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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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Supplement Linked to Reduction in Skin Cancer Risk

Preliminary Australian study saw association between nicotinamide and lower rates

WebMD News from HealthDay   By Dennis Thompson    HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, May 13, 2015 (HealthDay News) – A cheap and easily available vitamin supplement appears to reduce a person’s risk of skin cancer, new research contends.

A form of vitamin B3 called nicotinamide is linked to a reduction of non-melanoma skin cancers by 23 percent when taken twice daily, according to Australian researchers.

“It’s safe, it’s almost obscenely inexpensive, and it’s already widely commercially available,” said senior author Dr. Diona Damian, a professor of dermatology at the University of Sydney.

Nicotinamide costs less than $10 for a month’s supply and is available at pharmacies and health food stores, she said.

However, more study is needed before researchers can say whether everyone would benefit from the supplement. “It’s not something we’d recommend at this stage for the general population,” Damian said.

The study is slated for presentation May 30 at the upcoming annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Findings presented at meetings are generally considered preliminary until they’ve been published in a peer-reviewed journal. Funding for this study was provided by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, with about 5 million cases treated every year at a cost of about $4.8 billion, Damian said.

Common skin cancers tend to grow slowly and can be cured if found and treated early, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). These types of skin cancer include basal and squamous cell carcinoma. A more dangerous type of skin cancer called melanoma accounts for just 73,000 cases a year, according to the ACS.

Sunshine

Ultraviolet rays from the sun cause most skin cancers by damaging the DNA of skin cells, Damian said.

UV radiation also hampers the body’s ability to fight off cancer, depleting the energy that skin cells need to repair damaged DNA and profoundly suppressing the skin’s immune system, she said.

Earlier studies indicated that nicotinamide can provide skin cells with an energy boost, enhancing DNA repair and strengthening the skin’s immune system, Damian said.

However, those benefits quickly disappeared during the study’s follow-up period. “When people stopped taking their tablets after 12 months, the benefit was no longer seen,” Damian said. “In other words, you need to continue taking the tablets in order for them to be effective.”

Nicotinamide did not appear to cause any more adverse events than the placebo, researchers said.

Damian said that nicotinamide is very different from a more commonly known form of B3 called niacin. People who take high doses of niacin can suffer from headaches, flushed skin and low blood pressure. “These side effects are not and were not seen with nicotinamide,” she said.

Further studies are planned to determine if nicotinamide can help reduce skin cancers in people with suppressed immune systems, such as organ transplant recipients who have to take lifelong immune suppressive medications, researchers said. People with suppressed immune systems have skin cancer rates up to 50 times higher than those with normal immune systems, the researchers noted.

ASCO President Dr. Peter Yu said that the new study may provide doctors with a tool to head a major form of cancer off at the pass.

“We all know that we clamor for preventing rather than treating diseases, and this is a major advance for us,” said Yu, director of cancer research at Palo Alto Medical Foundation. “With just a daily vitamin pill, along with sun protection and regular skin cancer screenings, people at high risk for these types of skin cancers have a good preventive plan to follow.”

source: HealthDay 

 


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Probiotics 101: Literally Everything You Need to Know

By Kris Gunnars

Did you know that the bacteria in your body outnumber your body’s cells 10 to 1?

It’s true, and most of them reside in your gut.

But there really is no need to panic, most bacteria are quite harmless.

Having the right bacteria in there has even been linked to numerous health benefits.

This includes weight loss, improved digestion, enhanced immune function, better skin and a reduced risk of many diseases.

This leads us to the topic at hand, probiotics.

Probiotics are foods or supplements that contain these friendly bacteria, and are supposed to help colonize our guts with health-boosting microorganisms.

The importance of this can not be overstated.

Taking care of your gut, and the friendly bacteria that reside there, may be one of the single most important things you can do for your health.

What Are Probiotics?

According to the official definition, probiotics are “live microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host”.

Probiotics are usually bacteria, but there is also a type of yeast that can function as a probiotic.

You can get probiotics from supplements, as well as foods that are prepared by bacterial fermentation.

Probiotic foods include yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, tempeh, kimchi and others.

Probiotics should not be confused with prebiotics (note the “e”), which are dietary fibers that help feed the friendly bacteria that are already in the gut.

There are actually dozens of different probiotic bacteria that have been shown to have health benefits.

The most common groups include Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. Then there are many different species within each group, and each species has many strains.

Interestingly, different probiotics seem to work for different health conditions. Therefore, choosing the right type (or types) of probiotic is essential.

Many probiotic supplements combine different species together in the same supplement. These are known as broad-spectrum probiotics, or multi-probiotics.

Keep in mind that this is a new but rapidly expanding area of research.

Although the evidence is promising, it is not conclusively proven that probiotics help with all the health conditions mentioned in this article.

Bottom Line: Probiotics are live microorganisms that cause health benefits when consumed in adequate amounts. There are many different types, and you can get them from foods or supplements.

The Importance of Microorganisms in The Gut

The complex community of microorganisms in your gut is called the gut flora.

Your gut actually contains hundreds of different types of microorganisms, with some numbers going as high as 1000.

This includes bacteria, yeasts and viruses. The great majority is bacteria.

Most of the gut flora is found in the colon, or large intestine, the last part of the digestive tract.

The metabolic activities of the gut flora actually resemble those of an organ. For this reason, some scientists refer to the gut flora as the “forgotten organ”.

The gut flora actually performs many functions that are important for health. It manufactures vitamins, including vitamin K and some of the B vitamins.

It also turns fibers into short-chain fatty acids like butyrate, propionate and acetate, which feed the gut wall and perform many metabolic functions.

They also stimulate the immune system, and regulate the integrity of the gut. This can help prevent unwanted substances from “leaking” into the body and provoking an immune response.

However, not all organisms in the gut are friendly. Some are good, others are bad.

The gut flora is actually highly sensitive to modern insults, and studies show that an “unbalanced” gut flora is linked to numerous diseases.

This includes obesity, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, colorectal cancer, Alzheimer’s, depression and many, many more.

Probiotics (and prebiotic fibers) can help correct this balance, making sure that our “forgotten organ” is functioning optimally.

Bottom Line: Your gut flora consists of hundreds of different types of microorganisms. Probiotics help your gut flora perform optimally.

Probiotics and Digestive Health

Probiotics have been studied most in regard to digestive health.

The strongest evidence has to do with antibiotic-associated diarrhea.

When people take antibiotics, especially for long periods of time, they often suffer from diarrhea for a long time after the infection has been eradicated.

This is because the antibiotics kill many of the natural bacteria in the gut, which shifts the balance and allows the “bad” bacteria to thrive.

Dozens of studies have provided strong evidence that probiotic supplements can help cure antibiotic-associated diarrhea.

Probiotics have also been shown to be beneficial against irritable bowel syndrome, a very common digestive disorder. They can help reduce gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea and other symptoms.

Some studies also show that probiotics may be beneficial against inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

Probiotics may also be useful against Helicobacter pylori infections, the main driver of ulcers and stomach cancer.

If you currently have digestive problems that you can’t seem to get rid of, then perhaps a probiotic supplement is something you should consider.

Bottom Line: Probiotics have been shown to be effective against various digestive problems. This includes antibiotic-associated diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome.

love-your-gut

Probiotics and Weight Loss

Obese individuals have different gut bacteria than lean people.

Animal studies have also shown that fecal transplants from lean animals can make obese animals lose weight.

For this reason, many scientists now believe that our gut bacteria are important in determining body fatness.

Although this needs to be studied a lot more, some probiotic strains have been shown to help with fat loss.

The most impressive study on this was published in 2013. It was a study of 210 individuals with central obesity (lots of belly fat).

In this study, taking the probiotic Lactobacillus gasseri caused people to lose 8.5% of their belly fat mass over a period of 12 weeks.

When they stopped taking the probiotic, they gained the belly fat back within 4 weeks.

There is also some evidence that Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Bifidobacterium lactis can help with weight loss and obesity prevention.

However, this needs to be studied more before any recommendations can be made.

There are also some animal studies showing that other probiotic strains could even lead to weight gain, not loss.

Bottom Line: There is some evidence that the probiotic Lactobacillus gasseri can help people lose belly fat. This needs to be studied a lot more.

Other Health Benefits of Probiotics

Getting into all the incredible benefits of probiotics is beyond the scope of this article.

However, there are a few that are definitely worth highlighting here:

  • Inflammation: Probiotics have been shown to reduce systemic inflammation, a leading driver of many diseases.
  • Depression and anxiety: The probiotic strains Lactobacillus helveticus and Bifidobacterium longum have been shown to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression in people with clinical depression.
  • Blood cholesterol: Several probiotics have been shown to lower total and LDL cholesterol levels.
  • Blood pressure: Probiotics have also been shown to cause modest reductions in blood pressure.
  • Immune function: Several different probiotic strains can enhance immune function and lead to reduced risk of infections, including the common cold.
  • Skin health: There is some evidence that probiotics can be useful for acne, rosacea and eczema, as well as other skin disorders.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Probiotics have been studied, and shown to be beneficial, for a wide range of other health problems.

Bottom Line: Probiotics have been shown to have numerous health benefits. They may reduce depression and anxiety, improve heart health and enhance immune function, to name a few.

Are There Any Side Effects?

Probiotics are generally well tolerated and considered safe for most people.

However, in the first few days, you may experience side effects related to digestion. This includes gas and mild abdominal discomfort.

After this initial adaptation period is over, your digestion should be better than it was before.

Probiotics can be dangerous, and even lead to infections, in people with compromised immune systems. This includes people with HIV, AIDS and several other health conditions.

If you have a medical condition, definitely consult with your doctor before taking a probiotic supplement.

Bottom Line: Probiotic supplements may cause digestive symptoms, but this should subside within a few days. They may be dangerous for people with certain medical conditions.

What Are The Best Probiotic Supplements?

There are hundreds of different probiotic supplements available.

If you have a health problem and you want to try a probiotic for that purpose, then it is very important that you choose the right strain.

I recommend looking around at the different options available. There you can see which strains the supplements contain.

Make sure to buy probiotics from a reputable manufacturer. Dietary supplements are not regulated, so many of these products may not contain what the labels say they do.

According to one study, it is best to take probiotics either right before, or with, a meal that contains some fat.

Beyond that, make sure to follow the instructions on the packaging. Keep in mind that some products need to be refrigerated.

Take Home Message

Maintaining a healthy gut goes way beyond just taking a probiotic supplement.

What you do from day to day is just as important.

All sorts of lifestyle factors, especially the foods you eat, have been shown to affect the gut bacteria.

Living a healthy lifestyle, getting good sleep, and eating real food with lots of fiber is the key.

In many cases, probiotic foods and supplement can be helpful as well.

I recently started taking a probiotic supplement myself .

It has significantly improved my digestion, and I feel that my energy levels and thinking have improved as well.

I now consider probiotics to be an essential component of my own personal health strategy.