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Can Vitamin D-3 Improve Your Health?
February 28, 2013 02:59 PM
Vitamin D-3 or cholecalciferol, an active form of D vitamin, plays a huge role in bone remodeling and normal calcium balance. Sunlight is responsible for the conversion of cholesterol to vitamin D on the skin but when exposure to sunlight do not always synthesize sufficient amounts, this D vitamin can be obtained from various sources.
The recommended daily dose of this vitamin is 1000 IU for adults or more if there is a deficiency. As mentioned, insufficient amount of such vitamin from sunlight can be supplemented by various sources such as the following: - Fatty fishes like salmon, mackerel, sardines and tuna - Dairy products, such as milk, soy milk, yogurt and cheese - Grains - Other food products like egg, beef liver and orange juice Insufficient amount of this vitamin can also be supplemented through the consumption of multivitamins, which can provide approximately 400 IU of vitamin D-3. However, take note that higher doses, such as the ones with up to 50,000 IU, require a prescription from your doctor. You can find D-3 in dosages as high as 10,000IU at a health food store.
Health Benefits of Vitamin D-3
This type of vitamin D can definitely improve one's health with all the benefits it can provide. This fat-soluble vitamin is responsible for the proper absorption of calcium in the body, thus making it essential for the bones. Insufficient amount of this essential vitamin in the body can result to brittle bones and other health problems. On the other hand, sufficient amount of this essential vitamin can provide you lots of health benefits, such as the following:
- Bone Health: as mentioned, this fat-soluble vitamin facilitates the proper absorption of calcium from foods and the reabsorption of essential minerals by the kidneys. Apart from that, it also boosts the absorption of phosphorous, which is also essential for the health of the bones and prevents various diseases, such as rickets and osteomalacia.
- Immune System: this vitamin is also beneficial for the body's immune system. According to various studies conducted, it can also help prevent autoimmune disorders from developing and is useful in treating inflammatory diseases.
- Neuromuscular System: vitamin D-3 can enhance the functions of the neuromuscular system, as well as protect the body against muscle weakness due to the process of aging.
- Weight Loss: if combined with a healthy diet and regular exercise, this can also help promote weight loss. It helps assimilate foods properly and regulates the levels of blood sugar.
- Skin: this fat-soluble vitamin is also beneficial for the skin, as it contains natural anti-inflammatory properties. It helps control various inflammatory diseases, such as psoriasis, speeds up the healing process of wounds, alleviate skin lesions due to photodermatitis and lichen planus, reduce itching and rejuvenates the skin.
- Depression: the connection between depression and this D vitamin is still unclear. However, a certain study has shown that this insufficient amount of this essential vitamin in the body can increase the risk of depression in men and women. It can also result to hyperparathyroidism where depression is the most prevalent system.
Apart from all these, vitamin D-3 and its supplements can provide the body with lots of other health benefits. It can regulate blood pressure and protect the body against cardiovascular diseases, as well as from various types of cancers.
Have you had your vitamin D-3 today?
What is Shea Butter Good for?
February 24, 2012 08:12 AM
Shea butter is an all natural creamy fatty substance with exceptional moisturizing properties. It is made from the nuts of karite or shea tree that grows in the savannah regions of East and West Africa. Shea nuts are cracked, grilled, pound and boiled in water to extract the butter. Africans called it the women's gold because most of young women in Africa make a living in shea butter production.
Shea butter is so rich in antioxidants that it has the ability to heal skin diseases such as eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis and skin rashes. It gives relief from skin itch and flaking. It is rich in Vitamins A and E that hastens the healing process of such skin diseases. Vitamins A and E are powerful antioxidants that eliminate skin toxicity and shield the skin from irritants. They also prevent the skin from getting damaged. Vitamin A prevents pimples and other skin blemishes. While vitamin E keeps the skin radiantly glowing and repairs damaged skin cells.
She butter is an excellent anti stretch mark cream. The human skin is naturally elastic. However, pregnancy and weight gain cause the skin to rapidly stretched. This process affects collagen production and causes stretch marks. Collagen is glue like substance that firmly holds the cells together to prevent skin to sag. Shea butter aids in increasing collagen production to cope up with rapidly stretching skin during pregnancy and weight gain. This keeps the skin's elasticity and prevents stretch marks. Its ability to increase collagen production erases, if not reduces the appearance of stretch marks and scars. Increased collagen production firms and tones the skin and prevents it from sagging.
Shea butter and Skin Health
Shea butter is an intensive moisturizer for severe dry, flaky, rough and sunburned skin. It softens rough knees and elbows, cracked heel and calloused hands and feet.
Shea butter delays skin aging. As people age, fine lines and wrinkles start to develop. Shea butter deeply moisturizes and rejuvenates the skin thus, prevents wrinkles and early signs of aging. It is easily absorbed by the skin as it penetrates deep into the skin making it more hydrated from the inside. It hastens skin cell regeneration and allows new skin cells to grow. This process peels away old skin, revealing younger looking skin. Skin cell regeneration repairs damaged skin caused by ultra violet rays, radiation, wind and pollution. It also aids in fast healing of wounds, insect bites and burns without leaving scar or marks. It evens out skin tone, removes dark spots and other skin blemishes by continuously renewing skin cells.
Shea butter soothes skin from irritation and stress caused by hair removal. Razor shaving, waxing and plucking leave the skin stressed and irritated. They also leave red bumps that lead to roughness and dark spots. The conditioning effect of shea butter calms red bumps and skin irritation when used as shaving cream.
Shea butter and Hair / Scalp
Shea butter works amazingly on hair and scalp, too. Dry scalp causes the it to flake. Shea butter conditions the scalp and hair follicles thus, prevents flaking and dandruf. It brings back hair's lost moisture due to frequent washing, hair styling and blow drying.
Shea butter is an excellent massage cream that treats arthritis, stiff joints and inflamed muscles. It has an anti inflammatory property relaxes swollen and stiff joints and aching muscles. It also relieves nasal congestion and inflammation when applied topically.
Can tea Tree Oil Kill Bugs?
September 26, 2011 11:26 AM
Tea tree oil is known as an essential oil which is light yellow in color with a camphoraceous scent. It is extracted from the leaves of Melaleuca alternifolia which originates from the northeast coast of Australia. The other name of tea tree oil is melaleuca oil.
Tea tree oil has been studied on its medicinal benefits. Such studies revealed that tea tree oil has a potent anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties. In fact, since the olden times, tea tree oil can administered topically as an antiseptic agent. In addition, tea tree oil is also popularly used as one of the ingredients among many cosmetic products. Industrially, tea tree oil has been controversial whether it can be used to kill bugs or not.
Experiments on "concentrated" tea tree oil and bed bugs have shown that it can effectively kill bugs and other insects. However, it cannot be used at home because concentrated forms of tea tree oil have been found to be toxic to the human body. The commercial preparation of tea tree oil is diluted so that it cannot cause harmful effects to the body. Diluted tea tree oil, on the other hand, cannot kill bugs and insects. Health experts also further stipulated that it is significantly dangerous to use “concentrated” tea tree oil at home specifically at your bedroom. If tea tree oil in undiluted form is introduced inside the body either by ingestion or inhalation, it can have a negative effect on the liver so it is wise to always dilute this oil before ingesting.
If the room is exposed to “concentrated” tea tree oil, make sure to open the windows and provide adequate ventilation. Avoid entering the room for a short span of time because it the air is toxic. Eventually, if “concentrated” tea tree oil is smeared on the skin, it may cause inflammation as manifested by swelling and redness, blistering and itching. If swallowed, concentrated tea tree oil can cause significant diarrhea.
If diluted tea tree oil is employed for bed bugs, it can only make the bugs weak, not killed. The diluted form of tea tree oil is non – toxic to humans and is considered to be a cheaper remedy for the control of bed bug bites. Therefore, it can kill bugs but in concentrated form. However, concentrated tea tree oil must not be used as a household insect killer because of its toxicity. On the other hand, diluted form of tea tree oil is non – toxic but in cannot kill bugs and insects.
As mentioned earlier, tea tree oil is used as an ingredient of many cosmetic products such as facial creams, ointments, lotions, soaps, shampoos and even acne removing agents. Allergic reaction to tea tree oil is rare. However, if hypersensitivity occurs, manifestations include mild dermatitis, blister formation and rashes. It is important to remember that tea tree oil is for external use only. It must not be introduced inside the body even in very small amount because it can cause mild to severe adverse reactions. If untoward effects occur after use, consult your doctor.
Acne Treatment of Different Skin Types
September 20, 2011 11:30 AM
Not everyone has the same skin type, and if you have acne, then the treatment could be dependent on your skin type. Before discussing the different acne treatments available, therefore, it will be necessary to discuss the various skin types.
Skin types are graded in a number of ways, anything from 3 types to several. Here we shall discuss more than the normal three (oily, dry and normal) but instead look at seven.
1. Normal Skin
Normal skin looks evenly colored and textured, firm and smooth without larger pores. People with normal skin probably had mild acne when at high school, but cleared up fairly quickly during the teenage years without specialized treatment or scarring. Acne in this type of skin normally requires only mild topical treatment and a mild antibiotic face wash to keep the pores clean of dead skin cells.
Treatments designed to reduce sebum production could result in dry skin susceptible to environmental damage. What must be kept in mind is that the prime cause of acne is excessive production of skin oil, correctly known as sebum, becoming mixed with shed skin cells within the sebaceous pores and plugging them. When this plug gets infected with bacteria, the immune system leaps into action to produce puss through leucocytes attacking the bacteria, and inflammation designed to create temperature conditions alien to bacteria.
If you use treatments formulated to reduce sebum production in oily skin, then you might lose the natural skin oil needed to keep your skin waterproof and resistant to the pollution and chemical agents that can cause dermatitis.
2. Dry Skin
If you got through adolescence with few or no skin problems, and you have dry hair and your skin feels dry after washing, then you have dry skin. It is even more important with dry skin that you do not use sebum-reducing treatments, if you even get acne at all. Only the mildest acne treatments should be used if you have dry skin, thought is unlikely that you will get anything other the very mildest case if you really have dry skin.
Your skin can dry through age, so to be of a dry skin type, you should have suffered, or be suffering, these problems while you are 35 years old or under. After that age your skin tends to dry out naturally.
3. Oily Skin
This completes the trilogy of the classic skin types. Oily skin is associated with acne, and if your hair is oily, you tend to tan very easily rather than go red in the sun, and if oily make-ups, such as some foundations, tend to last only a short time, then you likely have oily skin.
You will also have suffered from acne as a teenager, and your skin will have a particular 'look'. It will often appear shiny, and will also seem to have a coarse texture with larger pores than most others seem to have. You will tend to get a lot of blackheads, not only as a teenager.
Oily skin is classically associated with acne, and it is for those with that skin type that classic treatments will be prescribed, such as antibiotics and Accutane.
Apart from these three skin types, there are others that have been defined involving a combination of these and also age.
Sensitive skin is associated with broken blood vessels beneath the surface of the skin, and such skin types should be treated very carefully. If creams or lotions are applied to sensitive skin they should be rubbed in very gently as it could cause bruising.
Sensitive skin is no more susceptible to acne than most other skin types although significantly less so than oily skin. For that reason, treatments for sensitive skin should be similar to that for dry skin or in most cases normal skin.
Combination skin has an oily zone across the forehead, and down the nose and chin, the other areas of the face being normal or dry. Such skin can also be oily along the jaw line and normal to dry everywhere else. In such cases aggressive acne treatment might be necessary in the oily zones, and more mild treatments used in the areas which are normal.
There are three other classes or skin type based upon age or condition, one being mature skin and other ailing skin and the final type, surprise, surprise, being known as acne skin. Ailing skin is caused by skin conditions other than acne, and you should get the advice of a dermatologist if you believe you have this type of skin. Mature skin on the other hand is natural and occurs with age: the skin becomes slack and loose due to a slowing down of cell growth which causes the skin to lose elasticity. There is no cure for this type of skin other than cosmetic surgery, and it is rarely affected by acne.
Acne skin is normally oily and associated with blackheads, pimples and spots. It is not normally applied to serious acne conditions, being mostly associated with skin which is generally 'spotty', as opposed to mostly clear. It is debatable whether acne skin is any different from oily skin which also tends to be covered with spots and pimples, and the treatments for acne skin are no different to those for oily skin: these are Accutane, antibiotics and topical treatments such as face washes and scrubs.
If you have acne skin you must be careful about the type of cosmetics and face cleansers you use, since either could aggravate your condition. This is not restricted only to those with oily skins of course, since everyone should be aware of the effect of cosmetics and face cleansers on their skin but it is more significant with those who suffer from acne. Cosmetics cannot cause acne, but they can help to aggravate infections which have already occurred.
Although most focus is placed on those with oily skins which are more susceptible to acne, people with any type of skin should consider carefully the types of cosmetic and cleansers which they use. Contrary to what you may have heard or read, acne has nothing to do with your diet - eating fatty foods or chocolates do not cause acne, which is caused only through production of excess sebum, or skin oil, by the sebaceous glands.
Irrespective of your skin type your physician will determine the best treatment that is appropriate for your particular case of acne. This may be different for individuals and may or may not change according to skin type. Antiseptic face washes or scrubs may be appropriate for some acne cases, Accutane might be the best treatment for others, while a course of internal antibiotics such as tetracyclines may be deemed appropriate for yet other cases.
Treating acne has three distinct phases:
1. Removal of the blackheads and lesions. The removal of lesions can also involve a degree of scar removal, although that is another topic. Black heads, whiteheads and other papules can be treated by the use of facial cleansers and scrubs. They should not be squeezed since the puss inside them could be forced deeper into the skin and so lead to a more generalized infection.
2. Treatment of the bacterial infection. The typical symptoms of acne, the papules, whiteheads and blackheads, are caused by bacterial infection of the plug of sebum and dead skin cells within the sebaceous follicles. The general treatment for such infections is antibiotics, both topically and internally. Tetracycline has already been mentioned as a common internal antibiotic, and several forms of antibiotics are used in facial scrubs of which peroxides and benzoates may perhaps be rather severe for dry and sensitive skins.
3. The third phase is treatment of the causes of excessive sebum production. This is generally not entirely treatable since it is predominantly due to excessive hormonal activity at certain times of your life such as puberty, menstruation, pregnancy and menopause. However, your physician may offer treatments such as the contraceptive pill which should be used with care.
Other treatments include agents that aid desquamation, so preventing the irregular shedding of skin cells that lead to the mixture of sebum and dead skin cells that form the plug that is so easily affected by bacterial infection.
Together these three stages of acne treatment can, if not prevent the condition, certainly reduce its extent and have less of an effect on your skin, particularly if you are the off the oily skin type. Doctors will take your skin type into consideration when determining the best acne treatment for you, although all generally this will only be with respect to topical treatments: treatments that are applied to the surface of your skin.
There are also a number of herbal treatments which are used in the treatment of various stages of acne, and many sufferers find these equally as effective as the more traditional forms of topical applications as prescribed by physicians. However given that the treatment you use is safe according to your physician, any that works for you is the acne treatment that you should likely use, irrespective of your skin type.
Vitamin B2 Is Good for Nutrient Metabolism, Cellular Energy, And More
May 10, 2011 11:11 AM
Vitamin B2 is an essential nutrient. As its name suggests, it belongs to the B complex group of vitamins. The monosaccharide ribose is part of its chemical composition together with the ring moiety called flavin that gives its yellow coloration. Hence, it is also known by the name riboflavin. Inside the human body, it plays a central role in the synthesis of flavoproteins, which are involved in many chemical reactions, especially in the metabolism of other micronutrients and bioactive molecules.
Deficiency in riboflavin is quite common as it is routinely excreted through the urine. Common symptoms include sore throat, seborrheic dermatitis, lower blood count, all of which have been tied to higher incidence of esophageal cancer. Chronic ariboflavinosis, the medical condition caused by vitamin B2 deficiency, has been reported to contribute to carcinogenesis. The good news is that it can be easily reversed with regular intake of foods rich in riboflavin or supplementation.
Aids Nutrient Metabolism
It is not a coincidence that vitamin B2 deficiency is often accompanied by deficiencies in other vitamins and minerals. In some cases, deficiencies may be attributed to impaired liver function or intestinal absorption. That being said, low levels of riboflavin do impact the metabolism of other vitamins, such as vitamin A, vitamin B3, vitamin B6, and vitamin B9, among other water-soluble micronutrients.
Metabolites of riboflavin are required in the conversion of these vitamins to their active forms, for example, from vitamin A to retinoic acid, vitamin B6 to pyridoxic acid, vitamin B9 to folic acid. Furthermore, the metabolism of bioactive compounds, including fats, proteins, and carbohydrates, also necessitates the presence of this vitamin, the reason why it greatly impacts growth and development in children.
Increases Cellular Energy
In addition to its physiological potential in intermediary metabolism, vitamin B2 is also present in the generation of adenosine triphosphate, the primary transport of energy that powers intracellular activities. Adenosine triphosphate is synthesized in three different metabolic pathways, and one process called oxidative phosphorylation necessitates the involvement of flavin adenine dinucleotide, one of the active forms of riboflavin.
Vitamin B2 is an important cofactor in all chemical reactions that result in an increase or decrease of oxidation state. These reactions are collectively called oxidation-reduction, or simply redox. Metabolites of riboflavin are reliable oxidizing agents capable of carrying high-energy electrons needed for oxidative phosphorylation. They also participate in beta oxidation, another metabolic pathway that yields cellular energy.
Scavenges Free Radicals
A nucleic acid derivative of riboflavin is an important constituent of a special class of organic compounds called flavoproteins. These proteins are found in almost all cells of the human body, and one of their functions is to protect the cells from oxidative stress brought on by free radicals. Vitamin B2 is present in the production of cellular energy and the removal of harmful by-products of energy metabolism.
Insufficient intake of vitamin B2 is deleterious to human health, inasmuch as its biological roles are quite pervasive at the molecular level. Do you get enough Vitamin B-2?
What is The Herb Yellow Dock Root And How Does It Detox
April 20, 2011 03:02 PM
What is The Herb Yellow Dock Root Good for?
Yellow dock root is a health tonic best known for its detox properties. It has enjoyed a long association with folk medicine since the ancient times, especially in the treatment of what were believed to be diseases of the blood. Today it is often linked to the removal of heavy metals and other toxins from ingested foods, and thus has been attributed with digestive and hepatoprotective properties.
Rumex crispus is known by many names in the vernacular throughout the ages, but the most common is yellow dock, which to this day remains popular. It is a shrubby plant species native to Europe and parts of Asia. It is a flowering plant that grows up to 1 meter in height, with a circular arrangement of basal leaves similar to that of dandelion. It thrives well in the wild, preferring open spaces, even roadsides, rail beds, and car parks, as long as the soil has enough moisture. Its seeds are on its stems and quite exposed, making it easier to propagate. It is believed to be widespread in all continents, with the obvious exception of Antarctica, and considered an invasive weed in many countries.
The part of the plant used in herbal preparations is, as its name suggests, its root. Yellow dock root are dried and made into tea. Supplements in the form of capsules and tablets contain extracts of the dried root. Its active ingredients are phytochemicals with laxative properties, such as anthraquinones. It contains chrysophanic acid, which has been studied for its positive effects on skin disorders. In addition, it is a good source of vitamin C and iron, the reason why it is good for the blood.
Cleanses the Body of Toxins
Yellow dock root is thought to bind with toxins found in food and promote its excretion through the feces. It is particularly good for the organs close to the digestive tract, such as the pancreas, the liver, and the gall bladder as it promotes the production of enzymes needed for the breakdown of foods and protects the liver from the harmful effects of hepatitis. Also, it is believed to cleanse the lymph nodes. As it contains high levels of iron, intake of yellow dock root has been tied to healthier red blood cells.
Alleviates Skin Inflammation
Chrysophanic acid occurs naturally in several plants, including yellow dock root. This organic compound has been observed to allay the symptoms of many medical conditions of the skin that are inflammatory in nature, such as contact dermatitis, atopic eczema, and acne rosacea. Folk medicine practitioners believe that eating or drinking yellow dock root reduces the severity of herpes outbreaks.
Promotes Bowel Movement
Yellow dock root is rich in anthraquinones, notably emodin. In medicinal niches, these compounds are valued for their purgative properties. In the old days, herbal preparations containing yellow dock were heavily utilized in the treatment of different digestive problems such as indigestion and diarrhea. It is particularly helpful for constipation as it stimulates the colon and promotes bowel movement.
Is Pycnogenol a Good Antioxidant?
April 01, 2011 03:10 PM
Pycnogenol And Your Health
Pycnogenol is the latest innovation in the antioxidant supplement industry. It makes use of oligomeric proanthocyanidins, select bioflavonoids, and organic acids that have been well investigated in a span of more than 30 years. As a trademarked product, it has been cited in more than 230 published works and systematic reviews that came into the conclusion that it is safe and effective. In fact, it is now an ingredient in over 300 health products.
Pinus pinaster is an indigenous plant species of western Mediterranean from which the patented pycnogenol is extracted from. It is most populous in southwestern France, but it can also be found in large numbers in Portugal, Spain, Italy, and Morocco. Unlike new ingredients in some dietary supplements, pycnogenol is all-natural and completely derived from the Maritime Pine, which may well be known in the now-obsolete scientific name Pinus maritima.
Neutralizes Reactive Oxygen Species Fast
Antioxidants work on the principle of replenishing the antioxidant reserves of each cell especially at times when our body is most susceptible to physical fatigue. Radical chemistry has taught us that reactive oxygen species, or ROS, are natural by-products of oxygen metabolism. There is nothing we can do to inhibit their releases, but our body does have a mechanism to neutralize them. Free radicals are one of the best known ROS and they are particularly reactive, causing a damaging chain reaction called oxidative stress.
What makes pycnogenol different from other antioxidant supplements? It is the fastest-acting antioxidant out there with an absorption rate of only 20 minutes. In contrast with other known antioxidants, such as vitamin C and vitamin E, pycnogenol is believed to readily cross the blood-brain barrier, expanding its uses in the central nervous system. This is the reason why it has been suggested to be of value in treatment of known disorders of the nervous system. More importantly, it works up to a record-high 72 hours before it gets excreted by the body.
Fight Inflammation and Cardiovascular Disease With Pycnogenol
Displays Potent Anti-Inflammatory Activities
There have been numerous citations that pycnogenol is an effective inhibitor of inflammation intermediaries. It is postulated that it influences the productions and releases of eicosanoids that govern inflammatory responses. It has associated with the treatment of osteoarthritis, and preliminary results are encouraging. Also, it is believed that pycnogenol interferes with the effects of histamine via its receptors, and acts on mast cells responsible for mediator release. This is the reason why it is widely accepted as a viable treatment option for asthma, multiple sclerosis, allergic rhinitis, acute dermatitis, atopic eczema, and other skin conditions.
Contributes to Overall Circulatory Health
Pycnogenol is one of the antioxidants under scrutiny for its medicinal potential in the prevention of major diseases that afflict the circulatory and cardiovascular systems. For one, it has been observed to significantly lower systolic blood pressure, making it an effective therapy for hypertension. It has shown to alleviate chronic venous insufficiency and remove varicose veins. Moreover, regular supplementation of pycnogenol appears to improve performance in endurance athletes.
Pycnogenol is an excellent herb to add to anybodies diet. Give Pycnogenol a try today!
Can Astragalus Help Boost the Immune System?
February 24, 2011 01:31 PM
What we refer to as the herbal astragalus is actually a large number of plant species in the family Fabaceae, the same group of shrubs that we commonly identify as peas, beans, or legumes. Many of these species have been utilized in folk medicine of different communities all over the world, but the majority of herbal extracts made available as nutritional supplements today come from Astragalus propinquus, or Astragalus membranaceus.
Astragalus may be best known for its touted modulating effects to the immune system largely owing to the fact that it has enjoyed a very long history as a health tonic both in the East and the West. It is an important ingredient in Traditional Chinese Medicine, valued for its reinvigorating effects to what they call defensive energy of life. It is known by the name of Huang Qi in China, where most of the recent studies on this herb take place.
Regulates Interferon Releases
There are a number of studies that link astragalus to HIV in that it is purported to combat replication of viruses and inhibit growth of pathogenic microbes. To be more specific, it is believed to have an influence on the production of proteins called interferon, or IFNs. A type of white blood cell in the employ of the immune system called lymphocytes release interferon whenever the body detects the presence of viruses, bacteria, parasites, or even tumors. In addition, IFNs activate natural killer cells, which target cells infected with viruses and tissues afflicted with tumor, and program them to die.
Stimulates the Healing Process
It is also postulated that astragalus has an augmenting effect on the healing process by interfering with inflammatory agents. There are organic compounds called eicosanoids that are released by the body in larger amounts to facilitate healing of wounds or infections through the process of inflammation. These compounds work hand in hand with the immune system in removing the pathogens that cause infections and initiate the reversal of damages done by these pathogens. If inflammation takes place longer than it is supposed to, the area affected will have to deal with prolonged pain, redness, and swelling. Astragalus works on the principle of maintaining healthy releases of eicosanoids, the reason why it is used as a treatment for arthritis, dermatitis, asthma, and other autoimmune diseases.
Produces Homeostatic Effects
Astragalus has shown to be involved in many metabolic processes, maintaining stability of organic compounds from the foods we eat that reach the circulation. There have been mentions that it is particularly good for the lungs, adrenal glands, and alimentary canal by improving their functions and acting as a buffer to any unwanted debris that may attack the cells that make up these organs.
Be reminded that astragalus has been associated with a long list of health benefits, but none of these have yielded strong scientific support. It is safe to assume that testimonials are influenced by anecdotal evidence and initial results of studies that are yet to be concluded.
Have you tried Astragalus?
February 19, 2009 05:14 PM
Hay fever, which is an allergy to proteins in the pollen of trees, grasses, some plants, or mold, affects the mucous membranes of the nose, eyes, and air passages. Symptoms of hay fever include itchy, red eyes; watery discharge from the nose and eyes; sneezing; fatigue; and nervous irritability. Many of the symptoms of hay fever can be confused with those symptoms of the common cold. However, allergies cause a distinctive clear, thin nasal discharge, whereas secretions that come from colds are usually thick and yellow-greenish as the illness progresses. Colds are also associated with mild fever and are usually gone within a week. On the other hand, allergy sufferers often feel wiped out for many weeks.
At least 50 million Americans suffer from seasonal sneezes, runny nose, and itchy eyes that come with hay fever. There happen to be three seasons of hay fever which are distinguished by the different pollen present at these different times of the year. Tree pollen appears first, usually between February and May, depending on the climate. When trees, weeds, grass pollens, and people are out at the same time, the biggest problems arise. This usually occurs later in spring and in summer. The fall is the season for ragweed pollen. Depending on which pollen or pollens an individual is allergic to, hay fever may be present at any or all of these times.
In more detail, the following is a summary of the types of plants according to the times of year they are most likely to cause problems. Alder, hazelnut, and elm trees cause the most problems in February through May, while birch, maple, and oak trees are problematic in March through June. Beech and spruce trees bring about issues in April through June, while horse chestnut trees are responsible for causing problems in April through August. In April through September, Asters, pine trees, plantain, sorrel, stinging nettle, and various grasses are responsible for bringing about allergies. Buttercups are problematic in May through July and Goosefoot is an issue in June through September. In July through September, mugwort seems to pose a problem.
Those people who suffer from hay fever also often suffer from other atopic disorders like asthma and dermatitis. Those people who suffer from hay fever symptoms throughout the year are said to have perennial rhinitis, which can be caused by animal hair, dust, feathers, fungus spores, molds, and/or some other environmental agent. It should be noted that a susceptibility to hay fever tends to be an inherited condition. Those people who are most prone to allergies are often aware of the time of year and conditions under which they are most sensitive. A RAST test can easily be done and provide reliable results for a definitive diagnosis.
The following nutrients are beneficial for hay fever: bromelain, coenzyme Q10, Quercetin, raw thymus, vitamin A, vitamin B complex, vitamin C with bioflavonoids, proteolytic enzymes, zinc, calcium, magnesium, garlic, kelp, manganese, Pycnogenol, SOD, and vitamin E. Additionally, the following herbs have been noted to be helpful: alfalfa, chlorophyll, vitamin K, eucalyptus oil, eyebright, lady’s mantle, goldenseal extract, horehound, mullein leaf, stinging nettle, wild cherry bark, turmeric, nettle leaf, and noni juice.
In conclusion, discovering your allergic substance is the first step to recovery. When you can narrow down what is the cause then you can combat the problem with vitamins, herbs, and dietary changes. Your local or internet health food store has a large selection of herbal and homeopathic remedies for hay fever symptoms.
Echinacea Purpurea Root
June 17, 2008 06:38 PM
There are nine known species of Echinacea native to the United States and southern Canada. The most commonly used and most potent of them is Echinacea purpurea.
Other common names for Echinacea are purple coneflower, American coneflower and coneflower. The plants contain large heads of flowers that bloom in early to late summer.
In North America, Native Americans used Echinacea more than any other herb for its healing properties. For Europeans and Americans, it was believed to aid in curing Anthrax and snakebites as well as contain antimicrobial properties.
Echinacea is well known for its abilities to boost the immune system and to help fight infections. It is also widely used to prevent infections, colds and the flu. In lesser known medicinal practices, it is used to treat wounds and such skin problems as acne and boils. Some studies have shown that Echinacea has been effective in treating upper respiratory infections.
The whole Echinacea plant is used for treating various indications. Fresh or dried, the plant and roots are used to make teas, extracts, juices or external salves, creams and ointments. As a general rule, the fresh-pressed juice of the Echinacea plant is most effective in treating colds in children. In adults, both the root and herb in combination are most effective.
When taken at the first signs of a cold, Echinacea has been found to reduce the length and severity of cold symptoms. Be aware that Echinacea is not a one-dose fix-it remedy. Begin taking recommended doses at the first signs of a cold. Subsequent doses should be taken regularly, according to the product label, until all symptoms have disappeared.
Unfortunately, many herbal preparations can vary in effectiveness due to a lack of systematic extraction and refining. It is best to research the manufacturers of herbal products to find out how they cultivate and store their herbs. Their methods will cause the chemical compositions to vary greatly. The different parts of the plant that are used vary widely in their chemical makeup as well. One part may be extremely useful as an antimicrobial, while another may stimulate stronger reactions from the immune system. Other factors that may affect the quality of the product you purchase are:
* Species * Plant part * Extraction method * Contamination * Adulteration
Side Effects and Warnings:
When taken orally (by mouth), Echinacea usually does not produce any side effects. In rare cases, some people have experienced allergic reactions and side effects that include:
* Rashes or dermatitis * Pruritus (itching) * An increase in asthma symptoms * Anaphylaxis (life threatening allergic reaction) * Hepatoxicity * Nausea * Dizziness * Dyspnea (difficulty breathing)
All of these symptoms tend to be mild and infrequent. If you suffer from asthma symptoms, you should probably avoid using echinacea. In most cases the most common side effects are gastrointestinal in nature, such as gas or mild cramping. People are much more likely to experience side effects if they are allergic to other plants in the daisy family. These plants include:
* Ragweed * Chrysanthemums * Marigolds * Daisies
Use of Echinacea in children younger than 12 years is not recommended due to lack of sufficient data to support safety. It is also not recommended for use in pregnant or nursing women.
Echinacea should not be used if you have progressive systematic or auto-immune disorders, connective tissue disorders or other diseases that may be related to these. It should not be taken if you are taking immune-suppressants and heap-toxic drugs. It may also interfere with anesthesia.
It is important to communicate with your health care providers. Be sure they are aware of any alternative herbs or other substances you are using and what their purpose is in your daily diet.
Selecting the Right Probiotic is the Key to proper digestion
May 05, 2007 01:16 PM
Selecting the Right Probiotic is the Key
Do you ever think about what goes into your body each day? You should. One of the key to feeling good and being healthy s eating nutritious food and making sure our gastrointestinal (GI) tract has the tools it needs to optimally digest and absorb nutrients. The GI tract includes the stomach and intestines, which work to digest foods and eliminate waste.
A variety of “good” intestinal bacteria helps to keep the digestive system running. These “good” bacteria are called probiotic bacteria, or probiotics. Probiotics digest food, process waste, and keep the “bad” bacteria – which have the potential to cause disease and illness – in check.
This issue of Ask the Doctor will look at the probiotic bacteria that play an important role in maintaining our health and wellness: we need them, what they can do for us, and how to make sure we are getting enough. Also, we will talk about an exciting process that truly delivers probiotic bacteria taken in nutritional supplements. Encapsulated in a pearl-like sphere, they survive transport to the intestines, set up house, and exert their beneficial effects. As we will see, probiotic supplementation can help prevent and treat many different illnesses, unless the beneficial bacteria reach the intestines alive and active, the supplement is worthless.
Q. I thought bacteria were bad. How can bacteria be good for us?
A. Some kinds of bacteria do cause illnesses and disease in humans. “Strep” throat is an example of an illness caused by bacteria.
However, the majority of bacteria do not cause disease. In fact, there are types of bacteria that are actually beneficial. “Good” bacteria, known as probiotic bacteria, are used in the manufacturing of food and beverages. Some examples of foods that have probiotic food ingredients are buttermilk, yogurt, cheese, sausage, and acidophilus milk.
These same kinds of probiotic bacteria are present in our intestines and help to keep the digestive system running by digesting food and processing waste.
Q. What are probiotics?
A. Probiotics are live bacteria that are non-toxic and do not cause disease (non-pathogenic).
Some of the best-understood probiotic bacteria include members of the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium groups. Because of the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium’s ability to break down lactose, these probiotic bacteria are also known as lactic acid bacteria. Both of these types of probiotic bacteria are well studied and are available in both food and dietary supplements.
Q. Is there a difference between the probiotic bacteria that is found in yogurt, and in nutritional supplements?
A. Actually, the bacteria that are in yogurt, our intestine, and most natural supplements are the same types of probiotic bacteria, Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacteria longum. Because of this, these bacteria are referred in a generic sense as probiotics. So, the term probiotics may refer to the “good” bacteria that are present in food or that live in our intestine, or that are part of a natural supplement.
Q. Where do these probiotic bacteria come from?
A. As recently as the middle of the last century, bacteria found naturally in food ingredients were used to make a fermented food product. For example, the example, the lactic acid bacteria found naturally in milk were used to make cheese. This was known as wild fermentation.
Wild fermentations are no longer used. Today, the probiotic bacteria used in food and natural supplements are harvested via a highly controlled fermentation process. This process results in high numbers of bacteria and ensures quality and purity of the bacteria.
A. Normal microflora (the term commonly used for intestinal bacteria) is associated with good health. An imbalance in this natural microflora (when the beneficial probiotics are outnumbered by the harmful bacteria) is frequently associated with various disease states such as yeast infections and colon cancer.
Eating foods or taking a nutritional supplement containing probiotic bacteria can help support and modify the composition of the large intestine microflora. Microflora of the large intestine assist digestion through fermentation (by making the intestines more inhospitable to invading bacteria species), protection against disease-causing bacteria, and stimulation of the immune system.
The probiotics, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria, occupy a central role in the intestinal and provide health benefits.
Q. How do probiotic bacteria help with digestion?
A. Lactose is an important sugar that is converted to lactic acid by lactic acid bacteria. Lactose intolerance results from an inability to digest lactose, due to the failure of small intestine mucosal cells to produce lactase, an enzyme needed to digest lactose. This often results because of genetics, gastrointestinal disease, or because of the decline in the amount of intestinal lactase levels associated with aging. Lactase deficient people accumulate non-absorbed lactose in the gastrointestinal tract, which draws water and electrolytes into the gut and speeds waste through the intestines, leading to bloating, cramping, and diarrhea.
Approximately 50 million people in the
Lactic acid bacteria have been shown to help the breakdown of lactose, specifically by enhancing the activity of lactase (beta galactosidase), which improves lactose digestion and tolerance. Furthermore, in a randomized, controlled clinical trial, Bifidobacteria longum was shown to assist in the breakdown of lactose and relieve the symptoms of lactose intolerance (flatulence) in people with lactose intolerance.
Q. What is the difference between digestive enzymes and probiotics? Can they be taken together?
A. Digestive enzymes, such as protease, amalyse, and lipase, act upon food, breaking it down into simpler components that can be used by the body for energy. Without enzymes, digestion could not take place. Therefore, the food that we eat could not be absorbed and utilized by our bodies.
Probiotics help the enzymes to digest food and process waste. In essence, probiotic bacteria and enzymes work together to ensure that the digestive tract is running smoothly. When taken together, enzymes assure greater levels of digestion absorption of your food, and probiotic bacteria aid the enzymes in digestion and keep problems in check.
Q. Is helping to ensure a healthy digestive system the only use for probiotics?
A. Absolutely not! Probiotic bacteria, such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, have been found to help prevent vaginal yeast infections in women that suffer from these reoccurring infections.
Approximately 35% of vaginal infections are caused by the yeast. Candida albicans, Candida, is a fungus that is a component of the normal gastrointestinal microflora. However, Candida must not be allowed to increase in numbers. An overgrowth is associated with adverse health effects like vaginal infections, oral thrush, or even serious systematic yeast infections. Probiotics have been shown to keep levels of Candida in check.
Probiotic bacteria have also been demonstrated to have anti-cancer properties. In baa clinical study, colon cancer patients given Lactobacillus acidophilus fermented milk showed a significant increase in numbers of intestinal Lactobacilli and a decrease in risk factors associated with colon cancer.
Patients suffering from inflammatory bowel diseases, such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease can benefit from probiotic bacteria supplementation. Studies have shown that probiotic bacteria assist in maintaining remission in ulcerative colitis and preventing reoccurrence of Crohn’s disease. Manipulating the intestinal flora may prove to be more effective and better tolerated than the drugs that are conventionally given to treat these diseases. I one study, Lactobacillus acidophilus was found to improve the intestinal barrier and clinical status in children suffering from Crohn’s disease.
Probiotics supplementation can also improve and prevent skin disease, such as eczema. Studies have shown that probiotic bacteria can actually control inflammation associated with skin conditions. In one study, infants with eczema who were given probiotic-supplemented formulas showed a significant improvement in skin condition.
The chart below summarizes some of the diseases and conditions that probiotic bacteria can help prevent and/or improve.
Q. How often should probiotics be taken to ensure optimal support of the digestion system?
A. Probiotic bacteria do not permanently colonize in the body. They need to be replenished by the consumption of foods containing probiotic bacteria or by taking a probiotic natural supplement. Whatever form you choose to replenish the intestinal probiotics, they need to be ingested daily for their health-promoting effects to continue.
Q. If I take a probiotic nutritional supplement, how many bacteria should a good quality supplement contain?
A. The critical factor is not how many bacteria that a supplement contains, but rather how many bacteria reach the intestines healthy, vigorous, and ready to work.
A good quality supplement will deliver at least 3 billion living, healthy probiotic bacteria per dose to your intestines. The bacteria in the probiotic natural supplement should be a mixture of both Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria.
Again, the critical key to a good quality probiotic supplement is that the bacteria must be alive to work. Only living probiotic bacteria can colonize in the intestines. A good quality probiotic nutritional supplement will have GUARANTEED levels of live bacteria at the point of consumption. Inferior brands will merely state levels of live bacteria at the point of manufacture.
Recently, a private laboratory tested various probiotic nutritional supplements in the marketplace, including one utilizing a new process that encapsulates the bacteria in a spherical, pearl-like coating. Each of these supplements were best-selling brands, two of them were enteric coated, and all had label guarantees about potency. The lab counted the levels claimed by each manufacturer.
Q. Then how do I know I am getting what I pay for?
A. First, look for a product that has a “use by” date or an “expiration” date clearly stated on the package.
It is also important to look for a probiotic supplement that does not require refrigeration. Probiotic supplements that require refrigeration often have been subjected to warm temperatures during shipment and storage that will inevitably kill off some or all of the bacteria.
It is also important that the product label guarantees live bacteria at the time of purchase, not at the time of shipment or manufacturing. However, from the laboratory test discussed, we see that sometimes these written guarantees are not worth the paper they are written on. There is one scientifically validated process that truly delivers live and vigorous bacteria to the intestine. This process suspends the probiotic bacteria in a moist paste and immediately seals the bacteria in a perfectly seamless, spherical, gelatin ball. This bacterial paste is completely protected from air and dryness so the bacteria are alive until the specialized gelatin dissolves – in the intestines.
Q. Why is it important to dissolve only in the intestine?
A. Lactic acid bacteria are not very resistant to the acids of the stomach. The harsh environment of the stomach destroys the majority of these bacteria.
This pearly-like coating technology protects bacteria from the stomach acid. The sphere is specially developed to only dissolve in the intestines. Enteric coating is not enough as it does nothing to protect the bacteria while they wait for purchase on the shelf.
Q. What does this proprietary coating technology mean to me?
A. This specialized process is an expensive processing step, but it has many advantages to you.
The pearl-shaped spheres actually “seal” the bacteria in the capsule, which protects them from air. Probiotic bacteria are anaerobic, meaning they do not require oxygen to live. In fact, the presence of oxygen can actually injure or kill probiotic bacteria. In addition, the special coating’s ability to seal the bacteria in the capsule stimulates the need for the nutritional supplement to be refrigerated – though they can be kept in the refrigerator, if desired.
By protecting the bacteria on the shelf and in the stomach, the probiotic bacteria successfully reach the intestine. As a result, there will be a greater number of healthy, intact bacteria that can colonize in the intestine.
Many health care practitioners believe all health issues are related in some way to the process of digestion. Probiotics play a crucial role in improving our digestive health, which, in turn, is interconnected to every single function in our bodies.
Taking a probiotic supplement is an excellent way to replenish the good bacteria in your intestinal microflora. A quality probiotic product contains two different types of bacteria from Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria species with at least one billion live bacteria per dose.
But how do you know the bacteria re still alive? Look at the package. If there is no fate stamp, put it down. If it says the company guarantees there was a certain number alive at the time of manufacture, put it down. Tat means that the company is not willing to claim the bacteria are alive when delivered to the target site, the intestine. If the product must be constantly refrigerated, put it down. How do you know it didn’t sit in a truck for two days, or was in a warehouse before it was shipped to the health food store?
Find a probiotic that says the bacteria are guaranteed to be alive in the numbers stated on the label until the printed on the package. Find a product using unique, cutting edge science to deliver the probiotic bacteria in a form that uses spherical, sealed, triple coating to protect the bacteria. That company has gone to extra time and expense to make sure you reap the benefits that probiotics can offer.
June 03, 2006 01:23 PM
1. Yoon, S., et al. the therapeutic effect of evening primrose oil in atopic dermatitis patients with dry scaly skin lesions is associated with normalization of serum gamma-interferon levels. Skin pharmacol appl skin physiol, 2002; 15(1):20-25.
Promise of Evening Primrose Oil
June 03, 2006 01:11 PM
Today, we know that the oil from the seeds of evening primrose contains a high amount of the active ingredient, gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), an oil quite similar to other essential fatty acids (EFA) of the omega-6 variety. In fact, evening primrose oil is one of the few substances found in nature that contains significant amounts of GLA. It was only as recently as the 1970’s that researchers discovered among its potential therapeutic benefits, GLA aids the body’s formation of important prostaglandins (known as PGE1) that moderates inflammatory processes. (Prostaglandins are molecules that act as vital cell regulators.)
While the body manufactures gamma-linolenic acid from linoleic acid, one of the essential fatty acids, optimal production is often inhibited by dietary deficiencies, age related enzymatic deficiencies and intake of excess amounts of saturated fat. Indeed, it is interesting to note linoleic acid has little to no biological activity in and of itself. It’s true value is in its conversion to GLA. When we take additional GLA, we encourage increased formation of PGE1, which produces a variety of health benefits.
Health experts say that prostaglandin E1 series aids the body by inhibiting or reducing inflammation, blood clumping, blood clots, abnormal cholesterol production and formation of malignant cells. (In particular, GLA reduces risk of arterial spasm and abnormal clots, important factors in heart attacks and strokes. Another beneifit is lowering blood pressure.) The PGE1 series also maintains important electrolyte balances and normalizes insulin secretions.
Other health conditions that can benefit from GLA include arthritis; skin disorders such as eczema, acne, dermatitis; allergies and asthma; premenstrual syndrome; multiple sclerosis; fibrocystic breast disease; and depression.
