The marijuana plant or Cannabis sativa contains two main active constituents, Cannabidiol (CBD) and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Unlike THC, the CBD is not psychoactive and therefore has not been found to cause any of the negative psychological affects associated with cannabis intake, such as anxiety, paranoia and memory issues.
Some of the proposed benefits of CBD include:
It can help to reduce inflammation by decreasing the production of many pro-inflammatory substances by the immune system. It can also act directly on the immune cells to enhance their anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory reactions.
It can help treat depression and reduce anxiety.
Some studies have suggested that CBD can help with psychosis and schizophrenia, with some reporting similar effects to pharmaceutical interventions, with less instance of side effects.
On its own or in combination with THC, CBD has been shown to reduce pain and inflammation. This, along with the anti-inflammatory effects have been shown to provide relief of joint swelling, pain and disease progression in sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis.
It can provide relief of digestive symptoms; reducing nausea and increasing appetite, as well as reducing bowel inflammation in patients with inflammatory bowel diseases. It may be particularly useful for food allergy sufferers.
Benefits for diabetes sufferers have also been shown, with lower fasting insulin, and waist circumference after taking CBD. It may also have a protective effect on the insulin producing cells of the pancreas in patients with type 1 diabetes.
Cardiac health may also be improved with CBD. Positive effects on arterial stiffness, blood vessel damage, blood pressure responses to stress, and blood clotting have been observed.
It has a protective effect on brain function, and has been shown to help preserve brain cells after stroke. It has also shown promise in helping patients with degenerative nerve and brain conditions such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Epilepsy and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). It may help Multiple Sclerosis patients reduce some of the symptoms associated with the condition, such as muscle tightness, pain and problems sleeping.
It has tumour fighting effects in many cancers patients, and can also help the immune system to work more effectively at tackling tutor cells. In addition CBD can benefit the nausea, pain and appetite loss experienced in many cancer sufferers, and it can also increase the effectiveness of certain cancer fighting drugs.
The regrowth of broken bones may be expedited with CBD treatment.
There have been positive effects on insomnia after taking CBD before bed.
Skin problems such as psoriasis and acne have also been improved with CBD.
Overall CBD is generally well tolerated by the body with very few side effects. If you want to improve your body function in any of the areas listed above, you may wish to consult with a specialist doctor about how a CBD prescription could help you, when it becomes legal in the UK on November 1st.
Many environmental factors can contribute to wrinkles and skin ageing. These can all be controlled to a certain extent, to maintain a more youthful skin profile. The main influencing environmental factors include; oxidative stress (mainly by sun damage), inflammation, ischaemia (reduced blood flow), smoking, pollution, sleep deprivation and poor nutrition.
Antioxidants and carotenoids are present in the foods we eat, and have been shown to reduce the effects of sun damage on the skin.
Carotenoids are derivatives of vitamin A, examples are β-carotene, astaxanthin, lycopene and retinol.
Antioxidants have been shown to reduce skin redness after sunburn by 40%. High antioxidant foods include; citrus, and berries.
Alcohol consumption reduces the presence of antioxidants in the skin, thus counteracting their protective effects.
Carotenoids are available in a wide range of foods; β-Carotene is contained in carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, mangos and papaya; Astaxanthin is found in microalgae, yeast, salmon, trout, krill, shrimp, crayfish and crustacea; Good sources of lycopene are tomatoes (cooked is better) and other red fruits and vegetables, such as red carrots, watermelons and papayas; Retinol and its constituents must be consumed in the diet as they cannot be synthesised by the body. Retinol is present in foods such as; Fish oils and fatty fish, dairy, and liver.
For vegans, nutritional constituents found in spinach, kale, squash and carrots can be readily converted into retinol by the body, but fats such as avocado or olive oils should be consumed at the same time to increase absorption.
Prunes, apples and tea are particularly effective at reducing oxidative damage to the skin by sun exposure. Just a few months of increased green tea intake have been shown to reduce skin roughness by 16%. Eating a moderate amount of carotenoid rich foods can even cause a protective carotenoid build up in the skin, giving you a golden glow similar to tanning in the sun.
Vitamin D3 can reduce the harmful effects of the sun on the skin. It decreases with age and we can lose up to 50% between the ages of 20 and 80, taking vitamin D3 supplements can be beneficial for skin health as we age.
