Vitamin D Deficiency – More Dangerous Than We Thought?

vitamin d

Believe it or not, all vitamins play a vital role in the level of our health. Most often than not, people tend to take daily vitamins as a way to make sure they are getting the supplementation that they need to help the body function properly and to give the body nutrients we are not be getting from our daily diets. Vitamins in no way shape or form are ever able to replace a meal, but they can help stimulate and supply the nutrients that we desperately need to maintain a level of health and even weight loss.

More than three million cases in the United States are reported each year when it comes to vitamin deficiencies. Usually, medical tests are needed, such as lab work and the evaluation from a medical professional. However, the outlook is very good as it remains treatable and can be controlled within months of treatment. Vitamin D is important for the body, because we need it to help absorb calcium and promote bone growth. Without vitamin D, we can experience adverse health effects that we may not know could be happening, especially since early deficiencies show no symptoms.

It is said that most people with darker skin and people over the age of 65 are at more risk for the condition. What’s most compelling is that most people who are vitamin D deficient, have no idea they suffer from the condition, as early stages of deficiency show no symptoms at all. However, for more severe deficiency, it can lead to brittle, bone thinning and even misshapen bones. But that’s stunningly not all. In other cases, vitamin D deficiency can lead to seasonal depression, fatigue, muscle weakness, brain fog, pain within the bones, bone fractures and weakened immune system. Even short-term deficiencies can have a profound effect on long-term complications (1,2,4).

With that said, it comes as no surprise that vitamin D is very important to the body. It is responsible for “promoting calcium absorption, maintaining normal calcium and phosphate levels, promoting bone and cell growth, and reducing inflammation” (2).

According to healthline.com, there are several risk factors that can cause and have been attributed to the rising incidences of vitamin D deficiency cases. Because we can naturally absorb vitamin D through sunlight, wearing sunscreen, which blocks our skin from being able to produce vitamin D, is definitely a risk factor, in addition to not participating in outdoor activities. For women, if you breastfeed your children for longer periods of time, exclusively, you too, also run the risk of developing a vitamin D deficiency. We all know that being obese can have many negative effects on your health, and when it comes to vitamin D deficiencies, being obese can raise your body’s vitamin D requirements. Sometimes, people can be born with vitamin D deficiencies or have diseases or medical conditions, such as cancer and autoimmune diseases, that cause them to be deficient as well (2, 4).

Luckily, should you find yourself suffering from a vitamin D deficiency or symptoms, there are several things you can do naturally to aid in resolving the issue. As we mentioned, spending time in the sun without sunscreen for short amounts of time can help your body naturally produce vitamin D. As it turns out, just simple sunlight can be the cure to your vitamin D woes, because according to Dr. Axe.com, our bodies are pretty good at producing all of the vitamin D we need, just from sunlight alone. If being in the sun without sunscreen is just not an option for you, something as simple as spending time outside in the sunlight, like taking a simple walk in the sun, or going to the park may work. There are also several foods that you can add to your diet that have vitamin D.

According to Dr. Axe.com, “Top Ten Vitamin D Rich Foods,” these foods include cod liver oil, salmon, sardines, mackerel, tuna, raw milk, mushrooms and caviar (4). Healthline.com also adds, egg yolk, cereal, orange juice and yogurt. Luckily, if in the event none of these sound appetizing to you, a simple trip to the grocery store or health food store can offer a wide array of different vitamin D brand supplements that you can add first thing in the morning. The recommended daily dose, as reported in 2012 through the Mayo Clinic is 600 IU daily, however, it is important to note that vitamin D supplementation is included in all vitamin supplements that exist on the market. So, even taking a multivitamin alone, can help you get the vitamin D you need.

Aside from the fact that vitamin D supplementation, vitamin D rich foods and simple sun exposure can help fight depression and fight against the disease, it can all do wonders for weight loss as well! According to a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, those who took a Vitamin D supplement in addition to a calcium supplement lost a significant amount of more weight than those who took a placebo supplement. The study showed that both supplement combinations were able to aid in controlling and suppressing appetite (5).

Whether you are vitamin D deficient or not, whether or not you fear of the possibility of even becoming deficient and desire to prevent it, the benefits of ensuring that your body is getting the adequate amounts of the daily requirement is substantial. It is important to make sure that you do supply your body with enough vitamin D for better bone health, and if you are wanting to lose weight or help suppress your appetite, vitamin D in conjunction with a calcium supplement may just do the trick. Either way, it’s always important to of course, to consult a doctor if you are concerned that you may have a vitamin D deficiency, regardless, because all vitamins are essential to our health.

Sources:

  1. https://g.co/kgs/Rtt6k8
  2. http://www.healthline.com/health/vitamin-d-deficiency?m=1#symptoms2
  3. http://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/vitamin-d/dosing/hrb-20060400
  4. https://draxe.com/top-10-vitamin-d-rich-foods/
  5. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/british-journal-of-nutrition/article/calcium-plus-vitamin-d-supplementation-and-fat-mass-loss-in-female-very-lowcalcium-consumers-potential-link-with-a-calciumspecific-appetite-control/623D71E0A965E910C48903089FA7B56C

Health Gimmicks: What You Need to Know

health gimmicks

If you don’t live under a rock, and you have social media, chances are you’ve heard of self-proclaimed products that promise significant weight loss and a new lease on life from your friends. Either they have tried it or they are selling it. That’s right, we are talking about belly wraps, Herbalife and other products that claim to help you rapidly lose weight with no extra effort from you. These products fill our Facebook newsfeeds with high promises and even sometimes promise an income in addition to health. But do they really work, are they really safe, do they help keep the weight off, or are they just a scam? We will uncover the truth of health gimmicks, to further help you decide which of these options, if any, are right for you.

Belly wraps are said to be a contouring tool that will help tighten, tone and infuse your belly with high-intensity chemicals that are said to create ultimate results. These claims are intriguing because these claims come with mesmerizing before and after photos that would make anyone take notice and want to try for themselves. They don’t necessarily even have to be placed around the belly, as they can be placed around your neck, arms, thighs etc. and are said to encourage inches upon inches lost during your journey for a better body. For $15 to $25 a pop, you can pick up one of these bad boys to try for yourself. But do they really work?

According to realself.com, the results from body wraps are actually temporary. They say that sure, it would be great to use to look slimmer before a big event, but they have not yet been proven for long-term weight loss. If you go to the “it works” wrap site itself, they note that their product can minimize cellulite appearance, improve skin tightness, and tighten, tone and form the targeted area. Although all of that sounds promising, they do have a disclaimer that notes that results may vary and they are not guaranteed. The FDA notes that “There is no scientific or clinical evidence to support the use of body wraps or sauna suits for controlling weight. Nor is there any data to back up promoters’ claims that these products will eliminate cellulite and bulging fat, or make ‘spot reductions’ possible, or improve the ‘calorie burn rate,’ or control appetite. Accordingly, there are no FDA-approved body wraps or sauna suits”. Furthermore, the “FDA had previously notified the body wrap companies that their products’ labels were false and misleading and that they had failed to register or list their products with FDA as required by law. Listings in the Enforcement Report will not necessarily be the end to FDA dealings with these quacks, as the agency will still be free to use regulatory or legal actions in the cases,” per their website.

When it comes to Herbalife, it is easy to want to take part in such a product that claims to help you significantly reduce weight with no added effort to you. Even Zija falls under this category, as sort of a sister to Herbalife. Let’s face it, our daily activities force us to not have enough time in the day sometimes to really focus on ourselves and health. We may not have time to exercise or even meet the three meal a day requirement. So, by nature, taking supplements and shakes said to help you lose the pounds with no extra effort, sounds divine. The level of Herbalife products range from far and wide. They harbor everything from meal replacement shakes, to vitamins, energy supplements, health supplements and even a line of products for athletes that encourage further bulking and performance enhancement. What people don’t know, is that a lot of the ingredients found in Herbalife and products alike, can be bought over the counter at a health and nutrition store for half the cost. Okay, we get it, having to do research to find out what those supplements are that you would personally need for your personal goals might be challenging, which makes Herbalife all more appealing. The company creates all you ever need into one product in a perfectly wrapped bow, with no research or physical exertion from you to help you meet your weight loss goals.

However, is it too good to be true? Well, according to hesca.org, fructose is a naturally occurring sugar that can be found in Herbalife products. Of course, because the sugar is found in fruits and other natural sources, it’s pretty safe, but not at the level of which you would find in an Herbalife product. Herbalife serves you with 9 grams of sugar, which is much higher than what you would find in products over the counter. Not only do their products exhibit high levels of sugar, but low levels of protein and fiber. In addition, there have been several complaints from those who have tried it, that it took several months to lose just five or six pounds. However, there have been several clinical trials conducted on their products that claim that their products are legitimate and can be of some benefit to you. Yet, Herbalife has been sued and lost and has been investigated as a pyramid scheme as well.

Regardless of your weight loss journey and goals, and whether these products sound appealing to you or not, we always encourage that you take an active part in your health by doing avid research into the products you use. Sometimes, products can be misleading and ineffective. We don’t discourage or encourage the use of any products like these. The point is to make sure you remain knowledgeable and informed about the things that you put in your body, especially when they come with a hefty price tag like Herbalife and body wraps. Yet, we would never discourage anything that would take away from building a better lifestyle for yourself. Anything that will help catapult a person into a healthier lifestyle when it comes to eating right and exercising, even supplementation, we can definitely get behind.

