|Natural Alternatives for Your Total Health
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“The natural healing force within each one of us is the greatest force in getting well.” ~Hippocrates
IN THIS ISSUE:
1) SHIITAKE MUSHROOMS: CHAMPIONS OF THE IMMUNE SYSTEM
2) THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF JASMINE SAMBAC
3) BODY SCAN GROUNDING EXERCISE
1) SHIITAKE MUSHROOMS: CHAMPIONS OF THE IMMUNE SYSTEM
By Shawn Meirovoci, ND
Lentinula Edodes is a mushroom native to East Asia, which is now cultivated worldwide for culinary and medicinal purposes. This mushroom is usually referred to as Shiitake, which is its Japanese common name, based upon the “Shii” tree that the mushroom grows on.
Shiitake has been cultivated for over 1000 years. During the Ming Dynasty (A.D. 1368-1644) Chinese physician Wu Jue wrote that the mushroom could be used medicinally as a remedy for upper respiratory tract infections, poor circulation, liver pathologies, exhaustion, premature aging, and as a Qi (life force) tonic.
Shiitake has a nutty and earthy taste, making it a common delicacy of the culinary world. Many chefs prefer to use sun-dried Shiitake since the drying process seems to enhance the flavour. Interestingly, the effect of UV light on the mushroom converts ergosterol into vitamin D, making the sun-dried variety a dietary source of this vitamin. Shiitake is often sautéed in Chinese cuisine, used to flavour soup in Japanese cuisine, and steamed, simmered, or fried in Thai cuisine.
From a naturopathic perspective, Shiitake is a fascinating mushroom due to its application in health care, easy incorporation into the diet, and excellent safety profile. Current research is discovering that extracts of this mushroom have immune system regulating properties, along with antibacterial, antiviral, and blood clot inhibiting properties. A study published by the Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology in 2009 reported that polysaccharide extracts of Shiitake were shown to stimulate the function and activation of macrophages. Macrophages are white blood cells involved in the body’s initial response to infection (destroying pathogens and sending out chemical signals to the immune system to mount an attack on invading organisms).
In 2006, the Biological Pharmacology Bulletin published a study that examined the efficacy of a hot water extract of Shiitake on protecting hepatocytes (liver cells) from the toxic agent D-galactosamine. The result was that 0.5 mg/ml of the Shiitake extract completely suppressed the cytotoxic (liver cell death inducing) effects of D-galactosamine. The study continued to examine the effect of injecting the Shiitake extract into rats treated with D-galactosamine. The result was less leakage of AST and ALT (both chemical blood markers of liver cell injury).
Lentinan, a common extraction of Shiitake used for medicinal purposes, was researched with regard to its immune regulatory applications in individuals living with HIV. In 1998, the Journal of Medicine (AIDS Activities Division, San Francisco General Hospital) conducted a double-blind placebo control trial on 98 patients with HIV. Patients were administered either 2, 5, or 10 mg of Lentinan or placebo via intravenous (I.V.) once a week for eight weeks. Side effects of the I.V. administered Lentinan were generally mild when administered over a 30-minute period. The patients in the study receiving Lentinan demonstrated a trend toward increases in CD4 cells (the white blood cells targeted for destruction by HIV), and in some patients, increased neutrophil (the primary white blood cell involved in the response to infection) activity.
Like all things we ingest, there is potential for allergic reaction to Shiitake. Be careful and observant when ingesting crude Shiitake or Shiitake extract for the first time. Shiitake is easy and inexpensive to grow at home and makes for a healthy and flavourful addition to one’s culinary palate.
Shiitake mushrooms can be substituted for white or brown mushrooms. As a snack, try a simple Shiitake sauté with garlic, olive oil, soy sauce, and a bit of butter or olive oil, sea salt, and pepper.
It is easy to make traditional Shiitake dashi (Japanese mushroom soup stalk). Just add 18-20 dried Shiitake mushrooms and a strip of kombu (kelp) to 8 cups of water. Let the mixture sit until the water darkens and the mushrooms become completely soft. Now you can use the rehydrated Shiitake’s for other dishes and the stalk can be used for anything from soup stalk to risotto stalk.
About The Author: Shawn Meirovici, N.D., B.A. is a Naturopathic Doctor in Toronto. He publishes monthly articles about seasonal food, describing the latest research pertaining to its medicinal properties, on his website, ChefND. He also has a special interest in arthropathies, chronic pain management, weight loss, and natural cosmetic treatments. He is located at the Kulhay Wellness Clinic. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (416) 961-1900. For more information, visit www.kulhaywellness.net and www.chefnd.com
2) THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF JASMINE SAMBAC
By Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DABFM
Jasmine sambac has been known for its abundant health benefits and medicinal uses for thousands of years. Although native to Southeast Asia, this flowering evergreen has been used by people around the world. The ancient Egyptians and Greeks used extracted jasmine oil in aromatherapy as a stimulant and aphrodisiac. Indian medicine used it to soothe slow-healing sores. The Chinese have even used it to flavor tea.
Some varieties of jasmine sambac are known as ‘Maid of Orleans’, ‘Belle of India’, and ‘Grand Duke of Tuscany’. No matter the name, it offers wonderful health and medicinal applications. With so many uses, it’s no wonder its original name has remained — ‘Jasmine’ means ‘a gift from god.’
Traditional Uses of Jasmine Sambac Supported by Science
Modern research has supported many of the traditional claims regarding its healing properties. Jasmine oil has proven to increase alertness and improve mood while supporting healthy blood flow and blood-oxygen levels. The aroma of jasmine has even been shown to be as effective as sedatives without any of the unpleasant side effects such as depression, dizziness, or impaired motor function. Jasmine has also been found to have a toxic effects against some harmful organisms.
Scientists have identified several active compounds in Jasmine. They include flavonoids and coumarins, which promote vascular health, cardiac glycosides which aid heart function, and phenolics, which help the body to detoxify. Based on these findings, it is easy to understand why jasmine has been treasured through the millennia.
Jasmine Sambac for Natural Skin Care
Jasmine has also been used as an anti-aging remedy. Its effects go beyond good piece of mind and natural relaxation. Jasmine has been attributed with promoting healthy, smooth skin.
It makes sense. Stress and anxiety restrict blood flow and reduce blood-oxygen levels, limiting the body’s ability to remove toxins. Environmental pollutants introduce even more toxins into our bodies. These toxins damage tissue and skin.
As noted, the aroma of Jasmine has been proven to soothe, encourage a restful state and reduce stress. The natural compounds naturally support healthy blood flow and higher blood-oxygen levels. Combine these and jasmine presents a natural way to aid the body’s efforts to eliminate toxins and promote youthful looking skin. For that reason,
3) BODY SCAN GROUNDING EXERCISE
Balancing Your Physical and Spiritual Aspects
By Phylameana lila Desy, About.com
Grounding exercises help tremendously with maintaining a balance of our physical and spiritual bodies. As a healer, I have learned that being energetically grounded allows me to be better equipped in facilitating healing for clients and also to create and maintain wellness in my own life.
In this article I give instruction for a scanning technique I have used for many years to help balance the body/spirit connection. I do this exercise each night while laying in my bed before I sleep.
Diagnostic in nature, this body scan will help you become more fully aware of both subtle and not-so-subtle sensations of your physical body. This is an excellent tool for identifying all physical stresses and upsets, especially those underlying imbalances you may not be aware of. Pain can be so overwhelming in one part of the body that the rest of the body gets neglected. The body scan is an exercise in assembling the larger hurts alongside the minutest details of stresses which you may have overlooked within your body. It is helpful to bring our awareness to the less obvious.
In addition to the apparent grounding benefits of this body scan exercise, another side benefit is that sometimes the most painful hurts are miraculously lifted from the physical during the body scan process.
For example: A throbbing headache may get temporary or permanent relief by diverting the focus downwards toward the feet and away from the throbbing, although this will be dependent on the severity of the hurt you are experiencing in your head.
Be prepared to be amazed at the discoveries that you will make about your body during this process.
Grounding Exercise: Body Scan
Lay flat on your back on your bed, couch or floor. Position your arms and hands comfortably at your sides. Place a pillow or rolled towel under your knees if your lower back requires support.
Begin your body scan by diverting your thoughts away from any mental chatter, switch gears by first focusing on your feet. Do not rush! During the process you will slowly change your focus from one part of your body to the next. Also, you don't need to touch yourself, the scan is mental. Allow your mind to switch focus from wherever it is. Begin with your feet and move upwards.
Notice the soles of your feet, your toes, in-between your toes, the top of your feet, ankles, and heel.
Do they feel hot? or cold? Do they hurt? Are they numb or swollen? Can you feel the blood circulating through them? Are they feeling tired? Don't judge how they feel, simply notice how they feel. Wiggle your toes. How does that feel?
Once you have a made a strong connection with your feet move your attention upwards past your ankle... switching all your focus from your feet to the lower legs, then move onto your knee caps, behind your knees, your thighs, and so on.
Keep reminding yourself not to rush.
Allow yourself to breathe evenly throughout the scanning process. If you come upon any areas of discomfort (stressed muscles, soreness, etc.) or at a spot that feels like there may be stuck energy take two or three deep cleansing breaths to ease the tension or break through energetic blockages.
Once you have moved your attention through your torso and up to your neck, drop your focus at your fingertips. Move up your attention through the length of the fingers and into the hands (tops of hands and palms). Continue your energy scan up your arms and at the shoulders, returning your attention once again to your neck before finishing up with your focus on face, ears, and scalp.
PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE!
Thank you for reading.
Brampton, Ontario, Canada
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