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ayurvedic

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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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Courtesy of Laura Navrotski

Fenugreek Sprouts for your Salad

Making your own fenugreek sprouts is easy and a tasty addition to any salad! Fenugreek seeds are used as a spice but are actually legumes that can be sprouted like other legumes. Sprouting increases the nutrient content as well as digestibility of the legume. You can use these sprouts raw in salads. You can add up to one cup at a time, depending on your taste. For safety reasons, ensure that you store the sprouts in a safe container in the fridge for a few days.

Fenugreek Nutrients

-Iron – 1 cup provides about 8mg of iron

-Fibre – 100g of seeds provides 25g fibre. In fact, fenugreek is used as a food stabilizer and emulsifying agent due to its fibre, protein, and gum content. Seeds contain insoluble and soluble fibre and the gum portion contains galactose and mannose which are associated with its blood sugar lowering effect.

-Protein – 100g of fenugreek seeds contain 23g protein

-B vitamins, folate

-Many minerals such as calcium, zinc, selenium, manganese, copper

But keep in mind that sprouting the seeds will alter or increase the content of many of these nutrients.

Studies have shown that fenugreek has these benefits:

Promoting milk production while breastfeeding

-Helps with PMS symptoms by balancing hormones

-Lowers blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglycerides

-Helps with digestion and gas, including colic

-Antioxidant and lowers lipid peroxidation which is a factor involved in atherosclerosis

-Helps with inflammation and asthma

Ayurveda

Pungent and bitter. Warming. Balances kapha and vata doshas.

How to Sprout Fenugreek Seeds

  1. Obtain a desired amount of fenugreek seeds (can be purchased in bulk or packaged), you could start with 1/4 cup
  2. Choose a good sized mason jar with a wide lid. Remove the lid, and place a mesh or cheesecloth or muslin cloth over the mouth of the lid, secure tightly with an elastic band.
  3. Place the seeds in the jar, fill with water, secure the mesh on top and leave for 12 hours (or overnight).
  4. After 12 hours, remove the water, rinse carefully under running water, and pour out all the water (through the cloth). Once the water is emptied, place the jar horizontally (or at a little bit of an angle on a plate). You can keep it on the kitchen counter, not in direct sunlight, but not in the dark either
  5. Twice a day (once in the morning, once before bed) rinse the jar under water, through the cloth. Place back on the plate.
  6. After 2 days, sprouts will show. However, leave the sprouts to grow longer, for up to a week.
  7. At the end, remove the sprouts and store in a container in the fridge.

 

Reference:

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

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Ayurvedic Roasted Turmeric Potatoes

I have been cooking with turmeric a lot lately. It is a wonderful spice that provides many health benefits for inflammation, skin health, nervous system, digestion, as well as being anti-septic and anti-cancer. Actually.. I am writing a Turmeric e-book that will be out soon! All the benefits of turmeric, the history, and the >100  study references behind turmeric will be discussed, as well as >60 recipes of food and body care uses!

Turmeric is pacifying for vata, pitta, and kapha

Turmeric is bitter, pungent, astringent

Turmeric is heating and drying

In the meantime, enjoy this recipe!

Ingredients:

  • Potatoes, 3
  • Sesame seed oil, 2 tbsp
  • Garlic cloves, minced. 2
  • Turmeric powder, 1/2 tsp
  • Cayenne, 1/4 tsp
  • Paprika, 1/2 tsp
  • Himalayan salt, to taste
  • Lemon juice, 2 tsp

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450F/230C
  2. In a small bowl add the spices and mix with sesame oil
  3. Clean the potatoes and  slice into wedges
  4. Add the potatoes in a bowl and coat them with the mix
  5. Spread the potatoes on a baking sheet
  6. Bake for 20 minutes, take them out to flip them, bake another 10 minutes
  7. Check with a fork that the potatoes are cooked.

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