Make room for mushrooms!

Did you know eating mushrooms is extremely good for your health? Did you know that eating mushrooms is likely to help your body fight candida and definitely won’t make it worse?  Did you know that Lovastatin, the drug used to lower high cholesterol levels, is extracted from mushrooms?

Mushrooms have an extremely long history of medicinal use.  In Europe Dioscorides writes about their medicinal uses in 55AD and Gerrard lists them in his infamous ‘Herbal’ in 1663.  Their properties have been most extensively explored and utilized by the Chinese, and many of the mushrooms used medicinally in China in 200AD are still in common use today, including Reishi and Snow fungus.

Modern research has identified many active compounds in mushrooms with have a positive influence on our immune systems helping us to fight off all kinds of infections (viral, fungal and bacterial), lower our cholesterol levels and also help to inhibit the growth of cancer.

Even everyday mushrooms like Chestnut, Portobello and Button mushrooms have some of these immune boosting and cancer protecting chemicals within them.  Their health benefits are not compromised by cooking so eating mushrooms a few times a week, cooked or raw, sounds like a very good idea to me.

Delicious vegan mushroom soup recipe (serves four)
This recipe is very quick and easy to make and also cheap – I bought my ingredients from Lidl and the soup cost £2.70 to make!  I chose chestnut mushrooms but you could add any variety.  Next time I am going to try Reishi mushrooms (available at tesco) with Portobello as these varieties have even stronger immune boosting and anti-cancer properties.

Ingredients:
1 large onion, finely sliced
3 sticks of celery, sliced
2 x 250g chestnut mushrooms, cut chunky
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1l vegetable stock
1tbsp olive oil or cold pressed coconut fat
Black pepper

Method:

  1. Put the olive oil into a stainless steel saucepan, add the celery and onion and gently soften over a low heat. After three or four minutes add the garlic and cook for a further couple of minutes
  2. Add the mushrooms and vegetable stock, turn up the heat and simmer for fifteen minutes.
  3. Blitz until smooth with a hand held blender or in a food processor; season with black pepper
  4. Serve (or allow to cool completely and store in the fridge for up to three days.)

Delicious vegan sweet potato and cauliflower lentil dish

This delicious and simple recipe (discovered on the BBC Good Food website and amended) is good enough to serve to guests at a dinner party and works equally well as healthy mid week dinner.  Or you could make it and store portions in the fridge and have it cold over two or three days as a fantastically healthy lunch.  I made it for a friend who came over to dinner and ate the left-overs the next day.

This vegan meal has good levels of protein and contains your full five-a-day in just one meal.  It’s low in fat and high in fibre.  Cauliflower is from the cruciferous vegetable family and so has powerful cancer fighting properties.  The red cabbage and carrot slaw is packed full of anti-oxidants to slow down the ageing process.  The sweet potato (and the carrots) are rich in beta-carotene which supports skin and immune health.  Garlic helps to kill off unfriendly bacteria in the gut and supports the cardiovascular system.  And it’s gluten free!

The ingredients for two/three people are:
2 large sweet potatoes, skin on, scrubbed and cut into large chunks
1 cauliflower, cut into large florets
2tbsp garam masala
2 tbsp coconut fat and 2tbsp olive oil (you can use extra olive oil in place of the coconut fat)
200g Puy lentils
500ml vegetable stock
One small onion, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic
thumb sized piece of ginger, grated
2tsp Dijon mustard
2 limes, juiced
2 Carrots
1/4 red cabbage
1/2 packet of fresh coriander

Method:
1. Heat the oven to 180 degrees fan or gas mark 6.  Place a large baking tray in the oven with the coconut fat until it melts.  Then add the sweet potato and cauliflower along with the garam masala to the baking tray, mix everything well and then spread everything out.  Add three garlic cloves (unpeeled), season and roast for 30-35 minutes until cooked.

2. Gently fry the onion in a saucepan until it is soft.  Add in the lentils, the vegetable stock and a crushed clove of garlic.  Bring to the boil and simmer until lentils are cooked but not mushy. Stir occassionally and add a little water if it starts to get too dry. Drain.

3. Remove the garlic from the tray and squish them to squeeze out their insides.  Combine the garlic with the olive oil, the ginger, mustard, a pinch of sugar and 1/3 of the lime juice.  Whisk and then add to the warm lentils.  Stir through and season to taste.

4. Coarsely grate the carrots and finely shred the cabbage and roughly chop the coriander.  Squeeze over the remaining lime juice and season to taste.

5. Divide the lentil mixture between the plates (or containers if saving and chilling).  Top each with the cauliflower and sweet potatoes and a serving of the carrot and cabbage slaw.
This is a perfect complete meal; however, you could add some sliced hot nan bread to the table if you wished.

Enjoy!

 

Eating for energy

Managing the menopause – naturally Glowing not sweating!

Ordinary winter blues or SAD?

Here’s What You Should Know

Everyone knows the feeling that overtakes us as winter drags on well past the holidays. We look outside at a cold, desolate world with gray skies and ask ourselves, “Will spring ever arrive?” In most cases, these emotions are just part of our annual winter blues. They’re unpleasant but far from debilitating. In some cases, however, these symptoms point to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a serious condition that affects 1 in 15 people in the UK between the months of September and April. In this post, we’ll outline SAD’s causes, risk factors and treatments.SAD basics
SAD occurs primarily during the winter (although summer is the triggering season for some people, according to Smithsonian).

Symptoms of the illness can include:
– Lack of energy
– Excessive or erratic sleep patterns
– Irritability
– Overall lethargy
– Craving for sweets or other carbohydrates
– A sense of futility or hopelessness about life in general
– An inability to accept or believe good news

Everyone experiences these problems once in awhile, of course. But, when they’re severe enough to impact the person’s quality of life, and when they seem to come and go with the seasons, then SAD is a prime culprit, according to the American Psychiatric Association (APA).

Causes of SAD
In modern times, we often forget that human beings have a strong historical and biological connection with the change of seasons. For most of history, our ancestors spent their days either gathering or producing food. Winter meant more than cold weather to these people. It was a time of heightened dangers and prolonged hardship. Also, since farming is a seasonal occupation, the coming of winter entailed long periods of boredom and inactivity.

Today, few of us in the West worry about going hungry. But our connection with the past remains encoded in our makeup. This may explain why we feel downbeat when winter comes calling. Specific changes that can occur within our bodies include:

– Disruptions to our brain’s production of melatonin and serotonin, two chemicals that regulate our emotions and sleep/wake cycle.
– Cyclic changes due to reduced natural light. Our brain may have trouble keeping us on a normal schedule when dawn comes later and dusk earlier.
– Lowered demand for stamina leading to a sort of semi-hibernation.

Risk factors
Certain people are at special risk of developing SAD. Common characteristics of sufferers include:
– Personal or family history of depression or other mental illnesses.
– Physical health issues like sleep apnea, diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension.
– Psychological trauma in the recent months or years, such as losing a loved one.

Treatments
Talk to your healthcare provider if you believe you’re suffering from SAD. She may prescribe any or all of the following measures:
– Antidepressants.
– Counseling.
– Increased physical activity.
– Light therapy, which researchers believe helps to regulate the body’s clock.

SAD and substance abuse
Some people turn to drugs or alcohol as a means of coping with SAD. In fact, people with the disorder are at special risk for developing addictive behaviors. But these measures only make the underlying problems worse. Seek help if you feel tempted by substance abuse. You may find respite in alternatives such as group counseling, exercise and expressing your creative gifts.

Taking Life as It Comes
Each season has charms of its own. Winter’s beauty is more subtle than that of spring and summer, but it’s just as real. Learning to appreciate what every moment has to offer can help anyone to feel better, even those who struggle with seasonal depression.

