• 20 Apr 2017 1:26 PM | Simply Hijama (Administrator)

    Hijama has been the subject of intrigue in recent times, specifically Dry Cupping, which is an alternative form of Hijama; used by athletes and sportsmen alike.

    So, what is Hijama?

    The literal meaning of Hijama is ‘sucking’. Hijama is a therapy in which a vacuum is created between the skin and a cup apparatus. This suction creates a negative pressure, allowing stagnant blood in the surrounding areas to be drawn to the area of the vacuum.

    Once the vacuum is released, small superficial scratches are made on the skin to drain this stagnant blood.

    There are various methods and apparatus used to create the vacuum and break the skin barrier, such as the use of fire, bamboo cups, lancets, even animal horns.

    ‘Hijama’ is generally used to refer to wet cupping, the process mentioned above. This is the form used by the Prophet (sallallahu alahi wasallam).

    Narrated Anas bin Malik (radiyallahu anhu) that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: I did not pass by an assembly of Angels on the night that I was taken on the night journey (lailatul israa), except that they said: Oh Muhammad, order your nation with Cupping (to use cupping as a treatment).

    Saheeh Sunan ibn Maajah 3479

    There are also two other forms of beneficial cupping:

    1.     Dry Cupping Cups are applied to affected areas of the body and a vacuum is created. The cups are left on the skin for a certain amount of time and then removed. This type of application, is a form of pain relief as well as relieving stagnation in the applied area.

    2.     Moving Cupping Oil is applied to an area of the body, and a light vacuum is then created between the cup and the skin. The cup is then glided in strokes or circular motions around the area. This method relieves pain, stress, stagnation, and improves blood circulation.

    Cupping has been practiced all over the world, for many centuries. It is still practiced in many countries and is making a big come back in the West in recent years, where its practice had declined completely. Prior to the early 1900s, you could visit the Barber Shop for a haircut and Hijama session! It had been a popular therapy up until this point, after which it started to decline when modern medicine began to take center stage and antibiotics became man’s best friend.    

    Are you thinking of having Cupping Therapy?

    Cupping can be an effective therapy when it is applied safely and correctly. It is important to find a qualified practitioner trained to a high level of expertise. Do not allow any Practitioners, whose certification you find questionable, to perform Hijama on you.  

    As Hijama is a treatment in which the skin barrier may be broken, it is extremely important that practitioners are trained correctly to perform Hijama, adhering to health and safety regulations. If the regulations are not safeguarded, this can lead to cross contamination of blood born viruses and infections.

    The type of cupping and number of sessions required will vary from patient to patient; depending on their medical history, symptoms and conditions. A well trained and experienced practitioner will be able to create an appropriate treatment plan determine the best course of action; as no two patients are the same!

    When you are looking for a Hijama practitioner, you should ask the following questions:

    ·      Which training school did they qualify with?

    ·      Do they have a certificate they can show you?

    ·      Do they have public liability insurance? (although this is not mandatory, it validates the course the Practitioner has studied).

    ·      How many years have they been a Hijama practitioner?

    ·      Do they have experience with your condition/symptoms?

    Also, testimonials from their previous patients will give you a fair idea of the kind of experience you will receive.

    Warning signs:

    If you come across any of the following practiced by a Hijama practitioner, do not go ahead with any treatment with them and report them to their qualifying training school or profession association.

    ·      Reusing plastic Hijama cups

    ·      Questionable hygiene practices

    ·      Use of razor blades

    ·      Not using sharps containers for surgical blades

    ·      Not using clinical waste bags for Hijama wastes

    ·      Performing Hijama on more than one person at a time

    ·      Children being present in the treatment room  

    Are you thinking of becoming a Hijama Practitioner?

    As the awareness of Cupping Therapy has been rising in the last decade, the demand of practitioners has also been rising. This has led to an increase of people interested in learning it; either to provide it as a treatment for their family and friends, or to open their own Practice. Due to a lack of Training Schools, people were learning Hijama casually from practitioners and even from videos on the internet. There was no systematic education for Hijama Therapy. The very little Hijama training that was around, was a good starting point but insufficient at best. Now, there are several reputable Hijama course providers who provide comprehensive training.

  • 19 Jan 2017 12:46 PM | Aliya Umm Omar (Administrator)

    Ashwagandha is one of the most highly prized herbs in the Ayurvedic medical system. The use of this herb in Ayurvedic medicine extends back over 3000 to 4000 years. Ashwagandha is unique as a tonic herb with amazing stress relieving benefits. Unlike any other herb it is very easy to cultivate and is ready for harvest after only one year of growth. Ashwagandha is a small woody shrub or herb in the Solanaceae or nightshade family that grows usually about 2 feet in height and is naturally found in diverse areas ranging from Africa, the Mediterranean and East into India. 

    Ashwagandha in Sanskrit means “horse’s smell,” and is a reference to the scent of its root. It is also known as Withania somnifera where somnifera means “sleep-bearing” in Latin, a popular use of the herb. It is also goes by the name Indian ginseng, poison gooseberry, and winter cherry. 

    The commercial supplies of ashwagandha are obtained from both wild and commercial sources. The fresh root of the one-year old plants are harvested from January to March. It is either dried whole or cut in short transverse pieces and dried directly in the sun.

    Health Benefits 

    The unique properties of ashwagandha while being an energy tonic, is very beneficial for calming the mind, relieving arthritis and building sexual energy. It also has anti-inflammatory properties and can be used as an alternative for detoxification, an antiseptic, antitussive (alleviating coughs), sedative and as an overall rejuvenative.

    The pharmacological activity of this herb is attributed to certain steroidal alkaloids and steroidal lactones found in the root. A total of twelve alkaloids, 35 withanolides and several sitoindosides have been isolated from Ashwagandha roots. The two main withanolides responsible for the health benefits are withaferin A and withanolide D, plus an alkaloid, Somniferin.

    Ashwagandha contains a relatively high amount of iron (320mcg/g), giving a standard dose around 1 mg of iron.

    An Exceptional De-Stressor

    Ashwagandha is a well known adaptogen. Adaptogens greatly improve the body's ability to adapt to stress, whether it's a hectic schedule, heat or cold, noise, high altitudes or any number of other stressors. This herb imparts strength, energy, stamina, endurance, and improves mental clarity. 

    Ashwagandha is unique among adaptogens in that it has a nerve tonic effect, helping to increase your tolerance to stress that goes beyond what other adaptogens do. So it not only helps minimize excessive cortisol (the body’s stress hormone) output from stress, it helps you perceive events as less stressful! It is an uplifting nerve tonic, so it is wonderful for depression, especially if the depression is stress induced.

    Elevated cortisol levels and chronic stress can affect every physiological system in our body, including our thyroid and adrenal glands. It can make us anxious and irritable, lead to weight gain and bone loss, contribute to diabetes and heart disease risk, and deplete our energy levels.

    Cortisol is also known as the aging hormone. When cortisol gets too high, it puts us into a “fight or flight” response, which stimulates our sympathetic nervous system and our adrenal glands. When this occurs, there is a decrease in our digestive secretions and an increase in blood pressure. This puts our body in a state of constant stress, which will burn out our adrenal glands, stress our digestive tract and cause us to age more rapidly.

    Ageing Gracefully

    Apart from lowering the levels of cortisol, ashwagandha should be considered as the premiere herb for all negative conditions associated with aging. This includes its use for the prevention and inhibition of senile dementia and Alzheimer's Disease, low energy and arthritis. 

    Numerous studies on both animals and humans have attested to the anti-arthritis properties of crude preparations of the herb. The combined alkaloids also seem to exhibit anti-convulsant and antispasmodic properties against many spasmogenic agents on the intestinal, uterine, bronchial, tracheal and blood-vascular muscle. 

    A Great Hormone Regulator

    The withanolides in ashwagandha serve as important hormone precursors which the body is then able to convert into human physiological hormones. For example, if there is an excess of a certain hormone, these hormone precursors occupy the so-called hormone receptor sites, without converting to human hormones. This is in order to block absorption of the excess hormone. In this way, ashwagandha is amphoteric meaning it can serve to regulate important physiological processes, increasing or decreasing as needed. 

    Powers up the Reproductive System

    Ashwagandha is also useful for strengthening the female reproductive system for which it is commonly combined with another Ayurvedic herb called shatavari (Asparagus racemosa). The uniqueness of Ashwagandha is that it achieves its results through strengthening the nervous system and increasing the potential of reproductive hormones. It can aid other gynaecological disorders, such as female and male infertility, impotence and low sexual libido. 

    Aids Cancer Treatment

    Ashwaghanda has chemo-preventive properties that make it a useful adjunct for patients undergoing radiation and chemotherapy. Its ability to boost white blood cell counts helps prevent the immune suppression so common with chemotherapy. 

    It’s Not All in the Roots…

    So far, all discussion is about the use of the root which possesses the most valued tonic properties. However, the bitter leaves are used in the treatment of alcoholism and to relax the spasms of the lungs for the treatment of asthma and emphysema. They can also be made into an anti-inflammatory poultice and topically applied for boils and carbuncles. Internally, as with so many other strongly bitter herbs, they are anthelmintic (clearing worms). The seeds of the fruits are diuretic and can be used as a substitute for rennet to curdle milk.

    To Sum Up...

    Ashwagandha presents itself as a herb that adapts to many stressful situations while simultaneously calming the nerves and promoting sleep. Allowing you to age gracefully and regulate your hormones, it seems to combat many common ailments we see today in this modern era. Although this herb seems to be the one stop shop for many conditions there are a few precautions that we need to be aware of. 

    Ashwagandha is relatively safe when taken in the prescribed range of dosage. Large doses, however, have been shown to cause gastrointestinal upset, diarrhoea and vomiting. Large doses of ashwagandha should not be taken during pregnancy unless under the direction of an experienced health professional. It is also contraindicated in conjunction with sedatives or if one is suffering from stomach ulcers. 

    Recipes for Health

    Ashwagandha is used in Ayurvedic medicine as a powder, decoction, medicated tincture, mixed with clarified butter, combined with honey or sugar syrup or as a medicated oil. The most common form is as an alcoholic extract or capsules, of the powdered root.

    Dosage is as follows:

    §  Powder: 500-1000mg of Ashwagandha capsules a day, up to 3-6 grams daily for acute conditions.

    §  Decoction: 2 tsp added to warm cow's milk. 

    §  Alcoholic Extract: 2-4ml of the tincture taken two to three times a day. Up to 2 tbsp, 2-4 times daily for acute conditions.

    §  Mixed with ghee or honey: 1 tsp twice a day. 

    §  Narayana Taila Oil: Internally 3-10 drops or freely applied externally to painful arthritic joints.







  • 16 Dec 2016 12:09 PM | Aliya Umm Omar (Administrator)

    Water is an essential part of life. 71% of the earth's surface is water. However, most of it - 98% - is salt water. Only 2% of the earth's water is fresh water that we can drink, and of this, almost all is trapped in frozen glaciers. The human body contains from 55% to 78% water, depending on body size. Your muscles that move your body are 75% water; your blood that transports nutrients is 82% water; your lungs that provide your oxygen are 90% water; your brain that is the control centre of your body is 76% water; even your bones are 25% water. 

    To function properly and avoid dehydration, the body requirement for water varies depending on the level of activity, temperature, humidity, and other factors. The popular claim that "a person should consume eight glasses of water per day" seems to have no real basis in science. It is not clear how much water intake is needed by healthy people, though most specialists agree that approximately 2 litres (6 to 7 glasses) of water daily is the minimum to maintain proper hydration. Medical literature favours a lower consumption, typically 1 litre of water for an average male, excluding extra requirements due to fluid loss from exercise or warm weather. Some even say we should drink only when we are thirsty. However, the big question is how much water do we need to alleviate certain illnesses and provide optimum health. You are not just what you eat; you are what you drink. This is why water is so important to your health.

    Health Benefits

    When I started this blog on water I wanted to talk about how water can heal specific conditions rather than how it improves your skin and helps you lose weight. In my research I came across this interesting book: "Your body's many cries for water" by F. Batmanghelidj. He discusses an interesting theory that certain conditions could be alleviated by just drinking more water. He disregards the medical thirst indicator as being "dry mouth" and says that certain symptoms and pains should be translated as crisis signals of water shortage in the body i.e. emergency thirst signals. When these symptoms take place we need to determine whether they are brought on by dehydration. Non-infectious "recurring" or chronic pains should be viewed as indicators of body thirst. 

    He mentions that pain is a sensation that denotes local chemical changes in the area around the nerves that monitor the acid/alkali balance. The mechanism is designed to prevent excess acid build-up from metabolism. When water is not available to wash the acidic toxic waste, the nerve endings sense the change and report it to the brains pain centres. The brain suppresses it for a while but once the build up is critical the intensity of the pain increases until movement of the area is affected to prevent further toxin production. 

    Some of the pains of dehydration are as follows:

    Dyspeptic pain

    This pain is the most important thirst signal for the body. It can occur in the young and the old. Those associated with gastritis, duodenitis and heartburn should be treated, according to Batmanghelidj, with an increase in water intake alone. He mentions drinking full glasses of water (250ml) at regular intervals to alleviate the pain. In one instance, he mentions how he stopped a 10hr debilitating dyspeptic pain by giving three glasses of water over 20 minutes!

    A large amount of water is needed during the food digestion process. In the stomach, acid and enzymes mix with the food to break it down into a homogenised fluid which can pass into the intestines. The stomach wall is covered in mucus. The mucus is 98% water which forms a barrier from the stomach acid that tries to pass through it. This acid is neutralised by the sodium bicarbonate that is secreted by the mucosal cells. When the body is dehydrated this mucosal layer in the stomach wall is inefficient at protecting it from the acid which passes through and causes damage resulting in pain. Drinking water before every meal is ideal in preventing this problem. 

    Colitis pain 

    We all know that not drinking enough can bring about constipation which is the impaction of solid waste in the large colon. With increased dehydration this causes the hardening of the solid waste causing colitis pain. Drinking adequate water plus consuming fibrous fruits and vegetables will reduce constipation. 

    Rheumatoid arthritis pain

    The cartilage surfaces of bones in a joint contain much water. The lubricating property of this water is utilised in the cartilage, allowing the two opposing surfaces to freely glide over one another during joint movement. In a well hydrated cartilage the rate of friction is minimal due to good lubrication.  However, when a cartilage is dehydrated the rate of friction is increased causing damage to the cartilage and exposing the bone which brings about an inflammation in the joint. This pain can be treated with regular increase in water intake. 

    Low back pain

    75% of the weight of the upper body is supported by the water volume stored in the spinal disc core which also acts as a lubricating agent. An intermittent vacuum is needed to promote water circulation into the intervertebral joints. To prevent back pain, sufficient water needs to be drunk plus doing a series of special exercises to create this vacuum which draws water into the disc space. 

    Migraine headaches 

    According to Batmanghelidj, migraines are brought on by "heat stress", the inability to regulate body temperature. Dehydration plays an important role in the onset of migraine headaches. To prevent them from occurring he recommends regularly drinking water. Cold or iced water may by itself be able to cool the body from inside, including the brain. This may prevent excess dilation of the peripheral vessels which might be the basic cause of migraines. 

    Asthma and Allergies

    Batmanghelidj mentions that histamine plays an important role as a water regulator as well as an immune support. When the body is dehydrated histamine levels increase to preserve body water. For example, asthmatics have high histamine levels in their lung tissue as histamine also regulates bronchial muscle contraction. Since water loss can take place in the lungs through evaporation, histamine causes bronchial constriction so less water is evaporated during breathing. This in turn causes an asthma attack. He says that on average, these conditions respond after three or four weeks of regular water intake. One other factor to mention in asthmatic is the role of salt. Salt shortage is a contributing factor to this condition. It aids in breaking up the mucus build up in the air passages preventing normal breathing. Most importantly salt is a natural histamine, thus taking salt, such as Himalayan or Celtic salt, will prevent excess histamine production. 

    To Sum Up...

    Batmanghelidj discusses many other symptoms of dehydration and how drinking more water can help combat them. He mentions how stress, depression, hypertension, overeating and others, could be due to dehydration. The concern that some have with drinking more water is the fear of hyponatraemia, low sodium in the body. He mentions that this can be easily rectified by introducing half a teaspoon of salt (pink Himalayan or Celtic salt) to every ten glasses of water we drink in the day. The salt corrects the electrolyte balance and the magnesium in the salt assists the water from entering the cells where the water is really needed. 

    A good rule of thumb for water intake is to calculate your body weight in lbs (pounds) and drink half that figure in oz (ounces) of water. For eg. a 70kg person weighs 154 lbs. Half of this is 77lbs. Therefore, you need 77oz of water which converts to about 2.2 litres of water a day. Use this link to easily calculate your estimated water intake: http://www.thecalculator.co/health/Water-Calculator-56.html

    Dr Batmanghelidj proves a very fascinating theory and his book does give a lot of convincing argument about the importance of recognising indirect thirst signals. So the next time you pick up a glass of water think about all the pain you could be avoiding. Bottoms up...

    Tips for Increasing your Water Intake 

    • Start off gradually. Add an extra glass of water a day. 
    • Drink first thing in the morning when you rise from the bed and immediately before you go to bed. 
    • Drink at least 2 glasses of water before every meal. 
    • Add a pinch of Himalayan or Celtic salt on your tongue before every glass of water that you drink. This will help in getting your quota of salt for the day. 
    • Bored of just plain water? Spice it up be adding fruits, herbs etc, to the water such as cucumber, lemon, orange, raspberries, strawberries, mint, ginger, parsley and the list goes on. 
    • Ice it up. Freeze your water, add ice cubes or drink it cold if you find it easier to stomach. 
    • Make a nice warm cup of lemon and ginger tea by infusing lemon slices and grated ginger in warm water. 
    • Eat your water by eating foods with high water content, such as, cucumbers, watermelons, tomatoes, oranges etc. 
    • Set a timer to remind you of having regular water breaks. This sounds strange but it will aid you in maintaining good hydration especially if you are someone who doesn't feel thirsty. 
    • Avoid alcoholic drinks, fizzy drinks, sports drinks, drinks with artificial sweeteners, and caffeinated drinks. These strip your body of it's water supply and causes dehydration. 






