Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Yeeps! Feeling the Need to Move It & Lose It??

by Maria Noel Groves, Clinical Herbalist & Co-op Wellness Educator

Let's face it: Now that the holidays are behind us, we're all feeling a little overstuffed and undernourished. Most of us know what we need to do - eat better, more vegetables, more exercise -  but it just seems a little lackluster and difficult. (Trust me, I'm not perfect either, so the New Year is a good reminder and opportunity to refresh.) Here are some simple tips to get you on your way:

Get Nutrient-Dense: As yummy as pasta and bread can be, they tend to fall in the (mostly) "empty calorie" category. Let your meals be inspired by fare that multi-tasks with lots of vitamins, minerals, good fats, fiber, protein, and antioxidant and inflammatory action. These include cruciferous vegetables, berries, orange vegetables, greens, seeds, nuts, mushrooms, whole grains, beans and legumes, wild-caught fatty fish, eggs, grass-fed meat in moderation, and yogurt.  Season with citrus, herbs, spices, seaweed, toasted sesame seeds, and a little bit of hard cheese, dark chocolate, or a drizzle of good extra-virgin olive oil. Soups, salads, stir-fries, smoothies, and veggie-based juices make it easy to load up on the good stuff.

Get Inspired: We are bombarded with the sights and scents of tasty but less-than-healthy food via ads and roadside attractions. Surround yourself with healthy cookbooks, blogs, magazines, and websites that remind you how appealing healthy cooking can be. and its associated magazine and cookbooks are favorites in our house. Also check out and its magazine and cookbooks. Favorite healthy cookbooks include The Longevity KitchenPower Foods, Andrew Weil's  True Food... Also check out cookbooks by noteworthy authors Ellie Krieger, Christina Pirello, and Deborah Madison. Even if you're not vegetarian or vegan, meatless cookbooks can help introduce you to new healthy recipes to integrate into your kitchen.

On the Go: Cooking meals at home and bringing your lunch to work is the best way to improve your health and stick to a budget. When eating out for special occasions, opt for restaurants that understand real food including the Co-op's Celery Stick Café, Willow's Plant Based Eatery, and Sunny's Table in Concord; Republic and Cafe Momo in Manchester; and Lemongrass in Moultonborough. Also opt for one or none - appetizer, alcoholic beverage, or dessert - to go with your meal and start with a salad. (Beware of salads in chain restaurants - they often pack two to three meals worth of calories!) Check out the menus ahead of time; fried food is less tempting on your computer screen than when the scents are wafting around you. Don't be afraid to split a meal (just tip a little extra) or ask to have half your dish wrapped up to bring home for lunch the next day.

Crunching Numbers: If you want to lose weight, one way to approach it is to measure your portions and count calories. Yes, it's tedious, but it can be eye opening! Take your weight and multiply it by 12. This equals the maintenance calories for the average person, or how much you need to eat to maintain your current weight. Subtract 500 calories per day to lose one pound a week (or 1000 per day to lose two pounds), but don't go below 1200 calories and keep your goals reasonable so that they're easier to achieve and maintain. This is generally 400-600 calories per meal plus one or two 100-200-calorie snacks, but it varies widely from person to person. Click here for more on this approach.

Listen to Your Body: "Intuitive eating" involves paying closer attention to how you feel throughout the day, how hungry you are, and whether or not your body really enjoys the food that you're eating. It's useful in place of or alongside calorie counting. No matter what the numbers say, if you're ravenous, you should eat. (Better yet, eat something nourishing before you get ravenous.) Try to avoid letting yourself get overstuffed after a meal and realize that it's ok to be a bit hungry when you wake up and before meals. How do you feel after you eat particular foods? As time goes on, you'll notice that you crave and feel much better with healthy foods without a rush of excess sugar or refined carbs. (But, if you desperately want that cupcake, intuitive eating says you should have it, in a reasonable portion, and enjoy it.) Local dietician Hilary Warner specializes in this approach, and you can also learn more in the book Intuitive Eating.

Move More: A few things in life positively or negatively impact almost every aspect of health: diet, sleep, stress management, and movement. From a numbers perspective, exercise helps you burn calories to reach weight loss and maintenance goals in an easier, more sustainable way, but the benefits reach far beyond that to improved mood, disease prevention, etc. Any exercise is better than nothing, but certain types of exercise make a bigger impact on calories burned. Some of the best include the gym stair-climber (306 calories burned*), mountain biking (291), cross-country skiing (my favorite!) or running (273),   snowshoeing, biking, jogging or swimming laps (240), or kayaking, gardening, golfing or walking at a brisk pace (171).  Strength-train a few times a week to boost your overall metabolism so that you burn a tad more calories all day long, even when you're not exercising. Strength training includes weight lifting, lunges, push-ups, etc. Certain types of yoga, hiking, and sports incorporate aspects of strength training. *The calories burned are calculated for a 150-pound person doing the activities for 30 minutes.

Enlist Aid: Having someone to enjoy meals and exercise with improve your odds of sticking with a routine and meeting your goals. I'm fortunate to have a supportive husband. I'm the health nut foodie, and I have certainly improved the quality of the food Shannon eats since we met. Cooking dinner together is one of our favorite parts of the day. He's the outdoor enthusiast, and over the years I've taken up hiking, kayaking, cross-country skiing and am dabbling with jogging, and we try to incorporate these activities into our weekend/weeknight play time and vacations. If you live alone or have a less-than-supportive spouse, connect with friends or family members who share your drive. groups are a great way to connect with like-minded adventurous folks, too. When my husband had to study for a big test last summer, I enjoyed connecting with several different kayaking groups and one of my cousins to get out on the water. I have clients who get together to snowshoe with friends every X day of the week in winter. Talk about positive multi-tasking! Social time, time out in nature, and movement, all rolled into fun! Click here for an article on how to have get outside this winter.

Herbs & Supplements for Weight Loss: I really don't believe in magic bullets. I've yet to come across any supplement that is safe and effective enough to impress. All the previous tips are much more likely to get you to your goal while also improving your mood, decreasing inflammation, and preventing a variety of chronic diseases. However, some herbs and supplements can lend a hand to make it a little easier to stick to your routine and lose weight. Some help balance blood sugar, others boost energy, and yet others enhance metabolism or thyroid function. Green tea has the most promise across the board. I love to combine it with holy basil (aka tulsi) for stress-busting, craving-curbing, metabolism-boosting effects as a morning tea. Cinnamon or chai tea (without cream and sugar) after meals serves as blood sugar-balancing dessert. Adaptogenic herbs that help your body adapt to stress - rhodiola, holy basil, ashwagandha, and eleuthero - provide support. Certain nutrients also help: Studies suggest that getting adequate calcium from food or supplements helps us burn calories more effectively. Before taking herbs and supplements, talk with your healthcare provider and check with your pharmacist for interactions if you take pharmaceuticals.

