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By The Nutrition Shoppe, Feb 17 2017 09:36PM

By TAP Integrative

Major depressive disorder, or depression, is conventionally treated with a combination of counseling and pharmaceutical interventions. Most patients do not achieve full resolution of their symptoms, however, and some discontinue medications because of side effects. Interest in natural alternatives is particularly high for patients with depression, with one study reporting that as many as 50% of women with depression seek complementary and alternative options.

Curcumin (derived from Curcuma longa) and saffron (Crocus sativus) are dietary supplements that have been studied for their anti-depressant effects. Meta-analyses conclude that curcumin and saffron are more effective than placebo for the treatment of major depressive disorder, and several studies have found saffron to be equally as effective as antidepressant medications. Previous studies, however, have been limited by their duration (lasting no longer than 8 weeks), small sample sizes and use of similar dosages across studies.

The current randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, published in 2016 in the Journal of Affective Disorders, evaluated the effects of curcumin and saffron in patients with major depressive disorder over 12 weeks. A total of 123 participants were assigned to 1 of 4 treatment arms: placebo, low-dose curcumin extract (250mg, as BCM-95® twice daily), high-dose curcumin extract (500mg, as BCM-95® twice daily), or combined low-dose curcumin extract plus saffron (15mg bid). Curcumin capsules were standardized to 88% curcuminoids, and saffron capsules were standardized to >3.5% lepticrosalides. All capsules were supplied by Dolcas-Biotech LLT (New Jersey, USA). Outcome measures were scores on the Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology (IDS-SR30) and Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI).

Participants in all treatment arms experienced significantly greater improvements in depressive symptoms and significantly greater improvements in state and trait anxiety than those in the placebo arm. A response rate, defined as >50% improvement in symptoms, was achieved in 28% of those on active treatments and 13% of those on placebo (P = 0.31). However, this difference in response rates approached, but did not reach statistical significance. Of note, improvement in the placebo group plateaued after 4 weeks, whereas improvements in the active treatment groups persisted throughout the study. Additionally, there were no significant differences in outcomes between any of the treatment groups, suggesting that treatment efficacy was adequately achieved with the low-dose curcumin and that addition of saffron did not enhance treatment efficacy.


By The Nutrition Shoppe, Feb 2 2017 04:39PM

The last time you had a stomach bug, you probably didn't feel much like eating. This loss of appetite is part of your body's normal response to an illness but is not well understood. Sometimes eating less during illness promotes a faster recovery, but other times -- such as when cancer patients experience wasting -- the loss of appetite can be deadly.

Now, research from the Salk Institute shows how bacteria block the appetite loss response in their host to both make the host healthier and also promote the bacteria's transmission to other hosts. This surprising discovery, published in the journal Cell on January 26, 2017, reveals a link between appetite and infection and could have implications in treating infectious diseases, infection transmission and appetite loss associated with illness, aging, inflammation or medical interventions (like chemotherapy).

"It's long been known that infections cause loss of appetite but the function of that, if any, is only beginning to be understood," says Janelle Ayres, assistant professor at Salk Institute's Nomis Foundation Laboratories for Immunobiology and Microbial Pathogenesis.

Mice orally infected with the bacteria Salmonella Typhimurium typically experience appetite loss and eventually become much sicker as the bacteria become more virulent -- spreading from the intestines to other tissues in the body. Ayres' team tested different conditions in the infected mice and found that sick mice that consumed extra calories despite their appetite loss actually survived longer. It turns out this survival wasn't due to a more active immune response by well-fed animals (as measured by levels of the bacteria in the host). Instead, it was because the Salmonella weren't spreading outside of the intestines and throughout the body when the mice ate more, which enabled the animals to stay healthy despite infection. Even more surprising, the Salmonella were acting on the intestine to try to suppress the appetite loss in the host.

The finding was initially puzzling: why would the bacteria become less virulent and not spread to other areas in the body when nutrients were more plentiful? And why would Salmonella actively promote this condition? It turns out the bacteria were making a tradeoff between virulence, which is the ability of a microbe to cause disease within one host, and transmission, which is its ability to spread and establish infections between multiple hosts.

"What we found was that appetite loss makes the Salmonella more virulent, perhaps because it needs to go beyond the intestines to find nutrients for itself. This increased virulence kills its host too fast, which compromises the bacteria's ability to spread to new hosts," explains Sheila Rao, a Salk research associate and the first author on the study. "The tradeoff between transmission and virulence has not been appreciated before -- it was previously thought that virulence and transmission were coupled."

When the host ate more and survived longer during infection, the Salmonella benefitted: bacteria in those mice were able to spread via feces to other animals and increase its transmission between hosts, as compared to bacteria in mice who didn't eat and died sooner due to heightened bacterial virulence.

The researchers discovered that, to halt the appetite-loss response and boost transmission between hosts, Salmonella produces a molecule called SlrP, which blocks activation of an immune protein (cytokine) in the intestines. This cytokine typically communicates with the brain's appetite center, called the hypothalamus, to prompt the host to lose its appetite during infection. The team found that mice infected with Salmonella that couldn't make SlrP ate less food while infected, lost more weight and died faster than control mice.

Though the same gut-brain pathway tied to appetite loss exists in the human as in mice, Ayres cautions that infection responses are dependent on many factors and that whether eating -- or fasting -- during illness can improve one's health will depend in large part on what the causative agent of the infection is. Her team is planning to search the human microbiome (the collection of bacteria that live in people's bodies) to find other microbes that might have a similar effect on this pathway and explore those for new therapies tied to appetite loss and treating disease. The lab also wants to investigate whether drugs could be used to turn up or down the sickness-induced appetite-loss pathway that SlrP targets.

"Now that we'd identified this mechanism that regulates appetite, we want to turn it on the flip side and see if we can decrease appetite via this mechanism to help in cases of metabolic disease," says Ayres.

The discovery also points to the tantalizing possibility of treating infectious diseases with approaches other than antibiotics, such as nutritional intervention. "Finding alternatives to antibiotics is incredibly important as these drugs have already encouraged the evolution of deadly antibiotic-resistant strains," says Ayres. In the United States alone, two million people annually become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics and at least 23,000 people die each year as a direct result of these infections, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

By The Nutrition Shoppe, Jan 2 2017 06:09PM

1) Lowering Total Risk of ALL Major Disease!…/a-handful-of-nuts-reduces-all-major…

2) Saving Your Lungs and Lowering Risks of Cancer…/new-years-resolution-show-number-2-…

3) Saving Your Vision and Skin Tone…/part-3-in-our-new-years-resolution-…

4) Boosting Your Metabolism for Weight Loss…/new-years-resolution-show-number-4a…

5) Lowering Cardio Risk Factors…/new-years-resolution-number-5-addin…


By The Nutrition Shoppe, Dec 8 2016 09:37PM

By Chef Lauren Cox, Closer to Your Food

The holidays are almost here, coupled with the stress and anxiety that can go with them. Now that your Halloween decorations are packed away and the weather is changing, the countdown to the remaining holidays has begun. This time of year many thoughts usually flood my mind:

“Uh oh! My toddler ate so much candy, now he’s going to want to eat nothing but sugar!”

“I have to cook Thanksgiving dinner for HOW many people?”

“Oh no, the family is getting together and there will be alcoholic beverages.”

“How am I going to afford buying Christmas presents for everybody?”

Sometimes the holidays are just overwhelming, for many reasons. Here’s the kicker – we create the stress. After years of panic over the holidays and trying to put together the perfect event, I’ve realized that it’s not worth the stress. From a working mom’s perspective, here are a few strategies that I’ve used to tackle the holidays that I hope may be useful to you.

Food for All

Let’s face the facts, Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners are often massive dinners for a large number of people. When you’re faced with the task of hosting for a holiday, here’s my biggest tip – DELEGATE.

Trust me, your guests will be more than happy to take on responsibilities, making Thanksgiving potluck-style and saving your sanity. Put your auntie who makes fabulous pies in charge of bringing dessert and ask your dad to bring those great potatoes. This way you can focus on one or two things (like the bird and stuffing), and do them really well.

Deck the Halls

Decorate ahead of time. I know you may be obsessed with having the perfect tablescape that you saw on Pinterest, but in reality, just do what works for you. Stop by a craft store and snatch up some dried corn and fall garlands, or a few Christmas/Hanukkah sparkly things. Sprinkle them down your table the day before your event, set the plates and silverware, and you’re done!

Worried about your home looking clean for the holidays? Maybe we don’t want to say it out loud, but many of us freak out at the mere thought of our mother-in-law inspecting the dust on our shelves or the dirty floor from our pets and/or kids.

One solution? Hire a cleaning service! This is one of the few times out of the year that it is worth the investment because it takes the stress of cleaning out of your hands. Prefer to tackle the cleaning yourself? Plan ahead by breaking up the cleaning into phases (a room-a-day is a good gauge). The peace of mind a clean home brings is priceless.

Leave the Big Belly for Santa

Holiday over-eating is an issue. Instinctively, when the days are shorter and the weather gets cooler, our brains tell us to eat more. Talk to your healthcare practitioner about checking your hormonal balance early in the fall to avoid the cortisol crashes and ask about supportive supplements such as chromium or other products that help keep you full and your appetite at bay. During this time of year I ensure to have plenty of fiber, B vitamins, and some caffeine from green tea to help me keep my appetite in check.

Let the Ball Drop, Along With the Poor Choices

At the end of the holiday season comes the New Year. Remember to be good to yourself. Don’t allow the holidays to punish your body, or give you an excuse to give in to every craving. Instead, think about the holidays as an opportunity to set yourself up for an exciting beginning to 2017.

Mindfully commit to making good food and positive lifestyle choices this season, but remember to keep everything in balance. If you pigged out on pumpkin pie, take an extra-long walk in the cool fall air the next morning, or hit your regular workout routine a little harder.

My final holiday tip is to be mindful of “being in the moment.” Have you ever gotten through a big event and the next day said to yourself, “where did the day go?” It’s because in the midst of cooking, cleaning and checking our phone updates, sometimes we forget to be present in the moment. Take the time to sit, relax and reflect on what you’re grateful for this season and you’ll have memories to enjoy for years to come.

Closer to Your Food is a wellness blog focused on eating and cooking for health and sustainability with recipes and lifestyle tips formulated around a plant-based diet and home-grown local foods. Chef Lauren Cox holds a B.A. from the le Cordon Bleu in Culinary Management with over 8 years of fine dining experience in private dining, catering and Michelan star restaurants.

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


1200 HWY 74S Ste 3


By The Nutrition Shoppe, Dec 6 2016 05:39PM

Reprinted from YES! Magazine December 2016

Dr. Daphne Miller Yes MagazineGardening is my Prozac. The time I dedicate to training tomato vines or hacking at berry bushes seems to help me stave off feelings of sadness or dread and calm the chatter in my mind. My vegetable beds have even buoyed me through more acute stressors, such as my medical internship, my daughter’s departure for college, and a loved one’s cancer treatment. I’m not alone in appreciating the antidepressant and anti-anxiety effects of gardening—countless blogs are dedicated to this very subject, and a rash of new studies has documented that spending time around greenery can lead to improved mental health.

The idea that microbes in our environment might impact our health was not new to me. It’s well-established that the microbes in soil enhance the nutritional value of food and, as found in studies of farm children in Bavaria and among the Indiana Amish, improve immune function. (Researchers were finding that exposure to a diversity of microbes early in life led to fewer allergies.) But garden microbes acting as mood enhancers—well, this was news to me.“How does this work?” I asked Jill Litt several years ago when I first became interested in what I call gardening’s “bio-euphoric” effect and was wondering whether to prescribe this activity to my depressed patients. Litt, a professor at the University of Colorado School of Public Health, was studying gardening’s impact on a variety of health outcomes—including mood disorders. She rattled off a list of possible explanations, including that gardens create community, encourage physical activity, offer a bounty of nutrient-rich food, and expose one to Vitamin D-producing sunshine, which helps regulate serotonin, the “happiness” neurotransmitter. But then Litt surprised me by adding, “Also there are the microbes themselves. We have no idea what they are doing.”

I soon discovered that there is, in fact, evidence to back up this idea. It’s a smattering of data, and most of it has been collected on our distant cousins, the mice, but it is still compelling.

This investigation into the soil-mood connection began, like much of science, quite serendipitously. British researchers were testing whether immune stimulation with Mycobacterium vaccae, a harmless microbe found in soil and water and potentially on unwashed vegetables, might help treat lung cancer in humans. While they discovered unchanged life expectancy in the subjects treated with the M. vaccae, they were surprised that these patients scored much higher on a standard quality-of-life questionnaire than the controls. Somehow the bug had enhanced their mood.

This finding inspired another researcher, Chris Lowry, a behavioral endocrinologist at the University of Colorado Boulder, to inject heat-killed M. vaccae into the bronchi of mice. The rodents, like the cancer patients, seemed to derive a psychological benefit from the treatment, exhibiting less depression and anxiety on a stressful “forced swim test.” In their article in Neuroscience, Lowry and his colleagues hypothesize that the immune reaction to M. vaccae activates the release of brain serotonin leading to reduced stress-related behavior.

Building on Lowry’s work, Susan Jenks and Dorothy Matthews, two researchers at Sage Colleges in Troy, New York, decided to administer M. vaccae to their mice and perform a new set of behavioral tests. Instead of using the heat-killed M. vaccae used in previous experiments, they cultured the live organism and fed it to the mice via a concoction of Wonderbread and peanut butter. It occurred to me that this exposure method most closely mirrored how I might come in contact with M. vaccae: by eating the casually washed greens that I regularly harvest from my backyard.

“It was just amazing,” Jenks said, discussing a maze test designed to expose rodents to stressful new situations. “We would place them in the maze and could clearly see that there were some mice doing better than others. We would think: ‘Is that the M. vaccae [mouse]?’ And sure enough it was.”

Forever in search of safe, low-tech solutions that I can offer my patients, I asked Jenks whether her experiment was essentially suggesting that M. vaccae exposure by eating backyard veggies or digging with glove-free hands could be a potential new antidepressant therapy.

“What our research suggests is that eating, touching, and breathing a soil organism may be tied to the development of our immune system and our nervous system. But you have to understand that we fed our mice much more of that organism than you are likely to find in a peck of dirt—it was more like a drug dose.”

In fact, an entire raised bed in my garden is unlikely to contain as much M. vaccae as what Jenks was serving her mice.

Still wanting a treatment I could offer my patients, I called Jack Gilbert, a marine microbial ecologist by training, who teaches at the University of Chicago. Gilbert co-founded the Earth Microbiome Project and American Gut, two ambitious collaborative projects seeking to understand how humans and other animals interact with their microbial environments. Gilbert had previously shared with me that his son’s autism diagnosis had prompted his interest in the potential neuroregulatory effects of microbes.

When I asked him what I might advise my patients based on these findings, he sighed.

“Every talk I give, there are parents that want something. I totally get it. We want that thing that will help our kids feel better.

“All this research is really fascinating, but we don’t have enough information to make any claims. If I were to say to everyone, ‘Move to a farm, buy a dog, and eat more raw veggies,’ those statements would be vacuous from an experimental or clinical perspective.”

Speaking with Jenks and Gilbert reminded me that M. vaccae is not an isolated therapy. In fact, it is just one of an enormous palette of microbes that have been interacting and coevolving with us since our earliest days. Our immunological and psychological well-being likely depends on more early and frequent exposure to a diverse group of bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and worms than it does on any one organism.

These creatures, which interact with us through our skin, lungs, and gut, are what Graham Rook, physician, microbiologist, and professor emeritus at University College London, refers to as “Old Friends.” I met Rook last year at an evolutionary medicine meeting at the University of Arizona where he presented a series of compelling studies in support of his “Old Friend” theory of immune dysregulation: that a mismatch between our DNA and our modern microbe-depleted environment is responsible for a recent increase in chronic health problems, including autoimmune diseases and depression.

So what to advise my patients? I agree with Jenks and Gilbert. Microbiome research is still in its infancy, and there is much to discover before we can make definitive prescriptions. But there is compelling evidence that we need a diversity of organisms found in animals, plants, soil, water, and air for optimal functioning of our immune and nervous systems. I now equate preserving ecological diversity in our surroundings with protecting our own health.

On a large scale, we can begin to do this by increasing the diversity of what we grow on our farms because agriculture, covering more than a third of the earth’s land surface, is an obvious reservoir for biodiversity. Our prevailing system of crop monoculture has severely limited the variety of organisms hiding beneath the soil, lying on the plants, and roaming the fields. The herbicides and pesticides used in monocultures narrow this spectrum further. We can start to shift to a more diversified system of farming by patronizing farms that grow a range of crops and by educating friends, neighbors, medical providers, and lawmakers about the health importance of this type of agriculture.

Even closer to home, perhaps the best place for us each to begin is with our own backyard plot or window box. Planting a rainbow of seeds, avoiding the use of garden chemicals, nourishing the soil with plant matter, digging with our hands, and eating the bounty—while not guaranteed to replace a pharmaceutical grade antidepressant—is a wonderful chance to hang out with “Old Friends.”

Dr. Daphne Miller wrote this article for How to Create a Culture of Good Health, the Winter 2016 issue of YES! Magazine.

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