Ashwagandha – Herb to Fight Many Disorders, Including Cancer

Ashwagandha is an herb from the Solanaceae family that is used for many conditions including arthritis, anxiety, insomnia and respiratory conditions (emphysema, asthma). It is also used for conditions associated with immune-compromised diseases, like cancer, AIDS and neurological diseases.


Effective Against Cancer

Ashwagandha as an adaptogenic formula is very effective for patients with cancer, during and after chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. Its immune-modulating properties are well documented in the research.

  1. Research shows that ashwagandha can help increase white blood cells and platelets and raise antibody responses and red blood cells in animals as well as help guard against immune suppression resulting from chemotherapy and radiation.

(Agarwal R, Diwanay S, Patki P, Patwardhan B, 1999, Studies on immuno-modulatory activity of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) extracts in experimental immune inflammation, J Ethnopharmacol Oct;67(1):27-35)

Ziauddin M, Phansalkar N, Patki P, Diwanay S, Patwardhan B, 1996, Studies on the immuno-modulatory effects of Ashwagandha, J Ethnopharmacol Feb;50(2):69-76

Davis L, Kuttan G, 2000, Effect of Withania somnifera on cyclophosphamide-induced urotoxicity, Cancer Lett Jan 1;148(1):9-17

  1. Other research using animal models shows the anti-tumor and radiation-sensitizing properties of Ashwagandha through the alcoholic extract of the dried roots of the plant and its antioxidant and detoxifying properties. This helps prevent systemic toxicity from radiation and chemotherapy agents.

Prakash J, Gupta SK, Kochupillai V, Singh N, Gupta YK, Joshi S., 2001, Chemopreventive activity of Withania somnifera in experimentally induced fibrosarcoma tumors in Swiss albino mice, Phytother Res May;15(3):240-4  

 Devi PU, Sharada AC, Solomon FE, Kamath MS, 1992, In vivo growth inhibitory effect of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) on a transplantable mouse tumor, Sarcoma 180. Indian J Exp Biol Mar;30(3):169-72

 Devi PU, 1996, Withania somnifera Dunal (Ashwagandha): potential plant source of a promising drug for cancer chemotherapy and radiosensitization, Indian J Exp Biol Oct;34(10):927-32

 Khuttan G, 1996, Use of Withania somnifera Dunal as an adjuvant during radiation therapy, Indian J Exp Biol Sep;34(9):854-6

  1. Research also shows that Withaferin-A – bioactive compound from Ashwagandha offers anti-tumor properties and is effective in inhibiting breast cancer, prostate and colon cancer cells and some brain cancers (glioblastoma)

Lahat G, Zhu QS, Huang KL, Wang S, Bolshakov S, Liu J, Torres K, Langley RR, Lazar AJ, Hung MC, Lev D. Vimentin is a novel anti-cancer therapeutic target; insights from in vitro and in vivo mice xenograft studies, PLoS One. 2010 Apr 16;5(4):e10105.

 Hahm ER, Moura MB, Kelley EE, Van Houten B, Shiva S, Singh SV. Withaferin A-induced apoptosis in human breast cancer cells is mediated by reactive oxygen species. PLoS One. 2011;6(8):e23354. Epub 2011 Aug 10.

(Source: Donald Yance’s research summary of Ashwagandha root (Withania somnifera))




Posted in Cancer, Herbal medicine Tagged with:

Dr. Stephany Porter Completes Wilderness Medicine Field Course

Dr. Stephany Porter attends Wilderness Medicine Field Course

Dr. Stephany Porter attends Wilderness Medicine Field Course

Dr. Porter just completed WMFC (Wilderness Medicine Field Course) with Dr. Ellen Smith, MD, FACEP.

A must do for any outdoors enthusiast. You will learn how to handle medical emergencies in the field and what to carry that could save you or another’s life.  It is intense and worth every minute.  

For more information, go to the WMFC website here

Posted in Wilderness Medicine Tagged with: ,

Why is My Liver Waking Me Up?

Is your liver upset?

Is your liver upset?

Have you been waking up in the middle of the night with sweats and restlessness and unable to go back to sleep for an hour or more? If so, it may be your liver talking to you.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, a Chinese “meridian clock” shows what time of a day each organ is most active.

1 am – 3 am – Liver

11pm – 1 am – Gallbladder

Your liver and gallbladder cover half the night.

If your liver is waking you up at night, there may be physical and emotional reasons.

From the emotional side, the liver represents anger, frustration and resentment. If stress and emotional turmoil is a constant presence for you, then your liver may be trying to help you workout these feelings and be doing it on liver time – the middle of the night.

From the physical side, you could be suffering from a fatty liver or Nonalcoholic fatty liver (NAFL), especially if you’re eating a lot of processed food that has loads of sugar and trans fat. The liver is supposed to have some fat but if it exceeds 10 percent of your liver’s weight than it is a problem. And sugar shoots up your insulin levels, which make your liver work harder at eliminating the excess amount of chemicals the sugar overload produces.

Too much alcohol can also lead to a fatty liver.

If you’re not eating well and are stressed, your liver will become toxic and will work overtime to find homeostasis. There are ways to specifically detox the liver

For information on detoxing your liver with Dr. Porter, check out this post on detoxing your body and mind 

In the meantime, we can’t control much of life’s outside stresses but we can try to arm our bodies with good food, good spirit and some helpful supplements.

If you’re waking up, try these tips to see if any of them relieve your insomnia and improve your sleep.

Helpful Tips:

  • Ashwaganda – an herb that modulates emotions, promotes relaxation and helps the body dissipate stress.
  • NAC – N-acetyl cysteine is a potent precursor to glutathione, a powerful antioxidant. It is given to patients who overdose.
  • Milk Thistle – Silymarin is a natural detoxifier for the liver and biliary tract. Add dandelion for more of an effect. – detoxifies liver and promote glutathione production. Glutathione is the precursor to many antioxidants.
  • Soak feet/ankles in hot water. Put some Epsom salt and lavender oil to make it more relaxing.
  • Exercise – find a routine you can stick to, whether it is joining a club or meeting with friends or doing a DVD workout. Anything that gets you moving improves circulation, which helps the body detoxify.
  • Eat whole, natural foods. This helps support the liver especially the cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, cabbage, kale and cauliflower.




Posted in Detoxification, Liver, Sleep Tagged with: ,

Mushrooms – Will They Make the Super-Food List?


There has been a new focus and attention placed on mushrooms in many arenas lately. They have a fascinating history and have proven to tantalize us with their multitude of faces, abilities, toxicities and healing qualities.   If you forage for mushrooms, picking the wrong one could lead to your death, some are quite toxic.

Mushrooms have been used traditionally in most societies including China, Japan, Russia and Central America. They tend to like dark damp places and are a fungi that reproduce with spores. There are edible, toxic, medicinal and psychoactive mushrooms. On your table eaten as food they provide minerals, fiber and vitamins. In the fermented form they are full of probiotics. Antibiotic medications like penicillin and streptomycin are derived from fungal extracts. In the spirit world, they have been used by Shamans as sacrament in rituals aimed at mental and physical healing and to facilitate visionary states. In the cancer world, they are being researched for their immune modulation abilities and are becoming a common part of many cancer treatments.

For the anti-cancer effect, the most common mushrooms being used and researched include Reishi, Turkey tail, Cordiceps, agaricus and oyster. The active constituents identified to date seem to come from the polysaccharides, polysaccharide peptides, and proteins. PSK found in Turkey tail (Trametes versicolor formerly Coriolus versicolor) has been shown to have anti-cancer effects in breast, colon and gastric caner cell lines.   Beta-glucans, a polysaccharide found in Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) and Agaracus (Agaricus blazei), have been shown to modulate and improve the immune system. The various cytokine patterns they affect slow tumor growth, regulate tumor genes, boost chemotherapeutic efficacy and protect against bone marrow suppression.

Because mushrooms are so efficient at absorbing minerals and nutrients out of the soil, it is important to eat organically grown mushrooms. Just as they concentrate minerals and other important metals they also concentrate toxic heavy metals.

So balance out your diet and improve your health by adding medicinal mushrooms to your meals on a regular basis. Shitake mushrooms make a wonderful gravy or addition to a stir-fry vegetable dish. Maitake mushrooms are a good source of dietary fiber, folate, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc making a nutritious addition to a soup. You can find mushrooms fresh or dried in your favorite grocery store. Pick a few up and try something new.


Posted in Cancer, Food, Healthy Habits Tagged with: ,

Endocrine Disruptors and Your Health


worst-endocrine-disruptors-fbThe average American is exposed to 250 chemicals before they walk out their door in the morning. How, you may ask?   Look at the ingredients in your toothpaste, shampoo, crème rinse, soap, cosmetics, shaving crème, body lotions, breakfast cereal, hand wash, and cleaning products to name a few. Remember, your skin is an organ of absorption and excretion and anything placed on it has the potential to be absorbed.   Certain pharmaceuticals and hormones are now prescribed topically for this reason. Alternatives to these chemical laden products include homemade products. Rosemary Gladstar (link to website) is an amazing herbalist with many books and website references on natural products. If time is of the essence, find your local health food store or food cooperative and see what they have on the shelves, the less ingredients the better. Jojoba oil is an excellent moisturizer for the skin and contains one ingredient. White vinegar is an excellent cleaner for the house and can handle most jobs based on changing the concentration and Citrosolve (made from oranges) can come to the rescue when grease is involved.

Chemicals and metals have been known to be dangerous to our health for centuries, so why then do companies keep putting them in our food, cosmetics, fertilizers, pesticides and pharmaceuticals. More importantly, why do WE keep buying and using them?

An endocrine disruptor is a chemical or metal that affects our body in many ways. Endocrine Disruptors may act like a hormone, alter our internal production of hormones (increasing or decreasing), turn one hormone into another, tell a cell to prematurely die, interfere with hormone signaling, bind to essential hormones and/or accumulates in organs. How is that for disruptive!!!

The top 12 Endocrine Disruptors, also know as the dirty dozen, are as follows: BPA (Bisphenol-A), Dioxin, Atrazine, Phthalate’s, perchlorate, polybrominated diphenyl ethers or PBDEs (Fire retardants), lead, mercury, arsenic, perfluorinated chemicals, organophosphate pesticides and glycol ethers. You can download a brochure from The Environmental Working Group – ( ) with more details on each one and how to avoid them. I highly recommend everyone spends more time on this website. EWG has been educating the public on the damaging effects of chemicals and offering solutions to avoid them since 1992. The detrimental effects of lead and mercury have been documented for centuries, however more recently they have been associated with endocrine disruption including infertility.

Many are familiar with BPA and phthalates for they are prolific in plastic containers and children’s toys and have been banned in many products and associated with increased risk of cancer. One trick you can do to decrease production of plastics is to carry a stainless steel mug to use for tea, coffee or water. You can store leftover food in glass containers rather than plastic. Another resource available to decrease the use of plastic in your home is BioBags, (, which are biodegradable and made from plants, vegetable oils and compostable polymers. They are available on line in the form of trash, compost, and doggy waste bags.

If you are still not convinced of the severity of this problem and the need to have all toxic chemicals banned from use, take a look at the World Health Organization (WHO) publication which was co-produced with the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) called “State of the Science of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals.” ( They reviewed the research and determined at least 800 chemicals are known or expected to affect the endocrine system and the increase in the occurrence of diseases over the past few decades is not due to genetic factors, therefore is due to our environment. The research shows these chemicals increase the risk for cancer (breast, thyroid, prostate), developmental effects on the nervous system/brain, attention deficit hyperactivity in children, non-descended testicles in young men, developmental effects on the nervous system in children, and infertility in humans and animals, to name a few.

So get to work and remove as many of these chemicals from your house and life as possible. You are the consumer and therefore if you stop purchasing products made from these endocrine disruptors, the companies will stop making them.


In Health,

Stephany Porter, ND, FABNO

The Bodhi Clinic

Posted in Endocrine, Toxicity Tagged with: ,

Naturopaths Soon To Be Licensed in Maryland – Baltimore Style Article Profiles Journey

Naturopath_imageA landmark decision is about to happen for naturopaths in Maryland. Naturopathic doctors in Maryland will join the ranks of other medical professionals when they become licensed in March 2016. After four years of tireless efforts from naturopaths and their supporters, Maryland will become the 17th state (along with Washington, DC., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands) to license naturopathic doctors. The Maryland Board of Physicians will regulate the licenses. There are 25 naturopathic doctors in Maryland who currently are limited to making wellness recommendations. In March, they will be able to expand their role to perform physical and laboratory tests, order and interpret tests (like X-rays and MRI scans) and be eligible for insurance reimbursements.

Like doctors, naturopaths attend a four-year naturopathic medical school where they learn about conventional, Western medicine and also learn about alternative, natural therapies and train in primary care. They find the best treatment for their patients using patient’s health history, nutrition patterns, sleep habits and likely culprits of stress. Treatments include nutrition and lifestyle recommendations along with supplements to boost the body’s natural healing abilities.

As you all know, my practice along with other naturopaths emphasize treating the whole person through prevention strategies and natural therapies. Kudos to all my fellow naturopaths and supporters who helped get this law passed. As Dr. Lauren Richter, DO at the University of Maryland School of Medicine said in the Baltimore Style article, naturopaths are an integral part of a team of healthcare providers and the public is going to benefit.”

To read the entire article in Baltimore Style click HERE

Posted in Naturopath, Naturopathic doctor, Naturopathic medicine, News Tagged with: , ,

Detox Your Body and Mind for the New Year

detox-photo_smallWe have all heard about detoxing and its importance, well it is true. I typically recommend people complete 2-4 per year lasting anywhere from 3 days to 3 weeks. Although there are a plethora of ways to detox, I have found over the last 15 years that a whole foods detox with education on appropriate lifestyle changes teaches a way to live forever not just 3 weeks. A detox should be a time to allow the organs to rest and relax and should not be focused on weight loss or deprivation.

A detox is an opportunity for the body to decrease internal toxins produced, receive less external toxins and increase the ability to move and remove as many toxins as possible. We live in an increasingly polluted world full of chemicals, emotional garbage and stagnation due to decreased movement of our body, mind and spirit. Candace Pert, PhD and John Upledger, DO were two pioneers in uncovering how the cells can hold memories and become toxic if not addressed. We are in a critical time of healing not only as individuals but also as humans living on this beautiful planet called earth. A detox is a huge step you can take to start releasing and healing.

Toxins build up in 3 major ways in our body: internally, externally and mentally-emotionally. Internal toxins occur in a healthy body during cellular metabolism and are typically cleared quickly. If we are dealing with health issues; for example, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, or depression these may build up and accumulate at a higher rate over time. External toxins are rampant and a serious problem that we face and must deal with in the 21st century. These man-made chemicals are often unnecessary and typically have a healthier alternative. Some examples include pesticides, car exhaust, plastics, chemical compounds used in body care products, anti-fungals, nuclear waste and cosmetics to name a few. The most recent studies in the US and Canada of cord blood from newborns found more than 237 chemicals, an alarming increase from earlier studies. If your organs are taxed or not functioning properly, for example the liver or gastrointestinal system, we will also accumulate toxins. The mental-emotional health of an individual or community has been discussed by philosophers and spiritual practices for thousands of years, and has been moved to the forefront of health care with current research showing its effect on bodily systems and organs. For example laughter may improve longevity based on its effect on telomeres. The spoken word or a mere thought is far more powerful to heal or harm than ever imagined. Therefore simply changing our thoughts can decrease the internal toxins we must deal with on a daily basis. This includes what we think or say about others and more importantly, what we think or say about ourselves.

A detox should allow the body, mind and spirit to rest and therefore have time and energy to cleanse and strengthen itself.   At the Bodhi Clinic, we offer a 3 week detox twice a year to help you learn how this process works and the intricacies of how your body may react during this time. A detox can be very powerful and life changing when done appropriately. When the body has a heavy burden of toxins and/or major health challenges, a detox can be a difficult experience and the guidance of a professional is recommended.

The next Bodhi Clinic detox starts January 13, 2016.

Click  here for more information.

Posted in Detoxification Tagged with: , ,


Happy “Healthy” Holidays

Tis the season to be jolly . . . . . .   Yes the holiday season is full of family, friends and food. It is a time to celebrate and share in our joys, sorrows, and day to day life.   It is also a time that stress increases considerably, our food choices lean towards the unhealthiest in the year and we make all kinds of promises for the upcoming season – many of which we do not keep. So how do we change our experience this year?

The most important piece is to SLOW DOWN.   Here are some helpful hints to maintain a healthy body, mind and spirit during these holiday times.

  • Meditate daily for 10 minutes – or at least take 10 deep breaths 2-3 times per day. Breathing is a really good idea.
  • Spend time with people – not shopping. i.e. spend time not money, it is worth far more. :0)
  • Eat a healthy meal before attending an event.
  • Fill your plate once during an event, choose wisely and truly enjoy the food.
  • Socialize at least 2.5 arm widths away from food so you are not tempted.
  • Plan a walk with a friend or family member.
  • Cook and/or bring a healthy choice to a party in place of sweets.
  • If the holidays are a difficult time for you and you find yourself depressed, seek help and meet with a counselor or call a hotline.
  • Donate time to help feed the homeless or build a house with Habitats for Humanity.
  • Attend a live performance and/or listen to live music.
  • Set New Year’s resolutions that are reasonable and achievable.
  • Include down time in your schedule.

It is very easy to get caught up in the materialism of the holidays and the manufacturers highly encourage this. The holidays are really about time with friends, family and our spiritual journey, make time to be merry and find reasons to laugh, it is really good for the immune system.

Posted in Healthy Habits, Holiday stress

We are excited to announce THE BODHI CLINIC will be relocating to a larger facility

The Bodhi CllinicThe Bodhi clinic is moving to a new location. Yes, after a long search for the perfect new home – we have found the location. We will be housed in the Crossroads Building in Ellicott City conveniently located off 100, route 29 and 108. This location is a medical building with a teaching kitchen, natural dispensary and large areas for workshops. The Bodhi clinic is committed to providing integrative medicine with the highest quality care. Now we will be located in the same center with other practitioners of like mind.

The clinic will officially move in the first week of November.   The new location is 4801 Dorsey Hall Drive, Ellicott City Maryland, and is approximately 20 miles from our current location. This will be closer for many of you and a little further for others, and well worth the drive. It is located at the junction of Route 29 and 108 not far from Centennial Park and the Columbia Mall, easily accessible by route 100, Route 32 or Interstate 95.

We will be providing more workshops and services at the new location, visit often for details on exciting programs to be offered in 2016. The January Detox is on and I look forward to seeing you all there, dates will be released soon.

We look forward to your input and comments as always, please give us a call and let us know how we can serve you better in the upcoming year.   We are also hoping to expand the dispensary considerably next year in products and staff to better serve your needs. We are excited to grow with you in our new location and improve your experience when visiting The Bodhi Clinic.

Posted in Holistic Health Care, Homeopathic medicine, Integrative Medicine, Naturopathic doctor, Naturopathic medicine Tagged with: , ,

Does Sugar Feed or Cause Cancer?

By Stephany Porter, ND, FABNO

Sugar and Cancer

Sugar and Cancer


The theory that sugar feeds cancer began in 1931 when Dr. Otto Warburg won the nobel prize for his paper on the metabolism of tumors.  He theorized that the prime cause of cancer is the replacement of the respiration of oxygen in normal body cells by a fermentation of sugar.  In 2003 we completed the human genome project and to our surprise learned that less than 5% of cancers have a genetic cause.  At this juncture, we began to explore epigenetics (causes other than the genes) as the initiators of cellular mutations that can become cancer in the body.  Now we can state that processed sugar could fit into an epigenetic event that can lead to an increased risk of cancer.

It is well known and widely accepted that processed sugars are a public health problem.  Processed sugars have been refined which means only the sugar has been removed from the original food item.  Most sugar consumed today comes from sugarcane, beets or corn and in the processed form have many names including cane sugar, turbinado sugar, fructose sugar or corn syrup fructose.  The types of words you may see on a label include sugar, syrup or anything ending in an “ose”, for example:  sucrose, fructose, high fructose corn syrup, dextrose, beet sugar, brown rice syrup, cane sugar, maple syrup, molasses, turbinado sugar, or sorghum syrup.  It has been estimated that sugar consumption in the U.S. has risen from 5 pounds PER YEAR per person in the 19th century to 2-3 pounds PER WEEK per person today.

Excessive consumption of simple sugars has been associated with obesity, diabetes, hypertension, asthma, mood disorders, nervous disorders, mental illness and who knows what else we will discover in the future.  Sugar was one of the first processed foods and has led to a myriad of nutrient devoid, high calorie options that can cause health issues.  Many of these foods are called simple carbohydrates and include cereals, breads, cookies and the like, however sugar is now added to most foods in the U.S. including yogurt, ketchup and coffee drinks.

In the realm of cancer, there is no one cause, however a combination of multiple initiators that lead to a tipping point resulting in a cellular mutation that is not corrected or cleared out by the immune system.  This may then lead to a tumor and the diagnosis of cancer.  Once there is a mutation in a cell, that cell changes its metabolism and function and requires large amounts of sugar to fuel its craziness.  Therefore there are increased receptors for sugar and increased influence by IGF-1 on cancer cells and in essence, sugar will feed cancer.  This occurs for insulin-like growth factor and plays a major role in cell proliferation and inhibits apoptosis (cell death).  Broccoli on the other hand leads to cell signaling that favors healthy cells and makes it more difficult for cancer cells to grow.

What does this mean for you?  It is time to return to a whole foods diet and remove processed sugars from your diet.  This is no easy task in the United States where our food chain, even in organics and supposedly healthy choices is laden with sugar.  The World Health Organization (WHO), in an effort to improve health globally, recently published sugar guidelines and suggested ways to curb global sugar consumption and acknowledges a program in France that encourages whole foods in their school systems.  WHO recommends keeping sugar consumption to below 10% of total calories per day and suggests keeping it below 5% for further health benefits.  I personally recommend my cancer patients discontinue processed sugars completely for at least 6 months and then reevaluate.  For an average daily diet containing 2,000 calories, 10% of total calories is equivalent to about 50 grams of sugar or around 12.5 teaspoons where 5% is approximately 6 teaspoons.   One 330ml (11.14 ounces) coke cola contains 9 teaspoons of sugar and would put you over your 5% for the day.   Remember that this 5% is still considerably higher than what we are meant to eat.  I encourage you to educate yourself on what a whole foods diet contains and to make healthier choices.

Posted in Cancer, Sugar Tagged with: ,