This June 21st will mark the 4th anniversary of opening the doors to Elder & Sage, our family-owned herb and remedies shop. Back in 2010 when I first sat down with my parents to discuss opening a business together I don't think any of us could have imagined how things would have happened. In just six short months we left our long term employers, moved four generations of family members from two different cities and started our own business. Since then I have worked with over 500 clients and customers. It has been quite a ride!
My parents are now ready to retire and they deserve it. After 45 years of employment in various retail positions throughout the country – it's time. So, this year I have had some very hard thinking to do:
Could I run both the shop and do my naturopathic consultations?
Is the shop capable of supporting outside employees?
Can I afford to invest the time required to own and operate a retail store?
Perhaps you can see where this might be going. The truth of the matter is my answer to all of these questions is “no”. I love having the shop to work out of but the time investment to manage it on my own is just not feasible. I feel that the time spent managing a retail store would detract from my ability to consult with and research for my clients which is my first priority. I just cannot do it without Mom and Dad.
So, on Friday, May 22nd the shop portion of Elder & Sage will be closing. The business name, website, and Facebook page will continue to be run by me but only for the purposes of my natural health consultations and client education. I will be moving my office into my home and my husband will be handling his CSA and herd-share delivery service out of our home as well. I will maintain relationships with some of our current vendors to supply my clients with the supplements they need and may be able to offer certain product (such as essential oils) through this website at a later date.
Please know that if you have had a health consultation with me in the past or would like to set one up, I will continue to be available for appointments out of my home or by phone/Skype, and email – that will not change. I will be happy to direct you to sources for any of the supplements and retail items you have come to rely on. I will also continue to teach at the Naturopathic Institute of Therapies and Education in Mt. Pleasant and take on students and interns for apprenticeships when I am able. I also hope to offer more classes in the future so stay tuned for that.
The good news is, in many ways I will become more available than before as I attempt to blend my career and home life more seamlessly. So I like to think of this transition as an exciting new adventure and I look forward to continuing our work together on promoting and improving your health. Please feel free to contact me using the updated contact form above. Thank you so much for your loyalty and support these past four years and your continued support as we make this important life transition.
To Your Health!
If you don't have any serious food sensitivities or digestive disorders, here are some of my general recommendations for healthy eating and weight loss. Follow this plan closely - avoid eating out while on this plan so you know exactly what you are eating. Herbs, spices, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, and unrefined sea salt can be used as seasoning to taste.
FAT IS NOT BAD FOR YOU
A minimum of 3 TB of fat should be eaten daily up to unlimited amounts to encourage satiety, boost energy, and help to detoxify the liver as long as they come from the following sources: butter (pastured preferred), ghee, extra virgin olive oil, avocado, flaxseed oil (no more than ½ tsp daily), fish oil, cod liver oil, or coconut oil. Other natural fat sources such as lard, tallow, palm oil, or chicken fat are also allowed but often more difficult to obtain good quality. Processed vegetable oils should be avoided at all costs. It is also important to vary your fat sources to give the body adequate types of fatty acids i.e. don’t rely on olive oil alone for your fat sources. It is difficult to consume too much natural fat as the body has regulatory mechanisms that discourage this (feelings of fullness, discomfort, or nausea). You may find that if you are not used to eating fat you will have to limit your intake initially and slowly increase the daily amount allowing your body to adjust. Remember that fat is not stored in the body as fat – excess calories from refined carbohydrates are.
JUMPSTART DAY – LIQUID FAST
For best results do the jumpstart day once each week on the day of your choice.
Breakfast – Blended drink made with one dark leafy green and two fruits
(example: kale, pear and peach)
Lunch – Blended drink made with two vegetables and one fruit
(example: carrot, celery, apple)
Dinner – Vegetable, beef, fish, or chicken broth
1 TB of coconut oil dissolved in warm water before each meal.
ALL OTHER DAYS
For each meal up to 3 per day - 1 whole grain, fruit, or starchy vegetable, 1 full-fat dairy or protein, unlimited non-starchy vegetables or leafy greens, and at least 1 TB fat
If you find that you only need to eat two meals a day, make sure at least one of these is breakfast! All sweeteners should be limited to no more than 1TB of honey or maple syrup per day.
Drink plenty of water on both the jumpstart days and all other days. At least three tall glasses. Raw milk, Coconut milk diluted with water and herbal tea are also allowed in addition to water intake. Fruit and Vegetable juices should be limited to only the jumpstart days.
EXAMPLES OF FOOD TYPES
Whole Grains (all grains should be cooked whole or freshly ground and not refined) – Quinoa, Brown Rice, Millet, Amaranth, Oats*, Spelt*, Wheat*, Rye*, Barley*, Cornmeal
*Avoid if you are gluten sensitive
Fruit – Fully ripe banana, apple, grapes, pear, peach, melon, berries, etc. Limit dried fruit to 1 Tb.
Starchy Vegetables – Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Winter Squash, Corn
Non-Starchy Vegetables – Broccoli, Peppers*, Tomatoes*, Eggplant*, Carrots, Celery, Peas, Green Beans, Cabbage, Lettuce, Summer Squash, etc.
* Avoid if you are sensitive to nightshades
Leafy Greens – Kale, Collards, Romaine, Dandelion Greens, Chard, Endive, Radicchio, etc.
Full-Fat Dairy – Raw milk, Yogurt, Kefir, Cheese, Buttermilk, etc. Avoid soy or other milk substitutes. Homemade nut or seed milk may be used if you are sensitive to dairy.
Protein – Fish, Beef, Chicken, Eggs, Beans, Nuts, Nut-Butters, Lentils, Liver. Avoid soy or other protein substitutes.
1 serving of whole grain = 1/4 C. uncooked
1 serving of Fruit = 1 piece of large fruit, 2 small, or 1 C. of berries
1 serving of Starchy Vegetable = 1 C.
1 serving of Protein = 2 oz. meat, 2 eggs, ¼ C. beans, nuts, lentils
1 serving of Full-Fat Dairy = 1 C milk, yogurt or kefir; 1 oz. cheese
Supplements - Optional
Bowel Detox (Nature's Sunshine) - take as directed on bottle
Superdophilus (Natren) - Start with 1/4 tsp work slowly up to 2 tsp/day
Bifidonate (Natren) - Start with 1/4 tsp work slowly up to 2 tsp/day
Herbal Trace Minerals (Nature's Sunshine) - take as directed on bottle
Try it out and let me know what you think!
To Your Health!
Kathryn Doran-Fisher, ND, CGP
When feces reach the rectum they should be about 70% water; and 30% a combination of fiber, undigestible materials, dead cells from the body, and bacteria. When these feces reach the toilet they float at first and then slowly sink and begin to fall apart as the fiber in them absorbs more water.The brown color of feces is a result of bile pigments coming from the liver. When feces are not brown, but have a chalky appearance, there is a problem in bile secretion and fat digestion.
Loose, watery stools or diarrhea can be produced by excessive use of laxatives (cathartics, which stimulate bowel contractions by irritation), nervous stress, gut dysbiosis, infection or the presence of toxic substances in the bowel.
Neglecting the urge to eliminate, not drinking enough water, poor bile production, poor hydrochloric acid production, gut dysbiosis, or eating foods low in fruit and vegetable fiber can lead to constipation. This is a clogging of the large intestine caused by waste material building up on the bowel wall to such an extent that feces can hardly pass through.
If you are eating three meals in a day but only producing a bowel movement once in five days, you could have fifteen meals still sitting in your intestines! This accumulation can become tough, hard and black like the rubber of a truck tire. When the bowel is that dirty, it can harbor an amazing variety of very harmful bacteria and parasites. These life forms will multiply on this putrid, decaying material creating toxins, poisons, and noxious debris that will seep through the bowel wall and enter the lymph fluid and bloodstream. Poor bowel condition is the source for many, many disorders in the body from allergies and skin afflictions to heart disease and cancer.
Even when you are having a bowel movement every day; how often or how much is not necessarily an indication of a healthy bowel. Many people will have loose bowels one day, stiff bowels the next, a smelly bowel one day, and so on. It is more important to establish regularity and determine how long it takes for any one meal to pass through the body.
The time it takes for a meal to travel through the digestive tract is called the bowel transit time. Normally it takes eighteen hours for food to go through the body and be eliminated. That means if you have breakfast at 8 AM, you would have a bowel movement just before bedtime. Lunch and dinner would naturally be eliminated in the morning the following day with one bowel movement shortly after rising and one just after breakfast.
The time it takes for food to be digested and eliminated depends upon the amount of roughage in the food and the water content. Bulkier feces travel faster as they provide substance for the bowel muscle to work upon. Otherwise a soft, fiberless stool becomes very difficult for the colon to move along. The longer it takes, the more water is absorbed, making feces compacted and hard so that it becomes difficult to eliminate them.
A healthy bowel has sufficient water, good nerve tone, good muscle tone, plenty of beneficial forms of bacteria, adequate circulation and the right biochemical nutrients in the right amounts. However, these things are not sufficient to bring health to a dirty, toxic-laden bowel. Cleansing must come first, only then can tissue rebuilding take place.
Bowel Transit Time Experiment
Take 2 oz. of liquid chlorophyll or 2 oz. of beet juice with a meal and take note of how long it takes to exit the body.
You will recognize the chlorophyll because your feces will be unmistakably colored dark green or red if using beet juice! Don’t take any more chlorophyll or eat any dark green leafy vegetables until you have passed all of the chlorophyll.
How long did it take? Did you have more than one bowel movement that was green?
What to Do Now
Now that you know what your bowel transit time is, you can start working to improve it. Bowel cleansing can be as simple as getting more dietary fiber from fruits and vegetables. Fiber from grains tend to be a little more harsh on a sensitive bowel lining and should be avoided by those with bowel problems.
You may also want to consider a bowel-cleansing program that uses bulk laxative herbs. Most over the counter laxatives contain substances that irritate the bowel causing it to flush out bowel contents very quickly. Some will pull water from you body tissues and result in loose, watery stools. Bulk laxatives are different because they absorb water and push through the bowel, as dietary fiber would. A good herbal bulk laxative is psyllium. Psyllium will also help to clean the toxic material that has accumulated on the bowel walls.
If your intestinal wall has become dry and irritated you may want to use a mucilaginous herb like slippery elm instead. Slippery elm absorbs water and produces a slimy coating to soothe the bowel wall and ease the passage of dry stools.
Improve overall digestion by taking a food enzyme supplement containing protease, amylase, and lipase enzymes. If hydrochloric acid production is low or you experience frequent heartburn or reflux try taking Betaine HCl or 1 oz. of apple cider vinegar before each meal.
Beneficial forms of bacteria are crucial for a healthy bowel and immune system. Particularly if you have had a recent or frequent dose of antibiotics. Use the lactobacillus or bifidobacteria strains which are the most well documented for improving bowel health. Probiotics are also safe for infants and children.
If muscle tone is your problem, you may need a combination of a bulk laxative with a stimulating laxative like cascara sagrada. Cascara sagrada stimulates the bowel wall, encouraging peristaltic action to move fecal matter through the intestines. White oak bark can also help to tone up the intestinal walls as well as reducing hemorrhoids and diverticula.
Stress can be a major factor in poor bowel health. Without proper nerve function your intestinal system cannot do its job. If your bowel function seems to change constantly even when you are eating regularly, you may need to consider an herbal combination to reduce stress. Nutricalm is a wonderful blend from Nature’s Sunshine that helps to improve nerve function and reduce the effects of stress on the body.
Dietary changes such as the GAPS diet combined with an herbal cleansing programs are very effective, but the healing process can take up to a year or more before you will see a regular, healthy intestinal system. Colon hydrotherapy is another option that can help to speed your recovery. Ask a qualified natural health care professional or GAPS practitioner for more information about any of these.
No matter what program you choose, be sure to drink plenty of fresh, purified water daily. Water helps to keep the mucous lining in the bowel thin and slick to provide lubrication.
Here's to Your Health!
The weather is changing fast! I know that when the temperature swings drastically from hot to cold within a day or two... just about everyone I know will be sick.
Contrary to popular belief, colds are not catching... at least not exactly. When the weather changes the body has to do a major temperature switch to compensate. Have you ever noticed how 55 degrees in the Fall feels so much colder than 55 degrees in February? Your thyroid gland, which acts like your body's thermostat kicks up a notch when the weather cools and the liver starts to produce more heat. And just like the smell you get from your home furnace as it cleans out all the dust accumulated over the summer, your liver cleanses out toxins that have been stored there during the summer months.
But what about germs? Have you ever wondered why some people get sick while others in direct contact with them do not? It's not just a healthy immune system but a healthy body free of excess toxins that will be able to weather the seasonal changes better. Bacteria and viruses are scavengers which feed off of dead, diseased and decaying matter. We have germs living in and around us all the time but it is only when they have food to eat that they multiply in great numbers. In fact, the germs are doing you a favor by digesting all of that waste material because it makes it easier for your body to get rid of it. And all of the symptoms that you feel: runny nose, cough, headache, fever, etc. are the various ways your body cleanses itself. Don't get me wrong, there are certainly some germs that have the ability to go from person to person making them sick, but the healthier you are - the lesser your symptoms will be and the quicker you will recover.
So why haven't we found a cure for the common cold? Because it is a natural way for your body to cleanse itself. Without colds, we would be really sick indeed!
Here are a few of my favorite ways to support my immune system when I've got the sniffles and sneezes:
Blossoms of Health Tea Blend - This wonderful blend of herbs keeps my head clear, drains my sinuses and keeps me functioning throughout the day. I try to keep a steady supply at the ready.
Yarrow - When I really start to feel run down nothing but yarrow does the trick. I make this tea and drink it as hot as I can stand it because it gets more bitter tasting as it cools. This brings the quickest relief from body aches, fevers and that general feeling of malaise.
VS-C Capsules - For those really aggressive viruses this formula from Nature's Sunshine boosts the immune system and knocks those viruses out! Great for chronic viral infections like mono and herpes too. Comes in capsule, concentrated and liquid forms too.
And never underestimate the power of homemade chicken soup! With easy to digest nutrients this food favorite really is good for you. Especially if the broth is made from the bones of the chicken and you add some onions, garlic, herbs like nettles or burdock, and maybe even some immune boosting mushrooms like reishi or shitake. Mmmmmmm!
To Your Health!
Imagine for a moment you've had a really bad day. Your car broke down, you were late for work, a co-worker was talking about you behind your back... you've had a really bad day. Now multiply that feeling ten-fold and you may begin to have some idea of what it feels like to have clinical depression. It is pervasive, it is debilitating, and it affects 1 out of every 10 people.
The most common prescription drug used for depression is a type of anti-depressant called a Specific Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI). These drugs work by inhibiting your brain cells from using the feel-good brain chemical, serotonin, too quickly. They also have many serious side effects and in my opinion very limited success. One of the most serious side effects from an SSRI is increased risk of suicide! Not exactly the results you were looking for, right?
Many people have experienced benefit from using 5-HTP to increase the brain's production of serotonin. 5-HTP has been shown to provide significant improvements in depression, equivalent to or better than prescription anti-depressants and with fewer, much more mild side effects, if any. Our version of 5-HTP, called 5-HTP Power also contains some adaptogenic herbs and other nutrients to enhance brain and body function.
But I also have to question, why are the neurotransmitters out of balance to begin with? With a little research we find that serotonin is found not only in the central nervous system but also the gastro-intestinal tract. In fact, 80% of the serotonin in the body is found in the digestive tract where it is produced by cells lining the intestinal walls.
Many other nutrient deficiencies are connected with depression including Vitamin A, the B-Vitamins, Vitamin D, zinc, etc. Coincidentally these are the very same nutrients that are missing when the digestive system in out of balance. How do you know whether your digestive system is out of balance? You would experience any number of digestive discomforts including gas, bloating, heartburn, diarrhea, constipation, pain in the lower abdominal area, bad breath, tooth problems and more. By addressing these digestive issues you can get at the root cause of the depression rather than only treating the symptoms.
Cholesterol levels that are too low are another often ignored cause of depression. Despite what many doctors will tell you, the research shows that high cholesterol is only a risk factor (and a very weak risk factor at that) for men under the age of 50 with cholesterol levels over 300 points. For everyone else, high cholesterol levels are actually associated with greater longevity and less risk of cancer. And the side effects to artificially lowering blood cholesterol levels through the use of statin drugs are depression, reduced libido, increased risk of suicide, and more. Cholesterol is needed by the body to produce many important hormones including the neurotransmitters in the brain!
Vitamin D deficiency is another common cause of depression. Most people will tell you to just get out into the sun and your body will produce all the vitamin D you need. But did you know that your body will only produce one type of Vitamin D from sun exposure and it is formed out of cholesterol? Even then, here in the northern latitudes it is difficult to get enough exposure to adequately provide for the body's needs. It is much better, and in some cases crucial, to supplement with vitamin D in the diet. You also need to make sure that you are getting the proper ratio of vitamin A to Vitamin D as either one can be toxic without the other to balance it. The ratio of Vitamin A to Vitamin D should be 10 to 1. This can be easily acquired through a supplement of high vitamin cod liver oil. Unfortunately most commercial forms of cod liver oil are devoid of Vitamin D due to the processing technique. There is only one company that I am familiar with that has the proper Vitamin A to D ratio and that is the only brand we carry at Elder & Sage.
For more information on how to improve your health naturally call us at 616-242-1355 to set up an appointment.
Dr. Kathryn Doran-Fisher, ND
Taking charge of your health is a very important step to preventing chronic illness and disease but it can be hard to figure out which supplements are the best for your body. One of the first things I do is ask my clients to give me a list of all of the supplements they are taking and I'm often surprised to find they are taking more than I do! I've had clients dump grocery bags full of bottles on my desk in exasperation. With so much information out there about so many different supplements it's easy to start to think that you need them all. Zinc and Vitamin C for colds, Calcium for the bones, Magnesium for the muscles, Bilberry for the eyes, Gingko for the brain, Ginseng for stress, St. John's Wort for depression, Echinacea, Fish Oil, Flax Seed Oil, Spirulina, Red Yeast Rice... That's a lot of pills to swallow!
It's much easier to use the body systems approach to health. You may find that by supporting the body system that is weakest, all other body systems will come into balance. Do you have achy joints? Your structural system is weak. Illness more than twice a year? Build the immune system first. High Blood Pressure? You may need to nourish your urinary system.
There is a great questionnaire found here that can help you determine which body system you should focus on. Just check the boxes next to any symptoms you may be experiencing. The health analyzer will then tell you which body system needs extra nutritional support in order of importance. It will also suggest a few products that will help and you can purchase them directly from the website. Any purchases will help bring Elder & Sage closer to having a physical location in Southeast Grand Rapids. Once we are there we can continue to refine and support your health program with professional consultations and therapies. If you need help in the meantime, feel free to contact us.
The health assessment is the best place for you to get started on the road to better health.
Kathryn Doran-Fisher is a Traditional Naturopath, Certified GAPS Practitioner and owner of Elder & Sage.