Blog posts tagged with 'benefits'

by Nancy T. Angelini, LMT, Clinical Herbalist

If you’re an exercise enthusiast, then getting into motion is second nature to you. It takes little effort to throw on your sneakers and gym togs and work up a sweat. For those who experience exercise intolerance from a heart condition or feel worse after exercise, then this information might be better suited to your situation.

It is “in plain view” to extol the evidence-based health benefits of daily exercise, given the human body was designed to move every day. For those who feel worse after they exercise and complain that it takes them days to recover, hearing about a high intensity exercise program may engender feelings of anxiety. Exercise can reduce symptoms of mild depression, but if you have mild depression it might feel nearly impossible to overcome the initial inertia in order to apply the medicine of exercise. You may have had an injury or surgery and still find yourself uncomfortable even after the obligatory physical therapy, which started the process of some movement, but insurance ran out before you were completely rehabilitated.

Take Your Medicine

There are real reasons why people find themselves loathing exercise. However, finding a safe and effective way around whatever is limiting you moving your body every day is the first and most important step in taking the medicine of exercise.

Examine and identify what is limiting you from moving your body. Is it your emotions? Then assign a friend who will encourage you gently to get up and walk around the house and maybe go up and down the stairs once or twice a day. That’s exercise. The mental and emotional roadblocks can be as difficult to overcome as pain or other physical shortcomings. Walking is one of the best movements we can engage in. Getting outside for a walk is even better for your entire being. If the weather is poor, you can walk around the mall and this is still counted as beneficial exercise.

Begin Slowly

Do you feel worse after a workout? Then start with just 10 minutes of gentle movement, such as walking, Tai Chi or Yoga. Stay at 10 minutes for a week and then increase to 15 minutes. As you age, it is important to remember that you need to rebuild your tolerance to exercise slowly and in small stages. Add five to ten minutes on a weekly basis. You will feel better overall, and your body will adjust its tolerance to the level of exercise gradually and without too much discomfort. After you work up to sustaining 30 minutes of continuous movement, then you can start to increase the intensity of the movement — or not — if you are enjoying yourself and are experiencing benefits.

Is it that you experience pain and limitation in your joints or muscles as soon as you start to exercise? One of the best ways to exercise while managing body pain is to take a walk in a pool. Being and moving in water is miraculous for those who have chronic, intractable soft tissue or joint pain. If a water class is currently beyond your ability, it is worth asking if you can hang out in the back of the class (in the pool) and just walk or move your arms for 10, 15 or 20 minutes. The water will act like a gentle massage and the buoyancy will take pressure off tender joints.

Don’t Overdo It

Believe it or not, pain from exercise causes the wrong kind of stress to your body, especially if you are over 30 years of age. Make sure you do not overdo it during your first week getting back into motion. This is a very important part of bringing exercise back into your life. If you have too much post exercise discomfort or fatigue, your nervous system, especially the part of your brain called the Amygdala, will register that whatever you are doing is not good for you. This can sabotage all your efforts. Stay comfortable for the first month to six weeks and your central nervous system will stay calm and not inhibit the continuation of your new-found movement program.

The reintegration of movement and exercise into your daily life can have wonderful benefits. Daily exercise can support healthy emotions, brain function such as memory and cognition, functional movement assisting in performing daily activities of living, cardiovascular and respiratory maintenance, as well as being a source of pleasure.

Take it easy and integrate this marvelous medicine, one day at a time, for long-term health and enjoyment.

[article reposted with permission from developinghealthyhabits.com]

by Danielle Myers

Every day our bodies put up a fight against illness, stress, fatigue and aging in order to sustain overall wellness. We knowingly take precautions in order to maintain the best health possible; however, environmental as well as internal and external causes sometimes still result in poor health.

As conscientious consumers, we search and search for effective solutions. We look for ways to have more energy, healthier skin and a better memory. We turn to products such as herbal supplements, caffeinated drinks, topical creams and the like. But what if one product could address a wide scope of concerns? What if, rather than walking up and down the aisles of the health store, we could focus on just one simple, yet all-inclusive herb?

Most consumers are familiar with and benefit from the positive health properties of ginseng. Often referred to as the “King of Herbs,” ginseng is known as the world’s most powerful adaptogenic herb — meaning it assists the body to manage stress and achieve homeostatic balance. Used medicinally in Asia for thousands of years, ginseng is utilized as a remedy in treating a host of health problems, such as managing stress, stimulating one’s immune system and helping resist fatigue.

What is Ginseng?

Ginseng is a deciduous, perennial plant that belongs to the Araliaceae family. There are 12 known species identified in the Panax genus. Panax ginseng, cultivated in China, Korea, Japan and Russia, is available as fresh, red, white and wild varieties:

  • Red ginseng — peeled, heated by way of steaming at boiling temperatures and then dried or sun-dried. Often it is marinated in an herbal brew, which makes the root brittle.
  • Fresh ginseng — a raw product and limited by availability.
  • White ginseng — fresh ginseng which is dried without being heated, then peeled and dried again to reduce water content to 12% or less.
  • Wild ginseng — harvested wherever it can be found; however, it is relatively rare.

The plants are usually harvested between four and six years of age. Special effort is made to keep the roots in tact, as this is where the valuable properties come from.

Traditionally, ginseng root was used as an ingredient in the preparation of tea and soups; however, recent breakthroughs in extraction and concentration methods have produced ginseng with higher potencies that are available in powder or liquid concentrates and capsules.

How Does Ginseng Work?

The ginseng plant root contains saponins, which are natural plant chemical components called ginsenosides. These unique active compounds found only in Panax ginseng are what make it authentic and unrivaled. The botanical genus name ‘Panax’ is derived from the Greek words ‘Pan’ meaning “all” and ‘axos’ meaning “cure.” Panax can literally be translated as cure-all, or panacea.

Orally administered, ginsenosides are difficult for the body to break down; however, they can be metabolized by intestinal bacteria and then these metabolites are absorbed from the intestines.

Is All Ginseng Created Equal?

The simple answer is no. There is a lot of information out there about ginseng and it can be a little confusing. Other herbs claim to be ginseng, but since they are from a different genus, or family, they do not contain the ginsenosides. These include Siberian ginseng (eleutherococcus senticosus), Prince ginseng (seudostellaria paniculate), Indian ginseng/Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), and Brazilian ginseng/Suma (Pfaffia paniculata).

Therefore, true ginseng plants belong solely to the Panax genus.

Benefits to Health and Wellness

Clinical studies have shown that ginseng extract stimulates the immune system, improves mental and physical performance, reduces fatigue, supports healthy glucose regulation and improves general quality of life. Here are a few details about how ginseng can help improve your overall health and wellness:

  • Energy and Stamina — helps to increase both energy and stamina while having a soothing effect on the nerves. Unlike caffeine, ginseng does not have jittery effects or high-low crashes associated with it. It also helps to support adrenal health.
  • Immune System — improves mental and physical performance, strengthens the immune system as well as regains stamina lost during illness. It can also help to balance blood sugar levels and improve cardiovascular health.
  • Detoxification — improves skin and rids it of free radicals that accumulate from daily sun exposure and environmental pollution. Internal use of ginseng can aid the body in repairing and building healthy cells.

Why Korean Ginseng is Better

When comparing Chinese, American or Korean ginseng, it’s important to know the ginsenoside content. Chinese and American ginsengs have 13 or 14 ginsenosides, but more than 30 ginsenosides have been identified in Korean ginseng.

Because there are many ginseng products on the market, it’s important to choose a quality brand with proven results in order to get the most benefit from what ginseng can offer.

Ginseng is a delicate plant that requires special handling and care. For the best results, ginseng plants should be harvested at the optimal time (4.5 ‒ 5.5 years), and the entirety of the root and rootlets should be maintained without peeling, boiling, steaming or using high heat. All of these factors affect the final product and determine the level of quality and effectiveness of absorption.

According to one study, less than 30% of males and less than 40% of females had full positive absorption of all ginsenosides. In other words, most consumers do not get the full benefit of ginseng because their body does not properly break it down. In response to this, some producers of Korean ginseng have developed a fermented ginseng extract that mimics the fermentation that occurs naturally in the intestine to transform ginsenosides to an end-stage compound. This has been proven in clinical trials to dramatically improve the rate, speed and consistency of absorption. Fermented ginseng extract containing this metabolite has been shown to have many adaptogenic qualities, such as strong anti-oxidants, anti-stress, anti-allergy and anti-inflammatory properties. Additionally, the fermentation process helps to increase the taste profile compared to other conventional ginseng extracts.

Is Ginseng Right for Me?

People across the globe are constantly searching for ways to attain more energy, balance and overall wellness in daily life. Most Americans start each day with a hot cup of coffee (or two), a caffeinated soda, or an energy drink. We need that extra shot-in-the-arm to start our day and to sustain energy.

Unlike caffeine, fermented ginseng can provide a calm, centered and sustained energy that lasts all day without a crash. Additionally, long-term use can help strengthen the immune system and provide optimal energy, vitality, mental clarity and focus.

While energy products and supplements ebb and flow with the tides of change, ginseng has been a constant feature for thousands of years. Recent advances in biotechnology have allowed companies to optimize the growing, harvesting, processing, extraction and concentration of ginseng, which have resulted in improved effectiveness. This humble plant continues to live up to its name and reign as the “King of Herbs” for its countless medicinal properties.

[article reposted with permission from developinghealthyhabits.com]