Donnie Yance Blog Post

St. Francis has been a major influence in my life since I was in my early twenties and searching for Truth. I studied a bit of theology in school, and being brought up as an Italian Roman Catholic, had more questions than answers. I thought, “Either there is a God, our faith should be our guiding force in our lives, and we should serve and love God and others, or we should stop pretending.” It seemed so simple, and so clear.

I looked for Truth in other faiths, but Francis pointed me back to Catholicism. I recall one day thinking, “If St. Francis could live with such clarity, compassion, and generosity of spirit and never stray from his faith, nor even question it, who am I to think I need to?” When I discovered Eastern Christianity from an Eastern Rite Franciscan monastery, I found my home. I joined the Order of St. Francis as a Secular (3rd Order) Franciscan, took vows, and spent close to three years living in a Byzantine Eastern Catholic Rite Franciscan Order in New Canaan, Connecticut.

I find the teachings of St. Francis to be as relevant today as they were back in the 13th century. Consider this letter that he wrote to all leaders of his day, reflect on the world we live in now, and contemplate how we each can do our part to create ‘heaven on earth.’

Letter to the Rulers of the People, by St. Francis of Assisi

“Keep a clear eye toward life’s end. Do not forget your purpose and destiny as God’s creature. What you are in His sight is what you are and nothing more. Do not let worldly cares and anxieties or the pressures of office blot out the divine life within you or the voice of God’s spirit guiding in your great task of leading humanity to wholeness. If you open yourself to God and His plan printed deeply in your heart, God will open himself to you.

Remember that when you leave this earth, you can take with you nothing that you have received – fading symbols of honor, trappings of power – but only what you have given: a full heart enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice and courage.

Embrace the God of us all and His Word wherever it surfaces. Imitate His preference for the poor and powerless. Enter into His plan of liberating all peoples from everything that oppresses them and obstructs their development as human beings. Do not grow tired of working for peace among all people.

Help remove unjust social structures and patterns of exploitation. Uphold the rights and dignity of the human person. Foster the creation of a society where human life is cherished and where all peoples of the planet can enjoy its gifts, which God created for all in a spirit of love and justice and equality.”

The Eastern approach to theology, just as in medicine, is open to the mystery of life. Although there were many things in Buddhism that resonated with my being, there was a central piece missing for me. My faith is rooted in Christianity, and centered in the teachings of Christ and the message that God humbled Himself and loved us enough to become one of us, only to be crucified, and then to forgive and love us still. This great gift from God enlivens my faith and awakens my desire to serve my fellow human beings, animals and Nature.

Although I am devoted to my faith and the theology of Eastern Christianity, I am drawn to learn from other faiths as well. I recently joined a Mussar group to further my theological studies, to find practical ways to use all of my being for good, and to better the world in which we live. The Mussar movement is a Jewish ethical, educational and cultural movement that developed in the 19th century in Lithuania, particularly among Orthodox Lithuanian Jews. The Hebrew term “Mussar” is from the book of Proverbs 1:2 and means moral conduct, instruction or discipline. It espouses expressing your faith through living action, practicing loving kindness, and caring for all in need, but especially the poor and oppressed. Mussar is essentially the practice of loving your neighbor as yourself.

I am fortunate in many ways that all of my work is my ministry. I believe as Pope Francis states, “Before there was God there was Love, and God came from Love.” We must remember this and live accordingly, recognizing that we are all part of one family.

In celebration of the feast day of St. Francis, I’d like to share with you a bit about St. Francis:

• More books have been written about St. Francis than any other saint.
• His “Canticle of Brother Sun, Sister Moon” was the first major poem written in Italian.
• Franciscans established the first college in the New World in Mexico City in 1536.
• The City of San Francisco is named after him.
• New Mexico’s second Spanish governor founded a new city at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in 1607, which he called La Villa Real de la Santa Fe de San Francisco de Asís (the Royal Town of the Holy Faith of Saint Francis of Assisi).
• Arizona’s highest mountains are called the San Francisco Peaks.
• In Arkansas both a river and town bear the name St. Francis.
• One of the precepts of St. Francis states that followers cannot bear weapons or kill. Thus, St. Francis and his followers were partially responsible for the downfall of the feudal system. Serfs were freed and the number of petty wars was reduced.
• Our present Pope is the first Pope in history to take the name Francis in honor of St. Francis; and he is a Jesuit.
• St. Francis is the patron saint of peace, of ecology, of Italy, and of animals.

