Holistic Health Journal

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Korean Ginseng It’s simply amazing how natural herbs and foods can have multiple, wonderful health benefits! Take for instance ginseng (usually Korean/Asian Red GinsengPanax ginseng), it lives up to its cure-all description (Panax means “all-curing/healing” in Greek)! Add another health benefit to the list! Recently published research in Nutrients has demonstrated that ginseng can help treat and prevent influenza!

The Study

Research found that using red ginseng daily over the long term can prevent the effects of influenza A. Influenza is a deadly respiratory illness that affects millions each year with new strains having the capability of spreading rapidly worldwide! Over the long term, daily oral administration of red ginseng improved the survival of lung epithelial cells infected with influenza and also reduced associated inflammation! The researchers hypothesized that this could be due to the immune-modifying effects of red ginseng that prevented or reduced the symptoms of the flu!

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Six Other Amazing Benefits

Ginseng has been found to have a number of other amazing benefits! Although there are dozens (if not hundreds), below are six additional uses of ginseng (most commonly the Korean/Asian red ginseng).

Reverses Lung Damage from Asthma: Due to the serious side effects of current asthma therapies, such as osteoporosis and cataracts, scientists are searching for better alternatives. One promising alternative was published in the journal Allergy and Asthma Proceedings. This research found that mice that were given ginseng daily had a reduction in the symptoms of chronic lung damage associated with murine (mice) asthma. This could potentially be a future treatment for human sufferers.

Prevents Bad Breath: A 2009 study published in the journal Digestion found that red ginseng can help prevent bad breath that is associated with Helicobacter pylori bacteria. In fact, after 10 weeks of supplementation, bad breath was reduced completely!

Effective Against Obesity: Research published in the journal Phytotherapy Research found that a red ginseng constituent, ginsenoside Rg3, helped inhibit cells from completing the storage of fat. Likewise, it was found that when mice were administered wild ginseng orally they had a loss of body weight compared to control mice!

Reduces Allergy Symptoms: A 2012 study published in the journal Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Research found that fermented red ginseng had the ability to reduce allergy symptoms by reducing inflammation! The anti-inflammatory ability of fermented red ginseng was determined by giving participants six 250 mg pills of fermented red ginseng a day! It was found to reduce their allergy symptoms and improve their quality of life!

Fights Fatigue: Ginseng is a natural energy booster and can be used to help fight fatigue and give energy to cancer and multiple sclerosis patients! Researchers at the Mayo Clinic found that a daily dose of Wisconsin ginseng (at least 1,000 mg) could improve cancer patients’ quality of life by fighting fatigue and improving their energy!

Stimulates Hair Growth: For centuries, the Chinese have used ginseng for medicinal purposes, and this was commonly one of them. Ginseng can help the body adapt to stress! Stress is a known factor for hair loss (along with a number of other things). You can find many shampoos that have ginseng in them, or you can take a ginseng supplement orally as well!

Wrap-Up

Ginseng truly is an amazing plant and lives up to its name as a cure-all! Although it has been used medicinally for at least 5,000 years, we are still discovering its uses! Next time you are experiencing anything from fatigue to hair loss, take a look at this natural cure-all!

Vitamin D3Vitamin D supplementation — or just getting more time in the sun — may help stave off cognitive decline in older adults, according to a study recently published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

The study was conducted by researchers from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, the University of Alabama-Birmingham, the University of California-San Francisco, the University of Pittsburgh and the National Institute on Aging (NIA). It received funding from the NIA and the National Institute of Nursing Research.

Researchers have known for some time that both cognitive impairment and vitamin D deficiency are common in the elderly.

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“This study provides increasing evidence that suggests there is an association between low vitamin D levels and cognitive decline over time,” lead author Valerie Wilson, MD, said.

Lower vitamin D, worse cognitive performance

The researchers analyzed data on 2,777 well-functioning adults between the ages of 70 and 79 who were enrolled in the Dynamics of Health, Aging and Body Composition (Health ABC) study. The participants were all Medicare-eligible, community-dwelling white or black adults from Pittsburgh, Pa., and Memphis, Tenn., who joined the study between April 1997 and June 1998.

Participants underwent tests of their cognitive function at the beginning of the study and had their vitamin D levels measured 12 months later. Three years after that, participants underwent another cognitive test.

“With just the baseline observational data, you can’t conclude that low vitamin Dcauses cognitive decline,” Wilson said. But “[w]hen we looked four years down the road, low vitamin D was associated with worse cognitive performance on one of the two cognitive tests used.”

“It is interesting that there is this association and ultimately the next question is whether or not supplementing vitamin D would improve cognitive function over time,” he said.

It would take randomized, controlled studies to determine for sure whether vitamin D supplementation could stave off cognitive decline, however.

“Although this study cannot establish a direct cause and effect relationship, it would have a huge public health implication if vitamin D supplementation could be shown to improve cognitive performance over time because deficiency is so common in the population,” Wilson said.

She noted that further research could also determine whether specific cognitive abilities are more or less affected by vitamin D deficiency.

“Doctors need this information to make well-supported recommendations to their patients,” she said. “Further research is also needed to evaluate whether specific cognitive domains, such as memory versus concentration, are especially sensitive to low vitamin D levels.”

Sunlight for brain health

An increasing body of research is linking vitamin D to cognitive function. In a study conducted by researchers from the Peninsula Medical School in Exeter, the University of Cambridge and the University of Michigan, and published in theJournal of Geriatric Psychology in 2009, elderly adults with lower vitamin D blood levels also scored lower on tests of memory, attention and orientation in space and time. Studies have also shown that dementia patients tend to have lower vitamin D levels than their cognitively healthy peers.

Scientists have long known that vitamin D builds and maintains healthy bones and teeth, but they have only recently begun to explore the role that it plays in cognitive health. Research has also shown that the vitamin plays an important role in immune function and the prevention of autoimmune disorders, cancer and other chronic diseases.

Vitamin D, nicknamed the “sunshine vitamin,” is produced naturally by the skin upon exposure to sunlight. It takes just 15 to 30 minutes of sunlight on the unprotected face and hands for the average light-skinned person to get optimal levels; darker skin requires greater time in the sun.

addturmerictodiet
CurcuminBP
Turmeric – sometimes referred to as “Indian saffron” because of its bright orange/yellow color, has a range of amazing health benefits. As far as spices go, it should be considered a super-spice. Not only is it an essential ingredient of any good Indian curry, but it’s also a dye used for coloring fabric, and is also famously used as body paint in Indian marriage ceremonies.

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The versatility of Turmeric

Turmeric adds a slightly earthy, bitter, and peppery taste to foods and sauces. It is also added to different types of mustard to give it its vibrant yellow color. It contains a substance known as Curcumin, which is the source of its many health benefits. It’s been traditionally used in Indian cuisine, Ayurvedic medicine, and ancient Chinese medicine for thousands of years, and we’re about to take a look at a few of those awesome health benefits we mentioned earlier.

Reasons why you should eat Turmeric daily # 1 – Soothes IBD

Curcumin is a powerful anti-inflammatory, and can be used to soothe a number of inflammatory conditions, including inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). These diseases include things like Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis.

Reasons why you should eat Turmeric daily # 2 – Helps to control weight

It has been suggested that Turmeric may be able to help with weight loss, if you’re a little heavier than you want to be and are looking to trim down. The Curcumin it contains has the ability to stimulate the gallbladder and to increase bile production. Bile helps to digest fats, and many nutritionists and dieticians are suggesting that this can be used to aid with weight loss, and keeping your weight under control.

Reasons why you should eat Turmeric daily # 3 – Lowers Cholesterol and prevents heart disease

Eating Turmeric regularly can also help to prevent the onset of heart disease. The Curcumin that Turmeric contains is thought to be able to significantly reduce, or even prevent, the oxidization of bad cholesterol (LDL), which, if left unaddressed  leads to plaque forming in blood vessels, which increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. According to the Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology, (click on this link and then click on “show abstract” to read details) Curcumin not only reduces bad cholesterol levels by up to nearly 12%, but it’s also increases the levels of good cholesterol by 29%.

Turmeric also contains vitamin B6, which is known for being able to manage the levels of Homocysteine, a substance which promotes Methylation, a process that damages the walls of blood vessels.

Reasons why you should eat Turmeric daily # 4 – Helps to prevent cancer

Curcumin also has powerful antioxidant properties that are able to protect the colon from the damage that can be inflicted by free radicals. The cells in the colon are known to replicate very quickly, and because of this, mutations can proliferate, leading to the formation of cancerous cells. Curcumin can help to destroy these cancerous cells, stopping them from spreading through the body and causing tumors.

Curcumin may also be able to help prevent prostate cancer, which is the second most common cause of cancer death in US males. The non-scientific evidence offered is the fact that prostate cancer is very rare among men in India who consume regular amounts of Curcumin through the Turmeric that is a main ingredient of the curries they eat.

On a more scientific basis, tests carried out on laboratory mice showed a significant ability to retard the growth of prostate cancer cells.

Reasons why you should eat Turmeric daily # 5 – May prevent Alzheimer’s

In light of the belief that Curcumin may be able to delay, or ward off, the onset of Alzheimer’s; thanks to the powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant characteristics that it contains, the Alzheimer’s research center at the University of California has announced it is planning to carry out human trials. They will be looking for signs that the same properties that provide Curcumin with its ability to break up and remove the build-up of plaque in the body’s blood vessels, will work on the plaque that builds up in the brain; a plaque which contains a substance called Amylon-B. With Alzheimer’s it’s these plaques that form between neurons in the brain, that block off their ability to interact with each other.  It’s already been shown in the test tube (and in mice), that Curcumin binds to Amylon-B, preventing it from clumping and forming plaque platelets.

Another active ingredient that Turmeric contains is something called Bisdemethoxycurcumin which can boost what is known as macrophage activity. In people without Alzheimer’s, macrophage activity serves to seek out and eradicate abnormal cells. In people with Alzheimer’s, this activity becomes suppressed. Bisdemethoxycurcumin is able to return macrophage activity back to normal in those with Alzheimer’s.

Reasons why you should eat Turmeric daily # 6 – Reduces the effects of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Once again it’s the power of Curcumin’s anti-inflammatory properties that are highlighted. Rheumatoid arthritis is a debilitating autoimmune disease that affects millions of people the world over. In trials carried out in 2012, it was found that Curcumin significantly reduced what they referred to as the (Disease Activity Score – DAS).  You can follow this link through to an abstract of the research report on the greenmedia.com website.

Reasons why you should eat Turmeric daily # 7 – Anti diabetic characteristics

Curcumin also plays an important role in relation to diabetes, because it’s helps to lower the levels of sugar in the bloodstream, meaning that there is a significantly reduced chance of developing type II diabetes.

We’ve already discussed the fact that turmeric has powerful anti-inflammatory capabilities, and the reduction of inflammation in fat and liver tissue is another important factor in helping to prevent diabetes.

Reasons why you should eat Turmeric daily # 8 – Boosts liver’s detox capability

Turmeric may also be able to improve liver function by helping your liver to detox. Although I don’t like referring to tests carried out on laboratory animals too often, they are often the first and only facts we have to go on regarding the properties of various substances. In the case of Turmeric and liver function, when rats were given a Turmeric extract (as reported in the Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology), it sped up their liver’s detox capability.

Reasons why you should eat Turmeric daily # 9 – Enhances general health and well-being

Within the alternative medical fraternity, Turmeric is highly regarded as being able to improve the quality of life in terms of any holistic health lifestyle. It is said to be able to boost energy levels, detox the blood, soothe digestive disorders, dissolve gallstones, and prevent cancer.

It has been recommended as an alternative to many NSAIDs but unlike some, has no known undesirable side effects.

Let’s not forget about Turmeric’s other nutritional goodies too

With all the attention given to turmeric’s anti-inflammatory characteristics, its antioxidant capabilities, and its antiseptic and antibacterial content, it’s easy to lose track of the fact that it is also has a rich cache of nutritional components including vitamins B6 and C, fatty acids such as omega-3 and 6, and the minerals iron, manganese, and potassium. And of course, as we mentioned earlier, it’s an essential ingredient of any good Indian curry, or curry paste. It can also be added to casseroles and stews too.

Tips for getting your daily ration – of Turmeric that is!

Turmeric, with its unique blend of health benefiting ingredients is one of the great super-spices that promotes health and well-being, and of course a holistically healthy lifestyle. Making sure you eat a little Turmeric every day is a great way of enhancing your overall wellness. Of course that doesn’t mean to say that you’ve got to eat Indian curries all the time; you can use Turmeric as a condiment, sprinkled over any sort of foods, and you can also make tea with it, and here’s a link to an article by Megan Telpner about Turmeric tea with a couple of great recipes you can try out.

So there’s no excuse for not getting your daily dose of Turmeric one way or another. Follow this link to the University of Maryland webpage which contains daily dosage advice.

All you’ve just got to do now is to make sure you got always got some in your spice shelf.

Red Beet Root Formula (Fasting Plus)Beetroot, also often known as the beet, is a root vegetable that has been consumed since ancient times. Even the ancient Romans and Greeks thought beetroot had vitamins and minerals. In fact, today’s studies prove that not only are they loaded with beneficial nutrients, but beetroot is an amazing way to ensure that a person stays healthy.

A root vegetable, the reddish and bulbous portion of the beetroot is grown underground while its leafy top is seen above the ground. It grows in both tropical and temperate areas, and takes about two months to reach maturity. Though the plants have been cultivated for thousands of years due to their dietary benefits, it is only recently that their many health benefits have been explored.

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1. Beetroot enhances sex

The ancient Romans prized beetroot as an aphrodisiac and raised them as such. Today’s science supports this Roman practice. Researchers have found that beets contain high amounts of boron, an element that relates directly to the production of sex hormones in humans.

2. Beetroot equalizes mental health

Betaine, the same component that is used by practitioners to treat depression using certain methods, is found in beetroot. Another great element that beetroot contains is tryptophan, which has been shown to create a sense of well-being while also relaxing the mind. They are also a great way to lower blood pressure, which can help offset the effects of stress on the body.

3. Beetroot increases energy levels

Because the sugar contained in beetroot is released slowly throughout the body, even though the sugar levels are high, they help maintain steady energy levels. When compared to foods such as chocolate whose sugars are processed quickly by the body, beetroot, which is also low in calories, makes its energy boost last a great deal longer.

4. Beetroot is high in vitamins and minerals

Because they are high in vitamin B and iron, beetroot is especially beneficial to those women who are pregnant. Vitamin B and iron are necessary for the growth of new cells as well as replenishing the iron levels that often dip at this time of life. In addition, beetroot is high in the following vitamins and minerals: fiber, phosphorus, potassium, folic acid, beta-carotene, vitamin A, magnesium, vitamin C and betacyanin.

5. Beetroot helps cleanse the body

Beetroot works to cleanse and clarify the liver. It can also purify the blood and has been shown to help prevent some forms of cancer. Eating beetroot can also indicate whether a person has low amounts of stomach acid. This is shown if their urine turns pink.

Adding beetroot to the diet is easy. Many people simply add beetroot that is mashed and cooked to their smoothies. Another way to prepare it is by thinly slicing it before drizzling with olive oil and broiling it.

Sources for this article include:

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com

http://www.herbwisdom.com

http://www.whfoods.com

Vitamin DA new study out of Scandinavia has affirmed the importance of maintaining high vitamin D levels for healthy bones. Researchers from Sweden, after observing more than 1,000 elderly women over a 10-year evaluation period, learned that those who maintained consistent blood levels of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25OHD) above 50 nanomoles per liter (nmol/l) had nearly half the risk of suffering a bone fracture or osteoporosis compared to those with less than 50 nmol/l of 25OHD.

Science Daily reports that 1,044 Swedish women, all aged 75, were evaluated at baseline for vitamin D and asked to return in five years for a follow-up. A total of 715 women followed these instructions, upon which the researchers placed them into three vitamin D categories: low (75). Data on fracture and osteoporosis rates among all the women were gathered and compiled over the course of 10 years.

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At the conclusion of the study period, the team observed that the incidence of hip fractures was significantly lower among the women who were considered to be vitamin D sufficient, or who maintained 25OHD levels at 50 nmol/l or higher throughout at least the first five years following baseline. The average percentage of women in this category as well as the high category to suffer a FRAX fracture was found to be about 28 percent.

Conversely, the women in the low-25OHD category fared much worse in terms of bone health, shouldering a more than 45 percent fracture rate. This is nearly twice the fracture risk observed among women in the intermediate- and high-25OHD groups, illustrating what appears to be a causal relationship between vitamin Dlevels and bone health.

“This study concludes that in the population sample of elderly women, vitamin D insufficiency sustained over 5-years was associated with increased 10-year risk of osteoporotic fracture,” stated Professor Kristina Akesson from Lund University’s Clinical and Molecular Osteoporosis Research Unit, one of the study’s lead authors.

“This is part of a body of research which increasingly suggests that falls and fracture risk in the elderly could be lower by having higher vitamin D levels.”

Vitamin D supplementation a simple, inexpensive way to protect against disease

Prof. Akesson is also the chair of the International Osteoporosis Foundation’s “Capture the Fracture” campaign, which is advocating for more widespread awareness of the importance of vitamin D in preventing bone fractures. If more people simply supplemented with inexpensive vitamin D3 when natural sunlight exposure is not an option, they could significantly lower their risk of developing bone conditions.

“The International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) global recommendations for vitamin D advise daily intakes of 800 to 1000 IU/day [international units] in seniors for fracture and falls prevention,” adds Prof. Akesson. “And if the on-going research shows that vitamin D levels are increased it may be a relatively simple and low-cost public health measure that could have significant positive effects on the incidence of osteoporotic fractures with aging.”

To learn more about the health benefits of vitamin D, be sure to check out the Vitamin D Council:

http://www.vitamindcouncil.org.

Sources for this article include:

http://www.sciencedaily.com

http://www.vitamindcouncil.org

http://www.osteofound.org

Vitamin E“Vitamin E” is an umbrella term for a group of eight fat-soluble compounds that are found in a wide variety of whole foods. These compounds, of which alpha-Tocopherol is the most biologically active, have a large number of functions in the body. This article takes a closer look at those functions and provides information on how much of the vitamin our bodies need daily.

Antioxidant properties

Like vitamins A and C, vitamin E is an important antioxidant whose primary role in the body is to scavenge free radicals. Free radicals (which are produced by air and water pollution, cigarette smoke, radiation and the consumption of processed foods) are rogue atoms or atomic groups that have lost at least one electron, forcing them to steal electrons from neighboring molecules in the hope of stabilizing themselves. Unsurprisingly, this causes havoc in the body. In fact, unchecked free radical activity is a leading cause of accelerated aging as well as degenerative diseases like cancer, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease and cataracts. Since vitamin E can neutralize these free radicals, it can help prevent these serious diseases while ensuring that our skin remains smooth and radiant (this is why vitamin E is added to so many skin care products).

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Boosts the cardiovascular system

Vitamin E plays large number of roles in our cardiovascular systems. Firstly, it aids red blood cell formation, ensuring that our tissues receive enough oxygen (which, in turn, guards us from anemia). Secondly, it thins the blood by widening our blood vessels, preventing our platelets from clumping together and creating clots. Thirdly, it prevents “bad” LDL cholesterol from being oxidized, which prevents clogged arteries. For these reasons, high levels of vitamin E in the body have been linked to reductions in non-fatal heart attacks and strokes in subjects. Vitamin E is also shown to reduce complications relating to diabetes.

Maintains cell function

Like most other vitamins, especially the B vitamins, vitamin E helps maintain cell function. For example, vitamin E can aid cell differentiation — a process of turning generic cells into the specific types of cells our bodies need, resulting in improved cell communication. Of course, proper cell communication is essential if we want our bodies to maintain proper immune function, heal damaged tissues and perform countless other tasks correctly. Additionally, vitamin E is associated with gene regulation, meaning it helps moderate the performance and production of certain enzymes, proteins and hormones in our bodies.

How much vitamin E do we need?

According to official sources, the recommended daily intake of vitamin E is 15 milligrams (22.4 international units) for men and women above the age of 14. The highest safe levels of vitamin E for adults is 1,500 international units per day for natural (i.e. food-based) forms of vitamin E, and 1,000 international units per day for synthetic forms of vitamin E. Exceeding these levels might result in excessive bleeding stemming from the vitamin’s anticoagulant effects.

Vitamin E deficiencies are not something most of us need to worry about since a large number of foods contain it. That said, especially good sources of the vitamin include wheat germ oil, sunflower seeds, almonds, safflower oil, hazelnuts, peanuts, spinach and broccoli.

Sources for this article include:

http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/skin/vitaminE/

http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminE-QuickFacts/

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002406.htm

nailsandhealth

Fingernails and disease don’t go together in most minds… but they should. Your fingernails can give you valuable health warnings and signal the presence of serious disease.

Take a good long look at your nails. Hold a hand level with your nose about a foot out from your face and scrutinize each one.

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Look at the curves, dips, ridges, and grooves. Check out how thick or thin they are and if your nails are chipped or broken. Make a note of the color of the nail itself, the skin under it, and the skin around the nail.

Check your memory – have your nails always looked like this? Changes to your fingernails and disease onset are linked, so note any new developments. With this fresh view, compare what you see with this list of eight potential fingernail health warnings.

 1. Discolored nails

A healthy fingernail should be pink with a touch of pinkish white (moons) near the base. If your nails are a dull color or streaked with other colors, you may have a serious hidden health problem.

  • Green nails are a sign of bacterial infection
  • Red streaks in your nail bed are a warning of a heart valve infection
  • Blueish nails signal low oxygen levels in your blood
  • Dull nails mean a vitamin deficiency
  • White nails may signal liver disease, such as hepatitis
  • Dark stripes at the top (Terry’s nails) are associated with aging and congestive heart failure

Scrub those nails clean and really look at your nail color! Given the “rainbow” of potential health challenges, you want to be sure you see what your fingers are saying.

2. Thick nails

Thick nails are not natural. You want your nails to be strong, but if they resemble talons or claws more than traditional nails watch out!

  • Thickened nails that are otherwise normal can signal lung disease
  • Thick and rough-textured nails can signal a fungal infection
  • Thick and separated nails may mean thyroid disease or psoriasis
  • Unusual thickness may also be a symptom of a circulation problem

Thickening nails are a change that should tune you in to other health symptoms you may be ignoring. Also watch out for allergic reactions to new medications which can show up as suddenly thick nails!

3. Split nails

Split nails aren’t just occasionally chipped or shut in doors. Instead, these nails seem to flake away in layers. Don’t blame frequent handwashing or nail polish for everything, especially since:

  • Split nails result from folic acid, Vitamin C, and protein deficiencies
  • Split nails combined with a pitted nail bed (base) can signal psoriasis, which begins in nails 10% of the time according to WebMD
  • Split nails may result from chronic malnutrition

Watch what you eat and check the psoriasis connection to fight back and pay more attention to your health overall.

4.Concave (Spoon) nails

Spoon fingernails signal a number of internal issues. To be considered full spoons, nails will be soft and curve up, forming a dip that is often big enough to hold water. Spoon nails signal:

  • Iron deficiency (usually from anemia)
  • Hemachromatosis, a liver disorder where your body absorbs too much iron
  • Heart disease
  • Hypothyroidism

Your fingernail and health challenges go hand in hand – for many people, clearing up their health issue results in their spoon nails returning back to normal.

5. Pitted nails

Small dips or holes in your nails can be a result of banging up your hands – or they could be a sign that you need to look more closely at your health. Nail pitting can signal:

  • Psoriasis
  • Connective tissue disorder
  • Alopecia areata, an autoimmune disorder that causes hair loss
  • Zinc deficiency (when the pit seems to form a line across the middle of your nail)

Watch your hand to separate natural dents and dings from real, lasting pits. The first will clear up quickly, but pits linked to disease linger.

6. Ridges

Nails should have smooth surfaces with almost imperceptible lines. Obvious ridge lines are a signal that something is up with your body. Some of the most common conditions associated with heavy ridge lines are:

  • Iron deficiency
  • Inflammatory arthritis
  • Lupus (for red lines at the base of your nails)

Don’t just buff away your ridges – hear their warning!

7. Dry, brittle nails

You don’t need lotion or cuticle oil. If your nails are dry and brittle, you should check your hormone levels and bacterial health.

  • Thyroid disease leads to brittle, dry fingernails that crack and split easily
  • Fungus can make nails dry or even crumbly, affecting 12% of all Americans according to the American Academy of Dermatology

Both thyroid and fungal issues take time to treat, so you won’t see a difference in the look of your fingernails for a full growth cycle.

8. Clubbed nails

If you have plump skin that seems to swell around the nail, or if your nails seem to have puffed around your fingers, they are said to be “clubbed”. Clubbed nails can mean:

  • Lung disease, especially if you already have trouble breathing
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Liver disease
  • AIDS

Your fingernails won’t be the only signs of these diseases, but they can provide confirmation or motivation to seek medical care.

Don’t ignore your hands or the health warnings they send. Fingernails and disease are more closely related than you think – check your nails often to protect your health!

Featured Product:

References

Trimarchi, M. Top 5 Things Your Nails Say About Your Health. Discovery Health.

Mayo Clinic. Slide Show: 7 Fingernail Problems Not to Ignore. 2011 Dec 8.

Rauh, S. Healthy Fingernails: Clues About Your Health. WebMD.

Danoff, R. Can Fingernails Indicate a Health Problem? MSN Health.

Wikipedia. Nail Disease.

AnxiousLessAnxiousLess is specifically formulated to help you quickly and effectively deal with situational anxiety brought on be stress-inducing every day events, like traffic problems, cranky kids, extra pressure at work — and especially on those hectic days when the answer is all the above.

New AnxiousLess is a blend of 5 different ingredients that provide the fast, effective relief you need to calmly face each day, and its complications, with renewed confidence.

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Benefits of AnxiousLess include:

  • Helps quickly ease anxiousness without drowsiness 
  • Promotes a feeling of confidence and security
  • Improves your mood while helping to reduce fatigue 
  • Offers safe, non-habit forming relief

How It Works:

This fast-acting, non-drowsy formula helps relieve the nervousness, worry and tension associated with daily living. Featuring Sceletium tortuosum—a time-honored South African herb—and key nutrients that replenish your body’s stress-coping reserves, AnxiousLess targets feelings of anxiousness from multiple pathways. Designed to quickly calm your mind, this proprietary blend of natural ingredients helps boost your mood and reduce fatigue.

KEY INGREDIENTS:

anxiousless

Zembrin® (Sceletium tortuosumextract)—harvested in South Africa and used by locals for centuries, this herb supports the nervous system as it facilitates feelings of calm and supports a positive mood. This standardized patented extract represents the full, unaltered phytochemical profile of the plant.

L-Theanine—this unique amino acid increases the brain’s alpha wave activity, which seems to reduce occasional anxiety and encourage feelings of relaxation and calm without drowsiness. Studies have associated taking L-Theanine with improvements in both mental alertness and stress response.

Thiamin—Deficiency of this important nutrient has been associated with decreased levels of GABA, a key Central Nervous System metabolite tied to many mood and anxiety disorders.

Magnesium—Studies have shown that a diet deficient in magnesium can lead to increased anxiety and depression.

Zinc—Supplementation with zinc has been shown to be significantly effective in reducing levels of both anger and depression.

So, the next time life gives you lemons, alleviate the stress the natural way, with fast-acting AnxiousLess. Because one of those days is one too many. Also, check out the video, which goes deeper into the blend that’s in AnxiousLess:

Milk ThistleMilk thistle is most well-known and widely-studied for its benefits on liver health. However, milk thistle also has numerous other proven health benefits not many know about.

Milk thistle boosts overall liver function and health, protecting the liver from damaging toxins, detoxifying it, regenerating its cells, and giving it a glutathione boost.

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Research has also shown milk thistle helps with various liver conditions, including cirrhosis, poisoning, hepatitis (viral or alcoholic, B or C), sluggish liver, liver congestion, fatty liver, jaundice, and other liver issues related to drug use and alcoholism.

Boosting the liver results in other benefits

Milk thistle’s positive effects on liver health have a direct impact on a number of bodily functions and health conditions.

  • It helps those attempting to recover from substance addiction, including drugs and alcohol.
  • By boosting the liver’s ability to deal with environmental triggers, milk thistle can help those suffering from chronic allergies, especially multiple-chemical sensitivity. 
  • Milk thistle increases bile production by the liver, which then helps the body to remove via bowel movements the testosterone by-products that cause acne. Further, by boosting liver function, milk thistle helps to remove harmful toxins in the blood which can cause skin flare-ups. Along the same vein, this makes milk thistle also helpful for other skin conditions like chronic rashes, eczema and psoriasis.
  • Increased bile production helps to relieve constipation.
  • The additional bile helps to protect the intestinal lining, which then aids in alleviating Crohn’s disease symptoms.
  • Milk thistle also helps to relieve intestinal inflammation, and it has been used for inflammatory bowel disorders.
  • By protecting the liver, milk thistle protects the body against the potential harmful effects of long-term prescription medication use and harmful toxins in the workplace.
  • This herb has been successfully used against deathcap mushroom poisoning.
  • Traditionally, naturopathic physicians and herbalists have used milk thistle to help deal with hemorrhoids and varicose veins. A clogged or sluggish liver does not process blood very well, and that tends to cause blood to back up in the leg veins and rectum. Thus, with a healthier liver, these conditions can be improved.
  • A cleaner and better functioning liver is better able to process and deal with various hormones in the body, promoting better hormonal balance.
  • This makes milk thistle helpful for premenstrual syndrome and prostate enlargement.
  • Some healing modalities, eg. Traditional Chinese Medicine and French folk medicine, see the liver as closely tied to emotional well being. This makes sense because the liver metabolizes neurotransmitters and hormones and thus has great influence on the overall biochemistry of the human body. A toxic or unhealthy liver can cause emotional discomfort, frustration, anger and even depression. By detoxifying and improving the health of the liver, milk thistle can thus help with emotional issues.

Other benefits

Silymarin in milk thistle is a potent antioxidant, while milk thistle can also increase the levels of superoxide dismutase (SOD) and glutathione, other strong antioxidants. Other health benefits of milk thistle include helping to:

  • stabilize blood cholesterol levels, reducing total cholesterol levels and helping to convert LDL cholesterol to HDL cholesterol.
  • stabilize blood sugar levels; used to help with type 2 diabetes.
  • improve appetite and digestion, including fat digestion.
  • improve gallbladder disorders, including dealing with gallstones.
  • boost immunity.
  • alleviate some symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, including heartburn and constipation; increased glutathione levels also help slow the disease’s progress.
  • improve adrenal disorders.
  • prevent altitude sickness.
  • prevent and/or fight against certain types of cancer.
  • slow atherosclerosis development by preventing plaque formation on artery walls.

Sources for this article include:

Stengler, Mark, ND. The Natural Physician’s Healing Therapies: Proven Remedies Medical Doctors Don’t Know. New York, NY: Prentice Hall Press, 2010. Print.

Balch, Phyllis A., CNC. Prescription for Herbal Healing: An Easy-to-Use A-to-Z Reference to Hundreds of Common Disorders and Their Herbal Remedies. New York, NY: Avery, 2002. Print.

Bratman, Steve, Dr. Complementary & Alternative Health: The Scientific Verdict on What Really Works. London, UK: Collins, 2007. Print.

Gaby, Alan R., MD. The Natural Pharmacy: Complete A-Z Reference to Natural Treatments for Common Health Conditions. 3rd ed. New York, NY: Three Rivers Press, 2006. Print.

Murray, Michael, ND. The Pill Book Guide to Natural Medicines: Vitamins, Minerals, Nutritional Supplements, Herbs, And Other Natural Products. New York, NY: Bantam Books, 2002. Print.

 

 

Hawthorn BerriesThe hawthorn plant comes from the Northern hemisphere, more precisely from Europe, North America and certain parts of Asia. The tree produces berries that are filled with important flavonoids known to be vital antioxidants that are capable of effectively removing damaging free radicals. The hawthorn berries certainly help to maintain healthy cardiovascular functions by protecting veins and arteries while contributing to better blood circulation.

Doctors have apparently started taking advantage of their amazing health benefits all the way back in the first century. In America, the early 1800s is when hawthorn berries were introduced in order to treat circulatory and respiratory problems. They can certainly have a strong impact when faced with cardiovascular conditions such as an irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, chest pains and arteriosclerosis.

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Hawthorn’s ability to improve blood flow was demonstrated in a study that involved sixty individuals suffering from angina. For a period of three weeks, some of these people were only given a placebo while the others took a daily 180 mg dose of hawthorn berry leaf extract. By the end of the three weeks, the extract group was capable of exercising for much longer periods of time without reporting any chest pains. A very noticeable increase in overall blood flow was thought to be the main reason for this positive outcome.

Hawthorn extracts can treat chronic heart failure

The New York Heart Association reported several trials that came up with compelling results proving hawthorn extracts can control and improve all symptoms related to chronic heart failure. Data was analyzed and gathered from more than 850 individuals involved in the studies. Scientists revealed that the hawthorn extracts not only outperformed the placebo factor, but they were directly responsible for major improvements such as an increased tolerance to exercises and generally speaking less shortness of breath or fatigue.

Back in 2002, a few dozen participants suffering from mild hypertension got involved in a 10- eek study in order to evaluate hawthorn’s ability to control its symptoms. Besides placebos, hawthorn and magnesium supplements were given to the selected individuals. Although it may be hard to assess if hawthorn had a much bigger impact than magnesium, it was evident that the extracts played a vital role in drastically diminishing diastolic blood pressure and anxiety in comparison with placebo extracts.

In another study, 1200 mg hawthorn extracts were administered daily to type 2 diabetes patients for a period of 16 weeks. Final results convincingly showed that blood pressure was lowered in the hawthorn group rather than the placebo one.

Past tests did show conclusive evidence that regularly taking up to 900 mg daily doses of hawthorn extracts can be as effective as taking low doses of a prescriptive heart medication such as Captopril.

Vitamin D3Supplementation with vitamin D might decrease the severity and slow the progression of multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a study conducted by researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health and Bayer HealthCare, and published in the journal JAMA Neurology.

The study was funded by the National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

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MS is a degenerative central nervous system disorder, believed to result from malfunction of the immune system. There is no cure for the disease, which can lead to problems with everything from muscle strength and control to balance, vision and even cognitive function. Approximately 2.5 million people worldwide suffer from MS.

Previous studies have linked the risk of developing autoimmune disorders generally and MS specifically with low levels of vitamin D. In addition, studies of long-term MS patients have shown a correlation between lower vitamin D levels and more severe disease symptoms. Such studies have been unable to determine, however, whether low vitamin D levels cause more severe disease symptoms, or vice versa.

A miracle treatment?

For the new study, researchers examined data from 465 MS patients who had enrolled in the BENEFIT (Betaseron in Newly Emerging Multiple Sclerosis for Initial Treatment) trial between 2002 and 2003, and who lived in Canada, Israel or one of 18 European countries.

The BENEFIT trial was designed to examine how the effectiveness of interferon beta-1b treatment for MS changed depending on when the drug was administered, but researchers also collected data on vitamin D levels at the beginning of the study and every two years thereafter.

The researchers found that, over the course of five years, early-stage MS patients with adequate vitamin D levels at the time of diagnosis had a 57 percent lower rate of new brain lesions, a 57 percent lower relapse rate and a 25 percent lower annual increase in lesion volume than patients with lower vitamin D levels. Such patients also had significantly less brain volume loss, a major predictor of disability.

The findings suggest that vitamin D actively protects the brain from the symptoms and progression of MS, and that it also makes the particular drug studied even more effective.

“The benefits of vitamin D appeared to be additive to those of interferon beta-1b, a drug that is very effective in reducing MS activity,” lead author Alberto Ascherio said. “The findings of our study indicate that identifying and correcting vitamin D insufficiency should become part of the standard of care for newly diagnosed MS patients.”

Mounting evidence

The study is only the latest to strengthen the links between vitamin D and improved MS outcomes. For example, a 2012 study found that that, among people with relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS), “always” wearing sunscreen was associated with a 1.8 times higher disability rate than “sometimes” or “never” wearing sunscreen. Lifetime sun sensitivity (defined as an inability to spend more than 30 minutes in the sun without burning) was also associated with a 1.8 times higher disability rates, while spending at least as much time in the sun each day as the average non-MS patient was associated with a 30 percent lower disability rate.

Another study, published in Acta Neurologica Scandinavica in 2013, found that increased exposure to sunlight decreased rates of depression and fatigue among MS patients.

Vitamin D deficiency remains widespread, particularly in regions farther from the equator. However, your body can make all the vitamin D you need from a short amount of unprotected sun exposure to the face and hands each day — just 15 to 30 minutes for light-skinned people, and more for those with darker skin.

Sources for this article include:

http://www.hsph.harvard.edu

Saw PalmettoSaw palmetto is the perfect example of an herb that has been pigeonholed in people’s minds by scientific research. Most people think of these berries from a small palm tree as remedies for the prostate—and they are—but they are also much more than this.

Native to North America, saw palmetto was used for indigestion, respiratory infections, snake bites, insect bites, skin ulcers by the indigenous people of Florida, and other areas where it grows. It was even used for food; a nutritious flour was made from the ground berries. It was also considered a valuable remedy to counteract some of the effects of aging, including wasting (weight loss), lung weakness and urinary problems.

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Settlers first considered this palm a nuisance plant and cleared it from the land. However, they noticed that their animals would lean over the fences to get at the black fruit. Then they noticed that these animals were healthier than the ones who did not eat the berries. This prompted farmers to gather the plant and feed it to their animals, and then eat it themselves.

Nicknamed “the plant catheter,” the herb is given to strengthen the bladder. Infusions have been used as a diuretic to improve urine flow and to treat both irritable bladders and enlarged prostate glands. Herbalists often prescribe saw palmetto for reduced or absent sex drive, impotence and frigidity, too.

Saw Palmetto and BPH For at least 150 years, both European and American physicians considered saw palmetto a valuable remedy for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Medical doctors used the berries as a urogenital tonic for both men and women. It was dropped from the US National Formulary in 1950, as conventional physicians were not convinced of its effectiveness. (It was reinstated in 1998). Its popularity continued in Europe and regained its status as a valuable remedy in the 1960s. At that time, French researchers discovered that by concentrating the oils of saw palmetto berry, they could maximize the herb’s effectiveness. They also isolated specific compounds and found that these compounds have demonstrable effects on the prostate gland.

BPH-wikipediaToday, saw palmetto is an accepted medical treatment for BPH in New Zealand, France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain and other European countries. It is also increasing in popularity in the United States. BPH affects the quality of life for a quarter of men over the age of 40 and 90% of men in their 80s. Symptoms include difficulty starting urination, weak urinary stream, frequent urination, dribbling after urination, and waking up several times at night to urinate. (BPH is not a form of prostate cancer, that is a different problem).

Even today, the exact cause of BPH is unknown, as is saw palmetto’s complete mechanism of action. As with all medicinal plants, the benefits are due to a combination of compounds working together, not just a single “active” ingredient. Research and experience suggest that saw palmetto has antispasmodic activity, affects hormonal activity and has anti-inflammatory and diuretic properties.

Saw palmetto appears to have a balancing effect on male sex hormones. It not only helps BPH, it also helps to preserve male potency, while tonifying and revitalizing the organs of the urogenital system. It appears that urinary symptoms due to mild to moderate prostate enlargement respond more readily to saw palmetto than symptoms due to severe enlargement.

Action of Saw Palmetto on the Prostate

Research and clinical studies suggest that extracts of saw palmetto help reduce BPH and prostatitis by inhibiting the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT is five times more potent than testosterone and is believed to be responsible for prostate enlargement. It appears to overstimulate growth of prostate tissue. By inhibiting the conversion of testosterone to DHT, saw palmetto inhibits this growth of prostate tissue.

Another mechanism is that the herb has an anti-estrogenic action in prostate tissue. Apparently, it inhibits both androgen and estrogen receptor activity which, again, prevents over stimulation of prostate tissue. It is interesting to note that the prostate and uterus are embryologically analogous tissue and that as men age, testosterone levels drop and estrogen levels rise.

A number of double blind studies comparing saw palmetto and the drug Proscar, found both to be equally effective at shrinking the prostate. Proscar lowered PSA levels (prostate-specific antigen), whereas saw palmetto leaves PSA levels unchanged. Cancer raises PSA levels, and lab tests that measure PSA are used to screen for prostate cancer. Lower PSA measurements may have the unintended effect of masking prostate cancer. Saw palmetto won’t do this. Other side effects of Proscar include decreased sexual function. Saw palmetto causes no significant side effects, improves sexual function, but still improves urinary flow rate and reduces other symptoms of BPH.

Saw palmetto is also good for prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate) and prostate infection. It is anti-inflammatory and in cases of prostate infection, stimulates urination, causing the infectious microorganisms to be flushed out.

Saw palmetto is fat-soluble, so it is best taken with meals. Regular use over 4 to 6 weeks can help decrease frequency of urination, especially during the night, by reducing inflammation of the bladder and by allowing the bladder to empty more completely. Before self-treating with saw palmetto, be sure to get a proper medical evaluation to rule out prostate cancer. Saw palmetto is going to be of little help if the problem is prostate cancer.

Saw palmetto can be even more effective when combined with other herbs for the prostate. It is an ingredient in Men’s Formula (for prostatitis and BPH), DHEA-M (a blend for enhancing men’s testosterone levels), X-A (for impotence, erectile dysfunction and loss of sexual desire in men or women), Men’s X-Action (another blend for impotence, erectile dysfunction and loss of desire more specifically targeted to men).

Other Uses for Saw Palmetto

saw-palmetto-SFHowever, as we have indicated, saw palmetto is more than just a prostate remedy. When it was introduced into Western medical practice, it was used for many other purposes. Saw palmetto is a digestive tonic. It enhances digestion and assimilation of nutrients. It is an excellent food for elderly men and women who are losing weight and having trouble digesting their food. This makes a great remedy for wasting diseases, debility and failure to thrive.

There is some evidence that saw palmetto can enhance breast size in women which makes it a popular ingredient in herbal formulas for increasing the bust line in women, such as Breast Enhance. The problem is that it does this by enhancing overall metabolism and can result in modest overall weight gain, not just increase in breast size.

Saw palmetto was also traditionally used as a remedy for the lungs. It relieves irritation of the mucus membranes and has been used for pertussis, laryngitis, coughs, tuberculosis, bronchitis and asthma. It is also an immune system tonic making it beneficial for people who catch colds easily.

Because saw palmetto is a non-irritating diuretic, it is also useful for inflammatory conditions of the urinary passages. Combined with other herbs, it can be helpful for painful, burning urination, urinary tract infections and interstitial cystitis. It is best used in combination with other remedies for these conditions.

Because it reduces excess androgens in women, saw palmetto can be useful for polycystic ovaries and ovarian pain in women. It can reduce the pelvic congestion that causes menstrual pain in some women, too.

Saw palmetto has been used as a food, so it is a very safe herb for long term use. However, because of its potential hormonal effects, pregnant women should avoid saw palmetto. Breast-feeding women should also avoid saw palmetto as it inhibits prolactin and may interfere with nursing.

Selected References

Saw Palmetto by Ray Sahelian
Saw palmetto
 by EBSCO CAM Publishing
Prostate
 by J.C. Carraro, et al.
Herbal Supplements and Therapy
 by Merrily A. Kuhn and David Winston
The Comprehensive Guide to Nature’s Sunshine Products
 by Tree of Light
The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants
 by Andrew Chevallier