What is spirulina and where is it found?

Spirulina is a cyanobacterium, which is a blue green algae. It is high in protein, B vitamins, and iron. It also contains copper, manganese, potassium, and magnesium. Further, spirulina contains a powerful antioxidant called phyocyanin. Spirulina is used as both a supplement and whole food and comes in different forms, such as powder, flakes, and tablets.

What are the benefits?

Spirulina is used to treat hay fever, diabetes, blood pressure, ADHD, hyperlipidemia and chronic fatigue syndrome. Additionally, many people take it to help with weight loss and enhance exercise performance. Others take it for its anticancer properties. It also helps eliminate arsenic from the body.

Are there interactions with food or medications?

Spirulina should not be taken with anticoagulant or antiplatelet supplements or meds since spirulina has been shown to inhibit platelet aggregation. It should also be avoided during immunosuppressant therapy since spirulina may stimulate the immune system.

 Are there side effects?

As long as the algae is not contaminated, there can be a few side mild effects such as bloating, diarrhea, stomach upset, edema, and flatulence. Some spirulina may be contaminated with microcystis aeruginosa, which produce toxins that affect the liver and cause jaundice, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, weakness, shock and death. It is important to buy spirulina from a reputable source.


Coconut Water

What is coconut water and where is it found?

Coconut water comes from the clear liquid in the center of immature, green coconuts. It is not the same thing as coconut milk, which is made from the meat of mature coconuts. Coconut water is low in calories, and it is naturally fat-free and cholesterol free. Additionally, it contains potassium, sodium, magnesium, chloride, calcium, and glucose, and can be used to treat dehydration because of its high electrolyte content. When buying coconut milk, make sure to look at the nutrition label and ingredients. To get the best quality, avoid buying products made from concentrate, ones that have added natural flavors and sweeteners, and those pasteurized with heat.

What are the benefits?

Coconut water is used for hydration after physical activity. It is also used to treat diarrhea. Some people drink coconut water to lower blood pressure.

Are there interactions with food or medications?

Since coconut water may lower blood pressure, consult a doctor if you are taking anti-hypertensive medications or herbal supplements..

Are there side effects?

No known side effects noted



What is biotin and where is it found?

Thiamin is a type of B vitamin and coenzyme that plays a major role in the body. Sometimes biotin is referred to as Vitamin H or coenzyme R.  It is essential for the metabolism of fats and amino acids, cell growth, and the production of fatty acids. Biotin is found in small amounts in many foods, such as whole grain breads and cereals, wheat germ, dairy products, eggs, Swiss chard, chicken, and salmon. It can also be taken as a supplement.

What are the benefits?

Biotin is used to treat brittle nails, diabetes, malnutrition, rapid weight loss, and peripheral neuropathy. Some people take biotin for hair loss, skin rash, and mild depression. It is also used to prevent and treat pregnancy related deficiency.

Are there interactions with food or medications?

Biotin may reduce the absorption of alpha lipoic acid and Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid). Some patients taking phenytoin, primidone, or phenobarbital may have reduced levels of biotin and require supplementation.

Are there side effects?

Biotin is well tolerated. Consult with a doctor if pregnant or breastfeeding.


Ginkgo Biloba

What is Ginkgo Biloba and where is it found?

Ginkgo biloba has been traditionally used in Chinese medicine to improve memory, since it increases blood flow to the brain and protects it from damage. It is an antioxidant that contains flavonoids and terpenoids, which aid in blood circulation and protect the nerves, heart, and blood vessels from damage. Ginkgo comes from the leaves of the maidenhair tree, which is one of the oldest types of trees in existence. Ginkgo biloba comes from the dried green leaves of the tree and is sold as supplements in liquids, capsules, and tablets. It can also be used to make tea.

What are the benefits of Ginkgo biloba?

Ginkgo biloba is used to improve memory, especially memory problems caused by dementia. It has been shown to improve thinking, memory loss, and social behavior. Some people take ginkgo to improve anxiety, peripheral vascular disease, PMS, glaucoma, schizophrenia and vertigo.

Are there interactions with food or medications and Ginkgo?

Do not take Ginkgo biloba with SSRI antidepressants, blood pressure medications, or anticoagulant drugs, such as aspirin. Those with circulation disorders, diabetes, and epilepsy should also avoid ginkgo.

Are there side effects of taking ginkgo?

Some people complain of symptoms including nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, dizziness, restlessness, headaches, and stomach aches.



What is Selenium and where is it found?Selenium is a mineral found in foods such as Brazil nuts, seafood, meats (especially organ meats), breads, grains, poultry, and eggs. It is also found in soil, so the amount of selenium in plant food varies depending on the geographic location and soil quality of the region. Additionally, it is sold as part of multivitamin/multimineral supplements and as stand-alone supplements as well. Selenium is an important antioxidant that plays a key role in metabolism, even though the human body requires it in small amounts.

What are the benefits of Selenium?Selenium has been shown to be effective in preventing cognitive decline, lowering cholesterol, and in treating cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and hypothyroidism.

Are there interactions with food or medications and Selenium?Some research shows that vitamin C, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the effectiveness of selenium. Additionally, anticoagulant/antiplatelet herbs and medications in combination with selenium may increase the risk of bleeding.

Are there side effects from taking Selenium?Selenium is well tolerated and safe when taken in small doses. However, Selenium can be toxic in large amounts, so it should not be taken haphazardly or without the advice of a medical professional. Symptoms of toxicity include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, weight loss, irritability, nail changes, muscle tenderness and tremors, and alopecia.

st johns wart

St. John’s Wort

What is St. John’s Wort and where is it found?

St. John’s Wort is a plant with yellow flowers used for medicinal purposes because of its anti-depressant and anti-inflammatory properties. It is found as a supplement in either capsule or liquid form, while the dried herb can be used as a tea.

What are the benefits?

St John’s wort has been shown to be effective in treating depression, mood disturbances, PMS, ADHD, OCD, and seasonal affective disorder. Others use it for fibromyalgia, migraines, and fatigue. Topically, it is used for wound healing, muscle pain, and to treat bruises and abrasions.

Are there interactions with food or medications?

Do not take St. John’s Wort with SSRI antidepressants, warfarin or birth control pills because there may be serious side effects. St. John’s Wort may also decrease the effectiveness of HIV medications, transplant medications, and cholesterol medications.

Are there side effects?

Some people complain of symptoms including nausea diarrhea, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, confusion, fatigue, headaches, and dry mouth.


What is SAMe and where is it found?

S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe) is a naturally occurring chemical that is found in many body tissues and fluids. It is used in many biochemical reactions involving hormones, neurotransmitters, proteins, and phospholipids. SAMe is also used to make chemicals that are involved in pain and depression. SAMe is made from homocysteine and 5-methyl tetrahydrofolate in the body; it can be made in a laboratory. Its production is related to vitamin B12 and folate metabolism, so deficiencies in these vitamins may causes decreased SAMe synthesis.


What are the benefits?

SAMe has been shown to be effective in treating depression and osteoarthritis. It is also used for anxiety, heart disease, fibromyalgia, tendonitis, dementia, liver disease, bursitis, tendonitis, and chronic low back pain. Some othesr use it for PMS, ADHD, and migraines.

Are there interactions with food or medications?

Do not take SAMe with other herbal treatments used for depression, such as St. John’s wort, 5-HTP, Hawaiian baby woodrose, and L-tryptophan. It should also not be taken with anti-depressant medications or MAIO inhibitors. Both SAMe and Dextromethorphan (Robitussin DM, and others) affect serotonin level. Therefore, they should not be taken together since high serotonin levels may have negative side effects, especially on the heart. Also, consult a doctor before you take SAMe if you are taking Levodopa, Demerol, Tramadol, or Pentazocine.

Are there side effects?

Some people complain of symptoms including gas, diarrhea, vomiting, constipation, headache, anorexia, dry mouth, sweating, dizziness, or nervousness. SAMe may affect the nervous system and it should not be taken within 2 weeks of surgery.

Oil of Oregano

What is oil of oregano and where is it found?

Oil of oregano comes from the leaves and flowers of the oregano plant. Oil of Oregano has highly effective antimicrobial properties as well as powerful antioxidants, such as the phenols thymol and carvacrol. It also has intestinal cleansing benefits and may help digestion by increasing bile production and helping fight against bacteria, parasites, viruses, and fungi.

What are the benefits?

Oil of oregano is used to treat respiratory tract infections, hyperlipidemia, GI disorders, intestinal parasites, yeast infections, allergies, sinusitis, fatigue, rheumatoid arthritis, headaches, UTIs, and menstrual cramps. It can also be used topically for acne, dandruff, foot or nail fungus, toothaches, psoriasis, toothaches and gum disease. It may also be used as an insect repellent.

Are there interactions with food or medications?

Oil of oregano may interfere with iron, copper, and zinc absorption. It may have a hypoglycemic effect, and people with diabetes and those who take other herbs and supplements that are used to lower glucose levels should be cautious. Oil of oregano may increase the risk of bleeding and should not be taken within 2 weeks prior to surgery. Those allergic to mint, lavender, sage and basil or any plant in the Lamiaceae family should avoid this oil as well. Lithium interacts with oregano and you should speak to a doctor before taking this supplement to avoid side effects.

Are there side effects?

Sometimes large of amounts of oil of oregano can cause stomach upset.



What is DHEA and where is it found?

DHEA stands for dehydroepiandrosterone, and it is a precursor to male and female sex hormones that is produced in the adrenal glands. DHEA supplements are made from wild yam and soy products. After the age of 30, DHEA levels in the body begin to decline, and low levels are linked to adrenal insufficiency, diabetes, inflammation, immune disorders, AIDS, Alzheimer’s, depressions, and osteoporosis.
What are the benefits of DHEA?

DHEA supplementation is used to decrease the levels of testosterone and estrogen in the body. Additionally, DHEA is used to treat metabolic syndrome, lupus, weight loss, and to improve immune function and cognitive function. It may be used to increase muscle mass, energy and strength, and reverse the signs of aging. It is give to men for erectile dysfunction and to promote sexuality and well being in women. DHEA is also used to treat depression and improve mood.

Are there interactions with food, medications or herbal supplement and DHEA?

Do not take DHEA with anticoagulant herbs or supplements since DHEA may inhibit platelet aggregation and intensity the effects of those medications. Also, it should not be taken with licorice or soy or too much fiber.

Are there side effects? of DHEA

Some people have reported increased acne while taking DHEA. Additionally, other people show signs of insomnia, headaches, nausea, skin itching, and mood changes. Some men report breast tenderness while some women experience masculizination symptoms, such as depending of the voice and irregular periods.


What is 7-keto and where is it found?

7-keto is metabolized from DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone), which is a chemical formed in the body. DHEA is converted to steroid hormones, while 7-keto is non-hormonal and does not affect sex hormone levels in the body. 7-keto is currently sold as a dietary supplement.

What are the benefits?

7-keto is used to increase metabolism, promote lean body mass, build muscle boost immune function, reduce aging, and increase memory. By speeding up metabolism and heat production, It may decrease body weight and fat.

Are there interactions with food or medications?

None known

Are there side effects?

Taking 7-keto may decrease hemoglobin and hematocrit.