Cistus: A Natural Antibiotic, Antiviral, and Biofilm Buster

Herbs and Helpers

Cistus is a genus of beautiful flowering plants that are native to Mediterranean regions of Southern Europe and North Africa. Commonly referred to as Rockroses, flowers in the Cistus genus bloom in lovely colors ranging from pure white to bright pink. Just looking at one of these plants, one would not suspect that it possesses very powerful medicinal properties. In traditional herbal medicine, the leaves of Cistus have been used in the treatment of skin and inflammatory diseases (Hudson, 2009). Recent scientific research has confirmed the validity of this traditional herbal knowledge through studies that have demonstrated that Cistus leaf extractives have powerful antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, and biofilm-breaking qualities (Rebensburg et al, 2015). The many beneficial properties of Cistus have made it a staple in my own treatment protocol for Lyme disease and Lyme co-infections. Read on to find out why I am such a huge fan of this beautiful little plant!

Antibacterial and Antifungal Qualities of Cistus

Plants in the Cistus genus exert a number of powerful antibacterial and antifungal properties against pathogens that can cause serious human health problems. Cistus incanus (one particular species of Cistus) has demonstrated antibacterial effects against Streptococcus mucans, a gram-positive bacterium found in the mouth that can contribute to tooth decay (Wittpahl, 2015). Cistus villosus and Cistus monspeliensis, two species native to Morocco, have been shown to be antibacterial against Staphylococcus aureus, which is the bacterium responsible for causing Staph infections. Antibiotic-resistant Staph infections are on the rise, so natural antibacterial substances that can address this type of infection are highly valuable!

C. villosus and C. monspeliensis also exert activity against the fungal microorganisms Candida albicans, Candida krusei, Candida glabrata, and Aspergillus fumigatus. Candida overgrowth can wreak havoc on the digestive tract, and Aspergillus infections are toxic to the immune system and the respiratory system (Sharma, 1993). The fact that Cistus can address both of these types of fungi is great news for those of us who are struggling with fungal illnesses, including toxic mold exposure. These antifungal properties could make Cistus an important part of healing protocols for people with mold-induced illness.

I personally have struggled with a mold-related illness after living in an apartment that had a water leak and subsequent mold problem. Aspergillus is often one of the most common organisms that grows in toxic mold situations. I have been taking a tincture of Cistus every day, and it has helped me get my symptoms under control.

Antiviral Qualities of Cistus Incanus

Cistus also has strong antiviral properties. It prevents viral infection by targeting viral envelope proteins. Viral envelope proteins are proteins embedded in the capsule of a virus, which is the shell-like layer that encapsulates the viral DNA or RNA. The viral DNA and RNA are the genetic material that a virus uses to replicate once it is in a host cell. Viral envelope proteins are what enable viruses to attach to and enter host cells, and then proceed to replicate their DNA and RNA. Viruses cannot reproduce independently; they must have access to a host cell in order to reproduce and create more viruses (Lodish, 2000). When a virus gains access to a host cell and begins to replicate, this interferes with normal host cell processes; this is in part what leads to the symptoms of viral illnesses.

The tactics of viruses are quite sneaky, but the good news is that Cistus incanus has been found to inhibit the action of viral envelope proteins in a number of different types of viruses, preventing this entire process from occurring!

Cistus has demonstrated an ability to prevent both the Ebola virus and HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) from attaching to host cells! In long-term (24 week) animal studies, no resistant HIV viruses were found against Cistus. In addition, it is believed that the multiple antiviral components in Cistus are what make it effective against Ebola, which has previously defied pharmaceutical treatment strategies. This has huge implications for the treatment of these very serious diseases, as HIV has become resistant to a number of current pharmaceutical antiviral treatments and there are currently no approved antiviral therapies for addressing the Ebola virus (Rebensburg et al, 2015). These are serious issues, but it is reassuring to think that a substance such as Cistus could fill in this much-needed gap in treatment!

In addition to targeting viral envelope proteins against HIV and Ebola, Cistus also has demonstrated antiviral activity against the Influenza A virus. Influenza A is a dangerous virus because it has the ability to mutate quite rapidly and evade pharmaceutical treatments. Cistus is successful at treating Influenza A because it not only targets the virus itself, but also helps reduce the symptoms of the viral infection by dampening the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, immune system molecules released due to viral provocation that cause bodily inflammation (Hudson, 2009).

Finally, Cistus may be a great treatment option for viruses that affect the upper respiratory tract, such as rhinoviruses. Cistus has been found to decrease both symptoms and inflammatory biomarkers related to upper respiratory tract infections in human subjects (Kalus, 2009).

Biofilm-Breaking Qualities of Cistus

Finally, Cistus is an all-star at breaking down biofilm, especially in the mouth. Biofilm, a slimy layer of bacteria that can form on bodily surfaces, may be a major contributor to the development and persistence of chronic disease because it allows bacteria to evade antibiotics. Cistus is a powerful biofilm-breaker that can help destroy biofilm and restore a healthy microbial balance in the human body. Drinking cistus tea, or even swishing with it as a mouth rinse, has been shown to decrease adherence of pathogenic bacteria in the mouth, ultimately breaking down biofilm (Karygianni, 2015). After I was diagnosed with a dental infection, I was instructed by my doctor to swish my mouth with Cistus tea, and then drink one cup of the tea every day. I noticed immediately that the swishing with Cistus reduced inflammation in my face, due to the infection. It was quite incredible to see! I can attest to the effectiveness of this herb for dental problems.

Cistus clearly holds a lot of promise as a highly effective antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, and biofilm-breaking agent in the treatment of numerous types of infections. Due to its broad-spectrum activity, I think Cistus could be a highly beneficial addition to health protocols for anybody seeking to overcome chronic infection and illness. Cistus has been a major part of my treatment protocol for Lyme disease and Lyme coinfections. If you are struggling with any sort of infection, or simply want to prevent infection, I think it is definitely worth giving it a try!

References

Hudson JB. (2009). The use of herbal extracts in the control of influenza. Journal of Medicinal Plants Research. 3(13): 1189-1195. Retrieved from http://www.academicjournals.org/article/article1380529426_Hudson.pdf.

Kalus U, Grigorov A, Kadecki O, et al. (2009). Cistus incanus (CYSTUS052) for treating patients with infection of the upper respiratory tract. A prospective, randomised, placebo-controlled clinical study. Antiviral Research. 84(3): 267-271. Retrieved from http://europepmc.org/abstract/med/19828122.

Karygianni L, Al-Ahman A, Argyropoulou A, et al. (2015). Natural Antimicrobials and Oral Microorganisms: A Systematic Review on Herbal Interventions for the Eradication of Multispecies Oral Biofilms. Frontiers in Microbiology. 6: 1529. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4712263/.

Lodish H, Berk A, Zipursky SL, et al. (2000). Molecular cell biology. 4th Ed. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK21523/.

Rebensburg S, Helfer M, Schneider M, Koppensteiner M, Eberle J, Schindler M, Gurtler L, Brack-Werner R. (2016). Potent in vitro antiviral activity of Cistus incanus extract against HIV and Filoviruses targets viral envelope proteins. Scientific Reports. 6. Article number: 20394. Retrieved from http://www.nature.com/articles/srep20394.

Sharma RP. (1993). Immunotoxicity of mycotoxins. Journal of Dairy Science. 76:892-897. Retrieved from http://getmoldtested.com/uploads/Sharma_Immunotoxicty_Mycotoxins.pdf.

Wittpahl G, Basche S, Kolling-Speer I, Hannig C. (2015). The polyphenolic composition of Cistus incanus herbal tea and its antibacterial and anti-adherent activity against Streptococcus mutans. Planta Medica. 81(18). Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/281170931_The_Polyphenolic_Composition_of_Cistus_incanus_Herbal_Tea_and_Its_Antibacterial_and_Anti-adherent_Activity_against_Streptococcus_mutans.
About the author: Lindsay has her Bachelors of Science in Biomedical Science, with an Emphasis in Nutrition, from National University of Health Sciences. When she is not studying nutrition or researching and writing, Lindsay enjoys working out, rock climbing, hiking, skiing, and having adventures outdoors. She is also quite passionate about her camera and taking nature photography. You can read more about Lindsay’s Lyme disease experience, as well read all her latest thoughts and research on health, by visiting her blog, Rock On Nutrition, at https://rockonnutrition.me/.

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Is There Natural Sunscreen in Carrots?

Herbs and Helpers

Lifestyle blogs are very good at cultivating domestic inadequacy, and spawning questions you probably never thought you’d ask yourself, like Should I bemaking my own sunscreen? Does slathering myself in raspberry seeds count as SPF? And even more weirdly, Will eating certain vegetables protect me from getting burned? Many a Pinterest infographic suggests that mixing raspberry seed and carrot seed oils with zinc-oxide powder and coconut oil will result in an effective and toxin-free sunscreen. Some even suggest that eating antioxidant-rich foods will protect you against the sun “from the inside.” What is thetruth?

If you ask the bloggers, carrot seed oil has an SPF of 35 to 40. Or is it 38 to 40? Raspberry seed oil, they allege, offers somewhere between 25 and 28 to 50. Aromatherapy experts even believe that fatty oils (a.k.a. carrier oils) have some sunprotection.

But slathering yourself in carrot cake will not provide UV protection. Certain botanicals may offer some protection against ultraviolet light, but this doesn’t mean you should go buy a bunch of ingredients and play chemist, says Joshua Zeichner, M.D., the director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Although some studies claim that raspberry seed oil or essential oils absorb some UV light, they were conducted in petri dishes using light meters – a far cry from the tests that sunscreen manufacturers must conduct to prove the SPF claims on their labels. Rigorous sunscreen trials involve putting actual humans under UV lamps to see how quickly they burn, then repeating the test 15 minutes after sunscreen is applied to theirbacks.

“In theory or in the lab, an oil may give [some] protection, but in the real world, you’re applying it to the skin with other ingredients and you’re sweating and it’s exposed to UV light – the conditions are very different,” says Dr. Zeichner. “It may not be stable.” Essentially, the UV protection of botanicals is unproven. And if you’re trying to made “homemade” sunscreens, they simply aren’t reliable because the ingredients aren’t subject to the same regulations and testing that store-bought sunscreen is, Dr. Zeichner says. You really don’t know the trueSPF rating of the bottle of homemade sunscreen oil you purchased on Etsy, or how long it will last. Plus, the oil or zinc-oxide powder from your sunscreen concoction may not be evenly spread through the mixture, which could result in patchy protection and damaging sunburns.

As to the other internet claims claims that eating certain foods can boost your sun protection and even fight sun damage, it’s hyperbole. There is some data showing that foods rich in antioxidants can help improve the body’s own antioxidant defenses, which may be useful in minimizing damage from UV light, Dr. Zeichner says. Namely, research suggests there’s some benefit from the antioxidants vitamin C in citrus, genistein from soy, and lycopene, which is found in foods like tomatoes, watermelon, and papaya. (A note of caution: Foods rich in vitamin A could actually make you more sensitive to the sun, so go easy on thecarrots.) Don’t rely on your diet to cure any sun-related ills. So, no, you may not give yourself a pass on reapplying because you brought oranges to thebeach.

“A healthy diet can help give the skin the building blocks that it needs to function properly, but that should be in addition to sun-safe behaviors like wearing sunscreen, seeking shade during peak hours, and wearing hats and glasses,” he says. “It’s more of a safety net to minimize collateral damage or any damage that occurs despite your best efforts at sun protection.”

Overall, if you’d really prefer a natural option, then look for sunscreens with physical blockers zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide as the active ingredients. (These are mineral blocks which reflect light, rather than chemical blocks which absorb UV rays.)

If you like your skin and don’t want to deal with skin cancer or premature wrinkling, don’t mess with DIY sunscreen and don’t expect that your impressive fruit and veggie intake will save you. “We have great ways of protecting ourselves from that exposure and I recommend that you use the products that are commercially available,” says Zeichner.

Get that sunscreen – perhaps the fun, new gel kind – and swathe yourself in it.

Source: New York Magazine

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A Natural & Safe Homemade Ginger Ale to Treat Migraines

Herbs and Helpers

Ginger, this commonly-used spice has lots of medicinal uses, including easing migraine headaches. As nausea and vomiting are the most common migraine symptoms, while ginger is well known for combating nausea and also providing relief for an upset stomach.

Studies About Using Ginger For Migraines

A study published in Phytotherapy Research found that sumatriptan and ginger powder are similar in their effect on migraine relief, and ginger powder had less reported side effects than sumatriptan.
Another study in Medical Science Monitor showed the combination of ginger and feverfew relieved migraine headache pain in almost 50%.
A research by the American Academy of Neurology also proved the positive effect of ginger on the pain relief for migraine suffers.
A study made by the Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine found that ginger contains volatile oils, which have anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties to prevent and ease migraines.

Homemade Ginger Ale Recipe

Ingredients

1 cup grated ginger
4 cups water
2 fresh limes
A small handful of mint leaves
Sparkling carbonated water
Honey to taste
Directions

Add the ginger to boiled water and simmer for 5-10 minutes, then strain the ginger outside.

Now mix the ginger water with the other ingredients and your homemade ginger ale is well. Whenever you feel migraine headaches, use this easy-to-make ginger ale.

Sources: verywell.com, fhfn.org, migraine.com

Natural News

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Hour’s activity ‘offsets sedentary day’

Herbs and Helpers

Office workers are advised to take regular breaks from their desks

An hour’s “brisk exercise” each day offsets the risks of early death linked to a desk-bound working life, scientists suggest.

The analysis of data from more than a million people is part of a study of physical activity published in the Lancet to coincide with the Olympics.

Watching TV was found to be worse than sitting at a desk, probably because of associated habits like snacking.

Current NHS guidelines recommend 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week.

Being inactive is known to increase the risk of conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and some cancers.

It has been linked to 5.3 million deaths globally a year – compared with 5.1 million linked to smoking.

The Lancet research says the global cost, for healthcare and lost productivity, is estimated at $67.5bn per year.

‘No escape’

To look at the the impact of activity and inactivity, researchers went back to the authors of 13 existing papers and asked all of them to reanalyse their data.

People were classed depending on how active they were – from the least active who did less than five minutes a day, up to 60-75 minutes a day for the most active.

Researchers then looked at how many people died during the follow-up period – between two and 14 years.

Those who sat for eight hours a day, but were physically active, had a much lower risk of premature death compared with people who sat for fewer hours a day, but were not active.

Sitting for a long time as well as being inactive carried the greatest risk.

Prof Ulf Ekelund, of the Norwegian School of Sports Sciences and the University of Cambridge, led the study.

He said: “For many people who commute to work and have office-based jobs, there is no way to escape sitting for prolonged periods of time.

“For these people in particular, we cannot stress enough the importance of getting exercise, whether it’s getting out for a walk at lunchtime, going for a run in the morning or cycling to work.

“An hour of physical activity per day is the ideal, but if this is unmanageable, then at least doing some exercise each day can help reduce the risk.”

But he admitted: “One hour’s moderate activity is substantially higher than current recommendations.”

TV time

Watching TV for more than three hours was associated with an increased risk of premature death for all but the most active.

The researchers suggest this is likely to be because people might snack while they watch, or because they are more likely to watch TV after eating their evening meal which might affect their metabolism.

It could, they say, also be a sign of a more unhealthy lifestyle in general.

Dr Pedro Hallal of Brazil’s Federal University of Pelotas looked at the effect of the Olympics on the general public’s activity levels.

He said that, despite a blip around the Games where people temporarily take up a sport, there is no long-term legacy.

“There’s been no health legacy of the Olympics reported ever, but it’s the perfect time to talk about human movement.”

The scientists said governments should ensure their policies encouraged physical activity – citing the example of a bus scheme where stops are placed further apart to encourage walking – and employers should make it easier for staff to be active during their working day – such as flexible lunch breaks and the provision of showering facilities.

Lisa Young, a physical activity specialist at the British Heart Foundation said: “Although we recognise the link between sedentary behaviour and poor health, we do advocate further research in this area to establish categorical statistics in relation to cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.”

Dr Mike Loosemore, from the English Institute of Sport, said: “An hour of brisk walking is hard work this is essentially moderate exercise, I suspect not many people would be able to manage that amount of moderate activity a day.

“So if you change the guidelines then it puts them even further out of reach of the people who would benefit most from increasing their physical activity, which are those that do very little.

“For the vast majority of people while the best way to stay healthy would be to do an hour of moderate activity a day, realistically the best place to start is reducing your sedentary behaviour at work by sitting less and try to increase whatever physical activity you are doing.”

Source: BBC

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