Friday, February 28, 2020

Spinach Frittata Made Healthier With Culinary Herbs


I enjoy cooking with culinary herbs. They really enhance the flavor of foods.  As a holistic nutritionist, I also know the medicinal benefits of spices.  There are so many good ones, but today I would like to focus on two of my favorites, oregano and garlic.

Oregano

Oregano, or Origanum vulgare, is a popular herb whose name means "mountain joy" It is a small, perennial shrub with multi-branched stems covered with small oval leaves and tiny white flowers.

Oregano has amazing health benefits!  It contains rosmarinic acid and thymol. Both of these act as powerful antioxidants that have been closely linked to reducing oxidative stress in the body, thus boosting immunity.  Oregano has clear antibacterial properties, due to the presence of carvacrol, as well as the aforementioned  thymol.  Both compounds  can help defend the body against a wide range of bacteria. In the herbal world, it is considered a broad spectrum herbal antibiotic. Oregano is also loaded with fiber, a half-gram per teaspoon, so despite its small size, it can have a major impact on your digestive system health. Additionally, Oregano is a natural form of omega-3 fatty acids, the beneficial type of cholesterol that improves your heart health. Omega-3 fatty acids also help to rebalance cholesterol levels and reduce inflammation, thereby helping to reduce the chance of heart attack and stroke. Oregano also contains flavonoids and phenolic acids that help to alleviate inflammation-related diseases.

Garlic

Garlic, or  Allium sativum, is a species in the onion genus, Allium. It is closely related  e the onion, shallot, leek, and chive.  Garlic is native to Central Asia and northeastern Iran and has long been a common seasoning worldwide.

Garlic grows from individual cloves broken off from a whole bulb. Each clove will multiply in the ground, forming a new bulb that consists of 5-10 cloves. 

Garlic has many health benefits.  It been shown to lower cholesterol and triglycerides, lower blood pressure, thus protecting the heart. Significant evidence suggests that garlic's phytochemical content can play a role in the prevention of cancer and the slowing of its progression. Phytochemicals are chemical compounds found in plants that protect cells from damage that lead to cancer. Additionally, crushed garlic contains allicin, which has antimicrobial and antibiotic properties that help stop the growth of unwanted organisms, such as bacteria and fungi. 

The aromatic flavor of oregano and the pungent taste of garlic are a delicious combination  in Mediterranean cuisine This is one of my favorite recipes incorporating both.  It's the perfect healthy start to a great day!

Spinach Frittata

Ingredients
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup spinach
  • 1/2 tsp. chopped oregano
  • 1-2 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup chopped onions
  • olive oil
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. 
  2. Crush garlic with the side of a knife and let it rest for ten minutes, then mince. 
  3. Coarsely chop spinach and set aside. 
  4. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil to the bottom of a 9-inch cast iron skillet; add chopped onion and cook until translucent.
  5. Add garlic to skillet and continue cooking on low for 1 minute, then turn off burner.
  6. Whisk eggs in a small bowl and pour into skillet.
  7. Sprinkle the spinach, oregano. and feta cheese over the top.  
  8. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake for 15-18 minutes until top is slightly browned.

Makes two servings.

Enjoy!







Thursday, February 20, 2020

The Best Herbs to Treat Flu and Other Viruses



Those that know me know that I am not an advocate of the flu shot. However,  the purpose of this blog post is not to discuss that subject.  Instead, I would rather focus on the benefits of two of the best antiviral herbs, sambucus and mullein and their effectiveness in treating and possibly preventing the flu, as well as many other viruses.

Sambucus

Sambucus nigra, otherwise know as black elderberry,  has been shown to be one of the best defenses against influenza.  It is a small, antioxidant-rich fruit common to Europe and North America that is still commonly consumed as a jam or wine..

A recent study by a group of Chemical and Biomlolecular Engineering researchers from the University of Sydney's Faculty of Engineering and IT has determined that  elderberry fruit can help the fight against influenza.  Compounds from elderberries can directly inhibit the virus's entry and replication in human cells, and can help strengthen a person's immune response to the virus. "What our study has shown is that the common elderberry has a potent direct antiviral effect against the flu virus," said Dr Golnoosh Torabian, one of the researchers involved in the study.

When taken with Vitamin C and zinc, Sambucus is quite effective in reducing symptoms of the flu.  This combination will help strengthen the immune system.  Nature's Way Gummies contain Sambucus,  Vitamin C and zinc.  They have a pleasant taste suitable for children.

Mullein

Common mullein, or Verbascum thapsus, pictured left, should look familiar to you. It is a medicinal plant readily found in roadsides, meadows and pasture lands.

Mullein contains various chemical constituents like saponins, iridoid and phenylethanoid glycosides, flavonoids, vitamin C and minerals.

A number of pharmacological activities, such as anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimicrobial, and antiviral activity have been associated with the mullein plant. With regard its antiviral activity, one test-tube study suggests that mullein extract is particularly effective against the influenza virus. It has been used to treat pulmonary problems, inflammatory diseases, asthma, and spasmodic coughs, all symptoms which often accompany the flu.

I often harvest plants from our property for medicinal purposes. I use the leaves to make a tea to treat respiratory infections.  I also make a tincture from the leaves.  To make an ear oil to treat infections, I  combine the flowers with garlic and olive oil.  As a master herbalist, I enjoy these activities. However, for those that may not, mullein is readily available in tea, tincture and capsule form.

Both sambucus and mullein are great to have on hand during cold and flu season. They can be purchased online by clicking the corresponding links.

Of course, always check with your healthcare practitioner. before taking any herbal supplement.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Natural Options for IBS-C


IBS-C can really affect the quality of life of those who suffer from it.  The symptoms of IBS-C include abdominal pain and discomfort, along with changes in bowel function. Bloating and/or gas may also be present. Changes in bowel function may include straining, infrequent stools, hard or lumpy stools, and/or a feeling that the bowel does not empty completely.

Over time, the chronic constipation associated with IBS-C can cause diverticulosis, which can worsen constipation. Unfortunately, oftentimes the medications prescribed for chronic constipation either don't work well or have bothersome side effects. However, there are several natural options to treat the constipation associated with these conditions that are very effective. 

1.  Dandelion Root - Dandelion Root works by stimulating the liver to produce bile, which helps to soften the stool for easier passage. Dandelion root can be purchased in capsule (powder) form.  Nature's Way makes a great product, which can be purchased on Amazon. It  is recommended in daily dosages of 1-4 GM and is most beneficial taken in divided doses during the day and at bedtime. However, it is not recommended for those with gallstones.



2.  Digestic - Digestic is a non-laxative, organic, herbal blend of Papaya, Wormwood, Fennel, Cardamom, and Aloe.  It is available  in capsule form.  Although it is a bit on the pricey side, it  is extremely effective for relieving chronic  constipation associated with IBS-C and diverticulosis. Dosage is  2 and up to 6 capsules daily, depending on the severity of symptoms.

3.  Senna Combination - I discovered this combination of herbs in one of my herbal textbooks.  It consists of senna leaves, fennel seed, ginger rhizome and catnip leaves.  While senna can cause cramping or gripping, the catnip in this formula helps to lessen this.  When taken at bedtime, the catnip also helps promote a restful sleep.  The only company I know of that produces this herbal combination is Caring Sunshine.  It is available in capsule form and is fantastic for relieving constipation.

4.  Kombucha Tea - I prefer to get probiotics from food or drinks, rather than from capsules, and I am a proponent of kombucha tea.  However,  some just don't taste good.  However, one that does is Synergy Enlightened Gingerberry Kombucha Tea, which is delicious mixed with Welch's Rose sparkling grape juice. In addition to  providing natural probiotics, which help prevent constipation, kombucha tea also aids in natural detoxification.  It works by teeming with enzymes and bacterial acids. Gluconic acid, which is found in kombucha, as well as in fruits and vegetables, may bind to toxins to help expel them from the body.

5.  Organic Psyllium Husk - This is really good stool softener.  It works by increasing the bulk in your stool, an effect that helps to cause movement of the intestines. It also works by increasing the amount of water in the stool, making the stool softer and easier to pass. However, one word of caution--don't use too much (a little goes a long way) and drink plenty of water while taking this.  NOW Organic Psyllium Husk is a good brand.

Always remember to check with your healthcare practitioner before taking any herbal supplement or natural product.