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Brain Vitamins: The Top Vitamins And Minerals For Your Mind

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Health brain2020
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Dr. Edward F. GroupGuest Writer

You may have heard that taking extra vitamins can improve your memory, protect against Alzheimer’s disease, or help you ace that test. Are “brain vitamins” really a thing? In reality, a debate exists over whether vitamins can boost your brain health. You may see wild claims that one vitamin or another may make you smarter, wiser, or delay aging. Others say they do not actually improve your brain’s functioning and make you smarter but do support an already-healthy brain.

Can Vitamins Help Brain Health?

Throughout life, your brain continually creates new connections and repairs broken ones. Vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, sometimes called nutraceuticals, support that process.[1, 2]

Yet many people don’t get enough of key vitamins and minerals that best support brain health. You may become low in a certain vitamin or mineral without realizing it. This can lead to low energy, brain fog, and memory loss. The stress of modern lifestyles can even deplete the vitamins and minerals you do consume.

You can’t have a thriving brain if you do not have these essential and important nutrients. In the end, vitamins and minerals may not make you smarter, but they can support a healthy brain, especially if your body is low in one — or more — of them.

The Best Vitamins and Minerals to Support Brain Health

All nutrients play a role in keeping us healthy, but some are specifically good for the brain. If you follow a healthy diet, it’s easy to get most of these nutrients through your food. However, many people do not have an ideal diet, full of colourful and diverse fruits, vegetables, grains, and healthy oils. If your diet falls short, supplementation becomes more important.

B Vitamins

All eight B vitamins are important for brain cell functioning and work best together. B vitamins are water-soluble, meaning your body uses them immediately and does not store them; your body excretes any excess.

B vitamins help produce key neurotransmitters: serotonin, dopamine, and GABA. Neurotransmitters are molecules that send messages throughout your brain and body.

While B-1 (thiamine), B-2 (riboflavin), and B-6 (pyridoxine) play a role in brain health, the most significant B vitamins for brain health are the following.

Vitamin B-12 (Cobalamin)

Not enough B-12 means not enough brain fuel.[3] Your brain is about 2 percent of your body weight but saps twenty percent of your entire body’s energy stores, and B-12 plays a crucial role in energy metabolism.

B-12 also removes toxins from the brain. Specifically, it helps remove homocysteine, an amino acid linked to brain shrinkage and other adverse health effects.[4] A diet high in meat can raise homocysteine levels which can damage delicate blood vessels in the brain and increase the risk of blood clots. Eating a plant-based diet, in general, helps to reduce clotting and inflammation within blood vessels.

Despite its importance, about forty percent of the U.S. population has low B-12 levels.[5] This can lead to mental and emotional changes, such as memory loss and brain fog.

Best sources: You can only get vitamin B-12 in meat and dairy — although some strains of probiotic bacteria produce it. Vegetarians, vegans, older people, and those with conditions that prevent them from absorbing B-12 should take a supplement.

Global Healing Centre’s VeganSafe™ B-12, a certified organic formula that contains the two most bioactive forms of this vitamin, is an excellent choice.

Vitamin B-9 (Folate)

Folate is the version of B-9 found naturally in foods, while folic acid is the same vitamin but made in a laboratory. B-9 plays an essential role in producing your brain’s neurotransmitters.

Too little folate can lead to neurological disorders and cognitive impairments. This applies to a developing fetus as well as adults. A deficiency in folic acid or folate has been linked not only to elevated homocysteine levels, but also to Alzheimer’s disease.[6] It is often a challenge to get enough B-9 from foods.

Best sources: You’ll find B-9 in green leafy vegetables, beans, asparagus, beets, and citrus fruit. For more ideas, view our folate-rich foods article.

Antioxidant Vitamins

Your brain needs a great deal of energy to do its job. With its delicate functioning, the brain is also prone to disease-causing oxidative stress.

When free radicals in your body damage cells, this is called oxidative stress. These free radicals get generated naturally, but more so when you are exposed to toxins and stress.

