Friday, April 29, 2011

Do your joints C-R-E-A-K??

Mine use to, even though I drink lots of water daily, which is important... then I started taking a vegan based joint formula and it helped, but I also lost a lot of weight by changing my eating habits to a lifestyle of hormonally balanced foods, avoiding skin and hair care products that throw my hormones out of whack, and supplementing with progesterone cream to ensure balance. I wasn’t sure which to attribute my non-achy joints to – weight loss or the supplement. So, I decided my parents would be the perfect people to try an essential joint supplement. My mother is on enough medications, and has an adversity to pill swallowing, so my father had to become the one to swallow a joint support supplement. I was actually surprised that in as little as two weeks he said his knees were MUCH better and asked me to get him another bottle as he did not want to run out.  This successful testimony got me to wondering a bit more about the ingredients in essentials joint formula. I knew from reading Dr. Russel Blaylock’s newsletter that a number of ingredients were high on his list as anti-inflammatories. But as is typical of myself, I wanted to probe further. I was able to locate lab reports and studies on the internet of which the data impressed me. Here is the scoop on some of the ingredients listed in the joint formula from which my father obtains results:

Boswellia Serrata
The report I found was a 2008 Thorne Research, Alternative Medicine Review Report Vol. 13, #2
The report states that boswellia serrata has been shown to reduce asthma, and decreases Crohn’s disease activity; inhibits human leukocyle elastase, which stimulates mucous secretion and may play a major role in cystic fibrosis, chronic bronchitis, acute respiratory distress syndrome. It has also shown to inhibit the growth of leukemia HL-60 cells.
Granted, I am not a scientist, but I understand enough of that statement to be duly impressed!

White Willow (salix alba)
I admit, I started taking these notes a while ago and cannot recall the site for data on white willow bark. It stated: Native Americans are thought to have used ground willow bark and bark steeped for tea as a medicinal remedy for everything from pain relief to fevers. Today, white willow bark is often used as a natural alternative to aspirin. The active ingredient in white willow is salicin, which the body converts into salicylic acid. The first aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) was made from a different salicin-containing herb--meadowsweet--but works in essentially the same way. All aspirin is now chemically synthesized. It's not surprising, then, that white willow bark is often called "herbal aspirin." The salicylic acid in white willow bark lowers the body's levels of prostaglandins, hormonelike compounds that can cause aches, pain, and inflammation. While white willow bark takes longer to begin acting than aspirin, its effect may last longer. And, unlike aspirin, it doesn't cause stomach bleeding or other known adverse effects.

Pine (pinus massaoniana)
For this ingredient I found a study found here, that offered several interesting bits of information. I admit – none of you may find this interesting, but I really want to know why a supplement works so well – and this is fascinating to me.
AIM OF THE STUDY: Pinus massoniana bark extract (PMBE) with known anti-oxidant activity is comprised of various flavonoids including several bio-active compounds. We found that PMBE contains 1.27% taxifolin, a well-studied compound with known anti-inflammatory activity. Therefore, in the present study, we evaluated the effects of PMBE and taxifolin on intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) expression.
This study read in a language way over my head, but from the summary I could glean: These results indicate that PMBE, grown in China, exhibits great potential as a therapeutic treatment for inflammatory skin diseases.
Another study that reads over my head, but again – I looked to the final sentence for something I could grasp, which reads: indicate that PMBE is a natural antioxidant that could potentially be used as a food supplement or as a candidate precursor substance for new anticancer therapeutics.
A third study, if you care to read even more about pinus massaniana, can be found here.

Previously I had blogged about rooibos after learning it replaced another very good anti-inflammatory in the joint formula I had been using. What I learned about rooibos impressed me that the research and development team was really on top, and indeed ahead of the game, when it comes to selecting beneficial ingredients.
A study on roobias can be found here.  Some of what I have found may be a repeat from my previous post, but bears redundacy in order to help further educate about the wonderful properties of this plant.
Rooibos, Afrikaans for "red bush"; is a member of the legume family of plants and may be used for example to make tea. The scientific name of rooibos is Aspalathus linearis. Rooibos tea is often called South African red tea or simply red tea or bush tea. Rooibos tea has been popular in South Africa for generations, but is recently consumed increasingly in countries all over the world.
Rooibos tea is also becoming more and more popular in particular in Western countries among health-conscious consumers, due to its high level of antioxidants. The present inventors have now found that Aspalathus linearis also possesses potent anti-inflammatory properties.
Consequently, one embodiment of the present invention is a composition comprising Aspalathus linearis or an extract thereof to treat or prevent inflammatory disorders; and/or a composition comprising Aspalathus linearis or an extract thereof for use in the treatment or prevention of inflammatory disorders.
The present invention also relates to the use of a composition comprising Aspalathus linearis or an extract thereof for the preparation of a product to treat and/or prevent inflammatory disorders.
The inflammatory disorder that can be treated or prevented according to the present invention can for example be selected from the group consisting of acute inflammations such as sepsis, infections, burns and chronic inflammations such as inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, necrotizing enterocolitis, asthma, autoimmune diseases, inflammatory bowel syndrome, liver inflammation, alcoholic cirrhosis, allergy, atopy, bone inflammation, arthritis, in particular rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, systemic lupus, Gougerot-Sjόgren's syndrome, Reiter's syndrome, poliomyelitis, dermato-myositis, thyroiditis, Basedow, Hashimoto, type I diabetes, Addison's disease, auto-immunes hepatitis, celiac disease, Biermer's disease, multiple sclerosis, myasthenia, encephalomyelitis, eye inflammation, obesity-associated inflammation, age-related low-grade inflammation, Blau's syndrome, Alzheimer's disease, cardiovascular diseases, atherosclerosis, metabolic syndrome, gingivitis, paronditis, or the symptoms thereof.
In a particular preferred embodiment of the present invention, the composition comprising Aspalathus linearis or an extract thereof is used to treat and/or prevent inflammatory disorders of the gut and/or of the cartilage.
For example, the composition comprising Aspalathus linearis or an extract thereof may be used to modulate the ratio of cartilage anabolism and cartilage catabolism, in particular to increase the ratio of cartilage anabolism and cartilage catabolism. It may also be used to inhibit cartilage catabolism.
Suitable extracts of Aspalathus linearis may be prepared by any means that are known in the art, e.g., by steam extraction, solvent extraction, distillation, pressing or grinding.
It is however preferred if the extract is obtainable, in particular obtained, by extraction with a solvent from Aspalathus linearis plant material, in particular by a water extraction or an alcohol/water extraction, for example by a ethanol/water extraction.

I pondered whether or not to include all of that about rooibos…but reading it, I just though you deserved to know all of the anti-inflammatory benefits of this amazing plant! If you didn’t get bored with this perhaps overly technical/medical post – I hope you, too, are impressed by the joint formula that my dad is having such good results with. There is much more to anti-inflammatory than glucosamine – gluc helps for certain and my doctor recommended it, but how much more effective when it is combined with additional anti-inflames that help reduce swelling in so many areas of the body, from cellular structure to joints.
In addition to drinking water (1/2 your body weight in ounces daily), I found a link on my nephew's Cross Fit Sanctify web-site that has a video with simple exercises you can do with a rolled up towel and small ball, to help open up the mechnics of the knee. Check it out here.
I hope the only creaks you hear are that of the attic door!! I know I am grateful to have quiet knees after years of morning creakiness.

To your health!
Rita S.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Green Cabbage and Mushrooms

Who ever thinks about eating cabbage? For me, cabbage's only purpose is to be slawed for a great side dish now and then...especially during the summer with grilled chicken. But lo and behold, cabbage, as it is - has great anti-cancer properties! Perhaps it is time to reconsider this cruciferous vegetable as more than a tasty side a few times a year.Our neighbor grows cabbage...and offers a head now and then. Depending upon whether I have time or an upcoming potluck to attend in which I can take slaw, I either accept or decline the offer. But the next time he offers a head of cabbage - I am going to take him up on it and make the recipe I am sharing today from Dr. Weil. Looking over the ingredients, I bet this will be quite tasty! We especially love shitake mushrooms, so using that particular fungus instead of button mushrooms will be a no brainer. I can visualize this dish served as a side to a lean cut of steak and maybe an ear of grilled corn on the cob. I know it is not summer yeat - but it is coming!! If I did not put this recipe here today, as I received it from Dr. W, it would have become lost in my archives of "worthy blog sharing notes" - so here you go.
I wonder, if the Irish eat as much cabbage as stereotype suggests, do they experience less breast and prostrate cancer? Of course Ireland is a land of much cleaner air and fewer industrial chemicals...for that reason alone, they surely fare better than we Americans. Despite our environment of xenoestrogens and neurotoxins...we can eat cabbage, intake our indoles, and help pacify the cancerous cells within us.

All that below is retyped from the weekly newsletter of Dr. Andrew Weil:
Cabbage is a true vegetable treasure, widely unappreciated. It is low cost and highly nutritious. Along with other cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts and kale), cabbage provides significant amounts of fiber, vitamin C, and an important class of nutrients called indoles. Reseach on indoles is focusing on their ability to protect against both breast and prostrate cancer. An addition bonus in this savory dish is the mushrooms. Use more flavorful (and healthful) shitake mushrooms if you can find them.
1 small green cabbage, cored and diced, about 6 cups
1 cup organic vegetable broth
1 T extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion diced
1/2 pound of mushrooms
1.5 T cornstarch mixed into quarter cup cold water
1 t. dried dillweed, or 1.5 T of fresh, chopped
1/2 t. paprika
Sea salt and pepper to taste

  1. In covered pot over high heat, steam cabbage for five minutes in vegetable stock, until wilted but still bright green. Remove cover and remove from heat.
  2. While cabbage cooks, in large skillet saute the onions and mushrooms in olive oil. Add cabbage to skillet and stir together.
  3. Dilute cornstarch in small bowl with 1/4 cup of cold water, and slowly add into cabbage mixture. Bring to a boil until sauce thickens, add spices and serve.
This dish contains ZERO cholesterol, has 70.9 calories, over 60 mg calcium and 23 magnesium. It contains 11 carbs. If you would like the total nutritional breakdown email me please, as I had to retype Dr. Weil's recipe to avoid messed up blog formatting.
To your health!
Rita S.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Skinny on Fats

Passion. It is a real part of who I am. A friend joked this week, “is there anything you don’t research?”  As I reflected on that question, I realized that as an adult I have always been one to dig deep into any interest. I’ve researched herb and butterfly gardening, baby bottles and equipment when I was pregnant, African parrot sub-species differentiation when we raised parrots, wall paint, blenders, etc. …and now I stay up all hours researching health and wellness products, supplements, and the foods we eat. I don’t take a claim at face value, but dig deeper to find out if the claim is substantiated with research and truths. But how does one determine truth? After all, I am not a bio-chemist by trade. If I can find several sources, books, articles/newsletters and sometimes even lab reports on line – pointing in the same direction, then I feel a claim has “two feet to stand on”.

Today I am sharing information based on hours of researching something we use every day – fats, or oils used in cooking. Everyone has heard of the importance of Omega 3 oils. The American diet is greatly deficient in getting enough of these oils, vital for brain and heart health. Our body cannot produce it on its own – it must be consumed. In contrast, American diets swing in the other direction of the scale when it comes to consumption of Omega 6 oils.  These oils are available to us in foods made by the Creator, and "no thanks" the the food industry, are abundant in processed foods, chips, salad dressings. Packaging and clever marketing persuades us that these are healthy choices, but are Omega 6 oils truly healthy?

Dr. John Lee, in his book, “What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Breast Cancer” takes a very strong stance against Omega 6 oils, which become rancid quite readily, especially during processing. Per Lee, these oils are full are free radicals even before the bottles are sealed and readied to line the shelves of our grocery stores. But do I question the health of Omega 6 oils based on the writings of one book by one doctor and two co-authors, no…

I took the title for today's blog post directly from Dr. Russel Blaylock's October 2010 issue. Blaylock is a board certified neurosurgeon who recently retired from his neurosurgical duties to devote his full attention to nutritional studies and research. There are a lot of misconceptions out there about fats in the diet. Saturated fats get the blame for high cholesterol, which truth be told, the real culprit for high cholesterol is simple carbohydrates - folks, if it is made with white, processed wheat flour - it is SIMPLE. Refined sugars also contribute to heart disease, diabetes, cancer (indeed sugar is a fuel cancer cells crave to thrive - but I digress...).
Our bodies are actually in need of saturated fats to function properly, whereas Omega 6 fats are the culprits that cause inflammation, propagates cancer, diabetes, stroke... Do we need both Omega 3 and Omega 6? To this I am not certain, and have more research to conduct. Follow this link to an article about the importance of Omega balance. No matter, the truth is, as a society, we are far from experiencing a deficiency in Omega 6 fats in our diet.

Per Blaylock, below is a list of fats that you may wish to store for reference:

Healthy Fats

• Extra-virgin olive oil

• Omega-3 fats (fish oil, DHA and flaxseed oil)

• EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)

• DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)

• Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) — borage oil

• Conjugated linolenic acid (CLA)

• Extra-virgin coconut oil

Unhealthy Fats

• Omega-6 oils (corn, safflower, sunflower, peanut, canola and soybean)

• Trans-fatty acids (partially hydrogenated oils)

When I began this post I had cut and paste all sorts of notes from various health sites to study further and share with you. However, I came across an article that really does a wonderful summary of what both Dr. Lee and Dr. Blaylock stated in their publications, and concurs with the other sources I have found.

Rense, the author of what I deem one of the best articles I have read in quite some time, “speaks” with passion on the subject of Omega 3 vs. Omega 6 oils. Rense is a passionate research journalist, which is perhaps why I find his article compelling, as well as being extremely educational and upfront about fats and oils.  I have added his article to my side bar. You owe it to yourself and your family to read it –  if you don’t have time today please earmark it for future reading. Having read Rense's piece – I won’t even bother to share with you the other sources I have found – again, all pointing in the same direction.
To summarize, in our household we use primarily Extra Virgin Olive Oil for everything.  We rarely cook anything with high heat, but for such needs, use either coconut oil, palm kernel oil, or GHEE (clarified butter). We bake with organic BUTTER.  (BTW – if you have a Costco membership please visit the suggestion/how are we doing table near the service desk and make a suggestion that Costco carry coconut oil.)
Again, please refer to this article by
Dr. Blaylock has authored three books on nutrition and wellness, including “Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills,” “Health and Nutrition Secrets That Can Save Your Life,” and his most recent work, “Natural Strategies for The Cancer Patient.” If you would like a PDF copy of his newsletter on "fats" please send me an email or comment with a contact reference.

Another book highly recommended on is “Know Your Fats – Understanding Cholesterol”.

 This link to a lab has an interesting report on Omega 6 to 3 ratios if you care to check it out.
I know for fact that I do not get enough Omega 3 in my diet, even though I use olive oil almost exclusively in my food preparations, and supplement with a quality vegan Omega 3. God has provided plenty of Omega 6 sources, such as nuts, seeds, vegetables and even meats. When choosing fats and oils to use in your kitchen, do your heart a favor and select from the list Blaylock provided above.

To your health!
Rita S.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Taco Seasoning Made from Scratch!

Happy tax day! I hope it is a happy day for you - the Lord made it for you!
With the dangers of food dyes and chemicals in our processed foods making headlines as of late, I thought I would pass along a recipe my friend Renee gave me for homemade taco seasoning.
Of course when I checked the package of El Paso mix, McCormick, etc. - I noted that food dyes were on the ingredient list - which axes that chemical laden packet from our cupboard in the future. Making taco seasoning from scratch will taste a bit different from what you may be used to, simply because our brains are programmed to crave the chemicals in our processed foods. Give this recipe a try, and don't expect to love it until it has had a few chances to reprogram your tastebuds. My friend said her family now loves this seasoning mix, although initially they did not. It is made with spices that are readily in my cupboard, and perhaps yours as well. Thanks for the recipe Renee!

Chemical/Dye Free Taco Seasoning Mix
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teasoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon powdered oregano or dried leaf pieces
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix together and add to ground beef or chicken or turkey along with a small amount of water to help make it saucey. Stir and let simmer until it looks mixed.

Happy, healthful cooking!
Rita S.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A Helpful Site to Share

The other day I came across a very informative site regarding natural hormone therapy and it is a must share with my readers. It is called the Natural Progesterone Advisory Network - a site by woman who have first hand experience and testimonies to share regarding natural hormone replacement therapy, with a passion to empower women to make informed decisions.
The link I provided takes you directly to a list or symptoms and concerns. You can find the ones that relate to you, click and read what is to be said.  I was specifically looking up thyroid information for a friend, and will share with you directly from the site:

Will progesterone help improve thyroid function?
A good number of women who approach the Natural Progesterone Advisory website present with symptoms that indicate possible thyroid dysfunction and yet, according the info provided, thyroid tested results are all clear. A few months on progesterone cream and, remarkably, all their apparent thyroid symptoms appear resolved.
Evidently estrogen dominance not only contributes to lethargy, fluid retention and weight gain, it has a negative impact on thyroid performance. Therefore, if you have been diagnosed with a thyroid problem, are on thyroid medication and now want to incorporate natural progesterone into your regime, there’s no reason why you can’t, providing you do so under the strict supervision of your treating physician.
Your thyroid medication, however, may require regular adjustment as progesterone cream exerts an influence upon the thyroid gland.
Thyroid function can be improved with supplements of trace minerals such as selenium, iodine, zinc and manganese. Selenium particularly has been known to “enhance” thyroid medication.
Therefore, if you are unsure whether your thyroid is functioning optimally (this can be characterized by the inability to lose weight, puffy and swollen body appearance, lethargy, muscle weakness, dry skin, hair loss and constipation) you might well be advised to ask your doctor to order the appropriate tests. This includes blood profile to measure the levels of both thyroid hormones, T4 and T3, and also TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone). A shortage of T4 would be administered in the form of thryoxine tablets. In the U.S. thyroid replacement therapy is available in cream form by way of natural thyroid hormone replacement using bio-identical hormones.

Hormone imbalance is truly the cause for so many things wrong with our bodies. We can avoid surgery by using natural supplements, such as progesterone cream applied to skin 1-2x daily. Who would not rather apply a cream than have your innards yanked out? Or take drugs with side effects that make one naueseous. Oh, and I learned from a friend that they make drugs to help reduce the nausea caused by the drugs taken. It is definitely a viscious cycle, and one that I hope and intend to avoid...always!

To your health!
Rita S.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

What Are We Really Feeding Our Kids?

Childhood cancer rates in the U.S. have increased 10% in 15 years! Does that bother you like it bothers me? What's going on, one might ask....  Read your food labels and you will find your answer.  I just posted about this suject last time, but it makes headlines again today. Check out this article which tells how consumers in the UK protested against the toxic food additives and big companies like Coca-Cola, Kraft and more complied - finding natural alternatives. But not here in the U.S.  The FDA protects big money (food manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies) much more so than they do Joe Public.  I wonder what the original mission and intent of establishing the FDA was...I have a feeling they have strayed far from the original purpose of origin.
I suggest making label reading a FAMILY project.  Our kids read labels and want to know what exactly the dyes are made of, and what exactly is artificial or natural flavors? I can think of a lot of natural things that I would not want to consumer. I won't go into's gross.  We cannot protect our children from everything, but armed with knowledge we can make healthful and wise decisions on their behalf.

To your health, and that of our children as well!
Rita S.