Eliminating the Top Causes of Insomnia: Neurotransmitter Deficiency and Cortisol Excess

Eliminating the Top Causes of Insomnia: Neurotransmitter Deficiency and Cortisol Excess


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Eliminating the Top Causes of Insomnia: Neurotransmitter Deficiency and Cortisol Excess

A guest post by Julia Ross on uncovering the top causes of insomnia and how to best eliminate them.

With over 25 years of experience as the director of a holistic clinic in the San Francisco Bay Area, our clinic has provided nutritional therapy to over two thousand insomniacs. The careful identification and targeted recommendations of the underlying causes of each sleep disorder have led to successful outcomes in almost every case. At least half of our sleepless clients have responded quickly and well to neurotransmitter precursors such as GABA, tryptophan, and/or melatonin. Others have required very specific cortisol-lowering regimens instead or in addition. These latter cases have tended to involve more severe sleep disturbances and, often, the use of highly addictive benzodiazepines, the only class of pharmaceutical in current use capable of temporarily suppressing cortisol levels.



A detailed sleep function assessment has been crucial for determining the course of successful therapy:

  • How long have you had a sleep problem?
  • Did it begin during or after a particularly stressful time?
  • Does insomnia run in your family?
  • What time do you get to sleep?
  • How long does it take to fall asleep? How long do you sleep?
  • How often do you wake up in the night? For how long?
  • Do you need to take benzodiazepines such as Xanax, Ativan, or Klonopin to sleep? Or marijuana? Or alcohol? Or carbs?
  • Do you have many of the symptoms of any of the following three types of insomnia?



This is the most common cause of insomnia in our experience: When levels of the extraordinary antidepressant neurotransmitter, serotonin, are subnormal, there is typically an inadequate surplus to use for conversion to melatonin. What results is a difficulty falling asleep (night owl syndrome) more commonly than one of staying asleep (though either or both may be present.) Either way, worries and obsessive thoughts make wakefulness unpleasant. This syndrome is often genetic and longstanding (though the severity may have increased over time.)

The following is a list of the common symptoms of serotonin deficiency, which helps us rule this syndrome in or out as a cause of the particular insomnia being endured. We ask that it be filled out using a severity scale from 1 to 10.

  • night-owl, hard to get to sleep
  • disturbed sleep, premature awakening
  • negativity, depression
  • worry, anxiety
  • low self-esteem
  • obsessive thoughts or behaviors
  • hyperactivity/tics
  • perfectionism, controlling behavior
  • winter blues
  • irritability, rage (e.g. PMS)
  • dislike hot weather
  • panic attacks; phobias (fear of heights, small spaces, snakes, etc)
  • fibromyalgia, TMJ, migraine
  • afternoon or evening cravings for carbs, alcohol, or pot

Note: The frequent use of benzos is not part of this syndrome. 

Regarding Serotonin Testing: Blood platelet testing for serotonin levels is superior to any but cerebrospinal fluid testing and almost as hard to find. Blood plasma testing gives a rougher idea of actual levels. Research and practice have convinced us that urinary neurotransmitter testing is very unreliable. (See my article on this subject originally published in the TL 10/06 and posted on my website. We like salivary melatonin testing.



Tryptophan (500 – 2000 mg for adults– less with children), taken when insomnia occurs, e.g., at bedtime and/or in the night, is the first recommendation of choice. 5HTP raises cortisol (should hypercortisolism also be an issue) so we avoid it in serious insomnia cases (otherwise nightmares or other sleep deterioration can result.) If tryptophan does not do the whole job, we add melatonin (.5 – 5 mg) as an immediate-release supplement for bedtime-only insomnia, or in a delayed-release form for later-in-the-night awakenings.

Regarding dosing: We start with the lowest dose and have our clients go up as needed. Children under 14 start with a small amount from an opened capsule, mixed with mashed fruit or any other palatable protein-free food. The younger and more sensitive the child, the less provided.



Gamma aminobutyric acid is the brain’s primary inhibitory (i.e., calming) neurotransmitter. It neutralizes adrenaline as a primary function. A GABA deficiency can accompany a serotonin/melatonin deficiency, or cause sleep problems on its own. Here, muscle tension and other symptoms of overstress interfere with sleep. The following is a list of common symptoms of GABA deficiency which, again, helps us to determine if this syndrome is a significant factor in a particular case of insomnia: overstressed, burned out, unable to relax/loosen up, stiff or tense muscles, often feel overwhelmed, may experience panic attacks, when resorting to sleep meds respond best to the benzodiazepines.

Regarding GABA Testing: We are not satisfied with any lab testing for levels of this neurotransmitter. (GABA is not found in the platelets.)



100-500 mg of GABA taken whenever sleep is a problem can be very helpful along with, or instead of, tryptophan/melatonin.

Note: Neuroscience and Senesco make the signature error of while recommending that levels of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA be enhanced, not recommending GABA supplementation itself. GABA is wildly effective (at 100-500 mg, at bedtime and/or later in the night on awakening) for all over-stressed states, including many cases of insomnia. We do avoid GABA 750 mg, as a reverse syndrome (e.g., anxiety) may develop at such high doses. In the few non-responders to GABA, l-theanine often provides a very similar calming effect.



Excessive stress always raises our levels of the stress-coping giant, cortisol, the chief of our stress-response team (which also includes adrenaline and endorphin.) Chronic stress can lead to a permanent hyper-cortisol state—even long after the precipitating events have resolved. When this disturbance occurs at night, when cortisol levels should be at their lowest, the quality of insomnia is typically an alert “ready to get to work” one or an agitated and hyper-vigilant, or even a startled or shocked sensations on sudden nocturnal awakening.

Because chronically elevated cortisol suppresses serotonin and exhausts GABA, the worried Type One and tense Type Two Insomnia conditions are a regular, but minor, feature here.



We start by providing rich, basic adrenal support using high dose multi-vitamins, multi-minerals, and extra vitamin C to support a blood-sugar stabilizing diet of at least 3 meals, each including 20-25 grams of protein, adequate fat, and no sugar or other refined carbs. We typically suggest 1000-1500 mg of glutamine between meals to support blood sugar stability. If compliance is a problem, we refer clients to the questionnaire from my book The Diet Cure, to identify whether persistent carbohydrate cravings may be due to neurotransmitter deficits, chronic under- eating/dieting, food allergy, yeast overgrowth, or sex hormone dysregulation.

Providing nutrient supplements that specifically lower cortisol: Perhaps 15% of cases of chronically elevated nocturnal cortisol respond well to GABA and/or tryptophan or melatonin. The rest require the nutrients I’ll mention next.

Cortisol-lowering Herbs: Holy Basil can be helpful, as can reishi and magnolia bark. Acupuncture and/or Chinese herbs for kidney/adrenal treatment should always be considered, especially when cortisol is elevated during the day as well as at night.

Avoid supplementation with stimulating, cortisol-elevating nutrients: For example, insomnia caused by high cortisol is not eliminated, but, rather, exacerbated by the use of the stimulating amino acid, l-tyrosine (l-tyrosine converts to noradrenaline and adrenaline.) If indicated by the noradrenaline deficiency symptoms of fatigue or poor concentration, we might recommend tyrosine in the AM only. Typically we forgo such treatment until after cortisol levels are lowered, and often find that the resulting improved sleep alone restores energy and focus.

The “adaptogenic” herbal mixtures recommended by many practitioners typically contain ashwagandha and licorice, which elevate cortisol. Ashwagandha has proven to be energizing (and licorice certainly is.) We have found these herbs, even when combined with more calming herbs, to be too stimulating for many of our already hyper and sleepless high-cortisol clients. (We like them for clients who need help raising low cortisol levels, but we prefer Isocort.)

