Jasmine Oil Health Benefits

Jasmine Oil

The jasmine oil or absolute is produced by collecting thousands of blossoms overnight, when the aroma of the flower is at its most intense. It is said that, it takes 8000 jasmine sambac blossoms to create a single millimeter of oil. A concrete is first made from the jasmine flowers by solvent extraction, from which an absolute is obtained, by separation with alcohol. The essential oil is then produced from the absolute by steam distillation. Absolutes are even more concentrated than essential oils, and their shelf-life is much longer than the essential oil.

Jasmine oil, is one of the the most expensive and exotic oils used in today’s perfumery. Jasmine is considered to be the “King of Oils” as it is the the most masculine of all the floral oils. The colour of Jasmine oil is light or dark amber. It blends with many oils, but to maintain its fragrance, it is best used alone or with a mild oil. It is said to blend particularly well with sandalwood and citrus oils.

Health Benefits of Jasmine Oil

Jasmine oil is beneficial in treating many health problems. It is a powerful antiseptic, sedative and tonic. It is also possesses anti bacterial, antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties. The antibacterial properties of Jasmine sambac essential oil, helps in combating bacteria and other harmful microbes causing infectious diseases. A 2008 study on ‘Antibacterial potential assessment of Jasmine essential oil against E.Coli’ confirmed that jasmine oil contains antibacterial activity.

It is useful to treat skin infections. It soothes the body, helps to alleviate dry skin and is very good for sensitive skin. It is used as a massage oil in creams and lotions. A study on the antifungal avtivity of Jasminum sambac against Malassezia sp and non-malassezia sp isolated from human skin samples, concluded that, “J. sambac may be used as an alternative treatment against Malassezia-associated skin infections.”

It is also used in aromatherapy to lift up the mood. Jasmine oil increases alertness and improves mood. It is recommended for breathing difficulties, coughing and nervous debility.

At the psychological and emotional level, the sedative property of the jasmine oil is said to soothe and calm the mind and body. It is also considered a strong aphrodisiac.

It is anti-inflammatory in nature and is recommended for any kind of physical pain. ‘Preliminary Studies on Anti-Inflammatory and Analgesic Activities of Jasminum sambac (L.) Aiton in Experimental Animal Models’ have proved that Jasminum sambac extracts exhibit anti-inflammatory and antinociceptive (reducing sensitivity to painful stimuli) properties that are helpful in treating muscular aches, rheumatism, back pain, headache and inflammation.

HOME REMEDY

  • Jasmine oil gives relief from poisonous stings. Just apply the oil on the affected area.
  • Jasmine oil is a natural remedy for relief from pain or inflammation. Mix 2 drops of jasmine oil with 1 ml of olive oil and apply gently on the inflammed area.
  • To control negativity and depressed emotions, inhale the aroma of Jasmine sambac essential oil. It helps to pacify the senses.
  • For treating tension, fatigue, anxiety, and postnatal depression, add 2 drops of jasmine oil to a vaporizer or diffuser to inhale.
  • To get relief from pain and inflammation, mix 2 drops of Jasmine sambac oil with 1 ml of olive oil and massage gently on the painful area. You can also add 2 drops of jasmine oil to warm bathing water, or to a hot compress.
  • Add 2 drops of jasmine oil to your regular cream or lotion and massage it gently on your body to treat dry skin, and for getting rid of scars.
  • Jasmine sambac oil is extremely good for the skin and it acts as a natural tonic and improves the skin health. To remove excess oil and blemishes from the skin, add a drop of Jasmine sambac oil to hot water and steam regularly.
  • Jasmine oil is considered a great anti-depressant. Adding two drops the oil in warm bathing water, or to a massage oil, helps to inspire positive thoughts, strengthen the mind and boost your confidence.

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Eggs Nutrition and Health Benefits

Eggs are considered by nutritionists to be a vitamin pill, as it contains many of Egg health benefitsthe vitamins and minerals required by man for health. For the amount of nutrients they have, eggs are a relatively low-calorie food. A large egg contains thirteen varying range of essential minerals and vitamins for just 70 calories. They have no carbohydrates or sugars, and only 5 grams of fat, which is only 7% of the daily recommended intake.

Eggs are a super food. They contain vitamin A and are one of the natural good sources of vitamin D. They also have vitamin B12, choline, folic acid, iron and selenium. All these are very essential nutrients for a healthy body. The protein in egg is considered high quality. This is because an egg has all the B vitamins and every amino acid, thus making it a complete protein. Eggs are rich in the essential amino acid leucine, which helps in stimulating muscle protein synthesis. High-quality protein helps build muscles. The protein also helps people feel fuller for longer periods which can help maintain a healthy weight.

Eggs are a very nutrient dense food. Some of the nutrients and their function are:

Proteins: Eggs have high quality proteins. Proteins are very important for building and repairing muscle, organs, skin, and other body tissues.  Proteins are also required in order to produce hormones, enzymes and antibodies.

Folic acid: Folate helps the formation of red blood cells and promotes good fetal development. It is therefore, very important for pregnant women.

Iron: Iron like folic acid plays a vital role in red blood cells formation. It is necessary for carrying oxygen throughout the body.

Vitamin A: Vitamin A is required for the development of cells. It supports  growth and maintains a healthy skin, vision and immune functions.

Vitamin B12: Vitamin B12 is again necessary for the formation of red blood cells. It also helps with the normal functioning of the brain and the nervous system.

Iodine: Iodine is very essential for the synthesis of thyroid hormones and is crucial for the normal functioning of the thyroid gland.

Choline: This is very critical forr nerves and muscles to function properly. Choline also with brain development and memory functioning.

Lutein and Zeaxanthin: These help to maintain good eyesight and reduce the risk of age-related eye diseases, such as cataracts and macular degeneration.

Selenium: Selenium helps to prevent the breakdown of body tissues. It protects the DNA, proteins and fats in cells against damage. Selenium is very important for a healthy immune system and a working thyroid gland.

Vitamin D: Vitamin D is necessary for healthy bones and teeth. It is also very important for the absorption of calcium in the body.

Riboflavin or B2:  This is vitamin of the B complex which is essential for metabolic energy production. This  is necessary for healthy skin and eyes, nerves and muscles.

B5 or Pantothenic Acid: B5 is important for the body’s metabolism. It helps to release energy from food which helps mental functioning.

Vitamin E: Vitamin E helps to keep our reproductive system, nerves and muscles healthy.

Health Benefits Of Eggs

Given the above nutrients that an egg has, its health benefits are many.

Eggs help keep your immune system functioning efficiently.
Eggs help to keep the muscles and nerves strong and healthy.
Eggs help brain and memory function.
Eggs help your body produce the energy it needs from food.
The vital nutrients in the egg help to support a healthy pregnancy and growth and development of children.
Eggs helps your eye sight and protects against macular degeneration.
Eggs help you to lose weight. The high-quality protein in eggs can reduce hunger and help weight loss.

Eggs and the Heart

Eggs had a bad reputation for a few decades because of its high cholesterol content. A large egg contains 213 mg of cholesterol while the recommended total daily cholesterol limit is 300mg. That accounts for almost two-thirds of the daily recommended limit. When scientists found that high blood cholesterol leads to heart disease, foods that were high in cholesterol naturally became suspect. This is the reason why many stopped eating eggs, while some ate only the whites of the egg.

In 2000, the American Heart Association (AHA) revised its dietary guidelines, which now allow an egg a day but still keeping the total limit of daily cholesterol to 300mg. This upper limit was removed in 2015. They now believe that dietary cholesterol does not translate into high levels of blood cholesterol. After decades of study, evidence shows that saturated fat has a bigger negative effect on blood cholesterol than cholesterol itself. Saturated fat found in full-fat dairy products and fatty meats can trigger the body to produce cholesterol.

A study, which followed participants for 14 years, concluded that eating one egg per day was fine for healthy adults, if they don’t eat a lot of other saturated fats. People who find it difficult to control their total and LDL cholesterol should be cautious about eating egg yolks.

Eggs and Diabetes

The scenario is a little different for people with diabetes. The Mayo Clinic states that diabetics who eat seven eggs per week “significantly” increase their risk of heart disease. A 2010 analysis published in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology stated that participants in the Physicians’ Health Study who became diabetic during the course of the 20-year study were twice as likely to develop cardiovascular disease if they ate one egg per day. According to Harvard Health, “For people who have diabetes and heart disease, it is best to limit egg consumption to no more than three yolks per week.”

Click on the infographic below to know some more facts about eggs.

Egg health benefits
Egg Health Benefits

 

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The Power of Crystal Healing

 

Crystal healing is an alternative medicine technique (considered pseudoscience by the medical community), that employs stones and crystals to treat people. People who use this technique claim that these stones and crystals have healing powers. Even though scientific investigations have not validated the claims about chakras or energy grids, most practitioners believe and can feel the flow of energy, and there are many claims to their many healing qualities.

Crystals have been used in healing since ancient times. The Egyptians believed that the lapis lazuli inspired wisdom and brought about peace and calm. Reiki practitioners sometimes integrate crystal healing techniques to enhance the energy flowing through the person being healed. They believe that crystals can channel the energy in the right direction and thus enhance healing.

Crystals are usually categorized in three ways – according to their shape, kind and colour.

Shapes

Crystals can be round, pointed, square, rectangular, spheres and shaped like a pyramid.

Round crystals give out all round flowing energy and are good for all purposes.

Pointed crystals are useful for drawing into or directing more powerful energies.

The square and rectangular ones are said to bring about stability to the place it is kept in and also absorb harmful energies.

Spheres energize and purify the place and attracts health, happiness and transforms negative energies into positive energies.

Pyramids are natural transmitters of healing and can bring about peaceful sleep, calmness and harmony at home and at work.

Kinds of Crystalskinds of crystals

There are various kinds of crystals found on earth. Some of them are quartz, jaspers, agates, fossils, volcanic stones like obsidian and geodes. Quartz is the most common mineral found on earth. Geodes are rocks in which tiny crystals are embedded. When split, they reveal two halves of matching crystals which heal all negative energies.

Colourscrystal colours and thier effects

Colour has had an influence upon human minds since ancient times. Natural crystals and minerals colours range from the the colours of the rainbow to gold, silver, black and white. The crystals could be clear and sparkling or of a cloudier hue. Red, orange and yellow are dynamic colours. Greens, blues and purples are softer and calmer. Given below are the prominent qualities of different coloured crystals.

The healing properties for every colour are different and can be used to heal various problems in the body. The crystals are used to balance the chakras and channel energy to the appropriate part of the body. Colours and gems are believed to help bring the chakras into balance.

What are Chakras 

Chakras are energy centres in the body or energy field. The Sanskrit word chakra literally means a ‘wheel’ or a ‘disk’. These are wheels of energy throughout the body. There are seven of them that are important. These seven chakras are believed to align the spine, starting from the base of the spine to the crown of the head. The energy called ‘Prana’ is considered the vital life force, which keeps us alive and healthy. It is important that to keep the seven main chakras stay open and aligned. If there is a blockage, energy cannot flow.

There are many ways to keep the chakras open and aligned. Colours and crystal healing is one such method.

The root chakra, called Mooladhara is the first chakra and is at the bottom of the spine. The colour is red and the gemstones related to it is garnet, red jasper, black tourmaline and bloodstone. When the root chakra is balanced, you feel grounded and safe, in both aspects – material and emotional.

The second is the Svadhisthana, also called the sacral chakra. The related colour is orange, and the gemstones are amber, calcite, orange carnelian or hematite. This chakra is located about two inches below the navel. When it is balanced and open, there is a feeling of wellness, joy and abundance.

The third chakra is Manipura or the solar plexus. The colour is yellow, and the gemstones are topaz, golden yellow labradorite, and tiger eye stones. This chakra is located around the area of the solar plexus, as the name suggests. When this chakra is healthy, you feel confident, have good self esteem and are self-motivated. It is the source of personal power.

The fourth chakra is the heart chakra, also called Anahata. The colour related to this chakra is emerald green and the healing gemstones for it are emerald, malachite, jade and rose quartz. When the heart chakra is open, it generates compassion, love, forgiveness and acceptance. It is at the centre and this is where the physical and the spiritual meet.

The throat chakra or Vishudhi is the fifth chakra. The healing colour is blue and the related gemstones are sapphire, blue topaz, lapis lazuli, aquamarine and turquoise. This chakra when open, helps you to be truthful to yourself and to others. It helps you verbalize and communicate.

The colour of the third eye chakra – Ajna is indigo. The gemstones used for this chakra is amethyst, lapis lazuli and azurite. This chakra lies between your eyebrows. It is the centre of your intuition. It helps you to know yourself.

The seventh energy centre is the crown chakra or the sahasrara, whose colour is violet or white. The gemstones for this chakra is amethyst, selenite and sugilite. This chakra helps towards enlightenment and connects to you to your higher self.

The proponents of crystal healing believe that human beings are receptive to the vibrations of the crystals. When crystals come into direct contact with the body, they have a powerful vibratory effect on it, and hence one of the ways to use these crystals is to wear them as jewelry. Crystals have been used for healing the body and spirit, developing intuition, protecting from negative vibrations, and balancing the chakras since ancient times. Despite the scientific community calling it a myth, as there is lack of evidence about its ability to heal, most practitioners insist that it has helped them in their spiritual growth.

Cassandra Eason, in her book ‘An Introduction To Crystal Healing’, recommends 12 stones that are a must, whether for healing, attracting good fortune, love, prosperity or for protecction. These are Clear Crystal Quartz, Moonstone, Red Jasper, Orange Carnelian, Yellow Citrine, Green Aventurine, Blue Sodalite, Purple Amethyst, Brown Tiger’s Eye, Pink Rose Quartz, Hematite and Black Onyx.

To know about the healing properties of these stones, please watch this Video.

Crystal Healing – Is it a myth?

                                             

crystal healingCrystals are naturally occurring arrangements of minerals forming unique, geometric shapes. The beauty of crystals have always fascinated people and has been associated with magical powers in many cultures. In recent years, knowledge about the healing powers of crystals have been reintroduced by the ‘New Age Healers’, who believe that crystals give out energies that exert subtle influences on the body and mind.

Crystal healing is an alternative medical technique in which crystals and stones are used to cure ailments and protect against disease. Crystal healing has seen an upsurge in popularity in recent years, but it is not popular with doctors and scientists who call it a pseudoscience, as there is no evidence that crystals can be used to cure diseases.

In fact, one recent study says that crystals have absolutely no healing power and that the placebo effect explains people’s healing experiences with them. Lifescience.com reports that, “The researchers found that the effects reported by those who held fake crystals while meditating were no different than the effects reported by those who held real crystals during the study. Many participants in both groups reported feeling a warm sensation in the hand holding the crystal or fake crystal, as well as an increased feeling of overall well being. Those who had been primed to feel these effects reported stronger effects than those who had not been primed.”

The proponents of this technique however, believe that crystals act as channels for healing by allowing positive, healing energy to flow into the body, while negative energy is released. They believe that crystals are powerful psychic tools, which act as powerful amplifiers of positive energy, and have great healing powers. Crystals, they say, are known to enhance and protect the environment they are in – be it the workplace or home. People who heal with crystals say that crystals radiate joy and healing. They are also used to connect with higher beings and guides.

Most believers and practitioners consider crystals to be very powerful healing tools, which activate our self-healing powers. They can ease the side effects of a medical treatment, speed up recovery and give relief from pain and anxiety. Crystals are not only used to heal the body, but can also be used for higher purposes like meditation. The practitioners believe that crystals helps you to focus better while meditating and certain stones with higher vibrations are also used to develop psychic ability.

So coming back to crystal healing being a pseudoscience, the proponents try to defeat the skeptics who believe that it is nothing but the power of suggestion, by drawing attention to the fact that, silicon which is derived from silicon minerals and hence a crystal, is used in every computer and cell phone processor. They also refer to the report on how a clear quartz crystal can be used to store data for 300 million years. This they say, is proof that crystals can transmit energy into the body, just like a battery does.

The proponents also believe that, when the crystal comes into our electromagnetic field, the electromagnetic frequencies carried by the stone vibrates with related frequencies in our own energy field. Crystals are known to oscillate at their own frequencies, and even respond to the input of vibrations. The cells in the human body also vibrate at certain frequencies, so when we come into contact with a crystal, its vibration interacts with the vibration of the cells in our body.

Crystals are millions of years old, created during the early days of the formation of earth. The practitioners say that crystals are the most orderly structure that exists in nature, and are structured in a way to respond to the inputs of all different energies around them, leading them to oscillate and emit specific vibratory frequencies.

In spite of many detailed studies, scientists have not identified energies in crystals that could cause healing. They claim that the crystal healers use the term ‘energy’ to describe anything that cannot be explained. Some healers connect this healing energy to the Piezoelectric Effect, which is based on science.  Piezoelectric Effect is the ability of certain materials to generate an electric charge in response to applied mechanical stress. But science does not agree with these claims. This is because the Piezoelectric effect can be produced only under specific conditions, and the crystals that healers use cannot generate the said effect. Moreover, this effect is not a common property of crystals, which is the reason most of the crystals that the healers use, can’t generate a piezoelectric effect. Quartz and tourmaline are two gems that show this effect.

For most people who believe, they don’t care about the naysayers. They believe that crystals have healed and helped them in their spiritual growth. It is like energy healing. You don’t know how it works but it does work, as all the Reiki practitioners will tell you. It is ultimately a question of faith, and many believe that they may not cure, but they do support the body’s healing capacity. After all, faith and belief cannot be proved scientifically.

For those who believe in alternative methods of healing and would like to know more about crystal healing, please read The Power of Crystal Healing.

Lime Oil Health Benefits

Lime oil comes from Citrus aurantifolia also called Lime. Lime oil has a sharp citrus scent, and is pale yellow or light olive in color depending on the method of production. Lime oil is produced in two ways, cold-pressing the peel of the lime and distilling. Cold pressed oil has a yellow or green color, with a rich and fresh lime peel scent. Cold pressed lime oil is usually recommended as it contains more of the natural compounds that make it so beneficial.

Lime oil health benefits
Lime oil from Amazon.com

How to Make Lime Essential Oil                    

Lime essential oil for therapeutic purposes is made through two processes – expression and distillation.

Expression is a method of extraction which is specific to citrus oils. It is also called cold pressing. In olden times, expression was done in the form of sponge pressing. The zest or rind of the citrus would be first soaked in warm water to make it more receptive to the pressing process. A sponge would then be used to press the rind, thus breaking the essential oil cavities and absorb the essential oil. Once the sponge was filled with the extraction, it would then be pressed over a collecting container and there it would be allowed to stand till the separation of essential from the liquids.

A more modern method is one that involves a prodding, pricking and sticking action to release essential oil. The rind is placed in a container having spikes that will puncture the peel while the device is rotated. The puncturing of the rind releases essential oil that is collected in a small container below.

Distilled citrus oils deteriorate more quickly and are not recommended for aromatherapy use. If the oil is not extracted using steam distillation or cold expression, it is not considered a therapeutic grade oil.

Health Benefits of lime oil

Citrus fruits are very good sources of nutrition with a large amount of vitamin C. They are also abundant in other macronutrients, including sugars, dietary fiber, potassium, folate, calcium, thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, riboflavin and pantothenic acid. Citrus fruits contain a number of secondary metabolites, such as flavonoids, alkaloids, coumarins, limonoids, carotenoids, phenol acids and essential oils. These secondary metabolites are known to show several activities which are of importance to human health. These  include anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, cardiovascular protective effects and neuroprotective effects.

Lime essential oil is full of antioxidants and other nutrients. Lime oil, like lime is an antiseptic, antiviral, astringent, bactericidal and a disinfectant. It is also a febrifuge (reduces fever), haemostatic (stops bleeding), restorative and a tonic. Lime oil extract has a sharp citrus smell and is used in aromatherapy. Due to its refreshing properties,  Lime oil can be used as a massage oil or in a cream or lotion. The oil can also be added to bathwater.

  • Lime oil is useful to cool fevers associated with colds, sore throats and flu. It helps to ease coughs, bronchitis and sinusitis, as well as helping asthma.
  • Lime oil can stimulate and refresh a tired mind and helps with depression. Its uplifting scent is used to treat depression, and improve mood in vapour therapy.
  • It may be helpful for arthritis, rheumatism and poor circulation, as well as for obesity and cellulite, as it has the ability to improve circulation. Lime oil can be used as a massage oil or diluted in the bath, to help with painful muscles and joints.
  • Lime oil can be used in a cream or lotion to clear oily congested skin. It also acts an astringent and tones the skin.

