Plan ahead for spring allergies

  • Written by K. W. Scarbrough, OD
Despite snow or rain, Mother Nature will have her way. Spring means pollen, and pollen means allergies.  The Northwest has more than its share of pollen-bearing months. Allergy sufferers have a variety of approaches to help get them through the season.

The allergy season starts in January with the smaller shrubs:  hazelnut and maple.  In February and March the big guns, cedar and alder, bloom. These put out large amounts of pollen to which even the mildly allergic react. Birch and cottonwood follow in April. Just as the trees are done pollinating, the grasses begin to bloom. Many blame the Scotch broom but it is actually the grasses and weeds which grow alongside it that are responsible for the allergy symptoms of scratchy eyes and nose, sniffles, raspy voice, itchy skin and aching sinuses.

Allergists prefer stopping allergies at the nose rather than using oral medications, so nasal steroids are often prescribed.  These dosages are very small and locally administered; the side effects are less serious than with oral steroids. These must be used consistently, however, for best outcome.  Some people also get relief with simple nasal irrigators otherwise known as Neti pots.  While a little cumbersome, the relief can be profound simply from rinsing the pollens out of the sinuses.

Most allergy sufferers know about the over-the-counter oral medications such as Zyrtec and Claritin. These are second-generation antihistamines and usually cause far less sleepiness than the earlier generation medications such as Benadryl. Benadryl, however, can be very helpful for short-term use when sleep is difficult. Unfortunately even these second-generation products do have side effects, namely dryness. They dry out eyes, mouths, noses and skin. Sometimes painful dry eyes and nosebleeds can be the result.

Eye allergies are poorly treated with oral medications.  That is because the cells causing allergies in the eyes are slightly different than in the nose and throat. Eye drops are available over-the-counter or prescription strength.

These apply the medicine directly to the affected area.  The drops have two methods of action: immediate and cumulative. The immediate effect helps to stop itching.  The cumulative effect adds to overall relief, however, by toughening the cells containing histamine, the chemical which causes allergies.

These tougher cells do not release the histamine as readily when exposed to pollen. It takes about two weeks for maximum impact so drops should be started before the season really takes off, then continued throughout.

Allergy shots involve a great commitment in time and money. These are reserved for year-round allergies of the more severe type.

Environmental support within the home such as HEPA filters, dust management, and keeping windows closed are helpful adjuncts and allow less medication to be taken.  Taking an antihistamine before exposure such as cutting the grass also helps.  Washing pollen off after being outside is a good idea, too.

Allergies can be mild or life threatening. Please see your allergist or eye doctor for determining the best treatment plan for you.

I’m Sooo Tired

  • Written by Dr. Elizabeth Thybulle

How often do you respond to a friend or coworker “how you are doing” by saying; “I am so tired?” Do you find your energy levels are low at the same time every day? Are there some days you feel too fatigued to go to work or spend time with family, much less go to the gym and exercise?

Why is that?

While a simple solution to not being tired during the day is to get a good night’s sleep, many other factors can influence your energy level.

Your naturopathic doctor will discuss your fatigue and other symptoms and determine the cause of it so you may be treated appropriately. Be sure your ND draws your blood as it is possible to discover nutrient deficiencies. Did you know that low levels of vitamin D, vitamin B12, or iron can cause significant fatigue?  If you are deficient, simply supplementing specific nutrients could bring those levels up along with your energy. These are relatively easy and inexpensive ways to give you a boost, however be sure you are taking the prescribed dose and using a quality product.

Do you have seasonal allergies starting at this time of year? Allergies can cause tiredness as well, not to mention all types of itchy, dripping and sneezing symptoms. Talking to your ND about getting your allergy symptoms under control is another step in the right direction to resolving your fatigue. Natural remedies; such as Chinese herbal remedies, homeopathic remedies, and acupuncture can all help decrease the symptoms of allergies, consequently adding another jolt to your day.

Various hormones play an important role in your energy level throughout the day. Both men and women are affected by the hormones released by the adrenal glands. These stress hormones are important for keeping your body going during stressful times or while exercising. NDs are able to test for low hormone levels and supplement when necessary. Women are also more susceptible to fluctuating hormones during the menstrual cycle or menopause. Hormonal balance is very important and they can be tested to determine if an imbalance is the cause for your lack of energy and vitality.  It is also helpful to consume a healthy diet during those times by avoiding too much sugar, alcohol and coffee and by increasing your intake of leafy green vegetables, water, and protein at each meal during the day.

Sometimes your mood can affect your level of energy.  If you wake up on the wrong side of the bed, it is possible that you may not bounce through your day with a smile on your face. There are tests you can take that show the levels of neurotransmitters in your brain. The results are very helpful in determining how to balance your mood, calm your nervous system and help you sleep. Finally, some simple solutions to not being tired during the day are to get a good night’s sleep, plenty of exercise and maybe even some meditation and yoga.  Sleep issues? Well that’s a whole other article.

Dr. Thybulle is a naturopathic doctor and may be reached at: Health Moves 17311 135th Ave NE Ste. C-800 Woodinville, WA 98072 Phone: 425.402.9999 or  Most insurances accepted.

Ten steps to conquering heart disease

  • Written by ARA

umbrellaYou may already know that heart disease is the No. 1 killer in America, and that factors like obesity increase your risk of developing it. But of all the shocking things you know—  or believe you know — about heart disease, here’s the statistic that you might find the most eye-opening: 80 percent of all heart disease is preventable.

“It’s important that everyone understand as much as possible about heart disease prevention, as 80 percent of heart disease can be avoided,” says Dr. Martha Grogan, medical editor-in-chief of the new book “Mayo Clinic Healthy Heart for Life!”

Heart disease claims the lives of 600,000 Americans each year, and another 12.7 million suffer from heart attacks. One in three women are diagnosed with heart disease and 50 percent of men are at risk of heart attacks before age 65. Those statistics may make you feel like you, too, are in the cross-hairs for developing heart disease. Some lifestyle changes, however, can help you greatly reduce your risks.

In the new book, available now online and in bookstores nationwide, Mayo Clinic experts discuss risk factors for heart disease, how to recognize the symptoms, and what lifestyle steps you can take to help reduce your risk. The catchphrase “Eat 5, Move 10, Sleep 8” sums up the approach Mayo experts advocate to minimize heart disease risks. The slogan reminds you to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables each day, do at least 10 minutes of moderately intense physical exercise daily, and get at least eight hours of sleep per night.

In addition, Mayo experts say, 10 simple steps can help you minimize your risk of heart disease.

Here’s a sampling of the steps that you’ll find in the clinic’s new heart healthy book:

• Eat healthy - Adopt simple dietary changes such as eating at least five fruits and vegetables each day, switching to whole grains and lean proteins, and eating a healthy breakfast every day.

• Be active - A sedentary lifestyle is as deadly as smoking, experts say. Exercising just 10 minutes a day can deliver significant heart-health benefits. Have trouble sticking with an exercise plan? Finding something you enjoy doing, whether it’s playing a sport, running, tai chi, yoga or extreme house cleaning, can help you maintain your commitment to exercising.

• Sleep well - Sleep deprivation has serious health repercussions, including increasing your risk of heart disease. Conversely, getting adequate sleep can actually have a restorative effect on the heart. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says sleep deprivation has become a national public health epidemic. Creating a bedtime routine and a relaxing sleep environment can help you get the eight hours of sleep per night that your body needs.

• Plan for emergencies - A heart emergency can happen at any time, so it’s important to know the warning signs of a problem. Learn to recognize symptoms of a crisis, and act quickly to get medical help.

• Enjoy life - A positive attitude, supportive network of family and friends, and good management of your stress not only improve your heart health, they can improve your overall enjoyment of life, as well.

In addition to offering solid advice and the 10 steps to heart health, the “Mayo Clinic Healthy Heart for Life!” also discusses how the heart functions, what can go wrong, tools for ongoing heart health, and tips on how to keep your whole family heart healthy.

“Following these steps can help you dramatically reduce your risk of heart disease, even though it can’t be completely eliminated,” Grogan says. “If you’ve done everything in your power to prevent heart disease or live with it as effectively as possible, then you have, indeed, conquered it.”

Unscrambling the myths behind eggs and cholesterol - Enjoying an egg a day can be part of a healthy diet

  • Written by ARA

When it comes to eggs, dietary cholesterol and heart health, what you think you know may be a bit scrambled.

Concerns over dietary cholesterol and its impact on heart disease keeps many people from eating eggs, despite their nutritional benefits.

However, more than 40 years of research shows healthy adults can enjoy an egg every day without significantly impacting their risk of heart disease.

Cracking the cholesterol myth

Enjoying an egg a day as part of a healthy diet balanced with fruits and vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy, falls well within current cholesterol guidelines.

In fact, according to USDA data, one large egg is 14 percent lower in cholesterol than previously recorded, down from 212 mg to 185 mg, and is also 64 percent higher in vitamin D, with 41 IU per large egg.

Moreover, one large egg contains six grams of high-quality protein and 13 essential nutrients for 70 calories.

“Research shows that saturated fat may be more likely to raise a person’s blood cholesterol than dietary cholesterol,” says Neva Cochran, registered dietitian, nutrition writer and researcher for Woman’s World Magazine. “Eating a balanced breakfast with high-quality protein foods like eggs, along with other nutrient-rich foods like fruit and whole grains, is the best way to start the day. Unlike sugary foods, eggs have no simple sugars and contain no carbs, providing steady and sustained energy.”

Additionally, the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recognize eggs as a nutrient dense food and state that the consumption of one egg per day is not associated with risk of coronary heart disease or stroke in healthy adults.

And, eggs provide high-quality protein that helps build muscles and increases satiety for all-day energy, which can help maintain a healthy weight, an important factor in promoting overall health.

Incredible egg benefits

Cochran also points out that at an average of 15 cents apiece, eggs are an affordable, versatile, nutrient powerhouse that contribute to a healthy diet in many ways:

• Breakfast boosters: Research shows that eating high-quality protein foods for breakfast, like eggs, can help increase satiety, maintain long-lasting energy and improve cognitive skills like memory recall time.

• Sunshine supplement: Eggs are one of the few foods that are a naturally good source of vitamin D, meaning that one egg provides at least 10 percent of the recommended daily allowance.

Vitamin D plays an important role in calcium absorption, helping to form and maintain strong bones.

• Weight-loss companion: Research shows that eating eggs for breakfast can help overweight dieters lose more weight, lower their body mass index and shrink their waist more than eating a bagel of equal calories for breakfast.

Eggs are easy

Adding eggs to your breakfast routine can be easy, even on busy weekday mornings.

Whether you’re craving scrambled eggs, an omelet or an egg sandwich, microwaves can be an incredible time-saving tool, so you can start every day with a nutritious breakfast.

Try this quick and easy recipe next time you’re in a rush:

Egg and Cheese Breakfast Burrito


1 flour tortilla (6-inch)

1 egg

1 tablespoon shredded Mexican cheese blend

1 tablespoon salsa


1. Line 2-cup microwave-safe cereal bowl with microwave-safe paper towel. Press tortilla into bowl. Break egg into center of tortilla. Beat egg gently with a fork until blended, being careful not to tear tortilla.

2. Microwave on high 30 seconds; stir. Microwave until egg is almost set, 15 to 30 seconds longer.

3. Remove tortilla with paper towel liner from bowl to flat surface. Top egg with cheese and salsa. Fold bottom of tortilla over egg, then fold in sides.

For more information on the nutrition benefits of eggs or recipe ideas, visit  or, “Like” the Incredible Edible Egg on Facebook or follow @IncredibleEggs on Twitter.

Resolved to quit smoking? Tips for saving on smoking cessasion products

  • Written by ARA
Although smoking is often touted as an expensive habit, nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) to aid in quitting smoking can seem like an expensive purchase as well. However, the use of NRT products to quit smoking can almost triple a smoker’s chances of success.

“Your best chances for success in quitting smoking are using a medication and counseling,” says Dr. Tom Peterson, smoking cessation expert and chair of Tobacco Free Partners. “You don’t need to go at it alone just because money is tight. The first option is to consider purchasing ‘store-brand’ NRT products.”

Allegan, Mich.-based Perrigo is a pharmaceutical company that manufactures and distributes most of the over-the-counter medications, including store-brand nicotine gum and nicotine lozenges. Perrigo estimates its store-brand over-the-counter NRT products save consumers, on average, 42 percent over comparable brand name products.

To find even more savings, individuals can regularly monitor retailers’ circular flyers and websites, and retailers will often discount NRT products.

The decision to stop smoking is an important one.  Below are some tips to get started:

• Follow a support plan. Personalized plans are available at

• When the desire to smoke strikes, do something else.

• Carry things to put in your mouth, like gum or hard candy.