Wellness Advice

If your diet always features plenty of fresh, organically grown fruits and vegetables; top quality protein sources, and heart-healthy fats (like those found in cold-water, wild fish and extra-virgin olive oil), you may not benefit from supplements. But a large body of research indicates that most people do derive valuable health support from supplementing their diet with vitamins, minerals, other nutrients and herbs.
Some reasons include:
  • THE IMPACT OF MODERN FARMING TECHNIQUES - The rise of industrial agriculture has lowered the nutritional value of many common foods. Replacing organic fertilizers with synthetics - often containing only nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium - yields large, fast-growing plants that may look beautiful in the produce aisle, but often lack key micronutrients.
  • AGING - As we grow older, many of us suffer from poor digestion due to insufficient stomach acid or low populations of beneficial microorganisms in our digestive tracts. Result: poor assimilation of nutrients.
  • FREQUENT DIETING - Restricting caloric intake to lose weight also means restricting nutrient intake.
  • MEDICATIONS - Many pharmaceuticals lower vitamin and/or mineral concentrations in the blood. Cholesterol-reducing drugs, for example, may lower blood levels of coenzyme Q10, a vital contributor to optimal heart and muscle function. Similarly, common drugs that treat gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) may drop levels of calcium, chromium, folic acid, iron, vitamin C and other nutrients.
  • BUSY LIFESTYLES - Even the most conscientious among us finds eating healthfully at every meal can be challenging. Vitamins, minerals and other supplements can help to fill the gaps caused by less-than-optimal meals.

"The benefit of careful supplementation for most people is very clear," said Tieraona Low Dog, M.D. "Taking daily vitamins, minerals and herbs in a strategic way, based on a person's unique profile, circumstances and lifestyle, is one of the best moves we can make toward optimal health."
Generally, Weil supplements can be taken at times and in ways that fit your unique schedule and lifestyle. However, here are a few guidelines that will help to ensure your optimal safety and comfort:
Timing
If you miss taking a packet on a given day or at a given time, don’t “double up” the next time - just start back up on the next day or at the next typical time.
Take supplements at least two hours before or after you take pharmaceutical medications.
Stop taking supplements seven to 10 days before a scheduled surgery. Once you are home and eating a normal diet, you may resume taking your supplements.
Safety
Weil Vitamin Advisor recommendations take into account potential interactions with pharmaceuticals. However, for safety, always discuss any change in our supplement regimen with your physician or pharmacist. To find a physician with training in integrative medicine, which includes comprehensive instruction in supplements and their optimal use, visit this physician finder.
Make sure that the supplements are taken only by the person for whom they were recommended.
Do not combine taking Weil Vitamin Advisor supplements with supplements your get from any other source without first consulting with a qualified healthcare practitioner.
If you have any questions or concerns about a recent study you read or heard about that might have an impact on your supplement program, please feel free to call and speak with our staff nutritionists at 800-585-5055. Otherwise, discuss your concerns with your health care provider. Additionally, if changes are made to our protocols due to a decision by the Weil team, we will notify all of our customers immediately and change their program automatically.
Maximizing Effectiveness
Most supplements are best taken with food, especially food containing fat unless stated otherwise in your recommendation.
Store your vitamins in a cool, dry, dark place such as a cupboard. Do not refrigerate them.There are some unique exceptions to this rule. Please contact us if you have any questions on this topic.
A good way to remember to take your supplements is to tear off your daily packets each day and place them on the kitchen counter. This way you will see them and be near something to drink. If you take a noon packet, keep the box at work with you. Our convenient custom-pack supplements easy to take with you when traveling - just snip off the amount corresponding to the number of days you’ll be gone.
Stomach discomfort is the most common side effect of taking supplements. To address this, be sure you are consuming a meal with each dose. Sometimes it is simply the amount of food consumed that makes the difference. You may also need to remove certain pills one at a time and see if your symptoms change. There are typically only one or two pills that contribute to reactions like this. If the above suggestions do not help, consult a physician or contact us to set up a nutritionist appointment. If you need to interrupt your regimen, call us at 800-585-5055 and we will suspend your program until you are ready to receive your next Weil supplement shipment.
Keep in mind that our supplements are meant to help enhance your nutritional status and well-being, but they can’t do the job alone. They are intended to be used in conjunction with a well-balanced diet and regular physical activity in order to obtain maximum benefits.
If you don’t see the answer to your question here, please call our knowledgeable customer support team at 800-585-5055 for immediate assistance.
Maybe – just maybe – you aren't experiencing enough dreams.
"There is a sacred, mythic dimension to our nighttime consciousness. It must be restored if we are to be healthy, mentally and physically," says Rubin Naiman, Ph.D., sleep specialist with the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine in Tucson.
"It goes far beyond the crude mechanics of sleep. Sleep and dreams can't be reduced to squiggly EEG tracings."
Why does dreaming matter? While mainstream science has relatively little to say about dreams, many traditional cultures held dream life to be vital. In some societies, such as the aboriginal people of Australia, it was seen as more important than waking life.
We fear dreams in modern America, says Naiman, because this culture has a deep fear of darkness. Nighttime, he says, naturally urges us to face our "personal darkness," or what some psychologists call the shadow self. In our superficial, "think positive" culture, acknowledging the despair, guilt, aggression or loneliness within ourselves does not come easily to most of us.
So we chase away the literal shadows with bright lights and glowing screens. We avoid the personal shadows revealed by dreams with alcohol and sleep-inducing drugs, most of which suppress dreams as a side effect.
By far the most common way we avoid dreams is simply by refusing to sleep long enough to nurture dreaming. Most dreams happen in the last two hours of sleep. Day after day of sleeping six hours rather than eight adds up to thousands of hours of stifled dreams.
But facing both the literal and figurative shadows, Naiman says, offers profound opportunities for physical, emotional and spiritual healing.
Dreams, he concedes, often are not pleasant, but they are not meant to be. They can be a way of working out - and through - the pain we carry in waking life.
On the other side of acknowledged, remembered, embraced dreams is "a sacred balance," says Naiman, and the potential for peace with our shadow selves. That means that falling and staying asleep is "an act of faith," that we must trust will take us to a better place.
How can you improve your dream life? Naiman says the first step is the simplest – go to bed early enough to get a full seven to eight hours.
Aside from that, try keeping a dream journal near your bed. Get into the habit of writing your dreams immediately upon waking. If that's too difficult, use a small recorder to verbally record your dreams for transcription later.
And just as some pharmaceuticals have been shown to suppress dreaming and impair sleep, there are herbal remedies that have a long, noble history of supporting sleep, as well as promoting vivid, evocative dreams.
Science supports both ideas! Many studies confirm that happy people (who, presumably, laugh more) enjoy better health. Good sleepers reap health benefits too, including one that may seem surprising: better weight control.
A large study of 87,000 U.S. adults, conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics, found the obesity rate was highest, at 33 percent, among those who slept less than six hours and lowest, 22 percent, among those who slept seven to eight hours a night. This was true for both men and women regardless of age.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in three Americans now sleeps less than seven hours a night. As we stay up later at night socializing, commuting, working or web surfing, this trend is likely to continue.
The "you snooze, you lose" mentality is ultimately not a healthy one. Many studies have linked chronic sleep deficiency to heart disease and diabetes, and now we know that it also increases our risk for obesity. Not getting enough sleep alters the appetite-regulating hormones: leptin, which tells us we are full, is reduced; while ghrelin, the hormone that regulates hunger, is elevated. And studies show that sleep deprivation boosts cravings for calorie-laden high-glycemic-load carbs, which further contributes to weight gain, insulin resistance, diabetes and heart disease.
And it's not only those carbs! Not surprisingly, those who sleep less than six hours a night are more likely to be physically inactive than those who sleep seven to eight. Makes perfect sense – sleepy people aren't first in line for a long jog or a hardcore weightlifting workout.
If a good night's sleep is eluding you, one of the best remedies is the simplest: just skip both caffeine and alcohol, especially in the last four hours of the day.
It's vital to manage your light-life. Dim the household lights. Don't look at bright screens – including the ever-alluring smartphone – in the final hours before hitting the sack. Reading on a computer screen or tablet two hours before bedtime can delay your sleep by about an hour! If you just can't turn off the technology, install free software, such as f.lux on your devices. This dims your screen in sync with the setting sun, making it easier to fall asleep.
Make your bedroom a sleep-centric sanctuary. If your mattress is too soft or too firm, your pillow too large or small, or your blankets too heavy or light, remove or rearrange immediately! Small adjustments in your sleeping environment can make a huge difference.
Avoid prescription sleep aids if at all possible. They can leave you groggy in the morning, and some are habit-forming. Better choices: natural, gentle supplements such as valerian, passionflower, hops or chamomile. These herbs have been prized by healers for centuries for their calming and sleep-inducing effects.
Bottom line: there are many reasons to get a good night's sleep - you can now add weight management to the list! To learn more about your specific sleep needs and ways to fulfill them, take a few moments to experience the Weil Vitamin Advisor's Sleep Evaluation. It can help you discover the supplements and lifestyle changes you – and you alone – need to get deep, restful and restorative sleep.
These sky-high numbers – based on figures released in June of 2013 by Mayo Clinic researchers – should give us pause. No society on Earth has ever gobbled as many pharmaceuticals as does this one.
The main problem: it may not be helping to the degree people believe.
"As the pace of taking drugs has gone up, American health in many categories has gotten worse," said Andrew Weil, M.D.
In addition, "Many people – including some physicians – don't realize that some of the most widely taken pharmaceuticals deplete the body of vital nutrients," said Tieraona Low Dog, M.D. "It's hard to care for our bodies if the drugs we take rob us of the nutrients we need for overall health."
Here are two common drugs, the nutrients they deplete, and Dr. Low Dog's advice:
  • Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs): Known by trade names including Nexium and Prilosec, these popular meds tame heartburn and serious reflux by reducing stomach acid production. Unfortunately, they also deplete magnesium levels in the blood and impair absorption of calcium and vitamin D. This boosts the risk of bone fracture, irregular heartbeat and high blood pressure.
  • Metformin: Sold as Glucophage, this diabetes drug depletes vitamin B12, a nutrient that's vital for brain and nervous system health. "This depletion is especially risky for people over 50 and for vegetarians and vegans, who may already have low B12 levels," said Dr. Low Dog. "I recommend 500 micrograms [mcg] of B12 to anyone who takes this drug."

This list is actually much longer. The point, Dr. Low Dog said, is that no one should take a prescription medication without talking with a physician or pharmacist about possible nutrient depletions.
"It's all about balance – about respecting that intricate internal 'dance' of inner and outer healing forces," she said. "I'm not saying these drugs are bad or wrong – although I do believe Americans are overprescribed. But it's vital to consider the impact of each pharmaceutical on each individual person."
Another resource to consider is the Weil Vitamin Advisor. Created by Andrew Weil, MD and a team of integrative medicine experts, it can help you work with your physician to create the best balance of medications and supplements - one that's just right for you.
Before you start wishing for winter's return, take heart. "The good news is that there are a number of natural remedies you can use to relieve your symptoms that are safe, effective, and free of many of the side effects associated with conventional medicines," said Tieraona Low Dog, M.D., Fellowship Director of the University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine and nationally recognized expert in herbal medicine.

Many of these natural remedies act upon specific cells called mast cells. When activated by an allergen, the mast cells release histamine, which causes your nose to swell, mucus to thicken and eyes to itch. If you are looking for a more natural way to handle those discomforts, consider some of the following.

  • Guduchi, the common name for Tinospora cordifolia, is a climbing vine native to the tropical areas of India, Myanmar and Sri Lanka. In Ayurveda, the traditional medical system of India, guduchi root and stem have long been used to tame coughs and minor respiratory problems. Scientific studies show that it inhibits the histamine release of mast cells. A randomized double-blind study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology found that guduchi was significantly superior to placebo for relieving allergy symptoms. Look for extracts that provide 300 to 400 mg per day.
  • "Stinging" nettle is a common name for Urtica dioica. While the wild plant can irritate skin, cooking, drying or making an extract from nettles will take away the sting. Researchers have found that compounds within nettle leaves inhibit histamine release. A randomized double-blinded study of 90 people found that 600 mg a day of freeze-dried nettle was more effective than placebo for relieving the majority of allergy symptoms. Forty-eight percent of the participants stated that nettles' effectiveness equaled or surpassed previous medications that they had taken for seasonal allergies. There are no known safety issues.
  • Butterbur, the common name for Petasites hybridus, is a large-leaved plant that has been used in many parts of the world to relieve coughs and congestion. Clinical trials conducted in Europe have shown that butterbur is as effective as a leading prescription allergy medication and is well tolerated by both adults and children. Look for a product standardized to provide 7.5 mg of petasin per 50 mg of extract, and one that is free of the harmful pyrrolizidine alkaloids. Take 50 mg, two times per day. Safety during pregnancy is not known.
  • Quercetin, a natural compound found in citrus fruits, dark berries, onions, red wine and green tea, also slows the histamine release of mast cells. It is widely recommended by practitioners of natural medicine during allergy season at a dose of 500 mg one to two times per day, however, there are no clinical trials that prove its effectiveness. It is considered quite safe but is not recommended during pregnancy.
  • Saline solution used daily to wash nasal passages of pollen and dust can be a very effective home remedy. A review of clinical studies found that on average, people who used this simple technique experienced an impressive 27 percent improvement in nasal symptoms and a 62 percent reduction in medicine consumption. Invest in a neti-pot, a container that looks a little like Aladdin's magic lamp. Use prepared saline wash or make your own by pouring eight ounces of distilled/bottled water, or water that has been boiled for 10 minutes, over 1/4 teaspoon of non-iodized kosher salt and 1/8 teaspoon of baking soda. Stir well until salt and soda have dissolved. Make fresh daily.


References

Badar VA, et al. Efficacy of Tinospora cordifolia in allergic rhinitis. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 2005; 96(3): 445-9 Hermelingmeier KE, Weber RK, Hellmich M, et al. Nasal irrigation as an adjunctive treatment in allergic rhinitis: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Rhinol Allergy. 2012 Sep-Oct;26(5):e119-25. Käufeler R, Polasek W, Brattström A, Koetter U. Efficacy and safety of butterbur herbal extract Ze 339 in seasona Kelly GS. Quercetin: Monograph Alternative Medicine Review 2011; 16(2):172-94 Mittman P. Randomized, double-blind study of freeze-dried Urtica dioica in the treatment of allergic rhinitis Planta Medica 1990; 56(1): 44-7 Roschek B, et al. Nettle extract (Urtica dioica) affects key receptors and enzymes associated with allergic rhinitis. Phytotherapy Research 2009; 23(7): 920-6 Schapowal A: Petasites Study Group Treating intermittent allergic rhinitis: a prospective, randomized, placebo and antihistamine-controlled study of Butterbur extract Ze 339. Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2004 Dec;130(12):1381-6. Weng Z, et al. Quercetin is more effective than cromolyn in blocking human mast cell cytokine release and inhibits contact dermatitis and photosensitivity in humans. PLoS One 2012; 7(3): e33805