The Herbal Pharmacist

Better Living, Naturally!

February 10, 2014
David Foreman
Comments Off

Achieving your Goals

My concepts are Foundational and Fundamental ideas on achieving your Goals.  Whether or not your goal is directly related to your health or not doesn’t really matter.  The information I share will help you in whatever your goals may be.  To reach your goal, you must first set your goal.  Your goal should be reasonable.  This may mean doing some homework on what is reasonable to achieve.  An example of an unreasonable goal would be for someone who has spent the last 10 years putting on an extra 50 pounds to set a goal of losing that weight in 30 days.  If you did your homework, you would learn that you should lose a pound to a pound and a half per week, which means it, may or should take you 33-50 weeks to shed those pounds.  If you set your goal (expectations) to be in a much shorter time frame that would be unattainable (as well as unhealthy) and usually leads you to “give up” and fail.

The following are recommendations on how to help you set and reach your goal(s):

  1. Define your goal
  2. Outline the steps needed
  3. Set a timeline
  4. Ask for Help
  5. Consider possible delays or roadblocks
  6. Reward yourself
  7. Put it in writing
  8. GO!
  9. Don’t give up!

Define your goal

 Don’t just say I want to lose weight.  Define your goal in a concrete way.  Recently, I decided I wanted to lose more weight because I thought I looked heavy on television.  I told myself I wanted to have the waist size I had when I graduated from college.  Your definition could be, “I want to lose 50 pounds” or “I want to fit into a size 8 dress”.  Whatever the goal is, be as specific you possibly can.

 Outline the steps needed

 Once you decide, “Where you want to go,” you need to figure out how you plan to get there.  This is just like taking a family vacation.  If you live in Tampa Florida and want to go to New York City for vacation, you need to plan ahead.  If I am driving, I need a road map or GPS to tell me how I am going to get there.  If you currently smoke 20 cigarettes per day and want to stop smoking, you need to decide if you are stopping cold turkey or tapering off them slowly.  You need to lay out your plan of attack.

Set a timeline

Once you have decided the steps you are going to take, you need to place them on a timeline.   My trip to NYC would include how far I want to drive in a day and where and when I will stop for overnight lodging, gas and food.  Without a timeline, I may only drive a few hours and stop for the day and then it would take me longer to get to NYC.  But, maybe I do want to go slow and see more sights. Your goal and your timeline to reach your goal are up to you.  If you wish to stop smoking in 90 days, then you need to lay out your steps needed over the next 90 days to get you to your goal.  This could include planning the addition of new habits or nutritional supplements, increased activity or whatever you come up with in your outlined steps.

Ask for Help

 If you are having trouble, consult someone who knows more about the subject than you do.  You can ask for help on all aspects of your goal- from helping to define it better, outlining the steps, setting your timeline and showing you potential roadblocks.  I am pretty sure that someone who has been in your shoes before is willing to help you get where you want to go.

Consider possible delays or roadblocks

 This part of goal setting often gets overlooked and is a major reason people never reach their intended goal.  Example: You want to lose 30 pounds in the next 7 months.  You forgot to consider that your birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s all occur during this period and may affect your timeline.  Unless you commit to your program equally during each week, you need to account for these speed bumps.  Or, you may get sick and not be able to get the activity you are supposed to for a week or two.  There are many potential delays and you need to be aware of what they are and how to prepare for them.  I have heard so many people say “I was doing great until….we went on vacation…I got sick…my son moved back in with me…” The list is endless.  Like a boy scout- be prepared.

Reward yourself

 This should be a regular event.  I practice what I preach, but I still reward myself. (This is what I preach now.)  I may tell people to not eat refined foods, but I may use sugar in my coffee or have a small piece of desert once a week.  Whatever it is, reward yourself for good behavior.  You should build this into your outline and timeline.  For every 4 pounds I lose, I can take 1 day off from activity.  Or, if you smoked a pack of cigarettes per day, you could reward yourself with some treat equal to the amount of money you would have spent on that habit.  At about 4 dollars a pack that would be $28 a week, $120 per month and $1460 per year saved for your treat.

Write it all down

 Writing your goals out may be the most important step.  Write down exactly what you want to achieve and post it in a place where you will see it every day.  This will help remind you of what you’re working toward.  When you write, use positive terms.  For example, instead of writing, “I will stop eating junk food,” re-word your goal in more positive terms: “I will make healthy food choices.”   Write down everything mentioned above.  Keep it close to your heart and you will do great things with your health and your life.

 GO

 The next step I recommend is to set yourself in motion.  Too often I run into people who “want” to change something in their life yet continue to do the same things day in and day out.  For things to change in your life, You Must Change.  Set yourself in motion means don’t just think about it or talk about it, but do it. I have been teaching my children that saying something is not as good as showing me with their actions.  Too often we get caught up in the “daily grind” and lose sight that we still are in the same place we were months ago.  The burden/ responsibility of your change is yours and no one else’s.  YOU only have only yourself and your GOD.  My phrase above says “YOU must change.”

No one else can get you to the finish line.  The sooner you set yourself in motion, the quicker you will get where you want to go.

Never Give UP!

The final step is: Don’t Give Up!  My favorite story to tell my children is the tortoise and the hare.  Slow and steady wins the race.  Just as I mentioned above, you need to set yourself in motion and then keep it going.  If you fall off the wagon, get on again.  I remember years ago when I realized I talked a good game, but I didn’t walk the talk.  One of the many things I needed to improve on was increasing my activity.  I hopped on my exercise bike and lasted 8 minutes.  I knew in order to practice what I preached, I needed to ride for 30 minutes a day. I didn’t quit.  I stuck with it and every week or so I added time to my ride.  I worked my way back into shape.  If I had gone straight to 30 minutes, I might have hurt myself and then I wouldn’t have been able to do anything.  Go slow and don’t give up!

If you take time to utilize these tools, not only will you be successful with your Cardiovascular Health Goals, but you will also succeed in other areas.  I utilize these tools in every aspect of my life.  My goal is to constantly change things in my health and other aspects of my life.  Years ago I spoke at a conference in Orlando, Florida and asked the audience to promise to change something in their lives that would impact their health in a positive manner.  I then looked at myself and realized that I, too, had many things to change.  Experts suggest that it takes 28 days for any change to become a habit.  So now, I try to change one thing in my life every 28 days, then I can move on to improve or change something else. Whether it is becoming more spiritual, remembering to take your supplements, getting more activity or not eating refined foods ever day, it all will come back to make you a happier, healthier individual.

December 10, 2013
David Foreman
Comments Off

Heart Disease Help!

Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of Americans each year. Over 1 million people die each year from this dreadful disease.  By now, most of us have heard that a diet rich in cold-water fish (high in Omega-3s) is recommended to help prevent heart disease. I believe in utilizing a fish oil supplement to get these heart health benefits. Using an Omega-3 supplement assures me of getting concentrated benefits of consuming fish: cardiovascular, skin health, vision, brain and joint health-without the potential exposure to heavy metals and other contaminants found in fish.

Combining CoQ-10 (or Ubiquinol for those over 45) with your Omega-3 supplement is a great way to raise the bar on supporting your cardiovascular system.  I consider CoQ-10 (Ubiquinol) to be the “heart healthy” antioxidant.  The grandfather of all antioxidants for heart health is in these two ingredients.

Green Tea is often overlooked in heart health, but is one of my favorites for addressing many of the potential cardiovascular challenges.  It is high in antioxidants, has shown to help with blood pressure, cholesterol and even weight issues.  Yes, being overweight is a major contributing factor to cardiovascular disease and consuming 3-5 cups per day will definitely go a long way to helping protect your body from the many reasons people die from cardiovascular disease.  If you don’t like the idea of drinking your green tea, look into getting an extract or capsule form.

Hawthorn is my go-to-herb for heart health.  Hawthorn is considered a tonic (remember that Tonics are supportive and nourishing and slightly medicinal for a specific organ of the body) for the whole cardiovascular system. Even people like me who have no issues with high blood pressure or heart disease can get a huge benefit from hawthorn because of its effects (subtle as they may be).

Carnipure is the pure form of l-carnitine.  Taking 500mg two times per day helps your body’s energy levels, fat metabolism and muscle health.  (It does more, but for this article I am stopping here).  This supplement became part of my heart health program about 2 years ago and I am not changing now.

Last but not least let’s talk Sytrinol.  Sytrinol is the name of the ingredient and can be found by itself or in many combination products at your local store.  Sytrinol helps your body achieve health cholesterol levels (good and bad), Triglycerides and has powerful cardiovascular antioxidant effects.  Sytrinol became part of my heart health program about 2 years ago too.  An ounce of prevention is worth….a longer life to me.

You may look back over this article and wonder if these can or should be used together.  The answer is a resounding YES.  If it works for me, it can work for you.

December 4, 2013
David Foreman
1 Comment

Sports Nutritional Help

How sporty are you?

 

Whether you are a weekend warrior or a world class athlete, your needs for additional supplementation is critical and perhaps life saving. Yes, life saving!

Years ago I experienced something that until only a few years ago actually made sense to me. In my last year of pharmacy school I was finishing my clinical rotations in Greenville South Carolina at a major hospital. Part of my training was in an oncology unit at the hospital. One day on rounds, we were introduced to a man who was as like to say “on his way to a better place”. As we left his hospital room, the doctor doing rounds turned and said he was amazed that this man could have gotten cancer. He was a marathon runner and considered to be one of the best he ever knew. “How could someone with that kind of physical fitness get cancer?”

That is a great question, BUT if you go back to my 4-Pillars of Great Health, activity is only 1 of the 4-Pillars which are all equal parts. You need to have balance in your life in order to truly be healthy. What is even more important is to understand what you are truly doing to your body when you place it under that much activity.  Going back to my favorite analogy, the body is like a car. If you run your car at 20 miles per hour for an hour it will produce a little exhaust-true? If you run the same care at 100 miles per hour your will produce an extreme amount of exhaust-true? If you don’t vent that exhaust-or neutralize it-your car will begin to run poorly and in severe cases stop running completely. Your body is the same way. If you do a ton of exercise, you will produce much more exhaust (free radical damage) than someone who does just 30 minutes of brisk walking per day. It is for this reason that I believe the man died of cancer. Perhaps he didn’t do anything to neutralize the harmful effects of the exhaust he was producing. Too many times, I run into people who are marathon runners or tri-athletes and their skin is wrinkled, poor color, hair and nails look horrible and just don’t look healthy. Maybe their body looks fit, but I see beyond that picture and realize that they are on a collision course to major health challenges.

I think the above reasoning and other poor nutritional choices are the underlying link to why so many professional athletes die earlier than the rest of the population. Since antioxidants are part of the Dietary Supplement Pyramid, we will start there. As mentioned in past newsletters, most of us need a general antioxidant blend to maintain good health. I use New Chapter’s Super Critical Antioxidant blend, but for those of you with a particular special need, a broad spectrum antioxidant may not be right for you. With regards to sports nutrition, you need to go beyond taking just a broad spectrum antioxidant. You need to be aggressive with your antioxidant choices and quantities depending on the level of cardiovascular activity you are doing. If you do just 30 minutes per day of cardiovascular activity you can probably get away with a general antioxidant. If you do 1-2 hours per day or 3-4 hours per day the number of antioxidants and amounts of each will increase proportionally.

The following antioxidants are some of my top choices for those of you who do more than just 30 minutes of brisk walking per day.

 

Vitamin, Mineral, Misc.

  • CoQ10
  • Ubiquinol
  • Selenium
  • C
  • E
  • Zinc
  • Alpha Lipoic Acid
  • L-Cysteine

Botanical

  • Green Tea
  • Turmeric
  • Grape seed Extract
  • Cran-Max
  • Ginkgo Biloba

This list could go be much larger. Of those listed above, I prefer to use CoQ10 in doses above 200mg on days that I do at least an hour of cardiovascular activity. This helps decrease fatigue during your workout and helps to improve/speed your recovery time.  Other antioxidants such as Turmeric not only help neutralize free radical damage, but also help reduce inflammation. This added benefit will help protect the majority of your Structural system (muscles, connective tissue, etc.) from damage done during your workout.  The bottom line is to make sure you are taking the right amount and type of antioxidants needed to support your sports nutrition needs.

