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12 Healthy Snack Ideas & Recipes That Are Easy to Make

low carb low sugar avocados veggies chickpeas tomatoes healthy snack ideas

The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that between 2005-2010, the average American consumed 13% of daily calories from added sugar. World Health Organization guidelines recommend that adults limit their intake of added sugars and those found in honey and fruit juices to below 5% of total calories or approximately 6 teaspoons per day.

Research has linked excess sugar consumption to the epidemic of obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney disease and cardiovascular disease. Refined carbohydrates, which breaks down into sugar in the digestive tract, also contributes to the problem.

One simple way to cut down on empty calories from sugar and refined carbohydrates is to choose healthier snacks and cut out sweet drinks. See below for ideas and recipes for healthier sweet treats and savory snacks.

Sugar, Carbs & Weight Gain

When you eat foods high in sugar or refined carbohydrates, your blood sugar rises. Since sustained high blood sugar is dangerous, your pancreas produces the hormone insulin to promote the absorption of blood glucose into the cells.

Any sugar that is not quickly used as energy or stored in the muscles is stored in fat cells. As long as insulin is circulating, the fat cells remain essentially ‘locked’ and do not release fat for use as energy.

Most processed snack foods are high in refined carbohydrates, sugar or both. If you eat foods like corn chips, cookies or candy bars between meals, not only are you taking in empty calories, you’re also ensuring that your insulin levels remain high.

This means that most of the calories you take in will be stored as fat and the fat already stored in your cells won’t be burned off. Over time, especially when combined with a sedentary lifestyle, consuming processed snack foods can easily lead to weight gain.

Sugar, Carbs & Disease

A high intake of sugar and carbohydrates combined with low levels of activity can cause insulin levels to remain high over a prolonged period of time. When this happens, the cells become less sensitive to insulin, requiring ever higher levels of the hormone to absorb glucose.

Insulin resistance leads to pre-diabetes, where blood sugar levels are raised. Pre-diabetes can be reversed but if left untreated, it can eventually lead to type 2 diabetes, in which blood sugar levels become dangerously high.

Research has shown that increased carbohydrate and sugar consumption is associated with lower HDL ‘good’ cholesterol levels, higher triglyceride levels, and higher LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol levels. Studies have also shown that higher sugar intake results in raised blood pressure. High cholesterol and blood pressure are both risk factors for heart disease.

A 15-year study published in JAMA Internal Medicine investigated the link between sugar and heart disease. It found that US adults who took in 25% of their daily calories from added sugar were more than twice as likely to die from heart disease than those who got less than 10% of their calories from sugar. The odds of a participant dying from heart disease rose along with the percentage of sugar in their diet regardless of age, sex, physical activity level or body weight.

Tips for Healthy Snacking

  • Don’t buy processed snack foods or keep them in your cupboard or desk drawer.
  • Do keep healthy snacks on hand to reach for when hunger and sugar cravings strikes.
  • If you often have cravings for specific types of unhealthy snacks, find low-sugar, low carb foods that will satisfy those cravings.
  • Choose snack foods that add nutrients to your diet, not just empty calories. For example, nuts are a good source of fiber and minerals, dairy products good source of calcium, berries are full of antioxidants, eggs are rich in protein and vitamins.

Quick Snack Ideas

  • Celery sticks or apples and peanut butter, almond butter or hummus
  • Half a tomato filled with tuna and organic mayonnaise
  • Organic cream cheese rolled into salmon slices
  • Fresh bell peppers and homemade guacamole
  • Unsweetened yogurt mixed with strawberries, blueberries or blackberries
  • 1-2 teaspoons of raw organic honey over organic plain yogurt or greek yogurt
  • Organic trail mix
  • Organic air-popped popcorn lightly seasoned with freshly grounded peppercorns and himalayan salt
  • Low-fat cottage cheese or other cheeses with fresh fruits
  • Dark chocolate with at least 50-80% cocoa
  • Lightly salted edamame
  • Hard boiled eggs

Savory Snack Recipes

1. Spicy Mixed Nuts

spicy mixed nuts pecans walnut cashew healthy snacks


  • 3 cups of any combination of raw almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, walnuts or macadamia nuts
  • 1 tablespoon melted coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon hot smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  1. Line a baking tray with foil or use a silicon baking tray.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C).
  3. Mix the seasonings together in a small bowl.
  4. Spread the nuts on the baking tray and pour the oil over and stir to coat.
  5. Sprinkle the seasoning mix over the nuts and stir until they are evenly coated.
  6. Bake for 6 minutes, then stir the nuts and rotate the pan.
  7. Bake for another 6 minutes, then remove the pan and do a taste test. It should be toasted and crunchy. If still raw, return the pan to the oven for a couple of minutes and taste again.
  8. When the nuts are done, allow them to cool, then transfer them to an airtight container.


  • Nuts can quickly go from roasted to burnt, so keep an eye on the oven.
  • Experiment with different spice blends to create your favorite flavors.


2. Crudités with Crab Dip

crab dip crudites tomatoes celery carrots healthy snacks idea


  • 1 can shredded crab meat
  • 2 cups non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup fat-free of low-fat mayonnaise
  • sprinkle of Paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of Old Bay seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon juice
  • Your choice of low carb (non-root) vegetables such as celery, cucumber, mushrooms, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower or jicama


  1. Cut the raw vegetables into batons or dipping-size pieces.
  2. In a bowl, mix the Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, Old Bay seasoning, lemon juice, and paprika.
  3. Drain the crab meat and mix into the dip.
  4. Transfer the spread to a small bowl and serve with the crudités


  • Spoon the spread onto cucumber slices, celery sticks or pepper halves.
  • You can also make this spread with baby shrimp.


3. Mini Stuffed Peppers

mini stuffed peppers cheese spinach brown rice healthy snacks ideas


  • 12 mini bell peppers
  • 1 cup of brown rice
  • 2 cups of spinach
  • 1 cup of marinara sauce
  • 3/4 cups of low fat shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon of freshly grounded black pepper
  • Cayenne pepper (optional)


  1. Cook brown rice.
  2. Cut bell-peppers lengthwise and scoop out the core.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  4. In a skillet, mix in rice, chopped spinach, marinara sauce, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper. Cook until spinach is fully cooked. Mix in mozzarella cheese and simmer until cheese is melted.
  5. Stuff peppers with rice mix and top each pepper with a pinch of mozzarella cheese.
  6. Place peppers on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes or until peppers are soft.


  • You can add cooked chicken breast for some protein
  • Try adding fresh herbs such as oregano, cilantro, thyme or basil


4. Roasted Brussels Sprouts 

roasted brussels sprouts salt pepper ham healthy snack ideas


  • 2 dozen small brussels sprouts
  • 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of freshly grounded black pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Cut off ends of brussels sprouts, then cut each sprout in half.
  3. In a bowl, mix all ingredients together.
  4. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, cut side down.
  5. Bake for 40 minutes or until crispy.


  • Try adding small bits of low-sodium and lean ham and sliced onions if you cannot handle brussels sprouts on its own


5. Roasted Kale Chips

roasted kale chips salt pepper vegan cheese turmeric healthy snack ideas


  • 1 bunch of fresh kale
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of freshly grounded black pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
  2. Cut off thick stems from kale and rip into bite size pieces.
  3. In a bowl, mix all the ingredients together.
  4. Arrange a single layer of the mixed kale onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes or until crispy.


  • Add some vegan cheese, turmeric or any of your favorite spices.


6. Roasted Cauliflower

parmesan roasted cauliflower cheese healthy snack ideas


  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of freshly grounded black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Cut the cauliflower into bite size pieces.
  3. In a bowl, mix the cauliflower, salt, olive oil, black pepper and garlic powder together.
  4. Arrange in a single layer onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and roast for 40 minutes or until cauliflower is tender.


7. Turkey Spinach Roll-ups 

turkey spinach roll up wrap healthy snack ideas


  • 3 ounces of sliced deli turkey
  • 1 cup of fresh baby spinach or basil leaves
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 2 teaspoons of honey mustard sauce
  • 1 medium size sweet peppers
  • 4 fat-free or low-fat string cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Spread the honey mustard evenly over the turkey slices.
  2. Divide the spinach or basil leaves evenly on each turkey slice.
  3. Cut and deseed the sweet pepper into thin strips. Place the strips over the spinach or basil leaves.
  4. Cut each string cheese into 4 strips, lengthwise and place on top of the peppers.
  5. Roll up each turkey slice from the edge and cut in half.


  • These can be prepared in advance and stored in an airtight container in the fridge for a convenient finger-food snack.
  • Use lettuce leaves instead of bread. Roll turkey into lettuce to make lettuce wraps.


8. Mini Quiches

mini quiches eggs zucchini carrots cheese healthy snack ideas


  • 4 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup of grated zucchini (packed)
  • 3/4 cup of grated carrots (packed)
  • 6 ounces of fresh baby spinach leaves, chopped
  • 2 green shallots, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup of grated cheddar cheese (or any cheese)
  • 2 teaspoons of your choice of  oil (coconut, olive, etc)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Grease 2 mini cupcake pans (24 holes total).
  3. In a skillet, cook grated zucchini, carrots and shallots until veggies are tender. Add in spinach and cook until greens are wilted. Remove from heat and let mix cool to room temperature.
  4. In a bowl whisk the eggs, then add the room temperature cooked veggies, cheese, and salt.
  5. Evenly distribute mix into muffin pan (making sure the egg is evenly distributed).
  6. Bake for 16-18 minutes or until top slightly browns. Allow the mini quiches to cool down before removing them from the tin.


  • You can use any sort of grated hard cheese in these and any ingredients you would commonly find in quiche such as cooked and chopped ham, turkey sausage, mushrooms or broccoli.
  • The quiches can be kept in the refrigerator and eaten cold or reheated.


9. Zucchini Chips

zucchini chips roasted baked natural healthy snack ideas


  • 1 large zucchini
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Cut the zucchini into thin, round slices using a mandolin or a food processor with a slicing attachment.
  3. Spread out the slices on a plate and sprinkle them with salt. Leave the zucchini slices for 10 minutes while the salt works its way in to draw out excess moisture.
  4. Blot the zucchini slices with paper towels to absorb the excess liquid.
  5. Put the zucchini in a bowl with the olive oil and toss to coat.
  6. Spread the slices on a parchment-lined metal tray.
  7. Roast for 10 minutes or until golden brown on top, then flip with a spatula.
  8. Roast for another 10 minutes or so, until crispy.


  • Cooking time will vary depending on the thickness of the slices. Be sure the zucchini is evenly sliced and keep checking the oven to avoid burning.


Sweet Treat Recipes

10. Blueberry Muffins

blueberry muffins applesauce healthy snack ideas


  • 1 ⅓ cups plain yogurt
  • 3 ½ cups ground almonds (or almond flour)
  • 6 medium eggs
  • ½ cup fresh or defrosted blueberries
  • 4 tablespoons of unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tablespoons stevia granulated sweetener
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line a muffin tray with paper cups.
  3. Put the yogurt, eggs, butter, applesauce and vanilla into a mixing jug and blend with an electric mixer.
  4. Then add the stevia, baking powder, and almonds and mix until smooth.
  5. Fold in the blueberries.
  6. Pour equal amounts into each muffin cup.
  7. Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until golden brown.


  • This basic muffin recipe will also work with raspberries or chopped nuts.
  • You can replace all the butter for unsweetened applesauce (1:1 ratio), if you don’t mind a denser and more moist muffin.
  • The muffins can be refrigerated in an airtight container for a convenient breakfast or snack.


11. Chocolate Mug Cake

chocolate mug cake healthy snack ideas


  • 2 tablespoons coconut flour
  • 1 tablespoons stevia granulated sweetener
  • 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder (or 1 tablespoon for a darker and richer taste)
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk (or 2 1/2 tablespoons if using 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder)
  • 1/8 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt


  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, coconut oil and vanilla.
  2. Then whisk in flour, sweetener, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt.
  3. Pour into a large coffee mug that has been sprayed with cooking oil spray.
  4. Microwave for approximately 40 seconds, on high. If it is still a little underdone, cook for another 10 seconds. The cake will continue to cook once it is removed from the microwave.


  • The exact cooking time will depend on your microwave and your preferences.
  • Try adding nuts, coconut or peanut butter.
  • For an oven-baked version – preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 1/2 cup ramekin with cooking oil spray. Cook for around 15 minutes. Toothpick should come out clean. For a more moist cake, cook for about 11 minutes. Toothpick should come out slightly dirty (not with a lot of cake batter).


12. Cinnamon Pecan Breakfast Bars

cinnamon pecan bars applesauce healthy snack ideas


  • 1¼ cup almond flour
  • 3 tablespoons coconut flour
  • 1 room-temperature egg
  • ½ cup stevia granulated sweetener
  • ½ cup roughly chopped pecans
  • ¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1½ teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C).
  2. Using an electric mixer, cream together the applesauce and stevia. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until smooth.
  3. Add the almond flour, coconut flour, cinnamon, salt and baking soda and mix to thoroughly combine.
  4. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the chopped pecans.
  5. Spread the mixture into a square or rectangular silicon baking dish or a buttered glass baking dish.
  6. Bake for approximately 12-15 minutes until golden.
  7. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before cutting into bars.

Tip: These are best served warm, but are still good when stored in the refrigerator and eaten cold.


Final Word

Eating a variety of healthy homemade snacks is a natural way to increase your intake of vitamins, minerals, protein, healthy fats, fiber and antioxidants. However, if you need to watch your weight, be careful with portion sizes. Eat just enough to satisfy your hunger and keep you going until the next meal.

7 Health Benefits of Turmeric Root & Curcumin Powder

turmeric curcumin yellow orange spice powder root natural health benefits remedies

Turmeric is a popular yellow spice used in Indian and other Asian dishes and is also used in traditional Indian medicines to treat a variety of disorders. It is the most studied herb there is and has thousands of studies to back it up.

Turmeric contains active polyphenols called curcuminoids. One of these compounds, curcumin, is the active ingredient in turmeric. It has demonstrated antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral and anticancer activities in laboratory tests.

A 2014 review article published in Cancer Research and Treatment notes that over 100 clinical studies have been carried out with curcumin. Extensive research has shown that it plays a vital role in the prevention and treatment of several chronic inflammatory diseases including pulmonary, cardiovascular, metabolic, neurodegenerative and autoimmune disorders.

Turmeric Spice vs. Turmeric Curcumin Supplements

Turmeric spice powder sold for cooking is ground dried turmeric root. It contains about 3% curcumin by weight. Most turmeric supplements are made with a combination of turmeric root and concentrated turmeric extract. Turmeric extract contains about 95% curcumin. The more turmeric extract contained in a supplement, the higher its curcumin content.

A supplement capsule containing half a gram of turmeric extract could provide around 400 mg of curcumin, whereas half a gram of turmeric spice powder would give you only 15 mg of curcumin.

Clinical trials have shown health benefits with doses of curcumin ranging from 200-1,200 mg per day. It’s unlikely you could obtain this amount simply by adding turmeric spice to your food. That said, the fact that diseases such as cancer are much less prevalent in parts of Asia where turmeric is part of the daily diet supports the concept that even very small doses of curcumin could be beneficial.



Curcumin is poorly absorbed, so simply eating turmeric in normal quantities will not provide you with the full range of health benefits. Fortunately, there is a natural way to boost the bioavailability of curcumin.

Piperine, a major component of black pepper, inhibits the metabolism of curcumin in the liver and intestine, allowing far greater quantities to enter the bloodstream.

A study published in Planta Medica investigated the influence of piperine on the bioavailability of curcumin in healthy human volunteers. After participants took a 2 gram dose of curcumin, blood levels of the substance were either undetectable or very low. When they took the curcumin along with 20 mg of piperine, blood concentrations of curcumin were much higher. Bioavailability of curcumin increased by 2,000% one hour after consuming it with piperine.

Curcumin supplements containing piperine are widely available. Scientists are currently developing various other types of formulations to increase the bioavailability of curcumin. One type currently marketed in the US is nanocurcumin. These supplements contain curcumin with a much smaller particle size, making it more easily absorbed into the body’s cells.

7 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Turmeric & Curcumin

1. Asthma & Allergies

asthma allergies airway constriction breathing tight chest turmeric curcumin health benefits remedies

The symptoms of asthma and allergic rhinitis (hay fever or seasonal allergies) occur when inflammation constricts airways.

Research on mice has shown that curcumin inhibits the signals of a group of receptors which play an important role in allergic airway inflammation. Another study found that curcumin prevented structural alterations in the airways associated with chronic asthma such as smooth muscle thickening and mucus secretion.

A study published in the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research evaluated the efficacy of curcumin as an add-on therapy for asthma patients. A total of 60 adults with mild-to-moderate bronchial asthma were randomized into 2 groups. One group received standard asthma medications and the other group received standard asthma medications plus a daily 500 mg curcumin capsule.

Patients’ symptoms and the results of pulmonary function tests were assessed at the start of the study and at 3 consecutive visits to the clinic over the course of 30 days. Both groups showed a similar reduction in asthma symptoms, however, the curcumin group had a significantly greater improvement in Forced Expiratory Volume (FEV1), a common test for airway obstruction.

A pilot study published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology investigated the effects of curcumin on nasal symptoms in patients with seasonal allergies. Researchers randomized 241 patients with allergic rhinitis to receive either a placebo or curcumin supplements for 2 months. Nasal symptoms, nasal airflow resistance and markers of inflammation were assessed before and after the trial.

Curcumin alleviated symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose and nasal congestion through reduction of nasal airflow resistance. The researchers also found that curcumin modulated the immune response to allergens by increasing the production of anti-inflammatory proteins.

2. Depression

depression anxiety alone sad depressed dark turmeric curcumin natural remedies health benefits

Three neurotransmitters in the brain, known as monoamines, are thought to regulate mood: serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine.

Monoamine oxidase (MAO) is an enzyme that weakens these neurotransmitters. A class of anti-depressant drugs called monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) reduce the activity of the enzyme MAO. This increases levels of monoamines, which leads to improved mood.

Research on rodent behavior and rodent brains has shown that curcumin inhibits the activity of MAO enzymes in the same way as MAOI drugs, which leads to a decrease in depressive-like symptoms.

A trial published in the Journal of Affective Disorders tested the use of curcumin for the treatment of depression in humans. A total of 56 patients with major depressive disorder were randomized to receive either 500 mg curcumin twice daily or a placebo for 8 weeks.

Severity of depression was assessed using the Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology at the beginning of the trial and at 4 and 8 weeks. From weeks 4-8, curcumin was significantly more effective than the placebo in improving several mood-related symptoms.

A trial published in Phytotherapy Research compared the efficacy of curcumin with fluoxetine (Prozac) in patients with major depressive disorder. Fluoxetine is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) medication often prescribed for the treatment of clinical depression. A total of 60 patients with major depressive disorder were randomized into 3 groups. One group took 20 mg of fluoxetine, one group took 1 gram of curcumin and the third group took both fluoxetine and curcumin.

The severity of patients’ depression was assessed using the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale before and after 6 weeks of treatment. In the combination group, 78% of patients responded to treatment compared to 65% in the fluoxetine group and 63% in the curcumin group. The average improvement in depression scores was comparable in all 3 groups.

3. Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimers disease dementia forgetful memory brain disorder elderly natural remedies turmeric curcimun health benefits

Alzheimer’s disease degrades neurons in the brain through a process involving inflammation, oxidative damage and the formation of beta-amyloid plaques.

Curcumin has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It also appears to boost the ability of the immune system to destroy beta-amyloid proteins. Large scale human studies have yet to prove the efficacy of turmeric or curcumin for treating Alzheimer’s disease but individual case studies are promising.

Research has shown that the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease among adults aged 70-79 is 4.4 times lower in India than in the United States, where turmeric is frequently consumed.

A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology examined the association between curry consumption and cognitive function in the elderly. Researchers administered the Mini-Mental State Examination (a standard diagnostic test for cognitive function and dementia) to a cohort of 1,010 Asians aged 60–93. The participants were also asked about their frequency of curry consumption. Those who ate curry occasionally (less than once a month) and often (more than once a month) performed significantly better on the MMSE than those who never or rarely ate curry. The difference was equivalent to a 10-year age-incremental effect.

A laboratory study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease investigated whether curcumin could help macrophages clear amyloid plaques. Macrophages are specialized cells of the immune system involved in the detection and destruction of foreign proteins. Researchers tested macrophages from the blood of 6 Alzheimer’s disease patients and 3 healthy controls. They found that amyloid-beta uptake was significantly lower in the macrophages from the Alzheimer’s group. When they treated the macrophages with curcuminoids, amyloid-beta uptake by macrophages of 3 of the 6 Alzheimer’s patients significantly increased.

Three case studies of Alzheimer’s patients at Kariya Toyota General Hospital in Japan describe how turmeric treatment improved the behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia. Two female and one male patient aged 79-84 with severe Alzheimer’s symptoms were given 764 mg turmeric supplements. The patients were evaluated before and after treatment using a neuro-psychiatric questionnaire.

After 12 weeks, total symptom scores decreased significantly. Turmeric was found to be effective for the treatment of delusions, hallucinations, apathy, agitation, anxiety, irritability, and depression.

All 3 patients continued to take turmeric and, after one year, they were able to recognize family members and distinguish them from hospital staff. They all became calmer and were less of a burden on their caregivers.

4. Arthritis

arthritis inflammation pain joints bones swelling aches natural remedies turmeric curcumin health benefits

 Since turmeric is known to reduce pain and inflammation, it’s not surprising that it’s often used as a complementary therapy for both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Research on rodents has shown that turmeric inhibits joint inflammation and joint destruction by altering the expression of genes that regulate these processes.

A study published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research compared curcumin with the anti-inflammatory drug phenylbutazone for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Researchers randomized 18 rheumatoid arthritis patients to receive either 300 mg of phenylbutazone or 1,200 mg of curcumin per day. After 2 weeks, both groups showed significant improvement in morning stiffness, joint swelling and walking time.

An Italian study evaluated the efficacy of a complementary arthritis treatment. The supplement combined curcumin with lecithin (a fatty substance derived from soybeans) for increased stability and better absorption. A total of 50 osteoarthritis patients were randomized to receive either standard treatment or standard treatment plus 200 mg of curcumin per day for 3 months.

Patients’ symptoms were assessed before and after treatment on the WOMAC Osteoarthritis Index. Mobility was determined by performance on a treadmill and inflammatory status was measured with a blood test.

The average WOMAC score in the curcumin group decreased by 58%, compared to only 2% in the control group. The distance that patients could walk on a treadmill without pain increased by 336% in curcumin group, but only 31% in the control group. Decrease in markers of inflammation was significantly greater in the curcumin group.

Use of anti-inflammatory drugs decreased by 63% in the curcumin group compared to 13% in the controls. The curcumin group also had significant decreases in gastrointestinal complications, hospital admissions and total treatment costs.

A pilot study published in Phytotherapy Research compared the efficacy of curcumin to the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug diclofenac sodium (Voltaren) for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. A total of 45 patients were randomized into 3 groups. One group received 500 mg of curcumin per day, another received 50 mg of diclofenac sodium and a third received a combination of curcumin and diclofenac sodium.

Before and after 8 weeks of treatment, patients were given a disease activity score (DAS) based on an examination of 28 joints, a blood test and a pain consultation.

DAS scores significantly improved in all 3 treatment groups. Interestingly, curcumin alone was equally effective to curcumin plus diclofenac sodium. Both of the curcumin groups reduced disease activity by 44% compared to 42% for diclofenac sodium.

All 3 groups also had a significant decrease in pain scores, but curcumin was the most effective pain treatment. Pain decreased by 60% in the curcumin group compared to 56% in the curcumin plus diclofenac sodium group and 50% in the diclofenac sodium group.

5. Heart Disease

heart cardiovascular disease inflammation pain attack stroke turmeric curcumin natural remedies health benefits

The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of curcumin could help protect against cardiovascular disease. The endothelium is a layer of cells that line the arteries and allows them to dilate or constrict to provide sufficient blood flow to the heart.

Curcumin has been shown to improve endothelial function. Endothelial dysfunction is a predictor of future cardiovascular disease. It also lowers cholesterol and protects against the development of arterial plaque.

A rodent study published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research examined the effect of curcumin on atherosclerosis and its underlying mechanisms. Mice with a genetic predisposition to develop high cholesterol and atherosclerosis were randomized into 3 groups. One group was treated with curcumin, another with statin drug lovastatin, and a control group received no treatment.

After 18 weeks, curcumin and lovastatin treatment had a similar protective effect against atherosclerosis. Both treatments reduced atherosclerotic lesions and fatty deposits in the aortic artery. Curcumin and lovastatin also showed a similar cholesterol-lowering effect, reducing total cholesterol, triglycerides and LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol while increasing HDL ‘good’ cholesterol.

A study published in Phytotherapy Research tested the effects of curcumin extract in patients with metabolic syndrome. A total of 65 patients were randomized to receive either 630 mg of curcumin extract capsules or placebo capsules 3 times a day for 12 weeks.

HDL ‘good’ cholesterol significantly increased in the curcumin group, whereas LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol and triglycerides were significantly reduced. There were no significant changes in the placebo group.

A study published in Nutrition Research investigated the effects of curcumin and aerobic exercise on endothelial function. A total of 32 postmenopausal women were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 groups. One group took curcumin supplements, another group did moderate aerobic exercise training, and a control group had no intervention.

At the start and end of the study, the participants were tested for flow-mediated dilation. In this procedure, ultrasound is used to measure how much the brachial artery dilates in response to an increase in blood flow.

After 8 weeks, flow-mediated dilation increased significantly and equally in the exercise and curcumin groups. No changes were observed in the control group. The researchers suggest that curcumin ingestion could potentially improve the age-related decline in endothelial function.

A study published in the American Journal of Cardiology examined the effects of curcumin on frequency of heart attacks after coronary artery bypass surgery. A total of 121 patients undergoing coronary artery bypass grafting were randomized to receive either a placebo or 4 grams of curcuminoids per day starting 3 days before scheduled surgery and continuing until 5 days after surgery.

Incidence of in-hospital myocardial infarction (heart attacks) decreased from 30% in the placebo group to 13% in the curcuminoid group. Blood markers for inflammation and oxidative stress were also lower in the curcuminoid group.

6. Colorectal Cancer

colorectal colon rectal cancer natural remedies turmeric curcumin health benefits

According to researchers at the National Cancer Institute, rates of colorectal cancer are approximately 10 times higher in the United States than in India, where turmeric is widely consumed on a daily basis.

Experimental studies have shown that curcumin can suppress proliferation of a wide variety of tumor cells. It also blocks the activity of nuclear factor kappa-B, a protein associated with cancer cell growth.

Laboratory research have demonstrated that turmeric and curcumin inhibits the growth of 19 clinical strains of Helicobacter pylori, a carcinogenic bacterium linked to the development of colon cancer.

A clinical trial published in Cancer Prevention Research assessed the effects of curcumin in smokers at risk for colorectal cancer. Researchers recruited 41 patients with 8 or more aberrant crypt foci (ACF) discovered during a screening colonoscopy. ACF are clusters of abnormal glands in the lining of the colon and rectum and are one of the earliest changes that may lead to cancer.

Half of the patients took 2 grams of curcumin supplements a day and half took double the dose at 4 grams per day. After 30 days, the participants underwent another colonoscopy. ACF was not significantly reduced in the 2-gram group. However, in the group who took 4 grams of curcumin, ACF decreased by 40%.

7. Type 2 Diabetes

diabetes insulin blood sugar fat fried foods natural remedies turmeric curcumin health benefits

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the pancreatic beta cells are unable to produce enough insulin, or when cells become insulin resistant, causing blood sugar to rise to dangerous levels.

Curcumin can help to control several processes involved in the development and progression of insulin resistance and high blood sugar. 

A review of studies on the anti-hyperglycemic and insulin sensitizer effects of turmeric concluded that curcumin can lower blood sugar levels by reducing the production of glucose in the liver and increasing the expression of genes involved in glucose uptake. It also improves pancreatic cell function and stimulates insulin secretion. 

A study published in Molecular Nutrition and Food Research investigated whether curcumin has beneficial effects on patients with type 2 diabetes. A total of 100 overweight or obese type 2 diabetes patients were randomly assigned to receive either 300 mg of curcuminoids per day or a placebo for 3 months. Curcuminoids supplementation significantly decreased fasting blood sugar and indicators of insulin resistance.

A trial published in Diabetes Care assessed the efficacy of curcumin in delaying development of type 2 diabetes in the pre-diabetic population. A total of 240 patients diagnosed with pre-diabetes were randomized to receive either six 250 mg of curcumin capsules a day or placebo capsules. The patients also received diet and lifestyle training.

After 9 months of treatment, none of the patients in the curcumin group had developed type 2 diabetes, compared with 16% of patients in the placebo group. In addition, the curcumin-treated group showed less insulin resistance and a better overall function of beta cells that release the hormone insulin. Their blood tests also revealed higher levels of anti-inflammatory proteins.

An Iranian clinical trial examined the effect of curcumin on patients with type 2 diabetes. Researchers randomized 70 diabetic patients into 2 groups. One group received a nanocurcumin supplement (shown to have higher bioavailability than ordinary curcumin powder). The other group received a placebo supplement.

Blood sugar and cholesterol levels were checked before and after the intervention. After 3 months, patients in the curcumin group had a significant decrease in blood sugar levels, fasting blood glucose, LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol and body mass index.

Final Word

Clinical trials using curcumin for disease prevention or treatment use supplements with much more of the substance than you would get from simply adding turmeric to your meals.

If you have a condition associated with chronic inflammation, try a turmeric supplement containing at least 700 mg of active curcuminoids. Make sure it is formulated to boost absorption.

If you cook curry on a regular basis, you can increase the bioavailability of curcumin from your food by premixing pepper into your turmeric powder. Use about 1 teaspoon of ground black pepper in 1/2 cup of turmeric.

7 Best Natural Home Remedies & Spot Treatments for Acne (Pimples)

acne pimples hormones red swollen painful bump pus natural remedies

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, acne is the most common skin condition in the US, affecting up to 50 million Americans every year. Approximately 85% of people aged 12-24 experience at least minor acne.

Over-the-counter commercial acne treatments does not always work and can cause further skin irritation. Prescription acne treatments often contain antibiotics and can lead to antibiotic resistance.

A study of 468 acne patients who were treated with antibiotics found that 178 participants carried resistant strains of one or more bacteria found on the skin.

How Acne Develops

Acne is a disorder of the pilosebaceous unit, a structure in the skin consisting of the hair shaft, hair follicle, erector pili muscle (which causes goosebumps) and sebaceous gland. These units are densest on the face and chest.

The sebaceous gland produces a mixture of fats called sebum, which moisturizes the hair and skin. Hormonal activity can lead to increased sebum production (which is why acne is common during puberty and is one of the symptoms of PMS and pregnancy).

Propionibacterium acnes bacteria grow inside the pilosebaceous unit and feed on sebum. When sebum production is elevated by hormones, the fats combine with keratin (protein) in the skin to form plugs called comedones which block the opening of the hair follicle. Uninflamed comedones appear on the skin surface as blackheads or whiteheads.

The low oxygen levels and excess sebum within the blocked follicles create an environment where Propionibacterium acnes can thrive and multiply. Most of the skin damage associated with acne is not caused by the bacteria itself, but by the body’s immune response to it.

Inflammation is created when white blood cells arrive to fight the bacterial infection. The comedo turns red and swells into a papule, better known as a pimple. A pustule is created when fluid within the inflamed comedo accumulates dead white blood cells.

Types of Acne Lesions

A comedo (plural comedones) is a plug or clog in a hair follicle made of sebum and keratin from dead skin cells. All types of acne lesions are formed from a comedo.

  • Blackheads are uninflamed comedones which are open at the surface of the skin, exposing the sebum and dead skin cells.
  • Whiteheads are uninflamed comedones which are closed at the skin’s surface. The comedo protrudes to form a bump, but doesn’t break through the skin.
  • Papules are inflamed comedones. They appear as reddened bumps and can cluster into a rash. They may cause irritation or itching and can become crusty if picked or scratched.
  • Pustules are inflamed comedones which are filled with white or yellow pus. The pus is a byproduct of the immune response to the infection caused by Propionibacterium acnes. It consists mainly of dead white blood cells and bacteria. Picking or squeezing the pustules will release the pus but can lead to scarring.
  • Nodules are large papules that form deep within the skin. They feel like hard lumps and are often painful to the touch.
  • Cysts are large pustules that form deep within the skin. They look similar to boils and feel like soft, fluid-filled lumps.

Clinical Classifications of Acne

  • Comedonal acne: uninflamed blackheads and whiteheads
  • Papulopustular acne: inflamed papules and pustules
  • Mild acne: fewer than 20 comedonal lesions, fewer than 15 papulopustular lesions or fewer than 30 total lesions.
  • Moderate acne: 20-100 comedonal lesions, 15-50 papulopustular lesions or 30-125 total lesions.
  • Severe nodulocystic acne: multiple cysts and nodules covering large areas on the face, neck, back, chest or shoulders.
  • Acne conglobata: multiple nodules covering large areas that are interconnected under the skin.

Alternative Acne Treatments

Hundreds of home remedies and alternative treatments for acne can be found online. The majority of these haven’t been subject to randomized controlled trials.

That doesn’t necessarily mean they are all entirely ineffective, but some of them could do more harm than good. Astringent agents, such as lemon juice or vinegar, may dry out the skin and stimulate the sebaceous glands to produce more sebum.

The natural acne treatments described below have all been scientifically tested. They get to the root of the problem by decreasing sebum production, inhibiting the growth of Propionibacterium acnes or reducing inflammation.

7 Research-Based Natural Remedies for Acne

1. Tea Tree Oil

tea tree oil green leaves essential acne soothes natural remedies

Tea tree oil has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Research has shown that it exhibits broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity against bacterial, viral and fungal skin infections. Lab tests have revealed numerous compounds in tea tree oil that are active against Propionibacterium acnes.

A small pilot study published in the Australasian Journal of Dermatology tested a tea tree oil gel and face wash for the treatment of mild-to-moderate facial acne. Participants applied the tea tree oil products to their faces twice daily for 12-weeks. Average number of acne lesions fell steadily over the course of the study: from 24 at the start, to 15 at week 8, and dropping to 11 by week 12. No serious side effects occurred.

An Iranian study evaluated the efficacy of tea tree oil in the treatment of acne. Researchers randomized 60 patients with mild-to-moderate acne into a treatment group and a placebo group. Both groups received gels in similar packaging. The gel given to the treatment group contained 5% tea tree oil. Patients were instructed to apply the gel over the affected area twice daily and rinse it off after 20 minutes.

After 6-weeks of treatment, there was a 44% reduction in acne lesions for the tea tree group, whereas the placebo group did not experience a significant reduction in total lesion count. The tea tree group also had a 41% reduction on an acne severity index compared to no significant difference in the placebo group.

A clinical trial published in the Medical Journal of Australia compared tea tree oil to benzoyl peroxide, an ingredient found in many over-the-counter acne creams. A total of 124 patients with mild-to-moderate acne were randomized to receive either a gel made with 5% tea tree oil or a lotion made with 5% benzoyl peroxide.

After 3 months, both treatments resulted in a similar reduction in the number of inflamed and non-inflamed acne lesions. However, the tea tree group experienced significantly fewer side effects such as irritation, itching, burning and dryness.

Method: Mix 1 part pure tea tree essential oil with 9 parts water. Dip a cotton swab in the solution and apply to affected areas. You can also try adding tea tree oil to your favorite face mask.

Alternatively, purchase a tea tree blemish gel from a drug store or a health products retailer and use as indicated.


2. Green Tea

green tea leaves acne natural remedies

Excess sebum production is associated with pore enlargement and is one of the causes of acne. Green tea is rich in a catechin flavonoid called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG).

Research has shown that EGCG inhibits an enzyme found in sebaceous glands and reduces sebum secretion. Interestingly, green tea seems to improve acne whether taken orally or used topically.

A Bosnian study examined the effects of green tea on skin sebum production. Healthy male volunteers applied an emulsion containing 3% green tea extract to their cheeks over a period of 12-weeks. Researchers used grease spot photometry to measure sebum production at weekly intervals. Skin sebum levels fell continually and were 60% lower by the end of the study.

A clinical trial published in Complementary Therapies in Medicine examined the effects of oral green tea extract on adult acne. A total of 64 women aged 25-45 with moderate-to-severe acne were randomized to receive green tea supplements or placebo supplements. Participants took a capsule 3 times a day, 30 minutes before each meal. Those in the tea tree group took in a daily dose of 856 mg of EGCG.

After 4-weeks, the tea tree group had significantly fewer inflammatory lesions in the areas around the nose, mouth and chin compared to the placebo group. They also experienced an added bonus of a significant reduction in total cholesterol levels.

A clinical trial published in the Saudi Medical Journal evaluated the effectiveness of a tea lotion in comparison with a zinc sulfate solution for the treatment of acne. A total of 40 acne patients aged 13-27 were randomized into 2 groups. One group was given a 2% tea lotion and the other received a topical 5% zinc sulfate solution. Both groups were instructed to use the treatments twice daily for 2 months.

Inflammatory acne lesions were counted before and after the trial period. The 2% percent tea lotion decreased the number of pustules and papules by approximately 50%. The 5% zinc sulfate solution was beneficial but did not have a statistically significant effect.

Method: To use green tea topically, dip a cotton bud in liquid green tea extract and apply directly to pimples twice a day.

To take green tea orally, simply substitute green tea for coffee, black tea or your favorite beverage.

Alternatively, take green tea supplement capsules. Read the label and choose a product with at least 200 mg of EGCG. A combination of topical and oral green tea may produce the best results.


3. Low Glycemic Load Diet

low glycemic index load diet blood sugar carbohydrates insulin vegetables protein fruits

The glycemic index (GI) scores food on a scale of 0-100 based on how much they raise blood sugar levels. High GI foods tend to be high in sugar or refined carbohydrates.

The glycemic load (GL) of a food is calculated by adjusting the GI for a typical serving size. Foods with a low GL have less of an effect on blood sugar and insulin levels than foods with a high GL.

Research has shown that insulin increases the production of androgen and other hormones which stimulate sebum production and trigger acne.

A Korean study published in the European Journal of Dermatology investigated the influence of diet on acne. Researchers recruited 783 acne patients and 502 acne-free controls and asked them to fill in food questionnaires.

Vegetable and fish intake was significantly higher in the control group than in the acne group. The acne patients had a significantly higher intake of instant noodles, junk food, carbonated drinks, snacks and processed cheese. The data showed that a high GL diet played a role in acne exacerbation. Irregular dietary patterns were also found to aggravate acne.

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition tested whether a low GL diet improves acne. A total of 43 male acne patients aged 15-25 were randomly assigned to a diet with 25% energy from protein and 45% from low GI carbohydrates or a control diet which emphasized carbohydrate-dense foods. Acne lesion counts and severity were assessed every 4-weeks by dermatologists who were not told which participants were on which diet. Insulin sensitivity was measured at the start and end of the study.

After 12-weeks, the low GL group had a significantly greater overall reduction in total and inflammatory acne lesion counts than the control group. They also lost more weight and had a greater improvement in insulin sensitivity.

A clinical study at Seoul National University Hospital investigated the effect of a low GL diet in the treatment of acne. A total of 32 patients with mild-to-moderate acne were randomly divided into 2 groups. The treatment group was assigned a low GL diet with 25% of calories from protein, 45% from low GI carbohydrates and 30% from fats. The control group was instructed to eat carbohydrate-rich foods.

After 10-weeks, there was a significant correlation between a decrease in total number of acne lesions and a reduction in the glycemic load. The average number of acne lesions decreased by 71% in the low GL group. There was no significant reduction in acne lesions in the control group.

Method: Avoid foods that are high in sugar or starch. Base meals around a protein source and low-carb vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, spinach, mushrooms, peppers, onions, celery or cucumber.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition provides an online table of glycemic index and glycemic load for 750 foods.

There are also many books available which detail low GL diet plans.


4. Probiotics

probiotics acne yogurt kimchi fermented gut health bacteria sauerkraut natural remedies

Probiotics can help maintain your overall health by increasing the ratio of ‘good’ bacteria to ‘bad’ bacteria in the gut. Laboratory research has shown that various types of bacteria demonstrate antimicrobial activity against Propionibacterium acne.

A review article published in Beneficial Microbes notes that gut microbes could be linked to acne severity by their ability to influence systemic inflammation, blood sugar control, oxidative stress, tissue fat content and mood.

A Russian study examined the intestinal microflora in 114 acne patients and found that 54% had impaired bacterial microflora. Giving these patients probiotics along with their usual acne treatment reduced treatment time by 50%.

One of the causes of adult acne is dysregulation of insulin signaling. A pilot study published in Beneficial Microbes evaluated the effect of probiotic supplementation on insulin signaling and acne improvement. A total of 20 male and female adult acne patients were randomized to receive a liquid probiotic supplement containing Lactobacillus rhamnosus or a placebo. Skin biopsies were obtained from all patients before and after treatment.

After 12-weeks, the probiotic group showed a 32% reduction in acne, as well as a 65% increase in skin expression of genes involved in insulin signaling. No such differences were observed in the placebo group.

A study published in The Journal of Cutaneous Medicine and Surgery tested whether probiotics could reduce the side effects imparted by systemic antibiotics used to treat acne. A total of 45 female adult acne patients were randomly assigned to one of three groups. One group received probiotic supplements, another received the prescription antibiotic minocycline, and the third group was treated with both probiotics and minocycline.

After 4-weeks, all patients showed a significant improvement in total acne lesion count, with continued improvement over the course of the study. After 12-weeks, the group treated with both probiotics and minocycline had a significantly greater decrease in total acne lesion count than patients in the other two groups.

Two patients in the minocycline-only group developed vaginal candidiasis as a side effect. The researchers concluded that probiotics provide a synergistic anti-inflammatory effect with systemic antibiotics while also reducing potential adverse events.

Method: Learn to make your own sauerkraut and other naturally lacto-fermented pickled vegetables. You can find recipes and instructional videos online.

Try Asian fermented foods and drinks such as tempeh, natto, miso, kimchi, kombucha or kefir.

Natural yogurt with live active cultures is a good source of probiotics, but do not add it to your diet if you suspect your acne is triggered by dairy products.

If you choose to take a probiotic supplement, read the label. Look for a product with multiple species of bacteria that contains at least 10-15 billion CFU (colony forming units).


5. Zinc

zinc acne inflammation salmon seafood shrimps beef cheese spinach mushrooms cocoa pumpkin seeds garlic bean almonds natural remedies

The immune system responds to acne bacteria by producing inflammation around hair follicles and sebaceous glands in the skin. This inflammation leads to the redness and swelling characteristic of pimples.

Research has shown that a zinc deficiency causes elevated inflammation in response to bacterial infection. Oral zinc supplementation can help to regulate the immune system and control inflammation, reducing the frequency and severity of acne outbreaks.

A Turkish study examined the effect of zinc deficiency on the development of acne. Researchers recruited 47 acne patients and 40 acne-free controls who were matched for age and gender. All of the participants were given blood tests to determine their zinc levels.

Statistical comparison of the acne and control groups showed that acne patients had significantly lower zinc levels. Zinc levels were low in 54% of acne patients, compared to only 10% of control group subjects.

A study published in Acta Dermato-Venereologica examined the efficacy of oral zinc sulfate for treating acne. A total of 54 acne patients were randomized to receive either 0.6 grams of zinc sulfate daily or a placebo. After 6-weeks, acne improved by about 33% in the zinc group, significantly more than in the control group.

A clinical trial published in Dermatology compared oral zinc supplements to the prescription antibiotic minocycline for the treatment of acne. A total of 332 acne patients were randomized to receive either 30 mg of elemental zinc or 100 mg of minocycline over 3 months.

In the zinc group, the total lesion count had fell by 50% and 31% of patients had more than a 66% decrease in papules and pustules. Minocycline was 17% superior to zinc with respect to change in lesion count, however researchers concluded that both minocycline and zinc gluconate are effective in the treatment of inflammatory acne.

Method: The best dietary sources of zinc are seafood, beef, lamb and pork. Oysters are an incredibly rich source (if you like them and can afford them). Plant-based sources of zinc include wheat germ, baked beans, pumpkin seeds and cashew nuts.

If you are vegetarian or vegan, or even if you get most of your calories from carbohydrates, you may be zinc deficient. Plant-foods are poor sources of zinc compared to animal foods. In addition, phytates found in grains and legumes inhibit absorption of zinc.

Taking a daily 30 mg zinc supplement could help to reduce acne outbreaks. There are several types of zinc capsules on the market and some are more bioavailable than others. For maximum benefits, choose zinc picolinate or zinc methionine.


6. Barberry

barberry berberis vulgaris red berries pink flowers inflammation acne natural remedies

Barberry (Berberis vulgaris) is widely used in eastern and western traditional medicine. Research has shown that berberine and other compounds in barberry have antimicrobial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, all of which could help reduce acne.

Berberine also lowers blood sugar, helping to control insulin and other hormones which trigger excess sebum. A rodent study found that that berberine suppressed sebum production by 63%.

A study published in the Journal of Dietary Supplements examined the effect of barberry extract on acne. A total of 49 adolescents with moderate-to-severe acne were randomized to receive either 600 mg daily of barberry extract or a placebo. Acne lesion counts and acne severity scores were documented at the start of the trial and after 4-weeks.

In the barberry group, acne severity scores and counts of facial noninflamed, inflamed and total acne lesions all declined by an average of 43-45%. There were no significant changes in acne severity or lesion counts in the placebo group.

Method: Choose a supplement capsule containing berberine from barberry extract. Take two 400 mg capsules a day with meals.

You might also like to try barberry bark herbal tea, available in loose leaf or tea bags.


7. Aloe Vera

aloe vera green spikey gel clear plant acne anti inflammatory soothing healing natural remedies

Aloe vera has antibacterial properties and is a common home remedy for minor cuts and burns. While it may not prevent acne outbreaks, it could help to speed up the healing process of acne lesions.

Laboratory research has shown that aloe gel contains compounds called glycoproteins which accelerate the healing process by reducing pain and inflammation. It also contains polysaccharides which stimulate skin growth and repair.

Aloe vera may also help to fade marks and scars left on the skin after acne has healed. A study published in Planta Medica demonstrated that a compound in aloe vera gel called aloin acts on melanin to lighten skin.

A study published in the Journal of Dermatological Treatment examined the efficacy and safety of the combination of tretinoin cream and aloe vera gel for the treatment of acne. Tretinoin (Retin-A) is a topical acne medication which may produce side effects such as redness, dryness, itching and scaling. Researchers conducted a trial to see whether combining tretinoin with aloe vera could reduce adverse events.

A total of 60 subjects with mild-to-moderate acne were randomized to receive either a tretinoin cream or a combination of tretinoin cream and aloe vera gel. After 8-weeks, the combination therapy was significantly more effective in reducing inflammatory, non-inflammatory and total acne lesion scores than tretinoin alone. Skin redness was also significantly less severe in the tretinoin and aloe vera group.

Method: If you have an aloe vera houseplant, cut off a leaf at the base, slit it lengthwise and remove the clear, viscous gel. Wrap the unused portion of the leaf and store in your refrigerator.

Apply to your acne morning and evening after washing your face.

For convenience, you can purchase tubes of pure aloe vera gel from health product suppliers.


Final Word

Some of the remedies above may work better for you than others, depending on your skin type and hormone levels. The best way to find out which method works best for you is to perform your own experiments.

Stick to one treatment for at least 12-weeks and keep a daily or weekly record of your pimple count. Alternatively, simply take a selfie every week and compare before-and-after photos.

Meanwhile, follow these acne care tips from the American Academy of Dermatology:

  • Use nonacnegenic or noncomedogenic toiletries, sunscreens and cosmetics.
  • Gently wash affected areas with a mild, nondrying cleanser twice a day and after sweating. Scrubbing or vigorous washing can make acne worse.
  • Do not unnecessarily dry the skin with astringents, exfoliants and toners.
  • To avoid scarring, do not squeeze, pop or pick at acne.

8 Health Benefits of Vitamin D and How to Get More of It

vitamin d sunlight strong bones benefits

Vitamin D is often associated only with strong bones, but it plays a much wider role in maintaining one’s overall wellness. Vitamin D receptors are located in cells throughout the body including the skin, brain, heart, breast, prostate gland and cells of the immune system.

According to a report published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, 77% of Americans have a deficiency in vitamin D levels, affecting their overall health.

Vitamin D from Sunlight

vitamin d sunlight uv rays melanin

The main natural source of vitamin D for humans comes from adequate amounts of sunlight exposure.

Short wave ultraviolet B (UVB) rays from the sun convert a substance in the skin called 7-dehydrocholesterol into vitamin D. Anything that interferes with the penetration of UVB radiation into the skin will affect the synthesis of vitamin D..

Melanin, which creates skin pigmentation absorbs UVB radiation, so darker-skinned people in northern climates are more likely to be vitamin D deficient.

Sunscreen with SPF 15 decreases the synthesis of vitamin D by 99% when applied properly. The amount of sun exposure you need to get adequate vitamin D depends on your skin type, your location, season of the year and time of day.

Vitamin D from Food Sources

vitamin d food sources salmon mushrooms sardines eggs cheese dairy peas fish natural sources

Food sources of vitamin D include oily fish, egg yolks and beef liver. However, these may give you less than you think.

One study found that wild-caught salmon had 500–1000 IU vitamin D in 100 grams, while farmed salmon (the most widely consumed fish in the US) contained only 100-250 IU per 100 grams.

According to the NIH, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for vitamin D is 600 IU per day. Most people get far less than this on a daily basis. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey estimated the average vitamin D intake from food alone ranged from 204-288 IU per day for males and 144-276 IU for females.

8 Science-Backed Health Benefits of Vitamin D

1. Prevents Osteoporosis

osteoporosis vitamin d weak pain knee joints bones calcium break fracture menopause

Calcium is the most important mineral for building strong bones. Our bodies continuously removes calcium from our bones and replace it with new calcium from our diet.

Vitamin D plays a vital role in helping our bodies absorb calcium from food. If you don’t get enough calcium and vitamin D, you have a greater risk of developing osteoporosis, especially for post-menopausal woman.

Osteoporosis causes bones to become less dense and more likely to break after a fall or minor accident. In addition to building strong bones, vitamin D helps to prevent falls by improving muscle function in the legs.

A year-long trial in Scotland examined the effect of vitamin D supplementation on bone mineral density. A total of 305 healthy women aged 60-70 were randomized to receive either a daily 400 IU vitamin D supplement, a 1000 IU vitamin D supplement or a placebo. At the beginning and end of the study, the participants had scans and blood tests to determine bone mineral density of the hip and spine.

After one year, bone loss at the hip was significantly greater for the placebo and 400 IU vitamin D groups compared with the 1,000 IU vitamin D group. Bone loss was negligible for women on the higher dose of vitamin D.

A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials examined the efficacy of vitamin D supplements for preventing non-vertebral and hip fractures among adults aged over 65. Researchers analyzed data from 12 trials for non-vertebral fractures and 8 trials for hip fractures comparing oral vitamin D with calcium and/or a placebo. They grouped the trials by low dose (less than 400 IU of vitamin D per day) or higher dose.

Analysis of the data showed that a higher dose of vitamin D (482-770 IU per day) reduced non-vertebral fractures by at least 20% and hip fractures by at least 18%. The lower dose had no significant effect.

A pooled analysis published in the New England Journal of Medicine examined the dose requirements of vitamin D for the prevention of bone fractures. Researchers combined data from 11 double-blind, randomized, controlled trials of vitamin D supplementation involving a total of 31,022 participants with 1,111 incidents of hip fracture and 3,770 other non-vertebral fractures.

Low doses of vitamin D supplements did not significantly reduce the risk for fractures. However, doses ranging from 792-2,000 IU daily reduced the risk of hip fracture by 30% and the risk of other non-vertebral fractures by 14%.

A clinical trial published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society set out to determine the effect of 4 vitamin D supplement doses on the risk of falls in elderly nursing home residents. A total of 124 nursing home residents were randomly assigned to receive 200 IU, 400 IU, 600 IU, or 800 IU of vitamin D or a placebo daily for 5 months.

The 800 IU vitamin D group had a significantly reduced number of fallers and a reduced incidence rate of falls compared to those taking lower doses or a placebo. The high dose of vitamin D reduced the risk of falling by 72%. Lower doses were not significantly more effective than the placebo.


2. Treats Depression

depression mood anxiety vitamin d sad alone lost serotonin

Vitamin D receptors are found in the areas of the brain, such as the hippocampus, that are linked to the development of depression.

While the role of vitamin D in the brain isn’t fully understood, some researchers theorize that it may increase levels of serotonin and other neurotransmitters involved in regulating mood.

A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition investigated the relationship of vitamin D with the prevalence of depressive and anxiety disorders. Researchers analyzed data from 5,371 men and women involved in a Finnish health survey. The participants included 354 people who have been diagnosed with depression. Blood samples were used to measure vitamin D concentrations for all subjects.

Those with the highest levels of vitamin D had a 35% lower risk of depressive disorder than those with the lowest levels. The protective effect of vitamin D remained even after adjustment for depression risk factors such as divorce, illness or unhealthy lifestyle.

A Turkish study investigated the link between mid-pregnancy vitamin D levels and postpartum depression. Study participants included 179 women with no known risk factors for postpartum depression. They were screened for vitamin D levels when they were 24 – 28 weeks pregnant.

At one week, 6 weeks and 6 months after delivery, participants were assessed using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS). There was a significant relationship between low vitamin D levels in mid-pregnancy and high EPDS scores in all 3 follow-up periods.

A randomized controlled trial published in the Journal of Internal Medicine examined the effects of vitamin D supplementation on symptoms of depression in overweight and obese subjects. Researchers recruited 441 men and women with a BMI over 27.

All of the subjects completed a standard questionnaire called the Beck Depression Inventory at the start and end of the study. They also took blood tests to determine their levels of vitamin D. The participants were randomized to receive 1 of 3 treatments: 2 capsules of vitamin D, 1 capsule of vitamin D and 1 placebo capsule, or 2 placebo capsules.

At the start of the study, participants with low vitamin D levels scored significantly higher for depressive traits than those with higher vitamin D levels. After 1 year of supplementation, subjects in the 2 groups given vitamin D showed a significant improvement in depression scores, whereas those in the placebo group did not improve.

A meta-analysis published in Psychosomatic Medicine reviewed the effects of vitamin D supplementation on depression in 7 randomized controlled trials. Researchers concluded that vitamin D supplementation had a moderate, statistically significant effect on depressive symptoms for patients with clinically significant depressive symptoms or depressive disorder.


3. Boosts Our Immune System

cold flu cough infection vitamin d boost immune system viral sick blowing nose

The peak of the flu season occurs in the winter, when vitamin D levels in the population are at their lowest.

A study which analyzed data from the 1,918-1,919 influenza pandemic found that the lowest flu-related death rates in the US were in southern cities with the highest amounts of UVB light. The most flu fatalities were in northern cities with the lowest amounts of UVB radiation.

Vitamin D helps to boost the immune system and protect against colds and flu in two ways. It modulates the production of inflammatory proteins called cytokines and stimulates production of antimicrobial proteins that fight viral infections.

A prospective study was conducted in Greenwich, Connecticut to determine whether the incidence of acute viral respiratory tract infections was associated with vitamin D levels. Researchers recruited 198 healthy adults who volunteered to have their blood drawn monthly from September to January. They were also asked to report any cold or flu symptoms they experienced over this period.

Participants’ blood samples were tested for vitamin D levels. Those who reported symptoms had nasal swabs tested for the presence of a viral respiratory tract infection. Analysis of the data showed that the higher the vitamin D concentrations in the blood, the lower that risk for colds or flu. Participants with low levels of vitamin D were twice as likely to develop a viral respiratory tract infection than those with higher levels.

When researchers at the Winthrop University Hospital conducted a trial to determine whether vitamin D would prevent osteoporosis, they came up with an unexpected result. Researchers randomized 208 African-American postmenopausal women to receive either a placebo or 800 IU vitamin D per day for 2 years followed by 2,000 IU per day for a third year.

Patients were followed up every 6 months to have their bone mineral density measured. During these visits, they were asked about their overall health including incidence of cold or flu.

In a report published in Epidemiology and Infection, the researchers noted that 8 women in the vitamin D group experienced cold or flu symptoms compared with 26 women in the placebo group. Only one subject in the vitamin D group experienced cold or flu symptoms while on the higher dose.

A controlled trial published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition investigated the effect of vitamin D supplements on seasonal influenza in children. A total of 430 Japanese school children were randomly assigned to receive tablets containing 1,200 IU of vitamin D per day or placebo tablets during the flu season from December to March.

In the vitamin D group, 11% of children developed influenza type A (bird flu) compared with 19% in the placebo group. Vitamin D reduced the risk for this type of viral infection by 42% for all participants. For those who had not been taking vitamin D prior to the study, the risk was reduced by 64%. Vitamin D supplements also protected against asthma attacks in children previously diagnosed with asthma.


4. Prevents Alzheimer’s Disease & Dementia

Alzheimers disease dementia memory loss brain cells vitamin d cognition

Several population studies have shown that people who are deficient in vitamin D are at greater risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

The cognitive changes, such as memory loss, that take place in Alzheimer’s disease occur when amyloid-beta protein fragments accumulate in the brain to form insoluble plaques.

Laboratory research has shown that vitamin D helps the immune system to clear excess amyloid-beta and inhibits brain cell death induced by amyloid-beta.

A Danish population study published in Alzheimer’s and Dementia investigated the association between vitamin D levels and risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Researchers measured blood levels of vitamin D in a cohort of 10,186 adults who were free of any type of diagnosed dementia.

During 30 years of follow-up, 418 participants developed Alzheimer’s and 92 developed vascular dementia. After adjusting for other risk factors such as high cholesterol and obesity, the researchers observed an association between low vitamin D levels with a significantly increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.

A study published in Dementia and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders examined the association between vitamin D status and cognition in 225 patients who were diagnosed as having probable Alzheimer’s disease.

The patients were tested on the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), a common diagnostic tool used to measure cognitive impairment and screen for dementia. Their blood samples were tested to determine vitamin D levels. Analysis of the data showed that patients with sufficient vitamin D levels scored significantly better on the MMSE than vitamin D insufficient patients.

A study at the University of California at Davis Alzheimer’s Disease Center assessed associations between vitamin D status and cognitive function. A cohort of 382 ethnically diverse adults over age 60 were clinically assessed for cognitive impairment or dementia.

Their blood levels of vitamin D were measured and categorized as deficient, insufficient, adequate or high.

At the time of enrollment in the study, 18% of participants were diagnosed with dementia, 33% had mild cognitive impairment and 50% were cognitively normal. Average vitamin D levels were significantly lower in participants with dementia.

After 5 years of follow-up, rates of decline in episodic memory and executive function were significantly higher in participants with deficient or insufficient vitamin D. Vitamin D insufficiency was associated with a level of decline in episodic memory performance that was 3 times greater than in individuals who remained cognitively normal.


5. Protects Against Breast Cancer

breast cancer vitamin d cell death antioxidant pink ribbon survivor

Breast cells are capable of converting vitamin D to a hormone which has anti-carcinogenic properties.

Laboratory research has shown that the hormonally active form of vitamin D inhibits the proliferation and spread of cancer cells and stimulates cancer cell death. Having sufficient vitamin D from sun exposure, diet or supplements lowers the risk for developing breast cancer and can increase survival rates for breast cancer patients.

A meta-analysis published in Medicine evaluated the association between circulating vitamin D and breast cancer risk. Researchers pooled data from 9 prospective studies, comprising of 5,206 cancer cases and 6,450 controls. They found that for post-menopausal women, the higher their vitamin D levels, the lower their risk for breast cancer.

A population-based study conducted in Ontario, Canada investigated the association between sunlight exposure and risk of breast cancer. Researchers recruited 3,101 women aged 25–74 who had been diagnosed with breast cancer and 3,471 healthy age-matched controls. The participants filled in breast cancer risk factor questionnaires that included questions about hours per day spent outdoors in the months of April–October.

The researchers compared women with the highest sun exposure to those with the lowest sun exposure during 4 life periods. Those who spent the most time outdoors during their teenage years had a 21% lower risk of breast cancer. Sun exposure reduced the risk of cancer by 24% for women in their 20s-30s and by 25% for women in their 40s-50s. Older women aged 60-75 benefited the most from time spent outdoors, with a 41% reduction in breast cancer risk.

A 4-year trial published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition examined the efficacy of calcium alone and calcium plus vitamin D in reducing the risk of all types of cancer. A total of 1,179 healthy Nebraskan woman aged 55 and older were randomly assigned to 3 groups. One group received placebo supplements, one group received 1,450 mg calcium supplements and one group received calcium plus 1,100 IU per day of vitamin D. The risk of developing any type of cancer after the first year of the trial was reduced by 77% for women taking calcium and vitamin D. Calcium alone reduced the risk for cancer by 41% compared to the placebo.

A Korean study investigated the association between vitamin D status and the prognosis of breast cancer patients. Researchers tested blood concentrations of vitamin D for 469 breast cancer patients at diagnosis and categorized them as deficient or non-deficient. The patients had their vitamin D levels tested again at annual follow-up visits for up to 4 years after diagnosis.

Patients aged over 55 and those with advanced-stage cancer who were non-deficient in vitamin D had a significantly better survival rate compared to those with vitamin D deficiency. At the one-year follow up, patients who remained non-deficient and those whose vitamin D levels had improved were also more likely to survive over the course of the study.


6. Protects Against Prostate Cancer

prostate cancer screening vitamin d UV light rays antioxidant

Vitamin D appears to have a protective effect against prostate cancer. Population studies have shown that prostate cancer is most common in Northern climates with less UV light than southern climates.

In the US, African-American men, whose dark skin does not absorb as much UV radiation, are 2 times more likely to die from prostate cancer than Caucasian men.

Laboratory research has shown that cells in the prostate can convert circulating vitamin D to an active hormone. This hormonal form of vitamin D inhibits the growth and spread of cancer cells.

A prospective study investigated the association between vitamin D status and prostate cancer risk. Researchers at Harvard Medical School analyzed 18 years of data from the Physicians’ Health Study. They compared pre-diagnostic levels of vitamin D in 1,066 men who later went on to develop prostate cancer with the vitamin D levels of 1,618 cancer-free controls matched for age and smoking status. Men whose vitamin D levels were below average had a significantly increased risk of developing aggressive prostate cancer.

About 14% of men of European decent carry a genotype that makes them more prone to develop prostate cancer. The researchers found that vitamin D interacted with this genotype to modify cancer risk. Low vitamin D levels increased the genetic risk for cancer. For men with above average levels of vitamin D, the genotype was no longer associated with any increased risk.

A study published in Clinical Cancer Research evaluated the association between vitamin D and prostate biopsy outcomes. Researchers in measured the vitamin D levels of 667 men in Chicago urology clinics who were undergoing their first prostate biopsy due to an elevated prostate-specific antigen level or an abnormal digital rectal examination. Biopsies remove a small portion of tissue to check for cancerous cells.

For African American men, vitamin D deficiency was significantly associated with increased odds of prostate cancer diagnosis. Among all men who were diagnosed with prostate cancer following the biopsy, severe vitamin D deficiency was positively associated with more advanced staged tumors and higher risk categories.

A clinical trial held in Charleston, South Carolina investigated the effects of vitamin D supplementation in 44 low-risk prostate cancer patients. The participants all received daily 4,000 IU vitamin D supplements. Biopsy procedures were performed before enrollment in the study and after one year of supplementation.

At the second biopsy, 55% of patients had a decrease in cancerous cells or were in a lower cancer risk category. Compared to similar patients in a medical database who had not taken vitamin D, the supplemented patients had a lower rate of cancer progression and a significantly higher rate of improvement.

The researchers note that a combination of active surveillance and vitamin D supplementation may decrease the need of invasive treatments, such as surgery or radiation therapy, for patients with low-risk prostate cancer who respond to the treatment and remain stable or improve.


7. Fights Inflammatory Bowel Disease

inflammatory bowel disease stomach pain ache vitamin d immune system gi tract

Research suggests that vitamin D may fight against many immune system disruptions that occur in inflammatory bowel disease.

Vitamin D protects the epithelial lining of the gastrointestinal tract which forms a barrier against pathogens and induces the production of antibacterial enzymes. It also maintains immune tolerance and reduces inflammation.

A study published in Digestive Diseases and Sciences examined the relationship between vitamin D levels and clinical disease activity in patients with ulcerative colitis. Researchers at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania went through medical records and identified patients with a diagnosis of ulcerative colitis who had been tested for vitamin D status.

They found 15 ulcerative colitis patients with normal vitamin D levels and 19 who were vitamin D deficient. Patients with low vitamin D levels were statistically more likely to have increased disease activity, with 68% of deficient patients displaying active disease, compared with 33% in the vitamin D sufficient group. Among the deficient patients, 47% were treated with corticosteroids, whereas only 7% of the vitamin D sufficient patients required such treatment.

A pilot study published in Clinical and Translational Gastroenterology examined the effect of vitamin D supplementation on 18 patients with mild-to-moderate Crohn’s disease. The participants took 1,000 IU of vitamin D per day for 2 weeks. The dose was raised incrementally until the patients’ vitamin D levels were optimal or until they were taking 5,000 IU per day. Patients were evaluated for severity of symptoms using the Crohn’s disease activity index (CDAI) at the beginning and end of the 24-week study.

Vitamin D supplementation significantly reduced overall CDAI scores, and all but one patient had a lower CDAI score. The scores indicated that 67% of the patients were in remission at the end of the study. Quality-of-life scores also significantly improved.

A clinical trial published in Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics assessed the effectiveness of vitamin D3 treatment in Crohn’s disease. A total of 94 patients with Crohn’s disease in remission were randomized to receive either 1,200 IU vitamin D per day or a placebo.

After 12 months, the relapse rate for patients in the vitamin D group was 13%, less than half the 29% relapse rate for the placebo group. The researchers suggest that vitamin D treatment may potentially reduce the use of remission-inducing drugs such as corticosteroids.


8. Lowers Blood Sugar for Type 2 Diabetes

diabetes type 2 blood sugar insulin pancreas health sodium salt vitamin d

Beta cells in your pancreas produce the hormone, insulin, which regulates blood sugar. Type 2 diabetes occurs when beta cells do not produce enough insulin or when cells in the body become insulin resistant, resulting in dangerously high blood sugar levels.

Vitamin D seems to play a role in pancreatic beta cell function. Research on mice has shown that removing vitamin D receptors from beta cells decreases insulin production by up to 60%.

A meta-analysis published in Diabetes Care assessed the strength of the association between vitamin D levels and risk of type 2 diabetes. Researchers analyzed data from of 21 prospective studies involving 76,220 participants and 4,996 cases of type 2 diabetes.

