Young Girl upset about acne with towel wrapped around her hair

Can Allergies Cause Acne? Debunking the Myths and Exploring the Facts

girl with acne touching her face

Acne is a common skin condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It often manifests as pimples, blackheads, and whiteheads on the face, chest, and back. While several factors contribute to acne, such as genetics, hormonal changes, and skincare routines, there is an ongoing debate about whether allergies can also play a role in the development of acne breakouts. This comprehensive blog post will delve into the relationship between allergies and acne, exploring popular myths and scientific evidence.

Young Girl upset about acne with towel wrapped around her hair

Understanding Acne

Before we dive into the connection between allergies and acne, it’s essential to understand what acne is and how it develops.

What is Acne?

Acne, scientifically known as acne vulgaris, is a skin condition when hair follicles become clogged with oil and dead skin cells. This may lead to the formation of pimples, blackheads, and whiteheads. Acne typically appears on the face, but it can also affect the chest, back, and other body areas.

The Role of Hormones

One of the primary factors contributing to acne is hormonal changes, especially during adolescence. Hormones like testosterone can stimulate the sebaceous glands to produce more oil, which can clog pores and lead to acne breakouts.

Other Factors Influencing Acne

In addition to hormones, several other factors can influence the development of acne:

  • Genetics: Family history can play a role in determining your susceptibility to acne.
  • Diet: Some studies suggest a connection between high-glycemic diets and acne.
  • Skincare Products: Certain products, especially comedogenic ones, can contribute to acne.
  • Environmental Factors: Pollution and humidity can exacerbate acne symptoms.

Now that we have a solid understanding of acne, let’s explore the link between allergies and acne.

girl holding a chocolate bar pointing at an acne blemish on her face

Debunking Myths

Myth: Allergic Reactions Cause Acne

One common myth is that allergic reactions to certain foods or substances can cause acne. While allergies can undoubtedly cause skin reactions, such as hives or eczema, the connection between allergies and acne is more complex.

Myth: Food Allergies Trigger Acne

Another myth suggests that food allergies, especially to dairy or high-glycemic foods, can trigger acne breakouts. This theory has gained popularity, but scientific evidence is limited and inconclusive.

Closeup of facial acne

Exploring the Allergy-Acne Connection

Skin Allergies vs. Acne

It’s important to differentiate between skin allergies and acne. Skin allergies manifest as redness, itching, hives, or rashes, whereas acne presents as pimples, blackheads, and whiteheads. These are distinct skin conditions with different causes.

Can Allergies Exacerbate Acne?

While allergies may not directly cause acne, some researchers suggest that allergic reactions can exacerbate existing acne or worsen skin inflammation. The relationship here is complex and varies from person to person.

Allergic Reactions and Inflammation

The Role of Inflammation

Inflammation is a common factor in both allergies and acne. Allergic reactions trigger the release of histamines and other inflammatory mediators in the body. Acne, on the other hand, is characterized by inflammation within the hair follicles and sebaceous glands. This shared inflammatory element has sparked interest in the potential connection between allergies and acne.

Allergic Contact Dermatitis

Allergic contact dermatitis is a type of skin inflammation caused by exposure to allergens. This condition can lead to redness, itching, and swelling, often resembling acne. However, it’s important to note that this is a separate condition from traditional acne.

Identifying Allergies and Acne Triggers

Skin Allergy Testing

Allergy testing conducted by a dermatologist is a diagnostic procedure used to identify specific allergens contributing to skin-related issues, such as allergic contact dermatitis or other skin allergies. Here is an overview of common allergy testing methods performed by dermatologists:

Patch Testing:

Patch testing is the most common method dermatologists use to identify contact allergens that may be causing skin reactions. This test helps diagnose allergic contact dermatitis, a condition in which the skin reacts to allergens upon contact. Here’s how patch testing typically works:

    • Preparation: Your dermatologist will select a set of common allergens based on your medical history and suspected triggers. These allergens are usually in the form of patches or strips.
    • Application: The dermatologist will apply the allergen patches to your skin, typically on your upper back or another area that’s easily covered by clothing. Each patch contains a specific allergen.
    • Adherence: The patches are secured to your skin with hypoallergenic tape to ensure they remain in place.
    • Waiting Period: You will wear the patches for about 48 hours while avoiding activities that might dislodge them, such as excessive sweating or getting the area wet.
    • Removal: After 48 hours, the dermatologist will remove the patches, marking the locations on your skin.
    • Reading the Results: A follow-up appointment is scheduled 48-96 hours after removing patches. The dermatologist will examine your skin to check for any allergic reactions at the patch sites, such as redness, swelling, or itching. This helps identify specific allergens that trigger the reactions.

Photopatch Testing:

Photopatch testing is a variation of patch testing used to diagnose photoallergic contact dermatitis. This condition occurs when a substance becomes allergenic upon exposure to sunlight. The procedure is similar to standard patch testing. Still, the patches are exposed to the allergen and controlled UV light during testing.

Skin Prick Testing (SPT):

Although less commonly performed by dermatologists, skin prick testing is another method to identify allergens. Allergists more frequently conduct it. This test involves applying a drop of allergen extract to the skin’s surface, typically on the forearm or back, and then gently pricking the skin through the drop with a sterile lancet. Suppose you are allergic to a specific allergen. In that case, you will develop a small raised bump and itching at the test site within 15-20 minutes.

Blood Allergy Tests:

Dermatologists may also order blood tests, such as specific IgE antibody tests, to identify allergens causing skin issues. These tests measure the levels of specific antibodies (IgE) your immune system produces in response to allergens. While blood tests can provide valuable information about systemic allergies, patch testing for identifying contact allergens is more precise.

Once the dermatologist has identified the specific allergens responsible for your skin reactions, they can provide guidance on allergen avoidance, recommend suitable skincare products, and develop a treatment plan tailored to your condition. Allergy testing is a valuable tool in diagnosing and managing skin allergies, helping patients find relief from their symptoms and improve their skin health.


young lady getting beauty product applied to her face

Common Allergy Triggers

Common allergens that could potentially exacerbate skin conditions like acne include:

Foods: Some individuals may have sensitivities or allergies to certain foods that can lead to skin reactions. Here is a list of foods that may lead to those pesky red bumps 

    • High-Glycemic Foods: Foods with a high glycemic index (GI) can cause rapid spikes in blood sugar levels, leading to increased insulin production. This, in turn, may contribute to inflammation and increased oil production in the skin, potentially worsening acne. High-GI foods include sugary snacks, white bread, white rice, and processed cereals.
    • Dairy Products: Some studies have suggested a connection between dairy consumption and acne. Dairy products contain hormones and growth factors that can influence the skin. Skim milk, in particular, has been associated with a higher risk of acne.
    • Fast Food and Junk Food: Highly processed and greasy fast foods often contain unhealthy fats and sugars. These foods can lead to inflammation and may contribute to acne breakouts.
    • Sugary Foods: Excessive sugar intake can lead to inflammation and insulin resistance, potentially aggravating acne. Sugar-sweetened beverages, candies, and desserts are common sources of high sugar intake.
    • Chocolate: While the relationship between chocolate and acne is debated, some individuals report acne flare-ups after consuming chocolate. It may not be the chocolate itself, but some chocolate products’ sugar and dairy content contribute to skin issues.
    • Fried and Fatty Foods: High-fat and fried foods can lead to inflammation and may worsen acne in some people.
    • Iodine-Rich Foods: Iodine, found in high amounts in certain foods like seafood and iodized salt, has been associated with acne exacerbation in some individuals.
    • Spicy Foods: Spicy foods can dilate blood vessels and potentially lead to increased facial redness and inflammation in those prone to acne.
    • Processed and High-Sodium Foods: Highly processed and salty foods can cause water retention and inflammation, affecting the skin’s appearance.
    • Nuts: While nuts are generally considered a healthy snack, some individuals may find that certain nuts, like peanuts, can trigger acne breakouts.

Skincare Products

  • While intended to improve and maintain skin health, skincare products can sometimes contribute to or worsen acne in susceptible individuals. This occurs due to a variety of factors, and it’s essential to understand how skin care products can potentially cause or exacerbate acne:
    1. Comedogenic Ingredients: Some skincare products contain comedogenic ingredients, meaning they tend to clog pores. These ingredients can trap sebum (skin oil) and dead skin cells, leading to the formation of acne. Common comedogenic elements include certain oils (like coconut oil), butter, and waxes.
    2. Overly Rich or Heavy Products: Skincare products that are too heavy or rich for your skin type can create an excess of oil on the skin’s surface. This can contribute to the development of acne, especially for individuals with oily or combination skin.
    3. Fragrances and Irritants: Fragrances and certain irritating ingredients found in skincare products can cause inflammation in the skin, which may lead to acne breakouts. It’s important to note that what irritates one person’s skin may not irritate another’s, as individual sensitivities vary.
    4. Incompatibility with Other Products: Layering skincare products that are incompatible with one another can lead to skin issues, including acne. For example, mixing certain active ingredients can cause irritation and breakouts.
    5. Improper Cleansing: Failing to remove makeup and skincare products thoroughly can leave residue on the skin, potentially clogging pores and contributing to acne.
    6. Not Matching Products to Skin Type: Using inappropriate skincare products for your skin type can disrupt the skin’s natural balance and lead to breakouts. For instance, using products formulated for dry skin when you have oily skin can worsen acne.
    7. Excessive Exfoliation: Over-exfoliating the skin, whether through physical exfoliants or chemical exfoliants like alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs), can cause skin irritation and increased susceptibility to acne.
    8. Use of Incorrect or Expired Products: Using expired products or those unsuitable for your skin type can lead to skin issues, including acne. It’s essential to check product labels and discontinue use if a product has passed its expiration date.
    9. Not Patch Testing New Products: To be safe, introducing a new skincare product requires conducting a patch test first. Before applying it to your entire face, patch testing helps determine whether a product will cause adverse reactions, including acne.
  • To avoid skincare products causing acne, consider the following tips:
    1. Choose non-comedogenic products labeled as suitable for your skin type.
    2. Be cautious with new products and patch test when introducing them into your routine.
    3. Follow a consistent and gentle skincare routine.
    4. Read ingredient lists and avoid known irritants or comedogenic ingredients.
    5. Consult a dermatologist if you have persistent acne or skin issues to develop a personalized skincare regimen.
  • Remember that everyone’s skin is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another. Pay attention to your skin’s reactions and adjust your skincare routine accordingly to achieve the best results for your individual needs.

Environmental Allergens

  • Environmental allergens typically do not directly cause acne in the traditional sense. Acne, primarily associated with excess oil production, clogged pores, and inflammation, is not typically triggered by exposure to environmental allergens like pollen, dust, or pet dander. However, there are some indirect ways in which environmental allergens can contribute to skin issues, including acne:
    1. Increased Skin Sensitivity: Allergic reactions to environmental allergens can lead to skin sensitivity and irritation. While this sensitivity doesn’t directly cause acne, it can make the skin more reactive and susceptible to other acne triggers, such as skincare products or excess oil production.
    2. Rubbing and Scratching: Allergic reactions often cause itching and discomfort. Continuous rubbing or scratching of the affected area can lead to physical irritation, potentially worsening existing acne lesions or causing new ones to form.
    3. Secondary Skin Infections: In some cases, persistent itching and scratching due to environmental allergies can damage the skin’s protective barrier, making it more vulnerable to bacterial or fungal infections. These infections can lead to skin issues that may resemble or worsen acne.


yound stressed out lady looking at laptop

Acne and Stress

Dealing with allergies and their symptoms can be stressful. Stress, a well-known acne trigger, can potentially lead to or exacerbate acne breakouts.

Stress can contribute to the development or exacerbation of acne through various mechanisms:

  • Hormonal Changes: Stress triggers the release of stress hormones, such as cortisol, from the adrenal glands. These hormones can stimulate the skin’s sebaceous (oil) glands to produce more oil. Excess oil and dead skin cells can clog pores and create an environment favorable for acne-causing bacteria.
  • Inflammation: Stress also promotes inflammation in the body, including the skin. Inflammatory substances can lead to the redness, swelling, and tenderness commonly associated with acne lesions. This inflammation can make existing acne lesions more noticeable and potentially lead to the development of new ones.
  • Impaired Immune Response: Chronic stress can weaken the immune system, making it less effective at fighting off bacteria and other pathogens contributing to acne. This weakened immune response can allow acne-causing bacteria to flourish on the skin.
  • Altered Skin Barrier Function: Stress can compromise the skin’s protective barrier function. A weakened skin barrier can lead to increased water loss, dryness, and vulnerability to external factors, potentially making the skin more prone to irritation and acne.
  • Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms: People under stress may resort to harmful coping mechanisms, such as picking or squeezing acne lesions, which can worsen inflammation, increase the risk of infection, and lead to scarring.
  • Changes in Skincare Routine: During periods of stress, individuals may neglect their skincare routines, leading to a buildup of dead skin cells and oil on the skin’s surface. This can exacerbate existing acne or contribute to new breakouts.
  • Sleep Disturbances: Stress often disrupts sleep patterns, leading to inadequate or poor-quality sleep. Sleep is crucial for skin repair and regeneration, and sleep deprivation can hinder the skin’s ability to heal, potentially worsening acne.

It’s important to note that not everyone will experience acne due to stress, and how stress influences acne can vary from person to person. Some individuals may be more sensitive to the effects of stress on their skin. In contrast, others may not notice a significant impact.

To manage stress-related acne or prevent stress-induced breakouts, it’s essential to focus on stress management techniques:

  • Stress Reduction: Engage in stress-reduction practices such as exercise, meditation, deep breathing, and yoga.
  • Healthy Lifestyle: Maintain a balanced diet, exercise regularly, and prioritize sleep.
  • Skincare Routine: Stick to a gentle and consistent skincare routine, avoiding harsh products that can irritate the skin.
  • Avoiding Aggravating Factors: Avoid picking or squeezing acne lesions, which can worsen inflammation and cause scarring.
  • Consult a Healthcare Professional: If stress-related acne becomes a persistent issue, consult a dermatologist or healthcare provider for personalized treatment and management strategies.

By managing stress and adopting a healthy lifestyle, you can help minimize the impact of stress on your skin and reduce the risk of acne breakouts.


Managing Allergies and Acne

Managing acne involves a comprehensive approach that includes skincare, lifestyle adjustments, and, in some cases, medical treatments. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to manage acne effectively:

Establish a Gentle Skincare Routine:

    • Use a mild, non-comedogenic (won’t clog pores) cleanser twice daily to remove dirt, excess oil, and makeup.
    • Avoid scrubbing the skin vigorously, as this can irritate and worsen acne.
    • Use lukewarm water for cleansing; hot water can strip the skin of its natural oils.

Choose Suitable Skincare Products:

    • Select skincare products labeled as non-comedogenic and suitable for your skin type (e.g., oily, dry, combination).
    • Use a fragrance-free moisturizer if your skin feels dry or tight. Even oily skin needs hydration.

Limit Harsh Products:

    • Avoid harsh exfoliants or astringents, which can irritate the skin and exacerbate acne.
    • Be cautious with DIY remedies and home treatments, as some may be too abrasive.

Hands Off:

    • Avoid touching your face, picking, or squeezing acne lesions. This can worsen inflammation and lead to scarring.

Use Sunscreen:

    • Apply a broad-spectrum, oil-free sunscreen daily, especially if using acne medications. Look for products labeled as “non-comedogenic.”

Diet and Hydration:

    • Maintain a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.
    • Limit high-glycemic foods, dairy, and processed sugars if they trigger acne.
    • Stay well-hydrated by drinking plenty of water.

Stress Management:

    • Practice stress-reduction techniques such as meditation, yoga, exercise, and deep breathing to help manage stress-related acne.

Regular Exercise:

    • Engage in regular physical activity to improve circulation and reduce stress. Just be sure to cleanse your skin after sweating to prevent clogged pores.

Avoid Environmental Triggers:

    • Be mindful of factors like humidity, pollution, and excessive heat that can aggravate acne. Adjust your skincare routine accordingly.

Consult a Dermatologist:

    • If over-the-counter treatments aren’t effective, consult a dermatologist for professional guidance.
    • Your dermatologist can recommend prescription-strength topical treatments, oral medications, or procedures like chemical peels or laser therapy.

Follow Medical Advice:

    • If prescribed acne medications, follow your dermatologist’s instructions carefully.
    • Understand that acne treatments may take time to show results, and you may experience temporary side effects.

Acne Scarring:

    • If you have acne scars, consult a dermatologist about potential treatments like laser therapy, microneedling, or chemical peels.

Be Patient:

    • Acne management is often a gradual process. Consistency and patience are vital to seeing improvement.

Remember that what works for one person may not work for another, so it’s crucial to tailor your acne management plan to your specific needs and skin type. Consulting with a dermatologist is valuable in developing a personalized approach to manage your acne and achieve clearer, healthier skin effectively.

In the quest to understand the factors contributing to acne, the role of allergies has been debated. While acne is a common skin condition with well-established causes such as hormonal changes, genetics, and skincare routines, the connection between allergies and acne is more complex and nuanced. Through this comprehensive exploration, we have sought to debunk myths and shed light on the relationship between allergies and acne.

First and foremost, it’s crucial to clarify that allergies, whether to foods, environmental triggers, or skincare products, are not a direct cause of acne. Acne, scientifically known as acne vulgaris, primarily results from the clogging of hair follicles with oil and dead skin cells. While allergies can lead to various skin reactions, including redness, itching, and rashes, the relationship between allergies and acne is multifaceted.

We’ve debunked myths suggesting allergic reactions directly cause acne or that food allergies, particularly dairy or high-glycemic foods, trigger acne breakouts. While anecdotal evidence may offer a connection, scientific studies have provided limited and inconclusive support for these claims.

In our exploration, we’ve highlighted the importance of distinguishing between skin allergies and acne. Skin allergies can manifest as redness, hives, or rashes and are distinct from the characteristic pimples, blackheads, and whiteheads of acne.

While allergies may not directly cause acne, they can still influence skin health. Allergic reactions can exacerbate existing acne or contribute to skin inflammation. Inflammation is a common factor in allergies and acne, and this shared inflammatory element has led to interest in their potential connection.

To identify allergies and acne triggers, we’ve discussed the significance of skin allergy testing conducted by dermatologists. Methods such as patch testing and skin prick testing help pinpoint specific allergens responsible for skin reactions. Identifying these allergens allows for allergen avoidance, suitable skincare product selection, and personalized treatment plans.

We’ve also explored common allergy triggers that could worsen acne, including certain foods, high-glycemic diets, dairy products, and fast food. Additionally, we’ve discussed the role of skincare products in acne exacerbation, emphasizing the importance of choosing non-comedogenic, skin-appropriate products and following a consistent skincare routine.

Lastly, we’ve delved into the indirect ways environmental allergens and stress can affect acne.

While environmental allergens do not typically cause acne, they can increase skin sensitivity, promote itching and scratching, and even indirectly worsen acne through stress-induced mechanisms.

Stress, a well-known trigger for acne, can lead to hormonal changes, inflammation, impaired immune responses, and unhealthy coping behaviors, all of which can influence the development and exacerbation of acne.

In the end, managing both allergies and acne involves a multifaceted approach that prioritizes skincare, lifestyle adjustments, and, in some cases, medical treatments. By adopting a gentle skincare routine, choosing suitable products, maintaining a balanced diet, managing stress, and consulting with a dermatologist when needed, individuals can effectively manage acne and improve their skin health.

Remembering that skincare is highly individualized, and what works for one person may not work for another. By staying informed, being patient, and seeking professional guidance when necessary, individuals can navigate the complexities of allergies and acne to achieve clearer, healthier skin.

Michael Brown in Lab Coat with arms crossed

Michael J. Brown, RPh, BCPS, BCPP

Mr. Brown is a Clinical Pharmacist specializing in pharmacotherapy and psychiatry.

Read Michael’s story here.

Feel free to send Michael a message using this link.


Disclosure:  This post may contain affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission if you click on, or make a purchase through a third-party link.

9 Best Herbs For Focus

herbs in a mortal and pestal

Are you looking for something to improve your concentration?

 Do you want increased energy levels and mental clarity? 

This post will review several herbal supplements that can improve brain function, boost energy levels, and enhance cognitive performance.

Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm

Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is an herb that has been used for centuries to promote calmness, reduce stress and anxiety, and improve cognitive function. Some studies suggest that it may help improve focus and concentration.

A study published in the journal “Nutrients” found that lemon balm extract improved cognitive performance and mood in healthy young adults. The researchers attributed these effects to the herb’s ability to modulate neurotransmitters, including acetylcholine, which is involved in learning and memory.1

Lemon balm, in combination with valerian root, passionflower, and butterbur extracts (Ze 185), has been shown to decrease the need for benzodiazepines in some patients.2

 These studies suggest that it may be a useful natural remedy for improving cognitive function and reducing stress and anxiety. 

Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo Biloba

Like lemon balm, Ginkgo Biloba has a variety of health benefits. It is a powerful antioxidant that can decrease oxidative stress by neutralizing free radicals. One study published in 2002 showed Ginkgo Biloba may enhance memory in healthy individuals 60 years of age and older.3

Another study showed Ginkgo Biloba was effective in improving mental status scores in patients with Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment.4

It is important to note that not all studies have confirmed these findings. 

Ginko Biloba is a very popular natural herb, and in the book “Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbs for Longevity and Well-Being,” it is named as her number one herb of longevity.

Gotu Kola

Gotu Kola

Gotu Kola is an herb related to parsley. This ayurvedic herb has been used for wound healing, circulation, and burns. 

Gotu kola (Centella Asiatica) is an herb that has been traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine to improve cognitive function, memory, and concentration. Some studies have investigated the effects of gotu kola on focus and concentration.

One study found that a combination of gotu kola and Bacopa monnieri (another herb traditionally used for cognitive enhancement) improved cognitive function, attention, and working memory in healthy adults.5

An article in Trends in Food Science & Technology concluded  C. asiatica can be neuroprotective and targets multiple disease pathways to fight neurodegenerative disorders.6


Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is an adaptogenic herb that has been routinely used in Ayurvedic medicine to improve cognitive function, including memory, concentration, and mental focus. Some studies have investigated the effects of ashwagandha on mental focus.

One study published in the Journal of Dietary Supplements found that ashwagandha root extract improved cognitive function, including attention and information processing speed, in healthy adults.7

A separate study found Ashwagandha can enhance memory, reduce brain aging and stress.8

A review of several studies published in the Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine found ashwagandha has potential as a natural cognitive enhancer, particularly for improving memory and attention.9

Bacopa Monnieri

Bacopa monnieri is an herb traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine to enhance cognitive function, including memory and focus. Several studies have investigated the effects of Bacopa monnieri on focus and concentration.

One study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that Bacopa monnieri improved cognitive function and processing speed in healthy older adults.10

 Another study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology found that Bacopa monnieri improved memory consolidation and attention in healthy adults. This study also showed Bacopa has an anxiolytic effect as well.11

A review of several studies published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology concluded that Bacopa monnieri has potential as a cognitive enhancer, particularly for improving memory and attention.

Green Tea

Green Tea

Green tea is a popular beverage that contains a variety of compounds, including caffeine and L-theanine, that may have cognitive-enhancing effects.

One study published in Phytomedicine found that green tea improved memory, attention, and brain function.12

Another study found that higher consumption of green tea is associated with a lower incidence of cognitive impairment in humans.13

More research is needed to grasp the effects of green tea on focus and concentration. These studies suggest that the combination of caffeine and L-theanine in green tea may have cognitive-enhancing benefits. It’s important to note that green tea and its extracts do contain caffeine, which can have side effects like jitteriness, insomnia, and increased heart rate, especially in high doses or in individuals who are sensitive to caffeine.

Asian Ginseng

Asian Ginseng

Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng) is an herb that has been traditionally used in Chinese medicine to enhance cognitive function, including memory, concentration, and mental clarity. Some studies have investigated the effects of Asian ginseng on mental focus.

