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red clover herbal benefits

8 Ways Red Clover can benefit health and fertility

8 Ways Red Clover can benefit health and fertility

The Red Clover (Trifolium pratense) is harvested for consumption from its seeds and flower. It has always been believed that this perennial plant has medicinal and herbal properties essential for our well-being, health and even for fertility.

Its flowers blossom in areas across North America, Europe and Asia, but is perennial in nature. Bees also harvest its flowers to produce Clover Honey. Commonly, the flowers are used to brew in hot water as a flowery tea beverage. Otherwise, it may even be added into a salad much like a condiment. Additionally, the flowers and even the leaves can be dried for longer-term storage and distribution.

Also, the Red Clover can also be processed to an extract form, or even a creams or lotions, particularly for topical uses.

red clover flowerWhy is Red Clover consumed? It is believed that this plant contains many natural health and fertility benefits, in addition to being able to heal certain skin conditions as well. Let’s take a look at some of its benefits:

1)    Remedy for Menopausal Symptoms

Women approaching menopause may experience symptoms such as hot flushes and night sweats. Red Clover is believed to contain phytoestrogens called isoflavones, which can be used to relieve these symptoms.

Scientific studies are being done on the Red Clover to possibly use it as an alternative to Estrogen Replacement Therapy (ERT). This is as recent studies on ERT usage seem to point to an increased risk for heart disease and cancers as a result of long-term use.

Apart from that, a clinical study published on Maturitas in July 2002 has shown that Red Clover helps to significantly reduce hot flushes by 44%.

2)    Topical treatment for Psoriasis

Traditionally, Red Clover has been believed to contain elements that help speed up wound healing and also to treat specific skin conditions such as psoriasis. Typically, Red Clover extract is applied topically on the affected area. Furthermore, Red Clover has also been processed into a cream or lotion form and thus can be used in the same way.

3)    Preventing bone loss from Osteoporosis

Another side effect of menopause is also the risk of osteoporosis or bone loss. Red Clover, with its phytoestrogens content, has been studied as a contributor towards a reduced bone density loss or even helping towards increasing bone density in menopausal women.

This was revealed in a study titled “The effects of phytoestrogen isoflavones on bone density in women: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial” published in the American Society for Clinical Nutrition in 2004.

4)    Reducing Blood Cholesterol & Improving Arterial Compliance

Red Clover has been believed to help in reducing cholesterol. However, clinical studies thus far have not been conclusive. According to a Women’s Health Initiative study titled “The effect of red clover isoflavones on menopausal symptoms, lipids and vaginal cytology in menopausal women”, Red Clover was found to help significantly reduce triglyceride levels, as compared to the placebo group.

Another cardiovascular benefit of the Red Clover is in its impact in sustaining the elasticity of the large arteries like the aorta. As we age and with menopause, the elasticity of these arteries have been known to decrease. This study, “Isoflavones from Red Clover Improve Systemic Arterial Compliance But Not Plasma Lipids in Menopausal Women”, has indicated that arterial compliance increased by 23% after the test.

Reference: http://press.endocrine.org/doi/abs/10.1210/jcem.84.3.5561

5)    Assisting in weight loss

One of the effects of Red Clover consumption is its ability to stimulate the body to expel wastes in the form of urine. In addition to helping our bodies clear waste material from the kidney, this also helps in weight loss.

With water and waste more effectively eliminated from the body, this potentially helps lower blood pressure. This also assists in countering the water retention effects from pre-menstrual syndrome or menopause amongst women.

6)    As a Chemoprotective

Currently, research is still being conducted on the Red Clover’s potential as a Chemoproective due to its isoflavones content. In fact, a recent observation on the effect of red clover in an in-vitro study, seemed to point to its ability to stop the activation of cancer cell cultures. However, this is still very preliminary and more studies will be conducted to further this finding.

7)    Expectorant

Traditionally, in both Russian and Chinese medicines, Red Clover has also been used as an expectorant and even for bronchial asthma.

8)    Remedy for Fertility arising from low estrogen conditions

The isoflavones content within Red Clover that’s thought of as a remedy for conditions involving low estrogen levels, is also believed to assist with fertility arising from low estrogen conditions. On the flip side however, women with health conditions arising from too much estrogen in their bodies such as fibroids or endometriosis, should avoid red clover.

red clover herbal benefits

Possible side effects of red clover consumption

While red clover has a long list of benefits, some level of precaution or avoidance should be taken for those with the following conditions:

a)    Pregnant women should avoid taking Red Clover as studies on animals have shown that Red Clover has caused abnormalities in fetal development.

b)   As Red Clover contains high levels of isoflavones, women who are experiencing conditions arising from high levels of estrogen, such as endometriosis, some fertility conditions as well as cancers relating to the female reproductive system, should avoid this herb.

c)    People with blood-clotting defects should also avoid Red clover due to its anticoagulant properties. This means that red clover may potentially cause bleeding problems, and thus should also be avoided by those with low blood platelet counts. Thus, patients who are scheduled for surgery should also avoid red clover.

dried chinese wolfberry

Benefits of the Chinese Wolfberry

The Chinese Wolfberry has been used as part of Chinese Traditional Medicine for thousands of years. This is an all-natural herb that grows in Asia, with a long list of benefits ranging from improving eyesight, lowering glucose levels to prevention of disease.

dried chinese wolfberry

With a scientific name of Lycium barbarum, the Chinese Wolfberry fruit is a bright orange-reddish berry that’s about 1 to 2 cm in width. It is rarely taken and kept raw because of its non-durability in the natural form. Thus, for the purpose of storage and transport, the Chinese Wolfberry is typically dried when put on sale, or already processed to a juice form.

lycium barbarum

While there are studies done in recent years on the benefits of the Chinese Wolfberry on the preventing hepatic or liver disease, in addition to having antioxidant properties.

List of Benefits:

1)   Helping to improve vision

chinese wolfberry for vision
A study published by the “Optometry and Vision Science” on the effects of Lycium barbarum on Macular Characteristics and Plasma Antioxidant Levels, concludes that wolfberry may be helpful in raising antioxidant levels as well as prevention on hypopigmentation of the macula of the retina within the elderly.  This is after consumption of Lycium barbarum for 90 days.

Reference: http://journals.lww.com/optvissci/Fulltext/2011/02000/Goji_Berry_Effects_on_Macular_Characteristics_and.12.aspx

2)   Enhancing immunity and preventing cancer

chinese wolfberry to prevent cancer

Studies published in “Immunopharmacology” have indicated that the Chinese Wolfberry is essential in preventing the decline of the immunology system due to age. Thus, this means that the Chinese wolfberry can be effective in compensating for the reduction of antioxidant enzymes in the body due to ageing.

Additionally, research published in the Medical Oncology journal in 2011 suggests that the Chinese Wolfberry may contain anti-cancer agent properties.

References: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378874106006775 and http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12032-009-9415-5

3)   Promoting Liver Health

A study on the benefits of the Chinese Wolfberry on the liver, has indicated that this miracle plant works well to reduce the effect of toxins on the liver. Thus, consuming the Chinese Wolfberry may be helpful in preventing liver failure in the long run.

Reference: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378874111008415

4)   Promoting Heart Health

chinese wolfberry for heart health

The Chinese Wolfberry is also believed to help with heart health. The oxidized cholesterol level in our bodies increases with age as our enzyme SOD (superoxide dismutase) levels decreases. Oxidized cholesterol attach to arterial wall of our bodies, as we grow older.  SOD is needed to produce antioxidants that will help to prevent blood cholesterol from oxidizing.

Thus, as wolfberries help to increase SOD levels, this in turn helps to increase antioxidants that in turn reduce the oxidization levels of cholesterol in our bodies.

