Wednesday, May 29, 2013

New blog address at

Hi folks!
We've moved our blog posts over to and we're trying to figure out how to feed that back over to this blogger blog... in the meantime, please go visit us there! Recent posts include tips for making healthy treats fresh from the garden, holistic nutrition for busy people, common medical terms important for holistic health practitioners to know, and more! 

Best wishes
Erika Yigzaw

Monday, January 7, 2013

How I realized I was naturally thin--you may be, too!

Looking back I guess I always lived in denial of my natural ability to be thin. I somehow managed to hide it from myself by adding extra calories to my daily requirements--masking my thin body with extra body fat. It came to some point that I had no idea I was actually a thin healthy person, naturally. So, I looked for a long time trying different "diets" and would lose weight, keep a bulk of it off and just sorta--go back to being a hidden thin girl, again.

Most of you know my story from my Squeaky Gourmet blog and Facebook page. You know I have been hitting this hard for the last 8 years. (Wow! I just realized while writing this out that it will be 8 years in February that I stopped hiding my natural thin self!) Yet, over the last two years now it has become so easy for me to be thin. Ridiculously easy for me. Some of the readers know me personally; they know I am a lazy person. So, if I am saying it has become easy--you can trust I put very little effort or thought into it. I just am "it".

Here is my epiphany--Over the last run of winter holidays I gained nothing. Nothing. A few times doing my panic weigh-ins I would be sure I had gained weight and ended up slightly below goal weight! I didn't know how I was doing it! I ate at the Halloween candy, I had what I wanted over Thanksgiving, my wedding anniversary, my birthday, Christmas, new year's--I ate and I drank and I was merry! How the heck was I not gaining weight,  hand over fist, as it had always seemed to be for me during the winter food festivals here in the USA.

I like my arms in this picture--WHAT!?
I taste everything and eat nothing. It is my motto, my goal for parties, my natural instinct. For an example--one beautiful fall day we decided to take a drive to Northern New Hampshire to visit the "World's Longest  Candy-Counter." It is the world record holder, you know.  Now, I love me some candy! Love it! When we arrived there the choices were fun! They had canisters filled with interesting pieces of candy I had not seen before. So, I took 2 of each piece I wanted to try. Not handfuls just blithely added to a bag that I would just be eating by the handfuls later. 2 of each and that was it--one to be enjoyed and one to share. Ha! Yeah--OK well, maybe to share but it depended on how the first one tasted. I said I love me some candy! Do you see the difference here, though? I put thought into my actions in regards to food. WHAT!? Sounds ridiculously simplistic, right? Yea--it is. It is so simplistic it is naturally how I eat--very little thought to it. Also, very little guilt to it (I know you hear me on this!) I am so balanced by this that when I do want a whole piece of something I am not riddled with guilt imagining the next pound of winter food fun to be added to my hips. I know that I will naturally balance my calories, adjusting for the food choices I make.  I am aware I need to track caloric intake to the point I just, naturally, count my calories. I have graduated from "read every label" academy now and know my calories. Just as easily as I know I did not mistakenly put a $500 bill in my pocket--I easily know if I added a 500 calorie meal to my day. It is second nature, a silent tally in my head that has become instinct for me. I do not over eat because, I do not need or want to over eat. It doesn't even happen accidentally!

I have arrived at Nirvana for the former fat girl --now-- naturally thin girl.

Wait till I tell you how I figured out I like to exercise!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

ABC's Mark Blumenthal Clarifies Ginkgo Study on Health Talk Radio Show

The American Botanical Council (ABC) released a statement yesterday announcing that Mark Blumenthal, ABC founder and executive director, has "been working to publicly address misconceptions about ginkgo, resulting from a recent high-profile study."

Blumenthal was recently interviewed by Dr. Ronald Hoffman for the show Health Talk. During the interview, Blumenthal talked about a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), which "reported that a leading ginkgo extract did not reduce cognitive decline in older adults. Blumenthal pointed out that this study had many significant limitations, and he highlighted some of the many positive studies indicating ginkgo's effectiveness."

Here is a link to the press release the American Botanical Council sent out addressing the "limitations" of the JAMA study:

Blumenthal's interview is available for download as a podcast here:

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Eye of Newt, 3 spider legs and a full moon

Or a cup of tea- Not many appreciate the fact herbs have been around back when Hypocrites was forming the medical community rules and guidelines. Often in todays fast paced, high stressed lifestyle we run to the over the counter quick fixes and ignore the time tested herbal alternatives. Heck, I am an herbalist and even i will offer cough medicine this time of year when one of my kids wakes me up in the middle of the night coughing. Though when I was a little girl my mother would offer me lemon and honey tea--perhaps with some catnip in it as well. I remember how soothing and pleasant the honey and lemon would taste with the warm water, the honey would be thick with granulated pieces that would crunch in my mouth and scratch my itchy throat as it went down to my belly. The cup of tea would soothe my spirit as well as my sore throat--and the healing properties in the local honey along with the vitamins in the lemon would set to work in my immune system. The catnip would soothe my need to cough and allow me to return to my sleep.

Now, I love our earth and I love science--this is why my professional and personal passions are total wellness. I know when we combined our thoughts of wellness to the right scientific measures we are 13 steps ahead of those over-the-counter quick "fixes". Very similar to the common sense of washing our hands to prevent the spread of the cold and flu viruses which seem to jump from person to person so quickly during the cold winter months. Benjamin Franklin is given credit for the quote "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" and I think we need to consider what he meant by this. Waking up at 2 a.m. to a coughing child--that needs a cure, right? We need the child to sleep well, we need the child to return to a healthy state, right? However, what if we offered that soothing cup of catnip tea before bed? Perhaps as a nightly routine when colds and flu are upon us--soothing warm tea and a bedtime story. We would save the time it takes in lost sleep preparing the tea and soothing the child back to bed. This is also what I love about herbal therapies, in some regards the safety of them offers such a convenient healthy way of prevention! We can't just offer to our children cold medicine each evening just in case the may succumb to the viruses that are inside of them laying in wait. That would be more potential for harm than it would be for good. To the contrary, catnip is non habit forming, the fresh leaves contain vitamins A,B and C--all immune supporting vitamins. The plant contains minerals like calcium and zinc both shown to improve your state of health as well as iron which is needed by everyone as well. How many vitamins and minerals does the average over the counter child's cold remedy contain? Yeah--exactly.
So, next time you walk by your catnip plant outside, grab some leaves to prepare some tea. No catnip plant? That is OK, you can order some! This is the ounce of prevention you need to have in your cupboards during the cold season so your family, including your little ones, are not down and out.

Order Catnip Online!

How to Prepare Catnip Tea
Boil 1 cup of water.
In a tea cup of your choice add 1 teaspoon dried mint, pour boiled water over the herb and allow to steep for 10 minutes. Strain out the herb and add the juice of 1/2 a lemon as well as 1 tsp raw organic honey. Stir and sip while still warm.

***Pregnant and nursing mothers should avoid catnip. Nursing fathers should probably also avoid it--just on the side of caution ;)***

-Maureen Jeanson CMH, cPT

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Passion fruit peel may alleviate symptoms of asthma

Asthma, or airway inflammation and mucus secretion, can cause wheezing, coughing, and dyspnea. According to the HerbClips article "Efficacy of Purple Passion Fruit Peel Extract in Alleviating Asthmatic Symptoms in Adults," about 17 million people in the U.S. have asthma, an increasing number, which has led to increased interest in the use of nutritional protocols to control asthma.

Purple passion fruit Passiflora edulis peel (PFP) has a history of use with health challenges. In South American folk medicine, extracts of the peel have been used with anxiety, insomnia, asthma, and bronchitis. The extract contains three antioxidants (cyanidin-3O-glucoside, quercetin-3O-glucoside, and edulilic acid) and was "shown to modulate nitric oxide in hypertensive rats."

In a 2008 study with 42 subjects, all participants showed wheeze symptoms at baseline, but only 19.1 % of subjects who took PFP and 78.9% of participants in the placebo group showed symptoms at the end of the study. In addition, "of the approximately 90% and 79% of subjects in the PFP and placebo groups, respectively, with shortness of breath at baseline, approximately 10% and 37%, respectively, had symptoms after treatment. Of the nearly 100% of subjects with cough at baseline, approximately 20% and 50% of subjects in the PFP and placebo groups, respectively, had symptoms after treatment."

These results show that passion fruit peel extract significantly improves asthmatic symptoms after four weeks of usage without adverse effects. The authors of the study concluded that: "PFP extract may be safely offered to asthmatic subjects as an alternative treatment option to reduce clinical symptoms."


Watson RR, Zibadi S, Rafatpanah H, et al. Oral administration of the purple passion fruit peel extract reduces wheeze and cough and improves shortness of breath in adults with asthma. Nutr Res. 2008;28: 166-171.

Based on article © Brenda Milot, ELS, "Efficacy of Purple Passion Fruit Peel Extract in Alleviating Asthmatic Symptoms in Adults," HerbClip

Image ©

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Soy fact vs soy fiction

The FDA has allowed the following claim to be made concerning soy products: “Diets low in saturated fat and cholesterol that include 25 grams of soy protein a day may reduce the risk of heart disease.”

To qualify food must: Contain 6.25 G of soy protein, have less than 3 g fat and 1 g saturated fat, and less than 20 mg of cholesterol and less than 480 mg of sodium. This claim is based on whole soy protein food, not isolated soy constituents. Asian diets contain typically 6-11 g of soy protein/day, which includes 25-50 mg of isoflavones.

Soy is a complete protein. Not really, but that might not be a bad thing.

The FDA claims that soy protein can be a good substitute for animal protein because it contains all the necessary essential amino acids. Soy is high in the non-essential amino acids, but is low in cysteine, methionine, and lysine. However, soy protein, as well as many other vegan proteins, are higher in non-essential amino acids than most animal-derived food proteins, and as a result should preferentially favor glucagon production. (This could help with insulin resistance.)

An unnecessarily high intake of essential amino acids—as in high-meat diets—may prove to be as grave a risk factor for “Western” degenerative diseases as is excessive fat intake.

Soy prevents cancer. Maybe.

Soy contains isoflavones that are phytoestrogens, which may have both benefits and risks. Phytoestrogens interact with many receptors, including estrogen hormone receptors, but the type of interaction and the type of receptor dictates the biologic response. For instance genistein, one of the main soy isoflavones, interacts differently with estrogen receptor alpha and estrogen receptor beta. Genistein was shown to inhibit the growth of MCF-7 breast cancer cells.

Epidemiological studies show that women with traditional diets high in soy have a lower incidence of breast cancer those women with Western diets. There are no studies that show eating high amounts of soy later in life can decrease a women’s risk of breast cancer however.

Soy is safe for breast cancer survivors. Probably NOT.

Currently neither the animal data nor human data is conclusive as to whether soy is safe for breast cancer survivors. Women who are estrogen positive breast cancer survivors are frequently told to restrict their intake of soy products because of the phytoestrogen content.

GMO soy is healthy. If you don’t mind herbicides on your food!

Genetically modified soy is “Roundup Ready”, MEANING Roundup can be sprayed on the crop for weed control. Roundup Ready (RR) varieties of soybean has increased the use of glyphosate for weed control and glyphosate residues were found in soybean leaves and stems, and metabolites of the herbicide were found in the grain. Applications of glyphosate have no effects on phytoestrogen levels in glyphosate-resistant soybeans.

Fermented soy is better for you. Not really.

There is a difference in the isoflavones in non-fermented vs. fermented soy food, but the effect of enzymes and flora activity in the digestive tract makes the difference unimportant.

Soy is a common food allergen. True!

Soy is one of the top food allergens, along with cow’s milk, citrus, nuts, wheat, seafood and egg. Allergenicity of GMO soy may be altered. Hydrolyzed soy protein may not be as antigenic and there may be cross-reactivity with birch pollen and soy.

Soy inhibits the thyroid. Not True!

In 14 human studies, most found little change in thyroid function tests of normal subjects ingesting isolated soy protein. There are a few case studies of soy impacting hypothyroid patients, by reducing thyroid medication absorption. Always also consider iodine deficiency. Iodine deficiency lead to goiter and soy may make an iodine deficiency worse. An interesting not is that Asian soy consumption is often coupled with seaweed, which is naturally high in iodine.

Soy inhibits protein digestion. Possibly.

Raw soy contains Bowman-Birk (BBI) inhibitor of chymotrypsin and trypsin and the Kunitz inhibitor of trypsin (KTI). Heating and processing of the soybean removes most but not all of these inhibitors. On the other hand, several studies suggest that BBI can also function as an anticarcinogen, possibly through interaction with a cellular serine protease.

Soy is safe for infant formulas. Caution is needed.

Infants consuming soy formulas had 10 times higher isoflavone levels in their blood than women receiving soy supplements who show menstrual disturbances. Small, physiologically relevant phytoestrogen exposure levels can alter estrogen-dependent gene expression in the brain and affect complex behavior in a wide range of species. The implications for these findings in humans, and particularly in infants, largely remain uninvestigated but are a subject of increasing public interest.

Soy infant formulas contain BBQ and KTI, protein enzyme inhibitors; infants on soy formula consume about 10 mg of KTI plus BBI per day. The impact of reduced protein digestion due to these enzyme inhibitors in infants is not known.

Soy is a good food. Most likely.

Whole soy foods are a good source of fiber, B vitamins, calcium and omega-3 essential fatty acids. Replacing some high fat animal protein with soy foods is beneficial. Soy can be part of a healthy diet, along with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, fish and lean meats Introduce soy slowly to the daily diet. Avoid if you have soy allergies.

Soy is a nutraceutical. Most likely.

Soy isoflavones may be helpful for modest cholesterol lowering effects. Soy isoflavones effect on breast cancer is unclear. Soy isoflavones may be helpful for menopausal symptoms. Soy isoflavones may be supportive for postmenopausal bone health.

>> By Dr. Arianna Staruch, ND, ACHS Dean of Admissions

Friday, July 10, 2009

ABC’s Blumenthal Quoted in AP Article on Supplements for Pets

The Associated Press released an article yesterday regarding supplements for pets, which included quotes from ABC Founder and Executive Director Mark Blumenthal.1 The AP article, written by Marilynn Marchione, focuses primarily on concerns over the quality and effectiveness of supplements for pets—particularly those that are intended to offer nutritional and/or other support for arthritis and other joint conditions. The article has already been distributed through several major media outlets.

The article quotes Blumenthal as stating that quality problems have been associated with supplements, although many companies do a good job. Blumenthal is also quoted as stating that dogs and cats are unable to give their subjective assessments of a supplement’s efficacy, and that owners want to believe that the supplements they pay for are having beneficial effects on their pets.

These statements were pulled from an approximately 45-minute phone interview that Marchione conducted with Blumenthal on June 24, and many topics of that conversation and qualifications that Blumenthal provided were not included. For instance, Blumenthal discussed several companies that are conducting legitimate research on the benefits of supplements on companion animals (dogs, cats, horses), but these were not mentioned in the article.

The American Botanical Council published its own article on supplements for pets in HerbalGram issue 82, titled “The Expanding Market and Regulatory Challenges of Supplements for Pets in the United States,” written by HerbalGram Managing Editor Courtney Cavaliere.2 Marchione stated that she had read that article during her interview with Blumenthal, and she included a link to the HerbalGram article below her own AP story (found under the “On the Net” subhead).

In the HerbalGram article, Cavaliere pointed out that the nonprofit National Animal Supplement Council (NASC)—of which 90% of pet supplement manufacturers in the United States are members—has initiated many self-regulatory measures for the pet supplement industry. NASC created quality control guidelines and instituted risk monitoring procedures for the industry. Companies that manufacture supplements for pets that meet the NASC’s quality and safety protocols, and that have completed a facility audit, are able to use the NASC’s Quality Seal on their products. Although Marchione mentions the NASC and quotes its president Bill Bookout in her AP article, she fails to mention the NASC’s self-regulatory protocols or its Seal Program.

As noted previously, Marchione also fails to point out that some companies that manufacture supplements for pets are increasingly testing the effectiveness of their products. She quotes anonymous “veterinary experts” as saying that there is little evidence that joint-pain supplements for pets work, and she uses quotes from Blumenthal to support the idea that testing the efficacy of supplements for pets is particularly difficult. The HerbalGram article, however, includes information on a randomized, controlled clinical study to assess the efficacy of an herbal supplement called Pet Relief® (RZN Nutraceuticals, Orange Park, FL) for treating canine pain and lameness, which was initiated in October 2008 at Colorado State University. This study is testing a pet supplement for the very condition (arthritis) that Marchione focused on within her own article, yet she did not include any information about such trials, or quotes from researchers conducting such trials, within her own article.

The AP article on supplements for pets is the latest of a series of articles that Marchione has written about dietary supplements, beginning in June. These articles have been generally critical of complementary and alternative medicine and the supplement industry. Blumenthal provided some commentary on Marchione’s series, which was published in the July issue of ABC’s monthly electronic newsletter HerbalEGram and has also been posted on ABC’s homepage.3

>> To learn more about holistic nutrition classes, click here.


1. Marchione M. Tests reveal some pet supplements skimp on meds. Associated Press. July 9, 2009. Available at:

2. Cavaliere C. The expanding market and regulatory challenges of supplements for pets in the United States. HerbalGram. 2009;82:34-41.

3. Blumenthal M. AP publishes series on dietary supplements and CAM. HerbalEGram, July 2009;6(7). Available at: <> Accessed July 9, 2009.