Category Archives: Heart and Cardio Health

The Therapeutic Benefits of Vitamin E

Written by Katolen Yardley, MNIMH ~ Medical Herbalist

A powerful antioxidant and used for immune system support, Vitamin E is known for its ability to help prevent degenerative conditions as cancer, cardiovascular disease, anemia, cataracts and some signs of premature aging; while promoting healthy nerves and muscles, speeding the healing of wounds, strengthening capillaries and promoting healthy, youthful skin, hair and nails. The most widely known health benefits of vitamin E are protection against toxins such as air pollution, premenstrual syndrome, eye disorders such as cataracts, neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes.

 Antioxidant properties

  • Vitamin E, along with other vitamins C, B3, beta carotene, selenium and glutathione, protect healthy cells from the effects of oxidative stress caused by free radicals within our bodies.
  • Due to pollution, cigarette smoke, air pollution, ultraviolet radiation. or other oxidative factors, free radicals may increase and exceed the body’s ability to  neutralise their harmful effects; these unstable compounds can damage our healthy cells, leading to premature aging and possibly contributing to diseases such as atherosclerosis and cancer and other chronic disease. Free radicals are highly reactive molecules that contain a free/ unshared electron. Antioxidants offer a spare electron – binding to the unstable free radical- and help protect against the accelerated cell destruction and other damaging effects.
  • The majority of vitamin E’s benefits stem from its antioxidant qualities. It protects polyunsaturated fats and other oxygen-sensitive compounds such as vitamin A from being destroyed by damaging oxidation reactions. There is significant evidence vitamin E can protect against heart disease and may slow the deterioration associated with aging.
  • Vitamin E also acts as an antioxidant in foods. The vitamin E in vegetable oils acts as a natural preservative, keeping food from being oxidized and turning rancid.

Women’s Health

  • An excellent supplement for managing hot flushes in pre or post menopause as well as helping to minimise vaginal dryness
  • Used in prenatal conception preparation as it is thought to be THE fertility vitamin for both men and women.
  • Women who suffer from fibrocystic breast disease can often find relief with vitamin E supplementation. Fibrocystic breast disease is characterized by painful breasts, sometimes with benign lumps or swelling, starting several days before the menstrual period.

Skin Protection

  • Whether applied topically or ingested, vitamin E can protect our skin from ultraviolet radiation, thus guarding us from both skin cancer and premature aging.
  • Vitamin E applied topically to cuts may increase the healing rate as it minimizes oxidation reactions in the wound.
  • Because of its antioxidant properties, vitamin E supplementation can help improve circulation of blood to the scalp. Vitamin E helps strengthen capillary walls while nourishing for both healthy skin and hair.

Immune Enhancement & Cancer Prevention

  • In addition to its activities as an antioxidant, vitamin E is involved in immune function and, as shown primarily by in vitro studies of cells, working with cell signaling, regulation of gene expression, and other metabolic processes. Studies have reported that a diet rich in vitamin E may lessen the likelihood of bladder and prostate cancer.
  • A dynamic cancer fighter, vitamin E helps to protects cell and DNA from damage that can turn cancerous. It helps to reduces the growth of tumors while enhancing immune function and preventing precancerous substances from being turned into carcinogens. Studies with mice show that vitamin E applied to the skin may help prevent skin cancer resulting from exposure to ultraviolet radiation.

Cholesterol Reduction

  • Vitamin E protects artery walls and keeps the “bad” low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol from being oxidized. Oxidation of LDL cholesterol marks the beginning of clogged arteries. Vitamin E also helps to keep the blood thin by preventing blood platelets from clumping together.

Anti-Inflammatory

  • Research has also shown that gamma-tocopherol possesses anti-inflammatory effects that can combat arthritis, rheumatism, asthma, and other inflammatory disorders linked to chronic inflammation.

Blood Thinning Properties

Vitamin E can help to thin the blood which is another significant health benefit. In other words, it prevents the blood platelets from clumping. High levels of vitamin E reduce the risk of sunstroke and coronary artery disorder or heart disease. An excellent supplement as a blood thinner, instead of the over marketed aspirin (linked to gastric bleeding, erosion and numerous other side effects) – Vitamin E is a safe alternative. Always consult your holistic health care provider prior to use if using blood thinners such as warfarin or Coumadin and ensure that you are discontinue Vitamin E for at least 1 week prior if you have a scheduled surgery.

Additional Health Benefits

  • Premature babies often receive vitamin E to reduce or prevent oxygen damage to the retina of the eye as a result of artificial ventilation.
  • Vitamin E can be beneficial to people with diabetes. It enhances the action of insulin and improves blood glucose metabolism by reducing oxidative stress.
  • Nervous system health by offering protection to the myelin sheaths that surround nerves. It also may help to prevent mental degeneration due to aging, possibly including Alzheimer disease. Recent studies have reported improved short-term memory in older adults who took supplemental vitamin E. While vitamin E may not make you live longer, it may help you live a little better as you get older.

How to choose the Right Supplement

Synthetic versus Natural:  Read the fine print and make sure you are taking the natural source of Vitamin E – identified as d’ alpha tocopherol – generally made from wheat germ or soy   -do not use the synthetic vitamin E (dl’alpha tocopherol) – the presence of the ‘L” means its lousy / synthetic – (for memories sake) and sadly created from petroleum based products, dl’alpha tocopherol is not natural at all and has few- if any- health enhancement benefits.

Vitamin E is the generic name for “tocopherol” and is available in various forms. Commonly sold as a supplement as d’alpha tocopherol (read the fine print) there are actually numerous types of vitamin E such as: alpha-, beta-, gamma-, and delta-tocopherol and alpha-, beta-, gamma-, and delta-tocotrienol.

Vitamin E Succinate: is generally sold in an oil encapsulated form, however for those with a preference to avoid oil based products, it is also available in a pure dry powder form as natural d’Alpha Tocopherylacid succinate for longer shelf-life. This dry form of vitamin E is popular with those who wish to avoid oil-based products for any reason.

Mixed Tocopherol Vitamin E: Mixed tocopherols are vitamin E products that contain not only the d’ alpha tocopherol, but also the beta, delta, and gamma forms, providing full spectrum antioxidant support and the largest health benefits. This blend of tocopherols work synergistically as a team for maximum benefit.  A mixed tocopherol vitamin E provides the most optimal protection from free radicals and products of oxygenation, including lipid peroxides and oxygen free radicals. The Thorne Research Ultimate Vitamin E uses mixed tocopherols extracted from a mixture of vegetable oils, including soy oil. However, any potentially allergenic soy residues are removed during the distillation process and, unlike most vitamin E products on the market, Ultimate-E is not diluted with soy oil.

Enhance absorption of Vitamin E by eating a few raw nuts -almonds and walnuts- unroasted and unsalted- alongside the supplement each day.

Many studies conducted on vitamin E have sadly been done using the synthetic vitamin E, which clearly will have a different effect in the body, than a natural source. Most recent studies are showing the benefit on using Vitamin E combined with additional antioxidants (Vitamin C, beta carotene, Co Enzyme Q 10, L Glutamine) for their synergistic protective effect on the immune system in the body.

 Information given here is for consumer education only. It is not meant to replace the advice of a qualified health care professional, nor does intend to diagnose or treat disease.

 

Health benefits of Resveratrol

~ written by Katolen Yardley, MNIMH, Medical Herbalist

Resveratrol has been sold as a nutritional supplement for the last 5 or so years, yet the health benefits of this supplement are just now becoming more widely known, spoken about and recognised in mainstream media. Resveratrol is a type of polyphenol, an antioxidant compound found in many foods and plants such as blueberries, bilberries, cranberries, rhubarb and grapes…which is one of the reason studies cite the benefits of drinking a glass of red wine daily. Grapes naturally produce resveratrol on their skins as a natural defence mechanism to protect from pathogens, fungus, viruses and bacteria overgrowth.