    Your body's many cries for water, F. Batmanghelidj, Global Health Solutions Inc, 2008.

    The ABCs of disease, Philip Day, Credence Publications, 2013. 

  • 17 Nov 2016 11:31 AM | Aliya Umm Omar (Administrator)

    Diatomaceous Earth (often referred to as "DE") is fast becoming a popular detox tool amongst avid health enthusiasts. It is the fossilised remains of marine phytoplankton, a microscopic algae, which had accumulated over 30 million years in the river beds, streams, lakes, and oceans, forming huge silica deposits. When mined from these deposits and ground into powder, it becomes what we call diatomaceous earth. This chalk-like powder is microscopically very hard, coarse, and absorbent, which makes it useful for many things. 

    There are different kinds of DE, known as grades:

    FOOD GRADE: DE in its purest form is organic and safe to ingest and use around your home, children, and pets. This kind of DE meets the Food Chemicals Codex requirements. 

    PEST CONTROL GRADE: Not all pest control DE is chemical-free. Some companies add chemicals to their DE to make it kill pests faster. 

    POOL GRADE: This DE should not be used for any other purpose but as a pool filter, as it has been superheated, which crystallizes the silica. This process increases its effectiveness in pool filters but makes it toxic to inhale or ingest. 

    Diatomaceous means "full of diatoms", a single-celled honeycomb structured algae organisms encased in silicon exoskeletons. It is quickly becoming known for an impressive list of health benefits. Nicknamed the 'grass of the sea' for all aquatic life forms and an ancient treasure in the modern health world, many enthusiastic silica advocates are calling it nature's best kept secret and an essential mineral for human health. This fine off-white powder rich in silica, not only helps people, but also pets, plants and the planet in the pursuit of natural healthy living. 

    Main Health Benefits

    • Natural Source of Silica

    Food-grade DE is composed of approximately 85% silica. This important, trace mineral is required by tendons, cartilage, blood vessels, and bone. The nutrient even contributes to almost every vital organ, including the heart, liver, and lungs. Food was the primary source of naturally-occurring silica before modern farming practices depleted the soil. It is suggested that only 1/3 of the silica we need is available in natural, plant-based foods.

    • Heavy metal Detox

    A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that silica also helps eliminate heavy metals from the body, such as aluminium, making it perfect for a heavy metal detox. In studies, it has been shown to have a high-aluminium-affinity and reduces aluminium availability from the human gastrointestinal tract.

    • Water Purifier 

    A study published in the Journal of Applied and Environmental Microbiology found that DE helps kill viruses and purify drinking water by absorbing up to 80 percent of the viruses present, including poliovirus 1, echovirus 5 and coxsackievirus B5, which were all present in tap water even after filtration.

    • Promotes Skin Health

    Because DE is a strong abrasive, it is often used as a toothpaste and facial exfoliator. The process of exfoliation is important in skin care as it helps to remove dead skin cells that may give the appearance of tired, worn-out skin. The product’s natural silica content is also necessary for healthy skin, teeth, hair, and nails, and the product is often touted as a potent beauty mineral.

    • Supports Heart Health

    Research has also shown that food-grade DE may offer positive benefits for cholesterol levels and encourage heart health. Nutrients such as silicon, calcium, sodium, magnesium, iron, and other trace minerals are available in DE, giving rise to a practically endless supply of health benefits. Most of these nutrients play a role in building and repairing the muscles and bones.

    • Natural Pesticide

    One of the most common uses for DE is as a natural insecticide. Studies indicate that this clay-like powder can kill the harmful insects that threaten crops and home life. Due to the incessant use of pesticides, many insects have become resistant to chemical deterrents. This organic pest control method is helpful for reducing the number of environmental toxins we’re all exposed to.

    • Internal Cleanser

    DE also acts as a mild abrasive internally. It can help to remove intestinal invaders and other harmful organisms from the digestive tract. As an internal cleanser, DE may aid cleansing by supporting regularity and assist in removing toxic metals. Some studies have shown DE to be very successful in ridding animals of harmful organisms. Food-grade DE placed in the feed of livestock may help discourage fleas and other harmful bugs. Make sure that all DE is labelled “food grade” and is untreated and unheated!

    To Sum Up...

    DE can be used for many other ailments and only a few benefits have been touched upon. Nonetheless, taking DE is imperative in this modern world which is full of environmental toxins and processed foods. Ideally, DE should be taken on an empty stomach. It is recommended to start small and slowly work your way up to a higher dose. Begin with a quarter of a teaspoon added to a glass of water. Mix vigorously and drink immediately.

    Some people don't like the chalky flavour and gritty texture that are typical of DE mixed with water. If that describes you, try adding DE to a drink with more flavour (milk, orange juice, smoothies) or to foods like yoghurt, oatmeal, or applesauce. Keep your body hydrated throughout the day. 

    There are no known risks or side effects with ingesting DE. Nonetheless, everything in moderation so work your way up to 1 tsp DE mixed in a drink or meal within a 24 hour period. Make sure you purchase food grade diatomaceous earth if you want to start eating it. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, check with a qualified health professional before ingesting DE as a supplement. Be careful when handling DE as the abrasive particles could irritate the lungs. If you have a respiratory condition, I would recommend wearing a dust mask. 

    Recipes for Health

    DE Enhanced Toothpaste

    1. Take a small container (one with an airtight lid) and add some toothpaste to it
    2. Add 1part food grade DE to 9 parts toothpaste. Mix thoroughly.
    3. Brush your teeth with your DE enhanced toothpaste.
    4. Seal the container and store for future use.

    Natural Facial Exfoliator

    1. Mix DE with water (roughly 1 part DE to 3 parts water) in a bowl. You can add more DE for a more paste like mixture (for a mask) or more water (for a facial scrub)
    2. For a mask: use your fingers to smear the mixture over your forehead, nose, chin, and cheeks.
    3. For a facial scrub: use your fingers to gently scrub the mixture on your forehead, nose, chin, and cheeks. Avoid your eyes and mouth to prevent irritation. 
    4. Leave the mixture on your face for 2-5 minutes, allowing it to dry.
    5. Wash the dried mixture off your face using water and a cloth, be thorough. Avoid your eyes and mouth to prevent irritation. 

    Note: You can add Coconut oil or essential oils like lavender for added benefit. You could also add DE to your current exfoliation products.











  • 19 Oct 2016 2:18 PM | Aliya Umm Omar (Administrator)

    Beautifully bright coloured, with a sharp taste and a refreshing aroma, lemons are best when the yellow skin is thin and at its brightest. Lemon juice is a great foundation for salad dressings, and adds a tantalizing tartness when sprinkled over fish. And the zest, as the white part is bitter, is a lovely addition to many recipes. Lemon juice can be squeezed over raw fruits to add flavour while preventing them from turning brown. Browning occurs when the fruits’ enzyme (polyphenol oxidase) reacts with the oxygen in the air (known as oxidation). Lemons are high in citric acid, which breaks down this enzyme, thus preventing it from reacting with the oxygen. This allows the fruit to retain its original fresh looking colour for longer, even after it has been cut into pieces.

    The lemon belongs to the genus Citrus with other fruits such as oranges and grapefruit. The origins of the lemon are unclear, but it is commonly thought that they originated from India, China and Burma and then entered Europe via Sicily in Italy in the 1st Century AD during the time of Ancient Rome.

    Lemons are loaded with healthy benefits. Most people find taking lemon juice in water is more palatable as opposed to straight lemon juice. Lemon water is a rich source of vitamin C and plant compounds, which can enhance immune function, protect against various diseases and increase the absorption of iron. Given that some pulp goes into the mix, the pectins in the pulp can promote satiety and feed the friendly bacteria in the gut, promoting good health and decreased risk of disease. To top things off, the lemon aroma derived from the essential oils might decrease stress and improve mood. The lemon juice also offers up a healthy serving of potassium, magnesium and copper. The plant compounds in lemons are citric acid, hesperidin (antioxidant), diosmin (antioxidant), eriocitrin (antioxidant that is found in lemon peel and juice), and D-Limonene (found primarily in lemon peel).

    Prevents Scurvy and Supports Our Immune System

    While scurvy, AKA Vitamin C Deficiency, is a disease that we associate with sailors who travelled the seas, the frightening reality is that scurvy still appears in our society today. Since our bodies don’t make vitamin C on its own, it’s important to get enough of it from the foods and drinks we ingest on a daily basis. Thankfully, lemons are packed full of this vitamin plus other bioflavanoids. Vitamin C stimulates white blood cell production, vital for your immune system to function properly, thus preventing colds and flu and many other illnesses. As an antioxidant, vitamin C also protects cells from oxidative damage and neutralise free radicals. Free radicals are compounds that can damage the body’s tissue causing heart disease, cancer, and other illnesses.

