Women's Weight Loss Over 40: Herbal Solutions to Fight Middle-Aged Spread

Nearly everyone faces a disconcerting body thickening and slow rise in weight in their 40s, even people who have always been slim, who eat a healthy diet, and who exercise regularly. In fact, body fat typically doubles between the ages of 20 and 50. Sometimes diet and exercise really isn’t enough! What’s happening to our bodies?

For women, a major calorie-burning process grinds to a halt after menopause. The metabolic rise in the last two weeks of the menstrual cycle accounts for 15,000–20,000 calories per year. Those calories really start to add up when the menstrual cycle stops. Further, women tend to develop more abdominal fat as estrogen levels are reduced. For men, lower testosterone levels caused by andropause leads to a decrease in muscle mass and an increase in fat storage.  Research shows that with age, men burn less fat during exercise, so older men actually need to work out longer to lose weight!

Healthy lifestyle changes are critical to achieve long-term weight loss goals, but it often takes more at mid life. Whole herbs are an ideal choice for weight loss after 40. They are not habit forming like stimulant anti-obesity drugs, and they support natural weight loss processes, like thermogenesis.

Thermogenesis’ Role in Weight Loss Over 40

Thermogenesis is all about fat burning. About 75% of the calories you eat work to keep you alive and support your resting metabolic rate. The balance of calories are stored as white fat, or burned up by brown adipose tissue (brown fat), your body’s premier fat burning factory. The more active your brown fat is, the more efficient your thermogenesis is, and the easier it is to maintain an optimum weight. Differences in brown fat activity explain why some people can overeat and stay slim, while others put on the pounds even though their diet and exercise plan is sound.

Starting in our early 40s, a genetic timer begins to slow down the thermogenic mechanism. Instead of calories being burned off, more of them get stored as white fat, leading to weight gain, especially around the middle. In addition, some people are simply not born with enough brown fat. These people gain more weight at middle age because the little brown fat they do have is reduced even further. Nature in her wisdom provides a solution. You can reactivate your brown fat activity after 40, and using thermogenic herbs is a key.

Fat Burning Herbs: The Good & Bad News

Most of us have heard of the herb, ephedra as a thermogenic aid to stimulate weight loss. Unfortunately, misuse and abuse of ephedra in highly concentrated, chemical ephedrine products has led to cardiovascular side effects and health risks for consumers. Today, ephedra is banned from use in dietary supplements in the U.S. But, ephedra is not the only herb that stimulates brown fat activity. Green tea, mustard seed, cinnamon and ginger are a few other thermogenic herbs that you can use without the side effects or health risks.

As a traditional herbalist, I only formulate with whole herbs, because they are much less likely to produce side effects or interactions than standardized herbs or highly concentrated herbs. Further, whole herbs in combination offer the advantage of addressing multiple body systems and needs. For “after 40” weight loss concerns, I combine thermogenic whole herbs with herbs that control appetite and sugar cravings, and herbs that relieve bloating. Whole herbs support the whole person.

Losing weight at mid life does present new challenges, but once the body adjusts to its new hormone levels, weight gain stabilizes, and becomes more manageable. Whole herbs can help you get over an “after 40” weight loss plateau, and have the added benefits of improving body chemistry and reestablishing better metabolic rates.

To Life-long health,

Linda Page

A Definitive Guide for the Sciatica Treatment by guest blogger Daniel Clark

Are you going through any kind of pain in the lower back and gluteal region? If yes, then you might be suffering from Sciatica problem. In Sciatica, the pain caused in the lower back and gluteal region radiates down through one or both legs that passes through the thigh, calf, ankle and foot. In fact, the genuine sciatica occurs when the pain travels below the knee.

Causes: The main cause of sciatica problem is due to the sciatica nerve compression. The most common disorders resulting in sciatic nerve pain include lumbar spine subluxations or the misaligned vertebral bodies, tumors, the herniated or bulging discs or the slipped discs, pregnancy and childbirth as well as non-spinal disorders that include constipation, diabetes or just sitting on one’s back pocket wallet. Another common cause of sciatica is the Piriformis syndrome that is located in the lower part of the spine which connects to the thighbone while assisting in the hip rotation. Usually, the sciatic nerve runs beneath the Piriformis muscle that is susceptible to the injury from a slip and fall, hip arthritis or by the difference in leg length. These situations could cause cramping as well as spasm in developing the Piriformis muscle while pinching the sciatic nerve while causing inflammation and pain.

Treatment: There are different types of treatment to get relieved from sciatica. Let us have a look at that:

l Drugs/Medications: The severity of the pain generally determines the treatment of sciatic pain. The doctors could prescribe certain medications or the spinal injections for treating sciatica. The most possible prescriptions could be:

·      Epidural Steroid Injections: The steroids that could reduce inflammation could help ease for the sciatic pain. With the help of an epidural steroid injection, one could get a corticosteroid medicine that is injected near the spinal nerve roots that reduces the pain for several months.

·      Over-the-counter NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs): These could help reduce the swelling while relieving the pain; the doctors could suggest plenty of options to counter NSAID by using ibuprofen (Advil) or naproxen (Aleve). 

·      Prescription Medications: If one is suffering through chronic sciatica, the muscle relaxant sciatica treatment could help ease the muscle spasms. Other anti-depressant drugs can also be used among which some of them increase the body’s production of endorphins, a natural pain killer.

 

l Physical Therapy: The possible physical therapy treatments for sciatica are as follows:

·      Deep tissue massage: Through this technique, the chronic muscle tension is being targeted that results in pressing the sciatic nerve or its related nerve roots.

·      TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation): In this therapy, the machine stimulates the muscles through variable intensities of the electrical current. TENS ultimately helps in reducing muscle spasms while increasing the body’s production of endorphins. 

·      Hot and cold therapies: In heat therapy, the physical therapist looks for to get more blood to the targeted area as increased blood flow could bring more oxygen and nutrients to that area. On the contrary, the cold therapy slows down the circulation that helps in reducing inflammation, pain as well as muscle spasms. 

·      Ultrasound: The ultrasound sends the sound waves deep into the muscle tissues while creating a gentle heat that enhances the circulation and helps in speed healing.

l Surgical Treatment:

·      Disectomy or Microdisectomy: In this treatment, the surgeon removes all or part of a herniated disc that is pushing the sciatic nerve and causing the sciatica symptoms. 

·      Laminectomy or Laminotomy: In this treatment, the spinal cord and the part of the spine called the lamina is involved. The lamina is being removed from the body which is a bony plate that protects spinal canal. These procedures have tendency for creating extra space for the nerves by reducing the probability of the nerves to get compressed or pinched.

Other possible treatments of sciatica are through acupuncture, acupressure, biofeedback as well as yoga too. The chiropractic treatment can also be used while looking for best sciatica treatment. Thus, these were some of the causes and the related treatments of sciatica.

Daniel Clark is a medical expert and working in the medical field for several years as well as professional blogger too. He likes to share his recent researches on different medical conditions with his viewers. Here he is sharing different causes and treatments of sciatica.



Posted on February 24, 2015 .

What do we know about women’s heart disease risk?

Every year, over half a million American women die from cardiovascular disease, accounting for more than 54%, over half, of all female deaths!  42 million women in the US are living with heart disease now. Even more frightening, new studies reveal women receive less medical treatment despite having more cardiac symptoms and poorer health than men.

 Heart disease for women is often linked to high cholesterol, high blood pressure, weight issues or too little exercise. It is also clearly hormone-related. There is no time that a woman’s risk for heart disease is higher than menopause. Risk for heart disease rises as women approach menopause and continues to rise with age. Because of this, hundreds of thousands of new, prophylactic, hormone replacement therapy prescriptions were written this year by doctors trying to protect menopausal women from heart disease.

Yet, the use of hormone replacement therapy or ERT to protect against heart disease is highly debatable. There is also no conclusive evidence that estrogen protects against heart disease.

In fact, one review presented at the International Meeting on Atherosclerosis in Paris concludes that the heart protective benefits attributed to estrogen may result from population selection bias or even changes towards healthier lifestyles during the course of the studies.

In addition, new studies find hormone replacement therapy does not prevent heart attack or death for women who already have the disease.

I don’t think hormone replacement therapy, with its links to uterine and breast cancer, should even be considered as a long-term preventive for heart disease. I think there are better solutions for preventing heart disease naturally that don’t carry these risks.

If you’re thinking about beginning hormone replacement therapy to prevent heart disease, here are new facts you need to know.

•Many Hormone Replacement drugs actually suppress folic acid, contributing to high homocysteine levels, a known risk factor for heart disease.

•Tests with some estrogen contraceptive pills actually increase a woman’s risk of heart disease, heart attack, stroke and serious blood clotting problems.

 • Some reports suggest that SERMs  (selective estrogen receptor modulators) may protect against heart disease.  SERM drugs should not be taken by women with a history of congestive heart failure. SERMs may increase risk of serious blood clots in the legs, lungs or eyes, particularly if you’re sedentary for long periods of time.

 What Are The Biggest Heart Problems For Women?

 A heart attack is especially serious for a woman. Statistics show that a woman is 50% MORE likely to die from a heart attack than a man!  Women have heart attacks at older ages when they are in poorer health than men. In addition, female arteries are less able to compensate for the partial death of heart muscle caused by a heart attack, so a second heart attack is even more dangerous for women.  Heart attack symptoms are also different- Women are less likely to have intense chest pains during a heart attack. (This is why researchers believe they are more reluctant to seek treatment.) Heart attack symptoms women should watch for include shortness of breath, fatigue, even back pain.

Congestive Heart Failure is another big problem for menopausal women. Over two million women alive today have CHF. Congestive heart failure occurs when the heart is unable to efficiently pump blood. In people with CHF, risk for sudden cardiac death is 6-9 times higher than the general population! High iron stores after menopause may put a women at risk.  Symptoms to watch for include extreme fatigue and water retention (particularly bloated ankles).

What about High Blood Pressure in Women?

Many people mistakenly believe that high blood pressure, also called HBP or hypertension, is more common among men. The truth is HBP is an equal opportunity disease. Beginning at age 65, after the onset of menopause, women are actually more likely to have this disease than men.
While HBP isn't directly related to gender, certain woman's issues can increase your risk. Birth control pills may increase your risk as well as your family history stress and lifestyle.

 Can herbs help support your heart?

It is important to note that an herb is never one thing for one thing. Herbs are complex living foods working with multiple body systems as balancers and normalizers. They often work best in combination. Herbs work with other herbs with amazing synergy, aiding the healing process gently but effectively for the best results.  


Posted on February 23, 2015 .

Everything You Want To Know About Sebaceous Cysts by guest blogger Daniel Clark

What are sebaceous cysts?

A sebaceous cyst is a bump that develops under the human skin. They are also known as keratin cyst or epidermoid cyst. They develop and after few days vanish by themselves. Sebaceous cysts are caused due to blockage of sebaceous gland by a protein called keratin. Sebaceous cysts can sometimes have a pungent odor as they contain yellow clear oily liquid. They may occur all over our body, except soles of palm and feet. Sebaceous cysts mostly occur on head, back, breast and face. They vary in size and are mostly not harmful and are non cancerous. They appear as a result of swollen hair follicle. There are many methods of sebaceous cysts treatment. However, you must know what are the causes sebaceous cysts.

Causes of sebaceous cysts

Cysts are non cancerous swelling on the skin that are caused due to several abnormalities in the body. Some causes for sebaceous cysts are as follows:

Ø Blocked oil or sebaceous glands

Ø Excessive production of testosterone

Ø Swelling of hair follicles

Ø Increased production of sebum on skin surface

Ø Trauma to Skin

Ø Over exposure to the sun

Ø A person having history of acne is likely to develop sebaceous cysts.

Ø Repetitive waxing and shaving

Symptoms

Some of the symptoms when a person suffers from sebaceous cysts are as follows:

Ø Reddening of skin

Ø Sore skin

Ø The infected area gets warm

Ø Foul smelling material develops inside the cysts

Ø Bumps arise underneath the skin

Ø Cyst develops to nearly 2 inches in diameter

How to prevent sebaceous cyst?

Sebaceous cysts can be easily prevented by following these simple tips:

Ø You can use a topical cream to reduce the risk of infection.

Ø You can use some medicinal herbs to boost immune system

Ø Purify your blood by consuming herbs, dandelion, garlic etc.

Ø Take a diet that is rich in vitamins

Ø Drink plenty of water

Ø If cysts appear, do not scratch them. Let them drain naturally. Wash and clean the surrounding area with dettol or anti bacterial soap.

Ø If the cysts become painful, then you can visit a dermatologist.

Ø Consume more quantity of citrus fruits, anti oxidants, fruits and leafy vegetables.

Treatment

If the cysts do not rupture or you have excessive pain, then you can visit a dermatologist. Some of the treatments options are as given below

Incision and drainage

The doctor makes a minute cut in the cyst and then squeezes out the liquid contents from inside the cyst. This is a quick method to treat the cysts; however it might re appear after few days

Injection

It involves injecting cyst with a medicine that will reduce the swelling and inflammation.

Surgery

If the cyst gets enlarged, then it is better to surgically remove it. You may need to visit the doctor to remove your stitches. Minor surgery is more effective as it prevents risk of cyst re appearance. If the cyst is too much inflamed then doctor can delay the surgery.

Laser treatment

This method involves use of carbon dioxide laser to vaporize the cyst. It can lead to minimal scarring.

Author bio

Daniel is a well known dermatologist and has conducted many sebaceous gland cyst treatments. He likes to impart knowledge on various scientific topics. In the above post, he is giving information of causes and treatments of sebaceous cysts.

 

 

Posted on February 11, 2015 .

Herbs to Deep Clean Your Liver

Herbs, as healing foods, are ideal for liver cleansing. Many herbs have tonic, balancing qualities that make them ideal for use as needed or long term if necessary. Herbs are also rich in vital nutrients, and many boost bile production and lymphatic cleansing (tied into liver health ).

Did you know? Liver health is a key to lymphatic health. The liver produces the majority of lymph, and lymph is a major route for nutrients from the liver.

Note: Some types of liver issues, like hepatitis or cirrhosis require a diligent, long term approach. Medical measures may be necessary, but most physicians in the know today recognize the benefit of using self, gentle herbs like milk thistle seed extract to support healthy liver activity.

How can Herbs Deep Clean Your Liver?

A study in Alternative Therapies in Health & Medicine shows that 25 otherwise healthy people who followed a liver cleanse for just 7 days showed 23% improvement in their liver’s detox capability

Milk thistle seed extract is found in clinical studies to help prevent liver damage from alcohol and to regenerate damaged liver tissue.

Dandelion rt. and leaf help cleanse and flush the liver, and are widely used with good results by herbalists for liver support.

Yellow dock and Oregon grape stimulate bile flow, clear blood toxins and restore immune defenses.

Liver cleansing herbs are especially good for people who want a quick cleanse to boost digestion and weight loss. Liver cleansing herbs can also be used for health maintenance, to keep the body working at its peak.

For a complete liver detoxification program, please see pg. 211-213 of Linda Page’s Healthy Healing 14th Edition: A Guide to Self-Healing For Everyone. Also see separate entries for cirrhosis and hepatitis in the index.







Posted on January 26, 2015 .

Natural Therapy for Parasites

wanted-worm-resized-600

Nutritional therapy plan: A strong immune system is the best defense for parasites, many of which have become drug-resistant - low nutrition = low immunity. 1. Go on an apple and apple juice mono diet for 4 days. (1 day for a child). Take 8 garlic caps daily during the fast and chew fresh mango or papaya seeds mixed with honey. On the 3rd day, add papaya juice with 1 tbsp. wormwood tea, and 1 tbsp. molasses. On the 4th day, add 2 cups senna/peppermint tea with 1 tbsp. castor oil, and eat raw pumpkin seeds every 4 hours. Follow with a high resistance diet to prevent recurrence. Eat lots of onions and garlic. Avoid all sweets, dairy foods and junk foods. 3 tbsp. amaranth or rice each morning helps remove parasites. Eat a daily green salad. Drink only bottled water. Take Pure Planet Chlorella, 2 tsp. daily. Garlic enemas or a high colonic irrigation helps clean the colon fast and address fungal infections, or yeast overgrowth conditions.

Are you at risk for parasites? Nationwide research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control over the last 25 years reveals that one in every six people selected at random had one or more parasites. Most kissed and slept with their pets. Many frequently ate raw or smoked fish, or prosciutto or homemade sausages. (Note: Use toilet seat covers in public restrooms.)

Choose 2-3 herbal recommendations:

Parasite cleanse:Parasite Purge caps, or 8 • Cayenne/Garlic capsules, after every meal for 2 weeks, and 4 cups fennel tea daily. (Or take garlic oil capsules in the morning. Refrain from eating or drinking until bowels have moved. Repeat for 3 days.) Then keep intestines cleansed and flushed with •  Ayruvedic Triphala caps.

Anti-Bio caps 4 daily for lymph support; • Black walnut hulls or • Myrrh extract; • Una da gato caps 6 daily for a month

Bodywork: A purged stool test is helpful for diagnosing parasitic infections.

Deep Clean Your Liver

Healthy Healing Liver Detox

—For three days:

On rising: squeeze 1 lemon in a glass of water; or mix 2 tbsp. lemon juice in water and drink down. My choice: I add about 10-15 drops of herbal bitters like gentian and Oregon grape to the lemon water. It alkalizes the body, promoting an environment ideal for healing, and also reduces digestive problems.  
—Breakfast: have a glass of carrot/beet/cucumber juice; or organic apple juice. Enjoy a bowl of miso soup with sea veggies sprinkled on top.
—Mid-morning: have a glass of vegetable juice; or mix a green superfood powder like spirulina, barley grass or chlorella into water or vegetable juice.    
—Lunch: have a glass of carrot juice; or a glass of organic apple juice.
—Mid-afternoon: have a cup of peppermint tea; pau d’arco tea; or roasted dandelion root tea.     
—Dinner: have a small dinner of brown rice and steamed organic veggies. Have a glass of mixed vegetable juice or carrot juice.     
—Before Bed: have another glass of lemon juice in water; or have pineapple/papaya juice with 1 tsp. royal jelly.

Note: Keeping fat intake low is crucial to liver regeneration and vitality. Beets, artichokes, radishes and dandelions are good liver foods because they promote the flow of bile, the major pathway for chemical release from the liver. A permanent diet for liver health should be lacto-vegetarian, low in fats, rich in vegetable proteins, with plenty of vitamin C foods for good iron absorption. A complete liver renewal program can take from 3 to 6 months… it’s worth it.

An herbal Liver Renew formula can accelerate your cleansing results and give the liver the extra TLC it needs. Liver cleansing herb formulas have been used successfully and safety for many many years.

 

Posted on January 12, 2015 .

Importance of Liver Cleansing

Your life depends on your liver. To a large extent, the health of your liver determines the health of your entire body. The liver is really a wonderful chemical plant that converts everything we eat, breathe and absorb through the skin into life-sustaining substances. The liver is a major blood reservoir, forming and storing red blood cells, and filtering toxins at a rate of a quart of blood per minute. It manufactures natural antihistamines to keep immune response high.

More than any other organ, the liver enables us to benefit from the food we eat. Without the liver, digestion would be impossible,the conversion of food into living energy nonexistent. The liver is the primary metabolic organ for proteins, fats and carbohydrates. It synthesizes and secretes bile, the substance that insures good food assimilation, and is critical to excreting toxic material from the gastrointestinal tract.  Blood flows directly from the intestinal tract to the liver, where it deals with food toxins before they are delivered into our blood. Blood keeps returning to the liver, processing toxins again and again through the lymph system until they are excreted by the bile or kidneys.

Liver congestion and exhaustion interfere with these vital functions. Unfortunately, since the common American diet is high in calories, fats, sugars and alcohol, with unknown amounts of toxins from preservatives, pesticides and nitrates, almost everybody has liver malfunction to some extent. Health problems occur after many years of abuse, when the liver is so exhausted it loses the ability to detoxify itself. Still, your liver has amazing rejuvenative powers, continuing to function when as many as 80% of its cells are damaged. More remarkable, the liver can regenerate its own damaged tissue, so that even in life-threatening situations, like cirrhosis, hepatitis, acute gallstone attacks, mononucleosis or pernicious anemia, the liver can regenerate, and major surgery or even death averted. You can help your liver take a “deep cleansing breath”… something I’ve found you can almost feel as its amazing powers of recovery begin to flow.

A liver detox is the first vital step for the body to begin to heal itself. Gland function and digestion improve right away. You will notice this — fewer cases of swollen glands during cold and flu season, and less lower back fatigue (adrenal swelling). Weight and cellulite control problems often resolve, especially if you’ve had unusual stomach distension, a clear sign of a swollen liver. Food cravings are often reduced. Women notice that PMS and other menstrual difficulties like endometriosis are far less severe because the liver metabolizes excess hormones.  Brown skin spots and spots before the eyes (signs that the liver is congested and eliminating poisons by other body avenues) may begin to fade.

Posted on January 12, 2015 .

January Herb of the Month- Milk Thistle Seed Extract

MILK THISTLE SEED EXTRACT: Silybum marianum (carduus marianus) - our Lady’s thistle

For over 2000 years milk thistle seed has been the herb of choice by both Ancient and modern herbalists for liver support and detoxification. It was used as both a food and a medicine by ancient people, although modern use is limited to the seeds. Milk thistle seed has excellent antioxidant properties, and is found to help the body produce SOD (superoxide dismutase). It combines well with burdock, dandelion and bupleurum for overall liver support.
Part used: seed. Effective forms: extract, capsules.
Therapeutic profile: a bitter, tonifying, detoxifying herb for the liver and gallbladder.
Primary uses: as a specific in a liver regeneration and suppor combination, particularly to increase the secretion and flow of bile from liver and gallbladder.
Secondary uses: as a liver protective when recovering from excess alcohol or dietary abuse, or from exposure to environmental pollutants that threaten liver health.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on January 12, 2015 .

Better Cold Care and Immunity

Tips to better immune response and cold care:

  1. A daily walk revs up immune response and gives you some fresh air. It works wonders!
  2. Stimulate immunity with early morning sunlight every day. Avoid excessive sun. A sunburn depresses immunity.
  3. If you feel a cold coming on, take ascorbate vitamin C or Ester C, 1000mg every hour, preferably in powder form with juice, throughout the day. Take zinc lozenges as needed, or Propolis Throat spray.
  4.  Wash hands and clean counter tops frequently to prevent virus spread.
  5. Don’t smoke or drink alcohol. Avoid sugary foods, fried foods, and dairy foods. They reduce immune response and increase production of thick mucous.
  6. Relaxation techniques are immune-enhancers. A positive mental attitude makes a big difference in how your body fights disease. Creative visualization establishes belief and optimism. Biofeedback or massage therapy reduce stress.
  7. Immune power builds the most during sleep. Use aromatherapy immune oils like lavender or rosemary oil before bed.
  8. Already sick? Drink plenty of liquids; 6-8 glasses daily of fresh fruit and vegetable juices, herb teas and water to help flush toxins through and out of your system.  



Posted on December 16, 2014 .

Bodywork and Lifestyle for a Better Mood

Lifestyle watchwords: Combat depression in your daily life habits

•    Ask your doctor about hypnotherapy, biofeedback or acupuncture… relaxation techniques with success in overcoming chronic moodiness and mild depression.

Bodywork support:
•    Exercise anxiety away. It’s an anti-depressant nutrient in itself. Give your body plenty of oxygen. Deep brain breathing exercises are one of the best things I know for depression and fear. (Paul Bragg’s BRAIN BREATHING book for technique).
•    Depression increases risk of osteoporosis. Get some daily sunlight on the body for vitamin D, a natural serotonin boost.
•    Yoga stretches and regular massage help clear the mind.
•    Acupuncture banishes the blues in 90% of women by increasing their brain endorphins.
•    Aromatherapy helps: Try essential oils of jasmine, geranium, rosemary and basil.
Spiritual support:
•    Strengthening your spirituality in this time of need offers incredibly calming stability and allays fear when anxiety is at its depths.

Posted on December 9, 2014 .

Herbs for the Nervous System and a Happy Mood

Herbal categories to consider for your nervous system and a happy mood:

Note: Avoid kava kava when drinking alcohol. Avoid St. John’s wort if you’re taking anti-depressants or other prescription drugs. Speak to your doctor if you are unsure.

Serotonin balancers/Mood lifters:
St. John’s wort: balances serotonin and acts a natural mood elevator.
Albizzia: called the “tree of collective happiness” by the Chinese. Reduces PMS-related sadness.
Black cohosh: highly recommended for menopausal blues. Some herbalists reports that black cohosh is best for situations where the person feels “enveloped by a dark cloud.”
Rhodiola rosea: a classic adaptogen that helps the body resist the effects of stress. An herb to combat fatigue and apathy.
Green and white tea: theanine in green and white tea helps promote calm, focused energy. Japanese research shows l-theanine can cross the blood-brain barrier and stimulate production of alpha waves, known to promote relaxation. (This can produce a similar effect as taking a hot bath or getting a massage, but without the drowsiness.)  
Lemon balm: a gentle mood elevator. High in volatile oils. Calms stressed nerves.
Maca: a good source of iodine for the thyroid. Energizes, improves mood and libido.
Reishi mushroom: Calms the shen (mind) in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Increases calm focus and mental inner energy.
Kava kava: relieves stress without causing over-sedation.
 

Essential fatty acid sources: Omega 3 fatty acids have been found in studies to help mood.
Flax seed: high in Omega 3 fatty acids that support proper brain health. Small trials show people who are given 3 tbsp. of flax seed oil daily have increased energy, sleep better, and are less depressed and anxious.
Borage: high in minerals and gamma linoleic acid (GLA). A good energy tonic .
Hemp: contains an ideal ratio ( 3:1 ) of omega 6 to omega 3 essential fatty acids. Not psychoactive like marijuana.
Evening Primrose: high in gamma linoleic acid (GLA). A good choice for hormone-related mood issues in women.
Kelp/sea vegetables: A source of Omega 3 fatty acids for mood, and healthy skin, hair and nails.

Herbal Nervines
Oatstraw: high calcium and magnesium source to support the nerves.
Hops: mild relaxing qualities. Relieves irritability and sleeplessness.
California poppy: combats insomnia. Often works when other herbs fail.
Valerian: reduces anxiety and supports restful sleep.
Scullcap: an excellent nervine, especially for poor sleep and stress related complaints.
Wood betony: good for stress-related headache and irritability.
Zizyphus: widely used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for nervous exhaustion. Contains vitamin C for adrenal gland nutrition. Supports sound sleep.

Supports nervous system health. Eases stress.

Supports nervous system health. Eases stress.

Anti-Stress Adaptogens
Ashwagandha: chief tonic of Ayurveda for weakness and fatigue. Specifically helps  daytime fatigue with nighttime sleeplessness.
Panax ginseng: combats stress reactions; boosts mental and physical performance; a primary qi tonic in TCM for rebuilding vital energy and strength.
American ginseng: similar as Panax ginseng, but more cooling properties, especially helpful for reducing stress and anxiety during menopause.  
Siberian eleuthero: not a true ginseng, but very similar properties. Russian research shows enhanced work performance for workers who take Eleuthero.
Rhodiola rosea: increases resistance to environmental stressors (animal tests); fights fatigue.
Jiaogulan: supports immune defenses; combats stress, irritability and moodiness.
Ho Shou wu: a primary adaptogen, especially for older men and women with chronic stress.

 

 

 

Posted on December 9, 2014 .

Do you have S.A.D.? An excerpt from Healthy Healing 14th Edition

S.A.D. makes people sad. Wintertime means depression for 35 million Americans. S.A.D.  symptoms manifest after the autumn equinox as sunlight hours lessen. Unusual appetite and low energy aspects of S.A.D. show our ancient ties to seasonal rhythms as they affect our behavior. Over 80% of people affected are women (experts think women produce less serotonin, a mood enhancing brain chemical, than men). Work productivity noticeably declines; relationships suffer. S.A.D. disorder is latitudinal - in Mexico, Florida and Texas, only 1.4% of the population suffers from S.A.D. In Canada, over 17% of the population suffer from acute S.A.D. In the Northeast U.S., up to 50% of people have noticeable winter mood shifts.

Do you have winter S.A.D.?  • Do you: oversleep or struggle to get out of bed, even if you get enough sleep?  feel lethargic or have poor concentration during the day?  suffer from eyestrain or headaches?  feel overwhelmed by simple tasks?  have unusually strong cravings for sweets or carbs?  gain weight in the winter (up to 10-15 lbs.), even if your diet hasn’t really changed?  feel more anxious, or low-energy? Do short periods of sunlight lift your spirits?  Do you experience a “summer high” where you feel elated and full of energy? What causes S.A.D.? Not enough full spectrum light in winter months (the pineal gland doesn’t get enough light to stop secreting melatonin), hormone and body rhythm imbalance.

Diet Therapy

sadface

1.  Conscious diet improvement is the key to reducing S.A.D. symptoms. A diet for hypoglycemia has been effective, low in fats and sugars. Make sure your diet is balanced, with natural foods, rich in complex carbohydrates, (to shift the distribution of amino acids in the blood). Add spirulina, with B-complex 100mg to balance sugar use.
2.    Include B-vitamin and mineral-rich foods, like brown rice and fresh vegetables. Whole grains, legumes and soy products help control sugar cravings. Take Nutritional Yeast as a source of B vitamins and chromium.
3.    Eat more vitamin D-rich foods: eggs, fish, seafoods and sea veggies (2 tbsp. chopped dry seaweeds or 6 pieces of sushi a week). Vegans may be at a higher risk since they don’t eat serotonin-enhancing foods like poultry, dairy foods and eggs.

Lifestyle measures:

•    Light therapy is a widely accepted treatment for S.A.D., more effective than antidepressant drugs. Try to get 20 to 30 minutes of early morning sunshine to balance your serotonin levels. Otherwise, be aware that indoor or fluorescent light is not effective. Only full-spectrum light shuts off melatonin secretion to reduce S.A.D. symptoms. Exposure for 2 to 3 hours of light therapy offers up to 60% reduction in symptoms in 1 week.
•    Though not approved by the FDA light boxes have shown definite effectiveness, if used from mid-fall until spring. Depression typically begins to lift a week after “photo-therapy” begins. Consider Environmental Lighting Concepts Ott-Lite.

Herb & Supplement Choices (choose 2-3)

1. Ease symptoms: • SAMe 400mg daily; • Depress-ex (Sunny Mood) caps  with • St. John’s wort extract and Lemon Balm tea through the winter.
2. Normalizers: • Relax Caps or • St. John’s wort extract. • Gotu kola helps restore nerves to overcome mental dullness.
3.   Vitamin D is a key: Take natural • vitamin D 400 to 1000IU daily all during the winter; or • Now Foods A & D 25,000/1,000IU.



Posted on December 4, 2014 .

Do you have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

fatigue

Chronic fatigue and immune dysfunction syndrome (CFIDS) is sometimes referred to as a condition without a cause. Today, we know the opposite is true. There are a wealth of causes. Experts say CFIDS is a result of mixed infections with a wide group of viruses involved… among the most common, Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), herpes simplex viruses (genital, oral and herpes virus 6, which causes childhood roseola), and cytomegalovirus (CMV) are clearly implicated.

Environmental contaminants can contribute by lowering immune response, allowing CFIDS a path to develop through exhausted adrenal glands. Growing evidence points to high stress lifestyles, overwork and a degenerative imbalance in the endocrine/metabolic systems.

Latest estimates reveal that between 800,000 to 2 million Americans are struggling with chronic fatigue syndrome right now. Over 85% of CFS victims are women, usually between 30 and 50, most are outgoing, productive, independent, active, overachievers. Women under 45 are at the highest risk. Clearly it seems, today’s overworked, overstressed “superwomen” are paying the price of their hectic lifestyles in terms of health.  

Energy Renewing Diet for CFS

 1.  Keep the diet at least 50% fresh foods during intensive healing. Emphasize foods that build immunity. Include often: Defense foods: white and green tea, cruciferous vegetables; Antibody forming foods: shiitake mushrooms, onions and garlic; Oxygenating foods: wheat germ, spirulina, sea veggies; Mineral-rich, B-complex foods: seaweeds, brown rice, dark greens; High fiber foods: prunes and brans; Cultured foods: fermented soy foods like miso, raw sauerkraut; Protein foods: seafoods, nuts, seeds and whole grains.
2.   Avoid allergen-prone, body-stressing foods: junk and fast foods, caffeine, refined sugars, alcohol, dairy, gluten and chemicals.
3.    Immune defense cells are created in bone marrow. Take a dairy-free protein drink every morning to keep new cell development strong.
4.    Add green superfoods to your daily diet: barley grass, green kamut , spirulina, chlorella.
5.  Add 2 tbsp. sea veggies daily. They speed healing by combating hypothyroidism, improving gland and metabolism balance.

Lifestyle and Fitness Tips

Take a daily deep-breathing walk for oxygen uptake. Walk for a half hour to stimulate lymphatic system and cerebral circulation. Highly recommended: Yoga and swimming.

Get 20 minutes early morning sunlight on your body every day possible for vitamin D.

Relax. An optimistic mental attitude and frame of mind help release body stress, a big factor in immune response. Stimulating immune response itself has an anti-viral effect.

 

 

 

 

Posted on October 28, 2014 .

High Energy Diet

There’s no doubt about it - stress and fatigue are becoming more a part of our lives - eight out of ten Americans say they feel tired on a regular basis. Some of us feel tired most of the time. Many of us don’t have enough energy for our daily tasks. Almost all of us feel the need for a pick-me-up during a long day. Yet, turning to drugs or controlled substances for stimulation is asking for trouble. Overusing stimulants means dependency, irritability and lethargy, further reducing energy creating a downward spiral. Even traditional food stimulants like caffeine, sodas or sugar usually end up making us feel more nervous and more restless. Natural energizers have great advantages over chemically processed stimulants. They don’t exhaust the body, and are supporting rather than depleting. They can be strong or gentle as needed.

energydiet

Nutritional therapy plan:
1.    Your high energy diet should consist of 65-70% complex carbohydrates (fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes); 20-25% protein, (nuts, seeds, whole grains, legumes, soy, yogurt and kefir, seafoods and poultry); 10-15% fats (unrefined vegetable, nut and seed oils, avocado, eggs and seafood). Don’t skip meals.
2.    Keep your metabolism high, and your blood sugar levels up with healthy snack meals instead of 3 big meals a day.
3.    Reduce sugar, caffeine (drains adrenals), and fatty dairy foods (produce clogging mucous). Take this 24 hour sugar test to see if your energy increases: Swear off sweets for 24 hours (have a high fiber whole grain bar instead when you crave sugar). Most people notice an energy boost the next day - without the let down feeling after 2 o’clock.
4.    Take a protein drink every morning, like Whey or Hemp Protein. Add spirulina or bee pollen granule as a booster. Protein’s amino acids boost alertness.
5.    Keep your iron up - low iron, low energy. Oatmeal, walnuts, eggs, black bean soup, pumpkin, and sunflower seeds (good for B-vitamins, too).
6.    Drink plenty of healthy liquids. Dehydration’s first sign is fatigue.

 

Posted on October 27, 2014 .

About Breast Thermography

Is Thermography A Good Choice? 
FDA approved in 1982, thermography is a highly advanced health scanning technique that offers breast cancer screening without the drawbacks of mammogram radiation. Over 12,000 articles detail its use. Angiogenesis (new blood vessel growth produced by tumors) generates abnormal heat in the area of a tumor.

Thermography takes precise measurements of skin surface temperature to detect breast cancer, finding abnormalities in breast tissue. It can also reveal the state of body organs, determine if imbalances are present and what might be causing them. Experts say it could reveal an organ or system susceptible to tumors before there are even signs on an X-ray or CT scan.

Some doctors suggest using thermography in conjunction with traditional breast cancer mammograms. But, for women who don't do mammograms, thermography offers a non-invasive technique to get information on their breast health. To find a skilled thermography practitioner, visit http://www.iact-org.org/links.html on the web.

DISCLAIMER

The opinions in this newsletter are intended solely for informational and educational purposes and not as medical advice. The statements in this newsletter have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please consult a medical professional if you have questions about your medical health.

breasthealth.jpg





Posted on October 16, 2014 .

The Race to Fight Aging: Part 2. Insulin Resistance & Immune Breakdown

Having diabetes is a major factor in premature aging. Many experts now consider obesity and diabetes to be forms of accelerated aging.

Type 2 diabetes has reached epidemic levels in America. The rates of diabetes have doubled just in the last three decades! Today, 17 million people suffer from diabetes. Many more people have the disease, but don’t know it. Type 2 diabetes cases are even rising among young adults and children. In type 2 diabetes, the most common type, the pancreas is unable to use insulin properly (insulin resistance) or has too little insulin, the hormone that allows sugar to be stored or used for energy.

  Diabetes is really a vicious cycle where poor fat and sugar metabolism lead to obesity… which then leads to diabetes. The cycle keeps going. Diabetes makes you more hungry, so its symptoms are aggravated as well as brought on by eating too much fat and too many sugary foods.

Complications from diabetes are the fourth leading cause of death by disease in the world today. Heart disease, high blood pressure, retinopathy (loss of vision), nerve damage, kidney problems, arteriosclerosis, and circulatory problems are all major problems that face diabetics.

 But there is a lot of hope. While some cases need to be managed medically, many type 2 diabetics can balance their blood sugar simply by following a low glycemic, low fat diet and getting regular exercise.

What are diabetes risk factors?

People with a family history of the disease (particularly African Americans), who are overweight, or who get little or no exercise are at the highest risk. Clearly, a diet high in refined sugar and refined carbohydrates is another major factor.

Here are the latest statistics: Sugar has become an entire food group, counting for an astounding 20% of total daily calories for adult Americans! But a high sugar diet overworks, then damages the pancreas, so your body can’t produce or correctly use insulin. As refined carbohydrates and sugars cease to be metabolized, they accumulate in the body and are stored as fat. Excess body fat and lack of exercise then bring on insulin resistance.

Do you have high blood sugar warning signs? Common symptoms include:

—extreme thirst with frequent urination

—slow healing cuts and wounds; chronic infections

—recent weight loss or weight gain without diet changes

—severe, unexplained fatigue

—blurry vision

 If you have any of these warning symptoms, make sure to get medical advice. Diabetes can be serious! Testing your blood sugar when you get up in the morning can provide some helpful clues. Home blood glucose monitoring kits are available from most pharmacies.

How is type 1 diabetes different?  Type 1 diabetes is a juvenile, autoimmune condition where the body destroys its own insulin-producing cells. Today scientists are working with Islet-cell transplants as a possible cure with some success. Although diet therapy is helpful to manage reactions, type 1 diabetes is a chronic problem that is almost entirely dependent on insulin to sustain life.

What about metabolic syndrome or “Syndrome X”? Is it the future of Diabetes? 

  Metabolic syndrome is estimated to affect up to 95 million Americans - It is one of the most serious health threats in the modern world! It’s a complex condition, but the common denominator is insulin resistance; People with metabolic syndrome always have either pre-diabetes, or diabetes. In fact, in metabolic syndrome, blood sugar levels soar out of control, setting off a damaging free radical cascade, inflammation, accelerated aging and a variety of metabolic problems.

  Metabolic syndrome often goes undetected by doctors for years, because its complications are so varied. In women, gland problems like infertility, polycystic ovary syndrome and irregular menstruation often result.

 Insulin resistance damages the cardiovascular system and blood vessels. High blood pressure is a common result, so people with metabolic syndrome have very high risk of heart attack, stroke and coronary heart disease.

Excess insulin also provokes the liver to make more cholesterol, dump more fats into the bloodstream, and allow more fat storage, reasons why people with metabolic syndrome have such a hard time losing weight. Excess fat around your waist is a primary sign.

 Too much sugar circulates in the bloodstream, creating more AGE products (advanced glycosylation end products) associated with accelerated aging, brown spots, and kidney disease.

  The medical approach relies on using a different drug “patch” for each problem, so the person is juggling 4 or 5 different prescriptions, (and possibly adverse drug reactions and side effects). For example, statin drugs used to control high cholesterol are highly toxic to the liver. Using them long term can worsen complications like fatty liver disease and obesity.

What’s causing the Metabolic syndrome epidemic?

  Again, our lifestyle bears much of the responsibility. Like diabetes, the main triggers of Syndrome X are lack of exercise, and diet overloads of sugar, refined carbs, saturated and trans fats. Smoking, chronic stress and alcohol abuse accelerate the damage.

 Still, heredity can play a role. African American women, Hispanics, Native Americans and Pacific Islanders who have adopted a western lifestyle (and eating patterns) are the hardest hit by this syndrome, but the epidemic is actually growing in all of America’s middle aged baby boomer population.

Are you at risk for Syndrome X?   Three or more of these symptoms may be a sign.

            • Obesity, especially if you have an apple shaped body (excess weight around the middle) or a protruding stomach (a sign of liver enlargement).

            • Diabetes or pre-diabetes (Fasting blood glucose higher than 110).

            • Diagnosed high cholesterol, triglycerides Cholesterol deposits on the skin (xanthelasma).

            • Poor circulation or arteriosclerosis.  Blood pressure greater than 140/85 mmHg.

            • Poor immune response with frequent colds, flu or candida yeast infections. Retinal changes, cataracts.

            • Polycystic ovaries (signs include irregular menstruation, infertility, hirsutism, acne and obesity).

            A holistic approach is well suited to address Syndrome X and diabetes, helping to rebalance blood sugar levels, and to help normalize high blood pressure and cholesterol without serious side effects or drug toxicity.

Natural Therapies To Rebalance Body Systems

1. Start with diet improvements. Do not skip meals. Most diabetics should eat 6 mini-meals a day, especially if they’re on insulin therapy. Ask your physician.

• Focus on a largely plant-based, fresh foods diet for complex carbohydrates that don’t require much insulin for metabolism. Make sure you are getting high quality protein from fish, legumes, and green superfoods like barley grass and spirulina.  Add high fiber vegetables, and whole grains like oats and brown rice to stabilize sugar swings and support cardiovascular health.

• Keep fat intake low, no more than 15% of total calories, for heart health and weight management. Instead, boost essential fatty acids (EFA’s). EFA’s promote healthy metabolism and improve circulation.

Low essential fatty acid levels worsen metabolic syndrome by triggering inflammation. Eat seafood (especially wild salmon) 3 times a week for Omega 3 fatty acids. Sea veggies, olive oil, flax seed oil and dark greens like spinach are other good sources of EFA’s.  Consider EVENING PRIMROSE OIL 3000mg daily.

• Add more chromium-rich foods to your diet, like nutritional yeast, onions, garlic and wheat germ to normalize blood sugar levels. Supplemental chromium (500 to 1000 mcg. daily) is another good option to explore with your physician.

•Very important! Strive for 30 minutes of aerobic exercise daily. No program for diabetes or metabolic syndrome will work for long without regular exercise. 

Mushroom Wisdom offers high quality medicinal mushrooms for wellness

Mushroom Wisdom offers high quality medicinal mushrooms for wellness

2. Consider medicinal mushrooms and whole herbs for body balance. Note: If you’re on medication for diabetes, ask your doctor before using herbal formulas. Diabetics may need to reduce the dosage of their medication while using herbs.

• First, let’s talk about maitake mushroom. New research on a special extract from maitake mushroom, called SX fraction, shows it can enhance insulin sensitivity and improve blood glucose management.

 Diet improvements are absolutely necessary for managing metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. A healthy, natural foods diet, in addition to reducing insulin requirements and balancing blood sugar, has the nice “side effects” of healthy weight loss and better heart protection.

Immune Breakdown- Can medicinal mushrooms safeguard your health?

Most Americans today don’t have good immune response to fight off illness. Pollution, drug overload and nutrient-poor diets compromise our immune health even in good weather. So we’re already pre-disposed to a life of frequent colds, flu, and sinus infections when bad weather or spring allergies roll in.

  Many people still believe they’re protected by having a flu shot, but think again. Flu shots are only effective for specific flu viruses...... you may be exposed to a different one, or even a brand new one (flu viruses mutate rapidly) and your shot won’t be effective. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in 2004 that the vaccine had little or no effectiveness against influenza or influenza-like diseases!

Meanwhile, with a death toll of 36,000 people annually in the US, the flu can be deadly, especially for the elderly.

People who HIV/AIDS, and children whose immune systems aren’t fully developed (especially babies born prematurely--- 500,000 babies in the U.S. each year) are also at very high risk for flu complications. 

 But drugs aren’t the answer for immune enhancement. Each one of us has a unique immune response system. It would be almost impossible to form a drug for each person.

Immune defense is automatic and subconscious. It works on its own to set up a healing environment for your body. It is this quality of being part of us, yet not under our conscious control, that is the great power of immune response. Our immune system shows us that there is so much more to healing than the latest wonder drug. We can really see that we are the ultimate healer of ourselves.

 The immune system is the most complex and delicately balanced infrastructure of your body, your own personal defense team that comes charging to the rescue at the first sign of a harmful invader—like a virus, fungus, pathogenic bacteria or parasite. The immune system is always vigilant, constantly searching for proteins, called antigens, that don’t belong in our bodies.

 It can deal with a wide range of them, even recognizing potential antigens, like drugs, pollens, insect venoms, malignant cells and chemicals in foods.

But today your immune system is challenged daily by at least 25,000 new chemicals that enter our environment every year - many of them from third world countries that don’t have safeguards in place. These chemicals affect our air, our water, our food supply, and our basic hormone balance.

Today immune compromised fatigue diseases like candida albicans, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), fibromyalgia, Hashimoto’s, and cancer are taking hold in almost epidemic proportions.

  I believe the only way to stay healthy during these high risk times is to prepare your body for the defenses it’s going to need. Even if you’ve improved your diet, take another look at it because a super nutritious diet is imperative as you grow older.

 And, the latest research validates ancient wisdom: Medicinal mushrooms and whole herbs offer powerful immune support and assist recovery for even serious illness.

1. Medicinal Mushrooms-  In Traditional Chinese medicine, many of the “superior” drugs- those that increase resistance to all disease agents- are derived from mushrooms.  Of course, the beauty of a medicinal food like mushrooms is that you can add them to your diet as well as take them supplementally. Mushrooms are double defense for your immune system!

Shiitake mushroom

 Shiitake mushrooms stimulate your immune system’s powerhouses, the macrophages and NK (natural killer) cells to act both quickly and aggressively against invading pathogens.

 Add shiitakes to your meals when you feel unusually tired or if you’re coming down with a cold. A little shiitake goes a long way. Simply soak them until they’re soft (or use them fresh), and slice them with kitchen scissors.  I like adding them to miso soup, brown rice or healthy stir fry recipes once or twice a week, especially during high risk seasons or after a lot of travel.

Reishi mushroom

Reishi mushrooms are adaptogenic. They have a balancing effect on the body- regardless of the illness. In China, Reishi has been prized for thousands of years as the “Elixir of Immortality.”

  While Reishi probably won’t make you immortal,  this powerful mushroom stimulates your immune system’s phagocytes, specialized “eater cells” that ingest harmful bacteria and boost the activity of your T-cells (“killer” cells).

Cordyceps

Cordyceps was first brought into the spotlight by Chinese athletes who used it and broke nine world records in 1993. Cordyceps (or caterpillar mushroom) is not technically a mushroom; it’s actually a fungi that colonizes inside a variety of insects. (FYI- you can view a video of cordyceps growing out of an insect host on boingboing.net ).  Cordyceps increases energy levels in health problems like CFS and fibromyalgia, where the body is deficient or run-down. It is a proven choice for people who feel too tired to exercise.

In my own personal experience, I have found cordyceps eases chest congestion and speeds healing from respiratory illnesses. Dosage: 600 mg of 12: 1 Extract.

Maitake mushroom

 Maitake mushrooms offer a significant immune boost for serious health concerns like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, rheumatoid arthritis, hepatitis, and, as we previously discussed, diabetes.

2. Protease Enzyme therapy

  Enzymes are at the forefront of my immune boosting program. Supplemental protease, the enzyme that digests protein, is  especially remarkable. Protease taken between meals will enter the blood stream and help the immune system digest the protein fragments and unwanted waste in the blood- including harmful bacteria and viruses. Protease can even break down abnormal tissue in the body. In my own experience, there are almost miraculous results from protease on dissolving scar tissue.... both externally and internally... and for helping shrink cysts and fibroids. For therapeutic benefits, take at least 370,000 HUT (Hemoglobin Unit Tyrosine base) daily.

3.  Whole herbs offer protection against illness as you age, and their activity is gentle and long lasting without the harsh side effects of antibiotic drugs. Here are 2 of my favorites:

   Astragalus is a “power root” for immunity. In China, it is considered the quintessential herb for building resistance to infection. Astragalus boosts natural killer activity and possesses anti-viral properties. In studies with people susceptible to frequent infections, astragalus improved natural resistance so patients got sick less frequently. It is especially beneficial to prevent respiratory illness.

 Most health food stores and Oriental markets sell the dried root in bulk. It looks like a tongue depressor and works well in a tonic, immune building soup with miso, other root vegetables and shiitake mushrooms.

It’s also available in capsules and tinctures. Combinations with other immune tonics like garlic or green tea are best, but as a single herb about 500-1000mg is effective. Note: Astragalus is not recommended for acute illness. It’s best used as a preventive or during the recuperation stage of an illness.

   Burdock is another miracle immune herb. Burdock’s not very well known in America, but it’s one of my all-time favorite defense herbs. Burdock provides remarkable support for your liver. Your liver is responsible for more than 1500 functions that directly maintain your immune system. It produces interferon, the body’s natural germ killer, which activates white blood cells that destroy and eliminate disease-causing toxins.

I like burdock best in an immune tea - simply simmer 1-2 tsp. of the dried root in a cup of water for 15 minutes. Take 2-3 times a week for protective results. Also, look for burdock under the name  “Gobo” in Japanese supermarkets. Like astragalus, burdock also works well in an immune recovery soup.

            Clearly, we are all trying to live longer and live better. But I believe the real secret to anti-aging, beauty and immune strength is found in your positive outlook and healthy lifestyle choices. Medicinal mushrooms and whole herbs are an ideal anti-aging choice for men and women. As nourishment, they offer the body nutrients it may not always receive, either because of poor diet, or environmental deficiencies in the soil, air and water. As therapy, they are essentially body balancers that work with the body functions, so that it can heal and regulate itself.

 

          

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on August 6, 2014 .

The Race to Fight Aging: Part 1. Anti-Aging for Skin Beauty

The global market for anti-aging products and therapies is expected to reach up to $291 billion by 2015! Hundreds of American health organizations focus solely on new, innovative strategies to slow down the aging process.

We know the right dietary measures can keep diseases from worsening symptoms or progressing. In the natural healing world, we’re discovering more about the rejuvenating benefits of medicinal mushrooms, whole herbs and supplements for anti-aging. There really has never been a better time to grow older!

Research suggests that we may only be living two-thirds of the years our bodies are capable of.  Maximum human life span may be 20 to 30 years longer than most of us live today. Centenarians, people 100 or over, are the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population. Centenarians have much to teach us about health and growing older with greater vitality. And, the US Census Bureau predicts their number to grow to 214,000 by 2020!

Even with these advances, aging brings up special concerns for men and women like skin problems/early wrinkling, diabetes and immune system breakdown. Gentle, natural therapies are a great option for these problems, and they are generally free of side effects common to drug therapies or more invasive approaches.

Anti-Aging Treatments for Skin Beauty

The cosmetic surgery industry is booming. Technology has advanced enormously just in the last 10 years and Americans are rising to the challenge of reclaiming their youth with the latest cosmetic procedures.

Cosmetic surgery isn’t the only or best solution for everyone. The clear beauty benefits come with major drawbacks in terms of trauma, recovery time and, for most of us, prohibitive costs. A facelift is expensive, at $6000 to 8000 per procedure! Less invasive non-surgical facelifts (Thermage/Titan), Botox and wrinkle fillers like Restalyn are less expensive and definitely growing in popularity as we search for that youthful glow.

Beautiful skin is so much more than skin deep. The skin is your body’s largest organ of both nourishment and elimination. It sloughs off old, dying cells every day for a new start. Skin mirrors our emotional state and hormonal balance. Skin problems reflect a stressed lifestyle, poor diet and lack of rest almost immediately. Sallow, dull skin and premature wrinkling are clear signs of dehydration and poor diet.

Skin Aging Factors

TOO MUCH SUGAR- A high sugar diet sets the stage for free radical activity and rapid skin aging. Sugar is known to cause the body to produce more Advanced Glycosylation End products (AGE), which are closely associated with free radical damage and premature aging.

Too much sugar accelerates skin inflammation, and can even cause increased brown spots and deep wrinkles. Many skin experts now say too much sugar is as bad for skin as overexposure to UV rays! Even if your diet is generally good, watch out for overindulging in sugary treats. It is a poor choice for both your health and your looks.

DEHYDRATION- Your skin’s hydration needs definitely increase with age. Even if you drink plenty of water, it becomes harder for skin cells to hold moisture, causing skin to look drier, more wrinkled, or sallow and dull. In response, the cosmetic surgery industry has brought us hyaluronic acid injections with collagen boosters like calcium hydroxylapatite. This type of approach works well temporarily, but the shots are painful, expensive (between $700-1000), and generally need to be repeated every four months. Wrinkle fillers can also make the skin look unnatural, lumpy or swollen.

Is there a better way?

TREMELLA MUSHROOM- Relatively new to America, tremella mushroom is actually a better skin hydrator than hyaluronic acid. Tremella polysaccharides can hold nearly 500 times their weight in water; this is 25% greater than hyaluronic acid. Research shows tremella helps the skin hold moisture for a longer period of time than hyaluronic acid. Tremella cream plumps up loose skin and naturally fills in those fine line and wrinkles, and it’s less sticky than most popular HA creams. Tremella is widely available in tablets, too. I recommend using both for the best results.

ALPHA LIPOIC ACID- Alpha lipoic acid enhances sugar metabolism at the cellular level, allowing the body’s own restorative functions to work more effectively. By protecting the body from sugar’s toxic effects, alpha lipoic acid actually prevents the premature aging of collagen. Cosmetically, it can reduce wrinkles, break down scar tissue and increase levels of other antioxidants like vitamin C and glutathione for added protection against UV rays.

COQ10- CoQ10 is another important antioxidant for wrinkle and sun damage prevention. With age, your body’s natural production of CoQ10 slows down, which, in turn, results in reduced collagen and elastin production. Topical applications are effective because of CoQ10’s small molecular size and have been shown clinically to reduce the signs of photoaging (sun damage) and crow’s feet.

SEAWEED like nori, sweet sea palm, dulse and wakame are some of my favorite beauty foods, and they’re some of Nature’s most ancient beauty secrets. The Greeks said that Aphrodite, the goddess of love, rising out of the foaming sea, owed her supple skin, shiny hair, and sparkling eyes to the plants of the sea. 

Mineral salts in seaweed help the skin to hold moisture, so it becomes more supple and elastic. Antioxidants like vitamin C, A, D and E in seaweed quell skin damaging free radicals. High protein and essential fatty acids help repair stress and pollution damaged skin.

Using seaweed in a facial mask with rejuvenating whole herbs can cleanse the skin and encourage a "natural facelift" effect. A cooling seaweed mask even helps support recovery from minor burns, acne and scars. You can also use seaweed in soup, or as a topping on a salad, sandwich or healthy pizza. For people who don’t like the taste of seaweed, try seaweed in capsules like Ocean Minerals. 

 

 

Posted on July 30, 2014 .

Drug-Herb-Nutrient Interactions: Facts You Need to Know

This article was carefully researched and written by Sarah Abernathy, the co-author of Healthy Healing 14th Edition and managing editor of healthyhealing.com.

Do you worry that the herbal remedies, high potency vitamins, and supplements you're taking could interact with prescription drugs? You're not alone. Nearly every day, someone contacts my research department to ask whether they can use herbal therapies with prescription drug treatments.

As the lines blur between supplements, natural remedies and drugs, the answers aren't simple. Opinions on the topic vary widely in both the natural healing and medical worlds. Some practitioners advise against using herbs and supplements altogether while on drug therapy; others routinely recommend them, especially if a drug is leaching nutrients from the body or causing side effects. Adding to the confusion, almost every day brings a new media report, oftentimes biased or incomplete, on the hazards of combining herbs with drugs.

Confused about a safe choice? Here's what you need to know about drug-herb-nutrient interactions.

Investigating how herbs and nutrients interact with drugs is a new research area with few qualified experts. Knowledge comes slowly and laboriously. Drug and herbal companies move in different worlds, so information is hard to gather and analyze. The learning curve on the safety of each herb-nutrient-drug combination is complex. Much of the information we have on herb-nutrient-drug interactions comes from anecdotal reports or small tests. It's a detailed, complex subject that will eventually need millions of university grant dollars to determine which herbs and nutrients interact with which drugs. One major obstacle? Neither orthodox medicine nor the natural healing world has a vested interest in funding such research.

Much of the information we do have on drug-herb interactions comes from anecdotal reports or small tests with standardized plant constituents, not whole herb combinations that are routinely recommended by practicing herbalists, acupuncturists and traditional naturopaths. In other cases, information is based on theory about potential interactions, but with no reports actually confirming the interaction. Since drugs as chemicals work outside the system, and whole herbs as foods are processed through our enzyme system, a theorized interaction often never occurs or is neutralized. In some cases, a drug-herb interaction occurs because an herb is misused, taken in very high doses or combined with a medication that has a similar effect (i.e. combinining blood thinning drugs with blood thinning herbs).

In many cases, herbs and supplements can be used supportively, to maintain health while a person is on drug therapy. For instance, ginkgo biloba may be taken to help counteract the sexual side effects of anti-depressant drugs. B-complex vitamins are widely known to reduce drug-induced nutrient depletion from medications like oral contraceptives, estrogen replacement drugs, and methotrexate. There are even cases where an herbal formula can be used to help a person wean off a drug medication, but these cases should always be monitored medically.

Drug-Herb-Nutrient Interactions to be aware of

Drug, herb, nutrient, interactions are rare but can happen. A new 2004 review published in Archives of Internal Medicine shows that in 94% of cases, these interactions are fortunately, not serious.The following list is a good sampling of the known negative interactions between the herbs, nutrients, and prescription medications you may be taking. Ultimately, the decision to use herbal supplements while on prescription drug therapy is a personal one, and one I recommend you make with your physican's counsel.

St. John's Wort: St. John's wort has become an herbal boon for depression in the modern world. Some research shows this herb's anti-depressant effect rivals conventional anti-depressant drugs for mild to moderate depression! This is certainly good news for people who want a natural alternative to drugs like Prozac which can cause side effects like low libido, agitation or fatigue.

However, standardized St. John's wort can interfere with many prescription medications. New research reveals St. John's wort can decrease effectiveness of HIV drugs, drugs for organ transplants and cancer, digoxin, statin drugs, warfarin, chemotherapy drugs, tricyclic antidepressants, asthma medicines, and, possibly, oral contraceptives (although this effect has not proven). Some doctors advise against using the herb before surgery because it reduces effectiveness of the new anesthetics.

Don't use St. John's wort if you're taking antidepressant drugs. The combination of St. John's wort and drugs that affect brain serotonin levels (like SSRI antidepressants) may lead to ³serotonin syndrome,² a serious condition marked by confusion, incoordination, and cardiovascular irregularities. Several documents report this interaction. St. John's wort is also contraindicated for people taking anti-depressant MAO inhibitors (monoamine oxidase inhibitors) because it is believed the herb may interact with them, too. New research from Ireland concludes these interactions are rare, and that St. John's wort actually has fewer side effects and health risks compared to conventional antidepresssant drugs (McIntyre 2000). For some people, whole St. John's wort may be the best choice for relief of mild to moderate depression, especially if a recommended prescription antidepressant causes long term toxicity to the liver or kidneys.

Be aware that standardized St. john's wort can have side effects. Photosensitivity is a big problem, especially if it is combined with other photosensitizing drugs like antibiotics. In addition, fatigue and gastrointestinal upset occur in some people. Avoid standardized St. John's wort if you use tanning beds or take drugs that cause photosensitivity. (You might get burned!) Preliminary research suggests high doses of St. John's wort may also increase the risk of sun-induced cataracts. (Wear sunglasses when using it!) It is not yet known whether whole St. John's wort used in herbal combinations would have these same side effects or contraindications. Until more research is available, I recommend any person taking multiple prescriptions consult with their physician before using St. John's wort's products and be aware of its photosensitivity potential.

Kava Kava: Kava kava has become the herbal answer to Valium in America. Kava helps calm the mind and relax the muscles without causing side effects like over-sedation or addiction. However, kava is not safe for everyone. If you're drinking alcohol, don't take kava. Kava can intensify the effects of alcohol. In addition, kava may interact with anti-anxiety medications like buspirone (Buspar), benzodiazepines and anesthetics. Kava should also be avoided by people taking anti-psychotic drugs and Levodopa for Parkinson's disease.

Recent media reports suggest kava causes liver damage. However, new evidence shows in 27 of the 30 reported cases the people were using other medications or had a history of alcoholism which may have contributed to the liver toxicity. (In the South Pacific where kava is used regularly in high doses, there are few reports of liver toxicity.) Still, until we know more, avoid kava when you drink alcohol, or if you have liver problems, or if you take drugs that affect the liver. Experts theorize that kava may potentially aggravate liver problems in rare cases. Note: Discontinue kava use if you experience warning signs of jaundice like yellowing of the eyes.

Ephedra: Bad press has now stopped the sale of ephedra (ma huang) in the U.S.. I believe the ephedra controversy is a case of a plant being judged for one of its constituents instead of as a whole. Most of the health problems associated with ephedra are actually due to one of its constituents- ephedrine. When used properly, ephedra is the best herbal bronchodilator for respiratory problems like asthma, and a natural thermogenic aid for weight loss.

Some companies used concentrated, standardized extracts of ephedrine, which have a stronger effect on the body than the whole herb. Others used synthetic ephedrine, a drug derived from the plant, and combined it with caffeine or other stimulating drugs in ³herbal ecstasy² compounds. This type of preparation caused dangerous spikes in blood pressure and heart rate, especially in combination with illicit drugs!

Even with whole herb ephedra products, use precautions. Don't use ephedra if you have heart problems or high blood pressure. Don't use ephedra-based products continuously because of potential long-term strain on the adrenal glands. Ephedra is contraindicated if you're pregnant or nursing; taking a MAO inhibitor, stimulant drugs or decongestants; or if you have heart or thyroid disease, prostate enlargement, or diabetes. If these contraindications don't apply to you, I recommend using ephedra only as a whole herb, in combination with other herbs in expert herbal formulations, or as a weak tea for a limited span of time.

Ginkgo Biloba: Widely used to help reduce age-related problems like poor circulation, heart disease, tinnitus and impotence, ginkgo is best known as an effective herbal ³brain booster² against memory deterioration. While generally very safe, ginkgo's blood-thinning effects can interact with some anticoagulants like Warfarin and antiplatelet drugs, and over-the-counter drugs like aspirin or ibuprofen. Many experts feel this interaction is actually minor and only occurs in very small percentage of people taking the herb. Still, it is not advised to take ginkgo before surgery without medical supervision.

Note: Many herbs and supplements have mild blood thinning effects and should be used with caution if you're taking blood thinning drugs or preparing for surgery. High doses of vitamin E, garlic, ginger, bromelain, protease and feverfew may affect bleeding, and should be used with caution. CoQ10 may reduce the effectiveness of blood thinning drugs like Warfarin. Consult with your doctor on the remedies you're taking.

Ginseng: The world's most popular herbal energy tonic, every traditional healing culture in the world has a ginseng or ginseng-type plant in it's medicine chest. Daily ginseng was a necessary matter of life throughout all of China's long history. At the turn of the 20th century, virtually every Chinese person used ginseng to some extent for their well being, especially as a wellness tonic. Ginseng was also highly esteemed by every Native American culture. Today, ginseng is one of the most extensively researched herbs in the entire world!

Ginseng is so potent, we think of it as a panacea, from which comes its name Panax, an herb to restore and normalize various body functions like blood pressure, blood sugar, energy, and endurance. In one study, people who had taken ginseng for one year had 36% less cancer incidence han non-users. Longer term usage produced even better results. People who had used ginseng for 5 years or more had 69% less cancer incidences. Ginseng is the only plant known that contains phyto-testosterone which stimulates sex drive in both men and women. American ginseng, specifically, has been shown to increase the weight of the seminal vesicles, prostate gland and sperm count.

Still, ginseng may not be appropriate for everyone. New reports suggests that patients with bipolar disorder on antidepressant drug therapy should avoid ginseng as it may provoke a manic state. In addition, a study reported in Annals of Internal Medicine found ginseng reduces Coumadin's effectiveness, a very dangerous effect for people at high risk for blood clots.

Licorice: Licorice has a long tradition of safe use as a natural antibiotic and antiviral in both Western and Chinese herbal medicine. It's an American favorite for female hormone balance and adrenal exhaustion. Most people can take licorice without problems, but avoid it if you have high blood pressure or if you take high blood pressure drugs. In very high doses, the licorice constituent, glycyrrhizin, can cause potassium loss, fluid retention and elevated blood pressure. Licorice is not advised for people with a history of renal failure or who take heart medication or steroid drugs.

Feverfew: Traditional herbalists turn to feverfew for migraine relief. Five different studies reveal feverfew is more effective than a placebo at relieving migraine pain, even reducing migraine-related symptoms like nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light. Some theorize that a combination of NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and feverfew may increase the risk of stomach irritation because both substances affect prostaglandins that protect the stomach lining. (NSAIDs by themselves are a clear risk factor for stomach ulcers.) Feverfew can also affect blood clotting. Use with caution if you take like Warfarin or Heparin.

Vitamin A: Supplemental vitamin A is used to counteract night blindness, as an antioxidant in natural cancer treatment, and in creams to prevent wrinkles. But high doses of vitamin A can be toxic and should definitely be avoided during pregnancy. Don't take vitamin A if you take the prescription drug Accutane for acne. Accutane is structurally similar to vitamin A and has similar toxicities. Avoid vitamin A if you're under treatment for thyroid cancer. Beta carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in the liver as needed, is a much safer choice for people concerned with vitamin A toxicity.

Ipriflavone: Ipriflavone is a synthetic derivative of soy isoflavones with bone protecting activity. Studies with over 1300 women show ipriflavone can slow osteoporosis progression in post menopausal women. There is some evidence it may even reverse osteoporosis! Animal studies suggest ipriflavone both inhibits bone resorption and stimulates bone formation. Its bone-strengthening effects are improved by adding calcium and vitamin D. A therapeutic dosage is 300mg twice daily.

However, be aware that ipriflavone interacts with some prescription medications by affecting the way they are processed in the liver. For example, ipriflavone can increase the effects of theophylline, caffeine, drugs for epilepsy and diabetes, and blood thinning medications like Coumadin causing potentially dangerous side effects. It's not a good idea to take ipriflavone if you have liver problems either, because it may build to toxic amounts in the liver. People with serious kidney disease should consult with their physician before using ipriflavone because ipriflavone is metabolized in the kidneys.

Grapefruit Juice: Grapefruit juice is one of the few foods that interacts with prescription drugs. Grapefruit juice causes some drugs to be absorbed too quickly - a dangerous effect for people taking drugs with high potential for toxicity or serious side effects. Don't drink grapefruit juice if you take calcium channel blockers for high blood pressure. The combination can be fatal! Grapefruit juice can also have dangerous interactions with drugs for allergies like Claritin and Allegra, antihistamines like Benadryl, and high blood pressure drugs. Grapefruit juice may interact with organ transplant drugs, estrogens and oral contraceptives, anti-anxiety medications, Methadone, Viagra, HIV drugs, seizure drugs and statin drugs for high cholesterol. Note: While grapefruit juice has the reputation for interactions, the fruit may have the same effect if consumed in large amounts.

A note on antidepressant MAO drugs (mono amine oxidase inhibitors): MAO's are a rare class of drugs known to have interactions with foods. People taking MAO inhibitors for depression should avoid foods high in tyramine like cheese, sausage, alcohol, legumes, fish, sauerkraut, soups, and yeast extracts, and the herbs ginseng and scotch broom.

My final word on interactions between drugs, herbs and nutrients?

We have much to learn about how herbs and nutrients interact with powerful prescription drugs. Still, I believe most negative interactions occur when people use highly potent standardized herbs, take extremely large doses of herbs or nutrients, or combine herbs and nutrients with drugs that have innate toxic properties and serious side effects.

There's no such thing as an essential drug. Drugs don't play a normal role in human biology. Health problems are not caused by drug deficiencies. Drug side effects occur for this very reason.... because they aren't part of the normal workings of the body.

Supplements and whole herbs will always be gentler and easier to take than drugs. Sometimes short-term drug therapy may be necessary to stabilize a serious health problem so that immune response can take over for long term health. If you're on drug therapy or preparing for a medical procedure, talk to your doctor about the natural remedies you're using and ask about possible interactions. Working with a knowledgable health professional trained in both natural and conventional approaches is by far the best choice. Finding the right blend of medicine for you is worth this extra effort.

More information:

- Lininger, Schuyler, D.C., Alan Gaby, M.D., Steve Austin, N.D., Forrest Batz PharmD, Eric Yarnell, N.D., Donald Brown, N.D., George Constantine Rph, Ph.D. A-Z Guide To Drug-Herb-Vitamin Interactions. Healthnotes, Inc. 1999.

- Harkness, Richard, Pharm.,FASCP & Stephen Bratman, M.D. Drug-Herb-Vitamin Interactions Bible. Prima Health, 2000.

 

Posted on June 20, 2014 .

The Power of Herbal Extracts

Herbal extracts are 4 to 8 times stronger than capsules. They are effective used as a spray where all the mouth receptors can be brought into play, or as drops held under the tongue. Their strength and convenience make extracts a reliable choice for healing for people on the go, and for people who have trouble swallowing capsules. Directions for extract use: During the first week of acute symptoms, hold an extract dose in the mouth for 30 seconds, 3 or 4 times daily. After the first week, the vital force of your body will be stimulated, and your dose may be reduced, allowing your system to rebalance naturally.

We have many extract choices: for immune defense; for nutritional support; to relieve allergies and congestion; and to balance hormones and reduce PMS.

For the month of June, all herbal extracts are 25% off. Try one for yourself and see the benefits.


Posted on June 2, 2014 .