What are YOUR secrets to good health? Share them in the "Comments" section below!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Nutrition & the Holidays

by Dr. Amanda Hegnauer, ND, Naturopathic Doctor & Co-op Wellness Educator

How did it get to be November already? Summer has come and gone. Autumn feels like it’s practically over. And, somehow, the holidays are just around the corner. I propose that now is time to grasp the inevitable and plan for the future so we can enjoy the holiday season in a healthy way!

I am a firm believer in a good plan. By planning ahead we are setting ourselves up for success.

Step 1: Schedule wisely.

Review your social calendar and be consciously aware of what your functions will include. Make time in your schedule to prepare and enjoy your gatherings. Remember, it’s okay to allow yourself a bit of indulgence this holiday season. We all know that we cannot hide from that tin of fudge at the office party.

Step 2: Know your limits.

Try bringing a healthy (but still tasty!) dish to your next gathering. If you have worked hard to lose those five pounds prior to the holidays and know that you will instantly gain them back just from looking at a piece of decadent chocolate cream pie, than perhaps the best plan is to bring something healthy. Do some research, there are many different options for low-calorie, low-sugar desserts that won’t destroy your hard work! Scour your healthy cookbooks or for inspiration.
A few words on sugar. Sugars have a more detrimental effect on weight and cholesterol levels than fats do. The average American consumes 22.2 teaspoons of sugar each day. That’s 335 calories with zero nutritional value. One 12-ounce soft drink has 8 teaspoons of sugar, according to the American Heart Association. This triggers inflammation in your body, which in turn contributes to increased health risks including diabetes and heart disease. Think back on this when you go to have that punch, fun cocktail, or second serving of dessert.

Step 3: Don’t forget good foods.

As we are well aware, food is one of the foundations of the holiday season. This leads us to step three; when considering what your menu will be, please don’t forget good foods. Include good oils, whole grains, nuts, fruit, and vegetables in your dishes. As you are preparing your meal, consider food sensitivities and be considerate of others. Bringing a gluten-free, dairy-free dish – that is still delicious – will be sure to score you an invite to the next social engagement.

Step 4: Balance nutrition & exercise.

The energy that we utilize during exercise is derived from the good sugars and fats that we acquire through good foods. If the balance between these foods are off (perhaps due to too many extra indulgences...), those five pounds that you worked so hard to lose will reappear faster than you can say “Happy New Year.” Find ways to fit in a brisk walk or hike, a run at the gym, or a night dancing with your spouse.

With the holidays rapidly approaching, there are parties to plan, meals to cook, and many blessings to share. By keeping up with your exercise regimen, healthy foods, and naturopathic care, you can let go of the guilt during this most joyous season and enjoy!

Dr. Hegnauer practices Naturopathic medicine at Whole Health Concord. Her specialties include autoimmune disease, chronic fatigue, endocrinology, gastroenterology
and women’s health. Learn more at

Monday, November 17, 2014

Superfoods of the Season

by Maria Noël Groves, RH (AHG), Registered Clinical Herbalist & Co-op Wellness Educator

Step back goji berries, chia, and acai. You’re nice and all, but it’s late autumn in New England. Our kitchens are stocked with good-for-you goodies that make up for what they lack in exotic by in affordability, accessibility, and taste. It’s time to look at your seasonal standards in a whole new way.

Pumpkins & Winter Squash

This is the time to enjoy winter squash and pumpkins before storage takes its toll on their flavor and texture. Right now they’re bursting with betacarotene and other carotenoids that bolster your immune system, keep skin supple, and help you stay lubricated during the cold, dry winter. They also improve eyesight, reduce cancer risk, and are good for your heart. Their fat-soluble nutrients will be even more powerful when canned, roasted, simmered into soups, and baked into delicious treats. Think of them as the original gluten-free carb, the likes of which kept the Pilgrims from starving during the first harsh winters. Toast up those seeds for a mineral-rich, high-fiber snack.

Brussels Sprouts

I hope I didn’t lose you at “Brussels” because these petite cabbages are completely transformed into a mouth-watering side dish when prepared properly. Saute them with olive oil or butter (and perhaps a little white wine or hard cider), salt, and pepper. To spruce it up, mix in sauteed mushrooms, garlic, crisp bacon, or dried cranberries. These babies rank among the highest anticancer foods, help lower cholesterol, and give your liver a boost (and, admit it, with cocktail season in full swing, you could use that). Also try one of the newfangled and surprisingly tasty thinly chopped raw Brussels salads.


U-pick season has ended, but now’s the perfect time to up your daily produce ante with baked apples, applesauce, and other dessert-y treats from apple crisp with whole grain topping to handmade apple pie. Experiment with less and less sugar and let the tangy tart flavor of apples and a sprinkle of cinnamon satisfy your sweet tooth.


Talk about tart! These local fruits pack a wallop in terms of flavor and antioxidant content. Play around with natural sweeteners like maple syrup, OJ, or pomegranate juice concentrate to give them a lift without the usual sugar hit. What will these berries do for you? Besides their famous ability to fend off urinary tract infections, they also fight both arterial and dental plaque, and decrease inflammation. Add them to apple dishes, goat cheese salads, make a fresh cranberry chutney, and more.

Cinnamon & Cardamom

Maybe these super spices won’t grow in our soil like the rest of the seasonal powerhouses, but chances are you already have them in your kitchen, and they will bring your food and health to a higher plane. Almost any culinary spice improves digestion and decreases inflammation. Cardamom is one of my favorites  for kicking up digestive juices while providing a special chai-like flavor to baked goods, soups, baked beans, bacon and ham, smoothies, and eggnog. Cinnamon helps improve your body’s ability to process sugar and insulin while also patching things up in cranky bowels. Simmer a few sticks or let them sit in a thermos for an hour for a surprisingly sweet sugar-free tea that you can enjoy after meals. And, of course, add it to any dish you’d like!

