by guest blogger Josh Axe, DNM, DC, CNS
There’s a pill for just about every condition on the planet. But did you ever take a look at the long list of side effects associated with conventional treatments? Luckily, your body wants to be well, and there are plenty of natural ways you can pump up your healing powers.
So whether we’re talking about preventing a disease before it sets in or healing a condition you’re already dealing with, there are many pill-free ways to protect your body.
#1. Avoid certain drugs, if you can.
Living with conditions like seasonal allergies or insomnia can be miserable. Some popular drugs used to treat these health problems could actual increase your risk of developing severe brain problems down the line, though. Drugs linked to dementia now include common anticholinergic medications like Benadryl, Advil PM and Unison. Researchers’ findings suggest people taking anticholinergic drugs experience lower brain metabolism and brain atrophy. They also scored lower on memory tests.
To get your allergies under control, try these natural solutions:
- Figure out your trigger foods. Use an elimination diet to help figure out which foods could be leading to chronic, excess inflammation. Finding your food triggers is critical to easing all sorts of allergy symptoms.
- Pumping up your pineapple intake can drastically improve symptoms during allergy season. Pineapples contain the enzyme bromelain, along with vitamins B and C, three potent allergy fighters. Be sure to eat the core of fresh pineapples, too. That’s the most nutrient-rich part. Skip canned versions to avoid exposure to the toxic, hormone-disrupting chemical bisphenol A.
- Stinging nettle supplements have been shown to help ease allergy symptoms by reducing the level of symptom-causing histamine your body produces.
To get better sleep, try these things:
- Magnesium is known as the “relaxation” mineral. Try working more high-magnesium foods into your diet, including leafy green vegetables, sesame and sunflower seeds, and sprouted oats.
- Talk to your healthcare provider about supplementing with vitamin B12. Many people are deficient, a problem that could interfere with healthy sleep.
- Avoid drinking alcohol at least two hours before bedtime. Alcohol impairs the REM phase of your sleep cycle.
#2. Tweak your grilling technique to cut carcinogens by 96 percent.
Grilling mistakes can leave you with far worse than unpalatable charred steak. Using store-bought marinades containing sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, or even honey can triple the formation of heterocyclic amines. These HCAs form when meat muscle tissue is exposed to high temperature cooking like grilling. HCAs are most closely linked to stomach and colon cancers, but may also increase your risk of breast, prostate, liver, lung and skin cancer, too.
Instead, use vinegar or lemon juice-based marinades with herbs like rosemary to help block the formation of cancer-causing compounds by up to 96 percent.
#3. Make turmeric your go-to spice.
There’s a long list of turmeric benefits, including the potent anti-inflammatory properties associated with curcumin, one of turmeric’s renowned healing compounds. Interestingly, this same compound could actually help reverse depression, too.
A study published in Phytotherapy Research found that curcumin was as effective in treating symptoms of depression as fluoxetine (Prozac). The study authors concluded that curcumin may be used as an effective and safe therapy for treatment in patients with mild depression.
#4. Choose sunscreens without skin cancer-triggering ingredients.
It’s clear that exposure to some sun is vital for good health. In fact, it’s how your body manufactures disease-fighting vitamin D. If you are someone who likes to use sunscreen to avoid burns and overexposure, though, make sure you know about the best sunscreens. A recent report from Environmental Working Group found 16 percent of beach and sport sunscreens, 14 percent of moisturizing sunscreens, and 10 percent of sunscreen-containing lip products contained the ingredient retinyl palmitate. This form of vitamin A is an antioxidant that actually could trigger skin tumors and lesions when it comes in contact with sunlight. Crazy!
#5. Turn to an ancient ingredient.
You may have first heard of frankincense oil in church. In the Bible, it’s one of the essential oils the three wise men brought to the baby Jesus.
Today, frankincense oil and powder is becoming more scientifically backed for its healing properties. It may even help protect against cancer, or, in some cases, help alleviate some of the worst side effects of certain cancer treatments. A 2011 study published in the journal Cancer found frankincense reduced brain swelling by up to 75 percent in people undergoing radiation for brain tumors. That means there’s now a science-backed alternative to steroids, a swelling solution with a long list of side effects.
Other research focusing on frankincense oil and powder finds it may help boost the immune system, reduce inflammation and actually target cancer. It’s also used to help treat autoimmune ailments like Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis and ulcerative colitis.
#6. Make lemon water part of your daily routine.
Lemon water is probably one the cheapest detox drinks you can prepare at home. For just pennies per serving, lemon water helps trigger your liver to produce more bile, which helps your gastrointestinal tract run smoothly. It also helps your body absorb food nutrients more slowly, which helps stabilize insulin levels, increase the amount of nutrients you absorb, and reduce bloating.
Lemon water helps your liver detox, but it also serves as a major source of vitamin C. Without proper levels of vitamin C, your body can’t maintain proper white blood cell production. (And without that, your immune system goes into dysfunction, setting you up for all sorts of diseases.) In fact, one cup of fresh lemon juice contains 187 percent of your recommended daily amount of vitamin C.
Just one word of caution: To protect your tooth enamel from lemon water, drink from a straw and rinse with baking soda to neutralize any leftover acid in your mouth.
#7. Sip on an old-fashioned, healing stock.
Back in the “olden days,” people avoided wasting food by turning the carcass and other leftover parts into a rich bone broth. It’s important to understand this healthy stock isn’t found in many store-bought products. (In fact, be sure to avoid anything containing MSG or monosodium glutamate—it’s a neurotoxin used in many stock and bouillon products.)
Real bone broth, though, is rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine, compounds that can help heal and reduce pain for ailments like osteoporosis.
There’s a reason why chicken soup is an old-school remedy for cold and flu, too. University of Nebraska Medical Center researchers found the amino acids found in real bone broth helps lower respiratory tract inflammation while improving digestion. Bone broth also helps boost the immune system. This helps heal disorders like allergies, arthritis, and asthma. Try my go-to chicken bone broth recipe to get started. And remember: Only use bones from organic, grass-fed meat products to avoid dangerous additives common to industrial farming.
Josh Axe, DNM, DC, CNS, is a doctor of natural medicine, clinical nutritionist, and author with a passion to help people get well using food as medicine. He operates one of the world’s largest natural health websites at DrAxe.com, and his newest book, Eat Dirt, gives readers a five-step plan to heal leaky gut once and for all.