Extracted from flax seeds, flax seed oil acts as a light carrier oil for skin products.
Homemade skincare remedies allow you to take control of the ingredients you use and put on your skin. Whether you have dry skin conditions–like psoriasis and eczema–or acne and oily skin conditions, the way you formulate your skincare remedies makes a difference. One vital ingredient in skincare is flax seed oil, a versatile carrier oil. Using flax seed oil in homemade skincare remedies proves to be quite easy.
White willow bark is a tree native to Europe and Asia. The name “white willow” comes from the color of the leaves, which are covered with fine white hairs.
The use of white willow bark medicinally goes far back. Ancient Egyptians used white willow for inflammation. The Greek physician Hippocrates wrote about white willow’s medicinal uses in 5th century B.C.
In 1829, scientists in Europe identified what was believed to be the active ingredient in white willow bark—a compound called salicin. Public demand grew rapidly.
Extracting salicin from herbs was considered to be expensive and time-consuming, so a synthetic salicylic acid version was developed in Germany in 1852 and quickly became the treatment of choice (salicin is converted in the body to salicylic acid).
The problem was that it was harder on the stomach. At therapeutic doses, people using the synthetic salicyclic acid developed stomach ulcers and bleeding.
The German company Bayer eventually created a synthetic, less harsh derivative of salicylic acid, called acetylsalicylic acid (ASA), and mass-produced it under the name aspirin. Despite this, aspirin is still known for irritating the stomach lining.
Why do people use white willow bark?
White willow bark is used for conditions that cause pain, inflammation, or fever, such as:
* Acute back pain
* Joint pain
People take white willow bark instead of aspirin because it does not appear to be as irritating to the stomach lining. It may be because the salicin found naturally in white willow bark is only converted to the acid form after it is absorbed by the stomach.
Researchers have also suggested that white willow bark is more effective than aspirin because of other active compounds that are found in the bark but not the drug. Animal research at Cairo University compared a willow bark extract to ASA and found that a willow bark extract was as effective as aspirin in reducing inflammation, even though the salicin content was lower than an equivalent dose of ASA.
What research has been done on white willow bark?
* In a German study, the effectiveness of a willow bark extract providing 240 mg of salicin a day was compared to placebo in a 2-week randomized controlled trial in 78 people with osteoarthritis. After two weeks, the willow bark patients’ pain scores were reduced by 14% compared to the placebo group, which had a 2% increase in pain scores.
* A randomized controlled trial published in the American Journal of Medicine examined the use of 120 mg or 240 mg salicin or placebo in 210 patients with an low back pain. In the fourth and final week of the study, 39% of the group taking 240 mg salicin were pain-free for at least 5 days, compared to 21% in the 120 mg group and only 6% in the placebo group.
* Two randomized controlled 6-week trials investigated the effectiveness and safety of willow bark in 127 patients with hip and/or knee osteoarthritis and 26 patients with rheumatoid arthritis. In the osteoarthritis trial, patients received either willow bark providing 240 mg of salicin a day, 100 mg a day of the drug diclofenac, or a placebo. Patients in the rheumatoid arthritis trial received either willow bark or a placebo. The results found that the drug diclofenac was more effective than placebo in osteoarthritis patients but white willow bark was not. In rheumatoid arthritis patients, willow bark wasn’t found to be more effective than placebo.
Studies have used white willow bark extracts that provide 120 mg to 240 mg of salicin per day.
Because white willow bark contains salicylates, the same precautions as aspirin should be taken until research has shown otherwise. The following people should not take white willow bark:
* People with an aspirin allergy or sensitivity. There has been a published report of a 25 year old woman who was admitted to emergency with anaphylaxis after taking 2 capsules of a weight loss supplement that contained willow bark. The patient had a history of allergy to acetylsalicylic acid. No other possible causes for anaphylaxis were identified in that patient.
* People with peptic ulcer disease or kidney disease.
* The herbs ginkgo, vitamin E, and garlic may increase the risk of bleeding if combined with white willow.
* People with hyperuricemia, gout, and asthma.
* Children and teenagers, especially with flu-like symptoms, chicken pox, or Reye’s syndrome.
* Pregnant or nursing women.
White willow bark should be avoided two weeks before or after surgery.
There have been few reported side effects. However, the same side effects as aspirin may theoretically occur, especially at higher doses: ringing in the ears, ulcers, stomach burning, pain, cramping, nausea, gastrointestinal bleeding and liver toxicity, rash, dizziness, and kidney impairment.
Our circulatory system is made up of a complex web of arteries and veins. Our arteries carry oxygen rich blood to the cells of our bodies, while the veins are designed to pump oxygen poor blood back to the heart.
This is accomplished through a series of one-way valves that do not allow blood to flow backwards into the vein. When someone suffers from varicose veins, the one-way valves of their veins do not close adequately, resulting in the inefficient transport of blood back to the heart. This causes the blood to flow backward within the vein, creating pressure and causing the vein to become swollen and distended.
While rather benign, this health condition affects about 15% of all adults worldwide. Most people recognize varicose veins because of their knotted, twisted, swollen and often bluish of these veins. In addition to any cosmetic concerns they may pose, these veins can cause discomfort in the form of dull nagging aches and pains, night cramps, ankle swelling, feelings of burning or leg fatigue after prolonged standing.
There are a number of factors that play a part in the development of varicose veins including heredity, gender, lifestyle, occupation and age. They are also known to form during pregnancy due to the dilating effect progesterone has on the veins. Because they are associated with lack of circulation, the formation of varicose veins is more common in people who sit or stand in one position for long periods of time, habitually sit with their legs crossed and those who lack regular exercise.
Wellness for Varicose Veins
Avoid standing for prolonged periods of time. If this is unavoidable, move your legs often. Stretching and flexing your ankle will work to pump the blood out of your legs and get it circulating again.
If you find yourself sitting for extended periods of time, get up and move around every 35 to 45 minutes.
Take regular walks to help exercise the muscles of the legs and increase blood flow.
Avoid clothing that may restrict blood flow.
Keep your weight down. This can help to reduce pressure on your legs.
To help prevent leg and ankle swelling, reduce your salt intake.
Elevate your legs whenever possible especially when sitting.
Topically, witch hazel can be applied to the legs to ease discomfort.
Butcher’s Broom has historically been used when dealing with circulatory ailments such as varicose veins.
Supplements such as ginkgo biloba, gotu kola or capsicum have been shown to improve circulation.
Coenzyme Q10 also improved tissue oxygenation and increases circulation.
Vitamin C with bioflavonoids and rutin can help this condition by reducing blood clotting tendencies, promoting healing and helping to strengthen the blood vessels.
White oak bark can be used to help reduce inflammation of the veins as well as to tighten tissues and strengthen blood vessels.
Essential fatty acids such as omega 3 or flax seed oil can help to reduce the pain and inflammation associated with varicose veins.
Here we examine the composition of vegetable oils and other animal fats in order to determine their usefulness and appropriateness in food preparation:
Duck and Goose Fat are semisolid at room temperature, containing about 35% saturated fat, 52% monounsaturated fat (including small amounts of antimicrobial palmitoleic acid) and about 13% polyunsaturated fat. The proportion of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids depends on what the birds have eaten. Duck and goose fat are quite stable and are highly prized in Europe for frying potatoes.
Chicken Fat is about 31% saturated, 49% monounsaturated (including moderate amounts of antimicrobial palmitoleic acid) and 20% polyunsaturated, most of which is omega-6 linoleic acid, although the amount of omega-3 can be raised by feeding chickens flax or fish meal, or allowing them to range free and eat insects. Although widely used for frying in kosher kitchens, it is inferior to duck and goose fat, which were traditionally preferred to chicken fat in Jewish cooking.
Lard or pork fat is about 40% saturated, 48% monounsaturated (including small amounts of antimicrobial palmitoleic acid) and 12% polyunsaturated. Like the fat of birds, the amount of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids will vary in lard according to what has been fed to the pigs. In the tropics, lard may also be a source of lauric acid if the pigs have eaten coconuts. Like duck and goose fat, lard is stable and a preferred fat for frying. It was widely used in America at the turn of the century.
It is a good source of vitamin D, especially in third-world countries where other animal foods are likely to be expensive. Some researchers believe that pork products should be avoided because they may contribute to cancer. Others suggest that only pork meat presents a problem and that pig fat in the form of lard is safe and healthy.
Beef and Mutton Tallows are 50-55% saturated, about 40% monounsaturated and contain small amounts of the polyunsaturates, usually less than 3%. Suet, which is the fat from the cavity of the animal, is 70-80% saturated. Suet and tallow are very stable fats and can be used for frying. Traditional cultures valued these fats for their health benefits. They are a good source of antimicrobial palmitoleic acid.
Olive Oil contains 75% oleic acid, the stable monounsaturated fat, along with 13% saturated fat, 10% omega-6 linoleic acid and 2% omega-3 linolenic acid. The high percentage of oleic acid makes olive oil ideal for salads and for cooking at moderate temperatures. Extra virgin olive oil is also rich in antioxidants. It should be cloudy, indicating that it has not been filtered, and have a golden yellow color, indicating that it is made from fully ripened olives.
Olive oil has withstood the test of time; it is the safest vegetable oil you can use, but don’t overdo. The longer chain fatty acids found in olive oil are more likely to contribute to the buildup of body fat than the short- and medium-chain fatty acids found in butter, coconut oil or palm kernel oil.
