Chinese Herbs for InsomniaHow can Chinese herbal medicine help relieve stress, anxiety and insomnia? By working with your body and your mind…

Your Shen or the energy of ‘mind and spirit’, might be key to your solving your response to stress and poor sleep. In Chinese medicine Shen is closely associated with your conscious awareness and resides in your heart meridian.

What’s going on with your Shen? An insight into managing your stress and sleeping better 

During your day, Shen can become agitated by strong emotions, which can result in nervousness, irritability, tension and palpitations. Stabilising Shen, calms the mind and spirit to relieve symptoms such as mild anxiety, nervousness, irritability and restlessness.

Your sleep quality also relates to the activities of Shen. During our waking state, Shen is channelled by the Heart organ-meridian system to the brain, and then returns to the heart meridian during sleep.  At bedtime your Shen needs to settle back down, so you can sleep soundly and restore your nervous system. Thissettling down, is vital for a sound night sleep.

Settle your Shen with Chinese medicines for a healthy stress response and a good sleep

The Chinese medicines Magnolia (Hou Po), Polygala (Yuan Zhi)and Poria (Fu Ling) work together to settle Shen. The Ayurvedic herbs Sacred Basil (tulsi) and Withania (ashwagandha) also enhance resistance and adaptation to stress, important for supporting a healthy stress response. [Read more…]

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Genetic engineerringEveryday your body is exposed to internal and external environmental influences. These include diet and lifestyle, stress, toxins such as chemicals, genetically modified foods, heavy metals, radiation and mobile phones, cosmetics, effects of ageing, weakened immune system, inflammation and oxidative stress.

Did you know these influences can change the expression of your genetic blueprint?  Your cellular DNA function can be disrupted contributing to the development of disease.

What is Epigenetics?

Epigenetics is the study of various mechanisms that switch genes on or off.  It can be defined as heritable changes in gene expression and does not involve changes to underlying DNA sequence. This includes DNA methylation, histone modification and chromatin remodelling.

Methylation is the addition of a methyl group to another molecule.  Methyl groups are made up of one carbon and 3 hydrogen atoms.  They are required for many functions in your body.

From a nutritional perspective, Epigenetics is important as nutrients and bioactive food components or total diet can change DNA methylation modify altering gene expression.  If you don’t have enough methyl groups your body cannot respond to the nutrients, vitamins, minerals or herbs that you consume.

How does Epigenetics effect your health?

Epigenetics not only effects your health but can be passed onto your children and your grandchildren. Changes include and are not limited to an increased risk of:

  • Diabetes
  • Mood disorders
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Asthma
  • Hypertension
  • Kidney dysfunction
  • Obesity and weight issues
  • Irritable bowel disease
  • Degenerative diseases
  • Arthritis
  • Increase risk of cancer
  • Inflammation
  • Chronic disease syndrome
  • Periodontal disease
  • Age-related cognitive decline
  • Muscular disorders
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Skin changes –vitiligo, psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, eczema
  • Blood sugar irregularities
  • History of miscarriage
  • Digestive diseases
  • Pre-eclampsia
  • Kidney disease
  • Endometriosis

What can you do to support your DNA?

  • Eat a healthy diet, rich in fruit and vegetables and cold water fish and low in saturated fats, trans fats, processed foods and food additives.
  • Support immune function.
  • Aim for and maintain a healthy weight range.
  • Avoid exposure to chemicals, heavy metals, radiation and pesticides.
  • Limit consumption of alcohol, cigarettes, recreational drugs and pharmaceuticals.
  • Support liver function and detoxification.
  • Drink 1.5 to 2 litres of water daily.
  • Ensure a good night’s sleep.
  • Support antioxidant pathways.
  • Support methylation pathways.

[Read more…]

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Prevent colds photoThe immune system is one of the most important systems of the body, and your most important defender against foreign invaders such as viruses and bacteria.

It is only when you begin to feel run down or can’t shake a cold that you give the immune system the attention it deserves.

Fatigue, slow healing wounds and repeated or chronic infections are some of the signs that your immune system may not be functioning at its optimum. Herbal and nutrient supplements can help you recover faster, and improve your resistance to infections.

Here are some of the most important supplements to keep in your cupboard during winter:

Andrographis
This herb stimulates the immune system and studies have found that it reduces the severity of common cold symptoms such as sore throat, upper respiratory catarrh, bronchial cough and fever.1-4

Echinacea
Many of us have heard the name echinacea but may not be sure why it’s so popular; it has antimicrobial and antiviral activity and has been traditionally used to support immune function and provide relief of upper respiratory catarrh, sore throat and feverish conditions.3,5

Olive leaf
Olive leaf has shown to possess antibacterial activity and is used in traditional western herbal medicine for respiratory ailments such as cough and sore throat.5-7

Vitamin C
A classic remedy, vitamin C is a great addition to any immune-boosting regimen. Great for the lead up to the winter months, vitamin C taken prophylactically can help to build up immunity and ward off colds.
Numerous clinical studies support the use of vitamin C in reducing the severity and duration of colds.8-11 Vitamin C, otherwise known as ascorbic acid, acts to dampen the histamine response which includes symptoms of runny nose and watery eyes.5,11,12
Vitamin C’s role in immunity can be enhanced when combined with other potent nutrients such as vitamin E, zinc, betacarotene and rutin. Vitamin E and rutin, like vitamin C, are potent antioxidants. Antioxidants are important for immune health as they are able to protect immune cells from free radicals in the body.13

Vitamin A
Betacarotene is a precursor for vitamin A, which plays an essential role in regulating the immune system and helps the body fight off infections. It also boosts the activity of white blood cells, which defend the body from foreign substances.14

Vitamin D
Known as the sunshine vitamin, the well-researched vitamin D enhances the immune response to bacteria and viruses. Being deficient in vitamin D has been linked to recurrent infections.

Zinc
Zinc is a well known immune-support nutrient required for production of white blood cells that fight infections; its deficiency is linked to decreased immune function.15-17

Mushrooms
Mushroom extracts including reishi and shiitake have traditionally been used to stimulate and support the immune system.

Tips for a healthy immune system

  • Eat a diet high with lot’s of fresh vegetables, fruit, and whole grains, and low in simple carbohydrates
  • Also include good quality fats
  • Exercise regularly
  • Get outdoors for regular sun exposure
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Drink alcohol in moderation only
  • Don’t smoke
  • Get adequate sleep
  • Avoid/reduce stress

[Read more…]

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Here’s a healthy take on these iconic Aussie Biscuits – so dear to our hearts on our special Anzac Day of remembrance .

Anzac Biscuits PhotoIngredients

1 cup ground almonds
1 cup organic quinoa flakes (or rolled oats – if you prefer)
1 cup organic coconut desiccated
1/4 cup xylitol (or coconut sugar – if you prefer) optional
1/4 cup coconut or macadamia nut oil
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 tablespoon water [Read more…]

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MineralsWe are ultimately made of the earth. The same chemical elements found in soil make up our bodies. Our nutrition comes from plants and animals who get their food either directly or indirectly from the soil.

It is our mineral-deficient soils that are likely causing a majority of our modern health issues. Food crops grown on depleted soils produce malnourished bodies that then fall prey to all sorts of diseases. When we lack minerals, we lack vitamins, because minerals are catalysts to absorbing vitamins.

“99% of the American people are deficient in minerals, and a marked deficiency in any one of the more important minerals actually results in disease.” (source – Senate Document 264 74th Congress, 1936 [25])

Australia is no different.

How do Mineral Deficiencies occur?

  • Soil Depletion is the the number one reason that most people are mineral deficient..  Even organically grown vegetables can be lacking in minerals as organic farming addresses mainly the application of pesticides and chemicals to crops.  It is important to consume produce that has been grown via the bio-dynamic system that practices crop rotation and soil supplementation
  • Pharmaceutical Drugs – almost all drugs (if not all) deplete the body in some way of nutrients eg, Birth control pills – create excess copper in the body and deplete magnesium and zinc, along with numerous other vitamins. Copper toxicity is a primary cause of miscarriage and susceptibility to postpartum depression
  • Coffee – calcium/magnesium are lost in our urine with coffee. It’s a diuretic so causes the loss of potassium and sodium as well
  • Alcohol - speeds up the excretion of magnesium through the kidneys. It can also deplete, calcium, zinc, iron, manganese, potassium and chromium
  • Soft drink consumption – contains excess phosphorous which leads to reduced body storage of calcium because they compete for absorption in the intestines
  • Sugar - for every molecule of sugar our bodies use 54 molecules of magnesium to process it. Sugar also depletes magnesium, potassium and robs your bones of minerals in general
  • Stress- depletes magnesium and B vitamins
  • The Standard Western Diet – the typical diet of minimal fresh foods, higher amounts of refined and processed foods, foods grown on poor/depleted soils, excess phosphorous in these foods depletes calcium and has been shown to cause bone loss.
  • Pregnancy – if mother is already low in mineral stores she will become further depleted as her body uses significant nutrients to build a healthy baby. Iron is one common mineral deficiency in pregnant and breastfeeding women. [Read more…]

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Vitamin bI cannot, I cannot… And discovering the benefits of B Vitamins

The very discovery of the B-vitamins is a story of fatigue itself. The disease “Beri-beri” comes from a Sinhalese phrase, from the people of Sri Lanka and it means “I cannot, I cannot”.  It relates to severe weakness and total exhaustion. This ‘incurable’ condition was found to be simply a deficiency of thiamine (B1). Eating whole brown rice, instead of polished white rice, was enough to effect a remarkable cure, another sound reason for sticking to wholegrains rather than refined foods!

Pellagra is another condition of fatigue which results from a niacin (vitamin B3) deficiency. Niacin deficiency results in (among other things) weakness and lassitude.

Why does Fatigue happen?

In your body, food must be broken down into simple molecules like glucose, and in your cells, the energy must be released from glucose. A major part of this rather complex process is called the citric acid or Krebs cycle. This entire, complicated energy-releasing pathway grinds to a total halt without the B-complex vitamins. Your body, without enough B-vitamins is doomed to exhaustion!

The four B-vitamins most involved with our cellular energy cycle are thiamine (B1), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5) and riboflavin (B2). The first two are the most difficult to obtain from diet.

B Vitamins and Chronic fatigue

Scientific research indicates, over and over again, that B-complex (and other) vitamin deficiencies weaken immunity.

Clinical trials have shown that high dose B Vitamins can play significant part in Chronic Fatigue recovery. They help stimulate the immune system, glands, and digestive tract, and they can help stabilize and relax mood. They also promote good circulation of blood and oxygen to your entire body, a necessity for high energy and vitality. [Read more…]

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Woman feeding kids with vegetablesGreat ideas for good nutrition are usually simple.

To follow up on this important topic of Feeding Fussy Eaters, Nutritionist Karen Ball shares more smart and simple ways to make food fun. Meal times really can be a pleasure rather than a battlefield…

  • Involve kids in the process: from grocery shopping, growing your own food in the garden, choosing the veggies for dinner, or helping out in the kitchen.  Talk to your children about where food comes from and appeal to their natural inquisitive nature.
  • Flower eggsMake food fun:  What toddler doesn’t want to try a ‘green monster smoothie’ or a star shaped sandwich?  Think outside the square… normal oats can become ‘princess pink porridge’ with the addition of frozen berries stirred through, chopped up fruit can be displayed as a colourful rainbow, or eggs can be fried in a capsicum slice ‘flower’.
  • Don’t offer junk or processed foods full of rubbish:  A child will only eat those foods if they are available and on offer.  Be creative – hamburgers, chicken nuggets and oven chips can all be made home-made relatively easily and still be full of nutrition without all the nasty preservatives and additives.
  • Encourage independence: allow your child to help in the kitchen with preparation, to serve some of their own meal at the table, and to use utensils by themselves.  Taking ownership and responsibility of their meal helps them to foster healthy eating habits from an early age.
  • Be persistent: new flavours and tastes may take up to 10 times of trying until they are accepted, so gently offer new foods to your child at meal times in a non-forceful manner and encourage them to try.  A star sticker chart for ‘trying’ may be a good incentive, with a small treat (non-food based), outing or special mummy or daddy time after 10 stars have been achieved.  There are some great templates on the internet to print out and use.  This method of positive reinforcement may also be used for doing simple tasks around the house, getting ready in the morning, or spending each night in bed.
  • Be consistent: if a child rejects food or plays up, calmly remove the food from the table and announce the end of the meal.  Do not offer alternatives or snacks after the meal else your child may associate bad behaviour with alternative options and parents ‘giving in’.

Remember that no child will ever choose to starve themselves, and given the right foods and positive environment they will develop healthy and long lasting eating habits. [Read more…]

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Research continues to conclude that the foundation of memory, concentration, and clarity resides in the pineal gland.Pineal Gland

This small, pine cone-shaped gland drives your sleeping habits, emotions, and even spiritual awareness. Considering that the pineal gland stops growing early in childhood, it is easy to understand why the majority of adult individuals feel stunted both mentally and spiritually.

However, another reason for those feelings may be the fact that the pineal gland is constantly under the negative influence of calcification.

What is Calcification?

Calcification is a term for the collection of calcium phosphate crystals in different areas of the body. And one of those prime areas is the pineal gland. Medical professionals are not sure whether calcification is the cause or effect of the pineal gland’s halted growth. Nevertheless, researchers have identified a number of foods, toxins, and activities that cause calcification.

Major causes of Calcification—know your risk!

One theory behind the pineal gland’s vulnerability to calcification is that the pineal gland is filled with water. Such water-filled structures naturally attract salts like calcium phosphate. Those salts build up and calcify the structure they are surrounding.  On the other hand, several other agents appear to accelerate this calcification process. These agents include:

  • Processed foods
  • Carbonated drinks like soda
  • Refined sugar, poor quality fat and refined carbohydrates
  • Fluoride
  • Lack of faith
  • Limited spiritual practice

Among this list of causes, fluoride is the worst. What was once deemed essential to avoiding tooth decay and ensuring overall dental health has now been labeled a toxin. As a matter of fact, fluoride was a former active ingredient in rat poison!

Calcification is reversible… Here’s how you can decalcify

Unfortunately, fluoride has been added to a great number of foods and everyday items such as toothpaste, drinking water, processed foods, carbonated drinks, non-stick cooking pans, and even wine. With this high intake of fluoride, it may seem impossible to prevent or reverse calcification; but, it is possible. You can decalcify your pineal gland for better wellbeing, cognition and spiritual health in three stages:

Step 1: Adjust your diet and hygiene

  • Avoid all processed foods and carbonated drinks
  • Eat fresh organic foods and drink organic wine
  • Take shorter showers or baths to limit fluoride absorption from the water
  • Switch to a fluoride-free toothpaste and limit fluoride gel treatments at the dentist’s office
  • Do not take calcium supplements which are poorly absorbed and introduce even more calcium phosphate into your system that can later be used in calcification

[Read more…]

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Chocolate Bars PhotoHaving enjoyed the many delights of the Easter long weekend, not the least of which would have been the emphasis on ….yes you’ve guessed it CHOCOLATE!!! Now is the time to take stock and discover that, if Chocolate is something you absolutely love and must have, you are not a self-indulgent so and so who totally lacks self-control. No indeed you are one of those who know good brain food when they see and taste it!

Seriously and simply Chocolate makes your brain work better. Chocolate contains flavonols and it is these that appear to bring sharpness and clarity to your ability to think and promote concentration.

Study confirms Chocolate as Brain food

The information comes as a result of a well-controlled double-blind study from the University of L’Aquila in Italy, where they were able to establish a connection between the consumption of Chocolate and heightened cognitive ability. [Read more…]

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Screen fatigue imageWhether you’re a pilot, student, night driver or spend a lot of time in front of your computer or doing close work, if you suffer with eye strain then you might want to take a closer look at the benefits of Bilberries.

Are you suffering Screen Fatigue?

In today’s fast paced world, we are all becoming increasingly more reliant on computers and mobile devices than ever before, all of which places stress on our eyes. This unnatural activity, of constantly looking at screens can cause eye fatigue and eyestrain, as well as headaches in some individuals.

The good news is that clinical trials have shown that Bilberry can help reduce these symptoms. Bilberry has been used for centuries as a traditional medicine. In World War II pilots used bilberries as a tonic to aid visual acuity (sharpness) and to improve the eyes’ adjustment to both dark conditions and glare. In more recent times, research into this special berry 
has revealed that the biologically active components – the anthocyanosides hold the key to its beneficial eye health effects.

Antioxidants from Bilberries bring relief

Bilberries Photo

The anthocyanosides in Bilberries are powerful antioxidants that have been shown to increase the strength and reduce the permeability of the capillaries and in this way bilberry helps to reduce damage to the microcirculation of the eye. Anthocyanosides also help you to see in dim light.

According to results of a recent small study published in Biomedical Research, Bilberry works best for eyestrain when combined with fish oil and lutein. After four weeks of supplementation eyestrain and mental fatigue were significantly improved. [Read more…]

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