Authors Posts by Nahid Ameen

Nahid Ameen

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Healthy Recipes for Vision Health

Recipes for Vision Health

As promised last week here are the two recipes for impeccable vision health.
Vision Health Smoothie Recipe

Ingredients:

 Spinach (1/2 cup)
 Carrots (1/4 cup)
 Blueberries (1/4 cup)
 Baby Kale (1/2 cup)
 Mangoes (1/4 cup)
 Bilberries (1/4 cup) or Amla Juice (3 tbsp.)

Methods:

1. Dice and chop the spinach, mango, carrots, and kale.
2. In a high-speed blender add 1 cup of water and rest of the ingredients including
blueberries and bilberries/amla juice.
3. Blend until smooth. Pour in a glass and drink fresh.

Ayurvedic Vision Health Herbal Tea Recipe

Ingredients:

 Dried Amla Berry, powder – ½ tsp,
 Dried Calendula or Marigold, petals – 1 Tsp.
 Saffron, 2-3 strands
 Turmeric – ¼ tsp.
 Black or Nigella Seed – 2 pinches
 Orange Juice – ½ cup
 Ginger Juice – ½ Tsp.

Methods:

1. Boil 2 cups of water and add amla, calendula, saffron, turmeric and nigella seeds.
2. Brew them for 15 to 20 minutes.
3. Strain the liquid in a mug and add the orange and ginger juice.
4. Drink warm.

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Ayurveda and Yoga Practice for Best Eye or Vision Care

Ayurveda, Yoga and Herbal Medicine in North America show us abundance remedies available
for Vision Health.

Vision is the most beautiful of all senses as it allows us to experience the
world around us and the people we care for. Therefore, we must take good care of our eyes.
In Ayurvedic Medicine, Yoga and Herbal Medicine urge you to improve your vision. I will
discuss here tips, remedies, foods, and herbs that can improve many aspects of your vision
health.

If you are a follower you already know I suffer from significant vision loss due to a genetic
condition Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP). It is a complex disease that requires a lot of managing.
However, for the purposes of this blog, I am only going to mention other conditions and how to
improve them such as night blindness, nearsightedness, blurry vision, fatigued eyes, watery
eyes, cataract and headaches due to straining the eyes. I believe you can significantly improve
these conditions.

Night Blindness (Nyctalopia): Inability to see in dim light or at night. Night blindness can be due
to Vitamin A or zinc deficiency, cataract, glaucoma, side effects of medications, RP or from
birth.

Nearsightedness:  Inability to see things clearly unless they are relatively close to the eyes,
owing to the focusing of rays of light by the eye at a point in front of the retina

Blurry Vision: Lack of sharpness of vision with, as a result, the inability to see fine detail.

Fatigued Eyes: Due to many hours spent in front of the computer, phone, TV or other devices.
Watery Eyes (Epiphora): tear persistently or excessively; could be caused by inflammation or
dry eyes.

Cataract: A medical condition in which the lens of the eye becomes progressively opaque,
resulting in blurred vision.

Dietary Care for Vision Health

1. Remove foods that contain refined or white sugar, white flour, refined or hydrogenated
fats, food additives, food colors, and toxic chemicals.
2. In Ayurvedic Medicine, it is recommended to follow the shape and color of the food to
understand which part of the body it is good for. Almond laid horizontally looks like
eyes, blueberries look like eyeballs and carrots cut in round looks like eyes. These foods
are amazing for vision health due to antioxidants, fatty acids, and Vitamin A and E
content.

3. Adding foods that are organic and pesticide-free fruits and vegetables.

4. Adding colorful foods – red, orange and yellow will provide a wide range of vitamins,
mineral, and carotenoids. Carrots, yellow-orange squashes, pumpkin, sweet potato,
tomatoes, papaya, oranges etc. are excellent for vision health.

5. Adding leafy greens meals once a day is utmost important for Vitamin A and B Vitamins.
Leafy greens such as kale, collard, spinach, Swiss chard, mustard greens, rapini,
watercress, arugula, cilantro, parsley are top choices. There are also beet greens, turnip
greens, bok choy, romaine lettuce that are also available. In Bangladesh, a purple color
leafy green called “laal shaag” was extremely popular for vision health.

6. Diet rich in Essential Fatty Acids such as flaxseed oil, evening primrose oil, black seed oil
or algae oil. A 1000 mg will change your vision health.

7. Adding turmeric to food or as a tea can boost the vision health and the immune system.

8. An easy way to combat vitamin and mineral deficiency without cooking is if the client
owns a high-speed blender they can make a vision health smoothie for themselves. I will
share in another blog post.

Lifestyle Improvements

Triphala Eye Wash: Make a decoction of Triphala powder in water. Stain and put the water in a
glass dropper bottle. Amla juice or ghee is also suitable options. Apply a few drops a day of the
herbal remedy of choice. Speak with a practitioner before you attempt this.

Sunglasses: Wearing sunglasses may help protect the retina from ultraviolet light and help slow
vision loss.

Quit Sugar: White sugar, simple carbohydrates, and baked goods can cause glaucoma or
cataract. I highly recommend removing it. Add honey, molasses or stevia instead.
Quit Smoking/Being around Smokers: Increases the chance of getting cataract or making is
worst, damages the optic nerve and accelerates macular degeneration. This is important for
night blindness, fatigued and watery eyes.

Anti-Glare Screen: A monitor screen that is treated to reduce glare from light sources. This may
be an important protective device for people working in front of a computer. This is important
for blurry vision, fatigued and watery eyes.

Eye Yoga: Clients with vision loss may experience a gradual loss of flexibility and tone of the eye
muscles. Some of the best practices are a visual perception with palming, eyeball rotation and
vision shifting. See video below by Yoga Vidya

Other Yoga: Surya Namaskar/sun salutation, spinal twists, triangle, cobra and Shavasana/rest
pose.

Palming: Rub both hands to create heat. Close your eyes and gently place palms on each eye.
Repeat this a few times.

Moon Sighting: In yoga practices sun gazing is popular however with RP clients eyes are too
sensitive so, moon gazing (indirect sunlight) could be beneficial for this condition.

Acupuncture: A study was published in 2011 wherein it was discovered that acupuncture
protects the optic nerve from damage caused by intraocular pressure by alleviating stresses on
retinal and optic nerve axonal ultrastructure. Chinese medicine improves retinal cone activity
for patients with Retinitis Pigmentosa, even in advance cases.

“TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) treatment could also enhance the bioactivity of (the) nerve
network and therefore have a definite significance in retarding the progression of disease and
keeping the central vision.” – Health CMi

I will be sharing a fantastic Vision Health Smoothie recipe and a Vision Health Herbal Tea recipe
soon.

Please let me know if this blog helped you and what do you do to keep your vision health intact.
Always remember before making any changes you speak with your primary health care
practitioner. We are all unique individuals and not every remedy is suited for all.

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First Aid Kit

Ayurvedic Medicine starts in your kitchen! The kitchen pharmacy is an ideal tool for anyone
who wants to use “food as medicine” even for minor first aid situations. Note that this blog in no
means encourages you not to call your doctor or go to the emergency. However, for some minor
injuries, you can start with what you have in hand.

Keeping an Ayurvedic First Aid Kit for home and day trips may be handy for you and your
family.

Do you already have a first-aid kit in your home? If not it’s probably a good idea to have one and
keep it filled with necessary materials such as BandAids, scissors, tweezers, and dressings. But
did you consider that you could also add many natural products in addition to what you have?
Ayurveda uses natural substances that you can prepare at home to use as first aid remedies.
Your kit should have arnica, aloe jel, honey, turmeric, ajwain, calendula ointment, neem oil,
thieves spray, ginger candy and a selection of essential oil. You must keep the kit away from
children’s reach.

Why do we want a First Aid Kit?

There are many health issues that can arise that we should be prepared for, such as:
 Skin wounds, injuries, cuts, and bleeding
 Soft tissue damage such as strains and sprains
 Bug bites and rashes
 Allergies
 cough and cold
 Minor burns
 Sunburns and heat stroke
 Digestive problems such as nausea and diarrhea
 Menstrual period cramps and other muscle cramps
 Headaches

First Aid Kit

Turmeric Powder

 For skin cutes, scrapes, and puncture wounds, you can clean the area and apply turmeric powder,
and then wrap it with gauze. Turmeric powder can be a capsule that is opened or using the
straight powder spice. This is a natural antiseptic and stops the bleeding, as well as reducing the
local pain. Turmeric can also be applied as a paste if you mix some powder with a bit of water
first to form a paste.

Honey
 Honey is a wonderful antimicrobial and healing food! It is widely used in Ayurveda, and there
are many types on the market. I prefer raw, unpasteurized honey, as well as Manuka honey. You
can apply honey to wounds, infections, and rashes. Ingesting this higher quality honey is
beneficial for peptic ulcers and digestive problems, as well as upper respiratory infections and
sore throats.

If you can find Black seed honey (Nigella Seed Honey) it is an excellent remedy for a migraine or
headaches.

Keep a small jar of honey in your first aid kit. Honey usually does not expire (just keep the
moisture out)

Neem Oil
 Neem is a tree growing in India and is widely used for many health conditions since ancient
times. Neem is an insecticide, antifungal and antibacterial, antioxidant, immune-boosting, helps
with skin and hair, acne, and popular for oral and dental health. Having some neem oil in your
home is a great way to tackle these health issues.

If you have food allergies where you suddenly break out in hives and it is itchy neem oil is an
excellent way to reduce the inflammation and itchiness.

Arnica
Arnica cream, gel, or internal pellets are usually homeopathic preparations that are a great first-
aid for bruises, pain, strains, sprains, injuries, joint and muscle issues, and swelling.

Aloe Vera gel
Aloe Vera gel is a popular healing product for any burns or sunburns. It cools the skin, reduces
inflammation and itching. It is rich in nutrients and antioxidants to heal the skin.

Calendula Flower Leaves
Calendula infused oil is extracted from the marigold flower and is found in various forms such as
creams, salves, and oils that are used topically for the skin. Calendula is a go-to for healing
rashes, eczema, psoriasis, damaged skin, and is popular in natural baby skin products as well.
You can get a cup of calendula petals (dried or fresh) and pour olive oil in it. Infused this is a
glass jar for a month. Strain the liquid from the petal and make your own ointment. This is an
excellent remedy for diaper rash.

Ajwain Tea:
A teaspoon of ajwain in two cups of boiling water makes an excellent tea for indigestion, overeating
and stomach ache. Keep a little ar of ajwain in your kit. You can also chew of the seeds.

Ginger Candy:
For a headache, nausea and stomach ache – if nothing is available ginger candy is a good start.

Cinnamon Tea:
For painful menstrual cramps take ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon powder or a stick of cinnamon and
boil it in water for 15 minutes. Strain and drink this water and you will get immediate relief.

Essential Oils
Essential oils are concentrated substances that have many healing effects on the body. Here are
some of my top ones:
   Lavender oil reduces pain, inflammation, and improves skin healing. Lavender oil is amazing
in relieving minor burn pain.
  Tea tree oil is anti fungal for skin infections as well as repelling lice (you can add it to shampoos
or sprays for the hair).
  Citronella oil repels mosquitoes. If you are bitten, various oils such as lavender,
 citronella, rosemary, and lemongrass diluted into witch hazel help reduce the itching and redness
  Lavender and peppermint essential oils are helpful to reduce headaches by diluting them
 in a carrier oil and applying to the temples or neck, or they can be inhaled from a diffuse.
  Eucalyptus essential oil is a decongestant that can be inhaled during sinus infections or
 applied as a chest rub when diluted in a liquid/solid carrier oil.
  Sandalwood essential oil has shown in studies to reduce eczema and dermatitis, and can
 be applied to the skin diluted in a carrier oil.
  Clove oil is great to have for relief of tooth aches and gum pain – one drop into the area
 creates a numbing effect due to ingredients such as Eugenio.

Thieves Spray
Thieves is one of my favorite essential oil blends, and is great as a hand sanitize and antiseptic
blend. Here is a blog I wrote on all the benefits of thieves oil and why you should have it in your
house.

Tea Bags:

Please keep 1-2 chamomile tea bags. They come in handy for digestive issues, nausea and
insomnia.

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Tea for Blood Sugar

Tea for Blood Sugar Management

Looking for some warmth during winter season? What about a warming cup of tea that also helps control your blood sugar? I have a healthy Ayurvedic tea recipe that you can enjoy!

Mix the following herbs and spices together. Dried leaves and spices can be stored for a long period of time in a glass jar in a cool dark place. 

Make a total of 100 grams of the following mix:

  • Holy Basil or Tulsi                    – 25
  • Cinnamon or Dalchini (chips)  – 20
  • Gymnema Sylvestre or gurmar- 20
  • Fenugreek or methi                 – 10    
  • Orange Peel                             – 15
  • Ginger or adrak                        – 10      

Why these ingredients? Because each one contributes certain benefits for blood sugar or health.

How to Make the Tea?

Take a teaspoon of the Herbal mix and add it to a cup or use paper tea filters. Add hot water into the cup and cover for 10 minutes so the herbs are infused in water. Enjoy this tea 15 minutes before meals or 1 hour after meals. 

Please speak with your doctor if you are any medication.

Benefits of this Tea:

  1. The herbs in the tea will balance erratic blood sugar levels.
  2. The tea will improve circulation and increase metabolism.
  3. It will reduce sugar and carbohydrate cravings.
  4. Taken regularly especially before meals will induce weight loss.
  5. It will reduce stress levels in the body. 

Holy Basil

Holy Basil is an important and sacred Ayurvedic herb that is warming, bitter, and pungent. It is great for vata and kapha. It is not the exact same as common basil, it is more pungent and bitter, with larger leaves. It contains antioxidants apigenin, eugenol, geraniol, linalool, and flavonoids that counteract free radical damage in the body. Studies show it lowers blood sugar, delays the development of insulin resistance, and reduces lipids.

Cinnamon

Cinnamon is a well-known spice that lowers blood sugar and also contains antioxidants. You should use true cinnamon (Ceylon cinnamon) if possible. Many studies show effects such as:

  • Decreases glucose levels after food
  • Has insulin-like activity
  • Stimulates insulin receptors on fat and muscle cells, which allows sugar to go into cells
  • Reduces triglycerides and LDL cholesterol
  • Is high in polyphenols and other compounds that are antioxidants which reduce free radical damage and increase the body’s endogenous antioxidants such as glutathione
  • Cinnamon added to the diet increases liver glycogen storage

Gymnema sylvestre

This herb is native to India and used in Ayurveda for over 2000 years for diabetes. Studies show that it reduces blood sugar and encourages glucose uptake by upregulating glucose transporter-4. It also lowers triglycerides and cholesterol. It is unique because of two reasons:

  • It reduces the desire for sugar cravings!
  • It may help regeneration of beta cells in the pancreas and enhances production of insulin with continual use.

Fenugreek

Fenugreek seeds and leaves have been used in Ayurveda for medicinal purposes. Fenugreek contains many micronutrients but specifically it contains a galactomannan soluble fibre which reduces blood sugar and causes satiety which contributes to weight loss. It also contains 4-hydroxyisoleucine, which increases the body’s production of insulin. Studies show it also reduces cholesterol. Fenugreek also reduces the Glycemic Index of food when eaten together.

Orange Peel

Orange peel contains pectin which is a fibre shown in studies to lower blood sugar, insulin resistance, and cholesterol. In addition, orange peel also offers vitamin C and other antioxidants, as well as a pleasant citrus scent to your tea!

Ginger

Ginger is an amazing warming spice used in many cultures for thousands of years. It has many antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Numerous studies show it reduces blood sugar, insulin resistance, triglycerides, and cholesterol. Gingerols also increase cellular antioxidants such as glutathione and inhibits the degeneration of pancreatic beta cells (that produce insulin).

Diet is very important in managing your blood sugar or diabetes. In addition to these wonderful herbs and ingredients, you can include bitter melon into your diet as well as fenugreek leaves into your food. Neem is also a great Ayurvedic herb that can be taken as a supplement capsule 15 minutes before meals, twice daily. As you can see, there are lots of natural ingredients you can use to manage your blood sugar!

Caution: If you are on blood-lowering prescription medications, use with caution as it may lower your blood sugar to dangerous levels. 

 

References:

Suanarunsawat T et al. Anti-diabetic and anti-oxidative activity of fixed oil extracted from Ocimum sanctum L. leaves in diabetic rats. Exp Ther Med. 2016 Mar;11(3):832-840.

Paul A Davis et al. Cinnamon intake lowers fasting blood glucose: meta-analysis. J Med Food. 2011 Sep ;14(9):884-9

Shanmugasundaram ER et al. Possible regeneration of the islets of Langerhans in streptozotocin-diabetic rats given Gymnema sylvestre leaf extracts. J Ethnopharmacol. 1990 Oct;30(3):265-79.

Persaud SJ et al. Gymnema sylvestre stimulates insulin release in vitro by increased membrane permeability. J Endocrinol. 1999 Nov;163(2):207-12.

Sajad Ahmad, WaniPradyumanKumar. Fenugreek: A review on its nutraceutical properties and utilization in various food products. Journal of th Saudi Society of Agricultural Sciences. 2016

Farzad Shidfaret al. The effect of ginger (Zingiber officinale) on glycemic markers in patients with type 2 diabetes. J Complement Integr Med. 2015 Feb 10

Debrup Chakraborty, et al. [6]-Gingerol isolated from ginger attenuates sodium arsenite induced oxidative stress and plays a corrective role in improving insulin signaling in mice. Toxicol Lett. 2012 Jan 10 ;210(1):34-43.

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Magnesium is a mineral we should be paying more attention to! It is part of over 300 biochemical reactions and the fourth most abundant mineral in our body, with 65% of it in our bones and teeth and 35% in our brain, hearth, blood, and cells. But many of us can have low magnesium levels, and this can lead to many common symptoms.

Causes of deficiency

-Intake of coffee, alcohol, smoking
-Long term use of diuretics               
-Birth control pills
-Poor nutrition
-Diarrhea, dehydration                                  
-Hyperthyroid           
-Kidney disease – Since the kidneys are regulators of magnesium homeostasis
-Celiac and IBD (due to impaired absorption of minerals)
-Antibiotics                           
-Stress
-Sweating                                          
-Exercise

As you can see, many things affect magnesium absorption. Food processing in itself reduces magnesium, up to 80% in milling of wheat for example. Phytic acid and oxalic acid found in many greens and grains also reduce magnesium. Absorption also depends on stomach acid level, diet, and our bodily requirements.

Effects of Low Magnesium

Many of us can have any of the following symptoms, but don’t always connect this to magnesium deficiency:

  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Weakness, fatigue
  • Nausea, GI disorders, constipation
  • Muscle cramps, especially in the legs at night, restless legs
  • Excessive body odour
  • Hypersensitivity to noise, startle reactions
  • Cravings for chocolate
  • Poor coordination
  • Insomnia, hyperactivity, irritability
  • Poor memory

Sources of Magnesium

  • Seeds – pumpkin, sesame, sunflower
  • Green beans
  • Spinach and other leafy greens – Magnesium is at the centre of the chlorophyll molecule which is the green pigment found in green vegetables.
  • Figs
  • Avocados
  • Lemons, grapefruit
  • Nuts – almonds, pecans, cashews, Brazil nuts
  • Apples, bananas
  • Soybeans
  • Seafood
  • Dark chocolate
  • Whole grains – wheat germ and bran, millet, brown rice

Bones

Our society focuses a lot on Calcium for bone health, but magnesium is also very important. Studies have shown that excessive calcium intake, as well as phosphorus, iron, copper, and zinc will lower magnesium absorption. Since 65% of our magnesium is in our bones, it is important for bone and teeth health. It has a structural role for bones, as well as being essential to osteoblasts and osteoclasts (bone cells), and needed for ATP (energy) formation in cells. Magnesium also is required by enzymes that metabolize vitamin D, which is crucial for bone health. Studies show that restricting magnesium intake results in osteoporosis!

Cardiovascular health

Magnesium relaxes smooth muscles found around blood vessels, reducing artery spasms and keeping heart rhythm regular. It also dilates blood vessels to reduce blood pressure. It works with calcium to regulate muscle tone of the heart. It is a cofactor to many enzymes, it is needed for ATP production (cellular energy), regulates ion channels, myocardial contraction, vascular tone, and thrombosis. Magnesium taurate is one form of magnesium specifically for improving cardiac function, contraction, and reducing blood pressure.

Muscles

Magnesium regulates muscle contractions and is a muscle relaxant. It is a great supplement for restless legs, muscle spasms, cramps, and sore muscles. It is also useful for PMS cramps and athletes who suffer from cramps. One form of magnesium: magnesium bisglycinate is a very well absorbed form. Another form, magnesium sulfate, is found in Epsom Salts, and is beneficial as a bath for muscle relaxation.

Digestive Tract

Due to its relaxant function on smooth muscles around the digestive tract, it can cause loose stools especially in the Magnesium Citrate form. It is helpful when you have constipation. Magnesium also activates enzymes involved in metabolism of protein, fats, and carbohydrates.

Relaxation and Nervous System

Magnesium is an anti-stress mineral, popular as a supplement before bed to calm, relax, and help you sleep. It is a natural muscle relaxant. Deficiency of magnesium results in neurological symptoms, as magnesium is important for nervous system health. In terms of supplements, it was shown that Magnesium threonate actually enters the CSF (cerebrospinal fluid) and brain, and has effects on learning and memory and is neuroprotective.

To get more magnesium in your diet, Consicous Health has many plenty of foods/recipes with magnesium-rich foods! Check out Cacao, Kale Salad, or Zucchini Noodles

 

References:

Sara Castiglioni et al. Magnesium and Osteoporosis: Current State of Knowledge and Future Research Directions. Nutrients. 2013 Aug; 5(8): 3022–3033.

Tangvoraphonkchai K, Davenport A. Magnesium and Cardiovascular Disease. Adv Chronic Kidney Dis. 2018 May;25(3):251-260.

Jan Philipp Schuchardt and Andreas Hahn. Intestinal Absorption and Factors Influencing Bioavailability of Magnesium-An Update. Curr Nutr Food Sci. 2017 Nov; 13(4): 260–278.

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“There is nothing better than a friend, unless it is a friend with chocolate.” ― Linda Grayson

Chocolate is the “Food of the Gods” for a reason: it not only tastes good, but has impressive health benefits.

Chocolate comes from cacao beans which are actually seeds of a fruit from the Theobroma cacao tree. It is native to Mexico, Central and South America, but now also grown in West Africa, Sri Lanka, and Malaysia. It grows well in rich tropical soil. Cacao was used by ancient civilization in Central America such as the Aztecs, Mayas, and Olmec. They used it in religious ceremonies, as currency, in beverages, and food. Columbus then brought the cacao bean to Europe but it was in the 1800s that chocolate was actually manufactured. Then various ingredients were added such as milk and sugar, turning it into modern chocolate.

Cacao Powder

Raw, unsweetened cacao powder is high in antioxidants. Various brands/types vary based on the cacao bean used, the roasting, grinding, and quality. To produce raw cacao powder, the cacao seeds and surrounding pulp are fermented in boxes. Unprocessed cacao beans are very bitter due to alkaloids so they need to be fermented. The seeds are then dried in the sun or ovens and shipped to cacao processors to be milled into chocolate liquor. Then the fat (cocoa butter) is mechanically pressed to produce powder.

Cacao powder is different than cocoa powder. Cacao is:

  • The purest form, raw, and the least processed.
  • High source of antioxidants such as flavonols, catechins, and beta-carotene
  • It is a superfood of nutrients, including a high source of magnesium as well as zinc, iron, calcium.
  • Has more fibre and monounsaturated fats
  • It has protein and amino acids

Cocoa powder:

  • Cocoa powder is a heated form of cacao, by undergoing a higher temperature processing
  • It is less expensive
  • It still contains some antioxidants
  • It may be mixed with more sugar
  • Dutch-cocoa is darker cocoa is alkalized and less acidic and richer in taste

Antioxidants

Cacao powder is one of the richest sources of antioxidants and there are many studies confirming the benefits of cacao powder or dark chocolate.

  • Dark chocolate was shown to have more than double the amount of catechins than green tea which is an antioxidant superfood.
  • A cup of hot cocoa had double the antioxidants than a glass of red wine.
  • Cacao powder has more antioxidants than blueberry, cranberry, and pomegranate

Cacao powder and dark chocolate contain high levels of polyphenols such as flavonols and proanthocyanins which are antioxidants. Flavonols are a class of phytochemicals found in plants. Cacao powder and unsweetened dark chocolate contains the most flavonols. Milk chocolate has less than half of its flavonols available since the milk protein binds the antioxidants, making them less absorbable. Milk chocolate also contains sugar and is more heavily processed, therefore making it less healthy. Therefore, to ensure you get the most health benefits, choose raw cacao powder or dark chocolate without additives!

Cardiovascular Health

Many studies show that cacao powder and dark chocolate improve cardiovascular health in the following ways:

  • Flavonols protect the epithelial cells lining the arteries which produce nitric oxide that dilates the arteries, increasing blood flow and decreasing blood pressure.
  • Magnesium in cacao is a vasodilator that reduces blood pressure
  • Dark chocolate reduces LDL oxidation (being a strong antioxidant). Lipid peroxidation is a factor in atherosclerosis and heart disease.
  • Dark chocolate consumption reduces C-reactive protein, which is a marker for inflammation
  • A meta-analysis showed that dark chocolate reduces the risk of Coronary Heart Disease, Heart Failure, and stroke

Blood Sugar

Choosing cacao powder or dark chocolate (without sugar added) can help lower blood sugar. Studies show cacao reduces blood sugar levels and improves liver enzymes. It also helps protect against insulin resistance. Cacao consumption has shown to have an inverse relationship with incidence of diabetes.

Mood and anxiety

Cacao powder and dark chocolate were shown to increase blood flow to the brain and reduce the levels of stress hormones. They also improve mood and contain magnesium which is relaxing. Cacao contains tryptophan which enhances relaxation. It contains phenylethylamine (PEA) which improves memory and mood as it induces acethylcholine, dopamine, and serotonin release. Cacao contains anandamide which improves mood and anxiety.

Cancer

Cacao procyanidins and catechins are shown to inhibit carcinogenesis. Cacao’s antioxidants also lower free radical damage that can contribute to cancer. Cacao also reduces inflammation which is associated with carcinogenesis.                         

Quality

Chocolate is popular in many countries, with European countries consuming half of the world’s chocolate. The Ivory Coast in Africa is the largest producer of cocoa. Cacao bean plantations employ locals to harvest the beans, dry them, and then are transported to companies. However, undercover investigations have discovered illegal child labour, therefore you should look for chocolate that is Fair Trade or organic.

Usage

You can use cacao powder in smoothies, baking recipes, raw desserts, pudding, smoothie bowls, homemade ice cream, cookies, oatmeal, coffee.

Try my delicious Spiced Chocolate Chip Cookies.

References:

Healing Spices, Baharat Aggarwal 2011

Food Science: Death By Chocolate   Elaine B Feldman, PhD   Nutrition Today 33(3): 1998

Brilliant Food Tips and Cooking Tricks: 5,000 Ingenious Kitchen Hints, Secrets, Shortcuts, and Solutions, David Joachim, 2004

SJ Crozier, AG Preston, JW Hurst, MJ Payne, J Mann, L Hainly, DL Miller. 2011. Cacao seeds are a “Super Fruit”: A comparative analysis of various fruit powders and products. Chem Cent J. 5: 5.

Lee Hooper et al. Effects of chocolate, cocoa, and flavan-3-ols on cardiovascular health: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized trials. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012 Feb 1.

Brian Buijsse et al. Chocolate consumption in relation to blood pressure and risk of cardiovascular disease in German adults. Eur Heart J. 2010 Jul;31(13):1616-23.

Jia-Yi Dong et al.  Chocolate consumption and risk of stroke among men and women: A large population-based, prospective cohort study. Atherosclerosis. 2017 Mar 4 ;260:8-12.

Sansone Roberto et al. Cocoa flavanol intake improves endothelial function and Framingham Risk Score in healthy men and women: a randomised, controlled, double-masked trial: the Flaviola Health Study. Br J Nutr. 2015 Sep 9:1-10.

Maria Monagas et al. Effect of cocoa powder on the modulation of inflammatory biomarkers in patients at high risk of cardiovascular disease. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Nov;90(5):1144-50.

Dirk Taubert et al. Effects of low habitual cocoa intake on blood pressure and bioactive nitric oxide: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA. 2007 Jul 4;298(1):49-60.

Zubaida Faridi et all. Acute dark chocolate and cocoa ingestion and endothelial function: a randomized controlled crossover trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Jul;88(1):58-63.

Sheng Yuan et al. Chocolate Consumption and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease, Stroke, and Diabetes: A Meta-Analysis of Prospective Studies. Nutrients. 2017 Jul 2 ;9(7).

Fei Gong et al. Chocolate Consumption and Risk of Heart Failure: A Meta-Analysis of Prospective Studies. Nutrients. 2017 Apr 20 ;9(4).

Susanna C Larsson et al. Chocolate consumption and risk of myocardial infarction: a prospective study and meta-analysis. Heart. 2016 Jul 1 ;102(13):1017-22.

Georgina E Crichton et al. Habitual chocolate intake and type 2 diabetes mellitus in the Maine-Syracuse Longitudinal Study: (1975-2010): Prospective observations. Appetite. 2017 Jan 1 ;108:263-269.

Chisa Matsumoto et al. Chocolate consumption and risk of diabetes mellitus in the Physicians’ Health Study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 Feb ;101(2):362-7.

Kang N, et al. Cocoa procyanidins suppress transformation by inhibiting mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase. 2006. J Biol CHem. 283(30): 20664-73.

Yamagishi M, et al. Chemoprevention of lung carcinogenesis by cacao liquor proacthocyanidins in a male rat multi-organ carcinogenesis model 2003.. Cancer Letters. 191(1): 49-57.

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Neem is an amazing Ayurvedic herb used for thousands of years for inflammation, infections, antioxidant support, dental health, and skin health. It is a tall tree (Azadirachta indica) in the Mahogany family native to India and Burma but now also in the Caribbean and South America. There are millions of neem trees in India and surrounding countries, found in areas like road-sides and backyards. Neem oil is obtained from the seeds within the fruit. The kernel contains up to 50% oil. More than 100 constituents have been isolated from the neem tree, and all the parts are used medicinally: leaves, flowers, seeds, fruits, twigs, roots and bark.

Dosha: PK-

Taste: Bitter, pungent, astringent

Energetics: Cooling

Traditionally, neem is a valuable herb used medicinally by local populations. This practice has continued into modern times.

  • Neem oil and tea was applied on babies and toddlers for illnesses, cuts, rashes, eczema
  • Neem leaves were boiled in water and used for washing wounds
  • Neem leaves were given for children’s intestinal worms, malaria, and fever
  • Neem is added to soaps
  • Neem is added to shampoos for controlling dandruff, scalp issues, and healthy hair
  • Neem is added to toothpastes and tooth powders for its antibacterial effects to support teeth and gum health
  • Neem twigs have been used for centuries to clean teeth as natural toothbrushes.
  • Neem is added to skin care products for psoriasis, eczema, and acne
  • Neem is taken internally as a supplement

Dental Health

Studies in Germany have shown that neem extract prevents tooth decay and is anti-inflammatory on the gums. It helps reduce the risk of periodontal disease and studies show it inhibits bacteria that’s involved in creating cavities. Neem is now added to more toothpastes and you can do an infusion of neem leaves to use as mouthwash. I love neem so much that I made my own Tooth Powder with Neem

First Aid

Neem is antibacterial, antiviral, and healing agent, thus it is great to have as a first aid option.

  • Cuts and wounds – Apply oil, or wash with neem soap. It increases blood flow and helps heal.
  • Burns – Apply oil or cream to decrease pain, kill bacteria, and stimulate immunity for healing
  • Sprains and bruises – Apply leaf tea, cream, or oil. It heals and increases blood flow
  • Ear ache – Apply directly to the ear canal to decreases inflammation and kill bacteria
  • Fever – Drink leaf tea to reduce fever

Infectious Diseases

Neem has shown in studies to inhibit various microorganisms that cause diseases. It is antimicrobial against food-borne pathogens such as Staphylococcus aureus/pyogenes, E. coli, Listeria monocytogenes, Bacillus cereus, and Salmonella, as well as various gram-negative bacteria. It kills sandflies causing Leishmaniasis. It inhibits the malaria parasite and chloroquinine-resistant malaria and reduce transmission of malaria. It is used to treat cholera and diarrhea especially traditionally in India. It inhibits Dengue virus. It reduces Chagas disease which affects millions of people in developing countries.

Skin and Hair

Neem has many skin benefits and applications. You can use neem oil, soap, cream or bath for healing eczema and psoriasis, while reducing inflammation. Neem lotion is good for dry skin and wrinkles. Neem in shampoos and hair products helps reduce dandruff, scaly flakes, and heal scalp issues. Neem is used in mosquito repellants and kills lice. Neem soap or cream is used to reduce acne and reduce acne-causing bacteria. You can do a neem powder paste for your hair as a hair mask to promote hair growth and quality.

Digestion

Neem is a bitter herb! Bitters have many digestive benefits, including stimulating digestive juice secretions, detoxifying the body, are antimicrobial, and support the liver. Neem is also anti-inflammatory and helps against inflammatory bowel disease and ulcers.

Blood Cleansing

Neem is a bitter herb, and like other bitters, it is known to support the liver detoxification pathways. It cleanses the blood and skin through its cooling properties (cooling pitta skin inflammation), removing toxins, providing antioxidant support, and supporting the immune system.  

Cancer

There are many studies showing anti-cancer effects of neem preparations and extracts. It works on various aspects of cancer such as antioxidant defenses, inhibition of proliferation, modulating various cell signaling pathways, tumour suppressor genes (e.g., p53, pTEN), angiogenesis (VEGF), transcription factors (e.g., NF-κB), and apoptosis factors (e.g., bcl2, bax).

I encourage you to get more neem into your life! Whether it is through herbal supplements or external uses, I’m sure you can benefit from its healing properties.

 

References:

Neem: A Tree for Solving Global Problems Report, National Research Council 1992 

Udeinya IJ, et al. Fractions of an antimalarial neem-leaf extract have activities superior to chloroquine, and are gametocytocidal. Ann Trop Med Parasitol. 2006. 100(1):17-22.

Mahfuzul Hoque MD, et al. Antibacterial activity of guava (Psidium guajava L.) and Neem (Azadirachta indica A. Juss.) extracts against foodborne pathogens and spoilage bacteria. Foodborne Pathog Dis. 2007. 4(4):481-8

Prashant GM, et al. 2007. The effect of mango and neem extract on four organisms causing dental caries: Streptococcus mutans, Streptococcus salivavius, Streptococcus mitis, and Streptococcus sanguis: an in vitro study. Indian J Dent Res. 18(4):148-51.

Abdel-Ghaffar F, Al-Quraishy S, Al-Rasheid KA, Mehlhorn H. 2011. Efficacy of a single treatment of head lice with a neem seed extract: an in vivo and in vitro study on nits and motile stages. Parasitol Res.

Harish Kumar G, et al. 2009. Nimbolide a limonoid from Azadirachta indica inhibits proliferation and induces apoptosis of human choriocarcinoma (BeWo) cells. Invest New Drugs. 27(3):246-52.

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“Stop and smell the roses”

What emotions do you get when you inhale the floral scent of roses? What memories, thoughts, and feelings are triggered?

Many aromatic plants such as roses contain essential oils, which are volatile oils that enter the body and trigger various effects. They are commonly inhaled or absorbed through the skin. Inhalation of essential oils carries the molecules to the limbic system in the brain which includes the hippocampus, amygdala, and hypothalamus which are involved in various behaviours such as memories, arousal, emotions, learning, desires, and appetite.

Rose is a symbol of love and romance.

Rose has a long history of use. It is thought that the first methods of distillation of essential oils in the Middle East were done on rose. The plant produces:

  • Rose essential oil
  • Rosewater
  • Dried flowers which are used in grocery products
  • Rose hips which are the berries under the petals. They are rich in vitamins, minerals and fatty acids, polyphenols, carotenoids and tannins. The vitamin C content of rose hips is higher than citrus fruits.
  • Rosehip oil
  • Rose concrete and rose absolute

Rose is not an easy oil to diffuse and requires a lot of raw material harvested at the right time. About 4000 pounds of roses yields 1 pound of essential oil. This makes it an expensive oil.

There are different varieties of rose from around the world that are used to make the oil. Commercial rose oil usually comes from two rose species: damascena (Damask rose) and centifolia. Bulgaria and Turkey are the main producers of R. damascena essential oil.

In Ayurveda, rose products were used as astringents, cooling agents, mild laxatives, and antibacterials among many other uses. Rose oil is also commonly added to the skin, diluted in a carrier oil (Eg. almond, jojoba, sesame oil etc) or as part of skin care products and massage oils.

Botanical Name: Rosa damascena

Dosha: VPK-

Taste: Bitter, pungent, astringent, sweet

Energy: Cooling, wet

Actions: Alterative, emmenagogue, refrigerant, nervine, carminative, laxative, aphrodisiac, stimulant, antidepressant, hepatic

Usage: Used in perfumes, skin care products, as a compress, added to baths, inhaled, used in massage oils, as a spray

Constituents: These vary based on the species and growth conditions. Main ingredients are: citronellol, citral, carvone, eugenol, phenyl geraniol, linalool, a-pinene, b-pinene, a-terpinene, limonene.

Nervous System Benefits

  • Rose essential oil helps to reduce anger and depression
  • Rose essential oil helps reduce headaches
  • Rose essential oil awakens the mind and boosts confidence
  • Rose essential oil has anti-seizure effects, probably due to the flavonoids that have affinity to the GABAergic system in the brain.
  • Rose essential oil shows protection against induced neuronal cell death. It also protects against aluminum-induced neurotoxicity.

Circulation Benefits

  • Rose essential oil increases blood circulation and is vasorelaxant
  • Rose essential oil benefits cardiac issues through massage. It increases heart rate and contractility and inhibits ACE enzyme

Aphrodisiac

  • Rose has been used for a long time as an aphrodisiac
  • Rose is common in perfumes. It is a symbol of love and romance. The scent stimulates desires, evokes romantic feelings, and boosts libido.
  • Rose promotes harmony and elevates the mind by creating a sense of well-being
  • Rose essential oil has shown in studies to increase sperm count, increase the diameter of seminiferous tubules, and protect against testicular damage

Reproductive System and Hormones

  • Rose essential oil stimulates hormonal secretions which can then trigger menstruation for those who are suffering from irregular cycles.
  • Rose essential oil eases cramps, nausea, and fatigue, relieving pain of PMS. One study with rose essential oil showed daily massage caused improved psychological, physical, social, and reduced PMS symptoms.
  • Rose essential oil increases salivary estrogen concentration and has been used during menopause to reduce symptoms

Skin Benefits

  • Rose is common in face creams especially for mature skin as it helps against wrinkles as well as dry skin. It is also an antioxidant that counteracts free radical damage that ages skin.
  • It is astringent so it is used in skincare for inflamed skin
  • It is moisturizing and helps reduce sunspots
  • It reduces scarring and improves healing of skin and stretch marks

Antimicrobial Effects

  • Rose essential oil is antibacterial due to ingredients such as citral, nerol, and farnesol. It has shown activity against many bacteria.
  • Rose essential oil is good for small injuries to prevent infection and improve healing
  • It has citronellol (also in citronella) which is a mosquito repellant.
  • It has methyl eugenol which is a local antiseptic and anesthetic
  • Rose essential oil is antiviral due to citronellol, geraniol, and kaempferol and has activity against Candida

There are many natural skin care products that have rose essential oil. The popular Weleda products have a rose renewing facial care line. Andalou has a rose line that uses rose stem cells and rosehip oil. Dr. Hauschka has had the Rose Day Cream since the 1960s. Of course you can also buy rose essential oil and rosehip oil in many health food stores. You can also make your own products using these oils!

Whipped Body Butter for Vata Dry Skin

  • ¼ cup shea butter
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • 1/8 cup avocado oil
  • 10 drops rose essential oil

In a double boiler, gently melt the shea butter and coconut oil. Add avocado oil. Remove, add to a bowl and let it cool down until it is not liquid anymore. Mix in the rose oil. With a hand mixer, whip it until it is fluffy. Store in a cool place (otherwise it may melt again).

Pitta Cleansing Paste

  • ¼ cup chickpea flour
  • Water
  • 6 drops rose essential oil

In a bowl, add flour and slowly mix in water stirring until a paste is formed. Add rose oil and mix. Rub onto the face and the wash away with water.

Simple Kapha Massage Oil

  • ¼ cup mustard seed oil
  • 12 drops rose essential oil

In a storage jar/container, mix the oils. Massage the body regularly.

And I have some exciting news!

I am currently working on an Ayurvedic Aromatherapy e-course that is detailed and comprehensive. It is organized into 12 modules that teaches you everything you need to know about Aromatherapy, and Ayurveda uses essential oils to balance doshas. You get a Materia Medica on dozens of essential oil, properties, and usages. You get all the health benefits of each essential oil organized per body system, based on research. You also get lots of DIY recipes with essential oils. This is a wonderful resource to have (for life!).

 

References

Hafiz Majid Rasheed et al. Chemical Composition and Vasorelaxant and Antispasmodic Effects of Essential Oil from Rosa indica L. PetalsEvid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015; 2015: 279247.

Shinohara K et al. Effects of essential oil exposure on salivary estrogen concentration in perimenopausal women. Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 2017 Jan;37(8):567-572.

Mahboubi M. Rosa damascena as holy ancient herb with novel applications. J Tradit Complement Med. 2015 Oct 30;6(1):10-6.

 

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Spring is a beautiful time of the year, with new growth and new life. But it is also a time of allergies! Many susceptible people are affected by allergens and triggers for asthma. There are many over-the-counter antihistamines and anti-allergy medications, but these offer quick relief without addressing the cause, therefore your allergies and asthma will continue occurring. There are also many natural ingredients that also work and changing your lifestyle and dietary habits can strengthen your body and reduce your allergies and asthma.

Allergies

In Ayurveda, allergies are caused by allergens that aggravate a specific dosha, causing symptoms and imbalance in various body systems. If you are vata, you may experience vata-type allergies which would be different that a kapha allergy. Once you have identified the correct dosha, you can balance your dosha with the appropriate foods and lifestyle.

In Kapha type allergies one may experience high mucus production, cough, sinus, congestion, cold and water retention. Avoiding all types of dairy containing food such as milk, cream, yogurt, kefir, cheese etc. would be important. Try the Fab and Glowing Kapha Detox Program.

It is also easy to identify Pitta type allergies which causes flare ups such as, rashes, itching, heartburn, acidity, vomiting and stomach upset. Avoiding citrus fruits, fermented foods and nightshades such as potato, tomato and eggplant is highly beneficial. Check out the Fab and Glowing Pitta Detox Program.

Vata dosha allergy symptoms are sneezing, wheezing, headache and twitching etc. Avoiding nuts and beans would be beneficial at this time. Even sprouted beans or lentils may be harmful – so be careful before consumption. The Fab and Glowing Vata Detox Program will guide you towards the right direction.

The Fab and Glowing Ayurvedic Detox Program is created if you don’t know what to eat or how to balance your dosha or if you need a simple guide with recipes and meal plans. 

The Ayurvedic recommendations include:

  1. Detoxify your body
  2. Improve digestion and elimination
  3. Balance the dosha with diet and lifestyle changes – avoid triggers and remove food allergens
  4. Strengthen the immune system

Aromatherapy is used in Ayurveda to balance your dosha and improve many health conditions. Essential oils are concentrated aromatic constituents in plants. They can come from flowers, woods, resins, barks, leaves, and roots. They enter the body in various ways, such as inhalation or through skin and make their way to various tissues. Inhalation of essential oils takes them straight to the brain (limbic system) to affect emotions, memory, appetite, and behaviours. For allergies and asthma, inhalation is a great way of directly affecting the respiratory system. Essential oils can be inhaled through a diffuser, a bath, though steam inhalation, or massage oils. If you apply them onto the skin, make sure you dilute them in a carrier oil. Essential oils that help against allergies include:

  • If you have a vata imbalance – Chamomile, lavender, clary sage
  • If you have a pitta imbalance – Lavender, lemongrass, rose
  • If you have a kapha imbalance – Eucalyptus, elecampane, patchouli, hyssop

To learn more about Ayurvedic Aromatherapy or how to safely apply Essential Oils you can see read my blog about  Ayurvedic Essential Oil.

Other therapies that can assist

  1. Apply neem oil topically for rashes or itchiness.
  2. Cilantro leaf juice – drink small amount of cilantro juice is cooling and could subdue allergic symptoms.
  3. Apply Nasya treatment to clean the nasal passageway.

For a complete treatment plan please learn about the Consultation packages I offer.

Asthma

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory condition of the airways, with narrowing of the airways that causes asthma symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest tightness, and mucus production. It is a hypersensitivity disorder in which the airways are susceptible and sensitive to triggers, which causes a release of histamine in the body. The narrowing airways either become inflamed, plugged with mucus, and constrict, or the muscles in the airway walls tighten and spasm. Allergies and asthma are connected because many people who have asthma, also have allergies. Also, many allergic triggers also trigger asthma.

There are natural remedies that strengthen the body and reduce these symptoms. In Ayurveda, asthma is an indication of increased kapha dosha production of mucus. Some general tips to reduce asthma include:

  • Avoid triggers
  • Follow an anti-inflammatory diet
  • Practice yoga and meditation to reduce stress and improve breathing
  • Improve digestion to reduce food sensitivities or undigested particles that can trigger immune reactions
  • Support the immune system

Essential oils can help with asthma. You can diffuse them or apply to the skin when they are diluted in a carrier oil.

-Peppermint oil – It is a decongestant (have you inhaled peppermint when your sinuses are clogged? It opens up your sinuses!). It is also antispasmodic.

-Eucalyptus – It decongests the airways and contains eucalyptol which breaks up phlegm. Eucalyptus is common in chest rubs because of its powerful decongestant effect.

-Chamomile – It is antispasmodic and relaxes the body. It can be diluted and rubbed on your chest

-Frankincense – It is a great anti-inflammatory agent and an expectorant (reduces mucus)

-Clove oil – It is antispasmodic, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory. You can also inhale this or use in a chest rub.

-Lavender – It is a sedative and anti-inflammatory

 

Herbs and Spices

Here are some herbs and spices that can help with allergies and asthma:  

  • Licorice – Has mucilage that is soothing and healing to the mucus membranes, and is also an expectorant to reduce excess mucus. In fact, one study showed it reduced inflammatory cell accumulation in the lungs.
  • Nettle – Reduces histamine, is anti-inflammatory, and is a nutrient-dense herb with iron, chlorophyll, vitamin C, and antioxidants.
  • Butterbur – This plant has shown benefits in studies for both allergies and asthma. It has a compound called petasin that blocks leukotrienes that cause inflammation. It reduces symptoms and is a bronchodilator.
  • Ginkgo biloba – It is an antihistamine and anti-inflammatory herb.
  • Ginger – This is a super-spice which is anti-inflammatory, reduces airway constriction, and relaxes smooth muscles. Make am anti-inflammatory tea of fresh ginger, turmeric, and minced garlic to reduce kapha mucus and inflammation.
  • Trikatu is an Ayurvedic blend of 3 pungent spices: ginger, black pepper, and long pepper. This helps reduce kapha symptoms such as mucus, cold and congestion.

If you have allergies or asthma, you don’t have to suffer! Commit to a dietary and lifestyle change, get clean, and healthy! For Ayurvedic or Herbal Health Consultation book here.

Written by: Laura Zagar CNP and Nahid Ameen CNP

Reference:

Light Miller and Bryan Miller. Ayurveda and Aromatherapy. 1995: Lotus Press.

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There is an important Ayurvedic herb that I want to talk to about, and that is Gotu Kola! Cantella asiatica has been thought of as a promoter for longevity and used by South East Asian cultures for millennia. It grows in the Himalayas and was used by yogis for meditation, as it has been said to develop the crown chakra (at the top of the head) and is a very spiritual herb. In Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine it was used for many health issues. In fact, a study in 2018 that examined the indigenous uses of plants as medicine in Northern Bengal of India, found that among the 100 plant species used locally, gotu kola was the most widely used, and for conditions such as diabetes, pain, jaundice, typhoid, gastroenteritis, pneumonia, and dysentery.

Dosha – VPK =

Taste: bitter, sweet, astringent

Energetics: cooling

Parts used: aerial parts

Ingredients

Gotu kola has carotenoids, B vitamins, vitamin C, protein, minerals, flavonoids, volatile oils, tannins, polyphenols. It also has asiaticoside and madecassoside which are anti-inflammatory and antioxidants. It also contains Asiatic acid and saponins. These ingredients make gotu kola good for inflammation, memory, wound healing, and promote collagen. 

Skin

Gotu Kola is known for skin healing and skin issues. Ayurveda used it for wounds, burns, scratches, eczema and skin inflammation. It promotes collagen and healing of scar tissue. Research has shown it improves wounds, burns, and psoriasis by increasing collagen synthesis, hyaluronic acid content, and inhibiting inflammation and scar formation. Studies on people also showed beneficial effects on cellulite. Madecassoside is prescribed in Asia for wound healing and scars.

Nervous System and Memory

Gotu kola was used in Ayurveda as a nerve tonic. In fact it has shown in many studies to be neuroprotective and enhance memory. It promotes enhanced scores on intelligence tests. It improves memory and cognitive function. Gotu kola promotes axonal regeneration following nerve damage. Madecassoside and Asiatic acid are agents that decrease neuroinflammation. Gotu kola has shown promising results in Alzheimer’s disease studies as well.

Adrenals

Gotu Kola has shown anti-stress and reduction of anxiety properties in humans.

Cardiovascular

Gotu kola helps reduce arterial plaque and Asiaticoside is anti-inflammatory and inhibits early events of atherosclerosis.

Digestion

Gotu kola helps protect against stomach ulcers and protects the mucosal lining of the stomach, where ulcers form.  

How to take Gotu Kola

You can eat gotu kola as a leafy green mixed with other greens in salads (such as Gotu Kola Sambola from Sri Lanka) or cooked into various recipes. You can make a tea, or blend some leaves into a smoothie. You can also blend gotu kola leaves alone into a smoothie and then use a strainer to separate the juice and drink it this way.

You can also find Gotu Kola in the form of pills, powders, tinctures, teas, and the dry herb, or even grow your own! There are many ways you can benefit from taking this wonderful herb!

 

 

References

Antony Joseph Raj et al. Indigenous uses of ethnomedicinal plants among forest-dependent communities of Northern Bengal, India. J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2018; 14: 8.

Wiesława Bylka et al. Centella asiatica in cosmetologyPostepy Dermatol Alergol. 2013 Feb; 30(1): 46–49.

Liu M et al. Anti-rheumatoid arthritic effect of madecassoside on type II collagen-induced arthritis in mice. Int Immunopharmacol. 2008 Nov;8(11):1561-6.

Xu Y et al. Gotu Kola (Centella Asiatica) extract enhances phosphorylation of cyclic AMP response element binding protein in neuroblastoma cells expressing amyloid beta peptide. J Alzheimers Dis. 2008 Apr;13(3):341-9.

Ahmad Rather M et al. Asiatic acid nullified aluminium toxicity in in vitro model of Alzheimer’s disease. Front Biosci (Elite Ed). 2018 Jan 1;10:287-299.

Hossain S et al. Medicinal value of asiaticoside for Alzheimer’s disease as assessed using single-molecule-detection fluorescence correlation spectroscopy, laser-scanning microscopy, transmission electron microscopy, and in silico docking. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2015 Apr 14;15:118.

Soumyanath A et al. Centella asiatica accelerates nerve regeneration upon oral administration and contains multiple active fractions increasing neurite elongation in-vitro. J Pharm Pharmacol. 2005 Sep;57(9):1221-9.

Sasmita AO et al. Madecassoside activates anti‑neuroinflammatory mechanisms by inhibiting lipopolysaccharide‑induced microglial inflammation. Int J Mol Med. 2018 Feb 9.

Wattanathorn J et al. Positive modulation of cognition and mood in the healthy elderly volunteer following the administration of Centella asiatica. J Ethnopharmacol. 2008 Mar 5;116(2):325-32.

Sirichoat A et al. Effects of Asiatic Acid on Spatial Working Memory and Cell Proliferation in the Adult Rat Hippocampus. Nutrients. 2015 Oct 5;7(10):8413-23.

Belcaro G et al. Pycnogenol® and Centella asiatica to prevent asymptomatic atherosclerosis progression in clinical events. Minerva Cardioangiol. 2017 Feb;65(1):24

Jing L et al. Anti inflammatory effect of asiaticoside on human umbilical vein endothelial cells induced by ox-LDL. Cytotechnology. 2018 Feb 19.

 

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