    Aids in Digestion and Detoxification

    Lemon juice appears to have an atomic structure that is similar to the digestive juices found in the stomach, thus it tricks the liver into producing bile, which helps keep food moving through your body and gastrointestinal tract smoothly. The acids found in lemon juice also encourage our body to break down the nutrients in foods more slowly. The longer absorption time means insulin levels remain steady and better nutrient absorption means less bloating. Lemon water also helps relieve indigestion or ease an upset stomach.

    The liver is one of the most important organs and plays a vital role in processing toxins in the body and detoxifying the blood. The vitamin C in lemon water helps promote glutathione, which plays a key role within the liver in the detoxification process. Maintaining a slightly positive alkaline state is vital in order to fight off cancer and other illnesses and promote detoxification. Although acidic to taste, lemons are one of the most alkaline of foods and will help push our bodies to the required pH alkaline state of around 7.4.

    Reduces Vision Loss and Improves Eye Health in Diabetics

    Vitamin C reduces age-related opacity of the eyes, which means it keeps vision clearer for longer.  A study has shown that flavonoids, which are found in lemon and other fruits and vegetables, help prevent the development of cataracts in diabetics.

    Lowers Blood Sugar and Helps to Manage Diabetes

    Soluble fibres, like pectin, in lemons can lower blood sugar levels by slowing down the digestion of sugar and starch. Research also shows that two citrus bioflavonoids found in lemon significantly help reduce blood sugar levels. They can also help to manage blood sugar in other ways, such as how it is stored in the muscles and liver.

    Lemon peel reduces glucose levels in body parts such as eyes, nerves, and areas of the kidney. These are all body parts that are susceptible to damage in diabetes. This means that these compounds in lemon peel can help to reduce diabetic complications in the eye, nerves, and kidney, as well as better protecting the health of diabetics. Adding some lemon peel into a glass of lemon water is a great way to introduce it into the diet.

    Prevention of Kidney Stones

    The citric acid in lemons decreases the risk of kidney stones by diluting urine and increasing urine output.  Diosmin, a flavanone antioxidant found in lemon, was found to have very positive effects on decreasing the incidence of kidney stones. Diosmin helps to decrease urinary calcium and phosphorus in kidneys, as well as helping to increase urinary volume and serum calcium levels, all of which help to ease pressure on the kidneys and stop the development of stones.

    Reduces Uric Acid Level

    Gout is an incredibly painful condition, contributed to by an excess of uric acid in the body. A study has shown that lemon juice helps to reduce serum levels and is a useful addition to other uric acid and gout treatments that a patient may be taking.

    Good for Your Heart and Helps Lower High Blood Pressure

    Lemon water is a source of potassium, a vital mineral that is essential and helpful in a variety of body functions. Potassium is good for the heart because it plays an important role in helping its muscles function properly and pump blood around the body so it’s important to maintain your intake of this element.

    Intake of fruits high in vitamin C is linked to reduced cardiovascular disease. Low levels of vitamin C in the blood are also linked to increased risk of stroke. Intake of isolated fibres from citrus fruits has been shown to decrease blood cholesterol levels, and the essential oils in lemons can protect LDL cholesterol particles from becoming oxidized. Recent studies on rats show that the plant compounds hesperidin and diosmin may have beneficial effects on some key risk factors for heart disease.

    Vitamin C was found to help relax blood vessels and, therefore, help reduce blood pressure. This is particularly useful for blood pressure called “essential hypertension” because it doesn’t have a known cause. 

    Prevention of Anaemia

    Anaemia is often caused by iron deficiency, and is most common in pre-menopausal women. Lemons contain small amounts of iron, but they are a great source of vitamin C and citric acid, which can increase the absorption of iron from other foods. Because lemons can enhance the absorption of iron from foods, they may help prevent anaemia.

    Combats Cancer

    A number of scientific studies have shown the cancer preventative action of flavonoids and plant compounds such as hesperidin and d-limonene, found in lemon water. This research has suggested that dietary intake of flavonoids and plant compounds may reduce the risk of tumours in the breast, colon, lung, prostate, and pancreas.

    Inhibiting an enzyme called aromatase is a major strategy in treating breast cancer patients. Dietary flavones and flavanones, as found in lemon juice, have been shown to inhibit aromatase too, which helps support medical management of breast cancer.

    Helps Body and Skin Repair and Assists in Wound Healing


    The antioxidants found in vitamin C have a double task in lemon water. They help flush out toxins and fights damage caused by free radicals and UVB radiation. They also promote a healthy production of collagen, which is a vital part of the skin matrix keeping it taut and springy and preventing the formation of wrinkles and sagging. The increased collagen production also helps with wound healing. Rapid wound healing is vital to prevent infections and scarring. Vitamin C can help promote better healing by preventing free radical damage, supplementing collagen synthesis, and stimulating the formation of the skin barrier. Vitamin C gets used up quickly at a wound site, so it’s important to increase its intake if we have a number of wounds to heal.

    Vitamin C plays a vital role in keeping cartilage and bones healthy and strong. Although we might not expect it, our body relies on vitamin C to help keep our bones and teeth strong.

    Aids in Weight Loss and Prevents weight gain

    Regularly sipping on lemon water can help us lose those last pounds. That’s because lemons contain pectin. Pectin helps us feel full for longer so we will eat less throughout the day. Plus, the water will prevent dehydration which makes us prone to headaches, fatigue and an overall bad mood.

    If preventing weight gain and fat build up is a priority, throw the lemon peel into the warm lemon water along with the juice. A study found that lemon polyphenols in lemon peel prevented fat gain and weight increase in mice when tested over a 12-week period. The lemon polyphenols particularly targeted the white adipose tissue, which is the less beneficial kind of fat in our bodies. Now that’s a benefit of lemon water we can definitely appreciate!

    Boosts Energy and Mood and Eases Depression

    Skip the morning cup of coffee, lemon water can boost energy levels without the caffeine crash. Here’s how it works: Our bodies get energy from the atoms and molecules in foods. When negative-charged ions, like those found in lemons, enter your digestive tract, the result is an increase in energy levels. Additionally, just the scent of a lemon has been found to reduce stress levels, improve moods and ease depression.


    Lemons are generally well tolerated, but may cause allergic reactions in a minority of people. They may also cause contact allergy and skin irritation in people with dermatitis.

    While lemon water is one of the safest drinks you can ingest, the acids in lemon can eat away at your tooth enamel. To prevent this, drink lemon water before brushing your teeth. Drink from a straw and rinse with baking soda to neutralise any acid that might be left on your teeth.

    Recipes for health

    Lemon Water

    The easiest way to make lemon water would be to squeeze half to one whole lemon into a glass of lukewarm or room-temperature water.

    • If you want to receive the benefits of the polyphenols in the lemon skin, either add the peel whole into your glass of lemon water or use a zester to scrape some peel into the drink.
    • For a comforting, cleansing drink first thing in the morning or late at night, use lukewarm water to mix with your lemon juice. Make sure the water is not too hot as this can destroy some of the nutrients and enzymes in the fresh lemon juice.
    • If you want to receive the appetite-suppressing and metabolism-boosting benefits of lemon water, mix your lemon juice with chilled water and drink before or during meals.

    Household Uses of Lemon

    Lemons are not only used for their medicinal qualities and health benefits. Lemon juice is also used in the home. Here are some fantastic ideas of how lemon can be used in the home:

    • Clean discoloured utensils with a cloth dipped in lemon juice. Rinse with warm water.
    • Toss used lemons into your garbage disposal to help keep it clean and smelling fresh.
    • Use one part lemon juice and two parts salt to scour chinaware to its original lustre.
    • A few drops of lemon juice in outdoor house-paint will keep insects away while you are painting and until the paint dries.
    • Remove scratches on furniture by mixing equal parts of lemon juice and salad oil and rubbing it on the scratches with a soft cloth.
    • To make furniture polish, mix one part lemon juice and two parts olive oil.
    • To clean the surface of white marble or ivory, rub with a half a lemon, or make a lemon juice and salt paste. Wipe with a clean, wet cloth.
    • To remove dried paint from glass, apply hot lemon juice with a soft cloth. Leave until nearly dry, and then wipe off.
    • Rub kitchen and bathroom faucets with lemon peel. Wash and dry with a soft cloth to shine and remove spots.
    • Fish or onion odour on your hands can be removed by rubbing them with fresh lemons.
    • To get odours out of wooden rolling pins, bowls, or cutting boards, rub with a piece of lemon. Don’t rinse: The wood will absorb the lemon juice.
    • After a shampoo, rinse your hair with lemon juice to make it shine. Mix the strained juice of a lemon in 200 ml warm water.
    • Mix one tablespoon of lemon juice with two tablespoons of salt to make a rust-removing scrub.
    • Before you start to vacuum, put a few drops of lemon juice in the dust bag. It will make the house smell fresh.
    • Get grimy white cotton socks white again by boiling them in water with a slice of lemon.








  • 18 Oct 2016 1:16 PM | Simply Hijama (Administrator)

    The following case study is from the earlier days of my journey as a Hijama Therapist, and epitomes the wonders of Hijama (by the will of Allaah). 

    Patient presented with severe acne on her face along with deep scarring. The patient has previously tried other treatments and altered her diet, neither of which had any positive effect on her acne. 

    Treatment Plan: Monthly Hijama Sessions for 4 months. 

    Outcome: Initially, the patient failed to notice her skin clearing up, however her colleagues noticed! They were unaware that she was undergoing Hijama Therapy, and were amazed at how much her skin has cleared up in a short amount of time.

    We continued with the treatment plan, and her acne disappeared completely. 

    There are many success stories like this one concerning Hijama Therapy. If you have an illness, even if you have had it for a long time, you can try Hijama Therapy. You may even notice that Hijama Therapy alleviates the concerned condition as well as other problems, your body is tackling, at the same time. 

    If there are no qualified Hijama practitioners in your area, learn this therapy and help others!

  • 20 Sep 2016 11:18 AM | Aliya Umm Omar (Administrator)

    Many dishes can't exist without this vegetable and no curry will taste the same without it. It is well known that onions can provide the right balance to countless dishes. However, a lesser-known fact, about these pungent bulbs, is that they contain healing powers that can act as a blood thinner and relieve sore throats. Onions belong to the Allium plant family together with garlic and leek. The ones we eat, which are cultivated garden onions, are known as the Allium cepa. The onion is believed to have originated in Asia, though it is likely that onions may have been growing wild on every continent.

    Traces of onion remains have been found in Bronze Age settlements dating back to 5000 BC. Our ancestors must have recognized the vegetable's durability and began growing onions for food in Egypt around 3500 BC, the same time that leeks and garlic were being cultivated. Other ancient civilizations in China, India, Greece and Rome also used and consumed onions. By The Middle Ages, onions, cabbages and beans were some of the staples of the European diet. Onions were historically used as a preventative medicine during epidemics of cholera and the plague. It has been mentioned, that the Roman Emperor, Nero, as a cure for colds, ate them. Its reputation has made onions a popular component in the diets of many countries.

    Onions not only provide flavour, they provide health-promoting phytochemicals as well as nutrients.  They are a good source of vitamin C, B6, potassium, dietary fibre and folic acid. They also contain calcium, iron and have a relatively high protein quality. Onions are also surprisingly high in beneficial polyphenols, which play an important role in preventing and reducing the progression of diabetes, cancer, and neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases. Polyphenols play an important role as a prebiotic, increasing the ratio of beneficial bacteria in your gut, prevents gastric ulcers and the growth of the ulcer-forming microorganism, such as Heliobacter Pylori. 

    Of all the healthy compounds contained in onions, there are two that stand out from the rest: quercetin and sulphide compounds. Both of these compounds have strong antioxidant properties, where they each have been shown to help neutralize the free radicals in the body, and protect the membranes of the body’s cells from damage. White onions contain very little quercetin, so it’s better to stick with the yellow and red varieties.  Most health professionals recommend eating raw onions for maximum benefit, but the onion breath it leaves behind makes you think twice about indulging on them in their raw state. Cooking onions actually eliminates the pungent smell from the breath, makes them more versatile and doesn’t significantly reduce their potency.  In fact, unlike sulphur compounds, quercetin can withstand the heat of cooking as long as it is a low heat. If you do enjoy eating raw onions here are ways to eliminate onion breath: 

    • Rinse mouth with equal parts of lemon juice and water;
    • Chew a citrus peel to sweeten the breath;
    • Eat a sprig or two of parsley, a natural breath sweetener.

    Onions contain compounds such as alliin (an amino acid) as well as quercetin that appear to inhibit the growth of cancerous cells.  It appears to have more of an effect on cancers of the breast, colon, ovarian, gastric, lung and bladder. Onions have also shown to lower the risk of several cancers, even when they are consumed in only moderate amounts. "Moderate" generally means 1-2 times per week, even though in some studies it has been used to mean up to 5-6 times per week. Colorectal cancer, laryngeal cancer, and ovarian cancer are the cancer types for which risk is reduced along with moderate amounts of onion. For other cancer types, however, moderate intake of onion has not been enough to show significant risk reduction. For these cancer types, including oesophageal cancer and cancers of the mouth, daily intake of onion is required before research results show significant risk reduction.

    Onions contain phytochemicals known as disulfides, trisulphides, cepaene, and vinyl dithiins. These compounds have a variety of health-functional properties, including anticancer as well as antimicrobial activities and lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels. It also contains a unique sulphur molecule in onion, known as Onionin A; this is found in the bulb portion of the plant. This particular sulphur molecule has been shown to inhibit the activity of macrophages, specialized white blood cells that play a key role in our body's immune defence system, and one of their defence activities involves the triggering of large-scale inflammatory responses. While macrophage activity is typically a good thing, inhibition of their activity can sometimes be critical in getting chronic unwanted inflammation under control. Onion's antioxidants, including quercetin, also provide us with anti-inflammatory benefits. These antioxidants help prevent the oxidation of fatty acids in our body. When we have lower levels of oxidized fatty acids, our body produces fewer pro-inflammatory messaging molecules, and our level of inflammation is kept in check.

    The strong smell of the onion and its relatives contain thioallyl compounds (an alliin).  When cut or crushed, the alliin within the onion is converted by an enzymatic reaction into allicin, this reaction breaks down into sulphide compounds.  Sulphide compounds are aromatic and this is what gives the onion, and all the plants in the onion family, their distinctive smell.  The chopping action also causes the onion to release a volatile gas, which it does so as a defence mechanism for having its cells damaged. This stimulates nerves in the eye creating a stinging sensation. This stinging sensation provokes the tear glands to produce tears, which helps to dilute and flush out the volatile irritant.

    Researchers have found that the more pungent onions exhibit strong anti-platelet activity.  Platelet aggregation is associated with atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease, heart attack and stroke. A study at the University of Wisconsin is determining the extent to which onion consumption and specific onion compounds affect the aggregation of blood platelets in people.

    Alliums are antibacterial and anti-fungal, so they can help ward off colds and treat colds with sinus congestion that shifts from side to side in the head.  Onions will relieve coughs that cause a ripping or tearing pain in the throat or a cough that is merely an irritating dry tickle.  The watery and inflamed eyes due to sinus congestion and hay fever will be greatly relieved with onion.  Onions will also relieve headaches, which are centred behind the forehead; and earache in children and adults; congestion in the nose; toothache, especially in the molar area; hoarseness and the early stages of laryngitis; abdominal colic in babies.

    Human studies have shown that onion can help increase our bone density and may be of special benefit to women of menopausal age who are experiencing loss of bone density. In addition, there is evidence that women who have passed the age of menopause may be able to lower their risk of hip fracture through daily consumption of onions. 

    The chromium in onions assists in regulating blood sugar. The sulphur in onions helps lower blood sugar by triggering an increase in insulin production. One 2010 study in the journal Environmental Health Insights revealed that this might be especially helpful to people with diabetes. People with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes who ate red onions showed lower glucose levels for up to four hours. 

    It appears that this common household vegetable seems to hold many hidden remedies for a whole host of conditions. Not only is this great in our salads but it also deserves its own place in our medicine cabinets. One thing is for sure, we all have an onion in our pantries, and if we are ever struck with an earache or a cough we can whip up a quick remedy to nip it straight in the bud. This would be one of the only times where you would be happy to shed a tear or two of relief.

    Recipes for Health 

    Cough Syrup

    1. This onion cough syrup is prepared by chopping several large onions into a double boiler.   
    2. Cover the onions with honey.  
    3. Boil the water beneath the double boiler.  
    4. Once the honey has begun to liquefy add about 2 tbsp of horehound herb, liquorice root or cherry bark or any combination of these herbs if available. These herbs will magnify the expectorant properties of the cough syrup.  
    5. Cover and let this concoction simmer in the double boiler for 4 to 5 hours.  
    6. Strain the liquid syrup from the herb; bottle, label and refrigerate.  
    7. The cough syrup will last several weeks in the refrigerator.

    Earaches and Ear Infections

    1. Take a medium sized onion and slice it in half. 
    2. Bake the onion halves in the oven until it has become translucent.
    3. Cool the onion until the warmth of it can be tolerated on the sensitive area of the ear.  (It is advisable to rub some olive oil on the ear and around the ear to prevent any skin reactions).
    4. Place the warm onions on both ears (when treating ears, always treat both at the same time) and wrap them onto the ear with a layer of plastic wrap, a bandage and secure this on the head with a nightcap.  
    5. Garlic oil may also be placed in the ears before the onions are applied to fight infection.

    Chest Infection

    1. Slice onions and lightly sauté in olive oil until just translucent. 
    2. Lay it out on the chest, cover with a plastic wrap with a bandage or cover with a towel.
    3. Keep warm with a hot water bottle. This will allow the expectoration action to relieve congestion of the lungs and bronchial tract.











  • 22 Aug 2016 11:19 AM | Aliya Umm Omar (Administrator)

    Having lived in Italy I'm used to seeing the beautiful Italian hilltops draped in olive tree vineyards. Some would have orange nets underneath them to catch the stray olives that may have escaped earlier than its time of harvesting. 

    It is said that the olive originated from Asia Minor and spread from Iran, Syria and Palestine to the rest of the Mediterranean basin 6,000 years ago. It is among the oldest known cultivated trees in the world - being grown before the written language was even invented. Dynastic Egyptian imported olive oil from Crete, Syria and Canaan and its oil was an important item of commerce and wealth. The first recorded oil extraction took place during the Exodus from Egypt, during the 13th century BC. During this time, the oil was derived through hand-squeezing the berries and storing in special containers under guard of the priests. The olive culture was spread to the early Greeks then Romans. As the Romans extended their domain they brought the olive with them. 

    The craft of turning olives into oil has been refined in the Mediterranean region over thousands of years, and techniques have been passed down from generation to generation. The method used in Greece is different to that used in Italy or Spain. A meticulous hand is necessary because it takes at least 4.5 kg of olives to produce one litre of olive oil! The time at which olives are harvested is important to get the best flavour and nutrient content. Olives are at their prime for only about two or three weeks before the beneficial nutrients diminish. Picking the olives is a delicate process as any bruising on this soft fruit can cause it to oxidise and ferment producing an "off" flavour. Many large-scale growers use a tree-shaking device and set up nets beneath the trees that catch the olives before they hit the ground.

    After olives are picked, any leaves, twigs, and stems are removed, and the olives are washed. Then it's time for pressing. Back in the old days, processors used stone or granite wheels to crush the olives. Today, stainless steel rollers crush the olives and pits and grind them into paste. Today, stainless steel rollers crush the olives and pits and grind them into paste. The paste then undergoes a series of processes where water and solvents are added to extract the oil from this olive paste. On the contrary, for it to be classed as "extra virgin" no chemicals and solvents are allowed and the pit is removed so that the oil is derived from only the fruit. The olive fruit is then pressed by mechanical means without the use of heat to retain the nutrients and flavour in the oil. This whole process is meticulously monitored as production standards for extra virgin olive oil are more rigid, hence the mark up in its price per bottle. 

    Olive oil that is truly extra virgin has a distinctive aromatic fruity, perhaps peppery taste and is high in phenolic antioxidants, the main reason why (real) olive oil is so beneficial. It also contains a good amount of monounsaturated fats, omega 6 fatty acids, vitamin E and vitamin K. Its high antioxidant content protects against the ever rising epidemic of cardiovascular diseases, atherosclerosis and cancer.

    Mediterranean Diet studies have long associated olive oil intake with decreased risk of heart disease. However, a recent group of studies has provided us with a fascinating explanation of olive oil's cardioprotective effect. One of the key polyphenols in olive oil, hydroxytyrosol (HT), helps protect the cells that line our blood vessels from being damaged by overly reactive oxygen molecules. Many different cardiovascular problems are due to oxidative stress (damage to cell structure and function by overly reactive oxygen-containing molecules).  HT helps protect the blood vessel cells by triggering changes at a genetic level. The genetic changes triggered by HT help the blood vessel cells to enhance their antioxidant defence system. In other words, olive oil supports our blood vessels not only by providing antioxidants like vitamin E and beta-carotene. Olive oil also provides our blood vessels with unique molecules like HT that actually work at a genetic level to help the cellular walls of the blood vessels. 

    Olive oil also contains antioxidants oleocanthal, as well as oleuropein which have been shown to lower risk of lipid peroxidation (oxygen damage to fat) in our blood vessels. Many of the fat-containing molecules in our blood, including molecules like LDL, need to be protected from oxygen damage. Oxygen damage to molecules like LDL significantly increases our risk of numerous cardiovascular diseases, including atherosclerosis. Protection of the LDL molecules in our blood from oxygen damage is a major benefit provided by olive oil and its polyphenols. Equally important is protection against oxygen damage to the cells that line our blood vessels. Once again, it's the polyphenols in olive oil that have been shown to provide us with that protection.

    Olive oil is one of the few widely used culinary oils that contains about 75% of its fat in the form of oleic acid (a monounsaturated, omega-9 fatty acid). Research has long been clear about the benefits of oleic acid for proper balance of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and HDL cholesterol in the body. In addition to these cholesterol-balancing effects of olive oil and its high oleic acid content, however, comes a new twist: recent research studies have shown that olive oil and its oleic acid may be important factors for lowering blood pressure. The oleic acid in the olive oil also helps prevent or slow down the cognitive decline associated with diseases like Alzheimer’s.

    Several of the polyphenols found in olive oil, including hydroxytyrosol, oleuropein and luteolin, appear to be especially helpful in keeping our blood platelets in check and avoiding problems of too much clumping (called platelet aggregation). There are also two messaging molecules (called plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 and factor VII) that are capable of triggering too much clumping together of the platelets, and the polyphenols in olive oil can help stop overproduction of these molecules.

    Benefits of olive oil for the digestive tract were first uncovered in research on diet and cancers of the digestive tract. Numerous studies found lower rates of digestive tract cancers, especially cancers of the upper digestive tract, including the stomach and small intestine, in populations that regularly consumed olive oil. Studies on the Mediterranean Diet were an important part of this initial research on olive oil and the digestive tract. Many of these anti-cancer effects in the digestive tract were believed to depend on the polyphenols in olive oil and their antioxidant plus anti-inflammatory properties. One particular category of polyphenols, called secoiridoids, continues to be a focus in research on prevention of digestive tract cancers.

    Another fascinating area of recent research has involved the polyphenols in olive oil and the balance of bacteria in our digestive tract. Numerous polyphenols in olive oil have been shown to slow the growth of unwanted bacteria, including bacteria commonly responsible for digestive tract infections. These polyphenols include oleuropein, hydroxytyrosol, and tyrosol. Some of these same polyphenols, along with other olive oil polyphenols like ligstroside, are specifically able to inhibit the growth of the Helicobacter pylori bacterium. This effect of the olive oil polyphenols may be especially important, since overpopulation of Helicobacter bacteria coupled with over-attachment of Helicobacter to the stomach lining can lead to stomach ulcer and other unwanted digestive problems.

    Improved cognitive function, especially among older adults, is a well-known feature of the Mediterranean Diet. As the staple oil in that diet, olive oil has been of special interest for researchers interested in diet and cognitive function. In France, a recent study large-scale study on older adults has shown that visual memory and verbal fluency can be improved with what the researchers called "intensive use" of olive oil. In this case, "intensive use" meant regular use of olive oil not just for cooking, or as an ingredient in sauces and dressings, but in all of these circumstances.

    When olive oil is topically applied can help against skin conditions. It contains three major antioxidants that aid the skin healing process: vitamin E, polyphenols, and phytosterols. The antioxidants may help protect the skin from premature skin aging. Vitamin E partly accounts for the anti-aging benefits of olive oil because it helps restore skin smoothness and protects against ultraviolet light. Hydroxytyrosol, a rather rare compound found in olive oil, also prevents free radical damage to the skin. Unlike commercial moisturizers that can clog pores and exacerbate current skin conditions, olive oil penetrates deeply into the skin while providing a cleansing effect. Try using organic olive oil at night as a substitute for your regular moisturizer. Apply a teaspoon of the oil to the face and neck. Gently pat the skin with a paper towel to wipe away any excess oil.

    Another one of olive oil’s benefits for skin is its usefulness in exfoliating applications. A common exfoliating method using olive oil is to mix 1 tablespoon of the oil with natural sea salt, rubbing this mixture over the skin. The mild abrasive qualities of the sea salt, combined with the deep, penetrating action of the oil, will remove dead skin cells and leave the epidermis looking renewed and glowing.

    Olive oil is also used for nail and cuticle care, and many women use it as an eye makeup remover. Further applications include using it as an ingredient in homemade facial masks. One other interesting application for both men and women is the substitution of olive oil for shaving cream. Many men have abandoned shaving cream once they discovered how close a shave they can get with olive oil. Men and women alike have also found its refreshing qualities make it an excellent aftershave.

    Olive Oil is also great for dry brittle hair. It not only moisturises it and prevents split ends, but provides the same protection as it does to the skin. It can be used as a hair and scalp mask before shampoo use but is also great as a leave in conditioner after shampoo use. Just smooth a very small amount over wet hair starting at the tips and running your fingers through the roots with the remaining oil on your hands.

    The anti-inflammatory strength of olive oil rests on its polyphenols. These anti-inflammatory compounds include at least nine different categories of polyphenols and more than two dozen well-researched anti-inflammatory nutrients. Research has documented a wide variety of anti-inflammatory mechanisms used by olive oil polyphenols to lower our risk of inflammatory problems. In heart patients, olive oil and its polyphenols have also been determined to lower blood levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a widely used blood measurement for assessing the likelihood of unwanted inflammation. They have also been found to reduce activity in a metabolic pathway called the arachidonic acid pathway, which is central for mobilizing inflammatory processes.

