Toxins enter the body through what we eat, drink, breathe in, and process in any way. Once inside, toxins overtax our immune system and detoxification system and leave us more vulnerable to illness — not ideal during cold and flu season, and especially not this year during a pandemic — and make us age a little faster, too.
1. Source Your Food Wisely<p>Try to stay away from packaged and processed foods that contain ingredients you can't pronounce, and instead reach for fresh food from natural sources. Aim to make vegetables more than 50% of your daily diet — their fiber is a great natural binder, and they're full of beneficial <a href="https://vitalplan.com/blog/the-case-of-the-missing-phytochemicals-and-how-to-get-them-back" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" style="">phytochemicals</a> — and minimize your red meat consumption.</p><p>Also, whenever practical, choose <a href="https://vitalplan.com/blog/how-to-eat-organic-without-spending-a-fortune" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">organic</a> over conventional products. That said, we know organic prices and accessibility can be an issue, so for help making strategic decisions, refer to the <a href="https://www.ewg.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Environmental Working Group</a> (EWG) "Dirty Dozen" and "Clean Fifteen" lists:</p><h3>The Dirty Dozen:</h3><ol><li>Strawberries</li><li>Spinach</li><li>Kale</li><li>Nectarines</li><li>Apples</li><li>Grapes</li><li>Peaches</li><li>Cherries</li><li>Pears</li><li>Tomatoes</li><li>Celery</li><li>Potatoes</li><li>Raisins*</li></ol><p><em>(*While raisins aren't technically a fresh food, the EWG found that they are "one of the dirtiest produce commodities on the market — and even some organic raisins are contaminated.")</em></p><h3>The Clean Fifteen</h3><ol><li>Avocado</li><li>Sweet corn</li><li>Pineapple</li><li>Onion</li><li>Papaya</li><li>Frozen sweet peas</li><li>Eggplant</li><li>Asparagus</li><li>Cauliflower</li><li>Cantaloupe</li><li>Broccoli</li><li>Mushrooms</li><li>Cabbage</li><li>Honeydew</li><li>Kiwi</li></ol>
2. Consider Detoxifying and Immune-Boosting Herbs<p>There are a number of herbs and natural ingredients that can help support detoxification and immune health. Here are the ones at the top of Dr. Rawls' list:</p><p><span></span><strong>Chlorella:</strong> This nutrient-rich freshwater algae binds to toxins so they can be eliminated from your body more efficiently. Chlorella works particularly well for withdrawing heavy metals. Pure chlorella can be purchased in the form of bulk powder, tablets, or capsules.</p><p><strong><a href="https://vitalplan.com/ingredients/milk-thistle" target="_blank">Milk Thistle</a>:</strong> It's been used for thousands of years to support a healthy liver, the primary organ responsible for detoxification.</p><p><strong>Dandelion:</strong> Known to help support liver function, research suggests <a href="https://vitalplan.com/ingredients/dandelion-extract" target="_blank">dandelion</a> helps promote the body's natural detoxification and elimination processes.</p><p><strong>Bitters:</strong> <a href="https://vitalplan.com/blog/the-impressive-health-benefits-of-bitter-foods" target="_blank">Bitter</a> flavors are important to digestion — they stimulate the release of the saliva, enzymes, and bile that help break down your food. Include bitter herbs and foods in each meal, or take a botanical extract that blends bitter herbs like dandelion root, burdock root, orange peel, and gentian root</p><p><strong>Reishi mushroom:</strong> An extensively studied adaptogenic mushroom, <a href="https://vitalplan.com/ingredients/reishi" target="_blank">reishi</a> has exceptional immunomodulating and antiviral properties. It helps normalize <a href="https://vitalplan.com/blog/are-you-inflammaging-how-to-stop-the-inflammation-that-speeds-up-aging" target="_blank">inflammatory</a> cytokines and promotes healthy immune response against threatening <a href="https://vitalplan.com/blog/the-immortal-life-of-your-microbiome" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">microbes</a>.</p><p><strong>Rhodiola:</strong> Another adaptogen, <a href="https://vitalplan.com/ingredients/rhodiola" target="_blank">rhodiola</a> improves stress tolerance by reducing fatigue, supporting energy levels, and improving tissue oxygenation.</p><p><span></span><strong><a href="https://vitalplan.com/ingredients/turmeric" target="_blank">Turmeric</a>:</strong> This popular spice is well loved for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.</p><p><strong>Shilajit:</strong> An herbo-mineral adaptogen, <a href="https://vitalplan.com/ingredients/shilajit" target="_blank">shilajit</a> has a long history of use in traditional Indian medicine for longevity and strength. It's also an immunomodulator with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral properties.</p><p><strong>Gotu Kola:</strong> Best known for improving memory and mood, <a href="https://vitalplan.com/ingredients/gotu-kola" target="_blank">gotu kola</a> is also great for promoting a normal response to inflammation, balancing stress hormones, and supporting circulation.</p>
