Modern Wheat and its impact on your health Part II. How much wheat can you safely eat?

bread wheat

Should I give up grains, breads and pasta and all gluten containing products?

My professional recommendation is that the majority of people (70-80%) would benefit from giving up all grains even the sprouted versions even if you do not have celiac or gluten sensitivity. Since it contributes to obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and cancer, I think those are reasons enough. 

You will not miss out on any nutrients in wheat that you cannot get from other foods. You do not need breads and pastas are part of a wholesome healthy diet. If you are an athlete and are reading this thinking “I need my carbs for energy”, well, yes you do need more carbohydrates than the person who sits behind a desk all day but you can get plenty of carbs from fruit, vegetables, leafy greens, starchy vegetables, raw foods crackers and raw cereals such as from “Mary’s Gone Crackers” or” Two Moms in the Raw”.  You can eat quinoa, basmati white rice, beans and legumes.  Trust me, you will plenty of carbs!  You can eat bean pasta or quinoa pasta if you still need your pasta fix.  There are many options out there. 

What to do, what to expect, what to eat!

It is difficult to do and so for most people doing an 80/20 diet which means most of your diet is clean and whole foods and then 20% are the refined foods such as pizza and bread. So you do not have to go entirely off the wheat/gluten containing foods to benefit from it, but you do have to greatly reduce it.

For those having any kind of health issue however, I do advise taking all processed, refined grain products out of your diet for at least 21 days and note changes you may see.  If symptoms reappear when gluten is added back in then your best bet is to avoid gluten and wheat. 

Read labels. You are going to be surprised all the places gluten and wheat is that you did not realize!  It is in your canned soups, licorice, soy sauce, frozen meals and more.

If you have a difficult time giving up some favorite foods you can make some of your own using coconut flour, almond flour, cassava flour (plant), tiger nut flour (from root vegetable). It does take some getting used to, using alternative products but you will get there. 

The first couple of days you may experience headaches, fatigue , cravings and changes in bowels, but stick with it because once you get passed that you should feel like your mind is clearer, have more energy, improved bowel movements, clearer skin, less joint pain, fewer cravings and more.

The gluten/wheat products you are eating may be contributing to:





Brain fog



Sinus issues

Joint pain



Autoimmune conditions

Skin conditions

And more!


Swap out white and whole wheat pasta for bean pasta or quinoa pasta; eat your burger in a lettuce wrap (majority of eateries offer this now), make sandwiches in lettuce wraps or go online and order paleo wraps such as made from coconut or make your own. Make baked goods, cookies, bars, quick breads using coconut flour and almond flour.  You will not notice the difference.  Swap out soy sauce for coconut aminos, use non GMO cornstarch or arrow root to thicken sauces and other dishes instead of flour, and coat your meats with almond flour, tigernut or cassava flour.  Eat flax crackers instead of wheat crackers.  Once you get the hang of it, it will become habit. Invest in hiring a nutrition consultant who can guide you to make it easier and painless for you.  


Your body will thank you once you have it removed! I would love to hear about your experience of removing gluten and wheat products from your diet. If you have a story, please share!


Bauman, E. & Friedlander, J. (2014) Foundations in Nutrition. CA: Bauman College

Gunnars, K. (2/14) Why modern wheat is worse than older wheat. Retrieved from

Mercola, J. (1/16/10) The Critical Role of Wheat in Human Disease. Retrieved from

 Karen Brennan, MSW, is a Nutrition Consultant and is Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition (candidate).  As such, she does not treat, cure or diagnose.  The information provided is for educational purposes only. Seek out your healthcare professional when making any changes to your diet and supplement regimen.

 Karen is available for group presentations in the Colorado Front Range area for a variety of health topics; She offers a variety of other services.  Visit her website to learn more.


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Great Easter Treat Recipe: Almond Truffles (gluten, soy and dairy free)


almond truffle


Almond Butter Truffles

This makes a good Easter dessert recipe. You can make them much larger, in the shape of eggs, and drizzle with white chocolate.  I sprinkled some with coconut. Other options would include nuts, seeds, grated chocolate, and cacao powder.

To make this soy and dairy free, use Enjoy life dark chocolate baking chips. 


