How do you know if your turmeric is safe?

March 15, 2021

Turmeric is often adulterated with cheap ingredients (one of which might be LEAD, for crying out loud!). I used to think I was up on what is toxic and what is not, but totally missed this one until recently. I use turmeric a lot — it’s not just an infrequent seasoning to me — I occasionally take it in a fairly high dose (500mg – 1g) as a supplement, and sometimes as an anti-inflammatory. I’m not telling you to do that. This is not medical advice. I’m just saying… I use a LOT of turmeric!

So, guess what? There are some ways you can test your turmeric at home to see if it’s been adulterated! One of those ways is the water test There are many articles and videos — google it, you’ll see. For your convenience, here is one looks like it is from the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare of India. I can’t vouch for the accuracy of this information, but I have seen this test listed in a variety of places, many of which seemed legit. But keep your skeptic pants on and do your research into the validity of this if you’re going to take action on it.

I tried it myself, with the four types of turmeric I currently have in my house, and I was shocked at the difference! I cropped the photo close, so that you can’t see my labels, because I don’t want to disparage anyone, especially since this is very unscientific. But check out my results!

According to the test, it seems like the one on the left is the best one, and if this test is really a way to tell if turmeric is adulterated, it certainly looks like the one on the right meets that criteria. (I put the turmeric in the water left to right, so the one on the left actually had the turmeric in it the longest.)

Though I won’t give out actual brands/names on this, I will tell you the source types for each. From left to right:

  1. A turmeric/curcumin supplement (I opened the capsule)
  2. Small, family farm (US-based)
  3. US-based company that sells turmeric in bulk packages.
  4. Small, family farm (international)

Now, I need to find a source for concentrated hydrochloric acid, to do more of these tests! And from now on, it will only be third-party lab-verified turmeric for me! I don’t care if it costs more!


How do you get ready for cold and flu season?

September 20, 2013

I’ll keep this brief, because it’s important, and I want you to read it.

1. Get as much vitamin D from the sun as you can NOW (from Oct – April, you can’t really get it, even if you lay out at our latitude – I’m assuming you are in NYC, like I am). I talk about the safest and best way to do this in my sunscreen article.

2. If you have low vitamin D levels, your doctor should be telling you to supplement.  It will definitely help you avoid or lessen the impact of colds and flus.  [NOTE: All nutrients, foods and your own body chemistry work together, and taking something in isolation without understanding the whole picture is not a great idea, so for realz – talk to your doctor.  For example, to be absorbed, Vitamin D needs to be taken with fat.  It works together with Magnesium, Phosphorus, Vitamin K and Calcium, and others, all in different amounts.  Messing up the balance of your body is a bad idea.]

3. Get yourself some high quality, homemade chicken broth and keep it in the freezer just in case you need it.  (Worse case, you make soup in the spring.)  You don’t want to be traipsing around with a 104 degree fever looking for the stuff when you’re sick and then settling for some MSG-laden crap.  In my humble opinion, there is NOTHING better for a cold or flu than rest and chicken broth.

4. Keep some natural remedies on hand.  Photos of the stuff I use are below, and explanations are after that.

For Cold & Flu Season

From left to right: Traditional Medicinals tea in “Breathe Easy ” and “Throat Coat” flavors, Now brand Tru-C (Vit C), Quantum Thera Zinc Spray, Green Pastures Fermented Cod Liver Oil and High Vitamin Butter Oil, Carlson’s Cod Liver Oil and Oregano Oil.

Aside from consistently taking SOMETHING to raise your vitamin D levels if they are low, I consider oregano oil and zinc spray the be my main first defenses if feel a cold/flu coming on.   My oregano oil is Integral Yoga’s own brand, and I put a 1-3 drops under my tongue when I feel a sickness coming on.  Warning: it is very strong and it burns, and it upsets my stomach a tiny bit.  I’m not telling you it’s a cure for colds and flus (or anything else for that matter), I’m telling you I take it and I like it for certain uses.  BUT USE WITH CAUTION, talk to a doctor about it, you can mix it with something else, and I would not give it to a child.  I have a post on the zinc spray here.  Oh, and when I take the Vitamin C, I break open the capsule and put it under my tongue.  It is incredibly sour.  Have water handy.

Cough Syrup and Goldenseal

I’ve been using Honey Gardens Wild Cherry Bark Cough Syrup for years. I use Goldenseal for sinus infections.

Again, remember, I’m not telling you that any of this stuff cures anything… I’m just saying it’s what I use.  Talk to your doctor.  A warning on the goldenseal – this is a tincture, and I put a few drops under my tongue if I feel nasal / sinus congestion coming on.  It tastes HORRIBLE, and it upsets my stomach a little bit, but it has often helped me.  I would not use this on a child, because it tastes so bad, but your doctor can direct you more knowledgeably than I can.

5. You should have some sort of electrolyte solution on hand just in case you get sick, and I don’t like Gatorade or a sports drink for that situation, because there’s too much sugar and other stuff in drinks like that.  I like Smart Water, or clear, unflavored Pedialyte (which kind of tastes nasty), but I think your best bet to have around is probably Oral Rehydration Salts or something similar.

6.  A humidifier is also a great idea (my buying guide), but only if you use it and keep it very clean.  If you need to steam yourself in a pinch, Boil an inch or so of water in a pot, wait about 5 minutes or so, then put it on a burn proof oven mitt or something stable and nonflammable like that in a stable area FAR AWAY FROM THE STOVE OR FIRE and put your face about a foot or two above it with a towel over your head, so the steam doesn’t escape.  Start far away and move closer in a comfortable range, to make sure you don’t burn yourself or your nasal passages.  Then breathe in to get that warm, moist air in your sinuses and lungs.  It might help loosen up mucous so you can get it out.

UPDATE: My friend Suzanne just asked me “Why not steam over the pot you boiled the water in (not on the stove)?” I answered “Because the pot will be too hot and you risk burning your furniture (even with hot pads), yourself (it’s likely you will touch the pot, even inadvertently) and/or your nasal passages/face because the pot itself will keep the water too hot.  Pour into an unheated pot or bowl.

7.  A few other things: sleep is super important, so is exercise and moving around.  Large muscle movement (walking, running, cardio, etc.) moves lymph around your body and helps you stay healthy.  Don’t eat sugar/sweet treats/junk when you feel like you are getting sick.  I think it just makes everything worse and your body more susceptible.  Wash your hands well with warm, soapy water before you eat, touch your face, scratch your nose, wipe your eyes, put on make up, touch your mouth, etc.  It makes a difference.  Have some wipes in your bag, so you can clean your hands if you’re not around a sink.  I use the Cleanwell pocket pack of wipes.

My kid doesn’t stay asleep anymore. What can I do?

July 10, 2013

Talk to your doctor.  There can be all sorts of reasons why and a blog can’t answer that.  HOWEVER, if nothing is obviously wrong, ask your doctor if you can try a children’s multivitamin with iron.  Don’t play around with vitamins or your child’s health.  Ask your doctor.  If your child’s doctor won’t respond to a quick email or phone call on a simple question like this, think about getting a new doctor.  Seriously.

A friend of mine just told me that within 3 days of taking a daily children’s multivitamin with iron, her four year old was sleeping through the night for the first time in YEARS.  When she asked some friends who were pediatricians about it, they all said something to the effect of “Oh yeah, that usually works,” and she thought “YOU KNOW I HAVE BEEN SUFFERING AND YOU DID NOT TELL ME?!”

My friend told me this in the midst of a month-or-so-long issue of my 9 year old waking up in the night more often than he ever has before.  I decided to try a basic children’s multivitamin I found in Whole Foods (see picture below), and bam!  He was sleeping through the night again.  I waited more than a week to write this post to see how it would work.  Also, there was one day he forgot to take it, and he was restless during the night and got up once (but went right back to sleep).  I know it’s not hard science or anything, but that was my experience (and that of a friend) and if your doctor thinks it is okay, it’s worth a try.

