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December Issue of Natural Alternatives
December 01, 2011

Natural Alternatives for Your Total Health

December 2011

Hello, and welcome to this edition edition of my Natural Alternatives Newsletter!

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“The natural healing force within each one of us is the greatest force in getting well.” ~Hippocrates







By Chris Kilham

Have you ever wondered why the colder months are also the season for colds and flu? People spend more time indoors, air circulation is poorer, and there is far greater chance of catching airborne germs. Put one child with a cold in a room full of other children, and you can create a cold epidemic in just days. Once again, cold season has commenced, with coughing, sinus congestion, and the dullness that colds impart. The same is true for flu. Fortunately, natural remedies can help you to battle colds and flu more quickly, and to reduce the severity of symptoms. Here are a few of my favorite, side effect-free natural remedies.


Fresh ginger root is my favorite pick for cold care. Buy ginger fresh (preferably organic) and cut a piece about an inch and a half long. Either chop the ginger finely, or grate it. Put the finely minced ginger into a tea strainer, and put the tea strainer in a cup. Pour fresh boiling water into the cup. Let the tea sit for five minutes. Remove the tea strainer, and squeeze the ginger with a spoon to get a bit more of the ginger juice into the cup. Flavor with a spoonful of honey, and sip.

Ginger contains a group of compounds called sesquiterpenes, which kills rhinoviruses, the agents that cause colds. So when you have a cold, several bracing cups of fresh ginger root tea can help you to reduce the severity and duration of that unwanted event. Ginger tea also helps to relieve a sore throat. Drink three or more cups daily until you are well. For children, dilute the concentration of the tea, so it’s less spicy.


Sometimes called the stinking rose, garlic has long occupied a special place in natural healing. This fragrant and pungent member of the allium family enhances overall cardiovascular health, fights various types of cancer cells well, and is a potent immune booster. But garlic goes beyond this, actually killing many of the types of bacteria that cause food poisoning.

Heavy use of garlic is prevalent in places and cultures where food preparation hygiene may be poor, and where refrigeration is not always available. Adding fresh-pressed garlic into food, or cooking with garlic, may prevent sickness due to bacterial contamination. And if you have a cold, press a clove of garlic into a cup of hot water, add the juice of a lemon, mix in a teaspoon of honey, and drink it down. This shot to the immune system will help you to get rid of the cold faster.


A traditional remedy used by Native Americans, echinacea is also known as purple cone flower. Many human clinical studies have shown that echinacea, a traditional herbal cold remedy, does in fact reduce both the severity and the duration of colds. Your best echinacea remedies are those made from fresh echinacea. Try the Gaia Herbs brand or the Herb Pharm brand of fluid echinacea extracts, or Echinaforce by A. Vogel. You can also get echinacea as an herbal tea. Try Traditional Medicinal’s Echinacea Plus.

Essential oils

One way to decongest clogged sinuses is to breathe the vapors of certain aromatic substances including menthol or eucalyptus. The Swiss company Olbas makes a couple of terrific products in this category. One, the Olbas inhaler, contains menthol, oils of peppermint, cajeput and eucalyptol, one of the components of eucalyptus. You just apply the inhaler to your nose, take a nice breath, and the vapors open up the sinuses.


When I was conducting plant research in South Africa, I was introduced to a funny-sounding plant called umcka. This is a traditional San tribal name for the South African herb Pelargonium sidoides. Especially when taken at the onset of a cold, umcka can cut the entire misery short. Human clinical studies show that umcka works well. My two favorite brands are umcka by Nature’s Way, and Cold Check by EuroPharma, which contains both umcka and another cold-fighting herb, andrographis.


Don’t even try to pronounce this one! Just call it “oscillo” for short. Did you know that almost all flu comes from birds, mostly ducks? It’s true. This is why the national flu research center keeps tens of thousands of samples of duck organs in its lab refrigerators. Made from a highly dilute extract of the heart and liver of the Barbary duck, oscillo helps to reduce both the duration and severity of the flu, especially when taken at the first signs of sickness.


In various human studies, elderberry has demonstrated anti-flu activity. This is due to a group of antioxidant flavonoids in elderberry that bind to the influenza virus and prevent infection. While some health authorities question the real efficacy of elderberry as a flu-fighter, it does demonstrate some value. One study of elderberry extract and the (scary) H1N1 virus showed that the antioxidant compounds in the berries inhibit the proliferation of that virus. While further work must be done on this, the study suggests that at least, elderberry may help to reduce the activity of this flu. Hippocrates, widely recognized as one of the greatest pioneers of medicine, called elder his medicine chest, and he knew what he was talking about.

Chris Kilham is a medicine hunter who researches natural remedies all over the world, from the Amazon to Siberia. He teaches ethnobotany at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he is Explorer In Residence. Chris advises herbal, cosmetic and pharmaceutical companies and is a regular guest on radio and TV programs worldwide. His field research is largely sponsored by Naturex of Avignon, France. Read more at


These beverages are a quick and easy way to include the recognized health benefits of these nutrients in our diets.


Acai berry has the highest antioxidant effects of any fruit measured using oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) values. Acai berries contain many antioxidants, including vitamins C and E, gallic acid, epicatechin, anthocyanins, procyanidins, protocatechuic acid, and other tannins.


While acai is higher in antioxidant potential, pomegranate is probably the most popular and widely marketed of the exotic superfruits. Pomegranate juice is rich in vitamins A, C, and E, as well as ellagic acid, gallocatechins, prodelphinidins, and other tannins.

Don’t be fooled

Always remember to read the label to find out what your beverage of choice contains. Look for pomegranate and acai drinks that are truly nutritious—containing 100 percent juice. Pure fruit juices may be a little pricey, but they are far better than antioxidant-fortified beverages made with water or apple or grape juice. Admittedly, some people find that acai berry and pomegranate juices taste too tart. Mixing the drinks with other fruit juices can make them tastier. Adding other juices can also boost the colour because pure antioxidant beverages can appear brownish in colour and undesirable to the eye. The brownish colour denotes a quality product, though, so don’t shy away from it.

Drink in moderation

By bottling antioxidant drinks in large 20 oz (591 mL) containers, producers are able to provide nutritionally meaningful quantities of antioxidant fruit juices or teas. The downside is that consuming the whole beverage can lead to high intake of sugar and calories. An average 20 oz (591 mL) bottle of a typical antioxidant drink made with 100 percent fruit juice contains 85 grams of sugar and 400 calories. One-third of one of these large bottles is a better daily serving size (8 oz/250 mL).

Liquid fortification

Antioxidant beverages contain nutrients that play a proven role in preventing heart disease, cancer, and other diseases, such as:

vitamin C (ascorbic acid)
vitamin E




There are many reasons why both men and women experience hair loss. Thinning hair can be attributed to genetics, hormonal imbalances, medications and nutritional deficiencies. Many people staring at a head of thinning hair in the mirror are desperate for a solution, but are reluctant to turn to surgery or drugs to get the job done. Luckily, there are natural ways to increase hair growth from the inside that are available to everyone.

Reduce Stress

Stress is known as "the silent killer," and it is no less harmful to healthy hair growth than it is to the rest of your body. Allowing stress to affect you releases certain hormones and chemicals inside your body that can inhibit hair growth. Using effective stress-management tools, like meditation and relaxation techniques, will make your hair, and the rest of your life, a lot easier to manage.

Get More Sleep

Your body is designed to need between seven and nine hours of uninterrupted sleep per night to function properly. When you continually deprive yourself of sleep, negative consequences will follow, including the possibility of thinning hair. If you have trouble sleeping, try initiating a sleep routine or trigger that signals your body that it is time to sleep. The ability to shut your mind off at bedtime is key to getting a good sleep each night.

Eat More Protein

Your hair is made of protein, so it stands to reason that consuming more protein will contribute to healthier hair. It is the most important hair nutrient, and can be found in lean meats, eggs, liver, brewer's yeast, beans, cottage cheese and tofu. Consuming smoothies made with high-quality whey protein is another way to boost your intake.

Eat More Iron

Iron is the second most important hair nutrient, and many people, especially women, are deficient. Foods like liver; whole grains; eggs; dates; raisins; and dark-green, leafy vegetables will increase the amount of iron in your body and increase your hair growth.

Consume More Zinc

Zinc is a mineral vital to healthy hair growth. Foods, such as oysters and whole grains, contain high amounts of zinc. If you feel you don't get enough through diet alone, zinc supplements will help.

Take Biotin

Biotin is a B vitamin that promotes hair growth. It is also known as the "H" vitamin because of its importance to a healthy head of hair. If you are deficient in biotin, it can result in hair loss. You can find biotin in eggs and liver, but it is important to supplement it because getting the amount you need from food alone is not possible.


Thank you for reading.

Brampton, Ontario, Canada

P.S. If you have a comment or suggestion, just reply to this e-mail. Your feedback is important to me.



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This newsletter is for educational purposes only. It is your right to educate yourself in health and medical knowledge, to seek helpful information and make use of it for your own benefit, and for that of your family. You are the one responsible for your health. You must educate yourself in order to make decisions in all health matters. My views and advices are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medicine, but simply a help you to make educated changes in order to help your body heal itself. If you have a medical condition or concern you should consult your physician.

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