Vertical Climber vs Treadmill: Which is Better?

merax vertical climber

When regular cardio workouts just don’t do it for you, machines like treadmills, bike machines and most importantly, vertical climbing machines are great alternatives to take to get a fulfilling cardio workout that gets the heart pumping, blood flowing and calories burning. All the while improving fitness and health. If you are a part of the growing population struggling with obesity (36.5% of Americans), as noted by the center of disease control and prevention, then chances are, you are or will at some point in your lifetime, suffer from one of the several health related conditions that stem from obesity, such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and or certain types of cancer. These are all great reasons to work on getting in shape. With the right diet and exercise, you can accomplish all of your fitness goals from maintaining a healthy body weight or improving your stamina and cardio endurance, if you are already at a healthy body weight and an avid gym goer. As a result, regardless of your current BMI, the vertical climbing machine can do wonders for your body, performance, and fitness.

There are several benefits to using a vertical climbing machine that you will find attractive as you embark on an exciting, yet fulfilling cardio journey. The biggest benefit that is most attractive to those seeking a healthier lifestyle, that machines like the vertical climbing machine can accomplish is, if you don’t necessarily want to immediately join a gym just yet, you can purchase a climbing machine and add it to your home gym, just to get you started as a beginner who may be too embarrassed or inconvenienced to go to the gym. Vertical climbing machines by no means, are for the weak, however. Although it’s a great way to get started quickly, you must be ready to feel the burn if you are a beginner. If cost is a factor to you, yes, these machines can be pricey, but the benefits outweigh the damage done to the bank account. The center of disease control and prevention also notes that obesity can be quite costly, the average cost for Americans in 2008 on medical expenses alone was $147 billion, which averages out to over $1,000 per individual, which on occasion, is far more money spent on medical costs than a basic vertical climbing machine.

As we mentioned, it is said that cardio exercise is a great way to lower your body fat by blasting it away and helping you keep it away. It’s no secret that calories give your body the energy it needs to sustain a rigorous workout like cardio or the use of a climbing machine. Mayoclinic.com tells us that 1 pound is equal to 3,500 calories, and as a result, they say that “you need to burn 3,500 calories more than you take in to lose 1 pound”. According to menshealth.com, the vertical climber or “versaclimber,” burns more calories than any other machine out there, which is exciting, because all you would really need to do is burn 500 calories a day in conjunction with a healthy diet, just to lose one pound a week. Using a vertical climber for just 30 minutes a day, will probably burn more than 600 calories a day, getting you on the right track for fat burning success, which in turn can lead to faster results. This is just another added benefit that everyone can get on board with.

What makes this machine such a calorie burner? It’s the fact that it requires full body movement and delivers a full body workout, whereas most machines like a treadmill or bike machine, only offer a lower body cardio workout. When you engage your entire body in such a workout, this alone aids in maximizing the burning of calories, since you are using all of your muscle groups. This can help you tone, sculpt and shape every aspect of your physique as your upper body is challenged just as much as your lower body, while using your own body’s resistance.

Another added benefit from using a vertical climbing machine is that it offers a low impact cardio workout to your body. Treadmills and other machines alike, along with cardio class, can put strain on already tired joints and muscles, and it can even aggravate preexisting conditions such as arthritic conditions, back problems, or other physical ailments that may make it hard to endure a high impact cardio workout. The use of a vertical climber is a sure way to get in a good cardio workout without inconveniencing your joints or muscles any further.

Using a vertical climber is also beneficial for the fact that it is adjustable and versatile. It is easy to adjust to help maximize your workout, not only for your needs but for a sense of customization. You can speed up or slow down your progress based off of what works for you. This can also make it a progressive machine. Sure, you can adjust your speed on other machines as well, but the type of workout you get from the vertical climber, trumps that of other fitness machines.

All in all, yes, vertical climbers do work, the results people have gotten from the use, based off reviews and stories alone, is astounding, and most personal trainers recommend its use, overwhelmingly for cardio, calorie burning and weight loss. Whatever your fitness goals may be from picking up some sort of cardio workout, you will see fast results, with a low impact cardio workout, comfortably from your own home or in a gym, all from the vertical climber.

TUDCA (Tauroursodeoxycholic Acid) Benefits and Medical Uses

TUDCA

TUDCA has been a part of Chinese medicine for at least hundreds of years, although its beginnings are not quite clear. It is naturally produced by our bodies as a water-soluble bile salt, in order to protect our liver from acids produced in our body. Though only trace amounts are found in our bodies, animals such as bears have large amounts of TUDCA in their bile. In fact, up to 75% of the bile in the Asian Black Bear is TUDCA. Because Chinese medicine has used animal bile to assist with ailments for hundreds of years, we can only assume this is how the usage of TUDCA began.

Put simply, TUDCA is the taurine conjugate form of UDCA or ursodeoxycholic acid. While TUDCA is not FDA approved in the United States, UDCA actually is, particularly for the treatment of autoimmune disease in the liver. In 1954, Japan began producing synthetic TUDCA and UDCA, making it easier to obtain and also study.

It is a water-soluble bile salt, which is in contrast to regular bile salts possessing both water soluble and fat soluble ends and conferring a detergent effect. When bile acids back up in the liver, a clinical state called cholestasis which occurs when the liver is unhealthy, these bile salts can be damaging to cells by destroying the membranes and signaling for cell death. TUDCA and other bile salts like UDCA compete with this toxicity, and thus indirectly protect cells from death, making it a treatment option for those with this liver disease.

It was also used to improve vision in the past, which is still reflected in many recent studies that show its role in protecting the retina, rods, and cones. One can only imagine how complex it seemed during that era to protect one’s vision, so TUDCA was held in quite a high regard. In 1263, the first remedy for sight weakness was merely mentioned, corrective lenses, but it wasn’t until 1286 that spectacles were even invented, and it took until 1604 for Johannes Kepler to describe the function of the retina, demonstrating lenses to correct both near and far cited issues. As one can easily determine, before this time, it was extremely important to be proactive with one’s eye care, as there were virtually no solutions to fix bad vision.

What Does TUDCA Do?

TUDCA has shown to be effective at treating a variety of health issues, but primarily it is used for decreasing liver enzymes and treating cholestasis. TUDCA has been shown to improve liver healing rates in both steatotic and non-steatotic livers via ER stress reduction. In one study, TUDCA resulted in less cell death via alleviating a mechanism known to accelerate cell apoptosis and also suppressed the actions of IRE-1and PKR-like ER kinase. This cell protective effect has also been seen in the epithelial cells of bile ducts, which are damaged during chronic hepatitis.

TUDCA has also been shown to be what is called an “anti-apoptotic agent” for neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, and other more rare conditions. For retinal disorders, it can reduce stress associated with increased glucose levels, and maintain healthy vision while protecting the cones and rods.

Finally, TUDCA has also been shown to help with obesity, strokes, spinal cord injuries and even myocardial infection in limited studies. It is also used for improving the immune system in general, as well as protecting skeletal muscles and organs, including the heart. Because of this, it is often beneficial in protecting the gallbladder. Because of the way TUDCA works, it can actually promote healthy cholesterol levels while protecting the liver.

However, it should be noted that any effects from usage of TUDCA beyond the liver are preliminary, whereas studies showing its impact on liver enzyme levels and cholestasis are quite reliable, as TUDCA is already being used in clinical settings for these purposes.

Scientific Studies

In 2010, Stanford University published a summary of scientific findings on their “HOPES” website, which showed promising results for tauroursodeoxycholic acid, or TUDCA, particularly among those suffering from Huntington’s. Because one of the major ailments of Huntington’s is caused mostly by the death of nerve cells in the brain, stopping or delaying these cell deaths can cause major disease improvement. Part of this cell death has been concluded to be initiated by apoptosis, a programmed cell death. As Stanford concluded, research shows that TUDCA is able to prevent apoptosis in liver cells, suggesting that this effect may be able to be replicated in the brain. By protecting mitochondria, TUDCA is able to decrease degeneration while preventing cell death. Because animal studies have proven to be so effective, Stanford suggests that more clinical trials involving humans should be performed, particularly concerning cell death.

In Beijing, they began doing just that. On clinicaltrials.gov, one can see that in 2013, the Beijing Trendful Kangjian Medical Information Consulting Limited Company began recruiting for a study whose results have not yet been published. In China, TUDCA is approved by the state food and government association for cholesterol stone treatments. The study, that is now complete, aimed to evaluate the efficacy of TUDCA in patients with Cholestatic Liver Disease, and the findings are expected by many to be positive when released.

How to Take TUDCA

Doses as low as 10mg daily have shown to improve liver regenesis in clinically ill patients. To improve bile salt composition, a dose of around 15-20mg/kg bodyweight is ideal according to early studies.

For most people, dosages of 200 to 300 milligrams twice daily can be taken. It is worth noting, however, that dosage should correspond with weight, so women, or men who weigh less than average, should adjust their dosage accordingly. The maximum recommended dose for treatment of fatty liver disease is 1.7g per day.

TUDCA is often sold in powder form, which can be added to shakes or water, and many find that the powder form is more affordable and may even make their own capsules based on the recommended dosage. It is easily found in capsule form, however, and the suggested daily intakes are the same regardless of the method. For extra precaution, check with the manufacturer’s directions, as your product may contain different levels of concentrations.

For those specifically looking for liver benefits, such as those who want to maintain a healthy liver while treating ailments with modern medicine, it is highly suggested to pair this supplement with milk thistle, as the two work well together for protecting the liver.

Amazing Health Benefits of Chlorella

chlorella

Chlorella is a fascinating plant with more than 20 species, with each species also having a variety of strains. Interestingly, the different strains and species have virtually the same benefits as one another once they are processed into foods and supplements. The whole plant is usually used to make supplements and medicine, and the plant is found in abundance in fresh water, as it is considered an algae.

It also interesting in that even though it has been around since virtually the beginning of time, it took the invention of the microscope for humans to notice its existence. Because of its small size, it could not be seen outside of a microscope, and was therefore not discovered until the late 1800s. A Dutch microbiologist is responsible for its name and discovery, and was named Chlorella in 1890 by Dr. Beijerinck.

Later, in World War, Germans used the plant as a protein source. By the 1920s, Japan had learned how to cultivate this microscopic plant, and by the end of World War II, the United States, Japan and Germany were working together to understand it.

This led to an understanding of its medicinal effects on several ailments, and even led NASA to study it as food in space because of its nutrient supply. Researchers also found that the plant had a growth promoting factor among animals. By the 1970s, however, many were reluctant to continue using Chlorella when some patients began suffering from blisters when exposed to sunlight. Put simply, this was caused by chlorophyll remaining in the body and reacting with sunlight.

The few who continued to research, however, soon noticed promising results against cancer, particularly as technology advanced with research methods. This discovery led to Chlorella becoming popular once again.

What it Does

Chlorella is raved about for its anticancer properties, and it is said to reduce side effects from radiation and increase white blood cell count among those with cancers, AIDS and similar ailments. Aside from cancer related treatments, Chlorella is still quite promising. It has shown to improve the response to flu vaccinations, stimulate immunity, prevent colds and even protect the body against metal toxicity from metals such as lead. Studies have also revealed promising results for the treatment of diabetes, and the general antioxidant level of Chlorella is considered to be quite beneficial, particularly in those who smoke.

Some have used Chlorella to treat stomach ulcers, constipation, menstrual ailments, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, improve fatigue, relieve asthma and reduce the symptoms of fibromyalgia. It is used to improve general digestion by providing “good bacteria” similar to a probiotic, and has even been used to treat colitis, Chrohn’s and other similar diseases.

Because it is also a source of magnesium, it can sometimes relieve symptoms of magnesium deficiency, such as joint pain or constipation.

Scientific Studies

Virginia Commonwealth University’s Medical College of Virginia published a study in 2001 which reviewed evidence of the supplement’s benefits. In double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized clinical trials, 55 patients with fibromyalgia, 33 with hypertension and nine with ulcerative colitis were studied. Subjects took variations of pure chlorella and chlorella extract for a period of two to three months, administering the supplement daily. Results concluded that the supplement may reduce blood pressure, accelerate the healing of wounds, enhance the immune system and lower cholesterol levels.

In 2003, more research was performed and then published in the Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology when a powder form of chlorella (7%) was administered to rats with diabetes for 11 weeks. Results showed lipid peroxide values decreased, decreased blood glycated hemoglobin and reduced cholesterol levels. In summary, the study concluded that chlorella not only can be beneficial in preventing diabetic complications, but it was also rich in antioxidant activity.

Perhaps the most fascinating findings were that chlorella could attenuate lipid peroxidation in cigarette smokers, preventing disease and lowering mortality rates associated with smoking. These findings, published in the peer reviewed journal of Clinical Laboratory in 2013, were supplemented with the reaffirmation that chlorella’s high antioxidant levels were beneficial for almost any ailment.

While official clinical studies are somewhat lacking, the small findings published so far in peer reviewed journals, combined with personal testimonies, look very promising for a number of ailments. While more human studies specifically are needed to determine what, if any, side effects may be present in humans, animals studies have paved the way for this supplement to be further studied and potentially be life changing for humans.

Suggested Usage

One will quickly find that most of the Chlorella sold in the United States is produced in Taiwan or Japan. Before you purchase a supplement, it is important to read about the manufacturer’s reputation, as the cultivation method can cause protein levels, carbohydrates and fat levels to differ drastically, often over 70%.

Because of these differences, one should consult manufacturers’ directions for proper dosages, but a good supplement will likely include guidelines similar to those listed below. Chlorella should always be taken with water or juice, half an hour before consuming food.

Like most supplements, it is available in both powder and capsule form. Capsules should be taken as recommended with dosage guidelines in mind. Powders can be added to foods such as salads and yogurts, mixed with smoothies, juice or water. Keep in mind that adding it to cold foods and drinks is beneficial, but the warmth from warm meals or hot drinks can greatly diminish effects, and is therefore not recommended.

While the recommended dosage is considered safe, it is recommended to begin with a smaller dose, working up to the recommendation to ensure the fewest side effects and best tolerance. Mild headaches, gas and diarrhea can occur due to intolerance, and these symptoms can be relieved by more gradually introducing the supplement to your regimen. They also generally subside within just a few days, but if they continue or concerns arise, contact a physician.

Adults should consume about 3 to 4 grams of powder or supplements per day, with a suggested dosage of 1 to 2 grams for children. Care should be taken to avoid vitamin C within three hours of these supplements, as it can cause toxins to enter your tissues due to the binding of heavy metals being loosened by the vitamin. In addition, it is best to split recommended doses into two or three doses throughout the day. If taking only one dose, it should be done before breakfast.

7 Wall Sit Benefits You Need to Know

wall sit benefits

If you’re a serious gym goer, chances are you have been grasping at straws to find the perfect exercise that will enhance the muscles within your thighs. Most leg day exercises are known to give you increased strength in the legs but typically fall short of a full leg workout that gives you the results you want. That’s where the benefits of wall sit exercises come in.

A wall sit exercise is not hard to execute at all, which you will find to be the first notable benefit, aside from the fact that you can do them anywhere, whether you are at home, a hotel room, or wherever your life takes you, all you need is a wall and your body weight, as wall sits are a body weight bearing exercise. All you have to do is plant those feet on the ground, two feet from the wall, shoulder-width apart, with your knees in line with your ankles, slowly slide down and hold for 30 seconds to a minute, depending on your abilities and whether or not you’re a beginner, and then raise yourself back up, and stand up from there, and your exercise is complete.

Isometric Strength

The benefits of wall sits are never ending. The biggest benefit from wall sits (aside from being easy to perform) is that they increase your isometric strength. What exactly is isometric strength? Well, isometric exercises or any type of isometric training means that the exercise you’re doing does not change your muscle length and joint angle at the point of contraction. This means, that if you have any problems with a particular joint at any given angle when lifting or moving, Isometrics allows you to isolate that joint, further improving your condition. Further according to makingmuscle.com, the body is also able to use isometrics to activate all of its available motor units, which is actually very hard to achieve without isometrics or any other training methods. Isometric training is also a form of not only isolation but a form of using your bodyweight for strength and endurance enhancement that allows you to train with your body against a sitting still object. Any form of isometric training can increasingly improve the health of your heart because this exercise requires your resting heart rate to stay a normal pace. Wall sits can, in turn, allow your heart to not work as hard and it is said that “a heart that does not work as hard all of the time, can stay healthier for longer.”

Stamina

Because wall sits allow you to focus on your muscles as a whole, you can see how it can not only improve your leg strength but further improve your stamina by increasing leg strength. This allows you to execute other exercises more efficiently and easily that you wouldn’t normally be able to perform as easily from just a regular squat or lunge.

Focus

Wall sits are all said to increase your mind’s ability to focus. Because wall sits inherit a form of martial arts with a side of yoga principles, when performing a wall sit properly, it requires an extreme level of focus and awareness of what you are doing. With that type of focus and concentration, wall sits can easily allow your body to be more flexible, in the sense that your posture improves and gets used to the wall sit movement. This can make you feel a little more light and airy once you have included the wall sit into your regimen more frequently.

Balance

Now that we have established that wall sits make you stronger, increase flexibility and can further improve focus and concentration, it will come to no surprise that another added benefit that comes from performing wall sits is that you can improve your balance. Because you have to lean up against a wall with no support at all and perform the exercise on your own, the level of focus and concentration aiding you in balancing can improve your body’s ability to balance as a whole as your go through daily life.

Build Muscle

In addition to the laundry list alread discussed, wall sits are also known to strengthen and tone your calves and abs. This exercise focuses on transferring your body weight to your calves and thighs. That means that all of your weight is transferred to those areas, and you must use your calves and thighs to raise yourself back up in an upward position, further toning those thighs, and because this workout calls for those abdominal muscles to be held in place with force while performing this exercise, with regular breathing and no slouching, your abdominal strength will improve tremendously.

