Do you love the aromatic, spicy flavor of ginger? I have to admit that I didn’t used to love it, but it has grown on me and now I love it! Did you know that ginger’s amazing flavor comes along with a host of health benefits?
Also known as Dang Gui, Tang Kuei, and Chinese Angelica this herb helps to regulate hormonal balance. Because it helps regulate hormones, it prevents calcium loss due to hormonal deficiency. It is known as a women’s tonic. There is anecdotal evidence that it helps with menopausal symptoms.
Are you over 30 and find yourself stressed to the point that you feel overwhelmed or depressed? You may be low in DHEA.
DHEA is a natural steroid and precursor hormone produced by the adrenal glands, which are located above the kidneys. It naturally begins to decline after age 30.
Your adrenal glands also produce the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. If you are producing too many stress hormones as a result of stress, your body can’t produce enough DHEA to support a healthy hormone balance. This will cause you to feel overwhelmed and depressed.
Benefits of Chasteberry
Chasteberry is a normalizing herb for female sex hormones. There is some scientific and anecdotal evidence that it is especially beneficial during menopausal changes, although more scientific studies need to be conducted. Its benefits are believed to include:
Basil is great to detox your liver. If you overate or drank too much the previous day, give your liver a break and add some basil or pesto to your breakfast.
Inflammation & Swelling
A study found that Holy Basil can reduce swelling by up to 73%.
The essential oils contained in basil lower inflammation, which is at the root of Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Basil also improves digestion by supporting healthy bacteria in the gut.
Basil oil combats the bacteria that cause acne.
Try this recipe from Health.com: Boil a handful of fresh basil leaves in 1 cup of water for 10 minutes; let the liquid cool. Dip a cotton ball into the liquid, pat it on your breakout zones, wait 10 minutes, then splash with water; repeat once or twice a day.
Holy Basil helps with stress by reducing cortisol, your stress hormone. Basil is considered an adaptogen, which means it helps your body adapt to stress. It helps your body normalize and deal with the effects of stress. Try adding basil to your iced tea after it has steeped.
Basil can help with arthritis by reducing the inflammation that the disease causes.
When you are menstruating, you lose iron. Basil is an excellent source of iron, containing the same amount as spinach! Eat plenty of iron rich foods during your period.
Basil contains powerful antioxidants that help protect the lining of the blood vessels from free radical damage. This helps prevent arterial clogging, heart attacks, and stroke. It can also help the muscles in your blood vessels relax and contract, thereby promoting healthy blood pressure. It also helps prevent blood clots.
Basil has been found to reduce circulating blood glucose, which helps prevent diabetes. It can also lower triglycerides and cholesterol, which diabetic patients often suffer from high levels.
Basil has many antibacterial properties. One of the many ways you can take advantage of this is to wash your veggies in a solution with 1% basil or thyme oil. Doing this kills bacteria that can cause diarrhea. Scientists are doing studies about basil’s effects on antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Studies are showing that basil is effective in killing powerful bacteria strains. Basil essential oils may be effective in treating viruses and infections.
The antioxidants in basil help prevent cancer. They do this by keeping chromosomes from becoming altered or damaged. They can also target harmful cells, such as cancer cells. Basil can also help protect healthy tissue from the harmful effects of radiation and chemotherapy.
Depression & Anxiety
Some people consider basil to be an antidepressant. It can help stimulate the neurotransmitters that regulate the hormones that are responsible for making us feel happy.
Basil has traditionally been used in some countries as a natural aphrodisiac. It is believed to cause arousal and to support healthy sexual function.
I wrote this post after spending the morning making pesto. I have two basil plants that have been VERY prolific! I started wondering what the health benefits were. I hope you enjoy this vegan version of pesto!
Vegan Basil Pesto
4 cups loosely packed basil
1/2 cup olive oil, more if needed
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3-4 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1/2 cup pine nuts or other kind of nuts (I have used blanched almonds or walnuts)
1 teaspoon salt
Place the basil into your food processor. Turn on processor and drizzle oil into processor as its running. Process for 15-30 seconds. Add the rest of the ingredients and continue processing until smooth. If it needs more olive oil to process smoothly or reach the correct consistency, then add some.
Turmeric contains a compound called curcumin that has LOTS of health benefits. It is found in delicous things like curry powder and mustard. Here are a few of the benefits:
Turmeric is good for your heart
It can help with cancer and arthritis
It may help with Alzheimer's and Osteoporosis
Fall is just around the corner and with it dreams of pumpkin spice lattes. While pumpkin spice lattes may not be the healthiest item on the menu, one of its ingredients is full of health benefits! Cinnamon is full of health benefits!
Just a quarter teaspoon of cinnamon sprinkled on your food can help prevent an insulin spike. This spike normally occurs after a meal and signals the body to store fat instead of burning it. It could help in your battle of the bulge! Because cinnamon helps regulate insulin, it may also be beneficial for diabetics.
Some other great benefits of cinnamon include:
Black Cohosh is commonly used to treat menopausal symptoms. It is an adaptogen, which means that it helps bring the hormones into balance. If they are too high, it brings them down; if they are too low it brings them up. It also contains estrogenic substances and binds to estrogen receptors. It also acts on serotonin receptors and may relieve hot flashes and improve mood.
The benefits of Black Cohosh include:
How to use Black Cohosh:
Duke, J. A. (1997). The Green Pharmacy. Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press.
Find a Vitamin or Supplement: Black Cohosh. (2016, May 6). Retrieved from WebMD: http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-857-BLACK+COHOSH.aspx?activeIngredientId=857&activeIngredientName=BLACK+COHOSH&source=2
Geller, S. E. (2007, January 8). Botanical and Dietary Supplements for Menopausal Symptoms: What Works, What Doesn’t. Retrieved from US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1764641/
Gottlieb, B. (1995). New Choices in Natural Healing. Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press.
Pedersen, M. (1998). Nutritional Herbology. Warsaw, IN: Whitman Publications.
The adrenal gland sit on top of the kidneys and pump out estrogen, testosterone, and the stress hormone cortisol. When the adrenal glands are fatigued (when you’re stressed, anxious, angry, or depressed) your body decides it’s more important to make cortisol rather than estrogen and testosterone.
Ashwagandha is an Ayurvedic herb designed to help with adrenal fatigue, hormonal balancing, and improving a range of menopausal symptoms including hot flashes and mood swings. It is an adaptogenic herb, so if cortisol is too high, it will lower it; and if it’s too low, it will raise it. Cortisol contributes to muscle loss and weakness, wrinkles, and cognitive impairment.
The benefits of Ashwagandha include:
ALWAYS CHECK WITH YOUR HEALTH CARE PROVIDER BEFORE BEGINNING A NEW HERB OR SUPPLEMENT.
Bayless, K. (2015, December 18). 10 Supplements You Should Be Taking After Menopause. Retrieved from Prevention: http://www.prevention.com/health/post-menopause-supplements
Group, E. (2014, July 11). 7 Amazing Benefits of Ashwagandha Root for Women. Retrieved from Global Healing Center: http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/7-amazing-benefits-of-ashwagandha-root-for-women/
I am a Duke Integrative Medicine trained Health Coach located in Charlotte, NC. I hold a B.S. and M.A. in Wellness Management. I have a passion for health and for helping others achieve the healthy life they desire.