Affirmations For My Soul’s Journey

By: Marlene Affeld ~

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Affirmations help us maintain focus, belief, and clarity: empowering us with hope and faith that motivates effective action to bring about the positive changes we seek in our daily lives. Affirmations, like all thought, are a form of prayer.

  • I have the ability to change anything in my life I choose to change.
  • I speak with confidence and conviction.
  • I live in “an attitude of gratitude, expressing my heartfelt appreciation and praise for others earnestly and often.
  • I am congruent and totally committed to my goals; seeing them as already accomplished.
  • I only seek that of which I can be a loving custodian. I honor, respect, appreciate, value, mend, and maintain whatever or whomever comes into my life.
  • I respect and love myself: flaws and all. I hold myself, and others in high esteem.
  • I see myself as the person I want to be: courageous, decisive, healthy, truthful, loyal, fair, prosperous, and wise.
  • My vitality, energy, and health increase daily.
  • I slumber in peace and awake in joy living life with a sense of eager anticipation: knowing the best is yet to come.
  • I live a life of design rather than reaction. Divine life flows through every cell of my body as I acknowledge that everything in the Universe is sacred.

Amazing Health Benefits Of Nuts #GoNuts

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By: Marlene Affeld ~

Grab a handful and munch away. Energy dense nuts are good for you! Convenient and great for snacking, nuts are an excellent source of protein, fiber, magnesium, manganese, calcium, zinc, potassium, phosphorus and vitamins A and E. Nuts are also a rich source of l-arginine. L-arginine helps keep arteries flexible and less prone to dangerous blood clots that block blood flow and can lead to a stroke.

file0001859756979The United States Department of Agriculture divides nuts into two groups: tree nuts (pecans, walnuts, almonds, pistachios, etc.) and peanuts (a legume). Peanuts are included because they are typically consumed in the same manner as tree nuts and present a similar nutrient profile. Be aware that some people are allergic to nuts. Reactions can be life threatening in sensitive individuals. If you, or a family member, are allergic to nuts, always read food labels. Food products labels must note if they contain nutmeats or have been prepared in a facility that processes tree nuts or peanuts.

walnut-101462_640When it comes to nutritional value, walnuts appear to pack the biggest punch. NuVal, a proprietary food scoring system developed by Topco Associates and Griffin Hospital of Derby, Connecticut (home of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center located in Braintree, Massachusetts) provides food-scoring systems to food retailers. NuVal gives walnuts a score of 82, closely followed by almonds with a score of 81. Pistachios score an impressive 69, peanuts 67 and cashews rank low with a score of 25.

The United States Department of Agriculture advises, “Walnuts have specifically been studied for their effect on serum lipids and blood pressure. Results have shown that incorporating a moderate amount of walnuts into a cholesterol-lowering diet decreases serum total cholesterol levels and favorably changes the lipoprotein profile in healthy men.”

The USDA reports that in response to growing national and international demand, United States production of nuts has increased substantially. Production has increased from 206.4 million pounds (shelled) in 1970 to more than 2.0 billion pounds produced by the middle of the first decade of the 2000s.

cashew-kernels-610481_640High LDL levels (low-density lipoprotein or “bad” cholesterol) in the blood are one of the major contributing factors in cardiovascular disease. New research data, provided by the research team of David Jenkins and Cyril Kendall at the University of Toronto, reports that dietary changes to incorporate mixed nuts into the diet have significant health benefits. A diverse variety of nuts, including roasted peanuts, help patients with type 2 diabetes control blood lipids (HDL and LDL cholesterol) and blood sugar levels (postprandial glycaemia). The Toronto research team concluded, “Two ounces of nuts daily, as a replacement for carbohydrate foods, improved both glycemic control and serum lipids in type 2 diabetes.”

Most nuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids that help keep the heart healthy by preventing dangerous changes in heart rhythms that can trigger a heart attack. Nuts are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids.

Whether they are use for baking, cooking or snacking, nuts desire a prominent place in a plant-based diet.

Yarrow-This Plant Could Save Your Life! #WildernessSurvival

By: Marlene Affeld ~

Achillea_millefolium_-_Köhler–s_Medizinal-Pflanzen-149Yarrow, also known as Herba Militaris, common yarrow, stanchgrass, knight’s milifoil, soldier’s woundwort, or sanguinary, is a perennial herbaceous plant prized for its wealth of medicinal benefits and culinary applications. The healing herb is native to Africa, Asia and Europe and naturalized across all of North America. Additional names for the plant include dog daisy, ladies’ mantle, noble yarrow, old man’s pepper, and thousand seal and thousand-leaved. Widely used by health practioners in France and Southern Europe as a treatment for feverish diseases, yarrow is often referred to as  “Englishman’s quinine.”  

Treasured as an heirloom medicinal plant, a European variety of yarrow was first introduced to the United States by European immigrants in the early 1600s. Native American Indian healers knew the many benefits of the miraculous plants long before the first white settlers arrived. Although today yarrow can be readily purchased from organic growers or health food stores, it is abundant in nature and it’s free.

Yarrow Just Might Save Your Life

Best known for its blood clotting properties, yarrow can be a “lifesaver” in a wilderness emergency. Hunters and hikers are wise to familiarize themselves with the prolific plant. A nosebleed or profusely bleeding wound can be stanched with a handful of fresh yarrow leaves.

When used fresh, leaves are crushed and placed as a poultice directly on a wound or laceration to stop bleeding and promote healing. Traditional healers used yarrow on an open wound not only to stop blood loss but also to prevent infection or blood poisoning from a dirty laceration.

In a wilderness survival situation, a hemorrhaging wound can be deadly. Packing the wound with yarrow leaves, covering with a layer of moss and binding the yarrow dressing in place with a vine or flexible twig has saved countless lives.

History Of Yarrow

Centuries ago the Greek military leader Achilles advised his warriors to carry dried yarrow leaves to treat battle injuries, hence earning the plant the Latin name Achillea millefolium. Millefolium means “a thousand leaves” referring to the fine fern like foliage of the yarrow plant.

In North America, soldiers fighting in the Civil war used yarrow to stop bleeding and treat wounds giving the prolific weed the name “soldier’s woundwort.” For a nosebleed, naturopathic health practitioners suggest packing the nostril with a rolled up yarrow leaf.

Burnadaran is the Persian name for yarrow. Throughout the Mediterranean and the Middle East, wild gathered yarrow is used to brew an invigorating tonic, valued for its diuretic, diaphoretic, anti-spasmodic and anti-inflammatory properties. Sweetened with honey, yarrow tea is helpful in reducing fever and combating the symptoms a cold or influenza.

Native American Tribal Medicine

Native American Indian tribes relied on yarrow to treat a diverse array of physical complaints. The Ojibwa tribe gathered young yarrow leaves for ceremonial smoking. They used a compress of moist yarrow leaves to stop bleeding and prevented infection in wounds and chewed the purplish colored root to soothe stomach discomfort and relieve toothaches.

The Cherokee and Pawnee tribes drank yarrow tea to encourage a restful sleep and to relieve pain. The Chippewa boiled the leaves and inhaled the steam for headaches, fevers and bronchial infections. Members of the Potawatomi tribe have traditionally used yarrow as a fumigant to protect against evil spirits and to revive those who succumb to coma.

Respected as a primary “medicine twig” used in Navajo traditional medicine, yarrow need not be fresh to be effective. Tribal people chewed the bitter leaf of the yarrow plant to relieve the discomfort of swollen gums, canker sores, mouth ulcers, sore throat or painful decayed teeth. The Navajo people also depended on a strong tea brewed from both the flowers and the leaves of the yarrow plant to treat painful inflammation and swelling from arthritic joints or broken bones. In the case of a broken bone, a poultice of moistened yarrow leaves was applied to the break. Yarrow was also administered in this manner to treat broken bones in animals. Yarrow is frequently employed for its beneficial uses in treating animal injuries and a host of miscellaneous animal ailments.

Mystical Herb – Holy Smoke

Achillea_millefolium_scanA scared ingredient in mixtures for ceremonial smoking, yarrow imparts a woody, pungent flavor and is useful in eliminating toxins from the lungs. When the leaf is smoked as a tobacco substitute it has a mild stimulating effect. Flowers are not included in the smoking mixture as they exude a nauseating smell when burned. If the odor of the burning flowers can be tolerated, the ensuing smoke is inhaled to treat breathing problems.

Yarrow Essential Oil

Oil of achilea, also known as yarrow oil, presents an earthy, slightly bitter taste similar to the flavor of the fresh new leaves themselves. Both the leaves and the flowers of the common yarrow plant produce aromatic volatile oils. Chamazulene, contained in the plant imparts a blue color to the oil. 

Yarrow promotes healing and relieves painful symptoms of varicose veins, hemorrhoids, bruises, thrombosis, phlebitis, ulcers and fistulas. Yarrow oil is also useful in improving the appearance and texture of old scars.

Tasty Edible

Both the flowers and leaves of the yarrow plant are edible. During the 17th century, yarrow was harvested as a highly nutritious food source.

Young yarrow leaves are a tasty addition to salads and can be boiled or steamed for spring greens. Yarrow adds nutrition and substance to soups, stews and sauces. Dried leaves were grounded and used as a spice or brewed as a rejuvenating stimulant.

Yarrow Tea

Yarrow tea is brewed from tender new leaves harvested just prior to the plant beginning to bloom. Young leaves can be brewed fresh or dried for future consumption. To make yarrow tea, steep 2 teaspoons of dried leaves in 1 cup of boiling water. Natural healers suggest drinking 1-to- 3 cups daily as a rejuvenating stimulant. Yarrow tea is a satisfying substitute for coffee.

Used for thousands of years as a healing herbal drink, yarrow tea is beneficial in relieving the symptoms of allergies, sinusitis, colds and coughs. The flavorful tea is considered an effective relief from heavy menstruation. Medical research shows the active chemical achilliene slows menstrual bleeding in the same way it does for external wounds. A traditional treatment for relieving cramps and menstrual distress uses fresh young leaves seeped in chilled white wine.

Yarrow tea offers anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, astringent and antiseptic properties, making it effective for fighting infections. It is also useful to relieve the symptoms of indigestion by promoting the flow of digestive bile and reducing irritation in the intestines. Drinking yarrow tea also improves kidney flow and function.

Plant Description And Cultivation

1024px-Achillea_millefolium_7981Common yarrow is a hardy perennial plant with long and narrow feathery deep green leaves equally distributed along the plant’s sturdy stem. The plant is often described as “a bit hairy.” This aromatic Eurasian woody-stemmed perennial presents an extensive system of creeping, underground stems and spreads readily by both roots and seeds. An attractive plant, yarrow forms dense clumps that reach up to 3 feet tall and 3 feet wide at maturity.

Flourishing in the wild along streambeds, in meadows, pastures and roadside ditches, yarrow prefers a cool climate with generous rainfall. Adaptable to most any soil or climate condition except the southwestern deserts of the United States or elevations above 11,000 feet, common yarrow produces bold white, pink or deep violet flowers exhibited in umbrella-like terminal clusters of 3 to 8 tiny ovate flowers. The delicate blooms look like miniature daisies.

An attractive addition to perennial herb beds and rock gardens, yarrow is ideal filler in fresh and dried flower arrangements. While the majority of yarrow flowers found in the wild are white or pale pink in color, other vibrant shades of burgundy, purple, pink and yellow cultivars are available from specialty plant nurseries. Yarrow is in flower from late spring through autumn. The low-maintenance plant reblooms if spent flowers are deadheaded promptly.

For home garden cultivation, Pearl Yarrow (Achillea Ptarmica Pearl) is a popular favorite. Growing less than 2 feet tall the prolific plant present snowy white fragrant flower clumps.  

Parker Yarrow (Achillea Filipendulina Parker) is easily establishes from seeds or purchased from home and garden centers. Achillea Parker is an upright, clump-forming perennial noted for its deeply dissected, feather-like, highly aromatic, grayish-green foliage. The variety presents generous clumps of tiny, long-lasting, bright golden-yellow flattened flower clusters. Held upright on sturdy stem, flower clusters measure up to 4 inches across.

Yarrow Achillea Cerise Queen (Achillea Millefolium Cerise Queen) is an easy to grow and abundantly blooming perennial for late summer and early fall. The variety quickly establishes from seed.

Cerise Queen Yarrow features flower heads in shades of brilliant fuchsia, magenta and pink. The stately plant presents a vivid profusion of fine dark green, highly aromatic foliage.

Although nursery cultivated varieties are many and prove very attractive in the garden, none hold the potent medicinal properties attributed to wild yarrow tended only by Mother Nature. If you wish to cultivate yarrow for its medicinal properties, dig up a couple of clumps in the wild and transplant to the home herb garden. Harvest wild yarrow responsibly, never taking any more than every third wild plant, allowing the remainder to grow naturally and multiply to ensure the survival of the species.

When cultivated in the home garden, common yarrow does best in poor sandy soil and prefers a full sun or partially shaded area with good drainage. Soil with a high lime concentration is perfect. Relegate yarrow to an area of the landscape that you do not plan to cultivate for anything else. Over time, the yarrow plant secrets a toxin into the soil that kills other competing vegetation; quite effective as a long-term solution to pesky weeds.

Yarrow is an ideal cover for a barren spot in the landscape. Once established, yarrow is carefree; resistant to disease, drought and insect infestation. The plants tenuous rhizome system helps stabilize soil making it useful for erosion control in hillside plantings. Yarrow is used to improve vigor, promote growth and enhance the flavor of vegetables and herbs planted in close proximity.

Drastically trim yarrow plants after flowering to encourage vigorous growth. Yarrow leaves added to the compost pile will accelerate decomposition of organic materials. A strong infusion of yarrow tea can be used to water the garden or houseplants in order to raise copper levels in the soil.

Harvesting And Drying

To dry yarrow for use at a later date, the flowers and delicate leaf stem should be gathered just as the plant begins to flower. The whole plant is harvested and hung upside down away from dust, moisture and sunlight. When dry, store in dark, moisture proof containers.

When gathering in the wild, avoid roadside ditches or private pastures that may have been sprayed with commercial pesticides or herbicides.

Toxic “Look-A-Likes”

In the wild there are multiple plants with small white flowers that can be easily mistaken for yarrow. Western water hemlock (Cicuta douglasii), also known as poison hemlock, mayweed chamomile (Anthemis cotula), wild carrot (Daucus carota) and water parsnip (Sium suave) resemble yarrow.

References:

School Of Natural Healing – Yarrow, Achillea millefolium; (Compositae)
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Dengue Fever #HawaiiDengueFeverOutBreak

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Marlene Affeld ~

Years ago, on a trip to South America, I underwent a series of shots and a regime of medication to guard against mosquitos that carry malaria, a deadly disease that is prevalent in the area. I admit that when bitten by a few mosquitos, I was a bit concerned. However, the drugs worked and I did not succumb to yellow fever.

Today, a state of emergency has been declared after 30+ persons here on the Big Island have tested positive for Dengue Fever, another mosquito borne illness. Unfortunately, there is no vaccine against this horrible fever, also known as “bone break” fever, named because of the severe bone pain it causes that patients report feels like a broken bone.

Emergency spraying is underway and the state advises that no area is risk free. Anything that can hold standing water should be emptied and people are advised to stay away from swamp areas, marshes, and other mosquito prone areas. After more than three months of record breaking rainfalls, the advice is moot, there is standing water everywhere. Officials advise that anyone going outdoors, especially children and the elderly, wear insect repellent containing DEET.

What is your most effective method of repelling mosquitos? Let’s exchange experiences,  information, and suggestions. Please comment below. 

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Lifesscript.com provides the following helpful and informative review of Dengue Fever.

Definition
“Dengue (DENG-gey) fever is a mosquito-borne disease that occurs in tropical and subtropical areas of the world. Mild dengue fever causes high fever, rash, and muscle and joint pain. A severe form of dengue fever, also called dengue hemorrhagic fever, can cause severe bleeding, a sudden drop in blood pressure (shock) and death.

Millions of cases of dengue infection occur worldwide each year. Dengue fever is most common in Southeast Asia and the western Pacific islands, but the disease has been increasing rapidly in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Researchers are working on dengue fever vaccines. For now the best prevention is to reduce mosquito habitat in areas where dengue fever is common.

Symptoms
Many people, especially children and teens, may experience no signs or symptoms during a mild case of dengue fever. When symptoms do occur, they usually begin four to 10 days after you are bitten by an infected mosquito. Signs and symptoms of dengue fever most commonly include:

Fever, as high as 106 F (41 C)
Headaches
Muscle, bone and joint pain
Pain behind your eyes
You might also experience:

Widespread rash
Nausea and vomiting
Rarely, minor bleeding from your gums or nose
Most people recover within a week or so. In some cases, symptoms worsen and can become life-threatening. Blood vessels often become damaged and leaky. And the number of clot-forming cells (platelets) in your bloodstream drops. This can cause:

Bleeding from your nose and mouth
Severe abdominal pain
Persistent vomiting
Bleeding under the skin, which might look like bruising
Problems with your lungs, liver and heart
When to see a doctor

If you’ve recently visited a region in which dengue fever is known to occur and you suddenly develop a fever, see your doctor.

Causes
Dengue fever is caused by any one of four dengue viruses spread by mosquitoes that thrive in and near human lodgings. When a mosquito bites a person infected with a dengue virus, the virus enters the mosquito. When the infected mosquito then bites another person, the virus enters that person’s bloodstream.

After you’ve recovered from dengue fever, you have immunity to the virus that infected you — but not to the other three dengue fever viruses. The risk of developing severe dengue fever, also known as dengue hemorrhagic fever, actually increases if you’re infected a second, third or fourth time.

Risk factors
Factors that put you at greater risk of developing dengue fever or a more severe form of the disease include:

Living or traveling in tropical areas. Being in tropical and subtropical areas increases your risk of exposure to the virus that causes dengue fever. Especially high-risk areas are Southeast Asia, the western Pacific islands, Latin America and the Caribbean.
Prior infection with a dengue fever virus. Previous infection with a dengue fever virus increases your risk of having severe symptoms if you’re infected again.

Complications
If severe, dengue fever can damage the lungs, liver or heart. Blood pressure can drop to dangerous levels, causing shock and, in some cases, death.

Preparing for your appointment
You’ll likely start by seeing your primary care provider. But you also might be referred to a doctor who specializes in infectious diseases.

Because appointments can be brief, and because there’s often a lot of ground to cover, it’s a good idea to be well-prepared for your appointment. Here’s some information to help you get ready, and what to expect from your doctor.

What you can do

Write down any symptoms you’re experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
Write down key personal information. List your international travel history, with dates and countries visited and medications taken while traveling. Bring a record of your immunizations, including pre-travel vaccinations.
Make a list of all your medications. Include any vitamins or supplements you take regularly.
Write down questions to ask your doctor. Preparing a list of questions can help you make the most of your time with your doctor. List your questions from most important to least important in case time runs out.

For dengue fever, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:

What’s the most likely cause of my symptoms?
What kinds of tests do I need?
What treatments are available?
How long will it be before I’m feeling better?
Are there any long-term effects of this illness?
Do you have any brochures or other printed material that I can take home with me? What websites do you recommend?
What to expect from your doctor

Be prepared to answer questions from your doctor, such as:

When did your symptoms begin?
Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
How severe are your symptoms?
Does anything seem to make your symptoms better or worse?
Where have you traveled in the past month?
Were you bitten by mosquitoes while traveling?
Have you been in contact recently with anyone who was ill?

Tests and diagnosis
Diagnosing dengue fever can be difficult, because its signs and symptoms can be easily confused with those of other diseases — such as malaria, leptospirosis and typhoid fever.

Your doctor will likely ask about your medical and travel history. Be sure to describe international trips in detail, including the countries you visited and the dates, as well as any contact you may have had with mosquitoes.

Certain laboratory tests can detect evidence of the dengue viruses, but test results usually come back too late to help direct treatment decisions.

Treatments and Drugs

No specific treatment for dengue fever exists. Your doctor may recommend that you drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration from vomiting and high fever. Acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) can alleviate pain and reduce fever. Avoid pain relievers that can increase bleeding complications — such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) and naproxen sodium (Aleve, others).

If you have severe dengue fever, you may need:

Supportive care in a hospital
Intravenous (IV) fluid and electrolyte replacement
Blood pressure monitoring
Transfusion to replace blood loss

Prevention

Six dengue fever vaccines are in development, but not yet available. The vaccine that’s furthest in development is a three-dose vaccine for children. The results of a phase III trial were published in July 2014. This study showed that the vaccine appears to be safe, and it prevented dengue infections slightly more than half the time.

Those who had the vaccine but still became infected with dengue had a milder course of the disease than did those who weren’t vaccinated. Although the vaccine is not as effective as doctors would like, it is safe. The company that makes this vaccine hasn’t yet announced any plans to seek approval to market the vaccine.

So for now, if you’re living or traveling in an area where dengue fever is known to be, the best way to avoid dengue fever is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes that carry the disease.

If you are living or traveling in tropical areas where dengue fever is common, these tips may help reduce your risk of mosquito bites:

  • Stay in air-conditioned or well-screened housing. It’s particularly important to keep mosquitoes out at night.
  • Reschedule outdoor activities. Avoid being outdoors at dawn, dusk and early evening, when more mosquitoes are out.
  • Wear protective clothing. When you go into mosquito-infested areas, wear a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, socks and shoes.
  • Use mosquito repellent. Permethrin can be applied to your clothing, shoes, camping gear and bed netting. You can also buy clothing made with permethrin already in it. For your skin, use a repellent containing at least a 10 percent concentration of DEET.
  • Reduce mosquito habitat. The mosquitoes that carry the dengue virus typically live in and around houses, breeding in standing water that can collect in such things as used automobile tires. Reduce the breeding habitat to lower mosquito populations.”

Can’t Sleep? Does Valerian Root Work? #Insomnia

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By: Marlene Affeld ~

Many people, plagued by insomnia, have heard of valerian root as a remedy for sleeplessness, depression, anxiety, restlessness, migraines and menstrual problems. They ask, what is Valerian and does valerian root work as a natural remedy for sleep? The answer is yes, that for many people, valerian root works very well. However it is not without cautions and contradictions.

cat-859011_640Clinical test results from several short-term sleep studies indicate that valerian may help reduce the amount of time it take most people to fall asleep, may encourage a sounder sleep, and be a natural alternative to prescription medications for those suffering from chronic insomnia or wakefulness.

Research studies indicate that the various active compounds in valerian root are capable of promoting the production of GABA in the brain. GABA, or gamma aminobutryic acid, is a powerful neurotransmitter that promotes muscle relaxation, sedation and sleep. Some athletes take valerian to not only promote sleep but to trigger the production of growth hormone. Studies indicated that valerian root appears to increase the amount of GABA released from nerve ending. In the studies, it was also noted that valerian help prevent GABA from being reabsorbed by nerve cells thus increasing the amount of GABA available in the brain through these two supportive mechanisms.

For more than 4,000 years, valerian has been a staple in Greek, Roman, and Chinese traditional medicine. In traditional herbal remedies, the valerian plant’s root and rhizomes (underground stems) were finely chopped and dried for tea or used as an extract to be used primarily as a sleeping sedative. Valerian’s roots contain several; different compounds, including valerenic acid, a sesquiterpenoid that is used as the active marker compound for valerian root powder tinctures and extracts.

In both herbal medicine and pharmacology, Valerian is the name of an herbaceous plant or natural dietary supplement made from the root of a wild-growing plant found flourishing all across North America. Valerian is available as a pure supplement in powdered or form or markets as valerian tea, tinctures, valerian root, liquid valerian extracts or the root can be brewed as a tea.

Valerian’s History As An Herbal Supplement

bed-945881_640Valerian (Valeriana officinalis, Caprifoliaceae), also known as garden valerian, all-heal, or heliotrope, is a tall, herbaceous perennial flowering plant prized for its sweet scent and as well as its culinary and medicinal properties. In late spring or early summer valerian, a grassland plant exhibits a profusion of white or pink flowers.

During the 16th century, extracts from the highly fragrant blooms were used as an ingredient in flavoring perfume, bath salts, lotions, and soaps. When extracts of the medicinal flower were added to bath water, they were said to promote relaxation, reduce restlessness, relieve muscle pain and encourage a good night’ sleep. As a culinary ingredient, extract of valerian root was used to flavor foods and beverages such as teas and root beer.

Native to Europe and many parts of Asia, valerian was introduced to North America by early European settlers who used an extract from the root of the plant to calm anxiety, combat depression and hypochondria, provide pain relief from migraine headaches and stomach cramps and to relieve hot flashes and other menstrual symptoms in women. During the early 1800’s Shaker settlers formed a cooperative to commercially cultivate valerian for sale to pharmacists and doctors.

Although the fresh chopped root has very little odor, the dried root projects a pungent offensive odor often described as being similar to dirty socks or stale garbage, the likely origin of the word “pew”. The first-century Roman physician Dioscorides first used the word “phu” in reference to valerian. Valerian is attractive to cats, containing “cat-attracting” properties similar to those found in catnip.
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Dosage

Valerian root supplements are indexed in the Commission E (Germany’s regulatory agency for herbs) list of approved herbs. Valerian supplements are available in tablets, liquid extracts or tinctures, and dried roots can also be brewed as a tea.

When taken as a sleep aid, valerian many be taken in any form or in combination formulation of other sleep inducing natural supplements such as serotonin, melatonin or 5-HTP. The usual dosage of valerian extract in tablet or capsule form is 300 to 900 milligrams to be taken a 1-to-2 hours before bedtime. For restlessness, depression, stress and anxiety, the usual dose is 50 to 100 milligrams taken 2 to 3 times a day. Dependent on the patient’s body weight and presenting symptoms, some practitioners recommend doses of 200 milligrams or even 400 milligrams take 3 times a day.

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Clinical trials indicate that only a single dose of valerian tends to show no significant benefit or improvement in symptoms. The studies suggest that improvement increases over a period of 2 to 4 weeks and may work best when taken over an extended period of time.

American Family Physician has evaluated the merits valerian and notes, commenting, “Valerian is a traditional herbal sleep remedy that has been studied with a variety of methodologic designs using multiple dosages and preparations. Research has focused on subjective evaluations of sleep patterns, particularly sleep latency, and study populations have primarily consisted of self-described poor sleepers. Valerian improves subjective experiences of sleep when taken nightly over one- to two-week periods, and it appears to be a safe sedative/hypnotic choice in patients with mild to moderate insomnia. The evidence for single-dose effect is contradictory. Valerian is also used in patients with mild anxiety, but the data supporting this indication are limited. Although the adverse effect profile and tolerability of this herb are excellent, long-term safety studies are lacking.”

Cautions And Concerns

Using valerian, when combined with other herbal supplements or prescription medications may increase side effects such as stomach distress, dizziness, drowsiness, lack of coordination, balance and difficulty concentrating. Some persons may also experience some impairment in thinking and judgment.

The National Institute of Health notes that valerian might have additive therapeutic and adverse effects when taken with sedatives, other medications or certain herbs and dietary supplements containing sedative properties. These include the following:

  • Benzodiazepines such as Xanax®, Valium®, Ativan®, and Halcion®.
  • Barbiturates or central nervous system (CNS) depressants such as phenobarbital (Luminal®), morphine, and propofol (Diprivan®).

Dietary supplements such as St. John’s wort, kava, and melatonin.

Avoid or limit the use of alcohol while being treated with valerian or these medications to avoid a possible drug interaction. Avoid driving or operating hazardous machinery until you know how the medications are likely to affect you. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding you should not take valerian or any other herbal supplements unless prescribed by your physician.

Remember to tell your healthcare provider about all other medications you are taking, including vitamins, supplements, and herbs. Do not stop your medications without first talking to your doctor.

What is your solution for insomnia? Let’s exchange information and ideas. Please leave your comments below.

Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease #HeartburnRelief

girl-414378_640Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease Causes $1 Billion Dollar On The Nation’s Economy

An extremely common health problem, acid reflux, also known as gastro-esophageal reflux disease or GERD, affects as many as 50 percent of all Americans. Healthline.com reports the following statistics.

  • Sixty percent of the adult population will experience some type of gastro esophageal reflux disease (GERD) within a 12-month period and 20 to 30 percent will have weekly symptoms.
  • Approximately seven million people in the United States currently have some symptoms of GERD. Approximately 20 percent of the United States population report reflux symptoms that occur at least weekly.
  • Obesity is linked to the development of GERD and frequency of symptoms.
  • There are approximately 64.6 million prescriptions written for GERD medications in the United States on an annual basis.
  • People with GERD have a lower reported health-related qualify of life, which includes reduced enjoyment of food (80 percent), sleep problems (60 percent), and work concentration difficulties when symptoms were present (40 percent). 
  • It’s estimated by the American College of Gastroenterology that the symptoms of GERD result in almost $2 billion in lost productivity each week of the year.

diagram-41638_640Typical symptoms of acid reflux, commonly referred to as heartburn, are severe pain or a burning sensation that seems to start behind the breastbone and sometimes travels up to your throat. It severe cases, the symptoms, and pain caused by acid reflux are often mistaken for a heart attack or symptoms of cardiovascular disease.

Most people erroneously believe acid reflux to be caused by excessive amounts of acid generated in the stomach; acid reflux usually is the result of too little acid in the stomach. Misinformation is the reason so many patients take over-the-counter acid blockers or prescribed acid-blocking drugs.

In 2012, sales of over-the-counter digestive health products in the United States exceeded $53.3 million dollars; over 2 million dollars of that total was for antacid tablets. The remainder was for various stomach remedies, diarrhea tablets, anti-acid liquids and powders.

OTC calcium carbonate antacids are often used for immediate relieve of heartburn symptoms. The most popular OTC brands are Tums, Maalox, and Mylanta.  These medications work by altering the pH balance in the stomach to reduce acidity. However, if you find you are taking antacids constantly to relieve continual discomfort, you need to schedule an appointment with your doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

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Causes Of Heartburn

When we consume food or drink, it passes through the esophagus into the stomach. At that point, a muscular valve known as the lower esophageal sphincter or LES closes, preventing food or stomach acid from moving back up the esophagus. Acid reflux is the result of the esophageal sphincter or LES relaxing inappropriately, allowing acid from the stomach to flow or reflux backwards into the esophagus.

For persons plagued by persistent heartburn, it is important to understand that acid reflux is not a disease caused by excess acid in your stomach, rather it is symptomatic of one of two unrelated medical problems, a hiatal hernia or an infection from the Helicobacter phylori (H. pylori) strain of bacteria. H. phylori bacteria is believed to impact more than half of the world’s population and has been identified by the World Health Organization or WHO, as a Group 1 carcinogen.

Although these two conditions are unrelated, many person who suffer from a hiatal hernia are also infected with H. pylori bacteria which causes a chronic low-level inflammation of the delicate stomach lining. The bacterial infection can develop into a peptic ulcer along with associated symptoms of pain, digestion difficulties and severe, chronic heartburn.

While stomach acid is not the root cause of a stomach ulcer, treating an ulcer often involves medications to reduce or neutralize stomach acid.

Heartburn May Be A Side Effect Of Many Medications

In addition to these common underlying causes of acid reflux or GERD, certain over-the-counter, as well as prescription medications can cause heartburn. Medical research shows that aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are the second leading cause of peptic ulcers.

Not only should you avoid aspirin, it is imperative while you are allowing an ulcer to heal to avoid NSAIDs. Drugs in this class include ibuprofen (Motrin, Midol) and naproxen (Naprosyn, Anaprox, Aleve).

Other common culprits are antibiotics, blood pressure medications, antidepressants, anti-anxiety medication, as well as osteoporosis and chronic pain medications.

Gastrointestinal Associates advises, “An ulcer, which is a hole or sore in the tissue lining, can occur almost anywhere in the digestive tract, but is found most frequently in the duodenum. Duodenal ulcer is about 10 times more common than gastric ulcer – ulcer of the stomach. Together, they are medically known as peptic ulcer – which is what we generally refer to by the simple term, ulcer.

So common that it is of epidemic proportion. About 10 percent of our population – over 20 million Americans  – are affected. That is, they now have, have had or sometime in their lives will have an occurrence or recurrence of this chronic disease. The expression “once an ulcer, always an ulcer” means that you can never be sure an ulcer, once healed, won’t reappear. Every day, another 4,000 or so Americans develop an ulcer. Men are affected more often than women, although in recent years the percentage of afflicted women seems to be increasing.

All age groups, including infants and children, are involved. The disease strikes hardest at those between the ages of 25 and 40, persons in their most productive years. In lost hours of work and medical expenses, it causes more than $1 billion annual drain on the nation’s economy.”

 

 

 

The Amazing Health And Healing Properties Of Curcumin – The Anti-Aging Super Spice

anti-inflammatory-743044__180By: Marlene Affeld ~ Curcumin, the active part of the turmeric plant, is used as a seasoning in curries and other spicy dishes from the Middle East, Asia, and India. Curcumin (Curcuma longa) is what gives curry its distinctive bright yellow-orange color and unique spicy flavor.

Although many people use this spice in cooking, most people are unaware of the amazing natural health and healing benefits of curcumin. Curcumin, a bioactive substance that has antioxidant properties that are nearly ten times stronger than vitamins C and E, boosts immunity, reduces chronic inflammation at the molecular level, normalize cholesterol levels and prevents premature aging.

History of Curcumin

spices-541974__180CurcuminForHealth.com tells the story of curcumin, noting, “The history of curcumin – considered one of the most beneficial compounds from turmeric (Curcuma longa) dates back about 5,000 years. It was a principal healing agent in Ayurveda, and traditional Indian system of medicine, and recognized as a valuable ingredient long before it became popular as a supplement.

The bright yellow-orange pigment of turmeric is the primary source curcumin. Breaking this down further, there are sub-compounds or “fractions” of curcumin called “curcuminoids.” Turmeric contains demothoxycurcumin, otherwise known as “curcumin II”, bisdemethoxycurcumin, known as “curcumin III” and cyclocurcumin. These compounds make up, on an average, about 3 to 5 percent of turmeric, although some in some regions of India, the turmeric actually contains higher levels, reaching 6 to 8 percent because of locally favorable growing conditions and farming practices.

The curcumin products you’re likely to find in health food stores contain a mixture of curcuminoids, depending on the way they’ve been processed.

Turmeric is typically grown in warmer regions, including India, China, and Southeast Asia. The brightly colored complex of curcumin (well-known to anyone who has eaten curry) is sometimes referred to as Indian saffron, yellow ginger, yellow root, ukon, kacha haldi, or simply natural yellow.

After the roots are harvested, they are cleaned in water, cured and dried. After drying the root is ground for use as a spice, or the curcumin is extracted to be used for its health benefits.

These days, most people probably know curcumin by enjoying curry made with turmeric. The fat content of coconut milk and other ingredients in traditional Indian cooking help curcumin absorb in the digestive tract, so growing up eating curry very likely has some protective and medicinal effect. However, there is increasing research that shows that concentrated extracts of curcumin are very strong as well – plus, they have the benefit of being convenient and proven effective!”

Curcumeroids

Found within the turmeric root, and the powder made from the root that is used in cooking are active phenolic compounds called curcumeroids. Curcumin is one among the three curcuminoids found in turmeric. The key benefits of curcumeroids are that they soothe stomach pain, stimulate the secretion of bile, eases inflammation, and kill bacteria.

Anti-Inflammatory Properties Of Curcumin

Curcumin is the most potent anti-inflammatory of the three curcumeroids found in the Asian tuber. The significant anti-inflammatory properties make curcumin an effective anti-inflammatory pharmaceutical for chronic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, and inflammatory bowel disease; all without the dangerous and unpleasant side effects of many other prescription medications.

A recent research study among patients with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis showed that patients taking up to 1.7 grams of curcumin a day for two months reduced bowel symptoms and the need for other medications.

ArthritisToday.org reports, “Traditionally used in Chinese and Indian Ayurvedic medicine to treat arthritis turmeric/curcumin blocks inflammatory cytokines and enzymes, including cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), the target of celecoxib (Celebrex).

Several recent studies show that turmeric/curcumin has anti-inflammatory properties and modifies immune system responses. A 2006 study showed turmeric was more effective at preventing joint inflammation than reducing joint inflammation.

A 2010 clinical trial found that a turmeric supplement called Meriva (standardized to 75 percent curcumin combined with phosphatidylcholine) provided long-term improvement in pain and function in 100 patients with knee OA. In a small 2012 pilot study, a curcumin product called BCM-95 reduced joint pain and swelling in patients with active RA better than diclofenac, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID).”

Curcumin Is A Natural Antiseptic

Curcumin is a natural antiseptic and disinfectant in case of cuts, scrapes, bruises or wounds. Curcumin helps in reducing germs and bacteria, and in healing wounds faster.

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Curcumin and Cancer

Researchers now report that this member of the ginger family is capable of fighting cancer cell growth. Many healthcare providers suggest that if taken on a regular basis, either as a spice in your daily diet or as an oral supplement, turmeric can eliminate cancer from the body. Turmeric’s power in treating cancer lies with the presence of polyphenols, phytochemicals, anti-carcinogens, and antioxidants.

Dr. Meracola discusses the benefits of curcumin, noting curcumin:

  • Inhibits the transformation of cells from normal to tumor
  • Inhibits the synthesis of a protein thought to be instrumental in tumor formation
  • Helps prevent the development of additional blood supply necessary for cancer cell growth (angiogenesis)
  • Helps your body destroy mutated cancer cells so they cannot spread throughout your body

The American Cancer Society notes, “Some proponents believe turmeric may prevent and slow the growth of a number of types of cancer, particularly tumors of the esophagus, mouth, intestines, stomach, breast, and skin.

Animal and laboratory studies have found that curcumin, an antioxidant that is an active ingredient in turmeric, demonstrated some anti-cancer effects in the lab. But human research is needed to determine curcumin’s role in cancer prevention and treatment in people. Several types of cancer cells are inhibited by curcumin in the laboratory, and curcumin slows the growth and spread of some cancers in some animal studies. Clinical trials are underway to find out if it can help humans as well.

Curcumin is being studied to find out whether it helps other diseases such as arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, and stomach ulcers. It is also being studied to see whether it can help lower “bad cholesterol” and improve outcome in kidney transplants. A few early studies have been done in humans, but much more human research is still needed to find out if curcumin can be effective in these uses.”

NaturalNews.com reports on the interaction of curcumin and cancer, noting, “Research done by the Life Extension Foundation found that curcuminoids target ten factors involved in cancer development. This includes chronic inflammation, DNA damage, and disruption of cell signaling pathways. Curcumin supplementation was shown to destroy cancer cell mitochondria, disrupt the cancer cell cycle and arrest stem cell development that facilitates further cancer cell formation.

Curcumin regulates tumor suppressor pathways and triggers mitochondria-mediated death in the cancer tissue. Curcumin is anti-angiogenic, which means that it shuts down the ability of cancer cells to form new blood vessels for blood supply and fuel. This effect makes cancer cells more vulnerable to pharmacological treatments such as chemotherapy and other cancer-control drugs.”

Studies show that curcumin can also help prevent breast cancer in women at high risk from taking hormone replacement therapy. Scientists at the University of Missouri studied the pungent spice in mice, finding it inhibited a protein called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) known to promote and support hormone-related tumors and other types of cancer. Curcumin also helped reduce changes in breast tissue linked to cancer.

Researchers in Texas confirmed that curcumin increased the effects of Taxol (a chemotherapy drug) and prevented breast cancer development in the lungs of mice. This same sensitizing effect is seen in other types of cancer including pancreatic, colon, gastric, blood, prostate, lung, bladder, head and neck, brain cancer, cervical cancer, multiple myeloma, leukemia, and lymphoma.

Most recently, a research study from Zhejiang Provincial People’s Hospital in Zheijiang, China indicates that curcumin is capable of inducing apoptosis (cell death) within triple negative breast cancer cells. Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is a type of cancer that defies conventional therapy.

Turmeric and Diabetes

2012 research studies conducted amongst persons with pre-diabetes found that curcumin delayed the onset of Type 2 diabetes. The study, conducted over a nine-month period, provided participants with either curcumin supplements or a placebo. At the end of the test period, 16 patients taking the placebo were diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. None of the participants taking curcumin developed diabetes. The study results were attributed to the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin.

Cardiovascular Disease and Curcumin

Curcumin offers protection from heart attack and stroke, making beneficial for people with diabetes who are at high risk for cardiovascular disease. Scientists have discovered that curcumin found in turmeric, dissolves plaque that clogs arteries. When arteries clog, the heart is required to work overtime to deliver adequate blood to the organs. This activity leads to high blood pressure and may also cause enlarging and weakening of the heart. As a powerful antioxidant, curcumin supports healthy cholesterol levels.

ZipHeal.com reports on the health benefits of curcumin, noting, “Another one of turmeric health benefits is its capacity to improve cardiovascular health. Curcumin can stop the oxidation of cholesterol that results in cholesterol buildup on the walls of blood vessels and the consequent clogging of these vessels. This action of curcumin prevents strokes and heart attacks. Further, turmeric also supplies vitamin B6 to the body. This vitamin protects against the damage-causing substance homocysteine.”

Curcumin and Liver Disease

A research study recently conducted in Mexico showed that curcumin prevents acute liver damage through at least two mechanisms: its work as an antioxidant and by inhibiting NF-kappa-B activation and thus slowing down the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines.

A second study published in the Fundamental and Clinical Pharmacology Journal noted that curcumin is effective in preventing and reversing cirrhosis of the liver, likely by its ability to reduce TGF-beta expression. This data indicates that curcumin might be an effective antifibrotic and fibrolytic drugs in the treatment of chronic hepatic disease.

Among curcumin’s numerous benefits is its ability to function as a natural detox agent, thus clearing the liver of harmful toxins. Among these, it also protects the liver from the toxicity of excess alcohol consumption, chemicals, and certain medications.

NaturalNews.com reports on the powerful health benefits curcumin as an antioxidant, stating, “Turmeric is the fourth most antioxidant-rich herb with an Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) of 159,277. The curcuminoids boost levels of the body’s most potent antioxidants including glutathione, superoxide dismutase, and catalase. These molecules are critical for the body to limit oxidative stress-related damage to the vital organ systems.”

Curcumin and Weight Loss

tape-403592_640Curcumin has been shown to reduce the incidence of obesity-related diseases. Much of the inflammation associated with obesity is a result in part to the presence of immune cells known macrophages present in fat throughout the body. The immune cells produce cytokines that promote inflammation in the heart, pancreas and liver. Scientific studies indicate that turmeric suppresses the activity and number of these cells thereby reducing some of the adverse consequences of obesity.

Curcumin promotes weight loss and the resulting incidence of obesity-related disease by stimulating the production of bile that breaks down fatty food. Taking one teaspoon of turmeric powder with each meal has been shown to help in losing weight.

PhysicanNaturals.com comments on how curcumin helps digestive problems, stating, “Those who are prone to the problems of severe indigestion may benefit from taking curcumin on a daily basis. It helps in increasing the bile production, thereby curing such problems completely.”

Curcumin and Alzheimer’s disease

dependent-100343__180FitLife.tv reports, “Curcumin in turmeric has a potential role in the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, according to a study published in the Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology. Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease characterized by progressive cognitive deterioration together with declining activities of daily living and behavioral changes. Various effects of curcumin, such as decreased Beta-amyloid plaques, delayed degradation of neurons, metal-chelation, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant property, improve overall memory in Alzheimer’s patients.”

Curcumin and Depression

GreenMedInfo.com announces, “A groundbreaking new clinical study proves that the turmeric extract known as curcumin is at least as effective as Prozac in treating serious depression. When one factors in the lack of side effects associated with the use of curcumin, it is not unreasonable to call the spice extract superior.”

A recently published study judged the antidepressant potential of the extract compared to prescription drugs. In this study, curcumin was compared to fluoxetine (one brand name is Prozac®) and imipramine (one brand name is Tofranil) in a scientific model of depression.5 It was also studied as an “add on” therapy with these commonly prescribed drugs.

Seven groups in total were tested, with one untreated group serving as a control, and others either with two different dosage levels of curcumin only, each prescription drug only, or each prescription drug paired with curcumin as an “add on” therapy.

The results in the curcumin groups were impressive. The high-absorption curcumin extract was just as effective as alleviating symptoms of depression as either prescription drug, but had none of the side effects (which include drowsiness and sedation, and some loss of motor skills).

In fact, the side effects are so strong that curcumin was unable to curb them when it was combined in treatment with the drugs.”

Curcumin and Hair Loss

hair-248049_640The active ingredient curcumin is a powerful antioxidant proven to be effective in fighting what is known as TGF-beta one, one of the main known causes of hair loss. A helpful remedy for hair loss is made from a tablespoon of turmeric added to a tablespoon of honey and ¼ cup plain yogurt. Massage the mixture into the hair. Leave the mixture on the hair for 20 to 30 minutes, and then rinse out.

Curcumin and Hepatitis B Virus

According to a study published in the June 2010 issue of FEBS Letters, curcumin, the potent property found in turmeric, can inhibit the growth of hepatitis B Virus by regulating and decreasing the proteins responsible for the multiplication of the nasty virus.

Curcumin Can Help Ease Cystic Fibrosis

Research studies now confirm that curcumin, the active agent in turmeric, is one of the most promising cures against cystic fibrosis, a severe form of respiratory infection. Although preliminary results are still inconclusive, a number of persons suffering from cystic fibrosis report a positive improvement in their symptoms after using turmeric on a regular basis.

Adding Curcumin To Your Daily Diet

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There is no doubt about it. Curcumin is a powerful nutrient. Turmeric can be eaten raw in salads or cooked in sauces, curries, stews and soups. To achieve optimal curcumin absorption, since curcumin is a fat-soluble nutrient, it is important to combine turmeric with good fats such as olive oil, coconut oil or milk. Adding a dash of black pepper for the piperine molecule enhances curcumin uptake. Adding black pepper to turmeric increases the absorption of curcumin by nearly 200 percent. You can also find fermented turmeric in an organic acid base at health food stores. Fermented turmeric has an extraordinarily high absorption rate. Turmeric, as a whole herb, remains in the digestive tract longer than curcumin, releasing antioxidant curcumin along with other beneficial substances.

Medical practitioners recommend turmeric supplements. However, turmeric is more effective than isolated curcumin for most inflammatory disorders including arthritis, tendonitis, carpel tunnel syndrome and autoimmune conditions. Take 400 to 600 milligrams of turmeric extracts, either in tablet or capsule form, three times per day or as directed by your physician. Seek products standardized for 95 percent curcumoids.

Because neither curcumin nor turmeric taken orally is well absorbed unless taken with black pepper or piperine, make sure that the one you choose contains black pepper extract or piperine. Be patient when taking turmeric supplements: the full benefits may not be apparent for eight weeks.

Cautions and Concerns

Whenever you add a new supplement to your diet, it is important to discuss the change with your healthcare provider. Curcumin can interfere with the functioning or metabolism of anticoagulants such as clopidogrel, Warfarin, and aspirin. While turmeric is known to decrease blood sugar levels (hypoglycemic effect) that may prove beneficial to persons at high risk of developing diabetes, it should not be used by known diabetics using hypoglycemic medication.

Turmeric may inhibit platelet aggregation. Persons with a tendency to bleeding or clotting should not take curcumin except under the advice of a physician.
Curcumin Research Studies

Phytother Res. 2012 Nov;26 (11):1719-25. doi: 10.1002/ptr.4639. E-pub 2012 Mar 9.

A randomized, pilot study to assess the efficacy and safety of curcumin in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis.
Chandran B1, Goel A.

“Curcumin is known to possess potent anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic properties. This pilot clinical study evaluated the safety and effectiveness of curcumin alone, and in combination with diclofenac sodium in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Forty-five patients diagnosed with RA were randomized into three groups with patients receiving curcumin (500 mg) and diclofenac sodium (50 mg) alone or their combination. The primary endpoints were a reduction in Disease Activity Score (DAS) 28. The secondary endpoints included American College of Rheumatology (ACR) criteria for reduction in tenderness and swelling of joint scores. Patients in all three treatment groups showed statistically significant changes in their DAS scores. Interestingly, the curcumin group showed the highest percentage of improvement in overall DAS and ACR scores (ACR 20, 50 and 70) and these scores were significantly better than the patients in the diclofenac sodium group. More importantly, curcumin treatment was found to be safe and did not relate with any adverse events.”

By: Marlene Affeld

Amazing Medicinal Benefits Of Guavas #OptimumHealth

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By: Marlene Affeld ~

It’s guava season here on the Big Island of Hawaii. Enjoy!

What if I told you there was a super-fruit that could help you lose weight, decrease your cancer risk, help the body fight infection, keep your heart healthy, eliminate constipation, aid digestion, heal wounds, cure toothaches, protect the prostate, control diabetes, make your teeth whiter, fight dental problems such as toothaches, decay and gum disease, and turns back the clock on aging?

That’s right, I’m talking about guavas! The amazing health benefits of guava fruit are appreciated worldwide. Not only does guava help in the treatment of a plethora of medical conditions, it is a treasure trove of nutrition; a taste pleaser that does wonders for the body.

A Sweet Storehouse Of Nutrition

IMG_0011High in vitamin C, Vitamin A, B vitamins, calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, folate, electrolytes, dietary fiber, and imbued with great taste; it is no wonder guava is considered a superfruit. Did you know that the edible rind of the guava fruit contains more than 5 times as much vitamin C as an orange?

What makes guava so special is that commercial cultivation of the fruit does not require excessive applications of toxic chemicals. Unlike the chemicals pesticides used in the cultivation of apples, grapes and other exotic fruits, guavas are one of the least chemically treated and sprayed fruits.

A Most Flavorful Fruit

fruits-601739_640Because of its wide distribution around the world, the origin of the guava is unknown. Guavas are plentiful in Africa as well as Central and South America, India and Asia. However, the sweetest and most flavorful guavas flourish in the fertile volcanic soil of the Hawaiian Islands. Favorite varieties are the lemon, apple and strawberry guava. The apple guava is the most recognized guava as it is grown commercially and traded in the international market.

If you live in Hawaii, guavas are abundant in the wild; touched only by the sunshine and washed by the rain. You can’t get any more organic than that! There is nothing sweeter than the delicate taste of wild ripe guavas picked sun-ripened, fresh from the tree.

The wonder fruit grows on evergreen trees that reach heights of 15-to 30 feet at maturity in the wild. The thin profile tree produces clouds of fragrant white flowers, followed by firm green orbs that mature to a golden yellow flavorful fruit when ripe.

The inside of the guava fruit is soft, pale pink to deep red and incredibly sweet. Each fruit contains from 100- to- 500 tiny seeds. The mouth-watering flavor is akin to a perfectly ripe pear. Once you have tasted a sun-ripen guava and enjoyed its lemony fragrance, you too will call guavas one of your favorite tropical fruits.

Fresh Is Best

guava-336958_640Green guavas are firm and hard. When ripe, guavas are golden yellow and soft to the touch. Guavas can be eaten fresh or consumed in the form of juices, syrups or jellies. Consuming fresh guavas provides a great deal more health benefits as the whole fruit contains the fiber. Juicing removes the fiber. Unfortunately, guavas are highly perishable and do not ship well.

Unless you have a guava tree in your backyard you will have to settle for pure bottled guava juice, available from health food stores and specialty markets. Concentrate dried guava powder is also available and makes a great addition to sauces, deserts and protein smoothies. Add powered guava to chilled coconut water for a freshening tropical drink. A shot of island tropical rum can be added for a flavorful cocktail. Serve over crushed ice, garnish with a slice of pineapple and a sprig of fresh mint.

Guava Benefits In Pregnancy 

woman-356141_640If you and your partner are experiencing difficulty conceiving, regular consumption of guava leaf tea has proven to be effective in increasing sperm production.

Guava is a true super-fruit for pregnant women and the unborn. It’s the folic acid that helps to prevent neural tube defects in the fetus that is most beneficial to baby. The fiber contained in guava prevents constipation and hemorrhoids that are a major problem for many women during pregnancy. Many women also have difficulty maintaining equilibrium in blood pressure during pregnancy. Management of blood pressure is crucial to prevent miscarriages and premature births. The remarkable nutritional components contained in guava fruits helps regulate blood pressure.

If you are pregnant and have yet to taste a guava, these are some of the best reasons for adding guava to your diet now.

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Guavas And Weight Loss

Because guavas are a low-calorie, cholesterol free, no indigestible carbohydrate fruit, it helps satisfy hunger pangs for an extended period of time, thereby assisting in weight reduction and the control of diabetes. The sweet tropical fruit presents a subtle acidic sweet taste that rapidly intensifies as you eat your way into the center. Don’t let the seeds or rind deter you; the entire fruit is tasty and edible. Here in Hawaii, locals enjoy fresh guava slices sprinkled with sea salt and a little chill powder.

Guavas are considered the best fruit source of the powerful phytonutrient, Lycopene. Medical research studies show that this antioxidant prevents the growth of cancerous cell, especially those in the breasts, lungs and prostate.

Brighter, Whiter, Healthier Teeth

guava-leaf-204980_640A decoction of guava leaves seeped in boiling water relieves toothache and painful gums while it helps brighten and whiten teeth. If you have a sore throat, a gargle with the solution helps relieve throat discomfort. Ingredients contained in both the fruit and the leaves protect teeth and gums and therefore are an important ingredient in many popular toothpastes and mouth rinses. Chewing a couple of fresh leaves or eating a guava also freshens the breath.

Powerful Pain Relief

All the medicinal benefits of the guava fruit are present in the deep-green leaves of the guava tree. Potent chemicals concentrated in the leaves such as carotenoids, polyphenoids, tannins and flavonoids. Guava leaves are packed with antioxidants as well as a host of antibacterial and anti-inflammatory agents and beneficial tannins making fresh guava leaves an effective pain reliever. Due to its host of medical benefits, guava leaf supplements are now available in the form of capsules or as guava leaf tea.

Guava Calms Stomach And Intestinal Distress

Botanists believe the guava to be native to Mexico and Central America where they have been a traditional herbal cure for diarrhea amongst the Indian Tribes of the Amazon. Mature fresh guava leaves are chewed as a remedy for diarrhea and stomach discomfort.

Drug.com reports that guava leaves contain beneficial triterpenes, phenols and flavonoids and are a rich source of quercetin, a natural antioxidant. Because guava also presents strong antimicrobial and antispasmodic properties, it is especially useful for treating diarrhea.

The Smoothest Skin

girl-610544__180The benefits of guava leaves when applied to skin disorders are quite remarkable. Acne blemishes and blackheads adversely affect the appearance of our skin. A concoction of guava leaves has proved effective in eliminating these unpleasant conditions. Guava leaves contain antiseptic properties that destroy acne-causing bacteria. For a rejuvenating facial mask, mix 2-to-3 tablespoons of dried guava powder with just enough warm water to form a thick paste. Apply to forehead, nose, cheeks and chin and allow paste to dry. Rinse thoroughly with cool water and pat dry. If fresh guavas are available, blend both the leaves and fruit in a food processor and use as a facial mask instead of the powder. Used as an abrasive scrub, ground guava leaves are helpful in clearing clogged pores and removing blackheads. Apply the guava paste mask three times a week until the irritation and inflammation heal.

The antioxidant properties found in guava leaves destroy the free radicals that damage skin. A decoction of mature guava leaves (steep a handful in boiling water and cool) can protect your skin from aging as well as help improve skin tone and texture. Make up a fresh batch weekly; store unused portion in the refrigerator. Apply twice daily with sterile cotton balls saturated in the healing liquid. This same decoction can be applied to contact irritations or as an instant pain relieving remedy for insect stings and bites. Guava leaves contain allergy-blocking compounds to relieve irritation and antiseptic properties to promote healing.

A Hair Loss Treatment That Works

If you are losing hair due to illness, stress or heredity, boil a batch of guava leaves in water until the water turns dark. Cool. Apply the liquid to the scalp as a rinse after shampooing. Allow the liquid to remain on the scalp for several minutes, and then rinse with cool water and towel dry. Apply the liquid twice a week until normal hair growth is restored.

Add Guavas To Your Diet

On the mainland, the traditional adage says that “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” while here in the Hawaiian Islands, locals advise “a few guavas in season keeps the doctor away for a whole year.”

Remember to always check with your healthcare provider before taking supplements or making radical changes in your daily diet.

Phew! What’s That Awful Smell?

By: Marlene Affeld ~

allergy-18656__180It is no surprise that humans emit body odor. In fact, all mammals smell. The odors extruded by animals help them to identify each other and choose a healthy mate. For humans, scent first comes into play in newborns when they use scent to identify their mothers. Research studies indicate that tests with new babies found that for fussy little ones, the scent of their mother brought the most comfort.

Every single person on earth has their own “signature body odor”, as unique as our fingerprints. Our particular signature odor is determined by overall general health, genetics, and most importantly, personal hygiene.

Dr. Debra Jaliman, a dermatologist, spokesperson for the American Academy of Dermatology and author of Skin Rules: Trade Secrets From a Top Dermatologist explains body odor, noting, “The fermentation of your perspiration by naturally occurring bacteria on your skin produces the distinctive scent we less generously call body odor. We each have a distinct combination of bacteria — about 1,000 types live in human sweat glands — and, therefore, our own unique smell.”

Do You Present An Offensive Body Odor?

Did you know that most people cannot smell their own body odor? The human nose adjusts to consistent odors in order to reduce the impact these scents may have on recognizing future scents. This is the reason if you own dogs; you may smell like a dog and be entirely unaware that your entire home reeks of dog smell.

Presenting an unpleasant body odor is social suicide, and no one wants to offend. If you practice good hygiene, but find you have an off-putting body odor, or other people have commented you may want to consider if you have an undiagnosed underlying medical problem or if the foods in your diet are the culprits.

Medical Issues That May Cause Body Odor

Cancers or tumors may cause odor at the site of the tumor. Tumors of the mouth or stomach may be responsible for a persistent bad breath or cancers of the uterus or cervix can cause an odorous discharge from the vagina.

Certain health problems such as gastrointestinal disorders, diabetes, an overactive thyroid, athlete’s foot, urinary tract infection, kidney disease, menopause, liver failure, and certain medications can cause body odor.

Before tackling a serious body odor issue, consult with your doctor to determine if there is an underlining serious medical condition causing the body odor problem. The cause may be obvious from a complete medical history and through medical examination. If the cause is not readily evident, further testing may be required, dependent on the suspected cause.

Age

As we age, body chemistry changes. While scientists have yet to pin down the underlying cause or mechanism, they believe our body bacteria changes, affecting natural odor.

Foods That Affects Body Odor

When research scientists attempt to conduct studies on body odor, they advise test subjects to avoid certain foods that can affect body odor and the outcome of their tests unreliable. If you experience excessive perspiration, diet may be to blame. Manufactured foods, lacking in fiber and loaded with sugar and refined flours, hydrogenated oils, and other highly processed foods, are big offenders. Fried foods are also big offenders. Oil contained in fried foods exhibit a tendency to become rancid quite quickly causing poor digestion and body odor.

Eliminating processed foods from the diet and changing to a diet rich in leafy greens, raw nuts, seeds and healthy oil will quickly reverse the problem.

Vegetables

As beneficial as, they are to our health, many plants such as cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, cabbage, garlic, also onions alter body odor because they contain sulfur compounds. To understand how powerful these pungent properties can be, rub a clove of crushed garlic on the bottom of your foot. In 15 to 20 minutes, you will taste garlic in your mouth. Not to worry! Don’t stop eating these nutrient-rich vegetables; just follow with a glass of milk to neutralize the sulfur scent.

Not released through sweat glands, the odor generated by eating asparagus is released through the urine. There is no reason to stop eating asparagus. This odor is short-lived and only present in urination, so others are unlikely to notice the distinctive smell.

Meat, Chicken, And Fish

One of the benefits of going meatless is its effect on body odor. Although there are no definitive medical research studies that prove the olfactory benefits of a meatless diet, several studies seem to indicate that body odor is less intense in men that avoided meat, fish, and poultry.

An Inherited Metabolic Disorder

If you have body and can’t understand why, it may be the result of the interaction of your genes, diet and body odor. Persons with an inherited metabolic disorder known as trimethylaminuria, manifest a “fishy” odor when they consume fish or other high protein foods. This is due to an inability to break down a food-derived compound (trimethylamine), which then accumulates in the body and is slowly released into the breath, sweat, and urine. Though the disorder is relatively rare, the authors of a 2007 paper in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences discover that a great many people with unexplained body odor tested positive for it.

Consuming too many sweets can also be a cause of body odor. Refined sugars promote yeast growth, thereby converting sugars to offensively odorous alcohol. The by-product of excess yeast production, stomach gas, presents a whole other spectrum of odor problems.

Alcohol And Spirits

Don’t think you can consume alcohol and no one will be the wiser. Alcohol is metabolized in the liver into acetic acid, which is released through the respiratory system as well as through the pores. When you over-indulge, it’s noticeable to up to 48 hours after consumption. Wine and vodka are the least detectable while scotch, whiskey, rum, and beer are the biggest body odor-causing alcoholic beverages.

Spices And Herbs

A diverse array of foods, herbs, and spices affect body odor. When a mother’s pre-natal diet regularly includes flavorings and foods such as mint, vanilla, garlic, curry, oregano, basil, thyme, cumin, fenugreek or other pungent ingredients, the odor of the newborn baby reflects these ingredients in the mother’s diet.

Mother Nature’s Secrets – Herbs For Healthy Hair

woman-509958_640By: Marlene Affeld ~

For centuries, thick, luxuriant hair has been symbolic of health, wealth, social status, and beauty. In today’s modern society, hair loss is considered one of the most common “tell tale” signs of premature aging. Many women, as well as men, suffer a loss of confidence and a reduction in self-esteem from a receding hairline, thinning of the hair, or baldness.

Regular use of harsh chemicals in treatments for hair straightening, coloring and curling, can lead to dry, damaged hair, breakage, and hair loss. However, there are many other contributing factors responsible for hair loss in humans. The American Academy of Dermatology notes that a nutritionally deficient diet, improper care of the hair, our genetic heritage, health issues such as anemia or alopecia, pregnancy, menopause, or the body’s response to certain medications or chemotherapy, can lead to hair loss.

It is important to have an appointment with your dermatologist to determine your own unique hair and scalp type and the underlying causes of your hair damage or hair loss.

While there is little we can do about genetics, we can take proper care of our hair, avoid damaging chemical treatments, and adopt a healthy diet and lifestyle to naturally care and protect the hair we’ve been given. Nutritionists suggest increasing protein intake, supplementing our diet with B-complex vitamins and adding more omega-3 fats to our diet to encourage healthy hair growth.

However, if you are still worried about a receding hairline or overall thinning of the hair and want to improve texture and thickness, as well as enhance the growth of your hair, there is good news! Medical research studies indicate that hair regrowth is possible and continued hair loss can be reversed. Mother Nature’s medicine chest offers a diverse array of herbs to help regrow strong and healthy hair the natural way.

Myrtle Oil

Myrtle essential oil is a balancer of scalp oil and proves useful when over-production of sebum clogs pores and follicles of the scalp. Myrtle oil is a natural and gentle antiseptic with restorative and regenerative properties helpful in hair growth.

Rose Seed Oil 

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Long known for its deeply hydrating properties, restorative to skin and scalp, rose seed oil helps enhance renewed hair growth and youthful follicle activity.

Panax Ginseng

A Chinese herb used in the treatment of a diverse array of medical conditions, Panax Ginseng, also known as Korean Red Ginseng (KRG), has proven efficacy in the treatment of hair loss. Look for organic tonics, shampoos and hair conditioners featuring this healing herb as a primary ingredient. If you suffer from Alopecia Areata (AA), talk to your healthcare provider. KRG has demonstrated value as a useful complimentary food or nutritional supplement in the treatment of AA.

Evening Primrose

Wide ranges of skin and scalp conditions are positively affected by essential fats, of which Evening Primrose is an optimum source. Ingestion and topical application of organic Evening Primrose oil has been the subject of multiple scientific research studies, which have shown outstanding results in its application to all kinds of skin conditions. When poor circulation is a contributory factor in thinning hair, Evening Primrose has demonstrated benefits in reducing inflammation and reversing hair loss.

Ylang Ylang Oil

With a pungent scent reminiscent of jasmine, Ylang Ylang essential oil helps moisturize and relieve tension of the scalp. Add this healing oil to your hair loss arsenal by adding a few drops to your shampoo or conditioner. Do not apply Ylang Ylang oil in its undiluted form. It is very potent and can cause irritation if applied directly to the skin. Always mix with carrier oil or add to other natural hair growth remedies. Ylang Ylang oil has been used for centuries to increase the thickness of the hair shaft and to grow thicker, abundant hair. The pungent oil helps balance scalp oil production, promotes darker hair and prevents split ends.

Burdock 

Burdock Root, also known as Arctium Lappa, is another plant-based remedy effective in the treatment of hair loss. Burdock stimulates blood circulation to the scalp and thereby improves blood flow to hair follicles. Burdock root is an ingredient in many natural hair products.

Lavender

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Don’t you just love the scent of lavender? Lavender exhibits balancing, healing, regenerative, and powerful antibacterial properties. Lavender soothes as well as heals scalp infections and irritations and has proven useful in the treatment of dandruff and an itchy, dry, and flaky scalp.

Tea Tree Oil 

Tea Tree oil, another popular plant-based essential oil, is known for its stellar fungus-fighting properties. Often used to treat dandruff, eczema, or fungal infections, Tea Tree oil, like many essential oils, is quite potent and can cause irritation if applied in an undiluted form. Mix with carrier oil, such as almond or olive oil, and apply as a scalp massage, or add a few drops to your normal shampoo and conditioner.

Gingko Biloba

Ginkgo Biloba works by helping to increase blood flow to the scalp and has proven effective in correcting nutritional deficiencies of hair follicles.

Rosemary And More

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Rosemary essential oil can be applied to the scalp in the same manner as suggested for lavender. Essential oils can be applied singularly or blended. Essential oils help cleanse the scalp to encourage hair follicle growth and are used as the active ingredients in many hair growth formulations.

Rosemary stimulates circulation to the scalp and helps with preventing pre-mature greying or loss of hair color. Rosemary also has proven useful in the treatment of dandruff and other scalp irritations.

Verbonone essential oil contains ketones specific to regeneration of follicles and dermis.

Equal amounts of verbonone, rosemary, lavender, thyme, cedarwood, Clary sage, and peppermint essential oils (approximately 10 drops each) combined with 2 tablespoons of organic almond, olive, jojoba, or olive oil provides a hair healing mask, useful in the repair of dry, damaged tresses.

Thyme presents a host of antibiotic, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties and is most effective when applied in synergistic formulation with other essential oils. Clary Sage aids scar reduction and scalp skin regeneration by helping balance estrogen levels in the scalp. (Children, pregnant, or nursing women should not use Clary Sage essential oil.)

Hair Growth Blends And Recipes

Choose one or more essential oils to add to your favorite carrier oil to create your own special blend. Grapeseed oil is an ideal choice as carrier oil for persons with an excessively oily scalp. It is one of the lightest weight oils and provides a significant amount of antioxidant polyphenols. Grapeseed and Jojoba oils, tested as a 50-50 mixture, have demonstrated benefits in the treatment of alopecia areata.

Massage your own unique formulation into the scalp at least once a week. If feasible, wrap your head with a scarf or shower cap and leave the mixture on the hair overnight. (The fragrance is somewhat strong. You may want to apply it on a night you sleep alone.) Using a gentle, non-chemical based product, shampoo hair, rinse well with cool water, dry and style.

With a bit of help from nature, you can make wise choices for treating hair loss and growing luxuriant, thick and healthy hair. The suggestions provided are for basic hair care formulations, designed for regular daily application or as often as you feel beneficial. The mixtures should be stored in an airtight glass container away from heat and sunlight.

Apply a teaspoon of the formula to wet or dry hair and massage well into the scalp. Allow mixture to remain in place for at least 20 minutes. Shampoo, condition, rinse, and style as usual.

  • Treating Hair Loss For Men – Blend 1oz each Evening Primrose, Coconut, Tea Tree oil, Orange, Rosehip Seed and Sesame oils. To this blend add 20 drops of carrot oil, 30 drops Rosemary Verbenone, 15-drops Helichrysum, 10-drops of Clove oil, 50-drops of German Chamomile, 50-drops Lavender, 20-drops of Cypress essential oil. Apply weekly as a mask or use a few drops daily as a hair conditioner and tonic.
  • Treating Alopecia Areata – In 6-ozs of a 50/50 carrier base of Jojoba and Grapeseed oils, add 30-drops each of Lavender, Myrtle, Thyme, Lavender, Cedarwood, and Rosemary essential oils.
  • For Thicker Hair – Blend 1-ounce Jojoba, 1-ounce Evening Primrose, 1-ounce hemp oil, and 1-ounce Rosehip Seed oil. Add 20-drops Lavender, 40-drops Rosemary/Verbenone, 10-drops of Sea Buckthorn oil, 10-drops thyme essential oil, and 20-drops Clary Sage essential oil.
  • For Regenerative, Vigorous Hair Growth – Blend equal parts coconut oil and Jojoba oil with 20-drops rosemary, 10-drops lavender and 20-drops Clary Sage.
  • For Dark & Thick Hair – In 4-ounces equal parts Jojoba, Coconut and Sesame, add 48-drops Lavender, 48-drops Rosemary Verbenone, and 48-drops Ylang Ylang essential oil.