Multi-Task

Wall sits are also versatile and can allow you multitask. You can change up your routine by adding weights or even change the way that you perform a wall sit in general to amp up your exercise, whether you choose to use one leg or the other at a time to improve weakness imbalances, you will certainly be able to get the most of your wall sit exercises through versatility alone. As far as multitasking is concerned, with a wall sit you can easily “watch tv, listen to music or even do curls with a dumbbell as you sit up against a wall”. Getting creative to get the most of your wall sit exercise while decreasing your stress through multitasking activities that you find enjoyable can tack on the added benefit of stress relief.

Burn Fat

Wall sits, of course, aren’t exactly cardio, but any exercise that increases the muscles to use energy can in fact burn calories, so when it comes to weight loss goals, although you won’t burn as many calories as you would through other exercises, wall sits still allow the burning of some calories while the focus remains to strengthen and tone.

Wall sits definitely allow the leg day boost you need by really toning the thighs, glutes, hamstrings, abs, lower back and calves while improving your focus and self-awareness as you perform your hold. In order to reap all the rewards from the benefits we mentioned, the one thing you must always make sure of is that your form is pristine and your efforts consistent. Starting your hold for 30 seconds and slowly increasing over time will definitely help you achieve your leg day goals.

Ashwagandha for Anxiety and Immunity

ashwagandha

The sacred texts of Ayurveda in India predate those of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Because Ashwagandha is mentioned in Ayurveda, we know that its usage dates back about four thousand years. It is mentioned in the sacred texts of Charaka and Sushruta Samhitas. It was originally used to promote longevity in life, and to provide energy for strenuous work.

It possesses adaptogenic properties, meaning it is part of a species that increases tolerance to stressors, whether physical, psychological or chemical. Put simply, it is thought to help maintain homeostasis when the body has trouble doing so. It is also thought to help the body reduce cortisol levels, which in turn can lower stress, improve concentration and prevent excess weight gain. These benefits, combined with other recent discoveries, make it easy to see why Ashwagandha was such an integral part of Ayurveda, particularly when mixed with other substances of similar composition.

The plant itself is a member of the Solanaceae family, and although Ayurveda was practiced mostly in India, it was also used in areas such as Sri Lanka and Pakistan. The plant is native to Australia, Africa and Eastern Asia. In African tribes, Ashwagandha was used to fight inflammation, much like today, and it was also used to treat fevers.

Because of its traditional use for concentration as well as an aphrodisiac, it is often called “Indian Ginseng.” While this once was likely a very accurate description, today, we know of an ever expanding list of benefits that Ashwagandha can provide.

What Does Ashwagandha Do?

The number of ailments treated by Ashwagandha is virtually endless, as it can prohibit the toll stress often takes on our bodies. Because we can’t always know what ailments are direct results from stress, the following is a list of ailments that this supplement is said to prevent or treat.

  • Sexual function – Treats many fertility issues (men and women), increases sexual desire, prevents uterine fibroids, improves sexual performance and promotes healthy menstruation in women.
  • Inflammation – Treats pain, inflammation, arthritis, fibromyalgia
  • Stress – Reduces the body’s response to stress in general, lowers cortisol, helps alleviate anxiety
  • Immunity – Decreased response to stress helps body fight its own battles more efficiently, increases immunity to infections and colds.
  • Cancer – Slows tumor growth, shown to prevent cancers, improves immunity for those at risk, serves as an alternative treatment for cancer.
  • Other – Can improve cognitive functions  in those with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and even head trauma, improves insomnia, bronchitis, asthma, chronic liver disease, improves physical abilities, muscle and nerve center relaxant, regulates blood sugar, reduce cravings, balance thyroid and reduce cholesterol.

Scientific Studies

The African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines published a study in 2011 documenting many of the effects that have been scientifically proven with Ashwagandha. When testing rats in a swimming pool, stamina was increased with use of Ashwagandha, and it also prevented adrenal gland changes and cortisol content. It was also found to prevent stress induced ulcers before they began, and even treated and controlled uterine fibroids in mice. In children with deficient memories, the herb improved cognition, and it prevented loss of memory in those with old age.

Suggested Usage

Both Ashwagandha and Physalis alkekengi are known as “wild cherry,” so one should be careful to first select a product with the proper ingredients. Typically, manufacturers’ directions should be followed as recommended, as higher doses can cause the supplement to act similarly to creatine or steroids.

Ashwagandha is available as a topical oil, and can be used to increase stamina and endurance, or reduce pain and inflammation. Most topical oils are suggested to sit on the affected area for half an hour, and then be removed with a cloth, although individual products may vary. As an oral supplement or tea, the recommended daily dosage is 600 to 1000 milligrams, twice daily. Liquid extract can be added to water, and many teas already contain the extract.

For insomnia, older, more traditional methods are recommended. Simmer the root (often sold in a powder form) in milk, and sweeten with honey before bedtime.

Apple Cider Vinegar – Hoax or Real Deal?

apple cider vinegar

Perhaps one of the world’s most ancient remedies, Apple Cider Vinegar is also one of the simplest and most fascinating. It is said that Hippocrates prescribed it along with a dose of honey for general good health, and this “elixir of life” has been used since about 3000 BC. Most modern day research involving the vinegar has focused on metabolism and joint pain, two common ailments that show promising improvement when treated with apple cider vinegar.

While there are very complex debates about the exact origin of Apple Cider Vinegar, the best way to understand its origin is by understanding vinegar itself. Because virtually anything can be turned to vinegar by a process that resembles wine, we can conclude that apple cider vinegar was produced in areas where apples were abundant. Apples were a popular fruit in ancient Greece, so it is assumed that when Hippocrates wrote his remedies regarding vinegar, apple cider vinegar was one of the common forms used. The ailments he discussed alongside vinegar were various infections and wounds, and as time went on, vinegar was used for more and more ailments.

What Does Apple Cider Vinegar Do?

Perhaps the most well-known ailment for which apple cider vinegar is effective is diabetes. Though it can also boost a metabolism, which is a major concern for many with diabetes, it can also improve insulin sensitivity in high carb meals, reduce blood sugar with consumption of carbs, and even help blood sugar levels remain stable through times of sleep.

In addition to helping those with diabetes maintain healthy blood sugar and weight, it can also help with everyday life. It helps people feel fuller after a meal so they avoid overeating, as well as providing the much discussed boost in metabolism, tackling excess weight from two perspectives. Of course, healthy weights help support healthy hearts, and apple cider vinegar can also lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, reduce blood pressure and even prevent the oxidation process in LDL cholesterol (which can lead to heart disease), leading to an overall healthier heart.

Of course, anyone who has seen articles on the internet lately knows that one of the most popular suggested uses for apple cider vinegar is protecting against cancer. While studies have not been scientifically conclusive regarding apple cider vinegar’s role in cancer treatment, it is worth noting that most studies involved animals and rice vinegar, so more research is most certainly needed. Many studies, however, showed the rice vinegar to kill or shrink cancer cells and tumors in test tubes, so future research could be promising.

Scientific Studies

A Dutch study published in 2012 focused on a 15 year old girl who suffered an erosive tooth after regular consumption of Apple Cider Vinegar. The same study found that the culture in North Africa promoted the use of the remedy, and it was often used to aid in weight loss in both males and females. The study showed the women who consumed the apple cider vinegar lost more weight than those who did not consume it.

Another study published by authors in Greece found that ingesting vinegar before a meal did actually improve blood flow to the muscles. Glucose uptake by the forearm was improved, reducing hypertriglyceridaemia and postprandial hyperinsulinaemia. In short, the study found that vinegar could improve insulin resistance and metabolic function in the atherogenic prediabetic state.

In 2015, the Journal of Diabetic Research concluded similar findings, as they found a decrease in postprandial hyperglycaemia, hyperinsulinaemia and hypertriglyceridaemia. Increases in glucose uptake were observed, where insulin action in skeletal muscles were also observed.

In Sweden, however, more side effects were found and were published in 2007 in BMC Gastroenterology. Ten patients, all with type 1 diabetes, were studied along with their gastric emptying rate, using ultrasonography. The study concluded the gastric emptying rate was reduced by apple cider vinegar, which could further complicate type 1 diabetes.

Because of some of the side effects discovered in these scientific studies, such as tooth erosion, care should be taken to consume the proper dosage, and to drink enough fluids after consumption. In addition, one should consult his or her physician and/or naturopath to monitor potential side effects.

Suggested Usage

Because the modern day practice of pasteurization can remove many of the benefits from fermented foods, it is important to recognize a good, raw, apple cider vinegar, from those that are overly pasteurized products. These often have little nutritional value and diminished anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. A good vinegar will contain amino acids as well as antioxidants. Apple Cider Vinegar most helpful for ailments will be raw, unpasteurized, unfiltered and have a cloudy appearance. This cloudy appearance is due to the “mother,” or healthy bacteria, still being present in the vinegar. This healthy bacteria is probiotic and antimicrobial.

The suggested daily dosage is one to two tablespoons daily, and it does not have to be taken straight, but can mixed with water and other ingredients. Depending on the ailment one seeks to treat, however, other dosages may be more suitable. Because apple cider vinegar is high in acidity, caution should be taken to protect tooth enamel. This may mean diluting the dose, rinsing with coconut oil after consumption, or even consulting a dentist in severe cases.

