How Thanksgiving Promotes Health and Well-Being

27 Nov

Thanksgiving traditions and well-being


Did you know that Thanksgiving was not an official holiday until nearly 250 years after the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock, when Abraham Lincoln issued the 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation? Here are some other interesting facts about common “Turkey Day” traditions, and how they can actually help promote well-being.

Giving Thanks Is Good for Your Health

No matter what shape you’re in, a sense of gratitude will make you feel better because expressing and articulating the things you are thankful for in your life has been shown to have a positive effect not only on your mood, but your overall health.

Turkey Is a Good Source of Protein…

Studies show that caloric intake goes down when you eat more protein and less carbohydrate. This is not surprising when you consider protein is the most satiating of the macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, and fats). Several other aspects of health and well-being are also dependent on protein and its constituent amino acids, such as the construction of hormones, neurotransmitters, muscles, and nerves, to name a few.

So fill your plate with turkey before anything else. Here’s another tip: If you’re watching your waistline, you can reduce your fat consumption by taking off the skin. Turkey is relatively low in fat to begin with, but removing the skin will cut the amount of fat in half! Furthermore, opting for white meat instead of dark can trim about 100 calories off your Thanksgiving turkey dinner.

…and Can Help Boost Your Mood

Turkey also contains small amounts of tryptophan. A direct precursor to the “feel-good” neurotransmitter serotonin, this amino acid gives your body the raw materials it needs to enhance mood naturally. Tryptophan also increases production of the sleep hormone melatonin, which is why many folks feel like napping after their Thanksgiving meal.

Sweet Potatoes: Chock-Full of Benefits

For starters, sweet potatoes have a lower glycemic load than white potatoes, making them a better choice. Plus, sweet potatoes are chock-full of vitamins C and E and other antioxidants, particularly beta-carotene—nutrients that promote healthy vision and boost immune function. And like most plant foods, sweet potatoes are a good source of fiber, which provides a wide range of benefits, including healthy bowel function and support for normal blood sugar levels. Just remember, if they’re loaded with brown sugar or maple syrup, this will outweigh any potential benefit.

Cranberries Prevent More Than Just UTIs

Cranberries are renowned for their ability to prevent urinary tract infections in susceptible women because of the proanthocyanidins they contain. But these same compounds have also been shown to prevent other infections, and protect the stomach lining from invasion by H. pylori bacteria, which is the leading cause of ulcers.

Benefits of Pumpkin: Beyond the Seeds

Dr. Whitaker generally recommends staying away from sugar-laden desserts since sugar can wreak havoc on your health. But, if the temptation to have a slice of pie is too great or this Thanksgiving tradition is too important to pass up, your best bet is pumpkin. Although pumpkin seeds are probably best known for their therapeutic properties, the flesh can also help promote well-being. Why? It is an excellent source of beta cryptoxanthin, a lesser-known carotenoid, as compared to beta-carotene, lutein, lycopene, etc., yet just as powerful at maintaining health and well-being. For example, one study found that people with the lowest intake of beta cryptoxanthin [and zeaxanthin] were twice as likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis and other forms of inflammatory arthritis as those with the highest intake.

Now it’s your turn: What is your favorite Thanksgiving tradition? I hope you had a great thanksgiving

Dr. Whitaker

Why A Raw Food Diet is Better Than An Antacid

23 Nov

Why a Raw Food Diet is Better Than an Antacid

Skip the antacids. Raw foods are a far safer, and more effective, solution for chronic indigestion.

If you’re one of the many people who suffers from chronic indigestion, you’re not alone. Just one look at the shelves in your pharmacy at all of the antacids is enough to show you that Americans are suffering from digestive ills in record numbers. But while an occasional antacid is okay, Dr. Sinatra doesn’t encourage you to use them regularly. That’s because many antacids contain aluminum which can actually contribute to chronic digestion and Alzheimer’s disease.
A far better solution for solving digestive problems is a raw food diet. Raw fruits and vegetables contain live vital organic elements, particularly enzymes, which help to digest proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Yet, many Americans don’t eat enough raw foods. Many of our foods are cooked, microwaved, and irradiated. Gamma radiation or high voltage X-rays used to kill microorganisms also destroys live enzymes. Plus, “dead food”—food with no caloric or phytonutrient value (like white table sugar, flours, most breads, or microwaved and processed foods)—drains precious digestion-boosting enzymes.

One of the Best Choices for a Raw Food Diet is Green Foods

One of the best ways to get more enzymes in a raw food diet is by eating green foods. Green foods, also called “super foods,” are concentrations of nutrients from the juices of highly nutritious foods like broccoli, carrots, beets, parsley, and celery, as well as young shoots from less common foods like barley and alfalfa. The concentration of nutrients helps to support your immune system, cleanse your body, give you energy, promote bowel function, improve the function of your intestinal tract, and even helps control weight.
When you look for a greens product for your raw food diet, check to see that it contains at least the following:
  • Barley greens, wheat grass, and spirulina are loaded with chlorophyll that stimulates metabolism, boosts immune function, and detoxifies your system.
  • Alfalfa has incredible trace mineral qualities that other foods simply cannot duplicate. Alfalfa sprout salads are an excellent way to get live enzymes.
  • Sea vegetables are one of nature’s richest sources of immune-boosting proteins, phytonutrients, and enzymes.
  • Cilantro has been known to chelate mercury, thus reducing stress on vital organs.
  • Fructo-oligosaccharides fertilize healthy bacteria like Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus, and neutralize toxin-producing bad bacteria. Toxins in the bowel are the cause of 80–90 percent of all illnesses.

Juicing is also another good way to take in enzymes that support digestion in a raw food diet. While solid foods require many hours to digest, juice extracted from fruits and vegetables is digested and assimilated within minutes. Juicing simultaneously improves your energy and regenerates cells, tissues, glands, and even organs. It’s also great for detoxifying the body and cleansing the bowel. The benefits of juicing will be apparent immediately and will last as long as you continue to juice.

Now it’s your turn: Have you found that a raw food diet has helped your digestion?

Dr. Sinatra

10 Reasons To Take More Vitamin E…

20 Nov



Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that contains powerful antioxidants that can promote and strengthen the immune system, while providing protection for blood sugar levels. It’s also ideal for preventing strokes and is super beneficial for heart health.

But did you know there are many other benefits to taking Vitamin E? Take a look at some of the list below to get a better idea of why you might want to consider taking this vitamin daily…

1. Fades Scars. As a powerful antioxidant it can accelerate the healing of damaged skin and also prevent scars from becoming too noticeable. Vitamin E Is also super moisturizing and can help to heal damaged tissue, leaving it feeling smooth and soft. Massaging Vitamin E into skin daily can help.

2. Fights Wrinkles. Used daily, Vitamin E can help to provide protective benefits against the first signs of premature aging, fine lines and wrinkles. The Vitamin E can also stimulate collagen production therefore keeping skin more firm and elastic, preventing it from sagging. It’s recommended to rub Vitamin E oil onto the skin every evening before going to sleep for best results.

3. Strengthens Nails. If you suffer with thin or brittle nails that break easily, it’s highly recommended that you try Vitamin E as this super moisturizing oil can keep the nails well hydrated and prevent them from cracking or splitting. By adding a little Vitamin E in with the olive oil or coconut oil and mixing well, then leaving the nails to soak for 5-10 minutes twice weekly, this can leave your nails feeling hydrated and stronger overall.

4. Stops Split Ends. Vitamin E is excellent for repairing any damage to hair, by deeply conditioning the hair follicles, leaving them nourished and looking glossy and smooth. If hair is prone to splitting due to being treated with hair colors, curling irons or straighteners, it’s highly recommended to regularly use Vitamin E on the hair.

5. Longer Cell Life. Aging happens when cells are exposed to free radicals, resulting in weakened molecules and premature aging. It can also contribute to other problems such as heart disease or even cancer. While free radical damage can’t be 100% avoided, it’s possible to limit the amount of free radical damage that can shorten the life span of cells within the body. If you want to stay young looking and to slow down the aging process, it’s highly recommended to try Vitamin E.

6. Helps with Hyper-pigmentation. Dark or uneven colored patches on the skin can be reversed by taking the powerful antioxidant known as Vitamin E. It can also reverse damage caused by UV rays from the sun and even out skin tone.

7. Eases Stretch Marks. Losing weight or pregnancy can all play a role in the formation of stretch marks. Taking Vitamin E on a regular basis can help with minimizing these scars and its antioxidant compounds can stimulate collagen fibers within the skin from any damage caused by free radicals. This then encourages skin to retain its elasticity, thereby preventing new stretch marks. Mixing Vitamin E oil or taking Naturally Better Vitamin E oil daily can help. Naturally Better Vitamin E is vastly superior to ordinary Vitamin E oil as it contains 100% natural tocotrienols and these are 300% better absorbed compared to tocopherols. Tocotrienols belong to the fat soluble Vitamin E family and can provide numerous health benefits including neuroprotective properties, may reduce arterial stiffness and cholesterol levels, while improving ventricular function and even regressing atherosclerosis.

8. Treats Dermatitis. Inflammation of the skin can cause aggravating symptoms like swelling and itching, or even burning feelings. Vitamin E can help the skin to heal quickly and provide relief from this painful itching. Gently rubbing Vitamin E oil onto the skin every night can help you before going to sleep.

9. Makes Hair Grow Faster. The Vitamin E has a moisturizing effect and can deeply condition hair, even prevent premature graying. By mixing two Vitamin E capsules in warm olive oil and massaging into hair 30 minutes before showering, it’s possible to repair damaged hair follicles and prevent any corrosion of tissue in the scalp. For best results, it’s recommended to do this twice weekly.

10. Provides Excellent Protection From Toxins. Many health problems can be related to free radical damage to DNA, causing damage on a cellular level. Vitamin E can work as a powerful antioxidant to seek out and kill these free radicals, providing super protection from environmental toxins on a daily basis.

Recommended Dosage

While there are eight varieties of vitamin E, alpha-tocopherol is the only type that meets the requirements of humans, reports the Office of Dietary Supplements. Natural forms of vitamin E are labeled as “d,” such as d-alpha-tocopherol, while synthetic forms are labeled as “dl.” Vitamin E occurs naturally in some foods, but can be added to other foods in either of these forms. If you take a vitamin E supplement, look for the alpha-tocopherol form for maximum benefits. You need 15 mg of vitamin E each day, which does not change if you are pregnant. This amount increases to 19 mg if you are breastfeeding.

Deficiency and Toxicity

Having a vitamin E deficiency is very rare, but it may occur if you have diminished fat absorption from Crohn’s disease or intestinal surgery, reports A vitamin E deficiency may also occur if you follow a very low-fat diet or suffer from malnutrition. Signs of a deficiency include anemia and neurological issues. You can overdose and have toxic levels of vitamin E, since it is stored in your fat. Do not take more than 1,000 mg of vitamin E. Consuming high amounts of vitamin E can increase your risk of death, reports the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Food Sources

You can get all of the vitamin E you need by eating certain foods. Wheat germ oil is naturally high in vitamin E; just 1 tbsp. provides 20.3 mg. A 1 oz. serving of almonds has 7.4 mg, 1 oz. of sunflower seeds contains 6 mg, 2 tbsps. of peanut butter has 2.9 mg and 1/2 cup of cooked spinach contains 1.9 mg. Broccoli, kiwi, raw spinach, mangoes and tomatoes each provide around 1 mg of vitamin E per serving.

Robert Redfern

19 Nov


If you’re feeling symptoms of psoriatic arthritis— such as stiff joints, swollen fingers or fatigue—it’s critical to see a rheumatologist as quickly as possible. Research shows that, if left untreated, psoriatic arthritis can result in significant joint damage.

study published in February 2014 in the journal Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases found that, if left undiagnosed for even as little as six months, psoriatic arthritis may lead to more long-term joint damage as well as worse physical disability.

Scientists are continuing to learn more about the crucial first years following diagnosis. A study from a team of rheumatologists in Sweden, published in October in the Journal of Rheumatology, offers new information about how the disease advances in the first few years after diagnosis.

Results from the study suggest that psoriatic arthritis may progress differently in men than it does in women and that it’s important for doctors to use both clinical exams and X-ray imaging to evaluate how a patient is doing.

The study analyzed the medical records of 72 patients in a Swedish psoriatic arthritis registry, assessing symptoms and severity five years after diagnosis. Doctors tracked disease progression using both X-rays and clinical exams, trying to determine how to predict which patients were more likely to develop more serious joint damage.

Clinical exams looked at factors such as the number of swollen and tender joints, pain and physical function, while X-rays were used to measure signs of joint damage.

Researchers found that patients whose X-rays already showed damage at the time of diagnosis had a higher risk of showing a large amount of damage at the five-year mark. Swollen fingers or toes, known as dactylitis, at the five-year mark was also a possible indication of joint damage.

In addition, the study found that men may be more likely than women to develop joint damage. However, women may be more likely to experience more severe clinical symptoms, such as poorer physical function and a higher number of tender joints.

These findings could be used to guide treatment decisions for psoriatic arthritis, the researchers noted. Based on the results of the study, the researchers suggested that X-rays may be particularly useful for tracking joint damage in men, while doctors may need to pay more attention to symptoms such as physical function or pain in women.

Patients should work with their doctor to find the treatment plan that’s right for them. Sign up to stay up-to-date on the latest research and treatments for psoriatic arthritis.

Moderate to Severe Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis: Biologic Drugs

Biologic drugs, or “biologics,” are given by injection or intravenous (IV) infusion. A biologic is a protein-based drug derived from living cells cultured in a laboratory. While biologics have been used to treat disease for more than 100 years, modern-day techniques have made biologics much more widely available as treatments in the last decade.

Biologics are different from traditional systemic drugs that impact the entire immune system. Biologics, instead, target specific parts of the immune system. The biologics used to treat psoriatic disease block the action of a specific type of immune cell called a T cell, or block proteins in the immune system, such as tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), interleukin 17-A, or interleukins 12 and 23. These cells and proteins all play a major role in developing psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.

What are the risks?

Anyone considering taking a biologic drug should talk with his or her doctor about the short- and long-term side effects and risks. It is important to weigh the risks against the benefits of using the drugs.

Biologics can increase the risk of infection. Individuals who develop any sign of an infection such as a fever, cough or flu-like symptoms or have any cuts or open sores should contact their doctor right away.

The impact of biologics on developing fetuses or nursing infants is not known. Biologics should only be prescribed to pregnant or nursing women if there is a clear medical need.

Common side effects for biologics include:

  • Respiratory infections
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Injection site reactions

These side effects are generally mild and in most cases do not cause individuals to stop taking the medication.

Rare side effects for biologics include:

  • Serious nervous system disorders, such as multiple sclerosis, seizures, or inflammation of the nerves of the eyes;
  • Blood disorders;
  • Certain types of cancer.

Physical therapy

How it helps: Maintains range of motion, flexibility, and function in joints affected by psoriatic arthritis. A physical therapist tailors exercises that patients perform on a regular basis. Occupational therapists may also help people with pain in the hands and arms learn to perform daily activities at work and home more safely.

Need to know: Stephen Paget, MD, rheumatologist and physician-in-chief emeritus at the Hospital for Special Surgery, in New York City, recommends that all patients see a physical therapist and an occupational therapist to learn exercises and how to avoid overusing their joints. “It is a routine, important part of the care,” he says.

Topical treatments

Topical medicines are applied directly to the skin to treat scaly, itchy rashes due to psoriasis. Available in creams, gels, lotions, shampoos, sprays or ointments, these drugs are available OTC and by prescription. OTC ones include salicylic acid, which helps lift and peel scales, and coal tar, which may slow rapid cell growth of scales and ease itching and inflammation. Prescription topicals contain corticosteroids and/or vitamin derivatives. Common prescription ones include calcitriol, a naturally occurring form of vitamin D3; calcipotriene, a synthetic form of vitamin D3; calcipotriene combined with the corticosteroid betamethasone dipropionate; tazarotene (a vitamin-A derivative); and anthralin, a synthetic form of chrysarobin, a substance derived from the South American araroba tree.

Light therapy

Another option for treating psoriasis is phototherapy, or light therapy. In light therapy, the skin is regularly exposed to ultraviolet light. For safety reasons, this is done under medical supervision.

Melissa Leavitt

Psoriasis, Falsehood, Facts, and the 10 Natural Skin Care Strategies You Should Try

16 Nov

Psoriasis: Falsehoods, Facts, and the 10 Natural Skin Care Strategies You Should Try


Psoriasis is the most prevalent autoimmune disease in the United States with at least 7.5 million people affected. That works out to over 2% of the population!

Psoriasis causes skin cells to mature five times faster than normal and, unlike normal healthy skin cells, they do not slough off, which causes thickening and flaking of the skin. Psoriasis can range from a few flaky patches to lesions covering much of the body. The root cause of psoriasis is a malfunction of the immune system.

Understanding Psoriasis

Many people think that psoriasis is an allergy (not true) or that these scaly patches are contagious (also not true). Another myth about psoriasis is that only young people get this skin condition. The fact is that anybody at any age can develop psoriasis, although it tends to be most common in individuals between ages 15 and 25. Some famous people with psoriasis include reality star Kim Kardashian, country musician LeAnn Rimes, TV host Stacy London, and singer Art Garfunkel.

Targeting Triggers

While we still do not know why some people develop psoriasis and others do not, there is a prevailing theory today that psoriasis is caused by a trigger. Triggers include stress and injuries to the skin, such as bug bites, bruises and scrapes, poison ivy or poison oak, and burns—including chemical burns and sunburn.

Certain medications are also considered psoriasis triggers, including lithium (used to treat manic depression), drugs that fight malaria (such as plaquenil, quinacrine, chloroquine, and hydroxychloroquine), inderal (a blood pressure medication), beta-blockers, the heart medication quinidine, and the arthritis drug indomethacin. In addition, other triggers might be allergies, poor diet, weather, and possibly infections.

What Doctors Do for Psoriasis: Conventional Skin Care Treatments

Mild psoriasis is treated by most physicians with topical ointments, many of which contain cortisone. More severe cases may require drugs that suppress the immune system. These are powerful drugs. So if your doctor suggests drug therapy for your psoriasis, ask about the potential side effects, the risks of drug therapy, and the likelihood that the drugs will get rid of the psoriasis.

What You Can Do for Psoriasis: Natural Skin Care Treatments

While the natural health approach to treating psoriasis requires persistence, the following 10 skin care strategies can make a real difference to psoriasis sufferers who wish to restore healthy skin.

  • Eat a healthful diet. Many people do not realize the incredible power smart eating has to promote healthy skin. That means eating lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, very little sugar, and no “white foods” (white flour, white sugar, white pasta).
  • Weather watch. Avoid dry, cold weather as much as you can. Get a humidifier to help you through days when the weather is cold and dry.
  • Lay it on thick. Use a thick moisturizer after bathing.
  • Be diligent. Apply soothing lotions to the affected area as often as you can.
  • Supplement. Take a high-quality multivitamin, including vitamin A.
  • Be careful. Protect the affected area as much as you can. If you get scrapes or cuts to the affected area, it can cause a flare or infection.
  • Practice smart sun exposure. Do get some sun on the affected area, but not too much. Natural sunlight can slow skin growth, which can be beneficial with psoriasis.
  • Take warm or cool salt-water baths. Get some Dead Sea salts at a bath or health food store to soak in at home. Art Garfunkel has claimed the super-salty waters of the Dead Sea helped his psoriasis greatly.
  • Reduce alcohol intake. Alcohol seems to worsen psoriasis, particularly in men.
  • Take a probioticPsoriasis is one of those conditions that you can fight from the inside out.

Dr. Aaron Tabor

Top 10 Tips for Combating Gastroesophageal Reflux

9 Nov


While the exact reasons are unknown, many patients with Sjögren’s suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). This can cause a wide variety of symptoms that can be mistaken for other conditions. Symptoms may include persistent heartburn and/or regurgitation of acid, stomach pain, hoarseness or voice change, throat pain, sore throat, difficulty swallowing, sensation of having a lump in the throat, frequent throat clearing and chronic cough (especially at night time or upon awakening).

Tips for combating gastroesophageal reflux in the throat:

1. Avoid lying flat during sleep. Elevate the head of your bed using blocks or by placing a styrofoam wedge under the mattress. Do not rely on pillows as these may only raise the head but not the esophagus.

2. Don’t gorge yourself at mealtime. Eat smaller more frequent meals and one large meal.

3. Avoid bedtime snacks and eat meals at least three-four hours before lying down.

4. Lose any excess weight.

5. Avoid spicy, acidic or fatty foods including citrus fruits or juices, tomato-based products, peppermint, chocolate, and alcohol.

6. Limit your intake of caffeine including coffee, tea and colas.

7. Stop smoking.

8. Don’t exercise within one-two hours after eating.

9. Promote saliva flow by chewing gum, sucking on lozenges.  This can help neutralize stomach acid and reduce symptoms.

10. Consult your doctor if you have heartburn or take antacids more than three times per week. A variety of OTC and prescription medications can help but should only be taken with medical supervision.

Soo Kim Abboud, MD

Tips to Banish Bad Breath

6 Nov

How to banish bad breath

Garlic then hath power to save from death
Bear with it though it maketh unsavory breath,
And scorn not garlic like some that think
It only maketh men wink and drink and stink.
             — The Englishman’s Doctor, by Sir John Harrington, 1609

As this verse laments, the major drawback to eating garlic—or other strong-smelling foods like onions or tuna fish—is bad breath. Usually, the smell is transient and can be masked with a good brushing or a mint or stick of gum.

Chronic bad breath or halitosis, on the other hand, is another story. Billions of dollars are spent in this country every year on products promising to get rid of this condition. Yet most of these products, which include alcohol-, peroxide- and baking soda-based mouthwashes, toothpastes and sprays, mask the odor at best and in some cases actually make the problem worse.

But don’t worry. If you’re one of the 40 million Americans who suffer with halitosis, I’ve got a few tips for you that will help you banish bad breath.

Tip #1 to Banish Bad Breath: Maintain Scrupulous Oral Hygiene

It should go without saying that daily brushing and flossing along with regular professional cleanings and dental check-ups go a long way toward preventing bad breath. These measures reduce the buildup of bacteria that emit volatile sulfur compounds, which are the primary cause of the foul smell of halitosis.

Unfortunately, studies show that only about 70 percent of Americans brush their teeth the recommended minimum two times per day and just 41 percent floss on a daily basis. Furthermore, according to a Gallup poll, in 2013 more than one-third of US adults didn’t bother visiting their dentist at all.

Banishing bad breath starts with brushing your teeth at least twice a day for two minutes each time and flossing daily as well. Research suggests that “water flossing” (Waterpiks) may be even more effective than traditional flossing because most people don’t use dental floss correctly or regularly. I also recommend seeing your dental hygienist every six to 12 months for deeper cleanings to ensure fresher breath and tip-top oral health.

Tip #2 to Banish Bad Breath: Try Tongue Scraping

Most folks brush their teeth pretty regularly, but how many of you actually clean your tongue? You should, because tongues are particularly susceptible to bacteria that cause bad breath. Of course, you can clean your tongue with your toothbrush, but I also recommend you consider tongue scraping, which has long been a routine hygiene practice in many cultures, especially in Africa, India, and the Middle East.

Tongue scraping removes the coating of bacteria-containing plaque, thus sweetening the breath and lessening the overall bacteria load that contributes to gum disease and tooth decay. Look for tongue scrapers—long, thin, curved pieces of metal or plastic—online or in your health food or drug store, and use as directed.

Tip #3 to Banish Bad Breath: Use Alcohol-Free Mouthwash

Do you regularly use mouthwash to freshen your breath? Then you’d better reconsider. Most mouthwashes contain alcohol, and studies have linked these popular products with an increased risk of oral cancer. When alcohol is swished around the mouth, it not only allows carcinogens easier entrance into the oral mucosa, but one of its byproducts, acetaldehyde, is itself carcinogenic. Alcohol-containing mouthwashes also eradicate the good bacteria on the back of the tongue that play a role in the production of nitric oxide, which is essential for blood vessel dilation and cardiovascular health.

Experts agree that a good brushing and flossing are more important than using mouthwash, but if you like the fresh feeling and sweet breath that mouthwash provides, I encourage you to switch to an alcohol-free product, such as Tooth and Gums Tonic from the Dental Herb Company.

Tip #4 to Banish Bad Breath: Consider “Oil Pulling”

“Oil pulling” is an ancient Ayurvedic medicine practice that is purported to have multiple health benefits including improving bad breath. You simply put a tablespoon of coconut oil (extra-virgin preferred) in your mouth and swish it around, much like you would mouthwash, for 15 minutes or longer before spitting it out.

In addition to promoting oral health and freshening the breath by “pulling out” bacteria and plaque, oil pulling is purported to clear out sinus passages, help detox the body, and protect against all kinds of ills. I can’t personally vouch for all of these health benefits, but oil pulling does leave your mouth feeling pretty clean and likely helps get rid of bad breath too.

Tip #5 to Banish Bad Breath: Give Probiotics a Chance

You can also fight bad breath with probiotics. When you suck on lozenges that contain Streptococcus salivarius K12, these beneficial bacteria colonize the mouth, crowding out and inhibiting the growth of odor-producing bacteria. As an added bonus, probiotic lozenges also help stave off ear, nose, and throat infections.

This approach has worked for many of my Whitaker Wellness patients and Health & Healing subscribers. “For several years, I had postnasal drip accompanied by a bad taste in my mouth and breath problems, despite brushing my teeth and using mouthwash. I spent thousands of dollars in an attempt to find a solution, but the problem persisted. After the first week of using Streptococcus salivarius, I now have clear fresh breath and not a trace of sinus problems.” — Anonymous

Tip #6 to Banish Bad Breath: Drink Tea

Want to give bad breath the boot? Try drinking a cup of tea. Landmark studies conducted more than a decade ago found that antioxidant-rich extracts from green and black tea had the ability to kill off odor-causing bacteria. This same research demonstrated that the polyphenols tea contains prevented plaque formation and eliminated the production of acids that can lead to cavity formation. Try drinking a cup of black or green tea daily—even if it doesn’t help with bad breath, tea has so many other positive effects, it’s sure to benefit your health.

Tip #7 to Banish Bad Breath: Rule Out Other Causes

Chronic bad breath can also be a warning sign of more serious problems. Gum or periodontal disease is an obvious culprit. But bad breath can also be due to GERD (acid reflux), postnasal drip, chronic sinusitis, throat and respiratory infections, liver and kidney disease, lactose intolerance, certain medications, and more. If your symptom persists, talk to your doctor about ruling out underlying medical disorders.

