Herbs – Food and Medicine

Herbs have been used for centuries as both food and medicine. They are great natural remedies that help to nourish, cleanse and balance the human body.
Herbs tend to be greatly misunderstood. One of the first ways that people think when they want to restore health is allopathically. Allopathic means that a disease or condition is treated with a substance that causes the opposite effect of the symptoms. Examples of allopathic remedies include antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, beta blockers, proton pump inhibitors, calcium channel blockers, COX-2 inhibitors, etc.
Allopathy works to address symptoms. Symptoms are the body’s way of reporting an imbalance. Merely treating the symptoms does not address the cause of the imbalance. Treating just the symptoms tends to result in greater imbalance sometime in the future.
Finding the underlying causes for the chronic health problems suffered by most Americans always involves nutrition. In searching for answers, I always think of the confession in the Episcopal prayer book. What has been done that should not have been done and what should have been done that was left undone?
The answer typically involves more than just one simple pill. The issues tend to be complex and unique for each individual. In other words, your high blood pressure has a different underlying cause than my high blood pressure.
Part of the reason that the natural remedies seem to be so confusing is that what works for one person may not work for another. Natural remedies work when they correct the underlying cause of the condition and not because they are working to suppress a symptom of imbalance.
Herbs and natural remedies were not meant to be used allopathically except in certain acute situations. Herbs are natural, concentrated packages of particular nutrients that help correct the result of imbalances in nutrition. Specific herbs have an affinity for certain organs and glands. For instance hawthorn berry tend to nourish the heart muscle; dandelion cleans the blood; red beet root cleans and nourishes the liver, etc.
Another way that herbs tend to be misunderstood is the issue of quality. The health supplement industry is big business and with that goes some practices that are more about money than health. This practice is not limited to fly-by-night companies, but is rampant throughout some of the largest companies in the business.
Herbs are priced to the supplement companies based on their quality which is a factor of the level of active chemical constituents in the herb, the absence of pesticides and heavy metals, the area in which the herbs were grown, the method of harvesting, etc. The highest quality herbs go to the highest bidders which tend to be the most reputable herbal companies with strict quality control.
If you are going to use herbs, ask what quality control the supplier has. You may be surprised. Also, keep checking. Large pharmaceutical companies are buying supplement companies and the quality is changing – and not always for the better. Remember that full-service, independent health food stores usually have great information about quality.

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Water Retention – Get rid of the excess naturally!

Water retention bogs down many of us and is often a symptom of other health problems. Water balance within our bodies depends on many factors.
Poor kidney function will cause excess fluid to build up in the body. There are many herbs that act as diuretics while also being nutritive to the kidney and strengthening it over time. These include uva ursi, dong quai, juniper berrys, asparagus, burdock, dandelion and more. There are many good herbal blends available at health food stores.
Sodium/potassium balance controls fluid balance in the body. Sodium governs the fluid between the cells while potassium governs fluid within the cells. Sodium in general attracts water and increases the amount of fluid in our bloodstream and throughout our bodies. The increase in blood volume from high sodium intake results in high blood pressure, which explains why high blood pressure is sometimes treated with diuretics.
Potassium is depleted by diuretics. When our mineral stores of potassium get low, the body tends to hold onto this valuable mineral by retaining water. A more natural solution in managing excess fluid would be to decrease sodium intake and increase potassium intake. Supplementing potassium helps, but since potassium and sodium compete with each other for absorption, it is necessary to reduce sodium intake.
Histamine release due to allergies also causes water retention. Eating foods that you are sensitive to will cause water retention. The most common food sensitivities are related to wheat (both refined and whole), dairy, corn, citrus, sugar, soy, and food additives and/or preservatives. Several successful weight loss methods involve eliminating reactive foods resulting in loss of up to 10 pounds of water. If allergies make you puffy and bloated, supplements that help are quercetin, bromelain, and vitamin E.
Hormone balance also affects water retention. Excess estrogen in relation to progesterone tends to cause fluid retention. Excess estrogen is a problem common today since estrogen is in commercial meat and since there are estrogen mimicking chemicals in our environment and in our food supply. Vitamin B6 helps to block the salt-retaining effect of estrogen and is a good supplement to use cyclically for hormone related bloating and/or PMS.
Blood vessel weakness (capillary fragility) allows fluids to leak out into the tissues, resulting in water retention. Supplements that help strengthen vein walls such as rutin and butchers broom will help with this condition. Butchers broom is particularly effective if the fluid retention is due to poor circulation.
Finally, diets too low in protein or poor protein assimilation will contribute to water retention. Increasing the amount and/or quality of the protein in your diet along with adding digestive enzymes containing betaine HCL will help the body fluids normalize.
An interesting note about water retention: Traditional Chinese medicine links the water element to emotions. Too much water or water retention is related to depression.

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Sport Supplements – Naturally!

Sport supplements have been something I have left to the GNC’s and bodybuilders of the world.- that is until recently when Jeff did a lot of research into them. For all of us who are aging, but still like to play tennis, run, or exercise, there are some things that help.
My favorite is d-ribose – a sugar that occurs naturally in the body for fueling the muscles. There is a lot of research on d-ribose. It is used in fairly high levels for chronic fatigue, heart disease and fibromyalgia. And it is also useful for people like me who like being active. What I like about it is that it keeps that spring in my step and helps keep me from getting sore. It is available in powders and chewable tablets. We usually have a sample open, so stop by if you would like to try it.
Branched-chain amino acids are another product that helps improve performance and reduce muscle breakdown during intense exercise. I have used these in much smaller doses than recommended with good results. These amino acids are actually useful in other areas. According to WebMD, they are used to treat ALS, brain issues related to hepatitis and to slow muscle wasting in people confined to bedrest. Some people use them to increase energy and concentration.
The other part of sports related issues deals with injury. There are some really good natural pain relievers that help reduce inflammation and pain while helping the body recover. I am not fan of NSAIDS, such ibuprofen and acetaminophen, as they do reduce pain and inflammation, but they interrupt the recovery process and block cartilage formation.
One of the best selling natural supplements in the nation for pain, swelling and bruising due to injuries is arnica montana, a homeopathic that is very safe. There are several forms of arnica – pills and gel, plus it is part of successful formulas such as Traumeel. There is also a great spray form that includes MSM and boswellia.
Another great supplement for inflammation is enzymes. Some people like bromelain – an enzyme from pineapple. Our best seller is something called Intenzyme that helps reduce inflammation. These enzymes have to be taken on an empty stomach so that they will break down inflammation instead of digesting your food . They also will thin the blood, so people on blood thinning medication cannot take them. These enzymes will also help reduce symptoms of gout and can be used for chronic inflammation such as arthritis.
I also use herbals for pain and inflammation. I like blends of boswellia, devils claw and white willow bark. Yucca is another herb that is useful – especially with bone, ligament or cartilage damage. I recently used a blend of these on one of my horses who injured his stifle and now have him back ready to ride.
There are many good supplements on the market. Find a good quality product that works for you and get naturally free of pain and inflammation while increasing your energy and decreasing your recovery time.

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Nucleotides – Great when you need them!

Nucleotides are a somewhat new product. They are the building blocks for DNA and RNA – the nucleic acids that are found in every cell of the body.
Nucleotides can promote an instantaneous boost in both immunity and energy. They are credited with helping our bodies repair themselves, creating new tissue, maintaining a strong immune system and conducting many other important functions. They are found in high concentrations in breast milk and are now routinely added to infant formula – but adults need them too.
Nucleotides are added to the diet of astronauts to help prevent the physical problems that occur as a result of space travel such as immune suppression, physical exhaustion and bone and muscle loss.
Nucleotides are stored in a limited quantity in your liver. Trauma, surgery, infection and other stresses can rapidly deplete the body’s stores of nucleotides. For people whose immune systems are impaired by conditions such as age, illness, chemotherapy, surgery and malnutrition, supplemental nucleotides can help the body have the materials it needs to repair itself. One study published in the Journal of Critical Care Medicine found that giving critically ill patients nucleotides reduced the overall length of their hospital stays by almost three days.
Ongoing research is looking at the role of nucleotides in inhibiting tumor cells, improving circulation and peripheral nerve function, and stimulating neurotransmitters production for memory and brain function. The RNA component of nucleotides acts like an electrolyte and helps the brain hold energy and perform functions such as balance and memory better.
On colds and flus, research shows that nucleotides can diminish the symptoms and duration of both. In research trials, nearly all patients on a therapeutic course of nucleotides reported significantly less discomfort associated with the symptoms of colds and flu and experienced a substantially accelerated recovery. I have used nucleotides in my practice on both acute and chronic immune issues with remarkable success.
Nucleotides are found not only in supplements, but in certain foods such as brewers yeast, sardines, seafood, radishes, asparagus, mushrooms and onions. These foods are recommended in anti-aging diets based on the research of Dr. Benjamin Frank who found that the people who followed his anti-aging diet of nucleotide rich foods seemed to literally reverse symptoms of aging – their wrinkles disappeared, their gray hair began turning dark and their skin appeared more youthful.
Consider adding nucleotides to your diet or supplement regimen if you need an immune or energy boost.

Note:  For those of you that understand muscle testing – one of the brain reflex points strengthens with nucleotides.  This can be helpful with tremors, muscle weakness, balance issues, etc.

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