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Sunday, February 10, 2013

A Reader Asks: Tips to Lower Cholesterol Naturally?

A Reader Asks: Tips to Lower Cholesterol Naturally?

Hey y'all!

This week a reader messaged me on the new Bluebonnet Natural Healing Therapy Facebook page, asking the following question:

Any suggestions for naturally lowering high cholesterol? It is hereditary - even on a plant 
based diet it is high. And I can't take statins - I've tried several and I feel like I've been poisoned when I take them. Just curious if you have any suggestions. Thanks!!!

I do have suggestions!

First, I want y'all to watch the video I created just for this reader. I talk about several 

diets/food plans to try which may help to lower cholesterol naturally. This reader is already 

on a plant based diet, which means she is a vegan and does not eat animal products such as 

meat, eggs, animal fat such as bacon, dairy products, or butter. For many people, that is all 

that is needed- simply lower the amount of animal fat and raise the amount of fruits and 

vegetables in the diet.

I'll talk about vegans with high cholesterol below.

Is high cholesterol genetic?

She says the high cholesterol problem is hereditary. It runs in the family. As I mentioned in 

my video, above, I want y'all to watch this short video by Dr. Dean Ornish, M.D., one of the 

excellent medical doctors who "get it." He explains current research in genetics, and states 

that "genes are not your fate."

So even though there may be a family history or a genetic predisposition for high cholesterol, that does not mean this reader is stuck with these genes or that she is just doomed to have high cholesterol levels.

What is cholesterol?

Now I want to teach all of my readers what cholesterol actually is. We hear the word thrown around all the time, but many of us do not really know what cholesterol is or how it is "good" or "bad."

Cholesterol is fat. Some of it is good cholesterol- the kind our livers make and we need to assist in digestion, help absorb fat soluble vitamins, and manufacture hormones. Other cholesterol is found in processed foods and animal products such as meat, fish, milk, cheese, ice cream, and eggs.

That's it! It's not the only kind of fat in the body, but it's the fat, or lipid, referred to the most in modern medicine. It looks like this:

  Cholesterol stones- image by

When cholesterol builds up in the walls of blood vessels, it looks like this:

This is athereosclerosis- hardening of the arteries and veins. The blood vessels become hardened with cholesterol (fat). It's basically the same grease we remove from meat when cooking- image by

A lot of people do not realize that when the blood vessels are full of fat (cholesterol) like this, the rest of the organs and tissues in the body are, too. Compare these images of a healthy v. fatty liver:

Note the fat (cholesterol) cells under the microscope and the size and color differences in the fatty liver- image by Mayo

Here's a short video of an open heart surgery showing a man's heart which is covered in fat:

Here's an excellent slideshow by describing what your blood serum cholesterol level numbers mean, and how to get yours lower.

How to lower cholesterol naturally

So now that we have a better understanding of what cholesterol actually is, and that our genes and family history do not dictate that we will experience the same poor health as our forefathers and mothers, how can we lower cholesterol naturally? Here are a number of tips:
  • Regardless of whether we are obese, thin, or somewhere in between, we all *must* adopt a healthy food program (most of us do not like the word "diet") which will help nourish our bodies and remove unwanted fat (cholesterol) and other toxins. My video details the ones I prefer. Keep going until you have achieved the health and energy you desire. Usually this takes several years.
  • Start drinking green smoothies and freshly squeezed or juicer-juiced fruit and vegetable juices, herbal teas, and pure water. Quit drinking everything else. For any of my readers who are clinically obese, this is better and more nutritious than any Slim Fast type liquid weight loss shake you could have. It tastes a lot better and fills you up, too.
  • Start taking the hottest cayenne powder or tincture you can find. Cayenne stimulates the blood flow like nothing else, which will deliver fresh nutrients and oxygen to ever part of the body and help to remove toxins more quickly. Start with a pinch in hot fresh lemon water and build up to a tablespoon per day.
  • Go 100% raw vegan or as close to it as possible. I highly recommend Megan Elizabeth's Easy to Be Raw recipe books and Eric Rivkin's To Live For raw gourmet recipe book.
  • If you are within 50 pounds of your ideal weight, and do not think you could eat a 100% raw vegan diet, consider either a high raw vegan diet which includes some cooked foods such as beans, brown rice, and baked sweet potatoes or even veggie burgers and Amy's brand food products OR, if you eat meat, the Whole 9 Paleo diet. If you do eat meat and other animal products, I gently ask that you do so consciously.
  • Have fun moving your body! Isn't that a better phrase than "exercise?" Push yourself while having fun for an hour every day.
  • Once you hit that "final 50 pounds" mark, start doing the herbal cleanses I recommend here on Bluebonnet Natural Healing Therapy. I will teach you how to make your own herbal remedies in order to empower you and save you some money. Hopefully I will make and sell these, myself, in the near future. These herbs will really help you clean out your colon, liver, kidneys, and cardiovascular system.
  • While the American Medical Association lists 200mg/dL as the highest healthy "normal" level of total blood cholesterol, striving for 150mg/dL or lower is a much, much healthier and safer number. To do this while eating animal products, one must stay at or under the recommended 3oz or "deck of cards" serving of met per day. This is not anywhere near the "fill the entire platter with meat" custom of many restaurants and their patrons.
  • Strive for a greater than 60mg/dL of "healthy and happy" HDL cholesterol, and if you can, strive for a lower than 70mg/dL of "get it lower" LDL cholesterol, the cholesterol most people call "bad" cholesterol. In reality, this cholesterol is not "bad" until the number gets out of control. There is also VLDL cholesterol, which is talked about less often. It is also considered a "bad" cholesterol.
  • Eat lots of raw, uncooked garlic- three cloves a day, chopped and either eaten by itself or in your salad.
  • De-stress however you can. I take long, hot baths with Epsom salts, plan to practice yoga every day, journal to release pent up frustrations, watch funny movies and videos, allow the time I need for projects, and try not to take life so seriously. Go get a massage, walk in the park, play with your kids, hoop and holler at football games, whack some golf balls at the driving range, or whatever you need to do to unwind. Release people from your life who are unkind or unloving to you, or are huge complainers and "drama queens." Keep your spirit uplifted.
One other thought: HOORAY to this reader for not taking statin drugs! She is absolutely right in believing these are poisons. Doctors give these drugs to people who do not want to change their diets or lifestyles, and would rather take risky drugs than give up their daily "heart stopper" triple meat hamburgers with a side of fried cheese sticks and a Big Gulp.

Y'all, you really can lower your cholesterol levels naturally by taking these action steps. Change your diet, cleanse your body, exercise in fun ways, find ways to reduce stress, and love yourself always.

Happy Valentine's Day!

P.S. Like Bluebonnet Natural Healing Therapy on Facebook to be entered into a drawing for a free capsule maker from Mountain Rose Herbs!

P.S.S.: Got a question for Bluebonnet? Ask away! Here, on Facebook, or on YouTube!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

How to Do a Liver Flush

How to Do a Liver Flush

Hey y'all! Today I am going to teach you how to do a liver flush!

Recipe for a liver flush drink posted below- image by

A couple of weeks ago I posted an article on liver function. You may want to review that article before moving on to this one, just to refresh your memory on what the liver actually does (answer: a lot!).

Because the liver is vital, and can actually keep us alive with only 10-25% of it functioning, it is essential that we keep our livers in optimal condition. 

How to do a liver flush

The first step in keeping the liver clean and functioning well is to perform seasonal liver flushes. If you have a chronic or "incurable" condition, you may elect to do one of these every two weeks, alternating with kidney and bladder flushes.

Caution: Be sure your bowels are moving regularly before you attempt to do a liver flush. If you are in any way constipated, the toxins you will remove from your liver and gallbladder during a liver flush will make you feel very ill. Follow these links for instructions on how to do a colon detox before you attempt to cleanse your liver:

How to Do a Colon Cleanse: Step One

How to Make Your Own Colon Cleanse Recipe

How to Do a Colon Cleanse Step Two

What liver flushes do

The basic premise for doing liver flushes is to remove small gallstones from the gallbladder. While some medical doctors state that gall stones can never leave the gallbladder, the clinical science is there to support the fact that some gall stones do leave the gallbladder and are eliminated through the gastrointestinal tract. 

The location of the liver and gallbladder in the human body- image by ADAM Medical Dictionary

Gall stones and bile stones are the same thing, just located in different places in the body. They are not made of "rocks," but rather are a collection of cholesterol buildup and possibly calcification over time. 

Gallstones revealed in an ultrasound image- image by

Gallstones in a surgically removed gallbladder- image by Urology Laparoscopy

At greatest risk for gall stones are obese females over the age of fifty with high blood serum cholesterol levels who take (or took) birth control pills. Rapid weight loss is another risk factor.

Gall stones can slip into the bile duct, causing a blockage and disease. If this happens, the flow of bile is obstructed, and there is nowhere for the bile to go but "up." This can cause jaundice, since bilirubin from the bile is reabsorbed back into the bloodstream. The entire biliary tree can become infected, or potentially fatal acute pancriatitis can set in.

10-20% of humans have gall stones, according to Virtual Medical Of people with gall stones, 10-15% experience gall stones slipping into the bile duct.

Here is an excellent article by the British Journal of Medicine on gall stones and cholecystitis, commonly referred to as "gallbladder attacks."

What liver flushes do not do

The controversy surrounding liver flushes are mostly due to photos such as this one:

These globs of olive oil found in a person's stool sample after drinking a liver flush drink the night before have been incorrectly identified as "liver stones." -image by

I have done several liver flushes myself, and once believed that the large "stones" I saw were from the gallbladder. They are not. However, I do believe that the gallbladder does release small gall stones into the bile duct and on into the intestines, and liver flushes can assist in this process.

My favorite liver flush recipe

There are several liver flush recipes out there. My favorite one is Dr. Richard Schulze's, because it is mild and contains no potentially unsafe ingredients. It is explained in the video at this link (seen best with Firefox).

This is the liver flush recipe, as described in Dr. Schulze's own Patient Handbook:

Drink a glass of purified water immediately upon rising, as I (Donna) have recommended previously.

Within 1 hour [of rising- ed.] prepare for the following Morning Drink

Morning Drink (Liver & Gallbladder Flush ) (Mix in a Blender) 

(in Spring and Summer ) 8 ounces of fresh orange juice or a citrus juice combination 
(1 lemon or 1 lime and enough orange, grapefruit or tangerine to make 8 ounces) or 

(in Fall and Winter ) 8 ounces of fresh apple and/or grape juice
  • 8 ounces of Distilled Water
  • 1-5 clove(s) of garlic (start with one and increase daily)
  • 1-5 tablespoon(s) of organic virgin cold-pressed olive oil (start with one and increase daily )
  • 1 small piece of fresh Ginger Root (about 1 inch long)
This actually tastes pretty good. Right now, grapefruits are in season and I am enjoying those. Three large grapefruit make about 12 oz. juice. I prefer this amount to the recommended 8 oz juice and 8 oz water in the recipe, because I teach school and am not allowed to leave the classroom to go to the restroom until my lunch break at noon. In my case, it might be a good idea to start the five day flush on a Wednesday and go through Sunday, so I could have two days where I was able to do this "right."

I recommend sipping this drink rather than "chugging" it. Some people have a difficult time  drinking the olive oil and may experience some nausea. If this is the case, I recommend you add more ginger juice. Ginger is fantastic for nausea, as I outline in this Natural article.

Have you ever done a liver flush before?
P.S.: Don't forget about the contest I am hosting on Facebook! Like Bluebonnet Natural Healing Therapy on Facebook for a chance to win a free herb capsule maker from Mountain Rose Herbs!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Bluebonnet Natural Healing Therapy is on Facebook!

Bluebonnet Natural Healing Therapy is on Facebook!

Bluebonnet Natural Healing Therapy is now on Facebook! To celebrate, we are having our first giveaway contest! All you have to do is like Bluebonnet Natural Healing Therapy on Facebook (here's a link) and you'll be automatically entered to win a cool little capsule maker from Mountain Rose Herbs!

Here's a video explaining everything (with my goofy face):

And here is a little video showing off the capsule maker from Mountain Rose Herbs:


Thank you dear readers, for your continued support. I cherish you all.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

I Quit Coffee!

I Quit Coffee!

Hey y'all! Get ready for another Bluebonnet Natural Healing Therapy info bomb! This one is on the benefits of quitting caffeine, getting off coffee, breaking the coffee addiction, any other way you want to quit drinking coffee! I did it, and so can you! On to the good stuff...

As promised, I want to share with you a bundle of information on coffee and caffeine in general, for those who are addicted to Cokes as I once was (Dr. Pepper in my case- I still like it) and energy drinks (oh boy!).

First, some amazing graphics, which are health lectures in themselves:

Image courtesy of

Consumer Reports states that an 8 oz. cup of coffee has roughly 100mg caffeine in it. However, this depends on how the coffee is brewed. Consumer Reports measured 8 oz. Starbucks coffee and discovered their brews average 165mg caffeine.

