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Monolaurin The Most Beneficial Compound in Coconut Oil?
January 11, 2019 08:19 AM
We're constantly hearing about the benefits associated with coconut oil, but many of us are unaware of what actually causes coconut oil to be so healthy for our bodies. The main compound found in coconut oil that has positive health benefits is called monolaurin. Monolaurin derives from lauric acid, and it is able to kill off viruses and bacteria due to it being a natural antimicrobial. It can also help in preventing the phenomenon known as antibiotic resistance.
"In nature, lauric acid is a precursor to monolaurin, which is an even more powerful antimicrobial agent than lauric acid. When your body digests lauric acid, certain enzymes within the digestive tract form this beneficial monoglyceride known as monolaurin."
Read more: https://draxe.com/monolaurin/
Exploring The Benefits Of Cat's Claw Herb
Cat's Claw is a medicinal plant made from the root and bark. It has drawn the attention of Western herbalists and researchers while being ranked seventh of the best selling herbs around the world. The plant has two components that are vital; Uncaria tomentosa angUncaria guianensis.
Essential Oils Is Flax Seed
January 30, 2014 05:58 PM
Flax Seed as an Essential Oil
A rich source of recuperating mixes, flax seed has been grown for more than 7000 years. Initially grown in Europe, the plant's tan seeds were customarily used to plan salves for aggravated skin and mending slurries for stoppage. Rich in essential oils, or Efas, flax seed oil is utilized to anticipate and treat coronary illness and to assuage a mixture of incendiary issue and hormone-related issues, incorporating fruitlessness.
Flax Seed History
A source of filament for cloth fabric since aged times, the slim flax plant likewise brags a long history as a mending herb. Initially grown in Europe, the plant's tan seeds were customarily used to plan salves for aroused skin and mending slurries for clogging. Today, flax seeds (additionally called linseeds) are best known for the helpful oil that is inferred by pressing them. Rich in essential greasy acids, or Efas, flax seed oil has earned a robust notoriety for treating a reach of afflictions, from coronary illness to lupus.
Benefits of Flax Seed Oil
The essential oils and greasy acids in flaxseed oil are one of its key mending parts. Efas are especially profitable in light of the fact that the form needs them to capacity fittingly, yet can't produce them on its own. Essential greasy acids work all around the form to secure cell layers, keeping them effective at conceding solid substances while excepting harming ones.
One of the Efas in flax seed oil, alpha-linolenic harsh corrosive, is reputed to be an omega-3 greasy harsh corrosive. Like the omega-3s found in fish, it seems to diminish the danger of coronary illness and various different illnesses.
Flax Seed Oil is an Amazing Source of Omega 3:
Just 1 teaspoon holds around the range of 2.5 grams, identical to more than double the sum most individuals get past their eating methodologies. Flax seeds additionally hold omega-6 fattening acids as linoleic harsh corrosive; omega-6s are the same solid fats found in vegetable oils.
Flax seed oil just holds these alpha-linolenic harsh corrosive (Omega 3 oils), and not the strand or lignan segments. Along these lines, flax seed oil gives the Omega 3 profits, for example, lipid-bringing down lands, not the purgative or against growth lands.
Entire flax seeds (not the concentrated oil) are a rich source of lignans (phytoestrogens), substances that seem to emphatically influence hormone-related issues. Lignans might likewise be functional in anticipating certain growths and battling particular microscopic organisms, parasites, and infections, incorporating those that cause mouth blisters and shingles.
Are There Herbs And Vitamins For Pain?
December 29, 2012 10:17 AM
Everyone at one point or the other suffers some pain which could be of different kinds. We usually go for prescription drugs or at times, over-the-counter pain relievers. These drugs, however, have many side effects and do cause numerous health damages if used for a long period of time. Thus, it is much better to turn to natural pain relievers, such as herbs and vitamins.
Most herbs and vitamins for pain are used as food; therefore, do not have any side effects. This is however not the case in painkillers which are made from synthetic hormones, chemicals, and so on.
Herbal pain relievers.
Turmeric: Turmeric is popularly used in Southeast India for cooking. Turmeric has curcumin, a very powerful ingredient which aid to fight against chronic inflammatory ailments. Thus, turmeric is usually employed with some other herbs to relieve pain.
Ginger Root: Ginger root is a commonly used herbal remedy since it contains warming properties and helps to enhance blood circulation. It is essential in treating arthritis associated pains, backache and menstrual cramps. It's also used to treat sore throat. It is both analgesic and anti-inflammatory.
Valerian Root: This is used for chronic pain relief and as a skeletal relaxant. It may be used also for the treatment of trauma, cramps, shingles, headaches, insomnia, neuralgia, and stress. It possesses antispasmodic properties and is also a sedative.
Arnica: This is a homeopathic pain reliever and is believed to be particularly essential in the treatment of bruising and soft tissue injuries. It helps to alleviate overall sprains and muscle pain. It may be applied externally as a preventive measure to avoid injury prior to racing or exercising. Thus, it is seen to be applied topically and care must be taken so as not to apply it on a broken or open skin.
Vitamins for Pain Relief
Vitamin D: This is a unique vitamin since its main source is being exposed to UV light. A deficiency in this nutrient is widespread and a popular cause of chronic pains. As a matter of fact, a vitamin D deficiency significantly raises the risk of common women's pains. In a study, vitamin D deficiency was shown to raise risk of chronic pain, particularly in women, by over 50%. Aside from sunlight, other sources of vitamin D are mushrooms, shellfish, fatty fish and fortified orange juice.
Vitamin E: This is a potent antioxidant which protects nerves and joints from damages which may cause pain. In a recent research, it was discovered that vitamin E supplements lower nerve pain. Vitamin E-rich diets are walnuts, peanuts, wheat germ, corn and kiwi.
B complex Vitamins: These include many water-soluble vitamins, such as riboflavin, thiamine and folic acid. In a chronic pain animal model, it was discovered that high amounts of B-complex vitamins reduced pain significantly. B-complex vitamin supplements can be found in a number of supplement stores. Dietary sources are vegetables, whole grains, fortified cereals and fruits.
Vitamin C: This is an antioxidant just like vitamin E and protects nerve cells from damage. A scientist known as Paul E. Zollinger discovered that vitamin C supplements helped in reducing pain in wrist fractured patients. Foods rich in Vitamin C are broccoli, bananas, mangoes and oranges.
November 21, 2012 03:58 PM
Fulvic acid is derived from humeric substances that are components of decomposing plants and animal material. It is available over the counter and is famous for its ability to cure various ailments. Fulvic acid gives soil its brown color and is extracted from humeric substances using sodium hydroxide.
Health Benefits of Fulvic Acid
In cases of poisoning caused by poison ivy and oak, fulvic acid can be used to neutralize the poison effects. Fulvic acid is derived from the soil and provides the body with the nutrients it needs to maintain good health.
Why Is Capsicum Cayenne Good For The Heart?
December 27, 2011 07:48 AM
Cayenne and Heart Health
The heart is something that is vital to any one of us and that is a fact. Recent numbers have revealed that over a million Americans die each year of a heart attack. So all the more reason for us to be careful with our hearts, make sure we keep it in good health and make sure we do everything we can to keep it working like it should because I am pretty sure that you do not want to be part of that next million next year.
Our heart is one of those organs in the body that truly plays an integral role and the none functioning of it will cause your expiration in just a matter of minutes unlike other organs when damaged there is still a possibility for you to survive it, but no, not the heart, once you are done, you are done and that is why its health should be one of our main concerns. The heart’s main function is to supply blood to other parts of the body and it is literally our pumping station. It does not stop at any time in our entire life, I am sure no one will contend with that. So I feel that it is our obligation to find out how we can keep the heart healthy. Well, the usual will always be there like exercise and proper diet but if you want to look at other ways aside from that and aside from medication then the way to go is the natural way and what can be more natural than supplementing with something which is derived from an everyday vegetable like peppers.
This refers to the wide variety of tropical pepper plants and as such is also known by other names like cayenne pepper, chilli pepper, red pepper, paprika, Hungarian pepper and Mexican pepper. It is unclear as to what exactly is its geographical origin but it is commonly agreed upon that it is a native of tropical regions such as China, Philippines, Tonga, Samoa, Iraq, Haiti, Hawaii and Mexico. One of its benefits is its ability to regulate blood circulation and alter temperature regulation because of the substance found in it which is known as capsaicin. Its seed has been proven in various studies to have antibiotic properties and if applied topically can even desensitize nerves and can be used as an anesthetic. When used as a liniment it is able to help with the stimulation of circulation as well and aid in the removal of waste (detox) products therefore allowing an increase in nutrient flow to the different tissues in the body which is why it is effective in relieving muscle spasms, bursitis and shingles.
Good for the Heart
One of the reasons why it is good for the heart is because it has the ability to stimulate blood vessels dilation and help relieve chronic congestions which in turn will improve blood circulation. It also has the ability to lower blood cholesterol levels and increase metabolism which are both vital to maintaining heart health.
Benefits of Olive Leaf Extract
December 17, 2011 08:13 AM
Olive Leaf Extract
History of Olive Leaf Extracts (Olea Europaea) In Medicinal Use
Usage of Olive leaf for medicinal usage dates back to 2925 BC, with the ancient Egyptians. They regarded it as a symbol of power bestowed from the heaven for the benefit of humans. Later, in 776 BC, ancient Greeks awarded "olive leaf wreaths" to the Olympic Games winners, and it continues till today. It is believed in the Greeks mythology that Olive leaf was created by goddess Athena, who first planted it in Acropolis and endowed it with miraculous powers.
The first reported use of olive leaves for Fighting diseases was in year 1811 with Dr. Pallas using liquid extract from olive leaves to treat malaria. In the mid 1850's, olive leaf tea was used to treat fever and malaria in England. In the 1960's, in Italy, it was used to control blood pressure and treat heart problems and intestinal muscle spams.
Olive Leaf - An Inexpensive Solution For Diseases
Olive leaves are the leaves of olive tree (Olea europaea). Olive leaves are popular for their health benefits and flavor, and the leaves have been medicinally used in various places and times. Olive leaf Extracts (OLE) and natural olive leaf are in markets now as immunostimulator, anti-aging and antibiotic. It has been proven with clinical evidence that it regulates blood pressure and has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties. Recently, a liquid extract made from olive leaves got in international focus, when it was shown that its antioxidant capability was twice as powerful as green tea and much more that than vitamin C.
Health Benefits Of Olive Leaf Extracts
Olive leaf extracts are commonly used to fight viral infections like flu and cold, yeast infections, herpes and shingles. Olive leaves have also been shown to alleviate bad cholesterol or LDL (low-density lipoproteins). Researchers have established that olive leaf reduces blood pressure and increases blood flow by relaxing the arteries. Olive leaf extracts may also prove helpful in stroke, brain edema, infarct volume and other neurological disorders.
Olive leaf has strong antioxidant properties, which help the body from the harmful effects of free radicals. Free radicals can damage the cells due to their reactive chemical nature, if they are not eliminated. Interestingly, a recent research also shows that the antioxidant properties of olive leaf are also effective in treatment of tumors, and in the cancers of breast, skin, liver, colon and prostrate.
Olive Leaf Usage
Olive leaf extracts are available, and can be consumed in various forms. It is obtainable as dried leaf tea, liquid concentrate, capsule or powder form; however fresh leaves or leaf extract are considered more beneficial.
Medicinal Nature Of Olive Leaf Extracts
1. Anti-Inflammatory: It has anti-inflammatory properties, useful to treat gastritis, acidity and other stomach problems.
2. Immunity: It increases immunity power against diseases.
3. Reduce pathogens: It curbs over the generation and spread of pathogens in the body. It controls the growth of viruses and bacteria.
4. Treat obesity: Olive leaf tea reduces obesity when consumed regularly.
5. Acne treatment: The strong antioxidant content s of Olive Leaf Extracts (OLE) clean the skin from inside, and help the skin to remain wrinkle free and maintain a youthful look.
6. Good for Heart: Olive leaf extracts are helpful to control cholesterol and blood pressure.
How Does Selenium Support Your Immune System?
June 13, 2011 01:32 PM
Selenium And Your Health.Selenium is a trace element that may or may not be take in sufficient quantities in your diet. However, selenium supplements are available in quantities that would ensure you did not suffer an overdose. Whether you need such a supplement or not depends on your diet, and on your daily consumption of fish, red meat and chicken, eggs and grains.
So why is selenium so important? Apart from it now appearing to help protect you from some cancers, and its properties as an antioxidant protecting your heart and your cells from premature aging, selenium helps to support your immune system. Without a healthy immune system you would fall prey to every virus, bacterium, fungus and other pathogen that decided to attack your body.
Selenium is an important factor in the formation of antibodies against these invading pathogens, but it also has another role to play. It is currently under investigation for its potential to fight HIV, the Human Immunodeficiency Virus that can eventually lead to AIDS. It is already known that selenium can prevent the reactivation of latent herpes viruses that cause shingles and cold sores, and it is also under investigation for its effects on the HIV virus.
Selenium supports your immune system in ways other than these, and it is important that you maintain a good intake in your daily diet.
Try Some Selenium Today And Feel The Difference!
Can Olive Leaf Boost My Immune System - answer is Yes
April 06, 2011 03:01 PM
Olive Leaf And Your Health
Olive leaf is highly prized for its antimicrobial properties in booth food and supplement industries. For centuries, the leaf of the olive tree has been utilized as a natural antibiotic. It has become the subject of modern day scientific research in the past few years, and preliminary studies appear to be in favor of its age-old claims. In addition, it is now known to modulate immune responses and display potent antioxidant activities.
Olea europaea may be best known for its long association with Mediterranean cuisines although cultures around the world have also used various parts of the plant as flavor enhancers. Its medicinal value continues to gain prominence as recent studies point to the health benefits of the organic compounds it contains. Olive leaf is identified to be an excellent source of the phytochemicals hydroxytyrosol, oleuropein, and oleocanthal, all of which are known for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. In fact, fresh olive leaves are widely accepted to have an antioxidant content that is 400 per cent higher than vitamin C, that’s double the antioxidant capacity of green teas.
Fights Bacterial and Viral Infections
Olive leaf is antiseptic in nature. It was an important ingredient in poultices used to treat war wounds in the ancient world. Elenolic acid is an organic compound naturally occurring in olive leaf, which is under scrutiny for its antibacterial and antiviral properties. This compound is described to be both bactericidal and bacteriostatic, which means it is directly involved in killing bacterial strains and at the same time interferes with bacterial cellular metabolism. In addition, the antiviral properties ascribed to olive leaf are attributable to its ability to viral protein synthesis necessary for viral replication. This explains why it is effective in the treatment of many known infections, such as candidiasis, shingles, herpes, and Epstein-Barr virus infectious mononucleosis. It has also been reported to reduce the symptoms of colds and flu and shorten their duration.
Scavenges Reactive Oxygen Species
The natural antioxidants found in olive leaf are believed to be the most powerful antioxidants in the market, and as such often marketed as anti-aging. Antioxidants are indispensable in the prevention of the tissue damage caused by reactive oxygen species, or ROS. Free radicals, the best known ROS, are among the group of by-products of oxygen metabolism in the human body. They are also deployed by cells in response to invasive pathogens. Each cell does have its own antioxidant defense, but an imbalance between endogenous antioxidants and ROS is quite common. Chronic stress and physical fatigue are thought to compromise the antioxidant defense of the body, which is restored by antioxidants found in the diet.
Boosts the Innate Immune System
Furthermore, olive leaf strengthens the innate immune system. Its proponents believe that regular intake contributes to the non-specific responses of the immune system, such as the production of neutrophils during inflammation. This type of white blood cells is often the first to engage with pathogens. By speeding up their releases, olive leaf prepares the body against infections.
If you want an Immune Boost, Give olive leaf a try!
October 30, 2009 12:45 PM
Peppermint was used by both the Romans and Greeks in some of their sacred rites. It was highly regarded for its medicinal purposes. The Romans used mint as a stomach aid and also to promote digestion. The Greeks also used this herb for a variety of different ailments. Mint can be found all throughout stories in Greek mythology. The leaf of peppermint was used by Native Americans in a tea form as a carminative, in order to prevent vomiting, nausea, and fevers. The peppermint plant is native to Europe. There are many different varieties of peppermint. The plant is actually believed to be a hybrid between spearmint and water mint.
Peppermint leaf is believed to be one of the great herbal remedies and is very useful to have around the house. It is very easy to grow, either in the garden or the home. The herb contains warming oil that is effective as a nerve stimulant. The oil is helpful in increasing oxygen in the blood and working to clean and strengthen the entire body. Peppermint is a great sedative for the stomach. It has been found to contain properties that stimulate the flow of bile and help to settle the stomach after vomiting. The herb is beneficial in dealing with nausea, chills, colic, fevers, gas, and diarrhea. It is able to cleanse, soothe, and relax the body. Peppermint has long been recommended by herbalists for digestive problems. Additionally, it is used for convulsions in infants, to increase respiration, for colds, and to strengthen the entire body.
The menthol that is found in peppermint is believed to be the major component responsible for the medicinal value that it provides. Peppermint plants contain somewhere between fifty and seventy-eight percent menthol. Studies have determined that there are numerous volatile oils in peppermint, which possess antibacterial activity in vitro. It is yet to be determined just how effective peppermint will be in clinical studies. It is also believed that the oil of peppermint is able to sooth gastrointestinal contractions and help to relieve gas. Peppermint’s volatile oils produce relaxation on the smooth muscles. This may be beneficial in conditions such as irritable bowel, abdominal pain, and other gastrointestinal complaints. Research done in 1979 found that peppermint oil capsules were very effective in treating irritable bowel syndrome. A study that was done using laboratory mice found that peppermint leaf extract produces a mild sedative effect. Additionally, animal studies have found that the azulene in peppermint oil contains anti-inflammatory properties.
The leaves and oil of the peppermint plant are used to provide antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, aromatic, carminative, diaphoretic, rubefacient, and stimulant properties. The primary nutrients found in this herb are copper, iodine, inositol, iron, magnesium, niacin, potassium, silicon, sulfur, and vitamins A and C. Primarily, peppermint is extremely beneficial in dealing with appetite loss, colds, colic, digestion, fever, gas, headaches, heartburn, nausea, nerves, shock, bowel spasms, and vomiting.
Additionally, the herb is very helpful in treating chills, cholera, constipation, convulsions, stomach cramps, uterine cramps, depression, dizziness, flu, heart problems, insomnia, menstrual problems, morning sickness, motion sickness, neuralgia, shingles, mouth sores, stomach spasms, and sore throat. In order to obtain the best results when supplementing with this make sure the peppermint supplement is enteric coated. For more information on the many beneficial effects provided by pennyroyal, please feel free to consult a representative from your local health food store with questions.
September 21, 2009 11:12 AM
Horehound has been around for thousands of years. The Romans used this herb in a combination as an antidote for poison. The horehound plant is a bushy plant that produces numerous annual branching stems. The plant is a foot or more in height and has whitish flowers. The leaves are much wrinkled, opposite, petiolate, and about an inch long. They are covered with white, felted hairs that give them a wooly appearance. The leaves have a strange, musky smell that can be diminished by drying the plant. Horehound is known to flower between June and September.
An ancient Greek physician by the name of Galen first recommended horehound for use in treating respiratory conditions. Early European physicians also used horehound to treat respiratory ailments. Early settlers in North America brought horehound with them to treat coughs, colds, and tuberculosis. The herb was also used to treat hepatitis, malaria, and intestinal worms. Horehound was also used to promote menstruation and sweating. Most commonly, the herb is used to treat colds and coughs, to soothe the throat and loosen mucus in the chest. Horehound is a well-known lung and throat remedy.
Warm infusions of horehound are able to relieve congestion and hyperemic conditions of the lungs. They do this by promoting an outward flow of blood. In large doses, horehound will work as a mild laxative. Applying the dried herb topically is a great way to treat herpes simplex, eruptions, eczema, and shingles.
The Romans praised horehound because of its medicinal purposes. Its Latin name Marrubium is derived from the word Maria urbs, which is an ancient town of Italy. The plant was called the ‘Seed of Horus” or the ‘Bull’s Blood,’ and the ‘Eye of the Star’ by the Egyptian Priests. Horehound was a main ingredient in Caesar’s antidote for vegetable poisons. It was recommended, in addition to its uses in coughs and colds, for those that had drunk poison or had been bitten by serpents. Horehound was once thought of as an anti-magical herb. Additionally, horehound is a serviceable remedy against cankerworm in trees. Some believed that if it is put into new milk and set in a place where there are a lot of flies, it will quickly kill all of them.
The marrubiin content of horehound is believed to be the responsible component, giving it its ability to stimulate bronchial mucosa secretions. This information was obtained by German research done in 1959. Horehound can be used as a safe and effective expectorant.
The entire horehound plant should be used to provide alterative, anti-inflammatory, antitussive, aromatic, bitter, diaphoretic, diuretic, expectorant, mild purgative, stimulant, and stomachic properties. The primary nutrients found in this herb are iron, potassium, sulfur, and vitamins A, B-complex, C, E, and F. Primarily, horehound is extremely helpful in dealing with asthma, colds, coughs, croup, lung ailments, excessive mucus, phlegm, and respiratory problems.
Additionally, this herb is beneficial in treating bronchitis, infectious diseases, earaches, external eczema, fevers, glandular problems, jaundice, absent menstruation, and external shingles. For more information on the many beneficial effects provided by horehound, please feel free to contact a representative from your local health food store.
