The wonders of burdock root

What I love about the Japanese culture is just how health and beauty conscious they are. We could certainly learn a thing or two from them in our modern Western world and I’ve recently stuck my head in to the traditional remedies that they and other cultures have natural healthbeen depending on for thousands of years direct from mother nature. Burdock root holds some incredible properties and is great to drop a few roots into a cup of tasty miso soup. 

After a bad blood infection and reoccurring large and painful boils on my legs while on an extended trip in remote Mentawai Islands, I decided to look into having a tonic made up from a naturopath that focused on purifying the blood.

This was with the intention to provide my body with relief after the purchase of cheap and nasty penicillin out of immense pain and desperation while in Malaysia on that same trip. The tonic had a noticeable effect on clearing up the boils and it was years until I had only a small outburst of them again (only after coming into direct contact with someone that had them).

I was pretty impressed given my GP had told me boils once contracted can stay in the blood stream for a lifetime and can reoccur at any point.

One of those many ingredients found in the tincture was “burdock root” and while curiously browsing the aisles of an Asian supermarket I found some dried burdock and decided to look at ways to implement it into my diet.

Burdock root health benefits

Other than being popular throughout Japanese culture, burdock has a long history throughout the American Indians and Europeans for its healing properties. It is also very well used throughout Indian and Chinese Medicine for the treatment of various ailments

Blood purifier

Exactly what I was after when suffering from boils. Burdock root is a great detoxifier and has been found to remove heavy metals from the blood stream which develops through poor diet and lifestyle choices. These toxins are effectively removed from the body due to the active compounds of the burdock.

Clean and pure blood means proper organ function, improved circulation and overall health and vitality. I am assuming that the cleansing properties and improved circulation means more blood is able to be pumped to the surface of the skin, therefore having a positive effect on cleansing skin infections such as the boils I had.

Naturopaths will often prescribe tinctures including burdock root extract to patients suffering from psoriasis and eczema with positive effect. Burdock root tea is also applied topically to acne ridden skin and other conditions to improve skin quality. Burdock root also assists in the drainage of the lymphatic system which is commonly full of toxins and waste, and which can easily block the proper function of the lymph nodes which are vital for a strong immune system.

Youthful skin

Again due to the great detoxifying properties found within burdock root, the quality and pexels-photo-112327appearance of skin is improved through its regular consumption. Perhaps this is one of the secrets to Japanese appearing much younger than they actually are (other than their good genes).

Clinical trials find that burdock root also helps to reduce the common signs of ageing such as wrinkly skin. All that time in the sun surfing over a lifetime surely will add up! It’s nice to know there are natural ways to combat the leather skin look.

Anti-Cancer Properties

The removal of heavy metals from the body and consuming foods that are high in antioxidants are both positive steps towards reducing your risk cancer developing in the body. Burdock root is extremely high in antioxidants meaning it is a great scavenger for free-radicals and harmful metals that you simply don’t want in your system.

As with most natural cures for widespread diseases, not enough studies have been “officially” carried out by professionals, but many naturopaths have continually been amazed by the positive effect burdock (in combination with other natural treatments) has on patients suffering from chronic tumors. They put this down to the anti-mutagenic and anti-tumor properties which inhibit the cancer cell growth, disallowing it to reproduce and spread throughout the body.

Burdock root tea

I found the easiest way to introduce burdock root into my diet is a simple tea made fromburdock root tea the dried burdock root. I found a packet of the dried root at my local Asian supermarket for around $4.60. Simply place a few of the dried roots into the bottom of a cup and pour hot water over top, allowing to steep for a few minutes.

Alternatively you can make up a tea pot but I didn’t have one on hand at the time. The taste I can only compare to miso or a slight mushroom taste and I found it quite pleasant to drink. You can experiment with adding honey or sugar if you like, however I saw it as more of a savory tea.

You can also use the leftover softened burdock root perhaps in stifrys as it has a soft mushroom texture or pour more hot water over the top and use the tea topically for any skin ailments. You can also use as a shower cleanser to really take advantage of the wonderful properties of this plant.

Conclusion

Other than those listed above there are what appears to be an endless list of positive properties of the burdock root and I’m sure many more that we are not aware of. Some of those properties include:

  • Anti-inflammatory properties which is great for the reduction of painful types of arthritis
  • Assisting with those suffering with diabetes
  • There are around 26 known minerals and vitamins contained within burdock root including iron, selenium, zinc, vitamin A, B6 and C
  • Improves digestive issues
  • Assists in the treatment of an enlarged spleen (due to a poor immune system)
  • Boosts memory
  • Antiseptic properties
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Increases metabolism

There are certainly enough articles to be found throughout the internet and herbal handbooks reporting on the great effects of the burdock root and I’m pretty happy to have stumbled across it and have it so readily available.

Read more from Dr Axe here

Resources:

Clinical trials: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21429215

Clinical trials anti-aging properties: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19146605

Dr Christopher’s herbal legacy: http://www.herballegacy.com/Light_Medicinal.html

http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/burdock

http://www.naturalnews.com/031390_blood_cleansing.html

 The Importance of BYO skincare products when travelling remotely

I think it’s amazing these days seeing the prevalence of cancer amongst seemingly “healthy individuals”. How many times have you heard someone say “yeah he passed away from cancer but it makes no sense, he was the healthiest guy, always eating the best foods and exercising regularly”. It is my belief it all comes down to the products we are applying externally and surrounding ourselves in daily that are endocrine disruptors (or hormone disruptors). See Wikipedias definition here.

A few years ago I never used to care for what I was putting on my skin, in my hair or brushing my teeth coconut oil with until I dated a highly passionate vegan. I hadn’t even heard of the concept of chemical beauty products, all that mattered was that it smelt pretty, moisturised, left a minty taste, smoothed or untangled. A simple internet search of unpronounceable chemicals contained in my favourite deodorant or moisturiser revealed some pretty disturbing results.

I started exploring alternative options and visiting speciality health food stores and paying more money for natural products. This was certainly trial and error as I found many products were not effective and I had to go through many brands until I found one that suited. For example finding a natural deodorant that actually worked took quite a few months and quite a few dollars, but I was so happy when I finally found a reliable brand and have to this day stuck with it.

Common Misbeliefs 

The biggest misbelief people follow regarding everyday skin care products you find at your supermarket is “if it’s so bad how can it end up in the supermarket and why would these companies want to harm your health?”. The sad truth is many companies want to find the most cost-effective option for manufacturing their products, with very little care for your health but total focus on how much profit they can make.

The use of animal products 

This involves using multiple animal by-products which include ground up intestines, meat industry beauty productshormones from adrenal glands and proteins obtained by boiling ligaments, bones and skin. For a full list see peta.org’s animal ingredients’ list here . The reason companies decide to use animal products is because they are cheap and usually by-products from the meat industry. Also animal skin oils etc are most closely related to our skin, therefore giving a smooth texture upon application, especially in moisturisers and makeup.

The use of chemical products

Again the main reason companies (including big names) use chemical products which are harmful to your health is because of the low cost involved. Have a look at the top chemicals to look out for in your personal skin care products here. You will see listed many chemicals which can affect internal organs, lead to skin allergies, cause chest pain, nausea, affect your immune system and the worst- cancer.

So the issue is not if you use these products once or twice or even for a few months at a time. Rather it is the long term exposure to these carcinogenic chemicals that will do the damage. Of course your skincare routine is engrained to your daily habits- my main tip is don’t change your entire beauty product range overnight- it’s just too overwhelming, trust me I tried! Once you start looking at the ingredients of every bathroom product you will find toothpaste, shampoos, moisturisers and all hair products contain some kind of toxic chemical or ground up animal part. Start with just one and go from there. It took me almost a year to almost fully change my beauty products to natural options. It is also a process of simplification- for example my everyday hair wash I just use diluted apple cider vinegar and for moisturiser face and body I use coconut oil.

The problem with remote regions

Luckily in countries like Australia there are regulations and bodies in place to measure what makes a product “organic” or “vegan-friendly”. Many remote spots just haven’t been educated on the dangers, therefore I’ve found products are much worse off than Australia because of a largely unregulated industry. In Thailand there are entire sections in supermarkets that claim to be organic but a simple scroll of the ingredients will reveal anything but. Small villages in Indonesia, Polynesia and Philippines that I have lived in all rely on toxic products as there is no other option.

Herein lies the importance of bringing your own beauty products on your surf trips. You could say you’re only living in these spots for less than a few months but once you are aware of just how bad most supermarket products are, it’s hard to go back. Again simplification wins. You don’t want to pay for excess baggage because of all the products you’re going to bring to last a few months.

The lesson learnt is not to only evaluate what you put inside your body but equally as important, be aware of what you’re exposing your body to and the long-term effects on your health.

