Natural Help for Cold Sores

Q:  I’ve been getting cold sores more frequently lately, and they’re driving me crazy!  Not only are they painful, but they don’t look great either and I feel like it’s so embarrassing. Do you have anything natural that can make them heal faster and maybe even prevent them from coming around?  Thanks.

A: Cold sores are caused by a variation of the herpes virus, and are incredibly common; it’s been estimated that between 50 to 80 percent of people in America experience (or will experience) cold sores caused by the herpes simplex virus. According to the National Institute of health, 90 percent of people have the virus in their bodies, even if they’ve never had a cold sore.

Cold sores can be brought on by a number of factors, stress being one of the biggest ones. Thankfully, there are natural supplements which can both help cold sore outbreaks to heal quicker and also reduce the frequency cold sore outbreaks.

Lysine is the best supplement there is when it comes to cold sores. Lysine is an amino acid that aids in the production of antibodies and slows replication of the herpes virus. The typical dose for preventing and healing cold sores is 1500mg per day, which usually works out to be three capsules (best taken in divided doses). Generally, lysine should not be taken for more than six months continuously; it’s best to take lysine for several months and then take a break until a new outbreak occurs.

Even better than taking lysine straight, is Quantum’s Super Lysine Plus capsules, which combine the recommended dose of lysine with garlic, echinacea, and propolis- potent immune boosters with antiviral properties which help to keep the herpes virus in check.

In addition to taking lysine internally we have salves containing lysine for topical use.  The one we’d recommend is again by the brand Quantum (they really seem to know what they’re doing when it comes to cold sores) which has been shown to reduce the amount of time to heal a cold sore by half (a claim backed up by scientific research). The salve also helps with reducing pain and irritation while it heals. In addition, we also have cold sore bandages at the store, which are particularly helpful for oozing or weeping cold sores (when a cold sore is weeping is also the time they are the most contagious).

Cold sores aren’t fun, but you aren’t alone in dealing with them, and there are natural things that can really make a difference- both in getting rid of them faster, as well as making them less frequent. Good luck!  Stop by the store and we’d love to help you further.



 

The Many Benefits of Probiotics, the Good Bacteria Your Body Needs

There are many wonderful natural products that have all sorts of benefits, but probiotics are part of a handful of supplements which we believe are vitally important for people of all ages- they’re a group of supplements that everyone would benefit from.

Probiotics, or “good bacteria”, are best known as an aid to digestive health, where they have impressively documented benefits for helping the body to digest and process foods. Probiotics also help the body to assimilate nutrients from foods and improve nutrient availability.

Probiotics are also fantastic for the immune system, enhancing our bodies own disease fighting white blood cells. One yearlong study showed that children who took probiotic supplements had significantly fewer upper respiratory infections (colds, etc.) and had a 30 percent reduction in missed school days. Research also found similar immune system benefits for adults.

In addition to activating the immune system against illness, it appears that probiotics are also able to modulate the immune system to diminish over reactive responses to allergies and autoimmune diseases.

Interestingly, new research is also showing benefits for bone health for people who use probiotics. One new study found that in animals with hormone changes similar to what happens in women after menopause those who consumed probiotics were able to stave off bone loss compared to the group that was not given probiotics. The control group that did not use probiotics lost half their bone density compared to the probiotics who were able to retain bone density.

Also, pregnant women who use probiotics have been shown to have children with a lower incidence of eczema and atopic dermatitis. Additionally, research has suggested that pregnant women who use probiotics may have children with fewer food allergies.

Probiotics can also have benefits to overall brain health and mood. One study which was measuring the benefits of probiotics on IBS found that the probiotic takers had twice as many people that saw decreases in depression and depressive symptoms when compared with a placebo.

There are many wonderful, high-quality probiotics that we have at the store, but I wanted to specifically mention one by Flora called Udo’s Choice Super 8 Probiotic, a probiotic which has actually won a number of different awards. Flora is a small company that makes exceptional products. They don’t come out with a ton of different “hot, new products” every year, but instead specialize in a few different areas, like probiotic supplements, where they really excel.

