Saturday, October 17, 2009

Autumn Warmth

Published on my aromtherapy blog Nov. 2006

Autumn is one of my favorite times of year. Autumn in Georgia has turned out to be fairly short this year. It is usually well into November before it gets really cold here. The overnight forecasts for this week calls for temperatures in the 30's and there has already been snow in some parts of the country.If it is so cold and snowy now, what does the rest of the fall/winter season have in store for us? To help counteract the chill and dampness of this season increasing your intake of certain spices during the winter months may help keep you warm from the inside out.

Chinese medicine, Ayurveda, and Western nutrition all include ginger at the top of their list of warming winter spices. Ginger also calms an upset stomach, aids digestion, and serves as an anti-inflammatory. Ginger can be simmered as a tea, added to soups, stir fries, and meat or chicken dishes, or, for the more gutsy types, eaten raw.

Cinnamon helps soothe mild gastrointestinal conditions such as bloating and preliminary government research indicates that a teaspoon of cinnamon daily may lower high blood sugar. Cinnamon is one of the easier spices to fit into your diet. Simply sprinkle it on oatmeal, fruit, yogurt, ice cream, etc... You can also make a spicy rub to use on seafood or poultry by mixing 2 parts cinnamon, 2 parts cayenne pepper, 2 parts salt and 1 part sugar.

Turmeric is an important health-promoting winter spice. Curcumin, a component of turmeric is being researched for its anticancer properties. A member of the ginger family, turmeric has active ingredients (curcuminoids) and beneficial essential oils that are optimally digested after undergoing cooking. Add 1/2 teaspoon turmeric to pots of homemade soup, especially bean soups, rice dishes, and curries; it goes well with spices like chili powder, cumin, bay leaf, parsley, and oregano. Don't use too much as it can taste bitter.

Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne Pepper is a member of the chili pepper family. It contains capsaicin and warms the body by helping increase circulation. Cayenne pepper should be used in moderation. A pinch of cayenne livens up chili, spaghetti sauce and vinaigrettes.Warming spices are not just good for their flavors—they warm us up from the inside out and are good, healthy ingredients to use even when it's not cold outside.

Recipe: Spiced Chai Latte

's been a brrrr kind of week here in Georgia so far. Most of us will be lighting our fireplaces in no time to beat the chill. This homemade chai tea is filled with herbs that warm you from the inside out. You can experiment with any combination of the spices below and the following: licorice root, fennel seed, allspice berries, bay leaves, nutmeg, orange peel, coriander seed, mint leaves, vanilla bean, and lemon. Once you find a combination you like. Mix it up in bulk and store in a closed jar so it's ready when you are in the mood to whip some up or to give as gifts. You can also coarsely grind the spices up in a coffee grind instead of crushing with a knife. If you will be storing the spice blends, omit the fresh herbs, like ginger, and add them when you are ready to make the tea.

2 cups water or milk
10 to 20 cardamom pods, crushed in a mortar or with a knife handle
3 whole cloves
1/4 tsp. black peppercorns, slightly crushed
1 3-inch cinnamon stick
1 1/2-inch piece of ginger, sliced and crushed with the handle of a knife
4 tsp. loose black tea, such as English Breakfast tea or Darjeeling
honey to taste

Put the milk or water in a 2-quart saucepan and add the spices and ginger. Bring to a boil being careful not to let it boil over. Then lower the heat and simmer for 3 minutes. Add the tea leaves and simmer 3 more minutes. Turn off the heat, cover the pan, and let steep for 2–3 minutes longer (taste to make sure the tea doesn't get too strong), then strain into teacups. Serve with honey or desired sweetener.

Dove? For Sensitive Skin?

Published on my aromatherapy blog 1/2007

This article succinctly captures one of my biggest pet peeves...the apparent disconnect, for most of us, between what goes in our bodies and what goes on our bodies. The consumer who stated that she uses Dove soap in response to an allergic reaction is especially troubling. Has anyone read the label for a bar of Dove lately? Below is the ingredient list for Dove's sensitive skin bar. I've highlighted the natural ingredients but sodium tallowate, though natural, is rendered animal fat which can dry the skin and coconut acid is a vague term that can mean a lot of things natural or un-natural.

Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, Stearic Acid, Coconut Acid, Sodium Tallowate, Water, Sodium Isethionate, Sodium Stearate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Cocoate or Sodium Palm Kernelate, Sodium Chloride, Sweet Almond Oil, Rosewood Oil, Cedarwood Oil, Rose Oil, Tetrasodium EDTA, Tetrasodium Etidronate, Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891).

Get past skin deep: Consumers too easily buy into personal-care
Chicago Sun-Times, Mar 12, 2006 by Leigh Grogan

We're pretty picky when it comes to what we eat and drink. But when it comes to our personal-care products and cosmetics -- cleansers, toners, shampoo, body lotion, eye shadow, sunscreen, foundation -- we plunk down the cash (about $35 billion a year) and forget about it.
Moisturizers have earned our trust and loyalty more than milk. If they're sold in a drugstore or a department store -- and all the better, endorsed by a gorgeous celebrity -- they must be OK. Plus, we believe in the names -- L'Oreal, Olay, Estee Lauder, Neutrogena.

Still, if we had to, could we decipher the ingredients? Get a load of these: "tridecyl stearate," "triethanolamine" and "methylparaben."
Increasingly, there's a push to give users of the estimated 8 billion personal-care products and cosmetics in the United States the tools and the knowledge to learn.
From new legislation to consumer-based Web sites, we're getting more ways to find out what is going on our bodies as well as what's going in them.

While no one is saying that what we keep in our bathrooms is going to kill us, watchdog groups are applauding such endeavors to educate consumers.
The Food and Drug Administration regulates the personal-care and cosmetics industries. Unlike the FDA's authority over drugs and medical devices, its oversight over cosmetics is less intensive. Cosmetics and their ingredients -- except for colors -- are not subject to FDA pre-market approval.
Pretty packaging and promises of newfound youth in a jar can go a long way to distract consumers from the label.
"The marketing that goes on in this [the cosmetics] industry can be upsetting at best and unlawful at worst," says Dr. Julia Hunter, a skin specialist in Los Angeles.
"Most of what's in personal-care products are fillers with no therapeutic benefits," she asserts. "You might as well drink a bunch of water [for the health of your skin] and buy something cheap."

Some consumers will turn to either a trained aesthetician or a dermatologist if trouble does erupt. Rene Monero, director of aesthetics education and treatment development at Gene Juarez Salons and Spas in Seattle, says the No. 1 condition she sees is sensitive skin that's red or flushed. Sometimes it's an allergic reaction to a product.
Because of some skin issues she was experiencing, Linda Shultz, 41, of Sacramento, Calif., began looking more closely at her face and body products.
"Before, I switched around products and didn't look at the labels," Shultz says. "After my itchy skin developed, I started looking at what was in the products . . . particularly the first several ingredients."
Now, Shultz has a specific regiment: a sea salt mixture for her body, Dove soap and Jason Natural Cosmetics hand lotion.

Some tips from the experts:
-Cosmetics guru and author Paula Begoun: "Never buy a product claiming to contain antioxidants or fancy ingredients [such as plant extracts] and that comes in a jar. These ingredients don't like air and sunlight; sticking your finger in [the container] contaminates the product. Opt for tubes and pumps."
- Dr. Julia Hunter, Los Angeles: "When you visit a cosmetics counter, always ask to see the box the product comes in because that's usually where the ingredients are listed, not on the bottle or jar. If you shop in open-sell stores [drugstores, supermarkets], read the ingredients label before buying."
- Dr. Suzanne Kilmer, director, Laser and Skin Surgery Center, Northern California: "If you experience sensitive or irritated skin, and you use dryer sheets, stop using them. Most people don't realize that the fibers [in the sheets] are coated with perfume."
-Carrie Stern, Quick & Simple magazine: "Look for products that have SPF (sun protection factor) 15 or higher and contain physical blockers like titanium dioxide or zinc oxide."
For more information, check:
Scripps Howard News Service
Copyright CHICAGO SUN-TIMES 2006Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved.