Selenium, A Cure For Ebola?

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I recently read an article in Whole Foods Magzine that selenium, a mineral found in the soil, that is a common supplement found in a natural food store alleviates Ebola symptoms in patients already inflicted with the disease and can potentially rid patients with Ebola of this (sometimes) fatal disease. This peaked my interest and I sought out more information.

As for a disclaimer, I am not a medical doctor nor have any medical background. With anything you do that concerns your health, you should always check with a physician or health care professional before making any decisions. Also, this article is not intended to bypass our health system regarding any treatment for Ebola. Again, consult a health care practitioner before doing anything.

First, what is selenium? “Selenium is a chemical element with symbol Se and atomic number 34. It is a nonmetal with properties that are intermediate between those of its periodic table column-adjacent chalcogen elements sulfur and tellurium. It rarely occurs in its elemental state in nature, or as pure ore compounds. Selenium (Greek σελήνη selene meaning “Moon”) was discovered in 1817 by Jöns Jacob Berzelius, who noted the similarity of the new element to the previously known tellurium (named for the Earth).

Selenium is found impurely in metal sulfide ores, copper where it partially replaces the sulfur. Commercially, selenium is produced as a byproduct in the refining of these ores, most often during production. Minerals that are pure selenide or selenate compounds are known, but are rare. The chief commercial uses for selenium today are in glassmaking and in pigments. Selenium is a semiconductor and is used in photocells. Uses in electronics, once important, have been mostly supplanted by silicon semiconductor devices. Selenium continues to be used in a few types of DC power surge protectors and one type of fluorescent quantum dot.

Selenium salts are toxic in large amounts, but trace amounts are necessary for cellular function in many organisms, including all animals and is an ingredient in many multi-vitamins and other dietary supplements, including infant formula. Selenium is a component of the antioxidant enzymes glutathione peroxidase and thioredoxin reductase (which indirectly reduce certain oxidized molecules in animals and some plants). It is also found in three deiodinase enzymes, which convert one thyroid hormone to another. Selenium requirements in plants differ by species, with some plants requiring relatively large amounts, and others apparently requiring none.” (Source: Wikipedia) The above picture is black, glassy amorphous (with thin layer of grey selenium). There is also a red amorphous selenium.

Selenium does have health benefits. Selenium has attracted a lot of attention because of its antioxidant properties. Antioxidants protect cells from damage. Selenium protects the body from free radical damage and heavy metal toxins. An anti-cancer substance and immune supplement, selenium works well with Vitamin E to prevent cholesterol build-up, protect against heart and degenerative disease and enhance skin elasticity. There is some evidence that selenium supplements may reduce the odds of prostate cancer. Selenium does not seem to affect the risk of colorectal or lung cancer. But beware: selenium also seems to increase the risk of non-melanoma skin cancer.

Food sources of selenium include bran, nutritional yeast, broccoli, cabbage, celery, corn, garlic, mushrooms, onions, wheat germ and whole grain. Very high does of selenium can be toxic, so be careful. A safe dose ranges between 50-250mcg. Among healthy people in the U.S., selenium deficiencies are uncommon. But some health conditions — such as HIV, Crohn’s disease, and others — are associated with low selenium levels. People who are fed intravenously are also at risk for low selenium. Doctors sometimes suggest that people with these conditions use selenium supplements.

Fairly new research demonstrates that naturally occurring proteins that contain selenium in human blood cells slow down multiplication of the AIDS virus, in some cases, at least ten fold. “During the spring of 1995 [the] Ebola virus created havoc in the African nation of Zaire. Researchers studying the Ebola virus found many similarities between it and the HIV virus. For example, like HIV, Ebola has the potential to create several proteins requiring selenium. However, in the case of Ebola, the selenium content appears much higher than in HIV. It could be as much as ten times higher.

According to Dr. E. W. Taylor, the Ebola virus behaves very much like HIV. When selenium levels in infected cells drop, Ebola reproduces and aggressively searches for cells with more selenium, spreading the infection throughout the body. The population of Zaire was found to be deficient in selenium (may be because the soil in this country is deficient in selenium.) This may partially explain why both HIV virus and Ebola virus are rampant in Zaire. Normal immune defenses against the virus is handicapped by selenium deficiency.” (

So, it makes sense as to why there is a call for selenium from physicians treating Ebola patients in West Africa. Selenium is a powerful antioxidant and Ebola patients are deficient in selenium due to the disease. By replenishing selenium in an infected patient, it enhances their immunity and allows their body to better fight off the disease.

As the disease progresses, in the absence of supplemented selenium, an Ebola patient will become progressively more deficient, compromising immunity. Advancement of Ebola virus in the infected patient is likely to impose an unprecedented selenium demand on the host, potentially leading to severe lipid peroxidation and cell membrane destruction, and contributing to hemorrhagic fever. People who are infected with the virus are more likely to recover if they can maintain an adequate selenium level.

Chinese researchers have already explored the benefits of selenium supplements in Ebola patients. These researchers treated patients with an outbreak of viral hemorrhagic fever with an oral selenium supplement. These researchers obtained dramatic reductions in mortality: after 9 days of Se dosage, the death rate fell from 100% (untreated) to 37% (treated) in the very severe cases, and from 22% to zero in the less severe cases (Hou J-C 1997. Inhibitory effect of selenite and other antioxidants on complement-mediated tissue injury in patients with epidemic hemorrhagic fever. Biol Trace Elem Res 56: 125-130.)

So while a cure or vaccination for the Ebola virus seems far away. Selenium provides hope for patients inflicted and to potentially contain the pandemic. We all need to be smart and careful when dealing with anything medical, however selenium gives is hope.


PRODUCT REVIEW: Bogavia Nourishing Sugar Scrub


My product reviews until now have dealt with products you can consume, but healthy habits are for both inside and out, so today I will be reviewing a beauty care product: Bogavia Nourishing Sugar Scrub. I absolutely love this product. And, I only review products I truly like. First, what is a sugar scrub? Sugar scrubs are exfoliating treatments that help to soften the skin and restore a healthy glow. The granulated particles of sugar in the sugar body scrub serve as tiny scrubbing beads that slough off dead surface skin cells and smooth over rough patches of skin. The sugar scrub must be applied to dry skin in a gentle, circular motion in order for the exfoliating action of the beads to work properly, removing as much of the dead skin cells as possible while unclogging skin pores. The sugar beads glide over the dried patches of skin, removing them to reveal the soft skin underneath. A sugar body scrub rejuvenates the skin and can be used on any part of the body.

Bogavia’s nourishing sugar scrub has all natural and organic ingredients. It contains: Organic Sucrose, Organic Anthemis Nobilis (Chamomile) Flower Extract, Organic Citrus Tangerina (Tangerine) Extract, Organic Vanilla Planifolia Fruit Extract, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Organic Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Aroma (Organic and Wildcrafted Aroma Blend), Tocopherol (Vitamin E) Natural. Bogavia’s website has the following about their sugar scrub: “Gentle and moisturizing, this organic sugar blend works to improve the total quality of your skin. Each use refines skin texture, promotes a radiant glow and delicately scents your body with the Valencia Vanilla natural and organic essential oil blend.” (

I use this sugar scrub in the shower. First, the smell is amazing: Valencia Vanilla. It is a sweet, warm scent that wakes you up and leaves you calm. The sugar is sweet and exfoliates. You can feel it working. And, the scrub comes in a tube, rather than a container where you risk getting water in it. After the shower and scrub, I moisturize with a hydration body lotion. The smell of Valencia vanilla lingers in a pleasant way. Its not to strong, but enough to get that fresh out of the shower feeling for a few more hours. The scrub leaves me feeling moisturized. I definitely recommend this product. The website lists local retailers, and you can also order it off the website.

All Things Pumpkin: Part One


Its that time of year again and I just love all things pumpkin. In my opinion, there can never be enough pumpkin spiced goodies, whether it be edible: sweet or savory, for your body of for your home. When I am out and about I quickly grab everything and anything that I can find that is pumpkin. Now, this year, on my healthy eating and healthy lifestyle quest I have geared my pumpkin obsession to healthier options. So, this is part one of my pumpkin fiesta. As I find more products I will feature more on this blog. If there is a pumpkin product you are into, let me know. I may just have to try it!

