Robert’s breath had become his worst nightmare and as a consequence he knew was starting to isolate himself socially. For three years, he’d tried every over-the-counter remedy. When he walked, Tic Tacs rattled in several pockets. Robert had seen specialists, had his teeth cleaned every three months, and followed a twice-daily oral regimen that included […]
“As long as I’m trimming my daily prescription drugs,” remarked Mary, who had recently quit her cholesterol-lowering statin after shifting to healthful eating, “what about this Nexium? I admit I have some misgivings about stopping anything that seems to be working so well!”
I hear that a lot. Some patients have been taking a chronic heartburn drug for such a long time they don’t remember who prescribed it in the first place.
As the first B vitamin to be discovered, thiamin can rightly claim the name of vitamin B1. This nutrient is essential to normal growth and development. It participates in converting the carbohydrates from foods into energy and promotes proper functioning of the heart and nervous systems.
Quercetin may be a major reason why eating an apple a day has been associated with good health. Quercetin, primarily found in apples and onions, is a type of flavonoid (plant pigment) and serves as a building block for other members of the flavonoid family.
An herb prized for its medicinal benefits and distinctive flavor, peppermint (Mentha piperata) is a naturally occurring hybrid of spearmint (M. spicata) and water mint (M. aquatica). Unlike other mints, however, peppermint contains in its healing volatile oil the powerful therapeutic ingredient menthol, as well as menthone, menthyl acetate and some 40 other compounds. The oil is made by steam-distilling the plant’s aromatic leaves and stems, which are gathered just before its light-purple flowers appear in the summer.
Also known as vitamin B5, pantothenic acid is essential for a number of basic bodily functions–from growth to reproduction. It participates in the continual breakdown of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins from food, converting them into compounds the body can use. This vitamin also produces numerous enzymes and helps maintain precise communication between the central nervous system and the brain.
Since ancient times, Europeans have relied on the root of the marshmallow plant (Althea officinalis) to concoct cough and sore throat remedies. Interestingly, the “Althea” in the herb’s botanical name comes from the Greek word for “heal” or “cure.” And the plant’s common name–marshmallow–comes from the habitat that it favors: marshes and other damp environments.
Lecithin is a fatty substance manufactured in the body and widely found in many animal- and plant-based foods, including eggs, liver, peanuts, soybeans, and wheat germ. Lecithin is often used as an additive in such processed foods as ice cream, margarine, and salad dressings, because it helps blend (or emulsify) fats with water. Lecithin is also available in supplement form.
Although it appears in grains such as barley and corn, gamma-oryzanol is extracted from rice bran oil for commercial purposes. In Japan, this concentrated mixture of ferulic acid and other compounds is commonly added to foods and beverages. The bulk of research on gamma-oryzanol’s health benefits has been done in Japan, although supplements are now available in the United States as well.
Digestive enzymes are proteins specially tailored to break down foods into nutrients that your body can then readily digest. The human body produces some 22 different digestive enzymes. Many more are found in the fruits, vegetables, meats, grains, and other foods we eat. A number of digestive enzymes, from both plants and animals, are also sold as supplements.
Bromelain is the name of a group of powerful protein-digesting, or proteolytic, enzymes that are found in the pineapple plant (Ananas comosus). Discovered in 1957, and widely studied since then, bromelain is particularly useful for reducing muscle and tissue inflammation and as a digestive aid. Supplements are made from enzymes found in the pineapple stem.
A succulent perennial plant belonging to the lily family, aloe vera grows wild in Madagascar and large portions of the African continent. Because of its many therapeutic uses, it is now commercially cultivated in the United States, Japan, and countries in the Caribbean and Mediterranean. Many individuals also grow aloe as a houseplant.
Among the many distasteful TV commercials for prescription drugs, my least favorite are the ones for people with heartburn. Although some people do have a legitimate problem with the valve between their esophagus and stomach, most heartburn is simple overindulgence.