FEED Your Trillion Workers

Microbiome Boosting Strategies to Keep You Healthy

Some say that we’re more microbe than human. And guess what: this is not a myth anymore. We develop the gut microbiome by age 3, but this can be altered depending on the environmental factors determining the diet type one follows. Currently, we know that there are about 30 to 40 trillion microbes living within us and working for or against us (Holmes & Rosewarne). That is all depending who we feed and what we feed them with. As we move through life and different environments, our microbiota changes, evolves or de-evolves.

Want to know more? Follow the links in the references for an in-depth analysis of this topic. This blog is about how to boost a diverse microbiome on fresh produce in a relatively short time. The answer is in the title: FEED your trillion workers.

How to Boost Gut Microbiome?

It is relatively easy to boost the gut microbiome. To do so one must make sure that the good bacteria, the Trillion Workers, are well nourished. I made it easy for you to remember using the acronym FEED: Feast, Eat Eschew and Ditch as described below:

Feast on whole foods

  1. Increase your Dietary Fibre by eating regularly your pile of greens: 2½ cups per day would be a beneficial investment as long as you diversify your salads and leafy meals to include other green Champions, walloped with Vitamins A, C, K, antioxidants and minerals. Examples include:
    1. Arugula – or rocket known as the champion in health-promoting bacteria due to its high content of phytochemicals as well as for its cancer fighter properties (Wassermann et al, 2017);
    2. Bok choy – known for its water soluble food folates (Ware, 2018) that are beneficial to the colonic microbiota (Food and Nutrition Board, 1988);
    3. Swiss chards and kale.
  2. Consume Natural Prebiotic Fibre from whole foods. It is believed that one needs to consume in average about 5g of prebiotic fibre per day. The Prebiotics are a special kind of fibre containing high levels of inulin. Prebiotic fibres pass through the gastro-intestinal tract undigested and stimulate the growth and/or activity of certain ‘good’ bacteria in the colon; example include (Gibson, 1998):
    1. Leeks – promote healthy digestions by breaking down fat;
    2. Asparagus – the benefits of this wonder vegie are multiple: its soluble fibre content soars a…, it is a natural diuretic ( you will have a stinky pee though) and it is known to help flush your body of excess salt;
    3. Jerusalem artichoke – are delicious consumed raw or baked; see note for wind production;
    4. Apples – are high in pectin, a prebiotic fibre that helps decrease the harmful bacteria in the gut while playing a significant role in cholesterol reduction (Bernie et al, 2019);
    5. Chicory root – has a very high inulin content and it is often used as a substitute for coffee, without the benefits of the caffeine kick. Due to its high fibre content it is unsuitable for people suffering from IBS or Crohn’s disease.

A note of caution: when changing from a low fibre diet to a high fibre diet, people experience an increase in wind production. Main culprits are Jerusalem artichoke and chicory root. If this is the case, it is better to allow the body to adjust to the new diet over a period of five to 10 days.

Eat Fermented Foods

Fermented foods have been around for thousands of years and they provide the best source of probiotics: live bacteria that are beneficial for gut lining.

Probiotic yogurt. Yogurt is made by fermenting milk with different bacteria. These days supermarkets are full of yogurt products boasting on the probiotics benefits. The main question here is the following “Do they actually make it through the acidic environment of the stomach to colonise the lower intestinal tract?” Trouble is that the real impact that they might have in the gut microbiome is rather unclear. Furthermore the probiotic bacteria often loose viability during shelf storage (Mani-López et al, 2014). If you consume probiotic yogurt, a good rule of thumb is to choose the ones closer to the production date if available.

Best probiotics foods

  1. Sauerkraut
  2. Pickles
  3. Kimchi
  4. Kombucha
  5. Natto
  6. Miso

A note of caution: Probiotics are live organisms, consumed in large quantities can lead to less beneficial effects including diarrhoea. To increase the benefits of probiotics ensure that you consume sufficient amounts of prebiotics.

Eschew artificial sweeteners

We all know that excess sugar is not good for health in general and is rather unbeneficial for gut health. So, we can access the lesser alternative: fewer calories, same taste. But it turns out that this is far from being the helper we wanted. The “sugar free” products are not always the healthier choices one can make (Ruiz-Ojeda et al, 2019). Some of them, sucralose, can disrupt the digestive health system simply because the body does not recognises it as food! Dr Axe expands on more reasons to avoid artificial sweeteners.

Ditch processed foods

Processed foods like include packaged breads and pastries, frozen pizzas, chicken nuggets, sugar-sweetened sodas, potato chips. Most of them include artificial substances (food colorings, artificial flavours) or contain food components (hydrogenated fats) that are designed to trick the taste and be effective addictive “go to” comfort foods.

Processed foods break down into compounds that are detrimental to the good bacteria and feed the bad bacteria. More often than not they disrupt the digestive system causing irritation and inflammation.

Interesting fact. Recent research just published in May 2020, in Cell Reports, shows that the nose has its own microbiome that affects our health in a similar way as the gut microbiome (Boeck et al 2020). Furthermore it shows that a specific strain probiotic, Lactobacillus casei, is beneficial for the nasal cavity although snorting yogurt is not yet an option. This is the subject for another blog though.

My story with the gut microbiome is one of overcoming pain. As a rheumatoid arthritis sufferer, I went through the highs and lows of health recovery: one in which applied nutrition knowledge led to managing this state without a shadow of a doubt. Re-stablishing the gut microbiota was the key.

Resources

Berni, R., Cantini, C., Guarnieri, M., Nepi, M., Hausman, J. F., Guerriero, G., Romi, M., & Cai, G. (2019). Nutraceutical Characteristics of Ancient Malus x domestica Borkh. Fruits Recovered across Siena in Tuscany. Medicines (Basel, Switzerland), 6(1), 27. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30781616/ https://doi.org/10.3390/medicines6010027

De Boeck et al, 2020, Lactobacilli Have a Niche in the Human Nose, Cell Reports, 31, 107674, https://www.cell.com/cell-reports/fulltext/S2211-1247(20)30627-6

Ertem, H., & Cakmakci, S., (2017). Shelf life and quality of probiotic yogurt produced with Lactobacillus acidophilus and Gobdin. International Journal of Food Science & Technology. 53. 10.1111/ijfs.13653.

Food and Nutrition Board 1988 – Institute of Medicine. Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes: Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Vitamin B12, Pantothenic Acid, Biotin, and Choline. Washington, DC: National Academy Press; 1998.

Holmes, A., Rosewarne, C., (2019)Gut Bacteria: The Inside Story, Australian Academy of Science https://www.science.org.au/curious/people-medicine/gut-bacteria

Gibson G. R. (1998). Dietary modulation of the human gut microflora using prebiotics. The British journal of nutrition, 80(4), S209–S212.

Megan Ware, The Health Benefits of Bok Choy, Medical News Today, August 2018, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/280948

E. Mani-López, E. Palou, A. López-Malo,. (2014), Probiotic viability and storage stability of yogurts and fermented milks prepared with several mixtures of lactic acid bacteria, J. of Dairy Science, 97(5): 2578-590, https://doi.org/10.3168/jds.2013-7551. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022030214002549

Ruiz-Ojeda, F. J., Plaza-Díaz, J., Sáez-Lara, M. J., & Gil, A. (2019). Effects of Sweeteners on the Gut Microbiota: A Review of Experimental Studies and Clinical Trials. Advances in nutrition (Bethesda, Md.), 10(suppl_1), S31–S48. https://doi.org/10.1093/advances/nmy037

Wassermann, B., Rybakova, D., Müller, C., & Berg, G. (2017). Harnessing the microbiomes of Brassica vegetables for health issues. Scientific reports, 7(1), 17649. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-17949-z https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5732279/

The Chief Antiseptic Herb

Harvest Myriad Benefits of Brilliantly Blooming Calendula

This blog is about a super hero plant: Calendula officinalis or Pot marigold, known as medicine flower since time immemorial. The whole flower head of Calendula are used in different preparations: extracts, ointments, tinctures, salve or teas.

Properties: The Herbal actions, predominantly anti-inflammatory and antiseptic, are due to its antioxidant compounds as well as due to its high carotenoids presence often associated with cardiovascular risk reduction. Topically calendula addresses so many skin complaints that led to its unofficial name as the chief antiseptic herb. It can be used safely on the most sensitive body areas on open wounds, burns, blisters, swellings, eczema, diaper rash (Yunes et al 2012) and cracked nipples. My preferred use of calendula is in the form of lymphatic tonic along with cleavers, discussed in another blog.

The medicinal properties are numerous and this blog will provide details on two less talked about.

#1 Digestive Ally

Let the food be at the heart of your own wellbeing. If you are a self-care convert, don’t wait until you get sick and become a pill-ridden and over-the-counter consumer. Instead, reach out and have an educational consultation to evaluate your wellness history, your circumstances, environmental factors etc. You will then explore and establish what you need and what you don’t need in teas, lotions and potions with your Herbalist consultant. You will be surprised that in the long run you will save money and time. After all you only have a body to live your life in it. Live it wisely.

We all know that digestion starts in the mouth. Therefore, the oral hygiene must be impeccable in order to have a great digestion down the tube. Calendula is one of the best allies one can have when it comes to restoring and healing the gastric and intestinal permeability.

How to use: It is often a good idea to combine calendula with other herbs for increased benefits. For example a blend of marshmallow root ( Althaea officinalis), calendula flower heads (Calendula officinalis) and liquorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra) all in equal amounts is a helpful tonic for the digestive system that is also very pleasant tea. Combine 2 teaspoons of the herbal blend with a cup of water and simmer for 20 minutes. Some prefer it sweetened with honey. I like it as is.

A word of caution: Topical use of Calendula during pregnancy or breastfeeding is considered safe. However, internal use of calendula and liquorice are not indicated in pregnancy.

#2 Vaginal Hygiene

A 2017 study on the treatment of vaginal Candidiasis concluded that Calendula vaginal cream is as effective and with greater long-term effect compared to traditional treatment based on clotrimazole (Safari et al 2017). According to Dorothy Hall, (1988), a Calendula douche, as below is a “great insurance against infection and irritation” in multiple situations including when there may be bleeding and tearing of the vaginal walls, in the case of existent fibroids at menopause as well as after child birth.

How to use: make a douche from one cup of warm water, 1-2 teaspoons of calendula extract and juice from a small lemon. Use as a preventive cleanser and antiseptic wash. Alternatively if the extract is unavailable, a simple tea made from dried Calendula petals may be as effective.

Growing Calendula: if you have a green thumb or not, Calendula is very easy to grow. All you need to do is choose a bright spot and let the Sun do the work. And have I mentioned that the bright petals also make an excellent addition to your yummy salads?

Thank you for visiting and reading this page.

Disclaimer: I am a qualified holistic wellness, Herbalist Aromatherapist and Nutrition Diva. This article is for educational purpose only. Always check with your doctor or medical professional if a medical need arises.

References

Dorothy Hall, Herbal Medicine, 1988, p116-119, Lothian Publishing CompanyPty Ltd, Melbourne Australia

Elnaz Saffari , Sakineh Mohammad-Alizadeh-Charandabi, Mohammad Adibpour, Mojgan Mirghafourvand & Yousef Javadzadeh Comparing the effects of Calendula officinalis and clotrimazole on vaginal Candidiasis: A randomized controlled trial, Women & Health, 2017; 57:10, 1145-1160, DOI: 10.1080/03630242.2016.1263272

Kerry Bone, Simon Mills, Eds., 2013, Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy (Second Edition),: Cp8 – Herbal approaches to pathological states, P:140-182, Churchill Livingstone,

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780443069925000086

Panahi, Yunes, Mohamad Reza Sharif, Alireza Sharif, Fatemeh Beiraghdar, Zahra Zahiri, Golnoush Amirchoopani, Eisa Tahmasbpour Marzony, and Amirhossein Sahebkar. “A Randomized Comparative Trial on the Therapeutic Efficacy of Topical Aloe Vera and Calendula Officinalis on Diaper Dermatitis in Children.” TheScientificWorldJournal 2012 (2012): doi:10.1100/2012/810234.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22606064/

The Medicine Citrus

Hidden Benefits of Wild Lime

Makrut (Citrus hystrix) also known as wild lime or kaffir lime is prized for its flavoursome leaves and floral scent when used in cooking. Please note that from this point on, I will refer to these leaves as wild lime leaves, as the term kaffir is offensive in some cultures1.

Cuisines of Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia Bali, Java, Malaysia and Burma use these leaves to enchant the olfactory system and provide a complex refreshing taste for some dishes (soups, sauces, curries).

Properties: Aside from its culinary use, the wild lime leaves and fruit peels are highly prized for many medicinal uses. That is why it is also called the citrus medicine in some South Eastern Asian Countries. This is certainly backed up by its various phytocomponents (Arumugam et al, 2014) (including glycerolglycolipids, tannins, tocopherols, furanocoumarins as well as flavonoids and alkaloids). Furthermore, the oil extracted from wild lime leaves or fruit peels boast an impressive number of chemical components (more than 35 in varying concentrations). It must be noted that the chemical composition of fruit peels differs from the leaves: for instance the peels’ major component, sabinene, does not exist in the leaves. The major components in the leaves are citronellal, linalool and hedycaryol (Waikedre et al, 2010).

Benefits: In the following you will discover two of the least known benefits of this delightful wild lime citrus also known as the citrus medicine plant.

#1 Wild Lime as Depression Relief Agent

A 2007 study conducted on the use of Kaffir lime oil (obtained from fruit peels) for topical applications in aromatherapy, showed that massaging the oil on the skin affects the autonomic nervous system as well as the behaviour in healthy adults (Hongratanaworakit and Buchbauer, 2007). Specifically the topical application of diluted wild lime oil (20% in almond oil) leads to increased sympathetic activity. What is most interesting is that during the application the volunteers did not inhaled the perfumed oil, as they were provided with pure air via breathing mask. That is to say that the olfactory stimulation through the nose and mouth was eliminated. Subsequently, only the transdermal absorption was the cause of the stimulation of the sympathetic nervous. Furthermore, the volunteers also noted positive changes in some behavioural parameters, including increased alertness, attentiveness, enhanced mood and cheerfulness.

How to use: a few drops of diluted essential wild lime oil rubbed on the abdomen in the morning and relax in well-lit indoor place. When applied on the skin, the fragrant molecules easily penetrate the blood-brain barrier and are absorbed after application. The effects on the sympathetic system (heart rate, skin temperature, pupil dilation) as well as increased vigour and alertness develop after 20 minutes. Avoid its use in the evening as it enhances the alertness, according to the same study.

The Flip Side: Some of the citrus oils including bergamot, lemon, grapefruit, orange as well as the wild lime induce skin photosensitivity. That is to say that after application of wild lime oil on the skin, one should not expose the skin to sunlight or UV lamps for minimum 12 hours.

#2 Wild Lime Leaves as Mouth Ward

Periodontal disease is the most common an inflammation of the tooth-supporting tissue and bone caused by more than 300 pathogens affecting more than 50% of world population. Although a non-communicable disease, periodontal disease is known to increase the incidence of diabetes, coronary heart disease as well as cerebrovascular accidents. To date the mouth washes fighting this plague are based on ingredients that affect negatively the quality of life (taste aberrations, tooth staining as well as calculus formation).

How to use: According to folk medicine, the wild lime leaves can be rubbed onto the gums to promote good oral health. Indeed, a 2014 study demonstrated that the oil extracted from the leaves was effective against bacteria causing periodontal disease (Wongsariya et al 2014).

Here is my mouth wash recipe: Take a handful of wild-lime leaves, wash them well crunch them and placed them in a mason jar. Fill the jar with dechlorinated water and add 1 table spoon of salt. The solution is ready to use after it brews at least 24 hours. Do not drink the solution as it is very concentrated and it may cause unwanted effects the gut microbiome (nausea, even vomiting).

Thank you for visiting and reading this page.

Disclaimer: I am a qualified holistic wellness, Herbalist Aromatherapist and Nutrition Diva rather than a medical doctor or nurse. Always check with a doctor or medical professional if a medical need arises.

References

1 https://www.dictionary.com/browse/kaffir

Arumugam A, Gunasekaran N, and Perumal S. The medicinal and nutritional role of underutilized citrus fruit Citrus hystrix (Kaffir lime): a review. Drug Invention Today.2014; 6: 1-5.

Hongratanaworakit T and Buchbauer G. Chemical composition and stimulating effects of Citrus hystrix oil on humans, Flavour & Fragrance J.2007; 22: 443-449. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/ffj.1820

Waikedre J, Dugay A, Barrachina I, Herrenknecht C, Cabalion P, Fournet A. Chemical composition and antimicrobial activity of the essential oils from New Caledonian Citrus macroptera and Citrus hystrix. Chem Biodivers. 2010; 7(4):871-7. doi: 10.1002/cbdv.200900196. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20397222

Wongsariya K, Phanthong P, Bunyapraphatsara N, Srisukh V, Chomnawang MT, Synergistic Interaction and Mode of Action of Citrus Hystrix Essential Oil Against Bacteria Causing Periodontal Diseases. Pharm Biol. 2014; 52(3)273-280 doi: 10.3109/13880209.2013.833948. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24102651/

The Serenity Plant

Purple flowers of Lavandula angustifolia

Lavender: the most magical of all herbs enchants the olfactory system as well as the visual system. It makes the last month of the year be filled with its grace and beauty. Symbol of serenity, purity, silence, devotion, and calmness, lavender speaks of elegance and refinement from fragrance to its marvelous colour spectrum.

There are many varieties of Lavender. This blog will only consider the Lavandula angustifolia family, although even this includes hundreds of hybrids and cultivars.

Properties: Historically, the plant has been valued for its beauty and soothing properties. This timeless herb has limitless possibilities when it comes to healing, due to its major chemical components linalool and linalyl acetate. Some minor components can also be found in lesser percentage and include cineole, terpines and sometimes camphor. Therapeutically, Lavender has impressive qualities (Koulivand et al 2013):

  • Adaptogen, less known
  • antiseptic,
  • anti-depressant, sedative,
  • prevents scarring,
  • as well as it is capable of many important jobs for the whole body (skin, muscular and digestive ailments to nervous disorders).

Benefits: In the following you will discover two of the least known benefits of this marvelous plant.

#1 Lavender as Adaptogen

This is one of the less known properties that lavender possesses: it can either bring balance to the nervous system either by energising or sedating.

Adaptogens are a group of herbs that helps us manage stress as we encounter it. Although this classification is often complicated and the time allocated to this blog does not permit to go into too much detail. Generally, adaptogens help the body build up resilience to stressful situations. They do so by adjusting the hormone levels and acting on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, so that one’s body may remain in constant balance. However the complete mechanism is much more complex. In short: Lavender seems to adapt to the needs of the person using it.

How to use: a few drops of undiluted lavender essential oil rubbed the neck would wake one up in the morning better than a cup of coffee. This has to do with the main component in the lavender essential oil, linalool. When applied on the skin, this chemical is absorbed and reaches peak levels in the body approximately 19 min after application (Jager et al, 1992). Coincidentally, the traditional morning coffee would have similar properties when ingested. Interestingly, linalool abounds in other foods including, orange juice, cocoa, basil, guava, peach, plum, pineapple and passion-fruit.

However if you are tired in the evening, it is better to have a relaxing bath with just a few drops of lavender oil. It will help calm down the nervous system and induce a sound sleep without interruption.

#2 Lavender as Brain Waves Improver

Mental fog was also discussed in a previous blog entry. It has to do with the level of activity of certain brain waves responsible with the relaxation.

How it works: 3 minutes of inhalation of diluted lavender essential oil (only 10%) affects in a positive way the brain waves responsible with mood feelings and serotonin production, leading to decreased anxiety (Diego et al, 1998).

Safety and Precautions: Short-term use of lavender essential oil is usually regarded relatively safe. However, it should be used with caution or not at all by people allergic to lavender (Brandão, 1986). Furthermore, it is ingestion of lavender during pregnancy and breastfeeding should be avoided.

I encourage you to experiment, taste and enjoy the presence of lavender in your life. More so enjoy the serenity and purity it offers during Holiday season.

Thank you for visiting and reading this page. Happy New Year 2020.

Disclaimer: I am a qualified holistic wellness, herbalist aromatherapist and nutrition Diva rather than a medical doctor or nurse. Always check with a doctor or medical professional if a medical need arises.

References

Brandão FM. Occupational allergy to lavender oil. Contact Dermatitis. 1986;15(4):249–250. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2948764

Diego MA, Jones NA, Field T, et al. Aromatherapy positively affects mood, EEG patterns of alertness and math computations. International Journal of Neuroscience. 1998;96(3-4):217–224. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10069621

Jager W, Buchbauer G, Jirovetz L, Fritzer M. Percutaneous absorption of lavender oil from a massage oil. Journal of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists. 1992;43:49–54. https://www.scienceopen.com/document?vid=40001561-4557-427d-8cbe-cc65a5372551

Koulivand PH, Khaleghi Ghadiri M, Gorji A. Lavender and the nervous system. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013; 2013:681304. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3612440/

The Fidelity Plant

BIBITherapy_Rosemary Blossom

Among friends, there is no secret by now that I am in love with blue. So there you have it another bluish blossoming plant that not only is heavenly beautiful, it is a feast for the senses and it is also tremendously important for our computing centre.  The plant is none other than Rosemary, Rosmarinus officinalis or Salvia Rosmarinus new scientific name since 2017. There plant may have pink white or blue flowers depending on the cultivar.

Symbol of love, fidelity and loyalty rosemary has been connected to memory for centuries. Ancient Greek students were known to wear rosemary garlands around their neck during their exams.

So why writing this blog, since my splendiferous blue rosemary is not in season anymore. Well it is because the reason behind is REMEMBERING its beauty and colossal benefits that are attached to it. But more importantly it is because it is Christmas time again and the plant can be used as a little Christmas tree.

Again if you have a green thumb, go grab a seedling or two from Bunnings and plant it in your front yard. It will not disappoint you and you can even grow it next to your sage if you planted it already.

Properties: Rosemary has a unique aroma which is a mix of camphoraceous, floral and herbaceous depending on variety. The plant has highly medicinal properties, so that is why it has been used since ancient of times. B no means the list provided here is a complete one:

  • Anti-inflammatory, anti-rheumatic
  • Anti-nociceptive: inhibits the sensation of pain which goes through nerves to the brain
  • Digestive improver
    • Cholerectic – improves the volume of bile produced, thus easing the digestion of fats resulting in better cleansing of the gut system.
    • Cholagogue – stimulates the discharge if bile acids
    • Carminative _ helps expelling intestinal gas

Benefits: In the following you will discover two of the most prevalent benefits of this marvellous plant.

#1 Rosemary as Anti-Rheumatic Pain Agent Fighter

This plant is packed with anti-oxidants: two of which are the caffeic acid and rosmarinic acid that can help our health system suppress unruly inflammatory enzymes and enable us to regain the balanced health. Knowing first-hand what rheumatic pain is and how it affects my daily activities, I have used the plant in both teas and essential oil as topical application. As it is well known that the mode of administration of chemicals make a significant difference in terms of the level of the response, the topical application worked better to alleviate my pains. This benefit comes from the fact that the rosemary essential oil is anti-nociceptive and analgesic in nature. It is also backed-up by science (Degner et al 2009). Topical application of diluted essential oil (5 drops of essential rosemary oil to one table spoon of carrier oil) massaging the aching joints or muscles. I also like grinding it and use it as a salt enhancer.

#2 Rosemary as Clear Mind and Increased Mental Awareness Agent

Mental fog is unquestionably exasperating. Confused… distracted… lacking metal clarity and focus… never knowing what on earth is happening that nothing gets finished. Although, “brain fog” is not a medical condition, it affects one’s daily life negatively and more often than not, the coffee machine is the one we tend to surrender to. Well interestingly enough, recent studies show that not only brain fog is fixable without the coffee boost but also it affects in a positive way the alpha brain waves leading to decreased depression. This can happen only resorting to inhaling the unparalleled rosemary fragrance (Sayorwan et al, 2013). Furthermore, consumed in culinary quantities, was found to be beneficial for improving the cognitive function in the elderly Pengelly, et al 2012).

Highly recommended for use as a diffuser in the car during this holiday season when one needs to stay super alert if driving on a long distance trip

Rosemary oil can be found at any chemist pharmacy these days; one drop of oil on a tissue will surely energise the brain better than a coffee.

Rosmarinus officinalis essential oil is usually regarded as nontoxic, non-sensitising and non-irritant when used in sufficient dilution. However, individuals with hypersensitive skin should manifest caution. Furthermore, it is safer not to be used in pregnancy. The plant, Rosmarinus officinalis has no known toxicity and has no contraindications in culinary preparations.

Disclaimer: I am a qualified holistic wellness, herbalist aromatherapist and nutrition Diva, I am not a medical doctor or nurse and do not play one on the internet. Always check with a doctor or medical professional if a medical need arises.

References

Degner et al, 2009, Complementary and Alternative Therapies and the Aging Population, pp: 541-562, Chapter 26:Health Benefits of Traditional Culinary and Medicinal Mediterranean Plants https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780123742285000263

Sayorwan et al, Sci Pharm., 2013, 81(2): 531–542. Effects of Inhaled Rosemary Oil on Subjective Feelings and Activities of the Nervous System. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3700080/

Pengelly et al, J of Med Food, 2012, 15(1) .Short-Term Study on the Effects of Rosemary on Cognitive Function in an Elderly Population, https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/jmf.2011.0005

Secrets of a Sticky Weed

Spring is here and with it Weeeeeeds!

They are everywhere.

I hate them! I love them! I hate them I …..use their secrets holistically!

You guessed, I have again the Herbalist Hat on.

Today I choose one weed that used to bother me a lot in the past.

It turned out that it was the weed that my body needed the most in the process of recovering from some serious autoimmune illnesses I have been blessed with.

This plant, Cleavers (Galium aparine), is known under many different names including sticky weed, Velcro plant or goose grass. It grows everywhere in my garden and I cannot say it is my favourite. Every time I collect it, inevitably I also get a little skin irritation.

The plant is edible, leaves, stems as well as the fruits, mostly cooked. Due to its clinging nature (Auld B.A. and Medd, 1987) it is less palatable when attempting to eat it raw.

This sticky plant harbours many secrets. The ancient Greeks used the stems in the form of a coarse colander to strain milk. In Anatolia the plant is known these days as the Yogurt plant, because of an enzyme that curdles the milk. Similar uses of the plant are in practice in Sweden as well.

Benefits. Current research on Cleavers and its use for human consumption is sparse. However, the very many chemical constituents, including but not limited to monotropein, asperuloside, tannins, flavonoids or polyphenolic acids (Deliorman et al, 2001) demonstrate that the plant pharmacological properties are yet to be demonstrated by the modern science. Therefore the secrets this plant possess are about to be unveiled by modern science.

Given the lack of substantiated evidence I will mention only the very well-known applications of Galium aparine (Maud, 1971), as outlined below:

  • Slimming effect: possible due to the asperuloside component, known to increase metabolic rate in mammals;
  • Supports the lymphatic system
    • Promotes lymphatic drainage;
    • Breaks up lymphatic congestion (enlarged lymph nodes) especially in the pelvis,
    • Acts in general as a lymphatic tonic;
  • Diuretic;
  • Choleretic: it stimulates the flow of the bile;
  • Can be used as a coffee substitute: dried and roasted fruits of the cleavers;
  • Its medicinal effects are great if used in soups;
  • Cosmetic benefits
    • Hair tonic : rinsing the hair with cleavers tea infusion;
    • Facial rejuvenation and anti-wrinkles action.

The plant has no known toxicity and has no contraindications.

Best ways to use the plant is to drink a stronger infusion during the day.

Harvesting the plant: should be performed while the plant is in the growing stage with its bright green foliage.

How to use it: Teas and facial cleanser

#1 Diuretic Cleavers Infusion Tea

  • 3 table spoon of dried plant
  • 500 ml boiling water ;
  • Let it sit for a good 20 minute;
  • Strain and drink throughout the day.

This tea is useful to stimulate the lymphatic flow. It has a gentle purgative action due to a chemical in the plant called asperuloside. It also aids the bile. Drink small quantities during the day.

# 2 Natural Facial Cleanser

Cleavers makes an excellent facial cleanser and wash. The chemical components in the form of acids, polyphenolic, tannic and citric acids help tightening the skin. Excellent against those wrinkles and sags we all want to get rid of as the skins matures due to aging.

  • 1/3 cup of dried Galium aparine
  • 500 ml boiling water
  • Let the plant steep for a good hour
  • Wash the face as you would any other facial cleanser.
  • To be effective it has to be used several times a week.

So what are we all waiting for? Let’s gather Galium aparine before going to seeds and enjoy a detox cuppa!

What a great secret gift we have with this sticky weed.

Disclaimer: I am a qualified holistic wellness, herbalist aromatherapist and nutrition guide; I am not a medical doctor or nurse and do not play one on the internet. Always check with a doctor or medical professional if a medical need arises.

References

Auld B.A. and Medd, R. W., Weeds – an illustrated botanical guide to weeds of Australia, 1987, (2nd Ed), Melbourne, Inkata Press. https://trove.nla.gov.au/work/9658129?selectedversion=NBD4476220

Deliorman D. et al, Pharmaceutical Biology, 2001:39(3):234-235, Iridoids from Galium aparine. https://doi.org/10.1076/phbi.39.3.234.5928

Grieve, Maud , 1971. “Clivers”. A Modern Herbal: The Medicinal, Culinary, Cosmetic and Economic Properties, Cultivation and Folklore of Herbs, Grasses, Fungi, Shrubs, & Trees with All Their Modern Scientific Uses, Volume 1. Dover Publications. p. 206. ISBN 9780486227986

The Violets Season

Welcome back my dear reader! My love for nature and its wonders is growing to such a speed that I have forgot to post my monthly blog in July and August is almost gone.. He! He!

So coming back to plants, there are so many that I have progressively started to love and introduce in my daily use. Today, my focus is on one of my favourite weed from my garden: the sweet violet (Viola Odorata). It’s in season at the moment and delights the eye as well as the smell.

But little did we know that the sweet violets, flowers and leaves, are edible as well as have medicinal properties. Their extravagant perfume has been appreciated by many in the past history. It is said that Napoleon Bonaparte was attracted by the soothing sweet aroma that makes one smile. He was known to his supporters the Corporal Violet.

A snippet about Napoleon’s love for violets: Violets are native to the Mediterranean, including Napoleon’s home island of Corsica. Therefore he would have been very familiar with the adorable happy little hardy flowers. Perhaps he may as well have picked violet bouquets for his mother as a boy. What we know for sure from history books is that the sweet scent of violets was the favourite fragrance of his first wife, Josephine. Not only she wore violets on her wedding day but every year, on the anniversary of their marriage, Napoleon sent her a bouquet of violets. Napoleon would wear a perfume specially made for him with violet base. (Kane, 2015)

According to the “doctrine of Signatures” herbs will have the shape, color, texture of the organ/system are good to use as remedy. In the case of the Viola, it resembles the heart shape; therefore it would mend an emotionally broken heart. Since time immemorial this humble, yet powerful plant has been used for many ailments. Current research on Viola demonstrated that its chemical constituents, in the form of alkaloids, salicylate, saponin, mucilage, or vitamin C are responsible for the acclaimed therapeutic applications (Chandra 2015) including:

  • Heart tonic both emotional as well as for physical pain;
  • Respiratory conditions;
  • Purification of the blood;
  • Treatment of skin bruises, acne or rashes.

So how can we use the plant to gain such powerful benefits?

I will share two of my favs:

A word of caution: this is a VERY powerful plant: one must use it with care in very small quantities: the saponin component from the plant may cause some stomach for some people.

#1 Violet Tea

  • Infuse 1 teaspoon of dried violet flowers in a 250 grams of warm water;
  • Let it sit for a good 20 minute;

This tea is useful to stimulate the lymphatic flow and aid the liver in purifying the blood. Furthermore it helps expectorate mucus when respiratory problems are present. Additionally, if consumed before bed time, the aroma of the flowers calms the nervous system and helps the mind to quiet down for a restful sleep.

# 2 Violet Flower Fermented Cooling Drink

This one is a very old recipe I learned of from my grandmother.

Ingredients

  • One cup clean sweet violets (viola odorata);
  • 3 Litres of water preferably boiled and cooled;
  • 5 table spoon of honey;
  • The juice from one lemon or a table spook of Apple cider vinegar;

Method:

  • Place all ingredients in a 4 litre wide open jar and let it rest/ferment at room temperature for 7-10 days.
  • Decant and distribute the syrup in flip-top bottles and place the bottles in a safe place to ferment further for up to five days or drink immediately. CAUTION: fermentation will happen more quickly in warmer temperatures. Carefully ensure that all bottles are checked for the carbonation level and release the carbon dioxide during this time. Store the bottles in a cool place.

This drink is wonderful to clear heat and detoxify.

What a great gift we have with this little purple flower.

Disclaimer: I am a qualified holistic wellness, herbalist aromatherapist and nutrition guide; I am not a medical doctor or nurse and do not play one on the internet. Always check with a doctor or medical professional if a medical need arises.

References

Chandra, et al. Curent research in Chemistry,2015, 7:44-52, Phytochemical and Ethnomedicinal Uses of Family Violaceae, https://scialert.net/fulltext/?doi=crc.2015.44.52

Kane, 2015, The Return of Corporal Violet https://regencyredingote.wordpress.com/2015/03/06/the-return-of-corporal-violet/

The Orange Season

Time Tested Solutions for a Healthier Living

I am not a big fan of cold, but I am a big fan of citrus fruits. And now, when the temperatures are dropping into teens the citruses in all their splendour abundance are my go to fruits for many reasons. A not too distant research (Morand et al., 2011), advocated that a component found in oranges, (called hesperidin) may increase the blood flow throughout the body. Interestingly, a little later, another study (Takumi et al., 2012) demonstrated that just eating a few oranges before going out into the cold can make our fingers and toes a little warmer. It makes me wonder, how come the nature knows when to provide these blessed fruits for our benefits?

But did you know that while we all enjoy the juice and the fruit itself, it is the skin peel that brings more health benefits? More often than not it gets thrown out so that the worms in the worm farm benefit.

Soo… you guessed, this blog is more about that orange peel fresh or dry. I’m going to share few ways to use it outlining their beneficial aspects.

#1 Orange Peels Non-toxic Cleaner – Concentrate

There are some specific chemical components, (terpenes, saponins, phenols) in orange peels that make them appealing as natural, non-toxic cleaner. They can be easily extracted using vinegar. Here is how:

  • Take 2 cups orange peels (lemon or lime works too);
  • Fill a jar with 2-3 cups white vinegar;
  • Seal tightly and let it set in a cool dark places for about three weeks;
  • Decant using a sieve into another bottle;

This is the CONCENTRATE cleaner. Therefore it must be diluted before use (50/50 is my preferred. You can dilute more if u want).

Surfaces that this cleaner works as tested by BIBI:

  • Porcelain, fiberglass;
  • Bathroom tiles;
  • Shower glass door – excellent soap scum remover;
  • Toilet cleaner.

Note: I did not use it on other surfaces.

# 2 Orange Flavoured Salt with Awesome Health Benefits

If the oranges are grown organically, their peels are very useful in cooking with exceptional health benefits (Rafiq et al, 2018).

The chemical components that make the peels clean the surfaces in the house, are also responsible for cleaning the body inside out. So hold your horses and do not be surprised because consuming the peels can benefit the body in the following ways:

  • 2a) Weight loss management
    • Orange flavoured tea: Make a tea from fresh or dried orange peels (1 teaspoon + 300 ml boiled water, let infuse for 10 minutes, decant and do not let the peels into the tea as it makes it too bitter. It will add a nice twist of flavour to the green or black tea.
    • Orange flavoured salt: Grind dried orange peel and mix with herbs (thyme, rosemary are my best friends) and your choice of salt.
    • Immunity booster ,Prevention of heart health disorders
      • Use 5 to 9 grams of ground orange peels in serve of yogurt, smoothie or home-made protein bar.

# 3 Orange Infused Oil

In an air-tight jar (0.5 L) add strips of dried orange peel. Cover with olive oil and let it infuse for at least a week in a dark place away from the sunlight. Not only this will make an awesome salad dressing but it will also add a blissful glowing if used on your skin. So what are you waiting for? Start the winter season with some great ways to keep your house, yourself and your skin healthy and glowing.

This oil is perfect for a self-massage: one you can do every day to sooth stress but more importantly to re-energise your body by stimulating the lymph thus helping the body do its own healing. Best time to do it is just before having the bath in the evening.

For more recipes or information on how to aromatically keep your house, yourself and your skin healthy and glowing click contact us.

Disclaimer: I am a qualified holistic wellness and nutrition guide; I am not a medical doctor or nurse and do not play one on the internet. Always check with a doctor or medical professional if a medical need arises.]

References

Morand et al, Am J Clin Nutr, 2011, 93(1):73-80.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21068346

Takumi, et al, Food Funct. 2012;3(4):389-98.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22307524

Rafiq et al, 2018, J Saudi Soc. Agric Sci 17(4) 351-358.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1658077X16300960

Aromatherapy and Gastronomic Treats

Three Gentle Ways for a Life of Great Health

Because it is summer and the last couple of days were a bit hot here in Melbourne, I will dwell a little on the connection between Aromatherapy and Gastronomy. I encourage the exploration of gentle and safe available options using culinary essential oils. As always, this blog is for education only and I strongly encourage consultation with a therapist trained in the specific protocols related to the use of essential oils internally. Be safe first, everything else will follow naturally. If in doubt you are always welcome to contact BIBI Therapy with your enquiries.

Imagination is the only limitation when it comes to harnessing the essential oils benefits to not only enhance the culinary delights you might create, but also to have great health benefits. I will share three of my absolute favourite: Black pepper, Fennel and Juniper berries.

The oil How it works
Black Pepper Piper Nigrum This spice has been linked to gastronomic delight for millennia. Not only it enhances gastrointestinal functionality while boosting nutrients absorption but its rich phytochemistry provides physiological benefits in cognitive brain functioning. (Butt, M et al 2013). Constipation : Abdominal massage ( Buckle, 2003), stimulates the colon and gets the stagnant build up moving again (Turan and Ast, 2016);
Fennel Foeniculum vulgare
Fennel was valued by ancient Chinese, Egyptians as well as Romans. The common denominator the belief that it conveyed longevity, courage and strength. Fennel seeds have also been used for hundreds of years as a digestive aid. Fennel essential oil has long been used as an appetite suppressant and is believed by some to help with weight loss. It is beneficial for the digestive system and is believed to be a tonic for fatigue. It is also one of the best detoxifying essential oils and is much used in lymphatic drainage massage. Irritable bowel syndrome(Portincasa et al, 2016): Abdominal massage with diluted oil or taken internally (1-2 drops) in a favourite smoothie Alcohol poisoning: Fennel can be taken internally in the form of tea decoction ; Additional information on safe use can be found following the link. Not to be taken in pregnancy or lactation.
Juniper berries Juniperus communis Known for its flavouring qualities of famous spirits designated as gins. The many chemical components existing in this balsamic pine scented oil make it very useful as antiseptic diuretic, tonic as well as bactericidal and strong fungicidal properties (Pepeljnjak et al, 2005). Can provide effective relief from bloating (Bouyahyaoui et al 2016)

My preferred way is to use them in a flavoured salt with wither the oils or the actual spices: Metabolism Enhancing Detoxifying Flavoured Salt

Here is how to make it: two drops from each of the essential oils (Black pepper, Fennel and Juniper) mixed with 100 g salt (Himalayan Pin, Celtic Gray, Sea salt etc). If you prefer grounding the actual spices you might like the following ratio: one table spoon Fennel seeds, one table spoon of Black pepper and juniper berries. De gustibus non disputandum est, along the line with in matter of taste there can be no disputes.

CAUTION!!! It is important to be aware that any of the oils described here are very powerful and should only be used in very small quantities. Avoid using them if pregnant or if you undergo chemotherapy as the components in these oils interact with the treatment; consult your natural therapist or doctor.

Wishing you a great green time this March 2019.

Precautions

  • The use of any oil should not replace any prescribed course of treatment. If you have a sensitive skin, make sure you conduct a patch test before you splash essential oils on your skin;
  • Always dilute the essential oils, ratio of 2-3 drops with a teaspoon of carrier oil of your choice and
  • remember to check with a practitioner who specialises in aromatherapy before attempting to use any essential oil. This is especially important if you are pregnant, nursing or undertaking any special medication including homeopathic medication.

Sources

Buckle, J.,Clinical Aromatherapy. 2003; 20: 310, One of the simplest and most gentle ways to ease constipation is through abdominal massage using essential oils.

Turan and Ast, Gastroenterol Nurs., The Effect of Abdominal Massage on Constipation and Quality of Life; 2016; 39(1) 48-59.

Bouyahyaoui et al, Nat Prod Commun. Antimicrobial Activity and Chemical Analysis of the Essential Oil of Algerian Juniperus phoenicea. 2016: 11(4):519-522

Butt, MS et al Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. Black pepper and health claims: a comprehensive treatise. 2013; 53(9): 875-886; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23768180

Pepeljnjak S, et al, Antimicrobial activity of juniper berry essential oil (Juniperus communis L., Cupressaceae). 2005; 55(4):417-422; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16375831

Portincasa P et al, J Gastrointestin. Liver Dis, Curcumin and Fennel Essential Oil Improve Symptoms and Quality of Life in Patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, 2016; 25(2)151-157 ; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27308645

Allergies Seasonal Allergies – What can Essential Oils Do for YOU

Are you suffering from occasional allergies in spring or early summer?

Read this first:

There are risks and potential complications of using essential oils: this is particularly true for allergic prone people

  1. Pain, swelling, or tenderness of the skin;
  2. Itchiness;
  3. Hives, rash, or boils;
  4. Digestive upset;
  5. Difficulty breathing.

Essential oils can be used as an alternative or complementary treatment for allergy symptoms.

Before using the Essential oils BIBI Therapy always conducts an Allergy test reaction. Apply a small dose of essential oil (1–2 drops) diluted in 3–6 drops of carrier oil and apply to an inconspicuous area of skin (such as the abdomen, thigh, inner arm, etc.).

Allow the oil to fully absorb into your skin and then examine the area over the course of several hours. If any redness, pain, itchiness, swelling, or other adverse symptoms result, you may have sensitivity to that oil.

Aromatherapy can be used in various ways to assist you with this ailment:

  • diffusing them into the air;
  • using them in bath and spa products;
  • applying them onto the skin ( diluted);
  • or breathing them directly from a nasal container.

Picture of hand-test for allergies.
Allergy Testing