Protect your gums and your brain with K2

Has it ever occurred to you that the overall picture of your dental health is really a reflection of your physical health? That’s the premise of Dr. Steven Lin, a dentist who uses a holistic approach and who says less-than-stellar oral health results from issues in other parts of your body.

According to Lin, if people view their mouth as the “gatekeeper” of their gut and keep their microbiome balanced and healthy, the positive results will show themselves in a healthy mouth — teeth, gums and all — and a healthier body overall.

By all means, brush your teeth after meals and floss daily, but besides looking at your teeth and your microbiome, Lin suggests that the next thing to look at is the content of your kitchen cabinets and refrigerator or, more precisely, the foods you put in them and subsequently into your mouth. Maintaining a healthy diet that includes enough vitamin K2 will benefit your teeth and gums from the inside out.

In fact, using this approach with children could ensure they grow up without such issues and even develop naturally straight teeth. For adults, focusing on the gut first could mean never having to get fillings, not to mention other dental procedures many dentists and orthodontists insist on as a matter of course.

One of the biggest problems people have in regard to gum disease is that they’re lacking in vitamin K2, aka menaquinone, which causes bleeding gums. Over time, it could mean the loss of gums and bone. But even if you begin supplying more K2 to your body, unfortunately, your gums and bone don’t grow back.

Finding the key in vitamin K2 ended up changing Lin’s approach to dentistry. In fact, Lin says it’s all related to vitamin K2, both inside and outside your teeth. He shows how gun disease can be prevented and how it can be stopped in its tracks — if it’s caught early enough — and why it’s important to cure the cause, not just treat the symptoms.

What is periodontal disease?

Lin describes his bewilderment when some patients who cleaned their teeth faithfully nevertheless suffered worsening gum disease. He began wondering if the cause went beyond just plaque build-up on teeth. The bottom line is this:

“Gum disease (periodontal disease) is a long-term chronic disease. It’s an inflammatory condition that often progresses without response to treatment. While small amounts of gum regeneration may be possible and surgical options are there, the broad answer is that it’s irreversible.”1

The term periodontium refers to two structures that comprise your gums: the cementum and the alveolar bone. Merriam-Webster2 describes the periodontal ligament (PDL) as the fibrous connective tissue layer that covers the cementum of a tooth and holds it in place in the jawbone. This is the area the disease attacks, and it occurs in stages:

  • Mild periodontitis — Gingivitis or bleeding gums
  • Moderate periodontitis — Loss of ligament attachment, pocketing or receding gums
  • Severe periodontitis — Alveolar bone loss and deep gum pocketing
  • Advanced periodontitis — Loose, mobile teeth and tooth loss

It’s clear that people who experience the first stages of gum disease are given fair warning when their gums begin bleeding, usually while brushing their teeth. Over time, perhaps a shorter time for some than others, the disease results in lost teeth.

Your gingiva is the part of your gum around the base of your teeth, which is why the first signs of gum disease, such as redness, inflammation and often pain, is called gingivitis. But what many don’t realize is that gum disease is inflammation-based, and vitamin K2 can make all the difference.

How K2 and vitamin D help your teeth, gums and more

More specifically, it signals a “loss of tolerance between your oral microbiome”3 and an unbalanced immune system. Bleeding gums are also connected to your vitamin D status. Vitamin K2 is a cofactor for vitamin D and calcium to support bone health, but it also helps reduce inflammation and the factors involved with gum disease by:

  • Decreasing the production of inflammatory markers
  • Regulating immune cells that cause inflammation
  • Decreasing fibroblast cells

Vitamin K2 and vitamin D (along with calcium and magnesium) have a synergistic relationship. Calcium strengthens your bones and enhances overall skeletal health, but only works when it gets to the right place. Vitamin K2 directs calcium into the bone and prevents it from being deposited along blood vessel walls. According to Lin, K2 mediates gum inflammation two ways:

“It decreases fibroblasts known to fuel the gum disease process. In the healing process, fibroblasts act to form scar tissue. But in gum disease, their action is harmful and could advance the calcification of periodontal ligament — an early sign of gum disease.

It activates Matrix GLA protein: This Vitamin K2 dependent protein has been shown to prevent the calcification of the periodontal ligament. Many studies have shown that Vitamin K2 has the same anti-calcification effects around the body, including in the heart, kidneys and prostate.”4

Matrix GLA protein, as explained in one study,5 is important because it inhibits calcification. To that end, there are other vital nutrients that work with K2 to promote oral health.

For example, human gingival fibroblasts (HGFs) are described in a Japanese study6 as the most abundant structural cell in periodontal tissue. Other research shows that HGFs may act as “accessory” immune cells7 that work to amplify immune responses to lipopolysaccharides,8 which are found in the outer membranes of infection-causing bacteria that cause inflammation and promote tissue destruction.

Another substance that quells inflammation is Coenzyme Q10, also known as CoQ10, which is produced in your body naturally. One study notes that CoQ10 “decreased oxidative DNA damage and tartrate-resistant acid-phosphatase-positive osteoclasts in the periodontal tissue”9 while suppressing inflammation.

The role vitamin K2 plays in your brain

Probably the most obvious way K2 makes such a difference in your oral health, then, is the way it works with vitamin D to help reduce all that inflammation and to regulate immune cells. In your brain, it may help prevent heart disease, cardiac embolism and stroke10 because matrix-GLA protein benefits both your brain and your heart.

Another way it expresses itself is through your central and peripheral nervous systems; it may even be an antioxidant in your brain, one study observes. Conversely, research shows how the drug warfarin can reduce vitamin K2 in your system:

“The relationship between vitamin K status and cognitive abilities needs to be further investigated. Notably, and despite the methodological challenges that such studies entail, it would be important to determine the long-term effect of warfarin therapy on cognitive abilities.

