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Guggul

Guggul

Guggul, the sap of a tree native to India, has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for millennia – with texts going back to the year 600 B.C.  recommending it for treating hardening of the arteries.  Harvested by collecting the hardened sap that flows out of small cuts made in the tree’s papery bark, guggul is something of wonder drug from the ancient world. In Latin, Hebrew and ancient Greek it was known as bdellium.

Guggul is one of Ayurveda’s most powerful purifiers. The long list of conditions it has been used to treat includes:  Weight loss, arthritis, acne, atherosclerosis, gingivitis, high cholesterol, inflammation, and thyroid problems.

Guggul is sometimes recommended as a way to remove long-accumulated toxins naturally from the body. The Chopra Center recommends guggul for those who have spent a lot of time on antibiotics or for those quitting the use of drugs or alcohol.  You can read more about Ayurveda and guggul from the Chopra Center website here: http://www.chopra.com/community/online-library/ayurvedic-herbs-foods/guggulu

Be sure to consult with a health professional before taking guggul as it can have a number of interactions with medications.  If you want to know more about the pharmacological aspects of guggul – and don’t mind a bit of a technical read – check out this excellent page: http://www.toddcaldecott.com/index.php/herbs/learning-herbs/363-guggulu

With a fragrance similar to myrrh, guggul is also used for incense and perfume. Many people are worried about sustainable and ethical management of the Commiphora mukul tree. While the tree is native to India, it can be found growing in arid regions from northern Africa to central Asia.  Loss of habitat due to human encroachment and over harvesting has focused attention on the plight of this fragile gift of nature.

If you would like to read more about one herb company’s effort to rally around sustainable harvesting and protection of the plant’s habitat, you can read more at Pukka’s blog: http://www.pukkaherbs.com/blog/the-organic-guggul-cultivation-project/

soymilk carrot cake smoothieSoymilk Carrot Cake Smoothie

Makes four servings

Ingredients:

  • 20 to 30 ice cubes (depending on how thick you want your smoothie to be)
  • 2 cups plain, unsweetened soymilk
  • 1 cup carrot juice
  • 2 tablespoons raw honey
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Directions:  Place the ice cubes in the blender first, then add the rest of the  ingredients.  Blend until smooth. Pour into glasses and serve.

http://www.lafujimama.com/2011/10/soymilk-carrot-cake-smoothies/

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Sun Tai Chi

Sun Tai Chi

By now you have probably heard of tai chi.

If not, you have probably at least seen people in parks practicing coordinated, slow, smooth, whole-body movements and wondered what they were doing.

Characterized by slow, smooth, circular motions, tai chi is an ancient Chinese martial art that has been practiced for health reasons for hundreds of years.

Sun style tai chi, or just simply Sun tai chi, is a style of tai chi which emphasizes flow of motion and gentle movements while building strength and flexibility – an ‘all gain, no pain’ approach to exercise.

It was founded by Sun Lutang, son of a poor Chinese farmer who lived from 1861 – 1932 and dedicated himself to the study of martial arts and their use in health. This form of tai chi is the most modern.

You can read more about the history of Sun tai chi at www.suntaichi.com.

Sun tai chi is a mindfulness practice, with a strong mind-body link and pays special attention to breath. Some consider it meditation through motion.

One of the many great attributes of tai chi is that is can be adapted for most anyone, from the most fit to those confined to wheelchairs and people recovering from surgery, notes this excellent article in Harvard Women’s Health Watch:

http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletters/Harvard_Womens_Health_Watch/2009/May/The-health-benefits-of-tai-chi

It can be done indoors or out and requires no special equipment, just comfortable clothing that is easy to move in.

The Harvard article goes on to mention that tai chi has been linked to improvements in overall health in people with conditions including arthritis, heart disease, breast cancer, heart failure, osteoporosis, stroke, insomnia and Parkinson’s disease.

Even the world-renowned Mayo Clinic recommends tai chi: “When learned correctly and performed regularly, tai chi can be a positive part of an overall approach to improving your health. The benefits of tai chi include:

  • Decreased stress and anxiety
  • Increased aerobic capacity
  • Increased energy and stamina
  • Increased flexibility, balance and agility
  • Increased muscle strength and definition

Some evidence indicates that tai chi also may help:

  • Enhance quality of sleep
  • Enhance the immune system
  • Lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure
  • Improve joint pain
  • Improve symptoms of congestive heart failure
  • Improve overall well-being in older adults
  • Reduce risk of falls in older adults

You can read more here: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/tai-chi/SA00087

So if you are looking for something low-impact with a wide array of benefits, try searching the web for local Sun tai chi classes.

Apple and Beet Smoothie

Apple and Beet Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup orange juice
  • 1 gala apple peeled and diced
  • ½ cup frozen mixed berries
  • ⅓ cup raw or roasted beets, diced
  • 1- inch piece ginger
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 teaspoon agave
  • ¼ cup coconut milk or soymilk
  • 2-3 ice cubes

Instructions:

Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

http://citronlimette.com/recipe_archive/drinks-and-smoothies/apple-and-beet-smoothie/

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