Drug-Nutrient-Botanical Interactions: The Interconnected Web of Healing with Bianca Garilli, ND, IFMCP

Botanical medicine (also referred to as plant medicine, phytotherapy, and herbalism) has been practiced by humans for thousands of years. Archaeologists describe the use of herbalism as far back as 60,000 years ago in Iraq and 8,000 years ago in China. Humans have always relied on plants for food, shelter, and more recently medicine, in a relationship that has proved valuable for survival since the beginning of time. However, the use of plants for their healing energetics requires a deeper understanding of the energies, chemical properties, synergistic effects, etc. of each botanical.

Hawthorn faculty member Dr. Bianca Garilli, ND, IFMCP joins us for her webinar presentation Drug-Nutrient-Botanical Interactions: The Interconnected Web of Healing, Tuesday October 22, 2019 at 4 PM Pacific.


This webinar touches on the deep history of plant medicine and explores its relationships with new-to-the scene pharmaceutical medications. The interactions between herbs and drugs can be both detrimental and advantageous depending on a variety of factors, particularly the combinations of herbs and drugs being utilized. Learn how herbs can support the use of pharmaceutical medications in the human body and which combinations should be used cautiously or avoided all together.

Learning Objectives:
Review the ancient history of “plants as medicine”;
Examine the biased elimination of botanical medicine from the Western medicine construct and more recently the resurgence of this healing modality into the modern health scene;
Discuss the various ways botanical medicines are currently being introduced into US healthcare;
Consider the various safety concerns regarding Drug-Botanical interactions; explore some of the most common scenarios and how to assess for safety;
Examine the various ways in which botanical medicines can be helpful in Drug-Nutrient Depletion situations. 

You will come away from this webinar with a new found appreciation for the rich history that botanical medicine can bring to your practice and your clients’ health while also gaining an understanding of the cautionary and wise use of herbs in various situations. 

Dr. Bianca Garilli is a former US Marine turned Naturopathic Doctor. She received her undergraduate degree in Biology from the University of Maryland and her Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University in Kenmore, Washington. Dr. Garilli has been on staff at the Susan Samueli Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of California Irvine (UCI) and volunteer clinical faculty at UCI medical center. She was the Director of Lifestyle Medicine at the Institute for Restorative Health in Davis, CA and in 2012 established her private practice in Northern California (NCCLM) which focuses on the prevention and treatment of chronic illness in all age groups through the effective use of natural and lifestyle medicine approaches. In addition to private practice, Dr. Garilli is a consultant for the Institute for Functional Medicine and for Metagenics; she is also a member of the Speaker’s Bureau for Metagenics. One of her passions is teaching, as such she is a faculty member of Hawthorn University where she teaches various courses in the Masters of Holistic Nutrition program. She also loves to write and frequently publishes in various health-care journals and publications. Dr. Garilli is the current President and founding board member of the California Chapter of the Children’s Heart Foundation and sits on the National board for the Children’s Heart Foundation.  She lives in beautiful Northern California with her husband, their two (very) active children, four backyard chickens, and a newly added dog.  She loves to read, cook, garden and preserve fresh produce to enjoy year around.

If you have a question for Dr. Garilli on this topic, please email it to paulab@hawthorn.edu.

Disclaimer: The webinars may present information that does not fully reflect Hawthorn University’s philosophy. Nonetheless, these presentations have been chosen because of their overall quality of information.

Dr. Bianca Garilli, ND, IFMCP

Mindful Eating in 5 Simple Steps

by Kira Whitham

If you’ve ever sat and scrolled through your Facebook feed while eating, or scarfed down a meal between meetings, then this article is for you.

We all know just how important a high-quality diet is, and that what we eat affects our health. But there is one nutritional component that is often overlooked: mindful eating. What seems like a minute component of health, is actually a crucial piece of wellness.

As a society, we are conditioned to have poor eating habits. Many people struggle with overeating, undereating, emotional eating, eating on-the-go, and all-around mindless eating. Eating is meant to be a sensory experience, and yet so many don’t even realize what they’ve just eaten. Unfortunately, if you’re guilty of mindless eating, you’re potentially causing harm to your health (1, 2).

Forget about food for a moment and consider the gut’s biology. We know now that digestion goes beyond the physiology of the digestive tract. Digestive secretions work appropriately when the body is in a parasympathetic state, or ‘rest and digest.’ They stop working efficiently when the body is in a sympathetic state, or ‘fight or flight.’ So, if you’re constantly eating in a mindless way, then digestive secretions do not work as they are meant to. When that happens, you will not properly digest or absorb nutrients, which then leads to health issues (3).

Additionally, it takes about twenty minutes for the body to release a hormone called cholecystokinin (CCK), which registers how full you are. If you eat too quickly, then you’re apt to overeat since CCK hasn’t had time to kick in. Ultimately this can lead to bloating, weight gain and other health issues. The problem with rushed eating is that not enough time has been given to the cephalic phase (the sensory component of eating), which is crucial for healthy digestion. This is where thoughts, textures, and smells all trigger the release of digestive enzymes and other juices (4).

The goal of mindful eating is to listen to hunger cues, and also to be present during the meal. The average American chews each bite of food only a handful of times, and often with several gulps of water to chase it down. Not only does that hinder the cephalic phase, but also carbohydrate digestion, which affects the flavors of food. Carbohydrate digestion begins in the mouth with chewing, so you may notice that the more that you chew carbohydrate foods, the sweeter they taste. While some claim that it’s best to chew your food 200 times, I encourage clients to chew until food is applesauce texture, to reduce the work of the stomach and small intestines and enjoy the tastes of the food (4).

So, what exactly does mindful eating include, beyond chewing well? I’ve broken it down into 5 steps:

1) Become aware of how you eat. It doesn’t always need to be at a table, but it shouldn’t be while you are driving, paying your bills, or running around between meetings. Sit down somewhere, relax, and enjoy your meal.

2) It also means learning your hunger cues, versus emotional eating or eating out of boredom. Determine whether you are eating because you truly need the nutrition, or if you’re eating just because it’s a habit.

3) Learn to enjoy food (and possibly even cooking). Use your five senses while preparing your meals, and then savor them. When you’re eating, appreciate the nutrients you are putting in your body and be thankful for the benefits you’re gaining.

4) Create a relationship with eating. Recognize that food is nourishment, and that some foods are healthier than others, but also don’t beat yourself up when you make a not-so-wise choice. Food is not black or white, there’s a lot of gray in between.

5) And finally, stop when you are satisfied. Often we overeat because there is more food on our plate, but in reality, you should stop when you’re no longer hungry, not wait until you’re full.

Mastering mindful eating is easy, though changing habits may not be, as many of us fall back into our old patterns. I encourage you to spend some time identifying where you are struggling around mindful eating and take the appropriate steps to slowly start improving upon your relationship with food.

A simple activity to get started with mindful eating:

One of my favorite activities is to get a little square of dark chocolate and place it on your tongue. Instead of chewing it, let it sit on your tongue and begin melting. Notice the texture, the flavors, and the increased sweetness as it breaks down. A similar activity would be to chew a few almonds or walnuts, until there’s nothing left to chew. These are great activities to show just how delicious food can be when we remember to stop and savor it.

1. Dallas, Mary Elizabeth. “The Health Risks Posed by Mindless Munching.” WebMD, WebMD, 6 Apr. 2016, https://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20160406/the-health-risks-posed-by-mindless-munching.

2. Albers, Susan. Eating Mindfully: How to End Mindless Eating and Enjoy a Balanced Relationship with Food. New Harbinger Publications, 2012.

3. Konturek, Peter C, et al. “Stress and the Gut: Pathophysiology, Clinical Consequences, Diagnostic Approach and Treatment Options.” Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology: an Official Journal of the Polish Physiological Society, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Dec. 2011, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22314561.

4. Liska, DeAnn, and Jeffrey Bland. Clinical Nutrition: a Functional Approach. Institute for Functional Medicine, 2004.

Kira Whitham holds a Master’s in Health and Nutrition Education from Hawthorn University, as well as additional training through the School of Applied Functional Medicine, The Metabolic Healing Institute, and IFM. She combines the principles of holistic nutrition and functional medicine to help people bring their bodies back to their intended state of wellness. She is a firm believer in the healing power of food and works hard to help her clients improve their relationship with food while gaining an understanding of what nourishes and depletes the body.

Blackberry Cran-Apple Crumble

by Amy Panetta, MA NC 


     There is just nothing like a warm apple crumble on a crisp autumn day!  This recipe provides for a wonderful opportunity to consume local produce since apples, as well as blackberries and cranberries, are now in season in the Northern Hemisphere. While it is possible that blackberries were in season earlier in your area, this recipe could incorporate any frozen local blackberries that you might have harvested (or of course, store-bought can be used as well).  As an allergen note, by using gluten-free oats, this recipe can easily be gluten free.

     In a 125 gram serving, this recipe provides a great balance of satiating fiber (5 g), fats (10 g), and protein (4 g).  As far as micronutrients are concerned, this crumble recipe packs in 23% of the daily nutrient value in Manganese, 13% of Magnesium, 10% of Phosphorus, 9% of Iron and Potassium, as well as a trace amounts of Calcium, Copper, Selenium, and Zinc.  While nutrient loss often occurs to the phytonutrient content, in their raw state, apples, blackberries, and cranberries, all contain anthocyanidins, flavan-3-ols, flavanones, flavones, and flavonols.

     In Ayurveda, it is said that during the chillier months our metabolism needs to work harder, so warming spices, such as cinnamon and allspice can help with providing some support for our digestive fire.  These spices are also beneficial to other aspects of our health.  Cinnamon can help to support normal blood sugar levels.  Allspice has been shown to be helpful in prostate and breast cancers.  

Please enjoy this satisfying, aromatic dessert, free of gluten, dairy, soy, and added sugars!

1 1/2 cup fresh dates
Juice from one lemon
Juice from one orange
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
⅛-¼ cup water
1 tsp orange zest
6 oz. package of fresh blackberries
½ cup fresh cranberries
5 apples (choose one or two varieties of sweet local apples)

¼ cup date mixture from filling recipe
1 cup old-fashioned oats (use gluten-free if there is an allergy)
1 cup almond flour
Pinch of salt
Sprinkle of pecan pieces

     Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. With a blender, mix dates, lemon juice, orange juice, spices, water, and arrowroot powder together. Set ¼ cup of mixture aside and pour the rest of the mixture into a large mixing bowl and add orange zest. 

     Wash and cut each cranberry in half. Add cut cranberries and blackberries to the bowl with the wet mixture. Peel, core, and thinly slice apples vertically. Add all apples to the bowl. Stir wet mixture and all fruit gently so that it is mixed evenly. Add the contents of the bowl to a standard apple pie dish.

     To make the topping, add the oats, almond flour, date mixture, and salt to a mixing bowl, incorporating all ingredients evenly. Spread oat mixture on top of apples in the pie dish. Top with a sprinkle of pecan pieces. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool, and enjoy!

