Did you know bone broth is highly nutritious, helps fight inflammation, helps the digestive system, improves joint health, helps with weight loss, improves sleep and brain function and improves hair and skin?
Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? Well as it turns out, that may be the case. Most of these benefits are based on assumptions and there is very little scientific research on bone broth. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying there has to be scientific evidence for something to be true, just that we have to take it with a grain of salt. Ha ha.
Similarly, there is little evidence for chicken soup and infection, but we all know it’s comforting and makes us feel better. Though science hasn’t found why exactly, they do know that chicken soup helps with inflammation.
One study found that bone broth was a poor source of many nutrients but adding vegetables increased the nutrient content. They also stated that you could get a lot more nutrients by eating other foods.
The assumption about hair, bones and skin has to do with collagen (that gelatinous layer on our broth after its cooled). The assumption goes like this: collagen is released from the bones in the broth and therefore when we consume it, the collagen will be absorbed by our own bones, skin and hair. However, through digestion, collagen is broken down into amino acids and the amino acids are used by the body where they are needed most. Additionally, there was a concern raised, as bones are known to store heavy metals, particularly lead. However, a 2017 study reported that the lead and cadmium content of both store-bought and homemade bone broth was low.
There is no harm in eating lots of bone broth if its low sodium, low fat and contains lots of vegetables. To get the most out of your broth, add 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar (this reduces the pH) and simmer for 8 hours or more. This helps increase the amount of calcium and magnesium in the broth, but it’s less than 5% of the daily recommended levels.
Want to make your own broth? I like to start with this recipe by Epicurious and add 2 tablespoons of cider vinegar and simmer it for at least 8 hours (you can add extra water). You can also brown the bones first by roasting them on a baking sheet at 450F for 30-45 minutes. This gives your broth more flavour and a darker colour.
Remember the butter vs margarine debate? One year butter was declared the winner and the next it was margarine. Well, it turns out the experts don’t entirely agree on this one either.
Many of my blogs are inspired from conversations with others, and this one is no exception. My husband, Greg, and I were debating which oil was the healthiest. From my reading, it was olive oil; from what he’d read it was avocado oil. He’s been waiting for me to write this blog for months!
As with most subjects I seem to tackle, there’s no easy answer. There is a ton of conflicting information out there which sent me down about a dozen rabbit holes. So again, bear with me as I try to make the science part as pain-free as possible. Or, if you just want the answer, scroll to the bottom of this article.
Let’s start with saturated and unsaturated fats. Most saturated fats are solid at room temperature, such as butter, lard, palm and coconut oils, animal fat and dairy products. Unsaturated fats are classified as monounsaturated (omega-9) or polyunsaturated (omega-3 and omega-6) and both are in liquid form at room temperature. Unsaturated fats are healthier than saturated and polyunsaturated may be healthier than monounsaturated (though the jury is still out). And I forgot to mention trans fats or hydrogenated fats (i.e., margarine, shortening), the worst of them all.
If you’ve made it this far, I don’t want to lose you on the chemistry. Instead I’ll explain why one is better than the other. Trans fats increase your risk of heart disease, increase your LDL (bad cholesterol), decrease your HDL (good cholesterol) and contribute to insulin resistance. Saturated fats increase your risk of heart disease and stroke and raise both your LDL and HDL. Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats decrease your risk of heart disease and decrease the levels of LDL (many studies show that they don’t affect HDL). Omega-3s are heart protective and anti-inflammatory and may increase your HDL. Omega-6s may help control your blood sugar, reduce your risk for diabetes and lower your blood pressure (it may also be anti-inflammatory). They used to say that you should consume more omega-3 than omega-6 but it looks like this is also being challenged.
Other things to consider:
The table below is a summary of the most widely available oils. Many of them come refined or unrefined (the less common ones are in brackets).
So, what’s the answer? I’d say the best oil isn’t one from a bottle but from the foods themselves. However, if you must use an oil, olive oil and avocado oil it is (Greg and I both win)! Try to use unrefined oils (extra virgin, virgin, expeller pressed or cold pressed) but keep in mind they also have a lower smoke point than their refined counterparts.
Cannabis products have been all the rage as of late and topical products are no exception. They are used for pain and inflammation and in skincare. I’m going to give you an overview of the active components of cannabis, the types of oils available and what they’re good for.
First, a little science. Bear with me here, as there has been a lot of confusion created by marketing; either to avoid problems with governments or to fool you, the consumer. There are two types of cannabis plants. First, there’s Cannabis indica which is a typical marijuana plant. Second, there is Cannabis sativa, another type of marijuana plant but also the name for the hemp plant. And most marijuana plants are now hybrids. These plants contain over 100 hundred types of cannabinoids (chemical compounds).
TetraHydroCannabinol (THC) is the best known and is psychoactive (can make you stoned, paranoid, etc.) and can be used for:
CannaBiDiol (CBD) is non-psychoactive and can be used for:
Cannabis or marijuana oil can be made from dried flowers/buds and infused into oil. It can be used as is or in a lotion or balm and applied topically, without a psychoactive effect. THC works topically by binding to our pain receptors and it won’t reach the bloodstream, preventing any psychoactive effects. These oils contain both THC and CBD and relieve localized pain, muscle soreness, arthritis, headaches, cramping and inflammation but are said to be most effective for nerve pain. From my personal experience and from the experience of others, it can start relieving pain in as little as five seconds (and longer, depending on how deep the pain is). The amount of THC and CBD will vary depending on the strain of the cannabis plant used but you can expect 5-27% THC and less than 1-15% CBD in the flowers themselves. The oil would contain less as some would be left behind in the flowers. I can’t confirm the proper naming for the ingredients label but the one I make for my husband I label as Cannabis indica (flower) extract. You may also find Cannabis sativa (flower) extract but remember, this may also refer to the hemp plant.
CBD oil can come from the marijuana or hemp plant and has a higher amount of CBD (18-24%) and less than 0.3% THC. If you’re buying this, make sure you’re getting actual CBD oil and not hemp oil. It should be listed as cannabidiol, full spectrum hemp, hemp oil or phytocannibinoid rich (PCR) hemp extracts in the list of ingredients. You may also find broad spectrum which is full spectrum CBD that is THC free.
Hemp (seed) oil is extracted from the seeds of the hemp plant (a variety of the cannabis plant) and contains less than 0.3% THC and trace amounts of CBD and is high in vitamin E. It’s good for dry, irritated skin and has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It is used in cooking and skincare products. This is listed as cannabis sativa (seed) oil on the ingredients list.
For skincare, little scientific information is available. Beauty magazines report that CBD is beneficial for acne as it helps with inflammation and decreases sebum production as well as for anti-aging as it contains antioxidants. Many other plant oils have the same benefits and CBD oil hasn’t been proven to be superior to other sources. CBD oil is also said to be soothing and suitable for sensitive skin.
Research has been limited to studies on allergic and post-herpes skin reactions and pain relief. It may help psoriasis, some types of dermatitis and itching, wounds, pimples, corns, certain nail fungus, rheumatism, sore throat, bronchitis, colds, asthmatic problems with breathing, cancer, aging (study was done on mice), etc.
Did you know our bodies produce endocannibinoids? These are similar to cannibinoids and they affect your sleep, mood, appetite, memory, metabolism, pain, inflammation, motor control, stress and reproduction as well as other systems.
20% of the population has a genetic mutation that releases our endocannibinoids into our bloodstream which makes topicals less effective. My observations lead me to believe that people with high pain thresholds, who are happy all the time, good sleepers, frequent eaters and have memory problems are likely to have this mutation.
Our bodies production of endocannibinoids may reduce with age. Eating essential fatty acids (hemp, flax, chia, walnuts, sardines, anchovies, eggs), chocolate, herbs, spices and tea stimulates production. Meditation, yoga, massage, sunlight, masturbation (presumably sex too), exercise, social time and play time also helps. Avoid pesticides, phthalates and moderate to high alcohol consumption which will impact your production.
Now that marijuana products are legal, I have high hopes that more research will be done!
