Sooth Emotional Angst with Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca)


A plant in the mint family, Motherwort gets its name from its ancient use: helping women who had a tendency to "over-mother" and thus experienced more stress, and less joy, in their maternal role. Today, throughout Europe and in Traditional Chinese Medicine, it's used as a medicinal herb to treat emotional conditions such as anxiety and depression. It also helps ease symptoms of menstrual distress, as well as physical and emotional exhaustion.

Motherwort can be prepared as a tea, tincture, or in capsule form. Depending on the the type of preparation, it can have a rather bitter taste and an odor some may find unpleasant. However, for many users, it becomes an "acquired taste" and the benefits outweigh any bitterness.

Motherwort has the ability to calm without causing drowsiness, and it has medicinal effects on circulation and heart rate. Because it can thin the blood, this herb should be used carefully and under the guidance of Dr. Bossio or other qualified herbalist or natural health practitioner.

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Keep a Mind-Body Journal for Health and Healing


How would you like to understand, once and for all, the relationship between what you're eating and how you feel? Keep a mind-body food journal. It's a powerful way to gain insight into eating habits and the impact of food choices on your mental and physical wellbeing. A mind-body food journal is different from a "diet diary" because the intention is different: it's not just about the fit of your jeans, it's about how food fits your life and your lifestyle.

Too often we eat mindlessly - on the run, watching television, behind the computer. A mind-body food journal helps create clarity between what we choose and how we feel. It leads the way to improved choices and - because food is medicine - supports total mind-body health and healing.

Start your journal today. Track your eating habits for a few weekdays and at least one weekend day. Do this for at least two weeks.

What to Track in a Mind-Body Food Journal

Food Factors

  • When did you eat?
  • What did you eat?
  • How much did you eat?
  • Why did you eat?
  • How did you feel after eating?

Mind Factors

  • What was your overall mood before and after eating?
  • Did you have headaches, or mental/emotional fatigue?

Body Factors

  • What did you notice about your body before and after eating?
  • Social & Environmental Factors
  • Who were you with for the meal?
  • Did you eat hurriedly or calmly?
  • Were you doing another activity while eating?

Review your journal at the end of each day and summarize your habits. Note the key factors for why you chose to eat the way you did, what was going on, how you felt and if there were any physical symptoms. You and Dr. Bossio can use this information to help make healthier food choices.

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When Life Heats Up, Chill out with Yoga


If daily hassles, constantly chiming cell phones, and past-due deadlines have you at the boiling point, simmer down to the yoga mat and find a little peace of mind.
A mind-body practice, Yoga combines physical poses (postures) called asanas, simple breathing exercises and guided meditation. Anyone can practice yoga and experience the health-enhancing benefits:

  • Reduce blood pressure
  • Lower resting heart rate (so the heart works more efficiently)
  • Promote mental alertness
  • Better manage symptoms of anxiety and depression
  • Improve muscle tension associated with stress and chronic health conditions

There are many 'styles' of Yoga for you to try. Styles vary in how many and the intensity of how the poses are performed; some styles are more intense (Bikram, Power, Iyengar) and others more restorative (Kundalini, Ashtanga). All yoga styles originate from Hatha Yoga, which was developed in India about 5,000 years ago. Hatha Yoga is a good choice for managing stress and chronic health concerns. It also is ideal for beginners.

A yoga class begins with breathing exercises and gentle movements to clear the mind and limber the body for the "active postures." Next, you'll move through a series of poses (standing, seated, and lying down). During class an instructor may use the ancient Sanskrit (Hindu) names and the American names for poses, e.g., Mountain Pose (Tadasana) or Triangle Pose (Trikanasana). A certified instructor helps participants modify poses to suit their unique needs.

The focus of practicing yoga is not on how long or how perfectly you perform the pose. Nor is it competitive-so no making comparisons or judgments of self and others. Yoga is all about letting go of your mental chatter by focusing on the breath and allowing it to guide your body into a calm, centered state.

Yoga class concludes with a guided meditation or relaxation exercise. This may help you learn to be more mindful and aware of yourself in any moment of your day, not just the time you spend on the yoga mat.

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Boost for the Brain? Bacopa monnieri

bacopa monnieri

Bacopa monniera (Brahmi, water hyssop) is an Ayurvedic botanical medicine used to enhance learning, memory and attention span. It has been used for centuries in India as a treatment for epilepsy, insomnia, anxiety, and disorders of memory and attention. Brahmi has not been as widely researched in modern scientific studies as have other Ayurvedic treatments. Through case studies and long-standing Ayurvedic and naturopathic approaches, it's worth noting that scientists are now interested in Brahmi as a therapeutic intervention for ADHD, Alzheimer's Disease (AD) and age-related memory loss.

How Does It Work?
The way medications work, especially those that affect brain function, aren't always fully understood by doctors. Brahmi is believed to have an effect on certain brain substances called neurotransmitters, which are involved in thinking, learning, mood, and memory. Some research suggests that Brahmi may have a protective effect on the cells, keeping them from either failing to function properly or helping them resist damage that can occur from infection, toxins, and the aging process. A few clinical studies with healthy adult participants showed an improvement in their ability to retain new information over a period of time. Improvements in memory have also been seen in children from a rural Indian village. Further studies, including long-term studies, are necessary to fully understand these effects in adults, young people, and for various health concerns.

Be careful not to confuse Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) with other natural medicines that go by the same name. It may interact with other medications. Consult Dr. Bossio to determine if Brahmi is appropriate for you, especially if you are pregnant, nursing or recovering from surgery or illness.

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Clear Your Mind wtih Sage - Salvia officinalis


Sage, with its woody stems, grayish leaves, and lovely purplish-blue flowers, is a native perennial of the Northern Mediterranean coast and an herbal member of the mint family. If you're only familiar with Sage for seasoning savory dishes, you're missing out on a fascinating botanical remedy.

Ancient Greeks and Romans burned sage in ceremonies, believing it would impart wisdom. Early European herbalists used Sage to clear congestion, purify the blood, and cleanse the teeth. In Native American and indigenous cultures around the world, shamans use White Sage to cleanse both persons and spaces of evil influences. Priests still burn Sage in religious ceremonies. Even though we can't prove Sage will raise your consciousness, many people burn Sage to facilitate relaxation during yoga or meditation.

Today, we know that Sage leaves and flowers contain chemicals with antibacterial, astringent, and antiseptic properties. At your local holistic market, you can find Sage in a variety of products. It is used in natural deodorant, and in mouthwash because it fights bacteria responsible for gum disease. In herbal remedies, a sage tea or tincture can help ease sore throat, congestion, digestive cramping, and support mental wellness. In aromatherapy preparations, sage is most often used as an essential oil in an air diffuser or in candles. Dried White Sage is most commonly burned (known as smudging) as incense with the intention to clear the lungs, ease mental stress, and enhance mood.

Using Sage as a botanical remedy is very different from cooking with the herb. Medicinal preparations and essential oils derived from Sage contain thujones, a naturally occurring chemical in the plant. If you take a higher dose of medicinal Sage than is recommended, it could cause serious health problems such as tremors, rapid heart rate, vertigo and vomiting. Consult Dr. Bossio for guidance on the safe use of any Sage remedy.

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Meditate: It Does a Brain Good!


Amazing changes happen to mind and body when you meditate. During meditation, there is a physiological shift called 'the relaxation response' (RR). This response is exactly opposite the stress response that so many of us have a hard time avoiding in our daily lives. You may think you have lots of ways to relax-sleeping, watching TV, reading-but these activities do not produce the same physiological changes that happen when you meditate.

In addition to changes in brain waves, heart rate and respiration rate, meditation results in disengaging from the thinking process. You become a detached observer of the clutter that fills your mind and learn to let go of it all, one breath, one moment at time. Your troubles won't magically disappear, but your perspective about them will shift, even if you meditate just a few days a week.

How does Meditation work?
When you are stressed, your body releases hormones that can have a negative effect on your health. Research shows having stress hormones (e.g., cortisol) circulating through your body for prolonged periods is associated with certain diseases. Meditation brings about the RR and reduces the levels of stress hormones. Now, your immune system is better able protect you from illness, recover quickly, and restore optimal wellbeing.

What can Meditation Do For You? Alot!

  • Reduces tension-related pain
  • Strengthens the immune system
  • Improves quality of sleep
  • Strengthens neural pathways
  • Improves emotional stability
  • Enhances creativity
  • Boosts brain chemicals associated with mood, memory and learning

Start a Meditation Practice
Begin with 5 minutes a day and progress to 20 minutes at least 3-4 times a week. Use sounds of nature, music, a candle, or a guided imagery to help you get started. Meditation is often done seated or lying down. Use cushions or a chair to support your posture. Eyes closed or open is up to you.  You'll soon discover that meditation is a state of mind involving awareness and acceptance, that you can do in the midst of any activity.

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Sleep: Essential for Mind-Body Health


Adults and children alike are spending more time awake late at night to study, work, or have fun. All those late nights may be slowly killing us. More than 20 years of research shows us that sleep is vitally important to physical and mental health.

Most of what we know about sleep and health comes from studies of what happens to the mind and body when we don't sleep enough, or at all. In animal and human studies, living without sleep for even a few months resulted in death. Sleeping fewer than 8 hours a night on a regular basis is associated with increased risk for diabetes, heart disease and stroke, depression, colds and flu, and obesity.

While We Are Sleeping...

Sleep affects brain chemistry and has an important role in the functioning of the nervous, immune and endocrine systems. During sleep we develop and reinforce neural pathways involved in memory, learning, and emotion. New research suggests sleep helps flush toxins from the brain.

While we are sleeping, the body manufactures hormones that repair damage caused by stress and the environment in which we work and play. Growth hormone cleanses the liver, builds muscle, breaks down fat, and helps normalize blood sugar. We also produce hormones that help fight infections. If we aren't getting sufficient sleep, we get sick more often and take longer to recover. Lack of sleep increases inflammation, which is has been linked to heart disease and stroke.

Skimping on shut-eye is linked with obesity in adults and children. Lack of sleep interferes with the levels of ghrelin and leptin, metabolic hormones that signal when you're hungry and when you're full.

The amount of sleep you need varies based on age, activity level, quality of sleep, and genetics (e.g., some of us really are night owls). Infants typically require 14-15 hours of sleep per 24-hour period; young children about 12 hours; teens about 9 hours, and most adults 7-9 hours. A general rule of thumb for determining your sleep requirement: If you do not wake feeling refreshed, you may not be getting enough sleep.

Tips For A Good Night's Sleep

  1. In the sack for sleep and sex only. Regular sex can improve sleep quality so don't use your time between the sheets to deal with daily hassles--take that outside of the bedroom (or record in a journal). If you don't feel sleepy, leave the room and do something relaxing until you feel drowsy, (see my Natural Therapies for Sound Sleep in this newsletter). Then, go back to bed.
  2. Set a sleep schedule. This includes a soothing pre-sleep routine, such as a warm bath, reading or gentle yoga. Go to bed and wake at the same time each day. This entrains your body rhythms, making it easier to fall asleep. If you need a nap, get it in before 5:00 PM; limit to 20 minutes.
  3. Surround yourself with cave-like ambiance. A sleeping space should be quiet, dark, and cool (between 60-72°). If you do shift-work, use blackout shades or an eye mask. Remove electronic devices, computers and TVs from your room. Research shows that use of digital devices within an hour of bedtime has a negative effect on sleep quality.
  4. Let the light in early and exercise regularly. Natural light helps regulates hormones that promote ideal sleep-wake patterns. Open the curtains as early as possible and get outdoors during the day. Also, exercise during the day or early evening makes it easier to fall asleep and increases the amount of deep sleep obtained.
  5. Eat a Light, Last Meal of the Day. A light dinner eaten 2-3 hours before sleep is ideal. A full stomach interferes with sleep as the body works at digestion. Steer clear of spicy or fatty foods that can cause heartburn. If you need a bedtime snack, combine a carbohydrate and protein, such as almond butter on toast, Greek yogurt with granola, or hummus and veggies. Avoid products containing caffeine, sugar or nicotine as their effects can last several hours.

Are You Sleep Deprived?

You don't have to pull "all-nighters" to become sleep deprived. A sleep debt of just 1-2 hours a few nights a week can affect your health and performance.To become fully well-rested and regain energy after a sleep debt, get an extra hour of sleep each night for one week.

If you experience any of the following signs of sleep deprivation, talk to Dr. Bossio about natural approaches to getting your sleep back on track.

  • Daytime drowsiness; fatigue
  • Poor memory; difficulty concentrating
  • Changes in appetite
  • Difficulty dealing with stress
  • Irritability
  • Muscle tension; impaired vision
  • Increase in accidents or clumsiness

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Seasonal Affective Disorder, Not Just the "Winter Blues"

seasonal affective disorder

If you've ever noticed that your mood seems to dampen during the fall and winter months, you may be experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder, otherwise known as SAD. In fact, many people live with a mild form of SAD and don't even know it.

A form of clinical depression, SAD symptoms include: fatigue, lack of interest in normal activities, social withdrawal, carbohydrate cravings, and weight gain.

Unlike other mood disorders, SAD symptoms are associated with seasonal changes in light, often occurring only during the autumn and winter months, with the most difficult months being January and February. Outside of the winter months, SAD can be triggered by long stretches of cloudy weather or working year-round in a dark environment without natural sunlight.

Symptoms may vary in intensity. Any of these symptoms, alone or in tandem with one another, can have a serious effect on your quality of life.

Prevention & Management
With the right course of treatment, SAD can be a manageable condition. If you think you may be experiencing SAD or any other mood disorder, discuss your symptoms with Dr. Bossio to create an individualized plan for mood stabilization and enhancement. Ask Dr. Bossio about these four ways you can prevent and manage SAD.

1. Get as much sun as possible. Bundle up and take a walk, sit near a window at work, or participate in outdoor winter sports. However you choose to do it, exposing yourself to sunlight can help curb the symptoms of SAD.

2. Give phototherapy a try. Otherwise known as light therapy, phototherapy often uses a special fluorescent lamp to trick the brain into thinking the day is longer, and it has proven to be an effective treatment option for many. Just 30 to 90 minutes of daily exposure may have profound effects on your mood.

3. Increase your vitamin D intake. Although there is still insufficient evidence to conclude that vitamin D deficiency causes depression, cross-sectional studies have identified associations between depression and low vitamin D levels. Discuss intake of vitamin D supplements with Dr. Bossio.

4. Supplement with a healthy lifestyle. Additional ways to manage SAD include herbal remedies, homeopathy and other types of supplements. However, eating right, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly are still the best ways to improve and maintain your psychological health year-round.


  • American Psychiatric Association. "Seasonal Affective Disorder." Accessed December 2014.
  • American Psychological Association. "Bright Lights, Big Relief."  June 26, 2006.
  • Parker, G., and H. Brotchie. "'D' for Depression: Any Role for Vitamin D?" Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica 124 (October 2011): 243-249. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0447.2011.01705.x.

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Shedding Light on Phototherapy


Phototherapy, or light therapy, has shown promise in treating eczema, reducing itching skin, guarding against inflammation, increasing bacterial defenses in the skin, and increasing vitamin D production. It's also a unique therapy for treating Seasonal Affective Disorder. Phototherapy provides the body with the additional light it needs to stimulate the brain activity that controls circadian rhythms. Research suggests that the benefits may be heightened by undergoing light treatment as soon after waking up as possible. The therapy, which can be done in a clinical setting or at home using a special light box, may actually be as beneficial - or more so - than antidepressants. Symptoms typically improve within two weeks to two months of steady treatment.

How It Works
Phototherapy uses a light box to emit specific wavelengths of light, imitating sunlight, but avoiding exposure to harmful UVA rays. Generally, phototherapy light boxes provide 10,000 lux ("lux" is a measure of light intensity), which is roughly 100 times brighter than typical indoor lighting, but not as bright as a sunny day, which can clock in at 50,000 lux or more. Recent advances in light therapy include using light boxes that simulate sunrise, gradually increasing in intensity from darkness up to 300 lux. Another new therapy uses lower-intensity blue light, which has a more powerful effect on the retina than white light, tricking the brain into thinking it's brighter than it is.

However, phototherapy is not without risks. It can cause burns, increase signs of aging, and increase the risk of skin cancers if used regularly over long periods of time, or if administered using subpar equipment. Before investing time and money on phototherapy, discuss your concerns and needs with Dr. Bossio. He or she will be able to make a diagnosis and prescribe an individualized treatment plan for brightening your winter.

Because the FDA does not regulate light boxes, be sure to discuss your equipment options with Dr. Bossio, or phototherapy professional, before purchasing a light box. For more information on phototherapy, visit the American Psychological Association, the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology or the National Eczema Association.


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The Power of Gratitude


There is no better time to express gratitude than the New Year. Researchers are revealing the amazing emotional and physical effects of expressing gratitude. In one study, participants were more optimistic, felt better about their lives, and visited the doctor less after writing about what they were grateful for everyday for 10 weeks. In another study, participants had a huge surge in happiness scores after being asked to write a thank you letter to someone who had positively impacted their life. Researchers have found that gratitude can even help couples. Partners who frequently express gratitude to each other feel more positive about the relationship and more comfortable when expressing relationship concerns. Even employers can benefit from expressing gratitude to their employees. Employees who are thanked by their managers work harder and have greater job satisfaction. There is an old saying, "We find what we look for." Try looking for and finding all there is to be grateful for in your life.

Here are some suggestions for increasing gratitude in your life:

  • Start your day with a list of things you are grateful for.
  • Write a thank you letter to someone who changed your life for the better.
  • Make a list of 50 things you appreciate about yourself.
  • Reflect at the end of each day and come up with 5 things for which you are grateful.  


Emmons RA, et al. "Counting Blessings Versus Burdens: An Experimental Investigation of Gratitude and Subjective Well-Being in Daily Life," Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (Feb. 2003): Vol. 84, No. 2, pp. 377-89.

Grant AM, et al. "A Little Thanks Goes a Long Way: Explaining Why Gratitude Expressions Motivate Prosocial Behavior," Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (June 2010): Vol. 98, No. 6, pp. 946-55.

Lambert NM, et al. "Expressing Gratitude to a Partner Leads to More Relationship Maintenance Behavior,"Emotion (Feb. 2011): Vol. 11, No. 1, pp. 52-60.

Sansone RA, et al. "Gratitude and Well Being: The Benefits of Appreciation," Psychiatry (Nov. 2010): Vol. 7, No. 11, pp. 18-22.

Seligman MEP, et al. "Empirical Validation of Interventions," American Psychologist (July-Aug. 2005): Vol. 60, No. 1, pp. 410-21.

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Natural Ways to Change Brain Function

When:  Tuesday, June 3rd at 7pm

Where: 898 Ethan Allen Highway, Suite 6, Ridgefield, CT

Come and learn about non-medication alternatives, as well as safe and natural ways to change brain functioning. Supplements and herbs can be integrated with functional medicine to help children and adults avoid, reduce, or come off various medications. Dr. Bossio will discuss supplements and herbs and how she uses functional medicine to determine best treatment protocols. Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge, Ed.D, LPC, BCN,  and Dr. Bossio will also discuss how Neurofeedback and supplements work synergistically to improve treatment outcomes. How to utilize the summer to improve brain functioning with Neurofeedback and supplementation will also be reviewed. Information about Neurofeedback and a live demonstration will also be included.

Neurofeedback therapy is a safe, non-medication treatment for common childhood and adult issues and disorders, including: ADHD, Autism, Anxiety, Learning Issues, Social Issues, Sports-Related Concussion, Mood Issues, etc.  Come learn about QEEG brain mapping, how neurofeedback works, and how it could benefit you or your child.  ***We are so excited about QEEG, that all workshop attendees will receive a coupon for $100 off a QEEG brain map (applies to new clients only)***.