Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


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17 Food Combinations that Can Boost Your Health

Hard boiled egg + salad
Out of all the numerous topping options at the salad bar, pick up a hard boiled egg. The fat in the egg yolk helps your body best absorb carotenoids, disease-busting antioxidants found in veggies, according to 2015 research in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Count it as one more reason you should definitely eat the yolks.

Fries + veggies
You don’t want to have to choose between the steamed veggie or fries as a side. Why not get them both? Pairing a nutritious and less-nutritious food choice (officially called a ‘vice-virtue bundle’) can help you stick to your health goals, suggests research in the journal Management Science. One tip to balance the calories—keep your portion of fries/dessert/onion rings small or medium, suggest researchers. If you can order only one size and it’s jumbo, ask for half to be packed upie immediately in a to-go box—or portion out half the plate for a companion. The researchers found that people didn’t actually want to eat enormous piles of treats anyway.

Marinade + steak
Grilling is a quick and healthy way to get dinner on the table, no doubt. However, cooking meat at high temps (a la grilling) creates potentially cancer-causing compounds called heterocyclic amines (HCAs). The delicious solution: marinate your meat. Especially when you use certain herbs and spices in your marinade, including rosemary, it can reduce HCAs by up to 88 percent, according to a study from Kansas State University.

Olive oil + kale
Even though the buzz around heart-healthy fats like olive oil is good, you may still be trying to cut down on oil in an effort to save calories. But it’s time to start sauteeing your veggies again. ‘Vegetables have many fat-soluble vitamins, like A, D, E, and K, which means they need fat to be absorbed,’ explains culinary nutrition expert and healthy living blogger Jessica Fishman Levinson, MS, RDN, of Nutritioulicious. In addition to kale, make sure you cook carrots, sweet potatoes, and broccoli with a little fat too.

Almonds + yogurt
Vitamin D is credited with so many health benefits, including boosting your bones, mood, and immune function. Many yogurts supply one-quarter your daily need for D per cup. To make the most of it though, toss some slivered almonds on top before digging in—especially if you’re eating non- or low-fat yogurt. The fat in the nuts helps raise the levels of D found in your blood 32 percent more compared to having no fat at all, reveals research in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Sardines + spinach
The fatty fish is abundant in vitamin D, while spinach offers magnesium. In 2013 research, magnesium was shown to interact with the vitamin to boost levels of D in your body. Long-term, this may even help reduce risk of heart disease and colon cancer.

Turmeric + black pepper
You’ve no doubt heard the buzz around the anti-cancer properties of curcumin, the molecule in turmeric that gives the spice its yellow hue. Problem is, it can be difficult for your body to absorb and truly reap the benefits. Combining turmeric with black pepper—which isn’t hard to do in cooking—is a great way to up your body’s ability to use it by 2,000 percent, research shows.

Avocado + toast
If you’re participating in ‘Toast Tuesdays,’ you might have tried the much-obsessed over avocado toast. And it is delicious, FYI. The foods are a perfect match not just for their taste but because the fat from the avocado will slow the rate at which carbs are broken down, absorbed, and converted into sugar, points out Levinson. It’s simple: just spread avocado on whole grain toast and top with some sea salt and pepper (and even lemon juice or hot sauce) and you’re good to go. Add a fried egg for an extra protein boost.

avocado toast

Tomato sauce + spinach
Might as well pack more veggies into the sauce, right? Spinach contains iron, something you may need more of if you’re not eating meat (which is the most abundant source of the mineral). The catch? Iron is not easily absorbed from plant sources, so to tip the scales in your favor, you need to eat these plants with a source of vitamin C, according to Levinson. In this case, tomatoes provide the kick of vitamin C you need to best absorb your spinach. Try her recipe for tomato sauce with spinach, or opt for these other power duos: spinach salad with strawberries, beans and bell peppers, or tofu and broccoli.

Brown rice + lentils
If you’re vegetarian, you may have heard that you should eat certain foods together to ensure you’re getting a complete protein. It’s actually more important that you get a variety of plant proteins throughout the day rather than in one specific meal, says Levinson. Still, some combos are classics for a reason—together, they form a complete protein. Try a brown rice and lentil bowl, beans wrapped in corn tortillas, or nut butter slathered on whole grain bread.

Salmon + leafy greens
Greens to the rescue once more! Vitamin D and calcium are typically found together in dairy, and for good reason: Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, both of which are critical for bone health, points out Levinson. But if you don’t eat milk or yogurt, what do you do? Buy  salmon and eat it atop a bed of cooked greens of your choice (sauteeing them cooks them down, making it easier to eat a bigger serving).

Brown rice + garlic + onion
Here’s a reason to make a stir-fry tonight: Garlic and onion help increase the availability of iron and zinc in whole grains, according to Levinson. You can thank the sulfur-containing compounds within the stinky alliums (garlic and onion) for the mineral boost, say researchers.

Carbonation + water
Think we’re getting one by you? If you have trouble getting yourself to drink plain H20, hear us out about why bubbles and water make an ideal match. One German study found that people who made carbonated water at home (think SodaStream), drank more water than those who didn’t—and bonus!—consumed less fat during the day, too.

Red wine + black pepper
The spice does it again. Black pepper contains a compound called piperine, which may help improve the bioavailability of resveratrol (the disease-busting antioxidant in red wine) to tissues, suggests an animal study published in the journal Molecular Nutrition & Food Research. While it doesn’t seem like a natural pairing, simply drink a glass of vino with dinner, and keep the pepper mill handy. Bon appetit!

Green tea + lemon
When you give your cup a squirt of citrus, the vitamin C preserves green tea’s antioxidant catechins, helping them survive the harrowing journey through your digestive tract to where your body can absorb them—so you can reap the benefits from the brew—reveals Purdue University research.

Guacamole + salsa
Pass the chips, please. This is another perfect example of how the antioxidants in certain produce, like tomatoes, need a little fat in order to be absorbed. In fact, a study in the Journal of Nutrition found that eating avocado with salsa improved the absorption of lycopene and beta-carotene in the tomatoes by 4.4 and 2.6 times, respectively. It’s the perfect excuse to go for Mexican tonight.

Pistachios + raisins
When you think about it, trail mix makes lots of sense. Eating dried fruit and nuts together can help improve your metabolic health to help decrease your diabetes risk, suggests a review published in Nutrition Journal. Together, they supply fiber, vitamins, and minerals—and the fat from the nuts helps keep your blood sugar at an even keel. Try making your own custom trail mix instead of paying a premium for the pre-packaged kind.

 

Jessica Migala  2019-01-16
source: www.msn.com


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Oil Of Oregano Benefits: 11 Things To Know About Oregano Oil

Most of us would take just about anything if we thought it might keep us healthy during cold and flu season. It turns out that there’s some evidence to suggest that an herb you likely have in your kitchen might be able to help stave off sickness this winter.

Some natural health enthusiasts promote oregano oil as a means to fight cold and flus, keep your digestive tract healthy, and soothe problem skin. But is there any science behind the hype? Here are the 11 things you should know about oregano oil this winter.

Oregano Oil Facts

Yes, it’s from the herb: Oregano oil is, as the name implies, oil from the oregano herb that is extracted by steam distillation. Or at least from an oregano herb — there are more than 40 varieties of the plant. According to Alive, the oil from Oreganum vulgare is believed to hold the most therapeutic benefit.

Stuffed up? You may find some relief by adding a couple drops of oregano oil to a diffuser or vapourizer and inhaling for a few minutes. Drinking a few drops of oil in juice or water may also provide some relief from a sore throat.

It’s also used for GI problems: Because there’s some evidence that oil of oregano has anti-fungal or antiviral properties, it’s thought to be helpful for some gastrointestinal issues. One small study showed that treatment with oregano oil may be useful for parasite infections, but further study is needed.

It could have anti-fungal properties: Some studies have shown that in lab cultures, oregano oil puts up a strong fight against Candida albicans, the bacteria that causes the fungal infection candida. Other research found it may have a similar effect against the mold fungis Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus niger. However, similar studies haven’t yet been done in human subjects.

You can use it on your skin: It’s thought that oregano oil is helpful for skin conditions like cold sores, muscle aches, nail fungus, joint pain, and dandruff. Try diluting it with a carrier oil like jojoba, sweet almond, or grapeseed, at 10 to 12 drops oregano oil per ounce of carrier oil. However, don’t use oregano oil on broken or sensitive skin, as it can be irritating. There is some anecdotal evidence suggestions that it may be effective for treatment of psoriasis, an inflammatory skin condition, but no published research yet.

It’s a natural insect repellent: Oil of oregano contains many compounds, and one of them is carvacrol — a natural insect repellent. This compound is also found in plants like mint and thyme. Try putting a few drops of oil on outdoor furniture — test first on an inconspicuous area to make sure it doesn’t stain — or apply a dilution of it to unbroken skin when heading outdoors.

It may help in the fight against antibiotic resistance: Some people believe that we can stave off antibiotic resistance by turning to natural solutions like oregano oil more often. One lab test in 2001 found that oregano oil was effective in killing staphylococcus bacteria, and another published laboratory study out of the UK found that it showed effectiveness against 25 different bacteria.

It tastes terrible: Don’t expect that you’ll enjoy taking oregano oil, even if you love Greek food. It has a much more potent taste in oil form, so be prepared!

Be careful: Because oregano oil in its pure form is so strong, it should only be used when diluted; try a ratio of one part oregano oil to three parts carrier oil, such as olive oil. Undiluted oregano oil can be irritating to the skin and mucous membranes. It is also possible to purchase diluted oregano oil.

It’s meant for short-term use: In Alive, clinical herbalist Michelle Lynde recommends using oregano oil for acute conditions, by taking four to six drops at a time for seven to ten days.

It’s not for everyone: The therapeutic use of oregano oil should be avoided in infants and children, and pregnant or nursing women. It also should be avoided by people with high blood pressure or a heart condition. It’s always a good idea to talk to your preferred medical professional before starting a new wellness routine, and to disclose your use of alternative therapies in case of counter-indications with other medications or treatments.

 11/14/2013   Terri Coles   The Huffington Post Canada
 


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12 Fresh Foods You Should Never Store Together

Your cart is bursting with colorful fruits and veggies, but days later, it’s all wilted and sad. Use these smart storage rules to keep foods fresher longer.

Cucumbers stand alone
Many fruits, such as tomatoes, bananas, and melons, produce ethylene gas, a ripening agent that speeds up spoilage. Cucumbers are super sensitive to this ethylene gas, so they need their own place or they’ll spoil faster. They’re actually more suited to hanging out on the counter than in the crisper drawer with off-gassing fruits, but if you want cold cucumbers, you can store them for a few days in the fridge (away from fruits). If you need to use them up fast, try this refreshing cold cucumber soup.

Treat herbs like fresh flowers
If you’re trying to cut back on salt or just add more flavor to your food, fresh herbs fit the bill, but don’t just toss them in the fridge. “Store fresh herbs just as you would fresh cut flowers,” says Dana Tomlin, Fresh Manager at Wheatsville Food Co-op in Austin, Texas. First, make sure the leaves are completely dry. Next, snip off the ends and place the herbs, stem down in a cup or mason jar with water. Most herbs do well when stored this way in the fridge. Basil, however likes to hang out at room temperature. You’ll still want to place it in a jar with water though. When the water gets yucky, drain and add fresh water. Most herbs stored this way are good for up to two weeks. Start your own herb garden to save money and get super-fresh sprigs.

Squash and pumpkins don’t go with apples and pears
Squash and pumpkins are well known for having a long shelf life but apples, another fall favorite (along with pears and other ripening fruit) shouldn’t be stored with them. According to Oregon State University Extension Service, it will cause the squash to yellow and go bad. Squash and pumpkins keep well at temps between 50 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit, which is cooler than room temperature but not as chilly as the fridge. Larger pumpkins and larger squash will last up to six months, but keep an eye on the smaller ones, as they usually last about three months. See what nutritionists do with pumpkin puree.

Bag your root veggies
Root vegetables such as carrots, yams, kohlrabi, beets, and onions are some of the most nutrient-dense veggies we can eat, since they absorb nutrients from the soil. To retain those good nutrients, store root vegetables in a cool, dark, and humid place. A root cellar is ideal, but most of us don’t have one. The next best option, according to ohmyveggies.com, is to place the veggies in a paper or plastic bag in the crisper. If you just toss them in the fridge—even in the crisper, they’ll soften and rot a lot quicker.

Give your berries a bath
Berries are delightfully sweet and easy to eat. The problem is, they can get moldy quickly if not stored properly. The culprit is tiny mold spores that want to make the little nooks and crannies of the berry skin their home. Tomlin says the first rule is to avoid washing them until you’re ready to eat them because moisture equals mold. What if you just brought home a Costco-size carton of berries and won’t be able to eat them all right away? You can extend their life by a few days by taking a few minutes to give the berries a bath in a solution of one cup vinegar to three cups of water. Let them soak briefly; then gently rinse in a colander. The vinegar will hinder the mold growth. Since berries don’t do well sitting wet, make sure to dry them thoroughly—lay them out on a paper towel and gently blot (or put a few paper towels in your salad spinner and dry them that way. Store the berries loosely in a container that is ventilated, or leave the lid partially opened.

berries

Separate your apples and oranges
Sometimes, we can’t just all get along. That’s the case with apples and oranges—trusted fruit bowl staples in still life paintings but frenemies in fridge life. Fruits give off a gas called ethylene, the ripening agent that will lead to faster spoilage of the produce around it, says author and chef, Matthew Robinson of The Culinary Exchange. Store apples in the fridge if you want to extend their shelf life. Oranges stored in the fridge (away from apples) should be placed in a mesh bag so that air can circulate around them. Plastic bags will only make oranges moldy.

Break up your bananas
Banana hooks may show off bananas in their best light but the problem is, they will all ripen the same time, which means you’re either eating bananas for two days straight or tossing the rotting ones. Here’s a solution: Break up the bunch. Keep some in the fruit bowl on the counter to ripen and store others bananas in the fridge to delay the ripening process. If you missed your chance and you’ve got a glut of spotted bananas, use them in banana bread or toss them in the freezer to make banana “ice cream.” Bananas are good for your health—inside and out. Another idea: Try mashing them up to make a homemade face mask.

Don’t let onions and potatoes mingle
Fried potatoes and onions are a delish combo but don’t store them together before you cook them, as the onions will cause the potatoes to go bad. “It’s best to store items like potatoes and squash in an open-air wicker basket in a cool, dark place to preserve freshness,” says Tomlin. “You can store them in a paper bag, but just make sure they’re in a container where moisture or condensation can’t build up, which would make them soften and go bad faster.” A friendly neighbor for onions is garlic. They can be stored near each other without ripening or spoiling. Just store them in a well ventilated space, and keep the paper-like skin of the garlic intact until use.

Ripen avocados next to bananas
According to the 2017 survey conducted by Pollock Communications and the trade publication Today’s Dietitian avocado is number two on the list of the Top 10 Super Foods for 2017. Since avocados can be pricey, it’s important to store them correctly. “If your avocados are under-ripe, store them next to bananas. The gasses released from the bananas promote ripening,” says Tomlin. “If you need to extend the life of an avocado, store it in the refrigerator. It will slow the ripening process significantly.” For times you get a hankerin’ for a little sliced avocado on a sammie but can’t eat the whole thing, Tomlin suggests storing the cut avocado with the seed intact in an airtight container along with a sliver of a onion.

Tomatoes hate the fridge
Or is the fridge that hates tomatoes? A freshly picked garden tomato is undeniably delicious, but too much time in the fridge can make it mushy and bland-tasting. According to eatright.org, tomatoes can be stored in the fridge for two or three days but once you cut into it any unused tomato or any fruit and veggie should be placed back in the fridge to slow down the growth of harmful bacteria. But tomatoes kept at room temperature have more flavor. So, if you can, store them on the countertop. See the other foods you’re spoiling by putting them in the fridge.

Let carrots, celery, and, asparagus take a dip
Peanut butter on a crunchy stalk of celery is a snack that has stood the test of time (especially if you put raisins atop the peanut butter), but limp celery—not so much. Storing it in plastic is a no-no. The ethylene gas it produces has no where to go. Wrap the celery tightly in foil and after each use, re-wrap it snug. Or if you want grab-n-go celery, cut it up into sticks and submerge them in water in an airtight container. The same water bath works for cut-up carrot sticks and asparagus. Keep the rubber bands around the stems and cut off the fibrous ends. They are pretty tough and not tasty anyway. Place them in a tall drinking glass with enough water to cover an inch of asparagus. Find 30 more delicious snack ideas.

Let sweet corn chill—but not too much
The best way to enjoy this sweetheart of summer is to eat it fresh for maximum sweetness. If you must store it for a short time, you can place it in the fridge. “Keep ears cool in your refrigerator with the husks on to keep in moisture,” says Tomlin. Don’t wrap the corn in a plastic or paper bag. If possible, store them toward the front of fridge where it’s slightly warmer. “Corn will dry out and get starchy if it’s kept too cold because there’s not enough humidity to keep the kernel plumb,” says Tomlin. Keep the husks on for grilling corn on the cob.

BY LISA MARIE CONKLIN
source: www.rd.com


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How To Stop a Cold Before It Starts

Natural preventatives and some common sense will keep you from getting sick — or staying that way for long.

It’s a double-whammy: getting sick during the winter combines feeling crummy with many people’s less-than-favorite time of year. And if you do have to go outside when you have a cold, you’re probably going to be even more uncomfortable.

Getting sick at least once during the winter is, arguably, inevitable. With more and more of us crowded onto planes, buses, trains and offices, the likelihood of contracting a virus is high. But the suggestions below can help you shorten the length of a cold, avoid a repeat or avoid a worsening (a cold-related cough that turns into bronchitis, for example).

Sleep: If you need a concrete reason to turn off the tube or close the computer and get to bed (beyond that it’s “good for you”) then consider this: Dr. Diwakar Balachandran, director of the Sleep Center at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston told WebMD, “A lot of studies show our T-cells go down if we are sleep deprived, and inflammatory cytokines go up. … This could potentially lead to the greater risk of developing a cold or flu.” And naps count! If you can’t get all your zzz’s in at night, consider a midday snooze — even 20 minutes can make a difference.

Vitamin C: While some physicians say that vitamin C has a negligible effect on a cold’s duration, there are plenty of studies (and anecdotal evidence) that regular doses of ascorbic or calcium ascorbate can affect a cold’s strength, and may even prevent them by supporting the body’s immune response. Vitamin C is inexpensive, and it’s practically impossible to overdose on the stuff, so it’s not a big risk to work it into your winter routine. Chewable vitamins and drink mixes like Emergen-C make it easy to incorporate this into your meals or snacks.

Fruit

Echinacea and Goldenseal: The medical jury is still out on whether these two long-used immune-boosting herbs actually help control the duration and intensity of colds (there are studies that go both ways), but natural health practitioners swear by them. They are most effective when used at the first signs of illness, not once you are already sick. Check with your doctor if you are taking any medications (herbs can interact with some of them), but if kept on hand, a liquid tincture — the capsule forms of these herbs are thought by many to be less effective — taken when you have that “uh oh, I feel like I’m coming down with something” feeling might help keep your illness at bay, or be much milder.

Relaxation and stress reduction: Stress is known immune suppressant, so the more often you are stressed out, the less energy your body has to fight disease. Yoga, qigong, tai chi and meditation — or even a night in with the TV and computer off and just a good book and a cup of tea can help your body take the energy it needs to fight off disease.

Exercise: Also fairly well documented is the connection between a strong immune system and regular, heart-pumping exercise. Walking is great, but if you can, make part of your walk brisk. Participation in extreme sports and pushing yourself beyond your limits actually has an immune-damping effect, so the idea here is moderation.

Teetotaling: It’s boring but true: alcohol and other drugs decrease immunity. It’s no coincidence that it’s this time of year, when we are encouraged to indulge the most, that we tend to get sick. A great tactic is to say yes to a glass of wine or a cocktail — but sip it slowly and savor it. You’ll be good to drive, avoid illness and keep the pounds off, too. Or choose just one night to have “too many” drinks — like Christmas Eve or New Year’s, instead of drinking away Thanksgiving through Jan 1.

 by STARRE VARTAN     source: www.mnn.com    November 7, 2011


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8 Healing Benefits of the Herb Thyme

Not only is thyme a fragrant and versatile herb for cooking, it has a wide range of therapeutic uses thanks to the potent antiseptic compound, thymol, found in the plant’s leaves. Thyme is an effective and well-known remedy for coughs and sore throats, but more and more research is piling up about thyme’s anti-microbial, anti-cancer and other health benefits. Here are some of my favorite uses for thyme:

Eliminating Coughs, Respiratory Infections, Bronchitis and Whooping Cough: Thyme is officially recognized in Germany as a treatment for coughs, respiratory infections, bronchitis and whooping cough.Thyme contains flavonoids that relax muscles in the trachea linked to coughing and inflammation. To make a cough-eliminating tea: Add 2 teaspoons of crushed, fresh or dried thyme leaves to 1 cup of boiled water. Let steep for 10 to 15 minutes. Strain and drink.

Beating Fungal Diseases: As an increasing number of fungal conditions have become drug resistant research about thyme’s anti-fungal activity couldn’t have come at a better time. Thyme has been found to be effective against Aspergillus spores—a common type of mold that can cause the lung condition Aspergillosis in susceptible individuals. In one study researchers found that not only was thyme effective at inhibiting growth of fungi, it also increased the potency of the drug fluconazole to kill the disease-causing fungi. Another study in the journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that thyme is effective against drug-resistant strains of Candida fungi—the culprit behind yeast infections.

Soothing Back Spasms: According to world-renowned botanist James Duke, author of The Green Pharmacy, thyme’s natural essential oils effectively reduced his back spasms.

Thyme

Beating Headaches: Medical anthropologist John Heinerman, PhD, author of Heinerman’s Encyclopedia of Fruits, Vegetables and Herbs, recommends drinking thyme tea to treat headaches. He uses one teaspoon of dried thyme per cup of hot water. He also recommends soaking cloths in thyme tea to make a compress to ease aching muscles of the neck, back and shoulders to combat tension headaches.

Helping to Prevent or Treat Cancer: Research in the journal BMC Research Notes found that thyme in combination with Middle Eastern oregano was effective at inhibiting human leukemia cells, suggesting that the herb may hold potential in the natural treatment of cancer.

10 Ways to Use Thyme

Because thyme is so versatile, it can be used in most savory dishes. Use fresh sprigs or dried leaves of thyme in/with:

  • Bean dishes (Cassoulets)
  • Fish
  • Mushroom dishes
  • Pasta
  • Pizza
  • Poultry
  • Salad Dressings
  • Soups
  • Stews
  • Stuffing
 By: Michelle Schoffro Cook       October 14, 2016 
Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM is an international best-selling and 20-time published book author 
whose works include: Be Your Own Herbalist: Essential Herbs for Health, Beauty & Cooking
source: www.care2.com


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9 Health Benefits of Thyme

Thyme is more than just a tasty garden herb. This medicinal plant has been shown to help combat inflammation, acne, high blood pressure, and even certain types of cancer. Here’s how thyme can reduce your pain and benefit your health.

1. Antibacterial

Medicinal Chemistry published a study that found essential oil from common garden thyme (Thymus vulgaris) exhibited very strong activity against clinical bacterial strains of Staphylococcus, Enterococcus, Escherichia and Pseudomonas.

Thyme oil also worked against antibiotic resistant strains that were tested. This is especially promising news considering the current increase in antibiotic resistant bacteria.

The antibacterial action of thyme also makes it useful for oral care. Try mixing one drop of thyme oil in a cup of warm water and using it as a mouthwash.

2. Anti-inflammatory

Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) is an enzyme that plays a key role in the body’s inflammatory response. A Nara Women’s University study found that thyme essential oil reduced COX-2 levels by almost 75 percent.

Interestingly, when researchers isolated a pure extract of carvacrol, a compound in thyme oil, this extract reduced COX-2 levels by more than 80 percent.

Thyme’s anti-inflammatory action can also help with localized pain. You can mix a few drops of thyme oil into a basic massage oil and rub it into an area where you’re experiencing pain, such as muscle aches, headaches, or skin inflammation.

3. Supports Brain Health

In one study, rats given a thyme supplement had antioxidant levels in their brains that were equivalent to antioxidant levels of much younger mice. Also, the level of healthy fats, such as omega-3 fats, were significantly higher compared to mice that had not received the thyme supplement.

Studies have indicated that high levels of omega-3 will help protect cognitive function and mental health as we age.

4. Acne Treatment

A Leeds University study found that a thyme tincture was more effective in killing the bacterium that causes acne than common chemical-based creams, such as benzoyl peroxide.

The thyme tincture was made by steeping thyme leaves in alcohol. This extracts the vital compounds from the plant. Naturally Healthy Skin has a good recipe for a thyme acne gel you can make at home.

Health Benefits of Thyme

5. Anticancer

Thyme extracts are shown to cause cell death in both breast and colon cancer cells.

Two studies found that wild thyme (Thymus serphyllum) extract killed breast cancer cells, and mastic thyme (Thymus mastichina) extract was effective against colon cancer cells.

6. Reduces Respiratory Symptoms

A fluid extract of thyme and ivy leaves was shown to significantly reduce coughing and other symptoms of acute bronchitis compared to a placebo.

Drinking thyme tea may help when you have a sore throat or a cough. You can also try adding 2 drops of thyme oil to a container of hot water for steam inhalation.

7. Lowers Blood Pressure

In separate studies, extracts from wild thyme (Thymus serphyllum) and Himalayan thyme (Thymus linearis Benth.) were found to reduce blood pressure in rats. Both studies indicated that thyme extract may protect against hypertension.

8. Fungicide

A 2007 study looked at the effect of thyme essential oil as a disinfectant against household molds. They concluded that thyme oil is an effective fungicide against many different types of fungi and molds.

You can add a few drops of thyme oil to water or your favorite household cleanser to help clean up any fungal problems in your home.

Thyme can also kill fungi within your body. For instance, Candida albicans is the fungus that causes both vaginal and mouth yeast infections in humans. Italian researchers found that thyme essential oil greatly enhanced intracellular killing of Candida albicans.

9. Bug Repellant

Thymol, a compound in thyme, is an ingredient in many different pesticides. It’s been shown to effectively repel mosquitos, which can help prevent mosquito-borne disease.

To use as a repellant, mix 4 drops of thyme oil per teaspoon of olive oil and apply to your skin or clothing. You can also mix 5 drops for every 2 ounces of water and use as a spray.

How to Eat More Thyme

Many of these studies looked at thyme essential oil. Speak to your doctor, naturopath or herbalist before you start to consume thyme oil internally. Essential oils are potent compounds that should be taken under the advice of a professional.

Incorporating more fresh or dried thyme into your diet is a gentler way to get all the benefits from this wonderful herb.

By: Zoe Blarowski      June 22, 2016


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The Herb that Shows Promise against Heart Disease

By: Michelle Schoffro Cook    May 19, 2016    Follow Michelle at @mschoffrocook

Few people give their heart and vascular system much consideration until something goes wrong. But the circulatory system, which comprises the heart, lungs, arteries and veins, keeps hormones, nutrients, oxygen and other gases flowing throughout the body.

Essentially, it is the delivery system for the body, without which we could not live. However, with our modern high stress lifestyle with its stresses, fast food and insufficient activity, we can become prone to the leading cause of death—heart disease.

When we think of natural solutions for the condition, we probably think of a plant-based diet high in Omega 3 fatty acids and low in trans fats, saturated fats and Omega 6 fatty acids, not to mention exercise. And, we’d certainly be right in doing so since all of these lifestyle improvements can help prevent or reverse heart disease.

But exciting research published in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that adding the herb rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) to your diet can also help treat heart disease. The researchers found that compounds naturally found in rosemary have significant anti-inflammatory effects, which is an underlying factor in the condition.

Rosemary

A growing body of research links heart disease to low-grade inflammation throughout the blood vessels. Our dietary choices of trans fats and other harmful fats, excessive sugar consumption and other inflammation-causing substances can inflame the blood vessels. I tend to think of the inflammation underlying heart disease as scouring the inner walls of the blood vessels, which then need repair with substances like cholesterol, which is the body’s natural substance for arterial repair.

While rosemary has been traditionally used throughout history in the treatment of headaches, memory and epilepsy, the research shows that it also holds promise as a natural medicine for the treatment of heart disease.  The study concluded that rosemary has the potential to be developed into a natural heart disease medication or functional food.

How to Use Rosemary

The easiest way to benefit from rosemary’s circulation-boosting and anti-inflammatory properties is to add it to your food. It is a flavorful addition to soups, stews, vegetable or poultry dishes. I add rosemary along with vegetables like onions, carrots, celery and other vegetable scraps and water to make a delicious stock that can be used to make soups, gravy, sauces or to cook rice, quinoa, or other grain. Rosemary is also a welcome addition to tomato sauces or other tomato-based dishes.

How to Make Rosemary Tea

Add two teaspoons of dried, organic rosemary needles or a 4-inch sprig of fresh rosemary to boiled water and let steep for at least 10 minutes. Strain and drink to reap the health and healing rewards of rosemary.

Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM is an international best-selling and 19-time published book author whose works include: Be Your Own Herbalist: Essential Herbs for Health, Beauty, and Cooking (New World Library, 2016).


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Top 20 Anti-Inflammatory Herbs and Spices

Posted by livenedu on 06.10.13

Before getting to know what the top anti-inflammatory herbs are, it’s important to understand first what inflammation exactly is. Inflammation is a sign of the body’s attempt to protect itself from possibly harmful stimuli such as pathogens, fungi or viruses. For example, bacteria on a wound can result in redness and swelling, and this means that the body is working to fight the infection, and start the process of healing.

Other possible causes of inflammation include: external injuries such as cuts, scrapes, or foreign objects entering the body (e.g. wood splinter in your finger), trauma, burn, chemical irritants, radiation, and certain diseases or medical conditions like bronchitis, dermatitis, and otitis media for example.

There are two types of inflammation: acute and chronic. Acute inflammation is an immediate and temporary response of the body that lasts for a few hours to several days. If the underlying cause isn’t resolved, inflammation may turn into a chronic and longer phase. Redness, swelling, pain, and heat are the common signs. There may also be loss of function when the affected area of the body can no longer move or function.

Inflammation may or may not be helpful. In some cases, the immune system ends up fighting its own cells like rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and ulcerative colitis, among many others. Whatever it is that’s causing inflammation, it’s best to get to the bottom of it to resolve the issue.

One thing that you’ll find helpful in fighting inflammation is the use of anti-inflammatory herbs. You’d think that herbs are merely cooking add-ons that can spice up and bring out the flavor in dishes. That’s not all. Some can also work to help resolve health problems like inflammation and infection. Below, you’ll find the top 20 herbs that have become popular in this purpose.

ANTI-INFLAMMATORY HERB # 1 – TURMERIC

A popular spice used in Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine, turmeric contains a potent substance called curcumin, which is effective in curbing swelling and alleviating symptoms common in osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Scientific Research: According to experts, the anti-inflammatory powers of turmeric can be compared with those of well-known medications like Motrin and hydrocortisone but without the side effects. In one study from the Oregon State University Linus Pauling Institute, it was found that patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis who used turmeric supplementation for two weeks experienced vast improvement in morning stiffness and joint swelling.

Another study revealed that the pain in post-operative patients was significantly reduced after taking turmeric supplements. Because of these findings, turmeric has been used for various inflammatory disorders including tendonitis, arthritis, and auto immune conditions.

Warnings: Turmeric should not be used by pregnant women and people who have gallstones or problems with their bile duct without first consulting their medical practitioner. Very rarely, long-term use of turmeric can cause stomach upset or heartburn.

ANTI-INFLAMMATORY HERB # 2 – GINGER

Another widely used herb in Asia known for its strong flavor and aroma, ginger is used in a myriad of dishes, and also in tea. It has long been used in India for its anti-inflammatory qualities of relieving pain and inflammation. It’s also a remedy for cold, flu, headaches, and menstrual cramps.

Scientific Research: A study performed at the Odense University in Denmark in 1992 showed that 75 percent of participants enjoyed relief in pain and other inflammatory symptoms after taking ginger supplements. A similar study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food in 2005 found that ginger has pharmacological properties that inhibit genes that trigger the inflammatory response.

Warning: Side effects from using this herb are rarely reported but in high dosage, ginger can cause diarrhea, irritate the mouth, and trigger a mild heartburn.

ANTI-INFLAMMATORY HERB # 3 – LICORICE

When people hear about licorice, the first thing on their minds is candy. This herb, which can also be used for adding flavor to any food and drinks like meat, vegetables, pastries, and tea, is another effective fighter against inflammation having a high amount of flavonoids. It’s not only anti-inflammatory, it’s also anti-depressant, anti-fungal, and anti-ulcer. It can also be used to treat viral infections, liver ailments, asthma, arthritis, and dental problems.

Scientific Research: A 2008 study published in the Pharmacological Research supports the anti-inflammatory properties of licorice that were seen to treat acute inflammation in the participants. According to this research, the herb prevents inflammation by activating the NF-kappa B and STAT-3 pathways.

Warning: Excessive consumption of this herb can cause difficulty in breathing, palpitation, and certain cardiovascular problems.

ANTI-INFLAMMATORY HERB # 4 – BASIL

Basil is a fragrant herb that’s commonly sprinkled on salads or added to pasta sauces. The rich aroma and flavor aren’t the only things to love about this herb. It’s been found that basil can inhibit the same enzyme blocked by other anti-inflammatory medications like Tylenol and Ibuprofen.

Scientific Research: Several recent studies have shown the potential of basil as an anti-inflammatory herb. One example is a study published in the Journal of Microbiology Methods in 2003 that revealed that basil can effectively stop certain forms of bacteria that can cause inflammation.

Warning: Basil is usually safe when consumed in foods. But an overdose can pose some risks, as it contains estragole, a chemical said to increase the risk of liver cancer.

ANTI-INFLAMMATORY HERB # 5 – BOSWELLIA

Boswellia, an herb that comes from the boswellia tree, is a common remedy for joint pain in Ayurvedic medicine.

Scientific research: A 2005 study reported in DNA and Cell Biology supported the effectiveness of this herb in treating chronic inflammation. This works because the herb is able to destroy a type of cytokine that’s involved in chronic inflammation. Another 2005 study showed that boswellia has the ability to reduce cells that trigger inflammation.

Warning: Rare side effects of taking this herb include stomach pain, diarrhea, skin rash, stomach discomfort and acid reflux.

ANTI-INFLAMMATORY HERB # 6 – ROSEMARY

Cultivated in different parts of the world, rosemary has become a household name when it comes to perfecting culinary dishes. Apart from being a flavor enhancer, it also has powerful tonic and diaphoretic effects. And because of having a high content of flavonoids, it’s also efficient as an anti-inflammatory.

Scientific Research: Two separate studies illustrate that the use of rosemary extracts can protect cellular membranes from inflammatory actions.

Warning: Too much of this herb can interfere with the absorption of iron. Although it doesn’t directly cause iron-deficiency anemia, it can worsen pre-existing conditions. This herb is not recommended for pregnant and lactating women.

ANTI-INFLAMMATORY HERB # 7 – GARLIC

A kitchen staple that your trip to the supermarket won’t be complete without, garlic is yet another potent anti-inflammatory herb that can treat various ailments including sinus infection, common cold, and hypertension, among others. Garlic works in a way similar to penicillin. It fights inflammation by altering the inflammation-causing cytokines.

Scientific research: A study on garlic extract presented at the 2012 American Heart Association (AHA)’s Scientific Session conference showed that there was a significant decrease in inflammation among the participants who took garlic supplements.

Warning: Although it’s generally safe, garlic can possibly cause heartburn, gas, nausea, bad breath, and diarrhea.

ANTI-INFLAMMATORY HERB # 8 – CAYENNE

Cayenne packs a whopping punch with its spicy flavor. This herb, which is rich in calcium, potassium, B complex and vitamin C, can aid in the treatment of various inflammatory disorders such as arthritis. The active ingredient in cayenne is called capsaicin. It decreases inflammation by inhibiting Substance P, a neuropeptide that’s involved in the body’s inflammatory response.

Scientific research: Studies reported by the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center show that cayenne has anti-inflammatory activities that can help in the treatment of certain forms of cancer including leukemia.

Warning: As it may interfere with certain medications, it’s a must to consult your doctor first before using any cayenne supplement.

cinnamon

ANTI-INFLAMMATORY HERB # 9 – CINNAMON

Who doesn’t love cinnamon? Added in coffee, cakes, brownies and pastries, cinnamon does more than enhance flavor and aroma. It also works wonders for the health. One is by reducing the body’s inflammatory responses.

Scientific research: Laboratory studies on animals show that cinnamon is indeed effective in fighting bacteria and reducing inflammation.

Warning: Usually, this herb doesn’t have any side effects. But in rare cases, it can cause mouth irritation. Taken in extremely large doses, it can cause liver ailments. People taking antibiotics, blood thinners, heart medications, and drugs for diabetes are not advised to take cinnamon supplements.

ANTI-INFLAMMATORY HERB # 10 – PARSLEY

Parsley is packed with vital nutrients like vitamin A, B complex, vitamin C and vitamin K. Apart from effectively treating digestive disorders and kidney ailments, this herb can also treat inflammatory problems, and prevent inflammation with its roster of immune system-boosting nutrients.

Scientific Research: According to the findings of a study published in Phytotherapy Research in 2008, both parsley and asparagus can effectively tone down inflammation. This is due to their ability to destroy free radicals that bring inflammation as well as cellular damage.

Prior to this study, in 2002, a study published in the Journal of Natural Remedies illustrated that the active components in this herb, namely the tannis, triterpenes, and flavonoids had substantial anti-inflammatory effects in animals.

Warning: Over consumption of parsley can cause headaches, kidney damage, and convulsions. Juice, seeds, and oils made from this herb should not be consumed by pregnant women as they’ve been associated with contractions of the uterus and miscarriage.

ANTI-INFLAMMATORY HERB # 11 – GUGGUL

The powers of this herb can be compared to that of NSAID drugs like ibuprofen. Guggul has long been used as a detoxifying ingredient in Ayurvedic medicine.

Scientific Research: A clinical study involving 30 patients suffering from knee osteoarthritis showed that guggul supplementation resulted in improvement of the condition after a two-month period.

Warning: Because of its blood-thinning properties, this herb must not be used with other platelet aggregation-reducing medications.

ANTI-INFLAMMATORY HERB # 12 – NEEM

In India, neem is famous as the “divine tree” and it’s not a surprise why. Neem leaf and seed extracts are known for their antibacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal and of course, anti-inflammatory properties.

Scientific Research: The use of neem for fighting inflammation has been illustrated in various studies. In one study, neem leaves were proven to block the prostaglandin mechanism, which causes pain. It also showed that this herb can alleviate inflammation among patients with acute paw edema.

Warning: Neem is generally safe but extremely large doses can pose risks to kidneys and liver. Neem bark and oil are not safe for consumption for pregnant women.

ANTI-INFLAMMATORY HERB # 13 – ALOE VERA

Aloe vera is the go-to herb for treating skin burns and wounds. Now, we get to know more about its anti-inflammatory properties that also work inside the body. That’s because it has a cooling effect on the digestive tract, making it helpful for people with peptic ulcers and other inflammatory disorders.

Scientific Research: In one of the many studies done on aloe vera, one showed that its anti-inflammatory effects are even more powerful than a one-percent hydrocortisone cream. According to the researchers, aloe vera gel can effectively treat inflammatory skin conditions like the ultraviolet induced erythema.

Warning: Since aloe vera is a potent laxative, it should be taken with caution. Consult your doctor first before taking an aloe vera supplement especially if you’re expecting.

ANTI-INFLAMMATORY HERB # 14 – SAW PALMETTO

Derived from the saw palmetto fan palm, a plant native to the southern part of the United States, this one is an amazing herb that can treat a wide array of health conditions including urinary tract inflammation and testicular inflammation. It does many other things too like stimulate the appetite, boost the metabolism, aid in digestion, and empower the thyroid gland.

Scientific research: Numerous clinical studies have been done on saw palmetto since the 1960s. In a review of 24 of these trials, as published in the Journal of American Medical Association in 1998, it showed that among the 3,000 men who took saw palmetto and placebo, those who ingested the actual herb experienced almost 30 percent improvement in symptoms of urinary tract inflammation.

Warning: Possible side effects of saw palmetto include dizziness, nausea, headaches, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, lower libido, gas, and loss of appetite.

ANTI-INFLAMMATORY HERB # 15 – ASHWAGANDHA

Ashwagandha, an herb that’s commonly grown and used in Pakistan, India, Africa, and Spain, has a long list of medicinal uses—anti-stress, aphrodisiac, immune function booster, and many others. But let’s focus on its anti-inflammatory activity.

Scientific Research: Among the many bodies of research done on this herb, one study demonstrated that its anti-inflammatory properties were at par with a hydrocortisone cream with 5 mg/kg dosage. Another study showed that among five plants evaluated for fighting inflammation, findings pointed to Ashwagandha as the one with the highest capability.

Warning: Use of this herb may possibly bring some side effects like nausea, drowsiness, flatulence, irritation of the gastrointestinal system, diarrhea, vomiting, and lowering of the blood sugar level, particularly for diabetics.

ANTI-INFLAMMATORY HERB # 16 – ARNICA

Most herbs can be taken orally. But arnica is different. This perennial herb that can be found in Canada, northern United States, eastern Asia, and in some parts of Europe can only be applied topically. It’s widely used for alleviating inflammation, treating bruises, and sprains, and many others.

Scientific Research: Although no concrete evidence has been found to support this herb’s true efficacy in fighting inflammation, several laboratory studies show that arnica has the ability to inhibit the activity of some types of immune system cells, and this can be helpful for people with inflammation problems.

Warning: Internal use is not recommended as this may cause diarrhea, vomiting, internal bleeding, muscle weakness, rapid heart rate, nosebleeds, and even comatose.

ANTI-INFLAMMATORY HERB # 17 – GOTU KOLA

Used in India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, South Africa and Madagascar, Gotu Kola is known for its wound healing properties and for treating an array of ailments including varicose ulcers, lupus and eczema. This slender plant with fan shaped leaves is also said to aid in meditation, helping a person develop an energy center at the top of the head.

Scientific Research: Some studies released since 1995 showed that this herb can destroy cultured tumor cells inside the laboratory. Findings point out that Gotu Kola is capable of treating inflammatory diseases of the skin.

Warning: Too much use of this herb can cause some side effects like nausea, stomach upset, drowsiness, and itching.

ANTI-INFLAMMATORY HERB # 18 – SLIPPERY ELM

For many years, slippery elm has been used in North America for healing boils, burns, wounds, and skin inflammation. Taken orally, it was found to relieve common health complaints like upset stomach, cough, sore throat and diarrhea.

Scientific Research: One of the latest studies done on this herb was by a British group, published in 2002 in the Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics. It probed the ability of this herb to reduce inflammation of the intestine, particularly for diseases like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. A similar study, this time by a Korean team of researchers, published in Phytotherapy, echoed these findings.

Warning: There is no known danger linked to the use of this herb. But some experts say it can obstruct bowel movement, and should therefore be taken with caution.

ANTI-INFLAMMATORY HERB # 19 – NUTMEG

Native to India, nutmeg has been utilized for its medicinal properties since the 16th century. Among its long list of health benefits is its ability to destroy pathogens that cause diseases. Dr. Joseph Pizzorno and Dr. Michael Murray, authors of The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods explain that nutmeg can effectively block more than 25 bacteria species. Nutmeg oil is used as topical ointment for soothing painful muscles and joints.

Scientific Research: In 2009, a team of researchers from the University of Mississippi found that nutmeg can substantially relieve pain in mice by sedating the nervous system.

Warning: Caution should be taken when using nutmeg supplements. Overdose can cause delirium, hallucination, and other mental problems.

ANTI-INFLAMMATORY HERB # 20 – BLACK PEPPER

Last but not the least, we have the black pepper. There’s more to this spice than just being salt’s flavoring partner. As the most common culinary spice in the world, it’s one thing that can’t go missing in anyone’s kitchen. It has also been recognized for its anti-inflammatory activities.

Scientific Research: A recent research study investigated how the compounds in black pepper can inhibit the body’s inflammatory response. These compounds include NF-kappaB, COX-1 and -2 enzymes.

Warning: Black pepper is generally safe. But it’s not advisable to apply it on the skin or allow it to get into the eyes, as it causes redness and burning sensation.

All these herbs are backed by scientific research to be effective in curbing the annoying problems of inflammation. But as there are some possible side effects, it’s a must to consult a health practitioner first before using any of these.

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0009852/

http://studiobotanica.com/15-top-anti-inflammatory-herbs-spices/

 


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Echinacea

Other Names: American Cone Flower, Black Sampson, Black Susans, Brauneria Angustifolia, Brauneria Pallida, Comb Flower, Coneflower, Echinacea Angustifolia, Echinacea Pallida, Echinacea Purpurea, Echinaceawurzel, Échinacée, Échinacée Angustifolia, Échinacée Pallida, Échinacée Pourpre, Échinacée Purpurea, Equinácea, Fleur à Hérisson, Hedgehog, Igelkopfwurzel, Indian Head, Kansas Snakeroot, Narrow-Leaved Purple Cone Flower, Pale Coneflower, Purple Cone Flower, Purpursonnenhutkraut, Purpursonnenhutwurzel, Racine d’echininacea, Red Sunflower, Rock-Up-Hat, Roter Sonnenhut, Rudbeckie Pourpre, Schmallblaettrige Kegelblumenwurzel, Schmallblaettriger Sonnenhut, Scurvy Root, Snakeroot, Sonnenhutwurzel.

Echinacea is an herb. Several species of the echinacea plant are used to make medicine from its leaves, flower, and root.

Echinacea is widely used to fight infections, especially the common cold and other upper respiratory infections. Some people take echinacea at the first sign of a cold, hoping they will be able to keep the cold from developing. Other people take echinacea after cold symptoms have started, hoping they can make symptoms less severe. The people who use echinacea to treat symptoms have the right idea. Research to date shows that echinacea probably modestly reduces cold symptoms, but it’s not clear whether it helps prevent colds from developing.

Echinacea is also used against many other infections including the flu, urinary tract infections, vaginal yeast infections, genital herpes, bloodstream infections (septicemia), gum disease, tonsillitis, streptococcus infections, syphilis, typhoid, malaria, and diphtheria.

Other uses not related to infection include chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), rheumatism, migraines, acid indigestion, pain, dizziness, rattlesnake bites, and attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

echinacea

Sometimes people apply echinacea to their skin to treat boils, abscesses, skin wounds, ulcers, burns, eczema, psoriasis, UV radiation skin damage, herpes simplex, bee stings, and hemorrhoids.

Echinacea species are native to North America and were used as traditional herbal remedies by the Great Plains Indian tribes. Later, settlers followed the Indians’ example and began using echinacea for medicinal purposes as well. For a time, echinacea enjoyed official status as a result of being listed in the US National Formulary from 1916-1950. However, use of echinacea fell out of favor in the United States with the discovery of antibiotics and due to the lack of scientific evidence supporting its use. But now, people are becoming interested in echinacea again because some antibiotics don’t work as well as they used to against certain bacteria.

Commercially available echinacea products come in many forms including tablets, juice, and tea.

There are concerns about the quality of some echinacea products on the market. Echinacea products are frequently mislabeled, and some may not even contain echinacea, despite label claims. Don’t be fooled by the term “standardized.” It doesn’t necessarily indicate accurate labeling. Also, some echinacea products have been contaminated with selenium, arsenic, and lead.

Studies on the effectiveness of echinacea at preventing or shortening colds are mixed. Some studies show no benefit. Others show a significant reduction in the severity and duration of cold symptoms when taken in the early stages of a cold. One reason study results have been inconclusive may be that the type of echinacea plant and preparation used from one study to the next have varied considerably. Research on the role of echinacea in treating the common cold is ongoing. In the meantime, if your immune system is healthy and you aren’t taking prescription medications, using echinacea supplements is unlikely to cause harm.

sources:  Mayo Clinic  Web MD


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Herbs For Insomnia

While most people experience lack of restful sleep from time to time, insomnia is defined as a frequent or chronic inability to fall asleep at night. Of all problems concerning sleep or lack thereof, insomnia is the most prominent and also the least-researched.
If you suffer from chronic sleeplessness, you’d also know how it is to experience daytime fatigue, mood swings and headaches. Often caused by an imbalance of neurotransmitter chemicals like serotonin which regulates our moods and emotions, insomnia is a global concern estimated to affect over 30% people at some point in their lives.
While conventional treatments such as prescription or over-the-counter sleeping pills are commonly used by people who suffer from insomnia, other treatments exist which may be preferable for those with qualms about using chemical and synthetic drugs. According to scientific research, insomnia has been effectively treated by herbal formulas, [1] some of which are described as follows:
Top 10 Herbs For Insomnia
Lavender (Lavandula augustifolia)
Indigenous to mountainous regions of the Mediterranean, lavender has a history of use in folk medicinw. Used by traditional healers as a cure for sleeplessness, lavender has been the subject of clinical research in recent years for its potential to treat sleep disorders. [2] According to conclusions made by the Associated Sleep Society, lavender oil may be an effective means of relieving mild insomnia, especially in women and young people. Results from a single blind, randomized study (published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine in 2005) indicate that lavender oil might treat insomnia when used as an aromatherapy treatment. [3] Outcomes were measured by the Pittsburg Sleep Quality index (PSQI) and evaluated for treatment credibility by the Borkovec and Nau (B&N) Questionnaire. Attitudes and beliefs about complimentary and alternative medicine were also taken into consideration. Judging from data collected from the trials and questionnaires, researchers determined that lavender was beneficial in cases of mild insomnia when compared to the placebo/control. [3]
St. John’s Wort (Hypericum prolificum)
Native to Europe, St. John’s wort was used by folk healers and herbalists to treat wounds, relieve pain, and induce sleep. The first medicinal use of the plant dates back to ancient Greece, where it was considered to be a treatment for various disorders associated with nervousness. [4] Despite the importance of St. John’s wort as a traditional healing herb, research into its potential benefits has yet to result in conclusive evidence. Results from clinical trials indicate that St. John’s wort might help to balance REM sleep patterns. [1] St. John’s wort has been studied regarding its potential to be used for hypnosis, but data is lacking and reports are inconclusive.
 
Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)
A powerful sedative herb, valerian has a history of use as a medicinal plant among various cultures. Originally used by folk healers to hypnotize patients and induce sleep, valerian has been the subject of scientific studies in research years regarding its potential to treat insomnia. The effects of valerian on the brain are yet to be fully understood in terms of modern science, but contemporary research suggests that it increases concentrations of gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the human brain, thereby decreasing anxiety levels–an effect similar to that of pharmaceutical drugs such as alprazolam (Xanax] and diazopan (Valium). [5] Results from in vivo trials suggest that valerian can be used as an effective natural alternative to sedative drugs of the benzodiazepine class. [1] When compared to prescription drugs, valerian is considered to be safer and reportedly produces fewer side effects. [5]
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)
Lemon balm is a plant of the mint family and popular home remedy still used today. Indigenous to Europe, lemon balm was first documented for its medicinal value during the middle ages. [6] The most notable medicinal uses of lemon balm include stress reduction, and relief from anxiety, muscle spasms, nausea, vomiting, indigestion, pain, and general discomfort. [7] Lemon balm is also considered a remedy for cold sores and other inflammatory conditions such as those caused by insect bites, and has been reported to improve the appetite and promote restful sleep sleep. [6] Most claims about the medicinal value of lemon balm are related to its classification as a calming herb. Results from clinical trials suggest that lemon balm is most effective as a remedy for insomnia when used in combination with valerian, chamomile, hops, and/or other calming herbs. According to a recent study in which sufferers of mild insomnia were given an herbal formula of lemon balm and valerian root, researchers found that symptoms were significantly reduced when compared with the placebo. [6]
Hops (Humulus lupus)
Used for centuries as a flavoring agent in the fermentation of beer, hops is considered to have medicinal value and has recently been a subject of interest in the medical community. A 2001 study found that when used in combination with valerian root, hops was found to reduce symptoms of anxiety. [8] In a randomized clinical trial controlled by a placebo, scientists in Canada found that hops is most effective when used in combination with valerian root. Other results from the study indicate that hops is safer, but not significantly more effective, than synthetic drugs prescribed to treat insomnia. [9]
Chamomile (Matricaria recutita and Chamaemelum nobile)
Chamomile, one of the most widely-used herbs and popular home remedies, has a history of use in Ancient Egypt and subsequent civilizations as a “calming” herb. [10] Used today as a remedy for insomnia by practitioners of natural medicine, chamomile has been assessed in recent years for its potential to treat insomnia. [11] Results from in-vivo trials suggest that chamomile may promote restful sleep, but little evidence has been found to support a connection between chamomile and human sleeping patterns. Researchers in a 2005 study found that chamomile may have a long-lasting soothing effect when consumed regularly over a period of time. [12]
Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca)
Indigenous to Europe and regions of Asia, motherwort is a perennial plant that now grows in North America and has a history of use in various cultures for its calming effect on the heart . [13] Considered to be effective as a natural relaxant and mild sedative, motherwort is also thought to promote heart health, reduce mood swings, and relieve other symptoms associated with childbirth and menopause. [14] According to scientific study, motherwort can potentially relieve anxiety and prevent insomnia. [14] The plant is also considered to decrease spasmodic activity and help with medical conditions such as epilepsy. Despite the reported health benefits of motherwort, caution should be taken before discontinuing medication or lowering your dosage. Experts recommend that sufferers of insomnia talk with their doctor before making changes to their current health care schedule.
Passion Flower (Passifloraceae)
Sleeping well isn’t just about falling asleep faster but also remaining deep asleep throughout the night. In this regard, passion flower is a helpful herb for both children and adults that have trouble staying asleep. Passion flower was once approved as an over-the-counter sedative and sleep aid in the USA but its effectiveness is considered unproven by official sources. There is some evidence that passion flower can be effective against anxiety. [15]
California Poppy
A native flowering plant in Mexico and US, California Poppy has long history of treating different illnesses including anxiety, depression and insomnia. This sleep inducing herb works because of its two active compounds, protopine and californine. These alkaloid compounds work like benzodiazepines which are considered as good treatment for insomnia. [16]
In addition to its sedative effects, California poppy is considered as one of the best herbs for insomnia because it doesn’t result to morning grogginess. This herb can also be used to treat anxiety and depression which may trigger insomnia. Research shows that California Poppy is also used to treat toothaches, ADHD, memory problems, muscle pain, headaches and colics. [17]
Magnolia bark
Widely used in oriental medicine, magnolia bark is probably one of the most popular natural treatments for insomnia. Studies show that it is five times more effective than the drug valium in reducing the anxiety levels of patients. According to research, anxiety is one of the major factors that may trigger the onset of insomnia. The sedative effects of magnolia bark help in calming down patients and helping them achieve better quality sleep.
Aside from its ability to reduce stress, magnolia bark also makes an excellent aid to weight loss. It is also useful in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, cough, asthma, bloating, cramps and intestinal problems.
Herbs For Insomnia – Safety Note
There are herbs that can contradict the effects of prescription drugs or can be dangerous if combined with alcohol or antidepressants. Hence, despite their tranquilizing effects, caution should be taken as to the exact dosage and duration of usage for each specific herb.
Sleep specialist Lisa Shives of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine admits that while research for herbal sleep remedies may not be scientifically conclusive, they have not been found to be dangerously detrimental either. If you complement these herbal remedies with healthy foods beneficial for promoting sleep like those rich in magnesium, avoid caffeine and sweets, engage in a relaxing routine like a warm bath prior bedtime, then the results you reap from herbs can truly be optimized.
Herbs For Insomnia – References
 
[1] Wing, YK. Herbal treatment of insomnia (seminar paper). HKMJ 2001;7:392-402. Department of Psychiatry, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Prince of Wales Hospital, Shatin, New Territories, Hong Kong
[2] Lavender. University of Oregon Medical Center. http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/lavender-000260.htm.
[3] Lewith GT, Godfrey AD. Prescott P. Asingle-blinded, randomized pilot study evaluating the aroma of Lavandula augustifolia as a treatment for mild insomnia. University of Southampton, United Kingdom. Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine. 2005 Aug;11(4):631-7.
[4] St. John’s Wort. University of Maryland Medical Center. http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/st-johns-000276.htm
[5] Valerian. University of Maryland Medical Center. http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/valerian-000279.htm
[6] Lemon Balm. University of Maryland Medical Center. http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/lemon-balm-000261.htm
[7] Scientific and Regulatory Endorsement for Herbs used in the ARTEMIS Therapeutic Herbal Tea Range. Pp. 23 -25. February 2008. Artemis Therapeutic Natural Remedies. Artemis Ltd. http://www.herbalmedicine.co.nz.
[8] Salter S and Brownie S. Treating primary insomnia – the efficacy of valerian and hops. Australian Family Physician. 2010 Jun;39(6):433-7.
[9] Morin CM, Koetter U, Bastien C, Ware JC, Wooten V. Valerian-hops combination and diphenhydramine for treating insomnia: a randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial. Université Laval, Ecole de Psychologie, Sainte-Foy, Quebec, Canada. Sleep. 2005 Nov;28(11): 1465-71.
[10] A History of the ‘Noble’ Chamomile – Anthemis nobilis. http://www.chamomile.co.uk/history.htm
[11] Sanchez-Ortuno MM et al. The use of natural products for sleep: a common practice? Sleep Medicine 2009 Oct; 10(9): 982-87
[12] Smucker, Celeste M. MPH, PhD. Chamomile helps with anxiety, sleeplessness and depression. Natural News. http://www.naturalnews.com/034454_chamomile_anxiety_depression.html
[14] Joseph L. Mayo, MD. Black Cohosh and Chasteberry: Herbs Valued by Women for Centuries. Clinical Nutrition Insights. 1998. Advanced Nutrition Publications, Inc.
Article researched and created by Kelsey Wambold, Cathy Ongking and Elfe Cabanas © herbs-info.com 2013