Men and women both encounter hormonal fluctuations, but women experience them twice as much and have at least twice as many hormone related conditions as men. Men experience imbalances in testosterone at puberty and as they age. Women experience imbalances in estrogen and progesterone in puberty, menstruation, pregnancy and menopause. Additionally, women can experience changes in their level of testosterone. High levels of testosterone are related to polycystic ovary syndrome as well as other symptoms. As we age, we also produce less testosterone which is responsible for a low libido, among other symptoms.
Today, I’m looking at female hormone and reproductive issues. At puberty and beyond we can experience PMS, menstrual cramping and bloating, irregular menstruation, mood swings, and painful swollen breasts. In pregnancy we can experience swelling, constipation, nausea, heartburn, back pain, stress, stretchmarks and finally labour pains. But it doesn’t end there. There’s also post-partum depression and balancing breast milk production. Or there’s infertility. Throughout life we may experience yeast infections, ovarian cysts, high libido, sexual tension, heavy or no menstruation and endometriosis. As we age, we can experience irregular menstruation, uterine prolapse, low libido and menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats. And that my friends, is not an exhaustive list.
We can try to manage our hormone levels using the birth control pill or hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Is there a difference between the two? Yes, there is. HRT is a supplement to the hormones your body is producing, while the birth control pill is much stronger and takes over hormone production. Additionally, HRT isn’t a type of birth control.
The birth control pill is helpful for hormone imbalances and is generally safe. Side effects can include spotting, nausea, breast tenderness, headaches, migraines, weight gain, mood changes, missed periods, decreased libido and vaginal discharge. Risks include blood clots, stroke, heart attack, increase in blood pressure, benign liver tumours and some types of cancer.
Hormone replacement therapy side effects include monthly bleeding, irregular spotting, breast tenderness, fluid retention, headaches, skin discolouration and increased breast density. Risks include increased chance of breast and endometrial cancer, blood clots and stroke, gallbladder/gallstone problems and increased risk of dementia.
There are external factors which may also affect our hormone levels such as plastics (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3222987/), genetically modified food, phthalates (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5391940/ and https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0917504017301120), hormones in meat and dairy (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4524299/), sugar (as insulin levels affect hormones), phytoestrogens, or plant “estrogens” found in soy for example, (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3074428/) and pesticides (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1524969/).
By the way, labeling is not required in Canada or the US for genetically modified foods but you can check the produce codes (those five-digit numbers on the stickers). Numbers starting with an eight indicate GMO and numbers starting with a nine indicate organic. Other numbers indicate that they were conventionally grown.
We can also try to balance our hormone levels with supplements and essential oils. A study on menopause shows that after 8 weeks of aromatherapy massage (using lavender, rose geranium, rose and jasmine), symptoms decreased compared to the control group (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2529395/). Another study on perimenopause shows that inhalation of geranium and rose otto essential oils increased estrogen secretion (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28326753).
Essential oils can help with more than menopause and perimenopause. All those hormonal and reproductive issues that I mentioned earlier can be helped by essential oils. Let’s have a look at some common issues and what oils can help.
PMS can be helped by using bergamot, clary sage, geranium, lavender and rose to balance hormones, ease headaches and cramping and help with acne.
Hot flashes can be helped by clary sage, grapefruit, lemon, geranium, lavender, peppermint and patchouli which help by balancing hormones, improving circulation, constricting blood vessels and cooling.
Yeast infections can be helped with cinnamon, eucalyptus, lavender, lemon and tea tree which have powerful antifungal properties.
Clary sage, grapefruit, lavender and rose are great for helping balance hormones.
Cinnamon, clary sage, geranium, patchouli and ylang ylang have aphrodisiac properties.
Not sure which oils to use or how to use them? Make an appointment with an aromatherapist today.
I’m not usually into fads and gimmicks, which is why it took me so long to try a facial roller. It was finally too pretty to resist....and I got it on sale!
The packaging claimed this:
I was surprised it didn’t cook and clean too. With a list that long, I became more skeptical. I wanted to know what actual benefits I might see so I popped on over to Google. Here’s what the experts say:
I pull it out of the box and read the directions, which basically says how to hold it and that you don’t have to apply much pressure. On my first use, it feels calming like a face massage. And the cold stone feels nice on my sleepy, puffy eyes first thing in the morning.