Author
Kimberly Hayes enjoys writing about health and wellness and created PublicHealthAlert.info to help keep the public informed about the latest developments in popular health issues and concerns. In addition to studying to become a crisis intervention counselor, Kimberly is hard at work on her new book, which discusses the ins and outs of alternative addiction treatments.

Teenagers with exam stress – how diet and supplements may help

This time of year can be really stressful for teenagers studying for exams. Some students seem to breeze through it while others get extremely anxious, suffer with poor sleep, depression, and literally become sick with the pressure.

If your child is having a hard time, improving their diet and, if you are able to, their sleeping and exercise habits, can really give their brains, mood and immune systems a well needed boost.

If your child is very conscious of trying to maintain a low body weight or lose weight, their overall intake of food is likely to be low, or they may have erratic eating habits – this makes the quality or ‘nutrient density’ of the food they are consuming even more important.

Anxiety and low mood
Feelings of anxiety and low mood are often exaserbated by low levels of vitamins and minerals as well as poor sleeping and eating routines. Stress increases the body’s need for B vitamins and magnesium in particular.

Magnesium has numerous different functions within the body. It helps to reduce feelings of stress and tension and promotes restful sleep. It also helps to reduce symptoms of premenstrual syndrome such as tearfulness and extremes of emotion before monthly periods. It is involved in muscle contraction and helps to ease muscular tension and cramps. Magnesium works with calcium and vitamin D to ensure good bone density. Magnesium is also involved in numerous detoxification reactions and so has a role in helping to clear the body of toxins. Over 40% of the adult population in the UK do not consume the recommended 270-300mg magnesium per day, and teenagers have greater than average needs.

Magnesium rich foods include nuts and seeds, seafood, whole grains like brown rice and quinoa. Magnesium supplements are often taken in the evening to help with relaxation and sleep.

B vitamins
There are many different B vitamins and all of them are involved in converting food into usable energy within the body; many of them are also involved in maintaining the health of the brain and nervous system. B vitamins are mostly water soluble and not stored in the body so they need to be consumed every day. (The exception is B12 which is stored in the liver.)

B1 (Thiamine) – is needed to keep the brain working well in terms of mood, memory and concentration and to prevent depression. It is found in meat, whole grains and nuts. Alcohol depletes the body of thiamine and people who under eat or have digestive disorders may also be low.

B6 (Pyridoxine) – is involved in the manufacturing of serotonin and other neurotransmiters within the brain which help with mood. Good levels of B6 are thought to help with depression: there is mixed evidence on it’s helpfulness in pre-menstrual syndrome.

Salmon and tuna are particularly good sources of this vitamin; bananas are also a good source. It is found in a wide range of foods in lower amounts including meat, poultry, fish, fortified foods such as breakfast cereals, and other vegetables. In spite of B6 being found in a wide range of foods, low levels of B6 are thought to be quite common.

B9 (Folate) – Folic acid is the synthetic version of the vitamin Folate which is found in vitamin supplements. One in five people are not able to convert the synthetic version of folic acid into folate in the body, and so can only get B6 through their diet and not via supplements. Folate is important for brain health and some studies have shown it is helpful in depression. Higher levels are needed during periods of rapid growth such as pregnancy, infancy and the teenage years. Folate is found in dark leafy greens such as spinach and kale. It is also found in avocados, oranges and whole grains. Folate deficiencies are relatively common as lots of people do not eat enough vegetables.

Iron – Low levels of iron not only lower your energy levels, but they also cause low mood and increase your suseptibility to illness. Teenage girls with heavy periods, or vegetarians need to think carefully about whether they are eating enough iron rich foods. Good sources include red meat, the dark meat of poultry, pork; vegetarian sources include beans and pulses, dried apricots and dark, leafy greens.

Low energy levels
If your teenager is lethargic and has low energy levels talk to them about how well they are sleeping and whether they need to change their evening routine to improve their sleep patterns.
Are they low in iron? Girls with heavy periods or vegetarians are vulnerable to poor iron levels. Iron works with B12 (found in animal products) and B6 (see above) to manufacture red blood cells which deliver oxygen to the body, so all three nutrients are needed in good amounts.

All B vitamins are involved in converting food into usable energy by the body, so a deficiency in any of them will have a negative impact on energy levels.

Too many sugary foods and drinks and other refined carbohydrates will lead to blood sugar highs and lows which will lead to low energy levels and fatigue as well as increased feelings of anxiety and stress.

Ironically, lack of exercise actually makes us tired! It also makes us less likely to sleep well. Making sure students take a break from studying and get out to do some exercise will help them to feel more energised, sleep better and study more effectively.

Frequent infections
To prevent coughs, colds and other infections the body needs good stores of iron and vitamin D as well as vitamin C, vitamin A and zinc.

Vitamin D is difficult to obtain in adequate quantities from the diet and a supplement during the winter months might be needed.

Zinc is essential for a strong immune system; it is also needed for growth and sexual maturation and so is particularly important for teenagers.  Low zinc status is associated with reduced cognitive function; zinc is also a crucial mineral in the treatment of acne.  It is involved in so many different processes in the body ensuring good levels of zinc is vital for optimum health.

Zinc is most readily available from meat, seafood and poultry. It is also found in beans and pulses, nuts, seeds and whole grains. The rates of absorption of zinc from pulses and grains is limited by phytates found in these foods; soaking whole grains for several hours before cooking is recommended to improve the availability of zinc from whole grains and pulses.

Vitamin A is essential for immune health, great skin and good respiratory function.  It is found in egg yolks and oily fish. Most people make most of their vitamin A from beta-carotene which is found in orange fruits and vegetables such as canteloupe melon, carrots, peppers, mangos and squash. Beta-carotene is also in leafy greens. Try to get your kids eating a wide variety of different coloured fruits and vegetables every day to ensure they are getting as wide a variety of vitamins and other phytochemicals as possible.

Sometimes it is very helpful for your children to hear advice from someone apart from you! This article was inspired by a client I saw a couple of weeks ago.  A mum bought her seventeen year old daughter to me because she was feeling very stressed about her ‘A’ levels and boyfriend troubles and was sleeping badly. Like many teenagers her diet was very poor, eating little breakfast, junk food for lunch and often missing family dinners. She didn’t like swallowing tablets so was unwilling to consider any supplements. I went through her diet and sleep/exercise habits with her in detail and then together we devised a diet plan of foods she liked to eat that would bring in the range of nutrients, vitamins and minerals that she needs to feel good.

The girl’s mum emailed me two weeks later to express her thanks because the consultation had such a positive impact on her daughter’s eating habits and her mood and sleeping had improved too. Sometimes a little outside help can go a long way!

Book your teenager in for a nutrition consultation today and get 20% off their initial consultation
Quote code: ‘EXAM2018’ when booking*

Call Ellie now on 07949463288 or email ellie@hollyhealthcare.co.uk to arrange an appointment or to discuss how nutrition or herbal medicine may help your family

Please note, this article is meant for general dietary guidelines only.  It is always wise to seek professional advice before taking supplements.

*Limited offer, subject to availability

Lentil, Carrot and Cumin Soup

Delicious, quick and easy to make and incredibly healthy!  This vegan friendly recipe is fab for lunches or lighter mid week dinners.  Did you know cumin has very powerful antioxidant qualities and helps to prevent chronic disease such as cancer and heart disease and slows the ageing process?  Lentils are a great source of protein, fibre and iron and carrots contribute to your 5-a-day.   Ginger and garlic both improve your circulation and fight infection.

Tip: Make double quantities and freeze half.

Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 medium onion, chopped
500g carrots, grated
1 cup red lentils, rinse well
2 tsp cumin seeds, whole
Generous pinch chilli flakes
1 small clove garlic, crushed
1cm square ginger chopped small
1 litre vegetable stock
1tbsp coconut fat
Optional: 4 tbsp 0% fat natural organic yogurt or 4tbsp coconut milk

Method:

  • Fry the cumin seeds and chilli in a dry saucepan until they start to pop. Remove 1/4 of them from the pan.
  • Add the coconut fat and the onion and turn down the heat, gently fry the onion until soft
  • Add in the grated carrot, ginger, garlic, lentils and vegetable stock and simmer for 20 minutes
  • Remove from the heat and blend with a hand held blender or food processor; top with the remaining toasted spices and serve
  • Optional: For extra protein and creaminess you may add a heaped tablespoon of natural yogurt to each bowl; or a tbsp of coconut milk or nothing at all – its tasty all ways!
  • Serve with nan bread sliced into strips; if you are counting calories, omit the nan bread and have an extra bowl of soup if you are still hungry.

Vitamin C – should I be taking supplements?

The current UK recommended daily intake of vitamin C is 40mg, but is this enough? Should we be taking supplements, or will they do more harm than good?

Recommended daily allowances (RDAs) are generally set to prevent vitamin deficiency diseases.  Lack of vitamin C causes scurvy, which ultimately leads to death if adequate vitamin C intake is not restored.  Symptoms of scurvy include slow wound and skin healing, frequent infections, bone and tooth weakness, tiredness and low mood, and damage to the cardiovascular system.

Vitamin C is now also widely recognised as being involved in a huge number of processes in the body and is considered an antioxidant nutrient.  Vitamin C is involved in collagen and protein manufacture, so inadequate vitamin C intake is likely to accelerate the development of wrinkles.

As an antioxidant, vitamin C helps to protect the body from chronic diseases such as cancer, cataracts and heart disease and slows down the ageing process.  This knowledge has lead researchers to question whether we should be revising the RDA to a much higher level.

As far back as 1999 the American Journal of Nutrition (1) published a review article which had analysed the results of recent trials and concluded that ‘ The totality of the reviewed data suggests that an intake of 90–100 mg vitamin C/d is required for optimum reduction of chronic disease risk in nonsmoking men and women.’ .  In Canada the RDA reflects this: for adult males it is 90mg and females is 75mg, and higher for women who are pregnant or breast feeding.

It is widely acknowledged that smokers and the elderly will need more vitamin C than non-smoking adults.

Vitamin C supplements are widely available in doses up to 2000mg per day – this is a huge amount compared to the RDA.  Should we be popping high dose vitamin C supplements daily?

The National Institute for Health states: ‘Approximately 70%–90% of vitamin C is absorbed at moderate intakes of 30–180 mg/day. However, at doses above 1 g/day, absorption falls to less than 50% and the rest is excreted in the urine via the kidneys.’ (4)

High doses of vitamin C supplements cause diarrhoea and tummy pain, everyone’s threshold is different, so some people may get these effects with 500mg Vitamin C while others can tolerate 2000mg or more.

Vitamin C is not stored in large quantities in the body and it will pass quickly out in your urine.  A study carried out on 22,000 men in Sweden over ten years suggested those who took vitamin C supplements seven days a week were at significantly greater risk of developing kidney stones (2).  It is thought as excess vitamin C is excreted via the kidneys in the oxylate form it may build up and form calcium oxylate stones – kidney stones are extremely painful!

Antioxidant nutrients such as vitamin C, beta-carotene and vitamin E have great health benefits for the body, but ultimately when they are used up they become a source of free radical damage themselves unless they are recycled by another antioxidant nutrient.  This is why it is important to take in a wide range of antioxidant vitamins through the diet and not mega- dose with just one vitamin.

As your body can only absorb limited amounts of vitamin C at a time, taking in regular doses of vitamin C via food throughout the day maybe better than taking high strength vitamin C supplements.  (Vitamin C found naturally in foods does not cause any of the problems which may be associated with vitamin C supplements.)

Vitamin C is found in fruit and vegetables and these foods tend to be rich in other vitamins and antioxidants so whenever you eat them you are getting a range of antioxidants and vitamins alongside vitamin C, giving even more health benefits.  For example, cantaloupe melon is a great source of both vitamin C and beta-carotene; avocado contains both vitamin E and vitamin C.

To ensure you take in good levels of vitamin C, eat some foods containing vitamin C at every meal or snack.  Vitamin C is found in fruits and vegetables and is damaged or lost through cooking, so vitamin C rich foods are best eaten raw or lightly cooked.  Frozen vegetables which have been frozen quickly after picking often have higher levels of vitamin C than vegetables which have been transported and stored for long periods of time before being sold.

Example of a diet rich in vitamin C: Eat a medium orange and a large kiwi fruit during the day as snacks, have a salad containing tomatoes and peppers with lunch and two steamed green vegetables at dinner.  This would provide a vitamin C intake of around 200-300mg.

If you know you are not going to be five portions of fruit and vegetables a day for a few days because you are travelling, or you are unwell with an infection or going to be in an environment where you are smoking or passively smoking you may benefit from taking a 250mg -500mg vitamin C supplement once or twice daily.  Ultimately, it is up to you to decide what you think is the best course of action to protect and maintain your health.

Below is a list of some foods and their vitamin C content.  Vitamin C is not found in animal products or grains, only fruits and vegetables.  For a more complete list see https://www.dietitians.ca/your-health/nutrition-a-z/vitamins/food-sources-of-vitamin-c.aspx

Vitamin C content of some foods:

1 large kiwi fruit                                                    84mg
Clementine                                                            36mg
1 medium orange                                               60-80mg
Berries 125ml (1/2 cup)                                     14-17mg
Strawberries 125ml (1/2 cup)                            52mg

Red peppers 125mg (1/2 cup)                       101-144mg
Red cabbage, raw, 250ml (1 cup)                       42mg
½ avocado                                                              26mg
1 medium tomato                                                 14mg
1 cup chopped watercress (34g)                       14.6mg
1 medium carrot                                                     3.6mg

Kale, cooked, 125ml (1/2 cup)                             28mg
Steamed broccoli 125mg  (1/2 cup)                   54mg
Sweet potato, medium, baked with skin            22mg

  1. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/69/6/1086.full
  2. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/1568519
  3. https://www.dietitians.ca/your-health/nutrition-a-z/vitamins/food-sources-of-vitamin-c.aspx
  4. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-HealthProfessional/

Eight tips to keep you feeling good this Christmas

  • Keeping drinking water! Try and have at least four glasses of water in addition to your other drinks to keep you hydrated and to stop you over-eating (people often mistake thirst for hunger).  Drinking plenty of water will also help to keep your skin looking bright and fresh.
  • Get outdoors every day for a brisk walk, even if it just for 15 or 20 minutes. If the weather is really grim, go for swim or to the gym or find a 15 workout on YouTube to follow, it can be as gentle or energetic as you like. Yoga and stretching brings huge health benefits in terms of reducing pain and stiffness and actually helps us to maintain good posture later in the day.  Exercising every day will help you to sleep well, help to keep your digestive system regular, help to prevent weight gain and keep you mentally fresh.
  • Eat two or three portions of fresh fruit every day. A portion is one medium apple or two smaller fruit like plums or satsumas or three tablespoons of berries.  Eating fruit will give you a healthy dose of vitamins and antioxidants so you can fight off winter infections and keep your skin and detoxification systems working well.  Eat some fruit with breakfast, have fruit as a snack and/or have fruit as a dessert after dinner.
  • Have at least three alcohol free days each week. If you have day after day of seeing friends and relatives and big dinners lined up, plan in advance which gatherings you won’t drink alcohol at.  This will give your liver a chance to keep your toxic load under control; it will improve your mood and energy levels and help you look healthier and younger.
  • Eat some raw foods every day. At buffets and family meals start with a generous helping of salad if it is on offer.  If you know you are going to have a cooked dinner, try to have some salad with your lunch or snack on cucumber/celery/carrot sticks and reduced fat houmus or tzatziki during the day.
  • Keep your sugar intake moderate to low. The UK government now recommends adults eat no more than 30g sugar a day (about 7tsp) A Tesco mince pie contains 16g of sugar. Sugar not only promotes weight gain and insulin resistance, but also drives inflammation in the body so will make arthritis, aches and pains, and skin conditions worse.  Try snacking on unsalted nuts and raisins instead which are packed with minerals and vitamins as well as healthy fats and protein.
  • Think about those less fortunate than yourself even if you feel you are having a difficult time, there are always others out there who are having a worse time. Remembering to count your blessings when you are feeling stressed can really put things into perspective.  Take time to talk to the person selling the Big Issue or make a donation (however small) to your favourite charity or if you have time, offer to help out at a community or charity event.  Making a positive contribution is good for the soul!
  • Make time to do the things you enjoy! It is all too easy at Christmas to get lost in doing trying to please other people and pack in an unrealistic amount of visiting/shopping/cooking etc.  Plan your days and ensure you spend some time every day doing the things you love, even if it as simple as not missing out on your favourite soap or catching up with an old friend on the phone.

Rosemary

Key uses:
Lifts the spirits
Improves the circulation
Supports memory and improves concentration
Improves digestion

Rosemary has a long history of medicinal use and is one of my favourite herbs this time of year.  Rosemary is great for lifting the spirits on wet winter days.  It is considered by many herbalists to be specific for melancholy during the winter months.  Rosemary has always been associated with memory and rememberance, and featured at weddings and funerals for hundreds of years.  It is a warming herb and helps to improve the circulation, particularly to the head; it is thought to improve concentration, memory and zest for life.

Rosemary has traditionally been added to roasted meats to improve their digestibility.  Rosemary is mildly bitter and stimulates the secretion of our digestive juices, helping us to break down our food and digest it well.  It is also an aromatic herb which will help to ease bloating associated with poor digestion.

Rosemary, like many kitchen herbs, contains excellent levels of antioxidant chemicals which help to protect cells from free radical damage and thereby slow the ageing process and inhibit the development of many chronic illnesses.  Adding rosemary, fresh or dried to your cooking or drinking rosemary tea is an easy way to increase your antioxidant intake.

You can make rosemary tea by simply picking a sprig of rosemary and chopping it up and putting it in a tea cup or pot and pouring on boiling water.  Don’t let it steep for too long or it will become too bitter.   It makes a great alternative to caffeinated tea.  You can also take Rosemary as a tincture, and have 15-25 drops in a little water before meals two or three times daily.

Rosemary Essential Oil
Rosemary essential oil is the concentrated extract of the aromatic oil found within the  plant.  Two drops of rosemary essential oil may be added to a teaspoon (5ml) of base oil such as sweet almond or grapeseed and used in massage.  It is an excellent  antispasmodic for tight and overly contracted muscles and it will also warm the body and improve the circulation.  In massage it combines well with Lavender, Sweet orange or Juniper.

A quick sniff of Rosemary essential oil will enliven the senses and help with concentration and memory when studying.  (The ancient Greeks used to burn Rosemary sprigs in the house to help their students to learn better.)

The oil is also antiseptic and will help to reduce the spreading of germs in the air.  Rosemary sprigs and juniper berries were traditionally burnt in French hospitals to purify the air.  If you have someone poorly at home you could put a few drops of Rosemary essential oil and some water into an oil burner and let the oil evaporate into the air.

Now I’m off to make a nice cup of Rosemary tea….