra toxins are irritants, the cells coat them with mucus to tone the irritation down while they anxiously wait for the signal from the body’s central bank that the energy is available for detoxification and it is okay to release these toxins back into the circulatory system.

Junger claims that “a good detoxification program will be designed to trigger this signal more intensely than normal so if digestion is stopped long enough and frequently enough, the signal to detox gets “switched on more often.” A good rule of thumb is to stop eating by 8 PM and have nothing but water for a minimum of 6 hours. 8 is better. Dr. Junger also claims that “cooked foods delay the detox signal further because heating food above 118 degrees Fahrenheit destroys the enzymes contained in it.”

Dr. Junger “CLEAN PROGRAM” book

Detox Occurs in Steps.

It is critically essential for toxins to be neutralized and eliminated once they get released back into circulation. Since different toxins can interfere with cell division and gene expression, it is of utmost importance to not allow these toxins to circulate for any length of time. Man-made toxins are “lipophilic,” meaning that they are “fat lovers.”

Circulating toxins that have not been “neutralized” will find a fatty tissue and take up residence, and where do we find an organ that is primarily made up of fat? The human brain fits that bill and is a prime target. Neurological disturbances are born out of accumulated toxicity.

Here is where your liver comes in. It’s a filter for everything. Cells of the liver contain a group of enzymes called the “cytochrome P450, and their job is to neutralize these toxins and transform them from fat-soluble to water-soluble. There is a two-phase process that occurs. In phase 1, the detox process turns the structure of the toxic substance into an immediate metabolite.

Phase Two.

Phase 2 of this process turns toxins into something more water-soluble. The toxic agent then gets sent through the blood-stream for the kidneys to filter and with any luck, we pee it out. We need the appropriate nutrients for this to happen completely.

If the liver is to do its job it needs quite a steady supply of antioxidants says Junger “To neutralize the free radicals and specific nutrients to “feed the chemical reactions of the two phases of the detox process.” If for whatever reason, the liver does not get the nutritional support, it needs, then the whole process is compromised.

LEARN  How PROTANDIM decreases free radicals

Do’s and Don’t of Detox

Sweat near infrared saunasReduce the workload of the digestive system. Although one does not need to drink liquids strictly, this will ease the digestive load. Perhaps one or two liquid meals and one very light solid for the first few days can accomplish this. Limit animal protein.  You cannot rely on juicing alone for any length of time. Juicing raises blood sugar and will slow down the detox process.

If you are having a liquid meal, you should skip or go easy on fruit juices and stick with veggie juice. There is too much sugar in the juice of fruits, and this is counter-productive in a detox. ½ a green apple should be sufficient if necessary for sweetness.

Dr. Junger’s approach is:

  • Use caution with the amount of raw cruciferous veggies: Cabbage, collard, kale, broccoli and, bok choy are goitrogens. Aside from being goitrogenic (meaning they can disrupt the thyroid and cause a goiter) when raw, they also may cause gas and bloat. These veggies are essential to good health, but we don’t want to go juicing bushels of them.
  • Restore the 12-hour window. Make your last meal around 12 hours before you plan to have breakfast. The body needs an absolute minimum of 4 hours to detox deeply, so that means NO SNACKING AFTER YOUR LAST MEAL!  You may know this as “Intermittent Fasting.”
  • Eat at least one solid meal daily. Include plenty of leafy greens both raw and lightly steamed which makes them more digestible. For meats use wild-caught game or wild-caught fish (Canadian or Alaskan waters are cleanest) or if you do not have access to fish from these waters, eat wild-caught fish and avoid farmed.  Better yet, stick with fish as it is the easiest to digest.
  • You can always take a few chlorella tablets and juice some cilantro and parsley to help move heavy metals through the body. After all, we are trying to detoxify. Heavy metals may be easier eliminated using both of these.
  • Enhance the elimination system. The juice of a lemon in warm water is a great way to start clearing mucous from the alimentary canal.  Better yet, essential oil of lemon contains more of the active constituent called d-limonene. Make sure you get a quality oil for ingestion like DoTerra or Young Living.
  •  Get plenty of fiber. Adequate fiber assures that things we are trying to eliminate do not get stuck in the colon and get reabsorbed by the body. My favorite is Renew Life Acacia fiber, or you can use apple pectin. You can find the Renew Life product here: Buy Renew Life Acacia Fiber.

Then combine some of the above suggestions with those below.

  • Techniques that enhance elimination through the skin.  Dry skin brushing (see the method here): http://www.naturalhealthmag.com.au/content/body-brushing-essential-guide . Dry skin brushing not only helps with lymphatic drainage that requires movement or manipulation but also helps to exfoliate the skin. Exfoliation assures that the toxins eliminate quickly.
  • Sweat it out. Near-infrared saunas are another method that is super for removing toxins from the body if you have access to one. Some spas offer this service. Exercise like rebounding that is great for the movement of lymph can also be beneficial along with massage. Another way to eliminate through the skin is with a bath cocktail that consists of 1 cup of Epsom salt, ½ cup of sea salt or pink salt, and 2 tbsp. of bentonite clay. For a mood uplift or to relax muscles, add a few drops of essential oil.
  • Connect to the Earth: Grounding is an age-old technique, and all you need is some grass or sand and lack of shoes. It is as simple as walking barefoot on the ground, grass, or sand. Also called “earthing,” this simple practice
    Connect with mother earth!
    • Earthing/grounding induces favorable physiological and electrophysiological changes that promote optimal health. Earthing helps reduce the toxic human load we get from EMFs (electro-magnetic frequencies), from our computers, cell phones, TV’s microwave ovens and, home electrical wires.
    • Or, try this :  GROUNDING WITH A SPOON)  
    • Support the liver: Milk Thistle has been clinically studied for its beneficial effect on the liver, but other bitter herbs can also be used like the dandelion (tea form is excellent), Oregon grape root and Gentian root have positive effects on bile production and have been shown to stimulate digestive enzymes. Remember that when enhancing liver function FIBER is of utmost importance to guide toxins out of your system.
    •  One of my favorite liver support products is called TMG or “trimethylglycine.” I use this one by BULK SUPPLEMENTS because it is pure, and it is inexpensive. TMG has benefits that reach far beyond liver support.
    • TMG
    • For more on the benefits of TMG check out Dr. Wilson’s article here:
    • http://www.drlwilson.com/ARTICLES/TRIMTHYLGLYCINE.htm

    Of course, the best advice :

You can have a functional medicine or naturopathic physician interpret the results and provide a treatment plan.  Alternatively, you can consult with Wendy who will provide expert guidance.  She is trusted by leaders in the functional medicine space.

Coffee WHERE?

Perhaps not as common but a definite favorite of mine is coffee enemas. Even the most effective alternative treatment centers for cancer use coffee enemas. Dr. Max Gerson used this method and made it popular as it was beneficial for his cancer patients. It is explained that the components in coffee stimulate your liver to produce Glutathione S Transferase, a chemical in your body that is the master detoxifier. It binds to toxins.

Then the toxins are released through your colon. It also causes the liver to “puke” as some describe it. Dr. Gerson claims great results using coffee enemas with his patients, as long as they also included a change of diet and lifestyle.

And a few more pointers:

  • Don’t consume soda or carbonated beverages. Also, you should eliminate fruit juice, sports drinks, decaffeinated or regular coffee or tea. Stick with clear water or herbal teas.
  • Don’t exercise heavilyA light rebounding workout or a walk should be fine but keep activity light. Some of the milder forms of Yoga or Pilates, or Qi Gong, are fine also.
  • Don’t consume anything packaged. Steer clear of GMO and if possible stick with organic veggies if you are eating their skin. Avoid wheat, dairy, and, all irritants to the digestive system after all; it is not a detox unless you REMOVE potential irritants.
  • Avoid using “all in one” product. Avoid products like the master cleanse (lemon juice, cayenne pepper, maple syrup) as a detox by itself. It does not allow for real nutritional foods that the body needs while detoxifying.

Do not do a detox if you are:

  • Pregnant or breastfeeding
  • You have type 1 diabetes
  • Suffer Adrenal fatigue or burnout
  • You are in the process of cancer treatment and are losing weight.
  • You are taking a medication that needs a stable blood concentration, including medicines for preventing blood clots (like Coumadin or Warfarin), anti-arrhythmic (such as Tikosyn) or anticonvulsants (such as Tegretol) as absorption rates of these medications could be altered.

Check out these professional resources below

Wendy Myers http://www.myersdetox.com

Detox Bootcamp Webinar
Chemo Cleanout
Detox with Detox Specialist Judy Seeger!

Always consult your physician before undertaking a detox method.
Supplements mentioned are informational in nature and not intended to treat or cure any disease or illness. The content above is not intended to take the place of medical advice by a qualified physician.