Why You Should Avoid “Fragrances”

Essential Oils Provide a Healthier Option

We can get very attached to the smell of our favorite lotion or body wash, but there’s often something lurking behind the scent that can harm your health. Many fragranced personal care products contain chemicals called “phthalates,” which help the scent cling to skin and hair. The term hardly ever actually appears on the labels, but instead may be one of the ingredients that make up “fragrance” or “parfum/perfume.”

According to the Environmental Working Group, studies have linked phthalates to testicular cell death as well as hormone changes, lower sperm count, less mobile sperm, birth defects in the male reproductive system, obesity, diabetes, and thyroid irregularities. It’s best to avoid them altogether! The EWG’s Skin Deep database can help you discover the safest alternatives.

Essential Oils: A Safer Option

Essential oils have soared in popularity and are commonly found in people’s medicine cabinets, but can they be used as a replacement for the scents you love? When diluted properly, they often can. Essential oils are highly aromatic substances found in certain plants and used for protection from predators and to attract pollinators. After the distillation of a plant, the aromatic substance is referred to as an essential oil.

Safety, Dilution, & Storage

It takes a lot of plant material to make a small amount of essential oil—they are highly concentrated. For example, it takes 50-60 roses to produce one drop of rose essential oil! This means you only need a very small amount to achieve a desired effect. Very few, if any, essential oils should be ingested or applied directly to the skin. I recommend diluting essential oils into a carrier oil or substance. You do this by combining the oils with “carriers” (such as vegetable, seed, or nut oils) before applying them to your skin.

Because essential oils evaporate easily, it’s best to store them in dark, airtight, glass bottles. Exposure to light, oxygen, and heat will break down the oils and they can become “oxidized” and irritating to the skin. Purchasing unadulterated, organic 100% essential oils from reputable manufacturers helps ensure you are using the purest plant constituents while ensuring ethical and sustainable harvesting methods.

Popular Oils & Their Therapeutic Benefits

Here are a few of my favorite oils to diffuse, combine with carrier oils, and use in my homemade cleaning solutions:

  • Lavender — The most widely used essential oil due to its broad range of properties; antidepressant, decongestant, sedative, promotes calming, relieves headaches and muscle aches, healing for burns. Very safe, non-toxic, non-irritant; can use with children.
  • Tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) — Great for green cleaning products and first aid; antifungal, antiseptic, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, decongestant, expectorant, stimulating to the immune system, good for acne; can put directly on the skin.
  • Peppermint — Found in 1000 BC in Egyptian tombs, widely used; anti-inflammatory, antifungal, circulation stimulant, pain relief, nausea, headaches, digestive upset (can have the opposite effect with GERD). Strong; dilute well! Avoid in children younger than 5.
  • Frankincense — Extracted from the resin / gum of the Boswellia tree, grown in the Middle East and Africa; antiseptic, wound healing, expectorant, pain-relieving, nervous system relaxant. May cause irritation in those with sensitive skin. Use in low dilution.
  • Eucalyptus — Uplifting aroma useful for respiratory conditions, decongestant inhalant for colds, antiviral, antibacterial; because it inhibits proliferation of the virus causing the cold, it’s useful as an air spray in the house for protection when other are sick. Non-toxic and non-irritating when used properly, but not be used on or around children younger than 10.

To your good health,

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Karen’s Corner 

Let me help you clean up your own personal environment in just 14 days!

Supporting the important mission of the Environmental Working Group means so much to me and my team. That’s why I’m thrilled that 100% of the profits generated from our Toxin Takedown 14 Day Transformation will benefit the EWG! This self-guided challenge is full of easy ways for you to detox your environment and your health. In just 14 days, you can lighten your toxic body burden. Your body will thank you! Sign up here.

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Toxin Takedown 14 Day Transformation!

For this cleanse, KMHC is proud to support the Environmental Working Group. EWG’s mission is to empower people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. With breakthrough research and education, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action.

All profits generated from the purchase of Toxin Takedown will be donated to EWG


You can now put small steps into action to detox your body and home from environmental chemicals. Each day suggests one thing you can do to reduce your toxic load.

CLICK HERE to sign up for this virtual, self-guided cleanse, which includes the following resources that you can access from one convenient online hub:

EBOOK + WORKSHEETS —The ebook features helpful “Avoid” and “Action” lists and the 7 worksheets are chock full of quizzes, checklists, and cheat sheets to help you detox your body, mind, and environment.

DAILY EMAILS — Think of this as your virtual cheerleader—and taskmaster! You’ll not only receive valuable prep emails outlining what to expect, but you’ll get a daily email for 14 days with action items that correspond with your ebook.

CLEANSE MENU + RECIPES — No need to think about what to eat—we’ve laid out 2 weeks of meals with recipes included in this 42-page cleanse menu. Simplify your life and upgrade your pantry with with this useful guide.

GROUP SUPPORT — There’s strength in numbers! Over at our private Facebook group (only for paid participants), you’ll get support from others in the community. Karen will also connect with you here via Q&As and live videos.

If you’ve been craving detox of your body, mind, and environment, know you could be feeling significantly better in just 2 weeks’ time.

More energy, glowing skin, and a leaner body are just some of the many benefits you’ll reap by reducing your exposure to man-made chemicals that lurk in your personal care products, cleaning supplies, food, and even the air you breathe! What are you waiting for?

To your good health,

p.s. You can feel good about your $49 investment in Toxin Takedown, as we are donating ALL PROFITS  to The Environmental Working Group, an organization that fights for a cleaner, healthier world.

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Boost Your Metabolism with Intermittent Fasting

By Karen Malkin, Karen Malkin Health Counseling 

Train Your Body to Burn Fat for Fuel- The best of all medicines is resting and fasting.” —Benjamin Franklin 

Have you heard of intermittent fasting (IF) and wondered what it’s all about? Well IF simply involves alternating cycles of fasting and eating. Many studies show this can cause weight loss, improve metabolic health, protect against disease, and perhaps help you live longer.

Specific benefits of intermittent fasting include:

• Lower glucose and/or insulin levels

• Improved lipid profile and blood pressure

• Greater fat mobilization

• Slower cell proliferation rates

• Enhanced mitochondrial remodeling

• Lower inflammation and oxidative stress

• Slower aging and longer lifespan

• Increased HGH and athletic performance

Hardwired to Fast?

The whole idea of intermittent fasting is as old as eating itself. Back in the hunter-gatherer days we didn’t have the luxury of eating a meal every three hours. You only ate after you caught or foraged your food—and there could be long periods of fasting between those meals. Today, we still do some form of IF. When you go to sleep you literally fast for eight hours, wake up, and then eat“break-fast” in the morning.

Here are some of the popular methods of IF:

  • Alternate Day Fasting: Alternating fasting days with eating days.
  • Modified Fasting Regimens: Consumption of 20-25% of energy needs on scheduled fasting days (such as the 5:2 diet, in which you eat normally for 5 days of the week and restrict calories for 2 days of the week).
  • Time-Restricted Feeding: Consume food within specific windows, which induces fasting periods on a routine basis (such as the “16/8” method, in which you fast for 16 hours each day, eating only between a noon to 8 p.m. window).

I prefer a modified version of the 16/8 method, which is less restrictive, but delivers similar results:

  • Eat three meals a day.
  • Take time to enjoy a satisfying breakfast.
  • Make lunch your main meal of the day; eating enough to get to dinner without snacking.
  • Finish with a light dinner by 8 p.m. or earleir. No food after that. Eating late at night leads to weight gain.
  • Wake up and break your 10–12 hour fast
  • Drink lots of of water in-between meals

Skipping breakfast may not effect body weight, but it does increase 24-hour blood glucose levels in the short term. More studies are still needed to determine if breakfast skipping is beneficial, neutral or detrimental for your health in the long-term. Some say it’s wise to “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.”

How it Works

Burning fat actually refers to the process of using fat as fuel, or your main source of energy. But fat is only one kind of fuel that can be utilized by your body; the other is carbohydrates (or sugars). When your body has both available, it burns the sugars first and the fat second.

A widely popularized theory to stabilize blood sugar is to eat 5–6 small meals throughout the day. However, when your body is being fed every 2–3 hours, it has no incentive to burn its stored fat for energy. When you eat three meals a day with ample time between meals, your body is forced to burn stored fat.

Once fat is restored as an active fuel supply, you’ll enjoy the benefits of increased energy, more stable moods, greater mental clarity, better sleep, fewer cravings, and natural—permanent weight management. By doing these “mini fasts” between meals, you are training your body to use your fat reserves as fuel, which is one important way to Master Your Metabolism.

To your good health,

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MCT Makes It Easy for Bodybuiders to Stay on Ketogenic Diet

If you’re a body builder, you may have followed a ketogenic diet in order to lean out and look ripped right before an upcoming show.

When you eat a diet with few carbs, lots of fat, and adequate protein, your body responds to the lower levels of blood sugar by switching to an alternative power source. It converts fatty acids to ketones, which become your main energy source.

Translation: Instead of burning carbs, your body burns FAT.

Feel the burn. Not the pain. 

According to recent studies, a ketogenic diet is an optimal method for shedding body fat and exposing toned muscles. Here are some specific benefits of a ketogenic diet:

  • If adequate amounts of protein are consumed while in a state of ketosis, your body will spare protein and preserve muscle.
  • Many beneficial hormones (GH, testosterone, and IGF-I) are released, which leads to more fat breakdown and lean muscle growth.
  • You may experience decreased appetite and fewer carb cravings, making dieting easier to accomplish.

Here’s the problem: Preparing meals and adhering to the strict guidelines of a ketogenic diet can be extremely difficult for many as it involves a very rigid ratios of carbs, proteins, and fat.

Fortunately, simply combining MCT Lean MCT Oil with a reduced carbohydrate diet can generate therapeutic blood ketone levels and deliver all the benefits of following a ketogenic diet—without the struggle.


Want to build lean muscle and a strong body via a ketogenic diet?

Get started today with MCT Oil or Vegan Protein Blend (or both—they’re the perfect pair)!

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By Karen Malkin Health Counseling 

Good for the liver, immune system, gut, and more…

To me, the change of seasons means I get to enjoy more fresh nutrient-dense goodness of greens such as spinach, kale, and Swiss chard.

Spring is the ideal time to introduce these power-packed vegetables to your diet; it’s nature’s time of rebirth, and the greens that grow now are designed to rejuvenate and cleanse your body after the winter season of slowing down and eating warmer, heavier foods.

The list of beneficial properties offered by greens is long and includes:

  • improving circulation
  • promoting healthy gut flora
  • improving liver function
  • strengthening the immune system
  • clearing congestion

Greens provide a whole host of valuable nutrients, micronutrients, and phytonutrients. Chlorophyll (found in all green vegetables) is a powerful blood builder akin to liquid oxygen!

If you are trying to get pregnant, you can benefit from the high folate content in greens. And if you need to increase your calcium intake, leafy greens beats milk because it doesn’t put the body into an acidic state the way dairy does. Here are some greens with significant amounts of calcium:

  • cooked beet greens
  • dandelion greens
  • turnip greens
  • kale
  • collards
  • parsley
  • watercress

Try a variety of methods such as steaming, boiling, sautéing in oil, water sautéing, waterless cooking or lightly pickling, as in a pressed salad.

  • Boiling makes greens plump and relaxed. Boil for less than a minute so the nutrients in the greens don’t get lost in the water. If you’re using organic greens, drink the cooking water as a health-giving broth or tea!
  • Steaming makes greens more fibrous and tight, which is great if you’re trying to lose weight. Raw salad is also a wonderful preparation for greens. It’s refreshing, cooling, and supplies live enzymes.

Get into the habit of adding the following leafy green veggies to your daily diet, and notice what happens to your energy levels, your complexion, and your waistline.

If you have some garden space, why not try growing your own?

What Does the Gut Have to Do with It?
Along with the garden in your backyard, there’s also a “garden” in your gut, and it’s comprised of a complex network of trillions of microorganisms that work together to help you maintain vibrant health and achieve permanent weight loss. This is because of their influence on metabolism, appetite regulation, energy expenditure, endocrine regulation, inflammation, and insulin resistance. In fact, the influence is so strong that studies show that imbalanced gut flora contributes to obesity.

To prime your gut to work with nature and help reboot your system—and replenish your microflora, load up on leafy greens. An exciting discovery out of Australia suggests that due to an unusual sugar molecule found in them (sugar sulfoquinovose, or SQ), leafy greens are essential for feeding good gut bacteria. SQ evidently limits the ability of bad bacteria to colonize the gut by shutting them out of the prime “real estate.”

Your Healthiest Option
As always, I recommend you purchase ORGANIC fruit and vegetables as they are better for your health (and the health of the environment)! If it’s not in your budget to do this, consult the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list and prioritize buying organic for these fruits and veggies—they are the ones sprayed with the highest amount of pesticides.

To your good health,

Are you looking to reduce your toxic load with a metabolism re-set this Spring? Sign up for one of my 14 Day Transformation programs here:

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What’s in your tap water? – filter for optimal health!

By Karen Malkin – Karen Malkin Health Counselsing

Water is the driving force of all nature.” — Leonardo DaVinci

Did you know that nearly all the major systems in your body depend on water?

Water moistens sensitive tissues, lubricates joints, protects organs, regulates body temperature, helps dissolve minerals to make them accessible to your body, carries nutrients and oxygen to cells and lessens the burden on the kidney and liver by flushing out waste. That’s why it’s so important to stay hydrated! As a reminder, your daily requirement is half your body weight in ounces.

Your Water Source
It’s tempting to drink straight from your tap, but is the water safe? To make it easier to understand exactly what’s in your water, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has pulled together a comprehensive database of drinking water quality reports by zip code. Click here to find the results for your area.

According to the EWG’s study, “The vast majority of the nation’s drinking water supplies get a passing grade from federal and state regulatory agencies. However, many of the 250-plus contaminants detected through water sampling and testing are at levels that are perfectly legal under the Safe Drinking Water Act or state regulations, but well above levels authoritative scientific studies have found to pose health risks.”(1) This is where we can take action.

Greater Chicago Water Contaminants

For our greater Chicago area (I pulled the results for the north shore areas) and 10 contaminants were shown to be present at levels higher than what’s considered safe.

  • Arsenic

  • Bromodichloromethane

  • Chloroform

  • Chromium (hexavalent)

  • Dibromochloromethane

  • Dichloroacetic acid

  • Radiological contaminants

  • Total trihalomethanes (TTHMs)

  • Trichloroacetic acid

  • Hormones

Of these contaminants, I’d like to focus on chromium-6 or hexavalent chromium. It’s naturally occurring, but mostly a chemical byproduct of industry. Made notorious by the film “Erin Brockovich,” hexavalent chromium is unregulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act. California state scientists have established a level at which this chemical poses a negligible risk of cancer for people who drink it daily for a lifetime.(2) It has been detected in levels HIGHER than that in drinking water supplies for more than 250 million Americans in all 50 states. This is alarming.

Fortunately, there are ways to clean this up so you can safeguard your health. As part of the study, the EWG has provided suggestions for specific filters—across all price ranges from simple pitches to whole-home systems—that pull out specific contaminants found in your tap water.

Here are a few filter options to pull out hexavalent chromium from your tap water.

PITCHERZeroWater 8-Cup Stainless Steel Pitcher

  • Uses ion exchange and granular activated carbon

  • Only pitcher certified by NSF to reduce both lead and chromium

  • BPA free

  • TDS (total dissolved solids) meter that provides a digital reading so you know when it is time to change your filter

DISPENSERZeroWater 23-Cup Dispenser 

  • Uses ion exchange and granular activated carbon

  • Only pitcher certified by NSF to reduce both lead and chromium

  • BPA free

  • TDS (total dissolved solids) meter that provides a digital reading so you know when it is time to change your filter

  • One-handed “push to dispense” spout to fill any bottle or cup

PLUMBED-IN, SEPARATE TAPMicroline Reverse Osmosis System TFC-435

  • Uses reverse osmosis and granular activated carbon

  • Up to 35 gallons per day

  • NSF Standard 58 Certified System

  • 4-stage TFC (thin film composite) performance

  • Comes with 1 free set of replacement filters

PLUMBED IN: Whether or not your water is harmful of helpful depends on what’s in it. Distillers and reverse osmosis systems come the closest to removing most contaminants. If you are on public water, call your water provider and ask for the Annual Consumer Confidence Report which will contain a list of regulated contaminants in your water.

For public/municipal water supplies, pay attention to what is intentionally put into your water to disinfect it for you. Numerous contaminants naturally occur in well water. If you are on a well, it’s important to have your water independently tested for contaminants. Know the contaminants in your specific water, and find filters that remove them. Download Environmental Working Group’s water filter guide here.

For a list of 70+ more filters that take out hexavalent chromium, click here.


Karen’s Corner 

SAVE THE DATE: Please join me me on Wednesday, April 18th at The Four Seasons Chicago! Keynote, Tieraona-Low Don, MD, will speak on her latest book “Life is Your best Medicine”! I am chairing this event and created an anti-inflammatory menu with the chef. The food will be amazing! Click here for tickets or reach out to me directly by replying to this e-mail. Join me in supporting my mission to help change the way we practice medicine by supporting the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Northwestern Medicine.

MUST SEE DOCUMENTARY: I sponsored a documentary film at Sundance Film Festival, The Devil We Know, unraveling one of the biggest environmental scandals of our time, a group of citizens in West Virginia take on a powerful corporation after they discover it has knowingly been dumping a toxic chemical- PFOA- into the water supply. PFOA is found in the blood of 99.7% of Americans and used to make Teflon, Gortex, Scotchguard, and many other products.

Are you looking to reduce your toxic load with a metabolism re-set this Spring? Sign up for one of my 14 Day Transformation programs here:

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