Category Archives: Health & Lifestyle

Can Cocoa Melt Away Coughs

Can Cocoa Melt Away Coughs?

In previous articles, we discussed how chocolate can provide incredible benefits to our brain health, why we love it so much, and where we can find dairy-free options. Today, we will answer the question — can chocolate cure coughs better than traditional medicine?

“Chocolate can calm coughs,” Professor Alyn Morice, head of cardiovascular and respiratory studies at the University of Hull, and a founding member of the International Society for the Study of Cough, wrote in The Daily Mail. “I know that might sound like something out of Mary Poppins, but as an independent clinician who has spent years researching the mechanism of cough, I can assure you the evidence is actually as solid a bar of Fruit and Nut.”

Better than Standard Cough Syrup

According to a European study, patients who took medicine containing cocoa were found to have a significant improvement in their cough and sleeplessness within two days, compared to those taking standard cough medicine.

Another research from London’s Imperial College found that theobromine, an alkaloid found in cocoa, suppresses or calms coughs better than codeine, a common ingredient in cough medicine.

Researchers say that if further studies can confirm these results, chocolate can be used to create better and more efficient cough medicines, which provide significantly fewer side effects than existing drugs. Unlike most cough medicines available on the market, researchers say the chocolate ingredient does not inflict negative side effects, such as drowsiness.

“Coughing is a medical condition, which affects most people at some point in their lives, and yet no effective treatment exists,” says researcher Peter Barnes, a professor at the Imperial College London, in a news release. “While persistent coughing is not necessarily harmful it can have a major impact on quality of life, and this discovery could be a huge step forward in treating this problem.”

Relieves Inflammation or Irritation

Researchers claim cocoa has demulcent properties, which means it relieves inflammation and irritation. Essentially, it’s stickier than traditional cough syrup and can form a coating to protect the nerve endings in the throat, which trigger the urge to cough. This is the same reasoning behind the effectivity of honey and lemon in curing throat irritations. 

Don’t Drink Your Chocolate

Morice further notes that “However, drinking hot chocolate won’t have the same effect, as the cocoa isn’t in contact with the throat long enough to form a protective coating. Slowly sucking on a piece of dark chocolate may provide some relief, but I think it is the way the chocolate compounds work with other ingredients in the cough syrup that make it so effective.”

How chocolate may be effective in stopping persistent coughs is a groundbreaking discovery. The next time you feel a brewing itch in your throat, skip the honey and lemon, cough syrup, and doing nothing. Instead, suck on a piece of dark chocolate. After all, “This means there will be no restrictions on when it can be taken,” says Barnes. “For example, people using heavy machinery or who are driving should not take codeine, but they could take theobromine.”

Our Love for Chocolate Explained

Our Love for Chocolate Explained

Women crave it; men hoard it. Chocolate is undoubtedly one of the most popular treats in the world. But do you ever question why we love it so much? Here is the science behind why we can’t resist its luscious taste, and why we shouldn’t give it up — dieting or not.   

Our Love for Chocolate Explained

Presence of Opioids

It’s no wonder the brokenhearted turn to chocolate for comfort. According to a study done at the University of Michigan, chocolate contains chemicals called opioids, which serve to dull pain and give a feeling of relief to people who ingest them. According to the same study, the consumption of chocolate results in producing natural opiates in their brain, which soothes nerve activity and triggers a relaxing sensation.

Presence of Stimulants

Chocolate naturally contains “uppers” such as caffeine, sugars, and phenylethylamine. These substances make your heart pound a little harder, make your breathing a little deeper, and give you a slight feeling of alertness. The effect is not dramatic enough to make you uncomfortably jittery, but it is mild enough to produce a pleasant “high,” which is often equated to the feeling of falling in love.

Addicting Melt-In-Your-Mouth Sensation

The cocoa butter in chocolate gives it an incredibly rich and creamy consistency that transmits the cocoa’s flavor perfectly. Aside from its addicting taste, it also has a melting point close to the average human body temperature. This sensation gives you that melt-in-your-mouth feeling every time you eat a piece of chocolate. Chocolate lovers often describe this feeling as a genuine moment of ecstasy.

