What Every Pregnant Woman Should Know about Herbs

Because herbs come from nature, many people believe they're safe to take at any time. But, that's simply not true. In fact, many herbs should not be taken while trying to conceive or during pregnancy and post-partum, while breastfeeding. 

The constituents of plants - phytochemicals and other active compounds - can interact with hormones that circulate during the prenatal period and as the fetus is developing. Some herbs can stimulate the uterus to contract. And, if you have other health conditions for which medication is prescribed, there is potential for a drug-herb interaction. Also, once the baby is born, just like with prescription medicines, some herbs can get into breast milk and passed on to the baby. Even if you've taken a certain herbal medicine prior to pregnancy, this does not make that herb safe for you to use when pregnant or breastfeeding. 

Here are a few of the many herbs that are not safe to use during pregnancy:

Aloe. If you've taken aloe vera juice for gastrointestinal symptoms, you should not continue to use it during pregnancy. Internal use of aloe stimulates bowel function, but may also stimulate uterine contractions and cause a drop in blood sugar.

Goldenseal. Often recommended by herbalists for stomach aches, to support digestion and to treat hay fever, goldenseal can cause uterine contractions. 

Licorice. Commonly recommended for gastrointestinal complaints, as well as sore throat and cough, licorice is contraindicated for pregnancy because it contains a compound called glycyrrhizin that can deplete potassium and raise blood pressure. There are products, such as Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice (DGL), that contain the benefit of licorice but which have had the glycyrrhizin removed.

Sage. A chemical found in sage called thujone can bring on a woman's menstrual period, which could cause a miscarriage. Postpartum, sage is not recommended because it can reduce a woman's milk supply. Avoid using sage essential oil, as well as drinking tea with sage. As a cooking herb, sage is safe to use.

Keep in mind, there are many herbs for which there is no safety data because research cannot be conducted while a woman is pregnant; animal studies, if conducted, may not be applicable to human pregnancy and breastfeeding. While there are many herbs regarded as safe to use at various times during a pregnancy, it's imperative that you not make such decisions on your own. Your best resource for choosing herbs during pregnancy is a consultation with a holistic physician who has been trained in botanical medicine and women's health.

Image Attribution: Rido81/bigstockphoto.com

Resources:

Johnson, R.L., S. Foster, Low Dog, T. and Kiefer, D. National Geographic Guide to Medicinal Herbs: The World's Most Effective Healing Plants.(2012) Washington, D.C.: National Geographic.

Mars, B. & Fiedler, C. Home Reference Guide to Holistic Health & Healing. (2015.) p. Beverly, MA: Fair Winds Press.

Hess, Henry M. & Miller, Richard, K. Drugs During Pregnancy and Lactation (Third Ed.) Treatment Options and Risk Assessment (2015), "Herbs and Pregnancy" Pages 511-525 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780124080782000202

BabyCentre.co.uk Medical Advisory Board. "Herbal Remedies in Pregnancy." Accessed 14 July 2019. https://www.babycentre.co.uk/a536346/herbal-remedies-in-pregnancy

Pizzorno, Joseph E. (2013). Textbook of Natural Medicine. St. Louis, MO Elsevier.

Folate: An Important Nutrient for Pregnant Women

You've probably heard that folic acid is an important nutrient during pregnancy. However, there's a misconception around this. And it's an important one: What you really want is bioactive folate (aka Vitamin B-9). Folic acid is actually a synthetic form of folate and the body has difficulty converting it into the folate needed during pregnancy. Folate is essential during the first several weeks for the development of genetic material, as well as throughout a baby's growth in the womb. 

Low folate levels in pregnant women have been linked to birth abnormalities, such as neural tube defects (NTD), which affect the brain and spinal cord, and congenital heart conditions. While not every type of NTD is linked with low-folate levels (some have other biological causes), the majority can be prevented by taking 400 mcg of folate daily.

The best way to acquire folate is through a diet rich in whole foods, including asparagus, avocados, Brussels sprouts, and leafy greens such as spinach and lettuce. It's not ideal to rely on foods labeled as being "fortified with folic acid." A dietary supplement (typically 400 mcg) may be necessary in order to ensure sufficient levels during pregnancy. Some women have a MTHFR genetic mutation which requires a special form of folate called 5-Methyl-tetrahydrofolate. If you have questions about the role of or form of folate you need during pregnancy, consult your naturopathic doctor or holistic physician for guidance.

Image Attribution: Sea Wave/bigstockphoto.com

Resources:

Czeizel, Andrew E., et al. "Folate deficiency and folic acid supplementation: the prevention of neural-tube defects and congenital heart defects." Nutrients 5:1, 4760-75. (21 Nov. 2013) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3847759/

CDC.com "NTDs, Folic Acid and Folate." Accessed 12 July 2019. https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/folicacid/faqs/faqs-general-info.html

Oh, SO Yummy! Homemade Dark Chocolate

Finally, a homemade dark chocolate recipe that will make your tastebuds sing in delight! Made without artificial ingredients, it's the ideal treat for any health conscious person who enjoys an occasional sweet indulgence. You can adjust the intensity of sweetness to your preferred taste, and add-in options are endless - berries (fresh or dried, without added sugar), nuts or seeds.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil

  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder

  • 3 tablespoons honey or maple syrup

  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preparation

Gently melt coconut oil in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir cocoa powder, honey, and vanilla extract into melted oil until well blended. Pour mixture into a candy mold or pliable tray. Refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour.

Image attribution: beats/bigstockphoto.com

Recipe Source: https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/236212/homemade-melt-in-your-mouth-dark-chocolate-paleo/print/?recipeType=Recipe&servings=8&isMetric=false

Healthy Pregnancy - for Mom and Baby

During pregnancy, a woman's body creates an environment in which an entire human being is formed. What could be more amazing than that? As the new mom-to-be strives to protect the integrity of the womb in which her baby will develop, she needs to make good lifestyle choices and commit to high-quality food and nutrients. Here's some important information to help achieve those goals.

Pregnancy Nutrition Essentials

Daily requirements for macronutrients (proteins, fats, carbohydrates), vitamins, and minerals change dramatically in pregnancy and are crucial to the health of mom and her developing baby. For most normal-weight pregnant women, the right amount of calories is about . . .

1,800 calories per day during the first trimester.

2,200 calories per day during the second trimester.

2,400 calories per day during the third trimester.

These calories should be acquired from a variety of whole grains, fruits and veggies as well as eggs, lean cuts of meat and poultry, and low-mercury fish, such as tilapia or salmon. (Vegetarians and vegans will have dietary considerations to discuss with their holistic doctor in order to ensure they meet their caloric and nutrient needs.) During pregnancy it's particularly important that food is sourced organic, verified non-GMO and antibiotic-free to ensure chemicals are not passed along to the baby.

Tips For Meeting Pregnancy Nutrient Requirements

Increase Protein. Pregnant women need 75 - 100 grams of protein daily, Good sources include: fully cooked fish, lean meat, poultry, nuts, legumes (black beans, lentils, chickpeas, etc.), plain yogurt with added fresh fruit, and tempeh. If you find it challenging to eat high-quality sources of protein, speak with your doctor about using protein powder to make smoothies (or to add to yogurt or oatmeal).

Choose Healthy Fats. Consuming adequate fats is vital to baby's organ and brain development. Focus on healthy sources such as avocado, nuts and nut oils, olive oil, coconut, eggs, low-fat plain yogurt with fresh fruit.

Snack on Veggies and Fruits. Eating a rainbow of fruits and veggies helps curb cravings, boost energy, and provide essential fiber, vitamins and minerals (calcium, vitamin C, folic acid, and others). Ideally, eat veggies raw or steamed; also consider fermented veggies.

Drink More Water. A woman's blood volume increases during pregnancy and her body has to supply fluid to replenish the amniotic fluid surrounding the baby. Drinking water is important for hydration levels and may help with morning sickness and prevent constipation. The amount of water needed varies by activity level, climate, food consumption; an average rule of thumb is to drink 1/2 body weight in ounces.

Go for Whole Grains. The carbohydrates provided by whole grains are your body's primary source of energy. Grains also provide B vitamins and fiber. Ancient Grains (such as millet, flax, farro, oat, and quinoa) are an excellent source of whole grains. Choose fresh-baked breads; opt for whole grain crackers, pasta, and brown rice.

Consume Fermented Foods. Fermented foods are a potent source of probiotics, which are essential to powering up the mucosal immune system in your digestive tract and producing antibodies to pathogens. Both are key to maintaining vibrant health for mom and baby. Your holistic doctor may recommend a probiotic in lieu of fermented foods.

Eat Smaller Meals. Morning sickness, special dietary needs, and other factors can alter the food a woman can tolerate during pregnancy. Many women find eating smaller meals, more frequently, is easier for digestion and managing nausea.

Avoid Chemicals. Chemicals in processed foods, caffeine, and sugar can affect the development of the baby's brain and nervous system, as well as immunity and gut health. Try to avoid (or significantly reduce) your intake of processed/packaged foods, caffeine, and sugary snacks. If you need a caffeinated beverage, opt for green tea over soda and if you drink coffee, keep it to one cup per day.

Consider Supplements. A prenatal vitamin containing folate is beneficial to many women during pregnancy and many holistic doctors recommend starting it a minimum of three months preconception. A number of other supplements are considered important for mom and developing baby, based on individual needs. Consult your holistic doctor to determine what is safe and best for you.

The Integrity of the Womb

Many chemicals and medicines have unknown risks for the fetus, which can result in birth defects. To protect the integrity of the womb, it's important for a woman to avoid use of over-the-counter and prescription medicines that are not essential for a health condition. Of course, recreational drugs, alcohol, and smoking are to be avoided. Finally, herbs (botanical medicines) and essential oils should be cleared by your holistic physician before use during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

These tips skim the surface of making healthy choices during pregnancy. To address your unique needs, speak with your holistic doctor, obstetrician or midwife about what is best for you and baby during pregnancy.

Resources

TheHolisticNutritionist.com "What to Eat During Pregnancy." Posted 4 May 2016. Accessed 11 July 2019. http://www.theholisticnutritionist.com/pregnancy/whattoeatduringpregnancy/

American Pregnancy Association. Accessed 11 July 2019.

_____ "Diet During Pregnancy." https://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/diet-during-pregnancy/

_____ "Pregnancy Nutrition." https://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/pregnancy-nutrition/

The Whole Grain Council. "Ancient Grains." Accessed 12 July 2019. https://wholegrainscouncil.org/whole-grains-101/whats-whole-grain/ancient-grains

Bjarnadottir, A. "13 Foods to eat While You're Pregnant." posted on Healthline.com 17 July 2018. Accessed 12 July 2019. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/13-foods-to-eat-when-pregnant#section4

Klemm, S. "Eating Right During Pregnancy." Posted 8 Jan 2019. Accessed 12 July 2019. https://www.eatright.org/health/pregnancy/what-to-eat-when-expecting/eating-right-during-pregnancy

MayoClinic.com "Pregnancy Week by Week: Pregnancy nutrition: Foods to avoid during pregnancy" Accessed 19 July 2019: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/pregnancy-nutrition/art-20043844

Pizzorno, Joseph E. (2013). Textbook of Natural Medicine. St. Louis, MO Elsevier.

Image attribution: olgachov/bigstockphoto.com

Home Remedy Recipe: Garlic Infused Ear Oil

Garlic is a powerful herbal remedy owing to its antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. Olive oil is soothing and safe to use as a base for healing salves and lotions because it contains potent polyphenols which reduce inflammation. Together, garlic and olive oil can help ease the pain of ear infection and reduce healing time. 

Note: If ear pain persists for more than three days or is accompanied by a fever, or if you suspect a perforated eardrum, check with your holistic practitioner before using the ear oil.

Ingredients

  • 2 oz organic olive oil

  • 5 cloves of minced garlic

  • 1 tsp mullein flowers

  • 1 tsp St. John's Wort flowers

  • 5 drops of lavender essential oil

  • Cheesecloth

  • Glass jar - boiled clean and dry

Note: it is important to use the flowers of mullein and St. John's Wort as this part of the plant is what is associated with having a medicinal action on the ear.

Directions

Combine everything except lavender oil in a small steel, glass or ceramic pot with a lid. Heat to approximately 120 degrees F and simmer at this temp for 1 hour; stir every 15 minutes. 

Remove from heat, allow to cool for 30 minutes; using cheesecloth, strain oil into a boiled clean glass bottle. Add lavender oil. Allow to cool to body temp before using. Store at room temp.

To warm before use: place bottle in a small bowl of hot water until it reaches body temp.

To use: put 4-5 drops as often as needed into ear


References:


Mullein: A Traditional Herb for Earache

Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) is an herb native to Europe, Asia and North Africa and has a long history of medical use among various cultures. Early American settlers brought it from Europe because it was known for its ability to help treat ailments such as coughs and diarrhea. Over time, the antiviral and antibacterial properties of mullein have received greater attention in herbal medicine and in preliminary research for its ability to treat infections in the respiratory tract including the mouth, throat, nose and ear. 

Compounds found in Mullein leaves and flowers are classified in traditional herbal medicine as expectorants (promotes the discharge of mucus) and demulcents (soothes irritation or inflammation of mucous membranes). An infused oil of Mullein flowers is a gentle and highly regarded remedy for treating ear infection in adults and children. The mullein is prepared with St. John's Wort and garlic in an olive oil base to help ease pain during acute ear infection (see the recipe in this newsletter).

Two important cautions: never use tea tree oil in your recipe as it's too potent for inside the ear; if a rupture is suspected or you are not sure of the cause of the ear pain, do not use an oil preparation - it can obscure a physician's view of the eardrum. 

Consult with a holistic healthcare professional to make the appropriate preparation of mullein for treating ear infection.

References:

California School of Herbal Studies: http://www.cshs.com/herbsOfMonth/mullein.html

TraditionalRoots.org. Post by, McDonald, J. "Mullein." https://traditionalroots.org/mullein-verbascum-thapsus/

Sarrell, E. M., Cohen, H. A., & Kahan, E. (January 01, 2003). Naturopathic treatment for ear pain in children. Pediatrics, 111, 5, 574-9.

Photo Credit: https://www.medicinetalkpro.org/pt_newsletter_images/aug2019/Aug19_Herb_img.jpg

Garlic for Good Health

Fondly known to herbalists as "the stinking rose", Garlic (Allium sativum)has been used for centuries for a variety of health concerns ranging from treatment of skin conditions to fighting infection. Today, research shows that garlic contains more than 200 phytochemicals that have protective health benefits, such as regulating blood pressure, lowering blood sugar and cholesterol levels, enhancing immunity and working against bacterial, viral, and fungal infections.

Garlic contains several vitamins and minerals that support health, including vitamin B6, vitamin C, manganese, and selenium. It's also rich in sulfur-containing compounds - allicin, alliin, ajoene - that help reduce inflammation and have antioxidant properties. These unique compounds (along with enzymes, minerals and amino acids) make garlic a powerful medicinal that helps reduce the risk for chronic diseases where inflammation is an underlying factor, such as heart disease and cancer.

Though generally safe for most adults, taking a garlic supplement can cause heartburn, upset stomach, an allergic reaction, and breath and body odor (common with raw garlic). Because it can impair the body's ability to form blood clots, garlic should not be taken if you're preparing for surgery or have bleeding disorders. 

Be aware that garlic supplements (powder, capsule, extract or oil) can vary significantly because allicin (the active ingredient) is sensitive to how the supplement is prepared. For example, aging garlic to reduce its odor also reduces the allicin present and compromises the effectiveness of the product. Check with your holistic physician about the benefits garlic may have for you and which formula will work best for your needs.

Ayaz, E. & Alpsoy, H.C. "Garlic (Allium sativum) and traditional medicine." Turkiye Parazitol Derg. 2007;31(2):145-9.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17594659

World's Healthiest Foods: Garlic. http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=60

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Garlic. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/garlic/ataglance.htm

Medline Plus. Herbs and Supplements: Garlic. (Includes information on garlic interactions with other drugs) https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/300.html

Xiong, XJ., Wang, PQ, et al.,"Garlic for hypertension: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials." Phytomedicine. (2015 Mar 15) 22(3):352-61. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2014.12.013. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25837272

Image Credit: http://www.medicinetalkpro.org/pt_newsletter_images/jul2019/Jul19_Herb_img.jpg

Why You Need a Multivitamin

Among the millions of U.S. adults who use nutritional supplements, multivitamin and mineral formulas are the most popular. It's a smart choice for everyone, even active, healthy people who eat a variety of fresh, organic foods. That's because every biochemical process in the body relies upon vitamins and/or minerals to facilitate processes that help maintain physical health and achieve optimal performance. 

When there is even a mild deficiency, or a problem with absorption of nutrients, those processes cannot take place and can cause us to become ill or lead to chronic disease. A multivitamin formula helps support the body as it confronts things such as:

  • Depleted mineral content in the food supply due to soil erosion and chemicals used in conventional farming and food production.

  • Hectic lifestyles that create too much opportunity for consuming overly processed, preservative-laden convenience foods that are low in nutrients.

  • Failure to consume at least five servings of fruits and veggies a day.

  • Inability to manage stress, which increases the body's need for nutrients.

  • Exposure to environmental toxins at home, work/school, and in transit, not to mention those lurking in the water supply and runoff into the soil.

  • Overuse of antibiotics, affecting immunity and leading to dysfunction in the gut.

  • Chronic illness, serious acute illness, or surgery, and use of medications that can interfere with the body's ability to absorb nutrients.

Your Multivitamin Insurance Plan

While multivitamins provide "dietary insurance" for our modern lives, we need to be educated on the various types and what works best for our individual needs. There are a wide variety of formulas and methods of delivery (e.g., tablet, capsule, time-release, liquid). Some formulas contain herbs, which can interact with other medications. The purity and quality of a supplement is critical to its effectiveness. 

Everyone has different nutritional needs based on age, activity level, and health status. The type of multivitamin that is best for you will be different from anyone else's, even a family member of the same age. The best way to determine what type of multivitamin or mineral supplement you need is to consult with a holistic physician. 


References:

"CRN 2018 Consumer Survey on Dietary Supplements." Accessed 10 Apr 2019: https://www.crnusa.org/CRNConsumerSurvey

NIH.gov "Multivitamin/Mineral Supplements Guide." Accessed 10 Apr 2019: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/MVMS-HealthProfessional/

Linus Pauling Institute "Micronutrient Inadequacies." Accessed 10 April 2019: http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/micronutrient-inadequacies

Natural Healing: Prevent Illness and Improve Your Life. The Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (2017). (print)

Pizzorno, Joseph E. Textbook of Natural Medicine (4thEd).(2013) St. Louis, MO: Elsevier.

image Credit:

http://www.medicinetalkpro.org/pt_newsletter_images/jul2019/Jul19_VS_img.jpg

Move Well, Move Often - It May Save Your Life

Move well and move often: it's smart advice for maintaining a strong, healthy body from head-to-toe, inside and out. With mounting evidence of the ill-effects associated with sitting too much, moving well has become essential for living well. 

The way your body moves (functions) is in direct relation to its form (structure) and vice versa. To get a better understanding of this relationship, let's talk cars...

Imagine you drive a beat-up VW Bug. Your little Bug isn't designed to accelerate quickly. It doesn't handle turns with finesse. The way your VW Bug moves is dictated by its structure. Now, let's put you in a Porsche. You can cruise in and out of traffic with the smoothness of silk. This car handles turns better than a rollercoaster. It accelerates like a rocket and can practically stop on a dime. But if you don't perform routine maintenance, all that beautiful form is for naught and your Porsche no longer functions well. Form determines function and how well you care for function affects form. Now, back to your body…

Our body's innate intelligence creates movement patterns that are in dynamic play between form and function, influenced by the type of care we give our body. This complex interaction includes the skeleton, connective tissues like ligaments and tendons, muscles, joints, our breathing, heart function and posture.

Sitting is Killing Us

We sit about 14 hours a day: at meals, in traffic, at school or work, in front of devices and TVs. Prolonged sitting can increase our risk for obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. It's a primary culprit in these health problems:

Chronic back, hip and neck pain: related to weakened core muscles and shortened ligaments connecting the hips and thighs.

Shallow breathing (reduced respiratory capacity): related to compression of the respiratory muscles while sitting and tightness in the accessory muscles around the rib cage, shoulders and neck.

Gastrointestinal issues and indigestion: related to reduced circulation to the gut.

Low energy level, depressed mood: related to lack of engagement of systems that produce hormones and other substances that elevate mood.

But, I go to the gym...

Even if you exercise at a gym, or fitness walk for an hour each day, you're still sitting too much for that one hour to make a real difference. Leisurely, periodic movement is critical to lowering your risk for chronic health problems and even early death. Some ideas:

  • Every 30 minutes, stand/walk for about 10 minutes.

  • Stand while talking on the phone, using a device, or watching television.

  • Desk worker: Try a standing desk or improvise with a high table or counter; invest in a specialized treadmill desk.

  • Walk with colleagues for meetings instead of sitting in a conference room.

  • Once an hour, stand and breathe deeply for five minutes.

  • Strengthen and stretch with standing yoga poses.

  • Try apps designed to remind you to move and stretch during work hours.

Enjoy the benefits of getting up and moving, which include . . . 

  • Burning additional calories, which can lead to weight loss and increased energy.

  • Better digestion, the result of light movement after meals.

  • Support for the respiratory system's role in helping the body remove waste and toxins; movement gives the muscles "room to breathe" placing less stress on joints, muscle and ligaments.

If you have chronic pain or other problems associated with too much sitting, make an appointment with a holistic health provider, such as a chiropractor or physical therapist, who can perform a thorough postural and biomechanical assessment.

References:

Move Well, Move Often - It May Save Your LifeBetterMovement.org "How structure affects function." Accessed April 8 2019: https://www.bettermovement.org/blog/2014/how-structure-affects-function

MayoClinic.org. "What are the Risks of Sitting too Much?" posted by Laskowski, E.R. (May 2018) https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/expert-answers/sitting/faq-20058005

IowaChiroClinic. Org "Does Posture Really Affect Breathing?" Accessed April 8 2019: https://iowachiroclinic.com/2014/01/20/does-posture-really-affect-breathing-and-lung-capacity/

Healthline.com "Breathe Deeper to Improve Health & Posture" posted by Marcin, J. (posted 27 Feb 2018) https://www.healthline.com/health/breathe-deeper-improve-health-and-posture

CNN. "Yes, sitting too long can kill you, even if you exercise." Posted by Scutti, S.(Posted on 12 Sept 2017) https://www.cnn.com/2017/09/11/health/sitting-increases-risk-of-death-study/index.html

Photo Credit: vectorfusionart/bigstockphoto.com



Flexibili-Tea For Your Joints and Muscles

Flexibili-Tea is an aromatic infusion of herbs known to support the health of muscles, bones and connective tissues. In the recipe below we use three herbs.

First, Nettle Leaf, which has a mellow, green tea type flavor that is both nourishing and invigorating. It's rich in calcium, iron, protein and antioxidants. Second, Horsetail adds robust body to the infusion, similar to what you might find with a strong green or black tea. Rich in soluble silica, and readily absorbed by the body, Horsetail supports the regeneration of bones, cartilage and other connective tissue while improving circulation to the extremities. Finally, we use Marshmallow, which has an earthy flavor. This herb contains an abundance of mucilage, which soothes inflamed tissues and accelerates the healing of our tissues.

If you can't locate these herbs loose at a quality health food shop, buy individual tea bags and boil them together. To sweeten the tea, use stevia or try dried organic coconut crystals. 

Ingredients

  • 20g Horsetail, Equisetum arvense

  • 20g Nettle leaf, Urtica dioica

  • 20g Marshmallow leaf, Althea officinalis

Preparation

Cover in 1 pint/600ml boiling water. Strain after 15 minutes. Drink throughout day.

Recipe Source: Ekhart Yoga, courtesy of Noreen McCarthy, P.T., RYT, certified herbalist.

Photo Credit: manyakotic/bigstockphoto.com



Your Body, On Water

Athletic or not, we all need water. And plenty of it. Hydration affects how our body works in daily activities, how prone it is to injury, and how well it recovers from injury. 

Water facilitates hundreds of critical functions in the body, many of which are essential for maintaining good muscle tone, joint mobility, and even managing pain. Specific to the musculoskeletal system, water helps:

  • transport nutrients and oxygen in the bloodstream (which muscles need to properly contract and recover).

  • flush out waste and toxins (which plays a role in reducing muscle soreness).

  • lubricate and reduce friction in the joints.

  • facilitate muscle contraction.

Dehydrated muscles and joints are prone to:

  • Cramps: resulting from imbalances in the electrolytes needed for muscle contraction.

  • Cartilage wear and tear: joints aren't receiving nutrients needed for maintenance and repair after injury. 

  • Friction in the joints: dehydration can deprive your cartilage of the water it needs to maintain cushion, which can lead to achy or "creaking" joints and osteoarthritis (OA). 

  • Pain: dehydrated muscle tissue can't flush out waste products or toxins that build up from exertion, injury or other stress.

Are You Dehydrated?

Dehydration means your body lacks the water required to function. You can become dehydrated if you don't replace fluids lost through exercise, from exposure to the elements, or from vomiting/diarrhea. Excessive caffeine consumption leads to dehydration.

Your daily water requirement depends on age, gender, activity level, body composition, health status, and climate. The color of your urine isn't an accurate guide since certain foods, supplements, and medications change urine color. To ensure sufficient water intake, drink one-half (1/2) of your body weight in ounces. Example: If you weigh 130 pounds, drink 65 ounces of water each day. 

Dehydration can quickly become a life-threatening emergency. Signs include:

Mild Dehydration: dry mouth, irritability, headaches and muscle cramps.

Moderate Dehydration: dizziness, clumsy, exhausted, racing heartbeat. You may be unable to urinate, stand, or focus your eyes. 

Severe Dehydration: the function of vital organs is impaired. Without water, you will enter a coma and die.

Put Down those Sugary Sports Drinks. Here are Sweeter Ways to Get Hydrated

  • Go Coconut. Coconut water is rich in natural electrolytes. While not scientifically proven, theoretically it can boost hydration and you may enjoy the flavor more than plain water.

  • Infuse It! Add fresh or frozen slices of orange, lemon, or lime to your water. Try frozen berries or melon; also try cucumber, mint, ginger or parsley. 

  • Get Fizzy. Bubbly (carbonated) spring water hits the spot on a hot day. Choose varieties without added sweetener. 

  • Have an Herbal. Iced or hot, caffeine-free and herbal teas count toward your water intake and support healthy hydration.

  • Fruit & Veg Up! Many fruits and veggies have a high water and nutrient content: cantaloupe, honeydew, strawberries, watermelon, pineapple, peaches, cucumber, lettuce and celery. 

For more ideas on hydrating to support a healthy body, talk with your holistic health practitioner.

References:

National Hydration Council (UK) "Hydration." https://www.naturalhydrationcouncil.org.uk/hydration-facts/

Havens, K. "Hydration and why it matters for preventing injuries." Posted May 2016: https://www.coastalorthoteam.com/blog/hydration-why-water-matters-for-preventing-injuries

Popkin, Barry M., Kristen E. D'Anci, and Irwin H. Rosenberg. "Water, Hydration and Health." Nutrition reviews 68.8 (2010): 439–458. PMC. Web. 8 Mar 2017: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2908954/

Jequier E, Constant F. "Water as an essential nutrient: the physiological basis of hydration." Eur J Clin Nutr.(2010) 64:115–123. 8 Mar 2017: http://www.nature.com/ejcn/journal/v64/n2/full/ejcn2009111a.html

Murray, B. "Hydration and Physical Performance." J Amer Coll of Nutrition (2007 Oct 26) [5 Suppl] 542S-548S. Accessed 8 Mar 2017: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17921463

USGS.gov "The Water in You." Accessed 8 Mar 2017: https://water.usgs.gov/edu/propertyyou.html

Heinz V.,"Drink at least eight glasses of water a day." Really? Is there scientific evidence for "8 × 8"?" Amer J Physio- Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology(1 November 2002).283:5, R993-R1004 DOI:10.1152/ajpregu.00365.2002 Accessed 8 Mar 2017: http://ajpregu.physiology.org/content/283/5/R993.full.pdf+html

Long, M. "Sports Performance and Nutrition: A comprehensive guide." Naturopathic Currents. (2015 April - Web). Accessed 8 Mar 2017: http://www.naturopathiccurrents.com/articles/sports-performance-and-nutrition-comprehensive-guide

"Water and Nutrition Basics." Accessed 8 Mar 2017: https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/drinking/nutrition/index.html

Mayo Clinic. "Factors that influence water needs." Accessed 8 Mar 2017: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/water/art-20044256?pg=2

UNM.edu. "Water: Nature's Most Important Nutrient." Accessed 13 May 2019: https://www.unm.edu/~lkravitz/Article%20folder/WaterUNM.html

Photo Credit: makistock/bigstockphoto.com





Be Strong and Beautiful with Horsetail

A cousin of the fern, Horsetail (Equisetum arvense) is a flowerless plant that contains 5-8% silica and silicon acids. The body uses silica in the production and repair of connective tissue and helps accelerate the healing of broken bones. Silica is also necessary to maintain and repair the nails, hair, skin, eyes and cell walls. It's a common ingredient in hair and skin care products and nutritional supplements. Silica is more abundant in our tissues when we are younger, but declines with age.

Horsetail is available as a dried herb, often prepared in capsule or infusion form, as well as a liquid extract and tincture. It requires storage in sealed containers away from sunlight and heat. Horsetail contains traces of nicotine and is not recommended for young children. In addition to the Equistetum arvense type of Horsetail, there is another species called Equisetum palustre that is poisonous to horses. To be safe, you should never take that form of horsetail.

There there are many other medicinal uses for horsetail -- each with unique dosing based on the condition being treated and other individual variables. To ensure the potency and quality of the herb for your health needs, talk with your holistic health practitioner.



References:

NutritionReview.com. "Horsetail." Nutrition Review. 10 Oct 2013. Accessed 3 April 2019: https://nutritionreview.org/2013/10/horsetail/ 

Photo Credit: Madeleine Steinbach/bigstockphoto.com



Glucosamine, Chondroitin Sulfate & MSM for Joint Pain

Glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin are structural components of cartilage, the tough tissue that cushions joints. Both are produced naturally in the body and are available as dietary supplements. Since production and structure of cartilage decline with age, it is thought that boosting the availability of glucosamine and chondroitin may play a role in managing the symptoms of osteoarthritis, which destroys cartilage in the joints, causing inflammation and pain.

Another supplement often recommended for joint and bone health, and which also fights inflammation, is MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane). MSM is a highly bioavailable form of sulfur that is easy for the body to absorb. For people who have difficulty tolerating glucosamine, MSM is an excellent option. It should be used in combination with glucosamine, or where medically necessary, with chondroitin as well. 

These supplements are most often used in combination. Short-term studies have shown good results for people with moderate arthritis, but more long-term studies are needed. A number of other studies looking at pain reduction are being conducted both in the US and abroad. Results currently indicate that it may help some people and not others.

Be aware that glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin are derived from shellfish and should not be taken if you are allergic to shellfish. Vegan forms of the supplements are also available. If you take a medicine called warfarin, you should not use glucosamine and chondroitin. Additionally, there are many forms of glucosamine - only glucosamine sulfate has been studied for arthritis treatment. Speak with your holistic health care provider about whether these supplements are an appropriate option for you.

References:

NIH.gov "Q & A: NIH Glucosamine/ Chondroitin Arthritis Intervention Trial Primary Study." https://nccih.nih.gov/research/results/gait/qa.htm

NIH.gov "Glucosamine and Chondroitin for Osteoarthritis." https://nccih.nih.gov/health/glucosaminechondroitin

Healthline.com "8 Science Backed Benefits of MSM" https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/msm-supplements 

Mayo Clinic: Natural Healing "Glucosamine and Chondroitin." (2017) p. 56. Mayo Clinic Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Time Books: NY. 

Jerosch, Jörg. "Effects of Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate on Cartilage Metabolism in OA: Outlook on Other Nutrient Partners Especially Omega-3 Fatty Acids." International journal of rheumatology vol. 2011 (2011): 969012. doi:10.1155/2011/969012. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3150191/

Photo Credit: siam.pukkato/bigstockphoto.com



FODMAP Diet for IBS

Digestive complaints are among the most common health concerns. If you're experiencing distress, a holistic practitioner will evaluate the foods and substances you are eating to identify where a reaction exists. There are many ways to conduct a dietary analysis, including food diary, food allergy testing, muscle testing, and elimination diets. The FODMAP Diet is often recommended by healthcare practitioners. 

