Tag Archives: natural anti inflammatory

Natural anti inflammatory remedies for inflamed skin or inflammatory conditions

Drugs versus herbal remedies

Plants, herbs and their active ingredients

Plants have a defense mechanism against their direct environmental threats that is very complex and they have such an ability to protect themselves against diseases that people have been studying their mechanism and use for thousands of years. Plant cells structure and human cells structure are very similar and our body can recognize the entire plant structure. When an active ingredient (the life force) is taken from a plant, our body recognizes it, processes it and uses it for its own purpose. Plants are living organisms just like humans and the 4 main similar constituents between plant cells and human cells are carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen. Both also have protein-like structure which allows the body to entirely recognize the healing properties of a given plant and use it to cure itself.

Within one plant, one can find numerous active ingredients, some of which having opposite effects so a vast knowledge of medicinal plants is required before using it especially in terms of dosage. For example, a plant can contain 5 active ingredients with anti-inflammatory properties and 2 active ingredients that induce inflammation. However, using all the plant’s active ingredients may have great anti-inflammatory effects depending on how much we intake. Also, a plant is alive and adapts to its environmental threats because of its innate survival instincts just like humans. When threatened by a virus that is also alive and evolving, a plant will have the capabilities to change and adapt to fight against this evolving virus.

Origin of modern drugs

Modern medicine has copied the biological functions of plants but the main difference is that a chemically-made remedy uses typically one specific active ingredient of the plant against which a virus or bacteria can easily become resistant as opposed to the 100 active ingredients of a given plant and as a result, the drug has to be modified, or sometimes, the original plant is used again because only the plant in a whole could evolve at the same time as the virus or bacteria and develop new means to fight it. This is also the reason why sometimes, 10 drugs need to be administered for one single condition while the proper plant would contain them all at once. Another difference also is that a plant cannot be patented and requires clinical trials to prove its efficiency that cost millions of dollars; meanwhile, a chemically-made drug using only one plant’s active ingredient can be patented and because of the pharmaceuticals means, a clinical trial can easily be performed with the newly developed drug.

The advantage of herbal remedies and the dangers of do-it-yourself

When understanding the defense mechanism of a plant, we can easily deduct that plants can have beneficial effects on us when used wisely and as a whole because they can help with a disease without inducing side-effects, but they can also have a devastating effect, just like a pharmaceutical drug that we would not typically intake without a prescription, first of all because it is forbidden by law, but also because it is dangerous.

In the US, herbal remedies, medicinal plants and herbal supplements can easily be accessed in stores because they are regarded as food supplements, not remedies or drugs and suppliers are not allowed to make claims for these remedies. However, depending on one’s condition, herbal remedies and their active ingredients can have beneficial results but also devastating ones, and only a qualified herbalist could ponder whether a remedy is good or not, depending on the patient, his condition, the cause of his condition, his age, weight, other drug intake and lifestyle. Indeed, just like regular drugs can interact with each other, herbal remedies can interact with each other as well and interact with drugs. Herbal and natural remedies does not mean it is always good for us and without consequence, far from it, unless we have done our research or consulted a qualified practitioner that will guide us with dosage, interactions and contra-indications. For example, helichrysum essential oil is a very powerful essential oil to treat various conditions. However, it is also a blood thiner and people already on blood thiner medications should avoid it or use it carefully to avoid hemorrhagia. The healing properties of plants and herbs are very powerful and probably stronger than any given drugs for the facts explained earlier but when taken internally, it is wise to always research about their active ingredients, chemistry, use and consequences and seek help of a qualified herbalist, naturopath or doctor that will be able to determine the cause of our problem and redirect us to the proper remedy. Nature can provide our body with everything it needs and it would be arrogant to believe the opposite when humans have been using its powers for thousands of years so let’s protect it and cherish it in a smart way. At last, herbal remedies have become a marketing tool for companies that saw a huge lucrative market in this field. However, not all “natural remedies” or are actually 100% natural and it is very important to read the ingredients, origin, company ethics before purchasing an herbal remedy that if rogue, might work as well as hot water and give Nature a bad name! The same applies for all organic products.

This article was inspired by the book The Healing Power of Rainforest Herbs, by Dr. Leslie Taylor, ND.

You can purchase this amazing book hereThe Healing Power of Rainforest Herbs

Ivy leaf extract for colds and coughs

Ivy or Hedera is an evergreen and climbing plant belonging to the Araliaceae family and that comes from the Atlantic islands, Europe, North Africa, parts of Asia and Japan. We find 2 main types of Ivy plant: English Ivy and Boston Ivy (not to be mistaken with poison Ivy). Ivy usually grows on walls or houses, can be part of ornamental arrangements and can reach up to 30 meter high. Ivy plant on houses can be a problem though because of all the insects taking refuge in the plant including spiders that crawl their way back in houses. Ivy plant can however be beneficial for your home feng shui, especially located in corners that will cut straight lines or absorb the electromagnetic vibes of devices such as TV or computer as long as you keep it subtle because a full facade covered with ivy plant can also cause your skin to be prompt to problems. Additionally, ivy plant roots are very strong and can easily dig their way into the house foundation, to the point of destroying the house structure.

Besides its ornamental purpose, ivy leaf goes way back as a traditional herbal remedy. According to the Greek tradition, Ivy leaf was believed to prevent inebriation (becoming drunk) from wine drinking and this is why the Greek God of wine, Dionysus, wore Ivy leaf around his head.

Also, ivy leaf has been traditionally used for colds for its anti-bacterial and anti-parasitic properties and particularly for coughs and chest congestion for its decongestant properties. This has been supported by scientific studies and ivy leaf is now recognized as an effective medicine to treat the inflammation of of the respiratory tract. Ivy leaf extract helps to liquefy the mucus, ease throat and chest inflammation and calm the cough associated with bronchitis. However, it does not suppress the cough completely in order for the mucus to leave the body and for the infection to stop.

Ivy leaf extract is an efficient and natural remedy for bronchial inflammation, may it be for adults or for children and is easily found as a ivy leaf syrup that won’t induce the side effects of other regular syrups such as drowsiness, dizziness, lightheadedness, among others.

Acai berry juice

Acai berry is a purple berry that grows on the acai palm, a palm tree belonging to the Arecaceae family and that measures from 25 to 30 m high. Acai palms grow in Central and South America, in particularly in Brazil (in the Amazon forest) where the acai berry has been valued for centuries by locals for its amazing health properties. Acai palm leaves are used to make hats, baskets, and even in construction. Acai berries are small and round berries made of 80% of seeds that can be used as organic soil to feed plants.

Acai berry health benefits

Acai berry has gained in popularity in the past 10 years thanks to marketing efforts to position the fruit as a “superfruit” like goji berries, blueberries or tart cherry. It is now grown outside the traditional Amazonian crops to meet the high demand in Western countries. The marketing buzz was done around the acai berry health benefits.

1 – Indeed, acai berries are very rich in antioxidants and rate high on the Orac scale (see our previous article about tart cherry). Acai berries are packed with anthocyanins much like blueberries and this explains their deep purple color as well as their antioxidant capacity. They are also rich in polyphenols, another type of antioxidant often related to the “French paradox”. French people eat fatty food (cheese, white bread, pastries) but the heart disease rate is one of the lowest. It is believed to be due to the amount of red wine consumed in France as wine contains polyphenols. Acai berries are said to contain 20 times more the amount of polyphenols than of red wine.

2 – Also, acai berries contain high amounts of essential fatty acids (omega 6 and 9) just like argan oil that contribute to the promotion of good cholesterol while soothing inflammatory conditions and making the skin looks healthy.

3 – Acai berries are believed to be a valuable source of energy. As a matter of fact, in Brazil, acai berries are consumed as “acai na tigela” (acai bowl) that consists of acai pulp, granola and banana to provide energy.

4 – Other claims include easing the digestive system thanks to the high amount of fibers.

5 – Acai berries are a great source of vitamins and proteins to keep our good health.

acai berry supplementsAcai berries can be taken in various forms including raw, in acai berry supplements, acai berry tablets, acai berry juice, smoothies, jam or cereal bars. However, always check the ingredients to ensure that the product does not only contain acai berries partially. Organic acai berry juice that is pure is the best as you can measure the amount you wish to take daily and mix it with other juices or water.