  • ¾ c. almond butter
  • ½ c. coconut flour
  • ¼ c. coconut palm sugar
  • ½ c. dark chocolate broken into chunks (I used one bar of dark chocolate and the excess I drizzled over the truffles)
  • 1 t. coconut oil


  1. Mix the almond butter, flour and sugar until well blended. (I did have to use my hands to get all the ingredients blended)
  2. roll into balls and freeze for 20 minutes
  3. melt the chocolate with the coconut oil
  4. dip the almond balls into chocolate and place on parchment or wax paper/ sprinkle on desired toppings
  5. Keep in freezer for at least 30 minutes. Store in fridge until ready to eat!


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Lemon Bread with glaze. Gluten free, made with coconut flour.

lemon bread sliced with glaze

Lemon bread with lemon glaze

(Made with coconut flour)


Makes one loaf

This is very moist bread. It is sweet enough on its own but the glaze is very good.  Use coconut flour only-at first it will seem too liquidly but coconut flour is very absorbable and the batter will thicken very quickly. 



For the loaf


  • 6 pasture raised eggs
  • ¼ c. coconut oil or ghee melted
  • zest from 2 lemons
  • Juice from 2 lemons plus enough milk of choice to make one cup-juice the 2 lemons, and pour the juice in a cup measuring cup and add in enough milk until you reach one cup. Can also use lemon juice in bottle not from concentrate and use purchased lemon zest to save time.
  • 1/3 c. local honey
  • 2/3 c. coconut flour-for this recipe do not substitute a different flour-will not come out right
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • dash sea salt

Directions for the loaf:

  1. preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well
  3. Pour into a greased (grease with coconut oil) loaf pan and bake for 35-45 minutes. Should be golden on top and cooked through. If the top gets too brown towards the end of cooking time, then put some parchment over the top
  4. let cool

Lemon glaze

(Glaze is optional but it’s really good!)


  • 2 T. melted ghee or coconut oil (or grass fed butter)
  • 2 T. local honey
  • 2 T. milk of choice
  • zest and juice from one lemon
  • ½ t. pure vanilla extract

Directions for the glaze

  1. While the loaf is cooking, mix all the glaze ingredients together in a small pot over low heat until it starts to simmer.
  2. remove from heat and let cool
  3. ones cooled, put in fridge to firm up
  4. once loaf is cooled and glaze is firmer, pour the glaze over the top of the loaf
  5. put in fridge for 30 minutes until the glaze and loaf firms up a bit

Note: Milk of choice I like: A2 dairy milk (this is not organic as far as I can tell but it is a good milk option for those who have a casein sensitivity) (but for the record, I do not normally recommend non organic or non- raw milk products); natural value org. coconut milk (can), or Aroy-d coconut milk (carton).  Coconut milk brands order on amazon; A2 milk you can find at some natural grocery stores.  Some coconut milks and nut milks have many added ingredients that I would not recommend, so while they may seem like a healthier alternative, this may not be the case.  It is quite simple to make your own cashew or almond milk too! 

Like this recipe and want more? Sign up at for more healthy receipes and nutrition information that you can use!  Karen Brennan, MSW, NC, board certified in holistic nutrition (candidate) is the owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services. She works with clients to help them get to the root causes of their health issues. 




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ADHD: Could low vitamin D be causing your symptoms?

IMG_1586Vitamin D and ADHD

Could low vitamin D be causing ADD/ADHD symptoms in your child?


Why is it that some children seem to do better in the summer months? Is it because they now have the freedom outside of the classroom and time to play outside in the sunshine and burn off some energy? Or is it because they are actually getting sunshine, hence their daily dose of vitamin D? 

More and more children are spending more time indoors or lathered with sunscreen and are not exposed to natural vitamin D. Where you live also plays a factor.  Here in Colorado many think they get their daily dose because we are at higher altitude.  But this is not what has an impact but rather how close you are to the equator.  Colorado is at a disadvantage in that regards.  You also need your skin exposed to the sun so the only areas that will soak it up are the areas that are not covered up.  The more skin exposed, the greater the benefits you will receive. 

ADD/ADHD is much less common in sunny parts of the world with about a 40% variance. It could be other variables related to sunshine however.  A study of 74 children-half with ADD and half without the disorder found that the children with ADD had significantly lower levels of vitamin D than the children who did not have the disorder. 

In the UK, their health department advises that children under 5 take a daily vitamin D supplement. But they recommend such a small dose (280 IU from 6mo. to five years) and one third of their health practitioners were not even aware of this recommendation thus the information is not getting to the parents.  But this dosage is still too low to have an impact as you see below under the healthy vitamin D levels heading.

It is something to think about. And if you read my past blog on cholesterol you now know that low cholesterol can contribute to low vitamin D. So it ends up being this vicious spiral downwards because you need healthy cholesterol levels in order to make vitamin D from the sun.  In addition to that, if you slather on sun screen on your child before she heads out the door, it not only prevents her from getting burned but prevents vitamin D absorption from the sun.

Not only does it have an impact on ADD symptoms but vitamin D is also needed for proper immune function. So if you child comes down with every cold going around or the flu yearly, you may want to get her D levels checked. 

What is a healthy vitamin D level on a blood test?

Blood work lab ranges state that results should be over 30 ng/ml. However this is still considered too low from a holistic perspective.  Children and adults want their vitamin D levels between 50-70 ng/ml and 80-100 ng/ml if you have a major health issue such as cancer.  But for the children with ADD/ADHD our goal is to get it in the 50-80 ng/ml range.  I have seen lab results work with very low D levels such as below 30 and the doctor still did not comment to the parent on this lab result. 

The national Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that 70% of the children between the ages of 6 and 12 are deficient in Vitamin D. What is interesting is that if you have results below 30 ng/ml your doctor may only focus on getting the number up to 30 or around that number.  But if your child is having ADD symptoms, low immune function, asthma issues and more, I say get the number between 50-70 ng/ml. 

What is the best dose to give my child?

If you read many of the medical websites the amount that is recommend is based on blood levels of 30 ng/ml, which is still too low for someone with ADD/ADHD. website has a handy little chart to show you (once you know your current D levels) how much you need to raise it to optimal levels with the recommendation of testing again in 3 to 6 months. If you want to retest on your own you can do so through many lab sites for the general public and the grassroots health website also offers testing. This chart however is for those over 18 years of age but still a very good guide to use.

Dr. John Cannell, MD, recommends 50 IU of a D supplement per pound for children. For example, if your child weighs 50 pounds, you can dose 2,500 IU’s daily to get levels back to a health range.

Besides the sun what are the best vitamin D sources?

The beauty of having low vitamin D is that it is really quite simple to fix. You can add in supplementation along with food sources.    Again, get levels above 50 ng/ml but not so high as to reach and exceed 100 ng/ml for general health.

While it may be an easy fix- taking a vitamin D supplement but all nutrients work together not in isolation. This is why food is always the best first choice over supplements since all the nutrients in food work together synergistically.  When taking vitamin D you also want to include in the diet vitamin K2, magnesium, and calcium.  Mega dosing without adding in quality whole foods that contain these other nutrients is not the answer either. 


Food sources include

Vitamin D: oily fish, egg yolks, grass fed butter, best vitamin D sources are: clover sprouts, sesame seaweed, blue-green algae, sprouted pinto beans, olives

K2: egg yolks, cheese, butter, organ meats,

Magnesium: pumpkin seeds, leafy greens, black beans, sesame seeds, almonds, cashews, flax seeds, quinoa, avocado

Calcium: sardines, yogurt, tofu, grass fed-cow’s milk, spinach, almonds, figs


What type of D3 should I purchase?

Always purchase it as D3 which is the natural form. D2 is synthetic and not as easily absorbed. Vitamin D3 is an affordable supplement.  Take it with a meal that contains fat.  Since it is fat soluble it can be taken even once per week.  For kids you can buy it in liquid form and usually only need a drop or two on their tongue depending on their size. 

 What I find interesting is that doctors will actually write prescriptions for vitamin D supplementation (usually in the form of D2).  While I think that it is good that they realize the deficiency, as said, D2 is not as easily absorbed. In addition to this, many people do not follow up to see where there levels are now at after they finished the bottle the doctor prescribed.  So what happens?  They don’t know their current D levels, they stopped taking D supplementation and in addition to that they may never have taken the right kind in the first place.  Doctors know medicine and I think they should stick to that and not prescribe supplements but rather refer someone to a nutrition professional.  After all, like said above, D3 is good, but you all need cofactors and diet is essential as well as sunshine. 

