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Dangers of Allergy Medications

By |2018-06-28T22:04:30-05:00March 12th, 2015|Articles, General|

Dr. Mila McManus

I rarely come across someone in my practice or personal life who doesn’t have issues with allergies. If you don’t suffer with allergy symptoms, then chances are you know someone who does. There are plenty of medications on the market, both prescription and over the counter, for treating allergy and sinus issues. It’s important to remember that over-the-counter medications aren’t necessarily safer than prescription drugs and aren’t without potential side effects. I suffered with severe allergies and eczema, and mild asthma, for the first 30+ years of my life. I remember starting allergy shots at the age of 4 or 5. I typically required 3 different medications at any given time which barely controlled my misery. I thought a medical degree would prepare me for finding the best cure for my symptoms, but alas, I was wrong. It wasn’t until I discovered holistic medicine that I was able to determine the root causes of my allergies and eczema and cure them once and for all. I’ll come back to that a little later.

Let’s talk about potential side effects of various allergy treatments. From various sources (references below), I’ve compiled a list:

  • Anti-histamines (these side effects are more common and/or severe with first generation anti-histamines such as Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) and Chlorpheniramine)

o   Weight gain (yes, really)

o   Drowsiness

o   Impaired learning

o   Blurred vision

o   Headache

o   Confusion/delirium

o   Urinary retention

o   Linked to suicide cases in teens and adults

  • Decongestants (e.g. Pseudoephedrine, Phenylephrine)

o   High blood pressure

o   Insomnia

o   Headache

o   Irritable mood

o   Arrhythmia

  • Nasal steroids (e.g. Flonase, aka Fluticasone)

o   Unpleasant smell or taste

o   Nasal irritation

o   Nosebleeds

o   Stunted growth in children

o   Suppressed immune system

o   Glaucoma (with long term use)

o   Cataracts (with long term use)

  • Leukotriene Inhibitors (e.g. Singulair, aka Montelukast)

o   Irritable mood

o   Anxiety

o   Insomnia

o   Hallucinations

o   Aggressive behavior

o   Depression/suicidal thoughts or behavior

  • Subcutaneous Immunotherapy (also known as allergy shots or SCIT)

o   Discomfort at injection site

o   Exacerbation of allergy or asthma symptoms

o   Anaphylaxis

If you asked me 12 years ago if I thought I would ever be allergy-free, I would have answered “not in a million years”. Forward to today and I can happily say that I am symptom-free! It did take 5 long years of being on the wellness path (healthy diet, elimination of allergenic foods from diet, handful of vitamins/supplements, restoring my gut health, constant detoxification, balancing hormones) and taking sublingual allergy drops, but when I consider how many years I still have to live, 5 years is trivial. I’d also like to mention that I had a terrible chemical sensitivity, such as immediate headache and general discomfort being around fragrance, and that took an additional 2 years to overcome.

Below is a list of some better, safer alternatives for treating your allergy and sinus problems, some of which I mentioned already:

o   Much safer than allergy shots.

o   NOT FDA-approved yet, but many doctors (self-included) use SLIT “off-label”, meaning the allergens used to concoct the drops are FDA-approved, but for use in injections rather than sublingual liquid.

o   SLIT has been successfully used in Europe for decades.

o   Recently the FDA approved a sublingual tablet that specifically treats grass allergy, but must be started 4 months prior to the season and is very expensive. In addition, most people with allergies are allergic to several, if not numerous, allergens, which this tablet will not treat.

o   Contributes towards a more permanent solution for allergy symptoms rather than a continual “band-aid” with antihistamine type drugs.

  • Acupuncture
  • EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique)-an acupuncture based treatment
  • Supplements that have natural anti-histamine and anti-inflammatory activity in the body

o   Click here to learn more

  • Essential oils

o   Click here to learn more

  • Restoration of gut health which includes dietary changes, removal of opportunistic microbes such as yeast, repletion of good gut bacteria with probiotics, and eventual healing and sealing of the gut.

o   80% of your immune system is located in your gut, so it’s important to support gut health in order to support your immune system against over-reacting to harmless allergens, which is what triggers allergy symptoms.

o   A study published in 2008 showed that people who took probiotics throughout the allergy season had lower levels of an antibody that triggered allergy symptoms. Other research has found that giving probiotics to newborns and pregnant females may help prevent childhood allergies.

  • Irrigation of sinuses, such as with a neti pot

o   Thins mucus and flushes sinuses. This also helps to remove allergens from the nasal mucosa which are stimulating the allergic response.

  • Chiropractics-while not a specific allergy treatment, can be a great supportive therapy to improve overall health









Dangers of Blood Pressure Medications

By |2018-06-28T22:09:12-05:00March 10th, 2015|Articles, General|

By Mila McManus MD

In medical school, we are taught that 95% of the cases of hypertension (high blood pressure) that we come across are considered idiopathic, meaning that it does not have a known cause. We know there are some obvious contributors to high blood pressure such as stress, being overweight, and taking certain medications, but how can it be that so many people require blood pressure medication for no known reason? From a wellness perspective, most cases of hypertension do have an obvious underlying cause, and that’s diet. The ever-worsening American diet is causing an ever-increasing number of people with high blood pressure. It’s time to reflect on the amount of sugar, alcohol, caffeine, salt, toxins, grains, and allergens you are consuming if you have high blood pressure.

