A highlight of Natural Products Expo West 2013 was a spellbinding presentation given by Paul Stamets, the famed mycologist. The talk was originally intended as a discussion about the effects of medicinal mushrooms on immunity. However, by the time Paul stepped off the stage, he had covered a broad range of applications for mushrooms which included their utility as non-toxic insecticides, in the promotion of greater biodiversity and as natural decontaminating agents for use during nuclear fallout and oil spills. But, as the lecture came to an end, Mr. Stamets also touched upon the potential of select mushrooms in bolstering the immune system. What’s more, he went on to describe how his mom used a specific mushroom alongside conventional care to heal herself of stage 4 breast cancer.
Tags: Breast Cancer, Immune, Mushrooms
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Nutritional Supplements, Product Reviews | 6 Comments
Once again, team Healthy Fellow visited this year’s Natural Products Expo West. Beginning on March 8th and extending through March 10th, we attended a diverse series of lectures, sampled a wide array of health foods and stopped at any and every booth that seemed promising. In the next few columns, I’ll share some of the products found at Expo West that I believe are worthy of your hard earned money and time. To be clear, I don’t consult with or represent any of the companies mentioned. My sole intent is to spread the word about a select group of foods and supplements that I think represent the best and brightest of Expo West 2013.
Tags: Aspirin, Kefir, Tomatoes
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Food and Drink, Nutritional Supplements | 9 Comments
Holistic practitioners pride themselves in treating individuals based on their unique needs and requirements. However, even when dealing with a holistic physician, it’s still important to make sure that you are indeed receiving personalized care. For instance, the effects of any given supplement may have slightly or significantly different effects based on age, gender and medical history. In practice, this could mean that one form of fish oil is better suited for pregnant women and another for those trying to improve exercise performance.
Tags: Diabetes, PCOS, Skin Care
Posted in Heart Health, Nutritional Supplements, Women's Health | No Comments;
In the healthcare field, there is a myth known as the “magic bullet”. Essentially, it is the holy grail of all therapies, one that heals a disease or relieves symptoms without producing any adverse reactions. Both alternative and conventional therapies have been assigned this designation throughout the years. In the mid-1990′s, an extract from the root of the kava plant (Piper methysticum) was widely considered a magic bullet for mild-to-moderate anxiety. However, as the popularity of kava increased, so did the occasional reports of serious, liver related side effects. And, while these incidents appeared to be very rare, and were often disputed, the perceived threat was great enough for certain countries (Canada, England, Germany, etc.) to call for the removal dietary supplements containing kava from the market. Interestingly enough, the United States did not require that kava be removed from store shelves. However, the FDA demanded that all kava extracts sold in the US carry a warning about the possible liver risk associated with regular kava use. To this day, these very same warnings are carried on the labels of kava products currently available in the United States.
Tags: Anxiety, Liver, Stress
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Mental Health, Nutritional Supplements | 2 Comments
Today’s column is a response to the first health related question that was posed to me in 2013. During a recent consultation, a client inquired about the relative merits of an antioxidant compound commonly known as alpha lipoic acid. She noted that it’s frequently cited as one of the more potent antioxidants because it supposedly works in concert with other free radical scavengers such as glutathione and vitamins C and E. A recent review in Frontiers in Ethnopharmacology, a prestigious medical journal, supports this claim and details various others functions of a-lipoic acid including its ability to: a) chelate heavy metals; b) lower systemic inflammation; c) regulate gene expression; d) repair damaged proteins in the body.
Tags: Alpha Lipoic Acid, Eyes, Inflammation
Posted in Diabetes, Heart Health, Nutritional Supplements | 10 Comments
When considering an integrative approach to cancer treatment, oncologists and patients must take into account potential interactions between chemotherapy and dietary supplements. Unlike “mind-body” practices, supplements can directly affect how medications are processed by the body. In some instances, they potentiate the activity of a drug. Other times, they speed the clearance of a given medication, thereby making it less effective. And, finally, there are certain circumstances in which supplements may actually work alongside chemotherapy in such a way as to diminish side effects and improve treatment outcomes.
Tags: Cancer, Fish Oil, Immune
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Nutritional Supplements | No Comments;
The common cold is back with a vengeance this year, at least in my neck of the woods. And, while “it” never really goes away, the common cold certainly becomes more prevalent during the winter months and is as dependable as clockwork or rush hour traffic. Researchers are continually on the lookout for natural and safe ways of managing and preventing symptoms associated with upper respiratory infections (URIs). As a result, each year there are more and more holistic and integrative options to consider if you hope to avoid the seemingly inevitable coughing, runny nose and sneezing that comes with the season.
Tags: Cold, Garlic, Probiotics
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Children's Health, Nutritional Supplements | 3 Comments
In previous columns I’ve reported on the myriad of health benefits associated with turmeric extracts. Turmeric is probably best known as a component of curry, the traditional spice mix. However, among scientists, turmeric has been at the center of a love-hate relationship. In animal and in vitro studies, curcuminoids, antioxidant chemicals found in turmeric, have yielded very encouraging results in conditions ranging from autoimmune disease to dementia. Conversely, human trials have been far less consistent. Poor bioavailability is suspected as the primary culprit for the mixed findings in the human studies.
