Laura G Owens ~ Writer

Humanity. Health. Happiness.

4 Supplements to Boost Immune Health During COVID-19

Of course you already know ten times over that your first lines of defense against COVID-19 are:

  • Social distancing
  • Washing your hands
  • Wearing a mask (yes, science shows they help)
  • Using hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol

But there’s something else that’s critical.

A strong immune system.

Not enough people talk about this. Certainly not our major health institutions including the CDC, WHO, the NIH, and rarely doctors.

A strong immune system begins with eating a healthy diet, minimizing toxins, getting adequate sleep and exercise, reducing stress (Ha! These days?) and taking science-backed supplements — when appropriate.

I often hear friends and family say they’re taking vitamin C, D Airborne and zinc. All good but it many cases, not enough.

I take COVID-19 very seriously. I also leave the house a lot.

I know this sounds flip and contradictory.

Believe me I’m not arrogant enough to think I’m superwoman. I know I can get sick. I’ve had enough colds, flu and health issues in my life to know I’m anything but invincible. Growing up I got strep pretty regularly.

And since COVID-19 I’ve felt something coming on at least three or four times. I didn’t have a cough or fever but I was run down with a slight scratchy throat and stuffy nose. Just on the cusp of something maybe turning ugly. I slammed down my supplements for a few days and it went away, 100%.

Of course I follow all the CDC precautions when I leave the house but I’ve been out countless times (after lockdown ended in Florida May 1st).  I’m not high risk. I’m 54 and in good health as are my husband and daughter.

But as you know with COVID-19 that’s no guarantee.

Still, in the last five months I’ve been to restaurants, hotels, the gym, bike trails, my hairdresser, nail salons, my eye doctor and primary care physician, numerous stores, malls, several small gatherings with friends, and more recently, a virtually empty movie theater for a much appreciated big screen and popcorn experience with my daughter.

I’ve been tested twice for COVID-19 before I visited my stepmom and had one antibody test. All negative.

So, I have to think either my test results were wrong (certainly possible), I’ve been incredibly lucky or my immune-strengthening supplements have something to do with why I haven’t gotten sick.

I have no way of proving my theory except to say that since I started taking a specialized silver called Argentyn 23 I don’t get sick (or seriously sick).

(Want to cut to the chase? Head to the end of this post)

Argentyn 23 to strengthen your immune system

Argentyn 23 is a unique form of silver. A refined, improved colloidal silver.

Wait, please don’t leave because you read the word “silver” and said oh helllll no, quackery alert.

I felt exactly the same way.

I refused to try any form of silver. Because while I’m heavily into alternative medicine, I didn’t trust gulping back a liquid version of my favorite sterling silver earrings (obviously an exaggeration, no comparison).

But Argentyn 23 is safe, non-toxic and *effective for bacterial and viral infections. It’s a bio-active hydrosol form of silver. In a nutshell this means super small (nano) particles with positively charged ions. This unique molecular makeup makes all the difference.

See: Types of silver and why it matters
See: How Argentyn 23 compares to other silver

I need to say upfront that the FDA just issued a warning to companies claiming their silver products prevent or cure COVID-19.  Dietary supplement companies are prohibited by the FDA from making statements that their products prevent or cure disease.

The company that makes Argentyn 23, Natural Immunogenics, follows FDA guidelines to the T. They don’t claim to “cure or treat” because they’re not allowed to make those claims.

This isn’t a snake-oil company. There’s peer-reviewed science behind Argentyn’s form of silver (see “Research” below).

Silver has long been shown to have antibacterial properties. And in more recent years scientists discovered that silver also has antiviral properties.

It has been reported that silver nanoparticles interact with virus, bacteria, and the immune system…the size, shape and composition of silver nanoparticles can have a significant effect on their efficacy.

Silver Nanoparticles Interactions with the Immune System: Implications for Health and Disease.

The one thing my doctor recommended to prevent colds and flu

A few years ago I asked my integrative MD if she had to pick one supplement to help prevent colds and flu what would it be? I get overwhelmed with all the options and contradictory findings. She said Argentyn 23.

I’d never heard of it and was pretty skeptical. I’d read about some people turning blue (argyria) from talking silver so I wanted nothing to do with it.

But it works and it’s safe. My husband and daughter also started taking Argentyn 23 and these are the last two people on the planet I’d put at risk.

I know my words means nothing without science and safety assurances to back up my claims.

See: Why Argentyn 23 is safe, pure and *effective

The 4 supplements I take religiously when I’m getting sick

I take these the second I feel a scratchy throat. I mean I’ll crawl out of bed half asleep and make myself. Sometimes I still get a cold, but rarely. And if I do get sick my symptoms are less severe and I get over it faster.

The trick is to take these immediately and repeatedly (according to directions) until you feel better (generally 5-10 days depending on severity).

  1. Argentyn 23
  2. Black elderberry syrup  
  3. Vitamin D
  4. Vitamin C

See: 3 Quick Ways to Reduce Anxiety During COVID

Research

  1. Black elderberry (Sambucus nigra) supplementation effectively treats upper respiratory symptoms: A meta-analysis of randomized, controlled clinical trials
  2. Vitamin D effective for reducing flu and colds: study
  3. Can vitamin C prevent or treat COVID-19? Peer-reviewed studies: antiviral effects of silver
  4. Silver Nanoparticles Interactions with the Immune System: Implications for Health and Disease.
  5. Application of Silver Nanoparticles in Viral Inhibition: A New Hope for Antivirals
  6. Silver Nanoparticles as Potential Antiviral Agents. 
  7. Statement of Argentyn 23 safety by former Science Assistant to the Associate Bureau Director, Division of Toxicology, US FDA.
  8. Antiviral effects of nano colloidal silver, water catholyte, oxidal with methylene blue. possible effects of influence over coronavirus SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2
  9.  Nanoparticle-based antimicrobial paper as spread-breaker for corona virus
  10. Inhibitory effect of silver nanomaterials on transmissible virus-induced host cell infections
  11. Efficiency of silver nanoparticle against virus coronaviruses
  12. Application of nanomaterials in treatment, anti-infection and detection of coronaviruses
  13. Could silver nano-particles control the 2019-nCoV virus?; An urgent glance to the past
  14. Glutathione-Capped Ag2S Nanoclusters Inhibit Coronavirus Proliferation through Blockage of Viral RNA Synthesis and Budding

* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Mask shaming

Masks Work. Shaming Doesn’t.

Surprise, surprise, wearing a mask has turned political.

It was only a matter of time when masks became a symbol of either forced conformity or deference to science.

My sense is that most people favor wearing masks. Pro maskers are posting charts and personal pleas to please cover-up.

While a vocal minority are upset that their personal freedoms are under attack. They’re also worried that if the government makes masks mandatory, the assault on freedom won’t stop there (e.g. forced vaccines).

But masks work. They’re not foolproof but they help.

This review of 172 studies across 16 countries and 6 countries is pretty convincing.

These data also suggest that wearing face masks protects people (both health-care workers and the general public) against infection by these coronaviruses.

Physical distancing, face masks, and eye protection to prevent person-to-person transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID -19: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Believe me, I don’t want to wear one.

Does anyone? They’re hot, mildly suffocating and they hide my summer pink lipstick.

They also hide when I smile at a random stranger or the hardworking sales clerk across the aisle. The latter just happened to me yesterday.

I smiled at this clerk then thought, well that’s stupid. So I said “hi” instead. We’re an expressionless society right now except for the glimmer of empathy in our eyes as we pass a fellow masker.

But I wear a mask anyway. And not because I’m scared.

I haven’t been scared of contracting COVID or getting seriously ill since day one. No I don’t think I’m blessed with extraordinary Godly protection or have superpowers.

I’m healthy and under 65.

And my husband and daughter are healthy and under 65. Also we’re fanatics about boosting our immune system. Especially now. So if any one of us caught COVID while I’m reasonably sure it wouldn’t be a picnic, it probably wouldn’t be serious.

So wearing a mask isn’t about me or my immediate family.

It’s about others.

It’s about getting this superbly contagious virus under control for the sake of those at risk and our potentially overwhelmed healthcare system.

That’s it. That’s the reason to wear a mask.

Even if you don’t believe the science. The mere act of wearing one tells your fellow man, I got you.

But no way am I going to shame you on social media or give you the stink eye if your face isn’t covered. As one of my good friends sums it up, “you do you.”

I mean I strolled an (almost empty) mall the other day without a mask. But you won’t catch me in the essential or crowded stores bare-faced.

So instead of citizen shaming I’d like to see our local, state and national officials regularly encourage citizens and businesses to cover up.

Flood the public with service announcements until more people change their behavior (Temporarily. I mean, I’ll never be on board with becoming a mask-wearing society. Nor will I give up hugging and handshakes).

Shaming friends, family, neighbors or strangers on social media and in-person won’t work. If anything people will double down and 100% refuse. It’s what we humans do.

We vehemently defend our convictions. Especially in a time of political divide so heated that I’m not sure we’ll ever return to a time when partisanship was mostly civil.

So please wear a mask. Thank you.

More: The role of community-wide wearing of face mask for control of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) epidemic due to SARS-CoV-2

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Past Research Suggests Melatonin May Assist Coronavirus Treatments

Homemade Liposomal Melatonin for Sleep and Brain Detoxification by ...
Melatonin is naturally produced in the brain at night

Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the brain’s pineal gland in response to nightfall. As we age our levels drop. Melatonin supplements are often used as sleep aids.

Side note: I’ve never had success taking melatonin by itself for my adrenal-related sleep issues. Melatonin isn’t really a sleep aid or sedative. It helps the body regulate a disrupted circadian rhythm (involved in sleep). This is why it’s useful for jet leg. But two months ago I decided to test adding 6mg (rather than my usual 3mg) to my sleep supplement regime. The higher dose worked like a charm.

A couple weeks ago I was researching evidence-based natural treatments for viruses and I found this March 2020 analysis:

COVID-19: Melatonin as a potential adjuvant treatment

Previous research has documented the positive effects of melatonin in alleviating acute respiratory stress induced by virus, bacteria, radiation, etc. [1,2,3].

Herein, we review the evidence indicating that melatonin will have supportive adjuvant (assisting in) utility in treating COVID-19 induced pneumonia, acute lung injury (ALI) and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).

COVID-19: Melatonin as a potential adjuvant treatment

That got my attention.

Also my holistic MD regularly recommends that her older patients take melatonin at night, not only to regulate sleep disruption but for its important health benefits.

Because in addition to regulating a disrupted sleep cycle (e.g. jet lag), melatonin has anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, immune assisting and indirect anti-viral properties. All of which may be useful for respiratory illnesses and viral infections such as COVID-19.

See: “Studies Show Melatonin May Help Fight the Coronavirus.

Benefits of melatonin

Melatonin reduces inflammation, which can contribute to the respiratory failure and other systemic effects of the illness.

Melatonin supports the body’s cells, by promoting the growth of cells under normal circumstances. Discretionary actions of melatonin allow it to benefit normal cells and tissues while supporting the body’s defenses against pathological cells and tissues.

In addition, research found evidence that melatonin appears to stop apoptosis — a process in which cells infected with a virus actually kill themselves in an attempt to stop the spread of a disease. Although this apoptosis response can be helpful in some diseases, it can cause even more misery in some illnesses such as coronavirus.

Melatonin is known to stimulate the immune system. Although it does not directly attack viruses, it helps our body’s own defenses to act more efficiently. This can lead to fewer symptoms and ultimately a better chance of surviving this feared disease.

It’s too soon to say whether melatonin might be a useful addition to COVID-19 treatments. But based on earlier research that found melatonin was beneficial for respiratory illnesses that have similar responses as COVID-19 (excessive inflammation, depressed immune system and a cytokine storm) it looks promising.

References:

  1. Wu, H. Ji, Y. Wang, C. Gu, W. Gu, L. Hu, L. ZhuMelatonin alleviates radiation-induced lung injury via regulation of miR-30e/NLRP3 axis Oxidative Med. Cell. Longev., 2019 (2019), p. 4087298. 
  • H.-K. Yip, Y.-C. Chang, C.G. Wallace, L.-T. Chang, T.-H. Tsai, Y.-L. Chen, H.-W. Chang, S. Leu, Y.-Y. Zhen, C.-Y. Tsai, K.-H. Yeh, C.-K. Sun, C.-H. Yen. Melatonin treatment improves adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cell therapy for acute lung ischemia-reperfusion injury J. Pineal Res., 54 (2013), pp. 207-221.
  • S.-H. Huang, X.-J. Cao, W. Liu, X.-Y. Shi, W. WeiInhibitory effect of melatonin on lung oxidative stress induced by respiratory syncytial virus infection in mice J. Pineal Res., 48 (2010), pp. 109-116. 

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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3 Quick Ways to Reduce Anxiety During the Coronavirus

This pandemic is seriously messing with our heads.

Fear and uncertainty. The constant doomsday data. The sense of loss. Our daily routine out of whack. Every day blends into the next.

Faces covered in masks makes the world feel like we’re facing the end-of-times. Although our rational mind knows that this too shall pass, nothing feels rational right now.

This morning I saw a woman in her 60’s walking her dog across the street from my house. She had a mask on and was at least 20 feet away.

As she walked by she kept her head down. I was just about to say hello but I could tell by how fast and focused she walked that she didn’t want to interact. It was almost as if she thought that if she caught my eye this might encourage me to ignore social distancing and mosey on over for a chat.

But this hasn’t been most of my experience. If anything neighbors and strangers are even friendlier (from a distance). Yet it struck me that this woman was probably so genuinely terrified that I might get too close that she panicked and averted her eyes.

It’s all very unsettling. Basic politeness replaced by fear.

So until this nightmare is over what little things can we do to feel better?

First, limit how much time you spend listening to the news. And make sure what news you do follow is accurate. Steer clear of obsessing over rumors.

And — make it a habit to do these as often as possible:

Get grounded

Heh? All this means is to walk barefoot outside in the grass (or sand or dirt) for a few minutes a day.

I know this probably sounds very woo-hoo. But besides the pure joy of being outdoors there’s science behind the health benefits of walking barefoot, otherwise known as “grounding” or “earthing.”

Here’s why: When you walk barefoot on porous surfaces (dirt, sand) you connect to the Earth’s vast supply of electrons. This in turn creates physical changes in the body. Grounding has been shown to improve sleep, pain and stress.

Emerging scientific research has revealed a surprisingly positive and overlooked environmental factor on health: direct physical contact with the vast supply of electrons on the surface of the Earth. Modern lifestyle separates humans from such contact. The research suggests that this disconnect may be a major contributor to physiological dysfunction and unwellness.

Chevalier, G., Sinatra, S. T., Oschman, J. L., Sokal, K., & Sokal, P. (2012). Earthing: health implications of reconnecting the human body to the Earth’s surface electrons. Journal of environmental and public health.

So take a few minutes every day to shuffle barefoot through your grass. Don’t worry if you look ridiculous. Your neighbors just might want to join you (from their own yard).

(For more on the benefits of grounding/earthing.)

Get a little sunshine

You know how you feel blissed when you lay in the sun? Well it’s not just the soothing radiant warmth. Sunshine actually boosts mood. I’m not suggesting you bask for hours. But if possible, get a few rays on your arms and legs every day.

It turns out low levels of the brain chemical serotonin (involved in mood, focus and sleep) have been associated with low sun exposure. The right balance of sun exposure (5 to 15 minutes) has been found to boost mood.

The light-induced effects of serotonin are triggered by sunlight that goes in through the eye. Sunlight cues special areas in the retina, which triggers the release of serotonin. So, you’re more likely to experience this type of depression in the winter time, when the days are shorter.

Nall, Rachel, RN, BSN, CCRN. “What are the benefits of sunlight?” May 25, 2018. www.healthline.com/health/depression/benefits-sunlight

Laugh (often)

If I don’t laugh I’ll cry. And laughter is the best medicine.

Cliches aside now’s not the time to binge on shows about murder, zombie takeovers, virus invasions or the end of times. Unless of course these apocalyptic shows help you escape from coronavirus anxiety.

From Mayo Clinic’s “Stress relief from laughter? It’s no joke.” The benefits of laughter:

Improve your immune system. Negative thoughts manifest into chemical reactions that can affect your body by bringing more stress into your system and decreasing your immunity. By contrast, positive thoughts can actually release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more-serious illnesses.

Relieve pain. Laughter may ease pain by causing the body to produce its own natural painkillers.

Increase personal satisfaction. Laughter can also make it easier to cope with difficult situations. It also helps you connect with other people.

Improve your mood. Many people experience depression, sometimes due to chronic illnesses. Laughter can help lessen your depression and anxiety and may make you feel happier.

Funniest shows on Netflix right now

Larry David, master curmudgeon, tells everyone to stay home

Image credit: Antonino Visalli

“Bed alarm” – a poem to my father while he suffered through dementia

Published on the Feminine Collective

I don’t tremble, but they assume I’m Katherine Hepburn’s kind.
We share our Parkinson’s frozen mask, expressionless, involuntary
deceit of emotion.

My shuffling gait halts while I calibrate my balance, refusing my wife’s arm
even as my committee of limbs won’t comply.

Stiffening, my six-foot body cracks against the shower door that night.
Cubes of blunt glass explode. I am bare, crooked. Fetal once again. Read entire poem…

Photo credit: John Towner

Chronic Insomnia. What Finally Got Me to Sleep.

If you suffer with serious insomnia at some point you’ve probably tried damn near anything to sleep.

I spent God knows how much money on supplements, herbs, books, prescriptions and acupuncture. I even got tested for sleep apnea although I suspected that wasn’t the problem (It wasn’t. In fact the doctor said I moved through “all the stages of sleep perfectly.” Really? Tell that to my 3am wide awake brain).

Nothing worked. Well prescription sleeping pills worked but not without horrible side effects (Ambien made me really nasty the next day). And sleeping pills are for short term sleep issues.

The more stressed I got the worse my insomnia. I went from having trouble falling back to sleep, to for the first time in my life, having trouble falling asleep. It was a nightmare. I was anxious, depressed, in a fog.

I did hours of research and finally figured out I probably had something called adrenal fatigue. I sent a sample of my saliva to a company called ZRT Laboratory. ZRT offers home testing for a variety of conditions. The results showed I had mild to moderate adrenal fatigue.

But here’s the problem with that diagnosis.

Conventional doctors (vs. integrative/functional/holistic) don’t believe adrenal fatigue is a real condition. They only recognize adrenal insufficiency/Addison’s disease and Cushing syndrome. So if you ask your health care provider about adrenal fatigue prepare for an eye roll and to hear “there’s no such thing.”

Don’t listen to them.

Adrenal fatigue isn’t quackery. It’s real. If you want to know more about adrenal fatigue and insomnia please read this post.

So I found a holistic MD who confirmed my diagnosis. But she told me my condition wasn’t mild, it was severe. This doctor worked with me for months to strengthen my adrenal glands. And when I finally felt better — I slept better. Not every night, but most nights.

Read: my insomnia – adrenal fatigue story

In my link above I list a bunch of supplements I recently tested after I found out the FDA discontinued my favorite sleep supplement, Kavinace Ultra PM (Oh how I miss you…). I had so-so results with most of the supplements I tested. But with trial and error for the most part, I have it down.

Phenibut pulled from dietary supplements

Kavinace Ultra PM contained phenibut. Phenibut is a central nervous system depressant. It’s used in the treatment of anxiety, insomnia, and for a variety of other conditions. It worked really well to get and keep me to sleep (in combination with other supplements (see below).

Unfortunately in April the FDA issued warning letters to companies that sell dietary supplements with phenibut. They told the companies to immediately pull their product off the market or to relabel it a “nootropic.” Nootropics are substances that have memory or cognitive-enhancing effects.

Okay great so now I’m stuck without my Godsend of a sleep supplement.

Desperate, I called the company that made Ultra Kavinace PM (NeuroScience). The representative suggested Ultra Kavinace PM users try their Alpha Gaba PM formulation. I tried it. Meh. It works okay. I usually still wake up in the middle of the night.

NeuroScience’s latest replacement for Ultra Kavinace PM is a new formula called Kavinace OS (available in capsules or liquid). I haven’t tried it and I probably won’t. It has ingredients I’ve already tried alone or in various sleep formulas with so-so results.

Like Alpha Gaba PM, Kavinace OS contains L-theanine and melatonin. But Kavinace OS contains 5 mg of melatonin vs. Alpha’s 3 mg. That bump in melatonin might make a real difference for some people.

In my experience melatonin by itself vs. in combination with herbs etc. doesn’t work well for me. Melatonin isn’t a sedative. It’s a hormone naturally produced our brain’s pineal gland as the sun goes down. Its job is to regulate our body’s natural circadian rhythm. As we age our melatonin levels drop.

When I add a higher dose of melatonin to my sleep supplements I sleep pretty well but I have some pretty wicked (unsettling) dreams. Not a great trade-off.

This is the sleep regime that (usually) works for me.

Three to four nights a week I take:

Three to four nights a week:

I replace Alpha Gaba PM with one of my sleep formulas that contains phenibut. How did I get my hands on phenibut when it was removed from the market?

When I heard sleep supplements that contain phenibut were being pulled I stockpiled a few brands that got positive reviews on Amazon. Gaba Complex and Sleep Time (both are no longer available). You can however, also still purchase phenibut by itself at **LiftMode.

I don’t sleep quite as well with Alpha Gaba PM as I do with phenibut sleep formulas. But my holistic doctor increased my bioidentical progesterone by an extra 25mg per night to support my adrenal glands and that helps (as a note to women in menopause, bioidentical progesterone helps among many symptoms, sleep).

I may try adding GABA supplements to my Alpha Gaba PM. I read a study that found that GABA and L-theanine in combination are more effective than taken alone. I suggest taking the PharmaGaba form of GABA. PharmaGABA is the form, not a brand.

So that’s what I’m doing to stay asleep.

Trial and error. Please note that long term insomnia may be caused by a number of underlying or interrelated issues (stress, chronic pain, sleep apnea, etc.). Please consult with your health practitioner.

And please let me know what you’ve tried that’s working for you.

To better sleep and sweet dreams ~ Laura

**Please note: phenibut has the potential for tolerance and abuse. Use the lowest possible dose and regularly rotate with non-phenibut products.Phenibut requires careful, disciplined and responsible cycling and limited consumption to maximize its benefits and minimize the potential drawbacks. 

Disclaimer: Please note I don’t recommend any products or service I haven’t  personally tried or that haven’t receive positive reviews from Amazon. Laura-Owens.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com

Photo credit

insomnia

Tried everything but you still can’t sleep? It might be adrenal fatigue.

A few years ago I had a serious emotional breakdown from severe insomnia.  

At one point it got so bad I started feeling microscopic “bugs” crawling all over my skin at night.  I’d spend an hour scanning my arms with a magnifying glass trying to find invisible insects (this is a condition called formication). Formication is the perception of bugs crawling on the skin and is caused by a number of conditions including anxiety which if you’re chronically sleep deprived — is a given. 

I thought I was going crazy. 

Most people think getting “good” sleep is simply about getting enough (6 to 8 hours). But quality matters too, that is, cycling through all five stages throughout the night. Sleep is not only restorative it’s an essential part of disease prevention. Research has found that sleep helps cleans out our daily brain garbage (beta amyloids associated with Alzheimer’s).

Without adequate zzz’s it’s nearly impossible to function at full potential the next day. We feel “weirded out,” foggy, drowsy, anxious, unfocused, cranky, quick to anger, clumsy, slow and often times depressed. And at it’s worst, sleep deprivation can be dangerous, e.g. falling asleep at the wheel.

When I started having sleep problems I obsessively poured through online articles and read numerous research studies. I spent countless hours and dollars on sleep supplements and even got tested for sleep apnea. I posted desperate questions on dozens of online forums. Nothing worked.

What I tried for my insomnia (everything) 

Google “insomnia” and you’ll see pages of articles that recommend your first line of defense should be to “practice good sleep hygiene.” 

  • Keep regular bedtime hours (irregular sleep patterns disrupt your body’s natural circadian rhythm).
  • Keep your bedroom cool, dark and quiet at night.
  • Avoid screens an hour or more before bedtime (disrupts melatonin production).
  • Quiet the mind and body with a warm bath and soothing sounds.

Please. It should be so easy. 

Okay for some it is. But for the hardcore insomniac these just don’t cut it. Of course good sleep hygiene is important and without it, will only make matters worse. 

Here’s what many experts suggest to combat insomnia. I tried every single one. 

  • Cut out caffeine 
  • If you can’t fall asleep go read in another room. The idea is to avoid associating your bedroom with sleep problems, thus adding to “sleep anxiety.”
  • Meditate 
  • Listen to calming music. Certain music is actually designed to move your brain into an alpha (calm) state.
  • Avoid reading or watching scary or overstimulating books and movies right before bed. 
  • Wear eye plugs and an eye mask (I still do this every night).
  • Try hypnosis with a professional or self-hypnotize yourself to sleep.  Imagine slowly walking down steps while you silently count backwards. 
  • Try EFT, emotional freedom technique (tapping)
  • Try reflexology 
  • Address peri or full menopause. Bioidentical progesterone is a  calming hormone and it may help. In some instances bioidentical estrogen may be beneficial. (Bioidentical HRT is safe when monitored by a health care practitioner). 
  • Quiet your mind by replacing racing/ruminating thoughts with soothing images (the beach, waterfalls, basically your happy place).
  • Take a warm shower.
  • Try melatonin. 1-3 mg. Melatonin by itself makes my sleep worse.  It’s a hormone produced in the brain’s pineal gland and is only secreted at night. It’s not a sedative. Melatonin works with your body’s natural circadian rhythm (internal body clock). As we age we produce less. I’m testing it right now by adding it to my current supplements. 
  • For a short period, try an anti-histamine (these made me more awake, also known as a paradoxical effect).
  • Try calming herbs (Valerian, Hops, Lemon Balm, Kava Kava, etc). 
  • Try sleeping pills (*for a brief period).
  • Get tested for sleep apnea. According to my sleep clinic doctor I move in and out of each sleep stage “perfectly,” with no breathing disruption. 

*You probably already know but sleep meds are bad news long term.  First, they don’t address the underlying problem. Moreover they disrupt natural sleep patterns, are addictive and often have nasty side effects. My Ambien hangover was mean moody and nasty. And for some people Ambien can be dangerous (sleep-walking activities like driving, etc).

Chronic insomnia made me take a few swigs at 4am

There were times when after I tried for hours to fall back asleep I just gave up and chugged a couple vodka shots. But here’s the thing, alcohol disrupts REM (dream) sleep, which in turn makes you anxious the next day. Drinking is obviously not the answer but at 3am, 4am, 5am I’d have done virtually anything to go back to sleep, legal or otherwise. 

I remember once saying to my husband something like “I wish I had a small dose of that ‘milk’ that Michael Jackson took to sleep at night.” In the most desperate and sad way I understood why he begged his doctor to shoot him up with it. MJ’s “milk” was a powerful anesthetic drug and tragically it killed him.

After months of trying everything and spending hundreds of dollars, all I had left was to pray and sob. Night after night I sat alone on my back porch staring at the sky, begging for answers.

Every morning when my daughter got ready for school I stumbled around the kitchen, forced a smile and pretended I was okay. My husband was incredibly supportive but there was nothing he could do except listen every time I broke down. During the day I tried to nap but I was either too busy with my writing work or too wired to fall asleep (the latter is a classic sign of adrenal fatigue, “tired but wired”). 

Most of my life I never had any trouble falling asleep. Within 10 minutes of reading a book I’d zonk out. Every so often I’d wake up in the middle of the night and not fall back to sleep for a couple hours.

Of course this happens to everyone.

Racing thoughts, stress, an exciting day, hot flashes, depression, chronic pain or sometimes for no apparent reason, you’re just wide awake.

I didn’t think much about it until it started to happen more frequently and then eventually I started having trouble falling asleep.

Pretty soon bedtime became my enemy.

By 8 or 9pm I could feel my anxiety and panic creep in. This stressed me out which in turn, made it even harder to fall asleep.

Here’s the thing, insomnia creates a vicious cycle.

Poor sleep = higher cortisol (the “stress” hormone). Higher cortisol = poor sleep. And round and round the nightmare goes. 

Adrenal fatigue and insomnia

After months of research I finally figured out my sleep issues were likely caused by adrenal fatigue (AF).

“Adrenal fatigue is a collection of signs and symptoms, known as a syndrome, that results when the adrenal glands function below the necessary level,” writes Dr. James Wilson. “Most commonly associated with intense or prolonged stress, it can also arise during or after acute or chronic infections, especially respiratory infections such as influenza, bronchitis or pneumonia. As the name suggests, its paramount symptom is fatigue that is not relieved by sleep but it is not a readily identifiable entity like measles or a growth on the end of your finger.”

See: Common symptoms of adrenal fatigue

I had nearly all the symptoms.  

I should stop right here and mention that the conventional medical community doesn’t recognize AF.  

It only recognizes adrenal insufficiency in the form of Addison’s and Cushing’s disease both which are not related to AF.

I should also point out that I have a pituitary disorder called Empty Sella Syndrome that affects my Hypothalmic-Pituitary-Axis (HPA). I was diagnosed at 19 and until a few years ago was under endocrinologists’ care. HPA issues can correlate to adrenal problems. 

But here’s the thing, when I spoke to my endocrinologist about my sleep issues, she was zero help.  Why? Because my standard endocrine bloodwork was within normal limits for my pituitary condition.  Because the doc didn’t test my DHEA level which later turned out to be rock bottom (DHEA is an adrenal hormone). Because the endocrinology community thinks AF is total bunk. 

So I left my endocrinologist and went to a highly respected holistic MD., Dr. Sangeeta Pati who specializes in restorative medicine. Dr. Pati confirmed that I did indeed have AF, but that it wasn’t mild as I suspected; it was severe. 

She treated my AF by suggesting immediate lifestyle changes (naps when possible etc.). She started me on bioidentical DHEA (and other bioidentical hormones), magnesium and a daily dash of Premier pink Himalayan salt in a glass of water. I also continued to take adrenal-supportive supplements I found through Dr. James Wilson’s website and Kavinace Ultra PM for sleep (more about both below). 

