Thursday, November 28, 2013

Jumpstart Your Morning: The Powers Of Green Smoothies - Guest Article by Virginia Cunningham

Okay. So you want to get healthy. Great. Awesome. WONDERFUL. Now, how do you plan to go about it?

Go Vegan! But wait . . . vegan means no meat and no dairy, right? Which means no cheese? Hm . . . That could be a problem.  And. . . . Woah! Wait a minute: that means NO ICE CREAM!!! Gasp. Impossible.

Okay, so maybe not vegan. But, what about vegetarian? Seems like a good idea. Good for your body, good for the animals. But are you really ready to completely give up that amazing cheeseburger they make at that cute little hole-in-the-wall restaurant down the street?

Sugar? Maybe it’s time to give up sugar? Oh come on. Life without chocolate? What’s the point?

So what if, just this once, getting healthy wasn’t about giving something up? What if getting healthy could be about adding more of something to your diet? Okay, now we might be onto something. So what could you add to your diet that would make it healthier?

More fruit and veggies of course!

Hello? Did we lose you? Okay, so it’s true—we’ve all heard it before. We need to incorporate more fruit and veggies into our diets. But seriously—how many giant spinach salads can you eat for dinner before you get just plain bored?

One solution? Green smoothies. They’re easy to make and there are nearly endless varieties and options, and let’s not forget that they’re chock-full of tons of nutrients. 

So What is a Green Smoothie?

Green smoothies are simply leafy green vegetables, blended into—you guessed it—a smoothie, with fruit, a liquid (like water or almond milk) and maybe some herbs like cilantro or mint.

The benefits of these tasty little treats are many. For one thing, leafy, green veggies contain essential nutrients and phyto-chemicals, which may reduce the risk of cancer and stroke. They’re also rich in fiber, which aids in digestion. These vegetables also lower cholesterol and blood pressure, which, as we know, are major factors in heart disease.

Spinach is very high in iron and Kale is a terrific source of calcium.  And, of course, fruits and veggies abound with vitamins A, B, C, K and more.

For a detailed list of some of the benefits of specific greens, check out: Leafy Green Vegetables: How Food Affects Health.

Another terrific boon of green smoothies is that, because they’re blended rather than juiced, the ingredients maintain their fiber. Fiber helps fill you up, which means that you can drink a big smoothie for breakfast and not be hungry again for hours. Or, you can have a smaller one before big meals and you’ll feel less inclined to over-indulge.

Additionally, fiber aids in digestion by helping to move food through the digestive tract. It may also be associated with a lower risk of Gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).


Green smoothies are convenient, too. Although maximum nutritional benefit comes from drinking them immediately after juicing, they’ll keep for hours in the fridge and still provide lots of awesomeness. You can take them to work for your 10 am snack—think how much money you’d save if you substituted a smoothie for your morning Starbucks run!—Or to the gym to help keep you energized and hydrated. And there’s no end to the flavor combinations you can come up with.

Feeling like something a little sweet this morning? Try a Collard Greens Smoothie with mango and lime. Mmmm, tasty!

Or maybe you’d rather have something a little lighter and more refreshing? Try a Clean Breeze Smoothie, with cucumber and kiwi. Or experiment and invent your own favorites based on flavor combinations you love or specific nutritional needs you want to meet.

Green smoothies can be a terrific way to make real strides in your health and well-being, without actually having to give anything up. And—who knows—after a few weeks of satisfying smoothies, maybe it won’t be so hard to forego that burger.

Virginia Cunningham is a freelance writer, experienced yogi and health enthusiast living in the Los Angeles area. Her writing covers personal wellness and fitness, natural supplements, holistic therapies and much more. What are some of your favorite green smoothies? Share your comments below!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Redefining Normal after Illness

A few years ago I fell down a flight of stairs injuring my lower back and breaking my right ankle in three places.   During my recovery I developed lupus-like symptoms finally diagnosed as Undifferentiated Mixed Connective Tissue Disease.   The condition left me with significant numbness and piercing pain in both my hands and arms  – during flare-ups my hands go numb and I become very clumsy.   I finally went to plastic cups after breaking almost all of my glassware!

I am an attractive over fifty-year-old woman with no overt signs of illness or disability.  I have developed a higher-than-normal pain threshold, after years of living with fibromyalgia, a condition which causes widespread muscle and joint pain.  MRI’s have revealed two compressions, a herniated disk, and a spondylothesis.    Lastly, a neurologist and EMG studies found pinched nerves as the cause of my severe right hip pain and reduced range-of-motion.

I have a handicap license plate on my car, and during my flare-ups welcome the opportunity to limit my walking distance from the parking lot.   I have experienced my fair share of dirty looks and nasty comments from on-lookers who question my disability. 

As a registered nurse I know that I will never be symptom-free and as a doctor of naturopathy I have been able to find periodic relief from non-invasive treatments like hydro-therapy, massage, and herbal cocktails.   After years of denying the need for medication I finally decided that prescription anti-inflammatories and pain medication was not a sign of weakness or failure, but a proper adjunct to my alternative health remedies.

Finding a new normal after being diagnosed with a chronic illness takes time, patience, and self-love.  I have learned to let go of the excess baggage in my life like disappointing and unsupportive friends.   I no longer have the cleanest house on the block.  I rely more on my husband and children to help me with household chores - The dishes may sit longer in the kitchen sink than I would prefer, with the dusting and vacuuming moving from daily to weekly.   I focus more on what I can do rather than what I can no longer do. 

What I do have is a more positive and realistic outlook on life and although I can no longer handle the physical demands of being a nurse, I have found exciting possibilities since enrolling in legal studies.  I am redefining myself and my illness, taking control of it – not allowing it to control me!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Female Hair Loss

The scalp contains approximately 100,000 strands of hair and on average we lose about 50 to100 strands per day. Aging and medication use, among others can cause visible changes in the hair's structure which can lead to hair loss.

A Single Strand of Hair
A single hair is composed of two parts: the hair shaft, or the visible part of the hair, and the hair root. The hair root is found below the skin and contained within a tube-like structure called the hair follicle--where hair growth occurs.

Each hair follicle goes through four phase cycle:

  1. Anagen: During the phase, which lasts about three to four years, hair is actively growing.
  2. Catagen: During this transitional phase, the hair follicle begins to shrink and wrinkle.
  3. Telogen: During this resting phase, which lasts a relatively short period of three to four months, the hair has reached the end of its life cycle and falls out. These hairs are easily removed by the act of brushing, combing, and shampooing.
  4. Mesanagen: Hair growth returns.
Generally, the time span for a full cycle varies from two to five years per hair follicle, with 10-15% of the hair on the scalp being found in the telogen phase. Stalled growth and hair loss occurs when a larger percentage of hair is found in the telogen phase. If a bald spot develops, it is often due to a large batch of telogen hair follicles.

Causes of Hair Loss
There are many causes of hair loss and curing the problem may be simply a matter of changing a diet or reducing stress. However, disease and genetics are issues not easily circumvented, as are problems related to those discussed below.

Diet and Supplements
Hair (as well as nails and skin) is composed of keratin, which is a type of protein. Therefore, low-protein diets can compromise the integrity of the hair. In addition to protein, our hair requires the benefits derived from a variety of vitamins and minerals, such as B-complex, Vitamin D, calcium, copper, and zinc.

DHEA - A  Dietary Supplement
More is not always better when it comes to the nutritional needs of the body. Take for example DHEA—it is a precursor to both male and female sex hormones, and naturally produced by the adrenal glands. DHEA levels begin to decline after age 30 and have been related to complaints of low sex-drive in women. Unfortunately, the long term effects of DHEA have also been associated with significant hair loss.

Hormonal Changes
Every woman, at one time or another will experience hair loss as the effects of aging and decreasing levels of estrogen associated with menopause can trigger such events. Other hormonal shifts from birth control, menstruation cycle, perimenopause, and even pregnancy have been associated with hair loss.

More serious hormonal imbalances related to polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), thyroid disorders, insulin resistance, testosterone levels, and adrenal disorders can manifest itself in dramatic changes in the hair structure.

Infection and Inflammatory Conditions
A rash-like extremely itchy condition called folliculitis results from inflammed hair follicles. It is triggered by ingrown hairs, allergic reactions, yeast infections, or skin disorders.

Alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition characterized by patchy bald spots on the head. Alopecia, skin infections, and inflammatory conditions are best diagnosed and treated by a dermatologist.

It is common knowledge that one of the many side effects of chemotherapy drugs is major hair loss. But did you know that many commonly prescribed drugs also have the potential to cause hair loss? This can include medications such as:

  • Antidepressants
  • High blood pressure medications, specifically beta-blockers and ACE inhibitors.
  • Mood stabilizers
  • Hormone replacement therapy
  • Weight control medication
  • Lupus medications
  • Parkinson's drugs

Drug-induced hair loss can occur in one of two ways:
1.  By causing the hair to prematurely enter the telogen (resting) phase and fall out, or
2.  By preventing the cells from dividing and growing normally during the anagen (active) phase.

Also problematic is the fact that the outward signs of hair loss may not be visible for several weeks to even months of taking the medication.

In conclusion, hair loss can be caused by a variety of conditions, some of which are easy to treat and cure while others are more serious and require more stringent methods of care. The bottom line is, see a doctor before you self-diagnose and treat hair loss. The condition that you see on your hair (or skin) may signal something more serious going on inside your body.

BIO: Dr. Mundorff is the author of several books, Memories of My Sister: Dealing With Sudden Death, Medical Terminology: A Student Workbook, and her latest, Take Control: A Guide to Holistic Living, is an innovative health guide, which helps the reader learn how to regain control of their health by discovering the practical effectiveness of combining alternative and modern medicine. You can reach her at or visit her blog at

Disclaimer: Dr. Mundorff is a Registered Nurse and Board Certified Naturopath, and not a medical doctor. The information in this column is for educational purposes only and should not be used to self-diagnose and treat diseases. Naturopathy is a complementary practice to health care and should be used in conjunction with a competent health care practitioner. Many herbal and homeopathic remedies can actually be contraindicated in many health conditions, with certain prescriptions, and over-the-counter medications. Please consult your physician before starting any alternative modalities.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Frankincense and Mistletoe, by Allie Brook

Hello everyone and my apologies for being gone so long!  I am going to end the year with a guest article from Ms. Allie Brook (see her bio at the end of the article) and I will be back with new articles in 2012.  I want to wish you all a healthy and safe holiday season and a new year full of love, happiness, and laughter!    Linda Mundorff

How these holiday favorites is making a comeback

As the holidays creep up among us, and our houses start to smell of cinnamon and sweet pumpkin pies, I bet no one had a second thought about the effect of those scents on the body and mind. Certain scents open different parts of the mind and body to produce positive effects, and if you don’t think this is true; think again. Even the most simple of scents has an effect on a person’s mood, attitude towards the situation, and so on. Smells and Scents have an effect on just about everything and everyone.

This is why we invest time and considerations in the perfumes we buy, the air fresheners we stock in our homes, and of course holiday scents. And the most notable, and probably most historic, holiday scent in Frankincense. The widely used aromatherapy plant has been used for generations to clear the mind and open the soul. It’s mostly known for its presence in the story of the Three-Wise Men and in Roman Catholic ceremonies, but never for clinical trials….right?

Well, now Frankincense is making a comeback by being used as an integrative therapy in cancer treatment. There have been many scientific studies proving the “reset” function frankincense has on the brain. Doctors have noted a frankincense aromatherapy treatment, actually separates the nucleus of the cancerous cell from the cytoplasm, making it unable to reproduce corrupt/cancerous DNA. This is a major development in cancer treatment since the frankincense does not negatively interact with healthy cells, unlike chemotherapy.

Another holiday favorite that is making its debut in the medical realm is Mistletoe. This common decoration and kissing tradition, is now way more than just that. Being studied for over 90 years now, mistletoe is showing impressive effects in the battle against cancer. So far, a 30-year long controlled study has shown that patients using Iscador treatments with conventional treatments have a 40% greater chance of survivability. Iscador, is the medical term for the derivative used from the mistletoe plant.

Today, many doctors recommended patients with a low-survivability rate cancer, such as non-hodgkin’s lymphoma or pleural mesothelioma, to practice aromatherapy sessions or use Iscador as complementary therapies. They also suggest taking classes to learn the helpful components of aromatic herbs and oils to help boost the immune system. The aromatherapy classes also give the patients a sense of control when life might seem out of their reach.

Who would have thought that over nine-thousand year ago a cleansing and curative plants would be the medical science of tomorrow?

Frankincense Reference:

Mistletoe Reference:
Cancer Information: and

BIO:  I live in Florida, but recently graduated from University of Mississippi, with a degree in biomedical anthropology. I have kept busy with this endeavor and travel a great deal to study the effects of biomedicalization on traditional medicine in certain cultures.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Vitamin K

Vitamin K is a fat soluble vitamin that is stored in the fat cells (known as adipose tissue), liver, and pancreas. It has many functions, and research at the Mayo Cancer Center in Minnesota found that "the risk of developing non-Hodgkin lymphomas—cancer of the immune system—was approximately 45% lower for those whose vitamin K intake was in the top quarter, vs. those whose intake of the vitamin was in the bottom quarter."


Vitamin K deficiency is uncommon in healthy adults because it is found in a variety of foods and is conserved through a process called the ‘vitamin K cycle’.

The Three Forms of Vitamin K:

• Vitamin K1 is the dietary form found in green leafy vegetables
• Vitamin K2 is naturally synthesized by normal colon bacteria
• Vitamin K3 is a major contributor in the blood clotting process


Most people have no idea what vitamin K's function is in the body.  So it might surprise you to know that:

• It regulates blood clotting, occurring when any injury results in a tear in a blood vessel.
• It transports calcium out of the blood vessels and into those bones deficient of the mineral.
• It prevents the calcification of organs and other soft tissues.
• It promotes healthy bones and reduces fractures, especially among postmenopausal women.

Food Sources

The vitamin is predominately found in green leafy vegetables such as spinach, asparagus, kale and broccoli; and in a small group of vegetable oils (such as olive, cottonseed, soybean, and canola oils). A liquid form can be found in water-soluble chlorophyll, and vitamin K is also enriched in olestra-containing foods*.


Although vitamin K deficiencies are rare, certain diseases can interfere with vitamin K's production cycle:

• Liver disease,
• Gallbladder disease such as fat malabsorption syndrome,
• Platelet disorders,
• Chrohn's disease, and
• Celiac disease

Drug Interactions

Most individuals receive their daily recommended amount of vitamin K through diet and taking a daily multi-vitamin. However, too much vitamin K, either in dietary form or in supplements, can interfere with the medicinal effects of certain medications:

• Anticoagulants like warfarin, and
• Anticonvulsants like isoniazid

Interference with Vitamin K Absorption

On the other hand, some medications can interfere with the body's ability to utilize vitamin K. These medications interfere with the absorption of dietary fats and therefore, may block the proper absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (such as vitamins K, A, D, and E):

• Phenytoin,
• Orlistat
• Olestra*
• Cholestyramine
• Colestipol

Balancing the medicinal and nutritional needs of the body can often be a delicate process. Therefore, always consult with your physician before taking any self-help remedies.


*Olestra is a substance added to many weight-loss products because it blocks absorption of fat. The substance may also reduce the body's ability to absorb fat-soluble vitamins. The Food and Drug Administration now requires that vitamin K as well as the other fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, and E) be added to food products containing olestra.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Holistic Approach to Healthy Living, Weight Loss, Diet & Exercise


Holistic living is a dedication to a lifestyle of balance and health. According to Linda Mundorff in her book, "Take Control: A Guide to Holistic Living," it involves several things, including making time for family, getting along with others, spirituality and relaxation time. It also requires a commitment to a healthy diet and staying physically active. There are numerous ways you can go about this holistically. An understanding of the fundamentals of health and the body will better help you along your path.

Read more:

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Better Bladder Health in Just a Few Weeks

Healthy bladders are often compromised by extended sitting and poor bathroom facilities (in both quality and quantity)—both common aspects in our nation’s schools and workplaces. These conditions often account for the retraining of the bladder to store a larger volume of urine than is medically recommended. This can cause a sluggish bladder, which results in the urge to empty the bladder again in a relatively short amount of time.

The bladder is simply a reservoir for urine and not designed to store copious amounts of urine. The brain signals the urge response when a pre-set amount, which varies per individual, is stored. A good rule of thumb is to comfortably wait to empty the bladder every couple of hours.

Many individuals, especially women, have a tendency to ignore this urge and will wait to urinate when their bladder is two or three times larger than the recommended volume.

The regular flushing of the bladder serves to discourage bacterial growth, while maintaining proper bladder size and elasticity. An overstretched bladder is not going to recoil as effectively (think of an overused rubber band) and eventually will become sluggish. For sluggish bladders, the better bladder techniques may provide some relief. This includes:

It all Starts with a Flush

Better bladder health begins with drinking lots of water to help dilute the urine and regularly flush the bladder. The goal is to reach eight glasses per day. If you do not like the taste of water, try adding the juice of a fresh lemon or orange.

Pelvic Floor Training

Strengthening the bladder muscle provides optimal storage and emptying capacities and encourages a healthy bladder. This is best achieved by Kegel exercises. Contract the pelvic floor muscles and hold for a ten-second count and relax. It is recommended that you perform ten repetitions every hour.

Walk and Squat

Better bladder health is greatly improved with the addition of this pelvic-floor strengthening exercise. The goal is to reach thirty walk and squats per day. To do a walk and squat: walk five steps, stop and squat. Hold for a five-second count and relax. Do not do all thirty at the same time—instead, perform a set of five walk and squats at a time, until you reach a total of six cycles per day.

Empty, Wait, Empty

Better bladder health includes completely emptying the bladder, otherwise the urge to go will return fifteen minutes later (however, it is normal to have a small residual of approximately 1.5 oz). Pregnancy and age can lead to bladder relaxation and result in the incomplete emptying of the bladder. Do not try to combat this by forcing urine out of the bladder, as the pressure actually causes more problems. Instead, try and relax the pelvic floor by taking several slow deep breaths. After urination, continue sitting and wait a minute and then try to urinate again to empty the rest of the bladder.

By following these recommendations, better bladder health can easily be achieved in a few short weeks. If you are suffering from a medically-related bladder disorder or take prescription medication that affects bladder emptying, be sure to consult your physician before attempting this program.