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April 19 2014

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The Coffee-Free Way to Kick-Start Your Day

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photo_blogThis column features tips and advice from a revolving cast of industry leaders on hand to discuss your beauty dilemmas, from blemishes to Botox.

I am hooked on my morning coffee for energy. Is there a natural alternative that’s better for my body?

First, I’d ask: What’s your reason for wanting to give up coffee? If you’re having only one cup a day, it’s unlikely to do much harm. In fact, coffee has been shown to increase metabolism (half a cup a day might boost metabolism by 4 percent), and it’s rich in antioxidants. But the number one reason most people cut it out? Coffee increases adrenaline, which can heighten anxiety. It’s also very acidic, if you have any gut issues. I’d suggest starting to wean yourself off with a caffeinated beverage, as this will help lessen the side effects of “coming off” the liquid fuel. Start with black tea, the highest in caffeine, then after a week, switch to green tea, then lastly to white (unfermented green tea), which is the lowest in caffeine. All these drinks will boost your energy and are rich in antioxidants. Tea also contains the amino acid L-theanine, which has a calming effect on anxiety. If you want to avoid caffeine entirely, switch to a ginseng tea. It has many health benefits—ranging from enhanced immunity to improvement of mental and physical performance—and will give you a boost in energy. Added bonus: It has a cortisol-sparing effect, so it actually helps treat the adrenal fatigue associated with high coffee intake.

A leader in herbal medicine, Daniela Turley is a board member of The American School of Natural Health, a member of The American Herbalists Guild, and The College of Practitioners of Phytotherapy. Born and raised in England, Turley received her bachelor of science in herbal medicine, and held an honorary position at the Hale Clinic, the renowned complementary health center in London. In 2011, Turley moved to the New York City where she joined the practice of Shellie Goldstein Acupuncture.

—As told to Kari Molvar

Can Your Pillowcase Lead to Better Skin?

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breakfast-at-tiffanys-cat
There has been a lot of pillow talk recently, with fabric cases claiming to do everything from preventing fine lines to minimizing breakouts. But does a rectangular piece of cloth have the power to change your complexion? We asked New York City dermatologist Francesca Fusco if this trend is beauty magic or total B.S:

There are a handful of high-tech linens worth considering, noted Fusco. The most promising one is the Iluminage Skin Rejuvenating Pillowcase, which has support from a small study that demonstrated a decrease in the appearance of crow’s-feet after eight weeks of sleeping on a pillowcase that contains copper oxide, which “upregulates the secretion of extracurricular skin proteins,” she explained. Something like the BeautyZZZ Natural Silk Pillowcase takes the classic version to the next level with its chemical-free, hypoallergenic material. “It will diminish sleep lines as well as be gentle on sensitive-skin types,” Fusco said. “But make sure you wash it with hypoallergenic detergent, otherwise you defeat the purpose.” Then there are pillowcases geared toward breakouts, like the Nufabrx Pillowcase for Blemish Prone Skin, which has a blend of four essential oils in its weave. “Acne can be exacerbated by stress and the subsequent cortisol spikes—if aromatherapy helps diminish stress and subsequent acne, this pillowcase could be a good thing.”

The bottom line: Bonus points for sleeping on complexion-boosting blends, but laundering whatever fabric you put your face to each night on the reg is the real key to getting a flawless facade with your eyes closed.

Photo: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

No Dairy? No Sugar? What Really Works for Clearing Up Acne

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isabel-marantThis column features tips and advice from a revolving cast of industry leaders on hand to discuss your beauty dilemmas, from blemishes to Botox.

I’ve heard cutting out dairy and sugar can help clear up acne. True? I want to be sure before I make the sacrifice.

Yes, studies link a diet high in dairy and sugar to acne, sadly. The same research also shows acne sufferers tend to have low fish intake and high saturated and trans-fat levels. It seems that this kind of diet can induce insulin and sebum production in the skin, which can aggravate acne. So avoiding sugar, high-glycemic-index foods, and cows’ dairy, and taking a probiotic (at least 5 billion organisms) would be the first step. Next, I would recommend a dietary supplement containing specific nutrients: zinc, B-complex, vitamin A, vitamin E, and copper, for example, have been shown to clear up 88 percent of patients’ acne in eight weeks (with 76 percent citing this blend as effective as antibiotics). Herbal medicine can help as well. An individualized consultation is best, but I often find that a formula with skin depuratives, immune boosters, and lymphatic stimulants is very successful. I developed a version, called Fresh Faced Skin Tea, which targets all these areas. If you can’t get ahold of this, taking burdock tea three times a day along with an echinacea (thirty to forty drops of tincture) is a good alternative. Lastly, if your breakouts are hormone-related, add in the hormone-balancing herb Agnus castus in the morning (twenty drops of tincture). Stick with this regimen and your acne should clear up in two to three months.

A leader in herbal medicine, Daniela Turley is a board member of The American School of Natural Health, a member of The American Herbalists Guild, and The College of Practitioners of Phytotherapy. Born and raised in England, Turley received her bachelor of science in herbal medicine, and held an honorary position at the Hale Clinic, the renowned complementary health center in London. In 2011, Turley moved to the New York City where she joined the practice of Shellie Goldstein Acupuncture.

Photo: Sonny Vandevelde; Indigitalimages.com

Natural Solutions for Headaches That Won’t Go Away

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headache-modelThis column features weekly tips and advice from a revolving cast of industry leaders on hand to discuss your beauty dilemmas, from blemishes to Botox.

There’s not a week that goes by when I don’t have a killer headache. Can herbs help prevent and ease the symptoms?

There are many different types of headaches and each is treated in myriad ways. But I’ll focus on the most common:

TO ALLEVIATE STRESS: A stress or tension headache is marked by a dull, aching sensation across the forehead, the sides of the head, or the nape, which can go on for days. I recommend taking a nervine herb like American skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora), a relaxant herb that’s been shown in trials to be effective. Try thirty to forty drops in a tincture three times a day, or take two 425-milligram capsules three times a day. If you prefer tea, drink 2 grams as an infusion.

TO MITIGATE A MIGRAINE: A migraine is a neurovascular disorder, which leads to periodic headaches that often come with a range of symptoms, such as nausea or visual disturbances. Prevention is the best advice. Taking the anti-inflammatory herb feverfew leaf (Tanacetum parthenium) daily reduces the number of migraine attacks, possibly by preventing the cramping and subsequent dilation of blood vessels that cause these painful head-throbbers. I have used this herb successfully with many clients. The dose is the equivalent to two leaves a day, so even keeping a plant and nibbling on a leaf is a good bet! If taking a pill or tincture, go with a quality brand like MediHerb or Gaia. Lavender oil has been shown to be effective for reducing the severity of migraines. Use throughout the day on the pressure points and in the bath at night.

TO REIN IN HORMONES: Hormonal headaches are the type you get before your period. Taking magnesium and vitamin B6 every day can have a preventive effect. It also helps with PMS and period pains, which is an added bonus. The addition of the hormone-balancing herb Agnus castus can also be very helpful and has been shown in clinical trials to significantly reduce all PMS symptoms, including headaches. You take this herb daily in the morning, without skipping a dose, for a minimum of two months.

If you are also dizzy, pale, and tired, the headaches may be related to anemia rather than hormonal imbalances. With these, the pain tends to be on the top of the head. Taking a blood tonic, like Floradix tablets or liquid, throughout the month can help these go away. Of course, for more specific advice, I would recommend scheduling a visit with an herbalist so you can stay headache-free for the long term.

A leader in herbal medicine, Daniela Turley is a board member of The American School of Natural Health, a member of The American Herbalists Guild, and The College of Practitioners of Phytotherapy. Born and raised in England, Turley received her bachelor of science in herbal medicine, and held an honorary position at the Hale Clinic, the renowned complementary health center in London. In 2011, Turley moved to the New York City where she joined the practice of Shellie Goldstein Acupuncture.

Photo: Magnus Unnar

The Three Health-Boosting Herbs You Should Be Taking Now

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glass-of-nettle-teaThis column features weekly tips and advice from a revolving cast of industry leaders on hand to discuss your beauty dilemmas, from blemishes to Botox.

All my friends swear by herbs to stay healthy. What would you recommend everyone take to keep their body in peak condition?

While it’s hard to recommend specific herbs without evaluating someone first, I can run through my three favorites for general health. Siberian ginseng is an adaptogenic herb. This means it helps us adapt to stress. It can improve energy, memory and stamina. Next is nettle tea: this is a mineral-rich herb. The anti-inflammatory effects are great for calming joint pain and skin inflammation, and it contains silica, which is especially important in connective tissue formation, so it helps with the integrity of skin, bones, and blood vessels. Lastly, turmeric is a “wonder herb” with many potential benefits. It has been shown to increase mood and alleviate depression, and also has the capability to treat a wide variety of cancers. Keep in mind that certain aspects of turmeric are poorly absorbed but the good news is that you can combine it with plant chemicals to get around this issue. Piperine in black pepper, for example, increases the absorption by an impressive 2000 percent, and the quercetin found in nettle also helps. So make sure to take a turmeric extract with either of these herbs to reap the most benefits.

A leader in herbal medicine, Daniela Turley is a board member of The American School of Natural Health, a member of The American Herbalists Guild, and The College of Practitioners of Phytotherapy. Born and raised in England, Turley received her bachelor of science in herbal medicine, and held an honorary position at the Hale Clinic, the renowned complementary health center in London. In 2011, Turley moved to the New York City where she joined the practice of Shellie Goldstein Acupuncture.

Photo: Getty