3. Filter Your Water<p>Much of America's tap water has been shown to contain pollutants, so filtering what comes out of your kitchen sink is smart. To be sure you're using a filter that does the trick, keep these guidelines in mind:</p><ul><li>Look for a filter certified by NSF International or the Water Quality Association.</li><li>Choose one that removes the contaminants in your water (check your local drinking water quality report to see what's present).</li><li>Change your water filters on time.</li></ul>
4. Choose Safe and Effective Cleaning Supplies<p>When buying household cleaning products, don't bring home chemicals that could harm your health more than some of the microbes you're trying to get rid of. Fortunately, there are a number of products on the market that work safely; here are some ways to shop wisely:</p><ul><li>Look for the Green Seal, Ecologo, or Safer Choice (EPA) seals.</li><li>Opt for fragrance-free options.</li><li>Avoid triclosan and quaternary ammonium compounds or "quats." (One tactic is to choose products that don't advertise as "antibacterial.")</li><li>Consult the EWG's list of <a href="https://www.ewg.org/news-and-analysis/2020/03/16-effective-and-safe-products-guard-against-coronavirus" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">safe and effective products</a> for guarding against coronavirus.</li></ul>
5. Opt for Non-Toxic Beauty and Personal Care Products<p>There are a lot of claims made on beauty and self-care products these days, but words alone, like "natural," "organic," "non-toxic," "clean," "green," and "eco-friendly," don't mean a thing — they aren't backed by any sort of regulatory or certification processes. Instead, to find non-toxic products you trust, you have to do a little research.</p><p>Start by checking reputable ratings databases like <a href="https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Skin Deep</a> (EWG) and <a href="https://www.thinkdirtyapp.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Think Dirty</a>. Another good bet: Look for reliable third-party certifications on products labels, including:</p><ul><li>USDA Organic</li><li>EWG Verified</li><li>Made Safe</li><li>NSF/ANSI 305</li><li>Natural Products Association Certified</li><li>Whole Foods Market Premium Body Care</li></ul>
6. Get Outside<p>One more reason to <a href="https://vitalplan.com/blog/how-to-feel-great-and-boost-longevity-in-just-17-minutes-a-day" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" style="">get outdoors</a> beyond combatting cabin fever: The air in natural environments is generally much cleaner than indoor air. For one, outdoor air contains ⅔ less carbon dioxide, high levels of which negatively affect our productivity, <a href="https://vitalplan.com/blog/natural-sleep-aids" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" style="">sleep</a>, and more.</p><p>Forest air in particular contains phytoncides, organic compounds emitted by trees and plants that have been shown to boost our immune system function, plus plants in general help neutralize toxic substances in the air. Forests, open spaces, and open water are also rich in negative ions, which reduce inflammation.</p><p>So take your pick of natural environs, and get out there as often as possible — while still maintaining at least 6 feet of distance between yourself and others, of course.</p>
7. Bring Nature Indoors<p>Plants are natural air purifiers, so bringing some plants indoors can help clear the air in your home. Here's a list of the top 10 air-purifying plants to consider:</p><ul><li>Areca palm</li><li>Lady palm</li><li>Bamboo palm</li><li>Rubber plant</li><li>Dracaena</li><li>English ivy</li><li>Dwarf date palm</li><li>Ficus</li><li>Boston fern</li><li>Peace lily</li></ul>
8. Drive Less, Move More<p>Staying off the roads decreases air pollution, and the fact that many of us are driving less these days is noticeably improving air quality. If your commute is on hold, try to translate some of your usual travel time into getting more physical activity, or sneak in more movement between other normal routines.</p><p>Exercise improves circulation, oxygenates your tissues, and enhances the work of the lymphatic system through muscle contractions — all of which make it easier to move toxins out of your body.</p>
9. Practice Forgiveness<p>Through the practice of gratitude, we stay centered and in the present moment. This allows us to move through situations from our heart. Take time to forgive someone or yourself for things in the past. When we forgive, we expand and open up to endless possibilities.</p>
10. Quit a Bad Habit<p>Are you a smoker? Pack rat? Chronically sleep-deprived? In a bad relationship? Toxins come into our lives in many forms. Consider if you're participating in any unhealthy patterns or holding onto anything that no longer serves you, and then find a way to limit those things in your life.</p>
- 15 Supplements to Boost Your Immune System Right Now - EcoWatch ›
- The Immune System's Fight Against the Coronavirus - EcoWatch ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
For many people, the holidays are rich with time-honored traditions like decorating the Christmas tree, lighting the menorah, caroling, cookie baking, and sipping from the unity cup. But there's another unofficial, official holiday tradition that spans all ages and beliefs and gives people across the world hope for a better tomorrow: the New Year's resolution.
Benefits of Chamomile Tea<p><strong>Sleep More Soundly</strong></p><p>Pick your grandmother's brain about the best way to fall asleep, and she might tell you to down a nice glass of warm milk. But if you consult with science, research shows that chamomile might be a better option. That's because it contains an antioxidant called apigenin, which can <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2995283/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">promote sleepiness and reduce insomnia and other sleep problems</a>.</p><p>Two research studies even confirmed the power of chamomile throughout the day and before bed. In one of those studies, postpartum women who drank chamomile for two weeks <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26483209" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">experienced better sleep quality than the control group who didn't</a>. Another research effort measured how fast people could fall asleep. Those results illustrated that participants who consumed 270 milligrams of chamomile extract twice daily for 28 days <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3198755/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">fell asleep 15 minutes faster than the control</a>. The chamomile group also had considerably fewer sleep disruptions. </p><p><strong>May Be Able to Keep Your Gut Healthy</strong></p><p>Though the following studies used rats as the subjects, research shows that chamomile can potentially play a beneficial role in digestive health. According to that research, the anti-inflammatory properties in <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24463157" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">chamomile extract may be able to protect against diarrhea</a>. Additionally, chamomile may be an effective way to <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4177631/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">stop the growth of bacteria in our stomachs that contribute to ulcers</a>.</p><p><strong>Reduces Stress and Anxiety</strong></p><p>Few things are more relaxing than curling up with a good cup of tea, so it's logical that chamomile tea can serve a stress reducer. While it lacks the potency of a pharmaceutical drug, long-term use of chamomile has been shown to <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27912875" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">"significantly" reduce general anxiety disorders</a>. In general, chamomile can act almost like a sedative, and many people enjoy the tea because it puts them in a calm and relaxed state almost immediately. </p><p><strong>Boosts Immune Health</strong></p><p>Vitamin C and zinc are common over-the-counter supplements that people often turn to when they're hoping to avoid becoming sick. While scientists admit that more research must take place to prove chamomile's impact on preventing ailments like the common cold, the existing studies do show promise in this area. </p><p>One study had 14 participants drink five cups of the tea every day for two consecutive weeks. Throughout the study, researchers collected daily urine samples and tested the contents before and after the consumption of the tea. Drinking chamomile resulted in a significant increase in the levels of hippurate and glycine, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2995283/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">both of which are known to increase antibacterial activity</a>. Inhaling steam from a pot of freshly brewed chamomile tea may also ease the symptoms of nasal congestion.</p><p><strong>Minimizes Menstrual Cramps</strong></p><p>This one may come as a surprise, particularly to readers who have tried every possible over-the-counter treatment to reduce period pain. Several research studies have proven that chamomile tea may be able to minimize the pain and cramps that occur during menstruation. Women in that same study also dealt with lower levels of anxiety that they typically felt because of menstrual cramps.</p><p><strong>Help Diabetes and Lower Blood Sugar</strong></p><p>For people with diabetes, regulating blood sugar levels can be a matter of life or death. And while chamomile will never replace prescription-strength drugs, it's believed that it can prevent an increase in blood sugar. A 2008 study on rats showed that chamomile could have a <a href="https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jf8014365" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">moderate impact on the long-term risk of diabetes</a>.</p><p><strong>Might Improve Your Skin</strong></p><p>Ever wondered why there's been an influx of chamomile-infused cosmetic products? The reason why so many manufacturers now include chamomile in their lotions, soaps, and creams is because it <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5074766/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">acts as an anti-inflammatory on our skin</a>. That means it may be able to soothe the puffiness that plagues us as we age. Those same anti-inflammatory properties can be vital in restoring skin health after we've received a sunburn. </p><p>Before discarding your used chamomile tea bags, try chilling them and placing them over your eyes. Not only will this help with the puffiness, but it can drastically light the skin color around the eye.</p><p><strong>Help With Heart Health</strong></p><p>Some of the most beneficial antioxidants we put into our bodies are what are known as flavones, and chamomile tea is chock full of them. Flavones have the potential to lower both blood pressure and cholesterol levels, which, when elevated, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4814348/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">can lead to heart disease</a>.</p>
Why Everyone Is Drinking Chamomile Tea<p>Now that you know so much about the wonders of chamomile, it shouldn't come as a surprise why the tea is so popular with people of all ages. In addition to tasting great, chamomile offers up benefits that boost the health of body parts both inside and out. As you ponder your own New Year's resolutions, think about how healthy and natural vitamins, supplements, plants, and oils can help guide you on your own personal path to improvement. Happy New Year!</p>
Like many other plant-based foods and products, CBD oil is one dietary supplement where "organic" labels are very important to consumers. However, there are little to no regulations within the hemp industry when it comes to deeming a product as organic, which makes it increasingly difficult for shoppers to find the best CBD oil products available on the market.
Charlotte's Web<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDcwMjk3NS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0MzQ0NjM4N30.SaQ85SK10-MWjN3PwHo2RqpiUBdjhD0IRnHKTqKaU7Q/img.jpg?width=980" id="84700" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a2174067dcc0c4094be25b3472ce08c8" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="charlottes web cbd oil" data-width="1244" data-height="1244" /><p>Perhaps one of the most well-known brands in the CBD landscape, Charlotte's Web has been growing sustainable hemp plants for several years. The company is currently in the process of achieving official USDA Organic Certification, but it already practices organic and sustainable cultivation techniques to enhance the overall health of the soil and the hemp plants themselves, which creates some of the highest quality CBD extracts. Charlotte's Web offers CBD oils in a range of different concentration options, and some even come in a few flavor options such as chocolate mint, orange blossom, and lemon twist.</p>
- Best CBD Oils of 2020: Reviews & Buying Guide - EcoWatch ›
- Best CBD Oil for Pain Management - Top 10 CBD Oil Review 2020 ... ›
- Best CBD for Dogs 2020 - Organic CBD Oil for Pets - EcoWatch ›
- Full Spectrum CBD Oil: What To Know - EcoWatch ›
- Charlotte's Web: A Review of the Certified B Corp CBD Brand ›
- Best CBD Waters: Plus All You Need to Know - EcoWatch ›
- The Best Water Soluble CBD Available Online - EcoWatch ›
- Best CBD for Sleep (Lab-Tested, Person-Tested Oils) - EcoWatch ›
- CBD Oil for Dogs: 7 Benefits & Treatment Guide - EcoWatch ›
- NuLeaf Naturals CBD Review | Are They Worth The Cost? - EcoWatch ›
- Best CBD Capsules & Pills - Buyer's Guide (Update for 2021) - EcoWatch ›
- Because Price Matters: Most Affordable CBD Oils of 2021 - EcoWatch ›
- Strongest CBD Oils to Buy in 2021? - EcoWatch ›
- Best CBD Oils For Pain: Top 3 Brands of 2021 - EcoWatch ›
- Best CBD Vape Pen: Top Brands of 2020 - EcoWatch ›
1. Support White Blood Cells and Strengthen Immunity<p>Although much about echinacea's effects on the body are not yet fully understood, it clearly supports the function of white blood cells. The herb supports white blood cells in two primary ways:</p><ol><li>Affects macrophages (a type of white blood cell)</li><li>Activates dendritic cells (another type of white blood cell)</li></ol><p>Macrophages are white blood cells that destroy forgeign substances and dead cells in the blood. </p><p>Once activated, they release inflammatory cytokines and recruit other white blood cells to eliminate infections.</p><p>By increasing macrophage activity, echinacea can <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10978684" target="_blank">boost natural killer cells</a> in a way that minimizes irritation from inflammation.</p><p>Dendritic cells are white blood cells that help the body recognize foreign molecules. <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20149833" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Echinacea may optimize dendritic function</a> and increase the release of immune molecules like IL-1beta and TNF-alpha.</p><p>Plus, it also increases antioxidants and supports cell structure.</p><p>In a 2007 rodent study published in the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17887935" target="_blank"><em>Journal of Medicinal Food</em></a>, mice were treated with echinacea extract for seven days before being immunized with the red blood cells of sheep.</p><p>Researchers found that echinacea effectively increased immune cell populations.</p><p>According to the study's authors, "These findings demonstrate that echinacea is a wide-spectrum immunomodulator that modulates both innate and adaptive immune responses."</p><p>In a similar <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12810361" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">rodent trial</a>, echinacea significantly increased total white blood cell counts within the first two weeks of administration.</p>
2. Fight Infection<p>Echinacea can fight viral, bacterial, and fungal infections.</p><p>In a 2014 study published in the journal <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24252333" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Phytomedicine</em></a>, researchers found that the alkamides in echinacea can treat fungal infections by destroying fungal cell walls.</p><p>Other infections that echinacea may be able to treat include:</p><ul><li>Influenza</li><li>Herpes</li><li>Rhinovirus</li><li>Typhoid</li><li>Vaginal yeast infections</li><li>Urinary tract infections </li><li>Syphilis</li><li>Malaria</li><li>Gum disease</li></ul><p>Here's what the research has to say about echinacea's ability to fight infections:</p><ul><li>In a <a href="http://news.uconn.edu/2007/June/rel07056.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">meta-analysis of 14 clinical trials</a>, researchers concluded that echinacea may cut the chance of catching a cold in half.</li><li>On a similar note, a <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19409931" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2009 laboratory study</a> concluded that echinacea can alleviate respiratory disorders by inhibiting viral growth and cytokine production.</li><li>Similarly, a <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25784510" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2015 meta-analysis</a> concluded that echinacea may reduce the risk of recurrent upper respiratory tract infections through its antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and immunomodulatory effects. </li><li>A 2010 study published in <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20036523" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Phytomedicine</em></a> found that echinacea may exert antibacterial properties against <em>C. difficile</em>, <em>S pyogenes</em>, <em>H. influenzae</em>, and <em>P. acne</em>.</li><li>In a separate <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20731557" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2010 study</a>, researchers determined that echinacea can kill parasites in human cells.</li></ul>
3. Reduce Inflammation<p>Echinacea may also reduce certain types of inflammation. For example, a 2009 laboratory study in the journal <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19107735" target="_blank"><em>Phytotherapy Research</em></a> found that echinacea consumption can alleviate inflammation caused by a viral infection.</p><p>According to a <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12396300/" target="_blank">2002 study</a>, echinacea extracts can reduce inflammation in rats through oral and topical use.</p><p>Human studies have also been promising. In a <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14530514" target="_blank">small pilot study</a>, a three-day echinacea treatment effectively reduced inflammation in six patients exhibiting cold and flu symptoms.</p>
4. Support Mental Health<p>Echinacea may reduce anxiety and depression.</p><p>In a 2013 study published in the journal <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22451347" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Phytotherapy Research</em></a>, researchers tested the anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) potential of <em>Echinacea angustifolia</em> extract on rats <em>and</em> humans.</p><p>The herb effectively decreased anxiety-related behaviors in rats at doses ranging from 1000 to 3000 mg/kg of body weight.</p><p>At the same time, healthy adults with mild anxiety were given 20-40 mg of echinacea extract once-a-day for a week. The higher dose of 40 mg effectively reduced anxiety after just three days of treatment. The lower 20 mg dose, however, did not have any significant effects on anxiety.</p><p>According to a <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4441164/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2015 report</a>, echinacea may achieve its anti-anxiety effects by acting on cannabinoid receptors in the body.</p><p>This same study concluded that echinacea extract may exert antidepressant effects in rats by stimulating L-DOPA (the amino acid precursor to dopamine).</p>
5. Heal the Skin<p><em>Echinacea purpurea</em> cream may protect the skin from oxidative stress and reduce signs of aging by hydrating the skin and reducing wrinkles.</p><p>Here's what the research has to say about echinacea and skin health:</p><ul><li>In a <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20384903" target="_blank">2010 human study</a>, echinacea cream was tested on 10 healthy volunteers aged 25-40 years. After one month of daily treatment, wrinkles decreased between 9.47% and 14.92%. </li><li><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8117383" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Another study</a> found that echinacea can inhibit the breakdown of hyaluronic acid (an important part of skin cells). When hyaluronic acid breaks down, it causes the tissue to loosen and become inflamed. </li><li>According to a study published in the journal <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8824943" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Planta Medica</em></a>, echinacea can protect collagen from free radical damage caused by UVA/UVB radiation. In other words, echinacea may help protect your skin from the sun. </li><li>In a 2011 study published in the journal <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20830697" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Phytotherapy Research</em></a>, echinacea reversed inflammation induced by the bacteria <em>P. acnes</em>. </li><li>According to a <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28610718" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2017 study</a>, echinacea may treat atopic eczema. In the study, 49 patients were treated with topical echinacea for three months. Echinacea significantly reduced redness and swelling by interacting with cannabinoid receptors in the skin.</li></ul>
6. May Relieve Asthma<p>Echinacea's effects on the immune system may also relieve asthma.</p><p>Recent studies indicate that echinacea preparations can reverse the secretions of asthma-related cytokines in bronchial cells.</p><p>In a 2015 animal study published in the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26364938" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Journal of Ethnopharmacology</em></a>, researchers treated guinea pigs suffering from ovalbumin-induced allergic asthma with an oral echinacea complex for 14 days.</p><p>Echinacea proved to be equally effective at reducing symptoms as the corticosteroid medication budesonide.</p><p>According to the study's authors, "Pharmacodynamic studies have confirmed significant bronchodilatory and anti-inflammatory effects of echinacea complex that was similar to effects of classic synthetic drugs. These results provide a scientific basis for the application of this herb in traditional medicine as a supplementary treatment of allergic disorders of the airways, such as asthma."</p>
7. May Reduce Pain<p>Many Native American tribes, including the Lakota, used echinacea as a <a href="https://www.remedyreview.com/remedies/natural-pain-remedies/" target="_blank">pain remedy</a>.</p><p>It appears to be most effective at reducing pain associated with intestinal issues, herpes, measles, headaches, toothaches, tonsillitis, and sore throats.</p><p>A 2008 study published in the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18258644" target="_blank"><em>American Journal of Clinical Nutrition</em></a> indicates that echinacea extract may influence the perception of pain by inhibiting the TRPV1 receptor: a receptor that's the prime target of many over-the-counter analgesic and anti-inflammatory drugs.</p><p><em>E. purpurea</em> extracts seem to have the strongest anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects, with <em>E. angustifolia</em> having somewhat less.</p>
Side Effects of Echinacea<p>Although rare, high doses of echinacea may lead to side effects like:</p><ul><li>Dizziness</li><li>Nausea</li><li>Stomach aches</li><li>Rash</li></ul><p>Side effects are more common among people who have seasonal allergies.</p><p>Patients with autoimmune diseases <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16102249" target="_blank">may also be more likely to experience side effects</a>.</p><p>Due to their pharmacological similarities, if you're allergic to chamomile, you may also be allergic to echinacea. </p><p>Because of echinacea's effects on the immune system, it's best to consult a medical professional before taking echinacea if you have a history of systemic diseases like multiple sclerosis, AIDS, or tuberculosis.</p><p>However, for the vast majority of individuals, echinacea products can be a safe and effective way to stimulate the immune system and enhance your health.</p><p>Echinacea is commercially available in several forms, including alcohol tinctures, water-based liquid extracts, teas, tablets, and capsules.</p><p>Always inspect your dietary supplements thoroughly, as many do not disclose which type of echinacea they use. </p><p>For the most part, herbal supplements made from <em>E. purpurea</em> are typically your best bet for potential health and wellness benefits.</p>
Growing vegetables successfully takes ample dedication and a fair bit of growing space—plus the knowledge to do it right. And once they run out, you have to plant them again! No so with perennial herbs!
Annual herbs like basil and dill must be planted anew each year, but most other commonly used herbs qualify as perennials. They will go dormant where winters are cold, only to perk back up again each spring.
By Michelle Schoffro Cook
Most people either think herbal medicines are useless or use them in the same way as drugs.
I can't tell you how many times I've been asked over the past 25 years since I first started in the natural health field, "What is the best herb for headaches?"
My answer is always the same, "That depends on whether your headaches are a symptom of stress, neck tension or misalignment, anxiety, excessive radiation from computer work or television, liver problems, gallbladder problems, blood sugar fluctuations, neurotoxic chemicals in your food, head trauma, chemicals in your home or office or other factor."
I think you get the point.
To help aid in the understanding of herbal medicines, here are 10 things you need to know about these powerful but misunderstood natural healers.
1. Herbal medicines work.
Just ask the billion-dollar pharmaceutical companies that are getting rich scouring the Earth for new plant compounds they can extract, synthesize, patent and then manufacture into so-called "wonder drugs."
There are thousands of studies documenting the efficacy of herbal medicines from around the globe for many common or serious health conditions. I pour through dozens of studies every day so I'm always amazed when someone who has no training or background in herbal medicines says, "They don't work," or "I don't believe in herbs."
Believe in herbs? People were more knowledgeable about the medicinal potency of herbs in the Dark Ages than in modern times if they are still uttering these ignorant words.
2. Herbal medicines tend to be safer than pharmaceuticals.
In the process of separating out plant compounds from the essential nutrients and other beneficial substances found naturally alongside the original compound in plants and then attempting to re-create these naturally occurring compounds in the laboratory—the list of side effects tends to grow. When used correctly in the correct form, most herbal medicines have an extensive history of safety.
3. Herbal medicines tend to be an affordable option.
As we keep watching greedy corporate pharmaceutical executives drive the price of their products up, it is good to know there are readily available natural options that tend to be much less expensive than their drug counterparts. Every human being on the planet has a right to health regardless of their income status.
4. Herbal medicine is the ultimate in sustainable medicine.
It is a local option that is readily available to people around the world, no matter how remote their communities may be. While some of the indigenous wisdom of herbal use may have been lost in some places, the plants still exist. Only in relatively recent times have we lost touch with these ancient healing agents in favor of drugs.
5. Most herbs contain dozens and sometimes hundreds of healing compounds.
These compounds tend to work best and cause the fewest side effects when used in synergy. As a result it is almost always better to take herbal medicines that use the whole, medicinal parts of the plant, such as teas or tinctures (alcohol extracts) rather than a single compound isolated in a laboratory.
6. Herbal medicines and pharmaceuticals may interact.
After all, they are both medicines. So, it's important to check with your doctor or qualified herbalist before taking both.
7. Herbs used in cooking retain their benefits.
Many people classify herbs as either culinary or medicinal, but in reality there is a tremendous amount of crossover. In other words, many of the herbs we regularly use for cooking also have great healing properties and vice versa.
8. Herbs should not be used in the same way drugs are used.
In the pharmaceutical world, the idea is to take this drug for this symptom. Herbs work on a holistic level: they strengthen the body from the inside out. So, they may take longer to notice the improvement of symptoms, but that is simply because they are going to the source of the problem first, not just slapping a Band-Aid-type solution to a symptom or set of symptoms.
12 Ways This Incredibly Healthy Medicinal Herb Benefits Your Body and Brain https://t.co/MoyOWPm3rq @naturallysavvy @Healthy_Child— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1464990323.0
9. Always make sure you are using the correct plant.
There are a variety of herbs referred to as oregano, for example, so always make sure that you know the scientific name of the plant you are interested in using for medicinal purposes. That way, you'll ensure greater efficacy and safety.
10. Always be sure to use the correct part of the plant.
Some plant parts may be toxic if used internally. For some plants the roots are the medicinal part while for others it may be the leaves, flowers or seeds. It is best to refer to a reputable guidebook or site that indicates the correct part of the plant to use prior to using herbal medicines.
This article was reposted with permission from our media associate Care2.
Herbs have long been held in high esteem for natural hair care. Throughout history, herbs and other botanicals have been used in all kinds of hair-care products, from hair rinses and deep-conditioning treatments to remedies for dandruff, hair loss and other scalp problems.
Herbs appropriate for all hair types include lavender, chamomile, nettle, rose and rosemary. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock
Rinses and conditioners are the best ways to bring the benefits of herbs to your hair. Many commercial shampoos tout the benefits of the herbs they contain. Although these herbal shampoos smell wonderful (and can lift your mood), they do little to truly improve hair health because they remain on your hair for just a short time.
For more lasting benefits, select herbal rinses and deep conditioners, which are left on your hair for a longer period of time and are therefore better able to coat and penetrate the hair shaft. Dry hair benefits from oil- and protein-rich deep-conditioning treatments.
You can use an herbal tea, or infusion, as a simple homemade hair rinse. Nettle, considered appropriate for all hair types, is one good choice. Or experiment with calendula, rosemary, sage or other herbs. Adding vinegar or lemon juice to the infusion will help restore your hair's natural pH. The vinegar scent dissipates quickly and will not remain in your hair.
Simple Herbal Hair Rinse
1 teaspoon dried herb or handful of fresh herbs*
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
*Herbs traditionally used for treating dry hair include calendula, comfrey leaf and root and marshmallow root. Herbs appropriate for all hair types include chamomile, lavender, nettle, rose and rosemary. Scalp irritations can be soothed with calendula, comfrey or German chamomile, while dandruff can be helped with burdock, sage, nettle or rosemary.
Place the herb or herbs in a bowl and pour 1 cup of boiling water over the top. Add the vinegar or lemon juice and steep, covered, for 10 to 15 minutes. Strain, let the infusion cool to a comfortable temperature, and pour it through freshly shampooed hair. (Makes enough for one use.)
Moisturizing Deep-Conditioning Treatment
½ avocado (mashed), 1 tablespoon plain yogurt, or 1 tablespoon powdered milk
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil, coconut oil or shea butter
In a medium bowl, combine the avocado, yogurt, or powdered milk and the egg yolk. Stir to thoroughly combine. Moisten the mixture with the olive oil, coconut oil, or shea butter. Work the conditioner thoroughly through your hair, paying special attention to the ends. Cover your head with a shower cap or plastic bag, and relax for 10 to 20 minutes. Rinse, then wash your hair thoroughly with a pH-balanced shampoo.
Herbal Hair Coloring
Herbs can be used to enhance hair color. The most important herbal hair dye comes from henna (Lawsonia inermis), used in Egypt, India and the Middle East for at least 8,000 years to provide hair with shine and striking red highlights. Other herbs, such as turmeric and saffron (for yellow) and nettle (for green), were also used. Commercial henna hair dyes come in a variety of colors, but only true, unadulterated henna creates the red color. Black henna, for example, contains a synthetic black hair dye.
Henna is also used to create temporary tattoos that are an important part of traditional Indian wedding ceremonies. The longer the henna remains on your skin, the darker and longer lasting the tattoo will be. The henna dye soaks into the outermost layer of skin and coats the hair shaft, but it does not permanently stain skin or hair.
Various other herbs can be used to enhance natural hair color, even though they are not true dyes. For example, hair rinses that contain German and Roman chamomile are used to add shine and bring out highlights in blond hair. Rosemary and sage rinses are believed to help enhance the natural beauty of brunette hair.
Want to put herbs to more good use? Get beautiful from the inside out by working these beauty foods into your meal plans.
You Might Also Like
Spices are widely used for increased health and well-being. Young adults, the elderly and anyone who is looking to find a healthier way of living can benefit from using spices when they cook meals. Just adding a few tasty spices to a meal is all that it takes. For those who are not likely to cook, or even learn, this information can be shared with others in the home who are more likely to cook.
Spices are widely used for increased health and well-being. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock
For anyone who needs a liver, colon, kidney or lymph detoxification for their body, spices are the way to go. The world around us is filled with toxins, pollution and bacteria that are harmful. Everyone needs help in battling the environmental issues which are constantly harming us, especially those who are more sensitive, have illnesses or are aging. And so many people take man-made medications on a daily basis. Why not attempt to balance the unnatural and the natural to obtain optimum health and well-being?
Examples of herbs and spices and what they can do for the body:
Turmeric - A powerful antioxidant that should be combined with pepper in order to be most effective. Antioxidants help the body regenerate itself after a toxic overload.
Nutmeg - This widely used spice comes from the evergreen tree and is used to make eggnog during the holiday season. It can help increase circulation as well as get rid of unhealthy, toxic cells in the body.
Peppercorn - Anything spicy helps increase the body's metabolism and circulation, including peppercorn. It's also used as a disinfecting agent for minor scrapes and cuts.
Ginger - Ginger is great for pain as well as digestive problems such as nausea. Nutrients from food are more easily absorbed when ginger is added to the recipe.
Red clover - Used for PMS, menopausal problems and cleansing the blood. It has been said to create a feeling of relaxation to promote good sleep.
Garlic - Garlic is widely used to prevent colds, flu and pneumonia during the winter months, as it's an immune-stimulating agent. Garlic can lower cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar. It can be used for much more, so do thorough research if you've been diagnosed with a disease or other illness.
Rosemary - This spice helps get the blood flowing and stimulates and cleanses the nervous system, which is comprised of the brain and spinal cord and is the most important system in the body.
Parsley - Parsley assists the body in its natural cleansing process because of its high levels of chlorophyll. Parsley may help with arthritis pain and cardiovascular disease because it contains alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid.
Thyme - Thyme is a mint that contains calcium, iron and manganese, which work as antiseptic and antibacterial agents. It helps relieve respiratory troubles.
Cloves - If you have a toothache, be sure to add cloves to your food. This spice can also help with digestion and other pain in the body.
Many people are striving to reach purity in body, mind and soul and are going to great lengths to get it. Men, women, young adults and the elderly, along with those who are focusing more on natural health, can obtain this purity and strength by adding something as simple as a spice to their recipes.
Creative minds have no problem with bending the rules in order to change a recipe—you never know what you might come up with in the end!