A potent anti-vitamin K agent, warfarin is widely prescribed for the prophylaxis and treatment of thromboembolic conditions … As individuals treated with warfarin are in a relative state of vitamin K deficiency, they could be at higher risk of cognitive problems based on the actions of vitamin K in the nervous system.”11

Vitamin K2, working with K1, seems to enhance the effects of glutathione to prevent nerve cell death as well as brain damage.12 K2 also may be significant in its role of preventing neurodegenerative damage by preventing both oxidative stress and brain inflammation.13

Lin notes that low vitamin K2 appears to negatively influence incidences of Alzheimer’s disease14 and, overall, either eating adequate K2 or taking it in supplement form is important for preventing degenerative disease and promoting optimal brain function.15

One of the effects of being vitamin K2 deficient is that it produces the symptoms of vitamin D toxicity, which includes inappropriate calcification of soft tissues that can lead to atherosclerosis.16

Osteocalcin — Crucial in healing gum disease

Lin says the first order of business in halting gum disease is calming the immune system, and at the first sign of bleeding gums, your vitamin K2 intake should increase. This is because your ability to repair damage from gum disease is dependent on the release of vitamin K2-activated proteins.

That’s where osteocalcin comes in. Osteocalcin17 is a protein hormone found in bone and dentin. Gum tissue releases it where there’s inflammation and gum disease, particularly in postmenopausal women.18 In fact, it’s crucial for your body’s ability to heal gum disease.

If you’re deficient in vitamin K2, your body may release osteocalcin, but it won’t be active. Osteocalcin also increases your insulin sensitivity,19 so Type 2 diabetes and advanced gum disease are both associated with this protein. According to Lin:

“Vitamin K2 has a critical role in bone loss in both gum disease and osteoporosis. Vitamin K2 inhibits bone loss through resorption by inducing osteoclast apoptosis. The severity of bone loss in gum disease is worse in the presence of osteoporosis.”20

Lin says that while further studies are needed, gum disease and vitamin K2 are linked because K2 is a central mediator in inflammation, immune regulation, matrix-GLA protein and osteocalcin. Anyone noticing bleeding gums or advanced stages of gum disease can consider taking vitamin K2 supplements, but also to begin eating more foods that will help supply it.

How to get more vitamin K2

Foods with significant amounts of vitamin K2 are rare, Lin adds, so you need to be intentional about it because you’re probably not eating enough. It’s important to know that how foods that contain K2 are treated and prepared because this makes a difference in the amount that is ultimately made available to your body.

With that in mind, Lin explains that if K2 is derived from animals, they must be pasture raised. Brie and Gouda cheese, for instance, are particularly high in K2, as is grass fed butter or ghee and organic, pastured eggs. Lin’s partial list of K2-rich meats21 include:

  • 2 to 2 oz. of pastured chicken, duck or goose liver pate
  • 6 to 12 oz. of pastured chicken legs or thigh meat
  • 2 to 3 slices of organic, grass fed beef or lamb liver

One reason you want to choose only pastured beef is because if cows are fed soy or grains, they won’t get K1, which means they won’t be able to convert it to K2. If cows eat “dead” hay that no longer has the proper nutrients, they may not produce K2-rich dairy products. In addition, Lin says:

“One dozen eggs a day from caged hens won’t supply enough K2 for your daily requirement, whereas two to four eggs a day from pasture-raised hens may provide adequate K2 … Fermented foods also provide a different form of vitamin K2, however it needs to be cultured properly and then stored in a refrigerator, not pasteurized or contaminated. Today we eat far less fermented food rich in Vitamin K2.”22

In the plant world, leafy greens are an excellent source of vitamin K1, and your choices come from more than just types of lettuce. They extend to turnip greens, mustard greens, collard greens, beet greens and, of course, spinach and kale.

Needless to say, though, organic greens are optimal choice, in light of information from the Environmental Working Group’s 2019 Dirty Dozen23 list: The plant-based foods with the heaviest toxic load from pesticide overspray include spinach and kale in the No. 1 and No. 2 spots.

For vitamin K2, however,24 nattokinase (natto), which is fermented soy, is one vegetarian source of vitamin K2. Fermentation removes the disadvantages associated with eating raw or cooked soy. Other good sources of K2 include vegetables fermented at home using a starter culture of vitamin K2-producing bacteria.

If you think you may not be getting enough vitamin K2, besides eating grass fed raw dairy products, meat, eggs and fermented foods, supplementing is another option, but it should be menaquinone-7, or MK-7, a form of vitamin K2, which stays in your liver and helps support strong bones, but also helps reduce incidences of heart disease and cancer.25

I recommend getting around 150 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin K2 per day, although others recommend slightly more, such as 180 to 200 mcg per day.

Homeopathy for asthma

Asthma is a chronic condition affecting the airways. Inflammation makes your airways swell, triggering wheezing, shortness of breath and coughing. Symptoms may range from mild to severe and may happen rarely or every day. For most people, the condition starts during childhood and becomes a lifelong condition.

The goal of conventional medicine is to manage symptoms and avoid exacerbations, which are called asthma attacks. According to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),1 7.9% of adults and children currently hold a diagnosis of asthma.

The children’s age group most affected is 5- to 14-year-olds, of whom 9.7% have asthma. Boys have a greater incidence than girls, but women have a greater incidence than men. Conventional treatment2 is aimed at managing symptoms to allow the individual the ability to engage in normal everyday activities, and realistically is only a stopgap measure.

The types of treatments used will depend upon age, severity and response to the treatment option. Many with asthma use daily medication for long-term control and short-term relief inhalers during an asthma attack. In addition to identifying environmental factors triggering asthma attacks, homeopathic treatments may offer enough relief to reduce or eliminate pharmaceutical drugs.

However, while asthma is amenable to homeopathic treatment, the British Homeopathic Association3 recommends treatment with a homeopathic professional and not self-treatment to find the best remedies for your specific condition.