Khalsa, K. P. S., & Tierra, M. (2008). The way of ayurvedic herbs: the most complete guide to natural healing and health with traditional ayurvedic herbalism. Twin Lakes, WI: Lotus.  

Singletary, K. (2008). Cinnamon. Nutrition Today, 43(6), 263–266. doi: 10.1097/01.nt.0000342702.19798.fe

Track nutrition & count calories. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.cronometer.com/

United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. USDA Food Composition Databases, United States Department of Agriculture, Washington, DC, USA, 2018, https://www.ars.usda.gov/ARSUserFiles/80400525/Data/Flav/Flav_R03-1.pdf.

Zhang, L., & Lokeshwar, B. L. (2012). Medicinal Properties of the Jamaican Pepper Plant Pimenta dioica and Allspice. Current Drug Targets, 13(14), 1900–1906. doi: 10.2174/138945012804545641  

Amy Panetta, MA NC, empowers women to transform overwhelm, stress, and fatigue, into vibrant energy while feeling lighter in the process. In her thesis, Amy focused on the connection between chronic stress, allostatic overload, and obesity in women. She currently works with clients individually or in groups to create their own transitional approach towards a diet filled with lots of whole foods, helpful supplementation, and lifestyle changes. She offers nutrition consulting online, as well as outside of Montreal, Quebec and in the Burlington, Vermont area. For more information, you can find her in the following ways:

Instagram: amy.panetta.ma.nc

Pacific Northwest Salmon: Wild vs. Farmed and What about that Fukushima Radiation? - Part Two

by Gretchen Kurtenacker, MS, MLS(ASCP), MT(AMT), NTP(NTA)

In part one we concluded that while there are issues, some of which may be worse in some areas of the world, farmed fish in the Pacific Northwest are relatively non-toxic and nutritious for the budget conscious as well as beneficial for restoring wild populations. In part 2 we will review the radiation levels following the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

What about the Fukushima nuclear disaster radioactivity? 

Anyone who uses Facebook has surely seen articles about the massive poisoning of the Pacific Ocean following the meltdown at Fukushima. Pictures of fish with open sores as well as stories that the reason we have not seen the die off is that crabs and other bottom feeders have eaten the bodies of the fish before they have a chance to wash up on shore, (Guy, 2017). Additionally, there have been claims that no one is even monitoring the ocean and its inhabitants for radiation, (Guy, 2017). We certainly are justified in mistrusting agencies that depend on fishing, fish consumption, and tourism. So, what has been measured, who is doing the measuring, and most importantly, can we feel good about sautéing up that Coho in the freezer?

According to Allison Guy from Oceana.org, Japan caps foodstuffs radioactivity at 100 Becquerels of activity per kilogram of fish. The United States limits it to 1200, (Guy, 2017; Conca, 2013, Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare, n.d.). Globally the average limit is 1000 Bq/kg while the EU sets the limit at 1250, even higher than the U.S., (Conca, 2013). And just what is a Becquerel (Bq) anyway? There are a lot of terms to describe radiation and to make matters worse, there are terms for the same thing in both common US measurement and System International (SI). Some refer to the radioactivity in the contaminated item, such as the Becquerel (Bq/kg) (SI), the curie, and the Rutherford. Others refer to the exposure one has received, the coulomb/kilogram (SI) and the roentgen. Still, others refer to how much was absorbed by the tissue such as the gray (SI) and the rad. And finally, others refer to the dose equivalent which is the minimum amount known to result in cancers and chromosome damage, the sievert (SI) and rem (roentgen in man). (Radiation Emergency Medical Management, 2019). Why so many terms? Scientists use them to come up with mathematical formulas to determine probabilities and likely outcomes which enables them to set guidelines on limits of activity in foods or set limits of exposure for nuclear workers.

Okay, so back to the fish! As it turns out, there was an increase in the radioactivity of the fish shortly after Fukushima, but it went back down to normal background radiation levels rather quickly because the radionuclides had short half-lives and also due to dilution by the ocean, (Wada et al., 2016; Fisher et al., 2013; Geggel, 2018; Wild Alaskan Salmon Company, 2019). Normal background radiation? Yes, radioactivity is everywhere naturally, in foods, soils, building materials, and even in us. The most radioactive food is reportedly Brazil nuts, followed by bananas, (Vitz et al., 2019). That lovely new granite counter top in the kitchen is likely radioactive as are the bricks that façade the house, (World Nuclear Association, 2019). Of the isotopes released from Fukushima, those of greatest concern were iodine-131, cesium-134, and cesium-137. The half-life of iodine-134 is 8 days, cesium-134 is 25 months, but the cesium 134 is 30 years, (Geggel, 2018). The US was already contaminated with cesium-137 due to the nuclear testing in the 1950s and 1960s, (Geggel, 2018).

Pacific Bluefin tuna (PBFT) were tested in California after Fukushima and found to have 10 Becquerel’s of cesium-137 activity per kilogram of fish. A year later tests revealed the activity at a mere 2.7 Bq/kg. The dose of radioactivity from consuming a serving of PBFT contaminated with 4.0 Bq/kg of cesium-134 and 6.3 Bq/kg of cesium-137 yielded 3.7nSv. which amounts to 5% of the exposure from an uncontaminated banana, (Fisher et al., 2013). Tuna from Japanese waters after the disaster had 15 times more radioactive cesium, hence, above Japanese government limits, but below U.S. ones! No fish captured in Fukushima have surpassed safety limits since 2015, (Fisher et al., 2013).

Loki Fish Company of Seattle and Vital Choice Wild Seafood of Bellingham performed their own testing on samples of catch. Two of the seven that Loki tested were positive, but at levels far below the FDA limits; 1.4Bq/kg for cesium-137, and 1.2Bq/kg for cesium-134. Limits are 370 Bq/kg, (Denn, 2014). Vital Choice had testing performed six times from 2012-2016 and found all samples to be safe. As of 2016, Vital Choice found only trace amounts of cesium-137 in a sample of Chinook salmon and while sockeye and tuna were none detected, (Vital Choice Seafood, n.d.).


Aquaculture has come a long way and there have been many improvements, however, alignment with sustainable ethical practices has not occurred in farms worldwide, (Martinez-Porchas & Martinez-Cordova, 2012). Wild fisheries are also problematic as many unethical practices take place in poorly regulated, poorly monitored areas. Practices such as use of bottom trawling, loss of fishnets, release of capture wastes, fuel leakage, massive overfishing to the point of depletion, and bycatch of non-target species, (Garcia & Rosenberg, 2010). The improvements in sustainability in both aquaculture and wild fisheries have taken place in developed nations, while worsening in developing ones, (FAO, 2018). According to the FAO, the most sustainable wild fisheries are in Eastern Central Pacific, Western Central Pacific, Northeast, Northwest, and Southwest Pacific with less than 17% of their stock are overfished, (FAO, 2018). With much of the word’s wild fisheries over exploited, aquaculture is a valuable tool to ease the strain on the global fish stock and as algal and insect-based meals become available, pressure on fish for fishmeal will go a long way to replenishing global fish population, (Beal et al., 2018).

Many agencies have been monitoring the radioactivity of the fish and water from the PNW, such as Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, California Department of Public Health, Canada's INFORM Project, Oregon Public Health, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, (WASDOH, 2017). The radiation scare appears to be just that.

Thus, after a bit of research, well… a lot of research actually, fish are back on the dinner menu. All that is left is to decide if one will choose wild or farmed. While farmed is safe when consumed 2-3 times per week and testing has shown it to be nutritious, it is not what most would call natural or organic. As 80-90% of the soy and corn grown in the US is genetically modified, (United States Department of Agriculture, 2019), it is, therefore, likely that the corn and soy used in fishmeal is also. Add to that the additives in fishmeal such as enzymes and isolated carotenoids. One of the reasons why farmed fish create so much pollution is the low digestibility of the grains in the fishmeal. Synthetic enzymes are added to help, (DSM, n.d.-b), however, we are still forcing unnatural food on them. Additionally, synthesized isolated carotenoids such as astaxanthin are added to the pellets to color the salmon flesh like their wild counterparts, otherwise the flesh would appear grey. Fish need astaxanthin but usually get it from krill, rather than an isomer of astaxanthin, (Megdal et al., 2009). The question is the same as for a human taking an isolated vitamin or mineral supplement; if it doesn’t come like that in nature, what delicate molecular balance is being overlooked that we are as of yet unaware of? And it’s not just fish, a company that makes synthetic pigment for farmed fishmeal also make it for chickens so that the egg yolks look deep yellow-orange. They even make color wheels like paint chips to help growers choose the color they want their fish flesh/egg yolks to be, (DSM, n.d.-a). This seems like trickery, the same as adding synthetic fragrances to factory foods to make them smell like the real thing.

Stories of food fraud are rampant these days, and salmon are no different. There have been reports of farmed Atlantic being sold as Wild Alaskan, (Megdal et al., 2009), thus, if you choose wild, your best bet is to know your fisherman and an easy way to do that is through farmer’s markets.


Eating salmon is better than not eating salmon. While there are reports of suspect quality of farmed salmon, those farmed responsibly in the PNW and with good quality feed are safe, affordable, and nutritious. With fears of radiation eased, one may feel free to purchase wild salmon rather than farmed, if natural organic foods are preferred. Bon Appetite!

Gretchen Kurtenacker, MS, MLS(ASCP), MT(AMT), NTP(NTA) is a Medical Laboratory Scientist who holds a B.S. from the University of Cincinnati in Clinical Laboratory Science, an M.S. in Health & Nutrition Education from Hawthorn University and is currently working on a D.Sc. in Holistic Nutrition, also from Hawthorn University. Her interests include food anthropology, food & the environment, and elder nourishment. 

Gretchen lives in the First Hill neighborhood of Seattle where she enjoys the incredible selection of local, artisanal, sustainable foods available within walking distance of her home.

References for Part 2

Beal, C. M., Gerber, L. N., Thongrod, S., Phromkunthong, W., Kiron, V., Granados, J., …Huntley, M.E. (2018). Marine microalgae commercial production improves sustainability of global fisheries and aquaculture. Scientific Reports 8(1).

Conca, J. (2013, Jan 11). Like we've been saying -- Radiation is not a big deal. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2013/01/11/like-weve-been-saying-radiation-is-not-a-big-deal/#2981a6413a7e

Denn, R. (2014, Jan 20). Fishermen test their own salmon for Fukushima radiation. Retrieved from http://blogs.seattletimes.com/allyoucaneat/2014/01/20/fishermen-test-their-own-salmon-for-fukushima-radiation/

DSM. (n.d.-a). DSM colorfans. Retrieved from https://www.dsm.com/markets/anh/en_US/products/products-solutions/products_solutions_tools/digital-yolkfan.html

DSM. (n.d.-b) Feed cost savings. Retrieved from https://www.dsm.com/markets/anh/en_US/species/species-aquaculture/species-aquaculture-feedcostsavings.html

Fisher, N., Beaugelin-Seiller, K., Hinton, T., Baumann, Z., Madigan, D., & Garnier-Laplace, J. (June, 2013). Evaluation of radiation doses and associated risk from the Fukushima nuclear accident to marine biota and human consumers of seafood. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 110 (26) 10670-10675; DOI:10.1073/pnas.1221834110

Food and Agriculture Organization, (2018, July 9). Is the planet approaching "peak fish"? Not so fast, study says. Retrieved from http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/1144274/icode/

Garcia, S. M. & Rosenberg, A. A. (2010). Food security and marine capture fisheries: characteristics, trends, drivers and future perspectives. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 365(1554): 2869–2880. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2010.0171

Geggel, L. (2018, March 11). 7 years after Fukushima disaster: Little radioactive material in US waters. Retrieved from

Guy, A. (2017, Oct 25). Worried about Fukushima radiation in seafood? Turns out bananas are more radioactive than fish. Retrieved from https://oceana.org/blog/worried-about-fukushima-radiation-seafood-turns-out-bananas-are-more-radioactive-fish

Martinez-Porchas, M. & Martinez-Cordova, L. R. (2012). World aquaculture: Environmental impacts and troubleshooting alternatives. The Scientific World Journal 2012 #389623. Doi: 10.1100/2012/389623

Megdal, P.A., Craft, N.A. & Handelman, G.J. (2009). A simplified method to distinguish farmed (Salmo salar) from wild salmon: Fatty acid ratios versus astaxanthin chiral isomers. Lipids 44(6): 569–576. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11745-009-3294-6

Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare. (n.d.). New standard limits for radionuclides in foods. Retrieved from https://www.mhlw.go.jp/english/topics/2011eq/dl/new_standard.pdf

Radiation Emergency Medical Management. (2019). Radiation units and conversion factors. Retrieved from https://www.remm.nlm.gov/radmeasurement.htm

United States Department of Agriculture. (2019, July16). Recent trends in GE adoption. Retrieved from https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/adoption-of-genetically-engineered-crops-in-the-us/recent-trends-in-ge-adoption.aspx

Washington State Department of Health. (2017). Fukushima - Frequently asked questions. Retrieved from

Wild Alaskan Salmon Company. (2018). Fukushima radiation: Is wild Alaskan salmon safe to eat? Retrieved from https://wildalaskancompany.com/blog/fukushima-radiation-is-wild-alaskan-seafood-safe-to-eat

Vital Choice Seafood. (n.d). Japan nuclear accident: Overview & test results. Retrieved from

Vitz, E., Moore, J. W., Shorb, J., Prat-Resina, X., Wendorff, T. & Hahn, A. (2019). Food irradiation and radioactivity in foods. Retrieved from https://chem.libretexts.org/Ancillary_Materials/Exemplars_and_Case_Studies/Exemplars/Foods/Food_Irradiation_and_Radioactivity_in_Foods

Wada, T., Fujita, T., Nemoto, Y., Shimamura, S., Mizuno, T., Sohtome, T., … Igarashi, S. (November 2016). Effects of the nuclear disaster on marine products in Fukushima: An update after five years. Journal of Environmental Radioactivity 164, 312-324. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvrad.2016.06.028

World Nuclear Association. (March 2019). Naturally-Occurring radioactive materials (NORM). Retrieved from http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/safety-and-security/radiation-and-health/naturally-occurring-radioactive-materials-norm.aspx

Photo Credit:

Fukushima InFORM. (2018, March 11). Monitoring Fukushima contamination in Pacific salmon and soil in British Columbia. Retrieved from https://fukushimainform.ca/2018/03/11/monitoring-fukushima-contamination-in-pacific-salmon-and-soil-in-british-columbia/

Pacific Northwest Salmon: Wild vs. Farmed and What about that Fukushima Radiation? - Part One

by Gretchen Kurtenacker, MS, MLS(ASCP), MT(AMT), NTP(NTA)

In part one we will look at the wild vs. farmed controversy. In part 2 we will review the radiation levels following the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

We hear about the benefits of eating fish our entire lives. According to the Washington State Department of Health (WASDOH), fish provides us with lean protein that comes with the added benefits of vitamin D, vitamin B12, and omega-3 fatty acids. It is also chock full of minerals we are all too low on these days such as magnesium, zinc, calcium, potassium, phosphorous, selenium, and of course iodine, (Drake, 2017; CDC, 2012; Washington State Department of Health [WASDOH], n.d.-c.; Food and Drug Administration [FDA], 2019). WASDOH states that due to its essential fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) consumption of fish on a regular basis, aids brain function and maintains healthy heart function by lowering blood pressure, reducing the risk of stroke, and acting as an anti-inflammatory. (WASDOH, n.d.-c)

Most dietary guidelines recommend eating at least two servings of low contaminant fish per week, (American Heart Association, 2016; FDA, 2019; Harvard School of public Health, 2019; WASDOH, n.d.-b). The heart healthy anti-inflammatory omega-3 essential fatty acids EPA and DHA are highest in fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, herring, and tuna. Media is filled with warnings of fish loaded with contaminants, such as mercury from coal fired power plants, polychlorinated biphenols (PCBs) from plastics, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) from flame retardant chemicals, and dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) from pesticides, (WASDOH, n.d.-a). To top it off, on March 11, 2011 a 9.0 magnitude earthquake, the Tohoku, occurred just off the eastern coast of Japan (Holt, Campbell, & Nikitin, 2012). The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in the Fukushima prefecture survived the shaker but succumbed to the tsunami that followed resulting in a nuclear meltdown and subsequent release of untold tons of contaminated cooling water from the crippled reactors. The radioactive plume rippled across the Pacific Ocean to the west coast of the Americas resulting in consumer fears of irradiated wild fish. Thus, one might turn to farmed fish, however there is much negative press about aquaculture and the reportedly reduced quality farmed fish represent. So, what’s the truth? Are fish over? Let’s take a closer look at wild vs farmed salmon and the fish radiation scare.


We have greatly overfished the oceans and aquaculture has developed as an answer to that dilemma. According to the 2018 State of the World Fisheries and Aquaculture report by the Fish and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) only 59.9 % of the global monitored species are being fished at sustainable levels, (Fish and Agriculture Organization [FAO], 2018). That is a powerful motivator to nod approval to aquaculture. Fish production totaled 171 million tons in 2016, 47% of which (80 million tons) came from aquaculture, (FAO, 2018). Performed globally, about 580 different marine animals are farmed by both commercial producers and poor subsistence fishermen who fish low tech as a means of supporting and feeding their families and relatives, (FAO, n.d.). The objections to aquaculture are contaminants, environmental concerns, and suspected reduced omega-3 content of farmed fish, particularly salmon.


Contaminant studies have mixed outcomes as much is dependent on the source of the fishmeal fed to farmed fish, pen location, as well as adherence to best practice standards, (Kelly, Ikonomou, Higgs, Oakes, & Dubetz, 2008.) What does emerge is that both wild and farmed salmon from the Pacific Northwest have low levels of contaminants, (WASDOH, n.d.-b; Kelly et al., 2008). The same contaminants as found in farmed and wild fish may be found in non-aquatic foods as well as a consequence of man’s activities on his environment. Stricter feed regulations have reduced contamination since early studies were reported in the media and follow-up studies have not reproduced earlier contaminant findings. It is felt that the health benefits of salmon outweigh current levels of contaminant exposure, (Megdal, Craft, & Handelman, 2009; WASDOH, n.d.-b).

Environmental Concerns

There are many environmental arguments about aquaculture. Ocean pens pollute their surroundings and spread disease such as sea lice but abiding by strict regulations helps keep this in check, (WASDOH, n.d.-b). Clearing of Mangrove forests for aquaculture is a threat to the ecosystem which again can be addressed by government regulations and careful thought to pen placement., (Martinez-Porchas & Martinez-Cordova, 2012). Eutrophication resulting from excess feed leads to nitrification and toxic algae blooms but can be controlled by changing the amount, timing, and hydro-stability of the feed as well as moving towards polyculture fish farming, (Martinez-Porchas & Martinez-Cordova, 2012). Norwegian Atlantic salmon escapees have bred with wild Atlantic salmon where the incorporation of domestic DNA may compromise the hardiness, genetic diversity, and adaptability of the wild Atlantic salmon, (Karlsson, 2016). Atlantic salmon cannot breed with Pacific salmon and Pacific salmon are not farmed. The Pacific Northwest (PNW) has had escapees also, however, no runs of Atlantic salmon have ever been identified despite mid-century attempts to establish them, (WASDOH, n.d.-b). Further Atlantic farmed salmon have been somewhat domesticated and do not live long in the wild as they are used to being fed rather than having to acquire food on their own, (WASDOH, n.d.-b). Interestingly, the domestication of Atlantic salmon also means that they have adapted to the stress of such an un-natural habitat and grow larger in captivity than their wild counterparts would in the same circumstances, (Solberg, Skaala, Nilsen, & Glover; 2013; Harvey et al., 2016).

Aquaculture does represent a drain on wild fisheries as 20 million tons of the world’s fish catch is used for fishmeal rather than human consumption and of that, 70% goes to farmed fish, (Cashion, Le Manach, Zeller, & Pauly, 2017). The demand for fishmeal used in salmon aquaculture is approximately 6 million tons per year, (Brady, 2018). Fishmeal was once mostly ground up fish, species that humans did not want to eat referred to as “trash” fish. However, some researchers feel that 90% of the “trash” fish that is used for fishmeal, could be used to feed humans, (Leschin-Hoar, 2017). Aside from the fishmeal being unsustainable, it results in bycatch of endangered animals. Enter insect-based feed. A feed company in the Netherlands has come up with a feed made from Black Soldier fly larva, (Brady, 2018). The upside in addition to reducing demand on feed fish is that the larvae don’t have the toxicant exposures that feed fish have, thus, there will be less contamination in the farmed fish. This replaces the protein from the fish part of fishmeal but doesn’t replace the source of healthy fats. In answer to the need for omega-3s in the fishmeal, algal oil production and subsequent supplementation is proposed for omega-3 fatty acids which should drastically reduce dependence on fish in the fishmeal, (DSM, 2017). Further reduction or perhaps the elimination of fish in fishmeal would go a long way towards restoring global fish population, (Beal et al., 2018).

Omega-3 fatty acids

To reduce the need for fish in the fishmeal, producers began to add grains such as corn and soy. This is problematic as it is species inappropriate and requires the addition of several synthesized enzymes to make it digestible, (DSM, n.d.-b) and it alters the fatty acid profile of the fish, (Sprague, Dick, & Tocher, 2016), however, there is enough fish in the fishmeal that farmed salmon have the equivalent omega-3 as wild, (WASDOH, n.d.-b). Further, algae and algal oil production for fishmeal can supply the needed amino acids and omega-3 fatty acids, and such production facilities are underway, (Beal et al., 2018; DSM, 2017).

Many modifications have been proposed to create low contaminant, sustainable, robust fish farms, but what is needed are government regulations and adherence to best practice standards set by global authorities in all nations, (Martinez-Porchas & Martinez-Cordova, 2012; FAO, 2018). When best practices are observed, farmed fish are a nutritious and affordable dietary option as well as a means of restoring wild populations.

Gretchen Kurtenacker, MS, MLS(ASCP), MT(AMT), NTP(NTA) is a Medical Laboratory Scientist who holds a B.S. from the University of Cincinnati in Clinical Laboratory Science, an M.S. in Health & Nutrition Education from Hawthorn University and is currently working on a D.Sc. in Holistic Nutrition, also from Hawthorn University. Her interests include food anthropology, food & the environment, and elder nourishment. Gretchen lives in the First Hill neighborhood of Seattle where she enjoys the incredible selection of local, artisanal, sustainable foods available within walking distance of her home.

References for Part 1

American Heart Association. (2016). Fish and omega-3 fatty acids. Retrieved from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/General/Fish-and-Omega-3-Fatty-Acids_UCM_303248_Article.jsp#.XSC4n-tKiUk

Beal, C. M., Gerber, L. N., Thongrod, S., Phromkunthong, W., Kiron, V., Granados, J., …Huntley, M.E. (2018). Marine microalgae commercial production improves sustainability of global fisheries and aquaculture. Scientific Reports 8(1).

Brady, H. (2018). Why salmon eating insects instead of fish is better for environment. Retrieved from

Cashion, T., Le Manach, F., Zeller, D., & Pauly, D. (2017, Feb 13). Most fish destined for fishmeal production are food‐grade fish. Fish and Fisheries 18:837–844. https://doi.org/10.1111/faf.12209

CDC. (2012, March 16) CDC’s second nutrition report: A comprehensive biochemical assessment of the nutrition status of the U.S. population. Retrieved from

Drake, V. J. (2017). Micronutrient inadequacies in the US population: An overview. Retrieved from

DSM. (n.d.-b) Feed cost savings. Retrieved from https://www.dsm.com/markets/anh/en_US/species/species-aquaculture/species-aquaculture-feedcostsavings.html

DSM. (2017, March 8) Press Release: DSM and Evonik establish joint venture for omega-3 fatty acids from natural marine algae for animal nutrition. Retrieved from https://www.dsm.com/corporate/media/informationcenter-news/2017/03/2017-03-08-dsm-and-evonik-establish-joint-venture-for-omega-3-fatty-acids-from-natural-marine-algae-for-animal-nutrition.html

Food and Agriculture Organization, (2018, July 9). Is the planet approaching "peak fish"? Not so fast, study says. Retrieved from http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/1144274/icode/

Food and Agriculture Organization. (n.d.). FAO's role in aquaculture: Aquaculture development. Retrieved from http://www.fao.org/aquaculture/en/

Food and Drug Administration. (2019). Advice about eating fish: For women who are or might become pregnant, breastfeeding mothers, and young children. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/food/consumers/advice-about-eating-fish

Harvard School of Public Health. (2019). Fish: Friend or foe? Retrieved from

Harvey, A. C., Monica, F. S., Troianou, E., Carvalho, G. R., Taylor, M. I., Creer, S., . . . Glover, K. A. (2016). Plasticity in growth of farmed and wild Atlantic salmon: Is the increased growth rate of farmed salmon caused by evolutionary adaptations to the commercial diet? BMC Evolutionary Biology, 16. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12862-016-0841-7

Holt, M., Campbell, R. J., Nikitin, M. B. (2012). Congressional Research Service: Fukushima nuclear disaster. Retrieved from https://fas.org/sgp/crs/nuke/R41694.pdf

Karlsson, S., Diserud, O. H., Fiske, P., & Hindar, K. (2016). Widespread genetic introgression of escaped farmed Atlantic salmon in wild salmon populations, ICES Journal of Marine Science, 73, (10), 2488–2498. https://doi.org/10.1093/icesjms/fsw121

Kelly, B. C., Ikonomou, M. G., Higgs, D. A., Oakes, J. & Dubetz, C. (2008). Mercury and other trace elements in farmed and wild salmon from British Columbia. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 27(6).

Kelly, B. C., Ikonomou, M. G., Higgs, D. A., Oakes, J. & Dubetz, C. (2008). Mercury and other trace elements in farmed and wild salmon from British Columbia. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 27(6).

Leschin-Hoar. C. (2017, Feb 13). 90 Percent of fish we use for fishmeal could be used to feed humans instead. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2017/02/13/515057834/90-percent-of-fish-we-use-for-fishmeal-could-be-used-to-feed-humans-instead

Martinez-Porchas, M. & Martinez-Cordova, L. R. (2012). World aquaculture: Environmental impacts and troubleshooting alternatives. The Scientific World Journal 2012 #389623. Doi: 10.1100/2012/389623

Megdal, P.A., Craft, N.A. & Handelman, G.J. (2009). A simplified method to distinguish farmed (Salmo salar) from wild salmon: Fatty acid ratios versus astaxanthin chiral isomers. Lipids 44(6): 569–576. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11745-009-3294-6

Solberg, M. F., Skaala, Ø, Nilsen, F., & Glover, K. A. (2013). Does domestication cause changes in growth reaction norms? A study of farmed, wild and hybrid Atlantic salmon families exposed to environmental stress. PLoS One, 8(1) doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0054469

Sprague, M., Dick, J., & Tocher, D. (2016). Impact of sustainable feeds on omega-3 long-chain fatty acid levels in farmed Atlantic salmon, 2006-2015. Nature Scientific Reports 6, 21892. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep21892

Washington State Department of Health. (n.d.-a). Contaminants in fish. Retrieved from https://www.doh.wa.gov/CommunityandEnvironment/Food/Fish/ContaminantsinFish

Washington State Department of Health. (n.d.-b). Farmed salmon vs. wild salmon. Retrieved from https://www.doh.wa.gov/CommunityandEnvironment/Food/Fish/FarmedSalmon

Washington State Department of Health. (n.d.-c). Health benefits of fish. Retrieved from

Photo Credit:
US Environmental Protection Agency. (July 2010). Spawning male sockeye, Public Domain. Retrieved from https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51971558

Watch Expanding Your Reach - Moving from a Business-to-Consumer Marketing Model to a Business-to-Business Approach with Catie Fitzgerald

When Catie Fitzgerald started her studies at Hawthorn University, she envisioned using her education to start a private practice offering nutrition consulting and health coaching to women searching for evidence-based solutions to wellness in midlife. While working with practice clients as part of the MSHN curriculum, Catie realized that working one-on-one meant she could only help a finite number of women. She sought a way to expand her reach and help more women than she could assist on her own.  

Join us as we welcome Hawthorn MSHN graduate (2018) Catie Fitzgerald for her All About Alumni presentation Expanding Your Reach: Moving from a Business-to-Consumer Marketing Model to a Business-to-Business Approach. Catie's webinar recording is now available to watch in our new AAA Webinar Archives.

In this interview, Catie shares how she leveraged her 20+ years of instructional design experience to create a business-to-business model that provides health and wellness practitioners with a turnkey education and coaching program to help women make a graceful transition through menopause. She also shares her vision for creating an online learning library covering the chronic diseases for which women face an increased risk in midlife such as osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.  

Catie will touch upon her pie-in-the-sky strategy for offering the online education and action plan programs through the mainstream, insurance-industry supported groups such as Kaiser Permanente and corporate wellness providers. She knows it takes a village to make this vision a reality and she invites you to be part of that village!

Catie (Catherine) M. Fitzgerald is a Holistic Nutritionist and a certified Primal Health Coach who specializes in helping women make a graceful transition through menopause. She works in private practice, offering one-on-one coaching, group health quests, and public education. Catie graduated from Hawthorn University in December 2018, completing a Master of Science in Holistic Nutrition. 
As a Holistic Nutritionist and Primal Health Coach, she presented her program Primal Pause as a scientific poster at the 2019 annual conferences for the NANP (National Association of Nutrition Professionals) and the Institute for Function Medicine. Her thesis title is An Educational Program and Ancestral Diet and Lifestyle Action Plan for North American Women in the Menopause Transition.

When she isn’t teaching women how to deploy an ancestral diet and lifestyle, you can find her in her organic veggie garden nurturing her plant babies, devouring (with her eyes and brain – she doesn’t eat paper) a food-/nutrition-related book, or joyfully whipping up a delicious nutritious meal for her family.

Her turnkey education and coaching program for practitioners — Primal Pause — opens for registration online in October 2019. Click here to receive launch updates, registration details, and discounts. 

In addition to her work in health and wellness, Catie designs training for businesses seeking to develop their employees’ skills and improve job performance. She is a Certified 4MAT Instructional Design Practitioner and a certified facilitator of Achieve Global Leadership & Customer Service Training Program.  

To learn more about Catie, visit her LinkedIn profile at https://www.linkedin.com/in/catie-fitzgerald or https://www.enhancedhealthsolutions.com.

Catie Fitzgerald
MSHN Graduate 2018

Methylation, MTHFR, and Histamine with Chris Masterjohn, PhD

Methylation is a process vital to both mental and physical health. It has many roles, but most powerfully affects phosphotidylcholine, which is needed for liver and gall bladder health; creatine, needed for strength and muscularity; for dopamine, important to movement and motivation; for histamine, important to anxiety, alertness, digestive health, and symptoms of allergies; for many less appreciated roles in mental health, digestion, skin health, and more.

Chris Masterjohn, PhD joins us for Methylation, MTHFR, and Histamine, Wednesday October 9, 2019 at 4 PM Pacific.

Methylation centrally uses vitamin B12, folate (vitamin B9), and choline, with additional roles for thiamin (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), and niacin (vitamin B3) and for several minerals. 

The lesson will cover common polymorphisms in the MTHFR enzyme and the under-appreciated role of riboflavin status in the outcome of these polymorphisms. Chris will field questions on these topics as well as on histamine more generally.

Learning Objectives:
Identify the most important purposes of the methylation pathway;
Identify the vitamins and minerals used by the pathway;
Recognize signs and symptoms that could be impacted by methylation;
Develop nutritional strategies to help people with methylation-related signs and symptoms.

Chris Masterjohn earned his PhD in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Connecticut in the summer of 2012. Chris served as a postdoctoral research associate in the Comparative Biosciences department of the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and also served as Assistant Professor of Health and Nutrition Sciences at Brooklyn College, part of the City University of New York.

Chris now works on his own, conducting independent research, consulting, working on information products, collaborating on information and technology products, and producing tons of free content to help people gain better health. He has a deep and personal experiences with the power of food, movement, and mindfulness to support health and well being. He wants to take what he’s learned and pay it forward.

If you have a question for Dr. Masterjohn on this topic, please email it to paulab@hawthornuniversity.org.

Disclaimer: The webinars may present information that does not fully reflect Hawthorn University’s philosophy. Nonetheless, these presentations have been chosen because of their overall quality of information.

Chris Masterjohn, PhD