As Hippocrates said, “let food be your medicine and medicine be your food”, the plants, berries and whole foods that we eat and are grown in our local environment can also provide our human bodies with needed nutrients for our own immune enhancement, and protection from dis-ease. Recent research on resveratrol indicates benefits for general and specific immune enhancement, heart health, cancer (by inhibiting angiogenesis inhibiting the development of new blood vessels which feed tumors), and inflammation. Studies also indicate benefit in reducing cholesterol in the body, namely by a reduction of LDL cholesterol (the harmful cholesterol) and triglyceride levels, reducing the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

The antioxidant effects of Resveratrol are also widely known, resveratrol helps to neutralise free radicals before they can damage healthy cells and protect cells damaged from environmental pollutants. Resveratrol also helps to decrease COX1, an enzyme that increases inflammatory substances which promote tumor growth. Resveratrol shows an ability to enhance life extension and healthy aging in clinical studies and promote longevity.

Studies have shown that resveratrol is difficult to absorb, thus for best absorption, combine its use with other bioflavinoids such as lutein or quercetin. Discontinue this supplement prior to surgery and consult your health care provider prior to use in pregnancy and lactation. Consult your holistic health care provider prior to use if taking anticoagulant medications.

Health benefits of Resveratrol include:

  • Lowering insulin resistance, a precursor to type 2 diabetes.
  • Enhancing longevity by reducing the risk of chronic and degenerative disorders
  • Protection of blood vessel walls
  • Decreased platelet aggregation, reducing the risk of heart attacks and stroke
  • Helps to prevent or reduce plaque formation, a component in Alzheimers, and other neurodegenerative diseases, and prevent brain injury due to stroke, a neuroprotective agent
  • Counteracts insulin resistance, offering protection from diabetes
  • Prolongs the life of cells in the body
  • Blocks compounds which cause inflammation
  • Offers protection from cancer by interfering with the development of blood vessel formation nourishing a tumor

Dosage: Recent studies indicate daily supplementation of 500 mg of resveratrol or higher for full health enhancement benefits. Resveratrol may also help to promote weight loss, by suppressing estrogen production, thereby decreasing body fat and increasing lean muscle mass.  To order Resveratrol capsules, click here.

What are some benefits of Infrared Sauna Sessions?

“What health conditions can be improved from the use of a far infrared sauna?”

Infrared sauna therapy is specifically designed to create a comfortable, deep, penetrating heat thereby leading to an increase in core body temperature, a raise in metabolism and subsequent profuse sweating which has numerous health benefits including:

  • Cleansing and Detoxification
  • Heavy metal detoxification
  • Skin health (acne, eczema, psoriasis, wound healing, and scar tissue)
  • Assists with the breakdown of cellulite
  • Supports healthy immune response
  • Pain relief (from Arthritis, Back pain, Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia, Headaches)
  • Weight loss (burns up to 600 calories in one 30 minute session)
  • Heart disease (clinically shown to lower blood pressure)
  • Women’s Health
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Stress management
  • Increased circulation, elevated blood pressure
  • Athletic injury and recovery, post exercise pain,
  • Muscle and Joint pain, soft tissue injury, muscle spasms, stiffness, adhesions, shoulder pain, tight shoulders

Disclaimer: The information contained within is not meant to replace the clinic advice of a doctor or your main health care practitioner nor does it address individual circumstances. The data and opinions contained in the information are solely for information and educational purposes only.

Almost anyone can use a far infrared sauna, with just a few exceptions, however if one has a specific health condition it is important to consult your primary care provider prior to use.

Hemophiliacs and women who are pregnant or who might be pregnant are NOT advised to use the sauna. Individuals with MS and Lupus may find benefit from the sauna at a lower temperature.

