Monday, May 18, 2009

Tea Time!

The news is out--antioxidants are in. And there's no easier source for antioxidants than tea. For centuries, Asian peoples have known about the many health benefits of drinking tea. Only recently has this knowledge become commonplace in North America. Some studies suggest that green and black teas have 10 times the level of antioxidants of fruits and vegetables!

Studies show that the antioxidants in black and green teas are highly beneficial to our health, says 82-year-old John Weisburger, PhD, senior researcher at the Institute for Cancer Prevention in Valhalla, N.Y.

"I've published more than 500 papers, including a hell of a lot on tea," says Weisburger, who drinks 10 cups daily. "I was the first American researcher to show that tea modifies the metabolism to detoxify harmful chemicals."

All true teas come from the same plant: Camellia sinensis. The differences between black (ceylon), green, and oolong teas is simply in the way they are processed. Green tea is minimally processed--generally just dried, then crushed. Oolong and black teas are crushed and fermented to create their flavors. There are no health distinctions between the types of teas. All are equally effective.

The primary antioxidants present in teas are polyphenols and flavanoids. These antioxidants are fantastic little molecules that work through your body and purge cells of free radicals--nasty damage-causing molecules that find their way into your body via smog, pollution, poor diet, and other means, that accelerate the body's aging process and hinder it's ability to fend-off illness. Antioxidants also help to provide protection from future damage from free radicals.

In studies, simple tea consumption has been shown to prevent and protect the human body from blood clot formation, cancer, atherosclerosis, heart disease, and stroke. It has also been shown to slow the body's aging process, lower total and LDL cholesterol (the "bad" cholesterol), speed up metabolism to aid weight loss, slow down the growth of tumors, protect bones, prevent bad breath, improve skin, aid allergies, protect against Parkinson's disease, slow down the onset of diabetes, and may even prevent certain types of cancer.

So, bottoms up! Drink it hot or cold, regular or decaf--but drink it, nonetheless! Regular tea consumption may be the best thing you've ever done for you body.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Herbal Insect Repellent

Good news! The FDA and EPA recently approved Eucalyptus oil for use as an insect repellent. This means you can finally put an end to stinky, harmful, chemical insect repellents of the past.

Eucalyptus oil, also known as p-menthane 3,8-diol or PMD, has been shown in studies to have similar repellent properties to that of DEET. While DEET has proven irritant to some and is not recommended for children due to it's toxicity, Eucalyptus oil can be used on children over 3 and has shown no adverse reactions other than mild eye irritation (if product gets in eyes). Commercial mixtures are often mixed with other natural ingredients such as citronella, rosemary oil, and camphor, creating a pleasant, skin-soothing fragrance.

Eucalyptus oil offers protection from mosquitoes, biting flies, gnats, and even ticks, and therefore may help reduce the risk of contracting West Nile Virus, Malaria, and Lyme Disease. In studies, a repellent made with 30% Lemon Eucalyptus oil protects about the same as repellents containing 10%-15% DEET. One recent study showed the following results:

  • Mixture made with 4.75% DEET – 88.4 minutes protection time
  • Mixture made with 30% Lemon Eucalyptus Oil - 120.1 minutes protection time
  • Mixture made with 23.8% DEET – 301.5 minutes protection time

When applying insect repellents to children, avoid applying the repellent to their hands (in case they rub their eyes or mouths), around their eyes, or to any areas where there are cuts or irritated skin. Use only the amount needed to cover exposed skin. Heavy application and saturation generally are unnecessary for effectiveness.