Category Archives: Immune System

Lifestyle Tips for Boosting Whole Body Health

With the New Year right around the corner- jump start your health goals by incorporating new lifestyle tips and routines into your new year!!

1. Incorporate tonic herbs into your daily routine (including Maca, Siberian Ginseng, Astragalus, Rhodiola and Ashwagandha), to build the bodies endurance and stamina, offering resistance from stressful conditions and support for immune system function.

2. Consider Medicinal Mushrooms: rebuild and restore immunity with mushrooms such as Shitake, Maitake, Oyster, Reishi, Enokitake mushrooms; add into cooking recipes and take in supplement form for stronger immune modulating, anti inflammatory actions, to enhance liver function and raise energy levels. Chaga is another unique mushroom which offers specific support to the digestive system, including ulcers, and symptoms of irritable bowel disease.

3. Boost your bodies’ detoxification ability by drinking herbal infusions (teas) such as Nettles, Burdock, Dandelion root or Cleavers. These herbs are traditionally referred to as alteratives which support the function of the organs of cleansing and elimination.

4. Xenoestrogens: Read labels -identify potential endocrine disruptors –and reduce exposure— familiar yourself with the names of low level hormone disruptors or estrogen mimickers -hidden ingredients in our cosmetics, plastics, pharmaceuticals, food, and personal care products. Xenoestrogens, are a group of chemicals present in the environment and in products we use every day, which mimic the effects of estrogen and disrupt normal hormone function. Combined with the estrogen naturally produced by the body, these foreign chemicals can create an excess of estrogen (and contribute to issues with fertility and reproductive health) and chemical sensitivity — many are also known carcinogens. Items to avoid include: phthalates, parabens, plastics (BPA, PETA), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and butylates hydroxyanisole (BHA). To assist in ridding these agents from the body consider Crucera SGS, Indole 3 Carbinol and Calcium d glucarate.

5. Remove chemical toxins from your home by choosing biodegradable cleaning products or better yet, create your own home cleaning products by using vinegar, baking soda and pure essential oils.

6. Daily ‘skin brushing’ using a dry vegetable bristle brush, will improve circulation and stimulate drainage from the lymphatic system.

7. Choose Organic – to remove chemicals such as pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers (which are also xenoestrogens!), focus on foods in whole form not from a package (boxed or canned) and read labels -if there a list of long chemicals in the ingredients then avoid these foods.

8. Cultivate gratitude: give thanks for what is good in your life – focus and appreciate on that which contributes to ones peace of mind and happiness including community (family and friends), sunshine, an abundance of accessible healthy food, and our right to a variety of educated health care choices.

Katolen Yardley, MNIMH ~ a Medical Herbalist in private practice in British Columbia – is now accepting new clients. www.katolenyardley.com

 

Health Risks of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)

 

GMO Health Risks: Dr Thierry Vrain

GMO Health Risks: Dr Thierry Vrain

Dr. Thierry Vrain, formerly Head of Biotechnology at Agriculture Canada’s Summerland Research Station, was once a supporter of GMO. He has in the last 10 years changed his position after paying attention to the flow of published studies coming from Europe that questioned the impact and safety of engineered food and is now sharing his concerns. Help keep Genetically E Free nanaimo and a GE Free BC.

Watch this informative You Tube video for more information here: GMO’s Explained: Dr. Thierry Vrain “The Gene Revolution Best viewed in full screen mode: Filmed at an open public forum in Surrey BC on the topic of GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms).

This report was presented to the City Council of Nanaimo, BC Monday Sept 25, 2013 – reprinted with permission from Thierry Vrain – read on…

“Members of this Council,

I came to thank you for taking the time to educate yourself about this issue before the vote at UBCM on a resolution to create a GE Free BC.

My name is Dr. Vrain,  some of you, I think, were given a link to a TED Talk I gave three months ago.  I was a soil biologist and a genetic engineer with the Research Branch of Agriculture Canada for 30 years.   I was the head of the Department of Biotechnology until I retired in 2012 after the completion of the Human Genome Project.   I will come back to that.

I am trying to impress you that unlike most people I can spell DNA and even recombinant DNA.  I was the spokesperson of my Institute in Summerland during those years and took it on as my responsibility to educate the public.  I spoke publicly about the hopes of the engineered technology, and how precise and safe it all is.   I retired in 2012 because the Human Genome Project was completed.  And the answer was very clear.  That genetic engineering technology was not at all the precise technology it claimed.  The transgenes are inserted at random in the genome of the plants.  Complete random.   What we learned from the Human Genome Project is that the genome is a complex ecosystem, absolutely not based on the one gene one protein hypothesis which is the premise of the genetic engineering technology.

Sorry to use all these big words.  Stay with me.  This is a good story.

The genetic engineering technology I was working with was based on a wrong assumption that we would produce one protein per event.  The new paradigm said that we were inserting  foreign constructs in the middle of an ultra sensitive ecosystem of genes.  It’s like introducing a new pest in a sensitive ecosystem.   Not good.  Some of the misshaped proteins resulting from the genetic insertions may turn out harmful.  That would mean that the old paradigm of safety and naïve simplicity was not valid and the rogue proteins created potentially dangerous.   I could not justify what I did anymore, and I could not in good faith reassure the public that the technology was innocuous.    During my time in Research,  I studied many scientific publications sponsored by the biotech Industry and I came to the conclusion that the engineered crops and foods are totally safe to eat, provide greater yields and make the farmers rich, require less pesticides and cannot possibly have any effect on our environment.

But in the last 10 to 15 years there is also a large body of scientific publications, peer reviewed, many in prestigious Journals, that tell exactly the opposite.   The appearance of super weeds and superbugs did not surprise anybody in the science world.  They were fully expected.  Even by the chemical industries that have prepared just in time the next generation of herbicide tolerance.  With 2-4 D.  That’s agent orange during the Vietnam war.  Less the dioxin of course.  I mean, I assume we are not going to spray any dioxin residues in our countryside like we did in Vietnam.

Wouldn’t this transition to a new chemical system of farming be a perfect time for growers to come out of their feudal position with the seed and chemical input Industries.

This body of science makes it clear that the yields in Europe are higher than in America – yields per acre of course.  They do not refuse the technology because of superweeds or superbugs or falling prey – economically speaking, to the Industry.   They refuse it mostly on the grounds of this body of research with mice and rats and pigs and other animals.  And the story is about some toxic principles from engineered food that damage organs: liver, uterus, kidneys, brain, or some other proteins that cause allergies – particularly from the mis-shaped Bt proteins.  And yes.  There is definitely a hug increase in cancer and other related hormonal imbalances

The scientists of the Food and Drug administration in the USA knew that already in 1996 when the first engineered crops were released commercially without being tested.   The administration went over the verdict of its own experts.  They predicted that engineered crops and engineered foods would contain rogue proteins – inevitably produced by the invasive technology.  They predicted that some of these proteins would be toxic, cause allergies and organ damage, nutritional problems, and other illnesses.

Mr Wager who will speak after me is going to tell you that we must have this technology to feed a hungry planet.  This is complete fallacy.  It is well documented that this technology does not increase yields.  The herbicide tolerance technology – RoundUp Ready crops, have been shown to yield less than their non engineered counterparts.  In Europe, corn yields have been significantly superior to North America in the last 10 years.  They do not use this technology in Europe.

Mr Wager is going to tell you that this technology decreases the need for pesticides.  An unexpected goal for a chemical company – turned life company now.  Yes they have patented life.   The seeds are patented.  They are not sold.  They are leased.   You cannot keep them or multiply them.  It does not matter too much that you can’t keep your seeds if you are using hybrids.   So no change for corn growers.  But for everybody else, that’s a voluntary step into economic dependence.  You get your seeds every year from the life company, and you have to be nice about it.    You cannot do any research on the technology unless you swear to agree that what is good for Monsanto prevails.

They have been successful at marketing their product because it makes weed management and life less complicated for the farmer.  But I doubt that it was always the intention of these companies to sell less and less of their products.  Of course not, sales of insecticides and herbicides have gone through the roof in the last 10 years.  Particularly more recently with the epidemics of resistant weeds and resistant insect pests.

Mr Wager is going to tell you that nobody has died from eating GMOs and that 3 billion meals, or is it 3 trillions, have been served.  And everybody is in perfect health.  The truth is that research studies from Europe in the last 10 years have documented organ damage in rats and pigs, and cellular damage in human cells.  And there is no denying that we are experiencing epidemic levels of allergies, gastrointestinal problems, kidney damage, or breast cancer.  The European research says that toxic proteins in engineered foods are responsible for these symptoms in mice and rats.

The European studies also say that RoundUp herbicide is used on such a massive scale that is is now everywhere, in the air, in the water, in the food.   RoundUp kills plants because it stops plant enzyme proteins from doing their metabolic work.  People cannot be affected because we do not have the same biochemical pathways that the plants have.  But we are now discovering that bacteria are affected as much as plants.  And the bacteria in our guts are affected.  In case you do not know that, you are not human at all.  You are a symbiotic organism.  Your body contains roughly 10% of human cells.  The rest are bacterial cells.   99% of your DNA is bacterial.  That is how important our gut flora is to our health. A phenomenal ecosystem of thousands of species of bacteria that synthesize vitamins and many other essential molecules, hormones, etc … Gut bacteria make 95% of the serotonin and other neurotransmitters for our brain.  Would you prefer a happy flora down there ?  Rather than a sad one.  High or even very low residues of RoundUp in our food is a stress to our health.  And no, you can’t tell from looking around you.  It apparently takes many many years of this low level biochemical stress to cause leaky gut syndrome, or organ damage, or cancer.  Meanwhile everybody in North America is ingesting its weight of GMO ingredients every year.

Mr Wager will tell you that there is a conspiracy of rogue scientists determined to spread lies about the safety of this technology.   But he will be at a loss to explain the motivation of these scientists.

If I cite the research work of these scientists Mr Wager will tell you that it is all pseudo science and that it has been thoroughly trashed by the scientific community.   So you need to understand that there is a great deal of research in Biotech, mostly funded by the biotech Industry.   University Industry grants are normal.  Putting hundreds of scientists on the payroll is not difficult.   Or give them a patent or two for their research work.

Do you remember the tobacco ads of 40 years ago.  More doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarettes.  20,000 physicians say Luckies are less irritating.   Why do you think doctors can be bribed but not scientists ?   There are experts on hire – everywhere.

I appreciate that this is seen as a controversy.  So I will conclude with this statement.  As long as there is a controversy – of the kind that the Tobacco Industry created 40 years ago to stay in business for many years after the scientific evidence was in, there can be no recall or regulatory action taken. There is no controversy in 64 countries of the world, including the big ones – Europe, India, Russia, and China, where GMOs are banned or at least labelled.”

We are giving you bits and pieces of a booklet called GMO Myths and Truths.  It is a compilation of published research, much of it from Europe and the rest of the world.  It was compiled by a genetic engineer and edited and re-written by Claire Robinson an excellent science writer.  It is a bit dry and technical.  But if you can spell DNA take a look at it.  Free download at  earthopensource.org

Sign a petition for CBC news requesting that Peter Mansbridge interviews Dr Thierry Vrain on the National regarding the risks of GMO products and the future of Canadian Agriculture.

