I have a love hate relationship with supplements. I love it when I can find the ones that are a good fit for me and make a positive impact, and I hate the expensive and irritating process of searching and eliminating the supplements that don’t work.
The supplements that aren’t a good fit typically cause headaches, flu like symptoms, insomnia, joint pain (inflammation), sometimes stomach issues, can imbalance hormones, and for me can also stir up the Lyme bacteria which I try very hard to keep dormant. These symptoms are upsetting if you’re already feeling under the weather and can be very frustrating. People often message me and say, “I give up! Nothing works, everything makes me feel gross.”
I hear you because I’ve been through the same thing and it can be exhausting, but I keep fighting and researching, and have found some fantastic supplements that work very well.
I am often asked, “what I take” and my answer is, “As little as possible!” My goal is always to find the least amount of supplements and medications to help me feel my best. My particular needs involve the gut, inflammation, and immunity. Those three things need to work together for us to be our healthiest selves. Inflammation is the root of all evil in the body and it is directly linked to the health of your gut. If the gut is unhealthy, your entire body is out of balance. I’ve talked a lot about gut health, systemic inflammation and immunity in previous posts so lets get to the supplements!
(Medical Disclaimer * I am not a physician or nutritional or supplement specialist. The list of supplements I provide below are what works for me personally and are not shared as personal medical advice or treatment and are purely educational. As always, I strongly suggest you work hand in hand with your health care provider to find the right supplements for you.*)
Below are all of my favorites along with links, why I find them beneficial, and how they work.
Probiotics & Digestive Enzymes
I order these from Amazon Prime or directly from Dr Mercola’s website.
There are many brands of Probiotics and Digestive Enzymes on the market. There’s only a handful that are truly beneficial, have the proper bacteria, and work the way they say they do so make sure you’re doing your research. I switch back and forth between these two brands of probiotics every 60 days or so. Also, it’s very important to do your research on pre-biotics. Pre-biotic foods feed the good bacteria in our gut. This is an easy link to get you started in the right direction for pre-biotics.
I order these directly from their website.
I order this on Amazon Prime.
I love digestive enzymes because I feel they are just another step in the process of healing the gut and focusing on proper absorption of the nutrients in the foods we eat and the supplements we take. Typically, digestive enzymes are taken with each meal, I usually only remember to take them with breakfast or lunch, and I feel that amount works just fine. In fact, with most supplements I start small and work my way up. If supplement directions call for 2 Tablespoons or 6 pills a day, but 1 Tablespoon and 2 pills a day work for me, it’s less that my body has to process and also saves me money.
Benefits: Enzymes are important for the body’s proper absorption and utilization of food. Over time, the body’s ability to make certain enzymes reduces as part of the natural aging process. Many scientists now believe that maintaining normal levels of key enzymes is important to maintaining overall health. . In today’s world of processed and fast foods, the body must work harder to break down food and absorb the nutrients. Poor eating habits, such as improper or inadequate chewing and eating on the run contribute to reduced levels of digestive enzymes (which lead to leaky gut, poor absorption, and inflammation).
I’ll keep screaming it from the roof tops…inflammation is the root of all evil in the body! It causes pain, depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, hormone imbalances, auto immune disease, cancer…I could go on and on. Keeping the inflammation balanced in my body is the key to me leading a heathly life.
I order these directly from their website.
Tumeric or curcumin? A typical turmeric root contains only about 2-5% curcumin, so taking an unstandardized, powdered turmeric root product means that very large amounts would be required to get a beneficial amount of curcumin. Additionally, curcumin is poorly absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract. While turmeric is excellent when used as a spice, a curcumin extract is a better choice for health benefits. I did many hours of research on curcumin supplements and this was my choice. Their website is extremely informative so be sure to click on the link above for more reading.
Benefits: Curcumin is the main active ingredient in tumeric and has powerful anti-inflammatory effects. Curcumin blocks NF-kB, a molecule that travels into the nuclei of cells and turns on genes related to inflammation. Curcumin neutralizes free radicals which makes it an excellent antioxidant. It is beneficial for cancers, arthritis, dry eyes, metal toxicity, is a natural anti bacterial, anti fungal and is anti viral. It has been proven beneficial with inflammatory bowel disease, Chron’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, spinal cord injuries, weight management, diabetes, liver damage, and has been linked to improved brain function and lower risk of brain diseases. One study even showed that taking Curcumin was as effective as exercise in lowering endothelial function which is a major driver of heat disease. Studies also show that Curcumin can clear Amyloid plaques which are a buildup of protein tangles found in Alzheimer’s patients. Curcumin is beneficial for depression, high cholesterol, and studies show that Curcumin interferes with cancer development, growth, and spread.
The reason I love it and will NEVER be without it is because it enabled me to get off of prescription anti-inflammatories. It reversed damage to my hands caused by Lyme arthritis, and it has dramatically lessened systemic inflammation which has been a major struggle for me since I was infected.
I started with 1 capsule three times a day for 30 days. Then, moved to 2 capsules per day for another 30 days, and then lowered it to 1 capsule per day. By the end of the first 30 days I was able to stop the prescription anti-inflammatories and now, three years later I still take only 1 Curcumin capsule daily. If I have an inflammation flare, I pop it up to 2 a day. I order it online and their website is very informative so be sure to clink the link above to read more.
I order this from Amazon Prime.
I take high doses of D3 and this makes it easy because not only is it very high quality, but there are 2,000 iu’s per drop. It looks and tastes like Elmer’s glue but goes down quickly with a little water. The next time you see your health practitioner, be sure to have your D3 levels checked.
Benefits : Vitamin D3 regulates the absorption of calcium and phosphorous and facilitates normal immune system function. Low vitamin D3 levels lead to vascular disease, chronic inflammation, higher risks of cancer, depression, anxiety, and osteoporosis. It fights pain, boosts weight loss, fights against the common flu, helps maintain healthy bone and muscle function, and according to a 2006 study published in the Journal Of The American Medical Association, also reduces your risk of multiple sclerosis.
I order this from Amazon Prime.
I have tried close to 20 brands of fish oil over the years. Every,single, one made me feel like death. Sick stomach, headache, and fish burps for 12 hours straight. In my research I stumbled across a company called Labdoor. They test supplements and grade and rank them based on label accuracy, product purity, nutritional value, ingredient safety, and projected efficacy. WHC Uno Cardo 1000 ranks #1 out of 57 other fish oil supplements. I love it. It doesn’t bother my stomach (I take it with food) and I have had no issues with it. This supplement also contains 1,000 iu’s of vitamin D3, so those of you who are not on a high dose of D3 like I am, can kill two birds with one stone.
Benefits: Combats inflammation, promotes healthy brain function, good vision, and blood pressure. It helps fight depression, anxiety, has been found beneficial for ADHD, boosts weakened immune system, aids in weight loss, fertility, and helps heal psoriasis and acne. It improves immunity and is fabulous for your skin and hair.
If I can’t find this in the health food section, I buy it on Amazon Prime.
I take 1 Tablespoon of this in 8 ounces of water in the evenings when I’m having sleeping issues, my nervous system is revved up, or I’m having an inflammation flare. It works incredibly well and has the side benefit of being very tasty unlike a lot of supplements.
Tart cherries are anti oxidant, anti inflammatory, aid in cancer prevention and heart health, help post workout recovery, help arthritis pain, reduce swelling, boosts immunity, regulates metabolism and fight fat, regulate blood sugar, combat anxiety, and like I said above, helps with insomnia because tart cherries are a natural source of melatonin.
Fighting Off Virus Load
Did you know that there are 8 types of Herpes viruses? I know, it’s kind of an uncomfortable topic that people don’t like to discuss. I’m going to do it anyway because the majority of humans have a minimum of two of the Herpes infections.
I have the cold sore virus, the shingles virus, and the Epstein-Barr Virus. In fact, several years ago I broke out in shingles every 6 weeks for a year and a half. It was awful!
Herpes viruses are very common. In fact, according to the CDC HHV7 is so common, that the majority of humankind has been infected. Often, these viruses run around behind the scenes beating down our immune systems and wreaking havoc and we don’t even know it. It’s important to eat foods and take supplements that fight our viral load. 90% of American adults have been exposed to HSV-1 and according to the Centers For Disease Control, 1 out of every 6 people ages 14-49 have genital herpes.
Right now, there are NO treatment for Epstein-Barr virus or human herpes virus 6,7 or 8 infections and none of the 8 Herpes infections are curable. The goal is to boost the immune system so as to help the viral load stay dormant.
So let’s lightly go over the 8 types…
HSV-1 causes cold sores on the lips but can also show up on other parts of the body and can lead to infection of the genitals during oral sex and then can become HSV-2. Genital Herpes can also show up on the mouth.
HHV3 causes chicken pox and can also cause a recurrent viral infection of the skin called Herpes Zoster, othewise known as shingles.
HHV4 is known as EBV or the Epstein-Barr Virus. It is the major cause of infectious mononucleosis.
HHV5 s the official name of cytomegalovirus (CMV). CMV is also a cause of mononucleosis. CMV virus is one of the most difficult complication of AIDS.
HHV6 is a recently observed agent found in the blood cells of a few patients with a variety of diseases. It causes roseola (a viral disease causing high fever and a skin rash in small children) and a variety of other illnesses associated with fever in that age group. This infection accounts for many of the cases of convulsions associated with fever in infancy (febrile seizures).
HHV7 is even more recently observed and is closely related to HHV6. Like other human herpes viruses, HHV6 and HHV7 are so common that most of humankind has been infected at some point, usually early in life. HHV7 can also cause roseola, but it is not clear what other clinical effects that this virus causes.
HHV8 was recently discovered in the tumours called Kaposi’s Sarcoma (KS). These tumours are found in people with AIDS and are otherwise very rare. KS forms purplish tumours in the skin and other tissues of some people with AIDS. It is very difficult to treat with medication. HHV8 may also cause other cancers, including certain lymphomas (lymph node cancers) associated with AIDS. The fact that these cancers are caused by a virus may explain why they tend to occur in people with AIDS when their immune systems begin to fail.
There are many supplements, herbs, and homeopathics you can take to help keep your body’s viral load under control. Of course, proper nutrition, a low sugar diet, rest, plenty of healthy water, and exercise should always be your first priority. If you suffer from any of the Herpes viruses listed above, it would be really beneficial for you to do some research for your specific virus and figure out how you can keep it at bay as much as possible. I use Llysine and Lemon Balm.
I order this from Amazon Prime.
L-lysine, is an essential amino acid, meaning it is necessary for human health, but the body cannot make it. You have to get lysine from food or supplements. Amino acids like lysine are the building blocks of protein. Lysine has antiviral effects by blocking the activity of arginine, which promotes Herpes replication. One review found that oral lysine is more effective at preventing an HSV outbreak than it is at reducing the severity and duration of an outbreak. One study found that taking lysine at the beginning of a herpes outbreak did not reduce symptoms. Supplementation may reduce recurrences and improve symptoms. Lysine also helps with anxiety, fights acne, combats hair loss, and increases athletic performance.
Here’s a large list of foods high in Arginine that you can strive to avoid if you’re battling active Herpes infections. Avoiding these foods as much as possible along with taking a l-Lysine supplement makes a big difference in frequency of outbreaks as well as timely healing.
I order this directly from their website.
Lemon Balm is a member of the mint family and is considered a calming herb. It is antiviral and antibacterial when taken in both oral and topical forms. It reduces anxiety, promotes sleep, and helps with indigestion. It is anti-inflammatory and a large German study showed that lemon balm was extremely effective in treating herpes simplex infections. *Not to be used in high amounts for women who are pregnant or people taking thyroid medication.
If you’d like more information on herbal remedies for viral infections you can contact me personally. I would also suggest researching Lomatium, Ligusticum Osha, Sambucas Elder, and Astragalus, all of which were very helpful when I went through the bout of constant shingles outbreaks.
Nervous System & Adrenal Issues
I order this from Amazon Prime but you can also find it in almost every health food store and vitamin supplement store.
I drink this every afternoon in a cup of hot water just like tea. It’s fizzy and tasty and a perfect reminder for me to sit down and enjoy a good book for a few minutes every day. It calms my nervous system, helps to keep my blood pressure manageable, and is great for muscle aches and joint pains. Magnesium deficiency causes many issues people are unaware of. Agitation and anxiety, restless leg syndrome, sleep disorders, irritability, insomnia, muscle spasms and weakness, and most people aren’t aware that magnesium is necessary for proper hormone balance. There have also been studies linking magnesium deficiency to a significant cause of heart disease. Magnesium lowers cortisol, supports the thyroid, lowers blood sugar, fuels cellular energy, and is also anti-inflammatory. A study done prior to 2005 found that 68% of Americans do not consume the recommended daily intake of magnesium, and even more unsettling, showed that 19% of Americans don’t consume even half of that.
I order this on Amazon Prime.
Ashwagandaha, also known as Indian Ginseng, is an adaptogenic herb that works as a stress response inhibitor. It has a wide range of health benefits including its ability to fight against cancer and diabetes, as well as reduce inflammation, arthritis, asthma, hypertension, stress, and rheumatism. It boosts your supply of antioxidants and regulates the immune system.
When I had my first Lyme flare (although I didn’t know what it was at the time) I of course had tons of lab work done. Some of my tests showed that my cortisol was too high at night and too high in the morning. Some symptoms of cortisol imbalance include, weight gain or loss, skin irritation, mood changes, infertility (hormonal imbalance), decreased sexual desire, depression, anxiety, memory issues, high blood pressure, insulin resistance, prolonged illness, asthma, insomnia…and list goes on.
When our bodies are under extreme stress from life or illness, our adrenals run to the rescue and before we know it they’re fatigued and we can sometimes get stuck in that constant undercurrent of fight or flight. Adrenal Fatigue is controversial as most mainstream medicine doctors don’t recognize it. However, Holistic physicians, Naturopaths, and Integrative Medicine doctors have been testing and treating it for years with great success.
There are several adaptogenic herbs that seem to work very well with the body to calm down the stress response. I tried many that did not agree with me and revved me up rather than calm down my stress response. The Dr’s Advantage worked very well for me. They recommend taking 2 Tablespoons daily, but I found that 1 Tablespoon with my morning supplements worked well whereas, another Tablespoon in the afternoon was too much. I no longer take it daily, but do take it when I’m under extended periods of stress, feeling run down, or in a Lyme flare.
Ahhh…you may notice something is missing. I cannot even count the amount of multi vitamin supplements I have tried. It is a real struggle for many people. Several years ago I finally found a wonderful multi that fit perfectly with my body and my needs and 6 months ago they quit manufacturing it. It was a sad day indeed. I’m still researching and trying different supplements. I have one on order that looks very promising. When it arrives and I’ve had a chance to try it for few days, I’ll be sure to post a full review.