Health Benefits of Milk Thistle

“Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) has been used for 2,000 years as an herbal remedy for a variety of ailments, particularly liver, kidney, and gall bladder problems. Several scientific studies suggest that substances in milk thistle (especially a flavonoid called silymarin) protect the liver from toxins, including certain drugs such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), which can cause liver damage in high doses. Silymarin has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and it may help the liver repair itself by growing new cells.
Although a number of animal studies demonstrate that milk thistle can be helpful in protecting the liver, results in human studies are mixed.

Liver disease from alcohol
Milk thistle is often suggested as a treatment for alcoholic hepatitis and alcoholic cirrhosis. But scientific studies show mixed results. Most studies show milk thistle improves liver function and increases survival in people with cirrhosis or chronic hepatitis. But problems in the design of the studies (such as small numbers of participants and differences in dosing and duration of milk thistle therapy) make it hard to draw any real conclusions.

Viral hepatitis
Milk thistle is widely used in the treatment of viral hepatitis (particularly hepatitis C). However, studies show mixed results. Some found improvements in liver function, while others did not. In one study of 16 patients who didn’t respond to interferon and ribavirin therapy, milk thistle significantly reduced the viral load of hepatitis C. In 7 of the subjects the virus decreased to undetectable levels after 14 days of therapy.

Mushroom poisoning
Based on traditional use, milk thistle has been used as an emergency antidote to poisoning by deathcap mushroom (Amanita phalloides). Animal studies have found that milk thistle extract completely counteracts the toxic effects of the mushroom when given within 10 minutes of ingestion. If given within 24 hours, it significantly reduces the risk of liver damage and death.

Cancer
Early laboratory studies also suggest that silymarin and other active substances in milk thistle may have anticancer effects. These substances appear to stop cancer cells from dividing and reproducing, shorten their lifespan, and reduce blood supply to tumors. Some studies suggest silymarin may favorably supplement sunscreen protection and may help reduce the risk of skin cancer. More studies are needed, however, to show whether milk thistle has any effects in the body (not just in test tubes).

Plant Description
Milk thistle is native to the Mediterranean region. It is now found throughout the world. This stout thistle usually grows in dry, sunny areas. The spiny stems branch at the top, and reach a height of 5 – 10 feet. The leaves are wide, with white blotches or veins. Milk thistle gets its name from the milky white sap that comes from the leaves when they are crushed. The flowers are red purple. The small, hard skinned fruit is brown, spotted, and shiny. Milk thistle spreads quickly (it is considered a weed in some parts of the world), and it matures quickly, in less than a year.

What’s It Made Of?
The active ingredient — the one that protects the liver — in milk thistle is known as silymarin, a chemical extracted from the seeds. Silymarin is actually a group of flavonoids (silibinin, silidianin, and silicristin), which are thought to help repair liver cells damaged by alcohol and other toxic substances. Silymarin also keeps new liver cells from being destroyed by these same toxins. It reduces inflammation (which is why it is often suggested for people with liver inflammation or hepatitis) and is a strong antioxidant.
Most milk thistle products are standardized preparations made from the seeds of the plant. Most preparations are standardized to contain 70 – 80% of silymarin.

Available Forms
Capsules of standardized dried herb (each capsule contains about 120 – 140 mg silymarin)
Liquid extract
Tincture

Silymarin phosphatidylcholine complex
A few studies show that a silymarin-phosphatidylcholine complex may be absorbed more easily than regular standardized milk thistle. Phosphatidylcholine is a key element in cell membranes. It helps silymarin attach easily to cell membranes, which may keep toxins from getting inside liver cells. People who have alcohol-related liver disease should avoid alcohol extracts.

How to Take It
Pediatric
There are no studies showing whether it is safe to give milk thistle to a child. Liver problems can be serious and should be diagnosed by a physician. Talk to your child’s health care provider before giving milk thistle to a child.
Adult
If you think you have a liver problem, you should see a health care provider. Liver disease can be life threatening.”

Source: Milk thistle | University of Maryland Medical Centerhttp://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/milk-thistle#ixzz3QJmsQ3qv
University of Maryland Medical Center
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Amazing Health Benefits of Cacao

“Cacao beans are seeds of the Theobroma cacao tree, a small evergreen tree grown in Mexico and South America. Cacao beans are roasted and ground to produce cocoa and, after further processing, are the basis of chocolate. When the beans are dried at low temperature, however, they are called raw cacao beans, which can be consumed whole, broken into pieces called nibs or ground to produce raw cocoa powder. Cacao beans are rich in natural antioxidant compounds with many health benefits.

