Have you ever noticed how much time you spend thinking negative thoughts? Either dwelling on events of the past or ruminating about the future, these thoughts seem to infiltrate our minds and feed off themselves and can even become addictive.
Most of us would claim that we do want happiness, yet over and over again we choose suffering; and this isn’t to say that we should merely stop these negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones. Only thinking positive thoughts could be considered spiritual bypassing and won’t bring us to our desired happiness either. We continuously return to our suffering because in our minds we are trying to make the negative experiences come out a different way, even though this is not possible.
In an effort to figure out how to let go of our pain, we end up grasping onto it.
From Psychology Today, author Nancy Colier states,
“Pain is also profoundly intertwined with our sense of identity. We remind ourselves of our pain as a way of keeping alive our personal narrative, our story of me, what’s happened to me, and my life. We’re deeply attached to our stories of suffering; you could say we love our pain. As a result, we’re reluctant to let it go, to stop bringing it back into the present moment, even when it’s no longer useful or active. To do so would be to lose touch with who we believe we fundamentally are, what makes us, us. “
Learn To Feel The Feelings The Painful Thoughts Bring
In the short term, it may be easier to think over and over again about our painful memories, embarrassing moments, wondering “what if?” But eventually we will become these thoughts and believe we are those thoughts. They will just come back again and again and again until we can learn how to truly let them go. The mind will go through great lengths to avoid actually feeling our pain, perhaps in an effort to protect us, which we can potentially have gratitude for. Perhaps we can even choose to say: thank you ego/mind for protecting me, but I’d like to explore these feelings that are inside of me.
So What Can We Do?
One might feel as though they wish they could just stop these negative thoughts altogether, but until they are acknowledged, these thoughts won’t stop. Perhaps in reading this article, you will remember or gain the awareness to notice just how repetitive some of your thoughts are. Next time your mind gets stuck you can say “No, I’m not going there right now,” but be sure to notice any feelings that come up at the same time.
We can practice mindfulness and separate our thoughts from ourselves. Instead of identifying deeply with the thought, we can choose to be the mere observer, the one who is noticing that the thought is happening. So instead of “I’m so stupid, I can’t believe I didn’t jump at that opportunity I was given, typical me, always too afraid to take a leap,” or whatever it may be, we can step back from our thought and say, “I notice that I am having a thought that I am not good enough, now I can observe where this thought is coming from and identify the feelings that are attached to it, feel them fully, and let them pass.”
The Only Way Out Is Through…
If you want to begin breaking these negative thought cycles of the mind, the first thing to realize is that the only way out is through, and if we wish to truly end these thoughts and let go of this pain we are carrying, then we in fact need to face them directly and not just continuously dwell on them.
The only way to do that is to actually feel the feelings and emotions that the painful thoughts are bringing up. Identify how the thoughts are making you feel, even say, “I feel sad about ______ .” Then, you don’t need to think or say anything at all, you can just allow the feeling to be felt, in all its intensity, and maybe you cry, maybe you start laughing uncontrollably, or maybe nothing happens at all. When you give your feelings and emotions the space to be acknowledged and felt — and practice loving kindness and compassion to yourself — these feelings and even those negative thoughts will become quieter and quieter. Because as stated earlier, “the only way out is through.”
This Takes Practice
Please be gentle with yourself, and don’t kick yourself if you can’t grasp this right away, as you could be trying to break through decade’s worth of addiction to these negative thought patterns. Having awareness is the very first step towards dealing with this. So, if you can begin to simply notice these repetitive thought patterns, this is an excellent first step! Over time it will become easier and easier and soon you will be able to separate yourself from your thoughts, become the observer, and allow yourself to feel your feelings, in all of their glorious intensity, and eventually be able to let them go completely.
You got this.
This article (Negative Thinking Can Be An Addiction – Here’s How How You Can Break The Cycle) was originally published at Collective Evolution and is re-posted here under Creative Commons.
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3 Herbs To Heal Your Gut (And Recipes!)
Nick Polizzi, Guest Writer
Did you know that there are more neurons in your Enteric Nervous System (Gut Brain) as there are in your spinal cord?
