Monday, December 29, 2014

Hangover Cure?

It’s almost time for the New Year’s celebrations to begin.  While it is a time of celebration, for many, the celebration becomes a time of overindulgence with uncomfortable symptoms occurring afterward.  With alcohol, it is important to remember that over-consumption of alcohol causes dehydration and damages the liver, among other things.  The best advice is not to drink in excess at all.  For those who refuse that good advice, there are some precautions to take, and it’s best to prepare ahead of time.
Plan your way home. If you plan on drinking, use common sense and plan your way home so you are not driving. Have a designated driver, or take advantage of cabs or free rides offered at various locations. Get home safe without driving.
Drink up…the water, that is. Drink plenty of pure, high pH water before, during and after your party to avoid dehydration. pH water is important because alcohol is very acid-forming, making the body more acidic. The higher pH waters can help bring things back into balance.
B smart. Take stress B complex with vitamin C before going out, and again in the morning. Because alcohol is a diuretic, you lose these important water-soluble vitamins, which need to be replenished to support nerve, immune and overall health. 
Protect your Liver. Taking N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) prior to and after your party can help the body metabolize alcohol more efficiently and reduce the toxic effects.  NAC has been shown to provide a level of protection against a number of toxic substances including tobacco smoke, alcohol, and drugs such as acetaminophen. For extra protection, add standardized milk thistle extract is also important as it acts as a potent antioxidant to aid in protecting and cleansing the liver. 
While these suggestions may help reduce hangover symptoms, I have to reiterate that over-consumption of alcohol is just not good.  It produces free radical damage, causes dehydration and damages the liver, among other things.  And should you choose to drink, please do not drive! Stay at a friend’s house or have someone else drive you home. The best advice is to enjoy the season and the celebrations, but not to drink in excess at all.  Keep it in moderation, and have a Happier New Year!   

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Rhodiola for Winter Blues

It’s cold outside – not just here, but in much of the country. Here in Oklahoma, it has been raining, and most of us don’t want to be out in the rain or the cold, so we stay warm inside. Unfortunately, this can translate into gloomy feelings with no exposure to sun and fresh air. Add to that the stress of the holidays creeping in, and you may be experiencing the winter blues. If the weather, or anything else, has been affecting your mood, let me tell you about rhodiola. Rhodiola rosea, also called Arctic Root, is a plant that grows in the high altitude climates of Siberia. It has been used as part of the traditional medicine of Russia, Scandinavia and other countries for centuries. It functions as both a balancing adaptogen and a protective antioxidant. Traditional folk medicine used rhodiola to increase physical endurance, longevity and resistance to high altitude sickness.
Rhodiola is an adaptogen, meaning it allows the body to adapt better to stress, normalizing body functions and increasing the body's ability to resist the damaging effects of stress, such as excess cortisol. Excess cortisol, produced when the body is under chronic stress, has been linked to metabolic changes such as increased blood sugar and increased fat storage in the abdomen and belly. Rhodiola has been shown to help control cortisol production and improve energy. Going from “bleh” to energized would certainly help you feel better!
Clinical studies have shown Rhodiola can enhance concentration and memory, lift the mood, and may help delay fatigue and improve energy use during exercise. For a natural, non-caffeine pick-me-up and mood booster, Rhodiola would be a good herb to try.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The flu shot isn’t working

How many of you got a flu shot? If you are one of the millions of people who did get a flu shot, the CDC recently announced it may not work so well to protect you this year. Flu vaccines are based on the previous year’s strains of influenza. This year, it appears a current strain of the flu has mutated, making the flu vaccine only partially protective at best. On top of that, this particular strain of flu appears to be virulent, spreading easily, and experts are predicting a difficult flu season. Flu season is just getting started….so what do you do? Whether you took a flu shot or not, it would be wise to reinforce your immune system.  Here are the top 4 things to keep on hand to protect your own natural defenses:
1. Probiotics. Use: Daily. Probiotics are the beneficial bacteria that reside in our intestinal tracts. They act to strengthen the intestinal barrier, stimulate production of immune cells and even inhibit the growth of bad bacteria. Daily use provides a measure of protection not found with other common immune stimulants.
2. Mushrooms. Use: Daily. Mushrooms act to stimulate the immune system on a deeper level. Mushrooms, such as shiitake, reishi and maitake, are rich in beta glucans that go into the bloodstream and activate immune cells throughout the body. Because they work at a deeper level, as opposed to working acutely, mushrooms can be taken daily to support overall immunity.
3. Elderberry. Use: At first sign of illness, or when you know others around you are sick, taking until symptoms subside.  Studies with elderberry extract have shown that, when given within 48 hours of the onset of the flu-like symptoms, it can help you recover faster. Symptoms may be reduced by 3 to 4 days.
4. A comprehensive immune support formula. Use: Take seasonally, at first sign of illness and for duration of illness. Immune support formulas are comprehensive blends of herbs and nutrients that are designed to boost immune function and fight infection. Good formulas include zinc, vitamin C, echinacea, goldenseal and garlic. These synergistic formulas cover all the bases with immune support, herbal antivirals and symptom support.  I like the Paragon Plus All Well Formula – it’s a good complete blend. This type of formula should be on hand for any type of cold, flu or upper respiratory challenges.
To this list I would add a couple of lifestyle changes - wash your hands, stay hydrated and get enough rest. Dehydration and lack of rest can make any illness worse. Make these changes, keep natural formulas on hand, and be vigilant with those around you are sick. You can fight the flu.