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Xymogen’s Bio C 1:1 Formula – Potent Vitamin C with Citrus Bioflavonoids for Antioxidant & Immune Support

Xymogen’s Bio C
Xymogen’s Bio C 1:1 formula contains (combines) a high-potency vitamin C (ascorbic acid) with full-spectrum citrus bioflavonoids.  Both have been thoroughly researched and are understood to be important for supporting antioxidant and immune system function.  Not only is vitamin C incredibly important for fighting against illness or stress, but research depicts vitamin C’s important role in the synthesis of collagen, the amino acid carnitine, and neurotransmitters for cognitive function. Citrus bioflavonoids support a healthy metabolism and neurological health by functioning as cell-signaling agents + supporting the enhanced absorption and utilization of vitamin C.  This formula by Xymogen contains 500 mg of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) + 500 mg of citrus bioflavonoids per capsule in a one-to-one ratio. One capsule is recommended daily, although both have a high safety profile and tolerance. The only side effect people tend to notice with increased amounts of vitamin C or bioflavonoid intake is diarrhea until their body adjusts. Vitamin C is, of course, a well-known antioxidant vitamin and water-soluble vitamin that is essential to humans and important for overall wellness. While we only need a very small amount of vitamin C to prevent ‘scurvy’ or deficiency, high amounts of vitamin C intake have been correlated with improved health markers and better immune response during times of illness.  The amount required by the body to support physiological functions becomes increased when we undergo stress, have poor dietary habits, smoke, drink alcohol, undergo radiation, are exposed to pollution, or are ill.  Vitamin C protects against free radicals and oxidative stress produced from bodily processes and external factors, and also contributes to collagen synthesis/production and adrenal gland support. It is an important support for the immune system and a cofactor for metabolic enzymes.  Vitamin C and The Immune System Immune cells absorb and concentrate vitamin C – vitamin C’s role in immune system function has long been known and reported in the medical literature. The T-cell function is known to be enhanced by vitamin C. While the “recommended” amount of vitamin C intake for optimal function has long been debated, Dr. Linus Pauling, in his research on vitamin C, recommended an intake of 2,300 mg per 2,500 calorie intake for humans as a “minimum.” However, this was way back in the early 1970s. The NIH (National Institute of Health) determined at around 400 mg per day is required for young and healthy non-smokers to attain saturation of vitamin C, but do not know how much is required for those in older adults, or those with infection/chronic stress.  It is already known that the elderly or those under stress conditions require a substantially higher intake of vitamin C to maintain or attain plasma concentrations that provide benefit.  As this one study reads: “vitamin C deficiency results in impaired immunity and higher susceptibility to infections. In turn, infections significantly impact vitamin C levels due to enhanced inflammation and metabolic requirements. Furthermore, supplementation with vitamin C appears to be able to both prevent and treat respiratory and systemic infections. In contrast, treatment of established infections requires significantly higher [gram] doses of the vitamin to compensate for the increased inflammatory response and metabolic demand.”  Energy from dietary fatty acids also requires vitamin C because it depends on the synthesis of carnitine, which helps shuttle along long-chain fatty acids into mitochondria. Vitamin C, as we mentioned previously, is required for the synthesis of carnitine. Vitamin C is also abundant in the brain and helps with the conversion of dopamine to norepinephrine and regulates intraneuronal communication.  Citrus bioflavonoids are perhaps more widely known and used in Europe and are phytochemicals derived from plants/food (commonly citrus fruits) that are biologically active compounds associated with cardiovascular health, inflammation, and cognition.  Healthcare practitioners, namely naturopaths, commonly use bioflavonoids independently to support joint health and inflammation. However, they can also be used for blood vessel support, lymph system support, respiratory health, eye health, and cardiovascular health. These bioflavonoids are able to cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and are neuroprotective. 

Xymogen’s Melatonin – Increase Quality Sleep Time Naturally and Reduce Daytime Fatigue

Can help to increase total overall sleep time, which is an important aspect of sleep quality and ensuring you feel well-rested Can help relieve the fatigue associated with shift work (night shifts) or jet lag Can help to reset the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle as part of one’s circadian rhythm Can help to reduce the overall time it takes to fall asleep – in those with sleep disturbances or sleep disorders  Dosage and Directions for Use Serving Size: 3 mg per lozenge.  Available in 60 lozenge size.  We would always recommend consulting with a healthcare practitioner, naturopath or healthcare professional for use extending beyond 4 weeks.  The recommended dosage is 1-2 lozenges per day, once a day, at bedtime or directly before bedtime.  If taking any sort of hormonal medication, mood disorder medication, or blood pressure medication, you need to consult a healthcare professional prior to use. Those with a seizure disorder, kidney disease, liver disease, hormonal disorder, diabetes, depression, or hypertension might be contraindicated for use of melatonin.  Under no circumstances should you drive or use any sort of machinery/operative tools ~5 hours after taking melatonin.  If you continue to experience any sort of sleep disturbances for more than 4 weeks (insomnia), you should also consult a health care professional.  Xymogen’s Melatonin to Regulate Sleep Quality and Improve Restfulness Xymogen’s melatonin is a synthetic formulation to ensure those that are vegan or vegetarian can take the product without worry of it being mammalian derived. Many people may not be aware that there are a number of melatonin supplements commonly derived from the pineal gland of animals (often ‘porcine’ or pig).  Many people with negative experiences related to melatonin often experience these sides because of the production quality of melatonin itself – given that melatonin is a hormone, it must be USP pharmaceutical grade and manufactured at the highest quality standards. This is something you can be assured of when purchasing Xymogen products.  Xymogen’s melatonin is a patented synthetic form that follows the same chemical pathway as natural melatonin that is also pharmaceutical grade and completely free of biological contaminants. Naturally sourced melatonin derived from animals will always pose a risk because it can be contaminated with biological impurities.  As the pineal gland is quite sensitive, and melatonin is utilized by the pineal gland for producing serotonin, triggering such as gland that controls the sleep/wake cycle, ensuring a high-quality melatonin supplement is vital.  Melatonin is not the kind of supplement you’d want to skimp or save on.  What about melatonin itself, as a compound? What are the benefits from supplementation? Melatonin is naturally produced in our pineal gland, but also in the gastrointestinal tract and lymphocytes. It is present in other parts of mammalian tissue. It plays a key role in helping to regulate circadian rhythm and sleeping/waking. It also supports hormone production (serotonin) and antioxidant activity.  Normal melatonin production is suppressed by light and stimulated by periods of dark. Supplemental melatonin can help to support sleep patterns in certain populations like those with irregular work hours, those travelling, or elderly populations with reduced natural melatonin production.  Melatonin has also been studied for its role in supporting antioxidant activity, with concentration in the mitochondria. Thus, it has been proven to support glutathione production, and stimulate production of superoxide dismutase – scavenging free radicals and reducing inflammation from pro-inflammatory cytokines.  Doses of higher than 5 mg do not appear to display any benefit, and we would recommend sticking with the prescribed dosage of 3 mg per day at bedtime. 

Devil’s Claw Root – A Potent Natural Pain Reliever and NSAID Alternative

Devil’s Claw Root
Devil’s claw – a fairly ominous sounding name for an herb that can help deal with joint pain, inflammation and arthritis without the use of NSAIDs (Aspirin, Tylenol) or other medications that may leave unwanted side effects in their wake with prolonged use (like stomach ulcers). The name devil’s claw comes from the little ‘hooks’ that cover the plant. It is native to South Africa, with it being introduced to a larger population in Europe around the 1900’s. Traditionally, the devil’s claw has been used to treat pain, inflammation, and joint issues. Topically, it was used in ointments and preparations to help manage and heal skin problems like sores or infections. Internationally, the popularity of devil’s claw has increased with use in countries such as France, Germany, the U.S. and Canada for addressing lower back pain, arthritic pain, joint pain, and inflammation. The plant is a perennial, and the roots are what are typically used in the extracts and supplements you can find in health food stores as “devil’s claw.” Glycosides, and Anti-inflammatory Effects An important active component of devil’s claw is the ‘glycosides’ – these are naturally present compounds in plants, and are often used in a variety of medications (both herbal and pharmaceutical). In particular, devil’s claw contains harpagoside – one type of ‘iridoid glycoside’ that is found to have potent anti-inflammatory effects. What is an iridoid glycoside, exactly? These compounds in plants act as a natural defense against pathogens, environmental dangers, insects, and herbivores. Iridoid glycosides are found in many different plants. Harpagoside is just one among the hundreds of these compounds. It is suggested in the medical literature that by inhibiting certain signal pathways in the body (COX-2), this compound in devil’s claw can reduce pain. It has been shown that inhibitors of these pathways (pharmaceuticals or herbal supplements) can help to treat or address rheumatic health concerns – joint pain, arthritis, inflammation, and back pain. Many devil’s claw extracts will be “standardized” to contain 3% iridoid glycosides or 2% harpagosides. We recommend taking devil’s claw between meals to ensure optimal bioavailability of the anti-inflammatory compounds, as stomach acid may reduce the potency and efficacy.  Traditional Use to Contemporary Use  Devil’s claw has an established history of use for pain symptoms dating back several hundred years – everything from gout, malaria, myalgia, fibrositis, and lumbago to chest pain, tendonitis, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoarthritis. In contemporary use, devil’s claw is more commonly prescribed or recommended for lower back and joint pain specifically. Research may support devil’s claw use in cases of: Rheumatoid Arthritis Lower Back Pain and Joint Pain Osteoarthritis Tendinitis Chronic Inflammation   Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis – common as we age, and associated with joint pain, devil’s claw has been studied to reduce pain and alleviate symptoms. Multiple studies, including one literature review, determined devil’s claw to be effective at relieving pain, improving mobility, and easing joint use without additional medication. Another study confirms beneficial use in those with hip or knee arthrosis – displaying devil’s claw can be used to address health concerns from tendinitis, inflammation, and joint pain that isn’t localized to a specific area. In the study, there was a dramatic reduction in pain reported with only two adverse reactions – both digestive upsets. There are numerous studies using devil’s claw for muscle pain, neck pain, back pain, shoulder pain, knee pain, ankle pain, and hip pain. Lower-Back Pain – Research effectively demonstrates that devil’s claw extract has a potent anti-inflammatory effect, particularly in those with arthritis. Devil’s claw suppressed cytokine production and inflammation, and the glycosides present in devil’s claw were found to be the active therapeutic behind this action.  Any Side-Effects Associated with Devil’s Claw? Generally, devil’s claw seems to be quite well tolerated in people – although studies have not accounted for long-term use. The primary side effect reported was digestive upset and diarrhea. As devil’s claw can trigger uterine contractions, it is not recommended for those that are pregnant, nor is it recommended for new mothers or young children. Allergy to devil’s claw is rare, but possible. Those with sensitive stomachs, GERD, ulcers, or IBS would be best suited to avoid taking devil’s claw as it can come with gastrointestinal side effects in sensitive individuals – especially as devil’s claw can increase the production of stomach acids. As it may lower blood sugar levels, those on medication for diabetes should avoid use or speak with a doctor prior because devil’s claw could trigger a ...

Caprylic Acid: The Fatty Acid From Coconut that Can Fight Candida and Fungal Infections