How to make lime infused oil

1 cup olive oil
2 limes
Citrus peeler
A sieve

Procedure:

  • Heat one cup of olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Wash the limes and dry them thoroughly.
  • Peel or zest the limes.
  • Cut the lime peel into very small strips.
  • Add the lime zest to the olive oil.
  • Allow to simmer for 10 minutes over medium heat.
  • Remove the saucepan from heat and cover, allowing the zest to steep for 2 1/2 hours.
  • Sieve the oil and store in an airtight and non-reactive container.
  • Store it in a cool, dry place.

This infusion can be used for up to two weeks. It can be used as a garnish or as a dressing in salads.

Lime infused oil
Watch this video on how to make lime infused oil

 

Lime oil is used extensively in the food and beverage industry. It is also used for making beauty products, fragrances and as cleaning agents.

 

 

How Herbal Supplements Interact with Drugs

Herbal medicines have been used by people since ancient times in various civilizations. But lately, the issue of herb-drug interactions has ominously appeared over the practice of herbal medicine. It has been noted that herb-drug interactions may not necessarily be a chemical interaction between a drug and a component of the herb that produces something toxic. The interaction may cause a herb component to either increase or decrease the amount of a drug in the blood stream. The herb may also lead to reducing the effect of the drug or increasing the drug effect.

Even though herbal supplements are popular these days, most people still take over the counter drugs and those prescribed by a doctor, in which case not telling the doctor about the herbal supplements, may lead to dangerous consequences. Mixing herbs with medicines should be done wisely. It has been discovered that grapefruit juice could affect drug metabolism. The biggest concern about drugs and their interactions with herbs are those medicines that people took continuously – such as blood thinners that are prescribed after a heart attack or stroke. Antidepressants are another concern.

Some of the commonly used herbs and their interactions with drugs are given below:

Feverfew (used for migraines and arthritis), garlic (to reduce blood cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure), ginger (nausea, vomiting and vertigo) and Ginko biloba (for increased blood circulation and improving memory and mental alertness) are said to have a blood thinning effect, and may increase bleeding especially in patients taking anti-clotting medications.

Echinacea, which is said to boost the immune system and help fight colds and flu may cause inflammation of the liver if used with certain medications such as anabolic steroids. Licorice, which is used for treating stomach ulcers may cause high blood pressure, swelling or electrolyte imbalances.

Persons using Ginseng (used to increase physical stamina and mental concentration), sometimes see increased heart rate or high blood pressure. Goldenseal may worsen swelling and high blood pressure. Saint John’s-wort should not be taken when taking antidepressant medication and the herb may intensify the effects of sedatives and diabetes medication.

Having said this, it would be prudent to note that in the article, ‘CHECKING FOR POSSIBLE HERB-DRUG INTERACTIONS’ by Subhuti Dharmananda, Ph.D., Director, Institute for Traditional Medicine, Portland, Oregon, it is mentioned that, “A standard procedure is to test the herb extract alone and to also test it with drugs that cause the same effect. If the drug effect is increased or prolonged by the herb, it is implied that the herb has a similar effect, even though it may have a different mechanism. Thus, a study intended to demonstrate that a traditional claim for an herb is true turns out to be a source of worry about herb-drug interactions. However, the amount of herb used in the pharmacology experiments of this type is often far higher than the amount normally used in clinical practice; the likelihood of herb-drug interactions occurring with normal use of the herb may be minimal.”

“When published reports alluding to adverse herb reactions (but not interactions) and to pharmacology studies only are eliminated, one is left with few instances of reported herb-drug interactions. This is likely due to the low dose of any individual herb component usually consumed and the simple absence of significant interaction at any reasonable dose.”

The best thing to do would be to consult with your doctor before taking herbal supplements.

Aromatherapy – Health Benefits of Essential oils

 

 

AromatherapyAromatherapy is the use of essential oils for healing. Essential oils have been used for therapeutic purposes since ancient times. These oils are either inhaled or applied on the skin and is fast gaining importance as alternative treatment. The first evidence of its use comes from China where, in 4500 B.C., a medical book was written by an emperor named Kiwant Ti on the aromatic and healing properties of plants. Egypt developed a reputation for its use of essential oils for medicine, pharmaceuticals, perfumery and cosmetology. A French chemist named Rene Gatteffose` wrote his first thesis on “Aromatherapy” in 1928 and this became the cornerstone in the study and practice of the uses of essential oils.

What are essential oils?

Essential oils are concentrated extracts taken from the petals, stalks, gum, resins, roots, leaves, seeds, or flowers of plants. Some plants yield different oils from different parts of the plant. For example, the bitter orange tree gives neroli oil from its flower, orange oil from its fruit peel, and petitgrain from its leaves and twigs. These essences are believed to contain the soul of the plant, which provides each plant with its own energies and healing powers.

The molecular structure and healing qualities of these oils are such that they are said to penetrate the skin and enter the blood stream, within twenty to seventy minutes after treatment thus exerting its therapeutic effect in the different areas of our physical, psychological and spiritual well-being.

Each oil contains its own unique mix of active ingredients, which determines what the oil is used for. Some oils are used to promote physical healing like swelling and fungal infections. Some are known for their emotional value – to enhance relaxation and calmness. Essential oils are volatile by nature, and hence must be kept in a dark glass bottle in order to preserve it.

There are a number of different ways to use essential oils in aromatherapy. These range from massages, through baths and inhalations, and to sprays and compresses for specific healing needs. As home remedies, aromatherapy can be used in various ways.

Health Benefits of some Essential oils

In general, essential oils seem to relieve pain, improve mood, and promote a sense of relaxation. Essential oils like lavender, rose, orange, bergamot, lemon and sandalwood, are believed to relieve anxiety, stress, and depression. Evidence suggests that citrus oils may strengthen the immune system and that peppermint oil may help with digestion. Herbs like fennel, aniseed, and sage have estrogen like compounds, which may help relieve symptoms of PMS and menopause. Human studies are however lacking.

According to mayoclinic.org, “some studies have shown that aromatherapy might have health benefits, including: Relief from anxiety and depression, and improved quality of life, particularly for people with chronic health conditions. Smaller studies suggest that aromatherapy with lavender oil may help make needle sticks less painful for people receiving dialysis, improve sleep for people who are hospitalized, reduce pain for children undergoing tonsillectomy.”

For the immune system

Siberian ginseng is said to enhance resistances to diseases. Ginger oil burned in a room is a preventive that encourages immunity to colds, flu, bronchitis, blocked sinuses and headaches. Juniper oil strengthens the immune system.

For allergies

The essential oil of Patchouli is anti-inflammatory and may ease the symptoms.

For Coughs

Inhaling jasmine or pine, or burning the essential oil in a room may ease cough.

For common cold

Burning the essential oil of bay in the room or inhaling it from a bowl of steaming water will ease cold symptoms.

Asthma

The essential oil of cajeput is excellent when inhaled. Eucalyptus, marjoram, and melissa are also useful.

Pneumonia

Bay, when inhaled, acts as a pulmonary antiseptic. Inhaling eucalyptus may also be beneficial. Pine is a powerful antiseptic for lungs. Use as an inhalation in a bowl of steaming water. It can be burned in a vapourizer and placed in a baby’s or child’s room.

Digestion

Clove oil massaged over the stomach is useful for dyspepsia. Mandarin essential oil aids digestion.

Anxiety

Essential oils with a calming effect include roman chamomile, lavender, neroli, and marjoram. Use in the bath, or during massage. Petitgrain is useful for those with panic attacks. Cedarwood burned in a room or used in a vaporizer, balances anxiety and nervous tension.

Stress

Frankincense is excellent for achieving calm and relaxation. It also aids meditation, as it slows and deepens breathing.

Insomnia

A massage with mandarin oil, or a few drops in the bath water, helps sleeplessness in children. Adults suffering from insomnia should try marjoram as a massage or bath oil. Lavender oil too is soothing. A few drops on the bedclothes or in a bath just before retiring will help get sleep.

Headache

Inhale basil oil for migrane. Melissa in the bath or as a massage oil is uplifting and calming both for migrane and other headaches.

Researchers are not very sure about how aromatherapy works. Some believe our sense of smell may play a role. The smell receptors in the nose communicate with parts of the brain that act as warehouses for emotions and memories. When we breathe in these essential oil molecules, they are believed to stimulate these parts of the brain and impact physical, emotional, and mental health. Some researchers believe that the molecules from essential oils may interact in the blood with hormones or enzymes.

Although essential oils have been around for centuries, there are very few studies that have studied the effectiveness of aromatherapy in people. Scientific evidence is lacking and more research is needed before aromatherapy is accepted as an alternative remedy. However, this is beginning to change as more scientific studies on aromatherapy are conducted around the world.

Further Reading

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0032645/#CDR0000441069__12

https://www.naha.org/explore-aromatherapy/research/

Boost your Immunity the Natural Way

ImmunityEveryday, the immune system defends us against disease causing microorganisms, as well as protecting us from anomalies in the cellular system that may develop into cancerous growths. When the immune system works at its optimum level, the health is good. Sometimes the immune system fails, and one feels below par and constantly unwell. When immunity is compromised, it leaves the body defenceless and vulnerable to disease. The fact is that there are germs everywhere. It is very important to nurture and enhance one’s own internal resistance to disease, so that the microbes and viruses do not get a foothold.

A healthy immune system forms the basis of our well being, so it is important to make it more efficient by avoiding anything that might compromise or weaken it. This is fundamental to good health. First let us look at the factors that cause immunity to be compromised. It is mostly ascribed to the type of lifestyles we live. Diet, stress and medicines can cause an imbalance in our system by suppressing the immune response.

Diets that are high in fat, sugar, processed food and low in fresh food, fibre and essential nutrients lead to a weak immune system.  Like any fighting force, the immune system needs good, regular nourishment. This could be one of the reasons that people who live in poverty and are malnourished are more vulnerable to infectious diseases.

Stress is another cause of low immunity. Chronic stress causes the adrenal glands to secrete higher levels of corticosteroids, which depress immune function. Research suggests that psychological stress affects the immune system by disrupting communication between the nervous system, the endocrine (hormonal) system, and the immune system.

Environmental pollutants in the form of radiation from mobile phones, television, microwaves and computers; chemicals from exhaust fumes, pesticides, herbicides, smoke, air fresheners and detergents; and pollutants from house dust, dust mites and mould can also cause a weak immune system.

The medications that we take when we are sick also causes imbalances in our immune system. Over use of antibiotics can cause suppression of normal immune system responses.

How to Boost Immunity?

What we eat has the power, both to harm and heal. We are what we eat and hence the efficiency of the body’s operations depend on whether the food we take in is appropriate or not. We can start by making changes to the diet we eat.

Diet: Reduce the intake of simple sugars, alcohol, saturated and harmful fats, and cut out on smoking and drug use. Diet should be natural, unprocessed and whole. Increase the intake of whole grain, legumes, fresh fruits, vegetables and drink plenty of water. Eat all colours (red, orange and yellow, white, green, blue and purple) of vegetables and fruits. Each coloured fruit and vegetable has unique health benefits that are necessary for our health. Malnourished individuals are more susceptible to disease as opposed to those who observe a healthy nutritious diet. The Harvard Health site says that “there is some evidence that various micronutrient deficiencies — for example, deficiencies of zinc, selenium, iron, copper, folic acid, and vitamins A, B6, C, and E — alter immune responses in animals, as measured in the test tube.”

One must also get enough rest and relaxation, quality sleep, and moderate exercise. Lack of sleep seems to impair the healthy functioning of the immune system. Exercise contributes to general good health and enhances the functioning of the immune system. Research has shown that people who exercise regularly are less likely to get colds than those who are not active. Exercise may sometimes contribute more directly by promoting good circulation, thus allowing the components of the immune system to move through the body freely and do their job efficiently.

Natural Remedies For Optmizing Immune Activity:

Herbs like Echinacea, astralagus, licorice, ginseng, ginger and garlic are very effective remedies to boost the immune system. Garlic, ginger and onion are all immune supportive as well as warming. When used together, they provide powerful immune support than when used on their own. Herbs that support, strengthen or enhance components of the immune system are called immune stimulants. Herbs that increase general immunity are the most valued herbs in traditional healing systems, because when general immune functions become stronger and more efficient, we are generally more resistant to diseases. Ayurveda suggests the following home remedies to boost immunity.

In ayurveda, the most important herbs to boost immunity are Amla, Ashwagandha, Turmeric, Guduchi, Neem and Holy basil. Amla is a great liver toxifier and an anti-oxidant. Ashwagandha has a tonifying effect on the whole hormone system and it reduces stress. It is said to stimulate host defence. Turmeric as we all know is a very effective natural remedy as it is anti-inflammatory. Excessive inflammation causes tissue damage and depletion of the immune system. Curcumin, the compound in turmeric is recognized for controlling inflammation without the risk of toxicity.

Guduchi is a versatile herb which supports immune and liver function. Research indicates that Guduchi produces its anti-inflammatory effect through blocking the effect of inflammatory signals, thus controlling non-specific allergic reactivity and reducing the burden on the immune system. Neem is an anti-microbial herb of the Ayurvedic tradition. Medicinal compounds found in neem oil and leaves stimulate various immune cells to act against pathogens. Studies on the properties of neem have shown that it is toxic against a variety of fungus, bacteria, and viruses.

Holy Basil, is another herb that is a great immune booster. It is rich in essential oils that have a beneficial effect on the nervous system, immune system and the antioxidant system. The herb is known to have anti-stress effect in animal studies. Holy basil helps to replenish anti-oxidant enzymes in the body, while also controlling inflammation.

There are other ways to boost your immune system.

  • Drink a glass of lemon juice every morning. This is a perfect way to boost digestion and immunity at the same time.
  • The immune system is strongest in an alkaline environment. Drinking plenty of water will boost the alkalinity and thus the immunity.
  • Eat one cup of yoghurt every day. Yogurt contains probiotics – bacteria that stimulates immunity cells in the GI tract.
  • Eat both – cooked food and raw food. Overcooked food diminishes the amount of immune boosting nutrients.
  • Have more Omega 3s by eating oily fish at least once a week. Flaxseed oil also contain Omega 3s, which is a good choice for vegetarians.

As an article in ayurvedicscience.com says, “It is very clear that balanced immune system is required for optimal health. Immune system cannot be balanced with a pill, herb, vitamin, drug or vaccine. Immune system can only be balanced with good and balanced nutrition, exercise, yoga, meditation, herbal and mineral support, along with creating balance at mental, emotional and spiritual levels.”

How to prepare herbs

 

How to prepaqre herbsHerbalism is the oldest form of medicine known to us, and this knowledge has been accumulated over thousands of years. While modern medicine is all about finding and extracting the one active ingredient in a plant to make it a powerful medicine, herbalists insist that a plant is made up of a number of ingredients, which work together to make it a safer and more effective medicine. Most herbalists believe that modern medicine suppresses the body’s healing powers. The symptoms are healed but the underlying cause of illness is not addressed.

A growing number of doctors and patients are embracing a complementary approach to treating health problems. Minor ailments and non-threatening diseases can easily be treated at home with herbs. The chronic ones need to be treated systematically for months. With more and more people turning to natural remedies, it becomes imperative to know how to prepare the herbs and how to use them correctly to achieve maximum results.

How To Prepare Herbs?

Most medicinal herbs are available with herbalists. We may also grow these herbs – some of them are really easy to grow. One has to be careful however, that the plants have not been exposed to pollutants, pesticides and sprays. Herbs for medicinal purpose should be harvested just before flowering, and the ideal time to harvest is in the morning, says Prof D N Dhar in his book, ‘Natural Remedies’.

Herbs can be taken fresh or dry. Dry herbs are more potent than fresh ones, hence while using dried herbs, it is suggested that the ratio of herb to water should be 25g to 500ml. When fresh herbs are used, the ratio would be 50g to 500ml. There are basically three basic carriers used to extract the healing elements of herbs. These are water, alcohol and oil. The easiest to make at home is water based extractions.

Teas

Teas can be brewed from the fresh or dried flowers, leaves or roots of a herb. Add a tsp of dried herb or two tsp of fresh crushed herb to two cups of water. Bring this to a boil and then let it steep for 10 – 15 minutes. Herbal teas can be had hot or cold. Keeping the pot covered with a close-fitting lid, will help to retain the active ingredients, as otherwise they may be lost due to evaporation. Most of the active ingredients in the herbs are volatile.

Infusions

Place the freshly-crushed herbs, condiments or spices in a container, and pour hot water on them. Cover with a lid, let it cool to room temperature, then use it. Infusions can also be used as herbal teas and for inhalations. Infusions using hot water on the verge of boiling, preserves the beneficial oils that can be sometimes be lost through escaping steam.

Decoctions

Decoctions are usually prepared from the dried bark of trees, seeds and roots. These hard substances need prolonged boiling to release their active principles. Decoctions can also be made from fresh, soft plant parts like crushed flowers, soft leaves and stems. In this case, boil only for 3-4 mins. Take about half a cup of coarsely pounded bark/seeds/roots. To this add two cups of water and boil till only one-fourth remains. Strain through a soft, clean cloth or filter, and use.

Cold Extracts

In case of delicate plants and herbs such as rose, jasmine, marigold, hibiscus, and coriander whose oils evaporate very fast, the ingredients are soaked in cold water and left for 10-12 hours, or even overnight. Half a cup of herbs to a cup of water should be used.

It is best to use these remedies as soon as possible after brewing them, because they start to lose their potency within a few hours of exposure to air. Honey or sugar can be added to bitter tasting teas to make them more palatable. Some teas produce side effects like nausea, hence they are given with aromatics like cinnamon, cloves or cardamom. Temperatures at which you boil the herbs also play an important role in extracting the medicinal properties of the herb.

Herbs like bearberry, should not be boiled as it loses its efficacy. Hence the bearberry tea is prepared by soaking the leaves in water. Some teas like parsley may not be good for pregnant women as it may increase the risk of miscarriage. Elderly people with liver, kidney and cardiovascular problems should not liquorice for a long time. As a rule , raw, cold, greasy and hard to digest foods should be avoided while taking herbal teas. It is always advisable to follow the instructions carefully while having herbal teas.

Science of Breath – 1

Life is actually a series of breaths, that starts with birth and ends with death. To live is to breathe. The correct form of breathing not only leads to good physical health but it also increases one’s mental power, happiness, self control, clarity in thinking and even one’s spiritual growth. Hence it is very important to understand how breath works.

A person who is able to control his breath, will be able to control his body and mind. The yogis of ancient times were able through breathing practices, to store prana in their body and send it to any organ or part, thus strengthening and invigorating that part.

Oxygen, is needed by every cell in our body in order to live. The air that we breathe contains oxygen.  In the lungs, the oxygen moves into the bloodstream and this purified and oxygenated blood is carried to the heart and to different parts of the body through arteries and capillaries. At each cell in the body, the oxygen cells are exchanged for waste gas called carbon dioxide. The bloodstream then carries this waste gas back to the lungs where the waste gas is removed from the blood and then exhaled from the body.

It follows that unless fresh air in sufficient quantities reaches the lungs, the impure stream of venous blood cannot be purified. Thus, not only is the body robbed of its nourishment but the waste products which should have been destroyed are returned to the circulatory system thus poisoning it, instead of invigorating and strengthening it.

The normal human being invariably breathes in a shallow way, in which, only a portion of lung is used and a large portion of the lung capacity is lost, as a result of which, the blood does not get completely purified. Once we understand that ‘prana’ (life force energy) comes from the air we breathe, it makes sense to learn the correct way of breathing, so that we live a life full of vitality.

What is Prana?

‘Prana’ is absolute energy which exists everywhere. It is considered to be the essence of all forms of life – from the highest to the lowest. Fresh air is the greatest source of prana. The easiest way of getting prana is by inhaling it along with air. This is where breath and the way we breathe plays an important role in  nourishing both mind and body. With the correct form of breathing, we can control and regulate breathing. We will be able to extract a greater supply of prana, which is stored in the brain and nervous system, to be used when necessary.

What is the correct form of breathing?

The correct form of breathing according to Yogi Ramacharaka, is also called the complete breath. First of all, always breathe through the nose, and not through the mouth. The mouth is not equipped to cleanse the air and change the temperature of the air you are breathing in. The nostrils filter the air we breathe and also warm it, so that it can do no damage to the delicate respiratory organs.

The best method of breathing according to Yogi Ramacharaka is one where the entire respiratory apparatus, – every part of the lung, every cell, every respiratory muscle is brought into play. In the Yogi complete breathing method, “the respiratory muscles are fully called into play…… The muscles controlling the ribs are used in such a way that, it increases the space in which the lungs can expand.”

The maximum benefit is derived with minimum energy expended. In such a breathing, the chest cavity is expanded to its normal limits in all directions and every part works and performs the functions it is supposed to.

Know more about the Yogi Complete Breathing