Posts filed under ‘Health’

Whole Body Cleansing in a TOXIC WORLD

By Jeremy Appleton, ND

No matter where or how you live, it is impossible to avoid exposure to environmental toxins. Toxins accumulate in our fat stores and liver, which exert many damaging health effects. The range and concentration of toxin exposure is staggering and includes: pesticides, solvents, polyaromatic hydrocarbons, chlorine, phthalates, and heavy metals. These pollutants have been implicated in a disturbing array of chronic diseases, such as cancer, autoimmune disease, infertility, and developmental defects.

While reducing environmental exposures is critical, we must also address those toxins that have already accumulated in our bodies. Herbal and nutritional cleansing offers one of the few means of protection and recovery from exposures. Throughout history, many cultures have practiced cleansing regimes. The most important principle to remember is that detoxification is a whole-body process. Multiple, interdependent pathways of elimination must be activated simultaneously. Otherwise, harmful toxins can be mobilized from tissues without adequate means of elimination, resulting in an exacerbation of toxicity symptoms.


The LIVER is the master organ of metabolism and cleansing. As blood passes through the liver, toxins are transformed to make them easier to excrete. The liver makes toxins more water-soluble for excretion via the urinary tract and conjugates them to promote excretion via bile and feces. Supporting your liver and gall bladder function is vital to effective cleansing.


MILK THISTLE (Silybum marianum) provides rich nutrition for the restoration of damaged tissues, especially the liver. Its bitter properties also stimulate digestion and bile flow. Milk thistle seed extracts are rich in silymarin, an antioxidant bioflavonoid. Milk thistle should be standardized to contain 80% silymarin.

ARTICHOKE (Cynara scolymus) has anti-toxic effects in the liver. It is a liver restorative and tonic, which stimulates the production of bile. Artichoke has also been shown to stimulate liver cell regeneration.

TURMERIC (Curcuma longa rhizome) has powerful antioxidant properties and protects against exposure to many toxins. Turmeric promotes healthy toxin elimination and is thought to help prevent chronic diseases, including cancer.

DANDELION (Taraxacum officinale) effectively supports the internal organs and is especially effective in gout and liver disease. Dandelion is a mild laxative that cleanses the blood, stimulates bile flow, and is richly nutritive.

URINARY TRACT: Hydration is an important part of cleansing because water is the medium through which many toxins are excreted. Herbal diuretics increase urine production and therefore, facilitate toxin elimination via the urinary tract. Drink at least 64 ounces of water per day during a cleanse. Herbs that stimulate urinary elimination include: cranberry (which balances urine pH and prevents urinary tract infections), asparagus (a diuretic that also promotes sweating), and parsley (a powerful diuretic).

 SKIN: Fat deposits under the skin may become a major reservoir for toxins, which is why skin reactions are a common side effect of detoxification regimens. Blood cleansing herbs are popular for their specific effects on the skin and include: burdock (Arctium lappa), red clover (Trifolium pratense), cleavers (Galium aparine), and Oregon grape (Mahonia aquafolium).


Low dietary fiber intake is linked with chronic constipation. Both soluble and insoluble fibers are indigestible and therefore, good bulking agents for the stool. Fiber—particularly insoluble—absorbs and facilitates the removal of toxins, balances intestinal pH, and encourages the growth of beneficial gut flora, such as Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria. Soluble fiber forms a gel in the gut, which has a soothing and bulking effect.


When the liver is in a heightened state of detoxification, hastening transit time of waste through the intestines becomes imperative. Constipation can be dangerous during a cleansing regimen because its slow transit through the bowels means toxins have more opportunity to be reabsorbed through the intestinal walls. During cleanses, the bowels should be stimulated to move at least once per day. Laxatives can be either stimulant or nonstimulant, depending on the mechanism by which they promote bowel movements.

Stimulants contain substances that mildly irritate the intestinal walls, increasing fluid accumulation in the bowel, thus stimulating bowel movements. Stimulant laxatives, such as Cascara sagrada, are ideal for short-term use in otherwise healthy adults. Use with caution in children, elderly, and those prone to laxative abuse.

Non-stimulants also increase fluid retention in the intestines, but the mechanism is by osmosis. Magnesium hydroxide, the active ingredient in milk of magnesia, is perhaps the best known nonstimulant laxative.

Triphala is a popular Ayurvedic herbal formula. It is a gentle, but powerful tonic formula containing three fruits: Haritake (Terminalia chebula), Amalaki (Emblica officinalis), and Bibhitake (Terminalia bellerica). Triphala is said to remove stagnation and excess, improve digestion and assimilation of nutrients, and to balance the three vital humours. It has many beneficial properties for cleansing—e.g. laxative, astringent, lubricant, and blood cleansing.