Other Cortisol-Normalizing Considerations: Stress reduction/management needs, the use of caffeine, alcohol, and other cortisol-elevating drugs, as well as excessive dieting or exercise (which also elevates cortisol, may need to be evaluated and addressed.

Where benzodiazepines have been used as regular sleep aids and addiction has resulted, a gradual taper, supported by all of the above nutrients, as needed, guided by the Ashton Manual may be required. IVs emphasizing vitamin C (15-25 grams) and taurine are helpful on taper days to reduce or eliminate withdrawal symptoms. (IV-administered GABA sometimes has adverse effects, but taurine strongly and benignly supports GABA function in the brain.)



With the proper use of the right testing and nutritional tools, stubborn insomnia caused by neurotransmitter deficiency and/or chronically elevated cortisol can be cured very quickly as our clinic has seen in literally thousands of cases.


This post originally appeared in the Spring 2011 edition of The Nutritional Therapist.



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During this call, you’ll explore and learn:

  • How to create a rewarding career in holistic nutrition that will give you the confidence and competence to replace your full-time income (whether you’re new to nutrition or or using it to enhance your current services)
  • How our unmatched education and instructor support sets our NTP program apart from other nutrition programs​​​​​​​
  • How graduates are successfully using their education and the many career opportunities available to you
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Heavy Metals: Natural Elimination from the Human Body

Heavy Metals: Natural Elimination from the Human Body


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Heavy Metals: Natural Elimination from the Human Body

Guest post by NTA Lead Instructor, Meredith Kinsel-Ziter, NTP, BCH

We hear more and more about the health effects of heavy metal toxicities in wellness circles – and increasingly – even on our evening news!  We are surrounded by heavy metals in our homes, our workplaces, our oceans, and even our gardens.  But, what are these “heavy metals” anyway?

“Heavy metals” are naturally occurring elements found somewhere in our universe, possibly on our planet, and maybe even in our bodies!  They can all be seen on the periodic table of the elements (remember that from chemistry class?) hanging around with other elements – some important in human biology and some, not so much.  They are arranged on this chart in order of various electrical and magnetic properties.  Some elements are very similar and are grouped together, while others look nothing alike.

To understand the impact of heavy metal toxicities on our health and how to approach their elimination foundationally, let’s explore the following questions:

  • Why do metals even accumulate in the first place?
  • How do our bodies naturally eliminate heavy metals?



Our bodies need a number of elements found on that crazy periodic table to make things work properly and, ultimately, to keep us alive!  These nutrients are used as building blocks (like calcium in bones), cofactors (like zinc for stomach acid production or chromium for blood sugar regulation), and many other important processes.  In fact, these functions and nutrient minerals are so important that the body creates special “seats” (called receptors) with electromagnetic “nametags” for specific minerals in a location where they are needed – like a seat of honor at a fancy dinner party.  It’s pretty amazing stuff.

So, what happens if the guest of honor doesn’t show up to the dinner party – if those seats can’t be filled with the right mineral because the diet is deficient in that mineral or the digestive tract isn’t absorbing it properly?  Well, the body does what any impatient shopper would do.  It grabs the thing that looks the most similar.  When it decides to plop this look-alike element down in the empty seat, it binds strongly and won’t move (due to the strong electromagnetic pull).

I often describe it as a game of musical chairs gone awry.  These heavy metals sit down in the empty spots, cross their arms, and refuse to get back up!  While they do technically fill the seat, they were never the right match for the job so they won’t allow the “game” (or the biological process of the body) to move forward.  The more of these receptor “seats” are filled with obstinate heavy metals, the more our metabolic processes will slow.  In an unfortunate plot twist, however, our body perceives that it is actually sufficient in the needed nutrient mineral because the “seats” are filled.  So much so, in fact, that it may actually eliminate the “good guy ” mineral if it comes in – creating an even greater deficiency!



