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Tuesday, 26 April 2011

2 natural remedies you need

Over the past century, Americans have embraced modern pharmaceutical science and the lifesaving medicines it has produced. In the process, we've relegated to folklore the cures our grandparents relied on. 
Research proves: Capsaicin, the ingredient that gives cayenne its heat, is best known today for pain relief — easing muscle aches, postoperative discomfort, and arthritis. Tradition says: Columbus is credited with transporting cayenne peppers — also called chiles, after their Aztec name, chil — from the New World to the Old. As it turns out, that trove is rich with effective remedies. In fact, even modern medicine relies on plants more than many of us realize, says Catherine Ulbricht, PharmD, senior attending pharmacist at Massachusetts General Hospital and chief editor of publications for the Natural Standard Research Collaboration, which evaluates scientific data on herbs. 

- Onion: A dose of prevention 

Tradition says: Onions are considered cure-alls in many cultures. In Middle Eastern traditional medicine, they were prescribed for diabetes. During the early 20th century in the United States, William Boericke, MD, recommended onions for respiratory and digestive problems in his influential medical treatise, Homeopathic Materia Medica. Believing that onions would help improve athletic performance, ancient Greek Olympians scarfed them down, drank their juice, and rubbed them on their bodies before competitions. Research proves: A stack of new studies has confirmed many old-time uses of onions. Their thiosulfinates (sulfur compounds responsible for their smell) reduce diabetes symptoms and protect against cardiovascular disease. 
Quercetin, a flavonoid found in onions, prevents the inflammation associated with allergies and also protects against stomach ulcers and colon, esophageal, and breast cancers. 
And it looks like the ancient Olympians had it right: A 2009 study in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism found that quercetin extract increased endurance — making onions a perfectly legal performance-enhancing substance. 
Get the benefit: Onions may keep the doctor away even better than apples do. Your body absorbs quercetin from onions at least 3 times faster than it does from apples (or from tea, another top source), says a report for the Federation of European Biochemical Societies. 
To get the most thiosulfinates, choose red or yellow onions. ""The more colorful, the better,"" says Michael Havey, PhD, a USDA geneticist and University of Wisconsin professor of horticulture. 
Heat diminishes the thiosulfinates, so eat onions raw or lightly cooked, Havey adds. ""Because of differences among types of onions and preparation methods, it's impossible to say how much to eat,"" he says. ""Make them a regular part of a vegetable-and fruit-filled diet."" 

- Cayenne (red pepper): Pain fighter 

Consumed in the Americas for some 7,000 years, the fiery-flavored pods reminded the explorer of black pepper, a highly prized — and pricey — spice in Europe at the time. 
The easy-to-grow chile quickly assumed a central role in traditional cookery and remedies worldwide; folk medicine practitioners used it for everything from pain relief to aphrodisiacs. 
Studies show that it tamps down chemical messengers that transmit pain messages in the brain. 
The latest research indicates that the sizzling spice may also assist in weight control. A 2009 paper in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports that capsaicin-related compounds helped people lose abdominal fat. 
Cayenne also appears to control blood sugar. Study participants who ate a lunch containing capsaicin had higher blood levels of a sugar-regulating hormone and less ghrelin, the ""hunger hormone,"" than those who ate a bland meal, reported the European Journal of Nutrition last year. Get the benefit: For pain relief, follow package instructions on OTC capsaicin ointments and creams, including Zostrix or Capzasin-HP Arthritis Pain Relief, available in drugstoresor online. 
No dose has been established for weight control; however, cayenne peppers are on the FDA's Generally Recognized as Safe list, so you can add fresh chiles to taste in your favorite dishes (or, more conveniently, powdered cayenne, available in supermarkets). 
Chop finely, then cook them in soups and stews or add them uncooked to salad dressings. 


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