Now consider that many of us own coffee cups that hold 12 or even 16oz. coffee at once. We call that a "cup of coffee," and we may be drinking two mugs of coffee every morning. I did. So if I had two 12 oz. mugs of coffee every morning with a semi-strong brew, I was most likely ingesting 375mg caffeine in the morning alone. 

I never got a small coffee at Starbucks. The 8 oz. "short" cup at Starbucks has to be ordered by name. Starbucks doesn't even list "short" on the menu. If you want a small coffee off the Starbucks menu, you will get their medium size, a "tall," which is 12 oz. So a tall Starbucks brew delivers closer to 250mg caffeine per "cup."

Consumer Reports sets 400mg as the safe adult limit for caffeine consumption. For pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, it's 200mg, and for children , it's 45-85mg, depending on the weight of the child.

What happens when a person overdoses on caffeine? 

Image by wiki

If you ever experience any of these symptoms, think about how much coffee, black tea, Cokes, and energy drinks you have been consuming.

Even though this post is about breaking a coffee addiction, you may want to inform yourself about the hazards of energy drinks.

Caffeine's effect on mental disorders

In 2010, the Journal of Alzeimer's Disease published an interesting study which questioned the effects of caffeine on people with and without mental disorders. While the benefits of mild caffeine consumption  are scientifically documented to include increased alertness, mood elevation, longer attention spans, and better cognitive function, an overdose of caffeine can induce both psychotic and manic symptoms. In addition, higher doses of caffeine can cause anxiety and panic attacks. patients with panic disorder and social anxiety disorder (SAD) are quite sensitive to the effects of caffeine.

Cambridge University strongly suggests that people with anxiety disorders abstain from coffee.

Let me offer you some scientific facts on coffee and caffeine.

  • Caffeine in small, intermittent amounts acts as a pain reliever. However, consuming caffeine/coffee regularly can cause what Current Pain and Headache Reports calls daily "analgesic-overuse" headaches. It also causes a physical dependency, because caffeine is a drug. When people quit coffee and caffeine, the experience withdrawal symptoms with headaches being the dominant symptom. Caffeine, in the doses most people consume acts as a potent nervous system blocker for adenosine receptors. This translates to rapid heart rhythm (tachycardia), decreased dopamine levels (a pleasure or reward-seeking neurotransmitter), increases in Parkinson's disease- like symptoms, an increase in ADHD symptoms, and restless leg syndrome.
  • Caffeine does improve sports performance, but not very significantly, according to several studies, including the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism.
  • While coffee consumption is linked to a lower risk if certain kinds of cancer,  drinking too much coffee increases the risk for bladder cancer, especially in men.
  • As far as dehydration goes, coffee is dehydrating if a person does not drink it daily However, medical science has proven that coffee is no more dehydrating than water in habitual coffee drinkers.
  • Medline Plus offers an informative list of symptoms of caffeine overdose. Interestingly, the website calls caffeine a "medication," and lists the emergency contact number for Poison Control.
  • While it is virtually impossible to drink enough coffee to acquire a lethal dose of caffeine, patients who are on prescription SSRI antidepressants such as Luvox or fluoroquinolone antibiotics such as Levaquin or Tavanic are at risk of feeling the effects of caffeine at five times normal levels, according to Forensic Science International and other resources.
  • There is a link between caffeine consumption and osteoporosis, but not to the extent that some might believe, according to American Family Physician. Vitamin D and calcium therapy (natural, of course) counters the effects of caffeine on bone tissue.

"Caffeinism" and the road to adrenal exhaustion

"Caffeinism" is a term coined by Stephen Cherniske in his book, Caffeine Blues. Cherniske explains how caffeine is a drug which causes neurons in your brain to begin firing, which triggers your pituitary gland to secrete the hormone which causes your adrenal glands to produce adrenalin. Adrenalin is the source of the "fight or flight response." Once the adrenalin high wears off, you feel exhausted, irritable, confused, and you get a headache. The more coffee sodas, or energy drinks you consume the more you keep your body in a constant state of unnecessary stress. It's like being on call for a fire emergency as a fireman or a soldier ready to be called to front line duty.

You can actually burn out your adrenal glands doing this. This is why people drink pots of coffee and six packs of sodas every day. Because caffeine is a physically addicting drug, it takes more and more caffeine for them to feel the stimulation they used to feel when they first started drinking coffee. Eventually, to be without this drug for even a small amount of time causes withdrawal symptoms. 

How to quit coffee naturally

I quit coffee cold turkey. I just said, "I'm quitting now," and I have not had a drop since. I drank copious amounts of distilled water for a couple of days, either plain or in an organic herbal tea which did not contain any caffeine at all.

The first day was the roughest. I noticed a slight headache, but my primary symptom was fatigue. I fell asleep at my computer multiple times, and finally took an hour-long nap. I went to bed early, sleeping for nine hours.

My bowel elimination schedule was off, since coffee stimulates bowel activity. It took a few days to get back on a regular schedule.

On the second day,  I felt much better, but I became irritable over minor issues. I told my family I was getting of coffee, and asked them to forgive me when I got crabby.

On the third day, all physical symptoms were gone. I just felt an ill-defined sense of loss or lack of fulfillment, like a flat Coke. It felt strange to let go of something that has been a part of my signature for decades.

By the fourth day, I really did not miss coffee. I did notice an increase in appetite, especially in the morning when I woke up. Since this is a normal neurotransmitter response, I knew this was a good thing. I also knew I would most likely need to either increase my plant fiber intake or take an herbal supplement to retrain my intestines in how to function properly without coffee. I also think I will do a really good kidney cleanse a few times to get the residual coffee out of my kidneys and bladder.

Other ways to get off coffee naturally

  • Kola nut- if you prefer to wean slowly off caffeine, kola nut contains some caffeine but is not addictive the way coffee is
  • Cayenne- stimulates the cardiovascular system in healthy ways
  • Ashwangandha- the primary herb for restoring adrenal function
  • St. John's Wort- the famous herbal antidepressant may help to keep your mood elevated until your body restores its own brain chemicals
I would love to hear your own stories about coming off coffee! Please leave any helpful comments below!

P.S.: Bluebonnet Natural Healing Therapy is now on Facebook! Be sure to like us!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

What is the Function of the Liver?

What is the Function of the Liver?

Hey y'all!

Let's just dig right into the good stuff, and begin learning how our bodies' organs work and how to care for each one! I have talked about colon health and how to perform a great herbal colon cleanse here and here.Today I want to begin a series on liver health, beginning with the answer to a question many people have. What is the function of the liver?

First, let's look at some images of the liver, and note where the liver s located in the human body.

A sheep's liver. Indexed numerically, we see: 1) the right lobe, 2) the left lobe, 3) the caudate lobe, 4) the quadrate lobe, 5) the hepatic artery and portal vein, 6) the hepatic lymph nodes, and 7) the gall bladder- image by wiki

In the human body the liver is located on the right side, right under the right breast. It is parallel to the stomach and spleen in the upper abdomen.

Location of the liver in humans- image by Functions of the

The liver has many functions, including the synthesis (creation) of protein, detoxification, creating chemicals for digestion, storing glycogen, producing hormones, and decomposing red blood cells. The liver also helps to build and break down small molecules, and helps in the digestive process by producing bile which alkalizes acids. Bile also helps to emulsify fats and absorb vitamin K. The liver is believed to carry out over 500 different functions. Many diseases are associated with some form of malfunction in the liver.

The liver plays a role in the following biological functions:
  • Amino acid synthesis
  • Glucose genesis, known as gluconeogenesis
  • Breaking glycogen down into glucose, called glycogenolysis
  • Turning glucose into glycogen, known as glycogenesis
  • Metabolizing protein
  • Producing fats (lipids), including cholesterol
  • Produces the factors which cause blood to clot (coagulate)
  • Produces red blood cells in unborn babies until the bone marrow is mature enough to take over the task
  • Produces growth hormones
  • Regulates the bone marrow's production of blood platelets
  • Breaks down insulin
  • Changes ammonia (NH3) into urea
  • Breaks down toxins, including drugs, and moves them to the kidneys or bile to be eliminated
  • Stores a number of vitamins and minerals
  • Plays a major role in immune system support
  • Stabilizes blood pressure
Can you think of other functions of the liver? Please comment below.

The liver is capable of regenerating itself. With even as little as 1/4 of a liver, a whole one can be grown again.

Click on the link to enjoy an interactive site provided by Toronto General Hospital Department of Anesthesia depicting a virtual liver.

With so many important functions of the liver, can you see why it is important to maintain excellent liver health? Next week I will describe how to do this naturally.