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Archive for natural health

Detox – Yes, the Brain!

Generally, in the herbal industry, we talk a lot about detoxing.  I have a complete annual detox regimen that I practice, a different body system or specific organ for each month of the year.  I’ll be glad to share it with you if you want to drop by the store and get one, or write me and ask for one.  It’s not “magic” or even completely professional, but I’ve been using it for several years now and my doctor says I’m doing fine with no serious health problems and I’ll be 74 this year.  So, why do I even mention it?  Because when we talk about cleansing (detoxing), we rarely talk about anything to detox the brain.

You see, the brain has a special barrier called the blood-brain barrier that tries to block many toxins from getting into the brain.  It works pretty well on many substances but not all.  If you’ve ever seen a drunk person, you know that alcohol isn’t blocked and the only way to detox it is to “endure the hangover.”  The body will detox it in time – with some side effects, however.

But there are some things that the body doesn’t detox on its own.  One of those that is particularly problematic for the brain is “heavy metals.”  They are particularly damaging to our immune and nervous systems, and produce a wide range of hard-to-diagnose symptoms.  I find this to be a problem for customers who work in areas where heavy metals are common – the oil fields, places that work with heavy solvents and cleaners, people who use certain drugs, and a whole category we refer to as “drug babies.”  And I’ve often noted that while I think deodorants are great (lol), every antiperspirant I’ve found in the marketplace used aluminum (a heavy metal) as the instrument to stop perspiration.  I recommend using deodorants, but not antiperspirants!

When heavy metals get into your body, the body doesn’t know what to do with them.  The immune system, knowing they are toxic” uses the technique of “suffocating them” with fatty tissues to keep them from harming other tissues.  One place where they cause real problems is in the brain.  The brain is “electric!”  We often define the passing of a signal from one brain cell to the next as “firing” from one cell to the next.  When this “spark” fires, if it hits a molecule of a stored metal, it could be seen as a small “explosion” which damages surrounding cells. With enough of these microscopic explosions we can see the destruction of thousands of cells. Depending on which cells are destroyed, we may find many different resulting failures inside the brain.

Product components that remove heavy metals are designed to bind with the heavy metal ions and remove them from the body.  Common ingredients usually include cilantro, sodium alginate (from seaweed), apple pectin, and plenty of dietary fiber. Try eating more Mexican food – studies show that cilantro has demonstrated the capacity to remove considerable amounts of mercury from water sources, too.

Good advice as related to things consumed is “increase the good stuff and get rid of (detox) the bad!”  Live long and in good health. Genesis 1:29.

–  Randy Lee, ND, Owner, Nana’s Pawpaw Patch – Herbs, Oils & Teas for Health, 1024 S. Douglas Blvd, MWC, 736-1030, e-mail: pawpaw@promoteyourhealth.com.

Stay Calm-Protect Your Emotions and Your Will!

I believe we are spiritual beings whose brains incorporate our minds, our will and our emotions.  The mind is the “thinking, memory, art & logic” parts of our being.  Most of us are cognizant of that and usually work to keep them healthy and “in check” because it’s how we function.  Harder to control is our “will” – what we choose to feel or carry out, and our “emotions” – how we react to surroundings and circumstances.

One of my favorite stories is about some doctors who took identical looking brothers and placed them in separate rooms full of manure and a shovel. They observed one brother sitting in the corner of the room crying while the other brother was shoveling manure like crazy. On questioning, the first brother stated that there was nothing to do but smell the awfully putrid manure. The other brother remarked, “With that much manure, I was looking for the pony!” The obvious key to their happiness differed in attitude and expectations.

Stress is an obvious contributor to healthy functioning in life for all of us. We all have times when things are going ok, and times when everything around us seems to be falling apart. At the root, stress is not always bad.  Let’s face it, if it were not for “motivation to accomplish something (stress?)” would we ever get anything done? So what can we do to manage these diverse situations in our lives?  I think a primary contributor is to “train the brain!”

