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5 Feb 2014    ALGAE CALCIUM

Not only helps to prevent bone loss, but can actually help to reverse it…

 

ALGAE CALCIUM

Supplementing with AlgaeCal and Vitamin D for one year can increase your bone mineral density by 1.3%

Calcium is an essential mineral for health as it is required both for building bone density and for maintaining electrolyte balance in the body. For more information on electrolytes, please click here. There are a number of different forms of calcium available, each with different ability to be absorbed and utilized by the human body. For more information on the various calcium sources available, please click here. AlgaeCal is a proprietary bone building supplement made from an extract of a South American algae called Algas calcareas™. When this form of calcium is combined with other bone building minerals and vitamin D in the patented AlgaeCal formula, it has been shown to improve bone density over the course of one year of supplementation.

 

Normal Loss of Bone Density
Bone density peaks around the age of 20, and then begins to decline from that point onwards, throughout our lives. Research has found that depending on age and hormone status, the average female over 40 loses between 0.5% and 1% of her bone density each year, with potentially larger losses occurring after menopause (potentially around 2% yearly). In men the numbers are around half what we see in women for corresponding age groups. The measurement of bone density is used to calculate fracture risk and to diagnose osteoporosis. For more information on osteoporosis, please click here.

Boosting Bone Density
Most calcium supplements are targeted at simply helping to prevent further loss of bone density, and hope to hold the body at the current bone density level. Even with regular calcium supplementation with normal calcium sources, bone mineral density tends to decrease by 0.1% over the year. AlgaeCal goes above and beyond normal calcium supplements by actually increasing bone mineral density by an average of 1.3% over one year of supplementation when combined with 1000IU of vitamin D. For more information on vitamin D, please click here. So, AlgaeCal not only stops bone loss, but can actually help you to once again regain lost bone mass.

How does it work?
The research on this particular supplement is still quite new, so there is much that is not yet understood. It is believed that the calcium extracted from algae is more absorbable in our digestive tracts and thus more available for our body's use. Some test-tube research on bone cells soaked in different forms of calcium found that the AlgaeCal form allowed for increased cell activity and calcium absorption relative to other forms of supplemental calcium. It is thought that like many other nutrients, the plant form of calcium, coming from a "whole food" source is more absorbable than the mineral-based forms. When the plants absorb the nutrients from mineral sources, they alter them to make them more bioavailable. In addition to this increased absorbability, other bone-building vitamins and minerals have been added to boost the effect of this active calcium.

How should I take AlgaeCal?
According to the maker of this particular supplement, and going along with their research results, the recommended dose is 750mg of calcium from AlgaeCal bone health supplement daily combined with 1000IU of vitamin D. That was the dose that created a 1.3% increase in bone density over the course of one year. Be sure to dose according to the calcium content of the supplement, and not its total weight. Many AlgaeCal supplements will already contain vitamin D to ensure benefits to bone health. If it does not, be sure to get at least 1,000IU of vitamin D as well. In general it is a good idea to take calcium supplements away from food to avoid blocking absorption.

AlgaeCal – QUICK FACTS

FOOD SOURCES

· Algas calcareas (South American algae).

DEFICIENCY SYMPTOMS

·  Improved bone density.

OPTIMUM DOSAGE

·  750mg of AlgaeCal calcium daily with 1000IU vit D. (Clinical doses may differ as recommended by your practitioner).

WORKS WELL WITH

· Magnesium, vitamin D, strontium.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

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· Calcium can interfere with the effects of calcium channel blocking heart medications, tetracycline, thyroid hormone, some anticonvulsants and steroids. Calcium is depleted by the use of Phenobarbital and diuretics. Avoid eating foods high in oxalic acid while supplementing with calcium.

· Little is known about any additional side effects of AlgaeCal and the long term effects are not yet established.

For informational purposes only.  Please consult your health care practitioner before taking natural health care products. Click here for full disclaimer.
 
5 Feb 2014    ALFALFA

 Alfalfa can be used to help bruising, excess bleeding, body odour and more ...

 

ALFALFA

Alfalfa is a rich source of trace minerals.

Alfalfa is root that can grow over 100feet into the earth.  Its deep roots allow it to concentrate many different types of vitamins and minerals from the soil.  It is used medicinally as general tonic or, supporter of the body, due to its reputation as a good balanced source of vitamins and minerals.

 

It has been shown to be of help for arthritis sufferers.  Ground alfalfa has been studied for its effect on cholesterol.

It has been shown to decrease cholesterol by inhibiting intestinal resorption and to reduce atherosclerotic build-up in arteries.  Alfalfa contains a significant amount of vitamin K and other chemicals that thin the blood.    The isoflavones in alfalfa are similar to those that are found in soy and red clover.  These substances have proven useful in the treatment of menopause and menstrual discomforts.  The chlorophyll, green pigment, in alfalfa aids the healing of intestinal ulcers, hemorrhoids, bleeding gums, burns and infections.  Chlorophyll induces detoxification of the body and decreases halitosis and body odour.

Alfalfa can be used as a raw sprouts, seeds, dried herb or liquid extract.  The raw herb can be found as a powder or compressed into tablets.  Fresh alfalfa should be well washed and checked for molds before being consumed.  The liquid extract contains a significant amount of chlorophyll.

The use of alfalfa is contraindicated for those with lupus.  There are possible interactions between alfalfa and blood thinners, hormone replacement therapy and oral contraceptives.  Alfalfa tea has been historically used as a nutritious tonic in pregnancy but one should exercise caution because of the hormonal properties of alfalfa. 
 

Alfalfa– QUICK FACTS

PARTS USED

·  Flowers, petals, leaves, sprouted seeds.

APPLICATIONS

·  Easy bruising, excess bleeding, menstrual and menopausal complaints, anemia, halitosis, body odour.

OPTIMUM DOSAGE

·  15-30g of dried herb daily or 15-30mL liquid extract daily. (Clinical doses may be higher as recommended by your practitioner).

WORKS WELL WITH

·  Other detoxification supplements.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

·  Those on blood thinners should use alfalfa-containing substances cautiously.

·  Toxicity of alfalfa is very rare but may include diarrhea, stomach upset and sun sensitivity.

For informational purposes only.  Please consult your health care practitioner before taking natural health care products. Click here for full disclaimer.

 

 
5 Feb 2014    ALARIA

 Delicious in miso soup, and an excellent support for the thyroid ...

 

ALARIA

Alaria is a great source of fibre and bioavailable iron.

 

A certain subgroup of brown algae (Phaeophyceae) is known as the seaweed called Alaria. It is eaten around the world in both the West and the East as a rich dietary nutritional supplement, although it is most popular in the British Isles. This seaweed is closely related to wakame. Alaria is a rich source of a number of different vitamins and nutrients. It is approximately 45% fibre by weight, which provides it with a number of health benefits such as lowering cholesterol and helping to normalize blood sugar.

Alaria is also a rich source of calcium, magnesium, potassium, iodine, and it is also an extremely rich source of bioavailable iron. This can help to enrich the diets of those who are anemic or simply low in iron stores.

Iodine & Alaria
Because of depletion of iodine in the soil, it has become extremely difficult to get sufficient amounts from diet alone. In order to counter this problem, staple foods like table salt are enriched with iodine to help cover the gap. In the case of iodized salt, it is the inorganic form of iodine that is added. Natural, organic sources, such as those derived from alaria are much more absorbable and easier for the thyroid gland to use than the inorganic (mined) sources found in enriched foods. 


Hypothyroidism
Some cases of hypothyroidism can be attributed to lack of iodine, and this causes a swollen thyroid (goiter). When there is insufficient iodine available to the thyroid gland, it is not able to produce sufficient thyroid hormone. Thus, it cannot properly regulate the body's metabolism, a condition known as hypothyroidism. Hypothyroid individuals experience many symptoms due to a lack of thyroid hormone including: fatigue, weight gain, hair loss, constipation, and frequent colds and flus.

How can I get more alaria?
Alaria can be found dried or fresh in a number of supermarkets. It can also be found in powder or tablet form. Iodine in supplement form is usually derived from natural seaweed sources and is available in liquid, capsule, or tablet forms. The standardized types of these supplements contain a higher level of iodine and a consistent amount in each tablet – usually about 150mcg (0.15mg). This is the preferred form for clinical use in low thyroid conditions, while the un-standardized alaria is suitable for people in need of a daily supplement for health maintenance. Often this is most easily achieved by simply incorporating either raw or dried alaria into your diet in soup or salad.

Alaria – QUICK FACTS

SOURCES

·  Wild harvested from the ocean.

APPLICATIONS

·  Hypothyroidism, hair loss, constipation, poor mineral status, anemia, high cholesterol, weight loss.

OPTIMUM DOSAGE

·  Can safely be eaten as a food. As an iodine supplement, as recommended on product label. (Clinical doses may be higher as recommended by your practitioner).

WORKS WELL WITH

·  Other seaweed supplements.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

 

 

· Alaria contains iodine and should be used with caution by individuals with thyroid conditions.

· Like all sea extracts - depending on its source location, alaria may contain heavy metals. Be sure to use trusted sources only.

·  Do not use alaria if you have an allergy to seafood, as an allergic reaction can occur.

·  Alaria should not be used in cases of cardiac problems, sodium retention, or during pregnancy and lactation.

For informational purposes only.  Please consult your health care practitioner before taking natural health care products. Click here for full disclaimer.
 
5 Feb 2014    ALANINE

 Alanine contributes to the recovery of low immune function, kidney stone, hypoglycemia and pulled muscles ... 

 

ALANINE

Alanine can help you with muscle recovery

Alanine is a called non-essential amino acid, because it is a component of protein that can be manufactured by the body from other amino acids.  Just because it is non-essential does not mean that the body cannot benefit from its supplementation.

 

Alanine helps nitrogen, a byproduct of cellular metabolism, get out of tissue and back to the liver for processing.  It also helps muscle cells release toxins that buildup after aerobic exercise.

Alanine regulates blood sugar by positively affecting sugar metabolism.  Studies show that oral alanine is more effective than a bedtime snack for preventing nighttime hypoglycemia in diabetics.  Finally, a form of alanine, beta-alanine, is a part of two nutrients that increase energy, vitamin B5 and coenzyme A.

Alanine can be supplemented for the following conditions: low immune function, kidney stones, hypoglycemia and muscle recovery.

The biologically active forms of alanine are L-alanine and beta-alanine.  They are found in capsules.  L- alanine is more commonly used.  Beta-alanine is used for energy production because it is a precursor to vitamin B5 and coenzyme A.  Take amino acid supplements at least 1/2 hour before or after a meal to maximize their absorption.  If you take an individual amino acid supplement for longer than one month, add an amino acid complex to the protocol to prevent the deficiency of other amino acids.

High alanine intake can cause low levels of phenylalanine and tyrosine.  Individuals with diabetes, hypoglycemia and those who use insulin or oral hypoglycemics should use alanine with caution.  Alanine can decrease your need for blood sugar stabilizing medication.

Alanine– QUICK FACTS

SOURCES

·  Meat, dairy, legumes, soy.

APPLICATIONS

·  Low immune function, kidney stones, hypoglycemia, muscle recovery.

OPTIMUM DOSAGE

· No standard dosing. (Clinical doses may be higher as recommended by your practitioner).

WORKS WELL WITH

·  Vitamin B complex, coenzyme A, chromium, fiber.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

·  High alanine intake can cause low levels of phenylalanine and tyrosine.

·  Individuals with diabetes, hypoglycemia and those who use insulin or oral hypoglycemics should use alanine with caution.  

For informational purposes only.  Please consult your health care practitioner before taking natural health care products. Click here for full disclaimer.
 
5 Feb 2014    ALA (Alpha Linolenic Acid)

Ala helps control dry hair and skin, eczema, male infertility, high cholesterol, hypertension and constipation ...

 

ALA (alpha linolenic acid)

Walnuts are a source of Alpha Linoleic Acid

 

Alpha-linolenic acid is an omega 3 essential fatty acid.  “Essential” means that the body does not produce the fatty acids on its own and therefore they must be taken in through the diet.  Most North American and Western diets are very low in Omega-3 and extremely high in Omega-6.

Too many saturated fats are consumed and the ratio of ingested EFA's averages more like 20:1 Omega-6's to Omega-3's instead of the recommended 4:1.  ALA is found in vegetable oils like canola, flaxseed, soybean and walnut.

ALA helps maintain cholesterol levels because healthy fats build HDL cholesterol.  HDL cholesterol is responsible for moving fat, from storage or plaques, into the liver where processing and excretion of fat occurs.  By decreasing fatty buildup on arteries it helps to regulate blood pressure.  It also provides valuable support for immune system function because many immune cells use omega 3 fats in their cell membrane.  Having a properly functioning membrane allows the cells to do things like release packets of chemicals when they come in contact with foreign invaders.  Since healthy fats play a large role in hormone formation, ALA can thus help optimize hormone levels and strengthen male fertility.

Ensure your ALA supplement is not processed with heat because it damages the acids and creates free radicals.  Some of the damaged fats turn into trans-fatty acids, which are well known for their promotion of cardiovascular disease.  Refrigerate all liquid ALA supplements and keep capsules away from heat because they can become rancid.  Using liquid ALA, in the form of flaxseed oil is much more cost effective than capsules because numerous capsules must be taken to make an equivalent amount of liquid oil.  Ground flaxseeds also contain some EFAs along with fiber.  Golden flaxseed contains more ALA than the same amount of brown flaxseed.

ALA – QUICK FACTS

FOOD SOURCES

·  Flaxseed, canola, soybean, walnut.

DEFICIENCY SYMPTOMS

· Dry hair and skin, eczema, male infertility, high cholesterol, hypertension, constipation. 

OPTIMUM DOSAGE

·  1-3 tbsp daily or 3 – 9 capsules daily.  (Clinical doses may be higher as recommended by your practitioner).

WORKS WELL WITH

·  Other essential fatty acids, vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin K.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

 

·  Fatty acids are best absorbed with a fatty meal.

·  Those with an inability to absorb fats should take an enzyme complex to facilitate the intake of EFAs.

·  Use caution when taking EFAs while using blood thinning medication.

For informational purposes only.  Please consult your health care practitioner before taking natural health care products. Click here for full disclaimer.
 
5 Feb 2014    AHCC

 
AHCC can boost your immune system into recognizing and eliminating cancer cells … 

 

AHCC

AHCC has been shown to help improve cancer outcomes with and without conventional treatment.

 

The acronym AHCC stands for Active Hexose Correlated Compound, which is a registered trademark of Amino Up Co. Ltd.  It is an extract of the root threads of shiitake (Letinula edodes) and other mushrooms fermented in rice bran.  For more information on shiitake, please see our Mushrooms article.

Immune Benefits

AHCC has been found to benefit the innate immune response.  Innate immune cells are those that do not require a previous exposure to a pathogen in order to respond.  These are cells such as natural killer (NK) cells, macrophages, monocytes, neutrophils, and mast cells.

Research has found that AHCC significantly increases natural killer (NK) cell activity in cancer patients.  These NK cells are the immune cells responsible for directly attacking abnormal and virally infected cells in the body, thus helping to fight cancer and viral infections.  In the same way, AHCC may be able to boost the immune response and actually prevent infections – particularly those caused by viruses.  Some initial research has shown potential protection provided against the influenza (flu) and West Nile viruses, by a boosting of the innate immune response.

Anti-Cancer
Interestingly, in addition to innate immune benefits, AHCC has also been shown to boost killer T cells and certain cytokines that promote a beneficial adaptive immune response in cancer patients as well.  It has also been shown to improve survival outcomes when supplemented by certain types of cancer patients, particularly those with liver cancer.  In fact, AHCC is widely used in Japan and China for cancer patients, particularly to protect the immune system of those undergoing chemotherapy.  It has been found to improve the quality of life of cancer patients undergoing conventional treatments as well as helping to directly treat cancer itself.  Thus, AHCC is frequently recommended by natural healthcare practitioners for cancer patients in general to help improve survival outcomes.

Diabetes
Some research has shown the diabetic patients can also benefit from supplementation of AHCC.  It has been found to reduce blood sugar levels and help to promote blood sugar stabilization, which results in lower hemoglobin A1c levels (HbA1c).  Further research is required in this area.

How can I get AHCC?

This supplement can be found alone in tincture and powdered form, and there are a number of mushroom blends that contain AHCC.  The recommended dose of AHCC has not yet been well established and recommended dosages range from 500mg to 3g daily, with lower doses being used for maintenance, while higher doses are used for more aggressive therapy.

AHCC– QUICK FACTS

PARTS USED

·  Root threads of shiitake (Letinula edodes) and other mushrooms

APPLICATIONS

·  Immune deficiency, cancer, diabetes.

OPTIMUM DOSAGE

 

·  Dose is flexible: 500mg – 3g daily.  Lower doses are used for maintenance, while higher doses are used for more aggressive therapy.  (Clinical doses my differ as recommended by your healthcare practitioner).

WORKS WELL WITH

· Other mushrooms, chemotherapy, other immune boosters.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

 

· AHCC is generally regarded as safe, and a toxic dose has not yet been found.

All articles copyright of National Nutrition 2001-2012. For informational purposes only.  Please consult your health care practitioner before taking natural health care products. Click here for full disclaimer.
 
5 Feb 2014    AGAR

 

AGAR

Agar is a great vegetarian alternative to gelatin.

Agar is a firm gel made from one of a number of agarophyte ("agar producing") red algae, such as Gelidium amansii. This substance has been used as a food gelling agent throughout history in Asia, particularly in desserts. Because of this it is often currently used as a vegetarian substitute for gelatin in a number of different foods and supplements. Also in more recent times, agar has been used as a solid medium upon which bacteria and fungi are

Digestion
This gel extract is approximately 80% fibre, much of which consists of a pectin, so it can help to regulate intestinal function and thus help to treat both diarrhea and constipation. For more information on the benefits of pectin fibre,please click here.

Food Additive
Because of its similarity to gelatin, agar is often used as a thickening agent for foods. Gelatin is made from extracts from the bones of animals. Agar is sourced from red algae and thus can easily be used to replace gelatin as a vegetarian thickening agent in foods and supplements.

Weight Loss
There are a number of fad diets in Asia, in which agar is eaten before a meal with water. This causes it to triple in size, leading to an earlier sensation of fullness with the meal, thus aiding in weight loss. Because of its use as a fibre, it can also help to moderate the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, helping to regulate blood sugar levels, and can bind to excess cholesterol in the gut. For more information on these benefits of fibre, please click here.

How can I get agar?
Agar can be found in combination products for digestive health, and in a number of vegetarian and Asian food options. It can also be found alone in powdered form, so it can be supplemented directly or used in the preparation of foods like jellies and desserts. There is no established dose of agar, but the dietary fibre requirements are between 25 and 38g per day. Agar can help to cover any gaps in your diet, as you require. It can be taken before or with a meal to help slow sugar absorption and to increase the sensation of fullness. Doses used for this are generally between 2 and 5g per dose with meals.

Agar – QUICK FACTS

SOURCES

·  Red algae such as Gelidium amansi.

APPLICATIONS

·  Digestion, constipation, blood sugar regulation, detoxification, and weight loss.

OPTIMUM DOSAGE

·  No established dose, although 2 - 5 gram doses with meals is often used for weight loss. (Clinical doses may be higher as recommended by your practitioner).

WORKS WELL WITH

·  Other forms of soluble fibre, bentonite clay.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

 

· Do not take fibre supplements with any medication as it can bind and prevent proper absorption.

·  Be sure to drink sufficient water (at least 1 – 2 cups) when you are taking any fibre supplement, in order to prevent constipation.

For informational purposes only.  Please consult your health care practitioner before taking natural health care products. Click here for full disclaimer.
grown for microbiological laboratory work.

 

 

 
5 Feb 2014    ADRENAL GLANDULAR

 The adrenal gland is responsible for your ability to deal with STRESS...

 

 

Adrenal Glandular

Having memory problems is only one common sign of low adrenal function.  

What is it?
The adrenal glands are small, crescent-shaped glands that rest on the top of each kidney. They each have an outer layer called the cortex, which produces sex hormones, regulates water balance and blood pressure, and releases the hormone cortisol, which is responsible for our ability to manage long-term stress. The medulla (inner core) produces the sudden-stress response hormones called adrenaline (epinephrine) and noradrenaline (norepinephrine). Thus, the adrenal glands play a role in our fertility, hormonal balance, water balance (bloating), and particularly with our ability to handle stress. These are the glands that take the hardest hit when we are chronically stressed.

 

Adrenal Insufficiency / Adrenal Fatigue
Frank adrenal insufficiency is uncommon, and can lead to a severe medical condition (adrenal crisis) that is deadly if left untreated. Adrenal fatigue, on the other hand, is a general term used to describe the condition caused by chronic stress and poor lifestyle choices that deplete adrenal reserves. Some examples of this poor lifestyle are: poor diet, excessive caffeine intake, and abuse of drugs or alcohol. Symptoms of low adrenal function are often generally regarded as signs of being "stressed out" such as: lethargy, dizziness, headaches, memory problems, food cravings, blood sugar imbalances, and increased infections. As the dysfunction becomes more severe, fainting, diarrhea, depression, moodiness, feeling cold, discolouration of the skin, swelling and loss of body hair can occur.

How is adrenal fatigue treated?
When the adrenal glands completely fail, medical treatment is required to replace missing hormones to prevent shock and death. When adrenal function is simply sub-optimal, many different means of treatment exist. First and foremost, a healthy diet and lifestyle, including reducing life stressors can do wonders for adrenal health. For more information on how to avoid adrenal insufficiency, please see our adrenal gland support article. Unfortunately, the current pace of life doesn't always allow for us to live the healthy lifestyle we would like, and sometimes our adrenal glands may need a little help for a particularly stressful period of time. Often this is where adrenal glandular extracts will come into play.

Adrenal Glandular Extracts
Like most glandular extracts, adrenal glandular is often from either bovine (cow), or porcine (pig) sources. These extracts contain all of the nutritional fundamentals, cofactors, and hormones present in the organ. This can be considered a complete nutritional supplement for adrenal gland support. Because of its high concentration of hormones, it is not recommended that adrenal glandular be used for extended periods of time, but instead that it be used acutely to boost the adrenal glands in times of great stress.

Co-Supplementation
Other adrenal support products include: vitamin C, B-complex, L-tyrosine, and herbs such as licorice and Siberian ginseng. For more information please see the adrenal gland support article.

How do I take Adrenal Glandular?
Adrenal glandular can be found alone or in combination formulas with other nutrients and herbs that support healthy adrenal functioning. Because there is a lack of research and standardization, each adrenal glandular extract may be a different concentration and should be taken according to the suggested dosing on the label of that product.

Important Information
Adrenal glandular is very potent and should not be used for extended periods of time unless recommended by your healthcare practitioner. Long-term adrenal support should involve diet and lifestyle changes as well as stress-reduction exercises. Side effects of adrenal glandular may include: extreme fatigue, palpitations, blood pressure fluctuations, and anxiety. Discontinue use immediately if side effects occur.
 

Adrenal Glandular - QUICK FACTS

SOURCES

· Animal adrenal gland (bovine, porcine or ovine)

DEFICIENCY SYMPTOMS

· Lethargy, dizziness, headaches, memory problems, food cravings, blood sugar imbalances, and increased infections. More severe cases include: fainting, diarrhea, depression, moodiness, feeling cold, discolouration of the skin, swelling and loss of body hair.

WORKS WELL WITH

· Vitamin C, B-complex, L-tyrosine, and herbs such as Licorice and Siberian ginseng.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

 

· For periods of high-stress only, and should not be used for extended periods of time unless recommended by your healthcare practitioner. Side effects of extended usage: extreme fatigue, palpitations, blood pressure fluctuations, and anxiety. Discontinue use if side effects occur.

For informational purposes only.  Please consult your health care practitioner before taking natural health care products. Click here for full disclaimer.
 
5 Feb 2014    ADAPTOGENS

Adaptogens are substances that help us deal with physical and mental stress while regulating our hormones and our immune system ...

 

ADAPTOGENS

Adaptogens can be viewed as the yin yang symbol, it's all about balance.

What are they?
Adaptogens are a wide variety of plants that can have a number of beneficial effects on the body. The term originates from herbalists who used it to describe plants that support the body, as an adrenal and nervous system tonic, and that help us deal with times of mental, physical and emotional stress. Other names for adaptogens are: rejuvenating herbs, Qi tonics (traditional Chinese medicine), rasayanas (Ayurvedic medicine), or restoratives.

 

Some non-herbal nutrients are also loosely referred to as "adaptogens" for their similar and complementary effects. Some examples are vitamin B5, and adrenal glandular extracts.

In addition to helping us cope with stress, adaptogens also help to regulate and protect the immune system, by boosting lowered immune resistance and reducing excessive or inappropriate immune responses such as those that occur in autoimmune disease. Certain adaptogens can also function to regulate hormone levels, and can be used to help treat conditions such as PMS, low libido, and sexual dysfunction. Most commonly, adaptogens are used to boost energy levels and help maintain mental and physical stamina in times of increased stress. For more information on adrenal support, please see our adrenal gland support article.

Adaptogens and the Adrenal Glands
By definition all adaptogens affect the adrenal glands, which are small pyramid-shaped glands located on top of each of our kidneys. They are responsible for producing a number of different hormones in the body. The inner core of the adrenal gland is called the medulla, and is responsible for producing epinephrine and norepinephrine (adrenaline and noradrenaline) which are the hormones responsible for our response to immediate stressors, and result in our "fight, flight or freeze" responses. The outer layer, called the cortex, has three different sub-layers that release steroid hormones such as: aldosterone, cortisol and sex hormones. The hormone cortisol is responsible for our body's ability to adapt to chronic stressors, which are those stressors that continue past the effects of the immediate (adrenaline) stress response. Although in our evolutionary history it was likely more important to have the immediate adrenaline response to protect us during brief attacks by animals or other humans, it is chronic stress that is prevalent in most of our lives today. After prolongued chronic stress, our adrenal glands' ability to sustain the release of cortisol may diminish. At the same time, this drain on resources can also affect the gland's ability to produce its other steroid hormones, such as aldosterone, which regulates blood pressure, and sex hormones. The sex hormones produced by the adrenal glands are those that complement the hormones released by our gonads (ovaries or testes). When adrenal sex hormone synthesis is affected, a wide variety of symptoms can occur, ranging from impotence and disinterest in sex, through to PMS, acne, and fertility issues (amongst many others). Adaptogens can help to nourish the adrenal glands and to provide cofactors and precursors necessary to continue the release of these hormones.

Hormonal Effects (Stress and Sex)
In addition to supporting the adrenal gland in the endogenous synthesis of hormones, many adaptogenic herbs contain active constituents that resemble hormones present in the human body. Some constituents resemble cortisol, the major long-term stress hormone in our body, allowing them to support our own depleted responses to long-term stress. Other constituents resemble sex hormones, and can help to balance the effects of hormonal dysregulation. Non-herbal adaptogens may contain components like these, or may simply act as a cofactor in important chemical reactions in the body.

Energy Boosting Effects
Adaptogens improve energy by regulating the cellular activities that produce and utilize energy molecules in our bodies. They help to improve liver detoxification pathways, thus allowing us to handle a higher load of toxic insult, and also support the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands release a number of different hormones that affect our energy levels, attention span, and our ability to cope with stress. Helping to regulate the function of the adrenal gland can help to normalize (often by increasing) energy levels without having the extreme swings in energy that occur with the use of caffeine or other stimulants. This also avoids the anxiety and shakiness that can occur with overuse of many commonly used stimulants.

Antioxidant Abilities
The powerful antioxidant capabilities possessed by many adaptogens help to protect the body against free radical damage. Free radicals are unstable molecules with an unpaired electron that are extremely reactive and damage surrounding cell membranes, fats, and fat-soluble vitamins and nutrients. We encounter free radicals through environmental exposures, such as cigarette smoke, air pollution, and ultraviolet radiation from the sun (UV rays). In this way, adaptogens increase our resistance to, and protect our bodies against, a large number of physical stressors.

Immune Boosters
Adaptogens also strengthen the immune system, and protect it against stress-related depletion. Research has shown that this isn't a mindless boosting of the immune system, but rather a modulation effect. If current immunity is low, adaptogens will help to boost the immune response and will be beneficial in preventing infection and illness. On the other hand, if immunity is currently excessively active, as in the case of autoimmune disease, adaptogens can help to reduce the immune response and regulate it to aim at appropriate targets.

Yin and Yang
Traditional Chinese Medicine acknowledges that there is a delicate balance in the entire universe and everything in it between two forces known as yin and yang. Yin represents females, rest and regeneration while yang represents males, action and energy. The same universal balance exists within each of our bodies that can be disturbed by excess or deficiency on either side (yin or yang), resulting in illness. Each herb can be classified as yin or yang by its properties and actions. It is generally considered beneficial to complement your current nature or the nature of your condition or illness with a medicine that contains the opposite properties, thus restoring balance to the system. Although yang is generally associated with males and yin with females, characteristics of each can be found within both sexes. This is best represented by the popular yin-yang symbol where yin (black) and yang (white) swirl around each other, and yet each contains a piece (small circle) of the other. Yang type people and are warm-blooded, they rarely feel cold and often overheat. They are active (fidgety), thin and wirey. Yin type people are cooler, and tend to feel chilly. They are more calm and even-tempered and tend to be larger, thicker-built people. Illnesses can also be classified as yin or yang depending on their symptoms. For more information see: "Herbal Properties in Illness" below.

Cooling vs. Warming
Another means of viewing the properties of herbs is traditional to most societies on Earth with roots in Indian, Chinese, American (North and South), and European cultures. This categorizes the herbs on a sliding scale between cooling and warming. Some obvious examples familiar to most are mint as a cooling herb and cayenne pepper as warming. This is important information for treatment, based on the inherent nature of the condition for which each particular herb is being used. For example, warming herbs are better used for cold, stagnant conditions such as a head cold with stuffiness and chills. On the other hand, cooling herbs are better used for hot conditions such as excessive fevers, and anxiety. The requirement for heating or cooling may also be determined by the seasons for those in climates where the weather changes with the seasons. Warming herbs are better used in the winter, and cooling herbs in the summer.

Herbal Properties in Illness
There are large differences between the natures of each of the adaptogenic herbs. Some are stimulatory and some are nourishing, some are warming and some are cooling, and some are yin and some yang. Although in general the concepts of yin, cooling, and nourishing go together and yang, warming and stimulatory also correspond, the particular nature of each herb can actually vary and result in very different treatment profiles. This fact is important to keep in mind when selecting the herb you wish to use. The same principles of yin/yang or hot/cold apply to illnesses as to the herbs. Yang/hot illness tends to include heat, redness, and eruptions such as rashes and sores. Yin/cold illness tends to show chilliness, pale skin, swelling, and slowing of bodily functions. Using an herb with properties that are directly opposite those of the illness can further speed recovery. The underlying nature of the person being treated and the season of treatment all come under consideration when an appropriate herbal selection is made. Although simple conditions can be treated with a basic knowledge of the herbs, it is generally a good idea to consult with an experienced physician or herbalist before attempting to treat more extensive conditions, particularly with patients depleted by chronic or more severe diseases.

Exampes of Adaptogens
The following is a list of some examples of popular adaptogens, although this is not an exhaustive list. You can click on any of the highlighted names below for more information on each particular herb.

• Adrenal glandular extract
• Astragalus
• Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)
• Chaga
• Licorice
• Rhodiola
• Schisandra

Ginsengs
• Chinese ginseng
• North American ginseng
• Korean ginseng
• Brazilian ginseng (Suma)
• Siberian ginseng (Eleuthero)
• Indian ginseng (Ashwagandha)
• Peruvian ginseng (Maca)

How can I take adaptogens?
Each adaptogen is often supplemented in powder or capsule form and they can often be found in combination formulas for immune support, energy boosting, athletic performance, antioxidants and hormonal regulation. Dosing of each herb can be found by clicking on the links above.

Important Information
Adaptogens can have various hormonal effects and use should be cautioned in those with hormone sensitive conditions and cancers. Some adaptogens can only be taken for certain lengths of time in order to avoid exhaustion. Many adaptogens have not been sufficiently studied for their use in pregnancy or lactation. Please see specific pages for details by clicking the links above

Adaptogens – QUICK FACTS

PARTS USED

· Roots generally, although some use leaf, flower, stem or seeds.

APPLICATIONS

·  Low energy, increased athletic performance, stress, low immune function, immune dysregulation, oxidative stress, hormonal dysregulation. Other applications may occur, but are specific to each type of adaptogen.

OPTIMUM DOSAGE

· For information on dosing of each adaptogen, please click the corresponding link above.

WORKS WELL WITH

·  Bee pollen, adrenal glandular, vitamin B complex (particularly B5), other adaptogens, vitamin C.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

 

· Adaptogens can have various hormonal effects and use should be cautioned in those with hormone sensitive conditions and cancers.

·  Many adaptogens should be avoided during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Some adaptogens can only be taken for certain lengths of time to prevent exhaustion.

For informational purposes only.  Please consult your health care practitioner before taking natural health care products. Click here for full disclaimer.
 
5 Feb 2014    ACAI BERRY: A SUPER FRUIT ANTIOXIDANT

Acai berry: a superfruit and antioxidant powerhouse... 

What is it?
Acai (pronounced "AH-sigh-EE") is a specHow is it used?
In South America, acai is used as a dessert ingredient and as juice and liqueur flavouring. In the general consumer market, acai is sold as frozen pulp, juice, and in various products from beverages and foods, to cosmetics and supplements. Although initially touted as a weight loss aid, recent research has debunked that myth. Now it is generally toted as a superfruit because of its extremely rich antioxidant content and high levels of omega fats.

Antioxidant Ability
Antioxidants have the ability to neutralize free radicals in the body. Free radicals are reactive substances that damage nutrients and body tissues. We are exposed to free radicals in air pollution, UV rays, cigarette smoke, and even as byproducts of our own metabolism. Free radical damage results in cancer, cardiovascular disease, and the visible signs of aging. Due to its recent fame, the antioxidant ability of acai was thoroughly tested and found to be extremely high. This is the reason it has been touted to have anti-aging effects. Also, the antioxidants found in acai have been shown to be easily absorbed by our bodies, such that even low doses can have beneficial effects. Some studies show that acai fruit pulp has a very high antioxidant capacity with even more antioxidant content than cranberry, raspberry, blackberry, strawberry, or blueberry. Studies are ongoing though, and the jury is still out.
 ies of palm tree in Central and South America whose fruit has become renowned for its nutritive and medicinal properties. After an appearance on the Oprah Winfrey show by Dr. Nicholas Perricone touting acai as a "Superfood for Age-Defying Beauty", and acai weight loss pills being promoted by Rachel Ray on her show, acai was rocketed into the spotlight in North America

acai Weightloss Hype
Although acai has had celebrity endorsement and a lot of media hype, and despite a relatively large number of scientific studies, there is no scientific evidence that acai consumption affects body weight, or promotes weight loss. The only benefits that can be attributed to acai in this context is the high nutrient and antioxidant content which can help enrich a calorie restricted diet.

Why are acai berries used in beauty products?
Some cosmetics and beauty products contain acai oil in the ingredient list. That's because acai oil is a powerhouse of antioxidants that can help reduce free radical skin damage. Studies show that acai oil may be a safe alternative to other tropical oils used in beauty products such as facial and body creams, anti-aging skin therapies, shampoos and conditioners. It may also have a longer shelf life, because even when acai oil is processed and stored long-term, the antioxidant levels remain high.

How do I take it?
acai berries can be found as frozen pulp or juice in various commercial beverages. In supplements, acai can be found in powder or capsules as well as in many antioxidant and weight loss formulas. The juice itself is very high in antioxidants, and can be safely consumed in quantities of up to 2 cups a day. With powdered acai, although processing results in the loss of some antioxidants, it allows for further concentration of the acai, resulting in an overall more concentrated antioxidant. Recent research has shown that not all acai supplements are created equal. Those that are freeze dried prior to processing maintain significantly higher antioxidant levels than those simply frozen or air-dried ("spray dried") before use. Dosage recommendations depend on the product, but are generally 1,000-2,000mg of dried acai extract or 1-2 Tablespoons of liquid extract per day.
 

How is it used?
In South America, acai is used as a dessert ingredient and as juice and liqueur flavouring. In the general consumer market, acai is sold as frozen pulp, juice, and in various products from beverages and foods, to cosmetics and supplements. Although initially touted as a weight loss aid, recent research has debunked that myth. Now it is generally toted as a superfruit because of its extremely rich antioxidant content and high levels of omega fats.

Antioxidant Ability
Antioxidants have the ability to neutralize free radicals in the body. Free radicals are reactive substances that damage nutrients and body tissues. We are exposed to free radicals in air pollution, UV rays, cigarette smoke, and even as byproducts of our own metabolism. Free radical damage results in cancer, cardiovascular disease, and the visible signs of aging. Due to its recent fame, the antioxidant ability of acai was thoroughly tested and found to be extremely high. This is the reason it has been touted to have anti-aging effects. Also, the antioxidants found in acai have been shown to be easily absorbed by our bodies, such that even low doses can have beneficial effects. Some studies show that acai fruit pulp has a very high antioxidant capacity with even more antioxidant content than cranberry, raspberry, blackberry, strawberry, or blueberry. Studies are ongoing though, and the jury is still out.

  

acai - QUICK FACTS

PARTS USED

· Berries

APPLICATIONS

· Cancer, antioxidant, cardiovascular disease, aging.

OPTIMUM DOSAGE

· 1,000-2,000mg of dried extract or 1-2 Tablespoons of liquid extract per day. Suggested dose of juice is up to 2 cups per day (Clinical doses may be higher as recommended by your practitioner).

WORKS WELL WITH

· Other antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, and other antioxidant rich fruits

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

Click for Products

· There are no known side-effects to supplementation with acai, although its safety has not been sufficiently tested in pregnancy and lactation. 


acai - QUICK FACTS

PARTS USED

· Berries

APPLICATIONS

· Cancer, antioxidant, cardiovascular disease, aging.

OPTIMUM DOSAGE

· 1,000-2,000mg of dried extract or 1-2 Tablespoons of liquid extract per day. Suggested dose of juice is up to 2 cups per day (Clinical doses may be higher as recommended by your practitioner).

WORKS WELL WITH

· Other antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, and other antioxidant rich fruits

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

 

· There are no known side-effects to supplementation with acai, although its safety has not been sufficiently tested in pregnancy and lactation. 

 

 

 

 

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