Naturopathic Medicine for Warming Up to Winter

As the leaves dry, crackle, and fall to the ground, our bodies in turn react to the change in environment.  According to Ayurveda, an ancient form of medicine approximated to be 2000 to 5000 years old, when our bodies move into colder, milder weather this correlates to the 'Vata' dosha. 

 

What is a 'dosha' you ask?

A dosha is one of three energies derived from the five elements that are accepted by Ayurvedic practitioners and doctors to circulate and govern the physiological activity of the body. The three doshas are Vata, Pitta or Kapha. While each person can have a predominant dosha to be in healthy alignment, a person will be at equilibrium where the three doshas are synergistic. 

 

'Vata' is described as the dosha derived from space and air, 'Vata' controls movement specifically blood flow, waste elimination, respiration and the movement of thoughts, when 'Vata' gets out of balance dryness, flighty thoughts, constipation and miscommunciation occurs. Banyan Botanicals an Ayurveda products company notes that in 'Vata' works best with routine, warmth, serenity and nourishment.

 

To further support the body being balanced during this 'Vata' time of year. Here are some tried and true tips for using Naturopathic medicine to ease your way through winter:

 

Winter Solstice

The shortest day of the year in Earth's Northern hemisphere is the Winter Solstice or December 21st, this means we have less time with visible daylight.  While less daylight might be intriguing to you and working late hours might seem like a great way to combat the early sunset it is important this time of year of year to have an early bedtime as staying up too late can aggravate 'Vata'. 

 

As the weather cools  and continues to get colder it is important to increase the amount of warm foods in your diets by increasing the number of cooked foods you eat and add spices like cardamon, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, mustard seed, basal, bay, cloves and turmeric. It is even more necessary to keep the head and soles of your feet covered so as to not let cold into the body. 'Vata' needs warmth to remain stable and keep the body systems moving. 

 

Speaking of movement, let's talk exercise, even as the weather cools its equally important keep the body moving through physical exercise, be cautious not let the body get too cold during exercise. During this season its great to try gentle physical exercise like tai chi, qi gong, walking, yoga and mat pilates, or keep lymph moving by dry brushing daily. 

 

Support creativity and the harvest, keep your ideas flowing, talk to your friends on a long, gentle walk in nature,  orfind a creative outlet/hobby- whether that's beading, painting, baking or knitting-do an activity for you by you! 

 

#pumpkinspice

While it seems like there is pumpkin spice everything these days, from coffee to desserts, try avoiding the sugary version that can suppress the immune system, instead opt for whole pumpkin rich in provitamin A beta-carotene, vitamin A and vitamin C, even better try the following soup created by Nature & Science Nutritionist Kristy Malone, MA, NTP. 

 

Paleo Pumpkin Spice Soup

 

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients
1 medium whole butternut squash (or use 1½ lbs prepackaged cubed squash)
1 Granny Smith apple
1 medium yellow onion
5 garlic cloves
1 tsp. honey
1 lb. bacon
1 Tbsp. ghee (may sub coconut or avocado oil)
32 oz. chicken broth
1 c. pumpkin purée
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp. sea salt and black pepper to taste
Optional: 2 scoops Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides (for added protein and to thicken)

 

Directions
1. Set your oven to 350 degrees. If using a whole squash, halve it lengthwise and use a spoon to scoop out and discard seeds. Remove the skin with a vegetable peeler and cut into 1-inch cubes.

2. Cut the apple into wedges and coat the apples wedges and cubed squash in about 1 tsp olive oil, and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle honey over the apple slices.

3. On another baking sheet, lay out the bacon strips. Bake all for 20-25 min at 350 degrees (for crispier bacon, leave in the oven for an additional 5-10 min).

4. While the apple, squash, and bacon are cooking, chop the onion and garlic. In a large pot, heat the ghee over medium heat until hot but not smoking and sauté the onion and garlic until soft and slightly browned.

5. Add the chicken broth, pureéd pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, salt, pepper, baked apples and squash, and one strip of bacon. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and allow to simmer for 3-5 minutes.

6. Remove from heat, add collagen if using, and then use an immersion blender or transfer mixture to a blender (multiple batches may be needed) to blend all ingredients thoroughly until texture is smooth and consistent. Serve hot and top with crumbled bacon and a dash of pumpkin pie spice. 

Modifications

Vegan: Sub maple syrup for honey, omit bacon and add additional 1/4 tsp salt, sub coconut oil for ghee, sub vegetable broth for chicken broth, and omit collagen.

Vegetarian: Omit bacon and add additional ¼ tsp salt.

Dairy-free: Sub coconut oil for ghee.

