By now you may have heard the good news: that regular use of bitters is one of the very best ways you can support digestive health. Among a laundry list of other benefits, tasting something bitter promotes digestive secretions which helps us break down and assimilate our food efficiently and effectively. Hydrochloric acid (aka stomach acid or HCl) is one of these secretions. And there are plenty of reasons why you want adequate levels of it around before you sit down for your next meal.
HCl is a bit of a superstar, really, when it comes to digestion. The highly acidic secretion’s jobs include killing unwanted bacteria, helping liberate vitamin B12 from food for absorption, and breaking down protein. All of these are indispensable to our well-being. Keep in mind, also, that sufficient protein breakdown isn’t just about ensuring proper assimilation of this critical building block. It’s about preventing gas formation, too!
Beyond these functions, HCl is required for keeping the gastro-esophageal sphincter (the valve separating your stomach from your esophagus) closed. Why is this important? Because a closed valve prevents your stomach’s contents from climbing up into your esophagus, which is a frequent cause for heartburn. So while the common approach in this instance is to take something that lowers stomach acid, it’s quite possible that doing so would actually be a disservice in the long run. In the case of occasional heartburn, consider supporting adequate secretion of HCl instead. For this, some people find taking bitters before a meal works well, while others find that a few drops after meals is best.
Given all we know about HCl alone, bringing bitters to the table might be exactly what your body wants. As we like to […]
Staying Healthy With Herbs by Eating Them at Every Meal
Alas, we are headed full steam ahead into summer, the time of bounty! Our local farmers markets and grocery stores are filling out with fresh, seasonal produce—and if we’re lucky to have gardens they are, too. When fresh fruits and veggies abound, it’s easy to include lots of them into our diets and lifestyles—making the warmer months a perfect time to jump-start our health with nutrient dense food. It’s also the time of year to take advantage of fresh herbs, whose delicious and aromatic attributes are not only a flavor boon but a major health boon as well.
To get you inspired for an herb-infused summer, we’re sharing a few of our favorite recipes. Enjoy!
Fresh Strawberry Rhubarb Rose Syrup
1 cup chopped rhubarb
½ cup honey
½ cup cane sugar
½ cup lightly packed fresh rose petals (¼ cup if using dried)
¾ cup strawberries
Combine the first four ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Let rest and after 5 minutes has passed, mix again crushing the rhubarb a bit as you mix. Continue this pattern, mixing and crushing every 20 minutes for an hour.
While the rhubarb mixture is sitting, stem the strawberries. Using a blender or mortar and pestle crush the strawberries until well liquified. You are trying to yield a little over ¼ cup of blended strawberries.
At the end of the hour, strain the rhubarb mixture. Add the blended strawberries to the resulting rhubarb liquid and stir well. If sugar granules remain, continue stirring or transfer to a jar and shake until they dissolve.
What makes this syrup […]
We have learned a lot about allergies and hypersensitivity over the last thirty years. In some cases, an allergy can be a life-threatening challenge (think of peanut or bee sting allergies). But for most of us, sensitivity to pollen, dust, or other common irritants is a source of inconvenience: we experience itchy eyes, runny nose, fatigue and headache, and sometimes even difficulty breathing. Complications from allergy include sinus infections and potentially asthmatic reactions. Why do we experience these symptoms? What mechanisms are involved in our bodies and tissues? The answers to these questions shed new light on the allergic response, and what we can do to address it.
One of the recent ideas is termed the “hygiene hypothesis”. The basic concept is that our immune system learns how to behave by testing its response against a variety of microbes, viruses, and infections – particularly during childhood. With the increased prevalence of basic hygiene and antibacterial cleansers, our immune system is left wondering what to do, and may respond with an increase in hypersensitivity: allergy, asthma and autoimmune disease.
This hypothesis relies on a few basic concepts in immunology: first, our immune systems (responsible for coordinating all inflammation, including the inflammation involved in allergy) are keyed to recognizing a wide range of different molecular “flags” from the outside and inside worlds. These flags are made of sugar, fat and protein chains that are relative […]
Kava, Passionflower, California Poppy, Hops
Sleep latency: This term refers to the delay between getting into bed and actually falling asleep. The most common way to address this is with sedatives: from prescriptions such as valium or narcotics, to supplements like GABA that “turn off” brain function or address neurotransmitters like serotonin, even to classics like alcohol. The problem with relying only on sedatives is that they inevitably wear off (some sooner than others), and can often lead to dependence. And while they work on the mind, they often neglect relaxing the body. We use a little hops, but it has the smallest share of the formula, just to help support normal sleep latency without sedating or leaving you feeling groggy.
Sleep maintenance: Often, falling asleep isn’t the problem. Sleep can also be disrupted by waking up way too early – difficulty with sleep maintenance. We all can experience this occasionally: them mind goes around in circles, and restlessness follows – sometimes at 1am, 2am, 3am. Very few conventional sleep aids help with this; the strategy instead is just to use a long-acting sedative that knocks you out for eight hours. Other options, especially if the body’s sun-based sleep-wake rhythm is disturbed (like in jetlag, or for night-shift workers), include remedies like melatonin: this hormone can help reset our body clock and improve sleep maintenance if we’re out of sync with the sun. But there are also excellent herbs that help maintain normal, deep sleep throughout the night: California poppy is one of the best, which […]