Ask The Doctor: Energy, Fungal Nails, and Kidney Stones

Every month we ask top practitioners to address your health concerns. This month find solutions for energy, fungal nails, and kidney stones.

I am 62 and have been working on a probiotic diet to improve my health, which is not bad, but I feel I could have more energy. What should I do for myself, without following mainstream solutions?
Reinvent Your Breakfast
The first thing I recommend for boosting your energy is to re-invent your breakfast. A breakfast of pancakes, bagels, muffins, or toast is loaded with sugar and processed carbs—it’s a nutritional disaster. Instead, you want to start the day with protein, good fats, and some high-quality carbs.
I believe a breakfast smoothie is the perfect rhythm-restoring, nutritious, delicious, and efficient way to begin your day. My patients are always telling me how they go to bed at night dreaming of their morning smoothie. Smoothies are easy on the digestive system, so the body doesn’t need to work to break down the food and nutrients. Digestion takes up a lot of energy, so by partially resting it, you can save on energy that can be used elsewhere.
Avocados may seem unusual as a smoothie ingredient, but they add a wonderful creamy texture, healthy fats, and magnesium—and they have less sugar than bananas. I’m also a big fan of whey protein, which is easy to digest and has all the essential amino acids. Make sure the whey you choose comes from grass-fed cows. I also suggest you add a super greens powder, to get essential vitamins and nutrients.
Greena-Colada Avocado Smoothie
1 cup frozen pineapple chunks
1 cup coconut water
1/4 avocado
3-4 tablespoons whey protein powder
2 teaspoons greens powder
1/2 to 1 tablespoon coconut oil
4 ice cubes
Combine all ingredients and blend until smooth and creamy. If you can’t find coconut water, use almond milk or water instead.
Discover the Power of Adaptogens
Adaptogens are a group of herbs that can calm you down, yet boost your energy at the same time. They help your body adapt to stress and resist fatigue. Taking them is a like taking an old-fashioned tonic that makes you feel better all over. The adaptogenic herbs that I encourage you to learn more about are Asian ginseng, eleuthero, ashwaganda, and Rhodiola rosea.
Adaptogenic formulas are extremely effective. I recommend taking them for 3 months and then taking a break for 3 weeks. If you feel you need them again after the 3-week break, repeat the cycle.
Question answered by Dr. Frank Lipman, an internationally recognized expert in integrative medicine and the founder and director of the Eleven Eleven Wellness Center in New York City.
I have a few “candy corn” toenails, meaning toenail fungus, on the big toe and baby toe. I used to have it on both feet and successfully treated it on the other one with tea tree oil. For whatever reason, that [remedy] hasn’t been successful with the nails on this foot. I’ve even clipped the nails very far down in order to get the tea tree oil to the fungus-y hotspot. It’s almost to the base of my toenail on the big toe, and has already reached the base of the nail on my baby toe! Is there any hope of being able to wear peep-toe shoes again? I have such jealousy of perfectly manicured toes!
There are many ways to treat toenail fungus successfully. I feel that both internal and external treatment are necessary to be totally successful. Either way, both still take several months to be effective.
Internally, one needs to use:
Grapefruit seed extract, Neem, Olive leaf, Black walnut, and Berberine sulfate. The dose depends on the individual’s weight. Follow a low-sugar, low-carbohydrate, anti-candida/antifungal diet for three weeks (known as the Caveman Diet).
Externally, it is best to
1. Soak your foot in hot, full-strength apple cider vinegar for twenty minutes.
2. Dry the foot after 20 minutes, then apply a dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) roll on to the toenail.
3. Apply a blend consisting of equal parts tea tree oil, cajeput, and eucalyptus essential oils with a clean swab. The DMSO will drive the oils through the thick nail and kill the fungus.
Do this three times per week. You should notice a new, clean nail growing back to replace the damaged nail. Continue treatment for 6 to 8 weeks.
Dr. Eugene R. Zampieron, ND, MH (AHG), is an author and Professor of Botanical Medicine at University of Bridgeport College of Naturopathic Medicine
Another opinion on kidney stones
(Originally addressed in ATD in March 2011)
I have multiple kidney stones. I would like to know what kind of foods I should avoid. What kind of natural treatment, if any, do you recommend? My doctor told me to drink plenty of water and to avoid tea. I know there must be more food/drink that I should avoid than just that.
Knowing the mineral content of the kidney stone guides the treatment strategy. The majority of kidney stones contain calcium in combination with oxalate, phosphate, or carbonate. Other stones contain uric acid, struvite, or cystine. As calcium oxalate is the most common stone, reducing foods containing oxalates seems an obvious treatment strategy. But, there is controversy surrounding eliminating oxalate-containing foods such as beans, spinach, kale, blackberries, strawberries, soy, nuts, and tea, as theseare considered “healthy” foods. Calcium binds oxalate in the digestive tract and prevents absorption of both compounds. So, it seems, eating higher calcium foods with higher oxalate foods may be a better strategy than simply avoiding high oxalate foods.
Preventing calcium precipitation in the urine (called hypercalciuria) appears
to be the best treatment strategy. Common sense suggests hypercalciuria results from increased calcium consumption. But, as calcium is tightly regulated in the body, this precipitation reflects a metabolic dysfunction rather thans imply excessive calcium intake. These metabolic factors are sodium, potassium, and dietary protein.
Sodium and potassium are essential electrolytes that play an important role in cellular function. As such, the ratio of sodium to potassium is an important consideration. For example, ancestral diets contained on average 16X potassium compared to sodium, whereas modern diets contain 4X sodium compared to potassium. Research suggests sodium increases the precipitation of calcium in the urine, whereas potassium decreases
it. Dietary protein, especially acid-forming animal protein, adds further metabolic
burden on the body. An acidic diet increases the risk of kidney stone formation, as it forces the body to consume potassium as a metabolic buffer instead of balancing sodium intake. Whether from a relative deficiency (increased sodium intake) or from depletion (acidic diet), potassium deficiency plays a major role in calcium precipitation. This is also important in the development of osteoporosis.
In other words, the unbalanced standard American diet represents an underlying cause of kidney stone formation. These dietary habits help prevent hypercalciuria:
1. Eat more vegetables and fruits to increase potassium.
2. Decrease animal protein intake to prevent metabolic acidity.
3. Decrease processed foods intake to limit sodium (75 percent of sodium on average comes from processed foods whereas only 25 percent comes from the salt shaker).
Eating more vegetables and fruit can have a trickledown effect by reducing intake of animal protein and processed foods. This is the zero sum relationship, which suggests eating more of one food means eating less of another if calories remain constant.
Increasing fluid intake appears modestly effective. The goal is to produce 2-3 liters of urine every day. Unfortunately, this effect is diminished with increased sodium intake and it will not be enough to treat those with hypercalciuria.
Various vitamins have been associated with kidney stone formation. Vitamin C can be converted to uric acid in the body and, thus, has been considered in important factor in uric-acid-containing kidney stones. But this hypothesis is not supported by research, which suggests vitamin C is considered safe at high doses. Uric acid stones are best addressed by decreasing sugar (fructose) intake and limiting high purine meats, such as organ meats and sardines.
Vitamin D has caused concerns, as a study suggested a combination of calcium and vitamin D increased kidney stone formation. In research studies it is impossible to control for all dietary factors that may influence the outcome. As this study did not control for sodium, potassium, or animal protein intake, conclusions based upon modest levels of calcium and vitamin D should be taken with a grain of salt (and much more potassium).

Paul Ratté, ND is a naturopathic doctor and an assistant professor of nutrition at Northwestern Health Sciences University in Bloomington, Minn.