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Brahmi

Brahmi

Brahmi is a plant that has been used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine as a brain-booster. It is named for Brahma, the Vedic God of creation who, according to Indian mythology, created the universe with his thoughts while a state of deep meditation.  According to the website WebMD, “Brahmi is used for Alzheimer’s disease, improving memory, anxiety, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder  (ADHD), allergic conditions, irritable bowel syndrome, and as a general tonic to fight stress. “They go on to explain that, “Brahmi might increase certain brain chemicals that are involved in thinking, learning, and memory. Some research suggests that it might also protect brain cells from chemicals involved in Alzheimer’s disease.

That’s a lot of brain benefits for one small herb.  This low-growing, perennial herb is native to watery shores and muddy banks throughout India and much of Southeast Asia. Also commonly known as water hyssop, this plant is now found in wet and watery locations throughout the world – even as far as Florida.  Fans of aquaculture, aquariums and hydroponics cultivate the  white-flowered herb for ornamental reasons, but devotees of natural  medicine and herbology know brahmi is more than just a pretty posey  -it’s potent medicine.

Another good article for information on the uses of brahmi is this excellent feature from the website of the famous pop physician, Dr. Mehmet Oz: http://blog.doctoroz.com/oz-experts/herb-of-the-month-brahmi.

People with thyroid conditions should consult their doctor before taking brahmi as it can have an effect on thyroid levels. It has also been linked to temporary reduction in sperm count in males taking the herb, so another note of caution for our male readers.  Brahmi comes in many different forms – dissolved in oil or ghee, in pill form, or even in a powder, which is easy to add to other foods, such as smoothies. So if you feel like your brain might be firing a little more slowly than usual lately, brahmi might be just the thing to help you straighten out your thinking cap.


Biba Berry Smoothie

Biba Berry Smoothie

  •  Serves 1-2 
  •   1 cup wild blueberries
  •  1/2 cup almond milk
  •  1/2 cup water (as needed)
  •   1 scoop Vanilla Protein Powder
  •  1 tsp maca
  •  1 tbsp lucuma
  •  1 tbsp chia seeds
  •  5 drops liquid vanilla stevia

Directions: Blend ingredients (save for bee pollen) in a high-speed blender until a smooth consistency is reached. Serve immediately in your favourite glass and top with a tsp of bee pollen. Toast to the beauty of Biba fashions and yourself, and sip on some berry bliss.

 

Chiropractic

Chiropractic

Chiropractic is a health care specialty focusing on the musculoskeletal and nervous systems.  While considered alternative treatment or complimentary medicine in the United States, chiropractic care has been gaining more acceptance, especially for musculoskeletal problems like low back pain, the most common reason people seek out chiropractic physicians.  Increasingly, insurance companies are covering chiropractic care for certain conditions, and consumer demand remains high.

Common conditions treated by chiropractic include:

  •  Headaches, migraines
  • Upper, mid, lower back pain & stiffness
  •  Neck pain and stiffness
  •  Pinched nerves, muscle spasms
  •  Leg and arm pain, tingling, numbness, weakness
  • Sports injuries
  • Leg and arm joint pain or dysfunction
  • Carpal or Tarsal tunnel syndrome

According to the American Chiropractic Association, chiropractors  “practice a drug-free, hands-on approach to health care that includes patient examination, diagnosis and treatment.”  Trained in nutrition and rehabilitative therapies, chiropractors perform joint manipulations – or adjustments – in order to restore joint mobility.  Appointments require no special preparation. Generally first visits include a thorough health history and a physical exam paying special attention to the spine. The chiropractor may recommend x-rays or other diagnostic tests.  Other treatments may include:  Heat and ice, Electrical stimulation, Relaxation techniques, and Dietary supplements.

Considered generally safe, most side effects of care – any pain or soreness – usually disparate fairly quickly.  The non-invasive, drug-free, whole-person approach has been derided by much of the mainstream medical community since chiropractic was developed in the late 1800’s. In fact, in a federal antitrust case that went on during the 70’s and 80’s, a group of chiropractors had to sue the American Medical Association to effectively end a boycott of the profession. The judge sided with the chiropractors, and now doctors were free to refer people to chiropractors for appropriate conditions.

You can learn more at the following links:

http://www.acatoday.org/level2_css.cfm?T1ID=13&T2ID=61 http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/chiropractic.html

http://www.webmd.com/pain-management/guide/chiropractic-pain-relief


apple almond smoothie

Apple Almond Butter Smoothie  

  • 1 med organic Granny Smith apple – refrigerated
  • 2 Tbsp almond butter or other nut butter of your choice
  • 1 cup almond milk or other non-dairy milk of your choice
  •  1 tsp raw agave (optional)
  • 1 cup ice

Instructions: Core and peel the apple then cut in large chunks. Blend all of the ingredients except the ice together. Add ice and blend until smooth and creamy. Enjoy.

Yield:  makes 1 serving.

Gymnema

Gymnema

Native to central and western India, tropical Africa and Australia, Gymnema sylvestre is a slow-growing, climbing plant that has been used to treat diabetes for 2,000 years.  Although scientific research and large trials are lagging, the area of study is picking up as diabetes grows as a world health concern. With more than 150 million people currently living with diabetes, and not all able to afford (or desiring to use) pharmaceuticals, research is going back to the body of medicine long practiced in India.

Considered an astringent in Ayurveda, Gymnema pacifies Kapha and Pitta and reduces blood sugar levels.  Type 2 diabetes, also known as adult-onset diabetes, is basically a disease caused by they accumulation of a lifetime of bad eating habits and over-consumption of refined starches and unhealthy carbohydrates, such as sugar. This type of diabetes accounts for about 90 percent of all diabetes cases in the world.

Gymnema leaves have been demonstrated to have an “anti-sweet” effect, although the exact mechanism is unknown. The leaves are also noted for lowering serum cholesterol and triglycerides.  In addition to its use in diabetes and metabolic disorders, Gymnema is used in Ayurveda to treat the following conditions:

  • asthma
  • constipation
  •  cough
  • dental cavities
  • eye complaints
  • inflammations
  • malaria
  • snakebites
  • dental cavities

Check out the following link if you would like to read more about Ayurvedic treatment of diabetes: http://www.chopra.com/files/docs/teacherdownloads/actpapers/Diabetes%20-%20Madhumeha,%20Angela%20McGinnis.pdf

Additionally, Gymnema has antimicrobial properties and acts as a natural  caterpillar-deterrent in fields and farms. It’s also used in cosmetics.  If, like me, you happen to be the kind of person for whom too much information is never enough, you can read more about Gymnema sylvestre in The Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2170951/


Spiced Pear Smoothie

Spiced Pear Smoothie 

  • 1 medium pear, cored, quartered
  • 1 cup almond milk
  •  1″ piece of fresh ginger, peeled, minced
  •  1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  •  2-3 ice cubes

Directions: Place ingredients into a good powerful blender until smooth and creamy.  Thin with water or thicken with ice if desired. Enjoy!

Yield:  makes 1 serving.

Cancer

Cancer

The word used to strike so much terror it was whispered in hushed tones as if the mere mention could cause the disease to strike. While the subject still isn’t pleasant, our knowledge and ability to treat some – if not most – cancers has improved markedly.  Some of the confusion arises over the name.  Cancer isn’t just one thing. Instead, it a disease of a process that allows cells to grow unregulated. Cancer can occur almost anywhere in the body, and cancer in some parts of the body are relatively easy to treat and have high survival rates, like testicular cancer, and other cancers can be extraordinarily difficult to diagnose and treat and are still most often deadly when discovered, like pancreatic cancer.

Treatments like surgery, chemotherapy and radiation have radically improved cancer survival rates, and many types of cancer are now considered a manageable disease – more akin to having a chronic condition rather than the sword of Damocles it once was.  Of course, if you have never been diagnosed with cancer you still probably don’t want to be, no matter how much modern medicine can help.  So the most practical thing all of us can do – regardless of current or future diagnosis – is to take care of ourselves.  Eat well.  If you smoke, stop.  Get enough rest.  Find time to exercise.  Learn to relax.  Avoid the things you know are bad for you. Enjoy the things you know are good for you.

While some cancer research focuses on the genetics of cancer, and other research on drugs, treatment and cures, for most of us who are not oncologists and medical researchers, health and lifestyle are the only weapons we have.  In fact, one study in the medical journal The Lancet, found that 35 percent of cancers have triggers that can be modified by lifestyle choices. You can read more here:  http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(05)67725-2/fulltext  <http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736%2805%2967725-2/fulltext&gt;

Fortunately, some lifestyle choices are sweet, like this amazing smoothie recipe, developed by a foodie going through chemotherapy.


berry almond smoothie

 Berry Almond Smoothie 

 

  • 12 ounces almond milk
  • 1 banana
  • 1⁄2 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
  •  1⁄2 cup fresh or frozen strawberries
  • 3 tablespoons raw almond butter

Directions: Combine all ingredients in a blender and mix at medium speed for about one minute or until mostly smooth. If a thinner smoothie is desired, add more water or almond milk and blend for a few more seconds.

Yield:  makes 24 ounces.

Neem

Neem

Neem is a tall, tropical evergreen tree found primarily in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Also known as Indian lilac, the neem tree has long been used as a medicinal remedy and new uses and qualities continue to be discovered.  “Neem leaves have been used traditionally as a blood cleanser due to their antiviral, antifungal, anti-parasitic, and antiseptic qualities,” writes Kulreet Chaudhary, MD, in the Dr. Oz Blog. “Neem leaves are also used to treat many eye disorders such as conjunctivitis, skin conditions such as acne and rosacea, stomach ulcers, poor appetite, diabetes, gum disease, fever, liver disorders, and arthritis. It is also great for the heart and used to prevent blood clots.”  You can read the full article here:  http://blog.doctoroz.com/oz-experts/herb-of-the-month-neem

In addition, neem is currently being researched in India for the treatment of cancer. According to one review, more than 140 compounds have been isolated from different parts of neem. That’s a whole lot of complicated compounds for one simple evergreen. You can read more in this review: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15777222

One particular area of interest with neem – and one that is likely to become more important in the coming years – is that neem has antibacterial qualities but doesn’t cause bacterial resistance over time. Given the soaring rates of hospital infections and the rise of antibiotic resistant bacteria – sometimes called superbugs – scientific    interest in neem is rising.  However, it’s very important to remember that neem leaves also contain spermicidal compounds.

If you are pregnant, trying to become pregnant, or breastfeeding, you should not consume products with neem because it may result in miscarriage and is dangerous for infants and very young children.  Despite precautions against taking it internally in those circumstances, neem can be an effective toothpaste ingredient, and is highly effective against many of the bacteria that cause periodontal disease (read more in my previous bog). It’s also a common ingredient in anti-acne products and intestinal parasite cures for the very same reason.

Hopefully all that talk of parasites hasn’t put you off your appetite.  In case it has, here’s a particularly pretty smoothie recipe to perk your digestive fire back up again, courtesy of the blog Girl Makes Food.

Healthy thin mint smoothie

Healthy Thin Mint Smoothie  

Serves: 2-4

Ingredients: 

  • ¾ cup plain, unsweetened Greek Yogurt (I used full fat)
  • ¼ cup Fresh Mint (tightly packed)
  • 1 cup Almond Milk
  • ¼ cup Chocolate Chips
  • 1 cup fresh Baby Spinach
  • Maple, to sweeten, to taste (I used 1 tablespoon)
  •  1-2 tablespoons Cocoa Powder (optional, it will bump up the chocolate flavor, but it will make the smoothie a muddier color)
  • 2 cups Ice

 

Instructions: Combine all but ice in the blender Blend until smooth Add the ice and blend Add more ice to thicken and/or chill as desired. Slurp time!!

Gokshuradi Guggulu

Gokshuradi Guggulu 

According to Banyan Botanicals, “Gokshuradi Guggulu is a traditional Ayurvedic compound used to support the proper function of the genitourinary tract. It strengthens and tones the kidneys, bladder and urethra as well as the reproductive organs.”  They go on to say that:  The main ingredient, gokshura, is renowned for its rejuvenating action on the kidneys and prostate. Combined with guggulu, triphala and trikatu, it detoxifies the urinary system and supports healthy urinary composition. Balancing to all doshas, Gokshuradi Guggulu revitalizes the genitourinary system by calming vata, soothing pitta and eliminating excess kapha. *” You can read more about it here: http://www.banyanbotanicals.com/prodinfo.asp?number=7141

Guggul is made from the sap (gum resin) of the Commiphora mukul tree, which is native to India. This tree has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries, and Ayurvedic texts dating back to 600 BC recommend it for treating atherosclerosis.  While it has a long history, it still has modern uses.  “Today guggul gum resin is used for arthritis, lowering high cholesterol, “hardening of the arteries” (atherosclerosis), acne and other skin diseases, and weight loss,” according to the website WebMD.  Triphala is a three-herb mixture known for detoxification and one of the most commonly recommended Ayurvedic preparations for basic, internal health and cleansing. Trikatu is a digestive tonic and detoxifier.  Together this combination provides powerful support for vital systems.  Of course we all know one other thing that can help support all your vital systems – and that’s a delicious and nutritious smoothie.

perfect breakfast smoothie

The Perfect Breakfast Smoothie  

 

  • 3/4 cup blueberries
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 – 1 banana [always depended on how many I had left]
  • 1/2 teaspoon agave or honey
  • 1 teaspoon matcha [for your caffeine-kick]
  • 1/2 scoop whey protein [if you have any]

Directions:  If you have whey and/or matcha, what you want to do first is pour in the almond milk and then add the whey and/or matcha and blend.  Not only does this make the smoothie deliciously frothy, but it also mixes up the powders so they aren’t gross, ruining your smoothie one clump at a time later.  Once blended add blueberries, banana, agave and yogurt. I like to keep the blueberries by the top so they don’t stunt the movement and yogurt closest to the blades to help with blending. I also like to hide the agave in between the fruit and yogurt so it doesn’t get stuck to the sides.  With the bullet I blend it for about 2 minutes, 3 tops and then that’s it. You are good to go! If it’s too thick, add extra almond milk until you have it to your liking. If you’re full time fancy, feel free to put it in a glass… but be warned, that will take longer and create extra dishes.

Chandraprabha

Chandraprabha

Chandraprabha Vati is a common and popular Ayurvedic medicine particularly helpful for problems of the genitourinary tract in both men and women.

Chandra means moon, and like the moon, this preparation is meant to take away the darkness of the night – by purifying and rejuvenating naturally with the body’s own healing powers.

Chandraprabha Vati is a tablet made up of small amounts of many different herbs and minerals. It contains natural ingredients which help clear up urinary tract infections.

It is also taken to reduce inflammation and aggravation of the genitals and reproductive organs and it is often prescribed to ease symptoms of certain sexually transmitted diseases like syphilis and gonorrhea.

According to the website ayurmedinfo.com, Chandaprabha Vati balances all three doshas.

In addition to being used for a number of genitourinary problems, it is also recommended for diabetics because it affects glucose metabolism, insulin resistance and relieves diabetic neuropathy.

You can read further about the individual ingredients and what they each do here: http://ayurmedinfo.com/2012/06/29/chandraprabha-vati-benefits-dosage-ingredients-and-side-effects/

It’s a long list, but worth the read.

In men, chandaprabha can help relieve premature ejaculation and urinary flow problems caused by benign enlargement of the prostate.

In women, chandaprabha can treat a number of irritating and sometimes serious maladies, including menstrual disorders, ovarian cysts and fibroids, according to planetayurveda.com. So if your monthlies have been giving you the blues it might be just the thing to try.

Very Berry Smoothie

Gorgeous Very Berry Smoothie

Serves: 8

Ingredients

  • 1 16oz bag of frozen mixed berries (strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries)
  • 1 banana
  • 2 cups almond milk (might need more, depending upon consistency desired)
  • 2 scoops vanilla protein powder
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • A dash or two of fresh ground Himalayan sea salt

Instructions:

Combine all ingredients into a blender; mix well.

Add more almond milk as needed to reach desired consistency (some like it thicker than others)

http://crazyadventuresinparenting.com/2013/07/gorgeous-very-berry-smoothie-recipe.html

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