Create Your Own Skincare

I’m excited to share some insights from one of the most dedicated, intelligent and loving people I know, who also happens to be an expert on skin health using natural means–Rachael Pontillo of Create Your Skincare. Rachael is about to roll out the latest version of her personalized, in-depth teaching around creating your own, healthy skin care (isn’t that just the best??) Watch the great talk below on what you need to steer clear of in commercial skin care lines—and how you can learn from Rachael PERSONALLY!

Amy’s Corner: Soaked Bran Muffins

Yield: 1 doz.

Ingredients:

Wheat Bran*:  1 ½ C.
Flour**:  1 C.
Water Kefir:  1 C.
Raw Milk:  ⅓ C.
Coconut Oil or Ghee:  ⅓ C.
Sucanat:  ¼ C.
Egg:  1 ea.
Orange:  1 ea.
Baking Powder:  1 ½ tsp.
Baking Soda:  1 ½ tsp.
Sea Salt:  ½ tsp.
Vanilla:  2 tsp.
Cinnamon:  ½ tsp.
Mixed Fruit***:  1 C.

Procedure:

  1. Combine the bran, flour and water kefir in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Cover and set aside for 24 hours at room temperature.
  3. After the mixture has sat for 24 hours, proceed with the recipe.
  4. Juice and zest the orange and add this and the milk to flour mixture.
  5. Melt the ghee/oil.
  6. Combine the butter/oil with the remaining ingredients and stir into the flour mixture until completely combined.
  7. Grease a 12-cup muffin pan and divide the batter evenly.
  8. Place into a preheated 425° oven.
  9. Bake 15-20 minutes, or until the tops of the muffins spring back when lightly touched.
  10. Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before removing from pan.

Notes
*I use the bran that I sift from freshly milled flour
**Any flour (wheat, spelt, emmer, etc.) of your choice may be used
***I use a mix of fresh & dried fruit

Brain Support and Recovery Trifecta–Ground, Relax, Circulate and Recover

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is a term that is being used increasingly, thanks in part to the recognition of the consequences of concussions sustained in amateur and professional sports, notably American football. Beyond injuries in sports, however, the consequences of falls, car accidents, traumas incurred in and around the house, at school, even at work–how many ways can we hurt our heads?–the effects of severe and continued episodes of concussion have presented as major factors to health, happiness and vitality going forward in life.

It’s easy to enjoy grounding and earthing on a warm summer’s day in Sedona–rejuvenation for body and mind!

So, I’ve been keeping my eye on what I have seen to be some of the most promising support once a person has sustained an injury like this (and, in at least one of the items I’ll be mentioning, actually protecting the brain from greater injury if such an accident happens!)  While healthy nutrition, a balance of sleep/exercise/meditation and other adjunctive therapies such as acupuncture and medicinal grade essential oils are all part of what I would consider as part of this picture, the following modalities really, really shine in their support of brain health.

CBD Oils Cannabis oils (which I’ve referenced in another post), have shown tremendous support to the neural system both before injury, and after brain injury has occurred.  As mentioned before, this type of nutritional support is about pain relief and recovery–the use of standardized CBD oils from the hemp plant do not impart a psychoactive effect–but they do offer wellness support like nothing else I’ve seen.

(From the Medical Marijuana, Inc. educational portal): Cannabinoids have been shown to act on the CB1 and CB2 receptors of the endocannibinoid system, which in turn prevents the release of proinflammatory cytokines that are released after brain trauma and cause damage (Panikashvili, et al., 2006). Activating of the CB1 and CB2 receptors also has been shown to stimulate the release of minocycline, which reduces brain swelling and neurological impairment, and diffuses further injuries to the brain’s axons (Lopez-Rodriguez, et al., 2015) (Biegon, 2004).

In one study, cannabinoid administered to mice with brain injuries caused a significant reduction of brain swelling, as well as better clinical recovery, reduced infarct volume, and reduced brain cell death compared to the control group (Panikashvili, et al., 2001). In another, CBD was found to reduce acute and apoptotic brain damage (Castillo, et al., 2010). Piglets with brain injuries given CBD experienced less excitotoxicity, oxidative stress and inflammation (Pazos, et al., 2013).

Mice that had suffered an impact brain injury showed marked recovery in object recognition and in performing a specific task after CB1 receptors were activated (Arain, Khan, Craig & Nakanishi, 2015). Cannabinoids have even shown to be effective at offering neuroprotection in newborn babies that have experienced a brain injury (Fernandez-Lopez, Lizasoain, Moro & Martinez-Orgado, 2013).

Often, when there is a brain injury, there may be a spinal injury in conjunction–again, from the Medical Marijuana, Inc. education portal:

Cannabinoids have demonstrated that they can help limit the neurological damage if administered shortly after a spinal cord injury. Following trauma, a series of pathological events contribute to the spread of spinal cord damage and further provokes neurological losses (Arevalo-Martin, Garcia-Ovejero & Molina-Holgado, 2010). However, administering cannabinoids soon after the injury has been shown to reduce proinflammatory cytokines and delay neuronal atrophy and degeneration, thus preserving the white matter around injured area and protecting the myelin sheath that surrounds the cord (Latini, et al., 2014) (Arevalo-Martin, Garcia-Ovejero & Molina-Holgado, 2010).

In one study, a reduction in swelling and a preservation of white matter and myelin were shown when cannabinoids were administered 20 minutes following a spinal cord injury (Arevalo-Martin, et al., 2012). In another, rats with spinal cord injuries saw improvements in locomotor functional recovery (Kwiatkoski, Guimaraes & Del-Bel, 2012). A third study found, in addition to an improvement in neurological function, saw a decrease in compression lesion volume (Hong, et al., 2015).

By acting through the CB1 and CB2 receptors of the endocannabinoid system, the cannabinoids provide a neuro-protective response, prompting researchers to conclude that they can be a useful treatment for acute spinal cord injuries (Arevalo-Martin, Garcia-Ovejero & Molina-Holgado, 2010) (Arevalo-Martin, et al., 2012) (Arevalo-Martin, Molina-Holgado & Garcia-Ovejero, 2016).

In addition, cannabis has long been determined as effective for addressing neuropathic pain. Its use has been found to be among the most effective pain relief treatments for people with spinal cord injuries (Wilsey, et al., 2013) (Heutink, Post, Wollaars & van Asbeck, 2011)…For spinal cord injury patients experiencing spasms, cannabis may offer relief. Along with pain, muscle spasm is the most common reason that medical cannabis is recommended and prescribed by medical professionals (Borgelt, Franson, Nussbaum & Wang, 2013).

Studies have demonstrated that medical cannabis offers significant improvements in muscle spasticity, both in mice trials and in human subjects (Borgelt, Franson, Nussbaum & Wang, 2013) (Baker, et al., 2000). Spinal cord injured persons have reported that cannabis use decreased spasticity (Malec, Harvey & Cayner, 1982).

If you wish to purchase standardized, nourishing, purity-tested and potent CBD oils from hemp, you can do so here.

LED and Near-infrared Light Therapy: This is a non-invasive, comfortable therapy that I use with all my patients, whether there is TBI or not. It is a unique therapy that harnesses the healing powers of infrared light, emitting noted wavelengths of light energy that dramatically increase circulation to injury sites and areas of chronic pain, resulting in a rapid relief of discomfort, improved sense of wellness, and regeneration of damaged tissues. 

Flexible pads embedded with multiple infrared and visible red and blue diodes, are placed directly in contact with the skin over the area of pain or injury. Light energy from the diodes penetrates beneath the skin and is absorbed by proteins within cells that lay beneath the skin, which releases nitric oxide, the body’s natural vasodilator. After just 20 minutes of treatment, blood flow is increased to nerves and other tissues, and this boost in local circulation persists for several hours after the pads are removed.  My patients LOVE this therapy–and thankfully the units are available for home purchase.  Please send me an email if you’d like information on having your own system.  Here’s an incredible video showcasing the power of the lights when there has been injury to the brain.

Earthing  As was shared in the Journal of Environmental and Public Health in 2012, the impact of connecting with the earth’s surface electrons is one of the most healing activities we can undertake.  And while this seems easy enough to do, how many of us actually walk barefoot outdoors, or lie in direct contact with the earth (both activities our ancestors did daily–and so our bodies are expecting this connection) on a regular basis?  Personally, I live, sleep and work in a second-story setting–and for a good portion of the year it is so chilly that I wouldn’t dream of stepping out without my shoes.  So, my contact with the earth in this manner is GREATLY impacted (and I know better!)  Thankfully, there is technology that works with the actual electrical model of our homes and workplaces that can help us stay grounded through the electrons of the earth.  One company that has a great selection of well-made products is Earthing.

From yoga mats to bed sheets, their product selection will offer up a way for you to have direct contact of skin to Earthing product, to help you reap the benefit of a healthy dose of electrons.

Whether you’ve experienced a bad concussion at some time in your life, or you are wishing to support someone in your life who has, I hope these novel and impactful suggestions help to recover the health and vitality that is the birthright of each of us–injury or none.

Hemp-based CBD Oil, Pain, Appetite–and Not Being High!

High points of our endogenous Endocannabanoid System (ECS)

I love plant medicine–I am an herbalist by trade–and I am thrilled that the powerful-but-long-forgotten hemp plant and its CBD oils are shining brightly as the champions of helping recover from so much of what is hurting us.

The predecessor to the pharmaceutical age we live in was an intricate, respectful and rich relationship and understanding of our place in the world and its various substances and elements.

While that sounds pretty heady, all I’m trying to say is that we worked with what was available to us–whether that be for shelter, sustenance, pleasure, or recovery from injury or illness–we learned from our elders and community how to best use what was in our space to make the most of our innate vitality and live to our fullest capacity.  And we understood that the influences of season, elemental considerations– these all had a profound play on us, because we ARE part of this warp and weave of the quilt of our earth and our universe.

Likewise, the plant kingdom is part of that wonderful quilt of life. Medicinal plants were recognized until recent times as an integral part of our health and welfare–our “brothers-in-arms” of navigating seasonal changes, birth and child-rearing, illness–the compounds and energetics in these plants have been used strategically to help bring humanity to the place we find ourselves today.

Unfortunately, the last hundred years or so has seen quite a shift in this respect, understanding and relationship.  The pharmaceutical age we live in, while INCREDIBLY powerful and potent in many respects, has also been an age where we’ve lost that connection and understanding of the plants and our relationship with them.

Thankfully there have been people in our midst who’ve maintained this understanding as best they can, from text books, mentorship with herbalists, formal education in traditional herbal medicine (the route I’ve taken), and today, from what is handed down on the Internet, both on blogs, and in the research and studies found on such sites as PubMed.

It takes a village!

One of the most potent plant medicines out there is found in the hemp plant (a variety of the Cannabis sativa plant, grown for nutrition and industrial purposes).  From Wikipedia:

It is one of the fastest growing plants and was one of the first plants to be spun into usable fiber 10,000 years ago. It can be refined into a variety of commercial items including paper, textiles, clothing, biodegradable plastics, paint, insulation, biofuel, food, and animal feed. Although cannabis as a drug and industrial hemp are both members of the species Cannabis sativa and contain the psychoactive component tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), they are distinct strains with unique biochemical compositions and uses. Hemp has lower concentrations of THC and higher concentrations of cannabidiol (CBD), which decreases or eliminates its psychoactive effects.

This mention of CBD has especially important impact for us humans.  Around 1990, the human body was found to have what is now known as the Endocannabinoid System.  Again, from Wikipedia:

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a group of endogenous cannabinoid receptors located in the mammalian brain and throughout the central and peripheral nervous systems, consisting of neuromodulatory lipids and their receptors. Known as “the body’s own cannabinoid system”, the ECS is involved in a variety of physiological processes including appetite, pain-sensation, mood, and memory, and in mediating the psychoactive effects of cannabis. The ECS is also involved in voluntary exercise and may be related to the evolution of the runner’s high in human beings and related aspects of motivation or reward for locomotor activity in other animals.

This system is a relatively new finding to the scientific community–and in the wake of it, there have been numerous studies looking at ways to nourish and support this natural part of who we are that has such a profound influence on:

  • Appetite
  • Pain modulation
  • Degenerative conditions such as Type II Diabetes, multiple sclerosis and atherosclerosis
  • Memory and neuro-cognitive concerns
  • Physical movement
  • Healthy stress response
  • Motor activity of the nerves supporting digestion, reproduction and elimination
  • Temperature regulation
  • Sleep

As  you can see, this relatively new kid on the block of our understanding of bodily functions covers A LOT!  It really can be considered an integral component of our neurotransmitter system, regulating rest, sleep, appetite, mood and physical expression.

And the hemp plant, rich in naturally-occurring cannabinoids, is one of the best sources of nourishment of this system.  Unfortunately, hemp has fallen off our collective radar screen for the last hundred years or so in the West.  From Wikipedia:

Until the early 1900s industrial hemp was a valuable crop used all over the world for its strong fibers and oil seeds. Today, however, the common perception of the industrial hemp plant is generally negative and associated with the drug marijuana. This perception is the legacy of a century of powerful influences construing hemp as a dangerous drug, even though it is not a drug and it has the potential to be a profitable alternative crop. In the United States, the public’s perception of hemp as marijuana has blocked hemp from becoming a useful crop and product.

The recognition of the endocannabinoid system in our bodies has only helped us to recognize the nutritional value of this unjustly maligned crop.  I will be the first to say that the “buzz” of marijuana is not my idea of a good time (but to each, his own)–and I certainly don’t want my kids nor my patients experiencing this aspect of marijuana through my recommendation.  That buzz arises from another active constituent in the marijuana plant called THC–it is the source of the “high”.

In addition to the therapeutic essential oils, magnesium oil, acupuncture, LED light therapy, laser, near-infrared lights, moxibustion, gua sha, cupping and ultrasound I use in helping with pain and bringing balance to the body, I’ve also used oils topically for pain that have been derived from the marijuana plant, but I’ve found that I’ve needed to use quite a lot at the site of pain before the pain went away.  This is costly (I’ve found this type of plant medicine to be on the high-end of expense), but eventually effective–and I do mean effective–the pain is not masked, it just stops.  Unfortunately, it has just taken too much to reach the destination of pain relief, as the ratio of CBDs to THC was weighted too unevenly.  And if I’d wanted to use it internally, the psychoactive “high” would be strong and completely NOT what I would want for myself, my family nor my patients.

Thankfully, there is now a company that has made its sole purpose the  availability of potent, nourishing CBD oils that are created for health, without the psychoactive effects of high THC concentrations.  And, the price-point and availability of these products make this type of supplementation available to more people than any other delivery system I’ve seen.  The company is called Kannaway and I am excited to offer their products as a Brand Ambassador.  Ordering their products is easy and they are shipped directly to your home–you can order retail, or set up a wholesale account, or join me in sharing this “grass-roots” (sorry, I couldn’t resist!) effort as a Brand Ambassador as well.  In all transparency, this is a direct sales company and as a Brand Ambassador I stand to earn through sales of their products–but for the hassle I’ve experienced trying to find CBD-rich oils that are effective, reasonably-priced and that are easily shared with people in all 50 states, this company has been an incredible find.  I’d be remiss if I didn’t share with you, too.

Here’s a link to a webinar I recently recorded, where we discuss some personal outcomes with the use of the Kannaway products–it’s very informal, but the stories are moving.

I hope you’ll look into the research around this incredibly important topic and consider this as a safe, effective and well-rounded form of plant medicine for you and your family–Take care!

Vitamin D3 – Dangerous! Unless You Are Doing It Right

An Interview with WellnessWiz Jack Tips

  1. Vitamin D supplementation can hurt you if you don’t do it right.
  2. Don’t take Vitamin D by itself! It should ALWAYS be accompanied by certain key nutriments.
  3. Important to test your Vitamin D (There’s a home test! – Special Offer!)
  4. The best flu-preventative program (not a shot!)

Q. What’s this “dangerous” situation with Vitamin D?

WWJ. Because of its importance and amazing health properties, Vitamin D3 deserves to be the molecule of the year. It’s a pre-hormone, a cellular function activator and regulator, steroid, essential for bone health, and necessary for proper immune system function. Further, it supports body composition (fat to muscle ratio), and activates some 3000 genes—ones that impact blood pressure, insulin production, brain health, and numerous disease-preventative cellular functions, thus is considered “anti-cancer”.

Over the past few years, Vitamin D3 has been researched, touted, and marketed like crazy. The problem is, without it’s supportive co-factors, there can be dire consequences of taking supplemental Vitamin D3 by itself. This is such an important point, I actually consider companies that market Vitamin D3 as a single ingredient without properly educating people to be unscrupulous.

Q. What kind of consequences?

WWJ. Heart disease, calcified arteries, hypercalcemia (turns tissues to cement), calcium deposits in the joints, kidney stones, causes magnesium deficiencies, and creates relative deficiencies in other fat-soluble vitamins such as A, E, and especially K2.

Q. Why would so many companies sell Vitamin D products that could potentially cause damage?

WWJ. Well, I can’t speak for the companies and where their hearts are, but historically the nutrition supplement business has been caveat emptor—buyer beware. Because the credo of Natural Health established by it’s father, Hippocrates, is ‘First Do No Harm;’ it’s incumbent on practitioners to provide patients with high quality, well thought-out supplements. But many people read an article—such as the terrific ones in the New York Times or Time Magazine—that reveal the critical importance and benefits of Vitamin D3, and then order the cheapest product they can find. So there are manufacturers that cater to the quick, make-a-buck sales—and what they are doing is perfectly legal—but it’s not right.

Q. So what makes a good vitamin D supplement?

WWJ. First and foremost is the sun. Okay, I know you’re asking about supplementation. But the best Vitamin D is sunlight on the skin. There is no substitute for sunlight. Supplements help, but they don’t accomplish exactly the same thing. Ex: Sun-vitamin D (7-dehydrocholesterol) is processed in the skin [before it goes to the liver to become 25-hydroxy vitamin D, and then to the kidneys for processing into the steroid hormone 1,25 dihydroxy vitamin D] and creates and new molecule called cholesterol sulfate—a much-needed, valuable molecule for heart and cell
membrane health.