 Kisses and Chocolate

According to a study by psychologist David Lewis, slowly dissolving chocolate in your mouth causes an increase in brain activity and heart rate, the same effect a passionate kiss gives you. Only, the effects of chocolate last four times longer.

Good for Your Health

Studies suggest that chocolate, especially dark cocoa, contains chemicals that lower the risk of certain cancers and heart disease. Flavonoids and antioxidants found in dark chocolate have been shown to make a difference in cardiovascular health. More recently, tea was considered the primary source of these chemicals. Today, scientists recommend having a serving of chocolate with your tea to reap the full benefits of the life-lengthening compounds. Avoid having milk with your dark chocolate as it may cancel out the positive effects of cocoa. Milk is an excellent source of protein and calcium, but when served alongside chocolate, it may prevent nutrients from being fully absorbed by the body.

Great in Moderation

Chocolate can get addicting, so remember not to overindulge. An excessive amount of chocolate is high in fat and sugar, which is why it’s recommended to keep consumption in moderation. The next time you think about cutting back on calories, think twice before giving up chocolate. After all, science suggests that it can extend your lifespan. This rich, velvety treat not only tastes amazing, but it also has tremendous benefits for your health.


Apples are a Perfect Pick

We have all heard about how good apples are for you. As I write this article, I would like to caution any of the cancer patients about over eating apples. Our patients at New Hope Unlimited are cautioned not eat them during treatment. My reasoning for this is simple. There are a lot of studies about how wonderful apples are to keep you healthy but there is none available to prove that apples can help treat cancer. So, to try to stay healthy is great, but if you already have been diagnosed with cancer, be careful.


When you peel an apple and let it sit for only a few seconds to minutes, what happens? The high starch content turns the apple brown. Starch turns into a certain form of glucose sugar. Science has proven 100 percent that cancer feeds off of sugar. Are you willing to take the chance of feeding the cancer? If not, try some berries such as organic blue berries, strawberries, blackberries, etc. They have been proven to be great anti-cancer foods.

So now let’s discuss the good things about apples. Just how true is the old saying, “an apple a day, keeps the doctor away?”  Many cultures have valued apples for their medicinal properties for thousands of years.  Research from our modern day has confirmed many health benefits associated with apples, and there are hundreds of published papers showing why apples are a true super-fruit to keep you healthy.  

Some reasons to enjoy the benefits of apples are:

  • They are nature’s perfect snack.  It’s the perfect portion-controlled portable pick with only 115 calories and 5 grams of filling fiber.  Vitamin C is one good source, and an apple contains no fat, sodium or cholesterol.  If you leave the skin on you’ll score even more nutrition perks, as it has 2/3’s of the fiber and beneficial antioxidants. Use them in sauces, entrees and desserts.  Apple cider is great, especially when spiced with cinnamon and warmed for a cold winter night.  (And that is coming!!)
  • They might just cut your cancer risk.  Some studies are showing that apples may provide protection against certain types of cancer such as the risk for oral, esophageal, larynx, lung, colon, breast, ovary and prostate cancers.
  • Let them whittle your middle.  Having an apple or two a day and you might avoid an apple shape.  Apples contain filling soluble fiber and ursolic acid, a natural compound that has been found to boost fat-burning.
  • Boost your brain.  Apples are natural brain boosters according to researchers from Cornell University.  The nutrients in apples may protect brain neurons against oxidative damage that contributes to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.  An apple compound called quercetin may be responsible for this protective effect.
  • They’ll help you breathe easier.  You can protect your lungs against the oxidative damage that’s associated with asthma, bronchitis and emphysema from the antioxidants.  Pregnant women eating apples during pregnancy reduced the risk of asthma and wheezing in their child at age five.
  • So grab that bag of delicious apples for your snack or dessert and skip the high calories and sugary desserts.  My favorite apple is the Macintosh from Vermont, personally picked!  Just look at all the amazing benefits you will reap from this choice to help you stay healthy!

–Dr Fredda Branyon

5 Healthy Habits to Keep You in Shape for the New Year

5 Healthy Habits to Keep You in Shape for the New Year

It’s always exciting to create health resolutions following the over-indulgent holiday season. This new year, instead of giving up on your goals a week in, stick to this motto: “New year, new me — for real.”

Here’s where you can start.

1. Start exercising.

Your body functions best when it is physically active. Each day, try to allocate at least 15 to 30 minutes of your time to exercise. Whether it’s in the form of walking, cleaning, or going all-out at the gym, regular exercise drastically improves your sleep quality, cognitive function, metabolism, and stress levels.


2. Eat more natural and whole foods.

You need to commit to a healthy, balanced diet if you’re trying to lose weight or gain muscle. Instead of ordering take-out for dinner and relying on processed food, start adapting to natural and whole foods. Nutrient-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, beans, and nuts provide the fiber, protein, and vitamins your body needs. This also includes swapping out refined grains for whole grains whenever possible.

3. Drink more water.

You’ve heard this time and time again, but truly, one of the healthiest things you can do for your health and body is to drink at least eight glasses of water a day. Besides keeping your body well hydrated, drinking water can help you with digestion, weight loss, and detoxification. Fact is, much like food, water also acts as the fuel your body needs to function. Instead of quenching your thirst with juices, alcohol, and sodas — make water your go-to drink to lead a healthier life.

4. Get an adequate amount of sleep.

A good night’s sleep is crucial to a healthy lifestyle. Getting sufficient sleep not only helps the brain and body relax, but it also restores your energy. Lack of sleep affects your overall health as it increases your risk of various medical conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and stroke. As much fun as it is to stay up late watching TV shows, try to commit to a minimum of seven hours of sleep every night. Sleep benefits your heart, weight, and mind, meaning the amount of sleep you get is equally as important as your diet and exercise.


5. Spend more time with the people you love.

It’s quite ironic how technology makes it so much easier to connect with people, yet succeeds in keeping us further apart. Because of social media and other addicting forms of online content, we often end up missing out on our lives. Spending time with family and friends is essential and has profound health benefits. Not only does it strengthens ties, but it also reduces stress, anxiety, and depression while nurturing positive behaviors. People who have active and real-life social networks have been linked to much better mental and physical health.

If you are determined to live a life driven by wellness, start cultivating these simple habits to ensure that you maintain a healthy body and mind.

Cancer & Night Sweats

Typically cancer symptoms will vary from person to person and will depend upon the type of cancer, where it appears, its size and severity as well as how it affects the body.  

Lowering body temperature is the result and purpose of sweating.  The heat escapes through the skin when the water and salt are released from the sweat glands.  The sweat glands all over the body are controlled by nerve cells in the layer of the skin and not always visible, but the body constantly sweats.  The amount of sweat that is produced depends on factors such as what you are doing, your emotional state and temperature.  A sudden temporary feeling of warmth throughout the body that can lead to sweating is called a hot flash, and commonly linked to women during menopause and not normally a concern.

Night sweats and hot flashes can sometimes signal a medical problem and doctors will check for the underlying condition if it is not due to the menopausal state.   

The hot flashes can be accompanied by:

  • Light or heavy sweating
  • Racing heart
  • Feelings of irritability

Excessive sweating in male and female cancer patients may be due to cancer treatment.  In some cancers and cancer survivors, night sweats typically affect women but do also occur in men.  Menopause affects women and can be due in part to natural, surgical or chemical causes.

Some treatment drugs that can also cause sweating and hot flashes are:

  • Aromatase inhibitors
  • Opioids
  • Tamoxifen
  • Tricyclic
  • Steroids

There can be medicines to treat night sweats but they can cause side effects such as:

  • Antidepressant may lead to nausea, drowsiness, dry mouth and changes in appetite
  • Anticonvulsants can cause drowsiness, dizziness and trouble concentrating
  • Clonidine has been linked to dry mouth, drowsiness, constipation and insomnia

Patients will respond differently to drug therapy treatment programs.  

Hyperhidrosis is a condition that causes people to sweat excessively during the day or night and usually does not pose a big threat.

Other issues that can cause night sweats include:

  • Menopause
  • Infections
  • Low Blood Sugar
  • Hormone disorders
  • Neurological conditions such as stroke
  • Anxiety or stress
  • Alcohol or drug withdrawal or abuse

Medications can also cause night sweats as a simple aspirin.  Night sweats are uncomfortable but are usually harmless.  Drink lots of water to make up for the amount of fluid lost and to prevent dehydration.  Just remember that sweats can be a sign of additional problems, so contact a doctor to work out the cause as well as a treatment plan, especially if the sweats are accompanied by rapid weight loss or gain, tiredness or breathing trouble.  Seek immediate care if these indicators are present.

