One of the bonuses of being a westerner living in a tropical country is also coming across and learning more about the traditional medicine … Mystic names , exciting stories and the pleasant odors and flavors , is always what attracts !
Beside the older acquaintances , already part of the common palette – like Goji berries , or Ginseng – Ashwagandha is a new comer on the list of perpetual discovering and learning .
Known as one of the most powerful herbs in Ayurvedic healing , Ashwagandha has been used since ancient times for a wide variety of conditions , and is most well- known for its restorative benefits .
Known also with other names such as Withania somnifera ( the Latin , scientific name ) , or Poison gooseberry , or Winter cherry – in Sanskrit , the meaning of Ashawagandha doesn’t sound too attractive at all . The name “The smell of a horse” however indicates that the herb certainly imparts the vigor and strength of a stallion , reason why it has traditionally been prescribed to help people strengthen their immune system after an illness .
Ashwagandha is frequently referred to as the “Indian Ginseng” due to its rejuvenating properties , even if – botanically speaking – , Ginseng and Ashwagandha are totally unrelated .
Belonging to the same family Solanaceae as the tomato , Ashwagandha is a plump shrub with oval leaves and yellow flowers and it bears orange/red fruits about the size of a raisin . The herb is native to the dry regions of India , northern Africa , and the Middle East , and today is also grown in more mild climates including the United States .
Why do people use Ashawagandha ?
Do any of the following symptoms sound familiar to you ? Stress … Fatigue …. Lack of energy …. Difficulty in concentration …..
The use of this Ayurvedic herb can help alleviate all these symptoms and support as well energetic and rejuvenating sense of wellbeing .
The Benefits and Healing Effects
Ashwagadha contains many useful medicinal chemicals , including withanolides ( a type of steroidal lactones ) , alkaloids , choline , fatty acids , amino acids , and a variety of sugars .
While the leaves and fruit have valuable therapeutic properties , the root of Ashwagandha plant is the part most commonly used in the Westerns herbal remedies .
The medical researchers are studying with great interest Ashwagandha for years and have completed more than 200 studies referring to the healing benefits of this plant . Some of the key examples of the healing properties of Ashwagandha are listed below :
- Protects the immune system
- Helps combat the effects of stress
- Improves learning , memory , and reaction time
- Reduces anxiety and depression without causing drowsiness
- Helps reduce the brain-cell degeneration
- Fosters healthy sleep patterns
- Stabilizes the blood sugar levels
- Helps lower the cholesterol
- Thickens and increases the nutritive value of milk in nursing mothers
- Offers anti-inflammatory properties , thus being used successfully in the treatment of burns and wounds
- Supports healthy back and joints
- Contains anti-malarial properties
- Protects the liver , reduces constipation , and cures hypothyroidism
- Enhances sexual potency for both men and women
- The seeds and fruits are diuretic in nature
Ashwagandha as an adaptogenic herb
In the Ayurvedic medicine , there are specific herbs considered as having adaptogenic benefits .
Adaptogens are considered any compounds , herbs or practices that lead to the stabilization of the physiological processes and which promote homeostasis . In the herbal medicine , the use of different herbs as adaptogens is already very popular with far-reaching claims of increasing the longevity , libido , and well-being – on one side – or helping the body to cope with external stresses such as toxins in the environment or internal stresses such as anxiety or insomnia ( two of the manifestations so common in the modern times ) Most of the studies on adaptogens were performed by The Soviet Union , Korea and China .
According to the Ayurvedic principles , our bodies are woven from food we eat . The nutrients we ingest are metabolized into the energy and the information that form our cells , tissues , and organs . Every day , our bodies need essential vitamins , minerals , or other nutrients in order to maintain our body’s delicate balance . That’s why , taking an Ashwagandha supplement is a highly effective way to create that balance .
The berries are commonly used as a substitute for rennet in the cheese making process .
Ashwagandha has become of interest of many researchers and it still grows in popularity
Himalayan salt , known also as the Pink salt , is now becoming more and more popular among the health-conscious people .
It is all natural , abundant in essential minerals and found to be much better for the body compared to the common table salt , or the sea salt !
But , let’s take a closer look into what Himalayan Salt really is – its properties , benefits for health and uses .
Originated from the high altitudes of the Himalayan Mountain Range in Pakistan , the pink Himalayan salt is formed from the ancient sea beds crystalized during the Jurassic era . Being kept in an unspoiled environment protected by lava rocks , the salt is believed to be the purest salt available . Truly natural and uniquely beautiful , the salt boasts a translucent and gorgeous rose pink tint , indicating its rich iron and mineral content .
