Among the top five supplements in my naturopathic nutraceutical tool kit – I would place fish oil in the top 2 (maybe only second to magnesium whose magical mineral qualities have been celebrated in a separate post). What I value most about using fish oil in my practice to support my patients’ health and well-being is the versatility and trusted response from this age-old remedy. All ages can benefit from the healing properties of the omega-3 fatty acids known as EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) which are the main components of fish oil supplements. EPA and DHA are referred to as essential fatty acids because our bodies cannot synthesize them and they must be obtained through the diet. Aside from wild cold-water fish such as salmon, sardines, cod and mackerel, additional food sources of omega-3 fatty acids include walnuts, flax seeds, green leafy vegetables and sea vegetables.
In infants, DHA supplementation supports early stages of neurocognitive development and similarly, boosting levels of DHA in aging populations can help prevent cognitive decline. Increasing EPA levels often results in a lowering of inflammation in the body – whether that inflammation is expressed as eczema on the skin or as arthritis in the joints. A wide range of health conditions have demonstrated benefit in response to fish oil supplementation in clinical research including cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, recovery from concussions, mood disorders, and general improvements in immune health.
When selecting a fish oil supplement for a patient, there are several factors I take into consideration:
- Quality: A high-quality fish oil supplement will generally not smell fishy (if you are using capsules) and will rarely be burped back up when taken with food. Since toxins are naturally stored in fats, selecting a fish oil product that has been highly tested for heavy metals and toxins by a third-party lab is critical.
- Dosage: Whether using capsules or a liquid version of fish oil, I typically recommend that patients take a minimum of 1,000 mg of EPA + DHA daily.
- Affordability: Liquid fish oil is often more affordable than capsules (i.e. you get more for your money per dose.) With fish oil, you do get what you pay for, so it is always better to invest in quality when possible.
Based on these criteria, one of the brands of fish oil that I have used consistently in my practice over the last 8 ½ years is Pharmax’s Finest Pure Fish Oil liquid blend. In one teaspoon of this preparation, patients can intake a high dose of both EPA and DHA once per day rather than taking up to 4+ capsules of an encapsulated fish oil product, thus making the liquid preparation more affordable. I especially recommend the Finest Pure Fish Oil for patient experiencing dry/scaling skin conditions, cardiovascular health concerns, mood disorders, and arthritic conditions associated with pain.
As with all fish oil products that I recommend, Pharmax ensures the quality of their fish oil supplements through third party testing which screens for heavy metal toxicity, pesticides and radiation. In May 2014, Pharmax’s fish oils were tested as “best in class” for quality assurance by third party vendor Silliker, Inc., an international network of leading accredited testing and consulting laboratories for the food industry.
Please consult your healthcare provider before introducing new supplements to ensure safe dosages and to avoid any contraindications. Fish oil can cause thinning of the blood and therefore should be avoided before surgery. If you are taking blood thinning medications or have a clotting disorder, please consult your physician before using fish oil as a supplement.
Disclaimer: While Dr. Telfair has been recommending Pharmax’s Finest Pure Fish Oil liquid orange flavor for over eight years in practice without any financial affiliations with Phamrax, Pharmax provided a free sample of their Finest Pure Fish Oil strawberry flavor for this product review. Dr. Telfair and NDHealthcare.com did not receive any monetary compensation for publishing this product review.
As a firm believer in using the gentlest therapies possible to stimulate the greatest healing effect, I have learned to trust the healing benefits of castor oil applied topically to help calm inflammation and promote healing to injured tissues. My article on castor oil was recently published in the Naturopathic News and Review (NDNR) which is a publication dedicated to educating and supporting the naturopathic profession. In this article you will find case examples of which types of health concerns may be addressed using castor oil, directions for use, and safety guidelines.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly referred to as Obama Care, includes numerous mentions of the words “wellness” and “prevention” while also emphasizing the importance of cost-effective health care, yet the words “naturopathic medicine” are not mentioned once. The Federal Government has recognized the need in healthcare for exactly what naturopathic doctors (NDs) offer but there is still a steep learning curve to bring legislators up to speed about who naturopathic doctors are and what we bring to the healthcare table.
For being a relatively small profession of 4,500 NDs in the country, we do have a united and strong voice. This was evidenced in the successful and unanimous passage of Senate Resolution 221 last year which declared the first national Naturopathic Medicine Week in October 2013 as sponsored by Maryland’s Senator Mikulski.
On April 28, 2014 over 120 naturopathic students and doctors representing 43 states pounded the marble floors of the Houses of Congress to promote the benefits of naturopathic care for lowering chronic disease rates and saving healthcare dollars at the annual Naturopathic Lobby Day in Washington D.C. hosted by the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP).
We had two primary objectives:
1. Asking federal legislators to support the future introduction of a bill to include NDs in Medicare as physician level providers, giving seniors affordable access to naturopathic care.