Multivitamin with Iron

This was the least-offensive children’s multivitamin with iron that I could find during a quick and casual search at Whole Foods.

Brain supplements?

October 18, 2012

Don’t solely rely on anything I write about supplements for your brain or for anything else.  I am just some random blogger that you should not trust implicitly.  Use blogs, news articles, social media, etc. to get ideas.  Then, talk to real experts and do your own research on those ideas!  Think critically, look behind the claim, try your best to find evidence against the claim, read peer-reviewed journals.  Medical doctors are usually a great source of information as well.*

I met a true expert in brain supplements this afternoon at my favorite natural food and supplement store, Integral Yoga.  His name is Dr. Parris Kidd, and in talking with him at length today, seems to really know what he’s talking about.  Granted, I’m just an aforementioned random blogger, but check out his stuff for yourself.

Dr. Parris Kidd

Dr. Parris Kidd

I didn’t realize it when I was talking to him, but I already knew of him!  A very good friend of mine read Dr. Kidd’s book PS (PhosphatidylSerine) Nature’s Brain Booster A Vital Lipid Nutrient For Memory Mood And Stress and had wonderful success using PS with her daughter who was diagnosed with ADD.  If you have concerns about your own brain health and/or memory, or you have loved ones who suffer from ADD, ADHD, Alzheimer’s or dementia, you should check out what Dr. Kidd has to say.  I think he is working on formulations with Doctor’s Best supplements, and I will definitely be researching their Curcumin, Polyphenols, Natural Brain Enhancers, Best DHA and Magnesium.

Just a note: My own doctor (who is an MD, and is also highly knowledgeable about and respected in the field of complementary and alternative medicine) has recommended Doctor’s Best supplements to me in the past (he doesn’t sell them, nor is he affiliated with the company in any way), so his endorsement also bodes well for the brand, I think.

*  If you are genuinely concerned about your health and will work hard to make it better, and are not just satisfied to take some prescription medication, then you should have a doctor that has ideas about complimentary medicine, supplements, nutrition, exercise, stress management and all of the many natural pillars of health, in addition to current and confirmed knowledge of western medicine as well.  If your doctor skirts the issue, doesn’t take your concerns seriously, suggests little more than prescriptions and OTC medications, find a new doctor.  Prescriptions and western medicine are beneficial and at times, miraculous, but there is a wide, wide world of alternatives.

Alert: It’s time for you to start your cold and flu season regimen!

October 1, 2012

Today is October first, which means that if you live in the Northern Hemisphere above the 37th parallel (I’m talking to you, New York, San Francisco, Chicago, St. Louis, etc.), you are not going to be getting your Vitamin D from the sun until late March/early April.  Having inadequate levels of Vitamin D as shown on a Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] test (<50 nmol/L or <20 ng/mL, according to this article from the National Institutes of Health site) could impact your immunity, along with a whole host of other health conditions.  (Just google “Vitamin D immunity” and critically look at what you find and then talk to your doctor!)

The best way to get Vitamin D is from the proper, timely sun exposure, but in lieu of that in the winter months, one of the many ways to get it is from Cod Liver Oil.  My favorite brand of Cod Liver Oil is currently on sale, through tomorrow, at Whole Foods (at least in the NYC area).

Cod Liver Oil

Carlson’s Lemon Flavor Cod Liver Oil is currently on sale through tomorrow at Whole Foods (at least in the NYC area). I would get some if I were you!

Personally, I take 2 tablespoons of it a day plus a Vitamin D supplement (because I am near deficient, according to the test above).  Maybe it’s related, maybe it’s not, but I haven’t had a flu or a serious cold since I seriously started on this regimen, and I never get the flu shot.  Perhaps it is coincidence – who knows?

However, if you are interested, you should talk to your doctor about it before taking it.  If you feel like your doctor doesn’t know anything about it, or brushes off your concern, or worse yet, just mindlessly pushes a flu vaccine on you instead, you should think about getting a new doctor.  All nutrients, foods and your own body chemistry work together, and taking something in isolation without understanding the whole picture is not a great idea.  For example, to be absorbed, Vitamin D needs to be taken with fat.  It works together with Magnesium, Phosphorus, Vitamin K and Calcium, and others, all in different amounts.  Messing up the balance of your body is a bad idea.  Gather information on your own in order to ask informed questions of experts (don’t just rely on some layperson blogger like myself).

Speaking of immunity, see these prior, seasonal posts of mine:

When should I start my cold and flu season regimen?

September 19, 2011

If you haven’t already, start right now!  Today, September 19!  Build up your immunity now, so you’re ready for the onslaught!  I think the most important things you can do now are get your Vitamin D levels up, get the bacteria in your gut in good shape and get into the habit of washing your hands (all these are explained, and more — see below).

Home made ginger and turmeric root tea is a cold and flu season favorite!

Home made ginger and turmeric root tea is a cold and flu season favorite!

Get proactive about cold and flu season this year:

  • Get some sun on your entire body to maximize your Vitamin D! (Sandy Hook, NJ has a clothing-optional beach, btw, and the last ferry of the year is this Sunday!)  By “some sun,” I mean 10-12 minutes each side, around noon, no sunscreen, and don’t shower for as long as you can manage after exposure.  Any more sun than that per day, and you risk getting sunburned, which will inhibit your ability to get Vitamin D from the sun.  If you can’t make it to a beach, then lay out in the skimpiest attire you can manage.  You want maximum surface area exposed — your face and arms are not enough.  You’ll get a LOT more Vitamin D from safe exposure to the sun than you will from a supplement, but if you have to go the supplement route, take Vitamin D3 (not D2) with a meal that has fat in it.  I take 2500 units a day – talk to your health professional about your own dosing.  In New York, you only have until the end of September to get a good amount of Vitamin D from the sun.  So, get your ass in the sun!
  • You need good bacteria in your gut.  Just google gut bacteria and any health condition you can think of, and you’ll see that it pretty much helps with everything, especially immunity.  I like New Chapter probiotics in general.  they’re expensive, but I feel like they do things right.  Also, I like it because there are either 9 or 10 different strains of beneficial bacteria and you need diversity in your gut as well as quantity of bacteria.  They put the additional things in there, too, like a pre-biotic (basically food for the good bacteria).  I have taken this product for a year (when I need it – not daily, but I’d say I average a spoonful every week), and I feel it has worked for me.  After I had bacterial pneumonia a few years ago, I built up my bacteria after very heavy antibiotic use and I took almost a half bottle of probiotics a DAY and had no ill effects.  Reminder: I am not a doctor or even someone who does this professionally, so you should totally run all this past your doctor or nutritionist or whoever it is that you trust in this area.
  • If you are not already, get into the habit of washing your hands!  Make sure you wash them well before all meals and before you touch your mouth, nose, ears or eyes.  Keep a packet of wipes in your bag or pocket.  I like CleanWell wipes because they are natural, don’t use alcohol (so they are not drying) and the smell is not offensive.  Teach your kids to wash or wipe their hands before all meals and snacks.
  • Get your sick kit together.  Here are my recommendations from last year.
  • Get a good humidifier.  Here are my recommendations on what to look for in a humidifier.
  • Note: Vitamin C is a great thing to take for colds, especially when you feel one coming on.  If you’re going to buy some, try to get any whole-food version of it, such as Tru-C or Truly Natural Vitamin C.  Also, crazy blood sugar swings mess up your immunity (and pretty much everything in your body), so go easy on the sugar and alcohol, and while you’re at it, get some sleep.  All that helps, too.


If you like raw sauerkraut, eating it can be a great way to get Vitamin C and beneficial bacteria all winter long!

When should I start taking vitamin D?

September 27, 2010

Now.  If you need vitamin D (and I think most people do, but it’s wise to check with your doctor via a 25(OH)D, also called 25-hydroxyvitamin D test), the time to start taking it is now.  I have taken Jarrow Formulas Vitamin D3 in the past and have been happy with it, but I prefer to get my vitamin D from cod liver oil because I think it’s got all of the co-factors for bioavailability and it has a lot of DHA and EPA.  Plus, vitamin D should be taken with fat, and there’s a good amount (and the right kind) of fat in cod liver oil.

I personally like Carlson brand Norwegian Cod Liver Oil in lemon flavor, and it is on sale at Whole Foods through tomorrow (9/27/10).  I just bought a 16.9 fl oz bottle today for $35.19, versus the regular price of $40.99.  The Vitamin Shoppe has a web-only special right now for $23.07)

A 1 teaspoon serving has 400 IU of Vitamin D3, 500 mg of DHA, 400 mg of EPA and 40 mg of ALA.  I try to take a tablespoon a day during cold and flu season and I feel it has a very significant cold and flu fighting effect if I get it started early enough in the season.  Speaking of cold and flu season, see what is in my sick kit and more cold and flu items.

Meal Replacements and Protein Drinks?

April 12, 2010

I haven’t tried that many, but my favorite meal replacement is Amazing Grass Amazing Meal Original Blend.  It tastes pretty bad, but makes me feel great after a work out.   My favorite protein drink is Progressive Nutritional Therapies Harmonized Protein Unflavored*.

Here is a spreadsheet comparing:

Here are products I wish I tried but haven’t so far:

*Thanks to Claire for telling me about Harmonized Protein.

Iron Supplement?

March 1, 2010

Imagine my chagrin when a friend emailed me to tell me she searched my blog and there was no mention of an iron supplement!  Sorry.  Here are some suggestions:

  • Floradix or Floravit (the same as Floradix, but is yeast-free) – I like these because there are no preservatives (you have to keep them in the refrigerator and use an open bottle within 30 days), they are highly bioavailable and are non-constipating.
  • New Chapter Every Woman’s Iron Support – I like the way New Chapter does things.  It’s very holistic and comprehensive and food based.  These are non-constipating as well.  Great for travel (whereas Floradix and Floravit are not, because they require refrigeration).  However, one thing I wish was different about this particular iron product is that it had less B vitamins in it.  You need B vitamins with the iron for better absorption, but I don’t like to go overboard on B vitamins because there is a link between B vitamin supplementation and cancer, though the relationship is complex and not statistically significant.  I just like to play it safe.

What the hell is dulse?

February 25, 2010

Dulse is a sea vegetable that is (I won’t lie to you) mildly yucky, super good for you, and one that I am going to pressure you to eat.  I have tricked myself into liking it by using a happy, enthusiastic inner voice and marketing it to myself as “BACON OF THE SEA!”  The truth is that it is nothing like bacon, my favorite meat, reserved only for special occasions.  I could write poems and sing songs about bacon.  I should take some to an Olin Mills photo studio and get some portraits done, I love it so much.  I would wear it, but it would not last long in my presence.

Ok, enough about bacon (food of the gods).  Dulse.  Dulse is so good for you, that it’s totally worth trying to hide it in other foods, and/or playing strange mind games with yourself to encourage consumption.  It’s hard to find a food with so much wonderful mineral content in it.  Check out these stats (7 g = about 1/3 of a cup).  Eat ANY of these sea vegetables, and you’ll be doing great things for your body.  I’d recommend kelp, but man, that’s really yucky, as opposed to mildly yucky like dulse (although I do like kelp in some Japanese soups).

The dulse I like best is Maine Coast Sea Vegetables brand “Smoked with Applewood” dulse.  I have gotten to the point where I can eat a serving just as is, if I really need to.  However, if you’re really not into sea vegetables, you can get the flakes to sprinkle on a salad or in soup (after heating).  Seriously, it’s really worth talking yourself into eating this stuff.

Note: if you’re eating sea vegetables like dulse on a regular basis, use natural salt (like Celtic Sea salt) in your kitchen, as opposed to the processed, gross, iodized salt.  Dulse has a ton of iodine in it.  You probably won’t need any more, but talk to your doctor about it, if you are unsure of what kind of iodine requirements you need (iodine is important for your thyroid – your doctor should know about it).

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