Estrogen Dominance

Estrogen Dominance Overview:

Estrogen dominance is a term used to describe a dysfunctional disparity between estrogen and progesterone. It doesn't specifically mean high estrogen. it can involve HIGH estrogen, with LOW/NORMAL progesterone, or NORMAL estrogen, with LOW progesterone.

It's important to differentiate this relationship because simply reducing estrogen or boosting progesterone can push the balance further out of order if an incorrect assumption is made.



+ Estrogen Excess

Estrogen excess causes symptoms such as fluid retention (through changes to fluid osmolarity threshold through mechanisms involving ADH and ACTH), extended menstrual cycle and spotting in the luteal phase.

Estrogen excess is a condition involving a high estrogen to progesterone ratio. It can occur for many reasons, and can change depending on the timing in the menstrual cycle. Estrogen dominance can involve high or normal estrogen and low or normal progesterone.

Estrogen is converted from C19 steroids to estrogen via aromatase. This enzyme is encoded in the liver by the CYP19 gene [9]. E1 and E2 are metabolised by the phase 1 liver detoxification enzyme CYP1A1 into 2-hydroxy catechol metabolites with weak binding capacity and oestrogenic activity (potentially even antiestrogenic) [10].

Another set of enzymes encoded by the CYP3A4 and CYP3A7 convert E1 and E2 into 16-hydroxy catechols that are reported to have strong oestrogenic activity and binding capacity and are associated with increased proliferation of endometrial tissue [11]. CYP1B1 converts E1 and E2 into 4-hydroxy catechol oestrogen [12], which is also an active metabolite.

Therefore, shifting the ratio between 2-hydroxy, 4-hydroxy, and 16-hydroxy catechol oestrogens is an important therapeutic mechanism when addressing concerns over estrogen dominance.

This is achieved through inhibition of the 16-hydroxy catechol producing CYP3A4, and 4-hydroxy catechol producing CYP3B1, and inducing the 2-hydroxy catechol oestrogen producing CYP1A1.

High Xenoestrogen Exposure

Exposure to xenoestrogens in the environment may cause symptoms of estrogen excess. Removal of these factors is the first line of treatment if this is suspected.

Poor Liver Metabolism

Estrogen is broken down in the liver, and eliminated through the digestive tract. There are 3 main reasons why the liver may have difficulty eliminating estrogen, allowing it to gradually increase in concentration, or remain elevated for longer than it should.

  1. Nutrient deficiencies (vitamin B6, magnesium, copper, and zinc are all needed for metabolising estrogen)
  2. Liver disease, such as NAFLD, AFLD, or hepatitis may interfere with liver function
  3. Increased demand on the liver, reducing clearance of estrogens

+ Progesterone Deficiency

Progesterone has a negative feedback effect on the hypothalamus to reduce the effects of the HPG, while estrogen has a (mostly) positive feedback effect on the HPG. This means that estrogen is more likely to become in excess than progesterone is, however, it's crucial that this differentiation is made in order to provide effective treatment.

Low Dopamine

Low dopamine results in elevated prolactin levels, which can reduce progesterone levels. There are several causes for lowered dopamine levels:

  1. Nutrient deficiencies (such as tyrosine, magnesium, B6)

High Stress

Stress is thought to be a major cause for lowered progesterone levels through a theory called the "progesterone steal". this is a theory, and has not yet been proven. it suggests that the manufacture of cortisol during stressed states takes priority over progesterone production by robbing a common precurser, progesterone, from the cycle in order to make cortisol.

Screenshot 2018-06-09 17.54.40.png

+ Symptoms of High Estrogen

  • Fluid retention
  • Breast tenderness/Swelling

+ Symptoms of Low Progesterone

  • Poor concentration
  • Fluid retention
  • Clotting
  • Spotting
  • Depression/anxiety
  • Burnign throat
  • Cysts in breasts
  • Swollen breasts
  • Dry skin
  • Hair loss
  • Menorrhagia

General Symptoms:









Diagnostic Considerations:


Therapeutic Aims:

1. Address Nutrient Deficiencies

  • Magnesium(Magnesium glycinate, Magnesium orotate, Magnesium threonate, Magnesium citrate)
  • Iron
  • Fatty Acids(Omega 3 fatty acids, omega 9 fatty acids)

2. Improve Estrogen Clearance

If estrogen levels are in excess

  • Choleretics(Gentiana lutea, Taraxicum officinale radix, Cynara scolymus, Schisandra chinensis, Rosmarinus officinalis)
  • Nutritional Considerations(DIM, increase fiber intake, Magnesium, B6, Zinc)
  • Alteratives(Taraxicum officinale folia)
  • Specific CYP3A1 Inducers(Rosmarinus officinalis, Silybum marianum)
  • Specific CYP3A4 Inhibitors(Turnera diffusa, Paeonia lactiflora, Rosmarinus officinalis, Silybum marianum)
  • Nutritional Considerations(DIM, increase fiber intake, Magnesium, B6, Zinc)

3. Increase Progesterone Production

If progesterone is low

  • Dopaminergics(Trichilia catigua, Vitex agnus-castus, Cimicifuga racemosa)
  • Nutritional Considerations(Magnesium, vitamin B6, fatty acids)
  • Prolactin Inhibitors(Withania somnifera)

4. Symptomatic Support For PMS

Fluid retention, depression, cramping, spotting/menorrhagia

  • Diuretics(Galium aparine, Taraxicum officinale, Urtica doica)
  • Nervines(Passiflora incarnata, Scutellaria lateriflora, Piper methysticum)
  • Antispasmodics(Passiflora incarnata, Zingiber officinale, Achillea millefolium, Lavandula angustifolia, Verbascum thapsus)
  • PGE Inhibitors (Tanacetum parthenium, Zingiber officinalis)
  • Antihemorrhagic(Achillea millefolium, Capsella bursa-pastoris, Alchemilla vulgaris, Rehmannia glutinosa)

Differential Diagnosis:

  • Hypothyroidism
  • Menopause
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Ovarian cancer
  • PCOS
  • PCOD


  • Anemia
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Endometriosis
  • Hyppthyroidism


It's important to differentiate between progesterone deficiency, and estrogen excess, both will often present with similar symptoms.


Herbs For Estrogen Dominance:

Out of all the available herbs for estrogen dominance, Vitex appears to be the safest, and has the greatest level of evidence for normalising hormones in the presence of both progesterone deficiency, and estrogen excess.

Other Herbs to Consider

  • Feverfew
  • Ginger
  • Vitex agnus-castus
  • Shatvari
  • Capsella bursa pastoris
  • yarrow
  • Ladys mantle
  • Catuaba?
  • Dandilion
  • Cleavers
  • Withania
  • American skullcap
  • Passionflower
  • Lavender

Sample Estrogen Dominance Formula

Herb Name Ratio Amount in mL
Vitex agnus-castus 1:2 15 mL
Taraxicum officinale (Leaf) 1:2 20 mL
Taraxicum officinale (Root) 1:2 20 mL
Scutellaria lateriflora 1:2 20 mL
Gallium aparine 1:2 30 mL
Total 105 mL


Justin Cooke

The Sunlight Experiment

Updated: November 2017

Recent Blog Posts:


  1. Stachenfeld, N. S. (2008). Sex hormone effects on body fluid regulation. Exercise and sport sciences reviews, 36(3), 152.

  2. Fitzgerald, P., & Dinan, T. G. (2008). Prolactin and dopamine: what is the connection? A review article. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 22(2_suppl), 12-19.

  3. Bone, K., & Mills, S. Y. (2013). Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy, Modern Herbal Medicine, 2: Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy. Elsevier Health Sciences.

  4. Hoffmann, D. (2003). Medical herbalism: the science and practice of herbal medicine. Simon and Schuster.

  5. Lessey, B. A., & Young, S. L. (2014, September). Homeostasis imbalance in the endometrium of women with implantation defects: the role of estrogen and progesterone. In Seminars in reproductive medicine (Vol. 32, No. 05, pp. 365-375). Thieme Medical Publishers.

  6. Cousins, L. M., Hobel, C. J., Chang, R. J., Okada, D. M., & Marshall, J. R. (1977). Serum progesterone and estradiol-17β levels in premature and term labor. American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, 127(6), 612-615.

  7. Yu, L. L., Song, P. L., Guo, Z. L., Mu, Z. X., & CHEN, M. (2003). The Therapeutic Effect of Traditional Chinese Medicine Prescription Zhuyun III on Kidney-Deficiency and Luteal Phase Defect Aborting Rat Model [J]. Reproduction and Contraception, 1, 003.

  8. Shozu, M., Sebastian, S., Takayama, K., Hsu, W. T., Schultz, R. A., Neely, K., ... & Bulun, S. E. (2003). Estrogen excess associated with novel gain-of-function mutations affecting the aromatase gene. New England Journal of Medicine, 348(19), 1855-1865.

  9. Simpson, E. R., Mahendroo, M. S., Means, G. D., Kilgore, M. W., Hinshelwood, M. M., Graham-Lorence, S., ... & Mendelson, C. R. (1994). Aromatase cytochrome P450, the enzyme responsible for estrogen biosynthesis. Endocrine reviews, 15(3), 342-355.

  10. Hamilton-Reeves, J. M., Rebello, S. A., Thomas, W., Slaton, J. W., & Kurzer, M. S. (2007). Soy Protein Isolate Increases Urinary Estrogens and the Ratio of 2: 16 α-Hydroxyestrone in Men at High Risk of Prostate Cancer. The Journal of nutrition, 137(10), 2258-2263.

  11. Obi, N., Vrieling, A., Heinz, J., & Chang-Claude, J. (2011). Estrogen metabolite ratio: Is the 2-hydroxyestrone to 16α-hydroxyestrone ratio predictive for breast cancer?. International journal of women's health, 3, 37.

  12. Hanna, I. H., Dawling, S., Roodi, N., Guengerich, F. P., & Parl, F. F. (2000). Cytochrome P450 1B1 (CYP1B1) pharmacogenetics: association of polymorphisms with functional differences in estrogen hydroxylation activity. Cancer Research, 60(13), 3440-3444.


Endometriosis Overview:

Endometriosis is characterised by the growth of endometrial tissue growing outside the uterine cavity. It can appear on the ovaries or elswhere within the pelvic cavity. Due to the endometrial tissues sensitivity to female hormones, symptoms can vary at differing points in the menstrual cycle as the tissue responds to the estrogen levels.

The most common symptom of endometriosis is pelvic pain and inflammation as a result of the "shedding" of endometrial tissue during menstruation, which then pools outside of the uterine cavity, causing irritation and inflamamtion. Adhesion is also common and can cause organ dislocation and significant pain irrelevant of menstrual cycle.

  • 5% of women affected, not all symptomatic
  • 20-40% of infertile women affected
  • Up to 50% of women with Chronic pelvic pain affected


+ 1. Retrograde flow

This theory suggests that backwards flow of menstrual flow implants endometrial tissue outside the uterus. Since a large number of women without endometriosis also have this backwards flow, it's suggested that the immune system plays a key role with this pathophysiology.

In healthy women, the immune system is able to identify and prevent the growth of endometrial tissues outside the uterus. People with defective immune funciton may not have the capacity for preventing the growth of endometrial tissue outside the uterus.

+ 2. Migration of endometrial tissue through fallopian tissue

still compiling research.

+ 3. Migration of endometrial tissue through lymphatic tissue

Still compiling research.


Risk Factors:

  • 2-3x risk with family history
  • Early menarche
  • Long and heavy periods
  • Familial link – mother or sister with it increases the likelihood by 7%
  • Strenuous physical activity while menstruating increases the risk but regular
  • exercise throughout the month seems to decrease the risk
  • Full-term pregnancies – the risk lessens with each pregnancy
  • Using an IUD
  • Caffeine
  • Increased consumption of alcohol
  • Sex during menstruation

Stages Of Endometriosis:

Stage Definition
0 Minimal disease, no haemorrhage
1 Minimal disease, haemorrhage, no adhesion
2 Progression with haemorrhage, some adhesion
3 Progression to organ destruction, dense adhesions
4 Total loss of reproductive function, extensive organ damage, dense adhesions, frozen pelvis


Severe dysmenorrhoea

Chronic pelvic pain



Significant lethargy (especially before menses)

Premenstrual spotting

Heavy menstrual bleeding

Pain with bowel motion

Painful abdominal bloating

Urinary urgency

Pain on urination

Increased incidence of infection around menses

Predisposition to autoimmune disorders

No pain symptoms (Uncommon)

Prolonged menstruation


Diagnostic Considerations:

Diagniostic criteria require laparoscopy and peritoneal biopsy of endometriotic tissue lesions or nodules outside the uterus. 


Therapeutic Aims:

1. Modulate Oestrogen / Balance Hormones

  • Phytoestrogens (Hops, Soy)
  • Hepatics (Milk Thistle, Schisandra chinensis, Curcuma longa, Cynara scolymus)
  • Aromatase inhibitors (Paeonia lactiflora, Licorice)
  • Progesteronergics (Chaste Tree, Alchemilla vulgaris, Paeonia lactiflora, Alchemilla vulgaris)
  • Lymphatics (Calendula officinalis, Phytolacca decandra, Galium aparine)

2. Reduce Bleeding

  • Antihemorrhagics (Panax notoginseng, Alchemilla vulgaris, Capsella bursa-pastoris, Trillium erectum)
  • Flavonoids (Yarrow, Capsella bursa-pastoris)
  • PGE Inhibitors (Tanacetum parthenium, Zingiber officinalis)
  • Nutrients (Iron)

3. Minimise Inflammation, Scarring, And Adhesions

  • Venous Decongestants (Calendula, Iris versicolor, Thuja occidentalis, Trifolium pratense, Viola odorata, Hammelis virginiana, Aesculus hippocastanum, Ruscus aculeatus)
  • Circulatory Tonics (Yarrow, Aesculus hippocastanum, Ginkgo biloba)
  • Antinflammatories (Ginger, Tanacetum vulgare, Curcuma longa, Bupleurum falcatum, Viburnum opulus, Scutellaria baicalensis, Zingiber officinalis)

4. Alleviate Pain

  • PGE Inhibitors (Tanacetum parthenium, Zingiber officinalis)
  • Uterine Antispasmodics (Viburnum opulus, Dioscorea viollosa, Asparagus racemosa, Rubus ideaus)
  • Uterine Tonics (Angelica sinensis, Caulophyllum thalictroides, Rubus ideaus, Aletris fainosa, Asparagus racemosus)
  • Analgesics (Piscidia erythaeum, Corydalis ambigua, Zingiber officinalis)

5. Enhance The Immune Response

(Cell mediated Immunity)

  • Immunomodulators (Cat's Claw, Hemidesmus indicus, Astragalus membranaceus, Rehmannia glutinosa, Echinaceae spp.)
  • Adaptogens (Rehmannia glutinosa, Glycyrrhiza glabra, Eleutherococus senticosus, Withania somnifera, Rhodiola rosea)

Differential Diagnosis:

  • Chronic pelvic inflammation
  • Fibroids
  • Uterine cancer
  • Ovarian cancer


None noted.


Herbs For Endometriosis:

  • vitex

Nutrients For Endometriosis:

  • Fiber
  • Omega 3 Fatty acids
  • Bitter foods
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Iron


Justin Cooke

The Sunlight Experiment

Updated: July 2018

Recent Blog Posts:


  1. Murray, M. T., & Pizzorno, J. (2012). The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine Third Edition. Simon and Schuster.

Fatty Liver Disease

Fatty Liver Disease Overview:

There are 2 main forms of fatty liver disease. Non alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and alcoholic fatty liver disease (AFLD). It is a spectrum of diseases starting from the least severe (seatosis), and increasing in severeity (steatohepatitis, fibrosis, cirrhosis).

NAFLD is most often caused by metabolic syndrome, while AFLD is specifically caused by chronic alcoholism. Both conditions eventually lead to end stage liver disease (cirrhosis).



+ Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (AFLD)

Small amounts of alcohol is generally well tolerated in the human body, and fails to result in damage to the liver. In excess, however, serious complications can arise.

The detoxification of alcohol involves 3 separate pathways, each leading to the conversion of alcohol to acetaldehyde.

  1. Catalase (Peroxisomes)
  2. Alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH)
  3. Cytochrome P450 2E1

The main pathway that causes alcoholic fatty liver disease is the alcohol dehydrogenase pathway. This pathway requires NAD+, which is converted to NADH during the process. With less NAD+, and more NADH, the liver is forced to produce MORE fatty acids, and oxidise less, leading to increased fat storage in the hepatocytes (steatosis).

+ Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD)

This is the liver manifestation of metabolic syndrome. It results from the loss of sensitivity to insulin, dysfunctional blood glucose regulation, high blood lipid levels, abdominal adiposity, and the accumulation of free fatty acids in the hepatocytes.

Fatty deposits form when the synthesis of fatty acids exceeds the ability to export or metabolise them. This causes oxidative stress, hepatic stenosis, and inflammation in the liver.

Phase 1

With insulin resistance, fat storage increases, fatty acid oxidation decreases. This causes the formation of fat droplets to grow inside the hepatocytes of the liver. Over time, this begins to push the nuclei to the edges of the cell. This is called steatosis.

Phase 2

These accumulated fatty acids begin to degrade, creating water and unstable fatty acid radical molecules, which itself reacts with other fatty acids and cascading lipid membrane dysfunction. This can lead to mitochondral dysfunction and cell death. As these cells die, it causes inflammation. This is called non-alcoholic steatohepetitis (NASH).

Phase 3

As inflammation continues, stellate cells in the liver begins to lay down fibrotic tissue. This is called fibrosis.

Phase 4

As fibrosis continues, the architechture of the liver changes permenantly, eventually leading to failure. This is called cirrhosis.





Pain (URQ)


Enlarged blood vessels just beneath the skin

Enlarged breasts (Men)



Red palms



Diagnostic Considerations:

Liver Function Testing Considerations:

Parameter Reference Range Common Findings
AST (Aspartate Aminotransferase) 10-35 U/L High
ALT (Alanine Aminotransferase) 5-30 U/L High
Albumin 32-45 g/L High
Alkaline Phosphatase 25-120 U/L High
Bilirubin Range High
GGT (Gamma Glutamyltransferase) Males - <50 U/L
Females - <30
High (Especially in AFLD)
Lactate Dehydrogenase 80-240 U/L High
MCV (mean Corpuscular Volume) 80-100fL High
Uric Acid Male - 0.20-0.45 mmol/L
Female - 0.15-0.40 mmol/L

Therapeutic Aims:

1. Reduce Xenobiotic Load

  • Diet (Elimination of alcohol, dietary fat, caffeine, refined carbohydrates)

2. Increase Transit Time Of The Digestive Tract

  • Dietary Fiber

3. Protect Hepatocytes

  • Hepatic Trophorestoratives (Cynara scolymus, Silybum marianum, Shisandra chinensis)

4. Improve Hepatobiliary Function

  • Cholagogues & Choleretics (Taraxicum officinale, Cynara scolymus)

5. Reduce hepatic Inflammatory Changes

  • Inhibit TNF-a and NF-kB (Curcuma longa)

6. Reduce Oxidative Damage

  • Antioxidants (Curcuma longa, Camellia sinensis, Schisandra chinensis, Rosmarinus officinalis)

7. Reduce Blood Lipids

  • Hypolipidaemics (Trigonella foeniculumgraecum)

Differential Diagnosis:

  • Hepatitis
  • Diabetes
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Renal failure


  • Chronic alcoholism
  • Diabetes
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Hepatitis




Herbs For Fatty Liver Disease:



Justin Cooke

The Sunlight Experiment

Updated: May 2018

Recent Blog Posts:


  1. ...

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

Inflammatory Bowel Disease Overview:

Inflammatory bowel disease is a recurring inflammatory condition in the lower gastrointestinal tract. There are 2 main types of inflammatory bowel conditions; Crohn's disease, and ulcerative colitis.

T cell regulation:

  • vitamin D
  • Zinc
  • Selenium
  • Probiotics


Experienced by about 33,000 Australians and is most prevelent in the Jewish descent. 

In both of these conditions, an inflammatory response is triggered when contents of the intestinal tract (lumen) enter the inner layers of the epithelial tissue (lamina propria) where immunomodulatory macrophages are located. When these macrophages are activated, inflammatory cytokines are released including TNF-a, IL-1, IL-6, and interferon-gamma. This causes further inflammation, promotes coagulation of blood, and increases the release of free radical compounds from the macrophages in the area. 

Depending on the condition (Crohns or Ulcerative colitis), the distribution of TNF-a reactive macrophages are different, which results in slightly different symptoms. 

Ultimately, the end result of each condition is a self-perpetuating state of inflammation in the digestive tissue, causing contents to leak out from the lumen, and into the deeper layers of the intestinal tissue. Eventually, this damage becomes so severe, contents begin leaking into the blood stream directly, which then interferes with other organs like the liver, brain, lungs, and skin. 

+ Crohn's Disease

Increased TNF-a activity reduces anticoagulant mediators (such as thrombomodulin), [7], and promotes procoagulant factors [8] TNF-a activated macrophages clustering around the arterioles and venules infiltrate and disrupt the vascular endothelium [10].

In effect, Crohns has a stronger affect on the vascular tissues of the digestive tract, and tnds to form clusters of inflammation around these areas. It can appear anywhere along the digestive tract, from the mouth to the anus.

+ Ulcerative Cholitis

In ulcerative colitis, the majority of inflammatory activity can be attributed to the epithelioid macrophages, and is more evenly distributed within the lamina propria [8].

The result is a more widely distributed inflammatory picture with ulcerative colitis than Crohns, with less clotting and infiltration of the vascular tissue. Ulcerative colitis also has a higher affinity for the large intestines, which is likely the reason why bleeding from the rectum is more common in this condition (closer proximity).

Ulcerative colitis comes with an increased of colon cancer, perforations and obstructions in the digestive tract. Systemically this condition is linked with rheumatoid arthritis, liver disorders, and inflammation involving the sclera of the eyes.

+ Diverticulitis

This condition is sometimes included under the category of inflammatory bowel disease, but has slightly different pathology. it involves the formation of outpounchings (diverticulae) in the digestive mucosa, which pokes through musclular layers. This usually occurs in the sigmoid colon. Faeces and bacteria can accumulate in these pouches, resulting with infection. This infection si what we refer to as diverticulitis.

This condition is associated with a low fiber diet, poor gut wall integrity, increased intestinal pressure, and a narrowing of the intestinal lumen diameter.

Diverticulitis may be asymptomatic, but most commonly has similar symptoms to other forms of inflammatory bowel disease or IBS.

This condition comes with several red flags, including gastrointestinal hemorrhage, fistula formation, perforations, and abscess formations.



Abdominal Cramping



Urgency With Bowel Movements


Rectal Bleeding

Weight Loss


Irregular Menstrual Cycle


Diagnostic Considerations:

From this pathophysiological process, Crohns has some distinct differences to ulcerative colitis including:
* The affected location can appear anywhere in the digestive tract, compared to ulcerative colitis mainly affecting the large intestine. 
* Inflammation tends to form patches, compared to large, uninterupted sections of inflammation with ulcerative colitis
* Rectal bleeding is much more common with ulcerative colitis than Crohns

Differences Between Crohns & Ulcerative Colitis

Crohns Ulcerative Colitis
Inflammation Patterns Multiple, separated sections of inflamed and damaged tissue. Large, ininterrupted area of inflammation.
Location Anywhere along the digestive tract. Most common in the large intestine.
Rectal Bleeding Not common. Common.
Inflammatory Factors Involved IL-1, IL-6, TNF-a, IFN-γ TNF-α, IL-12, IL-23, IL-17 and IFN-β

Lab Tests For IBD

Lab Test Crohns Ulcerative Colitis
CRP >5 mg/L. >5 mg/L
ESR Female: >19 mm in 1 hour
Male: >10 mm in 1 hour
Female: >19 mm in 1 hour
Male: >10 mm in 1 hour
Lymphocytes >7.5% >7.5%
Hemoglobin <140-150g/L <140-150g/L
Electrolytes Normal-Low Normal-Low
B12 <150pmol <150pmol
Bone Density Scan Normal-Low Normal-Low
pANCA Not likely Likely
ASCA Likely Not Likely

Cytokine Profiles Of CD and UC

Cytokine Crohns Ulcerative Colitis
IL-1 Normal in serum, increased in mucosa Normal in serum, increased in mucosa
IL-2 Increased Normal
IL-6 Increased Normal in serum, raised in mucosa
IL-8 Undetectable in serum Undetectable in serum, increased in mucosa
IFN-y Increased Normal
TNF-a Increased serum, increased mucosa Increased serum, increased mucosa

Therapeutic Aims:

1. Reduce Inflammation In The Digestive Tract

Regulate T cell, histamine, and inflammatory markers Systemically.