Stress causes added demands on our bodies.  The adrenal glands produce some 50 different hormones.  Several of them are for the purpose of helping us handle stress. Added stress requires more work from the adrenals.  And the adrenals “feed” on B-vitamins. As a minimum then, I recommend B Vitamins during times of increased stress.  There may also be a place for nervine sedative herbals like hops, valerian root, passion flower, and skullcap – all in either teas or capsules. Some mineral products using the name “Calm” are also useful and contain just magnesium, a mineral that is used rapidly during times of stress.

Kava is an herbal known to relax muscles and ease tension, and pantothenic acid provides added adrenal support.

I am not a medical doctor and don’t presume to treat any named diseases, but anecdotally I believe that the loss of the adrenal’s ability to produce anti-stress hormones may be a root cause of chronic stress breakdowns. A Loma Linda University study found laughter is one of the best things to fight stress. Also practice deep breathing and meditative prayer; practice relaxation, find calming activities to brighten every day, and train your mind to evaluate stressful activities. And get professional help when you can’t manage your reactions.

Another of my favorite sayings: “Like a great violin, may your life have enough stress (tension) to make beautiful music, but not so much as to cause the strings to break!”  Live long and in good health. Genesis 1:29.

–  Randy Lee, ND, Owner, Nana’s Pawpaw Patch – Herbs, Oils & Teas for Health, 1024 S. Douglas Blvd, MWC, 736-1030, e-mail: pawpaw@promoteyourhealth.com.

A Healthy Mind Promotes Memory

Even if we never have a head injury or acute toxicity, most of us notice lapses in our memory as we transition to more sedentary lifestyles, or simply age! We think memory loss is a normal function of the aging process. But it doesn’t have to be so. There are several factors to consider when we desire to keep our minds sharp.

To begin with, we have to consider the popular computed adage “garbage in, garbage out.” We’ve looked in other articles about some of the nutrients we need to keep a healthy brain. But we didn’t cover things we do that should be avoided. We know things like alcohol, tobacco, drugs (even some legal ones) can promote memory loss. Read the labels! Many kill brain cells. And my dad was quick to point out that many of us can’t afford to lose ANY! Lol!!! But here are some other things you can do to keep your memory strong:

Eat better foods: Get away from sugars, starches, and excess fats. Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables. Make an effort to stay away from genetically modified foods – we don’t yet even know how these modifications may be treating our bodies. Add more of the food sources we mentioned in our “Healthy Brain” article.

Some specific vitamins and minerals to consider: I can’t stress more the importance of B Vitamins. Most references suggest 100mg of each of the B Vitamins for anyone who notices any memory slippage. It is noteworthy that a B-12 deficiency has been shown to be one cause of memory loss. Our brains need more free amino acids to function well. Specifically, consider the amino acid l-glutamine; it may help stall brain aging and is a key to boosting brain health. Another important amino acid is gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). This is a non-protein amino acid that functions a neurotransmitter in the brain. And the most important of the neurotransmitters is acetylcholine. Lecithin feeds brain cells and crosses the blood-brain barrier. Some research indicates that several health issues including brain disorders have been linked to a shortage of the Coenzyme Q10. And magnesium is an essential mineral for brain health.

Herbals to consider: Ginkgo biloba and Gotu Kola help with oxygenation. Pregnenolone is called “the mother hormone” that is necessary for memory, especially after age 40!

Watch your stress levels: Too much stress has been shown to be a contributor to memory loss, too. The brain has difficulty forming memories when it is preoccupied dealing with high levels of stress.

Exercise for the brain! I personally had two friends who lived well into their 90s. Their bodies gave out, but their minds were “sharp as a tack” all the way till death. Their explanations to me were “Mental Exercise”. One worked a cryptogram every day and the other worked crossword puzzles every day! On the other hand, I personally know of dozens of customers who have retired to a sedentary lifestyle of hours of mindless TV every day who died within a couple of years of retirement. Find something to do that requires mental effort and do some of it EVERY DAY! Live long and in good health. Genesis 1:29.

– Randy Lee, ND, Owner, Nana’s Pawpaw Patch – Herbs, Oils & Teas for Health, 1024 S. Douglas Blvd, MWC, 736-1030, e-mail: pawpaw@promoteyourhealth.com.

Detox Options

Many of the things we eat routinely can not only be “not good for us,” they can often be toxic.  Add these effects on our bodies to the others we encounter every day (smog, air pollution, industrial pollutants, household cleansers, food preservatives and dyes, chemical fumes, car exhaust, normal metabolism, poor elimination of food, waste products in the blood from illness or disease…), and we can see that we can really have our bodies bombarded with toxins.  The inevitable consequences are further disease or debility.  Cleansing (detoxification) should be a recurring part of our normal routine. I personally follow a routine that includes a monthly detoxification – perhaps an organ or a body system or a whole-body cleanse.

Periodic cleansing has been included in recorded history for millennia.  Traditional health practices of many nations – Chinese, Europeans, Ayurveda, Native American, and Asiatic Indians – practiced and still continue some form of detoxification.  In early American history, the Pennsylvania Dutch ate wild greens like lettuce and dandelions and other herbs in the spring to cleanse their bodies after a long winter of heavy foods.  Native Americans used black teas made from yaupon hollies to produce sweating and bowel evacuation.  One writer even suggests “nature herself seems to suggest the importance of detoxification … many of the plants that burst forth in early spring are cleansing in nature.”

There are many ways to cleanse.  The program you choose may last only a day or two or a week or two.  It may even take the form of a recurring dietary change.  Most of us know of foods that seem to “go right through us … a hint that they may be added to our personal cleansing program.  And some foods seem to work for most everyone – e.g., fresh cherries, available in early spring, have a definite cleansing effect on the bowels and help eliminate the uric acid buildup linked to heavy meat consumption and diseases like joint problems or gout.  Fasting often accompanies detoxification regimens as well, but we’ll make that the subject of a future article.

I personally enjoy using herbs and herbal combinations to cleanse.  The phytonutrients in many of the herbs encourage the body to detoxify naturally.  And as a rule, we should be sure to cleanse the eliminative organs (kidneys and liver) and the blood and lymphatic systems, as well as the intestinal system.

Combinations for the organs should include herbs such as milk thistle, burdock root, barberry root bark, and dandelion root.  Adding lecithin and amino acids to your diet are also helpful especially for the liver.  The blood and lymph glands also benefit from the dandelion and burdock, and combinations for them should include red clover, Oregon grape root, butcher’s broom, garlic, pau d’arco bark and yellow dock.  Cleansers for the intestine include natural laxatives like cascara sagrada and senna leaves, high-fiber “scrubbers” like psyllium hulls, and parasite killers like artemisia, black walnut hulls, and elecampane.

Regular cleansing and detoxifying (at least two to four times per year) along with good nutrition, exercise, and proper supplements will add quality to your life and ward off many of the diseases that rob us of real joy.  Our improved distribution systems make most foods available to us year-round, so we tend to forget the cycles of nature. Start your own cleaning program and see how much better you feel.

–  For more information, contact Naturopathic Doctor Randy Lee, owner of The Health Patch at 1024 S. Douglas Blvd, Midwest City, at 405-736-1030 or e-mail pawpaw@TheHealthPatch.com or visit TheHeathPatch.com.

Your Health – Your Responsibility

Most of us as adults have long since come to grips with the fact that we have to take responsibility for our own actions in every area of our lives.  Genetics certainly play a part in our physical makeup, but given those constraints, we can challenge ourselves to make the most of what we are.  For example, we can’t make ourselves taller or shorter, but we can make ourselves lighter or heavier.

Your body is made up of trillions of cells.  They are organized into tissues, organs and body systems (respiration, circulation, digestion, etc.).  To function in the manner in which God intended it, it needs five important things: oxygen, pure water, food or nutrition, elimination, and homeostasis (that’s a big word meaning an even temperature).

We get oxygen in the air we breathe, but we can increase the amount of oxygen entering our systems with exercise.  In fact, many of our body systems (for example, the lymphatic system which has so much to do with our immune system) have no “pumping mechanism” – as the circulatory system has in the heart!  And therefore, without exercise, it has no means of moving its waste.  We can find positive benefits that stem from exercise in every body system.  Increased exercise means improved health.

Water is absolutely essential for life.  Most of us could live for six weeks or more before we suffered permanent, life-threatening consequences from lack of food, but only days without water could kill us.  Most of the reference works I’ve encountered state that for optimum functioning we need to take in six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water every day.  And that’s water intake – not soda, coffee, or other liquids.