What is a FODMAP?

FODMAP stands for fermentableoligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols. This scientific term is used to identify groups of carbohydrates - also known as "fermentable carbs" - that trigger digestive problems such as bloating, gas, abdominal pain, constipation, or diarrhea. 

FODMAPS in Food?

You will find FODMAPS in a variety of foods:

  • Oligosaccharides: in wheat, rye, legumes, garlic and onions.

  • Disaccharides: in milk, yogurt and soft cheese. Lactose (milk sugar) is the main carb culprit.

  • Monosaccharides: in many different fruits, including fig and mango, and sweeteners such as honey and agave nectar. Fructose (fruit sugar) is the main carb culprit.

  • Polyols: in blackberries and lychee, as well as some low-calorie sweeteners like those in sugar-free gum.

Why the Low-FODMAP Diet?

Research and clinical experience demonstrate that following a diet low in fermentable carbs reduces digestive distress, improves enjoyment of eating, and supports gut health by promoting the growth of good gut bacteria. 

Starting a Low-FODMAP Diet

There are several stages, briefly outlined here:

Stage 1: Restriction of high-FODMAP foods. This involves strict avoidance of foods that have been identified or are suspected to be irritants to the digestive system. This stage lasts eight weeks for most people. You will record food intake and monitor symptoms and health variables, which you will discuss with your doctor/ nutritionist.

Stage 2: Reintroduction. You systematically reintroduce high-FODMAP foods to learn which ones you can tolerate and in what amount, or if you are sensitive to several/ all FODMAPS. 

Stage 3: Personalization. With the data collected in the first two stages, you and your health practitioner will establish a personalized low-FODMAP diet. You will progress over time to ensure you have a diet that is flexible, manageable, and provides a variety of nutrients and flavors.

Remember: check with your health practitioner before you try adopting this diet because it has to be customized to your specific food intolerances/ allergies. 


Photo Credit: BondDLegion/bigstockphoto.com

References:

Marsh, A., Eslick, E.M., Eslick, G.D. "Does a diet low in FODMAPs reduce symptoms associated with functional gastrointestinal disorders? A comprehensive systematic review and meta-analysis." European Jl of Nutrition(2016 April) 55:3, 897-906. Accessed 12 Feb 2019: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00394-015-0922-1

Staudacher, H.M., Lomer, M.C.E., et.al, "Fermentable Carbohydrate Restriction Reduces Luminal Bifidobacteria and Gastrointestinal Symptoms in Patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome." Journal of Nutrition, (1 August 2012) 142: 8, , 1510-1518. Accessed 12 Feb 2019: https://doi.org/10.3945/jn.112.159285

Healthline.com "A Beginner's Guide ot the Low-FODMAP Diet." Posted by Rossi, M. (2017 Mar 15). Accessed 12 Feb 2019: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/low-fodmap-diet

StanfordHealthCare.org "Low Fodmap Diet." Accessed 12 Feb 2019: https://stanfordhealthcare.org/medical-treatments/l/low-fodmap-diet.html

KateScarlata.com "Low and High FODMAP Diet Checklists." Accessed 12 Feb 2019: http://www.katescarlata.com/lowfodmapdietchecklists/

Aloe Vera Benefits the Gut

With long, thick, plump and pointed deep green leaves, Aloe vera is one of the most well-recognized medicinal plants in the world. It has a long history of use in pharmaceutical, food, and cosmetic products. A great deal of research supports the use of topical Aloe gel, balms and creams for wound healing, sunburn, frostbite, and other inflammatory skin conditions. But did you know Aloe juice is highly regarded for supporting digestive health and can be used to manage chronic constipation and IBS?

Aloe leaves consist of a fleshy tissue that stores water and contributes to the familiar pulp that oozes from the leaves when sliced open. The Aloe plant contains more than 200 different biologically active substances, most of which are found in the pulp. This includes amino acids; antioxidants; vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B6, C, and E; and the minerals sodium, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, chloride, and traces of magnesium and zinc. Many of these compounds are natural relaxants, helping produce a laxative effective for stressed bowels. 

When selecting Aloe juice as a remedy for IBS related symptoms, look for juice without Aloe latex. Aloe latex contains anthraquinone, which is a natural laxative. Too much aloe latex can worsen GI symptoms; consult with your holistic health provider about how much, and which type of extract, supplement or juice is best for you. 

For blending into smoothies, use in cooking, or adding Aloe to other beverages, remember that Aloe's flavor is similar to cucumber. It's best to use Aloe in recipes with flavors on the same spectrum such as watermelon, lemon, lime, or mint. 


Photo Credit: cgdeaw/bigstockphoto.com

References:

NCCIH.nih.gov "Aloe Vera" https://nccih.nih.gov/health/aloevera

Radha, Maharjan H., and Nampoothiri P. Laxmipriya. "Evaluation of Biological Properties and Clinical Effectiveness of Aloe Vera: A Systematic Review." Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine5.1 (2015, 14 July): 21–26. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4488101/

Asadi-Shahmirzadi A, et al. "Benefit of Aloe vera and Matricaria recutita mixture in rat irritable bowel syndrome: A combination of antioxidant and spasmolytic effects." Chinese Jl of Integ Med (2012 Dec.) pp 1-9. DOI: 10.1007/s11655-012-1027-9 https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11655-012-1027-9

Davis K, et al. (2006). "Randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial of aloe vera for irritable bowel syndrome." DOI: 10.1111/j.1742-1241.2006.00980.x. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1742-1241.2006.00980.x

Soothe Digestive Irritation with Slippery Elm (Ulmus rubra)

Slippery Elm has a long history of use in American medicine. George Washington and his men found sustenance in Slippery Elm porridge during their 12 days at Valley Forge. It helped soothe "nervous stomach" and provided nutrition when they ran out of food. Medicinal preparations (teas and syrups) were used to soothe irritations of the mouth, throat, stomach, and intestines. In addition, the salve was used for treating wounds. 

One of the few herbs approved by the U.S. FDA, Slippery Elm is a non-prescription drug that can help heal inflamed mucosa in the lining of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. It is commonly used by holistic physicians for treating GERD, ulcerative colitis, Crohn's Disease, IBS and common bouts of diarrhea and other inflammatory GI conditions.

Slippery Elm bark first appeared in the United States Pharmacopeia in 1820. Since then, scientific research has slowly emerged. Recent studies, combined with the historical medical uses of Slippery Elm, show a variety of medicinal applications for tea, capsules, powder, lozenges, and topical ointments. Within the bark, is a group of compounds called mucopolysaccharides, which become like loose jelly when they come in contact with water. This property allows the medicinal preparation to coat and soothe inflamed tissue in the body. The unique consistency of mucopolysaccharides allows it to add "smooth bulk" to fecal matter, which makes Slippery Elm useful for both types of IBS - constipation dominant and diarrhea dominant. 

Since there are a variety of ways to prepare and use Slippery Elm, and because it can affect the absorption of other medicines, consult with a holistic healthcare practitioner about the best way to take Slippery Elm for your health and well-being.

Photo Credit: Marek Uliasz

References:

Johnson, R.L., S. Foster, Low Dog, T. and Kiefer, D. National Geographic Guide to Medicinal Herbs: The World's Most Effective Healing Plants.(2012) Washington, D.C.: National Geographic.

Hawrelak, J.A. & Myers, S.P., " Effects for Two Natural Medicine Formulations on Irritable Bowel Syndrome Symptoms: A Pilot Study." Jl. of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (2010 Oct 18) 16:10. Accessed 12 Feb 2019: https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/acm.2009.0090?url_ver=Z39.88-2003&rfr_id=ori%3Arid%3Acrossref.org&rfr_dat=cr_pub%3Dpubmed&

Pizzorno, Joseph E. Textbook of Natural Medicine, 4thEd. (2013) St. Louis, MO Elsevier. 

Langmead L, Dawson C, Hawkins C, Banna N, Loo S, Rampton DS. Antioxidant effects of herbal therapies used by patients with inflammatory bowel disease: an in vitro study. Aliment Pharmacol Ther . 2002;16:197-205.

Fermented Vegetable Medley

When you hunger for something tangy, nutritionally potent, and full of beneficial bacteria to help heal an aggravated digestive tract, fermented veggies are a wonderful option. They're a great side to any meal (vegan or carnivore) and can be added to a hearty stews. This recipe gives you a variety of options, with a focus on veggies that are least likely to irritate those with sensitive digestion.

Equipment Needed for Preparation & Storage

  • 1-gallon or 4-liter glass, enameled or clay jar which will be your fermentation jar 

  • 1 small plate that fits into the fermentation jar

  • 1 small glass jar, filled with water

Ingredients

  • 1 head of red cabbage, roughly cut

  • 1 medium-size beetroot, sliced

  • Handful of garlic cloves, peeled

  • 2 T of sea salt

  • 1 t. dill seeds or dill herb (fresh or dry)

Personal Choice of Additional veggies & herbs: carrots, bell pepper, fennel, parsnip, radish, shredded broccoli, etc.

Preparation

  • Combine all the vegetables and herbs and put them into the fermentation jar. The amount of vegetables should not go beyond the half-way mark on the jar.

  • Fill the rest of the jar with filtered water and add salt.

  • Float the small plate on top and submerge it with the small jar (filled with water to keep it down). This way the vegetables won't float to the top and get moldy.

  • Leave to ferment for 1-2 weeks at room temperature.

  • You will know the medley is ready when the vegetables are soft and tangy.

  • To stop the fermentation process, transfer the medley to smaller jars and keep them in the fridge; they keep well for weeks.

Photo Credits: hormonesbalance.com

References:

Excellent fermentation site: http://phickle.com/ 

Recipe Source: Hormones & Balance https://hormonesbalance.com/recipes/fermented-vegetable-medley-thyroid-diet-food/

Fermented Foods

You can support your gut health with fermented, nutrient-potent foods. Ranging from tangy to bitterly-sweet in flavor, these foods originated decades ago in the cultures of Japan, China, India, and Germany. 

Fermenting imbues foods with the health-enhancing properties of live bacteria, providing an ample source of probiotics, which are essential to a strong digestive tract. Probiotics help build up antibodies to pathogens and provide for a strong "gut immunity" which is key to maintaining overall vibrant health. 

Fermented Foods Short List

  • Cultured Dairy: Yogurt, kefir, buttermilk, sour cream, and some cheeses

  • Veggies: Beets, radishes, tomatoes, onions, garlic, kimchi, green beans, sauerkraut

  • Condiments fermented at home or commercially: ketchup, relish, salsa, chutney

  • Other: Miso, tempeh, tofu, soy sauce, and kombucha (check that sugar content is not high on any pre-packaged or bottled fermented food). 

Tips for Choosing & Storing Fermented Food

  1. Food labels must be marked "fermented."

  2. Fermented and "pasteurized" do not go together. Pasteurization kills live cultures.

  3. Pickled is not the same as fermented (unless indicated on the label). Pickled foods are soaked in vinegar or brine.

  4. Choose organic, non-GMO items or locally farmed products.

  5. All fermented foods must be kept cool to maintain the live cultures.

Adding Fermented Foods to Your Daily Diet

When introducing fermented foods to your daily diet, start with small servings such as 1-2x a day. A few easy ways to sneak in fermented foods: Toss fermented veggies into salads or rice dishes. Enjoy fermented food as a snack or as a side dish (e.g., beets, tempeh, kimchi). Add a spoonful of a fermented food to your morning smoothie (e.g., beets, kefir).

Photo Credit: sveta_zarzamora/bigstockphoto.com

References:

Rawlings, Dierdre, Ph.D., N.D (2013).Fermented Foods for Health: Use the Power of Probiotic Foods to Improve Your Digestion, Strengthen Your Immunity, and Prevent Illness. Fair Winds Press.

Nevin Şanlier, Büşra Başar Gökcen & Aybüke Ceyhun Sezgin, "Health benefits of fermented foods." Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. (2017) DOI: 10.1080/10408398.2017.1383355

Chilton, Stephanie N., et. al. (2014). Inclusion of Fermented Foods in Food Guides Around the World. Nutrients7(1), 390-404. http://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/7/1/390

Fermented Foods that Boost Digestive Health. http://www.drdavidwilliams.com/traditional-fermented-foods-examples/

Fermented Foods: How to 'Culture' Your Way to Good Health http://articles.mercola.com/fermented-foods.aspx

Schwenk, Donna. (2013) Cultured Food for Life: How to Make and Serve Delicious Probiotic Foods for Better Health and Wellness. Hay House, Inc.

Digestive Distress: Holistic Approaches to Irritable Bowel Syndrome

When the smooth rhythm of the muscles of the digestive tract is disrupted, either moving too quickly or too slowly, we experience digestive distress. For some of us, this distress can be frequent and painful, creating a major disruption in our life and in our lifestyle. 

Several health conditions are marked by severe digestive distress including ulcerative colitis, Crohn's Disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). While all of these conditions involve inflammation of the lining of the bowel, IBS can be healed through careful shifts in diet and lifestyle.

What is IBS?

IBS is marked by abdominal pain, changes in bowel habits, and a cluster of symptoms that last for three months or longer. Symptoms vary for each person and can include:

  • Stomach gas and bloating

  • Alternating diarrhea and constipation

  • Mucus in the stool

  • Nausea after eating

  • Rectal bleeding

  • Abdominal pain that progresses or occurs at night

  • Weight loss not explained by dieting or other health concerns

IBS can be caused by one or several underlying health factors that cause a disruption in the digestive tract. These factors can include:

Food Allergy or Sensitivity. Research has shown that IBS can be triggered or made worse in people who are consuming foods to which they have a food allergy, intolerance or sensitivity. For some people a specific category of carbohydrate foods known as "high-FODMAP" create symptoms of IBS. For a list of food culprits, read the article below and see how you can help determine what is causing your distress.

Imbalance in Gut Flora. In the digestive system, we have friendly gut flora that support the process of digestion, nutrient absorption, and immunity. If we don't have enough friendly flora, or there is an overgrowth of unfriendly flora, or an "invader" yeast or bacteria, then inflammation, nutritional deficiency, and digestive distress can result. Toxins, processed foods, stress and antibiotic use can also increase inflammation and trigger or worsen IBS.

Hormones. Changes in hormones, particularly for women, can cause a cascade of changes in the body, including digestion. 

A Holistic Plan for Healing IBS

Holistic practitioners assess for IBS using diagnostic tools such as physical exam, lab tests, stool and urine tests, food allergy or intolerance testing, dietary assessment, and assessment of lifestyle factors including stress level, fatigue, etc. The goal is to identify sources of inflammation that have set the stage for developing IBS. Once identified, doctor and patient, and sometimes a nutritionist, will develop a plan to minimize/ eliminate exposure to triggers, reduce inflammation, and promote healing. 

The "healing plan" for IBS will be different for every person because so many factors interact to produce inflammation and symptoms. This plan can include following a Low-FODMAP Diet (useful for a variety of GI conditions), nutritional and herbal supplementation, stress management, avoiding smoking and caffeine, moderating alcohol intake, adjusting sleeping habits, homeopathy and exercise. 

If you suspect that you are affected by IBS, contact a holistic health practitioner about an evaluation and put yourself on the road to wellness. It is possible to enjoy food again and heal from Irritable Bowel Syndrome.


Image Credit: Aaron Amat/bigstockphoto.com
References:

Marsh, A., Eslick, E.M., Eslick, G.D. "Does a diet low in FODMAPs reduce symptoms associated with functional gastrointestinal disorders? A comprehensive systematic review and meta-analysis." European Jl of Nutrition(2016 April) 55:3, 897-906. Accessed 12 Feb 2019: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00394-015-0922-1

Staudacher, H.M., Lomer, M.C.E., et.al, "Fermentable Carbohydrate Restriction Reduces Luminal Bifidobacteria and Gastrointestinal Symptoms in Patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome." Journal of Nutrition, (1 August 2012) 142: 8, , 1510-1518. Accessed 12 Feb 2019: https://doi.org/10.3945/jn.112.159285

AboutIBS.org https://www.aboutibs.org

Healthline.com "A Beginner's Guide ot the Low-FODMAP Diet." Posted by Rossi, M. (2017 Mar 15). Accessed 12 Feb 2019: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/low-fodmap-diet

StanfordHealthCare.org "Low Fodmap Diet." Accessed 12 Feb 2019: https://stanfordhealthcare.org/medical-treatments/l/low-fodmap-diet.html

KateScarlata.com FODMAP Diet and IBS info. Accessed 12 Feb 2019: http://www.katescarlata.com/

Johnson, R.L., S. Foster, Low Dog, T. and Kiefer, D. National Geographic Guide to Medicinal Herbs: The World's Most Effective Healing Plants.(2012) Washington, D.C.: National Geographic.

Hawrelak, J.A. & Myers, S.P., "Effects for Two Natural Medicine Formulations on Irritable Bowel Syndrome Symptoms: A Pilot Study." Jl. of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (2010 Oct 18) 16:10. Accessed 12 Feb 2019: https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/acm.2009.0090?url_ver=Z39.88-2003&rfr_id=ori%3Arid%3Acrossref.org&rfr_dat=cr_pub%3Dpubmed&

Pizzorno, Joseph E. Textbook of Natural Medicine, 4thEd. (2013) St. Louis, MO Elsevier. 

"What is IBS?" DrWeil.com https://www.drweil.com/health-wellness/body-mind-spirit/gastrointestinal/irritable-bowel-syndrome-ibs-symptoms-treatments/



Ah, The Health Benefits of a Good Stretch

You know you should do it, but in a rush, you often skip it: Stretching. It's important to your health, regardless of how intensely you do - or do not - exercise Regular stretching helps increase muscle flexibility, which is one of the important factors of fitness. Muscles that are limber have better reaction times, help protect joints, support posture, and reduce stress and body aches. 

Additional benefits of stretching include:

  • Increased range of motion around the joint

  • Enhanced blood flow circulation throughout the muscle

  • Enhanced performance in physical activity (for work or play)

  • Prevention of injury to muscles and joints, including the back

  • Improved recovery time and reduced soreness after a workout

Styles of Stretching: 

Static Stretching: Involves holding the body in a particular stretch position for 10-30 seconds. This is most beneficial after you exercise. You often do a lot of static stretches in a gentle yoga class. 

Dynamic Stretching: Active movement that gently warms the muscles as they stretch, but you don't hold the stretch. This is the type of movement done before exercise or sport. The movements might mimic those being done in an exercise routine, but at a slower and more deliberate pace. If you watch pro athletes before an event, you'll see this type of stretching. 

PNF - Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation: Involves actively contracting and relaxing specific muscles in specific patterns. For example, a "hold-relax" pattern places the muscle in the stretched position for a few seconds and is followed by contracting the muscle without moving the joint. Other PNF patterns involve contraction, stretch and relaxation for different lengths of time and in differing order. PNF is commonly used by physical therapists, athletic trainers and athletes. It can be done with a partner's assistance or on your own (possibly using props such as straps or blocks, as in a yoga class). The muscles that respond best to PNF are the ones we often overuse and/or neglect, making them most prone to injury: hamstrings, glutes (your squatting muscles in the butt), back, and shoulder muscles.

To learn more about the type of stretching that best addresses your needs, consult your physician and/or an experienced physical therapist or chiropractor. You might also consider working with a yoga teacher certified in Yoga for MS or an exercise specialist/trainer certified in water fitness or medical exercise.

Photo Credit: Rido81/bigstockphoto.com