El Naturale Teeth Whitener

The teeth whitening industry is currently estimated to be a whopping $11 billion industry. That’s a pretty high figure considering many people have a fear of being in the dentist’s chair! Aside from a wisdom tooth extraction at an army base in Thailand which cost me about $7AUD (story for another time) I haven’t visited the dentist for around a decade and don’t plan to unless I experience obvious pain or problems with my teeth, mouth and gums. I much prefer to be pedantic about brushing my grills twice a day every day without exception, eat as close to nature as possible to avoid cavities from highly processed, sugary foods and once a week brighten my smile with a simple at home method.

Baking soda & lemon teeth whitener

This little at home teeth whitening trick is relatively new to me but I’m pretty happy with the results. I’ve been using this method for about two months and have noticed an improvement in the whiteness of my teeth (I do love my coffee) and the general smooth natural teeth whitenerfeeling of my dentures after I use the baking soda and lemon combo.

  1. Grab a small bowl and mix in about one heaped teaspoon of baking soda.
  1. Cut open a fresh lemon, only a small end slither of about 2cm and slowly squeeze the lemon juice onto the baking soda which will cause the baking soda to fizz from contact with the citrus. Stir the lemon juice in and gradually add more juice as needed until you have formed a smooth paste.
  1. Place your toothbrush in the mixture until its surface has a nice layer of the paste and lightly brush those grills, reapplying the mixture onto your brush along the way. natural whitener Brush for about two minutes then rinse out your mouth with fresh water.

This is such a simple, easy and cost effective way to whiten your teeth. The baking soda is pretty abrasive therefore you only want to be using the above technique once a week max. The idea of the fresh lemon juice is that it helps activate the properties of the baking soda and increases the effectiveness of the teeth whitening.

On-The-Go Natural Hand Sanitiser

It seems in recent years the market has been flooded with pocket-size hand sanitisers. Big sanitiser pump bottles can also be found in businesses such as banks and retail outlets at the front counter.

I remember growing up I only ever saw this in places that made sense to have them, such as pet stores, hospitals and kindergartens. As with most things in life, it’s all about balance and we most certainly need some bacteria and germs to support and protect our immune systems.

If we live in an environment where there is no kind of bacteria, then we step outside and come into contact with the smallest hint of bacteria then we are going to react radically to that exposure. Sure we want to kill harmful bacteria but we don’t want to wipe out bacteria all together. Overuse of “convenient” hand hand sanitisersanitisers can see both good and bad bacteria being stripped from the skin and it dramatically upsets our skin’s antimicrobial defenses.

We need some bad bacteria residing on the skin in order to make the transmission of disease harder to break through! The fact of the matter is we can’t always be “sterile”. With the use of hand sanitisers, we are not improving our immune systems but rather weakening it, by living in neurotically clean environments where any trace of bacteria that “could lead to a cold” needs to be exterminated.

Harmful chemicals found within hand sanitisers

The problem is we have no idea what chemicals are used to make up the sanitiser formulas as manufacturers aren’t required to list them. However, one chemical that is often listed on the ingredient panel and most commonly found in the majority of hand sanitisers is “triclosan”.

It is a known hormone disruptor as found in studies carried out on lab rats. It further interrupts proper muscle function and in one experiment in particular where rats were exposed to triclosan, it was found that their heart muscle function was reduced by 25% and their gripping strength reduced by 18%.

In fact triclosan was first used as a pesticide and still is widely used in agriculture- so how on earth did it end up in the majority of our every day skin care products?  As with most harmful chemicals that you should avoid, it’s simply a matter of large scale companies producing low cost, yet popular products that they know will sell, with zero care for our health and well being.

The stripping of natural oils from the skin

Hand sanitisers contain large quantities of alcohol in order to be effective and therefore very easily dry out your skin and strip away natural oils by dehydrating the skin cells. The protective layer of oil coated on our skin exists as a natural barrier for protection against bacteria. The process of smothering hand sanitiser on our skin is then removing that barrier completely! Therefore we are actually increasing the risk of germs and bacteria making their way into our bodies!

Try my safe alternative 

I use tea-tree oil for anything bacteria related and always have a small 100% pure tea tree oil bottle sitting in my bag or bathroom cabinet. When travelling I carry a small spray antibacterial soapsbottle of water with about 20 drops of tea tree oil and this is what I use as a hand sanitiser. I know that it’s 100% natural and don’t have to worry about exposing myself to nasty chemicals. The spray bottle is also great to use as a deodorant if you forgot to put any on before your long trip!

Depending on how often you feel you need to “sanitise” yourself, it may seem like small exposure to chemicals via hand sanitisers-in particular triclosan.

However, you might want to pay attention to just how many other every day bathroom products contain this chemical. You also want to take into consideration the exposure of chemicals in your every day life whether through the foods you consume, cleaning products you exposure yourself to or use of skincare products. It all adds up and increases the risk of nasty side effects and especially the many variations of cancers more commonly being diagnosed.

Resources:

FDA proposing rule to determine safety and effectiveness of antibacterial soaps: http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm378542.htm

Triclosan: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/08/29/triclosan-in-personal-care-products.aspx

Why I’m sucking on cloves

For as long as I can remember I’ve always made sure I’m not the girl with the bad breath and have always chewed gum or mints-most especially after drinking coffee as I’m not a big fan of the after taste nor coffee breath. Fresh breath, sugar-free, healthy gums and teeth are what I had in mind when I’ve added mints to my shopping list.

These days when I look through the supermarket aisle I’m presented with a huge range of mints and gum. The certain type that seems to have increased in popularity lately are the mints that come in the handy metal tins. I’m not exactly sure why these have appealed to me but I’ve been buying them for a while now.

However, lately I’ve been thinking more and more about just how many tins I’m going through and how much waste I’m creating for the earth. I feel better when I always make sure I place them into the recycle bin, but I’m still not happy with my decision to go through so much waste.

I’m writing this as I myself explore natural alternatives along the way. For the past few years I have adapted the mindset where I live as close to nature as possible and am continually looking for ways in which to improve my daily habits. Below I explore what’s actually in my little tin of mints.

Looking at the front of the tin I’m happy to see the mints are 99% sugar free and peppermint flavor. Turning the tin over to the side panel I’m greeted with the following:

Sweeteners (950,955)

Sorbitol

Peppermint Oil (1%)

Anticaking agent (470)

Natural Colour (153)

Sweetener 955

After the most basic of research it’s pretty clear to see I’ve fallen victim to some great marketing techniques utilised by mint and gum companies, whereby they are able to get away with listing their product as “sugar free” or “99% sugar free” but still use a sugar by-product. Sucralose or sweetener 955 is a sweetener that’s doing just as much damage, ifclinic-doctor-health-hospital-large.jpg not more damage than sugar itself.

Many reported side-effects include blurred vision, weight gain, gastro problems and migraines. While it’s a sweetener commonly found in larger products such as ice cream, beverages and confectionery, you might think that with the small amount of mints and gums you consume in a day that you won’t be affected by these side-effects. If I personally think about the days where I’m habitually sucking on mints then I want to put myself on caution.

As sucralose is artificial and produced in a chemical plant, it’s not natural, nor does the body recognise it and therefore we are unable to process it or metabolize it. Unfortunately very few studies have been carried out on humans but typically have been carried out on animals-namely rats.

The effects of 955 on rats being enlarged liver and kidneys, red blood cell count decrease, aborted pregnancies and an obvious drop in fetal weight.  The effects of sucralose on the body are more closely reported on by The Sucralose Toxicity Information Centre although the studies are last updated around 2008, they still give us a fair insight into the dangers of consuming products containing this sweetener.

Sweetener 950

Acesulfame K or sweetener 950 is yet another version of sugar, reportedly being up to 200 times sweeter than sugar on its own-a figure hard to divulge! Studies carried out on laboratory rats call for a reassessment of the safety of this sweetener for human consumption due to potential cancer risks being identified.

This is most likely due to Acesulfame being a potassium salt that contains methylene chloride-a known carcinogen often found in pain strippers, electronics and paints. Side effects of consuming Acesulfame is a reduction in the good bacteria in your gut of up to 50%. This is rather disturbing as your body relies heavily on gut health for overall health. Other side effects include dizziness, respiratory problems, weight gain and migraines.

Unfortunately any studies carried out on humans (limited) show little impact of this chemical on the body as the trials have never been carried out for any longer than four days. If only data existed to show the effects of a lifetime of consumption of this sweetener.

Sorbitol

Another sugar alcohol that is slowly metabolized by the body. It is the main ingredient that is linked to diarrhea, therefore many gum or mint companies will place a warning on their packet to the effect that excess consumption may have a laxative effect.

Sorbitol is commonly found in dieting products and is heavily linked to a large range of abdominal issues including bloating, increase of stomach acid and heartburn.  I know if I consume too many mints throughout the day I have mild abdominal pain which I can only link to their intake. While sorbitol isn’t as nasty as sweeteners I still would want to limit the intake of products containing it.

My newly discovered alternative

If you’re anything like me, you want a breath freshener that’s convenient and you are ableindian.jpg to use on the go. That’s probably why you are also buying mints or gum (or were!) and that’s why the marketing for these products are so successful

Looking into healthy alternatives, Mukhwas is the little spice mix often displayed at the counter when you pay for your meals at Indian restaurants, often with a small wooden spoon resting in the bowl.

It contains an array of nutritious seeds and spices, used as a breath freshener or after dinner mint and also to aid digestion. After searching around for a recipe, I found countless varieties and was taken back by its historic origins throughout many cultures around the world.  Such a simple and natural alternative!

Cloves

I’m going with the singular selection of just one of the ingredients commonly found in the Mukhwas, whole cloves as they seem like the best size spice to have on the go.What’s more, cloves are packed full of nutrients such as magnesium, vitamins A, E, D & K and zinc- to name just a few.

They aid in digestion, reduce flatulence and nausea. Cloves also boost the immune system, are anti-carcinogenic and contain certain flavonoids that assist in healthy bones by preserving bone density. There are many reasons why cloves are great alternatives to mints or gum:

-Like ever lasting gobstoppers you can suck on a clove for hours and it won’t perish.

-Cloves have a mild, warm and sweet after taste.

-They have great antiseptic properties which is handy in general, but also if you feel a coldcloves.jpeg coming on suck on cloves throughout the day to prevent a full blown sickness.

-When you’ve finished you can just throw the clove back to the earth where it came from.

-I noticed a rather calming effect on my mind.

-Inexpensive and plentiful.

-I’ve decided to store my cloves in a cute twist top container with hand painted lines drawn around the outside.

That’s a wrap

As with most man made products the problem is that so little study has been carried out as to the long term effects of the use of artificial products in our every day living. If anything presents a potential risk, especially to the level of being carcinogenic and has had basic research revealing damaging effects to the body then I want to be avoiding putting that product anywhere near my body.

Resources:

The potential dangers of Sucralose: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2000/12/03/sucralose-dangers.aspx

Complete list of sweeteners: https://liveto110.com/complete-list-of-artificial-sweeteners

Aspartame cancer hazards: http://science.naturalnews.com/pubmed/18085058.html

Methylene Chloride: https://www3.epa.gov/airtoxics/hlthef/methylen.html

Acesulfame K:http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2009/02/10/new-study-of-splenda-reveals-shocking-information-about-potential-harmful-effects.aspx

The importance of spiritual truth

Spiritual truth to me governs and moves my entire being. I’m eternally grateful for various events and experiences that have shattered my universe and all of the times that ripped reality from my very grasp. These are the moments that enabled me to discover spirit.  Through losing a baby to nearly losing my own life almost exactly a year later (see my e-book here and story of headbutting reef here). I choose to openly publish these events to inspire others to see the light amidst the darkness and to (in time) proudly own and embrace those experiences as who you are. I find the complete alteration and re-building of everything you thought you knew about yourself and the sheer courage to make it through some of life’s events to be a true strength of character.

Physical impermanence

Physical impermanence is a given, therefore I refuse to accept that life is simply a material10155641_10151989608795168_1577042429_n existence, that it goes far deeper than what we can see with our own eyes.

I truly believe my external reality is a true reflection of my inner reality whether by thought, form, word or deed. My kingdom of heaven is within. One touch of the outermost corners of the spiritual world leaves me begging for more.

The stressors

A strong point of focus throughout this year has been my physical body and in particular central nervous system. I left a corporate, high-stress job earlier in the year without realising how far I had pushed myself mentally within the position, nor did I realise the actual state of my health.

We often completely overburden the body through over stimulation and over consumption, leaving the only time to rest for when we finally get to sleep at night.

Meditation

One of the strongest ways to access our earthly being (for we are of nature) over our technological and sometimes robotical being is the art of meditation. It can be hard to search for a truth when our minds are constantly running and it’s refreshing to lay in a state of silence.

Multiple religions including Krishna and Hindu place a small bindi between the brows, atop of the “third eye” which is said to be “the sacred symbol of the cosmos in its unmanifested state”. Many meditations will focus on the third eye to access other realms of reality and to manifest dreams.

62337_10151881215375168_421054842_n.jpg

Higher dimensions

Without getting too deep, it is also believed that (real) psychics access information through the sixth dimension where “all life is directed and advanced through the work of spirit”.

Through deep meditation I’m aware of many more aspects of life falling into place, I’m more conscious of synchronicities or “coincidences” (as a non-spiritual believer would call) and I’m able to receive notions of future events before they actually occur.

Most recently this came to me by way of random thought of a friend being pregnant. I hadn’t spoken to her for a few weeks however she contacted me two days after that notion telling me the happy news. While I don’t follow a set religion or pray to an outer god I believe each of us can access our inner gods as often as we call upon them.