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Listen here for more gut health info

I love learning about topics of interest by listening to podcasts.  In the functional medicine world, I’m very fond of three MDs, who have a practical approach to natural health.  Most recently I came across three excellent podcasts which highlight gut health and the thyroid, hormone balance and brain health.  For more details, please see below:

How about you?  What are your favorite health podcasts?  Message me below!


Resolve to try one of these stress reducers in the new year

Stress is defined many ways, including “the action on a body of any system of balanced forces whereby strain or deformation results” or “the physical pressure, pull, or other force exerted on one thing by another; strain.”  In this day and age, a normal amount of stress is expected, but excess stress is associated with increased risk of heart attacks, depression, insomnia, diabetes and leaky gut to name a few disorders.  Unfortunately our body doesn’t distinguish among the different types of stress:

  • Address internal causes of inflammation, such as food sensitivities.  Finding the root cause of inflammation often starts with what we’re putting in our mouths.  Consider food sensitivities or allergies (the most common being eggs, soy, dairy, wheat, and corn).  Food allergy testing though controversial, may not be completely accurate, according to Functional Medicine practitioners.  Another way to investigate if certain foods trigger an inflammatory response is to undergo an Elimination Diet.  Try removing these foods for 2-3 weeks and strategically reintroduce them, noting any triggers.
  • Focus on external sources, like environmental toxins.  See my previous post “Take Control of Environmental Toxins” to remove exposure to things like GMOs, skincare toxins and mold.  One additional thing to consider is to reduce your exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMFs) generated by cell phones, laptops and the internet.  EMFs can disrupt sleep, cause decreased sperm counts and headaches.  Simply turning off your wi-fi overnight (by using a timer on your outlet) can help you sleep better. Bulletproof Exec also suggests using headsets or earbuds, utilizing “airplane mode” while your phone is in your pocket, and installing EMF filters.
  • Evaluate emotional/mental stress.  Lost a job?  Taking care of a sick relative? Emotional and mental stress takes an incredible toll on our bodies, including increasing production of cortisol (our stress hormone).  Chronic overproduction of cortisol can tax the adrenal glands, causing adrenal fatigue.  If you’re interested in the physiologic response to stress, read more here.

So, what can we do about it?  Try 1 of these 4 (free) tips to help manage your stress:

Breathe.  Dr. Andrew Weil has a quick and easy remedy, the 4-7-8 breath. Repeat several times and watch the stress begin to melt away.

Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT).  In this YouTube video, Julie Schiffman demonstrates the benefits of EFT “tapping” for stress relief.  Use this practice whenever stress has the better of you!

Meditation or prayer.  Take the first 10-20 minutes of your day to read some scripture or cultivate a meditation practice.  Fun fact: meditation can be better than sleeping!  Get the award-winning Headspace app here.

Take a bath.  Fill a tub with hot water and add 1-2 cups of Epsom (magnesium) salts.  Magnesium deficiency can cause anxiety, so replenishing your stores can do wonders to relieve stress.  For additional relaxation, add 10 drops of lavender oil.

Not free, but very effective:

Essential oils.  Lavender has been the most studied essential oil for anxiety and sleep.  Dr. Axe also recommends rose, vetiver, ylang ylang, bergamot, chamomile and frankincense.  Inhale them using a diffuser, topically on the skin with a carrier oil.  See my “Essential Oils 101” blog post for more information.

Heart Math.  Using devices and tools to track things like heart rate variability can be helpful to train the brain and nervous system. For example, the Tinké plugs into phone and measures heart rate variability from the thumb. HeartMath’s Inner Balance sensor,uses an earlobe clip and a plug-in phone sensor to measure heart rate variability.  Learn more at the Heart Math Institute.

What’s your “go-to” stress reducing technique or tool?  Tell me below.

Additional resources:

Asprey, D.  Step 7: Identify and Remove Toxins That Limit You.  Accessed on January 3, 2016 at:  https://www.bulletproofexec.com/remove-toxins/

Kresser, C.  9 Steps to Perfect Health. #6 Manage your stress.  Accessed January 3, 2016 at: http://chriskresser.com/9-steps-to-perfect-health-6-manage-your-stress/

Mercola, J.  Chronic Stress Doesn’t Stay in Your Head.  March 2015.  Accessed January 3, 2016 at: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/03/12/chronic-stress.aspx

Orecchio, C.  The Five Most Common Food Sensitivities.  Accessed January 3, 2016 at: http://thewholejourney.com/the-five-most-common-food-sensitivities

Randall, M. The Physiology of Stress: Cortisol and the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis. February 2011; Accessed on January 3, 2016 at: http://dujs.dartmouth.edu/fall-2010/the-physiology-of-stress-cortisol-and-the-hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal-axis#.VomaeVmfJpk

Shah, R.  7 Fascinating Facts about Meditation.  Huffington Post; January 7, 2013. Accessed on January 3, 2016 at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/15/7-fascinating-facts-about_n_899482.html

Antipsychotic use increases 50% in 2 year olds

Back in July, I reported on almost half of preschoolers taking medication for ADHD.  Last week, a front page New York times article noted that antipsychotic use in 2 year olds increased 50% from last year.  Use of the antidepressant Prozac increased 23% in the same age group, according to IMS data.  Not surprising when you consider that headline news from last month that almost 60% of adults use a prescription. Most of these drugs aren’t FDA approved for children under 5.

What is sparking this increase?  The author assumes that problematic, troubling behavior like depression, lethargy, nonverbal, or temper tantrums has worried parents inquiring about treatment and well-meaning physicians prescribing these drugs.  It’s certainly concerning when you’re the parent of a child experiencing these “symptoms”, but note that these drugs are not benign.  Common adverse effects include fatigue or insomnia, Parkinson-like effects, increased appetite, weight gain, diabetes and neuromuscular/skeletal.  It’s also important to note that in the older population, there is a “Black Box” or very serious warning for increased risk of death in elderly patients with dementia-related psychosis.  The article also notes an example of a child given an antipsychotic for a side-effect of an anti-seizure medication, which was subsequently discontinued because of these types of adverse effects noted above.

What should you do if you or your child are experiencing these symptoms?  Consider that these children (2 years and under) are still rapidly growing and their brains are not fully functional.  If you’re interested in finding the root cause of the behavior (instead of using a non FDA approved medication, I suggest finding a functional medicine practitioner to help find alternatives.  I have compiled a list of online resources and practitioner sites.  This type of practitioner may help with behavioral, diet and other lifestyle modifications that can help your child.  It may take some trial and error, but with some patience, may help mitigate the need for a prescription.



WebMD.  Antipsychotic Medication for Bipolar disease.  Accessed at: http://www.webmd.com/bipolar-disorder/antipsychotic-medication

Schwarz, Alan.  Still in a Crib, Yet Being Given AntipsychoticsNew York Times; December 10, 2015.  Accessed at: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/11/us/psychiatric-drugs-are-being-prescribed-to-infants.html?ref=health&_r=0

Essential oils 101 recap

We had a great turnout for the Media Library’s Essential Oil 101 overview last week.  Thanks to all who braved the weather.  For those who missed it, I’ll be doing another program there after the holidays.  In the interim, please contact me for a personal overview and consultation.  In this post, I’ll review some of the most frequently asked questions and select pictures.

What are Essential Oils (EOs) and how are they made? Essential oils are volatile liquids, which rapidly evaporate in the form of vapor.  They are extracted from plants (including the leaves, roots, bark, seed, fruits, flowers and trees).  The process begins by planting high quality plants in nutrient dense organic soil native to their natural environment.  The plants should be harvested when their healing compounds are most available.  EOs are created through two different processes.  The “steam distillation” process separates the oil and water based compounds of a plant.  Oils made by “cold expression” are extracted through mechanical pressure which “presses” the oils out of the plant material.  The cold press method is most commonly used in the making of citrus oils.  Finally, the oils should be bottled in dark glass containers to protect from oxidation and sunlight.

How can I choose quality oil? Since EOs are a wholly natural product, they cannot be patented.  This means the essential oils market is totally unregulated.  Importantly, not all essential oils are created equally.  Synthetic or altered oils are considered the lowest grade of oil and are created in a laboratory.  Natural and “pure” oils are the most common type found in the market, but they are still overly processed, so they lose their healing properties.  Wellness grade essential oils are steam distilled; however, they may or may not have been sprayed with pesticides.  Certified therapeutic grade (CTG) oils are medicinal-grade and are the highest grade of essential oils with greatest healing properties.  When purchasing EOs, consider buying therapeutic grade, organic oils whenever possible.  These products should also require third party testing, which ensures the highest quality.  The CTG oils are the only ones I feel are safe for internal ingestion.

Are essential oils studied for their therapeutic use? In the scientific literature, there are thousands of studies referencing the therapeutic effects of essential oils.  A simple search on PubMed reveals that EOs are being used studied for use in everything from peppermint oil in irritable bowel syndrome and headaches, oregano for infections, vetiver in ADHD and frankincense (i.e. Boswalia) in cancer.  Combinations of lavender and rosemary have been shown to affect cognition and mood. Even hospitals like Vanderbilt University have studied oils for their use in the treatment of anxiety, depression and infections in hospitalized patients.

How long have EOs been around? EOs have been used for thousands of years.  The Egyptians are credited with being the first to use oils like frankincense, myrrh, cedarwood, juniper, and coriander.  Other early adopters include China, Greece, Rome, Israel, Arabia and Europe. What is the relation of EOs to Aromatherapy?   Aromatherapy uses plants, plant essential oils and other aromatic compounds to change mood and wellbeing.  Lavender, peppermint, grapefruit, chamomile, lemon, ylang-ylang can improve mood and are commonly used for things like massage.

Are there any safety concerns for using EOs? EOs are very concentrated oils.  To put into perspective, it takes 150 pounds of lavender plants to make 1 pound of EOs.  As a general rule, a little goes a long way.  They are generally safe, but can produce skin reactions for some with sensitive skin.  I recommend applying 1-2 drops of EO to a patch of skin such as the forearm. Observe that area of skin over the course of 1-2 hours for any noticeable reaction; usually reactions occur within 5-10 minutes. If you experience a hot or burning sensation or if you develop a rash, add a “carrier” oil like coconut, jojoba, olive or grapeseed oil to the site.  Never use water, as it can add to the discomfort.  It’s especially important to dilute “hot” oils, like cinnamon, clove, lemongrass, peppermint, oregano, thyme, which could be irritating to skin.  Simply combine them with a carrier oil.  Some oils are generally recognized as safe to use undiluted and include lavender, German chamomile, tea tree, sandalwood, and rose geranium.  Additionally, for infants and children, I always suggest dilution of oils.  Use 1 drop of oil in a tablespoon or more of carrier oil for infants and children.  If you are pregnant, always consult with your physician before using any oil.  Aniseed, cedarwood, chamomile, cinnamon, clary sage, clove, ginger, jasmine, lemon, nutmeg, rosemary, sage should be avoided, especially in the first trimester.  For more safety information, the Atlantic Institute of Aromatherapy houses a comprehensive database of injury reports for essential oils.

What are some easy ways to start using EOs at home? There are 3 easy ways to get started using EOs: using topically, inhaling or diffusing and ingesting.

1. My favorite way is to put a few drops of an oil or a blend in a diffuser and inhale the oils.   A diffuser disperses essential oils in the air in your home or office, allowing you and your family to easily inhale the oils (for immune boosting, stress relief, etc.) and naturally and effectively disinfect the air.

2. Additionally, EOs are well absorbed through the skin and can be used topically.  Because EOs are super-concentrated as noted above, it’s usually best to mix 1-2 drops of a concentrated EO with a “carrier” oil like coconut, olive, jojoba or grapeseed oil.  This combination makes the skin less likely to react, but the oil’s effectiveness won’t be diluted.  The oils can be applied to the back of the neck, wrists, bottom of the feet or behind the ears, where the oils can be easily absorbed.

3. I only recommend ingesting oils, when you can find a certified therapeutic grade of oils.  Do not take essential oils wintergreen and eucalyptus internally.  A drop or two of high quality lemon or orange in a glass of water can refresh and detoxify the body.  A drop of peppermint in a glass of water can settle an upset stomach.

What are your “go-to “ EOs?

  • I love diffusing a combination of lemon, lavender and peppermint (3 drops each).  It lightens the air and is very refreshing. 
  • Peppermint is good for mental alertness, headaches, fever and digestion. 
  • Orange can improve mood, decrease anxiety, and purifies the air. 
  • Melaleuca (tea tree) can be helpful for acne and hair care (dandruff), and in cleaning products. 
  • Lavender is great for minor burns and cuts,  for anxiety, sleep, and relaxation. 
  • Lemon is known for lifting moods, as an antibacterial in cleaning products, or in skincare products for oily skin. 
  • Frankincense provides natural immune support, spiritual awareness, and is beneficial for skin. 
  • Clary sage is helpful for irritability during premenstrual syndrome.

Where can we find out more about you and essential oils?   For more information on where to find quality essential oils, please email me directly at functionalfarmacist@gmail.com

What are your favorite resources?  

Aromatic Science.  Accessed at: http://www.aromaticscience.com/ Atlantic Institute of Aromatherapy.

Accessed at: http://www.atlanticinstitute.com/injury-report-2014

Modern Essentials: A Contemporary Guide to the Therapeutic Use of Essential Oils.  6th ed.  By AromaTools, 2014.

Modern Essentials app

Disclaimer: This information should not be treated as advice. The medical information in this article is provided without any representations or warranties, express or implied. This information is not intended to be patient education. The information does not create any patient-physician or patient-pharmacist relationship, and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment. You should consult your doctor or other healthcare provider if you have any specific medical questions.

Essential Oil Educator podcast episode 028

Take a listen to the latest episode of the Essential Oil Educator podcast 028: Chantell Reagan, Functional Farmacist.  Marv Johnson of the Essential Oil Educator podcast interviews me about my career as a pharmacist and how it integrates with functional medicine.  We also discuss the following:

  • Hear what a pharmacist thinks about the good and bad of the pharmaceutical industry.
  • What does a pharmacist think about the side effects of prescribed medication?
  • What does the phrase “non-pharmacological options first” mean?
  • What prompts a trained pharmacists to look into non-pharmacological options for her family.

If you’re not familiar with Marv’s Essential Oil Educator blog and podcast, check it out here.  He does an exceptional job of interviewing practitioners, health professionals, and scientists which can help you transform your picture of wellness.

59% of American adults use a prescription drug

Just published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association, three out of five US Americans take a prescription.  This statistic went up from 51% in 2000 to 59% in 2012.  Results came from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). data.  The increase is likely due to obesity, as well as the aging Medicare population.  Of note, more people are using medications in 11 drug classes including cholesterol-lowering, antidepressants, proton-pump inhibitors, and muscle relaxants.  The study showed that approximately 8% of adults take cholesterol lowering drug Zocor (simvastatin).  Additionally, 15% of adults are taking 5 or more drugs.  If you’re looking for more natural ways to approach chronic disease, here’s a roundup of some suggestions to address the conditions noted above:

High cholesterol:

  • Understand the risk of statins, including their ability to inhibit glutathione and Coenzyme Q, two powerhouse antioxidants.  Check out what fellow pharmacist Suzy Cohen has to say in “Taking Statins: Beware” and Ross Pelton’s “Statins are Stupid“.
  • In this YouTube video, Dr. Hyman also discusses 6 steps to healthy cholesterol, including the importance of cholesterol, getting the right testing, using diet (increasing healthy fats and decreasing flour and sugar), exercise, decreaing stress and smart supplementation, like fish oil and others.
  • Work with fellow pharmacist, Dr. Anh, a functional medicine practitioner who specializes in treating cholesterol naturally.


  • Address underlying inflammation in the gut.  Dr. Perlmutter explains how depression is an inflammatory process and that SSRI’s used to treat depression are actually antidepressants.  Chris Kresser also has an excellent blog post summarizing this connection.  Using probiotics can help to treat leaky gut, as I explain in this post.
  • Check micronutrient levels.  90% of women with post partum depression have high copper levels, noted by Dr. Walsh.  Magnesium can also be a great tool to promote energy, relaxation and sleep, per Dr. Dean.
  • Learn about top foods to add into your diet and which ones to avoid, in Dr. Axe’s 5 Natural Remedies for Depression.  He also talks about using fish oil, vitamin D, adaptogenic herbs, B-complex, and St. John’s Wort.
  • Using essential oils like lavender, bergamot, roman chamomile and ylang ylang can also be helpful.

Proton pump inhibitors (heartburn/acid reflux):

  • Heartburn and reflux are conditions of low-stomach acid.  PPIs like Nexium and H2 antagonists like Zantac block acid and contribute to the overall problem. They can also lower B-12 levels.  Dr. Mercola explains that switching from processed to whole foods should be the first step in a natural approach.  Use a probiotic (notice a common theme here?)
  • Dr. Hyman notes 3 simple steps to eliminate heartburn and reflux: get rid of the bugs like H. pylori, yeast or bacterial overgrowth, change the diet, and supplementation (with digestive enzymes, probiotics, glutamine, etc)

Muscle relaxers:

  • Pharmacist Suzy Cohen explains that natural anti-inflammatories like boswellia, curcumin and bromelain are very effective, but might take longer to work compared to NSAIDs like Motrin or Advil.  Other potential agents include MSM topical products, malic acid, magnesium and capsaicin.
  • Dr. Axe provides a list of healing foods and top remedies like magnesium, potassium and green superfoods.  Peppermint and cypress essential oils can also help significantly with muscle ache.

What about you?  Are you taking any of these drugs?  Are any of the natural suggestions helpful?  As always, DO NOT stop your medications without discussing with your physician.

Take control of environmental toxins

As we all know, there’s so many things in our processed world which can cause toxicity in our bodies and adversely affect our health.  We could go crazy thinking about the possibilities, but I’m here to empower you, not scare you.  Consider this list of the most common toxic chemical we come across on a daily basis:

  • Genetically modified organisms (GMO’s):  What you can’t see CAN hurt you.  We have NO idea about the long term affects of eating, digesting and metabolizing GMOs.  We do know that they’re often sprayed with a pesticide called glyphosate, the toxic chemical found in Roundup.  It’s been shown to cause cancer and is also a hormone disruptor.  The top 7 GMO crops are literally in all processed food: corn, soy, canola, sugar beets, alfalfa, papaya and cotton.  It’s best to avoid them altogether, of if eating them, opt for an organic version.
  • Food dyes and preservatives: The FDA STILL allows certain toxic food dyes and preservatives into our food, even though they’re banned in Europe and countries around the world due to ill effects on health.  I recommend avoiding blue #1 and #2, yellow #5 and 6, and red #40, which have been shown to cause birth defects, behavioral problems, cancer in the lab.  I personally try to avoid all artificial food coloring or choose products with natural food coloring instead.
  • Skin care toxins:   Our skin is the largest organ.  It’s critical to understand that products we put on our body are immediately absorbed into the skin and travel right into the blood stream.  There are at least a dozen toxic ingredients in skin care products that should be avoided, because they’ve been associated with learning disabilities, allergies, infertility and cancer.  This is an easy fix.  The Environmental Working Group’s (EGW) Skin Deep database can easily help you check your current brands and recommend safer alternatives.


Source: Naturallyhealthy.com

  • Bisphenol A (BPAs) :This toxic chemical is used in the production of plastics.   BPAs can leach into food via cans, containers and bottles.  BPAs are endocrine disruptors and have been shown to negatively impact hormones.  Also there is serious concern about the effects on childrens’ brain, behavior, and prostate glands.  You should NEVER microwave plastic containers, avoid using any with #3 or 7 on the bottom, or opt for BPA free altogether.  Even better, try using glass or stainless steel as alternatives.
  • Fluoride: Fluoride is added to our public drinking water to help prevent cavities, however, the benefit is limited.  There’s been no difference in cavity rates between states and countries, yet there is a host of ill health effects.  In 2012, a Harvard study demonstrated a link to areas with highly fluorinated water to lower IQs in children who live in these areas.  in addition to neurodevelopmental issues, there’s also been links of high fluoride levels with many other conditions, including dental fluorosis, arthritis, thyroid dysfunction, muscle disorders, dementia, eye problems, tumor growth, etc.  Check out the Fluoride Action Network for more information and data.

Source: Mercola.com

  • Toxic mold:Toxic mold is one of the hidden cause of chronic illness and disease.  Some people can be extremely sensitive to mold and mycotoxins, while others are not affected at all, or to a lesser extent.  Even more astonishing is that these toxins may be contributing to more than 50% of our patient’s illnesses.  Functional medicine doctor Jill Carnahan, M.D. notes that mycotoxins can cause a variety of symptoms, including joint pain, fatigue, respiratory issues and autoimmune disease.  Be sure to review her checklist and suggestions for eliminating the source.  If you think you might be at risk, consider using an ERMI mold test.  Additionally, I would highly recommend Dave Asprey (Bulletproof Exec)’s “Moldy” documentary or “hidden dangers of toxic mold” podcast.  Also, fellow pharmacist Dr. Lori Arnold shares her story on the Food As Medicine podcast.

Take action!

Here are my top 5 recommendations you can do to reduce your body’s toxic overload:

1.  Eat real food.  By eliminating processed foods, you automatically eliminate the dyes, preservatives and GMOs I discussed above.  But, organic produce can be expensive.  If possible, buy organic (especially from the EGW’s Dirty Dozen list) or less expensively from your local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) or Farmers Market whenever possible.

2.  Switch out plastics for glass or stainless steel.  Ditch the plastic water bottles, as it’s bad for the environment and bad for the body.  I love the Life Factory brand, but there’s other brands in most major retailers now, so there’s no excuse!

3.  Swap your skincare products, especially deodorant.  As mentioned above, the EGW Skin Deep database is an excellent resource to find more natural skincare products.  Don’t forget your deodorant, as build up of parabens and aluminum toxicity has a “questionable” link to breast cancer.

4.  Get rid of the fluoride.  Consider using a fluoride filter (like Berkey) for drinking water and showers.  Choose a fluoride free toothpaste, as found in most retailers.  Skip the fluoride treatments and or supplements.

5.  Determine your mold risk.  Review Dr. Carnahan’s mold symptom checklist and determine whether you think mold is affecting your health.  Consider ERMA mold testing for the home and check out the Moldy movie, Bulletproof or FAM podcasts.


Carnahan J.  Is toxic mold exposure the cause of your symptoms?  2015.

Center for Disease Control and Prevention.  Mold FAQ.  2012.

Environmental Working Group.  Skin Deep Database.

Mercola, J.  Gut-Wrenching New Studies Reveal the Insidious Effects of Glyphosate. 2014.

Mercola, J.  Harvard study finds fluoride lowers IQ. 2012.

National Cancer Institute.  Antiperspirants/Deodorants and Breast Cancer. 2008.

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.  Bisphenol A. 2012.

United States Food and Drug Administration.  Food Additive Status List.

What have you done to control environmental toxins?  Share with me below!








The importance of sleep: Get some zzz’s

Quality sleep is a key component for optimal health and fighting any chronic disease, including ADHD.   Sleep issues can be associated with poorer working memory, mood, metabolism, immunity, focus and learning.  The challenges of everyday life prioritize “getting things done” over hitting the sack.  I’ve personally experienced chronic sleep deprivation and know first-hand, the impact it can have on quality of life and overall health.  Making an effort to prioritize sleep can rejuvenate the mind and body, restore critical neurotransmitters, and allow for optimal physical and mental functionality.

Please note the following expert recommendations for sleep:

Age 1-3: 12-14 hours

Age 3-5 11-13 hours

Age 5-11: 10-11 hours

Age 11+: 8.5-9.5 hours

Adults: 7-9 hours

Easier said than done right?  So what can you do?  Here are 6 things to try to improve sleep (for adults and children):

1. Take stimulants early in the day.  Stimulant medications can disrupt sleep.  If you’re using them, try taking a long acting agent early in the day, so the effects have subsided by bedtime.  I absolutely understand the challenges of the “wearing off” period, especially when kids come home from school, when trying to get homework done, etc.  Work with your physician to find an optimal dosing schedule.

2. Stop screen time 1.5-2 hours before bed.  This is HARD!  Considering TV and video games can be considered a “quiet” activity, but it can be over-stimulating for many people.  Reading (an actual book) or taking a bath can help kids wind down and get ready for bedtime.

3. Smart supplementation (especially Vitamin D and magnesium).  I’ve talked about supplementation in a previous post, but Vitamin D3 supplementation, as well as magnesium can be helpful to restore sleep issues. Also, working with a functional medicine practitioner can help identify other micronutrient or neurotransmitter deficiencies (GABA, serotonin, etc), that can be critical to a good night’s sleep.

4.  Try a regular bedtime routine.  BORING!  Actually, keeping kid’s bedtimes intact can tremendously help with the sleep process.  I know after deviating from my own children’s sleep patterns, they can be thrown off for days.  As much as possible, try to keep to the same bedtime and routine (even on the weekends)!

5.  Climate matters.  Keeping a bedroom cool (65-70 degrees) and dark (with room darkening shades or covering any clock lights) can significantly improve sleep quality.

6.  Essential oils.  I am a huge proponent of lavender, vetiver and roman chamomile in helping promote good sleep.  Try diffusing any of these oils or in combination before bed.

Why I DON’T regularly recommend melatonin:

Melatonin is a hormone which regulates sleep.  If sleep is suffering, low-dose melatonin can be given in the short-term (i.e. 1-2 weeks).  Giving it any longer can cause the body to down-regulate it’s natural ability to produce this important hormone.


Sciberras E, DePetro A, Mensah F et al. Association between sleep and working memory in children with ADHD: A cross sectional study.  Sleep Med.  2015 Oct;16(10):1192-7. Epub 2015 Jul 6.

Giustra-Kozek J.  Healing without hurting.  Treating ADHD, Apraxia, and Autism Spectrum Disorders Naturally and Effectively Without Harmful Medication; 2014

Geersteen, L.  7 Ways to Balance Melatonin Naturally.  September 11, 2014.

Prefer to listen?

Revolutionary Health Radio.  Why Most People Are Sleep Deprived and What to do About it.

The Model Health Show Podcast.  Help Me Sleep! – 21 Ways To Cure Your Sleep Problems (Part 1).

The Paleo View Podcast.  Sleep Troubles.

 What do you do to improve your sleep quality? 

Essential Oils 101: A live program Fri 9/15 at 10am

If you’re local to Delaware County (in Pennsylvania), please join me in a live program:

Swarthmore Public Library Presents

Essential Oils 101

Where: Swarthmore Library

When: Tuesday, September 18, 2015 at 10am

IMG_5835            ff_logo_purple

What: Join us for an hour of learning about the powers of essential oils (EOs). Chantell Reagan, a mom and pharmacist, shares her knowledge about the history of EOs, their healing properties, overview of commonly used oils, 3 ways to use oils in everyday life, and how to transform your medicine cabinet to one that is all natural!


All programs are free and open to the public. To register, please call 610-543-0436, or email swarthmore@delcolibraries.org.