Many holistically-minded consumers have heard of and/or tried Maca – a root vegetable belonging to the mustard family which has been used medicinally for thousands of years in the Andean region of South America. In health food stores, you’ll frequently find it in supplements intended to support athletic performance, hormonal regulation and virility. In addition, Maca powder is sometimes featured in juices and smoothie concoctions for added nutrition and unspecified health benefits. In essence, Maca has taken on a similar reputation as ashwagandha or ginseng, as an adaptogen which promotes balance in various systems in the body. However, not all Maca products are created equal.
Tags: High Blood Pressure, Maca, Menopause
Posted in Bone and Joint Health, Nutritional Supplements, Women's Health | No Comments;
The number of scientific studies devoted to specific natural remedies and traditional foods is difficult to predict. For instance, it’s possible to have a few to several studies published in one year and then virtually nothing more for another decade. Certainly, this is partially due to economics. Big cash crops and patented products tend to receive more scientific attention because of funding and financial interests. On the other hand, more generic herbs and nutraceuticals often fall into the previously mentioned, erratic pattern of research. Pumpkin seed oil is an example of the latter.
Tags: Hair, Menopause, Prostate
Posted in Men's Health, Nutritional Supplements, Women's Health | No Comments;
One of the ongoing controversies in the field of integrative medicine is the role of patented nutraceuticals. Conventional minerals and vitamins are sold by many different companies. Often times, there are distinctions in the dosages and forms of the nutrients, but apart from that, they are consistent from brand to brand. However, certain manufacturers develop products that are conceived and tested independently. They’re subsequently patented in order to protect the proprietary end result. The beneficial aspect of this process is that many of these nutraceuticals have been subjected to controlled studies that assess their efficacy and safety. The downside of patented supplements is the price tag, which is almost always significantly costlier than generic counterparts.
Tags: Cold, Flu, Immune
Posted in Alternative Therapies, General Health, Nutritional Supplements | 6 Comments
The so-called “common cold” usually comes and goes in an expected, generic manner. You’re congested for a few days, you sneeze and your throat aches for a week tops. In most cases, it’s not a big deal and requires little or no medical intervention. But, for some, a lingering cough can stick around long after the cold exits stage right. There are several reasons why this typically occurs including bacterial infections, chronic irritation of the airways and/or overuse of nasal decongestant sprays – more than three days.
Tags: Chocolate, Coffee, Honey
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Children's Health, Nutritional Supplements | No Comments;
My third and final installment of news from the Natural Products Expo West focuses on a category of products known as “functional foods”. Basically, these are beverages, ingredients or packaged foods that are fortified with nutrients, phytochemicals and pre- or probiotics. In essence, they’re a hybrid of dietary supplements and healthy foods. The idea is to take an already wholesome food and increase its therapeutic potential by adding ingredients that aren’t normally present.
Tags: Chocolate, Gluten, Probiotics
Posted in Food and Drink, Memory, Nutritional Supplements | No Comments;
One of the surprises at this year’s Natural Products Expo West was a relative lack of innovative supplements. Don’t get me wrong, there were hundreds of new products on the convention floor. And, certainly I didn’t have the chance to evaluate each and every one of them. But, when I applied my gold-standard test to the products I saw there, only one stood out as a new supplement that I would recommend to clients, family and friends.
Tags: Fibromyalgia, Multiple Sclerosis, Prostate
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Heart Health, Nutritional Supplements | No Comments;
Nobody wants to be slowed down by a cold, flu or any host of infectious diseases we hear about in the news or meet firsthand in our daily lives. But, finding reliable information about natural ways to bolster immunity isn’t always easy. Conventional doctors are often clueless, and anecdotal remedies from family and friends can certainly be hit-or-miss. Fortunately, there really are some scientifically proven changes you can make to your diet, lifestyle and supplement regimen that can strengthen your resistance to communicable diseases.
Tags: Kefir, Massage, Zinc
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Nutrition, Nutritional Supplements | 5 Comments
A reader asks: “I’ve had recurrent bouts of tendonitis in my elbow and shoulder. When I go to see my doctor about it, he usually recommends Advil or Aleve to manage the pain and swelling. But, I don’t like to take these types of drugs. Are there are any natural remedies that I can use to reduce tendon pain and speed the recovery process?”.
Tags: Arthritis, Inflammation, Pain
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Bone and Joint Health, Nutritional Supplements | 4 Comments
One of the strengths of evidence-based, natural medicine is confidence. As a consultant, educator and writer, I have confidence about my positions because they’re backed by peer-reviewed, scientific evidence. Therefore, I’m not just one lonely voice making an impassioned argument. Rather, I’m part of a collective of voices that uses documented facts and findings to further the cause of natural health care. This very same philosophy can be used by individuals who have no particular interest in working in the field of medicine. In fact, it can work equally well for anyone who simply wishes to incorporate more natural remedies into their treatment program.
Tags: Arthritis, Cancer, Fish Oil
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Bone and Joint Health, Nutritional Supplements | 2 Comments
If you walk into your doctor’s office with symptoms including abdominal pain, bloating, frequent burping and heartburn you will likely be evaluated for a potential H. pylori infection. This common bacterium can, but does not always, cause unpleasant symptoms. However, if symptoms do arise, it’s important to address the infection in order to protect against chronic stomach inflammation, ulcers , increased risk of stomach cancer and beyond. The most common treatment for Helicobacter pylori is a combination of three medications – two antibiotics and an acid suppressing drug.
Tags: Kefir, Probiotics, Yogurt
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Food and Drink, Nutritional Supplements | No Comments;
As a proponent of evidence-based natural medicine, I encourage supplement manufacturers to incorporate the scientific process in their philosophies. More often than not, this falls on deaf ears primarily due to financial considerations. Specifically, the resistance to testing natural products has to do with the cost of conducting trials and the ramifications if the test results prove disappointing. But, every once in a while, a manufacturer will take the necessary steps to establish the relative efficacy and safety of their product. Relora, an herbal supplement used to address stress related symptoms, falls into the latter category.
Tags: Anxiety, Depression, Stress
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Mental Health, Nutritional Supplements | 2 Comments
A few nights ago, I was on Twitter answering some questions, when I was besieged by an onslaught of tweets promoting Garcinia cambogia, a southeastern Asian fruit extract, as a potent weight loss agent. Rather than blow off these messages as commonplace “spam”, I decided to investigate. To be clear, I already knew all about Garcinia C. After all, it’s been on the US market as a dietary supplement for over 15 years. As far as I was concerned, it had come and gone with little fanfare like most other supplements of its kind. But, I wondered if perhaps there was some new, exciting evidence that was spurring this current buzz.
Tags: Appetite, Estrogen, Testosterone
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Diet and Weight Loss, Nutritional Supplements | 2 Comments
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