Our bodies have amazingly complex systems in place to metabolize and eliminate heavy metals, once they enter our bodies.  This mostly involves three different mechanisms:

  • Glutathione –  A sulfur-containing protein produced within almost all cells of our body, with metal-binding and antioxidant properties.  Its production requires numerous B vitamins in addition to protein and sulfur.  Proper function in the body also requires adequate selenium.
  • Metallothioneins – A family of sulfur-containing, metal-binding proteins produced within most cells of the body.  In humans, the production of these proteins can be “turned on” by the presence of heavy metals in our bodies.  They also have natural seasonal production variations and are heavily reliant on nutritional status, also requiring adequate dietary protein and sulfur.
  • Porphyrins – A family of non-sulfur containing molecules with metal-binding capabilities.  Some readers may be familiar with these via conditions known medically as either porphyria or pyroluria.  Heme (found in red blood cells) is the most well-known human porphyrin.  Some types of porphyrins are produced within almost all cells of the body, while other types are produced only in the liver and bone marrow.  Plants also produce porphyrins, found in their chlorophyll!  The production of these substances can also be “turned on” by the presence of heavy metals in our bodies.



Because our bodies have been exposed to heavy metals since the beginning of our time on earth, they have developed numerous mechanisms to keep these minerals/metals in check.  The regulatory systems described above work together to bind and remove heavy metals, to allow space for the real, needed ones.  Some of them work to pull heavy metals from inside of cells, while some transport those heavy metals through the blood and some shuttle them through the liver, gallbladder, kidneys, and out into the intestines or urine for excretion.



Once in the intestines, the health of the gut lining is extremely important so that the metals don’t leak back through, into the bloodstream.  The binding (or “chelating”) power of plants, nuts, and seeds shines at this stage of the game.  Once the heavy metals are the intestines, they will bind strongly to plant material in order to be eliminated safely.

Many of the symptoms seen or felt in heavy metal toxicities are actually due to the mineral deficiencies caused by our body’s own elimination mechanisms.  Those metal-binding materials we reviewed above are so wonderful at binding elements, they may get a little confused and also steal important nutrient minerals from us – like zinc, copper, magnesium, chromium, molybdenum, or selenium!  Chemistry doesn’t discriminate.  A properly prepared, nutrient-dense diet (and possibly even working on therapeutic nutrient dosing with a properly trained practitioner) will be your best defense strategy here – as your functional need for nutrient minerals is likely to be higher than average.



  • Support digestion and gut healing.
  • Provide the body with ample amounts of the important nutrient minerals outlined above.
  • Support bile production and liver function with nutrients like B vitamins, vitamin C, choline, taurine, and glycine – or herbs like dandelion, milk thistle, and artichoke.
  • Provide plenty of plant foods with binding abilities such as raw greens (especially parsley and cilantro), seaweed, chlorella, spirulina, nuts, and seeds.  Plant binders will most likely only bind to the minerals that make it into the digestive tract, so should be used along with other strategies.
  • Provide ample dietary sulfur – and maybe even add in a supplemental source.  Some of the best supplemental sources are n-acetyl cysteine, MSM, and alpha lipoic acid.

Safe nutritional support of heavy metal burdens always respects the body’s natural functions.  Provide it with what it needs – then get out of its way!




Join us for a Live Webinar with one of our Instructors and Admissions Advisors!

During this call, you’ll explore and learn:

  • How to create a rewarding career in holistic nutrition that will give you the confidence and competence to replace your full-time income (whether you’re new to nutrition or or using it to enhance your current services)
  • How our unmatched education and instructor support sets our NTP program apart from other nutrition programs​​​​​​​
  • How graduates are successfully using their education and the many career opportunities available to you
  • If the NTP program is the right fit for you and how to move forward in financing your education


How to Build Meal Plans Your Clients Will Love


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How to Build Meal Plans Your Clients Will Love

Running a wellness business can be hard. It seems like there are always a million things competing for your attention, and an endless list of ideas of where you could invest your time. It’s easy to get so caught up in marketing and tactics to get new clients, that you forget to provide an incredible experience to the clients you already have.

This is a big mistake and here is why: Without providing the right tools to execute on the advice you are giving, you can leave a client feeling overwhelmed, frustrated and hopeless. Bridging the gap between your recommendations and your client taking action requires resources and support. You need to identify the obstacles your client will face in advance, and provide them with tools to overcome them and be successful.

When you do this right, you will turn your clients into successful raving fans, which are the most powerful sales and marketing tool you can have!

One of the resources and services you can offer to accomplish this is meal planning. Instead of giving your client a basic list of foods to eat + foods to avoid, and expecting them to figure out the rest on their own, a meal plan gives them so much more value and guidance. Meal planning helps you develop a comprehensive plan for your client so that they can start executing on your advice immediately and feel empowered to achieve their goals.

Creating a great meal plan requires some thought. Here are six simple steps to follow to ensure that you are building plans that will help your clients achieve success while also having fun along the way.

#1. Conduct a Meal Planning Assessment

The first step to creating a meal plan your client will love is to conduct a meal planning assessment. If you don’t take the time to understand your client’s lifestyle, food preferences and goals, you risk creating them a meal plan they won’t use.

Here are some general questions you might want to ask:

  • Do you have any allergies?
  • Which foods do you like? Which foods do you dislike?
  • How much time do you have to cook?
  • Do you prefer to prepare food in advance, or at meal time?
  • What’s your typical grocery budget?
  • Do you have any cultural food preferences?
  • What are your health goals?

Once you have your meal planning assessment done, you will have the information you need to create an awesome meal plan for your client.

#2. Create a Meal Plan that is Realistic and Fun

Determine the length and format of your meal plan. For length, I often recommend starting with a 7-day meal plan, which is easy-to-follow, not too overwhelming and can be built upon at your next appointment.

For length, determine which meals you’d like to include on the plan. Consider breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.

Once you have the length and format decided, you can create a meal planner template. We like to lay it out like a calendar with the meal types on the left hand axis, and the days of the week along the top. Here is an example:

Now that you have a meal planner template, you can start plugging in the meals! This is where you will want to refer back to your meal planning assessment, and be sure to consider your client’s foods preferences, lifestyle and goals.

Try to choose meals that are:

  • Simple with minimal time and ingredients
  • Can be packed up and taken with your client when they are on-the-go
  • Create leftovers


#3. Add an Itemized Grocery List

Once you have your meal plan made, you can create your grocery list. A list will save your client a ton of time and money, and will help them get started right away, as opposed to them trying to figure out what they need themselves.

Organize the ingredients on your grocery list under headings. Ensure these headings are listed in order, according to how a standard grocery store is laid out. For example: list “Fruits” first, followed by “Vegetables”, followed by “Meat, Cheese & Fish”. By formatting the list this way, your client can easily work through the store in order and save time from backtracking.

Tip: Ensure you include quantities on your grocery list, to prevent your client from buying more of the ingredient than they actually need.


#4. Develop a Prep Guide

A prep guide is a resource you can provide your client that tells them how to follow the meal plan. It shows them what they can prepare in advance and helps keep them organized and on track.

At That Clean Life, we like to lay our prep guides out into daily tasks. For example: in the morning we will instruct them to prepare their breakfast and pack their lunch and snacks if they are on-the-go, and at night, we will instruct them to prepare their dinner, and pack up the leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch.


#5. Bundle it Together

Once you have your prep guide finished, you can bundle all the components together! You can combine the meal plan, recipes, grocery list and prep guide in a PDF or document.

Ensure your bundle looks nice and professional. Keep the font type and formatting consistent throughout.


#6. Follow-up and Make Adjustments

Congratulations! You’ve now completed a thorough meal planning assessment, built an incredible meal plan with recipes and a grocery list, outlined how to prep and sent it off to your client. Good work!

Once your client has worked through the plan, take some time to follow-up with them to see how it went. Ask them what went well, what didn’t go well and what could be improved for next time. Remember that changing eating habits is hard, and a deeply personal experience. Your client will likely have hit some roadblocks while following the plan. Remind them that this is normal, and celebrate the small successes.


Final Thoughts

Meal planning is a skill that gets easier with time. It is a high-value, high-reward service that has the potential to change lives.

As your business grows, and you bring on new clients, you may find it difficult to offer customized meal plans. At this stage, you may want to consider using a meal planning tool like That Clean Life for Business, which will help you create beautiful, branded meal plans for your clients in minutes.

Abigail Hopkins is the co-founder of That Clean Life for Business, a powerful platform that helps you create beautiful, branded and nutritionally balanced meal plans for your clients, without having to spend hours on it.


Join us for a Live Webinar with one of our Instructors and Admissions Advisors!

During this call, you’ll explore and learn:

  • How to create a rewarding career in holistic nutrition that will give you the confidence and competence to replace your full-time income (whether you’re new to nutrition or or using it to enhance your current services)
  • How our unmatched education and instructor support sets our NTP program apart from other nutrition programs​​​​​​​
  • How graduates are successfully using their education and the many career opportunities available to you
  • If the NTP program is the right fit for you and how to move forward in financing your education


The Uses and Benefits of Burdock Root


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The Uses and Benefits of Burdock Root

It’s wintertime and as I look out my window, there are no green leafy things right now. It’s raining and the sky is gray, which for this sunshine-loving girl is not an easy time of year. At first I feel a little bit sad, but then I think of all of those roots reaching deep down into the earth, gathering their energy and getting ready for the spring. It reminds me that it is a great time to be harvesting those wonderful roots. And of course being an NTP, food also comes into play. So what is all at once an herb, a root, and a food? How about Arctium Lappa, known as Burdock or Gobo in the Asian markets? Below is a monograph on the wonderful root burdock.



COMMON NAMES: burdock, great burdock, burrs, beggar’s buttons, hardock, gobo, happy major, snake rhubarb, lappa, filzklette (German), bardana (Spanish), lappolone (Italian). The word lappa comes for the Greek word meaning to hold fast, arktos comes from the Greek word for bear.

BOTANICAL NAME: Arctium lappa & minus

FAMILY: Compositae (sunflower, asteracea)

BOTANICAL DESCRIPTION: Biennial with massive leaves and a very deep taproot

HABITAT: Burdock grows world wide, it was believed to have originated in Europe & Asia.

CULTIVATION: Seeds germinate in 1-2 weeks; the warmer the soil the quicker it grows. It works well to direct seed. You can plant closely together, as close as one every 4 inches. This encourages long straight taproots. Rows should be planted 2-3 feet apart. Burdock grows well in poor soil and actually helps to aerate compacted soils by means of the deep tap root, which, if allowed to break down in the soil, will provide nutrients to the lower soil zones. Sow the seed in early spring for a mid to late summer harvest.

HARVEST & PARTS USED: The roots are ready to harvest after 2-4 months. The average root size for cultivated arctium lappa is an average of 1/2 pound each. For the longest roots possible (not necessarily the best tasting) wait to harvest until the tops die back in the fall. These roots can weigh up to 2 pounds. Unless the soil is a deep sandy loam, harvesting will be a bit of a chore getting the entire whole root out in one piece. The best way is to trench, being careful not to break them. Also be careful not to break the spade (this is when you are very glad that you planted them close together). The root, herb and seed is used. The fresh root will keep in the refrigerator for several weeks.

DOSAGE: Fresh root 1:2, dry root 1:5 in 60% alcohol, 30-90 drops 3x per day. Seed 1:5 in 60% alcohol, 10-25 drops. Tea 1/2 to 1 cup per day of dry root decoction. Brandy is the best for bringing out the sweet bitter flavor of burdock.