    These anti-inflammatory benefits of extra virgin olive oil do not depend on large levels of intake. As little as 1-2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil per day have been shown to be associated with significant anti-inflammatory benefits.

    Many types of cancers only get initiated when cells are overwhelmed by oxidative stress and by chronic excessive inflammation. Since the polyphenols in olive oil act both as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory molecules, they are perfectly suited for lowering our cells' risk of oxidative stress and chronic unwanted inflammation. There is also encouraging research on the potential for olive oil to help with control of certain cancers once they have already developed. For example, improvement of breast cancer status has been an area of particular interest in olive oil research. Here some of the research has focused on the secoiridoids in olive oil (especially oleocanthal), and its ability to help keep breast cancer cells from reproducing. 

    Many foods contain valuable amounts of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, but few foods are as rich in these compounds as extra virgin olive oil, and this fact alone accounts for many of the research-based benefits of this culinary oil for health. Since olive oil can become rancid from exposure to light and heat, there are some important purchasing criteria you should follow to ensure buying a better quality product. Look for olive oils that are sold in dark tinted bottles since the packaging will help protect the oil from oxidation caused by exposure to light. In addition, make sure the oil is displayed in a cool area, away from any direct or indirect contact with heat.

    Recipes for Health

    To gain the full benefits from extra virgin olive oil, use it in dressing salads and a variety of cooked foods. Avoid cooking with it as it causes the oil to oxidise diminishing its antioxidant content. 

    Mediterranean Dressing:

    3-5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

    1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

    1 clove garlic chopped

    Salt and pepper to taste

    Great on salads and cooked vegetables. 

    Other quick serving ideas:

    • Puree minced garlic, cooked potatoes and extra virgin olive oil together to make exceptionally delicious garlic mashed potatoes. Season to taste.
    • Drizzle extra virgin olive oil over healthy sautéed vegetables before serving.
    • Puree extra virgin olive oil, garlic and your favorite beans together in a food processor. Season to taste and serve as a dip.
    • Instead of putting the butter dish out on the table, place a small cup of extra virgin olive oil out instead to use on your bread or rolls. For extra flavour, try adding a little Balsamic vinegar or any of your favourite dried herbs and spices to the extra virgin olive oil.

    Eye Makeup Remover

    Put one or two drops of extra virgin olive oil on a cotton face pad and use it to remove your eye makeup at the end of the day. Gently remove your eye makeup without stretching and pulling the delicate skin around your eyes. As you use it, the olive oil works to soften the skin, especially when you use it as a makeup remover on a consistent basis.










    Ruta Ganceviciene, Aikaterini I. Liakou, Athanasios Theodoridis, Evgenia Makrantonaki, and Christos C. Zouboulis. Skin anti-aging strategies. Dermatoendocrinol. Jul 1, 2012; 4(3): 308-319. doi: 10.4161/derm.22804.

    D’Angelo S, Ingrosso D, Migliardi V, et al. Hydroxytyrosol, a natural antioxidant from olive oil, prevents protein damage induced by long-wave ultraviolet radiation in melanoma cells. Free Radic Biol Med. 2005 Apr 1;38(7):908-18.

  • 20 Jul 2016 3:59 PM | Aliya Umm Omar (Administrator)

    Most beach fronts are adorned with this bold plant, boasting its thick succulent leaves full of juicy goodness. In fact Aloe Vera has been used for centuries and many civilisations have taken advantage of the soft slippery flesh embedded inside a thick leathery coat. It was used to great effect by Greek and Roman physicians and the ancient Chinese and Egyptians used aloe vera to treat burns, wounds, and reduce fever. The first detailed discussion of Aloe's medicinal value could be found in the Papyrus ebers, an Egyptian document written around B.C.E. 1550. 

    The Aloe Vera plant originated in the warm, dry climates of Africa. The term Aloe Vera ("true Aloe") refers to the Aloe Barbadensis Miller. It is part of the lily family (Liliaceae), the same family that garlic and onions belong to. Fully grown the plant stands 60 to 90 cm high, and a mature leaf is 7 to 10 cm across at the base, weighing 1.5 to 2 kg.  The lower leaf of the plant is used for medicinal purpose. If the lower leaf is sliced open, the gel obtained can be applied on the affected area of the skin. The leaves and seeds are the two edible parts of Aloe Vera. 

    The Aloe leaf structure is made up of four layers:

    Rind - the outer protective layer;

    Latex - a layer of bitter sticky yellow sap found just under the skin of the leaf which helps protect the plant from animals;

    Mucilage Gel - the inner part of the leaf that is filleted out to make Aloe Vera gel. The inner gel contains the 8 essential Amino Acids that the human body needs but cannot manufacture. 

    Aloe vera contains over 200 biologically active, naturally-occurring constituents including polysaccharides, vitamins, enzymes, amino acids, and minerals that promote nutrient absorption, digestive health, a healthy immune system, and a reduction of nitrates. The vitamins it contains include A, C, E, folic acid, choline, B1, B2, B3 (niacin), B6. Aloe Vera is also one of the few plants that contains vitamin B12. Some of the 20 minerals found in Aloe vera include: calcium, magnesium, zinc, chromium, selenium, sodium, iron, potassium, copper, manganese. 

    The bulk of the aloe vera leaf, which is filled with a clear gel-like substance, is approximately 99% water. It also contains powerful antioxidants, which belong to a large family of substances known as polyphenols. These polyphenols, along with several other compounds in Aloe vera, can help inhibit the growth of certain bacteria that can cause infections in humans. Aloe vera also includes quite an impressive range of fatty acids. It contains three plant sterols, which are important fatty acids – HCL cholesterol (which lowers fats in the blood), campesterol, and B-sitosterol. All are helpful in reducing symptoms of allergies and acid indigestion. Other fatty acids include linoleic, linolenic, myristic, caprylic, oleic, palmitic, and stearic. 

    Aloe Vera gel is renowned for its skin healing properties. It's been used for centuries to treat minor wounds and burns and skin irritations which is why it was known as the "burn plant'. It has long been known as a treatment for sores, particularly burns, including sunburns. Studies suggest that it is an effective topical treatment for first- and second-degree burns. A review of 4 experimental studies found that Aloe vera could reduce the healing time of burns by around 9 days compared to conventional medication. Aloe acts as an analgesic, acting to help relieve pain of wounds.  It’s feels especially good to cut a stem of aloe, place it in the fridge and rub it on sun burnt skin – the immediate soothing effect feels like an absolute lifesaver. 

    Aloe Vera is also a great anti ageing compound which is why it is often the main ingredient in many cosmetic products. Due to its high water content it acts as a moisturiser and hydrates the skin. After being absorbed into the skin, it stimulates the fibroblasts cells and causes them to regenerate themselves faster. It's the cells that that produce the collagen and elastin so the skin will get smoother and look younger. A study of 30 women over the age of 45, demonstrated how the topical application of the gel was shown to increase collagen production and improve skin elasticity over a 90-day period. 

    The polysaccharides in aloe vera juice stimulate macrophages, which are the white blood cells of your immune system that fight against viruses. Aloe is also an immune enhancer because of its high level of anti-oxidants, which help combat the unstable compounds known as free-radicals, contributing to the aging process.

    One of the home remedies for asthma was to boil some Aloe Vera leaves in a pan of water and breathe in the vapour.

    Aloe vera has sometimes been used as a traditional diabetes remedy. It is said to enhance insulin sensitivity and help improve blood sugar levels.

    Aloe Vera is great as a laxative to treat constipation. It is the latex and not the gel that provides the benefit. The key compound responsible for this effect is called aloin, or barbaloin, which has well-established laxative effects. However, some concerns have been raised about safety issues with frequent use and thus it is best to take this on a short term basis. 

    Aloe is known to soothe and cleanse the digestive tract and help improve digestion. The interesting thing about taking aloe internally is that, because it is an adaptogen, it helps with either constipation or diarrhoea, helping to regulate your elimination cycles in whatever way you need. A two year trial is underway at hospitals in Swansea for use of Aloe Vera in treating Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). A clinical trial involving 44 patients suffering from Ulcerative Colitis has been completed at the Royal London Hospital and the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford. The trial was completed in January 2004 and an improvement was found in 38% of patients given Aloe Vera gel as opposed to 8% given a placebo.

    Aloe vera’s active ingredients are sulphur, lupeol, salicylic acid, cinnamic acid, urea nitrogen and phenol which are substances that prevent the growth of disease-causing microorganisms and act as a team to provide antimicrobial activity thus eliminating many internal and external infections, also active against bacteria. It also helps to treat fungal and viral infections thus it extrudes anti-bacterial, fungal, viral, microbial properties. Studies have found its effectiveness as a mouth rinse in reducing dental plaque. Aloe vera does this by killing the plaque-producing bacterium Streptococcus mutansin the mouth, as well as the yeast Candida albicans, thus, helping mild vaginal irritations. Studies have also shown how Aloe vera can accelerate the healing of mouth ulcers and reduce the pain associated with them. 

    Aloe Vera is best used when freshly cut from the plant and nowadays it's relatively easy to buy and maintain. Many often buy it as an indoor house plant due to its ability to adapt in almost all environments. However, when the gel is taken from the leaf it doesn't store well so it best to only take the amount you need at that time. 

    These are some of the amazing effects aloe Vera can have on the body. It's also an alkaline forming food so it alkalizes the body, helping to balance overly acidic dietary habits. However, taking aloe internally long term does have side effects, which can include pain, electrolyte imbalances, and diarrhoea.  Taking aloe internally should be limited if not avoided during pregnancy, menstruation, if you have hemorrhoids or degeneration of the liver and gall bladder. It is an incredibly potent plant and should be used with a level of respect for its potency. Nonetheless, it serves it purpose on a lot of common ailments which could bring relief to many who suffer them. 

    Recipes for Health

    Raw Clear Skin Juice Recipe

    §  2 Carrots

    §  1 Cucumber

    §  3-4 stalks of celery

    §  1 large piece of Aloe (slice open and scrap the inside to put through juicer)

    §  1 inch knob of Ginger root

    §  3-4 leaves of dandelion

    This is a great juice combination for helping to clear up skin, from the inside-out.

    Blend all the ingredients together and drink immediately. 

    Aloe Face Exfoliator

    §  1/2 cup Aloe Vera gel

    §  Brown sugar or baking soda

    Aloe is a great base for a homemade scrub because it helps soften your skin and supply oxygen to your cells, strengthening the tissue to create vibrant skin. 

    Mix 1/2 cup of aloe with just enough brown sugar or baking soda to get a gritty (but not a sharp) texture. Then rub it on your face, elbows, heels, arms, or wherever else needs softening. For hard skin it is best to apply it after a shower.






















  • 21 Jun 2016 2:34 PM | Aliya Umm Omar (Administrator)

    Adding that little bit of spice into your dishes may be the best decision you make for your family; and what better hot spice to use than cayenne pepper. Cayenne pepper supposedly originated from the Cayenne region of French Guiana in South America (hence the name). However, it is now largely grown in India, East Africa, Mexico and the United States. It is generally dried and ground, or pulped and baked into cakes, which are then ground and sifted to make the powdered spice. However, the pepper is also used in their whole form in Korean, Sichuan and other Asian cuisines. 

    Cayenne pepper, scientifically known as Capsicum Frutescens, is from the Capsicum genus in the nightshade family of Solanaceae. It is also known as guinea pepper, bird’s beak, chilliepin and mad pepper and is generally rated at 30,000 to 50,000 on the Scoville scales. The Scoville scale is a measurement of the pungency (spicy heat) of chilli peppers. This measurement means it is as hot as Tabasco pepper and the yellow lantern chilli. 

    Cayenne pepper has been used as medicine for over 9000 years and many herbalists believe that Cayenne is the most useful and valuable herb in the herb kingdom, not only for the entire digestive system, but also for the heart and circulatory system. It acts as a catalyst and increases the effectiveness of other herbs and nutrients when used with them. For example, if you were to add cayenne pepper in a glass of orange juice it would increase the potency of the vitamin C in that drink giving you a great remedy for colds and flu. 

    Capsaicin is the active ingredient in cayenne pepper and it gives the powder its spiciness. It is also thermogenic, elevating the body's temperature, which boosts metabolism. According to a study in South Korea, cayenne can also aid weight loss by stimulating carbohydrate oxidation during rest and exercise. This means that the body is able to burn more carbohydrates. The more carbohydrates that are burned the less is stored as fat. 

    Cayenne has traditionally been used for overcoming fatigue and restoring stamina and vigour. It is a natural stimulant without the threatening side effects of palpitations, hyperactivity or rise in blood pressure like many other stimulating agents. This stimulating effect also "orders" the brain to burn fat cells, especially fat cells around the midriff or stomach area, according to Stephen Whiting, a food scientist. He also mentions the potential benefit of cayenne pepper in weight management by increasing energy expenditure (burning more energy), increasing lipid oxidation (burning more fats) and reducing appetite. 

    Cayenne is a medicinal and nutritional herb. It is a very high source of Vitamins A, C, E, has the complete B complexes, and is very rich in organic calcium, potassium and manganese, which is one of the reasons it is good for the heart. It is said to have no equal for its ability to boost circulation and increase heart action, even stopping a heart attack within 30 seconds! Doctors would achieve this by giving the patient a tea made by simply mixing one teaspoon of cayenne pepper in a cup of hot water. This exerts a variety of desirable actions on the entire cardiovascular system. It has the extraordinary ability to enhance cardiovascular performance while actually lowering blood pressure. 

    Capsaicin's powerful decongestant properties stimulate the release of mucus from respiratory passages, which in turn opens the airway. It also dilates blood vessels and increases blood flow to major organs, which means it allows for more nutrients and oxygen to enter vital areas of the body encouraging healing. 

    Externally, it can be applied on the skin as a remedy for conditions involving joint pains (such as in the case of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis). It achieves this by causing the body to be ‘distracted’ by the original pain, known as the ‘counter-irritant’ effect. It also causes the brain to secrete more endorphins, the ‘feel good’ hormone, thus lowering the sensation of pain.

    Research has particularly shown the effectiveness of capsaicin in treating cluster headaches.  A study published in Cephalalgia found that it can desensitize sensory neurons by depleting the nerve terminals of substance P, a neuropeptide associated with inflammatory processes and pain. It is also a chemical that carries pain messages to the brain. Thus, with less substance P, fewer pain messages reach the brain and less pain is felt. The authors of the study concluded that taking capsaicin through the nasal passage may provide an effective treatment option for these headaches.  This makes it an ideal pain killer for other pains such as migraines, stomach-aches, cramps, etc. Applying cayenne pepper as a poultice (see Recipes for Health) on the area of pain should also provide the same effect. 

    A study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, found that cayenne pepper, when applied topically (on the affected area of the skin, i.e. as a poultice), can significantly improve itching and other symptoms associated with psoriasis. 

    The interesting thing about cayenne pepper is that internally it dilates blood vessels but when applied to open wounds it seals the wound and halts blood flow. By simply sprinkling some cayenne pepper on the open wound it will almost instantly stop the bleeding. Be aware, it will sting!

    The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a study, which suggested cayenne pepper could aid those with diabetes. They found that diabetic people who ate a meal containing liberal amounts of chilli pepper required less insulin (to reduce their blood sugar) after the meal.

    Cayenne can rebuild the stomach tissue and boost the peristaltic action in the intestines. It aids elimination and assimilation (especially of proteins), and helps the body to create hydrochloric acid (stomach acid), which is essential for good digestion. Cayenne pepper can also help produce saliva by stimulating the salivary glands and the flow of enzyme production. This, in turn, can also aid in combating bad breath. 

    Studies conducted around the world, suggests that cayenne pepper can cause remarkable results in cancer patients. One study, conducted by the American Association for Cancer Research, reports that capsaicin is able to kill prostate cancer cells by forcing them to undergo "apoptosis"' a form of cellular self-termination, without harming any health cells around them. Another study conducted at the University of Nottingham in England strongly suggests that capsaicin is able to trigger apoptosis in lung and pancreatic cancer cells. There have also been several clinical studies conducted in Japan and China that showed natural capsaicin directly inhibits the growth of leukemic cells as well.

    Cayenne pepper is possibly the king of herbs with the amazing effects it can have on our health and its ability to treat a whole host of conditions. Many are avid drinkers of the cayenne pepper tonic to detoxify, repair and revitalise the body. Others use it to treat long standing conditions that no other remedy has been able to do. It is important to note that as a beginner it is best to start with a pinch of cayenne pepper in hot water and then work your way up to 1 teaspoon. The warmer the water the better, as it increases its potency. Taking this tea at a time that you are relaxed is better and will avoid any feelings of nausea. The slight tingling on the tongue is nothing compared to the vast amounts of benefits you can achieve from taking it.

    Recipes for Health

    Immune boosting tonic

    1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper;

    1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger;

    1 tablespoon of honey;

    1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar;

    2 tablespoons of water (hot or cold).

    Making it into a hot tea will clear the sinuses. The cayenne pepper in this tonic will increase the effectiveness of all the other ingredients boosting its antibiotic abilities. Other ingredients such as garlic and lemon juice can also be added.  

    Cayenne pepper poultice

    1)     Lay a piece of cling film out on the table.

    2)     Fold a kitchen roll paper in half and place on top of the cling film.

    3)     Sprinkle a small amount of olive oil on the kitchen paper and spread out.

    §  Olive oil is used so that cayenne pepper will stick to it.

    4)     Sprinkle cayenne pepper on the oil generously.

    5)     Put the poultice on the area of pain.

    6)     Wrap cling film around the area and keep it warm.

    7)     Leave it on for a few hours or overnight.

    8)     May not experience heat or warmth immediately.













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