Friday, January 4, 2008

Flaxseed Oil - The Good Oil.

Flaxseed oil is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids and contains double the amount found in fish. The most important omega-3 fatty acid found in flaxseed oil is called Alpha-linolenic Acid (ALA). This essential fatty acid cannot be synthesized by our body so it must come from our diet. ALA is important because it lowers blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels. This helps to reduce fatty deposits in the blood stream that can build up and make the walls of the blood vessels narrow and stiff. As vessels narrow and harden, blood pressure increases and blood supply becomes blocked, causing angina, stroke and heart attacks. One way ALA helps to reduce blood pressure is by increasing cell membrane fluidity and flexibility, and improving the elasticity of blood vessels. It also acts as a natural blood thinner, reducing the ability of our blood to form clots. Studies have shown that, even in healthy young men, taking flaxseed oil daily will decrease this tendency for blood platelets to form. Another function of ALA is to improve the body's inflammatory responses. Our body converts fatty acids into substances called prostaglandins - hormone-like chemicals that control inflammation. There are many types of prostaglandins and some are more inflammatory than others. When the body produces a greater amount of stronger, more inflammatory prostaglandins, it results in conditions such as arthrits, gout and joint pain, severe menstrual cramping, skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis, and asthma. Prostaglandins that are made from omega-3 oils are weaker than those made from omega-6 oils, so a diet that includes flaxseed oil can 'down regulate' the inflammatory response and improve these inflammatory conditions. Flaxseed oil is an essential addition to the diet, but it is important for anyone who suffers from cardiovascular disease or inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, period pains or asthma. Many people are concerned about the level of heavy metals found in fish these days. (I have found the best cod liver fish oil on Earth for my toddler though. You can read that in another of my blog entries.) If you are a vegetarian or just don't like the fishy taste of cod liver or fish oil enough to take them, you can achieve your omega-3 fatty acid requirements from flaxseed oil. The only thing is that our body has to work a little more to convert ALA in flaxseed oil to EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid) and then to DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid). With taking cod liver or fish oils, you get EPA and DHA directly. How do we choose the right flaxseed oil?
  • Check the label to make sure the oil is cold pressed, unrefined and GMO-free.
  • Look for organic flaxseed oil because non-organic ones can sometimes carry trace amounts of pesticides and herbicides.
  • A reputable manufacturer will measure the amount of ALA contained in their flaxseed oil, so make sure the one chosen has this displayed on the label. At least 52% ALA is recommended.
  • Look for oil in opaque packaging to reduce oxidation.

Note that flaxseed oil should always be taken with food. It can be used in salads dressing, poured over cereals or mixed in yoghurt or smoothies. However, flaxseed oil is not suitable as a cooking oil.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

The Magic of JOJOBA!

Jojoba oil is a vegetable oil obtained from the crushed bean of the jojoba shrub. Its botanical name is Simmondsia chinenis. The jojoba shrub is native to the Sonoran Desert of Mexico and regions in Arizona and southern California.
Native Americans have used jojoba for hundreds of years - for treatment of sores, cuts, bruises and burns - as a diet supplement and an appetite suppressant when food was not available - as a skin conditioner for soothing wind/sunburn - as hair and scalp treatments. Jojoba appears to be a very diverse plant indeed.
The chemical structure of jojoba oil is different from that of other vegetable oils. Rather than being an oil, it is actually a polyunsaturated liquid wax that is similar to sperm whale oil, though without the fishy odour. Jojoba has a nutty smell and is pleasant to apply on the face. Jojoba oil is liquid at room temperature because of its unsaturated fatty acids. It does not oxidize or become rancid and does not break down under high temperatures or pressures. The stablility shown by jojoba oil makes it especially useful for cosmetic applications.
Jojoba is completely miscible with the natural sebum of the skin, and when used on the skin, it forms a very thin, non-greasy lipoid layer. This layer is partially porous and provides exceptional trans-epidermal respiration and moisture control. This affinity jojoba has with our own natural sebum means that we can apply it even on oily skin, as it will assist in balancing the oily activity and help with blocked pores. It is even anti-bacterial. Compare the chemical structure of our skin's sebum with that of jojoba oil's :
Skin sebum : CH3(CH2)14COO(CH2)24CH3
Jojoba oil : CH3(CH2)18COO(CH2)20CH3
Sebum is secreted by our human sebaceaous glands to protect our skin and hair. When sebum production decreases due to age, pollutants, or environmental stresses, jojoba oil can be used to replicate sebum oil.
Unlike greasy occlusive materials such as petrolatum, mineral oils and some lanolin products, jojoba oil provides an absolutely non-tacky, non-oily and non-greasy softening to the skin. It also significantly reduces tran-epidermal water loss, without totally blocking the transpiration of gases and water vapour. So, it prevents dehydration and therefore is anti-wrinkle and anti-aging!
When we use powerful astringents to rid the over activity of oiliness that our skin produces we are in fact making the situation worse. We take away the natural sebum and can interfere with the acid mantle of our skin. We need sebum - a thin sheen of oil on our skin to nourish and protect it from the elements. Without this our skin will become dry, flaky and blemishes will also result. Jojoba can help you create a balance of your own skin's production of nautral sebum.
The potential therapeutic uses of jojoba oil include the treatment of acne, cold sores and is wonderful for people who suffer from sensitive skin condtions, including psoriasis, dermatitis, eczema, dandruff (scalp treatment).

The Safest and Most Natural Conditioner on Earth!

We all need some kind of conditioners to give our hair some glow and softness. Shampoos clean our hair of grime but at the same time, they also strip off the natural sebum that gives our hair that healthy glow and silky softness. Most conditioners contain artificial conditioning agents such as dimethicone and cyclopentasiloxane. One brand which is made in Japan and specially created for Asian hair has the following ingredients :
Water, stearyl alcohol, dipropylene glycol, dimethicone, cyclopentasiloxane, lactic acid,stearoxypropyl dimethylamine, benzyl glycol, fragrance, hydroxyethylcellulose, behenamidopropyl dimethylamine, amodimethicone, bis-isobutyl PEG-15/amodimethicone copolymer, glycolic acid, phenoxyethanol, alcohol, bis-methoxypropylamido isodocosane, dicocodimonium chloride, butylene glycol, toluene sulfonic acid, malic acid, steartrimonium chloride, camellia japonica seed oil, hydrolyzed conchiolin protein, panax ginseng root extract, glycine soja (soya bean) protein, eucalyptus globulus leaf extract, caramel.
Note that the few ingredients which are natural and probably beneficial are found right at the end of the ingredient list. This means that their amounts are pathetically small. The synthetic chemical ingredients are a whole truckload! That is probably why this conditioner is selling cheap! Another big brand has the following list of ingredients : Water, cetearyl alcohol, cyclomethicone, cetrimomium chloride, glycerin, dimethiconol, ceteardimonium chloride, propylene glycol, hydroxyethylcellulose, lysine HCL, hydrolyzed silk, borago officinalis seed oil, tea-dodecylbenzenesulfonate, potassium chloride, disodium EDTA, DMDM hydantoin, methylchloroisothiazolinone, methylisothiazolinone, fragrance. One natural ingredient found.
I have found the safest and most natural conditioner on earth! These are the ingredients :
Myroxylon pereirae (balsam peru) oil, certified organic pelargonium graveolens (geranium) essential oil, certified organic pogostemon cablin (patchouli) essential oil, moringa oleifera seed oil, certified organic arctium lappa (burdock) extract, certified organic equisetum arvense (horsetail) extract, certified organic urtica dioica (nettle) extract, certified organic rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf extract, certified organic salvia officinalis (sage) leaf extract, certified organic aloe barbadensis (aloe vera) leaf juice, certified organic apple cider vinegar, certified organic citrus aurantium amara (bitter orange) fruit extract, non-gmo lecithin sorbitan olivate, cetearyl olivate, panthenol (pro-vitamin b5), aqua (purified water)
This conditioner hydrates, conditions and protects the hair with nourishing and emollient moringa seed oil from Tanzania. Pro-vitamin B5 (panthenol) and organic herbs in it promote lustre and body. It naturally balances the pH of your hair with organic apple cider vinegar.
All natural ingredients for your hair and no artificial silcones used. It is a wonderful and safe alternative from the normal conditioners you can find. I have used it and will stay with it definitely!
"All that mankind needs for good health and healing is provided by God in nature...the challenge of Science is to find it." - Paracelcus, the father of Pharmcology, 1493 - 1541