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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!!

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Thyme

Thyme 

Just in thyme for the beginning of the cold and flu season, nature’s herbal throat-soother may be growing in your garden.  This perennial herb has been used medicinally for thousands of years for everything from sore throats and laryngitis to skin disorders and intestinal parasites.

That’s quite a list for an herb as small, compact and hardy – not to mention as tasty – as thyme.  Best grown in sun and well-drained soil, thyme does well both in containers as well as in the ground, especially along paths as a sturdy, fragrant ground cover.

Low growing, with delicate leaves on woody stems, thyme comes in a nearly endless variety and range of colors including green, yellow and silver. Botanists recognize 300-400 species throughout the continents of Africa, Asia and Europe according to the website efloras.org  <http://efloras.org>.

Known for having both antibacterial and antifungal properties, oil of thyme is used to fight fungal nail infections naturally. Current research from Leeds Metropolitan University in the United Kingdom shows that thyme can even kill the bacteria that cause acne.

“If thyme tincture is proven to be as clinically effective as our findings suggest, it may be a natural alternative to current treatments,” researcher Margarita Gomez-Escalada, PhD, says in a news release.  Many current acne treatments contain benzoyl peroxide, a harsh chemical with frequent common side effects including skin irritation and burning sensations.

Thyme was used in ancient Egypt and Greece. It was the Romans who were credited with spreading thyme through Western Europe.  Thyme is a main ingredient in the French bouquet garni herb bundle and used to flavor so many mouth-watering Provençal dishes. In the Middle East it is a key component to the za’atar mixture of savory herbs and spices, and a fixture dish in many regions.

Try making a simple tea from fresh thyme leaves next time you have a sore throat.  Or better yet, try making a delicious and nutritious smoothie like this one:

throat taming smoothieThroat Taming Thyme Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup fresh pineapple
  • 1 cup rice milk
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon honey

Directions:

Put all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. For a thicker smoothie use only 1/2 cup of rice milk and 1.5 cups of  pineapple. The rice milk can be replaced by water. For a cold smoothie  use frozen pineapple.

http://veggiestylewithdaphne.com/2013/06/07/a-throat-taming-smoothie/?cb=09709207529667765

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