Quercetin Supplementation for Allergies

allergy cartoon

If you’re an allergy sufferer but hate the not-so-pleasing side effects of traditional anti-histamines (Benadryl, Zyrtec, Allegra, etc), you may want to talk to your doctor about supplementing with quercetin. While quercetin is the most researched of all the bioflavanoids (fancy word for plant metabolite), it’s not the first that’s recommended- most likely because Dr. Oz toutes the benefits of resveratrol, and he should! It makes your heart happy! Quercetin has shown promise to allergy sufferers. In test tubes, quercetin stops histamines from being released from cells, which is why it has been deemed “nature’s antihistamine.” Human trial data is limited, but anecdotal evidence is promising. Patients who take it swear by it. I have started recommending it this allergy season.

Quercetin is found in the skins of apples, grapes and onions and is partially responsible for the color of these fruits! It’s absorption is increased by taking it together with resveratrol, green tea or yerba mate tea. Make sure to look at the labels when purchasing a quercetin product. The dihydrate form is the best followed by glycoside, aglycone, and rutinoside. The average dose is 1500mg/day, but if you take it in combination with resveratrol, you can probably lower the dose to 1000mg/day.

Since quercetin undergoes metabolism in the liver, it may interact with some medicines. If you are unsure if your medication is broken down by the liver make sure to ask your doctor or pharmacist before taking quercetin (or any supplement for that matter!). Common examples of such medicines are warfarin, clopidogrel, aspirin, cyclosporine, digoxin, and chemotherapy.

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What’s been going on

It’s been full steam ahead at work these days. Thank goodness for my month long hiatus because I don’t know how I would have handled the past three weeks. I’ve rekindled my love for my profession. It seems as though I would have some sort of epic change every three years, professionally speaking. I went from being an intern for 3 years to being a staff pharmacist for 3 years, to being a manager now for 4 years. Right around the three year mark in management I was getting a little antsy. For those of you that don’t know me personally, I’m a go getter. I feel as though I can always do more. I’m capable of a lot. So, I decided to sit for the Specialty pharmacy boards this October. I’ve been putting a few hours a week into studying for that and making sure all the requirements are fulfilled to take the exam. Specialty pharmacy is the future, and I want to be a part of it. I’m leaving tomorrow to spend a week in Tampa at the National Association of Specialty Pharmacy Expo at the University of South Florida. I’m sort of geeking out on this. A whole week of networking and learning- yes! While the biggest conditions that are treated with specialty drugs are inflammation, multiple sclerosis and cancer, my personal interest lies in solid organ transplantation.

1010.specialty_collins_fig2

My yoga practice is still there, but it has taken a back seat to my daily life. I’m finding the same solace in studying as I do with my yoga practice, I’m thinking thats actually a good thing. I’ve spent the last almost three years using my yoga practice as an alternative to probably much needed therapy. And not that I need a “reason” to practice, but eventually I’ll have to rekindle my love for yoga. I’m taking the advice of my teacher an doing less asana but more intensity. I think I will also use the month of May to try and organize my life around practice. I’m looking forward to the spring and summer. Practice comes easier then.

I think Mark and I decided on a wedding date- July 9th of this year. But don’t hold us to it. We are two of the most indecisive people you will ever meet (we’ve live in our house for 3 & a half years and the walls are still bare. We can’t decide on where we want to put things). The date comes from the engraving on the inside of my antique wedding band.  It will no doubt be a very small, not fancy event which will need to involve Vegan Treats, french fries and/or pasta. Because we live in Pennsylvania we can get the “self-uniting” marriage license and marry ourselves (thanks Quakers!!).

I’ve cut back my coffee consumption to once a day in the morning. Go me! If you recall I caffeinated myself into an adrenal stupor back in November. I’m happy to say my adrenals are back to the way they should be and I’m less tired during the day. I’m also back to being strictly a vegetarian. When I was not feeling well at the end of the year I got the bright idea to start eating a little meat again. All that did was give me stomach and headaches. ‘m sticking to veggies. I can’t promise that won’t change in the future though!

Other than being so happy that high waisted jeans are all the rage again (really I am, low-rise jeans are bull shit), that’s been my life in a small blog post.

 

Three Life Changing Words: VEGAN SHAMROCK SHAKE

No lie my friends, no lie! I am sort of a Shamrock Shake connoisseur. They are my weakness. I absolutely love their delicious fake vanilla flavor with minty undertones dyed with toxic green food coloring (ugh!). I normally can’t get enough. So much so that once a week during Shamrock Shake season I, or another pharmacist, will buy the entire staff shakes.

Shamrok SHake 1

But this year, while on my yearly trip to India, I decided to try and cut dairy out of my diet as much as possible. It’s a long story which would be better left for another post, but it was a rude awakening to come home to Shamrock Shake season in full swing. Ugh, what am I to do? Conundrum! I caved and had a small one to remember what they taste like so that I could try to mimic it and transform it into a slightly healthier dairy-free, refined sugar-free, dye-free, chemical-free version. And folks, I think I did it! I’m usually a recipe follower, not an inventor, so I’m giving myself a pat on the back and sharing it with ya’ll! Even my fiance thought it was uber yummy!

In a Vitamix or other high-speed blender combine:

200 grams (1/2 of a 1 pound package) silken tofu

1 cup almond milk

1 whole vanilla bean (can substitute 1 tsp quality vanilla extract)

5 pitted mejdol dates

12 medium size fresh mint leaves

1 cup ice

shamrock shake 2

I had to play around with the quantities of dates and mint until it was to my liking. If you like more or less mint or sweetness, customize it! I really hope you enjoy indulging in this as much as I do! Happy Shamrock Shake making!!!!!

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Where did our senses go?

A few days ago I received a consultation by an Ayurvedic doctor, or as the locals say a jungle physician. Nothing was necessarily wrong with me, I was just curious to see what he had to say about me. Prior to the appointment, I was already formulating expectations of what the experience would be like. I expected a reading of my pulse and a long drawn out list of specific questions about myself and my habits.

Beautiful Lotus
Beautiful Lotus

The physician’s “office” was on a small balcony of the Ayurvedic center. There were two chairs and nothing else. I shook his hand firmly and said hello. He was sitting opposite to me. He asked me why I wanted to see him, to which I explained that I really didn’t know. I was just there for any information he could give me. We spent 40 minutes together. We had a great conversation which was an extraction of information about me and my daily life. He didn’t necessarily tell me anything that I didn’t already know, he just reconfirmed that what I know is true. I need to slow down, get enough sleep, eat cooling foods and take care of my stomach. I should strive for enjoyment and flow in my yoga practice. He also told me that I’m lucky to have found yoga and eastern philosophies at such a young age. I can use them to prevent future disease.

What astounded me was his ability to observe. During those 40 minutes he didn’t take his eyes away from me. There was a constant visual scan of everything I was doing. There was no pulse taking or real physical exam except with his senses. The last time I saw my own physician in the US, it was a 10 minute visit, of which 8 minutes were spent with diagnostic aides and the remaining few minutes with conversation. I become downgraded to a number and a disease.

Watermelon. Many many melons!!

Watermelon. Many many melons!!

We, globally speaking, tend to abandon our own senses and feelings about our health in the western world. We rely solely on objective testing to find out what ails us instead of using our own internal intellect. If we don’t have proof, it doesn’t exist. But what will it take to bring about this intellect or sixth sense? Some of us have the ability to tap into it, but most of us don’t. Because of this lack of awareness can western and eastern medicine truly commingle? My research has begun.

I often find myself trying to apply scientific principles in my yoga practice. An object in motion tends to stay in motion, an object at rest tends to stay at rest unless acted upon by another force…when one body exerts a force on a second body, the second body simultaneously exerts a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction to that of the first body. I have lots of these. I think I will always have a tendency to try and apply science to yoga. It’s my nature, it’s how I was educated. However, since my study of yoga embarked, my internal awareness has had an upswing. My senses (taste, touch, smell, hear, and see) have augmented. I know how I’m supposed to feel, I know how food is supposed to taste, I have a better relationship with my hands and feet. I have a better relationship with myself and nature. It can only get better from here.

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The Elephants.

Gallery

This gallery contains 4 photos.

On Saturday I went to an Elephant Rehabilitation Center outside of Trivandrum. Elephants are no doubt the most beautiful most amazing creatures on earth. I could have spent all day there with them, especially the babies! If you enjoyed this … Continue reading

How to not get sick in India.

Getting sick is not fun. Getting sick in India is really not fun. It’s unnerving to be in a place where there are more cell phones than toilets and where even the native people are at risk of infection from drinking their own tap water. I was sick last week. Fever, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Maybe it was from accidentally drinking the water, or maybe it wasn’t. Regardless, it really put a damper on my vacation (and my birthday). It’s a good thing I trusted my instinct and followed my own treatment plan- mainly rest. When you’re in a place where the people are very welcoming and eager to please you with food, chai and other treats, your travel rules are sometimes forgotten.

Don’t forget the basic travel rules for India:

only drink sealed bottled water

only eat cooked food

don’t eat the skin of fruits and veggies

wash your hands often

don’t touch your mouth

keep your mouth closed in the shower

use bottled water to brush your teeth

only drink pasteurized milk

if you have a bad feeling about any food in front of you, don’t eat it

coconut drinking

Getting the Hepatitis A and Typhoid vaccine are highly recommended since both of these diseases can be contracted through eating. The amount of bacteria and other microorganisms found in India’s water supply are disturbing. I’m talking about the bad boys of bugs- E. Coli, Salmonella, Klebsiella, Shigella, Pseudomonas, and Cholera, to name just a few. What’s even more disturbing is the amount of antibiotic resistance emerging in the country to these bugs. A main reason is because antibiotics can be bought over the counter without a prescription, and a lack of a proper FDA within the country (the US has an FDA branch in India, but is only used for the drugs made in India for US use, not for India itself). You don’t know the exact concentration or even what drug you’re actually receiving. I think it is wise to bring a course or two of antibiotics from home if you’re traveling to the far east. A three day course of ciprofloxacin will usually combat “Delhi Belly” fast. Taking a good probiotic during the entire duration of your journey is also a smart move. Probiotics are becoming more and more popular. Basically they maintain the good bacteria in the GI tract which will hopefully keep the bad guys to a minimum. Grapefruitseed extract consumption is a favorite among the yogi population, and while it (only the brand Citricidal has been studied) has shown promising bactericidal properties to some of the microbes in India’s water, most of the evidence is anecdotal and the way in which it’s manufactured is probably not exceptionally good for you.

If you do happen to get sick in India, there are a few simple rules to follow. Again, common sense, but being in a strange land can often make your common sense fly out the window. Make sure to REST. Your yoga practice isn’t going anywhere. Stay in your hotel out of the heat. Fast- don’t eat anything for at least the first two days of your illness. Rehydrate with coconut water and also with regular bottled water. Take acetaminophen alternating with ibuprofen for the fever. Try to hold off on taking any antidiarrheal medication as long as you can. Once you feel better, stay away from the spices and flavors of the country. Keep your diet simple with rice and bread. Of course, if the illness becomes unbearable, try and find a good hospital.

Thali

For those of you who know me, you know I always support a non-pharmacologic plan for healing. I have no problem throwing that out the window here. :-)

Here is the link to the CDC’s website for their recommendations for preparing and traveling to India.

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Pongala

pongala

The streets of Trivandrum are lined with vendors selling earthen pots in which women will cook their offerings to the divine goddess. I was lucky enough to snap this beautiful image out of a rickshaw this afternoon. 

The city of Trivandrum is getting ready for the annual Pongala at the Attukal Bhagavathy Temple, which is this Sunday. I’m really hoping to go into town to see it and take some photographs. A Pongala is a Hindu religious festival for woman devotees. Pongala means “to boil over” and refers to the ritualistic offering of kheer or payasam made of rice, sweet molasses, coconut, nuts and raisins. Women from all over the country travel to participate in this festival. Women squat on roads, footpaths and shop fronts in a radius of several miles around the temple to cook their mixtures in earthen pots that is offered to the goddess seeking divine blessings. The Chief Priest of the temple lights the main hearth from the fire inside the temple. This fire is exchanged from one oven to another. Eventually all of the ovens will be lit from this one single flame. Beautiful. This particular festival has been entered into the Guiness Book of World Records as the largest gathering of women in a single place at the same time. It is expected that over 35 million women will participate this year. This seriously blows my mind and I’m really looking forward to seeing it.

I found out about the details of this festival from a wonderful tailor here in Kovalam. He, in his very broken English, told me the story of the deity of this particular temple. His version was extremely difficult to follow along, so here is the excerpt directly from wikipedia:

The Goddess Kannagi is the main deity in this temple. The mythology behind the temple, relates to the story of Kannagi who was married to Kovalan, son of a wealthy merchant. After marriage, Kovalan met a dancer and spent all his riches on her forgetting his wife. But when he was penniless, he went back to Kannagi. The only precious thing left to be sold was Kannagi’s pair of anklets. They went with it to the king of Madurai to sell it. But an anklet was stolen from the Queen which looked similar to Kannagi’s. When he tried to sell it, he was mistaken for the thief and beheaded by the king’s soldiers.

Kannagi got infuriated when she heard the news and rushed to the King with the second pair of anklet. She broke one of the anklets and it contained rubies while the Queen’s contained pearls. She cursed the city of Madurai, and it is said that due to her chastity, the curse came true. Kannagi is said to have attained salvation after the Goddess of the city appeared before her.

It is said that on her way to Kodungalloor, Kannagi passed Attukal. She took the form of a little girl. An old man was sitting on the banks of a stream, when the girl went to him and asked him whether he could help her cross it. Surprised to find the young girl alone, he took her home. But she disappeared. She came back in his sleep and asked him to build a temple where he found 3 golden lines in his grove. He went ahead and did the same, and it is said that this is at the location of the present Attukal temple.

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The Kids.

the kids

One of my favorite things about India are the children. They are so cute and have the best smiles. If you look closely at the chalkboard, they are learning G for Gun and W for War. It’s astounding what is so okay in their culture is not in ours.

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The Chef.

Image

the chef

David arranged a to have a meal at a local temple for his students. We were able to watch the Swami perform puja, he said a prayer, and then the temple workers served us a delicious thali meal. All of the ingredients were grown on the temple grounds. Even the paneer was made from the milk of their cow. As a westerner, it’s hard to believe that such amazing food can be made out of such a simple kitchen. The photo above says it all.

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