Fight Cold Sores And Build Collagen
April 29, 2009 10:18 AM
Lysine is an essential alpha-amino acid, in that it cannot be biosynthesized by the human body, and therefore must be taken in your diet or as a supplement. It is synthesized in plants from aspartic acid, and metabolized in the body to produce acetyl-Coenzyme A (acetyl-CoA).
Before discussing its action on herpes, we shall first have look at how Lysine helps with the formation of collagen. Collagen is a protein that is produced in the body from lysine and proline, another amino acid. In fact the primary role of amino acids in your diet is as building blocks to form the much larger protein molecules.
Collagen is fibrous, and forms the connective tissue such as cartilage, ligaments, tendons, blood vessels and skin. Even the external parts of the ears. It literally holds our skeletons together, and wraps the whole body up in skin, so if we had no collagen we would literally fall apart! Collagen is also used by body cells to form the matrix that the body cells use to attach to each other and is one of the most important types of tissue in your body.
It is so ubiquitous that over 30% of the protein contained in your body is collagen, and it is designed for its structural strength as opposed to its ability to take part in chemical reactions as other proteins are. Lysine and Vitamin C are essential for the maintenance and formation of collagen.
There is not a lot of lysine in collagen - only about 4%, but it is very active in the cross-linking that forms the fibrils of collagen. Fibrils are the hair-like structures formed in a triple helix arrangement by three protein chains twisting round one another. The fibrils are bundled together in a straight line that has amazing tensile strength. The tensile strength of collagen is, weight for weight, stronger than steel!
In order for lysine to take part in this process effectively, some molecules have to be hydroxylated and others oxidized, forming aldehydes. Things can go wrong here, and deficiencies in the metabolic process can lead to some heritable conditions, or diseases of connective tissue. Among these are lathyrism, Cutis-Laxa and the Menkes kinky hair syndrome.
However, lysine is a very versatile amino acid, and not only is it necessary for the biosynthesis of all proteins, but is also heavily involved in the production of enzymes, hormones and antibodies. It is an important component of the calcium absorption process, and also, as previously stated, can be used in the treatment of herpes simplex.
This form of herpes is known commonly as 'cold sores', and is a result of the activity of the herpes virus. Viruses do not reproduce in order to ensure the 'continuation of the species', but replicate. In order to achieve this it requires the help of another amino acid, arginine. This is a common amino acid whose sources include grains, seeds, peanuts, raisins and chocolate.
Lysine and arginine competes for the absorption and entry of tissue cells, and reduces the strength of arginine, so preventing the growth of herpes. For this reason a supplement of lysine can be used to reduce the effects of the herpes simplex virus, and lessen the symptoms of the cold sore.
However, it is not only cold sores but other forms of herpes that lysine can help to relieve. Herpes zoster is a virus that causes shingles. This virus is generated by the reactivation of the dormant varicella-zoster virus left in the tissues after chickenpox. It is a recurrent condition, and lycine can help to reduce recurrences as well as its severity. Apart from being an effective defense against herpes, and forming collagen, the amino acid imparts several other benefits to the human body.
Among these is osteoporosis. L-lysine is involved in calcium absorption in the intestine, and also helps to reduce the loss of calcium in the urine. In osteoporosis we have to try to make every calcium molecule ingested in the diet to be incorporated in the bone structure. L-arginine can work with lysine to enhance the activity of the body cells that produce bone.
Canker sores are often mistaken for cold sores, but they are actually quite different. They are small sores inside the mouth, and appear in the form of very painful ulcers. The cause is unknown, but is believed to be a virus, and lysine appears to help the condition. Although there have been no proper clinical tests carried out on its use as a remedy for canker sores, lysine appears to help, and a supplement is recommended as a treatment by many doctors. It will do no harm, and anybody suffering from these tiny but painful sores will try anything.
Although lysine deficiency is rare, it can occur, particularly amongst those observing a vegetarian macrobiotic diet, and also in athletes who frequently undertake vigorous exercise, especially with too little recovery time. The effects of a deficiency are fatigue, nausea, appetite loss, anemia, slow growth and kidney stones. The latter is likely due to a failure to absorb calcium, that L-lysine promotes, and the formation of calcium oxalate and other insoluble salts in the kidney.
Dietary sources include beans and other legumes, and although it should be available in cereals, baked foods and doughnuts, for example, the carmelization of sugars binds the lysine to the sugar, and so reducing its bioavailability. However, you can also get it in cheese, eggs, tofu and red meats.
If you are taking an arginine supplement, you should consult your physician prior to taking lysine. The reason for this is that lysine and arginine share biochemical pathways, and arginine can reduce the effective concentration of lysine.
However, it has not been tested by the FDA, nor approved, and any use is at your own risk. This risk appears to be very small, although its manufacture is not regulated. However, do not let this bother you: the proof of the pudding is in the eating as they say.
Many have found lysine to be effective with collagen or herpes problems, and a supplement of between 3,000 and 9,000 mg per day is recommended for those with herpes viral infections. It is not recommended for children under two years old. Lysine is available at your local or internet health food store at discount prices. Look for name brands to ensure purity and quality of the product you purchase.
Another Great Cold Sore Remedy is Red Marine Algae!
Una de Gato (Cat’s Claw)
April 26, 2008 09:36 AM
Una de Gato, otherwise known as cat’s claw, is properly Unicaria tomentosa. It has been used as an herbal medicine for at least two thousand years by the people of Central and South America who gave it the name vilcacora.
It grows in jungle areas and rainforest in South America and Asia, and gets its name from the small claw-like thorns at the base of the leaves. One of the environmental benefits of the Una de Gato is that when it is harvested at three feet above the ground, it grows back to its full size of up to 100 feet within a few years when it can be harvested again to three feet. Cat’s claw has been given dietary supplement status by the FDA.
The Peruvian Asháninka tribe has used the plant as a contraceptive and for the treatment of rheumatic conditions, diabetes, acne, diarrhea, cancer, urinary tract diseases and as an anti-inflammatory, and many of the studies of cat’s claw have centered on this tribe. The studies quickly showed the active ingredients to be alkaloids, both tertracyclic oxindole alkaloids and pentacyclic alkaloids that have been found both in the bark and in the root.
The extract is obtained by boiling both the inner part of the bark and the root, each of which differs in concentration of the various alkaloids. The root is believed to better for its anti-inflammatory powers due to the quinovic acid glycoside it contains, although the relative concentrations of the various alkaloids can vary according to the time of year and to the chemotype of the plant.
Cat’s Claw comes in two chemotypes, each of which differs in the relative concentrations of the two different alkaloid types. One predominates in the pentacyclic alkaloids that strengthen the immune system, and the other chemotype in the tetracyclic alkaloids that counter that effect and reduce the speed and strength of the contractions of the heart. It is not possible to tell which chemotype a particular plant is until it has been chemically tested. They look exactly the same and it is possible for both to grow sided by side. However, the root is generally richer in alkaloids, and sells at about twice the price of the bark. Alkaloids are not the only active ingredients in Una de Gato, and it also contains tannins and phytochemicals that have an antioxidant effect and are useful free radical scavengers. They have been studied for their effects in the treatment of HIV and cancer, though mainly due to the glycoside content that will be discussed shortly. The National cancer Institute has confirmed some anti-cancer properties of quinovic glycosides derived from cat’s claw.
The four pentacyclic alkaloids have been found to have a boosting effect on the human immune system, which it does by enhancing the ability of the white blood cells and macrophages to digest and kill off foreign organisms and debris in tissue and the bloodstream. The inference is that the herb is able to be used to treat a wide variety of infectious diseases, including many immune and autoimmune conditions including AIDS. The results with AIDs are inconclusive, although one particular study showed that cat’s claw produced accelerated healing of cold sores and genital herpes (herpes simplex virus) and shingles (caused by herpes zoster virus). Although the evidence is slight, there are indications of its possible use in treating viral conditions.
It is used in homeopathy for the treatment of a number of digestive ailments, such as Crohn’s disease, leaky bowel syndrome, colitis, gastritis and gastric ulcers among others. It is also used in the treatment of inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, rheumatism and some conditions of the prostate gland.
The tertracyclic indole alkaloids that appear to counter the immune-boosting properties of their pentacyclic cousins include rhynchophylline, hirsutine, and mitraphylline. Rhynchophylline prevents blood clots in the veins and arteries by reducing the formation of platelets, and can dilate the peripheral blood vessels of the hands and feet. It can also lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce the heart rate. Due to this effect on blood vessels, it is though to be able to improve the circulation in the brain and be a useful treatment for Alzheimer’s sufferers. Hirsutine inhibits contractions of the smooth muscle of the bladder, and so finds uses in the treatment of urinary incontinence.
The pentacyclic alkaloids pteropodine and isopteropodine are believed to have important properties beyond their phagocytosis effect on the immune system. It has been reported that they have an effect on the 5-HT(2) receptors in the brain. These neurotransmitters are used as targets for many drugs used to treat a variety of conditions such as depression, eating disorders and anxiety, and such alkaloids have a positive modulating effect on them.
The anti-inflammatory properties of cat’s claw are largely due to the very potent quinovic acid glycosides previously referred to. These have been known about only recently, and they are thought to work synergistically to reduce the tissue swelling (edema) associated with the immune system’s inflammatory reaction. Although this is believed to be largely due to the glycosides, three of the alkaloids also possess anti-inflammatory properties. This property provides the scientific background for the traditional use of Una de Gato for rheumatism and arthritis, both inflammatory conditions. Many of the digestive conditions for which the plant has traditionally used are also inflammatory in nature.
A threat to cat’s claw is the destruction of the Peruvian rainforest, although not as much as a threat as the destruction of the plant itself. Cat’s claw has reached levels of popularity so high that it is in danger of extinction due to improper harvesting. New laws being enacted by the Peruvian government should help to protect the plant, and to promote its harvesting over cocoa.
When buying cat’s claw, make sure that it is the Uncaria tomentosa form you are purchasing since there is another type, Uncaria Guianensis that contains different alkaloids and is not as potent as the real Una de Gato. Also beware of a shrub known as cat’s claw acacia, grown in Mexico and the southwest USA, since it contains cyanide derivatives and could be very dangerous if taken by mouth.
Benfotiamine A Natural Solution Or Miracle Substance To Control Blood Sugar?
February 19, 2008 04:25 PM
The term "miracle" has been in use for hundreds of years when it comes to products that are claimed to aid health. Does this mean that it's always false? Not necessarily. Occasionally a seemingly "new" product will enter the spotlight and draw the attention of the public. Often, after a series of tests and trials, these products fade into oblivion because they didn't actually perform in the ways purported. There are exceptions to this rule; as with the supplement benfotiamine.
Benfotiamine is a natural solution to many problems in the human body. This product is one of nature's best sources of thiamine; or B-1. The FDA has approved this additive as a dietary supplement. Vitamin B-1 is a necessary substance in the body because it maximizes the results of your carbohydrate intake. It also helps with stress, improves your mental health and strengthens your general nervous system.
Benfotiamine is commonly found in trace amounts within such substances as roasted garlic, onions, leeks and shallots. Many years ago, a Japanese pharmaceutical company attempted to bring attention to this substance. Unfortunately, their efforts gained little traction. Recently, a physician produced a published article detailing the benefits of benfotiamine and since then the product has rapidly gained popularity.
This product has been tested for individuals with conditions pertaining to diabetes, but the full scope of clinical testing does not end there. Benfotiamine has been tested for decades for its effects and capabilities in helping all types of conditions.
For those with diabetes, this substance has been reported to alleviate sciatica as well as improve general cellular and circulation health. Neuropathy is a painful condition encountered by individuals with diabetes. There are several other related conditions that have all responded well to this supplement.
This supplement has helped many with diabetes, but also helps those without it. This supplement has also been reported to have benefits for: nerve health, improved blood pressure, fibromyalgia and has been used in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease. It has been suggested that benfotiamine contains many anti-aging properties that help the body.
Vitamin B-1 is reported to combat motion sickness. It helps in the treatment of the painful condition known as "shingles," helps lessen post-operative dental pain and even repels biting insects. B-1 is found naturally in many products including whole wheat foods, dairy products, peanuts, oatmeal and rice husks.
Benfotiamine has no known interactions with prescription medications and, in turn, helps replenish the body with thiamine. There are some prescription drugs that will cause a B-1 deficiency if no supplements are taken.
Benfotiamine is lipid-soluble (or fat-soluble) and this quality means the idea of "overdosing" is nearly impossible. It metabolizes quickly and does not build up in the human body. There are certain individuals who require a higher dose to be most effective. Those who love caffeine, who are pregnant, who smoke or drink alcohol may have a B-1 deficiency.
There are many forms of this product, but capsules seem to be the most common outside of the food groups. The effects are noted to take anywhere from two to three weeks to fully develop. If you are interested in starting a regimen of benfotiamine, or any supplement, consult your physician first.
Cayenne for your aches and pains!
December 22, 2007 11:15 AM
Cayenne is the spicy pepper that is found in the same family as bell peppers and jalapenos. It is responsible for putting the kick into a lot of different spicy dishes, but it also helps to promote better health. Cayenne creams have capsaicin, an active compound which has proven to ease the pain of arthritic joints, along with the discomfort from shingles, muscular aches and spasms, bursitis, diabetic neuropathy, and phantom pains that follow amputation. By rubbing capsaicin on the skin, one can get rid of the chemical messengers that usually send pain signals. Even though the source of pain will still be there, using capsaicin will cause relief from the pain. However, this effect won’t last, so you will need to keep applying the cream to continue to deplete messengers that send pain signals. To use capsaicin, start by applying it four times a day for the first four days, then cut back to twice daily. You can tell a cayenne cream is working because there is a definite tingle, sometimes even a sting when you first apply them. Be careful not to put too much of this potent stuff on irritated or broken skin and be sure to wash your hands after applying so that you do not get the cream into sensitive areas such as your eyes and mouth.
By consuming cayenne in foods or in a capsule, one can ease the pain of stomachache, cramps, gas, or indigestion. One can also benefit the cardiovascular system by lowering LDL cholesterol and can also protect the body from free radical damage. Even more promising research on cayenne has found that cayenne cranks up thermogenesis and also suppresses appetite, assisting in weight loss. This means that while your mouth is burning from the spicy food, you are also burning calories. This spicy herb has also shown promising results in its ability to protect the stomach lining from damaging effects of aspirin. If you know that you have an ulcer or gastritis, make sure to use cayenne cautiously as it could worsen those conditions.
