This topic came up twice today so it is a good indication that I need to talk about it.

What is an allergy correction technique and how does it work? There are several different techniques out there all using very different names but the concept is the same. You can desensitize the body's response to allergens by stimulating the meridian system and acupressure points. According to Eastern medical theory when your body energy is in balance you will not suffer from most health disorders resulting from an energy imbalance. Allergies cause imbalances in the energetic pathways of the body (the meridians). By stimulating these energy pathways in a noninvasive and gentle manner we can remove the blockage causing the person to no longer be reactive when exposed to that allergen.

Allergy correction is a very controversial technique in the West and although many have reported great success, one should use extreme caution if they have serious allergies with a history of anaphylaxis. I have had one form of this technique performed on me and I can report great success. It nearly eliminated my cat allergy. However, it is important to continue treatment for as long as your practitioner suggests to prevent re-occurence.

Although I focus a lot more with balancing the integrity of the gut wall to reduce allergy symptoms, I have been trained in the allergy correction technique as well and find it to be a nice compliment to an overall program. For more information feel free to conta
Warning! This blog post may make your head start to itch uncontrollably!

It's lice season! I was fortunate to never have lice as a child and I consider my family to be quite healthy so I was surprised and frankly quite grossed out when I found the little parasites on my youngest daughter's head. I'm a firm believer in the benefits of co-sleeping as well, which means the whole family needed to be treated. Yuck!

The most important thing to do when you have discovered head lice is to contact anyone that you or your children may have had direct head-to-head contact with. Lice are more commonly found on girls because they are more likely to share brushes and hair accessories as well as play in closer contact. They also prefer children to adults. Contrary to what you may read on the internet, lice don't jump from head to head. Though they can crawl quite quickly as long as they have hair to grasp onto. By warning your neighbors and friends the infestation can quickly be controlled and you can avoid the risk of having your children contract it again.

There is a lot of interesting information out there about pediculosis (lice infestation) and a lot of it is not true. Lice infect 6-12 million people every year, they are found equally in all socioeconomic groups, and they are easy to eradicate as long as you can disrupt their life cycle patterns.

Head lice (distinct from body lice or crab lice) prefer the hair on your head and so will generally stay put although they can be left on pillows, bedding, and hair accessories. These items are easy to treat as 140 degree F. water kills both the lice and eggs. Items that cannot be washed should be set aside in plastic bags for up to three weeks. This is the longest possible period that an egg can survive. At warmer body temperatures it typically takes 7-10 days for lice to hatch from the tiny eggs that are literally glued to the hair shaft. These eggs look very similar to dandruff but do not flake off as dandruff does. Once hatched, the tiny nymphs must feed on human blood within 24 hours and as adults they cannot survive more than 48 hours away from their human hosts. Don't worry about your pets, they cannot live off of them. It takes three weeks for lice to develop to maturity and a female will lay 50-150 eggs in their lifespan of about 30 days.

Once you are familiar with the life cycle pattern it is easy to control an infestation without using toxic chemicals but you do need to be diligent. From my own unfortunate experience, here is my advice on dealing with head lice naturally.

1. Get a lice comb - These are easy to find in most big box stores and pharmacies. You can't get rid of them without it! While most internet sources tell you to comb out all the nits (eggs) I find that the comb is very effective on removing nymphs and adults but most of the eggs stay glued firmly to the hair shafts. That is why I recommend going through several treatments a few days apart to catch any lice that have hatched from the egg stage but are not yet mature enough to lay their own eggs. Make sure you comb through every inch of hair thoroughly parting it into smaller sections if necessary. My oldest daughter has waist length hair so this part is essential!

2. Rub olive oil or coconut oil all over the hair - Many internet sources suggest using mayonnaise to "smother" the lice which is ridiculous, expensive, and would smell terrible. Using oil however does make the hair much easier to comb through and makes it more difficult for the lice to hold onto the hair.

3. Wash hair and rinse with apple cider vinegar and essential oils - At Elder & Sage, we have come up with a specific blend of essential oils that lice particularly dislike. When mixed with apple cider vinegar and left on the hair this makes any future infestations much more unlikely.

