Welcome to Natural Health by Karen Vaughan, MSOM, Science writer, Licensed Acupuncturist, and Registered Herbalist (American Herbalists Guild) A photo of Acupuncturist Karen Vaughan

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EMR Protection

I have been concerned about electromagnetic radiation for some time, long before the cell towers and cordless phones invaded our lives. I live in an old house with unshielded wiring. I have been using MRET technology and tubular cell phone headsets to shield my family and clients.

Read about it on Karen"s EMR Protection Page.

Focus and Dreamwave Entrainment CDs and MP3s

I love these programs which let you use your dreams consciously, develop your insight and improve your focus, all with tones that entrain you and no words.

Dreamwalk Program CD

Insight Program With Gentle Rain MP3

Insight Program With Ocean Sounds MP3

Focus Program With Rain

MP3Writer's Mind CD

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Grapefruit seeds for urinary tract infections and diabetes

Grapefruit seed found sprouted in the fruit, used with permission

I am not a fan of grapefruit seed extract, because  as a natural antibiotic it is a scam, a drug basically.  But grapefruit seeds themselves do have antimicrobial effects and apparently, like many herbs, can reverse antibiotic resistance.     Continue reading…

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April Herbal Blog Party

Cory at  Aquarian Baths is hosting the Spring Herbs blog posts this month.  Here is her post:
Spring is such a wonderful time of year for the herbalist and gardener. I am pleased to present an amazing collection of Spring Herbs blog posts this month. Make yourself a cup of herbal tea and settle in a while to read what others are doing with herbs this time of year. What are you doing with herbs? We would love to know, so leave us some comments. For more information on ongoing blog parties visit the Herbwifery Forum. Continue reading…
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Springtime in an Urban Garden

Springtime in an urban garden is different than in a suburban or rural garden. For one thing you may not own your land.  Your plants may be growing in raised beds, in pots or in circumstances that would not be considered optimal.  Your coop board or condo association may prevent compost bins.  Your wildcrafting may be in city parks where you need to avoid areas of pesticide use.

For many  years I struggled with feeling that I couldn’t be an authentic herbalist living in the city.  I thought “real herbalists” should be living off of the land Continue reading…

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Self Care Products to Avoid While Pregnant

Photography by ElvisHuang

If you are pregnant, you are probably being careful about the foods you eat.  But how about your deodorant, shampoo, hair gel or face creme?  Your skin absorbs chemicals through your pores, and those which affect your hormones, and those of your baby, known as endocrine disruptors, can be potent at parts per billion or even parts per trillion. Your exposure is higher than that.

You should avoid a number of products or types of products.  First, look at anything with “fragrance” as an ingredient, or at anything that foams, or at anything that might extract the plastic from the bottles.  In 2002, three-quarters of the 72 products tested by the Environmental Working Group contained phthalates, plasticizing chemicals linked to birth defects, obesity, feminizing infant boys, liver and kidney damage,  infertility and premature breast development in both boys and girls.  These include both brand name cosmetics Continue reading…

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Spring Mugwort

Young Spring Mugwort. Picture by Nick Tacket.

When, many years ago, I was walking through Prospect Park with my then toddler Francis, tasting the sprouting plants, he pointed out a lace-leafed plant with a lovely aroma.  We tasted it and agreed that, in judicious quantities, it was delicious and used it in our wild salads and omelets  along with chickweed, oxalis and wild onion.  But once it got over five inches the bitter taste was overpowering. This was our introduction to mugwort.
Continue reading…

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Herbs to Avoid for Passover

Traditional arrangement of symbolic foods on a...

Image via Wikipedia

Non Jewish readers may be unaware that Jews clean out fermented grains called chametz from their houses before Passover so that only unleavened bread remains (like matzoh used for the Seder.)  Leavened or potentially leavened grains are given to charity or bundled up and sold to a non- Jew, usually  for a token sum which is used to repurchase the food after the holiday (provided the purchaser is trustworthy – since the food is in fact transferred.)  The definitions of grain vary with different rabbinical authorities  and may even include beans and seeds.  As you can imagine this is also an issue to an herbalist who keeps an inventory of herbs!

