Intermittent Fasting and Artificial Sweeteners, Bulletproof Coffee, Weight Loss, and More…

Is intermittent fasting (IF) good for you?

Does it work?

What are some tips for success?

My readers are aware that I have written about diets and nutrition in the past. Our family completed the Whole30 diet in October of 2019 and my wife and I were successful in sticking to the rules for the entire month. The kids couldn’t stick with it. They needed more carbohydrates and got very tired of stir fry’s and curry. Although we aren’t currently eating such a restrictive diet, much was learned during that month with regards to eating and how your body can feel differently when only whole foods are consumed.

Intermittent fasting (IF) was introduced to me by a pharmacist colleague a couple of years ago. He sent me some information via email and I decided to give it a try.

IF is a pattern of normal food intake combined with extended periods where little to no food is consumed. Restricting food intake to a time window of eight hours or less per day is also known as time-restricted feeding (TRF). As you can probably imagine, there are many ways to achieve this.

Alternate Day Fasting

During this plan, you can eat normally on even days and fast on odd days. During your fasting days you may drink non-calorie beverages such as coffee, tea or water. There are many books explaining this method. Probably the most popular is “The Every Other Day Diet” by Krista Varaday. The premise is you can eat all you want, half the time, and lose weight.

The 5:2 Diet

The 5:2 method involves eating normally for five days of the week and consuming only 500-600 calories on two consecutive days after that. I am unable to do this. Eating a few calories makes me hungry.

Lean Gains Protocol

This is also called the 16/8 method. This plan involves restricting your calorie intake to an eight hour period. In my opinion, this is a great place to start. Just pick an eight hour period during the day where you are allowed to eat, and fast for the rest of the day. You could eat from noon until 8:00 PM, for example.

The 20:4 Plan

This is the plan I follow. It is the most restrictive single day fast. This regimen allows for one meal per day. Many find this best for weight loss, ketone production, and mental sharpness. I do not recommend starting here, but you can work your way towards this goal. I suggest starting with the 16/8 method as mentioned above.

There are many more possibilities to choose from. Just google “intermittent fasting” and you will find many ideas. There are also several apps available for the iPhone to help you. Some of these include:

  • BodyFast Intermittent Fasting
  • Zero-Fasting Tracker
  • Simple: Fasting & Meal Tracker
  •  MyFast Intermittent Fasting

If you own an iPhone and want to try IF, I strongly suggest downloading one of these apps. It makes the process much easier. These apps also contain a ton of useful information on the subject.

I have been an “intermittent faster” my whole life. I very rarely eat breakfast because it tends to make me sluggish and hungry, and I find it causes unwanted GI symptoms, dizziness and increases my sugar cravings.

I have always read that you shouldn’t skip breakfast, but this strategy has never worked for my body. I have started using the intermittent fasting plan during the last couple of years where I only eat during a four hour window on weekdays. I do not do this on weekends because I find it too hard to accomplish.

I decided to write a post about the IFD because I wanted to report the available research to my readers. There are many benefits to this diet and I find it to be an effective method to keep my weight stable.

The Basis For Intermittent Fasting

It is no secret that, as a society, we overeat. Most of us eat at least three meals per day and snacks in between. This often leads to the consumption of too many calories predisposing our bodies to metabolic complications such as excessive visceral fat accumulation and insulin resistance. Lack of exercise makes these conditions even worse. The truth is, we are perfectly capable of surviving by eating less food, less often. There are many ways to practice IF. The benefits of these diets include:

  • Depletion or reduction of glycogen stores.
  • Mobilization of fatty acids.
  • Maintaining blood glucose levels in the low-normal range.
  • Reduced leptin and elevation of adiponectin levels.

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Behavioral effects are also possible and include increased alertness and improved mental acuity.4

Intermittent Fasting and Diabetes

The popularity of IF has revolved around losing or maintaining weight. This is what initially piqued my interest. It makes sense that if you eat for only a small portion of the day, you will likely consume less calories. Less calories means less weight. There are other benefits, however, which I have listed above. What do the studies say about IF and weight loss?

Most of the studies performed on intermittent fasting and weight loss are done during Ramadan. One such study, published in 2019, looked at the effects of intermittent fasting on individuals with metabolic syndrome (MetS).5

Metabolic syndrome is characterized by insulin resistance, hypertension, abdominal obesity, and poor lipid profiles. Most countries have a 20-30% prevalence of MetS among their adult population.6

It is important to point out that there are three general approaches most commonly investigated in studies of fasting.

  • Dietary restriction – One or more macronutrients are restricted with or without a total calorie reduction.
  • Intermittent fasting – Whole-day fasting or time-restricted feeding (TRF).
  • Daily caloric restriction – cutting 20-40% of daily caloric intake.

The 2019 study cited above showed a significant positive association between weight loss and the number of fasting days. The reduction of fat and body weight were achieved during the Ramadan fast while retaining lean mass. The non-fasting group showed no changes in weight. The fasting group experienced a decrease in both daily calorie intake, and physical activity. This led to a weight loss of 1.5 kg. This loss was 76% fat mass, 17% body fluid loss, and only 6% protein loss. The loss of body fat occurring in this study is higher than that reported from calorie restriction alone.7

A meta-analysis was published in February of 2018 reviewing intermittent fasting interventions for treatment of overweight and obese adults.8

This analysis included 400 subjects ranging in age from 37 years to 49 years. All participants were overweight or obese with a BMI range of (26.0 kg/m2 to 35.6 kg/m2). The studies contained in this analysis used different methods of IF. All but one study used self-reporting through food diaries to monitor compliance to the various protocols.

This meta-analysis found that intermittent fasting is as effective as the current clinical practice utilized for weight loss in overweight and obese individuals. Only a few studies met criteria to be included in this analysis, and most participants were women. These studies were of short duration and follow-up was very poor. Compliance was measured almost exclusively by diaries obtained by the subjects. Due to these issues, the researchers concluded that there was insufficient evidence at this time to recommend routine use of IF for weight loss in overweight and obese individuals. I did consult my personal physician and his take was that IF likely not cause harm and may indeed lead to weight loss. He stated that many of his patients utilize IF, especially athletes.

What to Drink During Fasting Periods

A common question people ask is “what can I drink during the fasting period?” My suggestions are listed below. If you ask several people about this, you will get many different answers. Always remember that no two people are the same. Find a plan that works for you and stick to it!

1. Water – This is my number one choice. Water is very good for your body and you need to remain hydrated. You should drink plenty of water daily whether or not you are fasting. You may add lemon slices to the water if you desire.

2. Bulletproof Coffee – This is one of my favorites. There are different ways to make this but I just use black coffee and add MCT oil to it. Others use butter and some add butter and MCT oil. The MCT oil I use is pictured below. I only drink one cup of coffee per day that contains one tablespoonful of MCT oil because the oil contains saturated fat. This special coffee helps curb hunger. You can also try one of our keto supplements if you find you are getting hungry or are low on energy.

3. Apple Cider Vinegar – I occasionally add 1-2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to my water for taste and health reasons. I wrote an entire article on this. Click the link above to read more about the benefits.

4. Tea – Tea is fair game as long as you don’t add sugar. I also advise against artificial sweeteners (see below.)

Intermittent Fasting and Artificial Sweeteners

I do not recommend using any artificial sweeteners during IF. These products are not good for your body and, in many cases, can cause sugar cravings. This means no diet sodas or sweet coffee. At least one study showed that these substances actually lead to glucose intolerance by altering the intestinal micro biota.9

If you must utilize artificial sweeteners, I recommend Stevia. I just prefer the brand you use does not contain glucose or sugar alcohols.

Risks of Intermittent Fasting

  1. Dehydration.  Be sure to hydrate especially during your fasting periods10

2. Increased afternoon urine osmolality.

This can also be avoided by adequate hydration. Remember to drink plenty of water during the day.11

3. Increased cortisol levels.

Fasting causes stress to our bodies. This leads to a release of cortisol which is our primary stress hormone. This may lead to an increase in fat storage although, as stated above, studies show that IF actually decreases fat.12

4. Increased guilt.

Inability to stick to the fasting regimen may cause one to feel guilty. I don’t put much stake in this as any diet may have this effect.

5. Decreased alertness.

Even though IF is known to improve alertness and concentration in the short term, it is possible that if enough calories are not consumed, one may actually become less alert and fatigued. Dizziness may also result. This can be easily rectified by simply eating more calories during your eating window.

I have been using the 20:4 intermittent fasting plan off and on for a couple of years. For me it was a fairly easy transition as I rarely eat breakfast. I just had to train myself to skip lunch. It was difficult at first, but I found the bulletproof coffee and drinking a lot of water helped me get through the day. I also only do this during the work week so I eat whatever I desire on weekends. I do not lose weight on this diet unless I am exercising regularly, but I don’t gain weight, either. It is a perfect solution for me.

My recommendation is to also check with a physician prior to initiating a diet, especially if you have diabetes or take medications. You should have routine check-ups with your physician and you may discuss diets at that time. Although IF is not for everyone, I do believe it can help most people achieve weight loss safely.

Some other pointers are:

  • Be sure to have healthy food available to eat during your feeding period. You do not want to fill up on junk food and empty calories.
  • Stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of water will help you feel less hungry and keep you from getting headaches and becoming lethargic.
  • Have a plan. Try different approaches to IF and pick the one that is right for you. Remember, we are all different.
  • Utilize an iPhone IF app. There are many to choose from. These apps are great for tracking your food intake, weight, and they contain valuable information to help you succeed.

I hope you have gained something positive from this post. My goal is always to help my readers live a happy, healthy life. If you have any topics you would like covered or have any questions for me, please reach out by email. I am always here to help.

Have a great week!

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.

 

 

Ornish vs Mediterranean Diet, Which is Better

What is the healthiest diet?

 

How can I achieve sustainable weight loss?

 

Is it possible to prevent, reverse or control type 2 diabetes with diet?

 

Those who have been following my blog know that I believe in the following key strategies to live a happy, healthy, healing lifestyle:

 

  • Eat whole foods
  • Exercise
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Get 7-8 hours of sleep per night
  • Control stress and anxiety
  • Spend as much time as possible with your happiness elements

 

This post will focus on the best diet to achieve weight loss and keep your body as healthy as possible.  Our family tried the Whole30 diet in October.  It was challenging for us all, but some major lessons were learned from the experience.  First, it is amazing how good you feel when crappy foods are eliminated from your diet.  Your thoughts are clear, your energy level improves, and you feel better in general.  Secondly, your skin improves, you look healthier, and sugar cravings disappear.  Although this diet is hard to continue indefinitely based on its restrictions, I do recommend trying it to get an idea of how the food you eat effects your life.

 

Let’s look at two different diets that may help you.

Dean Ornish’s Spectrum Diet

Dr. Dean Ornish has created a program which is similar to what I believe will lead to a healthier you.  His program claims to be able to reverse heart disease, diabetes, prostate cancer, and lead to weight loss.  Dr. Ornish believes that foods are neither good nor bad, but some are healthier than others.  He believes eating more of the healthy foods such as

 

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Nonfat dairy
  • Fats that contain omega 3 fatty acids
  • Legumes
  • Soy products
  • Egg whites

 

can have anti-aging, anti-cancer, and anti-heart disease effects.  Like me, Dr. Ornish emphasizes whole foods.  Processed foods should be limited.  He believes eating mostly plants in their natural form will lead to better health.

 

Ornish’s diet does not restrict calories unless weight loss is a goal.  He believes in small frequent meals throughout the day which maintain energy levels and controls hunger.

Carbohydrates

This diet limits the following “bad” carbs

 

  • Sugar
  • Concentrated sweeteners
  • White flour
  • White rice
  • Refined carbohydrates

 

Added sugars such as agave, honey, white or brown sugar, maple syrup and refined carbohydrates are limited to 2 servings per day. 

 

Alcohol can be consumed in limited quantities, but is not encouraged and is limited to one serving per day or

 

  • 5 ounces liquor
  • 4 ounces wine
  • 12 ounces beer

Fats

The Ornish diet recommends 4 grams of good fats daily.  These include

 

  • Fish oil
  • Flax seed oil
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Plankton based omega-3 fatty acids

 

Limit calories from fats to 10% or less.  This diet achieves this by not adding fats, oils, avocados, coconut, or olives to the mostly plant-based diet.  The fat will come naturally from grains, vegetables, soy, fruit, legumes, and beans.

 

Cholesterol is limited to 10 mg or less per day.  Non-fat dairy products are optional but should be limited to 2 servings per day.  Alternatives such as soy milk are preferred as they are rich in healthy nutrients and are cholesterol-free.

 

Since nuts contain large amounts of fat, serving sizes are limited.  Three servings of the following types of nuts are recommended.  These specific types contain antioxidants, phytochemicals, and polyphenols which convey cardiovascular benefits.

 

  • 5 tsp pumpkin seeds
  • 6 peanuts
  • 3 pecan halves
  • 1 whole walnut
  • 5 almonds
  • 9 pistachios
  • 2 cashews
  • 5 tsp flax seeds, ground
  • 2 tsp chia seeds or sunflower seeds

 

Low fat packaged foods are not encouraged, but optional.  Remember, whole foods are preferred.

 

 

Protein

Protein, obtained mostly from plants, is encouraged by the Ornish diet.  Examples include.

  • Beans
  • Legumes
  • Tofu
  • Tempeh
  • Egg Whites
  • Non-fat yogurt
  • Non-fat cheese

Other Recommendations

Flavoring foods with herbs, spices, vinegar, and citrus fruits is preferred over salt.  If you are a coffee drinker, limit coffee to one cup per day, or two cups decaf or black or green tea.  Supplements may be taken as well.  Dr. Ornish recommends a low-dose multivitamin and mineral supplement with vitamin B-12, fish oil, and calcium supplements if directed by a physician.

All information regarding the Ornish diet was obtained directly from his website at:

https://www.ornish.com/proven-program/nutrition/

 

The Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean Diet is a way of eating in countries that surround the Mediterranean.  The basic guidelines are as follows.

Foods to eat daily:

  • Whole grains
  • Beans
  • Spices
  • Healthy fats
  • Herbs
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Nuts

To be consumed twice a week:

  • Fish
  • Seafood

Moderate portions of:

  • Dairy products
  • Eggs
  • Poultry (occasional)

Foods to consume infrequently:

  • Red meats
  • Sweets

There are many websites devoted to a Mediterranean diet and lifestyle.  One of my favorites is http://www.oldwayspt.org

This pyramid is found on that site.  This gives a visual explanation of what I have written above.

Why the Mediterranean Diet?

Studies have shown that this diet achieves better results than other diets in many areas:

  1. A 50% lower risk of type 2 diabetes compared to low fat diets.1

 

  1. Lower blood sugars in type 3 diabetics compared to other diets.2

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  1. More effective for sustainable weight loss.4

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  1. Lower rates of cancer, dementia, heart disease, stroke, and overall dementia.6

  1. More favorable cholesterol, blood sugar and inflammation levels compared to low fat diets.

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It is important to realize that what you actually eat depends on your situation and what you are trying to achieve.  The above Mediterranean diet pyramid shows what to eat in general. 

Since most are likely reading this because they want to lose weight, here are some pointers.  Remember, if you are at your goal weight, just eat according to the pyramid above.

Try to stop eating and drinking sweet foods and beverages

This includes those with artificial sweeteners.  Even fruit juices should be avoided.  These items are high in empty calories and can spike insulin levels.  If you refrain from eating sweets, your cravings for them will decrease.  I noticed when on the Whole30 diet that fruits will also start to taste much sweeter and become more enjoyable to consume.

Avoid grains, even whole grains. 

If you want to lose weight, or are having trouble controlling blood sugar, avoiding all grains is important.  Grains contain high levels of carbohydrates.  Grains fit into three broad categories.

     Highly-refined grains

Any foods made with white, wheat or enriched flour.  Some examples include bagels, focaccia bread, pizza, pancakes, pastries, donuts, cookies, chips, pretzels etc.  White rice, tortillas, most granola bars, and ready-to-eat breakfast cereals also fit into this category.  Highly refined grains should ALWAYS be avoided.

     Moderately-processed whole grains

These foods are not as processed as the highly refined carbs but contain rapidly-metabolized starches which spike blood sugar levels much like their highly-refined counterparts. Examples in this category include whole grain versions of pastas, crackers, breads, couscous, brown rice cakes, puffed grain cereals, muesli, and granola.  People at goal weight without diabetes, high triglycerides, or insulin resistance can eat moderately-processed whole grains in limited quantities.

     Intact whole grains

These are grain products that have not been processed.  Examples include whole unpearled barley, wheat and rye berries, oat groats, brown rice and millet.  These are the healthiest grains available but, again, should only be eaten by those who are at goal weight, don’t suffer from diabetes, insulin resistance, or high triglyceridemia.

Eat nine servings of whole fruits and vegetables daily but eat the vegetables first

Most frozen vegetables are almost as good as the fresh variety.  Be sure to eat more vegetables than fruit and eat vegetables with every meal, even breakfast.  Eat the vegetables whole instead of juicing them.  Steer away from starchy vegetables such as potatoes.  Keep serving sizes of yams, carrots and sweet potatoes small.

All fruit is not created equal.

The best fruits to eat are apples, pears, berries and citrus fruits.  Dried fruits should be avoided as they contain concentrated sugars.  The only exception is dried prunes which have a lower glycemic load.  Higher sugar fruits such as bananas, pineapple, grapes and mangoes should be consumed in moderation.

Eat beans and legumes regularly

These are best prepared from the dry versions.  Be careful when using canned beans.  Many contain added sugars and fat.  Beans and legumes add vegetable protein to the diet and have less of an impact on weight gain and blood sugar than whole grains.

Try to eat good fat, protein and fiber with each meal and snack

This has a couple of benefits.  First, blood sugar will rise more slowly and increase satisfaction.  Secondly, combining these leads to a longer digestion time which curbs hunger. 

Don’t skip meals. 

I know intermittent fasting is currently popular and I like to practice it myself.  Eating a good breakfast and small, frequent meals has been shown to help with weight loss.

Eat unsweetened cultured dairy products. 

Some studies have shown that eating dairy reduces diabetes and obesity risk.  It is also better to choose whole or 2% milk products instead of the low-fat or non-fat variety.  Eating aged cheeses is preferable to drinking milk.  Kefir and yogurt can be a great source of microorganisms (probiotics), calcium and protein.  It is always best to consume plain yogurt and sweeten it yourself.  I like to use blueberries, raspberries and blackberries for this purpose.

Always read food labels. 

Don’t fall for marketing slogans such as “healthy” or “low-fat.”  Avoid packaged foods that contain added sugar, refined grains and bad fats.  Remember, it is always best to eat whole foods whenever possible.  If it doesn’t come with a label, it is probably much healthier for your body.

Plan ahead. 

Often we make poor choices when in a hurry or when we haven’t purchased the correct ingredients for healthy meals.  Stay away from fast food and limit trips to restaurants. 

Exercise!  

My readers are probably tired of hearing this but it is probably the most important key to health, happiness and weight loss.  Be active, take the stairs, park further from your destination and walk.  There are many ways to get exercise, you don’t necessarily have to live at the gym to accomplish this.

Get enough sleep. 

This is another thing that comes up over and over in my posts.  Lack of sleep puts you at a higher risk for type 2 diabetes.

Let's Compare the Two Diets

Now that we have explored these two diets, we can compare them.  They are actually not that much different.  They both rely on fruits and vegetables as the primary food source and both prefer you eat the “whole” versions of these.  They both restrict refined sugars, processed foods, and unhealthy carbohydrates.

  The Ornish diet allows 2 servings of “bad carbs” daily whereas the Mediterranean diet advocates consuming them as a treat or on special occasions. 

Fat consumption in the Ornish diet is only 10% of the daily caloric intake whereas the Mediteranean diet allows for approximately 29% fat on a daily basis. 

Every physician I have consulted regarding diets has recommended the Mediterranean diet over all others.  The primary reason for this is the large quantity of clinical data available to support it for heart disease, diabetes treatment and prevention as well as the prevention of neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and Dementia.  The prevention of dementia is of upmost importance to me as I work on a hospital unit that cares for these patients.  This disease is devastating for both the patient as well as the family and care-givers.  Anything I can do to prevent this disease is worth the effort.

U.S. News and World Report ranked 35 diets and ranked the Mediteranean diet #1 and the Ornish diet #9. 

https://health.usnews.com/best-diet/best-diets-overall

This isn’t surprising considering the evidence available.  The main complaint surrounding the Ornish diet was the finding that the fat limitation made the diet hard to adhere to.  Nevertheless, this diet is very good for your heart and is also supported by quality evidence.  I see no problem following this diet if you are able to stick to it.  You will likely lose weight and feel great.  It follows all of my “rules” which are explained at the beginning of this post. 

I plan to stick with the Mediterranean diet for now.  My main reason for this is the evidence supporting its effect on the progression of neurodegenerative diseases.  I have no problem recommending the Ornish diet as well.  I have researched it and find it to be a great alternative for weight loss.  I recommend you take a look at both and make your decision based on what you can maintain.  A diet only works if you are able to stay on it.

As always, if you have any questions or comments positive or negative, please let me know.  I would also love to hear topics you are interested in reading about.  The goal is to keep you informed about anything that supports a happy, healthy, healing lifestyle! 

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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.

 

 

14 Surprising Berberine Uses

The newest supplement available in the Sunshine Store is berberine. We chose to add this product based on the evidence available on its usefulness. As you will learn from this article, berberine may be useful for a variety of health-related conditions. It is one of the few herbal supplements that can have similar effects on the body as prescription medications.

Berberine has been used in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. This yellow, bitter alkaloid is found in the roots, bark, and rhizomes of plants such as Oregon grape, goldenseal, European barberry, and tree turmeric, among others.  

What is berberine used for?

Is it safe?

Are there drug interactions?

As mentioned above, berberine has a variety of uses. Some of the most popular are listed below.

Berberine for Diabetes

Berberine has been shown to have a positive effect on diabetes in several studies. 

Some of these effects are listed below.

Taking 500mg of berberine twice daily for three months in patients with type 2 diabetes may reduce glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c), post-prandial glucose (PPG), and fasting plasma glucose (FPG).1

Taking berberine 500mg two to three times daily for two to three months works as well as metformin two to three times a day or rosiglitazone 4mg daily in the regulation of glucose metabolism in type 2 diabetics.

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Berberine for Hypertension

Hypertension is a growing problem. Approximately one million visits to emergency departments listed hypertension as the primary diagnosis in 2016.

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This condition often does not have symptoms associated with it and can go unnoticed for years. 

Hypertension can damage your arteries, heart, kidneys, eyes, and brain. It may lead to stroke, dementia, kidney failure, and blindness.

A meta-analysis showed that combining berberine with amlodipine is more effective at reducing blood pressure than taking amlodipine alone.

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Source: 5

Berberine for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

There have been studies examining the use of berberine in women with PCOS who were attempting to become pregnant. Although there are mixed results, one study showed that 500mg of oral berberine taken three times daily for three months before IVF increased pregnancy and live birth rate. These results were similar to those obtained when taking oral metformin 500mg three times daily for three months before IVF.

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Berberine for Hyperlipidemia

Meta-analyses show that berberine may reduce total cholesterol (TC), triglycerides (TG), and LDL (bad) cholesterol. 

It can also increase HDL (good) cholesterol levels. It also leads to a more significant reduction in TC and LDL when combined with lipid-lowering medications.

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Berberine may also be useful for the following conditions, although less quality evidence is available to support its use for these.

Congestive heart failure (CHF) – May reduce premature ventricular contractions and lower mortality.

Burns – As an ointment in combination with beta-sitosterol.

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Cholera

Coronary heart disease (CHD) – See hyperlipidemia above.

Diarrhea – May be effective for diarrhea caused by E. coli.

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Glaucoma – As eyedrops in combination with tetrahydrozoline.

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Hepatitis B and C – Berberine decreases triglycerides and blood glucose. It also reduces markers of liver damage, including aspartate aminotransferase (AST) and alanine aminotransferase (ALT).

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Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) – May reduce the frequency of abdominal pain, diarrhea, and defecation frequency when compared to placebo.

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Symptoms of menopause – When taking berberine along with soy isoflavones, vasomotor symptoms in menopausal women may be decreased when compared to calcium plus vitamin D administration.

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Obesity – Berberine has been shown to decrease weight by 2.3 kg (~5 lbs) in obese patients compared with a control group when ingested for twelve weeks.

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Berberine interactions with Drugs:

Drugs used to treat diabetes – Do not use berberine with antidiabetic medications. There is substantial clinical evidence suggesting this combination increases the risk of hypoglycemia. Berberine should not be used with any drug that lowers blood sugar. 

This includes insulin as well as other oral and injectable diabetes medications.

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Amlodipine and other drugs for high blood pressure – Combining berberine with amlodipine may result in a decrease in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

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This effect may also occur with other antihypertensive medications.

Anticoagulants – Since berberine may inhibit platelet aggregation, caution should be used when combining it with antiplatelet or anticoagulant medications. 

The risk of bleeding may be increased.

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Cyclosporine – Do not combine berberine with cyclosporine. This combination may result in an increased level and increased adverse effects of cyclosporine.

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Drugs that may cause sedation – Use caution when combining berberine with medications that produce sedation. 

This combination may lead to an increase in sedative effects. Some examples of sedative agents include.

  • Benzodiazepines
  • Narcotics
  • Barbiturates
  • Sedating antihistamines such as diphenhydramine and hydroxyzine
  • Anticonvulsants

There are other sedating medications, please contact your physician or pharmacist or send me a message to me for clarification.

Medications metabolized by Cytochrome P450 – There are several agents in this category. Below is a shortlist but again, if you have questions about what you are taking, please consult a physician or pharmacist, or simply shoot me an email.

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Ibuprofen (Motrin) – May increase ibuprofen levels.

Losartan (Cozaar) – May decrease therapeutic effects of losartan.

Dextromethorphan (Robitussin DM, Delsym, others) – May increase dextromethorphan levels leading to drowsiness, irritability, and confusion.

Lovastatin (Mevacor) – May increase lovastatin levels.

Sildenafil (Viagra) – May increase sildenafil levels.

Tacrolimus – There has been at least one case report of berberine, causing an increased serum creatinine and tacrolimus level in a 16-year-old patient with idiopathic nephrotic syndrome.

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Patients who take berberine along with tacrolimus should have drug levels checked as tacrolimus dose adjustment may be necessary.

Safety of Berberine in Pregnancy and Lactation

Berberine should NOT be used in pregnant or lactating women. Berberine is believed to cross the placenta and may cause kernicterus and harm the fetus. Berberine may also be secreted into breast milk when taken orally, so it should not be used by breastfeeding mothers.

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Side Effects of Berberine

Although berberine is generally well tolerated, the following side effects were the most commonly reported during research studies.

  • diarrhea
  • constipation
  • abdominal pain
  • abdominal distention
  • vomiting
  • flatulence

Berberine is a substance that has been used in other countries for its health benefits for thousands of years. I became interested in it while reading a book I recently purchased on nutraceutical preparation. This herbal product has the best evidence for its use in diabetes, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, and polycystic ovary syndrome. It can also be effective for several other ailments described above.

 

Berberine should never be used in children or pregnant or breast-feeding mothers. There is some evidence that it may be harmful to the fetus as well as small children. As a pharmacist, I believe in using herbs and medications in pregnancy or children only when absolutely necessary. The risk is just too substantial.

 

Berberine, along with turmeric and ashwagandha, has effects on the body that can rival prescription medications. It can be beneficial for those who have diabetes, PCOS, or obesity. It is generally well-tolerated and is now available in the Sunshine Store for purchase. 

 

Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Always remember to take care of yourself, eat whole foods, drink plenty of water, exercise, and get adequate sleep. These can significantly help in your quest for happiness.

 

 

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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.

 

 

Garcinia Cambogia Medication Interactions, Contraindications, Safety, Effectiveness and Use in Pregnancy and Lactation.

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.

Garcinia cambogia (Malabar tamarind) is a fruit tree found in the evergreen and semi-evergreen forests of southwest India. The fruit of this tree resembles a small pumpkin and comes in a red, orange, or yellow variety. This fruit ripens during the rainy season, and the rind contains large amounts of hydroxycitric acid (HCA). The dried fruit rinds have been used for centuries as a flavoring agent.  

 

In Ayurvedic medicine, Garcinia is used to promote general health. It has also been used for rheumatism and bowel symptoms — an oral rinse containing G. cambogia has been used by veterinarians to treat mouth diseases in cattle.

 

HCA, which is related to citric acid, is a common ingredient in weight loss products. G. cambogia is available as a weight-loss supplement, either alone or mixed with other ingredients.   

 

Garcinia Cambogia Dose

Doses of Garcinia cambogia extract in clinical trials ranged from 1500 to 4667 mg per day. The supplement offered by Sunshine Nutraceuticals contains 700 mg Garcinia cambogia extract, and the recommended dose is one capsule by mouth twice daily 20-30 minutes before a meal with eight ounces of water.

Garcia Cambogia Side Effects

Side effects of Garcinia Cambogia are generally mild and include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Headache
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea

Since Garcinia Cambogia is not centrally active, it should not cause anxiety, hypertension, or problems with sleep. 

Garcinia Cambogia in Pregnancy and Lactation

In my professional opinion, Garcinia cambogia should not be used by pregnant women or those who are breast-feeding. We do not have sufficient evidence to assure its safety; therefore, the risks outweigh the benefits.

 

Garcinia Cambogia Medication Interactions

Antidepressant Drugs and Serotonergic drugs

There has been a case report of serotonin syndrome being caused by a combination of Garcinia extract and escitalopram (Lexapro). The patient was re-challenged with sertraline (Zoloft) and again experienced serotonin syndrome.1

For this reason, caution should be exercised when taking G. Cambogia with any antidepressant medication. Monitor for signs and symptoms of serotonin syndrome.  These include:

  • Headache
  • Agitation
  • Restlessness
  • Confusion
  • Shivering
  • Increased heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • Dilated pupils
  • Loss of muscle coordination
  • Muscle rigidity
  • Muscle Twitching
  • Heavy sweating
  • Diarrhea
  • Goose bumps

Serotonin syndrome may also occur when G. Cambogia is taken with other drugs that have serotonergic properties such as:

  • Tramadol (Ultram)
  • Pentazocine (Talwin)
  • Dextromethorphan (present in some OTC cough and cold preparations) 

Anti-diabetic agents

G. cambogia may increase the hypoglycemic effects of anti-diabetic agents. It is suggested that blood sugars be closely monitored when using both Garcinia and anti-diabetic medications. 

Statins and other hepatotoxic medications

There was a case report of rhabdomyolysis being caused following the ingestion of an herbal medicine containing G. Cambogia.2Caution is recommended when administering statins with other medications which may cause rhabdomyolysis.

Use caution when combining Garcinia with other drugs that negatively affect the liver. Some examples include

  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  • Amiodarone (Cordarone)
  • Carbamazepine (Tegretol)
  • Isoniazid (INH)
  • Methotrexate (Rheumatrex)

Safety of Garcinia Cambogia

According to the TRC Natural Medicines Research Collaboration, Garcinia Cambogia gets a “possibly unsafe” grade. This is due to numerous case reports of liver toxicity. Most of these reports were the result of combination products that included G. Cambogia as one of the ingredients. There were at least two reports where the patient was taking Garcinia alone. Although the casualty was likely or probable, this is still concerning.

 

Effectiveness of Garcinia Cambogia

Obesity

There is conflicting evidence regarding the effects of Garcinia on treating obesity. Some studies show a significant weight loss while others do not. As mentioned in some of my previous posts, I prefer to consult meta-analyses when available. One such study was published by Onakpoya, et al in 2011 in the Journal of Obesity. 

 

The investigators of this meta-analysis did not believe the studies were of sufficient length to assess the effects of HCA on body weight. These studies ranged from two to twelve weeks. There were also different strains of Garcinia used in the studies. We are unsure what impact this might have on bioavailability. 

 

Finally, there was a difference in caloric intake in the various studies. 

 

Calories eaten ranged from 1,000 kcal, to as high as 3,009 kcal per day. This would certainly have an impact on weight loss.

 

The conclusion of this meta-analysis was that Garcinia extracts generate weight loss on the short term. 

 

They point out that the effect is small, and is not statistically significant when only rigorous random controlled trials are considered.3

Garcinia Cambogia Contraindications

The only known contraindication at this time, according to Lexicomp (accessed 1/12/2020), is a known allergy or hypersensitivity to any components of Garcinia Cambogia.

After researching Garcinia cambogia, many questions remain. 

Can this supplement be effective for weight loss long-term?

Does Garcinia cambogia cause liver damage or contribute to increased liver enzymes in some patients?

Is this supplement safe and effective?

The answers to the above questions cannot be answered until new research is available.  The current studies were of insufficient length and not well designed.  The liver damage side effect must be examined more closely before I can recommend starting this supplement for weight loss.

As I have explained in the past, the best way to lose weight is to eat whole foods, avoid fast food, drink plenty of water, and exercise.  You will feel substantially better if you follow these simple rules.  Supplements can help reduce hunger but exercise and proper food intake will get you much better results. 

At this time, my recommendation is to use Garcinia cambogia only if you have had success with it in the past.  If you have had no negative effects and have lost weight, it may be a reasonable option.

 

I will continue to research this supplement.  As new research is available, I will decide whether to keep it, or remove it from our product line.

If you want a safer alternative, I recommend our Keto Ultra supplement.  This contains raspberry ketones, African mango, green tea extract, caffeine, apple cider vinegar, kelp and grape seed extract.  You can order this supplement below.

Our goal is to give our readers the best information available to live a happy, healthy lifestyle.  Sometimes, the information I present to you will not be positive.  I want to remain unbiased with regard to the products I offer for sale.  If you have any questions, please click on the link next to my picture below to send a message.  I will respond!

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.

 

 

The Cyclical Ketogenic Diet and Beta-Hydroxybutyrate (BHB) Salts

The ketogenic diet is one of the most popular weight-loss strategies today because those who stay on the diet are able to lose weight and keep it off.   It works by limiting carbohydrates.  The traditional ketogenic diet consists of approximately 75% of calories as fat, 20% as protein, and only 5% carbohydrates.  This results in a daily carbohydrate intake of around 50 grams.  With the amount of carbs being limited, the body becomes more efficient at breaking down fat into ketones for energy.

The body uses two main sources of fuel; glucose and ketones.  Glucose is obtained when the body breaks down carbohydrates including sugars.  The energy obtained from glucose makes one feel energetic initially but often leads to “crashing” soon after, causing hunger and weakness.  If more carbohydrates are ingested than can be used by the body, the excess is stored as glycogen in the muscles and liver.  When glycogen stores are full, the excess glucose is stored as fat.

If there isn’t enough glycogen or glucose available to provide energy, ketones are utilized.  This energy source is steadier and doesn’t lead to cravings or the crash that often occurs with glucose.   The traditional ketogenic diet is not without adverse effects.  Two of these side effects are discussed below.

 

The Keto Flu

The keto flu can happen during the first couple weeks of starting the diet.  This is your body’s response to changing from glucose to ketones for energy.  The keto flu symptoms are:

  • Nausea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Chills
  • Muscle cramps or aches
  • Irritability
  • Sore throat
  • Poor sleep
  • Trouble concentrating

 

These symptoms typically start twenty-four to forty-eight hours after beginning the diet.  The more your diet was previously high in refined sugars and carbohydrates, the more severe these symptoms will likely be.

Keto Breath

Another common side effect of the keto diet is keto breath.  This “bad breath” symptom will be experience by most people who put their body into ketosis.   It can occur during the first week and is the result of acetone being released from the body.  This side effect is often accompanied by a metallic taste in the mouth and should go away when the body becomes accustomed to being in ketosis. Until this happens, there are some steps that can be taken to help with this pesky problem.

  • Carry Breath Mints: You may not be able to get rid of the acetone on your breath, but you can mask it with breath mints. Sugar-free mints are preferred.
  • Drink More Water: Drinking more water causes more ketones to be released from the body in the urine resulting in less elimination by breathing. Drinking water has other health benefits as well that I have discussed in previous posts.
  • Brush Teeth Frequently: This is another simple strategy to help keep your breath fresh.

The Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD)

The cyclical ketogenic diet is a variation of the ketogenic diet where you follow the 50 gm/day carb diet for 5-6 days per week followed by a higher carb diet for 1-2 days.  This variation is a popular tactic for those trying to build muscle and improve exercise performance as the higher carb days or “refeeding days” replete glucose reserves.  This is important as glycogen is what the body uses for energy during workouts.  These “carbohydrate days” will give your body the glucose it needs during workouts while reaping the benefits of ketosis.

This type of diet has many benefits.  If you don’t ever get to eat carbohydrates, you may feel deprived of some of your favorite tasting food.  The CKD allows you to enjoy these foods one or two days per week.  The body needs carbohydrates to function properly and carb loading keeps the body functioning smoothly. 

The microbiome of the gut will be healthier if you eat more carbs.  This leads to a better functioning gut-brain axis which provides several benefits.   

The keto flu and keto breath are usually less severe with CKD. 

It is important to be selective in the carbohydrates you consume during the CKG.  Try to eat fruit, lentils, sweet potatoes, rice and oatmeal, limiting fat intake during your carbohydrate days.  This is important as the body is only able to utilize one energy source at a time.  Since glucose is the preferred energy source, excess fat consumed during these days will be stored as body fat.  The goal should be to burn all of the glycogen consumed during the refeeding days so ketones are used as energy the rest of the week.

 

One Benefit of CKD - A Higher Level of Anabolic Hormones

Testosterone

 

Testosterone is one of the most important hormones for muscle growth.  A high fat diet increases the concentration of testosterone in the blood.  It has been shown that diets with less than 20% fats can inhibit testosterone production.  This is especially true when compared to diets containing 40% fat. 1

A study by Wang et al. showed a low-fat diet decreased testosterone levels by 12%. 2

A low fat diet decreases the level of testosterone in the bloodstream which, in turn, may lead to a decrease in muscle-building capability.

 

Growth Hormone

Growth hormone (GH) also known as somatotropin or human growth hormone (HGH), stimulates growth and the reproduction and regeneration of cells.  Low levels of this hormone may increase risk of disease and increase body fat. 3

Carbohydrates and sugar increase insulin levels.  More insulin leads to less HGH so reducing carbohydrates in the diet may help to increase human growth hormone. 4

5

 

Insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1)

The deficiency of Insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) is associated with metabolic syndrome.  Metabolic syndrome leads to insulin resistance, increased glucose levels, impaired lipid profile, cardiovascular disease and obesity.  All of these effects are undesirable.  The ketogenic diet increases IGF-1 which may lessen the chances of contracting metabolic syndrome and the negative effects described above. 6

A Great Supplement For Keto Dieters

If there isn’t enough glycogen or glucose available to provide energy, ketones are utilized.  This happens even when we consume a regular diet during the night as we sleep.  As mentioned above, this energy source is steadier and doesn’t lead to cravings or the crash that often occurs with glucose.  There are three ketone bodies.  These are acetoacetate, BHB, and acetone.   Beta-hydroxybutyrate is a great energy source when eating a ketogenic diet.  When glucose is limited, mental concentration can be negatively affected. 7

BHB salt supplements can be used when energy levels are low while on the ketogenic diet. 

Michael Brown pictured with Final Thought written

The ketogenic diet has become very popular.  This diet works by forcing the body to break down fat for energy.  For those who work out, the cyclical ketogenic diet is likely a better option.  This diet allows for one to two days per week of carbohydrate loading to build up glycogen stores for quick energy supply during physical exertion.  It is important to eat “clean” carbohydrates rather than junk food.  Remember when carb loading to avoid too many fat calories because the body can only utilize one energy source at a time.  Finally, consider utilizing BHB salts for energy during the beginning of your keto diet and anytime you feel sluggish.  This supplement can get you over the hump without resorting to eating too many carbohydrates.  If you have any questions regarding the ketogenic or cyclical ketogenic diet, please feel free to contact me.  If I don’t know the answer to your question, I will research it and get back to you as soon as possible.  Thank you for reading my post.

 

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.

 

 

My Whole30 Summary

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.

What is the Whole30?
Should I try it?
Is it hard?
Will I lose weight?


I discovered the Whole30 while researching the best body detox plans for a recent blog post I was writing. I don’t like to make recommendations to my audience that I am not willing to try myself. That being said, I started the thirty-day program on October 15th, 2019. I was well aware that Halloween would be a bummer (no candy), but I wanted to do this. I set up a Google Doc on my phone and kept notes of what I ate and how I felt during the program. My starting weight was 188 pounds.

What is the Whole30

The Whole30 was created in 2009 by Melissa Hartwig. This is not a diet or a test of willpower, it’s a program designed to change the way you think about food. The basic premise is simple; some foods are not good for your body. Of course, many of these are the foods we crave the most. Eliminating all the “unhealthy” foods removes toxins from your body. Saying goodbye to the “sugar monster” is difficult at first, but as you will see, changes the way you feel. No fast food, no added sugar or sugar substitutes, and no cheese! This program changed the way I plan to eat going forward.


I have to admit I was skeptical.


What you will read in this post is what I went through during the thirty days. Some days were difficult. There was bickering at the dinner table. The kids missed “their food”. Don’t send me messages about child abuse, I did not make them stick to the program, but I didn’t make fancy Mexican and Italian dishes, either. Ashley looked at me one night and said, “I just want my food back”. These kids are not fans of fast food or restaurants, except sushi. They love daddy’s cooking.

Whole30 Rules

The rules seem very simple at first. The problem is there are almost no processed foods that don’t contain an ingredient you can’t have. You are much better off only eating fresh organic food. Fruits and vegetables will become your best friend. Here are the rules:

  • No added sugar or sugar substitutes of any kind. This includes honey and agave nectar.
  • No alcohol! This was the most natural rule for me.
  • No grains. No wheat, corn, rice, barley, oats, millet, quinoa, etc. This covers a lot of foods. I suggest referring to the Whole30 book for a complete list.
  • No Legumes. No beans, peas, chickpeas, lentils, or peanuts. That means no peanut butter. You can easily substitute almond butter or cashew butter — no soy of any kind or tofu, edamame, or tempeh. Soy sneaks into products almost as often as added sugar. Learn to read the labels.
  • No dairy. Another crushing blow to me. No cheese, milk, cream cheese, or sour cream. You can eat clarified butter, but I skipped it. I used olive oil and coconut oil for all of my cooking, a change I plan to continue.
  • No carrageenan, MSG, or added sulfites. Careful with dried fruits and sausage, be sure there are no sulfites added.
  • No junk foods or baked goods made with improved ingredients. This means you can’t make pancakes out of coconut flour. I will give you some suggestions for sweet snacks later in the post.
  • Do not weigh or measure yourself in any way during the program. Just before and after. This is to keep you from concentrating on your weight and missing other benefits.

Preparing for the Whole30

I am going to stress this step. Be sure you have an adequate supply of “Whole30 compliant” food in your house before you start. Do not try to wing it! I suggest stocking up on fresh fruits and vegetables, almonds, cashews, eggs, and other sources of protein. If you are vegan, you are in good shape, remember, no grains. There are a few bars you can use that I will get to later.

If you don’t prepare, you probably will fail.

One of the things we ate several times is various forms of curry. This is ideal because not only can you change up the vegetables, the turmeric in the curry is very good for your body. I suggest stocking up on curry powder.

Be ready to spend more time cooking and preparing meals. There are no drive-throughs in this plan. Give yourself an hour for dinner preparation each night. I will share ideas for meals later. My plan was to eat simple things during the day and make a healthy dinner at night.

Restaurants and the Whole30

My suggestion is to plan to stay away from restaurants for thirty days. We went out once, and it was extremely frustrating. There was almost nothing on the menu that fit the plan. It was a horrible experience and, if I do this again, I will prepare every meal myself. I am not a huge fan of restaurants anyway, so this isn’t a significant loss for me.

Whole30 Compliant Snack Bars

There are a few snack bars that are Whole30 compliant and I have listed a few here.  The most inexpensive ones I was able to find are pictured above.  Please note that all Larabars are not Whole30 compliant.  The ones listed above are fine but please read ingredients on anything processed prior to eating.

Some of the EPIC bars such as the one pictured are also Whole30 compliant.  Just a warning, this chicken one is spicy!  Be sure to check all labels because some I found had added sugar.

RX bars are also mostly compliant.  I would not suggest eating any of these bars often.  Just keep them on hand for emergency use.  It is much better to always eat whole foods.

A Few Whole30 Recipes I Used

I have added a few recipes to this post that my family ate during the Whole30 experience.  The first is a snack bar that is super easy to make and very good.  So good, in fact, I am still making these even after finishing the Whole30.  The second is a frittata where you could substitute virtually any vegetable that works with eggs.  The last is a curry recipe. As I said above, we ate a lot of curry during the Whole30 and you could use any vegetables or curry types for this. 

My Experience with the Whole30

My starting weight was 188 pounds on 10/15/19. The first day was excellent. In the morning, I had black coffee only. For lunch, I had cherry tomatoes, blackberries, and raspberries. This was my pattern, although some days, I added almonds or cashews and turkey or tuna to lunch. I skipped breakfast almost every day, which is typical for me. The first night I made chicken primavera from the Whole30 book for dinner.

Day two, I was tired and hungry. I made a spinach frittata for dinner. I am not a fan of eggs, but it was pretty good.

Day three was a good day. I had a false sense that the hard part was over, but I was very wrong. Spaghetti squash with marinara sauce, steamed broccoli, and chicken Italian from 365 was dinner.

Day four, I was sluggish in the AM, but the day got better.

On day five, Luke Combs came to Portland, and Cathy and I went to see him. It was a great concert, and I didn’t think much about food. I made pork meatballs and sweet potatoes with bell peppers, zucchini, and tomatoes in a red curry sauce.

Day six was the WORST day of all, especially in the evening. I ate a lot of food but I felt like my energy was depleted. I wasn’t sure if I could make it. Looking back, I’m glad I pushed through. I worked the evening shift and didn’t get home until after midnight.

Day seven, I slept until 10 am.  I had two poached eggs and stuffed peppers before leaving for work. The worst was over!

Day eight, even with five hours of sleep, I felt amazing all day. I had read about it, but guess what happened next?

Tiger blood

The Whole30 book says this should happen from day 16 to 27 but it occurred for me on day 9. I can’t explain this feeling, but it is terrific. I felt better than I have in years. I attribute it to being detoxed off of all the crap I had been eating. I won’t bore you with all the details of the rest of the days, but they all went pretty well. I did get a little tired of the same food towards the end. In the last couple of days, I wanted to change up the diet a little.

We had curry in one form or another nine different nights. I had it leftover at least twice. I would say one of the main things I learned is that curry is excellent and healthy.

Michael Brown pictured with Final Thought written

I woke up at 2 am on day 31 and weighed myself. I was down to 175.8 pounds, so in 30 days, I lost 12.2 pounds.

I am not sure if I would do this again, but it wasn’t terrible, especially after day six. I did feel great during the last couple of weeks.

My wife also lost weight but struggled at times to find compliant food to eat when I wasn’t around.  Her skin improved, and she experienced no migraine headaches during the thirty days.  

Cathy brought home a pizza for the kids on day 15. This was probably the hardest thing to ignore because it smelled delicious plus I was hungry. I had a few days that I had to pass on Krispy Kreme donuts and candy, as well. I thought I would miss Diet Coke more than I did, but I guess I missed Mexican and Italian food much more.

Here is what I plan to change as a result of this experience; I will continue to drink my coffee black and cut back on soda, I want to continue the habit of drinking a lot of water daily, and fresh fruit and vegetables will always be available. I plan to snack on them often. I will keep monitoring my weight and try to stay where I am currently.

If you are interested in what I ate the other days, feel free to send me a message. I kept track of my meals, so I’d be glad to share that with you. If you have any questions regarding my experience, feel free to ask.

I am creating a diet of my own that I will share will you in the next few months.  One of the new products I have enjoyed is available below.  Give it a try.  Who doesn’t like pizza?  This crust eliminates unnecessary carbs!

I am creating a diet of my own that I will share will you in the next few months.  One of the new products I have enjoyed is available below.  Give it a try.  Who doesn’t like pizza?  This crust eliminates unnecessary carbs!

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.

 

 

Spinach Tomato Bell Pepper Frittata Whole 30 Compliant

Spinach Tomato Bell Pepper Fritatta Whole 30 Compliant

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.

I am now on Day #19 of the Whole 30 diet.

Eleven days to go.

To be honest, I am not a big fan of eggs unless they are part of a cake!

I did decide to try a frittata because eggs are a great source of protein and I wanted something a little different to try on this diet. This recipe is super easy and I actually enjoyed it. It will probably find its way onto our table at least every other week.

This is one of those recipes that lends well to substitutions. I would love to add mushrooms (most of my family hates them), ham, green onions, salsa, etc. You could add anything that goes with eggs to this recipe!

The best thing about this recipe is it is SUPER FAST and EASY!!

You can have this on the table in no time. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.


Initial ingredients for the fritatta

As you can see from the picture above, there are not many ingredients for this recipe. The only thing not pictured that you will need is some sort of Whole 30 compliant fat. I use coconut oil. Be sure to gather all ingredients to be sure you have everything. For this recipe, I used eight large eggs, a bag of baby spinach, a red bell pepper, several cherry tomatoes a small regular tomato and half of an onion. As mentioned above, you could substitute many ingredients.

If you aren’t doing Whole 30, cheese would be a fabulous addition.

Chopped onion and red pepper

The first step is to peel and chop the onion. Next, chop up the entire red pepper discarding the stem, seeds, and membrane from the inside of the pepper. Set these aside.

halved cherry tomatoes and chopped tomatoes

Next seed and dice the tomato and cut the cherry tomatoes in half. Set these both aside.

The next step is to prepare the eggs. Crack the eggs into a bowl, use a whisk to beat them well as shown above and set the bowl aside. I added salt and pepper at this stage as well. About one teaspoonful of each.

Now that everything is prepared, we are ready to start cooking. The first thing to do is get a large oven-proof frying pan and add 2 tablespoonfuls of coconut oil as shown above. Melt oil over medium heat. I use medium heat throughout this recipe. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. We will bake the final mixture at a high temperature for a short period.

Add onions, chopped tomatoes, and bell pepper to melted coconut oil

After the coconut oil is melted, add the onions, bell pepper, and chopped tomatoes to the skillet. DO NOT ADD the cherry tomatoes. We will add them later. Cook this mixture for three to four minutes or until the vegetables begin to soften.

Add Spinach

Add the spinach and cook until wilted. Once the spinach is wilted, the eggs can be added.

cook until spinach is wilted.

This is what your pan should look like prior to adding the beaten eggs.

Add beaten eggs to vegetables

Add the beaten eggs to the vegetables. Do not stir. The eggs should be folded into the veggies with a rubber spatula.

Fold eggs into veggies

Fold the eggs into the vegetables quickly before the eggs begin to set. Cook for about three minutes.

Place cherry tomato halves on to of egg mixture and bake

Place cherry tomatoes on the top of the egg mixture and bake in the 500 degree over for about five to seven minutes or until mixture is set throughout and not runny. This one took seven minutes and turned out perfect.

Cooked frittata ready to slice and serve

Get Anxiety Formula Now

Spinach Tomato Bell Pepper Frittata Whole 30 Compliant

Michael Brown

This is a quick and easy, super healthy fritatta that is Whole 30 compliant.

Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 20 mins

Course Main Course
Cuisine American

Servings 4
Calories 505 kcal

Equipment

  • Oven Proof Large Deep Skillet or Frying Pan
  • Sharp Knife
  • Whisk
  • Wooden Spoon
  • Large Rubber Spatula
  • Butter Knife for Serving

Ingredients

  

  • 8 eggs
  • 8 oz spinach
  • 1 tomato
  • 12 cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp Coconut Oil
  • 1 Red Bell pepper Any color will work
  • 1/2 onion

Instructions

 

  • Gather ingredients as shown.
  • chop and peel onion and red bell pepper. Discard stem, membrane and seeds of bell pepper. Set aside.
  • Chop and seed regular tomato and cut each cherry tomato in half.
  • Crack eggs into bowl, add one teaspoonful each of salt and pepper.
  • Beat eggs and set aside
  • Melt coconut oil over medium heat. Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
  • Add onion, bell pepper and chopped tomato to pan. DO NOT add cherry tomatoes yet! Cook for about 3 minutes.
  • Add spinach and cook until wilted.
  • This is what the mixture should look like prior to adding eggs.
  • Add beaten eggs, do not stir. Fold eggs into vegetable mixture quickly using rubber spatula before eggs begin to set.
  • Cook mixture for about three minutes.
  • Add cherry tomato halves to the top of the egg mixture. Place in preheated 500 degree oven and bake 5 to 7 minutes or until eggs are totally set.
  • Slice the frittata into wedges like a pie and serve immediately.

Keyword Egg recipe, fritatta

Cut the fritatta into wedges like a pie and serve. Hot sauce and salsa can be added. ENJOY!


Michael J. Brown, RPh, BCPS, BCPP

Thank you for visiting our site! More to come soon. Be happy and healthy!

Panang Curry With Chicken Recipe For Whole30

Panang Curry With Chicken Recipe For Whole30YUMMY!

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.

I have had a wonderful experience with the Whole30 diet so far. I am now on day number twelve and feel better than I have in years. I wore a pair of pants to work today that haven’t fit in many months. I am very happy with the program so far.

This is a happy, healthy, healing website so this last week I have decided to start adding healthy recipes to the website. I love to cook, and have many recipes my father left me after he passed away that I would like to share with my readers.

Cooking is something I use to relax and unlike most people, I enjoy grocery shopping as well. It is just a break from my pharmacy life at the hospital. This recipe is one I created a couple of weeks ago for the Whole30 program. This is not a difficult recipe and please feel free to substitute any vegetable that can be stir-fried. I would have added mushrooms but my family doesn’t enjoy them so I left them out.

I have recently begun to use imperfect produce for some of my vegetables. This is a fantastic program that benefits farmers as well as consumers. You simply go on-line and tell them what you want, and they deliver organic produce to your doorstep weekly. The produce may have small blemishes but you save money and support local farmers so I am all for it. This recipe is perfect to utilize seasonal vegetables.

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Ingredients

Ingredients- The bell pepper and spices are not shown.

Here are most of the ingredients you will need for this recipe. The bell pepper and spices aren’t shown but you will see them later.

Yellow squash, zucchini, and green beans

I always like to cut everything up before I start cooking. I also often measure everything out. I do this for two reasons. First, missing ingredients will be discovered BEFORE you start cooking. It will also prevent over-cooking because this step often takes longer than anticipated. The yellow squash, green beans, and zucchini are pictured above.

The pesky elusive green pepper is pictured above before and after chopping.

The tomatoes and chicken breast are the last two ingredients that need to be cut up. If you prefer vegan or vegetarian meals, omit the chicken.

Spices Needed

Here are the spices you will need. Cumin, black pepper, turmeric, and salt

Time to Cook

Browning the Chicken

The first cooking step is to heat a large, deep frying pan or wok over medium heat and add the coconut oil. You may use any fat source allowed by Whole30. Brown the chicken until no pink color remains. This usually takes five minutes or so.

While the chicken is browning, prepare your curry by adding it to a small amount of coconut milk and stirring. Do not start with as much paste as shown above unless you like your food super spicy. This was way too hot for the kids and my wife, but mom and I ate it and it was wonderful. I suggest starting with a tablespoon of paste. You can always add more paste later.

Mix the curry and coconut milk mixture well heating over medium heat. Add the tomatoes and cook for another minute.

All vegetables added to the chicken, curry mixture and tomatoes
Add the Vegetables

The final step is to add the vegetables. I usually add the sweet potatoes first and let them cook for about three to four minutes (covered), and then add the rest of the vegetables. The sweet potatoes take a little bit longer to cook. If you prefer your potatoes a little firmer, add all the vegetables at the same time. Stir the mixture well. Turn the heat down to medium-low, cover, and cook for about eight minutes or until the vegetables are tender, stirring every two to three minutes.

ENJOY!!!

Panang Curry With Chicken for Whole30


Link To Sunshine Store

Panang Curry With Chicken Recipe For Whole30

Michael Brown
This is a quick and easy super healthy panang curry recipe I came up with while on the Whole30 plan. Even the kids loved it. Give it a try.
Prep Time 45 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mediterranean
Servings 5 people

Equipment

  • Large Wok or Deep Large Frying Pan with lid
  • Measuring Cups
  • Wooden Spoon
  • Bowls
  • Large knife for chopping

Ingredients
  

  • 1 tbsp Coconut Oil or other Whole30 compliant Fat
  • 1 lb Chicken Breast (Boneless, Skinless), chopped may use thighs if desired or Omit for Vegan
  • 1 tbsp Panang Curry Paste Be Careful! Start with a little and add more to taste. This can be very spicy!
  • 1 cup Coconut Milk You can add more if desired. I use 365 Organic Milk.
  • 2 cups Yellow Squash, chopped Butternut Squash can be substituted
  • 2 cups Zucchini Squash, chopped
  • 2 cups Sweet Potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup Carrots, chopped
  • 1 each Bell Pepper, chopped, any color
  • 1 each Medium Red Onion, Chopped could use any type of onion here.
  • 1 cup Green Beans, cut into 2 inch segments
  • 1 each Large Tomato, seeded and cubed
  • 1 tbsp Cumin Adjust amount to taste
  • 2 tsp Tumeric Adjust amount to taste
  • 1 tsp Salt Adjust amount to taste
  • 2 tsp Freshly Ground Black pepper Adjust amount to taste, can substitute plain black pepper

Instructions
 

  • Melt the coconut oil over medium heat, add chicken and cook until brown.
  • While chicken is cooking, mix the Panang curry paste into the coconut milk and set aside.
  • After chicken is browned, add the curry, coconut milk mixture to the chicken and stir.
  • Add the tomato and mix well. Add the cumin, turmeric, salt, and pepper, and stir.
  • Add the Sweet Potato first and cook mixture covered for two to three minutes. Add the remaining vegetables, stir well, cover and cook for eight minutes or until vegetables are tender stirring mixture every two to three minutes.
  • Serve in bowls



Michael J. Brown, RPh, BCPS, BCPP
Clinical Pharmacist

Best Cleanses and Detoxes for Weight Loss

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.

Have you felt crappy lately?

Have you had low energy or problems sleeping?

Do you ever consider trying a body cleanse or detox program for weight loss?

Body cleansing and detox have become very popular in recent years. Some people use these for health reasons and others for weight loss. Cleansing and detoxes are meant for short term use only and are used to eliminate toxins from the body.

Due to global industrialization, we are all subjected to harmful chemicals daily. These chemicals include pesticides, phthalates, bisphenol A, and many others. Adverse health conditions can be caused or exacerbated by these chemicals, including various cancers,1

reproductive effects, 2

and cardiovascular disease.3

There are more than 80,000 chemicals registered for use in the US. Each year, 2000 new ones are added. A large percentage of these have not been adequately studied for detrimental health effects.4

Naturopathic doctors study methods of detoxification during their schooling. We know that medical nutrition can treat and prevent several ailments, including allergies, asthma, and inflammation. It can also be useful in treating and averting toxic environmental exposures.

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The purpose of this article is to present cleanses and detoxes available to help in weight loss. Some of these may also help rid the body of toxins. 

It is essential to be aware of the harmful effects some of these detoxes and cleanses may have on our bodies.

Most of these methods consist of fasting, following a specific diet, and drinking plenty of water. 

What are the best choices?

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) promotes a healthy digestive tract by creating an environment more conducive to “good” bacteria. This can lead to improved absorption of nutrients, which increase energy, metabolism, and aids in cholesterol removal.

 It has also been associated with improving insulin sensitivity. Some report ACV can diminish appetite leading to weight loss.


APV can lead to stomach upset and may remove the enamel from teeth when consumed as a liquid.


If you plan to incorporate ACV into your weight loss program, I suggest using capsules that will protect your teeth. You may also consider making a salad dressing using it in a diluted form. Below is a simple recipe for ACV salad dressing:

Apple Cider Vinegar Salad Dressing

¼ cup Apple Cider Vinegar
1/3 Cup high quality extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons sweet mustard (I like Beaver brand sweet hot mustard)
3-4 teaspoons real honey (add to taste)
Salt and pepper to taste

Use an immersion blender to mix or make in a salad dressing shaker.

Whole 30

The whole 30 was started ten years ago by Melissa Hartwig Urban. This is an outstanding program that I am starting myself.

If you sign up at her website, you will receive the Whole 30 starter kit. She includes a few recipes and simple rules for success. I am not going to suggest this will be easy! Here are the foods and substances you must avoid for 30 days:

Added sugar, real or artificial
Alcohol of any kind
Grains
Legumes
Dairy products
Carrageenan, MSG, or sulfites
Baked goods, junk foods, or treats with “approved” ingredients
No weighing yourself or taking body measurements for 30 days!

This is a way to change the way you eat and learn how your body feels without preservatives and high calorie, unhealthy foods.  The complete rules of this plan can be found at:

https://whole30.com/whole30-program-rules/

 

Juice Detox Diets

There are many juice diets available on the internet for purchase. These usually promise weight loss and removal of toxins from your body. Most of these products are very expensive and may or may not include supplements. 

I am very wary of any detox or cleanse that starves the body, especially over a long period. As explained in last week’s post, when our body goes into starvation mode, metabolism slows, and it becomes harder to lose weight.

Some Juice diets only allow consumption of 400 calories per day. This will lead to weight loss but also increases cortisol levels. Cortisol is the primary stress hormone found in our bodies. These levels can remain elevated even after a 21-day caloric restriction of 1200 kcal/day.

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This increase in cortisol can lead to binge eating due to appetite stimulation.

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Most juice diets are similar to the lemon detox described below but are probably more healthy because they contain more nutrients.

 

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The Lemon Detox Diet

The Lemon detox program, also known as the Master Cleanse or Lemonade Diet, was developed by Stanley Burroughs in the 1940s. It is a very low calorie diet (VLCD) providing 800-1000 kcal/day. This method substitutes meals with:

· two tablespoons of lemon juice
· two tablespoons of maple syrup
· cayenne pepper
· water

A research study was conducted in 2015 using the lemon detox diet. In this study, lemon juice was mixed with organic maple and palm syrups. Overweight Korean women were divided into three groups. The period of the detox was seven days. 


This study found that the lemon detox diet can reduce body fat, improve insulin resistance, and may have a positive effect on cardiovascular disease risk factors. 


There were some unexpected changes in homocysteine levels and serum lipid profiles of the subjects in the Lemon-D group, which questions its positive cardiovascular effects.

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Colon Sweep Total Cleansing Formula is Sunshine Nutraceutical’s blend of natural substances specially designed to detox the body. All of our products are manufactured in an FDA certified facility in the United States. This supplement is intended to be taken once daily. The ingredients contained in each capsule are:

Calcium Carbonate (200mg) – Calcium is vital for healthy bones and teeth, and in its carbonate form decreases stomach acid to prevent or treat heartburn.

 

 Proprietary Blend (500mg) contains the following:

  •  Oat (seed): Primary use is to relieve nervousness and anxiety.
  •  Alfalfa (leaf): Used to decrease cholesterol levels and stomach upset.
  •  Psyllium (husk): Increases bulk in stool, helps with colon cleansing.
  •  Lactobacillus acidophilus: Treats lactose intolerance and overgrowth of bacteria in the intestines.
  •  Rhubarb (root): Natural laxative that works without creating “lazy bowel”
  •  Gentian (root): Used for many medical conditions such as gastritis, diarrhea, flatulence, vomiting, and heartburn.
  •  Aloe Vera (leaf): Decreases constipation
  •  Cascara Sagrada (bark): Stimulant laxative used to clean out the GI tract.
  •  Goldenseal (root): Also used for a variety of GI disorders, including constipation.
  •  Buckhorn bark: Has a laxative effect on the body.
  •  Bentonite: A bulk laxative
Michael Brown pictured with Final Thought written

Obesity is a significant problem in the United States. The National Center for Health Statistics estimates 39.8% of adults over 20 years old were obese, and another 31.8% were overweight in 2015-2016. The rates of obesity have increased for all population categories during the last several decades.

It is not surprising than many are looking for a quick fix for this problem. Unfortunately, we don’t become obese overnight, and we can’t remedy the problem quickly. My research into cleanses and detox programs have led me to the following recommendations.

Start with the Whole 30 plan. I am now on day #9 of this diet and at the present time, feel outstanding. There have been periods where I have felt low on energy. This was especially evident during the evening of day six. I am hoping I have passed the sluggish stage.

I recommend this plan first because you are still eating plenty of calories. You are detoxing your body by drinking a lot of water and consuming only whole foods. It is not easy to eliminate all added sugar, sugar substitutes, dairy, and grain from your diet, but I feel really good and have learned a lot from this program in the last two weeks.

The Whole 30 teaches you how your body can feel in the absence of chemicals and processed foods. It does take more time to prepare meals, but I have been able to cook dinner each night, and my kids have enjoyed every meal so far! Look for my post on my experience with the Whole 30 in the next month.

I recommend avoiding juice detoxes. The weight loss will likely not last after the detox ends. There is a good chance your cortisol level will increase, making you hungry. Your body needs a certain number of daily calories to function correctly. These programs are expensive and have limited data to support their use.

Experimenting with apple cider vinegar or a colon cleanse supplement such as Colon Sweep is also an option and will allow you to maintain your current eating habits. Just remember to use these products in moderation. There is no reason to take Colon Sweep capsules daily.

I hope I have answered your questions regarding cleanses and detoxes for weight loss. If you have any further questions or comments, please feel free to contact me. If you believe juice detoxes have helped, I want to hear from you. My ultimate goal is to make this blog as informative and as useful as possible for my readers.

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.

 

 

Are Rasberry Ketones Safe While Pregnant Or Breastfeeding? Do They Work For Weight Loss? Are There Side Effects?

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.

What can I use raspberry ketone for?

Is raspberry ketone safe while pregnant or breastfeeding?

Is a raspberry ketone supplement right for me?

Raspberry ketone is the compound found in the red raspberry responsible for its distinctive odor. This substance is often used as a flavoring agent in the food industry.

 1

Raspberry ketone is a popular weight loss supplement. This substance has also has been used to promote hair growth and improve the elasticity of the skin.

This post will take a closer look at this unique substance and the data to support its use. Raspberry ketone is available at our Sunshine Store in both capsule and liquid form.

Raspberry Ketones for Weight Loss and Obesity

Raspberry ketone helps to regulate adiponectin in the body. Adiponectin is a protein specific to adipocytes (cells that store fat). Adiponectin is thought to affect both insulin resistance and atherosclerosis.

 Raspberry ketone helps to burn fat by breaking it up more efficiently within these specialized cells. 

Higher levels of adiponectin are found in people with healthy weight. As overweight individuals lose weight, adiponectin levels increase.

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After four weeks of supplementation with raspberry ketone, Ushiki et al. were able to show a significant loss of both body weight and body fat. Arteriosclerosis index scores and triglyceride levels were also suppressed.

 4

 

The data mentioned above is from three small studies. There are many success stories on the internet for individuals claiming raspberry ketone has helped them lose weight. 

I am currently in the middle of the Whole 30 diet, so am unable to test the product at this time. I plan to try my supplement in both forms to see if it indeed curbs my appetite.

 More research needs to be conducted to determine the optimum dose, potential side effects, and effectiveness of raspberry ketone supplements in helping with weight loss. 

 

Raspberry Ketones for Hair Loss and Skin Rejuvenation

Raspberry ketone may be useful in treating alopecia (hair loss).

A small study was conducted by Harada et al. in 2008. This study had many limitations, including a small sample size (N=10).

After five months of daily treatment with topical 0.01% raspberry ketone cream, 50% of the subjects showed increased hair growth.


This same study also looked at the effects of raspberry ketones on skin elasticity.

The study was performed on ten healthy females. The researchers concluded the topical raspberry ketone increased cheek skin elasticity.

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Raspberry ketone works by promoting the release of insulin growth factor 1 (IGF-1) in the scalp. This helps to create new hair cells and increase hair count.

Raspberry Ketone Use During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Although the FDA categorizes raspberry ketone as “Generally Recognized as Safe” when used as a food additive, there is insufficient evidence to determine whether this substance is a safe supplement for weight loss in individuals who are pregnant or breastfeeding. I would suggest not using raspberry ketone if you fit into either of these categories.

Raspberry Ketone Side Effects

More studies need to be conducted to determine the incidence of various side effects that may be caused by raspberry ketone. I have listed a few adverse effects reported by users of this substance below:

  • Increased blood pressure and heart rate.
  • Nausea.
  • feeling jittery.
  • Decreased blood sugar levels.
Michael Brown pictured with Final Thought written

After researching raspberry ketone, I believe this supplement can work for some people.  I would prefer to see more research on its effect on weight loss.  I do not think this supplement is harmful, but would definitely not recommend it to a woman who was pregnant or breastfeeding. I feel the risk outweigh the benefit in this circumstance. 


Overall I have been impressed with the positive information I have learned while researching my supplements. I plan to keep the raspberry ketone in my store as I believe it may benefit some of my readers. 

My product also contains African Mango, which has positive effects on obesity and diabetes.


I would love to hear feedback from anyone who has used this product. I may even add your story to this post!

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.