Friday, December 24, 2010


by Nelson,

In the last newsletter we discussed some nutrients to focus on to have a balanced diet. This week we will continue to discuss some more nutrients and common pitfalls.

Vitamin D
Vitamin D does not show up in any significant amounts in plants. One of the best plant sources would be watercress, but you would have to eat a truckload to get one day’s worth. It is still possible for the body to manufacture it from the sun. This would be the only vegan way to obtain this nutrient. Otherwise it needs to come from an animal source, such as eggs, liver, fish, etc. Unless you enjoy sunbathing in winter as much as the people from Sweden do, it may be in your best interest to get this nutrient from either supplementing or eating animal products in the winter.

It is difficult to overdose on vitamin D. It used to be given in mega-doses in hospitals to help with arthritis (150,000-200,000 I.U). It is at these levels that side effects are documented. We disagree that 400 I.U a day is adequate for ideal function. Getting 2,000 I.U a day or more will help with proper immune system function, mood, bowel health, bone health, etc.

Calcium and Iron
These nutrients are very abundant in most whole foods, but it can still be a problem for vegans. It is found in almost every dark green vegetable, nuts, seeds and many fruits. So why would it be a problem? Well, just because you eat vegan doesn't mean you eat healthy. It amuses us when someone who eats the standard American diet lets us know that they cut out all the dairy and meat and got horribly sick from it. But then they tell you they were eating mostly potato chips, soda and all kinds of refined food.

If you eat a diet that will put you in a personal famine, you will do better with dairy and meat, because those foods are ideal when a famine is going on. Vegans who aren't full of calcium and iron usually either aren't eating fresh, whole foods, or aren't absorbing well (we will discuss this pitfall soon).

Most of the illnesses you see vegans and vegetarians with occur during the transitional phase of the diet. Fruits are a common staple at this point, because they taste sweet and are energizing. Grains or lentils also are quite filling, so a lot of these are usually eaten. But if they are not balanced out with greens, then you start to run into problems.

One common problem if the Mucus-less diet is not balanced would be anemia. As long as B-12 is obtained somehow (see the last newsletter), and B-6 and iron are obtained through good, wholesome foods this should not be a problem. If there is still anemia after the nutrition is provided, you might look for a potential absorption problem, or bacterial yeast or parasite stealing the nutrition.

Hypoglycemia/Anxiety/Panic Attacks
This is one of the most common pitfalls if the Mucus-less diet is not balanced. The people who have this problem of low blood sugar are usually very active, and faithful- eating no meat or dairy, and often even eat whole foods. These people really try to keep all the rules, yet they are always dragging. Some are incredibly nervous and anxious. In bad cases they get panic attacks. In really serious cases, insanity can be an actual issue.

It was not more than a month ago when I visited a close friend. She eats a very clean, mostly raw diet. After I asked her how she was feeling, she told me she was fine except for the anxiety and panic attacks. She then talked a bit about herbs and asked me my advice. After a bit of digging, it became clear she was busy and living off of large amounts of fruit, and not getting enough greens to compensate for it.

Under these conditions, a panic attack can be induced by eating the protein or sugar rich foods. The good news is that you can get the panic attacks to stop pretty quickly (sometimes immediately) by working on the pancreas. Either cedar berries or Dr. Christopher's Pancreas formula can get excellent results. This will be much more permanent than using any of the nerve herbs. But if the diet doesn't have big, green salads every day the tiredness may stick around. Fruits and fruit juices are much milder to the pancreas than the refined junk we often see, so people will initially feel good eating large amounts of them. After a while, it will start to be taxing. Nuts and seeds also are high protein, and will wear on the pancreas and adrenals if there aren't enough green vegetables in the diet. Sprouts are the best greens to quickly build up in this situation.

In order to keep fruits, lentils, nuts and seeds in moderation, the bulk of the diet must come from dark green vegetables. The greens are where the most important nutrition comes from, and prevent the other foods from becoming acid forming. Seeds, fruits and grains will be excellent calorie sources, are filling and will build strength if used properly. But when someone is eating only plants, green food takes priority.

Oxalic Acid
This is something I have mixed data on, so it will be up to the individual to see what feels best. Spinach, chard and cabbage all have high content of oxalic acid, which does some pretty wonderful things. In excess, it is thought by some to prevent the body from getting rid of calcium, causing it to build up as kidney stones or in the joints. I have noticed a common pattern with vegans who have kidney stones. So far, each of the last five cases or so have been eating copious amounts of spinach every day, on a very clean diet. A while back I was wondering why I woke up in screaming pain in the kidneys for a few months. This was helped with the Kidney formula and hydrangea, but it didn't go away until I stopped eating cabbage daily.

However, I do think it is fair to point out that some studies indicate that although oxalic acid can do this, that it is not possible to ingest it in amounts that would cause problems.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Weight Loss Supplements

by Nelson - Dr. Christopher's Herb Shop

Earlier this week in the Herb Shop we got a question about weight loss and what supplements to use for it. Weight loss is the number one topic in the wellness industry, so this shouldn't be very surprising. But our herbalists don't often use many supplements when someone wants to lose weight.

Whenever these products are endorsed, you always hear "I lost weight when I used this supplement with diet and exercise." The truth is a lot of these people could be saying "I lost weight with diet and exercise". One reason that we don't often use a lot of supplements with weight loss is that we are already using diet with most of our programs. Weight loss is often a side effect of the dietary programs we have people follow for things like arthritis.

We often work with the Mucus-less diet. We are also fond of Dr. Fuhrman's Eat to Live diet. The reason we like these for weight loss is that the weight is lost at a healthy pace, it nourishes the individual and it stays off. Some people will have short term success with some of the fad diets out there. I consider the HCG diet to be one of these. This diet involves taking a hormone while eating only 500 calories a day for two weeks. I know people who have lost a lot of weight on this program and were much more comfortable with how they looked. I met some friends of mine who had happily finished this program some months ago. I asked them how they felt. They told me that their weight was starting to go up again, so they were thinking of doing the program again.

These are my three chief complaints about diets like these: 1) If you only eat 500 calories a day, you will lose weight with or without the supplement. 2) The weight will come back when the individual returns to old eating habits, and the diet is not healthy for long term use. 3) The weight is lost at an unhealthy rate. The individual starves on the diet. Then months later the program needs to be repeated. When did anorexia become a doctor sponsored method for weight loss?

When weight is lost too rapidly in this manner, it strains the pancreas and upsets the blood sugar levels. If this is repeated enough, the adrenals will be so shot that you won't lose weight even if you starve yourself. This is one of the few times we think supplementing is necessary. If the thyroid or endocrine system is shot, you can exercise heavily, eat healthy and never lose weight. We have seen this. Under these circumstances, we have used the Thyroid Maintenance formula or Adrenal formula. Some lucky individuals with a low thyroid only need kelp (this only works when it is low). Usually after 2 months the individual can then lose weight if they stay on a good diet. We consider a healthy rate of weight loss to be 20 pounds the first month, and 10 pounds every month after.

Dr. Christopher did have a formula designed to assist the body with weight loss. Assist is the key word. You aren't likely to lose weight just by taking it. Dr. Christopher looked at weight loss as a massive cleanse. Sure, he put herbs in there to boost the metabolism (Brigham tea is where the drug ephedra was derived from), but it’s mostly herbs for the bowels, urinary tract, liver and bloodstream.

We are happy to hear from one person who has followed the mucus-less diet to gain greater health. This individual, Greg Wood, has successfully lost over 100 pounds and overcome many health related challenges with the mucus-less diet. You might be interested in seeing his blog here: (

But the mucus-less diet can be unbalanced, even keeping all the rules Dr. Christopher outlined. Next week we will discuss some common health complaints on an unbalanced plant-based diet, and the solutions for them.