Amazingly, we didn’t hear a lot about our gut (and the millions of microorganisms that live inside it) until about 2000. Now we’re seeing articles on it everywhere, often stating that the state of our gut health is one of the most critical factors in our overall wellbeing.
There are many ways you can help your gut flora flourish. Simple things like foregoing antibiotics (when possible) and getting active outdoors can really make a difference.
And of course, we can’t exclude the importance of eating foods that strengthen the microbiome. Adding fermented foods to your diet — like yogurt, sauerkraut, and kombucha — introduce healthy bacteria called probiotics to your gut which stabilize your internal environment when consumed regularly.
The good news is that there are also many herbs you can incorporate into your diet as well!
Here Are 3 Gut-Healing Herbs And Recipes To Incorporate Into Your Routine
Gentian root is the most classic digestive herb.
It’s commonly used as a base for aperitifs — alcoholic beverages that are served before a meal. This old school tradition was popularized in France and spread like wildfire. Now it’s practiced around the globe!
Gentian kick-starts the digestive system by stimulating saliva, which travels down your throat and gets your body ready to process your meal. Its intense bitter taste helps your body secrete bile which aids you in breaking down fats and storing that energy for later. It’s also an astringent herb which tones the internal tissues of your gastrointestinal (GI) tract!
Use this recipe to make your own Pre-Dinner Digestive Bitters Blend. You can simply add the tincture into water or squeeze a few drops directly under the tongue for quick effects.
Gentian Bitters Blend
- 2 tbsp gentian
- 2 tbsp chamomile
- 1 cup berries (blueberry is my favourite)
- 2 tbsp honey
- 4 oz grain alcohol (or glycerin)
- Grind your chamomile down into a fine powder using a mortar and pestle or spice grinder
- Mix your gentian and chamomile together in a jar
- Fill with the alcohol and place in a cool dark place for 1 month (at least)
- Strain the alcohol and retain in a separate bowl
- Add berries to a saucepan
- Cover berries with water and bring to a boil
- Lower to a simmer and allow to cool down for 30 minutes or until the liquid has halved
- Strain blueberries out and add liquid back to saucepan
- Add honey and stir until melted
- Allow to cool
- Mix with alcohol tincture
- Serve 1-2 droppers per person per meal
Ginger is famous for its ability to calm down nausea and fend off the flu. But did you know that ginger is a digestive ally all around?
Ginger is so powerful that it boosts your immune system and detoxifies your body while regulating your gut! Isn’t that incredible?
On top of adding ginger to your cooking whenever possible, I deeply encourage people to regularly drink ginger tea. Tea is one of the simplest and most effective ways to introduce healing herbs to your diet for immediate and long term results.
Give this delicious ginger decoction a try – I could sip this one all day, every day?
- 3-5 slices of fresh ginger
- 1 lemon round
- A sprig of fresh thyme (or a 1 tsp of dried)
- Honey to taste
- Add all ingredients to your largest mug
- Pour water fresh off the boil over the herbs
- Steep for at least 5 minutes, or leave all ingredients in and sip it as the water infuses
This delightful herb is typically known for its culinary flavours and for its affinity for helping new mothers. But if you ever have a bout of gas in your gut (which can sometimes even be painful), fennel is the perfect herb for you.
Fennel relaxes the muscles and soothes the lining of the gut. Incorporating fennel into your daily life helps your body absorb the nutrients from your food better, develop more regular bowel movements and heal underlying issues like leaky gut or IBS.
Here’s an easy recipe that my family and I love for a fennel syrup that you can add to any tea!
- 2 TBSP fennel seeds
- ¼ cup honey
- Crush up fennel seeds in a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder
- Add fennel to a saucepan and cover with water
- Bring to a boil then lower to a simmer and warm for at least 30 minutes or until the liquid has halved
- Strain out seeds and pour the liquid back into the saucepan
- Add honey and stir until melted.
- Keep refrigerated
Using all or any combination of these amazing gut healing remedies is a surefire way to get your tummy and overall gut health back on track.
Stay curious, Nick Polizzi
Recommended Articles by Nick Polizzi
- Sacred Science: A Jungle Healing Technique You Can Use Anywhere
- Wired for Tribe
- Eye Gazing — An Exercise for Soul Vision
- A Native Smoke Ritual For Renewal and Clarity
- 3 Ancient Medicines That Already Live In Your Home
- A Breathing Exercise to Take You Higher
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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The Value Of Breathing Consciously
Fiona Reilly, Guest Writer
Every minute of every day we breathe, what a joy to feel our breath, to feel our aliveness and vitality. It is the manna or life source that enables us to exist and is essential for our survival.
Conscious breathing is said to be one of the best antidotes to stress, anxiety and depression. For many years I have given much consideration to the food and drink that I consume, yet paid little attention to my breath. We can survive for days without food and even water, though only minutes without oxygen. Our breath is vital to our physical existence, the oxygen we inhale helps to build our very cells. It is a process that continually happens often without our conscious awareness.
Healing Benefits of Conscious Breathing
Due to the wondrous nature of breathing, it’s no surprise that many healing and esoteric practices emphasis focusing on the breath as part of a path to wellbeing. While most of us never give breathing a second thought, the way we draw breath can affect our physical and mental well-being. It has an impact on our energy levels and functioning.
Breathing properly can reduce stress levels, improve workouts and boost your immunity to infections and illnesses. Poor breathing can contribute to panic attacks and even conditions like insomnia and depression. Conscious breathing is a great form of meditation that can be easily practiced anywhere, anytime! It could be in the office, waiting for a bus, in a busy restaurant or wherever you happen to be. Simply pause and become aware of the inhale and exhale, the rise and fall of the chest as you breath. Allow the breath’s rhythm to centre, ground and calm you.
Thich Nhat Hanh on Breathing
Here are two quotes on breath from Thich Nhat Hanh, the famous Buddhist monk and peace activist, he clearly appreciated the positive benefits of conscious breathing:
- “Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts. Whenever your mind becomes scattered, use your breath as the means to take hold of your mind again.”
- “Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.”
Ways to utilise the breath for your benefit
The following are some practices through which you can use the breath for your well-being and benefit:
- In any moment, whatever you are doing there is an opportunity to pause and watch the breath. Simply observing the breath can sometimes be enough to enhance your state of wellbeing and induce a sense of calm.
- Take a deep breath in and consciously let go with the outbreath. This simple exercise helps me let go of any tension that I may be holding onto.
- Use the breath to encourage mindfulness. One definition of Mindfulness is “the gentle effort to be continuously present with experience.” Simply observe the breath as it enters and leaves the body. Pay attention to the experiences associated with breathing, perhaps how the breath passes through the nostrils and the physical sensations there, for example the difference in air temperature of the breath as it enters and leaves the body or the sensation as it passes over the skin.
- Deliberately take some deep in-breaths. When we are tense we tend to take shallow breaths. With a deep conscious breath we allow the stale air that may have accumulated in our lungs to be released and be replaced with fresh, rejuvenating manna.
- Yawn – just because it feels good (and sometimes you can’t help it!) Yawning is a way of the body getting more energy into its system. Often when I yawn it is a sign of releasing energy from the field. Another great way of releasing is to sigh.
- The use of breath is a dominant factor in the practise of yoga, use yoga breathing techniques such as pranyamma to unwind and dissolve that which doesn’t serve you and encourage enfoldment.
- Find and participate a movement practise that incorporates breath, such as Pilates, Yoga or Openhand’s Soulmotion.
“Breath is the finest gift of nature. Be grateful for this wonderful gift.” ~ Amit Ray
Recommended Articles by Fiona Reilly
- Create Art, Not Excuses!
- 7 Simple Ways To Soothe Your Soul
- Finding Love Within
- Tips for Effective Listening
- Tuning Into Your Own Vibration
- DIY Reflexology to Heal and Invigorate
- Attuning to the Flow of the Universe
- Maintaining Healthy Boundaries When Being of Service
- Trust Your Own Truth
- You Live, You Learn: Finding Freedom Through Life’s Struggles
About the Author
Fiona is an Active Listening therapist, reflexologist, and experienced doula. She is passionate about living true to her heart and soul and empowering others to do the same. She runs various workshops related to the vibrancy of conscious plant based eating and women’s issues including being childless/free and loves joining women in circle.
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How To Clean Your Arteries With One Simple Fruit
Sayer Ji, Contributing Writer
The future of cardiovascular disease prevention and treatment will not be found in your medicine cabinet, rather in your kitchen cupboard or in your back yard growing on a tree.
Pomegranate Found To Prevent Coronary Artery Disease Progression
A study published in the journal Atherosclerosis confirms that pomegranate extract may prevent and/or reverse the primary pathology associated with cardiac mortality: the progressive thickening of the coronary arteries caused by the accumulation of fatty materials known as atherosclerosis.[i]
Mice with a genetic susceptibility towards spontaneous coronary artery blockages were given pomegranate extract via their drinking water for two weeks, beginning at three weeks of age. Despite the fact that pomegranate treatment actually increased cholesterol levels associated with very low density lipoprotein-sized particles, the treatment both reduced the size of the atherosclerotic plaques in the aortic sinus (the dilated opening above the aortic valve) and reduced the proportion of coronary arteries with occlusive atherosclerotic plaques.
Remarkably, the researchers also found that pomegranate extract treatment resulted in the following7 beneficial effects:
- Reduced levels of oxidative stress
- Reduced monocytie chemotactic protein-1, a chemical messenger (chemokine) associated with inflammatory processes within the arteries.
- Reduced lipid accumulation in the heart muscle
- Reduced macrophage infiltration in the heart muscle
- Reduced levels of monocyte chemotactic protein-1 and fibrosis in the myocardium
- Reduced cardiac enlargement
- Reduced ECG abnormalities
How can something as benign and commonplace as a fruit extract reverse so many aspects of coronary artery disease, simultaneously, as evidenced by the study above? The answer may lie in the fact that our ancestors co-evolved with certain foods (fruits in particular) for so long that a lack of adequate quantities of these foods may directly result in deteriorating organ function. Indeed, two-time Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling argued that vitamin C deficiency is a fundamental cause of cardiovascular disease, owing to the fact that our hominid primate ancestors once had year-round access to fruits, and as a result lost the ability to synthesize it.
There’s another obvious clue as to how pomegranate may work its artery opening magic. Anyone who has ever tasted pomegranate, or consumed the juice, knows it has a remarkable astringency, giving your mouth and gums that dry, puckering mouth feel. This cleansing sensation is technically caused, as with all astringents, by shrinking and disinfecting your mucous membranes.
Anyone who drinks pomegranate juice, or is lucky enough to eat one fresh, can understand why it is so effective at cleansing the circulatory system. Nature certainly planted enough poetic visual clues there for us: its juice looks like blood, and it does resemble a multi-chambered heart, at least when you consider its appearance in comparison to most other fruits.
Indeed, your mouth and your arteries are lined with the same cell type: epithelial cells. Together, they make up the epithelium, one of four basic tissue types within animals, along with connective tissue, muscle tissue and nervous tissue, and which comprises the interior walls of the entire circulatory system. So, when you feel that amazing cleansing effect in your mouth, this is in fact akin to what your circulatory system — and the epithelium/endothelium lining the inside of your veins and arteries — “feels” as well.
The Pomegranate “Artery Cleaning” Clinical Trial
Published in Clinical Nutrition in 2004 and titled, “Pomegranate juice consumption for 3 years by patients with carotid artery stenosis reduces common carotid intima-media thickness, blood pressure and LDL oxidation,” Israeli researchers discovered pomegranate, administered in juice form over the course of a year, reversed plaque accumulation in the carotid arteries of patients with severe, though symptomless, carotid artery stenosis (defined as 70–90% blockage in the internal carotid arteries).
The study consisted of nineteen patients, 5 women and 14 men, aged 65-75, non-smokers. They were randomized to receive either pomegranate juice or placebo. Ten patients were in the pomegranate juice treatment group and 9 patients that did not consume pomegranate juice were in the control group. Both groups were matched with similar blood lipid and glucose concentrations, blood pressure, and with similar medication regimens which consisted of blood-pressure lowering (e.g. ACE inhibitors, ?-blockers, or calcium channel blockers) and lipid lowering drugs (e.g. statins).
The ten patients in the treatment group received 8.11 ounces (240 ml) of pomegranate juice per day, for a period of 1 year, and five out of them agreed to continue for up to 3 years.
The remarkable results were reported as follows:
“The mean intima media thickness the left and right common carotid arteries in severe carotid artery stenosis patients that consumed pomegranate juice for up to 1 year was reduced after 3, 6, 9 and 12 months of pomegranate juice consumption by 13%, 22%, 26% and 35%, respectively, in comparison to baseline values.”
You can only imagine what would happen if a Big Pharma drug was shown to reverse plaque build-up in the carotid arteries by 13% in just 3 months!This drug would be lauded the life-saving miracle drug, and not only would be promoted and sold successfully as a multi-billion dollar blockbuster, but discussion would inevitably follow as to why it should be mandated.
While these results are impressive, if not altogether Groundbreaking for the field of cardiology, they may be even better than revealed in the stated therapeutic outcomes above. When one factors in that the carotid artery stenosis increased 9% within 1 year in the control group, the pomegranate intervention group may have seen even better results than indicated by the measured regression in intima media thickness alone. That is, if we assume that the pomegranate group had received no treatment, the thickening of their carotid arteries would have continued to progress like the control group at a rate of 9% a year, i.e. 18% within 2 years, 27% within 3 years. This could be interpreted to mean that after 3 years of pomegranate treatment, for instance, the thickening of the arteries would have been reduced over 60% beyond what would have occurred had the natural progression of the disease been allowed to continue unabated.
3 Ways How Pomegranate Heals The Cardiovascular System
The researchers identified three likely mechanisms of action behind pomegranate’s observed anti-atherosclerotic activity:
- Antioxidant properties: Subjects receiving pomegranate saw significant reductions in oxidative stress, including decreases in autoantibodies formed against ox-LDL, a form of oxidized low density lipoprotein associated with the pathological process of atherosclerosis. Decreases in oxidative stress were measurable by an increase in the blood serum enzyme paraoxonase 1 (PON1) of up to 91% after 3 years; PON1 is an enzyme whose heightened activity is associated with lower oxidative stress. All of this is highly relevant to the question of pomegranate’s anti-atherosclerotic activity because of something called the lipid peroxidation hypothesis of atherosclerosis, which assumes that it is the quality of the blood lipids (i.e. whether they are oxidized/damaged or not), and not their quantity alone that determine their cardiotoxicity/atherogenicity. Essentially, pomegranate prevents the heart disease promoting effects of oxidative stress.
- Blood Pressure Lowering Properties: The intervention resulted in significant improvement in blood pressure: the patient’s systolic blood pressure was reduced 7%, 11% ,10%, 10% and 12% after 1, 3, 6, 9, and 12 months of pomegranate consumption, respectively, compared to values obtained before treatment. Pomegranate’s ability to reduce systolic blood pressure indicates it has a healing effect on the endothelium, or the inner lining of the artery which fails to relax fully in heart disease; a condition known as endothelial dysfunction.
- Plaque Lesion Stabilization: Because two of the ten patients on PJ (after 3 and 12 months) experienced clinical deterioration, carotid surgery was performed and the lesions were analysed to determine the difference in their composition to those who did not receive pomegranate. The researchers noticed four distinct positive differences in the composition of the pomegranate-treated lesions: 1. Reduced Cholesterol Content: “The cholesterol content in carotid lesions from the two patients that consumed PJ was lower by 58% and 20%, respectively, in comparison to lesions obtained from CAS patients that did not consume PJ (Fig. 3A).” 2. Reduced Lipid Peroxides: “[T]he lipid peroxides content in lesions obtained from the patients after PJ consumption for 3 or 12 months was significantly reduced by 61% or 44%, respectively, as compared to lesions from patients that did not consume PJ (Fig. 3B). 3. Increased Reduced Glutathione Content: “A substantial increase in the lesion reduced glutathione (GSH) content, (GSH is a major cellular antioxidant) by 2.5-fold, was observed after PJ consumption for 3 or 12 months, (Fig. 3C). 4. Reduced LDL Oxidation: “LDL oxidation by lesions derived from the patients after PJ consumption for 3 or 12 months, was significantly (Po0.01) decreased by 43% or 32%, respectively, in comparison to LDL oxidation rates obtained by lesions from CAS patients that did not consume PJ (Fig. 3D).”
Essentially these results reveal that not only does pomegranate reduce the lesion size in the carotid arteries, but “the lesion itself may be considered less atherogenic after PJ consumption, as its cholesterol and oxidized lipid content decreased, and since its ability to oxidize LDL was significantly reduced.”
This finding is quite revolutionary, as presently, the dangers of carotid artery stenosis are understood primarily through the lesion size and not by assessing for the quality of that lesion. This dovetails with the concept that the sheer quantity of lipoproteins (i.e. “cholesterol”) in the blood cannot accurately reveal whether those lipoproteins are actually harmful (atherogenic); rather, if lipoproteins are oxidized (e.g. ox-LDL) they can be harmful (or representative of a more systemic bodily imbalance), whereas non-oxidized low density lipoprotein may be considered entirely benign, if not indispensable for cardiovascular and body wide health. Indeed, in this study the researchers found the pomegranate group had increased levels of triglycerides and very low density lipoprotein, again, underscoring that the anti-atherosclerotic properties likely have more to do with the improved quality of the physiological milieu within which all our lipoproteins operate than the number of them, in and of itself.
Finally, it should be pointed out that all the patients in this study were undergoing conventional, drug-based care for cardiovascular disease, e.g. cholesterol- and blood pressure-lowering agents. Not only did the pomegranate treatment not appear to interfere with their drugs, making it a suitable complementary/adjunct therapy for those on Big Pharma medicine, but it should be pointed out that the control group’s condition got progressively worse (e.g. the mean IMT increased 9% within 1 year), speaking to just how ineffective drugs are, or how they may even contribute to the acceleration of the disease process itself.
Further Validation of Pomegranate’s Artery-Clearing Properties
Pomegranate’s value in cardiovascular health may be quiet broad, as evidenced by the following experimentally confirmed properties:
- Anti-inflammatory: Like many chronic degenerative diseases, inflammation plays a significant role in cardiovascular disease pathogenesis. There are five studies on GreenMedInfo.com indicating pomegranate’s anti-inflammatory properties.[iii]
- Blood-Pressure Lowering: Pomegranate juice has natural angiotensin converting enzyme inhibiting properties, [iv] and is a nitric oxide enhancer, two well-known pathways for reducing blood pressure. [v] Finally, pomegranate extract rich in punicalagin has been found reduce the adverse effects of perturbed stress on arterial segments exposed to disturbed flow.[vi]
- Anti-Infective: Plaque build-up in the arteries often involves secondary viral and bacterial infection, including hepatitis C and Chlamydia pneumoniae.[vii] Pomegranate has a broad range of anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties.
- Antioxidant: One of the ways in which blood lipids become heart disease-promoting (atherogenic) is through oxidation. LDL, for instance, may be technically ‘elevated’ but harmless as long as it does not readily oxidize. Pomegranate has been found to reduce the oxidative stress in the blood, as measured by serum paraoxonase levels. One study in mice found this decrease in oxidative stress was associated with 44% reduction in the size of atherosclerotic lesions. [viii]
- Ant-Infective: While it is commonly overlooked, cardiovascular disease, and more particularly atherosclerosis, is connected to infection. Dentists know this, which is why they often prescribe antibiotics following dental work which releases bacteria into systemic circulation. Plaque in the arteries can also harbour viral pathogens. Pomegranate happens to have potent antiviral and antibacterial properties relevant to cardiovascular disease initiation and progression. It has been studied to combat the following infectious organisms:
- Avian Influenza
- Escherichia Coli
- Hepatitis B
- Influenza A
- Staphylococcus auerus
- Vaccinia virus
- Vibrio (Cholera) virus
For additional research on pomegranate’s heart friendly properties read our article: Research: Pomegranate May Reverse Blocked Arteries, and to learn more about its broadly therapeutic properties read:100+ Health Properties of Pomegranate Now Includes Helping Diabetics.
Also, view our dedicated research section on reversing arterial plaque: Clogged Arteries.
[i] Aishah Al-Jarallah, Fatima Igdoura, Yi Zhang, Christine B Tenedero, Elizabeth J White, Melissa E Macdonald, Suleiman A Igdoura, Bernardo L Trigatti. The effect of pomegranate extract on coronary artery atherosclerosis in SR-BI/APOE double knockout mice.
[ii] Michael Aviram, Mira Rosenblat, Diana Gaitini, Samy Nitecki, Aaron Hoffman, Leslie Dornfeld, Nina Volkova, Dita Presser, Judith Attias, Harley Liker, Tony Hayek. Pomegranate juice consumption for 3 years by patients with carotid artery stenosis reduces common carotid intima-media thickness, blood pressure and LDL oxidation. Clin Nutr. 2004 Jun;23(3):423-33. PMID: 15158307
[iv] Mahalaxmi Mohan, Harshal Waghulde, Sanjay Kasture. Effect of pomegranate juice on Angiotensin II-induced hypertension in diabetic Wistar rats. Phytother Res. 2009 Dec 17. PMID: 20020514
[v] Filomena de Nigris, Maria Luisa Balestrieri, Sharon Williams-Ignarro, Francesco P D’Armiento, Carmela Fiorito, Louis J Ignarro, Claudio Napoli. The influence of pomegranate fruit extract in comparison to regular pomegranate juice and seed oil on nitric oxide and arterial function in obese Zucker rats. Nitric Oxide. 2007 Aug ;17(1):50-4. Epub 2007 May 5. PMID: 17553710
[vi] Filomena de Nigris, Sharon Williams-Ignarro, Vincenzo Sica, Lilach O Lerman, Francesco P D’Armiento, Russell E Byrns, Amelia Casamassimi, Daniela Carpentiero, Concetta Schiano, Daigo Sumi, Carmela Fiorito, Louis J Ignarro, Claudio Napoli. Effects of a pomegranate fruit extract rich in punicalagin on oxidation-sensitive genes and eNOS activity at sites of perturbed shear stress and atherogenesis. Cardiovasc Res. 2007 Jan 15;73(2):414-23. Epub 2006 Sep 1. PMID: 17014835
[vii] Yasunori Sawayama, Kyoko Okada, Shinji Maeda, Hachiro Ohnishi, Norihiro Furusyo, Jun Hayashi. Both hepatitis C virus and Chlamydia pneumoniae infection are related to the progression of carotid atherosclerosis in patients undergoing lipid lowering therapy. Fukuoka Igaku Zasshi. 2006 Aug;97(8):245-55. PMID: 17087362
[viii] M Aviram, L Dornfeld, M Rosenblat, N Volkova, M Kaplan, R Coleman, T Hayek, D Presser, B Fuhrman. Pomegranate juice consumption reduces oxidative stress, atherogenic modifications to LDL, and platelet aggregation: studies in humans and in atherosclerotic apolipoprotein E-deficient mice. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000 May ;71(5):1062-76. PMID: 10799367
Recommended Articles by Sayer Ji
- 5 Food-Medicines That Could Quite Possibly Save Your Life
- How WHOLE Turmeric Heals The Damaged Brain
- Research: Radiotherapy Causes Cancer, Blueberry Kills It!
- The Powerful Aspirin Alternative Your Doctor Never Told You About
- Research Reveals Plants Can Think, Choose & Remember
About the Author
Sayer Ji is the founder of Greenmedinfo.com, a reviewer at the International Journal of Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine, Co-founder and CEO of Systome Biomed, Vice Chairman of the Board of the National Health Federation, and Steering Committee Member of the Global Non-GMO Foundation.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Collective Spark or its staff.
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How To Begin Gardening For Mental Health
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.
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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