Maximize Health and Longevity Using These Stress Management Strategies

Posted by Judith L. Harrison

Sometimes a word or concept is so over-used that the weight of its essence is diluted to  meaningless ‘noise’. When this happens, we are at the risk of not really listening to the conversation and/ or minimizing the seriousness of the word, concept, phrase…

With our penchant for sound bites we then carry on merrily, speaking and acting as though the conversation really has meaning for us, and with others with whom we find ourselves in conversation.

STRESS is one of those words and concepts. Not only is the word tripping off our tongues way too easily, so too is it that we have almost made it a ‘pride of ownership’ as in ” omg I am sooo stressed…” And wear it like a badge of honour or something like that:)

For a more serious consideration of stress and its ‘devilish’ ways, you might want to sit quietly with a soothing cup of tea and consider the following article.

Check out the full article.

An Ancient Magical Prayer

Posted by Gregg Braden,  Briding science, spirituality, and the real world

Mindfulness, meditation, kinds of meditation, who should meditate, why do we want to consider all of this or, indeed, any of it? As memes go, this could be consider just another ‘latest and greatest’. Well, as a clinical psychotherapist and student of behaviours that support mental and emotional health, I assure you that to ignore this one (mindfulness, meditation practices and related activities) is like ignoring the latest verifiable developments in scientific knowledge about what is reality. As well, there is the growing observable evidence of ‘busy and distracted’ that prevails. But, just because we are busy and distracted doesn’t mean we have to miss out on life as it is intended. How is it intended? Just watch the sheer joy of being alive that is readily observable in healthy, vibrant children at play. If we get even a little better at being mindful, we benefit in crucial life-giving ways.

“When our mental capacity is loaded, we are more exploitatory and les creative.” (Moshe Bar as published in Psychological Science).

Moshe Bar is a neuroscientist and the director of the Multidisciplinary Brain Research Center at Bar-Ilan University in Israel.

Download An Ancient Magical Prayer here

Toxic Clothing Affects Everyone

Posted by Dr. Mercola – Osteopathic Physician

Story at-a-glance

  • The average piece of clothing not only may be made from potentially allergenic materials (like latex, Lycra or spandex) but also may be contaminated with a variety of chemicals used during the manufacturing process
  • The clothing industry is one of the most polluting industries on the planet, and the textiles they produce may be laced with irritants and disease-causing chemicals
  • Microfiber clothing releases tiny pieces of microfiber plastic every time it’s washed, causing serious environmental concerns

In September 2016, American Airlines rolled out new uniforms for more than 70,000 employees — the first uniform overhaul in 30 years. Soon after, reports started coming in from about 100 pilots and 3,000 flight attendants that the uniforms were making them sick. A variety of symptoms were reported (some occurring only while the personnel were wearing the uniforms), such as rashes, itching, eye swelling and a general feeling of malaise.1

Twin Hill, a unit of Tailored Brands Inc., which supplied the uniforms, has conducted testing, with nothing suspicious showing up that may cause the symptoms, and so far American Airlines has not recalled the uniforms, although they’ve given some employees alternative pieces and allowed them to wear their old uniforms while the matter is sorted out.2 While this may seem like an unusual story, it’s not unheard of for clothing to make people sick.

In fact, the average piece of clothing not only may be made from potentially allergenic materials (like latex, Lycra or spandex) but also may be contaminated with a variety of chemicals used during the manufacturing process.

The clothing industry is actually one of the most polluting industries on the planet, and the textiles they produce may be laced with irritants and disease-causing chemicals, which is one of the reasons why it’s so important to wash new clothes before wearing them. Even then, however, it may not make the clothing entirely safe.

What Kinds of Chemicals Are in Your Clothes?

Depending on where your new clothes were manufactured, they may contain multiple chemicals of concern. Among them are azo-aniline dyes, which may cause skin reactions ranging from mild to severe. If you’re sensitive, such dyes may leave your skin red, itchy and dry, especially where the fabric rubs on your skin, such as at your waist, neck, armpits and thighs. The irritants can be mostly washed out, but it might take multiple washings to do so.

Formaldehyde resins are also used in clothing to cut down on wrinkling and mildew. Not only is formaldehyde a known carcinogen, but the resins have been linked to eczema and may cause your skin to become flaky or erupt in a rash.3 Nonylphenol ethoxylate (NPE), meanwhile, is a toxic endocrine-disrupting surfactant used to manufacture clothing.

You certainly don’t want to be exposed to NPE if you can help it, but when consumers wash their clothes, NPEs are released into local water supplies where wastewater treatment plants are unable to remove them. When NPEs enter the environment, they break down into nonylphenol (NP), a toxic, endocrine-disrupting chemical that accumulates in sediments and builds up in fish and wildlife. In an interview with “clean-fashion pioneer” Marci Zaroff, Goop outlined some of the common chemicals likely to be found in your clothing:4

Glyphosate, the most-used agricultural chemical, is an herbicide used to grow cotton. It’s linked to cancer and found in cotton textiles.
Chlorine bleach, used for whitening and stain removal, may cause asthma and respiratory problems and is found in fiber/cotton processing, including in denim.
Formaldehyde, which is carcinogenic, is used to create wrinkle-free clothing as well as for shrinkage and as a carrier for dyes and prints. It’s common in cotton and other natural fabrics, including anything that’s been dyed or printed.
VOCs, solvents used for printing and other purposes, are common in finished textiles, especially those with prints. VOCs may off-gas from clothing, posing risks such as developmental and reproductive damage, liver problems and in some cases cancer, particularly to workers.
PFCs, used widely in uniforms and outdoor clothing to create stain-repellant and water-resistant fabrics, are carcinogenic, build up in your body and are toxic to the environment.
Brominated flame retardants, used to stop clothes from burning (although this is questionable), may be found in children’s clothing. These chemicals are neurotoxic endocrine disrupters that may also cause cancer.
Ammonia, used to provide shrink resistance, is found in natural fabrics. It may be absorbed into your lungs and cause burning in your eyes, nose or throat.
Heavy metals, including lead, cadmium, chromium and others, may be used for leather tanning and dyeing. They’re highly toxic and may be found in finished textiles, especially those that are dyed or printed.
Phthalates/Plastisol, used in printing inks and other processes, are known endocrine disrupters.

Clothing Chemicals Are Largely Unregulated

You may assume that if you’re purchasing clothing in the U.S., it’s safe and free from toxins, but this isn’t typically the case. Zaroff told Goop:5

“The magnitude and multitude of toxic chemicals in the fashion and textile industries is out of control. Even though some carcinogens are regulated (for example, formaldehyde, linked to cancer, is regulated in the U.S.), most brands are still manufactured overseas, where regulation is far behind. And only the most toxic chemicals are regulated in the U.S., which means there are a huge number that are unregulated but likely to cause allergic reactions.”

This is an issue both for the people who wear the clothes as well as the environment. Textile dyeing facilities, for example, tend to be located in developing countries where regulations are lax and labor costs are low. Untreated or minimally treated wastewater is typically discharged into nearby rivers, from where it spreads into seas and oceans, traveling across the globe with the currents.

An estimated 40 percent of textile chemicals are discharged by China.6 According to Ecowatch, Indonesia is also struggling with the chemical fallout of the garment industry. The Citarum River is now one of the most heavily polluted rivers in the world, thanks to the congregation of hundreds of textile factories along its shorelines. Clothing designer Eileen Fisher even called the clothing industry the “second largest polluter in the world … second only to oil.”7

Leading Clothing Companies Commit to Using Sustainable Cotton by 2025

Genetically engineered (GE) cotton is widely used in the clothing industry, but while it maintains a natural image, it’s among the dirtiest crops in the world because of heavy use of toxic pesticides. It also takes a heavy toll on local water supplies, as hundreds of liters of water may be necessary to produce enough cotton to make one T-shirt.8

Prince Charles is among those who has voiced his support for more sustainable cotton production, noting that cotton production is “all too often associated with the depletion of local water supplies and the widespread, and sometimes indiscriminate, use of harmful pesticides [that] can take a heavy toll on human health.”9

Fortunately, earlier this year 13 clothing and textile companies, including Levi Strauss & Co., Eileen Fisher, Nike, Woolworths Holdings and Sainsbury’s, signed the Sustainable Cotton Communiqué, which commits to using 100 percent sustainable cotton by 2025. Worldwide, more than 20 million tons of cotton are produced annually in more than 100 countries.10 The 13 companies that signed the sustainable cotton initiative account for 300,000 tons of cotton each year.11

Microfiber Pollution Is Another Major Problem

In a study commissioned by sustainable apparel maker Patagonia, it was found that a synthetic jacket (such as a fleece) may release up to 2.7 grams (0.09 ounces) of microfibers with each washing (that’s up to 250,000 microfibers). On average, such a garment releases 1.7 grams of microfibers, although older jackets released fibers at twice the rate.12 While wastewater treatment plants may filter out some of this debris, some (anywhere from 6,500 to 28,000) inevitably sneak through and end up in waterways.

A number of variables affect how much of the debris is released. Jackets washed in top-load washers shed five times more microfibersthan those washed in front-loaders, for instance, while in a comparison of acrylic, polyester and a polyester-cotton blend, acrylic was the worst, shedding microfibers up to four times faster than the polyester-cotton blend.13

Ironically, the practice of recycling plastic bottles into clothing items, which is done by Patagonia and other outdoor companies as a way to reduce waste, may ultimately end up being environmentally destructive.

It’s unknown what the environmental effects of microfiber pollution may be, but their irregular shape may make them harder for marine life to excrete than other microplastics (like microbeads). It could be that the longer the particles stay inside the fish, the more chemicals may leach into its body.

So the microfibers may be harming marine life via two mechanisms: physical blockage and chemical poisoning. One solution to the microfiber pollution problem would be to install filters in washing machines — similar to lint traps in dryers — that could catch the fibers before they’re released with the wastewater.

However, according to the Mermaids (Mitigation of Microplastics Impact Caused by Textile Washing Processes) project, whose goal is to cut microfiber shedding during washing by 70 percent, the apparel industry has been slow to respond in taking steps to stop microfiber pollution.14 A Mermaids report suggested special coatings may help to stop the loss of microfibers during washing, and recommended laundry detergents be reformulated to minimize fiber shedding.

Partnering With Care What You Wear

The “Care What You Wear” campaign’s purpose is to educate consumers about why and how to buy clothing that supports organic and regenerative farming, responsible production and fair labor practices — and to “expose today’s fast-fashion industry, which perpetuates ethically and environmentally unsound practices with its ‘buy more, cheaper clothes’ message.” As for the “why,” consider these Care What You Wear facts:15

  • It takes 5,000 gallons of water to manufacture one pair of jeans
  • Cotton crops use 24 percent of all insecticides and 11 percent of all pesticides globally
  • 25 percent of the chemicals produced in the world are used in textiles

Further, as noted by the campaign:

“Every time you buy a new article of clothing your purchase has a ripple effect on the environment. The global apparel industry is the second-largest industrial polluter.

From the growing of GMO cotton, to the production of wool and synthetic fibers, to the dyes used on those fibers, to the factories where clothes are assembled — each step of the way, soil is degraded, water is polluted, laborers are exploited. Can consumers help drive the fashion industry away from this toxic model, toward a more ethical, regenerative model? Yes, if we buy wisely.”16

Looking for clothing made from organic cotton is an excellent start to finding safe, nontoxic clothing (for you and the environment). Natural fiber clothing may also minimize the shedding of microfibers common to synthetic fibers.

You can also look for brands that have committed to chemical reduction (Target plans to remove PFCs and flame retardants from their products by 2022, for instance17) along with the Cradle to Cradle, GOTS-certified textiles or OEKO-TEX Standard 100 label, which is indicative that it has been tested by an independent laboratory and found to be free of harmful levels of more than 100 substances, including:

Ultimately, the best choice for the environment is to purchase natural, organic, high-quality clothing and less clothing overall. You can also opt for vintage clothing or that found in thrift stores, as Zaroff explained:18

“In many ways, buying vintage is the best way to attack the problem of waste in fashion — the most sustainable piece is one that doesn’t have to be made in the first place. Additionally, most older clothes are much less toxic than what’s being produced today — chemical use in textile manufacturing wasn’t as ubiquitous until the last 50 years or so.

That said, germs and bacteria (including mold) can collect on old clothing, so stick to vintage that’s well-preserved, and clean it before you wear it, like everything else.”

Wormwood: The Parasite-Killing, Cancer-Fighting Super Herb

What do Edgar Degas, Vincent van Gogh and Pablo Picasso all have in common aside from their incredible painting abilities? These three artists all shared a love of absinthe, a botanical spirit made from wormwood, anise and fennel. Absinthe is currently illegal in the U.S. as well as many other countries, but it’s still available in Europe. You may have heard of wormwood because of its inclusion in this famous European beverage, but did you know that it also holds an ability to aid many common and serious health concerns?

It’s true. Wormwood is actually used to eliminate intestinal worms, especially roundworms and pinworms. This is exactly why I recommended it as part of my parasite cleanse. Just how powerful is wormwood? Well, it’s owed thanks and praise for being the source of the key ingredient for the herbal drug artemisinin, which is the most powerful antimalarial on the market. (1)

And it doesn’t stop there. Scientific research also shows that wormwood can even kills cancer cells. (2) It can also be used to treat anorexia, insomnia, anemia, a lack of appetite, flatulence, stomach aches, jaundice and indigestion. (3)

Wormwood herb is used in alcoholic beverages while the wormwood star is mentioned in the bible. Truly an intriguing plant to say the least, but can this herb really kill parasites and cancer? Studies say yes, and the positive medicinal effects keep on coming.

Of course, there is good reason for caution with wormwood products (like absinthe) as well, but once you learn about thujone, you’ll see why not all wormwood products are created equally. What to watch out for and what to know — read on to get your full dose of wormwood education.


Wormwood Benefits

1. Beats Malaria

Malaria is a serious disease caused by a parasite that is transmitted by the bite of infected mosquitoes and invades human red blood cells. Artemisinin is an extract isolated from the plant Artemisia annua, or sweet wormwood. Artemisinin is an herbal drug that’s the most powerful antimalarial on the market. It’s known for quickly reducing the number of parasites in the blood of patients with malaria. The World Health Organization recommends artemisinin-based combination therapies as first-line treatment for uncomplicated P. falciparum malaria. (4)

Recent experiments have shown that artemisinin is effective against the malaria parasite because it reacts with the high levels of iron in the parasite to produce free radicals. The free radicals then destroy the cell walls of the malaria parasite.

2. Kills Cancer Cells

According to recent studies, artemisinin can kill iron-enriched breast cancer cells similar to the way it kills malaria-causing parasites, making it a potential natural cancer treatment option for women with breast cancer. Cancer cells can also be rich in iron since they commonly soak it up to facilitate cell division. Researchers in a 2012 study tested samples of breast cancer cells and normal breast cells that had first been treated to maximize their iron content. The cells were then treated with a water-soluble form of artemisinin, an extract of wormwood.

Results were quite impressive. The normal cells showed little change, but within 16 hours, almost all of the cancer cells were dead and only a few normal cells were killed. Bioengineer Henry Lai believes that because a breast cancer cell contains five to 15 more receptors than normal, it absorbs iron more readily and hence is more susceptible to artemisinin’s attack. (5)

3. Gets Rid of Parasites

Wormwood is used to eliminate intestinal worms, especially pinworms and roundworms. Pinworms are the most common worm infection in the U.S. with pinworm eggs spread directly from person to person. Roundworms, or nematodes, are parasites that also infect human intestines. Pinworms can cause extreme itching in the anal region while roundworms can cause cough, shortness of breath, abdominal pain, nausea and diarrhea, blood in the stool, weight loss, and presence of the worm in vomit or stool.

Parasites are never a good thing, but thankfully they’re treatable with natural remedies. Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium), black walnut (Juglans nigra), and clove (Syzygium aromaticum) are commonly used together to kill off a parasitic infection. It’s said that when these three are taken at the same time, together they’re able to break the parasite’s life cycle. (6)

Wormwood benefits - Dr. Axe

4. Treats Crohn’s Disease

In Germany, a double-blind study examined the effectiveness of an herbal blend containing wormwood at a dose of 500 milligrams three times per day versus a placebo over 10 weeks in 40 patients suffering from Crohn’s disease who were already on a steady daily dose of steroids. This initial stable dose of steroids was maintained until week 2, after that a defined tapering schedule was started so that by the beginning of week 10 all the patients were steroid-free.

Researchers found that there was a steady improvement in Crohn’s disease symptomsin 18 patients (90 percent) who received wormwood in spite of the decrease of steroids. After eight weeks of treatment with wormwood, there was almost complete remission of symptoms in 13 (65 percent) patients in this group as compared to none in the placebo group. This remission lasted until the end of the observation period, which was 20 weeks (12 weeks later), and the addition of steroids was not necessary.

The results were truly impressive and suggestive of wormwood being able to decrease or eliminate the need for steroids in Crohn’s disease patients. Additionally, results indicate that wormwood has positive effects on mood and quality of life, which is not achieved by other standard Crohn’s disease medications. (7)

5. Contains Antimicrobial and Antifungal Abilities

In vitro studies have shown that the essential oils of wormwood have antimicrobial activity. Research published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry showed that wormwood oil showed a broad spectrum of antimicrobial activity against several bacterial strains, including E. coli and salmonella. (8) Every year, salmonella is estimated to cause 1 million food-borne illnesses in the U.S. alone, with 19,000 hospitalizations and 380 deaths. E. coli is another concerning type of bacteria that can cause a range of issues from diarrhea to urinary tract infections to pneumonia and other illnesses.

Not only can wormwood kill bacteria, but it’s also been shown to kill fungi. Essential oil distilled from the aerial parts of Artemisia absinthium inhibited the growth of a very broad spectrum of tested fungi (11 to be exact). The wormwood essential oil also showed antioxidant properties during testing. (9)

Another study published in Planta Medica showed that A. absinthium oil inhibited the growth of Candida albicans. (10) This is the the most common type of yeast infection found in the mouth, intestinal tract and vagina, and it may affect skin and other mucous membranes. Candida albicans can cause all kinds of common yet highly unwanted candida symptoms.

6. Treats SIBO

Many people turn to natural and alternative treatments when it comes to problems with their gastrointestinal health, and for good reason. Studies show that herbal remedies like wormwood are as good or even better at fighting small intestinal bacterial overgrowth or SIBO symptoms.

Today’s typical treatment of SIBO is limited to oral antibiotics with varying rates of effectiveness. A 2014 study had 104 patients who tested positive for newly diagnosed SIBO take either a high dose of rifaximin or an herbal therapy daily for four weeks. The herbal products were specifically chosen because they contained antimicrobial herbs like wormwood, oregano oilthyme and berberine extracts, which have been shown to provide broad-spectrum coverage against the types of bacteria most commonly involved in SIBO.

Of the patients who received herbal therapy, 46 percent showed no evidence of SIBO on follow-up tests compared to 34 percent of rifaximin users. Adverse effects reported among those taking rifaximin included anaphylaxis, hives, diarrhea and C. difficile colitis, while only one case of diarrhea and no other side effects were reported in the herbal therapy group.

The study concluded that herbal therapies are at least as effective as rifaximin for eradication of SIBO. Additionally, the herbal therapy with wormwood appears to be just as effective as triple antibiotic therapy for individuals who don’t respond to rifaximin. (11)


Wormwood Plant Origin and Chemical Components

What is wormwood exactly? Artemisia absinthium is an odorous, perennial that belongs to the Asteraceae or Compositae family, more commonly known as the daisy family. This artemisia plant releases an aromatic odor and has a spicy, bitter taste. Many species of the artemisia family tend to have medicinal properties. It’s related to Artemisia vulgaris,or mugwort, another medicinal herb.

The wormwood plant is native to Europe and parts of Africa and Asia. Today, it also grows wild in the U.S., most commonly along roads or paths. Also called shrub wormwood, Artemisia absinthium is a shrubby plant that typically grows to be one to three feet tall. It has gray-green or white stems covered by fine hairs and yellowish-green leaves that are hairy and silky. The leaves of the plant have glands that contain resinous particles where the natural insecticide is stored.

Sweet wormwood (Artemisia annua), also known as sweet annie, sweet sagewort, annual mugwort or annual wormwood, is a common type of wormwood native to temperate Asia but naturalized in parts of North America.

Wormwood can be used either fresh or dried. All the aerial portions (stem, leaves and flowers) of the plant have medicinal uses. The essential oil is extracted from the leaves and flowering tops by steam distillation. One study of the essential oil of Artemisia absinthium found that it contains at least 28 components representing 93.3 percent of the oil. The main components are β- pinene (23.8 percent) and β- thujone (18.6 percent). (12)

Thujone is the potentially poisonous chemical found in wormwood. Distilling the herb in alcohol increases the thujone concentration, which is what makes absinthe such a debatable liquor of choice.

Wormwood’s biologically active compounds include:

  • acetylenes (trans-dehydromatricaria ester, C13 and C14 trans-spiroketalenol ethers, and others)
  • ascorbic acid (vitamin C)
  • azulenes (chamazulene, dihydrochamazulenes, bisabolene, camphene, cadinene, sabinene, trans-sabinylacetate, phellandrene, pinene and others)
  • carotenoids
  • flavonoids (quercitin 3-glucoside, quercitin 3-rhamnoglucoside, spinacetin 3-glucoside, spinacetin 3-rhamnoglucoside, and others)
  • lignins (diayangambin and epiyangambin)
  • phenolic acids (p-hydroxyphenylacetic, p-coumaric, chlorogenic, protocatechuic, vanillic, syringic and others)
  • tannins
  • thujone and isothujone
  • sesquiterpene lactones (absinthin, artabsin, anabsinthin, artemetin, artemisinin, arabsin, artabin, artabsinolides, artemolin, matricin, isoabsinthin and others)

Wormwood History and Interesting Facts

The name wormwood is derived from ancient use of the plant and its extracts as an intestinal anthelmintic, antiparasitic drug that expels parasitic worms and other internal parasites from the body.

In ancient Egyptian times, it was a commonly used medicinal plant, specifically for anal pain, and as an additive to wine. Later on it was used in European folk medicine to induce labor. The plant, when steeped into a strong tea, has been used traditionally in Europe as well as a bitter stomach stabilizer to stave off indigestion.

A favorite alcoholic beverage in 19th century France, absinthe was said to be addictive and associated with a collection of serious side effects known as absinthism or irreversible damage to the central nervous system.

Absinthe was made popular by some very well-known writers and artists, such as Ernest Hemingway, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Édouard Manet, Edgar Degas, Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso and Oscar Wilde. The manic depressive painter Vincent van Gogh was addicted to absinthe, and some say his continual drinking of it led to many of his paintings having a green or yellowish tint (due to the thujuone’s hallucinatory effects) — and that the wormwood actually enhanced his epilepsy.

Absinthe is an anise-flavored spirit derived from several botanicals. Absinthe ingredients include the flowers and leaves of wormwood, anise and fennel. It’s illegal in the U.S. as well as many other countries. However, it’s not banned in some European Union countries as long as the thujone content is less than 35 milligrams per kilogram.

Thujone is the potentially poisonous chemical found in wormwood. Distilling wormwood in alcohol increases the thujone concentration. Thujone-free wormwood extract is currently used as a flavoring in alcoholic beverages like vermouth.

Wormwood, or its derivative chemical components, have famously been mentioned in many a novel, play and in other art forms, from Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” to John Locke essays to “Romeo and Juliet.”

There are several Bible references to this herb as well. The word “wormwood” appears several times in the Old Testament, translated from the Hebrew term la’anah (which means “curse” in Arabic and Hebrew). It’s also spoken of in the New Testament in the Book of Revelation: “The third angel sounded his trumpet, and a great star, blazing like a torch, fell from the sky on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water — the name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters turned bitter, and many people died from the waters that had become bitter.” (Rev 8:10–11)

 

Wormwood uses - Dr. Axe

 


How to Use Wormwood + Recipes

Wormwood is commercially available at health stores and online as an essential oil, as well as in capsule, tablet, tincture and liquid extract forms. It can also be used in fresh or dry form to make an infusion or tea.

It’s best used in dried form, which contains little, if any, thujone. To make a wormwood infusion or tea, steep a half teaspoon to one teaspoon of dried or fresh wormwood in one cup of boiling water for five to 15 minutes. It’s important that you use no more than one teaspoon of the leaves as they’re very strong and bitter. Longer steep time will make for a stronger tea, but also a more bitter tea. Wormwood should be taken unsweetened to have the best effect, but you can counter the bitterness by adding dried peppermint or anise.