Polyphenols such as contained in green tea, turmeric, resveritrol in grape skins, sylimarin from milk thistle, coffee, legumes, cereals and chocolate. Can all help to modulate the action of cell signals involved with the ageing process. Reducing the action of these cellular pathways can help to decelerate the ageing process, particularly in the skin.
Coenzyme Q10 or Ubiquinol is an important mediator of energy production in the body, it also decreases oxidative damage in the skin. Dietary sources of CoQ10 include oily fish (such as salmon, mackerel and tuna), organ meats (such as liver), and whole grains.
Optimising the bacterial makeup in the gut can have positive effect on the bacterial make-up of the skin. Taking probiotics can help to positively adjust your bacterial makeup and reduce the chance of developing rashes and allergic reactions in the skin.
Collagen is one of the main constituents of the skin and a destabilisation of the collagen structure can contribute to wrinkle formation, Vitamins C and E have been shown to increase collagen stability and protect from sun damage.
Good sources of vitamin C are; citrus fruits, blackcurrant, rose hip, guava, chili and parsley. Vitamin E is present in most vegetables, seeds, corn and soy beans.
One of the keys to managing one’s weight, is controlling how much we eat. If your daily intake of calories is greater than your daily expenditure of calories through exercise and general movement, then any excess calories will be stored as fat.
Over eating can be difficult to control, but there are generally three overeating categories that people can fall into. Each category requires a slightly different strategy to overcome.
Eating more than is necessary at mealtimes.
Many people do not produce enough of a hormone in the stomach that indicates to the brain that it is full.
A low Glycaemic Index diet can fill you up more quickly and encourages production of these hormones. Choose sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes, brown rice instead of white rice and brown wholemeal bread instead of white bread. Also try and reduce the consumption of carbohydrates such as pasta and heavily processed foods.
Using smaller plates to control portion sizes is also advisable. Also waiting 20 minutes after eating before having seconds, will give your brain a chance to receive signals from the stomach indicating that you are full.
Some people feel as if they are constantly hungry between mealtime,s leading to frequent snacking and consumption of excess food. For these people, the 5:2 calorie restricted diet has been found to be very successful.
For 5 days a week, you can eat as much as you like, even between mealtimes, but preferably on healthy snack options such as; nuts, seeds, carrots or berries.
For the other 2 days, you should eat a set number of calories throughout the day: 600kcal for men and 500kcal for women and stick to it.
Many people find it is a lot easier to stick with a diet, when its only 2 days a week!
3. Stress eating.
It is not uncommon to eat more when emotional, depressed, tired or stressed and to then gain weight as a result.
If you are a ‘stress eater’, try and identify the triggers that turn your mind to food when you are stressed, and find ways to re-align those thought processes.
It is often a good idea to find and implement an alternative stress-relieving activity when you think about indulging in food, such as meditation, exercising or having a hot bath.
High levels of ‘bad’ LDL and VLDL cholesterol in the blood can contribute to increased risk of many diseases including; diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular problems, liver disease, kidney disease, and cognitive decline.
Fibre and plant phytosterols are key to lowering cholesterol, as they prevent excess cholesterol from entering the body in the digestive tract. Adding fibre in the diet encourages the surplus cholesterol to more easily pass through into the colon, where it is excreted.
The highest dietary sources of phytosterols are nuts and seeds, particularly sesame and pistachio. Just one serving of brazil nuts per month, has been shown to provide long-term cholesterol lowering effects.
Amla powder (Indian gooseberry) and dried apples have also been found to be very effective at lowering ‘bad’ cholesterol in the blood, whilst at the same time increasing the levels of ‘good’ cholesterol (HDL).
Key foods to try and avoid if you are worried about your cholesterol are; eggs, meat, dairy and processed foods.
Migraine headaches can be extremely debilitating for sufferers. However, there are various diet and lifestyle interventions that can limit or prevent attacks.
Magnesium – Many migraine sufferers are magnesium deficient and 600mg/day of magnesium supplementation (magnesium glycinate is the best source), can act as a prophylactic for attacks when taken over a period of 3-4 months.
Nuts, grains and seeds, as well as green leafy vegetables such as kale are particularly high in magnesium also.
Epsom Baths – Magnesium is best absorbed through the skin. We recommend taking Epsom salt baths or magnesium skin sprays may also be effective.
Treatment – Treatment for an acute migraine headache may be as simple as smelling the scent of lavender. The inhalation of lavender essential oil has been found to alleviate the symptoms in 75% of migraine attacks. This is significantly more effective than the majority of drugs available on the market today.
