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Home > Holiday Travel Tips

Dave Foreman

Holiday Travel Tips

by Dave Foreman
Volume 7, Issue 4
- Repair And Recovery
- Homeopathy May Be The Relief You Are Looking For
- Antioxidants For Serious Health Concerns
- Acne (And Other Acne Related Skin Issues)
- Arrhythmias
- Using Tonics To Improve Your Health
- Ask The Herbal Pharmacist
- Herbal Pharmacist Health Update
- Smart Weight Loss Options
- Allergy Relief Alternatives
- Focus: Women's Health
- Menopause Symptom Relief
- Focus: Men's Healths
- Ask The Herbal Pharmacist
- Antioxidants for Blood Sugar Control
- Bone Health 101
- The Basics for Healthy Eyes
- Uterine Fibroids (revisited)
- Wait Before You Cut!

- Holiday Travel Tips
- Time for a Tune Up
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Energy: Who needs more?
- PCOS-Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
- Heavy Legs
- Stay Hydrated this Summer
- Lower Back Problems-Sciatica
- Antioxidants for Cardiovascular Health
- Prostate Health: not just an old manís concern
- Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome
- Urinary Tract Infections
- Fats? Good for you?
- Prostatitis
- Superfoods
- Timing your Training Supplements
- Juice Up Your Life with Superjuices
- Infant Corner-Homeopathy
- Foundational Health
- Top Toxins
- Fall Cleansing
- Heart Health
- Protein Recovery and Repair
- High Blood Pressure
- Tart Cherries
- Infant Corner: DHA
- Healthy Digestion: Is it possible?
- Holiday Gift Ideas
- Herbal Tea
- Tired, moody, canít sleep? It might be STRESS.
- Infant Corner: Healthy Digestion
- Healthy Aging
- Breast Cancer
- Get a Jump on the Winter Cold and Flu Season
- Children's Essentials: No-Guilt Popsicles
- Infant Corner: Breastfeeding - Energize Yourself
- Is Beauty Only Skin Deep?
- Hot Health Tip: Swimmer's Ear
- Infant Corner: Teething
- Understanding Homeopathy
- Green Foods Supplements
- Amino Acids
- Dry Eyes
- Infant Corner: Diaper Rash
- Blood Sugar Control
- The Herbal Pharmacist Consultation:Blood Sugar Concerns & More
- Sciatic Issues?
- Separating Myths From The Facts About Probiotics
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Infant Corner: Cradle Cap
- Swine Flu and Flu Season Worries:
- The Herbal Pharmacist Consultation:Weight Loss
- Quick Tips For Hypertension
- New Year's Resolutions
- A Natural Approach to Ear Infections
- Unraveling The Vitamin D Story
- Infant Corner: Prenatal Care
- Protein-Hype Or Hope
- Drug-Nutrient Interactions
- PMS-Something New
- Guide To Designing Your Supplement Regimen
- Why Can't I Sleep?
- Infant Corner: Developmental Support
- Hints for a Clearer Complexion
- Dental Tips
- Infant Corner
- Breast Cancer
- Healthy Aging
- Infant health corner
- Immune Support
- Secrets of Healthy Fats Revealed
- 4 Steps to Building a Healthy You–Step 4
- Chia seeds part II
- Healthy fats revisited
- Prostate health
- Infant health corner
- Fish oil & coq10
- 4 Steps to Building a Healthy You–Step 3
- Quick Tips for Women
- Bone Health
- Skin Health
- Quick Tips for Men
- Quick Fix For Allergy Sufferers
- 4 Steps to Building a Healthy You–Step 2
- Beauty Sleep
- Eye Health
- Weight Loss
- 4 Steps to Building a Healthy You
- Holiday Digestion
- Winter Dry Skin Tips
- Alzheimer's Disease
- TMJ Syndrome
- Breast Cancer Facts
- Bone Health
- Healthy Aging
- Children's Supplements
- Chia Seed the new superfood
- Understanding Chromium
- Water perhaps the most critical nutrient
- Stress! Tips to relax
- Allergy Tips
- There's A New CoQ10 In Town
- Tired? Quick tips for getting your energy level up
- Fats: Good For You?
- Flu Season
- Go Away Aches & Pains
- Oh!!My Aching Back
- Ear Infections
- How Sporty Are You
- No Bones About It
- Nattokinase
- Diabetic Retinopathy
- Fiber
- Skin Cancer
- Sleep Problems
- Specific Herbs For Men
- Cleansing
- Nails
- Probiotics
- Specific Herbs for Women
- Urinary Tract Infections
- Your Breath Stinks
- Blood Pressure
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome(CFS)
- Colorectal Cancer
- Uterine Fibroid
- The Eyes Have It
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
-Putting Out the Fire
- Solving America's Energy Crisis
- Natural Gum Care
- Jazz Up Your Life with Juice
- Natural Relief for SAD
- Immunity Know-How
- Stop Smoking!!
- Let's Talk About Irregularity
- Free Radicals
- Asthma
- Memory Problems
- L-Carnitine
- Men's Health
- Women's Health
- The Four Pillars of Great Health
- Blood Sugar Control
- Probiotics
- Supplement Interactions
- Are You Consumer Smart?
- Digestive Blues
- Taking Control of Stress
- Heart Health
- Pycnogenol®
- Seasonal Affective Disorder
- Greens
- Is Beauty Only Skin Deep?
- Happy (and Healthy) Trails to You!

Dave Foreman, RPh, ND is a pharmacist, Naturopathic Doctor, author, television commentator, radio host and practitioner of natural living and holistic approaches to better health. His weekly radio program is broadcast throughout North America. Dave is currently a contributing columnist for Pharmacy Today magazine and several other natural health publications.

Even with most of us suffering from the economic woes, many of us are hitting the road at some point in the next few months. I haven't written an article on travel so decided to put something together in a few short helpful tips. I am a seasoned traveler (over 130 nights in hotels this year) with some great personal suggestions to share on making your travel more peaceful and healthy. The thought for this article came from a gentleman I met recently in an airport who stated that every time he goes on a trip, he comes home sick. So hopefully I can provide some information on how to avoid such incidents when traveling.

Motion Sickness

Unfortunately motion sickness plagues many travelers - both young and old. Even though most of us probably think that motion sickness only affects kids, many seasoned, traveling adults suffer from this miserable condition. It isn't just limited to a rocking boat or a bumpy plane ride. Any form of movement can trigger motion sickness.

The condition of motion sickness occurs when the parts of the body (ex. eyes and ears) that sense motion send messages to the brain that interferes with the body's sense of equilibrium. It is as if your eyes see that you're moving, but other parts of your body instinctively feel that the body is stationary. This confusion of the senses is what leads to motion sickness. For most sufferers, a simple trip to the pharmacy would provide a solution, however not without less-than-desirable side effects such as drowsiness, blurred vision and dry mouth. These are the leading side effects of the medications most often used to treat motion sickness and let's face it, being drowsy doesn't mix well with driving a car or trying to enjoy your vacation.

Luckily, there is a great, natural solution for motion sickness - Ginger root. This is the only natural solution with the science to back it up. In fact, studies comparing Ginger's effectiveness to the drug dimenhydrinate-(a popular OTC) show it to be even more effective in preventing motion sickness. In addition, tests conducted on sailors revealed that Ginger was successful in reducing the severity of their seasickness. I recommend people begin using ginger root powder (about 1 gram per serving) 2-4 hours prior to their sea travel and continue the use every 3-4 hours during their excursion.


It is estimated that it takes your body one day to adjust for every hour of time zones you cross. If you fly from coast to coast that means it may take you 3 days to adjust. By then, you will probably be preparing to come back home and go through the adjustment all over again. Here are some quick tips for dealing with jetlag:

  1. Use Melatonin. Taking 1-3mg of melatonin 30 minutes prior to bedtime will help reset your clock much faster. The Sublingual (dissolved under the tongue) tablets appear to work better than tablets and capsules. Your dose can vary depending on your specific needs. Melatonin use should start 3-5 days prior to your trip and continue for the same number of days upon your return.
  2. Change your schedule prior to leaving: Go to bed later and wake up later prior to heading west and reverse the process for heading east.
  3. Avoid caffeine: Caffeine consumption might be a quick fix but will backfire in the long run.
  4. Get moving: Make sure you get some physical activity the first day or two of travel. This may be all you need to avoid a problem with jetlag.

Puffy Feet and Lower Legs

Suffering from "heavy" legs after flying, driving or sitting for extended periods of time can easily be avoided in most cases by using supplements. Another term for this condition is Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI) or poor return of blood from feet and legs back to the heart. CVI may occur following excessive clotting and inflammation of the leg veins-also known as deep vein thrombosis. CVI can also happen because of the failure of the valves in leg veins to hold blood against gravity. The end result of this is swollen legs. Using a supplement such as Pycnogenol® seems to significantly reduce symptoms of leg pain and heaviness, and edema in people with this condition. It can take up to 12 weeks for results to be realized and the dose used in a study published in Phytomedicine 2000 Oct; 7(5): 383-8,) utilized 100mg three times daily. In some cases, I believe you can substitute grape seed extract at the same dose even though I don't have clinical evidence to support my theory.

Weight Loss On The Road

Here are some quick tips to lose weight on the road (Herbal Pharmacist Tested):

  • Order a salad and an appetizer or just 2 appetizers instead of a full meal.
  • Order salad dressings and sauces "on the side" instead of already mixed in.
  • Increase your activity so you burn more calories than you consume (30 minutes of brisk walking each day).
  • Eliminate refined foods (bread, sugar, pasta, etc.) from your meals.
  • Consume at least 7-9 servings of veggies and fruits per day.
  • If you are hungry between meals - eat nuts, seeds and dried fruits (unsweetened).
  • Stay away from snack machines and high calorie drinks.
  • Avoid fried foods completely
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Supplements help too: Phase 2, Green Tea, Tonalin CLA, and Fiber supplements all help to control different aspects of maintaining your weight while traveling and not eating properly and getting the activity you are accustomed to at home.

Immune Health

Supplements: Using certain supplements can give your immune system the added support it needs to fend off foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses. The key word is "support". There are two basic ways to address your immune system: Stimulate and Support.

Supplements that stimulate the immune system are for short term use (a few weeks) and will cause an increase in production and activity of certain immune cells. Examples would be Echinacea, Elderberry and Vitamin C (higher doses). These types of supplements would be used at the first onset of symptoms and really provide no benefit for "preventing" problems this season.

Support supplements are slower acting; take at least 3 days to start working and can be used for extended periods of time (months). These supplements provide key nutrients or components to make sure your immune system is functioning optimally. I prefer to use combination formulas to achieve this. Combination formulas will address the multiple facets of your immune system, giving you the broadest approach possible to preventing immune challenges. My preferred formula is: Advanced Immune Support. Look for formulas that contain AHCC, Maitake, Reishi, Chaga, etc. to get things going. Start using these supplements now and you can help support your immune system during the entire cold and flu season, not just for the holidays.

Diet and Activity also play important roles in your long-term immune health. Eating more whole foods (fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, etc.) and consuming little to no refined foods (white foods-rice, breads, pasta, sugar, honey, etc.) will have a profoundly beneficial impact on your immune system. Refined foods decrease the effectiveness of certain immune cells and in some cases can deactivate your immune function by 50 percent. Why do you think our children get sick after birthday parties, holidays, Halloween, etc.? Increasing your activity (exercise) has shown to notably improve your immune shield. 30-45 minutes of brisk walking 5-7 days per week will add another significant component to your winter immune support.

Combining approaches is the key to staying healthy throughout the cold weather months. Proper diet, exercise and supplements are good individually but combining all three together will assure that you're doing everything you can to avoid being sick this cold and flu season.

Digestive Issues

I find three basic areas of concern when it comes to digestive issues that may occur when we travel: Constipation, Diarrhea and Indigestion. Here are my simple approaches to all three conditions:

Constipation can easily be avoided by utilizing a good probiotic; taking 250-500mg of magnesium at bedtime. Also using a fiber supplement every morning can be very effective. You may need to use all three and add in plenty of water to keep things moving.

Diarrhea is probably the most feared of these three digestive issues. A case of diarrhea can destroy a vacation. The best way to prevent this from happening is to take a good balanced probiotic daily. If you aren't taking one now, then start using one at least 1 week prior to your travels and continue for at least a week after you return home. I feel you should actually always use a probiotic regardless of travel, but for those who don't follow this philosophy, you definitely need to use one while traveling.

Indigestion can easily occur even in those (like me) who normally have no indigestion problems. I would make sure you are taking a good blended digestive enzyme with each meal and snack. Traveling with chewable DGL is another good idea. This is the fast way to eliminate discomfort within 15-30 minutes and be used as a great preventative if used 30 minutes prior to meals and at bedtime.

