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.


Surprising Benefits of B Vitamins

B Vitamins are well known for their benefits for energy, which is the reason most people take them, but as time goes on, more and more research is appearing about the many varied benefits of B vitamins for a host of different issues.

Different B vitamins have benefits for an assortment of health issues, but in general, B vitamins do work best when taken together, since they’re closely related. I’ll list some of the more surprising benefits of B vitamin research below:

B1 (thiamine) helps to protect the body from nerve damage and can help to prevent neuropathy. High doses of B1 may also work as a natural insect repellent, since it changes the way that you smell to mosquitoes. 

Niacin (vitamin B3) can help with increased repair of DNA, something that is beneficial for neurodegenerative diseases among others. Niacin can also help with lowering cholesterol and low levels have even been linked to erectile dysfunction. 

B6, especially when taken as the form known as P-5-P (the active form of B6) can help with nerve problems like carpal tunnel and sciatica.

Vitamin B12 deficiency is especially common among the elderly, and one of the ways a B12 deficiency can manifest itself in older adults is with confusion, memory loss, and slowed motor skills. Low B12 levels can even cause lower brain volume which has been linked with dementia.

B12 deficiency can cause other brain problems like depression, anxiety, and mood disorders. B12 has also been shown to reduce the risk of fractures among older adults.

I’ve only listed a few of the unique benefits of some of the different B vitamins, but there are many, many more, which makes it smart to supplement with a B complex vitamin to ensure you’re getting the necessary amounts of each.

There are many forms of B vitamins, and while the standard forms commonly found in multivitamins or a regular B complex are good, there are new, coenzymated forms of B complexes, like Jarrow Formula’s B-Right which offer superior absorption. Choosing a coenzymated B complex ensures that you are getting the best form possible of each vitamin.

A regular B complex isn’t bad; it’s just a matter of choosing “good” vs. “best”. 

Jarrow’s B-Right will be on sale at Pass Health Foods for the month of May for 25% off.

What is CBD?

CBD is an extract from the hemp plant which has similar chemical and health properties to the THC (like the psychoactive extract of the plant known for its “high”) in marijuana, but without the mind altering effects.

THC from medicinal marijuana and CBD from hemp have been shown to have similar benefits for pain relief and help with anxiety (including PTSD) as well as very impressive results with seizure disorders in children (especially drug-resistant epilepsy). CBD has also shown neuroprotective effects for degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and more.

CBD oil is probably best known for its benefits for pain relief, like medicinal marijuana, especially for people who have unsuccessful results with conventional pain medication. In one large-scale survey by Project CBD participants who had used both high THC medical marijuana and CBD extract from cannabis and reported that there were no significant outcomes in pain relief between THC and CBD.

In America, medical marijuana and all extracts from the cannabis plant are illegal for use without a prescription. Because of this regulation, CBD oil available in America 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 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. We have it in two strengths, a 150mg product which is considered a daily dose for overall health, and then a higher 600mg product which is what is recommended for acute issues and pain relief.

We would very much recommend trying our new CBD oil from Green Gorilla. Also, its fast acting- results of the 600mg dose are usually seen within 20 minutes for pain relief. Last, I wanted to say that our CBD oil is completely safe for drug testing, 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).

Finally, we will be having a representative from Green Gorilla in the store on Saturday, May 6th from 11-2 so people can taste their product before purchasing. See you then!


Garcinia Cambogia for Weight Loss - It Really Works

Q: I want to lose weight but I’m not sure what supplements are really best for weight loss and what really works. Do you have any recommendations?

A: The supplement that we would recommend the most is the extract of a tropical fruit found in Indonesia called garcinia cambogia. Of all the weight loss supplements available, we believe that there is the most positive scientific research for garcinia cambogia over any other weight loss supplement. Dr. Harry Press, a researcher from Georgetown University, reports that garcinia cambogia is three times more effective than diet and exercise alone. It’s not a miracle pill, but when combined with diet and exercise, it can make a real difference.

Garcinia cambogia works in several different ways to aid weight loss, which is part of why it’s so effective. First, it works to delay the emptying of the stomach, and also prolongs glucose absorption from the small intestines, both of which help you to feel full and satisfied longer after a meal.

Another way that garcinia cambogia works in the body is that it helps to boost serotonin, the “feel-good” neurotransmitter, in the brain. Higher amounts of serotonin in the body help with reducing appetite and stress eating, as well as boosting mood overall, which is always a good thing. The only concern would be for people taking SSRI antidepressants (like Prozac) which also boost serotonin; if you’re on a prescription SSRI antidepressant, it would be best to avoid garcinia cambogia. 

Garcinia cambogia also helps with weight loss in another way- it helps fat to be used as energy rather than stored as fat deposits. Since it is helping the body to burn fat more effectively, garcinia cambogia works best when people are not consuming excessive dietary fats or a high alcohol diet.

Of any garcinia cambogia supplement, we’d recommend the brand Jarrow. They have the highest amount of the active ingredient in garcinia cambogia per pill over any other brand we’ve seen. Also, their specific garcinia cambogia extract is actually protected by nine different US patents, and has been shown to have better absorption and a higher range of benefits when compared with other garcinia cambogia extracts.

Finally, making sure you’re taking the recommended dosage is important for seeing true effectiveness. One other thing to mention would be that in a few studies, it took one to two weeks of supplementation before weight loss began, so if you start taking garcinia cambogia, be patient. The science it behind it is solid, it really does help with weight loss. Keep in mind however, it’s meant to be an aid to weight loss, giving an extra boost to diet and exercise. Another benefit of garcinia cambogia is that unlike some other weight loss supplements, it's safe for people with high blood pressure.

Unfortunately, the miracle pill that will let us sit on the couch all day eating junk while looking like a supermodel has yet to be invented, but every step makes a difference for leading a healthier life. Weight loss is not just about being happy about how you look in a swimsuit, excess weight literally impacts every aspect of health, so making a change for the better can truly give you a better- and longer- life!




A New "Hair Loss" Enzyme for Men

Q: A friend sent me an article on the discovery of an enzyme that’s supposed to cause baldness in men. The article said that they are working on a medicine that will block the enzyme, but there were other natural things that could block it too. It’s supposed to be a miracle for male pattern baldness. I wondered if you’d heard of it and knew of anything that could block the enzyme and help with hair loss.

A: Several years ago, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania published a paper on the discovery of a new enzyme, called PGD2 that prevents hair follicles from maturing. It was found that balding men had much higher levels of this enzyme, which inhibits hair growth. A prescription blocker of the PGD2 enzyme is said to be in the works, but it is many years from being released.

There are some natural products which have been researched to block the same “hair loss” enzyme; quercetin, a compound found in citrus fruits, and resveratrol, an antioxidant found in red wine. Both have been found in research to be able to suppress the PGD2 enzyme which is linked to male hair loss. 

The research is very preliminary, however, and even though studies have found quercetin and resveratrol to be effective in inhibiting the PGD2 enzyme, it does not necessarily mean they will help prevent or reverse hair loss. Both supplements are safe and beneficial to take, however, and some men may decide to begin taking the supplements to see if they make a difference. Quercetin also has benefits for allergies and the immune system, and resveratrol is well know as a potent antioxidant with anti-inflammatory anti-aging properties.

So, yes, there are natural products that can block the “hair loss” enzyme, but I would be hesitant to call them a “miracle cure”. Still, there’s no harm in trying it, since they are supplements which have additional benefits for anyone.

A Helpful Tip: Chewable Gummy Vitamins for Kid’s Lunches

In general, for kids, we think hard chewables are better for kid’s multivitamins, since they usually have more complete ingredients, and/or higher potencies of vitamins. However, I wanted to share a helpful tip regarding gummy vitamins which has helped our family and that I’ve found to be especially useful.

My first grader takes a lunch to school every day, and I’ve gotten in the habit of putting gummy vitamins for her to take in with her sandwich. Most schools would balk at seeing regular hard vitamins in a school lunch (understandably, since they can look like medicine), but the gummy vitamins we have at the store just look like candy or fruit snacks. I’ve found it to be a perfect solution for us since I never forget to give her her vitamins (I do a gummy multivitamin, an omega 3 chewable gummy, and a gummy probiotic), and she loves having them in her lunch since the gummies taste like a treat (I don’t usually give her fruit snacks or the like, so the gummy vitamins are a special thing in her mind).

We have a number of great tasting gummy vitamins at the store which are “kid approved” for taste.


While multivitamins aren’t a replacement for a healthy diet, they are helpful to “fill in the gaps” especially for picky eaters. We recommend Nordic Naturals Nordic Berries Multivitamins and Yummy Bears Multivitamins.


Probiotics help with digestion and boost the immune system naturally.  Research has shown that kids who take probiotics on a regular basis get fewer upper respiratory infections than kids who do not take probiotics.  We recommend Renew Life’s Ultimate Flora Sour Gummies.

Omega 3s

Omega 3 fatty acids help with brain function, improving concentration and focus.  Omega 3s must be obtained through diet, since the body does not manufacture them, so if a child isn’t eating fatty fish on a regular basis, it is likely they’re deficient.  We recommend Yummy Bears Omega 3 + DHA and Nordic Natural's Omega 3 Gummies.


Stop by the store and we'd be happy to help find the children's vitamins right for your family!

Tart Cherry Juice for Better Sleep

Q: I’ve heard that cherry juice can help you to sleep better. I wondered if that was really true, and if so, if there was a certain kind of cherry juice to look for.

A: Yes, Montgomery tart cherry juice has been shown in research to aid in sleep. For example, one study gave participants an 8 oz. glass of tart cherry juice twice a day for two weeks. The group who took tart cherry juice slept an average of 84 minutes longer than a separate period when they took a placebo. Their sleep was also recorded as being more efficient, meaning it took less time to fall asleep and they had a better quality of sleep that those who did not use the tart cherry juice. Cherry juice is a natural source of melatonin, which can help to regulate the sleep cycle.

Montgomery tart cherry juice has also been researched with great results in helping to prevent and treat symptoms of gout, as well as reducing inflammation in the body. Tart cherry juice also has documented benefits for heart health and muscle recovery. Click here for links to a variety of research studies on the benefits of tart cherry juice.

When taking tart cherry juice medicinally, it’s important to look for an unsweetened juice without added ingredients. Many cherry juices on the market are mixed with other juices like white grape to make it sweeter, which is not a bad thing if you just are looking for a refreshing beverage, but if you’re looking for tart cherry juice for health benefits, it’s important to get the real thing.

More than any other, we would recommend our Cherry Bay Orchards brand of Montgomery tart cherry concentrate, since it is the specific variety that has been in the most research studies.

A New, Easier Way to Take Calcium Supplements

I have a confession to make- I’m terrible at taking my vitamins, calcium in particular. Not always, just sometimes I feel like I go through fazes where I just don’t want to- not like swallowing a pill is difficult, it just can seem undesirable for whatever reason, and it gets put off and put off until I've missed a day. This is why chewable vitamins are really great, and now we have a number of different new chewable and gummy vitamins at the store which are not only palatable, but delicious, which makes you want to go out of your way to take them.

The first I’d recommend is a new calcium gummy chewable by Carlson, it’s a great option because it tastes amazing; it makes taking a calcium supplement actually pleasurable, as strange as that sounds. We’ve all started taking it at the store, and I would really recommend trying it if you don’t currently take calcium supplements, or if you’re a person who routinely forgets to take their calcium. I feel like this calcium has made me remember to take it every day for the simple fact that it’s so tasty. Joanne, one of our owners, saves it for after dinner because she says it satisfies the craving for having something sweet while checking off her calcium requirement for the day. 

Each chewable gummy contains 250 mg of calcium, so we recommend taking them two at a time. The standard daily recommendation for calcium is 1000mg per day, but most people don’t need to take that full amount if they eat dairy products and other calcium containing foods. Here is a great list from the University of Chicago of the calcium content in different foods. Many people have the idea that if they are worried about bone health that more calcium is better, which is not necessarily the case. The body can only absorb roughly 500mg of calcium at one time, so taking mega-doses is rarely effective.

We’re having our new Carlson calcium gummies on sale this month for 25% off, so March is a good time to try them, and honestly, they taste like candy. They also use a well absorbing form of calcium which does not cause constipation.

We also have a large selection of other great chewables in the store, from multivitamins to vitamin D, and more. I really think chewables can be a beneficial way to take your supplements, particularly if you are a person that doesn’t like to swallow pills.

Barlean's Flax Super Seed Blends

We have a new line of product by Barleans (the whole line of which is on sale this month for 25% off) of new ground flax seed blends.  There are four varieties available: 

Superfruit Blend- a mix of flax, coconut, strawberry, blueberry, and raspberry

Antioxidant Blend- a mix of flax, coconut, acerola, acai, and
camu camu

Energy Blend- a mix of flax, chia, coconut, and panax ginseng

Digestive Blend- a mix of flax, chia, coconut, pumpkin, and quinoa

Flax seed is a fantastic whole food source of omega-3 fatty acids, but not everyone likes the flavor by itself.  These blends are
great tasting way to add some extra omega 3s, fiber, and antioxidants to your diet.  They can be mixed in with hot cereal, smoothies, yogurt, or even eaten by themselves.  I’ve tasted all of them and the superfruit blend and the digestive blend are my favorites (the superfruit blend is seriously delicious, even just eaten straight out of the bag).


New Products We Love

We have all sorts of new products this month, but I wanted to highlight two that we’re really excited about. The first is a new line of essential oils called Breathe Me by Nectar Essences, which include three new blends specifically formulated for children, which is a first. The kid’s blends include a focus and calm blend, an immunity and decongestant blend, and a sleep blend. We also have a new gift set of essential oil blends for adults by Breathe Me, as well as a new Super-Immunity blend that we really love. We have testers of each available at the store, so stop by and give them a sniff!

Also new this month is a new and absolutely gorgeous line of beauty products which are made with essential oils and plant essences called Aroma Actives. I’ve been using a few of their new products and have been very impressed with the formulations, plus they really look beautiful on your bathroom counter. 

All our new Breathe Me essential oils and our new essential oil powered beauty line, Aroma Actives, are on sale for the month of February for 20% off.