December 2017 Edition

What's New

At any given point in time, liver contains 10% of the total blood in the body. It filters around 1.4 liters of blood every single minute.

Taking Care of Your Liver for Optimal Health

Treat your liver well and it will treat you well in return. One of our body's largest organs, it's a workhorse, designed to keep the the blood cleansed of toxins and chemicals. The liver breaks down everything – good or bad – that enters your body through air, water, food, medications or supplements. It also breaks down your hormones, that may be in excess, helping to keep body chemistry in balance. Once the liver metabolizes these substances, it prepares them to be more easily utilized or excreted.

The fats, carbohydrates, and proteins you consume are metabolized by the liver for different functions in the body. After you eat carbohydrates, the liver helps maintain blood sugar balance. Fats are broken-down for the production of energy. Amino acids in protein foods are also broken down for energy, or to make more carbohydrates or fats, as the body needs. The liver also facilitates the storage of vitamins A, D, E, K and B12, as well as iron and copper.

Additionally, over half of the body's lymph fluid is produced in the liver. The lymphatic system is responsible for healthy immune function and acts as your body's internal janitor, collecting cellular waste products for elimination. These vital functions make the liver a major organ in metabolism and detoxification.

When the Liver Fails

Dysfunction of the liver can first manifest as symptoms in various body systems, including digestive, metabolic, and immune systems before the root cause is identified. A natural medicine practitioner will work with you to assess symptoms, run appropriate tests, and evaluate the overall functioning of your vital systems to determine the root cause. Here are three diseases and dysfunctions of the liver that can affect your health.

  • Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) is a group of conditions affecting people who drink little to no alcohol but their liver cells store too much fat. This causes liver inflammation, which may progress to scarring and irreversible damage similar to the damage caused by heavy alcohol use. In the United States, it's the most common form of chronic liver disease, affecting an estimated 80 to 100 million people, typically 40 - 50 years old.
  • Cirrhosis occurs when fibrous (scar) tissue replaces healthy liver tissue, often leading to cancer, destruction of liver cells and acute liver failure. It can be caused by toxins, alcohol abuse, and hepatitis.
  • Hepatitis is commonly caused by viruses, but also by toxins or an autoimmune problem. Hepatitis causes inflammation in the liver, which can often be healed; if not addressed, it will result in liver failure.

Tips for a Healthy Liver

  • Eat Whole Foods. The liver has a role in metabolising the major nutrients you take in through diet. A whole foods diet is your best prevention against stressing your liver with too much fat, sugar, or excessive protein. Choose healthy fats, whole grains, and organic sources of fish and meat while avoiding processed and packaged foods.
  • Reduce Alcohol Intake. Over time, excess consumption of alcohol causes cirrhosis of the liver. The breakdown of alcohol produces chemicals, such as free radicals, that are toxic to the liver. General health guidelines suggest moderate use of alcohol -- one drink/day for women and two drinks/day for men.
  • Don't Mix Drugs. Drug interactions can have serious health consequences. This includes mixing prescription medicine, street drugs, alcohol, herbal or other natural remedies.
  • Airborne Chemical Exposure. When using strong or industrial cleaning, painting or gardening chemicals, ventilate the area or wear a mask.
  • Protect Against Hepatitis. Viral Hepatitis A is contracted by eating or drinking contaminated water. Hepatitis B and C are spread through blood and body fluids. To cut your risk, don't share personal hygiene items, limit the number of sex partners you have, and always use latex condoms.

References

Food for Thought. . .

"To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one's family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one's own mind. If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him." - Buddha

Improve Your Health With Cauliflower

Known as broccoli's pale cousin, cauliflower offers just as many fantastic health benefits as other members of the cruciferous vegetable family. Cauliflower is a great source of glucosinolates, sulfur-containing compounds that support optimal functioning of our cardiovascular, digestive, immune and detoxification systems. Sulfur, the third most abundant mineral in the body, is highly concentrated in the muscles, skin and bones. It's essential to processes that create protein for cells, tissues, hormones, enzymes, and antibodies.

Research also shows a strong relationship between glucosinolates and the antioxidant properties of cauliflower. Some of the more colorful versions of cauliflower such as Grafiti (purple) cauliflower, have a strong profile of these two powerful plant nutrients. But don't feel you have to go on a hunt for colored cauliflower; white, the most commonly consumed variety of cauliflower, is rich in nutrients and plays an important role in a whole foods diet.