Q. So why so much frenzy about supplementing with Vitamin D?

WWJ. Not only is it critically important for hundreds of aspects of health, there’s a pandemic deficiency of Vitamin D in children (and also adults). The synthetic Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) added to milk is of little value, and children have been admonished by doctors to stay out of the sun.

Sadly, people have been taught to fear the sun instead of learning common sense respect that sunlight is an essential “nutrient” for a healthy life. People have become sun phobic and avid uses of toxic sunscreen lotions. The true and responsible teaching would be how to get the proper amount of sunshine safely, thus to avoid sunburn, damaged DNA, aging skin, wrinkles, melanomas, and carcinomas. This situation is an example where the purported “cure” of hiding from the sun (which causes Vitamin D3 deficiencies) is generally worse than the diseases that damaging exposure could cause – both sun damage and Vitamin D3 deficiency leads to cancers, but with Vitamin D3 deficiency, the person’s quality of life is diminished over the 20 years it takes for sun damage to develop into a
disease.

Historically over thousands of years, the human body adapted and developed a beneficial relationship with the sun (e.g. the creation of Vitamin D3 and cholesterol sulfate). The fear of sunshine increased in the 1980’s with the alarming rise in skin damage occurring after humans destroyed part of the Earth’s ozone (O3) layer via aerosol can propellants, industrial air pollution, and air conditioner refrigerant. The sun’s less-filtered ultraviolet-B and cosmic rays starting hitting the skin with more force as holes in the ozone occurred resulting in more skin cancers. This phenomenon, coupled with poor nutrition (people started avoiding dietary Vitamin D3 in meat, milk, and eggs based on doctors’ errant advisement), created iatrogenic-driven seeds of destruction for human health.

Fortunately, people rallied, consumers changed, manufacturer- and environmental-protective laws have helped stop the destruction of the Earth’s protective ozone layer—a tremendous example of people working together to help solve a global crisis! Science predicts that by 2080, the Earth’s ozone layer may return to its 1950 level. Right now, the ozone hole is over Antarctica and is contributing to warming and climate change there, so we’ve not yet escaped the consequences.

Q. So people turned to supplementation.

WWJ. Right. And, on a personal note, because I work indoors all day, I supplement with Vitamin D3 and test my levels every 6 months to maintain an optimal blood level of 25 Hydroxy D, which for me is: 70 ng/ml. I grab some sunshine whenever I can in the mid-morning whenever my schedule allows. Even down here in Texas, the ability to make Vitamin D3 from sun is greatly reduced in the wintertime.

Q. What about getting sunshine on the skin in the wintertime?

WWJ. The fat-soluble vitamins are squirreled away in the body for winter, but if the person did not store enough, there won’t be enough; and low Vitamin D3 in the winter is the perfect recipe for catching colds and flu.

The issue with winter is that the sun’s rays are more slanted and our bodies do not generate Vitamin D from sunlight so well in the winter, if at all. And it’s too cold to wear a bikini or speedo in Bismarck in January. Another reason why savvy people take a good vitamin D supplement in winter – and that’s actually better flu prevention than the flu shot for many reasons.

Q. Thanks for the historic perspective. Now, what makes a good Vitamin D formula? How do we “do it right?”

WWJ. In Clinical Nutrition, we know that all the fat-soluble vitamins— A, D, E, F, and K – work together as a team that in the body, they function best within certain ratios. So here’s the problem with supplementing Vitamin D3 by itself. It creates a “relative deficiency” in Vitamin K2. Simply put, Vitamin D3 mobilizes calcium, but it’s vitamin K2 that takes it to the bone matrix for strength and storage. (Vitamin K1 supports blood clotting.) Without a balancing Vitamin K2, a protein called osteocalcin fails to activate and transport calcium to the bones. Thus the calcium can build up in the soft tissues (breasts, thyroid, brain), arteries (atherosclerosis), and heart; and interfere with health.

All too often people tell me, “My functional medicine doctor put me on 5000 iu of Vitamin D3 per day.” I’ll ask, “What about the Vitamin K2 that’s essential to prevent damage to your heart and arteries?” The person replies, “Oh, I’m not taking any Vitamin K2.” Not good!

Then I’ll ask, “Are you taking magnesium?” Why? Because increasing Vitamin D3 also increases the need for magnesium which is used in Vitamin D3 metabolic processes. All too often the answer is, “No.” So magnesium already in pandemic deficiency, the supplemental Vitamin D3 creates a further deficiency by demanding and using more of the limited supply. This can result in muscle cramps and heart rhythm concerns as well as mitochondrial energy production problems.

Further, studies show that if a person is deficient in Vitamin D3, that the inclusion of magnesium with Vitamin D3/K2 supplementation will hasten remediation of the deficiency over just taking vitamin D3 alone. Because magnesium works to balance calcium, people who are deficient in Magnesium are more prone to depositing Calcium in the arteries. Increase the D3 via supplementation with Vitamin K2 and magnesium and all is well, but without those synergists, you can see where there’s a double or triple whammy where errant supplementation of Vitamin D3 by itself can create problems.

Q. What about Vitamin D toxicity?

WWJ: All fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the body, especially the liver. If too much is taken supplementally, it can reach a “too much” or toxic level. Not good!

Vitamin A was one of the first vitamins cited for toxicity concerns, but the toxicity levels were obtained with synthetic Vitamin A which is not the same as the natural Vitamin A. People are documented thriving on eating polar bear liver and getting doses of 200,000 iu of natural vitamin A in a meal, but if taking that amount via a synthetic supplement, it would be quite toxic. Just think of the Rx Retin-A side effects (liver damage) caused by prescriptive synthetic Vitamin A. This would not have happened if natural Vitamin A were employed.

Vitamin D also has a toxicity level—largely because too much will calcify tissues and can cause death. In fact, there is a super-killer rat poison that is nothing more than simple Vitamin D for that reason. But, no worries. Please understand, a person would have to take a ginormous amounts of Vitamin D by itself to reach toxicity and some 50% of the population is deficient, so regarding taking supplemental Vitamin D, a person would have to eat the entire bottle every day to get to that amount. But still, some people are indeed taking huge amounts, e.g. sometimes doctors recommend 50,000 iu in a “loading dose” and use high amounts to manipulate blood test results. Or they take 5000 iu/day every day for a long time.

Q. What is too much Vitamin D?

WWJ. Generally it’s a blood level of 100 ng/ml or higher. Because there is a toxicity issue, the responsible position is to test your blood levels.

I do believe that people need to supplement with Vitamin D3. Actually, I’m certainly on the supplemental Vitamin D3+synergists bandwagon. We’re just not getting enough sunshine on our skin and the body’s demand for Vitamin D3 is so critically important. A “naturalist” person can get free Vitamin D3 from the sun by exposure of 30% of the skin surface to 15 minutes of gentle morning sun, and a wholesome diet provides the other vitamins and minerals to make sunshine-D work just fine.

But most people need to supplement and not live in deficiency which is tantamount to being prone to
getting cancer, osteoporosis, chronic fatigue, mental decline, etc. Here’s some key reasons it’s important
with the right kind of Vitamin D supplement:

  • Pandemic deficiencies exist throughout the world
  • The toxic environment increases the need to support the body’s innate anti-DNA-damage faculties. Supplementation.
  • People do not get enough from dietary sources.
  • People do not get enough safe sunshine on their skin.
  • Vitamin D supports normal immune system activities.
  • Vitamin D is, imho, more effective than a toxic, short-sighted flu shot for preventing colds and flu.

Q. Are their other considerations regarding Vitamin D3 supplementation?

WWJ: So we mentioned Vitamin A. It’s also important to supplement Vitamin A if you are taking Vitamin D3. In fact, Vitamin A helps prevent Vitamin D toxicity! And in reciprocity, Vitamin D helps prevent Vitamin A toxicity. Further, Vitamin A plays an important role in preventing calcium from building up in the soft tissues. So this drives home the point that all the fatsoluble vitamins work together. They really should not be fractioned out in supplements, but work synergistically together. Balance in all things!

Q. Now for the simple solution, please.

WWJ: First, test yourself! Find out if your Vitamin D3 is less or more than optimal. This is best done by a simple do-it-yourself at home blood spot test for 25 hydroxy vitamin D. That’s the best test. Knowing your blood level is important for determining the optimal daily dose.

Q. Thanks so much for sharing the reasons behind what you do. It just makes sense to do it right. Any other thoughts?

WWJ: Hummm. Think I’m going to go take my daily one capsule right now. Best wishes in your natural health endeavors!

Amy’s Corner: Fermented Cranberry Apple Relish

Ingredients:

  • Cranberries, roughly chopped*: 1 lb.
  • Apples, finely chopped: 10 oz. (approx. 2 each)
  • Orange, juiced & zested: 1 ea.
  • Water Kefir*: ½ C.
  • Raw Honey: ⅓ C.
  • Cinnamon: 1 Tbl.
  • Ginger, julienned: 1” piece
  • Sea salt: ½ tsp.

*Chop cranberries by pulsing in blender or food processor

**Whey may be substituted for water kefir

Procedure:

  1. Place all ingredients into a large non-metal mixing bowl and mix to combine completely.
  2. Once all ingredients have been combined, pack tightly into a mason jar or crock, being sure to completely submerge the mixture under the liquid.
  3. Cover loosely and allow to sit at room temperature for at least 3 days before refrigerating.  

Amy’s Corner: Sourdough Spelt Crackers

Dough 

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ C. Spelt Flour
  • 1 C. Starter (fed within 24 hours)
  • 1-2 Tbl. Honey, to taste
  • 1 tsp. Sea salt
  • ½ tsp. Baking soda
  • ½ tsp. Baking powder
  • 4 Tbl. Butter, cold

Procedure:

  1. Stir together the flour, starter, honey, salt, baking soda, & baking powder in a mixing bowl.  I find this easiest to do with your hands.
  2. Add the butter to the dough & cut in the butter with your fingers until small pieces (approximately ½”) of butter are still visible in the dough.
  3. Cover the dough & allow it to rest for at least 6 hours, but no more than 12.  More rest time = a more sour cracker.

Folding

Ingredients:

  • 1 portion rested cracker dough
  • 4 Tbl. butter, melted

Procedure:

  1. Divide the dough into two portions.
  2. Set one portion aside.
  3. Using either a small amount of flour or a silicone baking sheet, roll the dough out into a rough rectangle, approximately ⅛” thick.
  4. Brush 2 tsp. of butter over the surface of the dough.
  5. Fold the left side of the dough over to the middle of the dough.
  6. Repeat the process with the right side of the dough, folding the dough into thirds.
  7. Place the dough portion into the refrigerator & repeat the process with the °remaining dough portion.
  8. Remove the first dough portion from the refrigerator & roll out to a rough rectangle once more.
  9. Brush 2 tsp. of butter over the dough.
  10. Repeat the folding process once more.
  11. Return the dough to the refrigerator & repeat the process with the remaining dough portion.
  12. Remove the first dough portion from the refrigerator.
  13. Roll the dough out to a rough square, approximately ⅛”-¼” thick.
  14. Brush with 2 tsp of butter.
  15. Cut the dough into squares, approximately 1 ½”x 1 ½” and transfer to a lined baking sheet.  My preferred method to roll & cut directly on a silicone baking sheet so there’s no need to transfer.
  16. Repeat with the remaining dough portion.
  17. Place into a 375° and bake for 8-10 minutes, or until very lightly browned.
  18. Allow to cool to room temperature before storing.

Note: This recipe is very versatile & can be easily adapted.  Feel free to add herbs, spices &/or cheese, or different flours.  

Amy’s Corner: Kefir Cheesecake

kefircheesecakeIngredients:

  • Dates: 1 cup
  • Soaked Walnuts: 1 cup
  • Kefir Cheese: 1 lb.
  • Heavy Cream: 1 cup
  • Sugar: ¾ cup
  • Gelatin: 1 ½ tsp.
  • Vanilla Extract: 1 tsp.
  • Sea Salt: ½ tsp.

Procedure:

  1. Soak the dates in warm water for 10 minutes to soften.
  2. Place approximately ¼ C. of the cream into a small saucepan and sprinkle the gelatin evenly over the cream and set aside while gelatin softens.
  3. Place the remaining cream and vanilla into a mixing bowl and whip until stiff.
  4. Transfer the whipped cream to a smaller bowl and refrigerate until needed.  Set aside the mixing bowl for use later in the recipe.
  5. Strain the dates and place into a food processor with the walnuts.
  6. Process until relatively smooth and evenly combined.
  7. Using wet hands, press the crust into the bottom of an 8” cake or springform pan. Set aside.
  8. Place the cream/gelatin mixture over low heat.  
  9. Cook, stirring constantly, until the gelatin has completely melted.
  10. Set mixture aside momentarily.
  11. Rinse out the food processor and replace on base.
  12. Add the kefir cheese, sugar and salt to the processor and blend until smooth.
  13. Add the cream/gelatin mixture to the processor bowl and blend completely into the kefir cheese/sugar mixture.
  14. Once combined, transfer the mixture to the mixing bowl.
  15. Working quickly, fold the whipped cream into the kefir cheese mixture until completely combined.
  16. Pour the mixture over the crust
  17. Refrigerate at least 6 hours before serving.

Amy’s Corner: Mexican Wedding Cookies

Yield: 2 ½ dozen

mexican-wedding-cookiesIngredients:

Soaked Walnuts or Pecans: ½ C. 
Cultured Butter: 1 C. + 2 Tbl.
Powdered Sugar: 2 C.
Vanilla Extract: 1 tsp.
Sea Salt: ½ tsp.
Sprouted Flour: 1 ¾ C.

Procedure:

  1. Place 4 Tbl. of butter in a small saucepot and place over medium heat.
  2. Cook the butter until the milk solids become a light brown and the butter smells nutty.
  3. Remove from the heat and set aside.  Cool to room temperature before using.
  4. Place the nuts and 1 C. of powdered sugar into a food processor fitted with a blade attachment.
  5. Pulse the mixture until the nuts form small pieces.
  6. Place the butter (both melted & unmelted), salt and vanilla into the processor and blend until the mixture lightens in color and is completely blended.
  7. Add the flour to the processor and pulse to combine.
  8. Scrape the dough into a bowl and cover.
  9. Refrigerate a minimum of 1 hour before proceeding.  At this point, the dough can be refrigerated for 3 days, or frozen for 1 month if tightly wrapped.
  10. Once chilled portion the dough into roughly 1 Tbl. portions and roll each portion into a ball.
  11. Place onto an ungreased cookie sheet, allowing at least 1” space between.
  12. Place into a preheated 350° oven and bake for 15-18 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies just begin to brown.
  13. Remove from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack.
  14. Allow the cookies to cool for 2-3 minutes.
  15. After cooling, sprinkle the remaining 1 C. of powdered sugar over the cookies to taste.  You may not use all of the sugar.

How to Avoid the “Holiday Blues” in 3 Simple Steps

It seems strange that so many people feel depressed during the holidays, when it’s a time is a time when we’re supposed to feel joyful. The experience of feeling down during the holidays is real for so many, however. So what can you do to avoid the “holiday blues” this coming season?

If you want to know how to beat depression this holiday season, try these 3 simple steps:

1. Stop comparing yourself to others

I have found that holiday time, when we have gatherings with friends and family, can stir up feeling of envy and even jealousy for others’ circumstances. We look at their outsides and compare them with our insides. And of course, we come up short. They always seem to have it better than we do…more money, better clothes, perfect spouse. This kind of comparing can cause our mood to spiral down faster than anything. All of a sudden there’s nothing good about our lives! We forget our blessings and focus on what’s wrong. You don’t know how others are feeling on the inside. When we compare we forget that numerous people are miserable in spite of having much material success.

The only way out of this comparing trap is to stop comparing and start counting your blessings. What we focus on grows; so if you focus on what you don’t have, you will notice even more of what you lack. If you focus on your good (which is no doubt plenty) an awareness of all that is good will grow. Watch your thoughts and strive to keep them positive and grateful.

2. Don’t isolate

Isolation is an easy trap, especially if we live alone. Resist the seductive siren song of that voice inside that says, “I’d rather be alone”. It may feel cozy and cushy to sit at home with your favorite food and drink and think you’re having fun…but isolation is sneaky. Before long it has moved in and become your constant companion, making you depressed and filled with self-pity. Make it a point to make dates with friends and to get out and do things in the community. The best thing you can do at holiday time is to try and be helpful to those less fortunate or who can’t get out and do things, like the elderly and infirmed. Push yourself to get busy and active in being helpful to others so you won’t have time to isolate.

When you focus on activities that nourish your soul, like going for a walk with a good friend, or calling family members that might be feeling lonely or disconnected, you will feel better and more alive. You will recognize that you have an important purpose in this world…to bring light and comfort to others.

3. Lower your expectations

I find that the higher my expectations are for having a “good time”, the less fun I have. This is especially true at New Year’s Eve. In fact, I purposely make very low-key plans for this holiday, just so I don’t feel pressure to have loads of fun. I go to a movie with a few friends and call it a night, maybe watching the ball drop in Times Square. That’s it. So if I have a nice night, it’s a bonus, not something I’ve felt pressure to achieve. Our thoughts create our reality, so treat holidays like any other day and allow the day to unfold, rather than falling into the trap of unrealistic expectations.

Feeling turbulent emotions during the holidays can happen to any of us. What you do about it will make all the difference. Positive action is the best antidote for the holiday blues, so get started on these suggestions today.

Tricia NelsonTricia Nelson is the host of the Heal Your Hunger podcast and founder of Heal Your Hunger Inc., which helps people get to the heart of why they overeat and how to stop. Get more of Tricia’s free holiday tips at www.thriveintheholidays.com