  • Immunomodulators(Ganoderma, Innonotus)
  • Antinflammatories(Boswellia serrata, Curcuma longa, Calendula officinalis)
  • Nutrients(Selenium, Vitamin D, Zinc)
  • Probiotics

2. Repair Gut Mucosa

  • Demulcents(Aloe vera, Althaea officnialis, Ulmus fulva, GLycyrhiza glabra)
  • Mucorestoratives(Hydrastis canadensis)
  • Astringents(Geranium maculatum)
  • Nutrients(Glutamine, Vitamins (A, B, C, and D), Zinc, Calcium, Iron)

3. Regulate Immune Function In The Presence Of Autoimmune Disorders

  • Immunomodulators(Ganoderma lucidum, Inonotus obliquus, Echinaceae purpurea, Andrographis paniculata, Hemidesmis indicus, Tylophora asthmatica)
  • TNF-a & NF-kB Inhibitors(Curcuma longa, Boswellia serrata)
  • COX/5-LOX Inhibitors(Curcuma longa, Boswellia serrata)
  • Antioxidants(Silybum marianum, Curcuma longa, Vaccinum myrtillus)
  • Nutrients(Zinc, Fish oil)

4. Improve Liver Function

  • Hepatics(Silybum marianum, Schisandra chinensis, Cynara scolymus)
  • Choleretics
  • Cholagogues

5. Fight Infection If Relevant

  • Antibacterials
  • Antifungals(Tabebuia impetiginosa)
  • Antiparasitics

6. Identify and Remove Food Intolerances

Such as dairy, gluten, fructose

6. Treat Diarrhea Symptomatically

Short term treatment only. The underlying cause should be the priority here.

  • Antidiarrheals(Matricaria recutita, Agrimonia eupatoria, Filipendula ulmaria)
  • Styptics(urtica dioica, Panax notoginseng, Achillea millefolium)

Differential Diagnosis:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Colon cancer
  • Celiac Disease
  • Food intolerances/allergies
  • Bacterial infection


  • Parasites
  • Candida
  • Asthma


Rule out colon cancer.


Herbs For IBD:

  • immunomodulators
    • echinacea
  • antinflammatories
    • calendula
    • curcuma longa
    • boswellia
  • Demulcents
    • aloe
    • linum 
    • trigonella
  • hepatics
    • cynara
    • silybum
    • berberis
    • hydrastis
    • berberis 


Justin Cooke

The Sunlight Experiment

Updated: March 2018

Recent Blog Posts:


  1. Roberts-Thomson, I. C., Fon, J., Uylaki, W., Cummins, A. G., & Barry, S. (2011). Cells, cytokines and inflammatory bowel disease: a clinical perspective. Expert review of gastroenterology & hepatology, 5(6), 703-716.
  2. Deem, R. L., Shanahan, F., & Targan, S. R. (1991). Triggered human mucosal T cells release tumour necrosis factor‐alpha and interferon‐gamma which kill human colonic epithelial cells. Clinical & Experimental Immunology, 83(1), 79-84.
  3. Doukas, J., & Pober, J. S. (1990). IFN-gamma enhances endothelial activation induced by tumor necrosis factor but not IL-1. The Journal of Immunology, 145(6), 1727-1733.
  4. Gross, V., Andus, T., Caesar, I., Roth, M., & Schölmerich, J. (1992). Evidence for continuous stimulation of interleukin-6 production in Crohn's disease. Gastroenterology, 102(2), 514-519.
  5. Hanauer, S. B. (2006). Inflammatory bowel disease: epidemiology, pathogenesis, and therapeutic opportunities. Inflammatory bowel diseases, 12(suppl_1), S3-S9.
  6. Kühl, A. A., Erben, U., Kredel, L. I., & Siegmund, B. (2015). Diversity of intestinal macrophages in inflammatory bowel diseases. Frontiers in immunology, 6, 613.
  7. Moore, K. L., Esmon, C. T., & Esmon, N. L. (1989). Tumor necrosis factor leads to the internalization and degradation of thrombomodulin from the surface of bovine aortic endothelial cells in culture. Blood, 73(1), 159-165.
  8. Murch, S. H., Braegger, C. P., Walker-Smith, J. A., & MacDonald, T. T. (1993). Location of tumour necrosis factor alpha by immunohistochemistry in chronic inflammatory bowel disease. Gut, 34(12), 1705-1709.
  9. Sandborn, W. J., & Hanauer, S. B. (1999). Antitumor necrosis factor therapy for inflammatory bowel disease: a review of agents, pharmacology, clinical results, and safety. Inflammatory bowel diseases, 5(2), 119-133.
  10. Wakefield, A. J., Dhillon, A. P., Rowles, P. M., Sawyerr, A. M., Pittilo, R. M., Lewis, A. A. M., & Pounder, R. E. (1989). Pathogenesis of Crohn's disease: multifocal gastrointestinal infarction. The Lancet, 334(8671), 1057-1062.

Peripheral Arterial Disease

Peripheral Arterial Disease Overview:

Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is a condition involving a narrowing of the arteries supplying various parts of the body (aside from the heart and brain). When this narrowing involves the heart it is considered to be coronary artery disease. When in the brain, the condition is referred to as cerebroavascular disease.

PAD most commonly affects the legs, but can also affect the arms and other areas of the body. It is often asymptomatic.



PAD has the same pathophysiology to atherosclerosis, and therefore has many of the same treatment options. 

+ Peripheral Artery Disease

PAD is a circulatory disease affecting the flow of blood to the extremities.

+ Raynaud's Syndrome

Raynaud's disease is a vascular problem affecting the microvascular system. It usually presents as numbness, discoloration, or tingling in the fingers relative to environmental changes such as cold weather.

+ Buerger's Disease

Also referred to as Thromboangiitis obliterans. It's an inflammatory process of the small and medium sized arteries. This condition leads to thrombotic changes, distal ischaemia, and superficial thrombophlebitis.

It's most common in male smokers between the ages of 20 and 40. The main therapeutic goal is to remove tobacco use. Doing this has significant positive outcome in most cases. Must rule out other forms of ischemia first.



Intermittent Claudication

Skin Ulcers

Blue Tinge To Skin

Cold Skin

Poor Nail & Hair Growth


Diagnostic Considerations:

  • Pulse oximetry

Therapeutic Aims:

1. Reduce Vascular Inflammation

  • Antinflammatories (Curcuma longa, Ruscus aculeatus)
  • Antioxidants (Silybum marianum, Camellia sinensis, Vitamin E)

2. Reduce Thrombotic Changes

  • Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors (Ginkgo biloba, Curcuma longa, Allium sativum)
  • Fibrinolytics (Salvia miltorrhiza, Allium sativum)

3. Reduce Vascular Damage

  • Vascular Trophorestoratives (Vitis vinifera, Vaccinum myrtillus, Centella asiatica, Crataegus oxycanthus)

4. Improve Peripheral Circulation

  • Peripheral Vasodilators (Ginkgo biloba, Achillea millefolium, Zingiber officinale, Capsicum frutescens, Zanthoxylum clava-herculis)

5. Excercise (Gentle)

6. Quit Smoking

Especially for Buerger's Disease


Differential Diagnosis:

  • Atherosclerosis
  • Chronic heart failure


  • Atherosclerosis
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Cerebrovascular disease




Herbs For PAD:

  • gingko biloba
  • Aesculus hippocastanum
  • Curcuma longa
  • Salvia miltorrhiza
  • Allium sativum
  • Vitis vinefera
  • Vaccinum myrtalis
  • Crataegus oxycanthus
  • Achillea millefolium
  • Capsicum frutescens
  • Zanthoxylum clava-herculis


Justin Cooke

The Sunlight Experiment

Updated: November 2017

Recent Blog Posts:


  1. ...

Peripheral Venous Disorders

Peripheral Venous Disorders Overview:

Peripheral Venous Disorders includes a variety of conditions that relate to poor functionality of the veins throughout the body. It can describe either a blockage, defects, or damage to the veins that return blood to the heart and lungs.

These conditions can ocurr anywhere in the body, but are most common in the limbs.



+ Chronic Venous Insufficiency

  • Involves insufficient venous return, usually from the limbs.
  • May be mild or asymptomatic in mild or early stages of the condition.
  • Involves general limb discomfort and skin changes including stasis dermatitis, ulcers, and oedema.

+ Postphlebitic Syndrome

  • Ocurrs after DVT but has the same signs and symptoms as chronic venous insufficiency


Swelling/Oedema In The Limbs

Limb discomfort

Stasis dermatitis

Skin ulcers


Diagnostic Considerations:

Class Signs/Symptoms
0 No signs of venous disease.
1 Ectatic or reticular veins.
2 Varicose veins.
3 Oedema.
4 Skin changes (due to venous stasis).
5 Skin changes (due to venous stasis and healed ulceration)
6 Skin changes (due to venous stasis and active ulceration)

*Stage 3 and above often involve significant dysfunctions with venous integrity. 


Therapeutic Aims:

1. Improve Vascular Integrity

  • Venous tonics (Ruscus aculeatus, Ginkgo biloba, Vitis vinifera, Centalla asiatica, Achillea millefolium, Aesculus hippocastanum)

2. Reduce Inflammation

  • Venous Antinflammatories (Ruscus aculeatus, Aesculus hippocastanum)
  • Antioxidants (Vitis vinifera, Crataegus oxycanthus)

3. Reduce Thrombotic Changes

  • Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors (Ginkgo biloba, Allium sativum, Vitamin E, Omega 3 Fatty Acids)
  • Fibrinolytics (Salvia miltorrhiza, Allium sativum)

4. Improve venous Return

  • Venous Tonics (Ruscus aculeatus, Aesculus hippocastanum)
  • Physical Measures (Leg elevation, Compression socks, Gentle Excercise)

5. Improve Peripheral Circulation

  • Peripheral Circulatory Stimulants (Zanthoxylum clava-herculis, Zingiber officinale)

6. Heal Wounds & Venous Stasis Ulcers

  • Topical Vulneraries (Calendula officinalis, Matricaria recutita, Hamamelis virginiana)

Differential Diagnosis:

  • Chronic heart failure


  • Skin ulceration and infection
  • Deep Vein Thrombosis


It's important to rule out deep vein thrombosis, renal disease, heart failure, and hypoalbuminuria.


Herbs For Peripheral Venous Disorders:

  • Ruscus aculeatus
  • Aesculus hippocastanum
  • Calendula officinalis
  • Matricaria recutita
  • Ginkgo biloba
  • Vitis vinefera
  • Crataegus oxycantha
  • Salvia miltorrhiza
  • Allium sativum
  • Aesculus hippocastanum


Justin Cooke

The Sunlight Experiment

Updated: November 2017

Recent Blog Posts:


  1. ...

Chronic Pain

Chronic Pain:

Chronic pain is not so much a condition, but a symptom. Nevertheless, its useful to understand this condition in its pathophysiology so that treatment options can be identified.

Chronic pain is generally defined as pain that lasts 3 or more months. Psychological processes may intensify or sensitise the body to pain.



+ Organ Damage

Organ damage from ischemia, traumatic injury, cancer, or toxic injury can all lead to persistent, chronic pain.

+ Nerve Damage

Nerve damage from trauma, viral infection (such as EBV or HSV), as well as post surgery can result in chronic pain.

+ Psychosomatic

Chronic and severe depression or psycological disorders can lead to functional pain disorders like CFS, PCOS, or fibromyalgia.


Other Associated Symptoms:

Redness and Inflammation

Tingling sensations in limbs





Diagnostic Considerations:

Chronic pain is diagnosed after 3 months of persistent pain.


Therapeutic Aims:

1. Reduce Inflammation

  • TNF-a and NF-kB Inhibitors (Curcuma longa, Boswellia serrata)
  • Inhibit Eicosanoid Production (Salix alba, Filipendula ulmaria, Populus tremula, Harpagophytum procumbens)
  • Glucocorticomimetics (Rehmannia glutinosa, Glycyrrhiza glabra)
  • Antioxidants (Vitis vinifera, Pinus pinasta)
  • Nutrients (Fish oil)

2. Restore Damaged Tissue

  • Vulneraries (Calendula officinalis)
  • Connective Tissue Tonics (Centella asiatica, Symphytum officinale, Vitis vinifera, Pinus pinasta)
  • Tissue-Specific Trophorestoratives

3. Reduce Pain

  • Analgesics (Eschscholtzia californica, Corydalis cava, Piscidia erythrina)
  • Sedatives (Piper methysticum, Valeriana officinalis)

4. Manage Affective Disorders

(Including mood)

  • Antidepressants (Hypericum perforatum)
  • Thymoleptics (Melissa officinalis, Turnera diffusa, Theobroma cacao)
  • Anxiolytics (Piper methysticum, Passiflora incarnata)
  • Sedatives (Scutellaria lateriflora, Passiflora incarnata, Piper methysticum, Valeriana officinalis)

5. Improve Sleep Quality

  • Sedatives (Eschscholtzia californica, Piscidia erythrina, Valeriana edulis, V. officinalis, Passiflora incarnata, Lavandula officinalis)

6. Improve Stress Adaptation

  • Adaptogens (Rhodiola rosea, Withania somnifera, Panax quinquefolius, Eleutherococcus senticosus, Panax ginseng)


  • Sleep disorders
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Obesity
  • Anxiety


Identifying the cause of pain is necessary to rule out more severe underlying conditions.


Herbs For Chronic Pain:



Justin Cooke

The Sunlight Experiment

Updated: April 2018

Recent Blog Posts:


  1. Merskey, H. E. (1986). Classification of chronic pain: descriptions of chronic pain syndromes and definitions of pain terms. Pain.
  2. Farrar, J. T., Young Jr, J. P., LaMoreaux, L., Werth, J. L., & Poole, R. M. (2001). Clinical importance of changes in chronic pain intensity measured on an 11-point numerical pain rating scale. Pain, 94(2), 149-158.

Chronic Heart Failure

Chronic Heart Failure Overview:

Chronic heart failure is a progressive disease affecting the hearts ability to pump blood to the rest of the body. The issue can arise from either systolic or diastolic dysfunctions, and may even occur together. With either case, the stroke volume of the heart is reduced, as well as cardiac reserve.

Although the end result is virtually the same, there are some differences depending on which part of the heart is affected.



+ Systolic Dysfunction

Involves inadequate ventricular contraction. This results in reduced ejection fraction. This condition can affect either the left ventricle or the right ventricle. Left ventricular failure almost always leads to right ventricular failure eventually.

Causes Include:

  • Myocardial infarction
  • Mycarditis
  • Dilated Cardiomyopathy

Signs & Symptoms:

  • Left Ventricular Failure:
    • Pulmonary oedema
  • Right Ventricular Failure:
    • Peripheral oedema
    • Liver dysfunction
    • Ascites

+ Diastolic Dysfunction

Involves impaired ventricular filling. The ejection fraction will remain close to normal with this condition.

Causes Include:

  • Valvular Disease
  • Prolonged Hypertension
  • Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy


Shortness of Breath

Swollen Ankles

Oedema Around The Abdomen

Weight Gain


Loss of Appetite




Diagnostic Considerations:

Functional Classification System

From The New York Heart Association

Class Description
Class 1 Patients have cardiac disease but without the resulting limitations of physical activity. Ordinary physical activity does not cause undue fatigue, palpitation, dyspnoea or anginal pain.
Class 2 Patients have cardiac disease resulting in slight limitation of physical activity. They are comfortable at rest. Ordinary physical activity results in fatigue, palpitation, dyspnoea or anginal pain.
Class 3 Patients have cardiac disease resulting in marked limitation of physical activity. They are comfortable at rest. Less than ordinary physical activity causes fatigue, palpitation, dyspnoea or anginal pain.
Class 4 Patients have cardiac disease resulting in inability to carry on any physical activity without discomfort. Symptoms of cardiac insufficiency or of the anginal syndrome may be present even at rest. If any physical activity is undertaken, discomfort is increased.


Serum Creatinine High levels may indicate kidney dysfunction as the cause for high blood pressure and fluid buildup other than the heart.
Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN) High BUN may indicate kidney damage. This may be the result of severe heart failure, or a byproduct of ACE inhibitor usage.
Brain Natriuretic Peptide (BNP) BNP is made in the heart and should only be present in small amounts. High levels mau indicate heart failure.
Serum Albumin Low levels of albumin could indicate intestinal disorders (hypoalbuminemia), liver problems, or kidney disease as a cause for fluid buildups instead of the heart.
TSH, T3, Reverse T3, T4 Hyper or hypothyroid may cause cardiac arrythmias.
Urine Analysis Protein or blood in the urine may indicate kidney disorders.
Blood Glucose High levels of blood glucose may indicate diabetes, a major risk factor for heart disease.
Liver Function Testing heart disease may lead to fluid buildup in the liver.
Electrolytes Useful for assessing side effects of diuretic and ACE inhibitor medications.
Prothrombin Time (PT) Provides insight to clotting ability of the blood. Useful for assessing side effects of blood thinner medications.

Therapeutic Aims:

1. Improve Ventricular Competence

  • Positive Inotropic Substances (Crataegus oxycanthus, Astragalus membranaceus)
  • Vascular Tonics (Aesculus hippocastanum, Ginkgo biloba, Panax ginseng)
  • Antioxidants (Vitis vinefera)

2. Improve Myocardial Energy Metabolism

  • Nutritional (CoQ10, Magnesium, Taurine, B Vitamins)

3. Reduce Pulmonary Oedema or Peripheral Oedema

  • Diuretics (Taraxicum officinale, Olea europa)

4. Manage Risk Factors

  • Hypotensives (Crataegus oxycanthus, Allium sativum)
  • Hypoglycemics (Panax ginseng, Gymnema sylvestris, Stevia rebaudiana)
  • Coronary Vasodilators (Crataegus oxycantha)

7. Decrease Stress

  • Adaptogens (Panax ginseng, Eleutherococcus senticosus)
  • Thymoleptics (Melissa officinalis, Rosa centrifolia)
  • Antidepressants (Hypericum perforatum)
  • Anxiolytics (Passiflora incarnata, Zizyphus jujube, Piper methysticum)

Differential Diagnosis:

  • Cardiomyopathy


  • Sudden cardiac death
  • Hypertension
  • Fatty liver disease
  • Diabetes
  • Hypercholesterolemia
  • hypertriglyceridemia


Avoid using Inula racemosa or Valeriana officinalis in larger doses as they may reduce stroke volume further.


Herbs For Chronic Heart Failure:



Justin Cooke

The Sunlight Experiment

Updated: March 2018

Recent Blog Posts:


  1. ...

Coronary Artery Disease

Coronary Artery Disease Overview:

Coronary artery disease is a condition involving a reduction in the flow of blood in the arteries feeding the heart (coronary arteries). The most common cause for this condition is atherosclerosis and the formation of plaques in the arteries.

This condition is the major cause for angina, and myocardial infarction. Another common term for this condition is ischemic heart disease (IHD).




Abnormal concentrations of blood lipids can lead to the development of atherosclerosis, coronary artery plaques, and eventually coronary artery disease.

Risk Factors

  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes or insulin resistance
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Genetic polymorphisms
  • Age
  • Gender (most common in males)
  • Diet (high saturated fats and processed carbohydrates)
  • Chronic stress


Chest pain (Angina)

Shortness of breath

Myocardial infarction (Heart Attach)


Diagnostic Considerations:

Classification Of Coronary Artery Disease And Angina

Class Description
Class 1 Angina only ocurring with strenuous excercise.
Class 2 Slight limitation of activity levels. Walking uphill, upstairs, or other medium to high-level exertion during normal activities may cause angina effects.
Class 3 Marked limitation of physical activity. Walking a few blocks, climbing stairs may cause angina.
Class 4 Significant limitation on physical activity levels. Angina may present at rest.

Coronary artery calcification was shown to be the most reliable predictor of coronary heart disease over risk factor measures such as the Framingham Risk Score [1].


Therapeutic Aims:

1. Ensure Medical Attention To Monitor & Maintain Stable Angina

Herbal and Nutritional treatments are supportive only for this condition.

2. Improve Myocardial Hypoxia Tolerance

  • Coronary vasodilators (Crataegus oxycanthus), Coleus forskohlii)

3. Decrease Thrombotic Changes

  • Fibrinolytics (Salvia miltorrhiza, Allium sativum)
  • Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors (Allium sativum, Coleus forskohlii, Vitamin E, Fish Oil)

4. Manage Cardiovascular Risk Factors

  • Hypotensives (Crataegus oxycanthius, Coleus forskohlii)
  • Beta-Blockers (Inula racemosa)
  • Lifestyle Changes (Diet, Quit Smoking)
  • Nervine Sedatives (Valeriana officinalis)
  • Peripheral Vasodilators (Achillea millefolium, Tilia europa)
  • Antinflammatories (Curcuma longa, Fish Oil)
  • Antioxidants (Curcuma longa, Camellia sinensis)

5. Manage Stress Levels

  • Nervines (Withania somnifera, Panax quinquefolius, Valeriana officinalis)
  • Adaptogens (Panax ginseng, Eleutherococcus senticosus)

Differential Diagnosis:

  • Myocardial infarction


  • Diabetes
  • Angina pectoris
  • Stress
  • heart attack
  • Heart dysrhythmias
  • Chronic heart failure


All forms of this disease are serious, and demand medical attention. Stable angina can quickly worsen, and may lead to myocardial infarction if not properly managed. Herbal and nutritional medicine serve best as supportive therapies for this condition rather than primary treatment.


Herbs For Coronary Artery Disease:



Justin Cooke

The Sunlight Experiment

Updated: March 2018

Recent Blog Posts:


  1. Taylor, A. J., Bindeman, J., Feuerstein, I., Cao, F., Brazaitis, M., & O’Malley, P. G. (2005). Coronary calcium independently predicts incident premature coronary heart disease over measured cardiovascular risk factors: mean three-year outcomes in the Prospective Army Coronary Calcium (PACC) project. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 46(5), 807-814.


Cardiomyopathy Overview:

Cardiomyopathy is a condition where the heart is unable to sufficiently pump blood through the body. The more this condition pregresses, the less able the heart is to pump blood around the body.



+ Dilated Cardiomyopathy

This form involves the sretching and thinning of the heart muscle. Causes may include:

  • Alcoholism
  • Infectious myocarditis
  • Drug toxicity
  • Nutritional deficiencies (especially thiamine)
  • heavy metal toxicity

+ Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

This involves the enlargement of cardiac muscle cells. It's a common cause of sudden myocardial arrest in younger people and athletes. Common Causes Include:

  • Inherited gene mutations
  • Diabetes

+ Restrictive Cardiomyopathy

Most common in older adults. This condition involves the gradual increase in rigidity of the heart as a result of scar tissue formation.

Causes May Include:

  • Cytotoxic inflammatory diseases
  • genetic sphingolipidosis (Fabry's or Gaucher's)
  • Hemachromatosis
Screenshot 2018-03-02 15.25.21.png




Oedema in Legs and Abdomen


Diagnostic Considerations

Diagnostic Findings

ECG Echocardiography
Dilated Cardiomyopathy LVH Enlarged ventricular chamber
Hypertrophic Myopathy LVH, large QRS complex, Q-waves, frequent T Inversion LVH of unknown etiology with reduced ventricular chamber volume
Restrictive Cardiomyopathy LVH Biatrial enlargement, normal or reduced ventricular volume, normal left ventricle wall thickness.
Arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy Abnormal polarization, small amplitude potentials at the end of the QRS complex. Segmental wall abnormalities.

Therapeutic Aims:

1. Manage Cardiovascular Failure

  • See heart failure and coronary artery disease.

2. Reduce Coagulation

Except if on Warfarin or other blood thinners.

  • Fibrinolytics (Salvia miltorrhiza)
  • Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors (Allium sativum, Vitamin E)

3. Reduce Dysrhythmia

  • Antidysrhythmics (Crataegus oxycanthus, Leonurus cardiaca)
  • Beta-Blockers (Inula racemosa)

4. Manage Other Risk Factors

  • Lifestyle (Dietary changes, Alcoholism, Smoking)
  • Nutritional Support (Vitamin B1, Magnesium)
  • Antinflammatories (Curcuma longa, Vitis vinifera, Camellia sinensis, Centella asiatica)

Differential Diagnosis:

  • Chronic heart failure


  • Stroke


Medical diagnostic necessary prior to treatment.


Herbs For Cardiomyopathy:



Justin Cooke

The Sunlight Experiment

Updated: March 2018

Recent Blog Posts:


  1. ...

Heart Dysrythmias

Heart Dysrythmias Overview:

Heart Dysrythmias involve an irregular beating of the heart. This can be too slow, in the case of bradydysrythmias, or too fast, as with the case of tachydysrythmias.



+ Bradydysrythmia

Involves an irregularily slow heartbeat.


  • Endurance athlete
  • Opioid medications

+ Tachydysrythmia

Involves an iregularily fast heartbeat. The most common form is Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) including Atrial fibrillation (AF).


  • Stress and anxiety
  • Hypovolemic shock

+ Atrial Fibrillation

Involves the hyperexcitability of the aria of the heart.


Subclinical Hyperthyroidism

Low serum thyrotropin concentration has been associated with a 3 fold increase in risk of developing atrial fibrillation (Sawin et al., 1994). Roughly 0.9 to 1.9 percent of older persons were found to have lowered thyrotropin concentrations (Eggertsen et al., 1988).

Osteoporosis Medications

Menopause has also been shown to increase the chances of developing osteoporosis (Stein et al., 2003). One of the first line of treatments for osteoporosis is bisphosphonates such as bisphosphonate zoledronic acid (Grey et al., 2006; Woolf & Åkesson., 2003). Nitrogenous bisphosphonates have been shown to increase the incidences of atrial fibrillation (Black et al., 2007; Cummings et al., 2007). This was later backed up with the findings of a large case-control study from Denmark investigating atrial fibrillation patients medication intake (Sørensen et al., 2008). This was not found in patients taking non-nitrogenous bisphosphonates in this study.



Fluttering sensation in the chest

Racing heartbeat

Slow heartbeat

Chest pain or tightness

Shortness of breath





Diagnostic Considerations:

  • Full blood count
  • Coronary calcium score
  • Liver function testing
  • Scanning
  • ECG

Therapeutic Aims:

1. Stabilise Heart Rhythm

  • Antidysrhythmics (Crataegus oxycanthus, Leonurus cardiaca, Ziziphus spinosa)

2. Reduce Nervous Tension

  • Nervine Sedatives (Valeriana officinalis, Scutellaria lateriflora, Passiflora incarnata, Piper methysticum)
  • Adaptogens (Withania somnifera)

3. Prevent Thromboembolism (AF)

  • Fibrinolytics (Salvia miltorrhiza, Allium sativum)
  • Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors (Allium sativum, Ginkgo biloba, Vitamin E, Fish Oil)

4. Support Cardiac Function

  • Cardiovascular tonics (Crataegus ocycanthus)
  • Nutritional (Magnesium, CoQ10, B Vitamins, Taurine)

Differential Diagnosis:

  • Hyperkalemia
  • Hypercalcemia


  • Stroke
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Sleep apnea
  • Alcohol intoxication
  • Caffeine intake
  • Nicotine


Diagnostic testing required to rule out differentials.


Herbs For Heart Dysrhythmias:

Other herbs:

  • Ziziphus spinosa
  • Leonurus cardiaca
  • Cinchona spp.


Justin Cooke

The Sunlight Experiment

Updated: May 2018

Recent Blog Posts:


  1. ...

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)


ADHD is a common neurobehavioural disorder involving hyperactivity, difficulty concentrating, and impulsive behaviour.



This condition remains poorly understood. There remains a lot of debate about the causes of this condition, as well as to the actual prevalence of this condition. Some sources suggest 2 out of 3 children in the industrialized world have this condition, other sources suggest ratios closer to 1 out of 50 or 100. 

The causes of ADD and ADHD are thought to include:

  • Genetic factors
  • Chemical exposure at a young age



Difficulty concentrating

Continuously interrupting people

Inattentive behaviour


Diagnostic Considerations:

  • There are no lab tests that can difinitively test for ADHD. This diagnosis is given by a psychiatrist.

Therapeutic Aims:

1. Improve Attention and Cognition

  • Lifestyle Changes (Exercise, Yoga, Relaxation and Mindfulness Training)
  • Adaptogens (Panax quinquefolius, Ginkgo biloba, Bacopa monnieri)
  • Stimulant Adaptogens (Rhodiola rosea, Eleutherococcus senticosus)
  • Nootropics (L-Theanine, Vinpocetine, Bacopa monnieri, Ginkgo biloba)
  • Dopaminergics (Trichilia catigua, Vitex agnus-castus)

2. Manage Sleep Cycle

  • Nervine Sedatives (Matricaria recutita, Scutellaria lateriflora, Melatonin)
  • Adrenal Tonics (Rehmannia glutinosa, Withania somnifera, Astragalus membranaceus)

3. Improve Mood

  • Thymoleptics (Hypericum perforatum, Crocus sativus)

4. Manage Allergies & Sensitivities

  • Diet (Elimination diet, Low Histamine Diet, Low Salicylate Diet)
  • Antiallergics (Albizzia lebbeck, Andrographis paniculata, Verbascum thapsus)
  • Immunomodulators (Ganoderma lucidum, Uncaria tomentosa)

5. Ensure Adequate Nutritional Intake

  • Nutrients (Essential Fatty Acids, B Vitamins, Tryptophan, Magnesium, Vitamin E, Zinc)
  • Antinflammatories (Ulmus rubra, Verbascum thapsus, Curcuma longa, Boswellia serrata, Calendula officinalis)

6. Manage Blood Sugar levels

  • Blood Glucose Modulators (Panax ginseng, Gymnema sylvestris, Gynostemma pentaphyllum)

Differential Diagnosis:

  • Bipolar disorder


  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Zinc deficiency
  • B vitamin deficiencies
  • Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)


This condition is hard to diagnose and there is a lot of dispute as to the actual relevance a diagnosis for this condition offers.


Herbs For ADHD:


ADHD Formula #1

Herb Ratio Amount
Ginkgo biloba 2:1 20
Bacopa monieri 1:2 30
Hypericum perforatum 1:2 25
Panax ginseng 1:2 15
Centella asiatica 1:2 20
Total 110 mL


Take 8 mL in the morning, or 2 doses of 4 mL in the morning and early afternoon.


ADHD Formula #2

Herb Ratio Amount
Panax ginseng 1:2 10
Bacopa monieri 1:2 25
Trichilia catigua 1:2 20
Verbascum thapsus 1:2 20
Passiflora incarnata 1:2 25
Total 110 mL


Take 7.5 mL in the morning, and 7.5 mL early afternoon.


More Resources:



Justin Cooke

The Sunlight Experiment

Updated: November 2017

Recent Blog Posts:


  1. Philipsen, A. (2006). Differential diagnosis and comorbidity of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and borderline personality disorder (BPD) in adults. European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience, 256(1), i42-i46.


Epilepsy Overview:

A disorder characterised by disturbances in neuroelectrical activity, resulting in unprovoked seizures.



There are many different causes for epilepsy. The most common cause in infancy includes hypoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy. This accounts for roughly 40-60% of cases. Ischemia results with injury to the grey and white matter of the brain.

Other causes include head trauma, strokes, vascular dysfunctions, cortical dysplasia, CNS infection, cancer, and Ammon's horn sclerosis [1]. It's a disorder of the excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters in the brain (glutamate/aspartate & GABA).

+ Jacksonian Seizures

Localised seizure in one part of the brain. this often results in a single limb or muscle group spasming for a few moments.

+ Petit-Mal Seizures

Also known as an abscence seizure. It involves a sudden loss of attention, causing someone to stare off blankly for a few moments to a few minutes. this type of seizure may remain in one hemisphere of the brain, and the patient may remain conscious.

+ Grand-Mal Seizures

Involves full-body convulsions and a loss of consciousness. This type of seizure always affects both hemispheres of the brain.



Muscle spasms, often very severe

Loss of consciousness or attention

Temporary confusion



Deja Vu


Diagnostic Considerations:

  • Electroencephalogram (EEG)
  • High-density EEG
  • Scans
    • Computerized tomography (CT) scan
    • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
    • Functional MRI
    • Positron emission tomography (PET)
  • Neuropsychological tests


Other Tests and Protocols

  • Statistical parametric mapping (SPM).
  • Curry analysis. 
  • Magnetoencephalography (MEG).

