Today’s scientific research and development is fantastic; we’re so fortunate to be living in a world with so much science and technology at our fingertips to enhance and extend our lives. But what about those ageless gifts from our past? Natural, plant based remedies that our ancestors used medicinally to do just the same, without even really understanding the science or that it even existed? Many of them are still in use today, some so engrained in our everyday life that we don’t even stop to think of them as an ancient remedy.
Let’s have a look at some of the common, and not-so-common (but arguably should be) ancient natural remedies still in use today.
Oil pulling, using coconut oil to cleanse the mouth, gums and teeth, has had a bit of a resurgence of late, since it was picked up by many health bloggers. It originates from Ayurvedic medicine and involves swirling a spoonful of coconut oil around the mouth continuously for roughly 15 minutes in the morning and evening. Coconut oil is a solid at room temperature but once it’s warmed up by the mouth it quickly becomes a liquid.
Oil pulling was traditionally used for all round oral hygiene, including preventing decay, treating sore, bleeding gums and freshening breath by attracting dirt and bacteria which gets eliminated with the oil once its spat out but has been replaced with fluoride based toothpastes and brushing. It’s a bigger commitment time-wise (we suggest doing it whilst you’re in the shower) but research has compared oil pulling favourably to modern dental care and gives justification to introducing it as a natural, cost effective addition to a daily dental routine.
Spirulina is a type of blue-green microalgae that grows naturally in South America. Our Aztec ancestors used it as a staple in their diets for centuries and were definitely on to something as it’s a nutritional powerhouse.
It’s high in protein, vitamin B12 and iron. In fact, it’s so nutrient dense and easy to harvest that the World Health Organisation has called it ‘the best food of the future’. Spirulina is now a nutraceutical supplement taken the world over for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities. It’s also hypolipidemic, helping to lower fats, including cholesterol, in the blood, and this has been reproduced in various clinical studies. It’s important that we only ever take the purest forms of spirulina as a supplement to avoid toxic contaminants.
Garlic is one of the oldest plants in the world, the earliest known record of it being used as a food is in 5000-year-old Sanskrit documents! Garlic has been used throughout the ages to treat various ailments, from Egyptian slaves building the pyramids for vitality, to helping strengthen immune systems during early cholera and TB outbreaks, to an antiseptic for wounds and to treat dysentery in the awful trench conditions of World War 1.
It’s full of essential vitamins and minerals and it’s thought the immune boosting powers come from the compound allicin found within garlic (which is also responsible for its familiar taste and smell). Although the exact mechanisms are unclear, recent studies have backed up claims that garlic can be used to help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, help regulate blood sugar and have antimicrobial and anti-cancer agents. Whilst the scientists work on exactly how it works and how much we need to consume to get the benefits, we don’t think there’s any harm in adding lots of it to our cooking!
Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world, but thankfully when we use it in cooking, we only need a tiny pinch. It’s so expensive because it can only be picked and dried by hand – the stigmas of the Crocus sativus flower that saffron comes from are so delicate that no machine is allowed anywhere near them during harvesting where it takes a quarter of a million stigmas to make half a kilo of saffron!
Saffron has been used as a medicine since ancient Greek times, and with reason – it contains over 150 volatile compounds to give it it’s intense colour, smell and taste. Saffron is an excellent functional food thanks to its antioxidant qualities. These qualities have been backed up by numerous scientific studies which report that it’s an ideal food additive due to its ability to reduce the presence of free radicals in the body, and the fact it’s a naturally occurring, non-toxic, antioxidant, rather than a less well understood synthetic one.
Saffron contains crocin, crocetin and safranal, which have been linked in various studies to anti-inflammatory, antidepressive, anticancer and memory boosting properties and having a protective effect against the damage caused by natural and chemical toxins. How wonderful of the crocus flower to share its natural, life-giving power with us!
The history of green tea goes back to around the 12th Century in Japan, when Buddhist monks returned from China with the idea of drinking dried green tea leaves steeped in hot water for its health benefits. Around this time, Japanese farmers began growing green tea, which formed the foundations of the matcha green tea we drink today.
Of course, there were no labs or a reliance on research in those days, but they still knew they were drinking this delicious tea for good health. Today, we understand why drinking green tea is so good for us. Research has found the polyphenols in green tea have antioxidant properties which have been linked to many health-giving qualities including a preventative effect on cancer, and although it’s not entirely understood yet, the research looks promising.
Our post on nutraceuticals and integrative medicine talks more about the health benefits of functional foods and how they can be integrated into our diet in order for us to live a long and fulfilling life.
We truly believe in the power of ageless, healing gifts. Our Meno-Time capsules are a perfectly balanced blend of 13 natural solutions for menopause, including iodine rich kelp to help water retention, evening primrose oil which offers relief from night sweats and mood swings and Korean Ginseng which energises and boosts sexual function.
Our whole range of Ageless Solutions are designed to get the best from you, in an all-natural, gentle way, leaving you to get on with living your life to the full.
Written by Hannah de Gruchy
Singh, A., & Purohit, B. (2011, April/May). Tooth brushing, oil pulling and tissue regeneration: A review of holistic approaches to oral health. Retrieved November 13, 2016, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3131773/ 2(2): 64–68
Deng, R., & Chow, T. (2010, August). Hypolipidemic, Antioxidant and Antiinflammatory Activities of Microalgae Spirulina. Retrieved November 13, 2016, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2907180/ 28(4): e33–e45.
Bayan, L., Koulivand, P. H., & Gorji, A. (2014, January/February). Garlic: A review of potential therapeutic effects. Retrieved November 13, 2016, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4103721/ 4(1): 1–14
Rahaiee, S., Moini, S., Hashemi, M., & Shojaosadati, S. A. (2015, April). Evaluation of antioxidant activities of bioactive compounds and various extracts obtained from saffron (Crocus sativus L.): A review. Retrieved November 13, 2016, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4375186/ 52(4): 1881–1888
Forester, S. C., & Lambert, J. D. (2011, June). Antioxidant effects of green tea. Retrieved November 13, 2016, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3679539/" 55(6): 844–854.
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