Medicinal Mushrooms: The Ultimate User’s Guide

medicinal mushrooms

Medicinal mushrooms have been around for thousands of years yet very few people know just how powerful they can be for boosting the human immune system and fighting diseases from cancer to the common cold. In this comprehensive guide, we will discuss the top 7 most popular and effective medicinal mushrooms including their benefits, scientific studies, and suggested usage.

Reishi Mushroom

Over 4000 years ago, rulers of Asia would send out servants to find the Reishi mushroom, which would often grow from the trunks of old plum trees. Servants were often unsuccessful, as the mushroom was said to have occurred once among about 3000 trees. Because of its rarity, its benefits were reserved for emperors and rulers, and commoners could be put to death if they were found with the mushroom and consumed it themselves. In order to avoid this, commoners were encouraged to give their findings to the emperor.

The Reishi mushroom gained much respect across the globe for thousands of years, with Romans calling it “the food of the gods,” Koreans “the mushroom of immortality,” and the Japanese “the 10,000 year mushroom.” The Chinese called them the “elixir of life,” while Egyptians believed them to be gifts directly from the god Osiris.

Written documents from the Han Dynasty Era reveal that the Reishi mushroom was associated with immortality. The founding father of Chinese Medicine who lived through this time documented 365 plant species, placing this one at the top.

Though it was known to promote happiness and longevity, it was also thought to help one live among the immortals. Because the mushroom was so difficult to find, however, it remained largely out of the medical spotlight until the 1970s, when controlled studies could be done with commercial cultivation.

Even though there is an abundance of evidence for the existence of the Reishi mushroom 4000 years ago, archeologists actually believe it dates back even further, to about 7000 years ago. Today, as the Reishi mushroom has become more common, it is worn as a good luck charm in some cultures. The mushroom is native to Europe, Asia and the Americas, and though it is still somewhat rare in the wild, they may be found on oak trees, plum trees or even maple trees growing in moist, forest like areas.

Though one may find it difficult to spot one in the wild, it is a sure cause of delight if one is found. Look for a shiny, reddish-brown cap that can be up to 8 inches in diameter. The Reishi mushroom is kidney shaped, but if found, should not be consumed without the consultation of a professional who can insure its identity.

What Reishi Does

Some studies in mice have shown an increase in life equivalent to that of almost 15 years in humans, and it is unclear if prolonged life results from actual longevity promoted by the Reishi mushroom, or if it is related to its ability to assist with such a long list of ailments. Among the most hopeful claims is that Reishi can stimulate the neurons in the brain, and seek out cancer cells to destroy. These claims provide promise for those with Alzheimers or Parkinsons, who have seen positive effects in smaller studies.

It has also shown to be promising against fighting autoimmune diseases as well as allergies, signifying it has a positive effect on the body’s immune response. It has also been successful at treating asthma, neurodegenerative diseases, diabetes and liver disease. For centuries, they have been thought to reduce the risk of cancers and heart disease.

Most researchers agree that the Reishi mushroom is able to fight so many ailments because of the hundreds of biologically active molecules. Put simply, the mushroom does not simply contain one molecule that addresses multiple ailments, but rather, it attacks ailments with a multifaceted approach. Some of these molecules protect DNA in many different ways, essentially slowing down the aging process itself. While this alone may explain the extended lives of mice studied with Reishi, it is important to note that specific molecules also protect particular areas, such as specifically protecting the kidneys from failure. This combined approach makes the mushroom quite effective, and it is no wonder that long before it was understood, it was considered a route to immortality.

Scientific Studies

The University of Michigan Health System cites several studies recently performed regarding effectiveness of Reishi mushrooms for a range of ailments. One double blind trial found the extract to improve urinary symptoms among benign prostatic hyperplasia. For altitude sickness, the university rated its effectiveness 1 of 3 stars, stating that although positive results have been reported, further research is needed among the human population.

It gave the same rating for the herbs effectiveness against HIV and AIDS related symptoms, as well as infections in general. Citing research with similar herbs, the university speculates that the mushroom would benefit immune system function and enhance the effectiveness of some anti-HIV drugs. Much like for altitude sickness, however, they concluded that further research was needed among humans consuming Reishi mushrooms.

Although the university states that more research is also needed to test the efficacy of the mushroom on hepatitis, preliminary results were stated as looking promising among humans. A study cited for hypertension also concludes that reishi lowers blood pressure, although results remain unclear about the amount of time needed to allow for results. For diabetes, the University of Michigan rates the efficacy of Reishi mushrooms to be one out of three stars, citing animal studies for type 1 and type 2 diabetes that show benefits.

Suggested Usage

Reishi mushrooms no longer have to be directly consumed for their benefits, and they are no longer considered as rare. Today, powders, tablets and drops are available so that one can take advantage of Reishi without the inconveniences of ancient times. It is recommended to follow the manufacturer’s directions for dosage advice, as the concentration of active ingredients can vary among product choices. Regardless of how it is consumed, however, there are a few tips you can keep in mind when adding this supplement to your routine.

First, it is essential to understand the hallmarks of a high quality Reishi product. The ratio of extract should be clearly listed for consumers, and the country of origin should be clear as well. For those who would like to supplement with Reishi most closely resembling that of ancient Chinese medicine, it is worth noting that products from Japan typically cultivate the mushroom on wooden logs. This method has shown scientific evidence of growing more potent mushrooms with higher antioxidant levels, among other benefits.

It is also important to understand that Reishi works best when consumed on an empty stomach and when taken with vitamin C. Vitamin C actually helps break down the active ingredients for better intake and tolerance. In addition, drinking a healthy abundance of water will help the effects of Reishi, as it will help flush out toxins. It is also important to remember hydration with any supplement, particularly those known for detoxifying or providing energy boosts.

Chaga Mushroom

Thousands of years ago, when much of the world relied on concepts from Traditional Chinese Medicine, Chaga mushrooms were discovered as a way to end many ailments. In mountainous Siberia, the Khanty people would drink tea made from this mushroom, called “The Mushroom of immortality,” every day. The tea was thought to improve digestion and to detoxify the body. They also inhaled it and smoked it to support lung health, and they made topical forms of it for the skin, using Chaga soap to cleanse wounds. Its name originates from the Russian word mushroom, czaga, but as its popularly spread throughout the world, its name began to reflect the thoughts of those who used it.

For example, in Norway, Chaga is called kreftkjuke, which means “cancer polypore.” This name reflects its alleged abilities to treat cancer similarly to chemotherapy. For thousands of years, the mushroom’s benefits spread from Russia to Korea, Europe, the United States and even Canada. Because it thrives in cold climates, it is often found in mountainous regions with mature birch trees. It was often called “The Gift of God,” because of its helpful effects on many detrimental illnesses.

In its early days, the mushroom was known as the king of medicinal mushrooms, used to support life-energy balance, increase longevity and support the immune system. Hunters and gatherers used it to regulate their hunger and improve concentration and stamina. Even in its ancient beginnings, it was known to support immunity. Because we have evidence of its widespread use across the globe, it is difficult to pinpoint just exactly where the Chaga mushroom originated.

The oldest “in tact” human, Otzi the Iceman, is thought to have carried Chaga mushrooms in his leather pouch, although this has yet to be confirmed. Because Otzi is 5300 years old, it is highly probable that he used this mushroom for ailments. Documents from 100 B.C. seem to indicate the mushroom was not a new discovery during their time. Much later in history, in the 12th century, manuscripts suggest that the Russian ruler, Tsar Vladimir Monamah, used this for an ailment now thought to be cancer.

What Chaga Does

Chaga mushrooms can slow the effects of aging, and many claims state that the mushroom can protect DNA from damage. It is widely believed that Chaga mushrooms have anticancerous effects and can kill off tumors or slow their growth.

This mushroom is also known to give people a better sense of wellbeing and increase longevity. Of course, much like it was used in ancient times, it is still a great remedy for topical application on wounds or rashes, and tea is still promoted as a way to boost the immune system. Some even still smoke Chaga mushrooms for these effects. It is still used to treat digestive distress and ulcers, and recent claims state that it could be effective for treating tuberculosis.

Chaga mushrooms can also boost metabolism, assist with diabetes control and treat kidney stones. It is also commonly used to fight inflammation in those who have injuries, or illnesses such as arthritis. As an added bonus, the mushroom is a good source of Vitamin D, which has also been shown to help with fatigue, inflammation and poor immunity.

Scientific Studies

The effectiveness of Chaga mushrooms is known largely through observing the general population’s use, as no clinical scientific studies have been able to prove whether or not the mushroom can prevent illness and disease. Traditional legends, as well as personal testimonies, insist that the Chaga mushroom can prevent the onset of contracted illnesses, assist with healing cancer patients and even prevent cancer in those prone to the disease.

The Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York claimed as recently as 2011 that the mushroom demonstrated anti-cancer properties when administered to mice, although they still cautioned against human consumption due to lack of scientific evidence for safety.

A more daring stance was taken by author Alexander Solzhenitsyn, author of “The Cancer Ward.” After the book’s release, some in the medical profession began to further investigate Chaga mushrooms and their effect on cancer. One such observation found that peasants in Russia who brewed the Chaga mushrooms, in place of more expensive coffee, seem to have much lower occurrences of cancer than their wealthier neighbors who brewed coffee instead.

At disabled-world.com, further medical research is discussed about a medical research team that found the birch tree forests in Siberia contain less pathogens than an operating room in modern day medicine. This is said to be blamed on the anti-microbial substances found in the bark of the trees hosting Chaga mushrooms. Perhaps most fascinating is the betulinic acid that have been shown to kill cancer cells without adverse side effects. These findings, however, have yet to be clinically verified.

Suggested Usage

Because Chaga is available in many forms, it is still advised that you consider the manufacturers’ recommendations for dosage based on the product. It is important, however, not to overindulge in this very potent supplement. With this in mind, dosages should vary based on weight. For example, when taking an extract, those weighing 150 pounds should consider a dosage of 45 drops normal, while those under 150 pounds should calculate their dosage based on their weight. For example, if someone weighed 100 pounds, they would need to only consume two thirds of the dosage, meaning the normal dose should be around 30 drops.

If nausea, headaches or other unusual symptoms present themselves, it is recommended to lower the dosage. Because the extracts are water soluble, one has very little reason to worry with overdose, as excess will simply be expelled from the body as waste.

Extracts can be placed in water, but warm water could neutralize some of the benefits, so it is best to use cold water. It is recommended to swish in the mouth for up to 60 seconds before swallowing. To prevent possible insomnia, try not to consume Chaga after 4 p.m., or when you would normally cut off caffeine for the day.

Teas, powders and capsules should all be consumed with manufacturers’ recommendation and the weight rule in mind, especially if you are trying the supplement for the first time. It is better to start with a smaller dose and increase to a comfortable dose than to experience unpleasant side effects from its potency.

Cordyceps

Another ancient Chinese remedy, cordyceps are thought to originate in the Himalayan Mountains of Tibet. Over 2000 years ago, herdsmen stumbled upon this strange looking mushroom with no cap. In traditional Chinese Medicine, the mushroom quickly became a cure all, being used to treat ailments of the kidneys, heart, lungs and liver. It was also used for fatigue, fertility and sexual issues, pain relief, and of course, to promote longevity. The imperial Quing dynasty used it for virtually all of these remedies, and also to promote physical and sexual energy.

It is only in the last few decades that cultivation has allowed science to study this once rare mushroom, and it is now known to have up to 600 species. Written records of its effects on ailments exist from over one thousand years ago, first appearing in the year 1082. At one point, it was considered so rare and collection was so difficult due to its preference for growing at high altitudes, that it was the most expensive raw herbal material on the globe. In fact, it wasn’t even introduced to Europe until 1726, when it was introduced for purely scientific purposes in Paris. Its natural environment was so harsh, that collection was daunting. Growing at altitudes of over 13000 feet above sea level, temperatures were below freezing, with snow over 70% of the year.

It wasn’t until 1972 that the conditions for growing cordyceps could be reliably replicated. Also, it was not until we began to research DNA that we found these mushrooms to be significantly different from those grown in the wild, tossing in another research roadblock. Today, some manufacturers and growers boast cordyceps that are almost identical to their rare and wild ancestors, and research has begun to reflect this.

What Cordyceps Does

While many claim that cordyceps are helpful in increasing athletic endurance, there is not sufficient evidence to substantiate this claim. It is encouraged that for this particular purpose, one should consult a physician or gradually increase supplement intake to see the personal effects.

Other ailments that have been shown to respond to cordyceps are asthma, kindey malfunction, intolerance to chemotherapy, decreased libido, hepatitis B, cough, bronchitis, ringing in the ears, decreasing fatigue, anemia, heart arrhythmias, high cholesterol and weakness. It has also been said to increase longevity, and many take it specifically for that purpose.

Scientific Studies

Ashok Kumar Panda and Kailash Chandra Swain wrote a study in 2011, published in the Journal of Ayurveda Integrative Medicine, noting that effects were initially noted by herders when their herds of goats, sheep and other animals consumed cordyceps while grazing and became much stronger and larger. Soon, locals were using it to increase milk production in cattle, as well as the cattle’s quality of life. These observations led to many practitioners to use cordyceps for a number of diseases that lead to wasting of muscle. The study found that local folk healers used the treatment for a total of 21 ailments, including bronchial asthma, bronchitis, tuberculosis, diabetes, common cold, cancer, erectile dysfunction and hepatitis, among others. The authors found a number of studies to support the positive reported effects. A lack of human study in clinically controlled environments was noted as a study limitation. 

In 1999, the Annual Meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine in Seattle released findings of a double-blind placebo controlled study. Among 30 elderly volunteers, cordyceps improved the amount of oxygen the participants were able to assimilate, by a significant amount. This may explain, in part, why much success has been reported among respiratory ailments.

In addition, as early as 1995, the Journal of Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine found improvement among pulmonary ailments. Chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases improved 40% after administration of cordyceps.

In pneumonia, effects were more pronounced and significant based on a study done in Beijing in 1985. In the Collection on the Basic Medicinal and Clinical Studies of Submerged Culture, researchers noted a 400% improvement in mortality rates among patients with pneumonia who were administered cordyceps.

Suggested Usage

As with most supplements, it is best to begin by consulting the manufacturers’ recommended dosage, as levels can vary among brands. It is recommended however, for cordyceps to be taken at a recommended dosage as high as 3 to 6 grams a day, as this dose has been used in patients with renal failure for long periods of time including several years. It is worth noting that most clinical trials using dosage of less than 4 grams did not appear to be as promising as those of higher dosages.

For those undergoing chemotherapy, the recommended dosage is 6 grams daily for approximately two months.

Should dry mouth, gastrointestinal discomfort or nausea occur, one should decrease the dosage or consult a naturopath. A lethal dose has not yet been established, and doses as high as 80 grams in mice did not cause death.

Turkey Tail Mushroom

This mushroom gets its name from its appearance, which resembles the colorful tail of a turkey. Often found colonizing along decomposing wood or tree stumps in moist weather, this mushroom is not as rare as many of the others used in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Records of the mushroom in teas date back to the 1400s in China, under the Ming dynasty. Traditionally, the mushrooms would be boiled in the water to make a tea, quite unlike steeping done today. Boiling them, however, not only killed contaminants, but it also brought out qualities in the mushroom that treated many ailments by extracting the soluble polysaccharides.

Turkey Tail is one of the most researched medicinal mushrooms in the world, partially due to its easy accessibility. There are no mountains to climb or forests to search in order to find its natural habitat, and it can grow in both warm and cool climates, sometimes even in water. Its main purpose seemingly is to return nutrients to the soil when wood begins to rot, so it is easy to find in almost any area that isn’t overly dry. Simply because it is easy to find, however, doesn’t mean its effects should be disregarded.

In ancient times, it was used to boost the immune system, and as recent studies show, science has proven what the Chinese already knew. Today, it is considered a major cancer therapy in Asia, particularly in Japan.

Turkey tail is often seen growing among many microorganisms. Beetles, flies and even algae are attracted to this helpful organism, so the practice of boiling them remains a necessity unless grown under very controlled conditions.

What Turkey Tail Does

We know from scientific studies that Turkey Tail shows promising results for cancer patients, those with compromised immunity, high pain levels, and even decrease muscle wasting. There are an abundance of benefits, however, that are still being researched.

Smaller, independent studies have shown Turkey Tail to regenerate bone marrow that has been damaged, and many veterinarians use it in cases of cancer for pets, since chemotherapy is often not preferred. It is known as a strong antioxidant, preventing illnesses such as cancer. It has been shown to strengthen the immune system, increase energy, aid digestion, assist healing from liver ailments and hepatitis B. It is also used to treat urinary tract infections and respiratory issues, even reducing phlegm production in those with colds.

Scientific Studies

In 2012, something quite unexpected happened when the FDA approved a trial for Turkey Tail mushrooms in cancer patients. Thanks to this approval, Bastyr University are now better at understanding how the mushroom, often brewed in a tea, can boost the immune systems of chemotherapy patients. Research by the University found that the supplement can strengthen a patient’s immune system and thereby support existing treatments for breast cancer.

Dr. Cynthia Wenner investigated more of the effects of this supplement for the National Institute of Health. Findings confirmed that the mushrooms stimulate the immune system, even correcting deficits in patient’s immune systems without patients undergoing traditional treatments.

In 2014, the Journal of Thermal Biology concluded that not only did Turkey Tail improve the effectiveness of chemotherapy and radiation, but it also improved quality of life among patients in a variety of ways. Firstly, it reduced pain levels, decreased muscle wasting, and decreased treatment side effects, such as nausea and vomiting.

Suggested Usage

Some products released from China and surrounding areas have tested with abnormally high levels of immune-compromising metals. To avoid purchasing products like this with potential adverse effects, particularly among those with immune system issues, it is important to find a certified organic mushroom product. This will help ensure that the product purchased has not accumulated heavy metals from air or soil pollution. Because the mushroom can rapidly accumulate metals, care should be taken in this area. Keep in mind that in the United States, a product that is actually organic will have a stamp with an agency, such as “USDA organic.” Faulty marketing, particularly outside of the country, can deceptively describe a product as organic that is not truly so. The only way to avoid this is to look for an agency stamp.

If making your own tea or simply consuming the mushroom, be sure to boil Turkey Tail mushrooms, as they often grow among an abundance of microorganisms, and even attract them after the mushroom dies.

Today, one can purchase supplements in the form of teas and extracts, and one can also find Turkey Tail quite easily in health food stores. For supplements, refer to the manufacturers’ direction, as concentration may vary from one company to another. When purchasing at markets, be sure to know the country of origin and the information discussed above. The mushrooms may be boiled and chewed as a gum, or made into a tea. They also may be boiled and added to other meals, particularly sushi and fish, which may have metal content. The mushroom is beneficial with these meals because of its ability to absorb metals, and can help reduce potentially harmful effects from fish who have been exposed to metals in their environment.

Shiitake Mushroom

Shiitake mushrooms were used medicinally in China over 6000 years ago. According to legend, around 200 A.D., the emperor of Japan, Emperor Chuai, received Shiitake mushrooms from the indigenous people of Japan. It is widely thought that these mushrooms have been growing wildly since prehistoric times, although cultivation is estimated to have begun around 1100 A.D. during the Song Dynasty.

Once a symbol of longevity in Asia, it has always been promoted for its health redeeming qualities. The colors range from amber to brown, and their telling characteristic is their curled, umbrella-like rim. There are two types of this mushroom, however, and they are not quite created equally.

The donko Shiitake mushroom is more round with a thick flesh, while the koshin has an open cap and a thinner skin.  Because the cap is not fully open and more of the spores are retained, the donko Shiitake mushroom is considered to have higher medicinal value. Second only to the button mushroom, Shiitake mushrooms are one of the most consumed mushrooms in the entire world.

While they have been cooked in meals for centuries, they have been used medicinally in both raw and dried forms. Their high levels of B vitamins and Vitamin D make it an ideal choice for the immune system, as well as for inflammation and stress. Donko Shiitake mushrooms in particular have high concentrations of the Lentinan compound, which is actually considered an anti-cancer drug.

Because its flavor is both earthy and pleasant to most, they can be boiled, grilled, skewered, sautéed or even roasted and enjoyed with a meal, often eliminating the need to purchase separate supplements. Because they are also very common in supermarkets, it is an easy supplemental choice to add to almost any diet.

It is interesting to note that to the United States, the Shiitake mushrooms are fairly new, as the result of a ban that was placed on importing live Shiitake cultures until 1972. Because they were not native to the United States, they were not grown in the area until this time.

What Shiitake Does

Shiitake mushrooms are known for their antiviral properties and their ability to boost the immune system. They can also be used to lower cholesterol, prevent thrombosis, treat and prevent genital warts, regulate blood pressure, treat AIDS, control diabetes, help heal fibrocystic breast disease, fight chronic fatigue and also cancer. They provide an excellent source of potassium, niacin, calcium, B vitamins, phosphorus, protein and magnesium.

As mentioned previously, the donko Shiitake mushroom provide the most medicinal effects, and raw mushrooms also are more effective than those that are cooked. Care should be taken with raw mushrooms, however, as contaminants may be present in the wild that need to be removed, sometimes by boiling. In addition, the method of growth has been scientifically shown to impact the performance of the mushroom. Log grown mushrooms are much harder to find and are often more expensive, but those grown in sawdust are dramatically cheaper with very comparable benefits. In the supermarket, one is likely to find sawdust grown Shiitake mushrooms, which often sell for more than $40 less per pound than those grown on logs. To test, those grown on logs will vibrate when shaken. If a mushroom does not vibrate and has a less meaty texture, it is likely sawdust grown.

Regardless of where they are grown, a hallmark to an excellent mushroom is having a gill that is not broken, and is pure white. One should stay away from any that appear yellow or have an ammonia like odor.

Scientific Studies

In 2011, the UF Food Science and Human Nutrition Professor, Sue Percival, studied a group of 52 adults with good health, between the ages of 21 and 41. Findings were published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition in 2011. Participants cleaned and cooked Shiitake mushrooms after undergoing a blood test. After consumption, the new blood tests revealed reductions in inflammatory proteins as well as healthier functioning gamma delta T-cells. This means not only was inflammation reduced, but the immune system was boosted as well.

Several years prior to these findings, David Brauer, an Agriculture Research Service agronomist, studied the mushroom’s production at Dale Bumpers Small Farm Research Center in Booneville, Arkansas, working with nearby mushroom producers in Shirley as well. This was in an effort to determine whether shiitake mushrooms grown on logs had higher levels of HMWP (higher molecular-weight polysaccharides) than those grown in commercial environments. HMWP has been shown to improve the immune system, so higher levels of this would indicate more potential for benefit. Brauer concluded that the shiitake mushrooms grown on logs showed up to 70% of HMWP than those commercially grown, reaffirming that not only did the mushroom improve immunity, but at different levels based on its growth environment. These findings were published with the help of the USDA/Agricultural Research Service on Science Daily’s website, in 2008.

Penn State researchers found even more fascinating results concerning mushrooms in general, back in 2005. Another antioxidant, ergothioneine, was found to be heavily concentrated in mushrooms, up to 12 times that found in wheat germ. Shiitake, however, was found to have some of the heaviest concentrations among mushrooms, with about 40 times the amount of ergothioneine found in wheat germ. Furthermore, the amounts did not decrease after cooking, meaning consumption of shiitake mushrooms in almost any fashion is a giant boost to the immune system.

Suggested Usage

If fighting serious ailments: If using a whole dried Shiitake mushroom, the recommended daily dose is 6-26 grams. If the mushroom is not dried, the recommendation is 90 grams. It is recommended that these suggestions be divided into two or three doses daily. These doses may be used in teas, meals or simply consumed.

For those looking for a maintenance regimen, a half or one gram a day is likely sufficient. If digestive upset occurs, lower the recommended dosage until side effects subside, or consult a physician or naturopath.

Shiitake mushroom is also found as an ingredient in many supplements, and the manufacturer’s directions should be followed in these cases.

Maitake Mushroom

The maitake mushroom grows in clusters, most often at the base of oak trees, commonly found in North America. Its name, maitake, means dancing mushroom. It is native to Japan and North America, and is said to help assist with altered body systems, helping the body achieve and maintain homeostasis.

The mushroom was traditionally used in both Chinese and Japanese medicine. Mainly used to boost the immune system, it boasts similar qualities to many other mushrooms in Traditional Chinese Medicine, though perhaps more easily obtained. It is actually a source of amino acids, potassium, magnesium, calcium, fiber, vitamins B2 and D2 and niacin.

The maitake mushroom is one of the most commonly used mushrooms in the culinary realm, often as a major ingredient in Japanese nabemono. It is also commonly cooked simply with only butter, so it is an easy addition to almost any diet.

In Japan, this “King of Mushrooms,” can grow up to 100 pounds, and is sometimes even consumed raw.

What Maitake Does

The maitake mushroom has been shown to induce ovulation when the body does not naturally cause it to occur. It has been shown in studies to help manage diabetes, and can even interact with some medication due to its effectiveness. In addition, it has been shown to boost the immune system, and help fight and prevent cancers. It also contains antioxidants, which provide an endless number of benefits such as increase immunity, although studies are not agreeable concerning this claim. The mushroom has also been shown to help treat polycystic ovarian syndrome, particularly when there are issues with ovulation.

Scientific Studies

In 2010, The Journal of Alternative Complementary Medicine published a study on Maitake mushrooms. The study followed progress within a group of women who had polycystic ovarian syndrome. During the study, they found that patients who ingested Maitake mushroom extract ovulated in a more regular fashion, suggesting that the mushroom could induce ovulation when the body prevents it.

As early as 2001, however, the Diabetes Medicine journal published findings that suggested Maitake mushrooms had hypoglycemic effects, meaning it lowered the blood sugar of diabetic patients. The Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology followed up with similar findings in 2007, when they found that the fruit body of the mushroom to have antidiabetic properties as well.

In 2009, its anti-cancerous effects were published in Oncology Reports, a peer reviewed medical journal, when findings suggested that a water soluble extract had a positive effect on human gastric cancer cells. This led researchers to conclude that the Maitake mushroom had properties that could inhibit the growth of tumors.

Suggested Usage

Maitake mushroom can be added to one’s regimen in a number of ways. Extract is commonly sold in liquid form, as well as capsules. For best results, consult the manufacturer’s directions based on the concentration produced. Those wilth ailments will likely take a larger dose, although it is recommended to graduate up in order to improve tolerance and decrease the likelihood of any side effects. For those with ailments, it is recommended to begin with 35 to 75 milligrams, although this could vary greatly among suppliers. For maintaining health, a low dose of only about 15 milligrams is suggested.

For best results, consume on an empty stomach, or at least half an hour prior to a meal. As a precaution, one should consult a doctor before beginning this regimen while taking medication for diabetes, as some reactions may occur.

In addition to supplements that are available, maitake mushrooms are actually quite easy to find due to their popularity in cooking. Great with stir fries, rice, and even served plain with butter, these mushrooms are an easy way to add a healthy supplement to your regimen by just adding an extra ingredient while cooking. It can also be boiled to make a tea, or dried. Because they can often be large in size, people often freeze them, breaking off portions each time they cook a dish to which they wish to add maitake mushrooms. Though studies do not show whether this decreases the medicinal effects of the mushroom, there is so far no indication that this method would be any less helpful than taking supplements that have likely been processed and frozen at some point during the process.