Caprylic Acid
Aside from naturally obtaining caprylic acid through eating real food (coconut cream, coconut milk, etc.), supplements are an easy way to obtain a high-potency dose of caprylic acid without having to consume an excess of saturated fat.  Depending on what kind of health concern you’re addressing, healthcare practitioners – naturopaths, typically recommend consuming 500 mg to 1,000 mg up to three times per day in a capsule form. When treating Candida or a yeast infection, studies actually appear to indicate that capsules are more effective than liquid. Usually, we recommend the opposite. In this case, the capsule helps to better enable a slower release of the fatty acids into your bloodstream. This prevents a higher incidence of side effects, along with providing the most robust benefit. We would also advise to take caprylic acid capsules around 30-45 minutes prior to a meal.  What is Caprylic Acid? Caprylic acid is one of the primary fatty acids in coconut oil, which lend it well-known anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-microbial properties. It is also commonly supplemented as a part of MCT oil (medium-chain triglycerides).  It is consumed naturally in food sources, from things like coconut and palm oil.  People regularly take caprylic acid as a supplement, or in the form of MCT oil, to combat Candida infections, yeast infections, thrush, high cholesterol levels, epilepsy, and digestive issues caused by bacterial imbalance or overgrowth (SIBO).  Does Caprylic Acid Really Work for Candida and Yeast Infections? The research definitely seems to point to a resounding yes. Numerous studies seem to reaffirm caprylic acid as anti-inflammatory and even anti-viral.  Yeast infections, and Candida infections are common. Particularly among recent bouts of antibiotic use with the cold/flu season. Reduction in good strains of gut bacteria and oral bacteria through the use of antibiotics, diets high in refined sugars + refined grains, and alcohol can dramatically reduce good strains of bacteria, and cause proliferation of pathogenic yeast.  Other studies reaffirm caprylic acid’s ability to reduce symptoms of Candida infections, along with proven efficacy at inhibiting yeast infections, thereby preventing recurrence or stopping the progression.  The anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties of caprylic acid can help to manage digestive disorders and conditions such as IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) and IBS. We would recommend trying to incorporate more medium chain fatty acids such as caprylic acid, either in food form or supplement form, while cutting back on animal foods (red meat) for those with digestive disorders. Cutting out and eliminating problematic proteins such as gluten (wheat) and casein (dairy) can also help to quell symptoms.  For those concerned about coconut oil’s health properties as a highly saturated fat – studies seem to suggest that caprylic acid, as an isolated supplement, has a positive overall impact on LDL or “bad” cholesterol and total lipids. Caprylic acid was also correlated with increased HDL or “good” cholesterol levels.  Conclusion If you’re someone who is new to taking caprylic acid, we recommend starting slowly and easing into a higher dose. This will help to prevent any sort of stomach pains, nausea, or stomach upset. This means taking a 500 mg capsule once or twice a day with meals to start with, and slowly increasing from there to up to 2,000 mg spread out across 3-4 doses.  Caprylic acid is generally safe, with minimal side effects reported. This is a natural fatty acid that is found in food and regularly consumed. Some people with a more sensitive stomach may notice mild gastrointestinal sides – common for people new to MCT oil as well. Considering it is even recommended as safe by the FDA, there is little to worry about. However, we still always recommend consulting with a professional prior to use if you have pre-existing health conditions. We also would not recommend the product for those who are currently pregnant or breastfeeding.

EGCG – The Best “Fat Burner?"

EGCG
Is green tea extract all it has been cracked up to be? Long touted for the ability to help ‘burn fat,’ ‘boost’ metabolism, and help protect against cancer – green tea extract has faced a lot of criticism for potential “dangers” associated with the health supplement, while many others simply declare it a fad. What is “EGCG,” and What Are Catechins? First, it is important to mention the ‘catechins’ in green tea extract – which are the compounds associated with all of the reported health concerns. Catechins are part of the family of flavonoids. These phenols, antioxidants, are phytochemicals that naturally exist in foods such as tea, berries, and legumes. They are healthful and thought to be responsible for the health-promoting properties in teas. Catechins seem to possess protective qualities in terms of degenerative diseases and cancers. Some of these compounds, particularly one that is exclusively found in tea – EGCG – have become an area of research and debate as to their safety and efficacy. Green tea, in particular, seems to contain the highest levels of catechins. The primary catechins in green tea are EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), EC (epicatechin), GC (gallocatechin), and ECG (Epicatechin gallate). EGCG, for example, is only found in tea. Should I Be Worried About Liver Function? Concerns have arisen concerning liver toxicity with high-dose, long-term use of EGCG in particular due to the way catechins are processed in the body when consumed in high amounts. Research does show that a dose of over 866 mg EGCG per day, when used long-term, could potentially be harmful to the liver. However, studies using under 800 mg did not correlate to any liver toxicity or damage, while the average intake from tea drinkers is estimated to be 90 to 300mg (not from supplements, but just ol’ fashioned tea infusions). After a review of 38 different studies, it was concluded that doses of or above 800 mg EGCG for longer than 4 months were associated with markers of liver toxicity in a small percentage (10%) of the population. Studies showed that there was no reported liver toxicity at levels below 800 mg EGCG per day when taken for up to 12 months. If more reassurance is needed, hepatotoxicity from Green Tea Extract is quite rare, and in the cases in which it was reported, once the large doses of EGCG were stopped, liver function resolved fully after discontinuation. There is no documentation of fatal injury from EGCG or Green Tea Extract, even at doses of up to 1,800 mg per day. For most people, using the supplement at the recommended dosage (typically 200 mg – 600 mg) for a period of 1-3 months is not causing concern, provided they have been cleared by their doctor or physician to do so. Of course, if you have a pre-existing liver injury, EGCG and Green Tea Extract may not be the right supplement for you. Most supplements are sold at a dosage of 400 mg Green Tea Extract, which often contains ~200 mg EGCG (50%) – well below the threshold for safety limits. Real Benefits to EGCG and Catechins from Green Tea Extract Tea has always been renowned for its weight loss benefits, and for promoting longevity. Most of these benefits can be ascribed to the polyphenol antioxidant content of teas – particularly from catechins. Studies in animal trials and exploring weight loss in people show promising results, with numerous published studies reaffirming the traditional beliefs in the effects of green tea on body composition, cancer prevention, and longevity. The first study shows that even in rats fed a high-fat diet for a period of 6 months, those that were also given EGCG were able to reduce body fat while increasing lean mass, glucose tolerance, and better fat synthesis. There were also no negative effects on liver tissue reported. In the second study, 690 mg catechins were consumed for 12 weeks, and body weight, waist size, body fat, and total fat all were dramatically lower in the EGCG group compared to the control, without any other change. These studies, among many others, display Green Tea Extract and EGCG – catechins – ability to help in reducing body fat and improve metabolic health markers all-around.

