Chinese Chicken Dish-a Healthier Version of General Tso’s

Chinese Chicken

(General Tso’s chicken revised)

Gluten, soy and dairy freetzao chicken 2

 

If you like takeout Chinese food, here is a healthier substitute for General Tso’s chicken dish. You can use store bought hoisin sauce but I made my own and the recipe for that is below.  (I opted to make my own as I wanted to avoid soy in this recipe)

Ingredients

  • 1 pound organic chicken cut into small pieces
  • 2 T. non -GMO cornstarch plus 1 t. (or use arrowroot)
  • 1 t. sesame seed oil
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 small piece of ginger root, peeled and chopped
  • 2 T. coconut aminos
  • 1/2 c. organic chicken broth (or bone broth)
  • 1 T. rice wine vinegar
  • 2 T. tomato paste
  • 2 t. hoisin sauce (see recipe below)
  • 1 t. pure grade B maple syrup or local honey
  • 2 T. water
  • 2 T. sesame seeds

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375
  2. Coat the chicken with the 2 T. of the cornstarch.
  3. Place the chicken on a parchment lined tray and place in oven for 12-15 minutes
  4. Meanwhile, in a pan, heat the oil and add in the garlic and ginger and cook for 1-2 minutes
  5. Add in the coconut aminos, broth, vinegar, paste, hoisin sauce, and maple syrup. Bring this to a boil
  6. Reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook for 4 to 5 minutes
  7. Blend the 1 t. corn starch with the 2 T. water and add to the sauce and blend well.
  8. Boil for 3 to 4 minutes
  9. Add in the chicken
  10. Sprinkle with sesame seeds if desired right before serving
  11. Serve with basmati white rice and sautéed vegetables

Hoisin Sauce

Ingredients

  • 4 T. coconut aminos
  • 2 T. peanut butter (or can use black bean paste)
  • 1 T. honey
  • 2 t. rice vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic chopped
  • 2 t. sesame seed oil
  • Dash pepper
  • 1 t. Chinese hot sauce (I did not add this in to mine as I don’t like spicy)

Blend all ingredients together. Use amount needed for recipe. Store rest in mason jar in fridge.

 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition, and author of the Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide E book http://trufoodsnutrition.com/tru-foods-nutrition-and-supplement-plan-for-depression-e-book/  (and now in hard copy too http://trufoodsnutrition.com/ ) and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services LLC, will help you get to the root causes of your health conditions with an individualized plan instead of symptom management so that you can feel better finally!
 For more information visit  www.trufoodsnutrition.com or call 303-522-0381

Like this information? Know someone who can benefit from it?  Please share!

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Adaptogenic Herbs for Stress, Anxiety, Depression, Fatigue and Immune Support

 

Adaptogens for a Stress, Anxiety, Depression, Fatigue and Immune Support

ginkgo-flower-picture

What are Adaptogens

Adaptogenic herbs are herbs that allow the body to adjust to stress.  It essentially helps you resist the stress, whether it be physical or a biological response. For example, adaptogens can be useful for those coping with daily work stress, anxiety or depression, stress from training/long bouts of exercise or the stress placed on the body during injury, healing and surgery. 

They can enhance the body’s natural response, and help balance the body.  Some of these herbs can have a strengthening effect on the adrenal glands.  This is important because the herb can have the action of relieving stress. 

These herbs can affect the brain, nerves, endocrine glands, and the immune system by helping re-regulate, normalize and enhance function.  There are multiple theories as to what is occurring and even scientists are unsure of how these substances work.

Adaptogenic Herbs  for Stress and Mood Support

As you will see from the list below, you can kill two birds or more with one herb meaning you may be able to choose one herb to address your depression, fatigue and immune system.  While medications often have one purpose, herbs can be used for many different conditions and ailments. 

There are many supportive Adaptogenic herbs; this is a short list of some of the more well-known herbs.  For anxiety and depression, a class of herbs called nervines can also be very useful. 

Check with your doctor prior to adding in any herbs to your regimen as herbs can interact with medications. 

What You Should Know About Herbs Before You Make a Purchase

tincutre bottles

Always start with one herb at a time.  It is best to do this rather than buy a blend.  Often the blends have lower doses of each herb or have extra ingredients you may not need.  Also, if you have a reaction to the product you won’t know which herb it was.  Start low and slow.  Work up to the amounts mentioned. 

