Defy the Odds: Unleashing the Secrets to Radical Health with the Ultimate Longevity Blueprint (Part 1)

Welcome, fellow seeker of vitality and longevity!

In a world where traditional norms paint a bleak picture of inevitable decline into chronic disease and declining health as we age, it's time to break free from those constraints and boldly declare, "It doesn’t have to be this way!"

Despite what conventional wisdom may preach, our potential for healing and thriving knows no bounds.

Rising above the status quo means redefining what's possible. Rejecting the notion of aging as a one-way street, we can embrace the prospect of vibrant health and seize the opportunity for rejuvenation and radical restoration.

Armed with knowledge, tools, and a rebellious spirit, we CAN defy the odds and reclaim control over our health and well-being. It won't be easy, but with every informed and disciplined step forward, we'll shatter the limitations of the traditional aging paradigm and pave the way for a life of radical health and longevity.

So, are you ready to embark on this journey towards Radical Health? Are you ready to declare, "I CAN!" and break free from the constraints of the past? Then let's join forces and embark on this adventure! Together, we'll defy the odds and emerge triumphant.

Rethinking Health and Disease

To embark on the path to Radical Health, it's crucial to grasp the fundamental models of health and disease and be willing to challenge conventional beliefs. Knowledge empowers change. Without knowledge, change may occur sporadically, akin to a pole vaulter clearing 14 feet by chance, or an amateur golfer achieving a hole in one. However, for sustained health empowerment and disease reversal, understanding how a disease develops in the body is essential. Armed with this knowledge, one can strategically intervene to halt or even reverse its progression. We must understand how risk factors evolve into disease and pay attention to the signals our bodies give us.

Let's take a closer look at the prevailing models of health and disease. For too long, we've been conditioned to believe that illness is an inevitable consequence of aging—that as we grow older, our bodies just break down, leading to chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. But what if I told you that this doesn't have to be the case?

I challenge the notion that aging by default has to equal gradual decline.

Breaking Free from the Old Paradigm

In this part of your journey towards Radical Health, I encourage you to break free from the constraints of the old paradigm and embrace a life characterized by vitality and resilience. I challenge deterministic views and explore the fascinating world of epigenetics, microbiology, and mitochondrial health.

Armed with this knowledge, I outline strategies for optimizing our internal and external environments, paving the way for a future filled with vitality and longevity. It's time to take control of our health and well-being and embrace Radical Health.

But breaking free from the old paradigm isn't just about acquiring knowledge—it's also about shifting our mindset and embracing a new way of thinking about health and wellness. Instead of viewing our genes as our destiny, we can see them as a blueprint that can be modified and influenced by our environment and lifestyle choices.

I also delve into the critical role of mitochondria in cellular health, uncovering strategies for enhancing mitochondrial function and supporting these vital cellular powerhouses. Yet, even as we strive to optimize our internal environment, we confront the sobering reality of environmental toxins—a silent burden that threatens our well-being.

Through mindfulness and conscious living, I outline ways to minimize exposure to harmful substances, whether they lurk in medications, beauty products, household cleaners, plastics, and in the air we breathe. By taking control of our external environment, we take a crucial step towards reclaiming control over our health and well-being, paving the way for a future filled with vitality and longevity.

The Ultimate Longevity Blueprint

Reboot Center’s Ultimate Longevity Blueprint is the comprehensive guide to optimizing your well-being and unlocking the secrets to vitality and longevity. This blueprint serves as a roadmap for transforming your life from the inside out.

Central to the Ultimate Longevity Blueprint is the role of nutrition as a catalyst for radical health. Yes, proper nutrition can indeed reverse disease! Real food is powerful medicine. Through nutrient-dense meals and therapeutic food choices, we cultivate a deep sense of vitality and well-being from within. On the flip side, conventional ultra-processed food is like a slow-drip poison to our system. 

The journey towards Radical Health extends beyond nutrition—other important elements include proper hydration, detoxification, and balance in all aspects of our lives. Through daily habits, exercise, and exposure to sunshine, both our physical as well as our mental and emotional well-being are nourished. Through practices such as self-care, gratitude, and cultivating inner silence, we tap into the boundless reservoirs of vitality that lie within us.

As you incorporate the principles of the Ultimate Longevity Blueprint into your daily routine, consider keeping track of your progress (I suggest maintaining a journal). You may observe that bothersome acid reflux diminishing, your sleep quality improving, and your energy levels soaring. Initially, these changes may be subtle. However, before long, you'll likely experience more noticeable improvements—such as reduced joint pain, enhanced mental clarity, more favorable lab results, or….?

Conclusion

Are you prepared to shatter the constraints of time and unlock the secrets to boundless vitality? Then let's embark on this extraordinary journey together. The path to Radical Health awaits, beckoning us to defy the odds, rewrite the rules of our health journey, and unleash the full potential of our well-being.

Are you in?

Start today with the Ultimate Longevity Blueprint, your ultra-curated 7-week step-by-step health revitalization protocol.

Why? 

Because the rest of your life starts today. What are you going to do with it?


woman meditating on beach

Mindfulness Meditation and Chronic Disease Management

Mindfulness meditation is not only good for stress-reduction, it has a plethora of other health benefits. Many illnesses can be mitigated, if not completely managed, through a consistent meditation practice. It is a powerful “self-healing" tool that is fairly easy to implement.

Meditation has been shown to have positive changes that can actually affect function and structure in the brain. In addition, it may improve other markers of health and well-being, some of which are discussed below.

For those wondering if meditation may help you, I’ve provided a short summary of some of the research that has been done to show its benefits in the following conditions:

Immune health

Stress has a large impact on the immune system. Auto-immune conditions (ie. the immune system “attacking” the body) are typically managed through pharmaceutical medications. Natural medicines can also help modulate and improve immune function, but addressing the mind and spirit is key. Mindfulness meditation has been shown to help lower markers such as the main stress hormone, cortisol, in addition to lowering inflammatory markers often implicated in auto-immune conditions, such as TNF-alpha and C-reactive protein (1).

For those who are susceptible to recurrent infections, Mindfulness Meditation can be very effective. In fact, a 9-month randomized controlled study including 154 adults showed a decreased incidence, severity and duration of upper respiratory illnesses such as colds and flus with such meditation (2).

Chronic pain and depression

Mindfulness meditation may significantly decrease chronic pain as well as depression (3). The prefrontal cortex plays a role in depression while it also modulates and can lower pain perception, mainly through dopamine. Meditation is one of the activities that stimulate this area, which is why it can be so effective (4).

Similarly, people with diagnosed fibromyalgia benefit from meditation and other activities that help them practice “acceptance, non-attachment, and social engagement” (5).

Type 2 Diabetes and Hypertension

An 8-week study with 49 participants showed that those attending mindfulness classes twice weekly had significant health improvements, including lower LDL (bad cholesterol) and inflammatory markers over the control group, who attended a health education class. Participants practicing meditation also showed increases in focus, confidence, relaxation, and happiness; decreases in fatigue, anger, and loneliness (6).

Other Conditions 

Anxiety, sleep problems, and fatigue are among other conditions that mindfulness meditation may help manage (6).

With all the promising benefits of meditation that have been shown thus far, it would be wonderful to see more research with documented clinical success. However, if you are willing to implement a consistent practice, you may cultivate your own "self-healing" experience!

Resources

  1. Pascoe, M.C., Thompson, D.R., Jenkins, Z.M. and Ski, C.F., 2017. Mindfulness mediates the physiological markers of stress: systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of psychiatric research95, pp.156-178.
  2. Barrett, B., Hayney, M. S., Muller, D., Rakel, D., Ward, A., Obasi, C. N., … & West, R. (2012). Meditation or exercise for preventing acute respiratory infection: a randomized controlled trial. The Annals of Family Medicine10(4), 337-346.
  3. Hilton, L., Hempel, S., Ewing, B.A., Apaydin, E., Xenakis, L., Newberry, S., Colaiaco, B., Maher, A.R., Shanman, R.M., Sorbero, M.E. and Maglione, M.A., 2016. Mindfulness meditation for chronic pain: systematic review and meta-analysis. Annals of Behavioral Medicine51(2), pp.199-213.
  4. Ong, W.Y., Stohler, C.S. and Herr, D.R., 2019. Role of the prefrontal cortex in pain processing. Molecular neurobiology56(2), pp.1137-1166.
  5. Adler-Neal, A.L. and Zeidan, F., 2017. Mindfulness meditation for fibromyalgia: mechanistic and clinical considerations. Current rheumatology reports19(9), p.59.
  6. Lee, S.H., Hwang, S.M., Kang, D.H. and Yang, H.J., 2019. Brain education-based meditation for patients with hypertension and/or type 2 diabetes: A pilot randomized controlled trial. Medicine98(19), p.e15574.

heart

Love your Heart

February is National Heart Month, so there’s no better time to give some love to the ticker! Cardiovascular health is essential to overall well-being. The following suggestions are all ways to manage risks associated with cardiovascular disease. The risks include high blood pressure, high blood lipids, high blood sugar, being overweight, and inflammatory diet/lifestyle.

 

Diet and Exercise:

Maintaining a good diet and regular exercise should be part of any heart health plan. Following diets like the mediterranean diet which focus on fruits, veggies, whole grains, and heart healthy fats/oils such as nuts, seeds, fish, avocado, and olive oil can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease1. When it comes to physical activity regular moderate to high intensity exercise that gets your heart rate up to target is best2. See my previous post for more on finding out how to accomplish your exercise goals.

 

Stress and Emotions:

Stress and emotions are also a important factor in managing heart disease3. Reducing stress/anger and having love in your life should not be overlooked. Having your salivary cortisol measured can provide a window into how well stress is being managed. Then a plan can be created to improve your stress response. Addressing mental health concerns such as depression and anxiety is an important piece as well.

 

Cardiovascular Tests:

In addition to basic metabolic and lipid blood tests Reboot offers advanced cardiovascular health tests. A NMR Lipoprofile test is one such test that not only measures your “good” and “bad” cholesterol but also reports cholesterol particle and size, which gives more specific information about heart health. In addition to this, the test evaluates insulin resistance or high blood sugar. Keeping your blood sugar well controlled is essential to prevent damage to blood vessels, which can lead to heart disease. Another test often overlooked but worth considering is high sensitivity C-reactive protein or hsCRP. This test is a general marker for inflammation in the body and is often elevated with heart disease. Think of inflammation as the match that starts the fire of heart disease.

 

Naturopathic Treatment: a plethora of options!

Naturopathic integrative medicine offers a wealth of nutritional, herbal, and homeopathic support to address all of these risk factors, without pharmaceuticals. There are far too many wonderful ways to support the cardiovascular system to mention here, and treatment is always customized to you as an individual.

 

To become a Reboot Center patient, click here.

 

References:

  1. De Lorgeril M, Renaud S, Mamelle N, et al. Mediterranean alpha-linolenic acid-rich diet in secondary prevention of coronary heart disease. Lancet. 1994;343(8911):1454-9.
  2. Tanasescu M, Leitzmann MF, Rimm EB, Willett WC, Stampfer MJ, Hu FB. Exercise type and intensity in relation to coronary heart disease in men. JAMA. 2002;288(16):1994-2000.
  3. Smith GD, Ben-shlomo Y, Beswick A, Yarnell J, Lightman S, Elwood P. Cortisol, testosterone, and coronary heart disease: prospective evidence from the Caerphilly study. Circulation. 2005;112(3):332-40.

healthy woman

The REBOOT Model: Beyond Chronic Disease

Recover from chronic disease? Waitaminute!

One doesn't hear that said much...But, consider it an absolute possibility, given the proper testing and a targeted recovery program.

Over the course of many years in practice, caring for and learning from patients, consulting with other health care providers, reading the literature, and thinking about this a lot....I have come to understand, intimately, the fundamental differences between Eastern (Chinese, Ayurvedic and others), Western, naturopathic, and integrative approaches to health and wellness. Through this process I have learned that most* chronic disease can be....and I hope that I don't get in trouble for writing this....cured.

 

How Does Chronic Disease Happen?

