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16 The vegan athlete Herb-med combos Cold sore relief

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October 2019 vol. 15 no. 10


12 16


the innate intelligence of

medicinal mushrooms Mushrooms boost immunity, fight cancer, and more.

departments 6 From the Editor’s Desk 8 Health Pulse

Edible flowers high in vitamin E • Consistency key to weight loss • Vitamin D needs are not one-size-fits-all • More

11 New Frontiers

A roundup of the latest research on CBD.

12 Supplement Spotlight

Discover the many health benefits of vitamin D3.

15 Everyday Remedies Prevent and treat cold sores.

20 Herbal Healing

Tips for dealing with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

23 Healthy Glow

Soothe dry, itchy skin.

25 Sports Nutrition

A vegan diet can be a good choice for athletes.

28 Healthspan

Take care when combining herbs and other drugs. Cover: Cordyceps

A source for news, information, and ideas for your healthy lifestyle.


@RemediesRecipes October 2019

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from the editor ’s desk

From the crow’s nest We rely heavily on peer-reviewed scientific studies when researching our articles for remedies. I scroll through a lot of such studies, paying close attention to any that deal with nutrition, fitness, or related topics. This headline caught my eye this morning: “Urban living leads to high cholesterol . . . in crows.” The report described how crows in California cities had higher cholesterol levels than those in rural areas. In fact, the “more urban” the neighborhood, the higher the cholesterol. The culprit appears to be greater access to the types of food that are common in the diet of American humans, such as discarded McDonald’s cheeseburgers. To test the theory, researchers treated nestlings in rural New York State to those very burgers for a period of time. Their cholesterol rapidly shot up to urban-California levels. But the study didn’t prove that those readings are negative. The birds remained pretty healthy. “Despite all the bad press that it gets, cholesterol has benefits and serves a lot of essential functions,” said Hamilton College biology professor Andrea Townsend, PhD. “It’s an important part of our cell membranes and a component of some crucial hormones. We know that excessive cholesterol causes disease in humans, but we don’t know what level would be ‘excessive’ in a wild bird.” Still, it’s preferable to stick to seeds and suet if you have a backyard feeder. And maybe limit your own trips to McDonald’s.

Chief Content Officer and Strategist Lynn Tryba Contributing Editor Rich Wallace Assistant Editor Kelli Ann Wilson Art Director Michelle Knapp Graphic Designer Ronna Rajaniemi Custom Graphics Manager Donna Sweeney Business Development Director Amy Pierce Customer Service Cl ient Services Director—Retail Judy Gagne 800-677-8847 x128 Cl ient Services Director—Advertising and Digital Ashley Dunk 800-677-8847 x190 Western Brand Promotions Director Shannon Dunn-Delgado 415-382-1665 Group Brand Promotions Director Bob Mucci 603-831-1868 Executive Director of Retail Sales and Marketing Anna Johnston ( Retail Account Manager Kim Willard Founder and Chief Executive Officer T. James Connell

EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD Jeffrey Blumberg, PhD, FASN, FACN, CNS, professor, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and director, Antioxidants Research Laboratory, Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, Tufts University; Mark Blumenthal, founder and executive director, American Botanical Council, editor/publisher of HerbalGram, senior editor, The ABC Clinical Guide to Herbs; C. Leigh Broadhurst, PhD, research geochemist, author, Natural Asthma Relief and Prevent, Treat, and Reverse Diabetes; Steven Foster, photographer, herbalist, and senior author of three Peterson Field Guides, author of 101 Medicinal Herbs, A Desk Reference to Nature’s Medicine and more, associate editor of HerbalGram, the journal of the American Botanical Council; John Neustadt, ND, founder of Montana Integrated Medicine, coauthor, A Revolution in Health Through Nutritional Biochemistry; Lisa Petty, RHN, RNCP, holistic nutrition consultant, author of Living Beauty and host of the health talk radio show Lisa Live; Dana Ullman, MPH, author of The Homeopathic Revolution: Why Famous People and Cultural Heroes Choose Homeopathy and other titles on homeopathy; Marc Ullman, partner at Ullman, Shapiro & Ullman, chairman, Legal Advisory Counsel, Natural Products Foundation; Amber Lynn Vitse, CN, is certified in Integrative Nutrition, a fusion bodyworker, and an Ayurvedic practitioner, and writes on health issues. remedies is published monthly by Taste for Life, 149 Emerald Street, Suite O, Keene, NH 03431, 603-283-0034 (fax 603-283-0141); ©2019 Connell Communications, Inc. All rights reserved. This magazine is not intended to provide medical advice on personal health conditions, nor to replace recommendations made by health professionals. The opinions expressed by contributors and sources quoted in articles are not necessarily those of the editor or the publisher. Advertisers and advertising agencies assume liability for all content of advertising and for any claims arising therefrom. Information appearing in remedies may not be reproduced in whole or in part without express permission of the publisher.

Creative and Sales Offices: 149 Emerald Street, Suite O, Keene NH 03431 603-283-0034 Printed in the US on partially recycled paper.

Rich Wallace, editor

“Urbanization and elevated cholesterol in American crows” by A.K. Townsend et al., The Condor, 8/26/19 l “Urban living leads to high cholesterol . . . in crows,” American Ornithological Society Publications Office, 8/26/19

The inks used to print the body of this publication contain a minimum of 20%, by weight, renewable resources.

Products advertised or mentioned in this magazine may not be available in all locations. 6  remedies

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vitamin D needs may vary by race Healthcare practitioners recommending vitamin D supplements should be careful not to adhere to a “one-size-fits-all” guideline, according to a new study. The researchers noted that improved tests for determining vitamin D levels are already available. “Recommendations based on earlier studies using a number of different tests for vitamin D levels persist and, not surprisingly, current guidelines vary,” said lead author Sylvia Christakos, PhD, of the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. “For example, it is not clear that the most optimal levels for vitamin D are the same for Caucasians, Blacks, or Asians alike.” Vitamin D’s primary function is to help the body absorb calcium. Deficiency can affect skeletal development in children and may contribute to osteoporosis and increased risk of fracture in adults. For much more on this vitamin, see the Supplement Spotlight on pages 12 and 13 of this issue of remedies. “Optimal vitamin D levels may vary for different ethnic and racial groups,” Rutgers University, 8/14/19

flower power Two colorful flowers may do more than brighten your garden—both have been found to have surprising nutritional profiles. Edible flowers have grown in popularity as garnishes for meals. A new study determined that the petals of the borage (Borago officinalis L.) and centaurea (Centaurea cyanus L.) flowers are relatively high in vitamin E. They have varying amounts of other nutrients, with borage flowers higher in polyunsaturated fatty acids and carotenoids while centaurea is higher in fiber and calories. “Edible flowers can contribute to daily dose of vitamin E . . .” by Adi Menayang, www., 8/14/19 l “Phytochemical characterization of Borago officinalis L. and Centaurea cyanus L. during flower development” by L. Fernandes et al., Food Research International, 9/19

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exercise gives cartilage a boost No surprises here: Exercise is good for you! A new study from London shows that exercise helps to prevent the degradation of cartilage that’s caused by osteoarthritis. During exercise, movement causes the cartilage in joints to be compressed. This mechanical stimulation activates a protein that triggers changes in cellular structures to help reduce inflammation. “We have known for some time that healthy exercise is good for you—now we know the process through which exercise prevents cartilage degradation,” said lead study author Su Fu. “Exercise helps prevent cartilage damage caused by arthritis,” Queen Mary University of London, 3/27/19 l “Mechanical loading inhibits cartilage inflammatory signaling . . .” by S. Fu et al., Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, 3/27/19

consistency counts for weight loss Adults who successfully maintained weight loss tended to exercise at the same time each day. They also engaged in more total exercise per week than those who were inconsistent with their workout schedule. Most participants in the study had a regular time for their workouts, and more than half chose to exercise in the morning. But it was consistency, rather than the time of day, that led to better weight maintenance. “Relationship of consistency in timing of exercise performance and exercise levels among successful weight loss maintainers” by L.M. Schumacher et al., Obesity, 7/3/19 l “Timing of exercise may be key to successful weight loss,”, 7/3/19

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new frontiers

Cannabidiol (CBD) supplements are obtainable in much of the US. A nonpsychoactive compound derived from the cannabis plant, CBD is being studied for its effects on many health conditions. Each state has laws regarding CBD with varying degrees of restriction. Learn about CBD’s status in your state at

what we eat affects CBD absorption Research into cannabidiol (CBD) continues to widen, with new studies delving into its potential effects on the heart, the brain, and other physical systems. One interesting study explored how various foods might alter CBD absorption. University of Minnesota researchers examined how eating high-fat foods or fasting would affect the way the body used oral CBD capsules. Participants took the capsules on an empty stomach or in tandem with a breakfast burrito. The fatty meal “vastly increased” CBD absorption. “The type of food can make a large difference in the amount of CBD that gets absorbed into the body,” said study co-author Angela Birnbaum, PhD. “Although fatty foods can increase the absorption of CBD, it can also increase the variability, as not all meals contain the same amount of fat.” The primary aim of the study was to determine how to regulate absorption of CBD in patients with epilepsy. Recent studies have shown that CBD can be beneficial for people with certain forms of the condition.

Breakthroughs n A new study from Brazil found that CBD reduced aggressive behavior in subjects who tended toward isolated lifestyles. The study was done with mice (who aren’t natural loners), but the rodents are generally considered good stand-ins for humans. n Another Brazilian research project found some therapeutic effects from CBD on non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. n A third Brazilian study concluded that “CBD has negative effects on the reproductive system of males.” Those effects may include a reduction in fertilization rates and testes size. As with all emerging research, significantly more work needs to be done to determine the potential benefits and drawbacks of CBD. But many studies have shown positive effects. We’ll continue to report on the science.

“Biological bases for a possible effect of cannabidiol in Parkinson’s disease” by N.C. Ferreira-Junior et al., Braz J Psychiatry, 7/19 l “Cannabidiol attenuates aggressive behavior induced by social isolation in mice . . .” by A. Hartman et al., Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry, 8/19 l “Cannabidiol reduces aggressiveness, study concludes,” University of Sao Paulo Medical School, 7/29/19 l “The effects of cannabidiol on male reproductive system: A literature review” by R.K. Carvalho et al., J Appl Toxicol, 7/19 l “Food effect on pharmacokinetics of cannabidiol oral capsules in adult patients with refractory epilepsy” by A.K. Birnbaum et al., Epilepsia, 8/19 l “Research brief: High fat foods can increase CBD absorption into the body,” University of Minnesota, 8/13/19

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supplement spotlight

the sunshine vitamin D3 is vital for health

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Preliminary results show that vitamin D supplementation is linked to a 16 percent reduction in the risk of dying from cancer.

How do you get it? Vitamin D3 is produced naturally by the body when exposed to sunlight. Many people receive insufficient sun exposure for a variety of reasons, including living in areas with high pollution or tall buildings that block sunlight, spending a lot of time indoors, and using sunscreen (which you shouldn’t avoid!). Vitamin D3 is also available from some food sources, including butter, egg yolks, fatty fish and fish oil, and liver.

How much do you need? If sunlight and food sources do not provide sufficient amounts of D3, supplementation is necessary. A minimum daily intake of 400 International Units (IU) of D3 is needed to avoid serious health problems, but many experts feel this dose is too low to mitigate disease risk. Some physicians and researchers suggest 1,000 to 2,000 IU of vitamin D3 daily for most adults.

What’s new? Vitamin D is frequently the subject of research, and the latest studies are promising. Let’s take a look at what scientists are discovering right now about vitamin D. nV itamin D is known for its anti-inflammatory properties, and it appears that it may be beneficial for ulcerative colitis. In a study of patients with active ulcerative colitis, oral nano vitamin D supplements led to a reduction in disease activity and grade of severity after four weeks for the majority of participants who reached target vitamin D levels.

nM any of those who suffer from migraine headaches appear to have a vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency—in some studies as many as 100 percent of participants! A recent comprehensive review of studies on the relationship between vitamin D status and migraine headache suggests that (in addition to conventional drug therapy) supplementation with 1,0004,000 IU per day of vitamin D may reduce the incidence of migraine attacks. nE namel defects that occur during fetal development have become a global public health challenge. Enamel defects can lead to hypersensitivity, rapidly forming cavities, and even extractions. Because the exact cause of these defects is not known, there is currently no way to prevent them. Recent research suggests that pregnant women who supplement with high-dose vitamin D3 (2,400 IU per day) may cut the risk of their children developing enamel defects by up to 50 percent. nA recent meta-analysis of more than 50 trials with a total of 75,000+ participants found that vitamin D supplementation may offer statistically significant protection against the risk of cancer death. Preliminary results show that vitamin D supplementation is linked to a 16 percent reduction in the risk of dying from cancer. In addition, all-cause mortality appeared to be lower for participants who received vitamin D3 versus D2. —Kelli Ann Wilson

“Association between vitamin D supplementation and mortality” by Y. Zhang et al., BMJ, 8/12/19 l “Association of high-dose vitamin D supplementation during pregnancy with the risk of enamel defects in offspring ” by P.E. Nørrisgaard et al., JAMA Pediatr, 8/5/19 l “Ohio University study shows vitamin D3 could help heal or prevent cardiovascular damage” Ohio University, 1/30/18 l “Oral nano vitamin D supplementation reduces disease activity in ulcerative colitis” by Z.R. Ahamed et al., J Clin Gastroenterol, 7/26/19 l “Vitamin D & heart disease” l “Vitamin D in migraine headache: A comprehensive review on literature” by Z. Ghorbani et al., Neurol Sci, 8/3/19

October 2019

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e ve r y d a y r e m e d i e s

cold sores What are they? Cold sores are a viral infection that results in small, fluid-filled blisters found on and around the lips that break and crust over into a sore. What causes them? Cold sores are caused by a variety of the herpes simplex virus and are spread person to person through close contact, such as kissing. The sore will heal, but the virus will lie dormant in the nervous system and may cause symptoms in the future.

Lifestyle: Don’t share food and beverages; maintain good hygiene by washing hands regularly; be cautious when kissing or being intimate; get plenty of rest.

Food: Fresh fruit and vegetables and probiotic-rich foods like yogurt. Also consider cheese, chicken, eggs, fish, kiwi, lemons, pineapple, seaweed.

Supplements: Vitamins A, B complex, C, and E;

Homeopathy: Arsenicum album, Capsicum, Natrum muriaticum, Rhus toxicodendron.

Herbs: Echinacea, goldenseal, lemon balm, olive leaf extract, pau d’arco, red clover.

minerals calcium, magnesium; essential fatty acids; zinc lozenges.

“Cold sore” by Mayo Clinic Staff,, 12/20/18 l Prescription for Nutritional Healing by Phyllis A. Balch, CNC ($29.95, Penguin Group/Avery, 2006)

October 2019

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By Isaac Eliaz, MD, MS, LAc

The Innate Intelligence of

Medicinal Mushrooms Uniquely beneficial for human health

Medicinal mushrooms are no secret. Herbalists and other practitioners have recognized their therapeutic benefits for centuries. Now, we’ve entered a new phase—researching these traits to determine specific mechanisms and the many applications for them.


s a result, mushrooms have become even more deeply embedded in complementary medicine. There are more than 270 medicinal mushroom species, each possessing unique traits and beneficial mechanisms. They contain a variety of therapeutic compounds, including antioxidants, enzymes, lipids, minerals, vitamins, and other potentially beneficial components. Studies have shown mushrooms can modulate blood pressure, cholesterol, and 16  remedies

metabolism, negate free radicals, and help detoxify the body. The remarkable thing is that they seem to have an innate “intelligence” when addressing health issues, such as infections and toxicity. They seem to know where to go and what to do once they get there.

Immune support Mushrooms have a unique relationship with the immune system, owing in part to a molecular family called beta glucans.

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These polysaccharides often bind with immune components, such as macrophages, T-cells, and natural killers, enhancing their function. The interactions between beta glucans and immune cells are fascinating because they don’t necessarily boost immunity so much as modulate it. Like many biological functions, the immune response is built on balance. Cytotoxic T-cells attack pathogens and cancer. Regulatory T-cells call off the attack when the job has been completed, in order to prevent an autoimmune response. Mushrooms can play a role in this intricate dance. Mushrooms support a wide range of health goals, from enhancing a suppressed immune system to moderating an autoimmune response—such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis—to reducing inflammation, and more.

Cancer and beyond These immune-modulating traits are useful when addressing diseases, particularly cancer. Several studies have shown that certain medicinal mushrooms are active against different cancers. In many cases, they can reduce both proliferation and angiogenesis, the blood vessel growth that’s so essential to feed expanding tumors. Mushrooms are being actively studied to find the compounds that could be the next generation of cancer treatments. Mushrooms can also play a role in cardiovascular health. Different varieties have been shown to reduce both cholesterol and blood viscosity. They may also be effective at reducing fatigue.

Mushrooms can modulate blood pressure, cholesterol, and metabolism, negate free radicals, and help detoxify the body. Warding off cognitive decline One of the buzzwords in medicine these days is “healthspan.” The goal is not only to live longer, but to live healthier in those later years. A recent study by researchers at the National University of Singapore showed that seniors who ate 1.5 cups of cooked

mushrooms each day reduced their risk of mild cognitive impairment. The study was conducted over six years and assessed 600 seniors who ate golden, oyster, shiitake, and button mushrooms. These are critical published findings that confirm what has been observed for millennia: Mushrooms have a powerful impact on the brain and body.

consider this Host Defense Turkey Tail Capsules use activated, freeze-dried, Certified Organic mushroom mycelium, with a full spectrum of constituents such as polysaccharides that are essential for supporting natural immunity and the microbiome.

Maitake mushroom contains a protein-bound Beta-1,3/1,6 glucan, D-fraction, which has been tested and found to be the strongest among many of the most powerful immune boosters. Mushroom Wisdom Maitake D-Fraction may increase numbers and activity of immune cells.

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Mushroom varieties

Coriolus versicolor

Polyporus umbellatus

Ganoderma lucidum

Grifola frondosa

Agaricus blazei

Cordyceps sinensis

Dr. Isaac Eliaz is an integrative medical doctor, licensed acupuncturist, researcher, product formulator, and lecturer. He is the founder and medical director of Amitabha Medical Clinic in Santa Rosa, CA, an integrative health center specializing in cancer and chronic conditions.

The cognitive study investigated mushrooms you can find in many grocery aisles, but there are other mushroom species that are even more potent. n Coriolus versicolor is useful to support cancer treatment. It can enhance the therapeutic benefit of radiation while reducing side effects. nG anoderma lucidum supports cardiovascular health and can mitigate asthma and bronchitis. nA garicus blazei can boost interferon and interleukin and has shown antibacterial activity as well as support for healthy cholesterol and blood sugar levels. n Polyporus umbellatus has shown anticancer activity and can reduce the side effects associated with chemotherapy. n Grifola frondosa supports immunity and slows tumor growth and proliferation. It also regulates blood sugar and reduces blood pressure and LDL cholesterol. nC ordyceps sinensis increases immune cell activity and good cholesterol and reduces bad cholesterol. (Cordyceps is not technically a mushroom, but a similar type of fungus.)

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For my patients needing immune and cellular support, I recommend a medicinal mushroom formula that combines these varieties, grown on a blend of immunesupportive herbs and brown rice. Since mushrooms are excellent at drawing in elements from their immediate environment, they’re able to absorb beneficial components directly from the herbs they’re grown on.

Tasty too Many medicinal mushrooms are also delicious culinary additions, including shiitake, oyster, maitake, and others. Whichever way you choose to incorporate them, medicinal mushrooms are an ideal strategy to support immunity and restore biological balance. These intelligent fungi provide a broad spectrum of health benefits, from reducing inflammation to fighting oxidation and removing toxins. They may be one of the world’s first smart drugs, modifying their responses to meet individual needs while supporting overall wellness—safely and naturally. “Anti-inflammatory properties of edible mushrooms: A review” by B. Muszynska et al., Food Chem, 3/18 l “Antioxidant effects of medicinal mushrooms Agaricus brasiliensis and Ganoderma lucidum” by B. Yurkiv B, et al., Int J Med Mushrooms, 2015 l “Antifatigue functions and mechanisms of edible and medicinal mushrooms” by P. Geng et al., Biomed Res Int, 2017 l “The Association between mushroom consumption and mild cognitive impairment” by L. Feng L, et al., J Alzheimers Dis, 2019 l “The bioactivities and pharmacological applications of Phellinus linteus” by W. Chen et al., Molecules, 5/19 l “Ganoderma lucidum mushroom for the treatment of cardiovascular risk factors” by N.L. Klupp et al., Cochrane Database Syst Rev, 2/15 l “Medicinal mushrooms as an attractive new source of natural compounds for future cancer therapy” by A. Blagodatski et al., Oncotarget, 6/18 l “Novel medicinal mushroom blend suppresses growth and invasiveness of human breast cancer cells” by J. Jian and D. Silva, Int J Oncol, 12/10

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October 2019

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herbal healing

tips for easing seasonal affective disorder Many people feel out of sorts as the hours of daylight begin to decline in the fall. While 10 to 20 percent of the US population suffer from the “winter blues,” about 5 percent of us—many of whom live in northern latitudes—experience a more serious condition called seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. (While SAD usually strikes in the fall and winter, in less common cases it occurs in the spring or summer.)

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Those with the more common form of this mild to moderate depression can feel it coming on like clockwork in October, and they know it won’t loosen its grip until spring. During this period, those with SAD often crave sweets and carbs while experiencing bouts of anxiety, irritability, sadness, social withdrawal, lack of concentration, lethargy, loss of libido, and a desire to sleep. Researchers have found that people with SAD have about 5 percent less serotonin circulating in their brains during winter than in summer, which can contribute to depressive symptoms. The reduced level of sunlight also results in less of this mood neurotransmitter being produced. Another contributing factor is the body’s increased production of melatonin, a sleep-related hormone. This results in circadian rhythms being out of sync, adding to the seasonal depression.

An herb to the rescue Depression is a serious illness, so seek professional help if your symptoms are severe. But for those with mild to moderate symptoms, St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) may be useful. This herb produces similar effects as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors like Prozac, which gradually boost serotonin levels in the brain. Numerous studies support the use of St. John’s wort for SAD. In controlled clinical studies, St. John’s wort produced significant improvement in depression without the side effects often brought on by conventional antidepressants. When combined with light therapy, the herb significantly improves symptoms. Be patient. It can take several weeks (even months) for the benefits to build, although some people notice an immediate change for the better. Discuss supplementation with your healthcare practitioner, as St. John’s wort may interfere with antidepressants and other prescription drugs.

Go toward the light Many people with SAD find relief through the daily use of special light boxes that provide a light intensity of 10,000 lux (a sunny day measures 50,000 lux). The bright light therapy suppresses the brain’s secretion of melatonin. The user sits about 12 to 18 inches away from the light box in the morning while they eat breakfast, read, or work on the computer for 30 minutes. It’s important not to look directly into the light during this time. Clinical improvement typically occurs within a week or two. Light therapy’s been found to be as effective as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, with fewer side effects. However, it may not be suitable for people with certain conditions, including bipolar disorder. Those with diabetes or eye conditions should check with their healthcare practitioner before using light therapy. Those who know they battle SAD can start light therapy in early autumn before the onset of symptoms. —remedies staff

The ABC Clinical Guide to Herbs by Mark Blumenthal ($79.95, Thieme, 2010) l “Bright light as a personalized precision treatment of mood disorders” by J. Maruani and P.A. Geoffoy, Front Psychiatry, 3/19 l “Complementary therapies for clinical depression . . .” by H. Haller et al., BMJ Open, 8/19 l “Seasonal affective disorder” by S.L. Kurlansik and A.D. Ibay, American Family Physician, 12/1/12 l “Seasonal affective disorder: Bring on the light” by Michael Craig Miller, MD,, 12/21/12

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Keep your mood up Hyla Cass, MD, recommends aerobic exercise and consumption of omega-3 essential fatty acids to support brain function and mood. Good sources include krill and fish oils, flaxseeds, and walnuts. “Natural remedies for treating depression” by H. Cass, MD, Alt Comp Ther

Scent-sational! Aromatherapy experts suggest those with SAD try the following essential oils: basil and rosemary to help clear fatigue; clary sage, grapefruit, and lemon to elevate mood. “Aromatherapy: Seasonal affective disorder” by Brenda Stansfield,

Did You Know? • People typically develop seasonal affective disorder for the first time between ages 20 and 30, although symptoms can occur earlier. • Four out of five people who experience SAD are women.

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healthy glow

banish dry skin Moisturizers and serums offer relief

Hydration is important to keep your body running smoothly, but there’s little evidence that upping water intake has any effect on the skin of healthy people. That doesn’t mean you should stop drinking water, but it’s best to tackle dry, flaky, and tight skin by hydrating from the outside. Prevention strategies As a first step toward addressing dry skin, change any external factors you can. During dry seasons, use a humidifier in your home and workplace. Stay out of the hot sun, dry heat, and strong winds as much as possible. Avoid using soaps with perfume, deodorant, and antibacterial ingredients and replace them with gentle, fragrance-free cleansers. Wear gloves to wash dishes. Take short baths and showers in warm, rather than hot, water. What you eat is important too. The fatty acids in foods including walnuts, flaxseed, salmon, and olive oil can help keep your skin cells hydrated.

Topical treatments Next, moisturize your skin directly. When you get out of the shower, gently pat your skin with a towel. Immediately add a layer of moisturizer. The idea is to form a barrier that holds in the water your skin has just absorbed. Apply moisturizer to your hands and face every time you

wash them and wear natural lip balm to soothe dryness and prevent chapping. Choose moisturizing products carefully—some are petroleum based or contain chemicals that may cause health problems. Avoid those containing alcohol, perfumes, retinoids, or alphahydroxy acid (AHA). Among ingredients to look for: hyaluronic acid, stearic acid, emollient ceramides, cholesterol, lactic acid, glycerin, lanolin, olive oil, jojoba oil, and shea butter. Europeans prefer oils, which typically don’t have the fillers and emulsifiers that may be added to give lotions their creamy quality. Oils seal in moisture, while lotions, creams, and the like penetrate the skin with ingredients that can replenish moisture and repair damage. One way to get the benefit of both is to use oils at night and creamier moisturizers in the morning. If you decide to try an oil, choose cold-pressed oils that are certified organic. Avoid synthetic fragrances in favor of unscented oils or those containing scents from cold-pressed essential oils. Skip the mineral oil, which is a petroleum product. —Jane Eklund

“The benefits of drinking water for your skin,” University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority, www.UWhealth. org l “Can drinking water cure dry skin?” University of Arkansas for Medical Science,, 1/28/17 l “Dermatologists’ top tips for relieving dry skin,” American Academy of Dermatology, l “Does drinking water cause hydrated skin?” by Lawrence E. Gibson, l “Lotion vs. oil: Which is better for your skin?” by Leah Zerbe,, 4/6/17

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sports nutrition

the vegan athlete pay close attention to these nutrients A vegan diet offers a multitude of health benefits: improved immune function and cardiovascular health and reduced risks for Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, certain cancers, and obesity. But how does a vegan diet impact athletic performance? Studies have found that athletes with restricted food choices are more likely to exhibit insufficient intakes of macronutrients and micronutrients. But other research has shown that vegan endurance runners report the healthiest food choices. Despite the increased risk of nutritional deficiencies, a well-planned vegan diet can provide adequate nutrition for athletes, as evidenced by the success of vegan tennis champion Venus Williams and ultramarathoner Scott Jurek. Here are nutrients to be conscientious about when crafting your well-planned vegan diet. A vegan diet is great for athletes of all types, as long as you’re careful to eat lots of varied protein sources and mounds of vegetables, and to take nutritional supplements when necessary.

The building blocks The three macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats, and proteins) are well known to most athletes, as is the importance of constructing a diet that appropriately balances the three. Typically, nutritionists recommend that 45 to 65 percent of an athlete’s caloric intake consists of carbs, 20 to 35 percent of fats, and 10 to 35 percent of protein, regardless of their dietetic choices. Achieving the recommended amounts of protein, however, can be difficult for vegans, and there is much more to consider than quantity alone. October 2019

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The quality and variety of plant-based protein sources is vital for vegan athletes because plant proteins are often incomplete, meaning they do not provide all nine of the essential amino acids. The most common vegan protein sources usually lack lysine, methionine, isoleucine, threonine, or tryptophan. Lysine can be found in beans and legumes, isoleucine in soybeans and lentils, and the rest can be obtained from chickpeas and various seeds and tree nuts. Variety is key, but complete vegan proteins do exist. Quinoa, hemp seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, buckwheat, and spirulina all contain the nine essential amino acids and serve as excellent protein sources.

Nutrients from the sea


Fat is another macronutrient that can prove difficult for vegans, who typically consume less total and saturated fats and more omega-6 fatty acids than their omnivorous counterparts. Again, quality must be considered alongside quantity, particularly in the case of omega-3 fatty acids, of which there are three main types: alpha linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Omega 3s are integral for cardiovascular health and might also increase the production of nitric oxide, an important signaling molecule in the body that relaxes blood vessels and increases blood flow. Vegans typically consume less of these essential fats because they do not eat fish or shellfish, but oils from microalgae provide DHA, and some also include EPA. ALA can be obtained from several plant sources, including flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts.

B wary Supplemental vitamin B12 is typically made from animal products. Because this vitamin is integral for nervous system function, deficiencies can lead to morphological changes in blood cells, anemia, and, in long-term cases, neurological damage. Vegan sources of B12 can be difficult to come by. Nutritional yeast offers a supply, but the most reliable sources are supplements and breakfast cereals, plant milks, energy bars, and other foods that have been fortified with the vitamin.

Metal for mettle Iron is found in every cell of the body and is needed to make hemoglobin, a key component of blood cells. Unsurprisingly, an iron deficiency can result in anemia, fatigue, weakness, and shortness of breath. Even in mild cases, insufficient iron supplies will reduce endurance capacity, increase energy expenditure, and impair adaptation to endurance exercise. The vegan athlete runs into trouble with iron not because of a lack of sources, but because those sources 26  remedies

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contain the mineral in forms that are less bioavailable than those found in animal products. Iron from plant sources is typically of the non-heme variety, which is far less bioavailable than the heme iron in animal products. It’s vital for vegan athletes—especially women—to consume whole-food sources of iron such as legumes, grains, nuts, seeds, and green vegetables. Combining these foods with fruits is ideal, as vitamin C enhances the absorption of iron. Broccoli, potatoes, and chard contain both iron and vitamin C, making them efficient choices for vegan athletes. Supplementation has been shown to correct deficiencies in iron and is a common practice among female athletes of all dietary habits. Be aware that coffee, tea, and cocoa may inhibit the absorption of iron.

The well-planned diet Essentially, a vegan diet is great for athletes of all types. As long as you’re careful to eat lots of varied protein sources and mounds of vegetables, and to take nutritional supplements where necessary, a vegan diet can carry you far and help you feel great. Be aware of how you’re fueling your body and make sure your vegan diet is well planned! —Emily Messer “Defending vegan diets—RDs aim to clear up common misconceptions about vegan diets” by D. Webb, Today’s Dietitian, 9/10 l “Fueling the vegetarian (vegan) athlete” by J. Fuhrman and D.M. Ferreri, Current Sports Medicine Reports, 7/1/10 l “Health status of female and male vegetarian and vegan endurance runners compared to omnivores . . .” by K. Wirnitzer et al., 12/22/18; “Micronutrient status of recreational runners with vegetarian or non-vegetarian dietary patterns” by J. Nebl et al., 6/22/19, Nutrients l “Iron in diet” by E. Wax,, 1/7/17 l “Omega-3 fatty acids: Fact sheet for health professionals” National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements,, 6/11/19 l “Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Vegetarian diets” by V. Melina et al., Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 12/16 l “Vegan diets: Practical advice for athletes and exercisers” by D. Rogerson, Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 9/13/17 l “12 vegan sources of vitamin B12” by J. Snow, www.VeryVeganRecipes. com, 2019

Typically, nutritionists recommend that 45 to 65 percent of an athlete’s caloric intake consists of carbs, 20 to 35 percent of fats, and 10 to 35 percent of protein, regardless of their dietetic choices.

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take with care

herb-med combos require caution

Herbs and other natural therapies, by and large, are safe to use by themselves and even in combination with many items in your medicine cabinet. But herbs can, in a few cases, interact adversely with prescription and over-the-counter drugs.

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When you have questions about how to safely use conventional medications with herbal supplements, it makes sense to rely on the expertise of someone like Patrick Fratellone, MD. Dr. Fratellone is both a physician with offices in New York City and Fairfield, CT, and a registered herbalist with the American Herbalists Guild. In terms of conventional medicine and traditional remedies, he stands with a foot in each world. As Dr. Fratellone puts it: “One should realize that herbs are drugs.” This is because many of our conventional medicines—metformin and digoxin, for example—first came from plants. In addition, many items considered foods also serve as herbs with medicinal qualities: Think of garlic, parsley, ginger, and thyme. The good news? You don’t need to be overly concerned

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about herb-medication interactions, since for the most part “there are very limited known drug-herb reactions, whether the herb is in a capsule or as a food,” says Dr. Fratellone. Of course, it’s always prudent to let your doctor or pharmacist know about all herbs and dietary supplements you are taking to guard against potential interactions.

Check your med list One medication that always tops the list of potential herb interactions is the blood thinner Coumadin (warfarin). Caution should be taken with herbs that also thin the blood. These include garlic and ginkgo, as well as omega-3 oils. The birth control pill is another medication that warrants consideration. Women taking the pill who also use

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St. John’s wort can experience breakthrough bleeding and the possibility of ovulation—which means the risk goes up for unintended pregnancy. Thus, taking oral contraceptives for birth control (as opposed to using the pill for management of periods, acne, or a condition such as polycystic ovarian syndrome) would mean that St. John’s wort should definitely be avoided. Another red flag, according to Dr. Fratellone, concerns the Parkinson’s disease medication levodopa. “Studies have shown that kava kava, an herb used for anxiety, can reduce the effects of levodopa,” he says.

The other side of the coin When considering herb-medication interactions, it’s worth noting that along with potential negative interactions there are also friendly interactions. In other words, sometimes taking an herb or dietary supplement can ease the undesirable side effects of a prescription or over-thecounter drug. In other cases, they can make a drug work better than it would have alone. For instance, taking acetaminophen (Tylenol) regularly or in large doses can cause problems for the liver. However, adding silymarin (the active ingredient in milk thistle) each day may help neutralize these negative effects on the liver. Of course, antibiotics are well known for killing the friendly bacteria in your gut, often triggering a bout of

diarrhea (or ongoing diarrhea that lasts after antibiotic treatment). It’s a sound idea to recolonize your GI tract with probiotics, both while using antibiotics and continuing after you finish the course. The two should be taken a few hours apart. Taking this even further, Dr. Fratellone points out that there are herbal remedies that can take the place of drugs in select situations. For example, he notes that the herbs uva ursi and juniper are as effective as the prescription medication macrodantin, which is used for urinary tract infections. Another example is mastica—the resin from a tree in Greece—that may eradicate H. pylori infection and may be used in place of the two antibiotics and one antacid that are generally prescribed. As Dr. Fratellone sums things up: “Plants for centuries have provided the cure to many illnesses and diseases.” —Victoria Dolby Toews, MPH Victoria Dolby Toews, MPH, a health journalist for more than two decades, is the author of Life After Baby: Rediscovering and Reclaiming Your Healthy Pizzazz (Basic Health Publications, 2012).

“Co-administration of St John’s wort and hormonal contraceptives: A systematic review” by E.N. Berry-Bibee et al., Contraception, 2016 l Personal communication: Patrick Fratellone, 2019 l “Silymarin prevents acetaminophen-induced hepatotoxicity in mice” by Z. Papackova et al., PLOS One, 1/17/18

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