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Author: Functional_Farmacist

How one little word can rock your world

“Cancer…it seems as if everyone is affected by it.  Whether you know a friend, loved one or yourself, no one is immune to it.  It’s becoming a common, chronic condition in our nation and around the world.  Did you know that one in two people in the US will develop cancer at some point in their lifetime?  Of those who develop cancer, 75% will develop a recurrence.  It’s a stunning statistic and one we should not take lightly.

I’ve had very close friends (in their 30s and 40s) diagnosed and treated for breast cancer.  Last month, we discovered my mother has stage 3A peritoneal cancer with metastases to her lower bowel.  WOW, those words literally took my breath away.  She’s already undergone surgery and in the midst of chemotherapy.  As I’m passionate about treating her root cause of disease, we’re also implementing a lot of functional medicine practices, like diet modifications and smart supplementation.  On my quest to learn more and do more for her, I came across a new book hot off the press…. “The Metabolic Approach to Cancer”.  Authors Dr. Nasha Winters,  and Jess Higgins Kelly have succinctly summarized an incredibly challenging topic with lots of action steps.  They’ve identified ten “physiological and emotional human elements that require balance and optimization” – called “The Terrain Ten”, the many things we can control which affect cancer.

  • Genetic/epigenetic/nutrigenomic modifications
  • Blood sugar balance
  • Toxic burden management
  • Repopulating and balancing the microbiome
  • Immune system maximization
  • Modulating inflammation and oxidative stress
  • Enhancing blood circulation while inhibiting antiogenesis and metastasis
  • Establishing hormone balance
  • Recalibrating stress levels and biorhythms
  • Enhancing mental and emotional well being

Each one of these topics has it’s own dedicated chapter in the book.  It’s packed with data, practical tips and recommendations.  Some things that I learned:

  • Mistletoe is a potent ant-iinflammatory agent and a viable treatment option in cancer
  • High dose melatonin (20-40mg) is an also under-utilized option, but since it is a hormone, should be used under direct supervision of a physician
  • Targeting the endocannabinoid system (ECS) has been shown to have anti-inflammatory, anticachechix, metabolic, pain managment, antiseizure and sleep promoting effects.  It might be it’s own “Terrain” by the 2nd edition of this book!
  • Get tested!  There are many suggested tests noted in the book, which can easily be done by an oncologist or family pratitioner, including circulation (fibrinogen, VEGF, serum copper and ferritin)
  • “Our genes are screaming at us to stop eating sugar”.  Implemeting a ketogenic diet, starves off cancer cells.  It’s not only what you DON’T eat, but what you EAT (i.e. superfoods), that can help too
  • Take care of your emotions.  Determine if you have a “Type C” personality and keep a “mood-food” journal of how you feel after eating certain foods

Favorite quote of the book: “We’ll say it again:  Cancer is a metabolic, environmental and emotional disease.”

My goal is for everyone to read this book and realize that there is HOPE.  This book is for both those being treated for cancer and those who want to prevent it.  Outside of genetics and “bad luck”, you have the power to change your destiny based on epigenetics and lifestyle factors!


WINTERS, N and HIGGins Kelly, J.  The Metabolic Approach to Cancer: Integrating Deep Nutrition, the Ketogenic Diet, and Nontoxic Bio-Individualized Therapies. 2017


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Antidepressant use in the news and book giveaway

Happy New Year to all!  Last month, an interesting article appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), which noted that approximately 1 out of 6 US adults reported taking at least one psychiatric medication for at least a year or more.  Usually the drug was an antidepressant (i.e Zoloft or Celexa), an anti-anxiety medication like Xanax or a drug like Ambien for sleep. The findings were based on 2013 government data, which assessed 242 million adults.  Though these medications can be helpful in certain situations, they are certainly not without risk.  What was concerning in this data is that over 80% of those taking these medications are using them on a long-term basis.  Most of these antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications are recommended for shorter use and carry a number of serious risks, like withdrawal effects, panic attacks and suicidal thoughts.  I also expand upon the seriousness of these medications in my previous post “Antidepressants are even more dangerous in kids”.

