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argan oil for lightening dark spotsArgan Oil for Lightening Dark Spots & Clearer Complexion

Argan Oil has been used for centuries in Morocco for a clearer complexion.

Women in Morocco know that regular use of Argan Oil not only slows skin aging but prevents problems that lead to hyperpigmentation and dark spots.
It is claimed that Argan Oil helps lightens dark spots, reduces dark blemishes and helps minor burn and surgery scars to heal.
But is there evidence to support these claims. Could using Argan Oil give a clearer complexion or lighten dark marks on the skin?

In 2013 a study was made to discover how Argan Oil might be lightening dark marks and hyperpigmentation. [9]

Could using Argan Oil be affecting the production of melanin in the skin?

The effect of Argan Oil on Melanin Production

To test the lightening effects of Argan Oil on it was applied to Melanoma cells.

Results confirmed that there was a decrease in Melanin production in cells treated with Argan Oil.
This decrease was found to be dependent on the dose of Argan Oil used.

Researchers discovered that Argan Oil inhibits the conversion of enzymes called TYR and DCT – which make melanin.
However, the production of melanin is affected by many body systems from hormones to inflammatory systems.

So how was Argan Oil having an effect on such a complex process?

What Causes Dark Spots, Hyperpigmentation or Melasma

Melanin production is linked with:

  • The endocrine system ( hormone production )
  • The immune system
  • The inflammatory response system
  • The central nervous systems. [70]

Dark spots and patches can be triggered by one or more of these body systems.
For example, Melasma, is most commonly caused by hormonal imbalances.

Skin damage – e.g. cuts from shaving, oven burns, acne – lead to inflammation that stimulates melanin in the damaged area.

Acne and spots are probably he most common cause of annoying dark marks on the skin.
Argan Oil is very popular for use on spot prone skins for its natural anti-septic effects which help prevent spots.[72] [73][73]
It is also a non-comedogenic oil which means it does not clog pores.

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So Does Argan Oil Lighten Dark Spots?

The 2013 study did conclude that Argan Oil inhibited product of dark spots.
The effect of Argan Oil on melanin production is due to the high level of tocopherols enhanced by interactions with anti-inflammatory and anti-septic ingredients, Sterols and Triterinoids.

However, Argan Oil is not a fast acting “lightening cream”.

The high vitamin E levels in Argan Oil help to lighten existing dark spots.
Natural anti-inflammatory and anti-septic effects compounds control minor inflammation and help prevent spots and blemishes that can lead to dark skin marks. [72][73]

In conclusion, the clearer, blemish-free skin and lightening effect on dark spots reported is from regular use over time.

References

[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3699939/
[9] https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2013/340107/
[72] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17311233
[73] http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1093326315300437

 
 
 


organic foodorganic food

TOP 10 Fruits and Vegetables You Should Be Buying Organic

A recent documentary revealed that breast milk still contained traces of DDT, a pesticide, 30 years after it was banned!

Scientists opinions differ. One side independant studies offer strong evidence for links between chemical contamination and diseases – particularly for children.

On the other side studies industry funded groups and government departments usually conclude there is no evidence!

It is a huge subject which is well outside the scope of our article.

Here are 3 of the suspected risks with links to the full studies given below.
1 Increased Cancer Risk Risk of Childhood Cancers in Agriculturally Intense Areas   [3]
2 Reduction of IQ in children   [5]
3 Impaired brain and nervous system functions and pesticide exposure during development .[4]

Baby Foods

Important note about baby food preparations.
There was an incredible variation in the levels of toxins in baby food preparations.

The following flavours were tested and the result are shown here:

  1. Pear – 26 pesticide & chemical residues
  2. Apple Sauce – 19 pesticide & chemical residues
  3. Peach – 22 pesticide & chemical residues
  4. Sweet Potato – 1 pesticide & chemical residues
  5. Cabbage – 11 pesticide & chemical residues
  6. Mushrooms – 11 pesticide & chemical residues
  7. Carrot – 3 pesticide & chemical residues
  8. Green Bean – 9 pesticide & chemical residues

Please note that data was based on U.S. data. Data from the E.U. is expected to be considerably lower and result for E.U. foods will be added shortly.

[1] http://www.whatsonmyfood.org/food.jsp?food=AP
[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2290991/
[4] http://iitc.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/E-Guillette-Rio-Yaqui-Children-Study-1-wdrawings.pdf
[5]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3237357/
[6] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2576088/DDT-salmon-Pesticide-discovered-farmed-fish-sale-five-major-British-supermarkets.html
[7] http://www.whatsonmyfood.org/food.jsp?food=BB

 

 

 

 

 

 


barbary fig cactus fruitsCactus Juice – A Super-Food?

 


Cactus juice is used in traditional medicine around the world and has recently been “discovered” as a super-food by natural health communities.

The fruits are very popular in countries like Morocco and Mexico where they are eaten, used in cooking or made into a juice. Opuntia cacti can be found in many forms including dehydrated sheets, powdered preparations and micro-encapsulated juices.

The health benefits claimed for cactus have been the subject of many studies.
The most popular benefits are for:

- Diabetes – Blood Sugar Control
- Powerful Anti Aging Anti-Oxidant
- Cholesterol level Reduction
- Anti-Inflammatory Effect


Ultimate Guide to Cactus Seed Oil 

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Nutritional Information

Fruit and juice is rich in many compounds such as polyphenols, carotenoids, flavonoids, kaempferol, quercetin, and isorhamnetin and taurine.

It is high in fibre and contains a wide spectrum of vitamins including:
Folates , Niacin, Pantothenic acid, Pyridoxine, Riboflavin, Thiamin Vitamin C, A, E & K.

It also contains electrolytes and minerals such as:
Sodium, Potassium, Calcium, Copper, Iron, Magnesium,Manganese, Phosphorus, Selenium, and Zinc.

One prickly pear fruit has approximately 1 gram of fat and protein, 5 mg of sodium, 42 calories, 10 g of carbohydrates, 4 g of fibre.

 

Diabetes - Opuntia streptacantha / Opuntia robusta Cactus

Single doses of prickly pear cactus was found to decrease blood sugar levels by 30mg/dl in as little as 30 minutes to three hours.  [2, 5,6,7]
Regular use of this cactus juice by diabetics was observed to help stabalise blood sugar levels and even prevent type II Diabetes.

The effect is the result of the high fibre and pectin content of cactus juice. The hire fibre content helps slow carbohydrate absorption in the stomach and intestine to reduce postprandial rises in serum insulin and blood glucose in type-II diabetes.[34]

For the study cactus fruits were prepared by broiling prickly pear cactus then .

Notes: If taken with Diabetes medication blood sugar levels should be carefully monitored to avoid hypoglycemia.

 

opuntia-ficus-indica-cactus-fruit-seeds-500pxwA Powerful Anti-Oxidant Drink

The juice of prickly pear cactus is high in anti-oxidants that help combat the aging process.

It is rich in vitamins  C, E and A, iron, calcium, carotenoids and quercitin – a group of antioxidant nutrients that in combination have  a more powerful effect than vitamin C alone.
The juice also has a rare antioxidant called Betalain which helps counter damaging free radicals in the body. [39]

 

Anti-Inflammatory

A 2001 study using an ethanol extract of cactus Opuntia ficus-indica found that it showed potent anti-inflammatory action. and that   “an active anti-inflammatory principle has been isolated and identified as beta-sitosterol”.

Another research project in June 2015 also concluded that: “The fruits of Opuntia produced analgesic and anti-inflammatory action in a dose-dependent manner.” [30] This may be due to the presence of betacyanin and/or other phenolic compounds.

Nopal cactus plants were tested for their anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties by the University of Las Palmas in Spain. The study also identified a pain-relieving effect of the prickly pear cactus juice.[37] [38]

 

Cholesterol & Cardiovascular

Cactus juice is a rich source of soluble fibre, which is found to reduce the LDL cholesterol levels in the body. It also reduces the oxidation of fat, helping to combat atherosclerosis.

A French study in 2007 [35] using a dried cactus leaf powder found “significant increases in HDL-C levels” and “decreased triglyceride levels”.
They concluded that taking Opuntia in dietary supplements and foods could improve blood lipid parameters associated with cardiovascular risks.

Another medical study in 2003 asked subjects to eat prickly pear cactus for six weeks. They found that regulation of LDL cholesterol by these patients was significantly better.[36]

 

cactus-plant-close-3How to Prepare your Own Cactus Juice

You can make juice from the pad vegetable part and also the cactus pear fruit.
Cactus fruits are best made into juice when they are a dark red to purple colour.

Carefully remove all the spines. Next remove the outer layer of the skin on the top and bottom of the fruit, cut it open, and put into some water to boil.
When the pulp has become very soft take the fruits out to strain the seeds and pulp to extract the cactus juice.

 

Recipe: Prickly Pear Cactus Juice Smoothie

Ingredients
½ cup prepared nopal cactus fruits
½ cucumber
Juice if 1 lime
Cup of water

Preparations
Prepare the fruits by removing the spines and washing.
Blend all the ingredients adding water to create the desired thickness.

Cactus juice / smoothie is best drunk first thing in the morning.
This way it works to boost metabolism, help flush toxins from the body, hydrate and boost fibre levels.

The juice is often used as an ingredient with grilled peppers, onions, soups, stews and salads.

 

References
[2] Castaneda AI, Gonzalez SJ, Frati MAC. Hypoglycemic effect of an Opuntia streptacantha Lemaire dialysate. J Prof Assoc Cactus Dev. 1997;2:73–75.

[4] Hegwood D.A. Human health discoveries with Opuntia sp. (prickly pear) HortScience. 1990;25:1515–1516.5. Livrea M.A., Tesoriere L. Antioxidant Activities of Prickly Pear (Opuntia ficus indica) Fruit and Its Betalains, Betanin and Indicaxanthin. In: Packer L., Nam O.C., Halliwell B., editors. Herbal and Traditional Medicine: Molecular Aspects of Health. Marcel Dekker; New York, NY, USA: 2004. pp. 537–556.

[5] Livrea M.A., Tesoriere L. Antioxidant Activities of Prickly Pear (Opuntia ficus indica) Fruit and Its Betalains, Betanin and Indicaxanthin. In: Packer L., Nam O.C., Halliwell B., editors. Herbal and Traditional Medicine: Molecular Aspects of Health. Marcel Dekker; New York, NY, USA: 2004. pp. 537–556.6. Ibanez-Camacho R., Meckes-Lozoya M., Mellado-Campos V. The hypoglycemic effect of Opuntia streptacantha studied in different animal experimental models. J. Ethnopharmacol. 1983;7:175–181. doi: 10.1016/0378-8741(83)90019-3. [PubMed] [Cross Ref]7. Trejo-Gonzales A., Gabriel-Ortiz G., Puebla-Perez A.M., Huizar-Contreras M.D., Munguia-Mazariegos M.R., Mejia-Arreguin S., Calva E. A purified extract from prickly pear cactus (Opuntia fuliginosa) controls experimentally induced diabetes in rats. J. Ethnopharmacol. 1996;55:27–33. doi: 10.1016/S0378-8741(96)01467-5. [PubMed] [Cross Ref]

[8] Fernández M.L., Lin E.C.K., Trejo A., McNamara D.J. Prickly pear (Opuntia sp.) pectin reverse low density lipoprotein receptor suppression induced by a hypercholesterolemic diet in guinea pigs. J. Nutr. 1992;22:2230–2340. [PubMed]9. Munoz-de-Chavez M., Chavez A., Valles V., Roldan J.A. The nopal: A plant of manifold qualities. World Rev. Nutr. Diet. 1995;77:109–134. [PubMed]

[22] Park E.H., Kahng H., Lee S.H., Shin K.H. An anti-inflammatory principle from cactus. Fitoterapia. 2001;72:288–290. doi: 10.1016/S0367-326X(00)00287-2. [PubMed] [Cross Ref]

[30] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4484052/

[34] Effect of prickly pear (Opuntia robusta) on glucose- and lipid-metabolism in non-diabetics with hyperlipidemia–a pilot study.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12503475

[35] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18029338

[36] Prickly pear induces upregulation of liver LDL binding in familial heterozygous hypercholesterolemia. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14600931

[37] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16220577

[38] http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378874199000276

[39] Nutritional components and anti-oxidant capacity of ten cultivars and lines of cactus pear fruit (Opuntia spp.) http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S096399691100144X

 


Natural Ways to Support Healthy Eyes for Better Eyesight 


age related macular degeneration blurred vision short sighted and long sighted

Skin is not the only concern as we age.

