Activated Charcoal for Food Poisioning and Vomiting

Last month I wrote about preventing diarrhea, well this month I’m writing about the other end, and so begins my cautionary tale…  

I was having a party for my daughter’s birthday, and while my house was full of guests, out of nowhere, I felt horribly nauseous. I don’t know what caused it, because no one else at the party got sick, but there must have been a bit of something bad that got into me, because by that evening I was throwing up all night. I was absolutely miserable.

It wasn’t until the next day that I thought of activated charcoal (a special form of charcoal made for internal use), and how I wished that I had had some in the house, since it’s fantastic for food poisoning and removing toxins from the body. It is actually used in hospitals for treating food poisoning, since it is so effective at binding and absorbing toxins so they can be removed from the body.

The book, Prescription for Natural Cures, recommends taking three capsules every two hours for three doses to help absorb toxins from food poisoning. It works best when taken at the first signs of food poisoning, which makes it a great thing to have in the house “just in case” for your emergency kit.

Activated charcoal capsules are best used only occasionally when needed, since its mechanism of absorbing toxins is so effective that when taken long term, it can actually absorb and remove nutrients from the body causing malabsorption issues (though that’s not something to worry about when taken for acute issues).

Activated charcoal has also become a popular ingredient in toothpastes and tooth powder (we have a number of great ones at the store), since its absorbent action can actually help remove stains from the teeth and toxins from your mouth. Unlike taking activated charcoal internally, oral use is completely safe for every day.



Natural Help for Leg Cramps

If you’ve ever experienced a leg cramp in the middle of the night, you know how awful it can be!  Leg cramps are very common, particularly as we get older. They can have a variety of causes, including dehydration, mineral deficiencies, and overexertion.

Thankfully, there are a number of simple natural remedies available that can help.

The first thing we’d recommend is to try to increase the amount of water you drink during the day (though try to do it earlier in the day so you’re not going to the bathroom all night long), since dehydration can cause muscle cramps.

Mineral deficiencies are another common cause of leg cramps. Increasing your potassium intake can help to make leg cramps less frequent. Here is a great list of potassium-containing foods on our website. 

Magnesium can also be extremely helpful for people suffering from leg cramps. 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, and one of the ways that deficiency can present itself is through leg cramps, particularly since magnesium can help with relaxing the muscles. For helping to prevent leg cramps, we recommend supplementing with the glycinate form of magnesium, which is a very well absorbed form.

Topical magnesium can also be very effective for muscle cramping and pain. We have a great magnesium oil spray which works exceptionally well, and quickly. 

The last mineral that we wanted to mention in regards to muscle cramps is calcium. When we think of calcium, bones are usually the first thing we think of, but proper amounts of dietary calcium are also needed for the muscles to function properly and a deficiency can cause muscle tenderness and cramping, so if you aren’t consuming enough calcium through diet (and many aren’t), adding a bit of supplemental calcium can be a good idea.

Something else a little different for leg cramps that is actually a favorite at our store, is an old Amish remedy from a company called Caleb Treeze that is said to stop leg cramps in under two minutes. They recommend drinking a capful when you’re in the throes of a leg cramp. It can also be taken preventatively before bed. My aunt Joanne (one of the owners of the store) swears by it. She keeps a bottle by her bed just in case, but will also often take a capful before bed to prevent cramps, especially if she’s been on her feet a lot that day. It isn’t the best tasting thing around, but she really feels like it does work.

Stop by the store so we can help you further.


Featured Brand of the Month: Life Seasons

On sale this month is a newer brand we’ve started to carry called Life Seasons. They have a large list of new products we’ve brought in for a variety of issues including thyroid and adrenal health, blood pressure, anxiety, low metabolism, prostate health, and more. The unique thing about the blends we’ve chosen to carry by Life Seasons is that they contain true therapeutic dosages backed with clinical research, to show that the supplements and dosages each blend contains really does work. We've been extremely impressed with each of their formulas.

Also this month, we’ve brought in some trial sizes of a few of the Life Seasons formulas, including their Anxie-T, PainBlock R,  and Rest ZZZ. Like their names sound, Anxie-T is for helping to reduce anxiety, PainBlock R is for helping with pain- whether caused by joints, injury, or chronic issues, and RestZZZ is a very effective sleep aid. The trial sizes are enough for several days- enough to definitely feel it working, on sale for $5 (they’re regularly priced at $9.99). We really like the whole line, but these three are our very favorites, which is why we wanted to bring in trial sizes so more people were able to try them. Sarah, who works at the store (and generally has a terrible time sleeping) has been taking the RestZZZ for the past several days, and she can’t stop talking about how great it is!  Additionally (though we don’t have it in a trial size), Liz has been using the Life Seasons Metabolism blend and she is really loving it. She says it’s really made her feel good and has given her an extra boost of energy.

I’d also recommend checking out the Life Seasons website, it really contains a wealth of knowledge (without really trying to sell you anything). They have an index of health conditions here, and an index of natural ingredients here. It’s really an impressive collection of very helpful information, presented in an impartial way.

While the Life Seasons brand is on sale this month for 25% off, I’d definitely recommend giving them a try! Their motto is “Nature Works, Science Proves it”, a sentiment close to our heart, since we are constantly trying to share the science behind natural products, proof that natural supplements really do work!


Summer Wellness Roundup

Summer is finally here!  Below is a roundup of some great articles on overall summer wellness:

First is an article on sunscreen and why choosing natural, chemical-free sunscreen products are so important: Sunscreen Spotlight

Papaya enzymes for preventing upset stomach at summer BBQs

Vitamin B1 as a natural mosquito repellent

Also see our essential oil section on our website for our new Bug Ban essential oil blend we have available at the store, as well as our own DIY recipes for natural insect repellents for people and pets!

Prevent Traveler's Diarrhea with Saccharomyces Boulardii

I wanted to write about a little known supplement that is great to have for your “summer wellness kit”- Saccharomyces Boulardii, pronounced “sack-a-row-my-sees boo-lar-dee”. This tricky named supplement is actually a probiotic yeast that is amazing for preventing and treating diarrhea from all causes. It’s absolutely fantastic for preventing “traveler’s diarrhea”.


Saccharomyces Boulardii is probably best known for its use for in hospitals for preventing and treating antibiotic resistant bacteria like C. diff (Clostridium difficile) and MRSA. It works in part by preventing bad bacteria from adhering to the intestinal lining, flushing them out of the body before they are able to do harm.

Hospitals routinely give patients one capsule of Saccharomyces Boulardii to treat antibiotic resistant bacteria, and it has even been recommended that people who are scheduled for surgery to begin taking Saccharomyces Boulardii in advance to aid in preventing hospital acquired infections.

Saccharomyces Boulardii, like all probiotics, are only beneficial, without negative side effects. It has been researched in people of all ages, including young children, for its protective benefits and safety.

It’s a wonderful supplement to have on hand while traveling, particularly for people going on a cruise or out of the country since it has such an effective protective effect on diarrhea (something no one wants to deal with when they’re on vacation!).

In particular, we would recommend the Jarrow brand Saccharomyces Boulardii, which we have in a variety of sizes, including foil packs for traveling. Since we’re writing about it this month, we’ll be offering all of our Jarrow brand Saccharomyces Boulardii on sale during the month of June for 25% off.


New Favorites by Irwin Naturals

We at Pass Health Foods are very particular about the new products we bring into the store, especially when it comes to supplements. This month, we wanted to share four new products by the company Irwin Naturals that we’re excited about.  Below is a brief description of each. All four of the new blends will be on sale for the month of May for 25% off, so it’s a great time to try them!

Beet Root Red
Beets are a super food that help to boost Nitric Oxide function. Nitric Oxide is a natural compound produced in the body that helps to increase blood flow and boost cardiovascular function. This unique formula combines beet root extract with several other well researched supplements which work together to help support cardiovascular health, circulation, and overall blood flow.

Collagen Beauty
Irwin’s Collagen Beauty contains clinically tested Verisol brand collagen peptides, which have been shown in research to help people to attain firmer skin and fewer wrinkles by boosting collagen production, as well as faster nail growth and strength. Collagen Beauty also contains a number of antioxidants specifically chosen for their benefits to skin health.

Melatonin Plus 5-HTP and Rhodiola
This is a great new sleep blend that combines the benefits of melatonin with 5-HTP, which helps to boost serotonin and mood, along with rhodiola, an herb that helps to reduce the body’s levels of cortisol- the “stress” hormone. It’s great for helping with sleep, especially for people who are dealing with a lot of stress and worry that disrupts proper sleep.

Maca Root and Ashwaganda Complex
This is a fantastic new complex that helps to boost overall energy and vitality, as well as helping with sexual health. Maca and ashwaganda are also adaptogenic herbs, which help with reducing stress and bringing the body back into balance.

