Living Well Blog: Saratoga's Holistic Health Forum

My interest in food addiction piqued when I started working with men and women who came to me for a wide-range of health issues. No matter the subject of wellness support, weight always seemed to be an additional concern.

I noticed a pattern in my clients that tended to delay results or cause a return of symptoms. It was based on the roller-coaster of a dysfunctional relationship to certain detrimental foods. For some, it appeared to be an actual addiction. They wanted to be healthy, and were even given well-respected and legitimate advice from previous practitioners. Still, the knowledge of "the right foods to eat," and the ever-changing, dizzying lists of "good foods" and "bad foods" didn't seem to change their behavior. Why?

So, I began searching and applying my background in psychology, mind-body medicine, naturopathic philosophy, and functional medicine and discovered that yes, food could be a form of addiction. Though not reported as very common, an average of less 10% in several studies, I feel that the perhaps an "unease" around food is very common.

In short time, I quickly learned that dietary changes, no matter how balanced or extreme, only stuck so long "the psychology of eating," a term coined by nutritional guru Marc David, was not considered. Other factors that affect cravings and willpower, such as biochemical differences in brain signaling, hormonal imbalances, sleep, lifestyle, nutrient deficiencies, digestive disturbances, and eating foods that are designed to be addictive without consumer's knowledge,were reviewed recently and in some of my previous blogs. The solution was clear, recommendations had to be personalized.

For this reason, I was excited to see a recent study of 1,607 individuals (1,269 completed the study) across seven European contents that demonstrated greater gains in dietary change adjustments in a dietary plan that included personalized nutrition (PN) advice.  

In the study, subjects were recruited to an internet-delivered intervention (Food4Me) and randomized to receive conventional dietary advice (control) or to the PN approach. PN was based on either an individual baseline diet, an individual baseline diet plus phenotype (anthropometry and blood biomarkers), or individual baseline diet plus phenotype plus genotype (five diet-responsive genetic variants). In this way, researchers could compare the effects of dietary targets based on personalized advice and how additional information on phenotype and genetics would influence follow through.

Outcomes were based on dietary intake, anthropometry, and blood biomarkers measured at baseline and after 3 and 6 months' intervention. The authors stated:

Following a 6-month intervention, participants randomized to PN consumed less red meat [-5.48g, (95% confidence interval:-10.8,-0.09), P=0.046], salt [-0.65g, (1.1,-0.25), P=0.002] and saturated fat [-1.14 % of energy, (1.6,-0.67), P<0.0001], increased folate [29.6µg, (0.21,59.0), P=0.048] intake and had higher Healthy Eating Index scores [1.27, (0.30, 2.25), P =0.010) than those randomized to the control arm. There was no evidence that including phenotypic and phenotypic plus genotypic information enhanced the effectiveness of the PN advice.

Now, I'll review some caveats of a low saturated intake for everyone in a future blog, but the point is that by providing individuals with specific dietary advice based on their genetics and current health status wasn't as powerful as an internet-based tailored program that was specific for them. In other words, feedback and interaction count for changing food habits.

Weight loss and optimizing nutrition isn't just about knowledge of food and controlling intake, but about providing comprehensive tools that fully address the whole person. In fact, even their sense of smell and taste can be impactful in modulating appetite. I just wrote a blog on my homepage on how even our sense of smell may impact hunger cues and dietary choices. You can read that here.



Meule A. How Prevalent is "Food Addiction"? Frontiers in Psychiatry. 2011;2:61. doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2011.00061.

Flint AJ, Gearhardt AN, Corbin WR, Brownell KD, Field AE, Rimm EB. Food addiction scale measurement in 2 cohorts of middle-aged and older women. American Journal of Nutrition. January 22, 2014. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.113.068965

Gunnars K. How Common is Food Addiction? A Critical Look. Authority Nutrition.

NewCastle University. Personalized nutrition is better than a 'one size fits all' approach in improving diets. Science Daily. August 16, 2016. 

Celis-Morales C, Livingston KM, Marsaux CFM, Macready AL, Fallaize R, O'Donovan CB, et al. Effect of personalized nutrition on health-related behaviour change: evidence from the Food4me European randomized controlled trial. International Journal of Epidemiology, August 14, 2016.

Cordain L, Eaton SB, Sebastain A, Mann N, Lindeberg S, Watkins BA, O'Keefe JH, Brand Miller. Origins and evolution of the Western diet: health implications for the 21st century. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, February 2005; 81(2):341-354.


The Importance of Smell

I just posted an article on my website on the power of olfaction and its link to our health, as well as our mortality. Specially, the sense of smell is intricate for human survival. It modulates appetite and food preferences, is important for detection of danger in the environment, is involved in pain processing and the stress response, effects social relationships, and has a profound impact on our emotions, memory, and physiological responses. Furthermore, several studies have reported on the link between loss of smell and aging, cognitive decline, and increase risk of death from all causes. Thankfully, even without the sense of smell, essential oils and odors have an interesting correlation to modulating the same processes as olfaction alone, but in different ways. In this blog, I'll use the example of Parkinson's Disease (PD).


A Quick Background on Parkinson's Disease

Scientists believe PD is a result of the combination of environmental, genetics, and epigenetic factors (how the environment effects gene expression). Many studies have linked abnormal alpha-synuclein, clumps of proteins found in the brain and other tissues, to the disease process. In fact, accumulation in the gastrointestinal tract of this protein is becoming a studied brain-gut etiology. The World Journal of Gastroenterology states the following on these links as well as the connection to smell being an indicator of this disease:

The classical motor symptoms like bradykinesia, resting tremor, rigidity and late postural instability result from the death of dopamine-generating cells in the substantia nigra. There is also a wide spectrum of non-motor manifestations involving for example olfactory (loss of smell), gastrointestinal (GI), cardiovascular, and urogenital systems [3]. It has become evident that the different levels of the brain-gut axis including the autonomic nervous system (ANS) and the enteric nervous system (ENS) may be affected in PD [4-8]. (bold emphasis mine)


The Smell Connection of Detection

Science Daily reported:

Now, a new laboratory model of Parkinson's is giving scientists an inside look at what happens in the brain years before motor symptoms appear. Specifically, it demonstrates how abnormal alpha-synuclein proteins, which are strongly associated with Parkinson's, gradually spread from an area of the brain implicated in the early stages of the disease to other regions of the brain ultimately damaged by the disease. The findings were published today in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.

The article continues:

"We know that specific signs of Parkinson's, including a loss of sense of smell, appear years before the onset of motor symptoms. Our new model replicates the phase that occurs long before diagnosis and, importantly, gives us a powerful tool to test novel interventions that might prevent the onset of Parkinson's as we know it."

The study demonstrates that alpha-synuclein travels along nerve cells in the olfactory bulb -- the part of the brain that controls sense of smell -- prior to the onset of motor symptoms and that this area may be particularly susceptible to the spread of alpha-synuclein, ultimately causing deficits in the sense of smell. Clumps of alpha-synuclein eventually reach several additional brain regions, including the brainstem area that houses dopamine cells. (bold emphasis mine)

The researchers are hoping these findings will lead to a new model to study PD. However, there has been causative agents explored previously.


The Environmental Effect of Smell on PD

There have been prior reports of the connection between olfaction, environmental triggers, and Parkinson's disease. This theory is termed the "olfactory vector hypothesis." Annals of Neurology explains:

Environmental agents, including viruses, prions, and toxins, have been implicated in the cause of a number of neurodegenerative diseases, most notably Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. The presence of smell loss and the pathological involvement of the olfactory pathways in the formative stages of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, together with evidence that xenobiotics, some epidemiologically linked to these diseases, can readily enter the brain via the olfactory mucosa, have led to the hypothesis that Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases may be caused or catalyzed by agents that enter the brain via this route. Evidence for and against this concept, the "olfactory vector hypothesis," is addressed in this review.

In other words, the sense of smell can be an entry way to toxicants through the nose to the brain and throughout the body! However, there's good news for aroma inhalation as well!


The Essential Oils Connection

Essential oils have the ability to modulate emotion, memory, and physiological responses through their aroma and also due to their powerful secondary metabolites. Furthermore, essential oils have the power to modulate the health of the gut and brain. In fact, there's information on my essential oils database on how oils can modulate many aspects of health and my latest blog discusses how even without the sense of smell, odorants have powerful effects.

So, make sure you check it out for more information. For now, know that by using essential oils, you are powerfully practicing preventative medicine through the linkage of your nose to your brain and supporting your gut-brain connection.



Hays NP, Roberts SB. The anorexia of aging in humans. Physiol Behav. 2006;88: 257-266. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2006.05.029

Jacob S, Garcia S, Hayreh D, McClintock MK. Psychological effects of musky compounds: comparison of androstadienone with androstenol and muscone [abstract]. Horm Behav. 2002; 42: 274-283. doi: 10.1006/hbeh.2002.1826

Fox K. The Smell Report. Social Issues Research Center.

Krusemark EA, Novak LR, Gitelman DR, Li W. When the Sense of Smell Meets Emotion: Anxiety-State-Dependent Olfactory Processing and Neural Circuitry Adaptation. The Journal of Neuroscience. 2013;33(39):15324-15332. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1835-13.2013.

Corradi-Dell'Acqua C, TuscheA, Vullieumier P, Singer T.  Cross-modal representations of first-hand and vicarious pain, disgust and fairness in insular and cingulate cortex. Nature Communications. March 18, 2016. doi:10.1038/ncomms10904

Masaoka Y, Sugiyama H, Katayama A, Kashiwagi M, Homma I. Slow breathing and emotions associated with odor-induced autobiographical memories. Chem Senses. 2012 May;37(4):379-88. doi: 10.1093/chemse/bjr120.

Vermetten E, Schmahl C, Southwick SM, Bremner JD. A Positron Tomographic Emission Study of Olfactory Induced Emotional Recall in Veterans with and without Combat-related Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Psychopharmacology bulletin. 2007;40(1):8-30.

Gottfried JA. Central mechanisms of odour object perception. Nature reviews Neuroscience. 2010;11(9):628-641. doi:10.1038/nrn2883.

Van Andel Research Institute. New model recreates early spread of Parkinson's disease in the brain. Science Daily. August 8, 2016.

Mulak A, Bonaz B. Brain-gut-microbiota axis in Parkinson's disease. World Journal of Gastroenterology:WJG. 2015;21(37):10609-10620. doi:10.3748/wjg.v21.i37.10609.

Nolwen L. Rey, Jennifer A. Steiner, Nazia Maroof, Kelvin C. Luk, Zachary Madaj, John Q. Trojanowski, Virginia M.-Y. Lee, Patrik Brundin. Widespread transneuronal propagation of α-synucleinopathy triggered in olfactory bulb mimics prodromal Parkinson's disease. The Journal of Experimental Medicine, 2016; jem.20160368 DOI: 10.1084/jem.20160368

Chamine Irina and Oken Barry S. Aroma Effects on Physiologic and Cognitive Function Following Acute Stress: A Mechanism Investigation. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. June 2016. doi:10.1089/acm.2015.0349.

Doty R. The olfactory vector hypothesis of neurodegenerative disease: Is it viable? Ann Neurol.2008;63:7-15

Prediger RDS, Aguiar AS, Matheus FC, et al. Neurotox Res. 2012; 21: 90. doi:10.1007/s12640-011-9281-8

Misra BB, Dey S. TLC-bioautographic evaluation of in vitro anti-tyrosinase and anti-cholinesterase potentials of sandalwood oil. Nat Prod Commun. 2013 Feb;8(2):253-6.

Fernández LF, Palomino OM, Frutos G. Effectiveness of Rosmarinus officinalis essential oil as antihypotensive agent in primary hypotensive patients and its influence on health-related quality of life. J Ethnopharmacol. 2014;151(1):509-16. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2013.11.006. Epub 2013 Nov 20.

Last week, I discussed food as an addiction. On my homepage, I provided a continuation of how food can be medicine and food can poison. In it, I highlighted the power of eating fish for brain health. Recently, a study caught my eye relating salmon consumption to reducing anxiety in ninety-five male forensic inpatients.

Specifically, the study investigated how consumption of Atlantic salmon could modulate biology and self-reported anxiety. The researchers measured heart rate variability (HRV) and heart rate (HR) as indicators of the nervous system response to dietary components. Furthermore, they investigated the outcome measures in relation to specific nutrients such as Vitamin D status and two omega-3 fatty acids: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The participants were randomly assigned to the fish group (portion size 150-300g) or a meat group. The meals were consumed three times a weak. HRV (using root mean square deviation, rMSSD), HR, and state-and trait-anxiety (STAI) were analyzed pre-intervention and after 23 weeks of the dietary intervention. The study reported:

The Fish group showed significant improvements in both rMSSD and HR. The Fish group also showed significant decreases in state-anxiety. Finally, there was a positive relationship between rMSSD and vitamin D status. The findings suggest that Atlantic salmon consumption may have an impact on mental health related variables such as underlying mechanisms playing a key role in emotion-regulation and state-anxiety.

The authors also analyzed for levels of mercury, dioxins, and dioxin-like PCBs found in the fish. They concluded even with 31% of tolerable weekly limit (TWI) in a person weighing 100 kg, there were no adverse effects:

The content of several undesirable substances was also determined in the Atlantic salmon. The level of mercury was 22 µg/kg, and the level of dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs was 0.48 ng TEQ/kg; both are far below the EUs upper limits of 500 µg/kg and 6.5 ng TEQ/kg in fish, respectively. Taking into account the amount of salmon consumed per week during the weeks with the highest salmon intake, the intake of dioxin and dioxin-like PCBs per week represents 31% of the tolerable weekly intake (TWI) in a person weighing 100 kg [27]. Persons with higher body weight will have a correspondingly lower percentage of TWI. Importantly, no adverse side effects were reported during the intervention trial [12].

A recent E-blast by Trudy Scott, CN, commented on the study findings and made similar observations as me. She stated:

  • The salmon was farmed and mercury and dioxin levels were measured. Despite this, mental health benefits and reduced anxiety was observed. I suspect even more favorable results would have been observed had wild salmon been used
  • The authors mention that a longer intervention as in this study i.e. 23 weeks/6 months is likely to lead to better results than a shorter intervention
  • The Fish group had a significant increase in both omega-3 fatty acids: EPA and DHA
  • The authors speculate about how improved vitamin D status in the Fish group may help regulate serotonin production and thereby help regulate heart rate variability and reduce anxiety
  • The study highlights nutritional benefits of fatty fish other than marine omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D: selenium, iodine, vitamin B12 and high quality proteins. I'd like to add that it is a source of zinc and iron too, both of which are co-factors for making brain chemicals.
  • Although the study found a significant decrease in state-anxiety, it did not find any changes in trait-anxiety (here are the differences in state-anxiety and trait-anxiety). The authors suggest that trait-anxiety may be more difficult to change during a 6-month intervention study. I'd like to add that other concurrent nutritional and biochemical interventions would likely have provided additional mental health benefits. This could include: a gluten-free diet, targeted individual amino acids, addressing dysbiois, addressing high or low histamine, pyroluria, and zinc-copper imbalances and son on.

In another study, supporting brain benefits for fish consumption, those on a fishy diet had lowered risk of depression:

Fish contains high concentrations of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Several studies have reported depletions of omega-3 fats among depressed patients, and a cross-national comparison has revealed a significant inverse correlation between annual prevalence of major depression and fish consumption. In a sample of 3,204 Finnish adults, depressive symptoms were estimated with the Beck Depression Inventory. A frequency question was used to measure fish consumption. Multiple logistic regression analysis was conducted to assess the association between depression and fish consumption. After the analysis adjusted for potential confounders, the likelihood of having depressive symptoms was significantly higher among infrequent fish consumers than among frequent consumers.

Last year, I wrote about how fish oil was shown in several studies to reduce hostility in troubled youth. You can read about that here and learn more about the importance of a fishy diet for brain health.



Hansen AL, Olson G, Dahl L, et al. Reduced Anxiety in Forensic Inpatients after a Long-Term Intervention with Atlantic Salmon. Nutrients. 2014;6(12):5405-5418. doi:10.3390/nu6125405.

Scott, Trudy. Reduced anxiety in forensic inpatients - long-term intervention with Atlantic salmon. E-Blast. August 8, 2016.

Tanskanen A, Hibbeln JR, Tuomilehto J, Uutela A, Haukkala A, Viinamäki H, Lehtonen J, Vartiainen E. Fish consumption and depressive symptoms in the general population in Finland. Psychiatr Serv. 2001 Apr;52(4):529-31.

Freeman, MP, et al 2006. Omega-3 fatty acids: evidence basis for treatment and future research in psychiatry. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry 67 (12): 1954-1976. Review.




Being a naturopathic doctor and functional medicine practitioner, I've worked with many people who have various food sensitivities and disordered eating patterns. A few weeks ago, I did a presentation on my book, BreakFree Medicine, at Nature Tyme, a wonderful health food store located in Syracuse, NY. In my presentation, I took some time to discuss the topic of food addiction. (Click here to access the presentation and read an overview. You will also find the top health news for July 2016 there.)

Below are some articles I wrote throughout the years on this topic. In them, I discuss the emerging and current research on food addiction. I also discuss the importance of looking at the biochemistry when willpower is weak. Within the full links, you can access more studies at the end of each article... if you want to dive deeper into the propeller-hat-geeky science of the original sources.

Why Humans Eat Junk Food and Find It Hard to Stop (Part 1 of 2): This blog discusses how the food industry uses science to manipulate our taste buds in order to make us want to eat and buy more of their products:


Why Are We Addicted to Food? (Part 2 of 2): This blog reviews the biochemistry of food addiction and the psychological connections. I discuss the dopamine and neurotransmitter connections and the development of the Yale Food Addiction Scale. If you want to get more resources and studies on food addiction, this blog and the one below are great places to start:


What's Making Americans and Little Ones So "At Large?" The Obesity Epidemic, It's Not Just a "Food and Exercise" Thing:

In this blog I reveal 6 reasons, beyond the calorie myth of being overweight including 

 1. Americans aren't starving, but they are dieting. This means they are constantly hungry.

2. Nutritional deficiencies

3. Insufficient Fiber & the microbiome connection

4. Inactivity

5. Fast Food Restaurants and Junk Foods (With an honorable mention about artificial sweeteners:

6. Isolation

Read it here:

The Next Nutrient War Era- Why We Are On the Losing Side of Weight Loss: This blog goes into detail on the factors that affect weight, beyond nutrient composition and calories. I discussed them on "The Dirty 'D' Word" on Natural Path (

·         Stress

·         Hormones

·         Digestive health (including the microbiome)

·         Activity level

·         Genetics

·         Gender

·         Toxins

·         Sleep

·         Neurotransmitter balance


Upcoming Support:

Food as Medicine, Food as Poison, Dealing with Food as a (Sweet) Addiction: Part I: I recently wrote an article that goes into further detail on food as an addiction. It also reviews how food can be a medicine for health and how junk food can be poison to the body. I will be posting this on my website next week, so stay tuned.


Food as Medicine, Food as Poison, Dealing with Food as a (Sweet) Addiction: Part II: In an article that I will be posting soon, which is published on Natural Path, I discuss five ways to help support those with a problem with food addiction or unhealthy eating patterns. These are a preview of the Five (5) Key Ways to kick the sugar and junk food habit:

·         Know if You're a "Moderator" or "Abstainer"

·         Exercise

·         Use Stress Reduction and Mindfulness

·         Support Brain Balance (balance the different areas of the brain by using specific nutrients to target imbalances and support neurotransmitter balance through hormonal modulation, microbiome health, blood sugar balance).

·         Modulate Mood and Emotions with Essential Oils

Stay tuned for the full article to be posted on my website.

To Fast or to Eat- Is There Still Room for Breakfast? All the confusion! How about fasting? In this blog, I explore the caveats of the "fasting crave," and highlight who it may help. Hint- ladies, you won't want to miss this! (


The Fructose- Alcohol Connection

As I was writing this blog, I came upon a study I had not seen before. This study compared the "metabolic, hedonic, and societal similarities" between fructose and alcohol. This was a unique way to assess how food could be similar to a substance of abuse. The authors wrote:

Rates of fructose consumption continue to rise nationwide and have been linked to rising rates of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. Because obesity has been equated with addiction, and because of their evolutionary commonalities, we chose to examine the metabolic, hedonic, and societal similarities between fructose and its fermentation byproduct ethanol. Elucidation of fructose metabolism in liver and fructose action in brain demonstrate three parallelisms with ethanol. First, hepatic fructose metabolism is similar to ethanol, as they both serve as substrates for de novo lipogenesis, and in the process both promote hepatic insulin resistance, dyslipidemia, and hepatic steatosis. Second, fructosylation of proteins with resultant superoxide formation can result in hepatic inflammation similar to acetaldehyde, an intermediary metabolite of ethanol. Lastly, by stimulating the "hedonic pathway" of the brain both directly and indirectly, fructose creates habituation, and possibly dependence; also paralleling ethanol. Thus, fructose induces alterations in both hepatic metabolism and central nervous system energy signaling, leading to a "vicious cycle" of excessive consumption and disease consistent with metabolic syndrome. On a societal level, the treatment of fructose as a commodity exhibits market similarities to ethanol. Analogous to ethanol, societal efforts to reduce fructose consumption will likely be necessary to combat the obesity epidemic.

Source: Lustig RH. Fructose: metabolic, hedonic, and societal parallels with ethanol. J Am Diet Assoc. 2010 Sep;110(9):1307-21. doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2010.06.008.


Summary: Our nation is either obsessed, addicted, or caught in the mirage of diet confusion in regards to food. I hope these resources provide you with some information that can help you, or someone you know, who is struggling with their eating patterns. Remember, when willpower won't work, you have to ask why? Biochemistry and emotions will trump willpower everytime! 



On my homepage blog, I outlined the health issues related to biotoxin exposure and reviewed the resultant Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS) in susceptible individuals. This blog is a continuation of dealing with mold exposure and goes into detail about environmental mold testing. It is meant to be a resource guide for those who are concerned they may have mold in their dwelling.

I recently listed to a podcast with Chris Kresser and Mike Schrantz on how to test for mold. Mike currently owns and operates Environmental Analytics, LLC, an environmental consulting firm. Through my studies and this podcast, I've compiled some caveats and considerations related to environmental testing for mold.


Air Sampling

Many people use air sampling, which may be helpful in some situations, but has several limitations.

·         Not all molds float in air (some are heavier, some are lighter, some settle out quicker, some dry, some are too "stick.".)

  •  The sample itself may be accurate, but limited by a "grab sample." A "grab sample" only collects about 5 minutes' worth of air and may not represent the whole house.
  • Some heavier molds may be on the surface and only show up minimally in the air sample, making the air sample appear normal



Dr. Shoemaker, the "guru" on this topic, recommends ERMI (Environmental Relative Moldiness Index) using the lab Mycometrics. This method involves getting a sample of dust off of surfaces or using a vacuum to collect dust. Then, you send it in for assessment via a DNA test.

The main issue with ERMI is quality of labs and that the test is dependent on good quality of probes and primers. Therefore, you must pick your lab wisely.


Other Caveats and Considerations of Mold Sampling:

  • You should collect more than one sample
  • Some mold is hidden within walls/foundation and may not be detected
  • Some mold can only be detected under certain conditions (temperature, moisture, etc.)
  • Neither methods consider the mold outside the home and the change inside, only a professional can do that
  • ERMI is an average of what molds are considered a problem, some people may be sensitive to some at lower levels or another species not tested


A complete review of mold in the home is thoroughly outlined by Harriet Ammam, a toxicologist from Washington State Department of Health. She states that there are four categories of health effects of mold: allergy, infection, irritation (mucous membrane and sensory), and toxicity. She lists the following caveats, though some of them have been revised as more research has been indicated:

·         Few toxicological experiments involving mycotoxins have been performed using inhalation, the most probable route for indoor exposures. Defenses of the respiratory system differ from those for ingestion (the route for most mycotoxin experiments). Experimental evidence suggests the respiratory route to produce more severe responses than the digestive route (Cresia et al., 1987)

  • Effects from low level or chronic low level exposures, or ingestion exposures to mixtures of mycotoxins, have generally not been studied, and are unknown...
  • Effects of multiple exposures to mixtures of mycotoxins in air, plus other toxic air pollutants present in all air breathed indoors, are not known.
  • Effects of other biologically active molecules, having allergic or irritant effects, concomitantly acting with mycotoxins, are not known.
  • Measurement of mold spores and fragments varies, depending on instrumentation and methodology used. Comparison of results from different investigators is rarely, if ever, possible with current state of the art.
  • While many mycotoxins can be measured in environmental samples, it is not yet possible to measure mycotoxins in human or animal tissues. For this reason exposure measurements rely on circumstantial evidence such as presence of contamination in the patient's environment, detection of spores in air, combined with symptomology in keeping with known experimental lesions caused by mycotoxins, to establish an association with illness.
  • Response of individuals exposed indoors to complex aerosols varies depending on their age, gender, state of health, and genetic make-up, as well as degree of exposure.
  • Microbial contamination in buildings can vary greatly, depending on location of growing organisms, and exposure pathways. Presence in a building alone does not constitute exposure.
  • Investigations of patients' environments generally occur after patients have become ill, and do not necessarily reflect the exposure conditions that occurred during development of the illness. ... (you can read the full article and list at the link below)


Testing with Experts:

Due to the caveats, self-testing is rarely accurate. You can try and find professionals in your area by visiting the following site: Look for professionals with CIEC, CMC, or CMI certifications. Another option would be to set up a consult with experts here:


What Happens if Mold is Found...or if it Isn't but Symptoms Are Present

Ah-ha, that's a good question! In my homepage blog I go through these tips, so visit it here.



Chris Kresser. RHR: How To Test Your Home for Mold, with Mike Schrantz. February 2016.

Lin K-T, Shoemaker RC. Inside Indoor Air Quality: Environmental Relative Moldiness Index (ERMI).

Ammann, HM. Is Indoor Mold Contamination a Threat to Health?

CDC. Mold: Cleanup and Remediation:

Atadtner A. Mold Testing - Air Quality Lab Interpretation. Healthy Building Inspections and Testing. February 14, 2013.

EPA. About the National Exposure Research Laboratory (NERL).

Meheust, D., J. Gangneux, T. Reponen, L. Wymer, S. Vesper, AND P. Le Cann. Correlation between environmental relative moldiness index (ERMI) values in French dwellings and other measures of fungal contamination. SCIENCE OF THE TOTAL ENVIRONMENT. Elsevier BV, AMSTERDAM, Netherlands, 438:319-324, (2012).

Additional references on ERMI:

I know it's not just me that is "in love with the bugs" and all they do for us. I think the whole world's really gone buggy. I'm talking about our microbiota, the ecology of bugs that live in and on us. They interact with our own cells and modulate our biology in so many ways.

Whenever I get a cool study on critters and share it on social media, people tend to get excited and show it with their little hearts and likes. However, I got bugged recently by a blog that made a conclusion that probiotics weren't effective due to one review of seven studies. The authors determined there was no change in fecal microbiome population with their ingestion; therefore, probiotics weren't a good health tool.  What!?

So, I had to write a blog on my homepage in defense of the actions of probiotics. I went beyond poo population changes, even though other studies have found changes in fecal samples by swallowing bugs. For example, a recent review on weight loss did determine there may be a small, but significant effect, of taking probiotics in certain populations, though there were some limitations in the trials. Although swallowing critters to lose weight is still pretty controversial, their effects on our health in so many other ways isn't. In fact, there were two recent studies on their role in multiple sclerosis.

For example, there was a study from Science Daily finding an association between those with multiple sclerosis and the ratio of "bad bugs" to "good guys" in their belly. Following this, a few weeks later, was another study on the same topic.

In this article, researchers found that 60 subjects with multiple sclerosis (MS) had different compositions of gut microorganisms as compared to their 43 healthy counterparts. Furthermore, they discovered that the MS patients that were being treated had different gut populations than the untreated patients. What I found fascinating with this study is that the scientists didn't just study populations of microbial changes with the fecal samples, they also assessed serum levels of immune markers (cytokine and inflammatory measurement) and correlated alterations in genetic expression of certain immune cells (T cells and monocytes). Finally, they measured methane in breath tests, as a rudimentary marker of methane producing bacteria present. Quite an experiment! (Hence, the long list of authors in the reference section needed to carry out such a feat!)

 Science Daily reported on these findings as stated below:

Samples from MS patients contained higher levels of certain bacterial species -- including Methanobrevibacter and Akkermansia -- and lower levels of others -- such as Butyricimonas -- when compared to healthy samples. Other studies have found that several of these microorganisms may drive inflammation or are associated with autoimmunity. Importantly, the team also found that microbial changes in the gut correlated with changes in the activity of genes that play a role in the immune system. The team also collected breath samples from subjects, finding that, as a result of increased levels of Methanobrevibacter, patients with MS had higher levels of methane in their breath samples. The researchers also investigated the gut microbe communities of untreated MS patients, finding that MS disease-modifying therapy appeared to normalize the gut microbiomes of MS patients.

So, if anyone had a doubt that these little critters are modulating our immune response, these two studies that show which ones are present in our guts are associated with an autoimmune disease such as MS, may turn some into believers! This association wasn't a big surprise to me though, I think almost everything can connect back to the gut. I had a hunch on the connections between gut bugs, coffee, and MS a little while back, if you remember (see here:

Therefore, treat your belly bugs good with lifestyle and diet and they will treat you well. Read more here.



Qingqing Zhang, Yucheng Wu, Xiaoqiang Fei. Effect of probiotics on body weight and body-mass index: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized, controlled trials. International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, 2016; 67 (5): 571 DOI: 10.1080/09637486.2016.1181156

Kristensen NB, Bryrup T,  Allin KH, Nielsen T, Hansen TH, Pederson O. Alterations in fecal microbiota composition by probiotic supplementation in healthy adults: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Genome Medicine.2016; 8:52. DOI: 10.1186/s13073-016-0300-5

Hemarajata P, Versalovic J. Effects of probiotics on gut microbiota: mechanisms of intestinal immunomodulation and neuromodulation. Therapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology. 2013;6(1):39-51. doi:10.1177/1756283X12459294.

Selhub EM, Logan AC, Bested AC. Fermented foods, microbiota, and mental health: ancient practice meets nutritional psychiatry. Journal of Physiological Anthropology. 2014. DOI: 10.1186/1880-6805-33-2

Ahmed M, Prasad J, Gill H, Stevenson L, Gopal P: Impact of consumption of different levels of Bifidobacterium lactis HN019 on the intestinal microflora of elderly human subjects. J Nutr Health Aging. 2007, 11: 26-31.

University of Iowa Health Care. Link between gut bacteria, MS discovered: MS patients show lower levels of good bacteria. ScienceDaily. June 2016.

Brigham and Women's Hospital. Changes uncovered in the gut bacteria of patients with multiple sclerosis: Study finds alterations in the gut microbiomes of treated and untreated MS patients. ScienceDaily. 12 July 2016.

Jangi S, Gandhi R, Cox LM, Li N, von Glehn F, Yan R, Patel B, Mazzola MA, Liu S, Glanz B, Cook S, Tankous S, Stuart F, Melo K, Nejad P, Smith K, Topcuolu BD, Holden J, Kivisakk P, Chitnis T, De Jager PL, Quintana FJ, Gerber GK, Bry , Weiner HL.. Alterations of the human gut microbiome in multiple sclerosis. Nature Communications. 2016; 7: 12015 DOI: 10.1038/NCOMMS12015

I just finished posting a blog on my homepage on the power of nurturing our nature for optimizing health outcomes. I discussed the effects of childhood adverse events and parental styles on children's physical, emotional, and social well-being. You can read about this and how other environmental factors impact health outcomes here. With this information, you can gain a better understanding of your own emotional responses and discover how your lifestyle choices can influence your well-being.

However, did you know that one of the most powerful healing modalities can't be found in a technique, dietary theory, supplement, or medicine?

In this blog, I want to focus on one of the most important "environmental exposures" we have- our connections to others. Studies strongly support that isolation is an independent risk factor in heart disease and mortality. In fact, recently I just read an article on how single moms have a higher risk of heart issues. According to Health Day:

Compared to married mothers with jobs, single working mothers in the United States have a higher risk of heart disease and stroke, researchers found. They're also more likely to smoke -- a known heart risk -- than women with other work and family patterns, said Frank van Lenthe, co-author of the new study.

Losing the support of a partner, along with the second income, "may cause stress and result in unhealthy behaviors," said van Lenthe. He is an associate professor of social epidemiology at Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

In a related study, it was found that married people who suffered a heart attack were more apt to recover than single people. The study was comprised of 25,000 adults in England and the researchers reported that those with a spouse had a 14% less chance of dying than their single comparisons. Don't worry, this doesn't necessarily mean that you single people should run out and get married, just for the sake of heart health.

One review of the impact of social relationships and disease outcomes found that just as positive social support can decrease risk for many illnesses, negative relationships can cause health detriments. Therefore, it's the quality, not necessarily quantity, that is thought to create the positive benefits in wellness and disease risk.

Interestingly, these social patterns are thought to start in childhood, once again suggesting the importance of parental influence early in life. However, social ties vary with lifespan, with intimate partners being most important in later adulthood. Knowing this, single, older adults, may want to make sure their emotional intimacy is met in their loved ones and friendships.

Mental health and social support has also been shown to provide benefit in relieving depression. Depression is connected to various physical ailments and cardiovascular risk. In a recent study, it was found that those who had emotionally healthy relationships had a greater chance of complete recovery from depression than those without productive relationship ties.  

Though nurture is important, genetics also play a role in our ability to form connections. For example, those with low activity in the gene related to oxytocin were found to have a harder time decoding emotional facial cues and tended to be more anxious about relationships in one study. A 2009 study also linked genetic variations in oxytocin with social empathy and stress reactivity. This is interesting considering that this hormone is also linked to mental health and autism risk.

So, what is the takeaway? Click here to read my previous article on how to boost the "love hormone." Furthermore, you can take steps to reach out and heal emotional traumas to support building stronger relationships. On my homepage blog, I also discuss the impact of essential oils for emotional health and other factors important in nurturing our nature.


Loneliness, social isolation, and behavioral and biological health indicators in older adults. Health Psychol. 2011 Jul;30(4):377-85. doi: 10.1037/a0022826.

Single Working Moms Carry a Heart Burden. Health Day. June 16, 2016.

Marriage a Boost for Heart Attack Survivors. Health Day. June 8, 2016.

Umberson D, Montez JK. Social Relationships and Health: A Flashpoint for Health Policy. Journal of health and social behavior. 2010;51(Suppl):S54-S66. doi:10.1177/0022146510383501.

Two in five formerly depressed adults are happy, flourishing. Science Daily. June 7, 2016.

Depression Overview. PubMed Health. January 17, 2013.

Depression and cardiovascular disease: a clinical review. European Heart Journal. November 25, 2013.

'Love Hormone' Gene May Be Key to Social Life. Health Day. June 21, 2016th

Rodrigues SM, Saslow LR, Garcia N, John OP, Keltner D. Oxytocin receptor genetic variation relates to empathy and stress reactivity in humans. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2009;106(50):21437-21441. doi:10.1073/pnas.0909579106.

This week, on my homepage, I provided a summary of the top news for the month of June in health, nutrition, and medicine. In my introduction, I discussed the theme of lifestyle medicine as a preventative and effective strategy in reducing risk of various diseases. There is a large amount of research in this area and in this blog I review some of the studies on how exercise impacts the brain and body.

But first, I wanted to discuss one of my favorite studies this month. It was based on how a personalized intervention program actually reversed Alzheimer's disease in 10 subjects!


Reversal of Cognitive Decline in Alzheimer's Disease with Personalized Approach

A paper published in Aging reported on ten case studies, including subjects with genetic risks, who showed reversal of Alzheimer's disease using a comprehensive, personalized approach known as the MEND protocol. In this method, doctors assess an individual's medical history, genetics, lifestyle, lab work, and current medications and use these results to find the best FDA-approved medications, supplements, and lifestyle changes for that specific patient's needs. Results prior to the intervention and after were based on quantitative MRI and neuropsychological testing.

The authors summarize the amazing findings in their discussion as follows:

These observations provide further support for the previously reported finding that the personalized protocol for metabolic enhancement (note that the metabolic evaluation included parameters shown to affect Alzheimer's disease pathophysiology, such as homocysteine [15], glucose [16], and inflammation [17], as well as numerous others as previously described [3]) in Alzheimer's disease leads to the reversal of cognitive decline in at least some patients with early Alzheimer's disease or its precursors, MCI (mild cognitive impairment) and SCI (subjective cognitive impairment). To our knowledge, the magnitude of the improvements documented in patients 1 and 2 is unequaled in previous reports: in patient 1, the increase in hippocampal volume from 17th percentile to 75th percentile supports the marked symptomatic improvement that he (and others) achieved on the protocol. In patient 2, quantitative neuropsychological testing demonstrated improvements of up to three standard deviations (CVLT-IIB, from 3rd percentile to 84th percentile), with multiple tests all showing marked improvements. These findings complement and support the marked subjective improvement already published for this patient [3].

Exercise and Movement for Memory Boost

A new study with 72 participants randomized them into three groups: exercise prior, four hours later, or no exercise, in relation to the completion of a memory task. 48 hours later, the participants returned to assess their memory and have a brain scan of representation of the task in the memory region. According to Medical Xpress, "The researchers found that those who exercised four hours after their learning session retained the information better two days later than those who exercised either immediately or not at all. The brain images also showed that exercise after a time delay was associated with more precise representations in the hippocampus, an area important to learning and memory, when an individual answered a question correctly."

It's not just interval training that may boost brain function. In a pilot study with older adults, it was found that yoga caused changes in neural connections in the brain and memory improvement. The study was a small group comparison consisting of 25 subjects with cognitive impairment. The researchers assessed yoga versus memory enhancement training for 12 weeks. According to the study, "The yoga group demonstrated a statistically significant improvement in depression and visuospatial memory. We observed improved verbal memory performance correlated with increased connectivity between the DMN and frontal medial cortex, pregenual anterior cingulate cortex, right middle frontal cortex, posterior cingulate cortex, and left lateral occipital cortex. Improved verbal memory performance positively correlated with increased connectivity between the language processing network and the left inferior frontal gyrus. Improved visuospatial memory performance correlated inversely with connectivity between the superior parietal network and the medial parietal cortex."

Exercise May Help Adults Cope with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)

In a recent study with 32 young men with ADHD researchers at the University of Georgia found that exercise helped the subjects with focus and motivation. According to Science Daily, the participants "cycled at a moderate intensity for 20 minutes on one day, and on another day sat and rested for 20 minutes as a control condition. The participants were asked to perform a task requiring focus both before and after the different conditions, and researchers noted leg movement, mood, attention and self-reported motivation to perform the task. As a result, researchers found that it was only after the exercise when the participants felt motivated to do the task; they also felt less confused and fatigued and instead felt more energetic. Interestingly, leg movements and performance on the task did not change after the exercise--rather, the exercise helped the young men feel better about doing the task."

Lifestyle Intervention Works for Diabetics at Risk

Results from a recent lifestyle intervention program developed at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health demonstrated the positive impact on diabetes and heart disease risk using the Group Lifestyle Balance program. The study consisted of 223 participants who had prediabetes and/or metabolic syndrome. The program was modified from the lifestyle intervention program used in the highly successful U.S. Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP). The DPP previously demonstrated that weight loss and physical activity outperformed drugs in preventing diabetes or metabolic syndrome. According to a recent report on the study in Science Daily, "Group Lifestyle Balance is a 22-session program administered over a one-year period aimed at helping people make lifestyle changes to lower their risk for diabetes and heart disease. The goals of the program are to help participants reduce their weight by 7 percent and increase their moderate intensity physical activity (such as brisk walking) to a minimum of 150 minutes per week.


Read more on the power of lifestyle medicine on my current blog here.



Aging Article:

Mend Protocol:

Medical Xpress:

J Alzheimers Dis.:

Science Daily:

Science Daily:

We've discussed previously the importance of the microbiome. You can click here if you need a quick intro or refresher on the role of the bugs that line our insides and outsides. I also just wrote a blog on why the topic of the microbiome continues to be at the forefront of scientific research. You want to make sure you check that out to discover why it is important to consider that killing them off may not be the best idea and how to prevent growing the bad guys to begin with a healthy gut.

 "Anti" = against. "Biotic" = Life. Antibiotic. What happens when we kill our belly bugs in an attempt to rid of disease? (I wrote about this here. This is why I like the use of essential oils to modulate the immune response and keep happy bugs in place.)


Do Antibiotics Blunt Breastfeeding Benefits?

Health Day recently reported on a study linking antibiotics to reduced breastfeeding benefits:

Researchers found that babies who were prescribed antibiotics while they were breast-feeding or shortly afterward were prone to infections and obesity.

"In breast milk, unlike in formula milk, the infant receives bacteria from the mother and specific sugar components that promote the growth of certain [gut] bacteria," explained lead researcher Katri Korpela, from the immunobiology research program at the University of Helsinki in Finland.

The finding indicates that the health benefits of breast-feeding are largely due to how it helps a baby develop intestinal bacteria (microbiota), and that antibiotics disturb that development, she said.


Drugs and Bug Effects in Children- Antibiotics Effect Baby's Microbiome

A June 15, 2016 article in Science Transitional Medicine reported the following on the significance of a new study:

Despite widespread use of antibiotics in children, the effects of antibiotic exposure on the developing infant gut microbiome have remained underexplored. Here, Yassour et al. present a longitudinal study capturing how the gut microbiome responds to and recovers from antibiotic perturbations. Antibiotic-treated children had less stable and less diverse bacterial communities. Antibiotic resistance genes within the guts of these children peaked after antibiotic treatment but generally returned rapidly to baseline. Delivery mode (vaginal versus cesarean) also had strong long-term effects on microbial diversity. These data give insights into the consequences of early life factors such as birth mode and antibiotic treatment on the infant gut microbiome.


Antibiotics, Birth mode, and Diet Shape Microbiome Maturation During Early Life

A second study, released on the same day in Science Transitional Medicine was summarized as follows:

The intestinal "microbiota," that is, the community of microbes inhabiting the human intestinal tract, undergoes many changes during the first 2 years of life. Bokulich et al. now show that this pattern of development is altered in children who are delivered by cesarean section, fed formula, or treated with antibiotics, compared to those babies who were born vaginally, breast-fed, or unexposed to antibiotics. Future studies will determine whether these disturbances influence the health of these babies.


Can Antibiotics Make More Bad Bugs Grow?

A new study released on June 15, 2016 in Nature was reported by Science Daily. The article states:

Gastroenteritis is a common side effect of taking antibiotics. While diarrhea may be mild and clear up after antibiotic therapy is completed, in some cases, it can lead to colitis, an inflammation of the colon, or more serious conditions that cause abdominal pain, fever and bloody diarrhea.

Bäumler's research found that oral antibiotic treatment increased the synthesis of a host enzyme that generates nitric oxide radicals, which can oxidize sugars into sugar acids, such as galactarate, a key driver of Salmonella growth.




Walnuts for Belly Bugs and Colon Health

According to a study by the University of Connecticut, found in Cancer Prevention Research, as reported by Science Daily:

To figure out why walnuts were beneficial, the UConn Health team collaborated with Dr. George Weinstock and colleagues at The Jackson Laboratory. Weinstock's lab took fecal samples from the mice and analyzed the communities of bacteria living in their digestive tracts. They found that walnut consumption tended to push the gut microbiome toward an ecology that was potentially protective against cancer. It's not clear exactly how this works, but there are clues. For example, previous research has shown that some gut bacteria digest fiber into compounds with anti-inflammatory properties that may reduce tumor initiation. The microbiome analyses also reflected interesting differences between male and female. Males on walnut-free diets tended to have less-diverse gut flora than females. Adding walnuts to the diets of male mice brought their microbiomes closer to those of female mice on either of the diets. Whether this change contributes to the protection seen in male mice remains to be determined.


The Competition and Cooperation of Diet in Our Bodies with Our Bugs

A wonderful article in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences describes how some foods make our gut bugs and our cells work together for health, and others cause a competition to ensue:

Diet has been known to play an important role in human health since at least the time period of the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates. In the last decade, research has revealed that microorganisms inhabiting the digestive tract, known as the gut microbiota, are critical factors in human health. This paper draws on concepts of cooperation and conflict from ecology and evolutionary biology to make predictions about host-microbiota interactions involving nutrients. To optimally extract energy from some resources (e.g., fiber), hosts require cooperation from microbes. Other nutrients can be utilized by both hosts and microbes (e.g., simple sugars, iron) in their ingested form, which may lead to greater conflict over these resources. This framework predicts that some negative health effects of foods are driven by the direct effects of these foods on human physiology and by indirect effects resulting from microbiome-host competition and conflict (e.g., increased invasiveness and inflammation). Similarly, beneficial effects of some foods on host health may be enhanced by resource sharing and other cooperative behaviors between host and microbes that may downregulate inflammation and virulence. Given that some foods cultivate cooperation between hosts and microbes while others agitate conflict, host-microbe interactions may be novel targets for interventions aimed at improving nutrition and human health

One example is the harmful fats and sugars found in the Western diet, which is consumed by both the host (our cells) and pathogenic bacteria. The authors state, "... these results suggest that diets high in fats and refined sugar can (1) fuel harmful ecological change in the gut, and (2) escalate the intensity of host countermeasures in the form of inflammation and possibly altered glucose metabolism."



Probiotics may be helpful for many, but remember, we all have our own unique microbiome related to our diet, environment, and lifestyle factors. Furthermore, it is now understood that it's more about the immune modulation of using specific bacteria, which actually create more diversity in our guts and better metabolites, rather than haphazardly throwing down billions or trillions of high dose probiotics that may or may not be a match to our own unique microbiome footprint.

This is why I usually suggest a reasonable amount of probiotic counts with multi-strains that have been clinically tested for immune modulation. If I can, I try to find a probiotic with specific bugs that have been shown in some studies to modulate specific issues in my clients. Unfortunately, the research still isn't perfect in clinical trials, but we are getting there.

So, the best way to keep a healthy gut is diet and lifestyle. Then, it's finding a probiotic that is right for you. If your gut isn't happy still, and you are taking a probiotic, that's probably "not it." The good news is; they are pretty darn safe...but if they aren't working, it may be a waste of bugs and dollars.



This past week, I sent an E-blast out to my essential oils subscribers discussing some cool studies on rosemary oil. Below is the E-blast revised preview provided online as an exclusive to my readers. I then expand more on the topic of this beautiful aromatic oil on my current homepage blog here.


The Serendipitous Event Leading to Rosemary Exploration

I am an avid follower of some of the pioneers in natural medicine, such as Dr. Mercola, and more recently, Dr. Eric Z. Recently, both of these health warriors happened to visit my inbox via their articles on rosemary oil in quick succession. (See the links below.) Whenever something like this happens, I pay attention to it. I feel it could be a prodding to explore deeper on a subject and share what I learn with my readers. As it so happened, I found that this popular oil was, in fact, missing from my essential oil database! (I do; however, at least reference it for brain health here).

So, as with any blog or article on essential oils, I went through all the references listed at the end. I do this in order to dig deeper into my understanding and improve my clinical expertise with these precious secondary metabolites. I found some great studies and did some more research myself.

One thing that can get confusing with essential oils blogs is when references to studies are on the extracts of the herb verses the essential oil, which may have different active constituents. I have been caught in this mistake a few times myself. Therefore, these blogs will continue to focus on the oil itself.


A Little Sneak Peek

Another prod for me to dig into rosemary oil happened just a few hours prior to my writing this. It was an article in Science Daily. It reported on a study that showed reversal of Alzheimer's disease in 10 subjects! The treatment was personalized medicine that consisted of a "complex, 36-point therapeutic personalized program that involves comprehensive changes in diet, brain stimulation, exercise, optimization of sleep, specific pharmaceuticals and vitamins, and multiple additional steps that affect brain chemistry."

The connection was strengthened. We know that essential oils have a profound effect on the brain, which you can read more about here and here. I then remembered a 2009 study in Psychogeriatrics which demonstrated how aromatherapy can help those who need brain support, and it used rosemary as one of the oils in the trial.

The abstract from the full study reads:

OBJECTIVE:  Recently, the importance of non-pharmacological therapies for dementia has come to the fore. In the present study, we examined the curative effects of aromatherapy in dementia in 28 elderly people, 17 of whom had Alzheimer's disease (AD).

METHODS:  After a control period of 28 days, aromatherapy was performed over the following 28 days, with a wash out period of another 28 days. Aromatherapy consisted of the use of rosemary and lemon essential oils in the morning, and lavender and orange in the evening. To determine the effects of aromatherapy, patients were evaluated using the Japanese version of the Gottfries, Brane, Steen scale (GBSS-J), Functional Assessment Staging of Alzheimer's disease (FAST), a revised version of Hasegawa's Dementia Scale (HDS-R), and the Touch Panel-type Dementia Assessment Scale (TDAS) four times: before the control period, after the control period, after aromatherapy, and after the washout period.

RESULTS:  All patients showed significant improvement in personal orientation related to cognitive function on both the GBSS-J and TDAS after therapy. In particular, patients with AD showed significant improvement in total TDAS scores. Result of routine laboratory tests showed no significant changes, suggesting that there were no side-effects associated with the use of aromatherapy. Results from Zarit's score showed no significant changes, suggesting that caregivers had no effect on the improved patient scores seen in the other tests.

CONCLUSIONS:  In conclusion, we found aromatherapy an efficacious non-pharmacological therapy for dementia. Aromatherapy may have some potential for improving cognitive function, especially in AD patients.


A Final Thought from Dr. Sarah

I have seen profound effects with integrating aromatherapy and essential oils in my practice. This holds true in all areas of wellness and in those who complain of memory issues and mood imbalances. I find diffusing, inhalation, and topical applications particularly effective for brain support, as the sense of smell is powerful for emotions and cognition.

Here's a link to a previous blog with some applications on using essential oils for emotions and brain health. (Note, make sure you read the labels to determine which oils are safe for ingestion).



Pre and post testing show reversal of memory loss from Alzheimer's disease in 10 patients. Science Daily. June 16, 2016.

Dr. Eric Z. 4 Rosemary Essential Oil Benefits and Uses.

Dr. Mercola. Refreshing Rosemary.

Jimbo D, Kimura Y, Tangiguchi M, Inoue M, Urakami K.  Effect of aromatherapy on patients with Alzheimer's disease. Psychogeriatrics. 2009; 9: 173-179. doi: 10.1111/j.1479-8301.2009.00299.x



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Reisa Mehlman

As a New York State Licensed Aesthetician, New York State Licensed Nail Specialist, and the Director of Living Well Healing Arts Center & Spa, Reisa combines her love of spa services and healing arts to achieve optimum skin and nail health, create greater overall wellness and bring forth our optimal, individual beauty.

"I believe that the day spa should be an instant getaway; a place that is quiet without being stuffy, relaxed, elegant and yet entirely comfy. You should feel warm and welcome, surrounded by people who care about you and what they are doing. This is the environment we strive to create at Living Well Healing Arts Center & Spa. Here, you are never just the "next" number; we allow ample time for your services, offer a flexible schedule and can be reached after hours. After all, to me, spa craft is not really a business, it's a lifestyle." Read more...

About Dr. Sarah Lobisco

Dr. LoBisco has been in holistic healthcare for over 10 years. She became interested in holistic medicine when she was able to heal two herniated discs through nutrition, yoga, supplementation, and chiropractic. She has mentored with holistic practices throughout New York, Vermont, and Connecticut. In addition to her Naturopathic and Functional Medical training, Dr. LoBisco has extensive training in a variety of healing modalities, including therapeutic essential oils, nutraceuticals, herbs, whole food supplements, nutritional medicine, and mind-body therapies. She is a graduate of the accredited, four year post-graduate program in Naturopathic Medicine at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut. This program includes clinical rotations and a demanding scientific curriculum in integrating conventional and natural medicine. Dr. LoBisco holds her license from the state of Vermont.

Dr. LoBisco has completed her postdoctoral training as a certified functional medicine practitioner. She is also certified in Applied Kinesiology and holds a BA in psychology from SUNY Geneseo. She has contributed as an item writer for the North American Board of Naturopathic Examiners (NABNE)and has several articles that have been published in the Naturopathic Doctor News and Review Digest (NDNR) and the Townsend Letter, both physician- based journals. Dr. LoBisco is also a hired speaker on integrative medical topics for medical professionals.

Dr. LoBisco currently incorporates her training in holistic medical practices and conventional medicine through writing, researching, private practice, and through her independent contracting work for companies regarding supplements, nutraceuticals, essential oils, and medical foods. She has a small, private wellness consultation practice through telephone and Skype. Dr. LoBisco also enjoys continuing to educate and empower her readers through her blogs and social media. Her new book, BreakFree Medicine, is now available on Amazon and through Barnes & Noble. Please inquire here for more specific information.

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