Posts Tagged ‘indigestion’

Fermented Foods Aid Digestion

October 22, 2011

The following article says it so well.

If you’d like some great recipes and info about how to make your own fermented (and dried) foods, check out www.preservetheseason.wordpress.com. My friend Lee Lee started this blog prior to our Lama Foundation Fermentation/Preservation/Traditional Food Prep day, where we taste tested and loved all of them.


Dr. Rubman on the Power of Pickles

Something is inherently funny about the word “pickle”… but the truth is, foods that are pickled (fermented) actually dish up serious health benefits. Specifically, they are really good for soothing digestive discomfort of all kinds. Counterintuitive as it may be, eating fermented foods — not only pickled cucumbers, but also peppers, tomatoes, chutney and sauerkraut, to name a few — is a simple and tasty way to resolve heartburn, bellyache and other intestinal distress.

In fact, Daily Health News contributing editor Andrew L. Rubman, ND, told me that in addition to being a way to create deliciously tart, appealing foods, pickling is an ancient preservation technique. British seamen ate sauerkraut to ward off scurvy… Bulgarians were believed to live longer because they drank fermented milk… and Koreans today eat more than 40 pounds per year of kimchi (a blend of cabbage, garlic, chilis and other ingredients) both for taste and to ease  digestion. Interesting, isn’t it?

PICKLING PROMOTES DIGESTION

The fermentation of foods takes place through the breakdown of carbohydrates by live microorganisms such as bacteria (for instance, Lactobacillus acidophilus or Lactobacillus bulgaricus), yeasts and molds. Kimchi, pickles, sauerkraut and the like act as probiotics, encouraging the growth of positive intestinal microbes. These fermented foods promote efficient digestion, support immune  function and boost good nutrition overall. They support availability of B vitamins in certain foods and essential amino acids. They also serve to counteract the ill effects of antibiotics.

According to Dr. Rubman, fermented foods are far better than the over-the-counter antacids or the proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) people routinely swallow to relieve heartburn and stomach upset, which end up causing more harm than good. While they may provide temporary relief, use of antacids or PPIs can  backfire because you need acid to efficiently digest foods… and insufficient stomach acid can upset the proper environmental balance of intestinal flora. In contrast, fermented foods encourage the growth of good gut flora while also helping to neutralize the small amounts of stomach acid left in the system between meals, which is a common problem for people with gastritis and GERD.

PICK A PECK OF PICKLED PEPPERS

Eating fermented foods a few times a week  can make a real difference in how well your digestive system functions. It’s easy enough to do — you can spice up stews with a dollop of chutney or a ¼ cup of kimchi, enjoy a bowl of miso soup, slice pickled cucumbers or peppers on sandwiches or spoon yogurt over fresh fruit. To find fermented foods, visit your local health or gourmet store or shop online…

  • Order fermented foods from farms such as Wills Valley Farm Products (www.willsvalley.com) in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, which offers fermented vegetables including kimchi, red cabbage, red beets and ginger carrots. Other American picklers include ADAMAH in Falls Village, Connecticut… and Alexander Valley Gourmet in Healdsburg, California — and you can find many more online.
  • Go international. Explore fermented foods from around the world, such as the pickled Asian plums known as umeboshi. In Japan, these have been used for thousands of years for their purported ability to counter nausea, stimulate the digestive system and promote the elimination of toxins. Find them in Asian and gourmet markets and on Web sites such as www.kushistore.com. To explore the extensive world of Indian chutney, check out recipes at Web sites such as www.epicurean.com and www.allrecipes.com.
  • Choose carefully. Read labels and buy fermented products that are low in sugar and contain live or active cultures. Dr. Rubman warns that most brands of yogurt, in particular, are loaded with sugar and artificial flavoring, but he notes that Stonyfield Farm and Nancy’s are two brands that do contain live bacterial cultures.

In cases of active intestinal disturbances such as irritable bowel syndrome or gastritis, Dr. Rubman sometimes  prescribes fermented foods and/or probiotics (supplements that you can take if you don’t enjoy the taste of fermented foods), but he does not recommend that you try this on your own. See a qualified and experienced naturopathic physician who can assess your condition and prescribe an appropriate dosage. But if you’re in good health, pile pickles on your plate… pucker up… and enjoy.

Source(s):

Andrew L. Rubman, ND, medical director, Southbury Clinic for Traditional Medicines, Southbury, Connecticut. www.naturopath.org.

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Addressing the Emotional Aspect of Detox with Essential Oils

April 12, 2011
Anytime we change our habits, add or subtract food groups, look at how and when we eat, and/or start a detoxification process (however modest) emotional issues are going to arise. Our emotions (which some folks call feelings with a story) are inextricably linked to our thoughts and to bodily sensations (both “positive” and “negative”…what we often call “symptoms”).  Although much of our culture treats our minds as “ourselves” and our bodies as the “mules” which haul “us” around, we are really whole and indivisible beings. Those of us reading this know that intellectually (myself included), but doing any kind of detox will bring home this truth, as old “stuff” gets liberated during the release of toxins, and we get to “deal with” whatever we’ve back-burnered, or let slide into our subconscious.
Essential oils, which are very concentrated plant distillations (yes, they do come in other forms, but the vast majority are steam distilled), offer us a unique melding of the physical, emotional and “spiritual” (unseen dimensional/non-specific to any religion) aspects of herbs. They contain chemicals that are biologically “recognizable to our bodies (and some of these can be toxic or toxic at high doses) and which, if used properly, interact with our own bodily chemistry in beneficial ways. Because essential oils usually have agreeable (or at least “interesting”) scents, we tend to inhale them, and the same chemicals interact with our brain chemistry which can affect our mood, almost always in a positive manner (the main caveat here is you must like the scent, or at least not find it offensive). As we begin to “feel” an effect from inhalation, our souls are engaged….leading to an enhanced ability to both face our shadow aspects, as well as to let in more joy.
So here begins a journey into the physical and energetic effects of approx. 20 essential oils that are useful in assisting us with detoxification (and which are affordable and safe). I’ll start with 5 oils in this blog and the blog entries after I get back from my journey east…the next two blogs will be guest–edited by Lisa Goodstein , DOM.
Bergamot is a cold-pressed oil from a citrus tree, and is the magical ingredient of Earl Grey tea. It is very helpful in releasing tension, irritability, frustration and repressed emotion, especially unexpressed anger. A gentle, calmative, Bergamot is uplifting to the spirit and emotions. {anti-microbial, anti-spasmodic, digestive and nervine tonic}.

Atlas Cedar

Atlas Cedar

is a distilled oil from the true Cedars (unlike what we call  Cedars, which are actually Junipers!) With a lovely deep scent this oil imparts strength and determination while dealing with difficult situations. { lymphatic decongestant, anti-microbial and general tonic}.
Roman Chamomile helps relieve nervous stress especially in the solar plexus region. Much like its herbal tea counterpart (though much stronger in both effect and aroma) Chamomile brings calm acceptance of our limitations. {analgesic, anti-inflammatory, gentle sedative, anti-spasmodic and digestive}.
Clary Sage brings inspiration and restores clarity of purpose. Its uplifting scent is gently euphoric, helping to restore balance when over-stimulated and experiencing mental and emotional fatigue. {anti-microbial, antispasmodic, digestive and uterine tonic}.

Cypress

Cypress

is excellent for general detoxification on the physical level, while supporting change on the emotional level. Its clean scent imparts strength to relinquish what needs to be let go, while lending stability and optimism for renewal. {anti-microbial, astringent,antispasmodic, and decongesting to the lungs, lymphatic system and prostate}.
Using these essential oils in the bath is an easy way to introduce aromatherapy into your self-care routine. You only need to use 4 to 10 drops of essential oil (mixed into a teaspoon of vegetable oil, or vodka, or dish soap) and add to a tub of warm (not hot) water. Relax, and let the scent and the energy of the oil relax or invigorate you. To read more about these and other essential oils, go to Iris Herbal Essential Oil Info Portal. To purchase these or any other essential oil, you can visit the Iris Herbal website or call Cathy on the phone toll-free @ 877-286-2970 (useful if you are just ordering one or two essential oils and would rather pay less shipping). For those who would like their bath oils already mixed in vegetable oil (or emulsified in a coconut base so that the blend completely disperses into the water) please go HERE. Enjoy!

Implementation: Part 3

April 5, 2011

Sometimes we make a plan and our body has another idea entirely.  Whenever we “do” detox, whether deliberately or because our body is ready and just goes for it, emotional issues seem to pop up. Many healers believe that any toxic residue has an emotional component…and this will be the  topic I’ll address next week, and how essential oils can assist us.  However, today I will finish this section on implementing with the last 10 herbs that I mentioned in my first blog on herbs, tinctures and essential oils to use for detox.

Mullein: best known for its use in bronchitis, this herb is a lung decongestant and tonic for the respiratory system (soothes inflammation). Pour a cup of boiling water over 1 to 2 teaspoons of the herb and let sit, covered for 10 to 15 minutes. Drink this 3 times daily.

Elecampane: this herb is used much like Mullein, and adds an anti-microbial property as well as being a digestive and appetite stimulant. Now this is not a typo: pour a cup of cold water over 1 teaspoon of shredded root and let sit for 8 to 10 HOURS. Heat up and drink very hot 3 times daily.

Licorice: because this herb has an effect on the endocrine system (certain chemical components have a structure similar to steroids), it is both very useful and must be used carefully. Licorice is helpful for adrenal gland support, bronchial issues, peptic ulcers, arthritis, various viral infections, and is a mild laxative. Take only 1/2 teaspoon of the root; add to 1 cup of water; bring to a boil and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. This sweet tasting herb should NOT be used in the following situations: pregnancy, breast-feeding, low blood potassium, or when high blood pressure from sodium retention is present.

Osha: this wonderful southwestern mountain root is useful for all respiratory and throat issues, especially at the first signs of illness, and to help clear the lungs after one has quit smoking. Excellent in children to help prevent middle ear infections, and for anyone to help restore the stomach after illness/vomiting.  Natives chew the root. For the less brave: take 1 oz. (weight) of the herb and let sit overnight in 32 oz. (volume) of water. Drink 2 to 6 oz. of this infusion as needed.

Yerba Santa: another southwestern herb used for asthma, bronchial infection and hay fever. A gentle expectorant, and some varieties are also good for bladder infections. Bring 32 oz. of water to a boil and pour over 1 oz. (by weight) of herb. Let sit 20 to 30 minutes. Drink 3 to 4 oz. 1 to 4 times daily. (Thank you, Micheal Moore, for info on Osha and Yerba Santa).

Elder Flower: a good-tasting remedy for inflammation of / heavy mucus and infection in the upper respiratory system. Pour a cup of boiling water over 2 teaspoons of dried flowers and let steep, covered, for 10 minutes. Drink 3 times a day.

Peppermint: this favorite herb is actually not so good for small children (can use a bit of spearmint instead), but excellent for older children and adults to deal with nausea and all digestive issues.  Also helpful in reducing fever, uterine cramps, migraines that are worse with indigestion, and tension in general. Most folks have this available in tea- bag form; however, many times they are old and have lost much of their potency. Take a heaping teaspoon of the herb, put it in your mug, and add a cup of boiled water. Cover the cup with its saucer (yup, that’s what they were originally for) and let steep for 10 minutes. Drink this as desired.

Prickly Ash: stimulating to the lymphatic and circulatory systems; excellent for chronic problems of the skin where there is poor circulation (varicose veins) and rheumatism (inflammation of muscles, joints, connective tissue).  Pour a cup of boiling water over 1 to 2 teaspoons of herb and let sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Drink 3 times daily.

Yarrow: this is an excellent herb to reduce fever by bringing the body to a sweat and breaking the fever. It also stimulates digestion, tones blood vessels, helps deal with urinary tract infections, and externally is used to stop bleeding.  Pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1 to 2 teaspoons of herb; let sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Drink 3 or more times a day. Drink hot for fevers, and cool for internal bleeding. Some experts advise to NOT use if pregnant.

Barberry: major liver and gall bladder tonic (including inflammation and stones); also for enlarged spleen. Especially useful for debilitated people to both strengthen and cleanse the whole system. A  mildly laxative digestive tonic. Put 1 teaspoon of the bark into a small saucepan with 1 cup of cold water. Bring to a boil and steep for 10 to 15 minutes.  Drink 3 times daily. Do NOT use if pregnant.

Implementation, Part 2

April 1, 2011

Before I continue with the list of herbs, let’s look at storage of herbs, and some basics about tinctures.

Herbs need to be stored in airtight, opaque jars in a cool, dark, dry place. Light, heat and oxidation degrade the quality of herbs as their constituents evaporate, oxidize, and other otherwise lose their potency. Powdered herbs will only last about 6 months or so; same with tea bags! (They have a use by date stamped on the bottom…and yes, many of mine are past their prime). Whole dried leaves (the best way to home dry, as the more a leaf or root is pulverized, the more surface area is exposed to the air) can last a year; whole dried roots up to 3 years. Alcohol-free extracts (usually glycerites) last 3 or so years, and alcohol extracts or tinctures can last 7 (or lots more) years.

