Gut-Brain Axis: Probiotics are the Missing Link to Depression

Science has finally caught up to what many of us have been trying to say for years: How you feel comes from your GUT. Restoring gut health must be part of your mental wellness program. If you or someone who know is suffering from depression, there is HOPE. And it could be a lot easier to overcome than you think.

All information in this article is for educational purposes only.
It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition.

The information below is from the book This is your Brain on Parasites by Kathleen McAuliffe:

“In the gut, resident microbes take a share of every meal you eat, but in return they aid in digestion, synthesizing vitamins and disarming dangerous bacteria that you ingest. They also churn out virtually every major neurotransmitter that tunes our emotions – notably GAMA, dopamine, serotonin, acetylcholine, and noradrenaline – as well as hormones with psychoactive properties.

“To varying degrees, scientists now suspect, intestinal microbes influence whether you’re happy or sad, anxious or calm, energetic or sluggish, and, by signaling the brain when you’ve had enough to eat, perhaps even whether you’re fat or thin.

The Gut-Brain Axis is real

“Scientists are still trying to figure out exactly how gut bacteria get messages delivered to the distant output of the head, but they have a few ideas.

“Some psychoactive compounds made by gut bacteria, they believe, are detected by the enteric nervous system – a think skein of neurons that runs the entire length of the gut. This network has more neurons than the spinal cord – hence its nickname, “the second brain’ – and it connects to the big brain upstairs via the vagus nerve, a major route by which gut bacteria make their voices heard. Indeed, 90 percent of information transmitted by this cable goes from the viscera to the brain, not the other way around, as science for many years had assumed.

It’s not “in your head”…it’s in your GUT

“Intestinal bacteria may engage the immune system, which can lower our mood and energy level, yet another pathway by which our microbiota might change our behavior. Perhaps related to that observation, depressed people tend to have abnormally high amounts of certain gut bacteria, and they are more likely to have elevated biomarkers for inflammation – an immune-mediated response.

“Intriguingly, certain gastro-intestinal (GI) disturbances – notable ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease – are marked by disruptions of the gut microbiome, and these illnesses are associated with an unusually high incidence of mental disturbance in comparison to serious diseases that afflict other parts of the body. Indeed, 50 to 80 percent of those who suffer from these conditions are clinically depressed.

“More surprising, specific abnormalities in the composition of the human microbiota have been linked to autism spectrum disorder (ASD) – a condition characterized by increased anxiety, depression, and impaired social ability.

Could probiotics help millions of people who are debilitated by serious mood disorders?

“Clinical trials are now underway to test probiotics on people whose primary problem is anxiety, depression or bipolar disorder. The results are not in yet, but studies of groups whose mental woes may originate in GI troubles offer encouragement. In one study of thirty-seven patients with functional gastrointestinal disorders (an umbrella term for irritable bowel syndrome and other common gastric complaints that can’t be tied to an underlying abnormality), for example, probiotic treatment not only improved their symptoms but also brought about a significant reduction in their depression and anxiety based on both self-reporting and measurements of stress markers in their saliva and urine. The outcome was impressive given that all of the subjects had previously been treated – without success – at multiple medical centers.

“A sprinkling of clinical investigations also suggest that probiotic remedies can soothe colicky babies, a condition that torments 20% of newborns along with their frazzled, sleep-deprived parents. In one trial, the approach reduced crying and fussing by 70 percent.

“Gathering evidence hints that supplements of healthy bacteria may help to buffer already high-functioning people against everyday stress and strains. For example, a randomized, double-blind trial in France on fifty-five people with no history of psychological disturbances found that regular consumption of a probiotic reduced blood levels of stress hormones and subjects’ ratings of their depression, anxiety, and ability to cope – improvements not seen in the control group.”

Probiotics can’t hurt and may help, so why NOT try?

With no harmful side effects, no damage to the hormonal system, metabolism or liver, no additive properties and no need for other supporting prescription medications, I cannot see any logical reason why NOT to take a daily probiotic. At the very least, you can add a probiotic to your daily regimen, even if you and your doctor decide to keep you on anti-depressants. With nothing to lose and so much to potentially gain, it’s a no-brainer (or an all-gutter!).

Even if you don’t suffer from clinical anxiety or depression, studies are showing that you can feel better too. Everyday stress can actually be reduced, just from taking good gut bacteria!

What type of probiotic to take

I recommend several types of probiotic. Taken together, they increase the chance of rebalancing the microbiome in the gut. Remember, it’s not just one type of good bacteria that you need. There are as many as a thousand different strains of good bacteria in a healthy gut.

Recommended probiotic daily schedule:

  • Morning – Take 1 Jarrow brand acidophilus capsule with or after breakfast
  • Lunch – Take 1 Garden of Life HSO probiotic tablet with or after lunch
  • At night before bed – Take 1 Udo bifidus capsule at night before bed

(Note: while traveling, it’s best to take only the Jarrow brand 3x daily because it’s easy to travel with, can be transported without refrigeration and it’s more convenient to have only one brand to carry. At home, increase your variety of bacterial strains in the gut by rotating between 3 different brands each day.)


For more on how to achieve your health goals and actually start feeling great, book a private health consult with me via Skype.

How to Book Your Health & Nutritional Coaching Session:

1. Take photos of your eyes with a smart phone or digital camera.
2. Email the photos to me for approval for Iridology Analysis.
3. We schedule a time to meet via phone or Skype!


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Why I worked on an organic cattle farm

Yes, it’s true! I worked on an organic cattle farm for 6 weeks while living in Australia several years ago. You may think, “Traitor!”…but of course, no peace-loving health enthusiast would ever think that!  Why did I do it? I’d never worked on a cattle farm before and was open to see what it’s all about. The family who hired me had actually never met a vegetarian in their entire lives. What a union! I went into the experience with an open mind, and an open heart.

A vegetarian meets a cattle ranch family…will it work?

I took the job at the cattle station not long after working and living on Lizard Island on the Great Barrier Reef for a year and a half. I was coming out of the isolation of island living and driving around oz, happily visiting friends along the way. One of my friends was working in Alice Springs at the time, so I drove to see her. During my visit, she said, “Jennifer, why don’t you stay awhile and look for work? There’s plenty of work ’round here. Plus, when are you ever going to be back?” (Never, I thought!) But, it seemed like a good idea to stay and get to know more of what the strange, desolate, dry, red landscape had to offer. The next day, I checked the local job board and there was a sign for domestic help on an organic cattle farm. Well, I liked the word “organic” anyway! Why not call them and give it a try? I had nothing to lose.

Outback scenery…the road to Alice Springs

Living in the real outback of Australia is not easy. The husband of the family drove 4 hours one-way to come and pick me up in Alice Springs. We drove back to the farm together, getting to know each other along the way. The pickup truck had a big spider crack in the windshield and I remember spending a lot of time wondering how he could even see the road. Never mind that the car was covered in so many layers of dust that you could no longer see the color of the car! On the dashboard were several shotgun shells. They rolled back and forth with every turn that the car took. Admittedly, I wondered what I was getting into. The husband seemed tough, with thick skin tanned from the desert sun and just as many layers of dirt on him as the car. Yet, he seemed genuine and funny too. Not long after the initial small talk, we started talking about nutrition and health. He proudly told me, “I reckon I get the 4 food groups every morning: coffee, milk, sugar and water.” Ok!

The road to their farm was straight and long. Like hundreds of kilometers long. And nothing but desert for as far as you can see. Finally, we got to a dirt road that was another 200km until we got to their driveway. Then, the driveway was 35km long! And not an easy drive because you had to stop every so often at a cattle gate and get out to open the gate. Mind you, I had just come from living on a tropical island on the Great Barrier Reef, and I thought that was remote. This was beyond anything I had ever seen!!

The family that I worked for had 2 children: one was still at home and learning online via School of the Air, a fascinating program that’s been in place way before the internet (and originally by radio) for outback families. Their other child was already in boarding school back in Alice Springs. The farm was originally owned by the husband’s family. He inherited it after his father passed away. His wife ran the house and prepared meals for everyone, including the family, me and the other cattle hands. Every night, we all ate together at one big table, unless the guys were out somewhere on the farm mustering cattle.

Fair dinkum outback cowboys

The staff (3 of us) stayed in an old house on the property. It was run down, full of dust and smelled bad. Nothing to write home about. The best aspect of the job is that food and accommodation were included, so you could bank all of your money while you were there and come out with some nice savings. After all, what could you possibly spend your money on out there?! Literally nothing. The other 2 guys were nice guys. One was an experienced mustering pilot who worked side by side with the father each day. The other guy was an Irish backpacker who was a butcher back home in Ireland. They hired him to work with the mustering and also to cut up a cow for their freezer (more on that later). They never seemed to remember his name and just called him “Backpacker” all the time. My job was to spring clean the main house, section by section, room by room, from top to bottom.

In the evenings I would walk on the property…but you don’t want to get any closer than this. The cattle can turn and charge at any moment

I left the farm only once during my stay. The wife needed to stock up on some food essentials, so we went to the “local” store instead of driving all the way into Alice Springs. The local store was still a one hour drive away! It was in an Aboriginal village and catered mostly to them. You could immediately understand why obesity and diabetes have become such big problems in the Aboriginal communities. The store was full of candies, sweets and sugary sodas with just a few old wilted vegetables on a back shelf.

One thing I didn’t mention yet is what we ate. Thankfully, there were plenty of veggies for me to eat as well as bread and pasta (This was before I switched my own diet to a healthier version, but I was still a vegetarian). There was no snack food at all and I didn’t bring any snacks. It was a prison diet, in a sense. You just got your plate of food 3x a day and that was it. For the rest of the crew, they had tons of meat, at every meal. I’d never seen people eat red meat with breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. They had one entire freezer full of meat. In fact, while I was there, they started running low so they had Backpacker chop up a “kill.” It took him 2 days and seemed like a LOT of work. I also didn’t mention the flies. You can’t be in the outback without flies. Especially during those 2 days, there were tons of flies.

One thing that happened without fail at every meal – I was always asked if I had enough to eat. You see, this family had never eaten with a vegetarian before, so it was hard for them to believe that I could feel satisfied without meat. I found it pretty funny. If I was tired on any day, they would always say, “Do you want some meat?” Of course, the answer was always, “No thank you”!

The highlight of my experience was getting to spend a night in the outback with the boys while they were out mustering. I drove with them during the day in their “Mad Max” style jeeps on the ground, while the father and pilot flew from above in gyrocopters. We made a campfire at night, put the billy on the fire and slept on cots out in the open air, straight from an outback movie scene.

Mustering cattle is a lot harder than it looks!

In the end, was it a great experience and a good cultural exchange. Why not let a cattle ranch family live with a vegetarian and vice versa? How will we ever understand each other if we don’t foster positive friendships? I respect the family for their hard work, dedication to the land and desire to raise cattle who eat real grass and are not confined to a mega factory farm. I now have much more of a real understanding of what happens in an organic cattle farm than I ever did before. If people do eat meat, it should be organic meat…and ideally, that would be the only option. Our land can sustain it (although dairy farming is another issue), and there is no overuse of antibiotics, GMO feed or growth hormones as a result.

Aussie outback: where the earth and sky meet

Some may think that I should have boycotted such a place and never accepted the job. I myself ate meat, including pork, chicken and beef, as a child. Should I be burned at the stake because I ate meat until the age of 21 years old? What makes me better or worse than someone who eats meat now? I originally become a vegetarian for environmental reasons. After 15 years or so, my focus shifted more on health reasons. This year will be my 26th year of having not eaten meat.

An interesting note to all of this is that the husband’s father passed away from colon cancer, in his 50’s. It’s a very sad ending for someone who loved the land so much. And does make one wonder – did eating so much meat, even organic meat, contribute to his ill health?

The one thing I do know is this: acceptance, forgiveness and love are the keys to bridging the gaps that divide us. Whether vegan, vegetarian, breatharian or other…we are all human.

More Travel Tales:

Does the Squatty Potty Really work?

If you’ve never heard of a Squatty Potty, then you are definitely not up-to-date with the latest trend in bathroom accessories (and yes, there are bathroom trends!). This simple yet practical toilet stool has taken the digestively-challenged world by storm, literally! Times have certainly changed since I started working in the field of detox nearly 20 years ago. Back then, I couldn’t talk about poo without everyone running as fast and as far away as they could. Now, I can write and share a full article about something that is helping people have better bowel movements! In this blog post, I’m going to share my results in using the Squatty Potty at home. Does it really work, or it is just hype?

Disclaimer: I was provided with a free product in return for my honest review and experience with the product.
All thoughts and opinion expressed herein are my own and not influenced by the developing company and/or its affiliates, in any way.

The Squatty Potty 2.0 model fully extended to the 9 inch position

Why I wanted to try the Squatty Potty

Admittedly, my husband wasn’t so thrilled to be part of this experiment, but in reality he was the one who needed help in the a-hem..toilet department. Having suffered with constipation his entire life, he understands more than anyone how frustrating it is when you don’t “go” every day. When I first met him, he was literally amazed that I could be in and out of the bathroom in less than 3 minutes, for a Number 2! Often, he would sit on that porcelain throne for 30 minutes or more, praying to the heavens above for any miracle cure. Many times, we would have to wait all morning before going out because he still “had to go.” In some cases, he wouldn’t have any bowel movement for 3 or 4 days at a time. I was in shock! When he first told me this, I immediately scheduled a colonic for him. And can you believe – he actually went through with it? His first colonic ever (but not his last!) Now… that’s true love!

Fast forward several years and many detoxes later, and things has vastly improved for my husband’s gut health. If he eats well with green smoothies, fresh fruit, a daily probiotic and plenty of water throughout the day, he generally does exceptionally well and is actually quite regular these days. But, if any of that gets off track, his colon will be the first to let him know. It’s awful to see someone you care about not be able to go to the toilet and really feel miserable as a result. Naturally, I kept thinking – what else can I do to help him improve this situation? Having heard of Squatty Potty and having used many squat toilets myself over the years while living in SE Asia, I thought that using a stool and changing the position of his sitting could help. The only way to know for sure was to give it a try!

We received our new Squatty Potties by mail in an unmarked box with no exterior labels, which was reassuring since I can imagine that some people would prefer complete privacy with this type of purchase. My first impression was that the company has done really well to put a fun and cute spin on a topic that was formerly more on the taboo side and for many still is not so easy to discuss. Even I was accused of giving #TMI when I texted a good friend to tell her we just received our Squatty Potty! Anyway, the packaging and branding of Squatty Potty is great. The stools were wrapped in turquoise blue tissue paper, with a paper unicorn crown (for the new King of Poop) and a button that proudly states “I Pooped Today.” Classic! All of this made me even more excited to give the Squatty Potty a try.

Squatty Potty: What is it and who needs one?

A Squatty Potty is a modern-day version of the squat toilet, brought to you with all the comfort of your Western-style porcelain throne.  The Squatty Potty is a step stool designed to fit easily around the base of your toilet seat. It works like this: Sit on your toilet as you normally would, gently lift your legs, rest your feet on the stool and let the bowel movement begin. By lifting your legs slightly, the transverse colon gently rises thus preventing any “kinks” in the colon and allowing the pipes to flow, so to speak.

All information in this article is for educational purposes only. 
It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition. 

Squatty Potty Slim Driftwood Teak Model in 7 inch height

If you have a history of constipation, inflammation in the colon, or a feeling of not fully evacuating then the Squatty Potty is worth a try. In terms of how many people could actually benefit from something like this, just look at the statistics. Approximately 70 MILLION Americans have digestive disorders, prompting in nearly 60 MILLION visits to doctors’ offices and hospitals each year.

Clearly, what goes in doesn’t always come out.

Low stomach enzymes, an unhealthy “microbiome” or bacterial balance in the gut, an over acid environment, toxicity, and/or inflammation are warning signs that the body is not eliminating well. (Remember, any bowel disease ending with the word “itis” is a disease on inflammation, like ulcerative colitis, gastritis and diverticulitis.) What’s worse is that more health problems can arise from all this internal stress. As Hippocrates said, “All disease begins in the gut.” I agree!

Our results: Using a Squatty Potty

In theory, I knew that the Squatty Potty should work. But still, I wondered – could a toilet stool really mimic the true Asian squat and offer improved evacuation? The answer is: YES! I am actually impressed at how well it works!

On the day the Squatty Potty arrived, my husband tried the 2.0 model set at the standard 7″ height. Within 10 minutes, he was out of the bathroom (that alone is amazing!). Without getting too graphic, he said, “More just kept coming out! Every time I thought I was done, there was more!” Well, that never happens. Usually it’s the opposite and more in lines of, “I kept pushing and nothing came out” OR “I pushed and pushed and only got a rabbit turd.” If you’ve been in that situation, I am sure you can relate.

I can only guess that my husband has some prolapse of the colon, which can definitely keep the large intestine in a more kinked position. Changing the position of the colon created an immediate positive effect. Every time he uses the Squatty Potty, he has a release and it’s always more than he thought he was going to have. That’s simply amazing!

For me, the results were also good. In my case, I am very regular and have a large bowel movement every morning. Could the Squatty Potty help someone like me, who doesn’t have any digestive problems and goes to the loo every day? Yes! When I’ve used the Squatty Potty, I have my normal release, and then I have another almost full poo immediately after. Almost like two poo’s at once. Definitely I feel improved evacuation and I feel flatter in my stomach after. I can only surmise that more is getting through even my clean and healthy pipes, just from the change in position of the colon.

Asian Squat Toilet vs. Western Sit Toilet – What’s the poop?

An Asian squat toilet is a simple style of toilet design that consists of a hole in the floor and 2 porcelain treads for your feet on either side. You stand in position, squat and then go. This design is used in many parts of the world but is mostly found in Asia, hence the name “Asian-style” toilet.

Who would want to squat like a dog to go to the toilet?! Well, imagine the days before real toilets existed. What would have been the easiest and most natural position to a-hem..fertilize a tree? There’s no way you would stand and bend at the knees (muscles shaking) as if sitting on the loo. Naturally, you would squat in a low position, close to the ground. Squatting is easier on the joints and less tiring on the muscles, but more importantly it puts the transverse colon in the correct position and lifts any prolapse in the colon. Kinks in the colon are lifted naturally, especially where the ascending and descending colon turn. All of this allows you to “go” quickly and easily, standing up after to check for any predators and be on your way.

The first man-made toilets copied the style of squatting and in many parts of the world, squat toilets were the norm. This made perfect sense until more modern day folks decided that sitting was the preferred position of defecating.  That’s when the Western toilet arrived, and along with the Western diet (refined sugar, wheat and dairy), came many new digestive ailments.

I used many squat toilets over the course of several years while living in SE Asia. In my experience, public squat toilets are way cleaner than public Western toilets. It’s a relief to not have to sit on a dirty seat splashed with who-knows-what. Using a squat toilet also helps strengthen your leg muscles and gives the body a good stretch. It just feels more natural. I also think that I had more volume evacuated whenever using a squat toilet.

Is it better to squat on the toilet? That’s kind-of a trick question because believe it or not, a lot of Asians who have never used a Western toilet will actually stand on the seat of a Western toilet and squat!

Is a squat toilet better? In my opinion, yes. I wish we had the option to build an Asian style toilet in our home here in the United States – I would definitely do that!

What Squatty Potty model is best?

I had a hard time deciding which Squatty Potty model to try. I didn’t really like the medical look of the traditional Squatty potty. I just recently painted one of our bathrooms and I wanted to maintain a sleek, modern style there.

Also, my husband is 6’8″ tall and weighs 220 pounds. I was worried that the slim teak style might actually break from his weight.  At the same time, I didn’t know which height would work best for him. I read a few reviews from tall people who said that the 9″ was too high for them, and their knees were in their face. I was leaning towards the new 2.0 model which allows for 2 positions and adjusts between 7″ and 9″ heights.  But, I didn’t like the medical-looking style. So, what to do?!

In the end, I chose the Squatty Potty 2.0 for one bathroom and the slim teak model for the other one. We’ve been very happy with both. Initially, my husband was happy using the 2.0 at the 7″ height. After 2 weeks, he decided that he wanted to adjust it up to 9 inches. Starting at 9″ probably would have been too uncomfortable for him, and may have discouraged him from trying. Definitely, having the flexibility to change the height is really nice. The driftwood teak slim design in the other bathroom satisfies my desire to have a nicer look. I tend to use that bathroom more than my husband, and the 7″ height of that stool feels more comfortable for me. The slim stool is sturdy in design, even with the weight of a 220-pound man.

I also LOVE the idea of the Porta-Squatty, which folds up easily for travel. Since traveling is always more challenging for my hubby in terms of staying regular, I could see where this could really come in handy.

In the case of optimizing one’s poo, position does matter!

How to Improve Gut Health

In addition to getting the squat position right, there are other natural remedies that also help to keep things “moving”.

To improve gut health, you can:

  1. Increase fiber. Add 2 Tbsp. ground flaxseed to a green smoothie daily
  2. Take a daily probiotic, one at night before bed.
  3. Don’t overeat. Set regular mealtimes.
  4. Add fermented foods to your diet.
  5. Detox and/or colon cleanse once a year (at a minimum).

Finally…don’t forget to Listen to your Gut! Your body is giving you signals when things aren’t right. Stay in tune with how you feel. Heartburn, acid reflux, indigestion, gas, pain, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and/or abdominal pain are all signs of imbalance. Pay attention when things aren’t working. The faster you make changes, the sooner you can feel better.

Read more on natural health and healing here:

What your Poop and Pee can tell you about Your Health

How to Do a Castor Oil Pack for Liver Cleansing

How to Do Onion Socks for Healing


For more on how to do a detox at home or how to navigate through your detox symptoms and start feeling great, book a personalized health consult with me via Skype.

How to Book Your Health & Nutritional Consultation:

1. Take photos of your eyes with a smart phone or digital camera.
2. Email the photos to me for approval.
3. We schedule a time to meet via phone or Skype!


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Feng Shui Your Home for Better Sleep and Good Relationships

The concept of clearing clutter, minimization or tidying up for success is nothing new. Feng Shui is an ancient practice of keeping order in one’s life and enjoying good energy flow as a result. Find out how you can adopt a few Feng Shui techniques, practice minimalism and see how your life can actually improve as a result. It’s pretty amazing stuff, especially because it works!

Feng Shui Your Bedroom for Better Sleep

The importance of Feng Shui in the bedroom is second to none in terms of getting a restful sleep.

To start, correct placement of mirrors is essential. Don’t place any mirrors behind, next to or even above the bed. This will drain your energy all night long, and leave you feeling depleted with lack of focus in the morning. Do place mirrors behind a door or in the closet/dressing area for good Feng Shui.

Next, check your sheets, pillows, blankets and comforters. For the best Feng Shui in the bedroom, all linens should be either white or skin tone in color; that is, any shade of tan or brown. Choose plain fabrics with minimalistic designs and avoid loud patterns. You don’t want bright colors or mismatching patterns, all of which create energetic “noise.”  I recommend to use only a high quality (300 count or more) 100% cotton sheets and avoid polyester blends. When you get into bed, it should feel like the most comfortable place on earth.

Take time every morning to make your bed consciously, with attention and intention to take care of your sleeping space. The worse thing you can do is throw pillows haphazardly, unconsciously or while filled with stressful thoughts. You will only keep that energy there waiting for you when you get back at night!

If you suffer from insomnia, turn on an essential oil diffuser with organic lavender oil in the bedroom for about an hour each night. Either use a timer function or turn it off manually before going to bed.

The bedroom decor should be simple and zen-like. Use warm woods and avoid too much metal or sharp-edged furniture. Don’t allow clutter in the bedroom, especially if your mind tends to race and wander before falling asleep. (You may need to detox your bedroom, which is not a bad thing!)

Minimize electronics in the bedroom, especially ones that are right next to the bed. Placing a large amethyst crystal cluster in the bedroom can help to relax the mind and promote a deeper, more restful sleep.

Top Feng Shui Tips for Your Bedroom:

  • No mirrors behind, above or on the side of the bed
  • Linens and sheets in white or skin tone colors
  • Simple decor with minimal clutter
  • No electronics next to the bed
  • Amethyst crystal cluster to relax the mind

A simple and clean bedroom has the perfect energy for a good night’s sleep

Feng Shui Your Home for a Good Relationship

Perhaps you never thought about what type of energy you have in your home for harboring good relationships, but in terms of Feng Shui, it’s very important! If you are single, there are things you can do to attract a partner in your life. And if you have a partner and you want to continue in a successful union, there are some Feng Shui decorating points that can actually help keep a loving relationship.

To find a partner, don’t worry about how to meet them. Instead, get your Feng Shui in order…and the universe will bring that person to you! Good Feng Shui for love starts with the images in your home. What you want is art, posters or paintings or 2 animals in nature, such as 2 elephants walking, 2 fish swimming or 2 birds flying. The worst Feng Shui is to have a single woman sitting alone on a beach, or a single animal alone in a painting. If you want to stay single, that’s ok! But otherwise, get rid of it.

To keep a partner, bring in the powerful symbol in Feng Shui for love and marriage, sometimes called the “double happiness” symbol. This is a symbol you can hang in your bedroom, and for the best Feng Shui, you want this symbol in the southwest (SW) corner of the room.

For good relationship Feng Shui, you want to have a bedside table and a lamp on both sides of the bed, with easy access to both sides of the bed. The worst Feng Shui that will keep you in forever singledom is when you have one side of the bed directly against wall with only one side of the bed accessible for entry and exit. The bedroom should be clear of clutter and simple in design to keep drama and discord out of the relationship.

Top Feng Shui Tips for a Good Relationship:

  • Artwork showing animals in pairs
  • Bedside tables on both sides of the bed
  • Double Happiness symbol in the SW corner

Feng Shui Your Office for Creativity & Concentration

The energy in your office should ideally help to strengthen your ability to focus, complete tasks and maximize productivity. In terms of Feng Shui, your office should always be neat and orderly. A chaotic or untidy space leads to monkey mind and scattered thoughts. Keep your desk free of clutter, and only have essential items on display. Simplicity is best.

Add a nice green plant, and keep wood or bamboo elements in your office space for good Feng Shui.

Finally, locate the southeast (SE) area of your office, otherwise known as the Wealth and Money corner. In that area, you can add a gold dragon, a three-legged frog, an image of a bat, a gold elephant, or a turtle, all considered to be powerful Feng Shui elements for abundance and success.

Top Feng Shui Tips for Your Office:

  • Neat and tidy work space, clear of clutter
  • Green plant or bamboo
  • Lucky talismans in the Wealth and Money Corner

Feng Shui Tips to Create a Peaceful Retreat at Home

The energy in your home starts from the moment you walk in the door, and that’s where a lot of important Feng Shui happens.

Don’t put a mirror directly in front of the entrance, and don’t have a bathroom directly in front of the entrance – both of these are definitely bad for Feng Shui. A mirror in front of the door sends all the good energy out of the home. You can have a mirror next to the door or in a hallway, but not facing the entrance door.

Do invite clean energy into your home by placing a clear quartz cluster in the entranceway. A quartz cluster is used to clean an energy space, with all the crystal points sending good energy in all different directions. This helps to leave worries and stress at the door, not allowing it to enter the home.

Do protect yourself and your home from bad energy by hanging or placing talismans in your entryway. A Buddha statue should be facing the door and set on a table against a flat wall. Never place a Buddha statue in a corner and never place a Buddha directly on the floor. For obvious reasons, you don’t want to ever put a Buddha statue in a bathroom either.  Other talismans for good energetic protection include a Hamsa, the blue Evil Eye or a Quan Yin statue.

Top Feng Shui Tips for a Peaceful Home:

  • No mirror facing the entrance door
  • Clear quartz cluster in the entry to invite clean energy
  • Buddha statue or Hamsa for protection

Buddha statues, Himalayan salt lamps, crystals and Quan Yin in the entryway for good Feng Shui

What is Feng Shui

Feng shui is a centuries-old practice that incorporates the arrangement of items around you with energy flow. When you practice the system of Feng Shui, it is believed to bring more “good chi,” including better health, good relationships and success. Feng shui can unlock you from a rut and jump start your motivation again, simply by improving the energy flow around you. It can improve your spiritual health and well-being. What awaits you is a life filled with harmony and comfort—and it’s literally at your doorstep.

More on Spiritual Health:

Healthy Gift Ideas for the Holidays

I want to share with you some great gift ideas for your healthy friend, family member or loved one this holiday season. Admittedly, it’s not always easy to shop for health-oriented people like “us,” since we may have unusual or unconventional ideas of what we like. But don’t be afraid to read more! You don’t have to buy me an enema bag and organic coffee to make me happy, and I’m sure many other people will agree!

Check out the list below and maybe you will find the perfect gift for that special someone, even if they are a vegetarian or vegan, yogi tree-hugging minimalist living in a yurt or a tiny house.

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. I may receive compensation when you click on links to those products.  

Healthy Gift Ideas under $20

Need a small stocking stuffer for an office holiday party, secret Santa or just on a tight budget? Here are some nice, meaningful and extremely useful gifts for anyone interested in health and wellness:

  1.  Castor Oil Kit – This is especially great for liver/gallbladder cleansing and also useful in healing muscle or sports injuries. The kit contains castor oil, a wool cloth (note: wool may not be a suitable gift for all vegans) and cleaning wipes. Add in a heating pad for a complete ready-to-use at-home liver and gallbladder cleanse.
  2. Buddha Quote Poster – “Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened.” A beautiful quote and perfect poster for a sauna or meditation room.
  3. Green Smoothies for Dummies book – Plugging my own book here, but actually this is a great recipe book and an excellent resource for anyone who wants to start the new year right. One smoothie green per day is an fantastic New Year’s Resolution and can help anyone, no matter what your health goal.
  4. Himalayan Salt Lamp – These lamps provide a warm, natural glow. When heated, the lamp emits negative ions into the air; those are the clean “healthy” molecules of air that you get from the forest or the sea. This lamp is perfect for a meditation room or even at the desk of someone who works long hours at the office.
  5. Tibetan Meditation Singing Bowl – A beautiful gift for a enchanting chime to start and end a meditation practice. The sound is helpful for de-stressing, detoxing and releasing negative thoughts.

Other good stocking stuffers include: bamboo or charcoal toothbrushes, peppermint oil breath beadlets, a rose quartz heart stone, a zenergy chime and a feng shui crystal ball.

Healthy Gift Ideas under $50

  1. Osho Zen Tarot Cards – Do you know someone going through a lot of change and transition in their life right now? They may like the magical zen tarot set from Osho, complete with a book to explain each card.
  2. Bamboo wood digital LED clock – Adds a serene, minimalist feeling to any home, whether tiny or not!
  3. Squatty Potty – Ok, I know this one is close to the whole enema thing and may only be an appropriate gift for close family or friends…but seriously, if you someone you love is suffering from constipation, this could be the best gift they ever receive. With 60 to 70 million people affected by all digestive diseases, I would say there is a pretty good chance that someone you know needs a Squatty Potty!
  4. Amethyst Quartz Crystal Cluster – Amethyst helps promote relaxation and is known to help slow down the “monkey mind.” It’s especially helpful to have amethyst in the bedroom if you have trouble sleeping at night.
  5. Meditation Floor Chair with back support – If someone you love is working on their vision board and/or meditation room, then this is the perfect gift for them! These floor chairs make meditating SO much more comfortable, easy and enjoyable!

Healthy Gift Ideas under $100

  1. Create the perfect bath gift basket with a dry skin brush, Epsom salts, French almond soap, organic lavender oil, a lavender eye mask, castor oil and a hair towel, an aromatherapy candle, and a foot pumice stone. Does that sounds like a healing detox bath or what?! Find all of the items for your healing basket here.
  2. Organic cotton sheet set – splurge on a loved one with something they will use (and thank you for) every single day. Nothing is softer on the skin than organic cotton. If someone you love has trouble sleeping at night, this is a wonderful gift. (You can also help them feng shui their bedroom for more restful and peaceful sleep.)
  3. Rebounder or Mini-Trampoline – Great exercise for the circulatory system, including the lymphatic system. Just 5-10 minutes per day is all you need. Especially good for anyone with circulatory weakness or lymphatic-related conditions. This is also an excellent yet gentle for of detoxification for the body.

Healthy Gift Ideas under $300

  1. Chi machine – This machine helps stimulate and cleanse the lymphatic system, simply with the gentle back and forth movement it creates. It helps you feel more relaxed and energized at the same time. The machine is great for someone with limited movement due to illness, chemotherapy, or fatigue. It’s highly recommended for fibromyalgia and Multiple sclerosis (MS).
  2. Quartz Crystal Singing Bowl – This is truly a treat for the mind, body and soul! Anyone who is into meditation, zen gardens and/or energy healing will appreciate this gift to add to their home or office.
  3. Noise cancellation headphones – These are actually great for travel on airplanes, buses and trains when you want to listen to your audio book, meditation guide or affirmation CD without any distraction. Also highly recommended for people with anxiety, combined with an app for sleep music…with sounds of the forest, rain or sea..good for calming the nerves and relaxing the mind.

Healthy Gift Ideas over $1000

  1. Far Infrared Sauna – A daily sauna can help with detoxification, chronic pain, chronic fatigue, healing after chemotherapy, autism, chronic migraines and insomnia. It’s non-invasive and does not require any change of diet. This is a gift that can keep on giving for many years to come. 40-60 minutes per day is ideal.
  2. Amethyst BioMat – Once you try the biomat, you never go back! Nothing better for a total energy recharge and release of negative thoughts, stress and tension. The biomat is especially good for chronic pain, insomnia, chronic headaches, cancer, auto-immune diseases and depression.
  3. Organic bamboo charcoal pillow-top mattress – Ahhh, just the thought of this is making me sleepy! Really though, it’s a wonderful gift if you have the money to spend. I’m a big believer in having the best mattress, pillows and sheets, especially considering how important it is for your health to get a good night’s sleep!

I hope you found a few good ideas in what I’ve shared here. And if you don’t have the money or are not into gift-giving, that’s ok too! Spending quality time with the people you love is the most important thing, not spending money! Having a nice meal, sharing stories and laughter or just getting friends and family together – all of these are gifts that are not only important for our happiness, but also for our health.

Happiness, joy, laughter and love – all of these are alkaline-forming energies that help reduce blood pressure and boost the immune system. You definitely don’t need “things” to bring happiness and health into your life. But you do need love. And everyone needs more of that!!

More information on cleansing here:

Gallstone Liver Flush – Recipe & Cleanse Info

How to Do a Castor Oil Pack for Liver Cleansing

How to Do Onion Socks for Healing


More on anti-Aging:

3 BEST Detox Bath Recipes to help release toxins

Your skin is your largest organ in the body and it’s also an elimination organ, and can release toxins from the body. A healing bath using the right combination of ingredients can really help with the detoxification process. Read more below to find out my favorite detox bath recipes!

All information in this article is for educational purposes only.
It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition.

For the vision board: This is the perfect outdoor bath!

Detox Bath Preparation

You can either use a bathtub for a full body soak or a rectangular bucket to soak just the feet for your detox bath. A foot bath works really well for either elderly folks or for people who are too ill or injured to get in and out of a tub. If you are using a bathtub, make sure the tub is clean before you prepare your bath.

Detox Bath Recipe #1: For a detox reaction or healing crisis

If you’re experiencing a healing crisis on your detox, take a restorative bath. It’s one of the best and fastest way to reduce the detox reaction. While preparing the bath, connect your phone or tablet to youtube for some inspiring Louise Hay or Esther Hicks audio. In the bath, repeat your positive affirmations out loud. This can really help to dissolve any fear or worry with what you are feeling. Always keep the mind on the right track while the body heals.

Next, prepare a glass and bottle of distilled water to keep next to your bath. Drinking distilled water during a detox reaction can greatly help pass the crisis faster. Distilled water binds to heavy metals and toxins to safely release them through the kidneys and urine.

Add the ingredients below to the bath. Soak in the tub for a minimum of 20 minutes (40 minutes is better). If you don’t have distilled water to drink, then prepare a cup of organic chamomile tea to enjoy during or after your bath.

Epsom Salt Detox Bath Recipe

Add the following to the bath water:

  • 1 1/2 cup Epsom Salts
  • 1/4 cup baking soda (bicarbonate soda)
  • 10-15 drops organic lavender oil

Optional; for added relaxation: Add 1 amethyst crystal (either polished or rough)  to the bath. 

If you’re still not feeling your best after the bath, try a castor oil pack on the liver or a coffee enema to further assist the body in detoxification.

Detox Bath Recipe #2: For clear skin

This healing bath is especially good for rashes, itchy skin, hives, outbreaks, acne, inflammation, red patches or even puffiness in the ankles, hands and feet. Remember, your skin is the largest organ in the body, and it’s also an elimination organ, meaning it helps the body release toxins. Any affliction in the skin is a sign that your body is not eliminating well. This bath is designed to open up the pores in the skin and help speed up the detox or removal of toxins.

Prepare a bath of warm water. Don’t make the water too hot as it can scald the skin. You should be able to comfortable submerge your entire hand in the water. That way, you know the temperature is ok. If you want to also give an extra conditioning treatment to your hair, then apply organic castor oil to your hair, gently rubbing it in, before you enter the bath. Rinse and wash the hair thoroughly after.

Prepare a cup of fresh parsley or dried uva ursi tea to drinking during or after your bath.

Skin Detox Bath Recipe

Add the following to the bath water:

  • 1 cup liquid bentonite clay
  • 2 Tbsp. raw organic apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. organic aloe vera juice
  • 3-5 drops organic rosemary oil

Find all the above ingredients on iherb.com here

For any residual inflammation, soreness or itchy feeling after your bath, try applying cold liquid bentonite clay on the skin once its dry. The cool feeling helps to soothe any fire or burn and the clay naturally draws toxins out of the skin.

Detox Bath #3: For muscle aches and pains

A healing bath can provide wonderful relief from muscle aches, pains and stiff neck and menstrual pain too. Before you enter the bath, use a dry skin brush to gently massage the lymphatic system. Brush the skin using gentle strokes. If you are having pain, then the direction of your brush strokes should be away from the heart (towards the hands and feet).

Prepare a cup of organic sage tea to drinking during or after your bath.

Restorative Muscle Bath Recipe

Add the following to the bath water:

  • 2 cups Epsom salts
  • 2 Tbsp. organic castor oil
  • 8-10 drops organic sage oil

Find all the above ingredients on iherb.com here

After your bath, you can prepare a castor oil pack with heating pad on the sore muscle or stiff neck. Keep the pack applied for 40-60 minutes. (To learn more about the healing benefits of castor oil, check out the book That Oil That Heals: A Physician’s Success with Castor Oil.)

Read more on detox here:

Gallstone Liver Flush – Recipe & Cleanse Info

How to Do Onion Socks for Healing

How to Eat Clean: Start with Green Smoothies!

Green Smoothie for DummiesCheck out my book Green Smoothies for Dummies – I’ve got loads of recipes using dark leafy greens and many delicious combos without any chemical additives, flavorings or refined sugar. It’s so easy!

Clean your body from the inside out and watch your skin improve, your hair and nails get stronger, your eyes look brighter and your waistline slim down….all naturally and effortlessly! It’s simply amazing and your only regret will be that you didn’t start drinking green smoothies sooner.

When you take care of your whole body, you get whole body health.

When you let your food be your medicine, you are always moving towards better health.

Find the book Green Smoothies for Dummies on iTunes or amazon.com!


For more on how to achieve your health goals and actually start feeling great, book a private health consult with me via Skype.

How to Book Your Health & Nutritional Coaching Session:

1. Take photos of your eyes with a smart phone or digital camera.
2. Email the photos to me for approval for Iridology Analysis.
3. We schedule a time to meet via phone or Skype!


More on anti-Aging:

Are farmers getting CANCER from pesticides sold at Home Depot?

Friends, your health matters, at least to me!  This is something you need to know. Poisons are being marketed and sold to us to use freely on our gardens, fruit, vegetables, flowers, lawns and precious earth. This one particular pesticide is used everywhere, from huge agricultural farms to your neighbor next door, who can easily buy it at Lowes and Home Depot just down the road from you. In July 2017, the State of California added this pesticide under Proposition 65 as “known to the state to cause cancer.” In the EU, it’s currently under discussion for vote on a ban of the chemical by 2020.

All information in this article is for educational purposes only. 
It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition. 

If someone offered you a salad dressing that was known to cause cancer, would you add it to your plate? Of course not! Well, unfortunately…this pesticide is already in the salad! Even in some “organic” foods too!! (You can understand why we moved to the mountains to start growing our own food. Scroll down below to find out what you can do NOW to improve your food at home.)

The world today is currently undergoing a slow and painful death and there is no smoking gun since this pesticide has very sneakily been added to our food supply for the last 4 decades and wrongly labeled as “safe” for the sake of profit. It’s in everything from corn, barley, sugar beets, oats, potatoes, sunflower, soy and canola oil, and the list goes on and on. Of course it’s in the feed given to cows and chickens, so that means it’s even more concentrated in meat, eggs and dairy. Recently, this pesticide was even detected in (non-GMO) Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. In fact, it’s so heavily used that it’s been detected in the water and air. (Do you think the average organic farm is really free from this stuff, and especially considering that most “organic” produce sold in the USA comes from Mexico?) While this pesticide is most commonly used on Genetically Modified (GMO) crops, it can also be used and found in conventional crops as well.

It’s not only in the United States

In Europe, where it’s widely thought to be “better than the United States” for all things related to what’s allowed in foods, you will find this pesticide all over the place. In fact, it’s so pervasive that its residues were recently found in 45% of Europe’s topsoil – and in the urine of three quarters of Germans tested, at five times the legal limit for drinking water. Its residues have been found in biscuits, crackers, crisps, breakfast cereals and in 60% of breads sold in the UK. (Can you imagine how much worse it must be in the US then?!)

I see normal everyday people buying this pesticide at Lowes and Home Depot, actually bragging about how great it works to kill things like poison oak, invasive multi flora rose, or bamboo (without realizing that it’s killing them too!).

Could the dramatic decline in honey bee populations all over the world in recent years be linked to this pesticide as well?

