The energy center located between the eyebrows is Ajna. It is thought this sixth chakra is concerned with an individual’s perception, reality, intuition, and ability to manifest. In short, this center has to do with a person’s ability to see, both inner sight (insight) and outer sight.
The pineal and pituitary glands have both been associated with ajna.
The pineal is about the size of a Lima bean or so and sits right behead the skull at this brow location. It was misunderstood for a very long time and research in recent years is just beginning to scratch the surface of its function. We do know it produces melatonin and is very receptive to light. This is one reason experts suggest avoiding blue light emitting screens, etc at bed time.
The pineal is thought by some to be the true third eye. Some believe the nuerotransmitters made by the pineal gland are the key to transcending the physical plane. We do know the nuerotransmitters it produces seem to be helpful in the management of pain. Unfortunately, certain minerals and compounds, like flouride, can cause the pineal to harden and diminish in function.
The pituitary gland is considered to be the “master gland.” It sits about center of the brain and us approximately the size of a large pea. It produces hormones which trigger the release of other hormones from other glands – almost acting as the conductor of an orchestra. From alternative practitioner’s perspective I can say both glands associated with ajna seem to be highly reactive to various alternatives including herbals and essential oils.
Essential oils for the third eye chakra
Sandalwood essential oil is considered beneficial for the sixth chakra, as well as frankincense essential oil. Isn’t it wonderful that these two are the base scents in much of the incense used in religious temples and churches throughout the world! They calm the mind and are used to spur contemplation through meditation.
Herbs for ajna
Gotu kola is very nourishing for the brain. It has been studied extensively for its promise in aiding or boosting the memory. This is due to its ability to boost oxygen supplies to the brain. A common name for it, Brahmi, indicates its godlike nature.
Ginkgo also has been studied for similar features. The law of signatures is often sited due to the gingko leaves looking like the lobes of a brain.
Both of these herbs can be found as single supplements or in blends. I like to suggest Nature’s Sunshine’s Gotu Kola, available in the shop, here on this site. You can find a time released Gingko in my shop as well. The blend Master Gland also supplies many nutrients and trace minerals blended with herbs often used to support the glandular system.
**purchasing items from the shop section of this site does help to supply me with an income and keeps the information coming. I appreciate all those who decide to become a customer.
The third eye is associated with meditation. Since it is the chakra associated with self reflection, it is only fitting to suggest taking a moment each and every day to reflect on the inner self as well as the outer self. There are many YouTube videos supplying tonal wavelengths thought to enhance the experience.
As I sit here, typing this post, I am overcome by just how much I have been at a loss of words as of late. I have been neglecting writing this post. I have said I was going to post it. I have planned on posting it. I have stared at the blank text box where I type the content for hours. It is not like me to struggle for words. I was gifted the the ability to “shoot the shit,” as my regular gas station customers would claim back in th’day. I feel it is this ability that always put me in a position to find out the stories people had to tell and compose them into articles for the local newspapers. Use words to get words. However, the words have been difficult to string together. I feel as if I have dropped the proverbial ball on this one. That’s when I finally was able to see the difficulty.
The energy center of your words
Vissudha is the energy center associated with the area of the throat, ears, mouth, shoulders, and neck. Also known as Shekhem in some ancient Egyptian healing traditions, it has to do with words. Words are just sounds strung together in order to have a uniform means of communication. This center has to do with speaking words, hearing words, listening and processing those words. It is literally where each being produces sounds of communication and takes in the sounds around us to be processed. This energy center is all about finding the truth in those sounds – finding what resonates within each of us as a unique individual.
Let me paint this picture for you: I was let go from my job. This is something that has never happened to me before. I began experiencing swollen glands in my neck, stiff neck, cold sores, itchy ears, sore throats, and a variety of other physical symptoms centered around the throat and neck area. I bombed some interviews – also not like me. I was not able to get my point across and I really don’t want the jobs anyway. There was at least one question at every single interview where I swear I heard crickets chirping because I had absolutely no answer for the interviewer. Every rejection email added to the voices in my head telling me what a terrible person I am for not being productive enough to stay employed. I must be the absolute most useless human being on the planet, right? I found myself lashing out some days. Other days I would just stay in and cry. The most heartbreaking thing of all was not being to craft my words.