–Dr Fredda Branyon



Benefits of Clothing Conscious

The foods you choose to buy have an enormous impact on our health and the environment, but so do the clothes you buy, wear and wash.  Eileen Fisher, a clothing designer who was honored for her environmental work at the 2015 Riverkeeper’s Annual Fishermen’s Ball, stated the clothing industry is the second largest polluter in the world and second only to oil.  There is a dirty downside to keeping your clothes clean.  Many of the laundry detergents that we purchase contain toxic chemicals that contribute to water pollution and pose a hazard to people with chemical sensitivities.  Dry cleaning your clothing is also notorious for the toxic chemicals involved and can off-gas for days after.  Microfibers are also released from your clothes during washing, contributing to declining water quality and destruction of wildlife.

Our price for “fast fashion” is steep.  Closets are overflowing with clothes we never even wear, as the price tag is low today.  Each and every item has a significant toll on the environment and on human health across the globe.  Cotton has led to severe ecological devastation.  Depletion of water in the Aral Sea and the subsequent failure of fisheries in the area are partly attributed to cotton.  Organic cotton is more sustainable and accounts for a mere 1% of the cotton grown across the globe, but still requires a lot of water and contains dye with potentially hazardous chemicals.   Every year half a trillion gallons of fresh water is used in the process of dyeing textile, putting added strain on declining fresh water supplies.

Toxic garment dyes wreak havoc in our seas and oceans, traveling across the globe with the currents.  Textile chemicals discharged by China are estimated at 40%.  Final clothing items contain nonylphenol and may take several washes before it’s all washed out, therefore the chemical is also entering the local sewer system.

Most laundry detergent contains harmful chemicals and the garment itself may contribute to the problem of toxic pollution by releasing chemicals and fibers such as:

  • Flame-retardant chemicals
  • Phthalates
  • Microfibers

A direct link between plastics and man-made fibers to the pollution in fish has been made in a study from the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB).  These fibers are easily consumed by fish and other wildlife, while accumulating in the gut, and concentrating in the bodies of other animals higher up the food chain.

The toxic impact of laundry detergents to pollute rivers and lakes, contribute to algae overgrowth and fish die-offs.  Surfactant and phosphates used to soften the water and suspend dirt, are among the most destructive pollutants.  Even biodegradable detergents can be problematic when used in massive quantities by hundreds of millions of people.

Mother Earth News reported sodium nitrilotriacetate (NTA) and organic polyelectrolytes could be used as substitutes for phosphates.  They are believed to be biodegradable and would pose far less of a risk to the environment.  Enzyme “pre-soak” stain removers may be the worst, as they contain 2/3’s phosphate.

Fabric softeners are loaded with harmful chemicals as well, according to the Environmental Health Association of Nova Scotia.  They contain quaternary ammonium compounds, or “quats”, and imidazolidinyl, both of which are known to release formaldehyde.  This chemical can cause joint pain, depression, headaches, chronic pain and other symptoms.  It can also damage your DNA and may lead to cancer.  

Using the dryer sheets give off toxic vapors that are released into your house, thereby compromising your indoor air quality and into the neighborhood.  Opt for organic cotton, opt for unscented and nontoxic alternatives, try DIY recipe for fabric softeners, dry clothes naturally on drying racks and skip the dryer sheets.

Dr Fredda Branyon


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Bladder Cancer & Vitamin D

Other than the already known benefits of Vitamin D, could there be yet another important benefit?  Our vitamin D intake is important, as low levels have been linked to a risk of bladder cancer.  These findings are coming from results presented recently at the Society for Endocrinology conference in the United Kingdom.

Evidence has already been shown that low vitamin D is detrimental to our health.  Some of it comes from a good diet, and good sources will include fatty fish and fish oil, dairy products, mushrooms, liver and egg yolks.  It is mostly synthesized when the body is exposed to sunlight.  It has been found that our dietary sources alone cannot normally provide sufficient vitamin D.

This particular vitamin helps our bodies to maintain healthy levels of calcium and phosphates and low levels are linked to a range of health problems.  If a child has low levels of vitamin D it can lead to bone deformities, such as rickets.  In time with age, a lack of vitamin D can lead to osteoporosis, especially in postmenopausal women.  The low levels have also been linked to cognitive impairment, cardiovascular disease, cancer and autoimmune conditions.

This condition is common among people with limited exposure to sunlight and includes those populations from northern regions where winter days are short, and also those in climates where it is too hot to spend time outdoors.  Those who cover up or use sunscreen with a strong SPF factor to avoid sunburn or skin cancer are at risk of the lack of vitamin D.  Low levels also include those who cover their bodies for cultural or religious reasons, those who stay out of the sun to keep their skin pale and people with darker skin who are also more prone to low vitamin D levels.

Drinking those sugary drinks may also have an impact on their vitamin D levels.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States noted that between 2002-2006, about 8% of the population aged 1 year or over were at risk of vitamin D deficiency, 24% at risk of inadequacy, and only 17% met the desirable levels.  Less than 1% raised concerns about an excess of vitamin D.  About 1.4% of the men and women in the U.S. are expected to develop bladder cancer.  This accounts for 4.6% of all new cancer cases and responsible for 2.8% of all cancer deaths.  

Dr. Rosemary Bland from the University of Warwick and Coventry in the U.K. led researchers who wanted to know more about how synthesis of vitamin D might affect immune responses in specific tissues.  The team had a systematic review of 7 studies to investigate the link between vitamin D and bladder cancer.  They had 112 to 1,125 participants per study and some of the studies measured vitamin D levels before diagnosis, some during and some at the follow-up stage.

Out of 7 studies performed, it was found that 5 had a risk of bladder cancer going up when vitamin D levels are low.  The higher levels also correlated with better survival and outcome in those with bladder cancer.  They also examined the transitional epithelial cells that line the bladder and found these cells can activate and respond to vitamin D.  They can also synthesize enough vitamin D to trigger a local immune response by recognizing the abnormal cells before they develop further.  Their conclusions are that bladder cancer risk correlates with low serum (vitamin D) levels and if confirmed, administering supplementary vitamin D could be a safe and economical means of prevention. More studies are required to test this association.  

–Dr Fredda Branyon


Alternative Medical Bill

I recently read an article written by Nicholas Bakalar on the costs of alternative medical care.  Americans are currently spending $30.2 billion a year on alternative and complementary medicines and procedures, including $1.9 billion on children ages 4 to 17 years old.  Nothing is paid by insurance on any alternative medicine treatments, but rather is all paid out of the patient’s pocket.  

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, they maintain a continuing health survey of Americans that concludes 55.2 million adults and 4.4 million children received some type of alternative care.  About $14.7 billion, or almost half of the money, was spent visiting practitioners like acupuncturists, homeopaths, naturopaths, chelation therapists, mind body experts, energy healing specialists, hypnotists, massage therapists and traditional healers.

The natural product supplements cost $12.8 billion, excluding vitamin and mineral diet supplements, and $2.7 billion was paid for self-care, including expenses for books and educational materials on diet-based therapies, guided imagery, meditation, tai chi, movement therapies, biofeedback and other treatments.  This is quite a lot of money spent for care that the medical community deem worthless.

The $30.2 billion is only 1.1% of the nation’s total health care bill, which is $2.82 trillion.  However, the $12.8 billion spent on natural product supplements is 24% of the $54 billion spent out of pocket on prescription drugs, and $14.7 billion spent in visits to alternative practitioners and is nearly a third of the out-of-pocket expenditures for visits to conventional physicians.

The figures we see and compare are valuable data because it shows us just how much people value these alternative approaches, according to Richard L. Nahin, an epidemiologist.  Some people might use a therapy if it’s free but not if they have to pay for it.  When people are willing to pay for it out of their own pocket, they must really value and believe in alternative medicine.

Expenditures for a family increased with their income.  Those families with less than $25,000 a year spent an average of $435 a year on alternative care.  For lower income families, this only shows their trust and faith in taking advantage of alternative medicine, that could very well be a hardship for these families.  Their money would not be spent if some kind of results for their hard earned money weren’t realized.

I felt this pretty well summed up just how much of the population believes in this type of treatment, so there must be some validity in the overall success of alternative medicine. Insurance companies need to wake up!

–Dr Fredda Branyon



Alternative Care

I read an eye opening article written by a woman who is a cancer survivor.  Her story was uplifting and proves to me that alternative medicine is the perfect alternative to the immune destroying chemo treatments.

The lady in the article was told by her doctor that there was nothing further he could do for her. She had experienced a near death reaction to their poisonous chemotherapy.  She felt he had made all the money he could off her and was at the end of her treatment.  She chose as a last resort to enter one of the alternative care facilities in Mexico.  This was in 2007 when she was sent home to die by the oncologist.

She feels very fortunate at being a survivor and able to recommend alternative treatment in Mexico after surviving for 9 more years to date cancer free.  She arrived at the facility in a wheel chair with only several weeks to live.  Weak and feeling next to death, she fortunately still had the will to live.  After only several weeks of natural cancer treatments, she professed being a new person.  She felt strong and alive.  She walked out of the clinic beside her husband with huge smiles on both their faces.  At this point, she knew she would live.  

Upon returning home she visited her conventional oncologist who was shocked after receiving the results of her “after” PET-scan test, compared to her first test.  He professed never having seen anything quite like it.  Her blood tests were perfect and the PET-scan did not detect ANY CANCER at all.  She left him bewildered and confused at leaving, without even telling him she had been to Mexico for treatment.

This generous lady shared her story in the hopes that others out there having been given the death sentence would reach out to the possibility of alternative cancer treatment.  Many testimonies like this one are posted every day.  Don’t block out the possibility and hope that your life is NOT over, just temporarily sidetracked!


Treating Pain Without Drugs

The United States released a federal report revealing that more than 54% of adults had some type of musculoskeletal pain disorder such as back, joint or neck pain in 2012. This is a leading cause of disability and major contributor to health care expenses and disability compensation, and a significant price Americans pay for pain. Those suffering from pain were significantly more likely to have used a complementary health approach compared to those without pain.

There was congressional testimony from the American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians (ASIPP) that stated Americans consume 80% of the pain pills in the world. More than 2,000 pain patients in the U.S. said they were taking a dangerously addictive opioid pain medication. It has been suggested by research that these drugs work for only about three months and make changes in your brain that may lead to increased feelings of pain, along with added emotional upset. Feelings of hopelessness and desperation can be included.

Many suffering pain have tried nearly every treatment that conventional medicine has to offer such as medications, injections, surgery and more, only to find their pain hasn’t gotten better and they are struggling with treatment-induced side effects as well. At this point, it’s natural that they begin to seek other options, like holistic, complementary or “alternative” health care options for some relief.

Mayo Clinic Proceedings evaluated several complementary approaches for pain relief as listed below:

· Acupuncture
· Massage Therapy
· Relaxation Techniques
· Exercise
· Medical Marijuana

The therapeutic and psychoactive properties of marijuana occur when a cannabinoid activates a cannabinoid receptor. These receptors are in your brain, lungs, liver, kidneys, immune system and more. It is known that cannabinoid receptors play an important role in many body processes, including metabolic regulations, cravings, pain, anxiety, bone growth and immune function.

Turmeric contains curcumin, which has notable anti-inflammatory properties and has earned a reputation for being a multi-faceted healer. Essential oils for pain relief are: lavender, marjoram, chamomile, spruce, clove, ginger, sandalwood, fennel, wintergreen and frankincense.

Essential oils that help relieve RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis) pain and inflammation include peppermint, orange, ginger, myrrh and turmeric.

Homeopathy is found to be effective for low back pain, and some common remedies include Aesculus, for dull pain with muscle weakness, Gnaphalium, for sciatica that alternates with numbness, Colocynthis, for weakness and cramping in the small of the back, Amica Montana, for pain as a result of trauma, Lycopodium, for burning pain, and Rhus toxicodendron, for stiffness and pain in the small of the back.

Your life can quickly be sidelined if you are in severe pain or struggling with chronic pain. Seek the help of a pain specialist who is familiar with alternative treatments. By identifying the underlying causes of your pain, a knowledgeable practitioner can help you to relieve your pain in the short term while healing the cause.

— Dr Fredda Branyon