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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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Cranial-Sacral Therapy

Cranial-sacral therapy

Using extremely gentle touch, cranial-sacral therapy (CST) subtly and lightly manipulates connections between the cranial bones and certain points on the spine to restore balance to the nervous system.

Once considered quackery, CST is gaining mainstream acceptance, especially as a relief for anxiety and side effects of cancer treatments. It can be performed by medical doctors and osteopaths but is most commonly done by specially trained body workers.

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center recommends cranial-sacral therapy for a range of conditions including:

  • Migraine and tension headaches
  • Temporomandibular joint pain
  • Neck, shoulder girdle, and lower back pain
  • Whiplash and other post-traumatic injuries of the head and neck
  • Fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Problems with alertness, concentration, or memory
  • Anxiety and stress-related problems

http://www.upmc.com/services/integrative-medicine/services/pages/craniosacral-therapy.aspx

According to the Upledger Institute, named for John E. Upledger, the osteopathic physician and professor who developed the technique, CST compliments the body’s natural healing processes and can also be “used as a preventive health measure for its ability to bolster resistance to disease, and is effective for a wide range of medical problems associated with pain and dysfunction..”

Read more here: http://www.upledger.com/content.asp?id=26

Layered Green Pudding

Layered Green Pudding

Serves 10

Put 10 clear glasses on tray.

For the bottom layer blend well:

  • 1 cup blackberries
  • 2 apples, chopped
  • 1 lemon sliced with skin
  • 4 sprigs mint
  • 2 cups water

The liquid in your blender will be thin. Turn your blender on lower speed and add 4 heaping teaspoons psyllium powder while blender is running. Stop the blender and quickly pour into glasses, filling each glass approximately one third.

For the middle layer blend well:

  • 4 cups spinach (or 1 bunch)
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 3 oranges (peeled, seeded and sliced)
  • 2 cups water

The liquid in your blender will be thin. Turn your blender on lower speed and add 4 heaping teaspoons psyllium powder while blender is running. Stop the blender and quickly pour into glasses, filling each glass approximately one third, on top of the bottom layer.

For the top layer blend well:

  • 2 cups cranberries
  • 7 large pitted dates
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 2 cups water

The liquid in your blender will be thin. Turn your blender on lower speed and add 4 heaping teaspoons psyllium powder while blender is running. Stop the blender and quickly pour into glasses, over two previous layers. The pudding will solidify in a matter of minutes. Decorate with fresh fruit and greens.

http://www.rawfamily.com/news/2009/12_09_01.html

Bibhitaki

Bibhitaki

Bibhitaki is the Indian name for the a tree – and its fruit – which is known in English as Terminalia bellirica.

This large, deciduous tree is common in India and Southeast Asia where it is planted as a shade tree and often lines busy boulevards. However, its real gift isn’t shade, but rather its fruit and bark, which have been used for thousands of years as medicine.

According to Deepak Chopra, M.D., an Ayurvedic doctor and founder of the Chopra Center:

“Bibhitaki is an excellent rejuvenative with both laxative and astringent properties. It eliminates excess mucous in the body, balancing the Kapha dosha. In addition, bibhitaki is a powerful treatment for a variety of lung conditions, including bronchitis and asthma.”

You can read more about bibhitaki and its uses, including as part of Triphala, a three-fruit preparation used for health and cleansing in Ayurvedic panchakarma treatments for thousands of years, here: http://www.chopra.com/community/online-library/ayurvedic-herbs-foods/triphala

WebMD.com notes that bibhitaki is used for the following problems:

  • Respiratory ailments including infections, coughs and sore throats
  • High cholesterol
  • Digestive disorders including indigestion, constipation and diarrhea
  • Sore eyes
  • Chest pain and angina

In addition, it seems to have an inhibitory effect on the HIV virus though much more research is needed on the subject. Likewise some studies have shown it to be anti-malarial.

It also seems to have antioxidant and anti-aging applications and is used to protect the liver. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17049775

An excellent web article if you want to learn more about bibhitaki can be found here: http://www.toddcaldecott.com/index.php/herbs/learning-herbs/389-bibhitaki

It’s a pretty weighty read with a lot of scientific information but does a great job of rounding up the current research on the benefits of bibhitaki.

Strawberry Spinach Sunbutter Smoothie

Strawberry Spinach Sunbutter Smoothie

Serves 1

Ingredients:

  • 1 frozen banana, sliced
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1 large handful spinach leaves
  • 2 Tbsp sunbutter
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt (I use Fage 0%)
  • 1/2 cup plain unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 Tbsp ground flax seed
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

Instructions:

Add all ingredients to blender or food processor and blend until smooth, scraping down sides and breaking apart chunks of fruit as necessary. Pour into a glass or bowl and enjoy!

http://www.coffeeandquinoa.com/2013/03/strawberry-spinach-sunbutter-smoothie/

 

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