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March 2017 Edition
It takes 17 muscles in the face for us to smile and 43 muscles to frown.
Prevent & Treat Colds Naturally
The common cold: drippy nose, nagging cough, sore throat, clogged sinuses, and congestion. It's miserable, spreads quickly (person-to-person or through the air), affects people of all ages, and hits nearly any time of the year, but especially in the spring and fall. It's the most prevalent type of upper respiratory infection (URI) and is caused by a virus (rhinovirus).
So, what's a person to do?
If you get a cold, give your body the rest and support it needs and the infection will generally resolve within ten days. We all know there are myriad products that promise to reduce symptoms, from decongestants, cough suppressants, and pain relieving medicines. But we also know that relief is temporary and often comes with side effects. We suggest following a natural path to preventing and treating those pesky colds. You'll be happy you did.
The Natural Medicine Approach
Start with an evaluation of your vitality, looking at factors that sustain a strong immune system. In doing this, your holistic physician will assess: diet and food allergies; nutrient deficiencies; hygiene and hand-washing habits; and physical activity. Lifestyle and environmental factors will also be considered, including personal relationships, ongoing stress, and exposure to allergens, mold, and toxins. Your doctor may also test breathing function, which can play a role in susceptibility to URI.
When you do come down with a cold, natural approaches can support the healing process:
Rest and Replenish: Rest as much as possible as the body needs its resources for healing. Drink plenty of water or diluted vegetable/whole fruit juice, and herbal tea. Eat fresh fruit, vegetables, broth-based soups and protein. Avoid processed sugars, which can depress immunity.
Essential Oils: Use oils in a chest rub or aromatherapy diffuser to reduce the intensity of coughs and congestions. Try peppermint, lemon, eucalyptus, lavender, clove and tea tree. Ask your physician for guidance, as some oils are not recommended for children; others should not be combined, and concentrated oils need to be diluted properly before use.
Massage: Helps reduce pain and inflammation and promotes relaxation, which is vital to the body's healing process. As long as you're not coughing and sneezing, visit a massage therapist for lymphatic drainage or Swedish massage. Self-massage techniques can help drain the ear-nose-throat canal (see the therapy article in this newsletter).
Supplements: Research indicates vitamin C reduces the severity and duration of colds, but not the incidence. Similarly, properly prescribed Zinc supplements can reduce the frequency and intensity of colds; there is little evidence for the effectiveness of over-the-counter zinc lozenges. For symptom relief, try botanical medicines, such as ginger, elderberry, and Echinacea.
Humidify: If you live in an especially dry, warm climate, consider using a humidifier in your home. There is mixed evidence about how much humidification can help treat URI, but at the least, it may make breathing more comfortable.
Natural medicine offers a multitude of ways to personalize care, especially to support the prevention and treatment of URI. Speak with your holistic practitioner about what approaches are best for you.
Food for Thought. . .
"Neurotic behavior is quite predictable. Healthy behavior is unpredictable." - Carl Ransom Rogers
Fennel adds Healthy Flavor to Your Cooking
Used as a medicinal herb for thousands of years, Fennel (foeniculum vulgare) improves digestion, supports detox, and treats symptoms associated with respiratory illness. While many varieties of fennel are cultivated today - all related to wild fennel, which is native to Mediterranean countries - the most widely used form is Sweet Fennel. Raw or cooked, appetizers to entrees, fennel's aromatic flavor makes it a wonderful addition to all types of cuisine.
You'll recognize fennel by its pale green bulb and sturdy stalks, topped by a spray of soft, feathery green leaves. From bulb to leaf to seed, all parts of fennel are edible. The plant contains antioxidants and a unique compound called anethole, which has been shown to reduce inflammation. Fennel also contains vitamin C, which supports a healthy immune system. The Vitamin C found in the bulb has antimicrobial properties, as well. A cup of raw sliced fennel provides fiber, potassium, and other nutrients.
Autumn and early spring are the best times for buying fennel. Look for bulbs that are clean and firm, free from spots and brittle strips. Both stalks and leaves should have a vibrant green color. Flowering buds indicate that the fennel is past maturity. Fresh fennel should be fragrant, with an aroma akin to licorice. When possible, choose organic produce. To preserve the vitamin content, keep fresh fennel in the crisper in your fridge for up to four days. It's a good practice to store fennel seeds in the fridge, too.
Warm Whole-Grain Salad With Fennel, Arugula, Prosciutto, and Pecorino Recipe
Roasted fennel and crisp arugula are paired with delectable, nutty grains in this warm salad accented with prosciutto and pecorino cheese. This salad is easy to prepare and is a great "prepare ahead" meal for a hearty lunch or light supper.
Makes 4 servings. Prep Time: About 1 hour.
- 1 1/2 cups rye berries, wheat berries, spelt grains, or farro grains
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 medium bulb fennel, trimmed and cut into quarters
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 small bunch arugula, cut into thick ribbons (about 3 cups)
- 2 tablespoons pitted chopped olives
- 1 1/2 ounces prosciutto, excess fat removed, sliced into thin ribbons (about 1/4 cup)
- 1 1/2 ounces pecorino or parmesan cheese, shaved into thin slices with a vegetable peeler (about 1/4 cup)
- 4 teaspoons juice and 1/2 teaspoon zest from 1 lemon
- 2 teaspoons whole grain or dijon mustard
- Adjust oven rack to middle position. Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Place grains in a medium saucepan, cover with water by 2 inches, and season to taste with salt. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until grain is tender, 30 to 40 minutes. Set a fine mesh strainer over a bowl and drain grain. Cover the strainer with a lid to keep grain warm.
- While grains cook, roast the fennel. Toss fennel quarters with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on a small rimmed baking sheet and roast, turning once, until fennel is tender and golden-brown, about 30 minutes. Remove fennel from oven and let cool slightly before removing core from each quarter and slicing into thin slices.
- Transfer grains to a mixing bowl. Add chopped fennel, sliced arugula, olives and half of the prosciutto and cheese. In a small bowl, combine remaining olive oil, lemon juice and zest, and mustard and whisk until smooth. Pour dressing over grain mixture and toss gently to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Transfer salad to a serving platter and scatter with remaining prosciutto and cheese. Serve immediately.
Can You 'Bee' Healthy with Royal Jelly?
For centuries, traditional healers have used Royal Jelly to address a wide range of concerns - from muscle aches to infections - longevity to virility. Today, it's marketed as a nutritional supplement, health food, and a topical ingredient in cosmetics. The theory behind this widespread use stems from the purpose Royal Jelly (RJ) serves in nature. RJ is the exclusive sustenance of the queen honeybee. In fact, worker bees produce RJ solely to feed the queen and support her larger size, fertility, and longer lifespan (five to eight years, or 40 times longer than other bees). RJ is stored in reserve cells, with as much as a five to six month surplus - one queen alone could never eat all that 'royal milk!'
Royal Jelly has many nutritive and biologically active properties that account for its use in modern botanical medicine, as well as growing interest from the scientific community. Not only is it a rich source of B vitamins, it contains amino acids, sugars, fats, and flavonoids. Of all the compounds in RJ, flavonoids are the most biologically important. They work in the human body to reduce inflammation, fight bacteria, and prevent cell damage that can lead to disease. Flavonoids also contribute to cardiovascular and immune system health. Holistic doctors understand the range of clinical uses of RJ, some of which require more in-depth scientific investigation.
There are some precautions to heed with Royal Jelly: Children, pregnant or nursing women, and anyone who is allergic to bees should consult a physician before using RJ products.
Fight Cough and Cold With Osha Root Extract
Few herbs go by as many names as Osha Root (Ligusticum porteri). This traditional Native American medicinal plant is also known as Bear Root, Chuchupate, Indian Parsley, Wild Celery Root, and Colorado Cough Root. A member of the parsley family, it has been used to treat respiratory and digestive conditions for centuries.
Osha contains antiviral and antibacterial compounds that can relieve inflammation in the bronchial tubes. It helps alleviate symptoms such as sore throat, sinus congestion, and cough, and has been used to treat bronchitis, flu, and pneumonia. Take it as soon as your symptoms appear and when you are coughing and sneezing the most. That's when it seems to be the most effective. Prepare a tea from crushed and dried Osha Root or mix root extract with honey to make a cough syrup.
Osha grows in a limited region in the U.S. so it can be hard to find in typical grocery stores. Ask for it in specialty or natural foods grocers or look for it online from a source that specializes in the herb. If you're unsure about the source, don't buy it (or pick it in the wild), as Osha leaves resemble Hemlock, a poisonous plant.
Many factors determine the appropriate amount of Osha to take, including a person's age, weight, and symptoms. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not take Osha root. Talk with your holistic healthcare professional before taking Osha Root.
Eustachian Tube Massage
It can hit anyone at any age - children and adults alike - and result in anything from mild discomfort to severe pain. We're talking about congestion, that miserable clogged headachy feeling due to upper respiratory illness, ear infection, or allergies. It's often due to inflammation and fluid in the Eustachian tube, a canal that connects the middle ear to the upper throat and the back of the nasal cavity. The Eustachian tube's job is to:
- balance pressure in the middle ear, keeping it equal with air pressure outside the body;
- protect the inner ear from nasal secretions;
- drain middle ear secretions into the area between the nasal cavity and upper throat.
When you experience congestion, a typical medical approach is to treat symptoms (e.g., with antibiotics, decongestants). A holistic approach includes natural medicines and Eustachian Tube Massage (ETM), which can alleviate congestion and the discomfort it causes by stretching the soft tissue that lines the tube. This helps reduce pressure and promotes release of fluid from the tube. You can perform ETM on yourself, or for a child.
- After washing your hands, use your index or middle finger to feel behind the ear lobe for a bony bump. With firm, steady pressure slide your finger down until it slips into a groove between the ear lobe and the jaw.
- Follow that groove down the neck with your finger, sliding down (with same steady pressure) until you reach the collar bone.
- For a child or small adult, it may help to tilt your head to the shoulder opposite the ear that you are massaging. (Ex: If massaging right side, tilt head to left shoulder)
- Repeat three to four times per side, about three times a day.
If symptoms are severe, ask your physician about the Modified Muncie Technique. This method involves massaging from inside the back of the mouth, and should be performed by a healthcare practitioner.
The information offered by this newsletter is presented for educational purposes. Nothing contained within should be construed as nor is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. This information should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider. Always consult with your physician or other qualified health care provider before embarking on a new treatment, diet or fitness program. You should never disregard medical advice or delay in seeking it because of any information contained within this newsletter.
Dr. Nicholas Morgan became a naturopathic physician to help individuals seeking safe, effective, affordable, and quality integrative medicine. Using a comprehensive approach, he reviews patient's medical history to gain insight into the underlying issues affecting their health and makes lifestyle, botanical, and nutritional recommendations to correct their imbalances. He has special interests in metabolic medicine (mitochondrial health), functional medicine, nutrigenomics, and rheumatology.