If you are looking for a great way to cleanse your system, an effect detox drink can be made from cayenne. By simply squeezing the juice of one lemon into a pint of warm water and adding a pinch of cayenne and one tablespoon of maple syrup, an effective drink can be created. Drinking one or more cups daily will produce great effects. If you’ve decided to eat mostly raw fruits and veggies during your cleansing diet, you might find that the raw foods can be tough to digest. A lot of people have found that when their digestive fire is weak, the raw fruit and vegetables are not easily digested. By sprinkling a little cayenne on your foods, you can build up the inner digestive fire, making raw foods much more easily digested. To get all of these great and helpful benefits, you can find cayenne at any local health food store or pharmacy. Cayenne can enhance absorption of the vitamins and prescription drugs you are currently taking; always first, be sure to consult your health care practitioner to make sure that cayenne is right for you.
June 23, 2005 11:50 AM
SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC ACTIONS ASSOCIATED WITH CAPSICUM
June 23, 2005 11:31 AM
SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC ACTIONS ASSOCIATED WITH CAPSICUM
The following are specific actions associated with capsicum and the conditions it can help relieve.
PRIMARY MEDICINAL APPLICATIONS OF CAPSICUM
Substances that Complement Capsicum As previously mentioned, Capsicum is frequently added to herbal combinations in order to boost and potentiate their action.
The following herbs create particularly good herbal complements with Capsicum: garlic, ginger, hawthorn berry, peppermint, myrrh, yucca, gotu kola, parsley, ro s e m a ry, echinacea, kelp, ginseng, ginkgo, bayberry, slippery elm, black walnut, papaya, pep- permint, fennel, St. John’s Wort, and lobelia.
CLINICAL APPLICATIONS OF CAPSICUM
June 23, 2005 11:20 AM
CLINICAL APPLICATIONS OF CAPSICUM
Capsicum is a remarkable whole body stimulant that can boost blood flow, tone the nervous system, relieve indigestion, promote sweating, help to cauterize and heal ulcers, ease persistent pain and fight off infection. One very authoritative work on African plants suggests that Capsicum’s “regular ingestion is highly beneficial in hemorrhoids, varicose veins, anorexia, liver congestion and vascular conditions . . .the indigenous inhabitants of Africa and of the Antilles are remarkably free form all of these conditions as they use Capsicum fruit in their diet.”10 Most of the therapeutic actions of Capsicum are attributed to the alkaloid or glucoside content of the herb.11 The latest scientific studies conducted with Capsicum will be discussed in subsequent sections.
Because Capsicum boosts peripheral circulation and stimulates organ secretion, it expedites the therapeutic delivery and action of other herbs. In other words, the medicinal benefits of these herbs reach infected or inflamed tissue more rapidly due to enhanced blood flow.12 Consider the following statement: “Cayenne will insure the rapid and even distribution of the active principles of the rest of the herbs to critical function - al centers of the body, including those involved in cellular respiration, metabolism, data transmission, and neural-hormonal activation. Cayenne is included in several other blends for this reason. In extremely small quantities it can dramatically increase the efficiency of most other herbs.”13 Many health practitioners believe that the key to healing is CAPSICUM stimulation. Capsicum stimulates eve rything from blood flow to peristaltic action in the stomach, to intestinal transit time. The re m a rkable ability of Capsicum to stimulate organ secretion and even heart action makes it one of the strongest natural stimulants known. Se veral different kinds of herbal blends targeting various body systems will utilize Capsicum to boost the formula’s efficacy.
Capsicum is said to be unequaled for its ability to boost circulation and increase heart action. Interestingly, cultures who consume significant amounts of cayenne pepper in their diet have much lower rates of cardiovascular disease.14 Capsicum exerts a variety of desirable actions on the entire card i ovascular system. It has the extraordinary ability to enhance cardiovascular performance while actually lowering blood pressure.15 A quote taken from a card i ovascular publication re a d s , “Capsaicin has also been shown to prolong cardiac action potential in atrial muscle . . .”16 Michael T. Murray, N.D., has stated, “ Cayenne pepper [Capsicum] should be recommended as a food for its beneficial antioxidant and cardiovascular effects.”17 Herbalists have considered Capsicum as a superior “f o o d” for the heart. In fact, in cases where a heart attack is suspected administering capsicum in hot water has been thought to help lessen the severity of the attack. Capsicum can also be placed on or under the tongue in emergencies involving heart attack, stroke or hemorrhaging. 18 Note: Using Capsicum for any heart-related problem, especially a suspected heart attack should never take the place of medical attention or a physician’s care.
CAPSICUM Blood Cholesterol Reducer
Various studies have conclusively demonstrated that Capsicum reduces the risk of developing atherosclerosis (hardening of the a rteries) by reducing blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels .19 Additional clinical studies conducted in India found that when cayenne was ingested along with dietary cholesterol, the typical rise in liver and blood serum cholesterol levels was significantly inhibited. In addition, bile acids and free cholesterol were subsequently eliminated from the body through the stool.20 Interestingly, these tests revealed that using Capsicum was actually more effective in reducing cholesterol that capsaicin alone.2 1 Daniel Mowrey, Ph.D., emphatically points out that this is just one of many examples of the superiority of whole botanicals as opposed to their isolated components.22 Note: Using Capsicum in combination with Hawthorn is a particularly good cardiovascular tonic.
Blood Pressure Equalizer
While an added bonus of Capsicum’s capability to lower blood serum cholesterol is a decrease in blood pressure, additional evidence strongly suggests that the herb initiates other mechanisms that fight hypertension .23 “Cayenne, according to another study, also reduces the blood pressure in an even more direct manner: a number of years ago, a team of researchers discove red that capsaicin acts in a reflexive manner to reduce systemic blood pressure, a kind of coronary chemoreflex.”24 Adding Garlic to Capsicum creates an even better therapeutic blend for treating hypertension.
Blood Detoxification CAPSICUM
“Cayenne is a kind of catalyst in the blood purification process . . . it acts as a diaphoretic, stimulating the excretion of wastes in the swe a t . ”25 Because Capsicum stimulates organ secretion and boosts peripheral blood flow, it would only stand to reason that it would also facilitate the faster removal of toxins from the bloodstream and lymphatic system. You may have already noticed that Capsicum is frequently added to blood-purifying herbal combinations. Circulatory Booster Researchers have found that the simulating action of Capsicum on surface capillaries can help to pre vent cold hands and feet.2 6 For this reason, it may be helpful for Reynaud’s Syndrome. Old remedies using Capsicum have even recommended placing it in socks to warm the feet and to help prevent frostbite. An old folk cure for a chilled body was a steaming hot cup of Capsicum tea. Free Radical Scavenger The rich flavonoid content of Capsicum gives it significant antioxidant capabilities. A recent study conducted in 1995 showed that Capsicum has a higher ascorbic acid content than chiles from the jalapeno or serrano varieties .27 Vitamin C and bioflavonoids can scavenge for dangerous free radicals which cause tissue damage and can predispose organs to degenerative diseases. Free radicals are found everywhere and are created as by-products of metabolic p rocesses including the act of breathing itself. Pollutants can expose the body to free radicals. An interesting study done in Mexico City and published in 1993 found that Capsicum extract was able to modulate the mutagenic activity of urban air samples.28 In other words, these potentially dangerous nitro - a romatic compounds found in polluted air were kept from mutating by red chile extract.29 Chemical breakdowns of Capsicum have also found that CAPSICUM the pepper is high in Provitamin A, which significantly contributes to its healing ability and immune fortification.30 Anti-Carcinogenic Compound Anti-cancer research recently tested Capsicum on laboratory rats and found that it does indeed demonstrate anti-cancer properties by inhibiting certain enzymes which can initiate the mutation of cells.31 What this implies is that taking Capsicum can afford the body some protection against the cellular mutation which occurs in malignant growths. Capsicum actually inhibited the formation of dangerous metabolites under laboratory conditions where they should have normally been activa t e d .3 2 This study implies that Capsicum may have many more sophisticated bio-chemical actions than previously thought.
