Saturday, January 26, 2019

Turmeric – Herbal Anti-Inflammatory

Anti-inflammatory medication is among the commonly used medication in both over the counter and prescription forms.      In addition, many people used anti-inflammatory medication like Ibuprofen, Aleve, and others at high dosages for long periods of time.   The end results are that thousands of people experience serious and sometimes life-threatening side effects such as gastrointestinal bleeding and kidney failure.     While effective these drugs are not meant for long term use.

Enter Turmeric!    Turmeric has been used as a spice is Asian (particularly Indian) cooking for thousands of years.   Like most herbs and spices it was used for its medicinal properties more than for taste!     Turmeric can prevent and treat food-borne illnesses among many other benefits.  Modern research confirms turmeric's antimicrobial properties against many of the germs and bugs found in food.

Turmeric contains many beneficial plant chemicals aka “phytonutrients”.     One of the key chemicals is curcumins.    There are several varieties of curcumin in Turmeric, and like all plants where the plant is grown and how it is supported and harvested determines the quantities of specific beneficial compounds in the herb.  

Turmeric has been heavily studied and modern techniques have been used to produce Turmeric supplements with standardized amounts of key compounds like curcumin.    In addition, other techniques have been used to greatly boost the absorption and utilization of curcumins and other key chemicals in the cells.

The end result is that modern Turmeric supplements are extremely powerful anti-inflammatories with side benefits rather than side effects!     Unlike anti-inflammatory drugs Turmeric improves gastrointestinal function while providing potent anti-inflammatory effects for many inflammatory conditions including:

All forms of Arthritis

Crohn’s and Colitis

Many inflammatory skin conditions

Treatment of traumatic injuries such as ankle sprains, pulled muscles, back injuries, etc.

Research has consistently shown that Turmeric Supplements are as powerful as anti-inflammatory drugs but can be safely taken for long periods of time without side effects making them a great tool for these inflammatory conditions.  Take, for instance, just a few of the most recent research studies published within the past few months showing that curcumin can:

  • Increase lifespan
  • Protect the liver from oxidative stress
  • Kill fungus more effectively than ginger, clove and oregano
  • Induce tumor cell death in the deepest parts of individual cells
  • Kill bladder cancer cells
  • Destroy lung cancer cells
  • Lower blood cholesterol levels
  • Protect against cognitive/memory defects from heavy ion irradiation
  • Standardized Turmeric supplements have been proven to be as effective as Anti-Depressant Medication for the treatment of mild to moderate depression!

Which supplements are best?

There are several outstanding Turmeric Supplements with standardized dosages of key compounds that use proven technologies to dramatically improve absorption and utilization.   These supplements allow consistent dosing and have been proven in multiple research studies.

Meriva - Meriva curcumin phytosome is a unique curcumin extract that is significantly better absorbed than other curcumin extracts.  Phytosomes are plant extracts bound to phospholipids.     All the cells in the body have a phospholipid surface so by binding the curcumin to a phospholipid there is a dramatic boost in absorption and utilization many times higher than supplements not using this technology.

BCM-95 – is another standardized, patented form of Turmeric Supplementation that has been studied heavily and also provides a high level of absorption and bio-availability.  BCM-95 stands for the patented composition of curcumin essential oil complex: 86% curcuminoids and 7-9% essential oils.

Theracumin – is another standardized, highly bio-available Turmeric Supplement.     It is a nano particle colloidal dispersion- Extremely tiny particles close to the nano-scale are made and combined with a gum to form a microscopic dispersible agent.

To determine which product may best suit your needs and to determine an appropriate dosage see this excellent review of bio-available Turmeric Supplements:

Sunday, January 20, 2019

How to Optimize Vitamin D levels in the Winter

Vitamin D is constantly in the news lately and for good reason.    Optimal levels of Vitamin D have been linked to a host of benefits including prevention and treatment of many key diseases ranging from Osteoporosis to improved heart health with reduction in heart attack risk to prevention of many different types of cancer.   

During the winter - high levels of serum Vitamin D are highly protective against illness and flu in particular - BUT you must get your serum levels high enough, and your individual dose to achieve this level is unique to you based on a host of factors.   Based on genetic factors dosage to achieve ideal levels can be anywhere from 600iu to 10,000iu per day!

The ideal way to get optimal levels of Vitamin D is to let your body create it through Safe Sun Exposure (see previous blog on this subject here:  However this is easier said then done, and too much sun is clearly a strong risk factor for skin cancer!      Enter Vitamin D supplementation.     Also note that in order to produce Vitamin D from Sun Exposure it is critical that you are not magnesium deficient - Vitamin D synthesis is completely dependent on magnesium levels.

Vitamin D Supplementation

The amount and form of Vitamin D supplementation has changed substantially based on lots of emerging research.    The form that should be taken is Vitamin D-3 NOT D-2 form and all experts agree on this!     However when it comes to dosage things get much trickier.      The confusion comes because Vitamin D is really a powerful compound and functions as a hormone in the body.    As such it has profound impact on virtually every system in the body.    In addition you can overdose on Vitamin D supplements so more is NOT always better!

Vitmain D Testing

Ideally you should order a blood test and test your levels.    The test you want is called a 25(OH)D blood test and is offered by all major labs.   You can either ask your doctor to order this test for you OR you can order an in-home test.   You just prick your finger and put a drop of bloo on the enclosed paper and send back in to the labs.    You can also your own blood test online and go to a lab to have blood drawn in the same way your doctor orders the test.   For more information on testing go here:

Confusion Regarding Effectiveness of Vitamin D Supplementation

There is a lot of misinformation regarding the effectiveness of Vitamin D supplementation.   Many studies show no effect from supplementation.   However in most cases the studies showing negative results did not customize dosage to insure that effective serum Vitamin D Levels where achieved.    To be effective you must achieve specific serum levels of vitamin D so dosage by itself is not going to insure results since people are unique in their dosage requirements for many reasons including specific genetic polymorphisms that vary from person to person.

Ideal versus Acceptable Blood Levels of Vitamin D

There is a big difference between what is considered “acceptable” or okay and ideal blood levels.   Here are the classifications of different blood levels of Vitamin D. according to the Vitamin D Council:

0 – 30 ng/ML is very low and considered a deficiency

30 – 39 ng/ML is better but still insufficient for optimal health and disease prevention.

40 – 100 ng/ML is optimal

Above 150 ng/ML is toxic!

The key is to test and if low take a supplement then retest 2 – 3 months after regular vitamin d use because each person is different in how much supplementation they need based on many factors including sun exposure and skin type.     The RDA for Vitamin D for infants is 400iu.    For Children 1 – 13 and adults through age 70 the RDA is 600iu and for those over 70 the RDA is 800iu.

Unfortunately, this is way too low to get many people into the sufficient much less optimal range so testing is really worthwhile.   In many cases people need 4,000 – 10,000 or more iu's per day for at least a month to get where they need to be for optimal health!

Preventing Vitamin D Toxicity through the Co-Administration of Vitamin K-2

Like many vitamins Vitamin D has a co-factor or other vitamin that helps it perform its function better and in a more balanced fashion, and that other vitamin is Vitamin K-2 (not to be confused with K-1 found in many plants).    In an ideal world, you can get all the Vitamin K-1 you need from eating plenty of green, leafy vegetables, and your body can turn it into K-2.   Unfortunately, this conversion is lacking in many people.

More importantly K-2 is not easily toxic and can be taken with Vitamin D.    K-2 is best taken as a supplement as MK-7 version which has been heavily researched and shown to improve bone health and prevent arterial calcification which can potentially occur with too much Vitamin D.     For a more complete understanding behind how K-2 works with Vitamin D and why it is a great idea to take the MK-7 form of K-2 with Vitamin D check out this article from Dr. Mercola:

Taking 100 – 200 mcg per day of Vitamin K-2 will help optimize the effects of Vitamin D and minimize risks associated with Vitamin D Supplementation.   There are many Vitamin D supplements with K-2 included!

Sunday, January 13, 2019

How Lower Body Strength Training Improves Brain Function

While mental games and puzzles have some effect on your brain, exercise is still one of the best ways to ensure a healthy brain. In fact, there's ample evidence showing that resistance training exercise, especially lower body strength training, is vitally important for healthy brain and nervous system function.   Several studies show a strong link between leg strength and cognitive function.

Research has shown that when you fail to perform weight bearing exercise, you don’t just lose muscle, your brain and nervous system also deteriorate.   

A 2018 study published in Frontiers in Neuroscience shows that neurological health depends as much on signals sent by the body’s large, leg muscles to the brain as it does on directives from the brain to the muscles.  According to Medical News Today, "The main takeaway of the new findings is that leg exercise — weight-bearing exercise, in particular — 'tells' the brain to produce healthy neurons, which are key for … [coping] with stress and life changes."