Chronic disease arises when the body is unable to stay in homeostatic balance primarily because of:

  1. Lack of nutrients: when your body is provided with sufficient nutrients, then it can maintain, repair, and restore itself. 
  2. Lack of sleep: During sleep, the body repairs itself. Chronic insomnia hinders necessary cellular repair mechanisms.
  3. Excessive toxic exposure: toxins inhibit, damage, and block enzymes and hormones, displace vitamins and minerals, damage cell membranes, DNA, and modify gene expression. In essence, toxins make it difficult for your body to do its job.
  4. Excessive chronic stress: prolonged stress can poison. It impacts the immune system by raising catecholamines and suppressor T cells levels. It reduces insulin sensitivity (think diabetes), it can alter acid concentration in the stomach (think reflux), contribute to arterial plaque buildup, and even contribute to tumor development. Yep.

 

Get Beyond Chronic Disease with the REBOOT Model:

There are two simple but critical principles at the foundation of the REBOOT Model, upon which testing and treatment is based:

  1. The body is innately self-healing
  2. The body is extraordinarily intelligent and knows itself inside and out (literally), down to the smallest neutrino. In its infinite wisdom, unless it is very compromised, your body knows:
    • Where to channel nutrients
    • How to direct its many metabolic processes
    • How to make its own cells, enzymes, neurotransmitters, hormones, etc.
    • How to get rid of (most) toxins and cellular debris

Unlike the standard Western failed treatment approach to chronic disease, the REBOOT Model doesn’t offer “crutches” or quick “fixes.” The success of the REBOOT Model lies in the fact that it simply supports the structure and function of cells, tissues, and organs. That is pretty much all there is to it, yesssiireee.

Consider the Plant Metaphor: If you provide a plant with sufficient sunlight, nutrient-laden soils, and clean water, it will thrive.

Similarly, if you provide your body with sufficient light, sleep, activity, nutrients, water, while avoiding stress and toxins, your body can change its own oil, repair its own leaks, grease its own joints, heal its own cuts. In essence, given the proper foundational support, your body can successfully maintain, repair, and restore itself, without pharmaceutics, 99.99% of the time.

Each system in the body has its own challenges and its own requirements. Our first REBOOT Program just rolled out at Reboot Center, the Heart REBOOT Program, and there are 7 more system-specific programs on the way:

  • Cognitive Health REBOOT Program
  • Gastrointestinal REBOOT Program
  • Hormone REBOOT Program
  • Immune REBOOT Program
  • Mental/Emotional REBOOT Program
  • Musculoskeletal REBOOT Program
  • Neurodevelopmental REBOOT Program
  • Thyroid REBOOT Program

If you are interested in pre-registering for one of these, please email me, and I will keep you posted.

Treatment is targeted, individualized to each patient, and powerfully successful.

 

*Understandably, there are conditions that cannot be cured and where the REBOOT Model should not be used, such as conditions where structural damage is beyond repair (such as with liver cirrhosis) or congenital issues (such as congenital heart defects or familial osteochondritis). 

 

To become a Reboot Center patient, click here.


heart model

Heart REBOOT Program: Win Back your Heart!

Are you ready to actually reverse your heart disease, hypertension, coronary artery disease, and arrhythmia?

Robust and unrestricted health should be, hands down, our most prized possession. There ought to be nothing more important than a healthy body through which to experience life.

You probably don’t want to be slowed down by chest tension, shortness of breath, episodes of irregular heart beats, or leg cramps. You want to be FREE to yodel from a Nepalese mountaintop, go on diving adventures, ride bareback in the snow, host dinner parties with ease and joy, and whitewater raft with your friends, without being tethered to your symptoms, doctor’s office, or pharmacy hours.

Our Western medical system is centered around drugs that treat disease, surgical procedures that cut out disease, and EKGs, colonoscopies, DEXA scans, mammograms MRIs, CT scans, and other state-of-the art imaging techniques that visualize disease. This system costs trillions of dollars annually. And each one of us is helping to foot the bill through our taxes, insurance premiums and deductibles, and out-of-pocket medical expenses.

The kicker question, though is: After all that treatment, are you truly freed from your nagging chronic condition? Or do you leave the doctor’s office with a prescription that needs to be filled every month, while you keep our fingers crossed that the ghost of unsolicited side effects doesn’t come knocking on your door?