Tags: Cancer, Curcumin, Eyes
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Bone and Joint Health, Nutritional Supplements | 8 Comments
Many health experts, myself included, recommend exercising a minimum of several times a week. This “prescription” is challenging enough due to various factors ranging from lack of motivation to time constraints. But, some committed exercisers have an additional hurdle to overcome: DOMS or delayed onset muscle soreness.
Tags: Curcumin, Pomegranate, Tea
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Exercise, Nutritional Supplements | 2 Comments
The issue of garlic supplementation is clouded by seemingly contradictory research. For instance, a current summary article in the esteemed Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews concluded that “evidence currently available is insufficient to determine whether garlic provides a therapeutic advantage versus placebo in terms of reducing the risk of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality”. A separate meta-analysis in the journal Science of Food and Agriculture notes that, in general, garlic consumption reduces total cholesterol and triglycerides. However, differences may be apparent based on the form of garlic used: aged garlic, garlic oil or powdered garlic. Nevertheless, the concluding remark of the latter review states that these effects “should benefit patients with risk of cardiovascular diseases”.
Tags: CoQ10, Garlic, Immune
Posted in Food and Drink, Heart Health, Nutritional Supplements | No Comments;
A new study appearing in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine has the potential to change the way urinary tract infections are treated from this point forward. In the 12 month trial, specific probiotics (Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1 and Lactobacillus reuteri RC-14) were compared with antibiotic therapy for the prevention of recurrent urinary infections. The test subjects in the experiment were a group of 252 postmenopausal women. The results of the research determined that supplemental probiotics were almost as effective as prescription antibiotics. By “almost”, I mean about -13.8% less effective. However, probiotic therapy features a significant advantage over antibiotic treatment – it doesn’t lead to antibiotic resistance. With antibiotic resistance, patients and physicians encounter difficulties managing both minor and serious infections. This is why preserving antibiotics for truly essential purposes is of the utmost importance.
Tags: Cranberries, Probiotics, Vitamin C
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Nutritional Supplements, Women's Health | 6 Comments
This past weekend I was combing through hundreds of current studies involving natural health. I came across five trials that I thought would be particularly useful for women of all ages. Sharing this information with family and friends could very well make a difference in the life of one woman or perhaps many. In addition, you’ll honor the hard work being done behind the scenes by countless scientists who genuinely hope to improve the quality of affordable, effective and safe health care for women throughout the world.
Tags: Acupuncture, Garlic, Insomnia
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Nutritional Supplements, Women's Health | 4 Comments
In a recent conversation, I was asked about the safety of Vitamin K supplements in relation to cardiovascular health. The gentleman I was speaking with brought up the possibility of excessive blood clotting or coagulation. The basis for his concern is that some “blood thinning” medications, such as coumadin (Warfarin), work by antagonizing Vitamin K. What’s more, physicians often recommend limiting Vitamin K consumption via food and supplementation in patients using Vitamin K antagonists. But, what about the majority of the population that isn’t using coumadin or related drugs?
Tags: Osteoporosis, Vitamin K, Women's Health
Posted in Bone and Joint Health, Heart Health, Nutritional Supplements | 1 Comment
Last week I had the good fortune of visiting Venice, Italy for the very first time. Along the way, I snapped countless photographs to share with family and friends. And, as I consider you all a part of my circle of family and friends, I’d like to take this opportunity to share several highlights from time away from home: The Doge’s Palace; The Pigeons of Piazza San Marco; Fresh Melon and Prosciutto; The Venice Film Festival; Stormy Venice Flag. While in Venice, one of the details I noticed each morning at breakfast was an assortment of jams and pastries featuring bilberries. For those who don’t already know, European bilberries (Vaccinium myrtillus) are closely related to huckleberries and wild blueberries indigenous to North America.
Tags: Berries, Heart Health, Inflammation
Posted in Food and Drink, Nutrition, Nutritional Supplements | 5 Comments
Improving the quality of care that seniors receive in nursing homes is a passion of mine. In my experience, I’ve found that the most practical way of accomplishing this goal is by forming a strategic partnership between the nursing home staff, residents (and their families) and treating physicians. Evidence-based solutions form the common link between each of the three integral parts of the aforementioned team.
Tags: aging, Massage, Vitamin D
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Nutrition, Nutritional Supplements | 2 Comments
Natural medicine isn’t the exclusive domain of two legged creatures. Cats, dogs, horses and virtually every other domesticated animal can likewise be assisted by the judicious application of holistic principles. What’s more, over the past few decades, researchers in the field of veterinary care have been devoting more and more money and time to this very topic. In particular, an emphasis has been placed on evaluating the role of dietary components in relation to inflammatory conditions that frequently affect older felines.
Tags: Allergies, Arthritis, Fish Oil
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Food and Drink, Nutritional Supplements | No Comments;