The analysis revealed a trend where the higher the vitamin D levels, the lower the risk of type 2 diabetes. Participants with the highest blood levels of vitamin D were 38% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes compared to participants with the lowest levels.

A controlled trial published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition investigated the effects of vitamin D supplementation on metabolic health factors related to obesity. Researchers recruited 35 patients aged 14-16 from an adolescent diabetes and obesity clinic. The participants were randomly assigned to receive either a daily 4,000 IU vitamin D supplement or a placebo.

After 6 months, the vitamin D group showed significant improvement in 3 blood markers for insulin resistance and insulin sensitivity. Researchers concluded that vitamin D supplementation helped to repair the damaged blood sugar metabolism associated with obesity.

A randomized controlled trial examined the effects of vitamin D and calcium supplementation on blood sugar metabolism in adults with a high risk of diabetes. A total of 92 participants were given daily supplements containing either 2,000 IU of vitamin D, 400 mg of calcium or a placebo. At the start and end of the trial, participants underwent an intravenous-glucose-tolerance test.

After 16 weeks, those in the vitamin D group showed a significant improvement in insulin production and secretion from pancreatic beta cells. The calcium group showed no significant difference in insulin response.

An Iranian trial tested the effects of a vitamin D fortified yogurt drink on patients with type 2 diabetes. A total of 100 diabetic men and women were randomly allocated to receive either plain yogurt drinks or yogurt drinks containing 500 IU of vitamin D and 170 mg calcium. They consumed 2 drinks a day with lunch and dinner. Blood tests were performed before and after the trial.

After 12 weeks, the group who drank vitamin D fortified yogurt had significantly lower blood sugar levels and increased glucose regulation compared to the plain yogurt group. They also had less vascular inflammation, lower LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol and higher HDL ‘good’ cholesterol.


Final Word

The only way to know whether you’re getting sufficient vitamin D is to take a 25(OH)D blood test. You can ask your doctor for this test or you can order an in-home test online.

With the in-home test, you prick your finger and send a small blood sample to a laboratory. Your results will usually be available within 2 weeks.

The Endocrine Society clinical practice guidelines for vitamin D state that the desirable blood concentration is 30 ng/ml or greater. They also report that adults may require at least 1,500-2,000 IU per day of vitamin D supplements to consistently reach this level.

If you live in a climate with dark winter days, or spend most of the day indoors, vitamin D supplements may improve your health in a variety of ways.

How to Make Your Own Natural Homemade Shampoo – 10 Best Recipes

natural diy homemade shampoo chemical free ingredients

If you want to limit your exposure to potentially toxic chemicals, a good place to start is with your health and beauty products. Commercial shampoos, body wash and shower gels tend to contain a long list of unfamiliar and unpronounceable ingredients that may contribute to allergies, breathing problems, skin irritation or a variety of unexplained long-term health issues.

When you make your own shampoo at home, you know exactly what goes into it. You can choose all natural ingredients and experiment with different blends to create a perfect shampoo custom-made for your hair type.

What’s in Commercial Shampoos?

commercial shampoo chemicals ingredients generic toxins

Grab your shampoo off the shelf and try to read the very small print on the back. You’ll probably find some of the following ingredients listed.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)

Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) is a detergent and foaming agent widely used in cleaning products. It is a major ingredient in most brands of shampoo, used to create a good lather.

Research has shown that SLS is a skin irritant which causes an inflammatory response. In fact, it is even used as an irritant for testing products used to treat skin conditions. Laboratory tests have shown that SLS inhibits DNA synthesis in human thymus cells, weakening the immune system.

Propylene Glycol (PG)

Propylene glycol (PG) is a humectant and solvent used in anti-freeze and aircraft de-icing fluid. It is also used as a moisturizer in cosmetics products. The FDA classifies propylene glycol as GRAS (generally regarded as safe). However, there have been numerous cases of propylene glycol toxicity in humans.

One review article lists reported adverse effects including central nervous system toxicity, cardiac arrhythmia, seizures and lactic acidosis.

Polyethylene Glycol (PEG)

Polyethylene Glycol, usually listed on shampoo labels as PEG, is a petroleum-based chemical with a wide variety of industrial and commercial applications. It binds water, dissolves oil, lubricates and thickens products. In shampoos, it is used to create a smooth, creamy texture. Many cases of allergic reactions to PEG have been reported. It can cause contact dermatitis and even severe anaphylactic reactions.


Dimethicone, also known as polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), is a silicon-based polymer with viscoelastic properties. Many people are more familiar with it being the main component in silly putty. When used in shampoos, it forms a lubricating coat around each strand of hair, adding shine and making it easier to comb.

PDMS has been known to cause contact dermatitis. More worryingly, PDMS is produced from cyclotetrasiloxane (often referred to as D4) and may contain residual amounts. Cyclotetrasiloxane is a known endocrine disruptor and can have harmful effects on the body’s hormone system.


Fragrance seems like an innocent enough ingredient, but toxic substances could be lurking behind this name. If a shampoo derives its fragrance from plant extracts or essential oils, it will most likely display that fact prominently on the label. If not, the fragrance may often be obtained from phthalates.

This group of chemicals is present in hundreds of products. Their health effects on humans remain largely untested and US labelling laws do not require them to be listed. According to the CDC, phthalate exposure is widespread in the U.S. population. Adult women have higher levels of urinary metabolites than men with usage of soaps, body washes, shampoos and cosmetics that contain phthalates.

6 Basic Ingredients of Homemade Shampoos

natural homemade shampoo ingredients diy toxins chemical free

If you want to avoid exposure to the substances listed above and other toxic chemicals, experiment with the method and recipes detailed here to create safe and effective shampoos. Any of these shampoos can also be used as an all-over body wash.

1. Liquid Castile Soap

castile soap glycerin plant oils natural toxin chemical detergent free diy homemade shampoo ingredients

Castile soap is named for a region of Spain renowned for its olive oil and was originally made with olive oil and animal fat. Modern Castile soap is made using plant oils mixed with an alkali to form a natural soap with the glycerin retained.

The most well-known brand of Castile soap is Dr. Bonner’s, though other niche brands are available. The organic ingredients in Dr. Bonner’s Pure-Castile Liquid Soap include coconut oil, olive oil, hemp oil and jojoba oil. It also contains citric acid and vitamin E.

Most importantly, to people concerned about their health and the environment, Castile soap is popular for what it does not contain. It’s free from petrochemicals, oleochemicals, detergents, artificial foaming agents and artificial fragrances. This makes it an ideal base for an all-natural shampoo.


2. Water

water distilled deionized diluted castile soap natural diy shampoo ingredient

Liquid Castile soap is highly concentrated and should always be diluted before using on hair and skin. If you live in a hard-water area, use distilled or deionized water in your DIY shampoo.


3. Vegetable Oil

vegetable oils glossy shiny hair olive sunflower almond sesame natural diy homemade shampoo ingredients

Vegetable oil in shampoo will help make hair glossy and shiny. You can use olive oil or go for one of the many oils commonly used in natural beauty products. Some suggestions include: coconut oil, jojoba oil, avocado oil, walnut oil, grape seed oil, sweet almond oil or argan oil.


4. Xanthan Gum

xanthan gum thickener stabilizer powder fermented sugar whey natural diy ingredient hair shampoo

Xanthan gum is a thickener and stabilizer widely used in foods and cosmetics. It is the byproduct of fermented sugars or whey with Xanthomonas campestris bacteria. Castile soap diluted with water is thinner and runnier than commercial shampoos, the addition of xanthan gum creates a more familiar consistency.

Xanthan gum powder can be purchased online or in health food stores. The shampoo recipes below call for ¼ teaspoon, but if you find your shampoo is still too watery, try using ½ teaspoon instead.


5. Essential Oils

essential oils fragrance properties dandruff hair growth strength scent natural diy shampoo ingredients

A few drops of essential oil will add a nice fragrance to your shampoo. Some essential oils have properties that will help fight dandruff or enhance hair growth. While the recipes below call for a certain amount of essential oil, feel free to add a few more drops if you prefer a stronger scent.


6. Herbs

herbs fresh dried seeds leaves natural hair diy shampoo ingredients

Fresh or dried herbs can add a delicate scent to shampoo and help to treat common hair problems. Infuse herbs in ½ cup of boiling water and strain before adding to the soap.


10 Recipes for Homemade Shampoos

1. Aloe Vera Shampoo – Dry Hair

aloe vera gel plant nourish elastic moisture dry hair shampoo

This recipe combines Aloe Vera gel, instead of water, mixed with Castile soap. Aloe vera nourishes the hair and makes it more elastic. Almond oil penetrates the hair and helps it to retain moisture.

  • ½ cup liquid Castile soap
  • ½ cup aloe vera gel
  • 2 teaspoons almond oil
  • 6 drops clary sage essential oil
  • 6 drops Melissa (lemon balm) essential oil
  • ¼ teaspoon xanthan gum

Combine as per basic method described above.


2. Rosemary Shampoo – Rejuvenating

rosemary leaves needles oil shampoo ingredient hair growth balding scalp

In traditional herbalism, rosemary is thought to help stimulate the scalp and hair follicles to encourage hair growth and prevent thinning or premature balding. It is also commonly used to enhance brunette hair and darken gray hairs.

Pour ½ cup of boiling water over ½ cup fresh, chopped rosemary leaves. Leave to steep for 15 minutes, then strain.

  • ½ cup liquid Castile soap
  • ½ cup rosemary infusion
  • 1 teaspoon jojoba oil
  • 10 drops rosemary essential oil
  • ¼ teaspoon xanthan gum

Combine the liquid infusion with the other shampoo ingredients as per basic method.


3. Beer Shampoo – Thicker Hair

beer dark german hops softens strengthens thickens hair shampoo natural

Beer yeast contains minerals and nutrients that help to plump up hair follicles, adding body and fullness to fine hair. Hops in beer softens and strengthens brittle hair. Hops essential oil has a rich and spicy-sweet scent.

To ensure that your shampoo contains active yeast, choose a German-style hefeweizen. This unfiltered wheat beer remains cloudy due to suspended yeast particles. Popular brands include Erdinger Weissbier, Paulaner Hefe-Weizen, Samuel Adams Hefeweizen, Sierra Nevada Kellerweis Hefeweizen and Flying Dog Hefeweizen.

  • ½ cup liquid Castile soap
  • ½ cup hefeweizen beer
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 10 drops hops essential oil
  • ¼ teaspoon xanthan gum

Pour out half a cup of beer and allow it to sit overnight to go flat. Combine ingredients as per basic method. Shake the shampoo bottle before using to distribute the yeast particles throughout the solution.


4. Peppermint Shampoo – Hair Growth

peppermint leaves hair growth natural shampoo ingredient

Peppermint oil stimulates healthy hair growth and increases hair thickness, number of follicles and depth of follicles.

A study on mice showed that peppermint oil was more effective at promoting hair growth than the popular hair-loss treatment minoxidil (Rogaine).

  • ½ cup liquid Castile soap
  • ½ cup water or peppermint infusion
  • 1 teaspoon jojoba oil
  • 10 drops peppermint essential oil
  • ¼ teaspoon xanthan gum

If you want to pack a real peppermint punch in this shampoo, make an infusion of fresh or dried peppermint leaves to use instead of plain water. Leave the lathered shampoo on your head for five minutes before rinsing to allow the peppermint to invigorate your scalp.


5. Orange Shampoo – Greasy Hair

orange fresh juice greasy hair natural shampoo ingredient

Oranges contain a compound called limonene which is widely used in cleaning products and cosmetics for its fragrance and for its ability to dissolve oils. Petitgrain oil is extracted from the leaves and twigs of the orange tree, whereas orange oil is extracted from the rind of the fruit.

Argan oil has been shown to reduce sebum levels on the skin. In one study, a cream containing argan oil reduced oily skin areas by 42%.

  • ½ cup liquid Castile soap
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 teaspoon argan oil
  • 6 drops petitgrain essential oil
  • 6 drops orange essential oil
  • ¼ teaspoon xanthan gum

Combine ingredients as per basic method.


6. Tea Tree Shampoo – Dandruff

tea tree leaves green anti fungal dandruff natural hair shampoo ingredient

Tea tree oil has anti-fungal properties and is effective in combating the Pityrosporum ovale fungus which is thought to be a cause of dandruff.

In one study, participants who used a tea tree oil shampoo daily for 4-weeks showed a 41% improvement in dandruff severity.

  • ½ cup liquid Castile soap
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 teaspoon argan oil
  • 12 drops tea tree essential oil
  • ¼ teaspoon xanthan gum

Combine ingredients as per basic method. Leave the lathered shampoo on your head for five minutes before rinsing to allow the tea tree to act against the dandruff fungus.


7. Chamomile Shampoo – Blonde Hair

chamomile flowers yellow blond hair highlights dyed diy natural shampoo ingredient

Chamomile is a rich source of a yellow flavonoid called apigenin. Chamomile flowers have been traditionally used as a natural yellow dye for wool. Camomile shampoo intensifies blond hair’s radiance and enhances golden highlights.

To make a chamomile infusion, put five chamomile tea bags in a cup, cover with ½ cup boiling water and leave to steep for 15 minutes.

  • ½ cup liquid Castile soap
  • ½ cup chamomile infusion
  • 1 teaspoon grapeseed oil
  • 5 drops bergamot essential oil
  • 5 drops lemon essential oil
  • ¼ teaspoon xanthan gum

Combine ingredients as per basic method.


8. Mint & Eucalyptus Shampoo – Invigorating

eucalyptus mint leaves invigorating refreshing natural diy hair shampoo ingredients

The refreshing, energizing scents of mint and eucalyptus will help wake you up during your morning shower.

To make an infusion from garden mint, pick a handful of leaves and roughly tear them. Put them in a cup and cover them with half a cup of boiling water. Allow to steep for 15 minutes. Gently scrape the leaves with the back of a spoon to release more of the mint oil, then strain.

  • ½ cup liquid Castile soap
  • ½ cup mint infusion
  • 1 teaspoon grapeseed oil
  • 10 drops eucalyptus essential oil
  • ¼ teaspoon xanthan gum

Combine ingredients as per basic method.


9. Coconut Shampoo – Conditioning

coconut milk water moisturizing conditions soft silky dry frizzy hair fat natural diy shampoo ingredients

The lauric acid and vitamin E in coconut moisturizes and conditions hair, leaving it soft and silky. In this recipe, canned coconut milk is substituted for water. Due to the fat content in coconut milk, there is no need to add additional oil unless you have dry or frizzy hair.

  • ½ cup liquid Castile soap
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon almond oil (optional)
  • 10 drops orange essential oil
  • ¼ teaspoon xanthan gum

Combine ingredients as per basic method.


10. Floral Shampoo – Relaxing

floral rose lavender neroli oil relaxing sleep natural hair diy shampoo ingredients

This is a good choice to use as a shampoo and/or body wash if you take a warm bath or shower before bedtime to help you sleep.

Lavender oil, neroli oil and rose oil all have calming properties that can help decrease anxiety when inhaled or absorbed through the skin. Research has shown that inhaling lavender oil improves sleep quality.

  • ½ cup liquid Castile soap
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 4 drops lavender essential oil
  • 4 drops neroli essential oil
  • 4 drops rose essential oil
  • ¼ teaspoon xanthan gum

Combine ingredients as per basic method.


Basic Method

Mix together ½ cup liquid Castile soap, ½ cup water and 1 teaspoon vegetable oil in a plastic jug. Add 1/4 teaspoon (or 1/2 teaspoon for thicker consistency) xanthan gum powder and whisk briskly until it dissolves and the liquid begins to thicken. Mix in a few drops of your favorite essential oils. Pour the mixture into an old shampoo bottle. Ingredients may naturally separate, so be sure to give the bottle a good shake before each use.


Castile soap may strip color from dyed hair and may not be suitable for use on permed, chemically treated or damaged hair. When you make your first batch of homemade shampoo, test it first on a small strand of hair before using it on your entire head. Some people find that the Castile soap is too harsh and works better for them in a dilution of 2 parts water to 1 part soap.

Vinegar Rinse

apple cider vinegar spray rinse water balance natural ph level hair diy shampoo

Shampoo made with Castile soap is slightly alkaline. To rebalance your hair’s pH levels, use a vinegar rinse. Dilute apple cider vinegar with an equal amount of water. Transfer to a spray bottle.

After shampooing and rinsing, towel dry your hair to remove excess water. Spritz the vinegar solution all over your hair, then comb through.  The vinegar odor will dissipate as your hair dries.


Final Word

Use the recipes above as a starting point. Experiment with different variations of the basic recipes until you find a shampoo with a scent you love and leaves your hair silky, soft and bouncy.

You can vary the ratio of soap to water, try different types of oils, infuse herbs from your garden or windowsill, or combine different essential oils for their various fragrances or health benefits to find the one that works best for you.

9 Health Benefits of Green Tea & Matcha Powder

green tea leaves acne natural remedies

For centuries green tea has been one of the most popular beverages consumed in Japan and China. Its popularity is now rising in the west.

A 2014 article in the Washington Post reports that Americans are drinking 40% more green tea than they did in 2000. Much of this rise in consumption is due to the increasing knowledge of green tea’s numerous health benefits.

What is Green Tea?

Green tea, black tea and oolong tea are all made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, but are processed differently. To make green tea, freshly harvested leaves are immediately steamed to prevent oxidation and fermentation. This process preserves the green pigment in the leaves and many of the natural polyphenols.

Polyphenols are micronutrients that come from certain plant-based foods. Laboratory research has shown that green tea leaves contains 6 times more phenolic compounds than an equal weight of black tea leaves.

Most of the polyphenols in green tea are a type of flavonoid known as catechins. There are 6 primary catechin compounds in green tea. Of these the most abundant and most active is a powerful antioxidant called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). EGCG has been widely studied for its role in preventing and treating diseases.


Matcha Green Tea

matcha green tea powder leaves grinded antioxidants natural health benefits

Matcha is a fine powder made from Camellia sinensis leaves that are grown in shade. The low levels of sunlight cause the plants to produce more chlorophyll, turning them a deeper shade of green.

After harvesting, the stems and veins are removed from the leaves. The leaves are then dried and grounded into a powder which is whisked into hot water or milk to create a concentrated green tea beverage.

When you drink matcha, you are consuming the entire tea leaf and not just a tea infusion with strained tea leaves. This means a cup of matcha is a much richer source of catechins than a cup of brewed green tea.

One analysis found that the concentration of EGCG in matcha was at least three times higher than the highest levels found in standard green tea. The shade-growing process causes the tea plant to produce more L-theanine and caffeine, so matcha is richer in both.

L-theanine is an amino acid which has a calming, relaxing effect when consumed on its own. In tea, it appears to have a synergistic effect with caffeine, helping to promote wakefulness and attention while mitigating caffeine side-effects such as raised blood pressure.

A study published in Nutritional Neuroscience found that a combination of L-theanine and caffeine improved alertness and cognitive performance while reducing tiredness.


9 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Green Tea

1. Lowers the Risk of Breast Cancer

breast cancer green tea natural health benefits

Laboratory research has shown that the EGCG in green tea inhibits the proliferation of human breast cancer cells and decreases their viability. In one study, rats with mammary gland tumors were fed a diet containing green tea catechins or a standard diet. After 36 weeks, 94% of the rats in the catechin group survived, compared to 33% of rats on the standard diet.

A case–control study conducted in Southeast China investigated the relationship between green tea consumption and breast cancer. Researchers collected diet and lifestyle data from 1,009 female breast cancer patients and 1,009 healthy age-matched controls during a face-to-face interview. Participants were asked about their tea consumption patterns including questions about types of tea they drank and the usual frequency of cups consumed.

The risk of breast cancer was significantly lower for green tea drinkers and declined with increasing duration, quantity and frequency of green tea consumed. Cancer risk was lowest for women who had been drinking 2 or more cups a day for 20 or more years. Those who drank the most tea had a 39% reduction in cancer risk.

A meta-analysis published in Carcinogenesis examined population studies which provided data on green tea or black tea consumption and breast cancer risk. The combined results from 4 studies indicated that women who drank the most green tea had a 20% reduction in risk of breast cancer compared to those who drank the least. Interestingly, the data also indicated that high black tea consumption slightly increased the risk of breast cancer.

Researchers of another study found that, compared to non-tea drinkers, estrogen levels were 13% lower in women who regularly drank green tea and 19% higher in women who regularly drank black tea. Estrogen is known to promote breast cancer. This suggests that green tea may reduce breast cancer risk due to its cancer-fighting catechins and by lowering estrogen levels.

2. Lowers the Risk of Colorectal Cancer

colorectal cancer cells green tea natural health benefits

Since green tea is orally ingested, its polyphenols are readily available to organs in the digestive tract such as the colon.

Laboratory research has shown that EGCG or a combination of green tea catechins inhibits the growth of human colon cancer cells and induces cancer cell death. Research on rodents has shown that green tea inhibits several inflammatory markers associated with colon cancer and exerts a potent preventive effect on colon carcinogenesis.

A large Chinese cohort study examined the effects of green tea consumption on colorectal cancer risk. Researchers analyzed data from health and lifestyle interviews with 69,710 women aged 40 to 70. Participants were asked about the type, amount and frequency of tea consumed. Information on tea consumption was reassessed in a follow-up survey 2 to 3 years later.

During 6 years of follow-up, 256 women developed colorectal cancer. Analysis revealed that women who reported drinking green tea regularly had a 57% lower colorectal cancer risk. The reduction in risk was most evident among participants who reported regular tea drinking at both the initial and follow-up surveys. The protective effects of green tea persisted after adjustment for known cancer risk factors.

A pilot study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention tested the efficacy of green tea extract for the prevention of colorectal adenomas (benign tumors that are the precursors to most colorectal cancers). Researchers recruited 136 patients who had their colorectal adenomas surgically removed.

After ensuring they were still adenoma-free a year later, participants were randomized into 2 groups. The treatment group received supplements containing 1.5 grams of green tea extract per day and the control group received no supplements.

After 12 months, the patients underwent a follow-up colonoscopy. In the green tea extract group, 15% of patients showed a recurrence of colorectal adenomas compared to 31% of patients in the control group. The size of relapsed adenomas were also significantly smaller in the green tea group than in the control group.

3. Reduces Abdominal Fat

abdominal visceral fat stomach green tea bmi index natural health benefits weight loss

Green tea appears to be particularly effective at targeting visceral fat. This type of fat is stored in the abdominal cavity and is associated with heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Research suggests that the caffeine and catechins in green tea work synergistically to augment the release of energy from stored fat.