The experts also recommend that you roll from the centre of your face outward, towards your lymph glands. Some also say that you must start with your neck to clear any lymph build up. I tried this and it doesn’t feel pampering anymore. I’m concentrating on how to roll it instead of using it where it feels good. After a few days I decide to roll like I did on my first day and finish in the direction of lymph glands.
You can use it daily or up to three times a week for a few minutes at the most. You can also use it to apply serums and lotions.
Finally, facial rollers come in different materials. Jade protects against negative energy and balances your chi. Rose quartz promotes love and healing, is calming, dispels negativity energy and protects from environmental pollution. Obsidian shields and protects our skin and our minds against negative energy. Or just pick your favourite colour!
After using it for a month, I don’t really notice any other benefits. It’s a quick little pamper to start your day and feels great when you have a headache. Going forward, I will probably use it for the occasional headache and its cooling effect on my eyes rather than for daily use.
Have you tried a facial roller? What did you think?
We all know alcohol is bad for us but what about for our skin? Isn’t it drying?
It all depends upon the alcohol. Alcohol is a molecule that contains carbon atoms and an oxygen and hydrogen atom (a hydroxyl group), and their names end in ‘ol’. The one we know best, ethanol (or ethyl alcohol), is a product of fermentation and is drying. Denatured alcohol (where something is added to ethanol to make it undrinkable) is also drying and is used in window cleaner, camp stove fuel, paint removal, etc. Isopropyl alcohol (isopropanol or rubbing alcohol) is created using petroleum-based ingredients or from reducing acetone (TOXNET Toxicology Data Network) and is drying.
Now for the good alcohols. Cetyl alcohol, stearyl alcohol, cetearyl alcohol are fatty alcohols derived from coconut and nuts. These alcohols are emollient, leave your skin soft and smooth and are used as thickeners and co-emulsifiers.
Witch hazel is often obtained from solvent extraction with alcohol and some of it remains in the witch hazel. Store bought witch hazel can contain 15-30% alcohol. Our Facial Toner & Cleanser contains witch hazel and the alcohol content is about 8%. We have recently found some alcohol-free witch hazel which we’ll be using in the future.
Benzyl alcohol is another ingredient you’ll find on many of our labels. It’s an aromatic alcohol and is an ingredient in the natural preservative we use. It is found naturally in plants and essential oils and is safe.
If you’re concerned about dry skin, check the labels of your toners, hand sanitizers, mouthwashes and oily skin care products.
Essential oil safety is probably the most talked about subject in aromatherapy. And probably the most confusing too. Although essential oils have been used for hundreds of years, there’s not a lot of scientific evidence to refer to. Since essential oils cannot be trademarked, big companies don’t want to invest in it and small companies can’t afford it. Which leaves whatever information you can find online, in books, in classes or from suppliers. And it’s difficult to tell if the author is an expert or an amateur. Sometimes even the experts don’t agree, but it’s usually to do with the amount of caution they’re comfortable with. Now I’m certainly not claiming to be an expert, but here are some guidelines most experts will agree on:
It’s helpful to remember that essential oils are highly concentrated, and their properties need to be respected.
For more information see Robert Tisserand’s site (a highly respected expert) at https://tisserandinstitute.org/safety/safety-guidelines.
Was this blog helpful? Do you have any questions? Comment below!
I’ve taken courses on skincare and nutrition and have researched natural medicine and healthy foods. It’s fascinating how our diet affects our body’s health. There are some nutrients you can both ingest and apply topically, some that can only be ingested (or produced by the body) and some that can only be applied topically. Today we’re going to look at how our diet affects our skin, what nutrients the skin needs, what benefits they provide and what foods you can eat.
To maintain healthy skin, you need water, vitamins A, B, C and E, zinc, essential fatty acids and proteins:
Collagen cannot be applied topically as the molecules are too big to absorb through the skin. Collagen doesn’t exist in any food other than homemade bone broth and is instead produced in the body (The Best Way You Can Get More Collagen, Cleveland Clinic). As we get older our body produces less collagen. Here’s what to eat to help boost collagen production:
Zinc can be found in:
These foods contain antioxidants:
Eat many of these different foods and make your skin happy. It will reward you with beautiful, healthy looking skin!
