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I’m often asked by friends, family, and colleagues what is the first and most important recommendation I have to those who wish to improve their overall health. The answer comes easy and quick: change their breakfast! The path to health is found by tapping into the body’s innate abilities to clean and heal and, unfortunately, most of what we do on a daily basis works against those important functions. My suggestion is to start the day right and build from there!

Considerable information circulates today claiming breakfast to be the most important meal of the day. I could not agree more, but for very different reasons than what is usually reported. Be aware the loudest messages are promoted by industries which will benefit financially from your choice of breakfast so proceed with caution! I’m going to present to you a perspective you will never see promoted by the American dairy board or egg board who, by the way, fund an incredible amount of research to back their claims. My breakfast viewpoint on the other hand comes from a place of reality instead of hype.

I’ll bet you didn’t know that while you sleep away the night, many of your organs are hosting clean up parties! If you have trouble sleeping through certain hours of the night this may be of particular interest as you can discover what organ is having to clean to the degree it is waking you during those specific hours.

sleep clock
You can see in the Traditional Chinese Medicine clock above that your body is actually hard at work during the night cleaning and restoring the gall bladder, liver, lung, large intestine, and finally stomach. The waste product from this clean-athon should exit the body first thing each morning. When this cleaning does not occur in an efficient and effective manner we may experience a foggy head, stiffness, achiness, and a sour disposition.


How do we work with the body to clear the waste from the previous night’s cleaning in order to be alert, sharp, and even cheerful? The goal is to eat a cleansing meal that alkalizes the highly acidic state your body wakes up in and encourage the lymphatic system to clean and promote efficient and effective elimination.

What’s the perfect cleansing meal to break the fast from sleep? 
Nature’s perfect alkalizing product is fruit.

Are there better fruits to choose?
Actually, yes, there are some fruits that are more effective. The fruits that are the most cleansing are: apples, berries, citrus, grapes, mangoes, and melons. You don’t need them all or even a blend every day. Pick one that you enjoy, eat a nice bowlful, and switch out when you are ready for something different.


Wait! What about all that sugar first thing in the morning?
If it’s the sweet taste you struggle with and you prefer something more savory first thing in the morning, I suggest cucumbers, celery, greens, or sweet peppers. They are all good choices for breaking your fast. However, if it’s really the sugar that scares you, here is some great research to dispel those myths.

If you currently struggle with glycemic symptoms, you need to know that spikes or drops in blood sugar is not a primary symptom caused by the food you are eating at the moment. Rather, it is secondary symptom caused by the food you ate over a lifetime that resulted in a fatty liver. Check out this series of videos from Michael Greger that goes into this subject in great detail. (I’ll be sharing more on that subject and how I work with clients who experience this symptom in a future post.)

How can fruit be the most nutritious breakfast? 
If we are comparing nutrients and calories, fruit is not going to compare to traditional western breakfast. But that’s not the goal here. The goal of eating a fruit meal in the morning is to:

  1. Break our fast from the night before.
  2. Stimulate the lymphatic system to eliminate the waste product produced.
  3. Start the day fresh, alert, and ready for what lies ahead.

How will a fruit meal sustain me?
If you are used to a cooked breakfast, or even muesli or toast, the fruit breakfast will feel different but for very good reasons. The meal you were eating before can take up to 2-3 hours to digest depending on the ingredients and it has been sitting on top of what was cleaned the night before giving a sensation of fullness. Fruit in contrast will feel light and refreshing because it digests and provides the body with energy in as fast as 15-20 minutes!

Important to note: When you are just getting started- you will feel hungry. The first solution is to eat what you would have normally eaten for breakfast later in the morning, or at least not sooner than 30-45 minutes after consuming the fruit. Keep in mind that over time the goal would be to drop and replace that second “breakfast” with more whole fruit or a fruit and veggie smoothie.


What about coffee?
Besides that fact that it is a ritual and you love it, most adults continue the coffee habit because it helps them out of the morning fog they experience from their body not cleaning in the first place. It also provides a false boost to overworked and exhausted adrenal glands. Additionally, the acid level of coffee often produces a quick bowel movement which many see as healthy elimination, but it’s not.

Here’s what I ask my coffee drinking clients to do, eat their fruit meal on an empty stomach and hold the coffee for a minimum of 30 minutes. Over time, most will admit they no longer need the coffee because of the positive impact of the fruit or they are able to switch to tea. Do you have to give up the coffee completely?  Well, that is another article altogether. For now let’s say No, but limit it to one cup and time it well away from your fruit meal to break your fast.

a woman holding a cup of coffee

So, what’s holding you back? Your body deserves to start the day clean and refreshed and you will reap the benefits all day long. Have some questions? I’d be delighted to answer them here or in an email.

These past eighteen months I’ve had the most fortunate experience of supporting Homeopaths along the east coast integrate Gemmotherapy extracts into the protocols they are now offering their clients. Last year I made several trips to the Boston area to teach day long seminars, each one warmly received and quite rewarding for me as well. At one point, however, I was struck with the idea of offering a deeper and more meaningful venue, one in which we could connect with one another and the passions we each carry to lead others to a healthier more fulfilling life. As months passed, the concept of a retreat began to form, one that  would provide time and space to arrive, be in the midst of nature, share ideas, contemplate new concepts, and discuss further over delicious plant based meals. The idea grew over time until it actually became a reality last weekend.

From Friday evening on March 10th until Sunday lunch on March 12th, ten of us gathered just outside of Leyden, MA and immersed ourselves in the next levels of Gemmotherapy protocols and Plant Based Eating. While I came with hot off the press curriculum, each practitioner also brought his or her own magic to make it an unsurpassed weekend that was truly guided by a Universal Force far greater than us all.


We opened our weekend together with a candlelit circle at sundown on Friday in the cozy meditation room as the icy wind whipped and howled through the surrounding trees. We spent the next hour getting to know one another through a “giving and receiving” offering. Each individual brought a small token for their fellow participants of what they hoped to receive as the days unfolded ahead. This simple act provided a beautiful heart opening connection for all.

While we gathered, our retreat hosts Tim and Steve prepared a glorious meal we would share before the first teaching session. The dinner set a gold standard for what we could expect in the meals to come: pure, plant based deliciousness!


I would be holding out on you if I didn’t pause here to share a bit more about our location as it was absolutely sublime. I have my dear friend and fellow practitioner, Jhuma Biswas, to thank when she sent me the venue referral in my early planning stages. Spirit Fire Retreat Center is situated just on the northwestern border of Massachusetts and Vermont outside of Leyden, MA, on 95 acres of forested and meadowed grounds. The pristine beauty is breathtaking. What better setting to learn about the healing power of trees?

spirit fire

spirit fire

And so the weekend unfolded. We covered a considerable amount of new material, from a new intake process for clients who have reached optimal elimination (Stage Two), protocol formulas for the next stage of Gemmotherapy drainage (Stage Two), more on plant based eating for ourselves and our clients, and an additional intake process specifically designed for infants and small children.

In between, we were nourished ourselves with first class vegan meals from our morning smoothie to roasted veggies with pesto at night. We wandered in the forest, on our own or in groups, breathing the crisp March air, we did some yoga, and even sang to welcome the full moon. It was truly magical only due to the willingness of each participant to show up and open up to the moment in time we were gifted.

group dinner

It wasn’t long into our weekend that the murmurings of an annual event began and, yes, I have to say that I agree! We need more of this in all of our lives and the world needs us to do more pausing and connecting for ourselves as practitioners and for those we serve.

“We are all souls who have met for a purpose on this mysterious journey;
each of us is here for the other and all that is required is to be present.”
Elizabeth Lesser, Marrow

One of the beauties of Gemmotherapy is that it provides support literally for everyone under your roof. It is a therapy for the entire family and the more you learn the more confident you will be in handling acute situations when they arise and know when to ask for further support. Whether you are just hearing the word Gemmotherapy for the first time or you are the proud owner of your own growing collection of extracts, it is important to realize just how all encompassing this therapy can be.

pet cat

Because Gemmotherapy extracts, unlike traditional herbal extracts, have the potential to clean, nourish, and restore organs, they are helpful for humans of all ages as well as our pets! Recently, I presented a webinar on Gemmotherapy For Pets to introduce a set of basic extracts all pet owners can use at home. The webinar is available now for immediate download on the Vital Extract store.  (Please note that the link to the video will be included in your confirmation email.)

herbal extract

Incorporating Gemmotherapy into your pet care will protect your pet(s) from the toxic load of medications and directly address the root of their symptoms. Just like humans, our pets have symptoms that present well before any dis-ease diagnosis and if we can support their bodies with a simple Gemmotherapy protocol, then we can be proactive rather than reactive in their health care.


In my practice, I have used Gemmotherapy for a wide variety of pet symptoms with remarkable results. The kidneys of our pets are usually the first organ to deteriorate with age and there are specific Gemmotherapy extracts that offer tremendous support for the kidneys due to their ability to clean, nourish, and restore organ tissues.

outline cat

Acting early can prolong your pet’s life by years. Puppies and kittens can benefit greatly from Gemmotherapy protocols that resolve and offer protection from parasites. Rescue dogs who have been on the run will settle into a new home easier with support for their adrenals and nervous system. Pets with strong immune systems and healthy gut flora repeal pests and are less susceptible to fleas and ticks. Did you know that pets who have sleep disturbances often suffer from digestive symptoms that can be resolved with Gemmotherapy? Surprisingly, even chickens can benefit from Gemmotherapy! If you have a home flock, there are protocols that can be given for immune support and increase the longevity of your hens.


Beyond watching the webinar, if you are interested in learning more about how you can resolve specific symptoms and support your pets using Gemmotherapy I recommend booking a 30 minute appointment as an intake and then 15 minute remote consultations thereafter. As a resource my recently published Gemmotherapy For Everyone: An Introduction to Acute Care has a wide variety of protocols which can also be applied to pets.

When it comes to caring for your family, it is important to know you have options and, because of it’s unique abilities, Gemmotherapy is certainly one that should be on your radar.

When embracing a natural approach to healthcare one of the most important elements is how to handle acute symptoms. Acute symptoms are those that come on suddenly such as the congestion, sore throat, or body aches associated with a flu or virus. Acute symptoms can also include a frozen shoulder, the lower back going out, or a skin rash. Learn more from this a blog post where I discuss how to distinguish between acute and chronic symptoms.

acute flu

Choosing to resolve these symptoms by supporting the immune system and the organs affected is the very key in avoiding the development of chronic conditions. It is exactly the repetitive suppression of symptoms that takes its toll on our bodies, weakening organ performance, and forcing the body to compensate long term for those weaknesses. The build up of inflammation from symptom suppression that can begin with baby’s first ear infection is exactly why chronic conditions arise as early as adolescence and teen years. Learn even more about that here.

Self Care For Acute Symptoms

Step One is to recognize symptoms early and respond quickly. I encourage the use of Gemmotherapy extracts for acute symptoms because they are simple and effective in supporting the body during the early stages of inflammation.

Guiding yourself is easy with my book, Gemmotherapy For Everyone: Introduction To Acute Care. Families that have this can find quick solutions for over 30 acute symptoms. It is available through Amazon and in my practice.

Step Two is to slow down so that the body’s limited energy supply can be directed toward healing. When we continue at the same pace as always, there is no reserve for healing and symptoms last longer, often even exacerbating.

acute headache

Step Three is to know when further support is needed. For my clients and readers who see a Homeopath, this would be a Homeopathic remedy to support their vital force. The vital force can also be supported with acupuncture.

If any of the following develop after 24-36 hours from the first symptom and having begun an acute Gemmotherapy protocol, it is time to reach out to your practitioner:

  • Decreasing energy; children become lethargic and not interested in play
  • Symptoms disrupting sleep; extreme cough or body aches
  • Appetite does not return; a low appetite is normal but an apathy toward any nourishment is of concern
  • Irritability or a state of despair; children become weepy, clingy, or more prone to meltdowns

Missing this final step is critical for both children and adults. However, because adults are often geared to power through and not take care from the first sign of a symptom, they are more at risk for a secondary infection. While this too can be cared for with Homeopathy and Gemmotherapy, the recovery time is slower and more attention will be required.

Knowing what to do and when to do it before acute symptoms appear will put you in a proactive state, rather than a reactive one, and give you the space to respond with confidence.

Here is a great article itemizing what to keep on hand to best be prepared to care for acute symptoms.

Always remember: Pay attention to your symptoms, respond to them early, and ask for help when needed!

In the process of restoring optimal elimination and resolving chronic symptoms I often see that clients tend to develop acute inflammation in areas traditionally held tight, particularly the hips. Diet and a daily Gemmotherapy protocol certainly help move this inflammation along, but there is more that can be done. In a perfect world I would recommend all my clients have acupuncture and massage, however, I know that doesn’t necessarily fit in everyone’s schedule and/or budget. So what’s an alternative? This is where I suggest a foam roller and creating a short routine to do 1-2 times daily that will assist your body’s moving of that inflammation along.

foam roller

Foam rolling became popular a few years back among runners and athletes looking for a way to work with the tightness experienced from over exercise. While that is one use case, foam rollers are even more important for those who spend hours at a desk or who lead a more sedentary lifestyle. This video takes you through a series of exercises for each major body area that could benefit from foam rolling and gives you a good overview of the method needed. I suggest watching it, deciding what areas you specifically need to address, and creating a program for yourself.

Thanks to a recommendation from my daughter, I happen to own this one from Trigger Point of Austin and love it. It is a great size, light weight yet durable, and is compact enough you can take along when traveling. The only other piece of equipment that might be useful is a yoga mat but it certainly is not required. So, how about it? Foam rolling may just be what you need to integrate into your daily self care.

MarianneSo this story is certainly a personal one but I am so proud I really can’t keep from sharing!

At 82, and soon to be 83, my mother-in-law, Marianne, continues to make changes to improve her health. This is a woman who exercises daily and has been vegetarian for over 30 years. Three and a half years ago, our own household’s new dairy free lifestyle certainly got her attention and together we discussed the hows and whys over the course of each international visit. While not ever a milk drinker, she was known to enjoy a daily serving of fresh yogurt, a wedge or two of good cheese, and certainly wouldn’t pass up whipped cream on a slice of kuchen when out with her girlfriends. But this past November, having spent a month at our house dairy free and seeing a notable difference in her rosacea, she made a commitment to herself to maintain this when she returned to Germany. Now, a month and a half later, she is going strong AND even made it through all of the holiday season going against the flow in her social circle, which is no small task in her generation.

So, what’s the takeaway from this story? Well, I hope it is that you are never too old to make changes for good and that you can always be one step further in your pursuit of health. Here is Marianne, nearly 83 years old, saying: You know what? I do feel great AND I’d like that to continue that for the rest of my days! Here’s to you Marianne, keep going strong. You are one amazing role model for us all!

Much more important than how you plan to begin this New Year of 2017 is how you plan to begin each and every day.

Broad sweeping commitments for the year can be easily crushed by the end of the month while a daily intention is not only more manageable, but also more meaningful.

I’d like to share with you a valuable and quite simple intention you can start tomorrow that will not only change your life, but the lives of all those you touch. Pretty powerful stuff right? Sounds like just the recipe we need for 2017 so let’s get started!


I suggest you make the first words you think (or better yet say out loud) to yourself upon waking each morning an affirmation. Upon first consciousness, place your hand on your heart and say, “I am loved and I am love.” Modify the words as you like but the intention must remain. This simple and effortless task is so meaningful because of the power it produces within. Before long you will see that you are in control of your own emotions and thoughts and feelings.

You are loved. Love is powerful and unleashes incredible potential. When you feel powerful you empower those around you. All the talk about being love can only occur when each of us takes on the responsibility of self-love beginning each and every morning. It’s a ripple effect so make your ripple tomorrow and watch the love grow and spread.


Want to learn more about affirmations? There’s no better teacher than Louise Hay. She created a movement in the 80’s that we need to revive. Here’s a short blog post to get you started but you’re going to want her book You can Heal Your Life, it’s an oldie but such a goodie! Remember, tomorrow morning, I am counting on you. We’ve got a lot of good work to do


“We have to practice the art of stopping. When we learn to stop we become calmer, and our mind becomes clearer, like clear water after the particles of mud have settled.”
~ Thich Nhat Hahn

Please join us in pausing to reflect and prepare for the New Year.

Lauren’s office and Vital Extract sales will both close at the end of the day on Friday, December 23 and reopen at 9am on Monday, January 2.

Acute needs will be met through the online submission form only and all emails, message, and orders received will be addressed when we return.

Wishing you and yours a healthy start to 2017,
Lauren, Aaron, and Shannon

I think we all can agree that the need for community is necessary now more than ever. That’s why I am letting you know that local ATX non-profit group Mamas of Color Rising needs our help. Mamas of Color Rising is an all-volunteer community group that works to support and build collective power of mothers of color, especially those who are struggling.

Currently they are collecting:
  • diapers
  • toys
  • clothing and shoes
  • body products and personal hygiene items
  • food pantry items
  • pro-bono services (body work, massage, and other health services) to offer to low-income mamas

Items can be brought to our office this week (12/12- 12/16) and/or you may communicate directly with our contact:

Christy Tashjian, CPM, LM, APRN, WHNP

The votes are in and we are excited to announce that Traci R., with her recommendation of this recipe, is the winner of our Seasonal Side Dish contest!

Mouth Watering Crispy Brussels Sprouts


2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed, halved, outer leaves removed (6 cups prepped)
2 Tablespoons coconut oil, melted or olive oil, plus more for serving
1 teaspoon dry Harissa spice blend
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 400F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. With a paring knife, trim off the ends of the sprouts, then slice in half lengthwise, and pick off any loose outer leaves. Place the prepped sprouts into a large bowl. Add the oil onto the sprouts in the bowl and stir or toss with hands until thoroughly coated. Add the Harissa and salt, and stir until combined.Spread the Brussels sprouts onto the prepared baking sheet in a uniform layer. Garnish with freshly ground black pepper.Roast the sprouts for 20 minutes, then flip with spatula, and continue roasting for another 5-15 minutes until browned to your liking. I tend to “overcook” these because I like them crispy and charred (I usually brown mine more than the photos show). Smaller sprouts will brown faster than larger ones. Drizzle with a teaspoon or so of melted coconut oil and quickly toss to coat. This infuses with flavor and moistens them a bit after roasting. Sometimes I also sprinkle on toasted sesame seeds if I have some on hand. Taste and add another tiny pinch of salt, if desired, and serve immediately – the hotter the better. (Recipe from Oh She Glows.)

BookOrderSidebar2ACongratulations Traci! We sincerely hope you enjoy your copy of Gemmotherapy for Everyone: An Introduction To Acute Care!