MARCH 2014


Recent years have seen a significant rise in “organic” produce – defined by the United States Environmental Protection Agency as food that is grown and processed without using synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. But is organic produce really a healthier choice? In fact, a meta-analysis of 240 reports comparing organically and conventionally grown food, found that organic foods, due to lower chemical contamination, are safer for consumption than their conventionally grown counterparts. And it stands to reason that ingesting fewer toxins is healthier than the alternative.
Research has shown that conventional farming methods introduce toxins into your diet and body, which can cause health problems, and they destroy nutrients in foods by ruining soil quality. Excessive pesticide and herbicide use contaminates ground water, ruins soil structures and promotes erosion. Growing produce in nutrient depleted soil diminishes the nutritional content of the produce. Alternatively, organic farming methods pay close attention to maintaining and maximizing soil quality, thereby increasing the nutrient levels of the foods grown in it, making them healthier than conventionally grown foods.

The Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit organization working to protect human and environmental health, publishes the Dirty Dozen Plus and the Clean Fifteen, based on years of independent research on chemical levels of produce. The Dirty Dozen Plus lists the conventionally grown produce that tests highest in levels of contamination from pesticides and other harmful chemicals. Green beans, kale and collard greens have been added to the list because of their likelihood of containing highly toxic organophosphate insecticides. Alternately, the Clean Fifteen is the list of produce with the lowest pesticide content.

The Dirty Dozen Plus

  • Apples
  • Celery
  • Sweet bell peppers
  • Peaches
  • Strawberries
  • Spinach
  • Nectarines
  • Grapes
  • Lettuce
  • Cucumbers
  • Blueberries
  • Potatoes
  • Plus green beans, kale and collard greens

The Clean Fifteen

  • Onions
  • Sweet corn
  • Pineapples
  • Avocado
  • Asparagus
  • Sweet peas
  • Mangoes
  • Eggplant
  • Domestic cantaloupe
  • Kiwi
  • Cabbage
  • Watermelon
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Grapefruit
  • Mushrooms
So, how do you know if something is really organic? The easiest way to tell is by the USDA “certified organic” stamp on packaging and label stickers. Many small, local farmers are following strict organic practices yet do not exhibit the USDA organic stamp. Getting to know the producers of your food is another way to ensure you are buying organic. Educate yourself and watch for creative marketing ploys known as “greenwashing”. Greenwashing is a marketing tactic that uses consumer-tested colors, typeface and other visual cues, including pictures and graphics, to trick people into thinking products are organic. Companies have been found to abuse this tactic, using blatant false advertising containing words such as “natural”,  “100 percent organic”, “organic” or “made with organic ingredients”, but this practice was banned in the U.S. in October 2002.
Quick Tips for Healthy Produce Shopping:

  • Buy from a local, organic farmer.
  • Choose organic in your local grocery store when buying anything on the Dirty Dozen list.
  • Save money by purchasing non-organic varieties of the Clean Fifteen.
  • With Spring on its way, visit your farmers market (make sure to ask about their growing practices).
  • Stay informed by visiting the Environmental Working Group online.
  • Check out Local Harvest in your area to determine where you can find organic farmers markets, farms and restaurants.


Crinnion WJ. 2010. Organic Foods Contain Higher Levels of Certain Nutrients, Lower Levels of Pesticides, and May Provide Health Benefits for the Consumer. Alternative Medicine Review: A Journal of Clinical Therapeutic. 15 (1): 4-12.
Crinnion, Walter. 2010. Clean, Green and Lean: Get Rid of the Toxins That Make You Fat. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley.
Pesticides and Food: What “Organically Grown” Means. United States Environmental Protection Agency.
EWG’s Shoppers Guide to Pesticides in Produce 2013. Environmental Working Group.


Often considered “super food,” leafy greens are some of the most nutritious food you can consume. Rich in vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, when consumed, these leaves act as powerful antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, and help prevent various forms of cancer. Leafy greens include vegetables such as spinach, kale, Swiss chard, collard greens, mustard greens and turnip greens. Spinach is arguably one of the most nutrient-rich foods, if not the most. It is best known for providing powerful antioxidant protection. Chard leaves contain syringic acid, which helps regulate blood-sugar levels.
Additionally, chard contains a significant variety and amount of phytonutrients called betalains, which provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification support. Chard and spinach are uniquely beneficial for nervous system health, including specialized organs like the eye. Kale, collard greens and mustard greens have cholesterol-lowering powers that are best produced through steaming. Raw forms still have cholesterol-lowering ability–just not as much. Recent research has shown that turnip greens provide the most cancer-preventing benefits of all the cruciferous vegetables. To reap the full benefits of these foods, they should be consumed a minimum of 2-3 times per week, with the serving size being at least 1-1/2 cups. Healthy steaming of leafy greens maximizes nutrition and flavor. Enjoy!


Swiss Chard. World’s Healthiest Foods.
Kale. World’s Healthiest Foods.
Spinach. World’s Healthiest Foods.
Mustard Greens. World’s Healthiest Foods.
Collard Greens. World’s Healthiest Foods.
Turnip Greens. World’s Healthiest Foods.


You spring clean your house, and maybe even your life – so why not your body? This tasty super green soup is healthy, quick and easy. Packed with leafy greens and fiber-loaded beans, it provides plenty of nutritional benefits without weighing you down – a perfect preparation tool for the return of warmer weather. Remember to use organic ingredients!


  • 2 cups of chopped kale
  • 2 cups of chopped chard
  • 2 cups of chopped spinach
  • 1 can of beans (your favorite), rinsed and drained
  • 4 cloves of fresh garlic
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 – 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 1 – 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1 med potato, cubed
  • 1 Tbsp chopped cilantro (optional)
  • 6 cups of vegetable broth
  • 4 cups of water
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Parsley or dill to sprinkle on top

Combine the broth, water, garlic, onion, carrots, potato and celery in a large pot. Bring to a boil and then cover, reduce to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes. Add kale and beans and cook for an additional 5 minutes, or until the kale has wilted. Remove from heat and add spinach, cilantro, salt and pepper. Stir well and allow to cool about 5 minutes. Puree with a blender or food processor. Serve warm, garnished with parsley or dill on top.

BURDOCK (Arctium lappa)

A member of the daisy family native to Europe and Northern Asia, burdock remains a largely unstudied herb among the scientific community, despite having been used in traditional medicine for centuries. Today, burdock grows as a weed in the U.S. and is cultivated and consumed as a vegetable in Japan and parts of Europe. Burdock has traditionally been used as a blood purifier, a diuretic, and as a topical remedy for skin problems such as eczema, acne and psoriasis. Additionally, burdock may be useful in treating chronic diseases such as cancers, diabetes and AIDS. Burdock also may have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antibacterial properties, and may be used to improve digestion.
Recent studies have shown that burdock has prebiotic properties, and as a root vegetable, burdock is an excellent antioxidant. Burdock supplements are sold as dried root powder, decoctions (liquid made by boiling down the herb in water), tinctures (a solution of the herb in alcohol, or water and alcohol), or fluid extracts. And extracts of burdock root are found in a variety of herbal preparations, as well as homeopathic remedies. As with any herb, burdock may interact with other herbs, supplements or medications. Discuss this herb with your Naturopathic doctor prior to use, to decide if burdock may be right for you.


Burdock. University of Maryland Medical Center.
Mills, Simon, and Kerry Bone. 2000. Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy: Modern Herbal Medicine. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone.
Pizzorno, Joseph E., and Michael T. Murray. 1999. Textbook of Natural Medicine. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone.


Commonly known as NAC, N-acetyl cysteine is an amino acid that is made in the body from cysteine. Cysteine is found in most meats and in some plant sources including broccoli, red pepper and onion. Bananas, garlic, soy beans, linseed and wheat germ also contain cysteine. NAC can be used to treat, and even help prevent common diseases and ailments. It has been shown to help protect against seasonal flu symptoms, and in 2010, was shown to protect against bird flu. Additionally, NAC has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, block cancer through various methods and reduce the frequency and duration of attacks in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
NAC also offers protection against exercise-induced oxidative stress in tissue, which probably explains why NAC is often found in nutritional and bodybuilding supplements. Another potential benefit of NAC includes replenishment of glutathione, an intracellular antioxidant that has been known to decrease with age and chronic illness. Whether you increase foods high in cysteine or you take NAC as a supplement, it is important that you first consult your Naturopathic doctor.


Packer, L. 1999. The Antioxidant Miracle. John Wiley & Sons: New York.
Pizzorno, Joseph E., and Michael T. Murray. 1999. Textbook of Natural Medicine. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone.
N-acetyl cysteine (NAC): This Common Antioxidant Supplement Could Cause You Loads of Trouble.
The Overlooked Compound That Saves Lives. Life Extension Magazine.


Popularized by Edgar Cayce in the early twentieth century, castor oil is a traditional natural remedy that dates back to Ancient Egypt, China, Persia, Africa, Greece and Rome. Castor oil comes from the castor seed of the castor oil plant (Ricinus communis), a large shrub. Castor oil packs can be applied almost anywhere on the body, including the abdomen and joints. Castor oil packs are often used when treating the symptoms of constipation, digestive disorders, menstrual irregularities, uterine and ovarian cysts, bursitis, as part of a liver detox program and for a variety of skin conditions. A 1999 study found that topical use of castor oil stimulates the lymphatic system, helping the body to remove toxins and promote its own healing.



  • 8 oz of cold-pressed, organic castor oil
  • Cotton or wool flannel cloth
  • Glass bowl – large enough to hold cloth
  • Hot water bottle
  • Plastic bag or saran wrap
  • Couple of old towels
  • Clothes that you do mind getting oily



  • Place cotton or wool flannel in glass bowl.
  • Pour enough castor oil on cloth to completely saturate, but not so much that it is dripping. You can add it a little at a time. Use your hands to knead the cloth and help it absorb the oil.
  • Fill water bottle with hot water.
  • Put a towel down to protect surfaces where you are doing the castor pack.
  • Place saturated cloth on desired part of body and cover with plastic.
  • Place hot water bottle on top of plastic covered pack.
  • Cover with a towel.
  • Leave pack on 30-60 minutes.Remove pack and cleanse area with a little soap and water.
  • Place cloth in an airtight glass container to be reused for up to 2 weeks.

Do not apply castor oil to broken skin. Do not apply to abdomen in suspected appendicitis. Castor oil should also be avoided during pregnancy and breastfeeding. As with any medical treatment, it is vital to discuss castor oil treatments with your Naturopathic doctor before use


How is a Castor Oil Pack Made? Cathy Wong, ND,
Castor Oil May Help Relieve Arthritis, Sciatica and Back Pain.

The information offered by this newsletter is presented for educational purposes. Nothing contained within should be construed as nor is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. This information should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider. Always consult with your physician or other qualified health care provider before embarking on a new treatment, diet or fitness program. You should never disregard medical advice or delay in seeking it because of any information contained within this newsletter.

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