Recent Posts for the 'Reviews' Category

Mental Health: Book Review of A Mind of Your Own, Part One

Monday, May 22nd, 2017

I had planned on reviewing a new book entitled A Mind of Your Own by Kelly Brogan, MD. However, there is so much important information in the book that I will review only  Part 1 and do another posting of Part 2 in a few days, after I finish reading it.

I am reviewing this book for several reasons:

  1. May is Mental Health Month
  2. The book focuses on women and mental health
  3. My family has a history of depression and suicide
  4. The stigma of mental health illnesses needs to be eliminated

What I like most about this book is that the author, who studied to be a psychiatric doctor, has “crossed over” from mainstream (allopathic) medicine to holistic medicine, because she found the solution to her own depression through what she calls “lifestyle medicine” and is now helping other women do the same. She writes: “I see myself as an ambassador to a new way of experiencing health and well-being (p. 7).”

Having crossed over, she is almost vehement in her stance of opening up a conversation that radically challenges the mainstream theories and assumptions on depression. Basically, the Introduction illuminates the relationship between the health of your gut and mental health in the context of inflammation. This link between the gut and the brain is not so far-fetched as you may think. Many years ago, I read a book by Deepak Chopra, MD, an Ayurvedic doctor whose name is linked with holistic mental, physical and spiritual health. He stated that the body has a mind of its own.

As Brogan notes at the end of the Introduction, she has divided her book into two sections. Part 1 is called “The Truth About Depression,” which includes an overview of the latest research and how we can alter our “genetic destiny” and Part 2 is the actual program guide called “Natural Treatment for Whole-Body Wellness.”

In Chapter One (Decoding Depression) in Part 1 of the book, Dr. Kelly includes a statistic that I found hard to believe: “The fact that one in four women in the prime of their life is dispensed medicine for a mental health condition represents a national crisis.” (She has her first footnote for that statement. Her Bibliography/ Notes cover pages 296-326, so she has done her homework!)

On page 13 Brogan asks us to embrace the following new ideas: (Direct quote)

  • Prevention is possible.
  • Medication treatment comes at a steep cost.
  • Optimal health is not possible through medication.
  • Your health is under your control.
  • Working with lifestyle medicine—simple everyday habits that don’t entail drugs—is a safe and effective way to send the body a signal of safety.

Referring to her patients that she has guided through the medical maze to a holistic path of (mental) health, Dr. Brogan’s enthusiasm and passion for her work are contagious. Part One demonstrates this clearly. Chapter 1 is called Decoding Depression, Chapter 2 discusses the Serotonin Myth, while Chapter 3 explains The New Biology of Depression. Chapters 4 and 5 cover Psychiatric Pretenders and products that need new warning labels.

All the chapters are packed with notations to studies that demonstrate to me a need to re-evaluate everything we have been told about anti-depressants, over-the-counter meds like Tylenol, immunizations, fluoride, and all the information we have been fed by Big Pharm that has created a psychiatric tsunami of misinformation and drug side-effects, especially anxiety and depression in women.


Part 2 is called Natural Treatments for Whole Body Wellness, which I will review when I finish reading this section. But I looked ahead and saw that Dr. Brogan includes some recipes, so I am posting one today as a tease to stay tuned for Part 2.

The KB Smoothie

1/2 cup frozen organic cherries or other berries (I would use only organic berries. es)
8 ounces coconut water or filtered water
3 Tbl. collagen hydrolysate (As a protein base: see below*)
1 Tbl. sprouted nut butter or sunflower seed butter
3 large pasteurized egg yolks
1 Tbl. virgin coconut oil
1 to 2 Tbl. grass-fed ghee+
1 to 2 Tbl. raw cocoa powder
Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. One serving.
* collagen hydrolysate is a protein food supplement high in the amino acids glycine, proline, and lycine. It comes as a dry powder.
+ Ghee is clarified butter used in Indian cooking, such as the Kitchari recipe I have posted several times. Here’s a link to one of the postings:

Actor and Activist Mayim Bialik Speaks up for Mental Health.

Mayim Bialik

The article is entitled “Big Brain Theory” By Gina Shaw about Mayim Bialik, who stars on the very popular TV show, The Big Bang Theory. Mayim is a proponent of removing the stigma of mental health. In real life and in her TV character Amy, she is a neuroscientist, earning her PhD in neuroscience from the University of California-Los Angeles in 2008.

In 2016, Bialik did a series of public service announcement in support of its #StigmaFree campaign. She partnered with NAMI, which stands for National Alliance on Mental Illness. Mental health is a personal issue for her since her family’s history includes depression, panic disorder, and OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder). In her book, Girling Up, Mayim devotes a whole chapter to “major stressors, unusual events, what symptoms spell depression versus those that spell grief.”

I applaud this young mother, actor, and activist for speaking up and speaking out about mental illness, which many people still stigmatize. With my own family history of depression, I feel that Bialik has done a wonderful service for this misunderstood health issue. At the end of the article are three steps you can take to resist the mental health stigma:

  1. Educate yourself and others
  2. Strive to see the person first, not the condition
  3. Speak out and get involved.

National Library Week: Two Book Reviews, Part 2

Friday, April 14th, 2017



Dropping Acid: THE REFLUX DIET COOKBOOK & CURE by Jamie Kaufman, M.D. and Jordan Stern, M.D. and French Master Chef Marc Bauer is an eye-opening discussion of a condition similar to GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) called LPR or Reflux Laryngitis. In medical terms it is called laryngopharyngeal reflux.

Personal Experience: One of the ENT’s (Ear, Nose & Throat Dr.) I visited recommended Dropping Acid to me when I had severe laryngitis last summer; in fact, I was diagnosed with paresis (partial- paralysis) of my vocal chords, possibly from a virus (two medical opinions, my D.O. and first ENT dr.). Paresis can be caused by a virus, and also be the result of the aging of the larynx, leading to either bowing or atrophy or a reflux of the vocal chords. I stayed on the food program for about six months, but felt that some of what the second ENT had diagnosed did not apply to me, since the greater part of the foods to avoid are those that are highly processed, especially those that have acidic components added to them to guarantee they will not spoil quickly. Here is what the book says:

Prepared foods have been increasingly acidified to prevent bacterial growth and add shelf life. Today, many prepared foods and beverages are just as  acidic as stomach acid itself” (p. 22.)

Because the amount of acidic prepared foods has become more popular as fast foods and prepackaged foods have proliferated, younger people are now experiencing LPR, and according to the book, LPR is approaching epidemic proportions. The common symptoms include: hoarseness, chronic cough, choking episodes, trouble swallowing, a lump in the throat, chronic throat clearing, postnasal drip, too much throat mucous, heartburn, and asthma. Since most people with LPR do not have heartburn, LPR is called the “silent reflux.” However, the list of all the symptoms on page 33 tell me that many people are suffering from LPR, but have been misdiagnosed because the symptoms are associated with another diagnosis.

The information indicts highly processed foods and foods that are inherently too acidic, and recommend foods whose pH values are at least above pH4 and preferably closer to pH6 levels. (pH discussed at length) And during the induction phase of the diet (first 2 weeks), the recommendation is that you eat nothing below pH 5. A few examples of high alkaline foods are: avocados, bananas, carrots, red beets, ginger, green beans. A few of foods to avoid reflux are: barbeque sauce, coco-cola, cranberry juice, gatorade, cranberry juice.

I have explored the acid/alkaline balance diet in postings here on Menupause, not realizing that a diet too acidic could cause LPR, so I am grateful for the doctor who recommended the book, because I have paid more attention to making my diet even more alkaline than I thought it was. (Link to my posting on this topic in Nobody Eats Like Me: Pictures of cookbook covers seems to bemusing, but theinfo is there.)

There are charts, statistics, and recommendations in the book that are not too difficult to follow. The food lists that provide acid and alkaline levels are helpful. But when I searched for a more complete list, I found that the numbers on each chart did not always match, so you need to be a bit of a sleuth and compare some of the charts to see which ones seem to match up. Best of all, there are 75 recipes to demonstrate that you can eat well on a low acidic diet. I made the one below two or three times and thought it was delicious!

Because this is a silent condition, you may want to check with an ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctor if you have symptoms that aren’t being addressed with medicines or protocols already prescribed. A functional medicine doctor might be able to tell if you have LPR, but an ENT has the equipment to view your vocal chords and see if they are swollen or otherwise not working properly. I went to two ENTs, because this can be a very serious condition and wanted a second opinion.

Dropping Acid is published by The Reflux Cookbooks, LLC, a division of  Katalitix Media and costs $29.95.  There is also another book that just has recipes to keep  your diet more alkaline than acidic. It is called: Dr. Koufman’s Acid Reflux Diet: With 111 All New Recipes Including Vegan & Gluten-Free: The Never-need-to-diet-again Diet.


Here is the recipe I chose and made several times, sometimes substituting green beans when asparagus was not in season. I also used fresh mushrooms, not dry. I  omitted Parmesan since I do not like it. Now asparagus is fresh and plentiful, so try it soon! Buy organic when possible.

The photo below is from the book. All the recipes have great pictures of the finished recipes. This one is Marc’s Kick-Ass Risotto with Asparagus and Morels:


1 cup arborio rice
1 bunch asparagus (about 1 pound)
(peel the skin 3 inches below the head, cut to 1 inch lengths)
3 Tbs. dried morel or porcini mushrooms (soak for one hour in water or veg. stock)
2 cups vegetable stock (or 1 veg. bouillon cube dissolved in 2 c. water)
2 bay leaves
4 sprigs thyme
2 Tbsp. Parmesan Cheese
salt to taste


1. Remove the reconstituted mushrooms from the water. Reserve the liquid.
2. Bring the vegetable stock (or veg. bouillon cube and water), thyme, bay leaf, reserved mushroom liquid to a boil. Cook for 5 minutes and remove bay leaf and thyme.
3. Cook the asparagus in the stock for a few minutes until al dente. Remove and cook immediately to preserve the green color. Reserve the stock.
4. Place a saucepan over medium heat. Add the rice and 1/2 cup of the stock. BRing to a simmer while continuing to stir.
5. Once the rice has absorbed nearly all the liquid, add another 1/2 cup of the stock and continue to stir until the rice is creamy and al dente, about 20 minutes. Add more stock if the rice is too al dente or dry.
6. Add the asparagus, reconstituted mushrooms, and Parmesan cheese, and salt to taste. Serve immediately in a soup bowl. 

Notes: Adding 2 tsp. of Roquefort cheese to the risotto adds a twist to this classical dish. The skin of the asparagus (about 3 to 4 inches below the head) tend tobe fibrous. By peeling it, you’ll get a nice al dente crunch. If dicing, cut on a bias.