Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Alpha Lipoic Acid: Top 10 Benefits & Possible Side Effects

Alpha lipoic acid can be found in foods like broccoli.

Antioxidants are nutrients that counteract the natural deterioration of cells. Raw, organic fruits and vegetables provide a wide array of antioxidants. Antioxidants are also present in herbs like astragalus root and Tibetan Rhodiola. In recent years, antioxidant supplements like CoQ10 and alpha lipoic acid (ALA) have also gotten significant attention. In the case of ALA, it’s no surprise, as ALA is an important nutrient that offers many positive health benefits. It promotes healthy aging, organ function, cardiovascular health, and brain and nervous system health. ALA also strengthens your body’s network of antioxidants stronger by boosting cellular production of other antioxidants and antioxidant enzymes. Here, we’ll take an in-depth look at alpha lipoic acid and all that it has to offer.

Top 10 Benefits of Alpha Lipoic Acid

  1. Encourages normal thyroid hormone levels
  2. Supports healthy nerves
  3. Promotes normal heart health
  4. Protects muscles from exercise-related stress
  5. Supports the liver
  6. Promotes a strong brain and sharp memory
  7. Encourages healthy skin
  8. Promotes graceful aging
  9. Maintains healthy blood glucose levels
  10. Supports a healthy body weight

What Is Alpha Lipoic Acid?

Alpha lipoic acid, abbreviated ALA and also called thioctic acid or just lipoic acid, is an omega-3 fatty acid. It is produced in small amounts in the mitochondria, the cell’s energy powerhouses. ALA is a coenzyme necessary for the Krebs cycle, which is the sequence of chemical reactions by which a cell produces energy.

ALA occurs in two forms that are mirror images of each other, called R- and S-lipoic acid. Only R-LA is synthesized naturally in the body and occurs in food. It can occur in a form called Na R Lipoic acid; the Na refers to the sodium (Na) salt that stabilizes the R-lipoic acid. The sodium keeps each molecule separate and more readily available for the body.

Where Do You Get Alpha Lipoic Acid?

There are several ways you can obtain alpha lipoic acid. First and foremost, the cells in your body naturally produce it. Many foods contain alpha lipoic acid, and it’s also available as a nutritional supplement. Additionally, alpha lipoic acid is sometimes added to anti-aging skin care creams and, in some situations, is administered by injection.

Your Body

Cells produce a small amount of alpha lipoic acid. However, the amount of ALA your body produces declines as you age or when your immune system is compromised. Numerous scientific studies have found that supplementation provides substantial therapeutic benefits, suggesting that supplemental ALA can complement a healthy lifestyle.[1]

Foods That Contain Alpha Lipoic Acid

Alpha lipoic acid is naturally present in many foods. Animal tissue, especially organ meats like the liver, kidneys, and heart, contains the largest amounts of this nutrient. To a lesser degree, alpha lipoic acid is found in vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, tomatoes, flaxseed oil, chia seeds and walnuts.[2, 3]

Nutritional & Therapeutic Supplements

If your body doesn’t produce enough ALA or you don’t get enough in your diet, which is especially true in Western culture where people consume processed foods and are exposed to environmental toxins, a nutritional supplement that contains ALA can help.. Supplemental servings of ALA typically range from 50 to 600 mg, which is up to 1000 times more than naturally occurs in food.[1, 2, 3] Most supplements contain 50-50 combinations of the mirror image isomers, while supplements containing pure R-LA are more expensive. Studies show that the body absorbs ALA best on an empty stomach.

What Are the Top Benefits of Alpha Lipoic Acid?

“Alpha lipoic acid is a strong antioxidant, and the bulk of its benefits arise from that fact.”

Alpha lipoic acid is a strong antioxidant, and the bulk of its benefits arise from that fact. Being uniquely fat and water-soluble permits this antioxidant fatty acid to work in a broader range of body tissues than other antioxidants, like fat-soluble vitamin E or water-soluble vitamin C.[4, 5]. ALA can also bind with toxic metal ions such as mercury, copper, iron, and others so they can be expelled from the body.[6]

ALA plays a role in energy metabolism in every cell’s mitochondria.[4] Research has shown that ALA’s antioxidant properties support liver health, cardiovascular health, the nervous system, brain, skin, and muscle recovery following intense exercise.[2, 4] Additionally, ALA supports a healthy weight and normal blood sugar levels.[3, 4, 7, 8]

ALA Is a Powerful Antioxidant

Most of ALA’s therapeutic properties arise from its status as an antioxidant. Antioxidants are molecules that neutralize free radicals, which are unstable molecules that produce oxidative stress and damage cells.[1] During oxidation, O2 splits into two oxygen atoms, each of which has a single electron. Because electrons prefer to occur in pairs, these “free radicals” — the single electrons — look for and scavenge other electrons so they can pair up, thus damaging cells in the process. Not only does alpha lipoic acid defend against free radicals, it also helps boost the efficacy of other antioxidants like vitamin C and vitamin E.[1, 4, 5]

Encourages Normal Thyroid Hormone Levels

At the front of your throat, sitting like a little bowtie above your collarbone, the thyroid gland is a crucial part of the endocrine system. One of its most important functions is to produce the hormones that regulate maturation, growth, and metabolism. When thyroid health is compromised, hormones are thrown out of balance. A 2016 study found that alpha lipoic acid, when taken with quercetin and resveratrol, helped promote normal thyroid hormone levels and temper hormone-induced weight gain.[8]

Supports Healthy Nerves

The nervous system has two primary components: the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system. The central nervous system includes your spinal cord and your brain. The peripheral nervous system, which is the larger of the two, consists of the nerve cells outside of your brain and spinal cord.

When the peripheral nerves are unhealthy, they may tingle and cause numbness, especially in the legs and feet. This can impair a person’s balance and affect their ability to grab and hold objects. Over time, this can progress and become severe and debilitating.[9] Research suggests that alpha lipoic acid’s oxidative stress-relieving qualities may support normal nervous system health, particularly in the peripheral nervous system.[10]

Promotes Normal Cardiovascular Function

Blood vessels are lined with a single layer of cells called the endothelium. When healthy, endothelial cells promote the relaxation of your blood vessels. The endothelial lining can become compromised due to illnesses, leading to poor vascular health. As we age, oxidative stress negatively affects cardiovascular health. Unchecked, oxidative stress will damage endothelial tissue in arteries and affect blood flow, including to the heart. While the degradation of heart function can lead to serious health issues, antioxidants help promote a healthy heart and cardiovascular system.[11, 12, 13]

One study revealed that when ALA was introduced to previously damaged blood vessel cells in vitro (in Petri dishes), it promoted normal function of the cells and supported the cell’s antioxidant defenses.[12] In another study, IV-administered alpha lipoic acid helped promote normal circulation.[13] Overall, ALA has a cardioprotective effect which may be helpful to people seeking to support their heart.[14]

Protects Muscles From Exercise-Related Stress

Exercise is one of the best ways to achieve weight loss, healthy blood circulation, and higher energy levels. However, exhaustive, high-intensity exercise routines can accelerate oxidative damage that affects muscle tissue and muscle cells.[15] Oxidative stress contributes to the soreness you feel after strenuous exercise. Nutrients with antioxidant abilities, such as alpha lipoic acid, may help lessen this effect. Alpha lipoic acid supplements support internal antioxidant defenses and reduce lipid peroxidation, a process that results in cell damage.[16] One study even revealed that the supplemental use of ALA protected liver, heart, and muscle tissue.

Supports Proper Liver Function

When evaluated for its effects on liver health, studies found that ALA supported proper liver function.[17, 18] Other studies found alpha lipoic acid supplementation promoted a healthier liver after exposure to various toxins.[6]

Promotes a Strong Brain and Sharp Memory

As you get older, your body produces less alpha lipoic acid, which means you have less protection from free radicals than when you’re young. Some research shows that people living in heavily polluted cities experience cognitive damage due to higher-than-normal levels of environmental toxins.[19]

Some studies show that the strong antioxidant properties of alpha lipoic acid help to sharpen the memory, promote mental clarity, and overall alertness.[20]

Promotes Healthy Skin

Genetics, stress, an imbalanced microbiome, and even a diet high in sugar or sodium can cause occasional acne and other skin conditions to appear at any age. While practicing a healthy skin care regimen, following an all-natural diet, and strengthening your gut flora[21] by taking a probiotic supplement is important, people who experience dry, irritated, itchy, or cracked skin should know that alpha lipoic acid helps promote healthy-looking skin.[22, 23]

Promotes Graceful Aging

As you age, oxidative stress takes a toll on cells and causes what we describe as “aging.” Studies have investigated the antioxidant properties of alpha lipoic acid how they might help balance the effects of aging. Some show that alpha lipoic acid reduces oxidative stress on skeletal muscle cells and helps aged heart tissue become more youthful.[24, 25] Other research showed that ALA might be beneficial in keeping excessive iron from accumulating in the cerebral cortex — which is linked to age-related oxidative stress and memory lapses.[26]

Supports Already Healthy Blood Glucose Levels

High levels of blood glucose, or blood sugar, are a result of the body’s inability to sustain normal insulin levels, the hormone responsible for helping glucose enter your cells. Without insulin, glucose builds up and can result in many serious health issues. A 2017 study examined the effects of alpha lipoic acid on blood glucose levels and found that it helps sustain normal blood glucose levels and insulin sensitivity,[27] indicating that ALA’s properties extend beyond that of being strictly an antioxidant.[4]

Supports a Healthy Body Weight

The consumption of processed food, fast food, and other unhealthy dietary choices is an epidemic that’s causing obesity rates to skyrocket – especially in Western culture. There is no quick fix to losing weight, and the proven lifetime plan for maintaining a healthy weight involves regular exercise and a plant-based, organic diet. However, nutrients like alpha lipoic acid may enhance the effects of a healthy lifestyle. Although more research is needed to confirm its effects on long-term weight loss and overall weight management, one study found that patients who took an ALA supplement experienced a small yet significant reduction in weight compared to patients who took a placebo. An animal study found that combining ALA with a high-fat diet inhibited weight gain.[7]

Is Alpha Lipoic Acid Safe to Take During Pregnancy?

“Inquiries into its effects during pregnancy are far from conclusive, but trend toward positive.”

ALA’s natural ability to support healthy mitochondria in cells may help support a normal pregnancy.[28, 29] Such inquiries into its effects during pregnancy are far from conclusive, but trend toward positive. As always, however, check your healthcare provider before using any medications or supplements before, during, or after pregnancy.

Safety & Side Effects

Overall, ALA supplementation at moderate servings does not produce significant adverse effects.[1] The most common reported side effects were skin reactions like itching, rashes or hives, with a small number of severe allergic reactions, and a few reported cases of nausea and stomach pain.[1] Some people have experienced heartburn, but eating a small snack with supplementation has been shown to help. Some people report a sulfur smell in their urine, much like asparagus causes, when taking ALA.

Studies of older patients using supplements with servings ranging from 600 mg to 1,200 mg experienced nausea, acid reflux, and stomach discomfort.[30] Persons with diabetes who are using supplemental insulin should monitor their blood glucose levels closely when taking ALA supplements as it influences insulin-mediated blood glucose utilization.[1] Talk with a healthcare professional before taking supplemental ALA, especially if you are taking other medications or supplements.

Is Alpha Lipoic Acid Right for Me?

The benefits of alpha lipoic acid are many. There is compelling evidence that the antioxidative qualities of this nutrient may give your body and brain a healthy boost. If you could benefit from an all-natural supplement that contains a blend of powerful antioxidants, including the natural form of alpha lipoic acid, try Cell Fuzion™. Cell Fuzion is an advanced formula designed to energize mitochondrial function, sustain healthy cell cycles, and protect DNA. It contains ingredients that may also help regenerate the body’s natural intracellular antioxidants.

Do you take an alpha lipoic acid supplement? What was your motivation? How has it benefitted you? Leave a comment below and share your experience with us.

The post Alpha Lipoic Acid: Top 10 Benefits & Possible Side Effects appeared first on Dr. Group's Healthy Living Articles.


Tuesday, 13 March 2018

What’s a PLU Code? How to Shop for Organic Produce

A bucket of tomatoes. Grocery stores use PLU code to manage their inventory of produce.

If eating healthy and nutritious food is important to you, then you need to know exactly how to tell the difference between organically grown and conventionally grown produce. One way is by knowing how to read price look-up, or PLU, codes. PLU codes, which are printed on the tiny stickers you’ll find stuck to apples, bananas, and other types of produce, are identifying numbers that provide information about produce. Deciphering PLU codes is an easy way to tell if food is organically grown or conventionally grown.[1]

Deciphering PLU codes is an easy way to tell the difference between food that’s organically grown and conventionally grown.

What Are PLU Codes?

PLU codes are unique, four or five digit numbers that grocery stores use to control and manage their inventory of fruits, vegetables, and herbs. The codes also help cashiers identify the produce being purchased to ensure accurate prices at check out. Although PLU codes were designed for retailers and not the consumer, you can benefit from knowing how to read them.[1]

The International Federation for Produce Standards (IFPS) is a global organization comprised of national produce associations from around the world. They’re responsible for deciding which codes are assigned to which foods. There are currently 1,400 PLU codes used worldwide. The IFPS assigns codes using the 3000, 4000, 83000, 84000, 93000, and 94000 series.

Common PLU Code Misconceptions

PLU codes are relatively straightforward, but there are a few common misconceptions to clear up.

PLU Codes Are Required By Law

Although PLU codes are an industry standard that most medium and large-sized stores use, their use is not mandatory or required by law. Food labeling is completely voluntary and retailers can label items as they choose. For example, many people are unaware that genetically modified vegetables are often labeled as conventionally grown.

PLU Codes Can Identify Genetically Modified Food

There is no distinct code for genetically modified foods and many types of conventionally grown produce are genetically modified. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are plants, animals, and microorganisms whose DNA has been altered through genetic engineering. According to a 2013 report by the Grocery Manufacturers Association, 70 to 80 percent of foods contain GMOs. Although research on the health effects of GMOs is controversial, there is reason to believe they may have negative health consequences.[2, 3, 4]

A survey in the International Journal of Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine found that people who reduced or eliminated their consumption of GMO foods experienced an improvement in digestion, food sensitivities, and energy levels.[5]

Suffice to say, it would be helpful to have a PLU code that identifies GMO-based produce. Unfortunately, this does not exist. Although the prefix “8” was previously reserved for genetically modified food, its use never caught on with food producers.[1, 6] The best way to avoid genetically modified food is to shop for organic food.

Is There a List of PLU Codes?

The IFPS has a searchable database that’s extremely helpful for finding and verifying PLU codes. It allows you to search by category, commodity, type, and variety of produce. Their website is also a resource that provides up-to-date information for new codes.[1]

Easy Ways to Remember PLU Codes

With over a thousand different PLU codes in use, it’s difficult to memorize every single one. However, knowing how they work can be just as helpful.

Conventionally grown produce is assigned a four-digit PLU code starting with a 3 or 4. Organically grown produce has a PLU code starting with 9 followed by a four digit PLU code within the 3000 or 4000 series. For example, the PLU code for a conventionally grown Granny Smith apple is 3071. The PLU code for an organically grown Granny Smith apple is 93071.[1]

Although foods with a PLU code that begin with 9 are designated as organic, looking for the USDA organic seal can provide additional peace of mind. You can also identify non-GMO food by looking for the verified seal from the Non-GMO Project – a nonprofit organization dedicated to building and preserving the sources of non-GMO products.[7]

Not Every Number Is a PLU Code

Codes that start with a 5, 6, or 7 are not part of the standardized list of PLU codes and may have a local or business-specific purpose. The same is true for 6-digit codes. In the event that you encounter produce codes you don’t understand, the Produce Marketing Association (PMA), a trade organization that represents produce and floral companies, recommends that you contact the produce manager of the grocery store for information.[1]

The Benefits of Local Markets & Farmer’s Markets

Local markets and farmer’s markets are among the best places to find fresh fruits and vegetables that are free of toxic pesticides and GMOs. Produce supplied by local farms is usually in season, recently picked, and has a short transport time. Most farmers are in tune with consumers’ preference for healthy food and use organic growing methods to keep their crops pesticide and herbicide free.[8]

Even if you don’t have easy access to a farmer’s market, a quick phone call to the grocery store can let you know if they carry fresh, organic, or locally grown produce. Be sure to ask if there’s a particular day of the week when the new produce arrives so you can have the best selection.

PLU Codes Recap

  • PLU codes are the four or five digit numbers printed on produce stickers.
  • PLU codes can help you distinguish between organically grown and conventionally grown produce.
  • Conventionally grown produce starts with a 3 or 4.
  • Organic grown produce starts with a 9.
  • Look for the USDA organic and the Non-GMO Project seals to provide additional peace of mind.
  • Read the nutrition facts label for a better understanding of what you’re eating.

What’s Your Story?

Do you look at the PLU codes when you shop? Is it your primary means of telling the difference between conventionally grown and organically grown produce? Or, do you shop at a local or farmer’s market? Tell us your story in the comments section below.

The post What’s a PLU Code? How to Shop for Organic Produce appeared first on Dr. Group's Healthy Living Articles.


Monday, 5 March 2018

Epsom Salt: 10 Benefits for the Bath and Other Uses

Epsom salt is a natural mineral made of magnesium and sulfate.

Epsom salt is a potent mineral compound comprised of magnesium and sulfate. It is widely used to relieve many minor health issues. Soaking in a bath with Epsom salt can relieve achy feet and soothe sore muscles. Epsom salt is used in skin cleansers and hair care products to help naturally exfoliate skin, and give hair more volume and shine. Many people also turn to Epsom salt as a remedy for occasional constipation as ingesting food-grade Epsom salt helps flush the gastrointestinal tract and encourage detoxification.

What Is Epsom Salt?

Epsom salt is named after the English town of Epsom, where the substance was first produced. Although it is referred to as “salt,” it does not contain sodium and, despite sharing similar physical characteristics, has different properties from table salt. For instance, adding Epsom salt to warm bath water makes your skin feel smooth and silky, while salt produces a drying effect. For this reason, Epsom salt is a common ingredient in bath salts that are designed to cleanse and soften skin.

“All products labeled as Epsom salt are essentially the same, but there is a difference between “food grade” Epsom salt and non-food grade Epsom salt – the latter being produced for agricultural use.”

All products labeled as Epsom salt are essentially the same, but there is a difference between “food grade” Epsom salt and non-food grade Epsom salt – the latter being produced for agricultural use. The former will bear the “USP” designation, which means it was certified according to standards set by the United States Pharmacopeia and the Food and Drug Administration. Because agricultural or garden grade Epsom salt is not manufactured under the same conditions, it may contain contaminants.

What Makes Epsom Salt Work?

Epsom salt has two major components: magnesium and sulfate (sulfur). These minerals are essential for optimal health. Magnesium is a cofactor involved in more than 300 enzymatic processes, including protein and DNA synthesis, the regulation of blood pressure and serum glucose levels, and supporting the body’s detoxification routes. Magnesium is also required for the uptake of calcium and potassium, both of which are necessary to regulate nerve, muscle and heart function.[1]

Sulfate is involved in several biological functions as well, most notably in the gut. This mineral facilitates the release of proteases, lipases, and amylase, which are pancreatic enzymes needed to digest food. It is needed to form specialized proteins in epithelial cells. These cells line and lubricate your intestinal tract to keep things moving smoothly and prevent intestinal bacteria from leaking into the bloodstream. Sulfate is also required for prenatal mapping of the neuronal network and the development of brain tissue.[2] Dietary sources of magnesium include whole grains, green leafy vegetables, nuts, and seeds.

10 Epsom Salt Benefits

  • Soothes inflammation
  • Relieves discomfort caused by sunburn
  • Relieves itchiness caused by poison ivy
  • Helps reduce stress
  • Fixes magnesium deficiency
  • Supports recovery after exercise
  • Relieves occasional constipation
  • Promotes radiant skin and hair
  • Relaxes tired, aching feet
  • Fertilizes your garden

Due to the beneficial qualities associated with magnesium and sulfate, Epsom salt is used as a natural remedy to support many health issues including inflammation, constipation, and bodily strain from exercise. It may also help remove splinters, relieve a sunburn, and soothe the itch from poison ivy.

Bathing with Epsom salts is a healthy way to reduce stress, while at the same time promoting the elimination of environmental toxins from your body and increasing new cell turnover through exfoliation. It is also used in beauty regimes and can even be added to soil for a healthier garden.

Soothes Inflammation

Inflammation is a natural process in the body in which white blood cells rush to the site of injury to counter foreign agents that might lead to infection. Evidence of this taking place is seen in localized swelling, bruising, itching, or redness. Adding two cups of Epsom salt to a warm bath helps to break down this compound into its two components, magnesium and sulfate. Since these minerals are readily absorbed through the skin, soaking in this solution may reduce discomfort and swelling associated with sore muscles and joints, aching feet, sprains, bruises, and minor skin irritations.

Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, may not immediately affect your health but can be quite damaging over time. One of the markers used to evaluate ongoing inflammation is the level of serum C-reactive protein (CRP). High levels are linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, irritable bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and other inflammatory conditions. Research shows that magnesium plays a significant role in inhibiting chronic inflammation and that insufficient intake of this mineral leads to elevated CRP levels.[3, 4]

Fixes Magnesium Deficiency

According to the National Institutes of Health, magnesium deficiency is more likely to occur in certain groups of people due to particular medical conditions. These conditions include kidney disease, diabetes, and Crohn’s disease. People who use certain medications that interfere with the absorption of this mineral, or that speed its elimination from the body can also be deficient. Magnesium supplementation may benefit people with these conditions, as well as people with other health issues.

Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include, but are not limited to:

  • Unhappy mood
  • Mental fog or confusion
  • Irritability
  • Muscle twitching or weakness
  • Insomnia
  • Nail disorders
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Seizures

Other factors that can lead to low magnesium include excessive intake of alcohol or caffeine, consuming too much salt, heavy menstrual periods, and chronic stress.[9]

Supports Recovery After Exercise

Soaking in an Epsom salt bath after intense exercise can help relieve muscle pain. In studies, a closer look at the benefits of Epsom salt revealed that supplementing with magnesium sulfate before working out or playing sports may enhance performance and stamina. An Epsom salt supplement before a round of calisthenics could also reduce the risk of injury, muscle cramps, inflammation, and post-exercise aches.The reason for this is because of magnesium’s ability to improve blood glucose metabolism, which leads to better endurance. Magnesium also reduces lactic acid buildup in muscles during intense exercise, allowing muscles to relax rather than stiffen.[10, 11, 12]

Relieves Occasional Constipation

Food grade Epsom salt is approved by the FDA for use as a laxative to relieve occasional constipation. Magnesium sulfate exerts laxative effects because it enhances digestion as it stimulates the ilium brake. This mechanism serves as traffic control for the movement of digested food through the intestinal tract.[5] Drinking a solution of food grade Epsom salt, or a suitable magnesium powder supplement, increases the transport of water to the large intestine. This process results in a natural colon cleanse and body detox. Your gallbladder may also benefit from magnesium sulfate as a flush to help relieve gallstones. Epsom salt may also be mixed with purified water and administered as an enema. For adults, the typical serving if used as a drink is 1-2 teaspoons of Epsom salt mixed with eight ounces of distilled or purified water. This blend is consumed once daily.[6]

Promotes Radiant Skin and Hair

There are many ways to use Epsom salt in your personal care regimen. Many people love soaking in a warm bath that contains Epsom salt bath crystals or bath salts to exfoliate their skin, reduce stress, and relieve aches. Aside from a lovely bath, the salt can be combined with your favorite cleanser, a carrier oil (such as sweet almond oil, or melted coconut oil), or simply moistened with plain water to make an effective body and facial scrub.

Epsom salt may also be used for everyday hair care. Mixed with an equal amount of hair conditioner that has been slightly warmed, Epsom salt will soften and increase hair volume, especially in oily hair types. For best results, massage the conditioner mixture onto the scalp and through the hair, and wait 20 minutes before rinsing.

This salt is also great as a natural hair spray, and it’s easy to make. Combine one cup of Epsom salt with one cup of water and two tablespoons of fresh lemon juice. Place this mixture in a spray bottle, and shake well before each use.

Relaxes Tired, Aching Feet

A foot-soak in warm water and Epsom salt works wonders for tired, aching feet. Incorporating essential oils into a foot bath can be even more beneficial. If in fact, your feet are feeling tired, a few drops of peppermint oil will revitalize them and diminish that achy feeling. If you have issues with foot or nail fungus, consider adding a few drops of tea tree oil to your Epsom salt soak. This addition may help remedy the effects of athlete’s foot.

While you’re taking care of your feet, you can also take care of your discarded shoes. Grab an old, clean sock and fill it with Epsom salt. Tuck this salt-filled sock into well-worn sneakers or boots. This trick will help absorb odor so that your clean, fragrant feet have a better chance of staying fresh.

Can Even Be Used to Fertilize Your Garden

Epsom salt can improve the quality of soil. It supports the uptake of sulfur, nitrates, and phosphorus in plants. Magnesium, in particular, is needed for seeds to germinate and for plants to produce chlorophyll. The sulfur component in this salt is used by plants to synthesize proteins, amino acids, and enzymes. In fact, sulfur is responsible for the distinctive flavor of many vegetables. Some of these vegetables include garlic, onion, cabbage, and broccoli.[7]

While many plants benefit from fertilization with Epsom salt, the practice is especially effective for plants that require high levels of magnesium, such as tomatoes, peppers, and roses. According to the National Gardening Association (NGA), test gardeners reported that the use of Epsom salt in the garden yields larger vegetables, and fuller rose bushes.

Soil that is deficient in magnesium tends to have a low pH. This deficiency makes alkaline levels too high to successfully grow crops and flowers. Soils with a pH of 7 or higher may benefit from potassium and calcium but tend to lack sufficient magnesium. Either scenario is remedied by conditioning the soil with an Epsom salt and water mix. A foliar spray application works best for this purpose.

For roses, the NGA suggests applying a spray of one tablespoon of Epsom salt per gallon of water for each foot of plant height. This solution works best when applied as soon as leaves open, and again when flowers begin to bloom. For tomatoes and peppers, the recommended treatment is one tablespoon of Epsom salt in a gallon of water. Maximum effectiveness occurs when this mixture is sprayed on plants after transplanting, at flowering, and as fruits begin to set.[8]

Savvy gardeners also know that Epsom salt provides an effective, chemical-free alternative to toxic weed killers. A simple recipe mixing two cups Epsom salt, a gallon of water, and one-quarter cup dishwashing liquid can be applied to weeds with a sprayer. This action will cause them to die off within 8-12 hours. Be advised that this solution will kill any variety of plant, including your favorite ornamental shrubs and flowers, and should be used with caution.

Epsom Salt Side Effects

“Epsom salt is generally safe. However, it is possible to experience adverse side effects. In extreme cases, high doses of a magnesium supplement can lead to severe health issues.”

Epsom salt is generally safe. However, it is possible to experience adverse side effects. In extreme cases, large servings of a magnesium supplement can lead to severe health issues. In addition to diarrhea, cramping, and other gastrointestinal irritations, hypermagnesemia (magnesium toxicity) can occur with doses of more than 5,00 mg of magnesium per day. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, flushing of the skin, urine retention and paralytic ileus. These symptoms, if left unchecked, may progress and lead to irregular heartbeat, severe hypotension, difficulty breathing, kidney failure, and cardiac arrest.[1, 6]

Certain medications may interact with magnesium supplements, including diuretics, proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), and medicines used to treat osteoporosis. Magnesium may also interact with antibiotics in the tetracycline class (doxycycline and demeclocycline) or quinolone antibiotics (ciprofloxacin and levofloxacin) unless taken two hours before, or six hours after taking these medicines.[1]

Be sure to check with your healthcare provider before supplementing with magnesium sulfate during pregnancy, or while you are nursing. Seek professional advice as well if you take prescription medications, or if you have a chronic health condition.

Is Epsom Salt Right for You?

Epsom salt offers many benefits, and there’s no question that adding it to a hot bath and soaking does wonders for sore muscles. However, if your goal is to get your daily required intake of magnesium, try Intracal™. It’s a combination of calcium orotate and magnesium orotate, two vital nutrients that support healthy teeth and bones, the nervous system, and cardiovascular health.

Your Story

Have you ever used Epsom salt? Why did you use it? Did you find it helpful? We’d love to hear from you. Please tell us your Epsom salt story in the comments section below.

The post Epsom Salt: 10 Benefits for the Bath and Other Uses appeared first on Dr. Group's Healthy Living Articles.


Thursday, 1 March 2018

Global Healing Center Celebrates 20 Years of Healthy Living

Global Healing Center Celebrates 20 Years of Healthy Living

Global Healing Center planted a seed in the world of natural health in 1998, and I’m happy to say that it’s been growing steadily ever since. I wanted to provide natural wellness products, information about health and the human body, and encouragement towards a healthier life path. Our belief in cleansing, detoxing, and supplying the body with natural and organic foods and supplements is the foundation of this organization.

Our History

We started Global Healing Center in an office that spanned only 200 square feet. Despite our small beginning, we were determined to fulfill our mission: to provide people with natural health information and products that would transform people’s journeys towards better health. It wasn’t long until our passion for learning about and providing ways to naturally heal the body, and keep it healthy through fasting, cleansing, and detoxing caught on. People heard us. People responded. Since we took our first small steps on this ambitious path, we’ve helped millions of people learn to live healthy – a fact that completely humbles me. We hope to encourage millions more.

YouTube Video

20 Years of Living Healthy and Changing Lives

Length: 2 minutes

Answering the Need for Healing

Back in 1998, I decided to take a journey towards finding the best healing process for overall natural health and wellness. I knew the body has natural healing mechanisms. I knew there had to be natural ways to stay healthy without harsh medications. I knew the only way to truly relieve illness was by addressing the root of these health issues – not by sticking a bandage over their symptoms.

Over time, I learned that internal cleansing and an all-natural, organic, plant-based diet could help the body heal itself and maintain a healthy status. With the right information and the right supplements, people have the power to start living healthier lives.

Global Healing Center Celebrates 20 Years of Healthy Living

Where Global Healing Center Is Today

We’ve grown significantly but our vision remains what it was 20 years ago. I’m overwhelmed to see our company grow from a little seed into a healthy oak. We now have a large distribution center near our headquarters in Houston and a new manufacturing plant in Phoenix.

We’ve partnered with organic farms to ensure you get the freshest, organic ingredients in our products. I love visiting these beautiful farms and putting my hands in the soil, knowing it will grow something wholesome that someone will put in their body to help make them healthier. It’s the seed to the body.

It’s really amazing to me that now we can say our products have been distributed by over 1,000 doctors in 21 countries around the world and have been used by millions of people. It means we’re spreading health on a global scale.

Sustaining Our Values

Everything we do is of the highest quality. In this way, I know that our focus will stay strong, and our mission will remain steady. We carry our values both on our sleeve, and at our core: we believe in making it better, communicating effectively, encouraging healthy living, and having fun together – just like a family. We’ll continue practicing these values for another 20 years.

Our Thank You

When I started on this journey, I had no idea how many people would end up walking it with me. Knowing that Global Healing Center had something to do with these health revelations drives me to find better, natural ways to heal the human body. I’m inspired every day by the people around me: my family, my team, and everyone who is on their path towards becoming well and happy.

To my customers and fellow health travelers: I feel privileged to have all of you in our Global Healing Center family. I will continue to build a better company for you. Every step you take as you walk towards wellness is what motivates us at Global Healing Center. You help us push forward to learn more, and make our products that much more exceptional. You are the reason we come to work every day. You are the reason this company continues to thrive. You are the reason Global Healing Center exists. So, from one healthy heart to another:

I thank you. We thank you.

The post Global Healing Center Celebrates 20 Years of Healthy Living appeared first on Dr. Group's Healthy Living Articles.


Wednesday, 28 February 2018

What Is Perfect Standing Posture?

How do you know if you have good posture? More than likely, if you suffer from habitual back, neck, shoulder, hip, knee or foot pain, the way you stand on a regular basis may be a contributing factor. I can pretty much bet that if you have pain anywhere in your body you can improve […]


Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Meditation for Beginners: A Step by Step Guide to Inner Tranquility

Meditation for beginners. An image of a person meditating.

The best time to start meditating is now. Meditation can help quiet the mind, focus your thoughts, and promote general well-being. Best of all, anyone with a few free minutes can start meditating today. Even if you have never meditated before, don’t be intimidated. Follow the 10 easy steps below, and you will become a meditation expert in no time!

How to Meditate for Beginners

  1. Find your motivation to start.
  2. Pick a peaceful, quiet place.
  3. Choose the right clothes and the right pose.
  4. To start, set a timer for two minutes.
  5. Concentrate on your breathing.
  6. If your concentration is interrupted, refocus on your breathing.
  7. Do a body scan by focusing on different areas of your body.
  8. End your meditation with a positive ritual.
  9. Remember not to overthink it. Just enjoy the journey.
  10. Make it a habit.

The Step by Step Guide to Meditation

While there are countless meditation techniques and practices, the steps below offer a simple way to begin. Remember, while meditating, there is always room for improvement, and a chance to learn something new. Try to enjoy the journey as you hone your meditation skills.

1. Choose to Start

Meditation starts with you. No matter your age or physical condition, meditation is always within reach. What is required on your part is the decision to begin. If you need some motivation, then try thinking about the reasons why you want to try it in the first place. Meditation can relieve stress and anxiety, promote physical and mental well being, and for some, can be a spiritual experience. Find a quiet moment to write down what you are hoping to get out of it and go back and read it anytime you need some meditation motivation.

2. Pick Your Location Wisely

Your environment is critical to cultivating the right experience. Try to find a peaceful, quiet space that helps you feel relaxed. While a calm bedroom, tranquil garden, or dedicated meditation space is ideal, it’s not always possible. When the optimal location is not available, remember, your car or even work desk can serve as your very own meditation retreat. The most important thing, especially when first starting out, is finding a location where you have the freedom to meditate for at least two minutes without interruption.

3. Get Comfortable With It

Before you can completely clear your mind, you will need to limit as many distractions as possible. Even small irritations will become distracting once your meditation exercise begins. Scan the area before you start and consider the type of pose you will be in, the clothes you are wearing, and your surroundings in general. If you’re able, it is encouraged to turn off your cell phone and anything else that might be disruptive.

Pick a Pose

Meditation works in nearly any position. Sitting, standing, and laying down are three basic poses that are great for first-time meditators. Select your starting posture based on comfort and whether or not you can hold it for a few minutes at a time. For most people, a good starting position will be sitting cross-legged, hands resting on the legs, and eyes closed.


Any clothing can work for meditation, but again, comfort is key. Many people enjoy light, loose-fitting clothes when they meditate, but you can wear anything you find comfortable. If you can’t decide what to wear, throw on your favorite pair of pajamas or comfortable workout clothes.

Chairs & Pillows

Meditation can involve long periods of sitting, especially as you progress. The chairs, pillows, or blankets you sit, stand, or lay on should be sturdy and provide enough padding for more extended sessions. More seasoned meditators will typically have a dedicated cushion or mat in their home, but these are not necessary when you’re first starting out.

Sounds & Smells

Many other factors such as sounds and smells can help set the stage for a positive meditation session. Some prefer adding aromas in the forms of incense, essential oils, or scented candles, while others like to avoid sensory distractions altogether. Whatever you choose, just make sure the air you are breathing is fresh and clear of any toxins or pollutants. Natural sounds like wild animals or a babbling brook can also enhance or distract depending on the individual. Try a variety of settings to find out which works best for you.

4. Set a Timer

Meditation does not need to be a long process unless you want it to be. If you are just starting out, then begin with small increments of time. Setting a timer can be very helpful for beginners because it can help keep the focus on breathing and not on the clock. To start, set the timer for two minutes, and do your best to stay focused and in the moment. As your confidence builds, try extending the timer by 30 seconds every session until you are meditating for five minutes or longer.

5. Focus On Your Breathing

One of the best ways to begin the practice of meditation is to focus on your breathing. Choose your pose and follow your breath as it flows from your nose into your lungs and out again as you exhale. Some find it helpful to count breaths, but it isn’t necessary. Concentrating on your breathing will help your mind focus as it adjusts to the silence. Even seasoned meditators pay close attention to their breathing as a way to be more mindful.

6. Return When You Wander

Most meditation practices aim to clear the brain of all thoughts and be more mindful. However, it is natural and even inevitable, that your mind will wander or fixate on rotating feelings and physical sensations. Getting lost in these distractions is entirely normal, but not the goal of meditation. When this happens to you, recognize that your mind has wandered and try to refocus on your breathing.

7. Scan Your Body

Towards the end of each meditation session, take the time to do a body scan. During this scan, focus on and observe different areas of the body. Ask yourself how you feel, and pay close attention to any part that may need healing. Shift your focus from your breathing and gradually move your attention from your toes up through your feet and legs. Eventually, you will reach every area of your body. Similar to your breathing, return focus when your mind wanders.

8. End Your Session on a Positive Note

Carry your mindfulness through to the end of your session. Slowly get up and take note of how you are feeling, gently adjusting your body and mind. Creating a personal ritual to end each session may be helpful. Ending rituals could include reciting a personal mantra or finishing with a light exercise or walk.

9. Don’t Overthink It

Don’t spend your meditation time worrying whether or not you are doing it right. It may take a while for you to become proficient, and that is ok. Just keep at it, have fun, and enjoy the journey.

10. Repeat Often

Meditation can help support a healthy body and mind. It promotes healthy blood pressure, a happy mood, and strengthens coping skills.[1, 2,3] However, to start seeing these and other benefits you will need to meditate regularly and make it a habit. Try picking a time and place every day where you can dedicate two to five minutes to meditate.

YouTube Video

Learn How to Meditate with Dr. Group

Length: 16 minutes

Meditation Aids

As you continue with your meditation journey, you may benefit from additional help and advice along the way. As meditation has gone mainstream, meditation aids of all kinds are becoming more available.

Guided Meditation

Guided meditation is an excellent option for many beginners. Many audio and video guides are inexpensive or even free online. Depending on where you live, local guided meditation classes may also be available. During these guided meditation classes, instructors will walk you through what to do and how to do it. In-person classes can also provide additional support from like-minded meditators.

There Is an App for That

Thanks to modern technologies, there is a constant stream of new resources to help you meditate better. Many phone apps can help you start or perfect the practice of meditation. With new apps coming out daily, you will have many options to choose. Try looking for an app in a comfortable price range, and that focuses on a technique you want to improve. Apps can be especially beneficial for first-time meditators looking to track their progress.

Your Meditation Journey

Have you tried meditation? Let us know what helps you meditate and how it improves your physical and mental health.

The post Meditation for Beginners: A Step by Step Guide to Inner Tranquility appeared first on Dr. Group's Healthy Living Articles.


Sunday, 11 February 2018

Natural in the Nether Regions Part II: Natural Care for Your Yoni is Essential


Last weekend I wrote a post on naturally caring for your body during your period and moon cycle more generally. It received such a great response, I thought I would continue on this topic that seems to be all too often swept under the rug. Pun intended. Today’s post goes a little bit deeper into the products we use for our yonis and finding more natural ways to care for our most precious parts. Here are my top tips for natural care for your yoni. 

I hope you will enjoy this read – and if you have further thoughts on other items that you would like to see included, please don’t hesitate to write in the comments below your thoughts, questions and your favourite products. 

Moisturizing for your Petals: Yoni Serum

Your yoni doesn’t need the traditional moisturizer you use on your legs, but sometimes it could use a little extra love. If you find it is craving something a little extra nourishing, reach for this lovely Passion Yoni Serum from Living Libations. There is a good reason why this little bottle is almost gone – I  L O V E  it. I especially love this when my moon flow is ending, to help things be brought back into alignment. It hosts some incredible ingredients, including Clary Sage, Rose Hip, Rose Otto and Ylang Ylang. Help heal and nourish the delicate tissues of the area with this perfect potion. 

Shop online at Living Libations here.

Cleaning the Pretty Parts: Intimate Wash 

Most of the time you don’t need much other than good ol’ water to cleanse your yoni, but some may wish for something sudsy. That’s where Yes Cleanse comes in. If I am using anything on my yoni it must be pretty pure and very gentle. 

Yes! has created a great a sensitively formulated organic intimate wash, designed to respect the delicate vaginal ecology, with a refreshing and effective cleansing action using calendula and aloe vera. 

I shop mine from Love Lula here

Keeping Her Hydrated: Natural Personal Lubricant

It’s no surprise that for most things, you can use coconut oil. Personal lubricant is no exception. Coconut oil is safe, and oil based (and even has some anti-fungal properties, so it is doing more good to your body than not), plus it is super pure. 

However, if you don’t feel comfy having a jar of coconut oil under the bed, then find this great water-based personal lubricant (chemical-free) from Yes!  Many lubricants on the market are chalk-full of crap. Chemicals and things that should never touch your precious yoni. Stick with natural – always. 

Shop this tiny jar of coconut oil and Yes! Personal Lubricant here on Love Lula

Was it Just a Fad? The Deal with Yoni Steaming

This topic probably deserves it’s own post, and maybe we’ll go there in the future. In the mean time, I’m going to tell you why I actually like – and do – yoni steaming myself. 

If this is the first time you’re hearing about it: Yoni steaming, also known as vaginal steaming, is a practice in which a woman allows the warmth of herbal steam to permeate the exterior of her vagina. Maya healers and midwives used steams for centuries for a variety of treatments includnig everything from menstrual cramping, fertility, postpartum, post miscarriage, endometriosis, ovarian cysts, pelvic pain and even constipation.

How To:  Simply boil up some Yoni Steaming Herbs, my favourite brand is by Vibrant Souls’ Devi Steam Product, but you can also use different herbs such as: Red Raspberry Leaf, Juniper, Motherwort, Peony, Dong Quai, Oregano, Basil, Marigold, Rosemary, Chamomile, Damiana, Plantain and Yarrow.

Combine 1 Cup of dry for a large pot of water, bring to a boil, let cool slightly and then sit over top of it on a stool (or just put the pot in a clean toilet bowl and sit over top of it. Wrap a towel around your waist to keep the heat in. 

Shop your own bag of herbs here on Vibrant Souls’ website.

Take care, beautiful soul. 




The post Natural in the Nether Regions Part II: Natural Care for Your Yoni is Essential appeared first on Living Pretty, Naturally.