Cauliflower can be prepared in many ways. It can be roasted, sautéed, steamed, or boiled. Studies have shown equivalent benefits from raw and cooked cauliflower, as long as it's not overcooked. Sautéed cauliflower is a better option than boiling, steaming or microwaving, which changes its consistency depleting flavor and nutrition. To spice up sautéed cauliflower, add herbs such as turmeric, garlic, or shallot.

References

Cauliflower Steaks with Cumin, Ginger & Turmeric

Most people think of cauliflower as a side to steak, not the "meat of the meal." But cut into thick slabs and roasted with spices, this plain vegetable is easily transformed into a flavorful dish. Roasting brings out the subtle nutty flavor of cauliflower. The brilliant colors and flavors of turmeric, ginger, cumin, and cilantro create cauliflower "steaks" that are simple to prepare and fancy enough for a dinner party or to add pizazz to an ordinary family dinner.

Serves 3

Ingredients

  • 1 large head cauliflower
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 Tbs olive oil, divided
  • 1 tsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • Small handful of cilantro, chopped

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Remove leaves and trim the stem end of the cauliflower, leaving the core intact. Using a large knife, cut the cauliflower from top to base into three 3/4-inch-thick "steaks."
  3. Season each steak with salt and pepper on both sides. (Reserve any loose florets for another use.)
  4. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sear the cauliflower steaks until golden brown--about 2 minutes on each side.
  5. Gently transfer the steaks to a baking sheet.
  6. Whisk together the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil, ginger, cumin, and turmeric. Brush or spoon the mixture onto the cauliflower steaks.
  7. Roast in the oven until tender, about 15 minutes. Garnish with cilantro and serve.

References

Mighty Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is a member of the B Complex, a group of vitamins, each with a unique function in the body, but synergistically regarded for how they help the body's cells produce energy. Vitamin B12, along with thiamin (B1), niacin (B3), riboflavin (B2), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), biotin, and folate make up the B Complex. B12 is essential to the production of new DNA, red blood cells, proteins, hormones and fats, as well as regulating mood and maintaining healthy nervous and immune systems.

If you aren't getting enough B12 through diet, or your body isn't absorbing or using it efficiently, you can become deficient. This can lead to a range of health problems: intense fatigue, loss of appetite, trouble concentrating, anemia, and depression. B12 deficiency affects up to 15% of people in the U.S.

The aging process, a vegan diet, stress, certain medications, and illness can alter your body's ability to utilize B12 from food. Medications, such as those for reflux or Type 2 diabetes, affect B12 absorption. Also, if you've had major surgery, have digestive problems, or Celiac Disease you have an increased risk for B12 deficiency.

Most people who eat meat, fish, eggs and dairy products get enough B12. Vegans are advised to eat fortified food and take supplements because B12 is not found in sufficient amounts in plant foods. Carefully read labels for fortified food claims, as these foods can be loaded with preservatives that don't contribute to your health.

For nutrition supplements, B12 is available as

  1. a multivitamin -- often the best approach for people who don't have a deficiency
  2. a prescription for injection or as a nasal gel
  3. a tablet that dissolves under the tongue (sublingual).

Taking a B12 supplement when you don't have a deficiency doesn't necessarily provide any health benefit. The most common form used in supplements is cyanocobalamin, but I prefer people use methyl or hydroxycobalamin, 2 very specific forms. If you need a replacement for what you currently use, let me know!

References

A Potent Berry for Liver Health: Schisandra chinensis

With its sweet, sour, salty, pungent, and bitter flavor profile, it's no surprise the Chinese call Schisandra chinensis "the five flavored fruit," or wu wei zi. Regarded as the most important herb in Traditional Chinese Medicine, the schisandra berry might more aptly be called the "fruit of life."

Schisandra belongs to a unique class of herbs known as adaptogens, which enhance the body's ability to adapt to, and recover from, stress. The source of the stress could be emotional, mental, environmental, or physical, such as when you become sick. In addition to supporting the body across physiological systems, it provides protective benefits for the liver, the body's engine for detoxification. Studies show schisandra reduces inflammation, keeps hormones in balance, helps regenerate liver tissue, and lowers levels of an enzyme associated with liver damage.

Traditional Chinese physicians have long used schisandra to:

  1. stimulate the immune system and support adrenal gland function
  2. enhance recovery from illness or surgery
  3. reduce inflammation and fatigue
  4. improve blood circulation and enhance detoxification

Dried schizandra berries can be made into powder, capsule, tincture, tonic, tea and even wine. Schisandra is safe for most people, but precautions must be used if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, have epilepsy, or reflux disease. Your holistic practitioner can identify the type of schisandra supplement that is best for you.

References

Detox Your Liver with A Castor Oil Pack

If you're looking for a topical way to support the health of your liver and lymphatic system, consider castor oil. The thick, pale yellow oil, extracted from the seed of the castor bean plant, is native to India and has been used in topical medicinal applications around the world, including Egypt, Japan, China, and India. Today, castor oil is still used by holistic physicians, as well as in commercial products such as cosmetics, soaps, textiles, and massage oils.

Castor oil's healing abilities are derived from its high concentration of unsaturated fatty acids, especially ricinoleic acid. It works by way of absorption through the skin and into lymphatic circulation where it stimulates flow of lymph fluid and helps draw out waste products from the cells of the body. This enhances the body's natural detoxification process, while supporting immune system function. Critical Information: Don't use the seed itself -- it can be deadly and is never used medicinally. Also, ingesting castor oil can cause serious health issues including severe diarrhea.

Always use castor oil topically. A pack is an excellent approach and there are many ways to prepare one. Some methods are more suitable than others for particular needs. For example, for some health conditions, the pack is used with heat; for others, without heat. Castor oil packs are not recommended for women who are pregnant and should not be used by anyone who has recently undergone surgery. Before following random instructions found on the Internet for making a castor oil pack, consult with your natural health practitioner to determine which method is best for your health needs.

Here is my handout for how to do Castor Oil Packs.

References

Photo attributions: PIC4U/bigstockphoto.com; Flipper1971/bigstockphoto.com; Tatiana Volgutova/bigstockphoto.com; bit24/bigstockphoto.com; Geshas/bigstockphoto.com; A K Choudhury/bigstockphoto.com

Guiding Principles

The information offered by this newsletter is presented for educational purposes. Nothing contained within should be construed as nor is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. This information should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider. Always consult with your physician or other qualified health care provider before embarking on a new treatment, diet or fitness program. You should never disregard medical advice or delay in seeking it because of any information contained within this newsletter.

What's New

If the lungs were open flat, they would cover an entire tennis court!

Respiratory Health & the Power of the Lungs

Breath in. Breath out. We do it automatically, about 22,000 times per day. Until we can't. For millions of adults and children, taking a deep breath is a struggle; for those who can breathe easily, the power of the breath is often taken for granted. Yet our lungs have a vulnerability not shared by other organs: Along with oxygen, breathing brings in airborne irritants, organisms, and toxins. As these substances increase in the environment, more people are dealing with poor lung and respiratory health.

An unhealthy respiratory system deprives our entire body of oxygen, a nutrient essential to the functioning of all our organs and tissues. A poorly functioning respiratory system compromises the strength of the immune system and puts us at risk for serious illnesses, such as asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, and coronary obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

A Closer Look at the Lungs

The respiratory system includes airways, the lungs and linked blood vessels, and muscles that enable breathing, such as the diaphragm. The lungs sit inside the rib cage and are the central organ in the respiratory system. They are made of spongy, elastic tissue that stretches and constricts as we breathe. The trachea and bronchi bring air into the lungs; they are made of smooth muscle and cartilage, which allows the airways to constrict and expand. The alveoli, tiny sacs deep within the lungs, facilitate the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide from the blood. If not cared for, our lungs are prone to infection and illness.

Protect Your Lungs

Exercise. The better your cardiorespiratory fitness, the easier it is for your lungs to keep your heart and muscles supplied with oxygen. It doesn't matter if you dance under the moon, swim at sunrise, or walk through the woods…just get moving to a level that increases your breathing and heart rate.

Puff Off. Smoking is one of the most detrimental things you can do to your lungs. There's no such thing as moderation. Smoking, second-hand smoke in the air, and smoke absorbed by clothes, furniture and car upholstery can damage lung tissue and increase your risk for lung cancer, emphysema, chronic bronchitis and other respiratory illnesses.

Breathe Clean(er). From second-hand smoke to industrial pollution, the levels of toxins in the air are astonishing. This is especially true if you live in, work, or travel to places without environmental protections for air quality. For information on local air quality and an explanation of the Air Quality Index (AQI), visit AIRNow (http://www.airnow.gov/). Reduce toxins and improve your air quality by: using air purifiers or whole house air filtration systems; following a schedule for replacing air filters in your heating/cooling system; and keeping plenty of plants in your living areas to remove certain chemicals from indoor air.

Breathe Right. Most of us don't breathe well. Too often, respiration is shallow instead of deep, limiting the amount of oxygen taken into the body. Proper breathing begins with good posture - stand tall through the spine and chest. Additionally, practice abdominal breathing, in which you fill the belly - not just the chest - as you inhale.

References

Food for Thought. . .

"Take care of your body with steadfast fidelity. The soul must see through these eyes alone, and if they are dim, the whole world is clouded." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Experience the Health Benefits of Acorn (Winter) Squash

Known for its iconic autumn shape and vibrant green speckled-with-yellow color, acorn squash provides an array of nutrients that support optimal health. These include calcium, potassium and magnesium, each one vital to many physiological processes including the formation and regeneration of bone matter and prevention of osteoporosis. They also play a role in energy metabolism, water balance in the body, and muscle contraction. Other minerals found in smaller amounts in acorn squash include manganese, copper, iron, and zinc.

It's easy to include acorn squash in your meal plans. Available in the winter months (hence the name, Winter Squash), it can be baked, sautéed, steamed, stuffed, pureed for soups, or incorporated into a variety of meat and vegetable dishes. Acorn squash is a good source of Vitamin C, which supports immunity and works as an antioxidant, helping to protect cells from oxidative stress that can lead to inflammation and health problems such as cancer or heart disease. To maximize the amount of vitamin C you receive from acorn squash, use the vegetable within four days after purchase and cut it right before cooking. Steam or bake the squash instead of boiling it to keep vitamin C from being degraded in hot water.

Acorn squash is also high in both fiber and complex carbohydrates. While there aren't any simple sugars in acorn squash, if you follow a low-carb diet you'll want to enjoy smaller portions of this vegetable.

References

Acorn Squash Soup

Savory, creamy winter squash soups are great comfort on cold winter nights. This roasted acorn squash soup is easy to make: a little sautéing, roasting, and blending and you'll have a hearty soup that is nutritious and filling, as well as low in calories. It's perfect for a family meal and lunch the next day.

Ingredients

  • 1 large acorn squash
  • 2 T. olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 t. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 t. kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 c. unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 c. vegetable broth
  • Optional: Sour cream or plain Greek yogurt for servin

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF.
  2. Chop the tip and tail off the acorn squash, then cut it in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and discard them (or you can roast them like pumpkin seeds--they're delicious!).
  3. Drizzle the squash flesh with 1 T. of olive oil; sprinkle with salt and cinnamon. Place squash halves on a baking sheet, cut-side down. Roast for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the flesh is very soft.
  4. Use a spoon to remove the squash flesh from the skin; discard the skin.
  5. Heat the remaining olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and sauté until browned, about 15 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté an additional 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
  6. Add the squash, sautéed onion and garlic, almond milk, and vegetable broth to a blender and blend until completely smooth.
  7. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve with sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, if desired.

Tip:

If you have an immersion blender, you can cook the onion and garlic in a Dutch oven, then add the remaining ingredients and blend directly in the pot.

References

The Master Antioxidant: Glutathione

Produced naturally in the body, glutathione is made of three amino acids − cysteine, glycine, and glutamine. It functions as an antioxidant, helping to rid our bodies of free radicals - molecules that can damage our body and contribute to chronic illness.

In addition to clearing free radicals, it plays important roles in boosting the work of other antioxidants, nutrient metabolism, the immune response, and the detoxification process that neutralizes drugs, chemicals, metabolic wastes, and other toxins and carcinogens. Because it can regenerate itself, and because it is used by every cell and tissue in the body, glutathione is considered "the Master Antioxidant."

A deficiency of glutathione contributes to oxidative stress which plays a key role in aging and the development of diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular and respiratory conditions, Alzheimer's disease, and Parkinson's disease to name just a few. While not considered part of "mainstream" medicine, there are a number of lab tests that can be used to check glutathione levels. These are known as Oxidative Stress Analysis tests. 

For general health, the best approach is to enhance the body's levels of nutrients needed for boosting glutathione levels through a whole foods diet. This includes broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale, garlic, and onions as well as walnuts and avocado. Eating foods rich in B vitamins and selenium also supports the body's natural glutathione levels. This includes beets, garbanzo beans, spinach, and lentils for the B vitamins; and for selenium include foods such as wild-caught yellow-fin tuna, halibut, grass fed/ organic boneless turkey and beef.

In order to gain the best benefit from an oral glutathione supplement there are two important things to consider: the form and cofactors (helpers). The best forms are L-glutathione, acetyl glutathione or liposomal glutathione. In addition, glutathione works better when it is paired with other substances that help the body absorb and use it, i.e. cofactors. These include N acetyl-L-cysteine, B vitamins, selenium, magnesium, alpha lipoic acid and vitamin C. For serious respiratory illnesses, glutathione might provide its best medicinal effects when it is inhaled. Deciding on the appropriate dose and whether to use oral or inhaled glutathione to gain the most benefit can be challenging so consider working with a healthcare practitioner to determine what is best for you.

References

Ease Respiratory Symptoms with Eucalyptus Oil (Eucalyptus globulus)

Eucalyptus has held a place in herbal medicine for centuries. Native to Australia, there are more than 680 species of eucalyptus, ranging from scrappy shrubs to towering trees. The bark and leaves provide a rich source of the pungent, heady fragrance that has become popular in modern aromatherapy. Specifically, Eucalyptus essential oil (EO) has attracted research attention for easing symptoms of respiratory illness.

The medicinal properties of Eucalyptus EO include anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antispasmodic, antibacterial, antiseptic and expectorant. The primary active component, cineole, loosens phlegm so the body can expel it more easily, easing symptoms such as cough, runny nose, sore throat, and congestion. Eucalyptus EO is found in many over-the-counter remedies including throat lozenges, inhalants, decongestant syrups, and chest rubs. However, it's unsafe to ingest eucalyptus oil or to apply undiluted oil directly on the skin.

As an aromatherapy remedy for respiratory symptoms, you can buy eucalyptus prepared as a tea, chest rub, or vaporizer. You can also purchase organic Eucalyptus EO for use in bath water, to add to a vaporizer, or a room diffuser. The oil distributes in the steam, which helps open the nasal and respiratory pathways as you inhale. In a bath, add 1 tbsp of milk (almond, cashew or rice) with the oil to enhance dispersal of the oil.

Before preparing a home remedy, consult with a holistic physician about the proper dilution of the oil as it can interact with other medication, create an allergic reaction for some people, and requires different preparation for children than for adults.

References

Ease Chest Congestion With Mustard Pack

When you're battling a cold or other respiratory condition, your lungs often get congested with mucous that's difficult to cough up. Forceful coughing can irritate the sensitive lining of your respiratory passages; your chest and stomach hurt with the effort, it's hard to breathe, impossible to relax, and all at a time when your body is working hard to recover good health. Still, you have to expel that trapped mucous in order to prevent infection from developing in the lungs, causing more serious illness such as bronchitis or bacterial pneumonia. A mustard chest pack may be just the trick. Mustard stimulates blood circulation by dilating the capillaries. Applying a mustard pack over the lungs helps open the airways and makes it easier to cough and release phlegm. Next time you're down with a cold, give it a try.

How to Prepare a Mustard Pack

Ingredients

  • 1 T. Mustard Seed Powder
  • 4 T. flour
  • A drizzle of Olive or coconut oil
  • Cotton Cloth (muslin cloth)
  • Warm, wet wash cloth

Directions

  1. The mustard seed powder must be finely ground. If yours is lumpy, place in a mortar and pestle and grind until fine.
  2. Add flour to the mustard powder and drizzle in a little water to make a paste. The paste should not be thick or watery.*
  3. Sterilize the cloth by boiling it in water. Squeeze out excess water and place on a clean cutting board.
  4. Spread a thin layer of the mustard paste on the cloth.
  5. Apply a thick coat of the oil and then place the mustard pack on the chest. Cover with a warm wet cloth.
  6. Leave in place for 15 minutes, then remove the pack and wash the area with warm water.

*See images of preparation at: www.wildturmeric.net

References

Photo attributions: Aekkarak/bigstockphoto.com; bhofack22/bigstockphoto.com; Ivan Zhukevych/bigstockphoto.com; NatashaBreen/bigstockphoto.com; PinkOmelet/bigstockphoto.com; Yastremska/bigstockphoto.com

Guiding Principles

The information offered by this newsletter is presented for educational purposes. Nothing contained within should be construed as nor is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. This information should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider. Always consult with your physician or other qualified health care provider before embarking on a new treatment, diet or fitness program. You should never disregard medical advice or delay in seeking it because of any information contained within this newsletter.