6 Breathing Exercises And Yoga Poses To Raise Hemoglobin

Yoga To Increase Hemoglobin

A low level of hemoglobin leads to anemia, which in turn causes dizziness, fatigue, and headaches. You should try breathing exercises like shitali, nadi shodhan, and kapalbhati pranayama to increase the production of red blood cells. Follow these with yog poses like shoulder stand, half-shoulder stand, and raised foot pose.

Iron is an essential element for blood production. About 70 percent of your body’s iron is found in the red blood cells of your blood called hemoglobin. Hemoglobin plays an important role in transferring oxygen in your blood from the lungs to the tissues.

Generally, the signs of low hemoglobin include dizziness, headache, fatigue, and a feeling of tiredness. Sometimes, it can also be tough to concentrate. And while not many associate yoga with hemoglobin, yoga and pranayama or breathing exercises can indeed help increase the hemoglobin in your blood.1 Did you know most anemic patients are advised to start their yoga sessions with pranayama?

1. Shitali Pranayama


  • Sit comfortably cross-legged and with both hands on the knees.
  • Stick your tongue out, folding both sides of the tongue like a tube.
  • Inhale deeply through the tube made with your tongue.
  • After inhalation, close your mouth and exhale through your nostrils.
  • This can also be done by clenching your teeth and inhaling if you are unable to roll your tongue.


  • This pranayama is not advisable for those having low blood pressure.
  • Heart and asthma patients should be careful as holding the breath may cause discomfort.
  • Always consult your general practitioner before beginning any yoga session.

2. Nadi Shodhan Pranayama


  • Sit comfortably with your spine erect and shoulders relaxed.
  • Place your left hand on the left knee. The index finger and the thumb should be gently touching at the tips and the palm should be open.
  • Place the tip of the index finger and middle finger of your right hand in between your eyebrows. The ring finger and the little finger should be on the left nostril and the thumb on the right nostril. These fingers on the left and right will control the opening and closing of the nostrils.
  • Press your thumb down on the right nostril and breathe out gently through the left nostril.
  • Now, breathe in from the left nostril and press it down with the ring finger and little finger. Remove the thumb from the right nostril and exhale.


  • Do not force the breathing; keep the flow gentle and natural.
  • Do not apply pressure on the forehead with the fingers.
  • Your exhalation should be longer than your inhalation.

3. Kapalbhati Pranayama


  • Sit comfortably with your spine erect. Place your hands on your knees with the palms open.
  • Take a deep breath.
  • As you exhale, pull your stomach back in towards the spine. Do as much as you comfortably can.
  • You may place your right hand on the stomach to feel the abdominal muscles contract.
  • Take 20 such breaths to complete 1 round of kapalbhati pranayama.


  • Avoid practicing this breathing technique if you have an artificial pacemaker or stents or a backache due to slip disc. Those who have had an abdominal surgery or are suffering from epilepsy or hernia should avoid this pranayama.
  • This pranayama should not be practiced during and shortly after pregnancy. It should be avoided by women during menstruation as it involves vigorous abdominal squeezes.
  • People with hypertension and heart problems should practice this with the guidance of a yoga trainer.

These breathing exercises are followed by the following yogasanas.

4. Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand)


  • Lie down on a mat. Place the hands below the hips and elbows close to the body.
  • As you exhale, bend the knees and lift the hips off the floor.
  • When you inhale, straighten the legs and place them straight up.
  • Hold this position with the support of both your hands. Placing the elbows close to each other will help protect your back and will provide more stability.
  • If the entire position is not possible, do as much as you can but make sure the position is stable.
  • Exhale and bend the knees toward your chest.
  • Next, inhale and with the help of your hands bring the hips down.
  • When you come down from the straight position, make sure you don’t come down with a jerk.


  • Menstruating and pregnant women are advised not to perform this yogasana.
  • It is important to consult a physician if you are suffering from high blood pressure, heart problems, glaucoma, slip disc, spondylosis, neck pain, and/or acute thyroid problems.

5. Viparitakarani (Half Shoulder Stand)


  • Lie down on your back.
  • Bring your legs together with your feet pointing upward.
  • Roll your legs over, lift your buttocks off the floor.
  • Place your hands below the buttocks.
  • Your weight is focused on your neck, shoulder, and elbows.
  • When you want to come back, take your legs over your head and bring your spine down slowly.
  • Finally, bring your legs down and relax.


  • This asana is a mild inversion, and therefore, it must be avoided during menstruation.
  • Those with serious neck and back problems should perform this asana with the help of a yoga instructor.

6. Uttanpadasana (Raised Foot Pose)


  • Lie down on your back.
  • Keep your legs together and slowly raise the legs up bringing them to an angle of 90° with the ground. If you are not comfortable with this angle, you can also maintain an angle of 60° with the ground.
  • All kinds of jerks and movements of the legs should be avoided.
  • The toes should be together and stretched upward.
  • Continue normal breathing and try to maintain this posture.
  • Breathing normally, bring both the legs back down on the floor.
  • This can be practiced by raising one leg at a time as well.


  • Pregnant women and menstruating women are advised not to perform this pose.
  • People suffering from severe backaches and high blood pressure should perform this after consulting your doctor.
  • People suffering from any other ailments should consult their general practitioner before performing any yoga pose.

Further, aerobic yoga improves the oxygen delivery capacity of the blood as the blood volume, the number of red blood cells, and oxygen-carrying hemoglobin increase.

These are only a few yogasanas and breathing exercises that can help increase low hemoglobin levels in the blood. Other breathing exercises may also help, including suryabhedana and shitkari. Other yogasanas that may help with the hemoglobin levels include trikonasana, halasana, pawanmuktasana, matsyasana, shavasana, and others.

View Article References (-)

1. Sinha, Anil. Common Remedies and Cures for the Common Diseases, Volume 1. Page Publishing, 2014.

Why Cannabis Is the Future of Medicine

Why Cannabis Is the Future of Medicine

The future of medicine rests on the the fundamental right we all have to use things that spring from the Earth naturally as healing agents. Why should cannabis, used for at least 10000 years by humankind to alleviate suffering, be excluded from this inexorable mandate?

The politics of cannabis are exceedingly complex, and yet the truth is simple: this freely growing plant heals the human body – not to mention provides food, fuel, clothing and shelter, if only we will let it perform its birthright. In a previous article, we investigated the strange fact that the human body is in many ways pre-designed, or as it were, pre-loaded with a receptiveness to cannabis’ active compounds — cannabinoids — thanks to its well documented endocannabinoid system.

But the medical-industrial complex in the U.S. does not want you to use these freely growing compounds. They threaten its very business model and existence. Which is why it synergizes so naturally with the burgeoning privatized prison sector, which now has the dubious title of having the highest incarceration rate in the world. The statistics don’t lie:

“far surpassing any other nation. For every 100,000 Americans, 743 citizens sit behind bars. Presently, the prison population in America consists of more than six million people, a number exceeding the amount of prisoners held in the gulags of the former Soviet Union at any point in its history.”

According to a recent Al-Jeezera editorial, “One explanation for the boom in the prison population is the mandatory sentencing imposed for drug offences and the “tough on crime” attitude that has prevailed since the 1980s.”

Cannabis/marijuana is presently on the DEA’s Schedule 1 list.  Since 1972, cannabis has been listed on the Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, the most tightly restricted category reserved for drugs which have “no currently accepted medical use”. Opioids, stimulants, psychedelics and a few antidepressants now populate this list of substances that can put you in jail for possessing without a prescription.

The notion that marijuana has no ‘medicinal benefits’ is preposterous, actually. Since time immemorial it has been used as a panacea (‘cure-all’). In fact, as far back as 2727 B.C., cannabis was recorded in the Chinese pharmacopoeia as an effective medicine, and evidence for its use as a food, textile and presumably as a healing agent stretch back even further, to 12,000 BC.[1]

When it comes to cannabis’ medical applications, cannabis’ ‘healing properties’ is a loaded term. In fact, it is extremely dangerous, as far as the medical industrial complex goes, who has the FDA/FTC to enforce it’s mandate: anything that prevents, diagnoses, treats or cures a disease must be an FDA approved drug by law, i.e. pharmaceutical agents which often have 75 or more adverse effects for each marketed and approved “therapeutic” effect.

Indeed, the dominant, drug-based medical system does not even acknowledge the body’s healing abilities, opting for a view that looks at most bodily suffering as fatalistic, primarily genetically based, and resulting from dysfunction in the mechanical design of a highly entropic ‘bag of enzymes and proteins’ destined to suffer along the trajectory of time.

And so, an at least two trillion dollar a year industry stands between you and access to the disease alleviating properties of this humble plant.

As Emerson said, “a weed is an herb whose virtues have yet to be discovered,” and yet, by this definition, cannabis is not a weed, but given that is has been extensively researched and used for thousands of years for a wide range of health conditions, it should be considered and respected as a medicinal herb and food. Sadly, the fact that the whole herb is non-patentable is the main reason why it is still struggling to gain approval from the powers that be.

Let’s look at the actual, vetted, published and peer-reviewed research – bullet proof, if we are to subscribe to the ‘evidence-based’ model of medicine – which includes over 100 proven therapeutic actions of this amazing plant, featuring the following:

  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Tourette Syndrome
  • Pain
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Brachial Plexus Neuropathies
  • Insomnia
  • Multiple Splasticity
  • Memory Disorders
  • Social Anxiety Disorders
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Cancer
  • Opiate Addiction
  • Anorexia
  • Bladder Dysfunction
  • Bronchial Asthma
  • Chemotherapy-induced Harm
  • Constipation
  • Crack Addiction
  • Dementia
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Glaucoma
  • Heroin Addiction
  • Lymphoma
  • Nausea
  • Neuropathy
  • Obesity
  • Phantom Limb
  • Spinal Cord Injuries
  • Endotoxemia
  • Myocardia Infarction (Heart Attack)
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Diabetes: Cataract
  • Tremor
  • Cardiac Arrhythmias
  • Fatigue
  • Fulminant Liver Failure
  • Low Immune Function
  • Aging
  • Alcohol Toxicity
  • Allodynia
  • Arthritis: Rheumatoid
  • Ascites
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Diabetes Type 1
  • High Cholesterol
  • Liver Damage
  • Menopausal Syndrome
  • Morphine Dependence
  • Appetite Disorders
  • Auditory Disease
  • Dystonia
  • Epstein-Barr infections
  • Gynecomasia
  • Hepatitis
  • Intestinal permeability
  • Leukemia
  • Liver Fibrosis
  • Migraine Disorders
  • Oncoviruses
  • Psoriasis
  • Thymoma

Moreover, this plant’s therapeutic properties have been subdivided into the following 40+ pharmacological actions:

  • Analgesic (Pain Killing)
  • Neuroprotective
  • Antispasmodic
  • Anxiolytic
  • Tumor necrosis factor inhibitor
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antiproliferative
  • Apoptotic
  • Chempreventive
  • Antidepressive
  • Antiemetic
  • Bronchodilator
  • Anti-metastatic
  • Anti-neoplastic
  • Antioxidant
  • Cardioprotective
  • Hepatoprotective
  • Anti-tumor
  • Enzyme inhibitor
  • Immunomodulatory
  • Anti-angiogenic
  • Autophagy up-regulation
  • Acetylocholinesterase inhibitor
  • Anti-platelet
  • Calcium channel blocker
  • Cell cycle arrest
  • Cylooxygenase inhibitor
  • Glycine agents
  • Immunomodulatory: T-Cell down-regulation
  • Intracellular adhesion molecule-1 inducer
  • Matrix mettaproteinase-1 inhibitor
  • Neuritohgenic
  • Platelet Aggregration Inhibito
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A inhibitor
  • Anti-apoptotic
  • Anti-proliferative
  • Anti-psychotic
  • Antiviral
  • Caspase-3 activation
  • Chemosensitizer
  • Immunosupressive agent
  • Interleukin-6 upregulation
  • Tumor suppressor protein p53 upregulation

Thanks to modern scientific investigation, it is no longer considered strictly ‘theoretical’ that cannabis has a role to play in medicine. There is a growing movement to wrench back control from the powers that be, whose primary objectives appear to be the subjection of the human body in order to control the population (political motives) — what 20th century French philosopher Michel Foucault termed biopower, and not to awaken true healing powers intrinsic within the body of all self-possessed members of society. Even the instinct towards recreational use – think of the etymology: to re-create – should be allowed, as long as those who choose to use cannabis instead of tobacco and alcohol (and prescription drugs) do not cause harm to themselves or others. How many deaths are attributed to cannnabis each year versus these other societally approved recreational agents, not to mention prescription drugs, which are the 3rd leading cause of death in the developed world?

