In my blog on proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) a couple of weeks ago, I discussed the dangers of these drugs that are commonly prescribed for treating GERD and indigestion. Patients often ask me if there are natural alternatives to PPIs.
I recommend complete digestive support that focuses on safely alleviating
symptoms and restoring digestive tract health. The goals should be to:
Neutralize stomach acid to relieve heartburn, acid
indigestion, bloating, GERD, and upset stomach.
Support digestion and normal gastrointestinal (GI)
health and response.
Support normal GI immune and inflammatory response.
Support normal GI tract healing, provide support and
protection to the mucosal lining, enhance GI permeability health, and address
leaky gut syndrome and immune dis-regulation.
Provide optimal support for the epithelial lining of
the GI tract, esophagus, throat and mouth.
Support nervous system/digestive system connection and
assist the gut, nervous system, and brain network.
In my last post, I broadly discussed the exciting field of epigenetics, which is radically changing the landscape of what we’ve long believed about genetics and biological destiny. Emerging research shows that food and herbs may be the most important factors in our genetic well-being, directly affecting our health, disease risk, and longevity.
As a clinical herbalist, I find the relationship between herbs and epigenetics particularly compelling. A large body of research shows that a wide array of botanical compounds work in a variety of ways to maintain health at the cellular level, and offer great promise in improving our molecular expression, protecting against cellular stressors and aging by normalizing gene behavior. We cannot change the genes we have, but we can positively alter the fate and behavior of our genes by supplying them with beneficial herbal and dietary compounds.
“I have no data yet. It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories instead of theories to suit facts.” ~Sherlock Holmes.
Conventional medicine has long been wary of traditional herbal medicine, particularly when it comes to the potential interactions of herbs and pharmaceutical drugs. However, the focus of conventional medicine always seems to be on the negative interactions of herbs and drugs, when in fact, herb-drug interactions can often be positive.
In my last post, I discussed the benefits of phytoestrogens, and how these plant compounds may help to regulate the effects of estrogen. While soy foods are perhaps the best-known phytoestrogens, there are a number of herbs with apparent phytoestrogenic properties that have a long history of use in herbal medicine. Current research has demonstrated the usefulness of these botanicals in protecting breast and prostate health.
I’ve had numerous requests for information regarding specific dietary supplements and herbs that can help to normalize cholesterol profiles. Because there is so much misinformation regarding cholesterol, I want to reiterate that cholesterol is not the evil monster that it is made out to be.
Cholesterol is a lipid that is critical for the proper functioning of the body, and is used to build cell membranes, create sex hormones, aid in immune health and tissue repair; and facilitate digestion. However, elevated LDL cholesterol and low HDL cholesterol, in the presence of prolonged inflammation, oxidation (of LDL cholesterol) and elevated blood glucose and insulin levels can contribute mightily to cardiovascular disease.
Most people are aware that essential fatty acids are a necessary part of a healthy diet, and are familiar with omega 3’s, omega 6’s, and omega 9’s. But you may not have heard of omega 7’s, also known as palmitoleic acid. This rare fatty acid occurs abundantly in Siberian sea buckthorn berries (Hippophae rhamnoides), and has been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic, Chinese, Greek, Russian, and Tibetan medicine. In Tibet, the berries are revered as the “Holy Fruit of the Himalayas.”
Siberian sea buckthorn oil (pressed from the bright orange colored berry and seeds of the plant) has come to the attention of the Western medical community because of its unique fatty acid profile—it’s the only known plant that contains all four essential fatty acids. Studies show that omega-7 fatty acids contribute to healthy skin, hair, and nails; enhance cardiovascular function; boost brain health; and improve gastrointestinal health. Sea buckthorn is also distinctive in that the fruits and seeds contain an extensive array of antioxidant compounds.