Vitamins E, C, and D are some of the body’s most important essential vitamins for your brain. They act as antioxidants, compounds that counteract the effects of cell-damaging free radicals.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is exceptionally effective at counteracting free radicals. It supports the brain’s ability to adapt and grow new connections. It also boosts your immune system.[7]

Healthy people with diets rich in vitamin E may even be less likely to develop dementia, and it may slow the development of Alzheimer’s disease.[8] Yet ninety percent of Americans do not get the estimated average requirement!

Best sources: You can get vitamin E in hazelnuts, green leafy vegetables, asparagus, avocados, olives, spinach, and sunflower seeds.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant. Low levels of vitamin C in people has been linked to depression.

Vitamin C helps convert the neurotransmitter dopamine to norepinephrine. Norepinephrine affects executive function, which means focus, interest, intelligence, and mood.

Vitamin C deficiency is rare, but if you smoke or eat a lot more meat than plant foods, you might not get enough.[9]

Best sources: Vitamin C-rich foods include citrus fruits, tomatoes, broccoli, bell peppers, leafy greens, and berries — especially strawberries, raspberries, and cranberries.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays a crucial role in protecting brain health and function. It supports a healthy mood and protects against declines in cognitive function.[10]

A clear example of the importance of this “sunshine vitamin” is the example of SAD — seasonal affective disorder. Many people get the blues during months of low sunlight when your body produces less vitamin D.

Global Healing Centre’s Suntrex D3™ provides a superior plant-based source of vitamin D in an easy-to-take liquid formula.

Best sources: Your bare skin produces this vitamin from daily exposure to the sun, but you may need more during certain times of the year. Try shiitake and button mushrooms to help boost your intake of this vitamin. If you are vegetarian or vegan, you may need a supplement as most sources of vitamin D are not plant-based.

Minerals

Dietary minerals are chemical elements that your body needs to function. The following minerals are especially important to the brain:

Iron

Iron is a mineral that helps regulate the central nervous system, including the brain. Your body uses it for metabolic processes involving thought and behavior.

Iron insufficiency is widespread, particularly among women of child-bearing age, pregnant women, vegetarians, and vegans. Low iron levels can cause brain fog and even psychiatric symptoms.[11]

Best sources: Iron-rich plant-based foods include legumes such as white beans, lentils, and kidney beans, as well as oats and spinach. Sesame seeds and cashews are also high in iron. You can also buy iron supplements, but many are harsh on your system. Global Healing Centre’s Iron Fuzion™ is a plant-based supplement that is gentle on your stomach.

Lithium

One mineral that shows promising results as a “brain booster” is lithium, an important trace mineral. While lithium is found in many foods, lithium orotate is an optimal form found in supplements. This combines lithium and orotic acid, the same substance that makes zinc orotate so effective.

Lithium orotate may increase the brain’s gray matter. In fact, it is one of the only things known to stimulate new brain cell growth other than exercise.[12] Consuming small servings of lithium orotate can powerfully increase proteins that maintain and repair brain’s cells.[12] It shows remarkable potential for lifting mood, memory, and cognitive function.

Best sources: Lithium is found at low levels in many foods, including lentils, garbanzo beans, mushrooms, cauliflower, brown rice, and coffee. If you take supplements, purchase them from a reputable supplier. Global Healing Center’s Lithium Orotate is an excellent choice. This advanced formula promotes brain function and a happy mood with low servings of lithium orotate.

Nutraceuticals

Though they’re not vitamins, nutraceuticals are worth mentioning because some play a substantial role in cognitive function. The word simply means a component of food used for therapeutic purposes. Nutraceuticals that help brain health are called nootropics.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3s are the building blocks of your neurons and their cell membranes. Omega-3 fatty acids also help limit the number of beta-amyloid proteins that develop in your brain as you get older. Excess beta-amyloid protein in the brain is linked to Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases.[13]

There are three main types of omega-3s: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). You have to get ALA from food or supplements, but your body produces DHA and EPA (that’s not to say you can’t become low).

