Category Archives: Alternative Medicine

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Statins & Diabetes

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Most older women are prescribed statins that have high levels of blood cholesterol, but the effects of the drug have not been well-studied in this group as it seems was done in other groups.  There is currently a new study from Australia that find older women taking statins to lower cholesterol may have a significantly higher risk of developing diabetes. This research was conducted by a team at the University of Queensland (UQ) in Brisbane, Australia and is published in the journal Drugs & Aging.

More than 8,000 women aged 75 and over and taking statins had a 33% higher chance of being diagnosed with new-onset diabetes in the study.  Dr. Mark Jones, the lead author of the UQ School of Public Health says that statins are highly prescribed for this age group and there are few clinical trials studying how they actually affect these older women.  The majority of research is on 40 to 70 year old men and not the women.

This class of drug is designed to lower blood cholesterol, which is mostly made in the liver.  By reducing liver production of cholesterol is also helps the liver to remove cholesterol from the blood.  The body does need cholesterol, but if there is too much of it in the blood it can lead to a buildup of plaque in the walls of arteries that is a risk factor for stroke and heart disease. These are the leading causes of death for men and women in the United States.

To reduce or prevent unhealthy cholesterol levels we should start with changing our diet and increasing physical activity.  Dietary and lifestyle changes may be enough to keep some people’s cholesterol levels in check, but medication may be needed for others, especially if they have other risk factors for heart disease.  Several medications to lower cholesterol in the blood are available, but the ones most recommended as a cholesterol lowering drug linked to a reduced risk of heart attack and stroke are the statins.

There was a 10-fold increase in statin use by people aged 45 and over in the U.S. from 1988-1994 to 2005-2008.  There was also a corresponding drop in people with high cholesterol over this period, which may or may not be due to increased use of statins and other cholesterol-lowering drugs.  In a 2015 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) it concludes that fewer than half of people in the U.S. that are eligible to take cholesterol-lowering medications, are actually taking them.

Dr. Jones and his colleagues analyzed data on 8,372 women born between 1921 and 1926 who took part in regular surveys as part of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health.  They were free of diabetes at the start of 2003 and the team assessed statin exposure based on prescriptions dispensed between 2002 and 2013. Upon following 10 years, the team found that 49% of the women had filled prescriptions for statins and 5% had begun treatment for new-onset diabetes.  

It was revealed through statistical analysis that statin exposure was linked to a 33% higher risk of developing diabetes.  Up to 51% risk increase was shown for the highest dose of statin usage.

The team was most concerned to find this dose-response effect between statin use and risk of diabetes, as over the 10 years of study most of the women progressed to higher doses of statins.  Doctors and their elderly female patients should be aware of these findings and Dr. Jones urges those elderly women taking statins to be carefully and regularly monitored for increased blood glucose to ensure early detection and management of diabetes.  

Dr Fredda Branyon

Drug

Immune System Drugs for Multiple Myeloma

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The immune system takes a real hit with multiple myeloma and makes it much harder to fight infections.  For this reason, your immune system is a focus in many of the mainstream treatments for multiple myeloma.  You might want to consult with your doctor to consider the different immune system drugs out there, what they do and how they work. You may also want to speak to an alternative physician to educate yourself on more natural ways to fight cancer.

Biologics are medicines that believed to help your immune system to control your myeloma. These drugs are made from living organisms and some can boost the immune system to help the body fight the disease.  Some suppress it to do the same thing and yet more destroy cancer cells directly or reduce the side effect of other treatments. We at New Hope Unlimited believe it is best to use your own biologicals to enhance the immune system.  But for the purpose of this article, I am reporting on what mainstream medicine is doing with a lot of synthetic drugs.

There are three medications taken as pills that is said to help your immune system point out and attack cancer cells.  They are also called immunomodulators or immune-modifying drugs.