 

To talk more in-depth about Ayurveda, doshas, balancing your dosha, or how to live more in alignment with Naturopathic Medicine for optimal health with the changing season, book an appointment with Erin Rhae Biller at Nature &Science Medicine.

 

For more information, visit www.naturesciencemedicine.com or email us at info@naturesciencemedicine.com 

By Erin Rhae Biller, NMD, BA, a naturopathic medical assistant, at Nature & Science Medicine. 

 

Sources: 

Ayurveda 101 from Eat Taste Heal: http://www.eattasteheal.com/ayurveda101/ETH_ayurveda101.htm

Understanding Vata,  www.mapi.com/ayurvedic-knowledge/doshas/vata.html

Balancing Vata, https://www.banyanbotanicals.com/info/ayurvedic-living/learning.../balancing-vata/

BodhiMed, Ancient Medicine for Modern Health, http://www.bodhimed.com/bodhimed-health/177-magical-vata-digestive-spice-mix

4 ways to look and feel relaxed for the Holidays

Re-Blog by Verena Eckstein

 

It’s November already and we’re all back to school, to work, and to our hectic daily schedules. The pace has picked up and our faces start to show it. Recently, while practicing yoga, I looked up at the mirror and saw a total stranger staring back at me! Who was this woman with a scowl on her face, a deep wrinkle in her forehead? I was shocked to see what I looked like when I was focused and concentrated. This was yoga after all!

 

Class ended with one of my favorites—a complete body scan. It goes like this: lying on our yoga mats, the instructor slowly brings attention to each muscle starting with the toes and ending with the head. He/she asks us to release all tension. As I did, I realized I was holding my breath, clenching my jaw. Around the room I could feel the wave of relaxation as we all shifted into Savasana, the resting pose of yoga practice.

There is an incredible power in being mindful, of completely being in the moment and aware of body and mind. It helps make us conscious of the tightness with which we carry ourselves - in our muscles, jaw, neck, forehead – and allows us to prevent repetitive expressions from becoming etched in our skin.

 

PREVENTION IS THE BEST MEDICINE

The best cream can only help the appearance of our skin so much; how we live and care for ourselves on a day-to-day basis has a huge effect on our skin and mimic. So here are 4 steps to help prevent those squint and frown lines:

 

1. Mindfulness- release that tension: Take a few minutes every day to do a complete scan of your body. Feel every muscle from head to toe. Where am I holding tension? Am I taking deep breaths? Are my eyes relaxed? My jaw? Is my tongue tensely pressed against the roof of my mouth?

Tip: Now that fall is here, I love taking evening baths while practicing my mindfulness breathing and tension release. I add in about one pound of Epsom salts, and the magnesium from the salts helps my muscles relax even more.

 

2. Living in sunny San Diego, sunglasses are a must to prevent squinting and unnecessary facial tension. If you notice you squint and wrinkle your forehead while reading or out in the sun, wearing reading glasses and/or sunglasses can really help relax those straining muscles.

 

3. Massage your face. In the evening, loosen those tight muscles with a gentle facial massage while washing your face. I often start with the pressure point between my eyes, and then stroke in an upward fashion toward my forehead, then moving in circular motions along my cheeks and chin.

Tip: A major plus of getting a professional facial is the massage.

 

4. Keep your skin hydrated: A good eye cream is a must. I use Doctor Eckstein Eye Balm Supreme. For something lighter in consistency, try Eye Gel Supreme, and if you want the richest most potent eye product, I recommend Eye Cream Supreme

 

For timeless beauty, 

Verena Eckstein 


Read more about wellness and skincare,  and view original post at: www.thebiokosmetikblog.com

To help you look and feel your best for the holidays contact Nature & Science Medicine. Customized treatments can include professional facials, nutritional IV therapy, massage, acupuncture, and naturopathic medicine. 

Why Breakfast is the Most Important Meal of the Day

     It is often said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and couldn't agree more.  I remember when I used to experience the mid-afternoon crash a few hours after lunch, with my brain so foggy that all I wanted to do was take a nap. I would have a chocolate stash in my desk just so I could keep myself going. I thought this was normal, or at least it seemed pretty common. 

