Archive | March, 2012

Topics in Aromatherapy-Argan Oil

27 Mar

Welcome to the next post in my blog series, Topic in Aromatherapy.  Each week I am focusing on an aspect of aromatherapy such as an essential oil or carrier oil and discuss their healing properties.  I also will discuss how to make some of your own natural products using essential oils.  So far, we have talked about jojoba oiltea tree oilsweet almond oillavenderylang ylang,shea butterpatchouli, kokum butter and avocado oil.  This week, we are going to talk about argan oil.

What is argan oil?

Argan oil is derived from the kernels of the argan tree (see above) that is endemic to Morocco  (source).  This oil is unique as it is mainly composed of  mono-unsaturated (up to 80%) fatty acids(source).  The oil is also very high in gamma -tocopherol (Vitamin E)(source) and have a high level of oleic and linoleic acids and phenols

What are the health benefits of argan oil?

Argan oil has shown to:

  • Reduces cardiovascular risk and may be  anti-atherogenic  (source)
  • Posess strong chemopreventive and anti-inflammatory properties likely due to its high Vitamin E content (source)
  • Perhaps have the ability to decrease the susceptibility of LDL to oxidation (which leads to atherosclerosis) in type 2 diabetes patients with dyslipidemia(source)
  • Perhaps have a role in reducing weight loss in diabetics, and even in inhibiting the development or progression of diabetes.(source)
  • Improve some of the metabolic and insulin signaling abnormalities associated with high fat feeding (in mice) (source)
  • Perhaps have the ability to prevent prostate cancer (source)
  • Have the ability to lower triglycerides in men (source)

How can I use it?

Argan oil is commonly used by Moroccans in the cooking as well as body care.  It is used to  treat damaged, dry or brittle hair  (source) and can be used in lotions and other body care products.
My hairdresser uses it but that is the only time I have ever seen it.
A really neat feature is that argan oil is made largely by a Argan Co-operative  which is a group consisting only of women in Morocco which manufactures oil on a large scale (source)
Question?
Have you ever heard of argan oil?

Topics in Aromatherapy-Avocado Oil

20 Mar

Welcome to the next post in my blog series, Topic in Aromatherapy.  Each week I am focusing on an aspect of aromatherapy such as an essential oil or carrier oil and discuss their healing properties.  I also will discuss how to make some of your own natural products using essential oils.  So far, we have talked about jojoba oiltea tree oilsweet almond oillavenderylang ylang,shea butter, patchouli and kokum butter.

This week, we are going to talk about Avocado oil.

What is avocado oil?

Avocado oil is  pressed from the pulp around the avocado’s pit (source)

What health benefits are linked to avocado oil?

Avocados have been known to have lots of health fats, nutrients and anti-oxidants (source) in them.  Even though they have a lot of calories per serving, these calories come from fats that are good for you and may even help you loose weight.

The oil from the avocado is used is cosmetics and touted as good for your skin due to  Vitamin A, B1, B2, D, and E,  amino acids, sterols, pantothenic acid, lecithin, and other essential fatty acids. It is believed to be beneficial for those with sensitive skin or problem skin (source)

There have not been many studies looking at the supposed health claims of avocado oil for cosmetic purposes, however, one study found that a vitamin B(12) cream with avocado oil could be a  well-tolerated, long-term topical therapy of psoriasis (source)

How can I use avocado oil?

Avocado oil is a carrier oil which means essential oils can be diluted into this oil to be added to lotions, shampoos, etc.

Question?

Have you ever bought a product with avocado oil in it?  If so, what product was it?  Did you think it make your skin look or feel healthier?

Spicing your way to health with Garlic!

15 Mar

Welcome to the third post of my blog series, “Spicing your way to Health.”  In this series, we will focus on spices with documented health benefits and discuss easy and delicious ways you can add these spices to your everyday eating.  So far, we have  talked about curcumin and cinnamon.  Today, we are going to talk about garlic! 

What is garlic?

Allium sativum, garlic, is a member of the onion genus, Allium. It is closely related to the onion, shallot, leek and chive.

What are the health benefits of garlic?

Garlic has tons of healthy phytochemicals in it to help prevent and treat disease.  Lots of peer-reviewed articles have been written about the health benefits of garlic.

