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Natural Health News and Articles

Healing the Skin and Body with Turmeric

When it comes to health benefits, turmeric is an ingredient that’s as modern and cutting-edge as it is time-honored and traditional. Turmeric has long been held in high regard in Hindu rituals, particularly with Indian women who would add it to their beauty routine as a skin brightening treatment before their wedding, giving them the ultimate glowing look. Newborn babies would also have their foreheads rubbed with turmeric for good luck. And its use as a healing, medicinal food has a storied history as well. Curcumin, the compound that gives turmeric its yellow pigment, is mainly responsible for turmeric’s potent anti-inflammatory properties. In the skin, cucurmin has been touted for its ability to soothe irritation, combat acne, calm rosacea, and help even out hyperpigmentation. Turmeric is prized for its powerful antioxidants that slow down cell damage, reduce both internal and external inflammation, and brighten and revitalize complexions. Recently turmeric has experienced a renaissance as a trendy supplement and topical ingredient, as well as an antioxidant-rich spice to add to meals.

Turmeric in skincare is a hot topic. The benefits of masking with turmeric have become increasingly popular in the West, though its major drawback is the issue of skin staining. The most effective way to incorporate turmeric in topical skincare without battling skin stains is to dilute this very active—and highly pigmented—spice. The easiest way to dilute turmeric is to use a very small amount relative to the total ingredients in your formula.

For topical use, always mix turmeric with other ingredients like flour, oil, milk, or yogurt to avoid skin irritation. Turmeric powder mixed with warm water, warm milk, or a complimentary oil like sesame, hemp, or jojoba oil can be made into a paste to clean wounds and promote healing. Turmeric and manuka honey paste is known to soothe cuts and wounds and even improve the appearance of scars; and combined with aloe vera, it makes a soothing paste for sunburned skin. As an introduction to masking with turmeric, here’s a simple mask recipe that benefits all skin types:

Golden Skin Mask

You may also want to incorporate diluted turmeric into topical treatments as a macerated oil or a glycerite. Both dilutions are simple to make, and have a similar process. If it’s summertime, or if you live in a warm climate year-round, making a macerated oil or glycerite can be made simply in a mason jar. Start with your desired amount of dried turmeric in a mason jar, add enough vegetable glycerine or carrier oil (olive or jojoba are recommended for their shelf-stability) to cover the dried herb by two inches, and then leave the sealed jar in the hot sun for 3 to 4 weeks, shaking every day. After the time has passed, strain out the turmeric, and you’re left with a lovely oil or glycerite which has assumed all the beneficial properties of the turmeric, but is much easier to use as a topical skincare preparation.

If you live in a cooler climate, or the warm summer has passed, you can still make macerated oils or glycerites using a slow cooker on an extra-low setting for 3 to 4 weeks. It is also possible to make a macerated oil or glycerite on the stovetop using a double boiler, but it’s much more difficult to control the temperature, and you run the risk of cooking off the benefits of the turmeric. Once you’ve completed your macerated oil, you can use it as a cleansing oil or moisturizer–and you can use the glycerite as an ingredient in a cleanser, toner, or water-containing moisturizer.

Not to be overlooked are turmeric’s powerful internal benefits, as a strong anti-inflammatory pain reliever, a stomach soother and digestive supporter, and a potent anti-aging spice. Turmeric is commonly used in dried, ground form straight from the spice jar, but interest in growing in fresh turmeric root as well as turmeric supplements in capsule form. Here, NAA co-founder Tisha Jill Palmer shares her personal story of reducing pain with ground turmeric, as well as a nightly turmeric recipe for healing and self-care:

“After a stomach surgery left me unable to take any NSAIDS (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), I was at a loss on how to manage my arthritis pain flare-ups. Certainly, reducing or eliminating inflammatory foods like sugar and dairy from my diet set me up for success—but when I combined my other healthy habits with daily turmeric, I noticed pain relief with the bonus reduction of my rosacea symptoms. While I love cooking with turmeric, as my collection of yellow-stained wooden spoons reveals, my favorite form of turmeric supplementation is a mug of my very own Good Night Golden Milk. My trick to making this drink into a meditative self-care ritual is to never skimp on the ingredient quality or the details. I channel my years as a barista and froth this drink up to its golden glory, complete with pretty sprinkles, and enjoy while I write my nighttime gratitude list.”

Good Night Golden Milk

With so many forms of turmeric hitting grocery stores, farmer’s markets, and beauty boutiques, there’s truly a way for everyone to experience its powerful benefits for beauty and health. However you use turmeric, we hope you are able to appreciate its healing effects, both inside and out.

Written by the Nutritional Aesthetics Alliance co-founders.

photo credit: Mixed spice via photopin (license)

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Natural Health News and Articles

7 Supplements for High Cholesterol

by Dr. Rich Snyder, DO

High cholesterol can increase the risk of heart disease. Treatment includes modifying your diet, exercise, and incorporating supplements that normalize cholesterol levels and reduce inflammation.

Here are 7 Supplements to help normalize cholesterol levels.

Garlic:  This is excellent for helping to maintain the cholesterol in the natural or “reduced” state. It decreases the inflammation of “cholesterol plaque.”

  • Aged garlic extract can be taken in capsule form starting at 400-600 mg a day. As garlic is a natural blood thinner, be careful if you are on prescription blood-thinning medications such as aspirin, Plavix, or Coumadin.

Coenzyme Q10 (Ubiquinone): Replacement of this antioxidant is necessary to help improve blood vessel health. This is vital to take, especially if you have been prescribed a statin based medication.

  • When starting, begin with small doses at 50-100 mg daily and increase to twice a day after several weeks. Smaller doses taken during the day maximizes its absorption. Monitor your blood pressure closely. If you have diabetes, this nutrient can also help lower your blood glucose levels so they need to be monitored as well.

Fiber: If your diet is low in fiber, a fiber-based supplement is recommended. Remember that fiber can bind the cholesterol in the intestine and prevent its absorption. Examples of commonly used fiber supplements can include a psyllium-based fiber supplement like Metamucil or more of a soluble-based fiber like Glucomannan fiber.

Omega 3 fish oil:  Omega 3 fish oil can not only help in lowering triglycerides, it is important for maintaining the health and pliability of the blood vessels as well as tremendous for reducing inflammation. You can start at 2000 mg a day and increase slowly to a maximum of 4-5 grams a day. Be aware that Omega 3 fish oil can thin the blood, so you may need to decrease your dosage if you are taking any blood thinners.

TurmericTurmeric is a great anti-oxidant to lower cholesterol levels and reduce inflammation. It can be taken as a 400 mg capsule daily or simply by sprinkling a little Turmeric powder on each meal. It does have a blood thinning effect so be aware if you are on other blood-thinning medications as mentioned above.

Phytosterols: These are plant-based compounds that can be used in the treatment of high cholesterol. They can be taken independently or can be part of other formulations as well. An example of a plant-based sterol is beta-sitosterol. This can be taken once to twice daily, depending on the formulation chosen.

Red Yeast Rice: This is a natural form of the statin medication, and is used by many in the treatment of high cholesterol. There are several caveats when taking this supplement you need to be aware of:

  • Do not take prescription statins if you are taking this supplement.
  • As with the statin medications, liver tests (blood work) need to be monitored and myalgias can occur with this supplement as well.
  • It is recommended to begin at a dose of 600 mg daily and slowly increase over the course of several weeks to a maximum dose of 1200 mg twice a day. You should be under the care of a health care provider when taking this supplement.

For more information on high cholesterol, see Natural Treatment for High Cholesterol



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Natural Health News and Articles

Spice Up Your Life and Stop Arthritis in its Tracks with Curcumin

It has long been recognized in holistic health that in order to reduce pain, you must reduce the inflammation associated with and contributing to that pain. In addition, holism works to allow the body to heal itself by providing the necessary nutrients and to allow it to build back up and heal. The effects of chronic inflammation and pain can be devastating not only to your muscles and joints, but to the whole body.

Curcumin, a main ingredient of turmeric, has been used for thousands of years for its ability to reduce inflammation and to help in the treatment of pain. Because of its potent anti-inflammatory properties, it has demonstrated benefit not only in the treatment of arthritis, but also has been shown to have significant heart benefits and anti-cancer properties. For those suffering with osteoarthritis, the addition of turmeric can be extremely helpful in lowering inflammation, treating pain, and helping to restore function and improve quality of life.

How does turmeric work to fight inflammation? Well, in one study the authors demonstrated that turmeric can inhibit different pathways in the body that stimulate the inflammation. Unlike prescription medications, it has no detrimental side effects. For example, nonsteroidal medications (aka NSAIDS) have  significant risks associated with them such as gastrointestinal bleeding, elevated blood pressure and worsening kidney function.

This makes Turmeric invaluable in the treatment of osteoarthritis. In one research study, Turmeric was found to be very beneficial in the treatment of knee osteoarthritis. It is well tolerated and has a wonderful safety profile with few side effects. When it is combined with other herbs and supplements such as Devils Claw and the Omega 3 fish oils, the synergistic effect of all three can reduce inflammation and relieve pain compared to using Turmeric alone.

By Rich Snyder, DO
Rich has written several books, including What You Must Know About Kidney DiseaseWhat You Must Know About Dialysis, as well as the upcoming Adrenal Fatigue For Dummies.

References

  • Funk JL, Frye JB et al. “Efficacy and mechanism of action of turmeric supplements in the treatment of experimental arthritis.” Arthritis and Rheumatism. 2006 Nov;54(11):3452-64..
  • Henrotin Y, Priem F et al. “Curcumin: a new paradigm and therapeutic opportunity for the treatment of osteoarthritis: curcumin for osteoarthritis management.” SpringerPlus. 2013 Dec;2(1):56.
  • Hu P, Huang P et al. “Curcumin attenuates cyclooxygenase-2 expression via inhibition of the NF-κB pathway in lipopolysaccharide-stimulated human gingival fibroblasts.” Cell Biology International. 2013 May;37(5):443-8
  • Madhu K, Chanda K et al. “Safety and efficacy of Curcuma longa extract in the treatment of painful knee osteoarthritis: a randomized placebo-controlled trial.” Immunopharmacology. 2013 Apr;21(2):129-36.

Natural Remedies for Osteoarthritis

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The Turmeric Miracle

This infographic explains the great benefits of Turmeric and was produced by www.PSitsHealthy.com

 

The Miracle of Turmeric

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High Cholesterol Natural Treatments

Written by Dr. Rich Snyder

Cholesterol is a fatty material made by the liver. It is essential for human life. However, cholesterol levels that are very high or cholesterol that is “inflammatory” increases your risk of heart and vascular disease.

High cholesterol can increase the risk of heart disease through the formation of a cholesterol plaque over time.

The treatment of high cholesterol includes modifying your diet to a more plant-based one as well as increasing your fiber intake, incorporating supplements that normalize your cholesterol levels and reducing inflammation.

The following provides information on high cholesterol natural treatments.

Overview

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a fatty material made by the liver. It is one of the basic building blocks of the cells in your body. It is a vital component of the cell membrane that helps protect the cell and maintain its integrity and viability. Cholesterol is also important for the production of certain vitamins, such as Vitamins A, D, E, K (called fat–soluble vitamins). It is also needed for hormone production; this includes cortisol and sex-related hormones. We not only produce cholesterol in our bodies, but we also obtain it from the foods that we eat.

Why or when is cholesterol bad?

Cholesterol, in and of itself, is not bad. It is in fact essential for human life. However, cholesterol levels that are very high or cholesterol that is “inflammatory” increases your risk of heart and vascular disease. High cholesterol can increase the risk of heart disease through the formation of a cholesterol plaque over time as pictured above.

Are there different ways of looking at cholesterol?

When taking a holistic view of cholesterol, there are three different aspects that need to be considered:

  • Recognizing the different types of cholesterol
  • Understanding the nature of the cholesterol molecule itself: is the molecule small and dense (increased inflammation risk) or light and fluffy (negligible inflammation risk)
  • Recognizing that cholesterol can exist in an oxidized state or a natural/reduced state
  • It is important that you and your healthcare provider review all of these factors when looking at your cholesterol levels.

What are the different types of cholesterol?

  • The HDL, or High Density Lipoprotein, is called the “good cholesterol.” In general, the higher the HDL levels, the better.
  • LDL, or Low Density Lipoprotein, is considered to be the “bad cholesterol.” In general, it is thought that the lower the LDL levels, the better in terms of reducing the risk of heart disease.
  • Triglycerides are another form of fat that is in the bloodstream. Very high levels, which can be seen with diabetes and alcohol abuse, are a risk factor for heart disease.
  • VLDL, or Very Low Density Lipoprotein, is a form of cholesterol that is also helpful in determining your heart risk. In general, the higher this number, the higher your risk of heart disease.

What do you mean by the nature of the cholesterol molecule and inflammation?

A number does not tell the whole story when it comes to cholesterol levels and determining their risk for heart and vascular disease. If you look at LDL, for example, there can be small dense particles which are thought to be more of a risk for the formation of a plaque or atherosclerosis in comparison to the larger fluffy and light particles which are non-inflammatory.

Inflammation also refers to whether the cholesterol is in a natural or “reduced” state or “oxidized” or inflammatory state. Be aware that all of the cells in our body exist in a natural or reduced state. In the setting of chronic inflammation, the cells become oxidized. This generates the formation of free radicals. This also changes the nature of the cholesterol in the cells, particularly the blood vessels, and causes them to be more inflammatory and hence, more likely to form a cholesterol plaque.

How do I know if I have high cholesterol?

There are ways to measure cholesterol numbers in the blood as well as more specialized blood testing to tell you the nature of the cholesterol profile.

  • On traditional blood work, the LDL, HDL and triglycerides levels are part of a standard lipid profile.
  • If your LDL is > 160 and you have heart disease or you have several risk factors for heart disease, this is considered to be a high number.
  • If your HDL number is < 40, it is considered to be too low.  Lower levels of HDL are risk factors for heart disease.
  • Triglyceride levels > 150 are considered to be high.

How do I know if I have abnormal cholesterol?

This is again looking not just at the number, but also inflammatory risk for cholesterol.

  • On a regular lipid profile, additional testing, including looking for certain markers such as apolipoprotein B and lipoprotein A levels, are important markers for how “atherogenic” the cholesterol particles may be.
  • There is a specialized test called the VAP or Vertical Auto Profile test that can tell you the nature of the LDL or HDL molecules that you have. If, for example, the VAP test reports that your cholesterol is larger and fluffier in nature, they are less likely to be inflammatory with lesser risk for inflammation. This is an example of a personalized test that can really help you to determine your risk for heart disease.
  • Your healthcare provider should also test for “inflammation.” In particular, blood tests, including the erythrocyte sedimentation rate and high sensitivity C-reactive protein need to be checked. The higher the level, the more likely the cholesterol is inflammatory and increases the risk of plaque formation and heart disease.

What are conventional treatments of high cholesterol?

The traditional treatment of high cholesterol levels includes the prescription use of medications. Commonly prescribed drug classes of medications used to lower cholesterol include the statins, Zetia (Ezetimibe), bile-acid resins, and Niacin.

Statins: These are medications that inhibit the formation of cholesterol. Studies have demonstrated that this class of medications has decreased the risk of heart attacks and is heart-protective for someone with risk factors for heart disease, including high blood pressure and diabetes. Potential side effects of this class of medications include elevated liver enzymes (as can be measured in the blood), muscle pain or myalgias. It may also affect memory and may cause memory problemsCaution: Statins can deplete the body of ubiquinone (Coenzyme Q10), a potent anti-oxidant that is important not only for maintaining a healthy heartbut also for maintaining cellular health.

  • Supplementation with ubiquinone is recommended when taking this class of medications.
  • Ubiquinone can also decrease the risk of developing myalgias when taking statins and can also help in the treatment of myalgias once they begin.

Zetia (Ezetimibe): This medication blocks the absorption of cholesterol in the intestine. It can be prescribed to be used in conjunction with statin therapy for the treatment of high cholesterolCaution: Because this class of medications inhibits cholesterol absorption, it can also affect the absorption of key fat-soluble vitamins, including Vitamins A, D, E, and K.

Bile acid resins: This medication also is used to block the absorption of cholesterol in the intestine. It can also affect the absorption of key fat-soluble vitamins, including Vitamins A, D, E, and K.

Niacin: This is used in the treatment of low HDL to raise their levels. This medication has been known to cause flushing as a side effect and aspirin is often needed to be given prior to taking a dose of Niacin. There are extended release forms of Niacin that do not have this effect.

Fenofibrate: This class of medication is used to treat high triglyceride levels. They have similar side effects to the statin class of medications, including affecting the liver and causing myalgias. Caution: If a statin and fenofibrate are taken together, this can dramatically increase the risk of developing liver problems and significant muscle pain and muscle damage. In some cases, the muscle damage can be significant enough to cause kidney failure.

Nutrition

DASH Diet

One of the most important changes necessary in the treatment of abnormal cholesterol is changing your diet.  A diet higher in fruits and vegetables is recommended. Did you know that the new Food Pyramid recommends five to seven fruits and vegetables each and every day? One of the well-studied diets is the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet. The DASH diet not only lowered blood pressure, the risk of developing other complications of high blood pressure and diabetes, it also helped in lowering cholesterol.

This diet advocates the consumption of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. It emphasizes reducing foods high in polyunsaturated fats as well as significantly reducing the amount of meat-based protein in the diet. Notwithstanding the chemicals, toxins, food additives, antibiotics that may have been used in the preparation of the meat, high animal protein intake increases total body inflammation, which plays an important role in the development of high cholesterol.

Mediterranean Diet

Mediterranean diet

Another diet that has been extensively studied in the treatment of high cholesterol is the Mediterranean diet. Like the DASH diet, this diet stresses the consumption of fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats, particularly promoting the use of olive oil over butter. Eating fish, especially salmon twice a week is recommended for its high Omega 3 content. Much research has been done advocating the many benefits of the Mediterranean diet, especially for its heart protective effects.

