Shatavari From Puberty To Menopause

Fasciculated roots of Asparagus racemosus called shatavari in Sanskrit. These roots are used medicinally as a tonic for improving strength and lactation

Shatavari is one of the main Ayurvedic rejuvenating tonics for women and is considered both a general and a reproductive tonic. Translates to “100 Spouses” denoting its ability to enhance fertility and vigour.

Also known as wild asparagus or Asparagus racemosus, Shatavari belongs to group of herbs which are collectively referred to adaptogens because they bring the body back into balance.

Shatavari can be taken through various stages of the woman’s life cycle.

Shatavari during puberty

Shatavari contains shatavarins and sarsapogenin which are natural precursors to the female sex hormones and exert hormonal balancing benefits. Ayurvedic practitioners recommend Shatavari to young women to help them start menstruating without any problems and the herb is often recommended at the first sign of menses related problems.

Shatavari post puberty

Shatavari can provide multiple benefits during this phase of a woman’s life. It has been reported to provide relief from menstrual pain, premenstrual syndrome, bloating, irritability and heavy legs.

Shatavari appears to display mild diuretic properties as well as working as an antispasmodic which may help to relieve stomach pain, cramping as well as swollen ankles and heavy legs.

Shatavari when trying to conceive

Throughout Ayurvedic history, Shatavari has been revered for female fertility. It is often cited as the herb of choice if trying to conceive. This is because it can be helpful in regulating menstrual cycles which can be important in trying to conceive and it is thought to regulate the production of luteinizing hormone (LH) which is required for ovulation.

It is also thought it helps nourish the womb and tone the female reproductive organs getting them ready for pregnancy. To further support its role, Shatavari boosts sex drive in both men and women.

Shatavari during pregnancy

Whilst Ayurvedic vaidyas (physicians) and nurses recommend taking Shatavari throughout pregnancy, I always suggest that women stop taking all herbs once they fall pregnant. I believe that during pregnancy, only use a specific multivitamin and mineral supplement with the correct strengths of individual nutrients approved for use during pregnancy.

Shatavari whilst breastfeeding

A lactating mother needs to eat nutritious food so that her body produces sufficient breast milk to feed the infant however some nursing mothers cannot produce sufficient milk. In such instances, a galactagogue is either prescribed or recommended. Shatavari is a galactagogue and it helps increase the production of prolactin which in turn increases the quality and volume of breast milk produced.

Some of the compounds in Shatavari also display nerve calming and mood elevating properties and this herb may be of value for postpartum blues which can affect some nursing mothers.

Short term use of Shatavari is generally recognised as safe for both nursing mothers and their infants however always consult a gynaecologist or your GP if are planning to use Shatavari whilst breastfeeding.

Shatavari for perimenopause, menopause and beyond

Shatavari is known to contain compounds that mimic or act as natural precursors to the female hormones which help to balance hormones and reduce menopausal symptoms of hot flushes, night sweats as well as low mood.

Shatavari is often referred to as an adaptogen. An adaptogen is a herb or a substance that strengthens the body’s ability to respond and cope to stressors and change whether they are physical and/or hormonal. This adaptogenic activity also helps to bring vitality and increased energy levels.

Shatavari contain high amounts of mucilages which act as a tonic for membranes lining the cervix. It is this property that is thought to help alleviate vaginal dryness.

Finally, Shatavari’s natural hormonal activity may also improve bone health and strength. Pukka Herbs Wholistic Shatavari provides organic Shatavari root as well as the extract in a base of arctic seaweed and ginger root to enhance absorption by increasing digestive enzymes production.