Evening Primrose Oil: The Kings Cure-All
June 03, 2006 01:11 PM
Evening primrose is a tiny, short-lived, bright yellow wildflower native to North America. After discovering the New World plant, the Europeans took it back to the Old World where it’s healing properties for skin diseases and flesh wounds quickly earned it the name “King’s Cure-All.”
Currently, evening primrose is now grown in 30 or more countries, and the oil pressed from it’s seed is marketed as a valuable natural healing supplement. It is especially well documented for supporting skin health in cases of eczema and dermatitis. But other benefits include relief of premenstrual syndrome and arthritis related joint pain.
Butterbur Extract Fact Sheet
December 08, 2005 04:22 PM
Butterbur Extract Fact SheetNeil E. Levin, CCN, DANLA 8/1/05
LIKELY USERS: People wanting to support healthy blood flow to the brain and healthy neurological function 1-6,10 Those maintaining normal seasonal immune responses 7-10
KEY INGREDIENTS: 75 mg of Guaranteed Potency Butterbur Root (Petasites hybridus) Extract, min. 15 Sesquiterpenes as Petasines; 200 mg of Feverfew Leaf (Tanacetum parthenium) min. 0.4% Parthenolides
MAIN PRODUCT FEATURES: Butterbur (Petasites hybridus) is a native shrub of Europe, North America, and Asia that has been used by herbalists for centuries. Modern scientific studies have demonstrated that Butterbur supports healthy blood flow to the brain and healthy neurological function.1-6, 10 In addition, Butterbur may help to maintain balanced seasonal immune responses.7-10 In a synergistic base of guaranteed potency Feverfew leaf.11-26
ADDITIONAL PRODUCT USE INFORMATION & QUALITY ISSUES: NOW Butterbur is free of harmful levels of Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids (PAs), the undesirable compounds naturally found in Butterbur, so it is safe to use regularly.
SERVING SIZE & HOW TO TAKE IT: Take one VCap one to three times per day, or as directed by your physician.
COMPLEMENTARY PRODUCTS: Magnesium, Ulcetrol, B-2, B-12, Fish Oil (EPA, DHA), SAM-e, Ginger, Ginkgo Biloba
SPECIFIC: Do not discontinue use abruptly; taper off use if discontinuing. Discontinue use at least 14 days before surgery or oral surgery. Use with caution if you have ragweed allergies or blood disorders and let your physician know that you plan to use it before you take it. May be contraindicated for pregnant women.
GENERAL: Pregnant and lactating women and people using prescription drugs should consult their physician before taking any dietary supplement. This information is based on my own knowledge and references, and should not be used as diagnosis, prescription or as a specific product claim. Information given here may vary from what is shown on the product label because this represents my own professional experience and understanding of the science underlying the formula and ingredients. When taking any new formula, use common sense and cautiously increase to the full dose over time.
Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. REFERENCES:
1. Diener HC, Rahlfs VW, Danesch U (2004) The First Placebo-Controlled Trial of a Special Butterbur Root Exract for the Preventio of Migraine: Reanalysis of Efficacy Criteria. Eur Neurol 51:89-97.
STEVIA: THE IDEAL SWEETENER?
July 15, 2005 12:51 PM
STEVIA: THE IDEAL SWEETENER?
For anyone who suffers from diabetes, hypoglycemia, high blood pressure, obesity or chronic yeast infections, stevia is the ideal sweetener. It has all the benefits of artificial sweeteners and none of the drawbacks. Stevia can be added to a variety of foods to make them sweet without adding calories or impacting the pancreas or adrenal glands. It can help to satisfy carbohydrate cravings without interfering with blood sugar levels or adding extra pounds.
Using stevia to create treats for children is also another excellent way to avoid weight gain, tooth decay and possible hyperactivity. While it may take some getting used to initially, stevia products are becoming easier to measure and better tasting.
Stevia’s Unique Taste Sensation
When the whole leaf extract or powdered forms of stevia make contact with the tongue, the resulting taste can be described as a sweet flavor, with a slight licorice-like and transient bitter flavor. If stevia is used correctly with hot water or some other liquid, both those flavors will disappear. At this writing, researchers are working on a new extraction process that will preserve stevia’s sweetening potency while minimizing any aftertaste associated with the herb.
Additional Therapeutic Benefits
Consider the following quote: Stevia . . . is not only non-toxic, but has several traditional medicinal uses. The Indian tribes of South America have used it as a digestive aid, and have also applied it topically for years to heal wounds. Recent clinical studies have shown it can increase glucose tolerance and decrease blood sugar levels. Of the two sweeteners (aspartame and stevia), stevia wins hands down for safety. (Whitaker) Stevia has a long history of medicinal use in Paraguay and Brazil and while many of the therapeutic applications of stevia are anecdotal, they must be considered in that they have spanned generations. Experts who work with indigenous cultures frequently find that traditional applications of folk medicine can be verified with scientific data.
Stevia and Blood Sugar Levels
Clinical tests combined with consumer results indicate that stevia can actually help to normalize blood sugar. For this reason, the herb and its extracts are recommended in some countries as an actual medicine for people suffering from diabetes or hypoglycemia. Recent studies have indicated that stevia can increase glucose tolerance while decreasing blood sugar levels. Paraguayan natives have traditionally used stevia tea to regulate blood sugar. Stevia decoctions for diabetes are common and are usually prepared by boiling or steeping the leaves in water (Bonvie, 53). While scientific studies are certainly warranted, it is thought that disturbed blood sugar levels respond to stevia therapy while normal levels remain unaffected.
Stevia and Weight Loss
Stevia is an ideal dietary supplement for anyone who wants to lose or maintain their weight. Because it contains no calories, it can satisfy cravings for sweets without adding extra pounds. It is also thought that using stevia may decrease the desire to eat fatty foods as well. Appetite control is another factor affected by stevia supplementation. Some people have found that their hunger decreases if they take stevia drops 15 to 20 minutes before a meal. While scientific studies are lacking in this area, it is presumed that the glycosides in stevia help to reset the appestat mechanism found in the brain, thereby promoting a feeling of satiety or satisfaction. Much of our nation’s obesity epidemic is due to the over consumption of sugar-containing foods. Unfortunately, most sugary snacks are also loaded with fat, compounding the problem. When a sugar craving hits, anything will usually do. Doughnuts, candy bars, pies, pastries and cookies are considered high calorie, fattening foods. Using stevia to sweeten snacks and beverages can result making weight loss and management much easier.
High Blood Pressure
It is thought that taking stevia can result in lowering elevated blood pressure levels while not affecting normal levels. This particular application has not been researched, but its potential as a treatment for hypertension must be considered when assessing the value of herbal medicines for disease.
Stevia is thought to be able to inhibit the growth of certain bacteria and other infectious organisms. Some people even claim that using stevia helps to prevent the onset of colds and flu. Tests have supported the antimicrobial properties of stevia against streptococcus mutans (Bonvie, 54). The fact that stevia has the ability to inhibit the growth of certain bacteria helps to explain its traditional use in treating wounds, sores and gum disease. It may also explain while the herb is advocated for anyone who is susceptible to yeast infections or reoccurring strep infections, two conditions that seem to be aggravated by white sugar consumption.
Stevia can be used as an oral tonic to prevent tooth decay and gingivitis. Stevia extracts are sometimes added to toothpaste or mouthwashes to initiate this effect. Stevia is used in some Brazilian dental products with the assumption that the herb can actually help to prevent tooth decay and retard plaque deposits (Bonvie, 53). Stevia offers the perfect sweetener for oral products like toothpastes and mouthwash, enabling them to be more palatable without any of the drawbacks of other sweeteners.
Brazilians have used stevia to boost and facilitate better digestion (Bonvie, 53). Again, while this therapeutic application remains unresearched, the fact that stevia has a long history of use as a gastrointestinal tonic must be acknowledged. Plant glycosides can exert numerous therapeutic actions in the human body.
Stevia and Skin Care
Whole leaf stevia or its by-products have been used to soften and tone the skin and to ease wrinkles and lines. Facial masks can be made by adding liquid to the powder, and liquid elixirs can be used as facial toners to help tighten the skin. Stevia concentrate in the form of drops has also been used directly on sores or blemishes to promote healing. For this reason, some advocates of stevia use it on other skin conditions such as eczema, dermatitis, or minor cuts or wounds. Stevia tea bags can be placed over the eyes to ease fatigue and to tone the skin. Stevia skin care products are available in clay bases, masks, and water-based creams. Liquid extracts can be directly applied to the skin.
HERBAL FIRST AID KIT
July 11, 2005 09:44 PM
HERBAL FIRST AID KIT
It is important to know the area where you will be going to determine plants that will be available in case they are needed and access to emergency help if necessary. The herbal first aid kit is meant to be used for minor conditions that may occur while traveling. Any serious condition should be seen by a health care professional. Gathering herbs along the trail can be fun as well as useful. Simple plant remedies can be brought along in the first aid kit. Major injuries require immediate medical attention by a professional. Minor problems can often be taken care of with simple herbal remedies. Supplies can be obtained from the local health food store or by collecting plants locally.
Along with the herbs, a few supplies should be part of the kit available at the local drugstore or market.
ALOE VERA: Aloe is great for minor skin abrasions, burns and as a natural laxative. It is excellent to soothe and repair damage from a sunburn. Aloe can be applied to stings and bites to soothe and heal.
TEA TREE OIL: Tea tree oil is a natural antiseptic and contains many antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties. It helps to speed the healing process and is excellent to apply externally on wounds to promote healing and prevent infection. It is also a natural bug repellent and can soothe and promote healing after bites and stings.
ECHINACEA: One of the most often used herbs, echinacea is useful for pre venting infection by stimulating the immune function. It can be found in herbal salve preparations and applied directly to the wound. A salve can also be applied to skin irritations from contact with poison ivy or oak. LAVENDER: Lavender is a natural bug repellent and can be applied topically to bites and stings.
GINGER: Ginger root is excellent for an upset stomach. It is effective when used to combat motion and altitude sickness. Studies have found ginger to be just as effective when treating motion sickness due to riding in the car, boating or flying in and airplane, as over the counter remedies which often have side effects such as drowsiness. Ginger can be made into a tea or taken in capsule form. ARNICA: Arnica can be applied externally to areas of bruising and swelling, but not to broken skin. It can help to reduce inflammation.
PLANTAIN: A poultice of plantain can help reduce inflammation when applied to the affected area. It can also help with bites, stings, scratches and cuts. GARLIC: Along with being a natural antibiotic to help prevent infection, garlic also helps to keep mosquitoes away. They don’t seem to like the scent of garlic. Capsules or pills should be taken internally.
CAYENNE (CAPSICUM): This is effective for both internal and external bleeding. Externally, apply pressure and raise affected area. Sprinkle cayenne powder over the wound. MINT: Mint leaves, often found growing in the wild, can be made into a tea to help with digestion and calm the nerves. Some members of the mint family include peppermint, spearmint, catnip and horsemint.
FEVERFEW: This daisy like plant found growing in the wild, can help with migraine headaches and inflammation.
Chew the leaves, make into a tea or take in capsule form. Some have developed mouth irritations from chewing the leaves.
Tea Tree Oil Fights Staph Infection
There is much concern regarding the overuse of antibiotics leading to drug resistant strains of bacteria. Some forms of bacteria are difficult to control as they change form. Tea tree oil holds promise as an effective treatment for inactivating Staphylococcus aureus.
A study reported in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, (1995; 35: 421-45), and lead by Dr. C. F. Carson, researched tea tree oil at the University of Western Australia. The results were significant. Tea tree oil successfully inactivated the staph bacteria which was resistant to methicillin, a salt of penicillin. It is a versatile substance with a broad spectrum of capabilities. It is generally used topically.
Blueberries for Health
Blueberries are packed full of nutritional value. A study published in the Food and Nutrition Re s e a rch Br i e f s , January, 1997, found that two-thirds of a cup of blueberries had more antioxidants than the recommended daily amounts of vitamins E and C. Blueberries were followed by Concord grape juice, strawberries, kale and spinach in their antioxidant content.
Antioxidants are an important part of optimal health. They protect the body from free radical damage which can lead to a variety of conditions such as aging, cancer, heart disease and other diseases. Adding blueberries could aid in p rotecting the body and strengthening the immune response.
Worldwide Concern About Antibiotic Overuse
A recent report called for doctors throughout the world to be careful in administering antibiotics needlessly. Overuse of antibiotics has lead to germ mutations resistant and untreatable with current antibiotics. Pediatricians in the United States have received a brochure from the American Academy of Pediatrics urging them to take precautions before prescribing. Antibiotics are not always the answer as they do not work on viral infections which cause the common cold, sore throats and some ear infections. Staphylococcus aureus is one example of an antibiotic resistant strain. Over 90 percent of this staph strain are resistant to penicillin and other antibiotics. And other bacteria are also developing a resistance to antibiotic therapy. Save antibiotics for conditions that require their use.
Aloe Vera, Woodland Health Series
Aloe vera is one of the most widely used plants for medicinal purposes. It has been used for over 4,000 year for its therapeutic benefits. Aloe Vera, a pamphlet written by Deanne Tenney, offers valuable information and up to date research on the aloe vera plant.
The benefits of the aloe plant are truly amazing. It has been used to treat burns, radiation burns, skin disorders, wounds, scratches, sunburn, dermatitis, constipation, digestion, ulcer, kidney stones, bacterial and viral infections, and to relieve pain. It is widely used for skin disorders, but its benefits go far beyond the skin.
As a natural home remedy, there are few plants more valuable than the aloe. It is a simple and easy way to treat minor injuries. The plant contains antiseptic, antiviral, antibacterial, anesthetic and tissue healing properties. The Aloe Vera pamphlet offers historical as well as modern uses for this ancient plant. Aloe Vera is available through Woodland Publishing.
Tea Tree Oil, Woodland Health Series
Tea tree oil is derived from the leaves of the Melaleuca alternifolia, a shrub-like tree found in Australia. It contains significant medicinal value and beneficial properties. Another pamphlet in the Woodland Publishing Health Series, Tea Tree Oil offers historical uses as well as current scientific information.
The essential oil of the tea tree leaves is one of the most powerful essential oils. It is used extensively in Australia, and popularity is growing throughout the world. It contains antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties helping to prevent and heal infection.
Tea tree oil has been used successfully for many conditions such as athlete’s foot, acne, burns, warts, vaginal yeast infections, ringworm, skin rashes, herpes, cold sores, canker sores, insect bites and in preventing infection to name a few. Tea tree oil is a natural alternative that can be used effectively for extended periods of time without.
HERBS FOR SUMMER HEALTH
July 11, 2005 09:29 PM
HERBS FOR SUMMER HEALTH
Just about everyone looks forward to the summer months when school is out and more time can be spent outside. Backpacking, hiking, camping, boating, and bike riding are just a few of the adventures available. It’s a time for connecting and becoming reacquainted with nature while exploring the out of doors. Family camping trips and backpacking through the wilderness can help us put our hectic lives in perspective and renew as well as refresh the body. Along with the adventures, a few bumps, bruises, bites and stings are expected. Before the summer holiday begins, prepare by having some herbal remedies on hand to help with minor accidents that may occur.
Aloe is one of the best choices for the first aid kit. Commercial preparations can be taken along on trips. A leaf from the plant can be sealed in a zip lock bag and tucked in the first aid kit for short term use. The plant has numerous healing abilities and can be used on minor burns, rashes, bumps, scrapes and bruises. The aloe plant is very useful for many conditions.
Modern research has proven many of the benefits of Aloe vera. It has been used effectively for treating radiation burns, skin disorders, wounds, sunburn and dermatitis, to name a few. Aloe vera can help clean, soothe and relieve pain on contact. It penetrates through all three layers of the skin rapidly to promote healing. There are many different types of aloe products. Some include:
Aloe gel: This is the undiluted gooey substance that is found in the center of the leaves. Aloe concentrate: The concentrate is the gel when the water content has been removed.
Aloe juice: The juice is a digestible version of the aloe plant made from the gel with at least 50 percent Aloe vera gel. Aloe latex (aloin): The latex is the bitter yellow liquid from the pericyclic tubules of the outer rind of the leaf. The main constituent of this is aloin.1
Aloe is known for its healing and soothing effect on burns, wounds, and rashes. It can help clean, soothe and relieve pain on contact. It is able to penetrate all three layers of the skin rapidly to promote healing. It contains salicylic acid and magnesium which work together to produce an aspirin like analgesic and anti-inflammatory effect. The transparent gel on the inner leaf is applied directly to areas of the skin to treat burns, wounds, skin irritations and frostbite. The gel can is commonly found in many first-aid creams.
Research has found that aloe when applied externally can actually help speed healing and restore skin tissue.2 It also aids in healing when used externally in cases of wounds, frostbite and burns.3 The healing of burns may be due in part to the moisturizing effect of aloe. It is easily absorbed into the skin preventing the air from drying the damaged skin tissue.4 Aloe can help with many minor irritations that can occur during the summer months. Steven R. Schechter, N.D. conducted a study in 1967 at the Children’s Hospital in Cincinnati to determine the healing benefits of aloe. Research animals were being treated for laser burns. Dr. Schechter used several different preparations and consistently found the aloe vera gel to produce the most healing results. He found the gel to help with many skin disorders including burns, lesions and cancers. 5
As much as we try to avoid sun exposure, it is almost impossible to completely avoid getting a sunburn at some point in our lives. We may forget the sunscreen or stay out longer than expected. Excessive exposure to the sun can be detrimental to health. But, aloe vera may help to lessen the damaging effects of the sun. A sunburn can damage the skin as well as the immune system. Research by Dr. Faith Strickland of the Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas points to the possibility of aloe vera helping to eliminate the damage done to the immune system and skin. It may even help to restore the immune system to full function.
Many individuals have found that having an aloe vera plant growing in the home, within easy access, is an easy and simple way to treat common injuries. Commercial p reparations are also available which contain aloe. Scientists have found the plant to contain antiseptic, antiviral, antibacterial, anesthetic and tissue healing properties.
So why shouldn’t it be useful as a natural home remedy? Simply break off a leaf of the plant and slice down the middle of the leaf. Apply the thick inner gel to the injury whether it be a burn, insect bite, abrasion, scrape, rash, or other injury. The cut leaf can be placed directly on the wound and wrapped with gauze to secure it into place for a more serious injury. The skin will soak up of the gel as it soothes the affected area.
Toxicity is rare, but some do have allergic reactions to Aloe vera products. The aloin, found in the bitter yellow latex, containing anthraquinones, may cause severe cramping and should be avoided by pregnant women and children. Aloe can also help with the following:
June 25, 2005 10:52 AM
Extract: An extract made from ginkgo leaves is available in Europe and is used for cerebral arteriosclerosis in peripheral circulatory disorders of the elderly.
Tincture: Ginkgo tincture is often combined with other herbs such as periwinkle and used for circulatory problems and venous disorders.
Infusion: Infusions of ginkgo are used for arteriosclerosis, varicose veins and hemorrhoids.
Capsules: Powd e red forms of ginkgo can be used to enhance brain function and memory.
Storage: Keep in a dark container in a cool, dry environment.
Recommended Usage: Ginkgo should be taken in normal dosages and, if possible, at the same times eve ry day. In the case of ginkgo, taking it consistently for 12 weeks is recommended. Although injections of Gingko have sometimes been used, oral ingestion of a tablet or capsule is therapeutically effective. More advanced p reparations of ginkgo make it possible to obtain higher concentrations of flavoglycosides in smaller amounts of extract.
Safety: Ginkgo extracted from the leaves of the ginkgo tree is considered nontoxic and is virtually without side-effects. It can be safely used with other supplements without interaction and has no reported toxicity. In rare cases, some gastric upset or incidence of headache or skin rash have occurred, which may indicate that the individual is allergic to the substance. The fruit pulp of ginkgo can produce seve re contact dermatitis and other allergic reactions. The leaf extract of ginkgo is usually the only form that is available and is extremely safe.
June 25, 2005 09:56 AM
Fresh Rub: A fresh clove of garlic can be used directly on warts and verrucae. When added to the diet, it works as a prophylactic against infection, helps to reduce high blood cholesterol and improves the cardiovascular system. Eating garlic regularly can also help to lower blood sugar levels.
Juice: Garlic juice can be taken for digestive disorders, infectious diseases and for atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). Capsules: Powdered garlic can be taken in capsules and can be purchased in deodorized form. Garlic capsules are a convenient way to supplement the diet with garlic and are good for heart disease, high blood pressure and to fight infections of any kind. Pearls: Pearls are capsulized garlic oil which have been deodorized and are sometimes used as an alternative to the capsules.
(Note: Garlic pearls which have been deodorized are sometimes less potent in their biochemical action. Garlic’s strong, pungent odor compounds are excreted through the lungs and the skin. Eating fresh parsley and lemon juice can help to neutralize garlic odor on the breath.)
Maceration: Garlic cloves can be steeped in water overnight and taken as a treatment for intestinal parasites. Aged Oil: Considered by some to be a superior form of garlic. Storage: Fresh garlic can be stored in a cool, dry, dark place. Garlic extracts and oils should be kept in dark bottles and can be refrigerated.
Recommended Usage: Garlic pills and extracts should be taken as recommend on their labels. If using garlic in cooked form, it can be eaten abundantly. Raw garlic is stronger and should not be eaten indiscriminately as gastric upset might occur. Capsules and pills are best taken with meals.
Safety: Garlic is considered safe when taken in reasonable amounts however it is very heating and when ingested in excess can irritate the stomach. Taken in therapeutic doses during pregnancy or while nursing may cause some gastric upset. Placing fresh, raw garlic or garlic oil directly on the skin may also cause irritation or contact dermatitis. When using garlic externally, apply a layer of olive oil to the skin first.
Very high dosages of garlic tincture have been known to cause leukocytosis. Garlic does not have to be consumed raw to be effective. Moreover, the typical odor of garlic does not always have to be present in order for it to still posses health benefits. If you experience side effects such as a burning sensation when urinating, heartburn, flatulence or belching, you may want to use a processed garlic extract. To avoid garlic breath, deodorized forms of garlic are available. If taken properly, the safety and efficacy of garlic has been well established.
June 24, 2005 01:13 PM
Because 20th century medical practices have routinely over - prescribed antibiotics, the notion of a natural antibiotic with virtually no side-effects is intriguing to say the least. Echinacea is one of several herbs which possesses antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties. In a time when new life-threatening microbes are evolving and pose the threat of modern-day plagues, herbs such as echinacea are particularly valuable. More and more health practitioners are focusing on fortifying the immune system to fight off potential infections rather than just treating infection after it has developed.
Echinacea is enjoying a renaissance today. During the late 1980’s, echinacea re-emerged as a remarkable medicinal plant. In addition to its infection fighting properties, echinacea is known for its healing properties as well. As was the case with so many herbs, echinacea lost its prestige as a medicinal treatment with the advent of antibiotics. It has experienced a resurgence over the last two decades.
Echinacea has several other much more romantic names including Purple Coneflower, Black Sampson and Red Sunflower. It has also become the common name for a number of echinacea species like E. angustifolia, E. purpurea, and E. pallida. The genus derives its name from the Greek word echinos which refers to sea urchin. This particular association evolved from the prickly spiny scales of the seed head section of the flower. Historically, echinacea has sometimes become confused with Parthenium integrifolium.
The word echinacea is actually apart of the scientific latin term, echinacea angustifolia, which literally translated means a narrow - leafed sucker. The plant grows wild as a perennial exclusively in the midwestern plains states, but can be cultivated almost anywhere . Echinacea leaves are pale to dark green, coarse and pointy. Its florets are purple and its roots, black and long.
Echinacea has a strong Native American link in the Central Plains. Native Americans are credited with discovering the usefulness of this botanical without knowing its specific chemical properties. It was routinely used by Na t i ve Americans to treat toothaches, snakebite, fevers and old stubborn wounds.
Native Americans thought of echinacea as a versatile herb that not only helped to fight infection, but increased the appetite and s t rengthened the sexual organs as well. The juice of the plant was used to bathe burns and was sprinkled on hot coals during traditional “sweats” used for purification purposes. It is also believed that some Native Americans used echinacea juice to protect their hands, feet and mouths from the heat of hot coals and ceremonial fires.1 According to Melvin Gilmore, An American anthropologist who studied Native American medicine in the early part of this century, Echinacea was used as a remedy by Native Americans more than any other plant in the central plains area.
In time, early white settlers learned of its healing powers and used the plant as a home remedy for colds, influenza, tumors, syphillis, hemorrhoids and wounds. Dr. John King, in his medical journal of 1887 mentioned that echinacea had value as a blood purifier and alterative. It was used in various blood tonics and gained the reputation of being good for almost every conceivable malady. It has been called the king of blood purifiers due to its ability to improve lymphatic filtration and drainage. In time, echinacea became popular with 19th century Eclectics, who were followers of a botanic system founded by Dr. Wooster Beech in the 1830’s. They used it as an anesthetic, deodorant, and stimulant.
By 1898, echinacea had become one of the top natural treatments in America. During these years, echinacea was used to treat fevers, malignant carbuncles, ulcerations, pyorrhea, snake bites and dermatitis. In the early twentieth century, echinacea had gained a formidable reputation for treating a long list of infectious disease ranging from the commonplace to the exotic. The Lloyd Brothers Pharmaceutical House developed more sophisticated versions of the herb in order to meet escalating demands for echinacea.
Ironically, it was medical doctors who considered echinacea more valuable than eclectic practitioners. Several articles on echinacea appeared from time to time in various publications. Its attributes we re re v i ewed and, at times, its curative abilities ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous. In 1909, the Council on Pharmacy and Chemistry of the American Medical Association decided against recognizing echinacea as an official drug, claiming that it lacked scientific credibility. It was added to the National Formulary of the United States despite this type of negative reaction and remained on this list until 1950.
Over the past 50 years, echinacea has earned a formidable reputation achieving worldwide fame for its antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial actions. Consumer interest in echinacea has greatly increased, particularly in relation to its role in treating candida, chronic fatigue syndrome, AIDS and malignancies. Practitioners of natural medicine in Eu rope and America have long valued its attributes. In recent, years, German research has confirmed its ability to augment the human immune system. Extensive research on echinacea has occurred over the last twenty years. Test results have s h own that the herb has an antibiotic, cortisone-like activity.
Echinacea has the ability to boost cell membrane healing, protect collagen, and suppress tumor growth. Because of its immuno-enhancing activity, it has recently been used in AIDS therapy. Research has proven that echinacea may have p rofound value in stimulating immune function and may be particularly beneficial for colds and sore throats.3