Wormwood tea can be especially helpful for digestion, specifically before heavy meals that may likely cause gas and bloated stomach. Preparations are typically sipped because the strong bitter taste is an important component of its therapeutic effect on stomach ailments. It can also be taken as an occasional energy tonic.

For intestinal concerns like worms or parasites, it’s best to take powdered wormwood in pill form.

You can also use wormwood and other botanicals in a homemade bitters recipe. Bitters make an excellent digestive aid.

Wormwood should only be taken under the supervision of a professional. It should always be taken in small doses as directed and for no longer than four weeks at a time.


Wormwood Potential Side Effects, Allergies and Interactions

Wormwood herb is not meant for long-term use. Make sure you don’t exceed recommended doses because excessive consumption could be highly toxic. I recommend it in dried form, which contains little, if any, of the volatile oil thujone.

The FDA lists wormwood unsafe for internal use due to the toxicity of thujone oil. However, it’s considered to be safe when taken by mouth in the amounts commonly found in food and beverages, including bitters and vermouth, as long as these products are thujone-free. Using wormwood for longer than four weeks or at higher than recommended doses may lead to nausea, vomiting , restlessness, insomnia, vertigo, tremors and seizures.

Wormwood products that contain thujone, like absinthe, can be unsafe when taken by mouth. Absinthe effects/thujone effects can include restlessness, difficulty sleeping, nightmares, seizures, dizziness, tremors, muscle breakdown, kidney failure, vomiting, stomach cramps, urine retention, thirst, numbness of arms and legs, paralysis, and death.

Don’t take this herb in any form if you’re pregnant or breast-feeding. There have been documented abortifacient and emmenagogue effects of wormwood.

If you’re allergic to ragweed and other plants in the Asteraceae/Compositae family, then wormwood may cause an allergic reaction.

If you have porphyria (a group of disorders that result from a buildup of natural chemicals that produce porphyrin in your body), then you should know that the thujone present in wormwood oil might increase your body’s production of chemicals called porphyrins, which could make your porphyria worse.

If you have epilepsy or any other seizure disorder, speak with your doctor before using this herb. The thujone in wormwood cause cause seizures, especially in people who have a tendency toward seizures.

Wormwood is not recommended for people with kidney disorders. The oil might cause kidney failure. If you have kidney concerns, don’t take this herb before talking with your doctor.

I would not advise using the essential oil in aromatherapy since it contains an extremely high amount of thujone, which is a convulsant and neurotoxin.

Be cautious and speak with your doctor before combining wormwood with any anticonvulsant, which is a medication used to prevent seizures. Since these medications and wormwood can both affect brain chemicals, this herb may decrease the effectiveness of anticonvulsants.


Final Thoughts on Wormwood

  • Absinthe is a botanical spirit made from wormwood, anise and fennel, but that’s not all wormwood is good for. It’s used to eliminate intestinal worms, especially roundworms and pinworms, and it’s the source of of the key ingredient for the herbal drug artemisinin, which is the most powerful antimalarial on the market.
  • It’s also been shown to kill cancer cells and treat anorexia, insomnia, anemia, a lack of appetite, flatulence, stomach aches, jaundice and indigestion.
  • Specifically, this herb has been proven to beat malaria, kill breast cancer cells, get rid of parasites, treat Crohn’s disease, contain antimicrobial and antifungal abilities, and treat SIBO.
  • Wormwood is commercially available at health stores and online as an essential oil, as well as in capsule, tablet, tincture and liquid extract forms. It can also be used in fresh or dry form to make an infusion or tea.
  • Wormwood should only be taken under the supervision of a professional. It should always be taken in small doses as directed and for no longer than four weeks at a time.

Yoga May Help in Improving Your Mental Health

Posted by Dr. Mercola – Osteopathic Physician

Yoga — a form of moving meditation that demands focused attention on your body — has many physical, mental, emotional and even spiritual benefits that can be helpful for those struggling with pain- and/or stress-related health problems. As you learn new ways of moving and responding to your body, your mind and emotions tend to shift and change as well.

In a sense, you not only become more physically flexible, but your mental outlook and approach to life may also gain newfound flexibility.

Yoga appears to be particularly beneficial when it comes to mental health, with studies showing it helps improve psychiatric disorders such as depression, anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and schizophrenia.Some of these studies suggest yoga can actually have an effect similar to that of antidepressants and psychotherapy.

In studies with teenage participants, yoga has been found to strengthen emotional resilience and ability to manage anger. In the elderly, it’s been shown to stave off cognitive decline to a greater degree than aerobic exercise. Most recently, gentle yoga practice has been identified as a valuable aid in healing childhood trauma, known to be a source of not only poor mental health but also a contributor to chronic health problems such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

Trauma-Sensitive Yoga Benefits Female Juvenile Delinquents.

The report in question, published by the Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality, reviews over 40 studies assessing the mental health benefits of yoga, with a focus on female juvenile delinquents, whose trauma is disproportionately based on violence within relationships and sexual violations.

Previous investigations have found girls in the juvenile justice system are twice as likely to report past physical abuse than boys (42 percent versus 22 percent), with 35 percent of girls in the juvenile justice system having experienced sexual abuse, compared to 8 percent of boys.

Not surprisingly, girls are at increased risk of psychological problems; 80 percent have received at least one psychiatric diagnosis compared to 67 percent of males. As reported by NPR:

The … report argues that, since the effects of trauma can be physical, ‘body-mind’ interventions, like yoga, may be able to uniquely address them. Regulated breathing, for example, calms the parasympathetic nervous system. Practicing staying in the moment counteracts some of the dissociative effects of trauma.

And the physical activity of yoga, of course, can directly improve health. Yoga that is specifically designed for victims of trauma has modifications when compared with traditional yoga teaching.

For example, says Missy Hart, ‘They always ask you if you want to be touched,’ for an adjustment in a pose. ‘I see now that really helped me. Other girls who have experienced sexual abuse, sexual trauma or are in there for prostitution at the age of 13, 14, they had their body image all mixed up.

How Yoga May Benefit Victims of Trauma

Co-author Rebecca Epstein commented on the report’s findings, saying:

“What we’re learning is that fights go down on wards after adolescents participate [in yoga]. Girls are requesting medicine less often. They have fewer physical complaints.”

Other noted benefits include improved:

  • Emotional awareness and regulation (through the restoration of neurological pathways in the brain’s emotional awareness processing center)
  • Coping skills
  • Body awareness, “body connectedness” and self-empowerment, in part by rebuilding neural networks in the insula and prefrontal cortex
  • Relationship and parenting skills
  • Physical and psychological health outcomes. By improving stress-related imbalances in your nervous system, yoga can help relieve a range of symptoms found in common mental health disorders. Researchers also believe yoga can be helpful for conditions like epilepsy, chronic pain, depression, anxiety and PTSD by increasing brain chemicals like gamma amino-butyric acid (GABA)

The report concluded that trauma-informed yoga is a “cost-effective and sustainable” way to address and heal the physical and psychological trauma haunting so many young girls in the juvenile justice system.

To support that end, the authors recommend interpreting “existing health laws to allow yoga and mindfulness programs to be introduced into juvenile justice settings,” expanding access to already existing yoga programs and improving on such programs by including “sensitivity to race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender identity in their design,” and lastly, increasing funding and research of yoga and mindfulness-based trauma programs.

Previous research certainly supports the use of yoga in prison settings, showing it helps reduce anxiety and aggression among inmates. After doing yoga once a week for 10 weeks, participants in one such study reported feeling less stressed, and also scored better on tests of executive control, indicating a higher degree of thoughtfulness and attention to their surroundings.

Other Mind-Body Benefits of Yoga

Other studies have demonstrated that regular yoga practice can impart a number of physical, mental and emotional benefits, including the following:

  • Improved immune function
  • Improved sleep
  • Reduced risk for migraines
  • Lowered risk of hypertension and heart disease and improvements in atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat)
  • Lowered cortisol (stress hormone) level by down regulating hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and calming sympathetic nervous system
  • Improved sexual performance and satisfaction in both sexes
  • Reduced food cravings and weight loss. In one study, overweight yoga participants lost an average of 5 pounds, whereas the non-yoga group gained 13 pounds.
  • This held true even when accounting for differences in diet.
  • One possible reason for this is yoga’s ability to influence leptin, a hormone that plays a key role in regulating energy intake and energy expenditure
  • Improved mood. A 2011 review of published clinical studies on yoga concluded yoga movements stimulate skin pressure receptors that boost activity in your brain and vagus nerve, both of which influence the production and release of various hormones and neurotransmitters, including serotonin, thought to play a role in mood regulation, appetite control and sleep

One explanation for yoga’s wide-ranging effects is that it actually alters genetic expression, and it does this through its beneficial effects on your mind! In fact, the relaxation response triggered by meditative practices has been shown to affect at least 2,209 genes. As previously reported by the Institute of Science in Society:

“Yogic meditative practices were shown to have positive effects on the heart rate, blood pressure and low density lipoprotein cholesterol, and decrease the levels of salivary cortisol, the stress hormone.

These findings are consistent with a down regulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and the sympathetic nervous system, both of which are known to be overactivated by the stressful western lifestyle. Now, a series of new studies on gene expression profiles in immune cells circulating in the blood are showing that yogic/meditative practices have profound effects at the molecular level.”

Yoga Intervention for Depression

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, nearly 44 million Americans experience some form of mental illness in any given year, and depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the U.S. If not effectively treated, depression may become chronic.

Considering the widespread incidence of depression and other stress-related disorders, and the fact that 40 percent of individuals with major depressive disorder treated with antidepressants fail to achieve remission, the rising popularity and acceptance of yoga may be a blessing.

In a recent study assessing the effect of Iyengar yoga classes on participants diagnosed with major depressive disorder found the practice reduced symptoms by at least 50 percent. Lyengar is a specific form of yoga that focuses on detail and precise alignment of posture combined with deep breathing.

As noted by study author Dr. Chris Streeter, associate professor of psychiatry and neurology at Boston University School of Medicine, yoga has the clear advantage of avoiding side effects from drug treatments. He commented:

“While most pharmacologic treatments for depression target monoamine systems, such as serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, this intervention targets the parasympathetic and gamma aminobutyric acid system and provides a new avenue for treatment.”

Prior studies using other forms of yoga for treatment of depression have also recorded positive results. As noted by Dr. Alan Manevitz, a clinical psychiatrist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City:

“The mechanism of action is similar to other exercise techniques that activate the release of ‘feel good’ brain chemicals … [and may] reduce immune system chemicals that can worsen depression. It has been demonstrated that ‘mindful’ movement — conscious awareness — has a much more beneficial impact on the central nervous system.”

The findings from the current study corroborate findings from a 2016 study from the University of Pennsylvania, in which researchers found participants who suffered from depression, and had an inadequate response to antidepressant medication, found significant relief through yoga.

Improved Mood and Reduced Anxiety Are Core Benefits of Yoga

Indeed, aside from building core strength and flexibility, some of the greatest scientifically-proven benefits of yoga are improved mood and decreased stress and anxiety. Research has linked these improvements to changes in GABA, an amino acid that acts as a neurotransmitter in your central nervous system. GABA is responsible for blocking nerve impulses, telling the adjoining nerve cells not to “fire” or send an impulse.

Low levels of GABA can result in nerve cells firing frequently and easily, thereby triggering or contributing to anxiety disorders and conditions such as headaches, cognitive impairments and seizure disorders. Studies have identified yoga as a technique that naturally increases your thalamic GABA levels. Improvements in stress response and a possible role in the treatment of PTSD are also attributed through scientific study to the use of yoga poses and breathing.

Consider Outdoor Yoga for Additional Benefits

Have you noticed how much better you feel when you walk barefoot on the ground, whether it’s dirt or sand or grass? For most of our evolutionary history, humans have had continuous contact with the earth, but this is certainly not the case today. We are separated from it by a barrier of asphalt, wood, rugs, plastics and shoes.

The reason it feels so good walking barefoot is because living in direct contact with the earth grounds your body, producing beneficial electrophysiological changes that help protect you from potentially disruptive electromagnetic fields (EMFs). Some of the harmful EMFs closest to our bodies are those generated by the electronic devices that have practically become a modern appendage, such as your smartphone and iPad.

Your immune system functions optimally when your body has an adequate supply of electrons, which are easily and naturally obtained by barefoot/bare skin contact with the Earth. Research indicates Earth’s electrons are the ultimate antioxidants, acting as powerful anti-inflammatories.

So, if you want to significantly bump up your yoga benefits, take your poses outside, to ground yourself at the same time. Make sure your feet or hands are in direct contact with the Earth, rather than separated from it by a rubber mat. Grass or even sand make suitable yoga substrates on which to take your poses.

Yoga Also Helps Prevent Osteoporosis

A regular yoga routine may also help ward off osteoporosis, a common problem among aging women in particular. In one decade long study, 741 volunteers were enrolled to perform 12 yoga poses every day (fully compliant), or at least every other day (moderately compliant).

The average age of the participants was 68 at the outset of the study, and 83 percent of them had been diagnosed with either osteopenia or osteoporosis. The 12-pose regimen, each of which was held for 30 seconds (for a total workout of 12 minutes), included the following:

  • Tree pose
  • Triangle
  • Warrior II
  • Side angle
  • Twisted triangle
  • Locust
  • Bridge
  • Supine hand-to-foot I
  • Supine hand-to-foot II
  • Bent-knee twist
  • Straight-legged twist
  • Corpse pose

Participants’ bone density was measured at the outset and at the end of the study. Blood and urine samples, as well as spine and hip X-rays were also taken. Compliance was recorded via an online program. The results, published in the April/June 2016 issue of Geriatric Rehabilitation, were promising.

Those who were either moderately or fully compliant with the exercises had indeed improved their spine and femur bone densities. Bone density in the hip was also somewhat improved, although the difference was not statistically significant. Additional bone quality testing performed on 18 of the participants revealed they also had “better internal support of their bones, which is not measured by a bone density scan but is important to resisting fractures.”

You can find a slideshow demonstration of several of these poses here. A copy of the full yoga for osteoporosis program with photo demonstrations and safety instructions for each pose is available on sciatica.org’s website. The book, “Yoga for Osteoporosis,” contains an even more comprehensive guide to his program.

Is Yoga for You?

Considering the many physical and psychological benefits of yoga, it’s certainly worth considering, and since there are many forms of yoga to choose from, you’re virtually guaranteed to find one that’s suitable for your particular situation. The emergence of trauma-sensitive yoga is a testament to this, and may offer a way forward for many victims of physical and/or psychological abuse.

You can find a quick outline of 14 different styles of yoga on MindBodyGreen.com. Additional variations can be explored on the Yoga Journal’s website, including restorative yoga, prenatal yoga and hybrid variations.

By Dr. Mercola

Link: http://fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2017/06/16/yoga-for-mental-health.aspx?utm_source=dnl&utm_medium=email&utm_content=art1&utm_campaign=20170616Z2&et_cid=DM149932&et_rid=2045550570