By Natural Advocate | August 11, 2013 - 3:34 pm - Posted in Natural and Herbal Treatments

High blood pressure is a problem that has reached epic proportions here in the states (and elsewhere unfortunately).  It is the result of a highly processed diet full of sodium as well as a lack of exercise, which in and of itself helps to lower high blood pressure since it has stress reducing capabilities. Stress is actually a common factor for high blood pressure as well, so people in high stress jobs may also find that their blood pressure is reaching unhealthy levels.

A lot of people go on blood pressure medication. It is estimated that a large percentage of the elderly population is on blood pressure medication in fact, so it’s definitely an issue here in the US.  Even young children are starting to show signs of high blood pressure thanks to a childhood obesity epidemic and the proliferation of lower cost but highly processed foods that children tend to gravitate to.

But do you really have to go on high blood pressure medication, or can you simply use natural remedies to lower blood pressure or modify your lifestyle?  Obviously modifying your lifestyle is the preferred method of choice to lower your blood pressure since it also has a huge myriad of other health benefits in addition to lowering blood pressure levels.

The first remedy is a spice that you would think might actually increase blood pressure because it is a hot spice. I know that’s what I usually instantly think of when I think of a very spicy meal – blood pressure – because your face gets hot and you begin to sweat when you eat a meal like this.

However, cayenne pepper, which is a very hot spice, is a very potent vasodillator. This means that it naturally relaxes the blood vessels and capillaries which handle the flow of blood throughout the body.

When your vessels are relaxed and not constricted all tight, they allow blood to flow more freely and effectively throughout the body, instead of getting clogged up in various spots and causing the pressure that is synonymous with high blood pressure.

One to two teaspoons of cayenne pepper mixed with water should do the trick to keep nature in your corner and help ward off high blood pressure. It’s also good for heart health since it encourage the free flow of blood and one of the main reasons behind heart disease is high blood pressure.

One of my personal favorites is to take garlic on a daily basis. I actually eat it raw and I make my husband chew it raw as well as often as I can remember throughout the week. It’s very hot to the taste, but if you swish water around in your mouth at the same time you are chewing, it definitely is doable.

Garlic has been implicated in not only lower blood pressure, but also in lowering cholesterol. This is likely due to the fact that garlic is a natural blood thinner.  It also has numerous other health benefits because of its high natural sulfur content, including as a potent antioxidant as well as a potent antibiotic.




By Natural Advocate | August 4, 2013 - 6:07 pm - Posted in Foods, Natural and Herbal Treatments

First in the news for today I have what I think is a really interesting and promising topic all at once.  The demand for organic produce and foods is growing exponentially, and the demand is more than what it being produced, creating somewhat of a shortage and providing a lot of opportunity for ambitious organic farmers.

Not only this, but this really creates such a demand that more and more farmers will think about going organic, and organic may soon become the new standard if it really begins to be the main choice of most people.  I for one, buy organic wherever I can but admittedly cannot always buy it when money is tight. This is especially true for the produce that is 2 to 3 times more when it is organic. 

The price discrepancy is coming more in line these days since organic produce is becoming more sustainable and widely grown, however there are still some fruits and veggies that are much more costly when they are grown organically.

This is simply due to demand as well as to the way the produce has to be grown in order to meet the organic requirements.  Some produce doesn’t require a ton of special handling and some requires a lot more, and may also yield less and therefore cost more per unit. 

Here’s the even better news though. It’s not JUST produce that is becoming more and more in demand in organic. It’s also animal products and by-products such as meats like grass fed and hormone free beef and chicken, organically farmed milk and more.  SO it spans the gamut on what people are demanding out of their foods these days. 

I think this can only mean good things for organic foods in general. Sure, there may be a squeeze in the meantime where people are finding the supply low and the pickins slim as well as the prices slightly higher, but in the long run this huge demand is going to result in a lot of innovation and evolution in the foods sector, which will ultimately lead to higher quality, lower cost organic foods for all of us.

In other news, I wanted to talk a little bit about a supplement that I’m getting back into lately that I think is important for healthy digestion and a healthy bowel and colon.  I’m talking about probiotics.

I really can’t stand yogurt every day, yet I really wanted a way to introduce healthy flora, or probiotics back into my intestines so I could more easily digest and eliminate foods without all the pressure, bloating and gas that often goes with having a yeast imbalance. 

When healthy organisms are outnumbered by the unhealthy ones (aka “yeast”) in the colon and intestines, it causes a lot of discomfort in the way of gas, bloating and diarrhea, and is thought to be a major cause behind the condition IBS, which more and more Americans are suffering from thanks to lackluster diets that don’t contain enough fiber and certainly have way too many antibiotics, which kill off the health probiotics in the colon and intestines, causing lifelong issues. 

Since many people don’t really care for yogurt and other foods that contain natural probiotics, they opt for supplements. I recently tried the Schiff brand of Digestive Advantage simply because it comes in capsule form, is convenient and does not need refrigeration, and is supposed to be coated in a protein that prevents the probiotic bacteria from being destroyed by the volatile acids in the stomach.

So far so good, but I’ve only been taking it a few days so I’ll follow up in a week or two after I’ve given it some time to work.


By Natural Advocate | September 21, 2012 - 7:26 am - Posted in Natural and Herbal Treatments

Many people afflicted by diabetes search for an herbal remedy to help them control this life threatening and life changing condition.  Diabetes is unfortunately more common now than it was just a mere few decades ago.

There are reasons that we cannot control such as genetically inherited diabetes. But there are also many more cases that can be avoided, and controlled through the utilization of diet and lifestyle choices and that may also be helped by certain herbal diabetes remedies.

Before searching out herbal supplements that can help control your diabetes though, it’s important to make sure your lifestyle and diet choices are conducive to regulating insulin levels.Diet is the single most important part of maintaining healthy blood sugar.

Blood sugar spikes and dives cause a great many problems in the human body.  They can range from overeating and out of control cravings to blindness and pancreatic dysfunction.  When our blood sugar levels are out of control, it can even cause heart palpitations and issues with circulation, which is why diabetics often have to wear special shoes.

The best diabetes remedy is really a combination of lifestyle and diet changes.  Then, there is the choice of also adding an herbal diabetes remedy to help regulate insulin further to ensure you have the best control. Some of the natural supplements that can help regulate blood sugar are cinnamon and one called alpha lipoic acid. These two together help support healthy pancreatic function as well as support healthy secretion of insulin at normal levels to keep everything running smoothly and keep you balanced and even throughout the day.

You may have seen chromium picolinate added as an ingredient in some OTC diet supplements for weight loss because of it’s ability to regulate blood sugar. Remedies which regulate blood sugar also are good for weight loss because they stabilize appetite, which is closely linked to insulin levels in the blood stream.

Alpha lipoic acid is actually often used as a skin care supplement because of it’s great antioxidant quality and ability to help destroy free radicals. This is why it was surprising when studies showed it also helped to regulate insulin levels when taken regularly throughout the day .The only drawback is that when taken in larger doses like this, this herbal remedy for diabetes and blood sugar control may actually dry out the skin.

It also can burn the back of the throat if not thoroughly washed down with water, but other than that I’m not sure of any other side effects.  Cinnamon, preferably fresh and organic ground cinnamon is another commonly used herb to help treat diabetes symptoms by regulating blood sugar.

About one teaspoon of cinnamon has been shown to help regulate blood sugar levels for hours longer and also to help control cravings for sweets.  The two really go hand in hand, because when your blood sugar levels go down, you naturally may crave a refined sugar sweet food to help get it back up.

Regular exercise is also an excellent way to control and help naturally treat diabetes.  Why?  Exercise helps promote the body’s proper use of insulin. It also helps promote hormonal balance, which reduces spikes and drops in sugar levels, and helps reduce body fat. Reduced body fat is excellent for diabetics because it helps minimize improper insulin production and utilization.

The proper lifestyle and diet choices as well as the added benefit of diabetes herbal remedies which help balance out your blood sugar levels using various natural chemical properties is an excellent overall approach to helping control this condition.


By Natural Advocate | August 23, 2012 - 8:40 am - Posted in Natural and Herbal Treatments, Nutritional Supplements

IBS or Irritable Bowel Syndrome is an increasingly common digestive disorder that involves the last part of the digestive and elimination process – bowel movements.  It can result in constant constipation, constant diarrhea, of alternating bouts with both. In other words, it interrupts your life, can be totally embarrassing and is very uncomfortable to deal with.

Acidophilus, an organism that is found naturally in some yogurts, is a beneficial bacteria that helps your digestive tract move along smoothly, no pun intended, and ensure proper, timely and comfortable elimination of waste as the last step of food processing in your digestive tract.

See pages dealing with bowel health:

IBS acidophilus treatment with potent probiotics like this is just part of the equation, although acidophilus is one of the most important steps to effective digestive function, and often unfortunately ignored, in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome since once we get the regular bowel movements through some sort of natural laxative, we tend to forget the reason that the irregularity happened in the first place.

What is it exactly?  Well, if you like yogurt and you want to get it by eating yogurt instead of taking an acipophilus probiotic supplement, look for yogurts that say “active cultures”, that means it has this beneficial, colon- protecting bacterium in it.

It is a bacteria, of course, and it is what we call a “healthy flora” which shares space in the intestines and digestive tract with other gas causing, digestive unfriendly bacteria which hinder the digestion process and are even thought by some in alternative medicine to be the cause behind health problems and disease.

What’s one of the things that can throw your probiotic balance off in your digestive tract and actually make IBS worse, making acidophilus all that more important an addition to your diet?  Well, believe it or not, it’s antibiotics.  Antibiotics are one of the worst things for your healthy balance of flora in the intestine, colon and stomach, and they can really make things difficult.  So supplementation of acidophilus is all that much more important if you happen to be taking antibiotics.

There are even theories that when your probiotic balance is off in your digestive tract, it can fundamentally alter your immune system, making you more susceptible to disease and illness.  I guess that takes the saying that “death begins in the colon” to a whole new level, huh?

Now, I can’t say whether that is true or not, but it’s interesting that there is even speculation out there about that, and I think it makes it an even more compelling case for taking potent acidophilus supplements, whether you have IBS or not, but especially taking acidophilus if you do happen to have IBS.

Could there be side effects to acidophilus for IBS?  Well, at first, since there is an adjustment period, and sort of an internal struggle going on, you may experience increased gas and bloating, but ultimately this should clear up and you should be relieved from that in the future, with it improving from your previous “norm” noticeably.

There may be a slight discomfort accompanying it at first as well, as it works it’s way into your system and begins to work it’s magic and restore the health of your intestines and ultimately your colon.

Not only that, but acidophilus helps IBS because it helps to tone and cleanse the digestive tract, make your bowel movements easier, more complete and more frequent, so that you don’t have the uncomfortable feeling of always have to go to the bathroom, of being incompletely emptied out when you have to go, and also of that gassy, bloated feeling.  Acidophilus can be especially helpful for that part of IBS!

Acidophilus lactobacillus (that’s quite a mouth full), is the full name for the bacterium that is found in dairy foods, particularly yogurt, and several good supplements that give you the same benefit in capsule form for regular, healthy and comfortable bowels.

It is also called a probiotic, which is just another word for a digestive friendly organism that is good for the gut, aiding in digestion and the elimination process, and helping you to stay regular, comfortable, and ultimately, healthy. Those with IBS should definitely take a supplement which contains probiotics or acidophilus (one in the same), just look for either one on the label.

By Natural Advocate | August 3, 2012 - 6:15 pm - Posted in Natural and Herbal Treatments

There are a variety of natural and folk remedies that have the ability to help lower you levels of harmful cholesterol.  Elevated cholesterol levels are a very important marker for several serious health issues, including heart disease and risk of stroke, so it is a topic that is given much attention by the medical and health conscious community.

What is Cholesterol Anyway?

Cholesterol is these tiny little globs of a waxy/fatty like substance that float around in the blood stream. There is what is called “good cholesterol” or HDL and also what is considered “bad cholesterol” or LDL.

When you have too much in the blood, your blood becomes “sticky” and thicker and cannot flow through the body as well as it should. It can cause plaque to build up in the arteries and blood vessels and can lead to heart attack, heart disease and stroke.

Bad cholesterol is elevated by eating foods that are high in cholesterol, or possessing certain genetically inherited traits that make you predisposed to having higher blood cholesterol levels.  Diet and lifestyle can definitely help your cause when it comes to cholesterol.

And there also may be, as we are discussing here, some herbal and supplemental remedies that you can use in order to take your bad cholesterol levels back down to the normal and safe range.

The first and perhaps most well-known folk remedy is garlic. While garlic is a delicious spice to cook with, there is not enough evidence that it has a significant impact on cholesterol levels. However, it is still an excellent health food, and it contains tons of antioxidants so it does benefit your overall health in the end.

There are some who swear garlic helps lower their cholesterol, so who knows, it may actually work better in some people than others which is why the proof cannot be conclusive on it.

Omega 3 fatty acids help with cholesterol because they help to keep the blood thin.  You can get omega 3 fatty acids in fish oil or cod liver oil supplements, krill supplements, flax seed oil supplements, and by eating weekly servings of foods like fish, almonds, walnuts and avocadoes.  Omega 3 fats are excellent for your circulatory and heart health program and should always be included as a way to hold cholesterol levels in healthy ranges.

Another remedy which some claim to be highly effective is called red yeast rice, which is a reddish colored material that is used to make fish sauce and is one of the main ingredients in Peking duck, and other popular Chinese dishes.  This substance has a component called Monocolins in it which is known for containing compounds that trigger enzymes which help to reduce bad cholesterol in the blood.

It actually is supposed to work similarly to statin drugs on the market today which are designed to lower the blood cholesterol levels in a similar fashion.  Red yeast rice is popularly marketed as a cholesterol lowering supplement and is commonly recommended as a natural remedy to be added to the diet to help combat high cholesterol.




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