Get the word out about echinacea – great for defeating colds

It’s amazing how many people don’t know about Echinacea (let alone how to pronounce it)…

The powdered flower is used to increase the white blood cells in our body which fight colds and flu.

My own personal experience with echinacea is so good that I recommend it all the time. It stops me getting worse when I’m run down.

Come to think of it there are loads of herbal remedies which people find useful for different purposes. Schwabe make a product called EchinaCold, but they also make various other concoctions for migraines, depression, sleep problems, indigestion, coughs and stress… The list goes on.

For those of us who prefer to use herbal remedies Schwabe make a useful source of medicinal treatments, all with the Traditional Herbal Remedy certification mark.

 

Garlic + CoQ10 = Cardiovascular Protection for Stressed Men

After one year of aged garlic extract plus CoQ10, the vascular elasticity in firefighters improved significantly, reports Maureen Williams, ND

A study has found that men at high risk for heart attack had better blood vessel function after one year of taking a combination of aged garlic extract and coenzyme Q10, two supplements that have been found separately to have cardiovascular benefits.

Blood vessels are specially designed to respond to the ever-changing blood flow needs in different parts of the body. Healthy blood vessels are elastic, flexible, and strong, but many people unknowingly have low-level chronic inflammation in their blood vessel walls, causing the walls to become thicker and less flexible, and increasing heart attack risk. Supplements with anti-inflammatory properties, like aged garlic and CoQ10, are thought to help.

Signs of vessel disease in men with stressful work

Stress is well known to play a role in heart disease. The study, published in Nutrition, included 65 male urban firefighters. Firefighting is stressful work and firefighters have a much higher risk of heart attack and sudden cardiac death than the overall population. Participants were assigned to receive either 1,200 mg of aged garlic extract plus 120 mg of CoQ10 per day or placebo for one year. Tests that reflect the degree of thickening and loss of elasticity in blood vessels, which may be signs of atherosclerosis, were done at the beginning of the study and every three months.

Supplements support blood vessels

Based on these test results, the blood vessels of the firefighters who took garlic and CoQ10 had more elasticity and better responsiveness at the end of the study than at the beginning. These improvements were significant when compared to the slight worsening of blood vessel function seen in the firefighters in the placebo group.

In addition, blood levels of CRP (C-reactive protein) dropped in the garlic plus CoQ10 group but increased in the placebo group. CRP is a marker of inflammation in the cardiovascular system and high levels are associated with increased cardiac risk.

The link between blood vessel function and heart health

Although these results don’t tell us for sure whether aged garlic extract plus CoQ10 can prevent heart attacks, improvement in blood vessel function is a good sign that vessel damage from atherosclerosis—a known risk factor for heart attack—is being repaired.

“This is the first study to demonstrate a benefit with a combination of aged garlic extract and CoQ10 on atherosclerotic progression in intermediate-risk firefighters with high occupational stress,” the study’s authors said. “The present study demonstrates that, after one year of aged garlic extract plus CoQ10, the vascular elasticity and endothelial function in firefighters improved significantly.”

Other ways to improve vascular health

Taking an aged garlic extract plus CoQ10 supplement might be a good idea if you have or are at high risk for developing atherosclerosis. Here are some other things you can do to protect your blood vessels:

  • Learn to relax. Blood vessels are especially sensitive to stress, and studies show that having a daily relaxation practice can reduce your cardiac risk.
  • Exercise. Your blood vessels need a healthy workout every day. Make aerobic physical activity part of your regular routine.
  • Eat fruits and vegetables. The antioxidants in fruits and vegetables are essential for preventing inflammation that leads to damage and dysfunction in blood vessel walls.

(Nutrition 2012;doi:10.1016/j.nut.2012.03.016)

Maureen Williams, ND, completed her doctorate in naturopathic medicine at Bastyr University in Seattle and has been in private practice since 1995. With an abiding commitment to access to care, she has worked in free clinics in the US and Canada, and in rural clinics in Guatemala and Honduras where she has studied traditional herbal medicine. She currently lives and practices in Victoria, BC, and lectures and writes extensively for both professional and community audiences on topics including family nutrition, menopause, anxiety and depression, heart disease, cancer, and easing stress. Dr. Williams is a regular contributor to Healthnotes Newswire.

Win the De-Stress Diet book

The De-Stress DietMost of us want to be slim, cool, calm and collected.

But any time I try a diet I tend to be irritable, hungry and frustrated.

Clear links have been made between stress and weight gain (most of us call it comfort eating). This year a new diet book has been released that takes account of life’s stresses and still helps us lose weight.

Written by Charlotte Watts and Anna Magee (and published from Hay House), The De-Stress Diet is designed to help you feel calm, explore what suits your body and discover how to live as nature intended (as much as you possibly can in this modern world).

For your chance to win this book send me an email with your name and address, and I will announce the winner in the next newsletter (competition closes 26th july 2012, UK addresses only).

How to get rid of that slugish feeling

How to overcome constipation, a toxic colon and diarrhoea once and for all.My husband has a stressful job.  He’s the sales manager of an ever growing company.  The expectation to exceed the target (let alone meet it) for that month is always there. Now don’t get me wrong, he enjoys it immensely. He works with a fantastic bunch of people who all pull their weight. No one slacks.  But the pressure and therefore the stress is still there.Why do I tell you this? Well let’s just say stress affects your body in many different ways. For my Husband, Ben, it affects his stomach and digestive system. Which leads me onto my point.

Book Cover
I’ve been reading this book – How to overcome constipation, a toxic colon and diarrhoea once and for all, written by Peter Jackson and I’ve got 10 copies to give away to those that need a little extra help.   Now by the title you would think it was all about, well, poo. But it’s not. Well it is, but its not.

Read on and see how this book has changed my husbands life.

Right from the very moment you put something in your mouth it will affect your bowls in many different ways depending on a very small yet extremely important fact.

How long do you chew your food?

In this day and age we are very busy.  Much of the food we eat is ‘on the go’ so that’s bad for us… and even if it is home made, if we don’t chew enough then its still causing our body stress.

The point of chewing our food is not only to break it down so we can swallow it comfortably, but to get our saliva into the food.  Our saliva is packed with enzymes that help break down the carbohydrates for absorption. It is actually recommended that you chew your food until it has turned to liquid! (meal times have just got longer!)

Next, it travels down to the stomach where the breaking down really begins.  Now if you haven’t chewed your food until it is liquid then your stomach is going to have to break down the lumps. If the food is the ‘Wrong type of food’ (I will get on to that later) then your stomach acids (gastric acid) will find it impossible to dissolve the bonds between the food molecules properly causing your body more stress. Obviously some things take a lot longer to break down and therefore sit in your stomach for several hours before being moved on to the small intestines.

After the stomach comes the small intestine and it is said that 80% of the nutrient absorption takes place in the small intestine. So this is an important place.

If the food you have eaten is either the wrong type of food or hasn’t been broken down enough whilst chewing or by your stomach acids then this can be where the trouble really begins.  Your intestines produce a mucus to help lubricate the digestive tract making it easier for the unwanted food to slip through the colon. HOWEVER if the walls of your colon are coated with unwanted waste from previous attempts of digestion then your gonna get into some trouble!

One of the main points of your colon is to absorb water from the waste on its way through. However if it cant come in contact with it as the walls of your colon are coated then you will end up with what is known as diarrhoea. And this will continue until you start to look after your inners a little more and think about what you are eating.

What should I eat? Wrong foods, right foods.

Well we all know that plenty of fibre is good for us. (especially those that are having a little trouble in the ‘passing’ area) but did you all know there are 2 different types of fibre?  I certainly didn’t until I read this book.

  • Insoluble Fibre
  • Soluble Fibre

Bran FlakesWhat’s  the difference?

>Well, in a nut shell, insoluble fibre will push things through your system but in a fairly rough manor.  For example, you may eat, say bran flakes (made from wheat bran) and they will go through you fairly quickly but in fact they are what’s known as roughage. As they travel through they will have a scratching affect which could make any sensitive situation worse.

Muesli

Soluble fibre… now that’s a different story.  Found in many fresh vegetables, beans, pulses, whole grains and fruit.  A great source of soluble fibre is oats.  When oats travel through your system, instead of having a scratching affect, they have a cleansing affect.  This means that they clean your colon on the way through, keeping the walls free from anything that is clinging where it shouldn’t be, making the process a lot more comfortable

‘Bad Foods’

Things containing wheat, gluten, dairy, or red meat and sweet things.

What can I eat???

The point isn’t that you need to get rid of all these things completely, but that you need to know just how much of something you are having.  Wheat for example manages to sneak into so many things nower days it’s almost unbelievable! and dairy is not far off either. Our bodies aren’t made to handle the amount of wheat and dairy that many of us consume.

Dairy- People believe that you need to have dairy to make sure you get enough calcium, but actually calcium and magnesium are a double act, so without one the other wont work.  you can get a lot of what you need for calcium and other minerals from the following

  • Sardines
  • Almonds
  • Watercress
  • Parsley
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Quinoa
  • Walnuts
  • Salmon
  • Eggs
  • Brown Rice
  • Chicken
  • Kelp
  • Molasses

And if your still in doubt then you can always take a calcium & magnesium supplement.

Meat –  Now if you are a meat eater then this bit is going to be a little hard for you to swallow.  It is recommended that you do not have red meat and pork more than once a month!  Both meats are linked to higher risks of colon cancer so from this point alone you should really consider how much you have.  It is actually recommended to have at least 2 days that are completely meat and fish free to give your body time to fully cleanse itself.

Back to my husband.  I have made a few subtle changes to his diet over the past few months.  First I started with his breakfast.  He was eating bran flakes.  Now he eats oat based muesli. This is obvious.  I have swapped the insoluble fibre with a soluble one.  Not only that, but it also has nuts and dried fruit in it.  This is definitely a much better start to the day.

Once he had got used to that I changed his lunch.  He was having a standard white bread sandwich every day, with some fruit and sometimes a piece of cake! Now he has a wheat free pasta dish with vegetables followed by fruit… (and I get the feeling he manages to sneak the odd cake now and again) but the main thing is that the wheat from the bread has gone, and so has the cheese.

Tea times… now this is a slightly harder one to tackle.  He is a meat lover. However if you fill the plate with veg and keep reminding them to chew until its liquid then by the time it gets to seconds (in other words getting more meat) they are actually feeling full from dinner and having learnt a little self control he no longer gets more meat.  Its a step in the right direction.

We are not perfect, but we certainly have learnt a lot form this book and there are still more areas we can tackle.  One thing Peter Jackson’s book does remind us of is that you change one thing at a time… that way its not so overwhelming.  As a testimony to the small changes, Ben would say he’s felling a lot better on the inside already 😉

If you live in the UK and would like to be entered in to the hat to have one of the 10 copies I’m giving away then simply send us an email with the subject A toxic Colon plus your name and you will be put in the hat!

All the best

Laura

Why I can’t diet without a good night’s sleep

If you’re planning to lose weight in the new year but you haven’t got your sleep sorted you’re starting with a serious disadvantage.

At least that’s my experience. If I don’t sleep my self control when it comes to food is wrecked. I just can’t stop feeling hungry.

We need to be getting 7.5 hours of good sleep. If it’s not restful or it’s a shorter night, then the metabolism is slower and, chemically, you’ll feel hungrier – two great ingredients for a failed diet. And, when you think about it, the fact that you’re tired is also less likely to motivate you to get any exercise done.

So, sort your sleep out first.

Sleep helps dieting
Sleep helps dieting

A good night’s sleep increases the amount of leptin hormone in your body – which tells you when to stop eating. Less sleep means more of the ghrelin hormone which tells you to eat more! It’s a vicious circle, bad sleep = lack of energy = eating more carbs = lethargy = no exercise = restless sleep.

It’s a good idea to learn some good sleeping habits.

To help regulate your sleep (especially of you know you’re about to have a bad night) you may want to try a herbal sleeping aid.

These come in two strengths:
a lighter version such as Kalms Sleep which will help you get a good rest during sleep (1 tablet =  45mg of valerian)
a stronger variety like Kalms Night for the occasional night when you can’t sleep (1 tablet = 500mg of valerian)

(Kalms do also make a new formula Day version for the relief of stress and anxiety for you herbal fans out there.)

The use of natural ingredients such as hops, passion flower, valerian and lettuce makes a lot of sense to me – these are traditional ingredients well known for their ability to induce sleep and are used by a lot of other herbal companies. If by helping me sleep better it means they also help contribute to weight loss in the long run then that’s no bad thing.

‘Drinking pomegranate juice can make you love your job!’

Take 60 workers and get them to drink 1/2 a litre of pomegranate juice every day for a fortnight. Then ask them if they enjoy work more?

The answer: Yes! Nearly everyone said life felt better. They were more active, enthusiastic and pleased with their work. The responses indicated they were less stressed too.

Drinking pomegranate juice can make you more active at work
Drinking pomegranate juice can make you more active at work

No wonder pomegranate used to be hailed as the forbidden fruit of lovers if this is what it does.

But loving your job?

Okay so, physically, the workers’ pulse rates had actually reduced…

But given that lower pulse rates are seen as a sign of health, this latest report will still add to the range of benefits which a drink of antioxidant pomegranate offers: help with weight loss, lower blood pressure, less risk of heart and kidney disease or Alzheimer’s too. And scientists are still looking into the benefits of pomegranate juice with cancer.

To choose from a range of pomegranate juices take a look at GoodnessDirect.

My personal discovery of St John’s Wort

I’d never heard about St John’s Wort before. My father had just passed away and then I received some more devastating news… I wasn’t coping. I took time off work but I still wasn’t dealing with life very well.

Then a friend suggested St John’s Wort to help ‘calm my nerves’. I got hold of some tablets and tried them out. The effect was dramatic, I didn’t even have to take the whole daily dose – I just felt more serene and was able to get on with everyday tasks.

St John's Wort: A calming influence
St John's Wort: A calming influence

The funny thing is that a little while later, when I was going through another stressful time, I used some St John’s Wort but only took them before going to bed. I now know that wasn’t a good idea. They certainly had an impact and I had a pretty restless night.

So the little flowers do work, at least for me. Health gurus say that the top causes of stress are things like illness, family problems, marriage or divorce, death, finance, retirement or losing your job, or imprisonment. I think we’ve all experienced a few of those.

The next one on my list is marriage. I really hope I don’t have to reach for the St John’s Wort this time but I still feel it would be better than taking a nose dive into anxiety.

Other ways of dealing with stress include adequate sleep, exercise, a balanced diet, avoiding stimulants including alcohol, meditation, conversations, fun and love (so perhaps the marriage might save me after all?).

Take a look at GoodnessDirect’s St John’s Wort range.

The Herbal Research Institute
Good Mood Tablets are produced by the Herbal Research Institute and are licensed by the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency), they are also members of the British Herbal Medicine Association and the Health Food Manufacturers’ Association you can be confident our herbal remedies and medicines are safe, gentle and effective.

HRI also make herbal remedies for minor skin disorders and acne, getting a good night’s sleep and relief for water retention.

Green tea heals body and soul

My friend recently got into green tea. He was reading a self-help book on how to reduce stress, took the hint and is now practically addicted to the stuff. (It makes for neat little gifts to him: green tea and nettle, green tea with orange and lotus flower, green tea with interesting red bits…)

Because green tea is steamed rather than fermented, like the more familiar black tea, that is what holds its antioxidant and anticancer properties. The latest report out this month is that drinking five cups a day would reduce your risk of getting blood and lymph cancers by over 40%. In fact so well documented is the healing effect of green tea that 1000s of studies now exist into its benefits. My friend thinks he’s drinking something to help him de-stress but he could be helping to prevent heart disease, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, diabetes, osteoporosis and weight-gain. Not bad for a cup of green stuff.

Incidentally, green tea contains half the caffeine of coffee and slightly less than black tea, so you can drink it before bedtime. Since it aids digestion and cleanses the pallet it is also good to drink after a meal or in the afternoon as a pick me up. It is best made with spring or filtered water and usually brewed for only a short time. Personally, I like to drink it before the evening begins as it really does help clear away the day’s stress. If you’re anything like me (or my friend) you’ll find it will help relax you, giving you composure for the twilight hours.

Supplements for Women

Whatever your time of life there is something to help…

PMS, Conception and Pregnancy

  • Chasteberry (agnus castus) has shown itself effective for the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, also try black cohosh. Evening primrose oil and vitamin B6 relieve breast tenderness and mood swings in some women, while calcium and magnesium supplements can help ease cramps.
  • Supplement with folic acid for three months before conception and continue during pregnancy.
  • For morning sickness try ginger or acupressure wristbands.
  • Eat oily fish or take a fish oil supplement (not cod liver oil) as the essential fatty acid they contain is vital to brain development in your growing baby.
  • Raspberry leaf tea can help prepare you for labour but should only be drunk in the last couple of months of pregnancy.
  • Specially-formulated pregnancy supplements are available that provide the combination of nutrients needed to help ensure a healthy mother and baby.

    Menopause Moments

  • Black cohosh is useful for mood swings and night sweats; evening primrose oil or borage oil for breast pain and fatigue; agnus castus, which helps stabilise hormone levels; red clover and soya for their phytoestrogens; and essential fatty acids for mood swings and concentration.

    Get Good Bones

  • Eat calcium-rich foods (for example green leafy vegetables such as broccoli and spinach) and consider a calcium supplement combined with vitamin D.
  • The minerals boron, magnesium and zinc are also necessary for bone health so consider supplementing with an appropriate multi-vitamin and mineral formulation.
  • Glucosamine has been shown to maintain healthy joints.
  • Weight-bearing exercise – such as walking, aerobics, running – is also important as it strengthens your bones while stimulating the creation of new bone.

    Stresses of Life…

    Do you smoke? Take at least an extra 200mg vitamin C daily (smoking Increases body requirements for vitamin C).

    Do you drink? Consider milk thistle and dandelion to detox your liver and kidneys, vitamin C and a fish oil supplement to improve your concentration.

    Natural Lifestyle © Natural Lifestyle Magazine in connection with Natural Health Week

  • Revitalise, De-stress & Relax!

    In January, you might have been full of good intention to start a health regime. And now, in February, you’d be forgiven if you wished you’d got another week off work, or some more time to relax…

    Today’s modern lifestyle takes its toll on us all from time to time. Don’t start the spring feeling zapped of your strength! Get into gear with natural remedies and therapies that make you feel great.

    Revitalise

    Do you need to revitalise? To be ‘recharged’ and invigorated’?… who wouldn’t! Compared to fifty years ago, life passes us by at a rapid pace. Technology has heralded an age where everything is accessed super-quick, and our lifestyles have followed suit. Just think of how we eat. Most of us use quick-fix food products which cut down on prep time.

    Whilst the body, and the mind has adapted to some degree, statistics show us that unless we take proactive steps to calming our busy lives down, we could end up stressed out, burnt out and feeling down. We need to revitalise!

    Do you feel like you’re lacking in energy? From a nutritional perspective, B vitamins are often chosen, as these nutrients are paramount for production of energy in the body. Choose a high potency B complex for at least three months. Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NADH) is the active coenzyme form of vitamin B3. It plays an essential role in the energy production of every human cell. It has been well researched in people with Chronic Fatigue System, and supplements are available (see a therapist to see what level you should take).

    Coenzyme Q10 is found naturally occurring in the body, and, as we age, levels decline. This interesting health substance is involved in the final stages of energy production, and research has shown that it can help to maintain stamina and endurance in those whose body levels are declining (such as people with hectic lifestyles, those who are physically active and those in older age). Researched levels are around 60mg to 120mg daily.

    We cannot talk about re-vitalising without talk about the Ginsengs (Korean and Siberian). Korean ginseng (Panax Ginseng) has traditionally been taken to improve mental and physical vitality. It is an adaptogenic herb, which helps the body to realign the ‘pituitary-adrenal axis’ (in other words, restore balance to the hormonal systems of the body).

    De-Stress

    Anyone who has suffered prolonged stress knows how much this leaves you feeling drained, depressed and worn out. It’s important to catch stress in the early stages, taking proactive steps to halt it and regain strength and emotional wellbeing.

    Studies have shown that people with busy lifestyles, or those who are feeling a bit down, quite often don’t eat a healthy diet, and therefore, levels of B vitamins (found in wholefoods and fresh produce) can go down in the blood (why not take a supplement?). As well as this, changes in diet and stress can cause upset to the digestive system, so choose a probiotic formulation to increase your gut levels of friendly bacteria.

    If you are stressed, look at the information about how to revitalise, and in addition to this, you might like to try flower remedies, which inherently work on your character and emotional type – your ‘constitution’.

    Are you unable to weigh things up and are finding it hard to focus? Then take Scleranthus to gain inner balance and a decisive character.

    Full of apprehension? For relief from uneasy feelings, take aspen. Vine creates a positive state with great leadership qualities.

    If you’ve got stressful situations coming up (such as exams or a visit to the dentist), take impatiens, star of Bethlehem or cherry plum, whilst rock rose if often used by people who have a fear of losing control, to give calmness and peace.

    Relax and Rest

    It’s easy to see why people get so het up. It seems like there’s hardly time to take 5 minutes rest and relaxation, but it’s important to create somewhere, and some time to back away from the cares and worries of each day. Rather than this being the odd day here and there as a luxury (is it hardly surprising that spas do so well?), creating a rest and relaxation routine is vital. To do this, remove or block out harsh noise and light, create a peaceful space with different textures and restful sensations (use aromatherapy products such as diffusers and scented/heated wheat bags, lava lamps, and meditative CDs). You’d be amazed at how even simple steps can leave you feeling calmer.

    Herbal remedies are wonderful for all kinds of stress-related problems, and are easily recognised in store. Various sleep remedies are available, and these could also be used for general relaxation (ask a herbal practitioner for more information about intakes that are specific to you). Broadly speaking, they are all calminative, bringing a relaxed state to the body. Look for: hops (Humulus lupulus), Passiflora (sometimes called Purple Coneflower) – used for nervous restlessness) or Scullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora) used for insomnia or nervous tension.

    Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) is probably the most well known herb for relaxation and, more specifically, for good sleep and has been used since the 18th century. Its sedative action works on the central nervous system, affecting brain receptors, and inducing a calming effect. Typically, 300mg to 500mg root extract is taken (the equivalents of standardised extract are also available). If you’re unsure about which supplement to take, ask in store or contact a herbal practitioner.

    Another popular remedy is 5-HTP, derived from the seeds of Griffonia simplifoconia. 5-HTP is used by the body to make serotonin, which plays a role in sleep, mood and pain control.

    Natural Lifestyle © February 2006