The researchers called out climbing stairs, dancing, hiking, tennis, walking and weightlifting as healthy examples of weight-bearing exercise. Study author Raffaella Adami, Ph.D, professor and researcher in the department of health science at Italy's University of Milan, said:

"It is no accident we are meant to be active: to walk, run, crouch to sit and use our leg muscles to lift things. Our study supports the notion that people who are unable to do load-bearing exercises — such as patients who are bedridden, or even astronauts on extended travel — not only lose muscle mass, but their body chemistry is altered at the cellular level and even their nervous system is adversely impacted."

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Getting Rid of Bad Habits

Habits are powerful.  Unfortunately, they often are created outside our consciousness and without our permission. However, we can consciously change habits. Habits shape our lives far more than we realize— they are so strong, in fact, that they can cause our brains to cling to them at the exclusion of all else, including common sense.

At the same time, positive habits can change our lives for the better. So how are habits created and what can we do to influence them in ourselves and our clients?

Three Parts of a Habit

The Cue: a situational trigger that is based on a reward you are seeking.

The Routine:  a physical or emotional action you take to obtain the reward.

The Reward:  the satisfaction you get by following the habit.

The Steps to Changing a Habit

Identify the Routine:  You must identify how you go from a particular cue to the routine of the habit and the reward it gives you.

Understand Cravings and Rewards

The first part of a habit is the cue, but before the cue there is some type of craving.  Cravings drive habits.   Understanding cravings is key to figuring out habits.  In a habit, there is a specific reward that satisfies a particular craving.    In other words, figure out what you are getting from the habit because you ARE getting something from it!

Rewards are powerful because they satisfy cravings. But we’re often not conscious of the cravings that drive our behaviors. For example, when developing the air freshening product Febreze marketers discovered that people craved a fresh scent at the end of a cleaning ritual.  They found a craving that people were not aware of.     This craving is so strong that without added scent most people do not get satisfaction from an air freshener that just removes odors from the air - they have to smell the scent!   It is exactly the same phenomenon with breath freshners which can be made to eliminate odor WITHOUT any taste/scent, but no one buys them!

Most cravings are like this: obvious in hindsight, but difficult to discern when they are in control of your behavior. It is critical to discover the cravings that drive habits to be able to change or create habits!   To figure out which cravings are driving particular habits, it’s useful to experiment with different rewards. For example, say your reward is having a cookie after studying every night.  The next time you study deliberately substitute something else for the cookie such as going for a short walk or having a cup of tea instead. 

The next time eat an apple and another time change call a friend for call, etc. What you choose to do instead of eating a cookie is not important.  The key is to test different hypotheses to determine the exact craving that is driving your routine.   Are you craving the cookie itself, or a break from work? If it’s the cookie, is it because you’re hungry? (In which case the apple should work just as well.) Or is it because you want the burst of energy the cookie provides? (And so coffee may work just as well.) Or is it where you eat the cookie and who you are with?  Do you go to a specific place to get and eat your cookie?  If so maybe the real craving may have to do with a desire to socialize.  

As you test four or five different rewards, use this technique to identify patterns.  After each activity, note the first three things that come to mind after your reward behavior. This can be emotions, random thoughts, reflections on how you’re feeling, or just the first three words that pop into your head. Then, set an alarm on your watch or computer for fifteen minutes. When it goes off, ask yourself: Do you still feel the urge for that cookie? The reason why it’s important to write down three things— even if they are meaningless words— is twofold. First, it forces a momentary awareness of what you are thinking or feeling.

By experimenting with different rewards, you can isolate what you are actually craving, which is essential in changing a habit.

Determine the Specific Cue for the Habit

This is the trigger that initiates the craving for the reward.   So it is very important to learn the cues for habits.   Common cues including being in a particular place, being with a particular person, a particular time of time of day, a specific emotional state, etc.    Asking yourself these five questions can be very helpful for identifying cues:

Where are you when the urge for a reward hits you?
What time is it?
What is your emotional state?
Who else is present?
What did you do right before you had the urge?

Have a Plan!

Once you understand the habit you want to change you need to create a plan to change the habit!   The easiest way to do that is have a specific plan of action whenever you experience the cue or cues.    For example, if you smoke when you have coffee know this and plan to do something else deliberately whenever you have a cup of coffee.   The plan is key or you will slip right back into the old routine.

Another example is having a few beers every night when you get home.  Through the first three steps you discover that having the beer helps you relax after a stressful day.    You also learned that going for a 20-minute walk or doing Tai Chi gives you that same reward of feeling relaxed.   So now you plan to either go for a walk or do Tai Chi ever day as soon as you get home (or even better before you get home!).