herbs

Collagen Essentials & Herbs for Boosting Your Levels

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Donkey skin trended as a skincare supplement in first century China - its collagen content believed to reverse the natural effects of aging. Today, collagen is a top ingredient in skincare and beauty products. Collagen makes up 30% of the total proteins in our body and 70% of the protein in our skin. In addition, collagen provides structural support to the extracellular space of connective tissues. Because it’s resistant to stretching, collagen gives elasticity to the connective tissues that affect our hair, skin, nails, teeth, bones, blood vessels, digestive system and tendons. By replacing dead skin cells in our skin, collagen supports skin elasticity and rejuvenation. When it comes to our joints and tendons, in the simplest terms, it’s the “glue” that helps hold the body together. Little surprise, then, that it has been so highly esteemed.

Collagen is composed of a three chain of the amino acids glycine, lysine, and proline, that form a triple helix. Glycine needs B vitamins for its synthesis and holds the triple helix shape tightly wound together which allows collagen to resist stretching. Lysine is essential, which means it is not produced in the body and has to come from an outside source. Vitamin C allows the conversion of lysine and proline into hydroxyproline and hydroxylysine which complete the triple helix. Your body needs all three of these amino acids to produce collagen, but vitamin C or B-vitamin deficiency will inhibit the production!

Collagen production naturally declines as we age, but simply ingesting animal collagen, will not translate directly into new collagen in your body. Plant based collagen supplies the body with the necessary amino acids and vitamins to support its own production.

The “bone mender” category of herbs are naturally high in silica, calcium and minerals, which basically assist in bone strength and healing. Some of these herbs are astringent and also contain mucous - an essential glue (a demulcent quality) in the plant, that, once metabolized, becomes an incredibly powerful food for our bones, connective tissue, skin, etc.

Horsetail is one of the oldest plants on the planet. It is rich in naturally occurring calcium, magnesium, potassium and bioavailable silica. Silica is an essential trace mineral that restores weak connective tissues in blood vessels, cartilage, tendons, and in collagen–the body glue that helps hold our skin and muscle tissues together. Silica plays an important role in the development, strengthening, and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth and speeds the healing of bone fractures. It is said to help rheumatism and arthritis by improving the elasticity of the joints, and is recommended to athletes for sprains, pulled hamstrings, and torn ligaments.

He Shou Wu, or fo-ti, is an adaptogenic herb that allows the body to counter and resist destructive stressors. It has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for more than 3,000 years. According to legend, the man who first discovered fo-ti was delighted to find that with regular use, it revived his natural dark hair color and sexual virility. Since that time, fo-ti has been regarded as a “youthful tonic,” or “elixir of life. There are thousands of first-person reports and a handful of clinical studies of Fo-Ti demonstrating a remarkable ability to reverse hair loss and restore rich color to white or graying hair. Although the mechanisms are not completely understood, substances with a marked harmonizing effect on the endocrine system (hormone-producing glands) and high zinc content tend to have beneficial effects on hair growth and restoration.

Gynostemma contains over 80 different saponins (gypenosides) compared to the 28 found in ginseng, a class of chemical compounds found in particular abundance in various plant specifies. More specifically, they are amphipathic glycosides grouped phenomenologically by the soap-like foam. Gynostemma is a natural antioxidant and a rich source of vitamins and minerals. Many people suggest that it is one of the best adaptogens found in nature and if you are unfamiliar with the term, they are also referred to as “biological response modifiers.” It contains two very important antioxidants: glutathione and superoxide dismutase. Glutathione is an antioxidant naturally found in human cells that neutralizes free radicals, boosts the immune system and detoxify the body. It can also cause skin lightening by converting melanin to a lighter color and deactivating the enzyme tyrosinase, which helps produce the pigment. It also reduces signs of aging, including fatigue, insomnia, memory loss, diarrhea and poor balance. Superoxide dismutase is arguably the body’s most crucial antioxidant, as it is responsible for disarming the most dangerous free radicals of all: the highly reactive superoxide radicals. Its demulcent qualities grant an extraordinary nourishing power to the gut. It helps flush the intestinal walls, causing it to be regarded for weight loss.

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Nettles contain a high amount of calcium, silica, and sulfur, making it an excellent source to help boost collagen receptors. Nettles are often used in beauty products like shampoo and soap, as it restores and repairs. It is known for its antiseptic qualities. Stinging nettle is a valuable tonic that can support our immune system, spleen, circulatory system, urinary tract, nervous system, respiratory tract, digestive system and endocrine system, including the adrenals, thyroid, and the pancreas. Nettle is also a multivitamin! It contains calcium (according to some sources, one cup of infused nettles contains 300-500 mg of calcium), carotene, magnesium, vitamin A, B + K, Potassium, and protein. *The combination of Horsetail & Stinging Nettle is used for the building of strong bones*, repair of joint cartilage, to strengthen fingernails, and/or stimulate hair growth. Horsetail's predominant element, natural occurring silicon (up to 70%) is the key ingredient to its curative properties while Stinging Nettles contains a very high source of digestible iron.

Calendula has been used since ancient times for its phenomenal abilities to restore skin, assist in wound healing and activate collagen receptors to increase the glow. In folk medicine it has been used to prevent wrinkles as it’s said to oxygenate the blood, and increasing overall circulation. The antibacterial and immuno-stimulant properties of the plant make it extremely useful in treating slow-healing cuts and cuts in people who have compromised immune systems.

Comfrey has been cultivated for healing since 400 BCE. All Materia Medica from the Middle Ages forward carried descriptions on the uses of comfrey. Comfrey is a bone strengthening herb, that is very high in calcium, magnesium and vitamin C. In folk medicines it is referred to as “knit-bone” as there are countless of reports demonstrating its strong anti-inflammatory effects and speedy wound healing. Its natural concentration of allantoin is what makes it effective with internal and external repairs of broken bones or tissue.

- by Mercy Tyne for Supernatural

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ADAPTING BETTER: A CLINICAL HERBALIST'S TAKE ON THE ADAPTOGENIC TREND & CBD

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There is a direct correlation between my age and my appreciation of ziplock bags. What began as a love for cinnamon in my coffee, a mistrust of airport Starbucks’ stevia supplies, and a subscription to the goop newsletter has led me to my current state: a ziplock-touting woman of lypospheric vitamin C packs, mushroom coffee sachets, and ashwaganda drops. 

I know who I am. I don’t, however, know how these highly-buzzed-about adaptogens actually work in the body, or in conjunction with my CBD regime. 

I sat down with Holistic Health Practitioner, Clinical Herbalist, and Supernatural Cafefounder Rachelle Robinett to get answers. She’s dedicated 5+ years helping people release stress, ease anxiety, and optimize their digestion, energy, hormones, weight, and sleep. Here’s her take on the adaptogenic rush, and how CBD fits into it. 

Rachelle, we’re seeing adaptogens everywhere these days. What are they and what can they do for us?

Glad you asked! Adaptogens have become such a buzz-word recently – people are consuming them without understanding how they work and then feeling underwhelmed by the results, so it's so important to clarify. 

I teach entire courses on this topic - but here’s the quick and dirty. 

“Adaptogen” is a term that was coined in the 1960s during a study of some specific herbs; Siberian Ginseng (Eleuthero), Rhodiola, and Ashwaganda are the standouts. 

Adaptogens are just one classification of herbs. There are so many others, and the definition of an adaptogen is that it’s nonspecific, nontoxic at therapeutic doses, and normalizing. 

The nonspecific and normalizing points are important for people to understand, because it means adaptogens cannot be directed at a specific sort of result or symptom the way many people try to use them these days. 

Adaptogens balance the body in a more general way, helping to return our systems to a sort of homeostasis. Adaptogens are not necessarily going to push you beyond “normal.” Other herbs definitely can and do (caffeine, sedatives, antidepressants) but adaptogens are for returning to balance. If you’re looking for something with a more immediate or “punchy” effect - something that's going to calm you down or rev you up beyond your “normal,” you need an herb that is more specific than an adaptogen. Balancing the body is great, but I think people need to consider if that’s what they’re after, or if they’re trying to push beyond that

I also have to call this out: “adaptogens” is not a synonym for “herbs.” There are so many classifications of herbs beyond adaptogens. We just happen to have some very good marketing behind the adaptogens right now, which is why many folks think this category is the main medicine or miracle cure.  

Studies are showing that CBD balances the endocannabinoid system. Sounds similar to what you just described! Does this mean CBD is an adaptogen?

Even though CBD has similar benefits as adaptogens, I’m not going to be the one to classify it as such. I’d also like to point out that CBD is not an herb - it’s a specific molecule of the hemp or cannabis plant. A lot of CBD on the market today is CBD isolate. 

When it comes to CBD, I’m an advocate for full-spectrum extracts like Juna NUDE, which are going to contain the range of terpenes, phytocannabinoids, and flavonoids found in the whole hemp or cannabis plant that enhance the overall effectiveness of your CBD than if you took it in isolated form.

Can you give us some herb + CBD pairings for some of the conditions your treat most?

Anxiety: Lavender is my absolute favorite for anxiety. It's a nervine herb and contains the terpenes linalool and nerolidol, which play well with CBD in reducing pain (often a source of anxiety for clients), inflammation caused by chronic stress, and relaxing without being too sedative. Lavender lemonade with the botanical touch of Juna NUDE drops would be perfect. 

I love that lavender shares a lot of the terpenes with cannabis. This is a tangent, but it's a very cool conversation to explore the terpenes that are in other plants and that effect the endocannabinoid system as well. Terpenes are one of the most abundant compounds in nature, and as we see cannabis evolve, I think we will see more attention around terpenes for customizing therapies.

Energy: At a low dose, for some people, CBD can actually act as a stimulant. Some of my other favorite energy herbs are matcha, rhodiola, and medicinal mushrooms for endurance. Gingko, bacopa, and ginseng for brain health and mental clarity. The ginsengs often work best if you're a little later in life. 

Rosemary is also fabulous and contains BCP,  a terpene that can increase the anti-inflammatory effects of CBD. Rosemary + CBD to restore after intense exercise or hike can be a beautiful combination.

PMS: The plants that can work for PMS symptoms are pretty wide-ranging depending on what the PMS symptoms are. I definitely work a lot with diet and neurotransmitter balance (specifically serotonin), which can be affected prior to our cycles and cause a lot of cravings.

CBD + Phytoestrogens like red clover, milk thistle, and chaste can be so balancing. Add raspberry leaf and you have a powerhouse combination for cramps. Juna NUDE drops mixed with honey, then whisked into my Supernatural’s For Her tea is a favorite. 

Cacao, a central ingredient in everything from my breakfast to desserts, is awesome when you're craving chocolate or carbs, or maybe need some extra magnesium.

Maca powder works on the endocrine system that can help overall hormone balance, which includes sex hormones and stress hormones both. This, in turn, can be helpful for our mood, motivation, and raising our libido. 

Sleep: I find that CBD is really helpful for some folks’ sleep, and not for others. If it’s not helping with sleep, then we have lots of sedative herbs to do that job (chamomile, California poppy, hops, valerian - the list is long). If CBD is helpful, then a little nightcap of passionflower tea or tincture plus poppy or valerian and CBD drops could be a very reliable sleep-maker . 

We know that CBD can take about five days of consistent use to really feel the best results, is it the same for most of the combinations that you recommend? 

Super cool question. Some herbs are meant to be used long-term before you feel the effects and other herbs can be felt right away. I like to mix both of those into people's lives so that they have this sort of foundational support, and then they also have a “spot treatment” or go-tos when they need an immediate fix

For example, I may someone ashwagandha for long-term use (especially if their cortisol levels are really high and it’s causing over-reactivity). And, I'll also bring in some nervine herbs like skullcap or lavender to calm things down on the spot. My HRBLS are designed exactly that way: for long-term support and also immediate anxiety relief. 

Some of the herbs I have in my HRBL gummies are designed to work right on the spot, so you can quell the nerves and anxiety. But know that long term, you're also helping your system be better adapted to the stress. 

Above all, it’s important to realize that even with all of our stress-busting and sleep-inducing, energy supportive herbs, we are sensitive, variable human organisms. We are going to thrive by remedying unhealthy situations and addressing causes of illness or imbalance, rather than attempting to medicate every symptom. 

I hope that was helpful! Thank you so much for giving natural medicine a platform Let's keep it going. Thanks so much.

This article appears originally at juna, here.

Rachelle's Take on Happiness Boosting Supplements | for Well+Good

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… “These are all exciting products, but herbalist and certified holistic health coach Rachelle Robinett wants people to keep things in perspective. “If only we could stop looking for our magic bullet,” she says. “Something I always tell people is that if they are going to spend all their money on herbs or supplements, their diet and lifestyle need to be in a good place. You have to check those boxes first,” she says.

“There also many potential reasons why a person could be unhappy, Robinett says—undiagnosed health conditions like gut or hormonal imbalances, mental health issues, external stimuli, etc. Herbs can only help with some of those conditions, and certain underlying conditions require more help from a trusted practitioner. “This is why it’s important to work with a trained professional if you are truly hoping to change your mood using herbs,” she says. She adds that some herbs, like St. John’s wort, can also interfere with prescription meds, so it’s important to fill your doctor in, too.

“That’s not to say that Robinett thinks the above-mentioned products have no purpose—au contraire! But it’s about understanding that they can be one aspect of an overall healthy lifestyle, not a quick fix. And be patient about seeing results. For example, adaptogens can take up to eight to 10 weeks of daily dosage to truly take effect, she says. “If you do plan on using a product in this way, it’s especially important to look into the sourcing of their herbs, especially with supplements,” she says. With patience, you might see a little extra joy in your future, too.”

Read the full story, here.