For more information on our infrared sauna sessions and to book a sauna appointment contact us at: 604 683 2298 or info@alchemyelixir.com

Super Circulation! 20 Simple Tips for Improving Circulation

~ written by Katolen Yardley, MNIMH, Medical Herbalist

Circulatory problems can be a sign of underlying and undiagnosed health concerns such as varicose veins, thrombosis and plaque buildup in the arteries, high or low blood pressure, chilblains, Reynauds syndrome, and diabetes. Tingling, burning,or pins and needle sensations in the hands and toes are also common signs of circulatory issues and should be specifically addressed by your medical herbalist. A lack of oxygen to the tissues due to disrupted circulation can lead to a whitish or bluish hue to the fingers and toes; and when left untreated, gangrene may result from chronic contraction of the arteries.

Tips for Improving Circulation

  1. Cut out smoking! Many chemicals added to commercial tobacco are known carcinogens (known to be cancer causing) and are extremely damaging to the heart and circulatory system. It is understood that smoking contributes to elevated cholesterol levels by affecting the livers biofeedback mechanisms ~ mechanisms that regulate how much cholesterol is manufactured. Smoking is known to promote platelet aggregation (clumping) and increase the risk of heart disease and strokes.
  2. Decrease the consumption of tea, coffee and caffeinated drinks ~such as cola and red bull. Caffeine constricts blood vessels and decreases peripheral circulation, leading to a rise in blood pressure. A high intake of caffeine in tea or coffee promotes the ‘fight or flight’ response, raises the blood pressure and contributes to irritability.
  3. Replace the salt and pepper shaker with cayenne pepper powder. Use cayenne pepper to season your food and keep on the counter where you normally would keep the salt shaker. Traditionally, Cayenne is known to improve circulation and improve blood flow throughout the body.
  4. Add freshly chopped garlic to ones diet. Garlic is known for both enhancing immune system function and for its heart health benefits. Studies on garlic have shown it to be helpful for improving cholesterol levels and decrease the likelihood of platelet clumping.
  5. Keep fresh ginger in your pantry and chop, grate or slice the fresh root, adding it to soups, stews, stir fries or even herbal teas for an added spicy flavor. Ginger is known to improve circulation and blood flow to the hands and feet, traditionally used for chilblains, and gently easing the symptoms of frostbite.
  6. Herbal Teas are ideal for improving and supporting healthy circulation: Herbal teas such as ginger root, hawthorn berries, yarrow flowers, linden leaves, rosemary leaves, ginkgo leaves are all rich in flavonoids and have the effect of strengthening the walls of blood vessels, improving circulation and used long term for reducing hypertension.
  7. Reduce stress levels: Long term stress can cause a domino effect of health concerns in the body. Continuous stress increases the release of adrenalin into the blood stream, leading to a rise in blood pressure. Deep breathing techniques, stress management, regular exercise, yoga and tai chi can all go a long way to reduce the impact that stress plays on the body.
  8. Uncross your legs. Frequent leg crossing looks pleasing to the eye, but can hinder circulation, further contributing to broken veins and spider veins.
  9. Choose Movement! Instead of sitting for long periods of time, take a moment to raise up both legs off the floor and flex and point your toes OR take a time-out moment and walk. Sitting for long periods of time can decrease blood flowing to the peripheries and raise the risk of thrombosis ~ clot formations in veins deep within the body.
  10. Witch hazel water applied topically to the skin is cooling to local inflammation and promotes circulation.
  11. Consume buckwheat. This tasty grain is packed full of bioflavonoids which assist to enhance circulation.
  12. Horseradish: this spicy condiment is traditionally consumed to alleviate symptoms of sinus congestion and to improve poor circulation.
  13. Home remedies for circulatory issues: Due to direct exposure to the cold, chilblains can cause surface inflammation, itching and redness of the hands and feet. Traditional home remedies include rubbing the affected hands and feet with raw onion, or bathing in potato water, (hot water containing grated fresh potato). Apple cider vinegar is also used to improve circulation and used as a topical soak. Essential oils such as ginger, cypress, and release essential oil blend can be diluted in a base oil and rubbed topically on the hands and feet and areas of poor circulation.
  14. Traditionally, Gingko biloba has been used to increase the blood flow to the upper part of the body. Individuals on blood thinners should consult their medical herbalist prior to use.
  15. Regular exercise: Increasing the pumping mechanism of the heart is extremely important for cardiovascular health ~ as exercise enhances blood flow, improves the circulation of blood from the heart to the peripheries, helps reduce obesity and regulates blood pressure.
  16. Decrease the intake of trans fatty acids (bad fats contained in margarine, shortening, and most processed foods) and avoid deep fried and fatty foods; instead increase the intake on Omega 3 fatty acids in forms such as flax seed oil, fish oils, extra virgin olive oil increase the intake of deep sea- cold water fish such as: mackerel, herring, salmon and halibut ~ especially rich in Omega 3. Or take Nutra Sea Oil, a high quality fish oil supplement.
  17. Dry skin brushing aids poor circulation; use a vegetable bristle brush and begin brushing from the feet and work up towards the heart, brushing in a clockwise motion. Avoid brushing over areas of varicose veins, thin skin or open wounds.
  18. Increase the intake of fiber: fiber can help lower elevated cholesterol levels. Foods high in fiber include: psyllium seed powder, oat bran, brown rich, beans, onions, pears, peas, and broccoli.
  19. Coenzyme Q 10: helps to improve tissue oxygenation.
  20. Keep hands and feet warm in cold weather and wear gloves whenever possible.

Quercetin: The Anti Allergy Supplement

~ written by Katolen Yardley, MNIMH, Medical Herbalist

Known as THE anti allergy supplement, Quercetin is a bioflavonoid found in the white material beneath the peel of citrus fruits. Quercetin is the ideal supplement for individuals experiencing seasonal and chronic allergies and helps to inhibit the bodies manufacture and release of histamine, strengthen cell membranes and prevent the formation of other allergic compounds, which all contribute to the symptoms of seasonal allergies.

  • An antioxidant and anti allergy remedy, used to minimize symptoms of runny nose, sneezing, and watery eyes.
  • Quercetin can be used as a safe alternative to anti histamine drugs (and does not cause drowsiness) or can be used in conjunction with other treatment to strengthen the bodies natural resistance to allergies.
  • Quercetin may benefit asthma suffers by suppressing two inflammatory mediators, histamine and leukotrienes.

Tips for using Quercetin:

Best taken with Bromelain, Pineapple or digestive enzymes for enhanced absorption and elevating its anti inflammatory effects.

Dosing for allergies and asthma suffers: The adult dose of Quercetin is at least 750-1000 mg of Quercetin taken in divided dosages throughout the day. To order Quercetin, click here:

Why Bioflavonoids?

 ~ written by Katolen Yardley, MNIMH, Medical Herbalist

During winter months it is common for people to begin using their Vitamin C supplement for both cold and flu prevention and to enhance immune system function.

Unbeknownst to many, bioflavonoids taken together with Vitamin C actually enhance the absorption of the Vitamin C supplement, increasing its benefit to the body. Bioflavonoids, also known as Vitamin P, are used to enhance the absorption and therapeutic effects of Vitamin C. Some types of Bioflavonoids include quercetin, rutin and hesperetin. Not supplied by the body, we must obtain the benefits of these nutrients from the foods that we eat and through nutritional supplements.

Bioflavonoids work together with Vitamin C to:

  • Strengthen the walls of blood vessels and capillaries.
  • Help to prevent and minimize bruising.
  • Help treat varicose veins and promote circulation.
  • Enhances white blood cells response to Vitamin C,  offering increased resistance to infection, and enhancing Vitamin C’s anti viral and anti bacterial effects in the body.
  • Help to prevent vision problems associated with intraocular pressure and assist in cataract prevention.
  • Help to treat gum disease, heal swollen bleeding gums and retard plaque buildup.
  • Strengthens the collagen structures in the arteries, helps to lower total cholesterol levels and raise HDL (healthy) cholesterol levels.

Bioflavonoids are found in peppers, buckwheat, apricots, the white rind inside of the peel of citrus fruits, berries, rosehips, blueberries, grapefruits, watercress, kale, elderberries, paprika, garlic and onions. Ensure that your choice of Vitamin C, contains bioflavonoids (as many excellent quality supplements, combine them together) or take an extra supplement of mixed bioflavonoids with your vitamin C to enhance the absorption.

Understanding Vitamin D…

written by Katolen Yardley, MNIMH, Medical Herbalist

During the winter months of limited sunlight exposure or in the case of individuals who rarely are exposed to sunlight, vitamin D deficiencies may be prevalent.

Known as the sunshine vitamin and manufactured on the skin, Vitamin D is converted by the liver to an inactive storage form called calcidiol (25-hyrdoxy vitamin D) and then converted again by the kidneys into the biologically active form 1,25-dihydroxy Vitamin D (also known as 1,25 dihydroxycholecalciferal), which is stored in fat calls and also circulates through the bloodstream.

Vitamin D is involved in the production of numerous proteins and enzymes used to fight disease, repair muscles, strengthen bones and maintain overall health. Vitamin D works with Magnesium to stimulate the absorption of Calcium into the bones and works best taken together with these minerals.

When outdoors and before application of a sunscreen, exposure of the arms, legs and face to the suns ultraviolet rays for 15 minutes daily will likely ensure adequate levels of Vitamin D synthesis into the body.

Studies indicate that deficiencies of Vitamin D can be a contributing factor in the development of colon cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, infectious disease, and inflammatory bowel disease and auto immune dysfunction such as: rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and multiple sclerosis. Research is also indicating that daily Vitamin D supplementation offers protection against the development of rickets, osteoporosis, colorectal, prostate and breast cancer. Supplementation with Vitamin D cannot guarantee the development of these disorders; however it is certainly one of many nutrients known to protect the body from onset of chronic disorders.

Food sources of Vitamin D include salt water fish, egg yolks, dandelion greens, sweet potatoes, tuna, vegetable oils, salmon, halibut, sardines, herring, mackerel, parsley, nettle, horsetail and alfalfa.

Individuals suffering from malabsorption problems such as celiac disease or crohn’s may not be absorbing adequate amounts of Vitamin D; certain medications such as some cholesterol medications, antacids, mineral oil, steroids, cortisone and thiazide diuretics can also interfere with absorption of Vitamin D.

In supplement form, there are 2 types of Vitamin D: Naturally occurring and the most active form, D3 or cholecalciferol (from fish oil, eggs, organ meats, sheep’s wool, cod liver oil and plant sources)and the synthetic, irradiated D2 or ergocalciferol, (less biologically active) and found in fortified foods, fortified milkand some supplements.

Ensure you take only the naturally occurring pure Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), as the body assimilates this in the same way that it uses Vitamin D formed from sunlight. Avoid ingestion of the synthetic Vitamin D2, as similar to many synthetic products, the synthetic Vitamin D has been shown to be toxic in high dosages.

Determine your need for supplementation with Vitamin D before you take it. A lack of vitamin D will contribute to many chronic illnesses however like many fat soluble vitamins, Vitamin D is stored in the body thus taking too much is not desirable; request a calcidiol 25-hydroxyvitamin D (or a 25(OH)D) blood test from your doctor to determine if you are deficient. Ideal calcidiol [25-hydroxy vitamin D] levels are between 35-65 ng/ml [87-162 nm/L], year around.

Individuals with sarcoidosis, tuberculosis, or lymphoma should avoid the use of Vitamin D supplementation without first consulting a health care professional.

For more reading please click on the following Vitamin D links:

The Cholecalciferol Council

Chai Tea Recipe

Making delicious herbal Chai Tea at home is quite straight forward, you will only need some basic ingredients and creativity. Ensure that the herbs you are using are potent and relatively fresh, they should possess their characteristic aromatic scent before blending them into the tea and not be faded in color.

In a sauce pan with a tight fitting lid combine the following:

Bring water to a boil. Reduce heat,to a low temperature. Add all ingredients and simmer,covered for at least 20 minutes. The herbs can be simmered longer for a stronger, more spicy flavor. This tea can be sweetened with stevia or honey.

Options: For a creamy smooth drink you can also add in almond milk or coconut milk. Adding in 1 teaspoon of green tea to the mixture will produce a stronger variation. Or for a completely different spicy fruit flavor, add in hibiscus flowers.

The Importance of Label Reading: Choosing Quality Nutritional Supplements

~ written by Katolen Yardley, MNIMH, Medical Herbalist

When choosing a multivitamin or nutritional supplement, reading over the list of non medicinal ingredients is as important as checking out the strength of the active ingredients.

The August, 1990 issue of the Alive Magazine, an informative Canadian Holistic Health Magazine states that in the last 30 years, food additives alone have increased by an alarming 1000 %! Numerous additives, fillers and colorings placed in over-the-counter products, pharmaceutical and prescription pills and packaged foods have been documented to have cumulative and harmfuleffects on our health.

Label reading is crucial for your health and the health of your family.Take the time to educate yourself and consciously choose to avoid ingesting additional chemicals in your food, supplements and prescription medication.

Not all nutritional supplements are manufactured with the same diligent care and high standards as others. While there are many excellent, quality oriented companies committed to improving the health and wellbeing of their clients; there are unfortunately also other companies are clearly more concerned with profit than quality.

In my opinion if a supplement contains a long list of non-medicinal ingredients, complete with chemical sounding names, then it is likely NOT the best quality product. Become an expert label reader. Take the time to read the fine print of all pills and supplements, compare one item with another brand, educate yourself on the names of harmful ingredients and learn how to avoid products containing unnecessary ingredients.

What to look for when choosing high quality supplements? The absence of some non-medicinal ingredients is as important as what the product actually contains. Below is a list of non-medicinal ingredients that are best avoided.

According to “A Consumers Guide of Food Additives”, the highly recommended book written by Ruth Winters and published in 2004, the following ingredients have detrimental effects in the body:

  • Aspartame and artificial sweeteners: Aspartame contains methanol, (a poison, which breaks down into formic acid and formaldehyde in the body. Formaldehyde is a deadly nerve toxin) and phenylalanine. Excessive levels of phenylalanine in the brain has been found to decrease the levels of seratonin in the brain, leading to emotional disorders such as depression. It was shown in human studies that phenylalanine levels of the blood were increased significantly in human subjects who chronically used aspartame. Aspartame is also linked to many documented adverse reactions include: headaches/migraines, dizziness, seizures, nausea, numbness, muscle spasms, weight gain, rashes, depression, fatigue, irritability, tachycardia, insomnia, vision problems, hearing loss, heart palpitations, breathing difficulties, anxiety attacks, slurred speech, loss of taste, tinnitus, vertigo, memory loss, and joint pain, to name a few…
  • FD & C Blue # 2: a colorings agent derived from coal tar, shown to be carcinogenic in animal studies.
  • FD & C Red # 3: another coal tar derivative, also shown to be carcinogenic, may interfere with message relay in the nervous system. (Also found as the coloring agent in maraschino cherries!)
  • FD & C Red # 40: Allura Red: one of the newest colors, not yet established as safe!
  • FD & C Yellow # 5: Tartrazine, derived from coal tar, used primarily in the soft drink industry and found in some lower quality childrens multivitamins. Chemically similar to aspirin, those allergic to aspirin often have an allergy to tartrazine. It is stated in the above reference book that over 60 % of over the counter prescriptions contain tartrazine. Reactions include asthma, rhinitis, rashes, nasal congestion, and changes in mental behavior.
  • FD & C Yellow # 6: (also known as monoazo sunset yellow) an artificial coloring agent, thought to cause allergic reactions.
  • Hydrogenated Soybean Oil: is converted from polyunsaturated fat to saturated fat and can affect the levels of fat in the blood leading to clogged arteries.
  • Avoid any products containing Sucralose, Splenda or any other artificial sweeteners.
  • Hydrogenated vegetable oil: contains MSG, a flavor enhancer linked to allergic reactions, headaches, dizziness,throat constriction and chest pain.
  • Hydrolysed Protein: Hydrolysed Vegetable Protein: a flavor enhancer that also contains MSG, it is recommended that there be a limit placed on the amounts of MSG consumed in children due to its neuro toxic affects in the body. For additional information on MSG click here.
  • Mineral Oil: derived from petroleum based products, known to be carcinogenic, with a toxic effect on the immune system.
  • Lactose: a milk sugar that is best avoided for any individuals with a dairy sensitivity.
  • Isopropyl alcohol: a solvent, also used in antifreeze compositions, prepared from peopylene obtained in the cracking of petroleum.
  • Hydrolysed polyvinyl alcohol: a synthetic resin, thought to be carcinogenic and tumor inducing.
  • Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT): a preservative thought to be toxic to the kidneys, by converting into toxic substances or cancer causing agents. BHT isprohibited as an additive in the United Kingdom.

While I will refrain from listing the brands of common commercial supplements best to be avoided; I will suggest however, that choosing health minded, (often) smaller companies committed to quality and consumer education is the best choice, rather than supporting big pharma companies…and it does pay off to take the time to read the labels of nutritional supplements before selecting your choice.Remember: The non-medicinal ingredients are as important as the nutritional content and vitamins listed.

In particular, keep your eyes open for listings of sugar, sucrose and artificial colorings (no one needs unnecessary sugars and fillers, particularly in their multivitamin!).

As some companies conveniently omit the listing of the fillers used in their products, one can not assume that simply not listing the ingredients means that the product is clean. Specifically look for the listing of the non-medicinal ingredients or find a comment stating that the product specifically does not contain additives and fillers.

A positive indication of quality is companies which specifically state on their label, the absence of particular items. On the label, a high quality supplement should specifically list: “contains NO artificial preservatives, artificial colorings, sugar or starch, wheat and dairy”.

White Tea

The least processed of all teas, the flavor of white tea is the closest to fresh, pure tea leaves. The leaves undergo two steps during processing. First, the leaves are withered and then they are immediately baked in the sun. Like black and green teas, white tea contains numerous antioxidant compounds called polyphenols (flavonoids and catechins specifically).

Catechins provide protective antioxidant action against harmful free radicals in the body. Research shows that these free radicals are involved in heart disease, some kinds of cancer and increase the risk of strokes. Due to its high antioxidant components, drinking white tea may potentially help to protect against cardiovascular disease, supports immune system function, may help to lower elevated cholesterol levels, promotes strength and integrity of blood vessels and helps to promote healthy teeth and bones.

In addition, white tea is a source of nutrients containing magnesium, managanese, potassium, calcium, and the vitamins C and K all in trace amounts.

White teas contain the least amount of caffeine of all teas, generally ranging in the cup from 5-15 milligrams.

White Narcissus Peony, also known as Pai Mu Tan (Pai means “white” and Mu Tan “peony”)-is a high quality, elegant White Tea. White Narcissus Peony tea is produced in China’s Fujian province during the early spring, by carefully selecting only the finest tender buds of the white tea plant. This results in a unique nutty, bamboo fragrance and a sweet, savory taste.

In the evening, sip white teas before or after a light meal or enjoy on its own to savor its subtle taste. To truly appreciate the delicate flavor avoid drinking with strong flavors or spicy foods and makes an excellent drink for those seeking the health benefits of Green Tea, but who prefer a more subtle flavor and aroma.