Link to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

This particular pesticide has been heavily linked to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL). With NHL, the cancer starts in the white blood cells of the lymphatic system, all of which are part of the body’s immune system. In non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, tumors develop from lymphocytes – a type of white blood cell.

Symptoms of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma include:

  • Painless, swollen lymph nodes in the neck, armpits or groin.
  • Abdominal pain or swelling.
  • Chest pain, coughing or trouble breathing.
  • Persistent fatigue, lethargy, feeling of tiredness.
  • Fever.
  • Night sweats.
  • Loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, weight loss.
  • Skin rash or itchy skin (pruritus).
  • Difficulty moving parts of the body.
  • Pain in the chest, abdomen or bones for no known reason.

Are you ready to know the name of this pesticide?  Since I don’t want to get trolled or harassed by the company who manufactures this chemical, I’ll write it in this way:

R..O..U..N..D..U..P  also known as  G..l..y..p..h..o..s..a..t..e  made by  M..o..n..s..a..n..t..o

Farmers using this pesticide who got NHL cancer

March 2016 – The family of Cambria, California farmer Jack McCall, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against M.o.n.s.a.n.t.o, claiming that McCall’s cancer was caused by R.o.u.n.d.u.p exposure. McCall was diagnosed with a rare form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma after using R.o.u.n.d.u.p for nearly 30 years on his 20-acre fruit and vegetable farm. He died in December of 2015 after suffering a massive stroke due to complications from cancer.

February 2016 – California couple James and Brenda Huerta filed a R.o.u.n.d.u.p cancer lawsuit against M.o.n.s.a.n.t.o claiming exposure to g.l.y.p.h.o.s.a.t.e caused Brenda to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The R.o.u.n.d.u.p cancer lawsuit claims that both were exposed to the herbicide while living on a sod farm where g.l.y.p.h.o.s.a.t.e was sprayed between 2004 and 2008.

November 2015 – Christine Sheppard owned and worked on a coffee farm in Hawaii between 1995 and 2004. For around eight years, she relied on M.o.n.s.a.n.t.o R.o.u.n.d.u.p [g.l.y.p.h.o.s.a.t.e] to kill weeds on her farm. Sheppard alleges her exposure to R.o.u.n.d.u.p is the cause of her non-Hodgkin lymphoma. In her R.o.u.n.d.u.p cancer lawsuit, she claims that M.o.n.s.a.n.t.o failed to warn the public about the dangers of g.l.y.p.h.o.s.a.t.e.

(The above info resource link here.) 

The list goes on and on. In 2015, 200 people filed a class action lawsuit in California against the maker of this pesticide.

People just don’t know and that’s the problem

Here’s a big part of the problem: the public perception of risk is low. Would you really think your Kona coffee grown on the hills of the Big Island of Hawaii could be loaded with a cancer-causing pesticide? Or you hippie-loving Ben and Jerry’s ice cream? It’s really hard to convince people that these seemingly healthy products could be contaminated.

Last year I was at a weekend farmer’s market her in Western North Carolina. There was a nice man selling “farm fresh artisanal” goat cheese. We got to talking, and I casually asked him about what he feeds the goats. He explained to me that he doesn’t have his own goats. Instead, he buys the milk from 2 different local goat farmers. I asked if the farmers used non-GMO feed. He exclaimed, “No way! They can’t afford that, and I couldn’t afford to buy their milk if they did!.” I was in shock. I think it took half a minute for me to say something! What’s even more shocking is that his cheese sells for $12-15 per piece! And for that, you’re getting a GMO product (along with the cancer-causing pesticides)!! Every time I’ve been to that market since, his booth is packed with customers. Sadly, I’m sure they have no idea what they are really getting. (In his defense, I can only say that perhaps he, like many others, just doesn’t know or understand the problem.)

The numbers say it all

Look at the charts below to get a better understanding of what we are really dealing with. To understand the severity of these findings, remember, research shows that probable harm to human health begins at really low levels of exposure – only 0.1 ppb. And yes, the manufacturer of that chemical is trying desperately hide that number for the general public! Below, you can see for yourself that many foods were found to have over 1,000 times this amount!  Also note that you see organic foods on the list too. This should be on the front page of every newspaper!!

What You can do: 5 Easy Steps

Hopefully by now, you are wondering, what can I do to improve my health and stay away from this chemical?! This is something that I will go into more and more in future posts, to help you navigate through this maze and find better ways to detoxify your body so you don’t have too much accumulation of any chemical or heavy metal. In the meantime, some things you can do now:

  1. Avoid buying organic produce from Mexico. Since we have no idea what’s it the soil, water or otherwise…it’s just a risk not worth taking. Organic produce from USA may not be much better, but at least there is a chance! (And when you see the difference in price between organic from Mexico vs. organic from California, doesn’t it make you wonder??)
  2. Avoid bottled water, unless it’s distilled water. Don’t waste your money on anything other than distilled water…and at least the distilled water can help bind and transport heavy metals out of the body. We drink freshly collected mountain spring water and distilled water in our home.
  3. DON’T BUY or USE R.O.U.N.D.U.P !!! Not for any reason! I cannot emphasize this enough. If people stop buying this crap, the company will suffer. Let your lawn and flowers and bamboo do want they want…which is grow! If you don’t like a particular weed, pull it out of the ground. Would you rather have no weeds and cancer, or no cancer and weeds? It’s a no brainer!
  4. Avoid foods from China. This is easier said than done and takes a bit of learning to figure out what common foods are imported from China. Garlic is a good example. Nearly all conventional fresh garlic sold in supermarkets today comes from China.  An easy upgrade for you and your family is to buy locally grown certified organic garlic (or grow your own, like we do!).
  5. Avoid packaged snack foods. Use only certified organic spices. Use whole organic ingredients (preferably locally grown) and make meals from from scratch whenever possible.

Ready to do even more? Start planting more pollinating flowers outside your home or apartment. And don’t use any chemicals on them! Give the honey bees a chance to survive with some decent clean food. I’ve found that the bees in our area really love organic catnip, lavender, sage and delphinium – all of which are pretty easy to grow.

How to Eat Clean: Start with Green Smoothies!

Green Smoothie for DummiesCheck out my book Green Smoothies for Dummies – I’ve got loads of recipes using dark leafy greens and many delicious combos without any chemical additives, flavorings or refined sugar. It’s so easy!

Clean your body from the inside out and watch your skin improve, your hair and nails get stronger, your eyes look brighter and your waistline slim down….all naturally and effortlessly! It’s simply amazing and your only regret will be that you didn’t start drinking green smoothies sooner.

When you take care of your whole body, you get whole body health.

When you let your food be your medicine, you are always moving towards better health.

Find the book Green Smoothies for Dummies on iTunes or amazon.com!


For more on how to achieve your health goals and actually start feeling great, book a private health consult with me via Skype.

How to Book Your Health & Nutritional Coaching Session:

1. Take photos of your eyes with a smart phone or digital camera.
2. Email the photos to me for approval for Iridology Analysis.
3. We schedule a time to meet via phone or Skype!


More on Food Labels:

More on Food Additives and Food Allergies:

More on Genetically Engineering Foods:

Knowing Botanical Food Families for Cross-Reactivity Allergies

If you have any food sensitivities, intolerances or allergies, then it’s definitely important to check this Botanical Food Family list. When you have a sensitivity to one food, you may also have a “cross-reactivity” or sensitivity to other foods within the same botanical family. A cross-reactivity can occur when the proteins in one allergen food are like the proteins in another. Foods within the same botanical family often contain similar proteins. If you are sensitive to one particular food within a botanical family, you may also be sensitive to other foods within the same family of foods.

All information in this article is for educational purposes only. 
It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition. 

Check the Botanical Food Family List against your allergies

Testing for food allergies can also become tricky due to the occurrence of cross-reactivity. You may get a positive test for a food that has the same protein as another food, and it’s the other food that you are more sensitive or allergic too. For that reason, it’s always important to check the Botanical Food Family list for any sensitivity or allergy that you may think you have. Then, be on the lookout for other foods within the same botanical family. Note that tree nut allergies are especially prone to cross-reactivity sensitivities.

The 8 most common food allergies (also known as “the Big 8”) include:

  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Crustacean shellfish
  • Tree nuts
  • Peanuts
  • Wheat
  • Soybean

Food Allergy

The “Big 8” account for about 90% of all food allergies in the United States. However, most people don’t have a true allergy to a food. A true food allergy occurs when the immune system makes a type of antibody (called IgE) to proteins in a particular food. The antibody is created because the body looks at that protein as an invader or a toxin and tried to eradicate it. This IgE reaction can be tested in a food allergy test. Usually with a food allergy, the reaction occurs very quickly and is severe. Often times there is a feeling of throat tightness. Anaphylaxis and loss of consciousness can also occur. If you have are having an allergic reaction, you should always seek medical attention immediately.

Food Intolerance

Most people do not have a true “IgE reaction” to a food. Rather, they fall within the grey area of food intolerance. A food intolerance can still make you feel miserable, and cause reactions such as skin rashes, itching, hives, urticaria, swelling of the skin, nausea, stomach cramps, headaches, insomnia, vomiting, diarrhea, breathing difficulty (wheezing, repeated throat clearing, cough) and even pain in the joints. But, you can’t get a positive IgE test result. The best way to identify a food intolerance is to eliminate that food, and then re-assess your symptoms. To learn more about the difference between a food allergy and a food intolerance, go here. In some cases, we need to develop a clear outline for an elimination diet where we eliminate foods in an ordered approach. In these cases, we also need to be on the lookout for any cross-reactivity within the same botanical family of foods.

Food Additive Intolerance

In addition to having food intolerances or allergies, I find that a lot of people are sensitive to certain additives in foods. This is something we always need to consider when anyone is having a chronic condition. Even 100% certified organic products can contain certain problematic food additives. The categories I work mostly with include flavor enhancers, colorings, preservatives and stabilizers/emulsifiers. This is an area that many nutritionists and health practitioners are not aware of, and many of my clients have gone through several healers with no avail before finding me. Their first comments are usually in the realm of, “Wow, I’m not crazy after all!” and “I wish I had found you sooner!” Food additives are often hidden under other terms. There are many legal loopholes that food companies use to “hide” the additives in “so-called healthy” foods.

Botanical Families of Foods

Use the list below as a reference for better understanding your food allergy or intolerance. Note that fish and shellfish are also included below, even though they’re not in a plant kingdom family. What’s most important is to get to know your body and how it’s reacting to certain proteins in foods. Long-term, working on improving your gut health will also help to lessen the chance of developing more allergies. The importance of digestive health and bacterial balance is not to be underestimated. In fact, a recent study from Australia just proved that 2/3 of peanut allergies were reversed after giving the patients specific probiotics (source: Murdoch Children’s Research Institute).

Check this list for Cross Reactivity!

Botanical Food Family List

Apple Family (Rose Family): Apple, Apple Cider, Apple Vinegar, Apple Pectin, Quince, Pear (The apple family is part of the bigger rose family)

Arrowroot: Arrowroot

Arum Family: Dasheen, Poi, Taro

Banana: Banana, Plantain

Birch: Filbert, Hazelnut

Brazil Nut: Brazil Nut

Buckwheat: Buckwheat, Garden Sorrel, Rhubarb

Cactus: Cactus, Prickly Pear, Tequila

Capers: Capers Cashew: Cashew, Mango, Pistachio

Cereals: Bamboo Shoots; Barley; Barley, Malt; Bran (wheat); Cane sugar; Cane Molasses; Chestnut, Water; Chestnut, Ling nut; Chestnut, Singhara nut; Corn ; Corn Meal ; Corn Starch ; Corn Oil ; Corn Sugar; Corn syrup; Corn dextrose; Corn glucose ; Corn cerelose; Farina (wheat); Graham flour (wheat) ; Gluten flour (wheat) ; Millet; Patent Flour (wheat); Oats; Rice; Rye; Sorghum; Wheat; Wheat flour; Wheat Germ; Wheat (whole) flour; Wild Rice.

Citrus: Angostura; Citrange; Citron; Grapefruit; Kumquat; Lemon; Lime; Orange; Tangerine

Cochliospermum Family: Karaya Gum, Guaiac Gum

Composite Family (Aster): Absinthe; Artichoke; Artichoke, Jerusalem; Calomel; Celtuse; Chicory; Dandelion; Endive; Escarole; Head Lettuce; Lettuce, Leaf ; Lettuce; Oyster Plant, Salsify; Sesame Seeds/ Oil; Sunflower/ Oil/ Seeds; Vermouth; Vermouth (Ragweed); Vermouth (Pyrethrum); Yarrow.

Crustaceans: Crab; Crayfish; Lobster; Prawns; Shrimp.

Cyperaceae Family (a Sedge): Chinese Waterchestnut

Curry Powder: not a single food but a blend of spices.

Ebony: Persimmon Flax – Linseed oil, flaxseed, flaxseed oil

Fresh Water Fish: Bass, Catfish, Croaker, Perch, Pike, Salmon, Smelt, Trout, Whitefish.

Fungus: Mushroom, Yeast/Antibiotics.

Ginger: Arrowroot, Cardamon, Ginger, Turmeric

Gooseberry: Currant, Gooseberry

Goosefoot (Beet): Beet, Sugar; Chard, Kochia, Lambs Quarters, Spinach, Thistle.

Gourd (Melon): Casaba; Cantaloupe; Cucumber; Honey Dew; Muskmelon; Persian Melon; Pumpkin; Squash; Vegetable Marrow; Water Melon. Grape: Brandy; Champagne; Crème of Tartar; Grape; Raisin; Wine; Wine Vinegar.

Heath: Cranberry, Blueberry, Huckleberry, Wintergreen.

Holly: Mate.

Honeysuckle: Elderberry.

Iris: Saffron. Laurel: Avocado, Bay Leaves, Camphor, Cinnamon, Laurel, Sassafras.

Legume: Acacia; Acacia Gum; Alfalfa; Arabic; Black-eyed pea; Carob; Carob (St. John’s Bread); Cassia; Chick Pea; Field Pea; Green Bean; Green Pea; Guar gum; Jack bean; Karaya Gum; Kidney bean; Lentil; Licorice; Lima bean; Locust Bean Gum; Mungo Bean; Navy Bean; Peanut; Peanut oil; Pinto Bean; Soybean; Soybean oil/flour/lecithin; Split Pea; String Bean; Talca Gum; Tamarind; Tonka bean; Tragancanth Gum; Urd Flour.

Lily: Asparagus, Chives, Garlic, Leek, Onion, Sparsparilla.

Litchi: Litchi Nut.

Mallow: Cottonseed meal, Cottonseed oil, Okra.

Maple: Maple syrup and maple sugar.

Miscellaneous: Honey (watch if you are allergic to bee venom).

Mint: Basil, Horehound, Marjoram, Mint, Oregano, Peppermint, Rosemary, Sage, Savoury, Spearmint, Thyme.

Mussels: Abalone, Clam, Mussel, Oyster, Scallop, Squid.

Morning Glory: Jicama, Sweet Potato, Yam.

Mulberry: Breadfruit, Fig, Hops, Mulberry.

Mustard: Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Celery Cabbage, Chinese Cabbage, Collard, Colza Shoots, Kale, Kohlrabi, Kraut, Horse Radish, Mustard, Mustard Greens, Radish, Rutabaga, Turnips, Watercress.

Myrtle: Allspice, Cloves, Eucalyptus, Guava, Paprika, Pimento.

Nightshade: Brinjal, Cayenne, Capsicum, Eggplant, Ground Cherry, Banana Pepper, Bell Pepper, Chili Pepper, Green Pepper, Red Pepper, Sweet Pepper, Paprika, Pimento, Potato, Tabasco, Thorn Apple, Tobacco, Tomato.

Nutmeg: Mace, Nutmeg.

Olive: Olive, olive oil.

Orchid: Vanilla

Palm: Coconut, Date, Palm Cabbage, Sago.

Parsley: Angelica, Anise, Carrots, Celery, Celeriac, Caraway, Celery Seed, Coriander, Cumin, Dill, Fennel, Parsley, Parsnips, Sweet Cicily, Water Celery.

Pawpaw: Pawpaw, papaya, papain.

Pepper: Black pepper, white pepper.

Pine: Juniper, Pinion nut.

Pineapple: Pineapple.

Plum: Almond, Apricot, Cherry, Nectarine, Peach, Plum, Prune Plum.

Pomegranate: Pomegranate.

Poppy: Poppy seed.

Rose: Blackberry, Boysenberry, Dewberry, Loganberry, Strawberry, Youngberry. (see also Apple family).

Salt Water Fish: Bass, Cod, Flounder, Herring, Mackerel, Mullet, Salmon.

Spurge: Tapioca.

Stercula: Cocoa, Cola Bean, Chocolate (Cocoa).

Tea: Tea.

Walnut: Butternut, Hickory nut, Pecan, Black Walnut, English Walnut.

This list is from http://www.foodallergygourmet.com/


How to Book Your Health & Nutritional Coaching Session:

1. Take photos of your eyes with a digital camera.
2. Email the photos to me for approval.
3. We schedule a time to meet via phone or Skype!

More on Food Allergies:

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The BEST natural remedy for your pet’s health!

In a recent blogpost, I praised the healing powers of castor oil. But what I wanted to share with you today was how we even use castor oil on our dog. In my opinion, it’s simply the best natural remedy to have at home for pets. You can use it on your pets too!

All information in this article is for educational purposes only. 
It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition. 

Finally, a chance to feature Ella on my blog <3

Ella has benefited from the healing effects of castor oil. After she got spayed, she was understandably in a lot of pain. I was worried because she’s a big dog (more than 85 pounds of pure Great Pyrenees love) and she was having a difficult time walking after the procedure. When she arrived home, I immediately applied castor oil on her belly around the incision, but not directly on the stitches. I noticed an almost immediate improvement in her pain levels and ability to get up/walk/move in just a few hours. I continued to apply it twice daily for 2 weeks after her surgery. She healed perfectly with no infections or problems. I do believe the castor oil sped up the process of healing for her. Funny enough, during that time I noticed she would lick my hands after I applied the oil and I realized that she really liked the taste! So, I started adding 1 Tbsp. of castor oil to her food daily. After a few months of her eating this small amount of castor oil daily, I really noticed a major improvement in her coat. Her hair was thicker, softer and fuller…to the point where now, people comment on her fur every time we take her out. “That’s the fluffiest dog I’ve ever seen!” is something we hear all the time now. Before the castor oil, I cannot recall anyone commenting on her fur. One small word of advice on this – if you do decide to give castor oil to your dog, only add it once a day and to the morning food only. Because castor oil does have a natural laxative effect, adding it to an evening meal can make a dog have to go in the middle of the night. And I’m sure neither you nor your dog wants that!

After so much success with castor oil, I did some further research and found that it’s also helpful for ear infections, ringworm, itchy rashes, ear mites and even fleas. I immediately thought again of our lovely dog Ella and how she was often irritated with her ears, trying to scratch or shake her head all too often. Many times, I would check her ears and could see signs of red inflammation.

So, I bought a glass dropper and poured castor oil pus several drops of organic tea tree oil inside. Now, when I see her having any ear problems, I will place 1-2 drops of organic castor oil in each ear and rub the ear after. I try to do this at night before she goes to bed. Amazingly, the next day I can see that she’s no longer irritated, no longer scratching and when I check the ears, they are a good healthy color again.

I love having natural remedies that work for everyone at home, including our animals!

More Motivation:

What’s in your drinking water? Enter your zip code and find out!

A new database from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) shows exactly what’s in your tap water. All you need to do is enter your zip code. If there are any suspect contaminants potentially linked to cancer, brain and nervous system damage, fertility problems or hormone disruption, it will be listed for you and everyone else to see. It’s an incredible resource of information!

All information in this article is for educational purposes only. 
It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition. 

Find out what’s in your water and how to clean it up too

EWG calls their database the most complete source on the quality of U.S. drinking water, pulling data from almost 50,000 public water utilities from 2010-2015. Dr. Andrews, a senior scientist for EWG, says this should be used as an informational tool for people to look up what’s in their water and goes beyond a water quality report.

“We’re really highlighting the water contaminates that were found. We show the legal limit and then we also show a health guideline value,” said Dr. Andrews.

The “health guideline” is a number that has been set by health and environmental agencies and from the EWG’s own research. These are stricter guidelines than what the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires by law.

Go to the website, type in your zip code, and you will immediately see whether there are any contaminants that were detected above the health guidelines in your local drinking water. You can then click on each contaminant and see how the numbers compare to what’s in the state and national averages. There is also information on what type of health risk is associated with that particular contaminant, whether it be a cancer risk, developmental defect, harm to fetal growth, harm to thyroid function or other risk. In addition, there is a note if any particular contaminant cannot be filtered out of the water, like hormones, for example.

To see the EWG’s drinking water report for your area, click HERE and enter your zip code.
It’s completely FREE!

To find out how to clean up your water, scroll to the bottom of this article.

An example of the EWG water database: NYC Water

I’ve included a few screen shots of the EWG database and how it works, using the New York City System as an example. The first paragraph in this example tells you that the tap water provided by this utility was in violation of federal health-based drinking water standards.

New York City System: Serves: 8,954,086 Data available: 2010-2015

Scrolling down, you will next see how many contaminants were detected above health guidelines:

Includes chemicals detected that exceeded the EWG-selected health guideline

Then, you’ll see the list of what those contaminants are, with the associated health risk in italics next to each:

Click on the symbol to the right to read more about each contaminant

Click on the “+” symbol and find out the levels detected, compared to the national and state average:

Time to start shopping for a water filter…

While the known lifetime risk for this one contaminant may be small, consider that you have multiple contaminants in one sample of water alone. And that doesn’t include the other chemicals and pesticides in your food, body products, cleaning agents, clothing, medications, hair dyes, tattoo dyes, make-up and so-on. A whole lot of a little bit can add up to a whole lot. No wonder liver cancer is now the fastest growing cancer in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society. (They conducted the study and released the results in June 2017.)

Any known lifetime health risks are listed, with the source

What’s even more amazing about this database is that they also list where the contaminants are most likely coming from. This section is called “The Pollution Sources”:

Click on the icon to see more detail about each pollution source

I’ve clicked on “Agriculture” and I can now see what pollution from agricultural waste is in the water. I’m still in the NYC water system example:

Another reason to buy ORGANIC food

Finally, you will see if your local drinking water was in violation of any legally mandated federal standards:

Is there a “dirty water discount” on our water bill?Don’t think so…!

If you’d like to see the EWG’s report for your area, click HERE.

How can I clean up my drinking water?

If your tap water isn’t coming up so clean, you can install a reverse osmosis (RO) + ultraviolet (UV) filter on your kitchen tap at home. You can buy it online (here is an example on amazon) for about $200-$300 and have a plumber install it for you. The RO/UV filter usually removes up to 99% of contaminants including lead, fluoride, chlorine, arsenic, bacteria, virus, heavy metals, etc. Don’t be fooled into using a cheap, charcoal filter on a simple plastic jug. It’s a waste of time. Invest in a better filter, connected straight to the tap. Not a lot of money spent for a whole lot of return: your health!

If you are on well water (like me), you can test your own water at home using one of many water testing kits available for sale on amazon. I prefer to test a few contaminants, in that case, you may have to buy a few different kits. There is one available for lead, mercury and cadmium here; and another one for arsenic here. Finally, for nitrites and bacteria, there is another test kit here. For well water, it’s really best to do all the tests because you need to know any potential contaminants, and there is no municipal database to check!

Symptoms of heavy metal toxicity can vary. No matter what, the first step to detox heavy metals is to eliminate the source. From there, you can start to reclaim and regain your health.


For more on how to achieve your health goals and actually start feeling great, book a private health consult with me via Skype.

How to Book Your Health & Nutritional Coaching Session:

1. Take photos of your eyes with a smart phone or digital camera.
2. Email the photos to me for approval for Iridology Analysis.
3. We schedule a time to meet via phone or Skype!


More on Detox:

More on Liver Cleansing:

Can your eyes change colors on a juice fast?

This is a question that I’ve been asked a lot over the years: “Can my eyes change colors from doing a detox, juice fast, master cleanse or even from becoming vegan/vegetarian?”

The other question that a lot of people have is: “Should my eyes change colors if I am doing a lot of detox, and if they are not changing, does that mean the cleanse or master fast isn’t working?”

All information in this article is for educational purposes only. 
It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition. 

Iridology and Detox/Fasting/Cleansing

First, let me address the first question; that is, can the eyes change? The short answer is: Yes. (The long answer is: No.) Keep reading to find out why!

What can happen in certain eye colors is that layers of coloration can dissipate after the body gets cleaner, whether it’s from a detox or positive change in diet. The most common color changes you may experience are:

  • Green eye turning blue
  • Grey eye turning blue
  • Brown eye turning green

Let me explain each one.

1. Green eye turning blue. The green hue usually occurs from a buildup of uric acid in the body. In Iridology, we would call this a “uric acid subtype by color.” During cleansing or a significant change in diet, old, accumulated uric acid waste may be released through the kidneys and skin. Often times this person had a history of skin problems before. The skin is sometimes called the “3rd kidney,” because when the kidneys are overworked, they will often give their excess work to the skin. The real problem behind the scenes is the kidneys and poor elimination of metabolic wastes. Once the uric acid is released, the yellow hue on the eye may lessen, making a green eye appear more blue in color. (It was always a blue eye actually, which is why the long answer is: No. More on that below….)

2.  Grey eye turning blue. A grey eye may have an over acid condition in the body. In Iridology, we would call this an “over acid subtype by color.” From a distance, the eye looks grey but when you look up close, you can see more white fibers on top of the blue fibers. This may indicate an imbalance of pH in the body. Usually it comes from too many acid-forming foods in the diet (such as coffee, wheat, refined sugar, processed foods), and not enough alkaline-forming foods (fresh fruits and vegetables). Prescription medication can also make the body acidic. A chronic over-acid condition in the body creates a tendency to be more stiff in the joints and a higher risk for a weakened immune system. Many people will suffer from chronic acid reflux or GERD for years, not knowing that the acid problem they have is actually a huge red warning flag for their health. The body is trying to expel the excess acid waste on its own! Eventually you may be more likely to have another health problem down the road, whether it be arthritis, gastritis, diverticulitis, auto-immune disease or even cancer. When a person switches to an alkaline diet (more fruits and vegetables) or does any type of detox that flushes out acid waste, those white fibers in the eyes may start to fade. The end result is that the blue fibers underneath start showing more, and the eye appears to have changed in color, from grey to blue.

3.  Brown eye turning green. This is probably the most profound change you may see, and that’s a brown eye changing color to green, or even in some cases blue. How is it even possible? The “brown” eye is a “mixed eye color” in Iridology, or a Biliary constitution. It’s not actually a true brown eye. While from a distance it can appear more brown in color, when you look up close you will see yellow, orange, brown and sometimes even blue fibers in the eye. In a true brown eye, you will see only brown up close. The “mixed eye” is what I call a “mood ring eye” or a “cat eye.” It’s very changeable in color, depending on the lighting and background colors. Different conditions in lighting may pick up different colors in the eye, making it appear more or less yellow, orange, etc. My clients with this eye color will sometimes tell me they have a “honey colored eye.” During the process of cleansing, as the kidneys strengthen and the overall toxicity lessens, these darker colors may start to break up in the eye. The yellow and blue fibers remaining may make the eye appear green. In some cases, the yellow fibers may also lessen in color, leaving more blue fibers and giving the look of a blue eye.

You may be wondering, “Why is the long answer “No”?” In Iridology, there is no such thing as a green eye, a grey eye or an amber, light brown or honey-colored eye. There are only 2 natural eye colors: blue (Lymphatic constitution) and true brown (Hematogenic constitution). Those honey eyes are known are the “mixed eye” color, or Biliary constitution. Biliary eyes can also be brown, darker brown, green or orange in color. (Note: it’s not always easy to identify the difference between a Lymphatic and Biliary person and always better to consult with a Certified Iridologist.) In Iridology, a “green eye” is a blue eye with a yellow hue (it could be uric acid but may also be other things as well/uric acid is the most common). The “grey eye” is a blue eye that may have toxicity in the colon or an over-acid subtype by color (it may also be other things as well). A “brown eye” may be a blue eye with several other subtypes by structure or color, making the eye appear brown in color from a distance. So, you can see how the eyes don’t really change in color after all; they just start showing their original, dominant color more. Of course, healing occurred still, and that’s what is most important!

As an experienced Iridologist, I can tell you many stories about eyes I’ve seen change over the years and health conditions that improved for people after fasting. Could it just be a coincidence? Maybe or maybe not!

  • Stomach enzymes may improve
  • Overall pH can may more alkaline
  • Uric acid may be released
  • Skin may show healing
  • Lymphatic system may clear
  • Blood may become cleaner and more active (more “chi energy in the body”)
  • Kidneys may strengthen
  • Colon may clear toxins/mucous
  • Liver may improve
  • Layers of toxic accumulation may release
  • Stress and old tension may be released
  • Even molecules of emotion may release!

Note: Iridology does NOT diagnose disease.

Many changes that may appear in the eye are too subtle for an untrained eye to see. Usually it will take at least 10 days of cleansing (and preferably more, up to 21 days is better) to see real changes in the iris. Don’t try to identify markers yourself, unless you are working with a qualified Iridologist. The reason why is that you may not catch all the important points to consider, and you may not understand how certain markers affect other markers in the eye. And of course, you probably won’t know which things should change first and which marks may take longer to change, if at all. That can set you up for unnecessary disappointment and/or unrealistic expectations in your healing.

That leads me to the final question: “Should my eyes change colors if I am doing a lot of detox, and if they are not changing, does that mean the cleanse or master fast isn’t working?”

Not everyone is going to experience a dramatic eye color change with their healing journey. That said, an Iridologist should be able to see some positive change still, even if it’s not a full change in eye color. Some markings in Iridology are inherent, meaning they will not change. Most important is to pay attention to how you feel and what your body is showing you. Are your energy levels better, has your sleep improved, are your eyes brighter in the whites (or sclera), is your mind sharper, has your body odor lessened, has your elimination improved? Are you feeling happier and more at peace with yourself? If you’ve answered yes to most of those questions, then your detox program has worked and you should consider it a success, regardless of your eye color!

One more important point, not to be underestimated. There are 2 parts to healing, don’t forget: 1/2 is elimination and the other 1/2 is rebuilding. Too often people get locked into the detox-detox-detox phase and they forget to stop and rebuild. Too much elimination leads to a low vitamin, mineral and alkaline reserve. Other people swing back and forth from detox to retox. And the retox never involves clean eating or a consistently healthy diet. That can set a person up for deficiencies too. Those deficiencies will show up in the eyes. That person may expect their eyes to be perfect in an Iridology reading because they’ve done so much fasting, but I will see right away that the body is out of balance still. As the saying goes, “The eyes never lie.” In all my years of working with Iridology, I can definitely say that is very true!

Remember: Balance is the key to success in life. Good luck and happy detoxing!


For more on how to do a detox at home, plan a successful post-detox or to get your Iridology reading, book a personalized health consult with me via Skype.

How to Book Your Health & Nutritional Consultation:

1. Take photos of your eyes with a smart phone or digital camera.
2. Email the photos to me for approval.
3. We schedule a time to meet via phone or Skype!

Easy Recipe: Make organic pickles at home!

Are you ready to make your own fermented foods at home? (Answer: Yes!) Pickling cucumbers is a great start to build up your confidence with fermentation. And who doesn’t love a crisp tasty pickle on a hot summer day? You can have your pickles ready to eat in as little as 7 days with the easy recipe below.

Use this fast and easy recipe to make delicious pickles at home

Health benefits of Fermented Foods

For optimal digestive health, we need to get good bacteria in the gut on a regular basis. Antibiotics destroy all the bacteria in our system, both good and bad. Over time, this can lead to more imbalance in digestion function, absorption and elimination. Some experts even say that food allergies, autism and ADHD may be related to an imbalance of bacteria in the colon. Certainly many digestive diseases like colitis, diverticulitis and Crohn’s disease are caused in part by lack of good bacteria in the gut. Having the right balance of good bacteria helps to strengthen immune system, improve digestive health and long-term, can even prevent dis-ease. Probiotic, or good bacteria, literally means “for life.”

You may think that fermented foods are only made with yeast (like beer or wine), but there are other cultures used for fermentation. Other types of natural bacteria are used as well as SCOBY’s (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast). With pickles, the natural bacteria on the skin of the cucumber itself is what’s used to start the “lacto fermentation” process.

Pickles are perfect to try if you’ve never done any type of fermentation before. You get relatively fast results (in 7 days), unlike kombucha, for example, that can take a few weeks. And there isn’t a lot of hard work involved or checking required, like in making raw sauerkraut. You should see bubbles rising in the pickle jars when you flip them every day, and when you eventually open the jar to eat them, the jar should make a “pop.” Then you know you’ve done everything correctly and can enjoy the fruits of your fermentation labor. Scroll down to get the recipe below.

Homemade pickles have no food additives!

There are other great reasons to eat homemade pickles instead of store-bought, besides the obvious better taste. Commercially sold pickles are pasteurized, which means all those beneficial natural probiotics are destroyed. Homemade pickles keep all the good bacteria intact, making for good gut health when eaten. A healthy microbiome is the basis for a strong and healthy immune system.

Store-bought pickles can also contain nasty food additives, the worst offender being Yellow #5. Banned in many countries (including all of Europe) since it was shown to be a carcinogen, Yellow #5, or tartrazine, is a coal-tar derivative. It is currently still allowed in foods in the USA. Yellow #5 is frequently used in your favorite brands of pickles for added color to make the pickles look brighter and fresher. Most store-bought pickles also contain preservatives, the most common one being sodium benzoate (not good).

Examples of Yellow #5 in pickles:

Vlasic: Hamburger Dill Chips Pickles – Cucumbers, Water, Distilled Vinegar, Salt, Sodium Benzoate (Preservatives), Calcium Chloride, Natural Flavor, Polysorbate 80, Yellow 5. “Great taste & crunch. Classic dill taste.” (No thanks!)

Vlasic Bread & Butter Spears No Sugar Added Pickles – Cucumbers, Water, Distilled Vinegar, Salt, Spice, Calcium Chloride, Sucralose, Yellow 5. “No sugar added!” (But you kept the carcinogens, great work.)

Mt. Olive Sweet Gherkins No Sugar Added Pickles – Cucumbers, Water, Vinegar, Salt, Calcium Chloride, 0.1% Sodium Benzoate (Preservative), Alum, Sucralose (Splenda Brand), Natural Flavors, Xanthan Gum, Polysorbate 80, & Yellow 5. “Mt. Olive Pickles are Picklicious!” (Don’t think so…)

Heinz Dill Spear Pickles – Fresh cucumbers, water, distilled white vinegar, salt, sodium benzoate, garlic extract, gum acacia, calcium chloride, natural flavoring, polysorbate 80, fd&c yellow 5. “Classic dill taste and crunch Heinz pickles are 100% fat free, Gluten free.” (But they contain chemical crap, hmmm…)

Organic brands of pickles are often no better. I’ve seen xantham gum, natural flavors, spices and agave syrup…all of which are suspect ingredients that I avoid as much as possible.

The bottom line is this: YOU deserve the very best in life and you are worth having only the very best ingredients in your food. Taking the time to make your own food is one of the best investments in yourself, your health and your family’s health.

High-five some hashtags to health!! #homemade #homegrown #farmtotable #organic #cleanfood #cleaneating

Choosing organic ingredients

The best part about making cucumbers at home is that you can use all 100% certified organic and whole food ingredients. Look for smaller sized pickling cucumbers at your local farmer’s market. You can also grow your own pickling cucumbers in your backyard garden at home – they’re actually very easy to grow! Choose fresh organic dill. And definitely use organic garlic. (Non-organic garlic is mostly all grown in China, so the quality is a big unknown. But I find that non-organic garlic has a too strong and overpowering taste; whereas organic garlic has a soft yet flavorful and more delicate taste. Organic garlic also doesn’t leave a bad taste in your mouth or a bad smell on your skin.)

The water you add to your pickle jars should not contain any chlorine, because chlorine can stop the natural fermentation process. The best option is to use natural spring water or clean well water. If you are using tap water, then be sure to pour your water into a big pot or glass bowl and let it sit out on the counter overnight before using. This should off-gas the chlorine so it’s no longer in the water by the next morning. (If you’ve ever had pet fish, then you’re familiar with doing this when changing their tank water.)

Remember to cut off the blossom ends!

When you’re pickling cucumbers yourself, you must cut off the blossom ends. There’s an enzyme in the blossom that can make the pickle soft and unsafe to eat. The blossom end also tastes bitter when you eat a raw cucumber. That bitter taste can make an entire juice or smoothie taste bitter too, so it’s generally just a good practice to always cut off about 1/16-inch on the blossom end of all your cucumbers. In fermentation, cutting the blossom ends will help your pickles get more crisp and crunchy.

Every cucumber has 2 ends: A Blossom end and a Stem end

The blossom end of the cucumber is the end that grew the flower. The opposite side is where you will find the stem that connected the cucumber to the vine. Sometimes it’s easier to identify the stem end first. Then, you know that the other side is the blossom end.

Which end is the blossom end of the cucumber? To identify the blossom end, check both sides of your cucumber.

The picture below shows the stem end of the cucumbers. Do you see the smooth, indented dot? That’s where the cucumber was picked off the stem.

The stem end has a smooth, indented dot

The next picture shows the blossom end of the cucumbers. Even though the flower is gone, you can see that there is no indentation. This is the side that you want to cut about 1/16-inch off.

Note there is no indentation in the Blossom end of the cucumber

Don’t forget to cut those blossom ends for a crunchy, crispy pickle

Recipe for Organic Pickles

With this recipe, the pickles take 7 days to ferment and then you’ve got the best tastiest pickles ever! No sugar, no honey, no preservatives and no cancer-causing Yellow #5. Oh yeah, and these are 100% organic farm-to-table and made with love!

Pickling Ingredients

  • Pickling cucumbers (approx. 6-8 small cucumbers needed for each jar)
  • 1 1/2 cups (or 360ml) filtered water
  • 1/2 cup (or 120ml) organic raw apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp. – 1 Tbsp. fine Himalayan salt (as desired)
  • 1/2 tsp. organic crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp. organic mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. organic back peppercorns
  • 1 sprig fresh organic dill
  • 2 organic garlic cloves (peeled)
  • 2 organic fresh grape leaves* (optional)
    You can buy the organic dried ingredients listed above on iherb.comAlso will need:- Wide mouth clean Mason jars with canning lids
    – 1 permanent marker
    You can buy Mason jars plus organic raw apple cider vinegar on amazon.com

Pickling Instructions

1. In a glass bowl, mix 1/2 cup organic raw apple cider vinegar + 1.5 cups water.
Add peppercorns, red pepper flakes, mustard seed, and up to 1T Himalayan salt.

2. Rinse your cucumbers but don’t scrub them. You want them to ferment from natural bacteria in the skins. Make sure you cut 1/16-inch from the blossom ends of each cucumber, then slice the cucumbers in spears. You want to keep the skins intact (do NOT peel the cucumbers), so the good bacteria in the skins can kick off the lacto-fermentation process.

3. Add 2 organic garlic cloves, fresh dill, and 1 grape leaf to the bottom of the Mason jar. Stack in chopped cucs and pack tightly. Add liquid and spices. Add another grape leaf to the top before closing. Secure the lid tight by hand. Write the date on the lid with a permanent marker.

4. Place the jar on a tray or plate on a shelf or counter-top. Flip the jar once daily for 7 days. Sometimes liquid may seep out of the jar, which is why having a tray or plate underneath is a good idea. You should see small bubbles rising in the pickle juice when you flip the jar. And that’s the fermentation happening right there!

5. After one week, put the jar in the fridge. Now, you can open, eat and enjoy!

Store pickles in a tray or glass container to prevent spillage during 7 days of flipping once daily

*Fresh grapes leaves are recommended because they’re supposed to help keep the pickles more crisp and crunchy. I don’t know if they are totally necessary or not, but because we have plenty of wild organic muscadine grape vines growing all over our land, it’s no problem for me to pick a few leaves and add them to each jar. Sometimes in summer, you can find fresh grapes leaves for sale at local farmer markets. If you don’t have access to fresh grape leaves, don’t be discouraged. You can still make this recipe without them!

Homemade Pickle Eat-by Date

Using the above recipe, there is no canning or heating required. That’s nice because it keeps the cucs as a raw food, with all the enzymes intact. But, because they are not totally sealed the way canning or heating will do, these pickles should be eaten with 3 months of making them. Just keep that in mind if you give them to family or friends. After 3 months the pickles may turn soft or watery. If you see that, then it’s best to toss them in the compost bin. Writing the date on the lid of each jar helps to know how long to keep them.

My Pickle Detox/Cleanse

Last summer, we had so many cucumbers from our organic veggie garden that I was making 2 jars of pickles per day! By mid-August, we were up to our ears in pickles and the fridge was almost full. I had been planning to do a 7-10 day green juice fast as a nice transition from the end of summer into fall. But when I looked at all the pickles, I said to my husband, “Why don’t we just do a pickle detox and eat only organic pickles for 10 days?” So we did!

On average, we each ate about 1.5 jars of pickles per day and we drank all the pickle juice too. We also drank plenty of water in between. It was totally unplanned and un-researched. But it turned out great. We both felt energized. Our guts got a major boost of probiotics from the lacto fermentation and the organic raw apple cider vinegar. We had a mini-parasite cleanse from eating so many fermented garlic cloves. The pickles were cold and refreshing during the hot summer days. We had high energy and slept great. The was no juicer to clean! And we used organic clean food fresh from our garden. This year, we may do a 3-day pickle cleanse and go into green juices after that. I’ve got plenty of organic dandelion, celery and parsley that I’d love to use in juices or smoothies so we’ll see….!


For more on how to do a detox at home or how to navigate through your detox symptoms and start feeling great, book a personalized health consult with me via Skype.

How to Book Your Health & Nutritional Consultation:

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