As a public service to my Jewish readers who are freeing their houses of chametz.  This list is restrictive- even including herbs processed in barley wine where none remains- since I have a number of Hasidic clients.  Of course there may be others I have missed- if so, please comment so I can update my information.  Consult with your rabbi about medicinally necessary herbs on the list.

But you still get your horseradish!

A few additional points from Z’ev Rosenberg.  1) Sepharadic Jews have no restrictions on kitniot for Passover, such as rice and beans, so these are fine for them in herbal products 2) Since Chinese herb formulas are medicine, and according to rabbis ‘anything a dog won’t eat’ as per chametz mixtures are fine. If necessary for health, any herb formula can be used. The restriction by certain Hasidim are chumrots/stringencies that not all Jews follow.

Continue reading…

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Why A Parasite Cleanse Can Make You Worse

Black Walnut Hulls

Spring is the time when people often indulge in a seasonal fast.  And since Americans are prone to heroic fasting, many will decide that they should indulge in a parasite cleanse.  Black walnut hulls, wormwood and cloves are traditional, often with a cayenne/fiber supplement.  And the Hulda Clark devotees may use an electric “zapper” to kill parasites.  There are a number of Chinese medicine antiparasite remedies.   But if you have allergies, autoimmune disease or simply a weak immune system, a parasite cleanse can make you worse.
Continue reading…

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Grow Your Own Drugs

photo by Meggar
Oregon Grape-  Image via Wikipedia

It is almost Spring, depending on where you are in the country.  Time to start the annuals and to awaken the garden.  Even if your garden is primarily ornamental, you can include medicinal herbs, many of which are lovely.  And don’t forget to eat the weeds, once you know what they are and what is safe!          Continue reading…

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What is More Dangerous, Herbs or CT Scans?


Do you think  politicians or even the FDA could answer this question, posed by my friend Alan Tillotson?

Fact A :  Herbs, vitamins and nutritional supplements caused zero deaths in 2008 [in most years actually]

Fact B:  CT scans cause 30,000 new cancers and 14,500 deaths each year, with children being most at risk

Which of these answers is the correct political action to take?

A. We should crack down on the supplement industry

B. We should crack down on the CT scan industry

Continue reading…

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How to Make Burn Cream

Zi gen Lithospermum

Burn cream, known as purple cloud ointment or shiunko in Japanese medicine is traditionally used under direct moxa where small “rice grain” cones are adhered to the body with the purple cream.  But it is also used for burns, skin rashes, psoriasis and eczema.
The major herb used in the burn cream is lithospermum, also known as gromwell or puccoon, or in pinyin Chinese as  Zi cao gen (purple herb root). Lithospermum is in the category of herbs that cool fire toxins, Continue reading…

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February/March Herbal Blog Party: Emerging From Winter With Herbs

Kitty in Spring Snow by Peter Pateau

The herbal blog party for this month deals with herbs that help us emerge from Winter, making the transition into Spring.  For me the promise awakens when the angle of bright sunlight changes to hit my back window, where buildings have blocked it all winter.  The raised beds in the back may soon lose their snow so that the Jerusalem artichokes, anise hyssop and calamus can poke through.  Meanwhile my sister in Seattle is surrounded by a riot of hyacinths and Rosie in Houston frets that she won’t have time to harvest the cleavers before the hot temperatures wipe them out. Continue reading…

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Stinging Nettles: Urtica dioica

“If they would drink nettles in March
and eat mugwort in May
fewer young ladies
would go to the grave”
– in John Murrell, A Garden of Herbs, 1621

Nettles are the quintessential herb for getting over winter in my book.  They push their way up in early spring, despite a dusting of snow.  The small ones are bright and vital and don’t have quite the sting to them. But their roots mine the soil for minerals, often Continue reading…

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Limit Carbohydrates Rather Than Fats To Prevent Heart Disease

A new study by  Siri-Tarino of the Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute in California,concluded in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that we are missing lower cardiovascular disease targets when we urge the obese to lower dietary fats.  The emphasis on reducing dietary saturated fat isn’t preventing cardiovascular disease (CVD) in the obesity epidemic and associated metabolic disturbances, the authors concluded.
Continue reading…

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So You Think Surgery is a Good Way To Lose Weight?

Like many people dealing with weight problems I have looked into surgery as a way of losing weight. It seems so inviting to have a quick fix and I saw medical studies indicating that bariatric (weight loss) surgery was the only way to permanently lose weight. And yet all of my patients who had surgery, from a Roux en Y gastric bypass to Lap Bands have had complications. And all but one, whose Lap Band is too new to tell, are still obese.

Continue reading…

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Meta-Study Finds Acupuncture Eases Menstrual Pain

A Korean meta-study reviewing data from 27 studies found that acupuncture was effective in relieving menstrual pain. Over 3000 women were studied in total, with treatments ranging from Traditional Chinese Medicine to herbal injections into acupuncture points.  The analysis  from Kyung Hee Medical Center found that patients with severe period pain reported a greater reduction in their symptoms when using acupuncture than when using pharmacological treatments.

Acupuncture could help period pain, researchers say

Stomach ache

Period pain is a common complaint

Acupuncture may be an effective way of easing severe period pain, a South Korean review of 27 studies suggests.

Researchers said there was “promising evidence” for acupuncture in treating cramps, but that more work was needed.

More at:


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Niacin Outperforms Drug At Cholesterol Lowering

In a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, a time release version of an inexpensive Vitamin B (Niacin- not niacinamide) was compared to a common cholesterol drug, ezetimibe (trade name Zetia), made by Merck.  The vitamin gave superior results.

Continue reading…

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Home Remedy to Use Instead of Nyquil

This amusing video shows a homemade substitute for Nyquil, which contains a number of  ingredients you might not want to put into your body.  His uses Southern Comfort as the alcohol, but if you click through to Vimeo there are a number of comments with other home remedies.  I prefer to use either Thieves’ Vinegar or honey, fresh garlic and ginger syrup.  Or a drop or two of essential oil of rosemary over the glands and at the nape of the neck.

KniQuil from Hot Knivez on Vimeo.

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What Does Research Say About Eating Meat?

Meat and Vegetables

We are badly in need of a study that compares good vegetarian to good meat-containing diets using quality foods, with high vegetable content and good quality fats in both diets. Too often vegetarians are compared to a standard American population, health-conscious vegans are compared to non-health conscious omnivores and studies on omnivores with low meat diets are extrapolated to suggest that a diet with no animal food altogether may be superior. The study should isolate the effects of gluten from other starchy foods and meats from fish. Continue reading…

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High BMI Kids Not Necessarily Fat

A recent large study of children with high body mass indexes (BMI) found that many children of normal body mass had high fat percentages while 25% of children with high BMI were not obese by fat percentage criteria.

BMI (weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared) does not distinguish between the weight of muscle, fat or bone and has a statistical artifact that tends to classify tall children as overweight. Continue reading…

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Cordyceps Investigated for Cancer Drug

Cordyceps ophioglossoides

Cordyceps sinensis has been part of my anti-cancer formulas for many years, since Thai doctor Santi Rosswong suggested that I add it to my reishi formulas for stamina.  It appears from recent research that the herb stops cell proliferation as well.

Cordyceps is a strange herb, a fungus that colonizes then kills an insect, as shown in a BBC  video (with one of the other 680 described cordyceps species found on 6 continents.)  When the Cordyceps sinensis fungus attacks a Continue reading…

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