Maria runs Wintergreen Botanicals Herbal Clinic & Education Center in Allenstown. Her first herbal wellness book is due out from Storey Publishing in February 2016. For herbal recipes and more herbal inspiration, visit

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Three Variables of an Anti-Inflammatory Diet

by Laura Piazza, Recipes for Repair Cookbook Co-Author & Co-op Wellness Educator

When going on an anti-inflammatory diet, we choose to eat foods that can influence how we feel and progress with chronic illness and chronic symptoms. There are three variables to an anti-inflammatory diet, one of which can often be overlooked.

Eating an anti-inflammatory diet can help in many ways because you fuel yourself with nourishing foods, many of which have anti-inflammatory properties. Additionally, you work to remove foods that are said to promote inflammation. These foods often have little to no nutritional value. There is a third variable though, one which many of us don’t know to look for – hidden food sensitivities.

If you have a food intolerance but don’t know it and continue to eat the offending food(s), you will just add to the inflammation that’s already present in your body. This can create or aggravate symptoms. It is especially important to learn of any food sensitivities if you are battling a chronic symptoms or chronic illness, because some of your symptoms and/or inflammation may be dietary. Remove the offending food, and symptoms can either be minimized or even disappear altogether!
Food sensitivities are not the same as food allergies, which are more immediate and can be severe or even deadly. A reaction to a food that you are sensitive to won’t be as severe and can happen hours to days after eating that particular food. The symptoms can vary greatly, which makes it even more of a challenge to determine if the food you ate an hour or a day ago is causing discomfort.

You can identify unknown food sensitivities by going on an elimination diet and keeping a food journal, or by asking your health care provider to perform specialized testing. Once your sensitivities are discovered, it’s essential that you take the appropriate steps to eliminate those foods from your diet in order to have the full benefit of an anti-inflammatory diet.

When you pay close attention to your body, you may find that the foods that cause you distress are common allergens like gluten, corn or dairy, or something more obscure. A few uncommon sensitivities that readers have shared with me are turnips, carrots, and cashews.

To some, the prospect of changing your diet or giving up certain foods feels overwhelming. But this doesn’t have to happen overnight. In breaking old habits and introducing new ingredients into your kitchen, new cooking habits and a healthier way of eating will result. A gradual change will feel less stressful and will allow you to slowly ease into a new way of eating.

One way to ease your fears is to try new recipes or products. If you believe you may be dairy intolerant, for instance, try some recipes or products that are dairy-free. You may be surprised to find that a recipe or product doesn’t taste much different when a dairy-free milk, like almond or rice milk, takes the place of milk.

To exemplify my point that eating allergen-free and/or anti-inflammatory meals can still be appetizing and delicious I have provided an easy-to-prepare, healthy breakfast recipe (see below).

If you suspect food sensitivities and/or want to implement an anti-inflammatory diet into your life, you can view the physician-developed anti-inflammatory/elimination diet featured in our book on our web site, Here you can try over three dozen professionally-developed recipes, all of which were developed for the diet and are identified as gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, and/or vegetarian.

Recipe ~ Carrot Almond Pancakes

These pancakes may look a little different than what you’re used to, but they taste sweet, nutty and very satisfying. Top them with a teaspoon of raw honey and some blueberries for a complete breakfast treat. Prepare and refrigerate the pancake batter the night before, so that you can make your breakfast in a few minutes.
Gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegetarian.
Prep: 10 minutes, Cook: 12 minutes. Makes 4 pancakes.

1 cup peeled and grated carrots (2-3 carrots)
¼ cup almonds
1 slice fresh ginger (1/8-inch thick)
1 teaspoon ground flaxseed
2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 egg
¼ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon vanilla
1-2 tablespoons ghee or olive oil
1 teaspoon raw honey
Blueberries (optional)

1. Place the grated carrots in a medium-sized bowl.
2. Place the almonds, ginger and flaxseed in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse 5-6 times until the almonds are finely ground.
3. Add the almond mixture and all of the remaining ingredients, except for the ghee, honey and blueberries, to the grated carrots.
4. Heat the ghee in a small frying pan over medium heat for 2 minutes, or until hot.
5. Pour two ¼-cup portions of pancake batter into the frying pan, and cook for about 3 minutes per side, or until lightly browned. Repeat with the remaining batter.
6. Top with honey and blueberries if desired, and serve hot.

Recipe & photographs reprinted from Recipes for Repair, with permission from the authors. To learn more about Laura and her award-winning anti-inflammatory cookbook, visit

Friday, October 3, 2014

Homeopathy Success Stories in Animal Care

by Dr. Wendy Jensen, D.V.M., Homeopathic Veterinarian & Co-op Wellness Educator

Greetings from Acorn Acre, my own little slice of paradise here in the (currently quite moist) wilds of Bow. I am pleased to share some happy stories from my practice. Yet even though accepting and appreciating my stories, my editor reminded me that the Co-op is all about SELF help. Now that is a trait near and dear to my heart, so why the success stories from a practitioner’s perspective?

Simply this: to show what healing really looks like. Once animal guardians understand what healing from within is truly about, they will be better equipped to assist their beloved animals. Facilitating health is not about using the right remedy to treat an ear infection, it is instead about understanding what is needed to restore the balance at the very core of the patient’s being. This requires letting go of the idea that if we can just get that bad breath to go away or that rash to heal or the flatulence to quit or the eye discharge to stop or the blood glucose to go down then all will be well. It’s not about telling our animals to heal; it’s about asking them what they need in order to awaken their innate ability to restore balance to their physical, mental, and emotional selves.

Homeopathy is a system of medicine based on the principle of “like cures like,” meaning that the curative remedy must match the unique symptom pattern of the patient, rather than a diagnosis label.

One of my favorite cases is a spunky Airedale dog named Jazzy, who was so lame that she couldn’t play her favorite game of fetch. Even walks were limited because she lagged so far behind that her guardians regretted going out in the first place. She had been on multiple pain killers, and had tried many and varied treatments to address the pain, all to no avail. After years of this, at age four she walked “like an old dog,” and her guardians were considering euthanasia, “because that’s no way to live.” But after a few homeopathic remedies spaced over a couple of years, she regained her vital self and was back to chasing balls and swimming in the river. Her last homeopathic remedy was given over two years ago.

Though my case study included all of Jazzy’s previous health records and diagnostics, my success did not hinge on Jazzy’s diagnosis, but instead on finding the remedy that matched her particular unique illness. From a thorough intake consultation and careful follow-ups, the client and I together were able to determine Jazzy’s symptom pattern, indicating her curative remedy. She was not just a lame dog, but a dog with lameness that improved briefly with mild exercise, and also a dog with a puppy-hood history of mucous-y diarrhea. She was not a lap dog, but quite content to join the family and greet visitors. Her remedy had to match all of these states in order to drive out her body’s need to be painful.

Another favorite patient of mine is Sirus, who at the tender age of three years began having seizures, after which he would attack his guardian. If he was a lapdog, this would be problematic enough, but for a 90-pound shepherd, this behavior was positively dangerous. Not wanting to sedate him for the rest of his life, his guardian called me. After carefully planning for her safety, we began treatment, and now Sirus has been seizure-free for the past three years. His last treatment for seizures was given over three years ago. When the vital force directs treatment, there is no need to continually medicate.

Thank you for reading my stories and I hope they pique your curiosity about homeopathy and healing from within!

Dr. Jensen runs Jensen Homeopathic Veterinary Practice in Bow, which includes house calls. Call 603-225-2601 or email to learn more.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Fungi with Benefits: Mushrooms for Food & Health

by Maria Noël Groves, RH (AHG), Registered Clinical Herbalist & Co-op Wellness Educator

In spite of the many cultures in Asia and Europe that adore mushrooms, most Americans are fungalphobes with the exception of an occasional button mushroom gravy smothered steak. This autumn, I encourage you to break out of your plant-loving shell and venture into this amazing kingdom of healing creatures. I consider medicinal mushrooms part of “herbal medicine” even though, genetically, they have more in common with humans than plants. The unique nature of mushrooms is part of the reason why they offer so many healing properties that other remedies and foods do not.

Mushrooms as Food

Mushrooms are unbeatable for fiber and boast a good amount of protein and trace minerals. In fact, it’s 25 times more efficient to get protein from mushrooms than meat, according to herbalist Christopher Hobbs, author of Medicinal Mushrooms. And adding mushrooms to a dish provides a meaty, savory texture and flavor that can replace or stretch meat. Another impressive attribute is their ability to make vitamin D when exposed to the sun or ultraviolet light, much the same way we make vitamin D in our skin. Vitamin D is extremely difficult to get from food and nonexistent in plants. In one test performed by mushroom guru Paul Stamets, vitamin D levels in three ounces of shiitakes jumped from 110 IU to an astonishing 46,000 IU after six hours. If your mushrooms haven’t been “pre-treated” with sunlight, you can place fresh mushrooms, gills up, in the sun for a few hours. All edible mushrooms should be cooked, which helps make certain nutrients and compounds more absorbable and also destroys problematic compounds. Try them sauteed or simmered in soups. Shiitakes are a classic culinary medicinal, but you can also experiment with oyster mushrooms (often available from local sources), maitake (more rare), and an array of specialty dried mushrooms. I love adding them to soup broth.

Mushrooms as Medicine

All mushrooms contain polysaccharides (best extracted through cooking or simmering in water), which stimulate and modulate our immune function in a variety of ways and also tend to lower cholesterol and blood sugar. Alcohol-soluble compounds called triterpenes (which taste bitter) give medicinals like reishi the ability to reduce histamine in allergies and improve oxygen utilization and liver function. You can use them in food or buy them as tinctures or capsules. If you want to make your own remedies, do some research – they require special treatment to get the most benefit.

Preventing Common Infections:
Because mushrooms strengthen and modulate immune function, they are a great way to bolster your immune system in expectation of wintertime infections. While some compounds in mushrooms may directly attack viruses and bacteria, mainly they help your immune system work better and smarter. They’re also perfect for people who just keep getting sick or catch every bug that comes their way. Consider reishi, maitake, shiitake, chaga, and blends like Host Defense MyCommunity and New Chapter’s LifeShield Immunity. You can take them as a supplement or simmer them in broths.

Autoimmune & Allergy Support: Our immune-enhancing mushrooms (see above) also help correct an over-reactive immune system, as in the case of allergies and autoimmune disease. Reishi is particularly useful.

Cancer Prevention & Treatment: Many mushrooms improve our immune system’s defense against cancer, the outcome of conventional care, and survival rates. Turkey tails, maitake, shiitake, reishi, and chaga can be a useful adjunct in cancer prevention and treatment. However, you should always work with your oncologist before adding supplements to your regimen.

Lung Support: Alongside their general immune benefits, certain mushrooms strengthen lung health and improve the body’s ability to utilize oxygen. Reishi and cordyceps, in particular, can be used alongside other remedies for asthma, chronic lung infections, and other respiratory ailments to slowly improve respiratory capacity. I have seen good results with Host Defense Cordychi and New Chapter’s Breathe.

Nerve & Brain Support: Recent research on lion’s mane mushroom supports its ability to improve mental clarity amongst the elderly, and practitioners use the mushroom to heal nerve damage.

Energy, Vitality & Stress Response: Reishi and cordyceps are also noted for their ability to improve mental and physical energy and allay some of the effects of stress and aging. Reishi is often called the Mushroom of Immortality and grouped with stress-busting herbs as an adaptogen.

This information is not meant to diagnose or prescribe. Always check with your doctor before taking new supplements.

Maria teaches classes and sees clients at Wintergreen Botanicals in Allenstown. Find lots of information about herbs, health, recipes and more at

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Self Massage: Feel Like a Million Bucks!

by Dr. Sam Sanzone, DC, Chiropractor & Co-op Wellness Educator

Let’s face it, daily living can be pretty punishing on your body. Muscle tension, knots, painful trigger points, and stiff muscles are just some of the complaints I hear from patients in my office on a regular basis. In working with folks to help diminish their symptoms and maximize their enjoyment of life I will regularly empower them with self myofascial release (self-massage) techniques using foam rollers and other tools. My appreciation of the benefits of this type of work stems from an earlier career as a licensed massage therapist prior to attending graduate school to get my chiropractic degree.

It is common to discover that the low back pain someone is experiencing (by far the most common complaint people bring to my office) is not the result of a direct injury to the lower back. Sometimes it can result from a “knot” in the quadriceps muscles just above the knee, other times it can be the result of trigger points in the gluteus muscles. Often it can be the result of a tight iliotibial (IT) band or hip flexors. By taking a self-guided tour, or exploratory expedition of some of the common causative regions we find that we can locate a major underlying cause of the problems we experience and can bring about some level of relief on our own. After all, there are many tools for individuals to take control of their own health, and that is where health reform begins.