Agarikon Mushroom

In the year 65 A.D., Dioscorides, a Greek physician, first described Agarikon in the Materia Medica, the first known medical book with disease remedies. Dioscorides recorded the effectiveness of this mushroom on what we call tuberculosis today. Ancient Greeks used this to treat respiratory illnesses, what we now know as tuberculosis, and even night sweats.

Pliny the Elder, an ancient Roman philosopher, wrote about it as well. Like many mushrooms in ancient times, it was considered an “elixir of life” or an “elixir of long life.” It was thought to prolong one’s life, and its most famous “success story” is one about warding off poisons.

Mithridates, according to legend, consumed Agarikon regularly in case he were to be poisoned by an enemy. Later in life, he became so depressed that he attempted suicide by poison. According to legend, he was unable to do so because the Agarikon he had consumed for so long was still protecting him.

The indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest were also known to use this mushroom for spiritual purposes. Agarikon was used by local healers and spiritual leaders. The mushroom was often used for spiritual purposes after the death of a Shaman, or religious leader, and placed at the head of his grave. It is said to have protected the leader during his “long sleep of death.” It was also carved and hung from the ceilings of houses during spiritual dance ceremonies as well. They were believed to serve as “spirit catchers” protecting those around them from evils. In addition to serving spiritual purposes, it was also boiled into a tea the indigenous people called “ghost bread,” that helped with breathing ailments. Sadly, when the British brought smallpox to the region in the 1700s, locals were unaware that this mushroom had the ability to protect them against smallpox, and the population greatly suffered as a result.

It was noted early on to have properties of an antimicrobial, and modern research confirms this was indeed the case. Modern evidence also suggests that Agarikon played a role in the survival of our species, as it likely protected them from infectious diseases long before antibiotics were a thought. Throughout the ages, it was used for illnesses with cough, infected wounds and even bleeding.

Sadly, however, this once revered mushroom is almost extinct in some areas of the world, such as Europe and Asia. It can still be found in the Pacific Northwest, and if one is lucky enough to stumble upon one, he can identify it by its beehive like shape, and can tell its age by counting the layers, similar to the way one counts the rings on a tree trunk. It is the longest living mushroom in the world, so the science community has great hopes of maintaining it outside of extinction. Pharmaceutical companies, however, can now produce synthetic Agarikon.

What Agarikon Does

Some studies, though not scientifically verified, have provided promising results for preventing tumor growth. It is also an anti-inflammatory and an antibacterial. Smaller studies have also shown an ability to fight cowpox, swine and bird flus, as well as herpes viruses.

Its extracts have also been shown to have antiviral properties, which may help explain why it is often beneficial for flus and herpes viruses. It is still accepted as an alternative treatment to tuberculosis, and is still thought to boost the immune system.

Scientific Studies

Most health professionals state that little clinical evidence has been produced to substantiate the claims made by many about the cancer fighting properties of Agarikon. In other areas across the globe, however, personal testimonies and small studies are enough to convince some patients. For example, the International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms reported in 2011 that in Croatia, the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare registered tablet preparations for Agarikon. Marketed as immunity strengthening, the tablet is modeled after a formulation that achieved above 90% growth inhibition rates in mice.

Small studies and personal testimonies reflect that patients with breast, lung and colorectal cancers had increased survival rates, improved quality of life and less side effects from modern treatments. Paul Stamets, an advisor for the Program of Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona Medical School, studied Agarikon for many years and released his findings to the Huffington Post. Working with the University of Illinois for the Institute for Tuberculosis Research, Stamets submitted specimens of the mushroom for “testing against tuberculosis bacteria.” The result was that not only did the mushrooms exhibit antitubercular activity, but they were only about one magnitude away from being potent enough to be considered a drug.

He had previously studied Agarikon, however, and found its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties to be almost ground breaking. After testing 11 North American strains, some samples were concluded to have properties that fight cowpox, swine and bird flus, as well as herpes viruses. Since this time, Russia researchers have further studied Agarikon’s effect on the flu, with positive results which are non-toxic to human cells. Hopefully, future clinical trials across the globe will mimic these findings.

Suggested Usage

Research so far has shown very little to no indication of toxicity, although it is always important to follow guidelines when adding a supplement to your routine. Because Agarikon is extinct in some areas, one should take care when selecting a supplement. First, ensure that the company is reputable and that you can trust their statements about origin. Second, because supplements are often a combination of mushroom extracts, dosages may differ from one supplement to another. Care should be taken to ensure that all ingredients listed are compatible with current ailments, lifestyle and medications. If in doubt, consult a naturopath or a physician.

The Perfect Roman Chair Workout

roman chair

The roman chair (as exotic as it sounds) is also known as a hyperextension bench, among many other names. It is one of the most sought after home equipment exercise machines that offers the convenience and comfort to effectively exercise almost every part of your body, straight from your home. The roman chair can also be found in any gym or health club, and with the help of a personal trainer, you can further boost your use and amp up your routine for optimum results when it comes to strengthening your core. Believe it or not, you can even find this fine piece of equipment in most physical therapist offices as an accepted method of treatment to rid clients of back pain, and it even promises to improve posture. If used properly for fitness goals, the roman chair (also adjustable to meet your fitness needs) can give you the body you’ve always wanted. The proper use of a roman chair can easily tighten your stomach for rock hard, sexy abs and tone your glutes.

The roman chair boasts two comfortable and convenient pads that further support the hips and back and allows the legs to comfortably hook onto the chair for different variations of exercises and crunches. The use of the roman chair can effectively target abdominal muscles, glutes and hamstrings, and your back area. Today’s gym goer is most focused on finding routines and equipment that can target larger, and multiple areas at one time, rather than work one part of the body at one time. The roman chair allows for this type of flexibility in your routine. Since it was first invented, there have been several upgrades and models over the years that you can choose from based off of your personal preference and goals, leaving endless options for the ultimate workout.

Roman chair trunk extensions are a great way to really work your glutes in isolation. Think of the “trunk extensions,” as being a crunch but for your buttocks. As you lock your legs, pushing against ankle pads, you extend yourself over the bench in a downward motion, and as you bring yourself back up, you squeeze your glutes to assist in bringing your body back to an upright position, for the ultimate glute workout. Lastly, the glute/ham developer is very similar to the trunk extension exercise, rather than go all the way down, you slightly flex and crunch your glutes, further working your lower body including your back, and especially those glutes and hamstrings. Furthermore, you may be wondering why this exercise is done through the use of the roman chair would be better than the GHD machine (Glute Ham Developer machine). You should know that as mentioned before when the roman chair first released, it was so wildly popular that many different models and variations came out, the GHD machine being one of them. This machine is essentially the same thing as a roman chair, however, it does not offer the capabilities that a roman chair does. The original roman chair can be adjusted to look like an entirely different machine that can perform different functions, as opposed to the GHD machine that can only modify slightly to refine precision in your performance when it comes to exclusively glute and hamstring exercise performance.    

As you probably already know by now, strengthening your core is a sure fire way to improve not only your posture and quality of life, but it can certainly benefit your regular workout routines by enhancing your ability to perform. This workout routine includes the “roman chair crunches, roman chair twists and the roman chair hanging leg raises.” By adjusting the roman chair, you can simply hook your legs and position your body into the ultimate crunch position for an intense ab workout. Secondly, you can adjust the chair again, to rest your hips on the larger pad, further hooking your legs in the same position, but more upright where you are facing the ceiling to perform a crunch that ends in a twist to really target your abs and core muscles. Lastly, if you add a hanging bar to your routine, although not a part of the roman chair, a hanging leg raise can top off your “killer ab workout” for the ultimate ab and core strength routine.

Lastly, the roman chair can also allow you to really focus on your lower back, further according to the site. They have designed a third workout routine for the lower back using the roman chair. This workout routine includes the following exercises: “hyperextensions, twisting roman chair hyperextensions, and the kettlebell lift.” Roman chair hyperextensions allow you to lie on the chair in a face downward position, with your legs fully extended, and hips resting on the pad. The idea is to simply perform a “plank” by making sure that you extend your body so that your torso is in line with your legs. You then cross your arms across your chest, lower your upper body and further focus on using your lower back to bring your body back up and in line with your legs. The roman chair twist hyperextension exercise calls for the same position and movement, the only difference is, instead of crossing your arm, you place your hands behind your ears, and as you rise, you twist to one side, repeat, rise and twist to the other side, while again, focusing on your lower back muscles to do the movements. With the roman chair kettlebell lift, you must readjust your chair so that you are in more of a slanted upright position, lock your legs in place, cross your arms again, across your chest, bend over, grab on to the kettlebell, using your lower back to direct your movements, the site further instructs that you move the kettlebell up and down and together, the roman chair has given you a fabulous lower back workout.

With these workouts and different variations, it is easy to see how the roman chair can give you a complete workout. Whether you are targeting your back, glutes and hamstrings or your abs and core, you absolutely cannot go wrong with the roman chair. Also, the padding and functions that the roman chair offers further reduces injuries, making an ideal fit for those who take extra precautions as well.