Like this information? Knowledge is power-use it, pass it on!

Karen Brennan, MSW, NC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services is a nutrition consultant and as such does not treat, cure or diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only. If you would like the services of Tru foods or want more information on health issues from a holistic perspective, then visit her website at



Cannell, J. (2016) Is vitamin D deficiency associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder?

   Retrieved from

Clement, B. (2010) Supplements Exposed. The truth they don’t want you to know about

   vitamins, minerals and their effects on your health.  NJ: New Page Books

Mercola, J. ( 11/10/14) Number of Children with vitamin D deficiency soars.  retrieved from

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Low cholesterol may be causing your depression and anxiety

Your blood work came back normal but you still feel like crap?

Why low cholesterol is not as healthy as you were led to believe.


You go to see the doctor because you have been feeling depressed, or have anxiety, aggression, low sex drive, memory issues, fatigue or you basically just don’t feel like yourself.

It can be good news to hear that your blood work is normal but yet a sinking feeling because you still don’t know why you are feeling the way you are.

As a nutrition consultant I cannot diagnose or treat based on your blood work however blood work can provide me with a great deal of information that a doctor may not see because he is not trained in nutrition just like I am not trained in medicine, surgery or drugs.

Today I am only going to address one marker on your blood work that may be affecting your mood, physical and mental health. And this one may surprise you!

Cholesterol: Why low cholesterol is not as good for your health as your think

Note: in this blog I am only addressing total cholesterol.

 Many people have low cholesterol either through diet or via medication.  This may seem like a great thing-your doctor tells you this is great. You eat low fat food products, limit the amount of meats, butter and eggs you consume and think you are doing all the right things however if this is the case why don’t you feel well? 

Yes, I said low cholesterol not elevated-I know you strive to get your numbers low but I am going to provide you with some information as to why you don’t want your numbers too low for overall health and wellbeing.

What do I mean by low? Anything below 160 mg/dl is considered too low based on research and studies.  I however think that even this can be too low for some and some may benefit from being in the 180-200 range. (Some studies show that cholesterol levels above 200 mg/dl are beneficial for some age groups)  But studies link cholesterol below 160 mg/dl with depression, aggression, premature aging, anxiety and low sex drive.

How can low cholesterol have this effect on your body?

Before I go on to tell you why you DON’T want low cholesterol I want to also recommend a book that can give you more information on cholesterol, cholesterol medications and much more. It is “The Great Cholesterol Myth” by J. Bowden and F. Sinatra.  This book however will focus more on the issue of heart disease which is not being addressed in this article. 

Here’s the thing-you need cholesterol for healthy brain function so stop trying to get it down so low Cholesterol is needed to make brain cells! Yes, you need cholesterol; it is not your enemy.

For instance, you need cholesterol to make your vitamin D. This is extremely important.   Vitamin D is actually a hormone, not a vitamin and it is made from cholesterol in the body.  So having low cholesterol may contribute to low D status.  Low D is also linked to depression so if you are also on a statin, this can contribute to low D status and thus contribute to feelings of depression.  Vitamin D3 supplementation is cheap-just be sure to take it with a meal that contains fat in order to get the greatest absorption rate. 

Cholesterol is not just found in your bloodstream. Cholesterol is present in every cell in your body where it helps to produce cell membranes, hormones, vitamin D and bile acids to help you digest your fats. It will improve the absorption of vitamins A, D, K and E.  It strengthens your cell walls.  It is vital for immune function. It is also important for neurological function, which is why low cholesterol is linked to memory loss. 

Think about this: if your cholesterol is too low you will have difficulty making your hormones. Low hormone levels can be associated with numerous physical and mental health issues.   Cholesterol is the building block for steroid hormones.  I think this is so important!  You cannot make estrogen, testosterone, cortisone and other vital hormones without cholesterol!

Your liver also needs to be functioning well in order for optimal cholesterol production. So as you can see, each health issue should not be treated as a separate entity but instead look at the body as everything is connected.

Again, having too low of levels of cholesterol in your body can increase your risk of suicide, depression, aggression, cancer and even Parkinson’s disease. Yes, it can do all that!  Cholesterol is there to help you not kill you! 

It is not the cholesterol per say that can be harmful for your body but is only detrimental when it is oxidized and contributes to inflammation. So for this reason, eat cholesterol rich foods such as organic grass fed meats and poultry, shellfish, fish, raw dairy, grass fed butter and pasture raised eggs and instead avoid the foods that will contribute to inflammation such as oxidized oils and highly processed high simple carb and high sugar foods.  This means avoid breads, donuts, pastries, cookies and so forth.  Cook with healthy fats such as coconut oil and tea seed oil and avoid vegetable, corn and safflower oils which will contribute to inflammation.

Enjoy foods in their natural state and reduce the amount of sugar in your diet instead of fearing cholesterol.

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Seasonal Allergies:

Find out what to do “off-season” and what to do right now for allergy symptom relief-the natural way!

person sneezing

It is that time of year when eyes start to itch; you have a runny nose or congestion, an itchy throat and are constantly sneezing. Do you rely on OTC anti-histamine products or just suffer through it? 

There are natural ways to relive your seasonal allergies. Read on for allergy relief!

Everyone is different so it may take a few tries before you find the right product that works for your body. After allergy season (and even during and before) it is best to start working on supporting your gut health and immune health so that you can reduce or eliminate your allergies come next season. 

Why you should avoid OTC allergy medication

A new study found that medications such as anticholinergics (of which Benadryl is classified) found an increase in brain atrophy, dysfunction, and cognitive decline in users, especially older adults. Don’t think that just because a medication is OTC that it is safe. 

An allergy medication that has been linked to increased suicide risk is Singular. This medication is also used to treat asthma attacks.  While this drug is by prescription only, many may take Sudafed as an OTC alternate for relief.  Sudafed has also been related to suicidal ideation in some.  If you do choose medication, please do your homework first or talk to a professional first about whether these meds are the safest option for you. 

Why has there been an increase in seasonal allergies?

  • Cleanliness, our lack of exposure to environmental microbes-do kids play in the dirt anymore? Look at all the anti-bacterial soap we buy and use. While having good hygiene is a plus, too much of a good thing can disrupt the normal immune development and will increase your risk for allergies.
  • Antibiotics
  • Birth by C-section
  • Not having pets in the home
  • formula feeding
  • Pollen counts continue to rise-blame it on air pollution. Many types of pollen such as ragweed are toxic. They contain enzymes that damage the lining of your nose and lungs when you breathe them in. This sets the stage for rising allergies.

All this sets the body up for lack of diversity in our microbes and contributes to allergies. When on antibiotics, especially repeated usage, this will disrupt the gut microbiome.  A birth by C-section means the baby did not get the healthy bacteria from its mother.  Studies show that those who have pets in the home or those who grow up on farms tend to have fewer incidences of allergies. Studies also show that if you have access to and drink raw milk your chance of seasonal allergies is also reduced. 

When is the best time to address allergy symptom relief?

Actually, it’s not when your symptoms appear every season, rather you should be addressing them by supporting your immune system year round.

As always, food first! If you take supplements and herbs but still eat like crap then you are wasting your efforts and money! 