Let’s take a look at what causes trigger points and tight muscles. Many times it can be our own, well-intended fitness endeavors. If our regular exercise plan has us working through old injuries, they may never have the opportunity to fully recover. Often they can be the result of neglect, poor posture, hydration, nutrition or other lifestyle factors. The wisdom in our bodies is always at work trying to compensate for what we subject them to every moment. This is when we need assistance; either self administered or that of a professional. Everyone can benefit from these techniques. Face it: If you’ve lived a perfect life with everything in balance, you would never need to concern yourself with these types of issues... I have yet to meet that person.

The goal of foam rolling is to restore healthy muscle tone, this means your muscles are elastic, healthy, and ready to perform at a moment’s notice – it is not a pain tolerance test. When working on tight/sore muscles, it is normal to experience discomfort or pain. Think of it like the pain you get while stretching. It should be uncomfortable, but not unbearable, and when you are done, it should feel better. The tools I like to recommend include a foam roller, lacrosse ball, Thera Cane, or your own hands. Never roll a joint, and it’s wise to avoid rolling your lower back. To foam roll properly, apply moderate pressure to a specific muscle or muscle group using the roller and your body weight. There are specific techniques and certain precautions that should be taken into consideration. This article is meant as a brief introduction to an extremely rewarding practice of self care. Consider joining Eric Marsh, fitness trainer and I for our upcoming hands-on workshop demonstrating the background and techniques that you can start using right away  - Click here for details and online registration!

Dr. Sam sees clients and runs Community Chiropractic in Concord. Visit

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Green Cleaning with Essential Oils

By Kelly Lang, Health Coach & Co-op Wellness Educator

Kelly is teaching a FREE Green Cleaning Class in Concord on July 8, 2014. Click here for details and online registration.

Even if you’re not ready to install solar panels or a composting toilet, you can still take smaller steps to be more green and environmentally conscious.

Using all-natural cleaning products is be one excellent step toward living a greener lifestyle because the chemicals found in typical cleaning solutions can be some of the most toxic both to the environment and your health.

One way to upgrade to all-natural cleaning products is to learn how to use essential oils. Essential oils are highly concentrated aromatic extracts from plants, and most are naturally antibacterial. In some cases essential oils are also antiseptic and anti-fungal, making them a powerful germ-killing, mold-eradicating option without the toxic side effects.

At first it may seem daunting to learn which oils to use for the cleaning task at hand, but once you find a few favorites you can easily forgo the bottles of toxic spray under your sink and enjoy cleaning in a healthy, environmentally safe way.

Here are a few essential oils that can be excellent and effective for cleaning:


Lemon essential oil is both antibacterial and antiseptic. It can be used in a spray bottle with water to disinfect cutting boards, counter tops, sinks and other surfaces, or just to impart a clean, fresh scent into the room. It is also great for whitening, so you can add it to your homemade floor cleaner to whiten tile floors or add it to homemade laundry detergent to brighten whites. You can also drop lemon essential oil onto sticky substances like gum or glue to remove from just about any surface (including skin). Just be sure to use good quality, pure oil and dilute it if you’re using it directly on the skin. Lastly, lemon oil is a great essential oil to add to homemade furniture polishes.

Tea Tree

Tea tree oil, also known as Melaleuca can be a wonderful antibacterial cleaner for germ-ridden areas like the bathroom. You can add tea tree to a spray bottle with water and spritz bathroom fixtures and flooring before you wipe or mop. Tea tree is especially effective on showers, since its antifungal properties can cut through mold and mildew. It’s also a great choice for cleaning plastic patio furniture that develops mold spots.

Peppermint Oil

Peppermint is another oil that kills bacteria, but it also has a wonderful, fresh scent. Peppermint oil is a great option for any room but because it also increases alertness it can be a perfect choice in the homework area or home office. You can also add one drop of peppermint oil to your toilet to keep it smelling fresh and kill bacteria at the same time. Peppermint oil also deters pests and can be sprayed or placed on cotton balls in areas that are prone to infestation.

Kelly sees clients and runs Green Life Wellness. Learn more at

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Love Your Skin Even If You Love the Sun

By Maria Noël Groves, RH (AHG)
Love this $5 sunhat from the feed store!
Registered Clinical Herbalist & Co-op Wellness Educator

Summer is just about here! Sitting out in the sun on a nice summer day is the epitome of a relaxing good time. But, excess sun exposure can damage the skin over time, encouraging wrinkles and skin cancer to take hold. Take a queue from hot climates. Your best sunscreen is a tightly woven sun hat, sunglasses, light, loose-fitting clothes, and hanging out in the shade when possible. The runner up: a good sunscreen.

Not all sunscreens are made equal. Some make false claims while others contain potentially toxic chemicals. Of course, you can trust the Co-op to offer good, safe brands like Badger and All Terrain (both New Hampshire companies). See the complete list of approved sunscreens on the Environmental Working Group's 2014 Guide to Safe Sunscreen or ask the Co-op’s helpful Health & Beauty staff to assist you.

Remember that while using sunscreen does protect against sunburns, there is no consensus that using sunscreen prevents skin cancer. And some sun, without sunscreen, is essential to allow your body to make the important nutrient vitamin D.
A favorite!

Got Kids? Childhood sunburns may increase the likelihood of dangerous melanomas in adulthood. Shade is really the best sunscreen, especially for infants. With toddlers and older children, choose one of the many kid-friendly sunscreens as a backup and apply heavily.

Got Burned? Turn to remedies with cooling and antioxidant-rich ingredients to help minimize the damage and find relief.
  • Green Tea: Make quart or two of strong green tea, add it to a tepid bath, and rest in the cool water or soak a towel to apply as a compress.
  • Aloe Gel: Store-bought gels work, and freshly sliced aloe leaves are even better. For extra cooling, store your aloe gel or leaves in the fridge.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar: Vinegar helps restore the acid mantle to the skin and does a surprisingly good job relieving sunburn pain (although you will smell a bit like salad dressing!) Dab or spray to onto the burn. Feel free to add a few drops of lavender essential oil for extra healing properties… and improved scent. Store your vinegar in glass or plastic – it will break down metal containers and lids.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Lyme Disease: The Great Imitator

Guest post by by Dr. Amanda Hegnauer, N.D., Naturopathic Doctor & Co-op Wellness Educator

Lyme disease is often referred to as the “great imitator” because it mimics other conditions, often causing patients to suffer a complicated maze of doctors in search of appropriate treatment. It is a disease whose diagnosis is synonymous with anxiety, fear, and frustration. As with any chronic disease, Lyme disease ebbs and flows; three steps forward and four steps back. I find that it is important to keep this in mind as we begin our journey to beat back the symptoms of this bacterial menace.

Some Basic Information

Lyme disease is transmitted by the bite of a tick. Ticks lack respect and know no boundaries. People travel, pets travel, and ticks travel; therefore, residence does not accurately reflect a person’s disease risk. The disease is caused by a spiral-shaped bacteria (spirochete) called Borrelia burgdorferi. The Lyme spirochete can cause infection of multiple organs and produce a wide range of symptoms.

Symptoms Can Include…
  • Bull’s eye rash
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Joint pain
  • Numbness or weakness of limbs
  • Paralysis of one side of the face
  • Impaired muscle movement
  • Meningitis-like symptoms
  • Irregular heart beat
  • Eye inflammation
  • Severe fatigue
It is very important to note that fewer than 50 percent of patients with Lyme disease recall a tick bite. In some studies this number is as low as 15 percent in the culture-proven infection of the Lyme spirochete. Fewer than 50 percent of patients with Lyme disease recall any rash. Although the erythema migrans (EM) or “bull’s-eye” rash is considered classic, it is not the most common dermatologic manifestation of early-localized Lyme infection. Atypical forms of this rash are more commonly seen.

Not only are we to combat Borrelia burgdorferi but there are five subspecies and more than 100 strains in the United States and 300 strains worldwide. This diversity may contribute to its ability to evade the immune system and antibiotic therapy, leading to chronic infection. Not only should we test for Borrelia but also Lyme co-infectors including Babesia, Anaplasma, Ehrlichia, and Bartonella. The presence of a co-infection with these organisms leads to infection with the Lyme spirochete as well. If these co-infections are left untreated, their continued presence increases morbidity and prevents the successful treatment of Lyme disease.

Click here for more on what to do in the event of a tick bite.

The Difficulty of Testing

The accuracy and reliability of testing for Lyme disease is surrounded by a great deal of controversy and opinion. The ELISA screening test is unreliable; it misses 35 percent of culture-proven Lyme disease (only 65 percent sensitivity) and is unacceptable as the first step of a two-step screening protocol. By definition, a screening test should have at least 95 percent sensitivity. The next test to consider is the Western Blot Blood test. Of patients with acute culture-proven Lyme disease, 20 to 30 percent remain seronegative on serial western blot sampling. Antibody titers also appear to decline over time. So, while the Western Blot may remain positive for months, it may not always be sensitive enough to detect chronic infection with the Lyme spirochete. And since these bands are so specific to Borrelia borgdorferi (Bb), the CDC chose them for vaccine development. If a patient has formed an antibody (a protein against a foreign substance) to a specific Bb protein, a “band” will form at a specific place on the immunoblot (the process when proteins are identified by their reaction with antibodies). By looking at the band pattern of patient’s results, the lab can determine if the patient’s immune response is specific for Bb.

According to a recent alert from the NH Divisions of Public Health Services, recent reports of sudden cardiac death attributed to Lyme disease carditis highlights the importance of prompt diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease. New Hampshire has the highest reported incidence of Lyme Disease per capita than any other state in the nation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Lyme Treatment

Antibiotic TreatmentMost cases of chronic Lyme disease require an extended course of antibiotic therapy to achieve symptomatic relief. The return of symptoms and evidence of the continued presence of Borrelia burgdorferi indicates the need for further treatment. The very real consequences of untreated chronic persistent Lyme infection far outweigh the potential consequences of long-term antibiotic therapy. Many patients with chronic Lyme disease require prolonged treatment until the patient is symptom-free. Relapses occur and re-treatment may be required. There are no tests currently available to prove that the organism is eradicated or that the patient with chronic Lyme disease is cured.  High-dose antibiotic treatment is overwhelming and speculative. Benefits versus risks must be taken into serious consideration.

Naturopathic medicine offers a unique approach in which the doctor can determine the root cause of disease and individualize a treatment plan that may or may not include antibiotics as well as natural therapies. We often support the immune system, balance hormones and the adrenal glands, eliminate toxins, focus on a whole foods diet, and eliminate food sensitivity. We always focus on the center of the body’s universe: the gut. High-dose antibiotics have a propensity to eat away at the gut, disrupting the natural course of healthy bacteria.

Natural TherapiesSelf-treatment of Lyme with natural remedies is tricky because it is so individualized. Treatment is based on fighting the disease intra- and/or extra-cellularly and per symptoms. Self-treatment – even with natural therapies – can be challenging because a patient may start to utilize a therapy that is not appropriate for his/her needs.

We always treat the immune system because Lyme disease can initiate an underlying autoimmune concern. It takes a real toll on the immune system even if there is no underlying pathology.  It is important to note that any treatment may exacerbate a Herxheimer Response.  Therefore, please consult your health care provider prior to initiating treatment.  However it is always valuable for patients to educate themselves about possible therapies! These include....

Immune system support:
  • Citrus bioflavonoids
  • Cordyceps mushroom
  • Maitake mushroom
  • Reishi mushroom
  • Shiitake mushroom
  • Gingko
  • Vitamins: Vitamins C & D-3, B Vitamins
Herbs specific to Lyme disease and general symptoms of inflammation:
  • Andrographis
  • Cats Claw
  • Eleuthero
  • Pau D’Arco
  • Teasel Root

Homeopathy, hydrotherapy, acupuncture, reiki and massage therapy can also help in a natural approach.

As we tackle individual symptoms, it is important to step back, breathe, and consider the body as a whole. Ask yourself, how is this chronic illness affecting me emotionally? Are my symptoms exacerbated by other factors? Keep in mind that an illness not only affects you but reaches others as well. Lyme disease is a serious diagnosis and not to be taken lightly.

Dr. Hegnauer practices naturopathic medicine at Whole Health Concord. Her specialties include autoimmune disease, chronic fatigue, endocrinology, gastroenterology, and women’s health. Learn more at

The statements made on this blog have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, prescribe, recommend, or offer medical advice. Please see your health care practitioner for help regarding choices and to avoid herb-drug interactions.

Monday, March 10, 2014

DeVita Natural Skincare Products at the Concord Food Co-op

By Jaimie Jusczyk, Marketing Specialist at the Concord Food Co-op

As part of our mission to provide our community with high quality natural and environmentally sound products at reasonable prices, Sandrine in the Health and Beauty Aids Department has been busy, as usual, sourcing new and exciting products for the Co-op shelves. The latest addition to the beauty department is a completely vegan line of products by Devita Natural Skincare from Arizona. If you are looking for products that don’t contain animal products, lists of chemicals and impure oils, come in to the Concord store to try these luxuriously essential creams, cleansers and toner.
Watch the video below...

DeVita Natural Skincare was created by a mother in Arizona, Cherylanne DeVita, Ph.D., who needed to find a solution for her acne prone skin after realizing that all the big brand name products contained ingredients that couldn’t produce the results they claimed. After trying countless products and not finding a solution with her dermatologist, she decided to put her chemistry background to work. Using natural products, pure essential oils and an aloe base, DeVita was created to heal and protect our largest organ! With ingredients like chamomile, rose oil and Japanese green tea, DeVita Natural Skincare products will leave you feeling clean, calm and ready to take on the world with your new found confidence that comes naturally with clear, soft skin.
Sandrine is stocking the core eight products that are just the beginning to beautiful, youthful skin in the Concord store. You will find on the Co-op shelves an Aloe Vera Moisture Cleanser, Gentle Aloe Facial Scrub, Moroccan Rose Facial Toner, Perfect Timing Moisturizer, Evening Rich Nutritional Moisturizer, Revitalizing Eye Lift Cream, Solar Protective Moisturizer SPF 30+, and an Optimal Rejuvenation Age Defying Serum.

DeVita Natural Skincare at the Concord Food Co-op
Sandrine raves about the Moroccan Rose Facial Toner, “I plan to use the rose toner as a spritzer. It is very refreshing and has a delicious smell!” and she definitely knows about the difference high quality rose oils can make. She had me try the SPF 30+ cream on the back of my hand that has been suffering through the dry air this winter. It went on nice and smooth, not greasy or heavy feeling like I was expecting for a sunscreen with the first ingredient listed as zinc. Hours later as I am sitting here writing this, the back of my hand still feels smooth and soft, the papery dryness hasn’t come back. This is definitely a product I am going to have to try out this summer when I want to enjoy the sun safely.  Let me know in the comments if you have tried these products yet and share your experience.
Sandrine is happy to help answer your questions and select the right products for you. For more information about DeVita Natural Skincare, visit their website where you can find ingredient lists and the full story behind the brand. And this month only, enjoy 20% off all the Devita Natural Skincare products in the Concord Food Co-op, March 2014.
See you in the Co-op!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Heart of the Matter: Cardio Tonic Herbs

By Maria Noël Groves, RH (AHG), Registered Clinical Herbalist & Co-op Wellness Educator

Think of the cardiovascular system as the highways and byways in the road map of our body. Nutrients, hormones, oxygen, immune cells, and other important compounds speed their way through your body through this intricate system of vessels. These vessels need to be smooth, flexible, and resilient to handle the day-to-day stress of traffic flow. At the center of this universe lies your heart, a literal symbol of vitality and life for your entire body, pumping blood to the rest of your body. The heart also plays a psycho-spiritual role; almost every culture sees it as the seat of emotions. Unfortunately, cardiovascular disease is the number one killer in the United States, and it can be difficult to catch in the early stages.

Risk factors for heart disease and cardio-related death include high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes and insulin resistance, smoking, poor diet, sedentary lifestyle, inflammation, oxidation, stress, obesity, and family history. But keying in on just one of these risk factors can give us a false sense of security. For example, approximately half of first-time heart attack patients have normal cholesterol levels, and the jury is still out on whether artificially lowering high cholesterol with statins actually reduces your overall morbidity and mortality risk. While nothing is a guarantee, keeping a wide range of our risk factors at bay certainly improves our odds, as do a slew of wonderful herbs and delicious foods.

Hawthorn Berries, Leaves & Flowers (Crataegus spp) research amazes me. How can one herb – growing happily at the forest’s edge – have such affinity for the human heart? The berries, leaves, and flowers of this thorny tree strengthen the pumping ability of the heart muscle, enhance blood flow and supply to the heart, dilate and relax blood vessels, lower blood pressure, and protect the cardiovascular system from oxidative stress. Antioxidant pigments called procyanidins in hawthorn also appear to inhibit angiotensin-converting enzyme, an enzyme that catalyzes blood vessel constriction and the target of ACE-inhibitor hypertension drugs. Over time, hawthorn improves oxygen supply to the heart and strengthens the muscles of the cardiovascular system. The red rosehip-like berry tastes good, is rich in antioxidants, and has traditionally been used. Modern phytopharmacology focuses on the leaves and flowers, and many herbalists combine all three parts into their preparations. Hawthorn is a gentle, slow-acting tonic, so it may take a couple months of steady use to notice the effects. Blood pressure numbers may only improve a bit, but overall benefit throughout the cardiovascular system is impressive. Hawthorn shows promise for mild, chronic congestive heart failure, cardiac insufficiency, post-heart attack care, an aging heart, arrhythmia, angina, cardiomyopathy, and overall heart health. It’s very safe with few side effects or contraindications. However, hawthorn has a potentially dangerous synergistic effect when combined with digitalis/ digoxin and blood pressure meds. Practitioners in Europe purposely combine hawthorn with digoxin to lessen the drug dose and side effects while maintaining efficacy, but this requires the skill of a trained practitioner.  If you take blood pressure medication, work with your doctor to determine whether or not your medication doses should be reduced.

Hibiscus Flowers (Hibiscus sabdariffa) and Rooibos (Aspalathus linearis), are two tasty red teas that have been making headlines for their cardiovascular benefits. Popular in Central America, hibiscus offers similar plant chemicals and antioxidants as berries: blue-red pigments called anthocyanins, citric acid, malic acid, polyphenols, bioflavonoids, and as small amount of vitamin C. The plain, strong tea tastes like unsweetened cranberry juice. A handful of recent preliminary studies have found that drinking just a few cups of hibiscus tea lowers hypertension. In one study, four weeks of hibiscus outperformed the blood pressure drug lisinopril while also lowering sodium (but not potassium) levels and inhibiting ACE. Hibiscus also appears to have a positive effect on cholesterol and triglycerides and may have protective effects for the capillaries, blood sugar/diabetes, insulin resistance, and the liver. South Africans sip on rooibos, an antioxidant-rich fermented caffeine-free tea that tastes like a mild black tea with fruity, plum-y undertones. Preliminary research shows that rooibos protects the liver and reduces cholesterol and blood pressure. In one study, participants who drank six cups of rooibos tea daily for six weeks (as opposed to just water), increased blood levels of polyphenols and nutrients, decreased cholesterol oxidants, increased function of the body’s natural antioxidant systems, decreased LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, and increased HDL cholesterol. Another study found that it reduced hypertension and inhibited ACE. Even though the research on both plants is still preliminary, they have such a high degree of safety, they’re worth adding to your daily routine.

Pomegranate frequently makes headlines for its antioxidant and health-promoting properties. Research suggests the puckery, sweet seeds reduce atherosclerosis, enhance nitric oxide, improve endothelial function, reverse plaque buildup, and reduce heart disease risk. Pomegranates are in season sporadically throughout the winter months but are available year-round as juice. Look for products made with 100 percent pomegranate. Drink it straight and add it to seltzer water, smoothies, salad dressings, and sauces.

Berries pack a healthy punch in a tasty, little package. In a Finnish study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, eating about five ounces daily of mixed berries reduced blood pressure and increased good cholesterol. Cranberries and cherries also appear to reduce bad cholesterol, total cholesterol, and blood pressure while enhancing endothelial health. Dark purple grapes contain antioxidant resveratrol, noted for cardioprotective actions including the ability to tighten and tone the vascular lining. Though it’s most famous in the form of red wine, drinking 100 percent dark purple grape juice offers similar benefits. Check out the juice section as well as frozen concentrates. Aim for at least a 1/2 cup of berries fresh, frozen, pureed, juiced daily.

Linden Leaves and Flowers (Tilia spp) are abuzz with bees when in bloom. The ornamental trees, also called lime (no relation to citrus) and basswood, line the streets in cities throughout Europe and America. The leaves are shaped like hearts and are almost always enjoyed as a pleasant tasting, honey scented tea. Europeans enjoy the calming, flavonoid-rich tea after dinner. Although research is slim, European herbalists have long relied on linden to calm and strengthen the heart, reduce blood pressure, decrease inflammation, relax spasms, and soothe the nerves. It’s specific for stress that manifests in the heart and heart issues aggravated by stress, as is the less pleasant tasting motherwort (Leonorus cardiaca).

Cocoa & Dark Chocolate (Theobroma cacao) may be our most delicious heart tonics. Native people who consume cocoa beverages have reduced hypertension, and researchers back that up with clinical studies on more than 66,000 people showing that cocoa consumption reduces the risk of death due to heart disease. Chocolate is made from cocoa liquor, cocoa butter, sugar, and often milk. Beneficial compounds including antioxidant flavanols and magnesium seem to work together to have broad-reaching benefits on the cardiovascular system. Preliminary studies show that chocolate reduces the oxidative stress that aggravates atherosclerosis and plaque formation, decreases the inflammation known to aggravate cardiovascular disease, increases circulation, decreases blood pressure, improves the integrity of the walls of our blood vessels, and may also improve cholesterol and glucose levels. The higher the cocoa content, the better the effects. Dark chocolate has 120 to 150 mg of beneficial polyphenols while pure cocoa has almost five times that amount and milk chocolate has almost none. And, it boosts your mood! Enjoy a few squares of dark chocolate and incorporate cocoa nibs and cocoa powder into smoothies, hot beverages, and recipes.

Heart-Healthy Diet & Lifestyle

Dean Ornish proved that we can slow, stop, and even reverse heart disease with diet and lifestyle, and these tactics remain our most heavy-hitting heart remedies. Here are the basics:

Eat Well: Opt for low-glycemic, high-fiber whole foods (whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds), foods rich in omega 3s (fatty fish, flax oil, chia, hemp, walnuts, purslane), olive oil, ideally nine servings of vegetables and fruit daily in a rainbow of colors, garlic, onions, plenty of antioxidant and inflammatory herbs and spices, green tea, and red wine and dark chocolate in moderation. Vegetarian and vegan diets are most promising; if you opt to eat meat, choose grass-fed or wild sources (which will provide some heart-healthy omega 3s), and keep them in moderation.

About those spices… a recent study published in the Journal of Nutrition, researchers gave study participants highly spiced meals (about a half ounce of high-antioxidant spices added) or the same meal without spices. The spices meals demonstrated 20 to 30 percent less of an insulin and triglyceride response as well as 13 percent higher ORAC (antioxidant) levels. The spice blend included rosemary, oregano, cinnamon, turmeric, black pepper, garlic powder, cloves, and paprika. The researchers estimated that the spices provided similar antioxidant levels as a glass of wine or one and a half ounces of dark chocolate. Take a cue from some of the heart-healthiest, most heavily seasoned, plant-based diets in the world: Mediterranean, Indian, and Asian.

Exercise: We call it “cardio” for a reason! All forms of exercise have merit, but mild to moderate intensity cardiovascular exercises like walking, dancing, and biking strengthen the heart and lung muscles, improve circulation, and decrease blood pressure. If you currently have heart disease or are completely sedentary, work with a trainer or qualified expert to slowly work your way into a regimen.

Calm Mind: Stress has an incredible effect on heart disease and is actually a better predictor for heart disease than cholesterol, cigarette smoking, or obesity! Work-related stress doubles your risk of dying from heart disease. On the flip side, regular meditation, yoga, tai chi, qi gong, and other forms of stress management and mind-body balance have a direct beneficial effect on the heart.

Safety Note

If you have heart disease or are currently taking medication, it is particularly important that you work with your doctor before adding herbs to your regimen. Though herbs can have a profound benefit even in serious heart disease, they may not be sufficient to replace conventional care and may also interact with medications. Many cardiovascular medications pose serious herb/food-drug interaction risks, particularly blood-thinning medications.

The statements made on this blog have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, prescribe, recommend, or offer medical advice. Please see your health care practitioner for help regarding choices and to avoid herb-drug interactions.