Most people don’t get enough omega-3s relative to omega-6 fatty acids, so getting them in your diet is important.[14, 15]

Best sources: Great sources of omega-3 fatty acids include olive oil, flax seeds, chia seeds, algae oil, walnuts, and kiwi fruit. Algae oil is one of few plant sources of EPA and DHA; the other plant sources mainly provide ALA. Avoid fish oil supplements if possible as they have a high likelihood of mercury contamination.

Probiotics

Probiotics are helpful microbes that support digestive health. Healthy gut bacteria play a key role in the two-way communication between your gut and your brain.[16]

The gut-brain axis is a well-documented phenomenon in science, though less well-known by the general public. Your gut produces up to ninety percent of the serotonin in the body! Bottom line: If you want a happy and healthy mind, make sure to nurture your gut biota.

Best sources: Get probiotics from fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kombucha, and coconut milk yogurt. Or look for a high-quality supplement like Global Healing Center’s Floratrex™, an advanced formula with 25 unique strains and 75 billion CFUs.

Tips on Boosting Brain Function

What you do to keep your heart and the rest of your body healthy is also good for your brain. The combination of these healthy lifestyle practices is more powerful than any of these actions alone.[17]

  • Eat a plant-based diet full of veggies, fruits, gluten-free grains, and healthy oils.
  • Avoid excessive sugar which atrophies the brain.
  • Exercise regularly: it grows brain cells!
  • Try nootropic herbs like Rhodiola rosea and ginseng.
  • Do brain exercises, like puzzles, reading, or taking up a new hobby!
Points to Remember

Several vitamins, minerals, and nutraceuticals support brain health. Brain health includes your ability to remember, learn, concentrate, and maintain a clear, active mind.

No specific nutrient is a “brain vitamin” per se, and taking more vitamins will not necessarily boost your mental powers. Yet many people have low levels or are even deficient. In those cases, supplementation or eating more vitamin-rich foods can help.

Stress also depletes your body’s stores of vitamins and nutrients. Ensure you get enough of the vitamins your brain needs for best mental health.

The best vitamins for a healthy and happy brain include B-12, folate (B-9), the antioxidant vitamins E, C, and D, and the trace minerals iron and lithium, particularly lithium orotate. “Nutraceuticals” such as omega-3 fatty acids and probiotics are also important for top brain function. As long as you use as directed, vitamins and minerals do not typically have side effects in healthy individuals.

The best way to get these micronutrients is through your diet. Supplements are sometimes a good option, especially if your diet does not contain an array of brightly collared fruits and vegetables. Physical activity and brain exercises, such as doing crossword puzzles and reading, also improve your brain health.

Have you taken any vitamins or minerals to boost your brain health?

Article Sources
  1. National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health, “What Is Brain Health?” web page. Accessed Dec. 10, 2018.
  2. Gómez-Pinilla, F. Brain foods: the effects of nutrients on brain function. Nat Rev Neurosci. 2008 Jul;9(7):568-578.
  3. Raichle M.E. Two views of brain function. Trends Cogn. Sci. 2010;14:180-190.
  4. Smith AD, et al. Homocysteine-Lowering by B vitamins slows the rate of accelerated brain atrophy in mild cognitive impairment: a randomized controlled trial.” PLoS ONE. 2010 Sep 8;5(9):e12244.
  5. McBride, J. B12 Deficiency May Be More Widespread Than Thought. United States Department of Agriculture website.
  6. Folate: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements Website. Updated 4 Oct 2018. Accessed 18 Apr 2019.
  7. Vitamin E: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements Website. Updated 17 Aug 2018. Accessed 18 Apr 2019.
  8. Gestuvoa MK, Hung WW. Common dietary supplements for cognitive health. Again Health. 2012 Feb;8(1):89-97.
  9. Vitamin C: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements Website. Updated 18 Sept 2018. Accessed 18 Apr 2019.
  10. Vitamin D: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements Website. Updated 9 Nov 2018. Accessed 14 May 2019.
  11. Beard J. Iron deficiency alters brain development and functioning. J. Nutr. 2003 May;133(5):1468S-1472S.
  12. Marshall TM. Lithium as a nutrient. J Am Physicians Surgeons. 2015; 20(4):104-109.
  13. What Happens to the Brain in Alzheimer’s Disease? National Institute on Aging Website. Accessed 18 Apr 2019.
  14. Simopoulos AP. The importance of the ratio of omega 6/omega 3 essential fatty acids. Biomed Pharmacother. 2002 Oct;56(8):365-379.
  15. Fenton JI, et al. Immunomodulation by dietary long chain omega-3 fatty acids and the potential for adverse health outcomes. Prostag Leukotr Ess. 2103 Nov-Dec;89(6):379-390.
  16. 4 Fast Facts About the Gut-Brain Connection. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health Website. Updated 24 Sept 2017. Accessed 18 Apr 2019.
  17. National Institute on Aging, “What Is Brain Health?” Accessed 10 Dec 2018.

Originally published at Global Healing Center and reproduced here with permission.

Recommended Articles by Dr. Edward Group:
About the Author

Dr. Edward F. Group III (DC, ND, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM) founded Global Healing Center in 1998 with the goal of providing the highest quality natural health information and products. He is world-renowned for his research on the root cause of disease. Under his leadership, Global Healing Center earned recognition as one of the largest natural and organic health resources in the world. Dr. Group is a veteran of the United States Army and has attended both Harvard and MIT business schools. He is a best-selling author and a frequent guest on radio and television programs, documentary films, and in major publications.

Dr. Group centres his philosophy around the understanding that the root cause of disease stems from the accumulation of toxins in the body and is exacerbated by daily exposure to a toxic living environment. He believes it is his personal mission to teach and promote philosophies that produce good health, a clean environment, and positive thinking. This, he believes, can restore happiness and love to the world.

For more, please visit Global Healing Center.

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How To Begin Gardening For Mental Health

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How To Begin Gardening For Mental Health
Photo Credit: Pexels

Mia Barnes, Guest Writer

Do you want to improve your mental health? Why not get outside and dig in the earth? Gardening has significant benefits that extend beyond temporarily taking your mind off your troubles — although that is one plus.

If you haven’t gardened before, maybe you hesitate because you don’t know what to do. Have no fear — whether you dwell in a tiny urban apartment or have an entire back 40 to hoe, this guide can help you. Here’s how to begin your healing journey of growing things.

Collect Colourful Containers 

No matter what size of home you have, you can grow gardens indoors and out with colourful containers. Some can get quite pricey, but you can typically find inexpensive models. If you love nothing more on a sunny Saturday than scouring the roadways for yard sale bargains, you are in luck. Estate sales, likewise, offer potential deals.

Tomatoes, peas and squash grow well in containers, so don’t think you have to resign yourself to floral. You might save considerable cash by going the veggie and fruit route. Instead of buying baby plants, you can save the seeds from the produce you buy, dry them out and spout them on a windowsill. Egg cartons work well for this purpose, and you can transfer them when they mature.

Container gardens improve your mental health by connecting you with the natural world. They get you outdoors and allow your body to produce natural stores of vitamin D.

Develop Your Repurposing Game 

Do you have a yard at your home? If so, you have a lot more room to plant, but building supplies like pavers and garden stones don’t come cheap. If your financial situation is a bit tight, or you want to be eco-friendly, look into repurposing frequently discarded items for use in your garden.

No, you don’t have to turn a toilet into a planter if that doesn’t suit your tastes. However, you can paint an old truck tire a festive hue to make a circular planting spot for a small fruit tree and some annuals. An old toy dump truck makes a playful place to park your petunias, and a chandelier looks stunning with spicy oregano trailing over the sides.

Take a walk around the perimeter of your home. Do you see any unattractive spots you want to camouflage? How can you do so creatively with plants? If you can’t stand the appearance of your water meter, a folding room divider covered with planters keeps it accessible to maintenance workers while concealing the street view.

Beautifying your property decreases your stress level. Instead of sighing when you pull in your driveway, you smile at the lovely environment you’ve created.

Go Vertical 

Is your space so tiny that even your balcony leaves little room for anything except two chairs? What about your available wall space? Vertical gardens offer another indoor-outdoor space-saving solution, and if you use recycled materials such as plastic bottles to make it, you save money, too.

You can fill old paint pots with dirt and hang them or prop an old wooden ladder in a corner to hold small containers. Your local lumber store may give away old wood pallets for free. You can take these home, paint them to match any decor, and mount them on the wall to make a secure frame for trailing herbs.

Even small gardens improve your overall fitness. You still need to water and tend your plants, which gets you off the couch. Plus, planting healing varieties like chamomile enables you to make teas that further benefit your mood.

Make It a Community Affair 

What if you dream of a large plot, but you only have a tiny backyard? Do you have neighbours who also show interest in gardening? If so, why not circulate a petition or hang up signs announcing a community garden committee meeting?

Once you gather a group of like-minded individuals, you need to manage the legal requirements by reaching out to your local governing board. Don’t approach this process from an adversarial perspective. They might have suggestions about the location or the type of plants that will grow well in your zone.

After you win approval, you’ll get down to the dirty and fun part — building and planting your garden. You can organize your community plot in several ways. Each family can tend individual areas or assign a rotating schedule for raking, weeding and other maintenance tasks.

This project will help you feel more connected with those around you. Nearly three out of five adults suffer from loneliness, which can lead to depression.

Create a Zenlike Retreat 

Do you enjoy practicing yoga, meditation or both? Wouldn’t you love a gorgeous, spa-like setting in which to enjoy your hobby? Rocks and sand feature prominently in many zen garden designs, meaning you can make your retreat as low maintenance as you like.

Bamboo makes an ideal privacy fence, and it grows in containers. You can line the perimeter of your patio with it if you live in an urban setting and don’t want passers-by intruding on your solitude. You can complete the effect by adding a DIY bamboo water feature that will make you think you’re sitting in lotus pose beneath Mt. Fuji’s shade.

With this garden design, you’ll want plenty of colourful flowers. If you want to save money, pick perennials — they cost more initially but come back year after year. You’ll also need a comfortable place to sit. If you’re on a patio, add ample carpeting and pillows for cushioning. If you locate yours elsewhere in your yard, consider building a small deck or gazebo.

You can’t overstate the value of having a beautiful location for your practice. You’ll experience a sense of calm before you chant your first “om.”

Gardening connects you with the natural world and takes your mind off your troubles. It also improves your mental and physical well-being — why not begin a healing planting journey today?

About the Author

Mia Barnes is an online journalist and Editor in Chief at Body + Mind.

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Group Drumming Synchronizes Heartbeats And Increases Teamwork, Research Shows

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Group Drumming Synchronizes
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Nikki Harper, Guest Writer

If you’ve ever sat in a drumming circle or even just been moved to dance by a particular rhythm, you’ll already understand something about the power of drumming. Research is ongoing into the therapeutic and healing benefits of drumming, and into the way in which drumming can help to prolong and maintain cognitive health too. New research this year has also revealed how drumming in a group can lead to the synchronizing of heart rhythms – which in turn can lead to better group performance on other unrelated tasks.

In this latest research, scientists at Bar-Ilan University and its Multidisciplinary Brain Research Center joined forces with the department of music to explore how drumming can contribute towards group cohesion and teamwork. The study, published in May in the journal Scientific Reports involved 51 groups each with three participants, whose heart data – including the time interval between individual heart beats (IBI) was continuously monitored [1].

Each member of each group participated through a drumming pad as part of an electronic drum set shared with the other group members. They were asked to match their drumming to a rhythm which was played on speakers. Half of the groups were given a steady and predictable tempo to match, while the other half was given a constantly changing rhythm to work to. This meant that researchers could analyse the synchronization efforts between group members, while reviewing changes in IBI during the experiment, which were found to synchronize.

Each group was later asked to improvise drumming together, and it was found that the groups who had shown the highest levels of synchronization during the original task also showed greater co-ordination and synchronization during the improvisations – to a statistically significant level, beyond what one might expect randomly [1].

The researchers hypothesize that drumming together, and the behavioural co-ordination this requires, contributes to the bonding of a group, and thereby enhances their ability to perform well together as a cohesive whole. This may have important implications for human co-operation and teamwork on a larger scale [1].

Meanwhile, research elsewhere has found links between drumming, intelligence, good timing and problem-solving abilities. Neuroscientist David Eagleman conducted research with professional drummers, which took place at Brian Eno’s studio [2] – Eno having previously suggested that drummers’ brains worked differently to those of other people. Apparently, he was correct – the research showed a ‘huge statistical difference’ [3] between the brains of the drummers versus control subjects.

Could this new knowledge be used to help counter cognitive decline? Former Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart thinks so. He has been collaborating with the University of California on a project to create a drumming app which he hopes can be used to help stave off dementia and Alzheimer’s [4].

Meanwhile, we know that previous research has found numerous physiological benefits from drumming, including reducing stress levels, boosting the immune system, helping to alleviate chronic pain and even increasing cancer killing cells.

In many ways, drumming is a universal language, and almost a primal instinct. By appreciating and taking part in drumming, it seems that we can also enhance our understanding of other rhythms in life, such as human co-operation – while also keeping our brains active and healthy, and supporting our emotional instincts [5]. What’s not to love about that?

Sources
  1. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-65670-1
  2. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2011/04/25/the-possibilian
  3. http://www.openculture.com/2020/01/neuroscience-of-drumming.html
  4. https://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-2018/mickey-hart-alzheimers-awareness.html
  5. https://project-resiliency.org/resiliency/the-benefits-of-druming/
About the Author

Nikki Harper is a spiritualist writer, astrologer, and Wake Up World’s editor.

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3 Powerful Indigenous Herbs From North America

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3 Powerful Indigenous Herbs From North America
Photo Credit: Getty

Nick PolizziGuest Writer

Growing up, I was fascinated by the hundreds of interesting plants that grew in the forests behind my childhood home in rural Connecticut. We would wander down old forgotten trails for hours, lost in the greenery and enchanted by the timelessness of the place.

I would later come to realize that these old woods are home to one of the most extensive systems of indigenous medicine in the world.

We now know that the original inhabitants of North America were extremely advanced, far beyond what our textbooks and cowboy movies would have us believe. One need only examine the hundreds of gigantic temple mounds that still stand, from the southern Mississippi Valley all the way up into the Great Lakes region, to understand the hidden capability of these cultures. According to respected archaeologists, the first of these mind boggling earth works was constructed 1,000 years before the Great Pyramids of Egypt!

Perhaps the clearest window into the highly evolved technologies that Native American communities possess is their back-of-the-hand familiarity with the medicines of the forest. In fact, the early explorers of the new world relied heavily upon indigenous herbals and would not have survived without them.

Known for unprecedented generosity to strangers, tribal elders often shared this knowledge with European trappers and frontiersmen with little to no expectation of compensation. Plant wisdom was not seen as a possession to be hoarded or leveraged for personal gain. One’s intimate understanding of both plant and man came with a built-in responsibility to use these tools for the benefit of all – even the odd pale-skinned newcomers from the east.

A far cry from our patent-crazed The Big Pharma System of today right?

I tread very lightly on this sacred topic out of deep respect for the richness of each native tribe that lives, or has lived on this continent. Each group has their own distinct medicine tradition and too often they are lumped together under one homogenized label. We never share indigenous herbal knowledge without the express permission of the healer and their community to do so.

Also important: Because of over-harvesting and deforestation, many North American herbs including American Ginseng, are now endangered in certain regions. When seeking out these powerful plants, please make sure to source them from a conscious and sustainable outfit. For more information on how to safely harvest and protect the precious herbs of the world, visit the hard working community at United Plant Savers (www.unitedplantsavers.org)

Without further ado – the three Native American herbs below were shared with foreign settlers centuries ago and are still widely used because of their effectiveness. They are shining examples of the extraordinary contribution that the native civilizations of North America have made to herbal and clinical medicine.

“All plants are our brothers and sisters.

They talk to us and if we listen, we can hear them.”

— Arapaho Proverb

American Ginseng: Panax quinquefolius

When many of us think of ginseng our minds immediately leap across the Pacific Ocean to Asia, but an equally potent version of this plant has been used here in North America for thousands of years. The Seneca celebrate American Ginseng as one of the five most valuable plant medicines, and are not alone in their sentiments.

Like so many other herbs, French traders in Quebec quickly recognized American ginseng for its medicinal value and began purchasing large quantities back in the 1600 and 1700s.

What it’s good for:

Unlike the Asian variety which warms and stimulates the body (promoting the “yang” – or masculine forces within us), American ginseng does quite the opposite. Known for its cooling properties, American ginseng is often used to stabilize fever, reduce swelling, and flush out the digestive tract.

The Cherokee, Mohegan, and Potawatomi often dried the herb and brewed it into therapeutic teas. Known as a robust adaptogen, it has been shown to reduce many types of stress – both physical and mental.

“Panax”, the first word in its latin name, comes from the Greek word for panacea, meaning “all healing”. High praise is built right into the title!

Goldenseal: Hydrastis Canadensis

Called the “universal herb” for over 300 years, the goldenseal is a perennial that thrives in the forests of Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, and West Virginia – particularly in the Appalachian region. It was most likely introduced to early colonists by the Iroquois and its use as a medicinal has spread like wildfire since then.

What it’s good for:

True to its reputation as the “universal herb”, goldenseal was used in a wide variety of applications. It was highly favoured as a diuretic, liver cleanser, and was commonly infused in cold water to treat sore or itchy eyes. The Catawbas boiled the root and drank its tea to alleviate jaundice, stomach ulcers, and cold sores.

If you’re feeling adventurous – the Cherokee were known to grind the root into a powder and mix it with bear grease to create an insect repellent. The bear grease can be substituted with other vegetable based oils!

Black Cohosh: Actaea racemosa

Also known as “black snakeroot”, the black cohosh is a tall, white flowered plant that is quite common in the woodlands of the Lake Ontario region all the way down to Georgia. The word “cohosh” comes from the Algonquin term for “rough”, which is a reference to the plant’s gnarled root structure. This subterranean portion of the plant, or rhizome, is where the medicine is in this herb.

What it’s good for:

The black cohosh has been a go-to remedy in women’s health for centuries. It is used by Native American healers to treat menstrual cramps, sooth hot flashes, and alleviate post-menopausal depression.

Lately, black cohosh has become a popular herbal supplement in health food stores and many claim it has even broader applications, although these have not been scientifically proven yet.

Interesting fact: Both goldenseal and the black cohosh are in the buttercup family!

I hope you find the herbs above to be of benefit to yourself and your loved ones. Again, we carry a deep respect for the native cultures who brought us this vital knowledge and are honoured to be in a position to pass it along to you.

Stay curious,

Nick Polizzi – Founder, The Sacred Science

Recommended Articles by Nick Polizzi
About the Author

Nick Polizzi has spent his career directing and editing feature length documentaries about natural alternatives to conventional medicine. Nick’s current role as director of The Sacred Science documentary and author of “The Sacred Science: An Ancient Healing Path For The Modern World” stems from a calling to honour, preserve, and protect the ancient knowledge and rituals of the indigenous peoples of the world.

For more, visit www.thesacredscience.com.

