History of Herbalism
As we evolved through time, our bodies somewhere in the process of regenerating itself to what we are today, got weakened. As human progressed, mentally, economically, emotionally and socially, we did forget to understand the gravity of not having balance within ourselves. Throughout evolution our bodies somehow lost the ability to make vitamins as they were already present in generous amounts in the food we ate through the years, yet still we lead ourselves down a path that slowly subtly started to weaken our physical being without realising the initial tell-tale signs of it all.
If one wonders about when exactly did our bodies start to lose resistance, well surprisingly enough it’s been a concern for many since anyone can remember. From the start of sustainable agriculture, the benefits of what food had on our health, was first recorded in the ancient’s scribes of Sumeria (present day Iraq) at the cities of Mesopotamia and ancient Babylon. The health benefits of the agriculture produce were studied in greater detail however the records that were on clay tablets have been destroyed and the rest lost through time.
Ancient Egyptians recommended certain foods for improving night vision, it was the Greeks, Romans and the Arabs much later in time that made advances in medicine, though they couldn’t prevent health problems from occurring however they knew how to deal with a certain illness once the symptoms began to show. Sadly, early herbalist had preventive potions that worked wonders, but were aggressively dismissed as being works of wizardry and witchcraft, years later in Europe, the Church diminished all medical theories of science as they considered it blasphemous, which made the rise of any basic knowledge of herbs and its benefits were impossible to be given any acknowledgement.
In 1750, Scottish Naval doctor James Lind, recognised an unknown property found in the citrus fruit (Vitamin C) which was undefined, then worked miracles in curing scurvy. In 1753 he did publish his findings and surprisingly his breakthrough was ignored and dismissed.
It was only in the 18th century that change began of this somewhat barbaric theory behind herbalism after 100,000 British Sailors died due to scurvy its only then when the Lords of Admiralty accepted this new-found phenomenon in Vitamin C, which was found in citrus fruits and then by surprise the healing abilities of it took the British Empire by storm. All British ships soon found themselves, hoarding Lemons as precautions for scurvy. Hence they were branded with the nickname ‘Limeys’ due to the fact of the limes they kept in enough supply for the crew when they embarked to sail on many adventures.
What are Vitamins and Minerals, and why do we need them?
Vitamins: Are Organic Compounds that are essential nutrients that an organism needs in limited amounts. The organic chemical compound is called Vitamin, especially when the body cannot synthesize(manufacture) the said compound in sufficient quantities. Then it is imperative one must obtain them through a nourishing diet. Everybody needs nutrients to functions and ward off and fight diseases. Vitamins are essential for normal growth and as they are a basic compound needed by our body and are made through our cells from other nutrients. As we evolved without the ability to get the required dosage of vitamins the body needs, hence it is necessary to supplement them. Although we need a certain dose of our daily Vitamins to help us grow and develop our body, however it is possible to become deficient of them even if they are present amply in the food we eat. Additional supplements become necessary to prevent damage to your health and wellbeing.
Minerals: Are inorganic substances found in the soil and rocks. They are very essential nutrients that the body needs to survive and carry out our daily functions of life. We get them from plants that absorbs these minerals from the earth, and from animals that graze on these plants. Minerals are important for various body functions and are a key element in building strong bones, teeth, blood, skin, hair, nerve function muscle and for the metabolic process that turns food into energy.
So how does one understand when it is the right time to start with supplements? What dosage is appropriate and more importantly, what one must take and why? The obvious answer to these would remain is that, Children, Pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, diabetics and men and woman past and age of having the ability to maintain these balances are the first choice to introduce supplements to.
But what if I tell you, that age, hormones and illness are not the only reasons to start considering taking supplements. Sadly, the world we live in today being extremely polluted and toxic has alarmingly and gradually begun to destroy the balance within our bodies, no matter how healthy your daily regime might be, we all are at risk of loosing precious vitamins and minerals that our body needs to survive and to strengthen our defence system against other lurking diseases. Before you decide to fortify yourself, always first know and understand how your individual body is reacting to your environment. And by that I simply mean, regular monetary health check-ups and blood tests which would reveal very important levels and imbalances your body that reveal diseases it might be fighting against.
Dealing with Deficiencies
The fact remains is we never realise in any moment of time how our lifestyle is actually quite inadequate in maintain a proper balance for our body. Its only when we start noticing tell tale signs that we pay attention to ourselves and seek help. So how does one decipher these signs our bodies are trying to communicate to us? How do we determine that these are really something one should start worrying about? Understanding how deficiencies make themselves known to us is by first learning the lack of which Vitamin and Minerals are causing them. To make you comprehend these signs better, I have listed down a few of the most common deficiencies signs of Vitamin D, that would help you spot them better when you go through it and what can help control this most common deficiency that affects 75% of India’s population.
The Cause and the Cure
Deficiency: Vitamin D, The Sunshine Vitamin
Symptoms: Bone pain, muscle weakness, Liver, kidney and Heredity disorders, osteoporosis (a condition where bones becomes brittle and brittle due to loss of tissue, hormonal changes and deficiency of calcium and Vitamin D ), poor hair growth, cancer risk and rickets ( imperfect calcification or hardening of the bones, softening and distortion of the bones resulting in bow legs) in children.
Cure: Vitamin D helps absorb Calcium into your body, which is vital in for strengthening Bones. It also plays a very important role in your nervous system, muscle and immune systems. This being one of the most common deficiencies that affect many globally and it is important to understand how to acquire your daily dose most effectively. Vitamin D is attained in three ways, though the skin after exposure to sunlight, from your diet and from supplements. As we also know too much exposure to the sun does cause adverse effects such as skin aging and skin cancer, leaving us to find alternatives. Sadly, as most Indians including me, are Vitamin D deficient, it’s crucial we all know and understand the importance of why we need to start our daily supplements and it is vital to educate ourselves to be certain on the right dosage, is equally critical.
There minimum requirement of Vitamin D per day depends upon your age. Listed below are in units (IU) in accordance to your age group:
• Birth to 12 months: 400 IU
• Children 1-13 years: 600 IU
• Teens 14-18 years: 600 IU
• Adults 19-70 years: 600 IU
• Adults 71 years and older: 800 IU
• Pregnant and breastfeeding women: 600 IU
So, lets get down to the nitty gritty! How do we get our daily supply of Vitamin D when you really aren’t the one to sunbathe or take the prescribed supplements from your nutritionist? Well, incorporate the right foods in your daily diet is the secret and whether you are a vegetarians or a non-vegetarian. Researching on foods that are rich with vitamins should be on everyone’s to-do list! educate yourself on what you eat and why exactly are you eating it. Get down to basics, stop reading labels on the obvious food brands that suggest they are high in vitamins, the best way to find them is to get out there and embrace mother nature and her beautiful produce and get them from the uncorrupted source, what could be more natural and pure.
Your Vitamin D diet in harmony with your food preference.
Vegetarians: Well load yourself up on dairy products, Soy Milk, tofu and Mushrooms which are astoundingly highly packed with Vitamin D. And if you aren’t the squeamish kind and call yourself an “Eggatarian” well congratulations! Cause you can add egg yolks to your diet without any qualms since the yolk is where all the Vitamin D is stored in the egg. So, eat away!
Non-vegetarians: By not sounding pompous I do say however that we non-vegetarians have got it made! Apart from being at liberty to eat from the suggested vegetarian diet, we can choose from a wide variety of fresh produce including protein to add in our list for a quick jump-start for our Vitamin D intake. However always understanding the cardinal rule that one must maintain a balance with what you are eating. Choosing the right protein is extremely important so ensure other organs don’t get effected by them. Red meat is definitely a no-no when eaten excessively since it being high in saturated fat which is known to raise the blood cholesterol in turn making the LDL cholesterol increase the risks of heart diseases.
The much wiser approach is to switch to Fish, being rich in protein and Vitamin D is also the best source for Omega D3 fatty acids which is vital for your body and brain. Fatty Fish like Salmon, Trout, Tuna, Sardines and mackerel are richer in fatty acids, which reduce the risk of heart diseases. Ensure to add fish to your diet to minimum twice a week for your recommended dose.
The Significance of Supplements
Ever wondered why you need supplements? We in our daily lives are bombarded with a gazillion confusingly uncertain propaganda that glorify natural supplements most of them many of us haven’t even heard of. Each professing their magical capabilities in healing and bringing balance to the body and mind. All sounds very mythic and yet somewhat believable for as we remain clueless, everyone of us strive for a healthier self and lifestyle amongst the corrupted environment that surrounds us, which alarmingly and gradually is destroying our immune system. Before you subscribe to any of them blindly, self -reflect upon the way we are living. Everything around us that was once pure is slowly fading away, improper farming techniques deplete the soil of its essential nutrients, so when plants are grown on the same soil repeatedly it loses vitamins, minerals and microbes before it has even time to regenerate.
Plants are robbed of nutrients when they are treated with pesticides and chemicals that are used to make them grow faster, which are more harmful to us than anyone can imagine. Even the water we drink is stripped off important minerals such a magnesium during filtration and further contaminated with chlorine and potentially harmful chemicals like fluoride. Being well aware of these atrocities we further cause damage to our bodies by following a ridiculous diet regime that actually doesn’t benefit us at all.
Most of the time what we think is healthy eating in realty is quite absurd. Low calorie diets are low in nutrients, which means if you are watching your weight you need to find an appropriate diet plan that combines all the important vitamins and minerals one needs as per their daily dosage. Choosing to avoid this, would only make matters goes worse for your body in the long run. Balance is extremely vital in maintain the proper function of your body. Whether you are on a diet or not , regardless of your body mass index, every human being on earth needs it’s vitamins on daily bases , eating a healthy meal three times a day is essential and most strictly following a dedicated and disciplined routine of fortifying your system with the essential supplements you need to strengthen your immune system and safeguard yourself from the toxic chaos that surrounds our world today.
Your body needs more nutrients to fight toxins, sad enough the body tends to absorb less nutrient as we grow older, while dealing with an illness or when living with lifelong ailments such as diabetes as I do. I however, programmed myself to understand that my body needs that extra help to cope with all that slowly deteriorates it. One naturally adapts to being wiser in learning how to compensate for all the vitamins their body lacks and steer it onto the path of complete rejuvenation.
So how do you know what supplements that one can buy off the counter are good for you? By first understanding the purity, the nutrition facts and the cure behind them. I list the top three most popular trends in rejuvenation vitamins that the world had grown fond of and have trusted through time.
The word Biotin is derived from the Greek word “biotos” meaning life or sustenance. Also, known as Vitamin H, Biotin is one of the B complex vitamins that enables the body to convert food into energy and keeps your, hair, skin, eyes, livers and nervous system healthy while also being an imperative nutrient during pregnancy as it aides in proper embryonic growth. Studies have proven that people with type2 diabetes benefit from Biotin as it helps regulate blood glucose levels. One can get their dose of Biotin from egg yolks, soybeans, whole grains, cauliflower, nuts such as almonds, pecans and walnuts, mushrooms and organ meats such as liver and kidney. A person needs about 30 to 200 micrograms of Biotin per day, so when you can’t manage to systematically have a regularly balanced meals that are enriched which Biotin, here come the supplements to the rescue!
Stinging Nettle Roots
Stinging Nettle or Common Nettle is native to Europe, Asia, North Africa and western north America. This ingenious little plant made its significance known thousands of years ago starting with the ancient Egyptians. Nettle infusion was used to treat arthritis and lumbago pains. Urtification, is a method of lashing oneself with nettle plant and being stung by the thorn laden leaves, it was a standard practice done by many cultures for thousands of years. It was used to treat chronic rheumatism, lethargy, coma, paralysis and even cholera. Roman soldiers are believed to have introduced nettle to the British Isles, by the method of Urtification, to relieve themselves painful legs after long marches.
In 46-377 B.C, Greek physician Hippocrates created 61 remedies using the humble Nettle plant. The variety of cures this unassuming plant had truly made its debut in the book De Simplicbus in second century A.D written by Greek physician Galen. The uses were remarkable and endless, from treating, dog bites, mouth sores, sinuses, excessive menstruation, swellings, gangrenous wound, asthma, pneumonia, spleen related illness and even used as a diuretic and laxative just to name a few.
Nettle, the priceless panacea for men
Nettle is known for it’s nutritional value is rich in vitamins and minerals and because of it’s anti-inflammatory and diuretic properties, it’s been immensely used to relieving urinary tract and prostrate problems. Prostatitis though commonly affects men between the age group of 30 to 50, they are however cases reported for men below that range as well. Being a bacterial infection, it lingers on for months and is known to get aggravated after men suffer from an urinary tract infection (UTI) or acute bacterial prostatitis. Benign Prostrate Hyperplasia (BHP) is a noncancerous increase of size of the prostrate, complication due to it lead to UTI’s, bladder stones and chronic kidney problems.
BPH affects men as they age, and studies show 50% of men between 50-70 and 90% of men above the age of 80. The unpleasant side effects like the frequent urge to urinate mostly at night makes it very problematic for anyone suffering with it. Research has proven the Stinging Nettle is effective in reducing the prostate size as well as the symptoms and is also worked wonders against it fight with BPH and it’s one of a kind healing ability has been appreciated worldwide. The reason for this success rate is due to the fact that Stinging Nettle contains compounds that inhibit enzyme 5-alpha, which converts testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT) which is the potent androgen hormone that’s associates with prostrate enlargement, low testosterone levels and also hair loss.
