Sunday, May 03, 2020

Honey, herbs and spices

I use a lot of herbs and spices every day, sometimes just because I crave the taste of that one today, other times because I want a benefit that herb or spice is purported to have.

This is a bit of a ramble, and not to be taken as medical advice - but as a springboard for studying these things on your own.  I am not a doctor, but I do 'doctor' myself, because with hEDS a lot of medications do not work in my body, or work 'oddly'...incompletely or for reduced time periods.   I've kind of just learned to listen to what my body is saying 'to me' and follow some certain rules.  I got deep into old apothecary books and Foxfire type things to find the things that worked for me.

It is important to eat a balanced natural food diet when you can - and to try to keep your blood pressure and blood sugars balanced naturally and without medications.  There are many vitamins and nutrients that are not present in processed foods or are reduced in their quality by processing.  Many people do not know about the benefits of pairing certain classic foods to improve their effectiveness and usefulness in our body - there are reasons tomatoes and beef and olive oil were used together for sauces in classic Italian recipes  There are reasons for lemon and fish and greens, and for peas and onions and carrots etc etc...

Honey is also a natural substance that has lots of great benefits.  The problem with honey is that a lot of what is sold in stores is processed, mixed with sugar and corn syrup water and nowhere near the actual original substance.  It can be very hard to tell the difference - and price is a good indicator, but not the only one.  You will want to look for a dark golden brown, fluid substance that moves in the bottle in a 'certain way'... and a small jar will probably cost upwards of ten dollars.  The more local you can get - the better.  If you know someone who actually pulls honey from their own hives in your area, get in and get their number - and you will have the very best source that you know is real.

Honey is a natural antibacterial, and contains lots of vitamins as well.  It is a 'drying' agent, so mixing it with teas and broths will help to dry up congestion and mucus that has developed in the body.  It can be applied to wounds or abscesses with a q-tip to draw out infection, but must be washed off the tooth and out of the mouth immediately after the treatment.

Mint is also good for opening up airways, and for settling stomachs.  Ginger is good for inflammation and for settling stomachs.  Turmeric is a bit of an antiviral and good for inflammation, you will find it as the yellow color in curry powder.  Garlic is a great antibacterial, can be applied raw to an infected tooth (but I warn you, it hurts, but it helps as well) and will give many benefits in broths and soups against sinus infections.

A bath with eucalyptus or peppermint oil will also help relax the muscles and open the lungs with the scented steam.  Lavender oil is good for relaxing the muscles and releasing tension.  Almond oil is great for soothing irritated or intermittently dry skin.  Shea butter is a great thing to rub on dry, wrinkled or stretched skin (like a pregnant belly) to help against skin problems.  It is also a great addition in soaps or bath oils.  Oatmeal helps against itch and oatmeal water in the bath can help soften the skin.  A paste of (cooled!) oatmeal can be applied to poison ivy or other skin issues and let to dry to suck out the irritants.  If you have a bee sting though, use baking soda and vinegar paste to do the same thing.

Sinus infections need to be attacked from several directions at once.  Pea soup and lentils offer zinc to help break up the initial cold virus or otherwise that has caused the infection.  Garlic and/or onions help to ease the lungs, expectorate the mucus and reduce inflammation.  Licorice tea can be harmful in large amounts to people with heart conditions - but a bit of it mixed with mint or ginger tea can help expectorate mucus, as well.  Especially when a large tablespoon of honey is stirred into the hot tea, then cooled to taste, and drank down all at once while warm.  You will want to take the honey two to three times a day with this mixture to help fight the bacteria that is causing the sinus infection.  Curry powder with turmeric, garlic and cayenne pepper all help ease inflammation and infection - and can be mixed with chicken broth to make it tasty and easy to drink.  This is best drank warm as a beverage just before a period of rest.

Cinnamon helps with inflammation and also is being studied as helping to break down fats in the body.  Pepper has piperine in it, and it is a powerful anti-inflammatory and helps with pain from chronic conditions when combined with the proper 'helper' spices, like turmeric and garlic (which, coincidentally, are the key components of curry spice).  There are reasons ancient people went 'ga-ga' over spices and took long ocean voyages to get their hands on them.  

The above type regiment should be mixed with consumption of oranges, strawberries, blueberries, fresh tomatoes or other natural Vitamin C.  You will have to make sure that the Vitamin C is not 'cooked' out of being effective, heat can destroy its properties.  Most vitamin C supplement pills are not as easily absorbed as the foods we eat.  Think about the recipes that include 'the juice of one lemon, squeezed on just before serving', or a diced garnish of fresh tomatoes and onions.

Combine the vitamin C with a dose of iron from peas, beans, beets or meat.  Vitamin C helps the body use iron, zinc and other vitamins to fight inflammation and rebuild tissues if they are available at the same time in your system.

Also some vitamins require a fat source eaten with them in order to be absorbed - fat soluble vitamins, and you will find them in classic pairings like I mentioned above.   Vitamin A should be consumed with a good dose of butter or olive oil or fat like a fish or vitamin E containing things (eggs, nuts) to do its best work in your body. 

Vitamin A is rich in some vegetables like pumpkin and carrot, as well as in egg yolks and sweet potatoes.  Vitamin D can be gotten from eggs, fortified milk, fresh dark green vegetables and fish.   Vitamin B-12 is important for brain and anxiety health - it can be found in breads and meats, liver and some fish, eggs, milk, yogurt and cheese.  B12 is not easily absorbed from supplements.

Vitamin K helps with blood problems, and is from fresh dark green vegetables.  Vitamin E helps with collagen, skin and muscle issues and is present in sunflower seeds, almonds, fresh spinach and some fish and olives, and good olive oil, if you have it.

Fish is also a great source of omega threes, which are important for brain function.  As an American society, we have shunned fish and beans in our diets when they are actually great sources of important nutrients.  The same goes for garlic and onions.  We are losing those benefits by determining that food is 'smelly' to eat or has bad aftereffects with gas - and our bodies are hurting for it.  Beans help regulate blood sugar, provide iron and vitamin A, fiber and folates, which are important for rebuilding tissues.  Their protein is processed slower over the course of the day and keep you from snacking on sugary things and having blood sugar spikes.

When America decided that beans were not an 'elite' food somewhere in the fifties we lost a great dietary resource.  Same with the mercury scare on Fish - it became less a part of our diets because of worry, reduced to recommendations of 'once a week at most' by the FDA, and we have lost the important brain and fat regulation qualities that eating fish in your diet can provide.  The vitamins and nutrients in fish is very easily broken down and used by our nervous and tissue rebuilding systems, much easier than many other sources of meat.  It can also help improve mood in the winter with high amounts of Vitamin D, which counteract the lack of sun.

The big scare about fats and sugars was also not a 'complete story'.  We were given only what the big companies wanted us to hear - eat margarine, drink diet soda, avoid fat but sugar is A-OK.  No.  Fat is important to the brain and muscles and helping to create at a cellular level everything in your body.  There are societies that learned to subsist on mostly fat - and their bodies made  evolutionary changes based on this, and worked in healthful ways for millennia, until they met with new societies and began to consume large amounts of sugar again, and then began to have health problems (Arctic peoples like the Inuit, there have been many studies).

There has not been a single society that evolved to only eat mostly sugars - because our bodies cannot work that way.  Our brains are made of FAT.  We were made to eat fat, and to seek sugar where we can find it - because it is supposed to be rare and special, like in the fruit off a tree or berries in the meadow.  If you actively reduce your consumption of sugar for a few weeks, you will begin to taste again the sugar in sweet potatoes, cooked kidney beans, a good ripe tomato.  It will taste just as sweet as the most syrupy drink.  Our taste buds get 'mellowed' though, by constant consumption of high doses of sugar.

It is consuming the healthy fats with large doses of sugar that makes our bodies put on weight.  I've read this again and again recently in new books - and I really think they have something there.   Our bodies see this as a 'once in a lifetime chance' to store this bounty we have found.  But then it happens tomorrow, and the day after that -and the switch in our bodies doesn't just turn off.  Most people's metabolisms do not kick up in this situation, and help them burn more fat.  Even if they increase their exercise they will simply consume more to keep up with the exertion and their bodies will try to hold on to the storage for as long as possible - making them hungrier and hungrier, encouraging them to seek out more food for more stability.

So I am not anti-sugar, but it should be eaten in smaller quantities, and replaced with long-process foods such as beans and vegetables.  The sugary things, including bread and potatoes, should be kept to a minimum beside the meal.  No meal needs pasta, bread, potatoes and rice...(no matter what those combo meals tell you)  those are all high carbohydrate 'easy sugar' things - and should be limited to a few per meal (unlike the food pyramid suggests).. and sugary deserts added on top of that is just compounding the problem.

I'm not talking about fruit, it contains lots of fiber and a natural sugar, but fruit juices are mostly just the sugar and not the fiber, so count them as a treat.   And treats should be just that, once in a while, limited to a few times a day if that.  There was a reason it was 'dessert'... served at the end, and usually a very complicated recipe for a very small item.  Think about that - when we as a culture moved from the small slice of cake or a few tablespoons of fruit cobbler and ice cream as a 'big dessert' to eating half a plate of cake or a huge sundae every day for dessert?  It was an image thing, in magazines.. of opulence and wealth.. but it said nothing about health (or maybe it did.. the kid always had fat cheeks!)

Also, eating smaller amounts through the day and eating what you have cravings for if available will help you deliver what your body needs when it needs it.  I'm not talking about a craving for a candy bar, or a cheeseburger (mostly, although a cheeseburger is fat and iron!)... If you retune your taste buds you will begin 'tasting' cravings for  vitamins and nutrients that your body needs, like suddenly wanting a grapefruit, or spinach, to have fish tonight, or a dessert with berries or a handful of nuts.   And you will begin to eat less in sheer quantity when the quality and 'correctness' of what your body needs is in balance.  Cravings for eating large quantities of food are also a body signal - vacuum in as much as possible hoping that we can get the right amount of the nutrient we need.  When we hit that spot with a concentrated punch of the nutrient, the cravings for more and more food cease.

I am pro-butter, and olive oil, and fish, and eggs (not fed antibiotics).  These are healthful oils and fats and eaten with the rights fruits and vegetables will help rebuild your body every time it needs it.  And if you eat all of the above in variety and moderation AND reduce the sugar it should be actually processed by your body instead of stored in your arteries and excess weight. 

No comments: