Brain Cleanse


By late November, I realized that I had already put my ice skates on and was on the verge of going down the slippery slope of holiday indulgence. I looked something like this:

Bread? Yummy!

Champagne?  Why not?

Dessert? Sure!

Fortunately, I saw that indulgence train getting ready to leave and I stopped it before it departed the station.

So, I signed up do do a “Brain Cleanse.” I have never done a brain cleanse before but I have always loved cleanses. They are my favorite way to reboot my system. Doing a brain cleanse was of particular interest to me because even 18 months after finishing chemo, my mind is still memory challenged and fog is omnipresent. Now, I acknowledge that I have developed some pretty great compensatory mechanisms and am able to function at a relatively high level, but what people see on the outside is not an accurate reflection of what is happening on the inside.

There are several components to this cleanse:

  1. First is daily yoga. Yes, I said daily and yoga in the same sentence. That is a humongous commitment for me (especially because it also involves my family). Additionally, you all may recall that yoga is not (yet) my thing. However, I know that it is good for me and to get into a habit of doing it 7+ days in a row is a Silver Lining.
  2. Diet: No sugar, caffeine or alcohol. Abstaining from these is always hard for the first three days (for me), but after the initial grumpiness, fatigue, and zit onslaught, my body thanks me. My mind, however, begs to differ at all of these Christmas parties with free flowing champagne and yummylicious desserts.
  3. Supplements. Below is what I’m taking and why. It seems like a lot, but it’s not too bad once I got it all organized.
    • DHA or Docosahexaenoic acid is one of the essential omega-3 fatty acids essential for brain and liver function, though it is used by all of our organs. Our brain is made up of 40% of DHA, and get this – we don’t naturally produce this ourselves!
    • TUMERIC is a natural antibacterial agent and natural liver detoxifier. Tumeric supplements help strengthen the immune system, support cardiovascular health and healthy digestive function. It is also supposed to ease muscle pain and soothe gastrointestinal inflammation. Tumeric is also supposed to assist in preserving healthy brain function! In fact an amazing neurologist I know takes tumeric specifically for its effects on brain health.
    • CoQ 10 Coenzyme Q10 is found in every cell of the body. Cells use CoQ10 to produce energy the body needs for cell growth and maintenance. It is also supposed to function as an antioxidant, boost energy and speed recovery from exercise. We shall see. My fingers are crossed that it will help me, especially in the energy department!
    • BLUE GREEN DETOX Consuming Blue Green Algae is supposed to be a fast, efficient and energizing way to improve any diet. Blue green algae are a group of simple organisms. The two main varieties suitable for human consumption are spirulina maxima and spirulina platensis. Rich in chlorophyll, Blue Green Algae delivers concentrated peptides to support the brain, memory and nervous system.
    • EFA’S Essential Fatty Acids are necessary fats (the “good fats”) that humans cannot synthesize, and must be obtained through diet. There are two families of EFA’s: Omega-3 and Omega-6. EFAs support the cardiovascular, reproductive, immune, and nervous systems as they repair cell membranes, enabling the cells to obtain optimum nutrition and expel harmful waste products.
    • COCONUT OIL is rich in lauric acid, a nutrient that supports the body’s immune system. Coconut oil also helps boost metabolism and raise body temperatures to promote thyroid health. The other Silver Lining of coconut oil is that it is the best moisturizer that I have ever used. My skin is rather lizard-esque in the winter and coconut oil is transformative. Absolute magical.
    • OLIVE OIL The health benefits of olive oil are 99% related to the presence of the phenolic compounds, not the oil itself. Olive oil is one of the few widely used culinary oils that contains about 75% of its fat in the form of oleic acid (a monounsaturated, omega-9 fatty acid). Studies have shown that polyphenols decrease heart disease risk factors by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, reducing blood clotting and improving the health of artery linings. They also act as antioxidants, reducing oxidation and cell damage, which leads to many degenerative diseases.
    • B-Vitamins are crucial for optimal health, energy, handling stress, liver detoxification, heart health and mood balance, yet deficiencies are very common. For greatest effect, it is generally recommended to supplement with the vitamin B-complex family, rather than isolated B (and often synthetic) vitamins. I’ve taken B-Vitamins before this cleanse and definitely notice a positive difference when I do.
    • GREEN TEA ND This is a new product that I’ve never tried before. It is made from unfermented leaves that contain powerful antioxidants called polyphenols. Green Tea ND comes in a liquid form and is “Nanized” (pre-digested by beneficial bacteria into extremely small particles) and contains concentrated polyphenols of more than 20 cups of green tea (with the caffeine of less than 1 cup of brewed tea). Supposedly, it helps improve digestive health, connective tissue, and energy. And . . .  Green Tea ND helps DNA handle effects of radiation damage.
    • HCL Stomach acid is a digestive fluid formed in your stomach to break down food, assimilate vitamins and minerals and prevent bacterial pathogens from going into the lower GI tract. Stomach acid contains hydrochloric acid (HCL), potassium chloride, and sodium chloride. The potassium and sodium chloride are rarely limiting factors in the production of stomach acid—it’s the HCL that people tend to have trouble producing. So adding this supplement to my diet will, I hope, improve digestion.
    • PINK SALT (OR AIR DRIED SEA SALT) “True” salt is unheated, air-dried sea salt, which contains over 90 trace minerals and contains no flowing or anti-clumping agents. It has not been ground with a nickel plate and has not been bleached. Therefore, you will find it is often grey or pink in color. Natural Sea Salt is essential for digestion, kidney health, nerve transmission, and balancing blood sugar levels. Salt clears the lungs of mucus, stabilizes irregular heartbeat and it makes bones strong and plays a role in sleep regulation.
    • ALOE DETOX The gel extracted from the inside of the Aloe Vera leaf has historically been used as a laxative and cleansing herb. Aloe Detox is a cleansing and immune support supplement for the whole body that contains Aloe arborescens to (hopefully!) promote effective immune system support, provide gentle cleansing and detoxification for the intestines and colon, and supports healthy pH balance.
    • D3 SERUM. The body was designed to manufacture a sufficient amount of vitamin D simply by skin exposure to sunlight. Sadly, we as a nation do not spend much time in sunlight and if we do, we wear sunscreen (which is a wise decision!). D3 Serum is the Silver Lining! D3 Serum is supposed to help maintain a strong immune system, cognition, and is essential for healthy calcium absorption – key to strong bones and teeth!

So, there you have it. I’m 6 days into it and I have to say that I am feeling a wee bit better. Perhaps it’s wishful thinking, but I’ve always been a big believer that when the mind, spirit and body work together, Silver Linings  occur!

I’ll keep you posted on how well this goes…

By the way, it is important to remember is that it is best to do a cleanse under the supervision of a dietitian and with the blessing of your doctor. Because what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another person. But you knew that already.

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  1. Amy Williamson says

    Hi Hollye,
    I have enjoyed reading your website. I was diagnosed with breast cancer on January 21. I had 9 treatments of chemo. I had a double mastectomy on June 6. I just started radiation last Thursday. I was reading about all of the supplements you take and I have a question for you. Do you use apple cider vinegar? 2 people have told me to take 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar daily with water and honey. They told me it will help prevent cancer. I just wanted to know your thoughts about this subject. Thank you, Amy

    • silverpen says

      Hi Amy,
      Thanks for writing. Sorry that you were diagnosed with FBC. Ugh.
      In terms of "prevention" there is no actual prevention of breast cancer or a recurrence. There are, however, things that can be done to reduce the risk of it returning. These include eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, exercise and avoiding alcohol.
      I have not heard of the apple cider and honey theory.
      My tip top suggestion is to talk with your oncologist and your radiation oncologist about this. Also, please don't take any antioxidants when you are doing radiation. Also, please let your doctors know about any supplements that you are taking. Some can interfere with the efficacy of radiation.
      A dietician will also be able to help you sort through this phase…and then I can help (through my book & blog) with your recovery.
      Sending all of my very best wishes to you!

  2. says

    Ohhhhhh, E.B., I can't tell you how happy your comment makes me! This is absolutely wonderful! I think that balance is key. Absolutely key. It's about living as healthily as we can without becoming lunatics! My birthday is next week and I absolutely plan on having a glass of champagne AND dessert! But it's balanced by this week, which is free of sugar, alcohol and caffeine. I wish you the happiest, healthiest, Silver Lined 2013! :)

  3. says

    Can't you just enjoy a glass of champagne and a wee bit of dessert, dear one? I just can't see taking all of these synthetics. What a cocktail you have put together. Now the green tea, coconut and olive oil, sea salt, and turmeric I have no trouble with including in food preparation. But all the rest? I don't want to play the devil's advocate if all of this regimen is working for you, but it seems so excessive. I await your post on how this goes for you. On the other hand I am glad to hear that you are feeling a bit better.

    • says

      Thanks dear Carolee! Oh please know that I have absolutely enjoyed champagne and dessert. Don't you worry about that! This is an experiment for me to see if this hiatus from sugar combined with the supplements will help get rid of the fogginess once and for all. I'm so tired of feeling tired, foggy and forgetful. Will keep you posted. Thank you for caring so much!

  4. E.B. says

    Great, informative, excellent post! Thanks to you and your blog, I am eating healthier. MAJOR caffeine-maniac, but am now down to cafe au lait on weekends only. Sugar intake is way down. Drinking LOTS of water. Champagne only on very special occasions (okay, like birthdays, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year's Eve and Day … maybe the ocassional weekend brunch in the form of mimosas). Eating more veggies and fruits, may be turning into a rabbit, but do feel better all around. I am determined to make 2013 a healthy, happy, Silver Lined year!