If you suspect you have AF (take this online questionnare) you have two options: 

    1. Listen to your doctor who will inevitably tell you, “There’s no such diagnosis. The Endocrinology Society doesn’t recognize it. It’s a made-up condition that preys on the unsuspecting in order to make money.”

      OR…..

       

    2. Find a health care practitioner who understands AF and takes it seriously.

       

But here’s the thing, adrenal fatigue treatment finally got me to sleep — my primary doctor and endocrinologist did not.

Sadly many people who suffer with AF are told there’s nothing clinically wrong with them, that like most Americans they’re simply overworked, tired, burnt out and stressed.

“Get some rest, stop burning the candle at both ends,” is the often the extent of insomnia medical advice. Or the doctor writes a prescription for sleeping pills, anti-depressants and/or anti-anxiety meds. All fine short term, but these won’t get to the root of your insomnia. 

Your insomnia may in fact be due to a condition that has nothing to do with AF. Menopause. Chronic pain. REM disorder. Your primary care doctor may order tests and refer you to a specialist to rule out certain conditions. But alternatively, your symptoms may point directly to AF. 

Just don’t rule it out even if your doctors automatically do. 

It’s real. Ask Dr Wilson. Dr. Lam. Dr. Northrup.

And, please please please don’t fall for the myth that “as we age we need less sleep.” Or what your friends tell you, that “as we age we don’t sleep as well and that’s just the way it is” No. As we age we still need 6-8 hours of quality sleep.  

What I did once when I realized I had adrenal fatigue

I found a website called Integrative Psychiatry that specializes in neuro-cognitive tests and sells supplements that addresses such issues. I immediately ordered the Adrenal Stress Index test.

Almost all my results were abnormal.

For a small fee I consulted with the company’s physician’s assistant over the phone. From my results she suspected I had adrenal fatigue so she told me I needed to address a number of issues that were most likely causing my insomnia.

First, gluten sensitivity.

Food sensitivities can contribute to insomnia as a result of gut inflammation and histamine. Inflammation in the body alerts the adrenals, “warning, warning something is wrong!” and bam, cortisol increases. 

And of course — stress.

Stress of any kind (good or bad) raises cortisol. But cortisol is not the enemy. We need it. It reduces inflammation.  Cortisol levels naturally go up and down with our circadian rhythm. Cortisol is also the famous fight or flight hormone we’ve relied on in our evolution to stay alert to danger, and so, to survive. “Run a tiger is coming!”

Of course we’re no longer running from tigers.

Today our “tiger” is the challenge of day to day living. “It’s time for bed but I have a business report to finish, kids to pick up, dishes to clean, emails to answer, texts to respond to, bills to juggle, persistent pain, aging parents who need me, social media to attend to (e.g. fear of missing out)…”

When something stressful happens (say a car cuts you off) your body immediately produces adrenaline. Afterward cortisol rises. As I mentioned cortisol naturally ebbs and flows.  But if you’re chronically stressed your cortisol level may never come down. So while you should be getting drowsy around 9 or 10pm you’re wide awake staring at the ceiling. Or you fall asleep but wake up because your cortisol spikes.

Eventually your adrenal glands simply can’t keep up with the demand for cortisol and your levels begin to drop. You move from “wired but tired” (high cortisol) to so exhausted (low cortisol) you can barely get out of bed in the morning.

How you feel depends on where you are within the four phases of adrenal fatigue.  Low or high cortisol disrupts sleep. 

Important: You can’t recover from adrenal fatigue without regular quality sleep. And you can’t sleep when you have adrenal fatigue. Insomnia and adrenal fatigue are intertwined. 

The physician’s assistant with NeuroScience suggested I take three products.  Kavinace and Ultra Kavinace PM for sleep  (no longer available, see below) and Dr. Wilson’s Adrenal Rebuilder

Both Kavinace supplements contain phenibut (listed on the label as  4-amino-3-phenylbutyric acid).

Phenibut works with the brain’s GABA receptors. GABA and other neurotransmitters play a key role to reduce anxiety and promote sleep. Phenibut unlike straight GABA,  effectively crosses the challenge of the blood-brain-barrier.

GABA is the brain’s primary inhibitory neurotransmitter. Its main role is to calm the central nervous system by neutralizing the effects of glutamate, an excitatory neurotransmitter. 

Every night before bed I took:

Not only did this work, but I had zero “hangover” (drowsy) effect the next day. When I woke up in the middle of the night I took one or two Kavinace and one Adrenal Rebuilder. Fifteen to 30 minutes later I was fast asleep until the next morning. 

*It’s recommended people limit phenibut use to two to three times a week and take a “vacation” (come off it for a period of time). 

FDA issues warning letter. Kavinace and Ultra Kavinace are no longer available. 

The FDA recently issued a warning letter to companies who sell supplements that contain phenibut. The warning is regarding labeling phenibut or phenibut formulation as a “dietary supplement” vs. what it actually is, a nootropic.

Last week I called NeuroScience, the company that makes Kavinace supplements. The representative told me they’re reformulating all Kavinace products for release in July 2019.

Update: 7/23/19. I spoke to a rep from the company. The Kavinace reformulation will be released within a week or so after undergoing internal quality control. It will be an emulsion (thick liquid) and will not contain phenibut. It will however, work with the GABA (calming) pathways in the brain.

The replacements will not however, contain phenibut (labeled as 4-amino-3-phenylbutyric acid). This is a major disappointment because unlike many GABA agonists, phenibut effectively crosses the challenging blood-brain-barrier. 

Alternatives to Kavinace and Kavinace Ultra PM. This is what I tested.

I seriously panicked when I found out Kavinace products were pulled from the market. So I did some research and found this article by Dr. Davidson. She recommends two supplements called Cerevive and PharmaGaba. 

I contacted Dr. Davidson and she suggested people who have severe sleep issues  “layer” (take both) supplements at the same time.  

Please bear in mind that every-body and brain and sleep challenge is unique. If something doesn’t work for me, it might work for you.

Be sure to read both positive and negative Amazon product reviews.  

So, as I mentioned except for a few years ago, I generally don’t have problems falling asleep. My issue is waking up too early or falling back to sleep (sleep maintenance due to adrenal fatigue). 

Regardless of which sleep supplement I decide to test, I always take the following before bed:

~ One capsule of prescribed bioidentical progesterone (compounded by a verified compounding pharmacist).

~ One tablet of Dr. Wilson’s Adrenal Rebuilder 

~ Two 500mg capsules of Pure Encapsulations tryptophan (Pure Encapsulations is a stellar brand).

~ Three sprays Ancient Minerals magnesium applied topically to my arms or legs (and/or 2 capsules of Pure Encapsulations magnesium glycinate).

This is what I’ve tried so far (as of 6/18/19):

X CereVive – 2 capsules. Didn’t work. I was already a bit skeptical because this product while impressive with a number of sleep-promoting ingredients, has tyrosine. Tyrosine is an amino acid involved in the production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter involved with drive and motivation (daytime behaviors). When I contacted Dr. Davidson she told me CereVive works well as a sleep-aid for many of her patients.  She suggested if I can tolerate it to gradually increase to 4 capsules before bedtime. No thank you! Maybe it’s a phenomenal daytime mood-booster but it’s not right for me as a sleep aid.

X Thorne Pharma Gaba – 1 capsule 250 mg. Didn’t work. I woke up after a few hours and even after I added two 100mg of Natural Factors chewable Pharma Gaba I couldn’t fall back to sleep.  I like that Natural Factors is chewable (works faster) and comes in 100mg which allows you to start low and add more in the middle of the night. 

Both CereVive and Pharma Gaba. Didn’t work. This combo has a boatload of sleep-promoting ingredients.  GABA, L-theanine, 5-HTP, as well as a number of vitamins and minerals to improve the synthesis of the neurotransmitters. This goes to show you, more is necessarily better. Getting to the root cause of your insomnia is.  In case you’re interested: “What is Gaba vs l-theanine?”

NeuroScience Alpha Gaba PM (AGPM) –  2 capsules. Pretty good. This is NeuroScience’s current replacement for Kavinace products. The first time I took it I woke up a few hours later. But, I tried this before I got back on my adrenal fatigue protocol. After I started taking Dr. Wilson’s adrenal fatigue vitamins three times a day for several days, I found that AGPM worked better.  Not as well as Kavinace Ultra PM (oh how I miss you) but pretty good.

(I recently called NeuroScience and told the (very helpful) rep that their new sleep formula Alpha Gaba PM didn’t (initially) work very well. She told me, “Most people have found it takes about 2 weeks to work.”)

AGPM is an impressive formula. It contains 400 mg of l-theanine (a pretty hefty dosage), 3 mg of melatonin, and a proprietary blend of the herbs valerian, lemon balm and 5-HTP.  5-HTP is a precursor to serotonin, a sleep/mood neurotransmitter. 

So why didn’t these sleep supplements work as well as I hoped?

  1. Not enough of the active ingredient (GABA, l-theanine) is penetrating the blood-brain-barrier and/or they’re missing critical co-factors that increase bioavailability. 
  2. These sleep supplements don’t directly address my underlying issue, adrenal fatigue. 

*If you have adrenal fatigue it’s essential you support your adrenal glands all day long, every day. You can’t simply take herbs or supplements that boost the neurotransmitters GABA and serotonin at night and hope to avoid a 3am cortisol spike (or nighttime hypogylcemia which will wake you up. Hypoglycemia and AF are related). 

When I started testing these new supplements first night I woke up in the middle of the night. I took more supplements and read a book for about two hours. Nothing.

The more anxious I got, the more awake I felt (cortisol!). Frustrated I just sat on my porch with my head in my hands with flashbacks of my horrible insomnia days.  I finally fell asleep after taking 1mg of Klonipin prescribed by my holistic MD to use strictly for sleep emergencies (benzodiazepine drugs such as Klonipin are highly addictive and build tolerance quickly). 

So what did work? 

Addressing my adrenal fatigue. I was so disappointed the new supplements didn’t work. I sat down and thought about what was probably going on, what I’ve learned after five years of researching sleep. Adrenal fatigue.

I was already extremely anxious because my perfect Kavinace Ultra PM was pulled off the market. Then when I tried new sleep supplements and none of them worked, I got more anxious.  You know the deal by now, more anxious = higher cortisol = crappy sleep.

What I did to get back to sleep:   

  1. On day one I followed Dr. Wilson’s mild adrenal fatigue recovery protocol, although I adapted it a bit: 
    ~ 1 tablet Adrenal Rebuilder. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, bedtime.
    ~ 1 tablet Dr. Wilson’s Adrenal Vitamin C. Breakfast, lunch, dinner.  
    ~ 1 tablet Dr. Wilson’s Super Adrenal Stress Formula. Breakfast, lunch.      dinner. 
    ~ 10 drops in water of Dr. Wilson’s Herbal HPA breakfast and dinner. 
  2. At bedtime I took one 200mg soft gel of Sports Research L-Theanine  (I only use Suntheanine™ l-theanine). 
  3. As always I took my usual biodentical progesterone, tryptophan and topical magnesium.

The results?

I went to bed at 10:30pm. I woke up at briefly at 5:30am, took one Adrenal Rebuilder, rolled over and went back to sleep until 7:30am. I couldn’t believe it, I almost cried! 

So supporting my adrenal glands throughout the day stopped the middle-of-night cortisol spike. 

Gaba Complex  Worked. Recently someone responded to this post that  Gaba Complex works very well for her sleep issues. But Gaba Complex has phenibut (pulled by the FDA but still available on Amazon as of this writing). I ordered a bottle and tried it. I slept well but was drowsy the next day.  So the next time I took one capsule instead of the recommended two. I woke up in the middle of the night and took one more capsule along with one Adrenal Rebuilder. I slept okay, not fully awake, but not fast asleep either. 

When I called the company that makes Gaba Complex, Natural Creations, I asked a very informative gentleman named Bill how much phenibut Gaba Complex contains (I want to be careful). 

He told me 400mg which surprised me. I expected higher. Kavinace Ultra PM contains 625mg with zero hangover effect the next day. Bill explained that it’s not just how much GABA agonist a supplement contains, it’s also the combination of co-factors that help GABA work (penetrate the blood-brain-barrier). 

(Natural Creations, like NeuroScience, is in the process of reformulating their GABA Complex.) 

So that’s my journey. Treating adrenal fatigue to cure my insomnia. It’s a process. 

And truth be told, as someone who works out rigorously, stays up too late on the weekends and loves her wine (all of the above are taboo during adrenal fatigue treatment), some of my sleep issues are a direct result of my own behaviors, over and beyond my pituitary disorder. 

I’m still in the process of testing various sleep supplements that will keep me asleep for at least 7 hours.  But most importantly I’m back to treating my adrenal fatigue. 

Please let me know what’s working for you. 

Wishing you betters zzz’s, more restful days and great joy. 

Laura

Resources: 

Integrative Psychiatry  Provides at home testing, consultation by a nurse practitioner and products. 

ZRT Labs Offers home test kits (I strongly recommend working with a health practitioner to interpret results and design a treatment plan). 

NeuroScience NeuroScience offers proprietary blends of amino acids designed specifically to provide precursors for nervous system molecules called neurotransmitters.  7/23/19. I spoke to a rep from the company. Their Kavinace reformulation will be released within a week or so after undergoing internal quality control. It will not contain phenibut, but it will work with the GABA (calming) pathways in the brain.

Find a health practitioner who understands and treats adrenal fatigue

Supplements I mentioned:

Adrenal:

Dr. Wilson’s Adrenal Rebuilder 

Dr. Wilson’s Adrenal Vitamin C 

Dr. Wilson’s Super Adrenal Stress Formula  Dr. Wilson’s Herbal HPA

Pure Encapsulations tryptophan

Pure Encapsulations magnesium glycinate

Ancient Minerals magnesium

Premier pink Himalayan salt

Sleep:

Alpha Gaba PM 

Gaba Complex 

CereVive

Thorne Pharma Gaba

Natural Factors chewable Pharma Gaba

L-Theanine(Suntheanine™) 

Sleep Time 

Phenibut by LiftMode

More: New York Times: Insomnia Can Kill You 

                                           Getting a Good Night’s Sleep Without Drugs

 

Disclaimer: Please note I don’t recommend any products or service I haven’t  personally tried or that receive positive reviews from Amazon. Laura-Owens.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to [insert the applicable site name (amazon.com or whatever).

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

postpartum depression

The split mind of postpartum depression

Originally published on Motherwell 

In a quiet, distant voice I tell my husband Mark that I want to die. Not exactly dead, I clarify, but not this. I tell him not to worry. I tell him love, guilt, duty will always matter more. I promise. But he has to understand, he has to reconcile what I’m saying with the fact that I love him, that I love our life together and our beautiful daughter. “Mark, do you know what I’m saying?”

Before breakfast I sing our daughter to sleep, rhyming her name with nonsensical Seuss-y words. I smile. The real kind, reflexive, above the sadness… Read full essay

 

Resources for help and healing: 

 

The Postpartum Stress Center

Postpartum Support International 

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The day I realized I pushed my college daughter too far

Related image

Originally published on Grown and Flown

One of the few demands I gave Taylor when she started college (besides work hard, be safe and guard your Solo cup at parties) was that she graduate on time. No child of mine was going to be a professional college student, someone who never quite figures out what she wants. Except that Taylor’s never given me reason to believe she’s that person. Never.

Once when she was three and still solidly attached to the pacifier, her front teeth pushing out, I bribed her for the umpteenth time with a toy if she gave it up forever. “Honey I’ll let you spend up to $20 if you give it up.” Instead of our usual futile tug of war, she looked up at me with steady blues eyes, smiled sweetly and handed it right over. “I don’t need it anymore, Mommy, and you don’t have to buy me an expensive toy, “ she said. Fully ready and proud…  Read full essay on Grown and Flown

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Getting into college

4 parent myths about college admissions

Originally published on Mother.ly

If you have a college-bound kid, I know you’re feeling it. The anxiety. The competition. The intensity. The bombardment of well-meaning but sometimes conflicting advice from other parents. I almost lost my mind trying to keep up with the list of do’s and don’ts of college admissions.

The fact is, requirements vary radically across campuses. Some schools focus on the SAT, some on the ACT, some on both. Some want stellar essays, some really don’t care.

But there’s a few general parent misperceptions swirling about that are worth correcting.

Want the full article?

I know it’s annoying that I’m re-directing you, but I have to send you where the article was originally published. 

More: How to Choose a Major: A Complete Guide [25+ Expert Tips & Advice]

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Jesus

Losing her religion

First published on Purple Clover.

I have no doubt I helped destroy my daughter’s faith in God, although I still believe.

As Tina grew up, my higher power shifted from a His Will Be Done Christian to a genderless “divine force in the universe” with good intentions and a wry sense of humor. It’s pretty hard for kids to grab on to God when God is radiant healing energy crossed with Mother Theresa and George Carlin.

Tina insists losing religion isn’t my fault, that she started questioning back in middle school. She tells me not to worry, that she finds hope and comfort knowing she can “question everything in the universe” and then sit back and “consider the infinite possibilities.”

Wonder is her worship now, and I’m thrilled she has the same unquenchable awe I had at her age. But when Tina told me she didn’t believe in God anymore I was heartbroken. I felt like I’d stolen something from her, like I gradually chipped away at her faith until she had nothing left but skepticism…

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Have You Lost Friends or Family Because of Politics?

Don't make me unfriend you | Gina Trapani | Flickr

After Trump won we turned on each other and we’ve never been the same as a nation.

If we see someone wearing a MAGA hat or Biden 2020 shirt we know that person is one of them. A traitor to our values and to all we hold dear.

I don’t think I’m exaggerating.

In one night our good friend of 20 years or sweet Aunt Alice turned into either a “namby-pamby liberal snowflake” or a “heartless racist Trump-lover.”

Remember when you used to have friendly conversations with that guy at the gym and you never thought twice about whether he was a Republican or Democrat? Who cared?

But then after the 2016 election he made an offhanded comment like “well you know how it is with that lyin’ Hillary (or Trump)” and suddenly you knew all you needed to know about that guy.

Our candidate now defines who we are, or so we think.

Listen I know all the reasons Trump won. Some of it was the Dem’s fault. I know all the reasons his fans are doubling down on their Trump love. It’s what we do when we’re attacked. The more we hate your guy, the more you love your guy.  

Because if we hate your guy it must mean we hate all that you stand for. But it’s just not that simple.

You’re Mars and I’m Venus

In the first year or so after the election it was all the rage with pundits and town hall moderators to insist that we at least hear each other out. The idea was that if we at least listened to the other side maybe we’d come to some new understanding (if not agreement) and stop screaming.

Doesn’t that sound nice?

In theory I still believe that, but at this point we can’t even politely agree to disagree like we did BT (before Trump).

The best we can do now is smile, nod and zip it. Like the Hippocratic oath, at a minimum “do no harm.”

My stepmom, a lifelong Democrat activist thinks it’s tragic that we can’t bring up politics at the table anymore. I don’t think we’re doomed to never again politely talk partisan politics, but while Trump is still on the world stage we can’t come to the table hold hands and have happy happy epiphanies about Trump vs — everyone else.

The best we can do right now is agree that you’re Mars and I’m Venus (remember that book for struggling couples?). And then we need to move on and talk about things that have nothing to do with politics.

But unfortunately the pandemic is all we’re talking about right now.

I get it. It’s a really scary time. But even a pandemic that should have us “all in it together” has turned into another divisive political bloodbath.

Defend your values, don’t defend your candidate

Last month I told my daughter about a friend who I found out from another friend, has some pretty prejudice, maybe even racist views about people of color. I was pretty shocked and disappointed. My daughter said to me, “Mom, you need to stop being friends with her, she’s racist!”

But it’s just not that simple.

I really like this friend. She’s thoughtful, nice, a good listener and really fun. She has a good heart although we see the world really differently. I mean like her version is somewhere in the 1950’s where all (good) moms stay at home.

Now, if she ever says something supremely judgmental or racist in front of me I’ll be sure to calmly but firmly tell her how I feel. I have no problem standing up to my values.

But if my friend mentions she likes Trump (she hasn’t) I’ll just smile and move on. I won’t talk about Trump with people who love him.

The mere mention of DJT guarantees the room will go cold. People squirm, they look away, the fun dies and whatever relationship you had with that person is now a little awkward and a little tainted.

I can’t tell you how many people in the last four years told me that the election destroyed relationships, or at the very least put a serious wedge in between. Someone got political at the holiday table, the insults flew and someone unfriended someone or stormed out of the house.

Personally I never had an issue (until last year, more on that later). But it’s only because I make a point to never talk partisan politics in person.

But I do post politics on my Facebook page. All the time. I don’t attack friends who voted for Trump (but I do ask why? why?). I unmercifully go after Trump and his long list of GOP enablers.

Okay so about six months ago a close relative who’d never commented on any of my political posts decided she’d had enough of my Trump rants. Fair enough. I figure if I put my opinions out there some people will want to debate me.

But the problem was this close relative didn’t want to debate Trump’s policies. She wanted to rile me up and get personal.

And she wanted to get personal because I told her that I’m open to debating policy but I’m not open to debating Trump’s character. That pissed her off. Because if someone attacks our beloved candidate’s character, doesn’t it feel like they’re attacking our character?

In my view Trump’s sorely lacking in the character department. My relative 100% disagreed, citing as proof that Trump’s done plenty of good for the nation, that his wife loves him and that his kids turned out really well (I’ll leave all that alone).

But our Facebook disagreement really got going after I posted an article about Pence where he said we need to “spend more time on our knees than on the internet.” I wrote: “hee hee I know what he means, still this is funny stuff.”

Okay I know, not exactly mature. But sometimes childish irreverent humor is all I have left to survive the insanity.

So then one of my friends commented that “Pence is an ass” to which I “liked” his comment (Pence isn’t an ass, he’s a prince compared to Trump but his archaic LGBTQ views are indeed, asinine).

My relative was incensed that I supported my friend’s “ass” comment although her response to my friend was: “You’re an ass.” To which my friend wrote “You’re a troll.”

Yeah it went like that. So I stayed out of it.

Why I had to finally unfriend my relative

I tried to rationally explain my views about Trump and Pence. After a few futile back and forths my relative posted, “I’m bored now” adding a bunch of laughing emoji’s.

She posted laughing emoji’s in response to my sincere effort to explain my view on Trump which is first and foremost to focus on his character, and then on his policies (which I also don’t agree).

She wrote that her husband (who I’ve always adored) was also laughing at me. She said I needed to lighten up and that I had no sense of humor since Hillary lost. Gaslighting, however unintended.

I was so hurt and angry that I decided I had no choice but to unfriend my relative. People unfriend people all the time. I don’t. She’s the only person I’ve ever kicked off my page and it felt absolutely horrible.

But to stop the madness I had to do it. She’d started posting articles on my timeline about guns and Trump’s accomplishments saying that “my Trump haters and I needed to read this.”

When I told her it’s not cool to post opposing articles directly on someone’s timeline she said, “I don’t don’t care. You can do it on my page.”

I finally told her “clearly we shouldn’t have a relationship on Facebook.” Since then it seems we have no relationship which is pretty sad but I guess it’s what she wants.

My relative couldn’t separate the personal from the political so after 50 years of love and memories we’re done.

I decided a long time ago to never Facebook friend people. I mean why subject the unsuspecting into my world of inappropriate humor and Trump-bashing?

But if someone says she’s going to friend me I warn her that my page is stuffed with politics and super controversial stuff that might very well offend or piss her off.

If she still wants to friend me fine, she’s been warned.

Here’s my feeling about my Facebook posts:

It’s my page.

If you disagree with what I post then by all means present a counterpoint. I really don’t want to exist in a bubble which is why I watch Fox News sometimes or post Fox articles that seem balanced.

But I insist on two rules if you comment on my posts:

  1. Use facts and credible sources. I recommend checking sources for bias and factual rating on Mediabiasfactcheck.com or allsides.com.
  2. Be respectful. No “libtard” or “mask-wearing sheep morons.” This of course goes for everyone. No “racist Trump-loving stupid assholes.” And you won’t catch me insulting Trump’s hair, tan, body etc. Granted insulting looks is one of his favorite past times but I don’t want to act like Trump. Going low diminishes credibility and the argument. If you want to guarantee the other side will tune you out or get nasty — sling personal insults.

You also have a few other options if my posts make you spitting mad:

Delete, scroll or unfriend me.

I honestly don’t mind if someone unfriends me. Do it loudly or do it silently. We can still be friends in person if you want. Easy enough. 

So I’m wondering, have you lost any family or friends because of your pro or con feelings about Trump? What happened? Or have you made a pact to avoid talking politics with friends and family?  Please share your story. No judgment.

More: Trump Nation. Yes We’re Divided, But You and I Are Fine.

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Iodine is critical

Why Iodine is Critical to Good Health.

Iodine is critical

Iodine is needed for more than the thyroid. The thyroid only holds less than 1% of the body’s iodine store; the skin holds 20%, the breasts hold 5%. Our whole body needs iodine.¹ – Dr. David Brownstein author of “Iodine: Why You Need It. Why You Can’t Live Without It.” 

You probably think of iodine as that red-rust-colored liquid your mom dabbed on your skinned knee. But iodine is so much more than just an anti-bacterial.

Maybe you’ve noticed these salt box disclaimers,  “This salt provides iodine necessary nutrient” or “This salt does not contain iodide, a necessary nutrient.”

Because not only is iodine a necessary nutrient, but more than two billion people worldwide are deficient. (Read here to learn why). 

Iodine is an essential mineral commonly found in seafood. Your body needs it in order to produce thyroid hormones and reverse the effects of a slow metabolism.  Iodine deficiency can lead to hypothyroidism (low thyroid hormones).  It’s critical for fetal brain development, immune support, and endocrine gland functions including the breasts, ovaries, uterus and prostate.

Public health experts report that adding small amounts of iodine back to salt may be one of the simplest and most cost-effective steps to tackle Iodine Deficiency Disorders (IDD) in over 118 countries.

Iodine is also gaining attention for it’s use in cancer prevention, and in some cases, cancer treatment.

“The good thing about iodine is, it has apoptotic properties,” says Dr. David Brownstein, a Board-Certified family physician and Medical Director of the Center for Holistic Medicine in West Bloomfield, MI.  “Meaning it can stop a cancer cell from just continually dividing, dividing, dividing until it kills somebody. Iodine can stop this continuum wherever it catches it and hopefully reverse it, but at least put the brakes on what is happening.”

How to use iodine

How much to use and what form depends.  I strongly advise working with a holistic health practitioner familiar with iodine supplementation.  

You can apply iodine directly to your skin or you can drink iodine mixed with a small amount of filtered water. 

My doctor told me to rub Wellness Resources Iosol Iodine drops directly on my neck because I have a lot of thyroid nodules (I recently had the largest biopsied and thankfully it was benign).

So this is what I do:

I rub one to three (small) drops of iodine on my throat in the morning and one to three before dinner. I used to use more based on my doctor’s recommendation.  Five drops 2x a day plus one I-Throid capsule in the afternoon. But it turned out that amount was too much for me. 

With that high dose sometimes I experienced adrenal crash (felt weak) or had  mild heart racing.  Eight years ago I was diagnosed with severe adrenal fatigue. I’m much better now but I have to stay on the low side of iodine dosing. 

So, how much you use is highly individual which is why I strongly recommend working with an integrative/holistic health practitioner. 

Okay but here’s the irony. My doctor put me on the high iodine dose that caused problems. She told me she thought my stronger adrenal glands could take it (They couldn’t). So while I always recommend people work with their health practitioner, ultimately you need to listen to your own body. 

I quickly lost weight with iodine 

Anyway, when I first started using iodine I didn’t notice anything. But a couple weeks later I starting losing weight. I lost a total of about five to seven pounds until I leveled off.  I never weigh myself  but I easily dropped a pant size without changing a thing (I work I out six days a week and eat pretty healthy). 

Wellness Resources Iosol Iodine dosing guide:

“The most commonly used dose of Iosol Iodine is 1 drop of the preparation in a few ounces of water, taken once a day. Each drop has 1.8 mg of iodine or 1200% of the governments recommended daily value. If you would like to get only 100% of the daily value then take 1 tsp of a mixture of 1 drop of Iosol Iodine in 2 ounces of water; however, most people like taking more than this.”

There’s quite a few forms of iodine available. I don’t mean brands, I mean forms. Lugol’s vs iosol vs nascent. 

Wellness Resources claims that iosol iodine offers superior water solubility and therefore superier bioavailability (the body’s ability to absorb and efficiently use a substance).

“There are two sources of iodine in the Iosol formulation. One is from kelp. Iodine in kelp is naturally in the form of potassium iodide. However, potassium iodide is not very soluble in water and may be difficult for your body to easily use. For example, if you get liquid potassium iodide on your clothes it causes a permanent stain of red. If you get Iosol Iodine on your clothes the red will evaporate out in a few minutes or readily come out with washing. In fact, potassium iodide has been shown to congest the thyroid gland when taken in high doses and is how Hashimotos thyroiditis was first discovered (Japanese citizens consuming too many sea vegetables). This is why I don’t use potassium iodide.

During the production of Iosol, iodine is extracted from kelp and made into pure iodine crystals. This is not potassium iodide, rather it is an unbound form of iodine.

The second form of iodine used is ammonium iodide, a form that readily dissolves in water. These two forms of iodine are combined in a proprietary manner in a base of vegetable glycerin.

Ammonium iodide is a combination of the mineral iodine and ammonium (NH4). This is a synthesized compound, not derived from a food source. It has superior bioavailability as the iodine readily disassociates from the ammonium upon exposure to water, producing a free iodide ion exactly what your body would like to use in metabolism. ” Wellness Resource website. 

Whatever form you choose, start low and go slow.  

Want to read my full article on Whole Life Times? 

¹Interview with Dr. David Brownstein: MD. Board certified family physician, integrative practitioner and an expert in thyroid disease, hormones and iodine

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