LICORICE ROOT: Research in the treatment of respiratory infections

Licorice root has a long history of use in Chinese medicine. Glycyrrhizin (or glycyrrhizic acid or glycyrrhizinic acid), the chief sweet-tasting constituent of Glycyrrhiza glabra (liquorice) root.has been studied.for use in the treatment of COVID-19 and the associated respiratory syndrome.1 Glycyrrhizin augments natural killer cell activity and
induces interferon production by T cells.5

A ‘must have’ home apothecary stock item, I use the steeped root tea for its varied medicinal properties. Licorice has well-documented antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties. 2 “The anti-inflammatory activity of GLR could be useful to alleviate the respiratory distress syndrome associated to the viral infection”.3 “In addition to the antiviral effects of GL reported on hepatitis C, many other viruses that cause human suffering have been successfully treated, including: herpes simplex type 1 (HSV-1), the “cold sore” virus; varicella-zoster virus (VZV), the cause of shingles; hepatitis A virus (HAV); hepatitis B virus (HBV); human immunodeficiency virus (HIV); severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), coronavirus; Epstein–Barr virus (EBV), human cytomegalovirus (CMV) and influenza virus”4

Maintaining a well stocked home apothecary of research supported medicinal plants can provide you with supports during life’s health challenges and when other solutions may not be readily available or compatible.

Make sure your source for licorice root comes from a location where air pollution is not a factor. Roasted licorice root may not provide you with the desired medicinal benefits due to roasting. Steep the roots in a small amount of very warm, not boiling water to cover, for 30 minutes. Drink as a tonic (is may not suit your palette) or add a favourite favoured tea. As with all medicinal herbs, use occasionally in moderate quantities and check with your regular healthcare provider and pharmacist to determine any contraindications due to health challenges or medications.

Elisabeth Hines, C.N.C., C.B.P., Holistic Wellness Practitioner, Health by Design, http://www.mybodycanhealitself.ca/

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  1. Pharmacological perspective: glycyrrhizin may be an efficacious therapeutic agent for COVID-19, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7180159/
  2. Licorice Root: Potent Antiviral, Antimicrobial and Antifungal, Botanical Medicine, https://www.botanicalmedicine.org/licorice-root-antiviral-antimicrobial-antifungal/
  3. Glycyrrhizin: An alternative drug for the treatment of COVID-19 infection and the associated respiratory syndrome, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7311916/
  4. Antiviral Activity of Glycyrrhizin against Hepatitis C Virus In Vitro, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3715454/.
  5. Glycyrrhizin, an Active Component of Licorice Roots, Reduces Morbidity and Mortality of Mice Infected with Lethal Doses of Influenza Virus, ANTIMICROBIAL AGENTS AND CHEMOTHERAPY, Mar. 1997, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC163749/pdf/410551.pdf

#medicianlherbs #licorice #glycyrrhizin #apothecary #herbs #healthbydesign #respiratoryvirus #antiviral #escapetothefarmacy

LECITHIN: Brain and Brain Chemistry Protection & Support

Lecithin

Lecithin, found in sunflower seeds and other healthy food sources, provides the brain and brain chemistry, protection and support; a ‘must have’ mental health support.

Lecithin is a phospholipid, a compound made of fats and water-soluble chemicals, produced in the human liver and are significant constituents of the central nervous system (CNS), and brain. “The phospholipids, omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are the most abundant1. DHA and omega-3 are necessary for normal brain development and cognitive function2,3,4,5. A strong link exists between an adequate supply of dietary PUFAs and the sustenance of cognitive health, learning, neural plasticity, synaptogenesis and synaptic transmission” 8,9,10,11

Lecithin is source of choline, an essential nutrient the body needs to make the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, a chemical messenger that communicate between the neurons (nerve cells) throughout your body.

Lecithin helps break down cholesterol in the blood. In a research study, Influence of Soy Lecithin Administration on Hypercholesterolemia; “The results showed significant reduction in the concentration of total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol during the first month, suggesting that the daily administration of lecithin capsules could be used as an adjuvant treatment in hypercholesterolemia, possibly by reducing the intestinal absorption or by the increased secretion of bile acids with high levels of cholesterol and phospholipids.” 13

Lecithin Production

A healthy, properly functioning liver is a prerequisite to healthy lecithin production and brain function. There are many factors that can interfere with the natural production and utilization of lecithin in the body and brain. It is the liver’s job to make toxic substances in the body harmless. These toxic and excess substances may be breakdown products made by the body (ammonia), hormones (including cortisol) or substances that you take in through diet, medications, air pollution, alcohol and personal care products (cosmetics). Toxins can harm any part of the body or brain including the blood brain barrier, your brain’s protection. Loss of or compromised brain function can occur when the liver is unable to remove toxins from the blood. This is called hepatic encephalopathy (HE). This problem may occur suddenly or it may develop slowly over time. 15

In a holistic approach to improving mental health, the liver and detoxification pathways are a necessary starting point for review. Ongoing detoxification through healthy lifestyle and detoxification supports can improve overall liver and detoxification function, which in turn can improve the body’s natural lecithin production, distribution and usage. Anything that challenges the liver and detoxification pathways can compromise the body’s lecithin availability, brain function and mental health. Holistic detoxification requires a two step process; stop adding to your body pollution of potential liver challengers, and detoxify the existing body pollution of toxins. Learn more about body pollution and whole body detoxification methods in my blog posts Body Pollution: Who is Responsible? and MAINTAINING HEALTHY LONGEVITY: Keep Your Liver Happy in the Midst of Toxins, Distress and Happy Hour.

Lecithin Intake

Lecithin occurs naturally in many foods,

  • whole grains
  • wheat germ
  • walnuts
  • sunflower seeds
  • peanuts
  • milk
  • seafood
  • eggs
  • cooked green vegetables, such as Brussel sprouts and broccoli
  • legumes, such as soybeans, kidney beans and black beans
  • organ meats
  • red meat

Lecithin supplements are derived from eggs, soy, sunflower seeds, canola, cottonseed, or animal fats. For improved health, efforts should be made to avoid genetically modified foods and supplements. Soy crops in the US are reported to be 94% genetically modified. Buy organic, Non GMO lecithin supplements when possible, to avoid adding unwanted toxins like pesticides to your body and brain.

Lecithin: Impact on the brain

The research studies to date (some listed below and in the sources section), indicate a positive mental health benefit from ensuring an adequate supply and distribution of lecithin to the brain.

“A positive influence of phosphatidylserine (PS) and phosphatidic acid (PA) supplementation, phospholipids found in soy and sunflower seed lecithin, on memory, mood, and cognition was demonstrated among elderly test subjects.” 14

Research studies show that salmon-derived lecithins, a good source of choline, facilitated the formation and enhanced the complexity of neuronal networks. 12

Omega-3 fatty acids: one 4-month, double-blind, placebo-controlled study (Bipolar) found marked therapeutic efficacy and no side effects. Dose: 9.6 g of omega-3 fatty acids per day. Benefits: longer period of remission and may inhibit neuronal signal transduction pathways in a manner similar to that of lithium carbonate and valproate. 17

Phosphatidylcholine (PC): large amounts of PC (15 to 30 g q.d. in both pure form and lecithin)—better results for mania than monoamine precursors. 16

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Consult with your regular healthcare provider before adding lecithin supplementation. Do not stop taking your prescribed medication.

Elisabeth Hines, C.B.P., C.N.C., Holistic Wellness Practitioner, Health by Design, http://www.mybodycanhealitself.ca/

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Sources:

  1. Wurtman R. J. Synapse formation and cognitive brain development: effect of docosahexaenoic acid and other dietary constituents. Metabolis 57 Suppl 2, S6–10, doi: 10.1016/j.metabol.2008.07.007 (2008). – DOI – PMC – PubMed
  2. Eilander A., Hundscheid D. C., Osendarp S. J., Transler C. & Zock P. L. Effects of n-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation on visual and cognitive development throughout childhood: a review of human studies. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids 76, 189–203, doi: 10.1016/j.plefa.2007.01.003 (2007). – DOI – PubMed
  3. Fotuhi M., Mohassel P. & Yaffe K. Fish consumption, long-chain omega-3 fatty acids and risk of cognitive decline or Alzheimer disease: a complex association. Nat Clin Pract Neuro 5, 140–152, doi: 10.1038/ncpneuro1044 (2009). – DOI – PubMed
  4. Darios F. & Davletov B. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids stimulate cell membrane expansion by acting on syntaxin 3. Nature 440, 813–817, doi: 10.1038/nature04598 (2006). – DOI – PubMed
  5. Salem N. Jr, Litman B., Kim H. Y. & Gawrisch K. Mechanisms of action of docosahexaenoic acid in the nervous system. Lipids 36, 945–959, doi: 10.1007/s11745-001-0805-6 (2001). – DOI – PubMed

8. Guesnet P. & Alessandri J.-M. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and the developing central nervous system (CNS) – Implications for dietary recommendations. Biochimie 93, 7–12, doi: 10.1016/j.biochi.2010.05.005 (2011). – DOI – PubMed

9. Mayes C. et al.. Variation in [U-13C] α Linolenic Acid Absorption, β-oxidation and Conversion to Docosahexaenoic Acid in the Pre-Term Infant Fed a DHA-Enriched Formula. Pediatr Res 59, 271–275, doi: 10.1203/01.pdr.0000196372.29648.7a (2006). – DOI – PubMed

10. He C., Qu X., Cui L., Wang J. & Kang J. X. Improved spatial learning performance of fat-1 mice is associated with enhanced neurogenesis and neuritogenesis by docosahexaenoic acid. PNAS 106, 11370–11375, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0904835106 (2009). – DOI – PMC – PubMed

11. Lafourcade M. Nutritional omega-3 deficiency abolishes endocannabinoid-mediated neuronal functions. Nat Neurosci. 14, 345–350 (2011). – PubMed

12 Natural lecithin promotes neural network complexity and activity, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4882550/

13 Influence of Soy Lecithin Administration on Hypercholesterolemia, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3065734/

14 Positive Effects of Soy Lecithin-Derived Phosphatidylserine plus Phosphatidic Acid on Memory, Cognition, Daily Functioning, and Mood in Elderly Patients with Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4271139/

15 Loss of brain function – liver disease, Medline Plus, US National Library of Medicine, https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000302.htm

16. Affective disorders: Bipolar (manic) depression and hypomania, Bipolar Depression, https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/nursing-and-health-professions/bipolar-depression

17. Affective disorders: Bipolar (manic) depression and hypomania, Bipolar Depression, https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/nursing-and-health-professions/bipolar-depression

#healthbydesign #mentalhealthbydesign #escapetothefarmacy #depression #bipolar #bodymindspirit #wholepersonwellbeing #sunflowers #sunflowerpower #sunflowerlecithin

MY APOTHECARY RECOMMENDATIONS: Stinging Nettle, a ‘must have’ nutrition and healing powerhouse.

When I am asked which important herbs I recommend to stock in an herbal apothecary, stinging nettle would be at the top of my list. In addition to its powerhouse of vitamins and minerals, the scientifically researched positive health impact of nettles in a variety of health challenges, should make it an essential ‘at home’ apothecary staple. The ultimate goal in my personal health quest and that of my clients is to ‘amplify’ the nutritional and health benefits of each meal, which is why I add greens and herbs like nettles at every opportunity, like my vegan pizza, shown near the end of this post. 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is stingingnettleplant.jpg

Urtica dioica, often known as common nettle, stinging nettle or nettle leaf, or just a nettle or stinger, is a herbaceous perennial flowering plant in the family Urticaceae. Originally native to Europe, much of temperate Asia and western North Africa, it is now found worldwide, including New Zealand and North America. 

“The most recognized health benefit of using stinging nettles is activity against Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH), also known as an enlarged prostate, as well as urinary tract infections. Clinical studies suggest that Urtica spp. contain compounds that affect the hormones responsible for BPH. In addition, nettle root extract shows activity against prostate cancer cells. In therapy, nettles are usually used in combination with saw palmetto (Serenoa repens). They are also used as a home remedy for bladder infections.”[1]

“Nettles can help alleviate the symptoms of osteoarthritis and joint pain, typically in the case of hands, knees, hips and spine” [1] “Another study conducted by Klingelhoefer et al. showed the anti-inflammatory benefits of stinging nettles against other autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis” [1] “Recent studies show that nettles possess anti-diabetic properties” [1]

“In addition, because of their anti-histamine and anti-inflammatory properties, stinging nettles can be used as a natural component in eczema medications. Infusions of the plant can be used for nasal and menstrual hemorrhage, diabetes, anemia, asthma, hair loss and to promote lactation” [1] Nettles grow all over the world, mostly considered a weed and are usually wild harvested. The tiny hairs on the stems and leaves cause a burning sensation and temporary rash when rubbed against the skin, so foraging comes with risks that may be better left to experienced foragers. Nettle possess antimicrobial activity against a variety of microorganisms. The chlorophyll rich fresh leaves contain high concentrations of vitamins A, C, D, E, F, K and P, vitamin B-complexes, large amounts of the metals selenium, zinc, iron and magnesium and lesser amounts of copper, manganese, cobalt, boron, sodium, iodine, chromium and sulphur. It is often used in animal feed due to its potent nutritional benefits. The early season fresh leaves, before the stinging hairs come out, are used in salads. Nettles are used in a variety of recipes, juices and teas. Although you can find many recipes online for using nettles, to retain the maximum benefit of the nutritional and medicinal properties, use them in recipes where they are not excessively over heated, ideally not at all. The dried leaves make a nutritious garnish sprinkled on dishes, like soups, pizzas, casseroles, eggs pesto and dips, just before serving. Make teas with warm not boiled water and steep for 20 minutes. Cool the tea and drink as a healthy iced tea adding honey and lemon if desired. Make a smaller, stronger concentration of tea and add sparkling water and lemon or lime.

The ultimate goal in my personal nutrition and that of my clients is to ‘amplify’ the nutritional and health benefits of each meal, which is why I add greens and herbs like nettles at every opportunity. The picture below of my personal size lunch pizza with sundried tomato pesto, arugula, red onion, basil and dried stinging nettle with vegan cheese. Nettle iced tea provides a refreshing, nutritious beverage. If you are interested in purchasing quality stinging nettle visit this link

The scientifically researched positive health impact of stinging nettles against Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH), also known as an enlarged prostate, as well as urinary tract infections, prostate cancer, anemia, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis makes it an essential‘ at home’ apothecary staple herb. 

Enjoy researching and experimenting with stinging nettle, a ‘must have’ nutrition and healing powerhouse.

Elisabeth Hines, C.N.C., C.B.P., Holistic Wellness Practitioner, Health by Design, http://www.mybodycanhealitself.ca/

Sources:Stinging Nettle Research Papers – http://www.academia.edu/Documents/in/Stinging_Nettles

American Botanical Council – http://cms.herbalgram.org/heg/volume15/07July/FAM_Nettle.html?ts=1592072376&signature=a62c58cdea6bc969af338b9d2182c7ff

Medicine Net – https://www.medicinenet.com/stinging_nettle/supplements-vitamins.htm

One Green Planet, How to Forage for Stinging Nettles – https://www.onegreenplanet.org/lifestyle/forage-for-stinging-nettles/#:~:text=Nettles%20are%20best%20harvested%20from,the%20top%20of%20the%20plant.[1]

Urtica spp.: Ordinary Plants with Extraordinary Properties, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6100552/

 #benignprostatichyperplasia #BPH #enlargedprostate #urinarytractinfections #prostatecancer #anemia #diabetes #rheumatoidarthritis  #medicinalherbs #botanicals #escapetothefarmacy #healthbydesign

MEDICINAL HERBS: Researched Benefits for Depression and Anxiety

escapetothefarmacyheader

Although conventional drug treatment helps many people suffering from depression, there are many people who do not benefit from these treatments, and others who suffer unwanted side effects.  Please do not stop taking your medications. This is not a post to encourage you to stop using your medications, including anti-depressants. My goal in sharing this information to help those who are not benefiting from their present treatments and are considering other options. If you are considering adding any of the medicinal herbs mentioned in this post, speak to your regular healthcare provider for guidance and supervision as you make the changes to your treatment regime. Not all natural plants are safe and some could interact negatively with prescribed drugs. Do not go out into your garden and use plants that are considered bedding plants as medicinal herbs.

Many, many years ago, I was one of the people suffering from depression who did not benefit from conventional drug treatments. My passion to help match the right symptom relief solutions for each unique client prompts me to continue my research into non-conventional treatments, not only for depression, but other symptoms. What works for one person with anxiety or depression will not necessarily be the right fit for another person with the same symptoms. Before you consider adding herbs to your treatment plan, please read my blog post Mental Health by Design for my holistic mental health recommendations for ‘where to begin’.

A number of studies have researched adjunctive therapeutic approaches to improve outcomes for depression patients. I have summarized some of them below.

Medicinal Herbs Studied:

The fruit of the Nelumbo nucifera (Nelumbinis semen) plant has long been used as a natural tranquilizer in Asian countries. “Nelumbinis Semen reverses a decrease in 5-HT1A receptor binding induced by chronic mild stress, a depression-like symptom”(1)

nelumbonucifera

Carvacrol, the main compound in oregano oil, has been found to induce antidepressant effects that seem to be dependent on an interaction with the dopaminergic brain pathways.(2)  Carvacrol can raise 5-HT and dopamine ranges in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex and influence neuronal activity through modulation of neurotransmitters.(3)

oregano-plant

Camellia sinensis (or tea plant) is used to make most traditional caffeinated teas, including black tea, white tea, oolong tea, and green tea. Research results suggest that green tea polyphenols can regulate the HPA axis involved in the pathology of depression.(4)

greentea

Crocus sativus, commonly known as saffron crocus, or autumn crocus, improves the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression and improves the Beck Depression Inventory and Beck Anxiety Inventory Scores with rare side effects.(5)

Crocus_sativus

Hypericum perforatum commonly known as St. John’s wort, is used in the treatment of anxiety and depression and can prevent relapse after recovery from acute depression.(6)

yelow-hypericum-flower

Piper methysticum, commonly called kava, improves the Montgomery–Asberg Depression Rating Scale with no serious adverse effects and no clinical hepatotoxicity.(7)

kava

Rhodiola rosea showed increased hippocampus 5-HT level-induced proliferation of neural stem cells, repairing the damaged neuronal cells in hippocamps.(8)  Improves overall depression, together with insomnia, emotional instability, and somatization, but not self-esteem with no serious side effects.(9)

rhodeola

Lavandula angustifolia, the well known and loved lavender plant, reduces stress, anxiety, and depression in pregnant women.(10) Lavender Improves the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale.(11)

lavendel

Curcumin: The medicinal properties of turmeric, which is the major source of the polyphenol curcumin, have been known for thousands of years.  Curcumin requires enhancing agents like piperine (found in black pepper) to provide the multiple health benefits. Curcumen restores biochemical and behavioral changes induced by chronic stress, reverses the decreased immobility period and MAO activity induced chronic stress and attenuates the stress-induced hippocampus in mice studies. (12)

turmeric

Proanthocyanidins are a class of polyphenols found in a variety of plants such as blueberry. They enhance 5-HT levels in hypothalamus, hypothalamus, and the frontal cortex.(13)

wildblueberry

Quercetin is a plant pigment (flavonoid). It is found in many plants and foods, such as red wine, onions, green tea, apples, berries, Ginkgo biloba, St. John’s wort, American elder, and others. Buckwheat tea has a large amount of quercetin. Studies show that Quercetin prevents hyperactivation of the HPA axis, (14), preventing a skewed stress response, like ‘flight mode’.

buckwheat

Resveratrol, is a natural polyphenol has been detected in more than 70 plant species, especially in grapes’ skin and seeds. Resveratrol raises 5-HT, dopamine, and noradrenaline concentrations in the brain and reduces MAO activity.(15)

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The previous phytochemicals and medicinal herbs are just a few of the possible natural treatment options for anxiety and depression. Finding the right mix and dosage of these medicinal alternatives requires time and experimenting under the supervision of a qualified healthcare practitioner experienced in their use. Please review the research information and discuss the information with your regular health care provider before adding phytochemicals and medicinal herbs to your treatment regime and before making adjustments to your present treatment plan. Do not stop taking your medication. 

Many phytochemicals can be found in essential oils and are easy to use. Lavender essential oil is one of my favourites and I use it often, applying it to the inside of my wrists and ankles over the Chinese meridian channels, the base of my skull, my toes (reflexology points) and my sternum (this is where I first feel stress). Find out more about phytochemicals in essential oils at my page My Green Medicine Cabinet.

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Escapes to nature and other body, mind and spirit experiences promote mental health and overall well-being!

Follow my ‘escape to the farmacy’ adventures here!

Wishing you health, happiness and peace of mind!

Elisabeth Hines, C.N.C., C.B.P., Holistic Wellness Practitioner, Health by Design, http://www.mybodycanhealitself.ca/

Author of The Whole Person Well-being Equation available at http://www.mybodycanhealitself.ca/books.htm

Wishing you many health promoting escapes! Follow some of my escapes at  https://www.instagram.com/escape_to_the_farmacy/ .

https://www.facebook.com/Escape-to-the-Farmacy-112804460556962

https://www.facebook.com/HealthbyDesignForAHealthierYou/

https://www.facebook.com/LIVE.DEPRESSION.FREE/

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Sources:

Table 1 – Therapeutic Effects of Phytochemicals and Medicinal Herbs on Depression, https://www.hindawi.com/journals/bmri/2017/6596241/tab2/

Table 2 – Therapeutic Effects of Phytochemicals and Medicinal Herbs on Depression, https://www.hindawi.com/journals/bmri/2017/6596241/tab2/

1    C.-G. Jang, M. Kang, J.-H. Cho et al., Archives of Pharmacal Research, vol. 27, no. 10, pp. 1065–1072, 2004.

2    F. H. C. Melo, B. A. Moura, D. P. de Sousa et al., “Antidepressant-like effect of carvacrol (5-Isopropyl-2-methylphenol) in mice: involvement of dopaminergic system,” Fundamental and Clinical Pharmacology, vol. 25, no. 3, pp. 362–367, 2011.

3    M. Zotti, M. Colaianna, M. G. Morgese et al., “Carvacrol: from ancient flavoring to neuromodulatory agent,” Molecules, vol. 18, no. 6, pp. 6161–6172, 2013.

4    W.-L. Zhu, H.-S. Shi, Y.-M. Wei et al., “Green tea polyphenols produce antidepressant-like effects in adult mice,” Pharmacological Research, vol. 65, no. 1, pp. 74–80, 2012.

5    E. Moshiri, A. A. Basti, A.-A. Noorbala, A.-H. Jamshidi, S. Hesameddin Abbasi, and S. Akhondzadeh, “Crocus sativus L. (petal) in the treatment of mild-to-moderate depression: a double-blind, randomized and placebo-controlled trial,” Phytomedicine, vol. 13, no. 9-10, pp. 607–611, 2006.

5    S. Akhondzadeh, N. Tahmacebi-Pour, A.-A. Noorbala et al., “Crocus sativus L. in the treatment of mild to moderate depression: a double-blind, randomized and placebo-controlled trial,” Phytotherapy Research, vol. 19, no. 2, pp. 148–151, 2005.

5    A. Akhondzadeh Basti, E. Moshiri, A.-A. Noorbala, A.-H. Jamshidi, S. H. Abbasi, and S. Akhondzadeh, “Comparison of petal of Crocus sativus L. and fluoxetine in the treatment of depressed outpatients: a pilot double-blind randomized trial,” Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry, vol. 31, no. 2, pp. 439–442, 2007.

5    S. Akhondzadeh, H. Fallah-Pour, K. Afkham, A.-H. Jamshidi, and F. Khalighi-Cigaroudi, “Comparison of Crocus sativus L. and imipramine in the treatment of mild to moderate depression: a pilot double-blind randomized trial [ISRCTN45683816],” BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 4, article 12, 2004.

5    A. A. Noorbala, S. Akhondzadeh, N. Tahmacebi-Pour, and A. H. Jamshidi, “Hydro-alcoholic extract of Crocus sativus L. versus fluoxetine in the treatment of mild to moderate depression: a double-blind, randomized pilot trial,” Journal of Ethnopharmacology, vol. 97, no. 2, pp. 281–284, 2005.

6    S. Kasper, H. P. Volz, H. J. Möller, A. Dienel, and M. Kieser, “Continuation and long-term maintenance treatment with Hypericum extract WS® 5570 after recovery from an acute episode of moderate depression—a double-blind, randomized, placebo controlled long-term trial,” European Neuropsychopharmacology, vol. 18, no. 11, pp. 803–813, 2008.

7    J. Sarris, D. J. Kavanagh, G. Byrne, K. M. Bone, J. Adams, and G. Deed, “The Kava Anxiety Depression Spectrum Study (KADSS): a randomized, placebo-controlled crossover trial using an aqueous extract of Piper methysticum,” Psychopharmacology, vol. 205, no. 3, pp. 399–407, 2009.

8    Q. G. Chen, Y. S. Zeng, Z. Q. Qu et al., “The effects of Rhodiola rosea extract on 5-HT level, cell proliferation and quantity of neurons at cerebral hippocampus of depressive rats,” Phytomedicine, vol. 16, no. 9, pp. 830–838, 2009.

9    V. Darbinyan, G. Aslanyan, E. Amroyan, E. Gabrielyan, C. Malmström, and A. Panossian, “Clinical trial of Rhodiola rosea L. extract SHR-5 in the treatment of mild to moderate depression,” Nordic Journal of Psychiatry, vol. 61, no. 5, pp. 343–348, 2007.

10    F. Effati-Daryani, S. Mohammad-Alizadeh-Charandabi, M. Mirghafourvand, M. Taghizadeh, and A. Mohammadi, “Effect of lavender cream with or without foot-bath on anxiety, stress and depression in pregnancy: a randomized placebo-controlled trial,” Journal of Caring Sciences, vol. 4, no. 1, pp. 63–73, 2015.

11   M. Nikfarjam, N. Parvin, N. Assarzadegan, and S. Asghari, “The effects of lavandula angustifolia mill infusion on depression in patients using citalopram: a comparison study,” Iranian Red Crescent Medical Journal, vol. 15, no. 8, pp. 734–739, 2013.

11    P. Conrad and C. Adams, “The effects of clinical aromatherapy for anxiety and depression in the high risk postpartum woman—a pilot study,” Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, vol. 18, no. 3, pp. 164–168, 2012.

11     I.-S. Lee and G.-J. Lee, “Effects of lavender aromatherapy on insomnia and depression in women college students,” Taehan Kanho Hakhoe Chi, vol. 36, no. 1, pp. 136–143, 2006.

11     S. Akhondzadeh, L. Kashani, A. Fotouhi et al., “Comparison of Lavandula angustifolia Mill. tincture and imipramine in the treatment of mild to moderate depression: a double-blind, randomized trial,” Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry, vol. 27, no. 1, pp. 123–127, 2003.

12    M. K. Bhutani, M. Bishnoi, and S. K. Kulkarni, “Anti-depressant like effect of curcumin and its combination with piperine in unpredictable chronic stress-induced behavioral, biochemical and neurochemical changes,” Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, vol. 92, no. 1, pp. 39–43, 2009.

13    Y. Xu, S. Li, R. Chen et al., “Antidepressant-like effect of low molecular proanthocyanidin in mice: involvement of monoaminergic system,” Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, vol. 94, no. 3, pp. 447–453, 2010.

14    P. Bhutada, Y. Mundhada, K. Bansod et al., “Reversal by quercetin of corticotrophin releasing factor induced anxiety- and depression-like effect in mice,” Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry, vol. 34, no. 6, pp. 955–960, 2010.

15    Y. Yu, R. Wang, C. Chen et al., “Antidepressant-like effect of trans-resveratrol in chronic stress model: behavioral and neurochemical evidences,” Journal of Psychiatric Research, vol. 47, no. 3, pp. 315–322, 2013.

https://www.hindawi.com/journals/bmri/2017/6596241/#acknowledgments

MCS & FRAGRANCE SENSITIVIES: Overcoming Travel Challenges

trapped in a bubble2

I am presently on the way to my fourth, month long airbnb stay, between moving out of my sold home in one town in August and into my next home next month in another town.  As a recovered MCS and TILT sufferer I am always vigilant about staying away from fragrances and toxic chemicals, not only because they are offensive but because I have done my homework to be able to recover and know how toxic these are.

TILT

The first airbnb host had issues with me using 4 drops of pure tea tree in a spray bottle to clean instead of their toxic cleaning products, due to the unfamiliar scent and someone elsewhere in the building being sensitive to fragrances; but apparently not to the toxic cleaning products provided in the airbnb rental unit.

Gratefully, the second airbnb host used vinegar to clean and no toxic or fragranced products and had no issue with me using tea tree and natural non toxic products.

febreze

When I arrived at the third airbnb I was overwhelmed with the scent of Glad and Febreze when I opened the door.  My past vigilance alarm went off and I stepped back to assess.  I knew these products were toxic, but I also knew that I would be safe if I took precautions now that I am recovered. What’s so toxic about these readily available and commercially advertised products? The Invisible Disabilities Association reports:

“These synthetic compounds are chemicals that can be dangerous to many when inhaled or applied to the skin. Author Connie Pitts explained, “Perfumes, colognes, and many other scented  products contain an abundance of harmful chemicals, many of which are listed on the EPA’s Hazardous Waste List. They also include numerous carcinogenic chemicals, neurotoxins, respiratory irritants, solvents, aldehydes, hundreds of untested and unregulated petro-chemicals, phthalates (which can act as hormone disrupters), narcotics, and much more.”

Have you ever considered how a neurotoxin in a fragrance might affect someone with mental health challenges? Would it affect their brain chemistry negatively? You can find out more about what is in the products below by reading this excellent post.

The Dangers of Febreze- EZ Breathe

I packed the Glad plug in and Febreze can in a ziploc bag and set it out on the deck out of site.  I immediately opened the one window and turned the bathroom fan on to try to get the smell out.  I then went to Canadian Tire and bought 3 Environmental Air Sponges which are made up of natural products that soak up toxins in the air.  They are often used after fires to clean the air.  I then turned on my diffuser with all natural Purify Cleansing Blend essential oil in it to further clean the air and override the smell. These are the 100% natural ingredients:

  • Lemon Peel
  • Lime Peel
  • Siberian Fir Needle
  • Austrian Fir Needle
  • Pine Needle
  • Citronella Grass
  • Melaleuca Leaf
  • Cilantro Herb

I was able to stay in the room that night without reacting, due to my previous recovery, and my actions to mediate further harm.  Even now, almost 30 days later, whenever I enter the room I can smell residual Glad and especially Febreze fragrance, possibly coming from the adjoining host’s side of the house or their circulated air.

My advice to you if you are a traveler, whether you have or had MCS or TILT or not, is to be cautious about accommodations that use toxic and harmful cleaning and air freshener chemicals that contain neurotoxins and endocrine disruptors. Go prepared when you travel with Purify and a diffuser, Environmental Air Sponges, and if you will be staying for long periods of time, a supply of your own natural cleaning supplies vinegar, baking soda and a spray bottle, as well a tea tree essential oil. Unfortunately making comments in reviews after an airbnb stay may interfere with you odds of successfully securing airbnb accommodation in the future, and during Covid-9, long term stay locations, at least in southwestern Ontario have been few and far between. Hopefully airbnb will encourage hosts to refrain from using toxic cleaning and air freshener products and encourage designations for host accommodations making it easier for those that have or have recovered from MCS, TILT, fragrance sensitivities, asthma, COPD or other  immune compromised diseases or are in cancer treatment. I will bring the air freshener and glad plug in back in when I leave.  Should I leave a note?  Should I share this information with the host? Should I share this information in a review? For my fourth airbnb location I am on my way back to host #2, who is providing an eco-friendly environment by using and allowing all natural cleaning and air freshening products.

Learn more about my recovery and how you can recover too in my book:

MCS

Elisabeth Hines, C.N.C., C.B.P., Holistic Wellness Practitioner, Health by Design, www.mybodycanhealitself.ca

Author of The Whole Person Well-being Equation.

For information on less toxic products for home and rental accommodations visit the Less Toxic Guide. 

Environmental Working Group: Fragrance Concerns

FRAGRANCE: Oh How Sweet The Smell and How Potentially Dangerous To Your Health

Invisible Disabilities Association

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THE ZINC IMMUNE FACTOR: Increasing Serum Zinc Levels to Fight Viruses

seedandspice

The immune system has many protective and signaling functions which require an adequate availability of micronutrients to maintain a healthy immune response.  Diet deficiencies of many of these necessary micronutrients, including zinc, are often found in the elderly and immune compromised. The Nutri-Facts article titled Micronutrients and the immune system states “The nutrients collaborate and complement each other in the diverse processes of the immune system”. It is crucial that we ingest an adequate supply of healthy foods with diverse micronutrients to maintain a healthy immune response.  Many drugs are associated with the depletion of nutrients that are necessary for a health immune system. Corticosteroids like cortisone and prednisone cause increased zinc excretion. Homemade soups with a large variety of quality ingredients are an excellent way to get a diverse array of immune supporting micronutrients.

According to the Frontiers in Immunology article Immunosenescence (immune decline) and Its Hallmarks: How to Oppose Aging Strategically,

“The close connection between nutrition, intake of bioactive nutrients and supplements, immune function, and inflammation demonstrate the key role of dietary strategies as regulators of immune response and inflammatory status, hence as possible modulators of the rate of immunosenescence. The link between aging and disease is in part a reflection of the functional changes in the immune system of older people”.

The Blue Zones research article, Boost Your Energy and Immunity with These 13 Super “Blue” Foods,  reports that you can improve your immunity by making changes in your diet. A diet focused on beans, greens, sweet potatoes, nuts, olive oil, oats, barley, fruits, green or herb teas, turmeric, garlic, shitake mushrooms and goats milk; can boost your immunity. The Blue Zones Solution lays out a proven plan to maximize your health based on the practices of the world’s healthiest people. Dan Buettner reveals how to transform your health using smart eating and lifestyle habits gleaned from new research on the diets, eating habits, and lifestyle practices of the communities he’s identified as blue zones—those places with the world’s longest-lived, and thus healthiest, people. The Blue Zones diet is naturally high in zinc. Visit the Blue Zones website to read more at https://www.bluezones.com/2020/03/boost-your-energy-and-immunity-with-these-13-super-blue-foods/.

Zinc and Immune Function Research:

Recent research into the prevention and treatment of the current virus indicate that patients who had healthy zinc blood levels naturally and through supplementation during treatment had better recovery results. A study of serum zinc levels and current virus recovery and survival:

“The study data clearly show that a significant number of COVID-19 patients were zinc deficient. These zinc deficient patients developed more complications, and the deficiency was associated with a prolonged hospital stay and increased mortality.”

An interesting review of a study of patients with the virus in Spain and India showed a significant difference between serum zinc levels at the onset of the virus between the two countries.  Could diet be a factor?  How is the Indian diet different than the Spanish Diet?  The Indian diet consists of a variety of foods including legumes and seeds with significant levels of zinc as well as the addition of herbs and spices, which help to add to their zinc levels.

Although zinc is a necessary immune ingredient, supplementation is not always the recommended source according to the Harvard School of Public Health. If you are planning to start supplementing with zinc, please consult with your regular healthcare provider, a nutritional consultant and your pharmacist to ensure you will not be compromising your iron and copper levels.

“Zinc is available in supplement form as pills and lozenges. Excess zinc can interfere with the absorption of iron and copper. High doses can also cause nausea and even vomiting. Therefore it is important not to take supplemental zinc unless it is known that the diet is low in foods containing zinc or a zinc deficiency is confirmed.” Consult a qualified nutritional consultant to guide you in improving your serum zinc levels through diet. You can find a list of foods that naturally provide zinc at the Harvard School of Public Health.

There is much controversy over natural supplements that could help with the present virus. Here are some insights on how to safely proceed using herbs in your natural response to the virus, without contributing to the dangerous cytokine storm:

“Caution may be advisable with herbal agents such as Echinacea and Elderberry which may stimulate TNF and other cytokines. However, this danger is unclear. More important is the addition of herbs that down-regulate dangerous cytokines while also exhibiting antiviral effects (for instance, St. John’s wort, Baikal Scullcap, Salvia milthiorrhiza, Ginger, Turmeric).”1

Always proceed with caution and consult with your regular healthcare practitioner and local public health authority as you add natural strategies.

Elisabeth Hines, C.N.C., C.B.C., Holistic Wellness Practitioner, Health by Design, www.mybodycanhealitself.ca, elisabethlhines@gmail.com

Author of The Whole Person Well-being Equation

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ANEMIA: The Endocrine Disruption Factor

anemiaendocrinedisruptors

I haven’t written about anemia before although I have in the past had my challenges. Many of my clients come with lab results indicating they suffer from anemia.

According to the Mayo Clinic:

Anemia is a condition in which you lack enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to your body’s tissues. Having anemia can make you feel tired and weak. There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe”.

I am not going to go into further details about symptoms, causes and treatments here.  I will leave that to the professionals. You can read more at the Mayo Clinic webpage – https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/anemia/symptoms-causes/syc-20351360.

My purpose in this post to consider the possible link between anemia and endocrine disruption and what more could possibly be done to alleviate the condition. Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that interfere with endocrine and hormone systems.

The Environmental Health Perspectives article Environmental endocrine disruption: an effects assessment and analysis states:

Found in many household and industrial products, endocrine disruptors “interfere with the synthesis, secretion, transport, binding, action, or elimination of natural hormones in the body that are responsible for development, behavior, fertility, and maintenance of homeostasis (normal cell metabolism).”

Any system in the body dependent on hormones could be affected by endocrine disruptors. The hormone hepcidin is the principal regulator of iron absorption and distribution.  Hepcidin excess or deficiency, through disruption of any kind, can alter intestinal iron uptake, leading to either iron deficiency or iron overload. The body’s iron balance is controlled through absorption from the diet.

What can you do if you are suffering from either iron deficiency or overload?

When I work with clients to help them recover from their health challenges and eliminate their symptoms I work from a two step approach when it comes to endocrine disruptors and other harmful environmental and body pollutants. Not all iron deficiency or overload conditions are the result of endocrine disruptors so discuss your condition with your regular healthcare provider for assistance.

Step # 1:  Avoid/stop adding in harmful, disrupting environmental body pollutants

If you are challenged by either iron deficiency or overload, take a look at your exposure to and elimination of endocrine disruptors. You can find more information on endocrine disruptors at:

Body Pollution: http://www.mybodycanhealitself.ca/bodypollution.pdf

Pollution in Newborns: https://www.ewg.org/research/body-burden-pollution-newborns

REPORT: TOXIC NATION: A REPORT ON POLLUTION IN CANADIANS – https://environmentaldefence.ca/report/report-toxic-nation-a-report-on-pollution-in-canadians/

Endocrine Disruptors, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, https://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/endocrine/index.cfm

Dirty Dozen Endocrine Disruptors, The Environmental Working Group, https://www.ewg.org/research/dirty-dozen-list-endocrine-disruptors

Hormone Disrupting Chemicals, The Hormone Network, https://www.hormone.org/your-health-and-hormones/endocrine-disrupting-chemicals-edcs

9 Ways to Avoid Hormone Disrupting Chemicals, NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council), https://www.nrdc.org/stories/9-ways-avoid-hormone-disrupting-chemicals

Avoiding Endocrine Disruptors in Food:  Obesity – https://endocrinenews.endocrine.org/forbidden-fruits-the-endocrine-disrupting-threat-of-obesogens/

Step # 2: Detoxify existing body pollution of harmful toxins, disruptors.

The human body has many natural efficiency detoxification process when working correctly with help the body to detoxify harmful substances. Sometimes your body may need some additional help. Consider adding in additional detoxification supports to help promote your body’s natural detoxification process. The method that I have found most effective in my health recovery and that of my clients is whole body detoxification.

Maintaining Healthy Longevity: Keep Your Liver Happy in the Midst of Toxins, Distress and Happy Hour – http://mybodycanhealitself.ca/wordpress/maintaining-healthy-longevity-keep-your-liver-happy-in-the-midst-of-toxins-distress-and-happy-hour/

Guide to Less Toxic Products – a resource of safer, less toxic personal care and cleaning products – https://lesstoxicguide.ca/

Listening to your intuition can guide you away from foods that may be harmful to you due to the presence of endocrine disruptors, neurotoxins or other harmful substances.  Learning how to using your body as a gauge to determine the potential harm of a food can help you to protect your body and avoid consuming harmful substances. Learn more at my blog post HEALTH PROTECTION: Using Your Body Responses to Identify Health Challenges – http://mybodycanhealitself.ca/wordpress/health-protection-using-your-body-responses-to-identify-health-challenges/

Wishing you health and happiness in your beautiful life!

Elisabeth Hines, C.N.C., C.B.P., Holistic Wellness Practitioner, Health by Design, www.mybodycanhealitself.ca

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Sources:

Regulation of the Iron Homeostatic Hormone Hepcidin, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5227985/

The Role of Hepcidin in Iron Metabolism, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2855274/

Endocrine Disruptor, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endocrine_disruptor

Anemia, The Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/anemia/symptoms-causes/syc-20351360

The Nutrition Source, Harvard School of Public Health, https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/iron/

IMMUNE SUPPORTS: How to Amplify Your Body’s Own Internal Pharmacy

internalpharmacygirl

Tapping into your body’s internal pharmacy is your best defence in times of health challenges, including bacteria, viruses and other microbes. You may not always be able to have access to or secure the drugs that have traditionally been used for specific symptoms or conditions.  Your amazing and efficient human body came created and stocked to provide a variety of necessary therapeutic substances. In a healthy body, the internal environment, referred to as ‘milieu interieur’ by the 19th century physiologist Claude Bernard, supplies substances similar to pharmaceutical drugs, per need, where needed, through a well orchestrated self-regulation system. The body’s natural surveillance, assessment and response systems are dependent on healthy uninterrupted communication within the body to provide a cornucopia of anti-anxiety, anti-stress, immune responder, pain killer, anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor and other necessary therapeutics. A well balanced body, in a state of natural balance called homeostasis, can provide you with these precious natural resources. 

So how do you enhance your body’s natural internal pharmacy efficiency?

  • Ensure uninterrupted communication within your body.  Deal with any potential disruptors such as stressors, body pollution and environmental pollutants like endocrine disruptors. Dealing with pollution’s impact on the human body requires a two step detoxification approach: Stop adding to your body pollution and remove any existing body pollution. You can learn more by reading the following related posts:
  • Ensure that your body has the required quality raw materials, including essential nutrients, vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats and carbohydrates to produce quality and adequate internal pharmacy substances. Diet, lifestyle and life balance are crucial to a well stocked, ready supply of therapeutics for dispensing as needed, where needed. You can learn more by reading the following related posts:

There is much controversy over natural supplements that could help with the present virus. Here are some insights on how to safely proceed using herbs in your natural response to the virus, without contributing to the dangerous cytokine storm:

“Caution may be advisable with herbal agents such as Echinacea and Elderberry which may stimulate TNF and other cytokines. However, this danger is unclear. More important is the addition of herbs that down-regulate dangerous cytokines while also exhibiting antiviral effects (for instance, St. John’s wort, Baikal Scullcap, Salvia milthiorrhiza, Ginger, Turmeric).”1

Always proceed with caution and follow the guidance of your regular healthcare practitioner and your local public health authority.

Read my blog post FIGHTING AGE & STRESS RELATED IMMUNE DECLINE: Implementing strategies to keep you protected for more information to help you improve your immune system responses.

Wishing you a strong, efficient immune system for a healthier, happier you!

Stay tuned on this blog and my social media links below for more upcoming immune and health support strategies!

Elisabeth Hines, C.N.C., C.B.P., Holistic Wellness Practitioner, Health by Design, http://www.mybodycanhealitself.ca/

Author of The Whole Person Well-being Equation available at http://www.mybodycanhealitself.ca/books.htm 

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WHOLE PERSON HEALTH: Your Whole is More Than the Sum of Your Parts

boybodyparts

Regardless of what symptoms you are experiencing in your body, that isolated symptom cannot and should not be taken ‘out of context’ of the whole body and whole person that you are. This is relevant in cases of mental, hormone, immune and overall health.

“It is not possible to understand a person with a brain illness by describing them in bits and pieces. They must be made whole again, and not simply because the whole is the sum of the parts, but because with human beings, the whole is always more than the sum of the parts”.

Norman Doidge, The Brain’s Way of Healing

Thank you Dr. Doidge for that excellent explanation!

Every brain, body and mental health symptom should be investigated as a part of the whole person. From the ‘reverse engineering’ of my nervous and immune system crash after moving into a new home many decades ago, I know that I would have been spared many years of suffering had my symptoms been investigated in the context of my whole body, person and health. Fast forward to today and I am symptom free and feel healthy and blessed.  I have taken my recovered health ‘reverse engineering’ information and combined it with my research on natural strategies to write The Whole Person Well-being Equation. If you are suffering from any symptoms, consider a ‘whole person’ approach to investigating and eliminating your symptoms. You are after all, ‘the sum of your parts’.

Wishing you ‘whole person well-being’!

Elisabeth Hines, C.N.C., C.B.P., Holistic Wellness Practitioner, Health by Design www.mybodycanhealitself.ca

Author of The Whole Person Well-being Equation available at http://www.mybodycanhealitself.ca/books.htm

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MENTAL HEALTH by DESIGN: How to Edit Your Mental Health Equation for Improved Mental Health

Updated March 14, 2021

mentalhealthequation

Every person’s mental health equation, including yours, is uniquely different and yet every person’s mental health equation shares common denominators.

According to Madhuleena Roy Chowdhury‘s Positive Psychology article What is the Mental Health Continuum, “The mental health continuum is a range having mental health and mental illness at the two extreme ends.  The shift between the distinct markers of healthy point, problem point and disorder point are determined by a person’s internal and external faculties.” Below if the image from Madhuleena’s article.  Please visit the link and read.

continuum

I have always been envious of people who appeared to be able to consistently stay at the healthy, happy end of the continuum.  After years of experiencing a range of mental health continuum points for a variety of reasons, and recovering from depression using a variety of strategies, I am able to stay close to the healthy, happy point of the mental health continuum most of the time. It is much easier to be resilient during times of stress when one is healthy and happy. Greater resilience during challenging times is my ongoing quest. To start a return to, and stabilization at the healthy, happy point of the mental health continuum; one needs to look at their mental health equation and the common denominators they share with others.

A common denominator is a commonly shared theme or trait.  You will no doubt have heard people speak about the common denominators for success in business, relationships and people who live to be healthy past 100.  A common denominator is also a common element in a mathematical equation. In math class you learn to rewrite your math equations to change the undesirable answer. When things are not adding up in your life you may be prompted to start subtracting out potential causes; analyzing and rewriting your mental health equation by subtracting out contributing factors and adding in supports, can help you to restore and maintain better mental as well as physical health.

Regardless of what symptoms you are experiencing in your body, that isolated symptom cannot and should not be taken ‘out of context’ of the whole body and whole person that you are. This is relevant in cases of mental, hormone, immune and overall health. Thank you Dr. Doidge for the excellent explanation below!

“It is not possible to understand a person with a brain illness by describing them in bits and pieces. They must be made whole again, and not simply because the whole is the sum of the parts, but because with human beings, the whole is always more than the sum of the parts”.

Norman Doidge, The Brain’s Way of Healing

In the midst of the additional uncertainties and stressors added to our lives and the lives of the people around us due to the Covid-19 pandemic, adding in additional supports would be a good place to start to restore and maintain better mental health. These have been really challenging times for all of us, setbacks are not uncommon, especially in the ability to cope with stress and maintain resilience.  According to the Psychology Today article Pandemics and Psychoneuroimmunology, our mental state can be a determining factor in how significantly we are affected by the pandemic.

“Viruses use the same receptors as neuropeptides to enter into a cell, and depending on how much of the natural peptide for a particular receptor is around and available to bind, the virus that fits that receptor will have an easier or harder time getting into the cell. Because the molecules of emotion are involved in the process of a virus entering the cell, it seems logical to assume that the state of our emotions will affect whether or not we succumb to viral infection.” Dr. Candace B. Pert

“COVID-19 reminds us to include a discussion of psychological factors in being able to fight off the virus by maintaining optimal immune functions. Staying positive, remembering to laugh, and maintaining hope and optimism may be crucial to maintaining a strong immunity and our very survival. We must also grieve the tragic loss of so many who have fallen from this deadly virus.” James F. Zender, PhD, The New Normal 

There are many free mental health supports available, depending on where you live. I have listed several supports at the end of this post. Subtracting out some of the mental health challenging factors, like those I highlight below, may have to wait until a later time after isolation, when your regular healthcare provider and other qualified practitioners can guide you. You now have the time to do your research and planning, make diet changes, add in exercise and mind body strategies to help you in your quest to sustain a healthier, happier mental health state and ‘thrive in spite of everything’.

During times of Covid challenges I often think of Roberto Benigni’s Life is Beautiful,  where “a father interprets the world for his young son upon their arrival in the bestial barracks of a Nazi concentration camp. In the horror of a concentration camp, the father’s task is impossible but simple: invent a story that will help him and his son survive”.

During a very dark mental health continuum point in my life, a caring family member suggested I read Man’s Search for Meaning. It seemed like a very depressing pick at the time. “In Man’s Search for Meaning, psychiatrist and neurologist Viktor Frankl (1905-1997) wrote about his ordeal as a concentration camp inmate during the Second World War. Interestingly, he found that those who survived longest in concentration camps were not those who were physically strong, but those who retained a sense of control over their environment.but turned out to be just what I needed.” I am so grateful for the recommendation.

How do you rewrite your mental health equation?  

You can rewrite your mental health equation by subtracting out or cancelling your well-being challenging contributing factors and adding in strategies to help eliminate your depression and other mental challenges. The combined approach strives to ‘right the wrongs’ that may be a part of your depression/mental health equation; allowing your body’s natural healing mechanisms to heal your brain and restore your brain chemistry and function to normal. It took me years of research and trial and error strategies, while also working on my multiple physical health equations to achieve the improved health results I have. This post focuses on the mental health equation factors that I and my clients have addressed to achieve improved mental health.  Obviously brain damage and past trauma are additional factors that will need to be addressed with additional medical and psychological supports. This is a process that will take time. It is not as simple as the equation image below.

lifemath

I suffered from depression at various times in my life.  My understanding and definition of what was possible about being depression free were limited due to everything I was told and read. My father had suffered from depression and I was told once I had two episodes of depression in my life I would probably need to be on medication for the rest of my life for it. I changed my definition of what I believed was possible, I am a bit of a rebel; and then looked for ways to make it happen. I analyzed my depression equation, started researching and then started editing my depression equation, subtracting out potential causes and adding in supports. I am now 100% depression free and have been for many years. I do not take medication or regular supplements for depression, although lecithin supplementation what a significant recovery support after detox.  You can read more about that at my recent post LECITHIN: Brain and Brain Chemistry Protection & Support. I have been able to maintain feeling upbeat, happy and blessed most of the time. I am finally at my envied, happier end of the mental health continuum. My quest now is becoming more resilient using strategies to be better prepared to cope with the unexpected challenges that will come my way, like pandemics.

You may need to rewrite your definition of what is possible in terms of becoming depression free, so that your brain and body are on the same page. This may require a paradigm shift. Every person may not be able to stop taking medications, but you may be able to reduce your medications under your health care providers supervision, and improve your mental health by editing your mental health equation.

Do not reduce or stop taking your prescribed medications or start editing your depression equation without the supervision of your regular healthcare provider.

“According to all known laws of aviation, there is no way that a bee should be able to fly. Its wings are too small to get its fat little body off the ground. The bee, of course, flies anyway. Because bees don’t care what humans think is impossible.”[1]

Understanding the Genetics and Environmental Factors of Your Depression Equation

Although you may have a family history of depression or mental illness, it does not mean that you will have or continue to suffer mentally.  Genetic predispositions are inherited but do not always become expressed, allowing for a condition, unless they are turned on by environmental factors. Although you cannot subtract out genetic factors, you can prevent genetic predispositions from activating due to environmental influences, preventing the related health challenge.

Environmental factors or external factors, like your lifestyle, including work and life balance, diet, exercise, pollution and physical, mental, emotional and spiritual stressors can affect your brain chemistry and brain function, mood, resilience, ability to cope and stay positive. You have control over most of these factors and for those out of your control, there are supports that you can add in to cancel out or minimize their negative impact.

Your general health, diet, nurture, supports, medications and habits can affect your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. This is an area where you may have to make some hard and radical decisions, which should only be considered and implemented under the care of qualified health practitioners.

“After completing an enormous study, scientists have dismissed claims that single gene variants, or even a small group of them, can dictate susceptibility to depression. Instead, they suggest that any genetic risk for depression likely arises from very large numbers of variants, each contributing a small effect.”

“In an American Journal of Psychiatry paper, the team concludes that early theories about ‘depression candidate genes’ are wrong and that studies identifying them have likely done no more than produce ‘false positives’.”[2]

“A genetic predisposition (sometimes also called genetic susceptibility) is an increased likelihood of developing a particular disease based on a person’s genetic makeup. A genetic predisposition results from specific genetic variations that are often inherited from a parent. These genetic changes contribute to the development of a disease but do not directly cause it. Some people with a predisposing genetic variation will never get the disease while others will, even within the same family.”[3]

“However, it appears that even with a genetic predisposition to mental illness during birth, resistance to mental illness is possible. Resilience is heightened because of a favorable nurturing environment after birth or perhaps due to exercise. People should create enriched environments where they help and support each other, exercise actively, and gain resistance to stress.”[4]

Environmental pollutants can become a part of your body pollution and mental health equation. As a teenager I pumped leaded gasoline at my father’s gas station. The combination of toxic gas ingredients negatively affected my brain. I started to suffer from depression at that time.

Benzene, toluene, and xylene; and the additives ethanol, methanol, and methyl tertiary butyl ether are efficiently absorbed through the lungs so living, working and commuting in polluted environments can add to your toxic load.

Reported in the Meet the Neurotoxins: The Toxins That Threaten Our Brains post “Leading scientists recently identified a dozen chemicals as being responsible for widespread behavioral and cognitive problems. But the scope of the chemical dangers in our environment is likely even greater. Why children and the poor are most susceptible to neurotoxic exposure that may be costing the U.S. billions of dollars and immeasurable peace of mind.”

While investigating my depression equation later in life, when I once again suffered from depression after off gassing of a new house, I made the environmental pollution connection and implemented whole body detoxification, a two step detox; through natural strategies to deal with my accumulated body pollution.

From Architectural Digest – What You Need to Know About Off-Gassing: Even after an install, a project’s furnishings and finishes can leach harmful chemicals into the air for years through a process called off-gassing. Here’s how you can combat it.

To fully understand the impact of dangerous off gassing check out Harmful Toxins in Living Environments and their Hazardous Chemical Impact.

“There are nearly 1000 substances which have been identified as having, or possibly having, neurotoxic effects. Exposure to sufficient amounts of these chemicals, either in the work place or elsewhere, can cause neurological and brain problems. Likewise chronic exposure (long term, lower level exposure) can also have damaging effects.” Toxic Exposures – Brain Injury

I knew that my brain had been negatively affected by many toxins, adding to my brain and body pollution, and compromising my brain function. At some point in my exposure history my blood brain barrier became compromised, allowing later toxins to easily enter my brain. Do you know what your body pollution looks like? Read my blog post on body pollution to find out.  A combination of whole body detoxification and BodyFeedback Interview and Therapy treatment for a client, eliminated a disabling 50+ year caterpillar phobia. After understanding that my compromised blood brain barrier allowed toxins to readily enter my brain, nervous system and body I learned the importance of protecting it. Read more at my blog post: NATURAL CURES: Protecting and Repairing Your Blood Brain Barrier to Restore Mental Health. If you are having mental health issues, your blood brain barrier may be allowing toxins to pass through into your brain and affecting your overall health.

According to The Brain’s Way of Healing by Dr. Norman Doidge, reporting on a NASA “self training” technique to prevent epilepsy, “astronauts were getting epilepsy from their exposure to rocket fuel”.

“A cocktail of harmful toxic chemicals has been detected in every person tested in a cross Canada study of pollution in people.”[5]

“In this sample of young adults with low levels of lead exposure, higher blood lead was associated with increased odds of major depression and panic disorder. Exposure to lead at levels generally considered safe could result in adverse mental health outcomes.”[6]

“Lead exposure in childhood appears to have long-lasting negative effects on mental health and personality in adulthood, according to a study of people who grew up in the era of leaded gasoline. The findings reveal that the higher a person’s blood lead levels at age 11, the more likely they are to show signs of mental illness and difficult personality traits by age 38.”[7]

“Vert and colleagues in Barcelona identified significantly increasing rates of depression among those exposed to a range of air pollutants, with doubling odds of depression”

“Emergency department attendance for depressive episodes were significantly higher for particular combinations of air pollutants at certain times”[8]

What we eat effects not only our physical, but also mental health. Although you may not have been advised to look at your diet when presenting at your doctor’s office with symptoms of depression, anxiety or stress; research has shown that diet is a key factor in brain health.  I was eating a fairly healthy but limited diet during my major period of depression due to food allergies.  Study through a Nutritional Consulting course provided me with an in depth knowledge of nutrition, detoxification pathways and health recovery.

“Few people are aware of the connection between nutrition and depression while they easily understand the connection between nutritional deficiencies and physical illness. Depression is more typically thought of as strictly biochemical-based or emotionally-rooted. On the contrary, nutrition can play a key role in the onset as well as severity and duration of depression. Many of the easily noticeable food patterns that precede depression are the same as those that occur during depression. These may include poor appetite, skipping meals, and a dominant desire for sweet foods. Nutritional neuroscience is an emerging discipline shedding light on the fact that nutritional factors are intertwined with human cognition, behavior, and emotions.”[9]

“Studies have compared ‘traditional’ diets, like the Mediterranean diet and the traditional Japanese diet, to a typical ‘Western’ diet and have shown that the risk of depression is 25% to 35% lower in those who eat a traditional diet. Scientists account for this difference because these traditional diets tend to be high in vegetables, fruits, unprocessed grains, and fish and seafood, and to contain only modest amounts of lean meats and dairy. They are also void of processed and refined foods and sugars, which are staples of the ‘Western’ dietary pattern. In addition, many of these unprocessed foods are fermented, and therefore act as natural probiotics.”[10]

In a new study published in the July 15, 2020, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, study author Ka He, M.D., Sc.D., of Columbia University in New York states “Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to fight inflammation and maintain brain structure in aging brains. They have also been found to reduce brain damage caused by neurotoxins like lead and mercury. So we explored if omega-3 fatty acids have a protective effect against another neurotoxin, the fine particulate matter found in air pollution.”  When my brain was extremely challenged after the off gassing of our second new build I searched relentlessly for solutions and found someone (not medical or scientific) who claimed that the Omega 3 resolved their depression so I started taking large doses of non GMO unbleached lecithin and after some time noticed improvement.  I now understand why it helped, having read this research.  I recommend that my clients take Omega 3 daily for improved mental health. For more on the steps I took to depression free read  my how to guide, The Whole Person Well-being Equation.

Dr. Emily Deans, in her Psychology Today article, reports that randomized controlled trials show that the right diet can improve depression.[11]

Stress, stress idling and stress sensitization can be contributing factors to depression, anxiety, compromised coping and resilience; factors in the mental health equation. Achieving a strong resilience and ability to cope with what life presents takes a lot of work, I am still a work in progress. Do not lose hope! These qualities are key to improving your mental health equation. Implementing ongoing stress management strategies throughout your life is important to living depression free and enjoying  good, consistent mental health and ability to cope and roll with life’s challenges. Hopefully stress management will be the first ‘go to’, as well as diet changes and exercise that doctors prescribe to people presenting with anxiety, depression and stress symptoms; not just a suggestion or after thought. You can read more about the impact of stress in my blog post on stress title STRESS IDLING & SENSITIVITY: A Modern Day Health Challenge.

“If the stress is continued or prolonged, it can leave adverse effects on body’s immune, cardiovascular, neuroendocrine and central nervous systems. When chronic stress goes untreated it can result into serious disabilities like insomnia, weakened immune system, high blood pressure, anxiety and muscle pain. It can also play a role in developing major disorders like depression, heart disease and obesity.”[12]

“Life is a balance of holding on and letting go!” – Rumi

Sometimes past stress, trauma, memories and history are unable to release from the brain or body, resulting in ongoing unwanted symptoms or triggering. For one client, a 50+ year debilitating caterpillar phobia was dislodged using a combination of whole body detoxification and energy tapping to break the connection. Body scan visualizations and energy tapping can be combined to encourage the body to dislodge past stressors, traumatic events, memory and history, eliminating symptoms.  Find out how to customize and practice body scan visualizations in my book. Visualization is just one of the body’s amazing abilities.

The human body was created with many amazing abilities, often referred to as ‘the doctor within’. Understanding and utilizing those often misunderstood and mostly forgotten powers is crucial to well-being and eliminating depression. Exploring ways to continually develop and maintain strength of mind and body will enable you to better endure the demands of life with grace and confidence; ultimately allowing you to stay focused on the pursuit of meaningful goals. Change and fortitude often start with a healthy dose of fear. Sometimes fear comes through a ‘wake up call, something is really wrong’, like the debilitating symptoms of depression.

“Mind-body interventions (MBIs) such as meditation, yoga and Tai Chi don’t simply relax us; they can ‘reverse’ the molecular reactions in our DNA which cause ill-health and depression, according to a study by the universities of Coventry and Radboud.”[13]

You can find the summarized strategies that I used to edit my physical and mental health equations to improve my health, eliminating depression, toxicant induced loss of tolerance (TILT), multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS), stress sensitization and multiple food allergies; in my book The Whole Person Well-being Equation. You can also find out about the additional supports that I use through my blog posts and social media pages which are listed at the end of this post.

If you are not one of the lucky people who finds themselves at the happy end of the mental health continuum daily, with superior resilience; do not despair. Many people find themselves regularly sliding back and forth to different points on the mental health continuum during challenging times. Set backs happen when it comes to dealing with anxiety, depression, coping with stress and achieving resilience. The goal, obviously, is to stay closer to the healthy, happy end of the continuum all the time.  The strategies, information and resources I have provided can help you with that goal, they have helped my clients reach their mental and physical health goals. Success in an endeavour is about consistent commitment.  Keep putting one foot in front of the other when you feel despair, keep moving forward, even if only by baby steps. You can do this!

There are going to be many hard days in life. I have had many and know life will continue to come with challenges and hard days. Consider creating a mantra to help you on the hard days that feel mentally and hope challenging.  Check out my mantra in my blog post SURVIVAL MANTRA: Words to get you through the hard times

flores-no-ceu-azulpdthriving

Follow my road map to help you edit your mental and physical health equations, restoring your health so that you can get on with your life and the pursuit of meaningful goals and relationships. Find alternate mood protecting and enhancing supports at My Green Medicine Cabinet. Consult your regular healthcare provider before stopping medications or adding in alternative supports. 

Consider escaping to a farmacy, garden, green space or botanical experience

‘for your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual ails’

escapetothefarmacy2

Escaping to, immersing in and eating from nature and botanical experiences brings so many body, mind and spirit benefits!

Using distractions, healthy escapes, as therapy has been one of my ongoing tools for coping with life’s challenging days. Although I no longer suffer from depression and my brain functions better than it has in year, I still use distraction therapy on days when life’s challenges mount, like those that present from the multiplier effect of having a large family and the present day challenges presented by the pandemic. There are many mind immersing ‘distraction therapy’ tools available. Follow my posts where I share some of my favourites.

These are very difficult times and existing mental health and addiction challenges can be magnified. If you have people in your life who are exhibiting threatening mental health behaviours towards themselves or others, it is important to take action through setting boundaries and incident reporting.  Failure to take note and action could result in serious consequences for you or other people, including your loved ones. The recent events in Nova Scotia highlights the seriousness of radical changes in a person’s mental state that led to the death of so many innocent people. Utilize and recommend the mental health supports that are readily available during the pandemic, through governments and community services. Check out the resource list below.

I started researching for my book and writing while I was recovering. My brain and some of my body are still ‘a work in progress’.

Every brain, body and mental health symptom should be investigated as a part of the whole person. From the ‘reverse engineering’ of my nervous and immune system crash after moving into a new home many decades ago, I know that I would have been spared many years of suffering had my symptoms been investigated in the context of my whole body, person and health. Fast forward to today and I am symptom free and feel healthy and blessed.  I have taken my recovered health ‘reverse engineering’ information and combined it with my research on natural strategies to write The Whole Person Well-being Equation. If you are suffering from any symptoms, consider a ‘whole person’ approach to investigating and eliminating your symptoms. You are after all, ‘the sum of your parts’.

There is more editing and healing to do, in terms of my 100% brain function goals. One of my left over quirks/deficiencies from my past chemical brain damage, is that while having a conversation a word will occasionally come out in a sentence that is not the word I intended.  Not sure where that comes from. My brain substitutes an alternate, unrelated word for the word that I intended. People tend to be a bit confused at times, as well as me.  Sometimes adds a bit of humour! It isn’t always easy to laugh at oneself when one malfunctions, physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually. You will find many blog posts that I have written throughout my recovery from physical and mental challenges on my blog.  At the very end of this post I have listed several blog posts about brain challenges, so scroll to the bottom of this post to read more.

Wishing you whole person well-being!

Elisabeth Hines, C.N.C., C.B.P., Holistic Wellness Practitioner, Health by Design, http://www.mybodycanhealitself.ca/

This blog post contains Amazon affiliate links for qualified product purchases.

My Bookshttp://www.mybodycanhealitself.ca/books.htm

https://www.facebook.com/HealthbyDesignForAHealthierYou/

https://www.facebook.com/LIVE.DEPRESSION.FREE/

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Must Read Books for mental health recovery:

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[1] http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Bee_Movie

[2] Scientists quash claims about single ‘depression genes’, Medical News Today, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324884

[3] What does it mean to have a genetic predisposition to a disease? US National Library of Medicine, https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/primer/mutationsanddisorders/predisposition

[4] Involvement of Genetic and Environmental Factors in the Onset of Depression, US National Library of Medicine, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3897684/

[5] Pollution in People, Toxic Chemical Profiles of 11 families and 5 adults across Canada, https://environmentaldefence.ca/report/report-pollution-in-people-toxic-chemical-profiles-of-11-adults-and-5-families-across-canada/

[6] Blood lead levels and major depressive disorder, panic disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder in U.S. young adults, US National Library of Medicine, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2917196/

[7] Childhood lead exposure linked to poor adult mental health, Science Daily, https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/01/190123112330.htm

[8] Air pollution, mental health, and implications for urban design: a review, Journal of Urban Design and Mental Health, https://www.urbandesignmentalhealth.com/journal-4—air-pollution-and-mental-health.html

[9] Understanding nutrition, depression and mental illnesses, Indian Journal of Psychiatry, US National Library of Medicine, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2738337/

[10] Nutritional psychiatry: Your brain on food. Dr. Eva Selhub, Harvard Health Blog, March 26, 2020, https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/nutritional-psychiatry-your-brain-on-food-201511168626

[11] A Dietary Treatment for Depression: A Randomized controlled trial shows the right diet can improve depression. Dr. Emily Deans, Psychology Today, March 17, 2017

[12] Chronic Stress Leads to Anxiety and Depression, Annals of Psychiatry and Mental Health, https://www.jscimedcentral.com/Psychiatry/psychiatry-5-1091.pdf

[13] Meditation and yoga can ‘reverse’ DNA reactions which cause stress, new study suggests, Science Daily, https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170615213301.htm

Resources:

Check with your local and national government websites to find supports for your region and country.

Mental Health Commission of Canada – https://www.mentalhealthcommission.ca/English/external-covid-19-resources-general-public

Taking Care of your Mental Health During COVID-19, Government of Canada, https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/mental-health.html

Canadian Mental Health Association – https://cmha.ca/news/covid-19-and-mental-health

Diet quality and depression risk: A systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studiesJournal of Affective Disorders, January 15, 2018.

Diet and Depression. Dr. Monique Tello, Harvard Health Blog, January 29, 2020.

Dietary patterns and depression risk: A meta-analysis. Psychiatry Research, July 2017.

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More of my blog posts to help you edit your mental health equation:

THE POWER OF MIND BODY HEALING TO BECOME SYMPTOM FREE – http://mybodycanhealitself.ca/wordpress/the-power-of-mind-body-healing-to-become-symptom-free/

BACK TO ‘BALANCE’: Body, Mind & Spirit Life Balancing Self-Care Strategies – http://mybodycanhealitself.ca/wordpress/back-to-balance-body-mind-life-balancing-self-care-strategies/

YOUR BODY’S INTERNAL COMMUNICATION SYSTEM: Improving crucial messaging for better health – http://mybodycanhealitself.ca/wordpress/your-bodys-internal-communication-system-improving-crucial-messaging-for-better-health/

SELF-TALK REPROGRAMMING: How to Change How Your Body & Brain Response ‘for a healthier you’ – http://mybodycanhealitself.ca/wordpress/self-talk-reprogramming-how-to-change-how-your-body-brain-respond-for-a-healthier-you/

THE GIFT of a Healthy Brain: Strategies to Protect and Restore Optimum Brain Function – http://mybodycanhealitself.ca/wordpress/the-gift-of-a-healthy-brain-strategies-to-protect-and-restore-optimum-brain-function/

INDOOR AIR QUALITY: A Potential for Compromised Brain, Nervous System and Overall Health – http://mybodycanhealitself.ca/wordpress/indoor-air-quality-a-potential-for-compromised-brain-nervous-system-and-overall-health/

BRAIN & NERVOUS SYSTEM FUNCTION RECOVERY: More is Possible! – http://mybodycanhealitself.ca/wordpress/brain-nervous-system-function-recovery-more-is-possible/

HEAVY METALS: Dangerous To Your Brain – http://mybodycanhealitself.ca/wordpress/heavy-metals-dangerous-to-your-brain/

BRAIN INJURY: Natural Strategies for Recovery – http://mybodycanhealitself.ca/wordpress/brain-injury-natural-strategies-for-recovery/