Cold & Flu, Healthy Fats, Active B, Chicken Soup, Pre-DM Detox
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November Health News

Michelle Crowder, ND - Licensed Naturopathic Physician

Click here to view the last newsletter from October 2013.

Just in time for the last days of November, I bring you this month's newsletter. November has been busy, filled with new and familiar faces,  with progress made on patient education materials, and completion of a Group Cleanse/Detox program, where we consumed half of our body's weight in ounces of water each day, tried chia seeds and almond milk, went to bed by 10pm… and it was fun!  As we approach the Winter Solstice, I hope you take time to nourish your quiet, still, "yin" energy by eating more soups, getting out for gentle walks during daylight hours, and letting yourself sleep a bit more.  

A Sampling of What I Have Been Reading This Month...

For regular updates on pertinent medical news and research, see my Twitter page. To share this newsletter with friends and family, you may forward it from your email, or use this web link.

I Arroghjut’yun,

75 Barclay Circle, Suite 225
Rochester Hills MI 48307

What is Naturopathic Medicine?

In short, Naturopathic Medicine combines the best of conventional and alternative medicine into an individualized, whole-person approach to primary health care. NDs are trained as primary care providers with an emphasis on natural and common sense approaches including clinical nutrition, lifestyle counseling, and botanical medicine.

What to Expect from Your Visit

I work with my clients to identify the root causes of disease, taking into account the various factors that influence health, including lifestyle, genetics, physiology, and mental-emotional state. First visits are 90 minutes and include a thorough health history, followed by discussion of my preliminary assessment and recommendations. I may order conventional or specialty lab work to aid in my understanding of your condition. We work together to devise a plan that will meet your health goals.

Follow-up visits generally last 30-45 minutes and are important so that I can better get to know your unique physiology, track your progress, and refine my recommendations. I can consult with your other health providers and make referrals as necessary.

Integrative Medicine

I am fortunate to work in an integrative primary care practice, alongside a D.O. (Doctor of Osteopathy), N.P. (Nurse Practitioner), and P.A. (Physician's Assistant).  We share patients and regularly consult with each other to coordinate care. 

I believe this approach benefits patients by offering them the best of both worlds - conventional and natural.  These two worlds are not mutually exclusive; in fact, many health concerns are best addressed by a multifaceted approach.  The power of Integrative Medicine is backed by research, especially for chronic conditions such as heart disease.

Prevention: Cold & Flu Season

Part II - Therapies
“The cold is the cure.“  One of my mentors said this when asked about a cure for the common cold.  Physiologically, this is the case.  The symptoms we feel during a cold or flu are actually the body’s attempt to fight infection.  A “runny nose” helps to prevent microbes from attaching to mucus membranes in the respiratory tract.  Increased activity in lymphatic (immune) tissue in the mouth and throat can lead to swelling and pain associated with sore throat.  Body aches are caused by mobilization of protein from muscles to make infection-fighting antibodies.  All of these processes are enhanced when body temperature is elevated – so fever has a therapeutic value, as long as it stays within a safe range (this varies according to age and medical history, so consult your doctor for guidance).    
  1. REST: Listen to your body.  Fatigue, body aches, and brain fog are our body’s way of telling us to stay in bed.  Recovery will happen sooner if you give your body what it needs.
  2. Eat: Broths & Teas.  Many people think to drink fruit juice when sick, but the sugar content can actually impair immune function.  Instead, stay hydrated and nourished by consuming herbal teas and broths throughout the day.  Fresh ginger tea is one of my favorites, made by grating a 1-2 inch piece of ginger root, adding up to 5 cups of boiling water, and steeping for 10-20 minutes (caution: it is spicy!).  Broccoli, bell peppers, and Brussels sprouts all contain more Vitamin C per serving than do oranges.  See this month's recipe for one of my favorite chicken soup recipes, made with immune-supporting foods like garlic, ginger, and mushrooms.  Bieler’s broth is a traditional vegetable broth used in acute illness and to support detoxification.
  3. Botanical Medicine: Botanical medicine is my preferred treatment modality in cases of infection.  Because most botanicals are metabolized like food, frequent dosing is necessary in order to maintain therapeutic levels in the body.  Elderberry has demonstrated strong anti-viral effects (1, 2), including in vitro activity against the H1N1 flu virus (1, 2).  In humans, when given within the first 48 hours of influenza symptoms, elderberry cut recovery time in half.  Echinacea seems to speed recovery time (Schulten et al., 2001), decrease symptom severity, and increase immune cell count.  Garlic has been shown to prevent colds and reduce duration of symptoms if they arise.  Astragalus not only has immune-stimulating properties (and Brush et al., 2006), but also has the added benefit of adrenal support, another important system to address in cases of infection.   
  4. Vitamins & Minerals: When we look at the research, the biggest payoff in terms of supplemental Vitamin C is in preventing the common cold in people involved in high intensity exercise in cold climates (skiers, marathon runners, military); incidence was reduced by 50% when Vitamin C was taken preventatively.  The second highest payoff was seen in children, where prophylactic supplementation of >200mg Vitamin C daily reduced cold duration by 14%.  Human studies have shown that even mild Zinc deficiency can lead to decreases in the number and activity of important immune cells (Kaplan et al., 1988).  Zinc lozenges taken every 2-3 hours while awake reduced cold symptom duration by about 50% in 2 human studies (1, 2).
  5. Hydrotherapy: Last month I described Shower Hydrotherapy, which is a great daily practice.  During times of acute illness and upper respiratory congestion, I find the Warming Socks treatment to be beneficial.  (1) Fill a basin with the hottest water you can tolerate. Place feet in basin for about 10 minutes to warm them sufficiently. Alternatively, you can take a warm bath or shower.  (2) Soak a thin pair of cotton socks in the coldest possible tap or ice water. Wring them out so they are damp, but not dripping. Put them on your feet.  (3) Cover the damp cotton socks with a pair of dry wool socks. They must be at least 60% wool.  (4) Rest and stay warm until the damp cotton socks are dry. The most common way to do this is to leave them on overnight while sleeping.  Mechanism: Cold, damp socks applied to warm feet cause dilated blood vessels to constrict.  In an attempt to warm your feet, blood and lymph from the upper body are directed toward your feet.  This pulls fluid out of the head and circulates white blood cells, reducing congestion and stimulating immune function.

Clinically, I have seen benefit when the lifestyle measures are in place (especially adequate rest), diet is simple, low in sugar, and consists of nutrient-rich broths and teas, and a combination formula that includes some or all of the botanicals/nutrients described above is taken every 2-3 wakeful hours for the first 24-48 hours, followed by a maintenance dose for at least a week.  I also find it beneficial to view acute illness as a chance to rest, nourish and detoxify, and potentially end up stronger in the long run.  When infections become frequent, I look for underlying causes such as nutrient deficiency and adrenal dysfunction. 


Fat has gotten a bad reputation over the years.  Yes, we know that trans fats, hydrogenated oils, and fat from industrially-raised animals is not where it's at, but healthy fats have many important health benefits - they support brain health, improve skin function and tone, are the building blocks for hormones, help to control inflammation, and prevent chronic disease.  They also make our food delicious and satisfying!  Some of my favorite fats include:
  • Olive Oil  Contains monounsaturated fatty acids, which are linked to improved cholesterol profiles, reduced risk of heart disease, and better blood sugar control.  A study earlier this year found that a Mediterranean Diet supplemented with olive oil or nuts reduced the risk of major cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke by up to 30%. This eating style is also linked with a substantial reduction in risk of developing chronic disease, cognitive decline, and physical problems as we age.  
  • Avocado  Like olive oil, avocado contains monounsaturated fatty acids, as well as phytosterols that help to control inflammation.  Try topping your burger with avocado and skipping the bun. It seems to blunt some of the inflammatory effects of the meat
  • Nuts & Seeds  Almonds may be the perfect snack.  Recent research showed that eating almonds decreased blood sugar spikes after meals, curbed hunger, and did not change overall daily energy intake.  This effect was most pronounced when almonds were consumed between meals, as a snack. Another recent study linked daily nut consumption to longer life. I recommend all nuts and seeds except peanuts, due to the inflammatory fats they contain, and the fact that they are often contaminated with the aflatoxin-producing aspergillus mold.  Almonds, walnuts, pecans, cashews, pumpkin seeds (pepitas), sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, hazelnuts...
  • Coconut Oil  Contains Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs) that are easily digested and absorbed - even in people with digestive disorders - and are used as an immediate source of energy, rather than being stored as fat.  Women who consumed 2 tablespoons daily for 12 weeks had improved lipid profiles, less abdominal fat, and did not gain weight.   Coconut oil also has anti-microbial properties against bacteria, including acne-causing bacteria, viruses, fungi, and yeasts, including drug-resistant Candida
  • Grass-Fed Butter (if tolerated): Contains Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA), which reduces inflammation throughout the body  and may help to treat polycystic kidney disease (1, 2). Also contains butyrate, the primary nutrient used by cells of the intestines.
  • Wild, Cold-Water Fish  Pacific salmon, sardines, and herring are rich in EPA and DHA, the two omega-3 fatty acids used directly by the body and associated with reduced risk of heart disease (1, 2). Benefits have also been shown in the treatment of cognitive and behavioral issues such as ADHD. The body may convert plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids (such as alpha linolenic acid found in flaxseed) into small amounts of EPA and DHA, although adequate B vitamins, magnesium, zinc, and Vitamin C are required.

Featured Therapy: Active B Complex

Because I believe that food is our best medicine, I do not routinely recommend supplementing with a multivitamin-mineral.  Instead, I base my recommendations on the individual needs of the patient, determined through history and lab tests.  That said, I have seen numerous patients benefit from supplementation with a high-quality, activated B complex for a variety of conditions.
Clinically, there is evidence to support use of Active B Vitamins in conditions such as:
Who Needs to Supplement:
Activated B vitamins (“methylated” and “phosphorylated” forms) are unique in that they are directly used by the body, and do not require conversion from inactive precursors.  Some individuals carry genetic mutations in the MTHFR gene (Methyl-Tetra-Hydro-Folate-Reductase), the product of which modifies folic acid so it can be used in metabolism of the amino acid homocysteine (see figure above).  Prevalence of these mutations varies by ethnic group; in one study of US Caucasian and Puerto Rican populations, single mutations were detected in 38-56% of subjects, while double mutations were found in 4-16% of subjects.  These individuals may have problems utilizing B vitamins from food, which can lead to any of the conditions above, among others.  I believe that any underlying genetic challenges are exacerbated by increased need for B vitamins in modern times, due to their role in stress response and liver detoxification.  Genetic tests are available for screen for MTHFR mutations. is a great resource for more information.

Recipe: Healing Chicken Ginger Soup

Recipe and Image from
Yield: 6 servings
For the Broth: 
  • 2 bone-in organic chicken breasts (~2 lbs)
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 1 whole head garlic, cut in half cross-wise
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh ginger (or more!)
  • 2 to 3 thai chiles, chopped or 1 tsp crushed red chili flakes
  • 2 cups chopped shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 stalk fresh lemongrass, chopped
  • cilantro stems
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 2-3 teaspoons Herbamare or sea salt

For the Soup:
  • 1 medium onion, cut into crescent moons
  • 3 to 4 stalks celery, sliced into diagonals
  • 3 carrots, cut into matchsticks
  • 2 to 3 cups sliced shiitake mushrooms
  • cooked chicken pulled from the bone and chopped
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

To make the broth, place all ingredients for broth into a 6-quart pot. Cover and bring to a boil, reduce heat medium-low and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Strain broth into a large bowl or another pot using a colander. Place chicken breasts onto a plate to cool. Pour the broth back into the pot. Once chicken is cooled, remove the skin, pull the meat from the bone and chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces.
Place all of the veggies for the soup (onion, carrot, celery, and shiitake mushrooms) into the pot with the broth. Cover and simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes. Add the chicken. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer a minute or two more or until vegetables are cooked to your liking. Ladle soup into bowls and serve with a handful of basil, cilantro, and cabbage on top. Sprinkle with thai chiles if desired. You can also add a handful of cooked thai rice noodles to each bowl if desired. Squeeze a little lime juice over each bowl.

Optional Additions & Toppings: rice noodles, chopped fresh basil, chopped fresh napa cabbage, chopped fresh cilantro, chopped fresh thai green chiles, lime wedges

Book Review:
The PreDiabetes Detox
Sarah Cimperman, ND

Earlier this month, I led a group Cleanse/Detox where we explored many of the concepts covered in this wonderful book by fellow naturopathic doctor, Sarah Cimperman.  The PreDiabetes Detox stands out for its wealth of practical, easy-to-implement advice (including a healthy collection of recipes), with extensive research to support the recommendations.  This whole-body lifestyle approach not only will guide you towards preventing diabetes and reversing chronic disease, but it is general enough to appeal to anyone looking to optimize health and wellness.  Learn how healthy fats help to prevent diabetes, how industrial chemicals contribute to it, the benefits of beets, berries, broccoli, going barefoot, and all about "forest bathing."  The accompanying website and blogs offer even more support and ideas.  I have been and will continue to recommend this book to my patients.  Makes a great gift.  

FYI: Licensing and Regulation of Naturopathic Medicine

Licensed Naturopathic Physicians attend a 4-year post-graduate medical school accredited by the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education and recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. They must pass basic science and clinical licensing exams administered by the North American Board of Naturopathic Examiners. Currently, 16 states license Naturopathic doctors as primary care providers. National and state legislative efforts are organized by the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians.  Because NDs are not currently licensed in Michigan, they function as complementary providers.

For more information about the active legislative efforts to license Naturopathic Medicine in Michigan, visit the Michigan Association of Naturopathic Physicians.


About Michelle Crowder, ND

Michelle Crowder, ND is a licensed Naturopathic Physician with a focus in holistic and preventative primary care.  She works with people of all ages to identify and treat the root causes of disease, empowering her clients with the tools they need to understand and take control of their own health. Areas of special interest include digestive health, hormone imbalance, and immune dysfunction, including thyroid disease.

National College of Natural Medicine, Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine, High honors
University of Vermont, Master of Science in Botany
University of Michigan, Bachelor of Science in Biology, Summa Cum Laude
Copyright © 2013 Michelle C Davila, ND, All rights reserved.
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