Category Archives: Natural Healing

The Benefits of Paleo and Keto Diets for Cancer Patients

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Today, I’d like to share a guest blogger post from Virgil and the team at mesothelioma.net about the Paleo and Ketogenic diets, specifically their benefits for cancer patients.  While we here in La Yacata don’t follow a strict Paleo diet with corn featuring such a large part of our diets, we do consider ourselves more Paleo than we were in the US and certainly healthier as a result. Without further ado:

The Benefits of Paleo and Keto Diets for Cancer Patients

The paleo and ketogenic diets are more popular than ever before and for good reasons. They have been shown to be beneficial in a number of ways, from cutting out processed foods to helping people lose weight. Now, there is also evidence that these diets may provide important benefits for people living with and being treated for various types of cancer, like mesothelioma or lung cancer.

The Paleo Diet and its Health Benefits

The paleo diet has a pretty simple basis: don’t eat anything our Paleolithic ancestors wouldn’t have eaten. The Paleolithic was before agriculture, so that means no grains or dairy. Instead, on the paleo diet, you eat meat, game, poultry, fish, vegetables, seeds, fruits, and nuts. Although there may have been beans and legumes around 10,000 years ago, the paleo diet avoids these as well.

Perhaps the best thing about the paleo diet is that it relies on whole foods and eliminates processed ones. There is no vegetable oil on this diet, and no junk food or packaged foods. The elimination of dairy, grains, and beans is more controversial, but the idea is that 10,000 years is not a long enough time to have evolved to digest them properly.

Some of the known health benefits of the paleo diet include:

These can all be benefits for cancer patients, but there are more specific reasons to try the diet if you are battling cancer. The paleo diet is very low in sugar, which has been found in studies to negatively impact the survival rates of cancer patients. The negative effect is greater for any patients who are overweight, and the paleo diet can help with weight loss as well.

In another study, researchers actually found that some types of cancer cells, including squamous lung cancer cells, are highly dependent on sugar for growth. With less sugar, tumors may grow more slowly, which obviously benefits the patients.

Benefits of the Ketogenic Diet

The keto diet is similar to the paleo diet. The idea is to eat fewer carbohydrates and more fats. The philosophy behind the diet is totally unrelated, but it ends up being very similar in terms of what you can eat. The idea of the diet is that eating more fat and fewer carbs forces the body into ketosis, a state in which it burns fat. On the keto diet you eat similar foods to the paleo diet, but also leave out potatoes and alcohol and you are allowed to eat dairy. The basic guideline is to consume 75 percent of your calories as fat, 20 percent as protein, and only five percent as carbs, although there are some variations.

The keto diet has been proven to be an excellent tool for weight loss, for improving sensitivity to insulin, and for reversing the course of type 2 diabetes. It has also been shown in research to reduce symptoms of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease and to reduce seizures in children who have epilepsy.

For cancer patients, there is evidence that the keto diet can be beneficial too. In animal studies, tumors shrank when the animals were fed a keto diet with restricted calories. In other studies specifically with cancer patients, the keto diet was found to enhance the effects of radiation therapy and chemotherapy, making them more effective.

There are few risks of trying the keto or paleo diets, as both are more healthful than the typical American diet. However, it is always important to speak to your doctor before making any drastic dietary changes. This is especially true for cancer patients. There may be some risks that you aren’t aware of and that your medical team can warn you about. You may also want to work with a dietician or nutritionist to get started to ensure that your diet is balanced and has adequate nutrients for you to heal and fight your cancer.

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Natural Remedies — Lime Leaf Tea — Té de Limón

The other day we were going through our morning routine and discovered, to our horror, that we were out of coffee!  Never one to be dismayed by such trivialities, my husband ducked out back and plucked a few leaves off our limón tree.  Quite soon we had ourselves a nice cuppa of té de limón.

Despite what google translator says, we don’t have a lemon tree in the backyard.  It’s a LIME tree, specifically a Mexican lime tree (Citrus aurantifolia Swingle). The Mexican lime was actually introduced to Mexico by the Spaniards in the early 1500s.  That didn’t stop the author of my little herb book Antiguo Recetario Medicinal Azteca from including it though.  

We use limes on about everything from tacos to cucumbers. Delicious! So let me tell you about the health benefits of regular lime consumption.

Lime juice prevents scurvy.  Lest you think that this is irrelevant in this day and age, 6 to 8 percent of the general population in the United States are thought to have scurvy-level deficiencies.  Scurvy is especially prevalent among the poor, homeless and college students. 

Adding lime juice to food prevents cholera. Not to alarm you, but in 2016, there were 132,121 cholera cases and 2420 deaths attributed to cholera reported worldwide.  Cholera resistance seems to be a very positive benefit to lime consumption in my book.

The peel and leaves have been shown to reduce the oxidative degeneration of cells in neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Lime prevents cancer.  It slows cancer’s progress.  It destroys cancer cells. It is toxic to pancreatic cancer cells.  A high citrus diet combined with green tea consumption reduces your chance of getting any type of cancer incidences.

Lime relieves muscle spasms.

Lime is rich in fiber, vitamin C, folate and potassium, all good for general health.

Limes are helpful in the treatment of diabetes. Combined with garlic, lime juice decreases blood glucose levels.  (See Garlic Tea)

It’s great for cardiovascular health! Lime juice and peel have been shown to be effective in treating atherogenesis, plaque formation in the arteries, lowering high blood pressure and reduces triglycerides, cholesterol, and LDL.  Including limes and other citrus fruits in your daily diet reduces the chance of developing cardiovascular disease, especially cerebral infarctions.

Lime leaves are a good source of natural antioxidants and antimicrobial compounds and are comparable in their antibiotic effect to standard antibiotics such as tobramycin, gentamicin sulphate, ofloxacin, and ciprofloxacin.

Regular lime consumption has been proven to help protect the liver from toxins.

Limes can help prevent and reduce the severity of osteoporosis.

Limes are antifungal and antiparasitic.

Lime juice is recommended for preventing and treating urinary tract infections.

With all this medicinal good stuff in such a small thing, it’s worth reconsidering putting the lime in the coconut and drinking it all up.  

Not quite so adventurous?  You can still enjoy the health benefits by adding a little lime leaf tea to your diet, here’s how.

Pick and wash a handful of medium-sized leaves.  Add to a liter of water.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.  Allow to cool enough to drink.  Add a drop of honey for sweetening if you like.  Enjoy.

 

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The Herbal Starter Kit by the Herbal Academy
Enroll now in the Herbal Academy Introductory Course!

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About the Herbal Self-Care for Stress Management Course

Enroll in the Herbal Self-Care for Stress Management Course

Herbal Academy just created yet another wonderful online course that I completed this month, earning me yet another little badge for my student dashboard. I’m so proud of me! This course was entitled Herbal Self-Care for Stress Management and had tons of useful information on the topic.  

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Stress is something we all experience at one time or another, for short periods of time (work deadlines) or longer periods of time (being a caretaker for a chronically ill loved one).  This course emphasized the importance of holistic care in treating the whole body and mind and, in this case, using herbs in order to become well after being subjected to periods of stress.  Can you see why I loved this class?

The course was divided into 3 units. Unit 1 presented information about how stress affects the body both physically and emotionally. Financial problems, time constraints, social interactions, cultural stressors (poverty, oppression, marginalization), natural disasters, traumatic events, excessive screen time, air, noise or light pollution, and infections are all stressors and activate that “flight or fight” survival mode. Being in a stressful “flight or fight” mode changes the rhythm of your heartbeat, inhibits proper digestion, alters breathing patterns, and raises blood sugar, none of which are conducive to a healthy body long term.  

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Unit 2 was full of suggestions on changing your diet in order to reduce the effects of stress on the body.  (See Food as Medicine) I was surprised to see how strong the gut-brain connection really is.  Adding prebiotic (whole grains such as wheat and rye, legumes, alliums like onions, garlic and leeks, bananas, asparagus, artichokes, Jerusalem artichokes, chicory, dandelion, burdock roots) and probiotic (yogurt and milk kefir, fermented vegetables like sauerkraut, kimchi, cultured pickles, miso and other fermented soy products like tempeh, and fermented drinks like kombucha and water kefir) foods to your diet will certainly help you reach a more balanced state of wellness. (See also Gut Health Super Bundle, Garlic Tea, and Herbal Fermentation) Making food from scratch, including bitters in your diet, ensuring proper hydration, taking the time to enjoy your meal without distractions, and avoiding caffeine, alcohol, refined sugar and artificial sweeteners are also great suggestions for improving gut health.  The course included several printouts highlighting trace nutrients the body needs to reduce or eliminate the physical and emotional effects of stress.

In addition to dietary recommendations, lifestyle alterations can really make a difference to your health.  Adding practices, like mindful breathing, yoga, and Tai Chi have been shown to reduce stress.  Here, try one now.

Other things you can do to improve your health generally involve spending more time in nature and bettering your social support system.  I don’t mean more friends on Facebook, but improving the quality of your relationships.  I’ll talk more about these in an upcoming post on the Happiness Course I finished recently.

Unit 2 also had a good introduction to aromatherapy and essential oils as they relate to stress and self-care including a list of herbs shown to be most effective for a variety of stress-induced ailments.  Lavender tops the list in several categories. The course provided recipes for several aromatherapy herbal blends to try out.

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After addressing safety issues and possible drug interactions, Unit 3 outlined three types of herbs most beneficial for stress-reduction application: nervines, adaptogens, and sedatives.  Nervines are herbs that influence the nervous system in some way. Chamomile and lemon balm are nervines. Adaptogens, also known as Qi tonics or Rasayana, are herbs that assist natural adaptive responses to stress.  Licorice is an adaptogen.  Sedatives are herbs that can sedate the central and peripheral nervous systems. Hops and valerian are sedatives. There was also a section on how to make infusions, decoctions, tinctures, and tea blends using the 17 herbs highlighted.

The more I delve into herbal lore, the more I realize how much I have yet to learn.  Once upon a time, herbal remedies, medicines, and tonics were carefully preserved generation after generation. These days, it’s so easy to rely on pharmaceuticals when illness strikes and the continuity of natural healing has been lost.  What I really appreciated most about this course was that using herbs for wellness wasn’t presented as a miracle cure-all, rather incorporating herbs is only one aspect of healthy living.  The lifestyle that many live is not conducive to optimal wellness. Perhaps it’s time to take a moment and find balance.

Partial Lesson Excerpt – Herbal Academy Course on Stress Management Course

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Enroll in the Herbal Self-Care for Stress Management Course
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Natural Remedies — Cherimoya

It’s that time again.  Walking in our backyard has become a hazard.  When you least expect it, heavy green fruit balls just might fall on your head.  So beware!

Our cherimoya, AKA chirimoya, chirmuya or custard apple, tree is loaded this year.   This strange name comes from the Quechua language and means “cold seeds” so called because the tree grows at altitudes of 1,300 to 2,600 m (4, 200 to 8,500 ft) and must have cooler weather periodically or will eventually go dormant.  There are several varieties of cherimoya.  The one in our backyard is the Annona cherimola.

You know a cherimoya is ripe when it has the consistency of a ripe avocado when squeezed, a bit mushy but is not yet brown and rotty. The peel and seeds are not edible.  In fact, the seeds are poisonous when crushed.  They contain small amounts of neurotoxic acetogenins like annonacin.  Dried seeds that have been ground into powder can be used to make a paste that can help get rid of hair lice.

Cherimoya tree bark extract is also dangerous.  If injected it can induce paralysis. I don’t know how anyone would have discovered that by accident, but it’s a useful fact to know. The leaves have long been used to treat hypercholesterolemia in Mexico and scientific study has confirmed that there is a basis for their use in treating high cholesterol. Cherimoya leaves have also been used traditionally in the treatment of diarrhea and dysentery and again, scientific studies confirm its use for those illnesses.

“We had an abundance of mangoes, papaias and bananas here, but the pride of the islands, the most delicious fruit known to men, cherimoya, was not in season. It has a soft pulp, like a

And oh, the taste!  Once you break open a cherimoya, the inside is creamy white. The riper it is, the sweeter and softer the texture.  While I’ve seen descriptions of the flavor ranging from banana to bubble gum, to me, it has a sweet, citrus flavor.  In fact, they are so sweet that I can’t eat more than one.

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There’s more to these huge ugly roundish fruits than meets the eye. Cherimoya is an excellent source of Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, fiber, and riboflavin.  It’s been proven to help with depression and to be suitable for the treatment of oxidative stress related disorders including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Asperger syndrome, cancer, atherosclerosis, heart failure, myocardial infarction, Sickle Cell disease, autism, chronic fatigue syndrome, and even tempers the wear and tear of normal aging like wrinkles, osteoporosis and gray hair. Cherimoya has also been shown to be successful in the treatment of diabetes and gastrointestinal disorders.

The fruit is only in season a short time, in our area mid-September to November, so it’s best to eat what you can while the cherimoya is available.

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The Herbal Starter Kit by the Herbal Academy

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