Peppermint for Home and Health

Aromatic peppermint (Mentha piperita) has been used for centuries to add flavor or fragrance to foods, cosmetics, toothpaste and mouthwash, soaps, candles, and scented products for the home. Several different cultures also use peppermint leaves, oil, and fresh or dried powder in holistic health preparations.

As a traditional remedy, peppermint is used to awaken the mind and help relieve fatigue. Consider lighting a peppermint scented candle during the busy holiday season. Peppermint is also well known for relief of symptoms associated with the common cold and indigestion; it works by calming the stomach muscles and improving the movement of bile through the digestive system. Some scientific studies indicate that peppermint can improve the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), including pain, bloating, gas and diarrhea. Because the menthol component of peppermint acts as a decongestant, peppermint essential oil is a good choice for use in a diffuser, as a chest rub, or added to a warm bath. Dried peppermint leaves make for an excellent infusion for tea.

It is possible to be allergic to peppermint. Even though it can ease digestive complaints, it may not be appropriate for people who have acid reflux (GERD). Like many other herbs, peppermint can interact with other herbs, prescription medicine, or supplements. Peppermint can affect respiratory function in young children; it should not be used without the supervision of a trained medical aromatherapist. Be sure to consult your holistic physician or naturopathic doctor before adding any form of peppermint (oil, capsule, tea) to your health regimen.

References
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Three Steps for Lowering Blood Sugar

In this blood sugar diet blog, we have three strong evidence based recommendations for controlling your blood sugar.  These steps are essential for any blood sugar diet plan and part of any Naturopathic Doctor’s treatment plan.  We will take talk about what foods to avoid with diabetes and foods that can help lower blood sugar.  These tips are helpful if you are pre-diabetic to avoid becoming diabetic.  Once you become diabetic, you must become very aware of your blood sugar.  Adjusting to a healthy diabetic diet will protect your from having consequences from diabetes such as heart disease, kidney dysfunction, vision loss, stroke, amputations and so many more.  It will take time for the damage to lead to these and it is sad to watch a family member or friend deal with the effects of diabetes when they are not willing to take an integrative or holistic and nutritional approach to their diabetes. 

One ~ Eliminate Sugar
  • Don’t eat foods or beverages containing sugar. Avoid both artificial and natural sugars.
  • Read labels: Corn syrup, corn sweetener, sugar dextrose, glucose, fructose, brown sugar, cane sugar, beet sugar, turbinado sugar, date sugar, raisin syrup, maple syrup are all sugar and should be avoided in even the smallest amounts.
  • Avoid the use of artificial sweeteners as a substitution for sugar. Research has shown that artificial sweeteners can cause aggravated hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), loss of diabetes control and precipitation of clinical diabetes in persons who were free from disease.  In diabetics, it has caused an aggravation of complications related to diabetes.
  • Naturally sweet foods must also be avoided. These include honey, fruit juice, grapes, raisins, dried fruits, fresh fruits, jams and jellies.
  • Avoid all the following: ice cream, cake, candy, soda (all carbonated beverages), pies, pastries, canned jellies, preserves, jell-o, most cold breakfast cereals, fruit juice, punch, breakfast syrups, and most processed food items.

What fruits can diabetics eat?

There is an allowable exception of one 4-oz. selection daily from the list below.  Make sure the fruits are fresh and organic whenever possible.  Research is also showing that a pint of berries are does not raise blood sugar levels dramatically in most diabetics and is protective of small vessels.

  • Apple
  • Papaya
  • Orange
  • Home canned fruit with
    no added sweetener
  • Melon
  • Blueberries
  • Pineapple
  • Banana
  • Grapefruit
  • Pear

Sometimes a food intolerance panel can also be helpful to identify the foods that cause the blood sugar to rise.

Two~Eat Protein Rich and/or complex carbohydrate rich foods

Eat complex carbohydrates and protein rich foods in small to moderate amounts (in 1 to 4 ounce servings) at most meals or snacks.  This does not mean you should avoid other types of healthy foods that you enjoy, such as vegetables.  Protein is a very important part of allowing your blood sugar to be carried stable throughout the day.

Three ~ Eat small, frequent meals

Eat small to moderate amounts of food every few hours, particularly if your energy is low.  For example, eat 3 moderate meals daily.  You can have one, two or three between meal snacks as desired, or as needed to keep your energy and concentration up.

These are some basic suggestions but everyone is an individual so we encourage you to follow up with your naturopathic doctor or integrative doctor if they provide holistic medicine.  We specialize in this kind of thing so neither diet or diabetes are not a new idea for us. Getting the right care tailored for you or your child’s specific body and situation is key to success in your health.  At Journey of Health Naturopathic Clinic we are dedicated to finding the right integrative solutions for each patient. We proudly serve the San Diego area, providing some of the best service in Naturopathic medicine. If you wish to further your own journey of health with Naturopathic solutions and Alternative medicine, give us a call at (619) 772-1164.  We offer free 10 minute consults so you can see if we are the right fit for you and you family.  Reach out and learn more about your holistic medicine options today!

What Is The Best Medication for PMS?

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is the most common period related complaints of women in their reproductive years.  They can have PMS irritability and anger, nausea, cramping, pain and bloating.  PMS can also cause anxiety, depression, swelling, headaches and breast tenderness.  The best medication for treating PMS is considered oral contraceptives, however some patients have adverse effects usually because of a methylation defect, MTHFR.  Another treatment considered successful is the Serotonin selection re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs), however these can have side effects too and women don’t feel like themselves.  The lack of resolutions of the symptoms without drugs or side effects often leaves women asking ‘what vitamins are good for PMS?’ or ‘how to stop PMS naturally?’

Integrative medicine has included Chaste Tree Berry as an effective herbal medicine to balance the cycle out and minimize symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome and even PMDD.  Naturopathic Doctors have found the research for Chaste Tree Berry, otherwise known as Vitex, as effective as oral contraceptives for PMS mood swings and PMS pain but without the side effects many women experience from oral contraceptives.  While this herbal supplement shows great promise, holistic medicine allows your Naturopathic Doctor to consider what other alternative medicine options may fit you as well.  Magnesium may benefit you for PMS cramps and may be an appropriate natural remedy if you have other signs of magnesium deficiency.  Evening primrose oil or progesterone may also be a goos fit. Assessing your overall health and body symptoms can help a integrative doctor fit the right tools to eventually be close to symptom free around your period.

There is a natural rise and fall to estrogen and progesterone during a women’s cycle that is important to understand and balance out.  When the estrogen is higher, a woman is more likely to be decisive and motivated.  This is the best time of the month to make decisions or work on a large project.  This is the time of doing.  Right around the time PMS shows up, there is a time of reflection and being and part of the natural cycle and big decisions are not best made here.  Just understanding this about your body can empower you.  The more you are able to create balance, the less symptoms or vitamins and medications you will need for PMS symptoms.  This is the natural rhythm of the menses cycle.  This is surely an alternative view but a holistic treatment protocol for PMS.  Our Naturopathic Doctors understand that your body has been through a lot and may have cellular memory contributing to your symptoms of PMS.  We are all about problem solving.

We specialize in this kind of thing so PMS or cramps is not a new idea for us. Getting the right care tailored for you, your specific body and situation is key to success in your health.  At Journey of Health Naturopathic Clinic we are dedicated to finding the right integrative solutions for each patient. We proudly serve the San Diego area, providing some of the best service in Naturopathic medicine. If you wish to further your own journey of health with Naturopathic solutions and Alternative medicine, give us a call at (619) 772-1164.  We offer free 10 minute consults so you can see if we are the right fit for you and you family.  Reach out and learn more about your holistic medicine options today!

Natural Treatment for Anxiety in Kids

Anxiety in kids is a common thing to encounter in a naturopathic clinic. It can be all consuming for both kid and parents especially around separation and/or sleep.  I recommend kids who experience anxiety to be treated with homeopathy.  Homeopathy are natural remedies for child anxiety whether younger children or teenage anxiety and these natural remedies are a powerful integrative tool in natural medicine that can help kids adjust to their surroundings.  Starting school can be one of those triggers.  Kids with social anxiety can find it difficult to make decisions in a group and most education is geared toward collaborative group teaching.  They may act the part but their anxiety will continue to accumulate until there is an outlet such as a physical symptom- sore throats, or belly pain  with constipation are really common.  The worry and feeling of being overwhelmed are difficult to express especially when trying to be good at school.

Other children with anxiety may be super sensitive either emotionally or physically.  Even the smallest suggestion of a problem can send them running to someone for safety.  The feeling of abandonment can also be something that is triggered by anxiety.  It is a real fear for them that dominates their ability to learn and thrive.  If a teacher is sweet and safe with the child, they may do well but if the teacher is not warm but more strict, the child can think that the teacher is always mad at them or that they are bad creating a block to the learning.   Homeopathy can reduce a child’s anxiety overcoming both emotional distraction and reoccurring physical issues at the same time.  The child can improve in a holistic way when we consider everything.

Your Naturopathic Pediatric Doctor can also consider the other tools in naturopathic medicine that can be contributing to anxiety.  Integrative medicine can include looking at diet, nutrition through labs and history or supplements for child anxiety while naturopathic medicine can suggest herbs for anxiety and food intolerances contributing to the anxiety. Physical problems can also be related to the ability to focus and this is where functional medicine comes in handy. The complaint may not be something that can be clearly seen on a lab but we know there is a dysfunction such as pain, constipation or reflux or even frequent illness.  These are all physical symptoms that can come along with anxiety.

We specialize in this kind of thing and see anxiety frequently in our office so it’s not a new idea for us. Getting the right care for your child is important and tailored for your child’s specific body and situation in mind. At Journey of Health Naturopathic Clinic we are dedicated to finding the right inegrative solutions for each patient. We proudly serve the San Diego area, providing some of the best service in naturopathic medicine. If you wish to further your own journey of health with naturopathic solutions and alternative medicines, give us a call at (619) 772-1164.  We offer free 10 minute consults so you can see if we are the right fit for you and you family.  Reach out and learn more about your holistic medicine options today!

Fight Joint Inflammation with Turmeric

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is the golden-orange spice that gives curried foods pizzazz. In Traditional Chinese and Indian Medicine, turmeric is used to treat allergies, digestive ailments, and pain. The active chemical component of turmeric is curcumin, known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Today, research is focused on the role curcumin plays in diseases where the underlying factor is inflammation, such as in heart disease and arthritis.

Studies show that curcumin blocks inflammation at the cellular level. Some studies indicate that curcumin’s role in preventing joint inflammation surpasses its ability to reduce active joint inflammation. In clinical trials, standardized curcumin supplements helped improve pain and swelling in patients with RA. These promising results are being further investigated in long-term studies.

Including turmeric in your diet is easy to do and, oh, so flavorful. Add turmeric to soups and dressings; sprinkle over meats, veggies, and scrambled eggs; add it to plain yogurt or a smoothie.

While adding turmeric spice to your meals is a great first step, the amounts used in cooking do not provide the therapeutic levels needed to achieve its robust health effects. When considering the addition of turmeric to your health plan, work with your La Mesa Naturopathic Doctor to determine if this is a good choice and which curcumin supplement is best for you. He or she can recommend the right form (capsule or powder) that will have the best bioavailability – meaning it’s easy for your body to process through the digestive tract – for your specific health needs. It is very important to use a high quality tumeric supplement to ensure its effectiveness.

References
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A Potent Berry for Liver Health: Schisandra chinensis

With its sweet, sour, salty, pungent, and bitter flavor profile, it’s no surprise the Chinese call Schisandra chinensis “the five flavored fruit,” or wu wei zi. Regarded as the most important herb in Traditional Chinese Medicine, the schisandra berry might more aptly be called the “fruit of life.”

Schisandra belongs to a unique class of herbs known as adaptogens, which enhance the body’s ability to adapt to, and recover from, stress. The source of the stress could be emotional, mental, environmental, or physical, such as when you become sick. In addition to supporting the body across physiological systems, it provides protective benefits for the liver, the body’s engine for detoxification. Studies show schisandra reduces inflammation, keeps hormones in balance, helps regenerate liver tissue, and lowers levels of an enzyme associated with liver damage.

Traditional Chinese physicians have long used schisandra to:

  1. stimulate the immune system and support adrenal gland function
  2. enhance recovery from illness or surgery
  3. reduce inflammation and fatigue
  4. improve blood circulation and enhance detoxification

Dried schizandra berries can be made into powder, capsule, tincture, tonic, tea and even wine. Schisandra is safe for most people, but precautions must be used if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, have epilepsy, or reflux disease. Your La Mesa naturopathic doctor can identify the type of schisandra supplement that is best for you.

References
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Healing The Gut with Marshmallow Root

There’s much more to that sweet, fluffy treat we enjoy melted in a s’more or sprinkled atop hot cocoa. Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis) is an ancient herb whose Greek name, Althainean, means “to heal.” Ancient Greek and Egyptian healers used Marshmallow flowers and leaves in salads to support healthy digestion. A secretion, known as mucilage, from its roots and stems, was used to soften the skin, treat sore throats, and ease congestion. Naturopathic doctors use Marshmallow Root (aka “mallow”) for these purposes and in treatment preparations for:

  • inflammation of the lining of the stomach
  • digestive issues including diarrhea stomach ulcers, constipation
  • inflammatory bowel disease, leaky gut syndrome and autoimmune disorders
  • skin conditions such as eczema
  • bloating and water retention
  • dry coughs and colds
  • bacterial infections and respiratory infections

A key healing property of Marshmallow Root is the ability to soothe inflammation of the mucous membranes throughout the body. When food sensitivity/allergies, illness, or other factors interfere with healthy digestion, a person can experience upset stomach, heartburn, constipation or diarrhea. Mallow forms a thick protective coating in the digestive tract, which helps reduce the burning and tame other symptoms of digestive distress.

With tall stalks topped by a lovely five-petal white blossom with purple center, Marshmallow Root makes a striking addition to a garden – especially if you enjoy harvesting for herbal tea. Supplements come in different forms including powder, tea, extract, ointments, and capsule. While considered safe for most adults and children, do ask your La Mesa naturopathic doctor which preparations of are best for you.

References
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Elderberry: Medicinal Elixir for the Whole Family

For millennia, physicians, and herbalists have found medicinal uses for all parts of the elder tree, including its wood, leaves, flowers and berries. Leaves were used in ointments to heal skin. The flowers and berries were made into infusions as a common treatment for colds and rheumatic conditions. Today, herbalists and holistic physicians commonly recommend elderberry for the wide variety of properties that can support the health of the young and old alike.

European (Black) Elder (Sambucus nigra) is the species safely and most commonly used for botanical medicines. Note that the berries should not be eaten (or used) raw. They must be dried first or properly cooked at the peak of ripeness.

Elderberries are rich in Vitamin C and flavonoids that act as antioxidants that protect cells in the body from damage and can help reduce inflammation. They have been used in preparations to treat colds, flu, and bacterial sinus infection. In studies, syrup prepared from the juice of elderberry has been shown to help decrease the duration of flu symptoms, including swelling in mucous membranes and congestion. Other studies have shown that elderberry extracts have antiviral properties and appear to have a role in inhibiting the replication of viruses.

Elderberry can interact with other medications including those used to treat diabetes, asthma, and drugs that suppress the immune system. Before using an elderberry product for an adult or a child, check with your La Mesa naturopathic doctor to verify the integrity of the product and appropriate use.

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Saw Palmetto

Is your Saw Palmetto irritating you or nourishing you?
       Saw Palmetto fruit is the 3rd most popular herb sold in the U.S., bringing in $32 million annually. Mostly this herb is snatched off the shelf by women shopping for their husband. Most commonly known used for the prostate.
       Also known as Serenoa repens, this botanical can act like a diuretic, decongestant and as an anti-inflammatory. It nourishes the male reproductive system, decreases prostate growth and amazingly enough, it can also help women who have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). It limits the conversation of testosterone to the next step, dihydrotestosterone which causes all the abnormal prostate growth and PCOS irritation.
       Saw Palmetto can be very effective herb but only if you take the right kind. Saw Palmetto has been in the news for marketing as Saw Palmetto and great attributes but containing fake ingredients. Many companies have filled their pills with useless fillers and unripe fruit. Most consumers don’t really know if the mix of lutein, beta carotene, zeaxanthin and other herbal properties in their product is active and good quality.
       If you want to benefit from Saw Palmetto and want to avoid the other chemicals and pesticides, our La Mesa Naturopathic Medical Clinic is happy to recommend to our patients highest quality products with proven track records.

La Mesa Naturopathic Doctor Discusses Echinacea: A Top Selling Herb in the US

 Echinacea brought in $16 million in the U.S. and was 8th most popular herb sold. It is a wonder why it didn’t make #1!  Most everyone knows of echinacea, common name of Purple Coneflower. There are two types, Echinacea purpurea and Echinacea augustifolia with the roots and leaves being used.
     Echinacea contains large polysaccharide molecules called heteroglycans. This is where Echinacea gets its shining reports. There are many types of heteroglycans such as Echinacin A and B and Echinacein and these constituents have the immune stimulating properties that most people are looking for in echinacea. There are other flavonoids, essential oil, and allyamides that help stimulate the immune system as well. Echinacea promotes natural killer cells to do their job and immune cells that act like pac-man to virus, bacteria, cancer, and trash. Echinacea constituents are well studied and continue to fascinate us with modern day paintball and laser tag action.
     There are many forms of Echinacea. Germany alone has 40 different echinacea products. Echinacea is usually taken as tincture or pills and less often as tea, although tea is fine too. Widely used for common colds, sore throats and flus, it is also used routinely to prevent illness in those with a less active immune system such as cancer, chronic fatigue, chronic infection, and AIDS. Lesser known uses include for recurring boils, topical use, and as an antidote for snake bites by reducing the venom effects.
     Echinacea is quite safe even in higher doses, in children and for autoimmune patients. Side effects are well studied and very few reported. Unfortunately, Echinacea is disappearing from the wild since it has been over harvested and picked for floral arrangements. In my La Mesa Naturopathic Clinic I use a variety of botanicals in our herbal practice and always use clean products without the fillers.