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Antidepressants Are Bad for Your Health

Although there may be many genuine reasons for feeling depressed these days (and that’s not even considering one’s personal life!), antidepressants are not a good answer for most people. The following article explains exactly what those drugs are doing to our brains, why they are dangerous, and some natural alternatives. Please share this article with anyone you care about who is currently taking SSRI’s.

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Staying Cool

Here in Northern New Mexico we had our record-breaking temperatures in June; however, many of my friends and customers in other states are living with near constant scorching temperatures that barely go down by dawn only to pop back up into the high 90’s and above, with little relief. So this blog is a copy of a recent Rodale article that is very timely and chock full of great info. One thing I will add here: many of us eat lots of fruit in the summer, and many are cooling to the body; however, most non-organic fruit contains very high amounts of pesticide residue. So eat your fruit, but make sure it’s organically grown.

The Best All-Natural Ways to Stay Cool

Keep heat waves at bay with these natural, and sometimes surprising, cool-down secrets.

By Isaac Eliaz, MD, integrative health expert

Topics: summer safety

Water is only part of the story when it comes to surviving a heat wave.
Summer can be a very energetic time of year, a time when many of us head to the outdoors for increased activities during the longer, warmer days. But as heat wave records make headlines across the country, it’s critical to protect yourself by staying cool. While extra movement, time in nature and fresh air can do wonders for your health, it’s also vital to pay close attention to your body’s vulnerabilities as 2012 continues to heat up.

Summer and Fire In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), summer relates to the fire element—and on a physical level, TCM emphasizes the health of your heart and circulatory system during this season. As daylight increases, your energy and activity will naturally expand, reaching farther away from your core and calling on strong circulation to keep up with the increased demands. And as temperatures rise, healthy circulation and its anti-inflammatory effects become even more important.

Poor circulation creates a condition of stagnation throughout the bloodstream. This can be aggravated during the summer due to heat and dehydration, which makes our blood thick and sticky, and without enough fluids to keep circulation flowing smoothly. On a chronic level this is referred to in Western medicine as hyperviscous coagulation, or hyperviscosity. Stagnant blood in turn generates more heat, furthering a vicious cycle of chronic inflammation throughout the body. And as we know, chronic inflammation is the hallmark of a wide variety of illnesses, including heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and cancer.

Hyperviscosity of the blood is sometimes due to genetic tendency. Approximately 25 percent of the population exhibits one or more inherited “defects” which can be measured through cardiovascular blood screening. People with these genetic markers, such as elevated Lp(a) (Lipoprotein-a); PAI-1(Plasminogen Activation Inhibitor 1); or homocysteine, are more prone to high cholesterol, high blood pressure and heart disease as well as aggressive cancer and other chronic illnesses. But hyperviscosity can also be caused by unhealthy lifestyle, dietary habits, and infections or traumas. Together, hyperviscosity and chronic inflammation set the stage for a number of deadly diseases. But regardless of whether you are genetically predisposed to these issues, or whether your lifestyle is to blame, or both, there are a number of ways to prevent the damage, stay healthy and protect against disease.

Heat Waves and Heart Attacks During summer, the combination of hot weather, chronic inflammation, and lack of circulation can turn deadly, increasing the risks of heart attack, stroke, and other serious cardiovascular events. Additional summer health risks, such as heat stroke/heat exhaustion, burns, and dehydration, are all related to excess inflammation, causing our engines to “overheat.”

So the most important step you can take to protect your health during summer is to keep chronic inflammation in check. This degenerative process of continuous “overheating” degrades your body through wear, tear, and oxidative stress, serving as a primary function of the aging process—and of degenerative, life-threatening diseases.

Keeping Your Cool What can you do this season to make sure your heart stays strong and your body cool and hydrated? Here are some steps you can take to protect your health in the heat.

Take advantage of the increase in fresh produce available this time of year. Emphasize leafy greens, and rehydrating fruits and vegetables with high water and mineral content. These not only help replenish fluids, but they are very high in phytonutrients and antioxidants, things we need to combat inflammation and resulting oxidative stress. Oxidative stress in this case is mainly caused by waste from our cells’ mitochondria—the engines that power our cells—working too quickly in the heat. This excess cellular waste accumulates faster in conditions of poor circulation and inflammation. So if you eat a fresh produce diet that is high in antioxidants, phytonutrients, and ingredients that support the detox process, you help to get rid of the byproducts of mitochondrial “heat.” In this way, an abundance of fresh vegetables and fruits help break the cycle of inflammation, hyperviscosity and heat damage.

Drink LOTS of fresh, filtered water (approximately 64 ounces a day). This will keep fluid levels at a maximum to help circulation stay strong, reduce inflammation and help clear mitochondrial waste products and other toxins.

Replenish electrolytes with a healthy electrolyte and mineral supplement. Potassium is an important electrolyte, as well as magnesium, calcium and trace minerals. Electrolytes support communication between cells and are critical to basic biological functions, but we lose them through sweat and dehydration. High-quality coconut water is a good natural choice.

Take cooling, anti-inflammatory supplements. When we have a lot of heat, we need to cool our systems, and for this we can use different anti-inflammatory supplements. There are three basic categories of supplements that can help reduce inflammation. Botanicals and nutrients directly reduce inflammatory reactions in the body. Other botanicals and nutrients also offer antioxidant support to prevent oxidative heat damage. Botanicals and nutrients that help circulation are also important because through increased circulation, chronic inflammation and “blood stickiness” is reduced. An excellent example is curcumin derived from turmeric root: It is an anti-inflammatory, it’s an antioxidant and it promotes circulation.

Slow down. On the level of physics, if you have more heat, everything moves faster—even our thoughts can move faster. So the natural balance is to slow down, by taking more time for sleep, relaxation and rest. Stress-relieving activities like meditation, art, listening to music and vacations in nature help to calm the system so that heat, inflammation and the resulting congestion is reduced. For this reason, it’s very important to take time off in the summer—something that seems to be lacking in the American culture. People often take only a two or three-day vacation, but it really takes six to seven days for the body to start unwinding from the daily grind.

Get adequate sleep. Regular sleep helps keep our body’s normal functions running smoothly, including repair mechanisms which are essential in hot weather.

Engage in gentle, regular exercise. Walking is especially beneficial (without overheating in the midday sun). Gentle exercise promotes healthy circulation and helps us to relax. Regular, rhythmic exercise is particularly valuable in helping to keep you calm yet energized, while boosting circulation and reducing inflammation. That’s the value of practices like yoga, Tai Chi or Qi Gong, which have a calming, rhythmic breathing element to them.

Slowing down and making sure that you allow your body to cool down, regulate internal temperatures, and regenerate fluids are necessary preventative measures for a long and healthy life. These simple steps are even more important for your health and vitality during periods of prolonged heat.

Botanicals and Nutrients Cardiovascular and circulatory health is a big focus in my clinical practice—and for my patients. Circulation-boosting botanicals and enzymes include: • Hawthorn berry • Ginger • Turmeric • Chinese salvia • L-carnitine • Omega-3 oils • Enzymes like nattokinase, lumbrokinase, and others.

Repairing Chronic Heat Damage We know from basic physics that heat is a manifestation of an increase in kinetic movement—and when you live a high-paced lifestyle with no time to relax, “cool,” rehydrate, and lubricate your body, your “engine” is going to heat up. Sometimes, this damage from chronic excess heat can be more serious, requiring replenishment not just in the form of extra fluids and electrolytes, but also “fluid-generating” herbs and botanicals that can help hydrate and maintain moisture in tissues and organs.

This type of heat damage can be addressed by a group of botanicals called “body fluid regenerators” (or yin regeneration herbs, as they are classified in TCM) that work on different parts of the body:

• Tian men dong (asparagus tuber) and mai men dong (Ophipogon tuber) work to promote blood and fluids in the heart, the lungs, and the stomach • Shu hu (dendrobium stem) helps maintain moisture in the lungs, the stomach, and the eyes • Zhi mu (Anemarrhena root) is another herb that’s very important for the stomach when you have severe dryness • Sheng di huang (Rehmmania) is also very important for nourishing the blood, which moisturizes all the organs.

So sometimes, you have to balance between clearing the heat and nourishing the body fluids.

A whole-foods diet rich in fruits, vegetables, unprocessed whole grains, and essential fatty acids (found in nuts and fish) is also a crucial part of a strong, healthy circulatory system. The antioxidants, fiber, and omega-3s this type of diet provides serve to minimize the effects of free radicals, promote healthy arteries, and soothe excessive heat.

Summer can be an exciting and rewarding time of year, offering more time in nature, opportunities for new adventure, an abundance of healthy fresh produce, summer celebrations, and more. If we take the right steps to promote our health in the midst of this season’s warmth and activity, we can reap the benefits of increased vitality and energy, rather than wilting away under the scorching heat.