You deserve better.

Healthful food, clean water, proper activity, and quality sleep are painfully marginalized in Western medicine, the reasons for which are the subject of a future post.

The Western medical paradigm manages acute trauma and life-threatening disease in an extraordinarily successful way. Acute care is its ever-so-brightly shining light, and I am a firm advocate of emergency rooms, burn centers, and antibiotics when they are truly indicated.

Chronic conditions, not so much. People with chronic issues are begging to be cured, and not simply managed with a finicky, and perhaps costly, drug regimen forever more.

It’s time to seriously shed the shackles of chronic disease! (YES, it’s possible!)

I have developed the REBOOT Model to chronic disease care, upon which the Heart Reboot Program is based.

 

The Heart REBOOT Program:

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US. With the current Western medical paradigm, common tests used to diagnose cardiovascular disease include blood pressure readings, blood tests (including cardiac enzymes, kidney function tests, cholesterol and other lipid levels, and electrolytes), echocardiograms, electrocardiograms, holter monitors, stress tests, contrast CTs, and cardiac catheterizations, among others.

What do these tests actually do? They show late-stage disease, which rears up after years of improper maintenance of cells and tissues. At this point, the goal would be to effectively reverse the disease by nourishing cells and healing tissues. But, it's never too early to get on the prevention track!

The Heart REBOOT Program is a comprehensive, drug-free approach involving precise testing and individualized treatment to reverse heart disease and associated diseases as well as prevent future cardiovascular disease.

The Heart REBOOT Program Assessment includes:

  1. Testing for deficiencies:
    1. Select vitamins and minerals
    2. Essential fatty acids
    3. Amino acids
    4. Enzymes
    5. Other specific compounds
  2. Testing for toxicities:
    1. Heavy metals
    2. Environmental pollutants
    3. Electromagnetic radiation
  3. Testing for other cardiovascular markers
  4. Sleep assessment
  5. Nutritional assessment
  6. Stress assessment
  7. Functional Blood Assessment
  8. Physical examination

The Heart REBOOT Program Treatment is targeted, individualized to each patient, and powerfully successful.

The goal: dare I say "cure"? It's about time we reclaim this term and concept in full force!

My standards are high.

Hop on board.

Change your life.

Start here.

 

Disclaimer: Please don't discontinue taking medications or make any other changes to your treatment regimen without discussing these with your physician beforehand. The content of this blog is NOT to replace the advice of your physician. If you suffer from conditions including heart failure, heart valve disease, or congenital heart disease, these may include structural changes that are not reversible with the Heart REBOOT Program.

 

References:

https://www.nhs.uk/news/heart-and-lungs/study-says-theres-no-link-between-cholesterol-and-heart-disease/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3209548/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3341916/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1849948/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3798856/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5067287/

 


Fresh healing herbs

Homeopathy Basics for Beginners & Skeptics

"What is homeopathy, really?"... We integrative physicians get this question a LOT! 

Homeopathy is commonly confused with naturopathic or herbal medicine. It is not a synonym, but rather a specific modality used within the broad scope of natural medicine. It emerged through observation of the phenomena that “like cures like” in the 18th century. 

Homeopathic remedies are dilute preparations of natural substances sourced from plants, minerals, and even metals or animals. The medicines are typically so dilute that there is not a detectible whole particle of the original substance left (it is mainly water). Homeopathic medicines work through using a specific noxious but minute stimulus to encourage the body's natural ability to heal. This means it is fairly gentle and low-risk.

Sounds great, but how do I know that homeopathy really works?

Since the way homeopathy works seems a little, well, "woo", it rightfully attracts a healthy amount of skepticism. I myself had to be convinced that homeopathy was effective through using it as a patient, as a doctor, and by staying informed about well-designed research studies. 

My personal experience

This is what really got me hooked on homeopathy. As an ND student at Bastyr University, I seemed to have a knack for homeopathic prescribing. I figured I should also try it as a patient because I was a little skeptical about its effectiveness. I had some chronic health conditions and had already tried just about everything to minimize my need for pharmaceutical medications with negative effects. My diet was healthy and clean, I exercised, and I took many herbs and supplements. However, there was something deeper that none of those medicines truly touched. I was left with some very pesky health challenges. Some of the remedies my homeopath had prescribed resolved aspects of my illnesses permanently, quickly and obviously. Other times, healing was more gradual, but sticking with it as part of my regular health care has been priceless. 

As a doctor, I find great joy seeing people who have also tried so many things finally get relief with the right homeopathic remedy. It also works well for those new to naturopathic medicine or with limited resources.

Research in homeopathy 

For folks who also enjoy research, here are brief highlights from a few of my favorite published studies:

A case study that one of my teachers spearheaded showed the successful treatment of chronic Hepatitis C using homeopathy. As Hepatitis C progresses, it causes liver fibrosis that is considered irreversible. Remarkably, in one of the cases, a liver biopsy confirmed that after homeopathic treatment, the patient’s liver fibrosis had reversed (1).

A very well-designed randomized, double-blind clinical trial showed individualized homeopathy to be a safe and effective treatment for depression and menopausal symptoms when compared with both placebo and a standard, well-researched antidepressant, Fluoxetine (Prozac). Side effects were minimal. Both homeopathy and fluoxetine were found to be effective antidepressants for improving depression in climacteric women after a 6-week treatment; additionally, homeopathy, but not fluoxetine, was found to improve menopausal symptoms (2).

"I've tried homeopathy that I picked up over-the-counter, but I am not sure it helped."

I have heard this many times. I almost wish that it was not available over the counter, because that is not how it was intended to be used.

Classical, or constitutional, homeopathic medicine is highly individualized with over 3,000 remedies your practitioner can choose from to match to your specific symptoms. There are remedies that are commonly used and fairly simple to prescribe, ie Arnica for muscle injuries. However, I recommend seeing an experienced homeopath in most cases, since they have the skill set to prescribe remedies that are more likely to work well.

A 2012 NHIS survey found that “homeopathy users who saw a practitioner were significantly more likely to feel that homeopathy was ‘very important in maintaining health and well-being’ and that it helped their health condition ‘a great deal’ than were homeopathy users who did not see a practitioner” (3).

When to consider homeopathy as part of your medical care

Most of my experience and training is in using classical homeopathy to treat mental health and neuropsychiatric disorders. For example, I have seen improve conditions in OCD, ADHD, autism, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, as well as PANS and PANDAS, which are pediatric neuropsychiatric conditions associated with infections. However, it can be used in many other types of conditions, and I have used it for other complaints such as heart palpitations, chronic vaginal pain and/or bacterial infections, chronic sinusitis or digestive complaints.

If you are curious about homeopathic medicine, we offer 15 minute complimentary meet-and-greet visits, at which time we can determine if homeopathy may be a good fit for you and your health needs.

Resources:

  1. Sarter, B., Banerji, P., & Banerji, P. (2012). successful treatment of Chronic Viral Hepatitis With High-dilution Medicine. Global advances in health and medicine, 1(1), 26-29.
  2. Del Carmen Macías-Cortés, E., Llanes-González, L., Aguilar-Faisal, L., & Asbun-Bojalil, J. (2015). Individualized homeopathic treatment and fluoxetine for moderate to severe depression in peri-and postmenopausal women (HOMDEP-MENOP study): a randomized, double-dummy, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. PLoS One, 10(3), e0118440.
  3. Dossett, M. L., Davis, R. B., Kaptchuk, T. J., & Yeh, G. Y. (2016). Homeopathy use by US adults: results of a national survey. American journal of public health, 106(4), 743-745.

medicinal herbs

Using Herbs As Medicine: What You Need to Know

Using herbs as medicine goes back to the beginning of human history, in almost every culture. Herbal medicine (also called botanical medicine) can be a safe and wonderfully effective way to tend to your health and that of your family. Botanical medicine can be used to address a myriad of conditions, as well as incorporated for prevention and general health optimization. If you are new to the world of herbal medicine, here are some things to be aware of as you begin using plant medicine.

FORMS OF HERBS AS MEDICINE

Botanical medicines are available for purchase in many forms.

  • Capsules: Dried and ground herbs, which are then encapsulated. They can be opened up and added to food or drink for children.
  • Tablets: Made with binding agents, some better than others. They may not be the best option for children or those who have difficulty swallowing.
  • Teas: A decoction may come in a tea bag, or in bulk like a loose-leaf tea. Just steep it like you would a normal tea.
  • Tinctures: An extract in alcohol. Not typically the best option for kids, but alcohol acts as an excellent preservative and extract.
  • Glycerites: A sweet liquid that will also preserve the medicinal benefits of the herbs. Chemically, glycerol is a sugar alcohol, but behaves neither like sugar nor alcohol in the body. This is great option for kids. It tastes sweet and is completely safe.
  • Essential Oils: Highly concentrated volatile compounds, which are best applied externally, possibly in a carrier such as coconut, olive, or jojoba oil, or diffused for aromatherapy. Exercise caution before taking them internally because they are so potent and can be toxic.
  • Topicals (creams, salves, ointments, balms, etc.): May consist of any number of herbs, essential oils, and possibly other ingredients (some better than others), usually in a base such as beeswax and/or other oils. Some are much more natural than others. These may have local or systemic effects, depending on what they are.
  • As Food: Don’t forget all those delicious herbs which are used in cuisine! Using culinary herbs not only tastes delicious but can also provide significant health benefits.

SOURCES and QUALITY

There are a wide variety of herbal products on the market. Some are excellent and some are poor in quality. Everything from where and how the herb was grown, to when and how it was harvested, and all the processing that goes into making it into a product, can make a big difference in the quality and effectiveness of the final product. Good terms to look for include organic and (sustainably) wild-harvested or wild-crafted. It is helpful to enquire with knowledgeable retail staff or discerning healthcare professionals to know whether a particular brand or product is worth your money.

SAFETY

Many herbs are extremely safe, although some can be dangerous and should only be used as recommended by a qualified herbal medicine practitioner, such as a certified herbalist or naturopathic physician. How do you know which are safe? Typically, if it is available for over-the-counter purchase, it is safe for most people to take as recommended. Individuals with pre-existing health conditions should always check with their healthcare provider before taking any herbal medicines.  Also, anybody can have an allergy or sensitivity to anything, just like with food, so it is always best to start with a small dose and monitor closely for any reaction. Finally, pregnancy and breastfeeding present unique circumstances, so please consult your physician before using any other herbs or supplements while pregnant or breastfeeding.

GO FOR IT!

Now that you know the basics, you can start using herbs as medicine. Stay tuned for more articles about herbs and information on which ones to use for different conditions.


acupuncture

Acupuncture for Chronic Pain

The Journal of Pain recently published a meta-analysis finding that acupuncture is "highly effective" for chronic pain. The tides are turning towards mainstream medicine embracing integrative therapies...

According to the American Academy of Pain Medicine, more than 1.5 billion people world-wide have chronic pain, and it is the most common cause of long-term disability in the United States, affecting about 100 million Americans. However, the primary treatments, per Western Medicine standards, have been mainly limited to pharmaceuticals (morphine, codeine, hydrocodone, and the like), which have unfortunately resulted in what we now refer to as the devastating "opioid epidemic."

Some of the most common types of chronic pain include:

  • post-surgical pain
  • post-trauma pain
  • low back pain
  • cancer pain
  • arthritis pain
  • headache
  • neurogenic pain (caused by nerve damage)
  • psychogenic pain (pain that isn’t caused by disease, injury, or nerve damage)

Chronic pain is often the result of a complex set of events, which is why drug-centered treatment has, at best, short-lived success . Often, chronic pain is initiated after an initial injury, but this is not always the case. Truthfully, the exact pathophysiology of chronic pain is still not well understood. Established risk factors include:

  • female gender
  • obesity
  • older age
  • lower socioeconomic status
  • geographical/cultural background
  • surgery
  • history of abuse
  • injury

Given the limited success with the drug-centered treatment approach combined with the significant long-term risk of addiction, it is high time to open our minds to more a multi-layered assessment approach and TRUE recovery regimen. Acupuncture is quickly gaining ground as a highly effective treatment, and the side effect profile is....negligible.