I tried so hard. I would read and research. Everything would seem perfect, yet when I sat in front of the keyboard, I would get sucked into the time vortex of despair. I was (and in some ways, I still do) sucking in all of the negative and hard-wiring it into my psyche. There are no words to write when you truly believe no one wants to read your writing. There are no words to speak when there is no one to listen to your sounds.
A small request
This is where I have to thank a reader. I don’t know who it is. I don’t know why they sent the comment. But I received a feedback form form my site, here. Usually they spam…not going to lie. Internet spam constitutes a huge quantity of the bullshit on the internet. It is the junk mail of the cyber world. Mixed in with the many emails guaranteeing me increased web traffic and foolproof sales funnels and all of the straight gimmicky shit out there, was one small message: “Make a more new posts please :)”
This message is why I forced myself to re-read about the throat chakra. This one positive, tiny request is what led me to see I was suffering from a blocked Vissuddha or Shekmet. I owe that reader a thank you.
This chakra is associated with the color blue. It is thought to be closely aligned with the thyroid and parathyroids. The thyroid gland is butterfly shaped and sits at the base of the neck, close to the voice box. It controls much of the functions of metabolism. The parathyroids are tiny granular balls that sit atop the “wings” of the thyroid. As far as it is known at this time, the parathyroids play a large part in regulating various minerals, most notably calcium.
This is the chakra, or energy center, of creativity and communication. The challenge associated with this center is “do I have the the right to communicate”. Animals often associated with this area include the elephant, bull, and lion (think of loud, throaty, vocal animals).
Essential oils that may be beneficial
Frankincense: regarded as Holy oil; beneficial in cases of under active thyroid. Rich, deep, and sweet, it is said it increases spiritual awareness and connection with the divine within.
Geranium: Sweet and citrus-rosy, it is used to calm down sore throats, clear oily skin, and move stagnant energy in the body. Creates a feeling of safety and security; used to ease nervous tension and promote a sense of well-being.
Jasmine: has a beneficial effect on the voice. It is used in cases of hoarse voice. It is said to penetrate the deeper layers of the soul and open us up to repressed emotional pain, allowing energy flow through the throat chakra. Enhances greater communication of our feelings, enhancing relationships and intimacy.
Sage: ancient sacred herb and a master healer. Traditionally used to heal gum disease. It is said to ease depression and mental fatigue, opening up channels in the upper body and chest area and allowing for energy to flow more freely.
Cypress: decongestant and detoxifying properties; used to stimulate the flow of lymphatic fluid, clearing build up toxins. traditionally used for bleeding gums, bronchitis, and respiratory congestion. Fresh, herbaceous, slightly woody, it is thought to aid with transformation and inner renewal.
Peppermint: Minty and sharp; long used to freshen breath, for respiratory infections, and to ease headaches due to congestion; invigorates and stimulates the mind and has a direct action on the intellect. It promotes creativity and self expression.
Eucalyptus: Fresh, medicinal, with a woody scent; historically used to calm inflammation of the nasal passages, clear sore throat, and sinusitis. It is said to promote well-being and opens inner space when we feel overwhelmed or constricted by our environment. It promotes the feeling of inner freedom and expansiveness.
Clove: very strong, spicy oil that has been traditionally used for mouth, tooth, and gum tissue healing. It has been said to be used to assist in regulation of the thyroid gland, dissolving blood clots, and removing stagnation in the blood. It is thought to help to create feelings of protection and safety and promote good sleep.
Tea Tree: fresh, medicinal aroma; used for thousands of years to treat a variety of fungal, bacterial and viral infections; strong antiseptic and has immune building properties. It is said to enhance, harmonize, and possibly promote cleansing and purity.
Affirmations that may be of use
I am open, clear, and honest in my communication.
I have a right to speak my truth.
I communicate my feelings with ease.
I express myself creatively through speech, writing, or art.
I have a strong will that lets me resolve my challenges.
I nourish my spirit through creativity.
I live an authentic life. I have integrity.