Below is a list of common classes of blood pressure medications and some of the more common side effects of them:

  • Diuretics (“water” pills, e.g., hydrochlorothiazide, furosemide, chlorthalidone).  Diuretics work by flushing excess water and sodium from the body, thus lowering blood pressure. Side effects include:

o   Arrhythmia

o   Low platelets

o   Pancreatitis

o   Low white blood cell count (ie deficiency in immune cells)

o   Glaucoma

o   Excess calcium in the body

o   High blood sugar

o   High cholesterol

o   Diarrhea

o   Headaches

o   Muscle cramps

o   Sexual dysfunction

Due to the nature of how these types of medications work, they cause depletion of numerous nutrients, such as:

o   Vitamin B6 (relating to depression, sleep disturbance, increased heart disease risk)

o   Vitamin C (relating to weak immunity, easy bruising, poor wound healing)

o   Zinc (relating to weak immunity, poor wound healing, altered sense of smell/taste, sexual dysfunction)

o   CoQ10 (relating to various cardiovascular problems, weak immune system, low energy, muscle weakness)

o   Potassium (relating to irregular heartbeat, muscle weakness, fatigue, edema)

o   Sodium (relating to muscle weakness, dehydration, memory problems, loss of appetite)

o   Magnesium (relating to cardiovascular problems, including higher blood pressure, asthma, osteoporosis, muscle cramps, PMS)

  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors. These allow blood vessels to widen by preventing the formation of a hormone called angiotensin. Frequently prescribed ACE inhibitors include enalapril (Vasotec), lisinopril (Prinivil, Zestril) and ramipril (Altace). Side effects include:
    • Swelling of the head, neck, tongue
    • Abnormalities of blood cells
    • Kidney failure
    • Liver toxicity
    • Pancreatitis
    • Headache
    • Diarrhea
    • Chronic cough
    • Fatigue
    • Sensitivity to light
    • Zinc deficiency which causes weakened immune system, impaired wound healing, altered sense of smell/taste, and sexual dysfunction
  • Angiotensin II receptor blockers. These help blood vessels relax by blocking the action of angiotensin. Frequently prescribed angiotensin II receptor blockers include losartan (Cozaar), candesartan (Atacand) and valsartan (Diovan). Side effects include:
    • Chronic cough
    • Upset stomach
    • Swelling of head, neck, tongue
    • Kidney failure
    • Fatigue
  • Beta blockers. These work by blocking certain nerve and hormonal signals to the heart and blood vessels, thus lowering blood pressure. Frequently prescribed beta blockers include metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol XL), nadolol (Corgard) and atenolol (Tenormin). Side effects include:
    • Heart failure
    • Fatigue
    • Depression
    • Impotence
    • Cold extremities
    • Dizziness
    • Shortness of breath
    • Vertigo
    • Deficiency of CoQ10 which causes various cardiovascular problems, weak immune system and low energy
  • Calcium channel blockers. These prevent calcium from going into heart and blood vessel muscle cells, thus causing the cells to relax, which lowers blood pressure. Frequently prescribed calcium channel blockers include amlodipine (Norvasc), diltiazem (Cardizem, Dilacor XR) and nifedipine (Adalat CC, Procardia). Side effects include:
    • Arrhythmias
    • Heart failure
    • Edema (e.g. puffiness/swelling of hands and feet)
    • Headache
    • Nausea
    • Dizziness
    • Asthenia (restless feeling)
    • Constipation
  • Renin inhibitors. Renin is a substance produced by your kidneys that starts a chain of chemical steps that increases blood pressure. Aliskiren (Tekturna) slows down the production of renin, reducing its ability to begin this process. Due to a risk of serious complications, including stroke, you shouldn’t take aliskiren along with ACE inhibitors or angiotensin II receptor blockers if you have diabetes or kidney disease. Other side effects include:
    • Kidney stones
    • Swelling of head, neck, tongue
    • Diarrhea
    • Kidney failure
  • Alpha agonists. (clonidine, brand name of which is Catapres) This class of drug works on receptors in the brain that inhibit the release of norepinephrine, thereby relaxing blood vessels which, in turn, lowers blood pressure. Side effects include:
    • Depression
    • Dizziness
    • Dry mouth
    • Sexual dysfunction
    • Fatigue
    • Ear pain
    • Headache
    • Insomnia
    • Deficiencies of:
        • Coenzyme Q10 (Various cardiovascular problems, weak immune system, low energy)
        • Vitamin B6 (Depression, sleep disturbance, increased cardiovascular disease risk)
        • Zinc (Weak immunity, impaired wound healing, altered sense of smell/taste, sexual dysfunction)
        • Vitamin B1 (Depression, irritability, memory loss, muscle weakness, edema)
  • Alpha blockers. These medications prevent norepinephrine from binding to alpha-1 receptors on smooth muscle surrounding blood vessels, thereby keeping them relaxed, which in turn lowers blood pressure. Examples of this class include terazosin (Hytrin), Prazosin (Minipress), and doxazosin (Cardura). Side effects include:
    • Some research has found that some alpha blockers can increase the risk of heart failure with long-term use
    • Arrhythmia
    • Priapism (dangerous long lasting erection)
    • Headache
    • Dizziness
    • Fatigue
    • Edema (swelling)
    • Diarrhea
    • Shortness of breath
    • Nausea
    • Dry mouth
    • Blurred vision
    • Excessive urination
  • Vasodilators. (hydralazine). This class of medication directly relaxes the blood vessels by interfering with calcium transport. Side effects include:
    • Inflammation of nerves
    • Headache
    • Lupus
    • Abnormalities of blood cells

Now that you’ve read many reasons to avoid blood pressure medications, here are some alternative methods to consider which can all help to reduce your blood pressure naturally.*

  • Supplements, such as:

o   Magnesium-relaxes smooth muscle cells in blood vessels, thus reducing pressure. Read more about magnesium here.

o   Krill oil-according to writer Tanya Louise Coad in an article on livestrong.com, “hundreds of published studies have shown benefits from supplementing omega-3s for lowering blood pressure”. She further stated that “a study reported in the May 2009 issue of the Journal of Food Science found a significant blood pressure lowering effect from krill oil on rats. The researchers extracted a peptide from oil located in the tail section and when they fed it to rats, it produced an immediate drop in the animals’ blood pressure”.

o   Vitamin D- according to an article by Dr. Mercola, vitamin D deficiency increases parathyroid hormone production, which increases blood pressure. Moreover, Vitamin D is also a negative inhibitor of your body’s renin-angiotensin sys­tem (RAS), which regulates blood pressure. If you’re vitamin D deficient, it can cause inappropriate activation of your RAS, which may lead to hy­pretension.

o   Neo40 is a supplement that boosts nitric oxide. Read about it here.