What to add in year round to support your body

  • Address delayed food allergies/sensitivities:  Seasonal allergies may be related to delayed food allergies (see my blog post April 2016) or food sensitivities. Get tested or do food elimination diet.
  • Manage stress: stress can impact your immune system and your adrenal glands. Support the body with whole foods, mineral salts and adaptogens if adrenal fatigue is an issue for you. (for more on adrenal fatigue read Adrenal Fatigue by Dr. Wilson or go online and take the adrenal fatigue quiz)
  • Reduce/eliminate sugar: sugar lowers WBC count and reduces immune function. Opt for raw, local honey in small doses instead. (see note below on bee products and seasonal allergies)
  • Address gut health with Probiotics and Prebiotics: probiotics will help to populate the good bacteria in your gut. The prebiotics are essentially food for your good bacteria to help them thrive. Choose supplement form or add in raw garlic and onions, raw asparagus, kombucha, kefir, raw fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut, raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar and fermented soy
  • Vitamin C: while we get vitamin C from our whole foods such as fruits and vegetables the amount that we get from these foods has been greatly diminished over the past 80 years or so. Take vitamin C with bioflavonoids at 500-1,000 mg. daily. Children can take ¼-1/8 this amount depending on size.
  • Vitamin D: in studies with children with seasonal allergies, low vitamin D status was associated with higher risk of allergies, especially to birch, ragweed and oak. It is best to know your vitamin D levels before supplementing. Safe dose is 2,000 IU daily of D3. Avoid D2 as it is synthetic. If you choose products fortified with vitamin D, know that this too is vitamin D2, the synthetic form which is difficult for the body to absorb.
  • NAC: this stands for N-Acetyl-Cysteine. This is the precursor to glutathione, our master antioxidant which also helps to balance the immune system. Take NAC at 50-100 mg. 3 times daily.
  • Curcumin: this is a compound found in turmeric. This enhances the immune system and can be taken year round. It also reduces inflammation and thus may also be good for symptom relief. (I like a brand called Curamed by and it can also be found in many natural health stores.)

Symptom Relief

You do not need to try all of these-pick a few and see what works for you. Always check with your doctor, ND, nutritionist or herbalist before adding in herbs if you are on any medications, are pregnant or breastfeeding or have chronic health conditions.  Some herbs can interact with medications while others are safe to take short term but not long term. It is best to work with someone knowledgeable in herbs for these reasons. 

  • Butterbur: butterbur can relax smooth muscle spasms and inhibit inflammatory histamines. Take in standardized form for symptom relief. Studies show that those who take butterbur in standardized tablets or in extract form 3 times daily get the greatest relief of their symptoms.
  • Nettle: stinging nettle can provide dramatic relief from hay fever and stops a runny nose due to its anti-histamine properties. In capsules or tablets take 500 to 1,000 mg. 3 times per day. In some studies patients were given 600 mg. of freeze dried stinging nettle leaf at the onset of allergy season and then 300 mg. as needed with the average dose 3 times per day during the allergy season.
  • Serrapeptase: this is an enzyme that can help reduce swelling in the lungs and make breathing easier. It is helpful for congestion, runny nose and post nasal drip associated with allergies. It is marketed as a joint supplement due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Veganzyme is a trusted brand from This product contains Serrapeptase but other supportive enzymes as well such as bromelain which is also known to be effective for seasonal allergy symptoms. 
  • Quercetin: this can help prevent seasonal allergic reactions if started soon enough. Quercetin can also be found in onions and apples. Take in tablet form 125-250 mg. 3 times per day between meals for 6-8 weeks before the allergy season begins.

Some people prefer Source Naturals Activated Quercetin at 2 capsules 3 times per day.

Do not take quercetin if you are on the immune suppressing drug cyclosporine or the calcium channel blocker nifedipine.