One study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology found that a single dose of Asian ginseng improved cognitive performance, including attention, working memory, and reaction time, in healthy young adults.14

Another study published in the journal Phytotherapy Research found that daily supplementation with Asian ginseng extract improved cognitive function and mood in middle-aged adults with age-related cognitive decline.15

A review of several studies published in the Journal of Ginseng Research concluded that Asian ginseng has potential as a natural cognitive enhancer, particularly for improving attention and cognitive processing speed.16

While Asian ginseng appears to have promising effects on mental focus, more research is needed to fully understand its benefits and optimal dosages.

Rhodiola rosea

Rhodiola Rosea

Rhodiola rosea is an herb that has been traditionally used in Russia and Scandinavia to improve physical and mental performance, reduce fatigue, and enhance mood. In addition, some studies have investigated the effects of Rhodiola rosea on focus and concentration.

One study published in Molecules stated Rhodiola is effective in treating stress-related conditions and disorders.17

Another study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology found that Rhodiola rosea extract improved cognitive function and reduced mental fatigue in physicians working night shifts.18

A review of several studies published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine concluded that Rhodiola rosea has the potential as a natural cognitive enhancer, particularly for improving mental fatigue and stress-related cognitive dysfunction.

Holy Basil

Holy Basil

Holy basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum), also known as tulsi, is an herb that has been commonly used in Ayurvedic medicine to enhance cognitive function and reduce stress and anxiety. Some studies have investigated the effects of holy basil on focus and concentration.

One study published in the International Journal of Ayurveda Research found that holy basil extract improved cognitive function, including attention, memory, and executive function, in healthy adults.
Another study from the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine found that holy basil extract improved cognitive function and reduced stress in healthy older adults.19

A review of several studies published in the Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine Journal showed those who consumed Holy Basil had a positive change in mood and/or cognitive function regardless of age, gender, formulation, dose, or study quality.20

pharmacist Michael

If you are having trouble concentrating, the first step is to be sure you are eating a healthy diet and getting enough sleep. Exercise can also help. 

Medicinal herbs can be a good choice as well. I suggest finding a popular herbal blend such as Brain & Focus by Sunshine Nutraceuticals. 

This product is specially designed to improve memory and focus by utilizing vitamins, minerals, and natural herbs. It is crucial to take care of your physical and cognitive health. 

Always remember that just because some of these herbal remedies listed do not have robust clinical studies to support them, that does not mean they are ineffective. Clinical trials are expensive, and drug companies are unwilling to spend money on them if they cannot get a good return on their investment.

Michael Brown in Lab Coat with arms crossed

Michael J. Brown, RPh, BCPS, BCPP

Mr. Brown is a Clinical Pharmacist specializing in pharmacotherapy and psychiatry.

Read Michael’s story here.

Feel free to send Michael a message using this link.

Anti-Inflammatory Foods

The Power of Anti-Inflammatory Foods: Your Ultimate Guide to a Healthy Diet

Anti-Inflammatory Foods

Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury or infection, and it plays a crucial role in the healing process. However, when inflammation becomes chronic, it can lead to a wide range of health issues, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, arthritis, and even cancer. The good news is that you can combat chronic inflammation through your diet by incorporating anti-inflammatory foods into your meals. In this article, we’ll explore the power of anti-inflammatory foods and provide you with the ultimate guide to a healthy diet.

What are Anti-Inflammatory Foods?

Anti-inflammatory foods are nutrient-dense foods that have been shown to reduce inflammation in the body. They are typically rich in antioxidants, which are compounds that neutralize harmful molecules called free radicals that can damage cells and contribute to inflammation. Anti-inflammatory foods also contain other beneficial nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats, which can help to promote overall health and well-being.  Some of the best anti-inflammatory foods are listed below.

Leafy Greens

Leafy Greens

Leafy greens like spinach, kale, and Swiss chard are excellent sources of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. They are also high in fiber, which can help to reduce inflammation in the gut and support digestive health.



Berries such as blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries are packed with antioxidants, particularly anthocyanins, which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. They are also low in sugar compared to other fruits, making them a healthy and delicious addition to your diet.

Salmon on cutting board with lemon

Fatty Fish

Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are powerful anti-inflammatory agents. Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce inflammation in the body and protect against chronic diseases, such as heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis.

Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds, such as almonds, walnuts, flaxseeds, and chia seeds, are excellent sources of healthy fats and antioxidants. They can help to lower inflammation in the body and promote heart health.

Tumeric root and powder


Turmeric is a spice that has been used for centuries for its medicinal properties. It contains a compound called curcumin, which has potent anti-inflammatory effects. Adding turmeric to your meals or drinking turmeric tea can be a flavorful way to incorporate this powerful anti-inflammatory food into your diet.

Olive Oil

Olive Oil

Olive oil is a healthy fat that is rich in monounsaturated fats and antioxidants. It has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties and can help to reduce the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer.

Whole Grains

Whole grains, such as brown rice, quinoa, and oats, are high in fiber and other nutrients that can help to reduce inflammation in the body. They are also a healthier option compared to refined grains, such as white rice and white bread, which can contribute to inflammation and other health issues.

Green Tea

Green Tea

Green tea is loaded with antioxidants called catechins, which have anti-inflammatory properties. Drinking green tea regularly can be a healthy habit that promotes overall health and well-being.


Ginger is another spice that has been used for its medicinal properties for centuries. It contains a compound called gingerol, which has anti-inflammatory effects and can help to reduce inflammation in the body.

Colorful Vegetables

Vegetables like broccoli, bell peppers, carrots, and sweet potatoes are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that can help to lower inflammation in the body. Including a variety of colorful vegetables in your diet can provide a wide range of nutrients that support overall health and well-being.

family passing around healthy food

Incorporating Anti-Inflammatory Foods Into Your Diet

A healthy diet is the foundation of overall well-being, and incorporating anti-inflammatory foods into your meals can have a significant impact on your health. Anti-inflammatory foods are packed with nutrients that can reduce inflammation in the body, lower the risk of chronic diseases, and promote optimal health. If you’re looking to boost your health and harness the power of anti-inflammatory foods, here are some easy ways to incorporate them into your diet.

  1. Start with Leafy Greens: Leafy greens, such as spinach, kale, and Swiss chard, are versatile and can be easily incorporated into your diet. You can add them to your salads, sauté them with garlic and olive oil, or blend them into smoothies. Leafy greens are rich in antioxidants, fiber, and other beneficial nutrients that can help to lower inflammation and promote digestive health.
  2. Add Berries to Your Meals: Berries, such as blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries, are not only delicious but also packed with antioxidants that have anti-inflammatory properties. You can add them to your breakfast bowl, mix them into yogurt, or enjoy them as a healthy snack. Berries are low in sugar compared to other fruits and can be a tasty and nutritious addition to your diet.
  3. Incorporate Fatty Fish: Fatty fish, like salmon, mackerel, and sardines, are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which are known for their anti-inflammatory effects. You can grill or bake fish for a tasty main course, or add canned fish to salads, wraps, or sandwiches. Omega-3 fatty acids can help to reduce inflammation in the body and protect against chronic diseases.
  4. Snack on Nuts and Seeds: Nuts and seeds, such as almonds, walnuts, flaxseeds, and chia seeds, are easy to snack on and can be added to a variety of dishes. You can sprinkle them on top of salads, blend them into smoothies, or enjoy them as a standalone snack. Nuts and seeds are packed with healthy fats, fiber, and antioxidants that can help to lower inflammation and support heart health.
  5. Spice it Up: Spice it up with Anti-Inflammatory Herbs and Spices: Many herbs and
    spices have potent anti-inflammatory properties. Include herbs like
    turmeric, ginger, garlic, cinnamon, and basil in your cooking to add
    flavor and potential health benefits.
  6. Use Olive Oil for Cooking: Olive oil is a healthy fat that is rich in monounsaturated fats and antioxidants. It has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects and can be used for cooking or as a dressing for salads. Replace unhealthy oils with olive oil in your cooking to reap its anti-inflammatory benefits.
  7. Opt for Whole Grains: Whole grains, such as brown rice, quinoa, and oats, are easy to incorporate into your diet as a healthy carbohydrate source. You can use them as a base for salads, stir-fries, or as a side dish. Whole grains are high in fiber and other nutrients that can help to lower inflammation and support digestive health.
  8. Sip on Green Tea: Green tea is a refreshing and healthy beverage that is loaded with antioxidants called catechins, which have anti-inflammatory properties. You can enjoy green tea hot or iced, and you can add lemon or honey for added flavor. Sipping on green tea regularly can be a simple habit to boost your health.

Incorporating anti-inflammatory foods into your diet can have numerous benefits for your body, including reducing inflammation, supporting heart health, enhancing digestive health, boosting immune function, supporting brain health, aiding in weight management, and promoting overall well-being. By making simple changes to your eating habits and including more of these nutrient-rich foods in your meals, you can take proactive steps towards optimizing your health and well-being. Always consult with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian before making any significant changes to your diet, especially if you have any underlying health conditions.

Michael Brown in Lab Coat with arms crossed

Michael J. Brown, RPh, BCPS, BCPP

Mr. Brown is a Clinical Pharmacist specializing in pharmacotherapy and psychiatry.

Read Michael’s story here.

Feel free to send Michael a message using this link.

ear exam

Home Remedies for Ear and Throat Pain

representation of ear pain

Are you looking for home remedies for ear and throat pain?

This post will cover over-the-counter pain medications and other remedies to combat these common conditions.

If you have a high fever or severe pain that does not resolve, please go to your local urgent care center or seek medical treatment. Ear and throat pain can be caused by a bacterial infection which may require antibiotic treatment.

Disclosure:  This post may contain affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission if you click on, or make a purchase through a third-party link.

Diagram of the inside of the human ear

Otitis Externa

Swimmer’s Ear 

Swimmer’s ear, also known as otitis externa, is an infection of the outer opening of the ear and ear canal caused by bacteria or fungi. Otitis externa is a common cause of ear pain. Risk factors for this type of infection include:

  • swimming.
  • Using Q-tips or other foreign objects in the ear.
  • Allergies.
  • Use of hearing aids or earbuds.
  • Irritation or scratches in the ear.

Some Symptoms of Otitis Externa Include:

  • Pain and discharge from the affected ear. Discharge may initially be clear and may change to pus.
  • Redness of ear.
  • Fever.
  • Swelling of lymph nodes.
  • Some hearing loss.


ear exam

Otitis Media (Inner Ear Inflammation)

Acute Otitis Media (AOM) is an ear infection occurring in the middle ear (behind the ear drum). This infection is common in young children but can also occur in adults. The most likely cause of AOM is the dysfunction or obstruction of the eustachian tubes. The infection can be caused by viruses or bacterial and, at times both.1

Chronic ear infections may be caused by an abnormality of the mucous membranes that line part of the inner ear. These membranes help form a barrier to infection.

Otitis media is usually treated with an antibiotic such as Augmentin (amoxicillin and clavulanate). A cephalosporin, doxycycline, azithromycin, or clarithromycin may be used in patients with a penicillin allergy.

Symptoms of AOM

  • Ear pain (mild, moderate, or severe)
  • Muffled hearing
  • Fever



Treatment of Ear Infections

As with most conditions, the best treatment for ear infections is prevention. First, try to keep the ears clean and dry. Refrain from scratching the inside of the ear and remove excess wax buildup with Debrox (Carbamide Peroxide 6.5%). Always follow the directions on the box.

If using ear drops, always follow directions. A cotton ball can be placed in the ear after instilling the medicine to help keep it in the ear.

Treatment of Ear Pain

For ear pain, utilize OTC pain relievers such as acetaminophen and Ibuprofen. If you prefer natural remedies, turmeric with ginger is a great choice. The heat from a warm washcloth (warm compresses) or a heating pad can also help with the pain.

Some have suggested placing a few drops of olive oil into the ear. This can soften the earwax making it easier to remove. Olive oil may also possess antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

When to Seek Medical Advice

Inner ear infections often require antibiotics. It is essential to treat these infections because Otitis media can lead to facial paralysis, meningitis, and hearing loss. If you believe you have an inner ear infection or the treatments above are ineffective, seek medical care.


Throat Pain

We have all suffered from a sore throat during our lifetime. Sore throats can be caused by:

· Bacterial infections

· Viral infections

· Allergies

· Exposure to toxic chemicals or smoke


What are some good treatments for a sore throat?


The best treatment I have found for a sore throat is to coat the throat with hard candy, throat lozenges, or cough drops. Then, add an OTC pain reliever. Acetaminophen and ibuprofen can be used for pain. Turmeric can also be used with ear pain if you prefer natural products.


Other home remedies may help with a sore throat.


Gargling with salt water

 Mix ¼ to ½ teaspoon salt with 8 ounces of warm water and gargle. This can help relieve pain, clear mucous, and kill bacteria. Just gargle with the solution and spit it out. Do not swallow the salt water.


Popsicles can coat your throat and provide a cold sensation that can help deaden the pain.

 Mouth Hygiene

Even with a sore throat, brushing your teeth twice daily and flossing each day is important. Also, limit what you eat to soft, bland foods to prevent irritating the throat. 

Strep Throat

Strep throat is caused by bacteria and often starts with the rapid onset of a sore throat with pain during swallowing. There may also be a fever and swollen lymph nodes.  

If you have problems breathing, become dehydrated, cough up blood or have difficulty swallowing, you should seek medical care.


Some variants of COVID-19 have a severe sore throat as a symptom. I recently had the Omicron variant, producing one of the worst sore throats I have experienced. Omicron is known to cause sore throat and headache. As a reminder, if you end up with COVID, my supplement suggestions are:

  • Vitamin D3/K2 – 5000 units/day
  • Vitamin C – 1000 mg/day
  • Zinc 50mg/day
  • Quercetin to help the zinc penetrate cells

Ear and throat pain are common problems. As with any sickness, I believe prevention is key. Be sure to take care of your body. Our immune system can be improved by eating whole foods, drinking plenty of water, exercising, and getting adequate sleep. Probiotics can also help.

Over-the-counter products such as acetaminophen and Ibuprofen can be used for both ear and throat pain. Turmeric can also help with pain and inflammation.


Michael Brown in Lab Coat with arms crossed

Michael J. Brown, RPh, BCPS, BCPP

Mr. Brown is a Clinical Pharmacist specializing in pharmacotherapy and psychiatry.

Read Michael’s story here.

Feel free to send Michael a message using this link.


Compulsive vs Impulsive Behavior, Are They the Same?

What is the main difference between compulsive behavior and impulsivity? I tell my students that compulsive behavior is repeated by the person even though that person is aware that this behavior will not result in the desired goal.

Acupuncture for Back Pain

Acupuncture is a significant element of Chinese medicine.  It has been traditionally used to treat pain and has also been used for stress management and wellness.  Acupuncture is used to balance the flow of energy known as chi or qi (chee).  This energy may flow through meridians that are pathways in the body.  It is believed that this energy can be re-balanced by inserting very thin needles through the skin at specific points along these meridians.

Although acupuncture can be used for many types of pain and other conditions, this post will concentrate on its use for lower back pain. 

Lower Back Pain (LBP)

Lower back pain (LBP) affects as many as 70% of adults in industrialized countries during some point in their life.1

 This causes an economic burden on both society and individuals.  It is estimated that at least $100 billion is spent due to lower back pain yearly.2



There are many treatments for LBP, but no single remedy appears to be superior.4

For this reason, many LBP sufferers turn to alternative treatments, including acupuncture, to relieve pain and discomfort.5

Is acupuncture effective for LBP?  An overview of systemic reviews looked at this question in 2015.6

A total of 16 studies were included in this review.  These studies were of variable quality. The researchers came to the following conclusions:

  • For acute LBP, acupuncture does not appear to be more effective than sham acupuncture in improving function, and inconsistent evidence that acupuncture is more effective at relieving pain than sham acupuncture.
  • For chronic LBP, there is consistent evidence that acupuncture provides short-term clinical benefits on pain relief and functional improvement compared to no treatment or when added to prevailing interventions.
  • It appears that acupuncture causes significant pain relief but no impact on the functional limitation on chronic LBP when compared to sham acupuncture.

To summarize this overview of the systemic reviews available, acupuncture can provide short-term clinically relevant improvement in pain and functionality in treating lower back pain when combined with conventional therapy.

Low Back Pain in Pregnant Women

Many studies have examined back pain in pregnant women.  Rates of LBP in these women range from 25% TO 90%, with most studies estimating that 50% of pregnant women will experience it.7

One-third of these women will suffer from severe pain.  This decreases their quality of life.  Eighty percent of women suffering from LBP say it affects their daily routine, and 10% cannot work.8

 The most common risk factors associated with lower back pain in women include a history of pelvic trauma, chronic LBP, and lower back pain during a previous pregnancy.9

 Regular exercise prior to pregnancy may reduce the chances of developing LBP during pregnancy.

A study published in 2018 examined the effectiveness of acupuncture in the treatment of back pain in pregnancy.  Fifty-six pregnant women at a gestational age between 14 and 37 weeks who complained of lower back pain were included in the study.  The subjects received up to six sessions.  This study found a statistically significant reduction in lower back pain as early as the second acupuncture treatment.  Improvement gradually improved with the number of sessions completed.  No serious adverse effects related to the acupuncture were reported.10

Side Effects of Acupuncture

Acupuncture, like other treatments, can cause side effects.  The most common adverse effects include bleeding, soreness, or bruising at the site of needle insertion. Other, less common risks include:

  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Internal bleeding
  • Convulsions
  • Hepatitis B
  • Dermatitis
  • Nerve damage


With the use of disposable needles, hepatitis B, and other infections are rare.  It is important to note that the side effects of acupuncture are uncommon.  Most people will tolerate acupuncture sessions with no adverse effects.

Acupuncture can be used for a variety of conditions, including:

  • Chemotherapy-induced and postoperative nausea and vomiting.
  • Dental pain.
  • Tension headaches and migraines.
  • Labor pain.
  • Lower back pain.
  • Neck pain.
  • Menstrual cramps.


This treatment is a popular alternative to traditional medications.  Acupuncture can be an effective treatment for lower back pain in pregnant individuals and others who suffer from LBP. This treatment seems to work best for short term relief of back pain when combined with traditional therapy.  As with most alternative therapies, more research is needed to determine best practices when utilizing acupuncture for back pain.


I have recently met a local acupuncturist and plan to get treatment in the next couple of weeks.  I will let you all know how that goes.  Luckily, the Protandim Tri-Synergizer product has eliminated my back pain.  I am always searching for other treatments to help me live a healthier, happier life.


If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to reach out to me.  Have a great week, and stay safe!  


I decided to try acupuncture for myself on October 29th.  This was simply a wonderful experience.  My goal was to improve circulation in my hands and feet.  I don’t do well with cold weather and in Oregon, the cold season is here.  

After a few minutes of standard medical questions, my time had come.  I laid on the warmest, most comfortable bed you can imagine.  It was beyond relaxing.

Hannah was awesome.  I could barely feel the needles, and she was very friendly.  She enjoys answering questions and it was clear she enjoyed her profession.  I told her I wished I had tried this earlier in my life.  It really improved my mood for the rest of the day.

The atmosphere, conversation, and warmth were amazing.  If you haven’t tried acupuncture, I strongly recommend it!  I will be going back for more sessions.

Take a look at the ad below.  If you need any of these services and live in the Portland area, this is a great place to visit.  These professionals are friendly and truly love helping people become healthy.



Michael Brown in Lab Coat with arms crossed

Michael J. Brown, RPh, BCPS, BCPP

Mr. Brown is a Clinical Pharmacist specializing in pharmacotherapy and psychiatry.

Read Michael’s story here.

Feel free to send Michael a message using this link.



Disclosure:  This post may contain affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission if you click on, or make a purchase through a third-party link.

Developing a Morning Ritual to Increase Productivity

Can getting up earlier help you become more productive?

What should you do during your first hours of the day?

What if you aren’t a “morning person.”


I have decided to include some posts on productivity in the next several months. This is a happy, healthy, healing blog, and I firmly believe being more productive can increase happiness. Through my new business ventures, I have learned many new things that I would like to pass on to you.  

I have always been an early riser but never created extra time in the morning for a ritual, until recently!

The more I read about successful people’s habits, the more I realize that most of them follow some routine. If you are a business owner or thinking of starting a business, this post will increase your chances of success.  

Drink Water First Thing in the Morning

We wake up each morning, dehydrated. The best practice is to drink water as soon as you arise. This serves several purposes:

  • Increases energy levels: Increased hydration boosts the oxygen received by the brain. This will make you more alert and increase energy.  
  • Helps eliminate toxins: Increasing water intake will result in more urine output, which flushes toxins from the body while we sleep; our immune system goes into repair and recovery mode, including removing toxins. Many people begin the day with a cup of coffee that has some beneficial effects, but this can cause more dehydration.
  • Helps improve skin health: Drinking water on an empty stomach hydrates the skin and increases elasticity. This helps to reduce wrinkles and keeps your skin looking healthy. Water can also help to clear up acne and other skin blemishes.
  • Decreases headache frequency: Many headaches occur as a result of dehydration.  

Enjoy Some Quiet Time

This is a new revelation for me. I have always rushed to get things done and rarely took the time to stop and reflect on other aspects of my life. Spiritual health and gratitude are critical. Here are some activities to calm your mind. This doesn’t have to take more than a few minutes, but it is time well spent.

  • Pray: If you believe in a superior power, the morning is an ideal time to pray. If you wake up before others in your house, this can be a very peaceful practice.
  • Meditate:  Meditation has many benefits.  
    1. It can reduce stress.1

         2. Meditation has also been shown to help decrease symptoms of various anxiety disorders.2

Another study concluded that mindfulness meditation can have long-term beneficial effects in patients diagnosed with anxiety disorders.3

       3. Meditation has been shown to relieve pain through several brain mechanisms.4

Our state of mind affects our perception of pain.

      4. Meditation can improve sleep.  Sleep is a vital part of the productivity equation.

We all need an adequate amount of sleep to function at a high level. Meditation has been shown to help people fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.5

  • Recite self-affirmations: This can train you to think positively about important things in your life. You can either find some that fit your personality on the internet or create your own. Here are some of the self-affirmations I recite.

          I trust that I am on the right path.

          I use my experience and talents to help others become healthier.

          My drive and ambition allow me to reach my goals.

          I am confident in my ability to create a stable source of residual income that will allow me to retire comfortably.

         I am grateful to have people in my life who love and support me.

This process will help your subconscious mind begin to create more positive thoughts.  

Visualize yourself where you want to be: Spend some time with your eyes closed, imagining you in your successful future. 

  • Visualization is used by athletes and business people to install positive images into the subconscious mind.  Picture yourself in the place you would like to be in the future.  This can be a powerful tool.  If you are able to visualize and accept something, you have a much better chance of acheiving it.



We all know the benefits of exercise. To be happy and healthy, you must exercise. 

Moving gets your blood circulating and improves mood. Exercise helps with weight loss, sleep, energy level, and so much more.  

I try to do another activity while exercising. My next goal is to purchase an exercise bike to do my prospecting while I pedal. I spend at least 30-45 minutes prospecting in the morning each day.  

Another idea is to listen to a book or motivational talk while exercising. Whatever you do, be sure to get this in. If you would prefer to exercise later in the day, that is fine; just be sure it gets done.

Read Books on Self Improvement

Many people have written books on how they became successful. These books are available for a few dollars in most cases. There is no reason to develop a new way of doing things if you can learn from someone who has already figured it out.

Spend a few minutes each morning reading self-help or inspirational books. If you aren’t a reader, start by reading a few pages each day. If you do this consistently, you will be able to read many books per year.  

Books are available on your phone as well. I listen to books on audible every single day. 

I do this while driving to and from work. I have learned a great deal by making this simple change.


Journaling has many benefits. It helps you become a better writer, solve problems, and set goals. 

Writing down your successes and failures can lead you in the right direction. Journaling also improves memory and mood.  

We have all heard of mindfulness. Journaling gets you there. It forces you to examine your thoughts and feelings.

There are many tools to help with journaling. I use the Five Minute Journal iPhone app, which I purchased for only $4.99. This app helps me focus on the positive aspects of my life.  