I love to share my experiences and wisdom. I know when it is time to listen.
I express my gratitude towards life.
I listen to my body and my feelings to know what my truth is.
**DISCLOSURE: any products ordered from the links to The Herbchick’s Shop do pay me a small commission. These commissions, along with selling my books, paid speaking events, and so-forth, are how I make a living. I thank you for your purchase(s).
If you follow my blog you’ll notice that I’ve had quite the break in between posts. It’s because I’ve been wanting to post about the heart chakra for a while, but I was feeling that my heart was not in the right place to do so. You see, I took a job that I thought would allow me more freedom and it was in the arena of what I went to school to do. However, what happened was I started to feel as though I was losing myself. Everyday became more stressful. My days became consumed with worry about making sales goals. And honestly, I really just don’t feel that my heart was in it.
I’ve been gone from that job a little over a month now. I’ve gone through a grieving and mourning process. I’ve worked through my feelings of failure. I kind of feel like I’m starting to ReDiscover what brings me joy in life. That, is very good for my heart.
So this inkling of joy leads me here, to my happy place…to my blog….to my business. It is, after all, where I want to be. When i went through all of the health issues way back at age 16 and 17, i wasn’t very joyful. I was depressed and melancholy and generally felt like shit on a daily basis. When herbs and natural methods made me feel good, I wanted to share this success with others so they could feel good, too.
This is where the heart chakra comes in. Anahata is the sanskrit word for the heart chakra. Its associated with the color green and is thought to be located in the center of the chest. So perhaps it is best to think of it as being just behind the breast bone. Anatomically, this is the location of the thymus, and the anatomical heart sits just slightly to a person’s left of that.
Anahata is the energy center that allows us to connect with unifying forces in the universe. It aids in each person realizing they are a part of a greater whole. It’s where bonds with other living things are created. It houses caring, compassion, self-love, altruism, generosity, kindness and respect – for self and others. It can be destroyed by grief.
When these are in balance there is joy, warmth, and love about a person. You can imagine the expressions of imbalance, can’t you? Note, this is also the chakra that allows people to say no, with grace, and not over extend him or her self.
It is associated with the element of air…amazing since the lungs are in this area, too. The color green is assigned to it. Yarrow, an herb looked to as an “attitude adjuster” is often associated with Anahata, as are the scents of jasmine, lavender and rose. (Yarrow, as well as lavender, jasmine and rose essential oils are available for order in the The Herbchick’s Shop)
Affirmations for the heart chakra
I am open to love.
Love resides within my heart.
I completely love and accept myself.
I am wanted and loved.
I live in balance, in a state of gracefulness and gratitude.
The solar plexus energy center is slightly below the stomach level of the human body. When it comes to chakras, this energy center is referred to as Manipura.
Manipura is the center of the ego, or willpower. Muladhara (root) is centered around existence and survival. Svadhisthana (second/sacral) is about creative force and experiencing pleasure. Manipura is the development of a sense of self. It is the seat of actions and behaviors like self control and self empowerment. It is associated with the subtly of the element of fire.
Manipura in balance
When this energy center is balanced, a person seem to move about others in an effortless manner. He/she has a self-confidence and a relaxed nature. When this energy center is not in balance, the person is harried or constantly stressed. When it is out of balance toward the over-active the individual seems as if s/he is dragging the world about on her/his shoulders. When it is under active the person may seem overly meek and too timid to live.
Physically, this energy center is seated in the digestive system. The digestive system takes in, breaks down and assimilates the nutrients in food. It may be beneficial to think of Manipura as the center at which a person assimilates life. Is it a fight (over active)? Is it just another function that happens (balanced)? Or is life a force that runs the person over (under active)?
Digestion is also thought of as a hot process in the body. Heat and acid digest foods while it is being churned in the stomach and then moved through to the beginning of the small intestine where chyme is added to neutralize the burning acids. So if you think about it, it is where you would find fire (heat, burning) in the human body. Digestive functions of the liver, gall bladder, gut are associated with this chakra.
Yellow is the assigned color to this chakra. This is also the color of flames as they lick up from a roaring fire. The endocrine glands of the adrenals and pancreas are also tied into this chakra. This would indicate there is a sweetness associated with being secure in one’s self, or feeling secure in the development of one’s ego.
Let’s boil this down a bit
I know all of the stuff above seems like gobbledy gook…new age drivel. However, let’s look at it this way: This chakra is your fire in life. It is effected by how much zeal you have for living. If you are secure in yourself, you go for the gusto in a realistic manner and with realistic expectations/fears. If this center if off balance, you have excess stress which may effect the gut and digestion, and/or your body’s ability to manage stress (adrenals and pancreas). Does this mean everything can be simplified down to just utilizing some tools for Manipura and all your ills will go away? Heck no! But they could help, so maybe give them a shot!
Affirmations that may help
I love and accept myself.
I am secure in my own power.
I am strong and courageous.
I am worthy of love, kindness, and respect.
I choose the best for myself.
I express myself in a powerful way.
I am proud of my achievements.
I honor my self.
I choose to engage in healthy relationships.
I am authentic.
I am the director of my own life.
I value my strengths.
I stand up for myself.
I am free to choose in any situation.
I seek opportunities for personal and spiritual growth.
I am at peace with myself.
Essential oils that may be of assistance with Manipura:
Citrus essential oils
Herbs that may benefit Manipura:
**Please know that that any products purchased from my shop or from links I post supply me with either direct or passive income (affiliate marketing links). I appreciate each and every purchase. You, as a customer, help to support me and my business and keep this website going.
We covered the root chakra, which is considered the base chakra. That is the foundation upon which all of one’s energy is based. Next is the second chakra called Svadhishthana. It is said to be located two inches below the navel. It is represented by the color orange and it’s symbol includes a crescent moon.
This chakra is the energy center of sweetness. It is said to sit in the pelvic area and corresponds to pleasure and enjoyment. This is a step above the concerns of survival attached to the root chakra. It is thought to be associated with feelings and sensations, most notably the feelings and sensations of pleasure, sensuality, intimacy and connection. These are feelings associated with “living in the moment.” How many people so you know who are always thinking about the past and dealing with depression; or those people who are experiencing anxiety about the future? A counselor I once saw told me, “when you have one foot in yesterday and the other in tomorrow, all you do is piss all over today.” This is so very true.
Svadhishthana is also the energy center associated with creativity. I like to remember this as the pelvis being the “cradle of creation.” Really – it is! The uterus is there. It is where the egg and sperm unite to create life. It is also the energy used to “birth” new ideas, works of art, inventions, and so forth. So really, this energy center has to do with connecting to the creative power and power to create change within ourselves.
Obviously there are physical issues that are associated with this energy center. Dysfunctions of the sex organs and urinary system are tied to Svadhishthana. Emotionally, it is tied to feelings of disconnectedness. So while the root is all about feeling like you will survive, the next one up is all about feelings of being connected to those around you (family, friends, significant other, etc). Enjoying the emotions associated with this center are often misunderstood and we are taught at an early age they should bring feelings of guilt. Guilt is a huge challenge associated with Svadhishthana.
I am a huge fan of affirmations. Self-talk, as many refer to the thoughts we run through our minds, can leave lasting results. Negative self-talk results in negative feelings toward our selves; defeatist attitudes can arise; depression and anxiety can then follow. It only then stands to reason that affirmations can result in some positive self-talk. And this positive self-talk can illicite responses that are more positive in nature. This then just snowballs and results in well-being.
Some affirmations that may help:
I love and enjoy my body.
I have healthy boundaries.
I am open to experiencing the present moment through my senses.
I am passionate.
I feel pleasure and abundance with every breath I take.
I nourish my body with healthy food and clean water.
Energy centers are not a new concept in alternative healing. For thousands of years traditional modalities like Ayurveda (Indian in origin) and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) have acknowledged these energy centers. In the west, they are becoming increasingly popular. The New Age popularity of chakras (energy centers) has almost trivialized the existence of them. Many now consider the idea of various energy centers in the body as “hippy nonsense” or “psuedo-guru goobledy gook.”
Chakras are not made up
Chakras, as they are laid out in Traditional Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine, do have certain placements which correspond to what we now know are major endocrine organs. Given the time of the development of the ideas of a chakra system, it is entirely plausible that the healers of the time knew there was something in this area, but not exactly what. The endocrine system function and mechanisms are still being studied and new things are discovered all the time. It is not unusual that people gave their best understanding of something when attempting to understand. Let’s face it! It hasn’t been that too long ago since doctors suggested the root cause of disease was bad blood and utilized leeches.
It can be a difficult task to visualize energy. Throughout the ages, chakras have been assigned locations and colors and so forth. In order to better understand the chakra system and why it could possibly be important to you in our modern times, I figure the best place to start would be the root. The root chakra is located at the base of the spine. It is though to encompass the very bottom of the pelvic area and the first three vertebrae (from bottom to top). It’s energy is associated with the color red because of the frequency associated with its energy. For now, I’m not going to go just too deep in to the frequencies, etc. In Sanskrit the name for this chakra is Muladhara. It is thought to govern a person’s relationship with physical needs (i.e. food, water, shelter); the feelings of trust, acceptance, mental health…..those mental health aspects that make a person “well grounded.”
Disfunction in the Muladhara (root chakra) may manifest as one of the following:
-Kidney function, bladder irritation
-Foot & knee pain
-Anxiety and extreme fears
-Addictive behaviors and/or a lack of self esteem
-Lower back pain
-Gynaecological issues, accompanied with bleeding or circulatory issues
Food and herbs to feed Muladhara
Red foods are thought to support this chakra. Red beets, acai berries*, and so forth can be delicious additions to your diet. Some red anti-oxidant packed juices* may be of assistance. Warm, nurturing foods that provide sustenance are excellent supporters of this chakra (think along the lines of steel cut oats or quinoa porridge). Red Raspberry* has often been used as a toning herbs for the uterine muscles and is highly encouraged by herbalists (including me) throughout pregnancy. It is high in iron, too. Red Clover* is used as a blood purifier. (See the color hint there?)
Supplements high in iron can feed the body’s need for iron. Low iron is considered to be one issue that could be effected by a week root chakra. Liquid drinks high in copper chlorophyllins* can be sued as they supply easily bio-accessible iron.
The kidneys filter waste from the blood. They are thought to be closely associated with the emotion of anger or extreme fear. Increasing one’s water intake can aid in kidney function. It would, in a way, be supplying your body with its basic needs instead of denying them. Lemon added to the water can act as a light diuretic. Astringent herbs like Uva Ursi* (a.k.a bearberry) and Juniper Berries* can help to pull more fluids through the kidneys.
Mental and emotional practices
Meditation and similar techniques (like guided imagery) have been used to try to work on the mental aspects associated with this chakra. It is common in some practices to focus upon a symbol for this chakra while meditating. While this is not my strong area of expertise, I find it interesting that the symbol corresponding to Muladhara is square, much liek the sturdy foundation of a house that makes conenction to the earth and supplies the support for the rest of the structure. It is not a far stretch to think of the functions associated wiht this chakra as being foundations of life. This is the chakra upon which all others are built.
“Rooting” is sometimes suggested. This is where a person works on imagining the root chakra connecting with the earth. Some people refer to this as “grounding” or “earthing.” It is making a physical connection with the earth. Many do this by walking barefoot upon soil. Some find benefit through imagining a root anchoring him/her to the ground. Whichever method(s) you choose, it is clear why this energy center is important.
To truly gain a solid foundation in your own health and wellbeing, addressing the care of the root chakra is important. Whether you think of this energy center as a literal or a figurative thing is not where the emphasis should lie – but instead think of the wonderful ways you can work to build a better foundation for your body, your mind and your spirit.
*This asterisk identifies hyperlinks which lead you to products in The Herbchick’s Shop. While my blog reflects no one brand in particular, I have included these links to make purchasing or trying these products easier for you, my reader. I do make a commission from my sales. It is one way I make a living. You are under no obligation to use the products I sell, but if you do, I sincerely appreciate your business and know that you are supporting one more small business in America. Thank you
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!
How does a person ditch the “hell in a hand-basket” mood?
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.
How do I use Damiana?
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
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.
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.