Holistic Health Journal

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CapsicumCayenne pepper, also known as capsicum, adds flavor to your food and has some impressive health benefits. Cayenne stimulates blood flow and can help burn body fat. It also fights inflammation and stimulates digestion, which helps break down food for better nutrient absorption. Cayenne is also a warming herb that has the power to significantly reduce pain.  

Cayenne fights diseases of the circulatory system 

Cayenne is a catalyst. It’s added to many herbal blends to help them perform better. Clinical studies conducted with cayenne pepper and ginkgo biloba have revealed that ginkgo is 75% more effective when used with cayenne due to cayenne’s ability to improve circulation. This single attribute make cayenne pepper especially useful for individuals with poor circulation. This evidence shows that cayenne pepper can help fight diseases of the circulatory system, such as: 

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Atherosclerosis: fatty plaque build up within the arteries, causing the arteries to harden

Myocardial infarction: a blockage of blood flow that results in the death of the muscle tissue

Angina pectoris: chest pain caused by a lack of blood flow to the heart muscle

Spider veins or varicose veins: caused by the pooling of blood in valves and veins that then build up pressure, causing the veins to break down. 

Cayenne and weight loss 

cayennepepperCayenne pepper can be used to boost a fat-burning workout. Studies have shown that cayenne can increase the body’s process of melting excess fat and converting it into energy, known as fat oxidation. Cayenne pepper increases fat oxidation by 42% when used with exercise. In some trials, cayenne pepper has proven helpful in decreasing appetite, furthering its ability to help with weight loss. A general recommendation would be to drink a half of a teaspoon of powdered cayenne pepper in eight ounces of water or juice 30 to 60 minutes before a workout. 

Cayenne offers pain relief   

Clinical studies have shown capsaicin cream to be effective as a temporary pain reliever when used topically. Cayenne’s pain relieving properties are attributed to its ability to inhibit substance P, which is a neuropeptide associated with inflammatory pain processes. Creams containing cayenne pepper can be used for rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, post surgery pain, neuropathy, psoriasis and shingles.  

Cayenne can help heal ulcers   

Cayenne pepper can also help heal ulcers. It’s commonly believed that spicy foods cause peptic ulcers, but that information is incorrect. According to Dr. George F. Longstreth of Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program in San Diego, most peptic ulcers are caused by bacterial infections, primarily H.pylori. Overuse of some medications, such as Advil and Motrin, are also common causes of ulcers because they cause acid production in the stomach, which damages the stomach lining. Cayenne pepper helps neutralize acid. Sipping cayenne pepper tea can help heal a peptic ulcer. Capsaicin, the active compound in cayenne peppers, can repair a damaged stomach lining and protect the colon, according to the Medical University of Pecs. 

Cayenne pepper is generally safe for most people. However, there are exceptions to this rule. Since cayenne is a catalyst, it can multiply the strength of medications and other herbs, so please be sure to use caution and logic when using it. When introducing cayenne pepper into the body for the fist time, it’s best to use it once a day and work upward from there, following the body’s tolerance level. 

FeverfewUsed by ancient Greek physicians to reduce inflammation and treat menstrual cramps, new research is shedding light on this perennial herb’s migraine fighting ability. It’s terrific news for those who suffer from the common condition. Several scientific studies have proven that it can reduce or eliminate migraines in more than 70% of users!

Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) is native to southeastern Europe, but can now be found widespread throughout North America, Europe, and Australia. It was once used to treat fevers, as its name suggests however, the reported effectiveness for this purpose isn’t anything noteworthy.

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Feverfew is a member of the daisy family that has been used historically to an array of symptoms from severe headaches/migraines, to arthritis, and problems with labor and childbirth. One source advises that pregnant women should avoid it. Please consult an herbalist if you are pregnant.

Plant Description

feverfewFeverfew blooms between July and October, and gives off a strong and bitter odor. Its yellow-green leaves are alternate and turn downward with short hairs. The small, daisy-like yellow flowers are arranged in a dense flat-topped cluster.

It can be found in capsule form although it’s probably best to consume raw or dried leaves directly from the plant. This is because several supplements that claim to contain feverfew have been found to contain little or no feverfew (see dosage & sources section below to know what to look for on a supplement label). The leaves are the most common way to take this herb but all parts of the plant that grow above ground may be used.

Migraine Headaches

Not only is feverfew effective at preventing migraine headaches but it can be used to stop them once they start.

The University of Maryland Medical Center reports:

Feverfew was popular in Great Britain in the 1980s as a treatment for migraines. A survey of 270 people with migraines in Great Britain found that more than 70% of them felt much better after taking an average of 2 – 3 fresh feverfew leaves daily. Several human studies have used feverfew to prevent and treat migraines. Overall, these studies suggest that taking dried leaf capsules of feverfew every day may reduce the number of migraines in people who have chronic migraines.

One study used a combination of feverfew and white willow (Salix alba), which has chemicals like aspirin. People who took the combination twice a day for 12 weeks had fewer migraines and they didn’t last as long or hurt as much.

Another study found that people who took a special extract of feverfew had fewer average number of migraine attacks per month compared to people who took placebo. A 3-month study with 49 people found that a combination of feverfew, magnesium, and vitamin B2 led to a 50% decrease in migraines.

Dosage and Sources

High-Parthenolide Feverfew delivers 500 mcg of parthenolide in a total of 212 mg of feverfew from a specially grown “high parthenolide” feverfew leaf per capsule. Parthenolides are sesquiterpene lactones, the major dietary components of feverfew.

Recommended Usage:

Take one Feverfew Concentrate capsule daily with a meal.

The compound parthenolide may also reduce inflammation and may stop cancer cells from growing.

Precautions

Feverfew should not be given to children under 2 years old. For older children it is wise to consult a pediatrician or herbalist beforehand, especially if they are taking any other medications or supplements.

People with allergies to chamomile, ragweed, or yarrow may be allergic to feverfew and should consult an herbalist prior to trying it.

If you take blood-thinning medications such as warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix), or aspirin, it may be dangerous to combine them with a feverfew regimen. Ask your doctor before taking feverfew if you take blood-thinners.

If you are taking feverfew and are scheduled for surgery, be sure to tell your doctor. It may interact with anesthesia.

If you have used feverfew for over a week long period, DO NOT abruptly stop taking it. Stopping too quickly without weening yourself off may cause rebound headaches, anxiety, fatigue, muscle stiffness, and joint pain.

Funding for further research on feverfew is limited (go figure) and therefore isn’t as well known as it should be. Please share this information by clicking a button below to spread the word and help those who suffer from migraines live comfortably!

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herbal-remedies-1A great deal of pharmaceutical research has gone into analyzing the active ingredients in herbs to find out how and why they work. In some cases, the action is due to a specific chemical present in the herb or it may be due to a complex synergistic interaction among various constituents of the plant. Check out these categories of herbs, and how they are beneficial in treating the human body.

1. Adaptogenic: Adaptogenic herbs increase resistance and resilience to stress, enabling the body to adapt around a problem and avoid the adverse effects of stress, such as fatigue. Many adaptogens are thought to work by supporting the function of the adrenal glands.

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2. Anti-inflammatory: Herbs that soothe inflammation or reduce the inflammatory response of the tissue directly. They work in a number of ways, including inhibiting the formation of various chemicals produced by the body that tends to increase the inflammatory process.

3. Antimicrobial: Antimicrobials help the body destroy or resist pathogenic microorganisms. While some herbs contain chemicals that are antiseptic or poisonous to certain organisms, in general they aid the body’s own natural immunity.

4. Antispasmodic: Antispasmodics ease cramps in smooth and skeletal muscles and alleviate muscular tension.

5. Astringent: Astringents have a binding action on mucous membranes, skin, and other tissues, reducing irritation and inflammation and creating a barrier against infection that is helpful to healing wounds and burns. This may result in toning and tightening of skin and tissues.

6. Bitter: Herbs with a bitter taste have a special role in preventative medicine. The taste triggers a sensory response in the central nervous system leading to a range of responses, including stimulating appetite and the flow of digestive juices, aiding the liver’s detoxification work, increasing bile flow, and motivating intestinal self-repair mechanisms.

7. Carminative: Plants that are rich in aromatic, volatile oils stimulate the digestive system to work properly and with ease. They soothe the gut wall, reduce any inflammation that may be present, ease griping pains, and help with the removal of gas from the digestive tract.

8. Diuretic: Diuretics increase the production and elimination of urine, helping the body eliminate waste and support the whole process of inner cleansing.

9. Expectorant: Herbs that stimulate removal of mucus from the lungs. Stimulating expectorants “irritate” the bronchioles causing expulsion of material. Relaxing expectorants soothe bronchial spasms and loosen mucus, which helps dry, irritating coughs.

10. Hepatic: Hepatics tone and strengthen the liver, and can also increase the flow of bile. They are of great importance because of the fundamental role of the liver in maintaining health by facilitating digestion and removing toxins from the body.

11. Hypotensive: Hypotensives are plant remedies that lower abnormally elevated blood pressure.

12. Laxative: These are plants that promote bowel movements. They are divided into those that work by providing bulk, those that stimulate the production of bile in the liver and its release from the gall bladder, and those that directly stimulate peristalsis.

13. Nervine: Nervines help the nervous system and can be divided into three groups – tonics that strengthen and restore the nervous system, relaxants that ease anxiety and tension by soothing both body and mind, and stimulants that directly stimulate nerve activity.

14. Stimulating: Stimulants quicken and invigorate the physiological and metabolic activity of the body.

15. Tonic: Tonics nurture and enliven. They are used frequently in TCM and Ayurvedic medicine, often as a preventative measure. Tonic herbs like ginseng are thought to build vital energy, or qi.

Incorporate a variety of herbs into your lifestyle, and look into adaptogenic herbs as a great start. Check out the first source below for more information on adaptogenic herbs.

depression

Depression and mood disorders are devastating health problems today. When you go to your doctor, their answer is often a prescription for one of the various popular anti-depressant drugs. Many doctors do not investigate for metabolic or nutritional deficiencies that may be the ‘real problem’ for your depression. Patients have no idea why they feel so awful or where to start looking for the answer. They expect their doctor to give them real solutions. Instead they get drugs as the easy fix. Drugs are not an easy fix because of the serious side effects that come with taking them. Doctors prescribe these drugs from information they get from the drug sales rep which often is only part-truth. The side effects and dangers of these drugs are down-played or left out altogether. Prescription drugs should only be prescribed after other medical problems have been ruled out. 

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Learn About 10 Nutrient Deficiencies That Cause Depression and Mood Disorder Symptoms:

If you suffer from depression or mood disorders you may be deficient in one of the nutrients below. Researchers have found that many people who suffer from depression and mood disorders are deficient in not just one nutrient but several, all contributing to the symptoms.

#1: Healthy Food Deficiency? Junk Food Diet

Is your diet filled with sugar, junk foods, sodas, or processed foods? Do you often skip meals. If you suffer from depression or mood disorders, start a food diary of the foods you eat every day. You will find answers to your health problems while doing that. Your shopping cart and refrigerator tell the story of your health. My husband works as a cashier at Walmart. People shopping for their family fill their cart with junk sugar filled cereal, chips, candy, soda, , TV dinners, and over-processed food in general. Seven-Elevens thrive on selling candy, soda, and chips to the eat-on-the-run customers. There are very few fresh vegetables or fruit on the average American’s grocery list. This is why so many Americans are obese, depressed, and suffering from diabetes. If your life is not going well, eating junk food is not going to improve your outlook.

#2: Omega-3 Fatty Acids Deficiency:

These are found in foods such as fish and Flax Seed Oil. A deficiency of Omega-3 fatty acids or an imbalance between Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids may be one of the contributing factors to your depression. Omega 3 Fatty acids are important to brain function and your mental outlook on life. They also help people who suffer from inflammation and pain problems. Researchers have found that many patients with depression and mood disorders are deficient in Omega 3 Fatty Acids. It is important to buy fish oil that has been cold processed and tested for heavy metals and other contamination. It should state that on the label.

#3: Vitamin D Deficiency:

Important to immune function, bones, and brain health. Sunlight is the richest source for natural Vitamin D. The Journal Clinical Nutrition in Jan 21st, 2013 published the result of research that analyzed over 18000 British citizens for Vitamin D deficiencies and associated mental disorders links. They found that a deficiency of Vitamin D was present in patients with depression and panic disorders. The study results stated that people who are deficient in Vitamin D are at higher risk for developing depression later in life. Most seniors are deficient in Vitamin D. Often people working long hours in offices are deficient as well. Get out in the sun. Take a walk during your lunch break or walk your dog. Play a game with your kids outside away from computers and the television. Get out of the house and into the sunshine. Just don’t overdo it if you are sensitive to the sun. Overdoing it is not good either. 

#4: B-Vitamins Deficiency:

There is much research in Neuropsychiatry that proves the link between B-Vitamin deficiencies and mood disorders including depression. Buy gel capsules instead of tablets with at least 25 mg for each of the different B- Vitamins included in the formulation.

#5: Zinc, Folate, Chromium, and Iron Deficiencies:

Patients with depression are often found deficient in many nutrients including these. Often today’s foods are sadly lacking in minerals and trace minerals.

#6: Iodine Deficiency:

Iodine is necessary for the thyroid to work properly. The thyroid, part of the endocrine system, is one of the most important glands in your body. The thyroid gland affects every function of the body including body temperature, immune function, and brain function. Iodine is found in foods such as potatoes, cranberries, Kelp, Arame, Hiziki, Kombu, and Wakame. This problem was once solved by using Iodine enriched salt. Today iodine deficiency is again becoming a problem with salt free diets. Salty chips, processed foods, and junk food do not contain iodized salt.

#7: Amino Acids Deficiency: There are 9 necessary amino acids that cannot be manufactured in your body. You must supply them to the body by eating quality food choices.

Amino acids are found in meat, eggs, fish, high quality beans, seeds and nuts. You need to eat a variety of different foods to furnish the body with all the amino acids needed to be healthy. Not all foods contain all nine amino acids. Vegetable food sources for amino acids include Moringa Oleifera leaves. Your brain uses the amino acids found in the food you eat to manufacture neurotransmitters needed for optimal brain function.

What are neurotransmitters and what do they have to do with depression?

Healthy brain function needs the proper balance of neurotransmitters. Some neurotransmitters calm the brain and others excite the brain. Their balance in the brain creates stability of emotions and thinking. Often depression and other mental disorders are caused by imbalances in neurotransmitters. Dopamine, noradrenaline, and GABA are three important neurotransmitters often deficient in depression. Orthomolecular physicians have found that treatment with amino acids including tryptophan, tyrosine, phenylalanine, and methionine can correct different mood disorders like depression. The Orthomolecular doctor first takes urine and blood samples to test your amino acid levels. Then if he finds imbalances, you will be given amino acid supplements in the optimal dosage to correct the problem. Orthomolecular doctors treat the base cause for the depression or mental symptoms. If it is a nutritional imbalance such as a Omega 3 deficiency, you will be prescribed that supplement. Instead of treating with drugs, they treat the deficiencies that cause the mental symptoms with vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.

There are tests that prove nutrient deficiencies. The problem is often your standard medicine doctor will not give clearance for the tests, nor will your insurance pay for them. Most doctors are not schooled in nutrition and diet. They have no time to go over your eating and lifestyle habits. Saying that, a few companies and health providers exist who do have preventive health programs. The reality is a majority of people do not get quality preventive healthcare, especially those on Medicaid or Medical. You need to visit a holistic doctor who knows his nutrition. More than likely you will have to pay out-of-pocket for the tests. You can go through Life Extension Institute. After becoming a member, you can receive the tests through the mail. You take the kit to a lab to get your blood drawn. You then send the kit back by mail and receive the results by mail. They do not give you interpretation for the tests nor how to correct the problems found by testing. You can at least find out what vitamins and minerals you are deficient in. Drug-focused therapy is the main reason that so many people never get diagnosed properly. Insurance plans will pay for drugs but not nutritional supplements. That is the sad state of our health care system here. You must take control of your health and find a doctor whose goal is holistic and preventative medicine.

Thai-Go

A tropical fruit native to Southeast Asia has been shown in a new study to protect against breast cancer. Researchers from the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences’ (UCAS) College of Life Sciences found that the pericarp of the mangosteen fruit, which is commonly grown in Thailand and Malaysia, contains a unique compound that triggers apoptosis, or cell death, in breast cancer cells.

A followup to a previous study on mangosteen’s effects in vitro, this latest research looked at the effects of a unique mangosteen xanthone on actual human breast cancer cells. The team from UCAS studied how alpha-mangostin affects fatty acid synthase, or FAS, a multi-enzyme protein that catalyzes the formation of long-chain fatty acids from various compounds. Over-expression of FAS is also commonly observed in conjunction with breast cancer occurrence.

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Using a battery of tests, the researchers found that alpha-mangostin exhibits an inhibitory effect on the expression of FAS, in turn resulting in a decrease of intracellular fatty acid accumulation. Additionally, alpha-mangostin noticeably triggers apoptosis in human breast cancer cells, regulating the expression of other key proteins involved in apoptosis.

“Alpha-mangostin could effectively suppress FAS expression and inhibit intracellular FAS activity, and result in decrease of intracellular fatty acid accumulation,” wrote the authors, as published in the journal Molecular Cancer. “[Alpha-mangostin] could also reduce cell viability, induce apoptosis in human breast cancer cells, increase in the levels of the PARP cleavage product, and attenuate the balance between anti-apoptotic and pro-apoptotic proteins of the Bcl-2 family.”

Be careful to choose mangosteen products that are free of toxic heavy metals

Mangosteen3Based on these successful findings, UCAS scientists say mangosteen xanthones could eventually become a viable treatment agent in breast cancer therapy. And since it is relatively easy to source, mangosteen extract could also be used as a preventive food for avoiding breast cancer development.

Our readers need to be aware, however, that not all mangosteen products are equal. As we reported back in April, at least one major supplier of dried mangosteen powder to the U.S. is delivering a product that is exceptionally high in the brain-damaging metal lead. This same powder, which is commonly repackaged for various retail supply chains, was also found to contain aluminum, arsenic, cadmium and some mercury.  Click Here for safe heavy metal free Mangosteen Products.

Fresh mangosteen or verified powders are an excellent ‘superfood’

However, awareness about the presence of heavy metals in food is growing, which means the availability of safer alternatives will only increase. All in all, sourcing fresh mangosteen or verified mangosteen powder is still a great way to take advantage of this powerful anticancer superfood. Click Here for safe heavy metal free Mangosteen Products.

Sources for this article include:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

Combination PotassiumPotassium is an essential mineral whose ions are vital for the functioning of all living cells. It accumulates in plant cells, meaning that many fresh vegetables and fruits — most famously bananas — are rich in it. Dissolved potassium is also found in sea vegetables such as kelp, bladderwrack and kombu, since seawater is approximately 0.04 percent potassium by weight.

While most people are aware on some level that potassium is important, few people really understand what it does for us. This article takes a closer look at the roles of potassium in our bodies and reveals how much of it our bodies need per day to function properly.

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The four main roles of potassium

Regulates water balance – One of potassium’s biggest roles in our bodies is to regulate the amount of sodium entering and exiting our cells, thereby controlling the amount of fluid we retain or excrete. This maintains the body’s pH levels, which ensures that our cellular processes proceed at an appropriate rate. People who are deficient in potassium often suffer from fluid retention, which can cause edema, an unpleasant condition that leads to swelling and water-related weight gain.

Aids biochemical processes – Potassium plays an important role in energy metabolism and cellular biochemical reactions. It helps us synthesize protein from amino acids in cells (thus helping us to grow muscle and build cells), and also helps us convert glucose to glycogen for storage in the liver as a future supply of energy. For these reasons, potassium-rich foods tend to be a popular choice with bodybuilders and athletes.

Maintains electrolyte and acid-base balance – Potassium is a positively charged electrolyte, and its presence (or absence) directly affects the actions of other electrolytes such as calcium or sodium in our bodies. For example, a deficiency in potassium and an excess in calcium can result in kidney stones, since calcium ions — without being balanced by potassium ions — can be excreted by our kidneys into our urine. Moreover, potassium ions bind themselves to negatively charged bicarbonate ions, which creates a buffer that regulates our bodies’ acid-base balance. A body with an acidic pH is, of course, a breeding ground for disease.

Boosts nervous system function – Our bodies use potassium ions to conduct electrical impulses along muscle and nerve cells. These impulses — which are essentially electrical currents — are what keep the heart pumping and the muscles contracting. Without potassium (and other minerals such as calcium and sodium), we could not transport signals from our nervous systems to elsewhere in our bodies, resulting in irregular heartbeats and heart arrhythmias. For this reason, potassium is also needed for a healthy cardiovascular system.

How much potassium do we need?

The recommended daily allowance of potassium for adult men and women (including pregnant women) is 4,700 milligrams per day, while children need 4,500 milligrams of it per day. Though potassium deficiencies are not as widespread as magnesium or iodine deficiencies, they are becoming more common (especially in the United States) and can result in muscle cramps, loss of appetite, fatigue, weakness and nausea. People who consume a diet rich in organic whole foods, however, usually do not have to worry about a deficiency in potassium since natural produce contains it in abundance.

Sources for this article include:

http://hkpp.org/patients/potassium-health

http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/potassium

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002413.htm

Nature's Spring Reverse Osmosis System

Nature’s Spring Reverse Osmosis System

The importance of high quality drinking water is vastly understated. Compromising approximately 75 percent of the body, water is found both inside and outside the cells and is the basis of all body fluids including blood, lymph, saliva, digestive juices, urine, and perspiration. Therefore, an unadulterated source of pure drinking water and learning how to optimize hydration is one of the most fundamentally important things one can do for their health.

Water’s role in the body

Since water is the regulator of all the body’s functions, it is equated with life. It is the main source of energy transport for every cell in the body, conducting electrical and magnetic energy that supplies the power to live.

Water also facilitates energizing the skin’s many photo-sensitive and energy-sensitive nerve endings that receive and transmit signals, making them more responsive and enhancing the skin’s vitality. It also protects both the skin and mucous membrane barrier functions and acts as an antioxidant by flushing oxidants and other toxins out through the kidneys. In addition, the sinuses drain better when they are well hydrated and their mucous membrane is more resistant to infection.

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One must also consider that the brain is made up of 80 percent water. Severe dehydration can lead to the inability to think clearly, and in severe cases, mental derangement.

Conditions and habits related to dehydration

According to Dr. Batmanghelidj, author of Your Body’s Many Cries For Water, most people unknowingly suffer from chronic dehydration. This condition contributes to toxic overload in the body, which can lead to a hyperactive immune system and cause or contribute to a variety of diseases, including:

• Arthritis
• Asthma
• Colitis
• Depression
• Diabetes
• Dyspeptic ulcer
• Duodenitis
• Gastritis
• Heartburn
• Headaches
• High blood pressure
• High Cholesterol
• Low back pain
• Neck pain
• Osteoporosis
• Kidney problems

Instead of water, most people drink alcohol, coffee, non-herbal teas, soda, and other caffeine-containing beverages. These liquids tend to further exacerbate the dehydration, making it much worse.

Recommendations for optimal hydration

According to Dr. Batmanghelidj, the body needs an absolute minimum of 6 to 8 glasses a day. Other sources suggest up to half your body weight in pounds should be consumed in ounces of water on a daily basis. For someone who weighs 160 pounds, that’s 80 ounces (10 glasses) of pure water on a daily basis.

The best time to drink water is first thing in the morning to wake up the digestive system from its dehydrated and contracted state, and 30 minutes before each meal. Water should be avoided during meals so as to not interfere with stomach acid and proper digestion. It should also be consumed around room temperature, save exceptionally hot days where extra cooling of the body may be required.

Since tap water all too often contains a variety of unhealthy contaminants, including microorganisms, heavy metals, chlorine, fluoride, and other impurities it is recommended that this water be filtered to remove these harmful impurities.

Water is available in a wide variety of formats. Some of the most common ways people consume it is through bottled water and filtering units such as reverse osmosis and alkaline water systems. Each of these ways has varying levels of convenience, purity, and minerals, and the benefits and drawbacks should be closely considered with each before choosing.

For a guide to drinking water, including the best source one can consume, check out the first source below.

Bottoms up!

Featured Product:


Sources for this article include:

http://www.healingthebody.ca/guide-to-drinking-water/

Trivieri, Larry. Alternative Medicine: The Definitive Guide. Ed. John W.

Anderson. 2nd ed. Berkeley, CA: Celestial Arts, 2002.

SpirulinaWhile many superfoods exist, and all are beneficial for health along with a diet that includes fresh, whole foods, there are three that are ideal for their ability to boost energy. According to experts, spirulina, maca, and turmeric are the top three foods that can help give the body a much-needed energy boost in addition to providing a host of other healthy benefits.

A closer look at the top three energy-boosting superfoods

Spirulina. Spirulina, a blue-green algae, is considered one of nature’s perfect foods due in part to research that shows that energy levels have been restored among those with low energy or chronic fatigue. In addition to its polysaccharides and essential fatty acids, it’s a rare source of gamma linolenic acid (GLA) , an omega-6 fatty acid that helps to control inflammation and help the body produce energy.

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Furthermore, GLA has also been shown to combat a variety of autoimmune disorders, manage cholesterol and help prevent cancerous tumor growth.

Maca. This nutrient-dense superfood is loaded with B-vitamins, which are known to provide energy. In turn, this powerful ancient root has the ability to increase vitality, stamina and mood in those who use it. So effective is maca in increasing energy levels that it’s been linked to producing increased libido levels.

Additionally, maca acts as an adaptogen which means that it regulates hormones according to each person’s need, ranging from tissue function and depression to mood and sexual development.

Turmeric. Turmeric allows the body to have increased energy levels due to the fact that it is such an effective all-around healing spice. It helps improve digestion, prevent cancer, provide relief from coughs and because it’s a natural antibiotic, can help improve certain conditions brought on by infection.

Incorporating more of these top three superfoods will help increase energy levels as well as improve overall health. Adding them to smoothies, main dishes or just sprinkling on top of certain vegetables (turmeric on cauliflower, for example), are great ways to reap the health benefits of these incredibly powerful and healthy foods.

Sources for this article include:

 http://www.the-open-mind.com

  http://www.longevity-and-antiaging-secrets.com/benefits-of-gla.html

 http://www.natural-cure-guide.com/natural-cure/turmeric.htm

breaking freeFree radicals have received a lot of publicity in recent years, because modern medical research has identified free radical damage as an underlying cause of premature aging and many chronic and degenerative diseases. Overall, free radicals have been implicated in the pathogenesis of at least 50 diseases.

Antioxidants are compounds that neutralize free radicals. Many health researchers believe that getting more antioxidants into your diet is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of chronic and degenerative ailments. Since the beautiful colors of fresh produce are primarily the result of antioxidant compounds, eating a “rainbow” of brightly colored fruits, vegetables and herbs is one of best ways of providing your body with a wide variety of protective antioxidants.

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You can read all about this in the article I just posted Who Set Those Radicals Free? It explains what free radical damage (also known as oxidative stress) is and how antioxidants prevent it. It also tells about the antioxidants responsible for the yellow, orange, red, blue and purple colors of fruits and vegetables.

Of course, you can also take antioxidants supplements and Nature’s Sunshine Products has a variety of excellent options. First, is NSP’s flagship antioxidant product Thai-Go. This is a delicious blend of mangosteen, lyceum and other antioxidant fruits with a high ORAC value. (ORAC is a measurement of free radical scavenging capacity.) Thai-Go is my personal favorite antioxidant blend. It is very cooling and I use it in the summer to help me tolerate the extremely hot temperatures in the desert climate in which I live.

Of course, if you’d prefer to take antioxidants in capsule form you can take Super ORAC or Super Antioxidant. Also consider the relative new-comer to the NSP family with antioxidant properties is Curcumin BP, which is anti-inflammatory, aids liver function and has a host of other wonderful uses.

NSP also has specific antioxidant products for protecting the eyes and brain. Degenerative disorders of the eyes like glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration are the result of oxidative damage to the eyes. Perfect Eyes is a blend of antioxidants and nutrients that help to prevent this damage.

It is also believed that Alzheimer’s and dementia are the result of free radical damage and inflammation to the brain. Brain Protex contains nutrients with antioxidant benefits for the brain as well as nutrients to enhance the production of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is involved in memory.

CurcuminBPCurcumin is a pigment from the Indian spice, turmeric, which gives curry its yellow color. Turmeric has been used as both food and medicine in Asia for thousands of years. Recent research has made the herb increasingly popular in Western herbalism as an anti-inflammatory remedy for conditions like arthritis and as a remedy for digestive and liver problems.

CurcuminBP is a formula that blends a standardized extract of curcumin from turmeric and black pepper. Each capsule contains 550 mg of turmeric extract that is 95% curcuminoids. The black pepper aids the assimilation of the curcumin, which can be poorly absorbed. Here is a summary of some of the potential health benefits of CurcuminBP.

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Anti-Inflammatory and Joint Remedy

turmericCurcumin is a very potent anti-inflammatory. It inhibits activity of the transcription factor  NF-kB, a pro-inflammatory messenger. Clinical research suggests it can be a valuable remedy in treating rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and other inflammatory conditions.

For instance, in a study of 18 patients with rheumatoid arthritis, taking 1200 mg of curcumin daily was as effective as taking 300 mg per day of phenylbutazone, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. Curcumin was effective in reducing morning stiffness and joint swelling. In another study of curcmin’s effects on arthritis, mice fed curcumin displayed less infiltration of immune cells in the joints, less synovial hyperplasia, and less cartilage destruction and bone hyperplasia than control mice.

In a human clinical trial using turmeric for osteoarthritis, it was shown that taking a 500 mg turmeric extract twice daily significantly reduced pain and improved functionality. The study involved eight weeks of treatment in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee. Patients taking turmeric extract also had significantly reduced usage of analgesics and NSAIDs. The extract used in this study was standardized to contain 20% curcuminoids (providing 75% curcumin). CurcuminBP is much stronger than the remedy used in this study.

Digestive and Liver Remedy

Liver-in-bodyTurmeric is approved in Germany as a prescription medication for a variety of digestive disorders. Curcumin stimulates the flow of bile from the gallbladder, which aids digestion and assimilation of fats.  It can be helpful for gallstones and pain in the gallbladder. It increases mucus production in the stomach and has been shown to help ulcers to heal.  It can also relieve symptoms of heartburn, gastritis and dyspepsia.

Curcumin has hepatoprotective properties and aids liver detoxification. It increases glutathione levels and glutathione-S-transferase activity, which gives it antioxidant properties.  This is not surprising, since turmeric has long been used in both TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) and Ayurveda (traditional Indian medicine) as a tonic to the liver.

Antioxidant Properties

Curcumin has a powerful antioxidant action. It appears to interfere with the synthesis of pro-inflammatory eicosanoids (chemical messengers).  It acts as a free radical scavenger, inhibiting peroxidation of lipids (fats) and protecting nervous tissue from toxins like lead and other heavy metals.  The research suggests that curcumin’s antioxidant action may help to prevent certain cancers, Alzheimer’s disease and cardiovascular conditions.

Brain and Memory Benefits

brain2Several studies have shown that curcumin has a positive effect on the brain and nervous system.  It has been found to help protect the brain in injury and to reduce the risk of stroke.  In one animal study, curcumin was shown to protect against toxicity and impairment of mental ability caused by an amyloid-protein infusion. Another study found that curcumin shrank the size of plaques and reduced neurite dystrophy in an Alzheimer mouse model.

Cardiovascular Benefits

A study using a transgenic animal model indicated that curcumin diminished plaque formation and overall inflammation in the cardiovascular system.  It has been shown to have a synergistic effect with fish oil to improve blood flow and protect against cognitive deficits.

Anti-Cancer Activity

In one study, curcumin induced apoptosis (cell death) in cancer cells without cytotoxic effects on healthy cells.  In an animal study, curcumin inhibited the growth of cancer cells in the stomach, liver and colon as well as oral cancers.

Suggested Use

Take one CurcuminBP capsule twice daily. Curcumin is more easily absorbed when taken with fats and can be taken with Super Omega-3 EPA or other fats for better assimilation.

Selected References

“International Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, Therapy and Toxicology,” Evaluation of Anti-Inflammatory Property of Curcumin in Patients With Postoperative Inflammation; R.R. Satoskar, June 1986
Maheshwari RK, et al. (2006). Multiple Biological Activities of Curcumin: A short review. Life Sciences, Mar. 27, 78(18): 2081-2087.
Chopra A, et al. (2004). A 32-week randomized, placebo-controlled clinical evaluation of RA-11, an ayurvedic drug, on osteoarthritis of the knees. Journal of Clinical Rheumatology. Oct. 10 (5): 236-245.

Super ORACModern research suggests that oxidative stress or free radical damage may be a primary cause of degenerative diseases and premature aging. Antioxidants are nutrients, primarily found in plants, which prevent free radical damage and reduce inflammation. They are like the radiator or cooling system in your car and keep the metabolic “engine” from overheating and causing damage to tissues.

An antioxidant is a substance that can donate an electron without becoming immediately unstable. The antioxidant donates an electron to the free radical, making it stable. This is why putting slices of apple into some water containing vitamin C, an antioxidant, will keep them from turning brown as quickly.

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Without the aid of antioxidants, oxidation can damage DNA, causing cells to mutate and become cancerous. Oxidative damage will also give rise to arterial plaque, causing heart disease and increasing the risk of strokes. Without antioxidants, free radicals can damage brain tissue, leading to Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease or senility.

green-tea

Super ORAC is a blend of herbs and nutrients with antioxidant properties. Here are the ingredients and their possible health benefits.

Green Tea Leaves Extract (Camellia sinensis)

This traditional beverage of the Orient has been found to contain powerful antioxidants called polyphenols. These are similar in nature to the polyphenols known as proanthocyanidins. These compounds aid liver detoxification. Research in China suggests tea may help hepatitis. The tea extract used in Thai-Go is a concentrate of the polyphenols and is caffeine-free.

Mangosteen Pericarp Extract (Garcinia mangostana)

MangosteenMangosteen pericarp is very high in compounds called xanthones, some of the most powerful antioxidants discovered to date. About 1,000 studies have been published on xanthones. They have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, and also inhibit platelet aggregation, help prevent the formation of blood clots and relax artery walls. This makes them useful for people with cardiovascular diseases such as ischemic heart disease, atherosclerosis, hypertension and thrombosis. Xanthones have been shown to be antibiotic, antiviral and antifungal. They also have histamine-blocking actions which can be beneficial for allergy sufferers.

Turmeric Root Extract (Curcuma longa)

turmericTurmeric contains curcumin, a compound with stronger antioxidant properties than vitamin E. Turmeric is also a very potent anti-inflammatory agent. It has a stronger action than hydrocortisone, without the harmful side effects, making it a very good agent for treating the chronic inflammation that accompanies free radical damage to tissues. Turmeric also has an anticoagulant action and a cholesterol-lowering action. These benefits, coupled with its anti-inflammatory action, make it a good herb for reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Açaí Berry Extract (Euterpe oleracea)

Acai berries come from a palm tree native to the Amazon. They are a rich source of antioxidant anthocyanins and other phenolics. They are also high in B vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein, oleic acid (omega-9) and omega-3 fatty acids.

Apple Fruit Extract (Malus domestica)

appleApples are helpful for the liver and have long been considered a food supportive of good health. Herbalist Matthew Wood says that apples help the gallbladder and aid digestion of fatty foods.

Polyphenols and Quercitin

Polyphenols are antioxidant compounds found in many plants. Quercitin is a bioflavonoid and helps to stabilize mast cells reducing allergic reactions. Bioflavonoids work synergistically with vitamin C.

Resveratrol (from Japanese Knotweed Root)

Studies show that resveratrol has the ability to inhibit the oxidation of LDL, suggesting that it may prevent atherosclerosis through its cardioprotective and antiproliferative actions. In other words, resveratrol can help keep LDL and triglyceride levels in the normal range.

Selenium

Selenium is another mineral with antioxidant properties. It may help to slow the aging process and decrease exercise induced oxidative stress. It is helpful for the immune system.

Suggested Use

Take 1-2 capsules of Super ORAC twice daily for prevention of chronic illness or for reducing inflammation and pain in the body.

Selected References

Chinese Herbal Medicine: Materia Medica by Dan Bensky and Andrew Gamble 
Oriental Materia Medica: A Concise Guide by Hong-Yen Hsu
The Illustrated Chinese Materia Medica by Kun-Ying Yen
Nutritional Herbology by Mark Pedersen