History of homeopathy

The practice of homeopathy was popular in the U.S. and Europe in the 1800s. Some of its strongest advocates were European royalty, American entrepreneurs and literary giants. However, while gaining popularity, it has become the object of opposition from established Western medicine.4

Homeopathy began with the discoveries of Samuel Hahnemann, a German physician who coined the word homeopathy to refer to pharmacological principles. The basis is a “law of similars,” previously described by Hippocrates and utilized in many cultures, including the Mayan, Chinese, Greek and Native American cultures.

By the time Hahnemann was 24 he could read and write in at least seven languages and ultimately translated over 20 major medical textbooks. The premise Hahnemann worked under was identifying small doses of compounds triggering biological changes.5

Coincidentally, in 1798 the discovery of giving small doses of cowpox to immunize against smallpox was generally accepted, while Hahnemann’s work was not.

Many of the initial practitioners in homeopathy graduated from prestigious medical schools, yet orthodox medicine was threatened because homeopathic practitioners offered an integrated and systematic approach for therapeutic practice and were sharply critical of the use of conventional drugs.

Homeopaths believed masking an individual’s symptom, as opposed to treating the underlying condition, could create deeper and more serious disease,6 which history has shown to be the true in many cases. By 1882 the American Medical Association (AMA) had purged their ranks of all homeopathic practitioners.

They also established a code of ethics asserting any physician would lose their membership if they even consulted with a homeopath. At the time, without membership in a local medical society a physician no longer had a license to practice medicine.

Despite this oppression, the practice thrived in the 1800s and early 1900s. However, while popular among the rich and poor alike,7 the most likely reason it survived was the success homeopathic treatment enjoyed in treating infectious epidemic diseases during the 1800s.

Basics of homeopathy

Statistics showed the death rate in homeopathic hospitals were one-half to one-eighth those found in orthodox medical hospitals. In 1849 during the cholera epidemic, Cincinnati homeopaths were so successful they published a list of those who were cured and those who died. Only 3% of their patient population died while from 48% to 60% of those under orthodox medical treatment died.8

After the 1900s, the AMA became increasingly effective at suppressing the practice and by 1910 the Carnegie Foundation issued the infamous Flexner Report, an evaluation of medical schools. The report gave homeopathic colleges poor ratings based in part on faculty who continued in clinical practice and schools offering courses in pharmacology, which was not considered worthwhile.

As a result, those who graduated from schools without a high rating were not allowed to take the medical licensing examination. The decline of homeopathic practice may also have been associated with poor economic viability as it demands more time with the patient.9

In Hahnemann’s practice, he based treatment on the totality of symptoms and prescribed one medication at a time. However, as the practice of homeopathy progressed, others prescribed medicines for specific symptoms as opposed to the underlying condition.

Currently, homeopathic remedies are essentially nanomedicines. The premise on which homeopathic treatments have been made for over a century is that the more diluted the remedy, the more effective it becomes. These nano doses may penetrate the blood-brain barrier and cellular membranes with greater ease, without triggering a defense mechanism.10

Additionally, there are no side effects and no adverse reactions. To date there are more than 300 double-blind placebo-controlled trials on homeopathy published in peer review medical journals, including:

The Lancet11

BMJ (British Medical Journal)12,13

Chest (the publication of the American College of Chest Physicians)14

Pediatrics (publication of the American Academy of Pediatrics)15

Cancer (journal of the American Cancer Society)16

Pediatrics Infectious Disease Journal (publication of the European Society of Pediatric Infectious Diseases)17

European Journal of Pediatrics (publication of the Swiss Society of Pediatrics and the Belgium Society of Pediatrics)18

Asthma affects millions

The exact cause of asthma is unknown, and it may vary from person to person. Researchers believe it is the result of a strong immune response to an allergen in the environment, such as seasonal proteins or pet dander. These make their way into the airway, where the immune system reacts strongly.

According to Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America,19 African-Americans in the U.S. die from asthma at a higher rate than people of other ethnicities. It is the leading chronic disease in children and the top reason children miss school days. In 2013, 13.8 million school days were missed that could be attributed to asthma.

Every day, 10 Americans will die from asthma, and many of those deaths may be avoidable with proper treatment and care. Adults are four times more likely to die from an asthma attack than a child, and women are more likely to die than men. According to the CDC,20 the economic burden of asthma is greater than $80 billion per year in medical expenses, days missed from work and school, and death.

However, researchers believe these numbers are likely higher21 as data only included individuals treated for asthma, defining this as having at least one medical encounter for asthma or prescription filled within the calendar year. Additionally, the information in the study did not account for nonmedical costs such as transportation and diminished productivity at work or school.

Signs and symptoms of asthma include chest tightness, coughing, shortness of breath and wheezing, which triggers a whistling sound as you exhale. Attacks may happen suddenly and may be life-threatening.22

Symptoms may get worse with viral infections, can be triggered by exercise, allergies, cold air or hyperventilation, and may be worse at night or early in the morning. Those living with asthma may find their symptoms increase and decrease over time, or even within the same day.

Homeopathic remedies for asthma

Your homeopathic professional will identify a remedy to help your body reduce or eliminate breathing difficulties associated with asthma. As a result, you may expect to spend about an hour with your homeopathic practitioner as they determine the best medications to try first. Homeopathic remedies commonly prescribed for asthma include:23,24,25,26,27,28

Ipecacuanha — Prescribed for sudden wheezing and cough with constant gagging and vomiting, the medication is from a creeping shrub, Cephaelis ipecacuanha, native to Brazil. Patients presenting with a chest rattle, symptoms worsening in warm humid weather or heat, sweating, feeling clammy or nauseous may benefit.

Arsenic album — This may be prescribed for difficulty breathing at night, thirstiness accompanied by frequently sipping water and anxiety related to breathing difficulty. The person may feel exhausted but restless and anxious. They have more difficulty breathing while lying down and symptoms are usually more intense between midnight and 2 a.m.

Natrum sulphuricum — This is prescribed for asthma occurring in damp weather when the patient is reporting thick, green sputum.

Nux vomica — This is prescribed for asthma symptoms that happen with an upset stomach; attacks are worse in the morning, after eating or during dry weather.

Lobelia inflata — This is prescribed when there is over inflation of the lungs and shortness of breath out of proportion to wheezing. It may be triggered by anxiety, leading to working unnecessarily hard to breathe, or in smokers.

Asthma attacks during labor and delivery may be helped with Lobelia inflata. Those who get relief also find cold, damp weather tends to make their asthma worse, while slow, deep breathing makes it better.

Antimonium tartaricum — This has traditionally been used as an emetic, inducing vomiting. Doses used in homeopathy are infinitesimally small and this may be used with some benefit in children and the elderly when the symptoms are associated with an infection and a lot of mucous. Other symptoms may include respiration that is rapid and difficult, and mucus that is expelled with difficulty.

Sambucus nigra — The extract from the elderberry is also used as an antiviral. In homeopathy it may be beneficial to those who feel like they are suffocating at night or whose symptoms are worse between midnight and 3 a.m.

Natrum sulphuricum — This is useful in children and adults in asthma symptoms worse near 4 a.m., during damp weather and before menstruation.

Pulsatilla — This may used when asthma symptoms appear when the person gets warm or eats rich foods. Yellow-colored mucus with gagging and choking and tightness in the chest in the evening or night relieved by cool fresh air may indicate you will benefit from Pulsatilla.

Spongia tosta — When there is a hard, barking, dry cough associated with the asthma it is a strong indication for this remedy. The person may find warm drinks are helpful or sitting up with the head tilted backward. The symptoms are more common before midnight at night.

Balanced omega fats may reduce symptoms of asthma

If you struggle with asthma, also consider your omega-3 intake. Your body needs a balance between omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. Unfortunately, most Americans eat a diet too high in omega-6 and too low in omega-3.29 A study from Johns Hopkins Medicine30 demonstrated children diagnosed with asthma who had higher levels of omega-3 fat also had fewer asthma symptoms.

In the study,31 data was gathered from 135 children from age 5 to 12. Roughly one-third of the children had mild symptoms of asthma, one-third had moderate and one-third had severe symptoms. Data on diet, symptoms and inhaler use were gathered through questionnaires.

The researchers were focused on exposure to air pollution and subsequent asthma symptoms. They found children with higher intake of omega-3 had a lower asthma response to indoor air pollution and appeared to be more resilient. The study adds to a growing body of evidence suggesting dietary intake has an influence on your body’s response to air pollution and may help reduce asthma symptoms.

How to use the top 10 medicinal plants and herbs

Before the advent of drugs, plant remedies were the go-to medicines, and they can serve you just as well today as in the past. While there are many thousands of plants, any one of which can serve a medicinal purpose, some are better known than others, and can provide relief from common ailments.

Here, I’ll review the use and benefits of 10 important herbs and medicinal plants, many of which you can grow yourself to ensure you always have some on hand.

No. 1 — Aloe vera

Aloe vera1 is a succulent plant well-known for its soothing qualities, especially for skin conditions such as burns, rashes, cuts and scrapes, but also for more serious skin conditions such as psoriasis. I have hundreds of aloe plants at my home and harvest them every day for topical use on my skin and also for eating. It is one of my medicinal plants.

In one animal study,2 an ethanolic extract of aloe vera gel had an overall antipsoriatic activity of 81.9%. Its wound healing abilities stem from the gel’s disinfectant, antimicrobial, antiviral, antifungal, antibiotic and antibacterial properties.

Properties related to a compound called glucomannan also help accelerate wound healing and skin cell growth. As an adaptogen,3 aloe vera gel may also be used internally to help your body adapt to stress.

Aloe vera contains about 75 potentially active compounds, including lignin, saponins, salicylic acids and 12 anthraquinones (phenolic compounds traditionally known as laxatives). It also provides campesterol, ?-sisosterol and lupeol, and the hormones auxins and gibberellins that help in wound healing and have anti-inflammatory action.4

The pulp contains most of the healing compounds, including5,6 polysaccharides7 such as mannose (which is great for gut health and has immune-boosting benefits), essential amino acids your body needs but cannot manufacture, polyphenol antioxidants, sterols (valuable fatty acids), vitamins and minerals.

While you can purchase aloe vera gel at most health food stores and pharmacies, if you grow your own, you’ll always have fresh aloe on hand when cuts, scrapes or even psoriasis flare-ups occur. For medicinal use, be sure to select an aloe species with thick, “meaty” leaves. A good choice, and one of the most popular, is Aloe Barbadensis Miller.8

To harvest, select an outer, mature leaf, and using a sharp knife, cut the leaf as close to the base as possible. Remove the spines by cutting along each side.

  • For topical use — Simply cut a 1- to 2-inch piece off, then slice it down the middle, revealing the gel, and apply it directly to your skin. Aside from soothing burns, including sunburn, or cuts and scrapes, it also works great as an aftershave for men. For sunburn, fresh aloe gel is the most effective remedy I know of, besides prevention.
  • For internal use — If you’re going to eat it, you can use a potato peeler to peel off the outer rind, then scrape off the gel and place it in a small glass container. I like mixing mine with some lime juice. Simply blend together with a handheld blender for a delicious immune-boosting aloe shot.

While fresh aloe vera is very safe, you should not use it internally or externally if you’re allergic. If you’re unsure, perform a patch test on a small area and wait to make sure no signs of allergic reactions occur.9,10,11

No. 2 — Lemongrass

Lemongrass, an herb noted for its distinctive lemon flavor and citrus aroma, has been used traditionally to treat stomach aches, high blood pressure, common cold, convulsions, pain and vomiting.12 Lemongrass benefits listed by Organic Facts include:13

“[R]elief from insomnia, stomach disorders, respiratory disorders, fever, pain, swelling, and infections. The antioxidant activity of the lemongrass herb maintains the immune system and protects against antibiotic-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.

It even helps in maintaining optimum cholesterol levels, managing type 2 diabetes, and promoting healthy skin. It is extensively used in aromatherapy and helps combat fatigue, anxiety, and body odor.”

The leaves and extracted essential oil are the parts most commonly used, and depending on the form can be taken orally, applied topically or inhaled (as aromatherapy) for the following conditions:

Relieve stress, anxiety, irritability and insomnia by diffusing a few drops of lemongrass essential oil.14

Relax and tone your muscles; relieve muscle pain, period cramps and headaches by rubbing a few drops of the essential oil mixed with carrier oil onto the area, or diffuse as an aromatherapy treatment.

Energize tired feet by mixing essential oil and 2 tablespoons of Epsom salts in a bowl of warm water — You can also create your own foot massage oil by mixing diluted lemongrass oil with a carrier oil such as coconut oil, and adding other essential oils as desired, such as sweet almond, geranium and sandalwood.15

Treat cuts and scrapes by rubbing a small amount of diluted essential oil over the area — Lemongrass essential oil has antibiofilm properties against staphylococcus aureus16 and interrupts the growth of bacteria in the body.17

Treat gastrointestinal problems by consuming lemongrass tea or lemongrass-infused water — Lemongrass oil has anti-ulcer effects,18,19 stimulates digestion and helps regulate bowel function.20

Improve sleep by drinking a cup of lemongrass tea or lemongrass-infused water before bed.21

Relieve pain associated with headaches, muscle and joint pain, muscle spasms and sprains, either by applying diluted essential oil topically, inhaling the scent by diffusing the essential oil, or by drinking lemongrass tea or infused water.

Improve insulin sensitivity by drinking lemongrass tea or infused water — The citral present in lemongrass has demonstrated ability to regulate blood glucose and improve insulin sensitivity,22 and testing shows the citral content of decoctions and infusions are the same as that of fresh lemongrass.23 Tea is basically a weak infusion. You could also make your own lemongrass decoction. For basic instructions, see The Herbal Academy.24

Keep in mind, however, that since lemongrass essential oil can lead to lowered blood glucose,25 it may be contraindicated for people taking oral diabetes or antihypertensive medications, as well as those who are diabetic and hypoglycemic. Take special precautions if you have been diagnosed with diabetes or hypoglycemia or if anyone in your family suffers these conditions.

Treat oily hair by massaging a few drops of diluted essential oil to your scalp and let sit for 15 minutes before washing as usual.26

Fight body odor naturally — With its antifungal and antibacterial properties, diluted lemongrass essential oil can be used as a natural deodorant.

No. 3 — Dandelion

Dandelions contain vitamins A, B, C and D, and can be used as a remedy for fever, boils, diarrhea and diabetes.27 Dandelion leaf tea has diuretic, mild laxative and digestive aid properties, while tea made from dandelion roots has detoxifying properties, and can help relieve liver, gallbladder and prostate problems.28

Dandelion root is also antirheumatic, and may help dissolve urinary stones. 29 Dandelion leaves are usually picked during the spring,30 while the roots are often harvested in autumn or winter, since they’re believed to be sweeter during these seasons.31

Since dandelions are widely available and are extremely simple to grow, you can easily harvest them to make a tea of your own from fresh ingredients. You may also opt to buy tea bags made from dried organic dandelion roots or leaves.

While dandelion tea is considered generally safe to consume, it may cause allergic reactions like itching, rashes and runny nose in people who are allergic to ragweed and other related plants, including chamomile, chrysanthemums and marigold.

No. 4 — Sage

Sage has been used as a medicine for thousands of years and boasts a long list of potential health benefits, including the following:32

Aids digestion — The rosmarinic acid found in sage acts as an anti-inflammatory agent, soothing your stomach and preventing gastric spasms. Sage can help reduce the incidence of diarrhea and gastritis.

Boosts cognitive function — Research has shown even small amounts of sage, taken as food or inhaled as an essential oil, can be an effective brain booster, increasing concentration, memory recall and retention.

In vitro and animal studies have confirmed several sage species contain active compounds shown to enhance cognitive activity and protect against neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia.33

Improves bone health — Sage contains a superior level of vitamin K, which along with its high calcium content supports strong bones and teeth.

Aids diabetes management — Sage possesses compounds known to mimic the drugs typically prescribed for managing diabetes. As such, it appears to regulate and inhibit the release of stored glucose in your liver, which balances your blood sugar, helping to prevent Type 2 diabetes or assist in managing the condition if already present.

Authors of a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition34 said, “[I]ts effects on fasting glucose levels … and its metformin-like effects … suggest sage may be useful as a food supplement in the prevention of Type 2 diabetes mellitus by lowering the plasma glucose of individuals at risk.”

Promotes healthy skin — Given its many antioxidant properties, sage is useful to counteract the signs of aging such as age spots, fine lines and wrinkles. These antioxidants protect against free radicals known to damage your skin cells and cause premature aging. Some have had success using sage in the form of a tincture or topical salve to treat skin conditions such as acne, eczema and psoriasis.

Strengthens immunity — Sage contains antimicrobial properties researchers suggest, when applied in the form of an essential oil, is effective in inhibiting the growth of bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus.35

In addition, sage is a natural expectorant and useful to clear mucus and reduce coughs.36 Consider adding a drop of sage essential oil to a cup of tea or hot water the next time you have a cold.

Treats inflammation — Antioxidant compounds in sage can help neutralize free radicals and prevent them from creating oxidative stress in your body.37 Sage is effective with respect to inflammation that affects your brain, heart, joints, muscles, organ systems and skin. To reduce inflammation, chew fresh sage leaves, drink sage tea or apply a sage tincture.

Eases pains — Sage essential oil can be used in a bath or incorporated into a massage oil to help relax muscles. When combined with a carrier oil and applied to your lower abdomen, sage essential oil can also help soothe menstrual cramps and pain.

No. 5 — Chamomile

Chamomile is one of the highest sources of the polyphenol apigenin, a powerful inhibitor of an enzyme on the surface of your cells called CD38. While CD38 is useful for your immune function it also is a major consumer of NAD+ which is the most important coenzyme in your body.

You need NAD+ to fuel another enzyme called PARP, an enzyme instrumental in the repair of damaged DNA. When you are regularly exposed to electromagnetic fields, PARP is regularly activated and consumes NAD+, which is one of the reasons it is so low in most of us, aside from the fact that simply aging tends to lower it.

When NAD+ is lowered, then PARP doesn’t function, and you don’t repair your DNA damage. This is one of the reasons why I pay attention to keeping my NAD+ levels high and why I use chamomile every night.

Additionally, the volatile oils found in chamomile flowers are said to be responsible for most of its beneficial properties,38 which include an ability to:39,40

  • Calm nerves, promoting general relaxation, relieving stress41 and controlling insomnia
  • Ease allergies, inflammation42 and infections
  • Alleviate muscle spasms
  • Relieve nausea and flatulence
  • Ease stomach ailments, gastritis, ulcerative colitis, diverticular disease,43 Crohn’s disease44 and irritable bowel syndrome

Chamomile mustn’t be taken by people who are allergic to daisies, asters, chrysanthemums or ragweed. Chamomile is also known to interact with some drugs and substances, so exercise caution if you’re taking anticoagulants, antiplatelet medication, blood pressure medicines, diabetes drugs, sedatives, drugs broken down by your liver such as statins and antifungals.

No. 6 — Echinacea

Before antibiotics, echinacea was used as a general cure for various infections and wounds, including malaria, scarlet fever and syphilis.45 Centuries ago, Native Americans primarily used echinacea to help treat the common cold. Today, common uses include:

  • Boosting your immune system — The compounds in echinacea may help improve your immune system. In a study46 published in Integrative Cancer Therapies, echinacea has been shown to help reduce the severity and duration of colds if it is administered right away once symptoms appear. However, if you use echinacea several days after getting a cold, it won’t have much of an effect.
  • Fighting against bacteria and viruses — Echinacea contains a compound called echinacein, which can help against bacterial and viral infections. According to a study47 in Pharmaceutical Biology, echinacea exhibited antimicrobial properties and is effective against 15 different pathogenic bacteria and two pathogenic fungi.
  • Speeding up wound healing — When applied to a wound, echinacea may help speed up the formation of new skin cells, while helping prevent an infection thanks to its antibacterial properties. According to a study48 in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, the compound responsible for echinacea’s wound-healing benefit is echinacoside, which is present in several varieties of the flower.

To learn more about this valuable plant and how it can benefit your health, see “10 Potential Benefits of Echinacea.” One of the easiest ways to obtain the benefits of echinacea is brewing homemade tea by simmering one-fourth cup dried echinacea flowers in 8 ounces of filtered water for 15 minutes.

No. 7 — Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha, known as a multipurpose herb and “rejuvenator,” has been used in ancient Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine for thousands of years.49 It’s a powerful adaptogenic50 herb, meaning it helps your body manage and adapt to stress51 by balancing your immune system,52 metabolism and hormonal systems.53

Ashwagandha also has natural pain reliever (analgesic) properties,54 which can help increase physical strength, and its rejuvenating effects can promote general health when used regularly.

Flavonoids and other compounds are the active ingredients that give ashwagandha its many powerful properties. In one study,55 bioactive withanolides — naturally occurring steroids — in ashwagandha were identified as agents that suppress pathways responsible for several inflammation-based illnesses, including arthritis, asthma, hypertension, osteoporosis56 and cancer.

Withanolides in ashwagandha also have immunomodulating properties,57 described as substances that can either stimulate or suppress your immune system to help fight infections, cancer and other diseases.

One of the alkaloids in ashwagandha, called somniferin, helps promote relaxation and sound sleep. A study58 at the University of Tsukuba in Japan found it can relieve insomnia and restless leg syndrome.

As an adaptogen, ashwagandha is frequently used to support healthy adrenal function, which can be adversely affected by persistent stress, be it physical or psychological. Research shows the root reduces cortisol levels, restores insulin sensitivity and helps to stabilize mood.59

Ashwagandha also supports sexual and reproductive health in both men and women, and may be used as an aid to boost your libido. In men struggling with infertility, ashwagandha has been shown to balance their luteinizing hormone,60
which controls reproductive organ function in both men and women.

It’s been shown to improve the quality of semen in infertile men,61 in part by inhibiting reactive oxygen species and improving essential metal concentrations, including zinc, iron and copper levels. Other research62 suggests ashwagandha improves semen quality by regulating important reproductive hormones.

Ashwagandha can also help boost testosterone levels in men,63,64 which can have a beneficial effect on libido and sexual performance. In otherwise healthy women, ashwagandha has been shown to improve arousal, lubrication, orgasm and overall sexual satisfaction.65

In addition, ashwagandha’s ability to rebalance hormones (including thyroid hormone, estrogen and progesterone) has been shown to improve polycystic ovary syndrome66 and relieve symptoms associated with menopause.67

Ashwagandha also has antitumor and blood production (hemopoietic) capabilities, and benefits the cardiopulmonary, endocrine and central nervous systems, all “with little or no associated toxicity.”68

Ashwagandha is contraindicated69 for, and should not be used by pregnant women, as it may induce abortion; breastfeeding women, as it may have an effect on your child; and people taking sedatives, as ashwagandha may augment the sedative effects.

Also, while ashwagandha appears to be beneficial for thyroid problems, if you have a thyroid disorder, use caution and consult with your doctor, as you may need to tweak any medications you’re taking for it. To learn more about this incredibly useful plant, see my most recent ashwagandha article.

No. 8 — CBD oil and/or whole hemp oil

The medical benefits of cannabidiol (CBD) are now increasingly recognized, and we now know the human body produces endogenous cannabinoids and that this endocannabinoid system (ECS) plays an important role in human health by regulating homeostasis between your bodily systems, such as your respiratory, digestive, immune and cardiovascular systems.

According to Project CBD, at least 50 conditions70 are believed to be improved by CBD, including pain, seizures, muscle spasms, nausea associated with chemotherapy, digestive disorders, degenerative neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease, mood disorders, anxiety, PTSD and high blood pressure.

CBD is nonpsychoactive, nonaddictive, does not produce a “high” and has few to no dangerous side effects. In states where CBD is becoming widely used, there are also few reports of negative social or medical consequences, in fact, CBD has been shown to provide valuable benefits for those struggling with opioid addiction.

Endogenous cannabinoid production declines with age and, according to clinical nutritionist and expert on phytocannabinoids, Carl Germano, endocannabinoid deficiency has been identified in people who have migraines, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory and neurological conditions and a variety of treatment-resistant conditions.

A paper71 in Translational Psychiatry also found low levels of anandamide (one of the endocannabinoids your body produces naturally) are a statistically positive indicator for stress-induced anxiety.

According to Germano, one of your best and healthiest options may be to use whole hemp oil rather than isolated CBD (from either hemp or cannabis). The reason for this is because CBD is just one of more than 100 different phytocannabinoids found in whole hemp, and the synergistic action between them is likely to produce better results.

According to Germano, CBD alone cannot fully support your body’s ECS. You need the other phytocannabinoids and terpenes, which are very complementary to the phytocannabinoids, as well. To learn more, see my interview with him, featured in “The endocannabinoid system and the important role it plays in human health.”

In the past, before the signing of the new Farm Bill that legalizes the growing of hemp in the U.S., the leaf, flower and bud of the hemp plant could not be used in the production of CBD-rich hemp oil. The oil had to be pulled from the stalk and stem of the plant only — the less concentrated part.

With the new law, all parts of the plant can be used, which will make processing easier and more economical, as the cannabinoids are more concentrated in the leaves, flowers and buds. The law also makes it legal to grow hemp in every state, so if you wanted to, you could grow it in your backyard.

While the raw unprocessed plant could be juiced, processing will convert the cannabinoids into more usable forms. Germano offers the following advice:

“[To process it], you can take the leaf, flower and bud. You can blend it and store it in the refrigerator. Over a day or two of exposure to heat, air, light and moisture, it’ll decarboxylate to some extent and you’ll benefit more from that … [P]robably an ounce or two [of raw plant] would do the trick as a healthy plant beverage.”

No. 9 — Milk thistle

While most people consider milk thistle a pesky weed, it actually possesses remarkable medicinal benefits72,73 that make it worth keeping around. Notably, milk thistle has been prized for centuries for its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antiviral properties.

It is also highly regarded as a liver tonic due to high amounts of a chemical compound known as silymarin. Silymarin is a group of flavonoids known to help repair liver cells damaged by toxic substances. As such, milk thistle greatly improves the overall functioning of your liver, with specific applications related to cirrhosis of the liver, chronic liver inflammation and liver damage from alcohol and other intoxicating substances.

Silymarin has also been shown to prevent the formation of gallstones,74 support prostate health and treat prostate cancer.75 Under the direction of your doctor, you may want to consider adding milk thistle to your diet if you are dealing with a liver-based problem such as cirrhosis, hepatitis, jaundice and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.76

Silymarin also activates AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), an enzyme inside your cells that plays an important role in metabolism,77 energy homeostasis and cellular repair.78 It also inhibits the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR)which, when chronically activated, may increase your risk of cancer.

While all parts of the milk thistle plant are edible, silymarin is contained in the seeds only. Whether or not you are able to grow your own, high-quality, organic milk thistle is inexpensive and readily available at your local health food store. Below are some ways you can incorporate this unique herb into your diet:79

  • Powdered — Use a mortar and pestle to crush milk thistle seeds into a powder that can be added to soups, stir-fries and other dishes
  • Salads — Because the entire plant is edible, you can add milk thistle flowers, leaves, roots and stalks to salads or incorporate them into cooked dishes
  • Smoothies — For a healthy liver smoothie,80 soak 2 tablespoons of milk thistle seeds in filtered water overnight; the next morning, add the milk thistle (and soaking water), 1 cup of lemon juice, one-third cup of lycium berries and 1.5 cups of ice to your blender and combine until smooth
  • Snacks — Although it may be a bit of an acquired taste, milk thistle seeds can be eaten dry, as is
  • Tea — Crush either or both milk thistle seeds and dried leaves to make a loose tea blend you can steep in an infuser with hot water; add a healthy sweetener of your choice to tone down the somewhat bitter flavor, or add a peppermint teabag for a different taste sensation81

No. 10 — Tulsi

Tulsi, also known as holy basil, is an Ayurvedic herb considered vital in India. Like ashwagandha, it’s a powerful adaptogen with antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, analgestic, antioxidant and adaptogenic properties, just to name a few.82

There are many tulsi products available today, including tea, tablets, powder, extracts and tulsi essential oil. Among its many benefits, tulsi may help:

Manage blood glucose levels — Tulsi has hypoglycemic and hypolipidemic effects, which may be beneficial to diabetics. One study noted that after being given the tulsi leaf powder, diabetic rats had “a significant reduction in fasting blood sugar, uronic acid, total amino acids, total cholesterol, triglyceride, phospholipids and total lipids.”83,84

Boost immunity — The leaf extract of tulsi was found to have immunotherapeutic potential in mammal subjects. The researchers noted the “crude aqueous extract of O. sanctum (leaf) possesses some biologically active principles that are antibacterial and immunomodulatory in nature.”85

Ease stress and anxiety Compounds found in tulsi leaf extract, namely ocimarin and ocimumosides A and B, have anti-stress effects.86 A test done on human subjects found that taking the plant extract may help ease generalized anxiety disorder.87

Improve dental health — Using tulsi tea as a mouth rinse may have benefits for your oral health. A study88 found an herbal mouth rinse of natural herbs like neem, clove oil, tulsi and more were able to inhibit oral bacteria like Actinomyces sp., E. nodatum, P. intermedia and more.

Boost cognitive function — One study89 found dementia-induced rats had improved cognition after being given tulsi leaf extract.

Promote liver health — Tulsi may have hepatoprotective effects, and was found to help protect against induced liver damage among rat subjects.90

Protect against different kinds of infections — Tulsi is believed to help alleviate various bacterial infections, including urinary tract infection,91 dermal infections caused by Staphylococcus aureus and other bacteria92 and respiratory tract infections like pneumonia93

Ease pain — Sipping tulsi tea may help you acquire its antipyretic, anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. One study notes that it may be a potential alternative to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).94

Weekly health quiz — Magnesium, measles and grounding

1 Which of the following nutrients helps shuttle magnesium to the cells that need it most, thereby augmenting the benefits of magnesium and reducing symptoms of magnesium deficiency?

  • Vitamin B6

    Vitamin B6 escorts magnesium to the cells that need it most, thus ensuring that the magnesium you’re getting, whether from foods or supplements, is being used as efficiently as possible. Vitamin B6 thus helps augment the many benefits of magnesium. Learn more.

  • Calcium
  • Vitamin K2
  • Vitamin D

2 Which of the following scenarios will grant you lifelong immunity against wild measles infection?

  • Being vaccinated with a single dose of measles vaccine
  • Recovering from measles infection

    The only way to get lifelong immunity is to successfully recover from measles infection. Learn more.

  • Receiving two or three doses of measles vaccine
  • 100% of a population being vaccinated against measles with one or more doses of measles vaccine

3 Which of the following chemicals is the most heavily used agricultural chemical in history?

  • Atrazine
  • 2,4-D
  • Glyphosate

    Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide — identified as a probable human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer in 2015 — is the most heavily used agricultural chemical in history. Learn more.

  • Dicamba

4 Which of the following supplements has been shown to significantly improve anxiety and other symptoms of chronic stress?

  • Astaxanthin
  • Curcumin
  • Vitamin E
  • Ashwagandha

    Ashwagandha is a powerful adaptogenic herb that helps your body manage and adapt to stress. Compared to placebo, ashwagandha has been shown to significantly reduce anxiety and other symptoms of stress. Learn more.

5 Which of the following strategies is a proven strategy that can help solve many of our most pressing environmental and health problems, including food security, malnutrition, water scarcity and topsoil degeneration?

  • Widespread implementation of regenerative gardening and farming

    Widespread implementation of regenerative agriculture and biodynamic farming is the answer to many of our most pressing environmental and health problems, including food security, malnutrition, water scarcity, topsoil degeneration and more. Classes on regenerative gardening and lifestyle are offered by the nonprofit Kiss the Ground, June 18 through July 31, 2019. Sign up now for early bird registration. Learn more.

  • Turning wetlands into farmland
  • Eliminating diversity to focus on staple food crops
  • Increased use of synthetic chemicals that are inexpensive to manufacture

6 Grounding’s positive effects are achieved by

  • removing the constriction of shoes
  • neutralizing free radicals with the negatively charged electrons from the Earth

    Grounding’s positive effects are achieved by neutralizing free radicals with the negatively charged electrons from the Earth. Learn more.

  • relaxation from being in nature
  • exposure to the clay found in soil

7 Which of the following is a key prevention strategy for sarcopenia?

  • Getting plenty of rest
  • Aerobic exercise
  • Muscle strengthening activities

    About 50% of 80-year-olds have sarcopenia (loss of muscle mass). One of the key prevention strategies for sarcopenia is to stay active and use your muscles as much as possible. This is also why strength training is so highly recommended for seniors. Learn more.

  • Exercises that focus on flexibility

Cartoon Network Promotes LGBT ‘Pride Month’ to Children

By Samuel Smith, CP Reporter

Cartoon Network, the popular television channel watched by millions of children, promoted LGBT pride month by using one of its widely popular shows to encourage fans to “stand proud." 

LGBT activists have designated June as “pride month” to celebrate alternative sexual lifestyles and gender identities, and Cartoon Network took to Twitter last week to voice its solidarity with the movement as thousands take part in events nationwide.

“We want to wish everyone a HAPPY PRIDE and encourage all of our LGBTQ+ fans to stand proud all year long!” the network, which is owned by Warner Bros., tweeted along with emojis representing a rainbow flag, heart and a unicorn.

Cartoon Network urged its LGBT fans in a June 2, 2019 tweet to "stand proud all year long," | Twitter/Cartoon Network

Read Entire Article »

The Most Comprehensive 5G Exposé: The Ultimate Weapon of Depopulation

Electronic Pollution is Killing Us

We live in an increasingly irradiated environment (radiation soup) with all the smartphones, tablets, Wi-Fi networks, and cell towers and their microwave transmissions.

People, especially teenagers and young people, are increasingly dying of brain cancer because of the increased exposure to EMF/RF radiation, according to RF Safe and The Telegraph.

More and more Israelis, including children, report various aches and medical conditions, which emerge when they are in the presence of mobile phones, Wi-Fi routers or cell towers, according to Israel Hayom Newspaper (Does Radiation Hurt? Israel Hayom Newspaper, December 26, 2014).

Read Entire Article »

Lesbian Ponies for Kids: ‘My Little Pony’ TV Show Joins in Gay Activism for Pride Month

by Andrea Garrett

The ninth and final season of the animated series "My Little Pony" on the Discovery Family Channel will feature a lesbian couple who take care of a school-aged character named Scootaloo.

The episode, titled "The Last Crusade," introduces the same-sex couple Aunt Holiday and Auntie Lofty in the middle of Gay Pride Month, which the program's producers call a "happy coincidence."

It's the latest children's program to target kids with the LGBTQ agenda. Last month, The PBS animated series "Arthur" featured a gay wedding.

Read Entire Article »