You may already be familiar with castor oil, hemp seed oil, coconut oil, red palm oil and many other oils currently on the market. However, one of the most widely used oils today with great medicinal properties is Nigella Sativa or more commonly known as black cumin. This plant is native to southern Europe, northern Africa and southwest Asia and its use can be traced all the way back to King Tut. In old Latin, it is called “panacea” which translates to “cure all.” The shrub of this plant produces fruits that have tiny black seeds that can be pressed to extract the oil. Its medicinal properties stem from the presence of thymoquinone—one of the major active chemical components of the essential oil. Thymoquinone is believed to have a wide range of medical applications and benefits we’ll discuss below. This plant has become one of the top-ranked, evidence-based herbal medicines to date, and there have been over 600 scientific, peer-reviewed articles published about black seed oil benefits.
Benefits of black seed oil to consider:
- Supports liver health and helps protect the liver
- May have anti-cancer properties
- Contains protein, carbohydrates, fiber, minerals like copper, phosphorus, zinc and iron as well as both fixed oils (fatty acids) and volatile oils
- May help treat a variety of common health conditions including high blood pressure, diabetes, bronchitis and asthma
- May be helpful in treating against Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA)
- It may help increase milk production in nursing mothers
- May act as an appetite stimulant
- May help to boost the immune system
- Rich Source of Essential Fatty Acids
What to look for when choosing a black seed oil
- Extraction: the method by which the oil is expressed or extracted from the seeds matters! Slow, cold-pressed means that no heat is used during the extraction process. High temperatures may cause rancidity or cause some of the more volatile oils to evaporate. Avoid any oils that use chemical extraction.
- Purity: the product should be 100% pure Nigella Sativa oil and not filled with additives.
- Storage: look for oil that is stored in a dark, glass bottle that will protect it from both air and light.
- Quality: Look for unrefined vs. refined oil and make sure it’s organic!
Other important tips about black seed oil
- Make sure to store in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight.
- It can be used as a spice or preservative! In fact, the seeds have been added to many Persian foods including bread, pickles, sauces and salads.
- Do not confuse it with black cohosh, cumin, curcumin or nutmeg.
- Supplements made from black seeds are usually made up of the basic seed extract in either a crushed powder or oil form.
Homemade black cumin seed salad dressing:
- ½ cup black seed oil
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp raw honey
- 2 fresh chopped garlic cloves
- ½ tsp. Ginger root
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Instructions: Combine all the ingredients in a mason jar with a lid and mix/shake until blended together.
Filed Under: Uncategorized
at 5:00 pm | By: Mauricio Matusiak, Senior Editor
If you are struggling to fight off cold and flu this winter, one hot beverage may be just what you need. Elderberry teas
offer a ton of health benefits and can be the perfect solution for people who cannot take tablets, capsules to enhance the immune system or just forget to take them all the time.
Elderberry tea is made from the flowers that bloom on the elder plant before the berries appear. When fresh or dried flowers aren’t available, you can make tea by adding a tincture or extract made from elder berries or flowers to hot water. Elderberry supplements are quite popular as this natural herb is one of the top-selling products in health food stores, particularly during the winter month. The health benefits of elderberry seems to come from the plant’s antioxidant-rich flavonoids.
Drinking elderberry tea offers a variety of health benefits as this herbal remedy can help soothe cold and flu symptoms, including fever, headache, fatigue, sore throat and coughing. On top of that, you can find many delicious elderberry teas that can, for example, substitute a cup of coffee. Make tea with four tablespoons of elderberry extract, and drink it every day for three days for maximum benefits. Studies have shown that good evidence exists for elderberry tea as a potential treatment for cold and flu symptoms. Click here to visit our selection of elderberry tea at LuckyVitamin.com.
Fall is in the air, and that means pumpkin season is here! So whether you’re raw, vegan, gluten-free or just want a healthy post-workout shake, we’ve got something for you. Here are three recipes to satisfy your sweet tooth without sacrificing your healthy eating goals. Oh, how sweet is!
Gluten Free Pumpkin Molasses Cookies
- Preheat oven to 350
- Mix with an electric mixer the pumpkin puree, the vegan buttery spread, sugar, cream cheese, vanilla extract and blackstrap molasses
- In a separate bowl, whisk all the dry ingredients bowl
- Fold wet into dry and mix on medium speed until combined
- Let dough chill in the refrigerator for about an hour
- Roll the chilled dough into small balls and roll with some extra sugar
- Place the dough balls on parchment lined cookie sheet
- Bake for 10-12 minutes
No Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake
- Soak the cashews in water for one hour, drain and set aside
- Pulse the crust ingredients in a food processor for one minute
- Firmly press mixture into a loaf pan and place in freezer
- Pulse cheesecake ingredients until smooth consistency
- Spread cheesecake mixture on top of crust and freeze for about two hours
- Cut into squares when ready to serve
Healthy Pumpkin Smoothie
Blend until smooth and top it off with a dash of cinnamon
Beware of the High SPF –
The higher the SPF, the better, right? Not so fast.
The Federal Food and Drug Administration says that SPF benefits max out around 50+ and have mulled the idea of following the lead of commissions in Europe, Japan and Australia, by banning products that boast higher numbers that don’t necessarily translate into increased protection. As you could probably guess, sunscreen
manufacturers have been none too pleased by the FDA’s efforts to place limits on SPF levels and have helped keep proposed regulations languishing in bureaucratic limbo since 2007.
Steer Clear of Aerosol Sunscreens – Not only are there mounting concerns that aerosol sunscreens can be inhaled during application, but it’s a fact that both the propellant chemicals, along with the nanoparticles (zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) that are found in these sunscreens can be easily ingested.
Go 15 Minutes Free for Vitamin D – About 25 percent of Americans have borderline-low levels of vitamin D, while eight percent have a serious deficiency. Luckily, the best and purest form of vitamin D is readily available and cheap! Sunshine helps the body produce its own Vitamin D which helps strengthen bones, bolsters the immune system and reduces risks of breast, colon, kidney and ovarian cancers.
Forget Nano-particles –The Environmental Working Group — a nonprofit environmental research organization based in Washington, D.C. — gives a favorable rating to mineral sunscreens but is opposed to products that contain potentially harmful nano-particles. The EWG has urged the FDA to restrict the use of unstable or UV-reactive forms of minerals, believing that they hamper a product’s ability to protect the skin.
The Soiled Six – Just trust us on this one! Avoid these six ingredients at all cost: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octocrylene, homosalate, octinoxate and octocrylene.
The average age a woman enters menopause in the U.S. is age 51. A woman officially enters menopause one year after her last menstrual cycle. However, hormones can begin fluctuating and declining much earlier, in a phase referred to as “peri-menopause.” Peri-menopause can begin as early as age 35—but more commonly begins about age 40 or older.
Declining hormones may lead to a whole host of very unpleasant menopausal symptoms, and it’s estimated that 75% of American women experience some menopause symptoms.
Menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, irritability and occasional sleeplessness can make this period in a woman’s life truly miserable. But there are solutions that have been shown to effectively help relieve these symptoms without the use of hormones (hormone replacement therapy or HRT).
Remifemin menopause relief is an herbal supplement that has been shown to relieve common symptoms of menopause, including hot flashes, night sweats, irritability, as well as occasional sleeplessness. Remifemin contains an exclusive standardized RemiSure black cohosh extract, found in no other brands on the market. It’s much more than garden-variety black cohosh. It has been shown to be effective in numerous clinical studies, and has been one of the most well-recognized brands for relieve of menopausal symptoms for nearly 60 years.
If you are in need of more additional support at night, there is Remifemin Good Night menopause relief, which contains the RemiSure brand of black cohosh to relieve hot flashes and night sweats. It also contains relaxing herbs, including valerian, lemon balm, and hops. Remifemin Good Night not only relieves menopausal symptoms but supports sleep quality with its non-habit-forming, proprietary Restful Sleep Blend.
Menopause doesn’t have to be miserable. Turn to estrogen-free Remifemin or Remifemin Good Night for a hormone –free way to deal with the symptoms of menopause.
By Ned Brown, Healthy Skoop
Trying to educate yourself about nutrition can be like opening Pandora’s box. The sheer volume of information out there is overwhelming. Not to mention there’s often disagreement, even between very credible members of the scientific and medical communities. It’s enough to make you throw up your hands and reach for the cheezy doodles. Protein is no exception.
Many people dismiss protein supplements altogether, because they’re not trying to ‘bulk up.’ Well listen up, people of the world, because protein is good for the masses, not just the massive! Here’s why protein is one of our favorite macronutrients:
- Wards off hunger—it is a more complex form of fuel, so your stomach will stay busy digesting for longer than if you fill it with say, carbs.
- Provides sustained energy—and no ‘crash’ like you may experience with simple carbs or sugar.
- Helps rebuild muscles—so even if you’re not trying to emulate the Hulk, protein can help you stand tall and not hobble around like an old man the day after your jazzercise class.
So with that in mind, here are the top three myths about plant-based protein that we’d like to chat about:
- Plant-based proteins aren’t complete and don’t provide the full spectrum of amino acids that you need to get from your diet.
- Well, okay, this one is actually true. But the only way you could actually fall prey to this conundrum is if you decided you were only going to eat, say, legumes for protein and swear off every other protein source for the rest of your life. Which would be strange. In order to get a complete protein, all you have to do is combine two complimentary proteins. For instance, brown rice and yellow pea—which is the combo we picked for our B-Strong protein.
- Your body can’t absorb plant-based protein as well as cow-based protein.
- There’s some truth to this as well, if you’re comparing whole cooked plants to animal protein. But plant-based protein supplement technology has improved by leaps and bounds, and manufacturers have been able to achieve plant proteins that are just as absorbable as animal protein, with minimal processing. Some vitamins and minerals also aid in the absorption process, which is why we included 50% of the recommended daily intake of vitamins and minerals in Skoop B-Strong.
- You need a 4:1 carb to protein ratio
- It’s true that physiologists have found the 4:1 ratio to be the best composition for elite athletes to replenish nutrients following endurance activities. This is because intense, extended endurance activity can deplete the glycogen stores in your muscles, which can only be refilled by carbs. But here’s the thing—unless you are a professional endurance athlete, you’re probably not on that level where you need that many carbs.
- In addition, having a 4:1 protein powder is limiting because you should really only mix it with water, or risk ingesting way too many carbs. With a 1:1 ratio, like the one in Skoop B-Strong, you can shake it up with almond milk, add it to a fruit smoothie, bake it into energy bars–the possibilities are endless!!
And one more shameless plug—perhaps the best feature of Skoop B-Strong is that every time you Skoop it, you are helping put more fresh fruits and veggies into schools across the country. Nutrition is important to us, and we want kids above all to be educated about healthy eating. So we partnered with the Chef Ann Foundation to create the Mission Nutrition grant program. Schools can apply for grants and use the money to buy fresh produce, which they then present to the kids for sampling in all kinds of fun and creative ways. We think it’s pretty neat and we hope you do too. So get out there and #SkoopOn!
Inflammation is a normal part of the body’s immune response. It is the body’s attempt at self-protection and removing harmful stimuli before they cause any serious problems. In the case of when you sprain your ankle or scrape your knee acute inflammation is part of the healing process. This acute inflammation starts rapidly and last for only a couple of days. Without this acute inflammation the wounds and injuries we sustain would never heal. The problem arises when acute inflammation turns chronic in nature. Chronic inflammation means long-term inflammation, which lasts several months to years and is associated with a persistent stimulus. These persistent stimuli can be physical, mental or environmental in nature. Overtime this chronic inflammation wears out your immune system leading to chronic disease issues including asthma, heart disease, autoimmune disease, allergies, cancer, and a whole host of other health related issues.
Ways To Decrease Inflammation
Diet – Food truly is medicine. The best anti-inflammatory diet is not some made up fad. To have a true anti-inflammatory diet all it takes is to eat healthy. Here are just a couple of tips when it comes to eating a healthy diet.
- Limit sugar in your diet as much as possible.
- Increase foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains while limiting red meat, refined carbohydrates and farm raised fish.
- Avoid partially hydrogenated oils and cook with healthy fats like safflower, coconut and extra virgin olive oil.
- Avoid homogenized, processed and refined foods. Eat organic, fresh fruits and vegetable as well as grass fed and finished meats.
- Its not just food though that you need to pay attention to. You also want to pay attention to limiting soda and other sweetened beverages, coffee, and alcohol.
- Remember that water is also important and you should make sure you are getting the recommended amount of water daily.
Exercise – Exercise is one of the best ways to reduce inflammation. Research shows individuals who exercise 30 minutes a day are able to lower their markers of inflammation. Now this doesn’t have to be vigorous exercise, it could be as simple as going for a walk or getting outside and mowing the lawn so long as you increase your heart rate. The most important thing to remember is too not over do it and put to much stress on your body because this will only increase inflammation.
Sleep – Another simple lifestyle intervention to reduce inflammation is getting more sleep. Now that may be easier said then done but changes in sleep patterns due to lifestyle factors, aging and disease states have all been shown to increase well known inflammatory markers. Here are some simple tips to get better nights sleep:
- Sleep in a completely dark room by covering any light producing objects as it has been shown to affect sleep patterns.
- Hide the alarm clock.
- Try to wind down about a half hour before bedtime.
- Daily exercise has also been shown to improve sleep quality so long as you don’t workout to close to bedtime.
Environment – Every day we are exposed to a wide array of pesticides, herbicides, and other environmental toxins. We cannot completely avoid these throughout the day but we can do our best to try and limit our exposure. Here are a couple of simple tips for limiting exposure to environmental pollutants:
- Dirty Dozen – This is a list of 12 foods that contain the most pesticide residues. When shopping for foods it may not be in your budget to purchase everything organic but you can at least avoid the 12 most toxic ridden fruits and vegetables.
- Allow products like carpets, dry cleaning, particleboard, and other home furnishings to off gas before bringing them into the home.
- Take shoes off before entering the home.
- Purchase an air purifier or filter
- Don’t microwave food in plastic.
Supplements That Decrease Inflammation
- Curcumin -For those confused between the difference of curcumin and turmeric, curcumin is the most active constituent of turmeric. Curcumin is the orange pigment in turmeric and is a potent antioxidant that offers numerous health benefits. Some of these health benefits include supporting joint health and cardiovascular function, and helping to maintain the body’s normal inflammatory response.
- Fish Oils – It is well known that diets and supplements rich in Omega 3’s reduce the body’s overall burden of inflammation. Fish Oils help to fight off inflammation throughout the entire body.
- Instead of mentioning vitamin separately I thought it best to talk about them together. Vitamins Like B6 and Dhave been found to have a role in the body’s inflammatory response. Research has shown that low levels of vitamin B6 in the body has been linked with chronic inflammation while vitamin D may play a role in the genes that decrease inflammation.
- Bromelain – Bromelain is a mixture of proteolytic enzymes that is found in pineapples. Although it has numerous health benefits its mostly known for its effectiveness in reducing inflammation.
Filed Under: Uncategorized
at 8:00 am | By: Dr. Jeremy Wolf, ND & Lead Wellness Advisor
Myofascial release is a technique that involves applying a soft sustained pressure into the myofascial connective tissue. The fascia is a thin, tough, elastic type of connective tissue that surrounds most structures in the body including muscles. But how can you apply this soft pressure to the back of your neck, shoulders or areas where you can’t reach? The simple answer is a foam roller
Foam rollers are large logged shape pieces of foam that can be placed on the floor and used to rollout muscles before or after an exercise. Some of the many benefits of foam rolling include improving circulation, increase blood flow, release muscle tightness, increase range of motion and decrease pain. One Research article showed that just 2 minutes of foam rolling was able to increase range of motion by up to 10 degrees. Another article showed that the use of a foam roller reduces arterial stiffness and improves vascular endothelial function. Foam rollers work by breaking down fibrous tissue or adhesions that may be causing you pain, stiffness and tension. Another great benefit to daily foam rolling is that it can actually improve core muscle strength and thus balance. Just like a fitness ball, a foam roller is unstable. While you lay with your back on the foam roller you are actually causing your abdominal muscles to engage. While using foam rollers to help relieve yourself of tension and pain it is best to use them daily to help prevent these issues before they even start.
Click here to check out our large selection of foam rollers that you can use daily while at home, on the road, or even at your office. Take not rollers come in all shapes and sizes. Some rollers are harder while others are softer. For instance the STI rumble roller is contoured for more of a deep tissue roll. Be sure to also look below for some common exercises to get you started with your foam roller. Here are a couple of tips to consider before getting underway; just because we have pain in a certain area it is not always best to roll directly over that area. Also it takes time for your brain to tell your muscles to relax so make sure you take your time, don’t roll to fast and enjoy the relaxation.
- Shoulder Blade Rolls – Lie face up with a foam roller under your upper back, at the tops of your shoulder blades. Cross your arms over your chest. Your knees should be bent with your feet flat on the floor. Raise your hips so they’re slightly elevated off the floor. Roll back and forth over your shoulder blades and your mid- and upper back.
- Glute Rolls– Sit on a foam roller with it positioned on the back of your right thigh, just below your glutes. Cross your right leg over the front of your left thigh. Put your hands flat on the floor for support. Roll your body forward until the roller reaches your lower back. Then roll back and forth. Repeat with the roller under your left glute.
- Hamstring – Place the foam roller underneath your upper hamstring muscles below your glutes. Cross your right leg over your left leg and roll the foam roller down from your glutes to right above your left knee. Do 10-12 slow and steady passes. Repeat on the other side.
Filed Under: Uncategorized
at 11:57 am | By: Jessica Justh, Senior Editor
Castile soap makes living a greener lifestyle even easier. This coconut-derived soap lathers up great and can be used to clean almost everything in your house, including you!
- Floor Cleaner – Get floors that sparkle without the streaks. Mix one cap full of castile soap with one gallon of hot water.
- Body Wash – All natural and nothing artificial! The peppermint is our favorite because it not only cleans but leaves a refreshing tingle too!
- Dish Soap – Your dishes will shine without the aid of nasty chemicals by melting ¼ cup of grated castile bar soap in 2 cups of boiling water. Once dissolved add ¼ cup of liquid castile soap, 1 teaspoon of vegetable glycerin and 1 teaspoon of super washing soda.
- Toothpaste – This is a great natural alternative to baking soda. The taste may take a little getting used to but it’s free of glycerin, fluoride and other toxic ingredients.
- Laundry – Use 1/3 cup of castile soap to a load of laundry. You can add borax dissolved in water for a deeper clean.
- Organic Gardening – Put one teaspoon of castile soap, a dash of cinnamon and cayenne pepper in a spray bottle filled with water. This combo will help keep bugs from harming your plants.
- Shave Cream – This soap lathers up nicely, producing a perfect shaving foam.
- Baby Soap – Your little one’s skin is sensitive. Protect it with a mild soap made with organic ingredients.
- Vegetable wash – Remove harsh residues from fruits and vegetables.
- Foot Soak – Add one teaspoon to a bucket of warm water and relax. Tea tree Castile will help with athlete’s foot and kill other fungal infections.
- Furry Friends – This non-irritating soap is great for pets. Plus, the coconut oil keeps their coats soft and shiny.
Just because it’s the holiday season doesn’t mean you can’t make healthy choices. Here are some unique appetizers that will delight your guests’ palates and bring smiles to their faces.
Start by hard-boiling some eggs. Next, stack the eggs with kabob sticks. Use peppercorns for the eyes and buttons, cut your carrots in rounds for the hat and finish it off with parsley for the arms.
These fun and healthy treats are perfect if you have kids coming to your dinner. Plus, they are a piece of cake to put together. Here’s what you’ll need – mini marshmallows, strawberries with the tops sliced off, a peeled banana and sliced green grapes. Place one of each ingredient on a toothpick to assemble and Enjoy!
This cucumber tree is so clever! Start by halving a granny smith apple. Lay it cut-side down and spear it with a skewer. Take you sliced cucumber and arrange each slice in a circular pattern. Top it off with a slice of red pepper. Cut the remainder of the pepper into small pieces to act as ornaments.
These adorable appetizers are so cute you won’t want to eat them! Use a can of Colossal pitted black olives. Cut a lengthwise slit in 10 olives. Using half a stick of Neufchatel (or cream cheese) make ¼ teaspoon round balls with a measuring spoon. Stuff the olive so that you see the Neufchatel through the slit. Cut a carrot into ¼ inch rounds and slice a small triangle out of each slice. Next, take the cut triangle “beak” and insert into the olive. Finally, assemble the penguin with a carrot foot, stuffed olive, and olive with carrot beak.
Curling up with a warm mug of vanilla, earthy goodness is nothing less than perfection on a cold winter night. Every sip of Vanilla Chai Dream Immunity feels like a hug in a mug. Only, this hug goes the extra mile by boosting your immune system and nourishing your body with superfoods such as turmeric, milk thistle and astragalus. Chai lovers are sure to enjoy the rich combination of cinnamon and clove in this raw, vegan, gluten- and soy-free, non-gmo delight. Simply heat some organic almond milk and add one heaping teaspoon of this exotic herbal blend to keep your defenses strong for the cold and flu season.
If you’re looking for a little pick-me-up that does the job and tastes great, too, then Elemental Energy Rare Chocolate Flavor is just what you need. The Arriba Nacional raw and organic cacao makes it a dessert in a glass, satisfying your sweet tooth naturally without any added sugar. It’s enriched with Maca Root, loaded with vitamin B vitamins, C, and E. Add a scoop to eight ounces of water or milk substitute for this decadent (in taste only!) drink. Dial back on your affeine intake by replacing your afternoon cup of joe with Elemental Energy!
Solis Nutritional Blends draws wisdom from South American tribal vitality rituals, Traditional Chinese wellness practices and India’s Ayurvedic health system. The herbs and superfoods they’ve selected have been safely and effectively used for thousands of years.
Solis Nutritional Blends was founded on the belief that simple and honest daily rituals are fundamental to living a healthy life. Of all these daily rituals, family nourishment may be the most important to health – but in our hectic lives, it can be a challenge. Solis solves this problem with their superfood blends that transform water/milk/etc. into nutrient-packed and drinkable superfoods for the whole family. Solis takes great pride in making family wellness easier without shortcuts or compromise – just authentic and honest plant-based nutrition.
Filed Under: Uncategorized
at 5:00 am | By: Mauricio Matusiak, Senior Editor
Lucky Vitamin is proud to introduce another premium brand of health food products to our customers: Mira’s Homemade.
Mira’s Homemade offers a superior line of granola products made with only five or fewer raw and organic ingredients. The company minimizes ingredients while maximizing nutrition and taste, creating granola products which are completely vegan, GMO, soy and gluten-free, contain no refined sugars, low in sodium, high in fiber, and are a good source of protein. Children as well as adults enjoy them in a variety of ways but especially right out of the bag, and because they double as a delicious snack food, a growing number of people prefer them over heavily sugared or salty snack alternatives.
Mira’s Homemade granola can be eaten in many different ways: you can have them as a crunchy addition to oatmeal, salads, your favorite dairy-free yogurt, atop dairy-free ice cream, or for an amazing new snack experience spread some nut butter on the larger pieces. Mira’s Homemade granola is somewhere between bits and bars in the granola world and, therefore, the possibilities are yours to create. However you eat them, you can be sure to enjoy exceptional nutrition and great taste of these four personality-packed granola products.
Mira’s Homemade creates food that does the least amount of harm to, and the most amount of good for, animals, humans, and the natural resources on our precious planet. Additionally, you can save an extra 10% on all Mira’s Homemade products at LuckyVitamin.com. For a limited-time, just enter promo code MAY14NEW10 to save an additional 10% on all items of this new brand.