CONSTITUENTS: fatty acids, organic acids, phenolic acids, lignans, sesquiterpenes, tannin, mucilage, insulin, iron, sulfur, beta-carotenes, and vitamins B and C. Flavonoid glycosides, bitter glycosides, nitrogen, ash, potassium, calcium, sodium, magnesium, sulfur, phosphorus, silicon.

ACTIONS & THERAPEUTIC USES: One of the most powerful and reliable blood tonics of herbalism. In general, burdock will move the body into a state of integration and health.

  • The root has antibiotic action against staphylococcus.
  • Adaptogen, alterative, antifungal, hepatic, lymphatic, diaphoretic, diuretic, laxative, hypoglycemic, bitter, and diuretic.
  • Used to help with arthritis, gout, rheumatism, boils, sties, seborrhea, cystitis, anemia, and anorexia nervosa.
  • The insulin present in the root helps to lower blood sugar, which is valuable in diabetes and hypoglycemia.
  • Useful for skin diseases – especially psoriasis, acne, and eczema.
  • To reduce cholesterol level.
  • Good to use when fasting for longer than three days; it helps to maintain peristalsis and prevent blood acidity and ketosis, which usually accompanies over-ambitious fasting. Stimulates the digestive juices and will aid in digestion and appetite.
  • For measles. It was used as an alterative to clean the liver and kidneys, ridding the system of toxic waste materials. Boil 25-30 grams of fresh root in 1/2 liter of water. Strain and add honey. Give 1 teaspoonfull every 5 minutes; within a few hours the eruption should be completed. Keep the child warm and resting for 3-4 more days.
  • A poultice or fomentation of the leaves (and or root) can be used for boils and abscesses.
  • The leaf was used for sprains and bruises.
  • Some studies (Germany 1967 & Japan 1986) showed that the polyacetylenes, especially in the fresh root, have an antibiotic effect.
  • The seeds have the capacity to stimulate metabolism and digestion, promoting waste removal and moving waste products through the sweat pores, urine and stools.
  • The seed has been used for kidney stones (the seeds look a little like a kidney stone).
  • To relax the body and improve elasticity of the skin, drink a decoction of the seeds.
  • Burdock is especially suited to old, chronic cases where there is a lack of vigor and momentum. For the person being caught in a slow, downward drag of chronic disease, burdock helps the body remember what it is like to be healthy. Burdock is one of the main ingredients in a renowned cancer formula called Essiac.





  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 3-6 tablespoons water
  • 2 ½ cups thin rounds fresh burdock root
  • 3 tablespoons white sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1 teaspoon minced lemonpeel
  • 1-2 tablespoons miso paste


  1. Heat a heavy skillet and coat with oil.
  2. Sauté burdock rounds until their strong aroma is no longer released.
  3. Add water to cover, bring to a boil, and cover pan. Cook until tender, adding water occasionally if necessary.
  4. Thin miso in 3-6 tablespoons water and add to pan when burdock is ready. Simmer, stirring over very low heat, until all liquid has evaporated.
  5. Add sesame seeds and lemon peel; sauté 1-2 minutes more.

Serve with steamed greens such as spinach, collards, kale, or nettles.




  • 1 ½ tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 cup each burdock root and carrots, cut into thin matchsticks
  • Dash of sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons shoyu ortamari


  1. Heat a heavy skillet and coat with sesame oil.
  2. Add the burdock sticks, which should sizzle softly as soon as they touch the surface of the pan. Sauté over medium heat until they no longer release their strong aroma, stirring constantly.
  3. Add the carrots and sauté for 1 or 2 minutes longer, then add enough water to cover the bottom of the pan. Cover pan, reduce heat, and simmer 25-30 minutes, or until vegetables are tender, adding water occasionally if necessary.
  4. Season to taste with salt.

Serves 4



Join us for a Live Webinar with one of our Instructors and Admissions Advisors!

During this call, you’ll explore and learn:

  • How to create a rewarding career in holistic nutrition that will give you the confidence and competence to replace your full-time income (whether you’re new to nutrition or or using it to enhance your current services)
  • How our unmatched education and instructor support sets our NTP program apart from other nutrition programs​​​​​​​
  • How graduates are successfully using their education and the many career opportunities available to you
  • If the NTP program is the right fit for you and how to move forward in financing your education


Detox Your Spring Cleaning: Recipes for Non-Toxic Cleaning Supplies

Detox Your Spring Cleaning: Recipes for Non-Toxic Cleaning Supplies


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Detox Your Spring Cleaning: Recipes for Non-Toxic Cleaning Supplies

This article originally appeared in the Spring 2012 edition of The Nutritional Therapist. For me, one of the first signs of spring is the annual NTA Conference. (If you’ve not yet attended a conference, you NEED to! You can learn more here). At the 2012 annual conference, Dr. Anne Louise Gittleman’s presentation on “How to Make a Super Natural Sanctuary for Optimum Healing and Blood Sugar Balance” brought on the other sign of spring…the feeling that I need to clean my house. It’s something stronger than the regular weekend cleaning spree. I’m talking about that almost overwhelming urge to C-L-E-A-N the house. Top to bottom, and inside-out. No corner, no nook or cranny, is safe from my attention. In Dr. Anne Louise’s presentation, she calls our home our body’s “third skin”. (The second skin would be your clothes and first skin would be the skin on your body.) This idea has grabbed me. We wouldn’t rub our physical body down with harsh and/or toxic chemicals in the cleaning process, so why would we add to the toxic toll on our body by using these chemicals on our clothes or in our house? Her presentation on the effects toxins and EMFs have on your body’s physical health was…well…scary! I grew up in a house where things were cleaned with Comet and bleach. And we all know now that is a deadly combination, right? Toxic chlorine gas is released, which essentially serves as a way to wage chemical warfare on yourself. I don’t use those chemicals today, but I confess I haven’t been as diligent with vetting my cleaning supplies as I now resolve to be. So, to that end, here are a few basic recipes for your often neglected second and third skins. Be sure to label your homemade products and keep them away from children and pets!


Rather than using fabric softener, try adding one half to a whole cup of white vinegar to the washing machine rinse cycle. You can also add a few drops of your favorite smelling essential oil such as jasmine, lavender, peppermint, or vanilla. Vinegar is great for removing stubborn odors and dissolving stains, and it will make your clothes soft and fluffy. The vinegar also helps reduce static cling and it will also clean the soap scum from your washing machine parts. Make sure vinegar is rinsed out of clothes very well, though, to avoid vinegar odor on washed clothes. Double rinse if you have to, and experiment to see how much vinegar works best for you.


1 Tbs. cornstarch 1 pint cold water Dissolve cornstarch in cold water. Pour mixture into a spray bottle and squirt to apply (shake before each use).


½ c. white vinegar ¼ c. baking soda 2 Tbs lemon juice ½ gallon water Mix well. Can be stored for future use.


1-2 c. baking soda Small amount of liquid soap (e.g.  Dr. Bronner’s® or dish soap) Add enough liquid soap to the baking soda to make a paste and apply to a damp sponge to scrub surfaces. Rinse with warm water.


1 c. hydrogen peroxide (3%) ¼ c. lemon juice 2 c. water Mix water and hydrogen peroxide first, and then add lemon juice into a spray bottle. Spray on moldy tile or walls and allow to sit for an hour prior to scrubbing and rinsing.


¼ c. white vinegar ½ tsp. liquid soap (e.g. Dr. Bronner’s® or dish soap) 2 c. water Place all ingredients in a spray bottle and mix. You can add a splash of lemon juice, if you’d like.


2 tablespoons baking soda 2 tablespoons borax Mix baking soda and borax and put the mixture in the dishwasher.


1 tsp. lemon oil 2 c. mineral oil Mix and apply with soft cloth.