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How Stress Impacts Your Body – And How To Fight Back

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Kate Harveston, Guest Writer

When you feel overwhelmed, your thoughts start racing through every conceivable scenario. You grow irritable, and little things that previously didn’t bother you begin to drive you crazy.

You know how too much tension affects your mind and mood, but what about your body? As it turns out, stress can have multiple adverse effects and even shorten your lifespan. Here’s what you need to know, as well as techniques to help you calm yourself. 

How Stress Impacts You Physically

You go for a hike, and you see a bear. Automatically, several physiological changes take place. Your eyes send a message to your amygdala, which then cries SOS to your hypothalamus. That gets your central nervous system in gear and triggers your adrenal glands to release adrenaline, soon followed by cortisol. Your heart rate and blood pressure increase to supply critical oxygen to your muscles to prepare you for fight or flight. This process all occurs before you start tiptoeing backward.

In a short-term crisis like the above, your body returns to homeostasis, or a normal resting state, once the threat passes. However, while you can beat a retreat before mama bear spies you, it’s more challenging to escape looming deadlines, micromanaging bosses and bill collectors. This prolonged stress keeps your cortisol levels high. 

Small doses of cortisol improve immune function and relieve pain, but your body gets used to elevated levels during periods of ongoing disquiet. As a result, the hormone loses its palliative effect and leads to inflammation. 

The current pandemic creates the perfect meltdown pot. Women, in particular, feel the crunch. While both sexes must adjust to the new reality, women tend to carry a greater sense of responsibility than their male counterparts. When it comes to juggling home-schooling the kids with telecommuting, the lioness is most likely to step up to the plate — and shoulder the burden of added stress. 

A prolonged stress response damages nearly every system in your body. Stress hormones directly impact your heart and increase oxygen demand through your body, making it pump harder. It can also interfere with the electrical impulses this organ relies on to function properly, which can lead to an attack or stroke. 

Stress also impacts your gastrointestinal system. You might recall a time when you got butterflies in your stomach before a performance review or the first day at a new job. People with autoimmune or inflammatory bowel disease often experience worsening symptoms when things grow tense. Researchers suspect this may be due to changes in your intestinal microbiota, or beneficial bacteria that inhabit the area.

Perhaps most frighteningly right now, stress can hinder your immune response. Studies in rats show that the number of T-cells, a critical type of white blood cell for fighting infection, decreases significantly when subjected to repeated tension over several days. If the mere thought of running out for groceries sends you into a paroxysm of fear about catching the COVID-19 virus, your emotions could ironically increase your chances of getting sick. 

What You Can Do to Manage Stress During Uncertain Times 

Getting a grip on your stress levels can benefit your overall health significantly. How can you do so, though, when so much uncertainty abounds, even among world leaders? Try these techniques to manage your emotions positively:

  • Meditate: You don’t need to spend a dime to learn how to meditate. All you need is a quiet space where you can sit and focus solely on your breath. As thoughts intrude, as they will, observe them neutrally. Then, let them go. Remember, the mere fact that you feel worried about something means it isn’t happening at present. If you prefer the guidance of a teacher, you can find ample meditation videos on YouTube for free.
  • Exercise: When you work out, your body releases endorphins, natural feel-good chemicals that help you to relax. For best results, keep your fitness time to under an hour. While moderate exercise decreases your cortisol levels, prolonged bouts can raise them. Save the marathon training for a less anxious time. 
  • Do yoga: Yoga unites your breath and body movement. It combines the mental benefits of meditation with the physical perks of exercise. You don’t need any equipment except perhaps a mat, and you can find ample free videos online. 
Lower Your Stress Levels and Improve Your Health

If you want to improve your physical health, it pays to start by getting a handle on your stress. By using natural, holistic techniques to tame the tension tiger, you can improve the length and quality of your years.

About the Author

Kate is a health and wellness journalist with an interest in holistic healing and all-natural living. If you enjoy her work, you can visit her blogSo Well, So Woman.

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