The basic conclusion that can be drawn is that a plant-based diet can reduce not only your inflammation levels, but also can help normalize your cholesterol levels.

Supplements

Coenzyme Q10 (Ubiquinone)

Replacement of this antioxidant is necessary to help improve blood vessel health. This is vital to take, especially if you have been prescribed a statin-based medication.

  • When starting, begin with small doses at 50-100 mg daily and increase to twice a day after several weeks. Smaller doses taken during the day maximizes its absorption. Monitor your blood pressure closely. If you have diabetes, this nutrient can also help lower your blood glucose levels so they need to be monitored as well.

Fiber

If your diet is low in fiber, a fiber-based supplement is recommended. Remember that fiber can bind the cholesterol in the intestine and prevent its absorption. Examples of commonly used fiber supplements can include a psyllium-based fiber supplement like Metamucil or more of a soluble-based fiber like Glucomannan fiber.

Garlic

This is excellent for helping to maintain the cholesterol in the natural or “reduced” state. It decreases the inflammation of “cholesterol plaque.”

  • Aged garlic extract can be taken in capsule form starting at 400-600 mg a day. As garlic is a natural blood thinner, be careful if you are on prescription blood-thinning medications such as aspirin, Plavix, or Coumadin.

Fish OilOmega 3 fish oil

Omega 3 fish oil can not only help in lowering triglycerides, it is important for maintaining the health and pliability of the blood vessels as well as tremendous for reducing inflammation. You can start at 2000 mg a day and increase slowly to a maximum of 4-5 grams a day. Be aware that Omega 3 fish oil can thin the blood, so you may need to decrease your dosage if you are taking any blood thinners.

Phytosterols

These are plant-based compounds that can be used in the treatment of high cholesterol. They can be taken independently or can be part of other formulations as well. An example of a plant-based sterol is beta-sitosterol. This can be taken once to twice daily, depending on the formulation chosen.

Red Yeast Rice

This is a natural form of the statin medications, and is used by many in the treatment of high cholesterol. There are several caveats when taking this supplement you need to be aware of:

  • Do not take prescription statins if you are taking this supplement.
  • As with the statin medications, liver tests (blood work) need to be monitoredand myalgias can occur with this supplement as well.
  • It is recommended to begin at a dose of 600 mg daily and slowly increase over the course of several weeks to a maximum dose of 1200 mg twice a day. You should be under the care of a health care provider when taking this supplement.

TurmericTurmeric

Turmeric is a great anti-oxidant to lower cholesterol levels and reduce inflammation. It can be taken as a 400 mg capsule daily or simply by sprinkling a little Turmeric powder on each meal. It does have a blood thinning effect so be aware if you are on other blood-thinning medications as mentioned above.

Exercise

Our bodies were meant to move. Beginning an exercise regimen is crucial  to help in lowering cholesterol levels.

Walking thirty minutes four times a week has benefits of not only improving endurance, but also strengthening the heart as well as helping you lose weight. Other forms of exercise include jogging, biking, swimming and aquatic-based therapy.

Yoga for High CholesterolExercising in the water is not only rejuvenating, but as it reduces the wear, tear, and constant pounding on the joints, it is an ideal choice, especially if you are suffering from arthritis or have difficult y walking. Depending on your health issues, it is recommended that you see your health care practitioner to develop a personalized exercise regimen that matches your likes and limitations. Don’t forget to include muscle resistance training into your exercise regimen.

Yoga and tai chi represent a form of exercise that improves muscle strength and flexibility and does not require the use of expensive equipment. As mentioned above, they are great forms of exercise that can help improve cholesterol levels.

Updated: June 2019


  • Chung YH, Lee YC et al. “Statins of high versus low cholesterol-lowering efficacy and the development of severe renal failure.” Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety. 2013 Mar 22.
  • Cicero AF, Ferroni A et al.  “Tolerability and safety of commonly used dietary supplements and nutraceuticals with lipid-lowering effects.” Expert Opinion on Drug Safety. 2012 Sep;11(5):753-66.
  • Roth EM, Harris WS. “Fish oil for primary and secondary prevention of coronary heart disease.” Current Atherosclerosis Reports. 2010 Jan;12(1):66-72.
  • Srinivasan K. “Dietary spices as beneficial modulators of lipid profile in conditions of metabolic disorders and diseases.” Food and Function. 2013 Apr 25;4(4):503-21.
  • Stone NJ, Bilek S, et al. “Recent National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panel III update: adjustments and options.” American Journal of Cardiology. 2005 Aug 22;96(4A):53E-59E.

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