1. Classic Pumpkin Pie: Baked in-store by my local whole foods with organic ingredients. Classic. Simple. Elegant. A dollop of whip cream is all it needs!! ??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

2. Amazing Grass Pumpkin Pie Green Juice: Mixed with almond vanilla milk, its like a pumpkin pie shake and it has all the benefits of green juice… ‘AMAZING’.thP6Y8JMDB

3. Trader Joes Mini Ginger Pumpkin Ice Cream Mouthfuls: True to its name a mini mouthful, this bite has the spice of ginger and the sweetness of pumpkin. I couldn’t eat just one! But I controlled myself at two. Trader-Joes-Mini-Ginger-Pumpkin-Ice-Cream-Mouthfuls-Dining-at-My-Desk-1024x578

4. Lux Sweet Pumpkin Spice Soap: Handmade soap from a company called Lux in New Jersey. Sold by the pound at Whole Foods, this soap smells just like pumpkin pie. It smells so good I want to eat it. A nice warm edition to my bathroom for the fall months.10609499_713413862073982_7344349278206205936_n

5. Maine Root Pumpkin Pie Soda: Sweet and delicious. A very sweet liquid version of pumpkin pie. Probably really good with Vodka too. Pumpkin-Pie-4-packFNL1-268x300

6. Cliff Bar Pumpkin Pie Spice Bar: A classic ‘gritty’ cliff bar high in energy with a pumpkin pie twist. Mild spice and pumpkin flavor. Overall delicious!! clif-r3_spp

7.Magic Hat Wilhelm Call for Fall Pumpkin Beer: Personally, I like pumpkin beer that tastes like you are drinking an alcohol laced pumpkin pie. This beer is not that, BUT it is good. It has the fall spice to it, not sweet and slightly spicy.magic-hat-pumpkin

8. Whole Foods Pumpkin Cheesecake Sandwich Cookies: The best for last? So good, not to sweet. Great pumpkin spice flavor with a mild cheesecake finish.Screen%20Shot%202012-12-07%20at%2010.37.52%20AM

Ask the Esthetician: Caring for Your Skin in the Cooler Months

A very informative and important post written by a friend of mine. Very good advice. Thank you Brains Beauty and Balance.

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As a professional esthetician and spa owner, one of the biggest concerns which I hear from clients is how to properly care for their skin in the cooler months.  I can absolutely offer some practical advice, but first it is important to explain a few things about the skin.  It is important to understand that there are three primary types of skin: Dry, Normal and Oily.  Dry Skin is characterized by a under active sebaceous (oil-producing) gland, Normal Skin is well-balanced and is ideal, Oily Skin is characterized by an over-active sebaceous-gland.  Most people tend to fall somewhere in-between, that is to say Normal-to-Dry or Normal-to-Oily; true “Combination” Skin is something which I have very rarely encountered in my practice.  Beyond your skin type, an esthetician may analyze a skin condition (i.e.- acne, dehydration, etc.).  Your skin type is genetically pre-determined.  Understand that any skin type can be affected, at any time, with any skin condition.

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Green Juice: What Is It and Why Do I Need It?


Okay, I will admit a concoction of green juice looks — to me —- like vomit. Utterly gross, so why am I going to drink that? Green juices are wildly popular. It seems like everyone is ‘juicing’ now whether it be a juice cleanse or at a juice bar or a supplement at home. My local Whole Foods Market has a whole wall dedicated to green juice mixes. So, what is so great about these juices? What are their benefits and what do they taste like? I had to find out. First, I did a taste test. I tried two different types of juices from a company called Amazing Grass. I tried their energy line – Amazing Grass Watermelon and Amazing Grass Lemon Lime. 201403041313294940_sml 2014031210110823852_sml ( Amazing Grass labels their line as green superfood. This is what the website has to say: “Get your daily dose of nutritious whole greens with Amazing Grass Green SuperFoods. Every serving is chock full of all of the necessary vitamins and minerals you and your family need. Plus it tastes great! Add our superfoods to any beverage for an energizing start to your day.” Well, they were right. It did taste great! I mixed the watermelon with lemonade and the lemon-lime with orange juice. Each powder did turn the juice a freakish Frankenstein green, but it tasted ‘amazing’ (no pun intended.)

So, it tastes good, but why should I drink one. I did a little research. Here is what I learned. Green Superfoods are a category of phytonutrient-rich nutritional products derived from green plants, algae and cereal grasses. These green foods naturally contain high concentrations of chlorophyll and are harvested seasonally to take advantage of high potencies of naturally occurring nutrients. These Superfoods also contain phytochemicals that protect the body against many degenerative diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease. Chlorophyll, beta-carotene in the plankton, and genistein and daidzein in the soy sprouts are four of the most powerful anticancer phytochemicals discovered. In fact, there is not a degenerative disease that can not be prevented through the increased consumption of these foods. Cereal grasses are the only foods in the vegetable kingdom that, even if consumed alone, enable animals to continually maintain weight, strength, and optimal health. Grasses are considered to be at, or near, the base of the terrestrial food chain. The powers of the sun that are trapped in its blades produce rich amounts of chlorophyll and other green photosynthetic pigments.

The grasses, known today as green superfoods, supply many nutritional factors that even now scientists cannot duplicate in a vitamin or mineral pill. Grass is perhaps the most nutrient-dense food on this green earth, richer in nutrients than spinach, broccoli, eggs and chicken in virtually all categories including protein, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese, vitamin C, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folic acid, vitamin B12, carotenoids, and vitamin E. They abound in unidentified growth factors, powerful antioxidants, immune boosters, and many other health supporting nutrients.

In some cases, a green superfood is not only considered a source of nutrition but also a means of treating various types of health conditions. One of the distinguishing characteristics that many examples of green superfood share is that the foods are not considered traditional fare in many Western cultures. For example, several types of seaweed are considered to be highly nutritious, but are rarely served outside of ethnic selections such as Korean or Thai cuisine. Barley grass and wheat grass are also two popular natural foods that are considered to be green superfoods. Often, the liquid from both types of grass is extracted in order to create the base for a highly nutritious drink. Because of the high content of vitamins and minerals, the juice can be used to help correct imbalances in the diet, especially for people who do not take the time to eat properly. Organic superfood options like these two grasses can also help to provide a burst of energy without relying on added sugar and carbohydrates, making them an ideal source of nutrition for people with blood sugar problems.

In sum, Green juice…

1.Detoxifies the body – It’s very cleansing and assists in the removal of toxins that people absorb everyday;

2.Fosters healthy weight loss;

3. Helps to alkalize the body (This is important as many diseases thrive in acidic conditions);

4. Strengthens your immune system;

5. Gives you more energy (because juicing reduces the energy your body needs to digest foods).

So, I will get over the gross vomit looking beverage I am consuming and enjoy the great taste and health benefits of a green juice. Some research I found suggested that a green juice should be had by everybody everyday. I may not go that far, but I certainly will add green juice to my regular diet.

*All views expressed in this blog post are my sole opinion. Further, I have not been asked or endorsed in any manner.*

PRODUCT REVIEW: Gaia Herbs Curcumin Synergy of the Tumeric Supreme Line Supplements


Another product review for y’all today. Two in a row, A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! I am reviewing Gaia Herbs Curcumin Synergy Line of Turmeric supplements. At the outset, I have to say I absolutely love this company as much as I love MegaFoods (see my Dream Release review). If you don’t know about Gaia Herbs, they are an alternative and holistic medicinal supplement company, and grower and producer of Certified Organic (COG) herbs and herbal products. Gaia Herbs produces pure plant medicines of quality and purity while enriching the ecology of the earth and the health and harmony of the people that use their phyto-medicines. Gaia Herbs is a certified organic grower and nationally-branded manufacturer of liquid herbal extracts based in Western NC. Their commitment to certified organic herbs ensures strength, purity, and efficacy of herbal products. Gaia Herbs is natural medicine in its purist form. Gaia owns and operates its own farm in North Carolina and sources some of their products directly from the farm. These herbal products include include Echinacea angustifolia, Echinacea purpurea, Skullcap, Valerian, Gotu Kola, Holy Basil, Nettles, California Poppy, Dandelion leaf, Dandelion root, Burdock root, Ginkgo leaf, Hawthorn leaf, Hawthorn flower, and Elder flowers. Also, another really cool feature offered by Gaia Herbs is their “Meet Your Herbs” feature. On the back of every box is a unique ID that you can enter into their website to see all traceable aspects of the herbs cultivation, harvesting, excavation and validation. It ensures the “purity, potency and integrity” of the herbs.

So, the Turmeric Supreme line…. first, it is important to know the about turmeric, what is it for? What does it do? Turmeric has been used for centuries in India’s traditional medicine system called Ayurveda. It is often found as one of the predominant spices in a curry dish. Turmeric is widely used in supporting a healthy inflammatory response. Think of it as a natural aspirin (NSAID). Actually, it has been found that turmeric is one of natures best natural pain relievers, and is more effective in relieving arthritis symptoms than Ibuprofen. Curcumin is the active ingredient found in turmeric that supports a healthy inflammatory function. Curcumin inhibits platelet aggregation; its fibrinolytic activity controls excess buildup of fibrin (non-globular protein involved in the clotting of blood) in blood vessels which can lead to blood clots. Curcumin increases bile secretion to strengthen the gallbladder, and protects against cholesterol oxidation and plaque build-up. It is a powerful antioxidant that can fight viruses. Studies show curcumin is a cancer fighter, making tumor cells more resistant to malignancy. It has also been found to help neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s by its ability to cross through the blood-brain barrier and ask as an antioxidant.

So, turmeric is a really good and healthy natural supplement. Which is why I like Gaia Herbs new Turmeric Supreme line. First, Gaia Herbs is one of the few brands I know of that includes black pepper extract with the turmeric supplement. Black pepper extract is supercritical to turmeric in that it increases the absorption of curcumins so that you get maximum benefits. Gaia Herbs Turmeric Supreme Curcumin Synergy line has five new formulas in addition to their original extra strength turmeric. The five new formulas each target specific needs and support. They each combine potent herbs, curcumin and black pepper extract to support different needs. The line includes “Allergy”, “Heart”, “Joint”, “Pain” and “Pain PM.” My favorite currently is Pain PM. Pain PM h’s turmeric/curcumin and black pepper (of course) and kava kava root and valerian. Valerian root is one of my favorite natural sleep supplements. It provides therapeutic effects by promoting a normal and restless night sleep. Kava kava root supports the body’s nervous system by providing a calming and relaxing effect.

As I mentioned previously, the Pain PM is like taking a natural Advil PM. I love it, and I love that Gaia Herbs creates these unique blends to target specific needs. So the Curcumin Synergy of the Turmeric Supreme Line gets five out of five stars from me.

PRODUCT REVIEW: Epic Bison-Bacon-Cranberry Bar


Today I am reviewing the Epic Bison-Bacon-Cranberry Bar from Epic Company ( These bars are weirdly delicious. I found them in the protein bar section of my Whole Foods. I didn’t know what to think. Protein bars are all about fruit and nuts… sometimes they are grainy, but that is the comfort that I have come to expect in a good protein bar. So, steps in Epic meat bars. Weird and strange. At first I thought eeewww gross. But I committed to a product review so I kept going. To my surprise the second, third, fourth bite so on was actually really good. When you finally get through the fact that this is a meat bar, the taste is original.

So, a little bit about Epic. There website lists the following about their meat bars: “The EPIC bar is a 100% grass fed animal based protein bar designed as nature intended. Paleo friendly, gluten free, and low in sugar, we believe that EPIC foods should inspire EPIC health.” In addition to bison, Epic also has beef, lamb, and turkey bars. They seem to be paired with flavors that compliment the meat. The bison is paired with cranberry, a fall type pairing. Lamb is paired with mint — very classic.

Epic’s founders and owners are Taylor and Katie. According to their website, Taylor and Katie decided on Epic after a ‘boot camp’ vacation to create something sustainable that they craved. Katie asked “What if there was a whole foods snack, low in sugar, high in nutrients, and loaded with protein and healthy fat?” I thought for a moment, and simply answered, “That would be epic!”

Epic bars are healthy. Epic animals are grass fed. Grass fed animals pass loads of nutrition on to humans. “Grass-fed animals are loaded with higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which are better for both cardiovascular health and contain anti-inflammatory properties. They also have significantly higher values of vitamins A and E as well as antioxidants.” While nutritious what I like most about Epic bars is that their animals received the most humane treatment. From the Epic website: “We believe that EPIC animals should always live pasture-centered lives where turkeys forage, pigs wallow, and buffalo roam. This is the way nature intended animals to be and we see ourselves as leaders in recognizing the value of sustainable and responsible animal welfare practices.”

So, while I liked this bison meat bar from Epic, when choosing a protein bar, I will probably stick with my comfortable mealy fruit and nuts. But, this one is not bad. I’d give it 3.5 stars.