Fighting Fatigue

Bed time is one of my favorite times of day. Knowing that in the morning I will wake refreshed and full of energy is a comforting thought. But my life hasn’t always been this way for me. I used to have trouble going to sleep, then is was staying asleep, then I transitioned to not being able to wake with adequate energy for my day ahead. Does any of this sound like you? Maybe it does, as many people I encounter as a naturopathic doctor and consultant express some level of fatigue in their daily life. The good thing about fatigue is there are various techniques that can be utilized to support a good nights rest. These tips and techniques compose what is called “sleep hygiene”. Sleep hygiene, just like general hygiene, is a series of steps taken to ensure health and wellness to aid in good sleep and rest.

Sleep hygiene begins at the beginning of your day. I know that sounds odd as you just woke up, but getting started early will set you up for good sleep later. Upon waking do your best to get some sunlight. Whether that be opening your blinds or taking a morning walk, that morning sun will stimulate our daytime hormone cortisol. This will wake up your senses and get you started for your day. If falling asleep is your Achilles heel to a good nights rest, avoid naps. Napping can be great for a energy boost but long naps can be detrimental to your nighttime rest. If you must take a nap limit it to 20 minutes.

Two hours before bed will start off you sleep hygiene routine. To start off your routine dim the lights. As the nighttime approaches and darkness settles in this is the trigger for our sleepy time hormone melatonin to be released. So turn down the lights, turn off the tv, put down your phone, and shut your laptop. Now, if you are anything like me you probably spend a good amount of time on you technologic devices after dark. This can be detrimental to your melatonin release by our pineal gland. As the blue light from our devices hits our eyes, it is stimulating basically telling our brain that its still daylight and we need to stay awake, so there will be less of a release of melatonin. Its typically release times are around 9 p.m. and then again between 1 and 3 a.m. If we are overstimulated or ignore these releases we can end up having difficulties falling asleep and/or staying asleep. Now, I know stopping all use of technology is almost impossible for anyone living in modern times so there are other ways to reduce over stimulation. My favorite new accessory are my blue light glasses. I put these on at least 2 hours before I intend to go to sleep to block out the blue light. This allows me to get work done on my computer or watch a little TV before bed without disrupting my sleep. Also you can turn on the blue light filter on your electronic devices.

Your diet should included avoiding high carbohydrate or high sugar foods 2 hours before bed. If you must eat before bed aim for a high protein snack. The protein will raise you blood sugar enough to allow for sustained sleep. I can remember having cake before bed and waking at 2 a.m. starving. I tried everything to get back to sleep. I counted sheep, I meditated, I pray to God to bring sleep to my eyes. It wasn’t until I got the thought to feed the beast of my hunger pangs. After a small snacking on a bit of leftover turkey I fell easily asleep without waking. The protein raised my blood sugar enough to allow my body to continue functioning while I slept and the tryptophan in the meat allowed for production of serotonin and subsequent increase melatonin release to help me fall back asleep.

Other tips you can consider adding to you nighttime routine to aid in restful sleep include:

  • a warm bath with lavender essential oils or oats added for their calming effects
  • a warm cup of tea with honey
  • read a book before bed instead of watching TV
  • exercise at night about 2-4 hours before bed for a good nights rest
  • adding lavender essential oil to a pillow mist or diffuser at bedtime can be relaxing
  • herbs to consider: passionflower, lemon balm, chamomile, Valerian-> try these on a day where you dont have work the next morning to see if you wake drowsy

Bottom line create a personalized routine that you follow in order to prepare you body and mind for sleep. Consistency is key and give it at least a month of consistency to see the full benefits. If you follow these suggestion and you still have trouble falling asleep or wake fatigued or get tired during the day it may be time to speak with your doctor about other causes of your low energy levels. There are many conditions that can be ruled in or out in your individual case. So give these options a try and happy sleeping!

Hyperactivity In Childhood

Today is the first day of summer!!! Let’s rejoice and enjoy the season. With kids out of school, this year’s pandemic, and years of getting to know your children, I bet you’ve spent a lot of time with your children. Has your child ever been labeled or diagnosed with hyperactivity or ADD/ADHD? Have you ever wondered if your child may be? Do you ever wonder if there is something causing their hyperactivity or inattention or if that is just the way they are? Well the good news is that there are a wide array of factors that can contribute to hyperactivity.  

One of the first places to start is diet. There are plenty of scientific studies that attribute food sensitivities to ADD/ADHD symptoms. One of the most common is gluten. This protein found in many grains, when removed from the diet has resulted in increased focus and attention with decreased activity levels. In some children, food additives like colors and preservatives can be stimulating to the nervous system making activities that require dedicated attention hard to focus. In conjunction with food sensitivities and food additives are compounds called oxalates. Oxalates are byproducts of plant foods. If eaten in overabundance and not bound by minerals, calcium and magnesium, they are absorbed into the blood stream and precipitated into any tissue in the body. This includes the nervous system. In some people this can cause hyperactivity.

Other aspects can affect neurotransmitters levels that can lead to ADD/ADHD symptoms. In some children there is an overgrowth of bacteria. This bacteria is clostridium. When clostridium overgrows due to factors such as decreased immune function, antibiotic use, etc., it leads to an environment where dopamine increases. Dopamine in normal levels leads to stable moods, pleasure, and feeling good all around. In over abundance it can lead to anxiety, depression, bipolar symptoms, and even hyperactivity. To determine if this is happening to your child you should consider testing with the Organic Acids Test (OAT) through the Great Plains Laboratory. So if you think your child may have issues with hyperactivity it may not just be your child but in fact there may be some happening internally.

Summer Skin Protection

With the summer season starting in just one week outdoor activities are going to pick back up. In wake of the global pandemic, visiting pools and having large get-togethers may limit our time together but doesn’t have to limit our time in the sun. When spending time soaking up the sun’s glorious warming rays we must keep in mind our skin protection. With a lack of sunscreens, this leaves our delicate outer protective first line of defense layer vulnerable to damage. Not only can this lead to burns, dryness, and wrinkling of the skin but can also lead to more ominous conditions.

The most common skin condition associated with UV rays of the sun is skin cancer. Actinic keratosis, basal cell carcinoma, benign tumors, and melanoma are common disease states precipitated by excess ongoing sun exposure. The first line of defense is topical applications of sunscreen. Unfortunately conventional sunscreens have used the same ingredients that have been used since the 70’s. These ingredients are known as chemical filters and act to absorb the UV rays before they can be absorbed by your skin cells.  Common active ingredients you’ll find on store shelves include: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate, octinoxate, zinc and titanium oxide. These compounds have been shown to be absorbed in the skin and cause hormonal dysregulation. There can be a stimulation or inhibition of estrogen and androgen production. Reports of menstrual cycle irregularities have been reported as well. Zinc and titanium oxide have been reported as safer and less absorbed by the skin then the other compounds listed. Other compounds that are typically inactive ingredients have also been known to be irritants to the skin and cause hormone dysregulation. These include parabens and also phthalates which are both known reproductive toxins. In utero these can also cause harm to an unborn fetus. So in light of trying to protect the skin of your body and your family we may inadvertently find ourselves causing more harm than good.

So what are the alternatives? Well there are many natural ingredients with SPF (sun protective factor) values that can be used for skin protection:

  • Shea butter→ SPF 3-6. Also soothes and smoothes the skin
  • Red Raspberry seed oil → SPF 8-20. Full of vitamin E and A which are antioxidant and protective to the skin
  • Coconut oil/olive oil→ SPF 5-6. These oil are full of healing fatty acids that heal wounds and moisturize
  • Almond oil → SPF 5. Full of vitamin A that can help reduce acne and soothe skin conditions like eczema/psoriasis.

These natural based ingredients can be used in conjunction with traditional sunscreen or found in natural sunscreens that use the less absorbed active ingredients zinc and titanium oxide. Any natural health store or convenience store should have natural options for your sunscreen needs. 

Post sun exposure if you happen to have irritated skin or have burns, try applying some natural ingredients. Aloe vera gel has a cooling and healing effect that will soothe the burned skin. Other plants that can be soothing include calendula flowers and oats. Be sure to read all ingredients when choosing your summer skin protectant and avoid any products that you’re sensitive to. Skin protection is important for warding off skin conditions, so choose something that will be good to you and your skin. Be well, be healthy, and stay safe out there 🙂

  1. Ewg. “EWG’s 2020 Guide to Safer Sunscreens.” EWG, http://www.ewg.org/sunscreen/report/the-trouble-with-sunscreen-chemicals/#:~:text=The most common sunscreens contain,oxide and/or titanium dioxide.
  2. Maipas, Sotirios, and Polyxeni Nicolopoulou-Stamati. “Sun Lotion Chemicals as Endocrine Disruptors.” Hormones, vol. 14, no. 1, 2015, pp. 32–46., doi:10.1007/bf03401379.
  3. Montenegro, Lucia, and Ludovica Santagati. “Use of Vegetable Oils to Improve the Sun Protection Factor of Sunscreen Formulations.” Cosmetics, vol. 6, no. 2, Aug. 2019, p. 25., doi:10.3390/cosmetics6020025.
  4. Renzy-Martin, Katrine Tefre De, et al. “Current Exposure of 200 Pregnant Danish Women to Phthalates, Parabens and Phenols.” Reproduction, vol. 147, no. 4, 2014, pp. 443–453., doi:10.1530/rep-13-0461.

Allow Me to Introduce Myself

Hello world! Welcome to my blog. If you don’t know who I am, please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Dr. Jasmyne Brown. I’ve decided to begin a blog that aims to bring the mysteries of the body and natural health techniques to light for health care professionals and patients alike. I’m kind of a mixed bag. There are a lot of subjects and topics I’m into so be prepared for a wide variety of information. My favorite subjects to talk about are women’s health, pediatrics, dermatology, and men’s health. I’m also open to suggestions about conditions and health topics you want to learn more about.

My background is in chemistry. I graduated from Alabama A&M University with my bachelor’s, then went on to graduate from the University of Bridgeport College of Naturopathic Medicine and the School of nutrition. My favorite subject in undergraduate and graduate school was biochemistry so I’m a lover of science. Because the body’s so complex and I strive to understand these complexities, it’s my goal to share with you what happens in our body when they’re functioning properly. This will help us better understand when there is dysfunction.

Currently I work with a functional medicine lab called The Great Plains Laboratory as a consultant. It is my pleasure to shed light on the various complexities of one of the most comprehensive lab test for practitioners and their clients. My goal is to shed some light on the results and solutions as they pertain to to clinical picture at hand. I also work as a personal trainer as I am a ACE certified personal trainer. I love helping others reach their fitness goals and guiding them to levels of fitness they never thought they would reach.

On a more personal note, my hobbies include cooking, eating, spending time with my amazing family and friends, traveling, binge watching The Office, exercise plus almost any physically inclined activity, and I’m still exploring new areas of life that I never knew I would enjoy. At the center of my life is God. Without Him I wouldn’t be who I am today or even have this will to begin the journey of natural health. I hope to share with you what I know and I continue to learn. I want to be a health and wellness resource for you as you embark on your own journey to wellness.

Herbal Home Hacks: Ginger!

As the summertime comes to a close and autumn pokes her head out of the clouds, cold season also peaks its nose around the corner. In this time of sweaters, scarves, boots, and all that is pumpkin spice we mustn’t forget the impact this time of year can have on our health. The common cold has a way of plaguing many people. But this year we’ll be ready.

A common herb used in cooking and in health is ginger. It is a beautiful tuberous root with an aromatic scent when cut, boiled, or cooked. Its flavor is strong yet subtle and compliments many dishes. This plant when in bloom has a beautiful flower that when viewed you may never know that it is the ginger plant as we know it.

Ginger is an herb full of medicinal properties. For cold season ginger can be used for its antioxidant and antibacterial effect. These qualities will aid in the elimination of the “bugs” causing many colds. Ginger also acts as an anti-inflammatory herb. This will reduce the symptoms induced by inflammatory factors that cause sore throats and coughs. Ginger can be used as a tea with lemon and honey or as a lozenge to soothe your throat and relieve congestion.

Other uses for ginger include any type of inflammatory condition such as arthritis, menstrual cramps, headaches, etc. In the instance of headaches ginger should be used as a tea to soothe the discomfort. Ginger has activity against important processes in the body that cause inflammation and thus pain. When consumed ginger is allowed to neutralize these type of conditions. Another method of benefiting from gingers healing nature include topical application through the use of carrier oil like olive or coconut oils. Applying this oil to aching joints or a cramping abdomen will help relieve pain. The great thing about it is it can all be done from the comfort of your own home!

Individuals who suffer from GERD, acid reflux, gastritis,  or duodenal ulcers should consult a doctor before using ginger. Ginger stimulates digestion adding in proper breakdown of food, but in these individuals it can worsen their symptoms.

The next time you feel a cold coming on or just want to a bit of spice to your life slice a piece of ginger and enjoy yourself. #eatwellbehealthy #getyousome