My Experience with the Train Wrecker

31589824_10102096509660343_782335860698775552_nA fairly uncommon but interesting Pheasant Back mushroom (cerioporus squamosus) look-alike, Neolentinus lepidius, is commonly known as the Train Wrecker. From afar, the earth-toned feathered patterning on the cap may have you convinced you’ve spotted a Pheasant Back. It’s had me momentarily confused! Once you get closer you’ll notice the distinct differences, beginning with the observation that this mushroom has gills, where a pheasant back has pores. Where pheasant backs have a distinctive cucumber/watermelon scent, the train wrecker has a very pleasant, fresh anise aroma to it. Neolentinus lepidius also has a tough, ringed stem with scales that match that of the cap.

I tend to find that in Wisconsin the Train Wreckers fruit as Pheasant Backs are finishing up their spring season, but you still may find them side by side in the same habitat. The two specimens seen above were growing about 15 feet apart in Outagamie county the first week of June.

This fungi prefers pine, but gets its name from its fondness for old railroad ties and unbridled chaos. They are unlikely to cause train crashes today due to stronger chemicals being used on the wood to discourage fungal growth. Quite an impressive little mushroom, isn’t it?

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Photo credit: Rachael Young. Sheboygan, WI

Now I see quite a bit of contradictory opinions on whether or not it’s suitable for your dinner plate. It is considered to be edible, but very tough and not too pleasant. I do not find this mushroom in books often, so I also don’t have many opinions to go off of. Despite the fact that there are no recorded poisonings, it could easily contain hazardous chemicals if growing on treated wood so be cautious where you obtain it from if you plan on ingesting.

When I took this picture last year I wasn’t quite brave enough to try it, but when my spot fruits again this spring I certainly will be updating this article with my culinary experience (good or bad). Maybe with it being a cousin to shiitake I’ll be pleasantly surprised. Stay tuned!

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UPDATE: (June 3, 2018)

I was pleased to find a baby train wrecker fruiting today in this same spot, and we had the opportunity to taste it, fried up with butter and salt. We ate the caps only, as the stems are very tough.

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Is that a baby bump or did I eat too many mushrooms?

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My husband: “It tastes like every other mushroom I’ve ever had.”

Me: “It tastes like and has the texture of oysters!”

So, I must say, this fungi definitely is worth eating. Perhaps those who did not enjoy it had tasted specimens that were older and tougher. Either way, I enjoyed our experiment!

Warmly,

Megan Normansell, CHC, AADP, CFH

Certified Holistic Practitioner/Holistic Nutritionist/Herbalist/Wild Edibles Guide

Follow me on Facebook and Instagram for more recipes and healthy living ideas!

 

Interested in healing your body naturally?
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Copyright Megan Normansell 2018 All rights reserved. 

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Lentil Tacos with Creamy Avocado Lime Dressing

Trying to lose weight, reduce portions, reduce inflammation, regulate digestion, improve diabetes, treat anemia, increase energy, prevent cancer,  improve atherosclerosis, support heart health, help your nervous system, live longer, or grow a healthy baby? Lentils, a part of the human diet since Paleolithic times, may be your new best friend. This pulse even has more disease-fighting phenols than apples, cherries, plums, broccoli, cabbage, grapes, & onions.

Watch for my upcoming article on the scientifically proven health benefits of this nutritional powerhouse, but in the meantime- enjoy this delectable gluten free, high protein, & vegetarian dish!

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Filling Ingredients:

  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • I large tomato, cubed
  • 2 cups of cooked lentils
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp Himalayan salt
  • 2 cups of shredded red cabbage
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 4 medium carrots, shredded
  • Cilantro to garnish
  • ½ avocado, sliced or cubed
  • 8 organic corn tortillas

Sauce Ingredients:

  • ½ cup organic plain Greek yogurt
  • ¼ tsp Himalayan salt
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • ½ pureed avocado

Directions:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pan and saute the onions for 3-5 minutes or until translucent.
  2. Add the chili powder, paprika, cumin, garlic, turmeric, salt, cooked lentils, and tomatoes to the onions, and stir well for another 5 minutes.
  3. Place your carrot shreds and cabbage shreds in their own bowls. Cut your lime in half and squeeze one of the halves over the carrots and cabbage. Sprinkle with Himalayan salt.
  4. Prepare your sauce by mixing the yogurt, avocado puree, ¼ tsp salt, and the juice from the remaining lime half together in a bowl.
  5. Serve on warmed tortillas as pictured and enjoy!

 

Warmly,

Megan Normansell, CHC, AADP, CFH

Certified Holistic Practitioner/Holistic Nutritionist/Herbalist/Wild Edibles Guide

Follow me on Facebook and Instagram for more recipes and healthy living ideas!

Interested in healing your body naturally?
Get the answers you’ve been searching for, and heal your body for good… naturally. We have successfully helped thousands of people across the country live a healthier life than they ever could have imagined, and specialize in dozens of different health concerns. Curious? Schedule your complimentary consultation with me today! Read the incredible reviews we’ve received over the years here.

http://www.aayushealth.com – megan@aayushealth.com – 920-327-2221

 

Copyright Megan Normansell 2018 All rights reserved. 

Organic Egg Taste Test- Which to Buy and Which to Ditch?

Being as frugal as they come, I tend to choose my eggs based on price. It’s certainly difficult to tell which taste best when weeks go by between your consumption of different brands. Being health conscious, my husband and I always purchase organic, preferably from local farms. An organic certification means the hens must be fed organic feed and have access to the outdoors; animal by-products and GMO crops in feed are prohibited. There can be no traces of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides. Forced molting is not allowed, the animals cannot be caged, and the certification requires maintenance of basic animal welfare standards.

So as foodies we decided to do a taste test to see which ones were truly worth the extra cash and which ones to pass on,  and of course included our four year old daughter Eliana. (We were a bit suspicious that she may have been born with a more sophisticated palate than us, until her adjectives got a bit questionable.)

We purchased all five of the organic brands that were available at Woodman’s in Appleton, WI.  All brands were fairly similar in appearance, each carton of eggs having slight variance in color, mottling, and size.

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We noticed some very slight differences in the color of the yolks and whites.

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All had similar sell-by dates, were cooked at the same time in a cast iron pan at the same temperature, and were unsalted.

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I let chef Matt do the honors

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Our observations were as follows:

BRAND PRICE LOCATION PACKAGE CLAIMS MATT’S REVIEW MEGAN’S REVIEW THE TODDLER REVIEW
Milo’s Poultry Farms Organic Omega 3 Eggs $4.29 per dozen Bonduel, WI “Pastured as much as possible” Mild, no off taste, not much depth. The shells are very thin, which leads me to believe the chickens have poor calcium intake. Not much flavor, but pleasant. Good. Kind of gross.
Eggland’s Best Organic eggs

 

$4.39 per dozen Does not disclose “Vegetarian fed, cage free” Fattier. Whites are clean and firm. Buttery, rich, creamy, hearty. Kind of tastes like olives.
Phil’s Organic Omega 3 Eggs $4.19 per dozen Forreston, IL “Free range, whole grain fed” Rubbery. Firm, blah, not much flavor. The whites taste like paper. Kind of good.
Organic Valley Organic Eggs $4.79 per dozen Wisconsin “Free range” Rich, creamy. Creamy, melts in your mouth. A bit umami. Good. Tastes like avocados and oranges.
Blue Sky Family Farms Organic Eggs $4.99 per dozen

 

Warsaw, IN “Pastured, outside 365 days a year, certified humane.” Strongest natural rich yolk flavor. Rich, buttery, satisfying, creamy. Grapes.
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The littlest food critic

So which were the best and which failed the test?

#1- Blue Sky Family Farms  (ding ding ding, winner winner chicken dinner!)

#2- Eggland’s Best

#3- Organic Valley

#4- Phil’s

#5- Milo’s Poultry Farms

 

So there you go! I’ll gladly be spending the extra $.80 on tastier, creamier eggs from now on. It was interesting to me that there was indeed a correlation between price and quality. Stay tuned and follow my blog and facebook page– I’ll be sourcing more local brands to taste test in the coming months. Which brands would you like to see? Let me know!

Warmly,

Megan Normansell (Kerkhoff), CHC, AADP, CFH

Certified Holistic Practitioner/Holistic Nutritionist/Herbalist/Wild Edibles Guide

Follow me on Facebook and Instagram for more recipes and healthy living ideas!

Interested in healing your body naturally?
Get the answers you’ve been searching for, and heal your body for good… naturally.  We have successfully helped thousands of people across the country live a healthier life than they ever could have imagined, and specialize in dozens of different health concerns. Curious? 
Schedule your complimentary consultation with me today! Read the incredible reviews we’ve received over the years here.

http://www.aayushealth.com     –     megan@aayushealth.com    –    920-327-2221

 

Copyright Megan Normansell 2018 All rights reserved. 

Don’t Make These Common Mistakes When Trying to Boost your Immune System

flusignOur immune system is comprised of many biological structures, and is quite a wondrous thing. Give it the tools it needs, and it detects and protects us from potentially fatal invaders including bacteria, parasites, and viruses.  As with anything else if you don’t put the right fuel in it’s not going to be able to perform at its best, so here I’ll discuss how to do that in a way that isn’t counterproductive.

With flu season upon us, “immune boosters” are all the buzz. No one wants to get sick! Nature provides medicine for every ailment – if you have even a bit of influence over whether you get sick or not or how quickly you recover from illness, why wouldn’t you want to take advantage?

However, there is such a thing as doing it wrong.

Let’s look at it as three different categories- immune stimulators, immune modulators, and immune essentials.

Immune stimulators:

Many people refer to these as “immune boosters,” but I much prefer to use the term “stimulators.” These are the warriors you keep in your medicine cabinet to launch an attack when you get an invader. They rev up your immune system for war- they can be used prophylactically after exposure, used to kick out a pathogen at the first sign of illness, or used to reduce the duration of an illness. They are not required for immune function, but they can be extremely effective at helping and most have the research to back that. (See a sampling of available studies below- 111 of them!)

However, you don’t always want to stimulate, or “boost” your immune system! These should only be taken on an as-needed basis, not daily. Think of it as sending soldiers out to war- fighting off the enemy is a really tough job. Imagine if you were to send those soldiers off every day to fight, whether they were needed or not. They’d get tired and burnt out after awhile, wouldn’t they? Generally immune stimulators want to be used for 3-4 days, or as directed for your particular ailment by your naturopathic practitioner or herbalist.  Immune stimulators are not ideal for those with autoimmune disease or those on immune – suppressing drugs.   The following are some of my favorite immune stimulators. But bonus- a few of these do TWO jobs- immune stimulating and immune modulating. Keep reading to learn what that’s all about!

Examples of immune stimulators:

  • Elderberry
  • Echinacea
  • Goldenseal
  • Boneset
  • Pokeweed
  • Tinder conk mushroom
  • Colorado reishi mushroom (also modulating)
  • Reishi mushroom(also modulating)
  • Maitake mushroom (also modulating)
  • Lions mane mushroom (also modulating)
  • Chaga mushroom (also modulating)
  • Turkey tail mushroom(also modulating)
  • Birch polypore mushroom
  • Oyster mushrooms
  • Star anise
  • Andrographis
  • Cats Claw
  • Astragalus
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Wild echinacea purpurea near my house

 

 

Immune Modulators:

These are the immune regulators; it is their job to keep the immune system at a healthy baseline. Modulation means being strong enough for pathogens and foreign cells to be destroyed, but also not hyper-reacting to common foods, allergens, environmental organisms,  or your own body cells.  Take these daily as gentle therapeutics, use prophylactically after exposure, or to support your system in fighting off pathogens at the first sign of illness. Some modulators can also help to stimulate, but due to their regulating activities they are safe for autoimmune disorders.

Examples of immune modulators:

  • Colorado reishi mushroom
  • Reishi mushroom
  • Maitake mushroom
  • Chaga mushroom
  • Lions mane mushroom
  • Turkey tail mushroom
  • Shiitake mushroom
  • Panax ginseng
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Dried chaga chunks are used to make a delicious tea. Order my wild Wisconsin harvested chaga here and learn more about chaga at Eden Wild Food

Immune essentials:

Immune essentials are crucial nutrients that are required for functioning of the immune system. They are not optional. A balanced diet should provide most of what we need, however many times a supplement is helpful for filling nutritional gaps, especially if your diet is not ideal. In the presence of illness or as a prophylactic help, higher doses than the minimal amount to prevent deficiency can be helpful. For example, I like to take a gram of vitamin C every couple hours when I’m feeling under the weather. However, more is not always better for many vitamins and minerals- you want daily levels that allow the body and immune system to function at optimum levels, without overdosing. For example, overdosing on the vitamin D via supplementation can cause health issues such as a decrease in bone mass. Too much zinc (over 100 mg/day) can actually suppress your immune system. Consult your health practitioner for doses that are right for your body.

Examples of immune essentials:

  • Vitamin C
  • Zinc
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin D
  • Selenium
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Rose hips have 946% more vitamin C than oranges! Read more here.

So to sum up, these natural medicines can be a wonderful, effective way to stay healthy, but be sure to choose the methods that are right for you- rev up and/or regulate your immune system, and of course supply the vitamins and minerals that are the basic foundation of our bodily functions.

Warmly,

Megan Normansell (Kerkhoff), CHC, AADP, CFH

Certified Holistic Practitioner/Holistic Nutritionist/Herbalist/Wild Edibles Guide

Follow me on Facebook and Instagram for more recipes and healthy living ideas!

Interested in healing your body naturally?
Get the answers you’ve been searching for, and heal your body for good… naturally.  We have successfully helped thousands of people across the country live a healthier life than they ever could have imagined, and specialize in dozens of different health concerns. Curious? 
Schedule your complimentary consultation with me today! Read the incredible reviews we’ve received over the years here.

http://www.aayushealth.com     –     megan@aayushealth.com    –    920-327-2221

 

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  62. Patel S, Goyal A. Recent developments in mushrooms as anti-cancer therapeutics: a review. 3 Biotech. 2012;2(1):1-15.
  63. Eliza WL, Fai CK, Chung LP. Efficacy of Yun Zhi (Coriolus versicolor) on survival in cancer patients: systematic review and meta-analysis. Recent Pat Inflamm Allergy Drug Discov. 2012;6(1):78-87.
  64. Niwa Y, Matsuura H, Murakami M, Sato J, Hirai K, Sumi H. Evidence that naturopathic therapy including Cordyceps sinensis prolongs survival of patients with hepatocellular carcinoma. Integr Cancer Ther. 2013;12(1):50-68.
  65. Immune Modulation From Five Major Mushrooms: Application to Integrative Oncology Alena G. Guggenheim, ND; Kirsten M. Wright, BS; Heather L. Zwickey, PhD
  66. Medicinal Mushrooms: A Clinical Guide by Martin Powell
  67. Mushrooms for Health by Greg Marley
  68. Mycelium Running by Paul Stamets
  69. Gray AM, Abdel-Wahab YH, Flatt PR. The traditional plant treatment, Sambucus nigra(elder), exhibits insulin-like and insulin-releasing actions in vitro. J Nutr. 2000;130(1):15-20.
  70. Kong F. Pilot clinical study on a proprietary elderberry extract: efficacy in addressing influenza symptoms. Online Journal of Pharmacology and Pharmacokinetics. 2009;5:32-43.
  71. Mikulic-Petkovsek M, Slatnar A, Stampar F, Veberic R. HPLC-MSn identification and quantification of flavanol glycosides in 28 wild and cultivated berry species. Food Chem. 2012;135(4):2138-46.

Rakel: Integrative Medicine. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012.

  1. Roschek B, Fink RC, McMichael MD, et al. Elderberry flavonoids bind to and prevent H1N1 infection in vitro. Phytochemistry. 2009;70:1255-61.
  2. Roxas M, Jurenka J. Colds and influenza: a review of diagnosis and conventional, botanical, and nutritional considerations. Altern Med Rev. 2007 Mar;12(1):25-48. Review.
  3. Swaminathan K, Dyason JC, Maggioni A, von Itzstein M, Downard KM. Binding of a natural anthocyanin inhibitor to influenza neuraminidase by mass spectrometry. Anal Bioanal Chem. 2013;405(20):6563-72.
  4. Ulbricht C, Basch E, Cheung L, et al. An evidence-based systematic review of elderberry and elderflower(Sambucus nigra) by the Natural Standard Research Collaboration. J Diet Suppl. 2014;11(1):80-120.
  5. Uncini Manganelli RE, Zaccaro L, Tomei PE. Antiviral activity in vitro of Urtica dioica L., Parietaria diffusa M. et K. and Sambucus nigra L. J Ethnopharmacol. 2005 Apr 26;98(3):323-7.
  6. Vlachojannis JE, Cameron M, Chrubasik S. A systematic review on the sambuci fructuseffect and efficacy profiles. Phytother Res. 2010 Jan;24(1):1-8. Review.
  7. Vlachojannis C, Zimmermann BF, Chrubasik-Hausmann S. Quantification of anthocyanins in elderberry and chokeberry dietary supplements. Phytother Res. 2015;29(4):561-5.
  8. Wright CI, Van-Buren L, Kroner CI, Koning MM. Herbal medicines as diuretics: A review of the scientific evidence. J Ethnopharmacol. 2007 Oct 8;114(1):1-31.
  9. Zakay-Rones Z, Thom E, Wollan T, Wadstein J. Randomized study of the efficacy and safety of oral elderberry extract in the treatment of influenza A and B virus infections. J Int Med Res. 2004;32:132-40.
  10. Beach, B.W. (1851). The American Practice, Condensed:Or, the Family Physician. New York, NY: James M‟Alister.
  11. British Herbal Medicine Association (1983), British herbal pharmacopoeia. Bournemouth U.K.: B.H.M.A. Brinker, Francis. 2009. “Boneset in Dyspesia and Febrile Infections.” Journal of the American Herbalist Guild 9, 1-13.
  12. Felter, H.W. (1922). The Eclectic Materia Medica, Pharmacology and Therapeutics. Cincinnati: John. K. Scudder. Gardner, M., & Aylworth, B. (1836).
  13. The Domestic Physician and Family Assistant. Cooperstown, NY: H & E Phinney.
  14. Habtemariam, S., & Macpherson, A. M. (2000). Cytotoxicity and antibacterial activity of ethanol extract from leaves of a herbal drug, boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum). Phytotherapy Research, 14(7), 575-577.
  15. Hall, T B, Jr. 1974. “Eupatorium perfoliatum. A plant with a history.” Missouri Medicine 71 (9), 527-528.
  16. Harper-Shove, F. 1952. Prescriber and clinical repertory of medicinal herbs. Bradford UK: Health Science Press. Herz, W, P S Kalyanaraman, and G Ramakrishnan. 1977. “Sesquiterpene lactones of Eupatorium perfoliatum.” The Journal of Organic Chemistry 42 (13), 2264-2271.
  17. Maas, M., & Hensel, A. (2008). “Eupatorium perfoliatum L.” Zeitschrift für Phytotherapie 29 (05) (November): 249-254. doi:10.1055/s-0028-1102730.
  18. Maas, M., Petereit, F., & Hensel, A. (2009). Caffeic acid derivatives from Eupatorium perfoliatum L. Molecules 14, (1), 36-45.
  19. Maas, M., Hensel, A., da Costa, F.B., Brun, R., Kaiser, M., & Schmidt, T.J. (2011). “An unusual dimeric guaianolide with antiprotozoal activity and further sesquiterpene lactones from Eupatorium perfoliatum.” Phytochemistry 72: 635-644.
  20. Priest, A.W., & Priest, L.R. (1982). Herbal medication: A clinical and dispensary handbook. London, UK: L.M. Fowler & Co
  21. Robinson, G., Agurkis, G. & Scerbo, A. (2007) Medical attributes of Eupatorium perfoliatum – Boneset. (Student paper). Wilkes-Barre, PA: Wilkes University.
  22. Scudder, J.M. (1898). The American Eclectic Materia Medica and Therapeutics (12th Ed.). Cincinnati, OH: The Scudder Brothers Company, Publishers.
  23. Schmidt, T. J., Nour, A.M.M., Khalid, S.A., Kaiser, M., and Brun,R .(2009). Quantitative Structure – Antiprotozoal Activity Relationships of Sesquiterpene Lactones. Molecules, 14 (6):2062-2076Skenderi, G. (2003). Herbal Vade Mecum. Rutherford, NJ: Herbacy Press.
  24. Stille, A. (1874). Therapeutics and material medica (4th ed.). Philadelphia: Henry C. Lea. United States Pharmacopeial Convention (USPC), (1820 through 1900). The Pharmacopoeia of the United States of America. Philadelphia, PA: J.B. Lippincott Company.
  25. Vollmar, A., Schafer, W., & Wagner, H.( 1986). Immunologically active polysaccharides of eupatorium cannabinum and eupatorium perfoliatum. Phytochemistry 25 (2):377-381.
  26. Wagner, H.Proksch, A., Vollmar, A. ,Kreutzkamp B., & Bauer, J. (1985). In vitro phagocytosis stimulation by isolated plant materials in a chemoluminescencephagocytosis model. Planta Medica 2: 139-144
  27. Hao Y, Qiu QY, Wu J. Effect of Astragalus polysaccharides in promoting neutrophil-vascular endothelial cell adhesion and expression of related adhesive molecules. Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. 2004;24(5):427-430.
  28. Shao BM, Xu W, Dai H, et al. A study on the immune receptors for polysaccharides from the roots of Astragalus membranaceus, a Chinese medicinal herb. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2004;320(4):1103-1111.
  29. Shi FS, Yang ZG, Di GP. [Effect of Astragalus saponin on vascular endothelial cell and its function in burn patients]. Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. 2001;21(10):750-751.
  30. Burger RA,Torres AR,Warren RP, et al.: Echinacea-induced cytokine production by human macrophages. Int J Immunopharmacol 1997;19:371-9.
  31. Frank LG. The efficacy of Echinacea compound herbal tea preparation on the severity and duration of upper respiratory and flu symptoms: a randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled studyJ Comp Alt Med. 2000;6(4):327-334.
  32. Goel V, Lovlin R, Barton R, et al. Efficacy of a standardized echinacea preparation (Echinilin) for the treatment of the common cold: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trialJ Clin Pharm Ther. 2004;29(1):75-83.
  33. Rininger JA, Kickner S, Chigurupati P, et al.: Immunopharmacological activity of Echinacea preparations following simulated digestion on murine macrophages and human peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Leukoc Biol 2000;68:503-10.
  34. Shah SA, Sander S, White CM, Rinaldi M, Coleman CI. Evaluation of echinacea for the prevention and treatment of the common cold: a meta-analysisLancet Infect Dis. 2007;7(7):473-80. 
  35. Yamada K, Hung P, Park TK, Park PJ, Lim BO.  A comparison of the immunostimulatory effects of the medicinal herbs Echinacea, Ashwagandha and Brahmi.  J Ethnopharmacol. 2011;137(1):231-5.

107. Antimicrobial properties of star anise (Illicium verum Hook f).

108. Immune Modulation From Five Major Mushrooms: Application to Integrative Oncology Alena G. Guggenheim, ND; Kirsten M. Wright, BS; Heather L. Zwickey, PhD

109. Medicinal Mushrooms: A Clinical Guide by Martin Powell

110. Mushrooms for Health by Greg Marley

111. Mycelium Running by Paul Stamets

 

Copyright Megan Normansell 2018 All rights reserved. 

Folate vs Folic Acid: Are you being duped?

Folate, or vitamin b9, is a water-soluble nutrient that was first discovered when it was found that brewer’s yeast (a source of b vitamins) could prevent anemia. Folate is essential for brain health, energy production, formation of red blood cells, immune system, protein metabolism, and regulation of homocysteine levels. It’s a coenzyme in DNA and RNA synthesis, so it is important for healthy cell division and replication. Folate is especially important during pregnancy as a deficiency can result in neural tube defects and/or premature birth. Pre-conception nutrition is important, because low folate levels BEFORE conception increases the risk of birth defects as well.  For men, women, and children, low folate levels can cause anemia, digestive problems, fatigue, prematurely greying hair, memory problems, insomnia, paranoia, anxiety, weakness, growth impairment, and depression.

Just a “little bit” pregnant with my daughter, Eliana

Now the big debate: is there a difference between folate and folic acid? The short answer is yes. Folate is the version of b9 that occurs naturally in foods. Folic acid is a synthesized version of the vitamin that will never be found in nature. Vitamins are always best when obtained from real, whole food sources. For some, particularly for those with an MTHFR genetic defect (fairly common), folic acid can mean trouble as it can be difficult to convert the synthetic version over to the usable form of the vitamin.

Now here’s where food & supplement companies trick you:

  1. Even if folate is listed on the nutrition facts, it’s not always actually folate. Manufacturers know ‘folate’ is something consumers are looking for, so they may list it as “folate (as folic acid).” If the nutrition facts list the form as ‘folate’ but you see ‘folic acid’ on the ingredients list, it is indeed synthetic folic acid. If you do not see the word ‘folic acid’ anywhere in those two spots, it should be the natural form of the vitamin.

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    “Early Promise Prenatal” Gentle Multiple

  2. A product labeled “all natural” or “organic” is not always 100% natural and not always using natural forms of the vitamins. Check your labels for ‘folic acid.’ Many “high quality” nutritional shakes, protein powders, and multivitamins tout themselves as being natural or whole food based, when the reality is they’re going the cheap route and using poor quality vitamins. Marketing, marketing, marketing.
  3. Whole foods don’t need vitamin fortification, because they are whole foods. The nutrients are already in there, in the perfect balance nature intended. When you see a food fortified with folic acid, it means it’s been highly processed and is most likely not healthy at all.

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    (real food tastes better anyways!)

Where CAN I get folate from?

  1. Genuinely natural multivitamin or folate supplements. Check out my list of some of my favorite multivitamins that only use the food-derived folate instead of folic acid.
  2. REAL FOOD! Really, this is always the best way. While supplements can be helpful (especially during pregnancy) they can never replace the ample vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that unprocessed food provides. While toxicity risk is low, it’s still near impossible to overdose on folate from foods (who accidentally eats 14 cups of broccoli??), where it’s easy to overdose with a supplement by taking just a couple too many pills. You can’t absorb one vitamin properly without all of the appropriate co-nutrients in balance, and this is where whole food always delivers. For example, the best food source of folate is lentils. Let’s look at the breakdown of the nutrient content of lentils- it’s about way more than folate! 26637747_10101947671173863_641004983_n

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    Data from USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28, via “Nutrition Data” app

The best food sources of folate per 1 cup, according to daily value (DV):

  • Lentils (90% DV)
  • Pinto beans (74% DV)
  • Garbanzo beans (71% DV)
  • Asparagus (65% DV)
  • Spinach (65% DV)
  • Black beans (64% DV)
  • Navy beans (64% DV)
  • Kidney beans (57% DV)
  • Collard greens (44% DV)
  • Beet root (34% DV)
  • Split peas (32% DV)
  • Papaya- 1 whole (29% DV)

    SONY DSC

    My “Fiesta Ranch” salad

If you want more in depth guidance to heal your body naturally, this is what I help people with every day! In my one-on-one personalized holistic health programs, we visit every area of your health in depth to ensure you accomplish all of your health goals permanently. My comprehensive programs give you the step-by-step nutritional changes, personal guidance, support, stress management, recipes, accountability, food sensitivity evaluations, and other tools necessary to make life-changing changes last a lifetime.

Contact me at 920-327-2221 or megan@aayushealth.com for your free consultation!

Warmly,

Megan Normansell, CHC, AADP, CFH

Certified Holistic Practitioner/Holistic Nutritionist/Herbalist/Wild Edibles Guide

Follow me on Facebook and Instagram

for more recipes and healthy living ideas!

http://www.aayushealth.com     –     megan@aayushealth.com    –    920-327-2221

 

Copyright Megan Normansell 2018 All rights reserved. 

Get your Sugar Detox on!

Sugar: the death of many a health goal. Whether you’re trying to lose weight, improve25593216_10101928426754833_1827350616_o digestion, keep your immune system strong, lower cholesterol, manage IBS, lower pain and inflammation, eliminate migraines, improve depression and anxiety, and so on… sugar makes it all so, so much harder. Studies have shown that white refined sugar is even more addictive than cocaine and heroin, so no wonder it’s so difficult to quit! Excessive sugar intake is now considered to be a public health crisis, for many reasons.

And “detox”… a word that some will scoff at. What do I mean when I say you can “detox” from sugar? Detoxification is defined as the process of removing toxic substances or qualities. Yes, white refined sugar is toxic, and yes we’re removing it. Yes, sugar addiction and cravings are toxic to your health, and yes we’re removing them. No, it won’t hurt, you won’t suffer, and you won’t hate me.

20 Reasons Why Sugar Ruins Your Health

  • Sugar can suppress the immune system.
  • Sugar interferes with absorption of calcium and magnesium.
  • Sugar can weaken eyesight.
  • Sugar can cause hypoglycemia.
  • Sugar can cause a rapid rise of adrenaline levels in children.
  • Sugar contributes to obesity.
  • Sugar can cause arthritis.
  • Sugar can cause heart disease and emphysema.
  • Sugar can contribute to osteoporosis.
  • Sugar can increase cholesterol.
  • Sugar can significantly increase risk of cancer.
  • Sugar can contribute to diabetes.
  • Sugar can cause cardiovascular disease.
  • Sugar can make our skin age by changing the structure of collagen.
  • Sugar can produce a significant rise in triglycerides.
  • Sugar can increase the body’s fluid retention.
  • Sugar can cause headaches, including migraines.
  • Sugar can cause depression.
  • Sugar can contribute to Alzheimer’s disease.
  • In intensive care units, limiting sugar saves lives.
(Adapted from 146 Reasons Why Sugar Is Ruining Your Health by Nancy Appleton, Ph.D.)

 

LETS BEGIN YOUR DETOX!

We will first want to identify all sources of white refined sugar in your diet. Read the ingredient listing on your labels. You’ll find sugar is lurking in everything from ketchup to yogurt, and there are countless trick names for white sugar. (evaporated cane juice or cane juice extract anyone?) Luckily there are many healthier alternatives. Is there sugar in your ketchup? Try buying an unsweetened version or crushing/pureeing fresh tomatoes instead. Sugar in your yogurt or almond milk? Buy an unsweetened version instead and sweeten with berries and/or a touch of honey.

You’ll find that choosing whole foods over processed foods (eg. oatmeal instead of boxed cereals) will make it much easier to avoid added sugar. Many of the “low calorie,” “low sugar,” or “sugar free” diet and snack foods on the market are chock full of junk that will not support your health or your goal of eliminating sugar. We also want to avoid chemical sweeteners as much as possible (such as aspartame & sucralose/Splenda), which may seem tempting when you are trying to avoid sugar. Not only are they all toxic to some degree, they will likely leave you craving more sugar later and this detox will be more difficult to accomplish. Studies have found that people who consume artificial sweeteners and “diet” foods tend to weigh more. And did you know that about 10% of people actually still get blood sugar fluctuations from synthetic sweeteners?

Now that you’ve identified the sugars, we need to identify the WHY. Why are you jonesing for it?

  1. White refined sugar is highly addictive. As you replace it with the gentle, whole food sweeteners we’re about to discuss, you’ll begin to escape its grip. When you consume sugar, do you tend to crave it again later in the day? Many do, and that’s the cycle we need to break. Once you’ve eliminated it entirely you can enjoy healthier versions of your favorite sweets, with complete control over your sugar intake, vs the sugar controlling you.
  2. Dehydration = Cravings. Sometimes sweet cravings are a sign of dehydration. Before you go for the sugar, have a glass of water and then wait a few minutes to see what happens.
  3. Eat sweet vegetables and fruit. They are sweet, healthy and delicious. Some examples of sweet vegetables include onions, sweet potatoes, rutabagas, parsnips, taro root, celeriac, yucca root, blue heirloom potatoes, and beets. The more you eat, the less you’ll crave sugar. These foods will give you a subtle sweetness, but are significantly lower in sugar. Your body says- hey, I got the right carbs & sugars I need… I guess I don’t want the unhealthy carbs & sugars as much! And because they are vegetables, they are incredibly nutrient-dense and have a healing effect on your body.
  4. 25589836_10101928431425473_1313811579_nExplore sweet spices & herbs. Fennel seed, star anise, allspice, coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg, anise hyssop, sweet cicely, cloves and cardamom will naturally sweeten your foods without the sugars. (and they all have great health benefits, some even used as medicines!)
  5. Use whole food sweeteners. Make the switch to the sweets that nourish you. Gentle sweeteners like maple syrup, brown rice syrup, raw honey, or maple sugar give you the flavors you need, but also supply essential nutrients. Honey for example has potent antimicrobial benefits and can be used for treating allergies, and maple syrup is a good source of b vitamins, manganese, and zinc. With this depth of flavor and nutrition you’ll find you need less of them to attain the same level of sweetness white sugar gave you in recipes. There are lots of really nice gentle sweeteners, I just like to look at where it comes from. If it takes lots of processing, solvents, bleaching, and the use of other chemicals to make it, then that’s a telltale sign that it’s not good for you. If it’s something you could easily make in your kitchen (we make maple syrup from the trees in our yard every year, for example), go ahead and eat it. When your favorite recipe calls for 1 cup of white sugar, use ½ to ¾ cup of maple syrup or honey instead. This allows you to enjoy small portions in moderation, without finding yourself desperately digging around for more sugar a few hours later.
  6. Get moving. Regular exercise will help boost mood, increase energy, balance your blood sugar levels, and alleviate stress and tension without medicating yourself with sugar.
  7. Add non-food sweetness to your life. Cravings for sweets aren’t always about food. When you are tired or stressed, your body will crave energy and comfort… and sugar is the quickest, easiest instant gratification that many of us find. Sometimes we are simply craving sweetness from other areas of our lives like relationships or hobbies, or we crave foods out of boredom or stress.
  8. Old habits die hard. Is there a food you just grab without thinking, or that is a part of your daily routine? Maybe a not-so-healthy favorite childhood dessert? Identify, address, and get guidance and support in changing that bad habit to a good one.
  9. Protein intake. Too little or too much protein (yes, as with any other nutrient you can overdo it and it’s more common than you think!) can result in cravings for sweets. This is a problem I help a lot of clients sort out. Some people do great with animal proteins, some need vegan or vegetarian proteins. Too many animal proteins like meat or dairy can mean less fiber in your diet, so portions, balance, and moderation is important for omnivores. Respect your body’s individuality and experiment.

For your first 3 days, indulge in all of the aforementioned foods as much as you need, but zero white refined sugar. Unbearable sugar craving? Eat a spoonful of honey. Or 8. Whatever you need to get through it. (YUM!)

Once you’ve accomplished all of this, your next step is to pare down your total sugar intake. Watch your portions. Even healthy sweets contain sugars that easily add up, so your next goal will be to get your total intake down to 40 grams per day. For a couple days, track your total grams. I recommend the myfitnesspal app, or use this website: http://nutritiondata.self.com/ to get nutritional information. To navigate the website, you will search for your food (or ingredients used to make your food) in the top search bar, locate your specific food, then record the total grams of sugar for your serving.

Some examples of sugar content:

1 tbsp raw honey: about 16 grams

1 tbsp maple syrup: about 12 grams

1 medium apple: about 14 grams

1 medium carrot: about 3 grams

1 medium sweet potato: about 6 grams

Where are you finding the majority of your sugar intake is coming from? How can you replace or reduce that particular food?

Ideally, you should be getting a total of at least 7 servings of fruits and vegetables daily. By aiming for 4-5 servings of vegetables, that will help to crowd any excess fruits you are getting. Did you know that each daily portion of vegetables reduces your overall risk of premature death by 16%, but each serving of fruit reduces your overall risk of premature death by only 4%?

You now have some great tools for beating that nasty little sugar bug! Remember- focus on adding in and creating abundance & variety, rather than focusing on restriction & denial. Vibrant health is a journey, not a destination- celebrate each day that you continue to make progress!

USEFORCOVERhairedit

If you feel you need more personalized and in depth guidance, this is what I help people with every day! Sugar intake is only one facet of health; in my one-on-one personalized holistic health programs, we visit every area of your life and health in depth, to ensure you accomplish all of your health goals permanently. Bad habits can be hard to overcome for good- but our comprehensive programs give you the personal guidance, support, recipes, accountability, and tools you need to make these and other positive changes last a lifetime.

JANUARY 2018: Don’t miss the 2018 Weight Loss Program!  90% of diets fail… do you want  to be one of those 90% or do you want the expert guidance necessary to be one of my success stories?

Contact me at 920-327-2221 or megan@aayushealth.com for your free consultation!

Warmly,

Megan Normansell (Kerkhoff), CHC, AADP, CFH

Certified Holistic Practitioner/Holistic Nutritionist/Herbalist/Wild Edibles Guide

Follow me on Facebook and Instagram

for more recipes and healthy living ideas!

http://www.aayushealth.com     –     megan@aayushealth.com    –    920-327-2221

 

Copyright Megan Normansell 2018 All rights reserved. 

 

 

Mom Stress! Herbal Medicines for the Breastfeeding Mama

This is one I hear all the time- “I’m stressed… help!! But I’m nursing… what’s safe to take?”

Use of natural medicines can be tricky while breastfeeding and I’m always conservative in their use (even if some people disagree with me!). Better safe than sorry is my motto. In a field where clinical studies are not always available and everyone has a different opinion, we must sometimes rely on traditional wisdom and common sense.

The following is a compilation of some of my favorite go-to’s for calming the hearts & minds of the busy nursing mother, in the safest way that nature intended.  I tend to prefer tinctures and teas, as you will begin feeling the effects rather quickly. Each brand may vary in potency, so take as directed on the package.  ALWAYS use the whole herbs- they supply nature’s perfect balance of dozens of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that make the herb safe and effective…. essentially acting as a “checks & balance” system for the plant. Side effects can begin to occur when you isolate compounds of the plant. Do keep in mind if what you’re experiencing is above and beyond normal daily stress (such as severe anxiety, depression, or other mood disorders) or you have other medical conditions to consider, I recommend making an appointment for more in depth, customized nutritional & herbal counseling.

That being said… I hope you enjoy a nice warm cup of calming goodness today!

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  1. Oat Straw: This one can be used as a quick and easy tincture, but also makes a lovely sweet-tasting tea. It calms anxiety, tension and stress, yet promotes energy and stamina. Good for exhaustion, and can increase libido. May also increase supply!
  2. Blue Vervain: One of my favorites. Not only does it help manage stress, tension headaches, migraine, insomnia, & depression, it also promotes lactation. One client who was taking it daily nearly doubled the amount she was able to pump. Win win! Not very tasty as a tea, I prefer the tincture form.
  3. Motherwort: Eases hormone-related mood fluctuations and PMS, muscle spasms, reduces blood pressure, and calms anxiety. Note- may cause photosensitivity. Not a fantastic tea- try the tincture.
  4. Hops: Another production-helper! Small quantities of hops have been found to help with let-down. Can help with restlessness, anxiety, insomnia, and is mildly sedating. If you feel comfortable with it, you could drink 1/4 to 1/2 of a beer to get the benefits of the hops. Teas have a slight bitterness.
  5. Valerian: A sedative that is good for insomnia, stress, anxiety, elevated blood pressure, & muscle spasms. This is my favorite for “racing mind” syndrome when you’re lying in bed trying to sleep. Some people get headaches with prolonged use, just use occasionally as needed. It tastes like dirty feet if you ask me… go the tincture route. (pictured)Valerian flowers
  6. Chaga: Studies have found this medicinal mushroom to help depression and mood balance. I’d recommend a tea form, used by boiling the dried chunks. With a bit of honey or maple syrup it has an enjoyable (non-mushroomy) flavor.
  7. Passionflower: Its gentle sedating effect calms unease, anxiety, and hyperactivity. This can be used as a tea or tincture.
  8. Chamomile: This delicious tea makes a great nerve tonic. Used for fretfulness, anxiety, and insomnia, and is a favorite of children. Avoid if you are allergic to ragweed.
  9. Linden flower: I prefer to drink this one- with a floral, delicate flavor when made into a tea, it’s a nervine that helps with mild stress, anxiety, and tension.

 

The “Maybe Milk Reducers”

The following herbs can be great for stress, but some mothers have reported a decrease in supply. If you try them, just be mindful and discontinue if you see an undesired decrease in milk production.

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  1. Lavender (whole herb): Some sources say this is a galactagogue, some say it may decrease supply. As a member of the Lamiaceae (mint) family, I’d say just keep an eye on any changes. It helps to improve mood and calm stressful feelings. It’s best to use a small bunch of the dried or fresh plant in a tea.
  2. Lemon Balm : Called the “gladdening herb,” it is good for nervous agitation, stress, anxiety, hormone-related mood fluctuations, and insomnia. It’s mildly sedating and calms muscles. Another one of those controversial ones- some say it increases supply, some say it decreases… just be mindful. It can be used as a yummy citrusy tea or tincture.
  3. Catnip: An antispasmodic and nerve tonic to relieve stress and anxiety. Tea or tincture, and it grows wild in many areas.

Warmly,

Megan Normansell (Kerkhoff), CHC, AADP, CFH

Certified Holistic Practitioner/Holistic Nutritionist/Herbalist/Wild Edibles Guide

Follow me on Facebook and Instagram for more recipes and healthy living ideas!

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http://www.aayushealth.com     –     megan@aayushealth.com    –    920-327-2221

(not intended as medical advice)

Copyright Megan Normansell 2018 All rights reserved. 

Super Immune Chaga Gummies

As we are entering “chaga season,” I thought I’d share one of my family’s favorite things to do with it- super immune chaga gummies!

For those unfamiliar, chaga is a potent medicinal mushroom that grows in the northwoods of Wisconsin. With hundreds of clinical studies behind it, it’s used for strengthening the immune system, balancing autoimmune disorders, fighting cancer and tumors, cholesterol, blood pressure, eczema, inflammation, and many more.

We first make the chaga tea from the dried chunks, then add maple syrup until nice & sweet. Then follow this recipe, simply substituting the elderberry syrup for chaga. Sometimes we will do half & half. They are delicious and help to keep away the colds & flu that are circulating this time of year!

My hand-harvested Wisconsin chaga to make this recipe is available here!

Warmly,

Megan Normansell (Kerkhoff), CHC, AADP, CFH

Certified Holistic Practitioner/Holistic Nutritionist/Herbalist/Wild Edibles Guide

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http://www.aayushealth.com – megan@aayushealth.com – 920-327-2221

Copyright Megan Normansell 2018 All rights reserved. 

Decadent Raw Chocolate Chia Pudding

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Raw, unprocessed cacao is as healthy as it gets- and this is exactly what all chocolate starts out as. In its unprocessed form, it contains a plethora of nutrients that are lost during the processing into dark or milk chocolate. Not only are the candy bars you see today devoid of cacao’s nutrients, they have unhealthy additives like white sugar, artificial flavors, and trans fats added to them.

So why not get the benefits of the real stuff and make your own sweet treats? Raw cacao, usually sold as nibs or a ground into a powder, has some really powerful health benefits. According to studies published in “Journal of the American College of Cardiology” and the “Journal of Internal Medicine.”, it reduces your risk of stroke and heart attack. Cacao is rich in polyphenols, which serve as antioxidants and inhibit blood platelets from forming a clot. This superfood has been shown to lower your LDL (bad cholesterol) while raising your HDL (good cholesterol). It is rich in resveratrol, a powerful antioxidant, and phenethylamine, the “love” neurotransmitter, that boosts mood and libido. Cacao’s high chromium and coumarin content help to balance blood sugar, prevent diabetes, and promote weight loss. Do you ever get chocolate cravings? This could indicate a magnesium deficiency- add in some raw cacao to get your magnesium fix!

Decadent Raw Chocolate Chia Pudding

Ingredients:

1 cup flax, macadamia or almond milk (or whatever you prefer!)

1/3 cup chia seeds (heaping)

1.5 tbsp maple syrup (grade B if possible)

1.5 tbsp raw cacao powder

¼ tsp real vanilla extract

Directions:

In a small bowl, mix together the milk and chia seeds. Let sit for about 10-20 minutes, mixing occasionally, until it turns into a gel. Add in the maple syrup, cacao powder, and vanilla. Sprinkle with raw berries if desired. Serve cold and store leftovers in the refrigerator.

*Not a fan of chocolate? Hold the raw cacao and add a bit more vanilla and some fresh berries. (as pictured on right)

Warmly,

Megan Normansell, CHC, AADP, CFH

Certified Holistic Practitioner/Holistic Nutritionist/Herbalist/Wild Edibles Guide

Follow me on Facebook and Instagram for more recipes and healthy living ideas!

Get Even Healthier!
Get the answers you’ve been searching for, and heal your body for good… naturally and holistically.  We have successfully helped thousands of people across the country live a healthier life than they ever could have imagined, and specialize in dozens of different health concerns. Curious? 
Schedule your complimentary consultation with me today! Read the incredible reviews we’ve received over the years here!

http://www.aayushealth.com     –     megan@aayushealth.com    –    920-327-2221

Copyright Megan Normansell 2018 All rights reserved. 

MultivitaminGate 2017

24819192_10101910803122733_999548494_oWell, another one bites the dust. I was disappointed to wake up to the news this morning- supplement company Garden of Life (a brand I regularly recommend to clients) just sold out to Nestle. Corporate takeovers generally are followed by cheaper ingredients and lower quality standards, and in addition many people prefer to support smaller, family-owned companies. I do plan on closely watching any formulation changes with this brand, but this buyout has understandably left many consumers looking for alternatives.

While a multivitamin can never replace the phytonutrients and trace minerals found in whole food, a good quality one will certainly help fill any gaps in your diet. Maybe one day you simply didn’t eat enough vitamin C, or the next you were lacking in magnesium. If you are eating the standard American diet you will undoubtedly be deficient in nutrients, which can over time increase your risk of acute and chronic illness.

Finding a quality product can be difficult in a market flooded with junk, so here I comprised a list of some of the better multivitamins on the market. Many of these companies have a variety of products, from prenatals to 50 plus to kids vitamins. They are free of potentially harmful additives like synthetic vitamins, preservatives, artificial colors, titanium dioxide, artificial sweeteners, trans fats, etc.

Keep in mind everyone’s nutritional needs are different- some medical conditions make the body require less or more of certain nutrients, there may be food allergies/sensitivities, most drugs medications deplete certain nutrients, etc. So don’t hesitate to consult myself or another holistic nutritionist /herbalist for further guidance if necessary!

  • Vitalerbs or Kid E Mins by Dr. Christopher (the only one I’ve yet to find that only uses whole herbs to get the full spectrum of synergistic nutrients in the way nature intended, instead of using nutrients that are isolated and removed from food)
  • Thorne Research
  • Naturelo Whole Food Multivitamin
  • Smartypants Gummy vitamins (keep in mind gummies will not contain very many minerals and may be high in sugar)
  • Nature’s Dynamics Gummy
  • Dr. Mercola Whole Food Multivitamin
  • Megafood
  • Summit Nutrition Organic
  • MaryRuth’s
  • Innate Response

You should be able to find these at most local nutrition stores, and if they are not available most can be purchased online.

Warmly,

Megan Normansell (Kerkhoff), CHC, AADP, CFH

Certified Holistic Practitioner/Holistic Nutritionist/Herbalist/Wild Edibles Guide

Follow me on Facebook and Instagram for more recipes and healthy living ideas!

Get Even Healthier!
Get the answers you’ve been searching for, and heal your body for good… naturally and holistically.  We have successfully helped thousands of people across the country live a healthier life than they ever could have imagined, and specialize in dozens of different health concerns. Curious? 
Schedule your complimentary consultation with me today! Read the incredible reviews we’ve received over the years here!

http://www.aayushealth.com     –     megan@aayushealth.com    –    920-327-2221

 

Copyright Megan Normansell 2017 All rights reserved.