     Breakfast is particularly important in terms of blood sugar regulation and stimulating metabolism. High carbohydrate breakfast foods like waffles, pancakes, french toast, pastries, breakfast cereal, and bagels might be delicious, but they are better viewed as desserts than as breakfast food, and are not an ideal way to start the day. When we eat foods that are high in refined sugar and carbohydrates, they are broken down and absorbed as glucose, which sends our blood sugar soaring. This then triggers the release of insulin, a hormone that moves glucose into storage as fat or into muscle tissue for later use. Because our blood sugar was abnormally high, it will now dip much lower once the insulin has completed its job. This is why we feel hungry, maybe even "hangry" or shaky within two hours of eating breakfast, and we crave what.... more carbs! So we reach for a mid-morning bagel, a granola bar, or some other high carbohydrate snack, and thus the cycle of dysregulated blood sugar continues. The other consequence of this unhealthy cycle is excess weight as our bodies becomes dependent on glucose for fuel rather than burning fat.

     A question I frequently get from my clients when discussing this topic is "So, what do you eat for breakfast?" It varies, but I might make pasture raised organic eggs with avocado and salsa or basil pesto; an egg scramble with sweet potato, spinach, and preservative-free chicken sausage; or a protein smoothie. Like I tell my clients, it's great if you can get leafy greens into every meal, including breakfast. I vary my meals based on the seasons and what I feel my body needs, but I always make sure to start the day with healthy fats and protein. I do this to boost my fat metabolism, versus eating something that's going to spike my blood sugar and increase fat storage. I tailor dietary recommendations to each individual client based on their lifestyle and their body's unique needs, which means the foods that's best for you might be different than what's best for me.

     Check out my Pumpkin Spice Protein Smoothie recipe below-- it's low in sugar and high in protein, fiber, and healthy fats. It's also DE-licious (no, you can't taste the spinach) and keeps me full for hours. Definitely a fall favorite!

 

Pumpkin Spice Protein Smoothie

(Makes 1 serving)

·      ½ cup Organic pureed pumpkin

·      1 Scoop chocolate protein powder (I use Garden of Life brand Organic Plant Protein)

·      1 Tbsp. Almond butter

·      3 Walnuts

·      Handful of fresh spinach

·      Pumpkin pie spice to taste

·      2 Ice cubes

·      Optional: 1 Scoop Collagen Peptides (by Vital Proteins). Collagen promotes good digestive health, joint health, and strengthens hair and nails. 

Blend all well and serve immediately.

 

*Nutritionist Tip: For a smoothie or other liquid food like soup, be sure to "chew" your liquids well and allow your food to spend some time in your mouth where  digestive enzymes in your saliva can begin the breakdown process for better nutrient absorption and digestion.

 

By Kristy Malone, MS, NTP

Editors: Dr. Nikodemas McNulty, ND and Verena Eckstein

Trick or Treat with the Nutritionist

     When it comes to nutrition there is a LOT of information out there, and not all of it is accurate or health promoting. In the spirit (pun intended) of Halloween, we're going to debunk some common nutrition myths that "trick" people, and I'll share one of my favorite treat recipes. 

Trick: Weight management is simply a matter of calories in and calories out.

     It's a common misconception that the key to a healthy weight is ensuring that the amount of calories consumed are equivalent or less than the amount of calories burned. Just ask anyone who has ever tried and failed to lose weight through a calorie-restricted diet. In reality it's not the amount of calories that matter as much as the quality and the nutrient content.

     The standard American diet (or "SAD"— and indeed it is!) is deficient in nutritious whole foods, and instead is heavy in processed foods containing preservatives, artificial food dyes, artificial sweeteners, highly refined vegetable oils and genetically modified ingredients. These ingredients are not suitable fuel for our bodies and are associated with weight gain and a host of chronic health issues. For example, half of an avocado is roughly 160 calories and is loaded with nutrients; while a package of Hostess Twinkie Bites is only 100 calories, contains little nutritious value, and has over 40 highly processed ingredients.

     Instead of restricting calories, start avoiding heavily processed foods, and try increasing the colors you eat. I encourage my clients to "eat the rainbow" by getting as many vibrant colors on a plate as they can. For example, picture a delicious grilled wild-caught salmon fillet over greens with cherry tomatoes, shredded carrots, sliced avocado, and a baked sweet potato with grass-fed butter. Now picture your standard pre-packaged frozen meal that's labeled as "low-calorie" and "low-fat".  There aren't many colors, and these meals are loaded with preservatives and artificial flavors designed to imitate the taste of real food. While this meal might be significantly lower in calories than the salmon meal, it is far less nutrient dense, not likely to keep you full for long, and is not conducive to a sustainable healthy weight. Don't be tricked into counting calories—treat your body to real food!

 

Trick: Low-fat diets will help you lose weight.

     Now this is a scary one! While the low-fat fad that gained popularity in the 90's has largely been rejected by the scientific community, many people still have difficulty letting go of the idea that eating fat is going to make them fat. The data shows that rates of obesity and diabetes among Americans only increased during the low-fat craze, so clearly it didn't work for us.