Holiday Gift Ideas

With the gift giving season fast approaching I came up with some ideas to help with you this year. Personally I always prefer to buy something thoughtful, useful and something that a person might not already have. If you are like me, you might not have thought about your local Vitamin Shoppe as a place to do your holiday shopping, but check out some of these ideas and perhaps think again:

Green Living Products: The range of products available in this area has grown significantly in the past year or two. My daughters LOVE their water bottles for school and my wife loves the tote bags for quick trips to the grocery store. This is a great area to explore the next time you are in the store.

Fitness/Sports products: Let's not forget about those New Year's resolutions. The Vitamin Shoppe has a great selection of products that can help keep us on track:

  • Mixers for powdered supplements
  • Hand Grips
  • Training Gloves
  • Lifting Straps
  • Resistance Cables
  • Jump Rope

And there's more...

Teas: Some of the new teas available have interesting flavors and a range of multiple uses. The packaging has become elegant and would be a great treat for anyone interested in improving their health.

Vitamin Bundles: Put together a group of products that are appropriate for your friend or loved one. Example- Men 50+ prostate support supplement, antioxidant blend, whole food multi for man over 50. This may sound too basic, but I know I would appreciate this type of thoughtful gift. Or, your friend with arthritis: Omega-3, Zyflamend and a good glucosamine joint formula.

Stocking Stuffers: This one is always fun. Water bottles, trial size items, lip balms, hand sanitizers, etc.

Body Care and Pampering: Believe it or not, many men as well as women love bath salts, bubble bath, massage oils, body scrubs (a favorite of mine), soaps, lotions and lip balms. There's even a selection of products for children and family pets.

Finally, for the hard-to-please shopper, how about a Vitamin Shoppe gift card?

Whatever you give or receive this holiday season, remember to keep health and wellness on your agenda all year round.

I wish you and your family the best of Holiday Seasons!

Abnormal Blood Fats (Cholesterol)

I decided to include an excerpt from my book "4 Pillars of Health: Heart Disease" in this edition of my newsletter. I do not think that cholesterol is evil, but for many of us it can be bad depending on other risk factors and poor lifestyle choices. The following are some of the supplements I would be looking into using if I had concerns with elevated cholesterol. These are in no particular order. I also included another spin I have on "treating" high cholesterol over time. In most cases, the supplements used are not the final answer to truly ridding your body of the problem. The section below these supplements will give you some insight into how I would treat cholesterol levels.


Sytrinol is an amazing combination of technology and ingredients that deliver a 1-2-3 punch to your heart health program. I have become so fond of Sytrinol, that I have incorporated its use into my everyday supplement program as part of my heart health prevention program. I love using supplements that give me more bang for my buck. If I have heart health concerns, I want something that will reduce the BAD and increase the GOOD. In this case, studies have shown that Sytrinol will reduce overall Cholesterol, reduce LDLs (bad), reduce Triglycerides (bad) and increase HDLs (good). On top of all this, Sytrinol is a great heart health antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory properties. Why are these last two so important? We also know that free radical damage and inflammation are two key contributors to increasing your risk of Heart Disease. If I want to truly take my heart health by the horns, then adding Sytrinol to my supplement program is critical. Dosing is 150mg two times daily. I am unaware of any side effects or precautions.


Before I go any further, let me make it perfectly clear that I am NOT speaking of "Flush Free" niacin aka IHN, or Inositol Hexaniacinate. Too many consumers are fooled into buying this product because it is flush free and has the word niacin in it. This ingredient has little to NO impact on lowering your cholesterol.

If you truly want the benefits of niacin for controlling your cholesterol levels, buy the real deal. More specifically, time released (delayed release) niacin can have similar effects on your cholesterol to Sytrinol. Niacin can lower total cholesterol, lower LDL and Triglycerides and raise HDL. Niacin, also known as Vitamin B-3, is very effective at supporting healthy circulation too. Niacin can also trigger your blood vessels to dilate and therefore cause a temporary decrease in blood pressure. This vasodilating effect causes flushing which is the main concern many have with using niacin. The other potential pitfall for niacin is that in delayed release form, it can have a negative impact on your liver. Liver issues are far less likely (in my opinion) to happen with niacin than those associated with prescription medication usage, but even so, getting your liver blood work done every 12 weeks or so is suggested.


Chromium is another one of those shining stars when it comes to cholesterol control. It can lower total cholesterol and LDLs while raising HDLs. I often have people consume 200mcg three times daily with a meal or large (healthy) snack.

Carnipure (L-carnitine)

Supplementing with 500mg two times daily will help lower total cholesterol levels while having a mild effect on raising HDL.

Beta-Glucan from Oats

You could choose to eat oats or use an oat bran tablet to get the results you need here. The key thing to focus on is that your beta-glucan needs to come from oats and not other sources (yeast, mushrooms, etc.). There are different forms of beta-glucan in nature, and the one that works for lowering cholesterol is the one from oats.


Glucomannan is another one of those incredible fibers that helps with multiple aspects of cholesterol health. It lowers LDL, Triglycerides and increases HDL. Dosing ranges from 4 grams and up per day.

Miscellaneous other supplements to look into for cholesterol health support:

Green Tea, Garlic, Policosanol, Lecithin, Beta-sitosterol, and Tocotrienols are all beneficial to a cholesterol program.

In some cases, combining ingredients may be needed to achieve your cholesterol goals' &emdash; keeping in mind that cholesterol is not always the evil culprit that modern medicine wants you to believe it is. If I wanted to take an active role in managing my cholesterol, I would use a blend of Sytrinol, Omega-3s (from fish), Carnipure and Chromium. If I need to raise the bar a little, adding time-released niacin would be next.

Added approach: My favorite way to manage cholesterol is to support the body and its production of cholesterol. Your liver is the main area where cholesterol manufacturing occurs. Your adrenal glands, intestines and reproductive organs also contribute to the production of cholesterol. To assist in maintaining or achieving health cholesterol balance in the body, I would recommend support for the Liver. How? Look into this 3 step protocol.

Step 1 is to use a 4 week whole body cleanse. Cleanses such as CleanseSmart, Perfect Cleanse, etc. all fall into this category. If you can't find these, ask for some help at your local Vitamin Shoppe. Have them guide you to a cleanse that will work on the main systems of your body (blood, bowel, liver, kidneys, skin, lungs, etc.). For those of you who want to go slower, use the tea Flor*Essence for 3 to 6 months while doing step 2 and 3 that follow.

Step 2 is to use a liver cleanse for 2 to 4 weeks (depending on what you purchase). I have always used Liver Cleanse from Enzymatic Therapy which is a 14 day cleanse. In the meantime, make sure you are avoiding things that will negatively impact your liver such as; caffeine, medications (consult your health care provider to see about removal), non-organic foods and beverages and clean up your diet as per my previous suggestions in the diet section.

Step 3 involves using bitter herbs that support your liver health. I use a supplement called Liver Blend SP-13 by Solaray. There are other formulations that fall into this category, but for the price, I love this product. Don't have a fit if you can't find it, you can also use herbs (not just one) like dandelion, milk thistle, artichoke, burdock, yellow dock, lecithin and green tea. Additionally, supplements such as Alpha Lipoic Acid may be helpful. Step 3 lasts anywhere from 3 to 6 months in duration. A lot of this will depend on you and your compliance in following my 4 Pillars of Health and avoiding things that make your liver work overtime (drugs, alcohol, stress, etc.)

In many cases, you are at a healthy state in 6 months using this 3-step protocol. Often times, no additional supplements are needed to maintain your cholesterol (until you cheat again that is).e

Allergies and Sensitivities:

For years now I have been promoting the idea that we all should be more focused on finding the root causes of our illnesses rather than just "treating" the symptoms. When we get sick, there could be any number of reasons for our poor health conditions but to truly understand what is occurring we should make an effort to take a closer look at our health challenges. For example, if you have high blood pressure, too much sodium (salt) in your diet could be the culprit.

If I went to my primary doctor (I don't have one so just play along) and found out that I had high blood pressure today, they might put me on one of many different drugs that "treat" hypertension but most likely the prescribed medication would only mask the problem. In most cases, I agree with medicating someone with moderate to high blood pressure but I strongly feel this should be done in accordance with researching the medical history and lifestyle habits of the client in question.

When it comes to monitoring our personal health, there are some basic questions we can ask ourselves such as: Am I overweight? Am I under a lot of stress? Do I eat too many high sodium foods? etc. To answer these questions, health care professionals can make an assessment of a patient's condition by conducting a series of tests. Through such tests they are able to rule out many things until they have found what they believe to be the cause or the causes of the problem. There are times when more than one health concern may be affecting you at once. Let's suppose a person was overweight and stressed out, they would need to address both concerns before their blood pressure could be expected to decrease. I think you get my point.