Here is a sampling of those studies:

  • Garlic supplementation reduced the accumulation of cholesterol in  animals (source)
  • Garlic extract has shown to improve blood lipid profile and decrease blood pressure (source)
  • Garlic inhibits platelet aggregation and, thus, may help prevent cardiovascular disease (source)
  • Garlic has favorable effects on cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, and HDL-cholesterol (source)
  • Garlic has been used by herbalists for  hoarseness and coughs (source)
  • Garlic plus an anti-diabetic remedy improved glycemic control  (source)
  • A garlic based  mouthwash proved to be antimicrobial (but left the subjects with bad breath!) (source)
  • Garlic is anti-fungal (source)

Toxicity

Some people are allergic to garlic.

As a general rule, it’s never a good idea to take a herbal supplement for the same condition you are taking a pharmaceutical for, unless you are being supervised by a physician.

Question?
There are so many ways to eat garlic.  What’s your favorite way?  Have you ever tried to roast garlic?

Topics in Aromatherapy-Kokum Butter

13 Mar

Kokum Butter

Welcome to the next post in my blog series, Topic in Aromatherapy.  Each week I am focusing on an aspect of aromatherapy such as an essential oil or carrier oil and discuss their healing properties.  I also will discuss how to make some of your own natural products using essential oils.  So far, we have talked about jojoba oiltea tree oilsweet almond oillavenderylang ylang,shea butter and patchouli.

This week, we are going to talk about kokum butter.

What is kokum butter?

Kokum butter is obtained from the Indian tree Garcinia indica. (source).  This tree is commonly known as kokum and has various names across India, including aamsol, aamsul, bindin, biran, bhirand, bhinda, bhrinda, brinda, bin’na, kokum (alternate spellings kokam and cocum), katambi, looikya, sour apple, panarpuli, ratamba (source)

Kokum fruit

The fruit is dried in the sun to get the spice aamsul or kokam which is a blackish-red color and used in dishes such as lentil soup (source).

What health benefits does it have?

According to Mountain Rose Herbs, a supplier of numerous natural products:

Kokum Butter is rich in essential fatty acids, which aid in cell oxygenation and make nutrients more readily available for use by skin tissues. Kokum Butter also contains antioxidant vitamin E.  Kokum Butter is a non-comedogenic (non pore-clogging) material that aids quick absorption and adds a premium texture to your cream emulsions. Kokum Butter helps regenerate tired and worn skin cells and supports skin elasticity and general flexibility of the skin wall. It has been used traditionally in India to soften skin and restore elasticity and as a balm for dry, cracked, rough and calloused skin. It is also beneficial for the treatment of many different conditions, such as:

  • Helps prevent dry skin and wrinkles
  • Helps regenerate skin cells (Source)

I looked to see if I could find any scientific literature backing up these claims, but I couldn’t find anything.

How can I use it?

Also according to Mountain Rose Herbs:

With its relatively higher melt point, it melts slightly at skin temperatures making it ideal for lipsticks and balms; it‘s also a great addition to bar soaps and skin lotions and may be easily incorporated into Lotions, Creams, and Body Butters. It is also wonderful to use in the summer as a moisturizer before and after sun exposure to reduce possibility of the skin peeling or becoming dried out.  Use as an addition to:

  • Creams, lotions, balms
  • Cosmetic foundations
  • Lipsticks
  • Conditioners
  • Moisturizers(Source)

I have been thinking about buying some kokum butter with which to make lotion.  I currently use shea butter, but shea butter is not very conducive to adding essential oils to.  Has anyone ever used kokum butter to make their own lotion?

Question?

Have you ever bought anything with kokum butter in it?  If so, what?

Spicing your way to health with Cinnamon

8 Mar

Welcome to the second post of my blog series, “Spicing your way to Health.”  In this series, we will focus on spices with documented health benefits and discuss easy and delicious ways you can add these spices to your everyday eating.  Last week, we talked about curcumin.  Today, we are going to talk about Cinnamon!

What is cinnamon?

Cinnamon is obtained from the bark of trees from the genus Cinnamomum.  These trees are native to South East Asia (source)

Actually, several species are sold as “cinnamon.”  From Wikipedia:

  • Cinnamomum verum (“True cinnamon”, Sri Lanka cinnamon or Ceylon cinnamon)
  • C. burmannii (Korintje or Indonesian cinnamon)
  • C. loureiroi (Saigon cinnamon or Vietnamese cinnamon)
  • C. aromaticum (Cassia or Chinese cinnamon) (source)

The flavor of cinnamon is due to is essential oil which makes up about 1% of its composition (source)

What health benefits does cinnamon have?

Several studies have been carried out in vitro and in vivo concerning cinnamon.  Cinnamon has shown to:

  • Have activity against HIV-1 and HIV-2 (source)
  • Have some cancer preventing activity in colon cancer cells (source)
  • Impair melanoma cell proliferation, invasiveness, and tumor growth (source)
  • Improve fasting blood glucose in people with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes(source)
  • Perhaps have some role in neuroprotection (source)
  • Have effects against obesity and insulin resistance (source)

How can you eat cinnamon?

I don’t think you need any suggestions on how to eat cinnamon.  Although you can buy it in pill form, why not just sprinkle some on your coffee:

put some in pumpkin pie:

make a satay sauce:

add some to oatmeal:

or try the cinnamon challenge:

Question?

What is your favorite way to eat cinnamon?  Did you know it had so many health benefits?

Topics in Aromatherapy-Patchouli

6 Mar

Patchouli

Welcome to the next post in my blog series, Topic in Aromatherapy.  Each week I am focusing on an aspect of aromatherapy such as an essential oil or carrier oil and discuss their healing properties.  I also will discuss how to make some of your own natural products using essential oils.  So far, we have talked about jojoba oiltea tree oilsweet almond oillavenderylang ylang and shea butter.

This week, we are going to talk about Patchouli.

Patchouli is a herb of the mint family that has small, pale pink-white flowers. The plant grows natively in Asia and is cultivated in China, Indonesia, India, Malaysia, Mauritius, Taiwan, the Philippines,Thailand, and Vietnam and West Africa.

This herb is used in perfume and in products such as paper towels, laundry detergents, and air fresheners (source).

What studies have been done on Patchouli?

Patchouli has shown to be able to:

  • Protection against influenza infection in mice (source)
  • Be antiinflammatory (source)
  • Act as a mosquito repellent (source)

Patchouli is is currently used in aromatherapy to help fever, headache, nausea, vomit, diarrhea, skin infections and bad breath as well as act as an aphrodisiac (source) but I couldn’t find any reputable sources proving these functions.

Question?

Have you ever heard of patchouli?  If so, in what products have you used it?

New Blog Series-Spicing Your Way to Health!

3 Mar

Spicing Your Way to Health with Curcumin

Here are Naturally Healthy and Gorgeous, we are going to start a new blog series called “Spicing your way to Health.”  In this series, we will focus on spices with documented health benefits and discuss easy and delicious ways you can add these spices to your everyday eating.  Today, we are going to talk about Curcumin.

What is curcumin?

Curcumin is the principal curcuminoid of the popular Indian spice turmeric.  Tumeric is part of the ginger family (Zingiberaceae) (source).

Curcumin has been used since 700 AD by Indian and Chinese traditional medicine doctors for numerous diseases such as bronchitis, colds, parasitic worms, leprosy, arthritis and inflammations of bladder, liver, kidney and skin, and to help fever and diarrhea (source)

What health benefits does curcumin have?

A surpurising number of health benefits ahve been linked to curcumin:

  • It has shown to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antiproliferative effects
  • It has shown in vitro and in vivo to potentlaly target pathways involved in creating Alzheimer disease thus having the potential to halt its progression or initiation (source)
  • It has shown to lower plasma and hepatic cholesterol and halt early atherosclerotic lesions similar to the drug lovastatin (source)
  • It has shown to prevent several cancers in cell lines (source)
  • It has suggested that it may help digestive diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome, colitis, Crohn’s disease and bacterial and parasitic diseases (source)
  • It has shown to help patients with Ulcerative Colitis maintain remission (source)
  • It has shown to inhibit HIV replication in vitro (source)

Safety issues

Studies using 2-12 grams of curcumin have shown limited side effects such as mild nausea or diarrhea.(source)

Curcumin has shown to potentially cause iron deficiency in susceptible patients(source)

How can I eat curcumin?

Spicy Chicken Marsala from Sunday Mercury.net   They actually talk about the health benefits too!

Tumeric Roasted Cauliflower from Huffington Post

Shrimp with Tumeric and Mustard Seeds from Jane Spice

Chili Red Lentil Soup from The Real Nutritionista

Question?

Do you like curcumin?  What is your favorite way to eat it?