For more information on GMO dangers

Institute for Responsible Technology: 65 Health Risks of GMO Foods and GMO’s in Food and 10 Reasons to Avoid GMO’s

A partial listing of foods containing GMO products can be found by clicking here:http://thegoldenlightchannel.com/gmo-food-list-to-avoid-monsanto-companies-the-dangers-of-gmo-food/

Health Guide on GMO Research and Risks http://www.greenmedinfo.com/guide/health-guide-gmo-research

For more reading on a holistic approach to food systems visit BC Food Systems Network on Facebook

Red Root – New Jersey Tea

written by Katolen Yardley, MNIMH Medical Herbalist

Botanical: Ceanothus americanus

Main Actions: Astringent, Lymphagogue, Expectorant.

Indications: Red Root is indicated for stagnation of lymph, thick mucus, swollen glands and poor assimilation of nutritients to the tissues.

Red root, also known as New Jersey Tea, a lymphatic herb which stimulates interstitial fluid circulation used for splenic and liver congestion, enlarged lymph nodes, sinusitis, tonsillitis, laryngitis, pharyngitis, chronic post-nasal drip and mononucleosis. It can also help increase platelet counts and is specific for reducing cysts.

Astringent: The root is an effective astringent, expectorant and antispasmodic for as asthma bronchitis and coughs It has proven useful in mouthwash to relieve sore throat, gum inflammation, to help tooth decay. The astringent qualities of Red Root that dry up damp conditions aid conditions where lymphatic congestion is a problem can also be applied to:lymphatic swellings, sore throats, mastitis, mononucleosis, tonsillitis and strep infections as well as chronic conditions such as leukemia, Hodgkin’s disease, rheumatism, AIDS as well as various types of anemias.

Expectorant:  utilized in folk medicine practices of Native Americans to alleviate whooping cough, and shortness of breath; working as a mucolytic agent to lower the viscosity of mucus and promotes the expulsion of phlegm from the respiratory tract.

Relieves Digestive Problems: traditionally used for the digestive system, liver and spleen. The spleen can be viewed as the body’s largest lymph node: addressing how well our immune system functions, how waste descends and is removed from the body, and how nutrients are sent up into the body to build blood, nourish cells and muscles. When digestive disorders are present on a disease or syndrome level, deficiency of the spleen is a contributing factor. Spleen deficiency appears in Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Irritable Bowel Disease (Chron’s and Colitis),

Antibacterial Properties: Antibacterial properties are due to the lignans, tannins and ceanathine The root was used as a decoction to help treat sexually transmitted diseases, notably syphilis and gonorrhea. Also, it appears to lessen frequency of canker sores, cold sores and prevent formation of tooth decay when used as a mouth wash and sore throats.

Red Root can be prepared as a decoction tea and is available for purchase: 

 

 

Kudzu Root (Puerario montana)

Kudzu Root

Kudzu Root

written by Katolen Yardley, MNIMH – Medical Herbalist

The Kudzu (or Kuzu) plant is a climbing, woody vine which belongs to the pea family (or the legume family). For more than 2000 years in Chinese medicine, the chopped kudzu root has been used as herbal medicine for the treatment of headaches, diarrhea, dysentery, intestinal obstruction, stomach flu, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases; it is used as a digestive aid, fever reducer, and is thought to inhibit alcohol cravings and lower blood sugar.

In traditional Chinese medicine, where it is known as gat-gun, ge gan, kudzu root is considered one of the 50 fundamental herbs. TCM uses kudzu in treating the symptoms of high blood pressure such as headache and dizziness (although kudzu has little or no effect on blood pressure itself). It has been used traditionally for tinnitus, vertigo and Wei syndrome (superficial heat close to the surface). It has shown value for helping migraines and cluster headaches and can increase circulation, an action that tends to reduce muscle pain and stiffness, and increases blood flow through the coronary arteries.

Studies have shown that Kudzu can reduce alcohol cravings. For problem drinking: In clinical studies, Kudzu has shown some promising results in reducing the desire for alcohol and decrease the amount of alcohol consumed. A person who takes Kudzu, will still drink alcohol, but will consume less than if they had not taken Kudzu. The mechanism for this is not yet established, but it may have to do with both alcohol metabolism and the reward circuits in the brain. The Harvard Medical School is studying Kudzu as a possible way to treat alcoholic cravings. While Kudzu Root seems to lessen the desire for alcohol, it also stimulates regeneration of liver tissue while protecting against liver toxins.

Kudzu is also taken internally on a regular basis to prevent recurrences of colds sores, shingles, and herpes. The root is prepared as a decoction/ boiled tea for reducing an elevated fever, muscle aches, and symptoms of a cold or flu and can sooth inflamed mucous membranes of the throat and bronchial passages.

Animal and cellular studies have provided support for the traditional uses of kudzu root on cardiovascular, cerebrovascular and endocrine systems, including angina pectoris, blood sugar balancing effects for diabetes and their long term complications.

Medicinal Food The nutritive starchy root of kudzu is high in complex carbohydrates, helps balance the acidic nature of many foods, and is soothing and cooling the digestive tract. Powdered kudzu root is very “starchy” -similar to arrowroot powder, and is used to thicken sauces, especially in Asian cooking. Simply mix the powder of kudzu in a little cold liquid to dissolve and use as a substitute for cornstarch or arrowroot.

Traditional therapeutic actions: Antispasmodic, anti-pyretic, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-cancer, antiviral, diaphoretic, muscle relaxant, cold and flu treatment, vasodilator, antihypertensive, antioxidant, liver protective, circulatory support, raynauds. Used to counteract abuse of drug and alcohol; helping to reduce alcohol cravings.

Nutrients: Calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin B2.

Kudzu root is a very safe herb, with no known drug interactions and is most effective when used in its natural state, as prepared as a decocted tea. The recommended dose of Kudzu root tea ranges from 9 to 15 g daily. To order chopped Kudzu Root click here:

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.

 

Chaga Mushroom or Fungus also known as “King of the Herbs”

written by Katolen Yardley, Medical Herbalist

  • Latin Name: Inonotus obliquus however it may be found under the Latin names: Polyporus obliquus and Poria obliqua
  • Family: Hymenochaetaceae
  • Phylum: Basidiomycota (known as a true mushroom).

Habitat

Chaga is a slow growing fungus which grows on birch trees (and is also on alder and beech trees). Geographically, Chaga is restricted to cold habitats, found growing in Russia, Korea, Eastern and Northern Europe, northern areas of the United States, and in Canada.

Why are mushrooms considered to be a fungus?

Mushrooms are considered a fungus, or a member of the fungi kingdom, as they do not contain chlorophyll, yet they have a strong symbiotic relationship with other plants and organisms – growing on decomposing leaves, logs, trees and soil in a forest setting; fungi are essential to our food chain. Fungus have the ability to break down organic matter in a decaying forest and actually draw its food and nutrients directly from decaying trees, rather than from the soil itself. Fungi digest their food outside their bodies by releasing enzymes into the surrounding environment, breaking down organic matter into a form the fungus can use.

Mushrooms are the fruiting bodies produced by some fungi and the term “mushroom” applies to those fungi that have a stem, a cap, and gills or pores on the underside of the cap.All fungus begins with a spore which germinates, when the spore grows strands, this is called the mycelium. The fruiting body or the visible top of the mushroom, and the mycelium (the feeding body) make up the mushroom which can appear to grow overnight, in the cases of some species, or take longer time for development in other species.

In the case of Chaga, its sterile conk – a perennial woody growth, which is the mycelium of the mushroom – has the appearance of a black, irregular, cracked mass resembling burnt charcoal that grows on tree trunks. Due to the large amounts of melanin present in the chaga mushroom, the fruiting body rarely is seen. Unlike most mushrooms, chaga is a polypore, a fungus with pores instead of gills. Rather than growing in soil, Chaga prefers birch trees, once a tree is dead, the “sterile conk trunk rot of birch”, referring to chagas fruiting bodies grows under the outer layers of wood surrounding the sterile conk, spreading its mushroom spores for regrowth.

Common Names

Chaga is also known as siberian chaga, clinker polypore, cinder conk, black mass, birch canker polypore, sterile conk trunk rot of birch and birch mushroom. In the arctic, the first nation’s people used chaga as a form medicine and called it Tiaga or Tsa Ahga. In France, it is called the carie blanche spongieuse de bouleau (spongy white birch tree rot), the Dutch name is berkenweerschijnzwam (birch mushroom glow) and in Germany it is known as Schiefer Schillerporling (slate inonotus). However in the Orient, Chaga is known as “King of the Herbs” a name which most alludes to its respected and powerful healing properties.

History of this Medicinal Plant

A healing plant of renowned value throughout the world, Chaga is thought to be one of the strongest immune stimulating medicinal mushrooms and is used today as the base natural product in over forty oncology pharmaceutical medications and compounds. Since the early 16 th century, Chaga has been documented for its medicinal actions. Traditionally Chaga was used as a common remedy for cancer, gastritis, ulcers and other toxic diseases; especially for tumors of the stomach, esophagus, lungs, genital organs and/ or breast.

Chemical Constituents

  • Beta-D-glucans, a type of polysaccharide which has strong anti-inflammatory and immune balancing properties, reputed to assist in stimulating the body to produce natural killer (NK) cells to battle infections, tumor growth and stimulate apoptosis (programmed cell death). The 3-beta-D-glucans found in medicinal mushrooms have been subject of research since the 1960s.
  • Phenolic compounds, melanins
  • Lanostane-type triterpenoids, including betulin and betulinic acid. (The anti-cancer properties of betulin or betulinic acid are currently being studied for use as chemotherapeutic agents and are already used as anti-HIV agents in mainstream medicine). Important note: betulinic acid appears to be absent in cultivated chaga, with nature herself producing higher medicinal quality chaga.
  • Bitter triterpene compounds that support the thymus and spleen,
  • Germanium: one of the highest sources found in nature.

Reputed Health Benefits

Studies support the use of Chaga for immune enhancement, possible cholesterol lowering, anti-obesity properties and improved insulin resistance, digestive tonic, anti ulcer, general tonic, psoriasis, diabetes, hypertension, anticancer potential, an anti viral, anti tumor, immune response modifier, (may assist in the modulation of T-Cells, macrophages, neutrophils, and white blood cells), anti-inflammatory properties, hypoglycemic activities and antioxidant properties offering protection against oxidative damage to cellular DNA.

Medicinal Actions

Much research has been conducted in Russia on this remarkable adaptogen fungus and more recently, health advocate David Wolfe can be found on”You Tube” educating his listeners on Chaga mushroom as a super food used daily for overall health enhancement. Chaga may help to:

  • Support and enhance immune function and help improve resistance to dis-ease. Chaga also contains the full spectrum of immune-stimulating phytochemicals found in other medicinal mushrooms.
  • Adaptogen properties: help the body to respond and resist internal and external stressors
  • Reduce fatigue, improve vitality, endurance and stamina
  • Regulate digestion: a useful anti-inflammatory agent of benefit for gastritis, ulcers and general pain.
  • Improve mental clarity
  • Improve physical performance
  • Antioxidant and anti-aging effect
  • Regulate the function of muscles and nerves
  • Improve resistance to disease
  • Enhance sleep quality
  • Improve metabolism
  • Regulate the activity of cardiovascular and respiratory systems
  • Reduce pain
  • Promote healthy skin and hair
  • Contains antioxidant properties
  • A restorative tonic and blood cleansing agent
  • Contains anti viral, anti fungal and anti tumor properties.

Interesting Tidbit: Siberian Chaga is neither a plant nor animal yet its DNA make up is thirty percent closer to humans than plants.

Nature vs. nurture

Chaga is best used medicinally when harvested through wild crafting, as the mushroom holds the highest medicinal value and chemical constituents when wild crafted; the cultivated species are lower (or absent) in both medicinal properties and betulinic acid. Chaga can be purchased here in dried form and prepared as a tea. To purchase Chaga Mushroom:

Other Medicinal Mushrooms

One important clarification, medicinal mushrooms do NOT include the common white, brown mushroom or button mushroom – those common edible mushrooms found in supermarkets. White or button mushrooms have little flavor and no medicinal value compared to wild species. In fact, they may even be unhealthy -heavily sprayed with malathion and other pesticides and provide no nutritional value. The medicinal mushrooms include: Reishi, shitake, chaga, turkey tail, maitake, agaricus, oyster mushrooms, coriolus, cordyceps, poria which contain immune enhancing benefits.

Information given here is for consumer education only. It is not meant to

replace the advice of a qualified health care professional.

Vitamin C with Bioflavinoids Bonus Size ~ Natural Factors

When taking Vitamin C, always ensure you are taking a supplement that also contains bioflavinoids, which enhance the absorption of Vitamin C. Together the two help strengthen the walls of blood vessels and capillaries, provide assistance for varicose veins, their anti histamine effects help to prevent allergies, minimize bruising and inflammation.

Vitamin C with bioflavinoids can be a useful supplement for women experiencing hot flushes.

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, essential for enhancing immune system function and increasing resistance to infection, balancing cholesterol.

Vitamin C plays a role in the formation of collagen and is necessary for the maintenance of healthy bones, teeth, gums, skin and blood vessels – in convenient tablet form.

Aspirin, antidepressants, analgesics, steroids, anti coagulants, tobacco and oral contraceptives all reduce the levels of vitamin C in the body leading to an increased need of supplementation. Regular size 180 for $ 23.79 While supplies last bonus size 210 tablets ON SALE here.

 

Herbal Medicine for Optimal Immune System Function

Join us for an information evening exploring common herbal remedies, essential oils, optimal nutrition and relevant supplementation for the winter months, for prevention of a cold or flu and for strengthening the immune system.

Taught by Katolen Yardley, MNIMH – Medical Herbalist

Date: Thursday September 29, 2011 from 6:30 until 8 pm.

Location: Alchemy & Elixir Health Group # 320- 1026 Davie St. Vancouver BC – co-sponsored with Choices Market

Cost: $ 10 Space is limited. Space is limited. Call to preregister 604 683 2298 or email info@alchemyelixir.com

Simple Tips for Staying Healthy During the Winter Months

Written By Melissa Furneaux, B.Sc., HHC, RHN

It’s that time of year again….decorating Christmas trees, shopping for presents for loved ones, baking cookies with the kids, and…colds and flus? Unfortunately, most of us know from experience that this could certainly put a damper on the holiday festivities. Don’t fret just yet, though…all is not lost! Luckily, there are a few simple diet and lifestyle tips that can keep your immune system going strong long after Santa has come and gone.

  1. While Christmas may not be the easiest time to reduce sugar intake, it is important to understand that refined white sugar seriously impairs the white blood cells of your immune system. As with anything, however, moderation is key. Now may be the perfect time to start experimenting with more wholesome, less refined sweeteners, such as blackstrap molasses, raw honey, or brown rice syrup. Decreasing your sugar intake just might be the most important thing you can do to boost your immune system!
  2. Get a good night’s rest; In addition to a healthy immune system, adequate sleep is linked to balanced hormone levels, clear thinking, improved mood, radiant skin, and weight management. While everyone is different, most people need about 8 hours per night. If this is unrealistic for you, focus on the quality rather than the quantity of your sleep by making your bedroom a tranquil environment and eliminating sources of light or using a sleep mask.
  3. Drink water! Staying hydrated is important year round, but particularly during this time of year, when there is a good chance that we are consuming more coffee and alcohol at social events, both of which dehydrate the body. In addition to staying hydrated, adequate water intake will promote balance within the body, help your liver and kidney’s to flush toxins, and decrease sugar cravings. While everyone is different, 8 glasses per day is a good goal to aim for. If this seems like a lot, try drinking one more glass per day than you are currently drinking, and increase the amount each week. And remember, by the time we feel thirsty, we are most likely already dehydrated.
  4. Garlic is particularly beneficial for the immune system, as it promotes warmth and moves energy throughout the body. Specifically, most of garlic’s benefits seem to be attributed to sulfur-containing compounds. To get the greatest benefits, try eating it lightly cooked, or raw if it is not too intense for you.
  5. Fermented foods have been an important part of traditional diets around the world, but are commonly lacking in North American diets. It is estimated that up to 80% of our immune system is in our G.I. tract. Foods like traditionally prepared yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha, kimchi , and miso contain probiotics that promote intestinal balance by allowing “good” bacteria to flourish.
  6. Try to take some time for yourself during this busy season, even if it’s only a few minutes each day. Pay attention to the first signs of a cold, and listen to your body. While short term stress is a very helpful adaptation, chronic stress (>2 weeks) decreases memory, lowers immune activity, and will lead to adrenal fatigue, among other things.
  7. Lemon and apple cider vinegar are both very cleansing and alkalizing, promoting a healthy pH balance within the body. This will also support the growth of healthy bacteria, as many problem-causing bacteria thrive in a more acidic environment created by stress or excess sugar and meat. Try drinking hot lemon water in the morning, incorporating either into dressings and sauces, or sipping on lemon water throughout the day.
  8. Ginger is antibacterial and stimulates the immune system to act against invaders. With its warming nature and pungent flavour, it has a particular affinity for benefiting the lungs and respiratory system. It is also an excellent remedy for nausea. Try making a simple tea from chopped, fresh ginger.
  9. Lets not forget the importance of exercise and fresh air, as poorly filtered office air is the perfect environment for spreading germs. Exercise releases mood-boosting endorphins, increases immune cell activity, circulation, and helps you excrete toxins via sweat.
  10. It is no surprise that including lots of fruits and vegetables in our day to day diet can keep us in top health year round. They are packed with tons of immune supporting nutrients such as vitamins C and E, bioflavenoids, carotenoids, and other antioxidants. Darker produce, such as berries and leafy greens tend to pack the most nutritional bang.
  11. Zinc is essential for many aspects of immune function, including infection-fighting T-cell, NK cell, and lymphocyte activity, as well as being directly involved in antibody production. It is found in oysters, shellfish, meats, eggs, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. Pumpkin and squash seeds are especially good sources. As with everything, moderation is key, as too much zinc may actually decrease immune function.
  12. And last but not least remember to laugh! Every cell in our body is physiologically affected by how we feel! Finally, if you do find yourself feeling under the weather, only take antibiotics when absolutely necessary since they will lead to imbalances in your GI tract. Following a course of antibiotics with probiotics can also be extremely beneficial in rebalancing your system. There are also many herbs available to support the immune system, including Goldenseal, Echinacea, and Astragalus. Herbs are powerful and work synergistically; A professional herbalist can help you find the most appropriate combination to fit your needs. Hopefully you’re now feeling a bit more prepared to face the upcoming few months strong and healthy! Happy Holidays, everyone!

Melissa Furneaux, RHN (Registered Holistic Nutritionist) has a fascinating backgrounds, a blend of a Bachelor of Science in BioPsychology and Nutritional Science. Her unique interest is in the relationship between the foods we eat, and changes with mood and behavior. Melissa offers nutritional assessments, meal planning, recipes, grocery store tours and also provides guidance for food planning for families and during pregnancy. Her private practice is located at Alchemy & Elixir Health Group.

Until December 31, 2010 Melissa is offering the following promotions: $50 for an initial consult, or $125 for an initial consult plus 2 follow-up visits. Appointments can be booked at:info@alchemyelixir.com

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.