In one study, 10 men spent 24 hours in a respiratory chamber on 3 separate occasions after ingesting either green tea extract, caffeine or a placebo. Green tea extract caused the men to burn significantly more calories. Caffeine alone had no effect on calorie burning compared to the placebo.

A trial published in the journal Obesity investigated the body fat reducing effects of green tea. Researchers recruited 240 Japanese men and women with visceral obesity. The volunteers were randomized into 2 groups. Both groups were given cans of green tea beverages to drink daily with their evening meal. The treatment group’s beverage contained 583 mg of catechins and the control group’s beverage contained 96 mg of catechins.

After 12 weeks, the high catechin group had lost significantly more weight than the low catechin group. They also had a greater decrease in body fat mass, visceral fat area, waist circumference and hip circumference.

A study published in the Journal of Nutrition evaluated the influence of a green tea catechin beverage during exercise-induced weight loss. A total of 107 overweight and obese men and women were randomized to receive one bottle per day of a beverage containing 625 mg of catechins with 39 mg caffeine or a control beverage containing caffeine, but no catechins.

Participants were instructed to increase their activity level, with a goal of at least 180 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week. They were also required to attend at least 3 supervised exercise sessions per week.

There was a trend toward greater loss of body weight in the catechin group compared to the control group throughout the 12-week trial. Percentage changes in total abdominal fat and subcutaneous abdominal fat were significantly greater in the catechin group.

4. Protects Against Type 2 Diabetes

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Insulin (hormone) allows the cells to take in sugar from the blood to be used as fuel or stored as fat. When the cells become insulin resistant, blood sugar levels become too high, leading to type 2 diabetes. Research has shown that drinking green tea can increase insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar levels.

A Japanese study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine examined the relationship between green tea and risk for type 2 diabetes. A cohort of 17,413 healthy men and women aged 40 to 65 were followed for 5 years. All participants completed a questionnaire on consumption of coffee and black, green or oolong tea. During the 5-year follow-up, 444 subjects developed type 2 diabetes.

Drinking 6 or more cups of green tea per day lowered the risk of diabetes by 33% compared to drinking less than one cup a week. Drinking more than 3 cups of coffee was also protective. There was no association between consumption of black or oolong teas and the decreased risk of diabetes.

A clinical trial published in BioMed Research International investigated the effects of green tea on diabetes risk factors. A total of 123 patients who had been diagnosed as pre-diabetic were randomly assigned to 2 groups. The experimental group drank one cup of green tea 3 times a day before meals for 14 weeks. The control group drank warm water.

During the trial, waist-hip ratio increased significantly in the female control group, whereas the female experimental group did not experience any changes. Green tea reduced ALT (alanine aminotransferase) levels in women by 13%. High blood levels of ALT is a predictor of type 2 diabetes. Another diabetes risk factor is decreased arterial pressure. Average arterial pressure did not decrease significantly in the green tea group, but men and women in the control group experienced a critical decline.

5. Protects Against Alzheimer’s Disease

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Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by the accumulation of beta-amyloid plaque in the brain.

Several animal studies have shown that the main catechin in green tea, EGCG, helps to protect the brain from neurological disorders. Laboratory research has shown that EGCG binds to beta-amyloid and inhibits plaque formation. EGCG also reduces the toxicity of beta-amyloid in cells.

A Japanese study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition examined the association between green tea consumption and cognitive function. Researchers collected data from 1,003 participants aged over 70. The subjects completed dietary questionnaires on how many cups of green tea they consumed in a typical week. Research assistants tested participants’ cognitive function using the Mini-Mental State Examination, one of the tools used to diagnose Alzheimer’s.

Higher consumption of green tea was associated with lower cognitive impairment. Drinking 4-6 cups of green tea per week or one cup per day reduced the risk of cognitive impairment by 38%. Drinking 2 or more cups a day reduced risk of cognitive impairment by 54%. The researchers note that their results might partly explain the lower prevalence of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in Japan than in Europe and North America.

A study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition examined the neural effects of green tea extract on brain activation in humans. Functional MRI (fMRI) brain scans were recorded while 12 volunteers performed a challenging working memory task. They each repeated the task 4 times at one-week intervals after consuming either: a 250 ml green tea drink, 500 ml green tea drink, 250 ml placebo drink or a 500 ml placebo drink.

The fMRI scans revealed that green tea increased activity in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, a key area that facilitates working memory processing in the human brain. The higher dose of green tea increased brain activity more than the lower dose. A similarly designed follow-up study showed that green tea improved performance on the working memory task.

6. Lowers the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

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Green tea helps to prevent heart disease and stroke in at least three ways. Anti-inflammatory flavonoids in green tea works to relax blood vessels, allows blood to flow more freely and reduces the chance of clots.

Catechins in green tea decrease the gut’s absorption of cholesterol, naturally lowering cholesterol levels. Antioxidants in green tea helps to prevent the oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol which leads to atherosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of arteries).

A study published in the European Journal of Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation tested the effects of green tea on the brachial artery. The width of this artery, which runs from the shoulder to the elbow, is a predictor of risk for cardiovascular disease. A wider artery reduces the risk of blood clots which can cause heart attacks and stroke.

A team of 14 healthy volunteers were given either 6 grams of green tea, 125 mg of caffeine (the amount contained in the tea) or hot water on 3 separate occasions. Dilation of the brachial artery was measured before and after they drank their beverage. Participants’ arteries significantly widened within 30 minutes of drinking the green tea. Neither caffeine nor water caused a significant effect.

A meta-analysis published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition investigated the effect of green tea on total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol and HDL (good) cholesterol. Researchers analyzed data from 14 trials with 1,136 participants. In all of the studies, the treatment group consumed either green tea or green tea extract and the control group consumed a placebo.

The results showed that green tea significantly lowered total cholesterol and LDL, and had no effect on HDL. The researchers suggest that green tea could be incorporated into a dietary program as part of public health policy to improve cardiovascular health.

A prospective population study published in the Annals of Epidemiology investigated the association between green tea consumption and cardiovascular disease among elderly Japanese people. A cohort of 14,001 participants aged 65-84 completed questionnaires about their frequency of green tea consumption. During 6 years of follow up, there were 1,224 total deaths and 405 deaths due to cardiovascular disease.

Compared to people who drank less than one cup of green tea a day, those who drank 7 or more cups reduced their risk of cardiovascular disease by an amazing 76%. Their risk for death by all causes was reduced by 55%.

7. Improves Oral Health

oral health periodontal diseases cavities halitosis bad breath gums tooth decay gingivitis plaque buildup green tea natural health benefits

Numerous studies have shown the beneficial effects of green tea for oral conditions including periodontal diseases, dental cavities and halitosis.

Laboratory research has shown that green tea catechins restrict the development and colonization of harmful bacteria, such as Streptococcus mutans and Porphyromonas gingivalis, which cause tooth decay and gum disease. Green tea reduces bad breath by suppressing the production of volatile sulfur compounds.

A Japanese study published in the Journal of Periodontology investigated the relationship between the intake of green tea and periodontal disease. Researchers analyzed data from 940 men who underwent a comprehensive preretirement health assessment. A dentist examined each participant for signs of gum disease and all the men completed a questionnaire about their tea drinking habits.

The results showed that the men who drank the most green tea had the best periodontal health. For every cup of tea consumed per day, there was a modest decrease in the 3 signs of gum disease measured. Periodontal pocket depth, loss of connective tissue attachment and bleeding on probing were all significantly reduced in green tea drinkers.

A comparative study tested the anti-plaque efficacy of a green tea mouthwash A total of 60 healthy children aged 9-14 were given dental treatment (scaling and polishing) to bring their plaque levels to zero. They were then randomly assigned to receive one of three types of mouthwash: 50% green tea extract diluted in water, a commercial fluoride mouthwash or a prescription germicidal mouthwash containing chlorhexidine gluconate. The children were instructed to rinse their mouth twice a day after brushing.

After 2 weeks, the children were assessed for gingival status, plaque, oral hygiene and salivary pH. The green tea extract mouthwash was significantly more effective at reducing plaque than the other 2 mouthwashes. It was equally effective as chlorhexidine gluconate for maintaining healthy gums and more effective than fluoride. Green tea was also equally or more effective for sustaining pH levels and improving oral hygiene.

8. Protects the Liver

alcoholic liver non alcoholic fatty liver disease cancer green tea antioxidants natural health benefits

Oxidative stress plays a key role in alcoholic liver disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and liver cancer.

Green tea catechins can help to protect against liver disease and can even help to treat existing liver conditions. The EGCG in green tea reduces oxidative stress in liver cells through its potent antioxidant activity.

A randomized controlled trial published in the International Journal of Molecular Medicine investigated the effects of green tea in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) patients. NAFLD is a type of liver disease associated with poor diet, obesity, high cholesterol and diabetes.

Researchers recruited 17 NAFLD patients aged 20-70. The participants were randomized to receive cans of green tea beverages containing either 1,080 mg catechins, 200 mg catechins or a placebo with no catechin content. They were instructed to consume the beverages daily with meals. Patients underwent full physical examinations and abdominal CT scans to determine the size of their liver.

After 12 weeks, body fat was significantly reduced in the high-catechin group compared to the other 2 groups. The high-catechin group also had significantly reduced liver fat content and liver inflammation, as well as decreased blood levels of markers associated with liver disease.

A systematic review published in Liver International analyzed data from 10 studies on green tea and liver disease conducted in China, Japan and the USA. Eight studies demonstrated a significant protective role of green tea against diseases such as liver cancer, cirrhosis and fatty liver disease. Four studies showed a positive correlation between green tea consumption and improvement in signs of liver disease. Researchers concluded that increased consumption of green tea may reduce the risk of liver disease.

9. Increases Longevity

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Green tea helps to lower the risk of life-threatening diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s and some types of cancer.

It is also reasonable to assume that drinking green tea would help to protect against premature death. Indeed, a number of population studies have provided evidence that people who regularly drink green tea tend to live longer than non-tea drinkers.

A Japanese study published in JAMA investigated the associations between green tea consumption and mortality. Researchers followed-up a cohort of 40,530 adults aged 40-79 for 11 years. None of the participants had a history of stroke, coronary heart disease or cancer at the start of the study. All of them completed a questionnaire about consumption of green tea, oolong tea and black tea.

Over the course of the study, 4,209 participants died. Analysis of the data showed that drinking green tea reduced the risk of death from all causes. Drinking 5 or more cups of green tea per day lowered the risk of death by 23% in women and 12% in men. (The researchers speculate that the difference may be down to the fact that more men in the study were smokers.) Black tea and oolong tea consumption was not associated with reduced mortality.

A very large Chinese study used data from the Shanghai Health Study to examine the link between green tea and mortality. A total of 51,920 men and 64,034 women aged 40–74 were interviewed in person about their tea drinking habits. The men were followed up for an average of 8 years and the women for an average of 14 years.

Over the course of the study, 2,741 men and 3,776 women died. Overall, green tea consumption reduced the risk of death during the study period by 5%. However, for participants who had never smoked, the risk was reduced by 11%.

A Chinese study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society investigated the association between tea consumption and mortality in the very old. Researchers collected data on frequency of tea drinking from 9,093 adults aged 80 and above. Over the following 7 years, 6,280 participants died. Daily tea drinkers had a 10% reduction in mortality compared with non-tea drinkers.

Final Word

If you regularly drink tea or coffee, switching to green tea in particular is a good way to protect yourself against a variety of diseases. Coffee has its own health benefits, but green tea is a good option if you want to cut down on caffeine.

Don’t be put off by studies where participants had to drink 6-7 cups of green tea per day to reap the most benefits. Most of this research comes from Japan where tea cups hold around 4-6 ounces, much less than a typical 12-ounce coffee mug.

If you don’t like the taste of green tea, supplement capsules are available. These can vary widely in the amount of EGCG and catechins they contain. Learn to read the labels. A capsule containing 175 mg of EGCG is equivalent to drinking 2-3 cups of green tea.


7 Best Natural Home Remedies & Treatment for Allergies & Symptoms Relief

allergies food rhinitis itchy watery eyes sneezing seasonal rash wheezing natural remedies

According to the CDC allergies are the 6th leading cause of chronic illness in the U.S.

The American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology reports that the prevalence of allergic diseases in the industrialized world has continued to rise for more than 50 years. Roughly 8% of U.S. adults have hay fever and 8% of children have a food allergy.

What is an Allergy?

An allergy is an over-reaction of the immune system to a substance in the environment that causes little or no problem for the majority of the population.

The body reacts to an allergen by making antibodies and releasing inflammatory compounds such as histamines. The inflammatory process results in a variety of unpleasant symptoms.

Different Types of Allergies

Allergic Rhinitis

Allergic rhinitis is an inflammation of the nasal tissue caused by an airborne allergen. Symptoms include stuffy nose, runny nose, sneezing, watery eyes and itching. There are 3 main types of allergic rhinitis:

  • Hay fever or seasonal allergic rhinitis is a reaction to mold spores or pollens from trees, grasses or weeds.
  • House dust mite allergy is a reaction to proteins in the excrement of dust mites, microscopic organisms that thrive in warm houses.
  • Pet allergies are a reaction to dander (flaky, dead skin cells) from mammals, most commonly from cats.

Food Allergies

A food allergy is an abnormal immune response to a particular food. According to the FDA, these 8 most common allergenic foods account for 90% of food allergic reactions.

  1. Milk
  2. Eggs
  3. Fish
  4. Crustacean shellfish
  5. Tree nuts
  6. Peanuts
  7. Wheat
  8. Soybeans

Food allergy symptoms range from mild to severe. They can include a raised itchy rash (hives), swelling of the face, difficulty swallowing, an itchy mouth, vomiting, abdominal pain, wheezing or shortness of breath.

Other Allergies

People can have allergic reactions to a wide variety of triggers including medications, insect stings, environmental chemicals, food additives, latex and cockroaches.

7 Research-Based Remedies for Allergies

1. Probiotics

probiotics allergies natural remedies fermented foods gut health

The intestinal microbiome performs a critical role in the development of immune tolerance. Research has shown that certain strains of gut bacteria can help to prevent the immune system from overreacting to non-harmful substances. When these bacteria are not present in the gut microflora, allergic reactions are more likely to occur.

Using probiotics to increase the amount and diversity of beneficial bacteria could be helpful in treating a range of allergies and autoimmune diseases.

A study analyzed data from 1,879 participants in the American Gut Project to determine the association between gut microbial population and the risk of allergies in adults. The participants provided fecal samples and filled in questionnaires about their allergies. More than 80% of subjects reported reactions to at least one allergen.

People with allergies, especially to nuts and seasonal pollen, had markedly fewer bacteria species in their fecal microbiota than people without allergies. Their microbiota showed a reduction in Clostridiales and an increase in Bacteroidales. Researchers noted that this bacterial imbalance could be targeted to improve treatment or prevention of allergies.

A randomized controlled trial published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition tested whether a combination of probiotics could improve quality of life for people with seasonal allergies. During the spring allergy season, 173 participants were randomized into 2 groups. The treatment group received a supplement containing Lactobacillus gasseri, Bifidobacterium bifidum and Bifidobacterium longum. The control group received a placebo supplement.

Throughout the 8-week study, participants completed daily and weekly questionnaires that asked about their allergy symptoms and how those symptoms affected their activities at home and at work. Over the course of the study, the probiotic group showed a significant improvement in quality of life scores compared with the placebo group. The probiotic group also reported a significant decrease in symptoms such as sneezing, stuffy nose and runny nose.

A randomized controlled trial published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology evaluated the use of the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus in combination with oral immunotherapy for treating peanut allergy. Oral immunotherapy involves feeding allergic people very small doses of peanut protein and gradually increasing the amount.

A total of 56 allergic children were randomized to receive either the combination therapy or a placebo. After 18 months of treatment, 82% of children in the probiotic group had no allergic reaction to peanuts compared to less than 4% in the placebo group.

A follow-up study published in the Lancet found that 67% of the original participants who received combined treatment with probiotics were still eating peanuts 4 years later. Four of the treated children had experienced an allergic reaction to peanuts, but none had an anaphylaxis (life threatening) reaction.

Method: Increase the beneficial microbes in your gut by consuming naturally fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchee or tempeh.

Before buying yogurt, read the label to ensure it contains live, active cultures. Many commercial brands are pasteurized, a process that destroys good bacteria along with the bad.

If you use probiotic supplements, take them on an empty stomach and wait at least 30 minutes before eating. This will reduce the chance of bacteria being destroyed by stomach acid.


2. Omega-3

allergies natural remedies omega 3 essential fatty acid anti inflammatory

Omega-3 essential fatty acids have protective effects in inflammatory diseases including allergies.

Research suggests a causal relationship between decreased intake of omega-3 in modern diets and an increasing number of people with allergic diseases. Laboratory tests have shown that omega-3 DHA reduces levels of immunoglobulin E, an antibody that is critical for the onset and maintenance of allergic diseases.

A study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition investigated the association of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids with allergic sensitization and allergic rhinitis. A total of 568 adult participants were interviewed 3 times about their food intake over the previous 24 hours. Researchers used this data to calculate their average dietary intake of essential fatty acids.

Blood tests were used to detect participants’ sensitivity to common allergens including cat and dog dander, pollen and dust mites. Participant’s blood was also tested for levels of fatty acids.

Subjects with the highest levels of EPA (a type of omega-3 found in fish oil) in their blood were significantly less likely to be sensitive to allergens or to suffer from allergic rhinitis. A higher dietary intake of ALA (a type of omega-3 found in nuts) was also associated with a decreased risk of allergic sensitization and allergic rhinitis.

A randomized controlled trial published in Clinical and Experimental Allergy examined the effects of fish oil on the early development of allergies. Researchers randomly assigned 420 infants into 2 groups. The treatment group received fish oil supplements containing 280 mg DHA and 110 mg EPA. The control group were given a placebo.

After 6 months, infants in the fish oil group had significantly higher levels of DHA and EPA and lower levels of omega-6 arachidonic acid. Analysis of blood samples showed that they also had significantly lower allergic responses to house dust mites and milk proteins.

Method: Increase your intake of oily fish such as salmon, trout, mackerel, herring and sardines.

You can also boost your levels of omega-3 by taking a daily supplement containing DHA and EPA. Choose from fish oil, cod liver oil, krill oil or algae oil.

Avoid supplements labeled Omega 3-6-9.   If you eat a standard modern diet, you are probably already getting too much omega-6. Omega-9 (found in olive oil) is not an essential fatty acid.


3. Mediterranean Diet

mediterranean diet allergies natural remedies raw fresh fruits vegetables fish whole wheat anti inflammatory A Mediterranean diet, rich in fruits and vegetables and low in omega-6 fats, has been associated with a lower prevalence of asthma and allergies. This could be due to antioxidants in the fruits and vegetables which seem to have a protective effect.

The use of olive oil in place of vegetable oils and margarine, along with higher consumption of fish, may also help to lower the incidence of allergies by reducing inflammation caused by an imbalance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

A study published in the BMJ journal Thorax examined whether high consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables, typical of a Mediterranean diet, could be protective against allergies and asthma. Researchers collected data from 690 children aged 7–18 on the Greek island of Crete. Parents completed a questionnaire on their child’s allergic and respiratory symptoms along with 58-item food frequency questionnaire. The children underwent skin prick tests with 10 common airborne allergens.

A daily intake of grapes, oranges, apples and fresh tomatoes had a protective effect against wheezing and allergic rhinitis. Children who consumed nuts more than 3 times a week were also less prone to wheezing. In contrast, consumption of margarine raised the risk of wheezing and allergic rhinitis.

A study published in the journal Allergy assessed whether a Mediterranean diet for mothers and their children reduced childhood asthma and allergic rhinitis. Researchers collected data on the food intake of 1, 476 Mexican children over 12 months via questionnaires given to parents. They also used questionnaires to assess the mother’s food intake during pregnancy. Data on childhood symptoms was obtained through an asthma and allergies questionnaire.

For children, greater adherence to a Mediterranean diet including vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts, cereal and fish was associated with having less asthma, wheezing, allergic rhinitis, sneezing and itchy-watery eyes. Children with the highest adherence to the diet reduced their risk of asthma by 60% and their risk of allergy symptoms by 21-36%.

Method: There are different versions of the Mediterranean diet, but here are some general guidelines:

  • Maximize your intake of vegetables, legumes and fruits
  • Switch to wholegrain bread and pasta
  • Increase the amount of fish in your diet (especially oily fish) and limit red meat
  • Use olive oil in place of high omega-6 fats such as corn oil or margarine
  • Snack on fruit and nuts
  • Avoid fast food and processed food
  • Enjoy an occasional glass of red wine with dinner


4. Vitamin D

allergies natural remedies vitamin d deficiency omega 3 cod liver oil sunlight eggs peas cheese dairy fish

Since the 1960s, the incidence of allergic diseases has increased worldwide, with industrialized countries at higher absolute latitudes (furthest away from the equator) having the highest prevalence.

One theory to explain this phenomenon is vitamin D deficiency. As populations become more prosperous and more westernized, more time is spent indoors. Less exposure to sunlight results in lower vitamin D levels.

Vitamin D plays an important role in immune function. Research has shown that the vitamin activates regulatory cells that inhibit the release of chemicals that cause or worsen allergies, so allergies are more likely to occur in people who are vitamin D deficient. Furthermore, vitamin D deficiency can alter the composition of gastrointestinal microbiota, leading to an imbalance in the immune system.

Researchers at Harvard Medical School conducted a study to estimate the incidence of anaphylaxis (a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction) throughout the United States. They analyzed a billing database including 24 pediatric hospitals in 18 states for all patient encounters billed as anaphylaxis over a 5-year period. They then divided the hospitals geographically along a north-south line extending roughly from Washington, DC to Sacramento, California.

Anaphylaxis cases caused by food, serum, immunization and other allergens were all more common in the northern hospitals. The north had double the cases of food allergy anaphylaxis compared with the south. Researchers suggest that this north-south gradient might be due to differences in vitamin D status.

An Australian study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology investigated the role of vitamin D in the development of childhood food allergy. Melbourne, the major Australian city furthest from the equator, has the highest reported prevalence of infantile food allergy in the world. Researchers recruited 5,276 infants attending one-year-old immunization sessions in Melbourne clinics. The children were given skin-prick tests for 4 common food allergens. Blood tests were used to determine vitamin D levels.

Australian children with vitamin D insufficiency were 3 times more likely to be allergic to eggs and 11 times more likely to be allergic to peanuts. They were also more likely to have multiple food allergies compared with children with sufficient levels of vitamin D. Researchers concluded that vitamin D sufficiency may be an important protective factor for food allergy during the first year of life.

Method: If you live in a Northern climate, aim to expose your skin to sunlight for at least 15 minutes a day between April and September.

To keep your vitamin D levels up during the winter, consider taking a daily supplement. Cod liver oil is a good source of vitamin D as well as omega-3.


5. Quercetin

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Quercetin is a polyphenol from the flavonoid group. It is found in varying quantities in a wide range of plant foods including apples, red onions, sweet potato, kale, cranberries and blueberries.

Research has shown that quercetin has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It also inhibits the release of histamines during exposure to allergens. Histamines are known to trigger allergy symptoms such as itching, sneezing, runny nose and watery eyes.

A Japanese study assessed the effect of apple polyphenols on clinical symptoms of persistent allergic rhinitis. The 33 patients enrolled in the study were allergic to house dust mites and had experienced moderate or severe symptoms for at least 3 years. The participants were randomized into 3 groups.

The low-dose group received a drink containing 50 mg of apple polyphenols. The high-dose group received a drink containing 200 mg of apple polyphenols. The control group received a placebo. Patients had one drink a day for 4-weeks.

Nasal signs and symptoms were scored independently before and after treatment using a 4-point scale. Consumption of apple polyphenols led to greater improvements in nasal discharge, sneezing attacks and swelling in the nasal passages compared with the placebo. Nasal discharge improved more in the high-dose group than the low-dose group.

A study published in Acta Bio Medica tested the efficacy of a quercetin supplement for relief of seasonal allergic rhinitis symptoms. At the beginning of the study, the 23 subjects had nasal and eye symptoms typical of seasonal allergic rhinitis. They also tested positive for pollen allergy. Participants were given a supplement containing quercetin along with vitamin D and Perilla frutescens (an Asian herb traditionally used for respiratory complaints).

After one month of supplementation, patients showed a 70% reduction in total symptom scores and had reduced their use of anti-allergic drugs by 73%. They had highly significant reductions in symptoms of sneezing, runny nose, stuffy nose, itchy eyes, watery eyes and red eyes.

Method: You should be able to achieve 50 mg a day of quercetin by including a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet. According to the USDA, a whole apple, eaten with the skin on, contains about 4 mg of quercetin per 100 grams, so a medium apple could contain up to 10 grams. Red onions contain 32 mg of quercetin per 100 grams, kale contains 23 mg, cranberries contain 15 mg and sweet potato contains 10 mg.

The recommended dose for hay fever is 400 mg twice a day in between meals. For general maintenance, you can take 100-250 mg of quercetin up to 3 times a day.

If it is difficult for you to obtain quercetin from diet alone, you can take a supplement during allergy season.


6. Stinging Nettle

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Stinging nettle is an old folk remedy for hay fever.

Laboratory tests have shown that nettle extract inhibits several key inflammatory events that cause the symptoms of seasonal allergies. In particular, it reduces the amount of histamine the body produces in response to an allergen. Some doctors recommend taking freeze-dried stinging nettle supplements before the start of hay fever season.

A clinical trial published in Planta Medica assessed the efficacy of stinging nettle supplements for treating hay fever symptoms. A total of 69 volunteers were randomized into 2 groups. The treatment group were given 300 mg of freeze-dried stinging nettle capsules and the control group were given a placebo. All participants were told to take 2 capsules upon onset of hay fever symptoms and to record their responses within 1 hour. Subjects took an average of 18 doses during the trial period.

In the stinging nettle group, 32% reported dramatic improvement and 84% reported moderate improvement in at least 1 symptom (runny nose, stuffy nose or watery eyes). When asked to make an overall assessment of the nettle supplement, 58% rated it as moderately or highly effective. When asked to compare it to other hay fever medicines, 48% rated it as the same or more effective.

Method: You can ingest stinging nettle as a food, as a tea or in a supplement capsule.

  • Wearing gloves, pick the tops of young nettles before they begin to form flowers. Cooking the nettles neutralizes their sting. Use them like spinach in soups, stews or pasta dishes.
  • To make nettle tea, stir a tablespoon of dried nettle leaf into 8 ounces of boiling water. Steep for about 10 minutes, then strain into a cup.
  • Nettle supplement capsules can range from 200 mg to 900 mg, so follow the dosage instructions on the label. Do not take nettle supplements if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.


7. Butterbur

butterbur allergies natural remedies herb antihistamine white

The herb butterbur has been used as a folk remedy for allergies and asthma.

Laboratory tests have shown that the active ingredient in butterbur, petasin, blocks the action of leukotrienes, inflammatory chemicals involved in allergic reactions. Trials on patients with allergic rhinitis have shown that butterbur is just as effective as antihistamine drugs.

A study published in Phytotherapy Research compared butterbur extract to the pharmaceutical antihistamine fexofenadine (Allegra) for treating allergic rhinitis. Researchers randomized 330 people with hay fever into 3 groups. One group was given butterbur supplement tablets, the comparison group received fexofenadine tablets, and the control group was given a placebo.

Butterbur and fexofenadine were both significantly superior to the placebo in improving allergic rhinitis symptoms. The herbal supplement was just as effective as the pharmaceutical drug, with no significant difference in symptom improvement.

Another randomized controlled trial published in the BMJ compared the efficacy and tolerability of butterbur with the pharmaceutical antihistamine cetirizine (Zirtec). Researchers recruited 125 outpatients who had been diagnosed with seasonal allergic rhinitis. Subjects were randomized to receive either butterbur tablets or cetirizine tablets for 2-weeks. At the beginning and end of treatment, patients filled in symptom questionnaires. They also had a full medical examination and laboratory tests.

Improvement in symptom scores was similar in butterbur and cetirizine treatment groups for all items tested. Clinical assessment scores were also the same for patients in both groups. Some patients in the cetirizine group reported side effects of drowsiness and fatigue. The researchers recommend that butterbur should be considered when the sedating effects of antihistamines must be avoided.

Method: When purchasing butterbur supplements, check the label for phrases like ‘free of pyrrolizidine alkaloids’ or ‘PA free’. Pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs), found in some butterbur products, can damage the liver or lungs if ingested.


Final Word

If you take steps to control your allergies with natural remedies, you may see a range of other health benefits. By ensuring that you get sufficient vitamin D and adopting a diet that includes probiotics, oily fish and a variety of fruits, vegetables and nuts, you can boost your immune system and lower your risk for a range of inflammatory diseases including heart disease and diabetes.

If you take prescription or over-the-counter antihistamines and experience unwanted side-effects, it may be worth experimenting with herbal alternatives. Keep a daily symptoms diary to discover which remedies work best for you.

8 Best Natural Home Remedies & Treatment for Back Pain Relief

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Back pain is a very common condition. According to the NIH, about 80% percent of adults suffer from lower back pain at some point in their lifetime. It is the greatest cause of work-related disability and one of the top reasons for workplace absences.

The American Chiropractic Association notes that back pain is the second most common reason for visits to the doctor (after respiratory infections) and that half of all working Americans experience back pain symptoms each year.

Back pain can be felt anywhere from the neck down, but the majority of cases are associated with the lower back or lumbar spine. The pain can develop due to problems with the bones, muscles, ligaments, joints, nerves or spinal cord. However, most cases are described as ‘non-specific’, meaning there is no obvious cause.

Back pain tends to last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. The pain is considered ‘chronic’ if it persists for more than three months.

Usual treatments for acute back pain include over-the-counter analgesics such as ibuprofen, muscle relaxers or prescription painkillers such as codeine.

Severe or chronic back pain may be treated with physical therapy or manual therapy (chiropractic). Surgery is only recommended for specific medical conditions and used as a last resort.

None of the home remedies here will provide instant pain relief. However, they can help to reduce the intensity and frequency of your back pain over time. They can also help to lower your risk of experiencing back pain in the future.

8 Evidence-Based Home Remedies for Back Pain

1. Vitamin D

vitamin d sunlight inflammation weak bones muscles back pain natural remedies

Vitamin D is vital for calcium absorption and building strong bones. A deficiency in vitamin D can lead to the softening of bone surfaces in the spine, weaker muscles in the back and inflammation in the vertebrae.

Research has shown that patients with low back pain have significantly lower blood levels of vitamin D than healthy controls.

A Brazilian study investigated the association between back pain and vitamin D deficiency in 9,305 postmenopausal women. Blood tests showed that 24% of the women had low levels of vitamin D. Questionnaires revealed that they had more back pain than women with normal vitamin D levels, and the pain was more frequent and more severe. The low vitamin D participants also reported more restrictions to daily activities such as putting on socks or getting out of a car.

A clinical trial published in Pain Physician assessed the impact of vitamin D supplementation on 68 patients with chronic lower back pain. All of the participants were deficient in vitamin D and had been experiencing back pain for at least 3 months. They filled out pain and disability questionnaires at intervals throughout the study.

Patients were given high-dose vitamin D supplements for 8 weeks or until blood tests showed that their vitamin D levels were within normal range. They were then given a maintenance dose of vitamin D for 6-months.

Pain scores significantly decreased after 2 months of supplementation. After 6 months, 63% of patients achieved effective pain relief, defined as a 50% or greater reduction in pain scores. Patients also had a significant reduction in functional disability.

Method: While foods such as oily fish, eggs, liver and mushrooms provide some vitamin D, it’s difficult to obtain all you need from your diet.

Your body produces vitamin D in response to UV rays of sunlight. If you live in a sunny climate, try to expose your skin to the sun for at least 15 minutes a day between the hours of 12 pm to 2 pm.

If you live in a climate with cold, dark winters, you may need a daily 10 mcg vitamin D supplement to avoid deficiency. Vitamin D also helps to battle against seasonal anxiety and depression.


2. Medium-Firm Mattress

mattress medium firm stable support spine back pain side sleeping natural remedies

Although extra-firm mattresses are often recommended for people with back pain, a medium-firm mattress may be a better choice.

Research has shown that when a person lies on their side on a hard mattress, only the hip and shoulder are supported and the spine flexes toward the mattress. On a soft mattress, the hip and shoulder sink down and the spine bends away from the mattress. A medium-firm mattress offers the best support for the lower back.

A controlled trial published in The Lancet assessed the effect of mattress firmness on 313 patients with chronic lower back pain. The participants were randomly assigned to sleep on either a firm mattress or a medium firm mattress. They were not told which type of mattress they had received.

After 90 days, the group who slept on the medium-firm mattresses had less pain in bed, less pain on rising and less disability than patients with firm mattresses. Throughout the study, participants with medium-firm mattresses also had less lower back pain during the day and while lying in bed.

A study published in Applied Ergonomics tested the effect of prescribed mattresses on 27 patients diagnosed with lower back pain and stiffness. For 3 weeks, participants slept in their own beds and rated their back and shoulder pain, sleep quality and comfort. The patients’ beds were then replaced with medium-firm mattresses layered with foam and latex. They continued rating their pain and sleep quality for the following 12 weeks.

Back pain and stiffness progressively improved while sleeping on the new mattress and physical discomfort decreased. There was also a significant decrease in the number of ‘poor sleep days’ per week.

In a study published in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine, 59 men and women kept a record of their back pain and sleep quality for 4-weeks while sleeping in their own beds. They also completed a stress questionnaire. Participants’ beds were then replaced with new medium-firm ones. They rated their back discomfort and sleep quality for a further 4 weeks and repeated the stress questionnaire.

The medium-firm bedding systems reduced back pain by approximately 48% and improved sleep quality by 55%. Symptoms of stress also significantly decreased.

Method: If your mattress is uncomfortably hard or soft and saggy, it may well be contributing to your back pain. While a new medium-firm mattress is an expensive investment, it could be cheaper than repeated visits to a chiropractor.

If you can’t afford a new mattress, look for bargain deals on a memory foam mattress topper. A medium-density foam (60kg/m³) will provide medium-firm support.


3. Fish Oil

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Fish oil, rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids, has been shown to reduce pain and inflammation associated with a range of health conditions.

For example, a meta-analysis of 17 randomized, controlled trials found that omega-3 supplementation reduced joint pain and stiffness in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and menstrual cramps. Research suggests that the omega-3 found in fish oil could also be an effective treatment for back pain.

A study published in Surgical Neurology investigated the use of fish oil for pain relief. Researchers followed 250 participants that had been evaluated by a neurosurgeon for neck or back pain. Most of the patients had been diagnosed with degenerative disc disease (DDD), and all of them were taking prescription non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to control their pain.

For 2 weeks, the participants were given daily fish oil supplements containing 2,400 mg of omega-3 EFAs. Patients were then asked to cut the dosage of omega-3 in half and were given the option to reduce their use of NSAID medications.

After an average of 75 days on fish oil, patients returned questionnaires about spine pain, joint pain and level of NSAID usage. The survey data showed that 60% of patients had an improvement in overall pain and joint pain, and 80% were satisfied with their improvement. As a result, 59% of patients had stopped taking NSAIDs and 88% said they would continue to take fish oil supplements.

More evidence that fish oil can reduce back pain comes from a trial involving 20 patients with asthenopia, the medical term for eye-strain. Asthemopia is often associated with back pain because both conditions are common in people who sit in front of computer screens for hours at a time.

The participants were randomized into 2 groups. The treatment group received a supplement containing fish oil along with bilberry extract and lutein (thought to be effective for maintaining eye health). The other group received a placebo.

Before and after 4 weeks of supplementation, subjects completed a questionnaire about their symptoms. Symptoms such as eye fatigue, eye flicker and eye redness did not improve significantly more in the treatment group than in the placebo group. However, the fish oil supplement did significantly improve symptoms of low back pain and shoulder stiffness.

Method: You can increase the amount of omega-3 in your diet by eating at least 2 portions of oily fish a week. Examples include trout, salmon, fresh tuna, mackerel, herring and sardines.

Alternatively, take a fish oil supplement or an algae-based omega-3 supplement containing DHA and EPA.


4. Yoga

yoga stretches poses back pain strengthen muscles flexibility natural remedies

Several aspects of yoga practice can reduce back pain. Holding certain yoga positions strengthens muscles in the back.

Yoga stretches reduce muscle tension and promote flexibility in back muscles and joints. Yoga poses improve posture, align the body, and help to maintain the natural curvature of the spine.

A randomized trial published in the Annals of Internal Medicine compared the effectiveness of yoga and usual care for back pain. Researchers recruited 313 volunteers who had visited a general medical practice with chronic or recurrent low back pain.

Participants were randomized into 2 groups. The intervention group was offered a 3-month program of weekly 75-minute yoga classes. The control group continued with usual care. All participants filled in a standard back pain and disability questionnaire at the beginning and end of the study. The yoga group had significantly greater improvements in back function at 3, 6, and 12 months compared to the usual care group.

A randomized trial compared the effectiveness of yoga and physical therapy for chronic lower back pain. A total of 320 patients being treated for back pain were assigned to 3 groups. One group received yoga classes every week for 3 months, one group had 15 visits to a physical therapist over 3 months, and a third group received self-help educational materials. During the 9-month maintenance phase of the study, patients continued yoga or physical therapy exercises at home.

The yoga and physical therapy groups showed almost the same amount of improvement in pain and physical function at 3 months and one year. Both interventions produced similar improved scores for quality of life. The yoga and physical therapy groups were also about 21% less likely to use pain medication after 3 months compared to the education group. Researchers concluded that yoga was just as beneficial as standard physical therapy for treating lower back pain.

Method: If it’s inconvenient for you to attend a yoga class, you can practice at home. Videos that demonstrate yoga poses for back pain are available online. You can also purchase ‘yoga for back pain’ DVDs. For best results, aim to do at least two 60-minute yoga sessions a week.


5. Sleep

good sleep growth hormone muscle repair back pain joint spine natural remedies

Lack of sleep aggravates back pain in several ways. During sleep, the body releases growth hormones which stimulate muscle repair. Without adequate sleep, strained back muscles don’t have a chance to recover and are less able to support the spine and keep it in aligned.

Research has shown that the spinal discs have an internal 24-hour body clock. Disruptions to circadian rhythms due to irregular or inadequate sleep may contribute to degenerative intervertebral disc disease. In addition, lack of sleep lowers the pain threshold, intensifying the perception of backache.

A study published in Arthritis and Rheumatology investigated the effect of sleep quality and pain intensity in patients with acute lower back pain. Researchers analyzed data from 1,246 patients with recent-onset lower back pain. At the beginning of the study, and for the following 12 weeks, patients recorded their sleep quality on a 4-point scale ranging from ‘very bad’ to ‘very good’. They also rated their back pain on a 10-point scale ranging from ‘no pain’ to ‘worst possible pain’.

Analysis of the data showed that for every one-point decrease in sleep quality, back pain intensity increased by two points. On the 10-point scale, patients with very bad sleep quality rated their pain as 6 points higher than patients with very good sleep quality.

A Finnish study investigated the association between sleep disturbances and lower back pain in 360 working male firefighters. Participants filled in health questionnaires at the beginning of the study that asked them to estimate how many days they had experienced radiating or local lower back pain in the last 12 months. They also filled in a questionnaire about sleep disturbances and daytime fatigue. The men provided additional data after 3 years and at the end of the 13-year study.

The prevalence of radiating lower back pain increased from 16 to 23% during the 3-year follow-up and rose to 29% during the 13-year follow-up. Participants who reported sleep problems at the beginning of the study were almost two and a half times more likely to develop new back pain or to develop chronic radiating back pain.

A study published in the Clinical Journal of Pain examined the bidirectional relationship between back pain and sleep quality. A total of 80 patients with lower back pain completed a sleep diary. A subgroup of 50 patients wore an electronic armband to measure their sleep over the course of a week. All of the participants rated their back-pain intensity twice a day.

The data showed that difficulty falling sleep, waking after sleep onset, or poor quality sleep were all followed by a day with higher back-pain intensity. The researchers detected a vicious cycle. A day with higher back pain scores was associated with a decrease in sleep quality the following night, as well as an increase in time taken to fall asleep and waking up during the night.

Method: Follow these 7 Tips on How to Get Better Sleep.


6. Sitting Time

sitting time office computer use standing breaks back pain stiffness natural remedies

Increasing numbers of people in the industrialized world spend most of their working day seated in an office chair. Sitting increases stress on the spine and back muscles.

Research has shown that individuals who are sedentary in an office environment are more prone to back pain than those who move around more. Fortunately, research also suggests a simple solution to reduce lower back pain symptoms: frequent, short, standing rest breaks.

A Danish study investigated the association between sitting time and lower back pain in 201 blue-collar workers. Participants were recruited from 7 occupations with varying amounts of time spent seated. Workers were asked to rate their worst intensity of lower back pain during the past month on a 10-point scale ranging from ‘no pain’ to ‘worst imaginable pain’.

All of the participants were fitted with accelerometers on their thighs and torso which they wore for 4 continuous days. The devices objectively measured sitting time and recorded the data. Analysis showed that high sitting time was positively associated with high lower back pain for occupational sitting time, leisure sitting time and total sitting time.

A study published in Human Factors compared interventions aimed at reducing musculoskeletal discomfort in a sedentary workplace. Four different workstations were installed in a call center: a conventional workstation, a sit-stand workstation, a conventional workstation with software that reminded workers to take a standing break, and a sit-stand workstation with break-reminder software. Worker discomfort was measured by a survey and by video monitoring.

Short-term discomfort in the shoulders, upper back and lower back was significantly reduced when workers were periodically reminded to take a break, independent of workstation type. Productivity increased by about 10%.

Method: If you spend most of the day sitting in front of a computer screen, try to move every 20 minutes. Stand, straighten your back and roll your shoulders.

If you can, set an alarm on your PC or phone to remind you to get up once an hour and walk to the water-cooler, coffee machine or around the office.

Use your breaks to take short outdoor walks rather than eating at your desk or checking email. Take every opportunity to move. If you don’t need to type-in data, stand and pace when talking on the phone.


7. Sitting Posture

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One study of office workers found that subjects largely worked in a screen-oriented upright position and rarely reclined in their seats.

While it’s true that slouching over a desk is bad for your spine, constantly sitting up straight can also lead to back pain. A reclining position will shift your weight onto the backrest, allowing back muscles to relax and takes the pressure off spinal discs.

A study presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America used whole-body positional MRIs to determine which sitting position put the least biomechanical stress on the lumbar spine. The researchers recruited 22 healthy volunteers with no history of back pain and asked them to assume 3 different sitting positions.

They were scanned slouching forward at about a 70-degree angle, sitting straight upright at a 90-degree angle or reclining backward at a 135-degree angle. Measurements were taken of spinal disk height and movement in each position.

The relaxed, reclining sitting position was shown to cause the least strain on the lumbar spine, most significantly when compared with an upright seating posture.

Method: Experiment with adjusting your office chair so that you naturally lean back slightly rather than sitting up straight or leaning forward. Sit with your feet flat on the floor. Your back should be in contact with, and supported by the chair.

If you need to sit upright to type, adopt a relining position when performing other tasks such as reading reports.


8. Exercise

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A general exercise program that improves muscular strength, flexibility and aerobic fitness can help to decrease back pain in several ways:

  • Increased core muscular strength supports the lumbar spine.
  • Increased flexibility of tendons and ligaments in the back enhances range of motion and functionality.
  • Aerobic exercise stimulates the flow of blood and nutrients to soft tissues in the back, accelerating the healing process and reducing stiffness.
  • Exercise raises levels of endorphins, the brain’s ‘feel good’ chemicals, providing a natural form of pain relief.

A systematic review published in Healthcare examined the effects of exercise and physical activity on back pain. Researchers complied data from 14 studies of exercise intervention programs for adults with non-specific chronic lower back pain.

They found that all types of exercise studied were beneficial for back pain sufferers including moderate aerobic exercise, muscle strength and core stabilization exercises, and stretching and flexibility exercises such as Pilates.

A randomized controlled trial published in Clinical Rehabilitation compared an aerobic walking program and a muscle strengthening program for 52 sedentary patients with chronic lower back pain. One group performed moderate-intensity treadmill walking. The other group conducted a series of muscle strengthening exercises. Both programs involved 2 sessions a week for 6-weeks.

At the beginning and end of the study, patients conducted a 6-minute walking test and back muscle endurance test. They also filled in questionnaires about back pain and disability.

Both exercise groups significantly improved in all outcome measures. Back pain was reduced by 20% in the aerobic exercise group and 15% in the muscle strengthening group.

Method: The ideal exercise program for back pain involves muscle strengthening exercises, aerobic activity and flexibility exercises. However, most people find it difficult to stick to this type of regime. Since any form of moderate intensity exercise is helpful for back pain, choose a type of physical activity that you enjoy and can fit into your daily routine.

You don’t need to join a gym or a sports team. Around 150 minutes per week of brisk walking, cycling, hiking, swimming or dancing can all be beneficial.


Final Word

Back pain is often preceded by minor discomfort, so listen to your body. Be aware of your posture and avoid positions (such as slouching or twisting) that strain your spine or back muscles.

If you’re sitting and notice your back muscles start to feel tense, stand up and stretch or go for a walk. If you can’t find a comfortable sleeping position, or frequently wake up with a stiff back, consider a new mattress.

Be sure to see your doctor if your back pain is accompanied by other worrying or worsening symptoms. Back pain that occurs along with abdominal pain, numbness in the groin or buttocks, incontinence, or weakness in the legs could be the sign of a serious problem.

7 Best Natural Home Remedies & Treatment for Eczema & Psoriasis Relief

Eczema psoriasis skin disease red itchy patches dry cracked bumps natural remedies

Eczema and psoriasis are distinct skin diseases with a number of things in common. Both are related to problems with the immune system.

Eczema and psoriasis result in symptoms of inflamed, red, cracking and itching skin. Both are subject to flare-ups and remission periods.

The standard treatments for eczema and psoriasis are also the same, such as corticosteroid creams, and in severe cases, immunosuppressant medications. The natural remedies described below may be equally helpful for both conditions.


Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a common skin condition. According to the NIH, it affects 10-20% of children and 5-10% of adults.

The majority of eczema cases develop between the ages of 1-5 years old. While it is primarily a childhood disease, some cases persist into adolescence and adulthood. Eczema tends to occur periodically. It can even clear up for years before returning.

Eczema symptoms can include:

  • Discolored skin patches on various parts of the body
  • Dry, thickened, cracked or scaly skin
  • Small, raised bumps that may leak fluid and crust over
  • Itching, which may be severe, often worse at night
  • Raw, swollen sensitive skin

Atopic dermatitis is an inflammatory disorder caused by an immune system imbalance. Children with eczema often develop autoimmune disorders such as asthma and allergies.


Psoriasis vulgaris is a chronic autoimmune disease characterized by an overgrowth of skin cells. A 2013 World Health Organization report notes that while the worldwide prevalence of psoriasis is around 2%, studies in developed countries show prevalence rates of 4.6% on average.

Psoriasis can occur at all ages, but is primarily seen in adults. Though the condition is lifelong, the severity and areas of affected skin can vary over time. Most types of psoriasis cause symptoms for weeks or months that subside for a time until the next flare up.

Psoriasis symptoms can include:

  • Red plaques of skin covered in loose silvery scales
  • Small scaly spots
  • Skin that cracks and bleeds
  • Pain and itching
  • Stiff, swollen joints

Psoriasis is caused by an overactive immune system that attacks healthy skin. White blood cells trigger inflammation and increased, rapid production of skin cells, which results in psoriasis plaques.

7 Science-Backed Natural Remedies for Eczema & Psoriasis

1. Fish Oil

fish oil eczema psoriasis omega 3-6 fatty acids anti inflammatory allergies natural remedies

Humans evolved on a diet containing equal amounts of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Modern Western diets tend to contain about 15 times more omega-6 than omega-3.

Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory effects, and a diet low in omega-3 increases the risk for many inflammatory diseases, including eczema and psoriasis. The best dietary source of omega-3 is oily fish.

Studies have shown that children who eat fish regularly are less likely to develop eczema and that fish oil or omega-3 supplements can improve symptoms for eczema patients.

In a Danish study, 26 patients with psoriasis were put on a low-fat diet supplemented with 30 ml of fish oil daily. After 4 months, 58% of the patients showed moderate or excellent improvement and 19% showed mild improvement. Laboratory tests revealed that the fish oil helped to inhibit the production of an inflammatory substance called leukotriene B4 which plays a role in eczema and psoriasis.

In a study published in the Journal of Internal Medicine, patients with atopic dermatitis were divided into 2 groups. The experimental group received a daily supplement containing 10 grams of fish oil. The control group received a supplement containing olive oil. After 12 weeks, the fish oil group had a significant improvement in itchiness and in overall severity of eczema.

A Swedish study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition evaluated the effect of early fish consumption on allergic diseases. Researchers followed 3,285 children from birth to age 12. Approximately every 4 years, parents filled in questionnaires about lifestyle factors and symptoms of allergic diseases in their children.   At age 8, all the children had their blood tested for markers of common allergies.

The researchers analyzed data on the frequency of fish consumption at age 1, and signs of allergic diseases up to age 12. They found that those who ate fish at least twice a month in their first year were 75% less likely to develop eczema, asthma, seasonal allergies or food allergies.

A randomized controlled trial published in the British Journal of Dermatology examined the efficacy of omega-3 supplementation on 53 adult patients suffering from atopic eczema. The treatment group received a daily supplement containing 5.4 grams of DHA (a type of omega-3 fatty acids found in fish). The control group received a supplement containing omega-6 fatty acids. After 8 weeks, the omega-3 group showed a significant clinical improvement in atopic eczema compared to the control group. They also had a significant reduction in blood markers for inflammation.

Method: Aim to eat at least 2 portions of oily fish a week. Examples include salmon, trout, mackerel, swordfish, sardines, herring and fresh tuna.

Try to reduce your consumption of high omega-6 vegetable oils such as sunflower oil or corn oil and replace them with olive oil or coconut oil.

Fish oil contains substantial amounts of vitamin A, so if you choose to take a fish oil supplement, do not combine it with a multivitamin. Too much vitamin A can be toxic.


2. Probiotics

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People with eczema and other atopic diseases tend to have different gut bacteria than healthy people.

Digestive diseases can lead to weakened immune systems, mental health disorders, and neurological diseases. Other health issues that are affected by digestive disorders include thyroid imbalances, joint pain, skin disorders, chronic fatigue, autism, ADHD, and numerous other disorders.

Everyone, including children can benefit from probiotics. A lot of times, our beneficial microbes are accidentally wiped out by systems that are intended to get rid of bad bacteria.

A healthy gut helps our body to fight against diseases and cancer-causing cells. 80 percent of our immune system is found in our digestive system, so it is vital to maintain appropriate levels of probiotics in our gastro-intestinal system.

One study found that several species known to be associated with inflammation were significantly higher in infants with eczema. These infants also had lower levels of good bacteria that have anti-inflammatory properties. It may be possible to prevent or treat eczema by using probiotics to change the mix of gut bacteria. However, it’s unclear which particular strains of bacteria are most effective.

A study published in Experimental and Therapeutic Medicine tested the use of probiotics for the treatment of eczema in infants. Researchers randomly assigned 40 babies with eczema to treatment and control groups. All of the infants were scored using a standard diagnostic index for atopic dermatitis. Researchers also measured levels of Bifidobacterium bifidum (an anti-inflammatory bacteria) in the stool of each infant.

The babies in the treatment group received B. bifidum supplements for 4 weeks. Levels of B. bifidum in their stool samples increased sharply and their scores on the atopic dermatitis index were notably reduced. There were no significant changes in bacteria levels or dermatitis scores in the control group.

A placebo-controlled trial published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology investigated the effects of Lactobacillus sakei supplementation in 75 children with atopic eczema–dermatitis syndrome. Patients aged 2-10 years old were randomized to receive either a daily L sakei supplement or a daily placebo. They were scored on a diagnostic index of dermatitis before and after 12 weeks of treatment. Their blood was also tested for markers of inflammation.

There was a 31% average improvement in dermatitis scores in the probiotic group compared with a 13% improvement in the control group. Significantly more patients in the treatment group achieved improvements of at least 50%. The probiotic group also had lower levels of inflammation markers which were significantly correlated with their lower dermatitis scores.

A small study published in Clinical and Experimental Allergy tested the effects of a probiotic yogurt on 10 adult patients with intractable atopic dermatitis. The participants were randomized to receive either a yogurt containing Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. Lactis or a placebo yogurt. After 4 weeks, they were crossed over to the alternative treatment. After each intervention, symptom scores were recorded and stool samples were taken.

Scores for itch and burning improved when patients ate the probiotic yogurt. Tests showed that the probiotic dynamically altered the patients’ microbiota, increasing levels of beneficial bacteria which tend to be lower in people with dermatitis.

Method: Add probiotic foods to your diet such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, Kimchi or raw milk. If you buy a commercial yogurt, look for one that contains live cultures of Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium and Streptococcus thermophilus.

If you choose to try a probiotic supplement, make sure it contains at least 10-15 billion CFU (colony forming units). A multi-species supplement will give you the best chance of improving your microbiome.

Some probiotic supplements also contain prebiotics, which feed the good bacteria and help it to multiply more quickly.


3. Oatmeal

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Oats contain phenolic compounds called avenanthramides that have anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. When oats are applied topically to the skin, the avenanthramides act to reduce itching and irritation.

The high concentration of starches and beta-glucan in oats help to protect skin and keep it moisturized. Very finely ground oatmeal, known as colloidal oatmeal, is a common ingredient in lotions for dry skin or dermatitis.

Atopic dermatitis and psoriasis are often treated with medications such as topical corticosteroids.

A study published in Dermatology tested whether a topical emollient made with oats could reduce the amount of topical corticosteroids used in infants with atopic dermatitis. A total of 173 babies were randomly divided into 2 groups. The treatment group received the oats emollient and the control group did not. Parents who treated their babies with the oats emollient reduced their use of corticosteroid cream by 42%, and the infants’ dermatitis showed significant improvement. Infants’ and parents’ quality of life also significantly improved.

A clinical study presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology evaluated an oat-based skincare regimen for atopic dermatitis. A total of 50 dermatitis patients were randomized into 2 groups. The treatment group received an oat-based body cream to be used twice daily (or more often if required) and an oat-based body wash to be used once daily in the shower or bath. After 2 weeks, the patients who used the oat products had significant improvements in scores of eczema severity and perceived itchiness. They also reported decreased discomfort and improved skin texture.

Two clinical trials published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology evaluated the effects of a 1% colloidal oatmeal cream on patients with atopic dermatitis. In the first trial, 29 patients used the cream for 14 days. Itch severity improved immediately after application. Scores on a dermatitis assessment and eczema severity index improved by day 3. After 2 weeks, 83% of patients has a 20% or greater improvement in itch and 86% had a 20% or greater improvement in dermatitis assessment scores.

A follow-up trial evaluated the moisturizing effects of the oatmeal cream in 30 dermatitis patients. Water loss through the skin was significantly reduced and skin hydration was significantly increased.

Method: Oatmeal baths, especially with colloidal oatmeal, are a popular home remedy for eczema and psoriasis. It forms a milky dispersion that keeps the oats suspended in the water for maximum contact with your skin. You can purchase colloidal oatmeal, but it’s easy to make your own:

  • Grind whole oats in a blender until they are the texture of whole wheat flour.
  • Run a warm bath and shake about one cup of colloidal oatmeal into the water as it fills.
  • Stir the water with your hand until the oats dissolve, then soak for 15 minutes.


4. Vitamin D

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People with autoimmune diseases often have a genetic problem which leads to difficulties with vitamin D metabolism, causing a deficiency.

A study conducted over one year found that 58% of patients with chronic plaque psoriasis were deficient in vitamin D compared to 30% of healthy controls. In winter, vitamin D deficiency rose to 81% in psoriasis patients, but remained at 30% for the control group.

Vitamin D performs many biological functions that can help improve skin disorders. It promotes the integrity of the skin permeability barrier, suppresses inflammatory responses, enhances antimicrobial activity and inhibits over-proliferation of skin cells.

Studies have shown that vitamin D supplementation is a safe and effective treatment for eczema and psoriasis.

A Japanese open-design study tested the effects of vitamin D3 on 17 patients with psoriasis. Most of the patients had been receiving treatment for their condition, but agreed to stop taking all psoriasis medication before the start of the study. All patients were given 1 microgram of oral vitamin D3 daily. Their psoriasis was clinically evaluated every 2 weeks. After 6 months, 76% of patients displayed moderate or greater improvement.

A clinical trial published in the British Journal of Dermatology assessed efficacy of oral vitamin D3 in 85 psoriasis patients. The patients were given 0.05 micrograms of vitamin D3 daily. Their dose was increased by 0.05 micrograms every 2 weeks as long as calcium concentrations in the urine remained normal. Over the course of the study, 88% of patients has some level of clinical improvement of psoriasis and 27% had complete improvement. After 6 months of vitamin D3 therapy, the average psoriasis area severity index score was reduced from 18 to 10.

A study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology investigated the effects of vitamin D on atopic dermatitis. The researchers measured the vitamin D levels of 95 dermatitis patients and assessed the severity of their condition. They found that the frequency of winter exacerbations and of bacterial skin infections were higher in patients who had low levels of vitamin D. They then selected 22 patients with vitamin D deficiency and a history of skin infections to receive a 2000 IU vitamin D3 supplement daily. After 3 months, their atopic dermatitis symptoms showed significant improvement.

A randomized controlled trial published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology tested vitamin D supplementation for winter-related atopic dermatitis in children. A total of 107 dermatitis patients aged 2-17 were randomly assigned to receive 1000 IU of vitamin D3 per day or a placebo. After one month, the children who took vitamin D had a clinically and statistically significant improvement in scores on an eczema severity index.

Method: Sun-exposure raises levels of vitamin D in the skin and can be helpful for eczema and psoriasis, however it’s important to take precautions to avoid sunburn. The best source of vitamin D is through dietary sources such as fish oil, however, if you have problems metabolizing vitamin D, you may need to take a daily supplement instead.


5. Oolong Tea

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Oolong is a semi-green partially fermented tea. Studies have demonstrated that tea-drinking can suppress certain types of allergic reactions. Researchers believe that the polyphenols in oolong tea may have anti-allergic properties which help to prevent overactive immune responses.

A trial published in the Archives of Dermatology tested the effectiveness of oolong tea in 118 patients diagnosed with refractory atopic dermatitis. All of the participants were receiving standard eczema treatments at an outpatient clinic. They were instructed to drink a cup of oolong tea 3 times a day after meals. Representative skin sites were photographed at various intervals throughout the study.

After one month, 63% of patients showed a marked or moderate improvement. The initial severity of eczema had no influence on the clinical outcome. After 6 months, 54% of patients still showed a good response.

Method: To prepare the tea from loose leaves, use 2 teaspoons per cup, add freshly boiled water, steep for 5-minutes and strain. Drink 3-5 cups a day. Oolong tea has about half as much caffeine as coffee.


6. Oregon Grape Root

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Oregon grape (Mahonia aquifolium) is not a grapevine, but a bush that produces waxy blue berries. It is commonly found in the forests of the North American Pacific coast.

The bark and root of the plant contains alkaloids with antifungal, antimicrobial and antioxidant properties.

Research on skin cells from patients with psoriasis has shown that Oregon grape root inhibits abnormal skin cell growth and reduces inflammation.

A study conducted by the Dermatology and Cosmetic Center investigated the efficacy and safety of a topical cream containing Oregon grape extract for mild-to-moderate psoriasis. A total of 200 subjects were randomized to use either the Oregon grape cream or a placebo twice a day for 12 weeks. At intervals throughout the study, a physician assessed patients’ symptoms on a psoriasis severity index and patients completed a quality of life questionnaire. Both psoriasis severity and quality of life significantly improved for subjects in the Oregon grape extract group compared to those in the control group.

A review in the American Journal of Therapeutics examined the worldwide clinical experience with Oregon grape extract topical cream for the treatment of plaque psoriasis. Reports on 3 clinical trials conducted in different countries all showed statistically significant favorable results.

In one study, patients with bilateral psoriasis were treated with Oregon grape oil cream on one side their bodies and Dovonex cream (a prescription psoriasis medication) on the other. When patients were asked to compare the results, 63% rated the Oregon grape oil cream as equal to or better than the standard dermatological cream. The researchers concluded that Oregon grape is a safe and effective treatment for patients with mild-to-moderate psoriasis.

Method: Oregon grape root creams and lotions are available from herbal product retailers. Alternatively, you can make your own by mixing 15 drops of Oregon grape essential oil into one ounce of jojoba oil.


7. Evening Primrose Oil

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One factor in the development of atopic eczema may be a defect in the functioning of an enzyme that converts linoleic acid (found in common vegetable oils) to gamma linolenic acid.

Gamma linolenic acid is an omega-6 essential fatty acid which the body converts to substances that decrease inflammation and inhibits skin cell growth. Evening primrose oil is a rich source of gamma linolenic acid and several studies have found that it is an effective treatment for eczema.

A meta-analysis published in the British Journal of Dermatology analyzed 9 controlled trials of evening primrose oil for the treatment of atopic eczema. Four of the studies were parallel trials in which one group of patients was treated with evening primrose oil and another group was simultaneously treated with a placebo. The other 5 studies were crossover trials in which the same subjects were treated with both evening primrose oil and a placebo in random order. In all of the studies, doctors and patients both scored the severity of eczema symptoms before and after treatment.

In the parallel studies, the effect of evening primrose oil was significantly better than the placebo. Both patient’s and doctor’s scores for severity of eczema showed a highly significant improvement after treatment with evening primrose oil.

Results from the crossover trials were similar, with both patient’s and doctor’s scores for eczema symptoms showed improvement after the evening primrose oil treatment. There was a substantial and highly significant improvement in itchiness in response to the evening primrose oil, whereas this symptom showed no response with the placebo.

In studies where blood levels of gamma linolenic acid were measured, there was a positive correlation between improvements in eczema severity scores and a rise in fatty acid levels.

Method: Take one 1,000 mg or two 500 mg evening primrose oil supplement capsules daily with a meal.


Final Word

No two cases of eczema or psoriasis are exactly the same and a remedy that works for someone else might not be as effective for you. The only way to discover the best methods to improve your specific symptoms is to try out a number of different remedies.

If you experiment with supplements, probiotics, oolong tea or dietary changes, keep in mind that they will take time to make changes to your immune system and inflammatory responses. Most of the studies discussed above treated patients for 4-6 months, so don’t give up on a method if you fail to see immediate results.

12 Best Essential Oils You Need to Know About – Health Benefits & Uses

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Fragrant plants have been used in folk medicine for thousands of years across many cultures. Methods for capturing the ‘essence’ of plants were first discovered in the Middle Ages.

Essential oils are distilled or extracted from large quantities of flowers, leaves, peels, resin, bark or roots. For example, it takes about 220 pounds of lavender flowers to make one pound of lavender oil.

This makes essential oils a highly concentrated source of phytochemicals. Phytochemicals help the plants thrive and also wards off unwanted pathogens. Each type of oil has a different chemical composition that affects its scent and its benefits for mental or physical health.

Scientists are exploring the use of essential oils in the treatment of various disorders, especially where the standard drug therapy has unwanted side effects.

Different essential oils can be inhaled, used topically or, in some cases, taken orally. Oils are helpful in treating a wide range of conditions due to their variety of phytochemicals they each contain. These 12 essential oils and 3 carrier oils described below all have health benefits supported by scientific research.

12 Essential Oils & Their Benefits

1. Lavender Oil

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An old folk remedy for insomnia is to sleep on a pillow stuffed with lavender flowers. Research has confirmed that lavender oil is an effective sleep aid.

It seems to work by slowing the activity of the central nervous system. Inhaling the scent of lavender has a relaxing, soothing effect which can also help improve symptoms of anxiety.

The scent of lavender has even been used to calm fearful patients in dentists’ waiting rooms. Lavender oil also has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties that allow it to be used as an effective pain reliever.


Researchers at the University of Minnesota investigated the impact of lavender oil on 79 students who reported having sleep issues. All of the participants filled in questionnaires that asked about their quality of sleep and general well-being. They were also taught to practice good sleep hygiene.

In this randomized controlled trial, half of the students received a lavender inhalation patch and half received a placebo patch to wear on their chest in bed. After 5 nights of sleeping with the patches, the participants repeated filling in the questionnaires. Compared to the control group, the lavender oil group showed a significant improvement in scores for sleeping well, feeling energized and having vibrant senses, as well as an overall improvement in well-being.


A controlled clinical study published in the journal Phytomedicine tested the efficacy of a lavender oil supplement for patients with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). GAD affects 6.8 million adults in the United States. It is characterized by excessive and persistent worrying and frequently expecting the worst.

GAD is often treated with benzodiazepine drugs which induce sedation and can be addictive. Researchers randomized GAD patients into 2 groups. One received a common benzodiazepine (lorazepam) and the other received lavender oil capsules. All participants completed a standard anxiety symptoms rating scale before and after the treatment.

After 6 weeks, both groups had an almost identical reduction in overall anxiety scores: 45% for the lavender oil group and 46% for the lorazepam group. Physical and psychological anxiety symptoms both decreased to a similar extent in the 2 groups. The lavender oil supplement was shown to be just as effective as the drug treatment with no risk of addiction or drowsiness.

Period Pain

A clinical trial examined the effects of aromatherapy massage with lavender oil on menstrual pain and cramps in 80 nursing and midwifery students. All of the participants rated their pain on the first day of their periods as six out of ten or above.

The patients were instructed to phone the researchers when they were feeling pain at the onset of menstruation. They then received a 15-minute abdominal massage with either lavender oil (diluted with almond oil) or with a placebo oil. They rated their pain both before and after the massage.

The next month, each patient received the alternative treatment. Pain scores were significantly lower following the lavender massage compared to the placebo massage.

Another study found that simply inhaling the scent of lavender oil significantly decreased period pain compared to inhaling a placebo oil.

Acute Pain

Kidney disease patients experience severe pain when large needles are inserted at the start of every dialysis session.

A crossover study published in Complementary Therapies in Medicine tested the effects of lavender oil on 34 dialysis patients. The intensity of pain for each patient was measured with a numeric rating scale during the insertion of arterial needles under 3 different conditions.

In one session, there was no intervention. In another, 100% lavender oil was applied to the skin at the needle site. In a third session, a placebo was applied to the skin. Lavender oil significantly reduced patients’ intensity of pain compared to no intervention or placebo.


2. Peppermint Oil

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Peppermint has long been used to soothe an upset stomach. It has an antispasmodic effect which calms the muscles of the gastrointestinal tract and allows food and digestive gas to pass through the system more quickly.

It also helps the body to digest fats by increasing the flow of bile. Research has shown that peppermint oil capsules are an effective treatment for dyspepsia and IBS.