2. Requesting support for the introduction of both Senate and House Resolutions to declare the week of October 6, 2014 as Naturopathic Medicine Week.
Our messages were well received in the office of Maryland Senators Mikulski and Cardin and Congressman Sarbanes. The day concluded with a well-attended Health Fair reception where Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton from Washington DC was honored for her commitment to supporting the charism and principles of naturopathic medicine.
On April 14, 2014, Governor Martin O’Malley signed into law a bill allowing for the licensure of naturopathic doctors in the state of Maryland making Maryland the 18th licensed state for NDs in the U.S. The first licenses will be issued to NDs by March 1, 2016.
What does it take to get a state licensed? In the case of Maryland, passing legislation to license naturopathic doctors began with a string of fortunate events leading to the initial bill introduction four years ago, securing strong sponsors in the legislature, and finding our committed lobbyist, Jim McComb, who skillfully advocated for our cause. The next crucial component of success was developing a Team of NDs in the state who were willing to devote an incalculable amount of time, energy and resources into seeing this goal through from start to finish. Achieving our victory would not have been possible without the dedication of Drs. Stephany Porter, Kevin Passero, Carrie Runde, Kristaps Paddock, Erin Kinney and Angela Diop who joined me in dozens of conference calls, tag-teamed on numerous presentations to health care groups, organized successful fundraisers and Lobby Days, and at times dropped everything to attend pivotal meetings with legislators in Annapolis.
The amount of support that the Maryland Association of Naturopathic Physicians (MDANP) received from our naturopathic community and patients throughout this journey was remarkably generous. The MDANP extends a heartfelt thanks to all of those who offered guest testimony, answered our last-minute calls and provided expert guidance along the way.
Under the new law, naturopathic doctors will be licensed under the Maryland Board of Physicians with a Naturopathic Advisory Committee formed under the Board to support regulation. The scope of practice for NDs will include the ability to “diagnose and treat” using physical exam, laboratory testing, diagnostic imaging and EKGs. Naturopathic doctors in Maryland will be able to order and dispense naturopathic therapies and use physical medicine techniques include naturopathic mobilization (up to Grade IV manipulation). The law will also offer title protection and clearly define the level of education needed to become eligible for licensure.
Achieving licensure for naturopathic medicine takes more than a well-organized legislative packet or a convincing testimony, it takes teamwork that highlights the gifts and talents of individuals who are united towards a common goal. I could not be more proud of my colleagues from the MDANP in how we pulled together to overcome the opposition and allowed the spirit and integrity of our medicine to prevail.
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Sometimes the best medicine isn’t found in a jar of pills or vitamins… sometimes the best medicine is right in your own bed! SLEEP is one of the great decadences of life that is essential for survival and yet so often overlooked as a key component to health and wellness.
While we sleep our bodies engage in healing activity by secreting melatonin which is a hormone with powerful anti-oxidant properties. A good night’s rest also plays an important role in shaping metabolism as lack of sleep can increase risk of obesity and interfere with healthy weight loss.
Individuals who have trouble falling asleep may benefit from natural supports such as melatonin, calming herbs such as chamomile, hops, passionflower or valerian or taking a dose of relaxing magnesium before bed.
Individuals who have trouble staying asleep may be sensitive to changes in blood sugar levels that occur overnight. Eating a protein snack before bed such as almond butter with apple slices may help keep blood sugar levels even and prevent the frequent waking.
*If you are using anti-inflammatory medications recommended by a healthcare practitioner, please consult the practitioner before making any changes to your regimen.
WATER: One of the first places you can begin when feeling achy or sore is with a glass or two of water since dehydration can be a trigger for these symptoms. I often encourage patients who struggle with lower back pain to first drink two glasses of water and wait about 15 minutes before reaching for the anti-inflammatory medications, and sometimes water does the trick!
TURMERIC is one of the strongest anti-inflammatory herbs in the naturopathic tool belt. Long used as a culinary herb, this potent spice also has been shown to have anti-cancer properties as well. The challenge with turmeric is getting a high enough dose into the body to have a therapeutic effect. While cooking with turmeric is definitely beneficial, taking specially prepared forms of turmeric in supplement form can deliver a high concentration of the herb to stimulate a medicinal effect for lowering pain and inflammation.
CASTOR OIL: When used orally, castor oil can act as a strong laxative, but when applied topically over areas of inflammation (such as an arthritic knee or sore shoulder), castor oil has an anti-inflammatory effect. Preparing a castor oil ‘pack’ is another age-old naturopathic therapy which involves applying the oil over the inflamed area (not over open wounds) and then covering the area and applying heat for 20-30 minutes. The oil can be left on longer but if you sleep with the oil on your body, be sure to wear old clothes as it can stain.