An Impressive Pain Killer
Capsaicin has recently emerged as a remarkably effective pain reliever and has become the subject of recent clinical research . Applying capsaicin in cream or ointment form to painful joints, scar tissue or other painful conditions involving peripheral nerves confuses pain transmitters. In other worlds, capsaicin temporarily disrupts sensory nerve cell biochemistry there by impeding the relay of pain sensations from the skin surface. It does this by inhibiting a neurotransmitter called substance P. This specific compound is thought to be the main mediator of pain impulses from peripheral nerve endings.33 Substance P has also demonstrated its ability to inhibit inflammatory pain generated in arthritic joints in much the same way.34 Today, several over-the-counter topical preparations utilize capsaicin for the pain of arthritic joints. The ability of Capsicum to control severe and unresponsive pain is significant, to say the least. Modern clinical utilization of topical capsaicin may offer signifi-cant relief for a number of painful conditions including: diabetic neuropathy, cluster headaches, post-amputation pain, post-mastectomy pain, shingles and painful scar tissue.35
In the early spring of 1996, prime time national news show s reported that scientists had found that individuals who had suffered from chronic pain in post-surgical scars (heart bypass, arterial grafts, etc.) were successfully treated with topical preparations containing capsaicin. While this may have been news to many of us, clinical studies had been already published for several years that capsaicin held profound value for various kinds of pain which did not respond to established medical treatments. Typically surgical scars and regions around them can produce persistent pain or can be very sensitive to the touch even when completely healed. This type of pain phenomenon seems to respond well to capsaicin ointments and creams.
When capsaicin preparations were applied following mastectomy or breast reconstruction, pain was significantly relieved. Se veral double blind studies found that using capsaicin creams four times daily for 4 to 6 weeks resulted in much less frequent occurrence of sharp, jabbing pain.3 6 All thirteen patients studied had a 50 percent or greater improve m e n t .3 7 Various unpleasant sensations other than pain also improved with topical applications of capsaicin creams.38
MOUTH SORES FROM RADIATION OR CHEMOTHERAPY
A fascinating study conducted at the Yale Pain Management Center discove red that capsaicin could ve ry significantly lessen pain caused by mouth sores which frequently develop after chemotherapy or radiation.39 Apparently delivering the capsaicin in the form of soft candy (taffy) enabled the substance to be retained in the mouth long enough to desensitize the nerve endings causing the pain. Each one of the eleven case studies re p o rted that their pain had decreased and in two patients, it stopped entirely.40
Diabetic neuropathy is a painful nerve condition which can develop in cases of prolonged diabetes. Several double-blind studies have supported the considerable value of capsaicin creams for relieving the pain associated with this disorder.41 The results of a controlled study using Capsicum for seve re cases of diabetic neuropathy which did not respond to conventional therapy were published in 1992. A cream containing Capsicum was applied to painful areas four time a day and pain was carefully e valuated for 8 weeks at two-week intervals. The results we re impressive, to say the least. In the 22 patients who used the Capsicum the following results we re re c o rded: “Capsaicin tre a tment was more beneficial than vehicle treatment in the overall clinical improvement of pain status, as measured by physician’s global evaluation and by a categorical pain severity scale . . . In a follow-up study, approximately 50 percent of the subjects reported improved pain control or were cured . . .”42 No t e : While there was a burning sensation when the Capsicum c ream was first applied, some subjects found that its magnitude and duration lessened with continued application.43
The FDA has approved capsaicin-based ointments for the treatment of pain that results from diseases like shingles. Again, numerous studies have documented the value of capsaicin for decreasing the miserable nerve-related pain associated with shingles. The general consensus derived from these tests were that approximately 50 p e rcent of people suffering from shingles responded well to capsaicin creams, some even after 10 to 12 months.44
Note: If blisters accompany a shingles outbreak, it is better to wait until they have healed before using any capsaicin-based ointments or creams.
RELIEF FOR BURNING FEET
Frequently an uncomfortable “burning” sensation in the feet will occur in many people, particularly in diabetics. As ironic as it may seem, using capsaicin creams may actually alleviate this burning. “In various studies, diabetics who treated their burning feet with capsaicin got greater improvement and we re able to walk more easily than those not using the cream.”45 In addition, using topical applications of capsaicin as opposed to strong, oral drugs is much more preferable.
Clinical tests have confirmed that topical capsaicin ointments substantially alleviate the miserable pain that characterizes osteoand rheumatoid arthritis.46 These studies revealed that using 0.075 capsaicin cream reduced tenderness and pain.47 Dr. Michael T. Murray writes: “ . . . seventy patients with osteoarthritis and thirty - one with rheumatoid arthritis received capsaicin or placebo for 4 weeks. The patients were instructed to apply 0.025 percent capsaicin cream or its placebo to painful knees four times daily. Significantly more relief of pain was reported by the capsaicin-treated patients than by the placebo patients throughout the study . . .”48 Anyone suffering from osteo or rheumatoid arthritis should evaluate the effectiveness of capsaicin ointments for joint pain. Ester Lipstein-Kresch, M.D., has studied the effectiveness of capsaicin creams for arthritis and has stated: “You need to apply it three or four times a day on the affected area for at least two weeks before you’ll see any improvement. An initial burning sensation at the site is not unusual for the first few days, but this goes away with continued application.”49 Note: Capsaicin is also useful for tennis elbow due to its ability to block the transmission of pain.
MIGRAINE HEADACHES (CLUSTER TYPE)
Topical applications of capsaicin ointments intranasally may also help to relieve the pain of a specific kind of migraine headache called cluster headaches. Cluster headaches are characterized by s e ve re pain which typically radiates around one eye. The term “cluster” refers to the fact that these headaches tend to occur in clusters of one to three per day and can recur at intervals. Headache pain and severity we re reducing in groups using intranasal capsaicin.5 0 This type of capsaicin treatment should be done under a physician’s care. There is some speculation that capsaicin may be more effective in pre venting migraines before they develop into a full blown attack.51
Health Movements - Joining mind and body with healthy movement generates harmony
June 12, 2005 05:49 PM
Health Movements by Sylvia Whitefeather Energy Times, December 6, 2003
Mind/body exercises like yoga (especially the super-popular Bikram variety), tai chi and Pilates aren't just trendy, they're custom made to soothe the rough edges of modern life. So often does today's fast-paced world emphasize the mental and competitive aspects of existence that its inhabitants frequently neglect the necessity of gentle movement for the body. But these exercises are an antidote to the tendency to view the mind and body as separate entities.
Modern science is validating what traditional teachers have always known: The mind dwells in every cell. Joining mind and body with healthy movement generates harmony, lowers your chance of chronic illness and promotes emotional stability.
No one knows when yoga first appeared. Historians and archaeologists figure the practice was initiated in India somewhere between 3,000 and 1,500 BCE. But the father of the modern forms of yoga is considered to be a man named Patanjali, who wrote the Yoga Sutra around 200 CE.
The literal translation of the word yoga is "union." As Jennifer Schwamm Willis notes in her book The Joy of Yoga (Marlowe), this practice represents "the union of body, mind and spirit." The purpose of learning the fundamental movements of yoga is to connect with your body, release knots of tension and improve strength and flexibility. In that way, the physical balance during a yoga session translates into inner balance during times of crisis or distress. Schwamm points out that ancient yoga practitioners believed "the aim of yoga is to quiet the fluctuations of the mind, to create stillness in order to hear one's inner voice..."
Yoga is used by many for stress relief. But it has other important uses: In a study presented by Oregon Health & Science University at the American Academy of Neurology meeting in April 2003, yoga was shown to benefit folks with multiple sclerosis. The researchers found that participants who regularly attended yoga class for six months suffered less fatigue and improved their quality of life.
A yoga class generally begins with warm-up postures, moves on to a core group of basic postures, and ends with poses meant to cool you down. An important aspect of yoga is breath work and control. Movement in and out of poses involves carefully orchestrated breath work. Inhalation and exhalation in timed sync with movement lies at the heart of yoga's benefits. Yoga beginners often feel stiff and inflexible. But with gentle, patient, regular practice, greater flexibility, strength and balance can be had. Experts say that a yoga session does not demand struggle; it asks for surrender. If one pose causes discomfort, try another.
One particular form of yoga, Bikram, is hot in terms of both popularity and room temperature: Not only is it one of the biggest trends in the fitness world, this demanding, aerobic take on yoga is conducted in heated rooms designed to maximize muscle relaxation and minimize injury risk. The heat also helps facilitate cleansing and detoxification. It was created by Bikram Choudhury, a four-time Indian yoga champ who founded the Yoga College of India in Beverly Hills, California.
As in other types of yoga, Bikram uses asanas, or poses, handed down through generations of yoga teachers. In this case, though, 26 asanas are done in a prescribed order over a 90-minute period. Everyone, from novice to expert, works out together, the idea being that each individual is working to stretch his or her own limits by becoming stronger, more flexible and less prone to illness.
Bikram yoga stresses the tourniquet effect, in which blood floods through vessels after they've momentarily been squeezed shut. This pressurizing effect is supposed to flush out debris, quickening circulation and releasing stress. The tourniquet effect also helps cleanse the lymphatic system. Proponents say Bikram improves balance, concentration and posture; increases energy; and eases sleep.
Like any other exercise program, Bikram yoga requires diligence: one center says a minimum of 10 classes over 30 days is needed for maximum benefits. And while hydration is important during all fitness routines, consuming adequate water is crucial when you're exercising in a hot room.
Tai chi (also known as taiji or tai chi ch'uan) consists of a series of fluid movements that build endurance, increase flexibility and balance, and foster alertness of mind and spirit. Tai chi developed around the 13th century as a form of martial arts in China based on the power of flow and grace, rooting and yielding, flexibility and endurance. To the onlooker, a person practicing the movements of tai chi has the quality of someone swimming in air.
This gentle form of movement can be practiced by people of almost all ages and physical conditions. Tai chi does not require special equipment, props or a floor mat. As a non-impact form of exercise, tai chi delivers minimal stress to the joints. Tai chi emphasizes proper body alignment and uses the large muscles in the legs to relieve stress from the hips, back and shoulders. It strengthens joints, increases range of motion and improves circulation of all body fluids. Like many other forms of mind/body exercise, tai chi relieves stress.
Tricia Yu, author of Tai Chi: Mind and Body (DK), has been practicing tai chi for over 30 years. She believes that tai chi not only has benefits as a health exercise, but that it "can have a beneficial effect on your mental and emotional states, as well as help you to feel connected with your surroundings." Yu adds, "Like yoga, tai chi originated in a culture that views the mind and body not as separate but rather as different expressions or states of qi-vital energy or life force."
Current research has validated the health benefits of tai chi. One study found that the knee strength of elderly people practicing tai chi improves significantly (J Gerontol A Biol Med Sci 2003 August; 58:M763-6). Participants in this study, whose average age was 72 years, benefited significantly after five months of tai chi. For the elderly, this extra strength and control translates into fewer falls and injuries.
Tai chi may help immunity. In a study published in the September 2003 issue of Psychosomatic Medicine, researchers reported that elderly folks who participated in a tai chi class for a period of 15 weeks "saw an improvement in factors that suppress shingles [a painful viral condition] increase by 50%." They also showed an increased ability to move throughout the day and a significant improvement in their general health.
Joseph Pilates (1880-1968) was a sickly child afflicted with asthma, rickets and rheumatic fever. Determined to recover his health, Pilates studied both Eastern and Western forms of exercise, incorporating moves from gymnastics, yoga and wrestling, along with controlled breathing. With his wife, Clara, Joseph Pilates developed the form of exercise known today as simply Pilates. In the 1920s, Joseph left his native Germany and came to New York City and began teaching his exercise style in dance studios.
Today, Pilates has gained acceptance both as an exercise style for fitness and as a system for physical rehabilitation. Because of its benefits, Pilates is practiced in hospitals, wellness centers, gyms and specialized Pilates studios. It is used by athletes, dancers and anyone looking to increase endurance and improve flexibility, balance and muscle tone.
The basic principle of Pilates focuses on increasing what is called core strength. Core muscle groups include the abdominal, pelvic floor and back muscles. If these muscle groups are strong, then the body is balanced and strong. The Pilates method also encourages flexibility by building long, strong muscles without bulk.
The Stott method is one of the most popular forms of Pilates. This technique combines traditional Pilates exercises with movements updated to conform with modern knowledge about the biomechanics of the human body. By stabilizing muscles in the pelvis and shoulders, and keeping the spine and pelvis in safe, neutral positions, knowledgeable Pilates instructors minimize the chance of injury during these exercises.
Pilates exercises have been shown to help reduce back pain. Researchers report that "Pilates method can be useful for patients with chronic low back pain and deconditioning" (J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2002 May; 25/4:E3).
According to Ken Endelman, the founder of Balanced Body, maker of Pilates equipment, "Pilates is a full-body exercise. It focuses on flexibility and control, not adding bulk; bulk defeats flexibility. This flexibility is particularly important as we age. Staying flexible is key, and Pilates is good at those types of things."
A Pilates routine can be structured to fit your specific physical needs or goals. Instructors use specially designed equipment along with mat work to improve fitness. The human body was designed to move. Again and again, research shows that exercise maintains health, vitality, longevity, weight and quality of life. If you match your exercise with your physical needs and goals, and your personality, you are more likely to stay with that program whether it is aerobics, walking, Pilates or yoga. For real benefits, physical fitness has to be a lifetime endeavor.