Tag Archives: Immune system

Women Vitamins: Turmeric: Golden Spice-Golden Promise


golden greetersSunny days of summer, and I have planted golden marigolds to greet any visitors at my door.  I love their warm color, their optimism, and their hardy nature.  They also remind me of India…and thoughts of India remind me of that wonderful, holy spice: turmeric.

Turmeric has been used as a holy spice in both India and China for thousands of years.  It is considered holy because of all the benefits that come from using turmeric: it heals wounds, cures infections, and has a whole host of other benefits.

Recently, research  has focused on turmeric’s main ingredient: curcumin.  It seems to have an  astonishing array of antioxidant, anti-cancer, antibiotic, and antiviral properties.

Turmeric has been shown to influence more than 700 genes and seems to actually
  • Strengthen and improve digestion
  • Support healthy liver function and detoxification
  • Purify the blood
  • Fight cancer, arthritis and Alzheimer’s disease
  • Contributes to well-being with anti-inflammatory properties
Evidence also suggests turmeric may play a beneficial role in fighting:

  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Psoriasis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Cataracts
  • Gallstones
  • Muscle regeneration
  • Inflammatory bowel disease

In 2009 researchers discovered that curcumin acts by inserting itself into cell membranes thus making them more orderly; a move that improves cells’ resistance to infection and malignancy.

Scientists speculated that curcumin did its health-promoting work by interacting directly with membrane proteins, but the 2009 findings suggest that curcumin  regulates the action of membrane proteins indirectly, by changing the physical properties of the membrane.

Curcumin “disciplines” cells and get them back into working order. When curcumin enters a cell, the study’s lead researcher Ayyalusamy Ramamoorthy (University of Michigan)  said:
“The membrane goes from being crazy and floppy to being more disciplined and ordered, so that information that flows through it can be controlled.”
This not only improves your cells’ resistance to infections, but it also may help prevent cancer.”
Turmeric is commonly used in India, and the prevalence of 4 common U.S. cancers — colon, breast, prostate and lung — is 10x’s lower.  In fact prostate cancer, so devastatingly common in America, seldom afflicts Indian men.
Curcumin has been shown to:
  • Inhibit the proliferation of tumor cells
  • Inhibit the transformation of cells from normal to tumor
  • Help the body destroy mutated cancer cells so they cannot spread
  • Decrease inflammation
  • Enhance liver function
  • Inhibit the synthesis of a protein thought to be instrumental in tumor formation
  • Prevent the development of additional blood supply necessary for cancer cell growth
Research from the University of Texas: M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, have found that curcumin blocks a key biological pathway needed for development of arthritis, melanoma, and other cancers including breast and pancreatic cancers.
Turmeric can be used in your cooking routinely…it adds a warm, earthy tone to pork and chicken, does wonders in curry sauces, on cauliflower, and in egg salad.  If the flavor doesn’t appeal to you, there are always supplements in capsule form.  Be wary of buying curry powder, as the amount of turmeric in curry powder is minimal.
Be healthy, be safe, take your women vitamins and be blessed, Kersten
-as always, this article is for educational and informational purposes only…any regime should be carefully thought out and planned with your health care provider…
holy spice of India

Curcumin plant of golden promises

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Women Vitamins: To Sleep, Perchance to Live Longer & Better


Main health effects of sleep deprivation (See ...
Image via Wikipedia

Oh those blissful days of summer. We anticipate more sunshine, more vitamin D,  more pleasurable activities, and possibly less sleep.

We live away from the natural circadian rhythm of light and darkness that ruled our ancestors lives. We are sleeping less, at later times, thinking that we can make it up “some day.”

The truth is, we need sleep and  our body seems to work best with 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep…  We need to sleep during the darkest hours, and we need to sleep regularly.  Contrary to what you may tell yourself, there really is no making up lost sleep.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Americans slept an average of 9 hours, based on available light. Now  the average American sleeps 7.5 hours, a shortening mostly likely to accommodate more working hours or the pursuit of increased recreational and pleasure times.

6 or less hours of sleep falls under the label of sleep deprivation. Although we may get used to feeling fatigued or un-rested, the truth is that sleep deprivation aggravates and accelerates aging and ill-health. Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and memory loss are common symptoms of an un-rested life.

16 studies involving more than 1.3 million participants who were followed for up to 20 years, has revealed that people who sleep for less than 6 hours each night are more likely to die prematurely.

Professor Francesco Cappuccio, of the Sleep, Health, and Society Programme at the University of Warwick (UK) worked  with the Federico II University Medical School in Naples, Italy. His research found that people who slept less than six hours each night were 12% more likely to die prematurely than those who got the recommended 6-8 hours of rest.

Researchers also found that adults under 40 who typically slept for 5 hours or less each night had a greater accumulation of belly fat, both the “superficial” fat layers just below the skin and the “visceral” fat that surrounds the abdominal organs.  Research suggests that sleep loss alters people’s levels of appetite-regulating hormones — which could  account for the urge to overeat and it’s subsequent obesity.  Cortisol, (a stress hormone that stimulates the storage of fat cells, particularly around the waist area), is also activated by the lack of consistent sleep.

Tips for a good night’s sleep:

  • Get regular, daily exercise.  A study by Stanford University revealed that after 16 weeks of moderate exercise, participants fell asleep about 15 minutes earlier and slept about 45 minutes longer.
  • Stop eating after 7PM, and avoid before-bed snacks, particularly grains and sugars which raises blood sugar levels and inhibits sleep.
  • Eat a high-protein snack several hours before bed. Protein provides the L-tryptophan need to produce melatonin and serotonin, two components of good sleep.
  • Listen to relaxation cd’s, nature sounds, or white noises CD’s.
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and most liquid drinks before bed.
  • Read something religious or spiritual, practice meditation and pray…all these ease the mind
  • Sleep in the dark, unplug electronics with LED red or blue lights, light interfers with the  pineal gland’s production of melatonin and seratonin…even a brief flash of light can disrupt this production.
  • Don’t watch TV before bed, and get your TV out of the bedroom. TV stimulates your brain and it will take longer to fall asleep.
  • During winter months, wear socks to bed. Cold feet affect the quality of your sleep. Wearing socks reduces night waking.
  • Get to bed fairly early.Your body does most of its repair and recovery between 11 PM and 1AM.
  • Keep your bedroom cool, somewhere around 70 – 74 degrees. Your sleep is disturbed if you are too hot.

Sleep well, sleep enough, stay healthy, take your women vitamins, and be blessed, Kersten

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Women Vitamins: Soap, Soil, and Soul


Making Mud Pies
Image by ‘Playingwithbrushes’ via Flickr

After a long dreary winter, the sun shines bright and hearts are light, deep in the heart of Texas….. Spring is here with the jasmine and roses in bloom, the greening of oak and lawns…. I remember spring days as a child. The joy of being outdoors unfettered by snow suits and boots, mittens and scarves….oh the freedom and pleasure of spring in Dakota.

Making mud pies was an all time favorite sport. Normally, my fastidious mother discouraged gratuitous encounters with dirt. But making that perfect mud pie was an art. Patting that mud into a workable consistency, forming it into the pie shape, using the fore-finger to finesse the edges on that crust….mmmmm.. (I wonder if that is why I love working clay into sculptures and do all my own lawn work?)

I can’t remember the last time I saw a child playing in the mud…..I don’t count my intermediate students who purposefully stride thru mud as players.

I feel sort of sad for them….we are disconnected from our Earth and have lost the cycles of preparing soil and sowing  and reaping.

We don’t put our hands in the soil, we don’t connect with the microbes that support our healthy lives. In fact, we do our best to avoid any and all bacteria, to our own ultimate detriment.

In the art room, kids will ask to go to the restroom to wash their hands. I point at the sinks in our room and say “Ok, wash!” The look at the sink and then at me and say, “But there’s no soap.” I point to the soap bars by the sink, and they look bewildered. Can you believe 12 and 13 year olds are not recognizing soap if it is not in a foam or cream formate?

The most common forms of soap are now anti-bacterial, which sounds great– in theory. But the fact is, we need bacteria. Not all bacteria are bad. Bacteria are fundamental for our immune and digestive systems. We are anti-bacterializing our everyday world, we avoid the Earth; we are cleaning ourselves into poor health and possibly death.

Not only are we targeting bacteria, we are also doing it with a questionable substance. Look at the label on your anti-bacterial soap, laundry detergent, deodorant, toothpaste, mouthwash,  some common home accessories (plastic dish mats and utensils), towels, and even clothing .  See if you can find a listed ingredient: TRICLOSAN.

Triclosan is a bacterial inhibitor  used since the 70’s. It really works great fighting staph infections. But when exposed to chlorinated water, triclosan converts to chloroform and dioxins.  Chloroform is a carcinogen and dioxins are documented endocrine disruptors. Triclosan is also impacts thyroid hormone concentrations. Triclosan is found in our water supplies.  It kills fish and disrupts hormones in the bullfrog .  It has been found in the urine of 75% of the population, and in 3 out of 5 samples of human milk.

The FDA, aware of triclosan related concerns for almost 40 years, has evaluated triclosan since 2008, and in April 2010, released a recommendation of continued investigation.

A comprehensive analysis from the University of Michigan School of Public Health indicated that plain soaps are just as effective as consumer-grade antibacterial soaps with triclosan in preventing illness and removing bacteria from the hands.

Alternative cleansing ingredients shown effective include herbs (thyme, oregano), silver and copper ions, and nano-particles.

I say: let’s introduce our children to the fine art of making mud pies.  Let’s put our hands back into the soil,plant our own plants,  and keep our houses clean with Grandma’s organic cleaning methods.

Be happy, be healthy, take the best women vitamins, and be blessed, Kersten

Soil for the Soul

Reconnecting With Earth

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Women Vitamins: Turmeric vs the Tumor


A while back, I wrote a blog about turmeric, an ancient spice with a lot of modern applications.  You’d be amazed by the vast and varied benefits that turmeric offers.

Turmeric

Image via Wikipedia

Turmeric gets its rich yellow color from the natural pigment, curcumin.  Curcumin has the potential of lowering cholesterol levels, improving cardiovascular health, reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s and diabetes, and fighting certain cancers, particularly pancreatic and breast cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society, almost 195,000 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in the US this year, and over 40,000 will die from the disease.

Pancreatic cancer is the 9th most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States. Pancreatic cancer is initially difficult to detect and it is estimated that roughly 29,000 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer every year.

Both breast and pancreatic cancers present in forms of tumors.

Compounds found in spices may reduce the risk of breast cancer formation by stopping the growth of the stem cells that spawn the tumors.

Researchers from the University of Michigan released a study: “Targeting breast stem cells with the cancer preventive compounds curcumin and piperine” in which they report that curcumin, found in turmeric, and piperine, found in black peppers, decreased the number of stem cells while having no effect on normal differentiated cells.

“If we can limit the number of stem cells, we can limit the number of cells with potential to form tumors,”  Madhuri Kakarala.

The results of the study suggest these dietary compounds could reduce the risk of cancer by targeting stem cells.  While the amount of curcumin and piperine ingested were at doses 20x’s more than would be consumed in a meal, supplements afford a reasonable vehicle for higher dosages.

”The concept that dietary compounds can help is attractive, and curcumin and piperine appear to have very low toxicity.”  Kakarala

Another small study, published in the American Association for Cancer Research’s Clinical Cancer Research, was conducted by researchers at the University of Texas – MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Curcumin was given to patients with advanced pancreatic cancer.  Although the amount of curcumin found in the blood serum was low, indicating low level bioavailability, several patients did see a decrease in pancreatic tumors.

A 2009 study in German involving the Wilms’ Tumor Gene1, (WT1), showed astounding results.  When curcumin was given with siRNA (silencing RNA that interferes with the gene expression) almost 90% of the WT1 was downgraded. They concluded:

“Targeting WT1 gene expression with siRNA may enhance the efficacy of curcumin to inhibit cell proliferation.”

Turmeric an essential ingredient in curry powder, can also be purchased as a “stand alone” spice.  The rhizome (root) of turmeric has been used for ages in the east (Asia/India) as traditional medicine to help with gastrointestinal upset, arthritic pain, and “low energy”.

I am going to add 2 recipes for turmeric….turmeric tea and golden milk….both are soothing beverages that can calm the mind and the stomach.  Both taste pleasant and you can add honey to sweeten the flavor, if you so choose.

Turmeric Tea

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
  • lemon (optional)
  • honey (optional)

Bring water to a boil. Reduce heat and add ground turmeric. Simmer for 10 minutes. Strain into a mug using a mesh strainer or cheesecloth.  Add honey and/or lemon to taste.

Golden Milk

  • 1/8 teaspoon Turmeric
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons almond oil (organic)
  • honey (optional)

-Boil  Turmeric in about 1/4 cup water for 7-10 minutes – this forms a thick paste, add water as needed, keep stirring

-While this mixture is boiling, bring 1 cup milk & 2 tablespoons almond oil up to a gentle boil

-As soon as it starts to boil, TAKE IT OFF THE STOVE!  (don’t let it scorch)

-Combine the milk with the turmeric mixture

-Add honey (optional) to taste


Stay healthy, take your Women Vitamins, and be blessed, Kersten

Turmeric powder 薑黃粉

Image via Wikipedia

This article is purely informational.  As with any new diet or change in health or lifestyle routine, please consult with your physician or health care provider first.
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Women Vitamins: Listening to that Still, Small Voice


About 10 years ago, while my loving father was dying of cancer, I wondered if Dad had heard any messages from his body about the cancer…and I realized that I no longer heard messages from my body.

I know that I “heard” my body as a child.  I remembered that  if I didn’t get meat for dinner, I had a tummy ache that night,  if I didn’t get outdoors to play, I felt grumpy and anti-social.  If I had not forgiven or been forgiven, I felt awful and achy all over.  Then I sort of forgot to listen, for too many years.  And I knew I had to start listening again.

I was lucky, I was ready, and the Universe supplied me with wonderful teachers who taught me to be still and listen again.

You may not find a teacher as quickly as I did, but I know that we can teach ourselves to hear:  Be still and listen…hear your heart, your joints, your breath, your muscles and the alignment of your bones.  Listen to your organs, the stomach telling you  it is satisfied before the plate is empty, the joy of your heart when you forgive or are forgiven, the blessing of the sun upon your face in early morn.

Listening to your body is not something we are taught.  We run ourselves ragged thinking we can always rest later, eat later, resolve issues later, be healthy later…and then when our system breaks down, we run to a doctor and hope for a prescribed pill to put us immediately to rights….and we are off again, never having taken time to deal with the real issues.

We are delicate machines, meant be maintained by the  healthy equilibrium of body, mind and spirit…  We have lost the ability to hear our body’s thirst, pain, and hunger.  We filter the  “I’m out of balance” cry…it’s too inconvenient and maybe too uncomfortable to acknowledge that voice.

7chakra
7 chakras for balanced health

In yoga, we learn there are 7 chakras, each a portal for a particular energy center:

The Root Chakra affects the health, structure and safety of your body. This chakra, symbolized by the color red,  is associated with how one’s body links to the material world.

The orange-colored, Naval Chakra is associated with the feelings of love, passion, sexuality and pleasure.

The Solar Plexus Chakra is found just above the navel and below the chest. This yellow chakra is the point at which

self-control, will power, authority and discipline are focused.

The Heart Chakra, green in color,  is found in the middle of the chest. Love and understanding are the focused in this chakra.

Located in the throat area  is the sky blue Throat Chakra that is linked to communication and understanding.

The Brow Chakra sometimes called the Third Eye Chakra is indigo in color, and is associated with sensitivity outside the physical sphere as a clairvoyance-related focus point.

The Crown Chakra dwells at the center point on top of the head, and is concerned with the spirit and the mind. One’s consciousness and items related to the High Self are dictated by the violet-coloured Crown Chakra.

My shamanic teachers often mentioned that unresolved issues manifested as disease in specific areas…..throat problems when you didn’t speak your truth, leg cramps and foot problems when you weren’t on the path you should be on, heart issues with unresolved emotional wounds and abandonment, stomach issues over dealing with authority, anger and the inability to forgive, eye problems when you refused to see the truth….

Some of this may be over simplified…perhaps…some is just uncomfortable truth…

So what am I saying?

Take time to listen to your deepest, inner-most self….It wants to start a conversation with you.

Learn to bless the  foods you prepare that satisfy your deeper needs… instead of filling up on hollow-calorie junk foods. Relearn the sweetness of fruits instead of grabbing those sugary processed foods.  Enjoy the exhilaration of a brisk walk, a run around the block, take a bike ride to the local park instead of playing on the computer or watching TV for hours.  Gather your friends and family members around you and bless them for the richness they add to your life.

Listen to that still, small voice.  Be healthy, take your vitamins for women, and be blessed, Kersten

Apple pear banana
Image by DeusXFlorida via Flickr
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Vitamins for Women: The Sweetness of a Kiss


Valentine’s Day is right around the corner…what a beautiful holiday: dedicated to love, joy, appreciation, and peace.  We think of candy and cards and flowers and kissing….just makes you feel better thinking about it, doesn’t it?

Out of those 4, let’s examine my fave: KISSING!  Nothing beats a good kiss, a sweet kiss, a kiss of atonement, a kiss of forgiveness, a kiss that wipes away despair and loneliness.  There are kisses of passion and kisses of tenderness, kisses of joy and kisses of promise.

The kiss is universal; it expresses affection and needs no translation.

Kissing is also good for you.  In fact, some of the health benefits of kissing are just amazing!  Consider these facts:

  • Kissing your partner good morning and goodbye can add 5 years to your life
  • Kissing improves your self esteem…you feel appreciated and it boosts your state of mind
  • Kissing releases stress, tension, lessens negative energy and produces a sense of well-being
  • Kissing burns up calories…about 3 calories a minute and your metabolic rate rises
  • Kissing passionately at least 3 times a day (minimum lip locking time of 20 seconds) can cause you to lose a pound a year…Can you say “I’m on a kissing diet?”
  • Kissing utilizes 30 facial muscles and can actually tighten facial features, prevent baggy cheeks, smooths the skin and increases circulation
  • Kissing frequently seems to make you less likely to suffer from bladder, blood, and stomach infections
  • Kissing stimulates  secretion of natural antibodies in the saliva and a type of anesthetic that helps alleviate pain
  • Kissing lowers the stress hormone cortisol
  • Kissing increases adrenaline that pumps up the heart, causing better circulation
  • Kissing frequently has been proven to stabilize cardiovascular activities, improving your heart’s health
  • Kissing decreases blood pressure and lowers cholesterol
  • Kissing reduces anxiety
  • Kissing stops the “negative noise/talk” in your mind
  • Kissing increases oxytocin levels which in turn calms you and produces peaceful feelings
  • Kissing produces endorphins that are 200 times more powerful than morphine.

Whew!

So I say, pucker up baby and start kissing!pucker up for womens health

Happy Valentine’s Day, take your vitamins for women, and be blessed, Kersten

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Vitamins for Women: Down for the Count: the 5 Second Rule


I dropped a piece of steak on the kitchen floor the other night. Didn’t mean to, it just sort of slipped right off the plate.

Being a pragmatist who has lived on a Dakota farm, raised commercial Polypay sheep and Arabian horses, camped in the wilderness, cooked on a wood stove, tanned my own buckskin, as well as having visited the interior of Mexico and eaten dog with indigenous peoples, I picked it up, rinsed it off, and proceeded to grill it (medium please, no pink for me).

Polypay Ewes

My 24-year-old daughter was aghast.  She paled, backed away, shook her head, and made sure her steak was on the opposite side of the grill.  “Gross, Mom, how can you?” was her response.  Notice that she did not offer me her steak…

I think we live in a world that is obsessed with diseases and germs and the avoidance of casual physical contact.   Can’t touch or hug students in school any more, never talk to strangers, please don’t kiss the baby….everywhere you look are anti-bacterial soaps and wipes that kill bacteria indiscriminately, the good along with the bad and the ugly.  Not that cleanliness isn’t good…and please do wash your hands with soap, but…

God forbid that our kids get dirty.  Can you remember the last time you saw a muddy child?  We don’t put our hands in the soil; we pay to have our petunias planted and our lawns mown.  We spurn and avoid the microbes and bacteria we need to survive…..that should live in harmonic co-existence.

Anyway, I digress, so let’s get back to the dropped steak…..

I looked online for references to spilled food, and found a great article written in 2007 about the 5 Second Rule.  A couple of students from the University of Connecticut experimented with dropped foods, and came up with a flow chart to help you decide if you should or shouldn’t eat dropped foodstuffs.  Interestingly enough they expanded the 5 Second Rule, and determined it could be more properly called the 30 Second Rule.

You can study the image of their flow chart for yourself and feel free to use if you ever find yourself faced with the choice, “Do I eat this or not?”

Flow Chart 5 Second Rule: I

Now, according to the National Center for Disease Control, food borne illnesses are not serious for most of the 76 million Americans who contract them every year. Although 300,000 of those 76M  are hospitalized and of those, 5,000 do die, the CDC points out that most of the deaths are the very young, people with compromised immune systems, and the elderly.

Foodstuffs dropped on dry floors are the best bets for safe eating if they are first  rinsed/washed and then thoroughly cooked.

Don’t mess around with food dropped on moist or sticky floors, or areas of public traffic.

Oh, and by the way, my steak was delicious, and no…I have not suffered any illness from it.

Be safe, take your women vitamins,  and be blessed, Kersten

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