Saturated fats are fatty acids with carbon chains that are fully loaded (or saturated) with hydrogen bonds. These chains stack perfectly on top of one another, making them solid at room temperature. Think butter, lard, and coconut oil.
Unsaturated fats have unfilled hydrogen bonds, creating kinks in their carbon chains which keeps them from stacking on top of one another uniformly. These kinks make them liquid at room temperature. Poly-unsaturated (poly- means many) fats have multiple kinks in their fatty acid chains and mono-unsaturated fats (mono- means one) have one kink.
Sesame and avocado oil are naturally produced unsaturated fats; olive oil is a naturally occurring mono-unsaturated fat.
While humans love categories, all naturally occurring fats are actually a combination of poly-, un-, and mono-unsaturated fats. Butter, for example, is 25% mono-unsaturated.
Why Clear Veggie Oils Are Problematic
"These now rancid fats trigger a cascade of inflammatory processes in the body. This is an issue because clear veggie oils are everywhere from healthy snack foods to fried food at both fancy and fast-food restaurants.
We can get all the polyunsaturated fats we need by consuming Whole Food sources of nuts, seeds, & cold water fish. The abundance of clear veggie oils, however, has tipped our fat ratios out of balance.
The primary PUFAs to look out for are*: canola oil, soybean oil, cottonseed oil, safflower oil, grapeseed oil, & sunflower oil
Get this: the ideal ratio of polyunsaturated Omega 6 (Linoleic Acid, LA) to Omega 3 (Alpha-linolenic Acid, ALA) is 1:1... But the average America has a ratio of ~20:1! This stark imbalance means major inflammation in the body (It’s also the underlying reason why so many health professionals recommend fish oils, or Omega 3s).
It makes sense that most people - even health-conscious ones - have an overabundance of rancid PUFAs in their life. Of course anything fried is going to present your body with inflammatory omegas, but ready-made snacks like cookies, chips, crackers, dressings, and sauces are some of the biggest offenders. Since clear veggie oils are often subsidized and very cheap, they are used for baking, frying, and sautéeing at even the fanciest restaurants.
It's impossible to avoid every single PUFA as a modern human, but bringing awareness and avoiding them as much as you can will work wonders!
*You CAN find good quality veggie oils that are cold-pressed such as walnut, flax, and sunflower even; however, these are very few and far between, quite expensive, and must be stored in dark bottles away from light and heat.
Nightshades are a fascinating family of over 2,000 species of plants including:
Ashwagandha, Bell peppers (aka sweet peppers), Bush tomatoes, Eggplant, Goji berries, Ground cherries , Hot peppers (such as chili peppers, Jalapenos, habaneros, chili-based spices, red pepper, and cayenne pepper), Paprika, Pepino (aka pepino melon), Pimentos, Potatoes (but not sweet potatoes), Tomatillos, & Tomatoes
While many nightshades are tasty, many are quite deadly, like the notorious Locoweed (Datura stramonium) or Belladonna (Atropa belladonna).
Nightshade sensitivity is an underlying cause in many inflammatory conditions today, particularly those including: muscle and joint pain, morning stiffness, arthritis, insomnia, heartburn, GERD, and autoimmunity.
Along with soy, many common nightshades are relatively new to the Western and European diets, not arriving to North America until the 18th century. In fact, the tomato was initially used only as an ornamental plant because it was believed to be poisonous like some of its relatives. Despite their relative new-ness to the Western diet, nightshades are everywhere today: french fries, mashed potatoes, tomatoes, pizza, hot sauce, and let’s not forget tobacco. Here’s why you might want to reduce or avoid these powerful plants all together for a period of time:
1. They are “calcinogenic”. This means they can cause soft tissues to calcify (calcinosis) due to their positive effect on blood calcium levels. The body does not like high blood calcium, so the quickest way to remedy this situation is to deposit the extra calcium into the soft tissues. Each hypercalcemic episode lasts only a few moments but also leaves a small deposit behind. Over time, these deposits lead to the condition known as calcinosis, contributing to hardening of the vasculature.
2. They contain acetylcholinesterase inhibitors. Solanine and similar glycoalkaloids found in nightshades inhibit the breakdown of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. This causes extended muscle contractions and a major reason why those sensitive to nightshades experience morning stiffness. Solanine also disturbs digestive function (common in IBS-sufferers), gene expression of intestinal cells, and inhibits proteolytic enzyme activity.
3. They contain nicotine, a substance that is both addictive and inhibits proper inflammation in the body when out of balance.
And let's not forget saponins...
5. Saponins can poke holes in your gut - All plants contain saponins, but Nightshades are quite high in an especially corrosive class of them. Saponins are detergent-like compounds that protect plants from predation by dissolving cellular membranes. This is great for protecting the plant’s seeds from predation, but not so great when those saponins damage the cells that line our gut (enterocytes). Saponins can literally poke holes through our cells’ protective walls, creating a case of leaky gut. Essentially, the holes allow things to pass through that shouldn’t be in our bloodstream. While some saponins are beneficial and allow for the absorption of certain minerals without harming the cells, others can be more corrosive and damaging to our intestinal wall. Glycoalkaloids, abundant in Nightshades, are one such class of saponins that aren’t so gentle. Glycoalkaloids (alpha-solanine and alpha-chaconine in potato, alpha-solanine in eggplant, and alpha-tomatine in tomato) are very well studied and have revealed issues with absorption and inflammation in many animal studies. For people dealing with systemic inflammation, autoimmune conditions, and issues with digestion, taking a break from Nightshades is a wise choice. The low-level toxic exposure from glycoalkaloids can aggravate the issues we are trying to resolve.
In, F. T. A., Out, F. T. A., & Reintroductions, P. ALL ABOUT NIGHTSHADES.
McFarland, E. (2013). The Link between nightshades, chronic pain and inflammation. GreenMedInfo LLC.
Robertson, P., & Roberts, P. (2003). The Solanaceae and their paradoxical effects on arthritis and other degenerative disease states
Enemas aren’t anything new. We are talking about a practice that’s been happening since 1,500 B.C! From China to Africa and South America to North, inventive humans across the globe have fashioned animal bladders, bamboo pipes, and all sorts of contraptions to flush the bowels and jump-start detoxification.
Using coffee for enemas became a thing in WWI. Wounded soldiers were routinely prepped for surgery using water enemas. In a pinch with no water around, a nurse used coffee and the results were amazing! When soldiers started noting how much better they felt post-coffee enema, they became standard protocol.
Enemas: Much More Than Just Helping You Poop
We think of enemas as only clearing out poop, but their benefits are far more reaching than that. In fact, coffee enemas in particular support the liver as much as they clear crud from the colon.
Just inside our rectum (last part of our colon before the anus, or our butthole) resides our hemorrhoidal veins. These veins connect to the major venous system of the liver, the hepatic portal. The coffee’s vasodilatory effect opens these vessels up so that all of its antioxidant-rich compounds are delivered much more directly and quickly than simply drinking coffee. Plus, coffee ingested this way hasn’t been broken down by our stomach acid.
With all this stimulating coffee entering the dilated hepatic portal vessels, the liver is triggered to secrete bile. Bile is a critical component of detoxification but many of us, due to a surplus of toxins in our environment and food supply, have lackluster bile creation and flow. Basically, blood is sent to the liver to have all the waste filtered out, and at any given moment, the liver is holding ~10% of our blood! The bile is responsible for removing that captured waste. If we have a sluggish bile, the toxins filtered out of the blood will build up and create a sludgy mess. Sometimes this blocks the bile duct, other times it causes inflammation which stresses the immune system and leads to a vicious cycle of chronic disease. By stimulating bile flow, coffee enemas have the power to de-gunk and unblock, allowing relief and a revitalized detoxification system of the liver and colon. Coffee also stimulates contraction of the gallbladder, the organ that holds the bile for us during digestion. A happily contracting gallbladder means better fat digestion and toxin clearing and less risk of gallstones.
Coffee contains 2 unique constituents found nowhere else: kahweol and cafestol palmitate. Both are known to support healthy gene expression by turning on the genes that increase the rate of detoxification in our intestines. They’ve also been shown to increase the level of glutathione, our most powerful antioxidant, in both the colon and the liver. Glutathione and other antioxidants are vital for breaking down harmful reactive oxygen species (ROS), heavy metals, and other carcinogens and toxins. (1) In particular, glutathione plays a role in inhibiting neoplasia, or the uncontrolled & abnormal growth of tissue - basically what happens in cancerous situations (so my coffee shop customer was right after all!). Theophylline, also found in chocolate and tea, has been used to reduce inflammation in the liver and intestines.Caffeine serves to dilate blood vessels, improving circulation, Qi flow, and delivery of the healing compounds dramatically
As herbalists, we know the power of the whole is far greater than a few constituents isolated for science. While these identified compounds are fun to extract and goggle over, it’s the whole bean that offers a matrix of thousands of healing compounds. Together, they create a cooling, diuretic, parasympathetic-stimulating, and anti-inflammatory dose of goodness for our insides.
What You’ll Need
-Coffee - but not just any coffee. It must be organic, mold-free, fully caffeinated & light roasted (less roasting means more helpful compounds). We like Kion or this.
-Distilled or Berkey filtered water (to remove chlorine, fluoride and other chemicals)
-Coffee enema steel bucket - we like this one
-Something to lubricate the end of the tube that goes inside you. We like coconut oil
-A comfy spot in your bathroom to do the deed.
HOW TO* (I promise it’s not as messy as you think):
-The best time to do it is in the morning after your first poop. Removing all the poop and trapped gas beforehand will make the experience much more pleasant. Remember that coffee is stimulating so doing this later in the day may disturb your sleep.
-Choose a bathroom with a shower to set up your enema. Lay out a yoga mat or some towels on the floor or in the tub- somewhere close to the toilet. You will be laying on this during the cathartic experience.
Make your coffee the night before or let it cool down completely before adding 1-2 tbsp of it to 1 quart of filtered, room-temp filtered or distilled water.
-Pour the water-coffee mixture into your steel enema bucket, making sure the tube is clamped so it doesn’t immediately come pouring out. Hang the bucket from your shower.
-Rub some coconut oil on the tip of the tube or on your bum and gently ease it in while laying on your back or your left side. When you are ready, gradually undo the clamp so the liquid slowly flows out of the bucket and into you. Try to fill your booty up with ½ of the quart. If you feel cramping before this, close the flow and let the cramping pass or remove the tip and relieve yourself on the toilet. The goal is to hold each ½ of the quart for 10-15 minutes. Also, if you can’t hold it more than a minute - don’t fret! You are still getting some benefit and the more you do it, the easier it gets.
-Be sure to thoroughly clean, sterilize, and dry every part of the enema kit following the kit’s instructions.
The whole process should take less than an hour.
Take slow deep breaths when the cramping starts to help you hold it a bit longer. I like to breathe deeply while swaying back and forth on my back to take my mind off the toilet.
Start with 1 tbsp of coffee per quart of water, working your way up to 4 tbsp.
Start with 1 coffee enema/week, doing up to 3x a week (unless otherwise directed by your healthcare professional, multiple times a day is not a good idea - you can only release so many toxins at one time).
NOT TOO HOT, NOT TOO COLD.
Never use hot coffee to do an enema (YOWCH!) Let it cool down to a slightly warm or lukewarm temperature (diluting filtered water will facilitate this as well). At the same time, cold coffee enemas are not pleasant either. I like my coffee enema liquid to be gently warm to the touch; this creates a soothing experience.
You don't want to forget about cleaning out your kit. I do this with warm soapy water immediately after my enema and am sure to let it dry completely before storing. Running hydrogen peroxide through the tube is also a good idea.
*Be sure you speak with your healthcare professional before starting any new healthcare routine. Coffee enemas can be very helpful, but if you aren’t yet ready in your detoxification optimization journey, they could do more harm than good.
We recreated a classic with this recipe by soaking our oatmeal prior to baking. If you haven't yet discovered the benefits of soaking your grains before cooking or eating them, read our previous blog for the full run-down on this essential kitchen tip! To sum it up, soaking &rinsing oatmeal removes plant compounds that can impede the full digestion and absorption. This means less gas, bloating and indigestion but more nutrition for you - it's a win-win!
1 c organic* soats (soaked oats)
1 c blanched almond or pumpkin seed flour
1 c shredded coconut
6 tbsp coconut sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 hefty pinch sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or melted Ghee
2 tsp vanilla
3 tsp flaxseed meal
1/2 or 3/4 c chocolate chips (depending on how much of a choco-holic you are)
1/2 cup crushed walnuts or pumpkin seeds
Preheat oven to 350F and line a baking pan with a Silpat or parchment paper. The night prior to baking, place 1 cup organic oats in a sieve and rinse with water. Next, add the rinsed oats and 2 1/2 cups filtered water to a jar or bowl. Add a hefty pinch of sea salt, cover, and leave on the counter to soak over night. When you are ready to bake, use a cheese-cloth or mesh bag to strain out the soaking liquid. Use your muscles to really squeeze out all the oat juice you possibly can. You can save this to use as oat milk or as a soothing skin wash.
Next, add the "soats" (soaked oats), coconut sugar, olive oil/ghee, egg, vanilla, and flax to a blender or food processor and blend well. Meanwhile in a large bowl mix all the dry ingredients (coconut shreds, nut flour, baking soda, salt, and spices). Mix the blended wet ingredients into the dry and add the chocolate chips and/or nuts. You should be able to roll the dough into 1 inch balls with your hands. I like to lightly wet my hands to make this process even easier. Use your peace fingers to slightly press down on each dough ball so that it's about 1/2" thick (these cookies don't spread much on their own so you have to help them!), Bake for 15 minutes until just beginning to turn golden brown. Remove from oven, let cool, and enjoy! Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
This recipe makes 12-16 balls depending on how big you make them.
Don't Be a Statistic: Why You Need to Balance Your Blood Sugar
Insulin issues are the name of the 21st century disease game. At the current diagnosis rate, 1/3rd of all children will have Type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is essentially accelerated aging due to increased oxidation from excess glucose in the blood; at this rate, we are priming a whole generation to lead a disease-riddled, expensive life. Not only does diabetes profoundly inhibit health, but it is also seriously expensive. Yearly, an individual will spend $13,700 and our country will spend $825 billion just to ameliorate the effects of a 99.99999% preventable disease (Harvard Chan School of Public Health, 2016).
Insulin resistance is the precursor to Type 2 diabetes, and 25% of the non-diabetic population are unknowingly insulin resistant (and 25% will go on to develop full-blown Type 2 diabetes). We need insulin to tell our cells how to deliver glucose out of the bloodstream and into tissue so it can be utilized for energy. The conversion of food to energy is foundational to life; when the body loses the ability to do this task correctly, a domino effect of disease ensues. This is why insulin resistance (also known as Metabolic Syndrome or Syndrome X) and diabetes are always accompanied by co-morbidities: neuro-degeneration, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, polycystic ovarian syndrome, cancer, etc. The underlying biochemical defect of all these chronic degenerative diseases is all the same: decreased sensitivity to insulin signaling.
So why does our body stop responding to insulin? It’s a combination of things- mainly sugar, processed foods and trans fats (the two go hand-in-hand), stress, and lack of exercise. Obviously, there is a lot of this in the modern world, and some individuals are more susceptible than others. When insulin signaling gets disrupted and excess glucose remains in the blood instead of being transported to the appropriate places, our internal environment shifts to a disordered state. The pancreas will begin secreting larger amounts of insulin to overcome to the lack of insulin signaling. So now, there is more than enough insulin in the blood but the cells simply can’t get the message because of all the misplaced glucose.
All that glucose floating around in our blood stream eventually oxidizes, clunking up our vessels and jeopardizing circulation. Think crusty bread- the same reaction that forms crust on bread forms clunks in our blood: the excess sugar molecules react with the proteins in our blood to form clunky, gloopy advanced glycation end-products (AGEs) which are seriously bad news. They stress our body out, contributing to further inflammation and stress and screwing up blood flow.
There is great biochemical diversity among individuals, so some folks can maintain this hyperinsulinemic (“excessive insulin”) state for a while without developing diabetes, while others develop it immediately. Folks with Syndrome X will have a cluster of signs and symptoms: abdominal fat, high blood pressure, elevated triglycerides, depressed HDL (“good” cholesterol), cognitive decline, poor circulation, etc. With excess glucose in the blood, the body goes into an alarm state because it knows that glucose isn’t supposed to be there. The body’s alarm state is inflammation. It starts firing off inflammatory cytokines (chemical messengers), tipping our bodies further and further in the direction of disorder and disease. It’s a vicious cycle and the one spinning the wheel is us. Our unfit lifestyle and dietary habits are fueling the diabetic fires.
When you tally all the potential pain and expense you’ll be sparing yourself by making some simple yet effective lifestyle modifications, the answer is easy: do it! You can reverse diabetes and Syndrome X- it will take time and effort, lots of vegetables, herbs, and exercise, but your renewed vigor and figure will outshine your longing for simple, refined sugars. When you start eliminating sugar and processed foods and then go back to them, you will be amazed by how excessively sweet they taste. We must shift our bodies back to states of efficient metabolism, smooth digestion, and clean elimination. It is our responsibility on earth to take care of our bodies.
There is a simple formula to re-sensitize our bodies to that ever-important chemical, insulin. You can follow these recommendations as closely or loosely as you’d like, depending on your degree of insulin resistance:
10 Steps for Better Blood Sugar Handling
1. Eat vegetables, protein, with every meal. A typical day could look like this: eggs and greens for breakfast; berries and nuts for snack; sautéed vegetables and pesto with chicken/mushrooms/fish for lunch; an apple and cheese for snack; lentils and salmon for dinner; 70% or higher dark chocolate with a fat glob of coconut oil and sea salt for dessert.
2. Stay away from fruit juices, tropical, and dried fruits. Berries are the best fruit choices, then things like apples, plums, pears, and citrus fruits. Avoid all processed food and refined sugar. Avoid all breads and grains, especially white bread. After a while, you can start incorporating a bit of good quality, whole and ancient grain treats: sprouted grain bread, whole-wheat sourdough, oatmeal, and buckwheat are some fine examples.
3. Eat the right veggies. Dark leafy greens, brassicas (cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts, etc.), onions, zucchini, cucumber, squash, peppers, beans, tomatoes, turnips, radishes, lettuce, avocados, asparagus, carrots, parsnips… Wow! there are so many wonderful vegetables to eat. If you are concerned about blood sugar, it’s best to avoid super sweet starchy vegetables like sweet peas, white potatoes and corn. Starchy vegetables that are okay to eat include sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, and Jerusalem artichokes.
4. Eat good fats with every meal. Omega 3s – essential for good health and lacking in the modern diet- shift bodies back to un-inflamed states. When we get our body to an un-inflamed state, it will begin to heal itself. Fish oils, walnuts, flaxseed oil, olive oil, and coconut oil are all good sources. Animal fat/butter are okay to eat in small quantities for they have many Omega 6s, which can shift our body back to inflamed states. Some body types, typically prone to constipation, are able to handle large amounts of good fats and need it for smooth digestion. For others, a modest amount of fat will do.
5. AVOID PROCESSED FOODS and TRANS FATS. Even if a processed food doesn’t have sugar, it is still playing a major role in perpetuating insulin resistance and inflammation. The more packaging and indiscernible ingredients, the more processed the food. Processed foods and trans-fats go hand and hand. Humans created trans-fats so they could turn liquid fat into a solid for transporting and processing purposes. Our bodies haven’t quite figured out how to process this new chemically structured fat. Therefore, it doesn’t get processed and just sits in the blood stream causing clunkiness and oxidation. Oxidized fats in the blood is a ticking time bomb for blood clots, heart attacks, stroke, etc. Sometimes, in a pinch you might have to rely on packaged food to fuel you. But feed your cells the right way! Instead, choose nuts, seeds, beef jerky, or a piece of fruit for a quick snack.
7. Get a good quality probiotic and eat fermented foods. Every aspect of our being is dictated by the bacteria in our gut (Salina Nelson, 2016). The bulk of our immunity and neurotransmitters is maintained and manufactured by our gut bacteria. They unlock crucial vitamins and minerals and make nutrients available to us. Gut dysbiosis – an unhealthy bacterial state in our tummies- effects our whole body. Gut dysbiosis, which largely results from lack of vegetables (they eat fiber), excessive sugar, trans-fats, and processed foods, is marked by inflammation. Remember: when our bodies shifts to the alarmed state of inflammation, everything malfunctions. Dr. Ohhira probiotics are a great choice. Stay away from cheap probiotics at convenient stores and those that need refrigeration (probiotics should be shelf stable).
8. Exercise. Move every day. Don’t sit down so much. Little subtle movements add up: use the stairs; bend at the knees rather the hips when you pick something up; take a 30 minute walk after dinner; do ten pushups during your bathroom break (and then wash your hands and smell your pits); stretch. Exercise increases insulin sensitivity, lubricates hungry joints, and facilitates circulation so that life-giving blood can travel to all the places it needs to go. Exercise reduces stress, too. Stress hormones cause inflammation. Are you seeing
9. Don’t eat past 8 PM. It is a bad health habit to go to bed on a full tummy. Digestion takes a lot of energy. Even though we are sleeping, our bodies are still working if we have to digest food and alcohol while we sleep. Night-time is time for our detoxifying organs to do rejuvenation and maintenance work. If you are starving, a small snack is fine.
10. HERBS and MINERALs.
While food and lifestyle habits are foundational, herbs and minerals help wake up our cells to insulin signaling and help us efficiently utilize the fuel we are ingesting. Here are some common herbs and minerals known to improve insulin sensitivity and sugar handling:
-Bitter melon, Momordica charantia
-True cinnamon, Cinnamomum verum
-America Ginseng, Panax quinquefolius
-Triphala (a traditional Ayurvedic blend)
-Turmeric, Curcuma longa
-Fenugreek, Trigonella foenum-graecum
-Licorice, Glycyrrhiza glabra
-Blueberry leaf, Vaccinium ssp.
-Mulberry leaf, Morus ssp.
-Any bitter herb (Milk thistle, Artichoke, Gentian, Wormwood)
-Moringa, Moringa oleifera
Any adaptogenic herb is also great to take daily. Adaptogenic herbs strengthen our body’s complex reactions to stress. They are generally regarded as safe to take daily and come in many different forms. Find the one that works with your body. I like Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) and Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum/tenuiflorum).
Don’t be too hard on yourself. Like Julia Child says, “Everything in moderation, even moderation”. Treat sweets and breads like just that - a treat! When you do this, your appreciation and enjoyment of them will enhance greatly.
Head over to our online shop to check out our Healing Harvest Tea, designed to enhance digestion and blood sugar handling
Mushrooms are medicine for humans and the Earth. Not many creatures can transform waste into raw materials to sustain life. While the majestic and beautiful animals like lions, elk, and eagles get all the glory, life simply would not exist without decomposers like mushrooms. We are wise to invest more time and energy into understanding these unique and sometimes ugly, weird, and smelly life forms. They humbly hold our world together and could be the answer to a handful of environmental and human health concerns, including toxic waste accumulation, cancer, and auto-immune disorders. Mushrooms are medicines for humans and the Earth.
Is Stomach Acid!!!!
I’m going to keep this brief (kinda) because I want everyone to read it. We live in a world of information overload. You can Google anything and get 500 different answers. Everyone has an opinion, and this is great; however, it is also dizzying. Here’s my opinion: trust your gut. But how can you trust your gut if it’s a hot mess?
No one should live with acid reflux. It is PREDOMINATELY preventable. If you are reading this, you likely have the luxuries of sleeping indoors and access to ample resources. At this point in our evolution as civilized beings, we have access to all the tools we need to thrive, and yet many people are living with consistent stomach pain. This should not be the case.
A healthy gut operates by means of: a well-nourished mucosal lining, strong stomach acids (pH=1-3), and digestive enzymes. All these components are connected. Unlike the rest of the body, the stomach needs to be very acidic so it can pulverize the things we eat. What’s more, enzymes can only be activated in an acidic state. Stomach acid and unlocked enzymes cause digestion. Insufficient stomach acid and dormant enzymes cause indigestion. Over time, undigested food can irritate and inflame the mucosal lining, perhaps wearing it down and eventually escaping into other parts of the body (i.e. leaky gut).
It’s amazing that our bodies create hydrochloric acid (HCl), a main ingredient of stomach juice. It can eat through metal! Stomach acid not only unlocks enzymes, but it also keeps bad bacteria out. As we age, we loose the ability to create powerful stomach acids. When we eat an excess of certain foods, we loose the ability to create powerful stomach acids. When we rush our meals and don’t take time to chew properly, we aren’t allowing our body to kick into digestive mode to secrete stomach acids. When we don’t eat bitter foods before meals, an evolutionary cue to promote gut secretions, the body is less primed to digest fully. When we don’t have sufficient stomach acids, the LES (lower esophageal sphincter the separates esophagus from stomach) is never cued to close. Acid doesn’t belong in the esophagus, and hence heartburn is felt. Gas, bloating, indigestion, heartburn- there are many causes of digestive pains, but the key ingredient to solving all these issues is acid!
Conventional protocols for acid reflux can be over-the-counter acid neutralizers (antacids), or prescribed acid blockers (histamine H2-receptor blockers and proton pump inhibitors). Acid neutralizers “work” by balancing an acid with an alkali (calcium, sodium, aluminum, or magnesium). They don’t interfere with the process of your stomach secreting acid; rather, the alkali salt combines with your HCl to neutralize it. Antacids are transient, working only until all the antacid molecules are used. For occasional use, they can be helpful. If taken consistently, they can seriously mess with the functionality of your gut. First off, your food can’t be digested in such a neutral state, so you are robbed of vital nutrients and minerals. They can cause elevated blood pH, excess calcium in the blood, and kidney failure; this is called milk-alkali syndrome. Some women are led to believe that antacids in the form of calcium-carbonate can do double duty as a calcium supplement for osteoporosis prevention. This is a terrible misconception; in fact, calcium can only be absorbed and properly deposited in an acidic environment.
Histamine H2-receptor blockers “work” by chemically inhibiting the process of stomach acid secretion. The hormone gastrin stimulates histamine-producing cells that stimulate stomach acid secretion (the body is complex!). With the histamine signal blocked, stomach acid is not secreted. No stomach acid secretions means no enzymes unlocked, no vital nutrients and minerals absorbed. Additionally, messing with hormone signaling causes adverse side effects with our sex hormones (not something to be tampered with).
Proton pump inhibitors “work” by tinkering with the cells that line the stomach. Their “proton pump” mechanism is responsible for secreting HCl. These pills are effective: they can reduce acid secretions by up to 95%. Once again, with deficient stomach acid, your food simply isn’t digested. Over time, this creates uncountable issues. Our bodies are designed to produce acid to digest food. Let’s cut to the chase and just promote this natural process rather than interfering with it.
What you can do:
Stop diminishing your stomach acid and start building up that nutrient-unleashing digestive power! There are ample natural remedies to restore gut health to its full vitality.
This method is FREE and universal:
These methods are affordable and versatile. Find the combination that works for your unique situation:
1. Take bitters.
The bitter reflex stimulates the digestive process to kick into action. This taste is largely lacking from the modern diet, and partially explains our rampant gut issues. Bitters come easily in the form of tincture, but even just having a bitter green salad before the heft of your meal (this is traditionally why salads proceed your main meal). The bitter stimulus triggers a positive waterfall of chain reactions whose effects reach far beyond healing your gut. Guido Mase’s Urban Moonshine and David Winston’s Herbalist & Alchemist both carry great bitter selections... as do the Herb Girls! I can’t stress the importance of bitters enough! (( Plant insight: Wormwood, Artemisia absinthium, Dandelion Root (Taraxacum officinale), and Artichoke leaf (Cynara scolymus), and Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) are some classic and powerful bitters. Gentian (Gentiana lutea) is another classic bitter but I shy away from recommending it as it is in danger of being overharvested.))
2. Pop a DGL.
Deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) maintains all of licorice’s healing properties without its effect on blood-pressure. Licorice’s demulcent, soothing nature restores the mucosal lining of the stomach, reducing pain and inflammation. It is also strengthening to the immune and endocrine system and trophorestorative to the liver. These tasty, sweet, melt-in-your-mouth tablets can be taken as needed throughout the day. Substitute your antacids with DGL. They will bring the same relief with positive side-effects rather than negative ones. Planetary Herbs has a great DGL product.
(( Plant insight: The legume Glycyrrhiza glabra is a staple in traditional herbal medicine. This starchy root has a profound capacity to nourish the adrenals, often an underlying issue in many chronic stress relating disorders. It also nourishes and heals respiratory function and all sorts of gastrointestinal issues. ))
3. Get on the Manuka honey train.
Manuka honey is made from the blossoms of the Tea tree (Melaleuca alterniflora). Manuka honey is wildly delicious, antibacterial, and soothing to the entire respiratory and GI tract. Like licorice, it restores the mucus membrane and reduces pain and inflammation. ManukaGuard makes a product, Nutralize, that combines Manuka honey with raw apple cider vinegar. Taken before meals, this both heals the gut and stimulates digestive juices.
4. Consider Digestive Enzymes. You simply can’t break down food and absorb nutrients and minerals without sufficient enzymes. Gas, bloating, and mineral and vitamin deficiencies will be your fate without these crucial elements. Arthur Andrew Medical Divegest offers a potent yet gentle blend. It contains peptidase which breaks down gluten and casein, two common food irritants. Over time, if you work up your stomach acids and find the foods that your body was built to digest, you might not have to rely on these.
5. Protect your gut.
I can’t stress enough the importance of an intact and un-inflammed gut lining. This mucus membrane is your first line of protection from corrosive stomach acid and unwanted bacterial visitors. If this becomes eroded, all that good stomach acid can cause pain and bacteria can proliferate. Additionally, bad bacteria proliferate when the acidic pH raises to an alkaline state- herein lies the connection between long-term use of acid-inhibiting pills and stomach ulcers. LifeExtension’s CarnoSoothe both rebuilds the mucus membrane and provides protection from H. pylori bacteria, the cause of many stomach issues. The star plant Picrorhiza kurroa is a Himalayan herb used traditionally for rebuilding and protecting the stomach lining.
(( Plant insight: Herbs categorized as demulcents are critical for folks recovering from gut disorders. Demulcent herbs are soothing and nourishing to the mucus membranes of our entire GI tract, and facilitate smooth elimination. They include Marshmallow, Althea officinalis, Plantain (Plantago major), Licorice, and Slippery Elm (Ulmus fulva). However, Slippery Elm is in danger of being overharvested, so vie for the more renewable sources. ))
DISCLAIMER: This is all educational material and from personal experience. In more serious cases of severe reflux and/or esophageal damage, definitely consult with a physician before withdrawing from acid blockers or antacids. Be patient! Positive change wills come- it will just take a bit more effort. You can do it!
Why Stomach Acid is Good for You, Jonathon V. Wright, MD & Lane Lenard, PhD
Eileen Brantley & Amy Wright
We are Herb Girls Athens, LLC. Read our blog!
Currently we operate as an online business!