Muscle is one of the most metabolically active tissues in the body. In general, the more muscle you have, the higher your basal metabolic rate (i.e. how much energy your body burns each day when you are at rest).
Lifting weights or resistance exercise at the gym is one the most effective ways to boost metabolism as your muscle mass increases.
Brown Fat – Another highly metabolically active tissue in the body is brown fat. Brown fat increases your metabolism by causing thermogenesis (heat production) in response to cold or various foods. The more brown fat you have, the more of your daily energy is used for heat production.
Certain foods can stimulate the body to accumulate brown fat, these include spicy foods such as capsaicin or chilli, and arginine rich foods including; Soy (such as edamame), nuts, seeds and beans.
Exposure to cold can also increase brown fat production, so taking a cold shower, or going from a sauna into a cold swimming pool or the sea can also increase metabolism.
Raising your metabolism means a greater daily intake of calories is needed to support your body’s energetic needs. Any daily calorie deficit will be made up by the body through the utilisation of fat and glucose stores.
Sufferers of acid reflux often experience heartburn after eating. This may be due to a weakness in the ring of sphincter muscle that separates the oesophagus from the stomach. This sphincter muscle should relax to let food through but contract again to keep food in the stomach. It can also be due to a hiatal hernia between the stomach and oesophagus.
Cholecystokinin – Excessive consumption of egg yolks, alcohol and coffee, all increase production of the hormone cholecystokinin. This hormone over relaxes the sphincter muscle between the oesophagus and the stomach, allowing gastric juices to enter the oesophagus where they can cause irritation and damage.
Plant-based diets – Cholecystokinin is also increased by meat consumption. This explains why plant-based diets are good for preventing reflux, and those eating meat have been found to have twice as much reflux. Persistent reflux can increase the risk for cancer of the oesophagus.
Foods such as eggs, meat, spicy foods, tomatoes, vinegar, citrus, saturated fats, mint and bananas can increase the chance of reflux in some people.
Antioxidant-rich foods – People eating the most antioxidant-rich foods have half the odds of oesophageal cancer. Interestingly there is practically no reduction in risk among those people who used antioxidant vitamin supplements, such as vitamin C or E pills.
Protect the Oesophagus – The most protective foods for the oesophagus are red-orange vegetables, dark green leafy vegetables, berries, and apples.
The kidneys assist the body in maintaining good hydration and electrolyte levels. They also remove excess acids and waste products from the blood, which are then excreted in urine. Maintaining good kidney health is important to prevent water retention, high blood pressure and acidosis in the body.
Kidney health can be maintained and improved in a number of ways, including:
Eating foods that promote nitric oxide release in the arteries will improve the blood flow to the smallest arteries that pass through the kidneys. Foods such as beetroot, rocket, rhubarb, garlic, spicy foods, cooked tomatoes and roasted vegetables will all help the arteries to open up and increase blood flow.
The kidneys will function at their best if you reduce the amount of acid forming foods you consume. Foods such as meat, fish and eggs, as well as fats and processed foods, will increase the acid load on the kidneys. Alkaline forming foods on the other hand, such as fruit and vegetables, green leafy vegetables and dried fruits will dramatically reduce the acid load.
Stress is often associated with an increased activation of the “fight or flight” processes in the body. These processes should switch on to enable us to conquer stress in the short term, but then switch off again once a stress has passed, helping us to return to a restful relaxed state again.
Modern life is rife with constant stressors and this can lead to consistent activation of the “fight or flight” stress response. Many people find it difficult to “switch off” and this can often cause sleep deprivation, anxiety, depression and poor digestion.
Magnesium can help to switch off the stress response after it is needed.
Magnesium is best absorbed through the skin. Taking a bath with magnesium (3-4 cups of Epsom salts in a warm bath for 20 minutes) can help the body deal better with stress. Magnesium skin sprays are available for the same purpose.
Your lung muscles increase the volume inside your chest as you breathe, so that air is forced into your lungs and oxygen moves from the air into your blood.
The more powerful your lung muscles are, the more efficient your respiratory system is at extracting oxygen and removing carbon dioxide.
Oxygen is a vital constituent in the reactions your body uses to make energy. An adequate supply is needed for the optimal function of all body systems and enables peak brain and physical functionality.
The power of your lung muscles has been shown to be a good predictor of longevity.
Exercise, particularly endurance training and interval training, can significantly improve your lung power.
Breath training devices and breathing exercise techniques are also useful, and can often lead to improved exercise performance in all sports.