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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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“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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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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