Peanut Oil contains 48% oleic acid, 18% saturated fat and 34% omega-6 linoleic acid. Like olive oil, peanut oil is relatively stable and, therefore, appropriate for stir-frys on occasion. But the high percentage of omega-6 presents a potential danger, so use of peanut oil should be strictly limited.
Sesame Oil contains 42% oleic acid, 15% saturated fat, and 43% omega-6 linoleic acid. Sesame oil is similar in composition to peanut oil. It can be used for frying because it contains unique antioxidants that are not destroyed by heat. However, the high percentage of omega-6 militates against exclusive use.
Safflower, Corn, Sunflower, Soybean and Cottonseed Oils all contain over 50% omega-6 and, except for soybean oil, only minimal amounts of omega-3. Safflower oil contains almost 80% omega-6. Researchers are just beginning to discover the dangers of excess omega-6 oils in the diet, whether rancid or not.
Use of these oils should be strictly limited. They should never be consumed after they have been heated, as in cooking, frying or baking. High oleic safflower and sunflower oils, produced from hybrid plants, have a composition similar to olive oil, namely, high amounts of oleic acid and only small amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids and, thus, are more stable than traditional varieties. However, it is difficult to find truly cold-pressed versions of these oils.
Canola Oil contains 5% saturated fat, 57% oleic acid, 23% omega-6 and 10%-15% omega-3. The newest oil on the market, canola oil was developed from the rape seed, a member of the mustard family. Rape seed is unsuited to human consumption because it contains a very-long-chain fatty acid called erucic acid, which under some circumstances is associated with fibrotic heart lesions.
Canola oil was bred to contain little if any erucic acid and has drawn the attention of nutritionists because of its high oleic acid content. But there are some indications that canola oil presents dangers of its own. It has a high sulphur content and goes rancid easily. Baked goods made with canola oil develop mold very quickly. During the deodorizing process, the omega-3 fatty acids of processed canola oil are transformed into trans fatty acids, similar to those in margarine and possibly more dangerous.
A recent study indicates that “heart healthy” canola oil actually creates a deficiency of vitamin E, a vitamin required for a healthy cardiovascular system. Other studies indicate that even low-erucic-acid canola oil causes heart lesions, particularly when the diet is low in saturated fat.
Flax Seed Oil contains 9% saturated fatty acids, 18% oleic acid, 16% omega-6 and 57% omega-3. With its extremely high omega-3 content, flax seed oil provides a remedy for the omega-6/omega-3 imbalance so prevalent in America today. Not surprisingly, Scandinavian folk lore values flax seed oil as a health food. New extraction and bottling methods have minimized rancidity problems. It should always be kept refrigerated, never heated, and consumed in small amounts in salad dressings and spreads.
Tropical Oils are more saturated than other vegetable oils. Palm oil is about 50% saturated, with 41% oleic acid and about 9% linoleic acid. Coconut oil is 92% saturated with over two-thirds of the saturated fat in the form of medium-chain fatty acids (often called medium-chain triglycerides).
Of particular interest is lauric acid, found in large quantities in both coconut oil and in mother’s milk. This fatty acid has strong antifungal and antimicrobial properties. Coconut oil protects tropical populations from bacteria and fungus so prevalent in their food supply; as third-world nations in tropical areas have switched to polyunsaturated vegetable oils, the incidence of intestinal disorders and immune deficiency diseases has increased dramatically.
Because coconut oil contains lauric acid, it is often used in baby formulas. Palm kernel oil, used primarily in candy coatings, also contains high levels of lauric acid. These oils are extremely stable and can be kept at room temperature for many months without becoming rancid. Highly saturated tropical oils do not contribute to heart disease but have nourished healthy populations for millennia. It is a shame we do not use these oils for cooking and baking—the bad rap they have received is the result of intense lobbying by the domestic vegetable oil industry.
Red palm oil has a strong taste that most will find disagreeable—although it is used extensively throughout Africa—but clarified palm oil, which is tasteless and white in color, was formerly used as shortening and in the production of commercial French fries, while coconut oil was used in cookies, crackers and pastries. The saturated fat scare has forced manufacturers to abandon these safe and healthy oils in favor of hydrogenated soybean, corn, canola and cottonseed oils.
In summary, our choice of fats and oils is one of extreme importance. Most people, especially infants and growing children, benefit from more fat in the diet rather than less. But the fats we eat must be chosen with care.
Avoid all processed foods containing newfangled hydrogenated fats and polyunsaturated oils.
Instead, use traditional vegetable oils like extra virgin olive oil and small amounts of unrefined flax seed oil. Acquaint yourself with the merits of coconut oil for baking and with animal fats for occasional frying.
Eat egg yolks and other animal fats with the proteins to which they are attached. And, finally, use as much good quality butter as you like, with the happy assurance that it is a wholesome—indeed, an essential—food for you and your whole family.
Organic butter, extra virgin olive oil, and expeller-expressed flax oil in opaque containers are available in health food stores and gourmet markets.