4. Repeat treatment every 3-5 days for 2-3 weeks - This should drastically reduce the number of lice with the first treatment and eliminate them completely by the second or third week. Because you are combing out all of the hatched lice, there will not be any left to mature and lay more eggs.

5. Vacuum carpets. Wash sheets, blankets, pillowcases and clothing worn within the 3 days prior to treatment.

6. Take a deep sigh of relief and try to stop reflexively scratching your head. You can go on with your life now.
Commercial food grade oil refinery.
When I was still a student of natural health I quickly became known at my workplace as the "one who eats healthy". If I ate the occasional free office pastry everyone seemed to take note. My favorite chagrined response became, "Well, there is healthy and then there is free." While there is no doubt that our wallets play a large part in our health choices, I no longer believe that being healthy means I have to spend a ton of money. I also believe that when it comes to my health and the health of my family... some things are worth paying for.

A customer shopping in our store recently noticed our Grapeseed oil in the refrigerator. They had heard of the benefits of Grapeseed oil both internally and externally but were taken aback by the price. I agreed that the price was indeed high when compared to other oils but this is one area that I am unwilling to compromise. We could certainly sell a cheaper Grapeseed oil, they are easy to find from several suppliers but I would rather not compromise on my customer's and client's health. To explain what I mean I want to quote from our supplier's website because I feel they have said it very well. This is from Mountain Rose Herbs:

"All of the oils we stock have different and varying degrees of quality. And all of them have been processed by distinct and various methods. The information below will help you better understand not only our line of oils, but also the entire industry of oils and their methods of extraction."

"Cold Pressed - A method of mechanical extraction where heat is reduced and minimized throughout the batching of the raw material. This helps the oil maintain its original state, constituents, and depth. Temperatures are rigorously controlled to ensure that it does not exceed 80-90 degrees Fahrenheit. Although not a practical method of extraction for all vegetable oils on the market it is highly regarded as the extraction method of choice." (emphasis is mine)

"Expeller Pressed - A method of natural, mechanical extraction and processing of oils where a small amount of heat is produced simply through the frictional heat created by hydraulic presses. This is usually around 120-200 degrees Fahrenheit and makes the oil suitable and economical as a base for cosmetics because of its fairly undisturbed molecular state. It also makes a fine food grade oil."

"Refined - A fully processed oil where it has been exposed to all methods of refinement including a flash fluctuation in temperature as high as 450 degrees and winterization as low as -30 degrees, deodorization, which removes the heavy and often unsettling odor in oil, and finally bleaching, where natural clays and other mediums are used to alter or remove an oils color, and scent. This makes for an economical oil in cosmetics and body care products, but it is not the healthiest as a food grade oil."

"Partially Refined - A process where only some of the methods available are employed to produce a manufactured oil. Only one or two of the three available methods are used in a partially refined oil. These include, but are not limited to; deodorization, winterization and natural bleaching. These methods are used for oils which have been known historically to go rancid quickly, and they are also used to further stabilize an oil or remove its heavy odor and deep color."

"Unrefined - A process of mechanical extraction and screen filtering where no additional refining process has taken place. This ensures the finest quality product and makes the oil the most exquisite for food and cosmetic preparation. The unrefined process helps oil retain a rich, strong flavor and color that is true to its natural state. Unrefined oils are always darker in color and richer in scent."

The polyunsaturated fatty acids found in oils are very fragile and go rancid quickly at high temperatures. This means many of the methods used in the refining process (all high heat processes) result in damaged fatty acids and an increase in free radicals. Whether your goal is to use the oil internally or externally - unrefined oil is best for your health. The Grapeseed oil, and all of the other base oils we carry are unrefined and either cold pressed or expeller pressed based on the type of oil. Our Grapeseed oil is a rich greenish color rather than the clear that is typically found. It is several times more expensive than the refined product but it is quite simply of the best possible quality.

I will continue to research all of our products and strive to offer the highest quality that we can. We will also do our best to make these products as affordable as possible to you the consumer as well.

Those of you who know me will understand how passionate I am about food. I believe how we eat drastically changes our health outcomes. While I don't like to subscribe to any particular dietary lifestyle I do believe that getting our food from local sources is important. I prefer to look into the eyes of the person growing my food and to be able to ask any questions about how it was grown or raised. So if I can't grow it myself, getting it from the Farmer's Market is the next best thing. My husband and I were super excited the first time we walked through the Fulton Street Farmers Market! What a luxury having so many awesome vendors with such great products! That's why I don't hesitate a bit in asking my readers to support this awesome campaign.

