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Getting to Know Yourself

Posted By Carol L. Hunter PhD, PMHCNS, CNP, Wednesday, May 4, 2016
Updated: Monday, April 25, 2016

Are we ever finished getting to know ourselves? The answer to that question may vary depending on one’s current circumstances and begs the next question which is, are we ever finished working on ourselves? The obvious answer is that if life is a process then we must keep ourselves open to being transformed into a better, more caring human. I remember one job interview I had when I was asked about the condition of my emotional and spiritual state. My response was, “I’m a work in progress, like everyone else.” The interviewer had no response to that!

Recently I decided to see a professional therapist even though I am one. I wavered back and forth telling myself that if I just stood in front of the mirror, I could tell myself anything I may need to hear. But instead of helpful suggestions, I kept hearing the phrase “you’ve been a stupid idiot.” Now I don’t really mean that and am much more forgiving of myself than that, but sometimes we fall into the trap of negative thinking. People call me an optimist and yet, such negativism still happens to me. It was time for a tune up!

So how do we go about fighting these negative messages that our brains sometimes send us in what seems to be a relentless stream? First step is always acknowledgment. If you can recognize yourself going down that path, you are half way home. Next step is taking action. What I often tell my clients is that once you have the recognition, take immediate action by telling yourself “STOP.” Put your hand up in front of your face and say the word “stop” out loud. This interrupts the unhealthy thoughts and sets you on your way to not only terminating the negative thoughts, but also getting you back on track.

The next mental leap is tapping into your coping strategies, the healthy ones that have served you well over the years. The simpler the skill is, the better it is. So if putting on your running shoes is the antidote, it will get you out the door. One of the things I have noticed about my clients over the years is that many do not have any interests, hobbies, pastimes, or passions.  Oftentimes, this becomes a homework assignment and for some, it’s like climbing Mount Everest.  Clients will come back and declare that they cannot think of a single thing they would be interested in doing. The caveat being that until their survival needs are met for food, shelter and safety, nothing else can be entertained. But once these basic needs are met, it is time to explore the world before us. What is it that attracts you? For some, it is the mechanics of machinery. For others it is the beauty of art, interior design, flower arrangements or volunteering. When we look around our world, we see such great need in every arena of life. The happiest of us are those who share talents, skills and passions with others. If you’re just starting out in your field, not to worry, you concentrate on your learning and down the road, you will also be a beacon for others.

I remember the psychiatric nursing instructor that set my heart on fire for my career. She could somehow communicate with the mentally ill who had been institutionalized for 20 to 30 years. Many were unintelligible and incoherent, but not to her. She would smile in our post conferences and tell us exactly what the patients were trying so hard to communicate. Many had the unfortunate side effect of the medications called tardive dyskinesia, a neurological disorder characterized by involuntary movements of the face and extremities. This affliction could interfere with the ability to communicate. I remember at first being fearful and later being heartbroken by the patients’ conditions but also in awe over the dedication of my instructor and her ease in dealing with people of such incapacitations.

Everyone has something to work on within themselves. It takes courage to get help. But once you have opened that door of opportunity for yourself, you will be amazed at the gain of insight you have into your own life and how that will benefit every person whose life you touch. The more forgiving and accepting you can be towards yourself, the more you can be towards others in your life.

Can therapy help? First off, get some good references on the therapist you choose. It is always best to get a firsthand reference if you can. Write down questions you may have for your therapist on that first visit, so you can use that time to determine if you are a good fit. Don’t expect to hear everything you want to hear and this is very important. Therapists are not in the hospitality business of making you feel good like the therapist s at the spa and this is an important distinction to remember.  Mental health therapy is serious business and is intended to act as a guide with you at the helm. You and your therapist are partners and if something doesn’t sit right in your gut, pay attention to it. By that I mean that not every therapist will be the right one for your needs and that is Ok and often expected. A good therapist will thank you for coming and give you referrals to other therapists who can help.

Another great reason to seek psychotherapy is that it gives an individual a chance to get away from the good intentions of friends and family. Well intended as they are, they are fully invested in you in a way that reflects back upon themselves; meaning that as humans, what happens to you also affects them. What affects you may stimulate all kinds of emotional responses from others; whereas, with therapists, they are simply a sounding board upon which you offer up your emotional experiences on a clean slate. Therapists are trained to remain nonjudgmental but they are also human, so part of their education is to help them learn to identify their own “hot buttons” and know how to manage those without jeopardizing the client. Make sure you understand all the expectations on that first visit, including financial arrangements. Making copayments on a regular basis is the client’s responsibility and may even become part of the treatment plan if left neglected, so be sure you do your part.

A couple important points to remember is that change slowly occurs over a period of time, so don’t expect “miracles.” Since I prescribe medications and supplements, I tell my clients that I wish I had a magic pill for them but I don’t. One must be patient and expect to work hard to obtain significant results. I wish you a very special journey as you get to know yourself better and begin to see the very best of you brought out for others to enjoy.

Tags:  Carol Hunter  emotions  psychotherapy 

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New Mexican Got Cheese - A True Delight!

Posted By Carol L. Hunter PhD, PMHCNS, CNP, Wednesday, May 4, 2016
Updated: Monday, April 25, 2016
I love to discover delicious culinary delights that come from the Southwest, my home state in particular. New Mexico is probably best known for its red and green chiles, ranging in heat from mild to superhot. Another tasty find is the organic goat cheese that is made from the milk of free range goats at an altitude of 8000 feet by a company called CoonRidge located in Pie Town, NM.  Their products are USDA certified organic and what they do is mix the cheese with various herbs and oil to produce some delectable combinations. Two kinds I happened to have on hand when writing this article were “Organic Dillweed Onion” and “Organic Scarborough Faire.” It is wonderful on crackers or as I am offering in this recipe, on pasta. The website is coonridge.com, their email organicgoat@gmail.com. The number is 888-410-8433. There are many kinds of healthy pasta choices and two such examples are Organic Brown Rice Fusilli by Field Day, 200 calories per serving (www.fielddayproducts.com)  and Ancient Grain Pasta Fusilli imported from Italy by TruRoots, 210 calories per serving, (www.truroots.com).

Ingredients: serving size, one to two
One small onion, finely chopped
One small package of organic mushrooms
Two small tomatoes
¾ cup of dry pasta
4 tablespoons of grapeseed oil
2 tablespoons of fresh parsley
2 tablespoons of CoonRidge  organic goat cheese
1 tablespoon parmesan or romano cheese

Preparations:
In a medium saucepan, saute the finely chopped onions, mushrooms, tomatoes and fresh parsley until the onions are translucent and the tomatoes and mushrooms have shrunk.  Place on simmer or keep warm.
Boil the water for the pasta and add in a small amount of sea salt and grapeseed oil. Cook the pasta until it is done the way you like it, al dente or well cooked.  Drain well and then mix in the vegetable combination. Place the two tablespoons per person of the goat cheese on top of the pasta and let it sit until melted. Toss well and then sprinkle the parmesan or romano on top. There should be enough oil in the goat cheese to keep everything moist, but if you like it moister, just add in a splash of cold pressed, virgin olive oil. Bon appetite!

Tags:  Carol Hunter  goat cheese  new mexico  nutrition 

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ANH Action Alert: Stop the Glyphosate Madness

Posted By Alliance for Natural Health, Thursday, April 28, 2016

Glyphosate, the active ingredient in the most common weed-killer in the world known as RoundUp, is saturating our food system. Federal regulators have failed thus far to protect the public from this dangerous chemical, so ANH-USA is raising funds so we can ramp up the pressure on the feds to REMOVE RoundUp from the market, NOW! http://aahf.convio.net/site/R?i=YyLvYsDu0Vup8Ll8-MeNXQ

After years of claiming that glyphosate offers no threat to humans, the FDA recently declared it will begin testing specific foods for these toxins, which are known endocrine disrupters. But we at ANH have taken testing into our own hands using an independent lab, and have found glyphosate levels in products like eggs and dairy--products that are not supposed to come into contact with the herbicide. This testing doesn't even include glyphosate analogs found in competing weed-killers, which could make the amounts even more alarming!

ANH-USA is working to expose the dangers of glyphosate and put pressure on the EPA to remove this dangerous product from the market, before this becomes even more of a public health nightmare. We need to raise $40,000 to sustain this campaign and protect our children from this horrific chemical!

http://aahf.convio.net/site/R?i=Yo3pYMtvUXzVPD4cr_neSQ

ANH-USA relies on the generous support of the public to act as your watchdog group, and we're grateful for every dollar that sustains our efforts to show the EPA that we won't take no for answer. Please, make your tax-deductible contribution today and help us fight this toxic chemical! 

Donate:  http://aahf.convio.net/site/R?i=0si3GhB10DexoEaoeYfdLQ

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For the Love of Horses!

Posted By Carol L. Hunter PhD, PMHCNS, CNP, Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Since I was 9 years old I have tried to convince my Mother that horses are fantastic creatures! Her answer was telling as she would always respond “I don’t know them” and therein laid the problem.  As a child I begged and begged for horseback riding lessons and one day my dream came true. I can see it all right now as it unfolded before my eyes and nose. The barn with stalls on both sides, rather dark inside, was where my first lesson took place. The smell of manure was a new one then but one I would not only become very familiar with over the years but come to cherish. I sat upon a huge horse which was probably not the best idea for my first lesson, but he/she didn’t misbehave and I was patiently led back and forth along the barn corridor until time was up. What was it about these not so friendly animals that captured my attention to such a degree, that I could not stop reading horse stories and every time I drove in the car, I imagined I was riding the black stallion bareback, running alongside our car.

As you can imagine, I wanted more, but what I got was this response, “well, you wanted a lesson and you got one.” That was the beginning and unfortunately the end, at least for that period of my life. I had many other experiences as a teen because I could not stay away, yet did not have the skills to participate safely.  I had a friend whose family had a farm in the countryside with horses. We would go out there and I remember one particular ride in which my friend took off on her horse at a gallop. She was well trained and competed in equine events. The only thing I had going for me was love of the horse and hung on for dear life. To this day I don’t understand how I stayed on until the end of the pasture, but unbeknownst to me, there would be many falls off horses in my future.

At 16, I was fortunate enough to go to a dude ranch in Wyoming for a couple weeks in the summer with some of my classmates.  Peaches and I clicked and she was my beautiful Palomino mare for the time I was there. But I had the chance to go on a cattle drive and had to ride a different horse, one that turned out to be “head shy.” Now if you are moving your arms around and shouting at cattle to “get along little doggie,” it might be disturbing to a head shy horse and sure enough, my horse shied and bucked and sent me flying off to land with my right hip hard against a  very large rock.  Crying out in pain that night, I was gently picked up on my mattress by a number of cowboys who laid the mattress in the back of a pickup truck and drove me to the hospital, at least 60 or so miles away.  In the morning I awoke to my bright eyed roommate who was in her 80s, telling me one joke after the other. The problem was that when I laughed, the hip spasms started and I ended up crying in pain. I hated to tell her she needed to please stop.

I finally owned my first horses when I was 32. My husband, who had just finished his residency at the time, was excited as well and we bought a 14 hand Morgan horse and a 17 year old Thoroughbred who had been on the track. Our property backed up on the national forest in New Jersey and so we had room to ride. We had a barn, arena and my husband built a separate hay barn. My children learned to ride and life was good until one day my husband and I were out on the trial and he decided to pass me on Ramah, the former race horse. A bell went off in Ramah’s head and he took off like a rocket with me clinging on.  Unfortunately, for us humans, we cannot stop a horse if he wants to run. On my right was the reservoir; on my left was the rock cliff, at least 100 feet tall.  In such a situation, it is advised to turn your horse in circles, but in my case, it was impossible. I thought about jumping off but he was going too fast and I knew that would be disastrous, so I decided to stay the course and thank goodness, he eventually tired and settled down.

Years later in New Mexico, my daughter and I competed on our Quarter horse, Sassy, she in 4H and me on the Palomino show circuit. Showing was fun but was not nearly as much fun as having a horse in my back yard. I can still see my daughter and her friend riding their horses bareback along the quiet streets of our neighborhood.  My fondest memory was going out with my friend for an early morning ride in the Corrales bosque and after enough of those rides, I still follow those trails in my sleep, knowing every twist and turn. It was amazing that Sassy learned to tolerate skateboarders, bikers, runners, hot air balloons, speed boats on the river, unleashed barking dogs, coyotes, rattle snakes and everything else that was scary. I was able to ride her alone, in parades and in other new circumstances knowing that she had the confidence in me as her leader to comply. I remember Sassy being due to foal and how many nights sleep I had missed waiting for this new family member to arrive. Knowing that horses tended to foal at night, I would set my alarm and go to the barn to quietly look inside the stall. On one particular night, long after she was due to foal, I peeked into the stall and saw the dark outline of a long legged foal standing quietly by her side. Welcome to the world, Sheridan! Years later Sassy had her second foal, Samson, a bay colt and grandson of Seattle Slew. Although he didn’t have his grandpa’s talent on the track, Samson more than made up for it with his always willing disposition to do his best.

In looking back upon my years, now measured in horses, I can see how therapeutic and healing they were for me in terms of stress reduction, motivation, diligence, perseverance, acceptance and companionship. Although they can definitely trick you into thinking they are indifferent, they are always curious when feeling safe. And yes, they can form an enduring relationship with you, recognizing your voice and whinnying or running along the fence line when they see and hear your vehicle. I decided to write about horses as I am now reading a book entitled Riding Home, The Power of Horses to Heal by Tim Hayes. I would highly recommend it whether you are new to the world of horses or an old hand as it is inspirational. Therapeutic riding has opened up a whole new dimension in the treatment of those with mental disorders, from children to adults, with sometimes astonishing results. The bibliography contains lots of great references to further pursue this great subject. Happy Trails!

Tags:  animal therapy  Carol Hunter  horses  therapy 

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Asparagus & Two-Cheese Quiche

Posted By Carol L. Hunter PhD, PMHCNS, CNP, Tuesday, April 5, 2016
If you expecting a recipe for alfalfa cookies, you will be disappointed, but your horse would love it if you could find one! This month in honor of Easter, I found a wonderful recipe from Anna Stockwell in the March 2015 online edition of Epicurious. What makes this recipe so interesting is the fact that the pie crust is made with hash brown potatoes. This is a wonderful dish for a family brunch because you can make it ahead of time and simply warm it up when ready to serve. Bon appetite!

INGREDIENT LIST
4 medium russet potatoes (about 2 pounds), peeled
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, divided
¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
4 medium shallots, thinly sliced
6 large eggs, room temperature
1 ¼ cups half and half
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1 tablespoon finely chopped tarragon
5 ounces Fontina cheese, grated (about 1 ½ cups)    
4 ounces fresh goat cheese, crumbled (about ¾ cup)
½ bunch asparagus (about ½ pound), ends trimmed
Special equipment: a 10 inch cast iron skillet

PREPARATION
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using the coarse grater disk on a food processor or the largest holes on a box grater, shred potatoes. Toss with 1 tsp. salt and ½ tsp. pepper in a large bowl. Transfer to a clean dishtowel, gather together ends of towel, and thoroughly wring out excess liquid over the sink; transfer potatoes to a bowl and set aside.

Heat oil and 2 Tbsp. butter in a 10” cast iron skillet over medium high until butter is melted. Add potatoes and immediately start forming into a crust by pushing potatoes flat against bottom and sides of pan with a ½ cup dry measuring cup. Continue cooking, pressing potatoes up sides of pan until they start shrinking and potatoes are bound together and bottom of crust is starting to brown, about 10 minutes. Remove pan from heat and set aside.

Meanwhile, melt remaining 1 Tbsp. butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and saute’ until translucent, 5-6 minutes; set aside.

Whisk eggs, half and half, mustard powder, nutmeg, remaining ½ teaspoon salt, and remaining ¼ teaspoon pepper in another large bowl. Whisk in tarragon and set aside.

Sprinkle Fontina cheese, goat cheese, and sautéed shallots evenly over bottom of crust, then pour in egg mixture. Arrange asparagus decoratively on top. Bake until quiche is set and crust is well browned, 30-35 minutes. Let cool to room temperature before cutting into wedges and serving from the pan.


Do Ahead:
Quiched can be made up to 1 day in advance. Cool to room temperature, then wrap with plastic and refrigerate. To reheat, bake at 325 degrees F until warmed through, 15 to 20 minutes.

Photo credit: Chelsea Kyle, Epicurious, March online edition, 2015.

Tags:  asparagus  Carol Hunter  nutrition  quiche  two cheese 

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Eat Healthy on a Budget: 3 Easy Ways

Posted By Wholeshare Food, Monday, March 21, 2016

We all know healthy food can be expensive, and is often hard to find. The good news is that shopping for your family on a budget and eating well don’t have to be mutually exclusive. The healthy food movement has introduced many new and innovative ways for people to access high quality food at budget-friendly prices. With the help of these tips, building a healthy diet for your family doesn’t have to be a luxury anymore. Check out our top 3 tips for eating well on a budget.

Shop Seasonally
Fruits and vegetables are cheapest when they are actually in season.  When crops are abundant and farmers have more competition, prices are driven down. Sticking with what’s in season will save you extra cash and will keep your food nutrient filled and tastier too.  Check out this seasonality chart to learn the best seasons for buying your favorite produce items.  Shopping at farmers markets is a great way to shop seasonally as well as  support your local community.  As an extra tip, try shopping at markets near closing time.  Farmers are often hoping to get rid of leftovers and you can end up going home with better deals on grab bags full of produce. Bonus points for doing your part in the #uglyfood movement. If you don’t have access to a farmer’s market, consider growing your own herb or vegetable garden. Planting seeds is much more affordable and rewarding than taking multiple trips to the grocery store.  


Bulk Up

Buying in bulk is one of the best ways to save money on your groceries. If you notice one of your household staples goes on sale, stock up. Essentials like oatmeal, grains, beans, spices, dried fruits, nuts, and nut butters all make great bulk buying choices because they hold well in the pantry.  Consider your freezer your new best friend. Don’t be afraid to freeze extra meat, produce, breads, and seafood for later use.  Make swaps for expensive processed foods by combining your bulk oats, nuts, and dried fruits together as a healthy and affordable alternative. Cook up large portions at the beginning of the week and enjoy the leftovers in your packed lunches.  When buying in bulk, it’s also helpful to have a few versatile recipes like soups, stir fries or fried rice which can incorporate whatever produce or meat you happen to have on hand.

Join a Healthy Food Buying Club

Buying clubs are a great way to get healthy food for your family at wholesale prices.  Here’s how it works – a couple households get together and order their food directly from wholesale food distributors and farmers.  Because the club all orders together, everyone increases their purchasing power so wholesalers and farmers will deliver directly to the club.  Not only does the community get access to great food, they get it at wholesale prices.  It’s easier than ever to join or start a healthy food-buying club in your community through Wholeshare.  These are especially helpful if you live in an area without great natural food options.


Check here
 
to see if there are Wholeshare buying clubs in your area. If not, starting a club is a great way to help your community save money on sustainable food and support their health.  Folks who run their own buying clubs on Wholeshare also receive a reimbursement for every order, so many of them are able to buy their families’ groceries for free.

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RECIPE: Basic Chili

Posted By Carol L. Hunter, PhD, PMHCNS, CNP, Monday, March 7, 2016

before winter is truly behind us, let’s take a look at a recipe for the cold weather dish of chili, sometimes known as Texas chili. My favorite cook wear is Le Creuset and they provided this hearty recipe from My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes that Saved My Life from Ruth Reichl.

Ingredient List:

3 medium onions

Olive oil

6 cloves garlic, smashed

Salt and pepper

Cumin and oregano

Homemade chili powder (recipe below)                

1 pound ground bison

1 small can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce

1 large can chopped tomatoes

1 cup chicken stock

1 bottle robust dark beer

1 can black beans (kidney beans if you prefer)

Ruth gives options for adding in an ounce of dark chocolate, fish sauce, balsamic vinegar, cream sherry, soy sauce, cilantro, scallions, sour cream (or Greek yogurt if you prefer) and grated cheese. (Also if you can’t find ground bison, you can use lean ground beef.)

 

Preparation:

Dice the onions and saute them in olive oil until they’re soft. Add the garlic and let it soften, too. Add the oregano, some salt and pepper, a bit of cumin and 2 teaspoons of your homemade chili powder- more if you really like hot food.

Add the ground bison and cook, stirring, until it loses its redness. Puree 3 or 4 of the chipotle peppers and stir that in, along with the tomatoes and another teaspoon of your chili powder. Add the chicken stock (preferably homemade) and a cup of the beer and let it all simmer at a slow burble for a couple of hours.

Ruth writes, “Before serving, stir in a cup or so of cooked black beans. Now you get to play with the flavors. Is it hot enough? Do you want more chili powder? Sometimes I’ll melt an ounce or so of really good chocolate and stir that in to give it depth. Other times I’ll add a spoonful of fish sauce, or a splash of balsamic vinegar. Sometimes soy sauce to spark it up, other times cream sherry to mellow it down. It all depends on my mood. The point is, when you’ve made your own chili powder, everything else is just window dressing .

You can serve this with cilantro, scallions, sour cream and grated cheese. Or not. It’s that good. “

Preparation of chili powder:

Ruth writes, “I like to use anchos for their winey richness, habanero for their fruity heat, and New Mexicos for their earthy sturdiness.

Wearing rubber or latex gloves to protect your hands, sponge off 2 ancho, 3 New Mexico and 3 habanero chilies (they’re almost always dusty.) Cut them in half and removed the tips, where the majority of seeds congregate in dried peppers. Discard the seeds.

Put the chilies into a heavy-bottomed pan ( I use cast iron) and toast them over medium-high heat for about 4 minutes, turning from time to time with tongs, until they have darkened slightly. Allow them to cool and then grind the chilies to a powder in a spice grinder or coffee mill. Stir in a teaspoon of toasted ground cumin.

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Tags:  Carol Hunter  chile  recipe 

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Preparing for Your Garden

Posted By Carol L. Hunter, PhD, PMHCNS, CNP, Monday, March 7, 2016

Yes, the long dreary days of winter are quickly passing by and visions of spring flowers are in our heads. It is that important time for planning the spring garden. Every year I seem to feel like I am getting a bit of a late start on my garden plans. Before I know it, it’s the middle of March and I have yet to start my seedlings indoors. So this year I am resolving to be more on top of this process that ultimately brings me so much joy for the summer months. Just stop and think for a moment about juicy red beefsteak tomatoes shining on the vine in the heat of a summer day. Picture a basket filled with your favorite veges, freshly harvested and ready to go into your summer dishes. Think about a beautiful flower garden that attracts bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. I hope your imagination is now running wild! Step one is going through seed catalogues to decide what seeds to plant. Last year I told you about Annies and another one called Seeds. This year I have also ordered from Heirloom Organics out of Oregon. Try to stick with seed companies that offer heirloom seeds that have thrived and survived pests and diseases for many, many years. They are hardy and nutritious and you won’t have to worry about GMO hybrid seeds. Organic is always best but there are high quality seeds that do not have the organic certification, much the same as many types of wine which are made with sustainable farming practices but lacking the label. As many of you know who have gone through the process, obtaining organic farming certification is a long and painstaking process that may be more suitable for large operations than small.

Most seed catalogues now have “collections” of seeds to fulfill a particular purpose. Purchasing a collection will give you a variety but take the guess work out of it, if you are not sure what to buy.  Examples would be a herb collection or a salad collection. This year I am planting Annies’s butterfly collection, a variety of flowers to attract butterflies and am hoping to attract hummingbirds as well. I feed my favorite feathered friends each summer and at 8:00pm on a summer’s evening, there are dozens and dozens around the four feeders that are hanging on the front patio. They may be tiny birds but they have a beastly appetite and at the peak of the season, I am refilling the feeders every day.

