Monthly Archives: November 2017

November Nutrition Nuggets


Time again for those Nutrition articles that I saved from the news during the last month. I will start with Medical Marijuana & work my way through new gut buddy studies, cancer risks with alcohol, coffee :), sugar & energy drinks. 

I can see so many health benefits with Medical Marijuana. The problem that I see is that the industry is growing at a faster rate than the regulations of the cannabis sold. It is much like the nutritional supplement problem. Which outlet do you trust? How is the cannabis grown? And many other questions. Medical Marijuana comes in many forms; edibles, smokeables, vapes, tinctures, pastes, & salves for example. These also come in different concentrates or ratios of CBD/THC. The growing concern that I have is not only how the cannabis is grown but how the products are produced. Is the cannabis used standardized. This means that if I buy a product like a tincture to use, then need more, will the same tincture contain the same amount of THC/CBD as the first one I bought.

CBD is the fastest growing Cannabis derivatives sold. It is effective for many health problems & it is safe. It can also be sold online & cross state borders unlike Medical Cannabis with any THC in it. 

These two articles address my concerns. Reuters: With online medical marijuana, it’s buyer beware, By Lisa Rapaport, NOVEMBER 7, 2017  This study of online CBD products, showed that the same product showed inconsistencies in the amount of CBD it contained. I bought CBD paste online to try for joint pain. It did help somewhat but I wasn’t comfortable with the way I had to decide how much to use, and it didn’t appear to be standardized. I chose a reliable company & I shouldn’t have worried… Probably the nurse in me 🙂

Only one-third of marijuana extracts accurately labeled, researchers say, By Ben Tinker, CNN, November 7, 2017 Good article about the same study.

Because Cannabis is still illegal federally, the FDA isn’t regulating it like a pharmaceutical product. It is being watched like a nutritional supplement would. Because of that, the labeling must comply to the same standards as nutritional supplements. Health claims must be vague 🙂 The labels cannot say that the CBD or CBD/THC cures a specific disease. In order to make that claim, it has to have research to back it up along with clinical trials. At that point it becomes a pharmaceutical. This step is a problem because the FDA has rules for who can obtain the cannabis for research because it is on Schedule 1 along with Heroin. Stupidity in my eyes. The New York Times: FDA Warns Companies Against Claims That Marijuana Cures Diseases By Sheila Kaplan, Nov. 1, 2017

For information about Medical Marijuana, read the article we published on the SDCRI website. Cannabis as Medicine: Using medical marijuana in the oncology setting. by Teri Polley-Michea, “As a cannabis nurse navigator it is my honor and privilege to help guide patients in making educated choices when selecting and using medical marijuana as part of their healing journey.”

Two important studies looking at the relationship between gut buddies & immunotherapy for cancer patients have been in the news. Remember that your gut buddies are involved in digestion, protection from infection and they regulate our immune system. Couple that with immunotherapy which stimulates our own bodies defense mechanism and we see a valuable cancer treatment.

Gut bacteria ‘boost’ cancer therapy, 

Reuters: Good gut microbes may help immunotherapy drugs shrink tumors, By Ben Hirschler, NOVEMBER 2, 2017 

The bottom line on these studies is that they hold promise in the treatment of a difficult disease. They also show that more research needs to be done to understand our gut buddies. What is really exciting about this is that once they are understood, the analysis of an individuals gut buddies will tell the oncologist if immunotherapy will work for them. That would be a big step in treatment protocols.

The New York Times: Cancer Doctors Cite Risk of Drinking Alcohol, By Roni Caryn Rabin, November 7, 2017  The article is about the official stance that the American Society of Clinical Oncologists, ASCO, has taken in regards to alcohol. It states that even light drinking of alcohol can slightly raise a woman’s risk for breast cancer & esophageal cancer. If you are a heavy drinker then the risk of many cancers is higher. The message from these oncologists is that if you do drink alcohol, drink less & if you don’t drink alcohol then don’t start. 

I will be interested to see if the American Cancer Society changes their views on how much alcohol a person should drink. I have never agreed with them. Alcohol Use & Cancer: As part of its guidelines on nutrition and physical activity for cancer prevention, the American Cancer Society recommends that people who drink alcohol limit their intake to no more than 2 drinks per day for men and 1 drink a day for women.”  The Susan G. Komen website agrees with this limit. In light of the ASCO stance, I hope they both reconsider what they are recommending.

Here’s Another Reason to Feel Good About Drinking Coffee  Time, By Amanda MacMillan, November 13, 2017  We have been told that drinking coffee is good for our hearts. This study shows that drinking up to 6 cups of coffee a day can reduce the risk of heart disease, heart failure & stroke incrementally

Science Daily: Higher coffee consumption associated with lower risk of early death, August 27, 2017, European Society of Cardiology. Summary: Higher coffee consumption is associated with a lower risk of early death, according to new research. The observational study in nearly 20 000 participants suggests that coffee can be part of a healthy diet in healthy people.