5)   Nutritional benefits of the Chinese Wolfberry

chinese wolfberry nutritional value

Apart from the major benefits listed above, the Chinese Wolfberry is also a natural source of the following nutrients:

Vitamin C
The vitamin C content in the Chinese Wolfberry is a good antioxidant source, essential in speeding up tissue repair and healing within our body.

Potassium
The potassium content is essential in maintaining the health of the pituitary gland that produces the growth hormone in our bodies.

Zinc
Zinc works hand in hand with Vitamin C as an antioxidant, in addition to other benefits such as maintaining healthy reproductive functions.

Manganese
This nutrient is vital for healthy skin and bones.

Vitamin B2
With Vitamin B2 essential for converting Carbohydrates into fuel, this assists in increasing energy levels.

Copper
Copper also helps with energy levels in our body as well as maintaining balanced hormonal functions.

How to consume Chinese Wolfberry

If the dried version of the Chinese Wolfberry is purchased, it can actually be added to any of the Chinese dishes such as porridge or soup, or even some of the vegetable dishes.

Another way to consume it, particularly in the west, is to eat them dried and uncooked much like how raisins are eaten.  This would mean tossing them into salads or combining them with bread.

Another alternative of Chinese Wolfberry would be in its syrup or liquid extract form. The dosage of these formulations really depend on the formulation itself and therefore, it’s best to refer to the packaging on the recommended dosage required for various health conditions.

Potential Side Effects

As with most natural herbal medications, there has always been a constant concern that these herbs may potentially contain toxins that are untested. Some of the concerns include atropine content within Chinese Wolfberries, but a study conducted by the University of Graz in 2006 found that atropine, which is a toxin, levels of the samples taken were far lower than permitted toxic levels.

Another side effect of this herb is its potential interaction with warfarin that is found in blood thinners, as found in some studies. Thus, those have blood thinners, as part of their medications, should avoid taking Chinese Wolfberries as a precaution.

In conclusion, the benefits of Chinese Wolfberries are numerous, but precautions need to be taken for certain prevailing medical conditions. It is always advisable to seek the advice of a medical practitioner on the risks of consuming herbal medications.

floaters in the eye

Natural Remedies for Floaters in the Eye

Have you ever experienced seeing transparent moving spots within your field of vision? Also, known as floaters in the eye, they usually appear when you are looking at a white background and sometimes after you have rubbed your eyes. As they don’t really affect our vision, most people just regard eye floaters as a natural annoyance and hardly seek therapy for this condition.

In some cases though, floaters in the eyes may disappear as the condition improves within several months. However, when floaters in the eye don’t seem to clear after a long while, it may be a symptom of a more serious condition. This is especially apparent when the quantity and frequency of eye floaters increase, if they are accompanied by flashes of light, or affect vision quality. When any of these occur, medical attention should be sought as soon as possible to avoid permanent vision loss.

floaters in the eye
Serious Optical Conditions relating to Eye Floaters

The presence of floaters in the eye could be a symptom of the following medical conditions:

  • Bleeding occurring in the eye
  • Retinal Detachment
  • Tear in the retina
  • Eye Tumor

 

These conditions will need to be evaluated by an Ophthalmologist for a proper diagnosis to be made. The urgency to seek medical attention increases if floaters in the eye are also accompanied by pain or occur post surgery or after an eye trauma.

Common causes of Eye Floaters

eye floaters in the elderly

It doesn’t matter if your eye floaters appear as cobwebs, looking like microbes floating across your field of vision, or if look like short threads or rings. Typically their occurrence increases with age when the collagen fibers of the vitreous humor within our eye shrink and become shred-like. The vitreous humor in our eyes is the gel-like structure that is located at the back of our eyes.

Because of this change, the amount of light entering our eyes and hitting the retina where images are captured is decreased. As a result, we see eye floaters. This condition often occurs to near-sighted individuals, those who have had cataract surgery or amongst the elderly between the ages of 60 and 75.

List of Natural remedies for Eye Floaters

Now that you know the causes, have ruled out a possible more serious condition, but are determined to eliminate eye floaters once and for all, here is a list of natural remedies that may be able to help you:

1) Bilberry

bilberry eye floater remedy

Bilberry has been known to provide strong nutrients to the retina, resulting in a healthier retina that’s less susceptible to disease. Apart from that, the antitoxidant in bilberry is believed to help stop the degradation of the vitreous humor. This helps to prevent floaters in the eye from becoming worse.

2) Fruits containing Antioxidants

Taking a healthy does of fruit has always been believed to keep our body in good health, in addition to helping to prevent occurrence of certain health conditions. For the eyes, adequate natural sources of Vitamin A are believed to help with strengthening the retina. Thus, taking regular vegetables high in Vitamin A such as carrots or cantaloupes may help in improving eye floater conditions.

fruit-remedy-floaters-in-eyes

Moreover, Vitamin C is an antioxidant essential in preventing tissue damage caused by free radicals. Thus, taking fruits rich in Vitamin C such as Mangoes, Cantaloupe, Kiwi and Oranges can help speed up tissue repair within your body. This should assist in recovering from any physical ailments or conditions you may be facing.

3) Methylsulfonylmethane Eye Drops

Also abbreviated as MSM, Methylsulfonylmethane is believed to help in softening membranes. With this, nutrients are able to pass through the optical membranes easily, thus allowing the eye to heal itself more quickly from various eye conditions, including floaters in the eye.

4) Taurine

One of the nutrients that have been found to have multiple benefits against aging and longevity is Taurine. Believed to have benefits spanning cardiovascular health, electrolyte functions, neurological health and immunity, Taurine has also been found to be essential in the prevention of vision loss due to aging. This nutrient works by combating cell degeneration at the retina. With adequate taurine, optimal vision function is maintained.

5) Omega 3 Fatty Acids

While most of us would have heard about the benefits of Omega 3 Fatty Acids towards cardiovascular health, this supplement is also useful in preventing diabetic retinopathy. Indirectly, this helps to prevent the occurrence of eye floaters.

6) Chinese Wolfberry (Gou Qi Zi)
gou zi ji remedy for floaters in the eye
Traditional Chinese Medicine comes with its own list of herbs and medicines that works naturally to prevent or treat physical conditions. One of these herbs is the Chinese Wolfberry that has been well-known to help with maintaining good vision and even prevent macular degeneration. Some ophthalmologists have also recommended this herb as a supplement in helping to improve optical-related conditions.

menstrual cramps

Top 10 Natural Remedies to help reduce or alleviate Menstrual Cramps

All women have experienced menstrual cramps sometime or another in their lifetimes. Most of us would just bear with the pain for several days, or consume some painkillers for some short-term relief. But in reality, you don’t have to suffer in silence. Alternative and natural remedies are some of the affordable and safe ways you can use to reduce or even eliminate your menstrual cramps.

However, when it comes to home remedies, it’s important to persevere and wait for the remedy to take effect as home remedies may take a while longer to work as compared to over-the-counter solutions.

Before we jump into the remedies, it’s best to have an understanding of why menstrual cramps occur. In the medical world, the condition of having excessively painful menstrual cramps or painful periods is known as dysmenorrhea.

menstrual cramps

For women with primary dysmenorrhea, which occur just before and during menstruation, the usual causes could be high levels of the hormone prostaglandins. Prostaglandins function to start muscle contractions in the uterine area so that the uterus lining is expelled each month.

Among those who are at risk of having dysmenorrheal include young women below the age of 20, family history, those with irregular menstruation, smoking women and those who have never given birth before. Apart from that, usage of certain types of IUD may also be associated with pain or cramps during menstruation.