Therapeutic Aims:

1. Support Cognitive Function

  • Nervines (Bacopa monieri, Schisandra chinensis)
  • Adaptogens (Eleutherococcus senticosus, Panax quinquefolius)

2. Reduce Sympathetic Nervous System Dominance

  • Nervine Relaxants (Scutellaria lateriflora, Avena sativa, Stachys betonica)

3. Reduce Risk Of Hepatocellular Damage From Anticonvulsant Medications

  • Hepatoprotectives (Silybum marianum, Cynara scolymus)

4. Manage Allergies & Sensitivities

  • Diet (Elimination diet)

Differential Diagnosis:

  • Stroke
  • Brain Tumor
  • Brain or CNS infection
  • Cardiovascular disorder
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Drug toxicity
  • Drug withdrawal symptoms
  • Fever (especially in children)


  • Depression
  • Lowered cognitive functioning
  • Autism


Be very cautious of drug interactions between antiepileptic medications and herbs/nutrients, they are very common.

Avoid any herb containing camphor, this constituent has been shown to cause seizures. (Rosemarinus officinalis).

The treatment of grand mal seizures should always remain under the supervision of a specialist.


Herbs For Epilepsy:

  • Cannabis sativa/indica
  • Ginkgo
  • Scutellaria baicalensis
  • Melissa
  • Artemesia,
  • Zingiber
  • Passiflora

Nutritional Considerations For Epilepsy

  • B12
  • B9
  • Antioxidants
  • Polyunsaturated fatty acids
  • Amino Acids
  • Tryptophan
  • Taurine
  • Carnosine
  • Vitamins A, C, & E
  • Zinc
  • GABA
  • Potassium
  • Calcium
  • Linoleic acid
  • Selenium


Justin Cooke

The Sunlight Experiment

Updated: March 2018

Recent Blog Posts:


  1. Beghi, E. (2004). Aetiology of epilepsy (p. 61). Blackwell Science, Oxford.

Peripheral Neuropathy

Peripheral Neuropathy Overview:

Peripheral neuropathy is a syndrome involving one or more of the peripheral nerves. it involves variable degrees of sensory impairment, pain, muscular weakness, atrophy, vasomotor symptoms, reduces reflexes in the tendons, or a combination of any of these symptoms.



+ Alcoholism

  • Vitamin deficiencies

+ Autoimmune Conditions

  • Sjogren's syndrome
  • Lupus
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Guillain-Barre Syndrome
  • Chronic inflammatory demyelenating polyneuropathy
  • Necrotizing vasculitis

+ Diabetes

  • More than half of people with diabetes will develop neuropathy at some point

+ Heavy Metal or other Toxic Exposure

  • A number of substances can result in neuropathy

+ Infection

  • Lyme Disease
  • Shingles
  • HIV
  • Epstein-Barre
  • Herpes virus
  • Hepatitis C
  • Leprosy
  • Diptheria
  • HIV

+ Traumatic Injury

  • Common in sporting or motor vehicle accidents

+ Vitamin Deficiencies

  • B vitamin deficiency (especially B1, B6, and B12)


Stabbing, Burning, Or Tingling Pain


Lack of coordination

Extreme Sensitivity To Touch

Musle Weakness or Paralysis

Altered Sweating

Bladder Dysfunction

Bowel Dysfunction

Changes In Blood Pressure



Diagnostic Considerations:

  • Electrodiagnostic testing to assess electrical activity in the nerves. 

Blood Tests

  • Vitamin B12 and folate levels
  • Thyroid Function Testing
  • Liver function testing
  • Kidney function testing
  • Blood glucose testing
  • Antibodies to nerve components
  • Antibodies related to celiac disease
  • Lyme disease
  • Hepatitis B and C

Therapeutic Aims:

1. Address The Suspected Cause

  • Antimicrobials (Tabebuia impetiginosa)
  • Antinflammatories (Boswellia serrata, Curcuma longa, Salix alba, Filipendula ulmaria)
  • Antioxidants (Vitis vinifera, Rosmarinus officinalis)
  • Peripheral Circulatory Stimulants (Ginkgo biloba, Vitis vinifera, Pinus pinasta)
  • Nutritional (Vitamin B12, Folate, Fish oil, Phosphatidylserine, Phosphatidylcholine)

2. Encourage Nerve Repair

  • Nutritional (Essential fatty acids, Phosphatidylserine, Phosphatidylcholine, B Vitamins, Zinc)
  • Nervine Trophorestoratives (Avena sativa, Ginkgo biloba, Hypericum perforatum)

3. Manage Pain

  • Analgesics (Eschscholtzia californica, Piscidia erythrina, Corydalis ambigua)
  • Rubefacients (Capsaicin topical salves)

Differential Diagnosis:

  • Diabetes mellitus

Comorbidities/Risk Factors:

  • Burns and skin trauma
  • Infection
  • Falls/bone fractures
  • Diabetes mellitus


Always rule out the possibility of undiagnosed diabetes mellitus.


Herbs For Peripheral Neuropathy:

  • Muira puama
  • piper methysticum
  • Cannabis sativa
  • Centella asiatica


Justin Cooke

The Sunlight Experiment

Updated: November 2017

Recent Blog Posts:


  1. ...


Influenza Overview:

Influenza is a virus that most often affects the upper respiratory tract. It is commonly referred to as the flu, or a the common cold. Different sources will suggest these conditions as being different, however, they are both caused by influeza.

there are 3 main types of influenza, A, B, and C. Most infections are the result of influenza A and B. Out of these two, influenza A is far more common, and tends to be more severe.

Most people who are infected with influenza will remain sick for several days before recovering, however, some strains, such as the H1N1 strain that wiped out nearly 6% of the worlds population during the Spanish Flu outbreak, are far more deadly. Even less severe influenza infections take the lives of the young, the old and the weak on a regular basis.



+ Influenza A


+ Influenza B


+ Influenza C




Dry/Sore Throat

Swollen Cervical Lymph Nodes




Respiratory Catarrh


Muscle Aches




Diagnostic Considerations:

  • Viral testing

Therapeutic Aims:

1. Manage And Improve Febrile Responses

  • Diaphoretics (Yarrow)
  • Circulatory Stimulants (Ginger, Cinnamon)

2. Enhance The Immune Function

  • Immunomodulators (Echinaceae, Andrographis)

3. Treat Cough/Catarrh

  • Antitussives ()
  • Anticatarrhals (Euphrasia, Sambucus, Hydrastis)

4. Use Antivirals

  • Antivirals (Hypericum, Sambucus)

Differential Diagnosis:

  • Bacterial infection
  • Rhinovirus
  • Adenoviruses


  • HIV


Influenza can be fatal, monitor fever closely.


Herbs For Influenza:


Influenza Formula

Herb Name Ratio Amount in mL
Sambucus nigra 1:2 30 mL
Matricaria chamomila 1:2 30 mL
Mentha piperita 1:2 20 mL
Passiflora incarnata 1:2 20 mL
Total 100 mL


Justin Cooke

The Sunlight Experiment

Updated: November 2017

Recent Blog Posts:


  1. ...


Chickenpox Overview:

Chickenpox is a highly infectious, common viral infection in children that results in fever, headache, and characteristic pox vesicles all over the skin.

chicken pox goes under the name Varicella zoster, which is a member of the Herpesviridae family of viruses.


Chickenpox is caused by the virus Varicella zoster. It's spread through infected hosts through viral shedding of the vesicles it creates on the skin. Early signs include mild febrile illness, then the appearance of an itchy rash that quickly develops vesicles over 2-5 days. 

After an outbreak, the virus lays dormant in the body. it is the cause of the condition known as shingles later in life as a remergence of this same virus from dormancy. 



Skin Itchiness

Red Spots On The Skin




Diagnostic Considerations:


Therapeutic Aims:

1. Eradicate Ifection Through Direct Antiviral Support

  • Antivirals (Hypericum, Thuja)

2. Support The Immune System

  • Immunomodulators (Ganoderma lucidum)
  • Immunostimulants ()

3. Treat Itchiness Symptomatically

  • Antipruritics (Stellaria medica, Avena sativa)

4. Support The Healing Of Vesicles On The Skin

  • Vulneraries (Calendula, echinaceae, hypericum, lavender)
  • Topical Antivirals (Licorice, rhubarb, lemon balm)

5. Prevent Secondary Bacterial Infection

  • Antibacterials (Echinaceae, golden seal, berberine containing herbs)

6. Encourage Fever

  • Diaphoretics (ginger, yarrow, peppermint, elder, linden, chen pi)

Differential Diagnosis:

  • Herpes simplex


Chickenpox is a notifiable condition in many countries and must be reported to the local public health and communicable disease prevention regulators.


Herbs For Chickenpox:



Justin Cooke

The Sunlight Experiment

Updated: November 2017

Recent Blog Posts: