What in the World is Graviola?

What in the World is Graviola?

While researching herbs and supplements, have you ever come across something and asked yourself, “what in the world is that?” This series of articles will give you insight about some of the lesser-known herbs currently available on the market. From there, you can decide whether it’s a natural remedy worthy of further exploration.

Today, it’s all about Graviola!

Graviola, more commonly known as Soursop, is a fruit indigenous to northern South America and the Caribbean. Today, it can be found in Australia, Southeast Asia, and suitably moist, warm lowlands or tropical islands of continental Africa. While this fruit appears to be a blending of a pear and a cactus, eaten for its slightly tart, pineapple-like flavor, it also has other uses.

History

First encountered by European explorers in the 15th century, it was exported to the tropics. Throughout the cultures that inhabit Graviola’s favored growing regions — South American and Caribbean tropical regions — Soursop is used as a delicious food, a juice, as well as medicinally. While folk medicine is sometimes disregarded by the medical science community, it’s clear that some of these applications are effective.

Uses

The skin of the fruit and the leaves are both inedible as food products. However, they are often used in either tinctures or decoctions as remedies for head lice and other parasites. It is said that the leaves have a soporific effect, and many folk traditions employ them in bed linens and aromatic infusions not intended for consumption. Additionally, Graviola has been used as an emetic similar to ipecac, and an anti-inflammatory wash that may reduce swelling and help prevent the development of unsightly or painful scar tissue after surgery. Its uses also include a remedy for bacterial infections, though due to the volatile chemical compounds in the tree bark, skin and leaves of the fruit, extreme care should be exercised when using these remedies.

Side Effects

The potent properties that have made this plant a potential remedy for lice, bed bugs, chiggers, skin rashes, bacterial infections, wounds, abrasions, and lesions, should also engender caution. The horticultural experts at Perdue University advise that the presence of the alkaloids anonaine and anoniine, muricine, and muricinine be found in the bark of the tree, which is also high in hydrocyanic acid. An unknown alkaloid is also found in the leaves and seeds, leading to extreme caution on the part of Western medical professionals.

While the fruit graviola might be an effective remedy for skin ailments, parasitic infestations, bacterial infections, and even for insomnia, WebMD editors note that uses of other parts of graviola, beyond enjoying the flesh of the fruit, has been shown to produce side effects resembling Parkinson’s Disease in some people. In addition, the fruit may exacerbate the disease where it already exists.

Nursing mothers should not use topical treatments, as infant exposure to the alkaloids present in bark, roots and leaves can be fatal. Caution and close supervision of a medical professional is advised when using graviola for medicinal purposes.

Click here to check out iHerb’s selection of Graviola Products! New to iHerb? Use Rewards Code WOW123 to get up to $10 off your first time order.

References

Morton, J. 1987. Soursop. p. 75–80. In: Fruits of warm climates. Purdue University Horticultural Database; accessed Feb. 19, 2015

Graviola: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions and Warnings; Web MD; accessed Feb. 19, 2015

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How to Help Seasonal Allergies

How to Help Seasonal Allergies

by Rosalyn Carson-DeWitt, MD

Spring is in the air, and along with it, many different allergens that can irritate people who suffer from seasonal allergies. Allergic rhinitis is irritation and inflammation in the nasal passages after exposure to allergens.

Allergens are substances that cause an abnormal response of the immune system. The response can includes swelling of the nasal passage, runny or itchy nose, watery eyes, congestion and congestion pain, and sneezing.

An allergic reaction occurs when your body’s immune system overreacts to an allergen. When you breathe in an allergen, cells in your nasal passages release a chemical called histamine. Histamine causes your nose to feel itchy and creates swelling and mucus production in the nasal passages.

Exposure to the allergen can cause:

  • Sneezing
  • Itching in the nose, eyes, throat, and ears
  • Red, watery eyes
  • Runny nose, nasal congestion
  • Congestion with sinus pressure
  • Postnasal drip and cough
  • Headache
  • Dark circles under your eyes

Recommendations

Dust mite reduction:

  • Wash pillows and bed sheets regularly in hot water.
  • Remove carpeting, feather pillows, and upholstered furniture, especially in bedroom.
  • Keep clothes off bedroom floor.
  • Use acaricides solutions to kill dust mites.
  • Keep humidity levels < 50%.
  • Use double-bag vacuum bags and HEPA filters.

Mold exposure reduction:

  • Wear facemasks when working with soil, leaves, or compost.
  • Try to avoid moist, damp areas within the home.
  • Use a dehumidifier in places like your basement that may encourage mold growth.
  • Repair leaky roofs or pipes.

Animal allergen reduction:

  • Removal of pet from home is most efficient option. It may take 4-6 months to clear the home of pet allergens.
  • If you wish to keep pets, keep your pet out of bedroom and off of furniture.
  • Frequent vacuuming or removal of rugs

Pollen reduction:

  • Be aware of pollen levels and limit your exposure on high days:
  • Stay indoors and keep windows closed.
  • Consider using an air purifier inside
  • Do not dry clothes outside.
  • Shower once you get home. Keep clothes contaminated with pollen out of the bedroom.

General reduction techniques:

  • Use petroleum jelly on the nostrils. The jelly may catch some of the allergens before they pass into the nose.
  • Nasal filters—device inserted into the nostrils that can filter allergens before they reach the nose
  • A Neti Pot, nasal sinus rinse, or saline nasal spray may help clear irritants from the nasal passage after exposure. It may also help loosen congestion.
  • Though reducing allergens can help, it is not possible to completely eliminate all allergens. Consult your doctor to determine the best course of action for your allergic condition.

Click here to check out iHerb’s selection of products for Allergy Support! New to iHerb? Use Rewards Code WOW123 to get up to $10 off your first order!

Note: This article was encapsulated from iHerb’s Health Library on March 23, 2015 by copy editor Assia Mortensen. To read the entire article along with references and resources, please visit http://healthlibrary.epnet. com/GetContent.aspx?token= 0a1af489-5b4c-4f2d-978e- 3930be13b1f6&chunkiid=12067.

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Smart Ways to Reuse Tea Leaves

Smart Ways to Reuse Tea Leaves

Many people think of used tea leaves as garbage. However, there are many ways that tea leaves can be reused — even after they have been used to brew tea.  Both loose leaf tea and tea in bags work well, however tea leaves in bags will have to be removed before use in some cases.

Here are five ways to get the most out of your used tea leaves:

1. Have a Detox Bath

Throw a couple of used teabags full of tea leaves into your bath tonight. The antioxidants will nourish and rejuvenate your skin while the natural astringent nature of tea gently detoxifies.

2. Feed Your Plants

The nutrients in tea leaves can be used to nurture your garden. In addition, many types of tea leaves kill fungus and repel pests. Either sprinkle the brewed tea leaves into the soil or make a weak tea with a used teabag to water with.

3. Alleviate Pain and Itching from Bug Bites and Burns

The tannins in tea leaves tend to relieve pain, itching and burns. Simply place a used tea bag on bug bites or burns. If your used tea leaves are loose, you can make a compress by folding them into a paper towel and wetting it slightly.

4. Shrink Under-Eye Circles

Tea leaves are naturally astringent, which means they draw out extra fluid and toxins that accumulate in tissue. You can reduce puffiness and bags under the eyes by placing a cold, formerly brewed white or green tea bag over them for a few minutes. Avoid black tea for this usage because it can stain the skin.

5. Dispel Odors

Tea absorbs odors and freshens smells, similar to baking soda. You can place used tea bags in a bowl in the refrigerator or place loose-brewed leaves in a trash can or litter box. Neutralizing unpleasant smells is an easy way to reuse tea leaves.

Companion Article:
Nifty Ways to Reuse Coffee Grounds

Click here to check out iHerb’s selection of Teas! New to iHerb? Use Rewards Code WOW123 to get up to $10 off your first order.

References

Jaliman, Debra; Under-Eye Bag Lady Treatment; Web MD; Accessed March 10, 2015

Hudson, Kirsten; 10 Cool Ways to Reuse Brewed Tea Bags; Organic Authority; Accessed March 10, 2015

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Filed under Healthy Home and Garden, Tips Or Usage Ideas

Different Styles of Breathing During Yoga

Different Styles of Breathing During Yoga

Yoga breathing styles, or pranayama, are special methods of breathing, used while performing yoga poses. Each style of breathing has a unique benefit, but all oxygenate your cells and train your mind to be more conscious of even the most innate activities. In addition, studies have indicated that these breathing methods can create a measurable reduction in stress, anxiety and depression.

Here are three of our favorite styles of breathing that are commonly practiced during yoga; however each can be used anytime.

Sama Vritti

Equal breathing or Sama Vritti is a type of pranayama that helps with relaxation. It is especially helpful when practicing meditative and relaxing forms of yoga. In sama vritti, a person counts to four while inhaling and then again when exhaling. The goal is to inhale and exhale for equal amounts of time.

Dirga

Dirga pranayama is a very basic, but relaxing style of breathing that is good for clearing the mind and achieving deep calm. When practicing Dirga, you should be a in a basic and relaxing pose, such as sitting or lying down. Breathe in deeply so that your abdomen swells; then exhale completely until it is flat and emptied. Repeat this slowly and you may feel your muscles relax and your mind clear of worries.

Lion’s Breath

This style of pranayama is a bit more vigorous, but many believe it leaves them feeling mo re energetic and invigorated. First, kneel with both legs under your rear, and then place your palms on your knees. Then, inhale deeply through your nostrils. Open your mouth wide and stick out your tongue as far as possible, then exhale while making a ‘ha’ noise. Some practice the technique the same way, but let out a roar instead of a ‘ha’ sound. Return to a normal facial expression and then repeat several times.

Click here to check out iHerb’s selection of Sports and Fitness Products! New to iHerb? Use Rewards Code WOW123 to get up to $10 off your first order.

References

Brown, R.P & Gerbarg, P.L.; Sudarshan Kriya Yogic Breathing in the Treatment of Stress, Anxiety, and Depression; Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine; Accessed March 11, 2015

Pizer, Ann; Introduction to Pranayama Breathing Exercises; About Health; Accessed March 11, 2015

Shakeshaft, Jordan; 6 Breathing Exercises to Relax in 10 Minutes or Less; Time; Accessed March 11, 2015

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Nifty Ways to Reuse Coffee Grounds

Nifty Ways to Reuse Coffee Grounds

For many of us, brewing coffee at home is a common feature of our morning routine. It saves money and allows us to enjoy waking up in our pajamas — no lines required. However, if you’ve looked at all those coffee grounds you pitch into the garbage and wondered if there was some way to further make use of them, you’re in for a surprise. There are many ways to get a bit more joy from that coffee. Below are five applications from personal hygiene to home and garden guaranteed to trim your budget and be eco-friendly.

Compost

Angela Colley of Money Crashers advises you to make use of those grounds. If you practice vermiculture, add your used grounds to your container. They provide a healthy boost of nutrients for your soil-amending earthworm friends, who will make short work of your morning coffee remnants. Plus, they transform it into rich soil for your garden. If you keep a compost pile or container in the backyard, toss your grounds in for a pH balancing addition to next season’s garden dirt.

Face Scrub

Libby Baker, self-identified coffee addict, who writes for One Green Planet has a great recipe for a face scrub. Simply combine 4 tablespoons of your choice of oil with 6 tablespoons of coffee grounds and a few drops of your favorite scented essential oil, if you like. Be gentle when massaging into the skin, since coarse-ground coffee is highly abrasive.

Body Scrub

Cellulite is a circulatory condition and you can reinvigorate your skin with this scrub. Combine half a cup of coffee grounds with a cup of oil and a quarter cup of honey. The caffeine in the grounds helps firm and encourages skin circulation while the honey adds an extra exfoliating, conditioning impact. Use the scrub in the shower to minimize the mess.

Garbage Deodorizer

Let your used coffee grounds dry out on some newsprint, then funnel them into a pair of old pantyhose or knee-highs. Hang them inside your outdoor garbage can lid to mitigate the funk of the container. They also work in the same way baking soda does in your refrigerator, so you can place an open container of them in the back to absorb food odors.

Companion Article:
Smart Ways to Reuse Tea Leaves

Click here to check out iHerb’s selection of Coffee! New to iHerb? Use Rewards Code WOW123 to get up to $10 off your first order!

References

Baker, Libby; 5 Awesome DIY Beauty Projects You Can Mix Up With Used Coffee Grounds; Onegreenplanet; accessed March 12, 2015

Colley, Angela; 15 Ways to Reuse Coffee Grounds at Home; Moneycrashers; accessed March 12, 2015

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Filed under Healthy Home and Garden, Tips Or Usage Ideas

Five Supplements for Headaches

Five Supplements for Headaches

Did you know that supplements can be quite effective in the prevention and treatment of headaches? Read on for the scoop on the five best supplements to incorporate into your diet if you’re prone to headaches.

1. Magnesium

If you have migraine headaches, take note. This type of pain is often due to low magnesium in the body, particularly if you are a woman who experiences headaches that coincide with your menstrual cycle. Several controlled clinical studies have shown that taking a daily dose of magnesium over a period of three to four months is effective in headache prevention for many people.

2. Butterbur

This herb, which is an effective anti-inflammatory supplement, may be helpful in the prevention of migraine headaches. For best results, take it twice a day at a dosage of 75 milligrams each day if you’re prone to getting migraines.

3. Feverfew

Another herb that may be effective for migraine prevention, feverfew comes in leaves that resemble chamomile and can be taken either as a tea or in a capsule. In one clinical study, those who took feverfew regularly had a 24 percent reduction in frequency and severity of headaches, compared to the group who took a placebo.

4. Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)

Studies show that a lack of B vitamins is common among people who frequently have migraine headaches. For prevention, take about 400 milligrams of B2 a day as a separate supplement, even if you already take a multivitamin with riboflavin included.

5. Vitamin D

While most of these supplements prevent migraines and other headaches, vitamin D can actually help alleviate the pain of headaches. Take a supplement; alternatively, you can eat foods with lots of vitamin D (such as cheese, mushrooms and eggs) or spend time more in the sun.

Many unwanted symptoms that our bodies experience can be chalked up to a deficiency of certain vitamins, and your doctor can run a simple test for deficiencies. Taking supplements may help you avoid headaches and other troublesome ailments. As with any new supplement, check with a health professional before starting a new treatment regime.

Click here to check out iHerb’s selection of Headache Supplements! New to iHerb? Use Rewards Code WOW123 to get up to $10 off your first order!

References

Vitamins and Supplements Search; WebMD, accessed March 10, 2015

Supplements and Herbs for Migraines: The Evidence; The Migraine Trust; accessed March 10, 2015

Migraine Headache; University of Maryland Medical Center; accessed March 10, 2015

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Filed under Herbs and Supplements, Pain Relief

White Willow Bark for Back Pain

White Willow Bark for Back Pain

The use of white willow bark for back pain is really not a new concept. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, this remedy has been used for thousands of years and offers several benefits to users. The delayed mechanism of action makes this a great natural remedy for those who suffer from occasional or chronic back pain.

Necessary Dosage for Relief

For effective relief of pain, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, it is recommended that adults use 60-240 milligrams a day. Forms of white willow include powder, capsule, tincture and dry herb form. The dried herb form is typically used to make a tea. There are no suggested dosages for children because willow bark is generally not recommended for the pediatric population due to risk of Reyes Syndrome.

Potential Side Effects

One of the great things about willow bark is that the side effects are generally mild and similar to those of aspirin. They may include, but are not limited to, nausea or upset stomach, ulcers and sometimes stomach bleeding. These effects are not common and are typically related to overuse. Those that are allergic to aspirin should not use willow bark in any form as a reaction can occur.

Another important consideration is medication interaction. As with aspirin, white willow extract can be considered a blood thinner. Those that already take anticoagulant medications or suffer from certain health conditions should talk to their doctor before starting therapy with white willow.

Other Common Uses

Back pain is just one of the many conditions that white willow bark can treat. Research suggests that supplementation can be used to treat many illnesses that are associated with pain or the inflammation response. Herbalists have been known to medicate with this supplement to treat flu, bursitis, tendinitis, fever and even common aches and pains, such as menstrual cramps.

Click here to check out selection of White Willow Bark! New to iHerb? Use Rewards Code WOW123 to get up to $10 off your first order!

References

Ehrlich, Erin; Willow Bark; University of Maryland Medical Center; accessed June 23, 2014

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Filed under Herbs and Supplements, Pain Relief

Gluten Free Spinach Pancakes

Gluten Free Spinach Pancakes
Photo and Recipe from Lisa Lin of the Healthy Nibbles and Bits Blog

Gluten Free Spinach Pancakes

Ingredients
(makes 16 to 18 small pancakes)

Instructions

  1. In a food processor or a blender, mix together the spinach, yogurt, and almond milk until smooth.
  2. Pour the batter into a large mixing bowl, and stir in the rest of the ingredients except the cooking spray.
  3. Coat one or two pans with cooking spray and place the pan over medium-low heat. Use two pans to cook more pancakes at the same time.
  4. Pour about 2-3 tablespoons of batter onto the pan for each pancake. A ⅛ cup measuring spoon works very well for this.
  5. Cook a side for about 2-3 minutes. Once the edges of the pancakes are no longer runny, and you can slide a spatula easily underneath, they’re ready to be flipped. Cook for another 2 minutes.
  6. Enjoy them on their own or serve with some honey or maple syrup.
  7. Refrigerate any leftovers in an airtight container.

Gluten Free Spinach Pancakes
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 2-1/2 cups baby spinach
  • 1 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
  • ¾ cup unsweetened almond milk or your favorite milk
  • ¾ cup finely ground corn meal
  • ¾ cup chickpea flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. honey
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • natural cooking spray
Instructions
  1. In a food processor or a blender, mix together the spinach, yogurt, and almond milk until smooth.
  2. Pour the batter into a large mixing bowl, and stir in the rest of the ingredients except the cooking spray.
  3. Coat one or two pans with cooking spray and place the pan over medium-low heat. Use two pans to cook more pancakes at the same time.
  4. Pour about 2-3 tablespoons of batter onto the pan for each pancake. A ⅛ cup measuring spoon works very well for this.
  5. Cook a side for about 2-3 minutes. Once the edges of the pancakes are no longer runny, and you can slide a spatula easily underneath, they’re ready to be flipped. Cook for another 2 minutes.
  6. Enjoy them on their own or serve with some honey or maple syrup.
  7. Refrigerate any leftovers in an airtight container.

iHerb sells thousands of natural food items, everything from stevia to gluten free flours to much more!  Click here to take a look at our product offerings.  If  you’re new to iHerb, you can use Rewards Code WOW123 to get $10 off your first order with a minimum $40 purchase or $5 off orders less than $40.

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Filed under Celiac Disease, Recipes

10 High-Fiber Foods to Aid in Weight Loss

10 High-Fiber Foods to Aid in Weight Loss

If you’re trying to trim down this year, a large part of that ultimate goal will depend on what foods you eat. The Mayo Clinic advises that a diet rich in healthy sources of fiber goes a long way towards overall wellness, and can help you to burn excess fat you’ve stored over the years. Since there are so many options available when it comes to fresh fruits, vegetables, and other sources of fiber, here’s a brief list of ten to get you started:

Split Peas

It is the season for hearty soups and warm, delicious foods. While you might not have considered these little powerhouses of fiber before, they contain 16.3 grams of fiber per cup when cooked, and are the main ingredient for several delicious soups.

Pears

Sure, they’re sometimes difficult to gage for ripeness, but a medium pear with the skin on contains 5.5 grams of fiber. Plus, they’re a nice change from other traditional fruit bowl denizens.

Artichokes

A medium artichoke is a source of 10.3 grams of fiber. That’s no small feat, when you consider that they also add a delicious flavor may dishes, or make a great side with your favorite dipping sauce.

Raspberries

These delightful berries can be added to anything for a sweet treat. Stir them into yogurt, top your cereal or oatmeal with them; you can even add them to a green salad. One cup of raspberries, which is a nice hefty serving, contains 8 grams of fiber.

Black Beans

If you love Spanish or Creole dishes, this is an easy fix. One cup of these tiny wonders contains 15 grams of fiber.

Broccoli

Cooked broccoli, which is a delicious and healthy way to obtain many nutrients, boasts 5.1 grams of fiber per cup.

Whole Wheat Pasta

Create an ultimate dish with pasta, which contains 6.3 grams of fiber per cup.

Baked Potatoes

While relatively low on the list, when eaten with the skin, a small potato will add 3 grams of fiber to your diet.

Sunflower Kernels

Find them raw and unsalted in the grocery store for the most benefit. Just ¼ cup of these will bring you 3.9 grams of fiber, not to mention being a good source of healthy fats.

Oat Bran Muffins

While not technically a single food, these are easy to source if you’re looking for a quick snack during a busy workday. A medium muffin contains 5.2 grams of fiber. Just watch out for brands that contain more sugar and fat than you’re willing to risk.

The best advice for reducing your girth and improving your total health is to eat from a broad array of nutrient-dense foods. However, incorporating high-fiber, delicious fruits, vegetables, grains, beans and nuts into your diet is a major step in the right direction. With these and other high-fiber selections, you are giving your body high-octane fuel for life processes and efficient functioning.

Click here to check out iHerb’s selection of Fiber Products! New to iHerb? Use Rewards Code WOW123 to get up to $10 off your first order!

References

The Mayo Clinic, Healthy Living: Nutrition and Healthy Eating, In Depth High-Fiber Foods. 1998-2015. Accessed February 6, 2015.

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Filed under Fitness, Nutrition and Weight Loss, Food (Benefits, Cooking and Nutrition)

Do It Yourself Makeup Remover

Do It Yourself Makeup Remover

Chemicals are the primary ingredients used in over-the-counter cosmetic removers. Not only can they be harsh on the face, but they can also strip the skin of its natural oils. When the skin senses it needs oils, it produces more, leading to breakouts, blackheads and irritated skin. Using natural makeup remover doesn’t rid the skin of natural oils, and it doesn’t contain any harmful chemicals. It’s easy to make and has a shelf life of up to one year.

Natural makeup remover can be made with ingredients from the kitchen, originating from natural sources. Oils naturally dissolve dirt on the face while removing foundation, mascara and eyeliner in just one step. Natural oil is eco-friendly because it does not put chemicals down the drain and into our water.

Castor oil, derived naturally from the castor bean, is a great antibacterial agent and works well when combined with oil derived from olives for cleaning skin. Ratios can be experimented with, depending on the skin type. For normal skin, a ratio of one to one works very well. For oily skin, a ratio with three times the amount of castor oil than olive oil is recommended, and for dry skin, the castor oil used should be one-third less.

Users should adjust the formulation until they find the one that works best for their particular skin type. Olive oil is not only a very good makeup remover; it is beneficial for the skin. It contains heart-healthy fats, works well as a moisturizer and plumps up aging skin with its combination of vitamins E and A.

Making this natural cleanser is as easy as mixing the oils together and placing them in a sterilized glass jar with a lid. To remove makeup, start by dabbing the formula onto a cotton ball and gently swiping across eyelids to remove mascara and eyeliner. Then, rub a small amount onto the facial skin and allow it to sit for one minute. Place a warm cloth over the face for a minute and gently wipe away makeup. Usage is recommended as part of the nighttime facial cleansing routine.

Click here to check out iHerb’s selection of Bath and Beauty Products! New to iHerb? Use Rewards Code WOW123 to get up to $10 off your first order.

Reference

Lauberth, Sonnet; How to Wash your Face and Remove Makeup with Oil; Mind Body Green; Accessed May 14, 2014

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Filed under Women's Health/Beauty Info