 

Keep your muscle-burn the fat

Along with fats and carbohydrates, protein is a “macronutrient,” meaning that the body needs relatively large amounts of it.  Vitamins and minerals, which are needed in only small quantities, are called “micronutrients.”  But unlike fat and carbohydrates, the body does not store protein, and therefore has no reservoir to draw on when it needs a new supply.  When protein intake is adequate to meet our normal daily requirements and no more, a condition known as nitrogen equilibrium is experienced. When one is deprived of adequate protein, negative nitrogen balance occurs.  Negative nitrogen balance is bad news.  When you’re sick, injured or on low calorie or poor quality diet, your body tries to fill its nutritional void by cannibalizing itself, a process also known as catabolism.  The body actually eats its own muscle tissue (heart and lungs included) to extract the amino acids it needs to operate.  Protein deficiency can lead to symptoms such as fatigue, insulin resistance, hair loss, loss of hair pigment (hair that should be black becomes reddish), loss of muscle mass, low body temperature, and hormonal irregularities.  Severe protein deficiency can be fatal.

I recommend trying to reach a positive nitrogen balance.  Positive nitrogen balance simply means your tissues are getting more protein, and retaining more nitrogen than is being eliminated daily.  This state may be achieved by a true health enthusiast, someone who eats correctly all the time and exercises regularly.  However, too much protein can cause problems as well.  High protein diets, particularly those that emphasize fatty meats, can cause issues with high cholesterol, heart disease, cancer, diabetes and kidney problems.  Additionally, there may be issues with toxins related to hormone treatments, antibiotics, or processing.  High protein diets have also been linked to liver dysfunction from increased toxic residues and bone loss due to increased acidity in the blood.

 

So how much is enough?

Obviously, achieving a balance is crucial, so what are the latest recommendations on protein consumption?  Nutrition experts recommend that protein, as a source of amino acids, should account for 10–12% of the calories in a balanced diet. However, requirements for protein are affected by age, weight, state of health, and other factors.  Ideally, you should consume 0.36 grams of protein for every pound of body weight, according to Recommended Daily Allowances (RDA) set by the Food and Nutrition Board.  So if you weigh 170 pounds, you need about 61 grams of protein each day. These requirements will change based on your type of activity. I recommend consuming anywhere from 1 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight. Your body needs more calories to support or maintain your ideal weight when you are participating in regular activity. For example: If you are cycling for an hour every day, your needs for more protein will increase. Your body will need the added protein to help repair and maintain the muscles that you just used for that activity. Without proper protein intake, your body will not have the tools it needs to take care of itself.

 

What type of protein do you need?

That is the multi-million dollar question. It depends?? In an attempt to get protein from better food sources, many individuals have turned to protein supplements.  These supplements are increasingly used not only by athletes, but also by health conscious people of all ages to maintain a healthy body.  Most protein supplements contain purified proteins not accompanied by fat, carbohydrates, or other ingredients.  The most commonly used sources for supplement proteins are plant proteins like soy protein or animal proteins like the milk proteins, casein and whey, or egg protein. Until recently, athletes had to consume their protein several hours in advance of their workout due to the time it takes for the body to digest and absorb the amino acids that make up protein. This digestive process is why most athletes cannot consume protein during their work out. Also, these supplements can cause other problems such as gas, bloating and other types of allergies and sensitivities. Recently, DSM launched a new protein supplement (PeptoPro®) which is soluble in water, broken down into small particles that can be immediately absorbed and is virtually hypoallergenic. This means that athletes and weekend warriors can use this protein before, during and after working out and get immediate benefits.

 

The mother of all amino Acids!! l-Glutamine

l-Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in your body. Glutamine has multiple actions in the body. First it assists the body in moving nitrogen into your muscle cells. L-Glutamine is also helpful at helping you muscles recover post-workout. When you are participating in strenuous activity, your body is using glutamine more rapidly than it can be produced. This will directly impact your ability to recover and decrease your muscle strength. An added benefit of l-Glutamine is its impact on the immune system. We know that increased activity (30-minutes of brisk walking/day) will improve immune function. Regretfully, too much activity can cause the opposite effect. It is well known that a large portion of marathon runners will get sick soon after running the big race because of the impact that much activity had on their immune system. I recommend taking 5 grams of L-Glutamine two times daily after extended periods of exercise.

More Muscle and energy support-Creatine

Creatine (creatine monohydrate) is used in muscle tissue for the production of phosphocreatine-an important factor in the formation of ATP- the source of energy for muscle contraction and many other functions in the body. The body naturally produces Creatine but not in the amounts necessary to support those in high intensity sports and training and therefore supplementing is needed. Creatine supplementation has shown to improve performance in short duration, high intensity exercise (weight lifting, cycling, sprinting etc.) Dosing of Creatine is important-First, you need to consume about 20 grams per day for the first 3-5 days. Once you have achieved your “loading dose”, using about 5-10 grams per day should give you the added benefits you want. One word of caution, Creatine may not be well tolerated by the kidneys and digestive system. If you already have problems with kidney function this supplement should be avoided. If you plan to use this supplement daily, I recommend increasing your water intake above the normal ½ your body weight in ounces per day to about 2/3s of your body weight. (ex. 200 pound person=132 ounces of water/day) Digestively, I have met too may people (especially women) who complain of bloating and even diarrhea from the use of this supplement.

Water as a supplement??

Staying hydrated is very important to our health and wellbeing.  As little as a 1 to 2 percent decrease in fluids can lead to difficulty concentrating. A 3 percent decrease in fluids will cause your coordination to decrease as well. Staying hydrated is key to getting the most from your body as well as keeping it healthy. Sweat is the way in which your body cools In addition to hydrating; we also need to look at Electrolytes. Electrolytes, such as potassium, sodium and chloride, are nutrients that are important for maintaining the body’s fluid balance. Since electrolytes are lost through sweat it is important that you replace them regularly. Whether you chose sports drinks, juices or get them through fruits and veggies doesn’t matter-Just get them!  If you dehydrate and stop perspiring, you are in danger of overheating.

 

What about Repair and Recovery?

Repair and recovery can mean so many different things when it comes to sports nutrition. Are you trying to repair muscle, ligaments, tendons or are you trying to recover from an injury or from your workout more quickly. Let’s boil it down like this:

Protein- Muscle repair

Celadrin- Joint lubrication/inflammation fighter

Arnica-Sprains and Strains

L-carnitine (L-Carnipure®) – Muscle recovery

Turmeric- antioxidant and inflammation fighter

Bromelain- Muscle, Joint inflammation and bruising

Glucosamine Sulfate- Connective tissue repair and maintenance

CoQ10/Ubiquinol- Muscle Recovery

Horse chestnut- Muscle inflammation, damage

Cayenne- topical application promotes healthy circulation and pain reduction

Fish Oil- Inflammation, pain and Joint Health

AKG (alpha-ketoglutarate)- healing of muscle tissue.

Magnesium- decrease Muscle Cramps

L-Arginine- Muscle repair

ResistAid- Science shows us that supporting the immune system helps with the repair process…. especially post strenuous activity.

This list can get a bit crazy. There are an abundance of supplements that can help with repair and your recovery time. Consult with your health enthusiast for the product that is right for you. It is essential to treat the body with care. Diet-how you eat-is critical in repair and recovery.  With not enough protein, good fats and complex carbohydrates, the body will not run properly and can be damaged.

November 11, 2013
David Foreman
Comments Off

Urinary Tract Infections a.k.a UTIs

Urinary Tract Infections (UTI’s)

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are very common. It is estimated that just over 10 percent of women have this type of infection each year. It is also estimated that over half of women will have at least one UTI in their lifetime. What is even more serious are about 10 percent of women over the age of 70 will have chronic problems with UTIs. The reason I focus on women in this article is because other than infant children, the majority of UTIs occur in women. Of these women, most are middle-aged (whatever that is) and sexually active. When we get older, the incidence of UTIs is about equal regardless of what sex you are.

To better understand what a UTI is and how it may be treated or prevented you need to know what makes up your Urinary Tract. The urinary tract is the system in the body that carries urine out of the body. It is comprised of the kidneys, bladder and the tubes that connect everything. Most UTIs occur in the bladder and are called bladder infections. Bladder infections are usually not serious, but can be if left untreated or occur chronically. If the infection makes its way to your kidneys, your situation is more serious and permanent damage can be done.

Symptoms of UTIs vary depending on your threshold for pain and the severity and location of the infection. I always advise people to consult with their health care provider when there is any question or symptom. The following is a brief list of some of the more common symptoms:

  • You feel pain or burning when you urinate.
  • You feel like you have to go often, but not much urine comes out when you do.
  • Your belly feels tender or heavy.
  • Your urine is cloudy or smells bad.
  • You have pain on one side of your back under your ribs. This is where your kidneys are.
  • You have fever and chills.
  • You have nausea and vomiting.

What causes these infections?

In most cases bacteria get into your system through your urethra-the tube that carries urine from your bladder to the outside of your body. These bacteria often originate in your large intestine and are found in your stool. (the reason good hygiene is needed when using the bathroom) If these same bacteria make their way up the urethra, they can cause you to have either a bladder or kidney infection. One of the reasons women tend to get more bladder infections than men is because women have shorter urethras. The bacteria have much less distance to go before entering the bladder. Regretfully, sexual activity can make it easier for these little buggers to get into your urethra too.

Other contributing factors can be not drinking enough fluids, being pregnant or certain health challenges like diabetes, prostate enlargement and kidney stones.

So what can you do?

There are several easy steps to prevent ever getting a UTI. Many of these may seem like common sense, but I have learned that there are a ton of smart people who still don’t have any common sense.

  • Drink lots of water or herbal teas (no sugar or honey)
  • Urinate frequently (don’t hold it)
  • Wipe good (proper hygene goes a long way)
  • Avoid being constipated (see my past articles on digestion)
  • Avoid allergic/sensitive foods (dairy, gluten etc.)
  • Avoid sugar and other refined “white” foods

Besides those helpful preventative tips, the following supplement recommendations can be used either as a way to address a UTI if you have one or as a preventative course. One of the most popular supplements for UTI’s (even modern medicine recommends this) is the use of Cranberry.  The belief is that cranberry inhibits the bacteria from attaching to the bladder wall and therefore preventing the spread. Sad to say, most of the cranberry products buy are in the grocery store and contain little to no real cranberry and tons of sugar. To really get the benefits, I recommend using a cranberry extract (capsule, tablet or tincture). Scientific studies have shown us that regular consumption of cranberry can help decrease the amount of UTIs.  I personally recommend a specific extract of cranberry called Cran-Max.  Cran-Max has been studied head to head with low dose antibiotics for reoccurring infections and shown to hold it’s own.  Just one 500mg capsule per day did the trick. Don’t rely on juices or cocktails, get the extract with the science to show it works.

Other herbs like asparagus, birch, nettle and parsley have shown to be helpful. The fact that these herbs increase urine production may be there mechanism of action. This in-turn will increase your need to urinate and help flush your Urinary tract more regularly. The herb Uva Ursi is another popular herb for UTIs. Uva Ursi is used around the world for the treatment of bladder infections. An active compound found in this herb can be converted in the body into a natural antibiotic-specific to the Urinary Tract. As with any and all natural health programs, please consult with your health care provider prior to committing to your program.

Boosting immune function short term for the acute UTI or supporting it for the chronic cases is another great idea. Even though herbs mentioned above are more urinary tract specific. Using supplements like Esberitox, vitamin C, Echinacea, etc. can boost immune function quickly to help the body fight off infection. For long term use, I prefer the medicinal mushrooms like Maitake Reishi, AHCC or Beta-glucan (Wellmune). These supplements support the immune system over are considered safe and effective for extended use.

Finally, because a majority of UTIs are caused by bacteria that get into the urinary tract system from the large intestine (improper hygiene) I recommend using a probiotic. Probiotics are friendly bacteria that I have found useful for those concerned with UTIs.

November 6, 2013
David Foreman
Comments Off

Cold and Flu Help: The 4 Pillars of Health Approach

It is that time of the year again. Cold and Flu season is upon us.  In order to understand how to prevent or even treat the cold and flu, I though it might be better to explain how the immune system works and who the players really are. You don’t go to a cricket match or the theater without getting a program and you shouldn’t play doctor without understanding what you are really impacting.

The immune system, like any sports team has different players for different aspects of the game. In baseball we have pitchers, batters, infielders, outfielders, etc. With the immune system, we have different players too. It is also a vast network of tissues, organs, cells and chemicals. Our bone marrow, thymus gland, tonsils (why have them removed?), lymph nodes, lymphocytes (white blood cells) phagocytes, natural killer cells, antibodies and interferon all play the game we call immunity.

There are two types of immunity protecting our body: innate and adaptive. Innate immunity exists at birth and gives us our first line of defense against disease. The skin, mucus secretions, and the acidity of the stomach are examples of innate immunity. Adaptive immunity is our second line of defense. We acquire this immunity as we go thru life. The adaptive immune system remembers foes from the past and is therefore ready to defeat them when exposed to them again.

What’s your approach going to be this season?

There are two approaches to the cold and flu season: Pay me now…or…Pay me later.  The “pay me now” approach is proactive and focuses on building a strong immune system. The “pay me later” approach involves waiting until you are already getting sick to take action.  On a recent trip to Puerto Rico, I toured several amazing forts built 4-500 years ago. These forts were built to protect the island from foreign invaders (back then it was the Dutch). The Spanish saw a need to prepare for the potential attack and not wait until it was too late.  Our approach to cold and flu season can be looked at in the same manor; spend time now building a strong immune system (fort) for the eventual attack by the enemy (Viruses and bacteria) or wait until it is too late and suffer.

The 4-Pillars of Health: Diet, Exercise, Spirituality and Complimentary Medicines

I believe that in order to truly be healthy we need to have an equal balance of all four of these areas. If you have a car with one flat tire, you can still drive it, but it won’t be easy to keep it on the road. The same holds true with my 4-Pillars.  Each pillar that is not followed is like having 1 more flat tire on your automobile.  The more flat tires, the harder it is to drive the car and get where you wish to go.  Let’s take a closer look at how these 4 Pillars plays a role in the upcoming cold and flu season.

Diet

With regards to immune system support, here’s where you need to focus: Avoid Sugar- (this includes other “white” foods like pasta, bread, cake, etc. and honey).  These types of foods make your immune cell “stupid” and ineffective at fighting off diseases for extended periods of time.  Why do you think our children get sick after birthday parties and holidays? Dairy is also evil due it’s effect on thickening mucous (thick mucous leads to infections). Eliminate all “man”-ipulated foods from your home.  What should you eat? A diet high in fruits (not store bought juices-they are high in sugar), vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, fish and lean cuts of meats.

Exercise

Adding in 30 minutes per day of brisk walking (walking at a pace that makes it more challenging to carry on a conversation-almost short of breath) will have a profound impact on boosting your immune function.  Science has repeatedly shown us that getting regular exercise will improve our overall immune function.  The impact on our immune system is two-fold: Increased immune cell production and stress reduction.  Stress (emotional and physical) is one of the leading causes of a weakened immune system.

Spirituality

I am a firm believer in being spiritually connected and grounded.  Whether you are a Christian like me or have other beliefs that you follow, spirituality will help you during this cold and flu season.  Science has proven the impact of prayer on immune health.  I have found in my own life that being spiritually grounded also reduces stress (mentioned above) and helps me keep a healthy outlook.  The mind/body connection also falls into this area.  Numerous studies have been done showing the connection between positive thinking and improved immune health.

Complementary medicines (I call them supplements)

Supplementation will have an amazing impact on your “pay me now” or “pay me later” approach to this cold and flu season.  I prefer to call this area supplementation because complementary medicines provide “supplemental” nutrients that are missing from our everyday diets.  Supplements not only provide key nutrients required for a healthy immune system, but also provide phytochemicals (phyto=plant) that either support or stimulate our immune function.   Supplements such as medicinal mushrooms (AHCC, Maitake, Reishi and Shitake), herbs (olive leaf, elderberry, garlic, oregano, etc.), nutraceuticals (Probiotics, ResistAid (larch arabinogalactan) etc.) vitamins (D3) and even a Neti pot (flushes away irritants from the sinus passages-where the infections usually start) all can be taken daily to help support the functionality and health of your immune system on a daily basis.  These all fall into the “pay me now” approach.

Supplements such as Echinacea, high dose vitamin C, Elderberry (yes it works fast too) and even Zinc are for those who decide to not live a healthy lifestyle and “pay me later”.  Supplements in this category “fire-up” the immune system quickly and will hopefully shorten the duration of the illness you are getting. These are to only be used for short periods of time (1-2 weeks).

The best approach to either method is to use a combination of these ingredients when addressing your immune health needs. Rarely will I use just one ingredient in working with any health challenge.  For example: At the Foreman household, I use ResistAid and probiotics year-round to support my immune system. ResistAid works on several levels of supporting my immune system.  Probiotics help keep my digestive system health.  Considering that it’s estimated that 60% or more of your immune health originates in your digestive system, keeping it healthy is critical for a year-round approach.  We keep supplements like Esberitox (contains Echinacea and more) around for those times when we let our guard down and don’t follow the 4-Pillars regularly (rarely happens for me personally but can’t always rely on my children to follow along).

Finally, don’t forget good hygiene.  Wash your hands- Goodness knows what all you have on your hands. I like grapefruit seed extract as my hand sanitizer.  When you are around someone with a cough or sneezing, stay at least 3 feet away if possible.  The cold and flu virus are usually airborne and when they come in contact with our mucous membrane (nose or mouth) is when we become potentially contagious.

October 29, 2013
David Foreman
Comments Off

Losing your mind? Memory issues?

Mental clarity issues are becoming a very hot topic these days. There are a multitude of reasons we can suffer from decreased “mental” power.  Issues like not enough sleep, stress, poor diet, lack of exercise and having too much on you mind are just a few of the more popular causes.  I joke with people that they “just have too many trains on the track” and that is why their thoughts aren’t clear.  Whatever the reason may be, natural medicine can offer some quick easy solutions to clearing up your mental fog.

A recent article that I read cited a survey of baby boomers revealed that we (I am one too) are more fearful of losing our memory, cognitive function, etc. than we are of death.  The results of this survey saddened me.  To think (not a pun) that dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are a bigger fear than death is shocking to me.  It is for this reason that I decide to revisit the topic and help put some of us at ease.

With regards to diet, cleaning up your diet is a great start. Eliminate refined foods like sugar, pasta and other “white foods” can have an immediate impact.  Avoiding the consumption of alcohol and caffeine will also be beneficial.  Even though caffeine will help in the short run (occasional use), it will have negative effects if used day after day. (Energy shots and Energy Drinks are contributing to the health decline here in the United States.)

Getting enough rest is another lifestyle choice that will help immediately.  Regretfully too many people just don’t make time for sleep or they have such an active mind that they can’t fall asleep. Keep in mind (pun intended this time) that your body heals and repairs itself in the hours you sleep.  If you struggle with falling or staying asleep, please refer to the article on sleep in this newsletter.

Increasing your activity (exercise) will also have an immediate impact on your mental clarity. I recommend 30 minutes of brisk walking every day.  By increasing your activity you will improve circulation to the brain and help take some of the stress away.  I find it a great way to clear your mind so you can focus on the things that are most important.

Focusing on what is most important brings me to another suggestion.  Write down all of the tasks that you have before you. Then, put them in order of priority and only work on the task that is at the top of the list.  I always say that scattered light isn’t very bright (powerful), but a laser beam (concentrated light) is very powerful.  Trying to take on too much at a time will make you have decreased mental clarity and inefficient.

The above lifestyle changes will help significantly and with the addition of supplements you will significantly improve your mental clarity.  Let’s take a look at a few that will have an immediate impact and can be used for extended periods of time.

B-Complex- Primarily B-6, folic acid and B-12 are important for neurotransmitter production. Since you should never take any one B-vitamin by itself I suggest using a B-Complex to get these three nutrients. Magnesium- I always recommend Magnesium be taken with B-Complex. B-vitamins work together with Magnesium in the process of balancing your neurotransmitters and helping you body adapt to the stress it may be under. By balancing your neurotransmitters, your body will have improved mental clarity-just give it a try.

Omega-3s- Fish Oil-more specifically DHA is considered the more important nutrient because DHA has been linked to improving memory, as well as many other aspects of mental health.

Ginkgo Biloba- This herb has long been considered the memory herb. Using 120mg per day of a standardized ginkgo will help clear up your mind.  Its ability to improve circulation is probably its best attribute, but it also possesses other health benefits beyond memory and mental clarity.

Sometimes just the aging process can decrease your mental clarity.  Here are a few supplements to look at if you fall into this category:

  • Acetyl-L-Carnitine 1500mg/day
  • Vinpocetine 30-60mg/day
  • Huperzine A 100-150mcg 2-3 times per day
  • Lecithin Granules 2 tablespoons twice a day
  • Lion’s Mane- This medicinal mushroom looks like the big winner for the topic of memory and aging concerns.  A specific extract of this is now available (Amyloban 3399) at your local Vitamin Shoppe.  At 48 I can feel/see the difference.
  • As long as we are talking medicinal mushrooms, Reishi and Cordyceps can a have an impact on memory concerns, especially for those who have too much going on in their lives (work, family, stress, etc.)

No matter what your age, mental clarity will most likely be an issue. As we fill our daily routine with more and more things it will become even more difficult to focus. Incorporating my suggestions will help your body and mind adjust to these burdens and keep you focused like a laser beam-not a 10 watt bulb.

October 21, 2013
David Foreman
Comments Off

Using Tonics to improve health

Using Tonics to improve your health

For over a year now, I have made the shift back to using mostly herbs as part of my supplement program.  My foundational supplements now include what are better known as tonics.  In short, tonics are herbal in nature and provide nutritional support to a particular area of the body.  The use of these herbs in their not-standardized-form provides key support for the health and function of that particular part of your body.  An example is Hawthorn.  Hawthorn berries are considered a cardiovascular system tonic when using modest doses of the “whole herb”.  I can also use this herb medicinally (more like a drug) when I take it in higher doses or as a standardized supplement.  Currently I am taking the Hawthorn to help support my cardiovascular system (heart, veins, arteries, etc.) nutritionally and in function.  I don’t expect it to lower my blood pressure or control my heart rate like it might do in higher doses, just to support my overall health.

Using tonic herbs helps bring balance to our body.  Being in balance is where we want to be.  When our body is in balance, everything is functioning as it was intended to.  Too often when we acquire a health challenge, our approach is to push hard in the opposite direction.  A good analogy is at your local playground- a seesaw.  If you have a heavy person on one end and a lighter person on the other, it will be out of balance.  In order to bring it in balance we put weight on the lighter end to push back in the opposite direction.  The end result is often a seesaw that is out of balance (the other person is up in the air).  But, if we gently put weight in the middle of the board, we are more likely to get the two people in balance without much effort.  Tonic herbs work in this manor.  Gently nudging the body back into balance.

If you have been struggling with a particular area of your health maybe it is time to switch to tonics.  Keep in mind thought that tonics do not act as “medicinally” as other supplements.  You will need to use them more often and for extended periods of time.  Here are some of the tonic herbs I am currently using: Ginseng, Turmeric, Hawthorn, Ashwaganda, Astragalus, Reishi, Cordyceps, Holy basil and Rhodiola.  There are probably others to list here; I just can’t remember them off the top of my head. (Maybe I need something for memory)  This list does not contain the only herbs you will find to be tonics, just the ones that I feel work best for my lifestyle. It would be best to consult with a store associate to find the tonic herbs that are best for your particular health needs.

Finally, the great thing about using tonics in your daily supplement program is that they usually mix well with your existing supplements.  Keep using many of your existing supplements with the added support of these tonics and you will be steps ahead on your path to better health.

For more health tips, info and podcasts.  Go to www.herbalpharmacist.com

Connect to my twitter @herbarph

January 3, 2013
David Foreman
1 Comment

New Year, New You 2013

New Year, New You!

New Year’s Eve has always been a time for looking back to the past, and more importantly, forward to the coming year. It’s a time to reflect on the changes we want (or need) to make and resolve to follow through on those changes.  Which of the following resolutions are you looking into this year?

  • Lose Weight
  • Get more Exercise
  • Quit Smoking
  • Learn Something New
  • Spend more time with Friends and Family
  • Enjoy Life more
  • Get out of Debt
  • Help Others
  • Quit Drinking
  • Get Organized

If you take a closer look at each one of these they all have link either direct or indirectly to your health.  We all understand the health benefits of increased exercise, stopping smoking and drinking, and losing weight have on us. How does Helping others, Enjoying Life More, Learning Something New, Getting Organized or even Getting out of debt fall make us healthier?  For one, they help us feel better about ourselves and reduce the amount of stress you have in your life.  In past posts I have discussed the negative effects (immune, cardiovascular, digestive, etc.) that stress can impose on your body. By helping to eliminate this added stress, you will have more energy and help your body deal with many of the other challenges it may have to deal with.

Set your Goal

My primary reason for writing this article is to provide you with Foundational and Fundamental ideas on achieving your New Years Goals.  Whether or not your goal is directly related to your health or not doesn’t really matter. The information to follow will help you in whatever your goals may be.  To reach your goal you must first set your goal. Your goal should be reasonable which may mean doing some homework on what is reasonable to achieve. An example would be someone who has spent the last 10 years putting on an extra 50 pounds and thinking they should lose that weight in 30 days.  If you did your homework you would learn that you should lose a pound to a pound and a half per week, which means it, may or should take you 33-50 weeks to shed those pounds. If you set your goal (expectations) to be in a much shorter timeframe-that would be unreasonable, unhealthy and usually lead you to “give up” and fail.

The following are the steps on how to help you set and reach your goal(s):

  1. Define your goal:  Be specific about what you want to achieve. How many pounds, timeframe, etc.?
  2. Outline the steps needed: Once you have decided, “where you want to go” you need to figure out how you plan to get there.  Map out the steps needed to reach your goal.
  3. Set a timeline: You goal and your timeline to reach your goal are up to you.
  4. Ask for Help: Consult someone who knows more about the subject than you do.  Asking for help can be used an all aspects of your goal.
  5. Consider possible delays or roadblocks: (a major reason people never reach their intended goal) There are many potential delays and you need to be aware of what they are and how to prepare for them.  I have heard so many people say “I was doing great until….we went on vacation…I got sick…my son moved back in with me…” The list is endless. Like a boy scout- be prepared.
  6. Reward yourself:  Build this into your outline and timeline. Example: For every 4 pounds I lose I can take 1 day off from activity. All work and no play make you a very unhappy person.
  7. Write it all down: This is the most important step. Write down exactly what you want to achieve and post it in a place where you will see it every day.
  8. Set yourself in motion:  For things to change in your life-You Must Change.  Set yourself in motion means don’t just think about it or talk about it but do it. The burden/responsibility of your change is yours and no one else’s. The sooner you set yourself in motion the quicker you will achieve your goal(s).

Whatever you do-Don’t Give Up!  My favorite story to tell my children is the tortes and the hare. Slow and steady wins the race.  Just as I mentioned above you need to set yourself in motion and then keep it going. Go slow and don’t give up!

December 26, 2012
David Foreman
Comments Off

Winter-Immune Support

We are now in the think of it-Cold weather and the winter months. Too often we wait until it is too late to address our immune system. You may not be aware that the incubation period for the Flu can vary from days to weeks. Exposure today may not mean that you develop symptoms for weeks.  This winter I am suggesting get ahead of the game. Here are some simple tips to avoiding the winter bug(s).

Supplements: Using certain supplements can give your immune system the added support it needs to fend of foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses.  The key work is “support”. There are two basic ways to address you immune system and its needs: Stimulate and Support. Supplements that stimulate the immune system are for short term use (a few weeks) and will cause in increase in production and activity of certain immune cells. Examples would be Echinacea and Vitamin C (higher doses). These types of supplements would be used at the first onset of symptoms and really provide no benefit for “preventing” problems this season.  They are more for the “pay me later” people who don’t like to be proactive and use preventative measures.

Support supplements are slower acting (take at least 3 days to start working) and can be used for extended periods of time (months).   These supplements provide key nutrients or components to make sure your immune system is functioning optimally. I prefer to use combination formulas to achieve this. Combination formulas will address the multiple facets of your immune system, giving you the broadest approach possible to preventing immune challenges. My preferred formulas are: Advanced Immune Support, Host Defense, Life Shield, Immunactive, etc.

Diet and Activity: these also play an important role in your long term immune health. Eating more whole foods (fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, etc.) and consuming little to no refined foods (white foods-rice, breads, pasta, sugar, honey, etc.) will have a profound impact on you immune system. Refined foods decrease the effectiveness of certain immune cells and in some cases can deactivate your immune function by 50 percent.  Why do you think our children get sick after birthday parties, holidays, Halloween, etc.? Increasing your activity (exercise) has shown to notably improve your immune shield.  30-45 minutes of brisk walking 5-7 days per week will add another significant component to your winter immune support.

Combining approaches is the key to staying healthy throughout the cold weather months. Just eating right, exercising or taking supplements alone are good, but combining all three together will assure you that you’re doing everything you can to avoid being sick this cold and flu season.

Stay healthy my friends!

October 4, 2012
David Foreman
Comments Off

Weight Loss & Supplements – What you should know.

For those of you who are regular readers of my blog, you know that I am not a big fan of supplements for weight loss. I decided to give my beliefs a rest and try to give you some helpful pointers on the safest supplements for helping you battle the bulge.  Before I get into the supplements, I feel like I need to explain why I don’t like the weight loss supplement category (much to the dismay of supplement manufacturers).  Bottom line-the majority of people who need to lose weight use supplement as a crutch instead of making the needed lifestyle changes to lose those extra pounds.

Admit it, it is much easier to pop a pill than to eat less and get more activity. (This is the secret to weight loss-consume fewer calories than you burn—unless you have a metabolic disorder) In order to lose one pound, you need to burn 3500 calories. Simply put, if you consume 500 fewer calories than you burn each day, you will lose 1 pound per week.  If you decide to incorporate my suggestion of 30 minutes of brisk walking into your equation, you will burn another 150 calories per day or another 3/10 of a pound each week. If you want to speed up the process, you need to either consume fewer calories or increase your activity.  The following are other activities and how many calories you may burn in 30 minutes (based on a 140 pound person) (go to www.my-calorie-counter.com for more detailed activities and calories burned):

  • Jogging- 225
  • Bicycling, 10-11.9 mph, leisure, slow, light effort-191
  • Elliptical Trainer Machine – Levels 11-14 – Light Effort -254.5
  • Swimming laps, freestyle, slow, moderate or light effort- 222.5

Obviously, the more difficult the activity, the more calories you will burn. Most experts (including me) recommend losing between 1-2 pounds per week. I recommend this pace for a few reasons:

  1. Rapid weight lose can cause you to lose muscle and not fat. Since muscle is what burns fat, the more you lose, the more your metabolic rate (burning of calories) will go down. Granted, the scale may say you lost weight, but it will be difficult for you to maintain due to your decreased metabolic rate.
  2. Rapid weight loss is usually followed by rapid weight gain.
  3. Rapid weight loss can put stress on major organs such as your heart and kidneys.

I was mentioning this article to a few of my friends and they all said that they didn’t want to lose weight my way because it would take too long. Funny thing is that when I asked them how long it took for them to gain their 20 or so extra pounds, they answered with 1 ½-2 years.  Do the math-this means that they averaged gaining 1 pound per month (1/4 pound per week). This also means that they averaged consuming 875 more calories per week than they burned.  My question to you is: why is it so unreasonable to lose the weight at 1-2 pounds per week. That means it will come off 4-8 times faster than you put it on.

I understand how difficult it is to take a look in the mirror and realize that the reason that something is wrong with me is because I caused it. Years ago, I stood in my bedroom and took a profile picture of myself with no shirt on (I was 20 pounds overweight). I used this as motivation to live/follow my 4-pillars of health.  Diet (how you eat), Activity, Spirituality and Supplementation.  Occasionally I show the picture to people, and they can’t believe it is me (I cut the head off of the picture).  See, I too once was overweight. But now, utilizing the techniques I teach, I am able to maintain the health I desire. (I learned a new lifestyle.)

Before I get to the supplements you should look for, here are some things you need to avoid:

  • Stay away from “fat-burners”-most if not all of these products contain stimulants like Guarana, caffeine or worse.  Stimulants may increase your metabolic rate, but often lead to other more serious problems like high blood pressure, insomnia or worse. These products often lead to rebound weight gain-similar to what happens with rapid weight loss. (Examples: Guarana, Kola Nut, Yerba Mate and Caffeine)
  • Avoid product that contain stimulant laxatives- this will help you lose some weight, but will have no impact on body fat. The 10-15 pounds you lose may just be excess waste in your bowel. I understand that this can be a good thing, but it is a false weight loss. (Ex. Cascara, Senna)
  • Avoid natural diuretics- Again; this will be false weight loss. I would rather have you avoid sodium (salt) and consume more water and fewer sodas or other beverages that may contribute to water weight. These natural diuretics aren’t harmful; I just think it is a waste. (Ex. Parsley, Asparagus, Dandelion)

For those of you who may need an extra boost to get started, here are my recommendations for ingredients to look for:

  • Garcinia cambogia (HCA)
  • Green Tea
  • Chromium
  • 7-KETO
  • CLA
  • Glucomannan
  • L-Carnitine
  • Hoodia

There are several trade name products to look for too:

  • Fucothin (Garden of Life)
  • Tonalin CLA (Various brands)
  • Citrimax Plus Chromium Picolinate (Vitamin Shoppe)
  • Relacore

These are just the tip of a very large iceberg. I suggest you consult with a store health enthusiast to find the supplement that is right for you.

My personal favorite is green tea. Green tea is loaded with a ton of potential health benefits besides helping with weight loss.  Green tea can help decrease cravings, increase metabolic rate and help with fat loss. Additionally, Green tea is one of Mother Nature’s best supplements for overall health. It has shown to help with conditions such as: Cancer, cholesterol, high blood pressure, tooth decay, cold and flu just to name a few.  I am a huge fan of getting more than one benefit from my supplements. More bang for the buck. You can either utilize a capsule, extract or tea to get the benefits.

If you decide to use any of these supplements as part of your weight loss program, try to use them when you are “stuck” or plateau.  Relying solely on a supplement for weight loss is the wrong approach.  The best way to reach your goal and maintain it forever (as opposed to fad diets) is to change your lifestyle. It may mean getting more activity or cutting out a few of those foods/beverages you love so much, but in the long run, it means a happier and healthier you. (Being overweight is a major risk factor for most of the deadly diseases we face-heart disease, cancer and diabetes)  Have faith and good luck. Maybe next year losing weight will not be one of your resolutions.