Ultimately, the politics surrounding cannabis access and the truth about its medicinal properties are so heavily a politicized issue that it is doubtful the science itself will prevail against the distorted lens of media characterizations of it as a ‘dangerous drug,’ and certainly not the iron-clad impasse represented by federal laws against its possession and use. All we can do is to advocate for the fundamental rights we all possess as free men and women, and our inborn right towards self-possession, i.e as long as what we do does not interfere with the choices and rights of others, we should be free to use an herb/food/textile that sprouts freely and grows freely from this earth, as God/Nature as freely made available.


I think people need to be educated to the fact that marijuana is not a drug. Marijuana is an herb and a flower. God put it here. If He put it here and He wants it to grow, what gives the government the right to say that God is wrong?

~ Willie Nelson

“Why is marijuana against the law? It grows naturally upon our planet. Doesn’t the idea of making nature against the law seem to you a bit . . . unnatural?” – Bill Hicks

Your Body is Acidic. Here is what you NEED to Do

Dr. Otto H. Warburg, the Noble prize winner who discovered the real cancer cause, later released his findings in which he proves that the root cause of cancer is actually oxygen deficiency.

Oxygen deficiency creates an acidic state in the body. He also found out that cancer cells don’t breathe oxygen (which means that they are anaerobic), so they cannot thrice in an environment with high oxygen levels, as in the alkaline environment.

On the contrary of the cancer cells, all normal cells are absolutely dependent on the oxygen levels. It’s a basic rule that if you deprive a cell for 48 hours from 35% of oxygen, it will become cancerous.

The diet has a major role in establishment of the normal pH levels in the human body. The body must establish a balance between the alkaline and acid in all cells and fluids. In fact, it need to balance the pH levels in the blood at 7.365 which is slightly alkaline, in order to survive.

Based on mostly acid-forming foods such as refined grains, processed sugars, GMO, and etc., the American diet contributes to the creation of an unhealthy acidic pH.

An imbalanced pH levels interrupt the functions and activities of the cells. Extreme acidic pH levels lead to numerous health issues, including cardiovascular diseases, heartburn, osteoporosis, diabetes, and even cancer. Keeping the body in an acidic state for a long time can accelerate the aging process drastically.

According to Dr. Robert O. Young, major health problems occur from being acidic because of the fact that parasites, viruses, bad bacteria, and candida thrive in acidic environments. The alkaline environment neutralizes pathogens and bacteria. So, to optimize your health, first of all, you need to maintain a pH balance.

Home remedies for acidity

Ingredients you will need :

1/3 tsp. of baking soda

2 tbsp. of fresh lemon juice or ACV


Take one glass and put both ingredients in it. Mix them together and you will see how the mixture will start to fizz immediately. Then, add the baking soda until the fizz stops. At the end, fill the glass with some water and drink the combination all at once. This remedy will neutralize the pH levels and at the same time, it will create an alkaline environment in your body which will reduce acidosis and stomach acid.

What Can Coconut Oil Do for Your Skin?

coconut oil

It’s all-natural, soothes and softens the complexion, and evokes memories of sunny beach days and tropical beverages – no wonder coconut oil has emerged as a wildly popular skincare ingredient.

While there’s not yet enough evidence that consuming coconut oil will benefit your skin, research suggests that applying it to the surface of your skin might really help.

Coconut oil — extracted from the white, pulpy portion of this palm tree nut — is rich in free fatty acids that, according to small human studies, can improve skin hydration, reduce itching, dryness, and rashes, including eczema. Some of those fatty acids can also reduce common germs that live on the skin (including Staph aureus) that are known for riling up eczema. Research on premature babies and children with mild to moderate eczema showed that twice-daily applications of virgin coconut oil reduced the severity of skin disease, improved the skin’s ability to retain moisture, and enhanced the skin’s barrier function – leading to a healthier, less-itchy, more supple complexion. And it’s not just the greasy texture that seems to have a beneficial effect. In studies comparing virgin coconut oil to virgin olive oil or mineral oil, virgin coconut oil outperformed the other oils as a moisturizer, natural germ-fighter, and rash-calming ingredient.

But for many people suffering from common forms of eczema (such as atopic dermatitis or nummular dermatitis), coconut oil is simply not enough to control itching and rash. Many dermatologists consider plain ointments (such as petroleum jelly or Aquaphor) and thick, unscented creams to be more effective moisturizers. Your dermatologist can help guide you through gentle skincare techniques to maximize your skin’s health and can prescribe topical (or even systemic) medicines when they are necessary. And if a coconut-containing product ever seems to make your skin redder or itchier, be suspicious – certain derivatives of coconut oil, including cocamide diethanolamine, are known for causing allergic skin reactions. And finally, don’t forget that coconut oil is comedogenic – meaning, it could clog pores and worsen acne – so it shouldn’t be applied over blemish-prone areas.

Accumulating evidence suggests curcumin and turmeric can treat psychiatric disorders

Living with a psychiatric disorder can be devastating for both sufferers and their loved ones. Unfortunately, many of the solutions offered by modern medicine do more harm than good while offering little in the way of relief. Thankfully, researchers have discovered that a compound in the popular Indian spice turmeric has the potential to effectively treat psychiatric disorders like bipolar disorder and depression.

You may have heard the fanfare about turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties, which it gets from a compound within the spice known as curcumin. It has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine and has been gaining popularity in Western medicine in recent years. This polyphenol is being revered for its protective, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and is being used to help fight cancer and stop the cognitive decline of neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s. Non-toxic and affordable, it’s showing a lot of promise in helping deal with many of the health problems facing people today.

Image: Accumulating evidence suggests curcumin and turmeric can treat psychiatric disorders

The same anti-inflammatory qualities that make it so good at addressing issues like arthritis can also extend to mood disorders. Not only does it reduce levels of tumor necrosis factor alpha and inflammatory interleukin-1 beta, but it also reduces salivary cortisol concentrations while raising the levels of plasma brain-derived neurotrophic factor.

A study carried out by researchers at Australia’s Murdoch University found that curcumin extracts reduced people’s anxiety and depression scores. They noted that it was particularly effective at alleviating anxiety. Moreover, even low doses of the spice extract were effective in addressing depression. In addition, the researchers found it worked quite well on those with atypical depression, which is a marker of bipolar depression.

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Growing evidence of curcumin’s usefulness in addressing psychiatric disorders

Curcumin has been found in other studies to be just as effective as one of the most popular SSRI antidepressants on the market, Prozac, making it an excellent option for those who wish to avoid the negative side effects of this psychiatric medication. It works by raising levels of dopamine and serotonin, two vital neurotransmitters related to depression. In addition, because depression is believed to be caused by chronic inflammation, it makes sense that curcumin’s ability to reduce inflammation could alleviate depression.

Interestingly, studies have also found that when curcumin is taken either alone or with saffron, it reduces the symptoms of anxiety and depression in those suffering from major depressive disorder. When taken alongside the herb fenugreek, meanwhile, it can reduce fatigue, stress and anxiety in those with extreme occupational stress. Curcumin supplementation has also been shown to significantly improve compulsiveness and memory loss in those with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

It’s also worth noting that curcumin can be taken alongside antidepressants safely; studies have even shown taking the two together can enhance their effectiveness. However, it’s important to keep in mind that antidepressants carry a lot of risks, so it’s worth exploring whether curcumin alone could be enough to alleviate an individual’s depression.

The idea of curcumin helping with mood is supported by a study that was published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry earlier this year. In that study, researchers found that participants who took curcumin supplements noted mood improvements, and they plan to explore this connection in a study of patients with depression. The researchers expressed optimism that curcumin could be a safe way to provide people with cognitive benefits; they also discovered the spice can improve memory.

Now, researchers are looking for ways to increase curcumin’s bioavailability so that people can enjoy the benefits of this all-star natural treatment. In the meantime, be sure to add black pepper to your dishes when cooking with turmeric or look for curcumin supplements that contain piperine, a black pepper extract, as this boosts its bioavailability.

Controlled Breathing Calms Your Brain

The way you breathe — whether fast or slow, shallow or deep — is intricately tied to your body as a whole, sending messages that affect your mood, your stress levels and even your immune system. Yet, breathing is unique in that it’s both easily ignored (becoming a basic background of your life) and revered at the same time. In the latter case, it’s almost instinctual to advise someone to “take a deep breath” if they’re feeling anxious, stressed or fearful.

While it’s long been known that breathing is connected to your brain (and vice versa), it wasn’t until early 2017 that researchers discovered breathing may directly affect your brain activity, including your state of arousal and higher-order brain function.1 Breathing is initiated by a cluster of neurons in your brainstem. In an animal study, researchers were attempting to identify different types of neurons (out of a group of nearly 3,000) and identify their role in breathing function.

They were focused on the pre-Bötzinger complex (or preBötC), which is known as the breathing pacemaker (and has been identified in humans as well as mice).2 The researchers further honed in on 175 neurons in the breathing pacemaker, which they then “silenced” or essentially eliminated in the mice, with the expectation that this would alter their breathing patterns.

However, this did not occur. The mice had no changes in their breathing patterns after the neurons were knocked out, although they did become noticeably more “chill.”3 It turned out that these neurons positively regulate neurons in a brainstem structure called the locus coeruleus, which is linked to arousal. It is, in other words, the formerly hidden link between breathing rate and emotional state, at least in mice.4

Counting Your Breaths Influences Your Brain’s Emotional Centers

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to research highlighting breathing’s many effects on your mind. Respiration has traditionally been looked at in terms of automatic brain stem processes, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that higher brain mechanisms are also involved, although the link is not very well understood.

“Therapeutic techniques have used conscious control and awareness of breathing for millennia with little understanding of the mechanisms underlying their efficacy,” researchers wrote in the Journal of Neurophysiology.5

They conducted an experiment asking participants to count how many breaths they took for two minutes. During this time, their brain activity, which was monitored by EEG, showed a more organized pattern, or “increased coherence,” in areas linked to emotion than occurred during a resting state.6,7 Still other research hinting at the deep ties between breathing and your brain came from a study in the Journal of Neuroscience, which showed that natural breathing is not simply a “passive target of heightened arousal or vigilance.”

For instance, your breathing rate changes when you’re anxious or engrossed in a mentally challenging task. But the study suggests these changes, rather than being the result of your mental state, may actually be actively used to promote changes in your brain, including those that control goal-directed behaviors.8

In short, the rhythm of breathing leads to changes in your brain that may heighten your ability to make emotional judgments or form memories.9 For instance, people were better able to identify fearful faces during inhalation through their nose, as opposed to when they were exhaling through their mouth. The same was true for remembering images.

Controlled Breathing May Improve Depression, Lower Blood Pressure and More

Modern research suggests the benefits of controlled breathing may also include improved health conditions ranging from insomnia and anxiety to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression. In a preliminary study presented in May 2016 at the International Congress on Integrative Medicine and Health in Las Vegas, researchers found 12 weeks of daily yoga and controlled breathing improved symptoms of depression similar to using an antidepressant.

Not only did the participants’ symptoms of depression significantly decrease but their levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a calming neurotransmitter, simultaneously increased.10 Controlled breathing exercises have also been found to modify stress coping behaviors and initiate appropriate balance in cardiac autonomic tone, which is a term that describes your heart’s ability to respond to and recover from stressors.11

Also intriguing is a 2016 study published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, which found yogic breathing reduces levels of proinflammatory biomarkers in saliva.12 Controlled breathing is also one way to trigger your relaxation response, which is essentially the opposite of the fight-or-flight response, as it activates your parasympathetic nervous system, which in turn may slow down your heart rate and digestion while helping you feel calm.

By evoking your body’s built-in relaxation response you can actually change the expression of your genes for the better, including in areas related to energy metabolism, mitochondrial function, insulin secretion, the inflammatory response and stress-related pathways.13

Slow breathing also reduces blood pressure and enhances baroreflex sensitivity, a mechanism to control blood pressure via heart rate, in people with high blood pressure.14 The finding was so strong that researchers suggested slow breathing “appear[s] potentially beneficial in the management of hypertension.”15

Different Types of Controlled Breathing

Your body breathes automatically, but it’s both an involuntary and a voluntary process. You can alter the speed and the depth of your breathing for instance, as well as choose to breathe through your mouth or your nose. What’s more, these choices lead to physical changes in your body. Short, slow, steady breathing activates your parasympathetic response while rapid, shallow breathing activates your sympathetic response, which is involved in releasing cortisol and other stress hormones.

If your goal is to relax, many enjoy pranayama, or yogic breathing, which has been practiced for thousands of years for purposes of enhancing health. Pranayama can be done using nostril breathing (double, single or alternate), abdominal breathing or vocalized (chanting) breathing. There’s also the Buteyko Breathing Method, in which you make a conscious effort to breathe through your nose instead of your mouth.

Related reading:

As noted in the journal Breathe, “Since the 1990s, a system of breathing therapy developed within the Russian medical community by Konstantin Pavlovich Buteyko has made its way across several continents: the Buteyko method. K.P. Buteyko began treating patients with respiratory and circulatory diseases using breathing retraining in the 1950s and 1960s.”16

When you stop mouth breathing and learn to bring your breathing volume toward normal, you have better oxygenation of your tissues and organs, including your brain. Factors of modern life, including stress and lack of exercise, all increase your everyday breathing. Most people believe that taking bigger breaths through your mouth allows you to take more oxygen into your body, which should make you feel better and more clear-headed. However, the opposite actually happens.

Deep mouth breathing tends to make you feel light-headed, and this is due to eliminating too much CO2 from your lungs, which causes your blood vessels to constrict. So, the heavier you breathe, the less oxygen is actually delivered throughout your body. In fact, one study that pitted pranayama breathing against the Buteyko method revealed the Buteyko group had better improvement in quality of life and asthma control than the pranayama group.17

How Many Breaths per Minute Are Ideal?

Typically, the respiratory rate of humans is about 10 to 20 breaths per minute. Slowing your breathing down to a rate of four to 10 breaths per minute appears to offer many benefits, however, including effects on the respiratory, cardiovascular, cardiorespiratory and autonomic nervous systems that may influence:18

  • Respiratory muscle activity
  • Ventilation efficiency
  • Chemoreflex and baroreflex sensitivity
  • Heart rate variability
  • Blood flow dynamics
  • Respiratory sinus arrhythmia
  • Cardiorespiratory coupling
  • Sympathovagal balance

Further, according to research in Breathe, optimized respiration in humans may be in the range of six to 10 breaths per minute, done in a way that activates your diaphragm. In addition, they noted that nasal breathing (such as taught by the Buteyko method) “is also considered an important component of optimized respiration.” Researchers explained:19

“Controlled, slow breathing appears to be an effective means of maximizing HRV [heart rate variability] and preserving autonomic function, both of which have been associated with decreased mortality in pathological states and longevity in the general population … This is easily achievable in most individuals with simple practice and there is yet to appear in the literature any documented adverse effects of respiration in the 6–10 breaths per min range.”

Slow, Deep Breathing Relieves Stress

Pranayama breathing involves three phases: inhalation, retention and exhalation, each of which can have varying lengths and tempos. The middle phase, retention (Kumbhaka) is said to be an important part of the breathing process and helps enhance the level of vital energy in your body. According to a study in the International Journal of Yoga:20

“Slow and deep breathing is efficient as it reduces the ventilation in the dead space of the lungs. Shallow breathing replenishes air only at the base of the lungs in contrast to deep breathing that replenishes the air in all parts of the lung.

“It decreases the effect of stress and strain on the body by shifting the balance of the autonomic system predominantly toward the parasympathetic system and improves the physical and mental health. Many researchers have found pranayama to be beneficial in treating stress-related disorders … The effects of pranayama, when practiced with kumbhaka, are substantially more than pranayama practiced alone.”

The study involved 12 weeks of modified slow breathing exercise in a modified pranayama (alternate nostril breathing) form, with equal phases of inspiration, breath holding and exhalation (1-to-1-to-1 ratio). Following the study, and compared to a control group that did not receive any intervention, the slow breathing group had reduced perceived stress and improved cardiovascular parameters, such as heart rate and blood pressure.21

Even in the immediacy, slowing your respiratory rate to six breaths per minute for a period of five minutes has been shown to significantly reduce blood pressure and result in a small reduction in heart rate.

“Slow pace bhastrika pranayama (respiratory rate six/minute) exercise thus shows a strong tendency to improving the autonomic nervous system through enhanced activation of the parasympathetic system,” researchers explained.22 Further research published in the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine suggests yogic breathing may:23

  • Modulate cardiovascular variables in patients with hypertension and cardiac arrhythmias.
  • Relieve symptoms and enhance pulmonary functions in bronchial asthma.
  • Enhance mood for patients withdrawing from cigarette smoking.
  • Reduce reaction time in specially abled children.
  • Manage anxiety and stress in students.
  • Modulate pain perception.
  • Improve quality of life and sympathetic activity in patients with diabetes.
  • Reduce cancer-related symptoms and enhance the antioxidant status of patients undergoing radiotherapy and chemotherapy for cancer.

Give These Controlled Breathing Techniques a Try

Subtle changes in the way you breathe can lead to significant changes in your body and mind. And different breathing techniques have the potential to offer different advantages to your system. As such, it’s a good idea to try out a variety and find out which works best for you (or simply rotate through them randomly). One of the most effective breathing exercises (a Buteyko method) to reduce stress and anxiety does not involve taking deep breaths at all but rather focuses on small breaths taken through your nose, as follows:

  1. Take a small breath into your nose, followed by a small breath out
  2. Then hold your nose for five seconds in order to hold your breath, and then release your nose to resume breathing
  3. Breathe normally for 10 seconds
  4. Repeat the sequence

In their review of scientific evidence into the effects of controlled, yogic breathing, the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine compiled 1,400 references that involved the yogic breathing practices such as the following.24 Give one, or several, a try today and see if it makes a difference for you.

Nadi Shodhana/Nadi Shuddhi (Alternate nostril breathing) — With your right thumb, close the right nostril and inhale through your left nostril. Closing the left nostril, exhale through the right, following which, inhalation should be done through the right nostril. Closing the right nostril, breath out through your left nostril. This is one round. The procedure is repeated for the desired number of rounds.
Surya Nuloma Viloma (Right uninostril breathing) — Closing the left nostril, both inhalation and exhalation should be done through your right nostril, without altering the normal pace of breathing.
Chandra Anuloma Viloma (Left uninostril breathing) — Similar to Surya Nuloma Viloma, breathing is done through your left nostril alone, by closing the right nostril.
Surya Bhedana (Right nostril initiated breathing) — Closing the left nostril, inhalation should be done through your right nostril. At the end of inhalation, close the right nostril and exhale through the left nostril. This is one round. The procedure is repeated for the desired number of rounds.
Ujjayi (Psychic breath) — Inhalation and exhalation are done through the nose at a normal pace, with partial contraction of the glottis, which produces a light snoring sound. You should be aware of the passage of breath through the throat during the practice.
Bhramari (Female honeybee humming breath) — After a full inhalation, closing the ears using the index fingers, you should exhale making a soft humming sound similar to that of a female honeybee.

Crouching Garnish, Hidden SuperFood: The Secret Life of Kale

Crouching Garnish, Hidden SuperFood: The Secret Life of Kale

Kale, a less domesticated, disheveled form of cabbage, is one of the most potent healing foods in existence today.

Few foods commonly available at the produce stand are as beneficial to your health as kale.  And yet, sadly, it is more commonly found dressing up something not as healthy in a display case as a decoration than on someone’s plate where it belongs.

Kale is actually a form of cabbage that evaded domestication, sharing many of the same traits as wilder plant relatives unafraid of holding on to their bitter principle, and relatively unruly appearance.

Kale is perfectly content letting its luscious green leafy hair down, being the ‘hippie’ member of a family that includes the more tightly wound broccoli, cauliflower and the Brussel sprout, whose greater respectability as far as most restaurant menus go means kale is more likely to be found forgotten, shriveling up somewhere on the bottom shelf of someone’s refrigerator, no doubt possessed by someone with every intention (but not the time and appetite enough) to eat it.

But please do not underestimate this formidable plant, which grows as high as six to seven feet in the right conditions, casting a shadow as long as the impressive list of beneficial nutritional components it contains. Its nutritional density, in fact, is virtually unparalleled among green leafy vegetables. Consider too that during World War II, with rationing in full effect, the U.K. encouraged the backyard cultivation of this hearty, easy to grow plant for the Dig for Victory campaign that likely saved many from sickness and starvation. Over a half century later, kale’s status as a former cultural nutritional hero has faded into near oblivion … until now, we hope!

So, let’s get a better sense of all that kale has to offer by looking at the nutrition facts basics of only one cup of raw kale.

Kale Nutrition Facts

You will notice that it contains less than 1 gram of fat (.3 grams to be exact), 2 grams of protein, and subtracting the 1 gram of fiber from the total carbohydrate content (7), an effective carb content of 6 grams per serving, which is almost entirely complex carbohydrate, i.e. “starch.” This means it has a 3:1 carbohydrate-to-protein ratio – an exceptionally high amount of protein for any vegetable, and one reason why it has recently been acclaimed as the “new beef.”

Kale Contains ALL The Essential Amino Acids and 9 Non-Essential Ones

Indeed, like meat, kale contains all 9 essential amino acids needed to form the proteins within the human body: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, valine – plus, 9 other non-essential ones for a total of 18:

Kale Protein and Amino Acids

Consider too that compared to meat, the amino acids in kale are easier to extract.  When consuming a steak, for instance, the body has to expend great metabolic resources to break down the massive, highly complex, and intricately folded protein structures within mammalian flesh back down into their constituent amino acids; and then, later, these extracted amino acids must be reassembled back into the same, highly complex, intricately folded and refolded human proteins from which our body is made. This is a time-consuming, energy-intensive process, with many metabolic waste products released in the process.

For the same reason that massive mammalian herbivores like cows, for instance, eat grass — not other animals — kale can be considered anabolic, “meaty,” and worthy of being considered as a main course in any meal. The nice thing, too, is that less is needed to fulfill the body’s protein requirements.  Also, kale is so much lower on the food chain than beef, that it doesn’t bio-accumulate as many, and as much, of the toxins in our increasingly polluted environment. And this, of course, doesn’t even touch on the great “moral debate” concerning avoiding unnecessary harm to sentient beings, i.e. eating kale is morally superior than eating/killing animals.

Kale Contains Omega-3

Kale is an Omega-3 Diamond In the Rough

While it is considered a “fat free” vegetable, it does contain biologically significant quantities of essential fatty acids – you know, the one’s your body is not designed to create and must get from the things we eat or suffer dire consequences.

Kale Fatty Acid Composition

In fact, you will notice it contains more omega-3 than omega-6, which is almost unheard of in nature. It is a general rule that you will find a 40:1 or higher ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 found in most grains, seeds, nuts and beans. Peanuts, for instance, have 1,800 times higher omega-6 fat levels than omega-3, which (taken in isolation) is a pro-inflammatory and unhealthy ratio. Kale, therefore, is a superstar as far as essential fatty acids go, and especially considering that all of its naturally occurring fat-soluble antioxidants protect these fragile unsaturated fats from oxidizing.

Kale’s Vitamin Content More Pays For Itself Many Times Over

Now to the vitamins.  Kale is a king of carotenoids. Its vitamin A activity is astounding. One cup contains over 10,000 IU’s, or the equivalent of over 200% the daily value. Also, consider that most of this vitamin A (retinol) is delivered the form of beta-carotene, which in its natural form is the perfect delivery system for retinol (two retinol molecules attached to one another), as it is exceedingly difficult to get too much. If you compare it to the synthetic vitamin A used in many mass market foods and vitamins, it is an order of magnitude or higher safer.

Kale Vitamin Facts

Kale Is An Eye-Saving Super Food Rich In Vitamins

Kale has a few more surprises left in the “vitamin” department. It turns out that it is loaded with both lutein and zeaxanthin at over 26 mg combined, per serving.

Lutein comes from the Latin word luteus meaning “yellow,” and is one of the best known carotenoids in a family containing at least 600. In the human eye it is concentrated in the retina in an oval-shaped yellow spot near its center known as the macula (from Latin macula, “spot” + lutea, “yellow”). This “yellow spot” acts as a natural sunblock, which is why adequate consumption of lutein and zeaxanthin may prevent macular degeneration and other retinal diseases associated with ultraviolet light-induced oxidative stress.

Keep in mind that a 26 mg dose of lutein+zeaxanthin can easily cost a $1 per dose.

In effect, one could calculate the cost reduction of this added bonus into kale’s sticker price, which incidentally, is insultingly low considering all it has to offer. How, after all, does one price the preservation of your vision?

Next, the vitamin C content, at over 80 mg per serving, is impressive. Consider, this is not ascorbic acid (which is semi-synthetic, and divorced from the food factors that help confer its amazing vitamin activity). Food vitamin C is a rare and precious element in the modern diet that is an absolute requirement for us to maintain our health. It can be likened to condensed sunlight frozen within the plant and released into our bodies after we eat it. Those who know kale well, can feel a happy little glow form within them after consuming it. And, I imagine, if we had the proper measuring device, we might see a slight uptick in intensity of the biophotons that are continually emitted from our body.

Kale: The New "Vegetable Cow"?

Kale: The New “Vegetable Cow”?

Now, just when you thought kale was just too good to be true, there is the matter of its remarkable mineral composition. Of course, the quality and mineral and microbial density of the soil within which it is grown is a factor, but kale generally has the ability to provide an excellent source of minerals, in what is known as food-state. Unlike inorganic minerals, e.g. limestone, bone meal, oyster shell, the calcium in kale is vibrating with life-sustaining energy and intelligence. At 90 milligrams per cup, this highly bioavailable calcium actually contains more calcium per gram than whole milk! Also, a calcium bioavailability study from 1990, comparing milk and care in human subjects, found that kale calcium was 25% better absorbed, proving that the propaganda in support of milk as the ultimate source of calcium isn’t as mooo-ving as commonly believed.

Kale Mineral Composition

Just to be a bit exact about how much calcium there is in kale, for every gram of kale there is 1.35 mg of calcium. For every gram of whole milk, there is 1.13 mg. The difference, also, is that milk calcium is complexed with a sticky protein known as casein. This is why Elmer’s glue was once made of milk protein. It is exceedingly hard for one-stomached (monogastric) mammals (that’s us) to digest, and so, the calcium is difficult, if not impossible (in some) to liberate.

Also, casein proteins require a large amount of hydrochloric acid to break down with our protein-digesting pancreatic enzymes.Over time, this can lead to some metabolic acidosis which may further leach calcium from our mineral stores, e.g. bones, teeth, causing a net loss in calcium following the consumption of cow’s milk products heavy in casein, especially cheese. Kale, like most vegetables, on the other hand, are alkalinizing and therefore actually reduce the body’s requirements for acid-neutralizing minerals (e.g. calcium, magnesium, sodium, silica, potassium) and therefore reducing the total amount of calcium we need to stay in pH and mineral balance. Kale, therefore, not only contains more of the right form of calcium, but may actually reduce your daily bodily requirements for it. Move over moo juice, there’s a new “vegetable cow” on the block!

Kale is also an excellent source of magnesium, which is why it is green. That deep, dark chlorophyll within its leaves contains one atom of magnesium per molecule. And considering how many of us are dying from excess elemental calcium, adding additional sources of magnesium (which acts to balance out calcium) can have live-saving health benefits.

Finally, kale is more than just a nutritional “superfood.” It comes from a long line of plant healers, and could very well be considered and (given future FDA drug approval) used as a medicine.  Newly emergent biomedical literature now shows it may be of value in the treatment of cancer, elevated blood lipids, glaucoma, and various forms of chemical poisoning. We have made available the first-hand abstracts on our Kale Health Benefits research page, for those who, like us, enjoy geeking out to the science. Also, kale, like most Cruciferous vegetables, is exceedingly high in several other extensively research anticancer compounds, such as sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol. The data set on these are even more impressive than on kale itself, with over 140 disease states potentially remedies for sulforaphane alone: sulforaphane health benefits.

So, some of you are thinking: sure, sounds good, but who is their right mind is going to eat Kale?

Here is a great tip worth trying. Instead of eating an egg for breakfast with toast, try chopping up half a bunch of kale, a quarter of an onion, and stir fry it in a tablespoon of olive oil for a few minutes till it is tender. Make sure to add in a pinch of sea salt (I prefer Bragg’s liquid aminos), a pinch of pepper, a teaspoon of lemon or if you are like me, use Ume Plum Vinegar. Also, go to your local health food store and get dulse flakes.

Note: Dulse flakes can be found in a pepper shaker like container. Kale, like most Cruciferous vegetables, contain naturally occurring goitrogens (or unnatural ones that have accumulated in them, such as perchlorate and various agrichemicals, especially in non-organically farmed vegetables) which can block the ability of the thyroid to utilize the iodine required to produce thyroid hormones (T4, T3). Since so many folks are already completely deficient in iodine, it really can’t hurt (excepting rare cases of hyperthyroidism). Therefore it is a good practice to use it as a kale-specific antidote seasoning.

Do all this and I promise you, there is a good chance but it will taste great, and leave you feeling deeply and completely nourished!

Can Cinnamon Oil Fight This Winter’s Microbial Assault?

Can Cinnamon Oil Fight This Winter's Microbial Assault?

Prevention is the key to avoiding illness, especially this winter. You’ve heard it over and over. Get a flu shot. But this year there are some new emerging virulent microbes, causing intense sickness and fear. The new viruses or variations have no magic bullets offering escape. For instance, there are new influenza strains that were not included in this year’s flu vaccine.  

Of growing concern is the recently new morphed ‘norovirus’, which is spreading like lightening, and is extremely contagious. Hospitals are being overwhelmed with critically ill patients. Symptoms from this norovirus can be severe, leading to dehydration, and life threatening complications. The norovirus is being referred to as the ‘winter’ vomiting disease, or stomach flu, although it is not technically influenza, AKA flu. It is easier to catch the norovirus than influenza.

Unlike the influenza (flu) virus, that is spread by inhaling air droplets from coughing or sneezing, norovirus lives on surfaces for many weeks.  Imagine, everything your hand touches, can potentially carry norovirus, long after those it has infected are gone. Within hours, violent sickness can emerge.

What can you do? You already know about a good diet of green leafy vegetables, reduction of alcohol, smoking, plenty of sleep and exercise. Hand washing is still a top priority for reducing exposure. But, recently, there have been concerns over chemicals used in soaps, and sanitizers.

French researchers in 2008 showed that at concentrations of 10 percent or less, cinnamon oil (essential oil) was effective against Staphylococcus, E. coli and several antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria.Essential oils are the life blood of plants, and very powerful.

The health benefits of cinnamon oil range from stimulating the digestive to preventing viral and bacterial growth. Cinnamon oil is derived from the bark and leaves of the cinnamon plant, known botanically as cinnamonum zevlanicum. The tree produces both cinnamon bark oil and cinnamon leaf oil. While each has distinctive benefits, cinnamon is known to be high in antioxidants and has potent antibacterial properties. It should be noted that both varieties of cinnamon oil are highly potent and can be quite toxic.

Cinnamon oil may cause irritation to the skin and mucous membranes, and should be used only in diluted form, most commonly in a diffuser and not consumed internally. Consult a qualified professional before using cinnamon oil.

Antibacterial soaps and sanitizers have had their host of problems from the chemical compound triclosan. Many people are making their own sanitizers.  A formula for making a homemade sanitizer combines cinnamon bark oil, lemon oil, eucalyptus, rosemary, mixed with olive oil. Putting this on after touching surfaces might also help ward off unexpected sickness, plus it smells good.

Bypassing Surgery: Can Leafy Greens Repair Your Arteries?

We all know that leafy green vegetables are good for us, but do you know why they’re so good?  There are plenty of reasons but, when it comes to heart health, the secret may be nitrates and chlorophyll.

In a paper published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh propose that high levels of dietary nitrate might in part explain the vascular benefits of diets rich in leafy greens. 

Since the 19th century nitrates have been administered to patients with angina to dilate their arteries and increase blood flow.   

Vascular diseases (disorders of the circulatory system) can lead to heart attacks, strokes and even death.  The Pittsburgh researchers pointed out that typical treatments for these disorders, such as bypass surgery and angioplasty, actually induce vascular injury and can lead to an over-proliferation of the cells of the blood vessels in a way that limits blood flow.

According to the researchers, nitric oxide is an important molecule that helps maintain the contractility and health of vascular smooth muscle cells.  Multiple studies have linked vascular disease to a decreased level of nitric oxide and it is believed that therapies increasing the availability of nitric oxide could help protect vascular health.

Usually, nitric oxide in our bodies is synthesized from the amino acid L-arginine by an enzyme called nitric oxide synthase.  In the University of Pittsburgh research, it was found that when rats sustained blood vessel injury that synthesis was disrupted.  However, a secondary process that generates nitric acid from nitrate was activated.

The researchers found that supplementing rats with nitrate before inducing vessel injury significantly limited the extent of the damage, while a diet low in nitrate exacerbated it.

Chlorophyll’s heart health promoting properties

Chlorphyll is an essential heart health nutrient for two reasons: 1) it contains magnesium, which is used to produce energy in every cell of the body by being part of all enzymes either utilizing or synthesizing ATP, along with being an essential component in over 300 enzyme reactions in the human body. Given that the heart muscle is one of our body’s organs which demands constant energy, chlorophyll’s contribution to the body’s magnesium stores can greatly support cardiovascular health. 2) it is converted through digestion into dietary metabolites that enter into our mitochondria and allow an increased productionn of ATP and mitigation of reactive oxygen species. This process can amp up the available energy to our heart muscle. To learn more: Amazing Discovery: Plant Blood Enables Your Cells To Capture Sunlight Energy.

What kinds of greens are best for your heart?

Leafy greens and root vegetables are good sources for nitrates with beetroot, turnips, celery, spinach, lettuces, carrots and radishes generally having the highest levels. 

Besides vascular health there are many other good reasons to eat your leafy greens.  Greens have a wide range of nutritional benefits. They contain vitamins A, C, E and K as well as prodigious amounts of calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, phosphorous and zinc, not to mention the fiber, folate, chlorophyll, micronutrients and phytochemicals that protect against disease.

They also contain informational molecules such as microRNAs which research is showing may help to coordinate gene expression in a way that makes these ancestral foods essential for maintaining our health and well-being. 

Greens are also rich in cancer fighting antioxidants. Generally speaking, the darker the leaves, the more nutrient dense is the vegetable.

While iceberg lettuce, Boston bibb or even romaine all have a place at the table, it is best to make the effort to add in more of the nutrient dense dark greens.  These include serious greens like kale, bok choy, collards, Swiss chard, mustard greens, broccoli rabe, escarole and dandelion. These greens are powerful allies for your body, assisting in purifying the blood, strengthening the immune system, promoting good intestinal bacteria (probiotics) and improving circulation, liver and kidney function.

Berries are some of the best anti-cancer foods you’ll ever find

Image: Berries are some of the best anti-cancer foods you’ll ever find

If you’re constantly on the lookout for ways to reduce your cancer risk, welcome to the club. With so many different types of cancer to worry about and so few safe and effective treatments, prevention really is better than cure. Most natural foods possess anti-cancer benefits to some degree, but if you want to get the most benefits, you should head straight for the berry aisle at your grocery store or farmer’s market.

Your first clue that berries possess remarkable properties is their color. Many fruits that are deep purple, red and blue get their shade from anthocyanins. These powerful antioxidants help fight free radicals and curb the oxidative stress and inflammation at the heart of many types of cancers as well as degenerative diseases.

While they boast a lot of useful benefits, like preventing the buildup of plaque in arterial walls that can lead to heart disease, anthocyanins’ crowning achievement is their ability to prompt various types of cancer cells to kill themselves. They also have the power to interfere with tumors’ abilities to resist chemotherapy, helping make this often-ineffective treatment that much more useful.

It’s no surprise, then, that acai berries, with their incredible antioxidant content, have been shown in studies to inhibit cancer. They can be especially useful when fighting colon cancer; a study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that acai could suppress the growth and reproduction of colon cancer cells in humans by a remarkable 90 percent.

That doesn’t mean you should seek acai at the expense of other berries, however. Bilberries might not be as glamorous as other superfoods, but they are still worthwhile, especially in those who have breast or intestinal cancer cells as studies have shown they can cause cell death in these cancers. Also known as the European blueberry, they are like smaller versions of the typical blueberry and can be used in any way you would use the more familiar fruit.

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Another more obscure berry, the chokeberry, puts many other fruits to shame. According to a 2012 study in Oncology Reports, the berries were able to cause malignant brain tumor cells to die. That study looked at the combination of these berries and curcumin. While curcumin fared well when it came to inducing cell death, chokeberries were completely lethal to the cancer cells while also inhibiting the expression of genes that help cancer to spread.

Raspberries, meanwhile, offer a double-pronged approach to fighting cancer. In addition to their high anthocyanin content, they also have a high amount of ellagitannins, enabling them to limit colon cancer cells’ invasiveness and spur cell death in prostate, breast, oral and cervical cancer. Ellagic acid attacks cancer from several angles, acting not only as an antioxidant but also helping to slow cancer cell reproduction and deactivate carcinogens.

Berries’ benefits extend beyond their antioxidant abilities

The American Institute for Cancer Research points out that berries are also excellent sources of vitamin C, which has been shown to help protect against esophageal cancer. They also contain a lot of fiber, which can lower your risk of colorectal cancer.

When you consider all these benefits, combined with the fact that berries happen to be delicious, it might be tempting to get as much of them into your system as possible. Eating berries is unlikely to hurt you, unless you happen to be allergic to them. However, it’s important to keep in mind that berries contain astringent tannins, so taking high doses of very concentrated berry extracts could be damaging over time. Use common sense and talk to a naturopath if you’re concerned about striking a healthy balance.

Sources for this article include: