If you’re a tea lover, you may begin each morning with a cup of your favorite. Green tea is health giving, and it’s particularly tasty flavored with mint. Chai is an warm comforting taste in the afternoon (did you know that “chai” is actually the Indian term for tea?). If you have an upset tummy, ginger tea with honey is the perfect tonic. If you need a pick-me-up, black tea is just the thing. And chamomile tea supports restorative sleep.
Bee product enthusiasts have long touted the health benefits of honey, pollen, royal jelly, and propolis. Bee propolis is sometimes called “bee glue,” and it is a health balm. Research shows it even has anti-cancer properties.
San Diego State University professor, Dr. Seema Patel of the Bioinformatics and Medical Informatics Research Center, completed a review of scientific literature on propolis and cancer. She found animal and laboratory studies that demonstrated that propolis is effective against brain, pancreas, head and neck, kidney and bladder, skin, prostate, breast, colon, liver and blood cancers.
With 300 active compounds, propolis fights cancer in a number of ways. It has anti-angiogenesis properties that inhibit the growth of new blood vessels to supply malignant cells. It inhibits the metatasis of tumors, suppresses the division of malignant cells, and induces apoptosis (programmed cell death). Propolis also supports cancer patients by mitigating the toxic side effects of chemotherapy drugs.
Bees produce propolis from resin they take from pine and other conifer evergreen trees. They combine the resin with flakes of wax and pollen, and carry it back to the hive. With this sticky substance, they patch holes, seal cracks, and construct panels in the hive.
In addition to serving as building material, propolis provides an antiseptic barrier that guards the hive from contamination and from outside attacks from mice, snakes and lizards. The origin of the word propolis is actually from the Greek, for “defense of the city.” Because of its microbial properties, propolis also protects the hive from bacterial and viruses.
Folk medicine practitioners have used propolis for millenia, to heal abscesses, treat wounds, and combat infection. The London pharmacopoeias of the 17th century lists propolis as an official drug.
Contemporary scientific research confirms the health benefits of propolis. There have been more than 2,000 studies on bee propolis, demonstrating the following benefits:
1. Anti-Microbial Action
Propolis fights bacteria, fungi and viruses. In one study, a propolis solution was applied to diabetic rats, and was shown to speed healing.
Propolis is an effective treatment in children to ward off respiratory tract infections, fight symptoms of the common cold, and prevent ear infections.
2. Healing of Burns
A 2002 study from the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine determined that propolis may facilitate the healing of minor burns. The researchers performed a comparison of a propolis skin cream with silver sulfadiazine, a standard drug for treatment of burns. Propolis proved as effective as the drug in treating second degree burns.
3. Prevention of Dental Caries
Greek and Roman physicians recommended propolis as a mouth disinfectant. Modern research shows it can be effective in the treatment of periodontitis and gingivitis. Extracts from propolis also limit bacterial plaque and reduce tooth decay. Other studies indicate propolis may support regeneration of dental pulp, bone tissue and cartilage.
4. Treatment for Parasites
Early studies show propolis may eliminate parasite infestations. In one study, subjects had a 52 to 60 percent success rate in eliminating giadiarsis.
5. Wart Removal
One study of 135 subjects with two distinct types of warts were given oral propolis, echinacea, or a placebo. Results appeared in the International Journal Dermatology. The cure rates were 75 percent for plane warts and 73 percent for common warts, far above cure rates for echinacea or placebo.
You may be surprised to know that most of the “cinnamon” sold in Europe and North America is actually not cinnamon at all. It is a similar spice more properly known as cassia, and it does not provide the valuable health benefits of Ceylon cinnamon. Ceylon cinnamon is in Sri Lanka, India, Madagascar, Brazil and the Caribbean. Cassia, sometimes called Chinese cinnamon or Saigon cinnamon, is grown primarily in Indonesia, China, Vietnam, Japan and Korea.
Cinnamon has been used for thousands of years to seas food and for its medicinal qualities. Ancient Egyptians used cinnamon in their embalming rituals. The Emperor Nero showed his devotion to his late wife by having a year’s supply of cinnamon burned on her funeral pyre.
There are several differences between the two cinnamons. Ceylon cinnamon costs more and is more difficult to find. It is more refined, lighter and sweeter than cassia, and it is a better choice for use in sweet desserts. The heaver cassia cinnamon is suited to savory dishes.
A more important difference, however, is the level of coumarin, a natural compound that functions as a blood thinner when ingested. Cassia has a much higher level of coumarin than Ceylon cinnamon. In fact, patients on blood thinning medications such as warfarin are encouraged to limit their intake of cinnamon, but this applies much more to cassia than real cinnamon.
Both kinds of cinnamon are very good sources of manganese, a trace mineral essential to healthy bones and the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats. They are both rich in dietary fiber, iron and calcium. Fiber and calcium work together to lower the likelihood of colon cancer, reduce cholesterol levels, and relieve constipation and diarrhea.
Here are six reasons to eat the real cinnamon, every day:
1. It lowers blood sugar levels. – Cinnamon normalizes blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetics by reducing insulin resistance. Less than half a teaspoon a day reduces blood sugar levels.
2. It improves heart health. – A research study completed in 2003 found that type 2 diabetic subjects who ate between one and six grams of cinnamon (about 2 teaspoons) daily for 40 days lowered their blood sugar levels by 18 – 29 percent, and also reduced triglycerides by 23 to 30 percent, their LDL (bad) cholesterol by 7 to 27 percent, and their total cholesterol by 12 to 26 percent.
3. It assists in blood clotting. – Extensive research has shown cinnamon supports the healthy clotting of blood platelets.
4. It fights bacteria and fungus – Ayurvedic medicine prizes cinnamon for its anti-microbial qualities. Cinnamon fights not just bacteria, but also viruses, fungi and Candida.
5. It boosts memory and protects the brain.- The simple act of smelling cinnamon, or chewing cinnamon flavored gum, improves brain activity. Research shows it improves memory attention, and cognition.
6. It improves digestion. – Traditional Chinese medicine uses cinnamon for flatulence, nausea and diarrhea. It supports digestion of fruit and dairy products.
Although both cassia and Ceylon cinnamon offer some health benefits, spend a little extra month and get the real thing. You will notice it is a lighter shade of brown, a finer texture and a sweeter scent – and it is work the extra expenditure of time and money.
If you’re a fan of Indian food, you are probably familiar with turmeric. This bright orange herb gives curry its vibrant color, and it is used in most Indian dishes. What you may not know is that Ayurveda, the traditional medicine of India, uses turmeric as a medicinal ingredient.
Arnica flowers and roots have been used for health purposes for hundreds of years. If you are live an active lifestyle, consider adding arnica oil to your alternative health first-aid kid. Arnica oil is an exceptional treatment for exercise injuries, bruises and sprains.
Americans in ever greater numbers are using non-traditional approaches to healthcare. CAM is an umbrella term used for complementary medicine and alternative medicine. These two approaches to health are often seen as interchangeable, but they are actually distinct.
Your thyroid produces a hormone that controls every cell in your body. It regulates your brain, your heart, your metabolism, and your libido. No other hormone has this kind of power in your body. So when your thyroid is not working well, your body is not working well.
There are few things more uncomfortable than a stopped-up nose. If your nose is running, and you’re having post-nasal drip, you may imagine that mucus is the culprit. However, nasal congestion is actually a blockage of the passages due to swelling of the membranes lining the nose, caused by inflamed blood vessels.
If you’re throwing a backyard party this summer, you know your guests will be excited about a red, ripe watermelon. But after the melon is cut and served, don’t thrown away those seeds! In an earlier article, we highlighted 10 healthy benefits of watermelon seeds, which are surprisingly packed with nutrients. But there are more – in fact, here are 10 more health benefits of watermelon seeds.
There is no question we need to protect ourselves against mosquitoes. Most commercial sprays on the market, however, contain toxic chemicals that can have dangerous side effects when absorbed into skin. Fortunately, there are natural approaches that work.