As for nutrition, Dr. Joel Wallach (1991 Nobel Prize nominee for his work in nutritional supplements) states that we need 60 minerals, 16 vitamins, 12 essential amino acids, and three essential fatty acids in our diet every day to really stay healthy for life.  And that doesn’t count the addition of other herbal supplements that may be needed to help combat “family histories” for disease.  For example, you may need additional supplements if your family has a genetic history of cancer, heart disease, arthritis, etc.  And there’s a real sense of truth in the old adage “you are what you eat”.  Your body isn’t going to function well on a daily diet of junk foods, fats, and sugars.

Elimination is simply the process of expelling the waste materials that remain after our bodies have extracted the nutrients that exist in the foods we eat.  Many things we eat can’t be digested.  Many fibers are just for “sweeping out” our systems.  Many environmental factors contribute to toxins in our bodies.  And waste material rots in our intestine if not eliminated in a timely manner.  Toxins remaining in our intestine too long can be reabsorbed and redistributed through our bodies contributing to a variety of diseases.

And our body temperature will normally rise a bit when it is fighting infections.  But if our immune system is strong and intact, it should return to normal in a short period of time.

There you have it … the five things necessary for good health and a long life.  So who is responsible for ensuring that these things are available to you?  YOU ARE!  If a good, long, healthy life is a priority for you, then you need to learn what is and what is not good for you.  You need to practice discipline in exercise and proper nutrition, and becoming aware of the signals your body sends you of impending crisis.

So, are you ready to accept responsibility for your own health?  True, your genetic predispositions may have “dealt you a difficult hand” but what you make of your health is truly your responsibility.  Want to make a change in your health condition?  Don’t depend on someone else to tell you what to do.  Study what supplements may be available, and then commit yourself to a healthy exercise and nutrition program.  Live long and in good health.


Randy Lee, ND, Owner, The Health Patch, 1024 S. Douglas Blvd, MWC 73130, phone/fax: 736-1030, website: http://www.thehealthpatch.com, e-mail: pawpaw@thehealthpatch.com. All of our staff are now offering affordable private consultations!

Music for the Soul

a7e7690db6b64bafb1214361fee05665This month’s theme is right up my alley!  I’m now a Naturopathic Doctor, but I “began my life” as a musician with an undergraduate degree in music! So now I blend “body and soul” with herbs for the body and music for the soul! I greatly enjoy the pairings. When I’m happy and energetic, I enjoy bee pollen, Co-enzyme Q-10, Gotu Kola, or Ginkgo Biloba for my body paired with Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, the Ode to Joy, 50s rock & roll or some upbeat hymns for my soul.

When I’m experiencing something like Neal Diamond’s Song Sung Blue, I pair any of a number of our suppliers Mood Elevator formulas or a bit of 5-HPT or St. John’s Wort for my body with Wagner’s Elsa’s Procession to the Cathedral, any of a number of the Star Wars themes, or a more contemporary, uplifting Abba song for my soul.

A well-known cliché says “music calms the savage beast.”  So often anger brings me to essential oils like lavender or rose, a calming magnesium tonic, or a cup of chamomile tea for my body, or a soothing harp concerto or a rousing rendition of a song like Queen’s We Are the Champions to revitalize my soul.

Are you ever just so tired that you feel like you can’t make it through the day? Try an energy boosting dose of Guarana or a cup of green or black tea for its natural caffeine boost, or an energizing peppermint or citrus essential oil applied topically to the temples, or a foot-tapping march by John Phillip Sousa for your soul.

Trouble sleeping? Hormones like melatonin or an Herbal Sleep tonic may help the body, and we all know the soothing effects of a lullaby for the soul.

Needless to say, there is always an herb for the body and a song for the soul for every emotion you may be experiencing and for all of life’s feelings. Pair them for doubling their effects and enjoy every facet of your life. Enjoy good health and God’s richest blessings.

–  Randy Lee, ND, Owner, The Health Patch – Cultivating Naturopathic Care for Total Health, 1024 S. Douglas Blvd, Midwest City, OK 73130, phone/fax: 736-1030, e-mail: pawpaw@thehealthpatch.com.