Women's Health: Targeted Probiotics for Vaginal Health (Yeast Infections, BV, and UTIs)

Most people think of probiotics as primarily for digestion, but the scope of probiotics goes far beyond that, to encompass much, much more. One of the lesser known uses for probiotics are for women’s vaginal health. There are specific probiotic strains that can help to naturally combat yeast infections, bacterial vaginal infections, as well as urinary tract infections.
The company Jarrow has two products formulated for vaginal and urinary tract health with scientifically researched strains- their shelf-stable JarrowDophilus for Women and then their refrigerated probiotic, FemDophilus.

The two probiotics offer similar benefits but differ in their use. The refrigerated FemDophilus is used more as a treatment for acute infections. It works very well to knock out yeast overgrowth and/or harmful bacteria in the vaginal tract and urinary tract. Where the JarrowDophilus Women is more for maintaining healthy vaginal flora on a regular basis.
The vaginal tract has its own specific microbiome, where good bacteria is meant to crowd out the proliferation of negative bacteria and candida. Because of this environment, targeted women’s probiotics are especially beneficial in treating and preventing vaginal infections.

Yeast infections are what most women think of when they have vaginal issues- the symptoms of yeast infections most commonly include a thick whitish discharge, irritation during intercourse or urination, and itching. It’s estimated that 75% of women will have at least one occurrence of vaginal yeast overgrowth in their lives, though some women are more prone to yeast infections and will have many reoccurrences.

Bacterial vaginosis (or BV) is less well known, but is the most common vaginal infection, estimated to affect 10-29% of women at any given time. BV can be transmitted sexually but can also occur even if a woman is not sexually active. Bacterial vaginosis is traditionally treated with antibiotics, but it has a very high reinfection rate (often 30% of infections reoccur the month following treatment and 80% of women experience recurrent BV infections after nine months). Due to this rate of BV reoccurrence, natural treatment with effective, targeted vaginal probiotics can be especially beneficial, since it treats the causes rather than just trying to make symptoms go away. Symptoms of bacterial vaginosis include thin uniform gray, yellow, or whitish discharge and and a “fishy” vaginal odor.

Treatment of BV is especially important since it can increase the risk of contracting STDs as well as increasing the risk of preterm labor during pregnancy.

In our experience, Jarrow’s FemDophilus probiotic is the best women’s probiotic available for treating acute vaginal infections and yeast overgrowth. The clinically researched strains it contains have been shown to be effective in bringing women’s bodies back into a state of proper vaginal health, both when used alone as well as in conjunction with conventional treatments (studies have even shown that the probiotic strains in FemDophilus are able to increase the effectiveness of conventional drugs treatments for both BV and yeast infections).

Thus far, I’ve mostly focused on the benefits of Jarrow’s FemDophilus, but they also have a product called JarrowDophilus for Women which is an impressive formula as well. While FemDophilus is meant to be more of a treatment for acute infections, JarrowDophilus for Women is a maintenance probiotic, formulated to encourage a healthy vaginal and urinary tract. It is especially helpful for women who have reocurrances of BV or yeast infections, since it promotes a healthy vaginal microbiome that works to crowd out those negative overgrowths, stopping reinfection.

Both are wonderful products with impressive clinically documented benefits. Stop by the store for more information and so we can help you find the product that’s right for you.

Help for New Year Resolutions

Two things we usually think of when the New Year rolls around are detoxing and weight loss. I’ll attach a few links below on articles about both. 

For weight loss, this is a great overview of different weight loss supplements, and how they work:

How to Choose the Right Weight Loss Supplement

This is an article on garcinia cambogia, a very well researched supplement that aids weight loss in a number of different ways. The garcinia cambogia product we recommend the most is Jarrow, since it has the highest potency per pill of any other garcinia cambogia formula, and is also better absorbing. Our Jarrow garcinia cambogia will be 25% off for the month of January.

Garcinia Cambogia: A Weight Loss Supplement that Really Works

Below are two articles on detoxing and cleansing for the new year:

Q & A: Detoxing for the New Year

Nature’s Plus Complete Body Cleanse

For those who want to do a simpler cleanse, we’d recommend Nature’s Secret’s 15 Day Cleanse and Flush. It’s a one bottle product that is on sale for 25% off- less than $10 a bottle. It’s a nice, easy way to start fresh and is also a nice way to begin a new diet regimen.