Five minutes in the morning and evening is all it takes with this simple tool.

Work on Income Producing Activities (IPA)

If you own your own business, the morning is a great time to complete tasks that lead to revenue. As mentioned above, I spend 30-45 minutes each morning prospecting for new team members. This gets one thing crossed off of my task list for the day. I suggest working on the most critical items on your “to-do list” as early as possible. This gives you a jump start on your productive day.

Mornings don’t have to be a drag! You can learn to love this time of your day. Develop a routine that works for you using the elements listed above. I strongly suggest drinking two 16 ounce glasses of water shortly after you wake up. 

Getting up earlier can increase productivity. You can train yourself to be a morning person. If you do things often enough, they become habits. Trade your bad habits for good ones.

Resist hitting the snooze button. If necessary, move your alarm clock across the room, so you have to get out of bed to shut it off. Immediately brush your teeth and drink your first glass of water. This should give you the energy you need to move to the next task.

The rest is up to you. If this isn’t your thing, start small. Get up 45 minutes earlier and try it out. I think you will find this very beneficial.  

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact me anytime.

Have a great week, and stay safe!

Michael Brown in Lab Coat with arms crossed

Michael J. Brown, RPh, BCPS, BCPP

Mr. Brown is a Clinical Pharmacist specializing in pharmacotherapy and psychiatry.

Read Michael’s story here.

Feel free to send Michael a message using this link.



Disclosure:  This post may contain affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission if you click on, or make a purchase through a third-party link.

Several Shitake Mushroom Benefits

What are the health benefits of shitake mushrooms?

Should you try to eat more?

What if I don’t like to eat mushrooms?


Shitake mushrooms (Lentinula edodes) are native to East Asia and are the second most popular mushroom consumed today. Shitakes have been a staple in Asian cuisine for centuries. These mushrooms have a meaty texture and are an excellent addition to salads and soups. 

They also provide a great meat substitute.

Shitakes are tan to dark brown and typically grow on decaying hardwood trees in warm, moist climates. Japan produces about 83% of the shitake mushrooms available worldwide, and 60% of all shitakes are dried before consumption.1

These mushrooms not only provide many vitamins but also are thought to possess other medicinal properties. This post will explore some of the many benefits of this delicious mushroom.

Shitake Mushroom Nutritional Facts

Before exploring the medicinal benefits of the shitake mushroom, lets take a look at the nutritional value of this mushroom.2

The information below represents the nutritional value of one cup (145 g) of shitake mushrooms:

  • Calories 81.2 kcal
  • Protein 2.26 g
  • Fat 0.319 g
  • Carbohydrate 20.9 g
  • Fiber 3.04 g
  • Sugars 5.57 g

These mushrooms also contain many vitamins and minerals.

Medicinal Qualities of Shitake Mushrooms

Natural products, or nutraceuticals, are very important in developing and discovering new pharmaceuticals used in the treatment of chronic diseases such as cancer.3

Polysaccharides present in mushrooms are thought to have antitumor and immune system activation properties.4

Shitake mushrooms contain polysaccharides, lipids, sterols, and terpenoids, which may effectively treat various tumors and infections.5

Antioxidant Effects of Shitake Mushrooms

As we age, our bodies are less efficient at preventing the damage caused by oxidative stress.6

Nutraceuticals, such as shitake mushrooms, can be used to help reduce the oxidation caused by free radical species.7

One study published in 2013 found aqueous extracts of L. edodes demonstrated catalase-like activity leading to the conclusion that shitake mushroom extracts may be a potential source of antioxidants.8

This is important because oxidative stress is known to contribute to over 200 diseases.

Antiviral and Antibacterial Activity of Shitake Mushrooms

With all that is happening in the world today regarding COVID-19, it isn’t surprising to learn that many people are searching for antiviral nutraceuticals. Shitake mushroom extract has been shown to inhibit viral replication in poliovirus and bovine herpesvirus in a concentration-dependent manner.9

These mushrooms have antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial properties.10


Mushrooms contain Beta-glucans, which are polysaccharides that stimulate the immune system. This leads to the ability to help fight bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungus. These molecules are necessary for the mushroom’s survival.

Shitake Mushrooms Contain Vitamin D

Did you know that mushrooms are the only natural plants that contain vitamin D?

It is well-known that this vitamin is crucial for healthy bones and teeth.

The concentration of vitamin D found in mushrooms is dependent on their exposure to Ultraviolet light and how they are grown.

A study performed on mice found that those fed UV-enhanced shitake mushrooms had a higher bone density than a group provided a low-calcium, low-vitamin-D diet.12

Shitake Mushrooms May Help Fight Some Types of Cancer

A cohort study of 36,499 Japanese men found an inverse relationship between mushroom consumption and prostate cancer incidence.13

One polysaccharide, lentinan, assists in fighting tumors as a result of immune system activation.14



Shitake mushroom extract has also been shown to decrease the proliferation of leukemia cells significantly.16

Mycologists strongly believe that the compounds found in mushrooms can suppress many forms of cancers at several stages.

Many plant and fungal species have been used as food and medicine in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. These products have shown the ability to promote good health and may even prevent or treat many diseases.

Mushrooms are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and other compounds that can positively affect our bodies. Mushroom supplements have recently gained popularity in the United States for people who desire mushrooms’ health benefits but do not enjoy them as a food source. These supplements also allow one to consume mushrooms in a concentrated form.

As with most nutraceuticals, more clinical studies are needed to determine the many uses for mushrooms, such as shitakes.
The benefits of consuming these appear to outweigh any risks.

As always, if you have any questions regarding this post or any other, please send me an email. I attempt to answer all emails I receive.

Have a great week, and stay safe out there.

Michael Brown in Lab Coat with arms crossed

Michael J. Brown, RPh, BCPS, BCPP

Mr. Brown is a Clinical Pharmacist specializing in pharmacotherapy and psychiatry.

Read Michael’s story here.

Feel free to send Michael a message using this link.



Disclosure:  This post may contain affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission if you click on, or make a purchase through a third-party link.

Krill Oil vs Fish Oil: What is the Difference?

Are krill oil and fish oil the same?

Which one should you take?

What are the benefits of these supplements?

I receive a lot of questions regarding the differences between krill oil and fish oil.  I decided to answer this question and explore the benefits of these supplements.  Let’s start with the basics.

The traditional fish oil supplements are derived from fatty fish such as salmon, anchovies, tuna, herring, sardines, and mackerel.  Fish oil is one of the most popular dietary supplements consumed world-wide.

Krill oil comes from Antarctic krill, which are tiny crustaceans.  Krill is consumed by other sea animals such as penguins, whales, seals, and birds.

Krill Oil and Fish Oil Both Contain Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are necessary for proper brain and nerve function.  They are an essential component of the membrane that surrounds each of our cells.  Omega-3’s are known as essential fatty acids because they must be obtained from food sources as our bodies cannot produce them.1

 Krill oil and fish oil both contain eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).  These are omega-3 fatty acids that have the ability to improve brain health and heart health.   The difference is how fatty acids are stored.  It appears that krill oil stores omega-3’s as phospholipids, whereas fish oil stores them as fatty acids.

This may be an important factor in how our body utilizes them.  There have been some small studies comparing Fish oil and krill oil.  One study published in 2015 found a higher plasma concentration of EPA and DHA in subjects receiving krill oil compared to those who ingested fish oil supplements.2

Omega-3 supplements have the following benefits:

  • Decreasing high triglyceride levels – When your triglyceride levels are too high, the risk of atherosclerosis and heart disease increases.
  • Treatment of rheumatoid arthritis – Some evidence suggests Omega-3 fatty acids may help with the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. One study published in 2017 concluded that “higher intake of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids during the year preceding disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs may be associated with better treatment results in patients with early rheumatoid arthritis.”3

Krill Oil Contains Astaxanthin

Astaxanthin is a carotenoid pigment that has many health benefits of its own. This substance gives krill oil its reddish color and is not found in most fish oil supplements.

Astaxanthin acts as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory and may promote cardiac health.4

Krill Oil May Be More Effective in Treating Hyperlipidemia

A multi-center randomized, controlled study found krill oil to be significantly more effective than fish oil in reducing glucose, triglyceride, and LDL levels.5 

Krill oil was also able to significantly lower total cholesterol and increase HDL levels in this study.  

Other Sources of Omega-3s

Omega-3 fatty acids naturally occur in some foods and are artificially added to others.  Some examples include:6

  • Fish and seafood (especially salmon, herring, sardines, mackerel, and tuna).
  • Plant oils (flaxseed, soybean, and canola).
  • Nuts and seeds (Chia seeds, walnuts, flaxseed).
  • Fortified foods (some eggs, yogurt, milk, juice, and soy beverages).

Other sources include cod liver oil and algal oil.  Algal oil is derived from algae and is a great choice for vegans and vegetarians.

Is Fish Oil Easier to Obtain?

Fish oil supplements can be found in most grocery stores.  Krill oil is becoming more popular, and with the ability to order supplements over the internet, it is certainly not difficult to obtain.  Fish oil may be cheaper than krill oil. Our omega-3 product is reasonably priced and is high quality.

Side Effects of Krill Oil and Fish Oil

The side effects of krill oil and fish oil are similar and very mild.  These include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Upset stomach and heartburn
  • Bad breath
  • Fishy smelling sweat
  • Acne and oily skin
  • Nausea
  • Flatulence
  • Fishy burps

Drug Interactions

Both fish oil supplements and krill oil can interact with the following drugs:7

  • Anticoagulants and Antiplatelet drugs – Bleeding risk may increase.
  • Antidiabetic drugs – Hypoglycemia risk may increase.
  • Orlistat – May decrease the absorption of krill oil or fish oil.

Should You Take Krill Oil or Fish Oil?

Although the evidence isn’t substantial, I prefer krill oil.  My reason for this is that it may be more bioavailable and has the additional benefit of containing an antioxidant.  Krill oil is not hard to find, and it doesn’t cost that much more to obtain.  Krill oil also doesn’t have the fish odor associated with fish oil supplements. 

It is crucial to ingest essential fatty acids for the proper functioning of the body.  These molecules are important for our cell membranes and  proper brain and nerve function.  Always remember that getting these fatty acids from your diet is a better choice than taking supplements.  The healthiest way to live is to eat a well-balanced diet utilizing mostly whole foods, drink plenty of water, exercise regularly, and get an adequate amount of sleep.

If you don’t believe you are getting enough essential fatty acids, then take a supplement.  I prefer krill oil for the reasons stated above, but fish oil is also a good choice.  Be sure to talk to your physician or pharmacist if you are allergic to shellfish before taking krill oil.  If you use blood-thinning medications, always check with your physician or pharmacist prior to taking any supplement. 

I am always happy to answer questions regarding drugs or supplements.  Send me an email, and don’t forget to sign up for our monthly newsletter below.  You will receive company news and coupon codes for savings on all of our products.

Have a great week, and be happy and healthy.

Michael Brown in Lab Coat with arms crossed

Michael J. Brown, RPh, BCPS, BCPP

Mr. Brown is a Clinical Pharmacist specializing in pharmacotherapy and psychiatry.

Read Michael’s story here.

Feel free to send Michael a message using this link.



Disclosure:  This post may contain affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission if you click on, or make a purchase through a third-party link.

Some Remarkable Over The Counter Antivirals

The threat of COVID-19 has prompted a lot of questions regarding over the counter antiviral remedies. I thought I would discuss a few herbs that are thought to possess activity against viruses in general. We do not have specific information regarding COVID-19 because it is too new.  

Presently, the only known weapons we have against the spread of COVID-19 are handwashing, social distancing, and wearing masks. 

Until a vaccine is available, our options are limited. I take dietary supplements for several reasons. Some of these may help decrease my risk of contracting this virus. 

I believe benefit far outweighs the risk in this situation.

I have written about many of these herbs in the past. For more information, click the highlighted link to visit the corresponding blog post.

Green Tea

Green tea (Camelia sinensis) consumption can have significant positive effects on human health.1

Green tea contains catechins, which are polyphenolic compounds. These substances, especially epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), have shown broad antiviral effects.2

Green tea extract has the potential to cause liver toxicity. Products that contain the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) verification stamp must be labeled with the following:

Due to the potential risk for hepatotoxicity with green tea extracts, products that carry the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) verification stamp must include the following text on the label: “Do not take on an empty stomach. Take with food. Do not use if you have a liver problem and discontinue use and consult a healthcare practitioner if you develop symptoms of liver trouble, such as abdominal pain, dark urine, or jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)”3

Ascorbic Acid ( Vitamin C)

Studies have shown that patients with acute infections have low circulating ascorbic acid levels.4



We also know that vitamin C modulates interferons and cytokines in patients with viral infections.6

Ascorbic acid has also been shown to reduce neuralgia pain associated with the herpes virus.7

There have also been instances where influenza A patients with life-threatening respiratory failure have rapidly improved after receiving ascorbic acid and thiamine.8


Elderberry is a dark purple berry that grows on the European elder tree. There is evidence that elderberry fruit extract taken four times daily can reduce the symptoms and duration of influenza infection if started within 48 hours of symptoms. This extract can reduce the duration of symptoms by 56% on average.9

Another study found that lozenges containing elderberries taken four times daily within 24 hours of influenza onset improved flu-like symptoms compared with placebo 10


Zinc is the second most abundant trace element in the human body. This element is essential for growth, development, DNA synthesis, and RNA transcription.11

A review article published in 2019 concluded that zinc can stimulate the body’s viral response.12

In vitro studies have also shown zinc may possess antiviral effects. This paper also stated that zinc treatment at therapeutic doses can drastically improve the clearance of acute and chronic viral infections.13

We know that Zinc lozenges can decrease the duration of the common cold by up to 40%.14


Quercetin is a common flavonoid found in many Chinese herbs and fruits, vegetables, and red wine.  

Quercetin has been shown to possess anti-influenza activity. This is likely due to its ability to inhibit the entry of the virus into the cell.15

This substance has also exhibited the ability to inhibit virus replication in the initial stages of influenza infections.16


Echinacea is the name given to some flowering plants in the daisy family. This plant has been used for centuries by Native Americans to treat many illnesses. 

Currently, Echinacea is used primarily as an herbal remedy in the treatment of the common cold and flu.

 Echinacea extracts have shown antiviral activity against several different viruses.17





There are also studies claiming Echinacea is an efficacious immunomodulator. There is still insufficient evidence available to make therapeutic recommendations for specific disease states.20

We all want to protect ourselves from infection. 

It is much easier to prevent an illness than to treat it. There are some simple steps we can take to stay healthy.

  • Eat whole foods.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Avoid bad habits.
  • Get enough sleep.

I also believe herbal products can help us stay healthy. One of the biggest causes of sickness is oxidative stress. Our cells are bombarded with free radicals daily. 

Just breathing the air can introduce toxins into the body.  

In addition to my products, I take ProtandimTM Tri-Synergizer daily. This not only helps protect my cells from free radical damage but also makes me feel better and improves my energy level. I strongly recommend giving this supplement a try.

With COVID-19 comes uncertainty and fear. Besides staying as healthy as possible, we should also wash our hands often, wear masks when near others, and practice social distancing. Although the products mentioned in this post are not proven to treat, prevent, or cure COVID-19, some have good evidence against other viruses. I think the benefits of taking them far outweigh the risks.

Nutraceuticals have been used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine for thousands of years. Large, randomized-controlled studies are not always available to support these agents due to prohibitive costs. This does not mean they are ineffective. It usually means there is not enough profit to be made from them to justify the high costs of the studies.

If you have any questions regarding this post or about medications or nutraceuticals, please send me a message. I would also like to invite you to join our email list to receive our monthly newsletter. Our newsletter will keep you up to date on new products, our influencers, and sales.

Until next week, stay happy, healthy, and safe!

Michael Brown in Lab Coat with arms crossed

Michael J. Brown, RPh, BCPS, BCPP

Mr. Brown is a Clinical Pharmacist specializing in pharmacotherapy and psychiatry.

Read Michael’s story here.

Feel free to send Michael a message using this link.



Disclosure:  This post may contain affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission if you click on, or make a purchase through a third-party link.