Friday, August 31, 2012

Anti-Aging Creams: A Hormone Story

Today's blog topic was sidetracked (Come to find out, disappointingly, The Green Boheme is closed on Wednesdays!) so we'll try that post next week.

This week we’d like to focus on women.  Specifically, women, hormones, and the skincare products we use. 

I think society has instilled this great fear in us as women; this fear of aging, fear of not being as beautiful as we once were.  Most of us have fallen for it in some way or another; the creams, lotions, and products that promise we stay young, beautiful, firm, and smooth.

Many of us have bought into, in some way, the idea that we are what we look like.  We are the outward appearance of ourselves, our bodies, and our skin.
My husband calls them laugh lines, which I prefer, and didn’t realize I had until he pointed them out to me some five years ago.  I have since had a love-hate relationship with these ever-present wrinkles, but since hearing my mother’s story and knowing cancer runs in our family, have reconsidered the use of anti-aging creams for the time being.  I often put extra virgin coconut oil on my face or aloe vera.  TropicalTraditions makes safe face and body lotions with no parabens or hormones in them. 

“The anti-aging industry is expected to gross more than $291 billion worldwide by 2015” (Voss, 2012).

In using these products with good intentions, we have unknowingly subjected our bodies to huge increases in hormones that needn’t be labeled on packages, though they can have huge impacts on our own health.  Dr. Monroe has a personal story to share to this effect, with the hopes that it helps more women realize the hormonal changes that can be caused by these products and help women use this knowledge to empower other women.   

Dr. Monroe: “I’d like to share my story of hormone overdose and why it has become a commitment to my patients to prevent this from happening to other women.

About a year ago I was having a great deal of trouble sleeping.  I could fall asleep, but woke up within a few hours and couldn’t get back to sleep again.  Also, I was experiencing anxiety and trouble keeping weight off, as well as mood swings. I decided to have my hormone levels assessed by a lab, one of few labs who do hormone panels well. It came back with my E2 levels (which should have been between 2 and 10) at greater than 99.  My progesterone was also elevated at a level of 481.  This level should have been around 95.
In a state of stress and increasing anxiety I called the lab to see what was going on. The response was that these results were normal for someone on Hormone Replacement Therapy.  I replied, “I’m not on HRT,” and their response was, “Yes, you are!” Since I was only using one product on my skin (an anti-aging cream purchased at Costco), I decided to call their company and see if they had hormones in the product. I was placed on hold for several minutes while the pleasant receptionist did some checking. She came back on the line and responded “No.”  I wondered if she was not telling the truth or if she didn’t know the truth.  (From the lab I learned that the FDA allows companies to put hormones in their products without ever putting it on the label.)

I stopped using the product and repeated the lab test a few months later. By this time I was sleeping wonderfully again.  The results on my new lab work came back with my E2 at 6 and my progesterone at 200. This is a very good ratio, and I was pleased with these new results since I stopped using the cream. 
The difficulty I experienced as my body adjusted to the decrease in estrogen from greater than 99 down to 6 was like going through menopause all over again on my brain.  I experienced poor memory for several months as this shift was occurring.  At about this same time I had a dear friend diagnosed with breast cancer. Now many of us know loved ones with this diagnosis, but to me it took on a new meaning. The traditional medical world puts women on Tamoxifin to block the estrogen effect on women who have estrogen positive breast cancer. The problem to me is that their estrogen levels aren’t monitored. Since many skincare products have hormones in them, it has become a challenge to me to get women monitored. Thus protecting them from exogenous hormones and helping the women who are naturally estrogen dominant to become balanced.” 

I’d love to work with women who are questioning if this could be a problem for them. I can be reached at my office number, 916-448-9927 or at drpjmonroe(at)
--Dr. Priscilla Monroe RN, ND

The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act enacted in 1938 governs skin creams, including anti-aging creams.  “Currently, even if a skin cream behaves like a drug by affecting the structure or any function of the body, it will generally be considered a cosmetic under the Act if the manufacturer refrains claiming that the AHA product works like a drug. Products classified as cosmetics under the Act are relatively unregulated; the Act does not subject them to most of the restrictions imposed upon drugs- including mandatory registration, premarket safety and effectiveness testing, premarket FDA approval, and postmarket surveillance to monitor safety” (Hensel, 1995).

So, next time you’re considering that eye cream or anti-aging night cream at the drugstore or beauty counter, consider the price you may be paying for it in the long run, and decide for yourself if it’s really worth it. 

Have a safe and healthy weekend… (wrinkles and all)!

Additional resources: 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Which organic foods should we be concerned about?

We’ve all heard that organic is better for our health, better for our food systems, and better for the environment.  Many of us have even heard about the so-called “dirty dozen” of foods that are most harmed by pesticide and other chemical interactions, but there are also a “clean 15.”  These are produce items that we can save a little money on and not always go organic, and are still ok for our health.

What does organic really mean?

According to the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) defines organic as follows:

“Organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation. Before a product can be labeled "organic," a Government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards. Companies that handle or process organic food before it gets to your local supermarket or restaurant must be certified, too.”

But where can we save money and which foods are best to buy organic?  I just moved back to Sacramento, CA from Honolulu, HI, and the food freshness, availability, and cost is dramatically different in California. I’m starting a healthier, safer path for my diet and product use since I’ve moved back.  Now that I can afford to buy some fresh, organic produce, I’ll share with you which fruits and veggies are better organic. 

Buy organic (when available):                            
  • ·      Apples
  • ·      Blueberries (Domestic)
  • ·      Celery
  • ·      Sweet Bell Peppers
  • ·      Cherries
  • ·      Cranberries
  • ·      Cucumbers
  • ·      Grapes
  • ·      Green beans
  • ·      Kale/Greens
  • ·      Lettuce
  • ·      Nectarines (imported)
  • ·      Peaches
  • ·      Peas
  • ·      Potatoes
  • ·      Spinach
  • ·      Strawberries
  • ·      Tomatoes

The reason for this is both the kinds of pesticides and harmful residues that are left on these produce, and the vulnerability of the skin to absorb harmful chemicals. 

Save your money: (the clean ones)
Foods with thicker skins, like bananas, need not be bought organic if you’re trying to save a few bucks.  Here are the “clean 15” based on Environmental Working Group’s study published in 2012:
  • ·      Asparagus
  • ·      Avocado
  • ·      Cabbage
  • ·      Cantaloupe (Domestic)
  • ·      Eggplant
  • ·      Grapefruit
  • ·      Kiwi
  • ·      Mango
  • ·      Mushrooms
  • ·      Onions
  • ·      Pineapple
  • ·      Sweet Corn (but may contain GMO’s)
  • ·      Sweet Peas
  • ·      Sweet Potatoes
  • ·      Watermelon

There’s an app for that!
Check out Environmental Working Group’s website to download a free app for Android, iPhone,or a Windows phone to help you shop for the clean 15 and dirty dozen!  

More resources:

That’s it for this week!  Thanks for reading and feel free to post comments or questions.  
Stay tuned next week as we give a little glimpse into a new restaurant called ‘The Green Boheme’ in Sacramento and Dr. Priscilla Monroe. RN, ND’s tasty meal there!  

Have a healthy week!  Send us any questions to drmomnaturopath(at)!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

What Does 'Good For Me' Mean?

What Does ‘Good For Me’ Mean?

What does ‘healthy’mean?  What does ‘good for me’mean?

We’ve all heard it:Fish oil is good for us, antioxidants are good for us, coconut oil, red wine,coffee, coconut water, raw foods, juicing, acai…the list goes on. 

How do we know whatthis ‘good for us’ message means?

Dr. Priscilla Monroe, NaturopathicDoctor, agrees:

Frequently patients come in to me with bags full ofsupplements and I will ask them what they’re taking and why.  They tell me that they’re taking itbecause they heard on the news it was good for them.  When I ask them how much they’re taking, they say“one.”   I look at the bottleand it says that 3 a day is the dose. So they’re not even taking therapeutic doses of these ‘good for you’supplements, and is this supplement even really good for them? 

This is not ‘One Size Fits All!’
What I want to get into is a conversation of what’sjournalistic exploitation and how they’re always saying that something is goodfor everybody or something is bad for everybody.  That isn’t the truth. 

“The truth isthat there is nothing that is all good or all bad.  There are things that are good for some people, and not goodfor some people, and vice versa.  We need to get away from thismisconception about things being ‘all good’ or ‘all bad.’”

I am a strong proponent for D’Adamo’s work, the Eat Rightfor Your Type blood diet.  ( When you hear peoplesaying “Meat is bad for us,” there’s several ways to look at it.  The more we go for organic meatproducts, the healthier it is. There are some of us that meat is actually our medicine.  And yes, there are people that don’t dowell with meat.  There are bloodtypes that weren’t designed to eat a lot of meat.  So to me, if we can get into a moderate perspective and findwhat’s good for us on an individual basis rather than what the journalisticpropaganda says, that’s where I would like to seek a balance and see us movetowards.  We’ll talk more aboutD’Adamo and his work on blood types in a later blog. 

For example, let’s look at potatoes.  Are potatoes bad for us?  That’s only part of the question.  If you weren’t eating the potato, whatelse would you be eating?  Potatoeshave their pros and cons, but if instead of eating potatoes, you were eatingcandy bars, then a potato is better even though it might not be the best.  It’s not all good or all bad, there’sthis continuum of healthy or unhealthy, good for us and not good. 

I’m not going to tell you what’s good for you.  I can’t.  It’s an individualized thing.    
That’s what is wrong with journalism and shows like Dr. Ozwith all-encompassing health advice. It’s not a one-size-fits all.   

This age of technologyis great, but it isn’t without its problems.  When you go online and you find symptoms that match a condition,many symptoms fit many conditions. You’re an individual.  It's really best to consult a medical professional whose philosophy aligns with yours.  How is this condition, this vitamin, this food going to affect youpersonally? 

I just found this great video that talks about Peter D'Adamo's work and a study done that correlates blood type with heart disease.  It raises the same types of questions we are raising here: How can one size fit all?  Click here to check out the short 3.5 minute video.

I also found several books online while doing research.  While I haven’t read any of them anddon’t recommend things I haven’t read, I would be interested to hear from thosewho have, drop me a line: drmomnaturopath(at) Most books appear to be a reminder on being skeptical about the latest hypeon health because it is often just that--hype.  Amazon says of one such book, “It happens every day: we pick up anewspaper or magazine or turn on the television and are bombarded with urgentadvice about how to stay healthy. Lose weight! Lower your cholesterol! Earlydetection saves lives! Sunscreen prevents cancer! But in many cases,pronouncements we rarely think to question turn out to be half-truths that arebeing pushed by various individuals or groups to advance their own agendas. The Healthy Skeptic explores who these health promoters are--fromjournalists and celebrities to industry-funded groups and consumeractivists--what their motives are, and how they are spinning us in ways weoften don't realize.”  Something to consider.

If you live in Sacramento and are interested in a customizedhealth plan that’s right for you, including the ‘what’s good for you’specifically, please call or e-mail Dr. Mom!

I’m happy to answer any questions and am scheduling newpatients.  Please contact me formore information or go to my website: www.drpriscillamonroe.comto see if a Naturopathic Doctor is right for you.

Dr. Priscilla Monroe,RN, ND.
Sacramento, CA

Next week we’ll betalking about the ever-popular organic “dirty” and “clean” foods list, and whyyou might want to reconsider your grocery list.  Stay tuned and thanks for reading!

Be healthy,

Friday, August 10, 2012

VITAMIN TALK from a Naturopath’s Perspective:

According to a study done in 2011 by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, more than 50% of adults take one or more dietary supplement.  Americans spend billions of dollars a year on dietary supplements, some of which is harmful, unnecessary, or taken incorrectly.  This week we explore vitamins and why we need to take them.  

Dr. Priscilla Monroe, Naturopathic Doctor, explains:

Why do we take vitamins?
I believe we take vitamins because we need extra nutrients that we’re not getting in our food either because we’re not eating healthy or because the food we eat now doesn’t have the same nutrients it used to.  In the older days, we let our fields flood so that the silt would come in and re-nourish the soil.  Now what we have is levees that prevent fields from flooding so our soil becomes depleted.  Farmers do not get paid on the nutrient value of their crop, they get paid by how much it weighs.  They add Nitrogen to their soil, which doesn’t contribute to nutrients just helps increase its volume.  We ship our food in from all over the world.  It’s not picked at its peak so that it can travel thousands of miles.  That’s why it’s important to support our local farmers at farmers markets that sell in season, fresh foods picked in the peak of their ripeness.  Another factor is that we live in such a polluted world and we are under a lot of stress, which demands more than we are able to get in our daily intake of food.  A lot of people have trouble absorbing nutrients, so even if we eat enough, we still may not be absorbing enough of it.  Stress suppresses our digestion and how many of us don’t function under stress much of the time?      

More on Vitamins
Many people bring in a one-a-day vitamin and the thing that I try to educate them on is that a one-a-day is like eating all of your food at one time.   You eat throughout the day because your body can’t eat once and then use that food throughout the day to nourish your body.   A multiple vitamin is mixed; it has fat-soluble vitamins: A, D, E, & K and water-soluble vitamins; the Vitamin B and Vitamin C.  Vitamins A, D, E, & K can be taken at one time because the body utilizes what it needs at that time and puts in storage what it doesn’t need.  Later in the day as the body needs those vitamins, it will pull it out of storage.  But a water-soluble vitamin like Vitamin B and C, which are stress vitamins, the body utilizes what it needs at that moment and then it pees out the excess.  So now later in the day as you’re more stressed, you don’t have the reserves stored in your body to handle that.

Think about taking a pain medicine:  Do you normally take the recommended dose of pain medicine?  People taking a one-a-day vitamin is equivalent to taking a suboptimal therapeutic dose of pain medicine.  For example, if you were taking Ibuprofen for a headache, the recommended dose is 200 mg every 4-6 hours.  Would you be inclined to take half that dose once a day in order to relieve your headache?  Most people wouldn’t.  The pain doesn’t go away.  The same goes for vitamins and their doses.  

Does a typical multivitamin have a balanced ratio of water-soluble and fat-soluble?
No, most one-a-days are very low potency, they’re really not so good.  The professional line that I carry is very high potency. I don’t worry about any of them being too much.  Some of them are 1,000 times the RDA. But, since they are capsules, doses can be modified by how many you take.

What’s RDA?  Is 1,000 times the RDA good or bad?  
When people worry about a vitamin exceeding RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance), the RDA is the minimum required to prevent a disease.  For instance, Vitamin C RDA is 60 mg.  That’s the minimum that’s required to prevent scurvy.  Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t just want to prevent scurvy, I want to optimize my health.  So when vitamins have a couple hundred times more than what the RDA is and it’s a water-soluble, often times you don’t have to be worried about it.  Fat soluble vitamins you want to watch much more than the water-soluble ones.  When I get people with over the counter one-a-days, many of them have talc in it.  Almost all of the ingredients are synthetic. DL Alpha (or the alpha symbol) on the label let’s you know that it’s synthetic.      
Give me an example of other additives or things to look for?
Well most of them have Calcium Carbonate as opposed to a Calcium Citrate or Calcium Citrate Malate.  Calcium Carbonate is hard on the gut, you have to take it with meals or you increase your risks of kidney stones, and it’s not well absorbed.  It has a solubility of .14 as opposed to Calcium Citrate that is 7 or 8 and Calcium Citrate Malate, which is 80.  So, it is poorly absorbed, low quality Calcium.

So many vitamins have Iron in them as well.  Often times we need to be cautious about that.  When we impose Iron on a body that is not anemic, we increase the risks of free-radical damage, which is a precursor to cancer.  Young menstruating women might be able to get by with it, but menopausal women (because they don’t lose blood monthly) it’s even more dangerous for.  It can be potentially problematic even in young women who eat red meat, spinach, and other foods high in Iron.    

Philosophically, I like a capsule better than a tablet.  In a tablet, producers of vitamins must add agents to make it stay together.  Often the tablet is so hard the body cannot absorb the vitamins and it never dissolves, exiting the body as it came in.

If you live in Sacramento or elsewhere and are interested in ordering high quality supplements, please contact me.  I ship nationwide and can help you find a dosage that’s right for you. 

I’m happy to answer any questions and am scheduling new patients.  Please contact me for more information or go to my website: to see if a Naturopathic Doctor is right for you.

Dr. Priscilla Monroe, RN, ND.
Sacramento, CA

Thanks for reading this week!  Send your questions to drmomnaturopath(at) for the blog or directly to Dr. Monroe at drpjmonroe(at)  We look forward to sharing another topic with you next week!

Have a wonderful weekend, visit a local farmer’s market & stay healthy!    


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Intro to Dr. Mom Naturopathic Doctor- The Blog!

Welcome friends and health seekers!

I'd like to introduce myself and this brand spankin’ new blog...
My name is Briana Monroe and I am a 30-year old female who just received her Masters in Social Work with a concentration in Health from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.  I also just moved back to where I’m from, Sacramento, CA.   

My mother’s name is Priscilla Monroe.  She is a Naturopathic Doctor with 20 years experience, and has been in practice in the Sacramento region since 1993.

Over the years, my mother and I have discovered so much conflicting health information, whether it was from magazines, Dr. Oz, online, or from friends and family.  Through research, trial and error, and the teachings of Naturopathic medicine, we would like to use current research and popular education to provide information to you.
This blog is a mother-daughter health conversation duo, hence the “Dr. Mom” bit.  This blog is designed as somewhat of a conversation between a consumer/citizen (myself) and a licensed Naturopathic Doctor (my mother) in order to provide as accurate of information as possible, and to dispel some health myths that are in circulation today. 

In the future, Dr. Monroe may be offering webinars around specific issues, and other interactive discussion and teaching options.  For now, we pick the topics, answer questions, and provide the conversation to help you, your friends and family gain control over your own health by empowering you with information.   

 About “Dr. Mom, Naturopath”:
A little about my mother and her journey as a Naturopathic Doctor seeking solutions to her own health problems: 

“I am a Naturopathic Doctor of 20 years and have a baccalaureate degree in Nursing that gave me experience in pediatric intensive care, orthopedic surgery, and working a general medical-surgical ward in an Army hospital in Germany.  I got married a little late in life, had three kids in two years; the second birth being twins.  Shortly after my children were born my mother was diagnosed with cancer and I took care of her at home until she passed.  By that time, I was in severe adrenal fatigue, experiencing asthma, chronic sinusitis, allergies, irritable bowel, irregular menstruation, and insomnia.  After being treated by traditional medicine with no relief, I discovered Naturopathic Medical School. 

The first thing I discovered was that I had lifelong food allergies.  Now don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t able to be perfect on the diet.  I felt I had to be a good mother, a good wife, and a good student.  The only place I knew how to screw up was with my diet periodically!  When I was able to be “good” I saw such a dramatic improvement in my health that it was increasingly easier to avoid the foods that caused me symptoms.  It is a hard transition to make, considering where we live, how our food is made, what we have access to, and how much of our socialization revolves around food. 

As I learned about adrenal fatigue and its role in my health problems including hormone production, allergies, sinus problems, and irritable bowel, I began to see big improvements as I was able to adhere to my diet.  With these lifestyle changes, diet changes, and herbs, I came back to my full health and energy.  
I realized that the migraines and long-term constipation that I suffered from as a child were due to food allergies as well.   

Luckily, (or unluckily, as the case may be) my three children and husband all had the same familial propensity for asthma and food intolerances/allergies.  My children have never had to be on any drugs for their asthma and have learned from their own experiences how to respect their diet (most of the time)!”

Being human, we all take exceptions to our diet.  The difference now is as we get symptoms, we don’t have to be victims to our health any longer, which to me is a huge step in empowerment.  We don’t always want to follow our diets but when we choose to feel good, we know how to get there.” 

My philosophy: “The gift I want to give my patients is empowerment.   By that, I mean with my knowledge and experience, I make recommendations.  If you give them a chance, your body will be your guide and nobody will have to be an authoritarian figure with power over your health. 

When I was first in practice, I had patients who brought their babies to me, and then I didn’t see them for years at a time.  I doubted my abilities as a new Naturopath.  After about five years of practice, I ran into some of them occasionally around town or at the supermarket.  I’d ask them how they were and if my services were not what they expected.  The former patients all said the same thing: “My child isn’t sick!  I have no reason to bring them in!”  I was filled with relief knowing that I was where I was supposed to be, and patients were gaining something from me as a Naturopathic Doctor.

As it is called the ‘practice of medicine’ I get to learn as much from my patients as they do from me.  I hope to continue to share some successes and failures as I encounter them.”

Some of you may not know about Naturopathic Medicine.  What is it?  What can it do for me?

“As a naturopath, I am trained in herbs, homeopathy, and nutrition.  I believe nutrition is the foundation of good health.  I do very little homeopathy.  I believe in supporting the bodies’ natural healing processes using the premise of “First, do no harm.”  I believe that we are mental, emotional, and physical beings and we manifest physically that which is mental-emotional.  For instance, a person who is high stress and maybe obsessive-compulsive will always manifest with weak adrenals until they can learn to heal themselves.  That could have been a person who never felt loved or felt they had to be perfect in order to be loved.  Throughout the healing process, they can learn that they are lovable so that they can let go of their compulsiveness and stress on the adrenal gland and can heal fully.  The gut and the brain are highly interconnected.  The health of the gut (gastrointestinal tract, stomach, and intestines) play a major role in our immune system.  When I eat foods I am allergic to, I am unable to get into a deep sleep due to the receptors speaking to each other from the brain to the gut.  A lot of people just look at the fact that I can’t sleep, not the interconnectedness.” 

What is the difference in Naturopathic Medicine and traditional medicine?

“The first two years in medical school are almost identical to traditional medical school (Anatomy, Physiology, Microbiology, Biochemistry, Pathophysiology) but then we as Naturopaths go on to be trained in how to support the bodies natural healing processes instead of introducing drugs and surgery.  For instance, I don’t know of anyone who is actually deficient in the little purple pill (for heartburn), but many people have gut problems due to food allergies and/or intolerances that lead to the symptoms that cause the heartburn.  By learning about and removing the cause, we can help ourselves heal without the use of prescription medications for most ailments.     

My name is Dr. Priscilla Monroe and I serve the greater Sacramento region in California.  I can be found online at or by contacting me directly at drpjmonroe(at)  I am 61 years old, and very healthy.  My goal is to keep healthy and walking on my feet as long as I can without a walker!  I currently enjoy kayaking, going to the gym, hiking, biking, and paddle boarding.”     

That’s it for our intro.  Any questions, please post them or send them to drmomnaturopath(at) regarding the blog.  We will tackle a question and/or topic per week and give you as much information as we can throughout our education journey.

Thanks for reading and we look forward to your involvement and hearing about your own health journey!