Cacao Antioxidants
Cacao beans contain natural chemicals called flavonoids, a type of antioxidant compound that promotes general health and might lower your risk of several diseases. One type of flavonoid, called anthocyanidin, is especially high in cacao beans, along with other compounds called epicatechins. These compounds are powerful antioxidants and, according to a study in the “Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry” published in 2003, are especially concentrated in cocoa, a product of cacao beans. In that study, researchers compared the antioxidant capacity of black tea, green tea, red wine and cocoa, concluding that cocoa has the highest antioxidant activity among the four products and the greatest potential for health benefits.

Antioxidant Benefits
Antioxidants stabilize and ultimately destroy free radicals in your cells and tissues. These potentially damaging chemicals are natural by-products of metabolism. They also form when your body breaks down environmental toxins such as cigarette smoke and organic solvents. Free radicals can injure your cells by interfering with cell membranes, damaging DNA and altering other cell components. Over time, a buildup of free radicals can accelerate aging, contribute to vascular changes that lead to heart disease and raise your risk of developing cancer. In addition to removing free radicals, antioxidants also help decrease inflammation that can contribute to arthritis and other diseases, and they can prevent changes in platelets that might produce blood clots
.
Cardiovascular Benefits
Flavonoid antioxidants in cacao have significant benefits for your cardiovascular system, according to Silvina Lotito, Ph.D., of the Linus Pauling Institute. She indicates that proanthocyanidin compounds in cocoa powder can help decrease oxidation of low-density lipoprotein, or LDL. Often called bad cholesterol, LDL is oxidized and then deposited in plaque. Plaque produces fat accumulations in arteries that can lead to atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. Because cacao antioxidants block LDL oxidation, they can prevent plaque formation, improving circulation and lowering your risk of heart disease.

Cancer
The Linus Pauling Institute indicates that flavonoid antioxidants such as those found in cacao might interfere with the development of cancer. In one laboratory study published in 2002 in “Cancer Letters,” anthocyanidins from cacao reduced the incidence of chemically induced pancreatic and breast cancer in laboratory animals. In a review of evidence from human subjects, published in 2009 in “Nutrition and Cancer,” researchers concluded that compounds in cacao might prevent cancer or improve the outcome when the disease is already present. However, they state that more extensive studies with larger populations are needed to confirm this.”

References:

Antioxidant Benefits of Raw Cacao. (n.d.). Retrieved February 10, 2015, from http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/antioxidant-benefits-raw-cacao-3990.html

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Health Benefits of Goji Berries

“Goji berries (Lycium barbarum) are the most nutritionally dense fruit on Earth. They are a member of the nightshade family (Solonaceae), which contains many other common vegetables such as potato, tomato, eggplant, and pepper, as well as some poisonous plants like belladonna and deadly nightshade. Native to the Himalayan Mountains of Tibet and Mongolia, the goji berry is now grown in many other countries as well.

Although they have only been introduced in Western countries in recent years, gojis have been used for thousands of years in Tibet and China, both as a culinary ingredient and medicinally.
Unique among fruits because they contain all essential amino acids, goji berries also have the highest concentration of protein of any fruit. They are also loaded with vitamin C, contain more carotenoids than any other food, have twenty-one trace minerals, and are high in fiber. Boasting 15 times the amount of iron found in spinach, as well as calcium, zinc, selenium and many other important trace minerals, there is no doubt that the humble goji berry is a nutritional powerhouse.
This amazing little superfruit also contains natural anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal compounds. Their powerful antioxidant properties and polysaccharides help to boost the immune system. It’s no wonder then, that in traditional Chinese medicine they are renowned for increasing strength and longevity.
In traditional Chinese medicine, the goji is said to act on the Kidney and Liver meridians to help with lower back pain, dizziness and eyesight. They are most often consumed raw, made into a tea or extract, or as an ingredient in soups.
Gojis are most commonly available in dried form, and make a great snack eaten as is, added to trail mix, muesli or oatmeal. They can also be soaked for a couple of hours in enough water to cover them. Then the soak water can be drained off and makes a delicious drink, or both water and berries added to smoothies.
Please note that there can be adverse interactions if you consume goji berries while also taking medication for diabetes, or blood pressure, or take the blood thinner warfarin. So be sure to consult your health care provider if that is the case.”

References:

The Health Benefits of Goji Berries • The Healthy Eating Site. (2010, February 13). Retrieved February 10, 2015, fromhttp://thehealthyeatingsite.com/the-health-benefits-of-goji-berries/
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Nip Flu-Like Symptoms in the Bud!

What is homeopathy? What are homeopathic medicines?

Homeopathy is a therapeutic method that uses diluted substances to relieve symptoms. The active ingredients in homeopathic medicines include diluted plants, animals or minerals that relieve the same symptoms they cause at full strength (i.e., a micro dose of coffee bean helps to relieve nervousness).

Homeopathic medicines have been used for more than 200 years. They are manufactured in strict accordance with the Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States (HPUS) and drug Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP). Today, homeopathic medicines are used by millions of patients and recommended by health care professionals around the world to relieve many acute health conditions such as allergies, coughs, colds, flu, stress, muscle pain and teething.

Are there clinical studies on Oscillococcinum?

Yes. Two studies, published in peer-reviewed journals, show that Oscillococcinum helps to reduce the severity and shorten the duration of flu-like symptoms.1-2 The most recent study showed that 63 percent of the patients who took Oscillo at the onset of flu-like symptoms showed “clear improvement” or “complete resolution” of their symptoms after 48 hours, vs. 48% with a placebo.2

1Papp R, Schuback G, Beck E, et al. Oscillococcinum in patients with influenza-like syndromes: a placebo-controlled, double-blind evaluation. Br Homeopath J. 1998;87:69-76. 2Ferley JP, Zmirou D, D’Adhemar D, Balducci F. A controlled evaluation of a homeopathic preparation in the treatment of influenza-like syndromes. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 1989;27:329-335.

How do I take Oscillo?

Dissolve the entire contents of one tube under the tongue every 6 hours, up to 3 times a day. As with all homeopathic medicines, Oscillo should be taken in a mouth free of strong flavors or anything that may coat the mouth. We recommend taking the medicine 15 minutes before or after eating, drinking or brushing your teeth.

How long should I take Oscillo?

If your symptoms have not improved after the first day, repeat the dosage instructions – take one dose every 6 hours, up to 3 times a day, for 2 more days. If after three days you show no improvement, we recommend consulting your health care professional. If your symptoms improve and you would like to take Oscillo for a longer period of time, please consult your health care professional.

Will Oscillo make me drowsy? Does it have any other side effects?

Oscillo does not cause drowsiness. It has a low risk of side effects and no contraindications. It can be safely taken with other medications.

Can I take Oscillo if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?

If you are pregnant or breast-feeding, ask your health care professional before taking any medicine, including Oscillococcinum. If your health care professional needs more information on our medicines, he/she can contact us at 1.800.BOIRON.1.

Should I avoid touching the pellets with my hands?

We recommend touching the Oscillo pellets as little as possible with your fingers or hands. Introducing any moisture to the pellets will begin the dispensing of the medicine, and any oils on your skin may coat the pellets and hinder absorption once the medicine is in your mouth.

Can Oscillo be taken in conjunction with other medicines?

Oscillo will not interact with other medications, herbs, or supplements. It is safe to take Oscillo with other homeopathic medicines.

Does Oscillo contain sugar?

Oscillo pellets contain sucrose and casein-free lactose. Each dose of Oscillo contains 1 gram of sugar.

Can I take Oscillo past its expiration date?

No, we do not recommend taking Oscillo past its expiration date.

Newtown Square, Pa. – Experts agree that the sooner cold and flu symptoms are treated, the better chance there is for a quick recovery and minimum disruption of lifestyle. Yet people hesitate to take action at the crucial early stage. Typically, they wait until they are “sick enough” to take medications that simply mask full-blown symptoms.

“I see it all the time,” says Robert Schiller, M.D., department chairman of Family Medicine at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City. “Patients take great proactive steps like washing their hands frequently and taking a multivitamin. They don’t know what to do, though, when they start to get sick. They wait until their condition gets so bad that they can’t sleep at night or function during the day, so they have nothing to lose by taking something that will put them in a fog.”

Instead of waiting to mask symptoms, the key is to start with a medicine like Oscillococcinum® that nips symptoms in the bud. Oscillo® is a homeopathic medicine that works with the body to help it rebalance and heal itself.

Clinical studies show that Oscillo helps reduce both the severity and the duration of flu-like symptoms. In fact, when patients took Oscillo within 24 hours of the onset of symptoms, nearly 63 percent showed “clear improvement” or “complete resolution” within 48 hours, according to the latest study published in a British scientific journal.

Since it doesn’t cause drowsiness or interact with other medications or supplements, there’s no reason to delay taking Oscillococcinum at the moment you feel achy and run down with headache, chills and fever. Its sweet-tasting pellets dissolve quickly under the tongue and are recommended for everyone, from two-year-olds to seniors.
Sourced at www.oscillo.com
Order your Oscillococcinum at www.vitaminlife.com or come in to our Redmond Retail Store. Call us at 866-998-8855

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