How To Nourish Yourself Against Depression

29 Apr

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Around 3 million people are diagnosed with depression in Britain alone and the World Health Organization has indicated that it is the leading cause of disease in high income countries. Yet many people don’t want to talk about depression as its symptoms are often silent and there is often a social stigma involved by doing so.

Symptoms of depression include feelings of guilt and sadness, worthlessness, poor concentration and focus, loss of energy, appetite, fatigue, excessive sleeping and thoughts of suicide or a preoccupation with death. There are different types of depression although there are two main classifications: Typical and Atypical. Typical depression may often be associated with loss of weight, appetite and a difficulty with sleeping whereas Atypical depression is associated with weight gain, an increased appetite and excessive sleeping or feeling sleepy.

What Causes Depression?

There are many different factors that can contribute towards the development of depression, many of them environmental or that have a biochemical or psychological issue underpinning it. Depression can occur because of the loss or grieving for someone close to us, such as in a stressful event, loss of a job or the end of a relationship. While it’s important to check with a GP for medical causes, there are things that can be done to alleviate the symptoms of depression.

Exercise may be one of the most important activities to help elevate mood. Doing something physical that boosts happy feelings and increases a general sense of happiness can make all the difference – such as cycling, running, walking, dancing, yoga. Anything that gets the body moving can prevent physical as well as mental stagnation.

Feeling depressed may also be the result of a nutrient deficiency. A nutritional imbalance can increase the chances of depression especially if the body is lacking in essential fats such as Omega 3’s, along with Amino Acids to help with serotonin levels (the body’s feelgood hormone). Homocysteine levels, balancing blood sugar and getting nutrients such as Chromium and Vitamin D are also vital for good health. If it’s none of these factors, then food intolerances may be the culprit in increasing any feelings of sadness and depression.

How Nutrients Can Help Against Depression…

Omega 3’s EPA and DHA can act as anti-depressants and while the body can’t manufacture these nutrients, they can be obtained through a rich dietary source such as herring, tuna, mackerel, sardines or pilchards. Surveys indicate that populations that consume fish have a lower incidence of depression.

Low levels of B-vitamins such as folic acid or the amino acid homocysteine can lead to an increased risk of depression and a less positive result from anti-depressant drugs.

Amino acids can boost serotonin levels. The amino acid Tryptophan converts into serotonin and is converted from 5-Hydroxy Tryptophan (5-HTP) which is converted into the neurotransmitter serotonin. Tryptophan can be found in the diet in the form of protein sources such as meat, fish, beans and eggs. People who aren’t getting enough trytophan are more likely to be depressed.

Balanced blood sugar levels are less likely to have an effect on moods. Getting a steady source of glucose to the brain can prevent mood imbalances so it’s important to get enough energy giving foods where possible.

Chromium can keep blood sugar levels stable because of insulin which clears glucose from the blood, but won’t work properly without it. People who have atypical depression who were given chromium have been shown to have considerably improved symptoms.

Vitamin D3 or the ‘sunshine vitamin’ is essential for alleviating depression and it’s why many people who don’t get enough sunlight may experience SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).

Avoiding processed foods that may trigger allergies such as gluten as found in wheat, rye and barley can all have an impact. Many people have an intolerance to gluten and this has been associate with an 80% risk of depression. Getting a test to check if you have Celiac Disease can help to determine if you are affected by gluten in this way.

Robert Redfern

The Truth About Ear Infections and Why Chiropractic Can Help

27 Apr

 

Commonly referred to as an ear infection, otitis media (OM) is one of the most common childhood illnesses in the world. Sadly, this shouldn’t be the case because natural remedies and specific, gentle chiropractic adjustments have been shown to help considerably.  Based on the research, and based on what I’ve seen clinically in practice, I believe that if every child on the planet were under chiropractic care, the truth about ear infections would not include the epidemic that it is today.

Hopefully, the word will spread because countless children are suffering needlessly every year!

Otitis Media

 

According to the 2004 World Health Organization (WHO) report, up to 1% of children are regularly affected by chronic otitis media in developed countries (such as the Denmark, Finland, UK and USA) and as high as 45% among less developed populations, such as the Inuits of Alaska and Australian aboriginals. (1)

The infection is most commonly acquired in children aged up to 6 years, and peaks around 2 years of age. Unless it’s treated, however, the condition can persist well into early and middle adulthood. Typically the primary symptoms are soreness, pain and discomfort in the area surrounding the ear as well as: fever, fluid draining, trouble sleeping, loss of appetite and grumpy behavior.

Typically, ear infections are treated by oral antibiotics, ear antibiotic drops, ear wicking and surgery. Tubes are generally reserved for advanced, recurrent cases or when children are developing speech delay or hearing loss. Though, even in the conventional medical world, tubes are less often necessary.

Natural Ear Ache Solutions

According to Lawrence B. Palevsky, MD, FAAP, DABHM – a natural approach is not only more judicious, it’s more effective!

“Ultimately, the goal is to reduce the production of excess mucus, support the process of acute illnesses with good clinical follow-up and safe and effective, non-suppressive, supportive interventions and offer information for families that will both prevent and treat serious acute and chronic illnesses. In the case of ear inflammation, the two approaches that I have seen work most effectively to reduce ear fluid, ear pain and chronic ear problems is a change in the child’s and family’s diet and environment and the incorporation of manipulative modalities into the treatment plan, i.e., chiropractic, osteopathic and/or cranial sacral therapy.” (1)

In addition to visiting your chiropractor, there are several home remedy options that you can choose from. If you suspect that your child has an ear infection, Dr. Palevsky recommends the following:

  1. “Hold and comfort your child.
  2. Try to raise the head of the bed. For smaller children, place blankets or pillows under the mattress.
  3. Keep your child hydrated with room temperature water, clear soup and/or tea. Herbs that help to break up the mucus and comfort your child include thyme, ginger, licorice, eyebright, elder flowers and chamomile. Keep the diet simple.
  4. Keep solid foods to a minimum. Offer small doses of vitamin C throughout the day with fluids. Start children’s Echinacea within the first 24 hours of illness.
  5. Diffuse lavender essential oil in the room to help calm any anxiety.
  6. Place several drops of mullein oil in a container and warm inside a pot of water on the stove. Take several drops of the mullein oil and place them in the affected ear canal.
  7. Gently pull and massage the ear lobe away from your child’s head and in a slightly downward direction. Use extra virgin olive oil in the same manner if no mullein oil is available or,
  8. Take 1-2 drops of organic tea tree essential oil and mix in a base of 20 drops of olive oil and place several warmed drops of this mixture into the affected ear canal. Use any one of the ear drop remedies several times a day to relieve the discomforts of the inflammation. Please be sure to use essential oils that are organic and top grade quality whenever possible. Use the tea tree oil combination and massage it into the front of your child’s chest below the collarbones in a horizontal fashion. Then rub the oil behind the affected ear(s) and massage down the side of the neck towards the collarbones. This will help open the drainage of lymph fluid into the chest cavity and allow the congestion to drain from the head. This can be done 2-3 times per day until the congestion has resolved.
  9. See your chiropractor, osteopath or cranial sacral worker the next day. Repeat visits as discussed with your provider.
  10. Contact your medical health care provider if your child does not improve within 48 hours, develops drainage from the ear or appears to be getting worse.” (1)
  11. In addressing an ear infection medically, here’s the approach I see being followed by more holistically-oriented MD’s.  There are some incredible MD’s out there who do not run to prescribe antibiotics!
    • Get checked (swabbed) to determine if the infection is viral or bacterial. Like we have learned, usually it’s viral (…and if it is, the counter-intuitive drug of choice, antibiotics, will likely not be prescribed). (9)
    • If a bacterial infection is verified, ensure with the help of your MD that any prescribed antibiotic is specifically targeted to the microbe. This would represent a far more specific approach than taking a widespread type of antibiotic that affects the normal healthy gut flora and ultimately weakens the immune system.

    It is also important to consider that sometimes it is difficult for your doctor to determine with an otoscope alone whether the ear infection is caused by a virus or bacteria. So, deciding on a proper course of treatment isn’t always easy. Some doctors initially treat only the symptoms of an ear infection, without antibiotics, a response that has been supported by holistic physicians like Dr. Palevsky.

    Chiropractic and Ear Infection Research

    One of the natural interventions that Dr. Palevsky recommends is chiropractic – and for good reason! A recent literature review in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine highlights just how effective it can be, as children have benefited under chiropractor care for literally 100 years.

    The 2012 article critically evaluated 49 articles and discovered that several case reports, case series and clinical trials all confirm the same conclusion: chiropractic adjustments can nip ear infections in the bud like few things on the planet can! (10) Here are the details:

    Of the 15 case reports included in this study each explained how otitis media symptoms were regularly decreased after chiropractic adjustments. And this just didn’t include the random case of OM. Nine cases described chronic 3 acute and 3 recurrent OM. One encouraging finding was that no adverse effects were observed during the treatment of the patient. (10)

    Of the 4 case series that were published, similar findings were observed. (10)

    The study also uncovered 4 articles describing 3 different clinical trials connecting chiropractic to helping children with OM. A total of 167 patients were evaluated into these clinical trials, and a majority reported a decrease in symptoms. (10)

    In My Experience…

    Growing up working in my dad’s office, I recall all types of kids coming in with ear infections as their chief complaint only to see them recover marvelously after my dad checked them for vertebral subluxations and adjusted them as needed.  Being in practice now for well over a decade, I see the same thing to this very day.

    I remember my first patient when I was in school, nearly 20 years ago. She was a 3 year old with chronic ear infections.  After I adjusted her (as a student mind you) she responded amazingly and got off the recurrent antibiotics as a result!

    Why, generally speaking, do we see people respond well to chiropractic care?  The basic chiropractic approach, as it related to ear infections, would be summarized as follows:

    • The muscles surrounding the Eustachian tube are influenced by the C1-C4 neurolgoy.
    • Vertebral subluxations at the level of the occiput and C1-C4 can cause hypertonicity of those muscles; i.e. spastic, tight muscles that are over stimulated.
    • In turn, this can affect the size of the Eustachian tube and, thus, prevent drainage.
    • This is why I (and countless doctors of chiropractic over the years) have observed how specific, gentle adjustments in the upper cervical region can cause a relaxation of the musculature and allow the ears to drain naturally. I have even seen fluid drain in patients often the day of an adjustment!

    In my opinion, while there is no specific chiropractic adjustment “for” any one condition, there may be no “one condition” that shows such an immediate positive response to adjustments than ear infections. While I will never tell a patient to refrain from taking antibiotics if that is what their medical doctor has recommended, it’s exciting for me to see so many people achieve better health through chiropractic – and ultimately be prescribed fewer drugs long-term as a result of better health in the first place.  I feel very strongly that we all have a job to do in educating others that there are viable alternatives.

