Posts in food
News on Agave Nectar

Well, it was too good to be true.  Just as Agave nectar is hitting the shelves en masse, we're finding out that although it doesn't mess with insulin resistance, it's not so innocent. It turns out that agave is being produced in such a way that it's about 90% fructose.  Fructose is a type of sugar that has to be converted to glucose by the liver.  People that are consuming agave on a regular basis are ending up with elevated triglycerides (part of a cholesterol panel), and some are experiencing high liver enzymes.

Wondering what to do if you've been using agave?  Switch to molasses, honey, or maple syrup---and even then, use minimally.  These sweeteners have more anti-oxidants in them to help your body process the sugars, and they're lower in fructose (higher in glucose, and easier for the body in general).

A few last words on Travel Tips.

I'd like to round out the Travel series with a few last tips.  Below you'll find naturopathic remedies for travel-related conditions.imagesJet Lag: 1.    Melatonin: 1-3mg 2 hours before you would like to go to bed.* 2.    Exercise: 30 minutes each day, even while on vacation to regulate stress and help with sleep 3.    Lavendar essential oil drops applied to the pillow or rubbed into the temples to help with sleep.

I also found this: the anti-jetlag diet.  If you have time on your hands, there are some folks out there who swear by it.

images-1Nausea/Motion-sickness: 1.    Ginger: 6 capsules taken 1 hour before travel to soothe stomach 2.    Candied/crystallized ginger: to chew/suck on during travel 3.    Sea-bands: worn on the wrists, applies pressure to acupuncture points known to relieve nausea

Bacterial and fungal skin infections: 1.    Fungal infections:  topical application of Black Walnut (juglans nigra) 5-6 times/day plus vinegar wash 3 x’s /day—1/2 cup apple cider vinegar with 10 drops lavendar essential oil and 10 drops tea tree oil.  Keep the area clean and dry. images-22.    Bacterial skin infections: External: •    Make a strong tea of calendula officinalis flowers and apply as a compress to skin (after it's cooled a bit) •    topical application of Black Walnut tincture (Juglans nigra) 5-6 times/day Internal: Echinacea tincture  30 drops 5-6x’s day *caution: do not take black walnut internally during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

images-3Urinary tract infection: 1.    Parsley tea: simmer ½ cup of fresh parsley in 2 quarts of hot water for 5 minutes and drink over the course of 3 hours to flush the bladder.  Caution during pregnancy—high dosages may stimulate uterus.  Please talk to your Dr. or midwife before taking. 2.    Unsweetened Cranberry juice: up to 3L/day with acute onset 3.    Uva ursi (Bearberry) tincture: 90 drops 4x’s/day

*Always check with your health care practitioner before starting this or any other supplement.

More Naturopathic travel tips: Cha-cha-cha.

Diarrhea:  the runs, the Hershey's squirts, the Aztec tw0-step, Montezuma's revenge, the trots---whatever your name for it is, you need to be prepared when you travel.  Diarrhea is the number one ailment affecting travelers!  The best treatment here is prevention because traveler’s diarrhea can be difficult to treat.  A few things to remember, especially if traveling in areas where the water quality is uncertain:•    Avoid seafood in inland areas •    Carry wet wipes to wipe hands before eating •    For vegetables, cook them, boil them, peel them, or don’ t eat them •    Carry a water bottle with a carbon filter or sterilizer in it •    Order meat well-done •    Use filtered/bottled water for everything (even brushing teeth) To prevent traveler’s diarrhea: 1.    Tincture*** of 1 part each: dandelion root, hops, catnip, chamomile, and artemesia taken 30 drops before each meal ***Caution: this tincture should not be ingested by pregnant or lactating women.  Instead, include the following two suggestions: 2.    Betaine HCl: 2 capsules taken before each meal 3.    Lactobacillus acidophilus: 1-2 capsules taken 20 minutes before each meal with a cup of water 4.    The use of antibiotics is controversial.  With rest and conservation of energy, most cases clear up within 5 days.  Consider antibiotic use under the following circumstances: •    Stool analysis confirms bacterial cause •    Blood mixed in with diarrhea or high fever •    Symptoms continue for greater than 48 hours without sign of improvement •    Passing of greater than 6 stools in 24 hours •    If you are completely unable to stop, rest and recuperate during your travels.

If you think you may have a bacterial or parasitic infection (blood in stool, high fever, worsening symptoms, and very frequent bowel movements), proceed to the nearest hospital or urgent care clinic.   Next week's topic: Naturopathic first aid!

Postpartum Nutrition

Good Morning!  It looks to be another beautifully sunny morning here in Portland, Oregon.  Wow, we have really been blessed with some fantastic weather the past few weeks.  Our clinic garden is looking great as well as the garden my family and I are growing at home.  I'll be taking some photos to show you all just what I mean! imagesToday I'd like to round out this series on Nutrition during pregnancy by providing some guidelines about postpartum dietary needs.  The postpartum period is defined as the time from the birth of the baby and placenta to 6 weeks afterwards.  I personally believe that this extends to 3 months after the birth at minimum, with the first 6 weeks being the time when the body makes most of it's transition back to "normal".

I put normal in quotations because it is very common for women to feel like they have a totally new body after having a baby.  images-1To a certain extent, it's true.  It's not the same body.  It looks, acts, and feels different than before pregnancy.  Therefore, it has different needs.  This is especially the case if the new baby is breastfeeding. Let's have a look at some guidelines for women in the postpartum period:

  • During pregnancy, women need 200-300 extra calories per day to grow a baby.  During breastfeeding, women may need up to 500 extra calories per day to make enough milk to feed their new baby.
  • Also needed for milk-making is WATER.  Most women will need between 2-3 LITERS of water a day to keep up with the demands of making milk.  I like to get the whole family involved in the process, stashing bottles full of water wherever mom might end up nursing the new baby.  Intense thirst universally follows feeding the new baby, and moms everywhere love having a big glass of water while they nurse.
  • Many women need extra iron after having a baby.  Moms who had a lot of bleeding with childbirth are in a higher risk category for developing postpartum anemia.  To prevent severe anemia (which can lead to excessive fatigue and lowered mood):
  1. Increase iron in the diet: red meat, eggs, enriched cereals, and blackstrap molasses are good ways to get iron.
  2. Increase Vitamin C intake: Vitamin C helps you absorb more iron from your food.  Take with meals.  Do not exceed 3000mg/day unless being supervised by a health care practitioner.
  3. No black tea: Tannins in the tea decrease iron absorption.
  4. Cook with cast-iron pots and pans.  Believe it or not, you will get good doses of iron from doing so.
  • Continue to take your prenatal vitamins through the end of breastfeeding.  You still need the nutrients.  Plus, the extra B vitamins will give you much-needed mental and physical stamina.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids with a higher DHA:EPA ratio.  Studies show that infants benefit (neurodevelopmentally) from DHA supplementation in pregnancy and breastfeeding.  Moms also need these healthy fats to help heal and replenish the reproductive and nervous system.  DHA can be found in coldwater fish and algae most readily.  Taking an encapsulated form of DHA is a sure-fire way of getting enough.

Next week I'm going to address Postpartum depression, anxiety, and mood disorders.  It's more common than you think, and there's more that can be done to help prevent it from affecting you and the ones you love.  images-2

Herbal Nutrition in Pregnancy

DSC_0606Herbal Nutrition for Pregnancy Red Raspberry Leaf (Rubus Idaeus): tones the uterus during pregnancy, prevents hemorrhage, provides excellent source of Vitamins C and E.  Also good source of Calcium and Iron.

Nettles (Urtica dioica): great tonic.  Has lots of Vitamins A, D, C, and K. Provides Calcium and Potassium as well.  The Vitamin K is instrumental in preventing hemorrhage during birth.  Also good for leg cramps and hemorrhoids.

Mint family (Mentha spp.): safe and helpful in pregnancy for digestive issues: morning sickness and indigestion.

Oatstraw (Avena sativa): good source of minerals for growing baby and for integrity of veins.  Oatstraw is calming and nourishing.  This herb is a personal favorite!

Specific issues during pregnancy*

Morning sickness:  1-2 cups Raspberry leaf tea, 1-2 spoonfuls of ginger root (Zingiber off.) decoction, peppermint of spearmint tea, alfalfa (Medicago sativa) tea for B vitamins

Varicose veins/Hemorrhoids: 1-2 cups daily of Oatstraw tea, 1-2 cups of nettles tea, raw parsley (Petroselinum sativum) in salads, witch hazel (topically)

Anemia: 1 TBS Yellow dock (Rumex Crispus) decoction per day.  Can also try teas of Dandelion root (Taraxacum off), Parsley, and Nettles.

Heartburn/Indigestion: Anise or Fennel seed tea for after meals, Papaya enzymes, raw almonds, Slippery Elm (Ulmus fulva)

Bladder Infections: unsweetened cranberry juice, Uva Ursi leaves infuse for 8 hours, then drink one cup every 12 hours.  Can add yarrow (Achillea millefoilium) if not clear with just Uva ursi.

Hypertension: garlic, cucumbers, Hops (humulus lupulus)—only during 3rd trimester, Passionflower tincture (15 drops per day), Skullcap (Scutellaria off.) 1-2 cups per day, Hawthorn berries (Crataegus off.)

Late Pregnancy uterine tonics: Black and Blue Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa and Caullophyllum thalictroides), Squawvine (Mitchella repens)

*Please consult a helath care practitioner before beginning any new herbal or nutritional regimen

Getting Pregnant: 101.

Have you noticed all the babies lately?  You can't go anywhere without seeing strollers, babies in slings, babies strapped on the fronts, backs and sides of mamas & dadas, or toddlers bopping around.  You can likely name at least 5 people who have given birth in the past year.  They're calling it a baby Boomlet with 2007 being a record high for babies being born and 2008 not yet accounted for. Baby making is in the air.

img_0182 Health consciousness is in the air too.  I have a lot of women coming in these days saying, "I don't want to get pregnant right now, but we're thinking about having a baby in the next year or so.  What should I be doing in the meantime?"  I applaud these women for putting their baby's health as a priority.  Giving your baby the best possible start in life is the gift that keeps giving.  Here are a few guidelines for having a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby:

*Eat as though you are already pregnant: during pregnancy your caloric intake increases about 300 calories/day.  That's not what I mean here.  I mean eat a whole foods diet.  Cut back on caffeine, sugar, and alcohol.  Make sure you're getting 60-80 grams of protein per day.  Drink 2-3 Liters of water per day.

*Take your vitamins: 6-12 months prior to "starting" to get pregnant, begin taking Pre-natal Vitamins.  This will ensure appropriate amounts of things like Calcium, Folic Acid, Iron, Zinc, and Vitamin A (all are different amounts than regular vitamins).

*Detox: pregnancy, breastfeeding, and trying to get pregnant are not the times to do any sort of cleansing, fasting, or detoxing**.  Any time you're going through this, you're putting toxins and waste into the bloodstream which goes to the baby as well.  I think it's a great idea to do a cleanse before or in between pregnancies.  If you've been thinking about doing any kind of detox, do it before you start trying or wait until you're done breastfeeding.

Next week I'll talk about nutrition during pregnancy.  So check back & have a great week!

**Any fasting, cleansing, or detox program should be supervised by a healthcare practitioner.

Spring Cleaning

Here in the Pacific NW, the cherry trees, daffodils, tulips, daphnes, rhododendrons, magnolias, and many other beautiful flowering trees and plants are blooming.  While this makes the area absolutely gorgeous, it also sends people into my office wondering how to stop the sneezing and itchy eyes. images

Fortunately, there some things you can do to make this time of year more enjoyable.

  • Get an air filter for your home so you are not exposed to pollens all night long while you sleep.
  • Take your shoes off before coming into the house---don't track the pollen in!  Ask others to do the same.
  • Wear sunglasses or other protective eye gear while you're out to minimize the amount of exposure--as you know, once you start itching your eyes, it's hard to stop.  This is because rubbing them recruits more histamine to the site, causing even more itching!
  • If you have carpets, get them cleaned at least every spring.  Or even better, replace them with hardwood or tiled floors, which are easier to keep clean.
  • Consider doing a "Spring Cleanse" for your body*.  By making sure your liver, kidneys, lungs, GI tract, and skin are all in good working order, you can decrease how reactive your body is to elements it is normally allergic to.

*any type cleansing or fasting should be supervised by a health care practitioner.  If you have not seen a doctor in the past year, please consult one before cleansing or fasting.


It's allergy season again, and for many people, this means fighting with sneezing, runny noses, congestion, and headaches until the pollen dissipates once again.  Did you know that what you eat can affect how reactive you are to pollen?

Oral allergy syndrome affects about 60% of adults who have seasonal allergies.  This means that when certain foods that cross-react with the inhaled pollens are eaten, a more severe reaction occurs.  Take a look at this chart showing the most common pollen-food cross-reactions:

Pollen Potential Cross-reactive Foods
Ragweed Bananas, melons (watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew) zucchini, cucumber, dandelions, chamomile tea
Birch Apples, pears, peaches, apricots, cherries, plums, nectarines, prunes, kiwi, carrots, celery, potatoes, peppers, fennel, parsley, coriander, parsnips, hazelnuts, almonds, walnuts
Grass Peaches, celery, melons, tomatoes, oranges
Mugwort Celery, apple, kiwi, peanut, fennel, carrots, parsley, coriander, sunflower, peppers
Alder Celery, pears, apples, almonds, cherries, hazelnuts, peaches, parsley
Latex Bananas, avocado, kiwi, chestnut, papaya

I challenge you to give this a try.   Try eliminating your potential cross-reactors this allergy season, and experience less severe symptoms!