Loving my morning cups of java 🙂

I keep thinking that the story about how bad added sugar is on our health is over. Not so: NPR, What The Industry Knew About Sugar’s Health Effects, But Didn’t Tell Us, By , November 21, 2017  This is worth the read. Don’t be surprised if it sounds familiar, think big tobacco companies. The sugar industry in the 1960’s funded research on the effects of sugar on our health. Because the results were damaging, the industry halted the studies & suppressed what results they had from the study. The industry then made certain that fats were blamed for heart disease & other health problems. 

Same as with alcohol, if you use/eat added sugar, use/eat less & if you don’t use/eat added sugar don’t start. How? Look at labels, stay away from processed foods whenever possible. 

Energy drinks come in different disguises. They come as sports drinks, as pick-me-ups in the afternoon, as a caffeine drink to help you stay awake for your night shift or study time for your exams. People of all ages & backgrounds turn to these drinks. Besides being high in sugar & caffeine, they have other herbal stimulants added. If you use them, read the labels carefully. These drinks increase your blood pressure, put you at a higher risk for diabetes & kidney disease. They are also linked to psychological problems. 

The new trend is to mix them with alcohol. Bad idea as we see in this article: Mixing Energy Drink And Alcohol Poses Serious Risks, 17 November 2017, By Allan Adamson Tech Times

Here is an earlier PubMed Health review that is interesting. Mixing alcohol and energy drinks ‘may be a risky cocktail‘, Thu, 23 Mar 2017 It seems to play down the health risks compared to this newer study.

Have a simple cup of coffee or tea! Don’t risk your health with these drinks. 

The new guidelines for blood pressure readings have caused quite a stir in the health field this past week. It is so controversial that it warrants its own post. I will look at both sides of the argument next week & talk about how to lower your blood pressure naturally.

Until then…Mary 🙂

Diets in the News

Pixabay free image

Have you heard about the newest weight-loss diet fad? It turns out it isn’t really new at all. In fact it has been “recycled” many times. In this incarnation it is called the Cico diet. Calories in, calories out. The premise is correct. You take the calories you need to maintain your weight & subtract the calories you need to expend to lose weight. If you eat more calories than you use, you gain weight. If you eat fewer calories than you use, you lose weight. Basic biology. 

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a sedentary woman burns between 1600-2000 calories depending on age etc. What happens when you decide you will eat 1500 calories a day to lose weight & exercise to make sure you expend more calories? But…you don’t pay attention to the quality of the food you are eating? Check out this article to see:

International Business Times: Cico diet: Why you shouldn’t fall for the latest weight loss fad “Calories in, calories out,” is the mantra of the Cico diet – but dietician warns latest fad is unhealthy. By 

The quality of the food you eat is the key to not only maintaining a healthy weight, but the key to a healthy overall you. This is what I mean:

  • A Big Mac with medium fries & a medium coke = 1,080 calories
  • Hershey Milk Chocolate Bar ~ leftover from Halloween 🙂 = 270 calories
  • Turkey Sandwich on whole wheat with mayo, tomato, lettuce & 3 ounces of roasted turkey = 360 calories. Add an apple for another 110 calories & a glass of water or tea for 0 calories. Total = 470 calories. 
  • Greek Yogurt 1 cup = 100 calories. Add fresh/frozen Blueberries, 1/2 cup = 42 calories. Total = 142 calories

The U.S.Department of Agriculture has this link on their website. Take a look at it.SuperTracker is an interactive food, physical activity, and weight tracking tool that serves as the public interface for the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The comprehensive and state-of-the-art resource is designed to assist individuals as they make changes in their life to reduce their risk of chronic disease and maintain a healthy weight. Consumers can choose a variety of features to support nutrition and physical activity goals: personalize recommendations for what and how much to eat and amount of physical activity; track foods and physical activity; customize features such as recipes, goal setting, virtual coaching, weight tracking, journaling; and measure progress with comprehensive reports. Groups of people can now use SuperTracker to work toward their health and wellness goals together.” You can create your own plan or you can use the general plan. This is a great resource.

In another article the author quoted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), that only 1 in 10 persons in the U.S. eats enough fruits & vegetables. This says it all. Fast food is not known for the fruits & veggies it contains. 🙁  From The Guardian: Only one in 10 Americans eat enough fruits and vegetables, CDC study finds By Jessica Glenza, November 17, 2017

This study made me sigh. I have been a registered nurse for 49 years…yikes, did I just say that out loud? 🙂 …and as a student nurse I learned that you could reverse Type-2 diabetes with diet. Eating a balanced plant based diet & exercising will bring your weight down & the need for diabetic medications will either stop or become less. Here is the new study done on rats:

Altering the Type-2 Diabetes Can Be Done With Low Calorie Diet, By Pooja, November 10, 2017  The author also refers to this being good news to the Pharma industry to create a targeting drug. I am not sure, even after reading the article several times, why they think that. Unless it is going to be another weight loss drug 🙁 

As I indicated, this is not new news in my world. These physicians have proven over & over again that Type-2 Diabetes can be reversed with diet.