List of natural remedies for menstrual cramps

1)   Drink lots of warm water

It may seem a little odd that simply drinking water can help alleviate cramps, but the explanation is pretty straight-forward.  There are two ways which water help. First, better hydration means that your body will not work to retain liquids. When water retention occurs, your body becomes bloated, increasing the likelihood of cramps.

Another way warm water can help is that blood flow is increased on the skin and this helps to relax the cramped muscles.

watermelon juice

To increase hydration, fruits with high water content may also help. These include watermelon, celery or berries.

2)   Increase intake of calcium

Calcium intake of 1000 mg per day for women between the ages of 19 and 50 may help reduce the incidences of muscle cramping. So, look for foods with high calcium content such as almonds, milk products or leafy green vegetables.

3)   Papayas

There is some truth in the fact that papayas have high nutritional value, including carotene and vitamin contents that are good in helping to reduce menstrual cramps.

4)   Buckwheat

buckwheat seeds

To reduce heavy bleeding, you need food that contains bioflavonoids and vitamin C. Buckwheat contains both and this fruit seed can easily use it to make pancakes or breads. This food has also a long list of other health benefits as well and is traditionally in the diets of the Yi people of China. It also helps with lowering cholesterol, controlling blood sugar and even gallstone prevention.

5)   Cinnamon

 

Another common household food that is often overlooked at as a remedy is Cinnamon. This simple spice has anti-inflammatory content and is also easily consumed. All you need is to make a hot pot of cinnamon tea and enjoy!

6)   Ginger

Ginger has always been a home remedy for all sorts of common ailments such as the flu, colds and headaches. It is not a wonder then that Ginger is also in the list of foods that work well in reducing pain from menstrual cramps.

cinnamon tea

You can either try to down a cup of ginger tea, or just add a piece of ginger to a glass of warm water.

7)   Fennel

There has been much research done on the impact of fennel in helping with Dysmenorrhea, and it has proven to be pretty much true. With antispasmodic properties, fennel works on relaxing muscle, thus reducing menstruation cramps in the process.  However, while this has been deemed to be a safe natural remedy, its antispasmodic properties may also work to increase bleeding. Thus, advise of a medical practitioner may be required for use of fennel in certain cases of menstrual cramps.

8) Maca Powder

maca powder

MACA powder is believed to work on helping with irregularities in general fertility issues or sexual health. Women who are facing low libido, or facing various menstrual problems such as late or early periods, painful periods, spotting or menstrual pain will benefit from maca powder. The way it works is that Maca Powder helps with correcting hormonal imbalance by working on the glands that are producing too much or too little hormones.

8)   Exercising

exercising

This is something all of us should do, but most of us don’t do enough of. Exercising helps to improve or stimulate blood circulation and also release endorphins. With proper blood flow and relaxation, you are less likely to experience menstrual cramps especially over the long term. While you may not be able to exert yourself during this time, moderate exercise is fine and would work well for your overall well-being too.

9)   Heat Packs

A direct way to relieve menstrual pain especially when you are at the thick of it would be to use heat packs. The increase in blood flow to the surface of your skin, will help reduce the muscle cramps. While you may use heat packs easily purchased from the supermarket, other ways to make your own heat pack include filling a cloth sack with rice and heating it in the microwave.

10)  Reduce Caffeine Intake

 coffee in a cup

Coffee has become such a regular beverage in our lives that we hardly realize cutting down on caffeine can actually help with reducing menstrual cramps. Caffeine has the ability to cause dehydration, and this also causes bloating. If you are craving for a replacement beverage, you may want to consider chamomile or cinnamon tea instead.

Finally, for optimal health and well-being, these are also some general lifestyle considerations:

  • Keep your body warm during menstruation
  • Avoid eating processed foods
  • Avoiding foods with caffeine
  • Get adequate amounts of sleep, at least 7 – 8 hours a day
  • Take multivitamins to support bodily functions and to build resistance