Donnie Yance Blog Post 2

Saint Francis had great love and respect for the sanctity of all life, seeing all creation as his brothers and sisters in the Lord. On one occasion he came upon a merchant carrying two small lambs to market. Moved by the plaintive bleating of the lambs, he caressed them and asked the peasant, “Why do you torment my brothers, the lambs?” When he learned that the man intended to sell them for slaughter, he declared, “That will not happen!” and bought them. At Portiuncula for many years he had a tame lamb that followed him everywhere, even into the church, where the lamb’s bleating mingled with the chants of the brethren.

I leave you with this prayer for the Blessing of Pets, which commonly take place on Saint Francis’ feast day, October 4th:

Blessed are you, Lord God, maker of all living creatures. You called forth fish in the sea, birds in the air and animals on the land. You inspired Saint Francis to call all of them his brothers and sisters. We ask you to bless this pet. By the power of your love, enable it to live according to your plan. May we always praise you for all your beauty in creation. Blessed are you, Lord our God, in all your creatures! Amen.

read more


Pursuit of Truth requires being and listening, rather than doing and assuming; and slowing down rather than speeding up. You must cultivate Truth. The great Eclectic School of Medicine of the early 1900’s had a Motto, which I stand by today. It read: “To Love the Truth, To Prove the Truth, To Apply the Truth, and To Promote the Truth.”

In today’s times, the term “evidence based medicine” is often used and in the past decade has been readily adopted largely by the naturopathic field when speaking in the context of plant-based medicines (the primary “toolbox” of wholistic practitioners) in an effort to gain more acceptance through applying equally high standards of “safety and validity” to those of conventional medicine. However, this is often far from what can be called “truth” since the motive behind clinical research is not to prove “truth” but to have a drug or device approved by the FDA. The problem with using “evidence based medicine” exclusively, rather than “evidence informed medicine”, which I prefer, is that the term originated from the randomized controlled trial research paradigm used to study drugs. Such clinical studies are set up specifically in a reductionist method, removing all variables, which is essential for a drug.

Unfortunately, this method is not applicable to a whole-systems approach where we are constantly personalizing and adapting treatment protocols to the individual, altering that protocol as the circumstances change, as well as using plants, which are pleotropic in their effects. Therefore, while there is a tremendous scientific basis for the therapeutic benefits of plants and nutrients in healing, they tend to not be studied in the most widely-accepted, gold standard, rigorous method designed for drugs, yet that does not make them any less valid or “evidence based” in my opinion. In other words, “evidence based medicine” doesn’t always mean it is the right medicine or the best medicine and we need to look beyond and apply a multitude of lenses to discover this (ie; truth).

Over the past two decades I have spent an average of two hours a day compiling research data on botanical and nutritional medicines. I combine this valuable, credible data with my vast knowledge of historical uses and indications, coupled with three decades of clinical experience, to develop safe, effective, and therapeutic protocols that produce results.

Second, much of what is approved as “truth” in the medical arena—including pharmaceutical drugs and various treatments—actually has little validity and can be more detrimental than doing nothing. The attempt to gain approval of a drug, device, or treatment method is not a pursuit of truth, but unfortunately, is often driven by self -interest, and lacks the necessary ingredient of wisdom.

When it comes to postulating truths about herbal and dietary medicine, the medical establishment is not only frequently incorrect and dogmatic, but often maintains a position that is opposite to the truth, especially when it comes to herbs. Examples of this include “Don’t take herbs prior to surgery, because they are blood thinners and will inhibit clotting,” or “Don’t take echinacea if you have a blood cancer, such as leukemia, because it could stimulate the growth of leukemia cells.” Misinformation is rampant, and the internet has exacerbated the problem. For this reason, I recommend against searching for information on the internet about herbs and cancer or diet and cancer. There is an abundance of bad information and a lack of wisdom and integrity to guide you towards the truth.

What is Wisdom?
“The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance – it is the illusion of knowledge” – Daniel Boorstein

Wisdom involves an understanding of the nature, source, and limits of knowledge, together with the degree to which we are able to “teotl” (to understand with the Divine Spirit, taken from the Aztec religion).

1 “The greatest scientists are artists as well,” said Albert Einstein. For Einstein, insight did not come from logic or mathematics. It came, as it does for artists, from intuition and inspiration. Einstein also said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” – Albert Einstein

Truth involves a willingness to accept that the natural and the supernatural coexist. But this is not the way of modern conventional medicine. As a result, the medical profession is painfully shortsighted and makes egregious errors, including making proclamations about health that prove to be incorrect.

The Dangerous Assumptions of Modern Medicine
“It seemed to me that a careful examination of the room and the lawn might possibly reveal some traces of this mysterious individual. You know my methods, Watson. There was not one of them, which I did not apply to the inquiry. And it ended by my discovering traces, but very different ones from those which I had expected.” – The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (1893)

When I was five years old, my mother was told, if they removed my tonsils, it would improve my health and reduce the incidence of sore throats and infections. It wasn’t too many years later that the standard-of-care regarding prophylactic removal of the tonsils was stopped, and the tonsils were recognized as an important part of the immune system. But it was too late for me, and for millions of other children who grew up in the 50’s and 60’s.

Other examples of non-truths we have been led to believe are, “Eggs and butter contain cholesterol, so to avoid heart disease don’t eat them, but instead eat vegetable margarine.” “Foods that contain natural vitamin K such as fruits and vegetables should be avoided when taking Coumadin (warfarin).” “Nonfat milk products, such as yogurt, milk and cheese, are healthier for you than whole dairy products.” “Avoid all soy foods including traditional soy foods if you have or have had breast cancer.” The list goes on and on.

I am continually appalled by how much of modern medicine is not based in truth, and worse, is accepted without any evidence. For example, not so long ago, if you had a small hormonal positive breast cancer, the standard-of-care was a mastectomy with lymph node dissection, with a full course of high dose chemotherapy that included three agents, followed by tamoxifen therapy, regardless of your age. No one questioned this practice, or asked for evidence demonstrating that the protocol significantly enhanced life or improved quality-of-life. The sad truth is that the accepted protocol did not benefit the vast majority of women. A small percentage of women were helped, but many others were irreparably damaged by the treatment, and would have been better off with no treatment except for hormone inhibition.

Yet herbal medicine, used for thousands of years and documented in countless historical medical textbooks, folklore, and in many cases re-validated by modern medicine, is falsely accused of not being “evidence based.”

An Alternative View: Logical Positivism
One of my dissatisfactions with conventional medicine and traditional alternative medicine is the closed-mindedness of both. In the pursuit of truth, we must seek open-mindedness. Conventional medicine encompasses an inherently restricted set of categories and paradigms for understanding patients and diseases. But given that no single method is suitable for all patients, problems, and situations, this approach is far from optimal.

I propose logical positivism as an alternative to the current dogmatic, narrow view of modern conventional medicine. Logical positivism is spiritual-rationality in the most pristine form. It is considered culturally universal in traditional healing systems, and incorporates traditional wisdom, scientific knowledge, logic, intuition, and prayer, making it applicable to all modalities and situations.

Logical positivism is something I fully embrace and have incorporated into the foundation of my approach. Mederi Care, more formally known as the Eclectic Triphasic Medical System (ETMS), is not a combination of “bits and pieces” from different systems trying to find synergy or integration, but rather a unified approach driven by extensive research and clinical application.

Embracing the Eclectic: The ETMS
The word eclectic implies a philosophical integration of several distinct styles or approaches to form the most favorable perspective. A central characteristic of the ETMS is the commitment to examining whatever techniques work in therapy, regardless of the different theories that spawned them. Eclecticism, the root word of ETMS, is the opposite of closed-mindedness, because it pulls together a number of theories and systems, old and new, into a harmonious model of health and healing. The ETMS offers a much more comprehensive approach than any single theory alone.

The ETMS is unique in that it applies medical scientific rigor, creativity, intuition, and prayer to the practice of medicine and individual patient care. In developing the paradigm of the ETMS, I have been greatly influenced by Albert Einstein as well as the great jazz saxophonist, John Coltrane (who was also fascinated by Einstein).


Coltrane and Einstein both honed their gifts of intuition; the first, to create unequalled jazz; the second, to transform our understanding of the universe by transcending mathematical limitations with intuition. Einstein improvised using what he called gedankenexperiments (German for thought experiments), which provided him with a mental picture of the outcome of experiments no one could perform. On the one hand, Einstein used mathematical rigor; on the other, creativity and intuition. Similarly, Coltrane merged his brilliant musicianship with creativity and intuition to take jazz in an entirely new direction.

Mederi Care: Strategies and Challenges
A cornerstone of the ETMS is the focus of gentle health-promoting herbal and dietary medicine that assists the innate healing capacity of the body and enhances all auto-regulatory systems. The ETMS proposes that a healthy system is one that self-regulates in the face of network perturbations. This type of humble medicine is as important as the highly selective targeted molecular therapies that are widely promoted as the pinnacle of modern medicine. In fact, the ETMS approach integrates well with targeted molecular therapies. Unfortunately, many conventional medical practitioners fail to recognize the value of supporting the body’s intrinsic healing ability.

For example, confronting cancer requires combining multiple influences and interrelationship dynamics into a comprehensive strategy. Instead of focusing on a single root cause, the ETMS addresses the spectrum of root causes to create a unified, multi-focused protocol that combines ‘gentle-macro’ medicine with appropriate ‘strong-micro’ medicine, all tailored to the individual. Success is measured by outcome, quality of life, and health care costs, which are the most important parameters.

The Unique Intelligence of the Plant Kingdom
One of the cornerstones of the ETMS is botanical medicine. In contrast, modern conventional medicine often overlooks the plant world. We take plants for granted, and yet, they nourish us, purify our air, and offer remedies for our ills.

According to the criteria of Aristotle, plants actually might have a soul.

3 Plants eat, drink, sleep, communicate, sense, heal, respond, move (albeit slowly), adapt, protect, and not only survive, but thrive even in the harshest of environments.
Plants have a Life Force, just as we do. Traditional herbal medicine and the ETMS are directed towards gentle enhancement of the Life Force, and plants are our companions in this journey.

The Eclectic Physicians referred to the Life Force as the “Vis conservatrix” which was described as vitality, vital powers, and conservative power. They believed the most effective therapeutic change is one that accesses and supports the individual’s innate capacity to heal, and practiced according to their motto, “Sustain the Life Force.”

The foundation of the ETMS is to support and enhance the Life Force. Through various toolboxes, the ETMS not only addresses the molecular complexity of a particular disease, leading to the identification of disease characteristics and pathways, but also the molecular relationships among apparently distinct (patho) phenotypes, the microenvironment, and of utmost importance, the host.

Purity of Heart and the Pursuit of Truth
“It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.” – John Wooden

John Wooden is perhaps the greatest basketball coach ever. He was also a great wise teacher and guru to many of us. He exuded intelligence and class, and he is an inspiration for many of us who try hard to instill the concept of teamwork, honesty and fairness in our work and in our life.

In seeking Truth, we must have Purity of Heart, which enables Clear Thinking (Wisdom), Capacity to Reason (Intelligence), the Insight of Truth (Understanding), and the Harvest of Good. The greater our purity of heart, the greater is our ability to find truth.

To understand means to find harmony between the idea (arising from above, in communion with the Divine), and the reflection below, the manifestation of the idea. In other words “as above, so below.” There must be a connecting link between the object and the subject, the knowing (what can be explained and understood) and the unknowing (what cannot be entirely explained or understood). We must be not only willing to be open to this concept, but see it as essential to understanding truth and the ultimate pursuit of healing.

read more

Living a spirit filled life

Living A Spirit-Filled Life

In life, the soul does not grow in the same way as the body, although we often speak as if it does. It’s a great gift, that as the body grows older and begins to lose strength, the soul gains strength—if we nourish our spiritual being. The mystery of spiritual growth occurs only if we are open to it.

We cannot live life fully being spiritually stagnant, merely functioning, lacking imagination, with knowledge but no wisdom, with little or no creativity, without the expression of art and music, without the pursuit of selfless love. The book of Psalms tells us, “If today you hear my voice, harden not your hearts.” We must listen, with our hearts and souls, in order to follow our true path, which is the path of love. Love cannot be extracted, commanded, demanded or wheedled. It can only be freely given.

I find inspiration in the writings of those who honor a spirit-filled life, including monks and philosophers—even occasionally, those who present themselves to the world as comedians. I collect writings that nourish my soul, and read them as a practice of meditation and reflection.

The comedian/philosopher George Carlin wrote this about life:

“We’ve learned how to make a living, but not a life. We’ve added years to life not life to years. We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We’ve done larger things, but not better things.

We’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We’ve conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We’ve learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less. These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships.

Remember, spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever.

Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side.

Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn’t cost a cent.

Remember, to say, “I love you” to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you.

Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there any more.

Give time to love, give time to speak, and give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.

AND ALWAYS REMEMBER: Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.” ~George Carlin

These are indeed words worthy of reading again and again, reminding ourselves of what is most important in this precious life. Another writer who inspires me is Thomas Merton, a well-known Trappist monk who was a brilliant writer, spiritual master, and a man who embodied the quest for God and human solidarity.

He wrote one of my favorite prayers that speak to this pursuit:

Thoughts in Solitude

MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.

And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone. ~Thomas Merton

The ultimate abandonment of one’s role is not to have self as a fixed point of reference; it is the freedom to manifest God with selfless love through one’s uniqueness. We are all unique with a special gift, but we must discover that gift.

The great jazz composer and pianist Thelonius Monk wrote: “a genius is the one most like himself.” I think there is no more worthy goal in this life than to strive to be ourselves—our best selves, and always with attention to the pursuit of spirit. We know that we are on the right path when our actions in life are expressed as compassion, tenderness, concern for others, service, goodness, gentleness, forgiveness, and understanding.

John Wooden, the great UCLA basketball coach, and one of my favorite people, once said, “You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.” Remember the word “Illness” starts with the letter “I” and the word “Wellness” starts with the two letters “We.”

In all we do pursue after Truth, Beauty, and Love.” ~Pope Francis

read more

I rarely question any food that much of the world has been using for thousands of years. Eventually, science confirms the health benefits of foods and medicines of traditional cultures, and I believe that holds true for coconut. However, a food that is used liberally in one culture does not necessarily mean that the health benefits transfer to other cultures—we must take into consideration climate, other dietary factors, genetics, and lifestyle.

Coconut halves with shell on a dark background. Top view with copyspace

Coconut (Cocos nucifera L.) grows near the equator, and is a staple for people who live in areas that are hot and sunny all year round. All parts of the coconut tree are used in the daily life of people in traditional coconut growing areas, and the coconut itself (which is actually a fruit, nut, and seed) is especially valued for its nutritional and medicinal benefits. Coconuts offer coconut water, coconut flesh, coconut milk, and coconut oil produced from the kernel. The shell, husk, and leaves are also used for creating a variety of household and decorative items.

As beneficial as coconuts and coconut oil appear to be for people living in a hot, tropical climate, coconut is not appropriate as a dietary staple for someone living in a cold climate. Coconut oil is 92 percent saturated, and is liquid in the tropics but a solid fat in northern climes. (There’s a botanical reason—the increased saturation of the oil helps to maintain stiffness in the plant leaves. Foods in different climate zones have different fatty acid profiles to help them adapt and thrive.) Because coconut oil is so highly saturated, it is very stable in hot weather and when used for cooking at higher temperatures, unlike polyunsaturated fats, which oxidize at high temperatures.

I do not recommend heavy use of coconut oil or other coconut foods for daily use or as a “health supplement”, unless you live in the tropics and adopt the traditional lifestyle of the cultures that live there. Nature is our best teacher, and the healthiest approach is to eat foods that grow in our climate because those best meet our needs. At the same time, I believe that it is beneficial to vary our diets according to the season, as well as eating in accordance with our genetic heritage, locale, and climate. For example, I recommend coconut in the summer, and walnuts in the fall—but always, I advise moderation.

