Plant Hallucinogen Holds Hope for Diabetes Treatment


A potent molecular cocktail containing a compound from ayahuasca spurs rapid growth of insulin-producing cells

Plant Hallucinogen Holds Hope for Diabetes Treatment
Ayahuasca cooking.

For centuries, some indigenous groups in South America have relied on a brew made from the parts of a local vine and a shrub. The effects of this drink, called ayahuasca, would begin with severe vomiting and diarrhea, but the real reason for drinking the tea was the hallucinating that followed. These visions were thought to uncover the secrets of the drinker’s poor health and point the way to a cure.

Modern techniques have revealed that one of the compounds underlying these mystic experiences is the psychoactive drug harmine. What these first users of ayahuasca couldn’t have known was that, one day, this ingredient in their enlightening brew would be positioned as a key to treating diabetes.

Such a cure is a long way off, but researchers took another step toward it when they combined naturally occurring harmine with a compound synthesized from scratch in a lab. Together, the pair can coax the insulin-producing pancreatic cells, called beta cells, into replicating at the fastest rates ever reported, according to findings published December 20 in Cell Metabolism.

Type 1 diabetes arises when the body turns on these cells and destroys them. Type 2 diabetes develops when these same cells wear out and can no longer make insulin. Either effect is a point of no return because the beta cells we make in early life are the only ones we’ll ever have.

If this pair of compounds eventually inches into the treatment toolbox, refreshing a faded cell population could become a reality and a possible treatment for diabetes.  “Looking back 10 years or so, we questioned whether human beta cells could even be coaxed into dividing,’ says Justin Annes, assistant professor of medicine and endocrinology at Stanford University, who also works on beta cell proliferation, with a separate investigator group. “But what began as a fantasy has become aspiration, and perhaps in the coming years, will be a reality.”

One stop on the trip to that reality was a 2015 study showing that harmine treatment of beta cells in a dish promoted their increase at a rate of about 2 percent per day. A promising beginning, says study author Andrew Stewart, scientific director of the Diabetes, Obesity, and Metabolism Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, but a little too slow for someone who needs a replacement population.

In this newest study, Stewart and his colleagues show that combining harmine with a synthetic inhibitor of another molecule kicks up the rate to 5–8 percent on average, and as high as 18 percent using some growth recipes. The one–two punch of this chemical pair isn’t the only possible combination, and other groups also are working on various pairings, Stewart says. Annes and his colleagues have identified several compounds that hold similar promise for pushing insulin-producing cells to reproduce.

“Basically, we’re all competing, but we all know each other so we share reagents and ideas,” says Stewart. “Different people have identified different drugs that make beta cells replicate.” His lab chose harmine because it’s the one they pulled out of their screening of 100,000 compounds in 2015, but “I don’t think harmine is especially better than any other one,” he says.

In 2006, another group of researchers plucked harmine from a molecular haystack in a search for chemicals that interact with a protein associated with Down syndrome. Studies that followed showed harmine’s role in many body systems, including the gut and the brain, explaining in part the effects of ayahuasca on its earliest adopters.

Harmine interferes with an enzyme called dual-specificity tyrosine-regulated kinase 1A, or DYRK1A. Like harmine, DYRK1A operates in a host of tissues.  It helps, for one, in shaping the central nervous system during embryonic development. First identified because of its key involvement in Down syndrome, its routine duty is to add chemical tags to molecules to switch them on or off.

The other molecule in the synergizing pair is an inhibitor of a group of proteins in the transforming growth factor-beta superfamily (TGFβSF). As with DYRK1A, these proteins are active in a large number of body processes, including cell proliferation.

Stewart and his team homed in on TGFβSF and DYRK1A after probing the secrets of cells from benign pancreatic tumors called insulinomas. They reasoned that if they could pinpoint what made these tumors grow, they could co-opt that information to encourage growth of normal beta cells. Their exploration uncovered DYRK1A and TGFβSF-related targets.

Inhibiting these molecules in human beta cells in a dish shuts down the cell regulators that usually keep the brakes on cancer’s out-of-control cell growth. Because harmine and TGFβSF inhibitor release this brake and DYRK1A and TGFβSF are active in many tissues, any treatment involving the pair of inhibitors must be closely targeted. “Certainly, we have a long way to go before these medications can be used in humans,” says Annes, calling the concern about cancer risk “reasonable.”

Adding to that concern is that harmine affects other cell types, says Klaus Kaestner, professor of genetics and associate director of the Penn Diabetes Research Center at the University of Pennsylvania, who was not involved in the study. In 2016, his group reported that harmine triggers many types of hormone-producing cells to divide, including other cells in the pancreas.

Stewart and his colleagues are sorting through a number of potential chemical tags that might help guide the inhibitors to the right location. But for now, says Stewart, “we are Amazon and have a bunch of parcels, and we know that they’re for you, but we don’t know the address.”

Type 1 diabetes poses another hurdle. Although the immune system targets and destroys these cells in this form of diabetes, a small pool of beta cells often remains, Stewart says. What’s unknown is if a new population grown from these cells would simply attract further immune destruction. Stewart says that if the harmine-TGFβSF inhibitor combination ever makes it to trials, the population it might initially suit best are those who have type 2 diabetes. Then the journey from a South American rainforest to a clinical treatment would be complete.

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Full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, cabbage needs to be a regular in your kitchen


Full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, cabbage needs to be a regular in your kitchen

 

With its high concentrations of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, cabbage is one of the healthiest vegetables you can eat. As a cruciferous veggie, in the same family as broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower, it also contains glucosinolates, phytochemicals that break down into indoles, sulforaphane and other cancer-preventive substances.

Different types of cabbage (red, green and Savoy) contain different patterns of glucosinolates, which suggests you should try to eat a variety of cabbage for the best health effects. Its variety is another one of cabbage’s pluses — it comes in hundreds of different types and is incredibly versatile. Eaten raw, cabbage is a mainstay of cole slaw and other summer salads. It’s also one of the most popular base vegetables for creating your own homemade sauerkraut.

 

Cooked lightly and quickly, cabbage also makes an excellent side dish to virtually any protein source and can be seasoned in a number of different ways depending on the type of cuisine. You may be tempted to rely on your local grocery store for cabbage, but growing your own is so much more rewarding, both in terms of freshness and flavor. What’s more, growing cabbage is incredibly easy, and if you time your planting right you can expect to harvest it during the summer as well as the late cold-weather season.

Choose the Right Varieties for the Growing Season

Cabbage is one of those vegetables that taste better after a frost. This is because as temperatures drop, the cold causes the plants to break down energy stores into sugar, leading to a sweeter, tastier flavor. Some types of cabbage can even be grown in temperatures as low as 26 degrees F.

Most winter veggies are planted in mid- to late summer so they are strong and ready for when the temperatures drop, and then ripe for harvest in winter or early spring. Timing this depends on how long each plant takes to reach maturity, however, and this is where choosing the proper varieties is key.

While some cabbage plants reach maturity in 90 days, early varieties take just 60 days to reach maturity. Further, you’ll probably want to plant a crop to harvest during the summer months, as well.

 

As Rodale’s Organic Life noted, “Cabbage thrives in cool weather. In most areas, you can plant an early crop for fresh eating and a late crop — usually the more problem free and tastier of the two — primarily for winter storage. Choose early varieties such as ‘Primax’ for summer harvest; midseason and late-season cultivars for storage.” Additional recommended varieties, according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, include the following:

  • “If you are planting for a fall harvest, try red or Chinese cabbage. Good varieties include ‘Ruby Perfection’ and ‘Lei-Choy.’
  • For quick harvest time, try ‘Golden Acre,’ ‘Primo’ or ‘Stonehead.’
  • ‘Early Jersey Wakefield’ resists splitting.
  • Disease-resistant varieties include ‘Blue Vantage’ and ‘Cheers.’”

Other considerations in cabbage variety include size, color and texture. With its variety of cool hues and ruffled and crinkled leaves, many people plant cabbage as much for its ornamental appeal as they do for its culinary uses. Some of the more popular varieties to consider include:

Savoy cabbage, which has dark green, crinkled outer leaves Red cabbage, which contains antioxidant anthocyanins that give it its purple color
Napa cabbage, also called Chinese cabbage, matures quickly and has a mild flavor Green cabbage, which comes in a variety of sizes with differing times to maturity
Pointed cabbage, which forms conical heads, helping to protect it from insects Mini cabbages, such as the “Gonzales” variety, which can be harvested when they’re 6 inches in diameter, making them ideal for small gardens

It’s Easy to Start Cabbage From Seed

While you can purchase cabbage plants at most garden centers, it’s easy to grow them yourself from seed. Start seeds indoors eight to 10 weeks before your last frost of the spring for summer harvests, and 12 to 14 weeks before your first fall frost for late varieties. “Place in a sunny spot or under lights with temperatures between 60 degrees and 70 degrees F, and keep the soil uniformly moist. When daytime temperatures reach 50 degrees F and seedlings have three leaves, plant them outdoors,” Rodale’s Organic Life recommends. In addition, they note:

“Plant seedlings in the garden slightly deeper than they grew in flats. Space 6 to 12 inches apart in rows 1 to 2 feet apart. Wide spacings produce bigger heads, but young, small cabbages are tastier. To get both, plant 6 inches apart and harvest every other one before maturity. Stagger plantings at 2-week intervals for a longer harvest. tart your late crop in midsummer, sowing seeds in flats or directly in the garden. Space these seedlings farther apart than the spring crop.”

As for seeds, look for non-GMO, organic seeds or consider saving seeds from your own crop. The latter may be a challenge, as cabbage produces seed in its second year (it’s a biennial crop). This means only areas with mild winters will allow the seedlings to survive through the winter and produce seeds come summer. An alternative is to transfer cabbage plants in a cool place for the purpose of harvesting seeds the next growing season, according to Mother Earth News:

“In colder climates, growers dig cabbage plants and move them to a cool root cellar for winter, burying the plants’ roots in buckets of moist sawdust. The stored heads are trimmed and replanted in early spring.”

Cabbage Planting Tips

A sunny, well-drained spot works best, and healthy soil will help your cabbage plants to thrive. Adding organic compost to your soil is recommended, as is a layer of mulch or wood chips to help lock in moisture. If your cabbage leaves start to yellow, adding compost tea, which is basically the liquid from compost steeped in water, to the soil as an extra feeding may boost plant growth and encourage faster maturation.

Cabbage plants are heavy feeders, meaning they deplete the soil of nutrients relatively quickly. Because of this, it’s best to plant them apart from other heavy feeders like broccoli and cauliflower. In addition, rotate crops each year to discourage diseases. Excess water (including heavy rain) can cause cabbages to split. If you notice a split starting, or expect a heavy rain to hit, use a spade to sever the plant’s roots in one or two spots, or twist the plant, pulling up slightly, to dislodge the roots.

Both methods will slow the plant’s growth, preventing splitting and bolting. If the cabbage does split, don’t worry — it can still be used to make sauerkraut. As for pests, many, including harlequin bugs, slugs, snails and cabbage worms can be removed by hand (be sure to check the undersides of leaves). Damage from cutworms can be prevented by placing a “collar” made from a plastic cup around young seedlings (push it down about 1 inch into the soil). Common diseases to watch out for include the following:

“Black leg, a fungal disease, forms dark spots on leaves and stems. Black rot symptoms include black and foul-smelling veins. Club root prevents water and nutrient absorption. Fusarium wilt, also known as yellows, produces yellow leaves and stunted heads. Remove and destroy plants affected by these diseases. If club root has been a problem in your garden, test soil pH before planting and add ground limestone if needed to raise the pH to at least 6.8.”

Simple Harvest Tips

When the cabbage head is firm to the touch, use a sharp knife to cut it from the stalk. Heads that don’t feel firm are not yet ready for harvest. Smaller cabbage heads will often grow from the stem, provided you leave the outer leaves and roots, so don’t pull it out of the ground yet. If you’re not interested in encouraging a second crop to grow, the loose outer leaves can be tossed into your compost pile or eaten — it’s up to you.

Once the harvest is complete, pull the stem and root from the ground and compost the remainders (as long as the plant is healthy; avoid throwing diseases plants into your compost bin). Store cabbage in your refrigerator for two weeks or in cold storage (32 degrees to 40 degrees F) for five or six months (the latter being perfect for your winter harvest).

If you’re wondering how much cabbage to grow, Mother Earth News recommends about three cabbage plants per person for enjoying fresh and four plants per person (in addition) for storing cabbage to make sauerkraut. Cabbage is best prepared as close to raw as possible, sometimes called tender-crisp, to preserve its many nutrients.

Cabbage can also be juiced and fermented, which will provide your body with healthy amounts of beneficial bacteria and, if certain starter cultures are used, vitamin K2.

Ready to Enjoy? Healthy Cabbage Crunch Salad

There are many reasons to give cabbage a regular appearance at your mealtimes. It contains powerful antioxidants like vitamins A and C and phytonutrients such as thiocyanates, lutein, zeaxanthin, isothiocyanates and sulforaphane, which stimulate detoxifying enzymes and may protect against breast, colon and prostate cancers. Cabbage also contains a wealth of anti-inflammatory nutrients to help keep inflammation in check.

Among them are anthocyanins, a type of polyphenol that, as mentioned, is particularly plentiful in red cabbage, although all types of cabbage contain anti-inflammatory polyphenols. Cabbage also contains healthy amounts of B vitamins, including folate (which is better than the synthetic form known as folic acid found in many supplements), vitamin B6, vitamin B1 and vitamin B5.

B vitamins are not only important for energy, they may also slow brain shrinkage by as much as seven-fold in brain regions specifically known to be most impacted by Alzheimer’s disease.

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If you’re looking for a recipe to enjoy your cabbage raw that’s a bit different than typical cole slaw recipes, try this healthy Cabbage Crunch Recipe. With fresh ginger, miso paste and ground sesame, along with both red and green cabbage, it’s packed with both intense flavor and valuable nutrition.

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • 1/2 head red cabbage, chopped finely
  • 1/2 head white cabbage, chopped finely
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 jalapeno pepper, minced (optional)

For the Dressing:

  • 1 teaspoon gomasio (ground sesame with salt)
  • 1 cup almond butter
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1/2 jalapeno pepper, chopped (optional)
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon white miso paste* (optional)

Procedure

  1. Mix the cabbage with the chopped onions. Add cilantro and jalapeno.
  2. Place all the dressing ingredients into a food processor and blend briefly. Mix into salad mix and serve.

4 times better than beets for increasing nitric oxide and lowering blood pressure


4 times better than beets for increasing nitric oxide and lowering blood pressure

By Dr. Mercola

While known as a salad green with a tangy, slightly peppery kick, arugula is actually a relative of the cruciferous family, which includes radishes, Brussels sprouts, kale, cauliflower, and broccoli. Like other members of this family, arugula contains a number of medicinal nutrients, including cancer-fighting compounds and carotenoids known for their importance for good eyesight.

It’s an excellent source of fiber, vitamins A, C and K, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and manganese. Arugula also provides high levels of protein, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, zinc, copper and pantothenic acid (vitamin B5).

Its flavonoid content helps improve blood vessel function, increase blood flow, lower blood pressure and lower inflammation. Arugula even has cleansing properties to counteract the poisoning effects of heavy metals in the system, particularly in the liver, and helps eliminate pesticides and herbicides from your body.

Arugula has long been considered an aphrodisiac, and modern science supports this notion, showing trace minerals and antioxidants help block absorption of environmental contaminants suspected of impacting your libido.

Arugula Is a Heart-Healthy Food

Arugula also contains about 480 milligrams (mg) of nitrates per 100-gram serving, which your body uses as raw material to make nitric oxide (NO), an important biological signaling molecule that supports normal endothelial function and protects your mitochondria.

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Acting as a potent vasodilator, NO helps relax and widen the diameter of your blood vessels, supporting healthy blood flow and oxygenation of your tissues. It also carries away waste material and carbon dioxide. A diet high in nitrate is a natural strategy recommended for the treatment of prehypertension and hypertension (high blood pressure), and helps protect against heart attacks.

Raw beets are perhaps the most well-known for their ability to lower blood pressure (thanks to their nitrate content), but arugula actually contains the highest levels of nitrates of any vegetable. For comparison, 100 grams of whole red beets provide a mere 110 mg of nitrates to arugula’s 480 mg.

How to Grow Arugula

Arugula is a cool season crop, and can be added to your fall garden plantings. It’s forgiving in that it can tolerate low-fertility soils and frost, and is really easy to care for, although it does best in humus-rich soils with a pH between 6 and 6.8. Seeds germinate best at temperatures between 40 and 55 degrees F. Plant your seeds directly into your garden bed, but avoid planting them in a spot where you just harvested another cabbage family crop.

As noted in the video above, there are two main types of arugula. Common arugula (Eruca sativa) is best for eating and cooking, as it produces large, lush growth, while the wild Italian arugula (Eruca selvatica) — which does have a bolder flavor — tends to be more stemmy. The Italian variety will also bolt faster.

Plant your seeds about one-fourth inch deep, 1 inch apart. Rows should be about 3 inches apart. Seedlings will sprout in about 10 to 14 days. Arugula will do well planted next to lettuce and peas. For a continuous harvest through the fall, plant new seeds every two weeks up until about four weeks before your first frost date. Dry, hot weather will speed bolting. If temperatures are still on the high side, you can slow bolting by providing shade and making sure the soil doesn’t dry out.

Addressing Pests

A common cabbage family pest is the flea beetle. Row covers can be used to protect tender seedlings. Another protective measure is to sprinkle food grade diatomaceous earth around the seedlings. Diatomaceous earth is available at most garden centers. One drawback is that it will kill any soft-body insect, so in addition to fleas, it could also have a detrimental effect on worms and even bees. For this reason, it’s best to use it only when absolutely necessary.

Another alternative suggested in the video above is Reemay fabric. Used as a row cover, it allows about 75 percent of sunlight through, and is permeable enough to allow water through — but not the pests. Simply pin the fabric down so that it’s loosely covering the plants, allowing for growth.

Harvest — and Eat

Mature arugula is ready to harvest in about 40 days. “Graze” harvesting means selectively picking just a few leaves here and there to add to your cooking. The smaller the leaf, the milder its flavor will be. Alternatively, use a pair of garden shears to cut back about one-third of each plant, selecting the largest leaves in each bunch. The remainder will continue to regenerate and grow back.

Once the arugula starts to flower, it’ll start turning bitter. At this point, your best option is to pull the whole plant out by its roots. Salvage whatever leaves you still find edible and compost the rest. The arugula tends to bolt quickly, so keep an eye out for the telltale signs of flowers (shown in the video above), and harvest right away. Ideally, harvest at a time when it’s cooler and shadier, as the leaves will wilt quickly when cut in full sun.

Arugula is a popular salad green, but can be added to any number of dishes, such as sandwiches and hot or cold pesto, although it will lose some of its peppery punch when cooked. For a delicious side salad, try my grapefruit and arugula salad with avocado recipe.

How to Save the Seeds

Arugula seeds are easy to collect and save, and can be stored for up to five years. The plant will produce small, white flowers. Once flowers emerge, small seed pods will start to form along the stem. If you like, you can actually eat the seeds. They have a strong spicy kick, similar to a radish. Once the plant bolts, the leaves will turn bitter and begin to brown.

There are a number of ways to collect the seeds. Some will cover the stem with a nylon stocking to catch the seeds as the pods break open. Alternatively, clip the stem, tie a paper bag around it and hang upside down to dry.

To check if the seeds are ready to be collected, gently shake the seed pod. The seeds are ready when you hear them rattling around inside the pod. Eventually, the pods will break, releasing the seeds, or you can crush the pod if you like. To separate the seed from the chaff, Heirloom Organics suggests the following method:

“If your seeds are in a bag already, you can shake the bag or stick your hand in the bag and crumble the dried seed pods. You’ll end up with a pile of tiny dark seeds mixed in with papery seed pod chaff.

To separate this out, you can do it the old-fashioned way, which is to put everything in a shallow pan and blow the chaff off the top of the pile. The seeds weigh more than the chaff, so they will stay put. Another way is to put them in a sieve that has holes bigger than the seeds, but smaller than the chaff and shake.”

Store your seeds in a paper envelope or jar in a cool, dark, dry place. Alternatively, store them in a zipper bag in your refrigerator.

Try Arugula Microgreens

A simple and inexpensive way to boost your nutrition is to grow microgreens. Any regular herb or vegetable, including arugula, can be turned into a microgreen simply by harvesting it while the plant is still young. It’s simply a matter of not waiting until it’s fully mature. A microgreen or “baby” green is harvested when just a week or two old, when it’s reached a height of about 2 to 4 inches.

Many of the benefits of sprouts and microgreens relate to the fact that, in their initial and early phase of growth, the plants contain more concentrated amounts of nutrients. Vitamins like A, B-complex, C and E also increase in sprouted foods, sometimes by 20 percent within just a few days of germination. As a result, you need to eat far less, in terms of amount, compared to a mature plant. As noted in the book, “Microgreens: Novel, Fresh and Functional Food to Explore All the Value of Biodiversity:”

“Microgreens are … increasingly used by haute cuisine chefs to prepare gourmet dishes intended to satisfy the needs of modern consumers, more and more health conscious and particularly attentive to their health, diet and food quality.

Although [they] are often used with the main aesthetic purpose of garnishing dishes, microgreens also have a very good nutritional profile and … are considered ‘functional foods’ or ‘super foods’ as … they can also provide bioactive compounds able to improve some functions of the organism and/or reduce the risk of diseases.”

Do You Have a Victory Garden?

The idea of planting Victory Gardens goes back to World War I and II, and was advertised as a way for patriots to make a difference on the home front. Planting these gardens helped the citizens combat food shortages by supplying themselves and their neighbors with fresh produce.

Planting your own Victory Garden can go a long way toward healthier eating, and in the long run, it can provide incentive for industry-wide change, and a return to a diet of real food, for everyone, everywhere. A great way to get started on your own is by sprouting. They may be small, but sprouts are packed with nutrition and best of all, they’re easy and inexpensive to grow.

A native Mediterranean mushroom found to protect the liver from disease


Image: A native Mediterranean mushroom found to protect the liver from disease

People with high blood sugar exhibit high lipid levels brought about by excessive intake of fatty foods — a condition called hyperlipidemia. When left untreated, hyperlipidemia can pave the way for other diseases like atherosclerosis and fatty liver. If certain foods can cause hyperlipidemia, there are also foods that can prevent it. A study, published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, revealed that the edible mushroom Pleurotus eryngii can reduce lipid levels and protect the liver.

In hyperlipidemic patients, there is an increase in the bad cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), while the good high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) levels are reduced. Altered lipid levels have been shown to inhibit the activity of antioxidant enzymes in the body, which causes free radicals to build up and induce oxidative damage. Since the liver serves as a storage for excess fat, it is susceptible to damage caused by the fat buildup and oxidative stress.

There are more than 95 million people that have been diagnosed with hyperlipidemia in the U.S. alone, which is why this problem should immediately be addressed. Although there are prescription drugs for treating hyperlipidemia, these are associated with adverse side effects and are not advised for long-term use. Because of this, people are now turning to natural antihyperlipidemic substances.

One of the potential alternatives that researchers considered is P. eryngii, a mushroom that originated from the Mediterranean region. Previous studies have shown that P. eryngii contains many bioactive compounds, including polysaccharides, sterols, and peptides. Among these, polysaccharides were shown to be the most potent since it has antioxidant, anti-aging, antivirus, and anti-lipid peroxidation properties. Aside from these, polysaccharides are also highly stable, water-soluble, and non-toxic, which makes them suitable for medicinal applications. Although there have been studies regarding the antihyperlipidemic effects of polysaccharides from P. eryngii, none of these focused on exopolysaccharides.

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In this study, the researchers conducted both in vitro and in vivo evaluations of exopolysaccharides from P. eryngii. For the in vitro studies, they first determined what monosaccharides were present in the samples. They then proceeded to evaluate antioxidant activity based on free radical scavenging activity and reducing power. Results showed five different monosaccharides were present in exopolysaccharides. These were arabinose, xylose, mannose, galactose, and glucose. The researchers also observed that the exopolysaccharides have potent antioxidant activity. This is important since antioxidants prevent oxidative stress from inducing inflammation.

The in vivo experiments were performed on Kunming strain mice that were perfused with high-fat emulsion than the exopolysaccharides. After 28 days of this treatment, the liver and serum samples were collected from the mice and subjected to biochemical and histopathological analysis. Aside from these, the toxicity of exopolysaccharides was also determined. The results showed that without the exopolysaccharide treatment, the mice experienced an increase in body weight and liver weight, which could be a sign of fatty liver. They also had elevated triglyceride, total cholesterol, and LDL-C levels while HDL-C was reduced. Additionally, the activity of antioxidant enzymes was significantly reduced. In mice perfused with exopolysaccharides, all of the aforementioned effects of the high-fat emulsion were improved, proving that the exopolysaccharides can be used to treat hyperlipidemia.

“[Exopolysaccharides] exhibited potential and impressive prevention effects on high-fat diet-induced hyperlipidaemia in mice that were similar to those of the prophylactic agent simvastatin, demonstrating that polysaccharides can be exploited as potential natural drugs and functional foods for the prevention and treatment of hyperlipidaemia,” the researchers concluded.

Based on these results, it can be determined that exopolysaccharides from P. eryngii can be utilized for the treatment of hyperlipidemia since it has antioxidant, antihyperlipidemic, and hepatoprotective properties. These properties make it a good alternative for harmful prescription drugs.

Scientists study Canadian medicinal plants to explore natural cures for diabetes


Image: Scientists study Canadian medicinal plants to explore natural cures for diabetes

Diabetes is a complex disease that leads to a wide variety of complications, one of the most common of which is diabetic nephropathy (DN) or kidney damage. A team of researchers from Canada sought to identify natural extracts, found in the eastern James Bay area, with potent anti-apoptotic properties that can prevent kidney cell death characteristic of DN. Their study was published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

When it was first recorded in ancient Egypt, diabetes was considered mainly a rare disease. Today, it has exploded into a worldwide epidemic, with about 422 million sufferers on the planet in 2014. The prevalence of the disease is known to be spreading steadily, particularly in mid- to low-income countries.

One of the most dangerous complications of diabetes is DN, which is usually a precursor to kidney failure when left unaddressed. It is just one of the many results of the abnormal apoptotic process that occurs as a result of diabetes.

Apoptosis or cellular death is a natural process that’s essential to the continued balance of the human body. Because of it, old, dysfunctional cells are replaced by new ones. A proof of its importance is how its absence can cause the development of severe diseases, such as cancer.

But as with everything, too much apoptosis is hardly a good thing. In diabetes, the cells go through apoptosis at an abnormal rate. It usually starts with the death of the pancreatic beta cells, the cells responsible for producing the hormone insulin. The insufficiency in insulin results in a jump in blood glucose levels, which leads to more cellular death. Apart from kidney cells, those in the liver and the nervous system are also at a considerable risk.

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DN is one of the most common offshoots of diabetes among the people of the Cree nation in Canada, according to the study’s authors. This has prompted them to look into potential natural treatments that are readily available in the area. They compiled a list of 17 plant species:

  • Balsam fir – Abies balsamea (L.) Mill.
  • Speckled alder – Alnus incana subsp. rugosa (Du Roi) R.T. Clausen
  • Creeping snowberry – Gaultheria hispidula (L.) Muhl.
  • Ground juniper – Juniperus communis L.
  • Sheep Laurel – Kalmia angustifolia L.
  • Tamarack – Larix laricina Du Roi (K. Koch)
  • Common clubmoss – Lycopodium clavatum L.
  • White spruce – Picea glauca (Moench) Voss
  • Black spruce – Picea mariana (P. Mill.) BSP
  • Jack pine – Pinus banksiana Lamb.
  • Balsam poplar – Populus balsamifera L.
  • Labrador tea – Rhododendron groenlandicum (Oeder) Kron and Judd
  • Northern Labrador tea – Rhododendron tomentosum (Stokes) Harmaja subsp. subarcticum (Harmaja) G. Wallace
  • Tealeaf willow – Salix planifolia Pursh
  • Pitcher plant – Sarracenia purpurea L.
  • Showy mountain ash – Sorbus decora (Sarg.) C.K. Schneid.
  • Mountain cranberry – Vaccinium vitis-idaea L.

Extracts were obtained from specific parts of the different plants. The researchers then took cultures of Madin-Darby Canine Kidney (MDCK) cells, which are cells from a cocker spaniel that are used for biological studies involving the kidneys. They induced damage on the MDCK cells by the administration of a hypertonic medium. This particular step was performed in the presence or absence of each of the 17 plant extracts’ maximal nontoxic concentrations. After 18 hours of treatment, the cells were examined to determine the cytoprotective and anti-apoptotic effects of the extracts. The researchers then looked at the effect of the treatment on the activity of caspases-3, -8, and -9, all of which play an important role in apoptosis.

After the test, the researchers identified Gaultheria hispidula and Abies balsamea as having the most potent cytoprotective and anti-apoptotic effects. The said extracts prevented apoptosis by blocking the activity of caspase-9 in the mitochondrial apoptotic signaling pathway.

Curcumin reduces the effects of a high-fat diet


Image: Curcumin reduces the effects of a high-fat diet

Diets high in fat are known as major contributors to many health diseases, such as heart disease, and cancer. Researchers at Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research in India discovered that taking curcumin supplements minimizes the damage caused by a high-fat diet.

In their study, the researchers looked at the beneficial effects of curcumin on inflammation, oxidative stress, and insulin resistance in high-fat-fed rats. They examined two groups of rats: one group fed with a high-fat diet only and another group given a high-fat diet with 200 milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg) body weight of curcumin every day for 10 weeks.

The researchers measured the rats’ food intake, body weight, and biochemical parameters at the start and the end of the study. After 10 weeks, they also measured the oxidative stress parameters in skeletal muscle and liver triglyceride levels.

The results revealed that the high-fat diet increased the body weight and liver fat. It also increased the levels of plasma glucose, insulin, insulin resistance, total cholesterol, triglycerides, and very low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (VLDL-c), and decreased high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.

The high-fat diet also increased inflammation and oxidative stress in skeletal muscles. It also increased liver triglyceride content and caused fat buildup in the liver.

However, the supplementation with curcumin significantly improved these changes. Curcumin supplementation significantly reduced body weight, liver adipose tissue, glucose, insulin, and insulin resistance. In addition, it decreased plasma levels of total cholesterol, triglycerides, VLDL-c, and inflammatory markers, and increased HDL cholesterol. Moreover, it reduced oxidative stress, hepatic triglyceride content, and liver fat deposition.

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With these findings, the researchers concluded that curcumin could improve lipid levels, oxidative stress, inflammation, and insulin resistance caused by a high-fat diet.

Curcumin and turmeric

Curcumin is the active ingredient of the spice called turmeric and is responsible for most of the spice’s health benefits. It takes up about two to eight percent of most turmeric preparations and gives turmeric its distinct color and flavor.  Here are some health benefits of turmeric and curcumin backed up by scientific evidence:

  • Cancer: One of the most notable benefits of turmeric and curcumin is their ability to prevent cancer. Turmeric and curcumin may help prevent cancer by reducing the activity of colon and other cancer cells. A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences revealed that curcumin inhibits to the DYRK2 enzyme. Inhibiting this enzyme stops protein complexes known as proteasomes that contribute to cancer development. This action interrupts the proliferation of cancer cells, reducing tumors, and slowing cancer’s growth. This is beneficial for preventing proteasome-addicted cancers, such as triple-negative breast cancer and multiple myeloma.
  • Antibacterial: Turmeric and curcumin have powerful antibacterial effects. They have been reported to inhibit the growth of many disease-causing bacteria.
  • Antifungal: Studies have also reported that turmeric and curcumin have antifungal effects. They can disrupt fungal cell membranes and could be used with other fungal medicines for better effect.
  • Diabetes: Turmeric and curcumin can improve blood sugar metabolism and potentially reduce the effects of diabetes in the body.
  • Heart disease: As mentioned in the Indian study, curcumin reduced bad LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. These effects, which were also seen in earlier studies, can cut the risk of heart disease.
  • Liver health: Turmeric and curcumin can also protect the liver from damage caused by oxidative stress.
  • Obesity: Research has shown that turmeric and curcumin may inhibit the inflammatory pathway related to obesity and may help control body fat.
  • Osteoarthritis: Plant compounds in turmeric, including curcumin, can decrease inflammatory markers and relieve osteoarthritis symptoms, such as pain and stiffness.

Marijuana and Diabetes: What You Need to Know


Medical views and public opinions on cannabis (marijuana) have come a long way in the last several decades. Today, medicinal and recreational use of the plant and its derivatives are quickly gaining both acceptance and popularity.

What does this mean for people with diabetes who may use the plant or its constituents (where it is medically or recreationally legal)?

This article summarizes the major effects of cannabis and the derived compounds on physiology and various health conditions, particularly as they may relate to people with diabetes. However, cannabis and many of the associated products remain illegal at the federal level. Anything written in this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to serve as medical advice.

Marijuana Laws in the United States

According to The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), thirteen states have decriminalized marijuana use, a whopping thirty-two states have enacted medical marijuana laws, and ten states have fully legalized recreational marijuana use for adults.

Image credit: NORML

Medicinal Uses of Cannabis

It is well-established that there are numerous medicinal properties of cannabis. Reports of medicinal cannabis use date back thousands of years, and more and more studies are being conducted today, with increased tolerance, legal status at the local level, and more widely-accepted view of the potential health benefits.

How does it work? Briefly, our bodies have what is referred to as an endocannabinoid system—that is, the specific cellular receptors that can interact with several different compounds that are found in marijuana and can affect a variety of physiological processes. As can be seen in the diagrams below, these receptors are present in a variety of organs and tissues in humans.

 

Cannabis contains many different compounds. The two major active compounds are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). Researchers note that “available research indicates that the main two compounds, d-9-THC and CBD, whilst having similar effects in certain domains, also have almost opposite effects to one another in other aspects.” This highlights why specific preparations (e.g., CBD only) may be especially useful for treating a particular health condition.

Which health conditions may benefit from the use of cannabis or its derivatives? Since the endocannabinoid system can affect numerous processes, there are many conditions that can be targeted.

Some major conditions that have been proposed for targeting include:

  • Anorexia
  • Autoimmune Diseases (Rheumatoid Arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis, Inflammatory Bowel Disease)
  • Cancers
  • Cardiovascular Disease
  • Glaucoma
  • Liver Disease
  • Nausea
  • Nephropathy
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases (e.g., Parkinson’s, Alzheimer;’s, Huntington’s)
  • Obesity
  • Pain
  • Psychiatric Disorders

So, marijuana can affect a variety of organs and exerts both physical and psychological effects.

Many of these uses are already approved in some or all states where medicinal marijuana is legal. As can be seen, some of these conditions (e.g., nephropathy, cardiovascular disease, obesity) are more prevalent in people with diabetes, which may make medicinal cannabis use more likely in this population. In fact, at least one study reported on the benefits of CBD for the treatment of diabetic cardiomyopathy, while other research has shown that the endocannabinoid system is intimately involved in the development of many diabetes-associated complications, and highlights that several clinical trials have recently explored targeting cannabinoid receptors for treatment.

Marijuana and Blood Glucose Management

The use of cannabis or its preparations can offer treatment for various health conditions, including ones that are more prevalent in the diabetes population. So, can the compounds affect blood glucose control and what should individuals with diabetes take into consideration to stay safe? 

Potential Effects on Blood Glucose Levels

Interestingly, some research has suggested that marijuana users tend to be thinner than non-users and that users may be less likely to develop diabetes. Another study suggested that “chronic cannabis smoking was associated with visceral adiposity and adipose tissue insulin resistance but not with hepatic steatosis, insulin insensitivity, impaired pancreatic β-cell function, or glucose intolerance.”

When it comes to the overall effects of marijuana or its components on blood glucose levels at any specific time of use, no conclusive research is available. Many variables affect blood glucose levels and can include food consumption, medication use, activity, anxiety levels, etc. This means that it’s very important for the individual to self-monitor their blood glucose levels to stay safe.

What to Look Out For

Of course, any person with diabetes should always be on the lookout for hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia and make the appropriate adjustments. Marijuana can affect one’s mental state, so it is important to prepare ahead of time, by setting alarms to check blood glucose levels, or by having another individual with you, who knows about diabetes and can help you check your blood glucose and make the appropriate treatment decisions, if necessary.

Interestingly, a recent study suggested an association between marijuana use and a higher likelihood of developing diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), a serious and life-threatening complication of diabetes. However, a causal relationship is not clear, the findings are limited by small sample size, and confounding variables, such as income and education level. Patients who used marijuana also happened to have a significantly higher A1c level. It could be that in this case, the cannabis-using population was generally less diligent in their diabetes care for various reasons.

Conclusions

As with using any new medication or recreation drug (such as alcohol), it is imperative that people with diabetes remain in control of their condition by checking their blood glucose levels frequently and adjusting accordingly. If a patient is prescribed medicinal cannabis, it is important to discuss any concerns with a healthcare provider ahead of time and to be extra diligent about checking blood glucose levels frequently during use.

Today, cannabis remains illegal at the federal level, but a gray area is increasingly emerging, for both medicinal and recreational use, as more and more states pass new legislature. We will update this article as more research is conducted, and as state and federal laws are updated.

References

Akturk HK, Taylor DD, Camsari UM; “Association Between Cannabis Use and Risk for Diabetic Ketoacidosis in Adults With Type 1 Diabetes” (2018) JAMA Internal Medicine doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2018.5142 https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/article-abstract/2712560

Atakan Z; “Cannabis, a complex plant: different compounds and different effects on individuals” (2012) Therapeutic Advances in Pharmacology 2(5): 241-254. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3736954/pdf/10.1177_2045125312457586.pdf

Bancks MP, Pletcher MJ, Kertesz SG, Sidney S, Rana JS, Schreiner PJ; “Marijuana use and risk of prediabetes and diabetes by middle adulthood: the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study” (2015) Diabetologia 58(12): 2736-2744. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00125-015-3740-3

Booth M; “Cannabis: A History” (2005) St. Martin’s Press, Picador 1stedition.

Bridgeman MB and Abazia DT; “Medicinal Cannabis: History, Pharmacology, and Implications for the Acute Care Setting” (2017) Pharmacy and Therapeutics 42(3): 180-188. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5312634/

Horvath B, Mukhopadhyay P, Hasko G, Pacher P; “The Endocannabinoid System and Plant-Derived Cannabinoids in Diabetes and Diabetic Complications” (2012) The American Journal of Pathology 180(2): 432-442. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0002944011010273

Leung L; “Cannabis and Its Derivatives: Review of Medical Use” (2011) Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine 24: 452-462. http://www.jabfm.org/content/24/4/452.full.pdf+html

Muniyappa R, Sable S, Ouwerkerk R, Mari A, Gharib AM, Courville A, Hall G, Chen KY, Volkow ND, Kunos G, Huestis MA, Skarulis MC: “Metabolic Effects of Chronic Cannabis Smoking” (2013) Diabetes Care DC_122303. http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/early/2013/03/20/dc12-2303.short

National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) (2018) http://norml.org

Pacher P and Kunos G; “Modulating the endocannabinoid system in human health and disease—successes and failures” (2013) TheFEBS Journal 280(9): 1918-1943. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3684164/

Penner EA, Buettner H, Mittleman MA; “The Impact of Marijuana Use on Glucose, Insulin, and Insulin Resistance among US Adults” (2013) The American Journal of Medicine 126(7): 583-589. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0002934313002003

Rajavashisth TB, Shaheen M, Norris KC, Pan D, Sinha SK, Ortega J, Friedman TC; “Decreased prevalence of diabetes in marijuana users: cross-sectional data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) III” (2012) BMJ Open 2: e000494. https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/2/1/e000494.short

Rajesh M, Muhopadhyay P, Batkai S, et al.; “Cannabidiol Attenuates Cardiac Dysfunction, Oxidative Stress, Fibrosis, and Inflammatory and Cell Death Signaling Pathways in Diabetic Cardiomyopathy” (2010) Journal of the American College of Cardiology 56(25) http://www.onlinejacc.org/content/56/25/2115

Whiting PF, Wolff  RF, Deshpande S; “Cannabinoids for Medical Use: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis” (2015)JAMA Network 313(24): 2456-2473. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2338251?utm_campaign=articlePDF&utm_medium=articlePDFlink&utm_source=articlePDF&utm_content=jama.2015.6358

DIY Bergamot, Ginger, Apple Cider Vinegar Tea Tonic


By Dr. Mercola

Ginger water, apple cider vinegar and bergamot oil are all known for their health benefits, so what could be better than combining them all into a tasty tea tonic that can be consumed hot or cold? A simple recipe to try is as follows:

Health-Boosting Ginger, Bergamot and Apple Cider Vinegar Tonic

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup filtered water
  • 1 heaping tablespoon freshly grated ginger root [like this]
  • 2 to 3 drops bergamot oil [find here]
  • 1 tablespoon organic apple cider vinegar [like this]

Instructions:

  1. Add freshly grated ginger to boiling water (1 tablespoon per cup) and steep for five to 10 minutes. The longer it steeps, the stronger the flavor
  2. Strain the liquid to remove the ginger
  3. Stir in the bergamot and apple cider vinegar
  4. For a cold beverage, chill in the refrigerator before consuming

Ginger — A Powerful Pain and Nausea Reliever

In addition to its delicious taste, ginger is associated with a long list of health benefits that have been known for at least 2,000 years or more. The most commonly used medicinal part of the plant is the rhizome, the root-like stem that grows underground. It’s a rich source of antioxidants, including gingerols, shogaols and zingerones. It also has powerful broad-spectrum antibacterial, antiviral, antiparasitic and analgesic properties, just to mention a few.

In all, ginger has about 40 different pharmacological actions. Two of its most well-recognized health benefits are easing pain and nausea. In one study,1 adults suffering from episodic migraines with or without aura had better outcomes when ginger was used as an add-on therapy, compared to pain medication alone.

In this case, the treatment group was given 400 milligrams (mg) of ginger extract in addition to 100 mg of intravenous ketoprofen. After one hour, those who received ginger reported a “significantly better clinical response” than the ketoprofen-only group. According to the authors, “ginger treatment promoted reduction in pain and improvement on functional status at all times assessed.” It can also help ease menstrual pain (primary dysmenorrhea). In fact, ginger has been found to be as effective as ibuprofen for this common condition.2

A 2015 review3 of nine studies and seven meta-analyses investigating ginger’s effectiveness against nausea showed it can help reduce nausea and vomiting associated with postoperative nausea, chemotherapy, viral infection and morning sickness.

According to the authors, “recent evidence has provided … support for 5-HT3 receptor antagonism as a mechanism by which ginger may exert its potentially beneficial effect on nausea and vomiting.” Many also use it to ease nausea associated with motion sickness and sea sickness.

Additional Health Benefits and Usage Tips

Other health benefits of ginger include but are not limited to:

Prevention4 and treatment5 of Type 2 diabetes, in part by improving blood sugar control6 and limiting diabetes complications7,8 Neuroprotective effects,9 including slowing the loss of brain cells associated with Alzheimer’s disease,10 and improving cognitive function11
Mitigating brain damage and reducing memory impairment caused by cerebral ischemia (stroke)12 Lowering your risk of several types of cancer, including cancer of the lungs, ovaries, colon, breast, prostate, pancreas and skin13,14,15,16,17,18
Counteracting fructose damage such as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease19 Aiding weight loss by promoting satiety20 and enhancing digestion of fats21
Improving digestion, reliving gas and improving symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome Reducing exercise-induced inflammation and muscle soreness22
Relieving heartburn Protecting against respiratory viruses23 and drug-resistant bacterial and fungal infections24

Ginger is an excellent cooking staple worth keeping on hand at all times, and will keep fresh stored in the freezer. You can freeze the ginger either whole or pre-shredded. There’s no need to thaw it, as you can easily shred it frozen. Simply peel off the skin with a knife or peeler, then shred using a microplane or ceramic grater. The latter will give you a smoother, creamier consistency.

Find a ceramic grater HERE

Bergamot Health Benefits and Contraindications

Bergamot oil, which has a sweet fruity orange-blossom aroma, is what gives Earl Grey and Lady Grey teas their distinct flavor. The fragrance alone has been shown to ease anxiety and depression. Like ginger, it also helps improve digestion and has powerful antimicrobial action. Bergamot oil is extracted from the rind of the bergamot orange, which is native to Italy.

It should be used sparingly, however, as it contains a compound called bergapten, which acts as a potassium channel blocker. While rare, you could potentially end up with an electrolyte imbalance should you consume too much of it. Symptoms of potassium deficiency include muscle cramps and twitches, tinging sensations and blurred vision.

A 2002 case study25 published in The Lancet discusses the case of a man who drank up to 4 liters of black tea per day. As his favorite brand sometimes caused gastric pain, he switched to Earl Grey and developed muscle cramps after drinking it for one week.

His condition, “Earl Grey intoxication,” was deemed due to its potassium blocking effect. If you already have potassium deficiency, forgo adding bergamot to the recipe above.  With that caveat, bergamot does have a number of valuable health benefits. For example, bergamot oil has been shown to:

  • Alleviate symptoms and complications of bacterial infections, including Enterococcus faecium and Enterococcus faecalis bacteria, which are resistant to the potent antibiotic vancomycin26
  • Speed the healing process for cold sores, mouth ulcers and herpes.27 It also has a similar antibacterial effect on shingles and chickenpox, which are also caused by the varicella zoster virus from herpes
  • Prevent and improve skin conditions from fungal infections when used topically28
  • Reduce anxiety and stress when used in aromatherapy29
  • Research30 also shows bergamot has statin-like principles and carries the 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaric acid (HMG) moiety. In other words, it acts much like a statin does

Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is another kitchen staple with myriad uses and benefits. Traditionally, apple cider vinegar is made through a long, slow fermentation process that renders it rich in bioactive components like acetic acid, gallic acid, catechin, epicatechin, caffeic acid and more, giving it potent antioxidant, antimicrobial and many other beneficial properties.

“Mother” of vinegar, a cobweb-like amino acid-based substance found in unprocessed, unfiltered vinegar, indicates your vinegar is of the best quality. Most manufacturers pasteurize and filter their vinegar to prevent the mother from forming, but the “murky” kind is actually best, especially if you’re planning to consume it. Health benefits associated with apple cider vinegar consumption include but are not limited to:

Improved blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity in those with prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes31
Easing sore throat when gargled (mixed with warm water) or consumed with honey and ginger32
Improved heart health. Polyphenols such as chlorogenic acid help inhibit oxidation of LDL cholesterol,33 while acetic acid helps lower blood pressure.34 It’s also been shown to lower triglyceride levels and very low density lipoprotein cholesterol in animals35
Easing digestive ailments such as acid reflux, intestinal spasms and Candida overgrowth. For everyday gut health, a mixture of 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar with 1 teaspoon of raw honey in 1 cup of warm water can be helpful
Improved weight management by increasing satiety36
Boosting energy. Apple cider vinegar contains potassium and enzymes to help banish fatigue. Plus, its amino acids may help prevent the buildup of lactic acid in your body, further preventing fatigue37
Easing sinus congestion when used as a nasal rinse,38 as it helps break up and reduce mucus. It also has antibacterial properties, making it useful for infections
Supporting detoxification and healthy immune function. According to the website The Truth About Cancer,39 “Especially in patients who are immunosuppressed, apple cider vinegar is an excellent natural antimicrobial tonic to rid the body of harmful bacteria and provide immune support”

Study Finds Pomegranate Juice Lowers Blood Pressure


Last year, the study Effects of pomegranate juice on blood pressure: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials was published in the journal Pharmacological Research. Eight different randomized placebo-controlled trials (RCTs) were analyzed to determine the efficacy of pomegranate juice for lowering high blood pressure, also known as hypertension.

Many past studies have suggested antiatherogenic, antioxidant, antihypertensive, and anti-inflammatory effects of pomegranate juice. Potential cardioprotective properties of pomegranate juice warrant further investigation and discussion.

In the aforementioned study a meta-analysis of eight previous RCTs was conducted using a random-effects model. Publication bias, quality assessment, and sensitivity analysis were implemented to gain an objective overview of pomegranate juice’s potential efficacy for lowering high blood pressure.

In layman’s terms, roughly 8 fl oz (~240 ml) of pomegranate juice consumed on a daily basis lowered both systolic blood pressure (the first number) and diastolic blood pressure (the second number) across the board.

From the abstract’s conclusion,

The present meta-analysis suggests consistent benefits of pomegranate juice consumption on blood pressure. This evidence suggests it may be prudent to include this fruit juice in a heart-healthy diet.

Positive results were observed from patients that consumed pomegranate juice for less than the 12 week period as well as those that consumed pomegranate for an excess of 12 weeks. Results suggest that pomegranate juice is effective at lowering both systolic and diastolic blood pressure when consumed regularly.

The efficacy and effectiveness appear to be extremely favorable for long term use of pomegranate juice; however, the results of this study suggest that working pomegranate into your diet can have relativity quick, short-term cardiovascular benefits as well.

[Related: Study Finds Pomegranate Outperforms Drugs For Managing Cholesterol Level]

To reap the full benefits discussed in the study we recommend choosing 100% juice, not-from-concentrate, and organic options when possible (find here). At the moment, there is plenty of organic pomegranate juice sold in glass bottles available here. If you or someone you know pays for medication to reduce high blood pressure, this may be a more affordable solution!

As always, it is wise to discuss any changes you may want to make to your current prescription regimen with a qualified practitioner. Unfortunately finding an allopathic doctor that will consider a healthy alternative to expensive prescription pills is rare.

The good news is that trained naturopathic physicians can be found in most areas in this day and age. These are doctors that believe in healing the body holistically instead of simply prescribing pills to mask symptoms. They take the time to read studies such as this and will work with you to achieve the diet and health goals that you desire.

The appeal of naturopathic medicine to many people is that conventional medicine may be implemented in emergency situations, rather than a complete dependence on it. If you’re unsure of whether or not there is a practicing naturopath near you, a search feature is available here.

You can find organic pomegranate juice, not-from-concentrate, in glass bottles by following this link. You can find a cheaper-per-ounce alternative here that is not certified organic such as the first link provided. Regardless, both options taste great making the 8oz daily intake quite achievable.

Sources and References:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/
https://www.sciencedirect.com/
https://realfarmacy.com/
https://www.heart.org
Ella Olsson/flickrCC 2.0

Ginger tea: Dissolves Kidney Stones, Cleanses Liver & Obliterates Cancer Cells (Recipe)


One of the most health-beneficial plants on earth – ginger, is abundant in medicinal properties, among which it reduces inflammation, stimulates digestion and boosts immunity.

Ginger owes its flavor and aroma to several different essential oils: gingerol, shogaol and zingerone. These agents have really powerful anti-parasitic, anti-fungal, anti-viral, and anti-bacterial effects, which can ease pain, improve cardiovascular health, relieve asthma, strengthen immunity, and stimulate digestion among others.

Ginger Tea Benefits

Ginger tea is an amazing remedy for treatment of sore muscles, common cold, flu and headaches. This drink can actually destroy the virus causing influenza, cold sores and common colds.

In addition, only a cup of tea each day can considerably lower your risk of stroke due to the fact that ginger dissolves fat deposits which in fact block the arteries.

Moreover, due to ginger’s thermogenic properties, this vegetable has the ability to improve blood circulation and the delivery of oxygen, minerals and vitamins to the cells in the body.

Plus, the high content of antioxidants successfully eliminates infections and improves the immune system.

Ginger Tea Preparation

Ingredients:

Instructions:
This tea-making process is really simple. After adding the turmeric and ginger in boiling water, lower the heat and then let it simmer for 7-10 min.

Add the coconut milk and strain the tea into a cup. Improve your tea flavor by adding some organic honey. Enjoy one of the healthiest drinks there is!

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