Tag Archives: antifungal

Top 5 Spices in my Kitchen (Medicine) Cabinet

9 Mar

Spices have amazing properties. There are entire websites and books dedicated to their healing attributes. Today, I’d like to cover a few basic staples. As with all supplements, they should be taken with caution. If you take any medication check with your pharmacist about possible interactions before adding spices to your supplement regimen.

Cinnamon
Cinnamon has been getting praise as of late, in regards to its ability to assist in blood sugar management. Even the Mayo Clinic says that patients with type II diabetes can benefit from taking a cinnamon supplement. It’s said to lessen the impact of sugar on the blood.

According to German research it can also “supress completely” the bacteria that causes urinary tract infections, as well as assist in controlling the fungus candida albicans.

Cinnamon can eliminate many of the types of bacteria that cause food poisoning, and when mixed with ginger you can easily avoid stomach upset and reduce the symptoms of food poisoning.

Keep in mind that using cinnamon is not like taking a typical OTC medication. It contains compounds that thin the blood. Cinnamon also assists in metabolic function and according to Thyroid-Info.com can reduce cholesterol, as well. One great way to monitor your intake is to take it in supplement form – or if you like the controlled portion but love the flavor, pull the capsule apart and sprinkle it on food, or in a beverage. I use it on many different things – next summer try it on some watermelon! Cinnamon will also assist in cleansing the liver and detoxifying the blood.

Turmeric/Curcurmin
Turmeric is a beautiful yellow spice that will stain just about anything you get it on! Traditionally used in Indian curry dishes turmeric is now known as one of the most powerful anti-inflammatory spices in the natural supplement kingdom. In many countries it is used as a treatment for cancer, namely prostate. Some studies suggest that it may remove plaque buildup from the arteries, and the brain. It was shown to prevent the spread of breast cancer in mice, and of course more research on humans is needed.

Of all spice supplements, in my humble opinion, turmeric is king. It has also shown positive effects for arthritis sufferers. Check out this great list 20 Health Benefits of Turmeric.

A word to the wise (and not-so-wise): after dealing with a shoulder pain for several weeks, I decided to try using turmeric topically as my late-night googling suggested. I made a nice paste with some aloe vera gel, put it on, and covered it with a large gauze. The next day, it wouldn’t wash off. My skin was stained for nearly a week, and afterwards peeled like a sunburn. I do not recommend this!

Fresh Ginger Root
 If you like spices with a bite, its likely you may have forgotten about ginger. While the dry ginger in the spice aisle certainly has its place, there’s nothing like the bite of freshly grated or juiced ginger root. If you do a lot of juicing with apples, try adding an inch of ginger root. It will keep your apple juice white! (The brown color comes from oxidation.) Much like cinnamon, ginger is known in traditional medicine to help with symptoms of arthritis, thin the blood and reduce cholesterol.

Ginger is great for upset stomach, and is known to calm down stomach upsets due to some strains of food poisoning. In China ginger is used to calm a cough. There are many uses for ginger (not to mention, it’s really yummy!).

Cayenne Pepper
Of my list of staple spices to keep in the cupboard/medicine cabinet cayenne pepper is often forgotten. It’s bite is certainly as loud as its bite. One year someone brought an awful virus to the office. You know the drill, one day Mark can’t swallow and he thinks he has strep, and two days later Phil calls out. A few more days and your throat is on fire. Mark is the first to visit the doctor. He’s told he has a virus, and he should be nearly through it. The Dr. basically says “wait it out.”

Mark gets that call from a crazy relative about cayenne pepper. We’re all miserable enough to try it. Behold.. it works. Here are the most pleasant ways to take it: 1. Mix it in some tomato soup. or 2. Mix it in hot chocolate (dark is best!). You need enough to bite the pain in your throat, literally. It should sting. Sip slowly to ensure the longest amount of time spent in this “stinging” phase. Repeat 2-3 times a day, it shouldn’t take more than 1-2 days to work. While I don’t know the mechanism of this, I will say: I have not had a cold in 5 years, since I learned this trick, the moment I feel a tingle I have cayenne pepper.

While it is more pleasant in a good dark hot chocolate, monitor your sugar intake anytime you’re fighting a cold – and if you still drink that nasty sugar water that I so dearly love (my personal weakness, Dr. Pepper) remember that 1 can of soda can take your immune system down for 24 hours.

Garlic
Like the other top-5, garlic is a potent medicine. It is known to have antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties. Said to lower blood pressure and cholesterol garlic is another spice that has a list of health benefits. Much like ginger, while it’s dried variety is fine for cooking, its health properties are best found from the raw form. Because of its strong flavor, many people opt to take a it in supplement form.

Here’s a great list from my-home-remedies.com of the healing properties of garlic. As always, do some of your own research and ask a medical care professional or pharmacist before adding spices to your daily regimen. They can be quite powerful – they can also be quite wonderful!

On that note, stay warm, stay healthy – and for a delicious way to combine all 5 of my favorites, see my last post with my Butternut Squash Soup recipe. Please let me hear if you try any of my suggestions. I’d love to hear about your experience.

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Monolaurin: Mother nature’s antimicrobial (and probiotic, and prebiotic, and anti-viral, and anti-fungal!) Whew.

7 Nov

Monolaurin is a dervative of lauric acid. Lauric acid occurs naturally in mother’s milk, and some plant oils, including coconut oil. It can also be found in butter and whole cream, as well as purchased as a supplement. Monolaurin is a germicidal fatty acid. It is also said to be prebiotic – thus encouraging the healthy population of flora in the digestive system.

Monolaurin has been shown to actively combat the flu virus (among a long list of other viral infections). Monolaurin disrupts the lipid bilayer of the virus thus preventing attachment to host cells. It binds to the lipid-protein envelope of the virus and inactivates the virus. In short, it weakens the virus by breaking down its protective layer. Monolaurin was discovered when microbiologists were studying the properties of human breast milk.

In addition to combating the flu virus it’s been known to combat pneumonia, staphylococcus, fungal infections, and can assist with a weakened immune system. From HerAnswer.com “In studies performed at the Respiratory Virology Branch, Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta, Georgia, Monolaurin was found effective against 14 human RNA and DNA enveloped viruses in cell culture (3). These included influenza, RSV, Rubeola, Newcastle’s, Coronavirus, Herpes Simplex types 1 & 2, Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) and cytomegalovirus. (Monolaurin has no effect on naked viruses, such as polio, encephalitis virus, coxsachie, or pox viruses.).  Monolaurin removed all measurable infectivity by disintegrating the virus envelope. ”

There are several different brands. It can be found in pill form or pellet form. The pellets  have the texture of candle wax. They’re odd, but easy to swallow. If you start taking monolaurin be aware that you may have a “die-off” reaction. Anyone with candida overgrowth, skin conditions attributed to fungal growth, viral infections, etc. may experience a worsening of symptoms as the body rids itself of infection. It’s important to follow the instructions carefully, working your way up slowly to the full dose to avoid extreme symptoms. Also known as the Herheimer effect, the die-off reaction is often a necessary step to cleaning up, internally, depending on the abuse you’ve put your body through, and for how long!

Remember, if you’ve had sugar or junk food addictions you’ve taxed your body and your immune system. Consuming a high-sugar, high-fat diet of dead foods on a long-term basis does damage. Cleaning up your act is going to be work – but it’s fun work! Learning new ways of eating is rewarding. Once you get past the first few hurdles cravings will dissipate. They may never fully go away – but finding healthy ways to fulfill them can also be fun and challenging. Later this week I’ll talk about food cravings, and healthy whole food-based snacks.

Happy eating!

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Honey: Medicine or Sweet Poison?

18 Oct

Honey: liquid gold or just another sweet poison? Depending on the type of honey and how it’s used it could be either. There are different types, qualities, and each have different properties. Most importantly for health benefits you’ll want to use raw honey. Your specific goals will determine if, and what type of honey is best.

Undiluted raw honey has been shown to have powerful antibacterial, antimicrobial, antifungal and antioxidant properties. When undiluted raw honey is consumed it also retains the vitamin, mineral, and enzyme content naturally found in many raw foods. In addition, consuming honey on a regular basis can help to regulate blood sugar and insulin levels.

Single flower honey is truly a sensory experience and ranges from light to dark. Single flower honey is a great boost for the immune system. For help with allergies local wildflower honey is best. Among single flower honey varieties the antioxidant content can vary greatly. According to Beeway Honey a single flower buckwheat honey has nearly 20 times the antioxidants than honey produced from California Sage.

The flavor, color, texture, even acidity of honey varies. The best way to find your favorite is to do some research depending on your goals, then experiment! Personally, I love the selection at the Nashville Farmer’s Market.

When honey is heated (pasteurized) or diluted it loses its benefit as a health food and is akin to any other sugar based sweetener. Use it wisely, and in moderation. If you’re monitoring your sugar intake I suggest using honey only while undiluted.

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