I’ve got a preference for certain herbal supplement manufacturers. I’ve never tried to conceal that. Now my favorite manufacturer has finally released their CBD! I’m so excited!
I’ve got a preference for certain herbal supplement manufacturers. I’ve never tried to conceal that. Now my favorite manufacturer has finally released their CBD! I’m so excited!
Hawthorn berries* have long been used as a tonic herb for the heart and circulatory system. Hawthorn contains antioxidant flavonoids, including OPCs, may help dilate blood vessels, improve blood flow, and protect blood vessels from damage. Not only has the berries been used medicinally but also the leaves, and flowers of the hawthorn plant have been used, too.
Hawthorn is sometimes mixed in combination* with other heart friendly herbs, like Ginkgo biloba. Ginkgo also helps to work with the blood vessels to increase circulation. It has been shown of benefit in some studies to improve situations of hardening of the blood vessels and/or fat deposits in the blood vessels. It is only natural to pair this great herb with Hawthorn.
You may want to consider using Hawthorn alone or in a combination to help your heart.
*The items linked to this blog post are not necessarily those used in the studies referenced. They are linked in order to provide an example of products containing the herbs mentioned. If you do decide to purchase from my shop, I thank you now for supporting my business.
A ton of households in the world have a healing powerhouse plant on the window sill. It is the oldest medicinal plant on record and is sometimes referred to as “Lily of the Dessert.” Originating in Northern Africa, probably Sudan, Aloe Vera can grow 60 to 100 centimeters. This gives the succulent the potential to be taller than me! That is huge. ,
It is widely known to be of benefit to the skin (it makes an exceptional masque), especially when sunburn occurs, but aloe supplies other benefits some people may not know about.
We know the juicy insides of the aloe leaves can be good for the skin, but it is also good for an irritated gut. Studies show it can decrease stomach acid secretions (Keshavarzi, Z., Rezapour, T. M., Vatanchian, M., Zare, M., Nabizade, H., Izanlu, M., . . . Shahveisi, K. (2014, March). The effects of aqueous extract of Aloe vera leaves on the gastric acid secretion and brain and intestinal water content following acetic acid-induced gastric ulcer in male rats. Retrieved November 15, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25050311)
Think of it as a cooling gel pulling inflammation for the G.I. tract walls. With this pulling of inflammation, it also does some detoxifying. People suffering from hot, swollen conditions may want to consider giving aloe a whirl. This can result in a somewhat laxative effect. So if that is an issue for you, you may want to decrease how much you are using or discontinue use.
Aloe is chock full of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. It contains the vitamins A, C, E, folic acid, choline, B1, B2, B3 (niacin), B6 and B12 (rare in plants). Twenty minerals including calcium, magnesium, zinc, chromium, selenium, sodium, iron, potassium, copper, manganese are contained in the spiny-edged, stemless leaves. The enzymes in aloe (Aliiase, Alkaline phosphatase, Amylase, Bradykinase, Carboxypeptidase, Catalase, Cellulase, Lipase, Peroxidase) help to break down sugars and fats. Bradykinase, specifically, reduces inflammation (See the section above). These components make aloe a very nutritive plant.
Anthraquinones are present in Aloe, but just in the juice. Anthraquinones have analgesic, antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties. They can be toxic, but they are in just the right quantities to be okay in Aloe. If I am planning on consuming aloe vera juice, I prefer to use it in a prepackaged supplement from a company with a superb, complex quality control department and standards of procedure to ensure safety.
In one study I read, aloe was successfully used against H. pylori (a bacteria strain often implicated in gastric ulcers) in in-vitro studies.( Cellini, L., Di, S., Di, E., Genovese, S., Locatelli, M., & Di, M. (2014, July). In vitro activity of Aloe vera inner gel against Helicobacter pylori strains. Retrieved November 15, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24597562)
The results are very promising and combine aloe’s benefit for the gut and the immune system.
When I was growing up, my grandma was a huge proponent of Aloe. Every time I break off a leaf of my giant alow plant at home, I can’t help but feel she is happy with my choice.
You know what? Sometimes I just want people to be happy. I want them to be giddy. I want them to shut up, drop the everyday drama B.S. and just BE HAPPY! That’s right, DON’T WORRY, BE HAPPY! I understand. There’s some awful shit going on in the world. But, you are breathing. You are alive another day to try to improve things for yourself and those around you!
I mean, really. How does a person even attempt to get him or herself dislodged from that emotional shitty wasteland? There’s a mix of opinions out there. Of course, I have one, too.
There are a ton of supplements touted as being mood brighteners. Certain amino acids can be of assistance. Many supplements available in the USA are considered neurotransmitters in countries like Canada. Therefore, some of those supplements are not legally allowed to be sold. Personally, I am not convinced the best way to deal with mood issues are by directly tinkering with a person’s neurotransmitters. I prefer to use as many plant substances as possible.
Damiana (Turnera diffusa) is an herb I have suggested people use as a mood “brightener.” I feel it is an often overlooked gem of herbal tools. This plant is a native of Mexico, southern Texas, California, New Mexico and other south western areas. It is a shrub like bush with yellow flowers. The Mayan people used this plant for various reasons. It seems to have an overall tonic effect on the body (enhances digestion, etc). Because it is close, geographically, to where I live (the Great Lake region of the USA), it is AFFORDABLE!
Damiana is in the same botanical family as Passion flower. Incidentally, like Passion flower, it has long been prized as an anxiolytic. Anxiolytic is a fancy word meaning it helps to lessen anxiety symptoms.
“..it (Damiana) has long been prized as an anxiolytic. Anxiolytic is a fancy word meaning it helps to lessen anxiety symptoms.”
There has been research in to Damiana being an efficient aphrodisiac. Scientists have shown it increases the potency of “tired” rats, among other sexual side effects. Some of the studies I have read indicate this is due to Damiana increasing the nitric oxide in the blood stream.
Damiana acts as an aromatase inhibitor. This means it inhibits androgen from being made into estradiol (an estrogen sometimes linked to some types of cancers).
Damiana liqueur has a long history of use in Mexico and some claim it was used in the original recipe for Margaritas.
Damiana is very popular as a tea. It has a mild flavor. I do not add sweeteners to my teas, so it is nice this herb is not super bitter in flavor.
Encapsulated herbs is a simple and effective way to incorporate Damiana into one’s daily regimen. Be sure to find your Damiana from a company reputable for strict quality control and an excellent safety record.
*Note: excessive quantities of Damiana may cause loose stools (diarrhea).
*The studies mentioned and cited do not directly mention Nature’s Sunshine Products. Any Nature’s Sunshine Products purchased via the Herbchick’s Shop provide commissions for Lori the Herbchick….and she thanks you 😉
Damiana Benefits & Information (Turnera Diffusa). (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.herbwisdom.com/herb-damiana.html
MIND-BLOWING BENEFITS OF DAMIANA HERB. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://globalfoodbook.com/benefits-of-damiana-aphrodisiac
Szewczyk, K., & Zidorn, C. (2014). Ethnobotany, phytochemistry, and bioactivity of the genus Turnera (Passifloraceae) with a focus on damiana—Turnera diffusa. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 152(3), 424-443. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2014.01.019
Turnera diffusa – Wikipedia. (n.d.). Retrieved September 15, 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turnera_diffusa
If you read the previous couple posts, you notice a common theme: enzymes are essential. It is true, though, that some experts worry you could become dependent upon enzyme supplementation. They are concerned your body may decrease, or even stop, production of it’s own magic chemical catalysts. It is not my intention to guide anyone to that kind of state! So it should be mentioned that I use enzymes after heavy protein meals and during times of uncomfortable bloat. Holiday meals are one of these times. Hell…I’m just human. I have no more self control around the goodies than anyone else. This also means I am no stranger to the discomfort from the bloating and digestive pain which may accompany this type of event. That is when I break out the slam dunk of enzymes.
A general feeling a gastric distress is pretty common, from I have noticed from working with clients for over 22 years now. What are you supposed to do if you are one of these people experiencing the general feelings of light indigestion? You definitely do not want to discourage your body from making these essential chemical movers and shakers. They are the secret sauce that makes the chemical bonds dissolve and free the nutrients for your body to take in.
“Bitters” is a term identifying herbs containing certain components known as tannins and other constituents which give a bitter taste to the plant. Coffee is a common bitter, tannin possessing, beverage which falls in this category. Dark chocolate, dandelion greens (one of my favorites), green tea, and more are also members of this group. As I kid, I watched a lot of old movies (hey! I had no choice! We didn’t have cable on the farm). Remember how the sophisticates in the movies of the 1950’s would have a martini before big a dinner? Vermouth serves as a spirit AND as a bitter.
The bitter flavor serves a very important purpose. When the taste receptors in your mouth recognize the bitter flavors, they send a message to your brain as an advanced warning that food is going to be coming. This gets the juices flowing. The salivary glands start putting out the waterworks, the mucous membranes in the throat get ready to coat and swallow, the stomach starts churning. The intestines pick up peristaltic action. It’s kind of like pre-heating the oven before putting the bread in. It creates favorable conditions, like the secretion of bile for fats digestion, to allow for the best possible environment to achieve maximum conversion of the food you eat.
Now, think of the grocery store you go to every day. Just how much bitter stuff do you see? Even if you stick to the outside aisles, where the least processed foods normally reside, the shelves are filled with sweet tasting treats, creamy icings, bright colored fruits and veggies. There are very few true bitters sold in these areas any more. Arugula is an example of a bitter herb/salad fixing which works to stimulate digestive functions. So next time you get a before-dinner salad, don’t pick it out and set it off to the side, eat it. Trade in that sweet dressing and use a balsamic and olive oil blend instead, perhaps.
An aperitif is an alcoholic beverage containing bitter herbs used as a pre-meal sipper. Sales is a very popular liqueur in France flavored by one of the most popular, and efficient bitters, gentian. Hops in beer is also a very efficient bitter herb. This might explain why those people of German decent drink so much of it. Just imagine how it may help the digestive tract get prepared for the sausage dishes my ancestors loved! Dark, hop-sy beers are still bitter and I do like them, a lot. However, alcoholic beverages are not always an acceptable practice, especially in the workplace. Could you imagine the backlash on that? Holy Crimeny!!
How about an extract of herbs containing these bitter wonders, instead? One of my favorites is Digestive Bitters Tonic. It is safe for adults and children alike. It may help, just as all of the above mentioned bitters, to aid in the digestion processes. It even has a touch of stevia to take the edge off the bitterness and cardamom to relax the digestive tract just a bit to ease the expulsion of gas, etc (yes – I’m talking about burping and farting).
OK, so maybe enzymes aren’t exactly “magical,” but they definitely work magically wonderful. The minute you place food into your mouth, location specific enzymes are secreted to break down the simple sugars and starches. Salivary amylase (a.k.a. ptyalin), along with salivary lipase, goes to work on them to get a head start on those nutrients to break them down into smaller units for the next stages.
The stomach is where the proteins are broken down by Hydrochloric acid and pepsin (pepsinogen). The heat, acid, enzymes and churning actions of the stomach muscle go to work on the chewed (hopefully) food.
Notice, I said Hydrochloric acid digests protein. While many people have been conditioned to believe stomach acid is the cause for ills, it is actually very necessary. Pepsin even is dependent upon this acid being present to be active. Remember this when you see commercials for those very famous “purple pills” which shut off the proton pumps in the stomach. Proton pumps are where the acid is secreted. If they shut off, they decrease the stomach acid available to “turn on” the pepsin to get those proteins digested. So, yes, they decrease acid reflux….but they may increase indigestion and the feelings of bloat or nagging “rock in the gut” like complaints.
As the food moves out of the stomach, it enters the first part of the small intestine, called the duodenum. This is where the rest of the digestion initiates. Pancreatic amylase goes to work on the partially digested sugars and starches; trypsin and chymotrypsin start the end processing of the proteins; and fats are finally acted upon by lipase in bile. Other, more specialized enzymes, exist to aid in the digestion of certain things. One example is lactase breaking down milk sugar (called lactose). The pulsating waves of peristalsis move this ball of goo through the small intestines to the jejunum and the illium – each section possessing very different, specialized structures – and nutrients being taken into the blood stream by the millions of teeny blood vessels running throughout the organ. The stuff leftover (mostly fluids and fibers) are moved into the large intestine (colon) and the water absorption/regulation takes place.
Those who suffer from bloating, gas, bouts of constipation, and other gastro-intestinal issues may have seen advertisements for dietary enzymes supplements. They are marketed to relieve these types of complaints. Some are marketed to assist with specialty enzymes, like lactose and those which break down beans, in order to ease the symptoms of gastric distress felt by some.
There is some disagreement over whether or not these supplementations are even necessary. Some doctors argue a lot of the enzymes are digested before they even get to the proper spot to be of any use. Others are proponents and support their use, wholeheartedly. What is a confused consumer to do? My best advice is to use your head. Have you tried them? Did it increase your feelings of gastric distress or alleviate them? Do you have a medical condition like a peptic ulcer which would be irritated by them? These are questions only you can answer.
What I will say is this: I use enzymes. They help reduce my feelings of a brick being dropped into my gut and help regulate bowel movements. However, I do not feel enzyme supplementation should be “forever thing.” Of course there’s a lot of varied debate, but a “usual” recommendation is to use them for a few months and then ease off. They can be used after or during heavier (think larger) meals or intermittently. A multi-enzyme supplement may contain the following (but certainly is not limited to these):
These are both enzymes usually found in the body, and those found in some foods. However, if there is an acid deficiency or a low level of other enzymes, those food bound enzymes may not ever be “unlocked” to work. What a catch-22, huh?
The body was designed to secrete these on its own. As an herbalist, it is my job to suggest natural plant based items which may help your body do what it is designed to do. That being said, check in for the next installment regarding uses for enzymes which may interest you even more.
Sources (among others) :
I’m sure you have seen the commercials for laundry detergents using “enzyme action” to rid your clothing of stains. Perhaps you’ve heard of enzymatic products for cleaning other items, like certain metals? But do you really know what enzymes are?
According to the dictionary, enzymes are “a substance produced by a living organism that acts as a catalyst to bring about a specific biochemical reaction.” So every single act of breaking something down and putting things together in the body (or pretty much any living organism) is made possible by enzymes. Every single action form the replication of DNA and RNA all the way to breaking down nutrients is made possible by these specialty protein powerhouses. What I am going to concentrate on, here, are the enzymes responsible for digesting foods. These are commonly known as DIGESTIVE ENZYMES.
Digestive Enzymes are classified as hydrolases. These are the types of enzymes which break things down into tiny building blocks. There are many different types of enzymes. Each is specific to a certain type of food or food component. An example is pepsin and trypsin working specifically on proteins; or, lipase working directly upon dietary fats. But, where do these enzymes come from? Are we just born with them? Do we consume them?
Starch digestion begins in the mouth with the enzymes contained in saliva. This breaks down simple sugars as the food is mechanically broke down by the action of chewing. In the stomach, hydrochloric acid and pepsin work to break down the proteins as the stomach itself churns and works the food around (incidentally, did you know acid is required for the production of pepsin? hmmmm). The small intestine is where the liver and pancreas sends enzymes to break down the long chains of proteins into smaller and smaller amino acids which can then be adsorbed by the small intestinal walls, into the blood stream and sent out to the cells for fuel. These are the enzymes which the human body is responsible for producing by itself. This is a list of enzymes, along with their sources and functions: https://scioly.org/wiki/index.php/Digestive_Secretion_List
There are wsome enzymes present in the foods we eat which can act as digestive aids. An example of this is bromelain and its ability to help break down meats. When I was a kid, my grandma used to cook pork with pineapple. I’m sure it was because she liked the taste, but she was helping make that pork easier for our stomachs to digest. Many veggies and fruits contain enzymes with various beneficial roles.
Any damages to the lining of the gut (stomach and/or intestine) can impair the body’s ability to secrete enzymes and/or absorb the broken down food products. This can be very concerning as painful conditions like indigestion, acid reflux, etc often occur. And if you noticed my note above, acid is required for the activation of some enzymes. What catch 22!
The next series of post installments will deal with enzymes. I want to investigate their functions, benefits, and how you can use them to help yourself.
A plethora of stars have been in the spotlight lately for flipping their age to the big 6-0. Aging is one thing that no one escapes. We all get older, whether we like it or not. So what have these stars been stressing? SELF CARE.
That’s right, they have been stressing the importance of taking care of yourself. Eat right; sleep well; exercise…all of it…the total package. How many times have you heard, “take care of yourself or you won’t be able to take care of anyone else” ? As a mother, I hear it. However, for most of us it is much easier said than done. The biggest thing I have heard from my clients, and even myself, is the financial costs associated with purchasing supplements and/or the lost wages in taking the time away from income earning pursuits. I know the struggle. Believe me I understand! But I also understand what happens when a person gets so run down s/he cannot function any longer. Many times I catch myself pushing things to the limit. Throughout the years I have come down with influenza A, influenza B, multiple UTIs, and frequent migraines. I have found them to be challenging learning processes – very blunt life lessons taught through pain and humbling circumstances. I am now even more dedicated to taking care of myself. After all, it is truly the best insurance you could ever have!
Below is a video where I talk about self care being the best insurance a person can have. It is from a periscope live video I did a while back. I want to make sure all of you know I am dedicated to work with anyone who is dedicated to taking care of him or her self. I am open to discussing working with medical doctors, other natural practitioners, etc. After all, we are all on this planet together and we must all use every single resource possible to further the experience for all. So, watch the video and, as always, take care of yourself.
A lady once told me, “I don’t need to cleanse because I already poop three times a day.” Really? Is that all people think cleansing is? It only encompasses how many times a person manages to drop a deuce in a day?
This is what we get when people rush out to buy cheaply formulated “cleanse” products which only serve to purge the intestines. What the heck happened to common sense? Good cleanses do not merely move the bowels – and they most certainly do not move them in such a way that would cause irritation and swelling. While finding a cleanse which works for your individual body type and make up may take some time, do not blindly take cleanses which do nothing past turning you into a “salad shooter.”
There are different types of “cleanses” which range from something as simple as laying of the refined foods for a time and allowing your body to recoup from the burden of excess simple sugars, etc, all the way to target cleanses designed to get the bile moving to “flush” the liver. So let’s start with some common sense:
Any time you fill your body with fresh, whole foods and leave out overly processed foods, you may have a “cleansing response”
What does this mean? Well, if you eat peanut butter and high fructose corn syrup laden grape jelly on white bread washed down with a red cream soda every single day and then suddenly switch to all fresh veggies, you may experience some diarrhea, cramping, etc. This does not mean the veggies gave you diarrhea. They could have but only because your body is not used to them. Any time you upgrade the quality of your nutrition, you run the risk of the body throwing off excessive amounts of toxins. I have people tell me all the time, “I can’t eat vegetables. They give me diarrhea,” only to find out they only eat them once or twice a year! No WONDER they are giving diarrhea! The body doesn’t even know what the heck they are!
It all evens out
Unless the person has some odd-ball condition like some diverticulitis type of things (it does happen…and is not limited to diverticulitis), slowly progressing into a more whole diet will become easier for the body to tolerate. The explosive results should not stay. As I said, this is barring some condition like a food intolerance or diverticulitis, or some other dys-functional state of the body. Even then, cooking the veggies, or just a light steaming, can make them more tolerable.
Now, there are juice cleanses, colon cleanses, liver cleanses, kidney cleanses…really the list just keeps going on. The main type of cleanse I’d like to address is the kind which flush the liver. The liver is the main toxic waste sorting center of the body. Not all chemicals, but a lot of them, which circulate in the body go to the liver to be processed for disposal. It’s just like your garbage going into a chute in an apartment building. You toss it in the chute. It goes to the basement, maybe, where it is then moved to the holding area. There, it might be compacted or re-bagged, or tagged, or something to reprocess it for the purpose of getting it out of the building. That’s what the liver does. It processes these chemicals to get them out of your body. Usually this is done through a whole string of chemical reactions including methylation, and more. It can get extremely technical, but the end point being the liver turns these chemicals into substances which can be eliminated out of the body either through sweat, feces, urine, and even the vapors of the breath.
What I refer to as “good” cleanses contain some key components:
A liver flusher
Any herb which increases the flow of bile could fall in to this category. I like to use bitter greens like yellow dock or burdock paired with berberine containing herbs like Oregon grape root, etc. The increase in bile is thought to stimulate the process of ridding the body of toxins.
A fiber blend
This should be a blend of soluble and insoluble fibers. It should be gentle enough to not add to the irritation which may be occurring in the intestinal tract already. Also, it should not taste like a cardboard box just took residence in your mouth. I like to suggest a fiber blend containing things like psyllium (if tolerated. Some people have allergies to this one and do better on something else), marshmallow root, slippery elm, and more. This fiber blend can act as a sponge to oak up the bile. Then, it becomes a ball of goo which should work its way through.
A bowel mover
Too much fiber without locomotion makes a brick wall in your bowels. A bowel mover can be either a laxative like senna or an herb like Cascara Sagrada which acts by stimulating the parastalsis movements of the intestinal walls. I consider Senna to be equivalent to a jack hammer. Some people need this type of action. Others do not. However, be aware of the difference.
The bile which is thrown off can be extremely irritating to the bowel. There is no need to intentionally increase pain! That’s just crazy. That’s why I have suggested to some clients to add soothing, cooling herbs like some forms of aloe, yucca, or cat’s claw to their cleanses to reduce the potential for angry intestinal reactions.
A mood booster
Science has shown us that the gut has an enormous amount of nerve activity going on. It is now thought to function as a “second brain” and has more neurotransmitter receptors for compounds like serotonin, etc than any other part of the body INCLUDING THE BRAIN! Long used terms such as “a gut feeling” now take on new meaning since science is supporting the emotional link to gut health. Since the gut includes the intestinal system (it does not stop at the stomach), it only stands to reason that emotional support may be needed to help a cleanse go well. I like to use flower essences for this. Individual remedies may work, but I find the blends to do a much better job, overall.
Keeping the fluids flowing through the urinary system is a must! Dandelion, uva ursi, and other diuretic herbs may aid in keeping all the waters flowing in the proper direction.
Vitamin and Mineral support
Dandelion is such a wonderful herb. It is full of minerals necessary to keep the body balanced. Multi mineral and multi vitamin products may help as well. The trick is finding which one(s) work the best for you, individually.
These are just some places to start. Seeing a natural health consultant or herbalist who can help you narrow down your choices may be beneficial for you.