The Many Benefits of Hemp Derived CBD Oil

Q: I have been hearing a lot about CBD oil lately, that it’s an alternative to medical marijuana that can help with pain. I’m interested in it, but wanted to find out more before I tried it.

A: CBD oil has been gaining in popularity lately, so I’m happy to explain more about it! CBD is a non-prescription, legal alternative to medical marijuana. CBD, which stands for cannabidiol, is a compound found in both marijuana and hemp plants, which has been found to be extremely effective for pain relief, anxiety, and a number of other disorders.

The difference between marijuana and hemp plants (also known as “industrial hemp”) is the amount of THC the plants contain. THC is the compound in marijuana that causes one to feel intoxicated or “high”. Research into cannabis and hemp plants, however, has found other substances (of which CBD is the most well researched) that provide a variety of medicinal effects without the “high” from conventional marijuana.

Research on cannabinoids (the medicinal extracts found in marijuana and hemp plants) had a breakthrough when it was found that humans actually had cannabinoid receptors throughout the body. This system of receptors is known as the endocannabinoid system, which accounts for the many benefits that are seen when people begin taking CBD oil. These receptors work to confer the benefits of CBD oil throughout the body, not just in the brain, but with benefits that extend to our musculoskeletal tissues, the central nervous system, the immune system, and more.

CBD is best known for its ability to reduce pain from a variety of causes. CBD has shown impressive benefits for reducing inflammation throughout the body, and research has also found that it also works to regulate pain through compounds in the brain that actually help to reduce the amount of pain a person feels. We have a large group of customers who have been taking our organic CBD oil for pain relief that have had very impressive results. CBD can significantly improve the quality of life for people dealing with chronic pain issues.

The second most common reason that people take our CBD oil is for anxiety. There have been numerous very positive studies on CBD and its benefit for reducing anxiety, as well as helping to reduce symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. Several published studies have also reported the benefits of CBD for a number of different mood and emotional disorders. CBD has even been found to be beneficial in people who have not had success with conventional treatments for anxiety and depression.

New research is coming out all the time with even more benefits for CBD. CBD has been found to aid in cancer treatment and can help to reduce tumor growth in several different types of cancers. Preliminary research has even found that CBD may help with drug resistant tumor cells.

Another study even found that CBD can help with quitting smoking, helping to reduce the desire to smoke. Other research has suggested that CBD may help with Alzheimer’s disease by beneficially interfering with neurodegenerative pathways as well as having neuroprotective effects on the brain. Further research has also found benefits of CBD for diabetes, stroke, COPD, and more.

Even though hemp does not cause the “high” that marijuana does, the amount of THC found in CBD products can vary, since it is legal for hemp extracts to contain as much as .3% THC. That amount isn’t enough to cause a person to feel “high”, but it may be enough to cause problems with a drug test. The certified organic CBD oil from Green Gorilla that we carry at Pass Health Foods contains virtually zero THC (our Green Gorilla CBD oil is guaranteed to contain less than 0.003% THC), so there is absolutely no problem with drug testing, even if you were to consume an entire bottle at a time. We have a number of customers who have been using our Green Gorilla CBD oil who regularly undergo drug testing (police officers and fire fighters for example) who haven’t had any problems with their drug tests.

CBD oils on the market range widely in quality, potency, and effectiveness. Conventionally grown CBD from hemp can also contain a large amount of toxins because hemp is naturally a “bio-accumulator” plant, which means that it draws toxins from the soil. There have also been a number of recent cases of fake, adulterated, and synthetic CBD being sold in stores, so it’s even more important to make sure you’re buying a quality product that contains pure, authentic CBD oil.

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 that is also USDA certified organic (there are many CBD oils on the market that say they have organic ingredients, but few that have actually been certified by the USDA).

Additionally, coming up on May 5th, we will be having a representative in the store to offer free sampling of our Green Gorilla CBD oil from 11-2. Be sure to stop by to try it out!  7228 W. College Drive in Palos Heights

Spotlight on Women's Health

All About Xantham Gum and Guar Gum for Gluten Free Baking

If you have tried your hand at gluten-free baking, you will find guar gum or xantham gum in many recipes. We’ve had a lot of questions about the two, asking what they do and what the difference is, so we wanted to write a quick post to go over when you may want to use them.

Baking with gluten-free flours is a little different than with flours made from wheat, and adding xantham gum or guar gum to gluten-free recipes helps to result in a nicer final product. When using wheat flour, the proteins in the wheat bind together to help make light and fluffy baked goods. Guar gum and xantham gum also help to keep the ingredients in a recipe or batter to be evenly mixed, as well as giving a bit of stretch or body to the dough. Xantham gum and guar gum work to thicken, bind, and emulsify gluten-free ingredients.

Guar gum and xantham gum work in similar ways, though generally, xantham gum is the better choice for baked goods and foods that have a high acid content (foods made with lemon juice, for example, can interfere with guar gum). Guar gum is usually better for cold foods, ice creams, or pastry fillings.

When adding either to a recipe, it’s best to combine xantham gum or guar gum to the oil in a recipe first, which will help it to mix with the recipe better.

This is a fantastic general guide to xantham gum and guar gum, found on the Bob’s Red Mill website:

How much Xanthan Gum for Gluten Free Baking?

Cookies………………………………¼ teaspoon per cup of flour
Cakes and Pancakes………………..½ teaspoon per cup of flour
Muffins and Quick Breads………… ¾ teaspoon per cup of flour
Breads……………………………….1 to 1-½ tsp. per cup of flour
Pizza Dough…………………..…… 2 teaspoons per cup of flour
For Salad Dressings…Use ½ tsp. Xanthan Gum per 8 oz. of liquid.


How much Guar Gum for Gluten Free Baking?

Cookies………………………………¼ to ½ tsp. per cup of flour
Cakes and Pancakes………………..¾ teaspoon per cup of flour
Muffins and Quick Breads………….1 teaspoon per cup of flour
Breads……………………………….1-½ to 2 tsp. per cup of flour
Pizza Dough…………………..…….1 Tablespoon per cup of flour
For Hot Foods (gravies, stews , heated pudding)…Use 1-3 teaspoons per one quart of liquid.
For Cold Foods (salad dressing, ice creams, pudding) Use about 1-2 teaspoons per quart of liquid.

Biotin for Strong, Healthy Hair & Nails

I wanted to write about biotin this month, a B vitamin that is most well known for its benefit for hair and nails, and rightly so- it’s really amazing for strengthening the hair and nails as well as preventing hair loss.

The earliest research on biotin was done mainly with veterinary literature, where biotin was found to increase the strength and hardness of pigs and horses hooves. Those hooves are made of keratin, the same material our nails are made of, as well as our hair strands. The discovery that biotin made such a difference for the hooves (nails) of animals inspired the research to continue to humans.

Many of our customers have had great results for their hair and nails after supplementing with biotin that has also been confirmed by research studies in humans. One such study found that supplementing with biotin at a dose of 2500mcg a day increased the thickness of the human nail plate by 25%. Ninety-one percent of people taking that dosage experienced definite improvement in their nails, especially people who complained of weak, brittle nails before supplementation.

A deficiency in biotin can cause hair loss, and biotin supplementation has been linked to a reduction in hair loss and thinning hair. Other research has confirmed that biotin supplementation helps with brittle nails and thinning hair in people diagnosed with nail issues and poor hair growth. One 2015 study (linked here) found that 90 days of biotin supplementation helped women with hair loss to increase their hair density as well as reduce the shedding of hair. Additional studies have had participants report positive results on the appearance of hair and thickness after 90 days, which increased the longer that people took the biotin supplements.

In addition to biotin’s benefits for hair and nails, biotin can also be beneficial for cardiovascular health as well as increasing blood sugar sensitivity. Biotin appears to help increase the activity of specific liver enzymes that help the liver to utilize blood sugar. When those enzymes are activated, the liver is able to pull sugar from the blood to be properly metabolized. In one study, participants who took 8mg of biotin twice daily resulted in significant improvements in fasting blood sugar levels and blood sugar control in type 1 diabetics. Other research has reported that biotin combined with chromium (a mineral that can help with balancing blood sugar) was effective in reducing blood sugar levels as well as lowering triglyceride levels in the blood of type 2 diabetes patients.

High dose biotin supplementation has also been researched in some very groundbreaking studies on multiple sclerosis, though the research is still in its early stages. I just wanted to mention it since it’s always exciting when vitamins that have been around forever are found to be beneficial in new, previously unknown ways.

Supplementing with biotin for hair and nails definitely has benefits, but keep in mind that it’s more of a long term thing (most studies were for at least 90 days), since it takes time to made a difference in hair and nail strength. Biotin is a water soluble B vitamin, which means that whatever the body does not use is excreted, making biotin an extremely safe supplement to take. High dose biotin can interfere with some blood tests (it’s not harmful, but something to be aware of), so it’s recommended to stop taking biotin for a week before a blood panel, or to mention your biotin supplementation to your physician (which is good advice for all supplements).