A Natural Alternative to Antacids

June 8, 2011 by  
Filed under Health, Natural Medicine

If you find that you are swallowing antacids after a meal, or even before one as a preventive, then it is probably a good idea to look at what natural alternatives are available to you – particularly if your diet is not always as healthy as it could be.Two ingredients long associated with helping both digestion and stomach upsets are peppermint and ginger and they are both found in Viridian’s High Potency Digestive Aid.

Prevention is always preferable to undergoing a cure, and a course of these vegan (and Kosher) capsules could well be the answer. They provide a combination of enzymes, betaine hydrochloride, peppermint and ginger to help promote a healthy and well-balanced environment for digestion to take place with optimum efficiency.

Stomach Acid
If you are suffering with stomach and intestinal problems such as heartburn, indigestion, gas, and reflux then it is a common misconception that these symptoms are caused by overproduction of stomach acid. Doctors reinforce this belief when they routinely prescribe stomach acid blocking medications but usually without first monitoring the stomach’s acid producing function or suggesting simple dietary changes.

In fact the above symptoms can equally be caused by under as well as over production of stomach acid (hydrochloric acid, HCL) and the aim of a digestive aid is to restore balance to the system in either case.

Hydrochloric acid serves three important functions:

1. to break down proteins, preparing them for assimilation.
2. to act as a protective barrier, killing many potentially harmful micro-organisms in our food.
3. to act as a venting mechanism when we eat acid forming foods and start the process of neutralizing them in the body.

When buying supplements of every kind I always suggest you look at the ingredients and in particular at whether they have a high level of active ingredients and a minimum – preferably zero – fillers or chemical additives. Viridian is the leading brand of ethical vitamins, which in this case means that they have a commitment to pure ingredients, environmental awareness and charity donations. In fact they give 50% of available profit to charity and on the 2nd of June had reached £120,000, mainly going to children’s and environmental charities.

On the purity front it is why their products are in capsule and powder form as these require no extras to be added during encapsulation or bottling where tablets do need various additives to bind them into tablet form. Environmentally, too they practice what they preach so their products are in glass bottles, not plastic, all of which can be recycled.

If you want to reduce the acidity in your body, then in addition to a supplement such as digestive aid then it makes sense to tackle the problem at source and eliminate, or seriously reduce, these items in your diet:

1. Sugar
2. Salt
3. Dairy Products
4. Wheat
5. Night Shade vegetables such as tomato, aubergine, peppers, potatoes
6. Cranberries/any unripened fruit
7. Meat
8. Diet foods as they are also full of both sugar, salt and chemical enhancers and sweeteners.

Digestive Aid from Viridian is available in health stores, or bymailorder from Viridian Nutrition


Pine Pollen and Coffee to Reduce Prostate Cancer Risk?

May 30, 2011 by  
Filed under Health, Mens Health, Natural Medicine

As I mentioned last week, June sees the start of The Everyman Campaign to raise awareness and funds for research into prostate and testicular cancer. I thought these two ideas from Alex Malinsky, one of the leading experts in the field of raw food, would help men minimize their risk.

Chewing on a pine cone may not be that attractive, but don’t worry it comes in supplement form as well! Raw pine pollen is the richest seedbed of testosterone derived from plants; since it is the male sperm of pine trees, it fosters plush growth in all living creatures, from trees and plants, to animals, to humans. Some experts claim that pine pollen is an ingredient in certain pharmaceuticals designed to treat low testosterone levels in both men and women.

Low testosterone in either men or women may cause an increase in cholesterol levels, premature aging, tissue and bone loss, highs and lows in blood sugar levels, decreased levels of aerobic energy, weight gain, and sexual dysfunction. In men, low testosterone may increase their chances for developing prostate cancer due to the simultaneous increase in estradiol in the body.

The reasons for low testosterone in either sex are varied. For men, the largest contributing factors are nutritional intake and age. In their 30s and 40s, males typically experience andropause, a term coined in the late 1960s, meaning male menopause, or a decline in the synthesis of androgenic hormones, especially testosterone. Nutrition-related onset of lower testosterone levels in both men and women is typically due to an over consumption of foods with too much phyto-estrogen for the body.

Pine pollen can provide the opportunity for endocrine hormonal balance, i.e. the ratio of testosterone to estrogen, within humans, thus reversing the troubling effects associated with the imbalances that cause quality of life to decrease. This is done mainly through the phyto-androgens in pine pollen, including androstenedione, testosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), and androsterone. The conditions of diabetes, high cholesterol and fatigue have all been improved through the biological and nutritional mechanisms provided by routine consumption of pine pollen.

Pine pollen is easily absorbed by the body when taken in powder or tincture form. If the powder taste is not palatable, pine pollen can be mixed in drinks. The tincture form is considered more potent and uses organic grape alcohol as its liquid base. For more information on raw food and pine pollen visit Alex’s website at: www.RawGuru.com

Another cup of coffee?
Coffee is good for men, according to research released from the Harvard School of Public Health, and even better news is that it doesn’t matter whether it is regular or decaffeinated because regular consumption is now linked to having the least risk for prostate cancer.

For men this is the deadliest forms of the disease and this 12-year study of almost 48,000 male health professionals found that men who drank the most coffee, six cups or more daily, had a 60 percent lower risk of developing lethal prostate cancer — and 20 percent lower risk of developing any form of the disease, according to the study published in the online edition of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Not a big coffee drinker? Even lighter consumption — up to three cups daily — was associated with a 30 percent lower risk of lethal prostate cancer.

As too much caffeing is not good for the heart by switching to water (not chemical) decaffeinated coffee you get all of the benefit of the antioxidants, that reduce inflammation and regulate insulin.

If you want to know more about male cancer visit www.everyman-campaign.org

Medicinal Cookery

May 25, 2011 by  
Filed under Food & Nutrition, Health, Natural Medicine

Food as a healing tool is not new: “Let your food be your medicine” said Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, although many of the medical profession have chosen to forget it. If you would like to swap pills and potions for ingredients from your garden — or at least an organic supermarket — then the new book by Dale Pinnock is just right for you.

Apparently he is the U.K.’s only medicinal cook and the first to bring together three distinct strands; herbal medicine, nutrition and cookery to create a radical new way to help combat a wide range of common health problems. The idea is to literally eat yourself better and I have to admit the recipes look delicious and are not aimed at those who don’t much care what they eat as they have been designed to stimulate the palate and indulge your appetite for gourmet food.

Conditions that he addresses include digestion, heart and circulation, immune and nervous systems, joints and skin disorders. You don’t need a degree in biochemistry either as this book is accessible to all readers with simple, practical recipes with ingredients that are easily accessible to everyone. Indeed he is frequently seen on television and in magazines explaining his philosophy and showing how the compound in food work in a similar way to medicinal plants, and even the pharmaceutical drugs, but without the side-effects.

One of my favourites is the anti-rheumatoid risotto — and I do think he could have come up with a morecatchy name — that is both simple and absolutely delicious. This is no mean spirited cookery as you get to add a dash of wine to the risotto and are encouraged to have another one for working so hard in the kitchen! If this hot weather continues then you might also feeling signs to make some of the Omega ice lollies that are a wonderful combination of yoghurt, mixed berries, flax seed oil and honey and probably take about 30 seconds to make.

If you want to give your skin a boost seek out the red/orange vegetables for their high beta carotene level so get the darkest red peppers you can find and combine with sweet potato to make a tasty skin enhancing soup. If hayfever and allergies are bothering you then add red onions to your daily diet for their high level of quercetin to damp down allergic reactions.

In addition to the simple recipes he also gives the medicinal properties of the ingredients for each one which is not only informative but also extremely interesting. Medicinal Cookery would make a great addition to any kitchen and if you want to know more about the man himself then visit his website at www.dalepinnock.com or see him in action at http://www.youtube.com/user/DalePinnock?feature=mhum

Herbal Medicine – How the EU Ruling Affects You

May is not so merry this year if you, like me, are a fan of alternative medicine. Though calling herbal medicine alternative is a misnomer as it is has been used safely for hundreds of years and many common drugs are based on their active ingredients being synthesized, patented and made profitable. This move only helps drug companies and ignores thousands of years of medical knowledge.

This is despite the fact that recent studies show that at least six million Britons (26% of adults) have used a herbal medicine in the past two years and high level support from the Prince of Wales and Professor George Lewith, professor of health research at Southampton University, who said: ‘Evidence for the efficacy of herbal medicines is growing; they may offer cheap, safe and effective approaches for many common complaints.’

Unfortunately those views, and the thousands who signed the online petitions to the EU have been ignored and we have now lost access to hundreds of herbal medicines after European regulations came into force banning sales of all herbal remedies, except for a small number of popular products for ‘mild’ illness such as echinacea for colds and St John’s Wort for depression. The EU Directive erects high barriers to any herbal remedy that hasn’t been on the market for 30 years – though they are only concerned with commercial sales – not the hundreds of years of experiential use. That includes the most popular traditional systems like Chinese and Ayurvedic as well as the long-established English herbal tradition.

No more popping into your health store, or more recently Boots, to buy your herbal medicines but instead finding a practitioner – not all that numerous – and having to pay a consultation fee is going to deter many people. Both herbal remedy practitioners and long-established manufacturers like fear they could be forced out of business as a result.
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley approved a plan for the Health Professions Council to establish a register of practitioners supplying unlicensed herbal medicines, and in a written statement said the Government wanted to ensure continuing access to unlicensed herbal medicines via a statutory register for practitioners ‘to meet individual patient needs’. Well, not this patient and as this register is only open to those who could afford the licensing process which costs between £80,000 to £120,000 many individual practitioners are at risk of losing their business and livelihood.

At least 50 herbs, including horny goat weed (so-called natural Viagra), hawthorn berry, used for angina pain, and wild yam will no longer be stocked in health food shops, according to the British Herbal Medicine Association. Some familiar preparations may also disappear to be replaced by alternative licensed formulas, which may contain different ingredients – in some cases ‘unnatural’ ingredients such as artificial colourings.

Richard Woodfield, the head of herbal medicine policy at the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency claims that “the scheme means that consumers will have access to a wide choice of over-the-counter herbal medicines made to assured standards. The current signs are that the market will be lively and competitive. The key difference for consumers is that in future they will be in the driving seat and able to make an informed choice when they wish to use these medicines.”

Quite how you make an informed choice when your access to the proven remedies is limited is beyond me and presumably to the 750,000 people who also signed the petition against the ban. If the criteria is safety – as stated – then how safe is it to force people to buying online without the benefit of advice or from long-established companies with a proven track record?

There is an international trade in poor-quality, unregulated and unlicensed herbal products. Some of these have been found to contain banned pharmaceutical ingredients or heavy metals which are poisonous.

Licensing and registering is going to make money for the government and limit your choice to the few large commercial companies who can afford to do so. My advice is if you have a favourite herbal remedy you have been using for years then stock up quickly before it is no longer available or buy online only from a reputable company.

To find a herbalist in your area consult the National Institute of Medical Herbalists at www.nimh.org.uk or www.associationofmasterherbalists.co.uk

5 Simple Ingredients That Boost Your Energy Levels and Your pH

The human internal ecosystem is stabilized by several different buffering systems that keep the body functioning at a high level for as long as possible. One of these buffering systems is pH and our blood stream should be slightly alkaline at 7.365 pH at all times for the body to be healthy.

The body maintains good pH levels through getting rid of excess acid through the lungs, skin, saliva and urine. The most common problem with pH balancing is keeping up with the excess metabolic acids. These are produced from a lack of oxygen, poor diet, environmental toxins, cellular inflammation and metabolic waste products.

Maintaining good pH levels is vital for good health and one of the biggest challenges is maintaining that all day and night. We are constantly encountering different stressors that drain our alkaline reserves and leave us in an acidic state but there are a few simple dietary measures that can help and you will gain energy, mental clarity, and emotional stability.
1 Celery: it is full of water and makes an excellent acid neutralizer. You can eat it at any time, as a snack or with a meal. It contains a perfect electrolyte balance that quenches thirst and reenergizes and alkalizes your body.

2 Aloe Vera Juice: loaded with electrolytes and highly alkalizing it is loaded with trace minerals, anti-oxidants, and polysaccharides. Pure aloe juice or gel gives one of the quickest alkaline boosts and the perfect way to drink it is before or after a large meal. Apple cider vinegar is another great alkaline booster that can be used either with aloe vera or on its own.

3 Fennel Seeds: contain a concentrated form of minerals like calcium, potassium, manganese, magnesium, selenium, zinc, copper, and iron and Is rich in powerful anti-oxidants. Fennel seeds neutralize acids, aid in digestion, and are a good breath freshener. If you don’t want to chew on the seeds, then fennel tea makes a good substitute and is an ideal drink after a meal to a digestion.

4 Lemon Bicarbonate Formula: maintaining the ideal alkaline environment during the night can pose a problem, but this drink will help if taken just before going to bed. To make it squeeze a whole lemon in a glass and begin adding baking soda bit by bit. The acid/base combination will immediately begin to fizz but just keep adding baking soda until the fizz stops and then fill the glass with water (8-16 oz).

5 I promised you a refreshing lemonade drink and as well as containing some of the most powerful anti-oxidant rich herbs and alkalizing elements it can also be used by people who crave soft drinks and other sweetened drinks and are looking to retrain their palate .

Best made fresh in a large glass jug and kept in the fridge: ingredients are 4 -6 lemons,1 tsp each of ground turmeric and cinnamon, pinch of pink Himalayan salt, 1/2 tsp of liquid stevia (or to taste) and 1 tsp ground/fresh ginger (optional). Combine all the ingredients in the jug and top up with water to your personal taste.

St John’s Wort Could Have Benefit in Treatment of Recurrent Brain Tumours

Science is always fond of taking natural substances active ingredients and synthesizing them such as foxgloves into digitalis and white willow into aspirin. Now it is the turn of St. John’s wort which is more commonly known for its ability to treat depression because it contains hypericin, a compound naturally found in the plant.
Researchers have found that a synthetic version may be a promising treatment for patients with recurrent malignant brain tumors and they published their results online on March 31, 2011 in the journal Cancer.

Malignant gliomas, tumors that arise in the brain or spine, are largely incurable cancers with a poor prognosis and an average one-year survival. Gliomas are typically treated with a combination of surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Now, laboratory studies have shown that synthetic hypericin strongly inhibits the growth of gliomas, due in part to its inhibitory effect on protein kinase C, a family of enzymes that promotes tumor proliferation.

The study was done at the University of Utah School of Medicine, and I suppose I am curious as to why they used a synethesised version as opposed to the real thing. We know from aspirin use that isolating the individual component that deals with pain relief and synthesizing it means you do not get the full synergistic effect of the whole plant. In the case of aspirin you don’t get the protection of the other parts of white willow that buffer the active ingredient and protect against stomach problems – something that regularly occurs with aspirin use.

In this study, the researchers gave the patients gradually increasing dosages of synthetic hypericin and monitored them for adverse effects. Forty percent of the study participants were able to complete a three-month treatment regimen, demonstrating that hypericin is well-tolerated as an oral medication in this patient group. They found that 22 percent of all study participants achieved either stable disease or a partial response during treatment with hypericin. Of the 18 patients who completed at least 60 days of hypericin treatment, 50 percent achieved either stable disease or a partial response.

The patients enrolled in the study were all individuals whose tumors had recurred or progressed after extensive prior therapy and I wonder if they had been given whole St John’s Wort if those improvement figures would have increased. Of course you cannot patent a natural substance and so it is of little interest to pharmaceutical companies as there is not the same profit level to be made and that is only one of the reasons that natural substances are extracted and synthesized.

Walnuts – The Healthiest Nut for Your Heart

You may have avoided eating nuts for fear of putting on weight, but a new scientific study gives walnuts a strong recommendation as they have a combination of more healthful antioxidants and higher quality antioxidants than any other nut.

A handful of walnuts contains almost twice as much antioxidants as an equivalent amount of any other popular nut such as peanuts or almonds. Also, nuts in general have an unusual combination of nutritional benefits as they contain plenty of high-quality protein that can substitute for meat; vitamins and minerals; dietary fiber; and are dairy- and gluten-free.

Years of research by scientists worldwide link regular consumption of small amounts of nuts or peanut butter with decreased risk of heart disease, certain kinds of cancer, gallstones, Type 2 diabetes, and other health problems.

The researchers compared both the amount and quality of antioxidants found in nine different nuts: walnuts, almonds, peanuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, cashews, macadamias, and pecans.

Walnuts not only had the highest levels of antioxidants but also the highest potency, of antioxidants. They are 2-15 times as potent as vitamin E, renowned for its powerful antioxidant effects that protect the body against damaging natural chemicals involved in causing disease.

Another reason that walnuts are so healthy is that are eaten raw, unlike other nuts which are heated which generally reduces the quality of the antioxidants, so you get the full effectiveness of those antioxidants.

If it is the dietary aspect that has kept you from eating nuts, and they are it is true high in fat and calories, but nuts contain healthful polyunsaturated and monosaturated fats rather than artery-clogging saturated fat. As for the calories, eating nuts does not appear to cause weight gain and even makes people feel full and less likely to overeat. In a 2009 U. S. study, nut consumption was associated with a significantly lower risk of weight gain and obesity.

What’s the maximum healthy snack size to get your daily dose of antioxidants? Apparently it is seven, and think of the extra calories you will expend in cracking the shells!

Balancing Blooms to Help Your Moods Naturally

April 4, 2011 by  
Filed under Food & Nutrition, Health, Natural Medicine

If your traditional gift of flowers and chocolates didn’t hit the spot for Mothering Sunday, then I have a much better idea that lasts throughout the year – and works for everyone, not just mothers.

I have always been a fan of Bach flower essences and indeed am never without Rescue Remedy to help in times of stress or crisis – and indeed it comes out of my bag to help others more often than myself! Now they have been beautifully repackaged into some very interesting combinations which bring emotional balance for a range of conditions that you are likely to encounter.

Each Balancing Blooms™ consists of individual Bach flower essences combined to perfectly deal with whichever situation you find yourself in. So, do you need to Get Up & Go! ™, Cheer Up! ™, Calmdown! ™ or do you need Peace™, Confidence!™ or Sensuality? Are things heading up to a Crisis!™, or do you just need to Let Go?

In the 1930s herbalist Edward Bach perceived that each flower has its own unique mood and created his range of 38 single Bach flower essences. Each of Balancing Blooms offers between five and seven different flower essences which Bach believed captured different moods. For instance, “Cheer Up! contains Gentian (happy), Gorse (hopeful), Sweet Chestnut (courageous), Cherry Plum (strong and confident), Mustard (cheerful), White Chestnut (calm) and Wild Rose (joyful) which Bach would have believed ideal for overcoming winter blues or at times when you need a positive lift.

Flower essences are a very gentle, but effective, treatment for mood and each of the different blends is specific to a particular condition. However, what I really love is that you can also combine them. For instance if you are busy and under stress then Crisis blend will deal with the immediate issue and then later you could add in some Calmdown or Peace, whichever feels more appropriate for your situation.

The flower essences contained in Balancing Blooms® are prepared according to the original written instructions of Edward Bach in the 1930s and wild flowers are hand picked in the English and Welsh countryside. The essences come in a handy 20ml bottle which fit into a pocket or bag and simple enough to use. Either by placing four drops directly on the tongue from the enclosed pipette, or by mixing with water. I found that the Cheer Up blend added to a bottle of water in a triple dose and then sipped through the day definitely helped lift my mood and Get Up and Go has sustained me through a week of the stress and preparation for a major production for the Community Quire that I belong to – I can no longer do 14 hour days like I used to without some (natural) help!

Balancing Blooms® is available from major chemists and health food stores or direct from the website at www.balancingblooms.com

Maca for Menopause

March 14, 2011 by  
Filed under Health, Natural Medicine, Womens Health

Lucky women, usually vegetarians and the stress-free, find that they can sail through menopause but for many women there are unwanted and unwelcome side effects. Hot flashes for example are the bane of many women’s lives at this time and I wrote a whole report on how to alleviate them so a new product that can help is always welcome.

Maca comes from Peru and is an amazing superfood that was first used by the Inca more than 2000 years ago for energy and endurance. Cultivated for thousands of years at elevations over 14,000 feet, no other food plant on earth can survive the extreme weather conditions and intensive sunlight that this amazing super food grows in. The rich soil located at these high plateaus accounts for the high levels of trace minerals found in Maca and it is still in widespread use as a medicine and energy giving herb throughout Peru today.

Creative Nature’s Maca Root Powder, or Lepidum meyenii to give it its botanical name, is known as the Peruvian miracle herb and is actually a rare member of the radish family. Used by people as diverse as professional athletes and the elderly, among its health claims are that it helps people recover from depression, addictions, traumas, or disease as well as boosting energy.

Maca root increases energy, enhances stamina, mental clarity and athletic endurance and for women its potential balancing effect on the endocrine system alleviates menstrual symptoms and is also also high in calcium which is known to promote healthy bone formation. Maca contains substantial amounts of essential nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, Vitamin B1, B2, B12, C, E, Riboflavin, thiamine, ascorbic acid and essential fatty acids. It is also rich in sterols, alkaloids, tannins and saponins.

Whatever your menopausal, or non-menopausal, symptoms it would be worth giving Creative Nature’s Maca Root Powder a trial to see if it helps with hot flashes and palpitations as well as increasing energy levels. I would certainly be interested to hear what results you experience with it.

Try It For Less!
Creative Nature’s Maca root powder can be added to smoothies, soups, or taken in capsule form. If you have any trouble locating it then visit the website at www.creative-nature.co.uk/maca.html and they are offering Healthy News readers a 10% discount on any of the healthy products on their website – just type in the code HEALTHANDWELLNESS if you order.

Curing the winter blues

November 9, 2010 by  
Filed under Health, Natural Medicine

In the winter many people are affected by the lack of light and their mood can plummet. Added to this is the anxiety felt by many people as the Christmas season approaches with all the organisation and stress that sadly often accompanies it.

To keep on an even emotional, mental and physical keel our bodies need dopamine, an important neurotransmitter recognised as being vital for cognition, movement, motivation, sleep, mood, libido, attention and learning. Dopamine is the key neurotransmitter that allows the brain to flourish and develop, and maintaining adequate levels is central to relieving anxious, stressful states.
Being advised to stay calm may not always be enough and if you want to increase your natural dopamine levels to help lift your mood, then help is at hand. It’s probably not the first thing you think of but blue-green algae may be the answer.

Klamath is the name of a Native American tribe but in this instance also refers to the blue green algae which is Aphanizomenon flos-aquae. It is one of only two natural sources of phenylethylamine (PEA) which our nervous system naturally produces when we are calm, happy and focused. It also has the ability to raise the level of freely circulating dopamine within the brain and nervous system which helps keep us alert, active and motivated.

A new product, vitalCALM from Simply Vital, contains highest quality source of Klamath blue-green algae and is a concentrated source of PEA. It is an advanced nutritional supplement for the nervous system and provides support for conditions associated with altered dopamine functioning such as: ADHD, anxiety, depression, fatigue, fibromyalgia, insomnia, obesity and Restless Legs Syndrome.

VitalCALM has been developed to provide an all-natural boost to dopamine levels and might just be the answer to those winter blues and to ward off those feelings of the approaching Christmas crisis! If you would like more information go to www.simplyvital.com.

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