Men and woman reach puberty due to the production and release of testosterone, regardless of the belief that this hormone is mostly associated with men, women also produce it. Testosterone helps stabilise sexual libido in women and regulate and sustain bone mass. Nettle assists in maintaining healthy testosterone levels and is used also increase the sex drive due to its ability to keep the hormone active. Nettle is also used worldwide as a libido stimulant and is preferred for it does not encourage BPH.
Pumpkins originated in central America, the seeds related to this plant were found in Mexico that date back to around 5500B.C. The word pumpkin is derived from the Greek word Pepon meaning large melon and were very popular in ancient Greece. Renamed by the English as Pumpion in 1547, Pepitas as known in Mexico is used in their cuisine for the dietary and medicinal properties. North American tribes were the first to discover their remarkable qualities, the seed improves over time and the nutritive values increases as they decompose.
According to tests done at the Massachusetts Experimental Station, results showed that squash and pumpkin seeds when stored for more that five months show an increase in protein content. These light green oval seeds are rich in nutrients and contain high content of protein , dietary fibre and numerous micronutrients. In a serving of 100gms of dried and shelled seed the calorie count is 574 kcal and is an excellent source of niacin, iron, zinc, manganese, magnesium and phosphorus. To those who don’t understand that benefits of these, let me break it down for you to get a better understanding of the importance of these vitamins and minerals.
Properties of Pumpkin seeds, dried and shelled
Copper: Helps the body form collagen (is a protein in the body that gives structure to hair, skin, nails, bones, ligaments and tendons) and assist in absorbing Iron while it plays a major role in energy production, together it enables the body to form red blood cells. Apart from maintaining healthy bones, blood vessels, nerves and immune function, copper in your diet.
Niacin: Is one the eight B Vitamins, also known as Vitamin B3, it is proved to improve cholesterol levels and lower cardiovascular risks, ease arthritis and energise brain function.
Iron: Two thirds of your body’s Iron is represented by Haemoglobin which is a protein molecule in red blood cells responsible for oxygen carrying blood cells, from the lung to the body’s and returns carbon dioxide from the tissues back to the lungs. Lack of Iron tampers with Haemoglobin’s routine leading to anaemia. During inadequacy of healthy red blood cells that body doesn’t get enough oxygen. Iron creates energy from nutrients and assists in the transmission of nerve impulses(signals that coordinates actions to various parts of your body) and is imperative in maintaining healthy cells, skin nails and hair.
Zinc: This metal is knowns as the “essential trace element” for the reason being we need very small amounts of it. Used for treating common cold, ear infections, asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, preventing lower respiratory infections, Malaria, skin conditions and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)
Manganese: Like Zinc is a trace mineral needed in small amounts. It plays a vital role in fat and carbohydrate metabolism, calcium, absorption and blood sugar regulation. It is important for normal brain and nerve function, low levels of this mineral can cause infertility, bone malformation, weakness and seizures.
Magnesium: One of the fourth most abundant mineral in the body, it plays several roles in the well being of your body and brain. Found in the earth , sea, plants and animals, 60% of the magnesium is also found in your bones. Needed in every cell in your body to function knowns as the “helper molecule” in biochemical reactions as it perpetually performed by enzymes, for creations of energy, protein formation, gene maintenance, muscles movements and nervous system regulation.
Phosphorus: Is a mineral found in foods like beer, cheese, beans and fish and it plays a vital role in maintaining the balance in your kidneys, bones, muscles and blood vessels. Phosphorus and calcium work together in building strong bones and is essential in it’s structural role on nucleic acids (molecules that make organisms transfer genetic information from one generation to the next) and cell membranes (they protect the cells from its surroundings).
Fortifying yourself for a better future!
One must always know the fine balance of Vitamins and Minerals your body needs, an imbalance of these will cause harm in the long run. Eating a well-planned diet is the key to acquiring a health body and mind. We tend to overlook the seriousness of how lack of proper Vitamins and Minerals can play havoc every part of our body and mind. It’s a known fact our body by itself cannot produce the required amount of them both on daily bases and we need a little help from mother nature to keep us healthy by supplementing ourselves with all that naturally evades our well-being. A simplified way to be in control on your daily supplements is to understand what the warning signs your body and mind gives out. When Its reacting to deficiencies, listen, understand and act upon them by consulting a physician and by also doing your own homework on finding natural supplements to compensate them. Remember spend that little extra time on yourself from your busy schedule and take heed to pamper cravings your body seeks at that moment in time. All your body needs is a little understanding, love and care to make you go that extra mile in life feeling alive, strong and healthy!
Happy Healing Ya’ll!!!