Living Well Blog: Saratoga's Holistic Health Forum

While I was doing some digging for the second part of my series on quality of essential oils on my homepage, I discovered a list of amazing abstracts on essential oils from the 2016 International Symposium of Essential Oils*.  

This sent me to explore my find of the 183-page list of exciting research. I reviewed some of the abstracts on quality already on my blog, including the one which caught my attention on analyzing the different constituents found in various species of cinnamon essential oils. (pg 63) I also made note of some other topics I thought were interesting. I have listed them below:

Essential oils and physiology: This abstract explored the effect of odor stimulation on physiological measurements of the autonomic nervous system response (pg 46)

Sandalwood oil's calming effect on smokers and nonsmokers (pg 141)

Essential oils' vapor effect for inhibiting a respiratory pathogen (a, pg 49)

Respiratory health: The effect of thyme oil (thymus vulgaris) inhalation on rodents in protection of airway inflammation (pg 52) and cinnamon reducing airway "hyperresponsiveness" in rodents (pg 67) (I wrote more about the health aspects of diffusing essential oils on this blog here.)

A model study showing that Eucalyptus globulus has an insignificant effect on beneficial bacteria but influences the killing of a pathogen (pg 140). This is good news for gut health!

Synergism with compounds in essential oils and antibiotics (pg 138)

The use of grapefruit oil for decreasing appetite in rodents and lavender appearing to stimulate it. (pg 24) I have written previously on the effects of aroma on appetite. It is quite a complex interaction that involves the odor itself, hunger, taste, emotions, and the physiological effects of the essential oil. Here are my thoughts on this study:

This may be due to the nervous system responses to the scents. For example, grapefruit can be stimulating, whereas, lavender is calming. When the body is relaxed, in this case by smelling, lavender it may assist with the beginning stage of digestion. However, I could not access the entire paper to fully determine the mechanisms and see the correlations with humans. The study was meant to test how these two oils modulated blood flow to the skeletal muscle. The researchers found that lavender did enhance blood flow.

Now, I don't think this means that lavender will be an "appetite stimulant", but it may help rats that are in a cage and stressed relax and gobble more.

I hope you enjoying taking a dive into some of the up-to-date research on essential oils. As you can see, essential oils have many wellness uses. Remember to use them safely and responsibly. You can learn more about these plant secondary metabolites on my database of essential oils here.

*note, pages are by PDF reading, NOT pages of abstracts

*Please review the abstracts and articles for specific brands and methods on oils used in studies to determine quality control. Not all studies use the same brand of oils or methods to distill their own. This can result in differences in outcomes.



Essential oils used in aromatherapy: A systemic review. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine. August 2015.

2016 International Symposium of Essential Oils Book of abstracts.pdf

My interview on essential oils for the Healthy Gut Thinner You Summit was just released. You can find out how to access it and get some additional resources on essential oils quality here.

Since I covered essential oils for the main page blog, my favorite topic, I thought I'd cover some more updates on some of the articles I've been reading about healthy bellies and gut bugs.


Your Heredity Influence of Your Microbiome

The first study was really cool and reported on Science Daily on October 3rd. It discussed how our microbiome was influenced by our genetics! Here's the excerpt:

Our genes determine to some extent which bacteria live in our intestines. Studies on human twins and experimental work with animals have both confirmed that our microbiome is partly hereditary. But so far, there was only limited information about the host genes that affect the microbiome. Now a new study has associated genetic loci and specific genes in human DNA to bacterial species and their metabolic signatures. (

Still, remember nature versus nurture is always at play and we can modulate and optimize our belly bugs with lifestyle choices, most importantly a healthy diet. Here's a link to other factors.


Probiotics, Fiber, and Peppermint Helpful for Bowel Disorders

A recent analysis of various natural modalities to support bowel disorders found evidence for several therapeutic interventions that were natural. Here's the abstract that includes my two favorite things:

Functional bowel disorders (FBDs), mainly irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and functional constipation (FC, also called chronic idiopathic constipation), are highly diffused worldwide. Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), including ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, although less common, has a strong impact on patients' quality of life, as well as is highly expensive for our healthcare. A definite cure for those disorders is still yet to come. Over the years, several therapeutic approaches complementary or alternative to traditional pharmacological treatments, including probiotics, prebiotics, synbiotics, fiber and herbal medicinal products, have been investigated for the management of both groups of diseases. However, most available studies are biased by several drawbacks, including small samples and poor methodological quality. Probiotics, in particular Saccharomyces boulardii and Lactobacilli (among which Lactobacillus rhamnosus), synbiotics, psyllium, and some herbal medicinal products, primarily peppermint oil, seem to be effective in ameliorating IBS symptoms. Synbiotics and fiber seem to be beneficial in FC patients. The probiotic combination VSL#3 may be effective in inducing remission in patients with mild-to-moderate UC, in whom Escherichia coli Nissle 1917 seems to be as effective as mesalamine in maintaining remission. No definite conclusions can be drawn as to the efficacy of fiber and herbal medicinal products in IBD patients due to the low number of studies and the lack of RCTs that replicate the results obtained in the individual studies conducted so far. Thus, further, well-designed studies are needed to address the real role of these therapeutic options in the management of both FBDs and IBD. (;jsessionid=D72AEB8F83C317107EDBB8C79E32A32E.f03t04)



Intestinal Diversity and Allergy Risk Linked in Children

The theme of the summit was that having a healthy gut means a healthy body. Here's a study that demonstrates how a belly full of good bugs influences asthma and allergy risk in the young:

Children who develop asthma or allergies have an altered immune response to intestinal bacteria in the mucous membranes even when infants, according to a new study. The results also suggests that the mother's immune defense plays a role in the development of asthma and allergies in children. (


You can also learn how essential oils support your gut health more here. Happy and health guts to you all!

Did you know that your fillings could be affecting your health?  The University of Georgia's website recently reported, "Dental surface restorations composed of dental amalgam, a mixture of mercury, silver, tin and other metals, significantly contribute to prolonged mercury levels in the body, according to new research from the University of Georgia's department of environmental health science in the College of Public Health. This research, which analyzed data from nearly 15,000 individuals, is the first to demonstrate a relationship between dental fillings and mercury exposure in a nationally representative population."

According to Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety, "The potential adverse health effects of mercury from amalgam and bisphenol A (BPA) from composite resin have been significant concerns. It is unclear whether dental restorative materials significantly contribute to mercury or BPA levels. The purpose of this study is to use NHANES data including 14,703 subjects (2003-2004: n=7514; 2011-2012: n=7189) to examine the association between Dental Surface Restorations (DSR) and blood total mercury (THg), inorganic mercury (IHg), methyl mercury (MeHg) and urinary BPA through the stratification of covariates and multivariate analysis."

This is a "big win" finding for advocates of Mercury Free Dentistry. The study's results indicate  levels of elevation of both forms of mercury in the blood of subjects with mercury fillings. This provides further ammunition that mercury in the mouth is not inert, a controversial subject in the dental industry for years.

Adding fuel to the fire, a related study on the negative impacts of mercury in the body reported that it may trump exercise benefits. This trial, published in Environmental Health Prospectives, was a cross-sectional association design of a population of 262 subjects. They had all been tested for prenatal methylmercury exposure and were analyzed at age 22 years. The researchers were seeking to find mercury's effects on memory and processing in association with exercise. The authors stated, "Higher aerobic capacity was associated with better performance in short-term memory and processing speed. However, prenatal methylmercury exposure seemed to attenuate these positive associations."

This is concerning, because exercise has been shown in many studies to support brain health and provides a simple intervention for potentially preserving cognition. In fact in a new study, with 12 master athletes, researchers showed that after just 10 days of exercise cessation there were changes with less blood flow to the brain. Thankfully, the short-term effects didn't seem to effect cognition, as based on a verbal fluency test. Translation of this study's results could be limited to a specific population, but it is intriguing in providing evidence of how moving the body effects blood flow to the brain. Long-term this could have profound implications, especially if one combines inactivity with mercury exposure.

You can read one of my previous posts on the mouth-body health link here.  Then click here to continue reading about the concerns I have with mercury-filled mouths and some helpful solutions. Knowing about the problem isn't enough, it's best to protect your body and health with support so that you can live your best life!


I just recently returned from a magical 4-day training and retreat on essential oils. I witnessed first-hand the seed-to-seal process and what it takes to make quality, therapeutic oils. You can read more about that here.

Essential oils are often misunderstood and I recently blogged to my essential oil subscribers some of the major myths circulating the web regarding essential oils. Below is the full E-blast for your reading pleasure and some additional bonus updates on lavender.


Fact or Fiction?

We live in a time where it's especially hard to shift through and determine facts from myths. This is due to the explosion of websites and the ease of anyone now being able to set up a professional looking blog. However, "a blog does not an expert make."

It's important to look for references and use your own experience before taking someone else's opinion to be fact, especially if their points are highlighted with tempting tech glitzes. Unfortunately, some "experts" may really have nothing more than their opinion and sales pitches to support their own bottom line. Many do not have the education and expertise needed for truly helping or educating someone. In fact, even with research studies, statistics and headlines can be manipulated or misinterpreted to favor a writer's opinion, such as on the topic of supplements.