Once you have decided what vegetables, flowers and herbs to buy, it is time to do your “companion planning.” Garden and Flowers.com define companion planting as “the process of seeding amicable species along with one another to promote growth.” There are many charts and information on the internet about this subject, but as a rule of thumb, it is typical to plant your lettuce and lettuce type plants together which would include kale, collards, swiss chard, raddichio and radishes. Another bed would house your cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and Brussel sprouts. Tomatoes are in the nightshade family along with eggplants and all types of peppers. Certain herbs/flowers  go very well with certain vegetables. Tomatoes love parsley, marigolds and especially borage which helps to detract the hornworms. Cauliflower and cabbage love oregano; Brussel sprouts love thyme, broccoli loves dill and rosemary and beets love sage.  Flowers like nasturtiums are edible and provide lovely color for a vegetable garden and they are especially compatible with squash. Make a drawing of your bed to lay out your plans so when the time comes to plant, you will know where everything goes. Believe me once the weather and especially the soil warms up, you’ll be in a hurry to plant those seeds.

Always read the directions on your seed packs because some seeds have such a long propagation time that they are best started indoors.  One of the downsides to this approach is that you need a fair amount of space and light for your seedlings. Another idea is to start them outdoors in a cold frame which ultimately is easier as they are planted where they will stay. I like small cold frames that you can lift off when the time comes to avoid an unnecessary transplant of the fragile seedlings. If you want to start tomatoes by seed, start early because a late planting may lead to disappointment in terms of the yield, unless you live in a location where the fall weather stays warm well into October.

Every year is a learning experience for me and no two seasons have ever been the same in terms of weather patterns, insects, irrigation scheduling or even yield. The important thing is to have fun with it and you will when you take your first delicious bite of something you have grown yourself. There is simply no comparison!

Tags:  Carol Hunter  garden  Heirloom Organics 

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GETTING THE LEAD OUT: ACAM Offers Solution for Latest Round of National Lead Poisoning

Posted By Administration, Friday, March 4, 2016

In February Flint, Michigan declared a "State of Emergency" in the wake of lead contaminated drinking water. Now we’re hearing of lead poisoning in other areas across the United States, including Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. As a result, we are once again faced with the age-old discussion regarding the health implications of lead accumulation. We know that protecting all people from lead exposure is extremely important to lifelong good health. Children, however, are particularly vulnerable to the harmful effects of lead because they absorb lead much more readily than adults. The current controversy over treatment revolves around three questions:

  1. Who should be considered at higher risk for harm and offered treatment?
  2. What treatments should be offered to individuals with elevated lead levels?
  3. At what blood lead level burden is it appropriate to start therapy?

Unfortunately, this type of water crisis is not uncommon. People worldwide continue to be exposed to potentially harmful levels of many toxic metals that can profoundly affect their health. They face potentially enduring, serious and complicated health issues.  Perhaps the major question, especially in children, is the level of lead in the blood to cause concern.

The American College for Advancement in Medicine (ACAM), an educational organization and a leading authority in the field of metal toxicity and treatment believes, as the CDC does, that “no safe blood lead level in children has been identified.” The effects of lead exposure on child cognitive development and behavior may be permanent if no intervention occurs. Experts from ACAM believe that certain interventions may be useful in lessening the symptoms and long-term neurocognitive damage that lead causes in children.

ACAM experts also contend that the myriad, harmful effects that lead can cause in other organ systems in people of any age should also be lessened. The original guidelines for intervention in lead poisoning were based on early FDA drug approval studies from the minimal research conducted in pediatric patients with blood lead levels above 45 mcg/dL. ACAM believes that appropriate medical intervention may be beneficial to those suffering from lead levels even at the current CDC cutoff of 5 mcg/dl, the level that places the child in the upper 2.5% of tested individuals.

Practitioners can now take a more proactive approach to prevent permanent damage and disability due to toxic metal exposure. ACAM has announced two offerings of its national recognized Chelation Certification – now titled Chelation Advanced Provider (CAP) Course & Certification. Whether you’re new to detoxification education or a seasoned practitioner, ACAM’s rigorous CAP training will enhance your practice’s treatment options and improve health outcomes. One step cannot be completed without the other – this is a sequential course designed to provide the most in depth chelation training available to date.

As the recognized leader in metal detoxification/chelation therapy education, ACAM works diligently to ensure our curriculum is robust, relevant and of the highest caliber. The CAP Program covers a broad spectrum of detoxification topics for from biochemistry to billing. Our faculty ensure scientific rigor, complete understanding, and safe, practical application of therapy to maximize health worldwide.

“This is a chelation dream team,” Lyn Patrick, ND, co-chair of the ACAM Chelation Committee and co-organizer of the CAP Program said. The Basic Chelation Webinar Series (step 1 in the 3 step program) offers chelation insights and training from Tony Lamas, MD, FACC, FAHA, FESC, Dorothy Merritt, MD, David Quig, PhD, Walter Crinnion, ND, Jeffrey Morrison, MD, and Roy Heilbron, MD. The live training and certification exam (steps 2 and 3, offered in the spring and fall) give experts W.A. Shrader, MD, Merritt, Quig, Patrick, and Stuart Freedenfeld, MD time for didactic lectures and thorough back and forth question/answer time.

Registration for the spring CAP Training is currently open at www.acam.org/CAP. For more information or if you have questions, please contact ACAM at 1.800.532.3688 or email info@acam.org.

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Chestnut Chocolate Torte

Posted By Carol L. Hunter, PhD, PMHCNS, CNP, Monday, February 8, 2016

Ingredients
One 8 oz stick of Earth Balance vegetable oil
1 cup granulated sugar, divided
1 tablespoon of confectioner’s sugar
18 ounces of fine quality, bittersweet chocolate, divided
1 (15) oz can of pureed chestnuts (Clement Faugier, available on Amazon.com)
1 box marrons glaces (Frutignac, available on Amazon.com)
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon of good quality bourbon
½ teaspoon vanilla
6 eggs
1 cup of half and half

Directions

  • Line a 9 inch springform pan with baking paper and sprinkle ¼ cup sugar on the bottom of the pan. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and put the rack in the middle of the oven.
  • Whisk 6 eggs and 2/3rds cup of sugar together in an electric blender until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  • Set 12 ounces of dark unsweetened chocolate on a double boiler to melt. Add one half cup of half and half.
  • In a large bowl, mash together the 15 oz can of pureed chestnuts, one tablespoon of bourbon, one half teaspoon of vanilla and the stick of softened vegetable oil.
  • When thoroughly melted and mixed, add the chocolate mixture to the chestnut mixture until smooth.
  • Gently fold in 1/3rd of the egg mixture into the chocolate mixture until well mixed. Add the remaining egg mixture in two more batches and gently fold until it is mixed well.
  • Pour the mixture into the pan and bake for 35 minutes or until the top is cracked and it is mainly firm but a little wobbly in the middle. Set on a rack and cool and then chill until set, about 4 hours.

GLAZE GARNISH TOPPING

  • Melt 6 ounces of fine quality bittersweet chocolate in a double boiler with one half cup half and half and one teaspoon of bourbon.
  • Dip the marrons glaces (candied chestnuts) half way into the chocolate and set aside on foil to set.
  • Invert the chilled torte onto a serving plate big enough to catch the drippings from the glaze. Pour the glaze over the torte and let it run down the sides. Dust the top with confectioner’s sugar, shaved chocolate and the marrons glaces.

For Vegans, there are many choices for substitutes for eggs: here is a great website to explore: http://www.theppk.com/vegan-baking-the-post-punk-kitchen-shows-you-how/

Tags:  chestnut  chocolate  food and drink  nutrition  torte 

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Love - A Complex Emotion

Posted By Carol L. Hunter, PhD, PMHCNS, CNP , Friday, February 5, 2016

As we approach this Valentine’s Day and think about romantic love, let us remember that love is one complex emotion.  Love arises out of multiple structures and specific neurotransmitters for its origins. Love increases blood flow to the nucleus accumbens which in turn floods the caudate nucleus with dopamine, the reward neurotransmitter. The resulting feeling is one of need, urge, craving, want, and obsession, much like addiction to substances. In fact, in functional MRIs, love lights up the same areas of the brain that cocaine does. Something as simple as receiving a text from someone you love affects the brain the same as cocaine. Researchers are now starting to state that love is showing up in the brain like addiction, not an emotion. Love can have highly positive effects however, increasing energy level, sharpening focus and cognitive performance as well as improving motor skills. What is it about love that makes us lose our perspective and sometimes even our rational balance? What blinds us to the shortcomings of our beloved and allows us to project their attributes as bigger than life? What is it about love that makes us go around with a goofy smile on our face humming our favorite song? Well, maybe only Cupid has the answers to those questions because even science struggles to find them.

Advice to the lovelorn is abundant but elusive. As a professional who has facilitated relationship and marital issues over the years, it is clear there is never any easy answer, perhaps because we are ultimately so unique in our thoughts and perceptions. However, we try to generalize the human condition so we can come up with theories and strategies that work with the majority of clients. So let’s take a look at some situations and try to make some sense out of mishaps in the world of love. Let us begin at the beginning, that magical time when our hearts race upon seeing our beloved’s face, when our knees are weak when our beloved offers us a smile, and when our minds drift off to the newly familiar place of safety and exhilarant being. Despite this euphoria, there is anxiety. It is a time of sharing which begs the question, “how much should I share?” Your story will take form over time but it is important to be open and transparent at the very beginning about issues which could end up hurting the one you love. The sooner you share the fact that you have a roommate of the opposite sex, the better. The sooner you share the fact that you are the parent of three young children, the better. You get the idea; it is better to eliminate surprises that could be hurtful down the road. Such openness at the beginning goes a long way towards the establishment of trust, a key ingredient in any relationship.

You might have great chemistry but are your long term goals and dreams in alignment? The closer you both are in your core values and in your long term plans, the more solid the relationship. I once did marital therapy with a couple in their 50s that eventually got divorced. Her dream was to have an organic farming business and he endorsed the idea for years. At the end before he walked out, he declared he had never really been on board with the idea. At first he hadn’t wanted to hurt her feelings; later he became vindictive allowing her to think the plan was moving forward when it clearly was not. He later married a much younger woman and moved into an apartment in Brooklyn.  What had she missed? Perhaps his ongoing agreement never challenged her to truly explore her husband’s mind in terms of his own dreams. Lesson learned: it is easy to take things for granted, to accept what is presented on the surface. Try to avoid being complacent about your beloved’s thoughts. Unless you routinely check in with him/her, you will not truly know. In doing so, you will also benefit from the nonverbal language that gives us much information about a person’s emotional state.

Since we all are human, we make mistakes and hurt the ones we love, hopefully in small ways only. Handling this situation is extremely important in relationships. Some say women have higher emotional intelligence than men but both genders can be reluctant to take responsibility for their “lapses in judgment.” Here is a pattern I have discerned over the years: the higher a person’s self-esteem, the more easily they are able to apologize for their actions. Why would that be the case? When a person feels good about him/herself, an appropriate apology is a tool to simply get life back on track again. It is not construed as a blow to the ego. Such a person knows that making silly, but hurtful mistakes can cause pain for the one they love and they also know how to rectify the situation. Apologies come in all forms and adding in a special treat or surprise cannot hurt at all! But it’s those three little simple words “ I am sorry” that can literally put a relationship back on track again and all is forgotten. That is something well worth remembering on this special day.

A recent study in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships found that couples who placed a higher value on friendship with their partner, were more committed, more in love and more sexually satisfied than their friends who did not place as much value on friendship.  Another study discovered that couples that laughed 10 or more minutes per day were happier than those who did not laugh that much. Think about being a good friend to your partner as it just might be the most important tool in the toolbox of love. It provides an opportunity to make your partner feel accepted, be it fair or stormy weather.  Friendship can be a powerful foundation upon which you can build a “home” in your heart. It is one of the greatest gifts you can give your partner.

So what is love? Love knows no boundaries in terms of time, age, distance or expectations. Love is its own master, beholden to none. It is so powerful it can topple hierarchies and governments; it can bring the most unlikely together in unison and song. It is the basis of joy and ecstasy; it is the glue that brings people together; it brings meaning to life.

Hold your loved one tight this Valentine’s Day and tell them why they are so special!

Tags:  emotion  love  puberty 

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ACAM Addresses Flint, MI Water Crisis

Posted By Administration, Friday, January 22, 2016
Updated: Monday, February 8, 2016

Flint, Michigan recently declared a "State of Emergency" in the wake of lead contaminated drinking water. As a result, we are once again faced with the age-old discussion regarding the health implications of lead accumulation. We know that protecting all people from lead exposure is extremely important to lifelong good health. Children, however, are particularly vulnerable to the harmful effects of lead because they absorb lead much more readily than adults. The current controversy over treatment revolves around three questions:

  1. Who should be considered at higher risk for harm and offered treatment?
  2. What treatments should be offered to individuals with elevated lead levels?
  3. At what blood lead level burden is it appropriate to start therapy?

Unfortunately, this tragedy goes far beyond Flint, Michigan. People worldwide continue to be exposed to potentially harmful levels of many toxic metals that can profoundly affect their health. They face potentially enduring, serious and complicated health issues.  Perhaps the major question, especially in children, is the level of lead in the blood to cause concern.

The CDC states, “Experts now use a reference level of 5 micrograms per deciliter to identify children with blood lead levels that are much higher than most children’s levels. This new level is based on the U.S. population of children ages 1-5 years who are in the highest 2.5% of children when tested for lead in their blood.  In the past, blood lead level tests below 10 micrograms per deciliter of lead in blood may, or may not, have been reported to parents. The new lower value means that more children will likely be identified as having lead exposure allowing parents, doctors, public health officials, and communities to take action earlier to reduce the child’s future exposure to lead.”

The CDC also states, “What has not changed is the recommendation for when medical treatment is advised for children with high blood lead exposure levels. The new recommendation does not change the guidance that the therapy used to eliminate lead from the body be considered only when a child has been tested with a blood lead test result greater than or equal to 45 mcg/dL.” [http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/ACCLPP/blood_lead_levels.htm]

However, medical science has determined that even very low blood lead levels in children can affect IQ, ability to pay attention and future academic achievement. It is now clear that IQ loss in lead-exposed children can occur at levels below 5.0 mcg/dL. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2212280/, from Neurotoxicology, 2006 Sep; 27(5): 693–701.

The American College for Advancement in Medicine (ACAM), an educational organization and a leading authority in the field of heavy metal toxicity and treatment believes, as the CDC does, that “no safe blood lead level in children has been identified.” The effects of lead exposure on child cognitive development and behavior may be permanent if no intervention occurs. Experts from ACAM believe that certain interventions may be useful in lessening the symptoms and long-term neurocognitive damage that lead causes in children.

ACAM experts also contend that the myriad, harmful effects that lead can cause in other organ systems in people of any age should also be lessened. The original guidelines for intervention in lead poisoning were based on early FDA drug approval studies from the minimal research conducted in pediatric patients with blood lead levels above 45 mcg/dL. ACAM believes that appropriate medical intervention may be beneficial to those suffering from lead levels even at the current CDC cutoff of 5 mcg/dl, the level that places the child in the upper 2.5% of tested individuals.

Due to the lack of current, cohesive, long-term studies in children with elevated blood levels below 45 mcg/dL, the decision when to initiate chelation therapy is a personal choice between a patient and their physician. To better elucidate what is the best treatment strategy for lead poisoning, ACAM is calling for the immediate initiation of a collaborative long-term research project. The project, conducted through appropriate channels, could provide immediate medical attention and intervention to all children and adults in Flint who have high blood lead levels (>5 mcg/dl). This research project should also investigate assessing those common genetic and metabolic defects that could render individuals even more susceptible to the harmful effects of lead.

We can take a more proactive approach to prevent permanent damage and disability not only in the population of Flint, MI but to everyone exposed to the potential devastation caused by lead.

ABOUT ACAM:
The American College for Advancement in Medicine (ACAM) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to educating physicians and other health care professionals on the safe and effective application of integrative medicine. ACAM's healthcare model focuses on prevention of illness and strives for total wellness. ACAM has been educating physicians in metal removal techniques such as chelation therapies since 1973. A recent NIH sponsored study has demonstrated that the chelation technique using EDTA is safe when it is used by physicians educated in these techniques.


FIND A PHYSICIAN NEAR YOU FOR ASSISTANCE:
ACAM offers Physician+Link – a free service provided to the public for finding integrative practitioners in their area. Call
1.800.532.3688 for personal assistance or visit www.acam.org/ACAMPL

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:
A rationale for lowering the blood lead action level from 10 to 2 μg/dL

Effect of Chelation Therapy on the Neuropsychological and Behavioral Development of Lead-Exposed Children After School Entry

American Academy of Pediatrics: Lead Exposure in Children: Prevention, Detection, and Management

Safety and Efficacy of DMSA in children with elevated blood level concentrations

Children with moderately elevated blood lead levels: a role for other diagnostic tests?

What level of lead in blood is toxic for a child?

Tags:  chelation  detoxification  Flint Michigan  water 

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Grapefruit & Avocado Salad with Dulce

Posted By Carol L. Hunter, PhD, PMHCNS, CNP, Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Grapefruit/Avocado Salad with Dulce

Spread a generous handful of spring mix on a platter.

Arrange the grapefruit slices and avocado slices in a circle on top of the lettuce.

In the middle place a few slices of cucumber.

Sprinkle walnut pieces on top.

Sprinkle dulce bits on top by snipping off small pieces with scissors.

Pour Citric dressing over salad. Use salt and pepper to taste.

Citric dressing:

2 tablespoons of fresh squeezed orange or lemon juice

2 tablespoons of cold pressed extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon of lemon or orange zest

½ teaspoon of cumin

2 grated garlic cloves

2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste.  (If you like a creamy dressing, you can add ½ cup of tahini.)

Enjoy, your thyroid gland will thank you!

Tags:  nutrition  recipe 

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Don't Depend on Salt to Get Enough Iodine

Posted By Carol L. Hunter, PhD, PMHCNS, CNP, Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Everywhere you turn in the media, in published guidelines from professional medical associations, from private health and governmental organizations, from your own physician and from family members, we are told to restrict the use of salt. These public and private warnings are given to mainly avoid elevated blood pressures and the risks of cardiovascular events and cerebrovascular accidents or strokes.  

There is also a movement among naturalists to only use sea salt which contains little to no iodine. It comes in a variety of colors: pink, light gray and light blue and even black and is easy to find today in any health store. Kosher salt is also a pure form which also lacks iodine. With the public campaign to decrease animal fats in the diet and thereby reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, people are eating more vegetables which contain less iodine than animal sources. Iodine is also lost in sweat while exercising. 1

Back in 1926 a public health decision was made to include iodine in salt. The reasoning was that everyone loved their salt and used it daily, so they would also get the necessary daily trace amount of iodine. There was an epidemic back then of goiters, a large swelling of the thyroid gland that was not only uncomfortable but unsightly. The addition of iodine to salt resolved this public health problem and people’s thyroid problems were balanced just simply by a shake of salt at the dinner table.

Salt is an excellent preservative and so the inevitable happened. Food manufacturers started incorporating large amounts of sodium into their products, especially the packaged versions. And soon afterwards, blood pressures were on the rise.  With all the warnings, one would think salt had become public enemy number one; however, salt is necessary to life and without it, we cannot live. Due to the drastic reductions in salt intake today, iodine deficiency has increased to the point that nearly 74% of healthy adults may not consume enough.1 The US recommended daily allowance is 150 to 290 micrograms with a top limit of 1100 mcg; however, when that is compared to the daily intake of Japanese women which ranges from 5280 to 13,800mcg with no adverse effects, the RDA may be lacking in true efficacy. 1

The important realization here is that we can no longer depend upon salt to provide our source of iodine and as a result, hypothyroidism has reached epidemic proportions in our US population. Do you know someone who takes thyroid replacement? I would bet you do. It’s a rampant health problem that is largely treated with prescription medications today. In addition, iodine deficiency may result in obesity, cognitive and psychiatric disorders, heart disease and forms of cancer, especially breast cancer and fibrocystic breast disease. In developing children, iodine can prevent mental retardation. Research has also shown that iodine can absorb and eliminate radioactive elements from our bodies, inhibit tumor formation and reduce cholesterol.  Please get your thyroid levels checked if you haven’t done so.

So what are the alternative sources of iodine, if our salt has largely been denied us? Don’t recoil when I present you with this gift from the sea, but seaweed is a vital source of iodine, especially for vegans who cannot depend on other sources. The sea is the greatest repository of iodine where various seaweeds are able to concentrate it to very high levels. Contrarily, there is very little iodine found in the soil. Seaweed is classified by its color which is either red, brown or green. Once company called Maine Coast Sea Vegetables provides its products in whole leaf, flaked, granulated, powdered and bulk forms. Their website is www.seaveg.com and is a wealth of information. Their products are easy to find in most nutrition centered stores and cooperatives. Seaweed can be used in soups, sandwiches, stirfries and salads. Because it is such highly concentrated food, only small amounts are needed to boost the flavor and nutrition of any dish. At their online store they feature their cookbook, Sea Vegetable Celebration, by owner Shep Erhart and organic chef Leslie Cerier, that contains over 100 vegetarian recipes.

There are many types including the Asian Nori, Hiziki, Arama and Wakame and the US coastal varieties such as dulse, kelp, alaria and laver. Incorporating seaweed into your diet is just a snip away. Simply get out your scissors and cut off tiny pieces to put in whatever dish you are cooking. Half the fun will be the experimenting so try out the dried seaweed which is crispy and salty and then the soaked version which cuts down on the salty taste. On the bag of my dulse seaweed, a one third cup serving based on the 2000 calorie per day intake yields only 18 calories and a whopping 780% daily value of iodine! This form of iodine intake may not be as easy as shaking a salt shaker, but being able to eat seaweed right out of the bag with a few snips is the next best thing. Here is a tasty and beautiful salad to get you started:

Grapefruit/Avocado Salad with Dulce

Spread a generous handful of spring mix on a platter.

Arrange the grapefruit slices and avocado slices in a circle on top of the lettuce.

In the middle place a few slices of cucumber.

Sprinkle walnut pieces on top.

Sprinkle dulce bits on top by snipping off small pieces with scissors.

Pour Citric dressing over salad. Use salt and pepper to taste.

Citric dressing:

2 tablespoons of fresh squeezed orange or lemon juice

2 tablespoons of cold pressed extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon of lemon or orange zest

½ teaspoon of cumin

2 grated garlic cloves

2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste.  (If you like a creamy dressing, you can add ½ cup of tahini.)

Enjoy, your thyroid gland will thank you!

1): http://www.lifeextension.com/magazine/2011/10/the-silent-epidemic-of-iodine-deficiency/page-01

 

Tags:  Carol Hunter  iodine  salt 

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Vegan Tomato Soup

Posted By Carol Hunter, Monday, December 7, 2015

Vegan Tomato Soup:

Fill a blender about half full with peeled fresh tomatoes, about 12 medium.

Coarsely chop large red onion and add to blender.

Chop 3 cloves of garlic and add to blender.

Add 2 tbsps. cold pressed fresh virgin olive oil.

Add about 16 oz organic vegetable broth.

Add half teaspoon of dried or 3-4 sprigs of fresh basil.

Add half teaspoon of Herbs de Provence.

Mix well on medium speed for several minutes, then high for several minutes, then back to medium. It won’t hurt the soup to keep mixing it while you open a 16 oz can of white cannellini beans. Drain, wash and drain again.

Add the beans and mix again on medium, then high, until thoroughly mixed. If the blender is too full, you can pour off half the tomato soup and add half the can of beans and blend. Set aside and do the second batch. Some recipes call for cream and butter which this recipe avoids. The beans thicken the soup and provide plenty of good fiber at a low calorie intake. If you are needing something sweet, you won’t taste it in this soup. If it’s a bit too acidic, add some spice like cayenne pepper to zip it up. Season to taste with sea salt and fresh pepper and add a sprig of basil. Enjoy, guilt free!

 Attached Thumbnails:

Tags:  fiber  healthy  nutrition  recipe  soup  tomato  tomato soup  vegan  vegetables 

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Cutting Out the Sugar

Posted By Carol Hunter, Monday, December 7, 2015

When I was growing up, there was no better lunch than a grilled cheese sandwich coupled with a bowl of Campbell’s Tomato Soup. Today, that meal continues to provide much comfort for me. Although, now the cheese is processed from cashew nuts and the soup is homemade. For the moment, back to tomatoes, as there was such a bumper crop this summer. I am busy preparing various tomato dishes. My recipe this month is so simple, I am almost embarrassed to offer it, but it’s too delicious and nutritious to neglect: my homemade tomato soup, minus the sugar.

What I have begun to realize is that just about all prepared foods, even the ones made with organic ingredients, contain “organic cane sugar.” That might sound good, but it’s not. We are deluged with too much sugar in our diets today. Maybe Americans are so programmed to the taste of sugar, we have trouble getting along without it. Unfortunately, the taste for it begins in childhood with the cereals and many other products containing sugar. As early as I can remember, those around me were pouring sugar on grapefruit, cereal, oatmeal, and other foods. I think there is a place for sugar, let’s say, in a piece of chocolate or some type of dessert, but do we need it in breakfast foods, lunch meats, and dinner entrees?

A realization I had when I first started drinking almond and coconut milk was that it was too sweet. First, I bought the Silk Almond Milk Light which provides 40 calories per serving. When I tasted it, I could tell immediately that it contained sugar. Then, I noticed that the original Unsweetened Silk Almond Milk contains 30 calories per serving with no sugar.  Now if you are a consumer, you might just think, as I had, that the Light version would be healthier than the original. Not! In addition, I had bought Raw Meal by Garden of Life along with Raw Protein by Garden of Life in chocolate (my fav) and was planning to whip up my liquid breakfast with some Silk Almond Chocolate Milk at 100 calories per serving. Yes, it contains cane sugar ( 17 grams/serving), but for meal substitution, perhaps that’s not too worrisome. My argument is not one of calories although that matters down the road. My point is about taste and how we Americans are programmed from an early age to love sugar.

When you’ve been literally blasted by sugar your entire life, what happens when you try to eliminate it from your diet? Nothing earth shaking if you are getting enough fiber, thank goodness. The worst of it is that you miss that sugary taste and that might be what drives you back to your old habits. Yes, at first, the taste seems bland or even unpalatable.  But if you persist, you will soon find yourself preferring the non-sugar version! Keep at it, and keep away from the inside grocery aisles, because the majority of   prepared food contains sugar.

Even frozen organic foods contain sugar. I had some Amy’s frozen dinners, because there are days when work leaves me depleted, and I simply need some sustenance without cooking it myself. I really like Amy’s vegetarian products, so I bought the Thai Red Curry frozen dinner. It would have been wonderful if not for one thing: it was sugary and sweet. When I am eating my entree, I don’t want it to taste sweet.

When we indict individuals about their weight gain, diabetes, and unhealthy lifestyles, we had better examine the food manufacturing in our country. Not many live on a farm anymore and are able to grow their own fresh fruits and vegetables. We depend on large manufacturers to give us the nutrition we need. Sugar is a common ingredient, and unless we protest, it will not change.  We do not need to be consuming the current amounts of sugar that are routine ingredients in most, but not all, packaged foods.  My disclaimer is that I do not mean to pick on Silk and Amy brands. They simply serve as examples of many other health oriented products. I will continue to buy them myself, and especially like the Silk Original Unsweetened Almond Milk and Amy’s soups and chili.

Last month, I talked about making the switch from the omnivore to the herbivore diet. Here are my conclusions, at least at this time. I have made many changes. I had stopped eating meat, cheese, dairy, and other meat based foods, such as eggs, for a period of several weeks when I had an intense craving for meat. Since it was my birthday, I had a rib eye steak on the grill and it was great. Since then, I have not had any meat and don’t miss it, but I know down the road, I will.  Here is how I envision the dietary habits of our cavepeople, which teach us the following: most of the diet was plant based—greens, nuts, berries. What drove those people to hunt? Was it a basic biological drive to avert anemia? Killing an animal for food was not foolproof, and my guess is it did not happen often. So my educated guess is that prehistoric man was an omnivore, primarily eating plant based foods but eating animals on a sporadic basis. Why would I think that? We do have canine like incisors, designed to tear flesh. So a healthy diet always seems to come back to common sense. The mainstay should be plant based interspaced by an occasional meat based treat, like a small bite of real cheddar cheese!

 Attached Thumbnails:

Tags:  diabetes  foods  nutrition  organic  soup  sugar  tomatoes 

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Recognizing the Legitimacy of the Non-Mainstream

Posted By Thomas E. Levy, MD, JD, Thursday, November 19, 2015

To my friends and colleagues,

Attached is a rebuttal argument I put together to help a physician in responding to an action taken against him by his state medical board. After an hour or so meeting with the board, no fault was found with his therapy for the patient in question, nor with the use of vitamin C and glutathione in that patient's treatment. In accordance with this finding, no fines were levied, and no restriction was placed on his license. Some additional CME (continuing medical education) was about the only tangible recommendation that resulted.

It should be noted that this physician not only rendered excellent medical care, he had never had an action initiated against him in roughly 40 years. Furthermore, he put together a massive and, I believe, excellent written scientific defense of his course of medical care for this patient. Nevertheless, the last communication before the hearing took place seemed to focus on the vitamin C and glutathione aspect of the patient's care, as the board expert continued to press with his or her lack of awareness of "any significant uses for vitamin C and glutathione in the treatment of sepsis." 

While it is doubtful it will ever be known exactly what the board's reasoning was, it would appear that some truly objective scientific minds were part (or all?) of the committee ruling on this case. While I will not mention what state board this was, I will say that this was one state that has historically been absolutely brutal in dealing with any physicians who did not tow the mainstream party line. Maybe the hard-liners are finally disappearing, who knows. 

So, are the times a-changing? This is only one case, but it tells me that the mainstream is finally beginning to recognize the legitimacy of the non-mainstream (aka alternative, complementary, integrative). Progress by microincrementalism goes slow, but it does proceed. 

Feel free to use the reasonings and concepts in this letter for any similar cases in the future that you might encounter.
READ COMPLETE REBUTTAL

 

Best regards,

Thomas E. Levy, MD, JD

Tags:  glutathione  patient treatment  SME  vitamin c 

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Take a Closer Look at ITI 2016 Conference - Special ACAM member rate

Posted By Administration, Thursday, November 19, 2015
Integrative Therapies Institute will be holding its 5th Annual Integrative Medicine Conference at the beautiful Irvine Hotel, Irvine, Orange County, California, January 22nd-24th, 2016.

Following nationwide conferences during 2015, that covered genomics, autoimmunity, chronic infectious diseases, and other modalities, ITI's Curriculum Director, Paul Anderson, N.M.D., has picked many clinical experts to join the 5th Annual Conference in late January, 2016.

They will deliver evidence based data, trends, analysis, case studies, protocols, to a level that you can return to your clinics on a Monday, far better equipped in treating your patients. The conference will be covering the following topics:
• Inflammation Management Genomics in the 21st Century
• Chronic Infectious Diseases Autoimmune Diseases
• Orthopedic Case Management Immune and Autoimmune Conditions
• Neuropsychiatric Therapies Chronic Illnesses

For the complete agenda, click here: http://www.iti2016.com/images/Forms/agenda-3-day.pdf

All ACAM Members will be offered 20% off the 3-day event. Regular price is $575. To book your space, please go to the event website at www.iti2016.com or call 954 540 1896 and ask for Sharon Phillips.

Tags:  Autoimmune Diseases  Chronic Illnesses  Chronic Infectious Diseases  Genomics in the 21st Century  Inflammation Management  Neuropsychiatric Therapies  Orthopedic Case ManagemenImmune and Autoimmune Con 

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A Constant Stream of Expensive Drugs

Posted By submitted by Helen Saul Case, Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, Wednesday, November 18, 2015
(OMNS, Nov 16, 2015) It would be novel indeed to see a news media report entitled "Life- Saving Vitamins." That's a headline about vitamins that would be true for once.

Instead, I see folks on TV speaking about those drugs they so desperately "need" while they plead with drug companies to just make them more affordable. "It's tough when it comes to medical stuff costing so much because you can't say no to medication," says one patient who seeks an expensive drug to help lower his high cholesterol [1].

"[It's] a kind of blackmail: if you want drug companies to keep turning out life-saving drugs, you will gratefully pay whatever they charge." - Marcia Angell, MD

Take comfort, consumer. NBC is on it. On Wednesday, November 4th, 2015, they presented a news bit ominously entitled "Your Money or Your Life." NBC asked Leonard Schleifer, MD, CEO of Regeneron: "Why do the same medications cost so much more here than in other countries?"

After all, NBC pointed out that drugs cost twice as much in the United States then they do in Canada, the United Kingdom, or Australia. And they noted that Regeneron's new drug Praluent is particularly costly.

Dr. Schleifer justified the price tag on his company's expensive new drug because of the high cost of the product's development. "Do we want cheap drugs now, and no drugs in the future?" he asks. "Or more expensive drugs now, and a constant stream of drugs?" [2]

Ah, yes.

This pharmaceutical CEO would have us enjoy an endless stream of expensive drugs. Of course he would. For many people who take cholesterol-lowering drugs every day, a constant supply is exactly what they end up paying for.

The drug marketing machine
The pharmaceutical industry is "primarily a marketing machine to sell drugs of dubious benefit," says Marcia Angell, MD, a senior lecturer at Harvard Medical School and former editor in chief of the New England Journal of Medicine [3]. In her book bestselling book, The Truth About the Drug Companies [4], she says that the supposedly high cost of research and development has very little to do with how high they price their products. Basically, drug companies charge what they think they can get. And while you will hear it claimed otherwise, far more is spent on marketing than on research and development. She even points out that "news" about drugs is just another way to promote drugs. "Contrary to the industry's public relations," says Dr. Angell, "you don't get what you pay for."

"New drug" does not automatically mean "improved," "better," or "safe." It means that at least in a couple of trials, it beat a placebo. "Clearly drug companies are more concerned with profits than with patients," says Andrew W. Saul, PhD. [5]

Get out your checkbook
Praluent costs $40 a day [6]. That's $14,600 a year. NBC reported that this is significantly more costly than it should be. They referred to a watchdog study that suggested a more reasonable price would be $2,200 to $7,700 a year, or just $6 to $21 a day. Golly, thanks so much, NBC! That's much more reasonable.

Believe it or not, there is an even cheaper, more effective option to reduce "bad" LDL cholesterol, and we've known about it for over 60 years [7].

Niacin is better than any cholesterol drug
Back in the 1950s, William Parsons, MD, and colleagues reported that niacin lowers bad cholesterol, increases good cholesterol, and lowers triglycerides, among other benefits, such as living longer [8]. Abram Hoffer, MD, who pioneered the use of niacin to cure schizophrenia, says Dr. Parsons provides the evidence that niacin is the "only practical, effective, safe, and cost effective method for restoring lipid levels to normal." [9]

"Niacin should probably be the first-line medication for people who want to lower their cholesterol levels," say Drs. Hilary Roberts and Steve Hickey, authors of The Vitamin Cure for Heart Disease. Additionally, the health advantages of niacin extend well beyond its ability to reduce cholesterol. "[N]iacin inhibits inflammation and protects the delicate linings of the arteries," say Dr. Roberts and Dr. Hickey, and "helps maintain the arterial wall and prevents atherosclerosis" [10].

"A vitamin can act as a drug, but a drug can never act as a vitamin." - Andrew W. Saul, PhD

The dose is the key. "[T]he data on patients with problem cholesterol/LDL levels still support 3,000-5,000 milligrams of immediate-release niacin as the best clinically-proven approach to maintaining a healthy lipid profile," says researcher professor and niacin expert W. Todd Penberthy, PhD. And, despite what you may have heard, niacin is "far safer than the safest drug." [11]

And niacin is cheaper, too

The cost of a bottle of regular, flush niacin comes in under eight bucks. Taking six to ten 500 mg niacin tablets per day ($0.03 a tablet) would cost $0.19 to $0.30. The yearly investment to take the best cholesterol lowering substance out there, would be $70 to $110. That's 20 to 100 times cheaper than statins. That's up to 200 times cheaper than Praluent. And niacin is safer then all of them.

"We've all been carefully taught that drugs cure illness, not vitamins," says Dr. Saul. "The system is remarkably well-entrenched." [5] Instead of being hailed as the safe, effective, affordable, life-saving vitamin it is, niacin is bashed in the media, and dangerous drugs are practically revered: Is the only fault we can find with them is that they cost too much?

We can do better. We can say no to medication. We can do something about high cholesterol, and it doesn't have to cost a pile. We don't have to buy into or believe what we see on TV. And until a headline reads "Life-Saving Vitamins," I sure won't.

(Helen Saul Case is the author of The Vitamin Cure for Women's Health Problems and Vitamins & Pregnancy: The Real Story. She is also coauthor of Vegetable Juicing for Everyone.)

______________________________________________________________________________________________

The FDA continues its war on the compounding of custom medications by eliminating even more dietary ingredients. Action Alert!
______________________________________________________________________________________________

References:
1. NBC News. "Regeneron CEO Explains the High Cost of Cholesterol Drug Praluent." http://www.nbcnews.com/video/regeneron-ceo-explains-the-high-cost-of-cholesterol-drug-praluent-559474243915
2. Ibid.
3. Angell, M. The Truth About the Drug Companies. New York: Random House, Inc. 2004.
4. Review at http://orthomolecular.org/library/jom/2005/pdf/2005-v20n02-p120.pdf
5. Saul, A. W. "Rigged Trials: Drug Studies Favor The Manufacturer." Orthomolecular Medicine News Service (Nov 5, 2008). http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v04n20.shtml
6. "New Cholesterol Lowering Drug Praluent far more expensive than statins." http://www.cbsnews.com/news/praluent-cholesterol-lowering-drug-high-cost-statin-alternative/
7. Hoffer. A. "Niacin, Coronary Disease and Longevity." http://www.doctoryourself.com/hoffer_cardio.html
8. Parsons, W. B. Cholesterol Control Without Diet! Lilac Press. 2000.
9. Hoffer, A., A. W. Saul, and H. Foster. Niacin: The Real Story. Laguna Beach, CA: Basic Health Publications, Inc. 2012.
10. Roberts, H., and S. Hickey. The Vitamin Cure for Heart Disease. Laguna Beach, CA: Basic Health Publications, Inc. 2011.
11. Penberthy, W. T. "Laropiprant is the Bad One; Niacin is/was/will always be the Good One." Orthomolecular Medicine News Service (July 25, 2014). http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v10n12.shtml

To learn more:
Introduction of Niacin as the First Successful Treatment for Cholesterol Control, A Reminiscence by William B. Parsons, Jr., M.D., FACP http://www.orthomolecular.org/library/jom/2000/articles/2000-v15n03-p121.shtml
Niacin is the Safest and Most Effective Way to Control Cholesterol: (But You'd Never Know it from the Media). http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v09n07.shtml
Niacin Beats Statins: Supplements and Diet are Safer, More Effective. http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v09n25.shtml
Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs For Eight-Year-Old Kids? American Academy of Pediatrics Urging "McMedicine." http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v04n08.shtml
Niacin (Vitamin B3) Lowers High Cholesterol Safely. http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v01n10.shtml
No Deaths from Vitamins. Absolutely None. 31 Years of Supplement Safety Once Again Confirmed by America's Largest Database. http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v11n01.shtml

Nutritional Medicine is Orthomolecular Medicine
Orthomolecular medicine uses safe, effective nutritional therapy to fight illness. For more information: http://www.orthomolecular.org

OMNS free subscription link http://orthomolecular.org/subscribe.html
OMNS archive link http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/index.shtml


Find a Doctor
To locate an orthomolecular physician near you: http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v06n09.shtml
The peer-reviewed Orthomolecular Medicine News Service is a non-profit and non-commercial informational resource.

Tags:  Andrew W. Saul  drug companies  Leonard Schleifer  Marcia Angell  OMNS  orthomolecular  Praluent  Regeneron  vitamins 

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New Integrative Addiction Treatment Center “Addiction Center for Healing” Opens in Irvine, California

Posted By Administration, Friday, October 30, 2015

IRVINE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Center for New Medicine announces the opening of their new integrative addiction treatment center “Addiction Center for Healing” in Irvine, CA. “I am extremely proud to launch Addiction Center for Healing,” said Leigh Erin Connealy, MD, Medical Director of Center for New Medicine. “Our practice has been growing and thriving for over 29 years and we continue to offer quality care and integrative treatment options to our growing patient base. As we grow, our focus remains clear: to provide consistent and comprehensive medical care for all of our patients.”

Addiction Center for Healing tailors time-effective medical, psychological, and relational treatment methods to quickly bring life balance to the addicted client. This new paradigm treats and balances the 'whole person' and the person's family. A comprehensive medical-psychological evaluation provides the blueprint for a specific, and individualized multi-modal treatment plan. The treatment methods are unique; this is not a 'one size fits all' approach. Each client experiences a treatment program that is absolutely one-of-a-kind!

What sets us apart from the other recovery programs?:

  • Natural Detoxification & Integrative Health Methods: Medical Consults, Full Medical Workup, Neurotransmitter Balancing, Hormone Balancing, Blood/Ozone Cleansing, IV Amino Acid Replacement, Nanovated Hydrotherapy Oxygen Bath, Infrared Sauna, Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT), Anxiety Abatement Patch, Nutritional Consults, Genetic Testing for Medication Maximization, Acupuncture, Individualized Medication Compounding, Vitamin & Herbal Remedies...etc.
  • Psychological Treatment Methods: Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT); Gorski Relapse Prevention Model; Solution Centered Individual, Family, and Group Therapy; Mindfulness Relaxation; Biosound Brain Wave Control; Alpha-Stim Mood Management; Yoga; Hypnosis; 12 Step & Social Model Integration; People Skills Training; Biofeedback...etc.

“The partnership with Center for New Medicine strengthens our mission to provide state-of-the-art comprehensive care to patients suffering from addiction,” said Neil Sommer, Clinical Director of Addiction Center for Healing. “Our centralized medical suite and treatment facility offers patients a one-stop resource for continuous, on-site care. This expansion brings the best of both worlds to patients who have come to rely on our reputation as a world-class integrative addiction treatment facility.”

At Addiction Center for Healing, we recognize the strength that is required to make this life change, and we are here to lend ours. Call (949) 215-6955 or visit www.addictioncenterforhealing.com to learn more.

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Advances in Neurotransmitter Testing: The Intermediaries of the Neuro-biogenic Amines

Posted By Article provided by Doctor's Data, Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Urinary neurotransmitter analysis provides a non-invasive means of assessing a patient’s ability to synthesize and metabolize neurotransmitters, and may be used to evaluate patient responses to supportive nutritional therapies (Marc 2011). Central and peripheral nervous system functions are dependent upon normal synaptic transmission, mediated by neurotransmitters including the biogenic amines (catecholamines dopamine, norepinephrine, epinephrine; serotonin; histamine) (Eisenhofer 2004, Rothman et al. 2012). The incorporation of metabolic intermediaries such as 3-methoxyyramine (3-MT), 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid (DOPAC), normetanephrine, metanephrine and 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA), into the Comprehensive Neuro-biogenic Amines Profile may provide clinicians with the means to evaluate the function of monoamine oxidase (MAO) A and B, catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT), and aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH). These enzymes are essential not only in the catabolism of neurotransmitters, but the detoxification of exogenous estrogens, pharmaceuticals and environmental amines. Targeted nutritional support may optimize enzyme function and support patient health. Given the recent advances in the understanding of nutritional biochemistry, inheritance, epigenetics, and environmental toxicology, as well as improved sensitivity and specificity in the analysis of urinary neurotransmitter levels (Li 2014) and their intermediaries, it may be time to reconsider the clinical utility of urinary neurotransmitters in functional medicine. The evaluation of only the end products of neurotransmitter metabolism, homovanillic acid (HVA) and vanillylmandelic acid (VMA), may not provide a complete picture of enzyme function for the clinician.

Urinary levels of neurotransmitters primarily reflect the activity of the peripheral and GIT enteric nervous systems.  The majority of the neurotransmitters excreted in the urine reflect peripheral metabolism (Eisenhoffer 2004).  However, with the exception of tryptophan-5-hydroxylase, the enzymatic machinery for neurotransmitter synthesis and metabolism is often similar (if not identical) on both sides of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) (Cansev 2007).  Part of the metabolism of catecholamines takes place in the same cells where the amines are produced.  Different enzymes may be used and different metabolites are generated if a neurotransmitter is processed within a neuron (MAO, ALDH), or outside of it (COMT).  This occurs because catecholamines are constantly leaking out of vesicles and into the cytoplasm.  Circulating neurotransmitters may also be metabolized in the liver or kidney.  The metabolism of precursors or neurotransmitters results in intermediary metabolites.  The metabolites may or may not be biologically active, and may provide important functional clues about catabolic transformation reactions. 

 

Enzyme function may be affected by inheritance, nutritional status or environmental exposures.  Mutations or single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) may alter enzyme function and affect the metabolism of neurotransmitters. Dietary deficiency or gastrointestinal malabsorption may affect the availability of required nutrient cofactors.  Toxic exposures may inhibit enzymatic functions and increase oxidative stress, resulting in altered neurological function and metabolism.  The catabolic enzymes for neurotransmitters may be affected by any or all of these factors.

 

There are two forms of monoamine oxidase (MAO). Monoamine oxidase A (MAO-A) activity is necessary for intraneuronal neurotransmitter metabolism.  It oxidizes the catecholamine neuro-biogenic amines dopamine, norepinephrine and tryptophan to an aldehyde intermediary.  MAO-A also oxidizes dietary and environmental amines (dyes, pigments, insecticides and polymers).  Dopamine is primarily oxidized by MAO-B.  The degradation of dopamine creates reactive oxygen species, and increased MAO-B activity has been associated with aging and Parkinson’s disease.  Animal studies indicate that MAO activity may up-regulated with stress.  MAO is inherited with the X chromosome; males have one copy and females have two copies of the genetic code for MAO.  MAO-A and MAO-B are coded by two separate genes.  Inherited variations in MAO activity may affect neurotransmitters or neurochemistry.  In addition to medications designed to inhibit MAO activity (MAOIs), MAO may be inhibited by cigarette smoke, and toxic elements such as cadmium, lead and mercury.  Dopamine, if not converted into norepinephrine is degraded by intraneuronal MAO and extraneuronal COMT.  MAO-A converts dopamine to 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid (DOPAC).  COMT uses SAMe and magnesium to degrade dopamine into 3-methoxytyramine (3MT).  MAOA and COMT further convert the intermediary metabolites to homovanilic acid (HVA).  There is no way to tell, by the level of HVA, if one or both degradation enzymes are deficient.  Differences in the levels of DOPAC and 3MT may easily distinguish which degradation enzyme, MAO or COMT, is not functioning optimally.

 

Oxidative deamination by MAO produces hydrogen peroxide and a reactive aldehyde, which may increase oxidative stress and put excessive demand on the cell’s glutathione pool. Aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) converts aldehydes to fatty acids.  Aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) activity contributes to a variety of vital biochemical reactions in the body.  Mutations or single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) may occur in the dehydrogenase or reductase enzymes, and may affect enzyme function.  Environmental aldehydes that must be processed by aldehyde dehydrogenases include cigarette smoke, formaldehyde, polyurethane, polyester plastics, and many medications.  Aldehyde excess due to enzymatic insufficiency may be associated with symptoms of dizziness, nausea, rapid heartbeat (tachycardia) and “alcohol flush”.  ALDH is part of the metabolic pathway for dopamine and serotonin.  The dopamine intermediaries may elevate and have neurotoxic effects (increased oxidative stress) if ALDH or MAO-B activity is compromised. Serotonin may elevate and the serotonin metabolite 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA) may decrease, if either MAO-A or ALDH activities are insufficient.  Comparison of serotonin and 5-HIAA levels against dopamine, DOPAC and 3MT levels may distinguish insufficiencies in the activities of MAO-A, MAO-B or ALDH.

 

Catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) activity is necessary for extra-neuronal neurotransmitter metabolism.  COMT methylates both catecholamines and catecholamine metabolites oxidized by MAO.  COMT is not found in sympathetic nerves, but is abundant outside the neuron in other cells and tissues.  High levels of COMT are found in the liver, kidneys; COMT is also present in red blood cells and in adrenomedullary chromaffin cells. Inherited or acquired factors may affect enzymatic activity. Various mutations and SNPs in the genes coding for COMT have been associated with some types of mood disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder and schizophrenia.  COMT requires magnesium and S-adenosyl methionine (SAM) cofactors.  Low levels of the metabolites metanephrine and normetanephrine, and (perhaps) elevated levels of epinephrine and norepinephrine, may occur if catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) function is insufficient.  The conversion of norepinephrine and epinephrine to their metabolites had been considered a major pathway leading to VMA, but it is now known that this is a minor pathway.  Most VMA (94%) is formed from the transient aldehyde metabolite 3-methoxy-4-hydroxyphenylglycolaldehyde (MOPEGAL) in the liver.

 

Only 10-20% of urinary neurotransmitters and their intermediaries may originate in the central nervous system.  However, while the majority of the urinary neurotransmitters and metabolites in urine originate in the peripheral nervous system, normalizing urinary neurotransmitter levels based on laboratory analysis has been shown to result in the improvement of some mood and behavior symptoms (Marc 2010).  The evaluation of peripheral neurotransmitters and intermediaries may also assist in the evaluation of physiological conditions such as cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, thyroid or parathyroid disease, adrenal disorders or hormone imbalances, as all of these conditions may alter mental status or contribute to metabolic encephalopathy.

 

In 2011, an article in The Lancet (Kurian, 2011) stated “The monoamine neurotransmitter disorders consist of a rapidly expanding heterogeneous group of neurological syndromes characterized by primary and secondary defects in the biosynthesis degradation, or transport of dopamine, norepinephrine, epinephrine, and serotonin”.  The article also noted that “many neurotransmitter disorders mimic other neurological disorders, and may be misdiagnosed”.  The article recommended the analysis of neurotransmitters in cerebrospinal fluid for accurate clinical diagnosis.  However, the collection of cerebrospinal fluid for the assessment of urinary neurotransmitters and metabolites is expensive, uncomfortable and simply not practical in most cases.  Urinary neurotransmitters are easily collected by patients and the results may be readily integrated into routine practice.  Urinary neurotransmitters are stable during collection and transportation (other methods of evaluating neurotransmitters, such as platelets, may not be as stable), and urinary neurotransmitter intermediaries may best reflect enzyme functions. 

 

The proper collection and handling of urine specimens prior to laboratory receipt is necessary for accurate results.  As the purpose of urinary neurotransmitter testing is to evaluate clinically significant elevations or deficiencies in neurotransmitter status, either true first morning void (i.e., after being in bed without arising x 8 hours) or 24-hour urine neurotransmitters and intermediaries may be most clinically relevant.  The ingestion of certain foods may affect the results of urinary neurotransmitter testing, and the avoidance of specific foods is recommended, as certain foods may affect serotonin and other neurotransmitter levels.  Any medication that is meant to affect neurotransmitters (such as reuptake inhibitors, etc.) may alter neurotransmitter or intermediary levels from baseline levels; it is the clinical decision of the prescribing physician whether or not to discontinue (by safely tapering off), any such medications prior to testing.

 

Alterations in urinary neurotransmitter status may be associated with a variety of conditions including metabolic disorders, mood/behavioral disorders, environmental exposures, or (rarely) the presence of certain tumors.  Analysis of both neurotransmitters and their intermediaries may provide the clinician with greater clarity about patient health, functional status, and nutritional needs. 


References:

Abdelouahab, Nadia;  Huel, Guy;  Suvorov, Alexander;  Foliguet, Bernard;  Goua, Valérie et al. (2010)
Monoamine oxidase activity in placenta in relation to manganese, cadmium, lead, and mercury at delivery
Neurotoxicology and Teratology vol. 32 (2) p. 256-261

Audhya, Tapan;  Adams, James B.;  Johansen, Leah
Correlation of serotonin levels in CSF, platelets, plasma, and urine
Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - General Subjects. (2012) vol. 1820 (10) p. 1496-1501

Doorn, JA; Florang, VR; Schamp, JH; Vanle, BC. (2014)
Aldehyde dehydrogenase inhibition generates a reactive dopamine metabolite autotoxic to dopamine neurons
Parkinsonism & related disorders vol. 20 (0 1) p. S73-S73-5

Eisenhofer, Graeme;  Kopin, Irwin J.;  Goldstein, David S. (2004)
Catecholamine Metabolism: A Contemporary View with Implications for Physiology and Medicine
Pharmacol. Rev. vol. 56 (3) p. 331-349

Fowler, Joanna S.;  Logan, Jean;  Wang, Gene-Jack;  Volkow, Nora D.;  Telang, Frank et al. (2005)
Comparison of Monoamine Oxidase A in Peripheral Organs in Nonsmokers and Smokers
J. Nucl. Med. vol. 46 (9) p. 1414-1420

Kunze, Klaus (2002)
Metabolic encephalopathies.
Journal of neurology vol. 249 (9) p. 1150-9

Kurian, Manju A;  Gissen, Paul;  Smith, Martin;  Heales, Simon JR;  Clayton, Peter T (2011)
The monoamine neurotransmitter disorders: an expanding range of neurological syndromes
The Lancet Neurology vol. 10 (8) p. 721-733

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research
Catecholamine Fractionation, Free, 24 Hour, Urine
5-Hydroxyindoleacetic Acid (5-HIAA), 24 Hour, Urine
http://www.mayomedicallaboratories.com/index.html 
Accessed 15 June 2015

Meiser, Johannes;  Weindl, Daniel;  Hiller, Karsten (2013)
Complexity of dopamine metabolism.
Cell communication and signaling : CCS vol. 11 (1) p. 34

Stover, Patrick J
Influence of human genetic variation on nutritional requirements.
Am J Clin Nutr. (2006) vol. 83 (2) p. 436S-442

Tsunoda, Makoto
Recent advances in methods for the analysis of catecholamines and their metabolites.
Analytical and bioanalytical chemistry. (2006) vol. 386 (3) p. 506-14

Witte, A Veronica;  Flöel, Agnes (2012)
Effects of COMT polymorphisms on brain function and behavior in health and disease.
Brain research bulletin vol. 88 (5) p. 418-28

 

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RECIPE: Blue Corn Enchiladas

Posted By Carol L Hunter, PhD, PMHCNS, CNP, Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Beans are a mainstay of any vegetarian diet. Here is the recipe for Blue Corn Enchiladas:

INGREDIENTS:
One 12 pack stone ground blue corn tortillas. (www.buenofoods.com)

Two 15 ounce cans of organic pinto and/or black beans.
Flame Roasted green chile 40 oz bottle (you will use about half). (www505chile.com)

Red chile sauce made from red chile powder. 3 oz bag. Follow directions on bag (
www.northoftheborder.net).
One large chopped onion

Cumin
Daiyan cheddar cheese slices or other cheese as desired

One small tomato; lettuce

In a hot skillet or griddle, heat each tortilla on both sides until crisp and set aside. Line a large baking pan with an olive oil spray and line the pan with the tortillas.Pour organic pinto and/or black beans, chopped onions, and cumin over the tortillas. Pour half the pan with green chile and half the pan with red chile (Christmas!) Place (vegan) cheese slices over the top and bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes.Garnish the enchiladas with chopped lettuce, tomatoes, and raw onions if desired. Avocados or guacamole are also a delicious addition.

Bon appetit!

Tags:  Carol Hunter  recipe 

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RECIPE: Hummus

Posted By Carol L Hunter, PhD, PMHCNS, CNP, Tuesday, October 6, 2015

INGREDIENTS:

Two 15 ox cans organic garbanzo beans

3 cloves garlic
Juice of one half lemon
2 tablespoons Tamari

½ cup chopped parsley
2 tablespoons olive oil

One half cup tahini or sesame butter
Sea salt and cumin spice to taste.

In a food processor, mix the olive oil, lemon juice and tamari together for a minute or two until mixed well. Add in the parsley, garlic, garbanzo beans, cumin, salt and mix well until pureed. Then drop small spoonfuls of tahini into the top of the processor and mix well before adding the next. The processor should not be straining, but if it is, add a small amount of water. Taste and season as desired with a splash more lemon or tamari. The hummus should be light tan colored with a smooth and creamy consistency. Hummus can be refrigerated up to a week, so keeping it in a tightly closed container makes it easy to reach for when it is snack time or as a side for a salad at lunch. Sprinkle with paprika. It is delicious with chips, crackers and bread or as a filling for celery.

Bon Appetit!

Tags:  Carol Hunter  hummus  recipe 

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Making the Switch

Posted By Carol L Hunter, PhD, PMHCNS, CNP, Tuesday, October 6, 2015
If anyone would have ever told me that I would become a vegan, I would have laughed until my sides ached. You see, I am just one of those people who need mainly protein to feel well. Back in my running and competing days when a banana and a bagel were the breakfast prescription before a race, I just couldn’t go along with the recommendations. In my training runs I became aware that if I did not eat protein, meaning an egg or high protein shake, I would become uncomfortably shaky to the point that I felt weak.

In keeping with life’s oftentimes random but meaningful events, my whole life spun around last weekend when I was innocently talking to my neighbor as we irrigated our properties. He had lost 19 pounds in 6 weeks and when I asked how he had done that, he told me he had become a vegan after reading The China Study. My first reaction was hope because I could lose a few pounds. I have never been overweight but fat distribution changes for a woman after menopause and I was no exception despite my love of working out and being active. I joked about it telling others my body was preparing itself to roll when I started falling. But falling is not funny at all and a serious issue for the elderly.

And so I started reading The China Study and I am quite simply, stunned by what I have read. Having earned a doctorate, I consider myself to have the scientist mentality and I want scientific explanations with a preponderance of evidence in order to make a significant change in my life. The results of The China Study are anything but inconclusive. It is a seminal study on the difference between a plant based and a meat based diet in terms of health and risk for chronic disease. Not only does it address the specifics of the research design but it also addresses many individual diseases. However, it does not stop there and goes on to address the immense, mind blowing corruption in our great country in regard to nutrition and who is holding which reins on which national committee. Dr. Campbell challenged much of what I have believed over the last 30 or more years in terms of nutrition and I am ready to listen.

People become vegetarians or vegans for many different reasons. I want to lose weight and I want to avoid the “C” diagnosis. I am encouraging those of you who wonder about this to read the book and at least try out the diet for a period of time. It can only help to improve your health. When I make a decision, I want to immediately move forward on it and I was eager to start on my new diet. But alas, my refrigerator and freezer were filled with animal based products! What was I going to do with all that food? So I realized that this change in diet was going to be a transition which actually made sense and gave me a sigh of relief. After all, I love cheese even more than meat and giving that up will be the greatest test of all. Realizing that some transitory time was necessary, I started thinking about the practical aspects of it in my mind. The study results showed that a protein diet of 5% was noncontributory to negative health events, so I realized I could eat a bit of protein each day while incorporating some new approaches. If you go on Amazon you will find many cookbooks along with the original China Study. I didn’t order any cookbooks because I needed to read about the study results first. But I am thinking about an entirely new way of eating and like Dr. Campbell’s friend stated in his book, I am wondering “What am I going to eat?”

OK, so no dairy, no meat, no fish, no eggs; that is a lot to give up! But then I think how much I love vegetables and whole grains. Can I really make this work? Most of the animal products are now gone and I have even tested out some vegan cheese. Daiya brand is lactose, casein, gluten, soy and cholesterol free. The cheddar style slices melt well and taste is pretty good. Since I like very sharp cheddar cheese, it has been more of an adjustment for me. Another brand is Treeline, a soft creamy cheese that is made with scallions and finely ground cashew nuts and is delicious. A third product is called “Follow your Heart” by Earth Island and is made from potato starch. I found these products at my local grocery cooperative. Some other ideas for snacks are organic Kalamata olives, mixed organic nuts, raw or roasted, celery with almond butter filling and whole wheat crackers or bread with hummus spread. Dr. Campbell does not encourage calorie counting!

I thought the best place to start was to figure out some foundational recipes I could eat routinely that would be easy to prepare, so I chose hummus and blue corn enchiladas. It would sound like hummus would be very easy to make, but it is tricky how you put the ingredients together. One recipe I came across suggested mixing the lemon juice with the tahini first. When I tried that, it was just too thick and the machine kept shutting itself off. I would have to wait and I had to keep adding water. I recommend the opposite and that is adding the tahini last in small spoonfuls.

Tags:  Carol Hunter  China Study  Dr Campbell  vegan 

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Type 2 Diabetes: A Toxic Epidemic

Posted By Isaac Eliaz, MD, MS, LAc - reprinted with permission, Monday, September 7, 2015
Updated: Friday, September 4, 2015
The epidemic of type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome, which is striking Western nations and the United States in particular, has elicited somewhat of a muted reaction. “Diabesity” may affect as many as 100 million Americans and nearly a billion people around the world, but compare the public health response to previous epidemics—polio for example. It doesn’t come close. Perhaps this is because it’s a silent, insidious epidemic, developing over years with debilitating symptoms that seriously impact a person’s quality of life.

Yes, we have taken some measures, such as urging people at risk to improve their diet and exercise habits. This approach places the emphasis on the lifestyle choices of the individual, but new research, along with the skyrocketing rates of diabetes, suggests that we’re missing some key pieces of the puzzle.

As a nation, we adhere religiously to the notion of calories in and calories out. Eat less, exercise more and everything will be fine. This is not entirely wrong—but it’s clearly an oversimplification. We cannot pretend that metabolism functions in isolation,sequestered from environmental influences
and the delicate balance of our biological systems.

So it’s not a question of following the same strategies—except more vigorously. We need to look beyond the well-worn tropes that have dominated our approach to these conditions. Fortunately, there’s a growing body of research to help us better understand the complex factors behind metabolic
syndrome and type 2 diabetes. Two factors emerging as key culprits: environmental toxins and poor quality sleep.

The Toxic Load
While what we eat, and how much, certainly affect our weight and susceptibility to diabetes and metabolic syndrome, this oversimplified equation ignores the body’s ability to process these calories. Again, there is a growing body of evidence that overexposure to
environmental toxins can impair our intricate metabolic mechanisms.

Numerous studies demonstrate that many of the chemical compounds pervasive today have an adverse impact on metabolism.
• A study published in The Lancet found a correlation between persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in blood and insulin resistance.1
• Another study described the different ways toxins provoke insulin resistance, such as mitochondrial injury, oxidative stress, inflammation and debilitated thyroid metabolism.2
• Research published in JAMA showed BPA, found in plastics, canned foods and even cash register receipts, increases risk of diabetes.3
• Toxins have been shown to interfere with an entire class of nuclear receptors (called PPARs), causing insulin resistance and other harm.4
• Another study found that weight gain and fat storage in rats exposed to chemical toxins was completely independent of calories and exercise.5

There are dozens of studies with similar findings, and they paint a toxic picture: environmental pollutants appear to scramble our metabolic signals, impairing glucose management and weight control mechanisms.Clearly, genes and genetic expression play a role as well, but as so many have suggested, “Genetics loads the gun, environment pulls the trigger.”

While it’s upsetting to see that common chemicals are having such a profound impact on metabolism—and other areas of health—the fact that research is elucidating some of these complex mechanisms means we may be zeroing in on effective therapeutic targets.

Detoxification
Given the quantity of toxins we face in our everyday lives, detoxification plays an important role in maintaining long-term health on a number of levels. The practice of detox is an ancient one, popularized in recent years with a myriad of products, services and wellness retreats aimed at reducing toxic body burden and restoring vitality.

Aside from the hype, as well as the discrediting of detox by much of conventional medicine, there are a number of foods, ingredients and supplements, which are shown to reduce levels of toxins in the body. But it’s important to do it right so as not to overwhelm your system or deplete essential nutrients. I rarely recommend extreme measures such as rapid detox programs, fasting or colonics. Rather, an emphasis on nutrient-dense whole foods and select botanicals and nutrients offers a gentle yet effective route to eliminating toxins from the body over time. Our bodies are designed
with an elaborate system of detoxification mechanism, incorporating many organ systems and biochemical pathways including the skin, lungs, liver and kidneys. The daily intake of dietary phytochemicals found in common foods, herbs, and nutrients provides ongoing support for the optimal functioning of our inherent detox capacities.

Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cabbage, kale and bok choy are well-known detoxifiers, and also help promote healthy hormone metabolism. Other effective detoxifiers include green tea, garlic, milk thistle, dandelion leaf and root, onions and turmeric. One clinical study showed that broccoli sprouts helped the body detoxify a number of airborne pollutants, particularly benzene. A half cup a day enhanced excretion of benzene, acrolein and other toxins.

There are also a variety of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that support detoxification, such as L-methylfolate, zinc, selenium, N-acetyl-cysteine, glutathione and vitamin C. Alginates, derived from kelp, are also effective detoxifiers shown to remove heavy metals, radioactive isotopes and pesticides from the digestive tract. Alginates also support healthy glucose metabolism.

Another clinically proven detoxifier is modified citrus pectin (MCP). Made from the pith of orange peels, MCP has a well deserved reputation for safely binding and removing toxins such as lead, mercury, arsenic and others, while not affecting essential minerals. MCP also binds and blocks galectin-3, an inflammatory protein that’s been linked to cancer, fibrosis, heart disease and other conditions.

Sleep and Metabolism
In addition to overexposure to toxins, there’s another potential culprit in the diabetes and metabolic syndrome epidemic— lack of sleep. Like industrial pollutants, sleep deprivation has become a common feature of modern life. It’s well known that poor sleep can lead to a host of health problems,
including problems with immunity, cellular health, digestion and cognitive well being— including the ability to flush toxins from the brain. Now we can add metabolism to the list.

This is not really news. There have been studies as far back as 1969 showing that sleep deprivation, even for just a few days, decreases insulin sensitivity and increases glucose levels.
• One study found that people who slept only four hours each night for six nights reduced their glucose tolerance by 40 percent,prematurely aging their metabolism. The issue reversed after normal sleep was restored.6
• Another study found similar results even with less severe sleep deprivation—5.5 hours per night over 14 nights.7
• Other studies have shown that loss of sleep contributes to increases in certain growth hormones, associated with increased glucose and cortisol.8-10
• Lack of sleep has also been shown to increase the release of inflammatory cytokines, which can also increase insulin resistance, as well as causing other problems.11

The Sleep Solution
The first step toward fixing sleep deprivation is recognizing the problem. This may mean convincing patients that the competitive advantages they may gain from sleeping less are more than offset by the damage they are
doing to their health.

Routine plays a critical role in good sleep, and also helps balance circadian rhythms, which in turn can benefit metabolic function. It’s best to go to bed at the same time each night and embrace relaxation routines before bedtime. That means avoiding televisions, smart phones and computers at least two hours before bed, as well as other electronic devices that emit blue light since this disrupts melatonin production. Melatonin naturally increases in a dark environment, so make sure your bedroom is free of glowing electronics, and external light sources such as streetlights.

There are many herbs and nutrients that can also support relaxation and good sleep. One extract emerging as a multi-purpose ingredient is honokiol, derived from magnolia bark. Honokiol supports restful sleep and healthy mood, is a powerful antioxidant, and has been shown to support metabolism, cellular function, neurological health and offer other important benefits.

There are a number of other natural ingredients that support sleep, including lemon balm and passionflower extracts and the amino acid L-tryptophan. I also recommend calcium and magnesium. A small amount of supplemental melatonin can also promote relaxation and more restful sleep, and offer powerful protective benefits.

Metabolic Support
In addition to detoxification and better sleep, we can also support healthy metabolism more directly. There are a number of botanicals that help balance glucose, improve insulin function and support overall metabolic function. I recommend gymnema leaf, fenugreek, holy basil, as well as berberine-containing botanicals such as extracts of Indian kino bark and golden thread rhizome. Minerals, such as zinc and chromium, the amino acid taurine, as well as the organosulfur compound alpha lipoic acid, also work to benefit metabolic function.

Like so many other chronic health conditions, metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes are rooted in complex biological interactions requiring precise balance. By taking a comprehensive, holistic approach, we can help our patients address the multiple underlying causes of the diabesity epidemic while improving other key areas of health in the process.

Sources
1 Jones OA, Maguire ML, Griffin n JL. Environmental pollution and diabetes: a neglected association. Lancet. 2008;371(9609):287-288.

2 Hyman M. Systems biology, toxins, obesity, and functional medicine. Altern Ther Health Med. 2007;13(2):S134-S139.

3 Lang IA, Galloway TS, Scarlett A, et al.Association of urinary bisphenol A concentration with medical disorders and laboratory abnormalities in adults. JAMA. 2008;300(11):1303-1310.

4 Griffi n JL, Scott J, Nicholson JK. The influence of pharmacogenetics on fatty liver disease in the wistar and kyoto rats: a combined transcriptomic and metabonomic study. J Proteome Res. 2007;6(1):54-61.

5 Chen JQ, Brown TR, Russo J. Regulation of energy metabolism pathways by estrogens and estrogenic chemicals and potential implications in obesity associated with increased exposure to endocrine disruptors. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2009;1793(7):1128-1143.

6 Spiegel K, Leproult R, Van Cauter E. Impact of sleep debt on metabolic and endocrine function. Lancet 1999; 354:1435–1439.

7 Nedeltcheva AV, Kessler L, Imperial J, Penev PD. Exposure to recurrent sleep restriction in the setting of high caloric intake and physical inactivity results in increased insulin resistance and reduced glucose tolerance. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2009; 94:3242–3250.

8 Spiegel K, Leproult R, Colecchia EF, et al. Adaptation of the 24-h growth hormone profile to a state of sleep debt. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol 2000; 279:R874–R883.

9 Van Cauter E, Polonsky KS, Scheen AJ. Roles of circadian rhythmicity and sleep in human glucose regulation. Endocr Rev 1997; 18:716– 738.

10 Vgontzas AN, Papanicolaou DA, Bixler EO, et al. Circadian interleukin- 6 secretion and quantity and depth of sleep. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 1999; 84:2603–2607.

11 Vgontzas AN, Zoumakis E, Bixler EO, et al. Adverse effects of modest sleep restriction on sleepiness, performance, and inflammatory cytokines. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2004; 89:2119–2126.

Tags:  diabetes  epidemic  Isaac Eliaz  Naturopathic Physicians  toxic  type 2 

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