Three Healing Oils to Add to Your Arsenal

22 Dec

Three Healing Oils to Add to Your Arsenal

 

It’s not surprising that when it comes to healing oils some are more widely recognized than others. For instance, omega-3 oils such as fish and flax and olive oil are well known since their health benefits have been touted for quite some time. On the other hand, krill oil and coconut oil are examples of healing oils that have become popular in more recent years.

Regardless of their familiarity and/or popularity, the number of healing oils available and the benefits they provide are myriad. Obviously, I don’t have the space here to tell you about all of them, but—in addition to those mentioned above—here are a few more healing oils to consider adding to your arsenal of natural therapies.

Healing Oil #1: Olbas, a Great Natural Cold Remedy and More

Switzerland is renowned for its watches, mountains, chocolate—and Olbas oil. Developed more than 100 years ago, this healing oil is a unique blend of menthol, clove, eucalyptus, and other essential oils.

Olbas oil is a great natural cold remedy. Its penetrating vapors help open up clogged nasal passageways, allowing for decreased congestion and easier breathing. This soothing oil can also be used as a massage oil or rubbed into tired, worn muscles. It even takes the sting out of bug bites.

There are a number of ways you can reap these benefits of Olbas oil. They include sprinkling a few drops of this healing oil onto a handkerchief and inhaling as needed throughout the day, or adding it to a warm bowl of water or a hot bath for an aromatherapy-like experience. For nighttime use, a tissue dabbed with Olbas oil and placed in a pillowcase can ease congestion. Additional Olbas oil remedies include lozenges, cough syrups, analgesic salves, and teas. Look for these products in health food stores and drugstores or order at olbas.com. Use as directed.

Healing Oil #2: Oregano Is Also Effective for Colds, Flu, and Other Illnesses

You probably use oregano to season your favorite Italian recipes, but this herb has been extolled for its germ-fighting abilities for centuries. The healing oil, which comes from the leaves, contains several medicinal compounds that have been shown to kill microbes, fungus, and even parasites—making it a boon for several health conditions.

In lab studies conducted at Georgetown University, oregano oil inhibited and deactivated human corona virus (which causes colds), Streptococcus (strep throat), and influenza A. It is also an effective treatment for yeast, fungal, and bacterial overgrowth in the intestines.

Oregano oil is widely available in health food stores and online.

Healing Oil #3: Rosemary for Better Cognition and Mood

Certain scents have powerful effects on people—the entire perfume industry is based on this premise. Yet there is little research regarding how specific odors affect us. A team of scientists set out to expand this body of knowledge by studying the effects of rosemary oil on mood and cognitive ability.

Study participants were randomly exposed to the scent of rosemary oil for four to 10 minutes (participants didn’t know they were being intentionally exposed). They were then tasked with detecting number patterns and completing various subtraction problems, while mood assessments and blood samples were taken before and after each session.

Researchers found that the longer the participants were exposed to the scent, the higher the concentration of eucalyptol (the active component of rosemary) in their blood. And those with higher concentrations completed the tasks more quickly and accurately. They also reported feeling more content after exposure.

To give yourself a natural lift, just soak a cotton ball with rosemary essential oil and place it nearby. You can find rosemary essential oil in health food stores and online.

Now it’s your turn: What healing oils have you used or would be interested in trying?

Dr, Whitaker

O Lord my God, in thee do I put my trust

14 Dec

O Lord my God, in thee do I put my trust: save me from all of them that persecute me, and deliver me.
Psalms 7:1

Lower Stress and Cortisol Naturally

12 Dec

Lower Stress and Cortisol Naturally

 

As you probably know, chronic stress can have a multitude of adverse effects on your overall health. For example, it significantly contributes to mental dysfunction and lack of physical and emotional energy. (I’ll talk more about one of these particular negative effects of stress on the body a little later.) That’s why it’s very important to do what you can to manage and lower stress. Some natural ways to manage stress that Dr. Whitaker has recommended in the past include exercise, meditation, aromatherapy, and GABA supplements.

Dr. Whitaker wants to share another way to safely and naturally lower stress—and subsequently, enhance mood, mental outlook, and well-being. It’s an all-natural, clinically studied patented combination of two botanical extracts called Relora®. To understand why Relora works so effectively to lower stress, it helps to have a basic understanding of the body’s natural physiological response to stress.

Cortisol’s Role in the Adverse Effects of Stress on the Body

During the stress response the brain and other tissues are bathed in stress hormones. One of them is cortisol. Unfortunately, unlike other stress hormones that subside after things have quieted down, cortisol remains in the body for hours. And in situations of chronic stress, cortisol levels remain high for even longer, often dangerously so. And the older we get, the longer cortisol remains elevated.

As Dr. Whitaker mentioned earlier, one of the negative impacts of chronic stress on health and well-being is mental dysfunction. Animal studies have demonstrated that prolonged stress and high levels of cortisol accelerate brain aging and damage the brain, particularly the hippocampus, which affects learning and memory. It appears to do the same in humans.

A study conducted at McGill University in Montreal periodically measured the blood levels of stress hormones in 130 healthy people between the ages of 55 and 87 over five years. High levels of these hormones were associated with memory and attention difficulties.

Based on these findings, it appears that one of the best ways to avoid the negative effects of stress on the body is to use therapies that lower cortisol as well. And that’s where Relora can help.

Lower Stress + Lower Cortisol = Better Health

Relora, which is a combination of two botanical extracts (Magnolia officinalis and Phellodendron amurense) that have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years to treat anxiety and stress, has been shown to modulate the stress response and lower cortisol.

In a randomized, double-blind, clinical trial, 56 people who had moderate levels of perceived psychological stress received either 250 mg of Relora or a placebo twice daily for four weeks. On the first and last day of the study, participants provided three saliva samples (morning, midday, and evening) and completed a Profile of Mood States (POMS) questionnaire.

At the conclusion of the study, Relora had helped to lower cortisol levels by 18 percent compared to placebo. The POMS results also revealed that those participants who had supplemented with Relora experienced a higher global mood state (11 percent), lower amounts of fatigue (31 percent), and less confusion (27 percent).

If you’d like to give Relora a try, look for products containing it and use as directed.

Now it’s your turn: What other techniques or supplements have you tried to help lower stress and maintain a positive mood?

Dr. Whitaker

The Ultimate Cleanse Guide

10 Dec

 

We’ve all heard about cleanses, but it seems like there are enough out there to keep you cleansing for decades without having to repeat. Trying to make sense of it all? Here’s what you need to know about cleanses and where you should start.

Why Should You Cleanse?

Cleansing is like turning over a new leaf. In the same way that we might resolve to start a new exercise regimen, cleansing helps give us the kick in the pants we need toward healthier living. For most people, cleansing will mean venturing into the vegetable and fruit aisles to pick out exotic-looking plants they might never have otherwise tried. We know how good these foods are for us, and this is the gateway into learning how to live and eat healthier.

Talk to Your Doctor

Before starting any new diet, you should talk to your doctor, and cleanses are no different. Certain health conditions or medications may be affected by a sudden, significant change in diet or by adding a supplement in a way that can be dangerous or deadly. Let your doctor know you’re thinking of doing a cleanse and ask if they think it’s a good idea and whether there’s anything you should be thinking about. It’s important to open a dialogue so you can be as safe as possible.

Why Do You Want to Cleanse?

There are a lot of plans out there and the first step is to figure out why you’re doing the cleanse. Is it weight loss? Feeling like you need to turn the corner of healthy eating? Concern about environmental toxins? Be clear with yourself about what your goal is at the beginning because sticking with a new cleanse can be challenging at the beginning. Having a clear goal will help you stick with it when you’re deciding whether you really want to eat those purple leaves.

Where Should You Start?

Most cleanses are variations on a similar theme: eat a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts and beans of different colors and varieties and include herbs and spices when possible. Fruits and vegetables are the most vitamin- and nutrient-dense foods we know of, and color shows that they’re full of antioxidants and phytonutrients needed for a wide variety of cellular functions. When you pick a cleanse, make sure this is the basis of the cleanse. If there doesn’t seem to be a lot of fruits and vegetables, steer clear.

Benefits of Milk; Fact or Fiction

8 Dec

Benefits of Milk: Fact or Fiction?

 

Everyone knows all about the benefits of milk. It’s good for your teeth, it’s essential for strong bones, and everyone should drink three cups a day in order to maintain good health. Well, guess what? Dr Whitaker says all these claims are bogus.

The Truth About Milk

First off, cows’ milk is a species-specific food for calves. It is no more appropriate to drink the milk of cows than it is to drink the milk of other mammals. We do it because we’ve always done it, and on closer inspection, you’ll see that the benefits of milk are wildly overstated—and that this “healthy” beverage is anything but.

Truth About Milk: Does Not Strengthen Bones—and Increases Risk of Death

American parents pass the myth about milk building strong bones on to their children, and misguided nutritionists reinforce it. However, in a 20-year study of more than 100,000 people, Swedish researchers discovered that a high intake of milk had zero effect on fracture rates in men—and actually increased risk of fractures in women.

You read that right. The truth about milk is that high consumption causes the very problem it’s advertised to prevent. Even worse, this study showed that the women and, to a lesser degree, men who drank the most milk had a higher risk of death!

Are There Any Benefits of Drinking Milk?

Dr. Whitaker says the  benefits of milk as a health drink aren’t legitimate either. While eating fruits, vegetables, and whole grains has been documented to lower the risk of heart attack, high blood pressure, and cancer, the widely touted health benefits of milk are questionable at best. In fact, dairy products have been linked to osteoporosis, heart disease, obesity, cancer, allergies, and diabetes.

The association with heart disease is particularly strong. While we’ve always known that high-fat dairy products, such as whole milk and cheese, are significant contributors to high cholesterol levels and heart disease, nonfat milk is also a major player in bringing on heart disease. Why? Because nonfat milk, which contains substantial amounts of dairy protein, is very low in B vitamins. The metabolism of all this protein in the absence of B vitamins contributes to the buildup of homocysteine, a marker for heart disease.

Another Truth About Milk: It’s Bad For Children

Dr. Whitaker gives three reasons kids and milk don’t mix. First, drinking too much cow’s milk can lead to iron-deficiency anemia in infants and toddlers. This is why the American Academy of Pediatrics discourages giving children milk before their first birthday.

Second, it has been shown that high milk consumption in childhood can contribute to the development of type 1 diabetes. Certain proteins in milk resemble molecules on the beta cells of the pancreas that secrete insulin. In some cases the immune system makes antibodies to the milk protein that mistakenly attack and destroy the beta cells.

Third, milk allergies are very common in children and cause sinus problems, diarrhea, constipation, and fatigue. Additionally, they are a leading cause of the chronic ear infections that plague many children under the age of six. Milk allergies are also linked to behavior problems in children and to the disturbing rise in childhood asthma. (Milk allergies are equally common in adults and produce similar symptoms.)

Milk: It Doesn’t Do a Body Good

So, what’s the ultimate truth about milk? It’s no health food, that’s for sure. Drink it sparingly if at all. A splash in your coffee or on your cereal every once in a while is fine, but avoid drinking more than that. For hydration purposes, Dr. Whitaker says water, and tea are his number-one recommendations.

A note on other dairy products: In the Swedish study I mentioned earlier, moderate amounts of yogurt and cheese were actually associated with lower risk of fracture and death, so feel free to include a little Greek yogurt or cheese in your diet.

Finally,  Dr. Whitaker says although we’ve been duped with talk of all these health benefits of milk for the last 80 years or so, remember, folks, these claims are “udder” nonsense.

Now it’s your turn: Does the truth about milk surprise you?

Homeopathic Remedies: Do They Work?

5 Dec

Homeopathic Remedies: Do They Work?

Ever since the early 70s, when I first learned about them, I’ve seen and heard tales of the miraculous benefits of homeopathic remedies: the sprained ankle that was healed in record time with Arnica montana, the flu symptoms that were stopped in their tracks by Oscillococcinum, and countless others.

If you’re skeptical about claims for homeopathic medicine, I don’t blame you. You may be thinking, “What is homeopathy?” And, “If it’s so great, why don’t I hear more about it?” Let’s take a closer look.

What Is Homeopathy?

Homeopathy is a system of medicine that uses tiny doses of natural substances to stimulate the body’s own healing powers. The term homeopathy comes from the Greek words homoios (“similar”) and pathos (“suffering” or “sickness”). Homeopathic principles are older than Hippocrates himself, and have remained virtually unchanged since they were systematized by German physician and pharmacologist Samuel Hahnemann in the early 1800s.

Today, homeopathy is practiced worldwide. In Great Britain, members of the Royal Family have been homeopathic patients since Queen Victoria’s reign. French and German doctors regularly prescribe homeopathic remedies in place of drugs. And in India, there are hundreds of homeopathic medical schools.

Homeopathy was also enormously popular in America during the latter half of the 19th century. Whereas allopathic (conventional) doctors subjected their patients to bloodletting and leeches and dosed them with a mercury-laden purge, homeopathy was the choice of the elite. The advent of “scientific” medicine in the early 1900s overshadowed homeopathy, but the recent resurgence of natural medicine has brought this age-old form of healing back to the forefront.

How Does Homeopathy Work?

To benefit fully from homeopathic remedies, whether you’re treating yourself or family members, you should first understand homeopathy’s principles and how they differ from conventional medicine.

Homeopathy is based on the belief that “like is cured by like.” This law of similars says that a remedy can cure a disease if it produces symptoms similar to those of the disease in a healthy person. Here’s how the law of similars works in practice. Syrup of ipecac is often used to induce vomiting. For example, it may be indicated if a person accidentally ingests poison. However, if taken in a tiny homeopathic dose, ipecac will stop vomiting.

Or take Allium cepa, a homeopathic remedy made from the red onion. If you peel an onion, your eyes burn and water and you may get a runny nose and start sneezing. If you have similar symptoms during a cold—watery eyes, runny nose, and sneezing—a tiny homeopathic dose of Allium cepa can help your body overcome them. The same principle applies to allergy shots. Your allergist attempts to desensitize you to, say, hay fever, by giving injections of small amounts of ragweed pollen.

Homeopathic physicians regard symptoms not as troublemakers, but as signs that your body is attempting to heal itself. So instead of trying to mask symptoms with synthetic substances, homeopathy supports your body’s ability to fight illness.

Scientific Studies Confirm Homeopathic Remedies Work

So, how do we know that homeopathy works? In the past, homeopathic doctors have had to rely on their own successful cases to demonstrate homeopathy’s effectiveness. Responding to the oft-made charge that its success is due to the placebo effect, these doctors point out the amazing results they’ve had in treating infants, children, and pets—all of whom have no expectations of the outcome.

The first peer-reviewed, double-blind study on homeopathy to appear in an American medical journal confirmed its efficacy in treating acute childhood diarrhea (Pediatrics, May 1994). A study published in another peer-reviewed journal, Rheumatology International, showed that Arnica montana works as well as topical ibuprofen for the treatment of osteoarthritis of the hands.

To date, scientific reports in journals around the world show that homeopathic remedies are effective for treating conditions such as influenza, hay fever, gastritis, migraine headaches, and trauma. Homeopathic remedies can even shorten the duration of labor.

How Homeopathic Remedies Are Made

Eighty percent of homeopathic remedies come from plants, such as Arnica montana, which grows in mountain meadows throughout most of Europe. Other homeopathic remedies are prepared from minerals and animal sources—such as Apis mellifica, produced by honey bees. These natural substances are repeatedly diluted and shaken, so that the “potentized” medicine may only contain a minuscule amount of the original substance.

Many of the homeopathic remedies you’ll find in health food stores are “6x,” which refers to the number of dilutions. Strange as it may seem, the more diluted the solution, the more powerful and long-lasting the remedy.

One of the great advantages of these highly diluted preparations is the safety factor: All homeopathic remedies are nontoxic and free from side effects. In addition, there are no known drug interactions between homeopathic remedies and conventional drugs, so you can safely combine the two. You can also take your nutritional supplements while treating yourself with any homeopathic remedy.

Homeopathy at Home

One of the great satisfactions of homeopathy is that you can safely treat acute conditions—such as everyday aches and pains, colds, bumps, and bruises—without visiting a doctor or taking drugs. But prescribing the correct single remedy for any condition requires some study on your part.

If you look around on the Internet, you’ll find that there are dozens of remedies for colds alone. That’s because there are so many types of colds. If, for example, your face is flushed and your skin is hot and dry, Belladonna is indicated. If your cold makes you sluggish, chilly, and headachy, you’re likely to improve with Gelsemium.

As a newcomer to this type of medicine, you may want to start with combination homeopathic remedies. These specialized formulas combine three or more single ingredients known to be effective for a specific condition. You’ll find them clearly marked as such—i.e., colds, flu, allergy, insomnia, sinus, or PMS.

“Handle” Homeopathic Remedies With Care!

Homeopathic remedies are delicate, natural substances and, as such, require special care. Always keep them in their original containers. Keep all homeopathic remedies away from strong light, heat, and pungent odors such as camphor, menthol, mothballs, and perfume. For added protection, place them in an outer container. If you inadvertently pour out more than you need, discard the excess; do not put it back in the bottle. If stored correctly, homeopathic remedies will last indefinitely—they have no expiration date.

Homeopathic remedies also come in several forms: tiny tablets that are placed under the tongue, tinctures, ointments, gels, and sprays. Take oral homeopathic remedies in a “clean” mouth, meaning free of food, drink, tobacco, toothpaste, mouthwash, or anything other than plain water. And don’t put anything in your mouth except water for at least 15 minutes before and after the dose.

You can find a number of homeopathic remedies at health food stores and in some drug stores. Good brands include Boiron, Hyland, and Heel. To learn more about homeopathy or to locate a homeopathic physician in your area, visit the National Center for Homeopathy’s website.

Dr. Whitaker

The Addiction Willpower Connection

3 Dec

 

According to acupuncture and Oriental medicine, emotions originate internally from different organs inside the body. Conditions and events in the external world may provoke specific reactions but, ultimately, each person is responsible for the emotion generated. Any addiction, whether to drugs, alcohol, food, work, or other activity or substance, effectively blocks intelligence and suppresses healing abilities. Through these behaviors we choose to rely on the demands of addiction to dictate our lives, rather than taking responsibility to conduct ourselves in a healthy, life-affirming way.

Is there a body/mind connection to willpower? According to the principles of acupuncture and Oriental medicine, there is. Willpower, or “zhi,” is said to reside in the kidneys, and the state of the kidney qi directly correlates to the fortitude of our willpower.

The zhi represents willpower, drive and determination. It manifests as the urge to persist in one’s efforts and, when in deficiency, feelings of defeat, pessimism and depression may occur. Without strong willpower or zhi, one may easily succumb to the temptations of addiction. Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help cleanse and re-balance your body and mind to overcome a variety of addictions, and can help manage cravings. The safe space provided during treatment is both literal and metaphorical.

In Oriental medicine, there is a protective layer around the exterior of the body called Wei Qi, or defensive energy. Nourishing Qi can greatly enhance the body’s ability to thrive in times of stress and can aid in healing, prevent illness and increase vitality. Recharging your battery and regeneration of vital energy, Qi, will help you live, look and feel your best!

Several approaches may be used when treating addictions, generally starting with therapies that help cleanse and balance. Sometimes a vague, uneasy sensation takes over after or during the process of releasing an addiction. Perhaps for the workaholic patient, it is strange and alarming to experience leisure time. Addicts require fortitude to find replacements for the dependence on substances or addictive behaviors. This is why willpower, or zhi, needs treatment, to provide support and determination to discover the power within oneself–a universal necessity for overcoming any addiction.

To aid your transformation from addiction and addictive behaviors to healthier practices, try focusing on routine. Routine provides stability, and a new routine is necessary to break old habits. If your first thought in the morning is to reach for a cigarette, replace that action with another, healthier ritual.

The replacement ritual could be anything from reaching for warm water with lemon and a pinch of cayenne to refresh your system, or singing your favorite song or stating out loud your plans for the day. As long as the action is positive and consistent, it will serve your new routine and changing thought processes.

Deep breathing with visualization can also strengthen willpower and be used as a tool to curb hunger and cravings. Most patients report a marked decline in appetite and cravings with acupuncture treatment alone, but special herbs, healing foods and exercises can definitely enhance the efficacy of the treatments.

Everyone experiences addiction in different ways, with varying symptoms, and treatment is adjusted to the individual needs of the person seeking treatment. Some respond better to a sudden, jarring change in habits, whereas others may require a slower process to adjust to the changes that must be made. At some point during the detoxification process, the next step necessary to your healing will be addressed, helping to ensure that your strengthened willpower and emotional balance lasts a lifetime.
www.christinasarlo.com

The Many Health Benefits of Coconut Oil

1 Dec

The Many Health Benefits of Coconut Oil

 

When it comes to coconut oil uses, this fragrant oil is one exceptionally versatile natural product. What else can you eat, rub on your body, use to clean your house, and employ as a medical therapy? Let’s take a look at the many health benefits of coconut oil—and sort out the facts from the fiction.

Coconut Oil: Saturated—and Healthy

Unlike most plant oils, which are primarily monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, more than 90 percent of the fatty acids in coconut oil are saturated. That’s why it’s solid at room temperature, stable when heated, slow to become rancid—and often lumped together with animal and dairy fats. But coconut oil is markedly different.

Two-thirds of coconut oil’s saturated fats are medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). MCTs are easier for your body to digest and break down than the long-chain triglycerides in most other fats. They’re also metabolized differently. Rather than being stored as fat, MCTs are rapidly converted in the liver to ketones and burned for energy, so they rev up metabolism and discourage fat deposition.

Another unique feature of coconut oil is its high content of lauric acid. This fatty acid is converted in the body into monolaurin, a compound that has been shown in lab studies to be effective against herpes, influenza, hepatitis C, HIV, MRSA, candida, and other viruses, bacteria, and fungi.

Health Benefits of Coconut Oil: Fact or Fiction?

Although there are several health benefits of coconut oil, it is not a miracle cure. Lauric acid may be antimicrobial, but it’s premature to propose, as some do, that taking coconut oil provides significant protection against infectious diseases. MCTs do enhance metabolism and energy and may improve body composition, especially when taken in conjunction with exercise and a low-carbohydrate diet.

However, there’s no compelling evidence that coconut oil will help you lose weight. As for its ability to improve thyroid function, protect against osteoporosis and cancer, dissolve kidney stones, relieve symptoms of peptic ulcers, colitis, gallbladder disease, and more, all Dr. Whitaker can say is that he can find no scientific data to justify a lot of the claims made about these health benefits of coconut oil.

Heart Healthy Despite the Hype

There is one myth Dr. Whitaker want to dispel, and that is coconut oil’s “adverse effects” on cardiovascular health. This falsehood dates back to the 1980s, when coconut oil was virulently attacked for raising cholesterol and causing heart disease. Although this smear campaign was based on now-discredited science and propagated by oil industry insiders, coconut oil, which had long been a staple in commercially baked and fried foods, virtually disappeared from the American market—replaced by soybean and other partially hydrogenated oils. This debacle ushered in the trans fat era and intensified the low-fat/high-carb craze that has been a significant driver of our epidemics of obesity and diabetes.

Coconut oil does raise cholesterol—but it increases HDL cholesterol, which is a good thing because a high HDL level reduces risk of heart attack and stroke. Granted, no large clinical trials have been conducted to see if this translates into protection against heart disease, but its effect on cardiovascular disease is, at worst, neutral.

Health Benefits of Coconut Oil: MCTs, Ketones, and Dementia

Intriguing evidence suggests that coconut oil may play a role in the treatment of dementia. A few years ago,Dr. Whitaker wrote about Mary Newport, MD, a neonatologist from Florida whose 59-year-old husband Steve was suffering with early Alzheimer’s disease. He was declining rapidly—until Dr. Newport came across research on an experimental drug containing MCTs.

The drug wasn’t available, but she learned that coconut oil is a good source of MCTs and began giving it to Steve. His improvements were dramatic. He became more alert, attentive, and talkative, his gait improved, and he could recall names and carry out volunteer work.

How in the world could coconut oil help? An underlying issue in Alzheimer’s is inefficient glucose metabolism in the brain. Neurons that are unable to properly utilize glucose are starved for energy. As Dr. Whitaker mentioned earlier, MCTs in coconut oil are converted in the liver to ketones, which are your body’s backup energy source. Coconut oil simply revs up the production of ketones, thus providing depleted brain cells with an alternative fuel.

Researchers are currently looking into ketones, MCTs, and coconut oil as a therapy for Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative disorders. I’ll keep you posted as study results are published.

Other Coconut Oil Uses

There are several other coconut oil uses. In fact, this oil has a plethora of practical applications. It’s a great moisturizer, not only for dry skin but also for rashes, cold sores, hemorrhoids, diaper rash, psoriasis, fungal infections, and eczema. I’m not saying it will cure these skin problems, but organic extra-virgin coconut oil is a gentle, safe, inexpensive natural emollient—and it smells like an Almond Joy!

My stepdaughter tells me it’s the best hair conditioner around. She suggests working a handful of coconut oil into the hair, especially the dry ends, pin up or cover with a shower cap, leave on for at least an hour or even overnight, and wash thoroughly. It’s also a popular lip balm, makeup remover, underarm deodorant, and vaginal lubricant.

A rather unusual use, which is quite trendy these days, is an old Ayurvedic medicine practice called “oil pulling.” You put a tablespoon of coconut oil in your mouth and swish it around, much like you would mouthwash, for 15 minutes or longer before spitting it out. In addition to promoting oral health by “pulling out” bacteria and plaque, oil pulling is supposed to clear the sinuses, detoxify the body, and protect against all kinds of maladies. Dr. Whitaker can’t vouch for all this, but he can say it leaves your mouth feeling spic and span (and that 15 minutes of swishing oil around in your mouth is a long time).

One of the best coconut oil uses is cooking. Because it’s so stable, it can handle higher temperatures than polyunsaturated and monounsaturated cooking oils without breaking down. My friend Diana, who is a terrific cook, says, “I use it in any recipe that calls for butter or shortening. It’s healthier than Crisco and butter, soft and easy to mix, and has a nice, subtle flavor. I also use it in place of olive oil to sauté vegetables, chicken, etc. And because it doesn’t go rancid, it’s better than other oils for seasoning cast iron skillets and wooden cutting boards.” Additional household coconut oil uses include polishing furniture, leather, and plant leaves and lubricating hinges.

How to Reap the Health Benefits of Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is available online and in health food stores. Look for organic extra-virgin oil, especially for oral and topical use.

The therapeutic dose for dementia is 20 g of MCTs, the amount in 7 teaspoons of coconut oil, two or three times a day. To avoid stomach upset, start slowly, build up gradually, and take with meals. Coconut oil may also be mixed with pure MCT oil. To learn more, visit Dr. Newport’s website coconutketones.com.

Dr. Whitaker

Natural Treatments For Dry Eyes

28 Nov

Natural Treatments for Dry Eyes

 

According to Voltaire, tears may be “the silent language of grief,” but they’re also your eyes’ natural, protective lubricant. Unfortunately, millions of people have a condition called dry eye syndrome (also known simply as dry eyes) that is marked by problems with tear production. The good news is there are several natural treatments for dry eyes.

What Is Dry Eye Syndrome?

Dry eye syndrome or “ocular surface disease,” which is the medical name for this disorder, refers to a decline in the quality or quantity of tears bathing the eye. This condition is increasingly common with advancing age—there are estimates that 75 percent of people over the age of 65 will experience dry eyes. Women are also more susceptible to dry eye syndrome. Dry air, long hours in front of a computer, and certain medications, including antihistamines and decongestants are other factors that can contribute to dry eye syndrome.

Why Treating Dry Eyes Is Important

Adequate production of healthy tears is essential. Tears contain lipids (fats) that reduce evaporation and keep your eyes bathed in moisture, maintain the proper salinity and acidity of the eye area, and are made up of antibodies and other immune-enhancing agents to defend against infection.

If your eyes often feel itchy, gritty, burning, or painful, you may have dry eye syndrome. Along with eye irritation, sensitivity to light is also common, especially in milder cases. In severe cases, scarring or ulceration of the cornea can occur, which has the potential to lead to vision loss. Therefore, treating dry eyes is important.

Dry eye syndrome is usually treated with lubricating eye drops (artificial tears). While this may provide relief, it does nothing to correct or prevent the underlying condition. That’s why I recommend using natural treatments for dry eyes instead. It’s also worth noting that these same natural treatments for dry eyes can help prevent the problem from developing in the first place.

Natural Treatments for Dry Eyes: Omega-3s and Antioxidants

Two of the processes at work in dry eye syndrome are inflammation and free radical damage. Recognizing that inflammation of the tear-producing glands and the eye itself play a significant role in dry eye syndrome, researchers examined the relationship between dry eyes and intake of omega-3 fatty acids, which have potent anti-inflammatory effects. Looking at data on more than 32,000 women involved in the Women’s Health Study, they found that women with a higher intake of omega-3s had a much lower risk of dry eye syndrome than those with reduced intakes.

Based on these findings, one of the best preventive measures and natural treatments for dry eyes is ensuring an adequate intake of omega-3s. This is best achieved by making a point to eat wild salmon and other fatty fish on a regular basis, and taking a qua

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lity omega-3 supplement.

To maintain healthy tear-producing glands, you also need a good supply of antioxidants. They are the best free radical fighters available (as I mentioned earlier, free radical damage is the other primary factor at work in dry eyes). In fact, you may already know that some of most widely recognized antioxidants—vitamins A, C, and E—play a crucial role in vision health. Similarly, carotenoids—particularly lutein, zeaxanthin, and astaxanthin—are other powerful free radical scavengers.

You can boost your levels of antioxidants and carotenoids by eating brightly colored fruits and vegetables and other foods rich in these powerful nutrients. But if you’re already experiencing dry eyes, I also recommend taking supplements that contain them.

Other Natural Treatments for Dry Eyes

One other therapy for treating dry eyes you may want to consider is acupuncture. Patients suffering from dry eye syndrome who received three acupuncture treatments per week for a month experienced marked improvements in symptoms and increased tear secretion.

Dr. Whitaker if you would like to use eye drops to alleviate the discomfort of dry eyes, he recommends VIVA Eye Drops from Corneal Science. In addition to being preservative-free, this product contains vitamin A and other antioxidants that improve the normal tear film and help heal the epithelial cells on the surface of the cornea. In one study, people with dry eyes used one or two drops of VIVA in one eye and artificial tears in the other several times a day for four months. Improvements were reported in 61 percent of the eyes treated with VIVA compared to 15 percent of the eyes treated with artificial tears.

Another good eye drop product is Visual Ocuity. It not only keeps eyes moist and relieves dryness but also helps to prevent eye irritation from occurring in the first place.

Just keep in mind that these eye drops should be used in combination with the other natural treatments for dry eyes that I’ve shared.

Now it’s your turn: Do you know of any other natural treatments for dry eyes?

Dr. Whitaker

Gluten-Free? Don’t Let Sugar Derail Your Diet

26 Nov

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As gluten-free eating becomes more and more popular, you might be wondering if you should go gluten-free. The greater availability of gluten-free products has made the transition seem a little less daunting for those of us who don’t want to forgo that morning bagel or bowl of cereal. While I believe that everyone can benefit from giving up gluten, many people who rely on gluten-free packaged foods to make that change don’t feel better at all, and may actually feel worse. The culprit in this case isn’t what was taken out, but what was added back in: refined grains and sugar.

Whenever an ingredient is removed from a food, it’s often replaced with another ingredient for stability, shelf life or texture purposes. For example, sugar-free foods contain sugar alcohols, and fat-free foods are often produced with man-made fats and extra sugar. Gluten-free foods are no exception to this rule, as they’re often laden with extra sugar. Not to mention, gluten-free foods usually contain other nutrient-poor refined flours that your body treats just like refined sugar.

If you recently went gluten-free but aren’t seeing a resolution of your symptoms, the sugar content of gluten-free processed foods could be derailing your efforts for a number of reasons:

1. Too much sugar contributes to insulin resistance and weight gain.

Insulin has two big jobs in your body: It tells fat cells to store fat, and it pulls sugar into cells to be used as energy. If you eat a high-sugar diet and your blood sugar is constantly elevated, your body stops seeing this as a signal to pull sugar out of your bloodstream and into your cells. As a consequence, the insulin will stay in your blood, where it will continue to signal your fat cells to store the excess energy. Your cells that would use the sugar for energy are now “starving” and signal your liver to release more glucose, pushing your blood sugar even higher. Gluten-free products that contain sugar to make up for missing flavor and bulk aren’t giving you the real, sustained energy you need and will contribute to this cycle of weight gain and insulin resistance.

2. Sugar affects your hormones.

We’ve all experienced a sugar high and sugar crash, that familiar feeling of eating something sugary, getting a burst of energy and then finding it hard to even hold your head up or keep your eyes open half an hour later. If this is a common pattern for you, it could be the high sugar content of your diet. When it comes to gluten-free products, rice flour is most commonly used, which increases blood sugar more than wheat and leads to a bigger spike and subsequent crash.

3. Excessive sugar can feed gut infections like Candida and SIBO.

I believe that a healthy gut is essential to a healthy body, and a healthy microbiome is at the heart of it all. Your microbiome includes the flora that naturally live within your intestinal tract, including bacteria and yeast. They aid with digestion and nutrient absorption, but when either overgrows they can change how food is broken down in your gut and cause bloating.

Sugar tends to encourage overgrowth of certain bacteria and yeast that live in your gut, so if you’re relying on processed foods full of refined carbohydrates–even gluten-free grains–you’re encouraging unbalanced growth.

4. Sugar causes inflammation in the body.

High sugar intake has been found to cause inflammation in the body released both by fat cells and by cells that line the blood vessels in response to high levels of sugar. By substituting one inflammatory substance (gluten) with another (sugar), you’re keeping inflammatory hormones constantly high, something that contributes to diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and heart disease.

While sugar plays an important role in your body, remember that excess sugar can cause big problems. If you’ve made the choice to get healthy and go gluten-free, don’t rely on gluten free products. Stick to whole, organic fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds and organic animal products like organic, grass-fed beef and pasture-raised chicken. Give your body the real nutrients it needs and leave the gluten-free cookies and bagels on the shelf.

Amy Myers MD

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