When applied topically, the menthol in peppermint oil stimulates cold receptors in the skin. This sensation helps soothe itchy, irritated skin, making peppermint oil a good home remedy for insect bites or hives.

Topical peppermint oil has another, somewhat surprising use. It promotes hair growth by stimulating the dermal papilla and increasing blood circulation to the hair follicles.


Dyspepsia is a common condition caused by impaired digestion which may include symptoms such as discomfort after eating, abdominal pain, bloating, heartburn, nausea or belching up food.

A German study compared the effects of a peppermint oil supplement to cisapride, a drug which increases the speed of digestion and is used to treat gastric reflux.

Researchers randomized 118 outpatients with dyspepsia into 2 groups. One group received capsules containing 90 mg of peppermint oil and 50 mg of caraway oil. The other received the recommended dose of cisapride.

Pain scores were measured before and after 4-weeks of treatment. Both groups of patients had a statistically equivalent reduction in intensity of pain, frequency of pain and other dyspeptic symptoms.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

A systematic review published in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology assessed the safety and efficacy of peppermint oil capsules in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Researchers analyzed data from 9 randomized placebo-controlled trials including 726 IBS patients.

Peppermint oil was found to be significantly superior to a placebo in improving overall IBS symptoms and abdominal pain. Side effects of peppermint oil were mild and transient. Researchers concluded that peppermint oil capsules are a safe and effective treatment for IBS.

Hair Growth

A rodent study published in Toxicological Research compared the effects of peppermint oil to the popular hair regrowth treatment minoxidil (Rogaine).

Researchers shaved the backs of 20 mice to expose bald skin. The mice were then randomized into 4 groups based on different topical applications: salt water, jojoba oil, peppermint oil diluted in jojoba oil and minoxidil. Each solution was applied to the shaved backs of the mice once a day for 4-weeks.

At the end of the study, researchers used fluorescent microscopy to observe and measure the number, elongation, thickness and depth of hair follicles.

Mice in the peppermint oil group showed the most prominent hair growth, and their hair grew back faster than mice treated with minoxidil. Compared to the other treatment groups, they had a significant increase in follicle number, follicle depth and dermal thickness. Researchers concluded that peppermint oil could be used as a therapeutic alternative medicine for hair loss in humans.


3. Lemon Balm (Melissa) Oil

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Lemon Balm (also known as Melissa), is known for its calming properties. In the middle ages, it was grown in monastery apothecary gardens and used as a sleep aid and general panacea.

Lemon balm contains compounds called terpenes that act on neurotransmitters in the brain to produce a relaxing effect. Lemon balm oil has been shown to reduce negative reactions to stressful situations and calms agitation in people with dementia.


A cross-over study investigated the effects of lemon balm on laboratory-induced stress in 18 healthy volunteers. Each participant received a 300mg dose of lemon balm extract, a 600mg dose of lemon balm extract and a placebo given in random order on 3 separate days.

They then completed a 20-minute computer test called the Defined Intensity Stressor Simulation (DISS) battery. The DISS presents 4 tasks at once via a split screen and requires participants to attend to them simultaneously while their speed and accuracy is scored. The test has been shown to increase negative mood, arousal and stress.

Results showed that the 600mg dose of lemon balm counteracted the negative mood effects of the DISS, with significantly increased ratings for calmness and reduced alertness. Moreover, when participants ingested the 300mg dose of lemon balm, their speed of mathematical processing increased with no reduction in accuracy.


A randomized placebo-controlled trial published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology investigated the effects of lemon balm aromatherapy on 72 patients with severe dementia. Care staff applied a topical oil to the patients’ faces and arms twice daily. The active treatment group received lemon balm oil combined with a base lotion, while the control group received sunflower oil. Clinically significant agitation and quality of life indices were monitored over the 4-week trial period.

In the lemon balm group, 35% of patients had an overall improvement in agitation compared to 11% in the placebo group. Quality of life also improved significantly for patients who received lemon balm. They spent less time socially withdrawn and more time engaged in constructive activities.


4. Copaiba Oil

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Copaiba oil is distilled from resin secreted by trees in the genus Copaifera which grow in the Amazon rainforest. Copaiba resin has been used medicinally by South American natives for hundreds of years.

The copalic acid in copaiba oil halts the growth of several species of dental bacteria and research has focused on its potential applications in dentistry.

Copaiba oil has anti-inflammatory properties and is often marketed as a treatment for arthritis, however most of the evidence for its efficacy comes from rodent studies. A 2017 review published in Integrative Medicine pointed out that copaiba had not yet been tested in a randomized trial against a placebo in human arthritis patients or tested in comparison to anti-inflammatory medications.

Oral Health

A Brazilian study evaluated the antibacterial activity of copaiba oil on common microorganisms found in dental plaque. Samples of 3 strains of Streptococcus bacteria were collected from adult volunteers with cavities and gingivitis for testing. The researchers also tested standard strains of 4 other types of dental Streptococcus.

The bacteria were incubated for 24 hours in Petri dishes containing either copaiba oil, chlorhexidine (an antiseptic) or a base gel used as a control. The copaiba oil gel demonstrated antibacterial activity against all the strains of Streptococcus tested and performed better than chlorhexidine against Streptococcus mitis.


In a study published in the Journal of Cellular Biochemistry, researchers investigated the action of copaiba oil on arthritis in rats. The rats were fed copaiba oil at either a high or low dose for 18 days. Both doses improved paw swelling and presented systemic anti-inflammatory and antioxidant action. However, the researchers also found evidence of liver damage in healthy control rats who were fed copaiba oil.

In another study, researchers evaluated the anti-inflammatory and healing effect of copaiba oil treatment on injuries to rats’ tongues. They found that copaiba oil reduced inflammation by decreasing the number of white blood cells infiltrating the injured tissue.


5. Bergamot Oil

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Bergamot is a Mediterranean citrus fruit with a distinctive spicy scent. Bergamot essential oil is widely used in aromatherapy to reduce stress and anxiety.


Research has shown that inhalation of bergamot oil can be just as effective as the benzodiazepine drug diazepam for reducing anxiety.

Heart Disease

In the south of Italy, bergamot juice is a folk remedy for heart problems. Research indicates that specific flavonoids in bergamot, which are not found in other citrus fruits, can help to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk for heart disease.


A Japanese cross-over study examined the effects of aromatherapy with bergamot oil on mood and stress-levels in 41 female university students. Each of the participants was exposed to 3 experimental conditions in random order.

In one scenario, they simply rested for 15 minutes, in another, a diffuser filled the air with water vapor as they rested, and in a third, a diffuser filled the room with water vapor containing bergamot essential oil. After 15 minutes, saliva samples were collected and the volunteers completed questionnaires about anxiety and mood.

Following the bergamot aromatherapy session, the participants had significantly lower levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. They also had lower scores for anxiety, anger, confusion and physical and mental fatigue.

High Cholesterol

A study published in Frontiers in Pharmacology investigated the effects of a bergamot flavonoid extract supplement on 80 men and women with moderately high cholesterol. All of the participants were given a daily dose of the bergamot extract for 6 months.

At the start and end of the study, their cholesterol levels were measured with a blood test and the thickness of their arterial walls were measured with an ultrasound scan.

Six months of bergamot supplementation significantly reduced total cholesterol, triglycerides and LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol, while HDL ‘good’ cholesterol significantly increased. Small, dense LDL, the most dangerous kind of cholesterol, decreased by 67%. Arterial wall thickness, a sign of atherosclerosis, also significantly decreased.


6. Neroli Oil

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Neroli oil is distilled from the fragrant blossom of the bitter orange tree, Citrus aurantium, which is native to tropical and subtropical Asia.

Research on mice has shown that limonene, one of the major chemical components of neroli, acts as a muscle relaxant and has a sedative effect. Neroli oil aromatherapy can help lower blood pressure and relieve symptoms associated with menopause.

Menopause Symptoms

A Korean study investigated the effects of neroli oil inhalation on 63 postmenopausal women. The participants were randomly assigned to 3 groups. One received a 1% solution of neroli oil diluted with almond oil, one received a 5% solution of neroli oil and a control group received pure almond oil.

Each woman was instructed to sit in a comfortable place, pour the oil onto a fragrance pad, hold the pad near their nose and inhale the scent for 5 minutes. The subjects self-treated twice a day for 5 days. The women took blood pressure tests and completed menopause symptom questionnaires before and after the aromatherapy treatment.

Compared to the control group, both neroli oil groups had significant improvements in physical symptoms of menopause. The 5% neroli oil group had significantly lower systolic blood pressure, and both neroli groups had significantly lower diastolic blood pressure. Interestingly, both neroli oil groups also had a significant increase in sexual desire.


7. Tea Tree Oil

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Tea tree oil is made from the leaves of the Australian tea tree plant. Aboriginal people used tea tree leaves for treating wounds and preventing infections.

Tea tree oil has antibacterial, anti-fungal and antimicrobial properties which makes it a useful treatment for a number of skin conditions. It is also a natural insecticide and is even used in commercial head lice treatments.

Athlete’s Foot

A study published in the Australasian Journal of Dermatology investigated the efficacy of tea tree oil for treating athlete’s foot. Participants were randomly assigned to receive a 25% tea tree oil solution, a 50% tea tree oil solution or a placebo solution.

All 158 athlete’s foot patients were instructed to apply the solution to the affected area twice daily. After 4 weeks, there was a marked clinical response seen in both of the tea tree oil groups. The cure rate for patients in the 50% tea tree group was 64%, compared to 31% in the placebo group.


A randomized, placebo-controlled study examined the efficacy of tea tree oil for treating mild-to-moderate acne. A total of 60 acne patients were divided into 2 groups. One group received a 5% tea tree oil gel and the other received a placebo gel.

The patients were instructed to apply the gel twice daily for 20 minutes and then to wash it off. After 45 days, patients in the tea tree oil group has significantly less acne than those in the placebo group. Tea tree oil was nearly 4 times more effective at reducing the number of pimples and pustules and nearly 6 times better at reducing acne severity.


A study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology tested the efficacy of tea tree oil in 126 patients with mild-to-moderate dandruff. The participants were randomly assigned to receive either 5% tea tree oil shampoo or a placebo shampoo, which was used daily for 4-weeks.

The tea tree oil groups showed a 41% improvement in dandruff severity compared with 11% in the placebo group. Patients’ self-assessment scores for itchiness and greasiness also significantly improved in the tea tree oil group.

Fungal Nail Infections

A study published in the Journal of Family Practice compared the effectiveness of tea tree oil and the anti-fungal medication clotrimazole for the treatment of fungal infections. The participants included 117 patients diagnosed with fungal infections of the toenail. The patients were randomized into 2 groups.

One received a 100% tea tree oil and the other received a standard 1% clotrimazole solution applied twice daily. After 6 months, results for the 2 treatments were almost identical with 61% of the clotrimazole group and 60% of the tea tree group showing partial or full resolution. Three months later, 55% of the clotrimazole group and 56% of the tea tree group reported continued improvement or resolution.

Head Lice

An Italian study investigated the efficacy of tea tree oil and nerolidol against head lice and their eggs. The substances were tested at different concentrations on 69 head lice and 187 louse eggs collected from school children. A 1% concentration of tea tree oil killed 100% of head lice in 30 minutes.

Nerolidol is a natural plant compound found in many essential oils, including tea tree. The researchers found that a combination of a 0.05 % concentration of tea tree oil and a 1% concentration of nerolidol produced the death of all head lice in 30 minutes and prevented louse eggs from hatching after 5 days.


8. Rose Oil

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Rose oil is steam distilled from the petals of the damask rose or cabbage rose.

Laboratory research has shown that rose oil contains the antioxidants tocopherol and carotene. Rose oil demonstrates strong antibacterial activity against several different strains. It can also be used in aromatherapy to promote a calm mood.


A rodent study compared the effects of rose oil inhalation to the effects of the anti-anxiety drug diazepam. Rats have a natural tendency to prefer hidden, closed spaces to open, exposed spaces. The more anxiety they experience, the more likely they are to hide. The researchers found that rose oil inhalation significantly increased the number of visits to and time spent in the open arms of a maze. The anti-anxiety effect was similar to diazepam.

A Thai study investigated the effect of rose oil on 40 human volunteers. The rose oil was absorbed through the skin and the participants wore breathing masks to prevent them from inhaling the scent.

Compared to a placebo, rose oil caused significant decreases in systolic blood pressure and breathing rate. Participants in the rose oil group rated themselves as calmer, more relaxed and less alert than subjects in the control group.


9. Oregano Oil

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Oregano is a familiar herb used in Mediterranean dishes. The essential oil distilled from its leaves and flowers contains a phytochemical called carvacrol which has powerful antibacterial and anti-fungal properties.

Food Poisoning

A study published in the Journal of Food Protection investigated the antimicrobial activities of carvacrol against antibiotic-resistant Salmonella. Celery and oysters were inoculated with the resistant strain. A 1% carvacrol solution rapidly reduced the Salmonella population on celery to below detection. In infected oysters exposed to carvacrol, the bacteria population was 100,000 times smaller after 3 days.

Fungal Infections

A laboratory study assessed the anti-fungal activity of constituents of essentials oils against oral candida. This fungus causes an infection known as denture stomatitis, in which the area of the mouth covered by dentures becomes inflamed.

The researchers tested 10 organic compounds against 10 strains of candida collected from denture wearers. Carvacrol was classified as very active against oral candida. Researchers concluded that it might be a promising alternative for a topical treatment for denture stomatitis.


10. Eucalyptus Oil

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Many species of eucalyptus trees are used in Brazilian folk medicine for the treatment of medical conditions such as cold, fever, flu and bronchitis. In the modern Western world, eucalyptus oil is commonly used as a home remedy for colds.

Cold, Cough & Flu

Eucalyptus oil is added to a bowl of boiling water. The steam acts as an expectorant and decongestant. Laboratory research has shown that eucalyptus oil has antibacterial, anti-fungal and antiviral properties. Other studies have shown that it is an anti-inflammatory agent and an effective analgesic.


A study published in the Journal of Asthma tested the benefits of cineole, the active ingredient in eucalyptus oil, for asthma patients. A total of 247 patients with confirmed asthma were selected for the study. The patients were randomly assigned to receive either a placebo or 200 mg of cineole, 3 times per day in addition to their usual asthma medication.

After 6 months, the patients who received cineole supplements showed significantly more improvements to lung function, asthma symptoms and quality of life compared to the control group.


11. Clove Oil

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Clove oil has antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-fungal, antiviral, anti-inflammatory and anesthetic properties. It has long been used as a traditional home remedy for toothaches.

Oral Health

It’s major active component, eugenol, is widely used in dental materials such as temporary fillings. Clove oil is also found in oral health products such as toothpaste and mouthwash. Most of the research on clove oil has been done in the context of its applications in dentistry.


A study published in the Journal of Dentistry examined whether clove was an effective topical anesthetic. A total of 73 adult volunteers were randomized to have one of four substances applied to their gums: benzocaine 20% gel (a local anesthetic), homemade clove gel, a placebo that resembled benzocaine or a placebo that resembled clove.

After 5 minutes, each subject received 2 needle sticks and rated their pain on a scale ranging from none-to-very severe. The clove and benzocaine gels both had significantly lower pain scores than the placebos. There was no significant difference in pain scores between clove and benzocaine.

Tooth Protection

Fruit juices contain acids and sugars that can dissolve dental enamel, leading to tooth sensitivity, erosion and decay. Clove oil contains eugenol and eugenyl acetate, both of which are used in dental care.

A laboratory study published in the International Journal of Dentistry investigated the effect of clove essential oil on tooth erosion caused by apple juice. Human tooth specimens were treated with one of 4 substances: clove oil, eugenol, eugenyl acetate or fluoride. A control group received no treatment.

The teeth were then soaked in apple juice for 24 hours. All of the substances significantly decreased the decalcification of tooth enamel by apple juice compared to the control group. Clove oil was more effective than either of its active components alone. There was no statistically significant difference between the fluoride and clove oil treatment group.


12. Sage Oil

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The name sage comes from Latin word ‘salvere’ meaning ‘to save’. The herb has a long history of medicinal (as well as culinary) use.

Sage essential oil has antibacterial, anti-fungal, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. In aromatherapy, sage oil is used to stimulate the mind and help fight mental fatigue. Researchers are exploring the use of sage for treating the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Compounds in sage leaves also affect fat metabolism and can help to lower cholesterol.

Alzheimer’s Disease

A randomized controlled trial published in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics tested the use of sage extract for treating patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

A total of 42 patients with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease were divided into 2 groups.   The treatment group received 60 drops of sage extract per day and the control group received a placebo. After 4 months, the sage group performed significantly better on cognitive function tests than the placebo group. They also appeared to be less agitated.

High Cholesterol

A study published in Complementary Therapies in Medicine evaluated the use of sage extract for treating high cholesterol in patients with type 2 diabetes.

A total of 80 patients were randomized to receive either a 500 mg sage leaf extract capsule or a placebo capsule daily. After 3 months, the diabetics who took the sage supplements had significantly lower levels of LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol and higher levels of HDL ‘good’ cholesterol. They also had significantly lower blood sugar levels compared to the placebo group.


Carrier Oils 

Carrier oils help to evenly distribute essential oils into the skin. They are used to dilute essential oils, allows essential oils to be absorbed further and makes them safer for topical application.

Carrier oils are made from vegetable oils. The best carrier oils are cold-pressed and made from plant sources. Unlike essential oils, carrier oils do not have a concentrated fragrance. However, some have a mild pleasant scent. Examples of carrier oils include:

  • Olive oil
  • Walnut oil
  • Sweet almond oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Cocoa Butter

The carrier oils described below all have therapeutic properties that can augment the benefits of the essential oils that are added to them.

1. Argan Oil

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Argan oil is extracted from the nut of the Moroccan argan tree. Argan is a popular carrier oil for diluting essential oils.

Argan oil is an edible virgin oil with cholesterol-lowering properties, similar to olive oil. It also contains benefits for hair and skin and is used as an ingredient in commercial shampoos, moisturizers and cosmetics.

Skin Care

A study published in Clinical Interventions in Aging investigated the effects of argan oil on postmenopausal skin elasticity. A total of 60 postmenopausal women were randomly assigned to consume 25 ml of either dietary argan oil or olive oil daily.

Both groups were instructed to apply cosmetic argan oil to their left forearm every night. After 60 days, assessments of skin elasticity were performed on both forearms. Both consumption and topical application of argan oil led to a significant increase in all measures of skin elasticity.

A study in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology evaluated the efficacy of a sebum control cream containing argan oil for treating oily skin. Researchers recruited 20 volunteers with greasy facial skin and instructed them to apply the test product twice daily for 4-weeks.

Clinical assessment of sebum levels decreased by 33% and areas covered with oily spots decreased by 42%. Questionnaires revealed that 95% of subjects noticed a visible improvement.


2. Jojoba Oil

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Jojoba oil is produced from the seeds of a woody desert plant native the southern US and northern Mexico. Technically, it is not an oil but a liquid wax. As such, it is a stable carrier for essential oils and does not feel greasy on the skin.

Native Americans used jojoba to help wounds heal. Laboratory research on skin cells has shown that jojoba liquid wax stimulates collagen production and accelerates wound closure.


A German pilot study assessed the benefits of self-treatment with clay jojoba oil masks on 133 participants with acne. The participants applied the jojoba oil facial masks at home, 2-3 times a week for 6-weeks.

At the beginning and end of the study, they were asked to count their facial pimples, pustules, blackheads and cysts. There was a 54% average reduction in acne counts, averaging 7 blemishes decreasing to 3.


3. Grapeseed Oil

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The grape seeds used in grapseed oil are a byproduct of the wine-making industry. Grapeseed oil is used as a cooking oil and is widely used in skin care products such as moisturizers and sunscreen.

When consumed, grapeseed oil may help prevent type 2 diabetes. In one study, overweight or obese women were assigned to a weight loss diet with 15% of calories from grapeseed oil. After 8-weeks, they had lower levels of insulin resistance and inflammation than a control group on a 15% sunflower oil diet.

When used topically, phenolic compounds in grapeseed oil can fight bacteria and accelerate wound healing.


MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) is a ‘superbug’ notorious for causing infections that spreads throughout hospitals.

A laboratory study published in the Journal of Toxicological Sciences measured the antibacterial activity of grapeseed extract against 43 strains of MRSA. A concentration of 3 mg/ml grapeseed extract completely inhibited all of the bacterial strains tested.

Wound Healing

A rodent study published in Phytotherapy Research evaluated the wound healing properties of grapeseed oil. Identical wounds were treated with either grapeseed oil, cranberry oil, petroleum jelly or mupirocin ointment (a topical antibiotic).

Healing was assessed by the rate of wound contraction and levels of hydroxyproline, an amino acid that is a component of skin collagen. After 13 days, reduction of wound area was greatest in the cranberry oil and grapeseed oil groups. Hydroxyproline content was also significantly higher in the animals treated with plant oils.


How to Use Essential Oils

  • To fill a room with therapeutic fragrance, add a few drops of oil to a candle diffuser, reed diffuser or electric diffuser.
  • Alternatively, put a few drops of an essential oil on a handkerchief, hold it a few inches from your nose and breathe in.
  • Make a therapeutic massage oil by adding 15 drops of essential oil to 1 ounce of any carrier oil.
  • Make a skin cream by adding 15 drops of essential oil to 1 ounce of jojoba oil, coconut oil or cocoa butter.
  • Make scented bath salts by mixing 1 pound of Epson salts with 15 drops of essential oil. Store in a glass jar and use half a cup of salts per bath.


Safety Warnings

  • Never apply essential oils directly onto your skin. Always dilute them with water or a carrier oil. If you have any kind of skin reaction to an essential oil, discontinue use immediately. Wash the area off with warm water or rub a carrier oil over the irritated area.
  • Some essential oils should not be taken orally. Most bottles will indicate if the oil is intended for oral or topical use. Essential oils that can be ingested need to be correctly diluted and dosed. Never swallow essential oils from the bottle. If you want to try taking peppermint oil for indigestion or lemon balm oil for stress, buy supplement capsules from a reputable brand and do not exceed the recommended daily dose.

Final Word

Many essential oils appear to have a synergistic effect, so experiment with different combinations. For example, lavender, lemon balm and bergamot all have a calming effect. Try putting a few drops of each into a diffuser for stress-relief after a long day.

One of the benefits of essential oils is that they come in small, portable containers. If you find that inhaling an oil helps with your symptoms, carry a bottle in your pocket or handbag. Put a few drops on a tissue and breathe in whenever you need a boost.