With essential oils, it's an absolute jungle out there!! Have you noticed?

Well, here's some good news for you today...

Take 20 minutes when you can and listen to (the very energetic and peppy) Lindsey Elmore, a pharmacist and expert in essential oils.  You'll be glad you did, because you'll get a summary of some of the most controversial issues in regards to using our favorite secondary metabolites.

She reviews the following myths and facts and I have provided you the references in my previous blogs:

  • The grapefruit oil controversy (I wrote about that here.)
  • The (un)link to lavender and breast swelling in boys (Again, here's my link.)
  • The cautions with wintergreen (She and I are on the same page.)


You can also check out my database for a whole series of articles on essential oils and safe use.

More Reasons to Love on Lavender

Now that you are confident that pure lavender essential oil will not make your son's breasts grow, I have even more reasons to love on this beautiful oil.

Recently, I was reading a blog on "7 Healing Uses for Lavender Essential Oil" on Green Med info. As I was cross-referencing some of the studies, a few "newbies to me" caught my attention.  I thought I had a complete geek-out from my previous blog here, but the wonders of lavender can never be fully explored in a lifetime. Here's what I learned...


Lavender and Calming- More Than One Explanation

If you read my blog on lavender, you probably vaguely remember how I explained that lavender has a relaxing effect on the brain. This makes it optimal for calming and decreasing stress. In a recent study, researchers determined that they didn't find specific cortisol (a hormone involved in the stress response) modulating effects with lavender. Rather, they felt that expectancy and pleasurable experience with the scent interacted with its pharmacologic properties to produce its relaxing properties. The researchers also concluded that although lavender may not be best for use with initial recall taks, it could help with post-stress performance of a memory task. Here is the abstract of the methods and conclusions:


Objective: Aromas may improve physiologic and cognitive function after stress, but associated mechanisms remain unknown. This study evaluated the effects of lavender aroma, which is commonly used for stress reduction, on physiologic and cognitive functions. The contribution of pharmacologic, hedonic, and expectancy-related mechanisms of the aromatherapy effects was evaluated.


Methods: Ninety-two healthy adults (mean age, 58.0 years; 79.3% women) were randomly assigned to three aroma groups (lavender, perceptible placebo [coconut], and nonperceptible placebo [water] and to two prime subgroups (primed, with a suggestion of inhaling a powerful stress-reducing aroma, or no prime). Participants' performance on a battery of cognitive tests, physiologic responses, and subjective stress were evaluated at baseline and after exposure to a stress battery during which aromatherapy was present. Participants also rated the intensity and pleasantness of their assigned aroma.


Results: Pharmacologic effects of lavender but not placebo aromas significantly benefited post-stress performance on the working memory task (F(2,86)=5.41; p=0.006). Increased expectancy due to positive prime, regardless of aroma type, facilitated post-stress performance on the processing speed task (F(1,87)=8.31; p=0.005). Aroma hedonics (pleasantness and intensity) played a role in the beneficial lavender effect on working memory and physiologic function.


Conclusions: The observable aroma effects were produced by a combination of mechanisms involving aroma-specific pharmacologic properties, aroma hedonic properties, and participant expectations. In the future, each of these mechanisms could be manipulated to produce optimal functioning. (Chamine Irina and Oken Barry S. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. September 2016, 22(9): 713-721. doi:10.1089/acm.2015.0349.)


Interestingly, in another recent study, which was single-blinded, an effect of lavender essence on modulation of cortisol and stressful feelings in candidates for open-heart surgery was shown. I did mention in my geek-out blog a combination of lavender and rosemary did as well.


So, what's the verdict?


It appears that all of these studies have some confounding biases and limitations; however, one thing IS clear. Regardless of how it does it, lavender tends to be relaxing for most people, which is probably why it has a reputation for its soothing action. Furthermore, the quality of the essential oil and the constituents present would affect the results obtained from sniffing a bottle of lavender oil, and not all oils are the same. Therefore, it's important to not only choose your right oil for you, but to choose the right company for quality.


Happy and safe oiling to you all! Let's all continue to share our true experiences with the oils and the research and facts and mitigate those scary myths!




In one of my latest E-Blasts to my essential oil followers, I highlighted why I was going crazy over an essential oils blend, Thieves® . I've been obsessing on this blend and researching it for some time now.

It's important to note that this company doesn't contain the only formulation of this ancient blend. You can read the full background in a recent article that was posted on Ben Greenfield's website here.

Below are some of the resources mentioned in the E-blast and a few of my own. I think, after reading this, you'll see why it's one of my favorite oils for diffusing and using on a daily basis.

Why I'm Going Thieves® Crazy:

1. Diffusing Power!

Of Microbes: Did you know that Thieves® was studied in vitro to inhibit unwanted microbes in the environment? Here is the link to the blog that summarizes this study and provides the reference. I also reported on a recent in vitro study that demonstrated how clove oil was among several oils to have protective effects on lung cells exposed to pollution.

Of Mold: A case study supported how the blend of Thieves® essential oil worked well in suppressing mold spores from a water damaged building. Here is an excerpt from my blog:

In fact, in 2005, Edward Close, PhD, a mold remediation consultant, performed a third-party sampling for mold in an apartment complex that had been evacuated related to a flooding. The new buyer had hired an expert to remediate it using a hospital disinfectant; however, Dr. Close's sampling from that treatment showed mold was still present. When Dr. Close diffused Young Living Thieves® Blend under the same controlled conditions, he had amazing results.

There were 10,667 stachybotrys mold (a form of toxic mold) spores identified in a per cubic meter area and after diffusing Thieves® essential oil for 48 hours, Dr. Close found only thirteen stachybotrys remaining. In a sample of sheetrock of 75,000 stachybotrys mold spores and after 72 hours of diffusing, no stachybotrys mold spores remained. Furthermore, the mold did not re-establish itself because the Thieves® continued to work for hours after diffusing (23).

This link further discusses the power of using essential oils for defending the body against unwanted mold spores and supporting the lungs, including the oils of cinnamon and clove found in Thieves®.

2. The Concept of Synergism!

On my essential oils database, I provide resources for learning more about the individual oils of rosemary, clove, cinnamon, eucalyptus, and lemon. Click on the individual oils and you'll see why the blend is so powerful.

3. Versatility!

This product page posts all the products that contain this wonderful oil blend found in one click! Learn all about its uses, including its benefits for safe cleaning and personal care.

4. DIY's Galore

Click here to read some helpful DIY's and tricks that you can use with this or your favorite similar essential oils blend!

Happy oiling!


 You can learn more and join my team of essential oils support here.

Disclaimer: This information is applicable ONLY for therapeutic quality essential oils. This information DOES NOT apply to essential oils that have not been tested for purity and standardized constituents. There is no quality control in the United States, and oils labeled as "100% pure" need only to contain 5% of the actual oil. The rest of the bottle can be filled with fillers and sometimes toxic ingredients that can irritate the skin.

This material is for information purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prescribe for any illness. You should check with your doctor regarding implementing any new strategies into your wellness regime. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.

Meditation is becoming more and more popular as research continues to validate its role in supporting various aspects related to heath. For example, many are familiar with its popularity for mitigating stress and I've written previously on how stress and emotion can impact our physical body. However, more recent evidence is proving even more intriguing with evidence of the effects of the power of meditation that many ancient gurus knew for centuries.

Just recently, in a 2015 article in Nature Reviews researchers reviewed the evidence of how meditation may cause neuroplastic changes in the brain in regions that are involved in the regulation of emotions, attention, and self-awareness. The abstract reads:

Research over the past two decades broadly supports the claim that mindfulness meditation - practiced widely for the reduction of stress and promotion of health - exerts beneficial effects on physical and mental health, and cognitive performance. Recent neuroimaging studies have begun to uncover the brain areas and networks that mediate these positive effects. However, the underlying neural mechanisms remain unclear, and it is apparent that more methodologically rigorous studies are required if we are to gain a full understanding of the neuronal and molecular bases of the changes in the brain that accompany mindfulness meditation.

Furthermore, a previous meta-analysis of 21 studies reported that eight brain regions were consistently altered in mediators, though bias may exist, the results were compelling:

To address these questions, we reviewed and meta-analyzed 123 brain morphology differences from 21 neuroimaging studies examining 300 meditation practitioners. Anatomical likelihood estimation (ALE) meta-analysis found eight brain regions consistently altered in meditators, including areas key to meta-awareness (frontopolar cortex/BA 10), exteroceptive and interoceptive body awareness (sensory cortices and insula), memory consolidation and reconsolidation (hippocampus), self and emotion regulation (anterior and mid cingulate; orbitofrontal cortex), and intra- and interhemispheric communication (superior longitudinal fasciculus; corpus callosum). Effect size meta-analysis (calculating 132 effect sizes from 16 studies) suggests a global 'medium' effect size (Cohen's d¯=0.46; r¯=.19). Publication bias and methodological limitations are strong concerns, however. Further research using rigorous methods is required to definitively link meditation practice to altered brain morphology.


The Newest Study on the Block

Recently, a randomized-controlled trial that took into account some of the previous research methodological issues, such as setting and environmental effects, found amazing results in regards to meditation. Specifically, the researchers were able to demonstrate that not only did meditation effect well-being measures, but also gene expression in markers related to stress, immune function, aging markers (telomerase), and amyloid beta (AB) metabolism (a protein linked to Alzheimer's disease). Differences were found among randomized vacationers and novice meditators and a comparison group of regular meditators. Interestingly, vacation in the retreat also had positive benefits alone, but meditation practiced by novices, showed additional benefits. The abstract states:

Meditation is becoming increasingly practiced, especially for stress-related medical conditions. Meditation may improve cellular health; however, studies have not separated out effects of meditation from vacation-like effects in a residential randomized controlled trial. We recruited healthy women non-meditators to live at a resort for 6 days and randomized to either meditation retreat or relaxing on-site, with both groups compared with 'regular meditators' already enrolled in the retreat. Blood drawn at baseline and post intervention was assessed for transcriptome-wide expression patterns and aging-related biomarkers. Highly significant gene expression changes were detected across all groups (the 'vacation effect') that could accurately predict (96% accuracy) between baseline and post-intervention states and were characterized by improved regulation of stress response, immune function and amyloid beta (Aβ) metabolism. Although a smaller set of genes was affected, regular meditators showed post-intervention differences in a gene network characterized by lower regulation of protein synthesis and viral genome activity. Changes in well-being were assessed post intervention relative to baseline, as well as 1 and 10 months later. All groups showed equivalently large immediate post-intervention improvements in well-being, but novice meditators showed greater maintenance of lower distress over time compared with those in the vacation arm. Regular meditators showed a trend toward increased telomerase activity compared with randomized women, who showed increased plasma Aβ42/Aβ40 ratios and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) levels. This highly controlled residential study showed large salutary changes in gene expression networks due to the vacation effect, common to all groups. For those already trained in the practice of meditation, a retreat appears to provide additional benefits to cellular health beyond the vacation effect.


Now that summer is over, you may need some support in taking another respite. The results provided scientific proof to your boss that vacation is good for your health, and regular meditators may further benefit from a retreat- a win-win!



The Alternative Daily. Survey Says: Yoga and Meditation are Growing in Popularity.

Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). National Health Statistics Reports from the National Health Interview Survey. No. 79. Trends in the Use of Complementary Health Approaches Among Adults: United States, 2002-2012 . 16 pp. (PHS) 2015-1250. February 10, 2015. Available at:

Tang YY, Hölzel BK, Posner MI. The neuroscience of mindfulness meditation. Nat Rev Neurosci. 2015 Apr;16(4):213-25. doi: 10.1038/nrn3916. Epub 2015 Mar 18.

McKay S. The Neuroscience of Mindfulness Meditation. Chopra Center Website. Available at:

Fox KC, et al. Is meditation associated with altered brain structure? A systematic review and meta-analysis of morphometric neuroimaging in meditation practitioners. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2014 Jun;43:48-73. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2014.03.016. Epub 2014 Apr 3.

Epel ES, et al. Meditation and vacation effects have an impact on disease-associated molecular phenotypes. Translational Psychiatry (2016) 6, e880; doi:10.1038/tp.2016.164





In case you weren't already convinced that researchers' have gone "bug" crazy due to the explosion of articles on the microbiome, there's even more exciting updates this month.  If you don't know what the microbiome is yet, I invite you to learn more about the little critters that reside in your insides (and outsides). They are linked to many health outcomes and actually communicate with our cells and modulate our biochemistry. Scientists have made connections between the population of bugs that we cart around and how they are correlated to and connected with many disease outcomes as well as how manipulating them with probiotics, diet, and lifestyle impacts our wellness. In fact, the National Institute of Health's Human Microbiome Project is currently undertaking massive research initiatives to learn more about the genetic population of microbes that makeup a healthy human.  

Now, here are some fascinating studies on the latest insights in the tiny world of creepy-crawlers:


More Evidence That the Gut Microbiome Affects Immune Response

In a recent study published in EBioMedicine, researchers reported on the correlation between bacterial activity and how it relates to HIV activity and the response to treatment.  One of the researchers in Science Daily stated:

"The make-up and behaviour of the gut bacteria of HIV patients whose body responds adequately to antiretrovirals are different to those who respond less well to treatment. It is possible that the reason why some subjects respond better to antiretrovirals is because their immune system is predisposed to these beneficial, recovery-enabling bacteria," adds researcher Sergio Serrano-Villar at Hospital Ramón y Cajal.

Here is the abstract:

While changes in gut microbial populations have been described in human immuno-deficiency virus (HIV)-infected patients undergoing antiretroviral therapy (ART), the mechanisms underlying the contributions of gut bacteria and their molecular agents (metabolites and proteins) to immune recovery remain unexplored. To study this, we examined the active fraction of the gut microbiome, through examining protein synthesis and accumulation of metabolites inside gut bacteria and in the bloodstream, in 8 healthy controls and 29 HIV-infected individuals (6 being longitudinally studied). We found that HIV infection is associated to dramatic changes in the active set of gut bacteria simultaneously altering the metabolic outcomes. Effects were accentuated among immunological ART responders, regardless diet, subject characteristics, clinical variables other than immune recovery, the duration and type of ART and sexual preferences. The effect was found at quantitative levels of several molecular agents and active bacteria which were herein identified and whose abundance correlated with HIV immune pathogenesis markers. Although, we cannot rule out the possibility that some changes are partially a random consequence of the disease status, our data suggest that most likely reduced inflammation and immune recovery is a joint solution orchestrated by both the active fraction of the gut microbiota and the host.

This study was fascinating, as it examined not only the population of microbes in the stool, but their metabolic alterations and the difference between responders to treatment and nonresponders as compared to controls.

In another study, researchers found a correlation between certain microbe populations in infants and their risk for allergies and asthma later in life. It appears that the guts of at-risk babies were missing the key immune lipids that modulate inflammation.

Interestingly, a related study with rodents demonstrated how intestinal bacteria interact with a receptor of the immune system that effects the intensity of allergic responses. The researchers also found that when this receptor was absent in rodents, certain bacteria were still able to override the allergic response and normalize the immune response.


More Evidence that Microbes Are Associated with Obesity

Whether it's a metabolic consequence of obesity, the manipulation of diet modulating bacteria population, or environmental exposures, more proof of the link between obesity and bugs was found in two studies recently. One study found an increased risk for childhood obesity in babies born via cesarean sections, in which the newborn does not receive an inoculation of microbes through the vaginal canal. Another enormous study undertaking on the antibiotic-obesity connection was reported on in Science Daily. Researchers have begun the process of gathering data by searching through records of 1.6 million kids and will be correlating and reporting on how prescriptions of antibiotics in the first two years of life are linked to weight gain at ages five and 10 years.

Finally, another study found that exposure to the "sterile" ICU environment caused people to lose their gut bugs, putting the at risk for various health imbalances. Health Day reported:

Intensive care patients have a significant loss of helpful gut bacteria within days of entering the hospital, a new study finds. These bacteria help keep people well. Losing them puts patients at risk for hospital-acquired infections that may lead to sepsis, organ failure and even death, according to the researchers.

For the study, the investigators analyzed gut bacteria from 115 intensive care unit (ICU) patients at four hospitals in the United States and Canada. Measurements were taken 48 hours after admission and after either 10 days in the ICU or leaving the hospital. Compared with healthy people, the ICU patients had lower levels of helpful bacteria and higher levels of potentially harmful bacteria, the findings showed.

"The results were what we feared them to be. We saw a massive depletion of normal, health-promoting species," study leader Dr. Paul Wischmeyer said in a news release from the American Society for Microbiology. Wischmeyer, an anesthesiologist at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, is moving to Duke University in the fall.



The microbes living in our body are providing the links we've been looking for in the mechanisms of how all different diseases are connected. Importantly, simple measures like eating healthy diets, exercise, decreasing stress, and taking the right probiotics are simple ways to mitigate the risk of various diseases due to fact that these measures take care of the critters your letting live rent-free in your insides!



Asociación RUVID. Gut bacteria affect immune recovery in HIV patients, study finds. ScienceDaily. 5 September 2016.

Serrano- Villar S, Rojo D, Martínez-Martínez M, Deusch S, JF Vázquez-Castellanos, Bargiel J, et al. Gut Bacteria Metabolism Impacts Immune Recovery in HIV-infected Individuals. EBioMedicine, 2016; 8: 203 DOI: 10.1016/j.ebiom.2016.04.033

Ohio State University Center for Clinical and Translational Science. Swelling obesity rates may be tied to childhood antibiotic use. ScienceDaily. 30 August 2016.

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Cesarean delivery may lead to increased risk of obesity among offspring. ScienceDaily. September 6, 2016.

Preidt R. Patients May Quickly Lose Beneficial Gut Bacteria in the ICU. Health Day. August 31, 2016.

University of California - San Francisco. Newborn gut microbiome predicts later allergy and asthma, study finds: Microbial byproducts link particular early-life gut microbes to immune dysfunction. ScienceDaily. September 12, 2016.

Technical University of Munich (TUM). Intestinal bacteria influence food allergies: Composition of gut microbiota and immune system are closely interwoven. ScienceDaily. September 12, 2016.

Enjoy the Healthy Benefits of Healing Aromatics


I just finished watching the Essential Oils Revolution 2 and it was wonderful! As a self-taught geek with some pharmacology background, it was exciting to hear all different viewpoints and learn from various experts.

Two presentations I found very intriguing were on the topics of DIY recipes and cooking with essential oils. Since DIY recipes are vast and a nice compilation can be found here, I wanted to share a little bit more on cooking. Dietary essential oils have been used as natural and safe flavorings and preservatives in the food industry for years.

Below are some easy tips to get you started with adding essential oils into your favorite dishes!


Cooking in 1, 2, 3...

1. First of all, the most important thing is to make sure you have essential oils that are safe for ingestion. The FDA provides some guidance by listing certain essential oils as GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) here.  Some essential oils companies label which essential oils can be ingested, making this step easy! Technically, essential oils which can be taken orally are considered to be dietary supplements. (If you are still unsure about how to safely ingest oils or heard some headline scares, check out this blog I did on standardization and quality.)

Dr. Z explains more on the safety of using essential oils in recipes in his " Cooking with Essential Oils Blog":

Essential oils - both real and synthetic - have been used as flavoring agents for years. It's just too easy to add a drop or two of an intensely flavored oil in place of time consuming ingredients with much more volume. (1) In addition to flavor, essential oils are regularly tested by researchers for their potential to improve food safety. Antimicrobial oils, the theory goes, may be able to minimize food borne illness if manufacturers added it to packaging.

So the idea that we can cook with essential oils or incorporate them into our kitchen process is nothing new. The important thing is to do so safely, appreciating the differences between a whole herb or spice and its essential oil. You'll also want to note that not every essential oil is a good choice for cooking. Sometimes the oil doesn't taste quite as yummy as the whole herb. Sometimes the oil has too much of a certain component, making it less than ideal or even unsafe in high quantities.


2. The second thing to remember is that a little goes a very long way. Some estimate that 1 drop per teaspoon is a conversion measure. I think anything more than 2 drops is probably too much. (Finding a source for this is hard to come by.) For optimal flavoring (and safety with "hotter oils" like oregano, basil, thyme, and marjoram), you would want to add them to a recipe with some form of fat in it.

3. Finally, it's best to add the essential oils last, when the dish is almost finished. This will prevent the concern of altering the constituents at high heat. Of course, cold recipes aren't a problem. Furthermore, there is some evidence that certain essential oils can increase bioavailability of healthy constituents with cooking, such as thymol in thyme. However, carvacrol is supported when adding both the oil and the ground leaves. 

If you want to start some experimenting with dishes, some recipes can be found here and here for barbecue fun. Bon App`etit!

Click here for my latest blog on the power of peppermint for a focused back to school brain.

Reference Links:

I've always been a little bit of a "doctor doom" when it comes to giving some stats on the toxic exposures we come across every day. Although my focus has been more to educate and empower with tools to protect ourselves, I know that sometimes it can still appear daunting.

Last year, I gave you  tips for protecting kids' brains and bodies from chemical harms (and germs) as they go to back to school. This month I saw more these topics on this subject of toxic effects hit my inbox including:

·         Banned PCB Chemicals Still Tied to Autism in U.S. Kids

·         Fracking Linked to Migraines

·         Climate Change May Prolong Smog Season in Southeast U.S.

However, just as in the past the gloom was followed by the good, it will again today.


What the Scary Facts Have to Do with Aromas

I've always recommended essential oils as one of my favorite tools to mitigate stress and balance our physiology, biochemistry, and emotions. This past week, I was in heaven with listening to the speakers in the Essential Oils Revolution 2 summit explain the science behind how essential oils can protect our bodies from sickness and modulate our health. (Speaking of too much of a good thing, I did in fact listen to every single presenter!)

We know now that inhalation and diffusion of essential oils has profound positive effects on the brain and body. In fact, a recent study in rodents demonstrated how aromatic essential oils (lavender, clary sage, sweet orange, and sandalwood) exhibited metabolic effects in their brain biochemistry and urinary metabolites. This study was further supporting evidence that their properties as secondary metabolites modulating physiology beyond aroma. For my scientific-speak followers, the authors concluded:

In conclusion, we identified the global metabolic responses to aromas intervention characterized by unique metabolic signatures in rat brain tissue and urine involving neurotransmitters, fatty acids, carbohydrates and amino acids. Inhalation of essential oil is able to attenuate anxiety-induced metabolic perturbation, concurrent with the behavioral findings that inhalation of essential oil significantly increased the open arms time and open arms entries.

I have hinted about the saving grace of diffusing essential oils in the past and specifically discussed how essential oils inhibit microbe growth in the air. I was recently working on an article for one of my favorite fitness and health gurus and found further support in how a specific oil blend I use is effective in stomping out unwanted critters floating around us. (

Previously, NASA demonstrated that plants have the power to protect us from indoor pollution by decreasing levels of organic chemicals. Now, a new study reports that essential oils may directly impact and alleviate lung and liver ailments caused by air pollution. The study was done in vitro using lung and liver cells exposed to airborne particulates. The authors sought to determine how essential oil components, free and encapsulated, from extracts from cloves, aniseed, fennel and ylang ylang would impact inflammatory mediators produced from the harmful exposures. They found that these compounds reduced the resultant inflammation responses of the cells. The abstract from the study reads:

Outdoor air pollution and fine particulate matter (PM) were recently classified as carcinogenic to humans by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. The exposure to airborne particulate matter also contributes to cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, which are major public health concerns. Up to now, no work has evaluated the ability of essential oils as an alternative medicine to relieve the adverse health effects caused by airborne particulate matter. Here, we investigated for the first time the effects of four essential oil components, trans-anethole, estragole, eugenol and isoeugenol, on the reduction in inflammation induced by particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter below 2.5 μm (PM2.5), in human bronchial epithelial (BEAS-2B) and human liver carcinoma (HepG2) cell lines. Anethole is a flavor component of anise and fennel, estragole is occurring in basil, eugenol occurs in clove bud oil and isoeugenol occurs in ylang-ylang. Essential oil components were tested either as free or hydroxypropyl-β-cyclodextrin-encapsulated forms. Control experiments showed that particulate matter (PM2.5) induced inflammation by secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-6 and IL-8. Our results show that the addition of either free or encapsulated essential oil components to particulate matter exposed cells decreased up to 96 % the cytokine IL-6 level, and by up to 87 % the cytokine IL-8 level. Overall our findings evidence for the first time that natural essential oil components counteract the inflammatory effects of particulate matter and that encapsulation in cyclodextrins preserved their properties.



It's no surprise that constituents in oils have healing and protective properties. Just one constituent alone in an oil has been found to have profound effects and the synergism of the whole oil seems to be just as, or more, powerful. But remember to use cold air diffusion to experience all the benefits you can receive from aromatic applications. This way you will not destroy the essential oil compounds and prevent them from oxidation in the air. For example, one (kinda-sketchy, biased study) determined that lavender that was exposed to air at 60 degrees Fahrenheit could produce negative reactions in sensitive people.

So treat your oils well by preserving their therapeutic constituents with cold-air diffusion. Remember if you use them safely and intelligently, they will then treat you well.


I just published a blog on calmness and the age of information overwhelm. Read it here.


Banned PCB Chemicals Still Tied to Autism in U.S. Kids. Health Day. August 23, 2016.

Unconventional natural gas wells associated with migraine, fatigue. Science Daily. August 25, 2016.

Climate Change May Prolong Smog Season in Southeast U.S. Health Day. August 23, 2016.

Essential Oils Revolution 2 Summit. August 22- 29, 2016. Online event.

Chao SC, Young G, Oberg CJ. Effect of a Diffused Essential Oil Blend on Bacterial Bioaerosols. Journal of Essential Oil Research. 1998;10:5.

Wu Y, Zhang Y, Xie G, et al. The Metabolic Responses to Aerial Diffusion of Essential Oils. Ye J, ed. PLoS ONE. 2012;7(9):e44830. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0044830.

Wolverton BC,  Douglas WL, Bounds K. A study of interior landscape plants for indoor air pollution abatement. July 1, 1989.

Kfoury M, Borgie M, Verdin A, Ledoux F, Courcot D, Auezova L, Fourmentin S. Essential oil components decrease pulmonary and hepatic cells inflammation induced by air pollution particulate matter. Environmental Chemistry Letters. 2016; DOI: 10.1007/s10311-016-0572-4

Hagvall L, et al. Autooxidation of lavender oil. Contact Dermatitis. 2008; 59: 143-150



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.



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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.

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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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