Learn more about this incredible plant with its magnitude of healing properties and scientifically proven nutritional benefits
Aloe Vera has been valued for thousands of years for its remarkable healing and regenerative properties. Archaeologists have found pictures of the plant on ancient Egyptian temple walls dating back to 4000 BC, and both queens Cleopatra and Nefertiti used it in their beauty regimes. For centuries, it has been used across Asia, Africa and the Americas; for example, the Fountain of Youth, with its legendary powers of rejuvenation, was sited amongst Aloe plants. Aloe grows extensively in hotter climates, and has earned many names as testament to its potency: wand of heaven, wonder plant, heaven's blessing, plant of life, harmonic remedy, and elixir of longevity, are just a few. There are more than two hundred varieties of Aloe, many of which can be seen in the Princess of Wales Conservatory at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Only a few have medicinal properties - Aloe Vera (Barbadensis Miller), being the most effective. It is a common household plant, even in the UK, and contrary to appearance it is not a cactus, but part of the lily family, along with onions and garlic (which is also a natural antibiotic). So, when you drink the Aloe gel, you are actually drinking a vegetable juice.
Until recently, Aloe was little heard of in Europe because it does not travel well. As soon as the leaf is cut, oxidation occurs, and the power of the healing agents it contains are greatly reduced. Anyone attempting to import the gel into the country was disappointed as the weakened Aloe failed to live up to its reputation. In 1978, Forever Living were the first to patent a stabilisation process which ensures that what you get in the bottle is essentially identical to what you get when you cut open a leaf, and so for the first time people in the West could appreciate its full potency.
What makes it so powerful?
For a start, the gel contains 75 nutrients, and over 200 active ingredients - and that's just the ones that we know about. But it is the synergy of these constituents that is most important - as all of the elements combine together, the resulting whole is greater than the sum of the individual parts.
Aloe has adaptogenic properties; that is, the body takes what it needs from the plant, benefiting the area that needs it most.
Aloe is effective in so many different areas because it works on the epithelial tissues, which form our skin, gut lining, bronchial tubes, and genital tract.
It is a rich source of vitamins, particularly A, C, and E, and one of the few plant sources of B12, which is particularly important for vegans and vegetarians. It also contains more than twenty of the minerals needed on a daily basis, such as magnesium, manganese, zinc, copper, chromium, calcium, sodium, and potassium. It contains twenty amino acids, including seven of the eight essential amino acids.
The essential fatty acids in Aloe are beneficial not only nutritionally (the only dietary sources are fish and some seeds), but also as anti-inflammatory agents. These are plant sterols, natural steroids with no detrimental side effects.
It is high is enzymes, which are vital for every function of the body to occur, and yet are destroyed even at low heat, so lacking in a usual diet where most food is cooked before it is consumed.
Aloe contains a substance called lignin, which is renowned for its penetrative abilities. Aloe is not just working on the surface of the skin, like most skin creams, but reaches right down through to the layers where it is renewed.
It contains saponins, natural cleansers that are anti-microbial, and effective in the treatment of bacteria, viruses, and yeast and fungal infections.
Aloe contains six natural antiseptics, so is effective in treating infection.
Mucopolysaccharides present in the gel are sugars that are found in every cell of our bodies.
Aloe is one of the highest natural sources of these essential building blocks, which the body manufactures only during childhood.
Aloe contains anthraquinones, which are natural painkillers.
Who are Forever Living?
Forever Living is the world's biggest Aloe vera producer, growing over 80% of the world's commercially grown Aloe vera. The company controls the process exclusively from growing the plants right through to the retailing, so they can ensure the highest quality at every stage. The plants are grown in the USA, and harvested by hand. Within hours of harvesting, they are stabilized using a unique process patented by the company, thus oxidation is prevented, and the Aloe will keep for several years in sealed containers. The products are not sold in high street stores, but only through direct marketing, because with a product of such high quality, you need service to match, and this is best achieved by selling it on a more personal basis.
In 1997, Forever Living was the only brand of Aloe sold in this country that met with the IASC standards (the International Aloe Science Council); since then, the market has boomed, and there are now many Aloe products on the wholefood store shelves. It is essential when purchasing Aloe that you get top quality, or it will not be effective. Although Aloe is probably the most popular ingredient in toiletries, according to research done in 1994, most brands contain less than 2% aloe (at least 25% is needed for the product to have any real benefits). In all of Forever Living's Aloe range, 100% stabilised Aloe vera gel is the principal ingredient. Unfortunately, much of the labelling on Aloe vera sold in this country is misleading. If it says 100% Aloe vera gel on the bottle, this just means that the Aloe itself is 100% pure - the bottle can still contain 95% water! The Aloe industry is almost entirely unregulated, and even the IASC seal of approval is only a guarantee on the Aloe content, not on the end product. Forever Living test the quality of the gel every day to make sure it is up to standard, carry Kosher and Islamic marks of approval, and none of the products are tested on animals. What's more, every product sold by Forever Living comes with a 60 day money back guarantee. If, at the end of that period, you are not satisfied with the results, you can have a full refund. We have tried every brand of Aloe vera gel on the market and are convinced this brand is by far and away the best!
Recommended dosage: start off with one tablespoon a day, either first thing in the morning or last thing at night. If you don't like the taste you can mix it with fruit juice. You may experience a healing crisis, such as a skin flare-up or an unsettled gut. Once your system has adjusted, up the amount to a level you feel comfortable with. Two to four tablespoons a day is the suggested maintenance dose. You cannot overdose on our aloe vera; cancer patients and Aids sufferers have been known to benefit from 8-16 oz doses daily.
Seagreens Culinary Ingredient is a raw organic sea vegetable condiment, that is probably the most nutritious sea vegetable we know of. Kate uses it in many of her recipes, and we also use it as an ingredient in our Out of the Woods green powder blend. Check this handy fact sheet to discover why Seagreens is so incredibly beneficial.
These pretty little green crunchies are made of 100% raw spirulina and are 100% delicious. Many people find straight spirulina a bit of an acquired taste but even those eating a mainstream diet find these crunchies tasty. It’s a bit of mystery; what do they do to the spirulina to make it taste good? I gather that it’s some sort of natural alchemy involving sun-drying strands of spirulina paste, but however they do it, I love the results. I sprinkle these crunchies on practically everything to add sparkles of savoury tastiness to my food, similar to the way the Italians use parmesan cheese. This photo shows them adding extra flavour to red pepper and walnut pate on a light and crispy Lebanese Cauliflower Cracker from Kate's brilliant recipe book Raw Living.
Have you noticed how super-nutrition at its most digestible is often in liquid form? I have begun to take more of my food as liquids. I’m aware both from what I have learned and from first-hand experience that in the transition of moving to a higher raw diet, people can find raw foods more difficult to digest. A lifetime of eating conventional processed and cooked food can leave the digestive system stressed and weak so raw foods, with all their fibre intact, can be hard work initially if you go full-on. Also recent research shows that blended foods like soup keep us feeling full for longer than the same meal eaten as unblended solid food so liquid food could be helpful in controlling weight.
Long term raw fooders report that digestive strength improves over time. I look forward to that, but meanwhile, I am focusing more on liquid nutrition. I want my food to work really hard for me, giving as much benefit as possible for as little effort as possible. I want food that cleanses, heals and nourishes me, all at the same time if possible. I want liquids that love me and lift me and give me everything I need to thrive.
I am finding to my great pleasure that far from being boring, there aren’t enough hours in the day to drink all of my favourite stuff. My menu has to cycle over several days because of the variety of good things available. If it was possible to have a day where I could somehow fit it all in, that day might look like this;
For example, first thing in the morning I always have a litre of lukewarm spring water with the juice of a lemon, a teaspoon of sole*, a tablespoon of MSM and a good dose of ionic minerals like Ultratrace. A litre might sound a lot but it goes down easily because it’s slightly warm. The salt in the sole takes the edge off the tartness of the lemon nicely. The lemon helps cleanse the liver, as does the MSM. In fact the MSM does a whole lot more. The list is too long to mention here but the benefit I particularly value is that it’s a methyl group donor so it helps detox the body and clean up bad oestrogens. If I had unlimited funds I would also add Crystal Energy and MegaHydrate.
*Sole (‘solay’) is a saturated solution of Himalayan pink salt that tops up the body’s electrolytes and is made simply by adding coarse pink salt crystals to good water until no more will dissolve. A saturated salt solution is 26% salt so I add around one part salt to two parts water and leave it, giving it an occasional stir. If after 24 hours there are still undissolved crystals, I know no more will dissolve and it’s ready to use.
Next is a green juice, usually cucumber, celery and spinach with a squirt of marine phytoplankton. A nice combination is spinach, celery and pear (tastes like milk, yummy). Also there’s kale, celery and cucumber if I’m being saintly or kale, celery and apple with a squeeze of lime if I’m not. The lime and apple means you can hardly taste the kale, the result is almost like green limeade. Green juice is a drink with a list of benefits too long to detail here. Suffice to say, it is alkalizing and nourishing and very digestible – very handy way to get your green into you especially if your teeth are as dodgy as mine are.
When my stomach is empty again, I have my first half-litre mug of tea, a powerful tonic tea like gynostemma or a good herb tea blend.
For lunch I might have my absolutely favourite thing, a raw chocolate (or carob) and chia smoothie. I love this not just because it’s delicious and filling but because I can stuff lots of my favourite superfoods into it. Smoothies contain fibre which makes them more complete as a meal while still being easily digested. My ‘chock full’ smoothie has soluble fibre from the chia seeds. Soluble fibre is important for many reasons, not least because it’s the only kind of fibre that will transport waste from the liver (in the form of bile salts) through the intestines to the exit. If there's no soluble fibre and the bile salts are left in the intestine, they get re-absorbed into the blood stream and the liver has to deal with them all over again. Other sources of soluble fibre include seaweed especially irish moss, aloe vera gel, flax seeds, oats, apples and any fruit containing pectin. The smoothie recipe is;
- Milly’s Smoothie
- 2 T of chia seeds soaked in 1 cup water
- 1 T cacao powder
- 1 T carob powder (or just 2 T carob if chocolate is too stimulating)
- 1 T lucuma or mesquite
- 1 t sunflower lecithin (optional)
- 1 T protein powder (Morning Jing, hemp powder etc)
- 1-2 T coconut butter
- 1 T cashew or macadamia nuts or 2 T hulled hemp seeds
- 8-10 drops stevia extract or 1T raw honey/coconut nectar or other sweetener
- pinch pink salt (about 1/8 t)
- if using stevia, add a date or a little non-stevia sweetener to round out taste
- 1 T maca
Put everything except the maca into the blender. Add a little water (or leftover cool tea), no more than half a cup, and blend until smooth. Add up to 1T of maca, and little more water and blend again. With the maca you can add all sorts of extra goodies. I add kelp, tocotrienols (makes it extra creamy) and moringa, TMG, barleygrass powder. It’s a good smoothie for adding all the stuff that doesn’t taste nice on its own because the chocolate hides nasty tastes, some days in goes the shilajit and the mucuna as well.
Another good lunch smoothie is the green smoothie. I’ve tried some hideous-tasting combinations but the best one I’ve found is avocado, peeled lemon, spinach, spirulina, garlic, chilli and salt. This is based on a recipe by Elwin Robinson of Lion Heart Herbs. I have Victoria Boutenko’s book on green smoothies and would recommend it to anyone, though I personally would get into trouble with the fruity ones, too much sugar.
Once my smoothie has digested, I will drink water and/or more tea in the afternoon. I love gynostemma tea, but will also drink nettle and horsetail for the silica, or blends of tonic herbs like the Three Immortals blend. Apparently the 3 Immortals blend tastes coffee-like and is good for those who miss coffee.
If I need a snack in the afternoon I might have spirulina mylk. Remember this is a hypothetical day to show you all the options. I wouldn’t have all this in one day in reality. A small glass of nut and seed mylk makes a good snack. I make different kinds but at the moment my favourite is a rich brazil nut and pumpkin seed mylk with a teaspoon of spirulina and a quarter teaspoon of honey added. This mylk looks an unearthly but pretty shade of pale greeny blue and tastes lovely. I imagine children might like this one, especially if it came with a raw cookie or brownie though I haven't road-tested it on an actual child - if somebody's child does try it, let me know how it went!
By tea-time I generally do want something to get my teeth into but still with a liquid element. I love raw dishes that consist of pieces of vegetable in a tasty sauce or soup and something crunchy sprinkled over. One of my favourite recipes for winter is by Kate’s son Reuben, Garlick Soup (published on the Bubble). This is a garlicky curry flavoured soup with pieces of broccoli and beetroot in. Any vegetable with just about any raw soup or sauce you fancy is worth a try to see what works together. I do a simple blended sauce made of red pepper, sundried tomato and hemp butter (which has a wonderfully savoury taste) with a little tamari, olive oil and apple cider vinegar, lovely with any kind of seaweed like kelp noodles or sea spaghetti. It is always good on a spiralized combination of raw beetroot and celeriac, or my holy trinity (sauerkraut, seaweed and avocado) with cherry tomatoes. As an aside - those three are my favourite trinity of foods not just because they taste wonderful together but because raw sauerkraut gives me a massive probiotic boost, seaweed provides minerals, vital polysaccharides and soluble fibre and avocado is a fatty fruit (as are olives and durian, rare and precious!) On this dish, it's a treat to have crunchy sprinkles on top too – either Sunseeds, or spirulina crunchies which are heaven, or even the kale chip crumbs left behind when the bite sized pieces are all eaten.
While relaxing in the evening, more tonic tea is always a good idea because it helps me relax but also I might have a cold refreshing glass of kombucha or water kefir instead of a glass of wine. Both of these are fermented drinks full of probiotics and enzymes that help cleanse the colon and boost the good bacteria in it. For everything you need to know about fermented foods and their wonderful health benefits, see Sandor Katz's book on Wild Fermentation.
In the evening in cold weather, I’ll get some jing-restoring tonic herbs like schizandra, reishi and chaga into me, either as a tea or a tonic elixir. An elixir is a form of liquid nutrition advocated by David Wolfe, Truth Calkins and Daniel Vitalis. They take tonic tea, add a load of superherbs (especially the medicinal mushrooms like the three I just mentioned), some form of fat (eg coconut butter, cashew nuts or milk thistle seed mylk) and a natural sweetener and blend that up. An example is one that tastes like a malted milk drink. Into the blender you put a teaspoon each of reishi, chaga, astragalus, ho shou wu and maca. You also add a dollop of coconut oil, a tbsp of non-gm lecithin and whatever sweetener you prefer and then blend this up in half a litre of warm gynostemma tea. The result tastes like Horlicks Malted Milk, and is intensely healing, soothing and nutritious. Then you go to bed and sleep blissfully, knowing you have done your best to give your body the best nutrients in the most easily digested form. But make sure you go to the bathroom first…
A good healthy raw breakfast that is sustaining and quick to prepare is easier to achieve with some of the lovely new products on offer now. One of them is Morning Jing, a super-healthy protein food containing special extras to boost your jing. I am all about the jing at the moment, so this breakfast makes me very happy, it makes my tastebuds happy and makes my stomach happy too as I find it easy to digest and sustaining without being heavy. But you may be wondering, what’s jing, and how can you use this protein powder?
Jing is the Taoist name for reserve energy, that adaptive/adrenal energy that we need to survive stresses of all kinds. If your jing is low, you’re going to feel cream crackered all the time no matter how much high-energy healthy food you eat. Loss of jing can be difficult to reverse but the great Taoist tonic herbs are good for this. Morning Jing contains ho sho wou, maca and bee pollen so it’s great for sustained energy. It has a mildly sweet, nutty flavour and in this recipe it’s partnered up with chia seeds which are also tremendous for sustained energy. My thanks go to Chris Wood of Raw Living for the recipe suggestion.
2 T chia seeds
1 cup of nut or seed mylk*
1 T Morning Jing powder
½ T maca
1 pear or apple, sliced
sweetener (such as raw honey, coconut nectar etc) to taste
1 T coconut oil (optional)
1 T flax meal
Put the chia into your breakfast bowl and add the nut mylk, giving it a good stir until the seeds are all submerged and there are no clumps. Leave for 20 minutes while you go off and have your shower. When the seeds are soaked and have become gel-like, you can stir in the other ingredients, except the flax which is best sprinkled on top. Add extra mylk if you prefer it less thick. You could use different fruit: berries of any kind, dried fruit or banana are good in this. Unless you have tin ribs you might want to avoid sprinkling nuts because nuts and fruit tend to argue with each other in all but the strongest digestive systems.
*for nut mylk eg almond, soak 1/4 cup almonds overnight, rinse, blend with 3 or 4 cups water, strain through nut mylk bag.
Another recommendation I can make for a good breakfast is Raw Living Be Real, a raw cereal based on crunchy, delicious ‘buckwheaties’ with lots of goodies added to make it a real treat. You can eat it like normal breakfast cereal or sprinkle it on raw muesli, or even sprinkle it on a chia-based breakfast as in the recipe above. But for a truly belly-filling, obscenely tasty breakfast dish, try the ‘Be Real-ly Outrageous’ recipe in my other blog article this month.
Valentine’s day is a wonderful excuse, if any were needed, to have a decadent feast of the greatest superfood on the planet – chocolate! Let’s start with breakfast; how would you fancy a crunchy, chewy and delicious granola cereal smothered in a rich, thick, silky and extremely chocolatey smoothie and topped with super-sprinkles? It’s a heavenly way to start the most romantic day of the year.
This breakfast idea uses Raw Living ‘Be Real’ cereal which is based on crunchy buckwheaties with various good things added, depending on which variety you choose. I’ve tried both Be Happy (goji) and Be Good (the chocolate and mulberry version). Both are delicious eaten simply with nut mylk of course, but this recipe would a great Valentine’s breakfast treat. I also eat it sometimes when I want to feel full up to my eyes without feeling overstuffed, then not feel hungry for hours and hours. You can get everything you need for this recipe at Raw Living.
Be Real-ly Outrageous
1-2 servings of Be-Real
1 recipe of Choc-Full Smoothie:
- 2 T of chia seeds soaked in 1 cup water
- 1 T cacao powder
- 1 T carob powder
- 1 T lucuma
- 1 T non-gm soy lecithin
- 1-2 T coconut butter, no need to melt
- 1 T cashew or macadamia nuts
- 1 T tocotrienols (optional but makes it extra creamy)
- 1-2 T raw honey/coconut nectar or other sweetener
- pinch pink salt (only about 1/8 t but vital!)
- 1 T maca (to be added after initial blending)
- 1 T bee pollen
- Other sprinkles if desired eg cacao nibs, goji berries, chopped raw chocolate bar
To a high speed blender, add all of the choc-full ingredients, except the maca. If you don’t have a high speed blender, omit the cashew or macadamia nuts, and maybe use coconut milk instead to get the creaminess. Add a little water and blend until smooth. Add the maca and some more water (you’ll need about ¾ cup altogether but don’t use too much or the smoothie will be too runny) and blend again for 20 seconds. Taste to check sweetening level. Put your Be Real into one large or two smaller breakfast bowls and pour over the chocolate mixture. Sprinkle with bee pollen and any other delicious things you have on hand, and spoon-feed to your beloved.
For a Valentine gift, one of Sacred Chocolate’s heart-shaped raw chocolate bars would be a delight. If you have a girlfriend who loves chocolate but hates what it does to her thighs, this gift will get you big brownie points. Raw chocolate has none of the hip-and-thigh plumping hazards of conventional chocolate because it doesn’t contain dairy products, refined sugar and hydrogenated fats. It DOES have all of the taste and melt-in-the-mouth qualities we love about chocolate because it IS chocolate – it’s the real thing, just without the junk. Sacred Chocolate has all the taste and meltiness big-time, and is wrapped in pretty foil and love. The kind I tried, ‘India Sunset’ contains cardamom, curry and saffron, unusual flavourings for chocolate but I love it. I couldn’t taste the curry, but the flowery scent of cardamom comes through and the other flavourings give this bar of really top-quality chocolate a hint of complex, exotic flavour. Love it, love it, love it.
Another chocolate treat not to be missed on Valentine’s or any other time, includes Raw Living Chocolate Dream Cream. This is a raw chocolate spread containing amazing superfoods like ashwagandha, reishi, he sho wou and gingko. Its deep chocolate taste carries a hint of licorice and it isn’t cloyingly sweet. It can be spread on bread, fruit, cookies or (as it says on the label) ‘a good friend.’ Come on, it is Valentine’s, after all. In the photograph you can see I’ve plastered a healthy dollop onto raw oatmeal raisin cookies. Dream Cream is rich, so putting this amount on a cookie makes quite a filling snack. In raw food preparation, so many things have to be prepared fresh from scratch or thought about hours in advance for soaking that it feels like real luxury to have a jar of chocolate spread that I can just grab and smear onto whatever comes to hand for instant gratification. Happy Valentine’s Day!
Kombucha is a culture that ‘digests’ complex sugars and produces a drink full of live enzymes, probiotics and nutrients. When I looked at recipes for making it, I quickly decided not to try because it seems complicated and far too much trouble for someone of leisurely inclination. But since the nice people at Go! Kombucha have already done the hard work for me, I had a taste and…zing! It has a refreshing tongue-tingling tanginess, reminiscent of cider with a slightly vinegary bite. But unlike cider, it has some very cool benefits.
Kombucha is nice to sip in the evening as a healthier alternative to a glass of wine, and I imagine it would be lovely on a summer’s day. It is described as ‘effervescent’ but don’t expect it to come foaming out of the bottle like cola, it’s much more subtle. Very similar to kefir in both its taste and its benefits – although sugar is used in the making, it is safe for candida sufferers and those of a sensitive disposition sugar-wise. In fact it’s apparently a good anti-candida drink. It provides a useful probiotic and enzyme boost, has vitamins and minerals in it (and anyway is more fun than taking a pill). Tastes even better with a bit of fresh ginger grated into it, and also yummers with a squirt and/or a slice of fresh lime. For a tall drink, I’d dilute it with sparkling spring water because you don’t need much - a serving should be about the same as a glass of wine. We’re told it’s unwise to overdo it when you’re not used to it, presumably because there’d be an uncomfortably thorough cleaning-out effect. So like wine, one bottle should get you six glasses.
One really excellent benefit that I haven’t seen written up in the product info is kombucha’s ability to kill 99% of sweet cravings dead. If sweeties are your downfall, I highly recommend it. I heard Truth Calkins talking about drinking a couple of tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in a little water to kill sweet cravings, and wondered if kombucha would do the same thing. Well, I can report that it does, very effectively. Which means I might be able to stick to my New Year raw chocolate rationing pledge after all.
Recently I was in West London for a couple of weeks, and I couldn’t take any of my raw staples with me. I decided to have faith that I would find what I needed and lo, it turned out that Planet Organic was just round the corner from where I was staying. I knew Planet Organic have begun stocking Raw Living products so I wasted no time in exploring the store. And there it was, a whole section of shiny packets with the familiar purple labels, and quite a few other branded goodies too. It was like bumping into old friends in a foreign country. Actually it was more exciting than that, I felt like Dorothy in a sort of raw food Oz – chia and cacao and maca, oh my!
Everything in the shop is well presented, fresh and appealing, I felt virtuous and lovingly catered for just walking through the door. First thing you see is the display of fresh organic produce and freshly baked bread. Then there is a chill case displaying things like raw desserts including slices of raw chocolate tart called Chocolate Blackout. I just had to test that out (well, it was my birthday and yes it was wonderful.) There was raw hummus and other spreads too. There's a counter where they serve fresh juices, smoothies and food, both hot food and salads. Then of course is the raw section with Raw Living granola and superfood powders, plus a whole lot of other raw staples. There is a boggling selection of raw chocolate bars and goodies, including Raw Living chocolate crispy cakes and most of the Raw Living chocolate bars. Planet Organic have their priorities right.
I spoke to Matt, the manager at the Westbourne Grove store. He said they began on the raw trail about 18 months ago but in response to demand, they now stock a much wider range of products. He expects the raw section will not only be a permanent fixture, but that they will expand the range even further. Matt did also say that he often gets people asking about raw foods, they want to know more about it and what benefits they can expect from raw, so education is definitely on the cards, too.
The raw goodies extend beyond just one section, if you have a good look around. On other shelves I found raw crackers, good coconut butter and nut/seed butters, and oh joyous! - big jars of raw Biona sauerkraut. There was an impressive range of green powders like barley grass and sprirulina, and green superfood blends.
Beyond my immediate pleasure at being able to easily get hold of good raw supplies while away from home, I find it uplifting to see them on offer in a High Street health food store like this. It shows that the raw movement is gaining momentum and demand for it increases with each year that passes. There will come a time in the foreseeable future when we will no longer be seen as a bunch of nutballs by mainstream eaters, but will be catered for in the same way vegetarians are now. Eventually, maybe we WILL be the mainstream, with a minority of dinosaurs clinging to their cooked habits. Imagine if you had to wear a hoodie for a furtive visit to McDonalds because it was considered so sleazy and self-destructive to eat stuff like that. I’m reminded of the Pot Noodle tv ad, a tongue-in-cheek thing that put eating Pot Noodle on the same level as pornography. But I can imagine a time when ‘eatin’ nasty’ is viewed for real by the majority as being akin to drinking and driving, illegal drugs or smoking. Okay, maybe I’m getting ahead of myself, but I can dream.
Does everyone with candida issues find their symptoms worse at this time of year, or is it just me? I don’t know if it’s because mushrooms thrive when conditions get damp, and that applies to internal fungus as well as the external specimens you can find in the woods about now. Or is it because it’s the autumn equinox and I always feel icky at the equinoxes? At least these days I do have better information about how to keep the beastly yeast at bay.
There’s the basic stuff about candida we all know (those of us with the problem anyway) about not eating sugary stuff and getting the probiotics in etc. We know that antibiotics, birth control pills and steroids make it worse. I won’t reiterate the basic stuff about candida overgrowth here as there’s plenty of material on various good websites on the subject. But there are a few little nuggets I’ve learned more recently about controlling candida that I’d like to share, just in case others have missed them too.
Candida can be tough to get rid of once it becomes systemic, i.e. embedded in the intestinal wall and even in organs and tissue deeper in the body. If you have systemic candidiasis, it will take several months of sustained effort before you will win the battle because the whole of the intestinal wall has to have time to renew with clean tissue. We know we can starve the candida out by eliminating sweets, carbs and alcohol; kill it with antifungal supplements and both kill and crowd it out with probiotics.
There are other things we can do in addition to all that, using some of the herbs and supplements that have become available more recently. Many of these are available at Raw Living, and I shall mention those in bold. For instance, you can help your own immune system to overcome candida with immune-building supplements. The most potent of these, perhaps surprisingly, is reishi mushroom. All of the noble mushrooms are good for this against candida, including chaga, cordyceps, maitake, shiitake, lion’s mane, agaricus blazei, trametes versicolor etc, but reishi is the king of anti-candida supplements. A good product to try if you want to cover all the bases is STR-12 but any of the reishi products will be very potent too. The reishi thing seemed counter-intuitive to me when I first learned about it as I was always told to avoid eating anything with mushrooms in it because they’re supposed to encourage candida growth. But in fact the noble mushrooms should be the first mode of attack according to David Wolfe. He also says we need to take big doses. These medicinal mushrooms cannot do us any harm so you can’t overdose though you may get some detox discomfort initially if you dive straight into a high dose regime. David Wolfe’s philosophy, rather than the allopathic conventional medic’s idea of ‘take two and call me in the morning’, is ‘take 2,000 and email me next month!’
The next effective treatment that can seem counter-intuitive is to do a series of colonics. Some people, who may have spent months on end improving their internal garden of flora with a long course of probiotics feel reluctant to have colonic treatment because they worry, quite reasonably, that it will wash away the good bacteria they’ve worked so hard to build up. In fact, a colonic will only temporarily wash away some of the good bacteria and since we lose quite a lot with every bowel movement anyway, it’s not really a problem. The reason a series of colonics is beneficial is that candida thrives on all the muck and mayhem in our gut while the good bacteria prefer a clean environment. So colonics will tip the balance in favour of the good bacteria by providing the right environment for them while the candida will have less putrefaction to hide out in. By a colonic, I include enemas as well as professional colonics so grab an enema bag and do yourself a favour!
While we’re talking about brilliant supplements that have only recently become available, I once again have to trumpet the angelical, magical properties of Adya Clarity. This stuff has a very powerful capacity to kill candida and for some people will eradicate the problem completely. For more on Adya, see the two other RL blog articles on it, my own and another by Polly Noble. While Adya hasn’t eradicated candida altogether for me, there is a good reason for that which I’ll come to in a minute and I do find it keeps it under control even when I’m naughty and eat honey or dried figs.
The next items that may not be obvious anti-candida allies are the fermented foods – sauerkraut, kim-chi, kefir and kombucha for example. I used to think these would be bad for me. The word ‘fermented’ rang alarm bells and I avoided them. Now I know that such foods are potent probiotics, and that I can get more billions of living probiotic organisms into me this way than I can get from any of the probiotic pills and powders. I still use the pills and powders – I want it all! – but I have noticed a positive difference in my health since beginning on the fermented foods. I especially notice that my bowels seem to work better and I have less gas. I absolutely love sauerkraut and eat it almost daily but I confess I am not yet 100% sure about the kefir yet. I’ve been brewing water kefir and drinking a small glass each evening. It tastes wonderful, a bit like cider, but I can’t get my head around how it can be an anti-candida substance. I know it contains a (small) amount of sugar and although I’ve been using coconut sugar crystals which are fairly low-glycaemic, it still worries me. Plus I know kefir contains alcohol. It’s a tiny amount (about 0.7% apparently) but it’s enough for me to feel it, I do get a bit of a rush. Since alcohol is rocket fuel for candida, I find the idea so contrary to what I know about candida control, that drinking kefir does blow my fuses a bit. As I mentioned at the beginning, I am having a slight candida flare-up at the mo, but this may be due to causes other than the kefir so I will persevere and see what happens. I’d be interested to know what other people’s thoughts are on this one.
Earlier I said that I believe I know why I’ve not yet completely eliminated candida from my system, despite all of these powerful weapons. In my case, I think it’s because I still have two mercury amalgam fillings in my mouth, and I don’t think I’ll ever entirely get rid of the candida while they are there. The reason I still have them is partly budgetary reasons and partly that my system hasn’t been strong enough to withstand removal. Mercury amalgam removal is a big deal and is potentially dangerous if not done correctly or if done when your immune system is weakened. I know where I want to go to have it done so I’ve been saving my pennies and trying to build up my immune strength. Then I’ll be ready with the Adya, the zeolites and the colonics for after the procedure. Interestingly, I’ve read some conflicting facts about candida and mercury. One is that candida converts mercury to its most poisonous form, methyl mercury. As if mercury wasn’t poisonous enough, candida actually makes it worse. The other thing I read is that candida has one good quality in that it buffers the body against some of mercury’s most poisonous effects and so the body in its wisdom, hangs on to candida while mercury is present, because it helps deal with the toxicity. An interesting thought. I wonder which is true, or if it’s possible both things could be true at the same time?
Finally I feel it worth mentioning a few things which, while they are neither counter-intuitive nor new, they are things I find really helpful in the battle against the beastly yeast, things I’d hate to do without. One of these is pau d’arco tea which is the best tasting of the medicinal teas in my opinion. I was fascinated to hear that when a pau d’arco tree dies and falls in the South American jungle, it doesn’t rot. It’s so resistant to fungus and bacteria that it just sits there, not rotting. Anyway. Another thing is coconut butter, which is of course not only the most delicious substance ever but is anti-fungal too. As an aside, I never worry about putting on weight eating coconut either, because I gather the fat consists of medium-chain triglycerides which the body can’t store as fat. Moving on, colloidal silver is great because you can use it internally and externally. Last but by no means least is the Terminator zapper, which gets top marks for killing all kinds of parasites including candida.
Good luck with your own efforts to keep the candida in check, and may you have a very happy, fungus-free autumn.
Here's a great article on chia which recently appeared in a Triathlon magazine. Chia is one of the best foods for athletes who want to improve their energy levels. We also recommend maca and MSM for those doing lots of physical exercise or manual labour.
Click on the link below to see a scan of the article.