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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Little-Known Herb That Doubles As An IBS and Candida Remedy

 Photo credit: Latisha (herbmother)

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.

How Sage Can Help IBS and Candida  

1. 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 provides strength to a weakened immune system and fatigued body.

How to Use Sage for Relief from IBS and Candida 

Sage is often taken multiple times a day in small doses to get maximum results in particularly 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 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.
You can buy sage supplements or you can put the ground herb into empty capsules if you prefer to avoid the taste.    

You can purchase easy-to-swallow sage capsules by clicking below

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

Monday, October 24, 2016

Vacationing With IBS? Try The Emergency Anti-IBS Protocol

Photo credit: Herald
So you have a vacation coming up, but you're worried that your digestive woes will get in the way?

What kind of person worries about their digestive system when they're going on vacation? 

The kind who suffers from irritable bowel syndrome, am I right?

If you're one of the millions of folks in the IBS club, then you've probably become a professional last-minute cancelling because you're digestive system decided to attack you. You've also become a pro in the excuses-department because the last thing you want to tell your friend (or date!) is that you can't go because your bowel is irritated. (Whoever came up with the term "irritable bowel syndrome" really didn't make things easier on us, did they?)

If you're one of us gals whose life has to revolve around her IBS, you want nothing more than to get control back over your life, er, digestive system. Believe me, I know because I've been there. From the age of about 15 all the way into adulthood, I've been there. I've vacationed dozens of times with IBS, I've gone on dates with IBS tagging along. You name it, I've IBS'd all through it. And it was miserable. Many vacations were smothered in pain. Many dates cancelled or cut short.
Photo credit: James Palisad
 I was a teenager when my significant other (who I'd only been with for a year at the time) went on vacation with my family. I felt awful the entire time because the constant pain and digestive upsets. On top of that, I felt like I was putting a damper on everyone's time because even when we went out to eat, I'd be the only person not eating. It was impossible when the smallest meal would literally keep me down for an entire evening.
 I know from years of experience that IBS doesn't take a vacation when you do. This obnoxious little pest doesn't even take Holidays off.

When you have IBS, things that are supposed to be exciting and fun, like vacation are just stressful.

Normal people are so full of excitement the night before they're set to leave for vacation. For people with IBS? you can't sleep because you're darn near sick with worry.  

What if I get to the beach and there isn't a bathroom nearby?

What if I end up having to stay in the motel the entire time?

What if we get on a boat and my IBS flares up? No bathroom + a boat full of people = pure disaster.

IBS is a relentless SOB. He not only tags along on your much-needed vacation, but ruins your chances of spending any time outside of the bathroom and on that warm, relaxing beach. The minute you finally get out of the motel room and have trekked to the beach, bam! That gut-wrenching rumble strikes and you know that you better start surveying the area for the closest bathroom or place to sit as you try to secretly grit through the pains.

 You finally get a vacation, but you don't actually get to enjoy it because your IBS won't allow it.
Photo credit: Moyan Brenn

 It's like waving a big steak under a dog's nose repeatedly, then finally giving it to him only to snatch it away and beat him with it the second he sinks his teeth in. 

That's precisely what vacation was like for me every single year. So, when an unexpected invitation to go to the beach popped up, I gathered up all my remedies and supplies to come up with a way to keep my IBS from consuming this vacation. I needed a low-maintenance kind of remedy that I could use in last-minute situations like this. There are many remedies that can help with IBS, but I needed something powerful that would prevent a flare-up all together, and provide relief in the event that one did occur.

I only had a single week, so the pressure was on. However,  I had a few remedies up my sleeve, so I immediately began taking a sort of "emergency anti-IBS protocol."

And it worked! I made it all the way there and back without the IBS striking, even though I happened to be going through some severe emotional distress while we were away.  

Read on to learn the ingredients I used, plus many tips that'll help you come up with the perfect protocol for your own IBS needs. 

Choosing The Right Remedies for An Emergency Anti-IBS Protocol  (I like the ring that has to it)

I'm including all the steps I take when emergency strikes, but by no means is this a strict "protocol" that has to be followed. Feel free to "tweak" the ingredients to fit your needs.

Identify Your Symptoms Before Proceeding
The main symptoms of IBS are similar for most people -- pain, cramps, abdominal discomfort, irregularity, bloating, gas, etc. The severity of each symptom varies from person to person. For example, some people have IBS-C, which means they have constipation frequently while others will be the opposite and suffer with diarrhea, a.k.a. IBS-D. Then there's those of us who have the unpredictable "surprise me" version that could go either way on any given day.

Since I fall under the in-between category, I had to look for flexible options or else I could end up with a remedy of disaster. Imagine taking an IBS-C remedy  (one that's meant to fight IBS-C) when suddenly your IBS decides to come with diarrhea. That'd be like having diarrhea on top of diarrhea. A pure nightmare.

When it comes to IBS, you have to experiment and tailor your treatment based on your symptoms. Having the unpredictable "in-between" IBS, I had to use something that's friendly for all IBS symptoms, whether it's IBS-C or D.

I needed something extremely simple, easy, convenient, and low-maintenance, so I used what I knew to work best, was most readily available, and powerful enough to do the trick.

1. Take Aloe vera (preferably the "medicinal" variety but any will do) daily. You can also take aloe vera supplements instead of using the plants.
Photo credit: Florena Presse

Why: Aloe is the most important ingredient in the protocol because it stops my flare-ups and brings almost instantaneous relief. Aloe vera helps all the painful symptoms associated with IBS. It soothes the gut and intestinal lining, relieves intestinal cramps, discomfort, and inflammation.

Instructions: I typically start taking aloe vera a week before I go on vacation. If it's last minute, and then I begin as soon as possible. I'll also take it during the middle of a flare-up when I need relief. If I take aloe vera daily for a period of time (the length of time depends on how severe and on-going the IBS problems are) it'll keep it away for months to come. I always aim to take a dose everyday for a minimum of 3-days in a row, but a week guarantees I'll be completely in the clear.

How to Use Aloe From the plant:  I typically cut whichever shoot is the most mature/largest from my plant. Using a knife, I slice one side of outer leaf away, then using the knife (or a spoon), I scrape the clear, inner material off. You'll end up with a glob of clear, gooey aloe vera. This is the edible portion. The green outer leaf isn't used. Rinse it well to ensure the latex (a yellow liquid-y substance that oozes from the cut shoots) isn't consumed as it's been reported to have a mild laxative effect for some people and some have suggested it could be bad for the liver.

There isn't a recommended amount of aloe vera to consume, but it doesn't take much to inhibit a flare-up.

Aloe Supplement method: If you're using a capsule/supplement, follow the recommended dosage on the label. Personally, I take 1-2 when I'm using the cheaper brand of aloe vera gel caps from Wal-mart (Nature's Valley is the brand, I think. It's the one in a dark green bottle with a yellow lid.)

 A single gel cap is usually enough to bring me relief, but two never fails me.

Tips for using aloe:  I usually just use my own aloe vera plants, but aloe vera supplements are just as useful. In fact, I like to keep a bottle of aloe supplements on-hand for emergency flare-ups and they're perfect for travel. Cutting/preparing aloe vera from the plant isn't travel-friendly and there's the added concern of it going bad. 

 - Aloe vera has started showing up in many consumer products, like beverages, but none of the beverages have been reliable for me during a flare-up. I like them fine as a way to promote better digestive health. The convenience of the aloe-laced beverages may be tempting, but I seriously don't recommend that you rely on them for this part of the protocol.

- Which Brand of Aloe Supplement?  I've used close to all the aloe vera supplements that can be purchased in a Wal-mart or over the Internet and it really doesn't matter which brand you use or whether you go with freeze dried aloe or a gel capsule. Just as long as the ingredients are 100% pure aloe vera and free of harmful additives/chemicals. Some of the brands differ in potency aloe and quality to an extent, but the purpose is to get relief fast, and all of them do that in my experience.

 *Note regarding the latex in aloe vera
Some people say the "latex" in aloe can cause discomfort or a laxative effect. Many recommend rinsing the aloe vera gel (if using from the plant) thoroughly to remove the "latex."  

As for my experience, I've eaten many aloe vera plants of many different species, and I've consumed small amounts of the latex. Never have I experienced discomfort or a laxative effect. I've also never experienced negative side effects or worsening symptoms (like upset stomach/digestive system) when using any part of an aloe plant.

 If you've been one of Healthy, Happy, Wholesome's long-term readers, you've probably read about how aloe vera helped me recover from IBS. Through all the years I've been experimenting, aloe vera has been an infallible, most helpful remedy. If you were to only choose a single ingredient for relief of IBS, aloe vera would probably be the best one you could go with. 

2. Eat Garlic Cloves Daily. 
Photo credit: Allison Turrell

Why? Garlic has numerous medicinal uses, and it garners a lot of attention for its digestive benefits. Garlic contains prebiotic substances, which feed and promote the growth of the healthy bacteria within the colon. This makes garlic particularly beneficial in  cases of IBS because most people lack a sufficient supply of healthy bacteria. As a result, the "bad bacteria" (like candida albicans or "yeast," for example) usually take over. These bad bacteria are harmful and they're responsible for a lot of pain and suffering. Consuming garlic regularly will help kill off the bad bacteria and keep your system in check.

Instructions for use: Get a head of garlic and starting a week before you plan to go on vacation, eat at least a single clove daily. I took 1-2 cloves of garlic daily for the week leading up to our vacation and I stopped taking it the night before we left. If your concerned about the pungent aroma lingering during your vacation, you can stop the a day or so before leaving and still get the benefits.

The cloves can be used as flavoring in your meals or if you can tolerate it, chop up a clove and pop it into your mouth. Just be sure you don't allow it to sit in your mouth for too long as it can burn. I chop the clove into small bits, then wash them down with a glass of water.

Garlic's powerful anti-bacterial, anti-fungal properties will help kill off the harmful parasites, yeast, and bacteria that are known for causing IBS flares.

 Anti-fungals can cause folks with IBS and candidiasis to have a Herxheimer reaction a.k.a. "die-off." This occurs when a number of the candida albicans "die-off" and release toxins in your system. I have had the Herx reaction in the past and it was a highly unpleasant few hours. With that said, you may want to be careful not to over consume things like garlic.

Tips for using garlic: Most experts agree that eating garlic cloves, rather than using garlic powder or taking a garlic supplement is the best way to reap the most benefits. I usually find a head of garlic for only 99 cents at the grocery store.

*Make sure to crush or chop the cloves as doing so releases an important chemical called allicin.

3.  Take Peppermint As a Natural Pain-Killer and to Prevent Colon Spasms
Photo credit: Kim

Most IBS sufferers would agree that a spastic colon can cause extreme pain and severe cramps.

Why? Peppermint calms and numbs the gastrointestinal tract, providing relief from bloating, painful cramps, spasms, and inflammation associated with IBS. These benefits can be attributed to the active ingredient, menthol, which is a natural anti-spasmodic that relaxes the tense muscles that line intestinal tract and stomach. It also improves the functioning of these important muscles.

Additionally, peppermint helps your body digest fats and relieves diarrhea and gas.

Instructions for use:
Take a peppermint oil capsule or drink peppermint tea before meals, if possible. I like to start taking a single soft capsule of peppermint essential oil the day before I leave for vacation as well as at the start of my day for the duration of the trip.

Most people recommend taking the mint after a meal, but I like to take it at the beginning of my day to help keep the typical symptoms (discomfort, spasms, and gas) away.
Tips for using peppermint:
 While peppermint tea has been reported to be useful for minor discomfort, using peppermint extract or a peppermint oil capsule seems to be the most favored approach. I personally find relief when I take a soft capsule that contains peppermint essential oil. I haven't had much luck with other peppermint products, like teas.

 4.  Take Coconut Oil
Photo credit: Meal Makeover Moms

Why? A daily dose of high quality, organic, un-refined coconut oil will kill candida albicans (the "yeast" fungus that's a major problem in IBS sufferers.) 

 When I first tried coconut oil for my severe IBS, I started with only half a teaspoon a day. When I decided (after a week or two) it was time to up my intake to 2 tablespoons, I ended up with a serious case of Herxheimer's reaction. Like with the garlic mentioned previously, be careful with coconut oil unless you're prepared to experience some "die-off" symptoms.

Coconut oil has anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties, so it'll also help kill off the harmful bacteria in your gut.

Instructions for use: A teaspoon of coconut oil taken everyday for a week leading up to the day you plan to leave. (Of course last minute vacations don't allow for this pre-planning, so it's still plenty beneficial to take the small doses while on vacation.)

Coconut oil can be eaten by the spoon or added to meals like oatmeal, yogurt, smoothies, etc. You can swap your cooking oil with coconut as well. 

Notes about coconut oil: When I use a regular store-bought coconut oil, although it's easier to get down, I don't notice the same benefits for my IBS. That's why it's best to use an un-refined, organic, cold-pressed, virgin coconut oil. A reputable brand that I've personally used and had results with is Gold Label Organics

 5. Cinnamon
Photo credit: Marat Assanov

Why? The eugenol in cinnamon is a natural pain-killer that will be useful in stopping cramps and keeping diarrhea under control, if it strikes.

Instructions for use: When you're having cramps or diarrhea, take a teaspoon of ground cinnamon with a warm beverage like tea.