Stuck in a sex rut? These are the best foods, herbs, and exercises for men

Mens-Sexuality-Best-herbs-and-food.jpg

Maybe you’ve tried quieting your mind, connecting with your partner, and cutting down on your sexual inhibitors, but you’re still struggling to activate your desire, arousal, or endurance. If these struggles appeared gradually over time and are consistent even in the best sexual contexts (low stress, high intimacy, good mood), body-based protocols targeting your hormone levels, circulation, and cellular health can help.

Limits of the erection Rx

While medications for ED can enhance your erections (part of male arousal), they won’t act on your desire i.e. you may wind up with an erection and no interest in using it. Like all medications, ED prescriptions can have side effects from headaches and nausea to hearing loss, and some men can’t take them due to heart conditions or high blood pressure—some of the very health conditions that can cause ED in the first place.

Hormones or circulation: what’s the difference?

Sex hormones like testosterone play a big part in sexual desire , so if you don’t feel motivated to have sex you may need to address your hormone levels. This lack of motivation can contribute indirectly to erectile dysfunction (ED), but it’s also possible to experience arousal (i.e. erections) without feeling desire. In short: disinterest in sex usually has psychological or hormonal origins.

If you’re interested in sex but can’t get aroused, that’s most likely a blood flow or retention issue, especially if you aren’t having involuntary erections at night. Underlying health conditions like high blood pressure can reduce blood supply to the penis, as can smoking, drug and alcohol abuse, and certain classes of medication. As men age, their erectile tissue may also have a tougher time retaining the blood necessary for an erection. That’s because oxidative stress caused by free radicals damages cells, making the erectile tissue porous. Oxidative stress may also lead to clogged arteries (a.k.a atherosclerosis), another condition that limits blood flow to the penis. 

Whatever combination of hormonal or circulatory problems you might be facing, nutrition, sleep, exercise, diet, and herbal remedies can help boost both your desire and performance.

Eat antioxidants and zinc for sexual health

Since oxidative stress is a leading cause of age-related ED, antioxidants from food are vital for both prevention and treatment. While there are plenty of antioxidant-packed superfood options like goji berries and chaga mushroom, incorporating antioxidants into your diet can be both simple and affordable. A good rule is to get as much colorful produce in your grocery cart as possible since each color usually corresponds to a different type of antioxidant. For example, black plums, blackberries, blueberries, and red grapes all contain the antioxidant anthocyanin. Other high-antioxidant foods include beets, beans, cabbage, kale, spinach, pecans, and dark chocolate.

Zinc is a vital trace element that we can only obtain from food and supplements. In addition to its antioxidant properties, zinc plays a big part in sperm production and quality, testosterone production, and protecting the prostate against infection. In short, healthy male reproductive systems depend on adequate zinc intake.

That said, it’s possible to overdose on zinc when you use supplements, so as always we recommend turning to whole foods first. While most foods contain some amount of zinc, a few healthy categories and items are more zinc-rich than others. These include seeds, nuts, shellfish, crab, lobster, tofu, mushrooms, legumes, whole grains like brown rice, oats, and quinoa, eggs, lean poultry, non-rbST dairy, and even that antioxidant-rich dark chocolate.

A few simple diet adjustments can quickly fulfill your recommended daily intake—about 11mg for men (for more details check out this zinc intake guide). An egg contains 1mg while yogurt is about 1.7mg per serving. Add two tablespoons of pumpkin seeds for another 2mg of zinc and your light breakfast has already put you at 43% of your daily value. Aim to incorporate 1-2 servings of least one zinc-rich food at lunch and dinner and you’ll hit 11mg by bedtime.

Cut down on sugar and red meat

While red meat is high in zinc, it’s also a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, cancer, and erectile dysfunction. Consuming sugar, meanwhile, is associated with lowered testosterone levels in men. Excess sugar (and refined carbohydrate) consumption also leads to increased fat deposits in your body, which in turn decrease your testosterone levels.

Try sex-enhancing herbs

Herbs can boost male desire and performance by supporting circulation, hormone balance, and healthy tissue. If sexual arousal and desire are your main problems, horny goat weed (really) and ginseng are staples of Chinese Medicine and can support male sexual health when appropriately blended with other, balancing herbs. One study found that a compound in horny goat weed inhibits an enzyme that restricts blood flow to the penis, and several studies have shown that different varieties of ginseng may assist with erections, hormone regulation, and sperm production

If you also struggle with energy, endurance, and recovery (in the gym as well as the bedroom), instead look for professional herbal blends that include wild oats (really), gingko biloba, and maca. Several compounds in wild green oats may support cardiovascular health , and gingko biloba can increase blood flow to the brain and genitals, and may help increase dopamine in the brain, contributing to alertness. Studies show that maca, meanwhile, can lessen fatigue and promote physical endurance. A 2002 double blind placebo-controlled study also found that maca increased sexual desire in men aged 21 to 56

Exercise for better sex

Aerobic exercise like dancing, running, brisk walking, and swimming stimulate circulation and improve overall cardiovascular health. A 2018 systematic review of ED research studies found that weekly exercise of 160 minutes for six months decreased erectile problems in men with ED, while a 2010 study found that a consistent yoga practice improved men’s desire, erections, and orgasm. The takeaway? Pick a form of movement you enjoy and stick to it for lasting sexual health benefits.  

Get more sleep

If you’ve been struggling to improve your sleep habits here’s another motivator: poor or insufficient sleep is associated with lowered testosterone levels, leading to decreased desire, particularly in older men.

Good sleep hygiene includes going to bed and waking at the same time every day (even weekends), turning off screens and eating dinner at least two hours before bedtime, and scheduling at least eight hours in bed. Track how many hours of sleep you need to feel rested, which can range from seven to nine hours among adults, then adjust your scheduled time in bed accordingly. 

If you’re struggling to fall asleep, herbal blends containing valerian, passion flower, and poppy can help.  Studies have shown that all three of these herbs cab help alleviate sleeplessness. Try a DIY lavender aromatherapy spray on your pillow at bedtime. Combine equal parts vodka or witch hazel with distilled water in a spray bottle and add lavender oil at a 1%-2% dilution (between 6 and 12 drops for each ounce of liquid) spritz on your pillow, and take slow, gentle breaths—lavender essential oil improves both sleep quality and duration.  

Give it time

All of these approaches are geared towards healing and strengthening your body—in some cases at the cellular level. Improvements may show themselves gradually over weeks and months, but as long as you keep up your new healthy habits, they’ll last for years.

Mind your mind: Applying the new science of male sexuality

It’s a myth that all healthy men experience strong and spontaneous desire, and this myth can make men with non-linear, intimacy-focused sexual patterns feel broken. If your struggles with sex feel abrupt or inconsistent, you may just need help getting your body and mind to cooperate.

What is sexual dysfunction?

 Sexual dysfunction is a broad (and probably overused) term that can cover anything from painful sex or trouble with arousal to a person’s feeling that they just aren’t enjoying sex the way they’d like to. To understand the many factors that can hinder a man’s sexual experience, it’s worth defining some sexual health terms. Problems with any of these can have both physical and emotional origins.

  • Arousal is a set of body processes that occur in response to a sexual situation/thought/image, whether or not a man actually finds that situation appealing.

  • Desire can set in before or after arousal, if a man does in fact find a sexual situation appealing. It indicates wanting sex rather than only being prepared for it.

  • Erectile dysfunction (ED) refers to the consistent inability to have or maintain an erection (a sign of arousal) long enough to have intercourse, despite feeling desire.

  • Premature ejaculation (PE) is when ejaculation occurs before sex, or within one minute of engaging in sexual activity.

How to improve men’s sexual health

 A string of research since 2001 proposes that much of what we learned about sex in health class is wrong—for men as well as women. Some researchers now say there’s no biological evidence for sex being a physical “drive”, or even a one-size-fits-all model for how arousal, desire, and fulfillment work.

Translation? We don’t need sex to live, so our bodies don’t have to crave it spontaneously the way they do food or water. Instead, the desire for sex can arise from combinations of thoughts (including memories and fantasies), feelings, or sensory input. The prompt can be obvious (partner in a towel!) or subtle (partner laughing at bad jokes!), but it’s always in play. True biological drives will arise with or without a prompt i.e. you don’t need to fantasize about hamburgers in order to feel hungry.

According to the “responsive desire” sex framework, men and women may not be so different when it comes to getting in the mood. It all comes down to lag time. Many (but not all) men feel the effects of a sexual prompt right away, and many (but not all) women need more time or more prompts to feel interest.

On top of all that, many researches think that all human sexual functioning can be explained through an excitation/inhibition system. That is, we all have specific circumstances, moods, and forms of touch that turn us on, but we also have lots of things that turn us off. This gas/brakes model means that you could be excited (partner in a towel!) and inhibited (weird smell in the kitchen!) at the same time, making for confusing combinations of feeling desire without arousal, arousal without desire, or nothing at all.

If a man wants intimacy with a partner, he may be disappointed with his body’s refusal to play along. But our bodies often take cues from our minds: anxiety, depression, fatigue, situational stressors, and relationship tension or disconnection can all inhibit both desire and arousal in men. This can result in ED, PE, or just lackluster sexual encounters.

Tips for managing sexual inhibitors

While most of us know that creating intimate contexts (walks on the beach, wine by the fire) can boost our sexual functioning, we often don’t address what inhibits us. Something as simple as a tough day at work or tax season can kill the mood for hours-to-weeks. Since we don’t recommend you quit your job or evade your taxes in the name of sexual wellness, here are some tips to manage those sex-inhibitors.

Stay in the moment

For one week, keep track of triggers that turn you off, then identify which ones you can control or reduce. The trick here is to consistently remove as many sexual blocks as you can. Even better if you can replace those blocks with sexual instigators. 

Watching the news or scrolling through your phone before bed can be both distracting and subtly stressful. If you can, try unplugging completely after work. Go for a walk or run with your partner a few days a week instead of braving traffic on the way to the gym. Replace time on your phone with books, card games, or short, simple meditations or breath work. If making dinner every night stresses you out, give yourself permission to order out or pay for a meal delivery kit a few nights a week. If you feel too exhausted at night, try instituting a stricter sleep routine, and/or leaving time for intimacy in the morning when you’re rested.

 Since your brakes/gas system is unique to you, your plan for managing it will be, too.

Herbs to relax

 Ashwagandha is an adaptogen that with regular use reduces cortisol levels as well as feelings of depression and anxiety, which can in turn make you more receptive to sexual contexts. Blends that pair Ashwaghanda with soothing herbs like valerian and hops (yep, the same hops that’s in beer) bring out its calming properties.

If you want to elevate your mood, try ashwagandha blends that incorporate St. John’s wort. One 2016 review of 35 research studies of St. John’s wort concluded that its effects were comparable to antidepressant medication. If you’re currently taking medications, be sure to talk to your health care provider before adding herbs to your routine since they can affect the way you metabolize certain common pharmaceuticals.  

Don’t try too hard

Sex is complicated. It can create life, for one. It can also communicate intimacy or reveal relationship rifts, lead to pleasure or disappointment, resolve arguments or start them, and lift or deepen anxiety. In other words, sex is not a problem to be solved—it’s an ongoing negotiation between your feelings, your body, your partner(s), and the circumstances of your life. For the best results, be kind to yourself and patient with your body as you explore these new self-care options.

How non-GMOs help honey bees

At Crystal Star, we love honey bees—they help propagate fruits, vegetables, nuts, and many of the flowering herbs we use in our products. Like honeybees, we know that small contributions can lead to big benefits. That’s why we support both the Honey Bee Health Coalition and non-GMO formulas as part of our mission to support healthy people in a healthy world.

Even better news? Herbs used in natural supplements in general aren’t genetically modified, even if they don’t have a certification sticker.  That’s because most genetic engineering targets cash crops like corn, wheat, and soy, in an effort to keep costs down while increasing yield. Herbs (happily) aren’t profitable enough to draw the attention of gene-altering agribusinesses—though herbs modified for pharmaceutical use are another story. 

GMOs have their public-health and papaya-saving  upsides, but they come with costs, too. One 1999 study found that pollen from genetically modified corn kills monarch butterfly larvae in lab tests, and a 2012 study concluded that “Roundup Ready” crops led to increased pesticide use and declines in milkweed—the primary food source for monarch caterpillars.

While there’s no direct evidence that genetically modified plants hurt honey bees, GMO-enabled monocultures and the herbicides and pesticides growers spray on many GMO crops do.When you support non-GMO plants, growers and businesses, you also support a return to diversified and sustainable agriculture.

What your yeast infections are telling you

Yeast-Post.jpg

For most women, yeast infections are an occasional nuisance. Forget to change out of your wet bikini and twelve hours later you’re cradling a box of Monistat 3 in the CVS checkout line. But for some of us those infections keep coming back, no matter how many tubs of Greek yogurt we eat. Why, and how do we break the cycle?

Imbalance ≠ invasion

Our microbiomes are powerful, intricate ecosystems that regulate normal body processes and protect us from disease.  In other words, the mix of bacteria, archaea , viruses, fungi and in and on our bodies can affect our immune response, our skin health, and even our weight.

 Repeated courses of antibiotics and diets low in fiber and high in processed foods (looking at you, toaster pastry) can lead to systemic imbalances in our microbiomes. So can stress and pH-altering soaps and detergents.

Most yeast infections occur when otherwise healthy Candida albicans yeast overpopulates the vaginal canal, or when it penetrates into deeper cell layers. The latter happens when the mucous lining is compromised—think vaginal dryness or irritation from douching, hormonal changes, medications, spermicides, or other types of infection.

Yeast isn't so bad once you get to know it

Yeast isn't so bad once you get to know it

Disinfect your laundry

Most household water heaters are set to about 120°F and dryers usually max out at 135°. But Candida albicans can survive in temperatures up to 15, so your underwear may continue to harbor yeast even after washing, making you susceptible to reinfection. To kill yeast while protecting laundry colors, add 5-10 drops of lavender or tea tree essential oil with your detergent and a cup of white vinegar to your rinse cycle. If you’re washing whites, hydrogen peroxide bleach is an excellent antifungal that’s gentler than chlorine bleach. If you can, hang-dry your laundry outside—UV light kills most yeast and bacteria.  

Boost your probiotics

Probiotics, particularly Lactobacillus strains rhamnosus and reuteri can have powerful Candida-regulating properties, but oral supplements and fermented foods alone probably aren’t enough to maintain vaginal health. Enter prebiotics.   

Prebiotics are foods that help fuel colonies of beneficial bacteria in the colon, and are usually high in fiber. Leafy greens are good bets, as are bananas, asparagus, avocados, brown rice, legumes, and alliums like garlic and onion. Add these foods to your daily diet and they’ll help your probiotics balance your microbiome over time. 

Try herbs

Check overgrowth

If you have an active infection, try supplementing with fungus-inhibiting herbs like olive leaf and pau d’arco. Look for blends that include immunity-supporting herbs like siberian eleuthero.

Support your hormones

Hormonal birth control may make you more vulnerable to yeast infections, so consider asking your doctor for alternatives—particularly if you suspect your birth control is causing vaginal dryness, painful sex, or thinning tissue.  

If you’ve reached menopause, herbs like sarsaparilla, and black cohosh can encourage healthy hormone balance, which fortifies vaginal tissue. These herbs work best in synergistic blends. Phytoestrogens  like licorice root may also help improve vaginal atrophy caused by hormonal fluctuations. Look for blends that also contain hormone-helping shatavari and maca.

Get cultured

If you’re still dealing with chronic or recurrent yeast infections after following these steps, consider asking your health care provider for a vaginal culture to figure out which species of bacteria and yeast are causing your symptoms. While Candida albicans is likely to blame, other less common strains of Candida may be at work and could require a different treatment course. It’s also a good idea to ask about underlying health conditions like diabetes, which can lead to high blood sugar levels that feed yeast.

Fungi: not as bad as you think

Fungus gets a bad rap. There’s yeast infections and athlete’s foot and ringworm, for starters, plus a few species of delicious and deadly wild mushrooms. Some researchers classify entire cultures as either mycophilic (mushroom-loving) or mycophobic (mushroom-fearing), with English-speaking societies historically landing in the anti-fungus camp.

But fungus helps us more often than it harms. It’s instrumental in the creation of foods like bread, cheese, wine, kombucha, kefir, and soy sauce. For people of a certain generation or spiritual bent, fungus can even be the wellspring of life-enhancing hallucinogenic experiences (writer and Baby Boomer Michael Pollan writes about his late-life mushroom trip in How To Change Your Mind).

Mounting scientific evidence shows that trees rely on fungus networks to share nutrients and communicate through hormonal signals and electrical impulses, making fungus a hybrid circulatory-system-internet of the natural world. If you’re struggling with yeast infections, remember that fungus is a champion regulator and communicator—it may only be telling you that your body needs some help rebalancing itself.

Don’t wait out uterine fibroids

What are Fibroids and how to prevent them.jpg

Up to 70% of all women will develop uterine fibroids by age 50. About 25% of us will go on to develop symptoms ranging from heavy menstrual bleeding to staggering pelvic pain. And while fibroids rarely threaten our lives or fertility, they can require surgery in severe cases. But for most of us, our fibroids are mild-to-moderate, waxing and waning throughout our reproductive years until (we hope) the hormonal shifts at menopause bring balance and relief.

While no treatment is guaranteed to prevent fibroids, at-home care to manage your hormones means you don’t have to wait until menopause to feel at home in your body.

What causes fibroids?

Uterine fibroids are benign tissue growths that appear on uterine walls. While your genes contribute to your risk of developing fibroids, your hormones also play a significant role. Exposure to hormone disrupting chemicals like pesticides and BPA in plastics can stimulate fibroid growth, as can obesity, a diet rich in red meat, and even some hormonal birth control.

Researchers continue to study the effects of plant-based estrogens like isoflavones in soy, which may increase fibroid risk in infants fed soy formula. That said, moderate intake of organic whole-soy products like tofu and miso (as opposed to highly-processed products like soy-based formula, milk, and supplements that contain high concentrations of isoflavones) is likely safe and may even reduce breast cancer risk in non-pregnant or nursing adult women.

If all this sounds like a fibroid-inducing minefield, don’t worry. Our hormones are incredibly responsive to positive changes in our diet, environment, and lifestyle.

Nutritional support

Foods to add

High-fiber diets decrease your body’s circulating estrogen, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and brussel sprouts also contain indole-3-carbinol, a compound that helps your body metabolize estrogen. Sea greens like dulse and nori are a good source of iodine, another potential estrogen regulator.

Try to get most of your protein from plant sources like beans, nuts, seeds, quinoa, brown rice, sprouts, and avocado. Low-mercury seafoods and hormone-free poultry are also safe choices, as are hormone-free fermented dairy products like yogurt and kefir, which contain anti-tumor-forming calcium, vitamin D, and butyric acid. This tool can calculate your recommended daily protein intake.

Foods to avoid

Reduce alcohol and caffeine intake—research shows that high coffee consumption may spur estrogen production, leading to fibroid growth. Try substituting your morning joe with a cup or two of fibroid-fighting green tea. Green tea contains less than half the caffeine of coffee, along with antioxidants and l-theanine, a calming amino acid that counteracts that “wired” feeling you get from caffeine.

Eliminate fibroid-aggravating red meats as well as sugary foods, which increase systemic inflammation and fat deposits, which in turn raise circulating estrogen levels.

Herbs and Supplements

Get ahead of your cycle

If you’re still menstruating, try starting a protocol once your last period ends. Look for herbal blends that target inflammation and pain while supporting healthy tissue. A good formulation will contain herbs like ginger, pau d’arco, goldenseal, and red raspberry. Bonus points for blends that contain maitake mushroom—preliminary studies show that it may slow tumor growth. Use as directed until your next period begins.

Use as suggested until your next period begins.

Once your period begins, switch over to a formula that supports balanced hormones as well as occasional discomfort and inflammation. Goldenseal and red raspberry are still good bets, but look for additional herbs like uva ursi, cramp bark, and Jamaican dogwood. Consider blends that include rehmannia, which Chinese Medicine regards as a potent tonic for blood circulation. Some studies have found that blends containing rehmannia may even improve pain and fertility outcomes in endometriosis patients. Use this blend as suggested for the duration of your period, then switch back to the first one. Repeat this protocol for three to four cycles.  

Not menstruating? Stick to the first blend in this protocol for three to four months.

Support your liver

Our livers produce enzymes that metabolize most of our body’s estrogen, so give it some love for all that hard work. Try a cup of dandelion root tea after dinner to stimulate bile production (another liver function), which yields the added benefit of breaking down and assimilating fats and fat-soluble vitamins.

Milk thistle may also support liver function and can aid with indigestion. While some online sources caution that milk thistle has estrogen-like effects, this inference is based on studies of silymarin, a concentrated, flavonoid , extract of milk thistle. As with soy, it’s the processing that’s the problem—whole-herb milk thistle is more likely to help with your fibroid management than to hinder it. If you’re still uneasy about milk thistle and prefer to avoid it, that’s okay. CoQ-10 is a potent antioxidant that also shows promise in treating inflammatory liver conditions. Try supplementing with 100mg daily.☼

Mind and Bodywork

Make friends with stress

Stress can affect your hormone levels, but believing that stress can harm you may be the bigger risk to your health. How to stop stressing about stress? Make friends with it through mindfulness practices. Daily free guided meditations that take as little as 10 minutes a day can reduce the impact of stress and help manage chronic pain. Stress is part of life and innate to any act of commitment or bravery, from starting a new job or family, to learning to dance or driving in rush hour traffic.

Health care providers trained in biofeedback can also help you learn how to calm your nervous system and some at-home gadgets let you perform biofeedback, (or a brain-wave based subset called neurofeedback) with your smartphone.

Exercise

Research shows that regular, vigorous exercise may help prevent fibroid onset. If rowing machines and jumping jacks aren’t your thing, sign up for a dance or vinyasa yoga class. For a low-impact workout, try cycling, swimming or water aerobics classes.  

Keep your providers in the loop

Update your health care providers on any herbs or other supplements you may be taking, as well as any changes in your diet and exercise. Fibroids are common, but pain is not inevitable. Natural food and lifestyle choices can help manage fibroids, and even help you recover from surgical or pharmaceutical interventions.

☼ CoQ10 may reduce the effectiveness of blood thinning drugs like Warfarin. Consult with your doctor on the remedies you’re taking.


Back pain relief: what you haven’t tried

Back pain relief and herbal remedies from Crystal Star

Back pain is tricky to manage. It can be sharp or dull, chronic or unpredictable, and it’s often a symptom of multiple issues involving both your body and your mind. Worse? Treatments offering fast relief can be outright scary.

In the United States, over a decade of pharmaceutical quick-fixes has created a devastating epidemic of opioid addiction, derailing and ending thousands of lives. Even your friendly over-the-counter pain relievers come with risks. Studies dating as far back as 1986 show that NSAIDS like naproxen and ibuprofen are associated with gastrointestinal inflammation and permeability, a.k.a. leaky gut syndrome.

The good news? The more insight researchers gain into the mind-body connection and plant-based healing, the more options we have to safely manage our back pain, and our health, at home.

What causes back pain?

Unfortunately, lots of things. Emotional stress, shoes, mattresses, chairs, computers, dehydration, nutritional deficiencies, injury, and chronic health conditions like arthritis or scoliosis. In short, (modern) living.

But while our back pain may be a modern woe, many of the care principles below are time-tested and in some cases, ancient. These simple, low-cost, and safe adjustments to your self-care routine can go a long way towards reducing your pain.

Consult with your doctor before attempting at-home care if you have a herniated disc or scoliosis, new, sharp, or debilitating pain, or mobility issues. Otherwise, feel free to try our healing protocols below. You know your body best, so listen to it throughout this process and most of all be kind and patient with yourself as you establish new habits. Gradual improvement is often the most lasting.   

Nutritional support

Foods to add

Dull back pain that doesn’t respond to heat, rest, or manual therapies may be due to dehydration, and insufficient protein or essential minerals like calcium can also play a role. Aim to drink between 8 and 12 glasses of water daily (you should rarely feel thirsty) and eat plenty of plant proteins like beans, brown rice, or tofu. Shellfish, fish, and protein-rich sea-greens like kelp, dulse, or nori are also rich in vital minerals like sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and iron.

Stock up on anti-inflammatory foods like fresh and steamed vegetables and juices, sprouted whole grains, miso soups, brown rice, umeboshi plums, lemons and limes.

Foods to avoid

Cut back on inflammatory foods like sugar, red meats, caffeine, and dairy (except for yogurt and kefir). Overall, it’s a good idea to reduce fat—the greater the fat deposits in your body, the greater the risk of spinal disc degeneration.

Herbs, Superfoods, and Supplements

The herbs and superfoods below contain a wealth of non-addictive bioactives that can help address back pain, tension, and inflammation. Depending on the type of pain you’re experiencing, supplements may also give you some relief. Plan to incorporate no more than two or three of these recommendations at a time.

Ease tense muscles

Back pain is often the result of strained or overworked muscles, so start with a blend containing pain-targeting herbs like cramp bark, Jamaican dogwood, black haw, and rosemary. A good formulation will include assisting herbs like valerian, red raspberry, and St. John’s wort.

 Soothe inflammation

If your pain persists, try addressing inflammation. For best effect over the long-term, combine an herbal blend with protease like pineapple-derived bromelain to help your body assimilate bioactives (1). An effective blend will use an anti-inflammatory like turmeric and include supporting herbs like Gotu kola, Jamaican dogwood, burdock, and white willow (which contains a compound similar to aspirin). Aloe-based drinks are also an excellent way to harness the power of this anti-inflammatory superfood.

If you suspect nerve inflammation, potassium is key. Take 500mg daily, or try a more readily-absorbed potassium-rich green drink. 200mg daily of Coenzyme Q-10 can also assist with nerve pain, as can herbal blends containing devil’s claw. (2)

CBD oil for back pain?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-psychoactive compound that comes from either marijuana or hemp —two different plant varieties of the Cannabis sativa species. Legal confusion aside, CBD acts on the body’s natural cannabinoid receptors, which help regulate sleep, appetite, pain, and other functions. In other words, CBD is a promising option for back pain management, but we recommend you read up on dosing best practices before beginning a protocol. Every body will react to CBD differently and it can interact with certain medications, so check with your doctor to make sure you’re in the clear.

Bodywork

Heat

Don’t knock heat until you’ve tried it. Stress-related tension tends to accumulate in the lower back, neck and shoulders, and daily heat wraps or pads can act as natural muscle relaxers. Microwavable pads containing chamomile or lavender add clinically-proven calming effects to your routine.

Cold

Heat not bringing relief? Switch to inflammation-calming ice packs if your pain lasts over 48 hours

Yoga (with caveats) 

Yoga can be wonderful for back hygiene and stress management, but as with most physical activity it’s important to listen to your body during your practice. If you’re a first-time practitioner, look for foundational studio classes or online videos that show you how to protect your spine and joints, especially during forward-folds and backbends. More than passively recreating shapes, the real benefits of yoga arrive when you purposely engage certain muscle groups in certain postures, and the best teachers will offer modifications that assist all body types and abilities.

When to call a professional

Knowledge is power, but too much knowledge is overwhelming. If you aren’t sure where to begin, consult with an integrative physician or naturopath, or give our staff herbalist a call. Massage therapists, acupuncturists, osteopaths, and chiropractors can offer relief, and if the idea of spinal adjustments makes you uncomfortable, ask your chiropractor for alternatives. Whatever your first step, know that your pain matters and there are many paths to healing it.   

(1) High doses of bromelain or other protease may affect bleeding and should be used with caution.

(2) CoQ10 may reduce the effectiveness of blood thinning drugs like Warfarin. Consult with your doctor on the remedies you’re taking.

Is the Paleo Diet All It Promises?

What is the Paleo diet?

The Paleo diet is loosely based on the diet consumed by humans 10,000 years ago before the advent of modern agriculture and grain centered eating. Modern paleo eating consists of:  fish, grass-fed meats, eggs, unlimited vegetables and fruit, most nuts, and some oils (avocado, flaxseed, coconut). For grain sensitive people, it’s both gluten-free, and grain-free. Paleo excludes: grains, dairy, beans and other legumes (including peanuts), fruit juices, potatoes, refined sugar, salt, and refined oils.

Positive Praise for Paleo…

Paleo offers abundant fresh foods. For people who have relied too much on refined carbohydrates and processed foods, Paleo offers a chance to restart your diet with more fresh foods, fruit and vegetables, and healthier meats.

Paleo recommends grass fed meats and many organic foods. Paleo promotes organic animal foods that have been raised more humanely. Grass fed meats are notably higher in healthy essential fats, and lower in saturated fat than commercial meats. Grass fed meats also contain more vitamins E, beta-carotene, and vitamin C. Organic meats also avoid antibiotic and hormone loading notorious in factory farm animals. (Antibiotics and hormones in your food mean antibiotics and hormones in your body.)

Paleo gets the junk out. There is no more fast food or eating out of a box with Paleo. Paleo dieters shop the perimeter of the grocery store where the real food is. Most Paleo meals are prepared at home, a bonus for more control of portions and healthy ingredients. In many ways, Paleo is moving in the right direction for health, but there are drawbacks.

Paleo eating can produce weight loss for a time. Most people I’ve spoken with initially lose 10 pounds or so before they hit both an energy and weight loss plateau on Paleo. Unfortunately, most people find it difficult to stick to Paleo eating (like most diets), or they eventually overeat fat and meat to make up for a lack of complex carbohydrates.

Problems with Paleo

The “Paleo” diet isn’t really Paleolithic. Evidence suggests ancient humans were opportunistic omnivores, scavenging tubers, twigs, animal foods and just about anything they could hunt or find. Paleolithic man’s diet relied much more on nuts, fruits and leaves, than meat. Meat was only occasionally eaten after a successful hunt or was scavenged from a carcass time to time.

Modern Paleo relies too heavily on meat and contains too much saturated fat. A high meat diet doesn’t work well for weight loss over the long-term, and is linked to cardiovascular disease, and many cancers. Further, raising food animals is very resource demanding. Plant-based diets are clearly more Earth friendly, sparing more water and land, and producing less pollution. And while organic meats are healthier than commercial meats, they are too costly for most people for every day eating. A plant-based diet is still the best for health, and the most cost and resource effective.

A Paleolithic diet may not be as health protective as you think. Some evidence suggests that Paleolithic man was as prone to clogged arteries as modern man. Additionally, although refined carbohydrates offer few benefits, bacteria in modern man’s gut has evolved to be able to digest healthy whole grains and other high fiber foods easily.

High protein diets can be taxing to the kidneys and may not provide enough energizing nutrients for people who engage in sports or intensive exercise.

High protein diets like the Paleo diet are notorious for causing fatigue, especially for people who engage in sports or intensive exercise. A lack of complex carbohydrates can leave the body drained with few reserves for sustained energy throughout the day. For people who work out intensely, a Paleo diet also may leave nutritional gaps or even slow down weight loss.

A Plant Based Diet Is Better for Weight Loss and Health

While refined grains have been hybridized and genetically altered to the point where they can no longer be considered part of a healthy diet, whole grains contain a wealth of nutrients, high fiber and complex carbohydrates to include in a healthy, plant based diet. Today Lotus Food, Rice Select, Vita Spelt, Simply Balanced and Eden Foods all offer an excellent selection of non-GMO verified whole grains.

Can Vegetarians Go Low Carb?

While it’s not easy, even vegans and vegetarians can go low carb to accelerate weight loss temporarily. For people stuck on weight loss plateau, it’s a great way to jumpstart weight loss because your body shifts into burning fats for fuel instead of carbohydrates.

To minimize fatigue and low carb burn out, try reducing the amount of grains you’re using gradually rather than all of a sudden. One option is to cut out high carb foods after lunch. This especially helps reduce excess fat and sugar storage in the evening when you are less active.

 For a low carb, plant based diet, include high protein/ fiber foods like: quinoa, chia seed, flax seed, hemp protein, spirulina and other blue-green algaes, beans (all kinds), and eggs (if not vegan). You need to become creative for this type of diet to work, but today there is an abundance of good tips online and in vegetarian cook books.

For people who want try a modified Paleo diet, whole 30 is a good choice, and is only a month’s commitment.

The Demodex Connection to Rosacea Outbreaks

demodex(1).jpg

Research suggests human demodex, a microscopic mite, is potential contributor to rosacea. Numerous studies have found it appears in higher numbers on the skin of people with rosacea, particularly on rosacea bumps and pimples (papulopustular rosacea).

For some time, it has not been clear whether the mites actually cause the rosacea or whether a person with rosacea's immune system reacts sensitively to them. However, a new study suggests altered immune response may be involved. A new study from the National University of Ireland-Maynooth found bacteria present on the mite (Bacillus oleronius) caused an immune response in rosacea patients.

Typically, treatment to reduce the mites/bacteria (Metronidazole) reduces skin inflammation and relieves rosacea. In the herb world, we use herbs like cat's claw, pau d'arco, and goldenseal infused in a topical aloe vera gel (Immune Support gel) to keep skin balanced, cool and calm.

Rosacea Relief


Rosacea is a skin disorder related to adult acne occurring mainly in middle-aged people of Celtic descent, and menopausal women. There is no known cure for acne rosacea. Doctors treat it in much the same way as other forms of acne, with oral and topical antibiotics. It has clear food and environmental triggers like: tomatoes, red spices, chocolate, meat marinades, hot drinks, citrus fruits, vinegar, both white and red wine, and red meats. Hot weather and stress aggravate rosacea. Some evidence suggest it is caused by a parasitic mite, human demodex.

Signs That You May Have Rosacea

•Flushing and redness of the cheeks, chin, nose, and forehead
•Acne-like bumps and pimples; small, hard bumps on both eyelids
•Dilated blood vessels on the face
•A red, bumpy nose; bloodshot eyes or gritty feeling in eyes


Effective natural therapies:  • Stay well hydrated. Drink plenty of quality water and eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Avoid excess alcohol and smoking which contribute to dehydration.

Add plenty of • EFAs to your diet - Evening Primrose Oil 2000mg daily, or Total EFA, or add Omega-3 rich flax or perilla oil in your salad dressings.

 Add • seaweeds to your diet 2 tbsp. daily, or take •  Ocean Minerals with sea veggies. Applications • Fruit Enzyme Mist and apply Yoanna Cucumber Pearl Moisturizer to nourish and reduce redness.

Herbal First Aid for Kids

 4.1.1

The Following Teas Are Effective For Many Childhood Illnesses
• Elder flowers, boneset (bitter), yarrow with peppermint to induce a cleansing sweat
• Catnip/chamomile/rosemary tea to reduce a rash
• Mullein/lobelia, chamomile, or scullcap to relax
• Catnip, fennel, ginger, chamomile and peppermint for upset stomachs
• Elderberry syrup for sore throats and for interrupted sleep caused by coughing
• Dilute Crystal Star D-Congest spray to help clear chest congestion
• A catnip/lemon balm/cinnamon combo tea for warming against chills
• Echinacea drops in water every 4 hours to clear lymph glands and release infection.

Note: Use probiotics for children's health. Acidophilus makes a big difference in both recovery time and immune response. Acidophilus keeps friendly bacteria in the G.I. tract, especially if the child has taken a course of antibiotics. Use ¼ tsp. at a time in water or juice 3 to 4 times daily.

Dealing with Allergies to Makeup and Personal Care Products

    Multiple chemical sensitivities and allergic contaminant reactions are multiplying in every area of our lives today. An abundance of the chemicals that generate allergies and sensitivities are in cosmetics and beauty products. Heredity plays a role in our potential to cosmetic sensitivities, but the daily onslaught from environmental toxins, and free radical damage from chemicals and the aging process impact cosmetic beauty far more. If you’re someone with sensitive skin, or whose system can’t tolerate this chemical overload, all-natural, non-chemical body care and beauty products may be for you.  

Can you really make your own herbal cosmetics?
    Yes, you can .... and it’s easy!

    If you experience redness, itchiness or breakouts to drugstore or department store cosmetics, you may be reacting to their chemical irritants
When you make your own herbal cosmetics, you’re in control. You know everything they contain, you know each ingredient is pure and natural and if it’s something good for your body. You can personalize your cosmetic recipes for your own needs.

Making your own cosmetics is like trying a new recipe; these are essentially “kitchen cosmetics.” You can make herbal compounds for your eyes, nails, skin, hair, smile and feet. You’ll need a little patience and a little trial and error as you get the hang of it. Their simplicity is part of their charm. There are no harsh chemicals to irritate your body or the environment, and their subtle effects can bring out a more naturally beautiful you!   
 
It’s wonderful to be able to use freshly picked herbs in your cosmetics. You might even want to plant a small herb garden as your own personal beauty aid! However, the herbal compounds in this section can be made with both dried or fresh herbs. Dried herbs equal about one-half the volume of fresh herbs. One cup fresh equals 1/4 to 1/2 cup dry. Try to use distilled water or purified water rather than highly fluoridated tap water.
 

Here are some of the tools and supplies you’ll need.
    beeswax
    funnels
    enamel pots and bowls
    measuring cups, spoons
    clean glass jars
    clean glass or plastic containers for creams and liquids
    wire sieve
    small food scale
    apple cider vinegar
    witch hazel
    eggs, wire whip or egg beater
    tincture of benzoin (purchase from the drug store)
    cheesecloth
    wooden spoon
    herbs from a garden or the health food store

A few of my recipes:

Lips and smile beauty tip.....
        1:  Make your own natural, moisturizing lip gloss. Gently heat 6 tablespoons sweet almond or sesame oil with 1 tablespoon beeswax til just melted. Remove from heat and whisk in 2 teaspoons honey, and 12 drops of your favorite essential oil for flavor (cinnamon, peppermint or anise oil are good choices). I use this gloss without color as a good lip conditioner under my lipstick, or as a moisturizing finisher on top of lipstick. For a colored gloss, blend in about 1/2 tube of your favorite all natural, lipstick from the health food store, or add a few drops of beet juice while gloss is still hot. Whisk until cool to prevent separation. Add flavor oil after gloss has cooled.
        2:  Use the same method to make a healing lip balm for dry, chapped lips. Reduce the amount of almond or sesame oil to 5 tablespoons, and add healing agents of 11/2 teaspoons each St. John’s wort oil and calendula oil, and 2 teaspoons aloe vera gel. I like essential oil of vanilla for flavor.

Herbs that intensify and enhance hair color:
        1:  To add sheen to dark hair, rinse your hair with sage or rosemary tea after shampooing.
        2:  To add golden highlights to mousy, brown hair, rinse with chamomile/lemon tea.
        3:  Rinse hair after shampooing with nettles tea to darken and shine brown hair.
        4:  Is your dark hair starting to gray but you don’t want to use chemical hair color? If your hair hasn’t been chemically treated try a natural darkener: to 2 qts. boiling water add one handful each -  dry sage, dry nettles, dry rosemary, cut black walnut hulls, chopped dry dulse and cut black tea (any kind). Immediately remove from heat, cover and let steep for 4 hours. Add 1 tablespoon wheat germ oil. Refrigerate for three weeks. Strain and put liquid into bottles. Work a generous amount into hair after shampooing, leave on 10 minutes and rinse out.
        5:  Is your blonde hair fading, but chemical hair color isn’t for you? Try my marigold/lemon rinse for summer blonde highlights.I have used this rinse for many years; it looks best (blonde, not brassy) on non-chemically treated hair. Mix 1 cup of dry marigold flowers, 1 cup dry chamomile flowers, 1/2 cup lemon peel, 1/2 cup cut burdock root. Heat two quarts apple cider vinegar (for body and shine) and pour over herbs in a gallon jar. Store in a cool garage or basement, shaking every 24 hours for 7 days. Place a double piece of cheesecloth on top of the jar and strain off vinegar. Put liquid in bottles, and use 2 to 3 tablespoons in a cup of warm water as a hair rinse several times a week during the summer. Leave on 2 minutes, then rinse.

    What about henna? Is it a good choice for hair coloring?
        1:  Henna is a natural non-carcinogenic plant used for centuries for nail, body and hair coloring. It offers hair extra body while it colors - often dramatically. Henna works best on thin, light porous hair.
        2:  To add gold highlights to darker hair, add chamomile powder to henna hair color.

These are just a few examples of what you can do at home for non-toxic personal care and cosmetics. There are also many fine paraben-free, natural personal care products and cosmetics at your local health food store.
 

Interested in learning more? Here are a few excellent resources:

Jeanne Rose, Herbal Body Book, March 2000

Yoanna Kanalakis, Secrets to Looking Young Naturally, 2014

Zia Welsey Hosford, Face Value for Women over 35, 1990

Herbal Preparation & Delivery Methods

    Today, herbs are available at all quality levels. Today, we are able to simultaneously obtain and use herbs from different countries and different harvests, an advantage ages past did not enjoy. However, because of the natural variety of soils, seeds, and weather, every crop of botanicals is unique. Every batch of a truly natural herbal formula is slightly different, and offers its own unique benefits and experience.
    There must be a firm commitment to excellence from growers and suppliers everywhere, because herbal combinations are products for problems. For therapeutic success, herbs must be BIO-ACTIVE and BIO-AVAILABLE. If you decide to make your own herbal preparations, buy the finest quality herbs you can find. There is a world of disparity between fairly good herbs and the best. Superior stock must go into a medicinal formula so that the herbal product can do its job correctly. Superior plants cost far more than standard stock, but their worth in healing activity is a true value for the health care customer. Third party certifications like NSF, Non-GMO Project, Certified Organic and stringent in house quality control testing on herbs can help provide assurance that the herbs you are purchasing have been held to rigorous industry standards for quality and efficacy. Herbal suppliers will give you plenty of good information on their commitment to quality before you buy.
    
    Which type of herbal preparation should you choose?

 4.1.1

    Whichever herbal preparation form you choose, it is generally better to take greater amounts at the beginning of your program, to build a good internal healing base, and to stimulate your body’s vital balancing force more quickly. As the therapeutic agents establish and build, and you begin to notice good response, reduce your dose gradually, finally reducing to long range preventive amounts.
 
    Herbs can be applied to almost any necessity of life. It’s simply a matter of knowing their properties, how they work together and how to use them correctly. Herbs are foods, and your body knows how to use them. Give them time. Give yourself a good diet, some rest and relaxation for the best results.
    …Herbal teas are the most basic of all healing mediums — easily absorbed by the body as hot liquid. They are the least concentrated of all herbal forms, but many herbs are optimally effective when steeped in hot water. The hot brewing water releases herbal potency and provides a flushing action that is ideal for removing toxic, loosened wastes. Although teas have milder, more subtle effects than capsules or extracts, they are sometimes the only way for a weakened system to accept therapeutic support, and often work synergistically with stronger medicinal forms to boost their value.
    Note 1: Volatile essential oils are lost during cutting of herbs for tea bags. For best results, buy cut herbs or crumble leaves and flowers, and break roots and barks into pieces before steeping for best results.
    Note 2: Medicinal teas may have bitter tasting properties. Where taste is unpleasant, I add mint, lemon peel, spices, or stevia (sweet herb) to improve taste without harming therapeutic qualities.

    Tips on taking herbal teas:
        1: Use 1 packed small teaball to 3 cups of water for medicinal-strength tea. Use distilled water or pure spring water for increased herbal strength and effectiveness.
        2:  Bring water to a boil, remove from heat, add herbs and steep covered off heat; 10 to 15 minutes for a leaf-flower tea; 15 to 25 minutes for a root-bark tea. Keep lid down during steeping so volatile oils don’t escape.
        3:  Use a teapot of glass, ceramic or earthenware, not aluminum. Aluminum can negate the effect of the herbs as the metal dissolves into the hot liquid and gets into the body.
        4:  Drink medicinal teas in small sips throughout the day rather than all at once. One-half to 1 cup, taken 3 or 4 times over a day allows absorption of the tea, without passing before it has a chance to work.

    …An infusion is a tea made from fresh, dried or powdered herbs. Use directions above, or pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1 tablespoon of fresh herb, 1 teaspoon of dried herb, or 4 opened capsules of powdered herbs. Cover and let steep 10 to 15 minutes. Never boil. A cold infusion can be made by simply allowing the herbs, especially powders, to stand in cool water for an hour or more.
    …A decoction is a tea made from roots and barks. Use directions above, or put 2 tablespoons of cut herb pieces into 1 cup cold water. Bring to a light boil, cover, and simmer gently for 20 to 30 minutes. Strain. For best results, repeat the same process with the same herbs. Strain again and mix both batches.
    …Sun tea is an infusion where herbs are put in a covered jar and allowed to stand in the sun.
    …Herbal broths, rich in minerals and enzymes, are made by grinding dry ingredients in a blender. Simply mix 2 TBS. of dry mix to 2 cups hot water. Let flavors bloom for 5 minutes. Add 1 tsp. Bragg’s liquid aminos to each broth for a flavor-nutrient boost if desired. Sip over a half-hour period for best assimilation.
    …Herbal capsules are generally four times stronger than teas, more concentrated, yet bypass any herbal bitterness and are convenient to take. Capsules make both oil and water soluble herbs available through stomach acid and enzyme alteration. Freeze-dried powdered herbs, with all the moisture removed, are also available in capsules, and are four times more concentrated than regular ground herbs. As noted with herbal teas above, grinding herbs into powders creates facets on the whole herb structure causing potential loss of volatile oils. Effective potency for powdered herbs is six months to 2 years.
    …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, bypassing the digestive system’s acid-alkaline breakdown. Their strength and ready availability make extracts reliable emergency measures. Small doses may be used repeatedly over a period of time to help build a strong base for restoring body balance. Alcohol based herbal extractions can last for up to 5 years if stored correctly.
   ....Herbal gels allow absorption of herbs through the skin. We use aloe vera as a conduit in our gels to deliver the extracted herbs quickly to the target area. Use gels topically as needed for problems like cut, scrapes, scars and more.

Do You Need A Gallstone Cleanse?


In the United States, high bile cholesterol levels are the main cause of gallstones (bile cholesterol levels do not necessarily correlate with blood cholesterol levels). Gallstones form when bile liquid (made in the liver, then stored in the gallbladder to help the body digest fats) hardens into bits of stone-like material. A stone may grow for 6 to 8 years before symptoms occur. Since continued formation of gallstones is dependent on either an increased accumulation of cholesterol or reduced levels of bile acids or lecithin, it’s easy to see that anywhere along the way, diet improvement will deter, even arrest, stone development.

Important note: Although I have personally seen several gallstone sufferers use the 9 day program. I recommend it only under the supervision of a qualified health professional. The liver and gallbladder are interconnecting, interworking organs. Problems with either affect both. Before undertaking a Gallstone Flush to pass gallstones, have an ultrasound test to determine the size of the stones. If they are too large to pass through the urethral ducts, other methods must be used.


The Nine-Day Gallstone Flush Plan

Note: If olive oil is hard for you to take straight, sip it through a straw.
3 Day Olive Oil And Juice Flush
On rising: take 2 tbsp. olive oil and juice of 1 lemon in water. Sip through a straw if desired.
Breakfast: have a glass of organic apple juice.
Mid-morning: have 2 cups of chamomile or cascara tea.
Lunch: take another glass of lemon juice and olive oil in water; and a glass of fresh apple juice.
Mid-afternoon: have 2 cups of chamomile or cascara tea.
Dinner: have a glass of carrot/beet/cucumber juice; or a potassium juice or broth.
Before bed: take another cup of chamomile tea.
Follow With A 5 Day Alkalizing Diet
On rising: take 2 tbsp. cider vinegar in water with 1 tsp. honey; or a glass of grapefruit juice.
Breakfast: have a glass of carrot/beet/cucumber juice, or a potassium broth or juice.
Mid-morning: have 2 cups of chamomile tea, and a glass of organic apple juice.
Lunch: a vegetable drink with Pure Planet Chlorella, or Crystal Star Energy Green drink, a green salad with lemon-olive oil dressing and a cup of dandelion tea.   
Mid-afternoon: have 2 cups of chamomile tea, and another glass of apple juice.
Dinner: have a small green salad with lemon-oil dressing, add daikon radish shreds as a gentle diuretic flusher; and another glass of apple juice.
Before bed: 1 cup chamomile or dandelion tea.
End With A 1 Day Olive Oil Flush
At 7 p.m. on the evening of the 5th day of the alkalizing diet, mix 1 pint olive oil and 10 juiced lemons; take ¼ cup every 15 minutes until used. Lie on right side for best assimilation.
Prevent Gallstones From Forming
Increase your fresh fruit and vegetable intake for more fiber. It keeps bad cholesterol deposits from forming and keeps food moving naturally through your system instead of developing deposits which turn into stones. Vegetable proteins from foods like soy, oat bran and sea veggies help prevent gallstone formation. Reduce your animal protein intake, especially dairy foods (casein in dairy foods increases gallstone formation). Avoid fried foods, fast foods and sugary foods altogether if you are at risk for gallstones.


481668711

Do you have Gallbladder problems?

Do You Have Gallbladder Problems? You may not think it’s serious, that it’s just heartburn or indigestion, but if it’s chronic, it could be serious.
•Do you have intense pain in the upper right abdomen during an attack, sometimes accompanied by fever and nausea? (it may be gallstones)
•Do you have periods of nausea, vomiting, fever and intense abdominal pain that radiates to the upper back? (it may be cholecystitis, gallbladder inflammation)
•Do you have recurring abdominal pain, bloating and gas after you eat a heavy meal? along with headaches, sluggishness or nervousness? (it may be gallstones or Crohn’s disease)

Do You Have Gallstones?
In the United States, high bile cholesterol levels are the main cause of gallstones, with most stones (80%) composed of cholesterol and varying amounts of bile salts, bile pigments and inorganic calcium salts. When bile in the gallbladder becomes supersaturated with cholesterol, it combines with other sediment matter present and begins to form a stone. Dietary factors like high blood sugar, high calorie and saturated fat intake that lead to obesity are also involved. A stone may grow for 6 to 8 years before symptoms occur. Continued formation of gallstones is dependent on either increased accumulation of cholesterol or reduced levels of bile acids or lecithin. It’s easy to see that diet improvement will deter, even arrest, gallstones.

Gallstones Can Be Serious
Ninety-five percent of people suffering from cholecystitis have gallstones. If these symptoms sound like you, pay close attention and seek medical help immediately. An ultrasound test provides a definitive diagnosis.


Can You Prevent Kidney Stones?

Kidney stones have long afflicted mankind. Evidence of kidney stones has recently been found in a 7,000 year-old Egyptian mummy! Still, in every decade since World War II,  the U.S. has seen a steady rise in kidney stone cases. Today 10% of American men and 5% of American women have a kidney stone by the time they’re seventy. Kidney stones are a diet-related illness. They are directly linked to dehydration, low dietary fiber, high fats from large amounts of animal protein, sugary foods, and too much alcohol and salt. Notable amounts of unabsorbed calcium (usually from dairy sources or antacids), also play a part.

The above symptoms parallel the rise of the Standard American Diet, full of fat, fried foods, rich dairy products and sugar. Excessive use of antacids and adrenal exhaustion also contribute to kidney stones. Kidney stones form when minerals that normally float free in kidney fluids combine into crystals. When inorganic mineral waste overloads and the body has too little fluid, kidney stones form. There are three types of kidney stones: those composed of calcium salts, the most common type (75-85%), struvite, or non-calcium-containing crystals (10-15%), and uric acid crystals, at about 5-8% occurrence. It takes from 5 to 15 hours of vigorous, urgent treatment to dissolve and pass even small stones.

Kidney Stone Prevention Tips
A vegetarian diet, low in proteins and starches, that emphasizes fresh fruits, vegetables and cultured foods to alkalize the system, is the key to avoiding kidney stone formation. This type of diet is high in fiber to reduce urinary calcium waste. Eliminate caffeine foods, salty, sugary and fried foods and soft drinks that inhibit kidney filtering. Avoid clogging, mucous-forming foods like dairy foods, heavy grains, starches and fats, to relieve irritation and inhibit sediment formation. 

 

All about Gallbladder Disease

Gallstones, Cholecystitis
The gallbladder helps digest fats by producing bile (a compound of cholesterol, bile pigments and salts). But if you eat a lot of fatty and fried foods, gallbladder bile fluids often become saturated with cholesterol, the cholesterol precipitates into solid crystals, then accumulates into stones. The stones enlarge, the gallbladder becomes inflamed, and severe pain that feels like a heart attack ensues. It can be life threatening if left untreated. Stones may also block the bile passage, causing pain and digestive harm. About 20 million Americans have gallstones, and gallbladder cholecystitis (acute gallbladder inflammation); three fourths of them are women.

High risk factors for gallbladder disease include a poor diet with high cholesterol and low bile acids, chronic indigestion and gas from too much dairy and refined sugars, obesity, and Crohn’s disease. Research shows that even birth control pills or HRT, hormone replacement drugs, which change estrogen balance, increase cholesterol production by the liver. Yo-yo dieting increases risk of gallstones. (I personally knew a 64-year-old woman who died from her gallstones that became severe through twenty-five years of yo-yo dieting.)

Gallstones are far easier to prevent than to reverse. Research shows eating just one large orange a day may reduce gallstone risk. The sharp rise of three conditions in America affect our ability to digest cleanly… 1) food allergies - because they affect the ability to digest (eliminate the offending food to stop attacks),  2) parasite infections - because they can lead to calcium composition stones, 3) lack of regular exercise which stagnates digestive activity. 

 

The Kidney Stone Cleanse

Important Note: Drink plenty of water, 8-10 glasses of bottled water each day of your cleanse so that waste and excess minerals are continuously flushed and urine flow does not stagnate. Dehydration is a key factor in kidney stone formation… causing a reduction in urine volume and increasing excretion of stone constituents.
The night before your kidney stone cleanse…Take a cup of chamomile tea. The next day…Take 2 tbsp. olive oil through a straw every 4 hours to help dissolve stones.
On rising: take cranberry juice (from concentrate) in water with 1 tsp. maple syrup; or 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar in water with 1 tsp. honey; and a cup of chamomile tea.
Breakfast: have a glass of cranberry juice, fresh unsweetened lemonade or fresh watermelon juice, or watermelon chunks, or Crystal Star Green Tea Cleanser.
Mid-morning: 1 cup watermelon seed tea (grind seeds, steep in hot water 30 minutes, add honey); or dandelion tea, or Crystal Star Bladder Comfort tea.
Lunch: have a carrot/beet/cucumber juice, and a green leafy salad with cucumbers and sprouts.
Mid-afternoon: have a cup of chamomile tea; and asparagus stalks and carrot sticks with kefir cheese; or fresh apples with kefir or yogurt dip.
Dinner: have brown rice with steamed veggies or steamed asparagus with miso soup and chopped, dry sea veggies; or a baked potato with kefir cheese and a green leafy salad.
Before Bed: take a glass of aloe vera juice and another cup of chamomile tea; or miso with sea veggies chopped on top.
After your cleanse: As you return to solid foods, make sure you eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Even meat eaters have a lower incidence of stones when they add extra fresh fruits and vegetables. Keep salt and protein low for at least 3 weeks. Establish a diet with plenty of fiber. Vitamin K plays a key role in your body’s natural inhibition of kidney stone formation. Make sure you add plenty of green leafy vegetables, sprouts and sea veggies, high in vitamin K.

 

Role of Blood Tests in Diagnosing Cancer by guest blogger Daniel Clarke

Role of Blood Tests in Diagnosing Cancer

If in case, a patient is suspected of having cancer, then the doctor may advise the patient for cancer blood tests or other types of lab tests. Blood tests in no way can tell the doctor about whether the person is suffering from cancer or not, but yes they can give some clues pertaining to it.

Blood tests prove helpful for doctors to diagnose cancer and to monitor how a patient is responding to the treatment. Private blood tests have great significance for diagnosing cancer and further help in better management of health. Your healthcare professional will examine the blood samples to get a fair idea about your general health.

There are some cancer tests for diagnosing cancer which are imaging, genetic testing, blood tests, endoscopic examination and urinalysis. Accurate blood tests are very crucial to provide the best patient care. You can reduce your anxiety by learning how cancer blood tests are carried out, why they are carried out and how they can be helpful to save a person’s life.

Types of Blood Tests for Diagnosing Cancer:

1.    CBC (Complete Blood Count) It is a common laboratory blood test basically used to detect cancer and monitor the response of patient to cancer treatment. This test can prove very useful to detect various health conditions including anaemia, infection, etc.

2.    Tumour Mark TestsFor carrying out this type of test, a surgical specimen and a biopsy sample to carry out test for tumour markers. Blood samples are then sent to a lab and the tumour marker is analysed by making use of special machines.

3.    Blood Protein Testing Protein testing is carried out to examine different types of blood cells present in the blood sample. The abnormality is measured in terms of either too many or few cells of a specific or abnormal cells. Further, a bone marrow biopsy would also be required for the confirmation of a suspected diagnosis.

Significance of Cancer Screening Tests

It is very essential that you should follow cancer screening test schedule so as to prevent detection of cancer in your body at a later or final stage. People would be aware of the fact that chances of treating cancer are much easier at an early stage. For this reason, it is advisable to avoid procrastinating cancer tests. Tests carried out on a timely basis will prove very helpful in saving your life.

Types of Diagnostic Tests

There are numerous methods for diagnosing cancer and advanced tools are also being developed to diagnose cancer. The common diagnostic methods include:

§  BiopsyIn this method, a small tissue sample is surgically examined/removed under a microscope so as to test the presence of cancer cells in it.

§  Endoscopy To carry out this test, a flexible plastic tube with a tiny camera is inserted into body cavities/organs. This allows your physician to view the suspicious area carefully.

§  Diagnostic ImagingIn this type of method, numerous techniques are carried out to produce an internal image of the body and its structure. These techniques are CAT scan, ultrasound, X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), etc.

Thus, it is advisable to get tested at an earlier stage and to take certain precautions against cancer.

Author Bio

Daniel Clark is a renowned healthcare specialist and owns a clinic. He often shares healthcare tips with her readers for their well being. Here, in this post he explains the significance of private blood tests and why such tests are required.

Bladder/Kidney Detox Plan

The urinary system is part of a complex process that maintains your body’s fluid stability. Urinary controls are involved with the brain, hormones, and receptors all over the body. They are smart controls that register what your body needs for fluids. Sometimes, they remove very little salt or water; at other times, they remove a lot. By the way… dehydration is the most common stress on the kidneys. Natural medicine emphasizes the importance of ample, high-quality water for kidney health.

Signs you could benefit from a bladder/kidney detox

cranberries1.jpg

Do you have chronic lower back pain, irritated urination, frequent unexplained chills, fever, or nausea or fluid retention? A gentle, natural, 3 to 5 day cleanse may be just the thing to keep you from getting a full-blown, painful bladder infection.

Bladder Kidney Detox Plan

Start with this 3-day nutrition plan
Water is the key. Drink 8 to 10 glasses of water each day. Bladder and kidneys operate efficiently only if there is sufficient water volume flowing through them to carry away wastes. Avoid dietary irritants on the kidneys, such as coffee, alcohol, and excessive protein.
Note: Avoid commercial antacids during healing. Some NSAID drugs are implicated in kidney failure cases.
The night before your bladder cleanse…
—One cup of bladder cleansing herb tea, like Crystal Star Bladder Comfort tea; Renee Ponder Diuret Herbal tea or uva ursi tea. Add ¼ tsp. non-acidic C crystals.
The next 3 days…
On rising: take 1 lemon squeezed in a glass of water, with 1 tsp. acidophilus liquid; or 3 tsp. cranberry concentrate in a small glass of water, add ¼ tsp. non-acidic vit. C crystals. (Cranberry juice reduces ionized calcium in the urine by over 50% to create an unfavorable environment for urinary tract infections.)
Breakfast: have a glass of watermelon juice or cranberry juice, or Crystal Star Bladder Comfort tea, with ¼ tsp. non-acidic vitamin C crystals or a glass of organic apple juice with ¼ tsp. acidophilus powder.
Mid-morning: take 1 cup watermelon seed tea (grind seeds, steep in hot water 30 minutes, add honey); or a potassium broth with 2 tsp. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos; or an herbal bladder cleansing tea.
Lunch: have a carrot-beet-cucumber juice, or a chlorophyll-rich drink, or a glass of carrot juice.
Mid-afternoon: a cup of bladder herb tea, (parsley/oatstraw, plantain, watermelon seed tea or cornsilk).
Dinner: have carrot juice, add 1 tsp. spirulina powder; or have a cranberry juice, add ¼ tsp. ascorbate vitamin C crystals.
Before Bed: take a glass of papaya or apple juice with ¼ tsp. acidophilus powder.

Improvement Signs That Your Body Is Responding To The Cleanse
•    The flow of urine is increased.
•    Bladder infections and/or irritated urination abate.
•     You’ll feel lighter and cleaner as your kidneys detoxifies free of congestion.

3 Day Spring Cleanse Program

spring flowers

A “Spring Cleanse” Is A Breath Of Fresh Air For Your Body After A Long Winter.
A mild spring cleanse is an important, vitality technique even if you are healthy. Even if you exercise during the winter to keep trim, most people still feel at an energy low during the cold, dark months. That’s because our bodies still reflect the ancient seasonal need to harbor more fat for warmth and survival. In a time when people were closer to Nature than we are today, the great majority farmed the land from spring to fall, and lived lives of demanding physical labor. Winter was a time of inactivity, with a natural tendency towards rest. Foods harvested and stored in the autumn lost much of their nutrition value through the winter, so people had to eat denser foods, and more of them, to receive the same nutrition. Even in modern times, winter’s shorter days, often without any sunshine and vitamin D mean that our bodies are less able to use nutrients efficiently.


Cold weather prompts people to eat heavier, fattier, comfort foods, too. Mankind’s ancient winter “hibernation” patterns also mean that our metabolism slows, sometimes by as much as 10%. So, much to the dismay of many of us, fall and winter are the most difficult times of the year to control body weight.


Nature has designed the perfect time for a spring cleanse. Winter weather illnesses like colds, bronchitis and flu leave our bodies with accumulated toxins. Heavy winter clothing, especially thick waterproof coats, hinders normal breathing and perspiration of our skin. When spring finally arrives, new green, leafy, high-chlorophyll vegetables boost our blood and liven up our metabolism. Cleansing, antioxidant-rich herbs promote a feeling of new life and restoration of well-being. Nature starts chuckling in the spring. (Laughter is a good cleanser for people, too. It boosts our beta endorphins for a sense of well-being.) Warmer weather lowers our appetite needs (we tend to shed pounds along with congestion), prompts more activity and movement, and stimulates cleansing.


A “spring cleanse” is actually a very light diet. It focuses on digestion, elimination of accumulated wastes, and improving body functions. Try a spring or summer cleanse over a long weekend. That’s enough time to fit comfortably into most people’s lives, and it doesn’t become too stressful on the body. The best way is to start on Friday night with a pre-cleansing salad, then follow with a cleansing diet like the one in this book, and end with a light Monday morning fruit bowl. Amplify the purifying effects with a stimulating, circulation bath or sauna.


Is Your Body Showing Signs That You Need A Spring Cleanse?
—Do you feel bloated, constipated and congested? (a sign that your diet is heavier and richer than usual)
—Have you gained weight even though you aren’t eating more food? (a sign of winter fat storage)
—Do you feel slow and low energy most of the time? (a sign of cold weather body slowdown)
—Has your digestion worsened? (a sign your body isn’t using its nutrients well)
—Do your lungs feel clogged and swollen? (a sign of shallower breathing, perhaps a low-grade infection)


Benefits You Can Expect From A Spring Cleanse
—Your digestive tract gets a “wash and brush” of accumulated waste.
—Your liver, kidney and blood are purified, impossible under ordinary eating patterns.
—Your mental clarity receives a boost, impossible under an overload of food chemicals.
—You’ll relieve dependency on habit-forming sugars, caffeine, nicotine, alcohol or drugs.
—Bad eating habits get a break… with a new chance to improve your diet patterns.
—Your stomach has a chance to reduce its size for weight loss and better weight control.


Spring Cleanse Detox Plan
Start With The 3-Day Nutrition Plan Below
The focus is on fresh plant foods: 1) high chlorophyll plants for enzymes; 2) fruits and vegetables for fiber; 3) cultured foods for probiotics; 4) eight glasses of water a day.
The evening before your spring cleanse…
—Have a light salad with plenty of greens. Take your choice of gentle herbal laxatives.
The next 3 days…
—On rising: take a cleansing flushing tea like Green Tea Cleanser, or 1 heaping tsp. fiber mix in juice. Add 3000mg vitamin C with bioflavs daily to raise glutathione levels, an important detox nutrient.
—Breakfast: take your choice of fruit juices, 8 oz.
—Mid-morning: take a small glass of potassium broth, or 2 tbsp. aloe juice concentrate in juice or water, or a superfood green drink; or a cup of green tea or Green Tea Cleanser.
—Lunch: fresh carrot juice; raw sauerkraut, or seaweed salad (health food or Asian food stores)
—Mid-afternoon: take a glass of fresh apple juice; or an herbal cleansing tea.
—About 5 o’ clock: take another small potassium broth, a fresh carrot or vegetable juice like Knudsen’s Very Veggie, or a superfood green drink.
—Supper: take miso soup with 2 tbsp. dried sea vegetables (dulse, nori, etc.) chopped over the top.
(Note: Finish your cleanse with a small green salad with fresh sprouts on the last night.)
—Before Bed: repeat the herbal cleansers that you took on rising, and take a cup of mint tea.