  • Ginger: reduces allergic inflammation. Take capsules, 1,000 mg. 3-4 times daily between meals for 6-8 weeks before the allergy season begins. 
  • Horseradish: this will relieve sinus congestion and helps to deter future allergy attacks. If you can handle it, eat ½-1 teaspoon daily until symptoms subside. 
  • Rooibos: many know rooibos tea as very antioxidant rich herb with the green rooibos being higher in antioxidants than the red but either way both are still good sources of antioxidants. Rooibos also acts as an antihistamine and is also helpful if you have food allergies. Drink one cup of the tea 1-3 times per during allergy season but it is also good to drink all year round. This tea is caffeine free and can withstand long brewing times and does not get bitter with reuse.
  • Chamomile: this can reduce the intensity and duration of allergic reactions due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Drink one cup of tea 2-3 times per day. Chamomile is relaxing for the nervous system so you may want to save one cup for before bedtime.Chamomile is considered a very safe herb, however those who are allergic to ragweed may be allergic to chamomile-use with caution the very first time you try it. Teas are less potent than in tincture form. 
  • Scutellaria (skullcap): It is used for allergies, hay fever and other respiratory conditions. It contains chemicals that may prevent histamine from provoking hay fever attacks. One of the compounds interferes with a complex set of hormonal reactions that constrict the bronchial tubes during asthma attacks. This also relieves headaches that are associated with hay fever. Take in capsule form 1,000-2,000 mg. 3 times per day. Do not confuse this herb with American skullcap as the two herbs are not interchangeable. You want the Asian form and may have to get it via online. Do not purchase one that also contains germander, an herb that can cause liver damage. Do not use if you have chronic diarrhea. 
  • Bee pollen: this must be local! Please talk to your doctor first since you may react to the pollen if you have seasonal allergies. When starting out with local bee pollen take only one pellet at first to make sure you do not react. With each new batch of pollen you purchase, do this test first. If no reaction, then start with 1/8 of a teaspoon daily, gradually working your way up to 1 teaspoon per day. This should be started several months before the beginning of hay fever season. Bee pollen is rich in B vitamins and other nutrients and if no reaction you can eat this daily, year round. You can add it to cold dishes such as smoothies, yogurt or chia seed pudding or just eat your dose daily off the spoon! Bee pollen is like a natural allergy shot-giving you small doses of the pollens you are allergic too and building your immune system over time. Find local farms for your pollen.
  • Green Tea: the xanthines in green tea help relax bronchial spasms and can be effective for allergy symptom relief (and asthma too). Drink 1 cup in the morning (due to caffeine content) daily during allergy season.
  • Diamine Oxidase: This is an enzyme that is responsible for histamine breakdown. For some, the root cause of the allergy symptoms may be due to histamine intolerance. This can be from excess histamine or from a deficiency of the enzyme that breaks it down. Histamine can act as a neurotransmitter and also regulates the production of stomach acid. You need some histamine but you don’t want it too elevated (or too low for that matter). Restore gut balance to resolve the histamine issue but take this enzyme to assist with high histamine levels. Take in supplement form. This enzyme also requires vitamin B6 to function properly.You can also try a low histamine diet. This would include limiting or advoiding foods such as fermented foods, aged cheese, citrus, fish, shellfish, avocado, spinach, cocoa, and left- over meat to name a few. 


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

Galland, L & Galland, J. The Allergy Solution: Unlock the Surprising Hidden Truth behind Why your Sick

   and How to Get Well.

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

   Healing  Arts Press.

Kresser, C. (4/28/16) Got Allergies? Your Microbes could be responsible.

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

Mercola, J. (5/12/16) Suicides are surging.

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

Tweed, V. ( April 2016) Seasonal Allergies? Get Natural Relief. Better Nutrition, Vol. 78.  No. 4.

Wood, R. (2010) The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia. Penguin Books

This information is for educational purposes only.  Always seek out the care of your health professional. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition (candidate), author of the E book 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 believes in food first when addressing the root causes to your health conditions.  For more information, visit her website at




Bauman, E. & Friedlander, J. (2014) Therapeutic Nutrition. CA: Bauman College

Bowden, J. & Sinatra, F. (2012) The Great Cholesterol Myth. MA: Fair winds press.

Ji, S. (9/5/12) How low cholesterol can harm your health. Retrieved from

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Anxiety: herbs and supplements to calm the mind

Karen Brennan, MSW, NC 11/25/15


It is normal to have anxiety in certain situations from time to time such as with public speaking or on a job interview.  It becomes a concern when it starts to interfere with your everyday activities and relationships with other people. 


Anxiety can also take a toll on your physical health keeping your stress hormone levels of cortisol high. 


There are numerous natural remedies you can try to ease your anxiety.  Always let your doctors know about your supplements and especially if you are on any medications and/or are pregnant.  Speak with your practitioner before adding in any new supplements as they may interact with your medications. 


Don’t try everything on this list at one time!  Try one supplement or herb to see how your body reacts to it.  Give it time such as a month and if you do not see any results then discontinue usage.


Herbs to ease anxiety:


Ginkgo Biloba extract: it has shown to be significantly more effective than a placebo for reducing anxiety. Dose: 240 mg. to 480 mg of Ginkgo extract for 4 weeks. 


California Poppy:  use this at low doses for anxiety as at high doses it is best for pain and insomnia.  Dose: .5-1 ml. of tincture 4 times per day.


Kava: many studies document the benefits of this herb for mild to moderate anxiety. It is not sedating.  Do not take if you have liver disease.  Dose: 3-5 ml of tincture 3 times per day


Passion flower: this has been shown to be as effective as an anxiolytic drug for general anxiety disorder.   It is synergistic with Kava.  Dose:  3-5 ml. in tincture 3 times per day.


Valerian: this will help to decrease restlessness and can improve sleep.  Dose: 400-900 mg. per day of whole valerian.  This is often combined with lemon balm for an increased affect. 


Rhodiola: this promotes calmness.  Rhodiola is considered an adaptogen which helps the body to adapt to stress of daily life.  It also optimizes the immune system and hormonal balance. Dose: 500 mg. in a.m. on empty stomach of 3% standardized extract. 




Magnesium: a deficiency is associated with anxiety.  The average U.S. diet only provides 40% of our magnesium needs.  Dose:  200-5—mg. per day of elemental magnesium (malate, Glycinate, taurate).  If diarrhea occurs, reduce dosage amount.  I also like magnesium l threonate as this has the ability to raise magnesium levels in the brain.  I also like Natural Calm magnesium in powder form-take this one before bedtime as it will help to relax the mind to help with sleep issues.  Start with lowest dose recommended on the bottle and you can work your way up to 1T. depending on bowel tolerance. 


B Vitamins: these offer stress support and can improve anxiety.  Take a B complex to get all the B vitamins that you need. Dose: take one capsule with breakfast and one with lunch


Probiotics: many animal studies demonstrate the benefit for anxiety.

A strain of probiotic called lactobacillus rhamnosus, when give to mice reduced stress and anxiety.

The lactobacillus casei strain at 24 billion organisms per day lowered anxiety in chronic fatigue sufferers.

Dose: In order to get the full benefits choose a multi strain probiotic and take one that has 20-50 billion organism.  Best results when taken with food.


Omega 3 Fats:  low DHA intake is associated with anxiety.  Dose: 1-2 g. per day of a fish or krill oil with high DHA.

Lactium: this supplement contains a peptide similar to protein that is naturally found in dairy products.  Studies have shown that it can reduce stress induced anxiety. Dose: Take 200 mg. in the morning and again in the evening and follow the directions on the label. 

GABA: there is some debate over the use of GABA. Some say that if GABA is effective for your anxiety then it means you have a leaky BBB (blood brain barrier). Until I have more research, I recommend Source Naturals GABA Calm.  Your local health food store should carry this brand. 



Other tips to help ease anxiety

  • Avoid or greatly reduce the amount of caffeine you consume (reduce slowly to avoid headaches) Try green tea instead. This has less caffeine but also has stress reducing L Theanine in it.
  • eliminate sugars, refined carbs
  • eat more protein and healthy fats
  • eat high fiber non-starchy vegetables
  • IBS and low blood sugar are associated with panic attacks
  • there is a connection between a healthy digestive tract and anxiety-fix digestive issues to support a calm mind
  • include fermented foods in your diet
  • Anxiety can be associated with a copper/zinc balance with copper being too high and zinc levels being too low. (ask your nutritionist to do a zinc tally test with you)
  • For herbal support you can start out by trying teas that include a variety of the herbs mentioned above. Look for teas that say calm mind, stress reduction etc.…Sleepy time teas also contain some of these herbs as they help to calm the mind to help you sleep.
  • For situational anxiety such as during test taking or public speaking, Rescue Remedy may be helpful. It comes in a spray, lozenge or gum. If you like what you have read here, please share it with others! If you want to know more than sign up for my newsletter and like my face book page 

This information is meant for educational purposes only. Karen Brennan is a certified nutrition consultant and as such does not treat, diagnose or cure but rather looks at your health issues from a whole body perspective with a focus on body balance and food first.





Bauman, E. & Friedlander, J. (2014) Therapeutic Nutrition.  Pengrove, CA: Bauman College. 

Bongiorno, P. (2015) Put the Anxiety behind you.  CA: Canari Press

Challem, J. (2007) The Food-Mood Solution.  NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Walsh, W. (2014) Nutrient Power.  NY, NY: Sky Horse Publishing


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