Psyllium Husk – A Healthy Soluble Fiber for Constipation and Cholesterol

Psyllium Husk
Perhaps best known as a sort of laxative or fiber supplement under brand names like Metamucil, psyllium husk offers a variety of health benefits like many of the plant-based soluble fibers you can purchase as a supplement.  People will find the most use for psyllium husk in lowering cholesterol levels (bad “LDL”) and reducing constipation (just ensure you’re drinking enough water!).  Big Benefits to Psyllium Husk IBD, IBS, Ulcerative Colitis and Constipation Relief – additional supplemental fiber intake in the form of psyllium husk is recommended by scientific studies to improve symptoms of digestive distress and relieve constipation by adding bulk to stool. When combined with water (or liquid) in the digestive tract, it can help speed the passage and excretion of stool. It also helps make the stool firmer.    Numerous studies conclude psyllium husk to be beneficial towards cholesterol levels; improving HDL “good” cholesterol and lowering LDL or “bad” cholesterol in a number of clinical trials. Compared to placebo, and not adjusting dietary habits, those taking psyllium reduced LDL levels by over 20% after 8 weeks of treatment – and the decline continued as the treatment progressed further.   Psyllium was found to help those with type II diabetes control their blood sugar and blood pressure without any negative side effects commonly associated with traditional ‘long-term’ medications. The high fiber content can help to maintain glycemic balance, and appears to be an extremely safe and effective choice for those with type II diabetes to better manage glucose regulation.  Feeling Bloated? Poor Gut Health? Is Psyllium Husk Right for Me? The primary complaint most people new to psyllium husk supplements will launch is bloat – how to beat the bloat? This is likely due to absorption of water from the psyllium husk and the sudden increase in dietary fiber (especially if you don’t eat a lot initially). To accommodate this, try scaling back on the amount of psyllium husk you’re using and ensure you’re staying properly hydrated throughout the day.  Bloating and gas may be an indication that you’re intaking too much fiber; but it could also just be your body slowly trying to adapt to the change.  If you have esophageal narrowing, or any sort of bowel obstructions, you’ll probably want to avoid taking any sort of psyllium husk supplement.  If you’re new to fiber supplements like psyllium, it is always best to start slowly and increase the dosage as you become accustomed to the increased changes in dietary fiber. You’ll want to take around a TSP to start with, with a large glass of water (~240mL) and a meal. 5 grams divided into three doses per day with water and meal is a safe and therapeutic dosage. You also want to make note to avoid using it at the same time as medications as it may impact their absorption and utility. Much like with apple pectin, we recommend trying to take psyllium an hour prior to medications, or around ~4 hours after any medications.

Colloidal Silver – Is it Safe, and Does it Work for Infections?

Colloidal Silver for Infection
First of all, yes, it does work for certain infections – colloidal silver has proven anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal properties.  This is promising news, considering the harm and dangers of antibiotics + antimicrobial resistance. Silver has long been used to address bacteria / bacterial infections for centuries, and has known active properties against both gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria.  Colloidal silver presents an effective treatment option for those looking to deal with a bacterial or viral infection – of course, this should always be done after consultation with a healthcare practitioner and should not be used to replace antibiotics in more serious bouts of illness or infection.  Now, is colloidal silver safe?  Most information out there online regarding colloidal silver seems to be conflicting and confusing at best – there are countless testimonials from people claiming silver helped them through severe infections or the first sign of illness. At the same time, there are plenty of well-known health sites or regulatory bodies that warn about safety concerns (like the FDA).  First, let us establish that colloidal silver is a “solution” of water that contains the suspended silver in nanometer-sized particles that are readily absorbed. The total silver content of the solution should be expressed on the supplement you purchase as “ppm” or parts per million. This is the same as mg of silver per liter of water (mg/L). Silver has been used as an antibiotic up until the early 1940s – this is thanks to various processes that occur once silver is ingested. Silver nanoparticles enter bacterial DNA, attach to bacterial cell membranes directly, and block the cellular process known as cellular respiration within the cells of organisms.  Ionic silver is not the same as true colloidal silver. Always ensure you purchase true colloidal silver when looking for a supplement – these do not contain additives, and the solution should only contain nanometer-sized silver particles and purified water.  Colloidal Silver is Safe for the Gut and Does Not Destroy “Good” Gut Bacteria After ~28 Days of Use As for colloidal silver being safe, there is plenty of debate online surrounding the use of silver internally. Those noting adverse effects like argyria (turning blue) are often not referring to pure colloidal silver, but rather low-quality, inexpensive products that contain silver that is not a nanoparticle.  Generally, when used for 10-14 days internally, it was not shown to cause any adverse side effects, nor was it shown to alter the gut microbiome. This means that even after 28 days of reported use, the diversity of “good” gut bacteria was not altered, destroyed, or changed by colloidal silver. This is a huge deal, especially when compared to the impact of traditional antibiotics on the microbiome.  Our stance is that colloidal silver will absolutely work as a potential antibacterial supplement, but it needs to be used/implemented short-term (10-14 days ideally; maximum of 28 days) on a strict dosage as indicated on the product.  Dosing Colloidal Silver, and a Word of Caution When it comes to dosing colloidal silver, most supplements are sold as a liquid tincture with a dropper. Depending on the condition, colloidal silver will be applied differently – generally, most practitioners will recommend against taking it for more than 14 consecutive days at a time.  Dosages may range depending on the concentration of the suspension itself. Always check/consult with the bottle or container for the most accurate dosing instructions.  2-5 drops can be applied topically to the skin for infections, wounds, and irritation.  5-10 drops can be taken internally, per day, for immune system support or to combat an infection. 1-2 drops can be placed in the eye directly for cases of pink eye.  Colloidal silver is always sold as a solution of purified water that contains nanometer particles of suspended silver. While silver has been demonstrated as safe, long-term or excessive prolonged use of colloidal silver may lead to some undesirable side effects – stick to recommended dosages, and only use it for the duration or period of time you need it for (I.E., recovery from a viral infection).  Colloidal silver can be applied topically or ingested internally – ensure to opt for a high-quality pure silver product, such as those sold on our website. 

Do Cranberries Really Work for UTIs? What the Science Says

Cranberries for UTI
Perhaps one of the most widely held, popular beliefs is that cranberry juice can help prevent recurrent UTIs or get rid of them.  A UTI itself can severely impact multiple parts of the urinary system – the bladder, kidney, and urethra. While UTIs are possible in men, women are more than 30 times more likely to experience them, with 55-60% of women having experienced one in their lifetime. They also account for close to 25% of all bacterial infections seen in women clinically.  Women’s urethras are more susceptible to bacteria entering the urinary tract, compared to men's. – if you experience pelvic pain, groin pain, urgent or frequent urination, or burning when you urinate, you should consult a healthcare professional for diagnosis of a possible UTI.  Given the prominence of antibiotic resistance to Escherichia coli, implementing alternate strategies to reduce this exposure to antibiotics is essential to protecting yourself from antibiotic overuse.  The majority of UTIs are caused by this bacterium, and this bacterium is becoming increasingly resistant to commonly prescribed UTI antibiotics like Bactrim and Cipro.  Aside from conventional wisdom towards prevention (increasing hydration with water throughout the day and gentle cleaning), cranberries often have the potential to alleviate symptoms or help prevent recurrence – but they must be in the form of an extract, not just the juice. Most store-shelf cranberry juices are also loaded with added sugars and won’t offer any sort of health benefit.  Recurring UTIs, while less common, are still a huge problem for a number of women and are often caused by the same pathogen. Do cranberries really work for UTIs? We’ll take a closer look at what the science says.  Cranberry Extract for Uncomplicated UTIs - What the Science Says Cranberry extracts contain a compound known as ‘proanthocyanin or “tannin.” This reduces the adherence of E. coli within the urinary tract and the colonization of the bacteria.  Studies show that extracts can help to prevent recurrent UTIs, but that cranberry juice is of little benefit. This is mainly due to the fact that there are not enough of the A-type proanthocyanins present in grocery store cranberry juice for it to be effective enough to stop bacteria from adhering to the walls of the bladder or urinary tract.  One scientific review from 2013 found that cranberry extracts were found to be protective against recurrent UTIs, in a PAC (proanthocyanin) dose-dependent manner.  You’ll typically want to look for 240 mg - 500 mg of cranberry extract per capsule, which contains ~15% PACs; 36 mg of PAC minimum in each capsule. Most brands won’t explicitly list the PAC content, so keep an eye out for the total mg of cranberry used per capsule.  Taking a supplement like D-Mannose in conjunction with cranberry extract can help ensure faster elimination of bacteria, and shows greater efficacy at preventing bacteria from adhering.  Given that cranberry extracts and unpasteurized cranberry juice products (with no added sugar) have no reported side effects and are of no harm, they offer a solution that is worth trying for any woman experiencing recurring UTIs.

Marshmallow Root – A Potent Digestive Aid for Better Gut Health

Marshmallow Root
A cursory Google search will prompt plenty of results associating marshmallow root with better digestive health, and “healing” the integrity of the gut for better health. But how exactly does it do this, and does it really work? First, let us touch on what marshmallow root is – before we approach it as a potent digestive aid for better gut health.  Marshmallow root is “Althaea Officinalis,” a perennial herb that is most commonly native to Europe, West Africa, and West Asia.  As an ancient ‘folk remedy,’ with widespread use across Middle Eastern countries, it has been consumed for thousands of years for relief of digestive and respiratory ailments.  Most commonly, it is consumed in capsule, powdered, or tea form – occasionally, you will see alcohol or glycerin-based tinctures. Marshmallow root is also typically added to many ‘natural’ cosmetics and personal care items.  How Marshmallow Root Protects the Lining of the Gut and can Help Restore Optimal Digestive Health In one study from 2011, an extract of marshmallow root was shown to help protect against gastric ulcers, platelet aggregation (clotting), and digestive inflammation. The extract also raised HDL cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol) while having no adverse impact on the liver or other health markers.  When ingested, marshmallow root tends to bulk up, and form a gel-like consistency. This extract can help coat the stomach lining.  Both marshmallow root and marshmallow tea – and by extension, supplements that are sold as “marshmallow extract” act as “mucilage.” This means that it sort of swells up when it comes into contact with water, and functions as a kind of fiber.  Naturally, marshmallow root will contain various bioactive compounds, all of which seem to contribute toward beneficiary effects on digestive health: flavonoids, polyphenols, polysaccharides, and phenolic acids.  Various studies proclaim an immediate effect by protecting “inflamed mucosa” or intestinal membrane. This is also seen in the respiratory tract.  Marshmallow Root Dosage and Safety Profile Marshmallow root seems to have a high safety profile, and no negative side effects have been reported in people taking the supplement for colds, flu, cough, sore throat, respiratory issues, digestive issues, or IBD. Generally, the only concern is for those who may have diabetes, as it has been demonstrated to lower blood sugar levels. Otherwise, marshmallow root does not appear to impact any other health markers negatively.  Marshmallow root comes in powders, capsules, tinctures, and tea forms. If you are taking marshmallow root specifically for digestive distress/disorders, your best option is to go for a capsule, alcohol-based tincture, or raw powder/tea. With tinctures, you’ll get the most concentrated dose, and with capsules, you’ll have the most possible control over the among you’re taking compared to teas or powders.  Always stick to the recommended dosage as outlined on the product/bottle itself. The concentration may differ between brands, but the guideline for those with Crohn’s / UC or IBD is around ~6g daily, split into 2-3 daily doses.  If you’re using a powdered form or raw tea, you’ll want to ensure you consume enough water as it can form a more gelatinous substance. As always, you should consult with a healthcare professional prior to use if you have any sort of pre-existing medical condition. We’d also advise taking it a couple of hours before or after other medications.

Goji Berries: A True Superfruit and Anti-Oxidant Powerhouse

Goji Berries
We all know some of the most nutritious, antioxidant-packed (super)foods are berries – from blueberries to mulberries – and everything in between. How does the goji berry or “wolfberry fruit” stack up against its humble competitors? Is Goji a true superfruit and anti-oxidant powerhouse as purported? Goji has been an integral part of Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years, and a popular superfood for fighting free radical damage, aging, and markers of disease. Typically, goji berries are eaten raw and dried, but can also be used in a powdered form for smoothies, bowls, and shakes. Nutritional Content of Goji Berries Before even getting into the polyphenol and antioxidant content of goji berries, the nutritional content alone is quite impressive. ¼ cup provides (depending on dried or powder form, and how they’ve been processed) approximately: 70 Calories 12g of Sugar 9g of Protein 6g of Fiber 150% DV Vitamin A 84% DV Copper 75% DV Selenium 27% DV Vitamin C 21% DV Potassium 15% DV Zinc 42% DV Iron Goji berries are also extremely rich in “phenolic acids,” “polysaccharides,” and “flavonoids” – biologically active compounds with beneficial health properties. These compounds are responsible for many of the health benefits attributed to goji berries. Various studies and literature denote the many health-promoting properties of goji berries, such as those documented and compiled here. Vision Support, Macular Degeneration, and Eye Health Goji contains many ‘carotenoids’ – the natural pigments that give fruits bright orange and red colors, such as carrots (and goji berries). This is why you have probably heard the old adage that carrots are great for vision health. They are extremely high in Vitamin A, and this is due to the beta-carotene content. In particular, goji is high in the carotenoid “zeaxanthin” which is sometimes sold as an individual natural supplement for vision support. Research shows this compound protects the retina and improves retinal function. Further, human and animal studies looking at goji berry extract (not just zeaxanthin) found that goji was protective and restorative in the early stages of retina and macular degeneration. Cardiovascular Protection, Lipid and Cholesterol-Lowering Support Studies demonstrate goji berry extract as having a notable reduction in total cholesterol and triglyceride levels compared to non-goji berry treated animals with elevated blood pressure and hyperlipidemia. Meanwhile, “good” cholesterol levels, HDL, were unaffected or increased with the dosage of goji berry extract. Aside from the high antioxidant levels of goji, they have also demonstrated the ability to lower blood lipid levels effectively in diabetic animal studies. Abnormal fat oxidization and accumulation in the blood vessels were inhibited in animals fed a high-fat diet after administration of goji extract. Goji appears to also be beneficial for diabetes from other studies, which point to its ability to lower blood glucose levels significantly and impact the rate of glucose uptake. Anticancer Benefits and Neuroprotective Benefits Not only are goji berries beneficial for heart health, cholesterol levels, and lipids – but they also have potent benefits in the fight against neurological disorders like Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s and even in protecting against cancer cell growth. Goji has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for many decades specifically to prevent the progression and early onset of cancer – the whole goji berry seems to have a better preventative effect than just extracts of specific compounds alone (those most commonly sold as supplements). The polysaccharides which are present in goji (polysaccharides are also extremely beneficial parts of what make medicinal mushrooms great) have the ability to inhibit and prevent tumor growth without negative side effects. Neurological brain health is an extremely important area of study, and the benefit of goji has been shown to reduce glutamate excitotoxicity, which is implicated in neurogenerative diseases. Treatment with goji showed a reduction in neurological deficits in stroke models and improved cognitive performance. Goji – Should I Be Adding Them to My Smoothies or Bowls? Similar to many other potent superfruits, goji berry offers a natural, whole-food antioxidant powerhouse that does not require supplementation or medication to confer benefits against cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, cancer, neurological disorders, and vision degeneration. Best of all, goji is easy to incorporate into daily diets in a wide variety of dried forms, powders, and extracts for any need – all available at Healthy Planet Canada.
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