These three are:

  • Thalidomide (Thalomid) that lowers the blood supply to cancers.  Prior to its use to treat myeloma in the late 1990’s, it was used as a sedative and nausea medication for pregnant women until it was found to cause birth defects.
  • Lenalidomide (Revlimid) is a stronger form of thalidomide and has fewer side effects, but it can still cause numbness, rashes and fatigue that thalidomide does.  They both have a risk of shortness of breath or seizures.
  • Pomalidomide (Pomalyst), the newest drug of this type, which was approved by the FDA for multiple myeloma, is similar to the others.  One big difference is that it has been found to be effect longer.

Common side effects of all three of these drugs include low blood counts, a “pins and needles” feeling or pain in the arms and legs and a higher risk of blood clots that can travel to the lungs from the leg.  There are even more side effects for each drug that your doctor will discuss with you.

Other drugs are:

  • The drug interferon boosts the immune system and encourages healthy cells to move toward the cancer cells to destroy them.  This drug is injected into the skin 2 to 3 times a week and you may feel flu-like symptoms after it’s given to you.
  • Monoclonal Antibodies are man-made and supposed to work on one type of target.  
  • Daratumumab (Darzalex) attaches to multiple myeloma cells and will kill them and signal your immune system to attack them. If one of the other treatments hasn’t worked, you will get this one.  There may be a reaction a few hours after getting the drug such as coughing, wheezing, trouble breathing, runny nose, headache or rash. If any of these happen to you, your doctor may need to adjust your dose or add another medicine with it to lessen or stop your symptom.
  • Elotuzumab (Empliciti) works much in the same way as daratumumab with the same reactions and side effects.  More side effects are weakness or numbness in your hands and feet and respiratory tract infection.

Some biologics are in development in clinical trials.  Your doctor might suggest you join in one of these to try.  They are adoptive T-cell transfers, which use the body’s T cells (white blood cells that help fight disease) to destroy the cancer.  Vaccines would work like more-common vaccines to jump-start the immune system to attack cancer cells.

Wouldn’t there possibly be a natural alternative treatment to build the immune system? Consult with your doctor as to the best drug that will fit for you. There are many options for edications listed above.

Dr Fredda Branyon

Choosing Complementary Medicine For Cancer

Choosing the complementary medicine best suited for your type of cancer can be a daunting and overwhelming decision. My opinion is a true integrative program of science based protocols that are done outside of the United States. However, many people are unable to travel outside of the US. There is some helpful information on integrative treatments that have the best evidence behind them or are the most widely used. This is not a replacement for traditional medical care but to be used alongside your chemotherapy, radiation or surgery. Talk with your doctor about any of the therapies you are thinking of trying. Some natural therapies can have side effects and interactions just like the conventional treatments.

Some treatments are:

·  Acupuncture & Acupressure to relieve pain and other symptoms. This can reduce nausea associated with chemotherapy and reduce cancer pain. Adverse effects are rare. If you are prone to bleeding, make sure acupuncture is safe for you.

· Biofeedback is instruction in how to control some of your body’s automatic responses like heart rate and using monitors. This can reduce stress, chronic pain and insomnia. There are no risks involved.

· Chiropractic Care is a manipulation of the joints and skeletal system. There is evidence it reduces back pain and headaches and is relatively safe. It can occasionally cause injury and those prone to bleeding, have weak bones, nerve damage or other health issues should check first with their doctor.

· Fitness includes classes designed for those in cancer treatment or recovering from it. Hypnosis can reduce stress, improve mood, reduce cancer pain and reduce nausea caused by chemotherapy. There are no risks

· Massage is kneading and rubbing of muscles and soft tissues that can reduce stress and anxiety and possibly cancer pain. Risks are low but those prone to bleeding, have weak bones, nerve damage or other health issues should check with their doctor.

· Meditation & guided imagery will help you to calm yourself using breathing exercises, repeating a word or imagining yourself in relaxing places. It can reduce pain, stress and anxiety. Imagery may reduce the side effects from chemotherapy and there are no risks.

· Nutritional counseling is guidance on eating a healthy diet that can make you feel better and maintain relaxation while easing pain. There are low risks but avoid extreme diets that restrict food groups.

· Reiki, Tai Chi and energy therapies realign energy in your body using movement or pressure that reduces stress and improves quality of life. Typically a low risk except for those with health conditions like arthritis and heart disease.

· Supplements and alternative medicines is the use of vitamins and alternative medicines extracted from plants. Some may ease symptoms from cancer and its treatment and others for their effect on cancer. Risks in this category greatly vary depending on the drug. Never take a supplement, herb or botanical without your doctor’s approval as some can be dangerous and cause drug interactions.

Hopefully, the above listing will help your decision making go a bit easier. If in doubt you should always consult with your physician. You can always Google the alternative methods to learn more about them.

Dr Fredda Branyon

Complementary Cancer Treatments


There are therapies to ease your symptoms of cancer or the treatment side effects that might include pain, nausea, fatigue or anxiety. You might want to consider looking beyond the tandard medicine for some alternative solutions. The complementary therapies may not always cure the disease, (but certainly might) but many of them can help you feel better and blend safely into your care. Be sure to talk with your doctor prior to initiating any of them.

Some therapies are:

Yoga.
An exercise that focuses on breathing, stretching and physical poses that is a low stress way to move and feel better. Some people taking up this exercise are less anxious, less tired and feel better overall. Talk to your teacher after getting approval from your doctor to choose the right style of class for you.

Acupuncture. By placing very thin needles into specific points on your body this therapy aims to control your symptoms. It may help your nausea and vomiting from chemo, according to studies. Look for a licensed, certified acupuncturist or get a recommendation from your doctor.

Acupressure. This is something like acupuncture, but without the use of needles. They use a special bracelet to stimulate a spot on the inside of your wrist. Again, this type of therapy can ease nausea, a common symptom of cancer and its treatments, like radiation and chemo.

Massage. A massage by a licensed therapist just plain feels good, and it can east the symptoms of pain, fatigue, anxiety, nausea and depression. This type is safe for those even in the advanced stages of the disease. Let the therapist know you have cancer so that he/she can offer some options that will best work for your condition. With radiation you should have them avoid those areas of radiation, as well as any skin are that is red or swollen.

Tai Chi. Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese martial art that focuses on slow movement, meditation and breathing. It could help you feel better overall and could reduce fatigue from cancer. The scientists believe it may boost your immune system, which is a key in fighting cancer, but more research is needed to confirm this.

Aromatherapy. Using essential oils such as peppermint and eucalyptus as home remedies has been used for centuries. Rub them on your skin, breathe them in or add a few drops to your bathwater or compress. They may help you feel less anxious and depressed along with better sleep. They might have an allergic reaction on your skin so watch out for that. If you have a tumor that is sensitive to estrogen, do not use lavender or tea tree products.

Biofeedback. This will help you relax and manage your pain. Special machines are used to monitor some of your body’s basic signals, like heart rate, blood pressure, muscle tension and breathing. Using a licensed technician will allow you to access the info to control how your body is working.

Guided imagery. This will harness the power of your mind, and you can imagine yourself in a favorite spot that is free of pain just by closing your eyes. Combine this with progressive muscle relaxation to tense and release parts of your body. People in a study found they had less pain, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, anxiety and depression.

Reflexology. This is a massage that will put pressure on specific spots on the soles of your feet that can help your symptoms. Those with breast cancer reported that it especially helped with fatigue and shortness of breath, and there is no downside to a really good foot rub!

Most people, even without the symptoms of cancer, would enjoy being pampered with one or all of these different therapies. You will most likely receive many benefits from using complementary treatments for your cancer.

Dr Fredda Branyon

Personalized Drugs

Personalized Medicine

Personalized DrugsThose who have cancer, along with their family and friends, have been searching anything that’s available to find the best possible way to beat the disease.  Things like “personalized medicine,” “precision medicine,” or “targeted drugs” are things you have likely seen. But are these things that can help you, and exactly what are they?  Precision medicine is also called pharmacogenetics and a new way of fighting cancer by taking information about you and your tumor to decide what’s driving the disease and then strives to create a plan specifically for you.

Cancer treatment has been a cookie-cutter process for years where surgery would be chosen to remove a tumor, then chemo or radiation was used to kill the cancer cells.  Blasting the cancers with chemotherapy or radiation kills the healthy cells as well and can most likely lead to a host of really nasty side effects. The researchers now have the ability to examine your cancer cells and learn the order of the genes in their DNA.  Most of the cells in the body have identical genes. Those in cancer cells have mutation or changes and this allows them to grow into tumors.

Someone else’s cancer may have different genetic changes than yours and the scientists know that genetically, one person’s breast cancer may be more similar to another person’s stomach tumor than to other breast cancers.  This makes having personalized medicine an even greater need.

More than a dozen drugs that target one of these mutations has been approved by the FDA. Imatinib (Gleevec), a drug used on chronic myelogenous leukemia, and the breast cancer drugs trastuzumab (Herceptin), are included. Doctors learn which drugs won’t work from the tumor genetics.  As an example you won’t be given two colon drugs if your cancer has a genetic mutation called KRAS, as they know they won’t work. Tumor profiling is also performed in many clinical centers where the doctor takes a look at your tumor’s genes.  If your cancer might have specific mutations, your doctor might start you on a specific drug that’s approved for your type of cancer. Otherwise, a genetic test would tell him in a certain drug might work for you. This genetic profiling can help if other treatment options haven’t worked for you.  The genetic mutation could point the medical team toward an unexpected drug like one that was originally designed for another type of cancer.

This is not a magic bullet but the personalized approach works better to shrink tumors and save lives than the traditional treatment, but is not always a cure.  Cells with different gene mutations can appear in tumors, so a targeted therapy designed to pick off cells with one mutation may work on only part of a tumor while the other cells may keep growing.

There are some trials available to test cancer treatments using people whose tumors are similar in size or location.  Only those with stage IV lung cancer might be chosen, but now that there is personalized medicine, the researchers now need ways to study how targeted treatments work on a variety of cancers.  Creating new treatments require a constant effort between doctors and scientists. After new drugs are made to combat the new gene changes, they are tested in the clinic. More drugs will become available as tumors change in new ways.  

Dr Fredda Branyon

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Americans on Psychiatric Meds

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Research is showing that American doctors are over-prescribing many of the different kinds of drugs, especially antibiotics and opioid painkillers.  Health care expenses in the U.S. have risen to $3.2 trillion annually as of 2015.  According to a government report, prescription prices combined with over-prescribing are reasons for these rising costs.  Psychiatric drugs were not included in the report however, statistics reveal a clear trend of over-prescribing these as well.  It is estimated that 1 in 6 Americans are now on anti-depressants or some type of psychiatric drug and have been on them long-term.  This is a significant increase that nearly doubled from 1 to 10 Americans in 2011.

According to Dr. Mark Olfson, a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University, the findings say that it reflects a growing reliance on prescription meds to manage common emotional problems.  Seniors, women and Caucasians appear to be the ones that use the psychiatric drugs the most.  Research shows that anti-anxiety drugs account for nearly 1/3 of the 23,000 prescription overdoses in 2013.  Several parameters show that mental health in the U.S. is declining, even while prescriptions for psychiatric drugs are increasing.  Suicide rates are at a 30-year high and prescription drug abuse and overdose deaths have become a public health emergency.

Dr. Edmund S. Higgins, a psychiatrist who has authored a number of articles and books on psychiatry has noted that better treatment alternatives are sorely needed. He makes mention about research showing that a single dose of psilocybin, known as magic mushrooms, has helped many cancer patients in two separate studies achieve immediate and long-lasting relief from anxiety and fear of death.  Wouldn’t this be a better answer for this condition than taking those anti-depressants?

These antidepressants raise your risk of suicide while offering little hope of remission for major depression.  This is like adding insult to injury, and many of these drugs have serious side effects.  It seems that treatments that are scientifically validated as being the most effective are typically being ignored.  Exercise is one of the most effect treatments for depression, and one that is increasing as a healthy lifestyle strategy.

The use of vitamins and supplements will boost effectiveness of antidepressants.  Some found to improve the impact of the medication are fish oil, vitamin D, methylfolate and S-adenosylmethionine. Some diet and lifestyle factors before resorting to a psychiatric drug might be to:

  • Eat real food and avoid all processed foods, sugar, grains and GMOs
  • Increase consumption of traditionally fermented and cultured foods
  • Get adequate vitamin B12
  • Optimize your vitamin D levels
  • Get plenty of high quality animal-based omega-3 fats
  • Use beneficial herbs and supplements as SAMe, 5-HTP and St. John’s Wort
  • Evaluate your salt intake
  • Get adequate daily exercise
  • Get enough sleep, and
  • Use energy psychology.

Given all of the information above, doesn’t it make more sense to handle depression with some of the suggestions above and alleviate the chances of side effects from these potent drugs?  This is a serious subject and is up to each person to individually take charge of his or her health.

Dr Fredda Branyon

hospital

Advance Treatment of Adult Cancer

Advance Treatment of Adult Cancer

The Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) researchers have found an epigenetic modification that might be the cause of 15% of adult cancers of the throat that are linked to alcohol and tobacco use.  The researchers are hopeful that the discovery can pave a path in the development of new, targeted and more effective treatments that could arise over the next few years.  It seemed highly improbably that the kind of alterations of the epigenome they had previously found in other types of tumors in children and young adults could also target an epithelial tumor like throat cancer that occurs only in adults, so the discovery was absolutely unexpected. Dr. Nada Jabado is a researcher at the RI-MUHC and one of the principal authors of the study that was published in Nature Genetics.

Oropharyngeal cancers, also referred to as head and neck cancers or throat cancer, often have devastating outcomes.  Radiotherapy or chemotherapy are the standard treatments as well as surgery.  The side effects of these treatments are significant and relapses are common, so oncologists are searching to develop more effective treatments that will be less harmful and have fewer deleterious effects.  The epigenetic modification discovery opens new treatment possibilities and some promising drug molecules are already on the market for other illnesses that could possibly be tested for head and neck cancers as well as other cancers like multiple myeloma and lung cancer.

Dr. Jabado is also a pediatric hemato-oncologist and has hopes that this discovery will have positive repercussions for pediatric cancers as well.  After more patients and lots of clinical trials, the medicines could then be tested on children.  Dr. Jabado focuses on epigenetics in pediatric cancers and specifically on the mutations of histone H3.  These are proteins that package the structure of our DNA and regulate the expression of our genes.  A 2015 publication by the Tumor Cancer Genome Atlas Consortium (TCGA) on head and neck cancer mentioned one of the genes that regulate H3.

The same data was used but they took a completely different approach by looking at the effect of these mutations on histone H3 proteins rather than concentrating on genetic mutations.  The discovery that the histone H3 protein was abnormal or incorrectly modified in about 15% patients with head and neck cancer was then discovered.  Public data is crucial as it allows the researchers to advance faster and go further in their analyses.  They are currently collaborating with two big groups specializing in head and neck cancer with a unified goal of finding treatments.

A large number of different types of cells such as neurons, skin cells, fat cells, immune system cells, etc. are cells that the body is composed of.  They differ, however these cells all have the same DNA or genome.  It has been recently discovered that their differences can be explained by epigenetics and is what triggers activity in each cell.

Explanations for why environmental factors like tobacco or alcohol can induce changes in the expression of our genes without actually modifying our DNA are provided through epigenetics.

Dr Fredda  Branyon

Holistic

Facts for Holistic Care

HolisticWhen you commit to holistic care you are treating the whole person through mind, body and spirit.  A combination of traditional, and what your doctor might call complementary medicine, is the definition of holistic care.  An example might be treating cancer with chemotherapy and acupuncture. Chemo and radiation are proven to fight the disease, but their side effects can be hard to live with. Using holistic treatment as well may help to ease some of these problems while improving your well-being.

Around a third of adults use a treatment outside of the mainstream medicine.  They won’t cure your cancer but they can improve your quality of life. There are also some science-backed ways to relieve side effects.

With acupuncture a trained therapist will insert very fine needles into your skin at specific points.  This may ease your pain and nausea. Receiving radiation for your head or neck cancers can cause dry mouth and mouth pain that acupuncture might help to relieve.

Mind-body techniques are shown through research that your mental state can affect your health.  Meditation, hypnosis and guided imagery are techniques that can help you relax and focus on something besides your pain.  Your medication side effects may also be eased.

Gentle movement and exercise can help to relieve the extreme tiredness and stress, which will help you to sleep better.  A regular exercise program may even help those with cancer to live longer, according to studies.

If you talk with a registered dietitian about the foods you need to prevent or treat nutrition problems, it might manage treatment side effects and help your body fight infection and more.

Holistic care is sometimes confused with alternative care.  Skipping standard treatments is risky and can cause unpleasant and sometimes serious side effects.  When avoiding or delaying mainstream medical treatments, you give the disease more time to grow. However, it seems to me that using alternative medicine prior to using any chemo treatments would be advisable, as it will build your body up first in preparation.  Remember that diets that claim to cure cancer are unproven, expensive and harmful.

Before choosing holistic treatment, be sure to check with your doctor, as he knows your condition and the medications you are taking.  Steer clear of any treatment claiming to cure cancer and if your doctor recommends this treatment. You should ask if this treatment has been proven in human studies and is it widely used, as well as the potential side effects and drug interactions.

Again, it is important to talk with your doctor about trying any holistic methods, as he needs to know what you are putting into your body.  A recommendation from your doctor for a complementary and alternative medicine practitioner might be possible.

Always have a list of questions about holistic treatments that you want to try to your doctor’s appointment to receive some safe choices for you.  Bring all the information concerning the specific treatment you want to try from a medical journal or government sponsored health websites. Get the pros and cons and check out the possible side effects.  Your doctor should be able to advise you which products and practices are based on false or unproven claims.

Dr Fredda Branyon

Oil

Fake Olive Oil?

Over the past 35 years the consumption of olive oil has increased more than 10-fold in the U.S.  It has gone from 29 metric tons (MT) in 1980 to 327 MT in 2015. Oil became more widely used with the popularity of the Mediterranean diet and made the oil a $16 billion a year industry.  It has also led to fraud and corruption.

Larry Olmsted, an investigative journalist and food critic reveals in his book, “Real Food/Fake Food,” a dark side of this normally healthy food.  Tests reveal that anywhere for 60 to 90% of the olive oils sold in American grocery stores and restaurants are adulterated with cheap, oxidized omega-6 vegetable oils.  Some of these are sunflower oil or peanut oil and non-human grade olive oils that are harmful to health in a number of ways. The extra virgin is often diluted with other less expensive oils as hazelnut, soybean, corn, sunflower, palm, sesame, grape seed and walnut.  They will not show on the label, but it will be difficult for most people to discern that their olive oil is not 100% pure.

We can no longer think the extra virgin olive oil if high quality just because it comes from Italy.  Most of what is now exported from Italy is not their best product. The mafia has infiltrated virtually all areas of the olive oil business, including harvesting, pricing, transportation and the supermarkets.  They’ve infiltrated the entire food chain from farm to fork. At least half of all the extra virgin olive oil sold in Italy is adulterated as well. 

Oil

In the U.S. the chances of getting the real McCoy is even slimmer, with as much as 90% of it being adulterated.  

Pure olive oil that’s minimally processed contains health-promoting antioxidants and phenolics, providing it hasn’t been oxidized. If it has been, it might already be on the verge of going bad. The “use by” or “sell by” date on the bottle doesn’t mean a lot, as there is no regulation assuring that the oil will remain of high quality until that date.  You really need to know the “pressed on” date or “harvest” date because olives go bad almost immediately after being picked. Those dates should be less than 6 months old when you use it.

Consider buying olive oil from countries besides Italy that also produce very fine, high quality oils.  Some countries are Australia, Chile, South Africa and even California produces some high-quality oils. Look for the stores, such as gourmet stores, where taste testing is allowed and encouraged.  Once you taste a good olive oil, you can never go back to the bad stuff.

Keep your olive oil in a cool, dark place, purchase smaller bottles to ensure freshness and immediately replace the cap after each pour.  Putting one drop of astaxanthin into the bottle will help to protect it from oxidation. You can identify defective olive oil by rancidity, fusty flavor, moldy flavor and wine or vinegar flavor. Some tips in choosing your olive oil are:

  • Harvest date-choose early or fall harvest
  • Color and flavor-an almost luminescent green color
  • Labeling terms-ensure it’s labeled “extra virgin”
  • Storage and tasting-find a seller who stores oil in a clean, temperature-controlled stainless steel container topped with an inert gas as nitrogen
  • Storage and use-keep in a cool and dark place, replace cap immediately
  • Bottles-those that protect against light
  • Quality seals-Organization like California Olive Oil Council and Australian Olive Association
  • Prolonging freshness – by adding the astaxanthin to the bottle.

Now that you know the facts between the fake and the real, just get out there and enjoy everything you cook with your “real” high-quality extra virgin olive oil!

Dr Fredda Branyon

Fiery Essential Oil

An oil that is packed with benefits that may greatly uplift your body and mind is Amyris oil.  It isn’t as valuable as sandalwood, but it offers amazing health perks that will make you want more of this herbal oil.  

The Amyris derives from the Rutaceae botanical family and known as West Indian/Indies sandalwood.  It originates from Haiti in the West Indies. The plant grows to 60 feet high and bears white flowers that turn into black-bluish fruits that are edible.  The bark of the dried tree is steam distilled to extract the essential oil. Amyris oil is often used as an alternative to East Indian sandalwood oil. Because of its high oil content, it is also known as torchwood or candlewood as it will easily ignite and can be used as a torch.  Fishermen frequently use it when catching sea crabs along the shore at night and farmers when traveling at night to take their wares to the city or village.

Amyris oil can help uplift your spirit and mind, in meditation and also in therapeutic massage.  It is also used as a base fixative in making perfumes and soaps, creams, cosmetics, incense and perfumes for additional fragrance.  You can use the herbal oil in a bath, inhaler, as a mist spray, in a steam inhalator and in a steam room or sauna.

Benefits of amyris oil are its antiseptic, sedative, decongestant and emollient properties.  It is especially helpful to calm your mind and as a muscle relaxant. It will help to minimize stress and tension and release anxiety along with improving mental clarity and present a feeling of peace.  It works great in skin regeneration and helps to slow down the aging process. The cooling property assists in relieving irritability, frustration and sexual tension. The oil is used greatly among poets, artists and musicians as it is purported to help improve creativity and imagination.

By adding a few drops of the essential oil to an oil burner or diffuser, it works great in relieving the mind from any anxiety or stress.   It can provide relaxation when added to therapeutic massage oils.

Amyris essential oil is considered safe, as it is non-toxic, non-sensitizing and non-irritating.  It may cause irritation for those people with very sensitive skin, however. This oil is not intended for oral ingestion but before using topically, you should conduct a skin patch test to be sure there are no irritations to it.  It should always be diluted with a carrier oil. There are no other side effects known other than a possible skin irritation in those who are sensitive individuals. Seek medical advice before using if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or have a terminal illness.  Otherwise, enjoy all the wonderful benefits of this fiery essential oil.

Dr Fredda Branyon