     The truth is that dietary fat is crucial for overall health as well as for weight management. Fat makes us feel satiated because it makes food taste good, takes longer to digest, and serves as slow-burning fuel for sustained energy. If you've ever tried a low-fat diet you probably remember feeling frequently hungry and unsatisfied. The other problem is that when fat is lacking in the diet, we tend to run more on sugar and refined carbohydrates, which only causes the body to hold onto fat while leading to blood sugar dysregulation, energy crashes, and cravings. Fat is also crucial for a healthy gallbladder, hormone balance, and detoxification. Some good sources of quality fat to treat yourself to are coconut oil, olive oil, pastured eggs (always eat the yolks!), nuts and seeds, avocados, grass-fed butter, full-fat organic dairy, pastured meats and wild-caught fish.

 

Treat: My Grain-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies!

     I truly believe that food is meant to be enjoyed, and treats are an important part of a healthy lifestyle. However, in order to "treat" your body rather than "trick" it with highly processed foods that will only leave you feeling sick I recommend being selective about what you indulge in, and making treats yourself is the best way to do that. These cookies are gluten-free, grain-free, and can be modified to be dairy-free. But do they taste good? All I can say is that I've never had trouble getting rid of a batch, or seen anyone stop at just one cookie! While not sugar free, this recipe uses minimally-processed whole food ingredients that include healthy fats and fiber.

 

Grain-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes approximately one dozen 

Ingredients:

2 medium sized bananas

1/2 cup cashew butter

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup butter, softened

1 cup coconut flour

1/4 tsp. sea salt

1/3 cup chocolate chips

 

Directions

Mash the bananas until liquified with a fork or food processor, then add the rest of the ingredients and stir well until combined. Roll into balls and place onto a greased cookie sheet, then use a spatula to push them flat, as they will not expand at all—they will come out exactly the same size and shape as they go in. Sprinkle additional sea salt on top of the cookies, then cook 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees. Be sure not to overcook! They will still seem doughy when the timer goes off, but you don’t want to cook them beyond the slightest hint of browning around the edges.

These cookies will remain soft and store very well for days. This recipe can easily be modified to be dairy-free by omitting the butter and adding an additional 1/4 cup of cashew butter, and by using dairy free chocolate chips.

 

By Kristy M. Malone, MS, NTP  

Editors: Dr. Nikodemas McNulty, ND and Verena Eckstein

 

Sources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Meta-analysis+of+prospective+cohort+studies+evaluating+the+association+of+saturated+fat+with+cardiovascular+disease

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24723079http://www.foodandnutritionresearch.net/index.php/fnr/article/view/5144

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/24/magazine/the-extraordinary-science-of-junk-food.html?pagewanted=all&_r=4&

http://www.uncommon-wellness.com/grain-free-chocolate-chip-cookies.html

 

Powerful Plants: Bitters for Your Bowels

Absinthe has gained a reputation as a dangerous, hallucinatory substance, but that is far from its original use as a bitter. Made with wormwood, green anise and fennel, absinthe was originally intended for use in small quantities as an aperitif, a liqueur consumed before meals to help stimulate digestion. While the absinthe available today may or may not contain the same ingredients, these botanical herbs are still used to aid digestive issues.

Aperitifs and digestifs have been consumed for centuries in Europe. In Germany they are known as Kräuterlikör or “herb liqueur” and in Italy as Amaro, which literally means “bitter.” In Italy, the popular liquor Aperol is an aperitif that contains bitter orange, cinchona and gentian, one of the strongest botanical bitters. 

These liqueurs are called bitters because the herbs have a bitter taste that stimulate your gallbladder to release bile, triggering the digestive process. The reason for this mechanism is that if someone ingests a bitter plant there is a high likelihood that it is poisonous, so the body responds by speeding up the digestive process to ensure the potentially toxic plant moves through the system as quickly as possible.

Today, bitter herbs are still used medicinally for digestive complaints, such as gas, bloating, constipation and indigestion. By increasing the activity of your bowels, bitters can be an effective way to combat constipation, low appetite, nausea, gas and bloating.

Do you sometimes experience gastric irritation? Here are three herbs commonly recommended:

  1. Anise (Artemisia absinthium) — A carminative, which decreases abdominal cramping, gas and bloating.  It has a sweet, aromatic taste that resembles black licorice. It is available in herbal form as a tea or in a tincture to be taken orally.
  2. Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) — A bitter to stimulate digestion and decrease constipation. This flowering herb has a pungent smell and grows wild in fields almost anywhere in the world. Its leaves and flowers can be dried and used as a tea or made into a tincture.
  3. Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) — A carminative, which decreases abdominal cramping, gas and bloating. It is a pleasant-smelling, flowering plant originally from the Mediterranean. Its seeds can be made into a tea or a tincture.

 

To receive a custom herbal formulation for your digestive symptoms contact Dr. McNulty

 

By Nikodemas McNulty, ND and Verena Eckstein

Powerful Plants: 8 Herbs to Beat the Blues and Boost Your Mood

Ancient Chinese and Egyptian written recordings describe medicinal uses for plants as early as 3,000 B.C.E. Today more and more people are looking to herbs to reach an optimal state of health and wellness. 

According to Nikodemas McNulty, ND, a first-year resident at Bastyr University Clinic, it is possible to boost your mood and beat the blues using herbs. In his practice, he often prescribes the following herbal remedies for patients with minor depression, nervousness and stress:

  • St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum), is one of the most extensively studied herbs for mental health. It is thought to be the most effective for mild to moderate depression, anxiety and seasonal affective disorder. Hypericum may take upward of four weeks for you to feel its effects.
  • Milky Oat (Avena sativa), is thought to feed and strengthen the nervous system. It is especially good for people who are emotionally and physically rundown due to fatigue, anxiety and depression.
  • Lavender (Lavendula officinalis), has been used throughout the ages to calm and soothe the nervous system. Its essential oils are believed to reduce stress headaches when inhaled and it is often used to relax the nervous system and reduce insomnia.
  • Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis), is thought to lift the spirits and work as a mild anti-depressant by reducing restlessness, palpitations, anxiety and headaches. It is often used to treat these condition in hyperthyroidism patients but should be used with caution in individuals living with hypothryoidism.
  • Chamomile (Matricaria recutita), often enjoyed as a nighttime tea has been used throughout time as a mild nervous system sedative.
  • Wu Wei Zi (Schisandra chinensis), also known as the Chinese five flavors herb, works as an adaptogen to allow the nervous system and the adrenal glands to adapt and deal with physiologic stress in the body.
  • Passionflower (Passiflora incarnate), is very soothing and has a sedative effect. This herb is good for anxious people and those living with insomnia as it has a depressant effect on central nervous system activity.
  • Kava Kava (Piper methyisticum), works as a sedative to calm the nervous system and reduce nervousness and stress. This herb should be used with caution in high doses if you have liver issues.

To receive a custom herbal formulation to boost your mood contact Dr. McNulty.

By Dr. Nikodemas McNulty, ND and Erin Rhae Biller

Powerful Plants to Beat the Flu

Are your co-workers and friends getting sick? Worried you’ll be next? Luckily, there are ways to boost your immune system and reduce the chances of getting sick – herbs. 

For thousands of years, herbs have been used to treat illness as well as prevent it. A crucial factor to avoid getting sick this winter is prevention: supporting your body’s natural immune function so that it can keep you healthy. Echinacea and elder are two herbs that can help strengthen immune function and help prevent you from coming down with the flu. 

Why Echinacea and Elder work

Echinacea stimulates the immune system. It is antimicrobial and regulates inflammation. It is best when used daily during cold and flu season for prevention of illness. 

Elder comes from elderberries and contains proanthocyanadins, which are anti-microbial and also boost the function of the immune system. It also contains antioxidant flavonoids that protect cells and fight off invaders. Elder has been used for hundreds of years as a flu treatment.  Research has shown improvement of flu symptoms with elder due to its anti-viral effects. Elder works best when taken within 24 hours of symptom onset.

Why not antibiotics?

The flu, as well as the common cold, is caused by viruses. Antibiotics are able to kill bacteria, but not viruses. Antibiotics would only be necessary if your flu progressed to a bacterial infection.

How to use them

Elderberry or Echinacea Tea: perfect for those crisp winter nights.

  • Available prepackaged at your local health food store.
  • Make your own tea by steeping 1 tablespoon of dried herb in 1 cup of water. Try mixing in ginger, cinnamon, clove or other herbs for added flavor.

Elderberry Syrup: so delicious you’ll want to take it year-round! This syrup can be refrigerated in a sealed jar for up to three months.

  • Add 1 cup elderberries to 2 cups of boiling water. Simmer for 30 minutes.  Consider adding cinnamon, clove, or minced fresh ginger for added health benefit and taste.
  • Strain out berries and return liquid to pan.
  • Mix in ½ cup honey.
  • Enjoy 1 tablespoon daily for immune support. 

Echinacea and elder are also available as supplements and tinctures online and at health food stores.

To help beat the flu this winter season contact Dr. McNulty. 

By Dr. Nikodemas McNulty, ND and Verena Eckstein