Two of the most overlooked causes (roots) of our health issues are allergies and sensitivities. Additional causes are arthritis (mostly rheumatoid), asthma, ADD, ADHD, bladder infections, yeast infections, celiac disease, colic, Crohn's disease, canker sores, ear infections, diarrhea, depression, eczema, hay fever, obesity, hypoglycemia, glaucoma, gallbladder, hives, IBS, psoriasis, migraines, ulcers, sinus issues, headaches, high blood pressure and infections.

Depression, high blood pressure, blood sugar and even skin problems could all be caused by your body being hypersensitive to something in your diet or environment. All too often people focus on allergy testing but they should also test for sensitivities. The usual skin test performed by allergists may not be enough to bring resolve.

I always recommend ELISA as the most comprehensive and reliable test available. ELISA is an abbreviation for "Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay." This test is used to detect substances in the blood that may trigger an immune system response (allergic response). These substances are primarily proteins such as hormones, bacterial antigens and antibodies. Proteins can be found in foods, pollen, viruses, bacteria and many other sources. If a "foreign protein" enters the body, the immune system is responsible for identifying it and destroying it. The ELISA test will identify what proteins you are sensitive to. Once you have this information, you can make attempts to eliminate these from your daily routine. Incidentally, the common food groups that people tend to have the most issues of sensitivities to are dairy, corn, wheat and eggs.

I have seen so many people make amazing health changes just from getting tested and then eliminating any and all offending foods and environmental toxins. Personally, I am highly sensitive to gluten (found in wheat, barley and rye containing foods and foods extracted from them). My body may react differently than yours in response to this food protein. In my case, if I were to consume gluten, my blood pressure and heart rate would go up within 30 minutes. I might also suffer from headaches, severe fatigue and feel "hung-over" in the morning. Some people may develop skin irritations or nervous system conditions from consuming gluten. The point is we all can have very different reactions to our food sensitivities.

What causes hypersensitivity?

This is the million-dollar question and it can be answered with more than one answer including leaky gut syndrome, antibiotic use, digestive disorders, drug use (prescription, OTC and illegal), non-organic food consumption, unpurified drinking water, IBS, constipation and chronic diarrhea. This list allows us to begin treating the possible root of our hypertension illness.

If you notice, there is a root attached to our root. Let me explain. The high blood pressure as stated above was caused by my own specific hypersensitivities to gluten intolerance. In order for me to remedy this issue I would need to address the smallest root (root hair) first and work my way back up to the plant. In my case, I choose to avoid gluten completely. That includes bread and soups containing MSG. I also have the option of using a digestive enzyme product designed to break down the gluten protein.

One of the more common roots of sensitivities is leaky gut syndrome. To learn more about this condition, read the book Gut Solutions by Brenda Watson. Leaky gut occurs most often in people who have used antibiotics in the past. Non-organic foods or digestive disorders can also be culprits. The way I usually address this "hair-root" is to help heal the digestive lining. I recommend that adults use 10000mg of L-glutamine two times daily and a high potency broad-spectrum probiotic two times daily. There are other supplements that you could add to the mix such as aloe, mullein, slippery elm, etc. Helping your body heal (repairing the hole in your screened window) is a critical part of dealing with sensitivities.

Finally, remember that you need to dig down deep in most cases to find the "hair-root" of your health challenges. Don't focus all of your supplement work on the symptoms of the disease. You may feel better in the short-run, but will still need to take those supplements daily until you "treat" the root issue.

Diverticulitis-Help Is On The Way

I have been putting off writing about this topic for years. I think it is not that "sexy" of a topic nor do I think most people want to discuss it (or read about it). However out of the abundance of questions I received from friends and acquaintances came my decision to break my silence. Before we begin to discuss how to address and eliminate this condition we need to understand what it is. Going back to Herbal Pharmacist® 101 we first need to break the word down. Remember that a word in medicine that ends in "itis" means inflamed or inflammation of that area of the body. I.e. Bronchitis = Bronchial inflammation. In this case we are addressing diverticulum inflammation. What the heck is a diverticulum? According to dictionary.com, diverticulum is describes as "any sac or pouch formed by herniation of the wall of a tubular organ or part, especially the intestines." The part of the body most affected by this herniation is the colon (the lower part of your digestive system). Plainly put, if you had this condition, you would have an inflammation of one or more sacs in your colon caused by some sort of herniation.

What causes diverticulitis?

It usually develops when the pouches sacs/herniations become inflamed or infected. Doctors aren't sure what exactly causes diverticulitis, but I am a firm believer that this condition is caused by a low-fiber diet. Without fiber to add bulk to the stool, the colon has to work harder than normal to push the stool forward. The pressure from this may cause pouches to form weak spots along the colon. A dentist friend of mine once described fiber as "the toothbrush of the colon". Having enough fiber would "scrub" away any debris and eliminate the pockets over time. Our 21st century diet that is full of processed foods and lacking in fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds contributes to the increased number of cases of diverticulitis.


I almost didn't include the list of symptoms because I figured that those who have the condition already know what they are but I think everyone can benefit from this information. Lower belly pain (usually on the lower left side) is the most common symptom, but there are others: Fever, bloating, gas, diarrhea (or constipation), nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite.

How is it treated?

How it gets treated depends on how bad you have this condition. It is always a good idea to consult with your healthcare provider before stepping out into the natural world.

First, slowly increase the amount of fiber in your diet. If your body is used to only 4-10 grams of fiber a day and you decide to jump immediately to my suggested 40 grams per day you might experience discomfort. You didn't develop this condition overnight and you aren't going to get rid of it that way either. I suggest increasing your daily fiber intake by 5 grams per week until you reach the target of 40. Where the fiber comes from is up to you. I prefer to eat my fiber and not use supplements. I eat plenty of nuts, seeds (mostly Chia), fruit, veggies, etc. to get my fiber.

Before anyone has a hissy fit over my nuts and seeds comment (most healthcare providers tell you to avoid them) take note of a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (AMA. 2008;300 (8):907-914.) This study found that eating popcorn, nuts and seeds had no impact on the condition and actually helped to decrease the risk of developing the condition.

Back to fiber: Studies have shown that people who eat a diet high in meat and low in veggies have a significant increased risk of developing diverticulitis. I think we all know what fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds are, but what about the possible additions to your everyday diet that you can pick up at your local Vitamin Shoppe? I have been writing about Chia seeds for 3 or 4 years now. These seeds are truly a super-super food and should be part of everyone's diet (not just someone with diverticulitis). The benefit of chia seeds is that they do not need to be crushed or ground up first. Just pour them on your food and dig in. Another favorite is flaxseed. Flaxseeds are another super food but the downfall of these seeds is that you need to grind them prior to use. They go out the way they go in like corn. You can add flaxseed powder to just about anything you eat. Make it part of your everyday diet and don't look at it like it is another supplement. There are even soluble fiber products available at you local store. Another favorite is Miracle Fiber from The Vitamin Shoppe®. The cool part of this product is it is soluble in water (or other beverages you may choose). The downfall of this product is it is pretty much "just fiber" and will not be a super food for your body. For diverticulitis though, it might be a good way to get things moving again with regards to increasing your fiber intake. Stop by your local store for an abundance of fiber choices (even fiber bars-yummy).

Probiotics: These friendly bacteria play a huge role in the health of someone who has this condition due to an infection. Keeping enough good bacteria in your small and large intestine will help suppress and rid your body of other disease causing (pathogenic) bacteria. No, yogurt isn't going to cut it here. Head out and purchase a good "broad-spectrum" (6-12 strains/types of good bacteria per serving) probiotic. Most people don't realize that acidophilus alone is NOT enough. Some bacteria work in the upper part (small intestine) and others work in the lower part (large intestine/colon) of your digestive tract. Using a blend of bacteria will get you closer to your goal of resolving your painful condition.

Water: In addition to fiber and probiotics, make sure you are drinking plenty of purified water. Tap water contains chemicals that kill bacteria and right now you need to keep all of the good bacteria (friendly bacteria/probiotics) you have. Drink lots of water. Add some lemon juice or other fruit juice (fresh squeezed not packaged) to enhance the taste. You can also use herbal teas to get your water. For now, avoid those with caffeine (black and green tea) as this drug can increase cramping and discomfort.

Herbs: There are some herbs that can be helpful in addition to my suggestions of Fiber, Probiotics and Water. The herbs I suggest are more for symptom relief and not a cure. Herbs such as cramp bark and chamomile can ease the gastric spasm you are having from the inflammation. Herbs such as slippery elm, aloe and mullein will help provide more fiber and help protect the digestive lining if there has been any damage done to it.

Lastly, I would like to address using supplements to help your body fight inflammation (it is an inflammatory condition-right?) Some of my favorites here are turmeric, ginger, Zyflamend, enteric coated fish oil, boswellia, Celadrin and even chamomile. Yes, chamomile might shock most of you but my experience has shown me that it has great anti-inflammatory properties for the digestive tract. You may choose to use all of these suggestions if you are really miserable (keep in mind the Zyflamend has some of these ingredients already in its formulation).

Building Your Child's Supplement Program

As a parent of three children (Adam 15, Amanda 10 and Maddie 7) I understand the everyday challenges and concerns of keeping our children healthy. Let's face it, getting our kids to eat healthy at home is a challenge, but at school and other outside events it is nearly impossible. Our children are in the most important growth phase of their lives and a comprehensive dietary supplement program will be of great benefit to them. Take bone health for example. Your child is building bones up until the age of 18-25 and then stops. An old friend of mine says, "You put bones in the bank in your youth and then try to hang onto what you have the rest of your life."

To address the challenge of getting our children to eat properly I created a children's version of my foundational philosophy. In recent seminars I have restructured the Council for Responsible Nutrition's Dietary Supplement Pyramid. I realize that our children's needs are different than ours so the following is how I would structure a program for our growing children.

Step 1 - Take Care of their Special Needs I start with this being the most important level because I understand that many Americans cannot afford all levels of the pyramid. (As your budget permits-add additional steps). I joke that even though the store is called Vitamin Shoppe, most people don't just go there just for a vitamin. We shop there for our special needs or interests. In children it might be for allergies, ADD, ADHD, depression, immune health or some other health and wellness issue. I recommend you find a product with multiple ingredients for the same challenge since kids usually hate taking "medicine" so the fewer bottles the better.

Step 2 - Omega-3's from Fish Grandma always said, "Eat your fish-it will make you smarter", and this is only one of many reasons I think our children need to get a fish oil supplement each day. Omega-3s benefits for our children are:

  • Brain Development
  • Eye Development
  • Healthy Joints
  • Mental Clarity
  • Heart Health
  • General Health, Growth and Development

As you can clearly see, these are major health benefits for your child. It is imperative that you supplement your child's diet daily with a high quality fish oil product. My favorite is Coromega's Child Brain and Body. First, it is DELICIOUS, sort of like a candy tasting pudding. Second, it is formulated with a higher ratio of DHA to EPA to match that found in breast milk. Third, I repeat, it tastes DELICIOUS. There are also some great tasting liquid products available from numerous manufacturers including Vitamin Shoppe Brand. You can easily mix these liquids into your child's foods, drinks or just have them take them straight. The key here is to keep trying until you figure out which one your child likes.

Step 3 - Build Strong Bones As mentioned above, building strong bones occurs when we are a child and teenager. With the amount of refined foods and lack of calcium-rich foods, it is necessary to give your child a supplement to support their bone health development.

Step 4 - Multivitamin/Mineral - Just as with adults, children need to take a good broad spectrum multivitamin and mineral everyday. Science has shown that prolonged nutrient depletion can lead to more serious health challenges over time. It is difficult to be certain of what nutrients you may be deficient and that is the main reason I recommend that we ALL take at least one nutritional supplement every day.

Many companies make male, female and teen vitamins which is much better than a generic one-size-fits-all product. I have sampled a ton of children's vitamins and it is hit or miss on which one your child will like. I suggest asking a store associate what their most popular selling brand is and start there. If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.

We as parents (or guardians) must lead by example. It is hard for a child to understand why there are different rules for adults so as parents we must make taking supplements an enjoyable experience and part of the family environment. Help your children understand that supplements are not medicine and that they are designed to help them be better, healthier and happier people. If you are challenged giving your children their supplements, I am including my hot health tip from a previous newsletter. Hopefully you will find it helpful.

Remember, our children are the future.

Special note: With regards to the sugar content in children's supplements I have this comment: Sometimes it is more important to get it in your child than worry about the amount of sugar in the supplement. Factor these calories into your child's diet and exercise when considering other food choices too.

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