Ease Cold Symptoms with Echinacea

Just a glance at the lavender-hued petals and deep crimson center of Echinacea flowers can brighten a gloomy day. That's probably why this wildflower is a staple in many gardens. Plus, with many medicinal uses, echinacea is a wonderful addition to your home apothecary, especially during cold and flu season.

Historically, Native Americans used echinacea for more therapeutic purposes than any other herb. Fresh root was chewed to numb a toothache while juice made from the roots was used in baths and salves to treat skin irritations and even snakebites. By the mid-1800s, American herbalists were using it to treat cold, cough and other respiratory symptoms. Usage in America declined in the 1900s but picked up in Germany where much of the research on the herb has been done. 

Today, echinacea is one of the most well-studied herbs. Herbalists and physicians from many different countries use it for the treatment of the common cold, flu, cough, sore throat and fever. While many believe echinacea can be used to prevent illness, it's more effective at reducing the intensity and length of a cold by about two days. Echinacea also helps boost immune function thereby enhancing the body's ability to resist infection.

Echinacea can be taken as a tea, tincture or in capsule form. Daily use of tea is a wonderful addition to your relaxation ritual. When taking echinacea to combat a cold, it's best to take it at the first sign of illness. Ask your holistic physician which form and dose of echinacea is best for you.

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) 65-67. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Online. Accessed 17 Dec 2018: http://naturaldatabase.therapeuticresearch.com/(X(1)S(umfwo0iqznos3t55f00s4155))/nd/Search.aspx?cs=&s=nd&pt=100&id=981&AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1

Pizzorno, J. E., & Murray, M. T. (2013). Textbook of natural medicine. St. Louis, Mo: Elsevier/Churchill Livingstone. 

Photo Credit: http://www.medicinetalkpro.org/pt_newsletter_images/feb2019/Feb19_Image_Herb.jpg

Natural Therapies for Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia syndrome is a chronic disorder with chronic widespread pain, diffuse tenderness, fatigue, and non-restorative sleep that can interfere with a person’s ability to carry out daily activities. Fibromyalgia can be difficult to treat, and pharmacological therapies are costly, and are not very effective in improving pain and function.

Unfortunately, the exact cause is unknown, and treatment is generally directed toward decreasing the severity of symptoms. Conventional treatment usually involves the use of prescription drugs, analgesics, and NSAIDs. However, other alternative therapies are coming to light, such as Tai Chi, acupuncture, massage, and nutrient/vitamin therapies. Although the evidence is mixed and relatively new, these therapies may be beneficial for patients and low risk. Here is some information I have found regarding these natural treatment options.

Evidence is emerging that Tai Chi has potential therapeutic effects for fibromyalgia. Some studies have shown that once or twice weekly Tai Chi sessions are an adequate regimen to decrease pain and improve quality of life (1). However, more research needs to be completed to determine the optimal dose of Tai Chi. Depression, anxiety, and fibromyalgia are often intertwined. Since Tai Chi is a low impact form of exercise that also uses mindful relaxing techniques, it seems like an excellent therapeutic option for fibromyalgia patients.

Fifteen to twenty percent of patients with fibromyalgia seek out acupuncture treatment (2), and it appears to be effective at reducing pain. Although the evidence is relatively new and mixed, one review found that acupuncture led to a small, but significant reduction in pain post-treatment (2), but whether or not it was beneficial in alleviating other symptoms is still unclear. In multiple studies, the patient drop-out has been low, indicating good acceptance of the treatment by patients, and a relatively low risk treatment (2). Other functional syndromes that are also present in fibromyalgia patients such as irritable bowel syndrome and anxiety, may also benefit from acupuncture treatment.

Massage may also be an option for treatment in patients with fibromyalgia. However, there are many different types of massage, so which one is best for relieving fibromyalgia symptoms? According to a systematic review, there is moderate evidence that myofascial release technique reduces pain, anxiety, and depression, especially immediately after treatment (3). Effects of pain and depression were also observed during short and medium term follow up after myofascial release. Manual lymphatic drainage may be of use too, in terms of decreasing stiffness and depression (3). Swedish massage (your normal massage treatment) did not seem to have any symptom-reducing effects (3). Keep in mind, that the evidence in mixed, as it is hard to have a control group in a study when you are examining the effects of massage. However, the risk is low, and the after treatment effects seem to provide a decent amount of relief.

A few studies have shown that patient with fibromyalgia syndrome are vitamin D deficient. The relationship between vitamin D and fibromylgia syndrome is not yet clearly understood. Could vitamin D deficiency be the cause or the result of fibromyalgia? Although some studies show no benefit with vitamin D therapy for fibromyalgia symptoms, other studies do show that vitamin D therapy may improve quality of life of some patients (4). It is also important to keep in mind that patients with fibromyalgia also may struggle with depression, and as a result spend less time in the sun. This could result in vitamin D deficiency, and be a possible explanation of the association between fibromyalgia and vitamin D deficiency. As vitamin D therapy is inexpensive, keep in mind that it is not low risk. Vitamin D toxicity can be detrimental, and anyone wanting to try vitamin D supplementation should consult their physician before doing so.

Make sure you tell your health care providers about any complementary or integrative health approaches you use. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.

  1. “A Randomized Trial of Tai Chi for Fibromyalgia — NEJM.” New England Journal of Medicine, www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa0912611.

  2. Langhorst, Jost, et al. “Efficacy of acupuncture in fibromyalgia syndrome-a systematic review with a meta-Analysis of controlled clinical trials | Rheumatology | Oxford Academic.” OUP Academic, Oxford University Press, 25 Jan. 2010, academic.oup.com/rheumatology/article/49/4/778/1789898/Efficacy-of-acupuncture-in-fibromyalgia-syndrome-a.

  3. “Effectiveness of different styles of massage therapy in fibromyalgia: A systematic review and meta-Analysis.” Manual Therapy, Churchill Livingstone, 5 Oct. 2014, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1356689X14001829.

  4. “Effects of Vitamin D Therapy on Quality of Life in Patients with Fibromyalgia.” ProHealth.com, www.prohealth.com/library/showarticle.cfm?libid=30554.


Arugula, Apple, and Pecan Salad

In this simple, seasonal and healthy salad, peppery arugula is combined with crisp apples, toasted pecans, red onion, and dried cranberry. A vibrant lemon vinaigrette complements this flavorful plant-based dish. It's a perfect beginning to your lunch or dinner. To make it a main dish, consider adding crumbled goat cheese, white beans, chickpeas, or tofu for your favorite protein. Serves 4. 

Ingredients

Salad

  • 1/2 cup raw pecans

  • 7 ounces arugula (organic when possible)

  • 2 small apples (1 tart, 1 sweet, peeled, quartered, cored and thinly sliced lengthwise)

  • 1/4 red onion (thinly sliced)

  • 2 Tbsp dried cranberries (optional)

Dressing

  • 1 large lemon, juiced (1 lemon yields ~3 Tbsp or 45 ml)

  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup (optional)

  • 1 pinch each sea salt + black pepper

  • 3 Tbsp olive oil

  • 1 tsp water

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (176 C) and arrange pecans on a bare baking sheet.

  2. Bake pecans for 8-10 minutes or until fragrant and deep golden brown. Remove from oven and set aside.

  3. While pecans are toasting, prep remaining salad ingredients and add to a large mixing bowl.

  4. Prepare dressing in a mixing bowl or mason jar by adding all ingredients and whisking or shaking vigorously to combine. Taste and adjust flavor as needed.

  5. Add pecans to salad and top with dressing. Toss to combine and serve immediately. Serves two as an entrée and four as a side.

  6. Store leftovers (dressing separate from salad) covered in the refrigerator for 2-3 days (though best when fresh). Dressing should keep at room temperature for 2-3 days when well sealed.

Recipe Resource: https://minimalistbaker.com/apple-pecan-arugula-salad/

Photo Attribution: minimalistbaker.com

Awesome Arugula

With a nutrient profile similar to kale, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli, arugula is an excellent alternative to these other cruciferous vegetables. Its distinctive, almost peppery flavor, makes arugula easy to enjoy and you'll easily boost the flavor and health power of a meal when you add in this Mediterranean leafy green.

Arugula is high in the following vitamins and minerals:

  • Vitamin C, A, and K: these antioxidants play a role in protecting cells from free radical damage (oxidation). Vitamins A and C also support a healthy immune system. Vitamin K is involved in the body's blood clotting process and plays a role in bone health, which helps prevent osteoporosis.

  • Folate (a B vitamin): supports the production of DNA and is very important in a healthy pregnancy and fetal development. 

  • Calcium and potassium: minerals that have many functions in the body. Both are involved in producing strong muscle contraction. Calcium is important to bone and tooth health. Potassium, an electrolyte, is essential for healthy heart and nerve function and it helps maintain healthy sodium levels in the body.

Add arugula to a salad, rice and other grains, or use in your main meal in lieu of parsley or other herbs. With its lovely leaf shape, flavor and edible flowers, arugula can add pizzazz to many dishes.

References:

Healthline.com "What You Should Know About Arugula." Accessed 21 Nov 2018: https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/arugula

MedicalNewsToday.com, post by Ware, M., "Everything You Need to Know About Arugula." posted 2 Nov 2017. Accessed 21 Nov 2018: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/282769.php

Photo Attributions: Fleur-k/bigstockphoto.com



So Many Apps, So Little Time: Which Fitness & Diet App is Best for You?

So Many Apps, So Little Time: Which Fitness & Diet App is Best for You? 

Sticking to diet, fitness or other wellness goals can be made simpler by using some of the many popular apps on the market. A well-designed app can help you stay motivated, track progress, and provide reinforcement for even the smallest successes. With thousands of apps available, the hardest part is figuring out which ones are best for you.

The majority of diet and fitness tracking apps are not regulated by a governing agency, such as the Food and Drug Administration, unless it's considered a medical device. Be prepared for some trial and error in testing out apps; but before you get to the road-test stage, keep the following tips in mind. 

Essential Features of Quality Apps 

Key features to look for in an app designed to track eating and exercise behavior: 

  • user-friendly, intuitive platform that displays data that is relevant for you;

  • ability to set a goal and get visual or other feedback (e.g., alerts, stickers) so you can see your progress and feel a sense of achievement;

  • tools for positive reinforcement/accountability (e.g., social networks, contests);

  • accuracy of data entered and how it is tabulated, including calories, nutrients, steps, miles, etc. 

Apps that monitor dietary intake of macro and micronutrients (e.g., calories, protein, fat, sodium, sugar, vitamins etc.) should have a comprehensive food database. Make sure the database includes foods you typically eat. 

A physical activity app is best if it accurately tracks the activity you enjoy and will help you stick with it over time. For most people, it may be helpful to find a fitness app that allows you to track a variety of activities (e.g., walking, weight training, or swimming) and encourages you to increase total movement each day. Others may want to gather robust data for more intense training such as distance running. There are also many apps that will take you through a basic workout right on your phone. As your fitness level improves, you can always change or upgrade the app. 

Quick Tips for Choosing a Reliable App 

When viewing an app in the iTunes or Android store:

  • Read reviews to see if the app performs as advertised. 

  • Look at the date the developer updated the app. It should be updated regularly, at least within the last 3 months.

Visit the developer website for the app:

  • Look at the developer team. Ideally, you want to see medical advisors, not just engineers, with appropriate health/medical credentials

Be realistic about what is promised:

  • Steer clear of apps that claim to diagnose or treat as well as those that suggest you take a certain drug or supplement, or encourage restrictive diets or excessive exercise.

References:

"Best Health and Fitness Apps of 2018." https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/top-iphone-android-apps

"Best Diet/ Nutrition Apps for 2018" https://wa-health.kaiserpermanente.org/best-diet-apps/

"Forbes Best List of Fitness Apps for 2017." https://www.forbes.com/sites/leebelltech/2017/12/06/best-health-and-fitness-apps-of-2017/#793a81616fd7

"Get Mobile, Get Healthy: The Appification of Health & Fitness" https://visual.ly/community/infographic/health/get-mobile-get-healthy-appification-health-fitness

"Health and Fitness App Development; Must Have Features." https://www.mobindustry.net/health-and-fitness-app-development-must-have-features/

Photo Attribution: HalfPoint/bigstockphoto.com



Make a Change for Better Health in the New Year

Have you set an intention to make better choices around diet and exercise in the New Year? Kudos for recognizing a change needs to be made and committing to it! As you begin to adopt new, healthier behavior, remember that change is a process. Be kind and patient with yourself. It takes about six weeks for a new behavior to become ingrained in our lifestyle, whether it's exercising, eating more veggies and less meat, or limiting those sodas you've come to love. 

Success involves creating plans for moving forward, as well as for for managing those inevitable setbacks. Here are some simple strategies to help you achieve your goals. 

Know Your Why. Write down why you want to adopt a particular health behavior or change a poor one. Motivation is an important predictor of behavior, so be honest with yourself. Think deeper than just wanting to fit into smaller clothes - examine how you want to feel when you achieve that goal. Connecting emotion to your "why" strengthens your motivation and willingness to stick to the goal: I'll feel healthier and stronger and more confident when I lose weight and fit into a smaller size. 

Find Your Tribe. Enlist the support of loved ones, friends, and co-workers. Working toward a goal together provides social support that makes it easier (and more fun) to stick with making the change. You might start by telling the people closest to you what you are doing and why. Ask people for specific help: When you see me reach for a third cookie, please say something. Tell people what you need as you start and keep them updated as you progress. 

Have a Plan and Be Flexible. Anything you want to achieve isn't about finding the time, it's about making the time - and that's a choice in your power. Look at your daily and weekly routines to identify blocks of time when you can exercise or prepare meals in advance. It may mean getting up 20 minutes earlier or getting off social media. Do it. Make actual appointments with yourself and keep them. Planning also means knowing your environment - at home, work and play - and being aware of triggers that could put you off course. Examples: bring your lunch instead of going out; take a walk before eating; reduce temptation by removing salty, fatty snacks from the house; shop for food mindfully, staying in the outside aisles of the store where the food is typically healthier. And be flexible: life happens and things will get in the way. Those are temporary shifts. Get right back to your health routine the following day or as soon as possible. 

Set Reasonable Goals. If you need to get up earlier to exercise, don't start with an hour - start with ten minutes. Every five days increase by five minutes until you're awake early enough to do the kind of workout that you want. Starting with small, reasonable goals makes them more attainable and gives you a sense of achievement. And that's important when you're first making a behavior change. Every small success builds up to bigger achievements.

Celebrate! In your plan, note the markers at which you'll celebrate success. Incorporate a small reward for weekly successes and a bigger reward for milestones (e.g., 3 weeks of exercising daily, or losing the first five pounds). Rewards need not be expensive; rather, make them meaningful for you - and not food based unless you're going out to a great new vegan restaurant.

References:

Young, S. "Healthy Behavior Change in Practical Settings." Perm J (2014, Fall) 18:4: 89-92. Accessed 26 Nov 2018: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4206177/

NIH.gov "Changing Your Habits for Better Health." Accessed 26 Nov 2018: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diet-nutrition/changing-habits-better-health

Medium.com "10 Science-backed Tips to Making a Health Behavior Change that Sticks." Posted by Paige Brown Jarreua; Accessed on 26 Nov 2018: https://medium.com/lifeomic/10-science-backed-tips-to-making-a-health-behavior-change-that-sticks-8655c3bbde50

APA.org "Making Lifestyle Changes that Last" Accessed 26 Nov 2018: https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/lifestyle-changes.aspx

Harvard Healthbeat "7 ways to jumpstart Healthy Change in Your Life." Accessed 26 Nov 2018: https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/7-ways-to-jumpstart-healthy-change-in-your-life 

Beckman, S. Cooper Institute. "Tips to Support Healthy Behavior Change." Posted 30 Jul 2015: Accessed 26 Nov 2018: https://www.cooperinstitute.org/2015/07/tips-to-support-healthy-behavior-change/

Photo Attribution: vesnacvorovic/bigstockphoto.com

Doing Good for Others is Good for Your Health

Lower stress, higher self-confidence, and enhanced social relationships - sounds like the health benefits of exercise, right? Surprise! Those benefits also come from volunteering. Whether you're working at a food shelter, giving time as a literacy mentor, or helping out after a natural disaster, the many ways of doing good for others is also good for your health. 

In general, people volunteer because they believe helping those who are having a harder time in life can actually make a difference. That alone makes those who volunteer feel good about themselves, about others, and about their community. But there's much more to it; research shows that the "happiness effect" of volunteering enhances social, emotional, and physical aspects of health and that these benefits increase as we age.

Social Benefits

  • Strengthens community ties 

  • Builds in-person social networks to create genuine friendships

  • Reduces feelings of loneliness

  • Enhances professional networks and job opportunities

Emotional Benefits

  • Strengthens emotional stability for those with and without mental health concerns, such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD

  • Improves self-esteem

  • Contributes to a sense of purpose

Physical Benefits

  • Lowers stress and tension 

  • Enhances brain function

  • Reduces risk of Alzheimer's Disease

  • Promotes being physically active

People who volunteer tend to take better care of themselves; they typically have lower rates of heart disease, depression and anxiety. These health benefits don't just apply to adults. They apply to kids and teens as well. As noted earlier, the benefits continue as we age and become even more pronounced for older adult volunteers. 

