by Brittany Auerbach
We all have bad days. We live in a fast-paced world, one that is purely unsympathetic to our personal needs and does not always allow us the rest we deserve. Over time, this grueling lifestyle can ravage one’s health, resulting in a little less energy, vitality and “luster” in our physical appearance than we’d like! Most of us know we want to feel more energetic and have more gusto towards life but are a little uncertain of how to go about it without the use of stimulants and chemicals. As a student of naturopathy and as someone who has struggled personally with many of these common complaints, I have decided to delve a little deeper into many surprise foods and products that may be just what you need to revitalize your body inside and out.
The beauty industry makes billions of dollars annually off of the sale of makeup, hair products, miracle anti-aging creams and supplements all promising to enhance physical appearance by providing artificial ways to reproduce that wonderful “glow” that reflects inner health and means outer beauty. The cosmetics industry alone has revenues that are steadily increasing each year, up about 14.1% in 2010 since 2001 as can be seen here.
If the sales of these products are increasing each year, there is obviously a high demand for beauty-enhancing products. This leads us to the obvious question, are there not more natural, less expensive and more effective ways to achieve that healthy glow? Is there not a way to treat both the interior as well as the exterior to provide ourselves with the actual health that manifests in both abundant energy and a beautiful physical appearance?
Of all of the fabulous natural products available, one of my personal favorites is both a super-food and a beauty product, none other than extra virgin, cold pressed coconut oil. Although most people have heard of this oil, very few know the truly wondrous powers of the glorious coconut; some are even under the misconception that it is unhealthful. Coconuts have been accused in past years of being a typical saturated fat due to the oils tendency to harden at room temperature and although it is technically a saturated fat, it does not act as one. Coconut oil contains medium chain fatty acids that offer tremendous benefits to the human body, both internally and externally. This oil is used successfully in hair and skin care and it is a fabulous metabolism booster, potentially increasing the metabolism by as much as 25% after consumption.
This oil plays an important role in stress management, in maintaining healthy cholesterol levels, supporting immunity, promoting proper digestion and metabolism as well contributing to kidney, bone, dental and heart health. The benefits of coconut oil can be attributed to the presence of lauric, capric, and caprylic acids which act as antimicrobial agents, having anti-fungal and antibacterial properties both externally and within the body. This wonderful oil can be used in many ways to promote health and beauty such as:
-A hair mask- to replenish shine and help repair damaged, over-treated hair
-A face/body moisturizer or overnight eye cream to nourish the skin and reduce the appearance of fine wrinkles
-An antifungal or antibacterial topical cream for rashes such as eczema or nail fungus and even poison ivy
-One to three tablespoons of this oil eaten per day can benefit your intestinal flora by helping to controlling overgrowths of pathogenic bacteria/fungus such as candida albicans (80% of the human immune system stems from the trillions of living organisms within the digestive tract, the proper balance will do wonders in overall health)
It would be easy to sit all day and name the benefits of coconut oil, yet there are many other wonderful natural products that should not be overlooked. Essential oils are wonderful tools in the support of the human body and to help combat the many infections that plague our population. With the rampant overuse of synthetic antibiotics wreaking havoc to our inner bacterial balance, it is no wonder that we as a society have never been sicker. Contrary to popular belief there are many natural herbs and their essential oils that possess potent anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, anti-parasitic and immune stimulating properties that provide more benefits and are less harsh on the system than synthetics.
-Lavender oil is a powerful nervous system tonic, as well as possessing analgesic, antidepressant and anti-septic properties. It is used in aromatherapy as a relaxant/ mood booster and is useful in treating lice.
-Rose oil has the ability to promote glowing skin as well as being an effective anti-spasmodic agent. It acts as an astringent, and has laxative, anti-viral, and aphrodisiac properties.
-Oil of Oregano is a wonderful external treatment for rashes, acne and fungal infections as well as internal treatment for systemic yeast infections, sinusitis and colds.
-Eucalyptus essential oil can be used as a mouth wash or as an antibacterial for oral infections. It is useful in treating joint pain and various skin conditions. “According to “The Aromatherapy Bible,” eucalyptus oil can be applied to the skin to repel insects and to treat stings and bug bites. The University of Maryland Medical Center states that eucalyptus oil can also be used to treat wounds and sores. Rub eucalyptus oil or a massage oil or cream made from the oil directly onto the skin to alleviate joint pain caused by arthritis. Apply it directly to the forehead to relieve headache pain.” (Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/119605-eucalyptus-essential-oil-health-benefits/#ixzz28Lj15uWu)
-Tea Tree oil is particularly amazing due to its natural ability to cure all three types of infectious organisms: fungus, bacteria, and virus and is even effective at destroying pathogenic bacteria that is antibiotic-resistant. Tea Tree Oil is an powerful natural remedy for hundreds skin ailments such as acne, abscess, blisters, warts, herpes, oily skin, athlete’s foot, insect bites, rashes, dandruff and more. It is important to note than tea tree oil is not recommended for internal use.
-Argan Oil has extraordinary moisturizing and skin- regenerating properties and is now considered an ideal solution for face and body treatment due to its dense antioxidant content. This oil has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, reducing the appearance of facial scars, wrinkles, acne, psoriasis and other skin ailments. It can also be consumed as part of a healthy diet and even contains nearly twice as much vitamin E as olive oil!
There are many foods that do as much good within as they do out, food and food-like products not only provide vital nutrients to the cells, but they support many natural human processes while boosting vitality and strength. The humble avocado for example, is one of nature’s healthiest fruits. It is chock-full of healthy fats, loaded with important vitamins and minerals and contains all 18 essential amino acids needed to form a complete protein in addition to being one of the greatest face masks for rejuvenating the skin and minimizing pore size!
The external benefits of foods cannot be denied. Cucumber slices have long been known to help bring down inflammation and soothe the eyes while the lovely papaya has skin exfoliating and nourishing properties. Aloe is famous for taming and soothing the painful sunburn while lemon juice is a wonderful cleanser and facial toner. It appears nature has provided an abundance of beneficial products, both simple to use and yet complex in composition, with far fewer toxic reactions, environmental impacts and unwanted side effects than synthetics. There is no doubt that the biggest, safest and most successful pharmacy in the world is simply called Mother Nature.