  • Deep breathing exercises

o   Several times per day, and especially when feeling stressed, stop and take 30 seconds to do the following: Sit relaxed in a chair, close your eyes, hold your hands together, picture a happy memory in your mind, and take 4 deep breaths with a 4-count in and 4-count out.

  • EFT
  • Meditation
  • Healing Codes
  • Exercise
  • Weight loss
  • Reduce or eliminate alcohol consumption
  • Reduce or eliminate caffeine intake
  • Low carb diet- Insulin depletes magnesium, impairs body’s ability to produce nitric oxide, and causes sodium retention, all of which contribute to high blood pressure. Read Nancy Mehlert’s article about the vicious cycle.

*This information is for educational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Any changes to blood pressure medication should be done under medical supervision.








Dangers of Antidepressants

By |2015-01-06T07:33:18-05:00January 6th, 2015|Articles, General|

By Mila McManus MD

The CDC estimates that one in ten Americans has depression. Chances are, if you don’t take antidepressant medication, you know someone who does. There are many levels of depression and many causes of depression. The main causes of depression have never been, and never will be, deficiencies of Prozac, Effexor, Wellbutrin, Cymbalta, or Lexapro. Causes may, however, be related to diet, gut health, side effects of medications, nutritional deficiencies, negative thinking, emotional trauma, chronic pain, lack of exercise, and hormonal imbalances/ deficiencies.   I do believe that sometimes antidepressants are necessary, at least temporarily, but they’ll never correct the underlying cause(s), and they have many potential side effects.

To name a few (or many):

  • Your risk for type 2 diabetes is two to three times higher if you take antidepressants, according to one study.
  • Problems with your immune system: SSRIs (e.g. Prozac, Celexa, Lexapro, Paxil, Zoloft) cause serotonin to remain in your nerve junctions longer, interfering with immune cell signaling and T cell growth. New research indicates that serotonin is also a signaling molecule between immune cells. Certain cells pick up serotonin at inflammation sites and pass it along to T cells (a type of immune cell). This affects T cell growth and division into new cells. One study showed that, when Prozac was introduced at inflammation sites, it blocked this type of serotonin uptake.
  • Suicidal thoughts and feelings and violent behavior: Your risk for suicide may be twice as high if you take SSRIs; seven out of twelve school shootings were by children who were either on antidepressants or withdrawing from them.
  • Stillbirths: A Canadian study of almost 5,000 mothers found that women on SSRIs were twice as likely to have a stillbirth, and almost twice as likely to have a premature or low birth weight baby; another study showed a 40 percent increased risk for birth defects such as cleft palate.
  • Brittle bones: One study showed women on antidepressants have a higher risk of fractures
  • Stroke: Your risk for stroke may be 45 percent higher if you are on antidepressants
  • Death: Overall death rates have been found to be 32 percent higher in women on antidepressants.
  • SSRIs have been shown to increase your risk of developing bipolar depression. Anywhere from 25 to 50 percent of children who take an antidepressant for five years convert to bipolar illness. In adults, about 25 percent of long term users convert from a diagnosis of unipolar depression to bipolar disorder.
  • Weight gain- this is one of the most common reasons a person will discontinue or change an antidepressant medication
  • Sexual dysfunction, including decreased sexual desire, delayed ejaculation in men, and the inability to have an orgasm in women.
  • Sleep disorders, including insomnia, nightmares, and sleepwalking
  • Sedation (daytime sleepiness)
  • headache, joint pain, muscle aches, nausea, skin rashes, or diarrhea

In addition, here’s a list of common side effects for the most commonly prescribed classes of antidepressants:

  • TCAs (e.g. Nortriptyline, Amitriptyline) – dry mouth, blurred vision, constipation, urinary retention, and increased pressure in the eye. They are also associated with hypertension, abnormal heart rhythms, anxiety, insomnia, seizures, headache, rash, nausea, and vomiting, abdominal cramps, weight loss, and sexual dysfunction.
  • SSRIs (e.g. Prozac, Celexa, Lexapro, Paxil, Zoloft) and SNRIs (e.g. Cymbalta, Effexor) – abnormal thinking, agitation, anxiety, dizziness, headache, insomnia, sexual dysfunction, sedation, tremor, sweating, weight loss, diarrhea, constipation, dry mouth, rash, and nausea. SSRIs have also been associated with hyponatremia (low sodium), hypoglycemia (low blood glucose), and seizures.

Have you tried to wean your medication(s) before and failed? There are at least a couple of reasons why that might be.

  1. You hadn’t addressed the underlying causes of why you needed the medication(s) in the first place and/or

  2. Withdrawal symptoms were too miserable to continue weaning

I took antidepressants for years, and it wasn’t until I discovered holistic functional medicine that I was able to successfully wean off my medication. In our medical training, the name of the game is learning how to bandaid symptoms with drugs. In holistic and functional medical training, the name of the game is correcting the underlying causes of symptoms and disease. This explains why all my previous efforts to wean my medication had been miserable failures. I was an emotional wreck, was dizzy, and had constant ‘brain zaps’. Once I addressed the underlying issues (poor diet, nutritional bankruptcy, hidden food allergies, poor gut health, and hormonal imbalances that weren’t found on typical blood tests), it was only a short matter of time until I successfully weaned off my antidepressant (and 11 other prescription medications). While this has also been the case for countless numbers of my patients over the years, it’s important to note that some patients have more complex issues and may take years to improve their health, physically as well as emotionally. Addressing depression, and many other health issues, requires focusing on mind, body, AND spirit. Here is a list of several things you can do to work towards a successful wean from your antidepressant(s)*:

  • Click here to read about a few supplements that can naturally alleviate depression and anxiety.
  • Nutrients that are well known to play a role with mood include Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D**, magnesium, B-6, B12, and folate. These are all very common nutritional deficiencies that we find in my practice. If you suffer with depression, talk to a wellness specialist about proper doses to meet your individual needs.
  • Exercise, again and again, has shown in studies to be important for warding off anxiety and depression. Too tired or too busy? You can start with a 5 minute walk every day.
  • Address the mind, body, and spirit with therapy, EFT, meditation, and/or yoga.
  • Get your hormones balanced by an experienced wellness specialist using nutrition, supplements, and/or bio-identical hormones. Imbalance or deficiency in any number of your hormones (e.g. thyroid, estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA, cortisol) can affect your mood, and these issues often won’t be found on typical blood tests. Are your lab results always ‘normal’? Test for hormonal imbalance a better way by completing free symptom questionnaires.
  • I also recommend a book to many patients called The Healing Code by Dr. Alex Loyd. Read about it here.

*Never attempt to wean your medication(s) without medical supervision.

**One study found that people with the lowest levels of vitamin D were 11 times more prone to depression than those with adequate vitamin D levels.

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Dangers of Anti-Acids

By |2014-12-09T20:43:31-05:00December 9th, 2014|Articles, General|


by Mila McManus MD

If you have made it a habit of taking anti-acids on a regular basis, whether it’s Nexium, Prilosec, Prevacid, Zegerid, Zantac, Pepcid, Tums, or Rolaids, to name a few, I strongly encourage you to read this article. The FDA cautions against high doses or prolonged use of Proton Pump Inhibitors (e.g. Prevacid, Nexium, and Zegerid) because they’ve been shown to increase the risk of infection, bone fractures, and dementia. Moreover, all anti-acids (e.g. Zantac, Pepcid, and Tums) have 4 main consequences:

1. Increased bacterial overgrowth

2. Impaired nutrient absorption

3. Increased susceptibility to infections

4. Increased risk of cancer and other diseases

You’ve been led to believe that the cause of your heartburn or acid reflux is too much acid. Well, I’m here to tell you that we all have acid and we all need acid for proper processing of the foods we eat. The real problem is dysfunction of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). The LES is what separates the esophagus from the stomach and its job is to keep foods and liquids from coming back up, and to keep stomach acid in the stomach where it belongs. So when you ask yourself why you have too much acid causing your heartburn, you should really be asking yourself why your LES is failing.

Below are some important facts about causes of heartburn, consequences of acid-reducing drugs, and real treatment options:

  • LOW stomach acid is the usual initial cause of heartburn and reflux.
  • Low stomach acid allows for bacteria to flourish, whereas adequate amounts of stomach acid that should normally be present help to prevent overgrowth of bacteria because the acid makes a hostile environment in which to grow. It is well documented that acid-reducing drugs promote bacterial overgrowth.
  • Since stomach acid stimulates the pancreas to secrete enzymes that digest/process carbohydrates, when there’s a lack of stomach acid, carbohydrates cannot be broken down properly (nor can protein or fat, since that requires stomach acid as well).
  • When you have unprocessed carbohydrates, they will then be fermented by gut bacteria which in turn help the bacteria to thrive, causing overgrowth of these opportunistic microbes.
  • This also creates an excess of gas production which increases intra-abdominal pressure, which consequently leads to malfunction of the LES.
  • If it’s gas produced by maldigestion of carbohydrates, (which causes subsequent fermentation by gut bacteria leading to the production of gas) that causes reflux, then it would make sense that reducing intake of carbohydrates and/or reducing the bacterial load in the gut would help reflux. And by golly, it has been shown that both of these independently can improve or resolve reflux.
  • Dr. McBride, in her book Gut and Psychology Syndrome, mentions that there are opportunistic bacteria in the gut that, when allowed to flourish, can produce and secrete substances that relax the LES, thereby causing reflux of stomach contents.
  • It’s a well-known fact that low stomach acid reduces absorption of important nutrients such as amino acids, iron, B12, folate, calcium and zinc.

-Amino acids are the building blocks for everything from hormones and enzymes to muscles and neurotransmitters. Your body can make some of its own amino acids, while others (aka “essential amino acids”) must be obtained from the diet. One of these is Tyrosine, which is required to make thyroid hormone. (test yourself for low thyroid function here) Tyrosine also plays an important role in supporting neurotransmitters that affect mood and appetite. Since many of the amino acids, such as phenylalanine and tryptophan, play a crucial role in mental and behavioral health, low stomach acid predisposes people to developing depression, anxiety, and/or other mental health issues.

-Iron is vital for oxygen transport and DNA synthesis. Low iron will lead to anemia, low energy, and hair loss.

-Vitamin B12 plays a wide variety of roles, including supporting metabolism and nerve function. Symptoms of low B12 include fatigue, memory impairment, depression, anemia, numbness and tingling.

-Folate also has many functions in the body. Low folate can lead to birth defects, heart disease, cancers, and blood disorders.

-Your body uses most of its calcium to keep your bones and teeth strong. The rest of the calcium in your body plays key roles in cell signaling, blood clotting, muscle contraction and nerve function.

-Zinc is another vital nutrient that’s needed for the body’s immune system to work properly. It also plays a role in cell division, cell growth, wound healing, and hormone balance.

  • Stomach acid is a first line of defense for us. It kills disease-causing microbes that might be hiding in our food, and also prevents bacteria in our intestines from migrating up into the stomach and beyond.
  • Causes of low stomach acid:

-Anti-Acids, as mentioned above


-Auto-immune diseases, particularly of the thyroid and gastrointestinal tract

-Adrenal fatigue (aka adrenal insufficiency)- Cortisol is the main hormone that’s depleted in someone with adrenal fatigue, and cortisol stimulates secretion of stomach acid

-H. pylori, which is a bacterial infection that thrives in the stomach by reducing acid in the stomach (since stomach acid usually prevents growth of bacteria).

  • Other well-known causes of malfunction of LES—caffeine and alcohol
  • Treatment options:

-Get evaluated and, if applicable, treated for H.pylori infection
-Get treated for adrenal fatigue by a qualified functional medicine practitioner (click here to test yourself for adrenal fatigue and call 281-298-6742 to speak with a wellness consultant)
-Cut back on or eliminate caffeine and/or alcohol
-Supplement with stomach acid! There are several caveats here, so this is best handled by supervision from a functional medicine practitioner. You can find Betaine HCL supplements with pepsin that provide the stomach acid you need; however, these are best used under supervision to ensure that underlying causes of LES dysfunction are being addressed first, or in conjunction, and that there are no contraindications to using this supplement, such as active stomach ulcers.


Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride



Recognizing a Good Supplement

By |2024-02-20T08:21:30-05:00February 28th, 2024|Articles, General|

by Mila McManus, MD

Supplements are not all created equal! On Amazon, 1 out of every 2 sold is counterfeit. Identifying quality supplements is quite complex.

Supplements are not all created equal! Natural products and supplement choices have exploded as Americans search for the next magic bullet for good health and longevity. On Amazon, 1 out of every 2 supplements sold is counterfeit.  More recently, the FDA threatened legal action against Amazon for selling male energy supplements that contained undeclared quantities of Cialis and Viagra in them.[1] Frankly, identifying quality supplements is quite complex. In this article, I will attempt to point out many of the variables I’ve discovered over the years in my efforts to ensure the best quality, potency, purity, and production standards.

First, generally speaking, you DO get what you pay for with regard to supplements, and there are also expensive well-known brands that should be avoided.  Still, if you are faced with making a decision when purchasing a supplement with no one to offer guidance, choose the more expensive and avoid the cheapest, generic supplements.

Second, carefully scrutinize the ‘other’ and ‘inactive’ ingredients on the labels and choose those with the fewest number of them. Binders, colors, coatings, sweeteners, and fillers are often potential allergens (e.g., yeast, gluten, corn, soy) or known carcinogens (e.g., food colors, talc, dyes, artificial sweeteners). Some harmless ones include silicon dioxide, cellulose, and citric acid.

Third, look for third-party tested supplements to ensure quality control and purity. One study of 55 different brands of vitamin D showed that the actual amount of vitamin D per dose varied from 9 to 146% of what the labels listed.  Several years ago, Consumer Labs studied numerous brands of multivitamins and nearly half of them didn’t have in the bottles what the bottles listed were in the bottles.[3]  Higher-end, reputable supplement manufacturers use the best raw materials, create formulations based on solid scientific data, and use third-party testing to ensure quality and purity of their products.  These factors command a higher price.

Fourth, be aware that common contaminants found in vitamins and supplements include mold, pesticides, and heavy metals such as lead, arsenic, and mercury.  You won’t see that listed on the label!   While USP, GMP, and NPA are common quality seals on supplements that suggest it has met at least some minimum quality standards, it does not necessarily ensure top quality. There are many top quality supplements without these seals.  Remember, supplements are not very regulated. So who are you going to trust?

Fifth, the amount of active ingredients varies widely across supplements.  A supplement may appear great because of numerous healthy ingredients listed, such as CoQ10, turmeric, spirulina, chlorella, ginger, fruits, and vegetables, but they may be insignificant amounts that aren’t doing much good, if at all.  It’s also noteworthy that the RDA (recommended daily allowance) is often very suboptimal.  For instance, the RDA for vitamin C may be enough to prevent scurvy, but it’s hardly an optimal amount to support immune function, alleviate seasonal allergies, and neutralize the onslaught of free radicals and chemicals to which we are exposed on a daily basis.

Sixth, when looking at nutrient labels on vitamin and mineral supplements, it’s important to know the difference between their forms. You’ll notice, for example, that there are several forms of magnesium.  Magnesium glycinate, magnesium oxide, magnesium citrate, and magnesium malate are all different chelated forms of magnesium.  If your magnesium supplement is magnesium oxide, it’s nothing more than a good laxative. You aren’t absorbing that magnesium for its internal benefits.  Calcium is another good example.  Calcium carbonate is very inexpensive and also not well absorbed.  If this is the form in your multivitamin, it’s time to find a better one.

Seventh, it seems intuitive that taking a ‘natural whole food’ supplement would be better than a synthetic form; however, that’s often not the case. A supplement claiming to have nothing but fruits and vegetables in it may be contaminated with pesticides, and it’s also difficult to get optimal doses of nutrients from fruits and vegetables.  Sure, it’s obviously important to eat your fruits and vegetables, but these days our bodies require much more than those can provide.  This is mainly due to depletion of nutrients available in soil, and increased toxins in the environment.   Another reason that whole food based supplements may not be ideal for some is the yeast content.  Yeast is a common allergen that could be affecting you without you realizing it.

Eighth, popularity does not mean quality. For instance, Centrum® is one of the most popular brands of multivitamin, however, it contains corn and soy (highly allergenic and genetically modified), 3 food dyes including red dye #40, Talc (yes, baby powder, and has been linked to cancer), and contains the cheapest and least absorbable minerals, namely calcium carbonate and magnesium oxide.

Ninth, there are synthetic and natural forms of many vitamins.  Remember that synthetic means it has been man made through chemical synthesis. While some water soluble vitamins can be acceptable in their synthetic form, the fat-soluble dl-alpha vitamin E should be avoided! The best form of vitamin E is “mixed tocopherols”.

Overwhelmed?  Well, we’ve done our homework and offer several product lines at our facility to make your life easier. And we’re happy to ship them to you.

Be Well. Choose Health.

[1] https://www.businessinsider.com/amazon-receives-fda-warning-over-male-energy-supplements-containing-viagra-2023

[2] https://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/health-issues/dietary-supplements-what-the-industry-does-not-want-you-to-know/#gsc.tab=0

[3] O magazine, June 2004  (Article on Consumer Labs study)

 Other Resources:

Blog, Herbs and Supplements, Holistic & Functional Nutrition: Trending Topics/ July 26, 2023. The Hidden Dangers of Buying Supplements on Amazon and eBay.







Sitting is the New Smoking!

By |2023-01-16T11:27:15-05:00January 18th, 2023|Articles, General|

by Mila McManus, MD

The combination of both sitting more than six hours a day and being less physically active was associated with a 94 percent increase in all causes of premature death rates in women.

 You may be old enough to remember when it was common to have smoking sections on planes and in restaurants, and when smoking was allowed just about everywhere. Once the physical dangers were recognized, our nation finally launched a huge campaign against smoking and this was successful with greatly reducing the number of smokers today.  Now there is a new health problem that has taken it’s place. 

The combination of both sitting more than six hours a day and being less physically active was associated with a 94 percent increase in all causes of premature death rates in women and a 48 percent increase in men, compared with those who reported sitting less than three hours a day and being most active.”  Tony Robbins

Exercise and movement continue to be a key pillar for good health and disease prevention. Walk more than you stand, stand more than you sit, sit more than you recline.  Every step counts. Consider a standing work station. Set a timer when sitting to remind yourself to get up and move every 45 minutes to an hour. Monitor your steps with an app on your cell phone.  Keep moving!


Robbins, T. (2022) Life Force. New York: Simon & Schuster,326.

Salt Selection Matters

By |2022-10-26T14:06:47-05:00July 21st, 2022|General, NANCY’S NUTRITIONAL NUGGET|

By Nancy Mehlert, MS


Salt is a flavor most of us really enjoy.  Salt is life-givingEvery cell in your body relies on it for regulation of body fluids, bone density, blood sugar stabilization, good circulation and muscle and nerve function.

Naturally occurring salt is 40% sodium and 60% chloride. The chemical formula is NaCl. Sodium and chloride are both essential electrolytes your body requires. Sodium balance in the body is complex and impacted by magnesium, calcium, and potassium. If you change the level of one electrolyte, such as sodium, you are impacting the others. Balance is essential to your overall health. Most table salts and sodium in processed food do NOT contain the good stuff, but rather a manufactured salt which negatively impacts the delicate balance of electrolytes in the body.

Here’s the dirt on most common table salts:

  • Most table salt today is heated and cooked at 1200°F. At this extremely high temperature, the salt loses more than eighty important alkaline elements that occur naturally in it, including natural iodine, leaving just pure sodium chloride. Then it is chemically bleached to make it white.
  • Other chemicals often added in table salt including manufactured forms of fluoride, anti-caking agents and toxic amounts of potassium iodide and aluminum derivates, as well as white sugar and mono-sodium-glutamate (MSG). This is what you find in processed food and table salt.
  • As a result, sometimes table salt can be literally toxic to the human body.
  • It is found in virtually every processed and fast food in the marketplace today. Typically, bread, fast food, and frozen meals have the largest quantities.

Processed table salt wreaks havoc in the human body, especially over time. Here’s how:

  • Causes a rapid rise in blood pressure as the body attempts to move the toxic elements away from the heart.
  • Causes fluid retention and is hard on the circulatory, nervous, and lymph system.
  • Chronic imbalances contribute to and/or worsen diabetes, gout, and obesity.
  • Additives in salt can cause major kidney, thyroid, and liver problems, goiter, hypertension, heart disease, strained elimination systems, muscle cramps, edema, stroke, heart failure, PMS, and major nervous system disorders such as anxiety and depression.
  • It is highly addictive as the chemical additives are designed to stimulate pleasure centers of the brain, in the same way sugar does this.

So, what’s your best option?  Usually, normal use of high-quality table salt along with a whole food diet will not invite issues with blood pressure, water retention, or cardiovascular disease.  However, surprisingly, sea salt may not be the answer.  As a result of plastics polluting the oceans, sea salt has been found to contain microplastic particles. This leaves the optimal choice to be Himalayan salt, which is mined from salt beds created long before plastic and other toxic chemicals were manufactured. Himalayan salt contains at least 80 naturally occurring trace elements which are beneficial to our health.

Be cautious when you make your purchase as there are cheap knock offs. Two brands that appear to be authentic and pure are Evolution Salt Company (harvested in the Himalayas), and Redmond’s Real Salt (sea salt harvested from a pristine ancient sea near Redmond, Utah). Most people need about 1.5 teaspoons, or 3500mg of sodium a day. Quality salt along with vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, will provide a balance of electrolytes and essential minerals for the day.



Group, Edward., (2017). The Health Dangers of Table Salt. Global Healing Center. https://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/dangers-of-salt/

Mercola, Joseph., (2018). Ninety Percent of Sea Salt Contains Plastic. https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2018/10/31/sea-salt-plastic.aspx

Mercola, Joseph., (2022). Do You Know the Difference Between Salt and Sodium?



Why Which Salt You Use Matters

By |2019-07-03T15:54:53-05:00June 12th, 2019|Articles, NANCY’S NUTRITIONAL NUGGET|

by Nancy Mehlert, MS

Salt is a flavor most of us really enjoy. It is an essential mineral in just about everything that has life.  It is found in the Himalayan mountains, the depths of the ocean floor and salt lakes.  It is life-giving.  Every cell in your body relies on salt for regulation of body fluids, bone density, blood sugar stabilization, good circulation and muscle and nerve function.

As with so much of our food supply, it is important to choose real salt from a safe source.  Sad that the distinction must be made since manufacturing has once again gotten in between the real thing and us, producing a less than healthy processed food product which merely mimics the taste of salt’s natural elements.

Here’s the  dirt on Table Salt:

  • Much of table salt today is a manufactured form of sodium called sodium chloride created from natural salts occurring in rock, crystal or sea salt.
  • Natural salts are heated up and cooked at 1200°F.  At this extremely high temperature, the salt loses the more than eighty important alkaline elements that occur naturally in it, including natural iodine and leaving just sodium chloride.
  • Then it is bleached to make it white.
  • Other chemicals often added in table salt (with or without iodide) include manufactured forms of sodium solo-co-aluminate, iodide, sodium bicarbonate, fluoride, anti-caking agents and toxic amounts of potassium iodide and aluminum derivates, as well as white sugar and mono-sodium-glutamate (MSG). As a result, sometimes table salt can be literally toxic to the human body.
  • Table salt is not just on your table.  It is found in virtually every processed and fast food in the marketplace today from bread to frozen meals.

Table salt wreaks havoc in the human body, especially over time. Here’s how:

  • Causes a rapid rise in blood pressure as the body attempts to move the toxic elements away from the heart.
  • Causes water and fluid retention.
  • Contributes to and/or worsens chronic imbalances such as diabetes, gout, and obesity.
  • Additives in salt can cause major kidney, thyroid and liver problems, goiter, hypertension, heart disease, strained elimination systems, muscle cramps, water retention, edema, stroke, heart failure, PMS and major nervous system disorders such as anxiety and depression.
  • Table salt is hard on the circulatory and nervous system and disturbs the balance of the lymph system as well.
  • It is highly addictive as the chemical additives are designed to stimulate pleasure centers of the brain, in the same way sugar does.

So what’s your best option?  Surprisingly, sea salt may not be the answer either.  As a result of ocean pollution, specifically with microplastic pollution, sea salt has been found to contain microplastic particles.This leaves the optimal choice to be Himalayan salt, which is mined from salt beds created long before plastic and other toxic chemicals were manufactured.  When the Himalayan Mountains were formed by rising from the ocean beds, they were later protected by lava and covered in snow and ice for thousands of years.  The balance of sodium and chloride with the added natural minerals your body requires, contribute to its pink color.  Himalayan salt contains at least 80 naturally occurring trace elements which are beneficial to our health. Be cautious when you make your purchase as there are cheap knock offs. Three brands that appear to be authentic and pure are Evolution Salt Company, Dr. Mercola’s Himalayan salt and Redmond’s Real Salt (sea salt harvested from a pristine ancient sea near Redmond, Utah).


Group, Edward.,(2017). The Health Dangers of Table Salt. Global Healing Center. https://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/dangers-of-salt/

Mercola, Joseph., (2018). Ninety Percent of Sea Salt Contains Plastic. https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2018/10/31/sea-salt-plastic.aspx


Fake Food: You Don’t Always Get What You Want (or think you bought)

By |2017-06-04T06:39:53-05:00June 4th, 2017|Articles, General|

fake beef

This month we’re focusing on BEEF.

Traditionally, cattle were grass fed from start to finish. As little as three generations ago, a steer was fed grass its entire life and was not slaughtered for market until the age of four or five years old.  Today, through misguided policies and government subsidies, our nation has figured out the route to cheaper and faster without considering the long term impact on humans, animals, and environmental health.  Now, the majority of cattle spends just the first few months of life on pasture land and then are “finished”, or fattened, in a feed lot (Confined Animal Feeding Operations, aka CAFO).  The goal is to take a cow from birthweight of about 80 pounds to 1200 pounds in just a little more than a year.  The only way to accomplish this unnatural feat is to feed the animal enormous quantities of corn, soy based protein supplements, antibiotics and other drugs, including hormones.

This article could easily take many avenues, from animal cruelty, environmental issues or government policy, but our purpose today is to focus on what kind of beef can offer the greatest nutritional value.  Let me preface this by saying that most Americans consume far more meat than needed and are grossly insufficient consumers of vegetables and healthy, undamaged fats.  Meats, which can be part of a well-balanced, nutritious diet, are far healthier and superior when obtained from animals that have eaten their natural diet.

The Bad News about Feed Lot Beef

When we eat CAFO meat, our health is impacted negatively in the following ways:

  • Increasingly, research reveals that pesticides used on genetically modified food has significant long term health risks, most notably glyphosate. Glyphosate is classified by the World Health Organization as a Class 2A, “probable human carcinogen”. Cows are fed genetically altered, glyphosate-sprayed, corn, soy and other byproducts.
  • We are currently human lab rats in the experiment of genetic modification as we artificially transfer genes from one species to another where it would never occur under natural conditions. The process yields unexpected and unpredictable results, including transferring foreign genes from other species into humans¹.
  • In CAFO operations, antibiotics are used as a preventive measure so that animals can be kept in conditions and fed things that would otherwise make them sick. Antibiotics, along with growth hormones and steroids, are also used as a cheap method to help cattle gain weight. Growth hormones and steroids are banned in pig and poultry production. ²
  • There are also reports that cattle are also fed animal waste that includes chicken litter (which contains chicken feces, bedding, feathers and other unknown residues) as well as the flesh and bones of dead cattle.⁶
  • Corn fed beef is more inflammatory to humans because it adds to our intake of Omega 6 fatty acids which promote inflammation.
  • “Pink slime” in ground beef remains very real. Simply look for terms like “lean finely textured beef” (LFTB), “textured beef,” “finely textured beef” or “boneless lean beef trimmings” (BLBT). It is used to hold beef together and is made from meat trimmings heated at high temperatures to remove the fat, then treated with ammonia or citric acid to kill bacteria. It is used as a filler as well.⁴  Um, gross!
  • “Meat glue” is also still very prevalent. Many “premium” cuts of meat you are buying in restaurants are cheaper cuts assembled to look like filet mignon or ribeye.  The glue is an enzyme known as transglutaminase, reportedly created by cultivating bacteria or using blood plasma of pigs and cows. It is apparently toxic enough to warrant those working with the product to wear protective masks to avoid inhaling fumes from it. Another concern is that it harbors pathogens and since it will be located at the center of the meat, ordering on the rare side may not kill the pathogens. ⁵
  • An important consideration for everyone is the modern-day crisis we face, as the antibiotics we consume in our meat and dairy products create antibiotic resistance in our own bodies.

The Good News about Grass Fed Beef

Not surprising, when an animal eats its natural diet in a healthy living environment, the meat and eggs from that animal are healthier options for us to eat.

  • Grass fed beef is lower in fat and provides more of the healthy Omega-3 fats that are crucial for human health and are also found in walnuts, flaxseeds and fish. A grass fed steak typically has twice as many Omega-3’s as a grain fed steak. ³
  • Grass fed beef is also four times higher in vitamin E than feed lot cattle, and much higher in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). Both of these nutrients are associated with reducing inflammation, providing antioxidant protection, and preventing cancer. ³
  • Truly 100% grass fed and organic beef will be free of pesticides, antibiotics and hormones. The cows will be raised on grass and hay.  See the Nutrition Nugget in this newsletter for how to buy quality grass fed beef.


²Real Food Fake Food, by Larry Olmsted, published by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, 27515 Copyright 2016





Brain Builders and Brain Drainers

By |2018-09-12T12:38:27-05:00March 25th, 2016|Articles, General|

By Mila McManus MD and Nancy Mehlert MS

The human brain is home to more than 100 billion nerve cells that serve as the central command center for the human body. Neuroscientists have confirmed that we do have the ability to make new brain cells, a process called neurogenesis. Learning new things, having sex, and engaging in aerobic activities all increase neurogenesis, whereas stress and poor sleep decrease it. Not surprisingly, scientists have also discovered that nutrition plays a very significant role in the ability to make new brain cells. This means we can be very intentional about taking care of our brain to promote new cell growth thus improving memory, mood and a keeping a sharp mind as we age.

brain lifting wts

Brain Drainers

  • Keep carbohydrates in check, avoiding boxed, packaged and processed foods, especially grains and pastas as well as gluten, and sugar.  All of these convert rapidly to sugar, a highly destructive substance to the brain.  Read Grain Brain by Dr. David Perlmutter.
  • Avoid alcohol. It’s a depressant, it’s inflammatory, and inhibits neurogenesis of the region of the brain involved with memory.
  • Avoid foods high in Omega 6 which are inflammatory fatty acids.  This includes natural and processed oils from corn, soybean, cottonseed, canola, grapeseed, safflower and sunflower.
  • Toxins-we are exposed to toxins 24/7.  Every time we drink, eat, take a breath or shower, we are absorbing toxins.  We don’t all detoxify at the same rate. Consider genetic testing that will help determine how well you detoxify. Also consider heavy metal testing.  Aluminum, for example, increases acetylcholinesterase, the enzyme that breaks down acetylcholine.  Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter involved with memory.  Learn more about toxin “blocks and tackles” here.
  • Prescription drugs (and well, illicit drugs, too, of course).  Statin drugs commonly prescribed for high cholesterol are among the worst offenders.  You can also read our series on the dangers of other commonly prescribed drugs, such as antihistamines.
  • Electrosmog-this is the invisible electromagnetic radiation emitted from products such as cell phones, cordless phones, wi-fi, baby monitors, and cell phone towers.  While the dangers of electrosmog are still controversial, we believe this is a real threat.  Studies have shown, for example, that electrosmog emitted from mobile phones increases blood brain barrier (BBB) permeability. The BBB protects our brains from toxins, for example, so if the permeability is increased, consider the flood gates to be open!
  • Infection-it’s gross to think about, but we all have a LOT of microbes (bacteria, viruses, fungi, yeast, parasites) taking up residence in our bodies, including our brain. Lyme disease, for example, is very difficult to diagnose accurately with blood tests, and is known to have a link to brain diseases such as MS, ALS, and Alzheimers.  Candida, a form of yeast, produces over 100 neurotoxins.
  • And, as mentioned above, stress and poor sleep

Brain Builders

  • Consider Cognitive assessments to quantify cognition. See a quantitative and objective measure of your cognitive health to help complement any existing subjective assessment methods you’re using as part of your care.
  • Consider Intermittent Fasting, a scheduled pattern of eating which includes fasting, with normal eating restricted to a small 6-8 hour window of time each day.  Calorie restriction promotes neurogenesis.
  • Seek out foods and supplements high in Omega 3 fatty acids which are anti-inflammatory and make up 15 to 20% of your cerebral cortex.  Good food sources include wild Pacific/Alaskan salmon and sardines, egg yolks from pasture raised chickens, chia seeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, almonds, organic extra virgin olive oil and grass fed beef.
  • Your brain loves flavonoids – a very powerful antioxidant essential in the brain’s constant war against oxidation. Great sources of flavonoids include blueberries, dark chocolate, curcumin (found in the spice, curry), kale, citrus fruits and Brussels sprouts just to name a few.
  • Improve your gut health.  Research has revealed that the health of your brain is largely dictated by the blend of microbes in your gastrointestinal tract.
  • Optimize your hormones with a functional medicine specialist.  Slow thyroid function, for example, clearly causes slow brain function.
  • Boost oxygen! Improving circulation to the brain will provide more oxygen to the brain, thus facilitating brain function.  Consider ONDAMED, gingko biloba, and Neo40 to help achieve this.
  • Magnesium L-Threonate
  • And, as mentioned above, learning new things, having sex, and engaging in aerobic activities.

Call us at 281-298-6742 and let us help you improve your brain function.

Grain Brain by Dr. David Perlmutter