    Those of us in natural health care have often fielded criticism that “correlation does not mean causation” – and that there is no “proof” that chiropractic adjustments, nutritional and non-medical interventions provide any benefit to the patient. Truthfully, except in very extreme cases (not your typical childhood ear infection) there is little “proof” to support the rampant use and overuse of antibiotics that is now causing other problems.  And, notably, the argument of correlation could be applied to just about any medical intervention, as well – particularly antibiotics.

    As we have seen above, there are not only case studies and case series suggesting that chiropractic care can help children with otitis media, there are clinical trials as well!

    The bottom line is this:

    More and more people are giving natural solutions a try. Chances are, you too would respond wonderfully. If you need medical attention, seek it out and keep in close communication with a doctor you trust, and make sure that you don’t take drugs needlessly.

    In addressing an ear infection medically, here’s the approach I see being followed by more holistically-oriented MD’s.  There are some incredible MD’s out there who do not run to prescribe antibiotics!

    • Get checked (swabbed) to determine if the infection is viral or bacterial. Like we have learned, usually it’s viral (…and if it is, the counter-intuitive drug of choice, antibiotics, will likely not be prescribed). (9)
    • If a bacterial infection is verified, ensure with the help of your MD that any prescribed antibiotic is specifically targeted to the microbe. This would represent a far more specific approach than taking a widespread type of antibiotic that affects the normal healthy gut flora and ultimately weakens the immune system.

    It is also important to consider that sometimes it is difficult for your doctor to determine with an otoscope alone whether the ear infection is caused by a virus or bacteria. So, deciding on a proper course of treatment isn’t always easy. Some doctors initially treat only the symptoms of an ear infection, without antibiotics, a response that has been supported by holistic physicians like Dr. Palevsky.

    Chiropractic and Ear Infection Research

    One of the natural interventions that Dr. Palevsky recommends is chiropractic – and for good reason! A recent literature review in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine highlights just how effective it can be, as children have benefited under chiropractor care for literally 100 years.

    The 2012 article critically evaluated 49 articles and discovered that several case reports, case series and clinical trials all confirm the same conclusion: chiropractic adjustments can nip ear infections in the bud like few things on the planet can! (10) Here are the details:

    Of the 15 case reports included in this study each explained how otitis media symptoms were regularly decreased after chiropractic adjustments. And this just didn’t include the random case of OM. Nine cases described chronic 3 acute and 3 recurrent OM. One encouraging finding was that no adverse effects were observed during the treatment of the patient. (10)

    Of the 4 case series that were published, similar findings were observed. (10)

    The study also uncovered 4 articles describing 3 different clinical trials connecting chiropractic to helping children with OM. A total of 167 patients were evaluated into these clinical trials, and a majority reported a decrease in symptoms. (10)

    In My Experience…

    Growing up working in my dad’s office, I recall all types of kids coming in with ear infections as their chief complaint only to see them recover marvelously after my dad checked them for vertebral subluxations and adjusted them as needed.  Being in practice now for well over a decade, I see the same thing to this very day.

    I remember my first patient when I was in school, nearly 20 years ago. She was a 3 year old with chronic ear infections.  After I adjusted her (as a student mind you) she responded amazingly and got off the recurrent antibiotics as a result!

    Why, generally speaking, do we see people respond well to chiropractic care?  The basic chiropractic approach, as it related to ear infections, would be summarized as follows:

    • The muscles surrounding the Eustachian tube are influenced by the C1-C4 neurolgoy.
    • Vertebral subluxations at the level of the occiput and C1-C4 can cause hypertonicity of those muscles; i.e. spastic, tight muscles that are over stimulated.
    • In turn, this can affect the size of the Eustachian tube and, thus, prevent drainage.
    • This is why I (and countless doctors of chiropractic over the years) have observed how specific, gentle adjustments in the upper cervical region can cause a relaxation of the musculature and allow the ears to drain naturally. I have even seen fluid drain in patients often the day of an adjustment!

    In my opinion, while there is no specific chiropractic adjustment “for” any one condition, there may be no “one condition” that shows such an immediate positive response to adjustments than ear infections. While I will never tell a patient to refrain from taking antibiotics if that is what their medical doctor has recommended, it’s exciting for me to see so many people achieve better health through chiropractic – and ultimately be prescribed fewer drugs long-term as a result of better health in the first place.  I feel very strongly that we all have a job to do in educating others that there are viable alternatives.

    Those of us in natural health care have often fielded criticism that “correlation does not mean causation” – and that there is no “proof” that chiropractic adjustments, nutritional and non-medical interventions provide any benefit to the patient. Truthfully, except in very extreme cases (not your typical childhood ear infection) there is little “proof” to support the rampant use and overuse of antibiotics that is now causing other problems.  And, notably, the argument of correlation could be applied to just about any medical intervention, as well – particularly antibiotics.

    As we have seen above, there are not only case studies and case series suggesting that chiropractic care can help children with otitis media, there are clinical trials as well!

    The bottom line is this:

    More and more people are giving natural solutions a try. Chances are, you too would respond wonderfully. If you need medical attention, seek it out and keep in close communication with a doctor you trust, and make sure that you don’t take drugs needlessly.

  12.  

     

    Dr. Eric Z and Dr. Hardick

Adrenal Fatigue

25 Apr

 

The next time you are driving and the car in front of you stops abruptly without warning, and you slam on your brakes quickly enough to avoid an accident, thank your adrenal glands. Our adrenal glands produce important hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, which are essential for mounting an effective response to stress. However, these responses are predicated on the notion that the stress response is a short-¬lived reaction to immediate threats that resolve quickly. When someone experiences ongoing stress, however, such as financial trouble, a demanding job, or chronic illness, the adrenal glands get overextended, and can end up having the equivalent of a nervous breakdown and behave erratically.

The notion that “burned out” adrenals simply stop producing the full amount of hormones needed is inaccurate. What really happens is that exhausted adrenals produce either too little or too much hormone. In both cases, the negative health effects are profound. For example, excess adrenaline can deplete your brain of important neurochemicals, leaving you feeling depressed. Excess cortisol can put extreme burden on your liver, central nervous system and brain. Too little cortisol can wreak its own havoc, and negatively affect thyroid function.

Symptoms of adrenal fatigue may include weakness, lack of energy, trouble concentrating, becoming easily confused, forgetfulness, trouble completing basic tasks, poor digestion, depression, and insomnia. As these symptoms can have multiple causes, additional clues that can point to adrenal fatigue include:

• “Crashing” early on and/or throughout your day

• You’re tired all day at work, but feel energetic in the evening

• You’re exhausted at night but have trouble falling asleep

• Feeling unrested after a full night’s sleep

• Sweating excessively when performing light tasks (due to your endocrine system working overtime to compensate for lack of adrenaline)

• Feeling thirsty and can’t seem to quench your thirst, you have dry mouth, or crave salt

• Blurry vision or difficulty focusing (cortisol can dehydrate the body, including the eyes)

• Craving stimulants. If you’re reaching for cigarettes, caffeine, and/or sugary snacks to keep you going, you may be instinctively substituting your diminishing adrenal hormones.

A Natural Approach to Adrenal Fatigue

Eating only three times per day can be tough on the adrenal glands, because your adrenals release cortisol if your blood sugar drops too low between meals, which brings your blood sugar back up. So if you frequently go without eating for long stretches, you’re straining your adrenals and not giving them a chance to recuperate. Thus, you can support your adrenals by eating a light, balanced meal every 90 minutes to two hours. This helps keep your blood sugar steady throughout the day so that your adrenals don’t have to interfere, giving them a chance to rest and restore themselves.
Ideally your meals should contain a balance of potassium, sodium, and natural sugar (i.e. from fruits, which contain critical nutrients, not table sugar!)

Examples of adrenal-supportive meals include:

• A date (potassium), two celery sticks (sodium), an apple (sugar)

• Half an avocado (potassium), spinach (sodium), an orange (sugar)

• A sweet potato (potassium), parsley (sodium), lemon squeezed on kale (sugar)

These examples needn’t be substitutes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but they help keep your blood sugar steady between those bigger meals.

Other foods that support adrenal health include sprouts, asparagus, wild blueberries, bananas, garlic, broccoli, kale, raspberries, blackberries, romaine lettuce, and red-skinned apples. These foods help strengthen the nervous system, reduce inflammation, ease stress, and provide critical nutrients for adrenal function.

The Role of Fats and Carbohydrates

In addition to the above recommendations, moderating your fat intake is also helpful. This is because a very high-fat diet burdens your pancreas and liver, which can negatively impact blood sugar levels. When your blood sugar is not under control, it creates a massive strain on your adrenals as they struggle to produce hormones to compensate.

While lower-carb diets have some benefits, keep in mind that your body needs good-quality carbohydrates for energy, and a diet that is too low in carbs also strains your adrenals. Just ensure that the carbs you eat come from nutritious foods like fruits and vegetables, not pastries, candy, and soda!

Complete avoidance of stress is unrealistic, but you can take steps to ensure that your body is equipped to cope with whatever life throws at you. By consuming healthy, nutrient-dense foods at regular intervals, you nourish every aspect of your being—and give your adrenal glands a well-deserved break so that they can help you when you really need it.

Anthony William

Acupuncture May Reduce Eyesight Defects

22 Apr

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Acupuncture can improve eyesight and has demonstrated significant improvements in reducing visual defects, according to the latest research published in the Journal of Beijing University of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

The researchers tested the efficacy of a four point acupuncture prescription for vision loss treatment. From the data results, it was determined that acupuncture does benefit vision.

Acupuncture has been shown to cause significant improvements in important visual indices. The acupuncture has significantly improved mean sensitivity (MS) while decreasing the mean defect (MD) for the participants within the study.

The mean sensitivity is a measurement of the retina’s sensitivity to light while the MD is the difference between the classes of visual defects for the patient, as compared to the normal values for their age. The Visually Evoked Potential (VEP) is an EEG measurement of evoked potential that is triggered by visual stimulus. The VEP helps with the detection of optic nerve disorders and tests any responses to light. The investigation found that the results demonstrated acupuncture can improve MD, MS and VEP in those patients with vision loss.

The acupuncture points within the eye region are traditionally associated with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for the treatment of eye disorders. The modern scientific perspective draws upon the ancient TCM acupoint prescription for the acupoint selection. The research was conducted by the Department of Ophtalmology at the Dongfang Hospital (Beijing University of Chinese Medicine) and given the significant improvements in mean defect and the visually evoked potential, the researchers came to the conclusion that acupuncture can benefit the vision for those who have diminished eyesight.

The research is consistent with the findings of Dai. et al [1] and a meta-analysis of 13 randomized controlled trials involving 1,180 eyes. The conclusion is that acupuncture can be used as an effective treatment for optic atrophy and this can demonstrate improvements for visual acuity, the visual field and P-VEP. Acupuncture has also been shown to improve visual acuity and light sensitivity and reduce visual field defects according to Qin et al. [2]

References:

[1] Dai, Yanli, Ming Liu, Yixin Zhang, Shihui Wei, and Houbin Huang. “[Meta analysis of acupuncture in the treatment of optic atrophy].” Zhong nan da xue xue bao. Yi xue ban= Journal of Central South University. Medical sciences 38, no. 3 (2013): 283-290.

[2] Qin, Yali, Wei Yuan, Hui Deng, Zhanmei Xiang, Chao Yang, Xinyun Kou, Shufei Yang, Zhijun Wang, and Ming Jin. “Clinical efficacy observation of acupuncture treatment for nonarteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy.”

Robert Redfern

Chronic Stress Increases Inflammation

20 Apr

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Chronic stress can increase the body’s inflammatory responses a study has found. Researchers from Ohio University directly measured the impact of stress and its reaction to the C-reactive protein, a marker for inflammation.

The researchers recruited 34 healthy young women and were asked to give a speech to prove themselves as candidates for a job role, to two interviewers in white coats. One half of the group were asked to focus on their performance in a public speaking task and the other half were told to think about neutral activities such as a trip to the store or sailing ships.

By drawing blood samples, the researchers showed that the C-reactive protein levels were significantly higher in those subjects who were asked to focus and dwell on the speech. Their inflammatory markers continued rising for at least one hour afterwards. During this same period, the marker returned to the initial levels in the subjects who were told to focus on the other more neutral thoughts.

This study provides a good example of how negative thinking, in particular when related to a task that may or may not have gone well, can lead on to higher levels of unhealthy inflammation within the body.

Why is Inflammation Bad?

Inflammation is one of the major causes of various diseases and painful symptoms within the body and is therefore important to monitor and reduce wherever possible. Reducing feelings of chronic stress is therefore necessary for anyone who wants to find relief for inflammation and its numerous negative side effects.

Dealing with Chronic Stress – Naturally

One of the most important things you need to do when feeling stressed is learn to address the root cause of the problem. If you’re feeling physically or emotionally challenged this can be difficult so it’s vital that you take the right nutrients that can support you through this time.

Robert Redfern

Citrus Oils For Weight Loss

18 Apr

CITRUS-OILS-e1438657151482

 

Citrus fruits are like the sunshine of the produce world. They are colorful and bright, fresh and juicy – the perfect sign that summer is here. Their essential oils bring a similar cheer, whether cooking, cleaning, bathing or simply breathing, citrus oils can be part of the process, refreshing and revitalizing along the way.

While most essential oils are produced via steam distillation, citrus oils are different.  The leaves, bark, roots, and seeds aren’t the source of the oil – it’s the fruit itself! More specifically, the peel of citrus fruit provides the essential oil. If you’ve ever been sprayed in the eye when peeling an orange, or felt the oily residue on your fingers afterward, you’ve encountered a citrus essential oil already.

To produce citrus essential oils, the peel is usually cold pressed, extracting the oil without the application of heat or solution, otherwise called “expression.” The peels can be steam distilled or extracted with a solution, though they are less common methods, and the latter is known as an absolute rather than an essential oil and is not used in the same ways. (1)

A note to remember about citrus oils: we often think of foods with thick peels as less dangerous when grown conventionally because the peel protects the edible part from toxic pesticides. The opposite is true in this case. The peel is in constant contact with sprays, so the concentrated essential oil product would be, as well. Always trust your essential oil provider to bring you toxin and residue free oils!

Shared Composition of Citrus Oils

Since we are looking at an entire family of fruits and their essential oils, shared features are to be expected. The most prominent and noteworthy component of citrus oils is limonene, confirmed in a study evaluating multiple citrus oils for their ability to improve food safety via antimicrobial effects. (2)

Another commonly shared chemical is bergapten, notable for its phototoxic effects. When bergapten is left on the skin, then exposed to the sun, it amplifies the effect of the sun and can leave burns. Some people like to avoid using bergapten-heavy oils topically altogether, but simply avoiding the sun after use (such as using it at night before bed) is sufficient. Alternatively, steam-distilled citrus oils have lower concentrations of bergapten and mitigate this effect. The citrus oils that contain bergapten when cold pressed are bergamot, lemon, and lime. The others are safe for normal use. (3)

With shared antimicrobial benefits, citrus oils are almost universally good in cleaning formulations. But each has its own strengths, and there is room in the oils cabinet for all of them!

Citrus Oils for Everyday

There are few things citrus oils cannot remedy. From the countertop to your intestines, they clean, detoxify and are wonderful additions to any home!

Bergamot

Officially named Citrus Bergamia, bergamot differs from the other citrus oils in that it’s not a familiar fruit. In fact, it’s not even an edible fruit in any practical sense. Still, its oil has been used for some time now, flavoring black tea and appearing in traditional Chinese remedies.

Bergamot essential oil is an important oil for stress relief. In one very recently published study coming out of Japan, mood, cortisol levels, and fatigue were all relieved in a short amount of time after inhaling bergamot essential oil. (4)

Another strong benefit of bergamot is its antibacterial activity, not only good for surface cleaning but also implicated in food safety. Researchers are focusing heavily on citrus oils to inhibit E. coli and other bacteria, and bergamot is one of the most promising. (5)

Grapefruit

The grapefruit is an undersold tool for weight management. If you struggle with maintaining a healthy weight, no doubt you’ve seen grapefruit recommended in every diet, from the healthier “eat well” varieties to the dangerous crash diets. That’s because every part of the grapefruit is good for your metabolism and body composition, right down to the essential oil.

One mechanism of the benefits may be connected to an internal reaction to the scent, that basically tells the body it’s time to burn fat. (6) Topically, massages including grapefruit oil have shown reduced cellulite and body circumference, as well as increased self esteem. (7) There are internal benefits, as well, though it should be noted that doses are quite important – no essential oil should be taken in high quantities, regardless of recommendations from friends, family, or blogs. Always consult with a professional, especially when weight management is the concern and goal.

Lemon

Lemon contains the highest levels of limonene, the active component that brings us most of the benefits from citrus oils. Aside from the benefits for ourselves, limonene and lemon essential oil are excellent options for DIY cleaning recipes. Limonene is so beneficial, in fact, that commercial cleaning products synthesize it for their formulations! (8)

Use lemon essential oil in sprays for countertops, faucets, doorknobs, and any other surface that comes into contact with germs for a strong antimicrobial, protective effect.

Lime

Lime essential oil is quite similar to lemon in composition, which makes it an effective option for cleaning as well as for synergistic blends. A noteworthy finding on its cleaning abilities, lime essential oil was shown to be an effective surface antifungal in addition to its antimicrobial effects. (9)

For the body, combine lime with other citrus oils in diffuser blends to boost their combined benefits. Cleanse the air, energize your spirits, and lift your mood with the bright scents and powerful composition.

Orange

Orange essential oil can be found as sweet, bitter, or wild, depending on the variety of the plant and the time of harvest. The components and fragrance will vary between each, but at least one component is shared among them – orange oil is the most commonly studied and used oil for food safety. One in particular blended orange with thyme to marinate chicken, finding significant protection against Salmonella growth. (10)

Recommendation: Add one drop of a citrus oil to a tsp of honey, maple syrup, and/or coconut oil then mix with morning water or afternoon tea for a refreshing pick-me-up, spritz down counters with citrus oil and vodka blends where food preparation occurs, and marinate dinner with a citrus oil infusion. In other words, citrus oils should be used daily!

Resources:

  1. https://www.naha.org/explore-aromatherapy/about-aromatherapy/how-are-essential-oils-extracted/
  2. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/s0956713510003944
  3. https://www.naha.org/explore-aromatherapy/about-aromatherapy/how-are-essential-oils-extracted/
  4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25824404
  5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17105553
  6. http://pubget.com/articles/elasticsearch_show/15862904
  7. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17615482
  8. http://pubget.com/articles/elasticsearch_show/3b99059e-6674-45be-b1a5-5607283c749a
  9. http://pubget.com/articles/elasticsearch_show/3e26e320-b85e-46e1-ab59-57ea54cf9dcc
  10. http://pubget.com/articles/elasticsearch_show/24795320

Dr. Eric Z

 

Get Seasonal Allergy Relief!

13 Apr

allegeries

Acupuncture has been used to treat seasonal allergies for centuries with great success. According to traditional medicine, treatment is directed toward clearing the nasal passages, supporting the immune system, and strengthening the systems of the body to prevent allergic reactions from recurring.

What Are Seasonal Allergies?

Commonly called hay fever or allergic rhinitis, a seasonal allergy is an allergic reaction to a trigger that is typically only present for part of the year, such as spring or fall. Pollens that are spread by the wind are usually the main cause. People who are allergic to pollens are also often sensitive to dust mites, animal dander, and molds.

Spring is traditionally the main season when allergies blossom because of new growth on trees and weeds. Fall, which ushers in a whole different set of blooming plants, as well as leaf mold, is a close second. Airborne mold spores can be found almost year round, along with other common allergens such as dust, dust mites, and animal dander.

About 26 million Americans endure chronic seasonal allergies, while the number of people with milder symptoms may be as high as 40 million, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

Seasonal allergies are caused by the body’s hypersensitivity to substances in the environment. Symptoms primarily involve the membrane lining the nose, causing allergic rhinitis, or the membrane lining the eyelids and covering the whites of the eyes, causing allergic conjunctivitis.

While there are many medications to treat the symptoms of seasonal allergies, these treatments can cause unwanted side effects, such as drowsiness and immune system suppression, as well as an over-reliance on medications. These side effects have motivated many people to search for alternative approaches like acupuncture and Oriental medicine to manage their allergies.

How Acupuncture Treatments Provide Relief from Allergies

According to Oriental medicine, allergic rhinitis is related to wind and a deficiency of the protective Wei Qi. Wei Qi is the Qi, or energy, that flows at the surface of the body as a protective sheath and is responsible for resistance to colds and other respiratory infections. People with a deficiency of Wei Qi catch colds easily and are more susceptible to allergens.

When treating with acupuncture, underlying imbalances within the body are addressed and a treatment plan is developed to relieve the acute symptoms of allergic rhinitis, while also treating the root problems that are contributing to the body’s reaction to allergens. Treatments often include dietary modification, the use of specifically chosen herbal formulas, and acupuncture.

Seasonal acupuncture treatments just four times a year also serve to tonify the inner organ systems and can correct minor annoyances before they become serious problems.

If you experience seasonal allergies, now is the time to schedule an appointment.

Christina Sarlo LMT, L.Ac., NCCAOM
Experience Your Chi
www.christinasarlo.com

6 Healthy Sugars That Are Still Harmful

11 Apr

 

 

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Added sugars have been highly stigmatized of late, and many people aren’t aware of the hidden dangers and harmful effects that are marketed as so-called ‘healthy’ sugars. Due to the high amount of fructose in sugar, this can play havoc with the metabolism.

When sugar is consumed in excess, it causes high cholesterol and triglyceride levels, along with insulin resistance and a build-up of fat in the liver and abdominal cavity – in just 10 weeks. [1, 2] These are just some of the reasons why you should be avoiding these sugar as much as possible…

    1. Raw Organic Cane Sugar. Despite its name and the ‘organic’ and ‘raw’ references, this is still sugar. It may be processed in a different manner to regular sugar, but its chemical composition is the same. The body breaks down raw organic cane sugar in the same way that it breaks down regular sugar into glucose and fructose within the digestive tract with exactly the same effects on the metabolism.
    2. Coconut Sugar. While the manufacturing methods for coconut sugar are natural and is derived from the sap (the sugary circulating fluid) in the plant, it is actually very high in fructose. It is often marketed as a healthy sugar as it contains some fiber and nutrients and a lower glycemic index but these are relatively small compared to the high level of fructose and glucose in this product.
    3. Agave Nectar. This has become a popular sweetener especially in the natural health community, due to its low glycemic index. Agave Nectar is high in fructose and while it doesn’t raise blood sugar in the short term, when consumed in high amounts it can lead to insulin resistance, leading to chronically elevated blood sugar and insulin levels. [3, 4]
    4. Brown Sugar. A by-product of brown sugar is molasses that occurs after the sugar has been refined and processed. While molasses contain small amounts of minerals, they also consist of 50% sugar – thereby negating any potential health benefits.
    5. Honey. This is considered as a natural and healthy alternative to sugar but while it does contain some nutrients, along with antioxidants and trace amounts of vitamins and minerals…it also consists of about 80% sugar, by weight. Enjoying the occasional honey is fine as it’s a better choice than plain sugar or high fructose corn syrup – but it isn’t the harmless sweetener that it has been made out to be. Raw honey in moderation is OK, but it should not be processed.
    6. Evaporated Cane Juice. This is just another name for sugar. Food manufacturers often use the term ‘evaporated cane juice’ on the ingredients label to hide the true amount of sugar content from consumers. Once this sweetener is in the body, it doesn’t matter what the term for it is – the damage that this sugar does to the intestines and liver is the same.

How to Avoid Sugar and Minimize Its Harmful Effects

The best way to avoid the damaging effects of sugar is to eat natural foods such as dark leafy green vegetables, dark skinned fruits, seeds and legumes and avoid all sugary and processed foods. It’s important to eat healthy fats such as avocados or nuts too as these can provide many essential fatty acids and fat-soluble vitamins. Good fats also help to build healthy cells, hormones and can promote healthier skin amongst other benefits.

One of the ways to reduce your sugar intake is to take Cinnamon as this can inhibit the uptake of sugar into the bloodstream, essential for people who have Diabetes.

References:

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2673878/

[2] http://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/content/54/7/1907.short

[3] http://nutritionandmetabolism.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1743-7075-2-5

[4] http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/76/5/911.full

Robert Redfern

Cactus: The New SuperFood?

8 Apr

The latest superfood on the block is cactus [Photo: Rex Features]

Move over kale there’s a new superfood on the health block and it’s every bit as good for you. While you might think twice about plucking a prickly cactus leaf from the manky old plant languishing on your bathroom shelf, restaurants nationwide are serving up cactus leaves, stems and fruit in everything from salads, smoothies and even sandwiches (egg and cactus sarnie anyone?) And forget coconut water, for the health set it’s all about cactus juice these days.

So why exactly is a prickly plant fast becoming the go-to superfood of choice for healthistas?

It reduces blood sugar

We know the sugar drill, high blood sugar can lead to diabetes, heart disease and even strokes, according to the National Institutes of Health. But did you realize that cactus leaves can have a positive effect on blood sugar levels? Researchers at the University of Vienna tested nopal cactus leaf on 24 non-obese subjects who were suffering from high cholesterol. The results of the eight-week study, not only showed a reduction in cholesterol, but an 11 percent reduction in blood sugar levels which is attributed to the high fiber and pectin content in cacti.

Cactus smoothie anyone? [Photo: Rex Features]

It helps lower cholesterol

Nopal cactus, AKA prickly pear cactus has been linked to reducing cholesterol levels in the body. A 2007 French study  tested the impact of cactus leaf on 68 patients suffering from metabolic syndrome. After four weeks, “bad cholesterol” and triglyceride levels decreased, while “good cholesterol” increased. Researchers concluded that cactus leaf helps decrease cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems.

It can help with weight loss

If you’re struggling to shift a few excess pounds, cactus extract supplements could help with weight loss by acting as a diuretic. A 2010 study found that cactus extract reduced weight gain in rats by almost 20 percent. The rats were divided into three groups: one group was administered the cactus extract at a dose of 240 milligrams (mg) a day for seven days, the second group was given the pharmaceutical diuretic hydrochlorothiazide at a dose of 10 mg a day, and the third group acted as the control. The research concluded that the cactus extract did not deplete the body’s minerals and exerted an antioxidant effect.

health benefits of cactus [Photo: Rex Features]

Reduce Inflammation

Cactus contains a range of nutrients and antioxidants, including vitamins C, E, A, iron, calcium, and carotenoids, which help reduce inflammation in the body.  Plus, cacti contain a lot of water, which makes them hydrating. At just 14 calories per cacti cup, they’re super low calorie too.

It fights cancer cells

Cactus leaf contains phenolics and flavonoids, plant compounds that credited for its antioxidant properties. The National Cancer Institute believes that antioxidants protect healthy cells from damage caused by free radicals, which are byproducts of oxidation. Free radical damage can lead to illnesses such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. A 2009 issue of “Plant Foods for Human Nutrition” concludes that when tested against colon, liver, breast and prostate cancer, cactus pear’s phytochemical compounds helped prevent the growth of cells in all four cancers without affecting healthy cells. Pretty amazing huh?

Marie Claire Dorking

How To Use Cactus Pear In A Green Smoothie

Both the cactus pear fruit and the cactus “leaves” or nopals can be used in green smoothies. The fruit is delicious and accents many other tropical flavors. The green nopal leaves can take the place of leafy greens by providing a fresh green flavor and minerals.

Two things you need to watch out for are spines and seeds. Cactus pears have seeds that do not pulverize in a blender – not even a high-powered Vitamix. Instead, you’ll end up with jagged bits of broken seed that could get caught in your throat or irritate your digestive tract. While it can be a pain, it’s best to remove the seeds prior to blending.

A trick for removing the seeds of cactus pear is to cut the fruit in half and scoop the seeds into a strainer. With a spoon, mash the seedy fruit pulp into the strainer held over a bowl. The juice will drain through the mesh of the strainer, and the fruit will be easier to separate from the seeds. I recommend using a metal bowl under the strainer to catch the fruit juice as it will stain plastic (clothing and skin, too).

As for the spines, be sure to check cactus fruit over carefully to be sure all of the spines have been removed. I recommend pealing the fruit before eating, that way you get even the tiny, hard to see spines close to the skin.

Cactus Pear Smoothie Recipes

Cactus Pear-Mango Green Smoothie

  • 2 cactus pear fruit, skin and seeds removed
  • 1/2 mango, peeled and pitted
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
  • 8 ounces of coconut water

Calories: 235 | Fat: 2 (grams) | Protein:3g | Carbs: 57g | Calcium: 16% | Iron: 1.8mg | Vitamin A: 23% | Vitamin C: 285%

Cactus Pear-Pineapple Smoothie

  • 2 cactus pear fruit, skin and seeds removed
  • 1/2 cup pineapple
  • juice from 1/2 lime
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 4 to 6 ounces filtered water

Calories: 145 | Fat: 1g (grams) | Protein: 4g | Carbs: 35g | Calcium: 16% | Iron: 2.5mg | Vitamin A: 41% | Vitamin C: 122%

Cactus Pear-Pomegranate Green Smoothie

  • 1 cactus pear fruit, skin and seeds removed
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate arils
  • 1 small banana
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 4 to 6 ounces fresh squeezed orange juice
  • Calories: 218 | Fat: 5g (grams) | Protein: 2g | Carbs: 52g | Calcium: 11% | Iron: 2.5mg | Vitamin A: 41% | Vitamin C: 65%

    How To Select Cactus Pear

    When selecting a ripe cactus pear look for one with a rich red color. It should also be slightly soft to the touch. Watch out for tiny spines that may not have been removed!

    The cactus pear is a summer fruit, and is harvested from June to September. The cactus pear is a sweet fruit with a flavor reminiscent of watermelon and kiwifruit.

    Tracy http://www.incrediblesmoothies.com/about/

Vitamin D Could Heal A Damaged Heart, Says Study

6 Apr

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Vitamin D supplements could heal damaged hearts, according to a recent study. The trial involving 163 heart failure patients found that supplements containing Vitamin D improved the heart’s ability to pump blood around the body. The results have been considered as ‘stunning’ by the Leeds Teaching Hospitals Team.

Vitamin D is made in the skin via sunlight and is considered vital for teeth and bone health along with various other biological processes. The average age of those involved in the study was 70 and as with many people that age, they had low levels of Vitamin D, even during the summer months. It’s believed that people over 70 spend less time outdoors and that with age, the body’s ability to manufacture Vitamin D also becomes less effective.

During the study, participants were given a 100 microgram Vitamin D tablet or a sugar placebo pill to take every day during the year. Their impact on heart failure was measured – this is a condition where the heart becomes too weak to pump the blood properly around the body. The ejection fraction was the key measure, or the amount of blood that was pumped out of the heart’s chambers with each beat. The figure is usually 60-70% in a healthy adult, but only 1/4 of the blood can be pumped out in heart failure patients.

When the vitamin pills were taken however, the ejection fraction was shown to increase from 26% to 34%. The study also indicated that the patients’ hearts became smaller, suggesting they were more powerful and efficient.

While doctors aren’t clear that the vitamin should be routinely prescribed due to not being completely certain as to how it improves heart function, they acknowledge that every cell in the body responds to Vitamin D. The study data shows that patients who took Vitamin D saw improvements in their symptoms, so a larger study is needed.

This exciting development brings good news for anyone suffering from a heart problem as it indicates that taking Vitamin D could be a highly effective, convenient and relatively cheap solution to dealing with heart problems, as opposed to prescription medications and other intrusive means such as surgery.

Robert Redfern

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