During a cleanse, some symptoms of detox may occur, such as headache, nausea, or skin rashes. These are common; but should always be followed-up by a qualified healthcare provider. The use of cascara is sometimes associated with abdominal discomfort or cramping. If this is a problem, consider switching to a nonstimulant laxative, like magnesium hydroxide.

Cleansing is a natural process that should be done minimally once per year, and ideally two to four times per year. The transitions between seasons (winter and summer solstice; vernal and autumnal equinox) are traditional times for cleansing. When choosing a cleansing program, make sure that it addresses all of the organ systems of detoxification: liver, skin, urinary tract, digestive tract, and bowels. Also make sure key ingredients are present in sufficient amounts to be effective, of the highest purity and quality, and correctly standardized.

These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

January 31, 2019 at 9:11 am Leave a comment

NEEDS Offers FREE Wellness Counseling!

Did you know that NEEDS’ professional wellness educators offer complimentary wellness consultations over the phone and can answer any questions that you have over email? Take advantage of this phenomenal service by calling 800-634-1380 or emailing

Our Clinical Nutritionist Christine Carlson and our Naturopathic Doctor Jennifer Morganti are here to help you! Get to know our wellness educators:

Jennifer Morganti, ND
Director of Education

Morganti-JenniferDr. Jen received her Naturopathic degree from Bastyr University, one of the four accredited naturopathic schools in the US. She has been working in the Dietary Supplement and Natural Health industry for over 15 years. Dr. Jen’s passion is to make natural health information accessible to anyone who is interested in optimizing their health and to promote positive, healthy aging. Throughout her career, she has brought new dietary supplement products to market, provided advice on FDA regulations, and educated consumers nationwide through writing and speaking engagements.

Christine Carlson, BS, CN
Wellness Educator

Carlson-ChristineChristine Carlson, BS, CN, is a New York State Certified Nutritionist and a biofeedback practitioner with over 20 years’ experience in holistic health. She helps individuals optimize their health through nutrition and lifestyle changes. She focuses on a variety of health issues including digestive problems, allergies and sensitivities, immune dysfunction, osteoporosis, weight problems, stress management, depression, and more.

August 26, 2014 at 2:00 pm Leave a comment

Artificial Sweeteners Not so Sweet

By Carol B. Blair, BS, DiHom, CNC

SodaArtificial sweeteners are the rage because people think they can use all they want without gaining weight. However, studies show that these artificial sweeteners actually increase the appetite as well as the risk of metabolic syndrome and obesity. In addition to that, they come with a number of side effects. Let’s briefly discuss two of the most common artificial sweeteners: Splenda and Aspartame.

Splenda (aka Sucralose) is the newer of the synthetic chemicals which is made from sugar and covalently-bound chloride. A 2009 study showed it is absorbed by fat because our body has no way of breaking down the covalent bond; therefore, the body attempts to store it in the least harmful place–-fat cells. It also reduced good intestinal bacteria by 50%! Since good gut bacteria are strongly linked to the immune system, you are setting yourself up for health issues by consuming Splenda. Among its other many side effects were decreased red blood cells, migraine headaches, heart palpitations, wheezing, and reduced sperm production. At higher doses, it caused brain lesions and spontaneous abortions in rabbits.

One of the most dangerous products on the market is the sugar with Splenda that is being fed to kids!

Aspartame (aka NutraSweet and recently renamed AminoSweet), has been around longer but it isn’t any safer. In fact, it was once listed by the Pentagon as an agent for chemical warfare! The FDA receives more complaints about aspartame than all other additives combined.

Due to the fact that aspartame creates excitotoxicity (nerves fire excessively), most of the complaints are neurological–migraine headaches, mood disorders, and even hallucinations. Brain lesions have also been found in animals fed aspartame. In fact, I had a customer a few years ago who had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (with brain lesions) but when she got off the diet soda that contained aspartame, all of her symptoms went away. She was actually suffering from aspartame poisoning!

So if you want to keep your weight down and your health up, do yourself a favor and avoid the artificial sweeteners.  Instead, look for those sweetened with Xylitol and/or stevia. You could also buy unsweetened flavored sparkling water and just add the amount you need.

August 19, 2014 at 2:00 pm Leave a comment

Maintaining Hydration

By Laurel Sterling, RD

115525692In the summer, we tend to be outside more with physical activities, mowing lawns, gardening, parties, going for walks, and just plain having fun! We must remember not to ignore or dismiss our thirst mechanism. Typically when people think they are hungry, they actually are more than likely thirsty. Many times headaches are the result of dehydration, and one can feel dizzy, shaky, and lethargic when they are dehydrated. Sweating, stress, illness, and medications are ways we can lose our precious electrolytes.

Our bodies are made up of about 70% mineral water. It is recommended to drink at least 8 glasses (64 oz) of water a day or half your body weight in ounces. Water increases your body’s efficiency by eliminating toxins, assists in weight loss, helps prevent muscle and joint pain, bloating and constipation, and it maintains healthy skin. Remember, for every one caffeinated product you drink, you will need to drink TWO 8 oz. glasses of water to offset it because caffeinated products are diuretics.

A simple way to maintain proper hydration would be to just drink more good ol’ water, but those who are very active outside in the heat may need additional support.

There are some great drinks like Vita Coco 100% Pure Coconut Water that contain electrolytes to assist in rebalancing the body. Also, one could use E-lyte which is an electrolyte concentrate. This product can be diluted in water or other broths. Use caution with this product with children, those with high blood pressure, and people that are on a sodium-restricted diet. Other options are ConcenTrace Trace Mineral Drops that would be added to water.

August 12, 2014 at 2:00 pm Leave a comment

Keep Kids on Track Over the Summer

By Laurel Sterling, RD

MotherDaughterGardeningSummer time is a time of the year that schedules change for many of us, and it is easy to get off track in many areas of our lives. We stay up later with the sun being out longer so our sleep is off. There are wonderful parties, picnics, and BBQs that we attend and as a result our eating is not as optimal as it could be.

For our children, we tend to have them involved in activities and camps over the summer to keep them busy and out of mischief. I feel this also is a perfect time to get them more involved in things like gardening, cooking, juicing, etc.

My 6-year-old daughter Lily LOVES to help out in the kitchen. This is a great time of year with all the fresh herbs, fruits, and vegetables to get children more interested in juicing and cooking. At my house, we have cilantro, basil, and several mints growing in our herb garden right outside our kitchen door. Lily loves to make up her own juice recipes. Some are amazing and others….well…..let’s just say we are still experimenting with them!

Using more fresh herbs, fruits, and vegetables from your own gardens really gets kids connected to where there food comes from. They can see the entire “Farm-to-Table” process right in their own backyard! My daughter picks blackberries from the bushes in our yard, and we use the berries to make smoothies with a protein powder. Vega Bodacious Berry and Lifetime Life’s Basics Plant Protein Mix Natural Vanilla Flavor are my two favorite protein powders to use. They are loaded with so many vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, fiber, and more! These are a great way to sneak in additional nutrients that may be lacking from your child’s diet. You can also add Nature’s Way Liquid Coconut oil to your smoothie for some healthy additional fats, which are great for increasing cognition. Don’t we all need some of that?!

So let’s keep those kids on track, get them more involved with cooking, and make them healthier at the same time!

More great tips are available on

August 5, 2014 at 2:00 pm Leave a comment

Combat Seasonal Affective Disorder

By Supplement Educator Andrew Greeley152149018

Fall foliage is fading and snow storms are nearing. According to the laws of nature, winter months are a time to hibernate.  Well, I say hiber-not, young lad!  Kick winter in the teeth this year by utilizing Mother Nature’s deceiving gift. Get outside and build a snowman, hit the bunny hills for some skiing, or treat your significant other to a romantic evening of ice skating.

Motivate your winter endeavors with supplemental vitamin D. Nearly every cell in the body has a receptor for vitamin D, including brain cells; and vitamin D plays a role in serotonin and dopamine production. These feel-good chemicals are sure to raise you out of your seasonal slump.

Maintenance dosing for vitamin D is around 2,000 IU per day depending on each individual, but those who experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) may need a higher doseage. Maximize your mood and immune system this long season with vitamin D and some form of physical activity. Snow-blowing doesn’t count!

Joining a gym is a great way to avoid seasonal claustrophobia.  Not only is exercise essential for the release of those feel-good chemicals that increase mood, but gyms are usually brightly lit.  If you don’t have a light therapy lamp on hand, hit the gym and kill two birds with one stone.  Enjoy your winter!

October 21, 2013 at 3:12 pm Leave a comment

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10): An Essential Supplement Especially for those on Statins

By the NEEDS Wellness Team87717861_Small

A nutrient commonly depleted by medications is CoQ10. With Lipitor® being the leading selling prescription drug in the United States, one can see why. Lipitor® (Atorvastatin) along with Zocor® (Simvastatin), Mevacor® (Lovastatin), Pravachol® (Pravastatin), Lescol® (fluvastatin), Crestor® (rosuvastatin), and Vytorin® (ezetimibe/simvastatin), also known as HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors or statin drugs, decrease the production of cholesterol, but they also decrease this very important cofactor naturally produced by the body. Other medications have also been implicated in CoQ10 depletion.

CoQ10 is necessary for the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which makes energy, is a cofactor necessary for cellular respiration, and an antioxidant.

Some of the consequences of CoQ10 depletion include:

  • Fatigue
  • Muscle weakness
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Stroke
  • Hypertension
  • Periodontal disease
  • Weakened immunity
  • Loss of cognitive function (Alzheimers, Dementia, Parkinsons)

There are many animal and human studies demonstrating the effectiveness of this coenzyme. A double-blind, three-year trial involved administering 100 mg of CoQ10 daily to patients suffering from cardiomyopathy. Results showed a significant increase in ejection fraction (the amount of blood pumped through the heart), increased cardiac muscle strength, and fewer instances of shortness of breath by the 12-week mark. The effects lasted only as long as CoQ10 was being administered. There was 89% improvement in the 80 patients treated.

A direct correlation of CoQ10 deficiency with increased risk of periodontal disease has been established. Symptoms include swelling, bleeding, loose teeth, redness, pain, deep gingival pockets, and exudates.

Tissues involved with immune function require a significant amount of energy. CoQ10 has an “immune enhancing” effect on the human body according to a study that showed an increased immunoglobulin G in the serum of patients taking the nutritional supplement daily for 27 to 98 days. Improving immune function is necessary when treating AIDS, chronic infections (Candidiasis), and cancer. There are no adverse interactions between CoQ10 and any other drug or nutrient.

CoQ10 is typically dosed at 50-300 mg/day, although doses of over 3,000 mg daily have been proven safe and effective. It works very well in conjunction with vitamin E and L-carnitine.

October 15, 2013 at 1:58 pm Leave a comment

Issues with the Fish Oil Study

Carol B. Blair, BS, DiHom, CNC148266535

Wellness Educator

By now, most of you know how I feel about many of the “studies” performed in this country. The news coverage regarding the recent study on fish oil and prostate cancer is one more example of misinformation, indeed, that will harm many people.

First, the initial study was not even performed to evaluate the relationship between fish oil (Omega-3 EPA and DHA) and prostate cancer. The information was obtained retrospectively without knowing how many people were eating fish, flax, chia seeds, hemp seeds, or taking fish oil. For that matter, they didn’t even know if they were even eating fried fish with its known carcinogenic trans-fats. In fact, in a study published in Prostate in 2013, regular consumption of fried fish showed a 32% increase risk of prostate cancer!

Additionally, if fish or fish oil is harmful, why do China and Japan, who have the highest fish consumption in the world, have the lowest cancer rates in the world? Here in the US, meanwhile, cancer rates are off the charts!

Another thing to consider is that all fish oil supplements are not created equally. Many cheap supplements contain toxins such as PCBs, mercury, and other heavy metals and chemicals—many of which are known carcinogens.

Several other studies that were designed to evaluate the relationship between fish oil and prostate cancer showed protective benefits. As you know, I prefer foreign studies which I find to be more unbiased so I will start with one from New Zealand. Here are some examples:

  • In a very well designed study in New Zealand, a 40% reduced risk of prostate cancer was shown with higher levels of EPA and DHA. This study was published in British Journal of Cancer 1999.
  • As reported in the American Journal of Nutrition in 2008, The Physicians Health Study, which took place over a 22-year period, found that high fish consumption reduced the risk of dying form prostate cancer by 36%.
  • A 12-year study of 47,882 men conducted by Harvard revealed that eating fish more than three times a week reduced the risk of both prostate and metastatic prostate cancer. Indeed, for each additional 500 mg. of fish oil consumed, the risk of metastases decreased by 24%. This study was reported in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers, & Prevention.
  • All in all, don’t let this “study” scare you as I believe it was designed to do. Fish oil has many benefits for vision, brain, skin health, joints, blood pressure, lowering triglycerides, reducing arrhythmias, and yes, even cancer! I want to remain healthy so I’m still taking my fish oil every day. Learn more about the benefits of fish oil in our supplement series blog on fish oil.

August 22, 2013 at 4:40 pm 1 comment

The Most Superior Forms of Minerals

By Jennifer Morganti, ND137063159

Are you looking for the best multivitamin available, but just don’t know where to start? In our previous blog, we covered the optimal forms of vitamins that you should look for on the supplement facts panel. Here, we will cover the forms of minerals with the best bioavailability.

Magnesium is an important mineral because so many of us are deficient. The amount found in a multivitamin may not be adequate because this mineral takes a lot of volume; therefore, you may need to supplement with an extra magnesium pill. When looking for the best form, you’ll notice that magnesium is always bound to another nutrient for the sake of stability. Some nutrients that are bound to it release the magnesium into its single form easily, and some hang on tighter, making it less absorbable. Magnesium carbonate, sulfate, hydroxide, gluconate, and oxide are forms that are least absorbable into the tissues. This means that they are more likely to have a laxative effect, which may be desirable in some situations. Better absorbed forms are magnesium citrate, taurate, glycinate, and threonate. Citrate is one of the more common forms and is very cost-effective. Magnesium threonate is the newest form of magnesium, and has been shown to cross the blood-brain barrier. This makes it an excellent choice to prevent dementia and other cognitive problems. However, this form is not found in any multivitamin.

Calcium is another mineral that is not found in adequate doses in a multivitamin because of its bulk, so it may need to be taken as an additional supplement. Calcium carbonate is commonly found in multivitamins because it is cheaper and less bulky, but it is poorly absorbed and not ideal for building bone. Instead, look for calcium citrate, hydroxyapatite, or Microcrystalline Hydroxyapatite Concentrate (MCHC).

In general, the true mineral chelates are well absorbed, but there is some controversy over which ones are authentically chelated. Albion brand chelated minerals are an example of a true chelate, so their presence indicates a high quality formula.

Beyond the chelates, zinc picolinate is preferred over the sulfate or gluconate form.

For selenium, selenomethionine is a common and well-absorbed form; it is considered superior over selenium yeast, and sodium selenite. Chromium picolinate is recommended over nicotinate, yeast, and chloride forms.

When looking for a high-quality multivitamin, it may not be possible to find the optimal form of every single nutrient. The key is to find a formula that has a good amount of nutrients in the best forms, in the quantity that you need, at a price you can afford. If you need assistance finding a product to suit you, you can always call the NEEDS wellness team for a complimentary consult!

July 23, 2013 at 10:00 am Leave a comment

A Course in Supplements: How to Know if a Supplement is High Quality – Part II


By the NEEDS Wellness Team

NEEDS is excited to start a blog series on the importance of supplementation. There are so many supplements on the market; it is difficult to decipher supplements you need and which brands or forms of vitamins are best. We’re here to help!

In our last blog, we discussed the importance of looking at how the raw materials in a supplement are sourced. In this blog, we will discuss the importance of the manufacturing process and the physical characteristics of the supplement in question.


What part of the herb is used? Is it the same part shown in studies to contain the active ingredient? Is the final product tested for potency? Some less-than-ethical companies actually buy the “straw” left over from an extraction process to make tinctures, then encapsulate the spent herb, label it, and sell it as a regular herbal supplement.

Some nutrients and herbal compounds are best rendered with solvents. Is the final product tested for solvent residue? If present, these residues must be detoxified by the body—not always easily accomplished. Also, does the company test the final product for microbial contamination, such as bacteria or mold?

Several nutrients are derived from substances such as corn, wheat, soy, or dairy, to which some may be sensitive. Many can tolerate small amounts of these substances, others require an ultra-clean product that is either highly purified or extracted from a more expensive agent.

If you take fish oil, how is it prepared? Is it extracted and packaged in an oxygen-poor environment to help prevent rancidity? Most quality fish oil manufacturers will test their final products for rancidity.

If probotics such as Acidophilus and Bifidus are part of your regimen, does the company who makes them guarantee that there are live, viable organisms in their product? How long will they be stable and at what temperature? What was the growth media for the probotics? If a person is sensitive to dairy, it may be best to use a probotic grown on beets or chicory, for instance.


Finally, what are the physical characteristics of the tablet or capsule? Are the binders, fillers, flowing agents, colorings, etc., nutritive or benign? Can they result in negative side-effects? Yellow Dye #5 and Red Dye #1, for instance, have been associated with Attention Deficit Disorder and migraines, as well as many other conditions. Tablet or capsule, dissolution rates are also of paramount importance; both must dissolve at the precise time in order for your body to use the nutrients.

As you can see, there are a wide variety of supplement ingredients and qualities available. If you have adequate stomach acid or assimilate nutrients well, you may be fine taking a medium-grade supplement. On the other hand, if you do have certain health conditions or sensitivities, you will want to use physician-grade supplements.

July 9, 2013 at 10:00 am Leave a comment

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