Another serious side-effect of the aging process is deterioration in the quality of vision.
Blurry vision, increased long and short-sightedness, poorer night vision.

All of these are symptoms of Age Related Macular Degeneration known as AMD.

This is a deterioration is a loss central vision.

There are two types of AMD.

1. Dry AMD
Symptoms include:
- Needing more light for close-up work
- Blurring of vision
- Reduction in intensity of color
- Blurred spots in the centre of your field of vision.

2.  Wet AMD
Symptoms include:
- Distortion of Straight lines that may appear wavy
- Object size and depth perception problems
- A partial loss of central vision and blind spots

Your optician will probably tell you there is nothing you can do about this. However, many studies show that there are Herbs, Juices and supplements that can help improve and sustain eyesight. These herbs and foods that be be taken as delicious Herbal Teas, fresh Juices, Foods or supplements that help maintain healthy eyesight.

Here is our list of the top 9 herbs and foods to get into your diet to help strengthen your eyesight.

First a Note About Making Fresh Juices & Herbal Teas

Regardless of health benefits, which are many, making fresh vegetable, fruit or wheat-grass juices and drinking herbal teas makes a great alternative to coffee and black tea.

There are two points to note.
1. Only use Organic foods or herbs where possible. Foods that have been grown with fertilisers and pesticides take up these chemicals. By juicing you may be concentrating these into higher doses.
2. There are two types of juicers. The cheapest and most easily found is a centrifugal juicer. However, for better results, higher juice extraction and the ability to juice super foods like wheat-grass or greens you should look for a macerating juicer. They will usually yield around 20% more juice.

 

#1 Bilberry & Berry Fruit ( Vaccinium Myrtillus – Vaccinium Australe )

Bilberry is rich in anthocyanidin and can help improve vision at and in the dark by boosting regeneration of the purple element of the retina.

Studies concluded that they can improve night vision by boosting retinal pigments by increasing blood circulation in the retina.
This also means they are benefit in treating diabetic retinopathy, and improving or even preventing glaucoma, cataracts and retinitis pigmentosa. [1]

To use Bilberry to help strengthen eyesight eat about half a cup of ripe bilberry fruits a day or enjoy a Herbal Bilberry tea.

Other berry fruit such as, black current, blue berries, raspberries, also have high levels of flavinoids and anthocyanidin that help to strengthen eyes.
It is also interesting to not that studies of 90 000 women in the UK found that women eating 3 or more portions of berry fruit a week had a 32% lower rate of heart attacks.

NOTE: Do not use Bilberry or Grape seed without consulting your doctor if you take blood thinners or any medication that decreases blood clotting or if you suffer from low blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, or blood clots. You should also not use Bilberry if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Suggested Supplement Dose
160 mg of standardised bilberry extract two times a day around twice a week.

 

#2 Carrots, Beta Carotene & Vitamin A

Even your optometrist will probably agree that ensuring a good supply of Vitamin A will benefit your vision.

Your body uses beta-carotene from foods to make vitamin A. It is vitamin A is central in helping your eyes to convert light and send that information to the brain. It is present in many foods such sweet potato, sweet red peppers and greens and in supplements. The most pleasant and easy way to ensure a good extra supply is probably by drinking fresh carrot juice.

Use a centrifugal juice extractor or better still a macerating juice extractor to juice about 2 medium, organic, just as din and can help improve vision at and in the dark by boosting regeneration of the purple element of the retina.

Studies concluded that:

Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) enhanced intake of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) ( Omega 3 Fatty Acids ) and reducing dietary glycaemic index (dGI) ( carbohydrate foods that affect blood sugar levels )  will be of good effect protecting against age-related macular degeneration.[2]

 

#3 Lutein and Zeaxanthin & Dark Green Leafy Vegetables

Many studies have shown that getting high levels of nutrients Lutein and Zeaxanthin in your diet is essential and will have a strong effect on preventing macular degeneration.[3]
The best sources include dark green, leafy vegetables. For juicing leafy vegetables a macerating juicer is the best choice.

Good sources for these nutrients are kale, spinach, turnip greens, collard greens, Swiss chard and Spirulina.

 

#4 Saffron

Zeaxanthin gives colour to paprika saffron and many other plants and was found to have a string positive effect to prevent loss of eyesight due to age. It can also help with general eye problems such as cataracts.

A study on a group of 23 70 year olds suffering from poor vision was undertaken in in Italy. Participants took 20 milligrams of saffron each day for just 3 months. In this short time researchers found an improvement in visual sharpness and  doubling of photo-receptor response.[4]

 

#5 Chicory (Chihorium intybus, Cichorium endivia)

Chicory root is widely recommended as an excellent natural treatment for problems with your eyesight and especially blurred vision.

Although we were unable to find any specific studies into this it is suggested the best way to use Chicory is to combine with other juices.

In addition Chicory is highly beneficial as a natural Diabetes treatment. This is because contains inulin and this helps maintain blood sugar levels. It also reduces levels of bad LDL cholesterol levels in blood.[5]

 

#6 Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo is known to improves circulation and eye blood flow and is rich in flavinoids which may also help AMD.

This herb also helps protect against glaucoma and may also benefit people with retinopathy. [9]

Suggested Dose
Around  80-mg standardised extract if ginkgo bilboa 2 to 3 times a day.

NOTE: Do not use Ginko Bilboa without consulting your doctor if you take blood thinners or any medication that decreases blood clotting .


#7 AREDS formula

This is a supplement formula produced by the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS).

They recommend taking:
Vitamin C (500 mg per day)
Vitamin E (400 IU per day)
Beta-carotene (15 mg per day, or 25,000 IU of vitamin A)
Zinc (80 mg per day)
Copper (2 mg per day, to prevent copper deficiency that can occur when taking extra zinc)
This combination of vitamins was found to help slow the progression of intermediate to advanced macular degeneration. The National Eye Institute recommends that “people with intermediate AMD in one or both eyes or with advanced AMD (wet or dry) in one eye but not the other” take this formulation each day.[6]

They also state that this combination of nutrients did not slow prevent early signs of AMD.

 

#8 Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Studies show that Omega 3 play an important role in preventing AMD.
People who are one portion or more of oily fish per week had a 50% reduction of the risk of AMD. [8]

 

#9 Milk Thistle

In natural medicine your eyes and liver health are linked. Milk Thistle is one of the best herbs to support your liver function as it is rich in Silymarin.
Add Milk Thistle to your diet as a supplement as teas will not contain enough active ingredient.

This herb is said to improve liver function and boost glutathione. Studies show that a low glutathione level is linked with AMD. [6]

NOTE: Milk Thistle affects the liver function. Consult your doctor if you are taking any medication, have any history of hormone-related cancers. Do not take milk thistle if you are allergic to ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, chamomile, yarrow, or daisies.

Do not use Milk thistle if your are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Suggested Dose
Take 150mg 70% standardised extract 2 to 3 times per day.

Research References

[1] Camire, M. E., Bilberries and blueberries as functional foods and nutraceuticals, in: Herbs, Botanicals & Teas, Technomic Publishing Company, Lancaster, PA 2000, pp. 289 – 319.

[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3033729/

[3] http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=382145

[4] http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2010/s2805356.htm

[5] http://www.mpwhi.com/clinical_studies_of_chicory_root.pdf

[6] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16421014

[7] Fies P, Dienel A. [Ginkgo extract in impaired vision – treatment with special extract Egb 761 of impaired vision due to dry senile macular degeneration]. Wiedn Med Wochenschr. 2002;152(15-16):423-6.

[8] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18689376

[9] Evans JR. Ginkgo biloba extract for age-related macular degeneration. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013 Jan 31;1:CD001775. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD001775.pub2. Review.

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