A few weeks ago the Fulton Street Farmers Market (FSFM) launched the Our Goodness Is Growing Capital Campaign to improve its facilities (adding wheelchair-accessible restrooms and covering the open-air shed area) and to make the Market a year-round operation. So far the FSFM has raised $1.5 million towards its $2.0 million goal. Construction is expected to begin this fall, and the new Market will open its doors to the public on May 5, 2012.

As a local business, we share the FSFM's interests in creating a comprehensive and sustainable local food system, supporting locally-owned family farms and promoting economic development in our neighborhood business district.  I am asking you to consider making a donation to the FSFM Campaign and to encourage your friends and family to do the same.

Contributions can be made by visiting the Campaign website at:

Imagine for a moment you've had a really bad day. Your car broke down, you were late for work, a co-worker was talking about you behind your back... you've had a really bad day. Now multiply that feeling ten-fold and you may begin to have some idea of what it feels like to have clinical depression. It is pervasive, it is debilitating, and it affects 1 out of every 10 people.

The most common prescription drug used for depression is a type of anti-depressant called a Specific Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI). These drugs work by inhibiting your brain cells from using the feel-good brain chemical, serotonin, too quickly. They also have many serious side effects and in my opinion very limited success. One of the most serious side effects from an SSRI is increased risk of suicide! Not exactly the results you were looking for, right?

Many people have experienced benefit from using 5-HTP to increase the brain's production of serotonin. 5-HTP has been shown to provide significant improvements in depression, equivalent to or better than prescription anti-depressants and with fewer, much more mild side effects, if any. Our version of 5-HTP, called 5-HTP Power also contains some adaptogenic herbs and other nutrients to enhance brain and body function.

But I also have to question, why are the neurotransmitters out of balance to begin with? With a little research we find that serotonin is found not only in the central nervous system but also the gastro-intestinal tract. In fact, 80% of the serotonin in the body is found in the digestive tract where it is produced by cells lining the intestinal walls.

Many other nutrient deficiencies are connected with depression including Vitamin A, the B-Vitamins, Vitamin D, zinc, etc. Coincidentally these are the very same nutrients that are missing when the digestive system in out of balance. How do you know whether your digestive system is out of balance? You would experience any number of digestive discomforts including gas, bloating, heartburn, diarrhea, constipation, pain in the lower abdominal area, bad breath, tooth problems and more. By addressing these digestive issues you can get at the root cause of the depression rather than only treating the symptoms.

Cholesterol levels that are too low are another often ignored cause of depression. Despite what many doctors will tell you, the research shows that high cholesterol is only a risk factor (and a very weak risk factor at that) for men under the age of 50 with cholesterol levels over 300 points. For everyone else, high cholesterol levels are actually associated with greater longevity and less risk of cancer. And the side effects to artificially lowering blood cholesterol levels through the use of statin drugs are depression, reduced libido, increased risk of suicide, and more. Cholesterol is needed by the body to produce many important hormones including the neurotransmitters in the brain!

Vitamin D deficiency is another common cause of depression.  Most people will tell you to just get out into the sun and your body will produce all the vitamin D you need. But did you know that your body will only produce one type of Vitamin D from sun exposure and it is formed out of cholesterol? Even then, here in the northern latitudes it is difficult to get enough exposure to adequately provide for the body's needs. It is much better, and in some cases crucial, to supplement with vitamin D in the diet. You also need to make sure that you are getting the proper ratio of vitamin A to Vitamin D as either one can be toxic without the other to balance it. The ratio of Vitamin A to Vitamin D should be 10 to 1. This can be easily acquired through a supplement of high vitamin cod liver oil. Unfortunately most commercial forms of cod liver oil are devoid of Vitamin D due to the processing technique. There is only one company that I am familiar with that has the proper Vitamin A to D ratio and that is the only brand we carry at Elder & Sage.

For more information on how to improve your health naturally call us at 616-242-1355 to set up an appointment.

Dr. Kathryn Doran-Fisher, ND