Supply Side West 2012

supply side west logoIn November, I attended Supply Side West, the global expo and conference, gathering together over 1,500 ingredient suppliers and buyers from around the world.


supply side expo







Here I am with the DSM MEG-3supply side west exhibit.


The Expo was abuzz with numerous topics of education, discussion, and conversation. Most impressive and exciting from my perspective, however, were four key areas:
1) Impending Federal involvement in the regulation of the dietary supplement industry
2) Sustainability, and the use of this goal as a marketing strategy
3) GMO: future propositions and the effects on this market and the conventional market
4) Cause Marketing: Using charity to pad the bottom line, with a conscience

Look for more of my points of view to come in interviews, discussions, and articles exploring these topics here on this site and in industry publications!

In addition, I always look forward to seeing the progress made by Vitamin Angels in their mission to alleviate micro-deficiency in children worldwide.  I love to support this organization and encourage individuals and businesses alike to do the same. So much can be done for so many even with a minimum donation. Please check it out here at Vitamin Angels
Amber at AmberLynnVitale

Natural Approaches to Preventing Stress and Anxiety


Natural Practitioner – January/February 2012

“Natural Approaches to Preventing Stress and Anxiety” – Janet Poveromo


Ayurvedic practitioner Amber Vitse, LMT, CN, director of ayurveda education at New York-based Nature’s Formulary, said well-recognized, commonly used herbs for stress are shankh pushpi (for mood and anxiety in Vata and Pitta dominant types) and ashwagandha (an adaptogen for stress management in Vata and Kapha types predominantly).

Vitse explained that shankh pushpi helps with mental stress and rejuvenating the mind, improving memory and concentration. “It can be used in mental and emotional exhaustion. Like brahmi or gotu kola, it increases circulation to the brain.”

An adrenal adaptogen, ashwagandha helps the body to physiologically manage stress. “Likened to ginseng, it aids in physical exhaustion or debility, but also in stress-induced insomnia,”Vitse said, also recommending pranayama, or breathing exercises, as suitable for each doshic imbalance.

“Chyawanprash is excellent for helping the body, especially the immune system, cope with the side effects of stress,” she said. “Bhringaraj and brahmi are excellent calming nervines good for all three doshas, and are often found in oil for application and inhalation. Tulsi is another favorite adaptogen for relieving stress and balancing the immune system, and there are several different kinds.”

Chyawanprash is a potent antioxidant paste, created by the synergistic blending of over 40 herbs and spices. “Due to the tannoid complexes that form in the preparation of this formulation, the vitamin C in the mix is much more potent and absorbable than ascorbic acid alone,” said Vitse. “Brahmi purges toxins and blockages from the nervous system, and can aid in all kinds of addictions and habits. Yogis take it to promote a clearer mind and improve meditation, as can any of us.”

Nature’s Formulary offers shankh pushpi and ashwagandha, sustainably wildcrafted or organic, and chyawanprash produced from the original recipe used for thousands of years. “Look for brahmi and bhringaraj oils, brahmi ghee, or teas,”Vitse added.“Many great companies produce tulsi, but it is quite enjoyable as a tea.”

Read the entire article here.

Wildcrafted and Organic Herbs and Spices for Improved Digestion

Herbs and spices have long been used in food preparation in various cultural traditions. They not only improve digestion and assimilation, but often have antibacterial, antiparasitic, or antifungal effects, helping out the immune system in the process. In Western herbalism, digestive herbs are often stimulating, pungent or spicy, and have a hot energy.  These most powerfully stimulate the digestive fire, and  destroy or digest ama (toxins). They are, however, related to nerve stimulants and are not to be used as a compensation for abusing one’s digestive system! They are to support functional weakness in the digestive tract and to assist in digesting and assimilating foods so that more nutrients are available to build and repair the body. Overused, they can increase hypertension or cause insomnia, and are contraindicated where dehydration or inflammation of mucous membranes is present.

For nervous constitutions prone to schedule and sleeping irregularities and sporadic appetites, some digestives include ajwan (celery seed), asafoetida or hing, black pepper, prickly ash (trifolia), and ginger.

For a heavier, more congested and phlegmatic constitution with slow digestion and a tendency toward a coated tongue, the above are useful, but cayenne, cinnamon, cloves, horseradish, garlic, mustard, onion, and pippali (longpepper) are all the more effective.

In the West, herbal bitter tonics with a cold energy are also often used, the idea being that the body will respond by hyping up the heat internally.  These are better for the constitution that is already fiery by nature, with tendencies toward inflammation and high blood pressure, as they are stimulating but do not provide heat directly.  They are contraindicated for the thinner, weaker, more nervous and dry constitutional types, and for children in large amounts.  Some examples include  aloe vera, barberry, gentian, golden seal, peruvian bark, and kutki and neem in Ayurvedic herbs.

Another category of digestives that includes more gentle spices, as used in the Ayurvedic tradition, is carminatives.  These help reduce gas and bloating, and settle digestion.  In the process, they increase assimilation and help with appetite in those needing some stimulation. It is often the volatile oils in these aromatic spices that simulate the gastrointestinal nerves to encourage digestion and move accumulated undigested food particles along before they build up into ama, or toxins. These are especially good for weak digestion due to anxiety, nervousness, or depression. A great idea is to make these into a churna, or spice blend, in a shaker or dispenser that can be added to food instead of salt after cooking, or is readily accessible to be used while preparing the foods.

For those of the drier, more nervous nature or who tend to be of a colder body temperature, a savory mix can be made with ajwan, hing, garlic, ginger, oregano, thyme, basil, turmeric, bay leaves, and juniper berries, adding calamus or valerian if more calming is needed for the digestive or nervous system. A bit of sea or rock salt in the mix is acceptable as well.  A sweeter mix of cloves, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cardamom, and orange peel can be used on cooked cereals, in warmed milk, and with fruits or fruit purees.

For the hotter, more inflammatory nature, cooling carminatives are indicated. This  churna can include herbs and spices like chamomile, catnip, cumin, peppermint or spearmint, fennel, dill, wintergreen, coriander, lime peel, and even chrysanthemum and nutgrass (musta). It is best for this “higher blood pressure” type to avoid salt, sorry! The sweet food version could contain the coriander, mint, and fennel, and could actually include vanilla.

The best way to include these herbs and spices into your health is in your food or in teas. A combination is often more beneficial than using one at a time. Use this information to make an educated choice based upon your constitutional tendencies, rather than just on your symptoms, and be sure to look for products that are either Certified Organic or Wildcrafted. Many herbs and spices come from places all over the world.  Checking on the source becomes extremely important as it can directly affect your health, not to mention the future availability of these plants.  Herbs, especially, draw all kinds of minerals and metals from their soil and can often exist where more tender vegetables fail.  “Certified organic” means that no toxic and persistent pesticides or herbicides were used in a spice or an herb’s production. Organic standards require the use of organic seeds, natural fertilizers, and crop-rotation, among other farming practices that protect environmental health. And organic prohibits irradiation, a process that uses radioactive gamma rays to kill certain bacteria and pathogens and is often used on imported products. Wildcrafted herbs and spices were gathered at least a half-mile away from roadways in pollution-free habitats at low risk for erosion. The harvest was safe for other plant and animal life. Companies that carry bulk herbs and spices that are organic or wildcrafted are often dedicated to promoting sustainability and fair trade in the countries and communities they source from. Your local health food store may buy bulk herbs from one of these companies and make them available in their bulk section for you to buy a few ounces at a time and experiment. But check with the store directly.

You can see some brief instructions on cooking with spices on the video posted here on our site.

©Copyright 2012,  By Amber Lynn Vitse for Taste For Life Magazine

Understanding Ashwagandha

I used to work in a clinic as a medical assistant, a hectic and stressful situation. There are the demands of the position itself, of each doctor and of the patients—all needing to be met to both personal and professional satisfaction. One doctor in particular really drove me crazy. He was always behind, losing things, changing the schedule and in all ways interrupting the necessary order of things for a smoothly running machine. I finally sought help in the form of a supplement to help with the effects of stress. The formula I used contained a blend of just a few substances and I found it relieved my agitation within an hour. I would rush to the file room where I kept my “stash” to take a couple tablets and get back to a state in which I could deal with everything without feeling I might explode. With regular use, I found I coped better overall with multi-level demands, and I had a consistent energy level. One of the main ingredients in the blend was Ashwagandha. Later on, I discovered using the herb on its own was also hugely successful.

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), also known as winter cherry, has long been touted as the best rejuvenative in the Ayurvedic pharmacopeia. Understanding the beneficial tonifying effects of Ashwagandha also provides an understanding of how stress, overwork and adrenal fatigue affect the reproductive organs, libido, immunity and vitality. Ojas (a vital energy) is depleted by anger, worry and sorrow, as well as overwork and overstimulation. Ashwagandha increases vital energy by strengthening the reproductive organs. The vital energy generated in the reproductive organs creates a reserve that in turn feeds other systems of the body that are responsible for combating stress, and enhancing immunity and well-being. Ashwagandha’s effect on the reproductive organs promotes a healthy libido and fertility. In Sanskrit, Ashwagandha translates as “smell of a horse,” and this type of tonic is said to impart the strength and vitality of a horse, and is especially rejuvenating for muscle, marrow, semen and bone.

On another note, Ashwagandha is great for sleep. It is sattvic in nature, meaning it promotes the clear nature of the mind. During the day, Ashwagandha nurtures and clarifies the mind and promotes strong mental activity. At night, it is calming, and is said to promote deep, dreamless sleep. In this case, dreamless means free of agitation, concerns and worries. One of the side benefits I notice when I take an evening dose to combat stress and overwork faced during the day is that my sleep is more sound and deep, and therefore more restful. Good sleep also leads to more vitality, less illness, better stress-management and a biological age younger than our years.

As with almost all medicines, both natural and man-made, there are a few precautions. If a person is quite ill, on a number of medications and their bodily organs aren’t functioning well, it is best to let an experienced herbal medicine practitioner decide what is best. A person who is quite obese and suffering overall congestion as experienced in chronic constipation, lung and sinus congestion, head congestion and constant headaches may need to pursue other therapies first with a health practitioner before he can benefit from an herb like Ashwagandha.

It is usually recommended to take between 600 and 1,000 mg/d of standardized Ashwagandha. It can be taken with warm water or herbal tea, but it has a better tonifying effect and is carried to the reproductive tissues if taken with a warm milky substance (cow’s milk, almond milk, oat milk, rice milk, etc.) and a pinch of raw sugar or honey.

Ashwagandha is beneficial to all three doshas, although it is especially indicated for the Vata dosha, which is more easily depleted and worn out and tends to need more regular tonification.

Modern society throws almost all of us out of balance. It can sap our vitality and make us susceptible to disease. Many consumers use coffee and other stimulants to get through life, but that often leads to a crash. An herb such as Ashwagandha becomes extremely important in this day and age. It is ideal for the person who feels stressed, extremely busy, overwhelmed, tired or even exhausted, but is still functioning and trying to get the job done. With the rise in interest in slowing down the aging process, and in living stronger and healthier into old age, Ashwagandha is sure to become a popular herb.

Amber Lynn Vitse is a certified nutritionist and Ayurvedic practitioner based in Knoxville, TN


“Understanding Ashwagandha”

©Copyright 2012,  By Amber Lynn Vitse  – To Get Pregnant Quick