By MA Greenery | November 23, 2006 - 7:36 am - Posted in Foods

Not only is garlic a spice that adds lots of flavor to our everyday foods, but it is being highly touted for it’s other health benefits too. For anyone on a weight loss regimen, garlic can assist in making a meal spice up without adding calories.

Garlic has been shown to reduce harmful blood fats when consumed in large quantities. Of course, one should not consume a diet high in saturated fats. However if you take garlic along with reducing dietary fats, the garlic can enhance lowering blood cholesterol.

Garlic has been associated with the property of an anti-clotting agent in the blood. The most active ingredient in garlic that produces this effect is called ajoene.

In addition to helping people with it’s many health benefits, garlic fed to our pets can help reduce the risk of flea infestations. This natural inexpensive method is much preferred over hazardous insecticides applied to our pets and in our homes.

By Natural Advocate | November 22, 2006 - 10:47 pm - Posted in Herbal Supplements

In today’s hurried society, we may find ourselves racing through our day, overscheduling events and obligations. Often our schedules run right up until bed time.Along with our over packed schedules can run stress and anxiety. And the result of course can be insomnia at bed time from feeling over wrought.

Natural approaches to battle insomnia would be to cut down on caffeine. Avoid caffeine or alcohol close to bed time. Also avoid strenuous exercise later in the evening. Keep some time to wind down prior to bed time with reading, soft music or cuddling with family members.

When more natural approaches do not work, an herbal supplement may help. Valerian is a popular herb to assist people to fall asleep and sleep more soundly with less interruptions.

Advantages of using valerian over prescription sleeping pills are; it is not addictive and has an excellent safety record. Some cautions to keep in mind since it is a sedative herb would be;

Use care while driving or operating machinery; Do not combine valerian with alcohol or other sedative products. Also do not use every night for more than 6 months.

Valerian may not produce the desired sedative effect immediately. It can take up to 2 to 3 weeks for it to take effect. When it becomes effective, there is not the risk of addiction or dependence.

By Natural Advocate | November 21, 2006 - 12:34 pm - Posted in Natural Depression & Anxiety Relief

While reading up on herbal remedies for the common complaint of chronic stress with resulting anxiety, I kept coming across the herb kava.

The scientific name for this herb is piper methysticum. Curiously, it’s not one I’ve commonly seen in health food /herbal stores I’ve frequented.

Every excerpt read in books researched indicated kava has a mild sedative calming effect. As with many herbal remedies, it’s origins date back to antiquity.

There was no mention of addiction but there were more cautions than usually seen with herbal products. Kava is not intended for use with benzodiazepine tranquilizers as it can potentiate the sedative effects.

Also, do not take kava together with alcohol or sleeping pills for the same reason. As with any tranquilizing agent, care should be taken while driving or operating machinery.

Kava is contraindicated for the elderly, pregnant women, or persons with chronic illnesses. Daily consumption of kava is not recommended for more than 25 weeks. Kava should not be taken by persons with parkinsons disease as it can worsen muscle twitching.

Kava is effective in reducing anxiety without lethargy or loss of concentration associated with other tranquilizing agents. With appropriate dose modification, kava can be beneficial in reducing anxiety without impairing functioning at work while moving about daily activities of living.

 

By Natural Advocate | November 20, 2006 - 8:28 am - Posted in Natural and Herbal Treatments

There are many different ways to solve the riddle of operating at our peak performance and balance throughout our lives. An often overlooked way to enhance our potential is the connection of the sense of smell to the brain.

Certain pleasant fragrances can improve our ability to breathe more slowly and deeply and become more relaxed.

Certain scents can promote calming and relaxing responses. Lavender in particular reduces anxiety without the use of sedatives.

It may be used as a potpourri or applied as lavender oil in a massage or vaporized. Other soothing oils are chamomile, sweet marjoram, ylang-ylang, bergamot or neroli.

When using aromatherapy for a hot herbal bath, approach it with an unhurried pace. Use warm water to about neck level. Essential oils may be rubbed into the skin but use caution as one may have an allergic reaction to it.

Using a 10 percent dilution of essential oil to a carrier oil such as almond, olive or safflower will reduce the risk of irritation. Also take care not to get essential oils into the eyes as they will irritate.

As many aromas are mentioned to relax, there are also fragrances that keep people more alert such as jasmine. All in all, aromatherapy as an adjunct to nurturing oneself nutritionally and holistically, is an area worth attention. Our sense of smell can effect the way we feel and perform.

By Natural Advocate | November 19, 2006 - 6:11 am - Posted in Natural and Herbal Treatments

I used to be one of those people that only worked out if it involved serious, jolting cardiovascular movement, lifting heavy weights, and basically moving fast and sweating my butt off.

Then I was introduced to yoga, a practice that I knew helped a lot of people with back and muscle problems, which I was starting to experience both with age and with my continuing status as a “desk job” professional.

The funny thing is, I did not start practicing yoga to actually get a “work out”, which I thought could only be obtained through my grueling sessions on the treadmill, eliptical machine, and recumbent bike. Oh no, for me yoga was strictly a relaxation exercise, one designed to help stretch my muscles and soothe my busy mind. Little did I realize, I was getting an excellent workout with Yoga, combined with all the benefits of a serious cardio workout, as was apparent upon waking up the next day to an invariably sore rump and tummy. But it didn’t always “feel” like I was working out when I did Yoga, especially the better I got at it. I wondered why this could be.Then I figured it out, with a little help from a Yoga instructor. She said that as you begin to learn to use your breath through the practice of yoga breathing techniques, your muscles actually get more oxygen. Lack of oxygen to the muscles builds up lactic acid, which leads to our sore muscles after a serious workout.

Oxygen also plays a vital role in managing stress. It has been found in numerous studies that one who is under stress has low blood oxygen levels, and this is due to the fact that they are not breathing properly through the stressful or anxiety inducing event.

This is why you will often find that you feel short of breath when you are going through a stressful situation, and this is also why asthmatics often have asthma attacks during highly stressful episodes, or when their emotions are on “high”. This made perfect sense. Not only did yoga help to streamline my body, but it helped me learn to manage my breathing, and condition my body and mind to manage stress and anxiety through breathing with my body, not against it.

You see, yoga is much more than a meditational or contortionist exercise. It actually transcends what we think of as exercise. Yoga is a tool that we can use to manage stress, condition our mind and body to be more in touch with one another, and to also gain a sense of tranquility and well being.

Yoga practice ranges from a more active, moving practice called Ashtanga yoga or power yoga, to a more methodical, slower moving practice called Hatha yoga, which concentrates more on a slower, fluid movement and is geared toward those that may not have exercised in a while or who have back issues. There is also another type, which I had the pleasure of participating in on my recent trip to northern California, called Bikram yoga, where you practice yoga poses ranging form beginner to advanced in a room heated to almost 100 degrees farenheit.

This type of yoga can be strenuous on the beginner, and is usually only recommended for those who are very fit or very well versed in the practice of yoga. I found the Bikram yoga to be challenging, but after I emerged from the room after the two hours of posing, I felt a sense of empowerment and clarity that continued on for the rest of the evening.

It is said that Bikram yoga may actually help rid the body of toxins through the sweat that is produced during the practice. And believe me, sweat you will. There was not a person in the room that had anything less than soaking wet clothes.

Since I’ve started regularly practicing yoga about three times a week, I find my stress levels are down, my back hurts me less while I am working at my desk, and my muscles have taken on a longer, leaner look. I now am in sync with my breathing, and know how to use it to mine and my body’s advantage thanks to Yoga.  For that reason, I will always be loyal to the practice of yoga.

 

 

 


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