While acai berries are a powerful fruit, so are many other fruits such as blueberries or other vegetables and a mix of both should be part of the daily diet. So it is a great idea to incorporate acai berries in our diet but let’s keep aware of unverified commercial health claims over acai berries such as weight loss, sexual performances and more and always read the label of organic products to ensure they are truly organic.

By the way, acai is pronounced AH-SAH-EE if you ever visit Brazil 🙂

Blueberry benefits

Blueberry is a plant that belongs to the Ericaceae family and the Vaccinium genus. Blueberries come originally from North America and have been praised since centuries for their blueberry benefits. They are also found in Canada, Europe and Southern Hemisphere and the fruits reach maturity from May to August or September. Blueberry is one of the rare food of indigo color that is induced by the content of anthocyanin, a pigmentation present in some plants that protects from UV light (acting as a sunscreen) and that is also a powerful antioxidant. Blueberry High BushBlueberry plants grow typically in acidic soils but nowadays, blueberries are mostly mass-produced (high bush blueberries) to meet the demand although low-bush (wild) blueberries are still available. For example, Maine in the USA, produces 25% of the blueberries and is the biggest producer in the world. Organically-grown blueberries is easily achieved because they are typically less attacked by pests than any other fruits.

Blueberry benefits

Blueberries can be eaten row, but they are also sold as frozen blueberries, as blueberry jams, dry blueberries, blueberry juices or blueberry smoothies. They became part of the superfruits family much like goji berries, acai berry or tart cherry, as studies have shown the great health properties of blueberries, including their:

– high antioxidant properties (one of the highest thanks to the content of anthocyanin mentioned earlier)
anti-inflammatory and anti-aging properties.

As a matter of fact, in a USDA Human Nutrition Research Center laboratory, scientists found our that eating fresh blueberries on a daily basis could slow down the aging process as well as the loss of mental capacity and memory loss by regenerating brain cells.

Blueberries are also rich in Vitamin B, C, E, and:

– help promote a good vision as well as
boost the immune system.

They are also:

– beneficial to the urinary tract against infections as they block the growth of bacteria much like a natural anti-biotic and a natural anti-bacterial.

They promote a:

– healthy heart by getting rid of the bad cholesterol

They are a:

– mood-enhancer and a natural anti-depressant

Organic blueberries or organic blueberry juice can become part of the daily diet for a maximized healthy lifestyle.
Blueberry stains on clothes so if it ever happens to you, soak your garment in 1 liter of warm water mixed with 1 spoon of vinegar 🙂

Soap nuts detergent

What are soap nuts?

Soap nuts are actually berries (also know as soap berry) that grow on the Sapindus tree, an evergreen tree belonging to the Sapindaceae family, just like the lychee tree. Sapindus are common in India and Nepal mostly but also in Southern Asia and in the USA. The names soap nut or soap berry come from the fruit pulp that is used as a soap-like product. Indeed, soap nuts contain a substance called saponin that is found in many plant species and that is known for its anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-microbial properties. Saponins produce a foam when shaken in liquid, just like regular soap. Soap nuts have therefore been used as a cleaning agent for centuries and is nowadays used as an efficient and safe soap nuts detergent to wash laundry, dishes and is even used in soap nuts shampoo. Soap nuts are a great alternative to chemically-made detergents for their efficiency (it will leave clothes clean and odorless), their cost (soap nuts can be used more than once in the laundry) and their green qualities (it is renewable and bio-degradable). It is an excellent detergent for wool and silk items for its softener-like properties and for colored clothes as it leaves the colors vibrant. Also, being 100% natural, soap nuts do not cause allergic reactions unlike other detergents and are beneficial to wash baby clothes in order to protect the baby skin’s sensitivity. Soap nuts can be used to disinfect the house, the car and as a natural multi-purpose cleanser. It can also be used to wash pets to get rid of parasites and leave their fur clean.
soap nuts tree
In traditional medicine and in particularly in Ayurveda medicine, soap nuts are used as an expectorant during colds to soothe coughs. It can help with blood circulation, with case of hysteria, with viral infections, with anemia, with epilepsy and is even used as a spermicide. Recent studies have shown also that it can be a great remedy for migraines and headaches. A doctor consultation is however advised before taking soap nuts remedies.

soap nuts shampooSoap nuts used as a shampoo is said to help with hair loss, dandruffs and leave the hair shiny and soft. Used topically, soap nuts cream or soap nuts soap barsoap nuts soap bar promote the reduction of fine lines, attenuate freckles and can be helpful for cases of eczema or psoriasis.

How to use soap nuts?

soap nuts
1 – Soap nuts as a detergent
Put 5 or 6 soap nuts in a laundry pouch and insert with the clothes into the wash machine just like any other detergent. You can put the machine up to 90 degrees. Soap nuts are also available in liquid detergents as liquid soap nuts.

Watch how soap nuts work

2- Soap nuts as a multi-purpose cleanser
Take a few soap nuts, remove the seed and add water. Bring to boil and leave it for about 10 minutes until the saponins are extracted. Use the remaining liquid to clean countertops, bathrooms, car, or use as a liquid hand-soap or shampoo. Mix water, liquid soap nuts and vinegar to clean windows!

3 – Soap nuts to wash fresh fruits and vegetables
Soak your fruits or vegetables in soap nuts liquid for 10 min to remove all chemical and parasites.

4 – Soap nuts as a cosmetic ingredient
Use soap nuts liquid on your hair and leave for 5 to 10 minutes. Repeated over time, it will help get rid of dandruff while leaving the hair silky soft. You can also use soap nuts as a body wash or face cleanser (avoiding the eyes).

5 – Soap nuts to clean jewellery
Soak your jewellery in liquid soap nuts for 10 minutes and polish until they shine.

Organic soap nuts are the way to go to follow a green lifestyle as they are safe for our health and for the environment, while being efficient for many purposes just like many other organic products. You can buy soap nuts easily online.

The super fruits and a close-up on organic tart cherry juice

What are super fruits?

Super fruits are fruits that are promoted through the evidence of the health benefits they provide. Super fruits are rich in nutrients and antioxidants and can be included in the daily diet for general wellness. Super fruits include rare fruits that are attractive for their novelty and that are sold as raw materials to the neutraceuticals, functional food and beverages companies to produce healthy fruit juices, smoothies or fruit blends.

The effectiveness of super fruits for their health benefits is determined via the ORAC scale (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) that calculates their antioxidant power (to fight aging and degenerative diseases). The higher a fruit ranks, the higher its antioxidant capacities are. Super fruits include blueberry, acai berry, pomegranate, blackberry, goji berries (wolfberry) or noni to name a few. However, other fruits commonly known from the general public can also fall under this category for their high content of antioxidants even though they are not bringing novelty to the market. Such fruits include grape, mango, cranberry, tart cherry and much more.

Tart cherry juice health benefits

The tart cherry also known as Montmorency cherry or the “healing cherry”, a cherry commonly grown in Michigan, USA.
Tart cherry has been used for centuries in traditional medicine to soothe inflammatory conditions (it works like ibuprofen without side-effects) and pain associated with arthritis, muscle pain, back pain, gout (by lowering the uric acid) and diseases from the nervous system.
Tart cherry has high antioxidant effect (they contain 6 times the amount of melatonin than other cherries; melatonin is a derivative of seratonin that promotes good sleeping cycles) and therefore, tart cherry is said to be used to combat insomnia. On the ORAC scale mentioned earlier, tart cherry juice rates very high with 12,800 ORAC units per 100g. Tart cherry is also rich in in the following: potassium, calcium, vitamins A, C, B6, E and folic acid.

How to use organic tart cherry juice and where to find it

certified organic tart cherry juiceOrganic tart cherry juice is said to be more effective that any other form (such as dry fruits for example or capsules) because the beneficial nutrients are conserved and therefore, the ORAC values remain. To benefit fully from this healthy tart cherry juice however, it is preferable to choose a 100% natural pure juice free of artificial preservatives, fillers, additives, refined sugar and GE (genetically engineered) cherries and if possible, even favor a certified organic tart berry juice. It is also good to eat fresh tart cherries as much as a hand full a day if available at the grocery store. Like for any other organic products, always check the label to ensure it is truly organic and pure juice.

Organic tart cherry juice can be found in health food stores or online. It is recommended to drink 2 spoons to half a glass a day depending on what you wish to achieve (maintenance of good health or treat a condition).
Tart cherry growers were asked by the Health Authorities in the States to increase the demand in this super fruit and to promote its health benefits so it seems that we will hear more and more of this powerful fruit and hopefully, see more studies related to its health benefits.

Organic arnica cream: the must-have remedy for bruises, sprains and traumas

Arnica montana is a mountain plant that grows in Europe up to 3000 meter-high. The plant measures from 20 to 60 cm and has one yellow flower head of 5 cm diameter that blooms between May and August. It belongs to the Asteraceae (sunflower family) and its smell resembles of the pine. As a matter of fact, arnica often grows where pine trees grow. Arnica has been used since centuries and was discovered by mountain people who used it to heal bruises, bumps, contusions and trauma in case of falls. Stems and leaves are often hairy (depending on the species) and this is why arnica comes from the Greek word “Arni” which means lamb to remind the soft and hairy texture.

weleda-arnicaArnica is typically used in arnica oil, arnica ointment or arnica balm (liniment) as a remedy for traumatic injuries such as bruises, strains, sprains and even broken bones. It acts by dilating blood capillaries to increase the blood flow to and from the injury and helps reduce swelling, activates blood circulation, decreases the pain associated with the trauma and speeds up healing. However, arnica should not be used on an open wound. Arnica is often used by athletes to soothe muscle pain when they have been overworked.

As a cream, arnica can be used in case of psoriasis and eczema for its anti-inflammatory properties and can complement organic evening primrose oil or organic borage oil for this purpose.

Arnica is not to be taken internally as it contains helenalin, a substance that can be toxic and can induce internal bleeding. However, it is commonly used in homeopathic remedies (like cures like) in small dosage as an anti-inflammatory and facilitates wounds healing after surgery.

Organic arnica cream, arnica oil or arnica ointment is a must-have remedy in one’s home in case of a trauma occuring as it helps re-balance quickly physical, mental, emotional or spiritual disturbances. Favor organic arnica that is 100% natural and has not been treated with chemicals just like other organic products.

Buy Weleda arnica now! Weleda have been providing natural products since 75 years. Weleda stands for the Celtic goddess of wisdom and healing.

Organic argan oil, the new miracle skin care product or “liquid gold”

Argan oil is derived from the argania spinosa tree fruit. The argania spinosa tree grows in the South-West of Morocco in very dry soils and measures between 8 to 10 meters. It always stays green which makes it interesting considering the harsh climate it grows under and can live up to 200 years. The argan fruit is green, reminding an olive but bigger and rounder. A hard shell nut is found in the fruit and the same nut contains 2 or 3 kernels, the shape of an almond.

argan treeThe argania spinosa tree is a heaven for goats that feed from its fruits. The argan oil production is taken care of by Berber women using traditional methods to crush the kernels and extract the oil. The oil is a cold-pressed oil so the nutrients remain intact. The remaining part of the kernel is used to make a chocolate-like paste with peanut butter taste.

Argan oil benefits

Argan oil is darker than olive oil and has a nutty flavour. organic argan oilThe oil is rich in omega 6 and 9 and contributes to the reduction of bad cholesterol levels, to the relief of inflammation and to the promotion of healthy looking hair and breaking nails while improving skin conditions and skin irritation. It is also rich in Vitamin E, a powerful anti-oxidant. Unfortunately, argan oil is deprived of omega 3 so a combination intake of complementary oils is suggested such as organic borage oil or organic evening primerose oil.

Organic argan oil or the “liquid gold” is an amazing treat for the skin when used topically as it is a natural hydrating agent that keeps the skin naturally moisturized and helps prevent aging and wrinkles. It promotes skin elasticity by renewing the skin structure and therefore, it can be used to reduce the appearance of stretch marks. It can improve skin conditions in case of acne, psoriasis or eczema. It is also an amazing oil to strengthen breaking nails, to make hair shine and avoid split ends. You can try the organic shampoo for dry hair with borage oil and evening primrose oil.

buy organic argan oilOrganic argan oil can be used internally or directly on the skin. Internally, we recommend to use the oil in salads dressings as the oil cannot be heated. Topically, argan oil can be used on clean face and body to hydrate the skin and fight the aging process. One can also apply argan oil and then soak in a bath for a better absorption into the skin. As a hair product, we recommend to apply organic argan oil from scalp to end and leave in for 30 minutes before the shampoo. This is will promote hair growth, shiny hair and stimulates the scalp micro-circulation. As a remedy for splinting nails, soak your fingers in organic argan oil mixed with lemon juice and repeat one or twice a week.This will guarantee strong looking nails. Argan oil can also be used on your baby skin to smoothe and reduce skin redness.

For best results, organic argan oil must be used on a daily basis over a period of a few months. Not only organic argan oil is an amazing natural remedy but it also provides women in Morocco with jobs, a steady income and access to education as they are the ones perfecting the oil extraction since centuries. The governement of Morocco has funded Women Cooperatives to promote argan oil production. These cooperatives support women in their jobs but also promote responsible harvesting practices to protect the environment and encourage reforestation and fair trade.

Organic evening primrose oil for dry skin

Evening primrose is a plant originating from North- America that has been used by Amerindiens since centuries as a food (the root) and also as a traditional medicine remedy (leaves and seeds) to ease various conditions such as respiratory problems, skin conditions or to heal wounds or bruises thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties.

In the 18th century, the plant found its way to Europe and in the 20th century, evening primrose started to be widely used for its rich content of essential fatty acids (Omega 6).

Also known under the latin name Œnothera biennis, and the King’s cure-all plant, evening primrose grows from June to September up to 1000 meter high. It is around 1.50 meter and the yellow flowers are made of 4 petals. Evening primrose belongs to the family of Onagraceae. The flower has a very short life span of 24 hours. It opens around nineish in the evening in one minute or so and therefore is also called moon flower.

Roots, leaves and seeds are used in phytotherapy but the most widely used part is the seeds for their high content in gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). Gamma-linolenic acid is an essential fatty acid scarcely found in nature, only in a few plants such as evening primrose, borage, blackcurrant seed oil or spirulina and has anti-inflammatory properties without the side effects of other anti-inflammatory drugs. Evening primrose oil is made from evening primerose seeds.

organic evening primroseOrganic evening primrose oil is recommended for cardiovascular health as it may help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. It is used for inflammatory conditions such as arthritis or rheumatism. It also said to alleviate premenstrual syndromes, to boost the immune-system, to have an hepato-protector activity in case of over-consumption of alcohol and even to help in case of hang-overs.

Evening primrose is mainly sold in capsules containing the yellowish thick oil of the seeds but also in bottles. Results are expected to be seen 6 weeks to 3 months after starting taking evening primrose.

As a topical application, evening primrose oil can help to get rid of eczema, acne, skin inflammation (such as rosacea) and even psoriasis. It is a powerful nourishing ingredient for very dry skin and is also used as an anti-aging remedy (internally and externally) thanks to its skin cell-regenerating properties. It smoothers fine lines and wrinkles and gives a better skin elasticity. Evening primrose oil capsules can be used directly on the skin to give it a better looking feel in general. Additionally, an internal treatment should complement the topical use but only under the supervision of a doctor or naturopath. It can be combined or used in alternance with organic borage oil.

Organic evening primrose oil should be favored for the way the plant is grown and processed. Organic farming uses natural fertilizers vs. chemicals to promote the growth of the soil and plant; insects and birds are used to prevent diseases vs. insecticides; crops are used in a rotating manner to avoid the growth of weed vs. the use of herbicides. Organic farming guarantees that the plant itself won’t be contaminated by chemicals that we would innavoidably intake or apply on our skin if it was not the case. However, like for any other organic products, always check the ingredients and the origin of the product to ensure it is truly organic.