Why is Coconut Controversial?

Much of the confusion and negative press about coconut relates to its saturated fat content. It’s true that coconut oil is extremely high in saturated fats—almost 90 percent of its fatty acids are saturated. But as I have stated on many occasions, it is refined oxidative polyunsaturated trans-fats that are problematic, not saturated fats.

In the 1950’s, coconut oil was frequently used in America for frying and baking. It was excellent for both purposes (and highly stable), but the popularity of coconut oil came to a sudden halt when studies reported that saturated fats cause high triglyceride levels. The conclusion was that saturated fats raise cholesterol levels, and the U.S. Government adopted new dietary guidelines stating that all saturated fats, including coconut oil, contribute to heart disease and strongly recommended that these fats be avoided.

Unfortunately, partially hydrogenated vegetable shortenings took the place of coconut oil, with disastrous health effects that have come to light in recent years. The trans fats contained in partially hydrogenated fats have been clearly linked to cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other degenerative diseases, and the government now recommends that we avoid trans fats—a recommendation that I wholeheartedly agree with.

It’s important to note that the type of saturated fat contained in coconut oil is different from that found in meat or dairy products. Whereas most saturated fats are comprised of long-chain fatty acids, coconut oil is unusually rich in short and medium chain fatty acids. Shorter chain length allows fatty acids to be metabolized without use of the carnitine transport system. This means the fatty acids in coconut go directly to the liver, where they are used as an immediate source of energy, or are transformed into ketones, which may be beneficial in brain and nervous system disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Additional Health Benefits of Coconut

The coconut kernel and young coconut water have numerous medicinal properties, including antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, antiparasitic, antidermatophytic, antioxidant, hypoglycemic, hepatoprotective, and immunostimulant. Coconut water and coconut kernel also contain numerous health supportive microminerals and nutrients. For these reasons, in Indian classics, the coconut palm is referred to as ‘Kalpavriksha’ (the all giving tree).1

Studies show that coconut has antioxidant properties; reduces inflammation; protects liver function during chemotherapy; and in certain forms, even improves lipid profiles (despite its high saturated fat content).

Lauric acid, the major fatty acid in coconut fat, has significant antiviral, antibacterial and antiprotozoal properties, while caprilic acid is widely known as an antifungal agent.

Drinking fresh coconut milk, particularly from the young green coconut, is an excellent way to prevent both dysentery and dehydration when traveling in tropical countries.

The health benefits of coconut are substantial. However, as with most things, I believe in practicing moderation when consuming coconut milk, coconut oil, and other coconut products.

I use (and recommend) extra virgin olive oil for low to medium heat cooking and for salad dressing. For high heat cooking, and often for baking, I use coconut oil. In my morning smoothies, I add 1-2 ounces of coconut milk or coconut milk powder, and coconut water. I occasionally use high-oleic sunflower oil in cooking if a light, neutral flavor is most appropriate.

Recent Published Scientific Studies Supporting the Health Benefits of Coconut

  • Antioxidant and Stress Protective Properties of Coconut Oil

Medium-chain fatty acids have been shown to have antidepressant effects. However, this effect had not been studied in virgin coconut oil (VCO), which is rich in polyphenols and medium-chain fatty acids. In a 2015 study, researchers found that laboratory mice treated with VCO exhibited higher levels of brain antioxidants and reduced physiological stress (measured by serum cholesterol, triglycerides, glucose, and corticosterone levels) when subjected to a forced swim test and cold temperatures. The results suggest the potential value of VCO as an antistress functional oil.2

  • VirginCoconut OilProtects Against Chemotherapy (Methotrexate)-Induced Liver Damage

Methotrexate (MTX) is a chemotherapy drug used to treat cancer of the breast, skin, head and neck, or lung. It is also used to treat severe psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis. The drug can cause life-threatening side effects, including liver damage. In a laboratory study, researchers found that supplementing with virgin coconut oil (VCO) prior to methotrexate administration lessened liver injury and oxidative stress, evidenced by significant improvements in serum liver markers, hepatic antioxidant enzymes and malondialdehyde, a lipid peroxidation marker. The researchers suggest that the findings may have beneficial application in the management of hepatotoxicity associated with MTX cancer therapy.3

  • Coconut Oil: Body Composition, Lipids, and Inflammatory Markers in Postmenopausal Women

A number of studies indicate that including coconut oil in the diet can alter body composition in a beneficial way, helping people lose weight and particularly, aiding in reducing abdominal fat.

Researchers studied postmenopausal women who consumed either 30 mL of virgin coconut oil (VCO) or safflower oil (SO) to determine the effects on blood lipids. They found that although VCO raised total cholesterol, it also increased protective high-density lipoprotein levels (HDL). The researchers concluded that women who wish to use coconut oil in their diets can do so safely.4

  • Coconut Oil and Cardiovascular Health

Coconut oil has been heavily promoted in the popular press as being beneficial for cardiovascular health. The results of this scientific review support my assertion that the most healthful way to use coconut is in moderation.

Twenty-one research papers were identified for inclusion in the review: 8 clinical trials and 13 observational studies. The majority examined the effect of coconut oil or coconut products on serum lipid profiles. Coconut oil generally raised total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol to a greater extent than cis unsaturated plant oils, but to a lesser extent than butter. The effect of coconut consumption on the ratio of total cholesterol to high-density lipoprotein cholesterol was often not examined.

Observational evidence suggests that consumption of coconut flesh or squeezed coconut in the context of traditional dietary patterns does not lead to adverse cardiovascular outcomes. However, due to large differences in dietary and lifestyle patterns, these findings cannot be applied to a typical Western diet. Overall, the weight of the evidence from intervention studies to date suggests that replacing coconut oil with unsaturated fats would alter blood lipid profiles in a manner consistent with a reduction in risk factors for cardiovascular disease.5

  • Coconut Flakes Improve Lipid Profiles

In contrast to coconut oil, coconut flakes have been shown to improve serum cholesterol levels. In a clinical study, researchers investigated the effects of coconut flakes on 21 subjects with moderately raised serum cholesterol (ranging from 259 to 283 mg/dL).

Researchers tested corn flakes as the control food, oat bran flakes as the reference food, and corn flakes containing 15% and 25% dietary fiber made from coconut flakes. Results showed a significant reduction in serum total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol for all test foods, with the exception of corn flakes.

Serum triglycerides were significantly reduced for all test foods.

Coconut flour is a good source of both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber, and both types of fiber may have an important role in the reduction of serum cholesterol.6

  • Coconut Oil and Alzheimer’s Disease

Medium chain triglycerides are a direct source of cellular energy, and some studies indicate that coconut oil can be a nonpharmacological alternative to the neuronal death that occurs in Alzheimer patients.

In a recent study, researchers evaluated the effectiveness of coconut oil in the development of Alzheimer’s dementia. Participants were given 40/ml day of extra virgin coconut oil, and results were evaluated using cognitive testing and compared to a control group. The findings indicated that subjects taking the coconut oil showed an improvement in cognitive status. Those benefiting the most were women, those without type-2 diabetes, and those with more severe disease.7

~Two of My Favorite Recipes Using Coconut~

Coconut-Lime Broiled Tempeh

unnamedI created this recipe several years ago, and our family enjoys it at least a couple of times a month. Toasted sesame oil adds a rich, nutty flavor, while   coconut oil, lime, and cilantro add and Indonesian flair to the dish. This is delicious served over steamed brown basmati or black rice. Serves 4.









  • Juice from 2 limes, freshly squeezed
  • 1 tsp. fresh grated lime peel
  • 2 tbsp. toasted sesame seed oil
  • 2 tbsp. coconut oil
  • 1-2 tbsp. tamari
  • 2-3 minced cloves garlic
  • 1-2 tbsp. fresh sliced ginger
  • 1 tbsp. maple syrup
  • Dash of ground pepper (black and/or crushed red pepper)
  • Optional: 1-2 tsp. Za’atar, 1 tsp. dried cumin powder
  • 1 12-ounce package tempeh


  • 3 medium zucchini, sliced
  • 2 cups shitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 red pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 large sliced onion
  • 1 sliced carrot
  • Garnish: fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

Additional Seasoning Added at End of Baking Time:

  • 2-4 oz coconut milk
  • 1-2 tsp. red curry paste


  1. Combine all ingredients (through tempeh) in a glass baking dish, cover, and marinate overnight in the refrigerator.
  2. When ready to cook, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  3. Transfer tempeh, vegetables, and sauce to heavy broiling pan. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes.
  4. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. At end of baking time, add coconut milk and curry paste and finish by broiling for 10 minutes.
  5. Serve over black or brown rice and garnish with fresh cilantro.

Easy Coconut Whipped Cream

An easy, dairy-free alternative to traditional whipped cream! Author:









  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk, chilled (cream only)
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Chill the can of coconut milk in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight.
  2. Chill a pint glass canning jar for at least 10 minutes in the freezer. Remove the chilled can of coconut milk from the refrigerator.
  3. Open the can of coconut milk and scoop the thickened cream into the chilled canning jar. Reserve the remaining coconut liquid for a smoothie.
  4. Add the pure maple syrup and vanilla extract to the heavy coconut cream, then screw the lid onto the canning jar. Shake vigorously for 3-5 minutes, until the cream is thickened and fluffy in texture.
  5. Serve immediately over your favorite fruit or dessert.


  1. DebMandal M1Mandal S. Coconut (Cocos nucifera L.: Arecaceae): in healthpromotion and disease prevention. Asian Pac J Trop Med. 2011 Mar;4(3):241-7. doi: 10.1016/S1995-7645(11)60078-3. Epub 2011 Apr 12.
  2. Swee Keong Yeap, Boon Kee Beh, Norlaily Mohd Ali, etc. Antistress and antioxidant effects of virgin coconut oil in vivo, Experimental and Therapeutic Medicine. 2015 9: 39-42.
  3. Famurewa AC, Ufebe OG, Egedigwe CA, et al. Virgin coconut oilsupplementation attenuates acute chemotherapy hepatotoxicity induced by anticancer drug methotrexate via inhibition of oxidative stress in rats. Biomed Pharmacother. 2017 Mar;87:437-442. doi: 10.1016/j.biopha.2016.12.123. Epub 2017 Jan 6.
  4. Harris M, Hutchins A, Fryda L. The Impact of Virgin Coconut Oiland High-Oleic Safflower Oil on Body Composition, Lipids, and Inflammatory Markers in Postmenopausal Women. J Med Food. 2017 Apr;20(4):345-351. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2016.0114. Epub 2017 Mar 9.
  5. Eyres L, Eyres M, Chisholm A, Brown R. Coconut oil consumption and cardiovascular risk factors in humans, Nutr Rev. 2016 Apr;74(4):267-80, doi: 10.1093/nutrit/nuw002
  6. Trinidad TP, Loyola AS, Mallillin AC, et al. The cholesterol-lowering effect of coconut flakes in humans with moderately raised serum cholesterol. J Med Food.  2004 Summer;7(2):136-40.
  7. Hu Yang I, De la Rubia Ortí JE, Selvi Sabater P, et al. Coconut Oil: Non-Alternative Drug Treatment Against Alheimer’s Disease. Nutr Hosp. 2015 Dec 1;32(6):2822-7. doi: 10.3305/nh.2015.32.6.9707.

read more

We hear so much about the negative effects of sugar—from obesity to tooth decay to cancer—it might surprise you to learn that sugar has some unique beneficial properties. It’s important to understand that not all sugars are created equal. If you want to reap the health benefits of sugar, it must be truly unrefined raw sugar.

read more

I’m often asked what I consider to be the healthiest diet. Through decades of nutritional research and experimentation, I’m convinced that a diet of primarily organic, plant-based Mediterranean foods—including whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, eggs, dairy products (cow, goat and sheep milk derived) and healthy fats (mostly olive oil), with fish and seafood playing a key role as a main protein source—is by far the best diet for long term health. The term “pesca-flexa-vegetarian” comes closest to describing the diet that my family and I eat.

read more


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers