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Vitamin D used to be discussed simply in the context of rickets, the dramatic weakening and softening of bones caused by severe calcium and phosphorous deficiency (a condition directly linked to severe vitamin D deficiency).

For many years, this myopic view kept the medical mainstream’s focus on preserving only the minimum levels of vitamin D necessary to maintain bone health. While warding off rickets is certainly a worthy goal, it’s just one of vitamin D’s countless functions.

Though we’ve known of vitamin D’s vital and multi-faceted role in maintaining health for some time, only in recent years have we begun to take this knowledge to heart.

Even the mainstream now acknowledges that vitamin D—which isn’t just a vitamin, but actually a steroid hormone—directly affects nearly every cell in your body. It’s essential for the health of every major system in the body—it protects the heart and brain, bolsters the immune system, ensures the integrity and proper signaling of cells throughout the body, prevents mood imbalances and mental illnesses, and even facilitates DNA repair. And that’s just scratching the surface.

One of the more unexpected ways benefits of this essential nutrient is its ability to prevent and heal insulin resistance and diabetes.

Vitamin D deficiency and diabetes risk

Researchers have suspected for some time that vitamin D plays a role in healthy glucose metabolism, but recent studies have confirmed that it’s even more invaluable than previously thought. In fact, vitamin D deficiency may be more closely linked to the development of type 2 diabetes than obesity (which was once considered one of its greatest risk factors).

Researchers determined this link by observing that individuals with low vitamin D serum levels are dramatically more likely to be pre-diabetic or diabetic, regardless of their weight.[1] In other words, vitamin D deficiency is an even more accurate predictor of your diabetes risk than whether or not you’re overweight.

The exciting takeaway of this study is that you can significantly lower your risk of developing metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes by maintaining optimal vitamin D serum levels (40-60 ng/ml).

This prescription is supported by other studies too, including one that conclusively demonstrated that vitamin D supplementation can prevent pre-diabetes from progressing into fully developed type 2 diabetes. Astoundingly, every unit increase in vitamin D levels decreased study participants’ risk of progressing into diabetes by 8%.[2]

Natural healing for diabetics

And vitamin D’s diabetes-healing abilities aren’t limited to prevention—many studies have demonstrated that raising vitamin D levels can aid those who already have diabetes, as well.

One prominent study found that type 2 diabetics who were given 50,000 IU of vitamin D per week for eight weeks experienced reductions in both fasting plasma glucose and insulin,[3] and another study demonstrated that vitamin D supplementation increased insulin sensitivity by a whopping 54%.[4]

While the mechanisms by which vitamin D works its magic are complex, there are a couple notable reasons why it’s particularly healing for metabolic disorders. For starters, studies have shown that vitamin D is one of the primary factors that regulate and normalize insulin secretion.[5] Other experts believe that its effect upon calcium and phosphorous metabolism (the mechanism by which it keeps bones strong) is linked to a modulation of glucose metabolism (and thus to insulin sensitivity). Vitamin D even heals diabetes epigenetically by upregulating (i.e. “turning on”) the gene that controls insulin receptors, thereby increasing insulin sensitivity.[6]

So whether you’re already living with diabetes or simply want to prevent its onset, maintaining optimal vitamin D serum levels is a wise choice.

Get tested and take action

First things first: get your vitamin D level tested in order to determine whether you have a deficiency (the test can easily be ordered by any doctor, and there are many at-home test kits available too). If you’ve never supplemented with vitamin D, you’re probably deficient, but it’s still helpful to know exactly how far your serum levels are from optimal.

Next, make a plan that allows you to maintain an optimal level of 40-60 ng/ml year-round. Sun exposure is the easiest and most powerful way to get vitamin D (contrary to popular opinion, sun avoidance is much more dangerous than the sun itself). Depending on your skin tone, 8-24 minutes of direct sun exposure (on as much of your body as possible) will allow your body to manufacture all the vitamin D it needs.

This approach poses problems during non-summer months, though (especially in northern latitudes), so you’ll need to get your vitamin D from other sources too. Eating vitamin-D-rich foods like fatty fish, eggs, and vitamin-D-fortified products are a good start, but supplementation is by far your best option.

Make sure you supplement with D3 (not D2), and seek out a formula with liposomal delivery, which vastly increases its absorbability.

Most importantly, don’t put this off! Making the effort to maintain healthy vitamin D levels just might be one of the simplest and most powerful ways you can optimize your health on every level.


References

[1] http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2015-02/tes-vdd021815.php

[2] http://www.nephrologynews.com/raising-low-vitamin-d-levels-lowers-risk-of-prediabetes-progressing-to-diabetes-in-study/

[3] https://dmsjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1758-5996-5-8

[4] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9516221?dopt=Abstract

[5] http://www.eje-online.org/content/105/4/528.short

[6] http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/cbf.951/abstract

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By now, you’re probably well aware of the dangers of conventional, processed sugar. Besides being a primary contributor to obesity and weight gain, sugar is completely devoid of beneficial nutrients, and can actually deplete the body of other critical nutrients like magnesium, vitamin D, calcium, and vitamin C.

Worse still, consumption of processed sugar has also been linked to the development of serious health conditions, including chronic inflammation, immune dysfunction, diabetes,[1] heart disease,[2] liver disease, cancer,[3] and high blood pressure.[4]

The natural sugars in fruits and other foods are a whole different story. Sugary whole foods are not what you need to worry about, as long as you consume them alongside a healthy balance of vegetables, clean protein sources, healthy fats, whole grains, seeds, and legumes.

As a general rule, it’s best to avoid all forms of added sugar or sweetener. Luckily, though, there are two notable exceptions to this rule—they not only circumvent many of the issues with processed sugar, but also offer loads of other health benefits.

The first is honey, the virtues of which we’ve discussed at length in previous articles. You’ve probably heard of the second one too: stevia.

How stevia fights the diseases that sugar causes (and tastes just as sweet)

Stevia is a South American plant related to marigolds and chrysanthemums. There are over 200 different varieties, but the one used to make the commonly available sweetener is called Stevia rebaudiana. The plant contains two glycosides that are responsible for its sweetness: stevioside and rebaudioside.

These compounds pack some serious sweetness—between 30 to 200 times that of conventional processed sugar, depending on the form used (more on that below).

Even if stevia was nothing more than a safe alternative to sugar, it would still be worth recommending—but research demonstrates that it also works to heal a number of health conditions (many of same ones that sugar consumption causes). Here are some prominent examples.

Lyme disease. One of stevia’s most fascinating therapeutic applications was only discovered in recent years. Researchers at the University of New Haven compared stevia leaf to the three leading antibiotics for Lyme disease treatment—it was as effective or more so than all the antibiotics, and it carried none of the side effects commonly associated with Lyme antibiotic regimens.[5]

High blood pressure. Studies have shown that stevia can dilate blood vessels and increase sodium excretion (two of the most important mechanisms for maintaining healthy blood pressure).[6]

Diabetes. Replacing sugar with stevia works wonders for preventing and healing diabetes, simply because sugar consumption is a primary risk factor for the metabolic dysfunctions that lead to diabetes. But one study also demonstrated that stevia can actively heal diabetes by dramatically lowering fasting blood sugar levels and balancing insulin sensitivity.[7]

Cancer. In 2012, a prominent study published in Nutrition and Cancer demonstrated that stevioside enhances apoptosis (the process by which cancer cells destroy themselves) and decreases numerous stress markers that contribute to the growth and spread of cancer.[8]

Must-follow practices for safe and effective usage of stevia

If you’ve already done a good amount of research into stevia, you may have heard that its consumption can carry side effects. Specifically, a 1999 study suggested that stevia decreases the fertility of male rats.[9] This may sound like cause for alarm, but it’s not the full story by a long shot.

First and foremost, subsequent research failed to confirm any connection to decreased fertility. Further, the mechanism blamed for this effect—namely that the glycosides in stevia are chemically similar to hormones that could affect fertility—is a property of many other plants, none of which have ever been shown to affect fertility adversely.

Most importantly, only one type of stevia product has any likelihood of causing side effects. As with most products, not all stevia is created equal. Raw green-leaf stevia is the least processed form; because it’s not altered from its natural form, it contains both stevioside and rebaudioside.

When companies create stevia extracts, they usually isolate rebaudioside, which tastes sweeter but lacks most of the benefits of stevioside.

Highly processed forms of stevia, like the popular brand Truvia, are even worse. They not only don’t contain stevioside, but also are made with carcinogenic solvents, and often contain no more than 1% actual stevia!

Many people find raw stevia to have a bitter aftertaste, because it contains stevioside. If you’re going to use stevia as a sweetener, though, it’s critical that you use this unprocessed form, as side effects have only been linked to highly processed products containing only rebaudioside.

If you’re using stevia therapeutically to prevent or treat illness, it’s even more important that you use a product that contains stevioside. Most of the studies cited above used a liquid alcohol extract, which ensures a full-spectrum extraction of glycosides and concentrates the strength of these beneficial compounds.

 


References

[1] http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/26/4/1008

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24493081

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5133084/

[4] https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/1819573

[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4681354/

[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19000919

[7] https://www.researchgate.net/publication/261289491_The_Effect_of_Stevia_Rebaudiana_on_Serum_Omentin_and_Visfatin_Level_in_STZ-Induced_Diabetic_Rats

[8] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23061910

[9] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10619379

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Ginger is valued for many reasons—as a delicious, pungent spice, a tasty tea ingredient, sometimes even as a natural home remedy—but rarely as a bonafide medicine. This beautiful, golden root of ancient and widespread origin has been used for over 5,000 years in the healing systems of India and China, and yet it has been largely ignored by modern medicine.

As interest in functional foods as alternative medicines has grown, however, researchers have finally turned their attention toward the therapeutic properties of ginger. Unsurprisingly, they have confirmed the veracity of nearly every one of its ancient applications—and many experts believe that there are more still to discover. To date, studies suggest that ginger could be helpful for over 170 different medical conditions.[1]

Let’s briefly review what medical research literature says about ginger as medicine. Even this small sampling should make it clear that ginger should be a staple in every household.

Antioxidant activity. One of the first things that researchers noticed when they dug into the bioactive components of ginger was its powerful antioxidant properties. The bioactive compounds in ginger are called gingerols, thirty-one of which have been discovered, and all of which effectively combat oxidative stress.

A large body of research demonstrates that ginger passes all antioxidant tests with flying colors. It has been shown to reduce age-related oxidative stress markers,[2] to suppress the damaging peroxidation of fats,[3] to reduce the production of superoxide (a powerful kind of damaging free radical),[4] to protect levels of glutathione (the body’s “master antioxidant”),[5] to guard against alcohol-induced liver toxicity,[6] and even to reduce a special variety of oxidative stress associated with leukemia and other serious health conditions.[7]

Anti-inflammatory activity. Ginger also fights inflammation, another one of the root causes of disease (along with oxidative stress). This property has made it a popular home remedy for arthritis and other painful conditions. When researchers put it to the test in a controlled setting, they found that ginger did exhibit potent analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects (especially a compound called [6]-gingerol),[8] and that it can be effectively used to manage both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.[9]

The mechanisms through which ginger quells inflammation are much less straightforward than some other remedies (certainly more than NSAIDs and similar painkillers)—it works through a complex web of both inhibitory and excitatory processes that modulate inflammatory response and relieve pain without any of the side effects of OTC medications and prescription drugs.

Nausea relief and stomach support. This is perhaps the folk use for which ginger is best known—at some point, you’ve probably been offered ginger tea for a sour stomach. Once again, modern research has vindicated this well-established use, demonstrating that it effectively calms the nausea and vomiting associated with stomach illness, pregnancy, chemotherapy treatment, and postoperative distress.[10] It also effective for alleviating gas,[11] preventing seasickness,[12] and even treating stomach ulcers.[13]

Natural cancer treatment. As we’ve covered at length in another article, ginger is an incredible natural cancer fighter. It’s been shown to be a whopping 10,000 times more effective than chemotherapy at targeting cancer stem cells (CSCs), the mother cells that control the proliferation of cancer cell colonies—and it works without any side effects. While it’s unlikely that ginger will completely replace chemotherapy and other toxic cancer treatment modalities anytime soon, ginger is being used in clinical settings to attenuate the toxicity, nausea, and other negative side effects associated with chemotherapy.[14]

Disease protection and prevention. The more researchers dig into ginger, the more disease-fighting properties they uncover. Research has demonstrated that ginger can offer powerful protection for your heart (thanks to its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiplatelet, hypotensive, and hypolipidemic properties).[15]

And that’s just the beginning. A steady flow of research has shown that ginger can help prevent or even treat high cholesterol,[16] asthma and allergic diseases,[17] type 2 diabetes,[18] Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia,[19] and inflammatory bowel conditions like ulcerative colitis.[20]

How to make the most of ginger

Some of the studies cited above simply used raw ginger powder to achieve the reported results, so this approach certainly has proven merit (and it’s nearly always the least expensive).

Simply brewing tea with ginger powder (or even mixing the powder into room temperature water) can provide relief from nausea, headaches, and other everyday maladies. Raw ginger root also adds a nice kick to smoothies and cooked dishes, so for an extra antioxidant and anti-inflammatory boost, throw some in whenever you think of it.

If you want to implement ginger as an acute therapeutic agent for the prevention and treatment of disease, though, it’s best to work with concentrated full-spectrum extracts and oils (especially those that have been optimally formulated for high bioavailability).

This product is our favorite, especially if you’re seeking out ginger for any kind of pain relief—it’s a powerful complex of liposomal ginger oil, curcumin (the famed healing component in turmeric), and vegan DHA (which also work wonders for many of the conditions discussed above).

 


References

[1] http://www.greenmedinfo.com/substance/ginger

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11755028

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1588934

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8394839

[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1588934

[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18182172

[7] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11790448

[8] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15588672

[9] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1494322

[10] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10793599

[11] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18403946

[12] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9815340

[13] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8069973

[14] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3361530/

[15] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18037515

[16] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10801908

[17] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18432287

[18] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18361751

[19] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25811848

[20] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18571884

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fenugreek-benefits

You’ve probably already noticed that many of the most popular spices are good for more than just flavoring food dishes. In past articles, we’ve discussed how turmeric, saffron, clove, ginger, cinnamon, coriander, and oregano are all healing powerhouses.

Another spice that deserves to be added to this list is fenugreek, an herb with such potent healing properties that it’s often used as a supplement too.

Ancient practitioners of Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine used fenugreek to treat a wide variety of health problems, including skin conditions, digestion issues, fatigue, and sluggish metabolism

As is the case with most healing spices, fenugreek—or Trigonella foenum-graecum—has been used as a medicinal agent for thousands of years. Spice trade was a huge economic engine of the ancient world, not just because spices taste good, but because they were revered as powerful medicines.

Ancient practitioners of Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine used fenugreek to treat a wide variety of health problems, including skin conditions, digestion issues, fatigue, and sluggish metabolism. It was even used to induce labor.[1]

These applications provide a glimpse into fenugreek’s profound hormone and metabolism balancing abilities. When put to the test by modern researchers, this humble herb more than lived up to its medicinal reputation.

Hormone support for men and women

Endocrine disruption is one of the most prevalent factors underlying many of society’s greatest health issues. Hormones govern a staggering number of processes throughout the body—when they’re thrown out of balance by stress, environmental toxins, and other destabilizing factors, the whole system suffers.

The applications described below are examples of specific ways in which fenugreek heals the body by balancing the endocrine system. It’s important to note, though, that these benefits are symptoms of a greater healing of underlying hormonal processes—healing that leads to overall health, vitality, and longevity (this is why the ancients considered fenugreek a potent tonic for general health).

Increases breast milk production. Insufficient breast milk production is one common effect of endocrine dysfunction. It’s a tragic and widespread issue that adversely affects not only mothers but also nursing children, whose growth and development can be hampered without the optimal nutrition provided by natural breast milk (many available baby formulas are toxic and should not be given to developing children).

Researchers discovered that fenugreek significantly increased milk production compared to placebo,[2] and in some cases even more than doubled it.[3] And best of all, this benefit comes without the cost of any side effects (a constant danger for mothers who take prescription drugs for hormone balance and milk production).

Fenugreek has the amazing ability to provide endocrine support for both women and men

Boosts male testosterone levels and sexual function. Unlike estrogenic supplements for female hormone support (which have an estrogen-specific mechanism and wouldn’t be helpful for men), fenugreek has the amazing ability to provide endocrine support for both women and men.

Studies have demonstrated that it’s an incredible ally for men suffering from low testosterone and low libido. In one study, researchers found that giving men 600 milligrams of fenugreek per day for six weeks increased strength and improved sexual function by boosting testosterone levels.[4]

The boost was even more remarkable for men in a study that combined daily fenugreek supplementation with four weight lifting sessions per week. This group also experienced the added benefit of fat reduction, thanks in part to fenugreek’s metabolism-balancing properties.[5]

Take care of diabetes, cholesterol, and more

Metabolic function—whether in the form of blood sugar metabolism, digestive metabolism, or mitochondrial (energy) metabolism—is also at the heart of many prevalent health problems. Researchers have been pleasantly surprised, though, to find that fenugreek offers great promise in this field, as well.

A must-have for diabetics. Perhaps the most widespread of all metabolic dysfunctions is diabetes. Luckily, studies have demonstrated that fenugreek works remarkably well for improving various markers of blood sugar metabolism. It even improves overall carbohydrate tolerance for non-diabetics, type 1 diabetics, and type 2 diabetics.[6]

One study reported a 54% improvement in 24-hour urinary blood sugar clearance in type 1 diabetics (meaning blood sugar metabolism was boosted),[7] another showed that fenugreek reduced blood sugar levels by 13.4% within four hours,[8] and yet another revealed that fenugreek was better at reducing fasting blood sugar levels than a variety of other well-known diabetes-healing herbs, including milk thistle and cinnamon.[9]

Cholesterol, heartburn, and beyond. Compared to other healing herbs (like turmeric), there have been relatively few studies conducted on fenugreek—but it seems that the more researchers dig, the more healing benefits they find.

There’s evidence that fenugreek improves cholesterol, lowers triglycerides (one of the leading risk factors for heart disease), and even relieves frequent heartburn as effectively as antacids (without the digestion-disrupting effects of this more conventional treatment).

And because fenugreek balances the metabolism, appetite control seems to be an accompanying effect—those who consume it regularly seem to reduce their fat intake significantly.[10]

Some researchers even believe fenugreek to be anti-inflammatory—which would open the herb up to a whole new world of healing potential (given that inflammation is a root cause of nearly every disease). Research has barely been conducted on its traditional applications for skin conditions and digestive issues, so there’s bound to be more and more positive reports about this healing spice in the future.

If you want to try out fenugreek for yourself, start off with 500 milligrams per day and work up to 1,000 milligrams after a few weeks if it agrees with your body. Do your homework to ensure that you’re using the dosage that’s suited to your issue, and always talk to your doctor first if you’re taking other medications.

 


References

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12611558

[2] http://www.pediatricsciences.com/article/view/1050000487

[3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21261516

[4] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21312304

[5] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21116018

[6] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16379570

[7] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2194788

[8] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11370345

[9] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21843614

[10] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19353539

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cinnamon-sticks-and-powder-on-wooden-table

Cinnamon is one of the world’s oldest and most popular spices, and for good reason. Despite its far-flung origins, it’s become part of the Western world’s mainstream spice repertoire.

Its sweet, alluring scent and taste secured it a prominent place in the spice trade of the ancient world. Various civilizations discovered a number of powerfully medicinal uses for it too, and included it in their herbal pharmacopeias.

The ancient Egyptians used it as an embalming agent for pharaohs and other prominent members of society, and Ayurvedic practitioners in India include (and continue to include) it as a substance of primary importance in their highly sophisticated healing system. The Romans even used it as currency.

For these reasons and more, cinnamon was once more valuable than gold.

Luckily, cinnamon is available nowadays at a much more reasonable price…and it certainly hasn’t gotten any less healing over the years.

Modern medicine is finally starting to rediscover the many health benefits of cinnamon, thanks to society’s renewed interest in the healing power of food.

Here’s the catch, though: not all cinnamon is created equal, and you need to seek out a certain kind in order to take advantage of its beneficial properties.

We’ll talk about the different kinds of cinnamon at the end of this article. First, let’s dive in to some of this prized spice’s time-tested healing properties.

A powerful antioxidant and natural anti-inflammatory

For starters, cinnamon is packed with a number of compounds—like cinnamaldehyde, which is responsible for its rich aroma and flavor—that have strong antioxidant effects in the body.[1]

As we’ve discussed in other articles, protecting the body from oxidative damage caused by free radicals is absolutely essential in today’s toxic and stressful world.  Doing so ensures that your immune system, detoxification mechanisms, and cellular metabolism function much more efficiently—which means more energy, less frequent illness, and greater longevity.

Cinnamon outshines tons of other antioxidant-rich foods—even immune-boosting powerhouses like garlic and oregano, and nearly every other spice (with the exception of turmeric).

Many of the polyphenol antioxidants that cinnamon contains are also potently anti-inflammatory.[2] This one-two punch relieves aches and pains, strengthens the immune system, and lowers the risk disease (many health experts maintain that inflammation is the root of all illness).  

Fight illness and disease naturally

These antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties work wonders for preventing illness and disease.

Not only can cinnamon stave off colds and other infections, but a number of studies have even shown it to be effective in the prevention of various cancers[3] and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s[4] and Parkinson’s.[5]

And cinnamon is also great at actively fighting disease once it’s already set in. In fact, it’s an impressively sophisticated full-spectrum pathogen fighter—meaning that it effectively combats bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Cinnamaldehyde—the cinnamon-scented, oily compound mentioned above—kills harmful bacteria and fungi without wreaking havoc on your beneficial bacteria (it works especially well for respiratory infections).

Preliminary research even suggests that cinnamon helps fight the HIV virus (out of 69 promising medicinal plants, it was proclaimed to be the most effective of all).[6]

Help out your heart and your pancreas

Compelling studies also show that cinnamon consumption can drastically reduce the risk of heart disease.

This is partially due to its anti-inflammatory activity, but its work extends even deeper too. The studies found that 1 gram of cinnamon per day lowered LDL cholesterol (the “bad” kind) and triglycerides, increased HDL (the “good” kind), and reduced blood pressure.[7]   

These effects can also be tremendously beneficial for diabetics, who are at much higher risk for developing heart disease.

Good for Your Blood Sugar

In fact, cinnamon is an all-around fantastic ally for diabetics: at slightly higher daily doses (2-6 grams per day), cinnamon can even increase insulin sensitivity and reduce fasting blood sugar levels by up to 29%.[8] It accomplishes this feat by reducing the amount of glucose that is released into the bloodstream and by slowing the breakdown of carbohydrates in the digestive tract.

So no matter what your health needs and priorities are, it’s worth it to incorporate this delicious and versatile spice into our daily routine.

Just make sure to use the RIGHT kind of cinnamon

Now back to that “catch” I mentioned earlier.

There’s actually two main types of cinnamon. One is known as Ceylon cinnamon (or “true cinnamon”). This is the good stuff—the treasured spice that will provide you with all the benefits discussed above.

The other type is Cassia cinnamon (which is sometimes crudely referred to as “bastard cinnamon”). Despite its unseemly nickname, this is the type of cinnamon that is most commonly found in stores.

It lacks many of the healing properties of Ceylon cinnamon, and actually contains a compound called coumarin, which can act as a dangerous blood thinner in higher doses (for this reason, cinnamon is contraindicated for people taking blood thinners, but this danger doesn’t exist with “true” cinnamon).

Cassia cinnamon will undoubtedly continue to be the more widely available variety, because it’s cheaper and more easily sourced. So if you want to reap all the benefits that cinnamon can provide, always seek out Ceylon cinnamon.

Ceylon cinnamon’s flavor is wonderfully refined and sophisticated, so you certainly won’t be sacrificing any enjoyment. It will remind you that cinnamon is not only one of the world’s healthiest spices, but also one of the most delicious.

 


References

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4003790/

[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4003790/

[3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3105590/

[4] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19433898

[5] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24946862

[6] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11094851

[7] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14633804

[8] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19930003

Image source

coriander_16x9

Industrial society has trained us to believe that good health is something that only modern medicine can provide—that true healing only comes in the form of expensive and proprietary products, pills, and technologies.

But sometimes the greatest health solutions are also the subtlest and most ancient ones. And more often than not, you can find them right in your own kitchen.

Here’s a prime example: coriander (also known as cilantro) is a healing dynamo with a whole host of uses and benefits.

It’s also delicious, as you’re probably aware. If you’re not already accustomed to keeping it around the house, here’s some great reasons why you should consider doing so.

You can use it to help detox

Regular detoxification practices (link: detox) help keep us healthy in today’s toxic world. Coriander is particularly good to removing heavy metals from our bloodstream through a process called chelation.

Unfortunately, heavy metals like mercury, lead, and cadmium are ubiquitous in our environment (mostly as industrial byproducts). They destroy the immune system, undermine neurological function, and sap your vitality.

Use cilantro to protect yourself from heavy metal toxicity by juicing it or throwing it in your smoothie. Combining it with lemon, jalapeno, and chlorella (a maybe a little granny smith apple or beet for sweetness) creates one heck of a detox juice.

It’s an anti-diabetic agent

The secretion of hormones throughout the body (including insulin) is regulated by the endocrine system. When its processes are thrown out of balance by endocrine-disrupting toxins (which are everywhere, by the way), the risk of diabetes increases (and the dangers become greater for those who already suffer from diabetes).

Coriander aids the endocrine system, regulates the secretion of insulin by the pancreas, and ensures that the proper amount of sugar is absorbed into the bloodstream. By this same process of hormone regulation, coriander also helps reduce menstrual cramps.

So while there’s no substitute for proper diet and lifestyle when it comes to treating diabetes and insulin resistance, coriander offers excellent support along the way.

It lowers cholesterol

Another prevalent health problem that coriander helps combat is high LDL (the bad cholesterol), which is one of the leading causes of heart attack and stroke.

Coriander contains oleic, linoleic, palmitic, ascorbic and stearic acid, all of which have been shown to help remove cholesterol deposits in arteries and veins.[1]

It’s powerfully anti-bacterial

We’ve mentioned the pitfalls of antibiotics before.

The prevalence of antibiotic-resistant infections like MRSA is continuing to increase. And even when antibiotics do work, they wreak havoc on our microbiome, which often never recovers from the shock.

This worrying predicament makes it fairly obvious that we need an alternative solution…and coriander may be just the ticket. It packs quite a powerful anti-bacterial punch on its own, and its high vitamin C content simultaneously helps your immune system effectively fight infection.

You can dramatically amplify its anti-microbial properties by using it in the form of high-quality coriander seed oil, which is a highly concentrated distillation of the plant’s medicinal components.

A study published in the Journal of Medical Microbiology showed that coriander seed oil is highly effective against a wide range of bacteria—including antibiotic-resistant infections.[2] And best of all, it will target harmful bacteria without adversely affecting your gut flora.

It aids in digestion

Not only does coriander not upset your microbiome while working its anti-bacterial magic, but it also actively helps your digestion.

Its antioxidants help regulate liver function and bowel movements, and it even aids in the production of digestive enzymes. Soaking coriander seeds in water (or using coriander seed oil) works wonders for indigestion.

It even makes your skin beautiful

Did you know that proper digestion and healthy gut flora help make your skin clean, clear, and radiant?

By helping keep your digestion on track, coriander indirectly contributes to healthy, beautiful skin. It also directly encourages clear skin with its vitamin-rich, detoxifying, antiseptic, antioxidant, and anti-fungal properties.

You can even use coriander seeds and coriander seed oil to treat eczema, mouth ulcers, rashes, inflamed skin, pimples, and other skin conditions.[3] Just mix coriander paste with honey and turmeric, and apply it to the skin.

It even works on allergy-related skin conditions (coriander oil functions as a general anti-histamine, and can also relieve seasonal allergies like hay fever).

It supports eye health

This same cornucopia of vitamins and antioxidants that encourages healthy skin also makes coriander an excellent preserver of optimal eye health.

Its natural phytonutrients, vitamin A, vitamin C, phosphorous, and myriad other essential oils all reduce eye strain and age-related degeneration.

Coriander seeds can even be used to prevent and treat conjunctivitis (pink eye) and other eye diseases. To treat conjunctivitis, many health experts recommend making cold compresses soaked in coriander-infused water, or even flushing the eyes with coriander water.[4]

Ready to add some more coriander to your life?

It’s always convenient when natural healing tools are also delicious. Fresh cilantro is always a treat—add it to eggs, salads, stir frys, or any other recipes that you enjoy. It works particularly well in curries and chutneys (coriander is a frequently used spice in Indian cuisine).

And remember, if you want to reap the full healing benefits that coriander has to offer, consider using coriander seed oil (especially the treatment of bacterial and fungal infections).

You’ll be amazed by the healing power that this little plant packs…and I bet you’ll be inspired to turn some of your focus from Big Medicine to more of the natural healing wonders that are all around us.   

 


References

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18831331

[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21862758

[3] http://www.stylecraze.com/articles/amazing-benefits-of-coriander-seeds/

[4] http://www.findhomeremedy.com/11-home-remedies-for-pink-eye-or-conjunctivitis/

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