Any of the herbs from yesterday, today, or this weekend’s lists can be (used, made or bought as) tinctures. The dosages of store-bought should be on the label. If a range of doses is given, the middle dose is usually for a 150 lb. adult. If you are making tinctures at home, check out the books offered through Iris Herbal  HERE  to find a good text to help you make and use herbal tinctures correctly and safely. You can also call the Iris Herbal office (toll-free 877-286-2970) and talk to Cathy about buying single herb (or ready-made combinations and/or special blends) tinctures (with all the new FDA regs, this is no longer possible online through the shopping cart).

Nettles: a very versatile edible herb; it is an astringent good for discharges (especially hay fever, diarrhea, nose bleeds); a alkalyzing diuretic; and useful for arthritis & eczema. Pour a cup of boiling water over 1 to 3 teaspoons of dried herb and let steep, covered, for 10 to 15 minutes. Do 3 times daily.

Burdock: another very useful plant disparaged as a weed; it aids liver, gall bladder and kidney function, and is especially good for the treatment of systemic imbalance that manifests as skin problems (eczema, psoriasis, dandruff), arthritis and gout. Put 1 teaspoonful of the root into a cup of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Do this 3 times daily.

A note about dosages: before I continue, the amounts to make and use have so far come David Hoffmann’s The New Holistic Herbal and reflect a robust relationship between human and plant. When first taking any new herb, you may want to half the dosage and start with once a day, and work up to larger dosages. Sometimes taking herbs can exacerbate a symptom, often referred to as a “healing crisis” as toxins are discharged (and the body is supported in dumping metabolic waste). Some herbalists are gung-ho here and exhort the patient to press on. Since we are doing “gentle detox” my advise is to slightly back off, drink more water, go to sleep earlier, continue cleaning up your diet, and calmly persevere. Also, when a herb is specifically for digestion, take your tea  just before eating; otherwise, (in general) take the dose 45 minutes 1/2 hour before a meal.

Oregon Grape/Mahonia: this root is a bitter tonic for impaired salivary and gastric secretions (especially for difficult fat and protein digestion); is a stimulant to liver protein metabolism; and is an anti-microbial for both the skin and intestinal tract. Prepare like Burdock; take 2 to 4 oz. in the am and before retiring; do this for at least 2 weeks. (Thank you, Michael Moore).

Sarsaparilla: this alterative is good for systemic tonification, especially where there is chronic skin irritation and problems, rheumatism, herpes, gout and deficiencies in the adrenal and gonad hormone production. Put 1 to 2 teaspoons of the root into a cup of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Do this 3 times daily.

Yellow Dock: another wonderful weed! For all chronic skin eruptions and complaints, especially when accompanied by constipation; also for jaundice from liver congestion. Make and use as for Sarsaparilla.

Cleavers: excellent tonic for the lymphatic system; good for swollen glands, cystitis, and skin conditions. Pour a cup of boiling water over 2 to 3 teaspoons of dried herb and let sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Do this three times daily.

Red Clover: fabulous herb for children (childhood eczema, whooping-cough, mono) and for adults (chronic skin problems and infections, increases lactation). Pur a cup of boiling water over 1 to 3 teaspoons of herb; infuse for 10 to 15 minutes. Take 3 times daily. DO NOT use if PREGNANT.

Red Root: good for lymphatic congestion, especially accompanied by sore throat, inflamed spleen, and/or fluid cysts in sexual organs (male or female). Use like Sarsaparilla.

Echinacea: this is our premier anti-microbial herb; good for all infections anywhere in the body (use at first sign of upper respiratory problems). Also beneficial to tendons and ligaments (in chronic inflammation) and for any swollen areas on the skin (whether due to septic cuts or insect bites. For acute symptoms it’s easier to take a tincture (up to 40 drops per hour) and in chronic conditions, see Sarsaparilla.

Calendula: this flower is useful both internally: ulcers, mouth sores, indigestion with gall bladder pain and fungal infections; and externally: inflammation due to bruising, minor burns and sprains, as well as fungal problems. Pour a cup of boiling water on 1 to 2 teaspoons of the herbs and let steep for 10 to 15 minutes. Do this 3 times daily.

Implementation: Which Herbs, How Much, When To Take

March 31, 2011

In the middle of last night I awoke thinking, how will folks implement that big wad of info? So here we are again regarding herbal detoxification, only with this additional info you may actually be able to start!

Gentian: great digestion enhancer, both in the stomach and intestines; good for anemia and convalescence to jumpstart digestion. Put 1/2 teaspoon of the root in a cup of water. Boil for 5 minutes. Drink warm 10 to 30 minutes before a meal.  It is BITTER! Ginger and Cardamom are great additions: use a total of 1/2 tsp of herbs.

Ginger: relieves indigestion, nausea, cramping. Stimulates peripheral circulation and can promote perspiration. Pour a cup of boiling water over a teaspoon of grated fresh ginger and drink when cool enough, before, during or after a meal (or anytime you feel nauseous).

Cardamom: good for relieving gas, cramping; stimulates the appetite and the flow of urine. Pour a cup of boiling water over freshly crushed seeds and steep for 10 to 15 minutes. Use a saucer over top of all steeping herbal infusions: this captures beneficial chemicals in the steam.  Drink freely during the day, or before a meal.

Anise: the seed is great for intestinal cramping as well as getting rid of bronchial mucus. Pour boiling water over 1 to 2 teaspoons full of freshly, gently crushed seeds, and let steep, covered, for about 10 minutes. can be drunk several times a day, especially before meals or to assist in productive coughing.

Fennel: very similar to Anise: use the same way. Some folks prefer to just chew their seeds, and spit out when the taste has been extracted.

Cumin: these spice/herb seeds are a major part of many traditional cuisines because they are aids to digestion and taste good. Often used in bean dishes to aid beans’ digestion.

Cascara Sagrada: this is one of the gentlest of the purgatives (aids to elimination), as it encourages peristalsis and tones slack muscles of the digestive system. Start with 1 teaspoon of the bark in a cup of water. Bring to a boil, and let sit for 10 minutes. Drink before bed. Much better tasting and effective if used in conjunction with Ginger, any of the Seeds above, or Licorice.

Chickweed: good for acidic system due to heavy meat-eating; to gently increase the flow of urine (especially for PMS edema); and externally to treat arthritis, gout, eczema and psoriasis. Pour a cup of boiled water over 2 teaspoons of dry herb and let sit at least 5 minutes. Drink this 3 times daily, or use as a skin wash externally. You can also make a super strong infusion and pour into your bath water (just warm, not hot) to relive itching.

Dandelion: the root and leaf are both useful. This herb is a strong diuretic, increases bile production (and is a good liver tonic) and  stimulates digestion and elimination. Put 1 to 3 teaspoons of the root into a cup of water and gently simmer for 15 minutes. Drink three times daily. The leaves can be added raw to salads when young and tender, or steamed as a pot herb.

Parsley: eat the leaves! The root is used as a diuretic, to bring on menstrual periods, and to ease digestive cramping. Pour a cup of boiling water over 1 to 2 teaspoons of the root and infuse, covered, for at least 10 to 15 minutes. Do this 3 days a day. DO NOT use this herb at this medicinal dosage if PREGNANT.

Tomorrow I will do the next 10 herbs mentioned in the previous blog, and then the last 11 herbs over the weekend.

Here is the info for safe and effective essential oil usage at home:

Essential Oil Use & Safety Guidelines

  • Do not take essential oils internally unless you are following a cooking recipe (many herb and spice oils can be used as flavorings in minute quantities) or under the supervision of a licensed health care practitioner (with aromatherapy training).
  • Do not apply essential oils directly to the skin; always dilute with a carrier oil such as sweet almond, sesame and/or olive oil.
  • Here are the standard dilutions (as recommended by several internationally known aromatherapists) for a variety of home uses (on healthy adolescents and adults over 100 lbs):
    • Massage: use a total of 12 to 15 drops of essential oil(s) per one ounce of carrier oil. This is a 2 % dilution.
    • Bath: use 5 to 8 drops of non-irritant essential oil(s) in a teaspoon of vegetable oil and add to the water just before you enter the bath.
    • Inhalations: a drop of essential oil can be placed on a handkerchief or cotton ball and inhaled. Three to five drops may be added to a bowl of steaming water and the vapors inhaled. Be sure to close your eyes!
  • Keep out of the reach of children.
  • Avoid contact with eyes and mucous membranes.
  • Do not use citrus oils (or Angelica…and some references include Lavender) on the skin before exposure to UV light.
  • Use only pure and natural essential oils; avoid synthetic fragrances.
  • Do not use essential oils on infants, children, pregnant women, the elderly and/or those with serious health problems without specific aromatherapy training. There are books available that, when read and understood, can help parents make informed choices about aromatherapy use for the whole family. When in doubt: don’t use.
  • Should ingestion of an essential oil occur, immediately call your Poison Control Center (http://www.aapcc.org/DNN/) Do not give water if breathing or swallowing is difficult.
  • Do buy a reference book to help you use essential oils safely and confidently. If you have a specific question, the folks at Iris herbal are happy to assist you.