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Monday, December 26, 2016

3 Remedies to Help You Survive (and Enjoy) The Holidays With Depression

Photo credit: Luca Rossato
The chaos and stress of the holiday season can take its toll on even the most chipper people. This is the time of year that depression hits the hardest for some.

For those of you who can relate to the santa in the photo, this post is for you. 

These 3 simple, natural remedies will help you survive the holidays with depression (and hopefully not end up like this santa at the end.)

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

A Highly Effective, Cheaper Alternative to Calcium Supplements is Already in Your Kitchen

Photo credit: Chris Salt

Calcium is one highly underestimated mineral. Many people aren't aware that calcium affects more than just our teeth and bones.  

Did you know that even the formation of your cells depend on calcium? Your heart rhythm, muscles, nerves, and your mental health also rely on this mineral in order to function properly. 
You would be shocked at some of the health problems that can manifest from low calcium levels. Take sleep quality, for example. Insufficient calcium levels can even prevent you from reaching good quality, deep sleep. 

Hypocalcemia or "calcium deficiency" is more common than you'd think and it can have devastating effects on your health.

Signs of hypocalcemia
Hypocalcemia can be asymptomatic for some people while others may experience life-threatening symptoms. 

It's important to know all the symptoms, but here are some of the more common signs of low calcium levels that you should be aware of.
  •  Muscle spasms/twitches, including in your face
  •  Muscle cramps
  •  Muscle weakness
  •  Numbness
  •  Shaking and trembling
  •  Loss of body control 
  •  Tingling sensations in your feet, hands, or lips
  •  Seizures 
  •  Slow or uneven heartbeat
  •  Lightheadedness 
  •  Cardiac arrest, in severe cases
  •  Anxiety
  •  Depression 
  •  Confusion
  •  Anger
  •  Hallucinations, including auditory hallucinations
Those last 5 are very interesting, if not scary. If you have the signs of calcium deficiency, then it would be a good idea to find ways to start implementing this important mineral into your diet. 

Now that I've got your attention, let's talk about how you can get those calcium levels up without having to shell out a fortune on questionable calcium supplements. 

Photo credit: Fetching Photos
The alternative is getting your calcium from eggshells

I know, it sounds horrifying at first, when you imagine crunching and swallowing something as sharp and glass-like as broken eggshells. 

Eggshell calcium is made by grinding eggshells into a fine powder, so it's not like chewing on glass shards.

Is eggshell calcium better than a supplement?
Aside from the fact that it's cheaper to use eggshells (and cheaper is sometimes better in my opinion), there are a couple of reasons that eggshells may be a better alternative to calcium supplements.
  •  Eggshell calcium (calcium carbonate) is said to be the perfect source of bio-available calcium, according to the research conducted in the1940's by Hungarian physician I. Krompecher. (Krompecher and his colleagues are the folks who developed the basics of therapeutic eggshell use.) The calcium in eggshells is similar to that found in our bones and teeth, so it's no surprise that eggshell calcium is at least a good source of calcium, if not "perfect," as Krompecher found.
*Bio-avaiable means that it's easily absorbed by the body. Some believe that our bodies don't always absorb minerals like calcium when we take them in the form of supplements. There's probably a reason why nutrition obtained from food sources (over supplements) is always the preferred and recommended route.

  • Eggshells can contain up to 27 important minerals (like magnesium, phosphorous, silicon) and 20 essential amino acids (such as lysine, cysteine, isoleucine) all of which are critical for healthy bones and teeth. 
  •  Store bought supplements often contain questionable ingredients like preservatives, additives, and who-knows-what-else. If you use organic, free-range eggs, you don't have to worry about the questionable ingredients that are found in supplements. Just be sure to opt for organic, free-range eggs.

Diseases That Benefit From Eggshell Calcium 

photo credit: Dawn Endico

1. Orthopedic diseases like osteoporosis.

Eggshell powder has shown significantly positive effects in the treatment and prevention of osteoporosis, according to researchers from the National Institute of Rheumatic Diseases. Furthermore, clinical studies found that eggshell powder decreases pain and osteoresorption (problems caused by decreased bone formation) while increasing mobility in women with senile osteoporosis and post-menopausal women with osteoporosis.

The study authors also noted that healing time was faster when eggshell calcium was used in the treatment of orthopedic problems such as osteoporosis.

2. Arthritis 
Eggshell calcium stimulates the growth of cartilage and decreases pain from arthritis, according to a study conducted on animals.

3. Bone Mineral Density
Another study, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, found that a year of taking eggshell calcium (added to a vitamin/mineral supplement) increased the bone mineral density in healthy, late post-menopausal women. 

4. Plaque and weak tooth enamel
Using an eggshell based toothpaste can strengthen tooth enamel and some folks are even using it to help remineralize their teeth and prevent cavities.

There's some information swarming the Internet claiming that  a dentistry school in the Philippines found that when used overtime, eggshell toothpaste leads to stronger enamel, cleaner teeth, and less plaque formation. I have to be upfront and say that I've had no luck finding any reputable source that mentions this "study."

5. Nutritional Rickets
Some parents use ground eggshells to prevent nutritional rickets and promote healthy bone tissue formation.  Dr. Krompecher, from the Biological Research Institute, began using crushed or ground eggshells to treat rickets in children back in the 40's. According to the study published in the International Journal of Clinical Pharmacy, Dr. Krompecher would administer up to 6 grams of eggshells daily to children with rickets.

Note: Low levels of phosphorous and Vitamin D are also known to cause rickets, so don't rely solely on calcium. Eggshells are commonly ground into a fine powder and added to foods for this purpose.

How To Make Your Own Eggshell Calcium
If you're as thrilled as I was to learn a simple way to get of calcium without spending a lot of money, then you'll want to make your own right away. There are a few slightly different ways to go about making eggshell calcium, but each method is pretty simple. If you want to make your own eggshell calcium, pick whichever method suits you and follow the instructions below:

1. Rinse the eggshells, but feel free to leave the nutritious "membrane" (the white papery film attached to the inside of the egg.)

2. Bake or Hard boil the eggs to kill any pathogens. Some people speculate that boiling the eggshells would diminish their mineral content. Reports have stated that this isn't the case except with the potassium content, which will leach out of the shells. Some people opt to bake them, which is what I do. Spread the shells out on a baking sheet and bake at 325 F for 15 minutes.

3. Crush 'em! (Use a food processor, coffee grinder or blender) Personally, this is my favorite part and you'll probably find it odd, but I actually enjoyed crushing them by hand (mortar and pestle style.) There's something a little soothing about the repetitive crunching of the shells. Either that or I had no other option but to crush them by hand, so I've convinced myself it was enjoyable! 

It's much more time consuming to crush the eggshells by hand. I have managed to crush a batch down to powder form, but you'll probably want to use a coffee bean grinder or a food processor if you have one. Just don't use the plastic bag + hammer method. I tried it the first time and it was a total fail. 

As for using a blender, it won't grind them down into a fine powder, but you can mortar and pestle the rest of the way or just toss your eggshell in the blender with smoothie ingredients.

4. Store
your eggshell calcium in a jar with a tight lid. Glass baby food jars work well, but the only jar I had on hand was a plastic instant coffee container. Some people store the jar of calcium in the fridge.

How to Make Calcium Citrate:
Calcium citrate is a more easily absorbed form of calcium for some people. You can make calcium citrate easily by adding either lemon juice or apple cider vinegar to your eggshells. I only tried making calcium citrate once, but I find the powdered method easier.  

Watch the step-by-step video tutorial by Living The Hedge Witch Life if you're interested in making your own calcium citrate.

How Much Eggshell Calcium Should You Take

1 teaspoon of crushed eggshell contains around 800 - 1,000 milligrams of calcium. Or around 400 milligrams per gram. The old study "Eggshell Calcium for the Prevention and Treatment of Osteoporosis" published in the International Journal of Clinical Pharmacy says 1 gram of powder contains 370 milligrams of calcium.

Obviously, the daily dosage of calcium will depend on your personal daily needs, so you'll have to adjust your dose accordingly. The most common "dosage" I've heard of people using is between half a teaspoon to  1 teaspoon daily. I'm not one for exact measurements, so I typically just dip my teaspoon in and eyeball it.

How Should You Take Eggshell Calcium?
If you ask me, the quicker and easier, the better. Well, when it comes to taking supplements. 

Most days, I just scoop a small amount of powder out (usually around half a teaspoon) and swallow with water or juice. However, you can add this virtually tasteless powder to many foods and drinks if you really care to.

Most people seem to prefer taking their supplements in smoothies. You can put your eggshell calcium in applesauce, oatmeal, juice, ice cream, thick soups, etc. You can even sprinkle it on your salad or other dishes. Just keep in mind that the powder will give your smoothies/foods texture. If small bits of powdered shell is bothersome, you might have to get creative.

How to Make Natural Toothpaste Using Eggshells 
You can make your own toothpaste using a scoop of your crushed eggshell powder and very few other ingredients. The best part about DIY toothpaste is that the recipes can be tweaked to include ingredients that fit your specific needs and taste.

Here is a quick video that tells you how to make a super simple eggshell toothpaste using coconut oil and eggshells

Baking soda and coconut oil are the most commonly used base ingredients. As long as you have those, you'll be able to make your own toothpaste right away.

Warning: Only use calcium carbonate for your toothpaste. Do not use calcium citrate -- it's too acidic for use on the enamel.

Marissa from the Becoming Kindred blog has a simple recipe for those of you who are interested in making your own eggshell-based toothpaste.

Note: I realize you probably already know this, but it's worth the reminder... Your body needs other important nutrients in order to properly utilize them. Calcium is no exception. It works with other vital nutrients and minerals. In other words, calcium can't do much for you if you're deficient in other vital nutrients

Vitamin D3, Vitamin K, and Magnesium are some of the critical ones needed for calcium to be useful.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

This Little-Known Herb Kills Candida and Resolves IBS

Sage -- the herb found in most spice cabinets, and the one commonly used to flavor your Thanksgiving dressing -- is a severely under-appreciated medicinal herb and panacea. Perhaps one of its most impressive uses is as a remedy for IBS and candida.

Considering that it's part of the mint family, it should come as no surprise that sage can help relieve IBS symptoms. In fact, some people regard this simple herb as their go-to remedy in times of a flare-up.

Nutritional Profile and Properties of Sage:
Sage contains over 80 different vitamins and nutrients, including: 
  • Vitamins A, C, and K 
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium
 See the entire nutrient profile for sage here.

  •  Sage is a natural anti-spasmodic, meaning it'll stop those painful GI cramps that are infamous for their ability to double you over for hours on end.

  • Sage relieves inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract, thanks to the rosmarinic acid content.
  • Sage has natural anti-fungal and anti-yeast action, which makes it perfect for killing off the excess of candida albicans or "yeast" that affects folks with IBS.

  • Sage fights infection, particularly those of the intestines, with anti-bacterial and anti-septic properties. Sage was even found to be effective against staphylococcus aureus, i.e. staph infection.
  • Sage is a natural remedy for constipation as it has a mild stimulating effect on digestion.

 Photo credit: Latisha (herbmother)

How Does Sage Kill Candida and Resolve IBS Flare-Ups?

1. Sage strengthens Digestion and Treats Stomach Disorders
 Sage has been used for centuries as a general tonic to stimulate a weakened digestive system and treat stomach disorders, including stomach hemorrhages.

2. Prevents Flare-Ups Caused by Anxiety Many people suffering from IBS and candida know that any excitement like anxiety or nervousness can send your symptoms into overdrive in a matter of minutes. Use sage for its ability to help keep excitability, anxiety, and nervousness down. Drinking a tea infused with sage can also help with the headaches most of us nervous IBS'ers keep.

3. Sage tea strengthens a weakened immune system and fatigued body.

How to Use Sage for Relief from IBS and Candida 

Sage is often taken in small doses multiple times a day for  for relentless cases of IBS.

The most popular way to use sage as a medicinal herb is in the form of a tea, although it's also available in easy-to-swallow capsules.

Dosing: According to Whfoods' Food Rating Chart System, a serving of dried sage is 2 teaspoons or 1.40 grams.

How to Make Sage Tea:
Bring 8 ounces of water to a boil, then allow it to cool for a few minutes before pouring over 1 teaspoon of fresh sage leaves, or 2 teaspoons, if using dried sage leaves.

Allow to steep for 10 minutes. (One source recommend steeping for a whopping 4 hours.)

After steeping (for however long you prefer) strain, then drink the infusion as you would any tea. 
Leftovers can be refrigerated for later.

 No Leaves on-Hand? Just Use Ground Sage
There's no reason to forego this powerful IBS remedy just because you don't have actual sage leaves. Ground sage is just as good, and according to some people, works better than the tea method.

You can make a tea using ground sage in your coffee maker. Just substitute coffee grounds (don't forget a coffee filter) for a scoop of ground sage. Pour in your water, turn the coffee maker on and enjoy a quick cup of sage tea!

On hurried days, I just dump 2 teaspoons of ground sage in a cup of warm or even room temperature water for fast relief from bloating, cramping, and other IBS-related pain

Unlike coffee, the grounds of sage aren't bothersome going down. If the grounds do happen to bother you simply strain the sage-infused water beforehand.

How to Take Sage for Candida Overgrowth

When my IBS symptoms increase and start showing up frequently, I know this signifies a problem with candidiasis, the overgrowth of candida albicans or "yeast." This is when I like to start taking sage on a daily basis. I either add ground sage to my water or put it in a capsule for fast, easy dosing.

My symptoms typically begin to disappear within 3-4 days, depending. There are times when 2 teaspoons a day for several days in a row are necessary to get the candida under control.
If you the taste of sage is a problem or you're looking for a more convenient way to supplement with sage, you can opt for a capsule form.

Have you ever tried herbal remedies for IBS and candida overgrowth? Share your thoughts and results in the comments.