You may have seen the recent segment on Dateline NBC that questioned the safety of nutritional supplements.
The report by Chris Hansen focused on lawsuits against the makers of a liquid supplement called Total Body Formula. This formulation contained dangerously high levels of chromium and selenium due to a mix-up by the manufacturer. This horrible error caused users to lose their hair and nails.
Once again, the safety of supplements and the lack of government regulation of the supplement industry were called into question. While I agree that some supplements on the market are not of the highest quality, government regulation is not, in my opinion, the answer. More regulation would mean less choices and less nutrients available on the market.
The quality issue is one of the reasons I created my own line of nutritional supplements. If you use any of my products, you can rest assured that:
The raw materials are rigorously screened to make sure they are pure and potent.
Every single one of my finished formulas are batch tested to make sure they meet the label claims and purity specifications.
Independent labs verify my products' claims for potency and safety.
This triple testing assures the purest, safest, most effective product you can find. If you are ever unsure of the safety of any supplement, I urge you to not buy it or stop taking it.
In January 2011, I wrote an article in my newsletter about how to curb emotional eating, a very common weight loss obstacle for so many women. In that article, I wrote about an exciting nutrient that has been shown to significantly curb snacking: saffron extract.
Scientists have identified at least two of saffron's active ingredients: safranal, which has been found to promote levels of the well-being neurotransmitter serotonin, and crocin-1, which inhibits the neurotransmitters dopamine (believed to condition you to expect “rewards” from comfort food) and the acute stress hormone norepinephrine. Saffron’s effects on these brain chemicals is believed to be one mechanism by which it combats mild to moderate depression; increases a sense of fullness and satisfaction; helps blunt the triggers of emotional eating; and promotes not just weight loss, but reduction of fat mass.
You may have seen a segment on this exact saffron extract yesterday on the Dr. Oz show. While I was pleased to see this nutrient highlighted on national TV, I must warn you--saffron is not a miracle weight loss "pill," as it was portrayed on yesterday's show. Research shows a significant reduction in snacking after four weeks, after continued daily use. For most women, the results are not nearly as immediate as the show would have you believe. So while I do highly recommend saffron extract if you are trying to curb your appetite, reduce your emotional eating, and ultimately lose weight, you must use it as part of a healthy weight loss program that includes exercise and healthy diet.
You can find the specific saffron extract used in studies in Slim Select
Yesterday, you may have seen some media reports about a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine
that concluded that the use of multivitamins and some dietary supplements (vitamin B6, folic acid, iron, magnesium, zinc, and copper) increased the risk of death in older women.
I was extremely disappointed to hear about this study and find it to be another unwarranted attack on the supplement industry. The fact of the matter is, our diets, no matter how good and well-balanced, simply do not meet our bodies’ nutritional needs. Conventional farming practices leave our fruits and vegetables lacking in nutrients, and thanks to our on-the-go lifestyles, processed and fast foods dominate many American women’s diets.
Furthermore, this one study contradicts the literally THOUSANDS of earlier studies that have consistently shown the countless benefits of supplements for the reduction of breast cancer, heart disease, autoimmune diseases, and other health problems that plague women. It also contradicts years of years of clinical findings by physicians like myself, who have seen great positive results in patients by prescribing nutritional supplement regimens to prevent and treat illness and disease.
Of course, this one negative study comes on the heels of increasing attempts by the FDA to regulate the supplements that so many of us take every day to maintain our health and well-being. The timing of this study's release is very suspicious!
I, for one, will continue taking my multivitamin and other supplements with extreme confidence, and I suggest that you do the same.
What natural skin care ingredients you use ON your skin are important for the health and well-being of your skin.
But what you eat can have a significant impact on your skin, as well. For instance, refined sugar in particular can exacerbate a host of skin problems, like acne. (And it doesn't matter if you are in your reproductive years, premenopause, or menopause...all women get acne!) First, sugar prompts the secretion of androgens, hormones that cause oil glands to go into overdrive. Second, sugar causes an insulin response in the body, which leads to inflammation. When pores become blocked, then inflamed, bacteria get trapped under the skin, which leads to pimples and blackheads. This inflammatory response can also aggravate other conditions like rosacea and eczema.
So, along with taking skin-supportive nutrients, using the best natural skin care products on the market, and balancing your female hormones, give your kitchen pantry a major overhaul. Get rid of all refined carbohydrates and foods high in sugar, fat, and ingredients you can’t pronounce. Your diet should be overwhelmingly rich in vegetables and fruits (preferably organic), whole grains, raw nuts, legumes, occasional free-range poultry, and wild-caught fish like salmon, tuna, and mackerel.
In traditional Asian medicine, health and well-being are believed to be a balance of two equally important, but opposing, principles—yin and yang. Yin is associated with attributes such as femininity, receptivity, calmness, coolness, and moisture. Yin also regulates the fluids, blood, and tissues of your body, as well as its structural components, including flesh, tendons, and bones.
Yang, on the other hand, is associated with masculinity, aggression, heat, and dryness. It also regulates your body’s energy, which acts as the spark plug to your structural elements.
In younger women, this balance seems to be maintained almost effortlessly. But maintaining an optimal yin-yang balance becomes much more difficult once you reach middle age and menopause and menopause symptoms set in.
To restore your yin—and, as a result, balance your estrogen levels—you can take a variety of yin-supportive herbs.
One such supplement is royal jelly, which has been used for centuries to balance female hormones. Take 1/4 teaspoon of the liquid form of organic royal jelly twice a day. Royal jelly is available at most health food stores.
While some women find their gray hair distinguished, others want to pluck every gray they see. While I personally think gray hair looks classy on a lady, I can understand why some women want to color over it.
The bad news is that hair dye has been connected to bladder cancer. In one large study, women who used permanent hair dye at least once a month were twice as likely to develop bladder cancer as those who did not. And those women who regularly used hair dye for at least 15 years had triple the risk. The chemicals in hair dyes can penetrate the skin on your scalp, enter your bloodstream, and get filtered out through your kidneys into your urine and bladder. The lining of the bladder is a very sensitive mucous membrane, and regularly exposing this membrane to the potential carcinogens in hair dye can lead to cell damage that can eventually develops into cancer.
To reduce your risk, don’t use permanent, dark colored hair dyes, which have more of the offending chemicals. Instead, consider trying other options, such as henna, semi-permanent dyes, highlights, and herb-based rinses. Some salons, like Aveda, offer dyes that have lower concentrations of certain chemicals like peroxide and ammonia. I also suggest you try foiling, as less of the dye touches your scalp. Or, visit Long Locks for some fun and interesting natural skin care recipes and hair care recipes.
One of the unfortunate effects of menopause that seems to happen to many women is thinning hair. When estrogen levels drops and hormones are less balanced, hair tends to fall out faster and grow back slower. Fortunately, an essential oil has been found to help.
One of the most widely accepted natural treatments for hair loss and promoting healthy scalp circulation is lavender. A study reported in the Archives of Dermatology indicated that 3 drops of lavender (along with 2 drops each of thyme and cedarwood and 3 drops of rosemary in a carrier-oil blend of 1/2 teaspoon of jojoba oil and 4 teaspoons of grapeseed oil) promoted hair growth and healthy scalp circulation! In fact, 44 percent of the treatment group enjoyed new hair growth, as compared to 15 percent of the control group. And there were none of the adverse side effects frequently found with conventional treatments for hair loss.
If you would like to try this treatment option, you can use lavender three ways:
1. Use a diffuser to disperse micro-particles of the essential oil in the air.
2. Apply through your skin by bath, compresses, massage, or simple topical application.
3. Spray infused waters in the air or onto your skin. (Lavender also is a component of some wonderful natural beauty care products.)
Essential oils can be purchased in health food and beauty stores, but keep in mind that the quality of the oil may vary. For the highest quality, look for oils packaged in small dark blue or brown vials. Also, prices within a particular brand line will vary, as some essential oils are far more expensive than others. A product line with similar pricing throughout may be offering oils of inferior quality.
Chinese Medicine is based on the belief that life energy (chi) energizes all the cells and tissues of the body. The places where the energy surfaces on the skin are called acupuncture points. When the energy flow stops or is blocked, the corresponding internal organ system manifests symptoms of disease. Stimulating the points on the surface of the skin by hand pressure, or acupressure, can correct the flow.
Interestingly, you can use acupressure to restore facial beauty and create the appearance of wrinkle free skin--and what woman doesn't want a wrinkle free face!? Press on the points with gentle to medium pressure using the tips of your fingers for at least 15 seconds. After treating one side, be sure to treat the other before moving on to the next point.
Acupressure Exercise #1: Facial Beauty
This point is located at the bottom of each cheekbone, directly below your pupil. It helps with sagging, poor complexion, and blemishes.
Think tanning beds are safer than laying out in the sun? Think again!
Just because you’re not actually out in the sun when you go to a tanning salon, the risks are just as real. The truth is, ultraviolet radiation is ultraviolet radiation, whether it comes from the sun or from a tanning bed, and there is no such thing as a “safe tan.”
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, “The use of indoor tanning beds before the age of 35 has been associated with a significant increase in the risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. Yet, more than 1 million Americans—70 percent of whom are girls and women—visit a tanning salon each day.” And new reports now state that the risk of melanoma from the use of tanning beds increases by an unbelievable 75 percent!
I know that most women believe that having “a little bit of color” makes them appear healthier. But the paler you are, the healthier your skin actually is…which means less risk of wrinkles (and who doesn't want a wrinkle free face!), premature aging, and skin cancer. I dare you to challenge the standard belief that tan=healthy. I encourage you to feel comfortable in your own skin and appreciate the natural tones and hues that make you so distinct.
Ironing out the bumps of cellulite can seem...impossible. But it doesn't have to be! The fatty tissue under the skin has two layers, separated by a layer of connective tissue mesh. The fat cells in the outer layer are arranged vertically, and the in the deeper layer they're arranged horizontally. Togehter, the layers create a crosshatching grid of fat cells. When strands of hte mesh between them pop, the deeper layer of fat pooches through into the superficial layer, created a term all women known and hate: cellulite.
You'll be surprised to learn that cellulte doesn't only affect heavier or older women. In fact, up to 98 percent of all women over age 20 have it--even athletes! Gaining more muscle and losing excess fat are the two best ways to create the appearance of cellulite free skin, but you can also give your legs a cosmetic boost by indulging in massage--using coffee grounds and plastic wrap!
Caffeine helps to tighten your skin and tissues by constricting your superficial blood vessels. First, warm up about 1/2 cup of coffee grounds. Massage the warm grounds into the affected areas, then secure the plastic wrap. After about 15 minutes, remove the plastic and rinse.
Step 2 for Wrinkle Free Skin Around the Lips--Eliminate UV Damage
The sun’s ultraviolet radiation is the most destructive factor in the premature aging of skin. In conventional dermatology, resurfacing procedures such as microdermabrasion, harsh chemical peels, and laser burning temporarily stimulate new skin production, just as a physical wound temporarily stimulates new tissue growth through the mechanism of inflammation. In my experience, however, there are ways to start filling and erasing the lip lines of sun damage without the pain of recovery.
First and foremost, if you are going to be outdoors for an extended period of time, use a sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays and has an SPF of 15 or more. You can also rejuvenate your skin’s youthful cellular activity level using infrared radiation (IR). Unlike the sun’s ultraviolet radiation, which can be aggressive and destructive, its IR is healing and rejuvenating. IR can penetrate tissues to a depth of more than nine inches without burning them. My favorite IR therapies to rejuvenate aged facial skin include the DPL Therapy System
. Use it for half an hour every day.
Along with providing your skin with important nutrients, proper female hormone balance is essential for healthy, moist, and resilient skin, particularly because of the action of estrogen on the skin. Estrogen is responsible for the deposition of fat under the skin, which gives rise to the soft and fine-textured skin that many women enjoy during their younger years. Estrogen also keeps the skin looking and feeling plump and healthy.
During your active reproductive years, your body produces enough estrogen to properly support the structure and texture of your skin. But when you enter the menopausen, your estrogen levels start dropping, which causes your skin to become drier, and the underlying collagen connective tissue, muscle, and fat tissues that give skin its support also begin to shrink, leading to more apparent creases and wrinkles.
While that all sounds like doom-and-gloom, keep your head up because there are plenty of nutrients you can take to rebalance and restore your hormones levels naturally, resulting in plumped up and moisturized skin. The following nutrients either create estrogen-like activity in your body or help you to produce more of your own estrogen. They also slow down the metabolism and excretion of the estrogen you do produce, thereby raising your own estrogen levels. You can use as many or as few of the following nutrients as you need to achieve your desired level of hormonal support.
- Boron is a trace mineral found in apples, grapes, almonds, legumes, and dark-green leafy vegetables. There is some evidence that boron enhances estrogenic activity. In one study, when women on estrogen therapy supplemented their normally low-boron diet with 3 mg of boron, their blood levels of estrogen were significantly elevated. Based on this research, I suggest taking 3 mg of boron per day.
- Para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) is a fat-soluble B vitamin necessary for the production of folic acid. It helps to safely and effectively impede the breakdown of estrogen in the liver. I recommend taking 400–500 mg of PABA a day in divided doses.
- Wheat germ oil is rich in vitamin E, which has mildly estrogenic properties. In fact, wheat germ oil contains the fatty acids and other nutrients that your body needs to support and produce hormones such as estrogen. I recommend taking 2,000–2,400 mg of wheat germ oil in capsule form a day, in divided doses.
- Cobalt slows down the excretion of estrogen, thus allowing you to better maintain your own production of estrogen. It is able to do this by stimulating the production of heme oxidase. This, in turn, promotes the breakdown of cytochrome p450, a substance that normally metabolizes and detoxifies estrogen. By breaking down this substance, cobalt helps to prevent estrogen metabolism and excretion. I suggest taking 400–500 mcg of cobalt a day. To further improve your cobalt status, you can also take 100–500 mcg of vitamin B12 a day. Research shows that cobalt is supplied in your body by B12. If you have adequate levels of B12, you likely have adequate amounts of cobalt, as well.
- Black cohosh is an estrogenic herb that was often prescribed in colonial times to treat a variety of menopausal symptoms. I recommend taking 40–80 mg of a standardized extract of black cohosh twice a day. This dose should contain 2–4 mg of the active components (triterpenes, calculated as 27-deoxyacteine).
Excess facial hair, called postmenopausal facial hirsutism, is a fairly common effect of menopause--especially in those who have decided to not use conventional hormone replacement therapy. Understandably, this condition can be extremely upsetting.
The following strategies are free of side effects and address the underlying problem so that the growth of facial hair actually stops. Because hair grows in cycles, these treatments require about two to three months of use before you see results. In the interim, you can remove the worst of the hair by plucking or sugaring. Like waxing, sugaring removes hair at the root, but it doesn’t damage the surrounding skin. And it’s painless! I recommend using the wonderful sugaring product from MOOM to remove unwanted hair while you treat the underlying problem.
First, if you’re in your perimenopausal or menopausal years, female hormone balance is key to reducing unwanted facial hair. Refer to my recommendations throughout this blog for achieving female hormone balance.
In addition, there are natural botanicals that, when used topically on the face, are known to inhibit 5-alpha reductase—the enzyme that activates testosterone in facial follicles, causing facial hair.
• Green tea extract (epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG) inhibits 5-alpha reductase and also has been shown to reduce skin inflammation.
• NDGA (nordihydroguaiaretic acid), an extract of chaparral, blocks receptor sites for 5-alpha reductase and also inhibits the skin’s pro-inflammatory cascade.
• Zinc, azelaic acid, and vitamin B6: Even at low doses, zinc and azelaic acid (from the yeast Pityrosporum ovale) are potent 5-alpha reductase inhibitors because they work synergistically. Vitamin B6 enhances their activity and their ability to penetrate the skin. In a study published in the British Journal of Dermatology, when very low doses of these agents were applied together, their combined activity blocked 5-alpha reductase by an amazing 90 percent.
You can find most of these nutrients sold separately at health food stores or vitamin shops. Or you can use a product called Reductase-5, which contains these botanicals.
Age spots are places where excess melanin (or pigment) has been delivered to the skin. But while their common name suggests that they’re an unavoidable part of getting older, studies show that they’re more about inflammation than age. In fact, a woman can be well into her 80s and not have a single age spot, because the number one cause of age spots happens to be the most pervasive cause of skin inflammation, and also the easiest to avoid: ultraviolet radiation.
Conventional treatment usually involves applying a drug called hydroquinone (a somewhat irritating prescription skin lightener) and a prescription corticosteroid, which is used to counteract the inflammatory effects of the hydroquinone. For greater efficacy and speed, this approach is often paired with the use of harsh chemical skin peels or dermabrasion to stimulate new skin to grow and replace the old hyperpigmented skin faster. All of these treatment have undesirable side effects. Natural Beauty Care Products for Age Spots
Reversing age spots can be done naturally, in 3 easy steps:
- Protect against ultraviolet radiation and avoid the sun-induced skin inflammation that triggers hyperpigmentation in the first place. No skin lightener will work if sun-induced inflammation isn’t avoided. Use a top-quality sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB and has a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or more. Also make sure it does not contain any inflammatory ingredients such as PABA.
- Cleanse gently and always moisturize. For the treatment of age spots, try using a mild facial cleanser once a week unless your face needs a thorough washing—for instance, if you have a lot of makeup on. On the other days, cleanse twice a day with oil instead of soap. Using about 1/4 teaspoon of a high quality, perfume-free oil such as organic jojoba, olive, grapeseed, or macadamia oil, gently massage your face. Then, wet a clean washcloth with warm (not hot) water, and remove the oil by scrubbing gently in a downward direction to clean and close your skin’s pores. Follow by massaging in about 1/4 as much of the same oil, preferably while your face is still damp. If your skin feels too oily afterward, gently dab away the excess with a clean cloth.
- Twice a week, exfoliate with 10 percent glycolic acid. For most women, 10 percent is gentle enough even for everyday use without causing inflammation. I recommend Mango Madness SkinCare’s Exfoliate Me Glycolic Acid Cleanser.
Estrogen deficient–fast processors have more acidic body compositions and can’t handle the acidic foods that estrogen deficient–slow processors thrive on. Fast processors often complain of often severe menopause symptoms like night sweats, vaginal dryness, menopause hot flashes, and dry skin and hair.
Fast processors do best by eliminating all acidic foods, such as red meat, citrus fruits, and hot spices, and even dairy, and instead following a vegetarian-emphasis diet that contains whole grains, beans, salads, and vegetables. I also recommend using "cooler" spices like lemon balm, cilantro, basil, marjoram, and chamomile in your cooking, and forgoing "hot" spices like red pepper and chili powder.
If you are an estrogen deficient–fast processor, here are the foods you should be eating:
• Most vegetables
• Gluten-free whole grains
• Legumes (beans and peas)
• Small amounts of raw seeds and nuts
• Organic eggs
• Wild fish such as salmon, mackerel, trout, and tuna
• Sea vegetables such as kelp
• Fruits like bananas, melons, and papayas
• Free-range poultry in moderation
Eating a diet rich in these types of foods will help will increase your energy, stamina, and resistance to disease. Plus, you’ll notice a dramatic decrease in troubling menopause symptoms like menopause hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness.
If you are an estrogen deficient–slow processor, you tend to have greater reserves of alkaline minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, and zinc within your cells, tissues, and bones. Slow processors also have the body and hormonal makeup to be able to handle an acidic diet that is rich in red meat and dairy, but these foods lack the essential nutrients that all women need to maintain optimal health. For this reason, estrogen deficient–slow processors are best served by following a diet that is both highly acidic and nutrient-rich. This includes the following foods:
• High-fiber foods such as buckwheat and flaxseed
• Citrus fruits (oranges, limes, lemons, and grapefruit), berries, and pineapple
• All vegetables, especially sauerkraut, spinach, cucumbers, tomatoes, asparagus, and broccoli
• Free-range poultry
• Wild fish such as salmon, mackerel, trout, and tuna
• Free-range beef and lamb, as well as game meats like venison and buffalo
• Soy and soy-based foods
• Raw nuts (almonds, walnuts)
• Heating spices such as turmeric (curry), ginger, cayenne pepper, chili powder and pepper, cumin, cloves, and cinnamon
By following this diet, slow processors are able to regain their energy and zest for life, reduce joint pain, and stabilize their female hormone levels. Not to mention, eating a healthy diet provides menopause relief from symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats.
I personally follow an exercise program for estrogen deficient–fast processors. Even though my female hormones are healthy and well-balanced, I fall more into this category because I am a petite and slender woman, and I have a fast-paced day-to-day life. To help balance my female hormones, I follow a workout routine that calms me.
Estrogen deficient–fast processors don’t want to heat up their bodies and sweat. It is more important to engage in slower, more expansive and relaxing aerobic activities that are moderately strenuous and can be done in a relaxed and leisurely way. For this reason, the best activities for women in this category include golf, gardening, swimming, and moderately-paced walking and bicycling. You can also try ballroom dancing—in particular, slower dances like the waltz.
In terms of stretching, the best types for this hormonal category include tai chi and hatha yoga, which are slower and more meditative. With these slower-paced exercises, you will tend to breathe more deeply and slowly. Moderate aerobic exercise relaxes, dilates, and expands the network of blood vessels in your body, and enables your heart to work more efficiently. Better circulation and oxygenation, in turn, improve the health of all of your organs, including your ovaries and uterus.
Of course, another benefit to this and all exercise is the reduction of menopause symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats!
If you are an estrogen deficient–slow processor, I recommend keeping your female hormones balanced with high-intensity activities such as power walking, cycling, running, triathlons, racquetball, tennis, and fast-paced styles of ballroom dance like the tango, foxtrot, and swing.
Women with these hormone profiles tend to be instinctively drawn to strenuous types of exercise that are more contracting and acidifying to counter their natural tendency toward alkalinity. I’ve seen women with these hormonal profiles maintain this level of intense physical activity well into their later years. In fact, it is not unusual to see slow processors participating in triathlons and bodybuilding well into their 70s and beyond!
Stretching and flexibility exercises are also important parts of your workout routine. Stretching keeps you limber and helps your muscles and tendons function well into your older years. The best stretching exercise is Pilates, as it tends to include more intense and faster-paced movements. In addition, yoga is beneficial for these women—particularly the high-energy Bikram (hot), ashtanga, and power yoga.
Another benefit of these exercises? They help reduce menopause symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats!
I told you earlier this week about the estrogen-deficient fast processor. Today, I'll tell you about the mirror image of this woman--the estrogen-deficient slow processor.
An estrogen deficiency–slow processor woman is also in menopause and may experience menopause symptoms, but she has the opposite body type and temperament. Characteristics include:
• Plumper/difficult time losing weight
• Fluid retention
• Stronger bones and connective tissue
• Thicker skin and hair
• Placid temperament
Often women have characteristics that fall under both categories, but more of the characteristics fall in one over the other. In this case, you should identify yourself with the profile that most closely lines up with your personal characteristics.
Over the next few days, I'll tell you about exercises and foods to eat if you are a fast processor or slow processor.
During menopause, things aren’t as simple as just too much or too little of any given hormone. In my practice, I found that patients tended to experience a total shift in their entire physical and chemical makeup that manifested as one of two patterns. Their body and brain chemistry tended toward becoming either too fast or too slow. For this reason, I call the first pattern estrogen deficiency–fast processor. The second is its mirror image: estrogen deficiency–slow processor.
Today I'll give you the characteristics of a woman who is a fast processor.
• Thin, dry skin and tissues
• Menopause hot flashes
• Night sweats
• Vaginal dryness
• Sore joints
• Increased risk for heart disease and osteoporosis
Later this week, I'll tell you about slow processors, then give you information on how to deal with both chemical makeups!