Thursday, December 6, 2012

It’s Bath Time! Homemade Therapeutic & Relaxing Bath Salts

Ending your day with a warm bath is really one of the best ways to get rid of stress and spend some quiet, quality time with yourself, leaving all your thoughts behind and just treat all your senses to this unique moment! To enhance the bath experience put some relaxing music on and light a candle. Always have a bottle of water close to you and once in a while you may treat yourself to a glass of red wine! Focus on the healing of your body while taking the bath. Keep thoughts positive and reaffirming. This will help balance your body and your mind.
These baths are a very beneficial and pleasant way of treating stress related problems, and insomnia. Additionally, they increase blood circulation and they expel toxins from the body. They are ideal for very sore muscles and sports injuries, musculoskeletal pain, swelling and bruises, arthritis pain or other disabling diseases. You may also use bath salts to treat skin disorders such as acne, eczema, psoriasis, hives, chicken pox, etc.
Making your own bath salts is just the easiest thing ever, as long as you’ve got the right ingredients. You’ll need natural sea salt (Don’t use table salt! Not just in your bath, but in general!), baking soda, Epsom salts (I find Epsom salts in the pharmacy) and essential oils. 
Sea salt softens the water and is a great purifier that dissipates negative energy. Sea salt is alkaline and therefore helps to lower the acidity of the body. The salt water penetrates the pores and is absorbed into the bloodstream. From there, the salt helps to remove accumulated lactic acid in the body (lactic acid becomes present in the body after strenuous workouts or heavy activity and can be built up in muscle tissue, causing you to feel stiff and sore).
Baking soda (I prefer buying organic) balances the natural PH of the skin and has healing properties for any skin disorder.
Finally, Epsom salt (scientifically known as hydrated magnesium sulfate) is rich in both magnesium and sulfate. While both magnesium and sulfate can be poorly absorbed through the stomach, studies show increased magnesium levels from soaking in a bath enriched with Epsom salt! Magnesium and sulfate are both easily absorbed through the skin. Sulfates play an important role in the formation of brain tissue, joint proteins and the proteins that line the walls of the digestive tract. They stimulate the pancreas to generate digestive enzymes and are thought to help detoxify the body of medicines and environmental contaminants. Researchers and physicians suggest these health benefits from proper magnesium and sulfate levels, as listed on the web site of the Epsom Salt Industry Council:

·         Improves heart and circulatory health, reducing irregular heartbeats, preventing hardening of the arteries, reducing blood clots and lowering blood pressure.
·         Improves ability for the body to use insulin, reducing the incidence or severity of diabetes.
·         Flushes toxins and heavy metals from the cells, easing muscle pain and helping the body to eliminate harmful substances.
·         Improves nerve function by electrolyte regulation. Also, calcium is the main conductor for electrical current in the body, and magnesium is necessary to maintain proper calcium levels in the blood.
·         Relieves stress. Excess adrenaline and stress are believed to drain magnesium, a natural stress reliever, from the body. Magnesium is necessary for the body to bind adequate amounts of serotonin, a mood-elevating chemical within the brain that creates a feeling of well being and relaxation.
·         Reduces inflammation to relieve pain and muscle cramps.
·         Improves oxygen use.
·         Improves absorption of nutrients.
·         Improves formation of joint proteins, brain tissue and mucin proteins.
·         Prevents or helps ease migraine headaches.

Sea salt soaks are very therapeutic and beneficial to our bodies and minds. By practicing the soaking ritual on a regular basis, you may achieve increased overall health and wellness as well as a sense of spirituality. Add 2 cups of bath salt to warm water in a standard-sized bathtub. Bathe 3 times weekly, soaking for at least 15 minutes, but not more than 30 minutes.  
Tip: Hop into the bath and rub the bath salts over your body bit by bit and allow the salt to dissolve with the water (instead of pouring the salt into the bath before hoping in). This gives an exfoliating effect to your skin. Be sure to rinse in shower after bath… but don't use soap! These baths are not recommended while pregnant!

Here is the recipe:
1 cup Epsom salt
1 cup sea salt
1/2 cup baking soda
15-20 drops essential oil (for relaxing night baths I use either lavender or chamomile) 

Mix all your ingredients well and store in an air tight glass container (dark glass is even better).


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

10 Amazing & Natural Anti-Inflammatory Agents

Inflammation is a healthy reaction of the body to any trauma that initiates the healing process. It can be classified as either acute or chronic. Acute inflammation is the initial response of the body to harmful stimuli and is achieved by the increased movement of plasma and leukocytes from the blood into the injured tissues. A series of biochemical events propagates and matures the inflammatory response, involving the local vascular system, the immune system, and various cells within the injured tissue. The classical signs of acute inflammation are pain, heat, redness, swelling, and loss of function. It is not a synonym for infection, even in cases when inflammation is caused by infection. Although infection is caused by a microorganism, inflammation is one of the responses of the organism to the pathogen. Without inflammation, wounds and infections would never heal. Similarly, progressive destruction of the tissue would compromise the survival of the organism.

Prolonged or chronic inflammation leads to a progressive shift in the type of cells present at the site of inflammation and is characterized by simultaneous destruction and healing of the tissue from the inflammatory process. Chronic inflammation can also lead to diseases, such as hay fever, periodontitis, atherosclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, even cancer.

In some instances, this normal defense system wrongly begins or continues an inflammatory state when there are no invaders to fight. In this mode, your body's normally helpful immune system causes damage to the surrounding tissues.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and steroids are often the standard treatment for chronic inflammatory conditions, but these drugs can cause health issues of their own if used for extended periods of time as well as side effects like gastric ulceration and, infrequently, myocardial infarction and stroke. Safer alternatives are offered by mother nature! The best and most effective natural anti-inflammatory agents are those that have both an anti-inflammatory and an analgesic effect on the organism. They must be able to track the inflammation, reduce the swelling and ease the pain.

After quite a lot of studdying and experimenting (!), I have concluded to this list of natural anti-inflammatory agents:                                                   
1. TurmericThe active ingredient in turmeric, curcumin, has strong anti-inflammatory and disinfecting properties. As a natural anti-inflammatory, turmeric aids in giving relief to sufferers of arthritis, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis. It may also slow the progression of multiple sclerosis.Taken orally as an anti-inflammatory, turmeric does not have the side-effects commonly associated with some modern pharmaceutical medicines. These include intestinal bleeding, ulcers, and the decrease of white blood cells. This makes turmeric a safe and very effective alternative to some non-prescription drugs.


2. Chili/Cayenne pepper 
Chili owes its stinging pungency to the chemical, capsaicin. Capsaicin produces highly selective regional anesthesia. It also inhibits NF-kB, thus producing an anti-inflammatory effect. Capsaicin can cause a burning sensation when it comes in contact with human flesh, and also in the digestive tract. Chili/Cayenne pepper is rarely used alone, so if you decide to use it topically you should mix it with a base oil like olive oil, which also has anti-inflammatory properties.

3. St John’s Wort ( Hypericum  perforatum)
St. John's wort has a history of being used as a medicine dating back to ancient        Greece, where it was used for a range of illnesses, including various "nervous disorders." St. John's wort also has antibacterial and antiviral properties. Because of its   anti-inflammatory properties, it has been applied to the skin to help heal wounds and burns. In the case of an inflammation it is recommended to use St. John’s wort oil on the affected area. It is very useful in cases of nerve inflammation such as sciatica and neuralgia and for recovery from wounds/injuries where there has been nerve tissue damage. It also provides relief for swollen joints and muscle cramps and from pain cause by injuries. 


4. Bee Propolis 

Propolis is a mainly resinous substance that bees collect from trees and plants. Being made up of waxes, resins, fatty acids and even amino acids. Aristotle reputedly coined the name Propolis, which in greek means "defender of the city". Propolis is a unique natural medicine because of its breadth of action. It is probably best known for its antibiotic properties, but it also has important  antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and immunomodulatory effects. A survey of Propolis consumers showed that arthritis was the health problem that Propolis was used to treat the most. This is because of the potent anti-inflammatory properties of the propolis constituents in particular CAPE (Caffeic acid Phenyl ester), CAPE has been shown to suppress T cell activation. A paper by Park et al in 1999 concluding that the ethanolic extract of propolis had profound anti-inflammatory effects on both chronic and acute arthritic inflammations. These anti-inflammation properties extend to other illness and disorders such as asthma and allergies reducing both smooth muscle airway contraction and allergic responses. Any disorder or illness related to inflammation could be helped by Propolis. I usually prefer it in the form of a tincture, but you can also get it in its natural form or in capsules.


5. Ginger Root 

Ginger is the root of a plant in the same family as turmeric. It is a powerful anti-inflammatory herb and there has been much recent interest in its use for joint problems. Red ginger, in particular, has the ability to stop chronic and acute inflammation. In a study published in February 2010 in the "Journal of Medicinal Food," red ginger was found to reduce inflammation in a mouse experimental model. The active ingredients were found to be gingerdiols, and proanthocyanidins, two phytochemicals, or plant chemicals that can impact health. These active compounds were able to stop the expression of nitric oxide, a gas in the body that can lead to conditions such as arthritis when too much is present. In a study published in 2010 in "Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry," rats fed with ginger showed reduced ear swelling caused by inflammation.


6. Omega-3 (Fish Oil) 

Research has shown that the omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids are some of the most effective natural anti-inflammatory agents available. The biological basis for the effectiveness of fish oil in treating arthritis has been well documented with many positive clinical studies, when compared to traditional pharmaceutical anti-inflammatory agents.

7. Devil’s Claw (Harpagophytum) 

Devil's Claw or Harpagophytum, which in Greek means “hook plant”    (Αρπαγόφυτο), has been a popular anti-inflammatory and arthritis treatment since it was first discovered in South Africa by European colonists in the 18th century. It is still quite common in Europe today but is not so well known in the U.S. Devil's Claw can relieve pain from arthritis quite fast, as well as lower back, knee and hip pain. It is also used to treat osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, bursitis, tendonitis and soft tissue pain (muscle aches).Studies have shown no side effects, even at very high doses, so Devil's claw can be an alternative for those taking over-the-counter pain medications.

8. Cat’s claw (Uncaria tomentosa) 

Cat's Claw (Uncaria tomentosa) is a vine native to the Amazon rainforest and other parts of South and Central America. The bark and root of the plant have been used traditionally in South American medicine for the treatment of a wide range of health problems, including cancer and AIDS. It was also used as a form of birth control. Today, mainly by word of mouth, it has become one of the best selling herbs in the USA. This herb's anti-inflammatory properties may help to relieve arthritis, gout, and other inflammatory problems. The primary mechanism for Cat's claw anti-inflammatory actions appears to be immunomodulation via suppression of TNF-alpha synthesis.


9. Green Tea
Green tea has long been recognized to have cardiovascular and cancer preventative characteristics due to its antioxidant properties. Its use in the treatment of arthritic disease as an anti-inflammatory agent has been recognized more recently. The constituents of green tea are polyphenolic compounds called catechins.
Green tea research demonstrates both anti-inflammatory and chondroprotective effects. The usual recommendation is 3–4 cups of tea a day.


10. Extra  Virgin Olive Oil
Last but definitely no least, the virgin olive oil! Mediterranean’s secret to longevity! Its rich supply of polyphenols protects the heart and blood vessels from inflammation. The monounsaturated fats in olive oil are also turned into anti-inflammatory agents by the body that can lower occurrences of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. Researchers have observed that olive oil reduces the plasmatic concentration of molecules in the walls of blood vessels that promote inflammation. They attribute this beneficial effect of olive oil partly to the high presence of micronutrients, specifically the phenolic compound oleocanthal, which is believed to have an effect similar to that of anti-inflammatory drugs (without all the unwanted side-effects).







Monday, November 26, 2012

Natural Fertility Tonic

I was going through the Herbal Encyclopedia and I came accross this fertility potion. I thought to share it with you, even through I haven't tested it myself, but I really trust the source. And it will deffinitely not harm you in any case. So if you are trying to conceive and you are having trouble with it, it is worth a try!
Uterine fibroids, endometriosis, ovarian cysts, stress, age - all have a factor in fertility for women, and these situations need to be addressed and treated before embarking on an herbal treatment for fertility. You should not be in such a hurry to get pregnant that you put yourself or your fetus in any kind of danger.
The tonic is for both men and women and may be used in tincture (3/4 teaspoon daily), capsule (3 capsules twice per day), or tea (one cup three times per day) form. If you need any help in getting hold of the herbs listed, please conctact me and I will assist you. Use the fertility tonic daily for up to 3 months. During this time, change your lifestyle to include exercise, quit (or at least reduce) smoking, cut back on caffeine and alcohol consumption, rest, and above all, adopt a healthy diet. Take a multivitamin that includes folic acid every day, as well as bee pollen. I have been drinking bee pollen every morning in my orange juice for at least three years now and it really is amazing! Just add one full teaspoon in a glass of fresh orange juice and stir well.  Drink it first thing in the morning and avoid eating any food for about 30 minutes.
Your life is a direct reflection of what is going on in your body, both male and female. Take stock and change what you should to aid in overcoming the infertility. And remember - sometimes trying too hard can make it difficult to conceive! Just relax, have faith, and trust your body.

      Fertility Tonic
  • 2 parts ho shou wu
  • 1 part astragalus root
  • 1 part dong quai root (substitute ginseng for men)
  • 2 parts false unicorn root
  • 3 parts wild yam root
  • 1 part vitex berries
  • 1 part squaw vine
  • 1 part cinnamon 

References: (photo1) (photo2)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Nourishing Body Butter for Stretch Marks and Dry Skin Conditions

This boby butter recipe is made with natural products that are very beneficial (and anti-aging!) for the skin, hair and nails! Coconut oil is loaded with Vitamin E and fatty acids (such as lauric acid, myristic acid, capric acid and more) which are anti-fungal, anti-oxidizing and anti-bacterial. Cocoa and shea butters, besides having moisturizing properties, are also capable of renewing the skin by speeding up skin cell regeneration. These too are rich in vitamin E and fatty acids. Shea butter in particular is also recommended to people that suffer from mild joint pain and arthritis. Aloe vera is just miraculous for the skin and I choose to add it in most creams and cosmetics I make. I have added extra vitamin E in my recipe, not just because it is great  for healing, assisting with hair and nail growth and softening the skin, but it also contains natural antioxidants which extend the life of homemade natural creams and cosmetics and prevent the growth of bacteria, fungi, and viruses.

With this body butter your skin stays clear and moisturized day and night. Being 100% natural, your skin will readily absorb it and still allow moisture to flow back and forth.
It is ideal to use during and after pregnancy to prevent stretch marks. Apply it around the breasts, on your belly and around the waist. You may also use it on your infant’s (or baby’s) sensitive skin. It is also ideal for dehydrated and rough skin, for people suffering from severe skin conditions like eczema, dermatitis, rashes or psoriasis. 
This recipe also makes a great lip butter, a make-up remover (especially if you add a bit less cocoa butter to make it less thick), it is great to use as a face mask and around the eyes.  It can be also used as a hair mask for damaged, color-treated or very dry hair, in this case again it is much easier if you try to make it less thick by using less cocoa butter (or adding more coconut oil).
It is very nourishing and delicate for the skin, lips and hair, it is easy and fast to make, it is 100% natural (you could actually eat it!) and has a natural yummy, yet subtle, aroma (that makes you want to eat it!!!).

This is what you’ll need:
6 tablespoons organic coconut oil
4 tablespoons cacao butter (cocoa butter also works as the setting and thickening agent in this recipe so you may adjust the quantity you’ll use according to how thick you would like it to be)
2 tablespoon shea butter
1 tablespoon aloe pure, organic aloe vera gel
½ teaspoon vitamin E oil (or 2 vitamin E capsules)

Put the coconut oil, cocoa butter and shea butter in a double boiler on low heat and allow them to melt slowly. Once ready, remove from heat. 
In a separate double boiler, again on low heat, slightly heat the aloe vera gel and mix it in the cocoa butter mix. 
Add the vitamin E oil and stir. If you are using capsules make a small hole on them with a pin and just squeeze out the oil. 
Pour the body butter mix in a jar and allow it to cool. Once it has cooled down to room temperature it will have set.