Flora’s Super 8 is a mix of eight well researched, scientifically identified strains that have been shown to survive in the body and form colonies.

Udo’s Choice Super 8 Probiotic has probiotic strains that aid digestion, breaking down carbohydrates and helping to synthesize B vitamins. It also contains specific strains which have been shown in research to help inhibit the growth of bad bacteria in the colon and GI tract. Super 8 is also formulated with strains that have been found to help reduce gas formation as well as other strains that help with urinary tract health and even a strain that helps with lowering cholesterol levels!

Best of all, it’s a high potency probiotic (42 billion per pill) that is very reasonably priced, especially when compared to other probiotics at similar potencies. This September, we’ll be having our Udo’s Choice Super 8 Probiotic on sale for 25% off, so it’s a great time to try it!

 


 

 

New Study: Aloe can increase nutrient absorption by up to 2000%

When it comes to vitamins and supplements, the most important factor to consider is absorption- how well is your body able to assimilate and use those nutrients. That’s why it’s important to choose the best forms of certain vitamins since not all supplements are created equal.

A few new studies have come out that I wanted to share regarding aloe and it’s seemingly amazing benefits for increasing nutrient absorption. The research found that when aloe, in the form of aloe juice or gel (the gel performed the best), was ingested with vitamins, it increased the blood levels of the nutrients studied as much as 2000% in a study using Lily of the Desert aloe vera products (see the study here). There are also additional studies on increases in nutrient absorption after taking aloe on pub med (see the links here and here).

While the studies are still preliminary and have only researched aloe vera impacting a few different nutrients, the science is sound. Adding aloe vera juice or gel to your supplement regimen seems to make a lot of sense. Drinking 2 ounces of aloe juice or gel (the amount used in the studies) with the supplements you already take can increase their absorption by as much as 20 times than with supplements taken with water.

In addition to the documented benefits for increasing nutrient absorption, there are many other benefits for taking aloe juice or gel internally. Aloe is very soothing and healing to the digestive tract, and has benefits for heartburn, GERD, IBS, Crohn’s disease, colitis, and ulcers. It also has anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and antioxidant properties. 
 
 

Back to School Supplement Essentials for All Ages

August heralds back to school for most kids, and while you begin to get back into the school routine, it’s a great time to begin a supplement regimen for your kids. 

We’ve made a list of the best products for back to school for kids of all ages. Each age group section (grade school, high school, and college) has the following items:

Multivitamins

Multivitamins are important for filling in gaps in the diet, particularly for picky eaters or kids on the go due to sports or activities who do not always have the best of diets.

Probiotics

Probiotics are Important for the immune system and proper digestion. Probiotic use has been researched with children and has been found to dramatically reduce the amount of respiratory infections children contract (probiotic use reduced respiratory infections by 30%).

Omega 3s 

Omega 3 fatty acids are crucial for brain function in children. Omega 3s are not produced in the body and must be obtained through foods. If a child is not eating fatty fish or flaxseeds on a regular basis (multiple times a week), it is likely that they are deficient in omega 3s. Omega 3 fatty acids in children have been linked to fewer behavior and attention problems, and have even been in a recent study showing benefits for helping struggling children learning to read when compared with those who took a placebo.

Optional Supplements if Needed

Stress and Anxiety

Many children of all ages suffer from stress and anxiety at school. We recommend theanine, an amino acid found in green tea, which helps to produce a calm, focused state. Theanine reduces anxiety without feeling tired, drugged, or “out of it”. Theanine is effective whether it is used every day or only occasionally, and can help sensitive kids have an easier time of it.

Extra Immune Help

Probiotics are extremely helpful for the immune system, though we have also listed a few other products in this section which are helpful when taken at the first signs of illness to help to get better faster.

Calcium

Depending on a child’s diet, calcium supplements may be a good idea. Research has found that the majority of children aged 9 to 13 years are calcium deficient. Only about 12% of girls and 17% of boys consumed the recommended daily amount of calcium. For older teens, 42% of boys and only 10% of girls consumed enough calcium daily. Supplements are a simple way to ensure that kids have the proper amounts of calcium needed for healthy bones.

 

And so, without further ado- the lists!  We’ve also made printable PDFs of each of the lists, linked below:

Grade School Supplement List

High School Supplement List

College Supplement List

 

Back to School Supplement Supply Lists

Scroll down to find the list for your child's age, though for length it may be easiest to click on the PDFs linked above.

Grade School Essentials

Multivitamins

Animal Parade Gold  
These have the best ingredients of any kids chewable. It is the premium kids multi available.

Nordic Berries Gummy Vitamins on sale in August!
These are great tasting gummy multivitamins for kids. They are similar in look and taste to gumdrop candies.

My Kind Organic Kids Gummy Vitamins on sale in August!
These are the first food based kids organic gummy vitamin; it’s a fantastic choice for a gummy.

Probiotics

Garden of Life Dr. Formulated Chewable Probiotics on sale in August!
This is the highest potency children’s chewable available, at 5 billion probiotics per chewable. We recommend it very highly.

Renew Life Ultimate Flora Gummy Probiotics on sale in August!
If you need a gummy probiotic, this is a great choice with a good potency (plus, they're great tasting!).

Omega 3s

Yummy Bears Omega Gummies
This is the highest potency fish oil gummy available (most kids chewable omega 3 supplements are very low potency, so this is a good tasting choice for kids).

Barleans Omega Swirl Fish Oil Liquid on sale in August!
A liquid fish oil does not sound particularly appetizing, but Barleans has made their Omega Swirl Fish Oil to be more of a cream than an oil, in several great tasting flavors without any fishiness. Stop by the store to try a sample.


Optional Supplements if Needed for Grade School

Stress and Anxiety

KAL Relax a Saurus on sale in August!
This is a good, theanine based chewable to help young children feel more relaxed.

Jarrow Theanine Gummies on sale in August!
These great tasting gummies have a nice amount of the relaxing amino acid theanine, and are very effective for stress and anxiety for children and adults of all ages.

Extra Immune Help

KAL ImmunoRaptors on sale in August! 
This is a great combination of supplements designed to help boost children’s immune systems.

Nature’s Answer Sambucus Elderberry Syrup
Elderberry syrup has been studied extensively for its benefit as an antiviral, reducing the length of colds and flu. It is safe for both children and adults and is a great tasting liquid. It can be taken preventatively or in higher amounts if you are trying to combat an acute illness.


Calcium

Carlson Calcium Gummies on sale in August!
These gummies are wonderful tasting and are appropriate for both children and adults. Each gummy has 250 mg of calcium.

 

High School Essentials

Multivitamins

Nature’s Plus Power Teen for Girls or Boys
These are chewables specifically designed for the needs of growing teenagers. They’re also a nice option for teens who have trouble swallowing pills.

Solaray One-A-Day High Energy Multivitamin on sale in August!
These are nice, easy to swallow capsules with high B vitamins, which help with energy.

Probiotics

Garden of Life Dr. Formulated Chewable Probiotics on sale in August!
This is the highest potency children’s chewable available, at 5 billion probiotics per chewable, and is appropriate for teenagers who prefer chewables.

JarrowDophilus EPS on sale in August!
These are easy to swallow capsules with a potency of 5 billion each.

Omega 3s

Nordic Naturals Lemon Fish Oil Softgels on sale in August! 
These softgels are smaller sized than many fish oil supplements, and also have added lemon oil inside the softgels to prevent “fish burps”.

Barleans Omega Swirl Fish Oil Liquid on sale in August!
A liquid fish oil does not sound particularly appetizing, but Barleans has made their Omega Swirl Fish Oil to be more of a cream than an oil, in several great tasting flavors without any fishiness.

Optional Supplements if Needed for High School

Stress and Anxiety

Jarrow Theanine Gummies or Capsules on sale in August!
Whether teenagers prefer a gummy or a capsule, theanine is wonderful for anxiety and stress- it works to produce a calm, focused, and relaxed state. Theanine is not habit forming and can be extremely useful for children and adults for reducing anxiety.

Extra Immune Help

Irwin Natural’s Immuno Shield
Immuno Shield is a fantastic immune booster that combines a variety of supplements that work to activate the immune system.

Nature’s Answer Sambucus Elderberry Syrup
Elderberry is a great antiviral, and works well to shorten the duration of illness caused by viruses (the flu in particular).


Calcium

Carlson Calcium Gummies on sale in August!
These gummies are wonderful tasting and are appropriate for both children and adults. Each gummy has 250 mg of calcium.

Digestion

American Health’s Chewable Papaya Enzymes
Papaya enzymes are helpful for anyone who gets occasional stomach upset or indigestion after eating. Papaya enzymes are all natural and work by breaking down the food in the stomach so it’s able to be digested easier.
 

College Student Essentials

Multivitamins

My Kind Multivitamins for Men or Women on sale in August!  
My Kind vitamins are organic, food based and extremely gentle on the system. 

Solaray One-A-Day High Energy Multivitamin on sale in August!
These are nice, easy to swallow capsules with high B vitamins, which help with energy.

Probiotics

Garden of Life Dr. Formulated Probiotics for Men or Women on sale in August!
These are wonderful, high potency probiotics that have specific strains for male and female bodies- for example, the women’s probiotic has strains that help with preventing urinary tract and yeast infections. 

JarrowDophilus EPS on sale in August!
These are easy to swallow capsules with a potency of 5 billion each.

Omega 3s

Nordic Naturals Lemon Fish Oil Softgels on sale in August! 
These softgels are smaller sized than many fish oil supplements, and also have added lemon oil inside the softgels to prevent “fish burps”.


Optional Supplements if Needed for College Students

Stress and Anxiety

Jarrow Theanine Gummies or Capsules on sale in August!
Whether teenagers prefer a gummy or a capsule, theanine is wonderful for anxiety and stress- it works to produce a calm, focused, and relaxed state. Theanine is not habit forming and can be extremely useful for children and adults for reducing anxiety.

Extra Immune Help

Irwin Natural’s Immuno Shield
Immuno Shield is a fantastic immune booster that combines a variety of supplements that work to activate the immune system.

Nature’s Answer Sambucus Elderberry Syrup
Elderberry is a great antiviral, and works well to shorten the duration of illness caused by viruses (the flu in particular).

Calcium

Carlson Calcium Gummies on sale in August!
These gummies are wonderful tasting and are appropriate for both children and adults. Each gummy has 250 mg of calcium.

Country Life’s Calcium Magnesium Capsules
These are nice for teenagers and adults who prefer a capsule to swallow.

Digestion

American Health’s Chewable Papaya Enzymes
Papaya enzymes are helpful for anyone who gets occasional stomach upset or indigestion after eating. Papaya enzymes are all natural and work by breaking down the food in the stomach so it’s able to be digested easier.
 

Stop by the store this month, we'd be happy to help you find the exact supplements that would be best for the children in your life!

 

Jarrow Formulas: One of Our Favorite Brands

Papaya Enzymes for Preventing Upset Stomach this Summer

I’ve written about digestive enzymes before for people with chronic or persistent digestive issues (bloating, indigestion, etc.) on regular use can make a huge difference in symptoms. This month, however, I wanted to write about the more basic papaya enzymes, which are great for people of all ages for occasional stomach upset or overindulgence. Enzymes are nice, since they are only beneficial- there are no negative side effects. When taken with or after a meal, they help to break down foods so they are more easily digested.  

Papaya enzymes are great for times when you may eat heavier or greasy foods, or for times when you feel overly full after eating- something that happens a lot at summer BBQs or on vacations.  They’re a great thing to keep in the house or a travel bag.  Having an upset stomach is a surefire way to ruin a fun time this summer, so keeping some chewable papaya enzymes on hand is a great idea.

I’ve also found them to be extremely helpful for when my daughter complains of an upset stomach.  Many times I don’t necessarily believe that her stomach actually hurts (since it’s frequently a bedtime complaint), but giving her one chewable papaya enzyme makes her happy.  It’s something I feel completely comfortable giving her, since it is just natural enzymes from papaya, which will help to digest any food in her stomach.  Even if her “upset stomach” is just imaginary, a papaya enzyme won’t hurt at all.  In fact, enzymes on an empty stomach can even help with reducing inflammation in the body.

Papaya enzymes can also help with heartburn.  My family usually eats pizza once a week (we’re dairy free, so I make homemade pizza with Daiya mozzarella cheese shreds), and my husband had been complaining of heartburn on pizza nights.  He started taking chewable papaya enzymes- two right before he’d eat pizza and two after if needed, and he has said it has completely taken away his pizza-heartburn.

We use the chewable papaya enzymes from American Health.  The standard dose for adults is three chewables (they’re small) with a meal or as needed.  They’re good tasting and can really help.

Again, papaya enzymes are the most basic of enzymes, so while they’re a good place to start, they might not be the best choice for everyone.  I’ll link a few articles below on digestive issues and supplements that can help:

Digestive Enzymes for Bloating, Gas, and Indigestion

Natural Relief for GERD

Natural Remedies for Indigestion and Heartburn


 

Protecting the Eyes from Blue Light from Electronic Devices

Q: I work in an office, and am on my computer the majority of the work day. My coworker has been talking about the blue light emitted by computers and other electronic devices and how it’s so damaging to the eyes (he even has special “computer glasses” to prevent damage). I’m wondering if this blue light is really as big of a deal as he seems to think it is, and what, if anything can be done to prevent that damage (I’d prefer to not wear the glasses though, since it’s not a great look). Any recommendations?

A: Research on the effects of blue light and its long term effect on the eyes is still in early stages, but it is definitely something to be aware of. In the past, most warnings on light damage to the eyes focused on UV light from the sun, which has been conclusively shown to cause damage to the eyes, which is the reason why optometrists and ophthalmologists for many years have stressed the importance of wearing sunglasses outside.

Blue light wavelengths are part of sunlight, but are also emitted by computer screens and electronic devices like smartphones and tablets. In just the past several years, the average person’s blue light exposure from electronics has increased exponentially, from over six hours a day for most children, nine hours for teenagers, and ten hours for the average adult. 

The most common complaints caused by this “Computer Vision Syndrome” are headaches, eye strain, and trouble focusing. Beyond those acute complaints, blue light has also been speculated to be the cause of even more severe problems over time, including an increase in age related macular degeneration and vision loss, since blue light penetrates even more deeply into the eye than UV light. Its cumulative effects may be even more of a problem over time than UV radiation.

In the past, thinking about eye health was often something that one would begin to worry about towards the end of middle age, but with the increase in screen usage, supplements for eye health would be of benefits for people of all ages, since it’s significantly easier to prevent a health problem than to try to reverse one.

Two nutrients which are absolutely crucial for preventing vision problems and maintaining proper eye health are the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants found in leafy green vegetables and orange and red fruits and vegetables. These protective nutrients are found in the eye, but are not produced by the body, so it’s necessary to get them through foods and supplements. Lutein is present in more foods than zeaxanthin, which is found only in extremely small amounts, which makes supplementation a good idea even for people with a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables. The average American’s dietary intake of lutein is less than 2 milligrams, and the average daily intake of zeaxanthin is less than .5 milligrams, amounts that fall very short of the recommended doses found to be beneficial in scientific research.

Lutein has long been recognized for its benefit to eye health and preventing macular degeneration, though zeaxanthin is only recently becoming more well known. One of the ways zeaxanthin protects the eye from damage is by working to absorb destructive blue light; it also helps to protect the cells of the eye from harmful free radical damage, which reduces oxidative damage in the body and the eyes specifically. Lutein and zeaxanthin work almost like internal sunglasses against blue light and eye damage.

There are many eye supplements on the market, even at regular grocery stores, but let me emphatically say that they are not created equal. What it comes down to are ingredients and potency, which vary widely between products (which truly is the case with all supplements). All sorts of supplements can advertise how great they are, but if the nutrients they contain are not at a therapeutic level, or at the levels found to be effective in scientific research, they aren’t helping (or at least not to the level that they could be). 

I can’t even tell you how frequently a person will bring me in a bottle to the health food store of a supplement they’ve been taking, but when we look at the actual amount of ingredients it contains per pill, it falls short of the necessary effective dose. If you’re going to take a pill, you may as well take one that’s going to have amounts that really make a difference. There are many cases in which people are taking supplements that while they may be “better than nothing”; they are not in a dosage that is likely to produce the effects they are hoping for.

We have been searching for a supplement that had a nice high dose of lutein, as well as a good amount of zeaxanthin in one pill (zeaxanthin is difficult to find in higher amounts in supplements), and have finally found one that we would recommend by NOW Foods, a local company based in Bloomington, Illinois that contains 25 milligrams of lutein and 5 milligrams of zeaxanthin in one pill- a 5:1 ratio in the amounts shown to be of maximum effectiveness in protecting eyes against blue light damage as well as preventing macular degeneration and other degenerative vision issues.

Research has shown that lutein and zeaxanthin works best in a 5:1 ratio of lutein to zeaxanthin. In one recent placebo controlled study, researchers found that lutein and zeaxanthin, in a high dose formula, increased visual acuity and increased the macular pigment in the eyes- macular pigments work as filters against blue light damage to the retina.

The study found that taking 20 milligrams of lutein and 4 milligrams of zeaxanthin increased contrast sensitivity (an important measure of visual function in situations of low light or glare) and improved eye function, including the time it took for eyes to respond to changes in lighting from bright lights to baseline. 

Another study focused on lutein and zeaxanthin, in the same 5:1 ratio, on blue light and sleep. The participants who took the combination of lutein and zeaxanthin were found to have improved sleep quality after using electronic devices compared to the placebo. The researchers speculated that it was due to the lutein and zeaxanthin’s ability to absorb more blue light, which would otherwise disrupt the natural sleep cycle, signaling the body to stay awake. 

As to the question of blue blocking computer or “gaming glasses”, I am somewhat skeptical. Consumer Reports tested a group of blue light computer glasses and found that while the orange tinted varieties were most effective, while light yellow or clear lenses were significantly less effective. Personally, while I care about eye health, I’m not going to be going around wearing eyeglasses with orange lenses. 

There are also free apps available for iPhone and android which are said to help block the blue light on mobile devices; again, I think their effectiveness is far from conclusive, but I’ve started using one that has a timer where you can set it to go on at night (since blue light in the evenings has been shown to interfere with proper sleep patterns), and I figure it can’t hurt. Search “blue light filter” at the appstores to find one that will work on your device.
 

A Pass Favorite: Power to Sleep PM by Irwin Naturals

I have been having a difficult sleeping in the past few months, for no particular reason. I would go to sleep without a problem usually, but then wake up in the middle of the night and then not be able to get back to sleep for far too long. It was awful, because then I would be tired in the morning (sometimes all day) and then would find the cycle repeating, if not the next night, then usually several times a week.

As anyone who has struggled with sleeplessness knows, it’s extremely frustrating. After some trial and error, I found a supplement which has really helped- Irwin Naturals Power to Sleep PM. Power to Sleep PM contains a variety of relaxing herbs including valerian, passionflower, and hops which work well together to reduce stress and help you to sleep. Their formula also contains the amino acids L-Theanine and GABA, which help to reduce anxiety and induce calmness. It also contains melatonin, which helps to regulate the sleep cycle (interestingly, I’ve taken melatonin by itself and it did not seem to help me, but it appears that combining it with relaxing herbs makes a good combination).

The recommended dose is two softgels a half an hour before bedtime. I have been using it and have found it to work incredibly well, especially for helping me to sleep through the night. We do have some samples at the store so you can try it for a night to see if it helps, it really did help me!  

A New Favorite: Carlson's Omega 3 Olive Oil

We have a brand new product in stock from Carlson that I really wanted to highlight- it’s a premium olive oil with added omega 3’s called Olive Your Heart. As many of you know, omega 3s are absolutely crucial to our health- it’s not called an “essential fatty acid” for nothing!  

Omega 3s are important for both children and adults for their many benefits for brain function (including concentration and focus, reducing the symptoms of depression), heart and cardiovascular health (by reducing inflammation and lowering cholesterol and blood pressure), arthritis and more. 

Omega 3s cannot be manufactured in the body and must be obtained through diet. If you or your family members are not eating fatty fish or a good amount of flax and chia seeds multiple times a week, a deficiency in omega 3s are extremely likely.

I love this olive oil by Carlson, because it’s an easy way to boost omega 3s in your diet. Even for people who take vegetarian sources like flax or chia I would recommend it since the omega 3s in flax and chia do not contain EPA or DHA, but rather ALA, which the body then converts to the necessary omega 3 forms, EPA and DHA. The trouble with ALA is that not everyone converts it at the same rate, that there’s really no way of knowing how much EPA and DHA you’re getting. This is especially important for brain and eye health, since it’s primarily DHA that gives those benefits. For more information on the differences in various forms of omega 3s, see our article, All About Omegas, here.

When I first heard about this new “fish oil olive oil” by Carlson, I was skeptical, since who wants a fish flavored olive oil, even if you’re a fan of fish?  Well, we tried the Olive Your Heart olive oil and everyone loved it, there was no fishy taste at all. I’m a vegetarian, so I just smelled it, but let me say this- I am extremely sensitive to the smell of fish, and there was no fishy smell at all.

Even though we’re a vegetarian family, I do give omega 3s from fish oil to my soon-to-be second grade daughter because the research on omega 3 fish oil, particularly DHA for children’s developing brains, is too important and conclusive. When I gave her a bit of Carlson’s Olive Your Heart on her pasta, she thought it was delicious, and didn’t notice any strange smell or taste. Liz, who works at the store, has also been using this omega 3 olive oil with her family (without advertizing the fact that it contained fish oil) and they all think it tastes great.

Fish oil supplements can sometimes be a pain to take, so this is a great tasting alternative to omega 3 softgels. Even for people who regularly take omega 3 supplements, it’s a great way to get an extra boost for your health.

Click on any of the above photos to enlarge.

Peppermint Oil Softgels for IBS

Q: I have been dealing with IBS symptoms which seem to have gotten worse lately. I have a terrible time with intestinal cramping and gas, which have made life really difficult. So you have any recommendations of something that could help?  I’m kind of desperate.

A: Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is a common digestive disorder that encompasses a variety of symptoms which includes recurring abdominal pain, gas, bloating, and changes in normal bowel movement (constipation and/or diarrhea).

The first supplement I’d recommend are peppermint oil softgels. Peppermint oil is a natural antispasmodic, which means that it reduces cramping, particularly in the bowels. Peppermint oil can also help with relieving excess gas. For IBS and digestive issues, it’s important to take enteric coated softgels, softgel capsules which have a protective coating so they are able to make it to the intestines without opening in the stomach, since peppermint oil in the stomach can cause heartburn. 

One study done by the American College of Gastroenterology found that 75% of people with IBS symptoms who took peppermint oil softgels twice daily had a significant reduction in symptoms and many found the peppermint gels completely stopped their IBS problems.

We’d especially recommend the enteric coated Peppermint Gels by NOW Foods. They’re a local Illinois company, and have added a bit of ginger and fennel to the peppermint oil, which further help to soothe the digestive tract. It’s an inexpensive and effective supplement, so it’s definitely one to try if you’ve been dealing with IBS.

Other supplements that can be helpful would be probiotics, particularly Solgar’s Probi probiotics, since they contain a specific a strain that has been researched with fantastic results for helping with IBS (see our article here for more information), as well as aloe vera juice and digestive enzymes.