No More Embarrassing Bad Breath

Bad breath doesn’t have to be an embarrassing health problem any longer. Just follow these tips and you’ll be well on your way to fresher breath and better oral health overall.

Now it’s your turn: Do you have any other tips to help banish bad breath?

Dr. Whitaker

The Sun & Sjögren’s: How to protect yourself

4 Nov

Sjögren’s patients, and those suffering from autoimmune disease in general, need to be cautious about their time in the sun. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation emitted from the sun and other light sources (such as some fluorescent lights) can alter immune function and lead to an autoimmune response in the body and skin.

In response to the sun, Sjögren’s patients can experience skin rashesocular sensitivitypain, and disease flares. Sun sensitivity with Sjögren’s is associated with the autoantibody SSA/or Ro. Below are a few tips to help protect yourself this summer and year-round.

  • Protect your skin and eyes through use of sunscreen, UV-protective lenses/sunglasses, ultraviolet light-protective clothing, hats, and non-fluorescent lighting. Sun-protective clothing is designed to protect your skin from UVA & UVB rays and is more reliable than sunscreen.
  • SSF_Sun_and_Sjogrens_TipsConsider purchasing UV-protective car and home window tinting and films (which come in clear.)
  • Wear sunscreen on areas not covered by sun-protective clothing, such as the neck and ears.
  • Read sunscreen labels and look for the words “broad spectrum,” which protects from both UVA & UVB light. Note that the SPF ratings refer only to UVB rays.
  • Use plenty of sunscreen with a higher number SPF. Most people only use about 1/3 the recommended amount of sunscreen. This reduces the benefit of the SPF rating.
  • Remember to reapply sunscreen because water, humidity and sweating decrease sunscreen effectiveness.
  • Investigate whether UV-protective clothing and eyewear, window shields, and sunscreens are eligible for reimbursement under your insurance plan or Flexible Health Care Spending Account.

Mona Z. Mofid, MD, FAAD

Natural Herbs & Spices That Alleviate Dry Eye Symptoms

2 Nov



Could alleviating dry eye pain be as simple as spicing up your life a little bit? (No, don’t cue Victoria Beckham- we mean that in a literal sense!) There are plenty of natural herbs and spices that are full of dry eye fighting antioxidants. In fact, you might even find dry eye relief in your own spice cabinet! Intrigued yet? We thought so. Behold, some of the best natural herbs and spices to help prevent your peepers from drying out:

This wonder spice was a hit with our dry eye prone friends. Sometimes known as curcumin, turmeric is an Asian spice that is protective against a number of diseases (including dry eye!). However, there’s a catch: turmeric is not always easily absorbed. Experiment with this natural anti-inflammatory anyway- it may help reduce oxidative stress. (P.S. One of our Facebook friends shared her go-to hot beverage for dry eyes a few months back. Try Janice’s recipe: Warm up some almond milk, sprinkle a tsp of turmeric, ½ tsp cinnamon and 1/8 tsp cloves. Finish with a dollop of raw honey. Whisk together and voila, an inventive {and delicious} way to incorporate turmeric into your diet!)

Paprika has an extremely high concentration of vitamin A, which is great for warding off dry eye symptoms. Other good news about paprika, it’s an extremely versatile ingredient- and just about everyone has it sitting in the spice cabinet. Try using paprika next time you cook. It’s awesome for boosting flavor- and nutrition! Get a dose of paprika by sprinkling it on potato salads, fish, chicken and eggs.

You may have already heard that bilberry, a shrub closely related to the blueberry, is great for overall eye health and retinal diseases like macular degeneration. Well, it’s also particularly beneficial for dry, itchy eyes. Extracts from the bilberry fruit help to improve blood circulation, oxygen supply and tear gland function. Additionally, bilberries contain vitamin P and citrin, both of which help to decrease swelling and inflammation in the body; a common dry eye trigger. Experiment with bilberry supplements or tea made from bilberry leaves. However, be careful not to over indulge. Ingest no more than 220 mg of bilberry per day.

Next time you’re tempted to rub those itchy, stinging eyes, try a spearmint eyewash instead. Simply boil about 10-12 leaves of spearmint in some water. Wait until the solution cools (at least 20 minutes!) and then use a clean face cloth to apply the wash to your eyes. Menthol, the active ingredient in mint, actually stimulates tear production and will leave your eyes feeling energized and refreshed. Plus, it smells amazing! Win-win.

Chamomile is known for its cooling and anti-inflammatory properties. It soothes tired eyes and can help restore moisture. Another bonus? Drinking chamomile tea makes you feel sleepy and prepares you for rest, so it’s the perfect drink to sip on after a long day.

So, there you have it; options for natural dry eye relief. Of course, the above mentioned are merely a few of the wondrous herbs and spices that can alleviate dry eye pain.  Other potential dry eye fighters include thyme, fennel, marigold and calendula.

TearLab Corporation

Estrogen Dominance and Its Link to Xenoestrogen Exposure

30 Oct

Estrogen Dominance and Its Link to Xenoestrogen Exposure


Over the last 50 or so years, estrogen dominance has become a major, yet for the most part overlooked, health threat. It is a condition where a woman can have deficient, normal, or excessive estrogen levels—but little or no progesterone to balance its effects in the body. In other words, there is too much estrogen relative to progesterone.

Several factors explain why estrogen dominance is so widely prevalent these days, but here I’d like to focus on just one particular factor: our increasing exposure to xenoestrogens.

Xenoestrogens Abound

Our environmental exposure to xenoestrogens—estrogen-like compounds—has been increasing at an alarming rate for decades. We now live in an estrogenic, feminizing fish bowl. Xenoestrogens, which are sometimes referred to as “gender benders,” can be 10 to 100 times more powerful than natural estrogen.

To demonstrate this potency, just look at the dramatic change we’ve seen in the age young girls today, who are constantly exposed to these compounds, are starting puberty. In 1900, the average age that girls entered puberty was 14.2. Contrast that with one of the most recent studies, which found that by the age of 7, 14 percent of white girls, 23.4 percent of black girls, and 14.9 percent of Hispanic girls had reached puberty. At 8 years old, 18.3 percent, 42.9 percent, and 30.9 percent, respectively, had reached puberty. (Pediatrics 10 Sep;126(3):e583–90)

Common xenoestrogens include BPA, PCBs, phthalates, flame retardants, pesticides, herbicides, and DDT residue, all of which have been found in our food and water supplies.

BPA has been recognized in the news lately as a particularly widespread endocrine disrupter. It is used to manufacture rigid plastic cups, water bottles, and food storage containers. It’s also found in the linings in many food cans and dental sealants. (Campbell’s uses BPA-free cans.)

Phthalates are used in PVC products to make them softer and more flexible. They show up in everything from toys to food packages, flooring, and shower curtains, as well as nail polish, hair spray, and shampoo.

How to Reduce Xenoextrogen Exposure

It would be impossible to list all of the xenoestrogen compounds now in use. There are literally thousands that can be legally added to our foods, cleaners, and personal care products. However, to limit your exposure as much as possible:

  • Go organic. Avoid consuming pesticides and growth hormones by choosing organic produce and hormone-free meats. Peel or thoroughly rinse non-organic fruits and vegetables. As a general rule, the closer you stay to nature with the foods you eat (the least amount of processing), the better you’ll be in the long run. The protection provided by a good multivitamin/mineral supplement is also essential.
  • Avoid pesticides and herbicides as much as possible. If you have to use one of these products, avoid direct contact and inhalation.
  • Use natural home cleaning products. Vinegar and baking soda are two good options.
  • Opt for chemical-free personal care products. Xenoestrogens are common ingredients in sunscreens, lotions, soaps, and shampoos. Just some of the xenoestrogens found in these products include DMP, DEP, DEHP, DBP and BzBP, and propyl gallate. (Keep in mind that just because something says natural, that doesn’t mean it’s not a xenoestrogen. Two natural items you should not use on young children are lavender and tea tree oil. It is not uncommon to see young babies or toddlers up to age 2 developing breast tissue from the use of lavender or tea tree oil bath soaps.)
  • Don’t touch thermal credit card and cash register receipts. They contain BPA. Research has found that individuals who handled these had the compound show up in their urine after just a few hours.
  • Don’t use plastic containers that contain BPA. Also, never microwave or heat food in plastic containers.
  • Take these supplements. Studies have demonstrated that turmeric (or its extract, curcumin) help stop the growth of estrogen-dependent cancer cells. I also recommend using natural detoxifiers such as cilantro and spirulina on a regular basis.  Green tea in high concentrations also has anti-estrogenic properties.
  • Avoid consumption of these products. Soy mimics estrogen, so stay away from processed soy products (although occasional consumption of fermented soy is acceptable). Sunflower, safflower, cottonseed, and canola oils may be natural, but they are estrogenic and should be avoided, or at least restricted. (Olive oil is fine.) Finally, licorice and red clover inhibit the activity of progesterone.

Dr. Williams


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