Grow Your Own Lion’s Mane Mushrooms, Grow New Neurons!

Mushrooms are getting lots of attention lately, and for good reason. There are so many medicinal and immune-boosting benefits to different mushrooms, and they’re easy to grow and to cook with!

In this short video, Dr. Michael Mason-Wood shares a simple way to grow a healthy harvest of Lion’s Mane mushroom (Hericium erinaceus) quickly and easily. A recent study sowed that Lion’s Mane extract increases signals in the brain that generate new neurons. It is because of this neuro-regenerative effect that Lion’s Mane is known for its helpfulness with memory, anxiety, cognitive function, and depression. It has also been shown to have anti-cancer, immuno-modulating, hypolipidemic, antioxidant and anti-diabetic properties.

What’s not to love? Mushrooms are best in hot-water extracts like soups and stews, because the active ingredients (most polysaccharides) are water-soluble. Try growing your own Lion’s Mane and make a beautiful fall soup for your brain!

Below is a nourishing mushroom soup recipe from whole foods chef and herbalist, Andrea Beaman. Substitute Lion’s Mane for either of the shiitake or maitake mushrooms. Mix and match to your taste and their availability.

Medicinal Mushrooms and Deep Roots Soup

If you’re not already eating edible medicinal mushrooms, this recipe for Medicinal Mushrooms and Deep Roots Soup would be a good idea to start. Especially, if your immune system is down or you’re struggling with blood sugar imbalances, high blood pressure, and/or cancer

  1. Pick out the mushrooms and add additional water to get 4 cups total liquid. Put the liquid into a soup pot and turn the heat high.
  2. Chop the shitake and maitake mushrooms and add to the pot, with alaria and burdock root, and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to simmer for 5-7 minutes.
  3. Add daikon root, ginger and tofu, and cook 2-3 minutes. Add enoki mushrooms and bok choy.
  4. Put miso paste into a bowl and add hot liquid from the soup to liquefy the miso. Add the miso to the soup and shut off the heat.
  5. Let sit 2-3 minutes. Garnish with minced scallions.

Photo from

Recipe from


The Power of Diet Analysis

One of the services offered at Natural Terrain Naturopathic Clinic is the Diet Analysis. Using a diet journal of everything you eat and drink for a week, we can break down your diet intake of what you’re getting down to the exact amount of every macromolecule, vitamin, mineral and trace element.

Do you want to know if you’re getting enough vitamins, and specifically which ones you might need to supplement? Which amino acids are you lacking? Are you sure you’re getting enough iron, fibre, protein, calcium?  Or, are you taking handfuls of daily vitamins hoping that covers your bases without really knowing what you need?

We individualize it to your sex, age, requirements, and dietary restrictions to make sure you’re getting the best recommendations for you.

A diet analysis shows us the “behind the scenes” snapshot of how you are fuelling your body. This allows us to make assessments of which vitamins and supplements will benefit you the most, but even more importantly, it helps us guide your diet changes that will make the most impact. 


Let’s take a look at the foods you’re eating, and make small changes that can lead to big health benefits in the long run. For example, below is a breakfast of scrambled egg wrap (eggs cooked in coconut oil) with cheese and salsa, a cup of milk, complete with comments and suggestions. Get the inside scoop on the foods you are already eating, and how to make them better!

Ingredient Concern Solution
White flour wrap/tortilla Refined carbohydrates (items made with sugar and white flour) interfere with optimal blood sugar control. These also contribute to your health concerns (depression, migraines) via gluten and gliadorphin sensitivity that can manifest as mood, energy, and inflammation issues. Use whole grain wraps with organic grains or corn, low refined carbohydrate content and, importantly, no added sugar. You may be surprised how many things have sugar added! Try brands like La Tortilla Factory Ivory Teff Gluten Free Wraps, or make your own with this recipe.
Scrambled eggs Unless organic, eggs contain hormones, so go for the most organic eggs you can get. The worst way to eat eggs is scrambled because the yolks oxidize when they are broken. Eggs are also high on many food intolerance tests so you my want to try an elimination diet with eggs.  As mentioned, scrambled is not the best option, so try to have boiled or poached eggs. Eggs are high in protein and a good source of vitamins and cholesterol so they are good to include in your diet!
Coconut oil Generally good to include. *Be very aware of the smoke point of your oils! This is the temperature above which an oil will smoke and create harmful free radicals. Refined coconut oil has a smoke point of 450F, whereas unrefined, dry expeller pressed, virgin coconut oil has a smoke point of 350F. Continue to use, but do not use if temperature will go above the smoke point.If frying eggs, cook in oil/fat with a high smoke point, such as avocado oil, or ghee (clarified butter) which smoke at 485F.
Cheese Is your cheese orange? If so, it contains chemicals as the orange colour in cheese is usually dye. Is your cheese organic? If not, it contains hormones. There are also possible food intolerances to proteins in dairy, again consider doing an elimination diet with all dairy products. Organic white cheese only. The more aged a cheese is, generally the less lactose there is. Try an organic sheep’s milk cheese to see if this is more tolerable than cow’s milk cheese.
Salsa Tomatoes are considered an inflammatory food for some people with intolerances (part of the night shade family). They are also on the EWG’s “dirty dozen” list of the 12 produce items most heavily sprayed with pesticides and chemicals. Salsa often contains sugar and non-organic corn. Check what you are eating by reading the label! Avoid tomatoes as they are an inflammatory food and dirty dozen list. If you really love them, eat them sparingly, but make sure they are organic and they they are well cooked as this helps to release helpful lycopene. Buy organic and avoid brands with added sugar and cheese.
Milk Unless organic, milk contains hormones that can act as endocrine disruptors and affect reproductive organs, fertility and other body processes. Milk is also an inflammatory food and can thicken the mucous secretions in your respiratory tract,  making you more susceptible to bouts of sinus infections, bronchitis and pneumonia. Use Alternative milk, almond, organic soy, coconut, rice, and tapioca milk are all decent suggestions. Milk is not required by human bodies and we even lose the ability to digest it properly as we get older. You can get your calcium in other ways!

Analyze your diet with us and get the inside scoop on what your body is getting, and what it’s lacking. Dr. Chris also has a diet and recipe book called The Essential Diet: Eating for Mental Health that gives a complete 2-week meal plan, recipes and even shopping lists to make it even easier to start to eat clean, strong and healthy. Let’s make some positive changes to get you feeling better!

Not All Iron Is Created Equal

A typical prescription when you are low in iron is to take an iron supplement. With so many supplements out there, it may be hard to choose, and so you might just go with the most popular product, Feramax. By the name, it sounds like it might just do the trick.

The company that owns Feramax boasts that it is the #1 recommended over-the-counter iron supplement in Canada, because of its high dose of iron and a supposed lowered toxicity profile. But when I looked at the ingredients in the actual supplement, I balked. I couldn’t believe that medical doctors and pharmacists recommended this product over others just because of its high doses, and overlooked the many harmful non-medicinal ingredients in it.

Let’s take a look at why iron isn’t the only thing to look at in iron supplements:

Each Feramax tablet contains:

Iron 40 mg. Other Ingredients: Calcium Carbonate, Cellulose Acetate, FD & C Red #40, FD & C Yellow #6, FD & C Blue No.2, Hypromellose, Magnesium Stearate, Maltodextrin, Microcrystalline Cellulose, Polydextrose, Polyethylene Glycol, Sodium Starch Glycolate, Titanium Dioxide, Triacetin.

There are 14 non-medicinal ingredients, 7 of which are proven to be directly harmful, 2 of which are potentially harmful, and 4 of which are inert at low doses, or potentially harmful if you are sensitive to it. Let’s take a closer look.

Calcium carbonate

This is a form of calcium found in some supplements and also in antacid tablets like Tums. While not directly harmful, even small amounts of this substance taken when not needed can impact stomach acid levels and affect digestion and absorption of food. For a deeper dive into why you should avoid antacid medication, read this article on The Burning Truth About Antacids.  Also, calcium carbonate is not the most absorbable form of calcium and it is better to assess your need for calcium supplementation with your ND based on your dietary consumption.

Cellulose acetate

This compound is part of the tablet coating. Cellulose acetate is also used in eyeglasses, cigarette filters, and playing cards.  The American Polymer Standards Corporation straight-up says it may be harmful if ingested.1 Why is it in medicine?

Artificial colours: FD & C Red #40, Yellow #6, Blue #2

These 3 artificial colours are perhaps the biggest culprits. Countless reports and studies have come out over recent years showing the harmful effects of food dyes. Specifically, artificial colours have been implicated as exacerbating attention deficit and hyperactivity disorders in children,2 allergies, learning impairment, and even cancer.3


Basically, this is natural fibre that has been modified (ie is semi-synthetic), and is usually used as artificial tears in products like Visine®. But after feeding it to rats and not observing any big changes, the FDA approved it as a direct and indirect food additive4.

Magnesium Stearate

Like hypromellose, the purpose of magnesium stearate in medications is lubrication for manufacturing and also for moving along the digestive tract. It is mostly inert, and for this reason is found in many supplements and medications, although at high doses it has been linked with suppressed immunity, poor intestinal absorption, and contamination5.


This ingredient is a starch usually made from corn. Despite being “generally recognized as safe” and therefore approved as a food additive, it turns into sugar in the body and can raise the blood sugar and contribute to weight gain, insulin insensitivity, and diabetes6. Keep in mind as well, that corn is one of the top genetically modified foods and there has been no long term studies on the health implications of GMO products.

Microcrystalline cellulose

Microcrystalline cellulose (MCC) is refined wood pulp. While sounding strange, that’s not the part that is dangerous about MCC. MCC is actually a nanoparticle, meaning it’s so small that it enters cells freely, and once there, they accumulate over time and can clog up cell functions like cotton in a jar, leading to dysfunction and toxicity.  The smaller the particle, the more dangerous they are, so the FDA has banned all MCC smaller than 5 microns in size, but nanoparticle size regulation is sparse for manufacturing companies7.


This is a non-digestible starch that ferments in the large intestine. Interestingly, the unique fermentation of polydextrose has been shown to positively affect the gut bacteria (ie improve the microbiome) and even improve mineral absorption in the large intestine. Because of this, it is possible that polydextrose is the most helpful ingredient besides iron in Feramax. However, in people that are sensitive to changes in the microbiome (eg those with SIBO or fibre sensitivity), polydextrose can cause intestinal gas, bloating, stomach cramps, and diarrhea8.

Polyethylene Glycol (PEG)

Simply put, this is a laxative put into the medicine because iron is known to be a little constipating to some people. Like polydextrose, it is a non-digestible fibre that pulls water into the colon to help hydrate stools. If you are sensitive to fibre and non-digestible starches, you can end up with gas, cramps, nausea, and diarrhea.

Sodium starch glycolate

This compound absorbs water quickly and helps tablets and pills dissolve. It’s fairly inert, except that it is made from either wheat or corn, which can trigger sensitivities in people with celiac disease or corn allergies.

Titanium dioxide

This is used as a colorant, and like the other artificial colours, it has a slew of health implications. Among them, it has been implicated in lowered immune system function, with some studies showing DNA damage by titanium dioxide nanoparticles, albeit marginal damage. It has also been shown to cause kidney damage in mice, and to induce small intestine inflammation9. Again, why do we have to sacrifice our health for the colour of our vitamins?


While being generally recognized as safe, in low-dose human studies, animal studies show that Triacetin is moderately toxic by all injection routes, with animals showing weakness, difficulty moving and breathing, muscular tremors, occasional convulsions and hemorrhage in the lung.

What does all that mean?

It is important to note that the dosages in the supplements are generally lower than what is seen in most of the toxicity studies. That being said, even though studies haven’t shown direct acute toxicity, there can be significant long-term chronic cumulative toxicity that leads to vague symptoms like fatigue, weight gain, indigestion, and malaise. Why risk it with your iron supplement that is meant to make you feel better in the long run?

Choose supplements with the least non-medicinal ingredients, or at least ones that don’t contain the worst of them, artificial colours, titanium dioxide, maltodextrin and triacetin.

For example, another iron supplement called Floradix has these non-medicinal ingredients:

Non-medicinal ingredients: extracts of carrot, stinging nettle, spinach, couch grass, bitter fennel, kelp, hibiscus; juice concentrates of pear, black grape, black currant, orange, blackberry, cherry and red beetroot; in a base of honey, extracts of rosehip, wheat germ and yeast, natural orange flavour, purified water and ascorbic acid (antioxidant). The only thing that could improve in this supplement from an ingredient perspective is “natural orange flavour”  – usually this is code for chemical.

There are other options for your health! We find it is best to determine why your iron is low in the first place. To get to the root of your health concerns work with a Naturopathic Doctor today!

  1. American Polymer Standards Corporation, on Celluose Acetate
  2. Arnold, L. E., Lofthouse, N., & Hurt, E. (2012). Artificial food colors and attention-deficit/hyperactivity symptoms: conclusions to dye for. Neurotherapeutics, 9(3), 599-609.
  3. Stokes, M. (2010). How bad is red 40 and other food dyes? blog, November/December 2010
  4. Burdock, G. A. (2007). Safety assessment of hydroxypropyl methylcellulose as a food ingredient. Food and Chemical Toxicology45(12), 2341-2351.
  5. Axe on Magnesium stearate, 2017.
  6. Hofman, D. L., Van Buul, V. J., & Brouns, F. J. (2016). Nutrition, health, and regulatory aspects of digestible maltodextrins. Critical reviews in food science and nutrition56(12), 2091-2100.
  7. Burdock, G (2007). Nanotechnology, Benefits vs toxic risks. New Hope Network.
  8. do Carmo, M., Walker, J., Novello, D., Caselato, V., Sgarbieri, V., Ouwehand, A., … & dos Santos, E. (2016). Polydextrose: physiological function, and effects on health. Nutrients8(9), 553.
  9. Yigsaw, 2016. 5 DANGEROUS INGREDIENTS IN YOUR VITAMINS AND DIETARY SUPPLEMENTS. American College of Healthcare Sciences.

Spring Detoxification Part 2: The Do’s and Don’ts of a Detox Diet

Last week we talked about the importance of detoxification and the ten things you can do to detoxify your body. This week we want to share some tips on how to start cleansing your body of toxins and provide you with a list of the Do’s and Don’ts of eating while on a detox.

Although cleansing is not an easy process to stick with, most people feel better as their cleanse progresses—more vital energy, lighter, less blocked, more flexible, clearer, and more spiritually attuned.  There are so many benefits to detoxing your body and mind!

Where to Start?

  1. Read last week’s article, consult a naturopathic doctor, follow the detoxification guidelines and get ready to start feeling great!
  2. Upon waking, ½ a lemon freshly squeezed into filtered or boiled water.
  3. Breathe! Practice your deep breathing exercises. Not only does it get rid of toxins, but it also stimulates your digestive system to help your gut to detox as well! Get in the habit of doing this regularly in your daily routine!
  4. Exercise 20-30 minutes throughout the day at your convenience. This doesn’t need to be strenuous, even a 30-minute, moderate speed walk can help get rid of those toxins. AND, if you walk outside, you’ve just completed two of the detox methods in one! Exercise and Fresh air!
  5. Drink water continuously throughout the day, aiming for 3-4 L. Carry a water bottle with you. To avoid toxins it is important to drink out of a plastic-free water bottle and drink filtered water.
  6. Eat foods from the detoxification list below. Some of the foods are very helpful in detoxification and we suggest incorporating them into your meals daily. These foods include beets, garlic, onions, any green vegetables, lemons, oats (not processed oatmeal), apples, pears, black cherries, nuts and seeds (raw and unsalted).
  7. Try to eat a variety of foods. We have a 3- Day Detox Plan with grocery lists and recipes to help get you inspired.
  8. Avoid drinking during meals and if needed only have small amounts.  Drink liquids one half-hour before and one hour after a meal.
  9. Chew all food WELL.  Aim for 20 times per mouthful.
  10. Practice meditation and journaling! Dr. Chris ND has a great journal to help guide you through this process!
  11. Between dinner and bedtime drink only herbal teas.  Refrain from food and alcohol intake late at night to give your bowels time to repair and detoxify.

“Healing Reactions”

Please be aware that people experience different reactions to detoxification and cleansing depending on how much your body needs to eliminate.  Some common symptoms include fatigue, nausea, headaches, constipation or diarrhea, sweating, irritability, mood swings, insomnia, runny nose, and an inability to concentrate.  These and others are normal reactions and can be lessened with increased water intake, exercise and resting when needed.  Try to start your cleansing process when you have a day or two off from work since the first day or two are the most difficult.  These symptoms will subside and the benefits will be worth it!!!

Detoxification Diet

REMEMBER: If possible, it’s best to get organic foods as it decreases your exposure to toxins from pesticides.



Herb teas: mint, spearmint, comfrey, licorice root, eucalyptus, dandelion, chaparral, red clover, chamomile, coffee substitute: pero, cafix Alcohol, cocoa, coffee, milk, soft drinks & decaf coffee


Millet, rye, buckwheat, whole wheat, bran, corn, 7-grains, soya tortillas, only whole grains, freshly ground or sprouted, free of all preservatives White bread and blended bread, made out of white flour


Millet, oatmeal, brown and wild rice, buckwheat, groats, barley, cornmeal, cracked wheat and 7-grains, freshly ground, if possible Processed cereals


No dairy products, tofu (soy cheese) is OK
Milk substitutes: soy, sesame or diluted tahini milk, rice milk, use nut milks sparingly
Eggs, milk, cheeses


Most cold-pressed, unsaturated oils such as: safflower, sesame, walnut, corn, soy and soy lecithin spread Butter, shortening, margarine, saturated oils & fats, cottonseed oil, rancid & continually heated oils


Cold water fish (baked, broiled, poached), tofu, all legumes.
Free-range, organic meat may be acceptable
Meat: beef, port, poultry, veal (conventionally raised)  


Fresh whole fruits, fruit cocktails, stewed fruits, natural, fruit gelatin, whole tapioca
Sweeteners: honey, sorghum, maple syrup (in moderation)
Canned or frozen fruits, all pastries, custards, sauces, ice cream, candy


Fresh fruits organically grown if possible, apples, apricots, bananas, berries, cherries, currants, grapes, guavas, grapefruit, lemon, mango, melon, nectarine, oranges, papaya, peaches, pineapple, pears, plums, persimmons, tangerines Sprayed and sulfured fruits, canned or frozen fruit


Only fresh UNSWEETENED juices
Fruit: apple, berry, cherry, grape, grapefruit, lemon, orange, pear, pineapple, prune
Vegetable: beet, carrot, cucumber, celery, garlic, onion, peppers (red or green bell), radish, red cabbage, turnip
Peel sprayed vegetables or wash thoroughly
All canned and frozen juices


Limited amount of nuts, particularly fresh, raw walnuts, almonds, pecan, peanuts, raw nut butters, freshly made in blender or juicer only
Seeds: sunflower, sesame and pumpkin
Roasted and/or salted nuts and seeds


Homemade soups made from listed ingredients.
Brown rice, barley or millet can be added
Miso soup with vegetables
Canned and creamed soups, fat stock, bouillon or stock, bouillon consommé


Baked or steamed potatoes with jackets and mashed potato salad seasoned with salad dressing, millet, brown rice and all kinds of pasta & macaroni made from buckwheat, whole wheat, soy and vegetable flour without eggs French fries, potato chips, grilled potatoes, white flour noodles and macaroni


All spices: chives, garlic, parsley, sprouts.
Herbs: laurel, marjoram, sage, thyme, savory
Kelp, vegetable and herb seasonings (that contain no sodium chloride [table salt])
Salt substitutes: ‘spike’, ‘vegit’, ‘veg sal’ and soy sauce


Raw or freshly steamed, organically grown if possible.
Artichokes, asparagus, beets, carrots, celery, chives, corn, cucumbers, endive, green and wax beans, green peas, lentils, lima beans, onions, peppers, potatoes, tomatoes, yams, watercress, kale, beet tops, radish, red cabbage, etc.
Sprayed or canned vegetables

Suggested Menu

• Juice
• Raw/ cooked fruits
• Cereal with soy milk
• Wheat or Rye Toast
• Steamed Vegetables
• Pasta or grain
• Salad
• Fruits and tea
• Salad
• Soup
• Potato
• Fruit
• Fresh fruit and juice
• Nuts and fruit
• Fruit, Juice

If you feel the need to eat more frequently on this temporary diet – go right ahead!


  1. Pizzorno, J. and Murray, M. Textbook of Natural Medicine 2nd ed. Harcourt Brace and company, 1999.
  2. revised 9/8/02  Clinic/handouts/Detoxification Diet, Bastyr Center for Natural Health

Spring Detoxification: 10 Ways to Detoxify Your Body

Ahh…  Spring is here and no matter where you live, growth is all around. Plants are starting to bud, blossom and bloom. You may have noticed Canada Geese returning and birds chirping. And the days are getting longer. It’s a time of growth and regeneration. We want you to feel energized and ready to take on the tasks of spring time. Let’s start the spring cleaning by cleansing our body with a detox!

What is Detoxification?

Detoxification is the process of clearing, neutralizing or transforming toxins from the body, and therefore clearing excess mucus and congestion.  Toxins accumulate as a result of poor digestion, colon sluggishness and dysfunction, reduced liver function, and poor elimination through the kidneys, respiratory tract, and skin.

Detoxification involves dietary and lifestyle changes that reduce the intake of toxins while improving elimination.  The avoidance of chemicals from food or other sources, including refined food, sugar, caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, and drugs, helps minimize the toxin load.  Drinking extra water and increasing fibre by including more fruits and vegetables in the diet are also essential steps. Below are 10 suggestions for you – pick one or two and get started today!

Top Ten Ways to Detoxify Your Body

  1. Deep Breathing – Your lungs are an important organ of detoxification, so deep breaths are a wonderful way to begin this process. Practice it while driving, sitting at your desk, in line at the grocery store and in the bath.  A great side effect is better mood and improved memory!
  2. Saunas – We store a lot of toxins in our fat, and one of the only ways to get them out is through sweating.  If using saunas, make sure you do four rotations of 15 minutes in the sauna separated by 2 minutes in a cool shower or pool for a total of 1 hour.
  3. Castor Oil Packs – Castor oil helps to stimulate the liver and get rid of toxins in the gut, along with improving skin quality and sleep.
  4. Exercise – Sluggish muscles and excess fat can store and create toxins from inactivity.  When you exercise, the extra blood pumping helps to wash away the waste products and make your body healthier.
  5. Drink Water – Water is necessary for diluting and bringing waste to the kidneys to be filtered out as urine. If you don’t drink water, the toxins stay in your body and lead to fatigue, muscle pain and irritability.
  6. Lemon Juice – First thing in the morning, take the juice of one organic lemon and add it to some warm water to make a nice drink. This helps to clear away the mucus in your gut that has accumulated while sleeping and helps to kick start your liver for a good day of filtering.
  7. Dry Skin Brushing – Dry Skin Brushing involves using a dry, natural bristle, soft brush to brush your skin prior to bathing. Start at the feet and hands and work your way up, always stroking towards the heart.  This can be done every day, year round. This helps to clear toxins from the skin (the largest detoxifying organ of the body!).
  8. Eat Organic Foods – If you decrease the amounts of pesticides, heavy metals and pollutants that are going into your body, you will have less to worry about removing. It’s just that simple.
  9. Fresh Air – High levels of contaminants from the off-gassing of our houses can lead to higher levels of toxicity in our bodies.  Try to open your windows as much as possible, and get outside for at least 20 minutes each day.  As an added benefit, you will be getting vitamin D from the sun, which helps with mood and energy.
  10. Natural Products – So many of the chemicals we are exposed to are applied by our own hand. Try to use organic, natural cosmetics, soaps and cleaning supplies.  In this way, you will be helping the environment to detoxify as well as yourself.

Get Help

Health food stores do not know your individual characteristics and needs and may not support your body optimally during a detox.  Consult a Naturopathic doctor to find a program that will suit your body and result in more vibrant health and fewer unpleasant side effects.  Never attempt a detox without consulting your practitioner, especially if you suffer from any medical condition, are pregnant or nursing, or are in poor health.