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Allergy season is early this year, and many folks are heading for the drug store for over the counter anti-histamines, etc. However, these medications have side effects and add to the chemical burden on our bodies. Below is most of an article written by a nutritional scientist who works for Pure Encapsulations, one of the companies in my supplement buying club. He does an excellent job of explaining the process of allergic reaction and gives some great herb and supplement advice. And yes, I can assist you in procuring the mentioned herbs and supplements. {Anyone who wants the footnotes, please email me.}

From early spring through November, more than 22 million Americans seek comfort as airborne pollens, grasses, weeds and fungi naturally reach their peak.  In the nasal lining and bronchial tubes of sensitive individuals, environmental particles enlist a multi-step process in which resident immune cells, known as mast cells, are activated by accumulation of immunoglobulin E (IgE). Active mast cells release prostaglandins, leukotrienes and other chemical mediators that modify local fluid and inflammatory balance.  Effective nutritional avenues that target multiple points in this process include polyphenols, botanicals and probiotics.*

Polyphenols   

Polyphenols, particularly quercetin, hesperidin and related flavonoids, have been extensively researched for nasal and upper respiratory homeostasis. It is well-established that quercetin and hesperidin maintain the integrity of mast cell membranes and moderate enzymes that direct the synthesis and release of inflammatory mediators.1 Support for mast cell membrane integrity is also an important mechanism of the complex flavonoid spectrum found in apple extracts.2  In contrast to the simple flavonoid structure of quercetin, apple extracts contain flavonoids linked together in chains to form oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPCs).  Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials have demonstrated that apple polyphenols are highly effective in maintaining healthy vascular permeability and measures of nasal responses.2*

Botanical extracts

Nettle (Urtica dioica), guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia) and butterbur (Petasites hybridus) have an extensive history of clinical and traditional use for maintaining immune balance.  In randomized, double-blind trials, each of these botanicals have provided significant support for immune homeostasis and subjective indices of nasal responsiveness and upper respiratory function.3-5

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Cancer Studies: Fact or Fiction

NaturalNews) The vast majority of so-called scientific studies focused on cancer research are inaccurate and potentially fraudulent, suggests a new review published in the journal Nature. A shocking 88 percent of 53 “landmark” studies on cancer that have been published in reputable journals over the years cannot be reproduced, according to the review, which means that their conclusions are patently false.
C. Glenn Begley, a former head of global cancer research at drug giant Amgen and author of the review, was unable to replicate the findings of 47 of the 53 studies he examined. It appears as though researchers are simply fabricating findings that will garner attention and headlines rather than publishing what they actually discover, which helps them to maintain a steady stream of grant funding but deceives the public.
Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/035616_cancer_industry_scientific_fraud_studies.html#ixzz1sWwaFhbS
I thought this was a telling piece of reporting, especially given how mainstream medicine has so disrespected alternative cancer therapies, and even adjunct therapies.
 I have been listening to webinars from Pure Encapsulations about a variety of subjects, and have found especially exciting all the research being done on polyphenols, a class of chemicals found in herbs. A particularly potent one, curcumin, found in turmeric, has shown promise in helping to treat a very long list of ailments, including cancer (through apoptosis, or programmed cell death). Many of these studies have been replicated….looks like the double-blind/placebo study is only a gold standard if those who are conducting the study have integrity….
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Best Article on Osteoporosis I’ve Ever Read

Yes, this article is technical.

Yes, I had to stretch my mind to grok the technical details….however, the bulk of the article is easily understandable, and the conclusions reached are VERY interesting, cutting edge, you read it first here.  All that I’ve been studying about fruit and vegetable consumption, alkalinity, exercise, importance of co-factors not calcium, and inflammation as the precursor to just about everything “bad” is researched here with lots of studies cited. Major conclusions: taking lots of calcium is not the most important factor for healthy bones and bone density tests are just about worthless (and even worse are the drugs prescribed).

Instead of the mainstream (and that includes most alternative info as well) message of more calcium = strong bones, this heavily researched article shows the value of other minerals, a plethora of “nutraceuticals” (supplements besides vitamins and minerals) and “lifestyle” habits that all contribute to healthy bones in a healthy body.

Intrigued? GO HERE to read the entire article. If you are interested in putting together a supplement regime to address both your bones and your whole body, call me toll-free @ 877-286-2970. My 14-year-old “supplement buying club” has room for a few more folks.

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Cold and Flu Prevention For Kids (of all ages)

When I went to look at my stats for this blog, especially what folks were searching for, I found cold and flu prevention for kids…and I thought, oh good, now I know what I’m blogging about!

First: limit sugar as much as humanly possible. Why? (other than we all know it’s not good for us, empty calories, mood swings, etc.) Because the nasty micro-organisms LOVE sugar, and our immune systems are compromised almost immediately after consuming sugar, and can take hours to rebound back to their robust selves….

Second: everyone needs to sleep WAY MORE than they realize, and children especially need sleep to be regular: same time every night; a dark room if possible (night lights may help anxiety, but if your child is a poor sleeper it may be too much light in the room); bedtime stories really work (for adults, too), and leave plenty of time to brush teeth, etc. so family members aren’t unduly stressed before bedtime.

Third: for children who get frequent ear infections, there is good research showing that prophylactic use of xylitol based nose sprays help prevent ear infections by destroying bacterial cell walls. Iris Herbal’s Mullein Garlic Oil really helps clear infection if used at the first sign of ear infection. Many folks (parents for their children, and adults for themselves) have found this combo safe, easy and effective. Mullein oil (made by infusing mullein flowers in olive oil) and garlic essential oil (a very strong anti-bacterial oil) together are quite potent; just don’t use if the eardrum is perforated.

Fourth: WASH YOUR HANDS, often. Before meals, after the bathroom, after blowing one’s nose, after being in a public space where folks are coughing and sneezing. Teaching children the hand washing habit really helps because kids touch their faces a lot (well, so do adults, but we’ve often curbed some of those tendencies…), and hands deliver germs to the eyes, ears, and mouth.

Fifth: in one of the latest AARP newsletters, a very simple remedy was mentioned: gargling! Although young children may not be able to do that yet, anyone of any age who can: do so several times a day with warm water. It really lessons the number of time folks get sick.

and Sixth: take a supplement to increase immunity. Some folks swear by Echinacea and/or Elder berry at the first signs or if exposed. Some people are helped by herbal immune adaptogens like Astragalus, Bacopa, Eleuthero, and/or Spikenard. But often children don’t like the taste. So I recommend a supplement called Epicor (easily found on the web) which really does have good science (and my clients’ experience) to back it up. You can order this from me through my supplement buying club, whose next order is this coming Monday morning (and happens every month around the 15th). Just call (toll-free 877-286-2970) or email (irisherbal@yahoo.com) me this weekend and I can order you either adult strength or kid strength at a more affordable price that just about anywhere on the web.

pS: it’s also good to drink water…and if plain water is too boring, then add the juice of lemon or lime: tasty and helpful both!

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The Politics of Educating About Flu Prevention

Just when we think Big Pharma/Big Medicine has played all the dirty tricks we can possibly imagine them doing, they surprise us with yet another spin…I don’t believe that particular group of corporate folks will be satisfied until their message is the only one the public can hear….

From the Mercola site:

Story at-a-glance

  • The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) receives millions of dollars from big pharmaceutical corporations selling vaccine to pediatricians, money that has even been used to help build the AAP headquarters
  • The AAP recently attempted to intimidate and persuade Delta airlines to remove an influenza prevention video that was created and sponsored by the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) for Delta’s inflight programming, which offers sensible health options for staying well during the flu season
  • NVIC’s educational video highlighted proven ways to avoid getting sick, such as washing your hands, covering your mouth when coughing, getting enough sleep, exercising and eating right and mentioned flu shots but the AAP protested that the video was “putting children’s lives at risk” because it did not primarily focus on telling people to get vaccinated
  • The AAP’s outrageous attempt to censor good disease prevention information, which simply seeks to educate Americans about the many options for staying well and encourages everyone to speak with trusted health care professionals about vaccine risks versus benefits, should not be tolerated in a free society.

To read the entire article and see the video in question, please go HERE.

And whatever Holy Day / holiday you celebrate, may you and your loved ones enjoy with health and happiness.

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More On the Flu Shot & Some Natural Ways to Fight Colds and Flu

In a just-published shocking study virology researchers at the Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands have demonstrated that a regular flu vaccine in children actually worsens a key aspect of their flu-fighting immune system. This research was not conducted by vaccine-disliking scientists. Rather, it was conducted by pro-vaccine researchers who have spent their careers trying to develop better vaccines. Lead author Rogier Bodewes delivered the sobering message as he explained that flu vaccines “have potential drawbacks that have previously been under appreciated and that are also a matter of debate.”

Please send this info to anyone you know who has children and is contemplating a flu shot. Please go  HERE for the whole story.

Here is a question for you. What do grapevine leaves do when they come under attack from a viral infection? Answer: make more quercetin for their natural defense. There is no question that quercetin is active against many viral infections including the flu. If this sparks your interest,  HERE is the whole article.

N-acetylcysteine (NAC) is an important nutrient for respiratory health and immunity, including defense against  the flu. The nutrient has been used longer than four decades to help break up and clear mucous from the airways. The latest research continues to show that it is a potent anti-viral compound warranting widespread use in the winter months to help ward off the common cold as well as the flu. I’ve been recommending NAC for all my clients with any kind of breathing issues. You can go  HERE to read more about this inexpensive and wonderful supplement.

And then there’s the simple, elegant, and tasty habit you might cultivate this winter of drinking warm lemon or lime water every morning when you first wake up. Delicious, nutritious, alkalizing, and a bit of Vitamin C…

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Increasing Our Immunity, Stabilizing Mood As Winter Approaches

Autumn is in full swing and winter is around the corner. With these changes, vitamin D levels among the population on the North American continent north of the Mexico border drop. The fact is above the 45th parallel it is reported that from November to February/March, even on a sunny blue-sky day, the angle of the sun is such that vitamin D production when bare skin is exposed is dramatically diminished.

Many of us experience shifts in mood during the winter months. To offset winter mood imbalances, alternative health practitioners recommend that folks have their vitamin D 25 OH levels measured. The range is 20-100 for most laboratories. Yet, falling within the range does not necessarily mean you are good to go. For many, a target  blood level of at least 55, for a 25 OH vitamin D blood test is considered beneficial. Of course the target blood range is different for everyone, and one’s health care provider can best determine what the best range is for a given individual. Also, it’s very important to take the blood test now through December, as Vitamin D declines in fall and winter if one isn’t taking any supplemental D.

From GreenMedInfo comes this great compilation of natural substances to take to increase immunity, or to hit a cold or the flu at the first signs:

While there are a broad spectrum of natural substanceswhich have been studied for their anti-influenza properties, vitamin D deserves special consideration due to the fact that it is indispensable to produce antiviral peptides (e.g. cathelicidin) within the immune system, and can be supported for pennies a day.

A study  published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2010, revealed that children receiving 1200 IUs of vitamin D a day were at 59% reduced risk for contracting seasonal Influenza A infection. Moreover as a secondary outcome, only 2 children in the treatment group versus 12 for the control group, experienced an asthma attack.

There are actually a broad range of preventive strategies that are evidence-based, and available without prescription.

    1)   Echinacea Tea: J Altern Complement Med. 2000 Aug;6(4):327-34
    2)   Elderberry:  J Altern Complement Med. 1995 Winter;1(4):361-9.
    3) American Ginseng:  J Altern Complement Med. 2006 Mar;12(2):153-7.
    4) Green Tea: J Nutr. 2011 Oct ;141(10):1862-70. Epub   2011 Aug 10.
    5) Probiotics: Pediatrics. 2009 Aug;124(2):e172-9.
    6) Vitamin D: PLoS One. 2010;5(6):e11088. Epub 2010 Jun 14.

And be sure to take Vitamin D3, which is the natural, assimilable form. Vitamin D2 is synthetic, and does not work as well.

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A Good Night’s Sleep: Essential for Health

This seems self-evident…and yet research studies consistently show that we are sleeping 1 to 2 hours less a night than previous generations. We are also being exposed to artificial light late at night, which interferes with our sleep patterns. Here are 2 recent studies that show how important sleep is to 2 growing populations. First, if you have high blood pressure, check out this article  HERE . If you are diabetic or have heart disease (or are at risk) then please read HERE .  For those who want to know more about our circadian rhythm, you’ll want to read HERE .

As the seasons start changing, sleep patterns may become slightly disturbed. Some folks need to eat a small protein/fat snack before bed to keep their blood sugar regulated. Others just need to eat a meal 2 hours before bed. There is research that shows that for many (especially people with adrenal fatigue), the hours before midnight are “better” for quality sleep than after midnight. Like with diet, there isn’t a “one size fits all”; however, if you are experiencing sleep difficulties, try a few of these easy inexpensive possibilities: 3 mg of the hormone melatonin about one half hour before bed; no television or computer work an hour before going to sleep; reading with a full spectrum light bulb; sleeping with eye shades if you can’t make your bedroom completely dark.

And yes, there are many helpful herbs; however, I find that they should be used only if the above suggestions don’t work. As for essential oils, lavender, sweet marjoram and bergamot are very beneficial. Some folks use one scent and others may need to rotate. Just a drop or 2 on your pillowcase can ease your way into sleep.