Adaptogens are best used for 12 weeks and then take a 2-week break or switch to a different adaptogen, as your body can adapt to the herb over time, thus reducing its effectiveness for you.  We all react differently to herbs so it may take a few tries to find the right herb for you and your health concern. 

Purchase a reliable product.  Many cheaper or store brand herbal products have been found to not contain the amount stated on the label and in other instances they do not contain the correct parts of the herb. For instance, if you are going to use Rhodiola, you want a product that uses the root, not other plant parts. Brands that I like include Gaia herbs, Herb Pharm, and Bayan Botanicals.  I’m sure there are other high quality brands but it pays to do some research first.  The dropper on a one ounce tincture bottle is equal to 30 drops.  This way you don’t have to constantly count drops!

Don’t rely on just herbs. If your body is under a great deal of stress, support the body with whole nutrient dense foods as well.  While an herb can do wonders, it needs the support of a nutrient rich diet too. 

All the herbs or supplements in the world won’t help you if you continue to “eat like crap”. 

Adaptogens for Depression

Since herbs can have a direct effect on the nervous system they can enhance mood

  • Asian ginseng root (less frequently leaf): This is one of the most studied herbs in the world. It is considered one of the most stimulating herbs.  For this reason, it makes a great herb for those who are exhausted.  Use it for insomnia, fatigue and depression.  Tincture: take 20-40 drops up to 3x per day.  Capsule: powdered herb take 2 400-500 mg. caps 2-3x per day. For powdered extract take one capsule of 400-500 mg. 2 times per day.  Start out with a lower dose and work up to the 400-500 milligram dose as for some people who have anxiety or insomnia this herb may be too stimulating.  Speak with your doctor first if you are taking warfarin, MAOI antidepressants, or blood sugar medications. 
  • Holy basil plant (Tulsi): Use of holy basil can prevent increased corticosteroid levels that indicate elevated stress levels. It can be used as a “natural antidepressant” for situational depression such as coping with a traumatic event such as death of a loved one.  Tincture: 40-60 drops 3 times per day.  Tea: add 1 tsp. of dried leaf to 8 oz. of hot water. Let it steep for 5-10 minutes. For therapeutic benefits, drink the tea up to 3 times per day. 
  • Rhodiola root: This herb is known to enhance energy, improve alertness, reduce fatigue and improve depression. It can be a good herb to use also for ADHD and for someone who is recovering from a head injury.  It can support someone who has a depleted immune system due to chemotherapy, radiation or from excessive physical training.  It can be useful for someone suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome.  Tincture: 40-60 drops 3x per day.  Avoid Rhodiola if you have bipolar, or are paranoid.  From some it can cause insomnia. 

Adaptogens For Anxiety

Adaptogenic herbs, because of their effect on the nervous system, can relive stress and anxiety

  • Ashwagandha root: This is one of my personal favorite herbs. This is a calming adaptogen and is also useful for stimulating the thyroid gland. It is useful for anxiety, fatigue and stress induced insomnia.  Avoid this herb if you are sensitive to nightshade plants as this herb is in the nightshade family.  Do not use it if you have hyperthyroidism.  It can increase the effects of barbiturates. Tincture take 30 drops 3-4 times per day, as capsule take 400-500 mg. twice a day. 
  • Schisandra (fruit and seed): This herb is calming and can aid in stress induced asthma or stressed induced palpitations. . It can provide a feeling of alertness without the stimulating effects that you would get from caffeine.    It also supports the immune system. (People who suffer from acute and chronic stress can have a weakened immune system).  Tincture: 40-80 drops 3-4 times per day.  Capsules: 1-2 400-500 mg caps, 2-3 times per day. Do not take if using barbiturates. 

For Fatigue

 

  • American ginseng (root and less often leaf): This can be useful for those with mild to moderate adrenal fatigue. It can also be useful to reduce symptoms of jet lag. Tincture: 60-100 drops 3 times per day. Capsule: 2, 500 mg. caps 2 times per day.  Do not use if taking warfarin.
  • Ashwagandha: see information under anxiety
  • Asian ginseng: see information under depression
  • Eleuthero root and stem bark: This is a mild herb and thus good for the young and the old. It is unlikely that it will cause overstimulation and this is an herb that can be taken long term.  It strengthens the immune system and provides stamina.  You can use it when under a great deal of stress at work. It can help improve alertness and cognitive function when dealing with work related stress.  Tincture: 60-100 drops 3-4 times per day.  Do not use with cardiac medications
  • Shatavari root: this is a good herb to try for fatigue, chronic fatigue syndrome, and to support the immune system. It is also considered a nutritive tonic.  It is also a diuretic.  Tincture: 40-80 drops 3 times per day.  Avoid if you have diarrhea and bloating. 

For Immune support

Stress weakens our immune system.  Adaptogenic herbs can help strengthen the immune system and improve the immune response.

  • Eleuthero: see information under fatigue
  • Holy basil: see information under depression
  • Rhodiola: see information under depression
  • Shatavari: see information under fatigue
  • Schisandra: see information under anxiety

 

Bottom Line

Choose an herb that can address more than one issue you are having.  Start out with one herb only and start out low and slow. Seek guidance from your holistic health professional or doctor before adding in herbs to your regimen.  When adding in herbs, give it time.  Support the body with a whole foods diet too. 

Sources

Balch, P. ( 2012)   Prescription for Herbal Healing.  2nd Edition.  NY: Avery Publishing

Cech, R. (2016) Making Plant Medicine.  Oregon: Herbal Reads

Gaby, A.(2006) The Natural Pharmacy. Revised and updated 3rd edition.  NY: Three Rivers Press

Hoffman, D. Medical Herbalism. (2003) The science and practice of herbal medicine.  VT: Healing Arts   

   Press.

Mars, B. (2007) The Desktop Guide to Herbal Medicine.  CA: Basic Health Publications

Moore, M. (1996) Herbal Tinctures in Clinical Practice.  3rd Edition.   AZ: SW School of botanical Medicine

Skenderi, G. (2003) Herbal Vade Mecum. NJ: Herbacy Press

Winston, D. & Maimes, S.(2007) Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief.  VT: Healing

   Arts Press.

 

 

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition and Herbalist is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today! Want more information, like her fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

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Cleansing and Detoxing for the New Year

 

Cleansing or Detoxing for the New Year?

ginger-1714106_640

I don’t recommend detoxes not cleanses  to the general public.  On an individual basis, someone may need a targeted detox/cleanse for a health condition that they may have.  For instance, does someone have congested lymph nodes, did they go through chemotherapy or were they recently exposed to chemical compounds?  Detoxes tend to be very restrictive and thus difficult to maintain and when they go off the detox, they tend to go back to old/bad eating habits-nothing learned, nothing gained. 

I feel that people are wasting their money on detox packages that you see in every health store and on line especially now at the beginning of a new year.  They contain a bunch of herbs and mostly fiber.  Do they have the right number of herbs and the right part of the herb?  And what are they trying to detox and what organ are they detoxing?  Most people don’t know what they are really doing and it really should be done only with guidance.

What is the detox teaching you?  So, you drink shakes and take a bunch of pills for a month-then what?  Do you just go back to your old eating habits? 

A 2009 investigation found that not a single company behind 15 detox supplements could supply any form of evidence for their efficacy.  These brands could not event tell you what these products were “detoxing” from the body.  (http://archive.senseaboutscience.org/data/files/resources/48/Detox-Dossier-Embargoed-until-0001-5th-jan-2009.pdf)

Your Body and Detox

Your body has many detox pathways. In a healthy body these pathways are running smoothly. However, because of the environment we live in, the food we eat, the polluted air and water and mineral deficient soil, our pathways can become overburdened.  What’s the answer?  It’s not in a box.

If you want to detox your body daily, you need to change your diet and start eating fiber rich, nutrient rich foods. That includes adding in fresh, organic fruits, vegetables and herbs into the diet.  It does not mean drink smoothies all day long.  Feed your body well instead.  While some cleanse plans include whole organic fruits and vegetables, and can be supportive, ask yourself what are you trying to detox? What is your goal?  And more importantly, what is your plan after the cleanse is over?  And lastly, as you know yourself best, is it healthy for you to fast, skip protein, eat very low calorie, etc.. for the cleanse. 

Most people that want to do a detox are eating the standard American diet.  The worst thing they could do then is fast, or limit their food intake and types of foods. This can put them on a blood sugar rollercoaster (if they aren’t already on it from the standard American diet) and increase nutrient deficiencies. 

Bottom Line

Save your money and skip the detox kits and supplements and visit your local organic produce aisle instead. 

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition and Herbalist is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today! Want more information, like her fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

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Potato Diet. Should you try it for Weight Loss?

The All Potato Diet: Should you Try it for Weight Loss

By Karen Brennan, NC, MSW, BCHN®, Herbalist

potato-2

Its seems at the start of each new year, people resolve to lose weight and try all sorts of crazy diets to achieve this goal.  Someone recently just started this diet after hearing about someone being on the “all potato” diet for one year and losing a large amount of weight.  He asked me what I thought.  Here are my thoughts on the All Potato Diet. 

What is the Potato Diet?

The potato diet is a mono diet in which you eat only potatoes.  Most people will try it for a month and others have touted to lose weight by following the potato diet for up to a year. 

Should you Try it?

  I don’t recommend any diet that has you eat just one food. I also don’t recommend most cleanses, juice fasts and detox diets either. (hint: start with getting the hang of eating a healthy whole foods diet first)

 Here are Some Reasons why you Should Avoid the Potato Diet

potatoes-1

  • Difficult to maintain and sustain. This is a bland and boring diet. How long can you go eating only potatoes?  At some point, for most people, one is going to give in and eat other foods.  When this happens, the odds are that you won’t be making the healthiest food choices. 
  • Low in Protein. For men, this type of diet is too low protein. For many women, this diet is also too low in protein.  Eating 5 potatoes per day is only going to give you around 20 grams of protein.  The average sedentary male needs 60 grams or more per day and the average sedentary female needs around 45 grams per day or more. Trying to meet your protein needs via potatoes, well let’s just say that ends up being a lot of potatoes and a lot of calories.  So, while you may lose weight eating only potatoes, how much muscle mass are you going to lose as well?
  • Nutrient deficient: Eat only one type of food for any length of time and you are bound to have some vitamin and mineral deficiencies. To obtain the needed macro and micro nutrients necessary, you need to eat a balance of proteins, carbs and fats along with a plenty of vegetables that contain phytonutrients.  We need fat for healthy brain function so unless you are putting grass fed butter on that potato, you may lose weight but you may end up with mood issues, brain fog and forgetfulness.  Is it worth it?
  • Crash dieting: How many calories are you consuming on a potato diet? If your calories count is too low, your body will then go into starvation mode and to hold on to its fat mass your metabolic rate will slow down. That means weight loss will slow down and may eventually come to a halt. 
  • Not Sustainable: What happens when you go back to eating real food? Now you transition from a mono, low calorie diet and switch back to your old ways of eating:  Your metabolic rate has slowed down so now when you eat you will gain what was lost at a more rapid pace
  • Potatoes are a GMO crop: Unless you are only eating organic potatoes, not only is this diet nutrient deficient but now you are filling your body up with toxins. Glyphosate has been shown to disrupt the gut microbiome.  A healthy gut microbiome has been associated with maintaining a healthy weight while disrupted gut health has been associated with obesity. 
  • What was your diet/health like prior to the potato diet? The odds are if you are trying such a drastic crash diet, your diet prior to this was not good either.  Most overweight people are calorie sufficient but nutrient deficient.  Now you go on a very restrictive diet which only compounds the problem further.  Most people have other health issues in addition to the added weight, such as insomnia, fatigue, mood issues. Consuming a nutrient deficient diet such as this will not help these additional issues. 
  • What did the diet teach you? If you eat a potato diet and then go back to eating processed, sugary, starchy foods as the main component of your diet, what have you learned about eating healthy as a way of life? Nothing!  Instead get the education you need to change your habits to lose weight gradually on a diet that you can sustain. 

 

Benefits to Eating Potatoes

Potatoes are a great addition to your diet, they just shouldn’t be the only part of your diet.  Potatoes contain B6, potassium, copper, vitamin C, manganese, fiber, B3 and pantothenic acid.  They contain phytonutrients and have antioxidant activity.  They also contain blood pressure lowering compounds.  So, add them into your diet (just not in the fried form please) but keep it balanced!

What to do Instead to Lose Weight

salad

Instead get the help of someone who can evaluate your current eating patterns (food journal) and your health issues.  Gradual weight loss is best with a plan that leaves you feeling full, satisfied and one that is doable and sustainable for you. That is why most diet plans and diet books don’t work; because they aren’t individualized to meet not only your personal health needs but considers lifestyle factors as well. 

While we can live on a low carb diet but we cannot live on a diet that is void of protein and fat. Side effects will occur. Therefore, a balanced diet is best.  Start your day with protein and fats, and increase the number of carbs throughout the day so that your dinner contains most your carbs.  This can look like a green protein smoothie for breakfast, a large salad for lunch with added protein and homemade salad dressing, snacks of handful of nuts or nut butter with fruit, then dinner of a protein source such as wild caught salmon (good source of fats too) with a side of vegetables and sweet potatoes.

Sources

http://nymag.com/thecut/2016/08/mono-diet-potato-diet-penn-jillette.html

http://nymag.com/thecut/2016/05/weight-loss-metabolism-slows-down-hunger-increases.html

http://fortune.com/2016/01/14/genetically-modified-potatoes/

 http://drpompa.com/additional-resources/health-tips/the-dangers-of-glyphosate-an-interview-with-dr-stephanie-seneff

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-gut-bacteria-help-make-us-fat-and-thin/

https://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=48

http://www.howmuchprotein.com/foods/potato/

http://time.com/4374959/protein-health-benefits-nutrition/

 

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition® and herbalist, is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today! Want more information, then like her fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

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Saffron for Depression and Anxiety

Saffron for Moderate to Severe Depression (and anxiety too)

saffron-pic-2

When thinking of herbs, I think most people think of St. John’s wort for depression. However, there is another herb that is starting to get attention and shows great promise. 

While most of my research was on saffron for depression, saffron has been shown to be helpful for anxiety as well.

What is Saffron

saffron-pic-1

This is considered the most labor intensive herb to harvest and thus the reason for the high price for purchase.  Because it is so expensive, beware of cheaper substitutes that may be passed off as the real thing.  In an analysis of 151 samples of saffron, results showed that up to 90% contain one or more foreign substances. 

The reason that it is so expensive is because it takes 150,000 flowers to produce 2.2 pounds of the yellow staining saffron spice which comes from the pistil, the orange-red stigma and styles in the center of the bloom.  The pistils need to be removed and dried by hand and then are sold whole or in a powder that dissolves and turns bright yellow in water. 

It is known in traditional Chinese medicine as fan hong hua, and prescribed for depression.  The saffron tea is said to lift the spirits and calm the nerves. 

 The safranal, which is an essential oil in the plant, is said to me the main constituent that is effective for depression. 

What the Research Shows

The recent interest in saffron for depression is due to some clinical research done in 2005 and 2006.  The Hamilton Depression score was used to determine the subject’s level of depression.  Double blind randomized trials were carried out.  2% safranal saffron extract was orally given in tablet form.  This was in doses of 30 mg./divided, given 2 times daily.  The first trial was small and compared the dose of saffron versus the placebo in 40 subjects.  The effects were noticed within the first week and increased during the 6-week trial.  The average Hamilton Depression score at the start was 23 and at the end it was 10.  The placebo group averaged an improvement down to 18 on the Hamilton Depression score. 

Saffron was then compared to imipramine (common name Tofranil) and fluoxetine.  (Fluoxetine is the active ingredient in Prozac).  Two randomized double blind trials were carried out over a period of 6 weeks with 30 subjects in the imipramine trial and 40 in the fluoxetine trial.  In the imipramine study the subjects were given 100 mg. doses and in the other trial they were given 20 mg. daily.  A significant improvement was noted again almost immediately after treatment with the saffron.  There were no adverse side effects from those taking the saffron but in the subjects taking the drugs they noted sweating and dry mouth as common side effects. 

Two more recent studies looking at the hydro-alcoholic extract of the saffron petals on those with mild depression.  The first study was published in 2006.  It was a double- blind placebo controlled trial conducted on 40 people over a 6 -week period.  The petal extract was given in 30 mg. doses per day.  Improvement in the saffron group was noted in the first week while no significant improvement was noted in the placebo group.  During the 6 -week trial period the saffron petal extract proved to be significantly more effective than a placebo. 

Another study using the petal extract was done in 2007.  This study compared the petal extract once again to fluoxetine. The trial was conducted over an 8- week period with 40 people in the study who had Hamilton Depression scores that averaged at 22.  30 mg. of the petal extract and 20 mg. of the fluoxetine were administered in tablet form twice daily. 

Again, the effects of the saffron were noted right away, within the first week.  Scores dropped down to 10 in both groups.  (anti-depressants usually take 6 weeks to take effect)

My Thoughts on Saffron Use for Depression/Anxiety

couple of people

 

Saffron appears to be better than a placebo and just as effective as fluoxetine but may act quicker and without any side effects.  Saffron petal may be just as effective as the stigmas

These studies are not large but are promising.   Saffron has been used and shown to be effective in those with moderate to severe depression and is fast acting.    Saffron is also good for those with anxiety, stress and OCD.  Often one or more of these other conditions coincide with depression.

 

Further research is needed with more test subjects than just 40 in a trial. However, effects were noted within the first week and improvements continued through the trials and without side effects. 

I would like to know where the saffron was sourced from, which product brand they used since it can be challenging to find a reputable brand.  I would also like to see more studies using the saffron petal as perhaps this can be just as effective as the stigma thus less costly. 

 

Where to get Saffron

For me personally, I am still trying to locate a reputable source for the pistils and petals to make a tincture but until then I have been using the Life Extension capsule saffron. 

  • Saffr’ Activ ® is an extract derived from the red stigma of the saffron. (www.saffractiv.com)  (cultivated in Iran, N. Africa and Greece) It comes in liquid and tablets.  It is NOT available in the US.  If you are outside the US and have used this brand or will try this brand, I would love to hear your results with the product. 
  • Other products are based on roughly 88.5 mg. tablets of saffron extract standardized to a minimum of .3% safranal (Vitacost, Biotrust, Swanson, Pure Formulas, Life Extension).  These products are touted on weight loss and decreased snacking. 
  • Consumerlabs.com is a good site to use to check if a product has the ingredients is says it has on the label. For herbs, many generic products seem to not have what it says on the label. When in doubt, purchase a quality brand and not a big box store brand when it comes to herbs. (to look up supplement ingredients on consumer labs there is a yearly small fee)
  • Know what parts of the herb are used: Saffron pistils and petals have shown to help depression in studies.  When I researched products, some say they contain leaf and stem.  This would be a waste of your money 

Should you Try it?

First make sure you are using a product from a reputable source.  When in doubt, call and ask questions.  If they can’t or don’t respond to your questions, then it may be best to avoid that product.  Always speak with your health care person prior to herb use as herbs can interact with some medications. (Although in my research it appears that saffron is safe to use with medications) Since saffron may increase serotonin, discuss its usage first with your doctor if you are currently taking an SSRI.  (I could not find any warnings in regards to this, but best to play it safe).  Based on what some research states, you may want to limit your intake to a short time of 26 weeks or less. Because these products are at a higher dose than what depression studies have used, you may want to try this instead-the Life Extension product is in a capsule.  Open it up and take only one half in the morning and the other half at night, or start with even a lower milligram amount and take only 1/2 a capsule per day. 

Beware of Imitation Saffron Products

saffron-pic-3

While you may be purchasing your saffron in capsule form, here are some things you can look for if using whole pistils.

o   There are several ways to tell if you have the real thing versus a fake product

  • the pistil should have a trumpet shape at the end
  • if the pistil is perfectly straight then it is a fake
  • Smell it-it should have a woody aroma. A fake often has sandal wood added to it.
  • Add it to water-the saffron will turn the water a golden sunny yellow color. The fake will turn it a more reddish color. The coloring is a gradual process for the real saffron and the coloring effect is immediate in the fake product. 
  • The fake threads will dissolve as you rub it between your fingers, the real saffron will not.
  • The Kashmir saffron is the best quality. The Iranian saffron is shorter, a bit more brittle but still good to use. 
  • Fake saffron is often made with corn silk links and then dyed.
  • Some powdered products are saffron mixed with more affordable herbs such as marigold and safflower.

When to Use Caution

  • long term use may cause kidney damage and central nervous system damage (B. Mars, A.H.G in The Desktop Guide to Herbal Medicine and Hosseinzadeh, et. al.,)
  • large doses may cause coughs or headache (B. Mars, A.H.G in The Desktop Guide to Herbal Medicine)
  • Avoid during pregnancy and breastfeeding (B. Mars, A.H.G in The Desktop Guide to Herbal Medicine)
  • Some do say that more than the 30 mg. per day and for long periods could be toxic and that 1200 mg. or more per day may cause nausea and vomiting. (long periods were defined as anywhere from 26 weeks to 6 months weeks)  (examine.com; naturaldatabase.therapeuticresearch.com-this is a paid site)
  • Others say that 1.5 grams per day and up to 5 grams per day is safe (livestrong.com)
  • The only side effect that was noted in the Saffron studies was less snacking! This could be due to the elevated serotonin action in the body.

Overall it appears that saffron is safe to take for 8 to 26 weeks but after that it may do more harm than good.  Just because it is an herb, not a medication, does not mean it is safe.   Always use caution and seek the help of a professional when using herbs. 

My Experience with Saffron

Before having my clients try a product I am not familiar with, I often like to use myself (or family) as guinea pigs.  I purchased one bottle of the Life Extension product.  I took one capsule two times per day until the bottle was finished.  I missed several days of the second dose and two days did not take any over the course of supplementation. 

I did notice an overall improved mood and a sense of calmness.  Please note that I do not have moderate or severe depression but have had some stressful events recently that I can say have been impacting my mood.  The saffron was supportive.  I used to suffer from anxiety as a child and teen and what helped was changing my diet and balancing my blood sugar and hormones. However, I must admit I am still not the most mellow person in the world!  What was interesting recently is that when my husband and I were talking about an upsetting event he said “I am sick to my stomach over this.  Doesn’t it bother you?  How can you be so calm?”  My husband is usually not one for feeling overly anxious.  Maybe I need to give him some saffron!

In addition to that, saffron is touted as a product to curb cravings.  I did notice less of an appetite and did snack less mid-day and in the evening. 

I contacted Life Extension to ask about their product.  While their product bottle does say for positive mood enhancement, it also says it supports healthy eating habits.  The company responded to my questions right away.  The reason for the higher milligram dose is because they are basing it off a study using saffron to curb snacking, not studies looking at its use for depression which used a different dose.  You can find the abstract to that study here. Their product uses Satiereal® which is derived from the stigmas of the saffron flower.  Satiereal is a registered trademark product of INOREAL. Life Extension also provided to me a great deal of information of their standards in regards to quality and testing of their products.  So, I trust their product and their other products as well.  My next step is to contact INOREAL! 

I still have questions about the high dose of the Life Extension product and the possible contraindications if used for long periods of time.  I believe this product can be helpful to use for short periods of time while you are focusing on other aspects to address your anxiety and depression. 

Lastly, if you are anxious or depressed and have a reduced appetite, a product with a milligram dose higher than 15-30 mg. may not be for you.  You don’t need to take a saffron product that will reduce your appetite even more.  However, could the product reduce your anxiety and depression to the point that you would regain your appetite?  If you try products with the higher milligram dose I would love to hear your results!

In the end, I feel that if you are struggling with a mental health issue, it is best to seek the support of a professional who can assist you to see if saffron (and if so, which saffron product) is right for you. 

Bottom line

Keep in mind, an herb is not a magic pill.  Herbs rather support the body and allow your body to do what it needs to do.  My philosophy is to combine herbs with a diet that is right for your body. If you continue to consume a diet filled with refined, sugary, starchy, nutrient deficient foods, then you need to work on that. All the herbs (or supplements for that matter) in the world will not help you if you continue to put the wrong foods for you into your body. 

 

 

Sources:

Akhondzadeh, S. et. al., Comparison of Crocus sativas L. in the treatment of mild to moderate depression: a

   double-blind, randomized and placebo controlled trial.  Phytotherapy research, 19(2005)148-151

Akhondzadeh, S. et. al. Comparison of Crocus sativas L. and imipramine in the treatment of mild to moderate

   depression: a pilot double-blind randomized pilot trial, BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 4 (2004)

   12-16.

Balch, P. Prescription for Herbal Healing.  2nd Edition NY: Avery

Basti, A.A. et. al. Comparison of petal of Crocus Sativus L. and fluoxetine in the treatment of depressed out-

   patients: a pilot double-blind randomized trial. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry,

   31 (2007) 439-42.

Bauman, E. & Friedlander, J. (2013) Therapeutic Nutrition. Pengrove CA: Bauman College

Boon, H. & Smith, M. (2009) 55 Most Common Medicinal Herbs. Second edition. Canada: Robert Rose Inc.

Gladstar, R. (2012) Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs.  A beginners Guide.  MA: Storey

   Publishing. 

Gleen, L. (2/28/06) Saffron: Crocus sativas. cms.herbalgram.org

Gregor, M. (10/19/12) Saffron vs. Prozac. http://nutritionfacts.org/video/saffron-vs-prozac/

Gregor, M. (10/18/12) Wake up and smell the Saffron. 

   http://nutritionfacts.org/video/wake-up-and-smell-the-saffron/

Hoffman, D. (2003) Medical Herbalism.  The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine.  VT:

   Healing Arts Press. 

Hosseinzadeh, et. al. Acute and Sub acute Toxicity of Safranal, a Constituent of Saffron in mice and rats.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3813202/

Mars, B.(2007) The Desktop Guide to Herbal Medicine.  CA: Basic Health Publications, Inc.

Moshiri, E. et. al. Crocus sativas L. (petal) in the treatment of mild to moderate depression: a double-blind,

   randomized and placebo controlled trial.  Phytomedicine, 13 (2006) 607-11. 

Noorbala, A.A. et. al. Hydro-alcoholic extract of Crocus sativas L versus fluoexetine in the treatment of mild to

   moderate depression: a double-blind, randomized pilot trial. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 97 (2005) 281-84.

Phillips, B. (2006) The Book of Herbs. Utah: Hobble Creek Press

Schar, J. (2/12)A taste of good cheer: Saffron for treatment of Cancer related depression. www.naturopath.com/

   saffron.html

Uddin, R. (9/23/15) Saffron Poisoning. http://www.livestrong.com/article/255826-the-benefits-of-saffron-root

___(nd) Saffron.  https://examine.com/supplements/saffron/ 

 

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition and Herbalist is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today! Want more information, like her fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Herbalist

Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition®

Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC

www.trufoodsnutrition.com

303-522-0381

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Detox Salad

Detox Salad

detox-salad-pic

 

While I am not a huge fan of detox diets, this is a salad that can be added into your meals and contains vegetables and herbs that aid in detoxing the body.  This salad can be used as a side dish and or you can add some protein to it, maybe some avocado slices, etc. and take it to work for lunch the next day. 

Ingredients

  • 1 small head broccoli
  • ½ head cauliflower
  • 3 carrots chopped
  • ½ a bunch parsley
  • ½ a bunch cilantro
  • 1/8 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1/8 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 2 T. nutritional yeast
  • Ratio: 3 T. EVOO and 1 T. lemon juice
  • s/p to taste

Directions

  1. Place the broccoli florets into food processor and process into small pieces. Remove and place in large bowl
  2. Next add in the cauliflower and process until very small pieces and then add to bowl with broccoli.
  3. Next add in the carrots the food processor and then add to the bowl with broccoli and cauliflower
  4. Chop up the parsley and cilantro and add to the bowl. Add in the yeast
  5. In a separate bowl, blend the EVOO and lemon juice. Add s/p to taste. Pour over broccoli blend and mix in.  Depending on how much broccoli blend you have and your taste preference, you may need to increase the amount of the dressing. 
  6. Note: you can adjust this recipe to your taste. Next time try basil and garlic or sliced almonds. 

Cilantro: this herb is great for cleansing.  It contains compounds called flavonoids. These antioxidants bind to heavy metals and aid their removal from the body via urine. These compounds can also help fight inflammation caused by toxic overload.

Cauliflower and broccoli: these foods contain organosulfur compounds, essentially a fancy way of saying they contain sulfur.  Sulfur rich foods can reduce inflammation, and bind to and aid in the excretion of heavy metals. They also can protect the liver from toxins.  I bet you can’t say that about your fast food burger!

 

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition, is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit   www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today! Want more information, then like her fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

Share this:Share on YummlyShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on TumblrShare on VKShare on RedditEmail this to someonePrint this page