- ABCs of Health – “I” is for Iron
- Snuff your sniffles…fight the cold war
- Tip of the Month – Inexpensive fabric softener dryer sheets
- The Herbalist – “T” is for Tea Tree
ABCs OF HEALTH
Iron – why we need it
“I” is for Iron. Iron belongs to a class of nutrients known as minerals, which the body needs only in minute amounts. But that small amount is crucial to proper functioning. The human body contains less than 5 grams of iron, but without it we would not be able to survive. Iron is required for red blood cell, haemoglobin-which is responsible for carrying oxygen from your lungs to every cell in you body, and myoglobin formation. It aids in the transport of oxygen through the body via red blood cells and the storage of oxygen in the muscles.Without oxygen, some vital cell processes would stop and the cells would die. Other important activities requiring iron include liver detoxification, the metabolism of fatty acids and immune system function.
The body stores iron in the liver, bone marrow and spleen, and when the body needs iron it is released from those organs. Interestingly, when the body’s iron stores are low the body responds by increasing the amount of iron that is absorbed from foods.
Tips for getting more iron in your diet
- Eat some lean red meat, fish, poultry or chicken every week. Choose low-fat cuts of these.
- Include sources of vitamin C with your meals. Good sources are citrus fruits, green peppers, strawberries, kiwis and cantaloupe. This is particularly important with plant sources of iron to maximize absorption.
- Include some citrus fruit or juice with your breakfast cereal.
- If you follow a vegetarian diet and find it difficult to meet your daily iron needs, consider taking iron and vitamin C supplements.
- Cook in iron pots such as a cast iron skillet.
- When choosing vegetables, choose those with the deepest, richest colours.
- Eat fortified foods such as breads and cereals.
- Eat foods high in iron separately from substances which inhibit iron absorption. These substances include calcium (found in milk and other dairy products), coffee, antacids and aspirin.
SNUFF YOUR SNIFFLES
Up to one billion people suffer through colds every year according to the National Institutes of Health. Children usually have between six to eight colds per year, while adults average two to four colds annually. Adults that have young children tend to have an increased number of colds.
Luckily, many natural foods can help your body to prevent the common cold. Stress, allergies, and menstruation may make you more vulnerable to sniffles, so it’s a good idea to bolster your immune system if any of those conditions affect you. Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus) and schisandra (Schisandra chinensis) are popular Chinese herbs that have been shown to increase the immune system and perhaps prevent illness, making them good choices for the winter cold season. Additionally, vitamin C, zinc, vitamin A and bioflavonoids, such as quercetin, to ward off, as well a treat, a cold. You can take 1 to 4 grams of vitamin C daily, in increments of 500mg to 1 gram, spread over the course of the day. Research shows that zince lozenges may prevent or treat the common cold and sore throat. Be careful not to take too much zinc, because more than 100mg daily can actually suppress immunity. The recommended dose of zinc is one 5mg lozenge four to five times daily. Those with Alzheimer’s disease or diabetes should not take this product.
Take vitamin A, a powerful antioxidant, in doses of 15,000 to 25,000 IU per day.
On the onset of a cold, support your body in its fight against the virus. You would not want to suppress the symptoms with over-the-counter cold medicines, because masking the symptoms does not prevent or shorten the duration of the illness. Start by eating less, so that your body has less work to do in the terms of digestion and it can focus on attacking the cold virus. A simple diet of fluids, including soups and broths, and alkalinizing vegetables, such as cucumbers and cooked broccoli. Hot water with a teaspoon of sliced fresh ginger, the juice of half of a lemon, plus a dash of cayenne pepper can get you the needed energy first thing in the morning; as it will get the secretions started. Try this great Cold-Tamer Tea! Avoid dairy and wheat products as they tend to increase the mucus in your system.
Prevention is the key to avoiding colds:
- Wash your hands frequently.
- Throw away used tissues immediately.
- Take a multivitamin daily.
- Take astragalus at the first sign of a cold.
- Drink at least half of your body weight in ounces of water daily.
- Get plenty of rest.
Natural medicine and sound nutrition can help you win the cold war.
TIP OF THE MONTH
Make your own inexpensive alternative to fabric softener dryer sheets. Mix 1 cup of liquid fabric softener together with 1 cup of water. Store in a wide mouth jar. Using and old cloth, dip it in the mixture, then wring it out over the jar so that any excess liquid is returned to the container. Throw the face cloth in the dryer with the damp clothes. It works like a charm!
I promised I would give you some information on a specific herb, it’s origins and uses. I really enjoy this part of our newsletter, as I always learn something new and exciting. This month we will discuss:
Latin Name: Melaleuca alternifolia (Myrtaceae [clove] family)
Other common names: cajeput oil
General Description: The tea tree, which grows to between twenty and twentyfive feet or six to eight metres, produces layers of paperlike bark and bears pointed leaves and spikes of white flowers. It is native to Austrailia and flourishes in the wet swampy ground of northern New South Wales and Queensland. The leaves and branches are picked year round for distillation into essential oil. Aboriginal people have used the leaves from this tree as an antiseptic for hundreds of years. Named the “tea tree” by Captain Cook, this tree rapidly became a valued remedy by European settlers to treat cuts, burns, and insect bits. This herb also became widely know as a powerful disinfectant.
Excellent For: Tea tree oil is an antiseptic that is active against many bacteria and fungi, including some that are resistant to antibiotics. However, it is not as effective as oral antibiotics for some conditions. Used as a gargle, it eases sore throats associated with colds but should not be swallowed. Many Austrailian dentists frequently use tea tree oil mouthwash prior to dental procedures and as a daily preventative measure against periodontal disease. Tea tree oil has deodorant properties, most likely because it suppresses odor causing bacteria. It can control foot odor and helps to sweeten bad breath.
Benefits of tea tree oil for specific health conditions include the following:
Acne:A clinical study of 124 acne patients found that 5% tea tree oil gel was as effective a 5% benzoylperoxide in the treatment of acne. Tea tree oil had fewer side effects than the perscription treatment.
Athlete’s foot, Ringworm, and Yeast infection: Preliminary double-blind studies have found tea tree oil to be an effective treatment for athlete’s footand other fungal infections of thekin and nails. Tea tree oil also treats ringworm, an infection caused by the same fungas, tinea. Although tea tree oil stops the burning and itching, it does not affect the underlying fungal infection causing the disease. Tea tree oil has been proven effective in controlling thirty-two different strains of Candidas albicans, the microorganism that causes many yeast infections. A concentration of two to four percent is effective against all yeasts and other fungal pathogens that have been tested. Tea tree oil has been suggested as a treatment for thrush (oral Candida infection) in people with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection.
Boils, Insect Bites, and Mastitis: Even in concentrations as low as 0.5 percent(1 part in 200), tea tree oil kills over 90 percent of E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus on human skin.
Dandruff : Tea tree oil shampoos stop dandruff. Although the exact mechanism by which tea tree oil accomplishes this is not known, scientists speculate that the oil stopd dandruff by eliminating fungal damage to the skin.
Infected Nails: Researchers at the University of Rochester School of Medicine in New York tested tea tree oil in a double-blind, multicenter, randomized study of 117 patients who had onychomycosis, the principal cause of deteriorating finger and toenails. Tea tree oil was as effective as the most common prescription medication for the condition, clotrimazole (Lotrimin Mycelex).
Vaginosis and Yeast Infections: An alcohol-free extract of tea tree oil, diluted with water to a one percent concentration , is effective against candidiasis and trichomoniasis if the oil is applied with daily douches combined with weekly application of tea tree oil-soaked tampons. No side effects have been reported from this form of administration.
CONTRAINDICATIONS: Tea tree oil is used externally in a variety of forms, but it is not taken internally, as it may cause nerve damage and other problems if ingested. The best tea tree oil products contain oil from the species Melaleuca alternifolia only, standarized to contain not more than ten percent cineol (an irritant) and at least thirty percent terpinen-4-ol.
People who are allergic to celery or thyme should NOT use tea tree oil, since tea tree shares a potential allergen, d-limonene, with these plants. Tea tree oil can be applied to minor cuts, but you should use caution in applying it to more extensive areas of broken skin or rashes not due to fungus.
This concludes another exciting issue of Natural Health. REMEMBER YOU HAVE TO READ TO WIN!