Our Favorites from Irwin Naturals: On Sale This January

This month we wanted to feature three of our favorite products by Irwin Naturals that are on sale this month.  They are products we and our families use and love.  Click on the links below to see our past articles for each supplement below if you would like more information.

Immuno Shield: There’s not a better all-in-one supplement for an immune boost

Power to Sleep: It really does help with sleep, both helping you to actually feel tired and reducing stress so you aren’t laying in bed worrying.

Sunny Mood: A truly fantastic supplement for an overall mood boost (something practically all of us would benefit from).  It also includes supplements that help with reducing stress.

All three of our favorites listed above will be on sale for 25% off for the month of January.


All About Curcumin and Why It's So Great

I wanted to write about curcumin again. It has become incredibly popular for helping with reducing pain and inflammation in the body- and rightly so- it really does work. New research is coming out all the time confirming its many benefits, which go far beyond just pain relief.
Curcumin, the active ingredient in the spice turmeric, has been said by many to be “the most anti-inflammatory herb on the planet”. It is difficult for the body to absorb, however, and in the past, people needed to consume mass amounts of the strongly pigmented yellow spice to be able to get enough of that beneficial extract, curcumin, to make a difference. I love eating turmeric (turmeric is the yellow spice used in many curries), but ground turmeric root is generally only 4% curcumin, so supplements are the best answer if you’re looking to get the benefits reported again and again in the scientific studies.

Even supplemental extracts of turmeric or curcumin can be difficult for the body to absorb, which is why there are very specific forms that we recommend. The company Solgar has a branded extract that they use which has been scientifically documented to be one hundred and eighty-five times better absorbed than standard curcumin extracts. If you’re interested, you can search go to our website for more information and the links to the study, or go to PubMed.gov, since I fully agree that it almost sounds too good to be true. 

We are all about science at Pass Health Foods. Sometimes I think people have the idea that natural products, vitamins, and herbs are a bunch of “hippie nonsense”, but in our store, the products we recommend are scientifically backed by research. There are times when conventional pharmaceuticals are necessary, but if you can find natural products that legitimately work, without the side effects of conventional medicines, it can be a wonderful thing.

So, back to curcumin: studies have shown again and again its benefit for pain relief, finding it equal to commercially available pain medications and NSAID drugs, but without the strain those medicines have on the liver. Ibuprofen and other drugs definitely do help with pain, but they are not meant to be taken over and over again on a daily basis. Curcumin is a great alternative, which rather than being hard on the liver, it can actually help with liver function.
In addition to pain relief, curcumin supplements have also been shown in research to have impressive results for reducing anxiety and depression, one study even found curcumin supplementation to be as effective as a prescription drug for depression, but without the side effects.

New research has also introduced curcumin as a possible aid to weight loss. One thirty day study followed people who were already on a diet and exercise regimen. They found an increased percentage of weight loss in the group who took curcumin, but even more than that was the reduction of body fat percentage for the people who took curcumin vs. the placebo group. Over thirty days the group who used diet and exercise alone had a .70% reduction in total body fat loss, but the group who used curcumin had an average of 8.43% reduction in body fat!

Curcumin supplementation has also been linked to a reduction in several types of cancers. In the past, the poor absorption of curcumin supplements was a problem for showing results in human studies, but now with newly formulated extracts like Solgar’s Full Spectrum Curcumin, which have significantly increased the body’s ability to absorb the nutrient, that is changing. Curcumin has been shown to inhibit cancer cells, prevent tumor formation, as well as slow cancer progression, and can be a helpful adjunct to traditional cancer therapies (though as with everything, be sure to inform your physician of any natural products you are taking, especially during cancer treatment).

So to sum up, while curcumin is best known for reducing joint pain and inflammation, it has many other scientifically documented benefits. Not all turmeric or curcumin supplements are equal in how well they are absorbed, so at this time, the only curcumin product we truly recommend is Solgar’s Full Spectrum Curcumin, for the simple reason that it has been shown to be so much better absorbed than any other. Since it’s a product we recommend so highly, we were able to work out a deal with the company to be able to offer 25% off on our Solgar curcumin on an everyday basis at Pass Health Foods. Stop by the store for more information, we’d love to help you further.


Magnesium: You’re Probably Not Getting Enough

Magnesium is a supplement nearly everyone would benefit from. It is needed in over three hundred different processes in the body, including proper cholesterol and blood sugar regulation, supporting the heart and cardiovascular system, maintaining bone strength, and helping to maintain normal nerve and muscle function.

With magnesium being such a crucial mineral in our diets, it’s unfortunate to note that the USDA has reported that between seventy five and eighty five percent of Americans do not receive the recommended dosages needed to meet their body’s requirements. Foods rich in magnesium include whole grains, dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds and some legumes. These foods were once plentiful in our diets, but processed foods, soft drinks and the “Standard American Diet” have severely reduced most Americans intake of magnesium. Worse, alcohol, along with many prescriptions and over the counter medications, depletes our bodies stores of magnesium even further.

Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include muscle cramps and spasms, headaches, high blood pressure, hormone imbalances, calcification of the arteries, and sleep problems, and more.

Since magnesium is a large molecule, it is not usually included (or if it is, it is usually less than recommended amounts) in most multivitamins and even most calcium supplements, which is a shame since one of the benefits of magnesium is increased calcium absorption in to the bones. Because of this, it usually needs to be taken by itself or in a quality calcium supplement that contains the proper amounts of magnesium.

Magnesium and calcium are closely interconnected, and magnesium is useful for helping to mitigate any negative effects of calcium, like hardening of the arteries through calcium deposits. Magnesium can also help to dissolve and reduce the occurrence of many kidney stones, including calcium oxalate and calcium phosphate kidney stones. Magnesium deficiency has even been linked to the increased formation of kidney stones.

Magnesium supplements can also help with preventing constipation, since magnesium in the intestines draws fluid into stool, making it easier to pass. Unlike laxatives, which can be damaging to the body, adding extra magnesium to the diet can be a great idea for people who struggle with constipation, and unlike laxatives, can be taken on a regular basis to ensure proper bowel movement.

There are numerous forms of magnesium, the best absorbing include magnesium citrate, chelated magnesium which is bound to amino acids, and magnesium glycinate. Magnesium glycinate is the form least likely to have a laxative effect in the body, so if you’ve had an issue with loose stools when taking magnesium, the glycinate form is probably the best option.

Remember, magnesium must be obtained through diet, and over three quarters of Americans do not ingest the recommended amounts of magnesium needed for their body processes. Supplementing with a quality magnesium supplement is a great idea that can help your body to run better.

New Product: Three Brains by Natural Factors

We have a new line of products by Natural Factors called Three Brains that I wanted to briefly mention in this month’s newsletter. They’re a unique line of products that can help all aspects of brain function that have a unique approach, formulated from research that has discovered an intricate relationship between the brain, the heart, and the digestive tract, which they’ve called the “Three Brains”. This research has confirmed what many natural health practitioners have known for a long time; that our bodies are wonderfully connected and must be treated as a whole for true wellness.

They have a kit, called 3 Brains Total, which includes five different products to help with supporting the complex relationship between our brain, heart, and digestive tract. It’s a great way to ensure you’re getting the things your body really needs, especially during the holidays when we’re often under more stress than usual. The kit contains probiotics for digestive health and balance, fish oil and curcumin for reducing inflammation throughout the body, phosphatidylserine for memory and brain function, and grapeseed extract, a potent antioxidant. One pack gives you the total nutrients needed for one month, so December is a great time to try it since all our Three Brains Products are 25% off this month!

The Three Brains line also has targeted supplements for a variety of brain issues, including specific products for sleep, focus, inflammation, stress, and mood. The entire line is 25% off for December, and while supplies last, with any Three Brains product purchased you will receive a free book- Three Brains: How the Heart, Brain, and Gut Influence Mental Health and Identity by Karen Jensen, MD (a $20 value).


Pycnogenol for Brain Fuction, Asthma, Blood Pressure, & More

There’s a little-known supplement that has been in several scientific journals lately with some impressive results for benefits to memory and brain function. The supplement is an extract of French maritime pine bark, known as Pycnogenol (pronounced pick-nodge-eh- nol). It’s not a new supplement, but recently some remarkable results have been reported that I thought were worth sharing.

In a yearlong study, seventy-seven adults aged 55 to 70 participated, and half the group was given 100 milligrams of Pycnogenol daily. At the end of the study, tests showed a seventy-two percent improvement in decision making in the Pycnogenol group (vs. a five percent decline in the placebo group). The attention span of the group that took Pycnogenol was increased by forty-one percent and memory improved by thirty-seven percent (compared to a ten percent decline in the control group). 

With such impressive results, I’m frankly surprised I haven’t been hearing about French maritime pine bark everywhere, though I haven’t, which is why I wanted to write about it here, particularly since the benefits were achieved by taking only one 100mg pill a day.
Pycnogenol also has a wide variety of other conditions it has been researched for positive results and has been the focus of over seventy different studies over the years. 

Another condition that Pycnogenol has had impressive benefits for is asthma, and was found to help both children and adults without adverse effects. Researchers gave participants 1 milligram of Pycnogenol per pound of body weight and found benefits for improved breathing after only one month. Also, the Pycnogenol group was able to rely on their rescue inhalers far less often.

Pycnogenol has also been shown to aid in lowering blood pressure, helping to normalize blood pressure readings in fifty-eight percent of hypertensive patients. Another study found that participants who took Pycnogenol were able to reduce their blood pressure medications after taking the supplement for 12 weeks.

Other double-blind studies have reported Pycnogenol’s benefit for lowering blood sugar in patients with Type 2 diabetes. After twelve weeks of taking the French maritime pine bark, it was reported that the supplement, “significantly lowered plasma glucose levels” when compared with the placebo. Pycnogenol also improved blood flow and blood vessel health.

Pycnogenol has also been studied with benefits for erectile dysfunction, ADD, deep vein thrombosis, menopause and more. I’m always skeptical whenever I read about so-called “miracle pills”, but Pycnogenol seems pretty close to that in reality. In November our

Pycnogenol by the company Solgar will be on sale for 25% off in November, so it’s a good time to try it!

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Natural Remedies for Gout Pain

Gout is extremely common, particularly among men. Gout occurs when uric acid accumulates in the blood and eventually crystallizes, most commonly in the joint of the big toe, which causes pain and inflammation. When crystallized, uric acid takes on the shape of a needle, literally jabbing into the joints.

Uric acid is a byproduct of many foods, so gout in most cases is directly linked to diet- rich foods and alcohol are the main culprits, though it can also be brought on by stress, certain medications, crash dieting, or injury to the joint.

Getting a 100% conclusive diagnosis for gout can be difficult since the symptoms occur inside the joints. Other conditions can mimic the symptoms of gout are rheumatoid arthritis and infections (one way to get a definitive diagnosis is for a physician to insert a needle into the affected joint to test the fluid for uric acid crystals- something that people usually avoid).

Luckily, there are some simple natural products that work very well for reducing uric acid in the body and the symptoms of gout. Both cherry fruit extract and celery seed can be extremely helpful for breaking up and reducing uric acid buildup in the body. 

There is one supplement in particular that we recommend for gout at Pass Health Foods, and that is something called Go-Out Plex. It’s a combination of two types of cherry extract- tart cherries and black cherries- both of which work slightly differently for reducing uric acid and inflammation. It also has celery seed extract, another supplement that is very effective at reducing uric acid buildup in the body. Along with those uric acid fighters, Go-Out Plex also has anti-inflammatory ingredients to help in reducing pain and redness from gout.

It’s a supplement we definitely recommend since the ingredients are backed by research, but also because we have a lot of customers who have had relief after using it. Go-Out Plex can be used preventatively if you’re prone to issues with gout, as well as in larger doses if you’re in the middle of an attack.

Some other dietary guidelines for gout would be to limit rich foods, alcohol, and sugars. Foods rich in purines, which form uric acid in the body, including anchovies, shellfish, asparagus, mussels, sardines, peanuts, and meat in general, especially bacon, turkey, and organ meats.

When experiencing an attack of gout, eating lots of raw fruits and vegetables can help, especially blueberries, cherries, and strawberries.

If following these natural remedies for gout does not seem to help, it might be a good idea to see your doctor since the symptoms you may think of as gout might actually be something else. It’s always a smart idea to keep your physician aware of any issues you may be experiencing.

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Natural Supplements for Anxiety

Q: I have a lot of anxiety.  I think I always have, but it seems to have gotten worse lately.  When I need to give presentations at work I am just full of dread.  I’ve also noticed feeling more anxious when different social engagements come up and I’ve actually been making up excuses to get out of them, even with friends.  I don’t really want to take a prescription, but I really hate feeling this way.  Is there anything natural that can help?

A: General anxiety disorder and social anxiety is extremely common.  Sometimes medications can be beneficial, but trying natural options first is a good idea.  There are a number of natural products that can work very well for helping to reduce anxiety and stress.

The first I’d mention is theanine- theanine is an amino acid found in green tea that can be very helpful for anxiety.  Theanine helps to encourage alpha brain waves, which are associated with a calm, relaxed state.  It can be taken every day without a problem if needed, but is also effective if used only occasionally when you know you’re going into a stressful situation.  All of us at Pass Health Foods use theanine at one time or another.  It’s a great supplement that helps to “take the edge off”.   

The standard dose for adults with anxiety is 200-400mg of theanine once or twice a day.  It’s a nice supplement because while it does help to reduce anxiety, it does not cause tiredness, so it can be used during the day without a problem.   Interestingly, theanine is also known to help with increasing focus.  We have our Jarrow brand theanine on everyday sale at the store since it’s a supplement we love so much.

Another idea for anxiety, especially when dealing with more extreme issues, is CBD oil. CBD is an extract from the hemp plant which has similar chemical and health properties to the THC (the psychoactive extract in marijuana known for its “high”) in cannabis, but without the mind-altering effects.

CBD is best known for its benefits for pain relief, but there are also numerous very positive studies on its benefits for reducing anxiety, as well as helping to reduce symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.  Many published studies have reported benefits of CBD for a number of different mood and emotional disorders- CBD has even been found to be beneficial for people who have not had success with conventional treatments for anxiety and depression.

CBD extract is present in both marijuana and hemp plants.  In Illinois, medical marijuana and all extracts from the cannabis plant are illegal for use without a prescription. Because of this regulation, the CBD oil we have available is sourced from the hemp plant. CBD oil ranges vastly in quality, potency, and effectiveness. Conventionally grown CBD from hemp can also have a large amount of toxins in it because hemp is naturally a “bio-accumulator” plant, which means that it draws toxins from the soil.

Because of this, we’ve been very careful in the types of CBD oil that we’ve decided to carry in the store, and have chosen the brand Green Gorilla, a high quality CBD extract consisting of entirely organic ingredients. 

Also, I wanted to say that our CBD oil is completely safe for drug testing.  Since it is source from the hemp plant, the amount of THC (the compound in marijuana that shows up on a drug test) in our Green Gorilla CBD is 0.003%, so there is absolutely no worry about any problems with a drug test (which I can’t say is the case with all CBD oils on the market).

All our Green Gorilla CBD Oils will be on sale during the month of October for 25% off.

Also, we will be having a representative from Green Gorilla in the store on Saturday, October 7th from 11-1 offering free sampling of their CBD oil that day.

Zinc Lozenges: Clinically Proven to Boost the Immune System

As the weather gets cooler, an increase in illness is often the unhappy companion of autumn. I wanted to share a simple thing to add to your arsenal against colds and respiratory infections- zinc. Most people have heard that zinc lozenges are good for the immune system, and of course I know they’re good for you, but that knowledge up until now had not made me ever want to take them- for the simple reason that I’d had them before and thought they tasted disgusting, and I basically swore them off.

Then recently, I read a new study on zinc lozenges and the immune system, and I was pretty much astounded. The analysis, published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine Open, found that zinc lozenges containing zinc gluconate were found to shorten the duration of colds by 33 percent!  Well, that convinced me (since that’s really an amazing amount). Strangely, zinc lozenges that contained vitamin C (a nutrient long used for the immune system) were significantly less effective.

Science had convinced me, and I began a search for the best tasting (or at least one that I could stand the taste of) zinc lozenge. Thankfully, my quest was not in vain, I found Zand’s Zinc Elderberry Lozenges- lozenges that contain the requisite zinc gluconate and no vitamin C. I’ve been really impressed by how good they taste (even my seven year old loves them), particularly since they contain zinc, which isn’t the greatest tasting mineral. An added benefit of these zinc lozenges is that they also contain elderberry, a superfruit with fantastic antiviral properties and they’re also low in sugar. 

Since I wanted to write about how great zinc lozenges are, we put all of our Zand zinc lozenges on sale for 25% off. We have a number of other flavors, but zinc elderberry is my favorite. Zinc taken in supplement form is good for the immune system as well, but the action of slowly sucking on a lozenge containing zinc is what has been shown to make the biggest difference when it comes to reducing cold symptoms.

I’d definitely recommend keeping a few bags of zinc lozenges in the house if illness happens to visit you. Best of all, zinc lozenges can be used in conjunction with other immune boosters for an even greater immune response. One of our favorite at the store, Irwin Naturals Immuno Shield is also on sale this October, so this month is a good time to stock up, just in case.

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