From December 14th, 2014, Dr. Hyman: 7 Steps to Reverse Obesity and Diabetes Check out his books on Amazon.

Dr. John McDougall: Jason Wyrick: Cured Type-2 Diabetes and Obesity  Dr McDougall has talked about this since his first book came out in 1983. Wikipedia calls it a fad diet. I don’t think so. If you read his earlier works he explains how diabetes, heart disease & cancer travels the world following the introduction of the Standard American Diet & Fast Food.

Dr. Ornish is another physician who said that a plant based diet could not only reverse cardiac disease but also obesity & diabetes. He has been writing about this for more than 30 years!

WebMD Archives: Can You Reverse Type 2 Diabetes?  “Losing 5% to 10% of your body weight and building up to 150 minutes of exercise a week may help you to slow or stop the progress of type 2 diabetes” says Ann Albright, PhD, RD

I read a rebuttal to the idea that a vegetarian diet should be followed to reverse Type-2 Diabetes. The reason the author gave was because you should not expect people to adhere to such a strict, difficult diet. I have remarked on that outlook many times. Americans are basically lazy when it comes to diet & their own health. Easier to take a pill with all its side affects than to change their lifestyle. 

These changes in Type-2 Diabetes can be accomplished with a Mediterranean Diet as well. Reversing Type-2 Diabetes. Good article from the UK. Instead of calling it “reversing” diabetes they call it going into remission. I feel that is a more accurate term because when anyone goes back to eating the Standard American Diet, their risk for Type-2 Diabetes increases as well as for obesity, heart disease & cancer.

We must all make our own choices when it comes to our health. It boils down to either wanting a better quality of life now or focusing on quantity of life.

We already know this too. But it is nice to have it verified. In the article the researcher pointed out that for those who simply don’t want to be a vegetarian can still get a huge health benefit by reducing their meat intake. 


In the article Newsweek shares that they had previously reported that research has shown vegan and Mediterranean diets are the best for reducing the risk for cancer and heart disease.

No matter how you choose to eat, make a plan. Don’t be so rigid that you set yourself up for failure & stress. Here are a few helpful ideas.

  • Plan your meals by the day or week. Shop accordingly.
  • Choose whole foods.
  • Reduce the amount of meat you eat by increasing the servings of vegetables, grains & fruits on your plate.
  • If you want to continue to eat meat, then buy the best grade you can afford by buying a smaller amount. Check to make sure it is antibiotic & growth hormone free.
  • Plan vegetarian/vegan meals several times a week.
  • Plan a day weekly or monthly to go out for a favorite meal. Don’t call it your “cheat day”. Incorporate it into your meal plan.
  • Plan a day weekly for one serving of your favorite desert or share a desert with someone. Your not “cheating” when it is part of your eating plan.
  • Pay attention to the size of your portions. 1/2 cup cooked rice, or other grain is a serving. Sounds like a small amount but once on your plate it is a lot. I think that serving size is really important. You can be eating the healthiest of diets but eating too many calories.
  • Sit at the table when you eat. Don’t eat in the car or while walking around the kitchen 🙂 
  • Eat slowly & savor each bite. Mindful eating.
  • Drink more water.
  • Cut out processed foods. They are a major source of fat, sugar, salt & artificial ingredients.
  • Keep only healthy snacks in your pantry. 
  • Exercise daily. Do what you can even if it means just walking the length of your driveway right now. Move as much & as often as you can.
  • This is the Holiday season. Enjoying the company of family & friends is much more important than what is being served. Laughter, fun, togetherness & love cancels the calories 🙂

I saw an interesting article about Holiday weight gain that pertains to what I have written above. It was in the Los Angeles TimesThe biggest cause of holiday weight gain isn’t the food By Holly Van Hare, November 20, 2017. Most people go on a strict low calorie diet before the big dinners. What happens is that it puts our bodies into starvation mode by lowering our metabolism. That is why you don’t lose a lot of weight quickly. Your body is holding on to those calories as fat for energy. Then the “big meal” comes & you pig out! Your body says “Hooray!” & packs on the calories as fat to help itself out of the starvation mode; so we gain weight. Makes sense, right? The solution is to eat a balanced, healthy diet during the holidays & enjoy the meals & deserts, but mostly enjoy the company. 

Be a healthier you no matter your present circumstances. It can be accomplished with a little thought & planning. Have a Happy Thanksgiving full of Love & Gratitude.

Until next week…Mary 🙂

A Vegan Thanksgiving!


Thanksgiving at my house will be strictly vegan this year. Our house rule is that we are vegan at home & vegetarian when out & about or for special occasions. This rule has always worked for us, especially when a pizza craving occurs. This year we have found that we migrate to vegan food even when out & about. We just feel healthier eating this way. Hence the Vegan Thanksgiving. 

In the past I have posted a balanced look at Thanksgiving recipes. You can find those posts here:

This year I want to share how a vegan cooks for this holiday. Vegans & vegetarians don’t look for a protein to be the centerpiece of the meal. It is usually a side dish. For a vegan this is especially true since we don’t eat any animal products; dairy & eggs included. We do cook with the intent of having nutritionally balanced meals. Making sure we get all the nutrients needed to stay healthy including protein, fat, fiber etc. 

What do vegans eat on holidays? For a more traditional Vegan Thanksgiving meal, here are some ideas.

Delish: 24 Seriously Delicious Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes By Sienna Fantozzi, September 18, 2017 Love these recipes. Here are a few that I picked out to consider for our meal.

  • Roasted Brussels Sprouts I like simple 🙂 This is a perfect side dish. You can use frozen Brussels Sprouts too. Easy to cut while frozen.
  • Holiday Roasted Vegetables Another simple way to roast veggies. I would add turnips & or potatoes to the mix.
  • Vegetarian Mushroom Gravy You have to have gravy for the mashed potatoes. This recipe is simple & tasty. I have used it before.

Minimalist Baker: VEGAN THANKSGIVING RECIPE ROUNDUP, 65 Vegan Recipes! These recipes are organized by meals. Breakfast, Sides & Appetizers, Entrees, Desserts & Beverages. Something for everybody. Here are a few that I picked out. 

It is not difficult to change a recipe into a vegan version. Take a look at this article. Food52: Veganizing Thanksgivingby  • November 15, 2012   I found this post from 2012 to share with you. The author, Gena Hamshaw, shows you how to ‘veganize’ your favorite Thanksgiving recipes with links to the new version. She also includes a wonderful recipe for Butternut Squash, Brussels Sprout, and Bread Stuffing with Apples. 

One of my go to websites is Oh She Glows. Angela has a great list of recipes for Thanksgiving. She is a mother of little ones so her recipes are ‘make ahead’ or easy to throw together. The one I would like to try is Make-Ahead Roasted Butternut Squash Casserole Make sure to take time to look at her cookbook too.

Martha Stewart has some very good Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes. My favorite is using white beans: Creamy White Bean and Vegetable Mash This is a healthy, creamy mashed potato alternative. Looks good!

I also stumbled onto Food & Wine; Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes. They have some delicious recipes for any holiday! I love Mexican food. This recipe is a must try for New Years! Vegan Enchiladas You could buy the sauce. I happen to like green salsa & green enchilada sauce best. The Crema looks easy to make. Mexican food for New Years! Yes!

The Huffington Post: These 29 Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes Are An Herbivore’s Holiday Dream Come True, By Kate Bratskeir  Each recipe is linked to a vegan website. Oh She Glows contributed the first recipe: Fluffy White Dinner Rolls. Every Thanksgiving that I can remember there was always a debate as to whether we should include rolls on the menu. I always voted yes because I love breads. But every year we were all too stuffed to enjoy the homemade rolls. Most were leftover for breakfast. So why not just make them the next morning to enjoy with the leftovers! 

The Fat Free Vegan Kitchen: Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes has some traditional recipes for your dinner. We haven’t discussed desert yet. Each of the links I have provided have deserts from apple to pumpkin. But this one! Oh my! Vegan Double-Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake I don’t use vegan cheese or butter, but I will make an exception for this lovely treat. 

For an easy vegan pumpkin pie from scratch by the Minimalist Baker: VEGAN GLUTEN-FREE PUMPKIN PIE You can buy a ready to use vegan crust or my favorite crust is to use phyllo dough layers. It looks pretty when done & they are easy to use. I use olive oil between the layers as I place them in the pie dish. You can find the recipe for this here:  Athens Phyllo 

Remember the website Chocolate Covered Katie? Well, she has an apple pie recipe that sounds soooo good! Healthy Apple Pie Recipe  Browse her Recipe Index for more healthy vegan ideas.

What is my menu for this holiday? We decided to skip tradition & the dinner rolls 🙂 

Happy cooking! Until next week…Mary

***To replace an egg in a recipe…

Cold & Flu Season is Here Again!

Herbs by MHollander

The downside of autumn thru Winter is  the cold & flu season. I write about this every year to remind you that there are natural ways to cope with the symptoms. Once again I am going to share 2 of my posts from September, 2015. I have updated them & added additional information, including some new websites & soup recipes.

I recommend these remedies & teas for everyone, not just cancer patients in or out of treatment, but for family, caregivers & friends as well. Oncologists differ in what they ask you to NOT take during your treatment. Please check with them before you start using any of these products. 

What can you safely use for cold & flu symptoms before, during & after chemotherapy, radiation or surgery? There are literally thousands of over the counter remedies to choose from. Most of these have ingredients that will interact with medications & may have side effects. I will talk about remedies that are natural & easy to find. I will also note if there are any drug interactions that you should be aware of. 

Lets begin with ways to help stimulate the immune system to fight off colds & flu. Here are the obvious ones.

  • Eat a balanced, plant based, healthy diet. Think Mediterranean ?
  • Eliminate added sugar & processed foods.
  • Alleviate stress with mindfulness programs, meditation, art, massage & other non-drug, complementary therapies.
  • Exercise: Walks, Yoga, Zumba etc.

These are the remedies we use to ward off those colds & flu starting in November.

  • Vitamin C:  1000 mgm each morning. This is an anti-oxidant & you should check with your health care team if you are taking chemotherapy or in radiation.
  • Elderberry Syrup: 1 Tablespoon each morning during flu season. Black elderberries are anti-viral & will relieve flu symptoms. They are also protective if taken every morning during the flu seasonSambucus Syrup by Nature’s Way is a good, safe brand to use. Gaia Black Elderberry Syrup is another good, safe brand.  This is also an anti-oxidant & you should check with your health care team if you are taking chemotherapy or in radiation. ***If you are interested in making your own Elderberry Syrup, as I do, email me & I will share the recipe I use.


Herbal Teas are wonderful to help with cold & flu symptoms. Taken in tea form, two or three times a day, they will not interact with medications. Here are 2 safe brands of herbal medicinal teas I use & recommend. I have also included a few that you should know about for other problems ? Explore the tea aisle of your store or go to the links I have provided to see what other seasonal, medicinal, teas there are.

Traditional Medicinals Seasonal Teas: These are the teas that I have personal experience with. Traditional Medicinals are organic, herbal teas. Herbal teas should be steeped for  7-10 minutes. Follow the directions on the package.

  • Gypsy Cold Care: I use this tea when exposed to a cold or when I start with the runny nose & itchy eyes. I drink an 8 ounce cup three times a day for 2 to 3 days. “Elder, yarrow and peppermint—the foundation of this tea—are a classic European blend of herbs used for centuries. We love the aroma of the pungent, minty steam that rises off this tea. Sip slowly and let your weary body be comforted by its warming properties. Fragrant and soothing, it’s one of those teas that just seems to say, “don’t worry, everything’s going to be all right.”
  • Throat Coat: The herbal ingredients in this tea soothe a raw throat. I have also used it for GERD or acid reflux. Works well for both. “Slippery elm or Ulmus rubra (Latin for “red elm,” so called for its lovely reddish bark) is a beautiful, native North American elm tree. It’s the inner bark of this tree that is actually called “slippery elm” due to its, yes, slippery, smooth, and slimy-in-a-good-way properties. Combined with licorice and marshmallow root, we think this tea blend is like taking your voice to the spa—because we all need a little comfort sometimes so we can get back to being our best.”
  • Breathe Easy: Love this tea! It opens up those bronchial. When my grandsons were babies & had a bad cold where they weren’t able to lie down because of respiratory congestion, I gave them a tablespoon or two of prepared tea. Within a few minutes they were asleep. I also use it for other types of respiratory congestion such as asthma. “One of our original formulas, Breathe Easy tea has been supporting people for nearly four decades. This enduring classic combines the best of Western herbalism with ancient Traditional Chinese wisdom resulting in a unique blend that warms and engages the senses. Eucalyptus, fennel and licorice are combined with Bi Yan Pian extract, a traditional Chinese formula of 12 different herbs. We love this aromatic and fragrant blend that soothes with its warm and spicy taste.”
  • Echinacea Plus: Echinacea is a good immune stimulant. This tea or Echinacea Plus Elderberry is very good.  “Echinacea—or purple coneflower—was used by a number of Native American tribes for hundreds of years before it was introduced into Western herbal traditions in the late 1800s. Today, it is one of the most studied herbs. We love how this pleasant-tasting herbal blend supports a healthy immune system response.”

You should also know about other teas that I recommend from this company: 

Yogi Cold Weather Season Teas: This brand is as good as Traditional Medicinals. It is a fantastic company & uses Organic herbs. Herbal teas should be steeped for 7-10 minutes. Follow the directions on the package.

  • Breathe Deep: Similar to Breathe Easy. I prefer the herbs used in Breathe Easy, but both work the same. See which one works best for you. “Relax and breathe in the enchanting aroma of a steaming cup of Yogi Breathe Deep tea. This all organic blend of herbs is purposefully formulated to support respiratory health. Traditionally used to support free breathing, we include Thyme and soothing, aromatic Eucalyptus. Warming spices Cinnamon, Cardamom and Ginger, combine with Licorice for a naturally spicy-sweet blend. Enjoy this tea plain or with a little honey, and experience delight with every steaming cup of Breathe Deep tea.”
  • Honey Lemon Throat Comfort Throat Comfort: “The perfect way to help soothe your throat is with a cup of our certified organic Honey Lemon Throat Comfort® tea. This traditional herbal formula, flavored with Honey and Lemon, includes Slippery Elm Bark, prized by Western herbalists for its usefulness in relieving minor throat irritation. Wild Cherry Bark, traditionally used by native North Americans for its soothing effects, lends a naturally sweet cherry flavor. We augment this recipe with Echinacea Root and a burst of Peppermint for cooling refreshment. Enjoy our Honey Lemon Throat Comfort tea as a naturally tasty treat or when you need a gentle and comforting blend to soothe your throat.” Both teas are excellent to soothe the throat. Throat Comfort would be the one to use for GERD or gastric reflux. The lemon in the other one may irritate the gastric lining in this case.
  • Cold Season Tea: A good “protective” tea for the cold season. Like Gypsy Cold Care, I use it when I know I have been exposed to a cold or I begin to have the runny nose & itchy eyes. “Cold Season is a soothing all organic herbal tea specifically formulated for use during the cold weather season. We start with the warming herbs traditionally used in Ayurveda–Ginger, Cardamom, Cinnamon and Clove–known as heating herbs that can help to support respiratory and bronchial function. The blend is complemented with Peppermint, Eucalyptus and Basil, herbs traditionally used for their warming and invigorating properties. So when the cold weather season arrives, relax and sip a steaming cup of Cold Season tea to help keep your internal fire blazing.”
  • Echinacea Immune Support: Good tea to support immune function. Health practitioners for centuries have respected the powers of Echinacea. Traditionally used for centuries, our exclusive combination combines three varieties of Echinacea root, an herb that is believed by herbalists to support the immune system. We complement this blend with Elder Berry Extract and soothing Organic Mullein Leaf, herbs traditionally used to help support respiratory function. Hints of spice combine with lively Peppermint, Lemongrass, Rose Hip and sweet Licorice for an intriguingly delicious blend. This blend is sure to become an all-season favorite as well as when your immune system needs support.”

Other Yogi teas that I recommend: 

  • Soothing Mint Get Regular  for constipation, even when chemotherapy induced. This is a new combination. Mint was added. Plain old Get Regular was discontinued. I like this better.
  • Ginger for all nausea
  • Bedtime for those sleepless nights!

I have shared this website with you before: Mountain Rose Herbs This link goes to their bulk tea blends. For their Organic Herbal Teas  I prefer bulk teas to tea bags. I also like to blend my own teas. 


Lozenges for colds, coughs & sore throats: Cough suppressants prevent or stop a cough. An expectorant is a medication that helps bring up the mucus in the lungs.

I saw 2 interesting questions on line about cough drops; How many calories are there in one cough drop? & How many cough drops would be an overdose? I don’t think calories should be a concern when you are coughing your lungs up ? & you should not be eating these like candy. Most packages say the “serving size” is one lozenge & should be taken as needed up to 5 lozenges PER DAY. 

  • Organic Sambucus Lozenges by Nature’s Way: These lozenges shorten my cold symptoms & reduce the severity. They contain Elderberry, Vitamin C & Zinc. I also use them as a cough suppressant. “Made with unique, full-spectrum black elderberry extract. Each lozenge provides 12.5 mg of Black Elderberry Extract, plus 5 mg of Zinc~should never exceed 10mg~ and 60 mg Vitamin C.”
  • Ricola Original Natural Herb Cough Drop: My husband prefers these. They are cough suppressants & work every time he uses them. Ricola original herb cough drops contain the goodness of mountain herbs. This classic Ricola product has a distinctive cube shape and fine herb flavor. Original Ricola natural herb cough drops are made today just as they were in the 1940’s using the highest quality natural herbs cultivated in Swiss alpine areas using natural farming methods without chemical pesticides to ensure optimum taste and effectiveness.”  ***Their sugar-free cough drops with green tea & echinacea contain Aspartame. Unless you have a medical reason to use a sugar-free cough drop, I would not use them.
  • Smith Brothers & Halls: Both have ingredients & dyes that I would not recommend. Check out their websites & see what you think.

Aromatherapy essential Oils for congestion & cough: Use these in a diffuser or humidifier~ using the manufacturers instructions~ in the “sick” room. Do not use directly on the skin or internally. You can also put a few drops of the essential oil onto a cotton ball & place it on your bedside table or even in your pillow case.

  • Eucalyptus essential oil: Congestion & cough. Anti-microbial.
  • Camphor essential oilCongestion. Can be combined with eucalyptus for use in diffuser/humidifier. Add equal drops.
  • Peppermint essential oil: Congestion & headache. Anti-bacterial.
  • Thyme essential oil: Congestion & cough.
  • Tea Tree essential oilClears sick room; anti-viral. Congestion & cough.
  • Oregano essential oil: Proven antibacterial. Fights sinus infections.
  • Orange essential oil: Stimulates appetite. Add a drop to your place-mat or napkin ?

Umcka Cold Care : Umcka Original Drops are made by Nature’s Way. One of my daughter’s favorite cold care remedies for my grandsons. They are 16 & 20 now, but still use it 🙂 This product is Homeopathic which means it will not interact with any medications. “Umcka goes beyond symptom relief and actually helps you recover faster – which means you can get back to life faster, too. In fact, studies show that adults with acute bronchial irritations were able to return to work nearly two days earlier with EPs 7630. You can feel confident knowing that the EPs 7630 found within Umcka has been widely studied by various clinical organizations in the treatment of the common cold, bronchial irritations and other upper respiratory concerns.” 

Olbas Oil:  Place a drop or two on a cotton ball or a handkerchief. Place it on or under your pillow when napping or before bed time. It will act as a decongestantOlbas Oil originated in Basel, Switzerland over 100 years ago, and continues to be a European and worldwide favorite. The natural essential oils in Olbas are extracted from six medicinal herbs, which have been the basis of healing in cultures around the world for centuries. These oils are carefully blended by Swiss herbalists, making the Olbas formula truly unique. The synergistic combination of these six essential oils provides amazing sensations to your body at multiple levels.”

*** If your sore throat or cough is severe, persists for more than 2 days, is accompanied or followed by fever, headache, rash, swelling, nausea, or vomiting, call your health care team. This may be more than a cold or a mild case of the flu.

There are many homemade remedies to treat the symptoms from a cold or flu. I will share the ones that I use & that I know work. Each year more over the counter cold & flu remedies are pulled off the shelf by the FDA due to ingredients that are harmful to both adults & children. Sometimes over the counter cold & flu remedies make you feel worse because of the side-effects & the cost ?

If you don’t grow your own herbs then you can purchase fresh herbs like sage, thyme & rosemary in the produce section of the market. You can also use dried. Simply buy them in the spice aisle. There are many sage’s. The one to use medicinally is the culinary sage. At the end of this post is a list of resources. They are my well used & loved herbal reference books & websites.

Sore throats can be bacterial or viral infections. The majority of them are due to viral infections heralding the start of a common cold. Throat inflammation is an immune response to the virus & usually accompanies a runny nose & cough. The following simple remedies will relieve the soreness & calm the inflammation in the throat.

  • Gargle with warm salt waterWater should be warm to the touch but not hot.  1 cup of water & 1/4 tsp salt. Swish & spit.
  • Sore Throat Gargle by the herbalist Rosemary Gladstar. This one has a bit of Zip to it. Rosemary says that she is the first to admit that it isn’t her tastiest recipe but it works for both sore throats & laryngitis.
    • 1 cup of apple cider vinegar ~I use Bragg’s~
    • 1 cup of strong (triple strength) sage tea ~I use 3 tablespoons of fresh sage or you can use 3 teaspoons dried sage, bring 1 cup of water to boil, add sage & steep for 15 minutes~
    • 2-3 teaspoons of salt
    • Pinch of Cayenne

Combine all of the ingredients. Gargle frequently as needed throughout the day. Don’t swallow, swish & spit.

  • Sage Gargle. This is an old family recipe that Dr. Low Dog recommends for a sore throat. It works quickly.
    • 1 tablespoon fresh sage leaves or 2 teaspoons of dried sage 
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt  
    • 1 cup of water

Bring the water to a boil, add sage, cover & let steep for 10 minutes. Strain, pour into a tea mug, add the salt & stir.

Gargle every 1-2 hours, or as needed. Don’t swallow, swish & spit.

***Dr. Low Dog notes that this gargle can be used along with antibiotics for strep throat.

Strep throat symptoms By Mayo Clinic Staff  In general, signs and symptoms of strep throat include: ***Click on the link & read the entire article for when to see the doctor etc.

  • Throat pain
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Red and swollen tonsils, sometimes with white patches or streaks of pus
  • Tiny red spots on the soft or hard palate — the area at the back of the roof of the mouth
  • Swollen, tender lymph glands (nodes) in your neck
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Rash
  • Stomachache and sometimes vomiting, especially in younger children
  • Fatigue

***Strep throat is bacterial & different than a cold because it never has the stuffy nose & cough. Strep throat is highly contagious so it is important to be treated immediately with a course of antibiotics. 

Cough. This is your bodies way of telling you that you have too much mucous, gastric acid, or you have been breathing in smoke. It varies from a small irritating tickle in the back of your throat to a full blown wet cough. Coughs that accompany colds last about 3 weeks. If they last longer than that or continue to get worse you should consult your health care team.

  • Honey has been used for coughs forever! Researchers have studied different types of honey & found that all of them work as well as any over the counter cough syrup. It is especially effective for children over the age of 12 months to relieve a nighttime cough. Dosage is 1-2 teaspoons before bed. Works for adults too ? It is a great soother for throat cancer patients with sores or thrush in the mouth & throat. 

***Honey should never be given, even a tiny taste, to children under the age of 12 months. Wild honey can be contaminated with bacteria, Clostridium Botulinum, & may cause poisoning in infants and young children. However, this is not a danger for older children and adults.

  • Thyme Cough Syrup by Dr. Low DogThis is her go-to cough syrup because it works quickly, is safe, tastes great & costs very little to make. Thyme relieves coughs & congestion.
    • 4 tablespoons fresh Thyme or 4 teaspoons dried Thyme ~culinary, common garden thyme~
    • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
    • 1 cup of water
    • 1/4 cup honey, preferably raw & local or 1/4 cup maple syrup if using it for a child under 12 months of age.

Pour near-boiling water over thyme & steep, covered, for 15 minutes. strain. Add honey & lemon juice. Refrigerate for up to 1 week.

Children 12 months or older: 1-2 teaspoons every 2-3 hours as needed.

Teens & Adults: 1-2 tablespoons every 2-3 hours as needed.

Congestion. This is usually an excessive amount of mucus or secretions in your respiratory track. It causes difficulty breathing thru the nose or sometimes even the mouth. If the congestion becomes worse & you have difficulty breathing then it indicates that it has moved lower into the lungs. You should seek medical advice.

  • Warm water with lemon & honey helps loosen congestion, and prevents dehydration. 
  • My recipe; for colds & upper respiratory congestion. I don’t know where the original recipe came from, but I have tweaked it enough over the years to call it mine ? It works well. It is too spicy for children under 10. I used to say over the age of 4 but I have reconsidered that advice based on experience.
    • 1 cup of water  
    • 1/4 cup unfiltered apple cider vinegar~I use Bragg’s~
    • Juice of 1 fresh lime
    • Honey to taste
    • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger root 
    • 1/4 teaspoon Cayenne powder ~ don’t use less, even if you don’t like cayenne~

Bring the water to a boil & then add the rest of the ingredients. Let sit overnight before using. Can be refrigerated for up to 1 week. I prefer to use it warm. Take 1-2 tablespoons as needed. For children over the age of 10, 1 teaspoon as needed. It is quite spicy! 

  • Fire CiderThere are many versions of fire cider. I use Rosemary Gladstar’s. This is an immune enhancer, can be used for digestive problems, sinus infection & congestion!
    • 3-4 Tablespoons fresh horseradish root grated I tried using horseradish powder when I couldn’t find the root; did not work!
    • 1 medium onion chopped
    • 4-5 cloves of garlic coursley chopped
    • 3-4 tablespoons freshly grated gingerroot
    • Honey to taste 
    • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder
    • unfiltered apple cider vinegar~I use Bragg’s~

Combine the onion, garlic, ginger & horseradish in a wide mouthed glass quart jar. Add enough warmed vinegar to cover them. Place it in a warm spot & let it sit for 3-4 weeks. Strain, & add the honey & cayenne. It should taste lively, hot, pungent & sweet.

Take 1-2 teaspoons at the first sign of a cold & repeat every 3-4 hours until symptoms subside. 

Cold Remedies. Fire Cider ~above~ & Honey-Onion Syrup are to fight off a cold. You can use either of them at the first sign of a cold or if you are already suffering from one.

  • Honey-Onion Syrup for Colds. Rosemary Gladstar shared this old fashioned recipe for sore throats & colds. 
    • 2-4 large onions sliced into thin half-moons & place in a deep pan. Just barely cover the onion slices with honey.
    • Warm on the stove over a very low heat until the onions are soft & somewhat mushy & the honey tastes strongly of onion.
    • You can add chopped garlic if you want for an even stronger syrup: stronger medicinally & tasting!
    • At the first sign of a cold take 1/2 to 1 teaspoon every hour or two until you feel better. If you already have a cold then take 1 teaspoon 3-4 times a day to speed your recovery.
  • Chicken Soup: Studies of homemade chicken soup to cure or limit a cold have shown that it acts as an anti-inflammatory. It also speeds up the movement of mucus through the nose. This can relieve congestion & prevent dehydration. Homemade is the best, but if you buy an organic canned soup then check the list of ingredients. 
    • Super Soups: Vegetarian Times “Nearly every culture turns to soup to heal, nourish, and soothe. Whether you’re battling a bad cold or the stomach flu, the food that can always comfort and nourish is soup. “Soups are warm and easy to take,” says Andrew Weil, MD, director of the University of Arizona’s Integrative Medicine Program. “They’re an excellent way to get nutrients, and they provide good associations for people.” Research confirms the health-giving properties of these home remedies and their active ingredients. Try these healing soup recipes from all over the world to ward off illness or just warm up a chilly weeknight supper.”
    • Allrecipes: 14 Soothing Soups For Cold And Flu Season  By Vanessa Greaves
    • Everyday Good Thinking: 5 Soothing, Staple Soups for Cold & Flu Season  

Fever. If you have a fever of 103 or higher & it lasts more than 3 days you should consult your health team. A fever means a healthy immune system. It is telling your body to raise the heat to defend itself. You don’t need to treat the fever. You need to treat whatever is causing the fever. Support the body during the time you have the fever by doing the following.

  • Hydrate. It is easy to become dehydrated when you have a fever. Drink water, juice, & healthy broths. Avoid alcohol, coffee and caffeinated drinks. Chamomile & or Lemon Balm tea are calming & hydrating.
  • Rest. Sleep does wonders when you are ill.
  • Nourishment. Healthy broths & soups ~see chicken soup above~
  • Cool down. Wear light clothes. Taking a tepid, not cold, bath can help as long as you wrap up in a towel after the bath to avoid being too chilled.

If you have any questions or you have a family remedy you would like to share, email me! I would love to collect some old family herbal remedies…..Until next week…Mary ?

Resources:  Take time to look at the Plants Archives by Traditional Medicinals & the Yogi Tea: Well Being links below.

*** If your sore throat or cough is severe, persists for more than 2 days, is accompanied or followed by fever (103 or higher & lasts more than 3 days), headache, rash, swelling, nausea, or vomiting, call your health care team. This may be more than a cold or a mild case of the flu.