The New York Times also covered the story.  A professor of psychiatry at Columbia University, Dr. Mark Olfson, noted that the new data reflects a growing acceptance of and reliance on prescription medications” to manage common emotional problems”.  At the same time this article was released, I was reading a book by Dr. Kelly Brogan titled “A Mind of Your Own“.  She is board certified in psychiatry, psychosomatic medicine, and integrative holistic medicine, and is specialized in a root-cause resolution approach to psychiatric syndromes and symptoms. Consider there is another way to “treat” your depression or mental illness by exploring a functional medicine looking at the root cause.  I feel so strongly about her approach, I think everyone who is considering taking an antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication should read her book before starting the drug .  I’ve highlighted some of the important take-away messages below:

  • Most of the antidepressants on the market don’t even work that well to begin with.  Dr. Brogan goes into exceptional detail about how antidepressants were FDA approved and the lack of data found to support their use.  This quote from the British Medical Journal in 2013 summarizes it best: “Unfortunately the balance between benefits and risks, it is an uncomfortable truth that most drugs do not work in most patients.”
  • Dr. Brogan provides an easy to understand explanation of the “the gut-brain connection”, and it’s high correlation to those suffering with depression and mental illness.  If one does not have a healthy gut, then you cannot expect to have a healthy brain.  For more reading, I’ve published an article on “The Gut-Brain Connection in Complex Kids” as well as a blog post “All Disease Starts in the Gut“.  Dr. Brogan calls out the major gut disruptors: gluten, dairy, GMOs, artificial sugars, and drugs like antibiotics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (i.e. Motrin) and proton pump inhibitors like Nexium.
  • Common environmental toxins can cause depression-like symptoms.  Consider the drugs noted above, as well as others like birth control, vaccines and fluoride.  Additionally, as I point out in my “Take Control of Environmental Toxins” post, there are a multitude of other toxins to consider eliminating from your life.
  • It all goes back to Hippocrates: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”  Dr. Brogan states “Food isn’t just fuel, it’s information”.  She stresses a natural diet, free of processed food and emphasizing whole foods, healthy fats, promoting probiotics and eating mindfully.
  • Dr. Brogan highlights other incredibly important lifestyle factors one must address when holistically treating depression, including meditation, sleep and exercise. These tools are often overlooked and underappreciated for the value they bring to optimized health.  I’ve written more on the “Importance of Sleep“.
  • Consider important testing and supplementation in your treatment protocol, which can be guided by a Functional Medicine Practitioner.  For example, did you know that patients with thyroid disease often present with depression?
  • Most importantly, she provides a “30 day plan of action” which can easily kick-start anyone interested in improving their mental health.  The program simplifies the principles noted above, complete with easy-to-follow recipes included.

I love Dr. Brogan’s work so much that I’m giving one free copy of her book away!  How would you use this book to address your 2017 goals?  For yourself?  For a loved-one?  Please comment below by Fri 1/13, when I’ll announce the winner!  Here’s to a year with better mental health!

Treating ADHD Naturally with Dr. Carri Drzyzga

I was honored to be a guest on “The Functional Medicine Radio Show“.  Check out my most recent interview with Dr. Carri Drzyzga DC, ND (“The Functional Medicine Doc”) on treating ADHD naturally where we explore the following:

  • How does a child get diagnosed with ADHD and what are the treatments?
  • What is the functional medicine approach?
  • What is a leaky gut and why is it bad?
  • What are your recommendations for patients who have these symptoms?
  • What is the 4S approach?

If you haven’t already, follow Dr. Carri, Naturopath and Chiropractor and her functional medicine approach: http://www.drcarri.com/

Interested in learning more about my 4S approach?  Contact me at functionalfarmacist@gmail.com for more information on my next “4S Approach to ADHD” 4 week webinar.

Impact ADHD: Guest blog post on the top vitamin/mineral deficiencies in ADHD

The latest guest blog post on “Treating the top vitamin and mineral deficiencies in ADHD” is live on Impact ADHD‘s website.  Have you used supplementation in your ADHD protocol?  Let me know in the comments below.  Pharmacist tip: always make sure to make sure that you’re working with a healthcare practitioner to obtain accurate lab values BEFORE supplementation.  Additionally, sign up for my blog posts and receive my “Six Steps to Selecting the Perfect Supplement” for even more tips.

Impact ADHD: Guest blog post on the connection between food sensitivities/allergies and ADHD

Next in my series of guest blog posts on Impact ADHD‘s site, I explore the link between food allergies/sensitivities and ADHD. Click this link to learn more!  Please ask questions and leave any comments online.

New to Impact ADHD?  CONNECT with them on Social Media:

What’s been your experience?  Did you notice a food trigger contributing to ADHD symptoms?

Guest blog post series on ImpactADHD

I’m honored to be featured as ImpactADHD’s Guest Expert this week with my first blog post in a series titled “An Integrative Approach to ADHD“.  This week, I’ll explain the integrative/functional medicine approach is and how it differs from our traditional, Western medicine approach.

Please check out ImpactADHD online and CONNECT with them on Social Media:

Lastly, I encourage you to sign up for their free newsletter, and you’ll get a new Guest Expert post every week (and receive a free gift, too!).

I would love to hear your comments and questions either below or online!



Functional Medicine approach to ADHD beta-test

Functional Farmacist 4 week ADHD Group Coaching Beta-Test Group

Are you interested in learning more about my integrative approach to ADHD?  I’m beta-testing a FREE 4 week group coaching program later this month where we’ll discuss my 4 “S” approach to ADHD, which includes sleep, stress, sugar and smart supplementation.  Here’s just a handful of topics that we’ll cover:

  • Food allergy testing and diet tweaks to reduce inflammation
  • Practical tips for prioritizing sleep
  • The gut-brain connection and improving gut health
  • Mineral deficiency in ADHD
  • How to reduce environmental toxins
  • Essential oils and other alternative treatments

This program is worth $2000, but for the first 8 people, will be free of charge during this beta-test if you meet and can commit to all of the following requirements:

  • Have ADHD yourself or are a caretaker of someone with ADHD
  • Be available for 4 one-hour live coaching calls (followed by 30 minutes of Q&A) on Wed 3/30, Wed 4/6, Wed 4/13 and Wed 4/20 all at 7pmET.  If not available at this time, you would need to listen to replay and provide feedback about the presentation.
  • Provide verbal feedback about the presentation, as well as input about your ideal program.
  • Submit two final online surveys upon program completion and one 4 weeks out.

Please contact Chantell at functionalfarmacist@gmail.com to confirm eligibility and availability.

6 steps to prevent cold and flu

We’re in the heart of cold and flu season here in the northeast, so I thought I would share my tips and tricks to maximize immunity & prevent sickness:

  • Wash your hands!  Whenever I come home, I always wash my hands to remove any bacteria from my hands, which can spark unwanted sickness.  Avoid soaps with triclosan, Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and parabens.  To make a very easy DIY soap, take a used old foaming soap pump, add 1 tbsp. vegetable glycerine, 4 tablespoons castile soap, 10 drops of a protective essential oils blend and fill with water.  It’s that easy!
  • Get a daily dose of probiotics – either in food form (grass-fed yogurt, raw sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi, kombucha) or as a supplement to promote gut-health and strengthen immunity.  See my previous post for more about gut health and probiotics.
  • Boost your Vitamin C intake – I love to start my day with hot water with lemon and ginger – the vitamin C in the lemon and immune-boosting properties in ginger make this a powerhouse (and it also serves a gentle detox)!  For extra anti-inflammatory action, grate some tumeric or use a pinch of the powder form.  When traveling, I also take Emergen-C to get an extra 1000mg dose, and there’s also Emergen-C Kidz (Funtional Farmacist tip: I also like to use this as substitute for Gatorade).
  • Practically everyone is deficient in Vitiamin D!  Vitamin D is critical to our immune systems so get out in the sun! Just 15 minutes a day (without sunscreen can boost vitamin D levels. Check vitamin D status and consider supplementing to bring the vitamin D blood level to the middle of the “normal range.” After learning I am deficient myself, especially in the wintertime here in the Northeast, I like to use a source containing Vitamin D3. Children one year of age and above: 400 IUs per day, taken with a meal. Adult dosing can range from 1000-10,000IU/day depending on levels.
  • Take advantage of plant based medicine.  Essential oils oregano and thyme are potent natural antibiotic and antivirals. I like to use 1-2 drops diluted with a tsp of fractionated coconut oil on the feet at bedtime.  Note pregnant women and small children should not use thyme.  I also like to use a protective blend (which includes orange, clove, cinnamon, euaclyptus and rosemary).
  • Sleep like your life depends on it!  I think sleep is such a critical factor in prevention of sickness, I wrote a post about it.  Seriously one of the most important things you can do to keep your immune function running smoothly.

How about you?  Have you used any of these remedies in your personal care?  Need help with obtaining quality essential oils?  Contact me at functionalfarmacist@gmail.com.


Antidepressants are even more dangerous in kids

This week in the British Medical Journal, a review was published which notes that antidepressants appear to be more dangerous for kids than previously thought.   Some of the initial published data under-reported instances of suicide and aggression.  The review included five antidepressants: Cymbalta (duloxetine), Effexor (venlafaxine), Paxil (paroxetine), Prozac (fluoxetine) and Zoloft (sertraline).   This information is not entirely new, as back in 2004, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning about the increased risk of suicide in children and teens treated with SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), including Paxil, Prozac, Zoloft and others.  In 2007, the FDA revised this “black box warning” to include adults < 25 years old.

This new study concluded that the risk of aggression and suicide doubled in kids, which had not been previously reported.  There was no similar association found in adults.  Additionally the risks to children from antidepressants included deaths, suicidal thoughts and attempts, as well as aggression and akathisia.  The researchers also found that published reports from clinical trials appeared to mis-classify deaths and suicidal events in people taking antidepressants.  In fact, 4 deaths were misreported by a pharmaceutical company, in all cases downplaying the role of the antidepressant.  Even more alarming is that more than half of the suicide attempts and suicidal thoughts were mis-coded in the earlier trials as “emotional lability” or “worsening of depression,” which significantly downplayed these serious adverse effects.  In summary trial reports from Eli Lilly and Co., almost all deaths were noted, but suicidal attempts were missing in 90 percent of instances, and information on other outcomes was incomplete.  Lastly, the authors note that the risks to children may be even greater than what was just reported in the new analysis. Clinical data could not be obtained for all drug trials and all antidepressants, and individual listings of adverse outcomes for all patients were available for only 32 trials.

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) responded to the study by noting that a revised set of principles for responsible clinical drug trial data sharing that went into effect for its members in 2014.   “While we cannot comment on the specific clinical trials of various companies, our members are committed to sharing data,” a spokesperson said.

What’s the bottom line?

Clinical data supplied to regulators cannot be totally be trusted.  Though it’s disturbing that data was manipulated, just knowing this information should empower you to be extremely cautious when considering antidepressant use in children.  An integrative or functional medicine practitioner can suggest alternative treatments, such as vitamin & mineral deficiencies, as well as modifications in diet, sleep, stress and exercise.

Want to know which essential oils are helpful in depression and anxiety?  Sign up for the newsletter or contact me at functionalfarmacist@gmail.com.

Other references:

Drug Watch.  October 12, 2015.  Accessed on January 31, 2016 at: http://www.drugwatch.com/ssri/suicide/