Friday, January 30, 2009

NIH surveys on use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine




I was looking around the National Institute of Health's (NIH) website the other day, and found the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM). I had no idea this even existed and found it interesting to see what sort of research they are doing in the area of alternative medicine. Now as a caveat I would add that I don't necessarily need NIH to validate alternative medicine and after being a nurse for 14 years I've learned to read between the lines of "studies". There are really so many variables encountered in any study that you really have to weigh what the study actually proves or disproves. What does encourage me about this is that I hope that the NIH has heard the masses, that we want natural ways of healing, less invasive procedures, and real cures.

Consider these interesting statistics and facts from a survey completed in 2007:

  • In 2007, 4 out of 10 adults had used some sort of complementary or alternative medicine (CAM).

  • The most commonly used CAM therapies include non-vitamin, non-mineral, natural products; deep breathing exercises; meditation; chiropractic care; yoga; massage; and diet-based therapies.

  • The most commonly used non vitamin, non mineral, natural products used by adults for health reasons in the past 30 days were fish oil or omega 3 or DHA, glucosamine, echinacea, flax seed oil or pills, and ginseng.

  • The prevalence of many individual therapies was similar between 2002 and 2007, acupuncture, deep breathing exercises, massage therapy, meditation, naturopathy, and yoga showed significant increases.

  • CAM therapies are most often chosen for back pain or back problems, head or chest colds, neck pain or neck problems, joint pain or stiffness, anxiety or depression, and less prevalent, but still used to treat symptom relief for cancer, cardiovascular disease, and lung diseases.

  • CAM is more prevalent among women, among adults who had higher educational attainment or who engage in leisure-time physical activity, as well as among adults who had one or more existing health conditions or who made frequent medical visits in the prior year.

While I think we as a nation have a long way to go in pursuing complementary and alternative medicine, it's encouraging to see the interest that is out there both from the public and NIH. I will look forward to seeing more data from their website and will share with you.

Karla

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Sneaky Nutrition Part 2

With two soon-to-be 5-year-olds in the house, it is always a challenge to provide healthy snacks and meal items that everyone will eat and enjoy. Below are some of my recent successes:

Bowl of Veggies - This is the easiest and most basic advice ever. Make sure you have a bowl of fresh raw veggies on hand whenever possible. I often cut up celery, cucumbers, red and yellow pepper and mix them with some baby carrots in a big bowl. My kids will munch on them all day long.

On New Year's Eve, Karla and I along with our families and some mutual friends, got together to celebrate. Knowing that it would be a long night of partying for the kids and that not-so-healthy snacks and treats would be abundant, I brought my bowl of veggies along to make myself feel better. To my amazement, at the end of the night, the only empty bowl was the veggie bowl. The kids ate them all up amidst pizza, cookies, chips, etc. I was so very proud.

Frozen Bananas - I have to admit, my kids like their treats. And although I try to keep them to a minimum, the girls and I really enjoy cooking together and find ourselves huddled around the kitchen island whipping up a tasty dessert every now and again.

The other day we made chocolate covered frozen bananas. It was simple. I cut three bananas in half and gently slid sticks into them. We put the bananas on a cookie sheet and into the freezer for about an hour. Then we melted some organic chocolate chips along with a tablespoon or so of oil in a double boiler. Once the chocolate was completely melted we took the bananas out of the freezer and dipped/poured chocolate on them. Then back to the freezer for another hour to harden. This was a yummy treat and a little better for us than ice cream.

Turkey Loaf - I found a great recipe for meatloaf made with ground turkey the other day. It called for 4 cups of chopped fresh spinach and a cup of chopped fresh parsley among other yummy ingredients. It was very tasty and although its appearance was a little on the green side, the girls loved it. The recipe was in the February 2009 edition of Real Simple magazine.

Good luck and be sure to share some of your sneaky treats!

- Shannan

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Healthy Entrepreneurs

My husband pointed out this article in the latest edition of Forbes magazine about two women who have made a business out of providing healthy school lunches. They actually work out of a former McDonald's restaurant. It would be nice to see all school lunch programs go this way.

- Shannan

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Handy Reference for Vitamins and Minerals


I know I've said it before, but I love herbs. I think most of the world's problems could be solved with the right herb. Okay, that may be exaggerating. I just read Mountain Rose Herb's monthly newsletter and found a great article by Cori Young. It's titled Just Say No to Synthetic Vitamins and Processed Foods! In it she outlines several vitamins and minerals and great herbal sources. This is a great pocket reference to keep and use when looking for certain nutrients. In fact, I recommend printing the list and keeping it in a binder to reference in times of need. Here is a portion of the article that I found particularly useful...


~VITAMINS~
VITAMIN A: Enhances immunity, prevents eye problems and skin disorders. Important in bone and teeth formation. Protects against colds and infection. Slows aging process.
HERBAL SOURCES: Alfalfa, borage leaves, burdock root, cayenne, chickweed, eyebright, fennel seed, hops, horsetail, kelp, lemongrass, mullein, nettle, oat straw, paprika, parsley, peppermint, plantain, raspberry leaves, red clover, rose hips, sage, uva ursi, violet leaves, watercress, yellow dock.

VITAMIN B1 (Thiamine): Promotes growth, improves mental attitude, aids digestion, helps strengthen nervous system and prevent stress.
HERBAL SOURCES: Alfalfa, bladder wrack, burdock root, catnip, cayenne, chamomile, chickweed, eyebright, fennel seed, fenugreek, hops, nettle, oat straw, parsley, peppermint, raspberry leaves, red clover, rose hips, sage, yarrow, and yellow dock.

VITAMIN B2: (Riboflavin) Needed for red blood cell formation, aids growth and reproduction, promotes hair, skin and nail growth. Important in the prevention and treatment of cataracts.
HERBAL SOURCES: Alfalfa, bladder wrack, burdock root, catnip, cayenne, chamomile, chickweed, eyebright, fennel seed, fenugreek, ginseng, hops, horsetail, mullein, nettle, oat straw, parsley, peppermint, raspberry leaves, red clover, rose hips, sage, yellow dock.

VITAMIN B3 (Niacin): Essential for proper circulation and healthy skin. Increases energy, aids digestion, helps prevent migranes.
HERBAL SOURCES: Alfalfa, burdock root, catnip, cayenne, chamomile, chickweed, eyebright, fennel seed, hops, licorice, mullein, nettle, oat straw, parsley, peppermint, raspberry leaf, red clover, rose hips, slippery elm, yellow dock.

VITAMIN B5: (Pantothenic Acid)Enhances stamina, prevents anemia, helps wounds heal, fights infection, strengthens immune system.
HERBAL SOURCES: Alfalfa, burdock root, nettle, yellow dock.

VITAMIN B6: (Pyridoxine)Needed to produce hydrochloric acid. Aids in absorption of fats, and protein. Mildly diuretic, helps prevent kidney stones. Helpful in treating allergies, arthritis, and asthma.
HERBAL SOURCES: Alfalfa, catnip, oat straw.

VITAMIN B12: (cyanocobalamin)Helps prevent anemia. Protects nervous system, improves concentration, aids digestion.
HERBAL SOURCES: Alfalfa, bladder wrack, hops.

VITAMIN C: (ascorbic acid)Helps calcium and iron formation. Enhances immunity. Helps prevent cancer. Aids in production of anti-stress hormones. Antioxidant required for proper tissue growth and repair, and adrenal gland function.
HERBAL SOURCES: Alfalfa, burdock root, cayenne, chickweed, eyebright, fennel seed, fenugreek, hops, horsetail, kelp, peppermint, mullein, nettle, oat straw, paprika, parsley, pine needle, plantain, raspberry leaf, red clover, rose hips, skullcap, violet leaves, yarrow, yellow dock.

VITAMIN D: Essential for calcium and phosphorous utilization. Prevents rickets. Needed for normal growth of bones and teeth. Helps regulate heartbeat. Prevents cancer and enhances immunity. Aids thyroid function and blood clotting.
HERBAL SOURCES: Alfalfa, horsetail, nettle, parsley.

VITAMIN E: Antioxidant which helps prevent cancer and heart disease. Prevents cell damage. Reduces blood pressure and promotes healthy skin and hair.
HERBAL SOURCES: Alfalfa, bladder wrack, dandelion, dong quai, flaxseed, nettle, oat straw, raspberry leaf, rose hips.

VITAMIN K: Promotes healthy liver function. Helps bone formation and repair. Increases longevity.HERBAL SOURCES: Alfalfa, green tea, kelp, nettle, oat straw, shepherds purse.

~MINERALS~

CALCIUM: Builds and protects bones and teeth. Helps maintain regular heartbeat. Prevents muscle cramping.
HERBAL SOURCES: Alfalfa, burdock root, cayenne, chamomile, chickweed, chicory, dandelion, eyebright, fennel seed, fenugreek, flaxseed, hops, horsetail, kelp, lemongrass, mullein, nettle, oat straw, paprika, parsley, peppermint, plantain, raspberry leaf, red clover, rose hips, shepherd's purse, violet leaves, yarrow, yellow dock.

CHROMIUM: Vital in the synthesis of glucose and the metabolism of cholesterol, fats and proteins. Maintains blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
HERBAL SOURCES: Catnip, horsetail, licorice, nettle, oat straw, red clover, sarsaparilla, wild yam, yarrow.

COPPER: Converts iron to hemoglobin. Protects against anemia. Needed for healthy bones and joints.
HERBAL SOURCES: Sheep sorrel.

GERMANIUM: Helps fight pain, detoxify the body, and keep immune system functioning properly.
HERBAL SOURCES: Aloe vera, comfrey, ginseng, suma.

IODINE: Needed in trace amounts for a healthy thyroid gland , and to help metabolize excess fat. HERBAL SOURCES: Calendula, tarragon leaves, turkey rhubarb.

IRON: Essential for metabolism, and the production of hemoglobin.
HERBAL SOURCES: Alfalfa, burdock root, catnip, cayenne, chamomile, chickweed, chicory, dandelion, dong quai, eyebright, fennel seed, fenugreek, horsetail, kelp, lemongrass, licorice, milk thistle seed, mullein, nettle, oatstraw, paprika, parsley, peppermint, plantain, raspberry leaf, rose hips, sarsaparilla, shepherd's purse, uva ursi, yellow dock.

MAGNESIUM: Prevents calcification of soft tissue. Helps reduce and dissolve calcium phosphate kidney stones. Helps prevent birth defects. Improves cardiovascular system.
HERBAL SOURCES: Alfalfa, bladder wrack, catnip, cayenne, chamomile, chickweed, dandelion, eyebright, fennel, fenugreek, hops, horsetail, lemongrass, licorice, mullein, nettle, oat straw, paprika, parsley, peppermint, raspberry leaf, red clover, sage, shepherd's purse, yarrow, yellow dock.

MANGANESE: Minute quantities of this mineral are needed for healthy nerves, blood sugar regulation, normal bone growth, and thyroid hormone production.
HERBAL SOURCES: Alfalfa, burdock root, catnip, chamomile, chickweed, dandelion, eyebright, fennel seed, fenugreek, ginseng, hops, horsetail, lemongrass, mullein, parsley, peppermint, raspberry leaf, red clover, rose hip, wild yam, yarrow, yellow dock.

MOLYBDENUM: Small amounts of this mineral are required for nitrogen metabolism. Supports bone growth, and strengthens teeth.
HERBAL SOURCES: Red clover blossoms.

PHOSPHOROUS: Needed for teeth and bone formation, nerve impulse transfer, normal heart rhythm, and kidney function.
HERBAL SOURCES: Burdock root, turkey rhubarb, slippery elm bark.

POTASSIUM: Regulates water balance, and muscle function. Important for health nervous system and regular heart rhythm.
HERBAL SOURCES: Catnip, hops, horsetail, nettle, plantain, red clover, sage, skullcap.

SELENIUM: Provides an important trace element for prostrate gland in males. Protects immune system and helps regulate thyroid hormones.
HERBAL SOURCES: Alfalfa, burdock root, catnip, cayenne, chamomile, chickweed, fennel seed, ginseng, garlic, hawthorn berry, hops, horsetail, lemongrass, milk thistle nettle, oat straw, parsley, peppermint, raspberry leaf, rose hips, sarsaparilla, uva ursi, yarrow, yellow dock.

SULFUR: This mineral helps skin and hair. Fights bacterial infection. Aids liver function. Disinfects blood. Protects against toxic substances.
HERBAL SOURCES: Horsetail.

VANADIUM: Needed for cellular metabolism and formation of bones and teeth. Improves insulin utilization.
HERBAL SOURCES: Dill.

ZINC: Promotes growth and mental alertness. Accelerates healing. Regulates oil glands. Promotes healthy immune system, and healing of wounds.
HERBAL SOURCES: Alfalfa, burdock root, cayenne, chamomile, chickweed, dandelion, eyebright, fennel seed, hops, milk thistle, mullein, nettle, parsley, rose hips, sage, sarsaparilla, skullcap, wild yam.
If you have some time today, take a look at the whole article. I found it really helpful.

Karla

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Power of Positive Eating


I think diet can be a really nasty word to a lot of people. It evokes negativity and a sense of deprivation. I know that I never stick to a diet, but when it comes to eating right because it makes me feel better or to be healthy rather than a certain weight, my good habits have more staying power.

Over the past several months as I have been exploring what good nutrition really is and learning about eating a whole foods diet. Several people have asked how I can spend my day eating mainly fruits and veggies and if I am struggling not to eat the 'bad' stuff. My answer to them is that I feel good eating a certain way and that by adding the good foods, I am just not craving the bad stuff as much. I call this positive eating. I am not thinking about all of the things I am not eating all day, I am just making sure I fit all of the good things in.

Now this doesn't mean that I don't fall off the wagon every once in a while because I definitely do. As a wife and mother of two 5-year-olds, I do my best to prepare healthy meals, but I certainly can't or maybe don't ask my family eat to raw every night. They are open to a lot of new and different dishes but let's face it, we are going to grab a pizza every now and then. So rather than beat myself up, I just enjoy the pizza.

I was listening to a CD by raw guru David Wolfe a couple weeks ago and he was preaching the same idea of positive eating to a group of people who were clearly interested in losing weight. I was intriged by his message that you can indulge in certain things like chocolate, which he and I are both fans of, if you eat the pure cacoa rather than the processed, sugared up chocolate that we are all used to. It is about making different choices not deprivation. He also told his audience that if you do eat something that maybe you think you should not, enjoy it. The point was that if you are going to have a hamburger, at least don't ruin the experience by beating yourself up. Just eat it and move on.

This all makes perfect sense to me. If you are eating healthy most of the time, don't freak out when you indulge a little. If you are eating great and feeling great as a result, you won't want to binge on unhealthy food long-term. This is different than a traditional diet where you have a list of what is considered good and what is considered bad. It is the guilt, frustration and sense of failure that usually throws a person off the traditional diet track faster than the actual diet. Paying attention to how you feel and how your own body likes to eat for maximum energy and well-being will drive your behavior much more than a list of prohibited foods.

So add the good foods into your day and I believe the unhealthy ones will sort of find their way out of your daily intake. That has been my experience anyway. The moral of the story, spend more time focusing on feeling good rather than feeling guilty.

- Shannan

Friday, January 23, 2009

Mullein (Verbascum thapsus)

Mullein is a widely distributed plant found all over the world and usually collected in the wild state. You've probably seen this plant growing along the roadside and thought it was a weed. It is part of the Snapdragon family. Mullein a fantastic herb for many pulmonary (lung) complaints and I thought it would be a great time to talk about this herb with near record low temperatures affecting most of the US right now. I highly recommend getting some of this herb and curling up with a hot cup of tea every night until things warm up again.


Nutrients: Mullein contains many nutrients, but is especially high in these minerals and vitamins.
  • Minerals: potassium, calcium, cobalt, iron, magnesium, manganese, niacin, phosphorus, silicon, sodium, and sulphur.

  • Vitamins: vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, and B-Complex.

Natural Healing
  • This is a great herb to support and nourish the lungs and helps with most pulmonary complaints such as tuberculosis, coughs, bronchitis, croup, asthma. Mullein has a particular knack for loosening mucus and expelling it out of the body.


  • This herb is known to have a slight narcotic effect when taken which is extremely helpful to promote rest and relieve coughing. It is a very calming herb.


  • Oil of Mullein is great for ear infections and it's slight narcotic effect numbs the pain while the mullein is working to heal the infection. You can find commercial preparations of oil of mullein in most health food stores or make your own by soaking mullein in olive oil for about 3 weeks. It's best to do this in the sun, but in a warm spot near a fire or other heat source will work as well.


  • Due to it's soothing nature, mullein is also helpful to treat hemorrhoids, ulcers and inflammatory skin disorders.


  • Because of it's ability to sooth inflamed tissue and it's anti-bacterial properties, mullein has also been successful when used to treat painful urination, nephritis, and cystitis.

How to Use
  • The leaves, flowers and roots of this plant can all be used medicinally.

  • You can add a tablespoon or two of this herb to a Green Smoothie or sprinkle in a salad

  • Mullein makes a great tea (standard infusion). I love to curl up with a warm cup of this tea before bed on a cold night. It warms you inside and out and with the slight narcotic/calming effect this tea has helps you fall asleep.

  • To increase this herb's effectiveness when used for bronchitis and asthma, make a tea with equal parts Mullein and Lobelia.

  • Make a standard decoction. A decoction of this herb is about four times the strength of the infusion and much more astringent. A decoction of mullein is especially helpful for painful urination or cystitis.

Karla



Thursday, January 22, 2009

Clean Your Fruits and Veggies


In a perfect world, we would buy all of our groceries organic. Unfortunately, organic food is still more expensive (although the price is continually dropping) or even unavailable. To make wiser consumer choices here is a list of produce with the highest level of pesticide contamination. The following list is based on information and studies by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Consumer Reports, and the Environmental Working Group.

Nectarines – 97.3% of nectarines sampled were found to contain pesticides.
Celery – 94.5% of celery sampled were found to contain pesticides.
Pears – 94.4% of pears sampled were found to contain pesticides.
Peaches – 93.7% of peaches sampled were found to contain pesticides.
Apples – 91% of apples sampled were found to contain pesticides.
Cherries – 91% of cherries sampled were found to contain pesticides.
Strawberries – 90% of strawberries sampled were found to contain pesticides.
Imported Grapes – 86% of imported grapes (i.e. Chile) sampled were found to contain pesticides.
Spinach – 83.4% of spinach sampled were found to contain pesticides.
Potatoes – 79.3% of potatoes sampled were found to contain pesticides.
Bell Peppers – 68% of bell peppers sampled were found to contain pesticides.
Red Raspberries – 59% of red raspberries sampled were found to contain pesticides.

On the contrary, here is a list of fruits and veggies found to contain the least amout of pesticides. Notice that many of these have thick, inedible skins with protect the fruit.

Asparagus
Avocados
Bananas
Broccoli
Cauliflower
Corn (However, almost all corn is genetically modified)
Kiwi
Mangoes
Onions
Papaya
Pineapples
Sweet Peas

Below are three slightly different natural Fruit and Vegetable Wash Recipes that you can easily prepare at home to help wash off pesticides, dirt, little critters and wax from your fresh produce. I recommend that you clean all of your fruits and veggies (including the ones you peel) right when you bring them home. This way you and your family can just grab and go!

Lemon/Baking Soda Wash
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 Tbsp. baking soda
1 cup water

Put ingredients in a spray bottle. Be careful because it could foam up. Spray on vegetables, let sit 5 minutes then rinse with a scrub brush.

Vinegar/Salt Wash
1/4 cup vinegar
2 Tbsp. salt

Fill a clean sink or plastic dish pan with cold water and add vinegar and salt. Place vegetables and fruits in mixture and let sit 15 minutes then rinse thoroughly. The vinegar cleans the fruits and vegetables while the salt draws out any critters and dirt.

Lemon/Vinegar Wash
1 Tbsp. Lemon
2 Tbsp. Vinegar
1 cup water

Mix ingredients in a spray bottle, spray vegetables and fruits and rinse thoroughly. The lemon is a natural disinfectant and the vinegar neutralizes most pesticides.

- Shannan

Sources: gourmet food.about.com, www.livingonadime.com, www.thriftyfun.com, http://www.recipezaar.com/, videojug.com Photo from http://www.freefoto.com/

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

How to Make a Standard Decoction with Herbs

Okay, are you ready to ramp up your skills as an herbalist today? I'm going to teach you a new way to use herbs medicinally.

A standard decoction is a tea made from thicker plant parts, such as bark, roots, seeds, or berries. These also contain lignin, a substance that is difficult to dissolve in water. Thus decoctions require a more vigorous extraction method than infusions (tea). Standard decoctions are still only temporary extracts and should be discarded if not used after 6 hours. I recommend making a fresh batch in the morning and using it throughout the day and then discarding any leftover at the end of the day.

For a decoction use about 1 1/2 ounces of plant to 1 quart of water. Here is the procedure

  • Place ground plant into a suitable pot with a lid. Never use aluminum cookware as it can react with certain herbs

  • Pour in 1 quart of cold water. Mix to uniformity.

  • Place container over heat. Once material comes to a boil, set your timer for 15 minutes of boiling time.

  • Remove from heat and cool to 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • Pour your decoction through a strainer, expressing juice from the plant material. You should have slightly less than the 1 quart you started with, so pour additional cold water through the strainer and into the holding vessel until the 1 quart level is reached.
I like to just use glass Ball or Mason jars to store and mix herbs. They are easy to find, safe, and inexpensive.

Decoctions are different chemically than standard infusions of an herb which is why you might consider making them. Different nutritive healing properties will be released when a decoction is made than will be released through a standard infusion. In future herb posts, I will try to point out which herbs are good for making a standard decoction and what you can expect from them.

Karla

Monday, January 19, 2009

Benefits of Exercise


Living a Whole Life means more than just eating right. Regular exercise can make you feel better, give you more energy to do the things you need and want to do each day and may even help you live longer.

If you need motivation to start an exercise program or to keep up with the one you already have, the merits of exercise are hard to ignore. Exercise can help prevent chronic health conditions, boost confidence and self esteem regardless of age, sex or physical ability.

Below are 7 benefits of regular physical activity:

1. Exercise improves your mood.
Need to blow off some steam after a stressful day? A workout at the gym or a brisk 30-minute walk can help you calm down. Exercise stimulates various brain chemicals, which may leave you feeling happier and more relaxed than you were before you worked out. You'll also look better and feel better when you exercise regularly, which can boost your confidence and improve your self-esteem. Exercise even reduces feelings of depression and anxiety.

2. Exercise combats chronic diseases.
Worried about heart disease? Hoping to prevent osteoporosis? Regular exercise might be the ticket. Regular exercise can help you prevent — or manage — high blood pressure. Your cholesterol will benefit, too. Regular exercise boosts high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or "good," cholesterol while decreasing low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or "bad," cholesterol. This one-two punch keeps your blood flowing smoothly by lowering the buildup of plaques in your arteries.
And there's more. Regular exercise can help you prevent type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and certain types of cancer.

3. Exercise helps you manage your weight.
Want to drop those excess pounds? Trade some couch time for walking or other physical activities. This one's a no-brainer. When you exercise, you burn calories. The more intensely you exercise, the more calories you burn — and the easier it is to keep your weight under control. You don't even need to set aside major chunks of time for working out. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Walk during your lunch break. Do jumping jacks during commercials. Better yet, turn off the TV and take a brisk walk. Dedicated workouts are great, but activity you accumulate throughout the day helps you burn calories, too.

4. Exercise strengthens your heart and lungs.
Winded by grocery shopping or household chores? Don't throw in the towel. Regular exercise can leave you breathing easier. Exercise delivers oxygen and nutrients to your tissues. In fact, regular exercise helps your entire cardiovascular system — the circulation of blood through your heart and blood vessels — work more efficiently. Big deal? You bet! When your heart and lungs work more efficiently, you'll have more energy to do the things you enjoy.

5. Exercise promotes better sleep.
Struggling to fall asleep? Or stay asleep? It might help to boost your physical activity during the day. A good night's sleep can improve your concentration, productivity and mood. And, you guessed it, exercise is sometimes the key to better sleep. Regular exercise can help you fall asleep faster and deepen your sleep. The timing is up to you — but if you're having trouble sleeping, you might want to try late afternoon workouts. The natural dip in body temperature five to six hours after you exercise might help you fall asleep.

6. Exercise can put the spark back into your sex life.
Are you too tired to have sex? Or feeling too out of shape to enjoy physical intimacy? Exercise to the rescue. Regular exercise can leave you feeling energized and looking better, which may have a positive effect on your sex life.

7. Exercise can be — gasp — fun!
Wondering what to do on a Saturday afternoon? Looking for an activity that suits the entire family? Get physical! Exercise doesn't have to be drudgery. Take a ballroom dancing class. Check out a local climbing wall or hiking trail. Push your kids on the swings or climb with them on the jungle gym. Plan a neighborhood kickball or touch football game. Find an activity you enjoy, and go for it. If you get bored, try something new. If you're moving, it counts!
Are you convinced? Good. Start reaping the benefits of physical activity today!

Source: MayoClinic.com

Friday, January 16, 2009

Is Raw Milk More Nutritious?



Okay! I promise! This is the last time I will mention raw milk for a very long time! Just a few more thoughts and then I will lay it to rest. :) I just had a few more interesting statistics and facts and then I'm done. I also hope I haven't given you all the impression that I think that everyone, everywhere should drink raw milk 24/7. Let me assure you I don't. I think it's one of many nutrient rich foods that can be part of a healthy diet. I don't drink milk daily and sometimes we go periods of time where we don't drink very much at all. I think the world is a big place with lots of healthy, delicious food to enjoy. Shannan and I want to give all of you as much information in making choices as possible.

In my previous posts about raw milk, I talked about the immunities, proteins, and enzymes raw milk possesses. While in those posts this was important for different reasons, I would point out now that these add to the nutritional value of raw milk. In addition to those nutrients, raw milk has a surplus of other nutrients that pasteurized milk is either lacking or is greatly diminished . These nutrients include:

  • There is a lower Vitamin C count in pasteurized milk than raw. Raw milk but not pasterized can resolve scurvy. "...without doubt...the explosive increase in infantile scurvy during the latter part of the 19th century coincided with the advent of use of heated milks..." Rajakumar, Pediatrics. 2001: 108(4): E76
  • Calcium is more available in raw milk as evidenced by a study which showed longer and denser bones on raw milk. Studies from Randleigh Farms.
  • Folate is more available in raw milk as a carrier protein is inactivated during pasteurization. Gregory. J. Nutr. 1982, 1329-1338.
  • Vitamin B12 is more available in raw milk because a binding protein is inactivated by pasteurization.
  • Vitamin A is more available in raw milk because Heat degrades Vitamin A. Am J Clin Nutr. 1989;49:690-694. Runge and Hegar. J Agric Food Chem. 2000 Jan; 48(1): 47-55.
  • Iron is more available for absorption in raw millk as Lactoferrin, which contributes to iron assimilation, is destroyed during pasteurization.
  • Iodine is lower in pasteurized milk. Wheeler and others. J Dairy Sci. 1983; 66(2): 187-195.
  • Minerals are more available in raw milk because Lactobacilli, which are destroyed by pasteurization, enhance mineral absoprtion. MacDonald and others. 1985.
  • Vitamin D is also almost 66% less in pasteurized milk than raw milk, which is why it needs to be added to commercial milks.
  • Raw milk is rich in CLA (conjugated linoleic acid, a fatty acid naturally occurring in grass-fed beef and milk) which reduces body fat and protects against cancer.

It's also worth noting that not only raw milk contains more nutrients than pasteurized milk, but raw milk from cows or goats that are pastured contains even more great nutrients. Let's just talk for a minute about what cows/goats eat and how that affects their milk. There is I hope an increasing awareness that you are not only what you eat; but you are also what you eat, eats. Are you still with me?? :) So if you plant beautiful carrots in a cesspool - you are still eating a cesspool. If you feed your cows horrible food and keep them in filth, you can expect the milk you receive to be filled with the same. Let's look at things that have been fed to cows and the nutritional implications for the consumer.

  • Soy - Soy is not easily digested as it needs to be fermented for a cow to digest it. The resultant milk contains an allergenic soy protein and estrogenic isoflavones.

  • GMO's - The milk from cows fed GMO (genetically modified organisms) grains contain aflatoxins and (liver toxins).

  • Bakery waste -Cows fed bakery waste produce milk that contain trans-fatty acids.

  • Hormones and antibiotics - Of course, milk from cows that are fed antibiotics and hormones contain - you guessed it antibiotics and hormones.

  • Ethanol pellets - If cows are fed pellets from ethanol production the milk contains the chemicals from ethanol production.

It's really kind of scary how much we as consumers have to trust our health to strangers when navigating those grocery aisles. Be careful!


Another interesting benefit to drinking local raw milk is that the cows pick up immunities to local viruses, bacteria and allergens. For instance, one farmer noticed that after grazing his milk goats in a field with poison ivy and then drinking the milk, he no longer broke out in a rash when he came into contact with the plant.


Some sources suggest that raw goat's milk might be an even better option than raw cow's milk. For one thing raw goat's milk is more easily digested and assimilated than cow's milk. It is closer in composition to human milk than cow's milk and therefore less waste will be thrown off in the digestion of it. Additionally goat's milk is very rich in potash and fluorine which makes it naturally more antimicrobial.

Dr. Bernard Jensen, famed iridologist and raw foodist, recommended "his drink" in times of cleansing, fasting, and nutritional healing. He mixed half raw goat's milk with raw carrot or raw green juice. I've tried it - it's not bad.


Now, back to some herb talk... :)




Karla

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Why Eat Raw?

If you read my New Year's resolutions, you may have noticed that one of my goals for 2009 is to increase my daily Raw food intake. I started learning about the benefits of Raw food before I made the decision to actually study holistic nutrition. One day I decided to look up different vegetables and read about their nutrional value. I was blown away by all of the really great benefits each individual vegetable posesses. (More on that later.) From there I started learning more about how cooking or overcooking (as most of us do) our veggies, pretty much breaks down/removes most of the nutritients and enzymes that our bodies need. Thus my journey into Raw.

Raw fruits and vegetables are full of vitamins, minerals, proteins and enzymes that help our bodies function properly. They promote healthy cell growth, help to remove toxins and fight disease. They are essential to living a healthy, whole life and most of us don't get nearly enough.

Specifically, eating Raw food increases the phytonutrients you get from your food. Phytonutrients/phytochemicals are "plant nutrients" generally concentrated in the skin of many fruits and vegetables. Phytonutrient-rich fruits and vegetables contain potent antioxidants that can neutralize free radical damage, which not only provides anti-aging protection, but is suspected to help prevent diseases like cancer and heart disease. The reason it is so important to eat plant foods Raw is that these chemicals are heat sensitive and will lose most of the powerful phytonutrient benefits if heated over 130 degrees.

Raw plant foods also provide digestive enzymes which help to break down the food you eat, high-quality protein without all of the fat that animal proteins contain and plenty of fiber to keep everything flowing, if you know what I mean. Once again, it is important to eat organic produce whenever possible to keep the herbicides, pesticides and other nasty things to a minimum.

One article I read defined the Raw food diet as follows:
"The Raw Food Diet is a pure vegetarian diet consisting of mostly raw organic fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Food is consumed in its natural whole state and not heated above 118 degrees F."

I would venture to guess that their are very few people that eat a 100 percent Raw diet. And, although most individuals on what is known as a 'high' Raw diet, where they will eat some cooked food, are Vegan (which means they consume no animal products or by-products), I believe that no matter where you are on your food journey, adding more Raw can be a powerful, positive step. For the record, although I have cut down on my consumption of animal products, I am not Vegan and manage to eat a moderate to high Raw diet most days. (No, I don't eat Raw meat.)

To increase my intake of Raw fruits and vegetables, I have started juicing which was discussed in a previous post, drink green smoothies most everyday and have tried a few Raw recipes. The smoothies and the juicing really help to increase the amount of fruits and veggies you can take in in a day. It has become a little addicting. I literally get a boost of energy after a glass of fresh green juice.

But back to reality, the Raw recipes so far have been good, but require a little tastebud adjustment. The flavors are overwhelming, believe it or not, and will take some getting used to. One that worked for my family and I will try again is a Raw Pasta sauce. Now true Raw foodies would eat this over thinly sliced zucchini (which I slightly steamed for myself). For my family though, I served the Raw sauce over cooked whole wheat pasta. I thought that was a good compromise. So here is the recipe:

Raw Pasta Sauce
3 cups chopped tomatoes
1 1/2 cups sun dried tomatoes
1 sprig basil (about 10 large leaves)
7-10 sun dried black cured olives (I found cured black olives at Whole Foods, don't forget to remove the pits)

Pulse tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes, basil and olives in the blender until blended but still a little chunky. Pour over zucchini or pasta, but go easy on it compared to cooked pasta sauce. The flavor is much stronger.

Whether you are adding a few more carrot sticks to your lunch or are trying full-on Raw, I wish you the best of luck and would love to hear what has worked for you!

- Shannan

Sources: Kristen's Raw: The Easy Way to Get Stared & Succeed at the Raw Food Vegan Diet & Lifestyle and Raw Food Starter Guide/10 Healthy Recipes to Get you Started on Raw Foods! by Cecilia Benjumea.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Is Raw Milk Easier To Digest??



Well hopefully in my last post I was able so show you the safety of raw milk. I really didn't intend for this to become a series, but there is so much great information out there that didn't lend itself to just one post. Today, I would like to discuss how much easier raw milk is for our bodies to digest. Two big issues people encounter when drinking milk or consuming dairy products are milk allergies and lactose intolerance. Many people have sworn off dairy altogether due to issues such as these. Interestingly, pasterization may be to blame for both of these issues due to denatured proteins and lack of digestive enzymes.


Proteins in Milk


First, let me tell you about the proteins in milk. These proteins are three dimensional, like tinker toys, and very fragile. They carry vitamins and minerals through the gut into the blood stream; make up enzymes; enhance the immune system, and protect against disease. Pasteurization and ultra-pasteurization flatten or denature the three-dimensional proteins, and destroy their biological activity. There is some evidence to suggest that the body thinks these denatured proteins are actually foreign proteins and will mount an immune defense against the molecules. This may explain why so many people have an allergic reaction when they drink pasteurized milk. Some studies suggest that these immune attacks may be partially responisble for asthma. There is even more evidence linking these reactions to atheroslerosis, diabetes and obesity later in life.


Enzymes in Raw Milk


Next, let's talk a little about lactose intolerance. Enzymes in raw milk, when activated by the appropriate pH of the digestive tract, become active and digest all the components in the milk. Once again, we really need to talk more about enzymes and their importance. That is on my list for a later series. But for now, the high heat involved in pasteurization kills the enzymes in raw milk. If those enzymes are not present, the body must produce enzymes to digest the milk which stresses the body, robs our immune system of vital componenets, and makes it difficult if not impossible for many to digest pasteurized milk. This difficulty in digestion leads many to believe they are lactose intolerant. In a private survey conducted in Michigan, 85 percent of those diagnosed as lactose intolerant can drink raw milk without a problem. The problem isn't the milk, it's actually the lack of enzymes present to help digest the milk.

Interesting Studies

  • In 2001 researchers performed a study looking at the connection between asthma and raw milk. The Lancet reported that long-term and early-life exposure to stables and raw farm milk induces a strong protective effect agains the development of asthma, hay fever and atopic sensitization [rashes]. Lancet. 2001 Oct 6; 358(9288): 1129-33.

  • In 2006 researchers in London reported that children who even infrequently drank raw milk had significantly less current eczema symptoms and a greater reduction in atopy (allergic hypersensitivity). J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2006 Jun; 117(6): 1374-81.


  • In 2007 in a study of 14, 893 children aged 5-13, consumption of raw milk was the strongest factor in reducing the risk of asthma and allergy. The benefits were greatest when consumption of farm milk began during the first year of life. Clinical and Experimental Allergy. 2007 May; 35(5) 627-630.

As our study of raw milk continues, does that carton of pasteurized, organic milk in your refrigerator seem less appealing? I know, I've been there. Again if you want to get even more in depth information, please check out the Campaign for Real Milk site.



Monday, January 12, 2009

Kristen's Raw


I will tell you right up front that Kristen Suzanne, author of a series of Kristen's Raw food books/un-cooked recipe books is a friend of mine. We met over ten years ago at a small gym where we both worked out incessantly, as well as trained for and competed in some amateur body building competitions together. She ended up moving out West and we lost touch. In that time she went from eating a body builder's diet to living a Vegan/High Raw lifestyle. We got back in touch recently and I credit her for my Green Smoothie habit and Raw food awareness.

Kristen is a chef and authority on the Raw/Vegan lifestyle. She is encouraging and inspirational in her enthusiasm for clean eating and a true believer that good nutrition prevents disease. I recently read her book Kristen's Raw: The Easy Way to Get Started & Succeed at the Raw Food Vegan Diet & Lifestyle and I have to say, if you are at all interested in going Raw, even a little bit, you may want to pick this up. She explains why Raw is important, the health benefits of going Raw and how to go about transitioning all or a portion of your diet.

Personally, I have been able to incorporate many of her ideals and suggestions into my non-Vegan diet and believe that no matter where you are in your journey to eat better and live a more holistic lifestyle, there are benefits to be had.

For more information check out http://www.kristensraw.com/ or http://kristensraw.blogspot.com/

- Shannan


Friday, January 9, 2009

Is Raw Milk Safe?


Here is a topic today that may give a few people pause. There seems to be a lot of misinformation about raw milk as evidenced by a recent comment from a friend of mine. The topic of me purchasing raw milk for the last year came up and she asked me, "Don't you guys get sick from that?" I have to interject a little humor here - would I really purchase something and require my family to consume it if it made us sick?? I know I'm a nut, but cut me a little slack. :)

You might wonder what exactly raw milk is? Well it's simply milk straight from a cow or goat that hasn't gone through the pasteurization process. It's usually purchased fresh from a local farmer. I started purchasing raw goat's milk from a local farmer about a year ago and will soon change to raw cow's milk from another local farmer. The goats and cows are pastured as much as possible and fed pesticide-free grain when supplemented.

There has been a lot of negative press about raw milk and the public perception is that you will contract horrible diseases like listeria if you consume milk raw. Let me give you some interesting information about the safety of raw milk.

Raw milk has built in protective systems, most of which are destroyed during pasteurization
  • Raw milk contains lactoperoxidase which uses small amounts of H2O2 and free radicals to seek out and destroy bacteria. Interestingly other countries are looking at using lactoperoxidase instead of pasteurization to ensure the safety of commercial milk as well as for preserving other foods.


  • Raw milk contains lactoferrin which steals iron away from pathogens and carries it through the gut wall into the blood stream and uses it to stimulate the immune system. Lactoferrin will kill a wide range of pathogens but does not kill beneficial gut bacteria. In fact, in a study involving mice bred to be susceptible to tuberculosis, treatment with lactoferrin significantly reduced the burden of tuberculosis organisms.


  • Raw milk contains B-lymphocytes which kill foreign bacteria and call in other parts of the immune system for support.


  • Raw milk contains macrophages which engulf foreign proteins and bacteria.


  • Raw milk contains neutrophils which kill infected cells and mobilize other parts of the immune system.


  • Raw milk contains T-lymphocytes that will multiply if bad bacteria are present and produce immune-strengthening compounds.


  • Raw milk contains Immunoglobulins (IgM, IgA, IgG1, IgG2) which transfer immunity. This is especially helpful if you purchase milk from a local source as the cow/goat will build immunities to local bacteria, virus, and allergens which will then be passed through the milk.


  • Raw milk contains antibodies which bind to foreign microbes to prevent them from migrating outside the gut and initiate immune response.


  • Raw milk contains polysaccharides which encourage the growth of good bacteria in the gut and protect the gut wall.


  • Raw milk contains oligosaccharides which protect other components from being destroyed by stomach acids and enzymes; bind to bacteria and prevent them from attaching to the gut lining; and other functions just being discovered.


  • Raw milk contains medium-chain fatty acids and enzymes which disrupt cell walls of bad bacteria.


  • Raw milk contains hormones and growth factors (natural ones - not the added synthetic kind) which stimulate maturation of gut cells and prevent leaky gut.


  • Raw milk contains mucins which adhere to bacteria and viruses, preventing those organisms from attaching to the mucosa and causing disease.


  • Raw milk contains fibronectin which increases anti-microbial activity of macrophages and helps to repair damaged tissues.


  • Raw milk contains glycomacropeptide which inhibits bacterial/viral adhesion, suppresses gastric secretion, and promotes bifido-bacterial growth.


  • Raw milk contains B12 binding protein which reduces vitamin B12 in the colon which harmful bacteria need for growth.


  • Raw milk contains bifidus factor which promotes the growth of Lactobacillus bifidus, a helpful bacteria which helps crowd out dangerous germs.


  • Raw milk contains beneficial bacteria like Lactobacilli and bifidus bacteria which crowd out bad bacteria and produce lactic acid that kills bad bacteria.

Whew! Sorry about that! That was way too much information and I almost didn't include everything, but I really want to impress upon you what raw milk contains that contributes to it's safety. Not only do all of these components protect the milk and make it safe for drinking, but all these components are added to your body through drinking the milk. This gives your own immune system a huge boost.

Here's the bad news. When milk is pasteurized most of these components are completely inactivated and those that remain are greatly reduced in their capacity to fight bacteria. Studies as early as 1938 showed that heating milk actually supports the growth of harmful bacteria by inactivating "inhibins" (factors that inhibit bacterial growth).


Raw milk is often blamed for causing infections with dangerous ornganisms. One such organism is Listeria monocytogenes which is a deadly food pathogen that can cause severe illness, fetal death, premature birth or neonatal illness and death. A 2003 USDA/FDA report, compared to raw milk one is 515 times more likely to contract Listeria from deli meat and 29 times more likely to receive Listeria from pasteurized milk than from raw milk. In response to a Freedom of information request the CDC provided data on raw milk outbreaks from 1993-2005. During this time there were no cases of food borne illness from raw milk caused by Listeria.

In addition to not containing harmful bacteria, there is some evidence that suggests that raw milk will actually fight harmful bacteria that comes into contact with it. Researchers in 1987 added Campylobacter to chilled raw milk. On day 0 there was 13,000,000 bacteria per ml. On day 9 there were less than 10 bacteria per ml. In another challenge test in 2000, researchers found that Lactoperoxidase in raw milk kills added fungal and bacterial agents. As recently as 2002 BSK Food and Dairy Laboratories inoculated raw colostrum and raw milk with three pathogens. The pathogen counts declined over time and in some cases were undetectable within a week. The conclusion of this test was that raw colostrum and raw milk does not appear to support the growth of Salmonella, E. Coli or Listeria monocytogenes. Just as a point of reference it's interesting to note that E. Coli can survive on coins for 7-11 days at room temperature and Salmonella can survive 1-9 days on pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters. These are fairly hardy organisms.

Raw Milk versus Pasteurized Milk


From 1980 to 2005, the CDC attributed 19,531 illnesses to consumption of pasteurized milk and milk products. This is 10.7 times the number of illnesses attributed to raw milk during the same period. Raw milk sales represent about 1% of the nations total milk sales. Adjusting for bias, pasteurized milk is 1.1 and 15.3 times more dangerous than raw milk on a per-serving basis.

Why do we pasteurize?


During the 1800s the death rate was 50% among urban children drinking "Swill Milk" or milk produced in inner city confinement dairies. The cows in these dairies were fed brewery swill and raised in unimaginable filth. In addition, water was often added to the milk to make it go further. To combat the poor quality milk the famous germ scientist, Louis Pasteur, called for pasteurization, or heating, of all milk in order to make it free of any potentially harmful bacteria, no matter how it changed the quality of the milk. It was never meant to be a permanent fix, but only a temporary remedy until milk could be clean again. In time, inner-city swill dairies were outlawed, milking hygiene was improved, and consumer access to refrigeration was improved thereby making pasteurization unnecessary. Unfortunately though, pasteurization has become a way of life and most can't imagine drinking milk any other way.

So in a word, yes, raw milk is safe and arguably safer than pasteruized milk. However, raw milk like any food is only safe if it's produced under safe conditions. It's very important when choosing a raw milk source that you know your farmer and make sure that he is following safe farming practices. For more information check out the Campaign for Real Milk site.


Karla

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Winter Health Survival Guide: 10 Easy Steps


I found this post on Healthy Child Healthy World and thought it was great. So I am sharing...
- Shannan

Posted by Janelle Sorensen November 24, 2008 on the Healthy Child Healthy World blog.

‘Tis the season of sniffles, sneezes, fevers, and flu. At my house, we’re in the midst of virus cycle number one and I just pulled out the vaporizer for the first time of the season. As my daughter and I waited for the little engine to warm up after months of sitting idly in the basement, we spoke glumly about how much we despise the string of illness and misery winter inevitably brings. Then a thought emerged from the cloud of congestion that had taken over my cognition, “Why is every winter so filled with illness and why do we just hopelessly accept that fate?” This winter we are fighting back, and you can too. Keep your family in tip-top shape by following these easy tips.

1. Get plenty of Zzzzz
Studies show that sleep deprivation can make you more susceptible to illness by reducing the number of cells in your body dedicated to fighting things like microbes. The average adult needs about 6-8 hours of sleep. A newborn may need up to 18 hours a day, toddlers require 12 to 13 hours, and preschoolers need about 10 hours. If your child doesn’t nap, try putting him or her to bed earlier.

2. Bust a family move
Exercising increases your sickness-fighting cells. Get the whole family in the habit of exercising together to improve your health and to enjoy some quality time together. Try walking, hiking, biking, yoga, or just crank up some fun music and have a dance-off.

3. Engage in germ warfare
• Make sure everyone washes their hands often with soap. Ditch the antibacterials because research shows plain soap is just as effective. Sing the ABC’s while vigorously lathering palms, between fingers, around nail beds, and the backs of hands. Pay particular attention to hand hygiene before and after each meal, after playing outside, using the bathroom, handling pets, blowing noses, and after being anywhere in public. • When you're out and about, carry non-toxic wipes or hand sanitizer with you for quick cleanups. Check out CleanWell’s plant-based, biodegradable products, All Terrain Hand Sanz Fragrance Free Antiseptic Hand Sanitizer, or EO Hand Sanitizer. • If someone in the family gets sick, keep his toothbrush separate from everyone else’s. Give it a good soak in boiling water or run it through the dishwasher after the illness isn’t contagious anymore to get rid of any lingering germs or viruses. • Wash your hand towels in hot water every three or four days during cold and flu season.• Sneeze and cough into your arm or a tissue. Coughing into your hands puts the germs right where you can spread them to any object (or person) you touch.

4. Drink up
You have probably heard how important it is to drink plenty of fluids when you are ill, but it’s just as important for preventing illness. Adequate hydration keeps the tissues of the respiratory system moist, which prevents microbes from settling in. Hydration also helps the immune system work properly. Opt for fresh, filtered water.

5. Air out
Open a window or two in your home just a crack for a few minutes each day. You’ll let out indoor air pollutants that may be stressing your immune systems as well as chase away germs.

6. Keep it cool
An overheated home promotes dry air, the perfect environment for viruses to thrive. And when your mucous membranes (i.e., nose, mouth, and tonsils) dry out, they can't trap those germs very well. Lowering the heat in your house 5 degrees and using a room humidifier helps maintain a healthier level of humidity in the winter. Buy a hygrometer to measure humidity and keep your home at around 50 percent.

7. Relax
Declare a family time out each day. During these few minutes have everyone close their eyes, breathe deep, and think happy. Meditation reduces stress. Reduced stress means less susceptibility to illness.

8. Pump up with produce
Carrots, kiwis, raisins, green beans, oranges, strawberries: they all contain such immunity-boosting phytonutrients as vitamin C and carotenoids. Cruciferous vegetables including broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, are good sources of betacarotene and help protect against free-radical damage. They also contain vitamin C and calcium. Try to get your child to eat five servings of fruits and veggies a day. Eat at least half of them raw and when you do cook them, be careful not to overcook. Overcooking destroys the immune enhancing properties. Learn more about feeding your immune system.

9. Go easy on the sweets
Sugar makes the body acidic, just the way pathogens like it (they thrive on sugar). So especially during cold and flu season, reduce sugar intake (that includes corn syrup and HFCS, as well).

10. Take a supplement
According to Dr. Alan Greene, “most kids today do NOT get the micronutrients they need from what they eat. Not by a long shot. By some estimates, only 2% of kids regularly eat the recommended number of servings of different food groups.
 A daily multivitamin/mineral is more than just a safety net for occasional nutritional shortages, it is an important tool to support healthy growth and a healthy life for your child.” Talk to your physician about your child’s specific nutritional needs and check out Dr. Greene’s Nutritional Supplements.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Red Clover (Trifollium Pratense)



It's time once again for an herb talk! Today I want to talk about Red Clover. Other names for Red Clover are Purple Clover, Cleaver Grass, Meadow Clover, Bee Bread, Trefoil, and Cow Grass. For Red Clover we are only interested in the blossoms of the plant. The funny thing about this herb is that most of us have this growing abundantly in our own backyards or that field next to us. If you trust the nutrient content of the soil in your backyard and don't use chemicals - harvest and dry some of this herb.
Nutrients
  • Vitamins: Vitamin C, B-complex, Vitamin A, Vitamin F, Vitamin P, and Vitamin E.


  • Minerals: tin (very high), chromium (very high), calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, postassium, iron, copper, selenium, cobalt, nickel, manganese, sodium, and molybdenum.

Natural Healing

  • Because of its unique assortment of nutrients, Red Clover shows an affinity for the digestive, urinary, respiratory and glandular systems.

  • Blood purifier, especially when used in an infusion with burdock and blue flag. A blood purifying herb will help restore your body to a state of balance and health by purifying the blood and getting rid of impurities. It will also improve the function of the organs that are involved with filtering the blood such as the kidney's, liver, bowels and lymphatic system. This will result in clearer skin, more energy and organs that function optimally. Blood purifying herbs give you a gentle way to detox. In addition they also increase the body's production of urine and mucous and will promote menstrual flow. These are all avenues that the body can use to carry toxins out.
  • Used to treat cancer especially esophageal and breast, auto-immune disorders, inflammatory skin conditions, bronchitis, jaundice, hot flashes, kidney problems, inflammatory bowel disorders, liver disease, skin disorders and a weakened immune system.
  • Helps to increase milk supply in nursing mothers.

  • Red Clover has antibiotic properties against several bacteria especially the pathogen that causes tuberculosis.

Warnings: You should avoid Red Clover if you are pregnant or taking anticoagulant medication.

How to use

I don't currently have any of this wonderful herb, but I know what I will be purchasing the next time I place my order with either Mountain Rose or Frontier.


I want to add a side note about herb use. I know there is a mainstream tendency to come out with a new supplement that will save your life and everyone rushes to buy it only to be disappointed with the results. Some examples would be echinacea, St. Johns wort, L-Tryptophan, and etc. When you read about herbs look to see the systems that the herb supports and the conditions that the herb has been used to treat. Each herb has a unique combination of vitamins and nutrients and should be used to correct deficiencies or to support organ systems that need that combination. If you have a deficiency or imbalance you will notice a difference, if you don't have a deficiency or imbalance you may not notice a difference, but can rest assured that your body is using those nutrients and probably preventing you from future difficulties in those organ systems. Everyone has their own unique needs from a nutritional standpoint and you should choose an herb or combination of herbs that match what you are experiencing not what the latest supplement craze tells you to buy.

Karla

Monday, January 5, 2009

Food Matters Video


I just received my Food Matters video in the mail this week and could not wait to watch it. I ran across the trailer for this dvd on Facebook of all places and was intrigued. The basic premise of this documentary is that "you are what you eat" which we have all heard a hundred times, but I don't believe it has really sunk in for most people.

So I got the girls to bed and sat down with my husband to watch it last night. I thought it was great and if you believe, like Karla and I do, that nutrition can and does influence your overall health and likelihood of disease, you will love it. The film was made up of several experts in holistic nutrition, raw eating and vitamin supplementation. They all believe that our typical western diet is the cause for many if not all of our major ailments and when I say ailments I mean the biggies like heart disease, cancer, diabetes, etc. We all know this in the back of our minds but they actually showed how cancer can be reversed - impressive.

I went to bed last night inspired and motivated to study hard and learn more about holistic nutrition and to do a better job of eating myself. We really do need to eat our fruits and veggies. They can be life savers!

If you are interested, I believe that you can download the film for $4.95 or purchase it for $29.95 at http://www.foodmatters.tv/index.html. To any of my local friends, I have it if you would like to borrow it!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Good Housekeeping


One area that I have yet to delve into is the area of natural cleaning supplies. It might have something to do with my dislike of housekeeping :) or it may be my secret love of the smell of a freshly Pine Sol cleaned room. At any rate, I would really like to find some natural cleaners to protect my family from harmful chemicals and also to protect the environment. I've struggled in this area in the past because I've tried products that didn't clean well or that were marketed as natural, but contained as many harmful chemicals as any other cleaners. Today I would love it if you could give me some tips. Write in and let me know what your favorite natural housecleaning and laundry products are and why. I would love to hear about commercial products or even better, products that you make at home. For instance, I've heard that vinegar is a great cleaning product, but how do you use it?? Give me some tips people! I look forward to hearing from you!
-Karla

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Goal Setting


With the new year upon us, it is time to embrace what is ahead and set some goals for 2009. These could be the same goals from last years that haven't quite come to fruition or they may be fresh, new milestones that you hope to achieve. Either way, I hope you have the focus and motivation to make one or two goals a reality this year.

Embracing the belief that sharing goals publicly holds a person more accountable and increases the chance of follow-through, I will share a few of my goals for 2009 and I hope you will share some of yours, big or small. (And, in June if you can't for the life of you remember what those goals were, they will be available in the Living a Whole Life archives for you to browse.)

My 2009 Goals
1. to complete my holistic nutrition studies and earn my Certificate in Nutritional Counseling
2. to increase my daily raw food intake through juicing or munching to 75%
3. to run 10 miles by August so I can participate in a popular race in my area
4. to feel young, energized and ready to take on the world when I turn the big 4-0 in the Spring
5. to increase blog visits and interaction by providing informative posts that help others improve their health and well-being. (so please keep reading and share!)

I could go on and on, but you get the picture. Now let us know what you want to accomplish in the next 12 months. Okay, I will start for you...

1. to read Living a Whole Life as often as possible...now the rest is up to you!!

Happy New Year!!

- Shannan (and Karla)
This blog is for informational purposes only. Nothing in this blog is intended to replace the advice of a physician. We recommend consulting a physician before embarking on diet changes or a fitness routine. In addition, we recommend that you thoroughly research alternate points of view and make your own decisions as an informed consumer. You are ultimately responsible for your health.