So, find a cause (or two) that is meaningful for you, involve the whole family in volunteering, and celebrate all that it does for others and for you!

References:

NationalService.gov. "The Health Benefits of Volunteering: A review of Recent Research." Corporation of National & Community Service.Accessed 13 Oct 2018: https://www.nationalservice.gov/pdf/07_0506_hbr.pdf

Thebalancesmb.com "Th15 Unexpected Benefits of Volunteering that will Inspire You." Accessed 13 October 2018: https://www.thebalancesmb.com/unexpected-benefits-of-volunteering-4132453

CreateTheGood.org "Health Benefits of Volunteering." Accessed 13 Oct 2014: http://createthegood.org/articles/volunteeringhealth

Carlson, Michelle C., Erickson, Kirk I., Kramer, Arthur F., et al., " Evidence for Neurocognitive Plasticity in at-risk older adults: The Experience Corps Program." Jls of Gerontology: Series A, (1 December 2009) 64A:12, Pages 1275–1282, Accessed 13 Oct 2018: https://doi.org/10.1093/gerona/glp117 

Raposa, Elizabeth B et al., "Prosocial Behavior Mitigates the Negative Effects of Stress in Everyday Life" Clinical psychological science : a journal of the Association for Psychological Science (2015) 4:4, 691-698. Accessed 28 Oct 2016: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4974016/

Photo credit: LightField Studios/bigstockphoto.com



Peppermint for Home and Health During the Holidays

Aromatic peppermint (Mentha piperita) has been used for centuries to add flavor or fragrance to foods, cosmetics, toothpaste and mouthwash, soaps, candles, and scented products for the home. Several different cultures also use peppermint leaves, oil, and fresh or dried powder in holistic health preparations.

As a traditional remedy, peppermint is used to awaken the mind and help relieve fatigue. Consider lighting a peppermint scented candle during the busy holiday season. Peppermint is also well known for relief of symptoms associated with the common cold and indigestion; it works by calming the stomach muscles and improving the movement of bile through the digestive system. Some scientific studies indicate that peppermint can improve the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), including pain, bloating, gas and diarrhea. Because the menthol component of peppermint acts as a decongestant, peppermint essential oil is a good choice for use in a diffuser, as a chest rub, or added to a warm bath. Dried peppermint leaves make for an excellent infusion for tea.

It is possible to be allergic to peppermint. Even though it can ease digestive complaints, it may not be appropriate for people who have acid reflux (GERD). Like many other herbs, peppermint can interact with other herbs, prescription medicine, or supplements. Peppermint can affect respiratory function in young children; it should not be used without the supervision of a trained medical aromatherapist. Be sure to consult your health practitioner before adding any form of peppermint (oil, capsule, tea) to your health regimen.

References:

Essential Oils Natural Living. "Essential Oils to Boost Energy, Reduce Fatigue." http://www.essentialoilsus.com/boost-energy-aromatherapy/

Mars, B., and C. Fieldler. The Home Reference to Holistic Health & Healing. MA: Fair Winds Press: 2015.

Kligler, B. Chaudhary, S. "Peppermint Oil." Am Family Physician (2007 Apr 1) 1:75(7): 1027-1039. Accessed 10 October 2018: https://www.aafp.org/afp/2007/0401/p1027.pdf

Hamoud, R., Sporer, F. et al., "Antimicrobial activity of a traditionally used complex essential oil distillate (Olbas® Tropfen) in comparison to its individual essential oil ingredients." (2012 May 14) Accessed 10 Oct 2018: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.phymed.2012.05.014

Ford, Alexander C., Talley, Nicholas J., SpiegelBrennan M. R., et al., "Effect of fibre, antispasmodics, and peppermint oil in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome: systematic review and meta-analysis," BMJ 2008; 337 :a2313. Accessed 10 Oct 2018: https://www.bmj.com/content/337/bmj.a2313

Photo credit: Subbotina Anna/bigstockphoto.com

Gingerbread Recipe

Who doesn't love this old-fashioned favorite holiday dessert? Just thinking about the aroma of warm gingerbread wafting through the air is bound to put you in a festive spirit. Enjoy gingerbread after your meal or with your morning tea.

Ingredients for Bread

  • 2/3 cup dark brown sugar

  • 2/3 cup molasses

  • 2/3 cup boiling water

  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into chunks

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 large egg, beaten

  • 1 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon ginger or gingerbread spice

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

  • 1/4 cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped

Ingredients for Ginger Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter

  • 1/2 cup cream cheese

  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners' or glazing sugar (or Swerve)

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1/4 cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9" square pan.

  2. In a large bowl, blend the sugar, molasses, water and butter, stirring until the butter melts. When the mixture is lukewarm, add the baking soda, salt, and egg.

  3. Sift together the flour and spices, and add to the wet ingredients. Gently stir in the crystallized ginger. 

  4. Pour the batter into the pan, and bake the gingerbread for 25 to 28 minutes, or until it tests done with a clean skewer in the center. 

  5. Remove from oven and turn out onto a wire rack. Allow to cool completely.

  6. While cooling, beat together the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Beat in the sugar and vanilla, then stir in the crystallized ginger. Apply icing as desired.

Recipe Resource: https://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/hot-and-sweet-gingerbread-recipe

Holiday Digestive Support: Ginger

Around the holidays, or anytime you've over-indulged, consider sweet and zesty ginger for nourishing the digestive organs. Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is a knobby, horn-shaped rhizome with a long history of supporting metabolism, aiding digestion and reducing inflammation. It helps heal upset stomach, diarrhea, nausea, motion sickness, and morning sickness. 

Current research indicates that ginger stimulates the production of enzymes in saliva and along digestive pathways. Biologically active compounds in ginger bind to receptors in the digestive tract, which seems to be instrumental in minimizing the sensations that create nausea and indigestion. Ginger also plays a role in the breakdown of starches and fatty food. All good things when your tummy has gone sour.

There are many fresh and dried preparations for ginger including tincture, extracts and capsules prepared in different strengths; consult with a holistic physician to determine your medicinal needs.

Ginger is also available as a "chew" or lozenges and tea infusions, all of which are ideal for upset stomach. Don't forget to try a cup of homemade Ginger Ale, enjoyed with a side of Gingerbread, both prepared with a freshly grated ginger rhizome.


References:

Mars, B. & Fiedler, C. Home Reference Guide to Holistic Health & Healing. (2015) p.186. Beverly, MA: Fair Winds Press. 

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) p.140; 158-160. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic.

WorldsHealthiestFoods.com "Ginger" Accessed October 4, 2016. http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=72

Borrelli F, Capasso R, Aviello G, Pittler MH, Izzo AA. "Effectiveness and safety of ginger in the treatment of pregnancy-induced nausea and vomiting." Obstet Gynecol. (2005) Apr;105(4):849-56. PMID:15802416 

Hoffmann, D. Medicinal Herbalism. The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. Rochester, Healing Art Press 2003.

University of Michigan Health System. "Ginger root supplement reduced colon inflammation markers." University of Michigan Health System, 11 October 2011. http://www.uofmhealth.org/news/ginger-cancer-1011 

Homemade Ginger Ale: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/homemade-ginger-ale-358033

Taking an Antibiotic? How Probiotics can Help

It's fairly common knowledge that antibiotics kill some of the health-promoting bacteria that live within your gut's complex ecosystem. Taking a probiotic supplement can support the way gut flora work together to keep that ecosystem - and you - at the healthiest.

Antibiotics are used to kill both the pathogenic bacteria that should not be present in the body and the pathogenic bacteria that normally reside in the body in very small numbers but which have "overgrown" for some reason. Unfortunately, while antibiotics are targeting the unwanted pathogenic bacteria, they often disrupt (or destroy) the balance of "good" gut flora. The result: gastrointestinal upset. Up to 20% of people using antibiotics experience antibiotic-associated diarrhea. The longer you use an antibiotic, the more damage that is likely to occur in the gut ecosystem. Some people can experience severe symptoms that progress to inflammation of the colon, which can become life-threatening.

This is where probiotics come in. With an estimated 80% of your immune system located in your gut, taking a probiotic on a regular basis is a good idea for most people, and especially important while taking antibiotics. Probiotics are live microorganisms that encourage the growth of good gut bacteria, thus strengthening immunity. And they can help prevent that antibiotic induced diarrhea.

Which probiotic is right for you while taking antibiotics? That depends on your age, general health, current symptoms of illness, and the length of time you have been using any antibiotic medication. Probiotics come in different strains of bacteria, as well as different forms (e.g., liquid, capsule) and are usually refrigerated to preserve the integrity of the microorganisms. The selection of the strain of probiotic you should take - especially while taking an antibiotic-is very important. Just as important is making sure that you take the probiotic at a different time of day than when you take antibiotics and to continue taking the probiotic even after you have finished the antibiotic. Your health practitioner can determine which probiotic formula and dosing strategy is best for your needs.

References:

Pizzorno, J. E. & Murray, M.T. Textbook of Natural Medicine: 4thEd. (2013). "Chronic Candidiasis" p. 466, "Immune Support" (Chapter 56, p 516 – 523), "Probiotics" (Chapter 116, p. 979-993)

  • Schroeder, Michael O., "Getting Your Probiotic Fix When Taking Antibiotics." US News & World Report: Health Online. Accessed 12 July 2018: https://health.usnews.com/wellness/articles/getting-your-probiotic-fix-when-taking-antibiotics

  • Kiani, L., Cambridge Scientific Abstracts- Discovery Guide. Bugs in our Gut: How Probiotics Keep Us Healthy.(2006). Accessed 11 July 2018: http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.503.8094&rep=rep1&type=pdf

  • Macfarlane GT, Cummings JH. "Probiotics and prebiotics: can regulating the activities of the intestinal bacteria benefit health." BMJ.(1999) 318:999-1003. Accessed 12 July 2018: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1115424/

  • Mayo Clinic. Probiotics. Accessed 12 July 2018: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/expert-answers/probiotics/faq-20058065

  • Hempel S, Newberry SJ, Maher AR, et al. "Probiotics for the Prevention and Treatment of Antibiotic-Associated Diarrhea: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis." JAMA. 2012;307(18):1959-1969. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.3507. http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1151505

  • Dr. Weil Vitamin Library: Probiotics http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART03052/Probiotics.html

Apple Cider Vinegar: A News-Worthy Remedy

Over the years, the media has paid lots of attention to apple cider vinegar (ACV) and for good reason. An ancient health remedy, it's known as a panacea for what ails us, aiding in weight loss, managing blood sugar, reducing cholesterol, lowering cancer risk, supporting digestion, and facilitating natural detoxification. It was used by Hippocrates as an antibacterial cleanser for wounds and has a long history of use by holistic physicians, particularly for its natural antibacterial properties, stemming from its fermenting process.

ACV is produced by fermenting the natural fruit sugar in crushed apples (or cider) into alcohol. Specific strains of bacteria are added to the alcohol, creating enzymes and acetic acid - the active compound in any vinegar. Acetic acid can destroy bacteria or prevent it from multiplying and spoiling foods. Probiotics and other plant compounds in ACV may help support immunity. For those who like to keep things natural and chemical-free around the home, ACV has many other uses, including conditioning the hair, cleansing the skin, gargling to soothe sore throat, and as a household cleanser.

Whether you are making ACV at home or buying from a store, the dilution ratios vary depending on whether you're adding it to water or tea, using it to wash food, or for cleaning around the house. Because ACV contains a pungent acid, these ratios should be discussed with a holistic health practitioner. Improper mixing can result in stomach upset, reflux, or aggravation of preexisting digestive or skin condition. Most importantly, do not drink undiluted ACV.

References:

Healthline.com "Apple Cider Vinegar for Colds." Accessed 12 July 2018: https://www.healthline.com/health/apple-cider-vinegar-for-colds

  • HealthLine.com. "6 Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar, Backed by Science" post by Kris Gunnars, posted 15 Mar 2018; Accessed 16 Aug 2018: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/6-proven-health-benefits-of-apple-cider-vinegar#section2 

  • Washington.edu. University of Washington, The Whole U: "Beyond the Hype: Apple Cider Vinegar as an Alternative Therapy." Post by Dori Khakpour, posted 7 July 2015; Accessed 16 Aug 2018: https://www.washington.edu/wholeu/2015/07/07/beyond-the-hype-apple-cider-vinegar-as-an-alternative-therapy/ 

  • Johnston, Carol S., and Cindy A. Gaas. "Vinegar: Medicinal Uses and Antiglycemic Effect." Medscape General Medicine 8.2 (2006): 61. Accessed 16 Aug 2018: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1785201/

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