Know Your Medicinal Herbs: Peppermint

Peppermint often provides a wonderful aroma throughout your home whether it’s from a plant or from oils that are heated. Aside from making your home smell good, there are a few other benefits that you can enjoy from the herb. Try to use peppermint in a variety of ways so that you’re not only relying on the aroma. Examples include essential oils that you put on your skin or oils that you gently heat on your stove.  
 
Energy 

When you smell peppermint, you likely feel a renewed sense of energy. Peppermint can stimulate your central nervous system, which can lead to being more alert during the day and enhanced performance, especially when you feel sluggish and weak.  
 
Headaches 

Instead of reaching for a bottle of medication, try rubbing a few drops of peppermint oil on your temples or on your forehead to help soothe headaches. Peppermint works by stimulating blood flow in your body as well as relaxing some of the tension that you might feel in your muscles, which are reasons as to why you might experience headaches during the day.  
 
Clear Your Sinuses 

If you have trouble breathing or experience frequent sinus infections, then put a few drops of peppermint oil in a humidifier or even in your shower before turning on the hot water. The aroma from the peppermint can help to clear your nasal passages, leading to better breathing and the ability to expel mucus a bit easier.  
 
Bowel Symptoms 

There are a few different bowel conditions that peppermint can help with if you consume the herb or oil orally including adding it to tea or water. Peppermint can help with irritable bowels and upset stomachs. It can also help decrease the amount of indigestion that you might have. If you experience motion sickness while traveling or morning sickness when you’re pregnant, then consider using peppermint to help relieve some of the symptoms that you might have. 

Health Benefits of the Sea

We generally focus on herbs and herbal supplements here, but there are many topics that are adjacent to or overlap with the direction of herbal news which is increasing health and wellness. We don’t focus on exercise or meditation, but those are both healthy. We don’t focus on saunas or grass fed beef or organic eggs, but those are also healthy. While we have our strengths and our focus, it often hard to deny our next door neighbors who are also living in the same space, attending the same schools, and headed to the same place. So in this post, we are focusing on some of the wonderful and healthy things that you can get from the sea.

Himalayan Pink Salt

I suppose we are starting with a complaint about the sea today, but just a small one. If you are paying attention to herbal life, then you are no doubt familiar with Himalayan Pink Salt and it’s various health benefits. The short answer for what salt from the Himalayas has going for it that sea salt doesn’t is that it was stored long ago before we started contaminating the ocean with things like mercury. While there are only trace amount of heavy metals in salts, trace can sometimes add up. Fear not, you can get salt right out of the mountains and feel confident that you are sidestepping anything the ocean can’t. Plus, it’s super tasty.

Seaweed

We talk about this a fair amount as a supplemental herb, but seaweed (from the sea, wouldn’t you know) can also be consumed in other dry as well as wet forms. Chock full of minerals and antioxidants, seaweed is a very healthy consumable that has been around for obvious centuries and in the US for quite some time. There are just so many forms of seaweed that if you don’t happen to love the flavor, you can find the right format that fits your pallet. It is typically very salty, and if you are crafty in the kitchen, you can hold back on some salts for dishes that can contain seaweed.

Seafood in General

Here we are talking about sustainably caught, wild seafood and nothing farm raised. While there are some hazards out there with the high cholesterol levels of shrimp and we certainly all remember the dangers of eating blowfish. But there are a lot of other health benefits to eating seafoods that are high in omega 3s and good fats, not to mention lean proteins and oils. Getting more fish into your diet is a common anthem among men who are struggling with various forms of heart disease, specifically salmon and halibut and even black cod (not an actual cod) is climbing into the conversation. These sources are best sought close to wherever you are for freshness, but fear not you landlocked heroes, there are plenty of ways to compare and order seafood online these days.

That’s it for this particular segment, but depending on the feedback, we will circle back around and provide thoughts on other areas of our vast oceans.

Know Your Medicinal Herbs: Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne pepper is thought to originate within the Cayenne region of French Guiana. It comes from a small fruited pepper plant, of the capsicum annuum genus, and the orange to deep red fruit is dried and ground down for its spicy flavor. Yet it is also appreciated for the benefits of the chemical within, capsaicin. Capsaicin carries many health benefits, particularly when it comes to treatment of certain types of pain. In fact, certain groups, including Native Americans, have used cayenne for both food and medicine for thousands of years.  
 
When used as a pain relief agent, cayenne is used to create a paste or cream that is applied to areas of pain on the body, such as pulled muscles or sore joints. It is thought to reduce the pain messages sent to the brain when applied topically, thus easing the intensity of pain. The capsaicin in the cayenne pepper is often recommended for pain associated with osteoarthritis, nerve pain, such as that caused by shingles, as well as for lower back and shoulder pain.  
 
For digestive health, cayenne boosts the immunity within the stomach to protect against infections, as well as aid in the process of digestion. And while many believe that the spice can trigger stomach ulcers, studies have actually shown the opposite. Cayenne can prevent the development of ulcers.  
 
Another interesting effect of cayenne is that it can reduce the appetite. When used in food, it is shown to increase the feeling of fullness and satiety, and people tend to eat less throughout the day when their meals contain cayenne. Those taking capsaicin supplements end up consuming approximately 10% fewer calories overall. It’s believed that this is due to the capsaicin contained within the cayenne pepper.  
 
While reasonable portions of cayenne are beneficial, take care not to overindulge. Too much capsaicin can cause skin irritation, as well as heartburn when ingested in large quantities. For many people, they achieve the most benefit from consuming cayenne as a supplement, rather than through eating the pepper itself. No matter how you choose to incorporate cayenne pepper into your diet, always check with your doctor when determining the proper portion or method of delivery. 

Ayurvedic Remedies for Cholesterol

Nowadays, cholesterol has become a serious threat by claiming almost 46% of deaths around the world that too due to cholesterol and coronary heart diseases. Cholesterol is nothing but a fatty, waxy and lipid substance circulating in the body in bloodstream providing the fat required by the body. Generally, this fat travels in the body through packages known as lipoproteins. Broadly talking there are two types of lipoproteins known as High Density Lipoproteins and Low-Density Lipoproteins. High Density Lipoproteins or good cholesterol is produced in the body and act as a synthesizer. It breaks down the complex and bigger particles of cholesterol into pieces before transporting it to the liver. 
 
Whereas low density lipoprotein or bad cholesterol is harmful to the body as it increases the risk of various heart diseases. It not only affects the liver but also creates muscular malfunctioning. These days by sensing most of the company have jumped into the market in order to produce best and trusted cholesterol reduction medicines. Generally, these medicines are attached with array of side effects which are loss of hunger, indigestion and lack of energy. But in this whole lot there are still some medicines whose are more refined and provide best results. Ayurveda is one medicine which has shown its prominence in the available lot. 
 
Hyperlipidemia is one medicine which has ruled the roost for long. It is one medicine which has no side effects but only benefits. It is the combination of many herbs and shrubs which in all make this medicine. This medicine not only lowers down the cholesterol but also increases good cholesterol along with the enhancement of energy. It takes mere two months for this medicine to show its prominence. 
 
Another most widely used medicine is guggul. This medicine and its native plant are found in India and have been in vicinity for ages. Its gum resin contains a bitter taste which breaks down the cholesterol particles into pieces and transporting them to liver for further metabolism. Being the purest form ayurvedic medicine generally have no side effects and are natural in state. Being the purest form, they not only refine the body but also remove that extra cholesterol concentrated on the arteries. So if you have high cholesterol and thinking to take some medicine, then just zero yourself on Ayurveda as it can remove all your plaque and cholesterol. 

Herb Guide

Herb Condition Dosage 
Aloe Vera Gel Gastrointestinal Disturbances Take 100 mg of solid extract up to 3 times a day with meals. Drink plenty of fluids. (recommended 8 oz of water) 
Black Cohosh Menopause, PMS 60 mg daily, with meals. 
Feverfew Migraine Headaches, Joint Pain 150 mg daily. 
Garlic Cholesterol, Cardiovascular Disease Immune Enhancement 1 clove fresh garlic daily or two 300 mg capsules or tablets daily, with meals. 
Ginko Biloba Memory, Mood, Circulation 60 mg twice daily, with meals. 
Green Tea Cancer prevention 100 mg to 300 mg daily with meals. 
Hawthorn Heart disease 360 mg daily, with meals 
Horse Chestnut Varicose veins, circulatory disorders 150 mg twice daily, with meals. 
Milk Thistle Liver Problems, Detoxification 320 mg daily with meals. 
St. Johns Wort Depression 300 mg twice daily, with meals. 
Saw Palmetto Prostate Enlargement 160 mg twice daily, with meals. 
Herbs to be Taken Cyclically     
Echinacea Colds, Flu, Infections 175 mg two to four times daily as needed, with meals. Take for one months- then a two-week break before resuming. 
Ginseng Fatigue, Stress 75 mg to 300 mg with meals. Use daily for one month then take a two-week break. 
Kava Anxiety 150 mg up to 6 times daily with meals. No more than 2 in any 4-hour period. Take for a maximum of three months, followed by two to four weeks of rest. 

Important Herb Terminology

Solid Extracts 

In solid extracts solvents are completely removed which makes this more concentrated than either fluid extracts or tinctures. Solid extract strength is measured in units of grams of crude herb per grams of extract. So, for example, a 5:1 concentration uses five grams of herb to produce 1 gram of extract.  Solid extracts have the greatest chemical stability and are the most economical form for most herbs. 

Fluid Extracts 

Fluid extracts are produced by evaporating most of the solvent to yield 1:1 concentration of herb to solvent. A fluid extract if five times as strong as a tincture made from the same solution. 

Tinctures 

Tinctures are the least concentrated of the three, are prepared by soaking the herb in a solvent. Typical solvents are water and alcohol for a specific amount of time, after which the solution is pressed. The strength of a tincture is measured by its concentration. It contains five times as much solvent as herbal material making it the least economical form of herbal supplements. 

Quality Control  

Herbs should be thoroughly analyzed and tested during harvesting and manufacturing to ensure high quality. Here are several types of analysis that can be done. 

Impurities 

Even in the best circumstances, organically grown herbs can unknowingly be contaminated by ground water. It is essential that they be screened for contamination including, heavy metals, microbes and pesticides. 

Identifying Herbs 

It surprises many people to know that even experts can have a difficult time identifying herbs that belong to the same family. Because of this one way to ensure that the herb is what it is represented to be is through chemical testing. 

Potency 

The final step is to test the herb for potency. Soil quality, rainfall, climatic conditions and growing time all help in determining the final potency of the herb. Good manufacturing techniques require the verification of the potency for each batch. In the case of standardized extracts, care must be taken to analyze and verify the active compounds in each bottle. 

Rediscovering our “Roots”

We as Americans are re-discovering the powerful century-old therapeutic uses of herbs. While there are many types of herbs both for edible and medicinal purposes, many people are a bit confused as to which herbs do what, when and how to take them, potential side effects and other safety issues. There is a lot of conflicting information about herbs. Many tout them as a “cure-all” from everything from cancer, liver problems, to acne. 

Faced with this dilemma of where to find sound advice on herbs, we continually garner information from top experts in the field and pass that information on to you so that you can be properly informed and use that information to make Intelligent, wise choices. 

About Doctors and Pharmacists 

Why not ask a doctor or pharmacist? The sad truth is that most physicians and pharmacists are uneducated about and often biased against herbs. Although herbs have been used for centuries for their healing properties, since the rise of the pharmaceutical industry they have been somewhat branded as “old and out of date” remedies. Most of this is propaganda used to promote expensive drugs (which are often derivatives from herbs) for which they hold the patent rights. It is harder to profit from herbs since no one can own a patent on an herb. So, if you consult a pharmacist or physician, make sure you know if they have a background in herbs. 

What you Should Know About Herbs 

Potentially, herbs can tremendously improve your health. However, it is essential to follow a few guidelines. When selecting an herb, choose a product that contains adequate amounts of the herb as well as its active constituents. 

  • Take it correctly. Herbs have pharmacological effects. Many people think that because it is an herb, they are safe from any side effects. So be certain to follow directions about proper dosage, and if you are on any other medications, be sure to consult a qualified physician about possible conflicts or side effects. Some herbs are fine to take every day while others should only be taken on an as needed or periodic basis. 
  • Choose quality herbs. Herbs can come in many different forms. The basic or raw form of herbs is as they occur in nature, such as leaves, cloves, or root. These can be processed into powders, tablets, or capsules. Teas can also be made by steeping bulk herbs in boiling water. (Also known as infusions) Extracts are concentrated forms of herbs. If you are planning to use herbs therapeutically, extracts are the best. Extracts come in three forms–fluid extracts, solid extracts and tinctures.  
  • Whenever possible choose cultivated, organic herbs. Wild crafting is the practice of collecting herbs from their natural environment. While it may seem that this is the preferable to cultivated herbs, one cannot be certain of the quality or contamination of wild herbs. It has also led to the near extinction of certain herbs as well as damaging the ecosystems like rainforests.  Choose cultivated herbs whenever possible. These have been screened from harmful effects of pesticides. 

Herbal Treatments for Common Dermatological Disorders

When it comes to the way we look, we often look for the fastest possible cure. If we have an acne breakout, we reach for the strongest spot treatments available. If we want to lose weight, we go on juice cleanses and restrict eating. It comes as no surprise that, when used in excess, these treatments can be detrimental to our overall health. Mainstream cosmetic medicine has prioritized efficiency over health for decades – but it doesn’t have to be this way.

Most common dermatologic disorders, the most-experienced form of cosmetic dissatisfaction, have safe and effective herbal treatments available. Reaching for an herb or naturally occurring ingredient will almost always be safer than the cosmetic treatment that promises unrealistic results. That said, some types of skin problems will require the help of a skin specialist or medical dermatologist. Below, we’ve broken down several herb treatments for common skin problems, but we’ve made sure to highlight exactly when you should see a medical professional for assistance.

Acne

Acne typically responds very well to fruit acids, such as citric, gluconic, gluconolactone, glycolic, malic, and tartaric acids. This is broadly believed to be a result of the acids’ exfoliative properties. Natural remedies, such as honey, most fruits, and some vegetables, can serve as excellent spot treatments and cleansers for mild acne, such as whiteheads and blackheads. Similarly, tannins have natural astringent properties, and they can be used topically to treat acne. The most common naturally occurring natural tannin is in witch hazel, which combines bark extract and water. Commercially available preparations of this product are not as powerful, so try your hand at making your own.

Some forms of acne, however, should require a trip to the dermatologist. Any skin lesions that are extremely painful, cystic, or unable to be identified (i.e. they don’t look like acne) should be examined by a licensed professional. Often, a quick skin check is all you need to get the medicine and care necessary to clear the blemish.

Bacterial and Fungal Skin Infections

There are many natural remedies available for both bacterial and fungal skin infections. Garlic, for example, contains ajoene, which has demonstrated both antifungal and antibacterial activity when both ingested and applied topically. While contact dermatitis has occasionally been reported with frequent exposure, this potential side-effect is minimal. Similarly, tea tree oil, when applied topically for treatment of fungal or bacterial infections, has shown to combat a wide variety of microorganisms, including Staphylococcus aureus, Candida albicans, and Propionibacterium acnes. It has shown symptom improvement in several double-blind studies, but users should caution against using the material on burns.

Most people don’t typically need to visit a dermatologist for typical fungal infections, but bacterial infections can cause a major health risk. If you notice itchiness, swelling, or excessive redness on or near your bacterial or fungal infection, make an appointment with your doctor.

Dermatitis

Dermatitis is a condition that affects 16.5million Americans each year, and it can appear for a variety of reasons. However, certain herbal medicines are effective at treating the ubiquitous rash. For example, arnica, which is derived from the dried flowers of Arnica montana, has been used for centuries as an anti-inflammatory drug on sore muscles, bruises, insect bites, boils, and acne eruptions. The ingredient is also found in many seborrheic dermatitis and psoriasis treatment preparations, indicating that the medical community understands and respects its potential as a medicine.

German chamomile, a member of the daisy family, can also lessen dermatitis symptoms when applied topically. Topical preparations typically include a cream or ointment base, and studies have shown that topical chamomile is comparable with 0.25% hydrocortisone, which is a common remedy for dermatitis.

Dermatitis does not typically require a dermatologist visit, but if the rash is severe, painful, itchy, or bleeding/oozing, it’s safer to make an appointment. You may be prescribed steroids or anti-inflammatory drugs that will address the problem.

Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a tricky dermatological condition because many believe its cause is rooted in the immune system. Most psoriasis medicines aim to decrease symptoms. Aloe vera has been used for centuries in wound healing and was found to be a potential treatment for psoriasis. In a double-blind study, the group of psoriasis patients treated with aloe showed a statistically significant improvement over the placebo group, and there were no adverse effects reported. Capsaicin has also been shown to alleviate some psoriasis symptoms. The ingredient, which is found primarily in peppers, has been shown to significantly decrease scaling and erythema when applied topically over a 6-week period.

If you have psoriasis, you should visit a medical dermatologist. Without symptom management and medical mitigation, the condition will only continue to get worse. While there is no cure for psoriasis, medical-grade medicines are typically the best way forward if you have moderate to severe outbreaks.

Can You Cure Allergies Naturally?

When the immune system in our body finds or realizes anything as foreign to the body, it immediately releases some antibodies like histamines to fight against the foreign substance. This causes inflammation which is called allergy in our body. 

There are many natural remedies for allergies available. Although natural remedies are easily available without prescription, it is better to consult a doctor before to take up any medicine as a remedy for allergies. 

When a person is taking natural remedies or any other medicines for allergies, it is better to concentrate on the environment in which they live. Avoid moist environments. Moist environments aid the growth of molds that are one of the causes of allergies. Cleanliness of the beds and the carpet plays an important role in treating allergies. Food restrictions also help in treating the allergies well. Certain types of foods should be avoided, and certain foods can be taken. A proper nutritional supplement to aid the treatment is also recommended. 

Foods like wheat and chocolates cause allergy symptoms like headaches which can also be migraine in nature. Hay fever, hives, childhood allergies, asthma, and eczema are also caused by such foods. Garlic and Onion can be taken daily to treat allergies. It is found that these herbs contain Quercitin which is effective in curing allergies. This is found to reduce the production of histamine that causes allergies in us. Green tea extract which is rich in phytonutrients is used to ward off cellular attacks. It is an excellent anti-bacterial and is used to cut down the cholesterol level and to regulate the blood sugar. 

Bromelain is used to assist in digestion of vegetable protein. Papain contains an enzyme that breaks down protein is effective in curing allergies. The acidic stage of the allergic reactions can be controlled effectively with Magnesium (Citrate). This is also used in treating asthma which has strong bonding with allergies. Calcium (Citrate) which balances the acid and the alkaline levels in our body is good in curing allergies. Calcium also reduces the production of histamine in our body. 

Air filters and dehumidifiers can be used to prevent mold that is present in the humid environments. It is known that onions, garlic, and citrus fruits contain natural antihistamines. Having these would help you prevent and cure allergies. Natural nasal rinses are also available for treating allergies. Allergy can be controlled with the help for a proper diet. You have to note down the food items that are taken by you. Avoiding certain foods and taking some foods would help you in controlling the allergies. 

Certain food supplements would also help in treating allergies positively. Natural antihistamines are taken to control allergy. You should know that the histamine released by our immune system is responsible for the allergic reaction. It is also better to know what leads to allergies. It is found that in babies the eating habits during the first year play an important role in a baby’s sensitivity to allergy. Lack of breast feeding and feeding babies with solid food too early may lead to such conditions. 

Why Natural HRT May Be Better

What is HRT? It’s “Hormone Replacement Therapy”. This study may actually back the argument against medically administered HRT for menopausal women, among other findings which of course we will get into more I’m sure, as more studies are ongoing in the medical HRT field, as well as more startling findings that it may do more harm then good.

This particular study involved of about 7,290 women was a study of a substance called “raloxifene”, a so called “designer estrogen” which blocks that hormone’s action in some parts of the body, like a woman’s breasts, while increasing its effects in others, like bones.

This particular study’s main aim was testing raloxifene as a possible candidate for treatment of the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis, a use for which the drug ultimately won approval. Women with osteoporosis who were at least two years past menopause were randomly assigned to get raloxifene or dummy pills for four years.

The study’s researchers analyzed the female participant’s levels of a hormone called estradiol, which is the most potent form of estrogen that circulates within the blood.

The hormone Estradiol usually dramatically drops after menopause, and half of the 2,447 women given the inactive dummy pills had no perceivable levels of it. In the rest of the women, those with lower estradiol levels had a 70 percent lower risk of stroke than those with higher levels, the study’s sponsors had found.

The bottom line of this estrogen level study in women who are menopausal:

High estrogen levels can be exaggerated by the administration of medical estrogen pills, and in fact may increase a woman’s risk of stroke. This is quite an argument for natural HRT alternatives for women seeking to achieve a balanced estrogen level who are seeing a depletion in their estrogen due to the change of life.