New Jersey Naturopath Naturopatic Clinic of New Jersey Mon, 09 Apr 2018 19:59:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Flu Season Is Upon Us! Tue, 28 Nov 2017 02:22:14 +0000 Flu season in upon us and it is anticipated to be a bad one!
Per CNN Health News: “Last year’s seasonal flu vaccine effectiveness was just 42%, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated. Even if vaccinated, people had inadequate protection against the flu”.

Interestingly, the efficacy of the flu vaccine varies year to year since it is formulated with a mix of viral particle strains based on anticipated predominant flu virus strains that are expected to circulate for that year. The 2015-16 efficacy was 47% but the 2014-15 vaccine was effective only a dismal 19% of the time!

This year’s vaccine is anticipated to be problematic in that there have been issues with the egg proteins used to grow the vaccine and, the predominant virus that’s anticipated for this season(H3N2) is evolving such that the vaccine may no longer be a match for the virus (even if this strain is correctly predicted to predominate this year).

Evaluating the Flu Vaccine:

Being such a low efficacy vaccination means that we should be evaluating the contents of the vaccine and its potential adverse effects very carefully.

The multidose vials of the flu vaccine contain thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative agent. If you’re going to get vaccinated, request a single-dose vaccine. Note though that there is no such thing as a “preservative free flu shot” (as advertised by some providers of the single-dose shots). The various preparations contain differing preservatives and additives including polysorbate 80 and formaldehyde.

The side effects of the flu shot are most commonly pain at the injection site but muscle aches, headache, fatigue, and arthralgia (joint pain) are also reported. Funny, these symptoms are the most common symptoms of the flu itself!

One more serious adverse effect is Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS). It is a relatively rare disorder in which a person’s own immune system damages their nerve cells, causing muscle weakness and sometimes paralysis. It most commonly follows infection with a virus or bacteria. Most people recover fully from GBS, but some people have permanent nerve damage. The incidence and severity of this condition increases with age (especially adults over 50). GBS is noted as a possible adverse effect of the flu vaccine though the incidence of vaccine-associated GBS is not known.

Flu Prevention, Naturally:

Here are a few tips to help you prevent the flu.

1) Wash hands with soap and warm water before eating
2) Gargle with water twice daily
3) Take a vitamin D supplement during the fall and winter
4) Eat foods rich in Vitamin C, Zinc, Selenium, and Vitamin A/ Beta Carotene
5) Get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep nightly
6) Address your Stress!
6) Limit sugar is your diet
7) Consider a probiotic and elderberry if you are prone to getting sick. Both are safe for long-term use in most people.

Treatment Options if you have the Flu:

If you do start to feel like you have the flu, you have two options:

1) See your doctor within 48 hours of onset of the symptoms. Your doctor can do a nasal swab to confirm that you have the flu (and not just a cold) and can prescribe Tamiflu, an antiviral medication which reduces the duration and severity of the flu symptoms.
2) Lucky for us, we have a few studies confirming that Elderberry has antiviral properties similar to Tamiflu. The key is to start taking it as soon as you feel symptomatic. Gaia herbs makes a syrup and their trusty Quick Defense which are both available at Whole Foods.

For most patients, I do not recommend the Flu Vaccine. I do recommend working to enhance natural immunity and having an elderberry preparation on hand, just in case!

Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Of Belly aches, gas, and crazy poops! Tue, 24 Oct 2017 02:02:59 +0000

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is one of the most common chronic health conditions. In fact, it is the most common gastrointestinal disorder and affects 30 million Americans (10-15% of the population!).
IBS is characterized by a number of symptoms including diarrhea (IBS-D), constipation (IBS-C), or both (IBS-mixed), bloating, and abdominal cramping.

A Difficult Diagnosis:

IBS is sometimes difficult to diagnose and has been called a “diagnosis of exclusion”. In order to make the diagnosis, a doctor must exclude inflammatory, anatomic, metabolic and cancerous processes that could otherwise explain the patient’s symptoms. Only once all of these other conditions have been ruled out can IBS be diagnosed.
IBS is diagnosed when there is abdominal pain or discomfort occurring once a week for at least two months which (at least 2 out of 3 of the below):
a) gets better when the patient makes a bowel movement OR
b) is associated with a change in bowel movement frequency OR
c) is associated with change in bowel movement appearance.
These diagnostic criteria really are not all that specific (in fact, more than 60% of patients with IBS in one study did not meet these diagnostic criteria).

A New Lab Test:

A new test is being offered by some laboratories (including Quest Labs) which is thought to differentiate Irritable Bowel Syndrome from Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD) such as Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis. This test identifies antibodies against a protein called vinculin which is found in the guts of patients exhibiting IBS symptoms. Interestingly, anti-vinculin antibodies are found in high amounts in patients having suffered an acute gastroenteritis (“stomach bug”). Incidentally, having suffered an acute gastroenteritis is a risk factor for IBS.


There are many factors to consider in the treatment of IBS.

1) Stress tends to be an exacerbating factor for many patients and should be addressed.

2) Food intolerances tend to be the norm. I typically start with a diet called the Low FODMAP diet which significantly reduces fermentable carbohydrates in the diet. This diet is very often helpful in treating gas, bloating, and stool changes associated with IBS. Though I start with this diet, other food intolerances may be involved.

3) Herbs can be very helpful! Enteric coated peppermint oil, a preparation called Iberogast, and fennel seed are my first line herbal go-tos. Other herbs such as chamomile and lemon balm can be helpful too.

4) Probiotics can also be of great value but should be used with caution.

5) In constipated patients, long term use of stimulant laxatives (such as senna) should be avoided. Magnesium has a natural laxative effect and is safe for most people to consume long-term.

6) A frequent cause of IBS is a condition called Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO). It is a condition in which naturally occurring bacteria from the large intestine invade the small intestine. These bacteria ferment certain types of carbohydrates in the diet and create gasses (hydrogen and methane) which can contribute to gas, bloating, stool changes, and abdominal discomfort. This is a treatable condition (though recurrence rates are high). Diagnosis of SIBO involves a 2-3 hour breath test for these exhaled gasses. Any patient with IBS should be tested for SIBO.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome is an incredibly common health condition for which conventional medicine typically does not have much to offer. In contrast, this is an area where Naturopathic medicine truly shines! With a focus on finding the underlying cause and using nourishing herbs, addressing stress, and making selective dietary changes, naturopathic care can be life-altering for many patients.

Know How to Prevent Sun Aging Fri, 02 Jun 2017 16:45:42 +0000 What Happens in the Sun?

When light hits the skin, it creates free radicals that attach themselves to important cellular proteins and DNA, ultimately causing collagen damage. When skin darkens or turns red, it means that there has been an inflammatory response at the cellular level. The result? Uneven pigmentation, dark spots, wrinkles, rough skin, and sometimes, skin cancer.

Get sun smart, with these sunscreen facts:

[1] 24% of signs of aging are reduced by regular sunscreen use.
[2] Only sunscreens with SPF 15 or more can reduce the risk of sun cancer and early aging.
[3] 47% of sun aging occurs between ages 19 and 40. Not only can you help stop your accumulation today by applying sunscreen, but you can also help lessen the effects of past sun damage by doing so.
[4] All sunscreens labeled broad-spectrum are proven to protect skin from UVB (skin-burning) and UVA (aging and cancer-causing) rays.
[5] Water and sweat-resistant sunscreens must be effective for 40 or 80 minutes during swimming or sweating based on tests (MyChelle’s are 80 minutes).
[6] Over 40% of the sun’s harmful UV rays can still penetrate through the clouds and ultimately to you.
[7] The basic rules of math don’t apply to SPF numbers. SPF 15 blocks 93% of UVB rays, SPF 30 stops about 97%, and SPF 50 obstructs 98%.

Source: Mychelle and Skin Cancer Foundation, New England Journal of Medicine, Annals of Internal Medicine, and The American Cancer Society.

Our Clinic is now stocking natural sun care products: Broad Spectrum, Natural, Safe, and Certified “non-toxic” by the Environmental Working Group!

Protecting Your Brain Tue, 23 May 2017 13:08:56 +0000 Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia are on the rise and research suggests that changes in the brain which are associated with declines in memory can begin up to three decades prior to the first signs of memory problems! That means working to protect your brain today will reduce the likelihood of developing changes in memory, thinking, reasoning, and personality as you age. In this newsletter, we’ll focus on some risk factors of dementia and what you can do to reduce those risks starting now!

The Stats:

A whopping 16% of females and 11% of males aged 71 and older have Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia.

Some interesting facts:

Alzheimer’s disease affects women disproportionately. This may be because of that extra X chromosome or hormonal factors, depression, stress, or inflammation; we just don’t know, but finally, researchers are starting to look at this piece of the puzzle.
The gene APOE4 is associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. The gene is found in 20-25% of the population. Having one copy can increase the risk of the disease two to threefold. Having two copies ups that risk to twelvefold. That said, not everyone with APOE4 develops Alzheimer’s disease.
Two hallmarks of the Alzheimer’s brain are plaques (caused by clumping of a protein called beta-amyloid) and tangles (caused by a protein called tau). That said, some people do not suffer memory decline when these two proteins accumulate in their brains- their presence is found incidentally on autopsy. Nearly all drugs targeting these two proteins have failed (possibly because they do not address damage done by the proteins in the early stages of the disease).

Risk factors

Some risk factors associated with Alzheimer’s disease include:
Insulin resistance or diabetes
Vascular problems
High cholesterol
Family history of dementia.

So what can you do to protect your brain?

1) The MIND Diet:

The MIND diet incorporates dietary principles of the Mediterranean style diet and the DASH (Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension) diet. It’s high in plant-based foods and healthy fats, and limits animal proteins and sugars. A 2015 study found that participants adhering to the MIND diet significantly reduced their rate of cognitive decline; the equivalent of 7.5 added healthy brain years!
Here’s a summary of the MIND Diet (and note that we could also call it the “Overall Healthy Diet”):
At least six servings of leafy green weakly
At least one serving of other veggies daily
At least five servings of nuts a week
Two servings of berries weekly
Three servings of beans weekly
Three servings of whole grains daily
One serving of fish weekly
Two servings of poultry weekly
Olive oil as the primary oil
Wine- preferably red- one serving daily.
I’d also add that incorporating spices/ herbs (particularly turmeric), green tea, and 80% + dark chocolate may also be helpful.
Keep the diet very low in sugars and refined carbohydrates. Even slight elevations in blood sugar can profoundly affect dementia risks.


2) Exercise your Mind:

Both physical and mental exercise are helpful for the brain.
Aerobic exercise increases the volume of the brain’s cortex and protects the hippocampus (both crucial for memory and cognition). Exercise also stimulates neurogenesis (the birth and growth of nerve cells) and increases blood flow to the brain.
Yoga has been found to have tremendous benefits for brain health. It reduces stress and thereby protects the brain from the harmful effects of excess stress hormone (cortisol). Cortisol can cause shrinking of the hippocampus and inflammation linked with neuronal damage.

3) Brain Training:

Learn something new every day! Learning expands neural connections that can slow brain aging. Focus on activities which require complex mental processing (as opposed to just doing that crossword puzzles or Sudoku). Aim to spend at least an hour a day on mentally stimulating activities. Making those activities social also helps to build new neural networks.

4) Give your Brain a Rest:

Good quality sleep for 7 to 9 hours a night allows us to “clean the brain”, thereby reducing beta-amyloid build up. Sleep is also crucial for consolidate memories.






So there you have it! Four areas of focus in keeping your brain sharp and healthy throughout your life!

Musculoskeletal First Aid Wed, 01 Feb 2017 19:52:59 +0000 In continuation of my “First Aid Kits” series, this newsletter will focus on some of my favorite approaches to Musculoskeletal Issues. We’ll talk about muscle cramps, headaches, and joint pain.
Muscle Tension and Cramping:
Many musculoskeletal issues (such as muscle cramps, muscle aches, and headaches) are a result of muscles tightening or cramping in a particular area of the body. Almost half of Americans consume less than the Recommended Daily Intake of magnesium and many medications can cause magnesium depletion. Add to that the fact that emotional stress has been shown to deplete magnesium and we’ve got epidemic proportions of magnesium deficiency in US. Magnesium is a natural muscle relaxant and magnesium deficiency can cause muscle to cramp up.
If you’re experiencing muscle tension, muscle cramping, or headaches (tension and migraine type), a magnesium supplement may be a very good idea!
I typically recommend starting with about 500mg of magnesium. You can increase to 750mg as needed and as tolerated. Try this when you have muscle tension, headaches, or muscle cramping (including menstrual cramping).
Magnesium is inexpensive and relatively safe. If you take too much, you may get magnesium (in this case, divide the dose through the course of the day and, if that doesn’t help, reduce it slightly). If you can’t tolerate magnesium supplementation, you can also try a topical application (Epsom salts bath or a magnesium gel like MagneGel). It is contraindicated in end stage kidney disease and should be used with caution in patients on ACE inhibitors (common medications used to treat high blood pressure).

Joint Pain:
The most common cause of joint pain, especially in older adults or those who have sustained a joint injury or do any sort of repetitive movements involving joints on a frequent basis is osteoarthritis. Other common causes of joint pain (though more acute) are strains and sprains.
1) Cabbage: The first thing I start with here is wrapping the joint in a cabbage leaf! Yup, you read correctly! Wrap that joint in a cabbage leaf. A 2016 study found that cabbage leaves wrapped around the joint for at least 2 hours can be an effective treatment for osteoarthritic pain. I’ve found them beneficial in strains and sprains too.
2) Anti-inflammatory foods: a change in diet can be very helpful in managing joint pain caused by inflammation. Reducing animal proteins and refined carbohydrates is a really good start. Increasing produce is also important. Anti-inflammatory fats can also have a major impact so incorporate fish (such as wild salmon and sardines), nuts, and seeds into the diet. In fact, a number of studies have recently been showing that sesame seeds (40g, about 4Tbsp, a day of ground seed) may reduce joint pain (significantly more than Tylenol), markers of inflammation, oxidative stress, and even cartilage damage in osteoarthritis.
3) Turmeric and Ginger: these two herbs pack a punch when it comes in joint pain and inflammation. You can prepare a tea with turmeric powder and a couple of slices of fresh ginger (be sure to add a sprinkle of black pepper to dramatically increase absorption of the turmeric). Steep covered for 10 minutes and drink 3 cups a day. If that’s not enough or you the taste is not tolerable for you, consider a supplement.

Many of my patients have chronic headaches. Magnesium can be a help for a number of different types of headaches (see above). Here is one more remedies to try:
Ginger: ginger has anti-inflammatory effects and can be very powerful medicine for migraines. In a 2014 study, Ginger was compared with a common migraine medication called Imitrex and found to be of similar effect without the side effects. Interestingly, ginger is also helpful with nausea which often comes along with migraines. Most migraine medications come with long term side effects. Try 500 mg of ginger in a capsule at the start of a migraine. It can also be used daily for prevention of migraines.

So there you have it: remedies to keep on hand, in your fridge or in your cabinet, for your First Aid Kit for headaches, muscle cramps, and joint pain.
If you enjoyed this newsletter, please comment and share! Let’s spread the word about the efficacy and safety of Naturopthic Medicine.


Gastrointestinal First Aid Wed, 11 Jan 2017 19:48:13 +0000 In continuation of my “First Aid Kits” series, this newsletter will focus on 3 of my favorite approaches to Gastrointestinal (GI) issues. We’ll talk about gas/ bloating, indigestion/ reflux, and constipation. We’ll call this one the First Aid Kit for all things Belly!
Before I start on the above, I have to tell you that one supplement, above all, is proving itself to be essential for GI health in general. Probiotics (aka “good bacteria”) address such a wide array of GI symptoms, they should be a Go-To for most belly woes! Beyond the belly, probiotics offer multiple and varied benefits. We’ve really uncovered just the tip of the iceberg of the benefits of these critters which live on and inside of us and outnumber our own cells greatly.
Here’s a short summary of the benefits probiotics may have:
1) Regulating immune function: up to 80% of our immune system is located in the GI tract and probiotics play an important role in regulating immunity. Probiotics have been found to reduce the incidence and severity of upper respiratory tract infections and allergies and eczema.
2) Probiotics crowd out and destroy non-beneficial organisms (such as yeast and “bad bacteria”) inside and on the body’s surfaces and are therefore beneficial in treating traveler’s diarrhea, oral thrush, and vaginal yeast infections, to name a few.
3) Produce some nutrients such as biotin and Vitamin K
4) May play a role in regulating weight and blood sugar
5) May play a role in regulating mood (studies are underway assessing the benefits of probiotic supplements in patients with mental health disorders such as anxiety and bipolar disorder).
6) May play a role in regulating cholesterol absorption
7) Have proven benefit in Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Diarrhea, and Inflammatory Bowel Diseases.
I’d recommend adding fermented foods (sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, miso, yogurt, kefir, etc) to the diet as they are a dietary source of probiotics.
You can also consider a supplement, particularly if you have some of the issues above or have been on an antibiotic. My all-time-favorite probiotic is Therbiotic Complete from Klaire Labs. It is broad spectrum (many different strains of bacteria) and relatively high potency (25 billion colony forming units) and contains a prebiotic (food for the bacteria).

Gas/ Bloating:
When gas or bloating strike, there are numerous herbs to which you can turn. Many of these herbs are used in traditional cooking (cumin, star anise, caraway, marjoram). My favorite all-time is fennel seeds. Fennel is a wonderful and safe herb for treating fullness, bloating, cramping and flatulence. It has a history of use in treating colic in babies too.
Dried fennel seeds can be chewed or made into a tea (use a teaspoon or so after meals).
If you prefer a capsule, I love Gaia herbs Gas and Bloating Rapid Relief which contains activated charcoal and fennel along with a blend of other herbs to soothe and “deflate” a bloated, crampy belly.

Heartburn/ Gastritis:
When you’ve eaten too much and you have stomach pain or heartburn, licorice can come to the rescue. A particular preparation of licorice known as DGL (deglycyrrhizinated licorice) removes the portion of the licorice that can sometimes cause side effects (such as high blood pressure or edema) in people consuming high doses of the plant. DGL is very safe. It’s been shown to heal chronic gastritis (inflammation of the stomach) and can be an incredibly effective alternative to acid-suppressing medications (such as Nexium or Prevacid) which come with a host of side-effects when taken long term.
If you suffer frequent gastritis or know you’re going to be eating something that predictably causes you heartburn (say that pasta with garlicky red sauce), chew a DGL pill (chewing seems to be more effective than swallowing) 20 or so minutes before meals up to three times a day and before bed if you have heartburn when you lie down. I’ve also found DGL to be effective for symptomatic relief so I have these pills on hand for those instances when I couldn’t predict that something wouldn’t “sit right” and would “repeat on me” after a meal.
Note that long standing heart burn can increase the risk of esophageal cancer and is not a symptom to ignore.
I love Integrative Therapeutics Rhizinate 3x because it’s very concentrated and tastes delicious.

Many of my patients suffer chronic constipation. If you feel “stuck”, first things first: check in on your water consumption (you should be drinking roughly 8 glasses of liquid a day) and your fiber intake (fruits, veggies, legumes, and whole grains). When constipation is chronic, it can sometimes signal an underlying cause that should be addressed. Two of my favorite tricks for easing constipation:
1) 2 prunes stewed in boiled water for a few minutes. Drink the water and eat the prunes (prunes offer plenty of fiber and are a good source of sorbitol- a natural laxative).
2) Elevate your legs on the toilet. For optimal colon function, the angle of your knees to hips should be 60 degrees. So putting your legs up on a stool can make all the difference in producing a healthy bowel movement. If you have frequent constipation, you may want to purchase a “Squatty Potty”.
If these two tricks don’t help, magnesium in higher doses has a natural laxative effect. I recommend 500mg of magnesium citrate before bed. (You can increase the dose slightly until you find the right balance but be aware that this is not a good solution for people with kidney concerns).
Many factors can play a role in intestinal motility (medications, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, food allergies, thyroid condition, to name a few). So, if your constipation is long-standing, bring it up with your doctor.

So there you have it! Three remedies to keep on hand in your First Aid Kit for all things Belly!
If you enjoyed this newsletter, please comment and share! Let’s spread the word about the efficacy and safety of Naturopthic Medicine.


First Aid Skin Thu, 01 Dec 2016 19:45:52 +0000 In the next couple of newsletters, I’m going to focus on “First Aid Kits” for different systems. We’ll cover a few key remedies to have on hand at home to help address common issues.
I’ll start today with your First Aid Kit for Skin. We’ll talk about wrinkles, skin infections, and dry/ irritated skin. Many topical preparations contain ingredients should be avoiding (such as parabens and phthalates). Here are three natural, safe, and effective solutions for your skin woes.


I’m not ageing! but some of you may be interested in one of my favorite products for minimizing the look of fine lines and wrinkles is hyaluronic acid (HA). It is a naturally occurring substance in the human body which is found in highest concentrations in the joints, offering lubrication, and in the eye, helping the eyeball to preserve its shape.
HA is approved by the FDA for use in certain eye surgeries (including cataract removal, corneal transplants, and other eye injuries) in which it is injected into the eye during the procedure to help replace the fluids within the eye.
HA is also used in the treatment of osteoarthritis. It can be injected into the joint space or taken orally. In some people, it’s effective in reducing pain and improving joint stiffness. It may also delay the progression of joint damage over the long run.
What we’ve seen so far is that HA is involved in “plumping and moisturizing” and so, it makes perfect sense that it’s being studied for protection of the skin against aging. In fact, HA is used by plastic surgeons and dermatologists in injectibles (such as Juvederm) to reduce fine lines.
HA keeps moisture in the skin, filling fine lines and adding a glow. There is some evidence that HA may stimulate collagen production with long term use.
HA is best in serum form, either on its own or with other antiaging and antioxidant ingredients. I like these two products:

Pure hyaluronic acid from Complementary Prescriptions
Less expensive, with added firming ingredients from NOW Foods


Dry Skin, Eczema, Minor Burns, Bruises, and Cuts:
Calendula (pot marigold- not to be confused with the annual marigold you’d find in American gardens) is an herb with a time honored use in skin and mucus membrane healing.
Calendula contains large amounts of flavonoids; antioxidants which protect cells from damage. It has anti-inflammatory effects and also has anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. Calendula helps wounds to heal faster (it increases blood flow and oxygen to the affected area, stimulating the growth of new tissue). It also hydrates skin and protects skin from the inflammation caused by radiation therapy.
Internally, I recommend calendula infusions for healing inflammation of the large intestine when used as part of a retention enema.
Mostly, I use it topically to help heal cuts, reduce the inflammation of dermatitis, heal diaper rash. It’s generally very safe and effective with two caveats:
1)If you’re allergic to plants in the daisy or aster family, including chrysanthemums and ragweed, you may also have an allergic reaction to calendula (usually a skin rash).
2)Calendula shouldn’t be used for deep, open wounds as it may cause the skin to heal too quickly.



Prevention of skin infections:
Want a “Natural Neosporin”? Nano particle silver has broad antimicrobial effects against viruses, bacteria, and fungal organisms.
I use nanoparticle silver internally for the treatment of multiple difficult to treat infections. It’s been studied in HIV and MRSA as well as Hepatitis B and herpes simplex virus.
Topically, it’s shown great benefit in healing wounds and lacerations and preventing the growth of microorganisms when used as a wound dressing. It reduces common bacteria (such as Staph aureus) and fungi (such as Candida).
This wound dressing can be used for deeper wounds and there are case studies showing incredible benefit in diabetic wound ulcers and pressure sores. It can also be used in 1st and 2nd degree burns.
One precaution: silver can be toxic. I don’t recommend just any silver preparation. The newer nanotechnologies have been proven to be safe and effective. I love American BioTech Labs products (including SilverSol).
This is their CareStat Wound Dressing:
So there you have it! Three remedies to keep on hand in your Skin First Aid Kit!
If you enjoyed this newsletter, please comment and share! Let’s spread the word about the efficacy and safety of Naturopthic Medicine.
What is Methylation and Why Should I Care? Sat, 01 Oct 2016 18:51:41 +0000 First let me tell you why you should care and then we’ll get into the nitty-gritty of methylation:
A breakdown in methylation significantly increases the risk of a huge number of health conditions from osteoporosis and cervical dysplasia to cancer, depression and anxiety, ADHD, birth defects, chronic conditions such as chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia, cancer, cognitive decline, miscarriage, and stroke.
A large percentage of the population carries a genetic predisposition (MTHFR) to reduced methylation. Many other factors can also reduce your ability to methylate. Read on to find out what methylation is, what factors affect it, and how you can assess your own methylation capacity.
Methylation is a chemical process that occurs in every cell and tissue in our bodies. It is the process of adding a methyl group (1 carbon bound to 2 hydrogen molecules) to various “substrate” molecules in the body. These substrates include your genetic material (DNA), RNA, enzymes, neurotransmitters, and hormones.
Methylation of a substrate changes how that substrate interacts with other chemicals in the body.
It can turn genes on and off- affecting our health either positively or adversely (depending on the gene). Similarly, methylation can activate or inactivate enzymes in the body (turning on and off chemical processes).
Methylation is essential for detoxification in the body. One crucial example is the methylation of a toxic amino acid called homocysteine to a beneficial amino acid (methionine). If the body cannot methylate properly, toxins (such as homocysteine) can build up. Elevation of homocysteine in the blood is a risk factor for a diverse number of health conditions including heart disease and stroke, clot formation, early miscarriage, Alzheimer’s disease, elevated liver enzyme, and osteoporosis. You can see here that the impact of elevated homocysteine is quite broad.


There are several factors that can reduce methylation capability:
1) Genetic mutations (many genes including MTHFR mutation)
2) Lack of cofactors that drive methylation (such as zinc, magnesium, and B6)
3) Specific nutrients which deplete methyl groups (such as niacin)
4) Environmental toxicity (heavy metals and other chemical exposures)
5) Lack of sufficient methyl donors (B12, folic acid, riboflavin, vitamin B6, choline, TMG (betaine), DMG, DMAE, SAM-e)
6) Health conditions (such as hypothyroidism, kidney failure, cancer, and pregnancy).
Let’s talk about assessing your methylation pathways. This can be done through a few blood tests:
1) Complete blood cell count (CBC): large red blood cells (elevated MCV) can signal poor methylation
2) Homocysteine in the blood: the normal level is less than 13 but, a level between 6 and 8 is ideal.
3) If you have low hemoglobin or red blood cells or an elevated MCV, request a test called serum or urinary methylmalonic acid (MMA). This is a more accurate test of B12 status and utilization than serum vitamin B12.
4) An MTHFR genetic test can also be helpful. A significant number of people (some estimates believe 40% of the population) carry these mutations in two genes commonly tested for. The C677T mutation reduces methylation by 70% if you have two defective copies (homozygous) and by 40% if you have 1 defective copy (heterozygous). It is associated with increased homocysteine. We know less about the A1298C mutation. Heterozygosity (1 defective copy) of the A1298C gene is not thought to be problematic on its own unless the patient has a very unhealthy lifestyle or exposure to significant toxins. 2 defective copies can present more of a problem.
Proper methylation has been named by some physicians to be the key to healthy aging.
So, what can you do about it?
1) Improve your diet. “Folate” (as in folic acid) comes from the word “foliage”. Humans need to eat plenty of leafy green vegetables. Folic acid is also found in legumes, fruits, and whole grains. Egg yolks, fish, and other animal proteins are the primary source of Vitamin B12 (so, if you’re vegan, consider a supplement). Avoid excess animal proteins, sugar, saturated fat, alcohol and coffee all of which can deplete B vitamins and increase homocysteine.
2) Watch your meds: acid blockers, methotrexate, oral contraceptives, HCTZ (a blood pressure medication), and anti-seizure medications can all affect levels of B vitamins.
3) Consider a B complex with activated forms of the B vitamins. If you have an MTHFR mutation, you should avoid synthetic folate.
4) If you are pregnant, or considering getting pregnant, your prenatal vitamin should contain folic acid in activated form (5-MTHF).
Here’s to your healthy methylation!
Back to School Immune Support Thu, 01 Sep 2016 18:36:11 +0000 I can’t believe it’s back to school time already! The fall/ winter months are notorious for viral and bacterial illnesses. Unfortunately, many over the counter cold medicines are designed for adults and may be unsafe for kids. Here are my top 3 supplement recommendations for keeping your kids healthy. I’ll also include a recipe for an immune-boosting soup at the end of the newsletter.
Here’s to a healthy, productive school year!


1) Vitamin D:
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient for immune function and because it is primarily made in the skin as a result of sun exposure and dietary sources are few, it’s not uncommon for people living in colder climates to be deficient in Vitamin D. In fact, it is thought that many common infections may predominate in the winter simply because many of us are deficient in Vitamin D when UV exposure is so low. Vitamin D reduces inflammation and increases antimicrobial defenses in the body.
Many (though not all) studies have shown that Vitamin D deficiency increases the risk of upper respiratory tract infections (URTI) and that Vitamin D supplementation reduces the risk of getting an URTI and reduces the duration and severity of an infection if you do get one.
The Recommended Daily Intake of Vitamin D for children is 400IU. Most experts believe this dosage to be too low. I tend to be conservative in my recommendations of Vitamin D since it is a fat-soluble nutrient and therefore can, in theory, cause toxicity.
I recommend maintenance dose of 800IU of Vitamin D for young children and between 1000 and 1500IU in older children. Higher amounts would be necessary if your child is deficient.


2) Probiotics:
A disproportionate percentage of the body’s immune system is located in the gut! It’s called the Gut- Associated Lymphoid Tissue (GALT) and it’s the body’s largest mass of lymphoid tissue. It’s one of our primary defenses against outside invaders.
A 2015 Cochrane Review found that probiotics were effective in reducing the risk of an upper respiratory tract infection, reducing its duration, and reducing absences of school and need for antibiotics.
There are a plethora of products on the market and quality can be a problem. A multi-strain probiotic with a high number of colony forming units (CFUs) is ideal. My recommendation is Klaire Labs Therbiotic Children’s Chewable. It contains 25 billion CFUs of multiple beneficial strains of bacteria and, above all, tastes great!


3) Elderberry:
Elderberry is an immune booster which has shown activity equivalent to Tamiflu (the conventional medication) in the treatment of flu infections. Elderberry has been shown to have anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and anti-cancer properties. There’s some evidence that compounds in its flowers and berries reduce inflammation in the sinuses and help to relieve sinus congestion.
Elderberry is loaded with antioxidants, it tastes great, and is very safe.
A favorite product of mine is Sinupret syrup for kids (I use it in adults too!). It is a combination herbal product containing elderberry which has been found to increase our natural immune defenses and relieve nasal and sinus congestion. I use it four times a day at the indicated dosage as soon as I think I may be coming down with a cold.


Mechanical flushing:
A few studies have found that gargling with water and using a nasal rinse can both reduce the risk of contracting an URTI and can shorten its duration if we do get sick. Simply gargling morning and night (more if you feel that you’re getting sick) and using a nasal saline rinse (I recommend the Xlear products) can be helpful in addition to teaching your kids to wash their hands!


Immune Boosting Soup (adapted from Dr. Andrew Weil):
8 cups vegetable stock
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, diced
4-8 cloves garlic, minced
One 1-inch piece of fresh gingerroot, peeled and finely chopped
1 cup sliced carrots
1 slice dried astragalus root (available at Asian markets or Whole Foods)
1 cup shiitake mushrooms (fresh or dried and reconstituted), sliced
1 cup broccoli florets
1.Bring the vegetable broth to a boil in a large pot.
2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a skillet and add the onion, garlic and ginger. Sauté over low heat until soft and aromatic.
3. Add contents of skillet to broth along with carrots, astragalus root, and shiitake mushrooms.
4. Simmer, covered, 1 hour.
5. Add the broccoli flowerets in the last 5 minutes, and remove astragalus before serving.
Serves – 8
The Power of Essential Oils Mon, 01 Aug 2016 18:54:32 +0000 The Power of Essential Oils
Essential oils are very powerful medicine. They can be potent, effective, and fast-acting. They should be used with some caution (particularly internally). In this month’s newsletter, we’ll explore three such oils and some new research pointing to benefits which could be helpful to many of us.
Also, I’ll include a recipe using XXX essential oil.


A note about purity and safety:
Not all essential oils are created equally. You want to look out for a few things:
1) 100% essential oil (no fillers)
2) Expeller extracted or steam distilled (not extracted using toxic solvents)
3) Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade
4) Use one to two drops internally at a maximum


Relax with Lavender:
Lavender has been used for centuries to calm the nerves and induce relaxation. It is also useful for indigestion especially when it’s associated with nervousness.
It has been compared with benzodiazepine medications (such as Valium and Xanax) and found to be as effective in inducing sleep in people with insomnia.
Lavender essential oil can be placed on pulse points (temples and wrists), added to bath water, or diffused in an oil diffuser.
One fantastic preparation is Lavela WS by Integrative Therapeutics. This highly bioavailable extraction out of Germany has been shown in the research to enhance the quality and duration of sleep and calm nervousness (even in patients with generalized anxiety disorder). It is safe, well-tolerated, and non-habit forming. There are no known drug interactions.


Rosemary is more than just for salad dressings:
Rosemary oil has anti-microbial activity: it has been found to be effective against candida (at least in some studies) and aspergillus, can repel aflatoxin (a carcinogenic fungal toxin found predominantly on peanuts) and multiple strains of bacteria.
It also has antioxidant properties making it a particularly effective food preservative to repel growth of food-borne pathogens and keep the food fresh.
Rosemary oil has insecticidal activity: it kills off some agricultural pests and repels mosquitos (possibly more effectively than citronella) and even Lyme-carrying ticks.
And here’s another benefit: rosemary is a mild pain-reliever and is effective when used topically and internally. It is also safe in combination with other analgesic medications and may enhance their effectiveness.
Rosemary has been found to have anti-cancer activity (particularly against liver cancer but also against colon, breast, stomach, melanoma and leukemia cells) and has been found to have liver-protecting effects.
But this is my favorite potential benefit of Rosemary essential oil and the reason I was inspired to write this newsletter: amazingly, rosemary essentialy oil may induce hair-regrowth in patients with male-pattern baldness as effectively as a common treatment (2% minoxidil)! Two caveats: both the Minoxidil and the rosemary oil required 6 months to show significant benefit and both the Minoxidil and rosemary oil caused scalp itching, but the rosemary did so to a lesser extent.

Tea tree for your skin: from acne to toenail fungus:
Tea tree is a powerful anti-microbial agent. It has known, anti-fungal, anti-viral, and anti-bacterial properties. It also shows activity against lice. It also has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits and it enhances wound healing.
For your spots: Recent research has found that use of tea tree oil on the skin at as little as 0.25-1.0% concentration inhibits the acne causing bacteria (Propionibacterium acnes). The average number of acne spots decreased progressively over 12 weeks. In addition, facial oiliness was also significantly improved. The treatment is well tolerated in men and women with mild to moderate acne.


For fungal infections such as jock itch, candida, dandruff, and athlete’s foot: Another good use of tea tree is for fungal infections.
Tea tree has been used in 25% dilution (that is, adding a 1/4tsp of tea tree to 3/4tsp of carrier oil such as olive oil) twice a day for athlete’s foot. It was found to be quite effective over 4 weeks.
It has also been found to be effective when used in a 5% dilution in shampoo form daily in patients with dandruff (which is related to a yeast called Pityrosporum ovale).