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Author Archive for Randy Lee

Parasites – Get Rid of Them!

If you’re a regular reader of my blogs, you know that this year I am giving you a breakdown of my personal cleansing regimen.  Well, this month is my annual parasite cleanse. We have cats, sheep, goats, and visiting dogs (family pets) at our house which I care for daily. I sometimes drink from my water faucet. And I often eat fresh veggies and fruit from my garden without washing them – straight off the tree/vine/plant! So, I know I have some parasites!!! In a previous blog I commented that virtually all of us carry some parasites. Hopefully you’ve been careful enough not to have a huge infestation of them which may have led to disease. But since I know we all have some, I take the opportunity each year to do a parasite cleanse to get rid of the small numbers to keep them from becoming a large problem.

You may have grown up like me, with a mom or grandmother who dosed you with a nasty castor oil tonic early every spring to get rid of winter intestinal “guests”.  I personally remember it well! But if you’re not traveling to third world countries, getting your water from streams or outdoor faucets, getting all your food from street vendors, eating your meat “tartar”, or wading barefoot in unmonitored, contaminated lakes or streams, you may want to do what I do – annual clearing out of unwanted house guests.

Most of the programs I have used take 20 to 30 days and consist only of taking small packets of pills containing known anti-parasitic herbs. Different herbs create environments in your gastrointestinal track that are not to the liking of or much to the detriment of commonly known parasites. Often a single herb may do the trick, depending on the parasite in question.

Some of the common herbs are:

  • Artemisia, also called wormwood is a very bitter herb.
  • Black Walnut Hulls are not only bitter, but will stain most anything they touch.
  • Paw Paw twigs are known to kill abnormal cells in the body – and parasites are certainly abnormal to our bodies.
  • Cascara sagrada causes bowel movements, and since parasites tend to reside in the intestinal tract, they help to expel them.
  • Chamomile flowers are used in tea to “calm” us; they do the same to parasites, making them less mobile.
  • Marshmallow and Slippery Elm are mucilaginous, help to soothe and smoothly move things through the bowel.
  • Strong spicy herbs like clove, ginger, onion, sage, tansy, garlic and spearmint are disliked by most parasites.

If, on the other hand, you do have a serious infestation leading to malnutrition because the parasites are getting most all your nutrition, or that are causing a serious parasitic infection, you may ask me for a copy of a 90-day Parasite Cleanse Program that I have used once or twice. I call it my DEEP Parasite Cleanse.

My idea is to give them things they don’t like, give them things to sedate them, give them things that “toxify” them, then add these to things that will push them out of your body and you may expect some success in controlling them!

There are also teas, supplements and essential oils to assist your body in snuffing out parasites. Be vigilant, stay ahead of them, be aware of them, treat them as soon as you discover them.

Randy Lee, ND, Owner, The Health Patch – Alternative Health Clinic and Market, 1024 S. Douglas Blvd, Midwest City, 736-1030, e-mail: pawpaw@thehealthpatch.com or visit thehealthpatch.com.

Parasites – Who Gets ‘em & How?

Parasites – we all know some!  They’re the folks who don’t make their own living and live off of friends and family. Right? Well, Yes! That’s one way of looking at it.  But we’re talking about your health. So, we’re defining them here as those “usually” small critters that get into your body by various means and live off of you!

Who gets them? Well, unless you live in a sterile environment, you do. We all carry some parasites most of the time. By definition they are “animals or plants which must live on or in another plants or animals to survive.” Here are some of the ways you may pick up a parasite:

  • Do you have a pet? Pets are notorious for carrying ticks and fleas, but they eat most anything they can get hold of. And they don’t care about the health of their dietary consumables. Cats love mice, birds, squirrels, and all manner of bugs and carrion. Dogs are much the same, but add larger prey like moles, feces of other animals, and so on. You can bet they get a generous number of parasites. Most of us “worm” our pets at least once a year for this very reason. You pet them – that is why we call them “pets” – and some of the microscopic parasites get on you or under your fingernails, etc. You may have heard of ringworm as an example of these. They can enter through your skin.
  • If you live on a farm, you’re probably contact larger animals – cattle, horses, donkeys, goats, sheep, or other farm animals – and pick up a few of their parasites.
  • Many of us have read the labels on meat items that warn us not to consume under-cooked items. That is because of the many parasites that are present in the foods we eat. Thread worms and hookworms are common examples of these; they generally enter through your stomach or gut. They get in your food, enter your body when you consume that food, then live on your food or even parts of your body. Most worms enter the body as eggs from food sources, hatch and set up housekeeping as worms.
  • Others may live in your hair or on your body. Examples are head lice and crab lice; we all know of folks who talk about “getting crabs”.
  • And many parasites are called protozoa – small, single-celled animals that can move about on their own. They are not usually visible to the naked eye and require a microscope to be seen. An example which many of us have heard of is Giardia lamblia – which can cause disease.
  • And watch where you walk around barefooted. Many parasites are spread by having their eggs leave an infected body through feces. Inadequate waste processing, or the lack of processing, may allow the eggs to get into our food or water supply, allowing further ingestion by another person.

A list of the most common parasitic infections includes Giardiasis, hookworm infections, thread worm (also called pin worm) infections, tapeworm infections, scabies on the skin (caused by a mite), and pediculosis (caused by head lice).

What can you do to lessen the attacks by parasites? Stay clean. Wash with soap (preferably with an antibiotic) after any suspected exposure. Don’t drink from unprocessed or unfamiliar open water supplies. Cook meats thoroughly. Wash fruits and vegetables before ingesting them. Use proper sanitation at all times when possible.

There are many herbs, teas, supplements and essential oils to assist your body in putting up a good fight against parasites. We’ll discuss them in another blog. Stay aware of the fact that parasites are common and always looking for a host. Their survival depends on it.

Randy Lee, ND, Owner, The Health Patch – Alternative Health Clinic and Market, 1024 S. Douglas Blvd, Midwest City, 736-1030, e-mail: pawpaw@thehealthpatch.com or visit thehealthpatch.com.

Summer Energy – Keep it; Use it!

Summer is finally here! Yea! Now what? School was already out some time ago due to the pandemic. Social distancing has become the rule of the day, so what can we do with our friends? Video games have become mesmerizing and mind boggling and seem to lead to nowhere! And we don’t sleep well at night and feel frustrated and lethargic all day virtually every day. Help us save our children!!!

First, how do you generate Summer energy? As a start:

  • Take a great multivitamin – every day; one with vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and essential fatty acids. The old cassette admonition called “Dead Doctors Don’t Lie” says you need 96 nutrients EVERY DAY to really feel healthy and energized.
  • Take supplements to boost energy: Cordyceps mushrooms boost energy; supplements combined into “energy” support supplements; brain tonics; fatigue/exhaustion remedies; Zone and Millennium Diets (check them out on the internet); high protein and low-carb foods – boost energy and stop sugar cravings; colostrum is especially good for chronic fatigue. Spirulina is a seaweed that is 71% digestible protein – four capsules have the equivalent of a three-ounce steak!
  • Exercise regularly – sweating removes toxins, deep breathing improves respiration and oxygen generation and usage; and muscle fatigue will aid in muscle growth and strength.
  • Get plenty of rest, starting with a good night’s sleep where you go to bed tired and rest uninterruptedly. Take a safe, sleep supplement if you need it until you establish a routine.
  • Get some sunshine. Yes, too much can cause sunburn, but we’re seeing a rise in chronic vitamin D deficiencies which the body produces from sunshine. And note that sunscreen blocks the body’s ability to make Vitamin D from the sun!
  • Drink plenty of water; give up sugary drinks.

Then, how can you use that energy productively? Try something new.

  • Exercise your body. I grew up poor. We didn’t have store-bought toys. We challenged each other with “kick the can”, racing and jumping – how high & how far, homemade hula hoops endurance, etc. (look them up on the internet if you haven’t heard of them!)
  • Develop unknown skills. Vocational activities – e.g., making things from metal or wood; balance and endurance – e.g., making and using swings, rope walking, climbing, etc.
  • Learn to garden or care for, exercise and train animals. Learn how to use various kinds of tools and machinery; etc.

And one of my favorite things was to learn to exercise your mind. I read about a man who had three teenage boys who each held patents for things they had created – not because they were smarter than most but he had begun when they were young to challenge their creativity. Once he gave them a brick and had them write a list of things it could be used for. Think outside the box. One of the boys came up with several HUNDRED things for which he could use the brick. Trained creativity – a great summer activity!

I once gave six random items to three groups of young people and told them to use them to develop a new game, rules and all. It took them only 15 minutes to have the game developed: how to play, rules of play, and penalties for breaking the rules!

Motivate your kids to do things for others. I love the new TV show “Little Heroes” which spotlights kids who are of themselves not spectacular, but have been motivated to do spectacular things. Challenge your kids to do great things – teach them to be motivated to do great things! We’ll all benefit from their successes. And they will learn from both their successes and their failures. Remember Thomas Edison succeeded in make the electric light bulb after 1000 failed attempts.

What NOT to do: don’t waste your time on television and video games. Get active, get challenged, get productive!

  • Randy Lee, BSE, MS, ND, is Owner of The Health Patch, 1024 S. Douglas Blvd, Midwest City, 73130. Call us at (405) 736-1030, and visit our website at www.thehealthpatch.com.

June

Overview:
Awareness: Dairy, Headache, Women’s Healthcare
Flower: Rose
Gemstone: Pearl
Trees: Ash, Hornbeam, Fig, Birch, Apple

Flag Day:
In the United States, Flag Day is celebrated on June 14. It commemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States on June 14, 1777. It was declared that the flag shall be of thirteen stripes of alternate red and white, with a union of thirteen stars of white in a blue field. Thus, in honor of Old Glory, I will use this day to talk about red, white, and blue foods.

Many red fruits and veggies are loaded with powerful, healthy antioxidants such as lycopene, anthocyanin, vitamin A (beta carotene), vitamin C, manganese, and fiber. These antioxidants soak up damaging free radicals. Thus, red foods may aid in fighting heart disease and prostate cancer. They may decrease the risk for stroke and macular degeneration.

  • Strawberries: They are in season May and June. They are a good source of folate, which helps heart health and is helpful for women in their childbearing years. Folic acid is known to decrease the risk of certain birth defects called neural tube defects. They are also a good source of the antioxidant vitamin C, which boosts immune system function among other things.
  • Cherries: They are in season in June and July. They are high in fiber because of their skin. They are also rich in vitamin C as well as potassium, which can help maintain lower blood pressure. They also relieve insomnia due to containing the hormone, melatonin. They also facilitate weight loss, lowers hypertension, prevent cardiovascular diseases, promote healthy hair, maintains a pH balance, and promote energy. They also contain anti-aging and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Cranberries: They are in season from September to December. They have been shown to cause the death of cancer cells in lab studies. They can stop bacteria from sticking to the urinary tract walls and may even prevent H pylori, the bacteria responsible for many stomach ulcers, from sticking to the stomach walls and causing ulcers. The nutrients responsible for this anti-sticking mechanism are called proanthocyanidins. They are also rich in vitamin C.
  • Tomatoes: They are in season during the summer. They are a good source of lycopene, which is strongly connected with prostate cancer protection. There is also some evidence that lycopene may protect against breast cancer. They are also a good source of potassium and vitamin C, which makes them heart-healthy.
  • Raspberries: They are in season from August through mid-October. They are high in fiber, which helps lower levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or ‘bad’ cholesterol.
  • Watermelon: They are in season May through September. They are a great source of lycopene. Lycopene may decrease the risk of heart disease by decreasing LDL cholesterol. And it decreases the risk for certain cancers, primarily prostate, as well as the risk of macular degeneration. It also improves blood vessel function and lowers stroke risk.
  • Pink Grapefruit: They are in season October and May. The pink grapefruit has higher levels of antioxidants, such as vitamin C. It’s also a good source of pectin, which helps lower cholesterol. If the choice is between red and white grapefruit, go red because pink or red grapefruit is rich in lycopene and white grapefruit is not. Just be sure to check with your doctor if you’re on medication as grapefruit juice does interfere with some drugs.
  • Red Bell Pepper: They are a phenomenal source of vitamin A, which helps with skin, bones, and teeth. They are a decent source of iron. They also have as much vitamin C as an orange; which aids in the absorbing of the iron. They are a great source of vitamin B6 and folate. They help support healthy night vision. One can burn more calories by adding red peppers to their diet.
  • Beets: They are in season from June through October. They are rich in folate, lycopene, and anthocyanin. They help keep blood pressure in check. They can improve athletic performance. They may help fight inflammation, improve digestive health, help support brain health, have anti-cancer properties, and help one lose weight.
  • Red Apples: They have quercetin, a compound that seems to fight colds, flu, and allergies. They may be good for weight loss, be good for the heart, and help prevent cancer. They’re linked to a lower risk of diabetes. They may have prebiotic effects and promote good gut bacteria. They contain compounds that can help fight asthma.

Blue purple represents the anthocyanin, a powerful antioxidant that protects the blood vessels from breakage and prevents the destruction of collagen, a protein needed for healthy, radiant skin. These foods are also good for memory boosting as well. Aside from fruit, one can also find nutrients in vegetables of the color blue purple, such as radicchio, eggplant, purple cabbage, purple potatoes, and purple carrots, which are rich in vitamin A and flavonoids.

Resveratrol is an antioxidant with anti-aging and disease-preventing properties. Also, good for heart health as it helps in reducing inflammation in the body along with bad cholesterol. Several studies have concluded that this antioxidant also helps in preventing Alzheimer’s. The resveratrol found in blue and purple foods such as eggplants can terminate cancer cells. Many studies suggest that wines like pinot noir have the highest amount of resveratrol and can be consumed to remain healthy. These should be savored in moderation to keep one’s weight in check.

The antioxidants found in blue-purple foods prevent oxidation and boost the immunity and activity of other antioxidants that are naturally present in the body. Other than this, blue-purple foods like black rice are also known to be good for the liver as they are helpful in reducing damage to the liver done by alcohol. Pairing them up with red foods like tomatoes and capsicum will provide you with wholesome nutrition.

  • Water-Considered a blue food, water regulates body temperature and provides the means for nutrients to travel to all your organs. It also transports oxygen to cells, removes waste, and protects joints and organs.
  • Blueberries are low in calories, high in fiber, and loaded with essential micronutrients, such as manganese and vitamins C and K. They are also high in anthocyanin which are potent antioxidants that help defend your cells against harm from unstable molecules called free radicals. The antioxidants provided in about 2 cups (300 grams) of blueberries may immediately protect one’s DNA against free radical damage. Additionally, research indicates that diets high in anthocyanin may help prevent chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and brain conditions like Alzheimer’s.
  • Blackberries-A single cup (144 grams) of blackberries packs nearly 8 grams of fiber, 40% of the recommended Daily Value (DV) for manganese, and 34% of the DV for vitamin C. The same serving also provides 24% of the DV for vitamin K (necessary for blood clotting and plays an important role in bone health), making them one of the richest fruit sources of this essential nutrient. Scientists believe that a lack of vitamin K may contribute to osteoporosis, a condition in which the bones become weak and fragile.
  • Elderberries-This blue-purple fruit may help defend against the cold and flu by boosting the immune system. It’s also been shown to help people recover from these illnesses faster. In one study, taking 4 tablespoons (60 ml) of concentrated elderberry syrup daily helped people with the flu recover an average of 4 days quicker than those who did not take the supplement. Just 1 cup (145 grams) of elderberries provides 58% vitamins C and 20% B6, two nutrients known to promote a healthy immune system. Raw elderberries may cause an upset stomach, particularly if eaten unripe.
  • Concord grapes-They can be eaten fresh or used to make wine, juices, and jams. They’re packed with beneficial plant compounds that function as antioxidants. In fact, Concord grapes are higher in these compounds than purple, green, or red grapes. Some studies show that Concord grapes and their juice may boost your immune system. One study which had people drink 1.5 cups (360 ml) of Concord grape juice daily observed increases in beneficial immune cell counts and blood antioxidant levels, compared with a placebo group. Several other studies suggest that drinking Concord grape juice daily may boost memory, mood, and brain health. Concord grapes may boost immunity, mood, and brain health.
  • Black Currants-They can be eaten fresh, dried, or in jams and juices. You may also find them in dietary supplements. A single cup (112 grams) of fresh blackcurrant supplies more than two times the DV of vitamin C. As an antioxidant, vitamin C helps protect against cellular damage and chronic disease. In fact, some population studies note that diets rich in this nutrient may offer significant protection against heart disease. Additionally, vitamin C plays a key role in wound healing, the immune system, and the maintenance of skin, bones, and teeth.
  • Damson Plums are often processed into jams and jellies. They can also be dried to make prunes.
  • Prunes are a popular choice for digestive problems, including constipation, which is an ailment that affects an estimated 14% of the global population. They’re high in fiber, with 1/2 cup (82 grams) packing an impressive 6 grams of this nutrient. They also contain certain plant compounds and a type of sugar alcohol called sorbitol, which may help loosen the stools and promote more frequent bowel movements as well.

A number of white brown foods, such as white onions, garlic, and leeks, serve up nutrients in vegetables. White represents allicin, a sulfur-containing compound that protects against atherosclerosis and heart disease, lowers cholesterol and increases HDL, and has an antibacterial effective against Candida Albicans and bacteria. They are high in potassium, fiber, beta-glucans, lignans, and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). These nutrients are good for heart health, cancer prevention, immunity boosts, digestive tract health, and metabolism. Some healthy vegetables such as cauliflower, turnips, rutabagas, and parsnips, which include vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, and fiber. Nuts and seeds include cashews, sesame seeds, and pine nuts. Meats include white fish and poultry. Dairy items include milk, yogurt, and cheese. Some other foods include egg whites and coconut. Potassium is used to control the electrical activity of the heart and muscles and promotes heart health. Fiber is important for a healthy digestive tract. Nutrients like beta-glucans, lignans, and ECGC activate the natural B and T cells killer which reduces the risk of colon and prostate cancer. They are packed with the flavonoid quercetin, known for its anti-inflammatory properties and cardiovascular health benefits.

  • Garlic and Onions-They contain the phytochemical, allium, which is known to help reduce the risk of stomach, colon, and rectal cancer.
  • White Beans-They are full of fiber, which is known to lower blood cholesterol levels. They are also a good source of protein and keeps one full for a longer time, thereby preventing snacking.
  • Potatoes-Many believe that if we eat potatoes, we may put on weight, due to the starch content. But this is not true. Instead, the potato can help lower blood pressure and is packed with potassium. There are several types of potatoes that don’t seem to affect one’s blood sugar.
  • Mushrooms are low in calories, fat-free, cholesterol-free, gluten-free, and are low in sodium. They also provide us with important nutrients, including selenium, potassium, riboflavin, niacin, and vitamin D.
  • Cauliflower-It contains antioxidants and is also beneficial for pregnant women, as it is rich in folate and also vitamins like A and B, which helps in the growth of cells. It is also a good source of vitamin C which again is beneficial during pregnancy. It also contains calcium which helps to make bones and teeth stronger and prevents osteoporosis.

The No White Foods Diet is an eating pattern founded upon the notion that eliminating processed white-colored foods from one’s diet can help one lose weight and improve one’s blood sugar control. Proponents assert that most white foods are unhealthy, as many have been heavily processed, are high in carbs, and contain fewer nutrients than their more colorful counterparts. Thus, by removing the white foods one is said to set themselves up for a more nutritious diet that promotes weight loss, restores blood sugar balance, and aids in destroying Candida. Notably, some versions of the No White Foods Diet make exceptions for certain white foods, such as fish, eggs, and poultry, but others do not. Therefore, it’s important to take a critical look at which foods one’s eliminating and why, as some of them may actually help one reach their goals.

  • White bread-One of the primary foods eliminated is white bread, as well as closely related foods made from white flour, including crackers, pastries, and breakfast cereals. When bread flour is refined, the germ and bran of the grain are removed, along with most of the fiber, vitamins, and minerals housed within them, during the milling process. This results in a product that’s rich in carbs but lacking in other important nutrients like fiber and protein. Research suggests that a higher intake of white bread is associated with weight gain, which may be partially due to its reduced nutritional value. Try swapping them for whole-grain versions instead.
  • White Pasta-It is similar to white bread in that it’s made from refined flour that contains fewer total nutrients than the unrefined version. Interestingly, white pasta has not been shown to increase weight in the same way white bread does-provided it’s eaten it alongside a diet comprising other nutritious foods. However, the serving sizes of pasta in Western diets tend to be very large. If one is not mindful of your portion size, it can be easy to eat too much at once, which may contribute to excess calorie intake and subsequent weight gain. Choose a whole grain pasta or try those made from legumes for even more fiber and protein.
  • White rice-It starts out as a whole grain, but the bran and germ are removed during the milling process, which transforms it into the starchy, fluffy white rice you’re probably quite familiar with. White rice is not an inherently bad or unhealthy food, but it doesn’t contain much in the way of nutrition apart from calories and carbs. The absence of fiber and protein also makes it very easy to over-consume white rice, which may contribute to weight gain or blood sugar imbalances. Whole grains like brown rice also boast more fiber, vitamins, and minerals than white rice.
  • White Sugar-It’s unsurprising that the No White Foods Diet eliminates white sugar. Still, most versions of the diet also prohibit more colorful forms of sugar, including brown sugar, honey, turbinado sugar, maple syrup, and agave nectar. These types are often collectively referred to as added sugars. Aside from calories, they offer very little in terms of nutrition. Because they’re primarily made up of simple carbs, added sugars require very little digestion. They’re quickly absorbed into the bloodstream and can contribute to rapid blood sugar fluctuations. Added sugars pack a lot of calories, even when portion sizes are kept relatively small, so it’s easy to accidentally over-consume them. They have also been linked to negative health outcomes, such as unwanted weight gain and an increased risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. For a more nutritious option, choose whole food sources containing naturally occurring sugar like fruit instead.
  • Salt-Most are familiar with table salt as a white food, but it also comes in other colors, such as pink, blue, and black. While some salt is essential for health, many people following Western diets eat entirely too much of it, with the majority coming from ultra-processed foods. Excess salt intake is associated with a variety of negative health effects, including an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, obesity, and kidney disease. Using more nutrient-rich herbs and spices to flavor your foods is a great way to cut down on salt without compromising flavor.
  • White Potatoes-White potatoes are not inherently unhealthy. Still, they have earned a reputation for being unhealthy, largely because of the ways in which they’re often prepared. When white potatoes are prepared in less nutritious ways, such as frying or serving them with salty, high-calorie toppings like gravy, they’re more likely to contribute to weight gain and other negative health outcomes. Furthermore, many modern dietary patterns rely on these types of white potato preparations as a vegetable staple while excluding other types of vegetables. Thus, if one routinely consumes white potatoes as their main vegetable, trading them out for different types of colorful vegetables can help one add a more diverse array of nutrients to their diet.
  • Animal-based fats-Most versions of the No White Foods Diet consider animal-based fats to be white foods and recommend that they’re limited. White animal-based fats primarily refer to fats that come from meat and dairy products, most of which are saturated fats. As with many of the other white foods, saturated fats aren’t inherently unhealthy. However, a high intake of them may contribute to increased cholesterol and a higher risk of heart disease in some people. The No White Foods Diet recommends sticking with very lean meats and only fat-free dairy products if they’re included at all.

There is more to a healthy diet than just red, blue, and white foods. It is recommended one chooses foods of every color in the rainbow. The deeper, the darker, and the richer the color, the better. Aim for eating nine a day, and have one from every color group. Remember that it’s always better to eat whole foods than take supplements of specific nutrients. Eat the nutrients, don’t just rely on taking them in a pill form. It’s the combination of everything in these foods, not just one miracle nutrient.

Orange foods include butternut squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, cantaloupes, oranges, pumpkins, orange peppers, nectarines, and peaches. These fruits and vegetables are loaded with the antioxidant vitamin C, like citrus fruits, and some, such as carrots, with vitamin A (beta-carotene) for improved eyesight. They also contain potassium, fiber, and vitamin B6 for general health support.

Bananas are usually the first yellow food that comes to mind, and with plentiful fiber for good digestion, potassium for preventing cramps, and vitamin B6 for a variety of health benefits, they pack a big punch. Healthy vegetables in yellow include spaghetti squash, summer squash, and yellow bell peppers. The nutrients in vegetables such as these include manganese, potassium, vitamin A, fiber, and magnesium.

Virtually all greens are healthy vegetables and worth adding to one’s daily diet. Focus on spinach, broccoli, and asparagus. Lutein helps with eyesight. Folate helps in cell reproduction and prevents neural tube defects in infants.

Summer Solstice (Northern Hemisphere): I am using this day to discuss herbal first aides, as we spend more time outdoors. Electrolytes are minerals found in your blood that help regulate and control the balance of fluids in the body. These minerals play a role in regulating blood pressure, muscle contraction, and keep your system functioning properly. The big three electrolytes are sodium, potassium, and magnesium. The right number of electrolytes in your body is needed for optimal health and physical performance. If you lose a significant amount of these minerals (either by intense exercise, sweating, vomiting, or diarrhea), you’re going to experience dehydration and feel pretty lousy. You might also experience muscle cramping and spasms.

Most of us have felt the effects of being dehydrated at one point or another-dry lips and tongue, headache, weakness, dizziness, nausea, cramps. The main sign of dehydration is thirst. How many electrolytes one loses during exercise depends on weight, fitness level, intensity, duration of the activity, humidity, and how much one sweats. The primary electrolyte we lose through sweat is sodium.

The most common way to replace these lost minerals is through electrolyte drinks. Not all electrolyte drinks are created equal though, so it is recommended reading the label first. If you’re working out for an hour or less, plain water will do. But if you’re exercising upwards of 75 minutes or more, then an electrolyte drink is a good idea during or after the workout. A typical 8-ounce electrolyte drink has approximately 14 grams of sugar, 100 milligrams sodium, and 30 milligrams potassium. There are even specialty electrolyte drinks for endurance and ultra-endurance athletes with greater potassium and sodium, plus additional minerals like magnesium and calcium. If you’re a naturally heavy sweater or looking to replenish hydration after you’ve been sick, focus on choosing zero or low-calorie options. Coconut water is a good option if you’re looking for a more natural electrolyte drink, just be aware some brands add sugar.

Some simple insect-repelling ideas are: Rub vanilla extract on the skin. You can also mix vanilla with witch hazel and water for a spray version. Plant insect-repelling herbs in the yard and in pots on the patio. These include lavender, thyme, mint, and citronella. One can use these fresh plants as bug repellent in a pinch. Rub lavender flowers or lavender oil on the skin, especially on hot parts of the body (neck, underarms, behind ears, etc.) to repel insects. Rub fresh or dried leaves of anything in the mint family all over the skin to repel insects (peppermint, spearmint, catnip, pennyroyal, etc. or citronella, lemongrass, etc.). Basil also helps repel mosquitoes.

There are many herbs that can be used in first aid. Some of these include:

  • Aloe Vera gel: Cooling and healing, Aloe Vera soothes the inflammation of sunburn and common kitchen scalds and burns. It is also helpful in healing blisters.
  • Arnica: Arnica (Arnica Montana) flowers have anti-inflammatory and circulation-stimulating properties; the gel or cream is excellent for sore muscles, sprains, strains, and bruises or any type of trauma. It’s been found that it greatly reduces healing time or bruises and sore muscles when used topically right after an injury. Not for internal use or use on open cuts and broken skin.
  • Calendula: The bright yellow-orange blossoms of calendula (Calendula officinalis) have astringent, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and wound-healing properties.
  • Comfrey: Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) contains allantoin, a compound that stimulates the growth of new tissue and helps heal wounds. It is an external herb that promotes broken bones. A poultice made with plantain and comfrey that is placed on a wound can greatly reduce the healing time and helps prevent and reverse the infection.
  • Chamomile: With its distinctive flavor, chamomile (Matricaria recutita) makes a tasty tea. Gentle enough for children, chamomile has mild sedative, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties. It promotes relaxation, relieves indigestion, and, when applied topically, soothes skin irritations. The tincture works on teething gums. The dried flowers can be made into a poultice with some gauze and placed on an eye for 15 minutes every hour to reverse pinkeye rapidly (usually works in a couple of hours). The tea can be cooled and rubbed on the stomach of colicky infants to help soothe them. However, many people may be allergic to it, especially if they have are allergic to ragweed.
  • Citronella: Most herbal repellants contain citronella, a pungent citrus-scented essential oil distilled from an aromatic grass that grows in southern Asia. Herbal insect repellants work well, as long as they’re applied liberally and frequently (as often as every two hours).
  • Cayenne: Though this is a good addition to many foods, it is even better to have in a medicine cabinet. Topically, cayenne powder helps stop bleeding rapidly. It can be taken internally during heart attacks to increase blood flow and help clear blockage. It is also a useful remedy to take internally during illness as it increases blood flow, breaks up mucus, and speeds recovery.
  • Echinacea: Rich in immune-stimulating chemicals, Echinacea (Echinacea spp.) can be used for any type of infection. Liquid extracts are the most versatile because they can be used both internally and externally. It is helpful in prolonged illnesses. And, it can increase both red and white blood cells.
  • Elderberry: Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) is used for stopping a cold or flu. The berries contain compounds that prevent cold and flu viruses from invading and infecting cells.
  • Eleuthero: An excellent adaptogen, eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus) can help prevent jet lag.
  • Eucalyptus: A potent antibiotic and antiviral, eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus) is excellent for treating colds, flu, and sinus infections when used as a steam inhalation. Use eucalyptus in a face steam for congestion or sinus troubles and in a chest rub for coughing and respiratory illness. The essential oil can be applied externally to the feet to help open nasal passageways. Dilute the essential oil with a carrier oil or witch hazel extract before applying to the skin, and do not take internally.
  • Ginger: The antispasmodic and gas-relieving properties of ginger (Zingiber officinale) soothe digestive upsets such as nausea, reflux, stomach trouble, and morning sickness. Ginger also has been used to relieve motion sickness. It helps soothe the stomach after a digestive illness or food poisoning.
  • Goldenseal: A powerful antimicrobial, goldenseal (Hydrastis Canadensis) is effective against a variety of microorganisms that cause traveler’s diarrhea. The powder has antiseptic properties and can be sprinkled onto cuts or wounds to stop bleeding. Do not take goldenseal internally during pregnancy.
  • Grindelia: Grindelia (Grindelia camporum), also known as gumweed, contains resins and tannins that help to relieve the pain and itching of plant rashes. It’s available as a tincture and also as a spray specifically for treating poison oak/poison ivy rashes.
  • Plantain: It is a natural remedy for infection, poison ivy, cuts, scrapes, stings, and bites. In a pinch, picked a leaf, chew, and put it on a bee sting for instant pain relief. When used on a confirmed brown recluse bite a combination of plantain and comfrey in a poultice may keep the bite from eating away the tissue and help it heal completely.
  • Lavender: Virtually an all-purpose remedy, lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) has sedative, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic properties. It’s helpful for anxiety, insomnia, headaches, bites, scars, wounds, and burns. It also can be used as an insect repellant.
  • Slippery Elm: It is helpful for sore or irritated throat or when you lose your voice.
  • Senna: Travel constipation is a common complaint. Most herbal laxative teas rely on senna (Cassia senna), which contains compounds called anthraquinones that stimulate intestinal activity. Because senna has a bitter, unpleasant flavor, it’s often combined with tasty herbs such as cinnamon, fennel, licorice, and ginger.
  • Peppermint: With its high concentration of menthol, peppermint (Mentha X Piperita) soothes an upset stomach, clears sinuses, and curbs itching from insect bites. The essential oil applied behind the ears and on the feet helps alleviate headache or nausea and a weak tea made from the herb and rubbed on the skin can help soothe a colicky baby. It can also be used as an insect repellant. If you have sensitive skin, dilute peppermint oil before applying. Taken internally, peppermint may aggravate heartburn.
  • Valerian: The sedative properties of valerian (Valeriana officinalis) make it useful for relieving anxiety, insomnia, and tension; it’s also a mild pain reliever.
  • Witch hazel: Distilled witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) has mild astringent, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory properties, making it useful for insect bites, skin irritations, cuts, scrapes, and in cosmetic uses. It makes a great skin toner. And, it aids in healing hemorrhoids, and postpartum bottoms. It’s also an excellent base for diluting essential oils for a variety of simple, topical herbal first-aid remedies. Do not take it internally.

Additional first-aid essentials include alcohol which helps remove poison oak/ivy oils from the skin. Cosmetic clays who’s drying and drawing properties are useful for healing skin rashes and insect bites. Activated charcoal is used for food poisoning, intestinal illness, vomiting, diarrhea, ingestion of toxins, and hangovers. Apple cider vinegar with “the mother” is useful for digestive troubles, indigestion, food poisoning, and more. When taken in a dose of 1 teaspoon per 8 ounces of water every hour, it helps shorten the duration of any type of illness. Epsom salt is good as a bath soak for sore muscles. Dissolved in water, it can also be a good soak to help remove splinters.

Hydrogen peroxide can be used for cleaning out wounds. It can help prevent ear infection and shorten the duration of respiratory illness. At the first sign of ear infection or illness, a dropper full of hydrogen peroxide can be put in the ear. Leave the peroxide in for 15 minutes or until it stops bubbling and repeat on the other side.

The natural gelatin in homemade chicken soup (from the bones and tissue) is one of the things that makes it so nourishing during illness. After surgeries or when there especially bad cuts that might scar, it speeds skin healing. There is evidence that it is also effective in improving blood clotting when used externally on a wound.

Baking soda is also a good remedy to keep on hand. For severe heartburn or urinary tract infections, 1/4 tsp can be taken internally to help alleviate quickly. It can also be made into a poultice and used on spider bites.

From skin salve to diaper cream, to makeup remover, to antifungal treatment, coconut oil can be for almost everything. It may be added to remedies to be taken internally, to use to apply tinctures and help absorption externally and for dry skin and chapped lips. There is also growing evidence that daily consumption of 1/4 cup or more of coconut oil can help protect against Alzheimer’s and nourish the thyroid.

Quick Natural Remedies for Common Conditions:

  • Anxiety: Drink chamomile tea, 3 cups a day. Take valerian tincture, 1⁄2 to 1 teaspoon up to 3 times daily. Take a bath with 10 drops of lavender essential oil or place a drop of lavender oil on a tissue and inhale as desired.
  • Blisters: To dry a blister, soak a gauze pad in witch hazel, lay it over the blister and cover with an adhesive bandage. After blister has broken, wash with a mixture of Echinacea extract diluted with an equal part of water. Finally, apply calendula-comfrey salve and cover with an adhesive bandage.
  • Bruises: Immediately apply ice to relieve pain and swelling. Apply arnica cream or gel twice daily.
  • Burns: Immediately immerse the affected area in cold water until the burning sensation subsides. Then apply aloe vera gel mixed with lavender essential oil (5 drops of lavender oil mixed with 1 tablespoon of aloe vera gel). For sunburn, soak in a cool bath with 10 drops of lavender essential oil.
  • Colds and Flus: Take 1 dropperful of Echinacea extract four times a day until symptoms subside. Take 1 dropperful of elderberry extract four times a day until symptoms subside. To relieve congestion and soothe a sore throat, drink hot ginger tea with honey. To ease congestion, add 2 drops each of eucalyptus and peppermint essential oils to hot water; inhale the steam vapors. Add 1 dropperful of Echinacea extract to 1⁄2 cup of water as an antiseptic wash. To stop bleeding, sprinkle goldenseal powder directly into the wound and apply pressure with a clean cloth. Apply a salve made from calendula-comfrey-only after a scab has formed, to prevent trapping bacteria.
  • Diarrhea: Replenish lost fluids and soothe the digestive tract with chamomile or ginger tea. For diarrhea caused by infectious microorganisms, take 1 capsule of goldenseal three times daily for up to two weeks. To boost immunity and fight infection, take 1 dropperful of Echinacea four times daily.
  • Headache: Drink chamomile tea as often as desired. For more severe headaches, take 1⁄2 to 1 teaspoon of valerian root extract; repeat every two hours until pain abates. Take a warm bath with 10 drops of lavender essential oil. Massage 2 drops of diluted peppermint essential oil onto temples, forehead and neck. Keep away from eyes.
  • Indigestion: Sip warm chamomile, peppermint or ginger tea. Chew on a piece of crystallized (candied) ginger.
  • Insect bites and stings: Cleanse the bite with Echinacea extract. Apply a drop of undiluted peppermint or lavender oil to relieve itching and as an antiseptic. Mix clay with enough water to make a paste, and apply to the bites to relieve itching and draw out toxins. Mix pipe tobacco, baking soda, activated charcoal together and add a few drops of lavender essential oil to form a paste; apply on bite and cover with a bandage; change it out twice a day.
  • Insomnia: Drink a cup of warm chamomile tea. For stronger sedative action, take up to 1 teaspoon of valerian tincture before bed. Take a warm bath with 10 drops of lavender essential oil.
  • Jet lag: Take eleuthero (100 mg of standardized extract) three times daily for one week or more before traveling and for one week or longer following the flight.
  • Nausea: Take 1 to 2 capsules of dried ginger every 15 minutes until symptoms abate. To prevent motion sickness, take 6 to 8 capsules of powdered ginger about 45 minutes before departing. To calm a queasy stomach, chew on a piece of crystallized ginger.
  • Poison oak/ivy: Immediately wash the affected area thoroughly with soap and cool water, or sponge with alcohol to remove the oily resin. If a rash occurs, spray with grindelia extract several times a day.
  • Strains and sprains: Immediately elevate and apply an ice pack to the affected area to reduce swelling and inflammation. After 24 hours, apply hot compresses to increase circulation and speed healing. Soak in a hot bath with 5 drops of eucalyptus essential oil. Apply arnica cream or gel to the affected area three times daily.

Father’s Day: In men, the symptoms of aging are often the result of a growth hormone and testosterone decline. After age 20, a man’s growth hormone falls about 14% every 10 years. By the time he reaches 40, he’s lost almost half the growth hormones he had at 20 years old and by the time he reaches 80, men are left with just 5% of their original growth hormones. These imbalances can happen at any age. Fortunately, there are male treatment options available.

Some of the most common hormonal imbalances in men include: Andropause, also known as the male menopause, occurs as men grow older and their testosterone levels decline. Adrenal fatigue occurs when one’s stress levels remain high for a prolonged period of time and the adrenal glands can’t produce enough of the stress hormone cortisol. Hypothyroidism is when the thyroid gland is underactive. Hyperthyroidism is an overactive thyroid gland results in high levels of thyroid hormones and increased metabolism.

Many of the symptoms of male hormonal imbalances come on very gradually. One may not notice them at first, but as more symptoms appear and become worse over time, they do become apparent. These symptoms of male hormone imbalance are some of the most common: erectile dysfunction, hair loss, low libido, fatigue or lack of energy, night sweats or hot flashes, memory loss, mood swings or irritability, heart palpitations, muscle loss or weakness, sleep apnea or insomnia, depression or anxiety, constipation or increased bowel movements, increased body fat, and gynecomastia (development of breasts in men). People often mistake the symptoms of imbalanced hormones in men with signs of aging. The good news is that these hormone losses and imbalances are easily correctable. And with treatment, these symptoms will often disappear and bring about a healthier, younger self.

Sex hormones, like all hormones in the body, are regulated through the endocrine system (adrenals, thyroid, testes/ovaries, pituitary, pancreas). Stress plays a big part in causing an imbalance in this sensitive balancing act. Fortunately, there are many botanicals (known as adaptogens) that are well known for supporting and nourishing these glands in their important work.

Another important part of this picture is liver health. The liver is vital in its role in regulating and normalizing hormone production. Therefore, the liver must be addressed when looking at hormonal challenges. Let’s look at some herbs that can help:

  • Vitex (aka Chasteberry): Vitex may reduce fertility in males. The flavonoid fraction of Vitex Negundo, a species related to Vitex agnus castus, has been shown to diminish citric acid in the prostate, fructose in seminal vesicles, and epididymal α-glucosidase activity. These changes were also associated with a decrease in sperm count and motility. Vitex is also known as monk’s pepper, a name that stems from the use of its peppercorn-like fruits to help maintain chastity in men’s religious orders. It has a long history of use in formulas to treat male gynecomastia.
  • Wild Yam: Great for endocrine and liver health, this herb is a great hormone precursor (particularly for progesterone). It also is helpful in formulas for male hormone balancing.
  • Dong Quai: Used a great deal in Chinese medicine, this herb exerts a regulating influence on hormone production through its work with the liver and endocrine system. There is a cream containing dong Quai, Panax ginseng root, Cistanches deserticola, Zanthoxyl species, Torlidis seed, clove flower, Asiasari root, cinnamon bark, and toad venom that may improve premature ejaculation when applied to the penis.
  • Black Cohosh: There is intriguing data that shows black cohosh extracts may be useful in both the prevention and treatment of prostate cancer. And, male-pattern baldness, which is often hormone-related, might be combated by the estrogen effects. However, too much estrogen can reduce male libido, decrease energy levels, and contribute to gynecomastia.
  • Dandelion: Dandelion is specific for the liver, and it benefits the reproductive system by helping to regulate hormone production.
  • Saw Palmetto: For men, this herb assists in raising sperm count, motility, and libido. In this same category, I cannot forget to mention Ho Shou Wo (aka Fo-Ti).
  • Licorice: An adaptogenic herb, licorice nurtures the adrenals (and hence the entire endocrine system). It also is a great balancer in formulas. A little goes a long way.
  • Maca: It is showing great clinical results as an endocrine modulator; helping with libido, hormone modulating, etc.
  • Rhodiola: An adaptogen that may improve erectile dysfunction.
  • Ashwagandha: Known for centuries as an adaptogenic herb for libido, low sperm count, and sexual debility.
  • Schisandra: Tones sexual organs, as an adaptogen.
  • Honey: It contains boron which is a natural mineral that can be found in both food and in the environment. It is associated with helping to increase testosterone levels and is also useful for building strong bones and for building muscles, as well as improving thinking skills and muscle coordination.
  • Garlic and onion: They contain a compound called allicin which can be useful for lowering one’s cortisol levels. Cortisol is produced in the adrenal gland, which is where testosterone is produced. When one’s body is under stress it produces cortisol and this has an impact on other bodily functions, including the production of testosterone. Therefore, by reducing the amount of cortisol in one’s system one allows testosterone to be produced more effectively by the adrenal gland. So whilst garlic doesn’t itself act as a testosterone boosting food, it is a cortisol reducer and by association boosts testosterone levels. They may also help ward off benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), also called prostate gland enlargement.
  • Eggs: They are a fantastic source of protein, cholesterol, vitamin D, and omega-3s, all of which aid in the production of testosterone. Eggs are very versatile ingredients and not only do they help increase testosterone levels, but the protein in them also helps with muscle-building too.
  • Almond: They contain high levels of the mineral zinc which is known to raise testosterone levels in people who are zinc deficient. If one’s low in zinc this could stop the pituitary gland from releasing some of the key hormones for stimulating testosterone production. By eating zinc-rich foods, one can help make sure this doesn’t happen and avoid a reduction in testosterone levels.
  • Oyster: They are commonly known as an aphrodisiac. Testosterone increases your libido and oysters are naturally high in zinc. As mentioned above, zinc is very important for the healthy production of testosterone.
  • Spinach: It has long been considered one of the best testosterone-boosting foods around. It is a natural source of magnesium which has been shown to correlate positively with testosterone levels. It also contains vitamin B6 and iron which are both excellent testosterone boosters.
  • Porridge oats: They are an excellent source of B vitamins which are key for good testosterone production. There are a number of different B vitamins, many of which are found in testosterone boosting foods. Vitamin B6 suppresses the production of estrogen, thereby helping testosterone levels to rise. Oats are an excellent source of a variety of B Vitamins and therefore is one of a range of excellent testosterone boosting foods.
  • Lemon: They, along with other citrus fruits, are great testosterone boosting foods. Much like garlic, they help to lower the levels of cortisol which means testosterone can be more readily produced. Not only that but they contain vitamin A which is required for the production of testosterone and can help lower estrogen level which means testosterone can be more effective.
  • Salmon, sardines, and trout: These fish are an excellent addition to the list of testosterone boosting foods because it contains magnesium, vitamin B, and omega-3s which all help increase testosterone levels. Not only this though, but it also helps lower the levels of the ‘Sex Hormone Binding Globulin’ (SHBG is a protein made by the liver. It binds tightly to three sex hormones-estrogen; dihydrotestosterone (DHT), and testosterone. SHBG carries these three hormones throughout one’s blood.) which makes testosterone non-functional. If SHBG is lowered testosterone can have more of an impact on one’s body. Omega-3 essential fatty acids also benefit the prostate by reducing inflammation.
  • Tuna: It is an excellent source of Vitamin D which can help boost testosterone levels by up to 90%. Vitamin D helps to maintain sperm count and tuna is an excellent way to get this particular vitamin, especially if one isn’t able to spend much time outside.
  • Banana and Pineapple: These two fruits contain an enzyme called bromelain which is known to help boost testosterone levels. They are also excellent for maintaining energy levels and reducing antioxidants.

Specific foods known to benefit the prostate include:

  • Tomatoes: They are packed with lycopene, an antioxidant that may benefit prostate gland cells. Cooking tomatoes, such as in tomato sauce or soup, helps to release the lycopene and make it more readily available to the body.
  • Berries: Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries are excellent sources of antioxidants, which help to remove free radicals from the body. Free radicals are the byproducts of reactions that occur within the body and can cause damage and disease over time.
  • Broccoli: This and other cruciferous vegetables, including bok choy, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage, contain a chemical known as sulforaphane. This is thought to target cancer cells and promote a healthy prostate.
  • Nuts: They are rich in zinc, a trace mineral. Zinc is found in high concentrations in the prostate and is thought to help balance testosterone and DHT. Besides nuts, shellfish and legumes are also high in zinc.
  • Citrus fruit: Oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruits are all high in vitamin C, which may help to protect the prostate gland.

Foods that aid conception:

  • Oysters and pumpkin seeds: Both are very high in zinc, which may increase testosterone, sperm motility, and sperm count.
  • Oranges: They contain lots of vitamin C, and studies have proved it improves sperm motility, count, and morphology. Other foods that contain vitamin C include tomatoes, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cabbage.
  • Dark, leafy vegetables: The folate (also known as vitamin B) in spinach, romaine lettuce, brussels sprouts, and asparagus can help produce strong, healthy sperm.
  • Dark chocolate: It contains l-arginine, an amino acid that can improve sperm count and quality over time.
  • Fish: The omega-3 fatty acids in fish and seafood-especially salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines-helps improve the quality and quantity of sperm.
  • Pomegranate: The antioxidants in pomegranates may improve testosterone levels.
  • Brazil nuts: The selenium found in Brazilian nuts can help increase sperm count, sperm shape, and sperm motility.
  • Water: Staying hydrated helps create good seminal fluid.

Another area important to men is how to help them achieve their gym goals. The hormones IGF-1, growth hormone (GH), testosterone, and cortisol all respond to the intensity of weight training. Insulin and glucagon are also influenced by exercise and diet, often in contradiction to the anabolic hormones. With respect to bodybuilding, the goal is to keep anabolic hormones (muscle building-up) high and catabolic hormones (hormones which are muscle wasting) low. While some bodybuilders will try to shortcut the process by using illegal performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs), there is increasing evidence that they not only harm your health but may be far less effective than previously thought.

While some supplements manufacturers have tried to take advantage of the WADA ban by marketing “natural” supplements to bodybuilders, most of these products underperform. Examples include Tribulus Terrestris, zinc-magnesium supplements, ginseng, bovine colostrum, beta-alanine, and DHEA (a prohormone banned in most sports). Contrary to what some may tell you, there are no non-food supplements other than creatine that exhibit anabolic-like effects. Even with regards to creatine, the actual effect on muscle growth is limited. According to the International Society of Sports Nutrition, creatine supplements increase endurance capacity in high-intensity training rather than inducing physiological changes in the muscles themselves

There are several approaches to diet and training that can enhance the anabolic response while mitigating the catabolic response. The foods you eat before, during, and after exercise can make a big difference in your training. For example, eating carbohydrates before and during exercise can help minimize increases in cortisol. The reason is simple: when your blood glucose supplies are maintained, cortisol does not need to be released and muscle tissues won’t get burned up.

It is important to note that exercise also increases testosterone levels. Once exercise stops, testosterone will invariably drop as cortisone levels rise. To mitigate this effect, one needs to eat protein after a workout to balance the testosterone-to-cortisol ratio in the bloodstream. Consume 20 grams of easily digested protein up to 45 minutes before a workout. Around 20 fluid ounces (600 milliliters) of skim milk with a little sugar will do. Sip a sports drink during workouts at regular intervals, especially if one goes beyond 60 minutes. Within 30 minutes of completing a workout, consume another 20 grams of protein with around 40 grams of carbohydrate. Again, skim milk with sugar works just fine. Choose a favorite protein-carb powder or protein-fortified milk drink. The carb-to-protein ratio should be between 3:1 and 4:1 if one has had a heavy workout. Avoid cortisol-reducing supplements regularly marketed to bodybuilders. There is no proof that they work and one can seemly do better by eating strategically during exercise.

Eating a diet that’s neither too low in fat nor too high in protein can help enhance one’s testosterone output. According to research published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, body-builders should be consuming enough calories so that bodyweight losses are about 0.5 to 1% per week to maximize muscle retention. Most but not all bodybuilders will respond best to consuming protein at a rate of 2.3-3.1 g/kg of lean body mass per day, 15-30% of calories from fat, with carbohydrates making up the rest. By contrast, ultra low-fat diets or high-protein/low-carb diets are not advised when bodybuilding. Some bodybuilders endorse diets comprised of 40% protein. Not only is there little evidence to support this strategy, but it may also cause harm over the long term, increasing the risk of kidney damage and proteinuria (excess protein in urine).

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the American College of Sports Medicine, and the Canadian dietitian governing body recommend athletes consume daily between a little more than one gram (1.2) and up to two grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight to build muscle, depending on how hard the athlete is training. In addition, creatine and zinc are potentially important components of an anabolic diet. Creatine builds bulk, while zinc is necessary for testosterone production. Meat protein is a good source of both of these nutrients.

High-intensity training raises testosterone, GH, and IGF-1 levels but also promotes spikes in cortisol. While diet can temper cortisol production to a certain extent, how one exercises may also help. High-volume, high-intensity workouts with short rest intervals tend to produce the greatest increases in testosterone, GH, and cortisol, while low-volume, high-intensity workouts with long rest intervals tend to produce the least.

Contrary to what one may think, it is usually more beneficial for bodybuilders to rest for 3-5 minutes between sets rather than the 1-2 minutes endorsed for regular fitness programs. Doing so appears to restore a high-energy compound known as phosphagen that is stored in muscles and excreted during strenuous activity. It also promotes the production of testosterone with less of the mitigating effects of cortisone. So, in a way, one can get more out of their training by pushing less strenuously.

Aerobic training, like running or anaerobic interval training, should be done on separate days from one’s bodybuilding training. Doing both on the same day promotes inflammation and the adverse effects of cortisol. Evening workouts are preferable to early-morning workouts since cortisol levels tend to peak in the early hours of the day. Alcohol consumption increases cortisol production and should be avoided during heavy training and competition. Improved sleep hygiene, including maintaining a regular sleep schedule, enhances the production of GH, which peaks during deep sleep and can persist well after waking. By contrast, irregular sleep contributes to drops in GH levels.

King Kamehameha Day (Hawaii):
The Hawaiian word for health and life is “ola”. Hawaiians obviously believed one could not have health without life, nor life without health. The ancient Hawaiian health system was well developed. They had a medical profession, medicines, treatments, a lengthy apprenticeship program for medical specialists (kahuna), and training facilities located in special healing heiau (temples). They also had designated places of healing such as Coconut Island (Mokuola) at Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii, famous for its curative spring waters.

Similar to the organization of today’s medical profession, the traditional Hawaiian healers were Kahuna haihai iwi (skilled in setting broken bones), Kahuna haha (who diagnosed illnesses by feeling with the fingers), Kahuna hoohanau keiki (who delivered babies), Kahuna hoohapai keiki (who induced pregnancy), Kahuna laau lapaau (who treated patients with herbs; they were the general practitioners), Kahuna lomilomi (who were physical therapists and also skilled in massage), and Kahuna paaoao (who diagnosed and treated illnesses of infants).

To ancient Hawaiians, mana (spiritual power) was necessary to be a truly successful practitioner. Education was sacred as knowledge was a way of achieving this power. If a parent sensed a child had a “healing spirit” enabling them to become a doctor, the child would be sent to live and study with a kahuna from as young as five years of age and they would spend upwards of fifteen to twenty years in training. During this time, they studied anatomy, learned how to diagnose disease, how to choose the right cures or medicines (particularly the use of medicinal plants), and learned sacred prayers. They also learned how to perform simple surgical procedures, set bones, and perform autopsies. They employed the use of steam baths, massage, and laxatives and undertook empirical research.

Since the Hawaiians viewed the body, mind, and spirit as one, Hawaiians believed that the body could not be healed without healing the spirit. Accordingly, they used a combination of psychic, spiritual, and natural treatments to cure illnesses. In particular, before a patient was treated, the kahuna performed a ritual of hooponopono (making things right), a type of counseling with the aid of prayer to cleanse the mind and heart of negative thoughts and feelings.

Today the traditional Hawaiian healing programs now being implemented by Hawaiian Health Care Centers serving Native Hawaiians include: hooponopono (traditional Hawaiian family problem solving process making things “right”), limuloid (traditional, spiritual and physical muscle stress relaxation by licensed therapists), lau lapaau (healing with the use of compounding herbs and other traditional remedies), pale keki (mother and child care, before, during and after birth), laau kahea (spiritual or faith healing through prayer and chants, a form of exorcism). The vast majority of Hawaiian remedies consists of plants. A sampling of traditional botanical based remedies is given below:

  • Aalii (Hopseed Bush): The leaves are used to treat a rash, itches, and other skin diseases.
  • Awa (Kava): Used in the treatment of headaches, muscle pain, and to induce sleep. It is also a treatment for general debility, chills, colds, and other lung problems, such as bronchitis and asthma.
  • Awapuhi (Shampoo Ginger): Ashes of the leaves are used to treat cuts and sores. The root is used in the treatment of ringworm and sprains and bruises. The root is also used in the treatment of headache, toothache, and stomach ache.
  • Kalo (Taro): It is the single most important plant in Hawaiian culture. The cut raw rootstock is rubbed on wounds to stop bleeding and the cut raw petiole is used to relieve the pain and prevent swelling of insect bites and stings. The corm is used to treat indigestion and as a laxative. The leaves are used in the treatment of asthma.
  • Mamaki: The inner part of the fruit is used to treat thrush and to cure general debility. The leaves are sold as a tea in Hawaii and an infusion made from the leaves is used to treat generalized weakness.
  • Noni (Indian Mulberry): The leaves and bark are prepared as a tonic, and to treat urinary disorders and muscle and joint pain. Either the ripe fruit or the leaves can be used as a poultice for boils, wounds, and fractures. A tonic prepared from the immature fruit is used to treat diabetes, high blood pressure, and loss of appetite.
  • Ohia lehua: The flower is used to ease childbirth and leaf bud tea is used as a tonic and to treat colds.
  • Olena (Turmeric): The root is used to treat earache, and nose and throat discomfort.
  • Pia (Polynesian Arrowroot): The raw starch was used in water for diarrhea and when mixed with red clay for dysentery. The starch was also applied to wounds to stop bleeding.
  • The sap of Ko (sugarcane) is commonly used to sweeten herbal preparations and the juice from the shoot is used to treat lacerations. Belonging to a grass family, sugarcane has no fats. It is, in fact, a 100% natural drink. It has about 30 grams of natural sugar. Hence, you do not have to add extra sugar for sweetness. Sugar extracted from sugarcane juice contains only 15 calories. Sugarcane juice is a mix of sucrose, fructose, and many other glucose varieties. Raw sugarcane juice contains a total of 13 grams of dietary fiber per serving, which is essential in carrying out a lot of body functions. Sugarcane juice aids in the following areas: skin benefits, cures acne, protects the skin from aging, instant energy booster, ensures safe pregnancy, prevents bad breath and tooth decay, facilitates the development of bones and teeth, cures febrile disorders, aids liver functioning, good for jaundice, acts as a digestive tonic, combats cancer, aids people suffering from diabetes, treats sore throat, heals wounds, strengthens body organs, prevents DNA damage, aids weight loss, eliminates toxins from one’s body, beneficial in treating UTI, treating kidney stones, ensures proper functioning of the kidneys, good for nail health, increases muscle power, reduces fever, treats acidity, and boosts immunity. Sugarcane juice also exhibits laxative properties.
  • Fresh coconuts can be young or mature. Young coconuts either have a green shell or a white husk (where the green shell has been removed). Young coconuts contain more water, is one of the highest sources of electrolytes, and soft gel-like meat, whereas mature coconuts have firm meat and less water. The water in the young coconut electrolytes is responsible for keeping the body properly hydrated so the muscles and nerves can function appropriately. Therefore, it is more beneficial to drink the water from a young coconut after an intense workout rather than the commercial sports drinks we see advertised. Coconut water is also low in calories, carbohydrates, and sugars, and almost completely fat-free. In addition, it is high in ascorbic acid, B vitamins, and proteins. The soft meat inside the coconut helps to restore oxidative tissue damage and contains a source of healthy fats, proteins, and various vitamins and minerals. Coconuts are also an excellent source of some trace minerals. They include magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc, copper, and selenium. Zinc and selenium are essential nutrients for maintaining thyroid function. Iron is needed in the production of red blood cells. Magnesium is a nutrient necessary for electrolyte balance. Potassium takes care of nerve function, while copper reduces the risks of cardiovascular diseases, joint health, and osteoporosis, a condition where the bones become brittle. Another of the benefits of coconut is it contains capric acid.
  • Coconut oil has been used as both food and medicine for many centuries. Despite its natural healing wonders, a lot of people are still confused as to whether or not coconut oil is good for our health because of its high content of saturated fats. However, do not mistake hydrogenated coconut oil with pure cold-pressed extra virgin coconut oil. Pure coconut oil is derived from the mature coconuts which contain harder flesh. The white flesh is shredded, collected, and then cold-pressed at 90–100 degrees Fahrenheit. Unprocessed, unrefined virgin coconut oil is not hydrogenated and is a safe choice for consumption. Although coconut oil is saturated fat, it is unlike the high-calorie, cholesterol-soaked, long-chain saturated fat. It is rich in a medium-chain fatty acid that can help boost metabolism and aid in fat loss. It is metabolized quickly and instead of fat sticking to one’s belly, it gets burned off as energy. It also helps detoxify the body and balances the digestive tract. Instead of bathing one’s skin with synthetic toxic lotions and creams, coconut oil can be used to nourish and moisturize the skin, scalp, and hair. One of the better-known uses of coconut oil is for cooking food. Coconut oil is one of the most stable oils when cooking in high heat. It does not form harmful by-products when heated to normal cooking temperatures like other vegetable oils do. In addition, it can be used as a spread for baking and for making delicious raw, vegan desserts.

Medicinal uses for coconuts include:

  • Supports immune system health: it is anti-viral, antibacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-parasite,
  • Provides a natural source of quick energy and enhances physical and athletic performance
  • Improves digestion and absorption of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals
  • Improves insulin secretion and symptoms associated with diabetes
  • Helps protect the body from cancers through insulin reduction and removal of free radicals that cause premature aging and degenerative disease
  • Reduces the risk of heart disease and improves good cholesterol (HDL)
  • Restores and supports thyroid function
  • Helps protect against kidney disease and bladder infection
  • Promotes weight loss
  • Helps keep hair and skin healthy and youthful-looking, prevents wrinkles, sagging skin, age spots, and provides sun protection

Coconuts are a creative culinary delight. Due to its health advantages and natural low-glycemic index rating, coconuts have replaced some everyday ingredients:

  • Coconut Flour: It is simply dried, ground-up coconut meat. Coconut flour is gluten-free, low in carbohydrates, high in fiber, and ideal for baking.
  • Coconut Milk and Cream: Milk is made by mixing shredded fresh coconut meat with water and then squeezing it through a sieve or cheesecloth. The thick creamy liquid that comes out is coconut milk. It can be used for curries and stews. Coconut cream, on the other hand, is basically coconut milk without all the water. It is thicker and pastier. The cream can be used to make dairy-free whipped cream or make one’s own coconut yogurt.
  • Coconut Sugar: It is derived from coconut sap. It is the sweet juice extracted when the budding flower is just about to grow. This process offers a delicious, sweet taste similar to brown sugar with a hint of caramel, with vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. It is considered a low-glycemic food and is diabetic-friendly. Use coconut sugar as one would commonly use other sugars and sweeteners.

Coconut is being used as a staple for those doing the keto diet. Also known as the ketogenic diet plan, it is a program wherein one induces ketosis-a state when the body burns fat instead of sugar for energy. To do it, one needs to eat foods low in carbs but high in fat.

One of the benefits of coconut is it can help one get into ketosis due to its medium-chain fatty acids. Sometimes called MCTs, these are triglycerides that go straight to the liver. The liver can then quickly convert the fats into ketones (chemicals the liver creates when insulin production is low), which then becomes one’s energy source. In turn, one may be able to lose weight without feeling lethargic.

Some tips to including coconut to the keto diet are topping vegan muffins with shredded coconut, adding raw coconut meat to a salad as a topping, dried coconut is great when paired with oatmeal, and blend classic protein power with the protein-rich coconut for a creamy, delicious shake.

Bananas are a good source of vitamin C, dietary fiber, and manganese. In addition to being rich in vitamin B6, bananas are also fat-free, cholesterol-free, and virtually sodium-free. Vitamin B6 from bananas is easily absorbed by the body and a medium-sized banana can provide about a quarter of the daily needs. A medium-sized banana also will provide about 10% of one’s daily vitamin C needs, approximately 13% of one’s daily manganese needs, and around 320-400 mg of potassium-which meets about 10% of one’s daily potassium needs. In addition, bananas are low in sodium. The low sodium and high potassium combination help to control high blood pressure. Bananas contain three natural sugar-sucrose, fructose, and glucose-giving one a fat and cholesterol-free source of energy. As such, bananas are ideal, especially for children and athletes, for breakfast, as a midday snack or before and after sports.

A medium banana will provide about 10-12% of one’s daily fiber needs. It is recommending a daily dietary fiber intake of 20g for women and 26g for men. Soluble and insoluble fibers play an important role in one’s health. Soluble fiber helps the body control blood sugar level and get rid of fatty substances such as cholesterol. Insoluble fiber adds weight and softness to stools, making it easier for regular bowel movements. This helps to keep the gut healthy and safe from harmful bacteria. Bananas, especially newly-ripened ones, contain starch that does not digest (resistant starch) in the small intestine and is able to pass into the large intestine. Such bananas help one manage their weight better. That said, bananas can help gastrointestinal issues such as constipation, stomach ulcers, and heartburn.

Pineapples are delicious, low in calories, and loaded with nutrients and antioxidants. Their nutrients and compounds have been linked to impressive health benefits, including improved digestion, a lower risk of cancer, improved immunity, relief of arthritis symptoms, and improved recovery after surgery and strenuous exercise. Pineapples are also incredibly versatile and can be consumed in a variety of ways.

Recipes:

  • Lemon-pomegranate electrolyte drink : Yield: 32 ounces; Serving size: 8 ounces. Ingredients: 1/4 tsp. salt; 1/4 cup pomegranate juice; 1/4 cup lemon juice; 1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut water; 2 cups cold water. Additional options: sweetener, powdered magnesium, and/or calcium, depending on needs. Directions: Put all ingredients in a bowl and whisk. Pour into a container, chill, and serve.
  • Banana Guava Pie: 1-1/2 cup sliced bananas; 1-1/4 cup guava nectar; 1/2 cup sugar; 1 tablespoon lemon juice; 1/4 teaspoon salt; 3 tablespoons cornstarch; 3 tablespoons cold water; 1 baked pie shell. Directions: Combine guava nectar, lemon juice, sugar, and salt. Bring to boil over low heat. Mix cornstarch and water to a smooth paste and stir into mixture. Stir until thickened and clear. Cool. Combine with bananas and pour into baked pie shell. Serve with whipped cream.
  • Haupia (Sweet coconut cream custard cubes): Yield:1 standard 9 x 13 baking pan. Ingredients: 2 coconut milk, 16 oz cans; 3 cups water or fruit juice; ½ cups cornstarch; 1 cup sugar. Directions: Mix 2 cups water with cornstarch. Set aside. Bring coconut milk, sugar, and remaining water to a rolling boil on high heat. Pour cornstarch mixture into boiling coconut milk and cook till the mixture thickens, blending with a whip. When the mixture is smooth and thick pour into a clean baking tray. Cool to room temperature, then chill until cold. Cut into 1-inch squares. Serve on ti leaf lined trays.
  • Huli Huli (Grilled Chicken): Serves 10- 12. Ingredients: 9-12 lbs chicken wings, thighs, and breast pieces; 1/4 cup frozen pineapple juice concentrate; 1/3 cup white wine; 1/2 cup chicken broth; 1/4 cup soy sauce; 1/4 cup ketchup; 1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger or a pinch of fresh ginger; 1-2 drops Worcestershire sauce. Directions: Wash chicken parts and pat dry with paper towels. Mix all sauce ingredients in a bowl. Brush over chicken parts. Grill over barbecue for about 40 minutes. Turn and baste with sauce until chicken is done.
  • Sugarcane Juice: Sugarcane (medium-sized), fresh; water; ginger (optional); lemon juice (optional); peppermint (optional); black salt; ice cubes. Directions: Wash the sugarcanes well and peel the hard outer layer of the cane with a big knife. Now cut them into small pieces and blend them along with a ginger piece (optional). Add some water and grind it again. Make sure you have ground the sugarcane well. Pour the sugarcane extract along with the juice in a big container. Take another container and place a muslin cloth or strainer on it. Squeeze the juice out of the extract pressing through the cloth or strainer. If you don’t find it easy, squeeze the juice with your hand. Take some of the extract in your hand and press it well till the juice comes out. Strain the juice again as it may still have some extract. You can add some lemon juice and a dash of black salt along with ice cubes and serve chilled. Notes: While you can add sugar powder in the juice, it is advised to avoid as the juice is already sweet. Tea or coffee filters also work well for straining the juice.
  • Beard Oils: 1)Healthy Mix-1/2 oz jojoba; 1/2 oz coconut oil; 12 drops lavender oil; 12 drops rosemary oil. 2) Woodsy-1 oz of jojoba oil; 6 drops cedarwood essential oil; 2 drops lavender essential oil; 2 drops tea tree essential oil; 1 drop rosemary essential oil; 1 drop lime essential oil. Directions: Mix all ingredients in a 1-ounce bottle. Shake. Apply. No rinsing needed.
  • Healing Salve: Makes: 2 cups. Ingredients: 2 cups carrier oil; 1 tsp echinacea root (optional); 2 tablespoons comfrey leaf; 2 tablespoons dried plantain leaf; 1 tablespoon calendula flowers (optional); 1 teaspoon yarrow flowers (optional); 1 teaspoon rosemary (optional); ¼ cup beeswax pastilles. Directions: Infuse the herbs into the carrier oil: Either combine the carrier oil and herbs in a jar with an airtight lid and leave 3-4 weeks, shaking daily. OR heat the carrier oil and herbs over low heat in a double boiler for 3 hours (low heat) until the oil is very green. Make the salve: Strain the herbs out of the oil by pouring through a cheesecloth. Let all the oil drip out and then squeeze give the herbs a squeeze to get the remaining oil out. Discard the herbs. Combine the infused oil and beeswax in a double boiler. Heat over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the wax is melted. Pour into small tins, glass jars, or lip chap tubes and use them as needed.
  • First Aid Poultice: 1 part marshmallow root; 1 part Oregon grape root; 1 part yarrow herb; 1 part bentonite clay; 1 part echinacea root; 1/4 part cayenne fruit; lavender essential oil (optional). Directions: Mix all herbs together in the blender until they are powdered. Store in a glass container in a cool dark place until needed. Add warm water until the mixture forms a paste. 10 drops of lavender essential oil can also be added. Apply to stings, bruises, infections, injuries, and rashes. Rinse off and reapply as needed.
  • Headache Oil: 10 drops lavender essential oil; 10 drops peppermint essential oil; 10 drops marjoram essential oil; 1 teaspoon carrier oil. Directions: Add essential oils to 1 teaspoon of carrier oil. Rub on temples, forehead, and back of the neck. Avoid the eyes.
  • Burn Rescue: 5 ml lavender essential oil; 1 ml Helichrysum essential oil; 5 drops Rescue Remedy; 1 ounce of aloe vera gel; 1 ounce of witch hazel extract (optional). Directions: Mix ingredients together and apply topically to burns, sunburns, and wind burns. This cooling and healing formula will reduce pain, inflammation, and scarring. Add the Witch Hazel if you would like to apply the formula as a spray.
  • Garlic-Mullein Earache Oil: 400ml olive oil; 1 whole bulb garlic, chopped; 1 oz mullein flowers, Vitamin E oil. Equipment: 2 empty jars, 454ml (16 oz) size; 1 square of muslin or cheesecloth, about 6 cm square. Directions: Place the finely chopped fresh garlic and mullein flowers into the jar. Add olive oil until the jar is full. Stir with a chopstick or the handle of a wooden spoon to release air bubbles. Cover the jar and place it in the sunlight for 3 weeks (2 weeks in warm weather). Strain through the muslin square into a clean jar (discard plant material) and store it in the refrigerator. This will keep for up to two years. To use: Place 3-7 drops of the oil into the affected ear. The oil should be at room temperature or slightly warm. To warm it, put the drops in a spoon or a glass eyedropper and briefly hold a lit match close to it. Test the oil against the underside of your wrist to make sure it is not too hot. Rest with the affected ear up for 5-10 minutes, keeping a warm hot water bottle on the ear. After this time roll over and rest on the hot water bottle for as long as this brings comfort. Repeat on the other ear if necessary. This treatment can be repeated 2-3 times a day but may only be necessary once or twice as it is very effective. Caution: NEVER put anything into the ear if you suspect the eardrum has ruptured or if there is any drainage from the ear.
  • Essential Oil Bug Spray: 30 drops geranium; 30 drops citronella; 20 drops lemon eucalyptus; 20 drops lavender; 10 drops rosemary; 1 tablespoon vodka; ½ cup natural witch hazel; ½ cup water (or vinegar); 1 teaspoon vegetable glycerin (optional); vanilla extract (optional). Directions: Place essential oils in a glass spray bottle. Add vodka or alcohol and shake well to combine. Pour in witch hazel and shake to combine. Add vanilla extract. Add ½ tsp vegetable glycerin if using. (This is not necessary but helps everything stay combined.) Add water and shake again. Shake before each use as it will naturally separate some over time.
  • Herbal Bug Spray: Distilled water; witch hazel (or vodka); dried herbs-peppermint, spearmint, citronella, lemongrass, catnip, lavender, orange peel, clove, bay leaf, thyme, cedar leaf; vanilla extract (optional). Directions: Boil 1 cup of water and add 3-4 tablespoons of dried herbs total in any combination from the above. Mix well, cover, and let cool (covering is important to keep the volatile oils in.) Strain herbs out and mix water with 1 cup of witch hazel or vodka. Add vanilla extract. Store in a spray bottle in a cool place. Use as needed. Note: To make a stronger version of this recipe, prepare the herbs in an alcohol mixture as a tincture instead, and use this directly as a spray after straining out the herbs.
  • Vinegar Tick and Insect Repellent: 1 bottle of apple cider vinegar, (32-oz ); 2 Tablespoons each of dried sage, rosemary, lavender, thyme, and mint; vanilla extract (optional). Equipment: Quart-size or larger glass jar with an airtight lid. Directions: Put the vinegar, vanilla extract, and dried herbs into a large glass jar. Seal tightly and store on the counter. Shake well each day for 2-3 weeks. After 2-3 weeks, strain the herbs out and store in spray bottles or tincture bottles, preferably in the fridge. To use on skin, dilute to half with water in a spray bottle and use as needed. Note: It has a very strong odor when it is wet, though the smell disappears as it dries. This mixture is very strong and has antiviral and antibacterial properties. It can also be used as a tincture for any illness. For adults, the dose is 1 tablespoon in water several times a day. For kids over two, the dose is 1 teaspoon in water several times a day.

—-Mitákuye Oyás’iŋ—-
Jolene Grffiths, Master Herbalist

Diet and Supplements for the Liver

While I personally recommend a regular cleansing regimen that includes a cleanse especially for the liver due to its unique status as the primary detoxifying organ of the body, I strongly support the idea of ensuring your supplement regimen and your diet remain liver-friendly for the same reasons. The liver, by its very function, takes a lot of abuse; and you can’t live without it. So, take special care to keep it healthy.

Some special diet considerations are due to common functions of the liver itself:

  • The liver manufactures cholesterol. Cholesterol is essential for making cell membranes and cell structures in the body. It is also vital for the synthesis of hormones, vitamin D, and other substances. About two-thirds of the cholesterol in our bodies is manufactured by the liver; the other third comes from our diet. Cholesterol is necessary, and while we must have some cholesterol for our bodies to function, the liver will usually produce enough and we compound problems if we add too much by allowing ourselves a high-fat diet. Reducing dietary fat can ease demands on the liver.
  • The liver also stores glucose fuel in the form of glycogen. The body has a feedback system that between meals tells the liver to release more sugar to maintain the body’s energy level. The liver then converts either fat or glycogen into the simple sugar glucose. Too much sugar can mean problems for other body systems. So, reducing simple sugars from your diet can also ease production demands on the liver.
  • Cirrhosis of the liver is a disease with which we’re all familiar. We associate it with heavy drinkers (and this is one real cause). It is a degenerative inflammatory disease that results in hardening and scarring of liver cells. What many of us don’t consider is that malnutrition and chronic inflammation can also lead to liver malfunction.
  • Keep the colon clean, regularly use an herbal detoxifying blend if you work in an environment that contains known toxins, and limit alcohol intake.

Our liver processes require vitamins, minerals, proteins (preferably from vegetable sources), amino acids, and enzymes. Ensuring these nutrients are in your diet (or a good broad-spectrum vitamin-mineral-amino acid-essential fatty acid supplement), will also help keep a healthy liver. Other supplements that you may consider specifically for the liver may include:

  • Herbs that help to ensure a healthy liver. Alfalfa is an excellent source of vitamin K and a deficiency of this vitamin can lead to bleeding. The silymarin in milk thistle has been shown in scientific studies to repair and rejuvenate the liver. Fermented red yeast rice extract is beneficial for those with high cholesterol as it inhibits the liver’s production of cholesterol. Other herbs that can be beneficial include barberry, black radish, burdock, dandelion, fennel, horsetail, Irish moss, red clover, rose hips, suma, thyme, chickweed and wild Oregon grape.
  • Drink lemon water to “wash” the liver.
  • Choline and inositol are B-vitamins that prevent scarring and help prevent cirrhosis and high cholesterol.
  • And liver-healthy foods include red beets (especially raw and shredded in a salad), almonds, bananas, blackstrap molasses, prunes, raisins, wheat and rice bran, kelp, beans, and seeds. Dandelion greens are a great Spring tonic if they contain no herbicides or pesticides. Poor food choices include excessive animal proteins, processed foods, junk food, refined white flour and white sugar foods.

In a previous blog I noted a fact that is worth repeating here: “Overeating is probably the most common cause of liver malfunction. It creates excess work for the liver, resulting in liver fatigue. Since the liver must detoxify all of the various chemicals present in our food supply today, it is easily overworked and may not be able to keep up, leaving harmful substances in the body.”

There are many ways to alleviate the stress of a degenerative liver. But it doesn’t “just happen”. Be aware of the load you’re putting on your liver by poor diet choices, working in toxic environments, and making poor lifestyle choices. Carefully care for your liver and it will care for you throughout your lifetime!

  • Randy Lee, BSE, MS, ND, is Owner of The Health Patch, 1024 S. Douglas Blvd, MWC, 73130. Call us at (405) 736-1030, and visit our website at www.thehealthpatch.com.

A Simple Liver “Flush”

So, what is the difference in a cleanse and a “flush”? If you asked that question to a dozen different people, you may get as many responses! But for my purposes here, I’m going to look at it this way. A cleanse is usually better in the long run. It is more thorough. It cleans deeper. It takes longer. And it may be trying to get more work accomplished that just a simple flush. For example, you go into a bathroom right after the toilet has been used and you can get rid of many of the smells and much of the waste by simply flushing it. But while that takes care of the immediate problem, you have not necessarily deep cleaned the toilet itself or gotten rid of the microbes, stains and trapped wastes that are accomplished by the routine, less frequent cleaning of the toilet.

Most of us do the cleaning of our bathrooms (and toilets) regularly to keep them running at peak efficiency, and we thereby avoid messy breakdowns. In your body, a regular cleansing regimen does that for each body system. That’s what I try to accomplish by the annual cleansing regimen that I follow for each of my body systems. Most of them take about a month to accomplish but leave me with the sense that I get by the carrying out of the recommended mileage inspections I do on my vehicle. I flew aircraft in the military for a while and I know a lot about routine maintenance and the longevity accomplishing it gives to the aircraft – or car – or my body!

So where does the “flush” come in? It’s sort of an emergency quick fix for an unexpected breakdown. It’s the maintenance the aircraft or vehicle needs when something unexpected happens. Or the “quick fix” we make on the toilet to get rid of the waste quickly after a necessary “toxic” use.

If we were conscientious about following all the rules for the care of our livers, we may not need the “flushes” to get us through the emergency breakdowns. There is no logical reason to need to discharge kidney stones or gall stones, or liver sludge, if we’re following the necessary anti-toxic safeguards and dietary guidelines to keep them healthy. But we didn’t and now we are faced with stones and sludge. What can we do?

I’ve used a simple two-day gallbladder/liver “flush” many times. It’s not pleasant; it definitely ties you to the bathroom; and it tastes kind of nasty. But it works. The full recipe may be found in our website “recipe” section. But, in essence, it is using Epson Salts and water to drink at two-hour intervals on the first evening and ending the night with a mixture of grapefruit juice and olive oil along with eight capsules of the amino acid l-ornithine. Go to bed around 10PM, lay on your back for 20 minutes and then sleep on your right side. Next morning finish off the Epson Salt/Water mixture in divided doses at two-hour intervals, follow two hours later with a large glass of juice and an hour later with a piece of fruit. At this point, I’m telling you not to be more than a few feet from the bathroom; expect “explosive” diarrhea, passage of the gallbladder, kidney and liver sludge, and final relief!

Note that I do not recommend this procedure if you know you have kidney stores. There are different treatments for that, and using this flush could force stones through the fragile nephron filters of the kidneys and gallbladder. I certainly prefer the routine maintenance of the regular cleanses, but this is a handy “flush” when the situation requires it! Keep it handy – or just copy if from our “recipes” website section. I’ve used it several times; feel free to refer questions to me!

  • Randy Lee, BSE, MS, ND, is Owner of The Health Patch, 1024 S. Douglas Blvd, MWC, 73130. Call us at (405) 736-1030, and visit our website at www.thehealthpatch.com.

Keep Your Liver Clean

Unless you have a disease specifically concerning the liver, you rarely think much about it. But if you have a compromised liver, or suffer from cirrhosis or hepatitis or several other such conditions, it can take priority in your lifestyle accommodations. When you do stop to think about it, you realize you can’t live without it. It is, by far, the most significant cleansing organ in the body!

While it normally weighs only three to four pounds it is a very complex organ. It has a double circulation system. That means it receives blood from both the veins and the arteries. The main artery carries in plenty of oxygen from the lungs and the main vein comes directly from the small intestine full of nutrients. The liver performs over 500 functions. It serves as a digestive aid, it detoxifies food impurities, and it inspects nutrients before allowing them into the bloodstream. Further, it has the ability to be its own metabolic chemical plant to make new compounds you must have to live.

Of all the organs you have in your body it is often the most abused and yet has the greatest capacity for regeneration if it gets the proper supplements and care. I read a report from Johns Hopkins Medical Center that states “The liver is the only organ in the body that can replace lost or injured tissue (regenerate). [A] donor’s liver will soon grow back to normal size after surgery. The part that you receive as a new liver will also grow to normal size in a few weeks.”

The liver also manufactures cholesterol and bile, stores glucose fuel, and can suffer from a number of diseases. We have a number of studies that show that the typical American diet can produce liver damage, digestive problems, low energy, allergies, and even depression. One study even showed that a low-grade fever at night could indicate liver problems.

So, it only makes sense that when we are considering a cleansing regimen for the body, we should include at least one liver cleanse each year. And there are a number of them. We carry at least a half-dozen of them at The Health Patch, by almost as many different companies. I have also used a simple, popular “mini-cleanse” for the liver which can be accomplished over a 30-day period by the consumption once a day of two (2) tablespoons of olive oil mixed with two (2) tablespoons of lemon juice and four (4) ounces of apple juice. This can be both refreshing and cleansing.

We’ll cover the specific functions of herbs that help clean and heal the liver, foods that support it and other supplements we use for liver health in another blog in a couple of weeks. But a simple list of many of them include: alfalfa, milk thistle, red yeast rice extract, barberry, black radish, burdock, dandelion, fennel, horsetail, Irish moss, red clover, rose hips, suma, thyme, and wild Oregon grape.

Overeating is probably the most common cause of liver malfunction. It creates excess work for the liver, resulting in liver fatigue. Since the liver must detoxify all of the various chemicals present in our food supply today, it is easily overworked and may not be able to keep up, leaving harmful substances in the body.

Stress is also a major contributor to a fatigued liver. Deliver your liver from stress by ensuring it has the proper nutrients and is sparred undue excesses of known toxins. You only get one. Keep it healthy.

  • Randy Lee, BSE, MS, ND, is Owner of The Health Patch, 1024 S. Douglas Blvd, MWC, 73130. Call us at (405) 736-1030, and visit our website at www.thehealthpatch.com.

May

May Overview:
Awareness: Arthritis, Asthma/Allergy, Employee Health/Fitness, Fibromyalgia, Healthy Vision, Lupus, Mental Health, Skin Cancer, Stroke, Women’s Health, World No Tobacco
Flower: Hawthorn, Lily of the Valley
Gemstone: Emerald 
Trees: Popular, Chestnut, Ash

May Day

Flower cookery has been traced back to Roman times, and to the Chinese, Middle Eastern, and Indian cultures.  In the 16th and 17th century flowers were used in cooking for all manner of dishes and many flowers were credited for their medicinal properties.  Edible flowers were especially popular in the Victorian era during Queen Victoria’s reign. 

Edible flowers are a fun and easy way to add color.  You may also be surprised to know that flowers actually taste great.  They will add interesting flavors to all sorts of dishes. Carnations taste like clove, nasturtium flowers are hot and peppery, calendula is citrusy and coriander flower is a more intense version of its foliage.  The secret to success when using edible flowers is to keep the dish simple, do not add to many other flavors that will over power the delicate taste of the flower. 

One should keep in mind before consuming any plant or flower that not every flower/plant is edible.  When in doubt if a plant/flower is edible check with a medical/herbal/plant professional.  In fact, sampling some flowers can make you very sick.  One should identify the flower exactly and eat only edible flowers and edible parts of those flowers.

Some other things to keep in mind: Never use pesticides or other chemicals on any part of any plant that produces blossoms you plan to eat.  Harvest only 10% of any one flower type in a given area. Leave some for the pollinators and seeding. Never harvest flowers growing by the roadside.  Always remember to use flowers sparingly in your recipes due to the digestive complications that can occur with a large consumption rate.  Most edible flowers are best eaten raw—simply pick and rinse with water.  Most herb flowers have a taste that’s similar to the leaf, but spicier.  Flowers will taste and look their best right after they have opened, rather than after they have been open for a few days. 

There are many negative beliefs around herbs and edible plants (from coriander to broccoli) going to flower. But by planning ahead and leaving your veggie garden to go to flower, allows you to benefit from the full course of a plant’s life and produces yet another exciting ingredient; the edible flower with intensified flavors of the parent plant.  Edible flowers include those that are ones that grow in flower gardens, wildflowers, and even weeds.  Growing your own edible flowers from seed or bulb is really easy. 

Kentucky Derby Day

I am using this day to highlight the use of holistic treatments for one’s pets-mainly canine, equine, and feline-even though National Holistic Pet Day is in August.  Holistic medicine, by its very nature, is humane to the core. The techniques used in holistic medicine are gentle, minimally invasive, and incorporate patient well-being and stress reduction. Holistic thinking is centered on love, empathy, and respect.

In treating an animal, a holistic practitioner will determine the best combination of both conventional and alternative therapies for a given individual. It means taking in the whole picture of the patient—the environment, the disease pattern, the relationship of pet with owner—and developing a treatment protocol using a wide range of therapies for healing the patient.  They incorporate therapies like herbal remedies, flower essences, iridology, massage, acupressure/acupuncture, and homeopathy.  The holistic practitioner is interested not only in a medical history, but also genetics, nutrition, environment, family relationships, stress levels, and other factors.

Many patients present in a state of “disease.” A simple appearing symptom may have several layers of causation. When one area of the body is ill, it can manifest in many different ways. Only when the true cause of the ailment has been found is there the possibility for a lasting recovery.  The wholeness inherent in the scope of holistic veterinary medicine nurtures all aspects of an animal’s well-being, resulting in lasting physical, mental, and emotional health.

It is important to keep in mind that each species has different needs.  Cats are pure carnivores, so they are the least set up to digest plant material. They have a short, hot digestive tract that does not do well with starchy plant material. When they can benefit, they do better with liquids, including teas. Dogs are omnivores, and often respond well to plant medicines. Horses are true herbivores, and respond quite readily to herbal remedies.  Doses are the same as human doses, based on the weight of the animal. The official human weighs 150 pounds (the weight recommendations are based on), so a 15-pound animal takes 10% of the human dose, and a 1,500-pound horse gets ten times the human dose.  *(Please refer to my 2019 blogs for June ‘History of Vet Medicine’, July ’History of Iridology’ and August ‘Pet Dental Care’.)

Cinco de Mayo (Battle of Puebla Day)

Mexican folk healing, or curanderismo, is a practice that blends Mayan, Aztec, and Spanish Catholic traditions. Folk healers, known as curanderos, believe that their healing abilities are a spiritual vocation.  From their writings and descendants the Mayan traditional medicine survives today.  The Aztecs were excellent botanists, and their extensive knowledge impressed the Spanish, who borrowed from Mexico’s indigenous herbarium and cataloged the intriguing plants. Consequently, medicine remains one of the few examples of cultural practices and indigenous wisdom that have not been lost to history.  

The Mayan civilization rose to prominence in the swampy lowlands of what we now know as southern Mexico, Guatemala, western Honduras, El Salvador and northern Belize. It dates back at least to about 1500 B.C. and existed until the time the Spanish arrived in the area in the 1500s.  Medicine was only practiced by holy men who had received an extensive education. They acted as intermediaries between the physical and spiritual worlds. Then, there are the ah-men -the ‘disease throwers’.

Mayan medical practice was a complex blend of mind, body, religion, ritual and science. Health was the result of living according to the laws of nature and society, and illness the result of the transgression of those laws. The Maya equated sickness with captivity of the soul by supernatural beings, angered by some perceived misbehavior.

The ancient Maya perceived health as “balance”, whereas illness and disease were “imbalance”. Mayan medical texts are devoted to the treatment of symptoms based upon the effects of certain herbal remedies which could be swallowed, smoked, snorted, rubbed on the skin, and even given as enemas.  Herbal remedies were often used according to the color of the originating plant: red for rashes, blood disorders & burns; blue for neural sedatives; yellow (the color of bile) for diseases of the liver & spleen. White was generally avoided since it was seen as a signal of death.  Hot and cold were also key concepts in Mayan medicine: “cold” disorders such as constipation, cramps or paralysis would be treated with hot, spicy foods whilst “hot” disorders such as fever, diarrhea or vomiting would be treated with cold plants or food.  Regularly use of sweat baths, food, and herbs were often combined with massage to alleviate gynecological symptoms such as dysmenorrhea, menopause, premenstrual tension and infertility.

Holy men also employed mind-altering substances such as morning glory, mushrooms, tobacco and other hallucinogens. Self-brewed alcoholic preparations were also used, especially during rituals, to help them to communicate with the spirit world in the hope of re-establishing good health by restoring the correct “balance”.  It often took years to master the right balance of these plant so death would not prevail.

The holy men and ah-men did demonstrate considerable surgical skill. It is known that they sutured wounds with human hair, they were skilled bone-setters and trephined the skull using primitive drills.  They were also accomplished dental surgeons, making prostheses and filing teeth into a variety of shapes, often with perforations to insert decorative pieces of jade, turquoise, hematite, iron pyrites or other organic material; such ornamentation was especially common among women.

The Aztecs (1300’s A.D. to the 1500‘s) came from the ‘Basin of Mexico’.  They shared many things in common with the Mayans and even traded with them.  Much of their fundamental medicinal beliefs were similar.  Soon after the conquest of the Aztecs, the Spanish destroyed thousands of codices (manuscripts) that could have expanded our knowledge of their spiritual/medicine connections.

However, Spanish historians catalogued some fifteen hundred different plants, pastes, potions, and powders that were used by the Aztecs.  They wrapped flower petals around certain medicines to form a type of pill for easy consumption.  Feather quills and cactus spines were included as surgical instruments.   A few plants native to the Americas commonly used in Mexico are achiote, avocado, beans, cacao, chilies, corn, Mexican oregano, nopal, papaya, pineapple, squash, sweet potato, tomatoes, and vanilla.  All of these contain medicinal properties.  However, the popular, cilantro, originally grown in Greece, is used to remove heavy metals from the body.

Mother’s Day

When it comes to holistic child care there are many books and websites that can aid mothers.  Here are some uncommonly thought of things one can incorporate into their child’s routine.

Infant massage has the benefits of bonding; releasing feel good bonding hormone oxytocin in women. This is the same hormone which aids in the contraction of the uterus and the production of breast milk.  Babies who experience regular massage sleep deeply and when awake are happy and alert.  Nurturing touch can ease baby’s discomforts and ailments from colic and constipation.

Craniosacral therapy is a gentle, non-invasive type of bodywork that works with attuning to the rhythm of our body’s network of membranes and fluid that surround and support the brain and spinal cord from the bones of the head down to the bones at the base of the spine.  It is a way for one to regain a sense of themselves that connects emotions with the body and mind, so it helps them gain self-confidence and be themselves without fear.  Children from zero to four years respond particularly fast to craniosacral work, because they are sensitive and their mental-emotional-physical patterns are not yet deeply ingrained, while teenagers benefit from this therapy as it can help them resolve emotional and sexual issues that they may experience with their changing bodies in a non-threatening, safe way.  Adults can benefit from it, too.

Chiropractors specialize in manual adjustment of the vertebrae of the spine and other joints of the body, which helps to relieve pain, restore normal functioning to the joints and supporting muscles and ligaments, thus maintaining balance in the nervous system, of which our spinal cord is an essential part.

There are so many stresses going through life-physical, emotional, chemical-that can affect the nervous system. Chiropractic care works to balance the nervous system and in turn facilitate a child to achieve and maintain optimum well-being within themselves. This is simply keeping the pathways between the brain and spinal cord, nerves, cells and organs in balance and open.

While we don’t think of children experiencing stress in the same way as adults, modern life with its fast pace, digital media distractions and higher expectations on children in the way of scholastic and extracurricular success does impact children with stress. Yoga, taught in an age-appropriate way, with visualizations, story-telling, singing and movement, can be a wonderful release and rekindle children’s natural awareness and intuition. It has also been proven to reduce ADHD, increase self-esteem, promote compassion, kindness and focus and helps children to navigate their shifting emotions with ease.

Meditation is a proven technique of easing stress and experiencing more balance in one’s mind and body.  For children as young as five and up to their college years meditation can help one feel more connected to their inner world, to feel a greater peace, relaxed, and focused.  It can also aid in promotion of better brain health, easing pain, fighting illness, and lessening the effects of conflicts with others.

Another key area of women’s health is their hormones.  In this day and age with stress and environmental toxins widespread, hormone imbalances are even more common. Botanical therapies allow the body to come to its own balance, rather than manipulating or adding hormones to one‘s body.  In addition, many of  the ‘hormonal balancing’ herbals work best in formula with other supporting herbs.

As with any health challenge, it is important to pay attention to one’s individual patterns.  Even though one’s symptoms may be similar to someone else’s, their total picture may not be the same.  It’s vital to treat conditions and patterns individually, rather than assuming that what works for one person will do the same for another.

There are a number of root causes of hormonal imbalance.  Symptoms can vary but include PMS, emotional stress, irregular and/or painful menses, infertility, low libido, peri/postmenopausal challenges, and fatigue-just to name a few.  The sex hormones-estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone-are regulated through the endocrine system (adrenals, thyroid, testes/ovaries, pituitary, pancreas).  The liver is also vital in its role in regulating and normalizing hormone production.

Just a few of the many herbs that can help balance one‘s hormones are:

  • Vitex (aka Chasteberry): This herb acts on the pituitary to increase luteinizing hormone, which stimulates progesterone production.
  • Wild Yam: It benefits the endocrine and liver.  It also aids as a progesterone precursor.
  • Dong Quai: This herb exerts a regulating influence on hormone production (namely estrogen) through its work with the liver and endocrine system.
  • Black Cohosh: It aids in the production of estrogen. Contraindicated with headaches and depression.  For some women, it’s a ‘miracle’ for hot flashes. Not for extended use.
  • Dandelion: Although not known particularly for ‘women’s issues’, it is specific for the liver, and it benefits the reproductive system by helping to regulate hormone production.
  • Licorice: An adaptogenic herb that nurtures the adrenals. It also is a great balancer in formulas. 
  • Maca: Is showing great clinical results as an endocrine modulator; helping with libido and hormone modulating.
  • Rhodiola: An adaptogen that shows promising results for infertility due to minor imbalances/stress for women. 
  • Ashwagandha: An adaptogenic herb for libido.
  • Schisandra: Tones sexual organs, as an adaptogen.

A couple of nutritional suggestions are eat green, leafy vegetables- incredibly effective in assisting the liver in doing its job of healthy metabolism and detoxification of hormones.  Take borage oil-all essential fatty acid oils are anti-inflammatory and therefore helpful in this area, but borage is specific for those cranky, angry, pre-menstrual flare-ups.  Add probiotics found in supplement form and/or fermented foods-healthy gut flora is a key to hormone balancing.

Memorial Day

This is the day set aside to remember those who have passed away during wars.  Good brain health is important to insure our memories are remain intact as long as possible.  A few tips to achieve this are as follows.  The human brain is nearly 60 percent fat.  Fatty acids are among the most crucial molecules that determine one’s brain’s integrity and ability to perform. Essential fatty acids (EFAs-made up of EPA and DHA) are required for maintenance of optimal health but they cannot synthesized by the body and must be obtained from dietary sources. Clinical observation studies has related imbalance dietary intake of fatty acids to impaired brain performance and diseases. The EFAs, particularly the omega-3 fatty acids, are important for brain development during both the fetal and postnatal period.  Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is needed for the optimum functional maturation of the retina and visual cortex, with visual acuity and mental development seemingly improved by extra DHA. Beyond their important role in building the brain structure, EFAs, as messengers, are involved in the synthesis and functions of brain neurotransmitters, and in the molecules of the immune system.  The minimum daily requirements are: children (ages 4-12): 2000 mg; adolescents (ages 13-18): 2000-3000 mg; adults (ages 18+): 3000-4000 mg.  Some natural sources of EFAs include: fish and other seafood (especially cold-water fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines); nuts and seeds (such as flax seed, chia seeds, and walnuts); plant oils (such as flax seed oil, soybean oil, and canola oil.

The highest antioxidant fruits and vegetables are blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, strawberries, spinach, raspberries, brussels sprouts, plums, broccoli, beets, avocados, oranges, red grapes, red bell peppers, cherries and kiwis. Five servings a day of fruits and vegetables is recommended (each serving is a half-cup).

Drinking green tea slows the build-up of plaque in brains from amyloid deposits and also prevents strokes. It also helps mental alertness.

Eggs are rich in choline, a fat-like B vitamin. Studies have shown that it increases memory and chases away fatigue.

Exercise provides greater blood circulation means more oxygen to the brain and more production of mood-enhancing endorphins.

Meditation changes brain frequency and function. The frequencies of deep meditation allow a “brain rest” you cannot get anywhere else. Meditation also enhances connection and symmetry between the right and left hemispheres of the brain.

Alpha lipoic acid (aLa) supplement is a powerful antioxidant and is both fat and water soluble. It can actually get into the brain easily and can pass through to all areas of the cells to “mop up” free radicals and stop their damage.  Acetyl-L-carnitine is a primary contributor to the production of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is required for mental function. Phosphatidyl serine actually stimulates brain cells to make new dendrites and axons. People who take it remember more names, faces, phone numbers and written information.  The herbs sage, turmeric, ginkgo biloba, ashwagandha, ginseng, gotu kola, and lemon balm may also help.

This day also deals with the hollowed remains of soldiers.  Holistically speaking, that is the skeletal system.  Bone health is important at all stages of life.  However, having strong bones is something people tend to take for granted, as symptoms often don’t appear until bone loss is advanced. A few maladies that afflict this area of the body include: fractures/breaks, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, rickets, and cavities.   Fortunately, there are many nutrition and lifestyle habits that can help build and maintain strong bones-and it’s never too early to start.

Engaging in specific types of exercise can help one build and maintain strong bones.  One of the best types of activity for bone health is weight-bearing or high-impact exercise, which promotes the formation of new bone.  In addition, it can be extremely beneficial for preventing bone loss in older adults.

Studies in older men and women who performed weight-bearing exercise showed increases in bone mineral density, bone strength and bone size, as well as reductions in markers of bone turnover and inflammation. However, one study found little improvement in bone density among older men who performed the highest level of weight-bearing exercise over nine months.

Strength-training exercise is not only beneficial for increasing muscle mass. It may also help protect against bone loss in younger and older women, including those with osteoporosis, osteopenia or breast cancer. One study in men with low bone mass found that although both resistance training and weight-bearing exercise increased bone density in several areas of the body, only resistance training had this effect in the hip.

In addition to exercising, maintaining a healthy weight can help support bone health.  For example, being underweight increases the risk of osteopenia and osteoporosis.  This is especially the case in postmenopausal women who have lost the bone-protective effects of estrogen.  In fact, low body weight is the main factor contributing to reduced bone density and bone loss in this age group.  On the other hand, some studies suggest that being obese can impair bone quality and increase the risk of fractures due to the stress of excess weight.  While weight loss typically results in some bone loss, it is usually less pronounced in obese individuals than normal-weight individuals.  Overall, repeatedly losing and regaining weight appears particularly detrimental to bone health, as well as losing a large amount of weight in a short time.  One recent study found that bone loss during weight loss was not reversed when weight was regained, which suggests that repeated cycles of losing and gaining weight may lead to significant bone loss over a person’s lifetime.  Maintaining a stable normal or slightly higher than normal weight is your best bet when it comes to protecting your bone health.

Dropping calories too low is never a good idea.  In addition to slowing down your metabolism, creating rebound hunger and causing muscle mass loss, it can also be harmful to bone health.  Studies have shown that diets providing fewer than 1,000 calories per day can lead to lower bone density in normal-weight, overweight or obese individuals. In one study, obese women who consumed 925 calories per day for four months experienced a significant loss of bone density from their hip and upper thigh region, regardless of whether they performed resistance training. To build and maintain strong bones, follow a well-balanced diet that provides at least 1,200 calories per day. It should include plenty of protein and foods rich in vitamins and minerals that support bone health.

Vegetables are great for the bones.  They’re one of the best sources of vitamin C, which stimulates the production of bone-forming cells. In addition, some studies suggest that vitamin C’s antioxidant effects may protect bone cells from damage and aid in the production of collagen.  Vegetables also seem to increase bone mineral density, also known as bone density.  A high intake of green and yellow vegetables has been linked to increased bone mineralization during childhood and the maintenance of bone mass in young adults.  Eating lots of vegetables has also been found to benefit older women.  A study in women over 50 found those who consumed onions most frequently had a 20% lower risk of osteoporosis, compared to women who rarely ate them. In a three-month study, women who consumed more than nine servings of broccoli, cabbage, parsley or other plants high in bone-protective antioxidants had a decrease in bone turnover.

Getting enough protein is important for healthy bones. In fact, about 50% of bone is made of protein.  Researchers have reported that low protein intake decreases calcium absorption and may also affect rates of bone formation and breakdown. However, concerns have also been raised that high-protein diets leach calcium from bones in order to counteract increased acidity in the blood.  Nevertheless, studies have found that this doesn’t occur in people who consume up to 100 grams of protein daily, as long as this is balanced with plenty of plant foods and adequate calcium intake. In fact, research suggests that older women, in particular, appear to have better bone density when they consume higher amounts of protein. In a large, six-year observational study of over 144,000 postmenopausal women, higher protein intake was linked to a lower risk of forearm fractures and significantly higher bone density in the hip, spine and total body.  What’s more, diets containing a greater percentage of calories from protein may help preserve bone mass during weight loss.  In a one-year study, women who consumed 86 grams of protein daily on a calorie-restricted diet lost less bone mass from their arm, spine, hip and leg areas than women who consumed 60 grams of protein per day.

Calcium is the most important mineral for bone health, and it’s the main mineral found in one’s bones.  Because old bone cells are constantly broken down and replaced by new ones, it’s important to consume calcium daily to protect bone structure and strength.  The RDI for calcium is 1,000 mg per day for most people, although teens need 1,300 mg and older women require 1,200 mg.  However, the amount of calcium one’s body actually absorbs can vary greatly.

Interestingly, if one eats a meal containing more than 500 mg of calcium, the body will absorb much less of it than if one consumes a lower amount.  Therefore, it’s best to spread calcium intake throughout the day by including one high-calcium food at each meal.  It’s appears that the best way to get calcium is from foods rather than supplements.  A recent 10-year study of 1,567 people found that although high calcium intake from foods decreased the risk of heart disease overall, those who took calcium supplements had a 22% greater risk of heart disease.

Magnesium plays a key role in converting vitamin D into the active form that promotes calcium absorption. An observational study of over 73,000 women found that those who consumed 400 mg of magnesium per day tended to have 2–3% higher bone density than women who consumed half this amount daily.  Although magnesium is found in small amounts in most foods, there are only a few excellent food sources. Supplementing with magnesium glycinate, citrate or carbonate may be beneficial.

Zinc is a trace mineral needed in very small amounts. It helps make up the mineral portion of your bones.  In addition, zinc promotes the formation of bone-building cells and prevents the excessive breakdown of bone.  Studies have shown that zinc supplements support bone growth in children and the maintenance of bone density in older adults.  Good sources of zinc include beef, shrimp, spinach, flaxseeds, oysters and pumpkin seeds.

The minerals boron and strontium appear to be useful to the skeletal system.  Boron helps the body metabolize key vitamins and minerals, plays a key role in bone health, and it also affects estrogen and testosterone levels.  Strontium increases bone mineral density, improves bone micro architecture, and decreases the risk of fractures in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis.

Vitamin D is extremely important for building strong bones.  It plays several roles in bone health, including helping your body absorb calcium. Achieving a blood level of at least 30 ng/ml (75 nmol/l) is recommended for protecting against osteopenia, osteoporosis and other bone diseases.  Indeed, studies have shown that children and adults with low vitamin D levels tend to have lower bone density and are more at risk for bone loss than people who get enough.  Unfortunately, vitamin D deficiency is very common, affecting about one billion people worldwide. One may be able to get enough vitamin D through sun exposure and food sources such as fatty fish, liver and cheese. However, many people need to supplement with up to 2,000 IU of vitamin D daily to maintain optimal levels.

Vitamin K2 supports bone health by modifying osteocalcin, a protein involved in bone formation. This modification enables osteocalcin to bind to minerals in bones and helps prevent the loss of calcium from bones.  The two most common forms of vitamin K2 are MK-4 and MK-7. MK-4 exists in small amounts in liver, eggs and meat. Fermented foods like cheese, sauerkraut and a soybean product called natto contain MK-7.  A small study in healthy young women found that MK-7 supplements raised vitamin K2 blood levels more than MK-4. Nevertheless, other studies have shown that supplementing with either form of vitamin K2 supports osteocalcin modification and increases bone density in children and postmenopausal women.  In a study of women 50–65 years of age, those who took MK-4 maintained bone density, whereas the group that received a placebo showed a significant decrease in bone density after 12 months.  However, another 12-month study found no significant difference in bone loss between women whose diets were supplemented with natto and those who did not take natto.

Collagen is the main protein found in bones. It contains the amino acids glycine, proline and lysine, which help build bone, muscle, ligaments and other tissues.  Collagen hydrolysate comes from animal bones and is commonly known as gelatin (main ingredient in ‘Jello’ and film strips).  It has been used to relieve joint pain for many years.  Although most studies have looked at collagen’s effects on joint conditions like arthritis, it appears to have beneficial effects on bone health as well.  A 24-week study found that giving postmenopausal women with osteoporosis a combination of collagen and the hormone calcitonin led to a significant reduction in markers of collagen breakdown.

Omega-3 fatty acids are well known for their anti-inflammatory effects.  They’ve also been shown to help protect against bone loss during the aging process.  In addition to including omega-3 fats in one’s diet, it’s also important to make sure one’s balance of omega-6 to omega-3 fats isn’t too high.  In one large study of over 1,500 adults aged 45–90, those who consumed a higher ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids tended to have lower bone density than people with a lower ratio of the two fats. Generally speaking, it’s best to aim for an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 4:1 or lower.  In addition, although most studies have looked at the benefits of long-chain omega-3 fats found in fatty fish, one controlled study found that omega-3 plant sources helped decrease bone breakdown and increase bone formation.  Plant sources of omega-3 fats include chia seeds, flax seeds and walnuts.

Tissue salts (cell salts) are homeopathic dilutions of the mineral salts that one’s cells need to function properly.  Dr. Schuessler, a 19th century German physician, developed the 12 original tissue salts. (There have since been found to be at least 27 different salts.)  These minerals are available in each cell and are essential to the body’s metabolism. When these vital tissue salts are in the correct ratio or concentration, the body is healthy.  As soon as the tissue salts ratio is disturbed, the proper cell functioning is impaired, resulting in illness. One should get these salts through diet but due to our modern lifestyle we lose every day minerals through stress, bad nutrition and environmental toxins.

The best tissue salts for the bones include: #1 Calcium fluoride, #2 Calcium phosphate and #11 Silica.   Foods containing Calcium fluoride include organically grown oranges, pumpkin grapes, lemons, rye flour, buckwheat and mustard.  Those rich in Calcium phosphate include organically grown cabbage, carrots, lettuce, spinach, strawberries, oats, alfalfa sprouts, probiotic yogurt and eggs.  And, those that contain Silica include oats, wheat, nettles, dandelion, horsetail, chicory, celery and apricots.

Recipes

Flea/Tick Wash Solution:  Mix up 1 cup of apple cider vinegar, 1 quart warm water, and 1 ounce of castille soap. Add 2-3 drops of lavender or cedar essential oil.  Add 2 ounces of aloe vera gel to the mix as well. If your pet has sensitive skin, change the ration to one part apple cider vinegar, three parts water. 
Directions: (If you’re dealing with live fleas and ticks, it’s best to work outside. If it’s too cold to be outside, use your bathtub.)  Completely saturate your pet with the apple cider vinegar wash solution, making sure to cover every part of the fur. (Make sure you don’t get the solution into the eyes.) Use your fingers to work the solution all the way to the skin. The castille soap should lather some at this point, so rub the suds into the skin as well. Let the solution sit for ten minutes. (If you’re dealing with a bad infestation, have a second batch or two of the solution mixed up for a double treatment.)  Take a flea comb and work section by section.  Each time you comb through the fur, dip your comb in a bowl of soapy water to get rid of the fleas on the comb. The fleas should come off your pet’s fur easily, since they are repelled by the taste of the vinegar. Once you finish combing your pet, rinse the wash out with warm water. You’ll have to keep giving your pet the ACV treatment every few days until you no longer see any signs of fleas. Once the fleas are gone, repeat it once every week to ensure your pet doesn’t get a new case of fleas.

Flea/Tick Room Spray:  Combine a gallon of apple cider vinegar, 1/2 gallon of water, 16 ounces of lemon juice, and 8 ounces (230 g) of witch hazel in a large tub. Fill a large spray bottle with the solution. Spray every portion of your house, including carpets, wood floors, crevices and corners, windowsills, and furniture in a thick coating of the spray. You may need to repeat this method for 2-7 days depending on how bad your flea infestation is.  If you are just trying to prevent infestation, you can do this once a month.  Let the spray dry before you return objects to the wet areas.

Flea/Tick Treats:  1 & 1/8 cups coconut oil, melted, 1/2 cup brewer’s yeast, slightly rounded, 2 silicone candy molds
Directions: Combine melted coconut oil and brewer’s yeast together in a blender. Blend for roughly 10 seconds until smooth. Transfer blended mixture into a plastic condiment bottle (trim tip to 1/4 inch opening) and use to fill the 2 silicone molds.  Chill in the refrigerator or freezer until set and solid.  Remove from the pan and store in refrigerator or freezer for up to 6 months.  Give up to 1 treat per 10 pounds of body weight daily.  For pets under 10 pounds, give 1 treat every other day.

Itchy Skin Treats: 1 cup plain kefir or yogurt,  16 ounces pumpkin puree, 1/3 cup brewer’s yeast, 1/2 cup salmon oil, 2 silicone candy molds
Directions:  Use a blender to combine ingredients, blend until completely smooth. Transfer your blended mixture to a plastic bottle (cut the tip to roughly a 1/4 inch diameter opening).  Fill silicone molds.  Freeze 3 hours or until solid. Transfer treats into to a container or plastic zip top bag and store in the freezer, serve frozen.  For around 5-15 lbs. give 1 treat (roughly 1 tablespoon), 15-40 lbs. give 2 treats,  40-70 lbs. 3 small treats, over 70 lbs. 4-5 small treats per day.
Note: for large pets make bigger treats by using larger candy molds–large size treats=1 a day.

Ensalada de Nopales:  3-4 medium cactus leaves, cleaned of spines; 2-3 fresh medium tomatoes, diced; 2-3 green onions, chopped; 1 bunch of cilantro, chopped; juice from 1 lime; salt and pepper, to taste; 1/4 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano; 2 tablespoons vegetable oil; 1/4 cup crumbled cheese
Directions: Clean the cactus leaves of spines and wash them very well. Slice the nopales thin and put them in a pot with water to cover them. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook the leaves on medium high heat until tender, for about 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, chop the green onions, tomatoes and cilantro. Set them aside. When nopales are cooked, remove them from the stove, drain the water and place the vegetables in cold icy water. When cool, use them for the salad. In a salad bowl, place the cactus leaves, onion, tomatoes, cilantro and dried Mexican oregano. Squeeze the juice of the lime over the salad. Add oil. Add salt and pepper and mix everything together. Sprinkle crumbled cheese over and serve.

Homemade Baby Formula: Yield: 72 ounces
Ingredients: 1 ⅞ cups of filtered water; 2 tsp beef gelatin; 4 tbsp lactose; 2 cups raw milk; 1/4 cup liquid whey; 2 tbsp cream; ¼ teaspoon acerola powder (vitamin C); ¼ teaspoon of bifidobacterium infantis; 2 teaspoons nutritional yeast flakes; ½ teaspoon of cod liver oil; 1 teaspoon sunflower oil; 1 teaspoon olive oil; 2 teaspoons coconut oil; ¼ teaspoon ghee (optional)
Directions: Take 2 cups of filtered water and remove 2 tablespoons, (which will give you 1 ⅞ cups of water.)  Pour about half the water into a pan and turn heat on medium. Add 2 teaspoons of gelatin and 4 tablespoons lactose to the warming water and let dissolve, stirring occasionally.  While the gelatin and lactose are dissolving, place 2 cups of raw milk in a clean, glass blender and add the remaining ingredients: liquid whey, cream, acerola powder, bifidobacterium infantis, nutritional yeast flakes, cod liver oil, sunflower oil, olive oil.  Then remove the pan from the heat and pour in the remaining half of the water to cool. Next, add 2 teaspoons coconut oil and ghee to the water to melt.  Add the water mixture to the blender ingredients and blend for about 3 seconds.  Pour the blended ingredients into glass jars and refrigerate.

Nursing Mother’s Tea: 1/2 cup fennel seeds; 1/2 cup red raspberry leaves; 1/4 cup nettle leaf; 1/4 cup milk thistle; 1/4 cup fenugreek; 1/4 cup anise seed; 1/4 cup dried blessed thistle; 1/4 cup dandelion leaf, optional
Directions:  Gently combine the herbs together. Store in a glass jar. To make, add 1 tbsp. of herb mix per 2 cups of almost-boiling water. Let the herb mix steep in your water for 5-10 minutes. Strain and Serve.
Notes: You could also make a gallon of tea with a 1/2 cup of the herb mix. Then simply refrigerate the leftover tea and drink it during the week.  You could mix half tea with half full-fat milk and have a tasty (caffeine free) latte-type drink.

Nursing Mother’s Milkshake: Serves 1
Ingredients: Nursing mother’s tea, frozen into ice cubes; 2 tablespoons of oats; half a banana; a handful of strawberries; 1 tablespoon of almond butter; 1 tablespoon of coconut cream; 1 cup of almond milk
To make ice cubes:  Make the tea according to the above instructions. Let steep for about 5 minutes, preferably with a lid or in a teapot to retain all those essential aromas and goodness from the herbs. Pour into an ice cube tray and place in the freezer for a minimum of 4 hours.
To make the milkshake: Place all the ingredients into a blender. Combine until completely smooth. Pour into a glass.
Variations: Top with whipped cream for a little indulgence.  Add a handful of spinach for extra green goodness.

Women’s Vitality Tea: 3 parts raspberry leaf; 1 part vitex; 2 parts nettle leaf; 1 part  astragalus root; 1 part oat straw; 1 part blessed thistle; 2 parts peppermint
Directions: Mix in a large bowl until well combined.  Store in a tightly sealed container.
To prepare: Add 1 teaspoon of loose leaf tea per cup of hot water and steep for 3-5 minutes. One may find that it benefits from the addition of a bit of milk (one’s choice) and/or raw honey to smooth out the flavor.  Take a cup first thing in the morning and one around noon.
Note: One could also use this blend to make a tincture.  This blend will keep stored in a cool, dark place for approximately 6 months.  Not suitable for pregnant or nursing mothers.

—-Mitákuye Oyás’iŋ—-
Jolene Grffiths, Master Herbalist

For more information, contact Naturopathic Doctor Randy Lee, owner of The Health Patch at 1024 S. Douglas Blvd, Midwest City, at 405-736-1030 or e-mail pawpaw@TheHealthPatch.com or visit TheHeathPatch.com.

Backyard Gardening

You know, I think I’ve had a backyard garden almost every year of my life. I love gardening and I love fresh vegetables. But many today did not grow up with a gardening heritage. They have always depended on the grocery store for their fresh produce, and this year they seem to be in short supply; at least that’s what many of our customers are telling us.

I order most of my seeds each year from an heirloom seed company I’ve used for a number of years and have never had trouble getting all I wanted/needed. But this year as I started to plant, I noticed that there was one favorite that I had forgotten. So, I got online and tried to order, only to find they were out of that seed. I was surprised, so I called them and asked what the problem was. They said that so many people have concerns about our food supply that they have been ordering seeds in record amounts, planning to grow their own.

We’ve had a number of customers state that they do not have either experience or know how to garden nor a place for a garden. So, I came up with four viable alternatives to share with our listeners.

  • Container gardening.  Literally, all you need is a container, some soil and some seeds.  You can grow an abundance of produce is a relatively small space.  My sister lives in an apartment and has only a 5’X6’ balcony, but it’s room for one chair and over a dozen different sizes of pretty pots.  She grows a lot.  And stuff grows in ugly pots like tin cans and soup cans as well as in the pretty ones. And when in the past I’ve done container gardening, I didn’t adhere to the spacings listed on the seed pouches. The packet may have said plant one seed every 6”, but neither I nor my plants seemed to mind touching each other. I had a friend who planted everything she needed for salads in a half whiskey barrel and kept it going spring through fall.  When she picked one thing, she just put in a couple more seeds!
  • Backyard gardening. Turn over whatever size plot of soil you want to plant, add some compost (usually available from your city – call around – at no cost if you’ll go pick it up (by the tub, or bucket, or pickup truck load), or a bag or two from the local home decor shop. Spread it on top of the area you turned over, turn it all over again to incorporate it, water it, and let it set till you’re ready to plant.
  • Raised beds.  Same as above, except start by putting in something for height (wood, concrete, stones, cinder blocks, etc.).  Fill it with soil and compost and plant. Stray bales may also be used. Either just put composted dirt on the top of them or arrange the bales in a square or a rectangle and fill the space with the composted dirt.  When the growing season is over, the bale will be partially decomposed and will add nutrients to the soil for successive plantings. You’ll be amazed with the quantity of produce you can grow in this small space!
  • Chip gardens. Companies who trim trees run them through a chipper and have to pay the city dumps for the privilege of dumping them there. There’s a tape online called “Back to Eden” that gives a fuller description, but basically you turn the soil, cover it with newspaper (or something like it) to keep the weeds from growing through, put some dirt on it, and then put some chips – free from tree trimmers – and wait for planting time. Add a couple of inches of chips each year and in no time, you’ll have a very lush garden area.

We recognize that backyard gardening is a dying art, so a buddy of mine and I are considering putting together a “beginning gardener” class in the August/September time frame to let some folks get be ready for next year’s spring gardening. Let us know if you’re interested. If we have enough interest, we’ll do it.

I garden and we can and preserve produce each year. Join me, and you too can control the quality and variety of foods you eat! Good health and God’s blessings!

  • For more information, contact Naturopathic Doctor Randy Lee, owner of The Health Patch at 1024 S. Douglas Blvd, Midwest City, at 405-736-1030 or e-mail pawpaw@TheHealthPatch.com or visit TheHeathPatch.com.

The How and Why of Lymphatic Cleansing

In dealing with our customers, I often question them about how they view the functioning of their various body systems. Curiously, when I ask about their lymphatic systems, I often just get an askance glance. Few people even know what the lymphatic system is, much less how to describe theirs as functioning. They may recognize that they have lymph nodes, but may not know what they do. But the functioning of the lymphatic system is essential to good health.

Upwards of 100,000 body cells die each day. And where do they go when they die? Into the lymphatic system. It is a system of interconnected nodes that collect and move the dead material from all over your body into the waste disposal systems of the body so it may be evacuated. We do not want to hold on to all that dead and decaying material which quickly becomes toxic to the rest of the body.

Besides the network of connected nodes to collect the dead cells there are three main larger collection points: the spleen, the tonsils and the appendix. Interestingly, many of my peers, including me, had their tonsils removed in childhood because the doctors didn’t at that time know of any serious function they performed. So, when they swelled up during an infection which caused more than average cellular death, the doctors just removed them. I know of people today who have recently had their appendixes removed due to that same logic. And, granted, we can live relatively normal lives without them, but have to stay more on top of large-scale infections without them. Now we realize a lymphatic cleanse may be warranted.

An annual lymphatic cleanse would also be recommended for folks with a more sedentary lifestyle. You see, the lymphatic system has no pump to move the waste through the body. I call this the “toothpaste” movement system. How do you get toothpaste out of the tube? You squeeze the tube. The lymphatic tubes run through muscle structures in the body. So, to get the waste to flow, you need to contract the muscle so they squeeze the tubes. No muscle movement means no squeezing on the tubes which means no movement of the dead material. Exercise is essential. And the more sedentary your lifestyle, the more you need regular cleansing of the lymphatic system.

I personally enjoy using herbs and herbal combination to cleanse. The phytonutrients in many of the herbs encourage the body to detoxify naturally. And as a rule, we should regularly cleanse the eliminative organs (kidneys and liver) and the blood and lymphatic systems, as well as the intestinal system.

Fifteen years ago, we had a test we could use to see how your body systems were working. The developer of the test worked for several months with a body of career herbalists to develop cleansing products for the kidney and the lymphatic systems. He stated that we could expect ninety percent of our clients to need these two products prior to begin any other cleansing programs. In my experience, he was accurate. Herbs for cleansing the lymphatic system include: parthenium, yarrow, capsicum, cleavers, red clover flowers, prickly ash bark, and others. They include encapsulated herbs or liquid tinctures which may be accomplished in a single month.

I cleanse my lymphatic system each year. Join me, and I hope you can feel as good as I do! Good health and God’s blessings!

  • For more information, contact Naturopathic Doctor Randy Lee, owner of The Health Patch at 1024 S. Douglas Blvd, Midwest City, at 405-736-1030 or e-mail pawpaw@TheHealthPatch.com or visit TheHeathPatch.com.