In present , Khewra Salt Mine ( or Mayo Salt Mine ) in Pakistan is the world second largest and the oldest salt mine . It is said to be discovered by Alexander the Great , when , with his army stopped for a rest , his horse started licking the stones on the ground . Soon , the soldiers noted that all horses were doing the same , they also tried and found the rocks to be quite salty . And , that’s how the KHewra salt deposits had been discovered .
Today , some 2330 years later , covering an area of 110 sq.km , 228 to 748 feet deep , the mine has over 40 kilometers of tunnels on 11 separate stories and is already a popular tourist destination . Tourists will be amazed seeing a small Badshahi Mosque built out there , or , more recently small salt versions of the Great Wall of China , and the Mall road of Murree that they can visit . At times , the many colors and bricks of light give the mine a sort of disco-Yellow-Brick-Road look .
The Khewra salt mine has its own fully functioning postal office , and a local grocery where people can taste and buy of the various kinds of reddish or pink rock salt .
According to the scientific studies , Himalayan salt is by far the only kind of salt that offers the largest number of natural minerals ( 84 of the 99 natural known elements ) . The elements the Meadow lists as found in Himalayan salt , in addition to sodium and chloride , in alphabetical order are : actinium , aluminum , antimony , arsenic , astatine , barium , beryllium , bismuth , boron , bromine , cadmium , calcium , carbon , cerium , cesium , chromium , cobalt , copper , dysprosium , erbium , europium fluorine , francium , gadolinium , gallium , germanium , gold , hafnium , holmium , hydrogen , indium , iodine ,iridium , iron , lanthanum , lead , lithium , lutetium , magnesium , manganese , mercury , molybdenum , neodymium , neptunium , nickel , niobium , nitrogen , osmium , oxygen , palladium , phosphorus , platinum , plutonium , polonium , potassium , praseodymium , protactinium , radium , rhenium , rhodium , rubidium , ruthenium , samarium , scandium , selenium , silicon , silver , strontium , sulfur , tantalum , tellurium , terbium thallium , thorium , thulium , tin , titanium , uranium , vanadium , wolfram , ytthrium , yttrium, terbium , thallium , thorium , thulium , tin , titanium , uranium , vanadium , wolfram , yttrium , zinc and zirconium .
These trace elements help in maintaining homeostasis , stimulating blood circulation , detoxifying the body , dissolving kidney and gall stones , as well as treating psoriasis .
Himalayan salt has been used to help detoxify the body in the form of brine treatment , most commonly done in the form of a bath .
Himalayan salt is most commonly found as coarse grains , fine grains , or large blocks making it perfect for cooking and seasoning as well in any of the forms . Salt blocks can be used as serving platters that delicately “season” the food they serve . They make a gorgeous presentation for sushi , savory tapas , grilled meats , seafood , and even fruits . Simple and easy to use , they only need to be wiped clean with damp cloth .
The more common way to enjoy the salt is by simply sprinkling it on your favorite soups , pastas , and sauces . Rubbing it on meat also helps to reduce the gamey taste and aroma and makes it an excellent food preservation method .
Besides flavoring the food , gargling with a mixture of Himalayan salt and water every morning can improve gum health and eliminate bad breath .
More recently , in a world overrun with stress and anxiety – like the world of the times we are living in – the benefits of the Himalayan salt in the form of salt lamps are becoming more and more clear as having a great impact on health . As an agent able to clean the air around or by increasing the emission of negative ions , increasing the oxygen flow in the brain , and fighting diseases – these lamps become a simple solution to bolster your health , lower the anxiety levels and protect you from the damaging effects of the technology surrounding us – like cellphones , laptops , televisions , or microwaves – making you feel really rejuvenated .
It’s unbelievable how much power the food has !
Food actually has the ability to cause diseases or prevent them .
Whatever we might be – adults or children – if we aren’t getting the essential nutrients we need from healthy foods , our bodies will react negatively . And , because everyone’s genetics and biochemical make-up is so unique , what’s considered healthy for you it just might not be as healthy for someone else ( Translating this into practice , the food that seems to be healthy for you as an adult , might not show to be the same for your child as well ! )
For instance , nightshades and citrus fruits are usually considered healthy . They are whole foods from the Earth that are packed with nutrients , right ?
But , here’s the thing : If your child has a citrus food allergy or is sensitive to nightshade vegetables ( like potatoes , tomatoes or peppers ) , it’s definitely not a good idea to eat them .
The inflammation that happens as a result will eventually lead to health issues – including the typical ADHD-like behaviors .
Every day , many of us – including our kids- just deal with those common ailments from food allergies .
We have things like dry skin , canker sores , nausea , headaches , diarrhea , constipation , eczema , ear infections , seasonal allergies and asthma , and we think it’s just a normal part of life . But , none of these issues are normal at all . In fact , they are simply our first clues that something is not right on the inside .
Most often , if our issue isn’t caused by an inflammation imbalance from food allergies , it can be as a result of yeast overgrowth , unhealthy gut flora , high toxicity levels , nutrient deficiencies , or any combination of these .
Most of the conventional doctors have been trained to label symptoms and treat them with some sort of medication . But this does nothing to address to the root cause . And most often it doesn’t do a whole lot of good for the symptoms either . Plus , most of the time , the side effects are just ridiculous .
These days , our kids are prescribed drugs when the specific nutrients are all they need !
It just so happens with the ADHD – in which the behaviors mimic perfectly the symptoms of some major vitamin , mineral , antioxidant , and essential fatty acid deficiencies .
Could your child be suffering from something so simply ?
Here are the major nutrient deficiencies commonly found in kids labeled with ADHD .
Magnesium deficiency is one of the most common in people with ADHD .
The symptoms mimic the symptoms of ADHD . Things like excessive fidgeting , tantrums , social difficulties , restlessness , insomnia , irritability , aggressiveness , poor attention span , coordination problems and learning difficulties ( even in a person with a normal IQ )
One Polish study found that 95% of the children they were testing for ADHD were deficient in magnesium . Those with lower levels of the mineral , showed more severe symptoms of hyperactivity . After supplementing with 200 mg of magnesium for six months , hyperactivity was reduced significantly . The behavior of those who didn’t receive magnesium worsened .
You may want to consider feeding your child more magnesium rich foods , like : pumpkin / sunflower seeds , cashews , or almonds . You could also try giving the kid a children’s magnesium supplement . In many studies , vitamin B6 was needed along with magnesium to see improvement in the ADHD symptoms .
2 B – COMPLEX VITAMINS
A kid’s mental and emotional state are critically dependent on vitamin B in the diet .
Type B vitamins , especially B6 and B12 , are vital to the development of the nervous system and the production of neurotransmitters in the brain . They are also responsible for blood sugar regulation . And we all know the negative effects sugar seems to have in the kids .
Symptoms of Vitamin B deficiency include : forgetfulness , short attention spans , irritability , confusion and rage .
Again , all very similar to ADHD symptoms !
All other B-Complex vitamins have important jobs to do too ( including improving the absorption of other nutrients into the body )
Eat things like : fish , beans , spinach , asparagus , broccoli and bell peppers . There are kids that really like snacking the sweet mini peppers .
Sometimes we are so quick to offer chicken nuggets or hot dogs because they are socially accepted as “kid-friendly” foods , but we should remember also all other dangerous ingredients they contain and instead , give the kids a chance to taste what’s good for health ! The promise is they will really like those things you never would have expected .
( Have you ever tasted hummus ?! I simply love it ! Some kids also make this healthy choice and would like to eat a full container if they are left to …. Thankfully , hummus contains three important B vitamins ! )
You could also consider adding a B-complex supplement to your kid’s diet .
- ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS
Almost all of us are deficient in Omega-3’s and don’t have a proper Omega-3/Omega 6 ratio. This imbalance leads to all sort of health issues – ADHD included .
Plus , the conversion of essential fats into DHA , AA and EPA can be inhibited by certain foods like wheat and dairy . The conversion is also blocked by other vitamin and mineral deficiencies like B , C , Zinc and Magnesium .
Research from Purdue University discovered that kids with ADHD are not getting an adequate amount of nutrients required for essential fatty acid conversion and as a result have low levels of EPA , DHA and AA . The Omega-3 and Omega-6 or GLA supplementation helped reduce ADHD symptoms . Other research studies have also confirmed this fact .
On the list of the most favorite sources of Omega 3 that provide a healthy ratio of all the essential fatty acids , could be included among others : flaxseeds , walnuts , salmon , olive oil , and broccoli
Functional medicine practitioner Dr. Mark Hayman tells us that “Low zinc levels are associated with lowered immunity , poor heavy metal detoxification , and ADHD” .
Maybe your child eats plenty of foods rich in zinc ( like spinach , seafood , nuts and beans ) , but sometimes nutrients get wiped out by other things . Especially the processed foods , white breads , refined sugar , and even many medications like antibiotics , are found to be the culprit .
Dr. Neil Ward discovered an interesting fact about the disruptive effect the antibiotics have on kids with ADHD . Dr. Ward found that antibiotics not only wipe out beneficial bacteria in the gut , they also impair the absorption of nutrients . Most kids Dr. Ward studied , who were labeled with ADHD , had several antibiotics in their early years . After much research , he proved that kids who had taken at least three doses of antibiotics before the age of three , had much lower levels of zinc , calcium , chromium and selenium .
A zinc imbalance can interfere with proper neurotransmitter function in the brain . Especially the pathways in the brain that affect the behavior . Dr. Mercola on the other side , suggests that “Adding zinc to the diets of teenagers has even been shown to cause improvements in memory and attention span”
Whatever stage you are in schooling – from Pre Kinder or College student – feel motivated then to “Zinc It Up” with such foods as : cashews , coconut , pumpkin seeds , sunflower seeds – or green vegetables as : spinach , chard , or broccoli ! You’ll certainly TOP UP !
Unless you’re a chemistry buff and know everything about the central nervous system , this stuff can get a bit confusing . But , in general , the neurotransmitters in the brain depend largely on amino acids from proteins . All 20 essential amino acids have an important job to do .
The amino acid deficiencies are common in kids with ADHD ( especially DMAE ( dimethylenoamine ) , 5-HTP ( 5-hydorxytryptophan ) , L-thiamine , tyrosine , GABA , L-glutamine , serine , tryptophan , glycine , taurine , and L-thearine , an amino acid found in tea ) . These amino acids have been specifically linked to our mood and behaviors . Without them , or without enough or them , we will experience irritability , depression , nervousness , anxiety , inability to focus , impulsiveness , hyperactivity , etc. Yet again , these are all very similar to the symptoms of the kids labeled with ADHD ) .
It is important to understand that every part of our body’s chemical composition works together as a team . For example , vitamin B6 converts tryptophan into serotonin . But what happens when you aren’t getting enough vitamin B6 ? You obviously won’t be able to convert tryptophan into serotonin . Look out , not enough serotonin could mean you will turn into Oscar the Grouch !
Each and every vitamin , mineral , antioxidant , amino acid and fatty acid from our food , all need and depend on each another to do a list of jobs in order to keep our bodies working well .
Aim to eat a fully balanced diet , and you can be sure you already provided the body the full range of amino acids needed !
- VITAMIN D
The Vitamin D Council estimates that 9 out of 10 people are deficient in vitamin D . It’s a very important nutrient that we rarely can get from food . Just like the plants , it’s the sunlight we need !
Vitamin D helps boost the antioxidants responsible for good health of the brain . It also produces dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain , compounds which many of the ADHD medications aim to provide . Vitamin D helps produce enzymes that are in charge of making brain chemicals necessary for our ability to focus , especially for long periods of time ..
Although Vitamin D deficiency might not be the one reason for the child having ADHD symptoms , it may definitely be a factor , and it is very common in children who have been labeled with this disorder . But , as it usually occurs , when one deficiency is present – there are certainly more of them around the corner .
GARBAGE IN = GARBAGE OUT !
Most of the times , the nutrients from food are way underrated . They should be instead the main reason why we eat food ( but unfortunately , most of the times we eat because we are hungry , not because we want to prevent diseases …. )
We have to start thinking of our food as a tool for our health and well-being – instead of the entertainment at the party . We need greens , fruits , vegetables , beans , nuts , seeds , fish , herbs , spices , healthy fats and a limited amount of organic grass-fed meat and poultry . If everyone would be loyal to a diet like this , there would be far fewer cases of common health issues – ADHD included .
Usually it’s cool to treat your taste buds once in a while , but most of the time , taste is just a bonus ! The functional medicine is the key ! The functional medicine doctors know the power that lies in food and nutrition and , if you are lucky to have one in your area , the best thing to do is to grab the opportunity right away . They will be able to determine if the child has any nutritional imbalances or food allergies . A blood test with be able to check as well for sensitivities to large range of foods . By focusing on a healthy anti-inflammatory diet and a healthy gut flora , while removing the toxins , identifying the food sensitivities , and bringing into the diet the right nutrients , these doctors can certainly help curing a nasty kind of “disease” such as ADHD !