What Is Comfrey?

Comfrey is likely not one of the plants that you are inherently familiar with – even if you are pretty well versed in holistic living and alternative treatments. This plant has a very broad spectrum of offerings which makes it something that should be closely studied and implemented as a method of treatment when certain health issues arise – whether those issues be intrinsic and internal or cosmetic and external. This powerful plant, otherwise known as Symphytum, is a herbal medicine that deserves more acclaim. Here’s why.

Heals Wounds

Whether you are accident prone or not, you know that sometimes unforeseen cuts, scrapes, or bruises can happen to anyone. While there isn’t anything wrong with scars, it’s obviously preferable to heal any wound as quickly and seamlessly as possible. Comfrey provides you with that assistance. The plant is extremely high in antioxidants and vitamin C, which helps to speed up the wound-healing process. This is great because the longer a wound takes to heal, the more apt it may be to infections or complications. Properly cleaning and dressing a wound immediately is of paramount importance. Add some comfrey oil to your next wound and you’ll notice a huge difference.

Pain Reliever

Many people deal with chronic pain on varying degrees and levels. To have to exist on a daily basis in some form of pain can greatly and negatively impact your quality of life. While pain medication can be a risky option, as so many are habit forming and potentially dangerous, a natural and external method to deal with pain is ideal. Comfrey has analegic qualities within the herb which helps to alleviate and soothe aches, pains and discomfort. Try adding a bit of comfrey oil to your coconut oil and rub it on your problem areas. Comfrey will be able to provide you with some relief.

Inflammation Buster

If you have a specific condition that leads to inflammation in your body, you likely will deal with a great bit of pain and swelling on a regular basis. Things like gout, arthritis, eczema and many other ailments can make it incredibly hard for you to go about the entirety of your day without being in some degree of discomfort. The saponins and tannins within this plant help to provide some relief to that swelling and tightness. There are comfrey creams you can use or if you want a more multi-purpose option. The oil is always a good idea to have on hand.

Respiratory Health

In the event you have asthma, seasonal allergies or are often susceptible to a cold, you should definitely try using this oil the next time you don’t feel well. While this oil should not be ingested, you can use it externally to help you clear out congestion. Its specific properties will help to diminish the restriction you often feel in these types of situations in your chest and in your lungs by opening up passageways. You can rub the oil onto your chest or you can inhale its aroma for a couple of minutes.

You can purchase comfrey online from several companies at amazon.com.

The Wonders Of Poppy Seed Oil

The nutritional properties of seeds can sometimes be under discussed. For many years, specific traditions used the seeds and roots of plants to treat and cure many different types of issues and ailments. In our current, more rapidly changing society, it’s nice to know that these seeds and plants can be obtained in an easy-to-use oil form which takes the guess work out of preparation and application. One thing that should be noted about poppy seed oil is that the ripened seeds themselves do not contain narcotic properties like that of the plant. Many get confused about this fact.

Inflammation Slayer

Poppy seed oil is great for the skin for a myriad of reasons – one of which is its high content of lineolenic acid. This can help to target and relieve many of the symptoms suffered from skin issues like eczema and psoriasis. The inflammation that is usually the biggest symptom of these kinds of skin ailments can be downright distressing. The skin starts to darken and the inflamed areas of the skin can become painful and swell to noticeable levels.

Try to treat your affected skin with a mixture of poppy seed oil and coconut oil. Using the coconut oil as a carrier, add a few drops of poppy seed oil into it and combine. Apply the mixture to your symptomatic skin twice a day.

Moisturizer

The lineolenic acid also makes for a great moisturizer for the face. If you know anything about skincare, you know that the skin needs hydration and moisture quite a bit. No matter the skin type you have, moisturizing your skin daily, and well, is an absolute necessity. This is true even for you oily skin sufferers, as you may think that your skin requires less moisture, it doesn’t. In fact, oily skin likely needs more moisture than normal or dry skin because its over production of oil is due to its lack of necessary moisture. Go figure. Try a couple of drops of poppy seed oil as a moisturizer on a completely clean face.

Treats Dandruff

Those pesky little flakes are no match for the potency of poppy seed oil. In fact, dandruff sufferers find that the scalp issue can be so pervasive and that oils similar to poppy seed help to completely heal and restore their scalp. Poppy seed oil is no different. You can add a bit of the oil to your favorite shampoo and wash your hair as normal.

You can also use the oil, mixed with a bit of coconut or jojoba oil, as an oil specifically applied to the scalp. Part your hair in small sections and apply the oil mixture along the entirety of your scalp. After just a couple of weeks, you’ll notice the dandruff less and less until it’s completely gone.

Stimulates Hair Growth

If you are looking for a way to promote hair growth, this oil will definitely do the trick. Try massaging a few drops onto your scalp every other day and watch how your hair starts to grow in stronger and thicker than before!

Sugar And Inflammation: What You’re Eating Can Harm You

It has become abundantly clear to so many that what we put in our bodies can negatively or positively impact them. The cause and effect symmetry that is pertinent to our diets and our health has been obfuscated by inaccurate information for years. While trans fats, processed foods and fast food is historically unhealthy, the food industry sold a bag of goods when they purported that fat is bad and makes people fat. This is incorrect as fat alone does not do that. The real enemy is sugar. What happens when we consume too much sugar is that our inflammation receptors are activated.

While our body is trying to properly absorb the nutrients of the meal, it’s also trying to thwart off bacteria. That natural process is made more difficult when massive amounts of sugar are in the way. This means that the body is then faced with the challenge of distributing ingested glucose and ridding the system of the bacteria simultaneously. This conflict is what often promotes inflammation. Doctors from the University Hospital Basel have conducted a study on how this conflict is directly related to inflammation and how, in individuals who struggle with their weight, can lead to diabetes.

Weight And Diabetes

Diabetes has many unsavory health implications that shouldn’t be ignored of shirked. The presence of adult-onset diabetes is almost exclusively the result of weight issues and this can lead to widespread inflammation that becomes chronic after awhile. This then becomes an issue as it causes insulin-producing beta cells to stop functioning properly and eventually die off. For those who are a healthy weight, the inflammation isn’t all bad. Mostly because it happens on a short-term basis, as that type of sugar uptake lasts a much shorter amount of time and can even help in activating the immune system.

The research found that the number of immune cells that exist around the intestines naturally increase when a person is eating. They are also referred to as “scavenger cells”. The glucose in the blood then has to be managed by the insulin that the pancreas provides. The substances that the cells contain – called IL-1beta – help to regulate blood sugar along with the insulin naturally produced. For those who have diabetes, this process isn’t simple and it’s effectively thwarted because insulin production is very low. This is what can cause inflammation and then lead to other more serious health concerns if not properly addressed and treated.

Metabolism And The Immune System

The metabolism and the immune system itself and the way that it functions or struggles is directly impacted by this occurrence. The nutrients and bacteria that are ingested with meals can often come against the glucose level and insulin sometimes can’t manage it the way it should. Inflammation is then the result. Many people aren’t aware of the extreme correlation between sugar and inflammation. Sugar is one of the greatest threats to health in this country but so many continue to focus on fat or meat or diary. Although everyone isn’t the same and some people do react poorly to these other options, sugar is the only one that is habit forming.

This is why it’s so essential to be mindful about what you eat and what’s in the things you consume. Sugar is such a palette gratifier that it’s literally in everything – things like tomato soup, bread and fruit. If you have issues with noticeable inflammation, cut sugar out of your diet.

Exercise Is Imperative: An Anti-Inflammation Key?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for most of your life, you have likely heard of the importance of exercise and remaining as active as possible. This is because so many illnesses and ailments can be linked to things like obesity and stagnation. The body was designed to move and run and jump. When we live sedentary lifestyles without making it a point to get some exercise, our health can suffer. In a new study conducted by California State University of San Diego, it was found that just 20 minutes of moderate exercise can be a key factor in managing inflammation.

There is a cellular response that happens in the body when physical activity is performed. This has been shown to have tremendous benefits on things like the heart, bones, and muscles. In this specific study, it was found that after only one single session of exercise, inflammation markers can be decreased. This is good news for chronic conditions that result in high levels of inflammation such as obesity, fibromyaligia and arthritis.

A study that was recently seen in Brain, Behavior and Immunity, explained extensively the reason a mere 20-minute session of moderate exercise helps to promote the immune system, which in turn activates the anti-inflammatory cellular response.

Mental And Physical Health Benefits

When we think about this is a similar context, it makes perfect sense. As the saying goes, “A body at rest, stays at rest. A body in motion, stays in motion.” So each time we make concerted and conscious efforts to get our steps in or take a yoga class or go for a swim, we are doing tremendous aid to not only our mental health but our physical health as well. While some may see this information and take it at face value, it’s imperative that we can understand just how the process of exercise has this specific effect.

The brain and nervous system are obviously connected and directly impact blood pressure and heart rate. These two things are positively activated during exercise in order for the body to properly carry out the task at hand. Epinephrine and norepinephrine are hormones that trigger immune cells response after they are released into the blood stream. This immunological response is a key way that systemic inflammation is effectively regulated and lessened. Twenty minutes on the treadmill resulted in an over five percent decrease in the number of cells producing inflammatory entities.

One researcher notes: “Our study shows a workout session doesn’t actually have to be intense to have anti-inflammatory effects. Twenty minutes to half an hour of moderate exercise, including fast walking, appears to be sufficient. Feeling like a workout needs to be at a peak exertion level for a long duration can intimidate those who suffer from chronic inflammatory diseases and could greatly benefit from physical activity.”

This is precisely the reason that some people don’t work out. They think it’s too strenuous and too exhaustive when it actually doesn’t have to be. It can be enjoyable and at a pace that can be easily kept up with. This idea that exercise only matters if it’s at a high intensity is what prevents so many people from actually attempting to even get moderate exercise that would actually benefit them tremendously.

Food For Thought: What To Eat To Keep Your Mind Sharp

 

Purple Sweet Potatoes
Loaded with antioxidants just like orange and yellow sweet potatoes, the pigments in the purple variety give it some distinct advantages in promoting brain health. These pigments help preserve the integrity of blood vessels that transport oxygen to the brain that normally diminish as we age. Keeping these blood vessels in good working order will ensure a healthy supply of blood to the brain. The best results will come from eating one sweet potato twice a week with the nutrient rich skins intact.

 

Coffee
Though not the primary reason for consumption of coffee among most people, it actually has the ability to protect the fat component of cells against oxidative stress. This creates a positive effect of protecting brain cells, as the human brain is made up of 60% fat. Home brewed coffee tends to have less caffeine than varieties bought in a coffee shop, and will be a better choice considering that the best benefits come from drinking 2-4 cups a day. If you’re sensitive to caffeine, drink less or drink decaffeinated coffee instead.

 

Ginger
Ginger is a potent anti-inflammatory, and can preempt the manufacture of inflammatory brain chemicals, and potentially slow down the progression of inflammation related conditions like Alzheimer’s disease. A 500 milligram supplement capsule a day is the best dosage, but you can also add one teaspoon of fresh ginger or one half teaspoon of powdered ginger to a meal 2-3 times a week.

 

Sardines
Most people that think of fish for their brain boosting omega-3 fatty acids usually think of salmon or mackerel. However, sardines are loaded with them and are also far less likely to be contaminated with mercury than larger fish. They’re also budget friendly, and conveniently canned and often require no cooking. Include 3-4 servings of omega-3 rich fish in your meals weekly. Be sure to trim the skin when cooking other fish, as that will also reduce mercury content.

 

Fun in the Sun, Safely and Naturally

 

Sunburn
Not only your skin, but your entire body can be dried by a sunburn, so be sure to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. There are some great remedies in your kitchen for dealing with the pain. If your eyelids are burned, soak tea bags in cool water and apply them to decrease pain and swelling. Wrap some dry oatmeal in gauze and run water through it for a few minutes. Remove the oatmeal and soak a cloth in the liquid leftover and apply every few hours.

 

Heat exhaustion
Unlike the winter months, summer weather predictions are usually pretty accurate. Keep this in mind, and plan ahead for extreme temperatures. Limit consumption of both caffeine and alcohol, as they both speed up the dehydration process. If someone is already suffering from heat exhaustion, either splash them with cool water or apply cool towels rather than submerging them in water. This will allow the water to evaporate and absorb more quickly and have a better cooling effect.

 

Mosquito bites
Mosquitoes can spread a number of diseases, so the first thing you should do once you’ve been bitten is to clean and disinfect the area where it appears with soap and hot water. To help prevent or reduce the inflammation caused by a bite, wet the affected area and rub an aspirin over the bite as soon as you can after it appears. Dissolve baking soda or Epsom salts in water, dip a cloth into that water and place it on the skin of the affected area for 15-20 minutes to help alleviate the itching.

 

Bee stings
The most important thing to do in order to avoid pain and swelling from a bee or wasp sting is to act fast, no matter what treatment you choose. Just like mosquitoes and flies, bees often are carriers for some nasty bacteria. Clean the area first, and then scrape the stinger away so that it doesn’t continue to pump venom into your skin. Apply a paste made of powdered activated charcoal to draw the poison out. Mud is an acceptable substitute, as not everyone keeps activated charcoal lying around.

 

More Kitchen Cures

 

Onion
Many ancient cultures believed in the healing and preventative powers of onions. Even ancient Greek athletes used them prior to competing. Over the years, a number of these age old theories have been put to the test, and more often than not they’re proven true. The sulfur compounds in onions can reduce the symptoms of diabetes, and they’re loaded with quercetin too, which prevents inflammation and helps prevent a number of different cancers.

 

Cayenne Pepper
Used for anything from pain relief to aphrodisiacs, cayenne peppers have been a staple of the “new world” since Columbus brought them here. These peppers get their heat from capsaicin, and that’s also where the pain relief aspect comes in. Studies have shown that it reduces the chemical reaction that sends pain messages to and from the brain.

 

Plantain
Not to be confused with the banana-esque tropical fruit of the same name, this plantain dates back to the 12th century as a poultice for everything from insect bites to wounds and burns. The plant has numerous antimicrobial properties that can help heal the skin and sooth burns and bites. The seeds are also used as the fiber source in laxatives.

 

Parsley
Dating back to 1629 when it was recommended and prepared for the Queen of England, parsley root has been used for health of the urinary tract. This benefit can be accredited to its ability to increase urine output. For the best result, drink tea made with parsley three times a day, or eat parsley leaves regularly for long term benefits. The chlorophyll in parsley also makes it a good breath freshener.

 

Debunking Medical Mysteries

 

Staying out in the cold will give you a cold
Colds are caused by viruses, either from inhaling infected air droplets sneezed or coughed by someone infected, or by touching something that an infected person has touched and transferring it to your mouth or nose. You don’t get colds from cold air or wind, but the viruses that cause them are more active in the winter- which is why more people get them in the colder months.

 

Chocolate causes acne
Acne is formed when oil glands in the skin make too much of a waxy substance called sebum that can clog pores along with dead skin cells. This allows bacteria to grow and irritate the blocked pores and lead to the red, swollen appearance. Over washing can cause further inflammation too, so a good balance is key. Studies have disproved the chocolate link, though stress has been shown to cause outbreaks.

 

Knuckle cracking leads to arthritis
The popping sound when someone cracks their knuckles is caused by bubbles bursting in the fluid that lubricates joints. When the bones are pulled apart, the capsule containing this fluid is stretched and can “pop”. A study of 74 people who habitually cracked their knuckles and 226 people who didn’t found no difference in rates of arthritis.

 

Sugar makes children hyperactive
Obesity and cavities are much bigger concerns for children having too much sugar than hyperactivity. At least 12 double blind studies have been conducted that observed how children react with diets containing different levels of sugar. None of them could tell the differences between the children who had and had not consumed the most sugar.

 

Foods That Fight Allergies

Vitamin E
Nuts, especially almonds, hazelnuts, and peanuts, are a good source of vitamin E, which helps to minimize inflammation. Eat a single one ounce serving of any of these nuts daily year round to help prevent symptoms. If you do have symptoms, increase the servings or add a few tablespoons of peanut butter as well.

Omega 3’s
Cold water fish like salmon, mackerel, trout, herring, and sardines as well as walnuts and flaxseed contain omega 3 fatty acids, which help fight inflammation. Eat at least two servings of cold water fish each week year round, and three servings during the seasons when you experience airborne allergies. Flaxseed can be added easily too, as it can be found in supplement form.

Zinc
Oysters, shrimp, crab, legumes, whole grains, and tofu are all high in zinc, which has antibacterial and antiviral effects that provide relief for immune systems that are overworked by fighting allergies. Have 6 oysters, 6 shrimp, or a few crabs each week, and twice that when allergies flare. Also have one serving of whole grains, beans, or tofu daily.

Tea
Whether green, white, or black, tea is full of flavonoids, plant compounds that reduce inflammation. Tea also increases proteins in the body that fight infection, again relieving an overtaxed immune system. Have at least one cup a day, and double that when allergies are in season. Have it early in the morning to stimulate the tiny hairs in the nose that keep pollen and dust away.

 

Natural Answers For Allergies

There are over 40 million Americans that suffer from seasonal allergies, and what’s worse is that most of the medications that help alleviate these symptoms have harmful side effects. Fortunately, there are some answers hiding in nature that are much safer than drugs, and have little to no side effects.

Quercetin
Quercetin is a plant pigment that can inhibit cells that produce histamine. It’s naturally occurring, and can be found in various foods like citrus fruits and onions. Don’t plan on getting enough of it through your diet though, the amounts found in foods can be minimal. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, take up to 600mg of a quercetin supplement either preventatively or once your symptoms start. It has minimal side effects like headache or upset stomach in some cases.

Stinging nettle
Stinging nettle is a flowering plant that reduces histamine production when ingested. The average dose is between 500mg to 1000mg depending on the severity of the symptoms. Consult your doctor or allergist first, as some people can be allergic to stinging nettle. Rare cases can cause upset stomachs.

Fish oil
The same omega 3 fatty acids that can reduce inflammation that leads to heart disease also helps with allergies. When buying fish oil, be sure to read the label carefully. Make sure you’re getting mercury free fish oil that is either purified or pharmaceutical grade. This will ensure that what you’re buying is potent enough to have positive effects and has had any and all potential toxins removed. Typical dose is 2000mg a day.