dr. orna recommends: spice apothecary by bevin clare

Food is medicine. You’ve heard me say that a lot.

This week I got a new book that takes the concept to the next level: Spice Apothecary by Bevin Clare.

Bevin is an herbalist, herbal educator and president of the American Herbalists Guild. She’s deeply committed to broadening the reach of herbal medicine and keeping it accessible to everyone.

What better way to do that than by leveraging what many folks already have in their kitchens? Better still, this helps people access medicine that makes food more delicious!

Spice Apothecary covers 19 commonly available kitchen medicines, including black pepper, cinnamon, lavender, mustard seed, thyme and turmeric. She includes health benefits, daily dosages and many recipes. (Parsley pistachio pesto!)

The book itself is physically beautiful, filled with gorgeous photographs and clear charts that simplify spicing up your life.

I’m calling this an inspiring addition to any herbalist or foodie’s bookcase. But keep it in or near the kitchen — you’ll want to use it.

Buy the book from the author here.
Buy the book online from Bookshop here.

—Dr. Orna 

Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash

friends don’t let friends buy supplements from A***.com

Here’s what I recommend instead

We’re all looking for deals, and certain online retailers (name redacted to avoid lawsuits) offer the best.

So why do I get so upset when I hear about folks doing this? When you order online you have zero assurance that what you get is what you thought you were — and this can hurt you!

I’ve been polling my colleagues around the country, and they have literal horror stories about patients coming in with bottles they bought online that are fraudulently labeled, don’t work or make them actively sick.

Here’s what we’ve been seeing — and what I recommend to protect yourself and your health. All quotations come from my ND colleagues and are used with permission.

Fraudulent labeling

Sometimes you can tell a supplement is fake by looking at the labels. Counterfeit supplements may come in different forms than the real ones (tablet vs. capsule), in different quantities, different colors, with slightly different labels, expiration dates cut off and more.

“I have 5 bottles of “counterfeit” products sitting in my office. High end products that are packaged in a bottle that looks VERY much like the real thing……the difference is the font is slightly different. The capsules were NOTHING like the “real deal” capsules, which is what alerted my clients to there being a problem. Of course, they had tried to save a little money by buying on A*****, only to receive counterfeit products.”

Ineffective counterfeits

One of my colleagues had a patient whose blood-pressure herbs stopped working after ordering through A*.com. When the patient used samples from my colleague’s office, it worked again.

Here’s how the company responded:

“Our rep said they have been paying people for the product and paying to ship the product to them for assay. It is switched ingredients, dose cut with other materials or just completely different.”

Potentially serious health consequences

Sometimes the fake supplements make people ill.

“I know someone who ordered [supplement] on A*****. She had never taken it before and she is extremely sensitive to gluten. She said the [supplement] made her very ill. She brought the one she got on A***** to give to her friend because she couldn’t take it. Her friend opened it and compared it to her [same supplement] and the one purchased on A***** was white! (It is supposed to be yellowish.)”

Sometimes, the effects are life threatening.

“One client ended up in the emergency room with an anaphylactic reaction caused by taking the counterfeit supplements. I have heard similar stories from at least 6 other doctors.”

What to do instead

Supplement companies have been fighting this for years, sometimes spending millions of dollars to shut down unscrupulous or fraudulent resellers. Some companies are now selling directly through A*****.com — the only way they can pressure the company to protect their interest and the patients who rely on them.

I’m happy that my patients haven’t experienced these horror stories. They know they get the best quality (and in many cases, the best deal) by purchasing their supplements through me.

Porch pickups are still available for my Portland patients. But for those who aren’t nearby — or understandably don’t want to venture out unnecessarily — I can offer almost everything my clinic stocks online.

Supplements you purchase through this portal come from the same warehouse as those I carry in my office, so you know you’re getting the real thing. I even offer an automatic discount on all orders to help defray shipping costs.

Click here or on the Fullscript image below to go directly to the site. Once you’ve registered, you’ll see my favorite supplements listed by category, and have access to everything that’s offered there. Note that most of these are brands available only through physicians.

As always, please check with your doctor before changing your health regimen.


—Dr. Orna

Purchase products through our Fullscript virtual dispensary.

P.S. Want help selecting supplements? I offer secure virtual office visits to all Oregonians! Make your appointment here. I’m able to offer similar one-on-one meetings to people in some other states; if you’re interested, send me an email and we’ll figure out what works best for you.

Photo by Matt Briney on Unsplash.

5 ways nature heals — and how to dose up during lockdown

The big epiphany that led me into herbalism and naturopathic medicine was that medicine is all around us, not just in the doctor’s office. Medicine is in our kitchens, our gardens, our grocery stores and our natural surroundings. These are some key concepts I share with patients about Vitamin N (for Nature) and how it supports resilient health.

1. Nature lowers stress.
Many of us are familiar with this experience: Nature lets us relax, shifting our attention outward. This effect alone may be responsible for many of Nature’s other well-documented health benefits. [PMID: 27110803]

2. Nature boosts mood.
Getting out in the green reduces risk of depression and experience of anxiety. And sunshine alone improves mood, boosting our bodies’ natural serotonin and endorphins. [PMID: 25631858; PMID:26569271; PMID: 27942349]

3. Nature speeds healing.
Hospital studies show that folks recovering in a room with flowers or a view of trees get better faster. Bonus: Nature sights and sound help reduce acute and chronic pain. [PMID: 19715461; PMID:12628899; PMID:20799901]

4. Nature balances your immune system.
Stress compromises your immunity, so anything that calms you down can help. But Nature has been shown to have direct impacts on immunity and immune resilience — getting your body to respond robustly in a crisis and calm down when the crisis is over. [PMID:21329564; PMID:18394317; PMID:20487629]

5. Nature reduces many health risks.
Nature clears your mind, improves your attention and reduces overall mortality, diabetes, visual impairment, hypertension, obesity, congestive heart failure  — and even sugar cravings. (Is it cheating to put all of those into one point? Here’s a great review article.)

How to dose up during lockdown:

If you can see it, you can feel it. While getting out into nature is always awesome, research shows that just looking at images or watching videos of nature can have significant health effects. Closing your eyes while listening to nature sounds can do this, as well. [PMID:26694426; PMID: 28763021]

Gaze out a window. If you can see the sky at all, you can give yourself a Nature experience.

If you can’t look wide, look deep. No view? No worries. Pick any natural thing you have around and lose yourself in the details. This can be a flower, a pine cone, a pretty rock, a feather, etc.

Hug a tree. Even in the city. Oxytocin, our hormone of connection and safety and love, rises when we hug a person or pet our pets. I haven’t found research showing that hugging trees does the same thing, but my clinical experience suggests that it’s a pretty good option.

Play with plants. Whether it’s sprouting beans on your kitchen counter, growing herbs in a sunny window, tending an indestructible shade-tolerant house plant, or getting out into a garden, playing with plants gives us analog experience, and offers connection in ways that zoom calls can’t.


— Dr. Orna

P.S. Here’s one more for you: If you need support, get support. My practice is now 100-percent telemedicine for the duration. Visit my clinic website or call 503-335-9479 for details.