Essential Fatty Acids and Skin Health https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/health-disease/skin-health/essential-fatty-acids
The Best Way You Can Get More Collagen https://health.clevelandclinic.org/the-best-way-you-can-get-more-collagen/
Here are some of the aromatherapy myths that I hear most often.
1. You can ingest essential oils.
Oral use of essential oils has not been approved in North America. The only country that allows the administration of essential oils orally is France, and even then, you have to be under the close supervision of a licensed medical practitioner. Generally, it’s safe to add a couple of drops to food or to swish around a dilution in your mouth before spitting it out, but even then, some essential oils can irritate mucus membranes. Make sure to do your research before using any oil orally.
There is a company out there that will completely disregard this and advise you it’s safe to use essential oils orally. At a market I was at, a rep from this same company advised a customer to put a drop of peppermint oil in her eye. This should never be done because it burns!
2. You can apply them directly to your skin.
Almost all essential oils should be diluted before applying them to your skin neat. Essential oils are extremely concentrated and can cause irritation, burns and rashes. Don’t take chances – dilute them in lotion, carrier oil, shower gel, bubble bath, liquid soap, massage oil, etc. If you’re going to use one neat, do a patch test and don’t use it for a prolonged period.
3. Essential oils labelled pure and therapeutic are of better quality.
Essential oils, by their nature, are pure and therapeutic, whether it’s on the label or not. An essential oil labelled “pure” means only that it hasn’t been diluted. Using “therapeutic” on a label is only a marketing strategy. There is no such thing as a non-therapeutic version of an essential oil!
4. Essential oils are safe because they’re natural.
While essential oils are indeed natural, they still need to be used with caution. Just think of poison ivy, some types of mushrooms, stinging nettle, poinsettia. You get the picture. Essential oils are extremely concentrated and many have contraindications (specific situations where they may be harmful), for example in pregnancy, with medications or in other medical conditions.
5. Major brands sell superior quality essential oils.
If you’re comparing apples to apples, this is simply not true. If an essential oil is pure, then an essential oil is an essential oil is an essential oil. An organic essential oil may be regarded as a better-quality oil but that’s because of the lack of pesticides and herbicides, the oil isn’t any different. And the essential oil’s chemical constituents (affected by country of origin, soil conditions, weather, time of harvest, etc.) may cause one oil to be safer, sweeter or better for a certain condition than another. But again, if you compare an organic lavender oil from Bulgaria from one company to another they would be the same. When you shop at a major brand you’re not paying for superior quality, you’re paying for their name.
Bonus myth: There’s a company out there who claims that you can only use their essential oils in their diffusers. Great marketing ploy! I went in to one of these stores to “shop” for a diffuser. As soon as I questioned this, the employee quickly backed down.
Radon is a naturally occurring gas that results from uranium breaking down underground. It gives off radiation and is odourless, colourless and tasteless. Remember your table of elements? Its symbol is Rn.
It’s found in homes across Canada and gets in through cracks in foundation walls, floor drains, or anywhere the house contacts the soil.
It’s the second highest cause of lung cancer behind smoking and the number one cause in nonsmokers. This is especially important if you spend a lot of time in the basement, specifically in winter, as our homes are more air tight with all our windows closed.
You can buy a do-it-yourself test kit for about $30 and then ship it to a lab to analyze the results. Or you can hire a professional to test it for you (some even do free testing). You can also purchase a radon detector for about $200-300 and monitor it on an ongoing basis. See https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/radon.html for more information and links to where you can find a test kit or professional near you. Regardless of the method you choose, the test should last three months.
The Canadian guideline is 200bq/m3. If it’s over this amount, you should take steps to remediate it. This can be done by venting the gas from under the basement floor to the outside.
For a more comprehensive guide check out Radon - A Guide For Canadian Homeowners.
Loves living a healthy lifestyle and sharing what she learns along the way.