Nova Health Naturopathic Centre Blog

True Health and Well Being

Infrared Saunas for Health and Well-Being March 25, 2011

Filed under: diabetes,heart health,relaxation and insomnia,weight loss — novahealthnaturopathic @ 5:57 pm

The skin is a major organ of detoxification. We release toxins through our skin when we sweat, and ideally, we should sweat daily to maximize the skin’s function as a detoxifying organ. Recently, the infrared sauna has become recognized as one of the most effective methods to channel your body’s natural detoxification mechanisms. It helps remove toxic chemicals from the body, particularly when they are stored in fat cells.

Infrared radiant heat can penetrate 4 centimeters beneath the skin and can speed fat metabolism. When fat is discharged from the body as sweat, it carries with it toxins, chemicals and heavy metals such as mercury, cadmium, lead, copper, etc. which cannot be discharged by either the kidneys or the lungs.

Instead of heating the air, infrared saunas emit an infrared wavelength that heats the body core from the inside out. Infrared saunas cause sweating at lower temperatures than non-infrared heat, so it is safe for anyone with high or low blood pressure or cardiovascular issues.

Benefits of Infrared Heat

  • Improves circulation, cardiovascular function and lymphatic flow – Repeated sauna treatment improves impaired vascular function for patients with coronary risk factors.
  • Enhanced detoxification – Toxins such as alcohol, nicotine, environmental pollutants and heavy metals accumulate in the body during daily living. The body can eliminate toxins through sweating and research has shown that the body burden of chemicals, heavy metals, carcinogens and other pollutants can be significantly diminished through infrared sauna treatments.
  • Rejuvenates skin – Helps skin conditions (acne, eczema, scarring, cellulite, etc) – Infrared sauna improves circulation, expels toxins and chemicals, reduces the appearance of cellulite and moves dead cells from the surface of the skin. It clears debris, oils, and make-up residue from the pores of your skin leading to a softer, clearer and firmer complexion.
  • Boost metabolism and energy – Similar to exercise, being in the infrared sauna increases your heart rate and metabolism and uses a large amount of energy, while you just relax! Perspiring also reduces fluid build-up, sodium and subcutaneous fat.
  • Pain relief – Arthritis, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, muscle and joint pain – By expanding blood vessels and increasing circulation, more oxygen reaches injured areas of the body reducing pain and speeding up the healing process. Infrared sauna treatments help to remove lactic acid build-up, often felt after exercise or exertion, leaving the muscles feeling renewed. Infrared sauna is a successful additional treatment for arthritis, muscle pain and spasms.
  • Boosts immune system – Why do our bodies create fever when we are sick? Simply, heat kills harmful bacteria that cause infection. Fever is a natural part of the immune response. Infrared sauna induces an “artificial fever” which activates immunity and can decrease the duration of cold- and flu-like illnesses.
  • Relaxation and stress relief – Infrared sauna relaxes and loosens muscles prior to a massage or chiropractic treatment, making treatments more effective. However, the calm environment and soothing heat are also relaxing and therapeutic all by themselves.
  • Improves quality of life for those with diabetes, chronic pain and depression

Sources: Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 2010; 42(5): 818; Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine, June 2010; 16(6): 677-681; Journal of the American College of Cardiology, October 2001; 38 (4): 1083-1088; International Congress Series, April 2006; 1287: 298-303.


Ten Reasons to Drink Yerba Mate March 3, 2011

Filed under: cancer,sleep,tea,Uncategorized,weight loss — novahealthnaturopathic @ 8:29 pm

Yerba Mate is a South American herb from the holly shrub of the South American rain forest. It grows wild in Argentina, Chile, Peru, and Brazil, but is most abundantly in Paraguay where it is also cultivated. Drinking Mate is a longtime traditional social activity in Mexico, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay — family or friends pass around a “gourd” (fist-sized, round wooden ball-like cup) of the brew (just hot water and Mate leaves & stems), sipped through a “bombilla” (which translates to “little pump” or “straw”), often made of silver or bamboo.

In South America, Yerba Mate has been revered for centuries as the “drink of the gods” and is still drunk daily for health, sustained energy and mental clarity by millions. The leaves of the rainforest Mate tree naturally contain vitamins and minerals, amino acids and are rich in antioxidants — with reported ORAC antioxidant levels even higher than many brewed green teas.

Reason #1: There are 196 active chemical compounds found in the Yerba Mate plant. Of those, 144 are also found in green tea. Yerba Mate contains 11 polyphenols. Polyphenols are a group of phytochemicals, a group of recently-discovered compounds that act as powerful antioxidants and are considered to exhibit anti-cancer effects in mammals by strengthening an organism’s natural defenses and protecting it against cellular destruction.

Reason #2:  Each infusion of Mate contains:

Vitamins: A, C, E, B1, B2, Niacin (B3), B5, B Complex

Minerals: Calcium, Manganese, Iron, Selenium, Potassium, Magnesium, Phosphorus

Additional Compounds: Fatty Acids, Chlorophyll, Flavonols, Polyphenols, Trace Minerals, Antioxidants, Pantothenic Acid and 15 Amino Acids.

Source: Arch Latinoam Nutr. 1991 Sep;41(3):441-54.

Reason #3: In addition to polyphenols, Yerba Mate leaves contain saponins. Saponins are phytochemicals that have been found to specifically stimulate the immune system and aid the body in protecting against disease. They possess significant anti-inflammatory properties. Source: Adv Exp Med Biol. 1996;405:47-56.

Reason #4: With about one-third the caffeine of coffee, plus the presence of natural calming tryptophan and other elements, many also report the lack of jitters, shakes and anxiety that can accompany coffee drinking, resulting in all of the “good buzz” of coffee without the bad. And perhaps most significant is the reported lack of “coffee crash”. Source: Phytochemistry. 2000 Dec;55(7):853-7.

Reason #5: Because of its low caffeine levels, it does not interfere with sleep cycles.  In fact, it has a tendency to balance the cycles, inducing more REM sleep when necessary, or increases the amount of time spent in delta states.  Many people say they require less sleep when using yerba mate because they experience a deeper, more relaxing sleep.

Reason #6: For many years now, physicians in Europe have been incorporating yerba mate in treatments for obesity. In 2000, a research team studying obesity at the Charlottenlund Medical Center in Denmark tested an herbal preparation of Yerba Matefor gastric emptying and subsequent weight loss. They concluded that the herbal preparation, yerba mate capsules, significantly delayed gastric emptying, reduced the time to perceived gastric fullness and induced significant weight loss over 45 days in overweight patients treated in a primary health care context. In addition, maintenance treatment given in an uncontrolled context resulted in no further weight loss, nor weight regain in the group as a whole. Sources: J Hum Nutr Diet. 2001 Jun;14(3):243-50; Phytomedicine. 1999 Oct;6(4):231-8.

Reason #7: Yerba mate has significant antioxidant activity. In a study published in 1995 by Biochemicaland Molecular Biology International, researchers concluded that water extracts of yerba mate “were more potent antioxidants than either ascorbic acid (vitamin C) or butylated hydroxytoluene.” In a more recent study, published in the November 2001 issue of Fitoterapia, researchers took a look at seven different plant species in South America. They found that yerba mate “contained a higher content of flavonoids and caffeoyl derivatives than any other assayed species.” Sources:  Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2000 Mar 16;269(2):357-60; Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2002 May;957:279-83.

Reason #8: Polyphenols found in tea and yerba mate have been shown to prevent both the growth of bacteria responsible for bad breath and the bacteria’s production of odorous compounds.

Reason #9: Consumption of yerba mate improves serum lipid parameters in healthy dyslipidemic subjects and provides an additional LDL-cholesterol reduction in individuals on statin therapy. Source: J. Agric Food Chem. 2009 Sep 23;57(18):8316-24.

Reason #10:  In vivo and in vitro studies are showing yerba mate to exhibit significant cancer-fighting activity. Researchers at the University of Illinois (2005) found yerba mate to be “rich in phenolic constituents” and to “inhibit oral cancer cell proliferation” while it promoted proliferation of oral cancer cell lines at certain concentrations. Source: J. Agric. Food Chem., 2005, 53 (6), pp 1966–1973.


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