Trouble Getting Some Zzzzzzs? Try These Sleep Aids

 

I’ve certainly had my share of sleep-deprived nights. For me, it’s usually not a matter of having trouble falling asleep, but waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to get BACK to sleep.

Anyway, if you’re looking for some natural ways to help you get a better night’s rest, then I hope you find the following information helpful. I haven’t tried all the things listed here, but the ones I’ve used so far that seem to make a difference are magnesium and tart cherries, either freeze-dried or in juice concentrate form (be sure you buy organic, since cherries are one of the most pesticide-laden crops around). FYI, 8 oz of Montmorency tart cherry juice has 4 times the melatonin of other kinds of cherries, so that’s what I always look for. I keep meaning to try kiwis, since I really like them, but usually eat them in the morning, so I want to see what happens if I eat them before bed.

 

High sleep index foods

You’ve probably heard of tryptophan, the amino acid that many people blame for their lethargy after Thanksgiving dinner. The body converts tryptophan into neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and melatonin, that help us relax. As a result, tryptophan-rich foods help us feel sleepy. Turkey, hummuslentils and kelp are naturally high in tryptophan and contain many other beneficial nutrients.

*Bananas are also a great “sleep index” food: They contain tryptophan, potassium and magnesium, all of which are natural muscle relaxants. Cherries are a good source of melatonin, which can help us get more restful, reparative sleep.

And did you know that in one study, people who ate two kiwi fruits before bed got an extra hour of sleep at night? They woke up later and took less time to fall asleep.

Carbohydrate-rich foods are often excellent at promoting better sleep. A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that high-glycemic carbohydrates, which increase sugar levels rapidly, encourage sleep when eaten about four hours before bedtime. Jasmine rice, potatoescarrots, corn and honey are healthy options.

Calcium helps the brain use tryptophan to create melatonin. Specific food combinations, such as whole grain cereals and milkpeanut butter sandwiches, or cheese and crackers contain balanced amounts of calcium and carbohydrates. Calcium is also a natural muscle relaxant.

When to eat

Eating high sleep index foods calms the nervous system and triggers sleep-inducing hormones. But timing is everything. A large meal right before bedtime can interfere with sleep. Tryptophan takes at least an hour to reach the brain, so plan meals accordingly.

Avoid rich, high-fat foods close to bedtime. They require a lot of work to digest and may cause stomach trouble and heartburn. Also, moderate your beverages. Too many fluids will cause frequent trips to the bathroom during the night. In particular, caffeinated beverages stimulate the body and act as diuretics, a double whammy when trying to sleep.

Natural sleep aids

As noted, there is no shortage of sleep aids, either over the counter or by prescription. While these aids generally work in the short term, they come with a long list of detrimental side effects and can become habit-forming. In addition, these powerful drugs are known to interfere with a number of critical biological mechanisms. Remember, they’re not meant to be gentle, but rather to put you out like a light.

I recommend a combination of relaxing, non-habit-forming herbs: lemon balm, passionflower, vitamin B6 and small doses of melatonin, about 500 mcg, can be very helpful.

When taken together 15 minutes before bed, these herbs and nutrients help to promote a gentle state of relaxation and drowsiness. Even better, they help optimize the body’s natural repair processes during sleep. They also work to support numerous other areas of health and longevity as well.

One of the shortcomings of modern society is that every problem requires maximum response. But when it comes to healthy relaxation and restful sleep, you should take a softer, gentler approach.

High sleep index foods, together with calming supplements can help you relax, enjoy a restful sleep and wake feeling refreshed. Other excellent sleep-supportive measures include mindful relaxation techniques, such as meditation and deep breathing.

Getting a good night’s rest is one of the best things you can do for health and well-being. When you support your natural sleep rhythms and cycles with the right foods, supplements and healthy relaxation measures, you reap significant and noticeable benefits. In addition to greater physical energy, mental clarity and emotional balance, getting quality sleep each night results in stronger vitality and better overall health, naturally.

Source: http://easyhealthoptions.com/high-sleep-index-foods-nutrients-help-sleep-like-baby/

 

Turmeric milk, also called golden milk,  before bedtime is used by many people as a sleep aid (also see the link later in this post to the Self-help **blog on golden milk that includes a version where you don’t have to make a paste beforehand)……

Source : http://www.thepaleosecret.com/fbfreegift/morningdrinkfb/01/

**Also see this Self-help Health post on golden milk.

One of my favorite relaxation and sleep aids is lavender essential oil….rubbing a couple of drops on my hands and then inhaling, or dabbing on my wrists, temples or soles of my feed. Also, warm epsom salt soaks, and being careful of the amount of blue light I get at night by turning off the computer an hour or two before bedtime. I’ve also read where oranges, pineapples and passion flower tea are helpful. Chamomile tea is well-known for its relaxing, sleep-inducing quality, and the Mediterranean diet and olive oil are supposedly good for sleep, as well. And I read that most sleep disorders are connected to hormonal toxicity, so that’s something some people may need to address.

*And the peel of a banana apparently has 3 times as much magnesium as the fruit itself, which is probably why someone came up with a recipe for using “Banana Tea” as a sleep aid. All you do is wash a banana (be sure it’s organic), cut in half w/ peel on; cut off tips and boil 3 to 4 minutes in filtered/structured water, steep and drink the liquid. You can refrigerate the fruit  for use the next day in a smoothie (the peel is totally edible and high in nutrition, so you may try tossing that in, too), yogurt, oatmeal, or some other way.

And here’s some info about using magnolia tree bark as a remedy for stress and deeper sleep:

https://easyhealthoptions.com/tree-bark-less-stress-sleep-not-pillow/

Want more info? Here’s a in-depth post by Dr Joseph Mercola about sleep, the ramifications of not getting enough of it, best sleeping positions, and 50 ways to improve it, including eliminating EMFs, using 5-HTP and/or magnesium, going back to using incandescent bulbs, and more.

Related Self-help Heath posts:

9 Yoga Poses For Better Sleep

What’s Not To Love About Cherries?!

Spirit Gate: Heart 7 Acupoint For Anxiety, Insomnia And More

Stay tuned for a post on how raising the head of your bed a few inches can promote better sleep, as well as help with varicose veins, detox the brain, and more!

 

Salud!

p.s. Be sure to subscribe to Self-help Health so you don’t miss any future posts, and tell your friends to do the same. Also check out my website’s To Your Health page and Evolution Made Easier blog for more helpful health tips, tools and information.

Disclaimer: Please note that any information here is provided as a guideline only, and is not meant to substitute for the advice of your physician, nutritionist, trained healthcare practitioner, and/or inner guidance system. Always consult a professional before undertaking any change to your normal health routine.

 

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Wow! Lots of Edible Flowers to enhance your meals!

 

Wow, I was aware of some of these, but never realized there were so many options of edible flowers! I’m excited and relieved  that spring is finally showing its face (we had an extra cold winter) and things are starting to bloom. I volunteer in a community garden and we grow a number of the flowers and herbs listed here, so now I’ll know to be picking even more of a variety to use in my salads than I did before. Delightful to have the added color and nutrition!

 

List of Edible Flowers

List of Edible Flowers

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Before you venture out to the garden and harvest a bunch of flowers for the dinner table, it’s important to remember that some flowers are poisonous. Make sure you’ve made a positive identification of each variety you’re using. Obviously, you should avoid flowers that may have been sprayed with pesticides or other chemicals, so either grow your own organic flowers, or harvest them from a location you’re sure about. Organic or not, all flowers should be shaken and washed in cold water prior to use, as they may to be homes for insects.

Pick your edible flowers in the morning, when they have the highest water content. Keep them on some dampened paper towel inside a sealed container in the refrigerator for as long as a week. You can revive wilted flowers by floating them in some ice water for a few minutes. Prepare them for eating just before serving in order to prevent further wilting.

Remove the stamens and styles from flowers before eating. Pollen can cause allergic reactions when eaten by some people, and it may overwhelm the otherwise delicate flavour of the petals. The exception here is the Violas, including Johnny-Jump-Ups and pansies, as well as scarlet runner beans, honeysuckle and clover. The flowers of these varieties can be enjoyed whole, and will probably be more flavourful this way.

This list of Edible Flowers is not comprehensive so if you notice a flower missing from this list, please do further research before you consider it edible. Don’t assume that all flowers are edible – some are highly poisonous.

Agastache BloomsAgastache – Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) is also sometimes known as licorice mint. Both the young leaves and the striking purple flowers have a mild licorice flavour. Pull the purple flower tubes away from the central structure of the flower and scatter them in salads or fancy drinks for a pop of colour and flavour.

Angelica – This relative of celery (Angelica archangelica) has licorice-scented pinkish flowers borne in large umbels. The flowers make an interesting addition to salads, but it is mostly grown for its stronger-tasting leaves.

Apple – Be sure to only try flowers from trees that have not been sprayed. Apple blossoms (Malus spp.) have an appealing but delicate flavour and scent. They work particularly well with fresh fruit salads. Use in moderation, as the flowers contain very low levels of poisonous chemicals.

Edible flowers arugula flowersArugula – Once this cool-season plant (Eruca vesicaria) begins to bolt, its leaves will have become tough and almost too spicy to eat. So let it bolt, and enjoy some of its very small, spicy, white or yellow flowers. They add a nice, unusual zing to salads.

Edible basil flowersBasil – Most growers use basil’s leaves (Ocimum basilicum) before the plant has flowered. After blooming, the character of the leaves changes and becomes less appealing, but the flowers can be eaten. They may be white to lavender, but they look stunning when sprinkled over pasta. Thai basil is sometimes allowed to flower before whole stems, with leaves attached, are harvested. The whole flower is edible.

Edible tuborous begonia flowersBegonia – both tuberous (Begonia x tuberhybrida) and wax (B. x semperflorens-cultorum) begonias have edible flowers with a slightly bitter to sharp citrus flavour. Tuberous begonia flowers contain oxalic acid, so should be avoided by people suffering from kidney stones, gout, or rheumatism.

Edible flowers of Bergamot, wildBergamot, wild – This plant (Monarda fistulosa) may be listed as bee balm, Monarda, Wild Bergamot, Oswego Tea, or Horsemint. The flowers (and the young leaves) have an intense flavour of mint with undertones of citrus and oregano. This plant that has a scent highly reminiscent of Earl Grey tea. Somewhat confusingly, the “oil of bergamot” used to flavour Earl Grey is actually derived from citrus peel from the Bergamot Orange. Monarda flowers are formed by large clusters of edible tubular petals that can be separated before adding to cakes, fancy drinks, or salads.

Borage edible flowersBorage – This familiar garden herb (Borago officnialis) has furry leaves and exquisite blue, star-shaped flowers. Both have a cooling taste reminiscent of cucumber. Try some of the flowers in a summer lemonade or sorbet – or a gin & tonic! They work particularly well as garnishes for gazpacho, cheese plates, or just sprinkled over salads.

Calendula Seeds in bloomCalendula – All “pot marigolds” (Calendula officinalis) have flower petals that are edible. They have a nice flavour that ranges from peppery to bitter, and they add bright yellow, gold, and orange colour to soups and salads. They may even tint some dishes like saffron does.

Edible chamomile flowersChamomile – Choose the German chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla syn. M. recutita) for its daisy-like flowers. They can be used fresh or dried, and make a particularly nice tea that tastes vaguely like apples. Drink the tea in moderation – some allergy sufferers may have a negative response. Otherwise, sprinkle the petals into salads and soups.

Chervil – The lacy leaves of this shade-loving herb (Anthriscus cerefolium) are topped by delicate white flowers borne in umbels. Both the leaves and the flowers have a very mild anise or licorice-like taste. Add chervil to your dishes just before serving to maintain the best flavour.

Edible flowers of chicoryChicory – All endive varieties (Cichorium endivia & C. intybus) produce, at summer’s end, tall stems with striking, sky-blue flowers. The petals can be pulled off and added to salads for their earthy, endive-like flavour. The unopened flower buds can also be pickled like capers.

List of edible flowers including chivesChives – The flowers of chives (Allium schoenoprasum) are ball-like clusters of hundreds of little florets that can be separated and scattered onto salads for colour and a mild onion flavour.

Shungiku edible chrysanthemum flowersChrysanthemum – The edible chrysanthemum and garland Chrysanthemum (both are Leucanthemum coronarium) that we offer produce both edible young leaves and appealing white daisy-like flowers with yellow centres, or flowers that are entirely yellow. The petals of both types are edible and faintly tangy.

Edible flowers of cilantroCilantro – This leafy herb (Coriandrum sativum) is also known as Coriander. In summer heat it is quick to bolt, and will send up tall umbels of white flowers. These have an intensely herbal flavour, just like the leaves, roots, and seeds of the plant, and can be used as a garnish where cilantro leaves would otherwise be used.

Edible clover flowersClover– The flower heads of clover (Trifolium spp.) are edible, and have a sweet, mild licorice flavour. In fact, the whole above ground plant is edible, but it’s best to grow clover as tender sprouts or to use the flower tubes in moderation as a salad garnish. Mature clover is tough to digest, and may cause bloating.

Blossoms of Cornflower Seeds in bloomCornflower – The pretty, blue flowers of cornflower (Centaurea cyanus) have a slightly spicy, clove-like flavour with a subtle sweetness. Cornflower petals look wonderful in salads. Use torn petals as a garnish, or whole flowers in fancy drinks.

Dame’s Rocket – The petals of this tall relative of mustard (Hesperis matronalis) are pink, lavender, or white, and always come in fours. Perennial Phlox looks similar, and also has edible flowers, but always have five petals. The petals (and the immature leaves) of Dame’s Rocket are worth adding to salads, but have a mild bitter flavour.

Edible dandelion flowersDandelion – The ubiquitous dandelion (Taxacum officinalis) is entirely edible. When picked small, and unopened, the flower buds have a surprising sweetness, reminiscent of honey. Young greens are also tasty either raw or steamed. Dandelion petals look very nice when scattered over pasta or rice. While dandelions are rather easy to come by, make sure to harvest them only from organic gardens. Avoid any grown near roads or picked from lawns where chemicals may be present.

Edible day lilies flowersDay Lilies – The fleshy, short-lived flowers of day lilies (Hemerocallis spp.) are sweet, with a flavour resembling mild melon or cucumber. Make sure to cut the tasty petals away from the bitter base of each flower. Try them in salads! Eat in moderation.

How to Grow DianthusDianthus – Look for the large-flowered carnation (Dianthus caryophyllus), and cut the sweet tasting petals away from the bitter white base of each flower. The bright red and pink petals have a mild clove flavour and are great for desserts or salads.

Edible dill flowersDill – Stronger in flavour than the leaves, the flowers of dill (Anethum graveolens) can be used when cooking fish, or raw in salads. They are very small, yellow, and borne on tall umbels. Best used when they have just opened, as they set seed quickly.

Edible flowers English daisyEnglish Daisy – The low growing flowers (Bellis perennis) have a bitter flavour, but are entirely edible. They are small enough to use simply by sprinkling the petals onto salads or other meals, and will not overwhelm stronger flavours.

How to grow Florence fennel Selma Fino Fennel Seeds HR1089-1Fennel – Both the garden herb and the vegetable Florence fennel(both are Foeniculum vulgare) will eventually produce attractive and tall umbels of tiny yellow flowers that have the same mild licorice flavour as the leaves. These work very well in desserts!

Edible fuchsia flowersFuchsia – Avoid nursery-bought Fuchsia (Fuchsia x hybrida) flowers, as they may have been sprayed. Otherwise, the extraordinary looking flowers make great garnishes and have a slightly acidic flavour.

Garlic scapes

Garlic Scapes!

Garlic – Allowed to open, garlic flowers (Allium sativum) are pink to white, with florets that can be separated and inserted into salads for a mild garlic zing. However, allowing the plants to flower may divert energy that would otherwise go to the bulb. Many garlic growers prefer to cut the flower stems (scapes) before they open. These can be sautéed in butter for an intense, early summer side dish, or run through the food processor and mixed with Parmesan cheese, olive oil, and pine nuts for a sensational pesto.

Hollyhocks edible flowersHollyhock – The large, brightly coloured flowers of common hollyhocks (Alcea rosea) have almost no flavour of their own, but they sure look nice cut into salads or sprinkled over desserts. Be sure to use the petals only – cut these away from the central structure of the flower just before serving.

Honeysuckle – The long flower tubes of various honeysuckle species are edible, but Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) is best, with its distinctly honey-like flavour. Do not eat the berries that follow, or any other part of the plant, as they are all poisonous.

Impatiens – The flowers of Impatiens (Impatiens walleriana) may be bright white or shocking red, but the petals are edible and have a surprisingly sweet taste. They can be torn into salad or mixed into fancy drinks.

Johnny-Jump-UpJohnny-Jump-Up – This plant (Viola tricolor) produces masses of small, brightly coloured flowers that have a faint wintergreen taste. They look great served on cakes, served with soft cheeses, or as a topping for salads. Use the whole flower intact.

French LavenderLavender – Pull the clustered flowers of lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) apart and sprinkle a few pieces onto chocolate cake. Submerge one or two pieces in a glass of chilled champagne. The sweet, intensely floral flavour of lavender should be used with restraint, but adds an incredible to pop savory dishes as well as desserts.

Edible flowers lemon bergamotLemon Bergamot – Like its wild cousin above, Lemon Bergamot (Monarda citriodora) has a perfume-like, intense, almost astringent quality, but it is strongly scented with citrus. Use portions of the flower conservatively in drinks or desserts or in herbal teas.

Lilac – Like lavender, the flowers of lilac (Syringa vulgaris) have an intensely floral, almost perfumey flavour with lemon undertones. A little goes a long way, but one or two individual flowers added to a summer punch looks wonderful and tastes very refreshing.

Gold Gem Edible FlowersLemon Marigold Tagetes tenuifolia

Edible marigold flowersMarigold – Both French marigolds (Tagetes patula) and African marigolds (T. erecta) produce flowers that are technically edible, but the pungent scent is probably worth avoiding. African marigold flowers are used as a food colourant in Europe, but have only been approved for use as a poultry feed additive in the US. However,T. tenuifolia has a refreshing citrus, lemony flavour, and its petals work well torn into salads or smart drinks.

PeppermintMint – All mint varieties (Mentha spp.) have minty-flavoured, edible flowers that may be sweet or lemon-scented, or even with chocolate overtones depending on the type.

Edible Nasturtium flowersNasturtium – All garden nasturtiums (Tropaeolum majus) produce edible flowers and leaves. Even the fresh seeds can be pickled like capers. Curiously this familiar garden flower is a cousin of the Brassica family (cabbage, broccoli, mustards, etc…). All parts of the nasturtium have a pleasant, sweet, peppery flavour. The flowers can be used whole to decorate salads and a variety of other foods, but you may want to remove the long spur at the back of the flower, as this is the nectary and may harbour small insects.

*For more on nasturtiums, check out the link to an article at the end of this post.

Edible pansies flowersPansy – The flower petals of the familiar garden pansy (Viola x wittrockiana) are edible and highly decorative. The petals have little flavour, but the whole flower can also be used. It has a grassy, wintergreen undertone that works well in fruit salad.

Edible pea flowersPea – Edible garden peas (Pisum sativum) produce edible flowers that look great in salads. Serve a blend of peas in a meal: shelled peas, pea tendrils, pea pods, and some flowers for garnish. Note: Ornamental sweet peas are poisonous.

Perennial Phlox – Be certain that you’ve got the tall-growing perennial garden Phlox (Phlox paniculata), and not the inedible annual, creeping type before you try the flowers. The perennial type bears pink to white flowers with five petals that have a pleasant, peppery flavour. They look great and taste great in fruit salads.

Primrose – With its bland, but highly colourful flowers, primrose (Primula vulgaris) is worth cultivating if only to tear its petals into a few summer salads. The flower buds can also be pickled, steamed, or fermented into wine.

Queen Anne’s Lace – The Wild Carrot (Daucus carota) produces tall umbels of exquisite, tiny, white flowers, each one marked by a blood-red centre. Although this plant is grown for its decorative, edible flowers, it can cross-pollinate with its close relative the carrot, so if you happen to be growing carrots with the intent of saving seed, avoid this plant in your garden. The flowers of Queen Anne’s Lace have a mild, carroty flavour. Be absolutely certain that the plant you are harvesting is not the invasive weed known as Wild or Poison Hemlock (Conium maculatum), which looks very similar. The stems of Queen Anne’s Lace are hairy, while Poison Hemlock has smooth, hollow stems with purple spots.

Garden party rose seeds FL2061 1Rose – Another surprisingly edible garden flower is the rose (Rosa spp.). Although its petals are intensely perfumed, their flavour is subtler and a bit fruity, with complex undertones that depend on the variety and soil conditions. The petals of all roses are edible, but you should remove the bitter white base of each petal. Be sure to use only rose flowers that have been organically grown from a reliable source, as nearly all nursery or cut flower roses will have been treated with pesticide.

Rosemary edible flowersRosemary – It takes nimble fingers to pull the strongly scented flowers of rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) from between the tightly packed leaves. The leaves contain more oil than the flowers, but both are similar in flavour. Use the flowers as you would the herb. Flowers are deep blue to pink, depending on the soil.

Safflower edible flowersSafflower – The dried yellow flowers (Carthamus tinctorius) are sometimes sold as Mexican saffron, and used like saffron as a food dye. Otherwise, fresh petals can be torn into salads, soups, and sauces. They have a very mild flavour of their own.

Sage makes the list of edible flowersSage – The deep blue flowers of sage (Salvia officinalis) add an interesting mild-sage flavour to salads or savory dishes. Pull individual flower tubes from the stems and use with discretion, as the taste is strong.

Scarlet runner bean edible flowersScarlet Runner Bean – The flowers of this vine (Phaseolus vulgaris) are vivid, intense red, and also delicious. They make excellent garnishes for soups and salads, providing a real visual high note.

Large Leaf Organic SorrelSorrel – Like the leaves of sorrel (Rumex acetosa), its flowers have a strongly lemony flavour, and can be scattered over salad or used in sauces. The flavour comes from oxalic acid, so should be avoided by those with kidney conditions or rheumatism.

Squash-BlossomSquash – Both male and female flowers of all squash and zucchini varieties are edible, and have a faint squashy flavour. It may be sensible to only use the male flowers, as they will not form fruits. They can be torn into salads or stuffed with savory items like herbs and goat cheese, and then fried in a light tempura batter. There are many squash blossom recipes online.

Edible sunflower flowersSunflower – It’s still a little known fact that unopened sunflower (Helianthus annuus) buds can be steamed or sautéed in butter and served whole. They have an artichoke-like flavour. Alternately, the petals can be pulled from the edge of the opened flower and added to soups and salads. Their flavour is somewhat bitter.

Violet – Many varieties (Viola spp.) are suitable for decorating food. They come in a range of sweet, perfumed flavours, and a wide range of colours. Some of the tiniest violet flowers make the best additions to cakes, drinks, and salads.

(You can get seeds for these plants at westcoastseeds.com, the source of this article, as well as elsewhere.)

Source: https://www.westcoastseeds.com/garden-resources/articles-instructions/list-edible-flowers/

*Dr. Joseph Mercola recently did an article about growing and eating nasturtiums that includes the following highlights:

  • Nasturtiums — colorful flowers that are fast and easy to grow — provide edible blooms known for their peppery tang
  • As their name suggests, you can be “nasty” to nasturtiums because they do well in lean soil and thrive even when somewhat neglected
  • Nasturtiums not only contain beneficial amounts of vitamin C, beta carotene, iron and manganese, but they also boast the highest lutein content of any edible plant
  • Some of the purported medicinal uses for nasturtiums include fighting bacterial and fungal infections, neutralizing free radicals, promoting hair growth, soothing colds and coughs and treating skin conditions

You can read the full article here.

 

Salud!

p.s. Be sure to subscribe to Self-help Health so you don’t miss any future posts, and tell your friends to do the same. Also check out my website’s To Your Health page and Evolution Made Easier blog for more helpful health tips, tools and information.

Disclaimer: Please note that any information here is provided as a guideline only, and is not meant to substitute for the advice of your physician, nutritionist, trained healthcare practitioner, and/or inner guidance system. Always consult a professional before undertaking any change to your normal health routine.

 

Dandelion: The “Weed” With Multiple Health Benefits

Two years ago around spring time I was taking a walk and noticing all the dandelions and wishing I knew more about their beneficial properties, and lo and behold when I got home there was actually an article in my in-box about them. Talk about synchronicity! That started me doing more research and putting this post together, although I never got around to actually finishing it. But with spring just around the corner again, this seems like the perfect time to finally get it done. 

Growing up I was taught that dandelions were weeds and part of my regular “chores” was to rid the front yard of them before the flowers got all “puff-bally” and turned to seed. After putting this post together, I am thankfully less clue-less 🙂 and amazed by the many uses dandelions have and consider us very fortunate to have them around. Often I’ll pick some leaves for a salad or the bright yellow flowers to add a little color to the room and them later use them in a tea. 

 

uses for dandelions

Dandelion – A Backyard Herb with Many Benefits

Did you know you’ve probably pulled, stomped or sprayed a natural superfood that grows in your backyard? Dandelion is mostly known as a backyard weed, but it has amazing nutrient qualities and health promoting properties.

All the parts of the plant can be used in various ways though the roots and leaves are the most commonly used as herbs. Who knew that this plant with puffy flowers that grant childhood wishes could offer so much benefit?

Dandelion Root and Leaves

Dandelion is a source of a variety of nutrients and the leaves and root contain Vitamins (like A, C, K and B-vitamins) as well as minerals (including magnesium, zinc, potassium, iron, calcium and choline). The various parts of the plant have a long history of use as an herbal remedy, and every documented population in areas where it grows naturally has used it medicinally.

It also serves as an abundant natural food source, as all parts of the plant can be eaten. The root is often roasted and used in teas or consumed whole. The leaves make a great addition to salads or other dishes requiring greens and the flowers (while still yellow), can be eaten raw, cooked or even made into wine!

Traditional cultures have used dandelion to support digestive and hormone health and it was often consumed to support lactation or to help remedy issues like urinary tract infections.

Dandelion - a backyard herb with many benefits

Benefits of Dandelion

According to the How To Herb Book, this backyard superfood is beneficial in many ways, including:

Liver Support and Detoxification

Dandelion has been used for years by various cultures to support healthy liver function and natural detoxification in the body. Though it hasn’t been well studied, many people with hepatitis turn to it to help support the liver. The University of Maryland Medical Center notes that:

In the past, roots and leaves were used to treat liver problems. Native Americans also boiled dandelion in water and took it to treat kidney disease, swelling, skin problems, heartburn, and upset stomach. In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), it has been used to treat stomach problems, appendicitis, and breast problems, such as inflammation or lack of milk flow. In Europe, dandelion was used in remedies for fever, boils, eye problems, diabetes, and diarrhea.

Personal Note: Was just reading an article about Nick Polizzi’s 3 favorite herbs and dandelion made the list. Here’s part of what he wrote:

Its common name is a corruption of the French “Dent de Lion” or “lions tooth” – a reference to its jagged, toothlike leaves.

My friend and wild food expert, Daniel Vitalis, says that the herbs that our body needs the most tend to grow within a mile of us, just another way that mother earth looks out for her children.

To put it simply, dandelions are your liver’s best friend. Yes, your liver, the second largest organ in your body, which among many other duties serves as your body’s filter. If you have been eating “naughtily” and feel as though you have gunkily guk (my own scientific term) built up inside of you, the first course of action is to a) change your diet and b) nurture your liver so that it can process the toxins you’ve ingested and safely remove them from your system.

The best liver cleanser I know of is freshly brewed dandelion root tea. And I’m not alone in this theory. Folk healers and doctors were prescribing this long before our time. Another delicious way to promote liver health is to add dandelion greens to salads or sauté them alongside your protein.

Source: http://www.thesacredscience.com/3-ancient-medicines-that-already-live-in-your-home/

Female Health and Hormone Balance

Due to its high levels of various nutrients and potential ability to help support the body’s natural detoxification systems, dandelion is often used by those with hormone imbalance, urinary infection and recurrent mastitis. Though not well studied, there is an abundance of anecdotal evidence from women who have used it to help remedy recurring UTIs or other infections.

Clearer Skin

Due to its natural magnesium and zinc content and its potential ability to support detoxification, dandelion is also know as being good for the skin. It can be used topically in applications like tinctures and poultices and many people also take it in capsule or tea form to help support healthy skin.

Good Source of Nutrients

Dandelion is a great source of many important vitamins and minerals, as well as antioxidants and nutritive salts, which may help support blood health and increase iron absorption. I personally often add dried leaves to teas for a nutrient boost or use dandelion root in place of coffee.

Blood Sugar Balance

The University of Maryland Medical Center also reports that:

Preliminary animal studies suggest that dandelion may help normalize blood sugar levels and lower total cholesterol and triglycerides while raising HDL (good) cholesterol in diabetic mice. Researchers need to see if dandelion will work in people. A few animal studies also suggest that dandelion might help fight inflammation.

Uses of Dandelion Root and Leaves

Perhaps we wouldn’t be so quick to remove this “backyard weed” if we were more familiar with the myriad of uses it has. The entire dandelion plant can be used and if you have a safe (non-sprayed) source in your yard or community, you can consider harvesting it yourself.

Here are some of the ways to use dandelion:

Coffee Substitute

Dandelion root is tougher and more hardy than the leaf and is often used in decoctions and tinctures for this reason. The powder is often added in coffee substitutes (my favorite is Dandy Blend). The root is considered a natural diuretic and is sometimes used for this purpose.

Poultices

Dandelion root and leaf are often listed as the ingredients of  teas and poultices for abscesses and sores, especially on the breast and in female health remedies as they can help support lactation and remedy urinary issues.

According to Mountain Rose Herbs:

Chopped dandelion root can be combined with myrrh to make a poultice for boils and abscesses, with honeysuckle flowers to make a tea to be drunk to treat boils and abscesses, with skullcap and/or chrysanthemum flowers to make a tea to be drunk to treat sore eyes, or with heal-all to treat hard phlegm in bronchitis. Can also be administered in capsule or extract form for convenience.

Dandelion Tea

The flower can be used to make tea and even to make some types of wine. The leaves and root can also be used in teas, though they have a stronger taste and are often combined with other synergistic herbs for flavor and increased nutrient absorption.

Salads and Greens

The leaves can be consumed fresh on a salad or in recipes as well as substituted for greens like kale and collards in recipes or cooking. The antioxidant rich leaves are the most diuretic part of the plant so while they can be consumed regularly, it is important to maintain hydration too.

Important Notes:

It is important to check with a doctor before taking this or any herb, especially in large amounts or if taking any other medicine or supplement or if pregnant or nursing. Though it is generally considered safe, those allergic to ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigold, chamomile, yarrow, daisies, or iodine may not be able to consume it.

Anyone who gathers dandelion from wild sources (like the backyard) should make sure that the area has not been sprayed with pesticides or herbicides and that it does not come from an area where pets may have eliminated.

Source: http://wellnessmama.com/5680/dandelion-herb-profile/

 

 

And here’s more about how this powerhouse “weed” fights cancer……

 

A so-called “weed” growing right in your front and back yards could hold the key to being the most effective cancer-fighting compound in the world.

Previous research, as well as recent research from the University of Windsor in Canada, has found that dandelion root may be especially effective in treating and defeating cancer, and much more so than immune system-destroying chemotherapy.

As noted by the university in a press release, researchers are so sure that they have finally developed the correct dosage of the extract, that they are preparing clinical trials using a specially formulated dandelion tea.

Research director and biochemist Dr. Siyaram Pandey, Ph.D., of the University of Windsor, along with his fellow researchers, have shown successfully in the lab how the dandelion root extract causes cancer cells to go through apoptosis, or cell suicide, while leaving healthy cells intact.

“This is fantastic news,” Pandey said. “We’ve been waiting for this announcement for a long time and now it is real.”

The February 2015 announcement has special meaning for a project that was dedicated to the memory of Kevin Couvillon, who lost a three-year battle with acute myeloid leukemia in November 2010, the university said.

Destroying cancer cells within two days

The following year, his parents, Dave and Donna Couvillon, made a large contribution to Dr. Pandey’s research on natural extracts and potential cancer treatments.

“We strongly feel that Kevin would want us to continue to fight against cancer so that others would be spared such a cruel fate,” said Donna Couvillon. “Natural medicine allows one’s own immune system to be part of healing process and we wholeheartedly support this endeavour and the excellent research done by this team.”

The university press release stated further:

The dandelion root formula in use in the Pandey lab is about five times more concentrated than the extract that can be purchased over the counter and has been proven to kill leukemia, melanoma and pancreatic cancer cells in lab mice.

Caroline Hamm, an oncologist at the Windsor Regional Cancer Center, made an application to Health Canada in 2012 to proceed to human clinical trials

“This is huge, such a big. accomplishment,” says Dave Couvillon. “To see it happening is the first step and now we need to keep our fingers crossed that they get the right kind of results and we’re confident they will.”

The website Healthy Solutions reported last month that the trials found that cancer cells were destroyed within 48 hours.

From the University of Windsor’s Dandelion Root Project website:

Since the commencement of this project, we have been able to successfully assess the effect of a simple water extract of dandelion root in various human cancer cell types, in the lab and we have observed its effectiveness against human T cell leukemia, chronic myelomonocytic leukemia, pancreatic and colon cancers, with no toxicity to non-cancer cells. Furthermore, these efficacy studies have been confirmed in animal models (mice) that have been transplanted with human colon cancer cells.

Additional health benefits

Clinical trials were opened to 30 patients, all of whom had already exhausted all other cancer treatment options.

As we have reported, dandelions have other health benefits as well:

The dandelion greens contain extremely important vitamins and minerals such as vitamin B6, thiamine, riboflavin, vitamin C, iron, calcium, potassium, folate, magnesium and manganese. They may contribute up to 535% of the suggested daily intake of vitamin K, not to mention over 110% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin A. It is believed that some of its flavonoids such as zeaxanthin and cryptoxanthin have specific healing properties. Zeaxanthin seems to provide protection for the retina when confronted by the sun’s UV rays, while cryptoxanthin can potentially defend the body against the development of mouth and lung cancer cells.

Source: http://complete-health-and-happiness.com/clinical-trials-to-begin-dandelion-root-far-more-effective-in-fighting-cancer-cells-than-chemotherapy/l

For more on dandelion’s cancer-killing properties go here.

A short excerpt from a newsletter by Underground Health Reporter about using dandelion instead of prescription drugs for indigestion and blood cancer:

 Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) like Nexium, Prilosec, and Prevacid do the exact opposite of what you want them to do.  They reduce stomach acid!  Long-term use of PPIs may result in mineral and nutrient depletion and cause serious illnesses, including…

  • Pneumonia
  • Bone loss
  • Hip fractures
  • Infection with Clostridium difficile, a harmful intestinal bacteria

If you or someone you love frequently suffers from heartburn or indigestion, turn away from PPIs and look to bitter herbs instead.  Bitters such as dandelion and chicory stimulate the production of stomach acid and other digestive juices.

Dandelion For Digestion

The bitter flavor of dandelion amps up saliva production, which helps neutralize stomach acid.  Dandelion is also anti-inflammatory, meaning it can further soothe heartburn.  Herbalists also recommend dandelion as a treatment for arthritis, gout, diabetes, cancer, and liver issues.

You can eat the greens raw in a salad, cook the greens and/or the root, blend them in your green smoothie… you can even make a coffee substitute.  When using as a tincture, take 10-20 drops of dandelion extract at the start of a meal.

The common garden weed Taraxacum officinale is public enemy #1 to homeowners who want a nice lawn …

But instead of spraying these bright yellow flowers with herbicides when they first pop up in spring, you may be better served by pulling them out by the root and eating them.

While most folks spray or pull these yard invaders, a select, savvy few eat dandelion leaves in salads and stir fries, fry the flowers and eat them as snacks, and even enjoy dandelion wine and tea.

In fact, the reason we even have these flowers in American lawns is because Europeans brought them over to use their leaves as salad greens!

They’re also rich in antioxidants, which reduce inflammation and pacify raging free radicals for better overall health.

In modern medicine, dandelion flowers and leaves have been shown to protect skin from damage caused by the sun’s UVB radiation.

These leaf and flower extracts also stimulate glutathione, an important antioxidant used in cell generation.

Dandelion root is most commonly taken as a tea, which you can make yourself by drying and food-processing the root.

New Research on Dandelions and blood cancer underway…..

Most recently, the University of Windsor received approval to continue in a game-changing Phase One human trial … one that could change how mainstream medicine views alternative and complementary cancer treatments forever.

Very soon, 30 people with end-stage blood cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma, who have had no success with conventional treatments, will help the world discover whether a super-potent dandelion tea has the power to save lives.

The dandelion root tea is formulated by Calgary-based natural health products company AOR Inc.

AOR spent about 18 months creating this potent therapeutic tea. The end product is a milled, extracted and freeze-dried dandelion root the color of mustard.

It is six to ten times more powerful than what’s available at a health food or drug store – or in your backyard. The AOR creation is not intended to be used as a supplement or like ordinary tea, but is being tested specifically for its ability to induce apoptosis in cancer cells.4

Health Canada approved the partnership between the University of Windsor and AOR in 2013, and trials are beginning in the next few months, according to our information.

The goal of Phase One trials, being the first of four, are to test the treatment in a small group for the first time to evaluate its safety, determine a safe dosage range and to identify any and all side effects.

It will most likely be another year to 18 months before the results are in.

If it works, the researchers will move onto Phase Two trials.

Even though it’ll be a while before a dandelion root-based cancer treatment is available in the marketplace, it’s very exciting that these natural remedies are being taken seriously as medical treatments.

And you don’t have to wait to start enjoying your own gourmet dandelion creations … and take advantage of their health-boosting properties.

If you or someone you know is undergoing cancer treatments, it could be worth trying dandelion tea to relieve symptoms of nausea and to aid in eliminating toxins and waste from your body.

If you’re interested in trying it, do check with your doctor (hopefully one who supports natural treatments). Dandelion root is powerful and you want to avoid any unexpected interactions or side effects.

It’s so easy to make your own tea: just clean the roots and dry them out for a few days. You can process them in a blender and put them into empty teabags, or just steep the roots in water.

You can also purchase high quality dandelion root tea from your favorite health store or retailer. Some farmer’s markets sell dandelions as well.

Source: Cancer Defeated newsletter by Lee Euler, Editor

If you’re interested in making your own dandelion tea, here is a great recipe from Natural News Blogs, and here’s some good information about when and how to harvest dandelions that also includes a recipe for making a soup with them. 

p. s. A friend just told me that dandelion is not only good for your body, it is good for the earth as well. The root system drills through compacted soil, opening channels for rain, aeration, and earthworms; the deep roots bring calcium. I also meant to mention that bees like dandelions and they are an important food source for them, especially at certain times of the year. So having dandelions around is definitely a win-win-win situation!

Ever used dandelion? Please share about your experience in the comment section.

 

Salud!

p.s. Be sure to subscribe to Self-help Health so you don’t miss any future posts. Also check out my website’s To Your Health page and Evolution Made Easier blog for more helpful health tips, tools and information.

Disclaimer: Please note that any information here is provided as a guideline only, and is not meant to substitute for the advice of your physician, nutritionist, trained healthcare practitioner, and/or inner guidance system. Always consult a professional before undertaking any change to your normal health routine.

 

9 Yoga Poses + 10 Minutes = Better Sleep

 

As someone who is always in the market for natural ways to improve my quality of sleep. I have recently found several things that help, including tart cherry juice, and magnesium oil (more on these in future posts). And this looks like something worth checking out. I’m not adept at yoga or a super regular practitioner, but I always feel better and more relaxed whenever I fit some into my day, so I’m looking forward to giving this particular sequence of poses a try.

 

The 10-Minute Yoga Routine For Perfect Sleep

by DEANNA DORMAN

Do you ever have a hard time falling asleep? In today’s society, you’re probably not alone. With the constant feeling of “go, go, go,” it makes us anxious even as we are preparing for bed. It can be very challenging to fall asleep and get a restful night’s sleep with a constant feeling of anxiety and stress. Yoga can be a great way to de-stress and unwind as you get ready to hit the hay.

These yoga poses are all meant to help you clear your mind and feel relaxed. These poses can also stretch areas that may have tightened up through the day. Add this ten-minute sequence to your nightly routine to help you calm down and fall into a deep slumber.


Cat & Cow Pose

Start on all fours, with your hands under your shoulders and knees under hips. Inhale as your lengthen through your spine, arching your back, reaching the crown of your head and tailbone together, and drawing your shoulder blades down into a Cow pose.

Exhale as you bring your spine back to neutral and round your spine up towards the ceiling to curl your chin to your chest and pulling your belly button into your spine, coming into Cat pose. Work through Cat and Cow pose a few times, stretching and lengthening the spine.


Child’s Pose

Once you finish working through Cat and Cow pose a few times, sit your hips back onto your heels, bringing your toes together, but keeping your knees apart. Keep the arms reaching forward to stretch through the shoulders. Take a few breaths in this position, and if you’d like, walk both hands over to the right for a few breaths, and then over to the left for a few breaths to stretch out the obliques.


Seated Forward Fold

Start by sitting on your mat with your legs extended straight in front of you. Lengthen through your spine, sitting as tall as you can. Reach your arms in front of you to grab a hold of your feet or to place them in your shins.

Lengthen through your spine as much as possible — instead of just collapsing down towards your legs. Bend your knees as much as necessary to keep your back flat. This pose is a great hamstring stretch, but don’t make it deep and intense now; your ultimate goal is gentle relaxation.

Stay in the same seated position with your legs extended in front of you, and allow your back to stretch gently over your legs. Stay folded forward for a few deep breaths, feeling the stretch along your spine.


Wide Leg Forward Fold

Stand with your feet three to four feet apart, bringing your feet parallel to each other. Clasp your hands arms behind your back, pressing the heels of your palms together in a fist. Bend from your hips, folding forward, reaching the crown of your head and your hands toward the floor.

Relax your toes, and try to shift the weight into your toes. Stay here for a minute or two, allowing the crown of your head to keep reaching deeper to the floor.


Supine Bound Angle Pose

Start by laying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the mat. Open your arms out to the side at about 45 degrees away from the body. Let your knees drop out to the sides, bringing the bottoms of your feet together. Allow gravity to pull your knees wider, opening up the hips. Stay here for at least two minutes, breathing deeply, and sinking deeper into the pose.


Supine Spinal Twist

Laying on your back with your legs extended straight, pull your RIGHT knee in towards your chest. Hold the knee with your LEFT hand and guide it to cross over your body. Extend your RIGHT arm out to the side as if in a “T” position, and gaze out over your right hand. Hold for a minute or two, allowing the twist of your spine to increase with each exhale. Be sure to stretch the other side, as well.


Single Leg Happy Baby

Again, start by laying on your back with your legs extended, and pull the RIGHT knee back into your chest. Hugging the knee in towards the chest, grab a hold of the arch of your foot with your RIGHT hand. Bring the sole of the foot about parallel to the floor and pull the knee in close towards your armpit.

As you press into the sole of the foot with your hand, also press against the hand with your foot to increase the stretch. Keep the LEFT leg as straight as possible and you may also feel a stretch in the front of the left hip. Hold for 30-60 seconds taking deep breaths. Repeat on the other side.


Legs Up the Wall Pose

Sit next to a wall and lay on your side, keeping your hips as close to the wall as possible. As you turn to lay on your back, extend your top leg straight and slide it up the wall reaching towards the ceiling.

Follow with the other leg, bringing both legs up onto the wall, keeping the feet glued together. Bring the arms out into a “T” position and allow your hips to sink into your mat. This pose is great to get the blood flowing from your legs and feet back to your heart. It helps with circulation, and calms the body. Stay here for 2-5 minutes breathing deeply. To come out of this position, bend your knees in towards your chest and roll to one side.


Shavasana

Before falling asleep, take advantage of a peaceful moment for a brief meditation. Lay on your back with legs extended, slightly wider than hip distance apart, and your arms out at about 45 degrees. Breathe deeply and allow yourself to feel how relaxed you are after taking a few minutes to stretch and unwind after a long day. If you fall asleep in this pose, that’s alright, too!

Sweet dreams!

Author: Deanna Dorman, an ACE® certified personal trainer, Balanced Body® Pilates instructor, and NASM® Fitness Nutrition Specialist.

Source: http://blog.paleohacks.com/yoga-for-sleep

And be sure to check out the Self-help Health archive for more posts on yoga for weight loss, unkinking, a free yoga poses chart and more.

 

Salud!

p.s. Be sure to subscribe to Self-help Health so you don’t miss any future posts, and tell your friends to do the same. Also check out my website’s To Your Health page and Evolution Made Easier blog for more helpful health tips, tools and information.

Disclaimer: Please note that any information here is provided as a guideline only, and is not meant to substitute for the advice of your physician, nutritionist, trained healthcare practitioner, and/or inner guidance system. Always consult a professional before undertaking any change to your normal health routine.

A Simple Kick-ass Remedy For The Flu?!

 

Here’s a simple remedy to help with the flu from Dr. Kaayla T. Daniel. Wish I’d known about it a couple of months ago. At the time I used large amounts of vitamin C and a number of other natural remedies that helped, but it would have been interesting to give this protocol a try. I already have bone broth and use food grade diatomaceous earth on a regular basis, and have supplements that have grapefruit seed extract as part of the formula, but don’t have it by itself, so I plan to add that to my “first aid” health kit.

 

 

A Kick Ass Flu Remedy

There’s a major  flu epidemic out there. Even people who don’t ordinarily get sick have found themselves seriously ill this winter with incapacitating headaches, fevers, nausea, stomach pain, diarrhea and/or vomiting. It’s been so bad that people who say they would never see doctors, have been scared enough to head to hospital emergency rooms.

If that’s been you, this blog may give you the information you need to avoid a repeat episode. And if the flu hasn’t caught up with you yet, the suggestions in this blog can help you kick it back during the early stages.

This three-step protocol comes from my friend and colleague, Galen D. Knight, PhD, an independent researcher who has investigated the roles of vitalethine in immunological, infectious, autoimmune, and endocrine diseases. His flu protocol is simple, inexpensive and has worked for me and dozens of my clients and friends.

1. GRAPEFRUIT SEED EXTRACT

Start with a quality grapefruit seed extract.  My favorite brand is Wisdom of the Ages Advantage Liquid Concentrate.  You need less than a dropper full, which needs to be diluted about one to three with water. For an adult, this usually means about 15 drops in about a quarter cup of water.  Full-strength grapefruit seed extract will burn so keep it away from your eyes, ears and any mucous membranes.

The grapefruit seed extract alone may be sufficient, but you can also add St. John’s Wort, Elderberry syrup or other herbal and nutritional antivirals. Dr. Knight finds the ethanol forms to be the most effective and reports they can be added full strength without problems.

2. DIATOMACEOUS EARTH

Once you have successfully kept the grapefruit seed extract and the optional antiviral herbs down for half an hour, follow with a slurry of diatomaceous earth in water.  The dose is one tablespoon of food grade diatomaceous earth for every 100 pounds of body weight.  This product must be labeled “food grade” and suitable for human and pet use.  My favorite brand is Perma Guard Fossil Flour.  Another option is Wisdom of the Ages Toxiclenz, a product I’ve often recommended as part of detoxification programs.  It contains a mix of diatomaceous earth and inositol.

3. REST AND RECUPERATE

Allow your body to fully recover even if you start feeling better quickly.  Eat minimally but include lots of bone broth.  My absolute favorite ready-made broth is Lance Roll’s Flavor Chef.  No one does broth better than Lance.  And take care to get enough sleep, reduce stress and include fun in your life from now on!

WHAT TO EXPECT 

Many people find that symptoms such as dry heaves, vomiting and stomach upset are gone within an hour, provided this protocol is begun right away at the first onset of flu symptoms.

The antiviral herbs will help stop a sore throat.

The diatomaceous earth helps to absorb the often toxic die-offs created as the body fights the infection.

If the flu has already gone systemic in your body, it may take 24 to 48 hours to start seeing signs of recovery.  Don’t despair, as this is far better than being knocked out of circulation for a week or two.

Dr. Knight says his protocol has sometimes worked so quickly that people have set out for the doctor’s office only to recover en route, turn around and go home. “One can still go to the doctor if really concerned,” he says, “ but if started right away at the first signs of illness this often works so fast that you will be over it before you can make an appointment or go to urgent care and wait to see someone for help. Realize also, that when flu is epidemic, it is not a good time to sit in a waiting room full of hacking and coughing people.”

BE PREPARED 

Keep these natural remedies on hand as part of your natural first aid kit.  As Dr. Knight puts it, “It is very important to getting a jump on beating this before the flu pummels you and your family.”

Let me know how this works for you in the comments below.  And share your favorite tips too!

Source: http://drkaayladaniel.com/a-kick-ass-flu-remedy/?inf_contact_key=c2bb5d4d8eb06eb41ab370e52110c2c5b9e45d5d1599365fa1fd4693db91ad1e

And check out the power of quercetin for preventing and treating the flu, colds and other viral infections:

https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2018/02/26/quercetin-for-flu.aspx?

Related Self-help Health posts: Diatomaceous Earth: Great Multi-purpose Health Aid

Don’t Under-estimate The Power of Vitamin C

FYI, you can get vitamin C, quercetin, grapefruit seed extract, elderberry syrup, St John’s wort and other natural remedies at iHerb.com (use code CJG192 if you are a new customer and spend more than $40 and you will get money off your purchase). Plus, you can take advantage of their wonderful Trial Offer and Specials sections; there’s no sales tax, shipping is free on orders of $20 or more, and you get an extra 5% off on orders over $60.  

Vitacost.com is another one of my favorite on-line places to shop. Great discount prices, ever-expanding inventory, free shipping on $49 and up, and if you are a new customer and use the link on my website you will get a $10 off coupon with your first order of $25 or more. Woo-hoo! 

 

Salud!

p.s. Be sure to subscribe to Self-help Health so you don’t miss any future posts, and tell your friends to do the same. Also check out my website’s To Your Health page and Evolution Made Easier blog for more helpful health tips, tools and information.

Disclaimer: Please note that any information here is provided as a guideline only, and is not meant to substitute for the advice of your physician, nutritionist, trained healthcare practitioner, and/or inner guidance system. Always consult a professional before undertaking any change to your normal health routine.

Wondering About Which Flour To Use? Here’s A Great Resource!

 

This is one of the best sources I’ve found for having information about all the various flours available these days for those looking to get away from wheat. It does a good job of giving you an idea of how they affect your cooking/baking results, and the pluses and minuses of each option, so you can decide which ones will be best for your particular need. 

BTW, I think I have either cooked with our tasted products made with all the flours listed (including snack bars made with cricket flour :-))  except green banana flour. It’s great that we have so many more choices available these days!

 

Coconut Flour vs Almond Flour vs Hemp Flour vs Green Banana Flour vs Buckwheat Flour (and more)

 

Wheat Flour is Probably the Worst Flour for Health.  So What about Coconut Flour, Almond Flour, Hemp Flour, Cassava Flour, Buckwheat, Green Banana Flour, or Cricket Flour? Let’s Look at Alternative Gluten Free, Grain Free Flours for Comparison…

When I first began eating gluten free, there wasn’t much of a choice for alternative flours, except rice flour. I actually got used to using it, and was successful using it instead of wheat flour for most recipes. However, rice is a grain and a highly refined one at that, so I’ve begun to experiment with other non-grain, low-glycemic flours. All of them have differing nutrient qualities and different textures, so what works for one recipe, may not work for another. In addition, many flours, even if they are non-grain, can still be highly refined starch and therefore high glycemic. Not good! New types of flours are showing up everyday, so it’s hard to keep up, but here is a rundown of some of the top-selling Paleo, non-grain/gluten free flours.

Coconut Flour

Coconut has been one of the popular, Paleo-style, low-glycemic substitutes for regular flour. And it is gluten free and grain free, and tends to be low-allergenic .It is high in fiber, and healthy fats, low carb, and generally low on the allergen list as well. Even though it is a flour, it still contains a decent amount of healthy saturated fats, that are easily and quickly metabolized for energy. Coconut flour is also considered low glycemic and because of its high fiber content, it is helpful in maintaining stable blood sugar. A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition show that consuming products with coconut flour will help lower the glycemic impact of the food. However, if you are using it in cookies or other sweetened products, keep in mind, the other sugars will still affect blood sugar levels.

Downside of Coconut Flour – Coconut’s high fiber content can be either good or bad. Coconut flour has a lot of fiber, and much of that fiber comes in the form of inulin. Unfortunately, inulin is considered a FODMAP, which is a type of fiber that can set off digestive symptoms in certain types of people who are sensitive to it. The high fiber, combined with the heavier texture, means very filling, heavy baked goods. Coconut flour tends to ‘suck’ up a lot of the liquids in a recipe, so it generally works better if you make adjustments for the extra liquids, otherwise you may end up with a very dry crumbly texture. Coconut flour can be a bit expensive, but is less than some of the other alternative flours out there. Some people who are allergic to nuts, may also be allergic to coconut as well.  Because of the nature of coconut flour to suck up moisture, it’s generally best blended with a fattier flour like almond flour, and that blend usually creates more moist baked goods rather than coconut flour alone.

Almond Flour

Almond flour is great for those who want to be gluten and grain free, and also follow a low-carb diet. Almonds, like other nuts, are full of great nutrients like L-arginine, magnesium, potassium, calcium, copper, and manganese, as well as mononunsaturated fats.

Almond meal or almond flour makes a great Paleo flour that is non-grain based. Almonds are healthy fats, nutrients, and fiber. Although almond flour is heavier, it doesn’t tend to soak up liquids like coconut flour and works well for cookies and other baked goods. Almond flour is low carb, even lower carb than coconut flour, so it’s perfect for a low carb or Paleo or ketogenic diet and is also great for diabetics to keep blood sugar stable. It also has a delicious crunchy texture and works well for coating things like chicken or fish.

Downside of Almond Flour – Almonds contain phytic acid which can be a gut irritant if you consume too much almond flour too often. Almond flour is also high in Omega 6 fats, which can be inflammatory (in excess), especially if you eat a lot of almonds and almond flour—and don’t balance it out with a sufficient amount of healthy Omega 3 fats. Almond flour definitely does NOT work if you have a nut allergy. And if you have a tendency to be sensitive to oxalates in food, almonds should be minimized.

Note on almond flour:  Since this flour is more fat-based, it tends to mix well for baking with drier flours like coconut flour or a few of the starchy flours like rice, cassava, or green banana.

Hemp Flour

Hemp flour and hemp seeds are not the same as marijuana, so no need to worry about getting high. This flour is made from hemp seeds, so is gluten free, grain free and low glycemic, but high in nutrition. Hemp contains all the amino acids and is a great protein source, along with healthy fats. Hemp seeds contain a large amount of Omega 3 fats, although a good part of the oil is removed to make it into flour. Hemp is also rich in vitamins and minerals including vitamin E, magnesium, calcium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, niacin, riboflavin, thiamin. Hemp flour makes great bread and baked goods. Hemp has no gluten and works well if you have any kind of nut allergy. Hemp flour is also full of fiber. Hemp has a delicious, nutty taste, even though it’s safe for those with nut allergies.

Downside of Hemp Flour – Hemp flour is generally greenish-brownish, so if you are making cookies or a cake, keep that mind—it may taste good, but the color may not look very appetizing. Hemp does not rise on its own, so it should be mixed with other flours, or used as a flatbread, pancakes, crackers, or for breading. Hemp flour is not cheap and sometimes harder to find.

Cassava Flour

I used to think Cassava flour and tapioca flour were the same things, but that is not actually true. While both come from the cassava root, which is also known as yucca or manioc, tapioca starch is actually a highly refined and processed powder extracted from cassava root that goes through a process of washing and pulping. The pulp is then squeezed to extract a starchy liquid, which is then dried and bleached, and the remaining powder is tapioca.

Cassava flour, on the other hand, comes from the whole root, simply peeled, dried and ground. This means it has more dietary fiber, and overall is a less refined, whole food flour. Cassava is full of vitamin C, great for healthy skin, the immune system and an anti-inflammatory.

Cassava flour is starting to become more and more popular as a great gluten-free, grain free flour, with a great versatile consistency similar to regular flour, which makes it a great substitute for regular wheat flour, unlike almond, coconut or hemp flours. It also has a very mild taste and texture, making it work on a 1:1 basis as a perfect substitute for wheat flour.

Downside of Cassava Flour – Unfortunately cassava flour is not low glycemic or low carbohydrate, although it is grain free. Cassava has a very high carbohydrate profile—in fact, it’s double the calories and carbohydrates as a sweet potato, meaning it could easily create insulin spikes and high blood sugar. Because of the higher carb content of this flour, it’s generally best used blended with a high fiber flour like coconut flour and/or a high fat flour like almond flour.

Buckwheat Flour

Buckwheat actually contains neither wheat nor gluten, and is not a grain. Buckwheat is actually a seed that provides so many nutritional and antioxidant benefits that it is often considered a superfood. Buckwheat contains a wealth of B vitamins, manganese, magnesium, zinc, iron, folate, and bioflanonoids such as rutin and quercetin which are known anti-inflammatory agents that help allergies, strengthen blood vessels and prevent blood clots. Buckwheat is a great source of protein, containing 12 amino acids. Buckwheat has more protein than rice, wheat, millet or corn.

Buckwheat has the added attraction of being low glycemic, keeping you full for longer and helping keep blood sugar levels low. This also makes it an ideal ‘fat-burning’ food. Studies found that when diabetic patients consumed buckwheat over a two-month period, they experienced a lowering in blood sugar and reduced insulin resistance without any form of medication. Buckwheat works well for baking breads, muffins, crepes, pancakes and other foods.

Downside of Buckwheat – It’s tough to find a downside to this superfood. It is relatively inexpensive, medium-carb, grain-free, gluten-free, low glycemic, full of protein and fiber and other super nutrients. It may be a bit heavy to use on its own for breads, but it’s not bad. The only downside is that it is a deep brown, making your baked goods dark-colored.

Green Banana Flour

One of the newer grain free, gluten free Paleo flour options, green banana flour is similar to cassava flour in how it’s used. This flour comes from dried, pulverized green banana slices and is common in many of the warmer, tropical regions of the world, like Central and South America It’s not very common yet, but it may become one of the more common flour substitutes in the future. Don’t be confused—this is not made from the sweet yellow bananas that are eaten as a fruit, this flour is made from green bananas, and is not sweet—nor does it taste like bananas. The flour has a delicious rich, nutty taste—nothing like bananas. It is a bit heavier though, so use less than you would regular flour. Plantains are rich in iron, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and vitamins A, B, and C.

While green bananas are a starchy food, the starch they contain is resistant starch, which helps to maintain blood sugar levels without an insulin spike, making them good for people who are trying to lose weight or fight diabetes. Resistant starch is not absorbed by the body, so it mostly just passes through your system. This is what makes banana flour lower glycemic, and not as fattening as other flours, as the body cannot absorb all the calories in this flour. Resistant starch is also an excellent prebiotic, which helps to feed and maintain a healthy microbiome, improving your mood, as well as your immune and digestive system.

Downside of Green Banana Flour – Can’t really find a downside of this flour either, it’s an awesome, low glycemic, non grain, gluten free substitute for wheat flour. The only thing is this flour is not white, its brownish green, and is heavier and denser than regular flour, so it may make your baked goods less pretty to the uneducated general public. It is also relatively difficult to find as of yet, and somewhat pricey also.

Cricket Flour

I had to add this one in! Yes, it’s real crickets it’s made from! While cricket flour is actually made from dried and roasted crickets, it is an amazing gluten free, non grain, high protein flour. It has three times the protein of a steak and twice as much as a piece of chicken! It’s also full of vitamins B2 and B12, iron and calcim. Still feeling squeamish? It doesn’t taste a bit like bugs, you cannot find eyeballs or wings or anything else gross in it. It has a nutty, mild taste and is ultimately much more sustainable than many other plant-based crops used for flour.

Downside of Cricket Flour — Well, you the know, the obvious, it’s from—crickets. But other than that, it’s a bit expensive, and it’s not something you see at the grocery store—yet.  But cricket flour is becoming more common, and I think it’s going to be big in the future.

My recommendations:

I’ve been gluten-free and mostly grain-free for the last 10 or more years, so I’ve had lots of chances to experiment with some of these flours. Almond flour or hemp flour is great for a heavier, healthier, more filling flour. They make great cookies. I love buckwheat for pancakes, muffins, waffles, etc. Cassava is a great alternative if you want a ‘pretty’ fluffier looking flour that bakes well and is a good substitute for regular flour, and is widely accepted, but it is high carb/high glycemic.

Other flours worth mentioning include garbanzo flour, oat flour, ground flax, rice flour, sorghum flour, amaranth, and teff flours. My best suggestion is to try a few in different recipes, combine some of them, experiment and enjoy!

Mike’s Note (from NutritionWatchDog.com):My personal experience is that it’s almost ALWAYS best to combine some of the alternative flours for the best texture.  For example, we make various muffin recipes using a mixture of equal parts coconut flour, almond flour, and green banana flour (or rice flour)… this works well because the higher fat content of the almond flour mixes well with the drier coconut flour, and then adding 1/3 of a starchy flour like green banana or rice flour finishes the blend perfectly, while still maintaining a much lower carb count and lower blood sugar impact.  Blending 2 or 3 of these alternative flours usually ends up having the best taste too, whether it’s muffins, pancakes, waffles, etc.

Source: http://thenutritionwatchdog.com/forget-about-grains-try-these-grain-free-flours-that-spike-fat-loss-and-improve-your-health

And here’s some additional options listed in an article by Scott O’Reilly on paleo flours:

  • Arrowroot flour. The name is derived from the fact that Central American Indians used this plant-based starch to heal poison arrow wounds. They also used it to aid digestion and boost vitality. Today, there’s evidence that arrowroot flour can boost immunity and improve digestion. You can use this flour as a thickener and as an alternative to cornstarch.
  • Tapioca starch. This is an inexpensive flour that can be used to make gravy, cupcakes, muffins and pancakes.
  • Tigernut flour. The name is something of a misnomer because this flour is derived from a plant root (not a nut) found in North Africa and the Mediterranean. It reportedly helps nurture your good bacteria.
  • Sweet potato flour is loaded with nutrients like vitamins A and K. It holds moisture well and is ideal if you’d like sweet-tasting waffles or cupcakes.

In general, each of the paleo flours tends to have their strengths and weaknesses. In most instances, you won’t be able to substitute them at a 1:1 ratio for white flour. However, combining paleo flours (which entails some trial and error) can help you achieve your desired culinary and wellness goals.

 

Related Self-help Health post: Cooking With Coconut Flour

 

Salud!

p.s. Be sure to subscribe to Self-help Health so you don’t miss any future posts, and tell your friends to do the same. Also check out my website’s To Your Health page and Evolution Made Easier blog for more helpful health tips, tools and information.

Disclaimer: Please note that any information here is provided as a guideline only, and is not meant to substitute for the advice of your physician, nutritionist, trained healthcare practitioner, and/or inner guidance system. Always consult a professional before undertaking any change to your normal health routine.

 

Still Eating Margarine? Please Read This!

 

A number of years ago I became aware of the fact that margarine was actually not good for us, but was still shocked by some of the details mentioned in this post by Jeff Passofaro. I grew up in the era when margarine first came on the scene and gained wide popularity as a cheaper, healthier alternative to butter. At one point I even preferred using it on toast and other things….probably because my taste buds were manipulated by the artificial flavorings and other ingredients that can have an addictive-like effect on the body.

But I’ve been back on the butter band wagon for years now, especially if it’s grass-fed, and if you aren’t already on board, too, then this post might do the trick. Who needs horror movies when there’s so much scary stuff in our food and water supply these days?!

 

 

This is interesting . .. .

Margarine was originally manufactured to fatten turkeys. When it killed the turkeys, the people who had put all the money into the research wanted a payback so they put their heads together to figure out what to do with this product to get their money back.

It was a white substance with no food appeal so they added the yellow coloring and sold it to people to use in place of butter. How do you like it? They have come out with some clever new flavorings….

DO YOU KNOW.. The difference between margarine and butter?

Read on to the end…gets very interesting!

Both have the same amount of calories.

Butter is slightly higher in saturated fats at 8 grams; compared to 5 grams for margarine.

Eating margarine can increase heart disease in women by 53% over eating the same amount of butter, according to a recent Harvard Medical Study.

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Eating butter increases the absorption of many other nutrients in other foods.

Butter has many nutritional benefits where margarine has a few and only because they are added!

Butter tastes much better than margarine and it can enhance the flavors of other foods.

Butter has been around for centuries where margarine has been around for less than 100 years .

And now, for Margarine..

Very High in Trans fatty acids.

Triples risk of coronary heart disease …

Increases total cholesterol and LDL (this is the bad cholesterol) and lowers HDL cholesterol, (the good cholesterol)

Increases the risk of cancers up to five times..

Lowers quality of breast milk

Decreases immune response.

Decreases insulin response.

And here’s the most disturbing fact… HERE IS THE PART THAT IS VERY INTERESTING!

Margarine is but ONE MOLECULE away from being PLASTIC… and shares 27 ingredients with PAINT.

These facts alone were enough to have me avoiding margarine for life and anything else that is hydrogenated (this means hydrogen is added, changing the molecular structure of the substance).

Open a tub of margarine and leave it open in your garage or shaded area. Within a couple of days you will notice a couple of things:

* no flies, not even those pesky fruit flies will go near it (that should tell you something)

* it does not rot or smell differently because it has no nutritional value ; nothing will grow on it. Even those teeny weeny microorganisms will not a find a home to grow.

Why? Because it is nearly plastic . Would you melt your Tupperware and spread that on your toast? Of course not, so share this with your friends…..(If you want to butter them up :-))!

Pass the BUTTER PLEASE!

Related Self-help Health post: Healthy Fats, Plus Butter vs Margarine

And check out my What’s New page for details about the upcoming free Holistic Oral Health Summit. Oral health is the most overlooked health issue in conventional and integrative medicine, even though 80% of disease symptoms are caused by problems in the mouth. Plus, millions are exposed to disease-promoting dental procedures every day. So Jonathan Landsman has gathered 33 of the world’s top experts to show you the best ways to improve oral health, prevent and reverse disease symptoms, and save thousands of dollars in unwanted medical expenses. A wide variety of topics will be covered, including oil pulling, harmful toxins like mercury, problems with root canals, cavitations and implants, proper heavy metal detoxification and much more.

 

Salud!

p.s. Be sure to subscribe to Self-help Health so you don’t miss any future posts, and tell your friends to do the same. Also check out my website’s To Your Health page and Evolution Made Easier blog for more helpful health tips, tools and information.