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Spices, Herbs – Mantra of Diet

The Mantra of Diet today is constantly shifting.  However, the pursuit of spices has helped shaped our world as we know today. Hundreds of years ago, merchants from Europe traveled by land and sea to transport exotic and expensive plants such as cinnamon, rosemary, nutmeg and turmeric from Asia. But when the Ottoman Empire restricted Europe’s spice routes to Asia in the 1400s, explorers such as Christopher Columbus looked for alternate routes to India and instead stumbled on our glorious land. It’s not a far stretch to thank cinnamon for our providence.

Spices hold a special place in human existence that we are just starting to understand. Sure, they are prized to provide bold and unique flavors, aromas and colors to otherwise bland foods. But many don’t know the hidden story: before the invention of refrigeration, spices’ underlying bioactivity, in the form of potent and diverse antioxidant and antimicrobial food-preserving properties, helped to prevent sickness and contagion caused by food spoilage. Thus, spices carried a magical aura for those who demanded them, and at the same time, they provided a livelihood for many generations of farmers, harvesters and suppliers.

Today, our interest in spices has shifted to the scientific study of their health benefits, to see if they can help us live healthier lives. On a molecular level, the chemical properties that make spices great flavorings, colorings and food preservatives are closely linked to the properties which help to promote human health. Polyphenols, carotenoids and terpenoids are all highly bioactive and health-supporting classes of compounds common to many spices, and are the focus of thousands of medical research studies.

Consuming enough of these active compounds to make a difference in our health can be tough through food alone. The mantra of many is that a diet with a diversity of spices can help us live longer, but no one is suggesting that fried chicken made with 14 of them is a health food (yet!). And while variety may be the “spice of life,” research suggests a variety of spices added to food can lead to a tendency to overeat.1 Likewise, consumer health media recommendations to sprinkle some cinnamon on toast or add a pinch of turmeric powder to curry may be naïve to some key underlying practical and scientific caveats such as compliance, dose response and opposing effects.

For instance, a clinically significant effective dose of cinnamon powder often recommended for managing blood sugar is a teaspoon or more—quite a “cinnamon challenge” for the palate and the stomach. Impurities that can be found in cinnamon powder, such as added sulfites and naturally occurring coumarin can tip the opposing-effects equation in the wrong direction, especially when doses are in baking measurements. On the other hand, science has validated the efficacy of concentrated, purified extracts, both from Chinese cinnamon (cassia) as well as “true” cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum syn. zeylanicum). Both the “whole food” and the scientific approaches have merits, but the second seems to garner increasingly more credibility among top medical experts.

Topical applications of spices have been used in traditional medicine like Ayurveda for hundreds of years, with turmeric being well proven and used by allopathic physicians for its wound-healing capabilities. The bioactivities of spices that preserve food also promote health in ways that are well known mechanistically, but in a clinical-sense are just now emerging. For example, in a 2014 study, an ointment containing cinnamon was effective at reducing pain after childbirth.7 In another study, a topical application of black pepper essential oil improved vein visibility for IV insertion better than the standard of care.8 This study did not measure whether sneezing increased, although the essential oil used in the study would probably have improved dinner too.

The potential of spices in human health and wellness is vast, and with sound science, more is learned every day about how and why spices can be beneficial.


 

Sources:

Original Article by Blake Ebersole

1.       Jones JB et al. “A randomized trial on the effects of flavorings on the health benefits of daily peanut consumption.” Am J Clin Nutr. 2014 Mar;99(3):490-6. DOI: 10.3945/ajcn.113.069401.

2.       Nieman DC et al. “Influence of red pepper spice and turmeric on inflammation and oxidative stress biomarkers in overweight females: a metabolomics approach.” Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 2012 Dec;67(4):415-21. DOI: 10.1007/s11130-012-0325-x.

3.       Cox KH, Pipingas A, Scholey AB. “Investigation of the effects of solid lipid curcumin on cognition and mood in a healthy older population.” J Psychopharmacol. 2014 Oct 2. PII: 0269881114552744.

4.       Pengelly A et al. “Short-term study on the effects of rosemary on cognitive function in an elderly population.” J Med Food. 2012 Jan;15(1):10-7. DOI: 10.1089/jmf.2011.0005..

5.       McCaffrey R, Thomas DJ, Kinzelman AO. “The effects of lavender and rosemary essential oils on test-taking anxiety among graduate nursing students.” Holist Nurs Pract. 2009 Mar-Apr;23(2):88-93. DOI: 10.1097/HNP.0b013e3181a110aa.

6.       Lindheimer JB, Loy BD, O’Connor PJ. “Short-term effects of black pepper (Piper nigrum) and rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis and Rosmarinus eriocalyx) on sustained attention and on energy and fatigue mood states in young adults with low energy.” J Med Food. 2013 Aug;16(8):765-71. DOI: 10.1089/jmf.2012.0216.

7.       Mohammadi A et al. “Effects of cinnamon on perineal pain and healing of episiotomy: a randomized placebo-controlled trial.” J Integr Med. 2014 Jul;12(4):359-66. DOI: 10.1016/S2095-4964(14)60025-X.

8.       Kristiniak S et al. “Black pepper essential oil to enhance intravenous catheter insertion in patients with poor vein visibility: a controlled study


 


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What It Means To Have Blocked Energies

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A very good excerpt on what it means or feel like when our energy is blocked. Below contains examples where we can all relate to in various ways. Read on to understand more your source of energy.

Have you ever noticed that when you are mentally and emotionally drained, food doesn’t help that much? Conversely, if you look at the times in your life when you were in love, or excited and inspired by something, you were so filled with energy that you didn’t even want to eat. This energy we are discussing does not come from the calories your body burns from food. There is a source of energy you can draw upon from inside. It is distinct from the outer energy source.

How Your Energy Shifts
The best way to examine this source of energy is to look at an example. Let’s say that you’re in your twenties and your girlfriend or boyfriend breaks up with you. You get so totally depressed that you start staying home alone. Soon, because you don’t have the energy to clean up, everything ends up sprawled all over the floor. You can hardly get out of bed, so you just sleep all the time. You must be eating, because there are pizza boxes lying all around. But nothing seems to help. You just have no energy. Your friends invite you out, but you decline. You are simply too tired to do anything[…]”
“Most people have been there at some time in their lives. You feel that you have no way out, and it seems like you will stay there forever.

Then suddenly, one day, the phone rings. It’s your girlfriend. That’s right, the one who dumped you three months ago. She’s crying as she says, “Oh, my God! Do you remember me? I hope you’ll still talk to me. I just feel so terrible. Leaving you was the worst mistake I ever made. I see now how important you are to me, and I can’t live without you. The only real love I ever felt in my life was during the time we were together. Would you please forgive me? Could you ever forgive me? Can I come over and see you?”
Now how are you doing? Seriously, how long does it take you to get enough energy to jump out of bed, clean up the apartment, take a shower, and get some color back in your face? It’s practically” “instantaneous. You’re filled with energy the moment you hang up the phone. How does this happen? You were completely drained. For months and months, you had no energy. Then out of nowhere, in a matter of seconds, there is so much energy it blows you away.

Sudden Burst of Energy
You can’t just ignore these enormous shifts in your energy level. Where exactly did all that energy come from? There was no sudden change in your eating or sleeping habits. Yet when your girlfriend comes by, you end up talking all night and going out to see the sunrise in the morning. You’re not tired at all. You’re together again and you’re holding hands and these rushes of joy just won’t stop overwhelming you. People see you and they remark that you look like a bundle of light. Where did all this energy come from?
What you’ll see, if you watch carefully, is that you have a phenomenal amount of energy inside of you. It doesn’t come from food and it doesn’t come from sleep. This energy is always available to you. At any moment you can draw upon it. It just wells up and fills you from inside. “When you’re filled with this energy, you feel like you could take on the world. When it is flowing strongly, you can actually feel it coursing through you in waves. It gushes up spontaneously from deep inside and restores, replenishes, and recharges you.

Why You Don’t Feel The Energy Anymore
The only reason you don’t feel this energy all the time is because you block it. You block it by closing your heart, by closing your mind, and by pulling yourself into a restrictive space inside. This closes you off from all the energy. When you close your heart or close your mind, you hide in the darkness within you. There is no light. There is no energy. There is nothing flowing. The energy is still there but it can’t get in.

Blocked Energy
That is what it means to be “blocked.” That is why you have no energy when you’re depressed. There are centers within that channel your energy flow. When you close them, there is no energy. When you open them, there is. Although various energy centers exist within you, the one you intuitively know the most about opening and closing is your heart. Let’s say that you love somebody, and you feel very open in their presence. Because you trust them, your walls come down allowing you to feel lots of high energy. But if they do something you don’t like, the next time you see them you don’t feel so high. You don’t feel as much love. Instead, you feel a tightness in your chest. This happens because you closed your heart. The heart is an energy center, and it can open or close. The yogis call energy centers chakras. When you close your heart center, energy can’t flow in. When energy can’t flow in, there’s darkness. Depending upon how closed you are, you either feel tremendous disturbance or overwhelming lethargy. Often people fluctuate between these two states. If you then find out that your loved one didn’t do anything wrong, or if they apologize to your satisfaction, your heart opens again. With this opening you get filled with energy, and the love starts flowing again.

How many times have you experienced these dynamics in your life? “You have a wellspring of beautiful energy inside of you. When you are open you feel it; when you are closed you don’t. This flow of energy comes from the depth of your being. It’s been called by many names. In ancient Chinese medicine, it is called Chi. In yoga, it is called Shakti. In the West, it is called Spirit. Call it anything you want. All the great spiritual traditions talk about your spiritual energy; they just give it different names. That spiritual energy is what you’re experiencing when love rushes up into your heart. That is what you’re experiencing when you’re enthused by something and all this high energy comes up inside of you.

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The Energy Belongs To You
You should know about this energy because it’s yours. It’s your birthright, and it’s unlimited. You can call upon it any time you want. It has nothing to do with age. Some eighty-year-old people have the energy and enthusiasm of a child. They can work long hours for seven days a week. It’s just energy. Energy doesn’t get old, it doesn’t get tired, and it doesn’t need food. What it needs is openness and receptivity. This energy is equally available to everybody. The sun does not shine differently on different people. If you’re good, it shines on you. If you did something bad, it shines on you. It’s the same with the inner energy. The only difference is that with the inner energy, you have the ability to close up inside and block it. When you close, the energy stops flowing. When you open, all the energy rushes up inside of you. True spiritual teachings are about this energy and how to open to it.”

If you have experienced or are experiencing any of the blocked energies, understand that Reiki can help with releasing the blockages.

Read more on Chakras, Colors and What they mean.

Excerpts From the Book: Jefferson A. Singer. “The Untethered Soul.” New Harbinger

 

© POSITIVE reiki 2014


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Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) & Cancer in British Columbia

love540Integrative medical practices are uniquely focused on every element of a patient’s life from emotional well-being and stress management to nutrition and mind-body connection.

Complementary and alternative medicine is “a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not presently considered to be part of conventional medicine.” The term “Complementary and Alternative Medicine” is frequently referred to as “CAM”. (NCCAM definition)

Complementary treatments are used in combination with conventional medicine. Alternative treatments are used instead of conventional medicine.

For more on defining CAM, please see NCCAM, http://www.nccam.nih.gov


 

Types of Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Biologics and Natural health products “Biologics” describes food and nutrition as a form of managing your health. This includes changes in diet and special diets and foods, as well as natural health products (NHPs). NHPs are defined as vitamins and minerals, herbal remedies, homeopathic medicines, probiotics, and other products like amino acids and essential fatty acids.

Mind-body practices include meditation and prayer, relaxation therapies, visualization, and creative activities, such as art and music therapy.

Manipulative and body-based practices include therapies such as spinal manipulation and forms of massage.

Energy therapies involve the use of energy fields such as therapeutic touch, reiki, and acupuncture.

Whole Medical Systems are based on distinct theories about treatment and practice and include multiple products and/or practices. Examples are traditional Chinese medicine and naturopathy.


 

Why People Use CAM

People living with cancer give many reasons for using CAM. Some of these reasons include:

•    Easing cancer symptoms or the side effects of conventional treatments

•    Dealing with the stress of cancer and its treatment

•    Restoring a sense of hope

•    Strengthening the body’s ability to heal

•    Offering a sense of control over their cancer experience

•    Seeing the treatments as natural and less toxic than medical treatments.


CAM Use in British Columbia (BC)

Surveys have shown that many people living with cancer in Canada use CAM. These surveys also show that CAM use in BC is higher than in any other province.

A recent survey of 412 people conducted by CAMEO at the BC Cancer Agency in November 2008 showed that:

•    49% have used CAM during their cancer experience

•    42% discussed CAM with their oncology health professional, but only 23% received enough information.


 

CAM Associations & Societies

These are the primary associations and societies for CAM more commonly used in by patients with cancer. They all have practice standards, codes of conduct and ethics, and disciplinary procedures.

Inclusion of the list below is for reference only and does not imply endorsement (therapies or members) by CAMEO or the BCCA.

Please see the list below in choosing to work with your health care practitioner.

 

HERBALISTS & NATURAL HEALTH PRODUCTS

MINDFULNESS BASED STRESS  REDUCTION FACILITATORS


B.C.’s Medical Services Plan provides $23 a visit to a maximum of ten visits a year only to low-income patients who use any of the following services: acupuncture, chiropractic, massage therapy, naturopathy, physical therapy and non-surgical podiatry.

Costs above this amount are the responsibility of the individuals receiving care. To find out if you qualify for MSP Premium Assistance Program visit: http://www.health.gov.bc.ca/msp/infoben/benefits.html

Original Sources cited:

Vancouver Sun Article on Alternative Care

BC Cancer Agency – Informational Guide for CAM

 

 


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Reiki Benefits for Cancer Patients

Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust’s (WWL) Oncology Unit at the Royal Albert Edward Infirmary has become the first NHS hospital in South Lancashire to start a Reiki complementary therapy service for the benefit of cancer patients, family members and staff.

Offered alongside conventional medical treatment, Reiki complementary therapies are provided by a team of 12 volunteer therapists who give cancer patients a chance to take control, feel better, and reduce uncomfortable symptoms such as pain, fatigue, and nausea.

“Offering Reiki therapy is a fantastic addition to the services we provide here at Royal Albert Edward Infirmary and improves the patient experience,” says WWL Oncology Unit Manager, Leo Anson. “Reiki has a real benefit for patients who are living with cancer and I would like to thank the volunteers for giving their free time and skills to our patients and staff.”

Reiki is the Japanese healing art and can help with physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual well-being, as well as being a very useful way to relax. Research has demonstrated how Reiki can help combat depression, anxiety and stress.

“Patients say they feel better after Reiki because it helps them cope with their cancer and its treatment. After the stress of hospitals and treatment, it can be very comforting when a therapist gives you attention in a relaxed setting,” says WWL Lead Cancer Nurse, Janet Irvine.

Further research shows in 2008, a review looked at 24 studies using therapeutic touch to treat pain. 3 trials used Reiki. Overall, the review found that people who had the touch therapies had less pain than people who did not have the therapies. Trials carried out by more experienced touch practitioners seemed to give better results in pain reduction. Reiki also seemed to give greater benefit than other types of touch therapy. The researchers suggested that more research should be done into whether experienced practitioners or certain types of touch therapy can give better pain reduction. 2 of 5 studies looking at painkiller use supported the claim that touch therapies lowered painkiller use. You can read about this touch therapy review on the Cochrane Library website.

 

Is Reiki Safe?

There are no reports of harmful side effects.

Reiki is considered to be safe. There is nothing invasive about reiki therapy. Be sure to always talk to your doctor prior to having any alternative or complementary treatment.

Most practitioners will advise you to rest and drink plenty of water after treatment.

Average cost of Reiki:  $30 – 100 per session depending on session length.
In the Photo: Volunteer reiki therapists and WWL cancer care staff with patient Angela Hunter

Sources:

www.nhl.com

Cancer Research UK


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Animal-Human Relationship can improve our health – Story of Owen – a 7 year old and his dog Hachi who was hit by a train

Almost everyone who has owned a pet knows the experience of bonding with an animal. For many pet owners, these animals become our friends and family members. According to research over the last few decades, these animal-human relationships can improve our health. Since the 1980s, we have known that having a connection with an animal reduces blood pressure. Contact with animals has (also) been shown to reduce stress hormones, which allows our bodies to heal faster. Animals are also believed to increase oxytocin, which is a hormone related to feelings of love and trust. This may be the reason that animals aren’t just good for our physical health, but also good for our mental and emotional health.

Owen Howkins is a 7-year-old boy in England with a rare medical condition that only affects 30 people around the world. This condition causes his body to be constantly tense. He’s very muscular because his muscles never relax. This is a very painful condition and it affects his balance. Because his muscles are always contracting, he has trouble walking and needs to use a wheelchair.

Hachii is a dog, who has also suffered at a young age and struggled with balance problems. Someone put a rope around Hatchii’s neck and tied him to a train track when he was just a puppy. Hatchii was hit by a train. His leg and tail were damaged beyond repair and had to be amputated.

Owen’s mother heard about Hatchii’s story and went to see him. When she first saw Hatchii she felt an immediate connection. And the feeling was mutual. When Hatchii saw her, he waved his tail stump for the first time.

The full story can be seen HERE

(Original story written by Dan on “Deepenglish”  and image by Greg Westfall)


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Studies have also shown that people with cancer can benefit from complementary therapies such as Reiki.  It can help with coping through a difficult process or stage in life.

Reiki Practitioners have observed that Reiki can:

Help some people to feel deeply relaxed
Help people cope with difficult situations
Relieve emotional stress and tension
Help to improve overall wellbeing

Some people with cancer say they feel better after using therapies such as Reiki. Studies show that this is often because a therapist spends time with the person, and touches them. After the rush and stress of hospitals and treatment, it can be very relaxing when someone gives you attention for an hour or more, in a calm setting.

How do you have Reiki?

When you first see a Reiki practitioner, they will ask you about your general health and medical history. They will also ask you why you would like to have Reiki and discuss a possible treatment plan with you.

During a Reiki treatment, you don’t have to get undressed but you usually take off your shoes and coat and sit or lie down. You can have your eyes open or closed. The Reiki practitioner may dim the lights or play soothing music. They put their hands on, or a few inches above, your body and move them in slow, brushing movements. The movements usually start at your head and work down to your feet, but may focus on a particular area of your body.

The practitioner aims to move and balance the energy within and around your body. And they try and get rid of any energy blocks to encourage physical healing and strengthen your energy. They call this energy Ki.

During the session you may feel a tingling sensation, a sense of deep relaxation, or warmth or coolness throughout your body. You may not feel anything, but practitioners say this doesn’t mean the treatment isn’t working. You can stop the treatment at any time.

A session usually lasts about an hour. Many practitioners say you will get the best results from 3 sessions within a fairly short space of time. Then take a break before having more treatments. After a Reiki session you may feel thirsty. It can help to drink plenty of water and avoid strong caffeine based drinks, such as coffee. You may feel deeply relaxed, and resting at home afterwards can help you get the full benefit of the treatment.

Remember, Reiki is not a religion and there are no side effects.  My clients have commented that Reiki is a wonderful relaxing and energizing experience. My dear pet clients have often thanked me with a lick and nudge after the session while I am engaged in a discussion with their owners regarding their treatment.

“The positive thinker sees the invisible, feels the intangible, and achieves the impossible.” – Anonymous

(Various Excerpts from: K. Prasad, “Reiki for dogs” & http://www.cancerreseachuk.org. Stats from mtroyal.ca & wikipedia.com)