Category Archives: Herbs, Herbal Formulations

Fall Starter Kit

Autumn is here and though it is one of my favorite seasons, there are definitely things to be missed about the summer months. Its long days and light, refreshing foods keep us energized and even result in a more positive disposition. And though at times an aggravation, the higher temperatures result in better circulation and more frequent perspiration which naturally expels unnecessary buildup and blockages within the body. This, in turn, keeps us feeling lighter on our feet and more attentive to adequate hydration than full tummies. We are also less inspired to stand before a hot stove and therefore eat more raw fruits and vegetables. By default our bodies organically experience crucial processes and receive health enhancing nutrients they’d otherwise have to rely upon us to facilitate and supplement. Once again I must applaud Mother Nature for this brilliant strategy! And rather than dwell in our loss of the luxury to merely semi participate in our bodies’ wellness, let us embrace this transitional time and revisit some previously mentioned practices.

Cleanse- The start of a season is the perfect time to wash away all that has lingered from our foods, beverages and surrounding environments. It’s an opportune time for making new lifestyle resolutions and cleansing is the appropriate process to reset our systems and prepare our bodies for the coming changes. To achieve that squeaky clean feeling, I refer you back to my fav:  the Ultimate Cleanse by Nature’s Secret. Remember however, if you are still nursing that annoying end of season cold it is best to wait until you have recovered to begin the cleanse.

Strengthen & Tone– Post cleansing care will certainly be enhanced by the whopping 25 billion count of probiotic cultures found in the Green Vibrance super food powder. The ongoing benefit is its potent blend of antioxidant fruits, vegetables, grains and herbs. For those who are turned off by drinking green things, I promise you it is more than worth it. It tastes great in OJ and the color is even toned down a bit by the orange. Close your eyes, take a deep breath and leap!

Adapt & Defend– We most recently covered the importance of a strong and adaptable system to maintaining health and fending off illness; and this supplement is one of the most popular and trusted immune boosters on the market. The Wellness Formula contains the antioxidant VitaTrio, protective minerals Selenium and Zinc, Adaptogenic Herbs and immune system tonics like Astragalus Root, plus the more familiar flu fighters like Garlic and Echinacea. This supplement stays on my love list in part because of its versatility. There are dosing programs to both maintain an already healthy body and heal an ailing one. Use as directed, according to your current state of health, and feel secure in the knowledge that you are insuring wellness from all angles.

Regroup & Regenerate– One of the things I like most about the colder seasons of the year is the opportunities to snuggle up with warm drinks and teas. They are great end of the day treats and simple yet effective sleep aids. If you have not had the pleasure of a cup of Milk Thistle Tea, you simply must try it. The herb has a mild flavor and slightly creamy consistency that blends nicely with honey or agave. Milk Thistle is king in liver cleansing, toning and regenerating, and a healthy liver is fundamental to disease resistance. Please note though, the medicinal potency of this herb is thought to be diluted by water. So, you are better off drinking the tea for general wellness benefits and opting for the concentrated
capsules or tinctures when seeking stronger immunity boosts and healing.

A Final Farewell…

Paying Homage To Filling the Gap With
Long sunlit days providing natural Vitamin D3 for  stronger bones, happier dispositions, and healthier hearts 20 minutes a day of protection free exposure to  the sun, cod liver oil, or 400 IUs of supplemental D3 taken with 5000 IUs of Vitamin A for better utilization
Fresh seasonal apricots, avocados, berries, citrus fruits, melons, lettuces, tomatoes and watercress providing superior  nutrition and antioxidant protection Raw multi-vitamin, multi-mineral supplements like  the Garden of Life’s Vitamin Code series with live nutrients for easier, quicker and fuller absorption

And a Warm Welcome Back

…to apples, dates, cranberries,pears, plums and figs; garlic, shallots, ginger root, pumpkin, butternut squash,sweet potatoes, turnips, yams, oats and amaranth oh my!

Let us not forget the almonds, cashews, pistachios, pecans and all of their savory oils and butters.

Enjoy and even indulge in these fall gems as many of the most praised detoxifiers, immune enhancers, body builders and brain boosters originate from them. I could go on and on, but I’ve made myself hungry and now need a hearty meal to start the day!

Happy Fall Folks, Take Care and BeWell

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Armed and Immune Part II: Allergies… Really?

Last week I wasn’t sure if my sniffling and scratching was due to allergies or the onset of a cold. This week, as I awake to puffy eyes and eagerly await the afternoon to see my face restored to its usual size and shape, I’m leaning more toward allergies as the culprit. And as I watched my dear friend rapidly progress from itchy eyes to a full-blown sneeze attack, any remaining doubt disappeared. Wait a minute though, allergies seem unlikely because the seasons for pollination have passed. Right?

Actually, not quite. I did a little more research, and sure enough, fall allergies are not just figments of our imaginations. Ragweed, which begins to pollinate in August, is considered the greatest trigger of the coming season.
And mold, another offender, will get a tremendous breeding boost when its spores take up residence in the piles of fallen damp leaves soon to decorate our streets and yards.  Both of these irritants can take flight, travel hundreds of miles, and share their joy with unsuspecting victims in faraway places. Nature- got to love it.

But our immune systems sure don’t. They are equally agitated and confused by these bullies-identifying them as harmful threats and
striking back with the same vengeance they would a bacterial or viral
infection. Although last week’s VitaTrio is a wonderful foundation for the immune system, enabling it to protect and sustain us, some assistance from more trigger ready nutrients can offer the immediate relief most desired when up against  inflamed sinuses, watery eyes, runny noses and fatigue.

MSM, or methylsulfonylmethane, is mostly regarded for its ability to heal body tissue and is consequently included in many hair, skin, nail and joint formulas. As a dancer, I’ve used it for years to help care for my overstressed knees and hips, and I was surprised to learn that it “has antiallergic properties equal to or better than those of antihistamines,” helping to detoxify the cells, relieve inflammation and alleviate pain.*

MSM is contained in fresh fish, meats, fruits and milk but is sensitive to food processing procedures like heating and drying and is therefore usually eliminated from our diets before the food can make it to our
plates. Thankfully, supplemental MSM is available in liquid and pill forms and can safely be used in high doses for extended periods of time, without side effects or adverse interactions with other medications.

Combining MSM with a Vitamin C supplement will increase its benefits, as will taking the supplement on a consistent basis to avail a constant supply to our systems. The recommended starting point is 1000 mgs per day, taken in divided doses, twice daily, with meals. Benefits may be experienced in as soon as two days.

Quercetin is one of the bioflavonoid nutrients that are essential to our bodies’ absorption of Vitamin C. Peppers, grapefruits, lemons, apricots, blackberries, elderberries, rosehips and the white material beneath the peels of citrus fruits all contain bioflavonoids. And many Vitamin C supplements are formulated with them for enhanced absorption.

In medical studies, quercetin reduced allergy sufferers’ histamine release by as much as 96%. It decreases the immune system’s response to pollen, certain foods and other allergens such as dust and has also shown potential in treating and preventing asthma symptoms. Quercetin’s absorption
and effectiveness within the body is enhanced by the enzyme bromelain, found in pineapples. Bromelain also reduces inflammation, the root cause of much allergy induced sinus pressure and head pain. Start with 500 mgs of quercetin, 100 mgs of bromelain and 500 mgs of vitamin C together, twice per day, and gradually increase as needed.

Just a Spoon Full of Honey…

Once, out of desperation, I tried an over the counter antihistamine for relief, but I found it to be too drying to my nose and throat and that was almost as uncomfortable as the actual allergy symptoms.
Surprisingly, and luckily, a recommendation of state produced honey panned out and did the trick. You want the honey produced within the state because it contains the pollen you are having the allergic reaction to. This is similar to receiving a vaccine to increase your body’s defenses against a particular virus. Take about one tablespoon, as needed, to provide immediate relief of mild to moderate symptoms and increase overall immunity. I find that the honey works best when taken straight, but it may be easier for some to swallow in a tea. Using it to sweeten lemon, elderberry or rosehips tea will provide a double dose of protection due the quercetin contained in these foods. Until next week…

Arm Yourself and BeWell!


*Phyllis A. Balch, CNC, Prescription for Nutritional Healing 4th Edition. New York, NY: The Penguin Group, 2006

Sweet Dreams

Sleep deprived?

For the last couple years, it seems that my need for sleep has grown. I’ve never been a fan of early rising, but I do know that in my younger years I could function on 3-5 hours, even sans caffeine, without
feeling on the brink of a crash. That is absolutely not the case now. Perhaps it is the stress and craze of life at the moment. The work days and weeks are longer and that does require more energy. And let’s be real, most of us don’t have the freedom and luxury to fight for our right to sleep. Life demands, we
rise to the occasion, sleep takes to the back burner and we make the often empty or half full promise to make it up later in the week. And we can make up the lost hours, sleep in a day or two if we’re lucky and feel more rested. But rest is only one of the many advantages of sleep. What cannot be made up as
easily are the other crucial processes that occur while we sleep: cellular repair, regeneration, protein production, stress hormone reduction, and growth hormone production to name a few.

Ultimately, it is up to each of us to make room in our daily lives for the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep. But on those days that adequate rest seems unattainable, a natural aid can help enhance the quality of our sleep and allow for more biological benefit during the abbreviated time. Please note however that these natural alternatives are still sleep aids and, as such, capable of disrupting our natural cycles when overused.  Best bet is to resort to them only when necessary and for no more than 7 consecutive days at a time. Your physician can provide more specific guidelines based on your individual needs. Most importantly, never combine even a natural sleep aid with alcohol or other pharmaceutical aids and consult with a medical professional if you suspect you are suffering from a chronic sleep disorder. As for those of us experiencing the occasional lack of sleep:

Melatonin, a hormone naturally produced by the body, is available as an over the counter
supplement in potencies ranging 1 to 5 milligrams. Unique benefits are attributed to each the 1mg, 3mg and 5mg doses. Recent research and study indicates that Melatonin also acts as an antioxidant, halts tumor growth and therefore may be a cancer preventative. Supplemental Melatonin circulates the hormone prior to its natural release in our system, thereby altering our own natural sleep rhythm. 1-2mgs can be used to fall asleep more quickly, 3mg to sleep more soundly through the night, and 5mg is known to be helpful in regulating sleep cycles.  Jet lagged travelers supplement in 3 – 5mg doses for this purpose. Because the brain’s pineal gland secretes Melatonin at night and in darkness, people working the “grave yard” shifts are often deficient and more in need of supplementation than others. There are no foods known to increase the body’s Melatonin levels, but sleeping in total darkness will boost your production without supplementation.

Valerian Root, considered a sedative herb, has a very strong calming effect  on the nervous system and has been used for centuries to fight insomnia. Supplemented by itself or alongside other calming substances, it is available in tablets, capsules, teas and tinctures. Despite its centuries’ old use, or maybe because of it, Valerian’s reputation has been mixed and to date the science community deems the available research inconclusive. Though there are no known toxicity issues, some clinical study participants have reported side effects with excessive and prolonged use. Increase sleepiness, grogginess, upset stomach, dizziness and headaches are the most commonly reported; yet it should be noted that those effects have also been experienced and reported by study participants who received a placebo instead of Valerian Root. Additionally, studies have been conducted to gauge the safe and appropriate potency of the herb; and when unpleasant side effects have occurred, the dose used has usually been equal to or greater than 900mg.Taking doses between 450 and 600mg has shown some positive impacts on sleep quality -decreasing the time elapse before falling asleep and reducing the number of times users wake during sleep without stunting alertness or concentration the morning after. Caution should be exercised when taking Valerian for extended periods of time due to some reports of emotional numbness and agitation after prolonged use.

The tincture extractions of Valerian Root are thought to be the most effective for sleep promotion. Perhaps because some of the herb’s active oils are sensitive to high temperatures and may be stripped by the boiling water often used to prepare teas. Many of us enjoy a nice cup of tea before bed, and if this is your preferred method of supplementation keep the water temperature out of the boiling range.

L-Theanine is an amino acid derived from tea leaves and isolated from the Boletus Badius mushroom.
It can be supplemented alone, but it is often used in conjunction with other nutrients for stress relief, mood enhancement and insomnia. It increases Dopamine and GABA levels in the brain and consequently helps to balance emotions and inhibit over activity of the nervous system. L-Theanine seems to work synergistically with both calming and energizing herbs enhancing the other nutrients’ primary
action. Additionally, it acts as an immune booster by increasing the ability of the body’s T-Cells to fight disease. Because it is relatively new to the science community’s attention, research and study are somewhat limited, but its popularity and consequent use as a supplement are growing. An effective dose
for stress reduction has not been firmly established, but to date there are no known toxicity issues with higher doses and few reported adverse reactions. Headache, dizziness and stomach upset are among them. The doses used to treat anxiety range 200-250mg and sleep formulas may contain between 20 and 50mg of L-Theanine. The FDA recommends limiting our daily intake to no more than 1200mg /day.

Currently, my favorite sleep supplement is Beauty Sleep by ResVitále.The full two capsule serving combines 3mg of Melatonin with 50 mg of L-Theanine. It also features a detoxifying Liver blend of Milk Thistle, Turmeric and Artichoke as well as Organic French Red Wine extract for added antioxidant
protection.  My experience with this product is a deeper more restful sleep even when the duration is shortened. I do wake feeling more refreshed and I haven’t experienced any grogginess, headaches or lack of focus the following day. Vegetarians and those more sensitive to allergens can also use this product as it contains no gelatin, corn, soy, wheat, yeast or lactose!

Once again use the natural alternatives as directed by their makers, with care and respect for their potency.

Sweet Dreams and BeWell

Come on, Get Happy: Calm Within the Storm

STRESS 

No matter how much energy we muster up nor what mood booster we seek out, if we do not have a handle on our response to life’s daily stressors their impact on the body will inevitably prevail over the temporary relief of supplemental nutrients. Thankfully Mother Nature provides more than just a means of reacting and remedying imbalances after the fact. She also offers ways to strengthen our systems and better equip them to resist the stressors.  This proactive class of herbs is known as The Adaptogens.

The adaptogenic herbs work specifically on the adrenal glands, improving the balance of our sympathetic nervous system. This is the system that kicks into gear when we perceive a situation as threatening to our status quo. We’ve all heard the phrase, “fight or flight”. This instinctive defense mechanism dates back to our primitive origins and has unfortunately not fully evolved to distinguish between a momentary drama and genuinely life threatening situation. If we don’t rein this reaction in and immediately correct its assumption that our life is at risk, it will advance rapidly and flood the body with an army of hormones ready to act. Too much of this literally causes an implosion, made visible to us in the form of acute illness and sometimes more dramatic and detrimental disease. Stress is thought to be the root cause of 70-80% of all illnesses. Adaptogens help return our bodies to their normal, balanced and stress-free states. The following are potent, commonly used adaptogenic herbs worth getting to know.

Ashwagandha Root  is an ancient Ayurvedic herb loaded with components that increase the body’s production of three very powerful antioxidant enzymes -Super Oxide Dismutase, Catalase and Glutathione Peroxidase. These detoxify our organs and protect our cells and DNA from oxidative damage. Ashwagandha rejuvenates the nervous system; and studies have shown it to elicit effects similar to those of the nutrient  Gamma- Aminobutyric Acid, thereby serving as a potential anti-anxiety aid. Recall from last week’s post that GABA acts as an emotional regulator helping us to maintain balance in our reactions.

Rhodiola Rosea  is a colder climate herb commonly found in energy, adrenal and stress relief formulas. Over the years, it has shown great potential as a mental and physical performance enhancer. It is commonly used to boost mood, improve cardiovascular endurance and recovery, and combat fatigue. Like many other adaptogens, Rhodiola’s high antioxidant content and restorative impact on nervous system function makes it a strong immune booster and anti-ager.  Two primary components thought to be responsible for these effects are rosavin and salidroside. If you decide to supplement Rhodiola, make sure the product contains at least 2% rosavin and .8% salidroside.

Schisandra Berries  are commonly used in the practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine to improve liver function, fight stress and improve physical and mental endurance. Schisandra also helps the body produce Glutathione Peroxidase and has a mild sedative effect resulting in a calming sensation for the body. It has proven effective in relieving the symptoms of emotional stress like dizziness, heart palpitations, and excessive perspiration. This herb has also proven helpful to those living with immune compromising illnesses; however, pregnant and nursing women should avoid Schisandra as should those with High Blood Pressure, peptic ulcers, gall stones and Epilepsy.

To get all three of these herbs in one formula, try Adrenal Health by Gaia Herbs. It is a simple formulation that cuts right to the source of nervous system imbalance, and the versatility of these herbs may make this supplement all you need for general mood and performance enhancement. Simple, clean and direct, just as I like it! Supplement this first on its own, without other products, to truly get a sense of its impact on your system. And for more immediate relief, brew a cup of The Republic of Tea’s Get Charged. It contains Ashwagandha, Hibiscus and other beneficial adaptogens but no caffeine to overstimulate and defeat the purpose.

Well my friends, that concludes the “Come on, Get Happy” series. I hope you’ve found it to be helpful, perhaps even entertaining as we’ve explored the realm of available options in the bad mood buster category. As always, take a moment to consult with your health care professional before beginning any supplement program; and never lose sight of our goal- to BeWell.

Until next week…

Brain Tweakers

Welcome back toCome on, Get Happy”

This week, Brain Tweakers!

As previously stated, one part of my mood enhancement regimen consists of the mental performance formula Neuro1. This is definitely one of my favorite supplements! To break it down superficially, it totally appeals to my inner science geek. It is a powdered formula that you have to shake to mix and activate, and that once activated is so energetic it literally can blow the top off of your mixer. I do not exaggerate one bit here, last Tuesday I lost my mixer’s top on the subway platform. It popped off with a bit of a bang and soared out and into the train tracks after I obviously over did it on the shaking. Needless to say, it is a sensitive and somewhat obnoxious formulation with a lot of power and energy. Stick to secure mixers with screw top closures. Also, the powder is flavored, but be forewarned; it starts sweet and finishes with a dull bitter taste. A little chase with water and you’ll be fine.

Now digging deeper,Neuro1 is a 7 gram dose per 31 gram serving size formula containing six of the mood boosting nutrients we reviewed in last week’s post – Vitamins B6 and B12, L-Tyrosine, Inositol, 5-HTP and Biotin. It also contains the caffeine equivalent of one cup of coffee, 18 grams of carbohydrates, 10 grams of sugar, 5 grams of protein, and antioxidants C, E, Selenium andZinc. Neuro1’s first five, and therefore most abundant, ingredients are Taurine, L-Tyrosine, Glucuronolactone, Magnesium Creatine Chelate and Acetyl L- Carnitine.  Since we’ve already explored L-Tyrosine, let’s delve into the other four.

  • Taurine is an amino acid commonly used in energy drinks like Red Bull and 5 Hour Energy. It is found in very high concentrations within the brain, and it is also found in the central nervous system, heart and skeletal muscles. Taurine helps electrolytes such as sodium, potassium and magnesium flow in and out of the cells. There is a possibility that it also helps combat depression.
  • Glucuronolactone is also commonly found in energy drinks and naturally produced by the body. It is present in most of our connective tissues including the tendons, ligaments and joints. It is also considered a detoxifying chemical.
  • Magnesium Creatine Chelate is a more absorbable and bioavailable form of creatine. Though naturally produced by the body, creatine is often supplemented by athletes for enhanced strength, energy, recovery and expansion of the muscles’ cell size. Creatine needs magnesium to convert to ATP, the fuel our muscles run on. Magnesium Creatine Chelate allows supplement makers to energize us without using simple sugars.
  • Acetyl L-Carnitine, also naturally produced by the body, is a substance derived from carnitine. Carnitine is related to the B-Vitamins but similar in structure to the amino acids. It is most commonly recognized for helping the body use fats for energy and is therefore a popular weight management aid. Acetyl L-Carnitine has demonstrated an anti-aging effect on the brain and nervous system and is even supplemented to delay the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

That rounds out this formulation’s heaviest hitters and they are very promising for a variety of reasons; but they are not necessarily my favorites in the mental performance category.

Those would be Huperzine A and Vinpocetine.

I love these guys just as much as I do my dear Inositol! Be aware though, these substances are quite potent and should only be supplemented in small doses- no more than 200 micrograms/day of Huperzine A and  5 milligrams/day of Vinpocetine– to avoid any possible side effects and adverse reactions with medications. Those taking blood thinners should not supplement Vinpocetine, nor should anyone with low blood pressure, seizures and/or bleeding disorders. 

Both of these nutrients are derived from plants. But Vinpocetine is a synthetic substance developed from the leaves of the Lesser Periwinkle Plant. It is believed to increase blood and oxygen flow within the brain.

Huperzine A is a highly purified and manipulated substance sourced from Chinese Club Moss. It is known to increase levels of the neurotransmitter Acetylcholine that carries information throughout the brain and body. Acetylcholine helps to quicken the speed of our thoughts and, “…juices the mind to be flexible, quick in movement, creative and innovative…to increase our intuition, language skills, and memory retention”.* Glorious! Right? But I’m sure you can see how too much can be a problem.Acetylcholine balance au natural can be achieved by eating avocados, dairy products and nuts.

Though I currently need the quick pick-me-up effects offered by powdered and liquid supplements, I’ve had great success with the pill form supplement Focus Formula. It is a simpler formulation that includes the Omega 3 fatty acid decosahexaenoic acid (DHA) that is found in large concentrations within the brain. Focus Formula takes a couple of weeks to get into the system, but once it’s in it does deliver a good mid-day kick.

Other noteworthy brain boosters include:

Alpha Lipoic Acid a potent anti-oxidant found in spinach and broccoli that allows our cells to use sugar to produce energy.
DMAE (dimethylaminoethanol) a chemical similar to choline that is involved in the process of learning and retaining information and is helpful in increasing focus and alertness. It is best to take as needed and not on a daily basis.
Ginkgo Biloba an anti-oxidant herb originating from China that is known to increase oxygen supply to the brain and blood flow to the heart, brain, and body. It continues to be studied for it potential to strengthen the body  and help it fight  illnesses  that deteriorate memory and cause chronic neuromuscular pain.
Phenylalanine an essential amino acid not produced by the body that can cross the blood brain barrier and therefore directly affect brain chemistry. The body can convert it into tyrosine. Pregnant women and those suffering from diabetes, high blood pressure and anxiety attacks should not supplement this. Phenylalanine is used to make the artificial sweetener aspartame.
Phosphatidyl Serine a substance produced by the brain and abundantly found in nerve cells.  It has been known to enhance learning capability and short-term memory. It is thought to have an anti-aging effect on the brain.

Care and caution should be exercised when using any substance, natural or synthetic, to impact brain chemistry and function. My recommendations after all has been discussed and reviewed by your medical professionals are:

1.start with individual nutrients instead of formulations

2.first work with the whole herbs instead of their active ingredient extractions

3.begin with a clean slate, supplementing and layering ingredients one at a time

4.always adhere to a supplement’s warning label

In short, have fun but take your time. Next week, the stress buffers!

Until Then,

BeWell!

*Patt Lind-Kyle, Heal Your Mind, Rewire Your Brain. Santa Rosa, CA: Energy Psychology Press, 2009

Come on, Get Happy!!

This week’s post was originally going to focus on considerations for selecting a multi-vitamin but a very popular question came up that happens to be one of my favorite subjects- mood enhancement.

This is also one of the reasons I started BeWellWarrior. I was having one of those days we’ve all had when you just don’t know how you’re going to muster up the will to get out of bed, out of the house and into the long day ahead. That day, the question I asked out loud was, “How much does it really take to keep up the pace?” I thought about all the different ingredients I assembled to get out there and have a productive day, an enjoyable day. When I got on the train I took a look at the faces of the other passengers. Many were passed out asleep others were tuned out and into I-pods, games, or books. And some looked as though they’d had the exact same morning as I or unfortunately, worse. So here we have it-optimism, enthusiasm and feeling imperturbable. Can these be obtained from a supplement?

This is an extensive subject I think best covered in a series of posts. Getting and staying revved up for the day is about more than a good mood. It is also about our ability to adapt, focus and maintain an energized mind. We’ll touch on those later. But first, the bad mood busters!

Before we delve into the possible antidotes, let’s take a look at the various reasons we may be experiencing the blues.

Chronic Fatigue                 Stress                    Fear/Anxiety                     Hormonal Imbalance

Chronic Over Stimulation              Sleep Deprivation            Dehydration       Vitamin / Mineral Deficiency

Let me quickly reiterate that I am not an advocate of self diagnosis. Many of the above are serious conditions where melancholy is merely one symptom, and anything experienced chronically warrants consultation with a medical professional. It could save you from ongoing discomfort, as well as time and energy. For others who occasionally experience these states, first..

 Explore the root cause.                Avoid numbing the situation.                     Try a behavioral remedy.

Perfect examples are the cases of sleep deprivation and stress overload. If you can address these by going to bed earlier, scheduling a daily cat nap or incorporating meditation, supplementation may prove unnecessary.

With that said, here is what I’ve tried:

The B’s.These B vitamins are part of a larger family that works best in concert with one another. A good source for the full B-Complex is brewer’s yeast. Toxicity from high doses and long-term use is rare with most B vitamins because your body will excrete what it does not need.

  • B5, Pantothenic Acid- counteracts stress by supporting the adrenal glands’ production of anti-stress hormones. Fatigue is often a sign of B5 deficiency. Therapeutic doses for adults range 250-500 mg/day, twice a day.
  •  B6, Pyridoxine-seemingly connected to hormonal balance and water shifts within women, is found mostly in meats and whole grains. Nervousness, irritability and depression are a few common signs of B6 deficiency. Dosages greater than 200 mg/day are still being studied for possible side effects.
  • B12, Cobalamin- needed for the health of the nervous system. Animal proteins contain the most significant amounts. Mood changes with mental slowness may be an early sign of deficiency. Therapeutic doses range 500-1000 micrograms (mcgs)/day.
  • Inositol- used by some as a mild anxiety antidote. Whole, unprocessed grains, cantaloupe and lecithin are good sources. Caffeine can cause inositol deficiency. Many reports of relief from anxiety are anecdotal and experienced with daily dosages of 500-1000 mg/day. I can personally attest to these benefits, but I do recognize the impact our belief in a remedy has on its effectiveness. There is no known toxicity with inositol, but I did experience mild headaches when I supplemented in doses higher than 700 mg twice daily.

Amino Acids are the building blocks of protein. Most processes in the body including brain, nervous system, hormone and immune function involve the use of some form of protein, either produced by the body or ingested. They are often supplemented in the “L” form because it is either the more active or most absorbable form.

  • 5HTP, 5 Hydroxytryptophan- is a form of the amino acid tryptophan, found in flesh foods like turkey, eggs and dairy products; it is responsible for the contented laziness experienced after our Thanksgiving dinners. Tryptophan is the precursor of the neurotransmitter serotonin that regulates mood and sleep.
  • Tyrosine- stimulates the nervous system as one of the precursors of adrenaline and thyroid hormones. “As an antidepressant, 500-1000 mg of L-tyrosine can be taken two or three times during the day. Since tyrosine has a more stimulating antidepressant effect, taking 1000-1500 mg of L-tryptophan at night…may be a good therapeutic combination to help in mild to moderate depression”. *
  • GABA, Gamma-amino butyric acid- functions like an emotional regulator and is involved in the production of endorphins.  This is a neurotransmitter within the central nervous system that can also be supplemented. “When GABA is deficient, the emotions and anxiety…are uncontrollable”. ** It is found in spinach, broccoli, walnuts and almonds and supplemented in divided doses totaling 500-1500 mg/day. Excessive amounts of GABA have been shown to increase anxiety, and it should not be combined with alcohol or antidepressant medications.

SAMe, S-adenosylmethionine- is produced by the body’s cells and supplemented in doses of 1600 mg/ day for antidepressant benefits. As with most substances found within the body, it has many uses including joint health and liver function. Because SAMe supplements are typically on the pricier side, I found it hard to consistently take in the higher dosages indicated for mood balance.

Not everything that is natural is completely safe. The following should be used with caution due to known side effects and negative interactions with other herbs and medications.

St. John’s Wort, antidepressant                 Kava Kava, calming                Valerian Root, sedative 

My current mood enhancement regime consists of two supplements, taken on alternate days of the week:

  • Neuro1 Mental Performance Formula, by Nutrition 53. This is a powdered formulation that combines many of the above listed nutrients with others for focus and alertness. It picks me up, takes the edge off, doesn’t cause me to crash and doesn’t keep me from sleeping, even when taken later in the afternoon.
  • Coco Energy Restore, by Resvitale. These gel caps contain cocoa powder, herbs that help the body adapt to stress and caffeine sourced from natural tea extract.

I generally prefer to take mood enhancers in powder or liquid forms because the effects are felt more quickly, but many encapsulated supplements are now designed with such advanced delivery systems that the body is able to access the nutrients almost as quickly as if they were in liquid form. All of the supplements listed here are available in a variety of forms that allow their benefits to be felt within 20-30 minutes of taking them.

Lastly, don’t feel pressured to start with the maximum dose. Everyone is different and you may not need the higher amounts to feel the desired effects. Our bodies do grow tolerant of substances, causing us to need stronger doses to achieve the same effects. Additionally our minds can become dependent on those felt effects. Gradually increasing the dosage and going supplement free one day a week and/or seven consecutive days for every four weeks of supplementation is a good way to prevent this.

Until Next Week,

BeWell!

*Elson M. Haas, M.D., Staying Healthy with Nutrition, the Complete Guide to Diet and Nutritional Medicine. Berkeley, CA: Celestial Arts, 1992

**Patt Lind-Kyle, Heal Your Mind, Rewire Your Brain. Santa Rosa, CA: Energy Psychology Press, 2009

Keeping it Clean

First and foremost, thank you for visiting and supporting BeWellWarrior. Your comments and questions are much appreciated and I’m thrilled to have offered useful info for some and simply shared a similar experience with others.  On that note, let’s jump right into last week’s most frequently posed question.

Cleansing…

It’s perfectly logical with the onset of summer. A change in season often signals us to take special care in tidying and cleaning our homes, and feeling inspired to do the same for the body is a natural extension of this instinct. Cleansing gives the body the opportunity to rid itself of accumulated waste from undigested foods, preservatives, additives and other substances absorbed from the environment like exhaust, fumes, and even chemicals from water, detergents and cosmetics.

Signs that it may be time to cleanse:

  • Feelings of lethargy and/or irritability
  • Indigestion, constipation or irregular bowel movements
  • Fluid retention and bloating
  • Skin eruptions such as acne and/or rashes
  • Dullness or discoloration in the whites of the eyes
  • Phlegm and lung congestion
  • Dizziness, migraines or headaches
  • Nausea, gas and weight loss

The types of symptoms you are experiencing will help determine which organs and systems are affected, what types of cleansers are appropriate, and which nutrients may be helpful.

lethargy , irritability Liver  dandelion, milk thistle
indigestion , constipation Colon/Intestinal Tract plantain herb, cascara sagrada, psyllium
fluid retention Kidneys and Urinary Tract cranberry, uva ursi
skin eruptions Blood red clover leaf, echinacea*
lung congestion Respiratory System mullein
dizziness, migraines Heavy Metal Toxicity** glutathione, NAC ( n-acetyl-cysteine )
nausea , weight loss Parasite Infection** goldenseal, wormwood

*Speak with your physician first if you are taking cholesterol lowering medications.

**Consult with your physician for accurate diagnosis and treatment.

When we experience more than one of these symptoms simultaneously,  are planning to change our diet (i.e. switching to vegetarianism, starting a weight loss program), or its been more than six months since our last cleanse, a total body detox may be warranted.

Renew Life’s line includes a first timers’ total body cleansing system that is both gentle and effective. The line also carries heavy metal and parasite removal systems. Nature’s Secret makes colon and total body cleansers including, my system of choice, the Ultimate Cleanse. This is a strong system that works through all of the body’s elimination channels. It also contains laxative herbs that can make using it during a busy week less than ideal. I’d suggest taking a probiotic complex afterward to replace the protective bacteria stripped by the process, especially if you are planning to travel out of your home country or spend time in any environment that might stress the immune system.

How should I prepare for a cleanse?

Because cleansing can weaken the body’s defenses, doing so while you are fighting or recuperating from an illness is not advised. Strengthen the body with vegetables, whole grains and highly nutritious foods. Take your multi-vitamin for a nutritional boost before the cleanse.

How long should the cleanse last?

Depending on your individual constitution and type of cleanser used, detoxification can take anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of months. The length of time you choose to cleanse should be determined by the demands of your lifestyle, your current state of health, and your goals for cleansing. If your current daily life involves a lot of multi-tasking and errand running, you may want to wait until you have a period of downtime as the process can be draining. If you are cleansing to prepare for a dramatic change in your diet or lifestyle, then you may benefit from the discipline required to complete a month-long program.

Do I have to fast while cleansing?

Though fasting is used as a cleansing method, it is neither necessary for thorough cleansing nor appropriate for everyone’s lifestyle. Eating light, simple and wholesome meals is fine, and choosing organic and fresh or minimally processed foods over fast and frozen is even better. Fruit naturally detoxifies and helps the process along. If you can eliminate complex seasonings and complicated food combinations, this will help reduce the body’s workload and give it more energy to cleanse and repair itself. Drinking 8-10 glasses of filtered water is also important as it helps flush accumulated toxins from the body.

Most importantly, have patience with the cleansing process and respond to your body’s needs. The subsequent after glow and light energetic feelings are worth it. 

As Always, BeWell!