Is Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate The Best Vitamin C Serum?

tetrahexyldecyl-ascorbate-orange-rind-jpg

Pure Vitamin C serums for the face containing L-Ascorbic Acid are beneficial for the skin helping to protect against damaging free radicals that encourage wrinkles by destroying the collagen matrix. They also help to brighten and freshen the appearance of dull looking skin, together with inhibiting the formation of pigment in skin prone to hyperpigmentation. However, Vitamin C serums containing pure L-ascorbic acid do have some limiting factors which can influence their effectiveness.  We explore:

Limiting Factors of Vitamin C Serums

Most vitamin C serums are water-soluble because L-Ascorbic Acid, known as vitamin C or L-AA for short, disperses evenly in a water-based serum, but therein lies a problem. The dermis of the skin has a rich lipid (oil) barrier and it is here that many of the nutrients, including vitamin C, are required to manufacture collagen, a protein that gives skin its youthful firmness and the ability to resist wrinkles. Using water soluble vitamin C serums containing L-AA can be an issue since this nutrient cannot make it through the oil barrier and therefore cannot provide maximum benefits as far as collagen manufacture is concerned. Read More…

Weekend Read

text hello august in colourful letters on yellow background

All rocked up on a Saturday morning and there is much to report this week.  I suppose we should celebrate because the biggest news is that some of our bestselling products are back in stock after a long absence.  I will go through these below, but hopefully there will be another stash of deliveries arriving this week, if all goes according to plan, but I’m not holding my breath.  As I wrote last week, I don’t think these product famines are going to ease up any time soon, so we’ll take it as it comes.  And give thanks for what we have.  Actually, I think that goes across all things in life.  Perspective is everything.

That said, I want to begin by addressing a rather alarming issue, hair loss and thinning hair.  Of course it has always been a really large concern, but with the onset of amplified stress, which is completely understandable, in and of itself it has become a concern of epic proportions.  Over the years we have always recommended Superior Hair.  We have yet to find a better alternative and I know that several of you are taking it with either Ionicell or Fulvic Acid Elixir, which is a very good thing.  By its very nature, this is not an issue that can be resolved overnight and it takes time to see results and although we are all different, we are saying it could take up to six months.  So let’s give things a helping hand.

That helping hand comes in the form of Fulvic Acid Mist.  This is the hero product of the Fulvic haircare range and it always has been.  A potent, rejuvenating and invigorating treatment for hair loss and thinning hair, it is powered by Ioniplex, the patented ingredient for Ionicell.  Working hard (very hard) to help renew cell life and the keratin function in our scalp, follicles and hair, it can be truly transformative.

Read More…

The More Of Less

There is beauty in simplicity modern vector brush calligraphy

For someone who regularly posts to social channels, such as Instagram, it’s taken lockdown for me to realise that I quite like my bare face. Without the need or pressure to pile on make-up or to present my ‘best’ self, I posted make-up free pictures for the first time in my life. Overwhelmingly, the comments were positive which led me to think more carefully about what I really need to be happy with my skin.

I know that I’m not alone in feeling a certain freedom in spending longer in my own space with nobody but family and friends to judge (they don’t). Other than for testing for reviews, I cannot remember the last time I willingly put foundation on my face – and yet, it’s not so long ago that I couldn’t contemplate being without it. I always mean to put a slick of Gucci translucent red lipstick on before I venture out but don’t always remember to do it. Forget my lipstick? I don’t know myself now!

So, with make-up less prominent in daily life, I find myself making more mindful choices when it comes to skin care. I stress mindful rather than complicated. With simplification comes freedom – the worry about what to layer over what, how many steps in a routine are necessary and what does toner actually do? Necessaries are simple – a decent cleanser that removes pollution and general grime keeps pores from clogging and freshens the skin. We Are Wild have a clever balm stick that you massage over your skin and turns to oil as your body heat warms it through. By adding a tiny bit of water with your finger-tips it then turns very lightly foamy, at which point, you wipe it away with a damp cleansing cloth. If the entire process takes more than a minute and a half I would be surprised, although do remember, complexions love massage, so take as long as you like.

Personally, I am not religious about an SPF day to day unless I know that I’ll be outside for a while. I always have an early morning walk with no SPF for about an hour and apply thereafter if needed. This Works In Transit, £29, doubles as a moisturiser and facial SPF 30 – I prefer a built-for-purpose dual product because often a separate SPF and moisturiser aren’t compatible with each other and form little rolls on the skin. Plus, a double layer feels heavy and who needs that on a hot summer day?

My final ‘necessity’ would be a night moisturiser – I almost never use an eye cream – it’s the same face, one product will do – a thought echoed by Colette Haydon, creator of LixirSkin whose Universal Emulsion, £29, is beautifully hydrating. Boost it up with Lixirskin Night Switch, £24, to add a lipid layer to your beauty sleep if you need extra moisture. It’s a wonderful blend of lipids, ceramides and phytosterols that all skin loves.

It’s not so much going back to basics, although you may find your skin flourishes from taking a break from too much or chopping and changing often, it’s more about de-cluttering the mindset that tells us we have to follow the trends and pile our complexions with all the stuff. It’s about finding the freedom to relax with your skin and with your face – to stop searching for that miracle ingredient, instead, nurturing and appreciating what you have with thoughtful choices that suit you. Of course, add in anything else that you please – for glow and even tone, Vitamin C is your friend and Garden of Wisdom C-Deep Vitamin C Serum is a snip at £18. For oil-prone skin, Garden of Wisdom Salicylic Acid, £10, tackles blemishes and clogged pores while their Neurophroline Serum is a pollution fighter that ensures skin doesn’t dull under pressure – stress or environmental.  Any of these additions go after cleansing, before moisturising.

Although these days we don’t – can’t – live without an element of worry, the balance seems to be shifting from sweating the small stuff – all the stuff, in fact – to re-evaluating what really matters. There are real stresses and strains that come from our situation; creating moments that feel free from complexity are precious. Let’s find them and enjoy them.

Weekend Read

Bluebells in Wepham Woods

Another Saturday morning and I continue to lurch from one drama to another.  I should probably change the name of this missive to The Life and Times of VH (and Shabir); however we’ll stay as we are at the moment, but all names and thoughts are encompassed in this thing that we are doing together.  I mean literally from one day to the next anything and everything can turn upside down and inside out.  It’s like being on a roller-coaster ride, but we’ll take it as it comes and I’ll continue reporting on the things that matter.  And the things that are not essential to life, but they make us happy anyway.  Let’s go:

Look, I can’t help it, I’m way too emotional for my own good, because yet again I feel bad.  Let me explain.  As most of you know, a couple of weeks ago I wrote about the Fulvic Acid Elixir treat.  I did it because, as I wrote at the time, I wanted the world to take Fulvic for a whole multitude of reasons, but basically because I believe it to be the core supplement we should all be taking for optimum health and wellbeing.  And then the emails.  What about Ionicell.  And the guilt hit in.  I think I was born guilty, seriously.

Most of you know that I take Fulvic Acid Elixir and Ionicell.  A lot of you do the same, but quite honestly we launched Ionicell first and then followed through with the Elixir because we wanted to give you a choice.  Capsules or liquid.  You really don’t need both, but I double up because I can.  Notwithstanding that, I don’t want to be seen favouring one over the other.  So a Saturday only treat is about to descend.  And it’s the Ionicell Twin Pack.  Ionicell is £20 for 60 VegiCaps.  The twin pack is £30, so that’s a saving of £10.  This offer will end at midnight (Saturday 25 July). 

Read More…

100 Things To Do In The Forest

Magic fairytale forest with fireflies lights and mysterious road

Whether you’ve always been an outdoorsy type, or the confines of the recent pandemic has led you to embrace new al fresco activities, there has never been a better time to connect with nature. For starters, it’s now proven to have positive effects on your mental wellbeing. We say now because it’s a relatively new concept. Professor Miles Richardson who led a recent study undertaken by the University of Derby’s Nature Connectedness Research Group revealed that in 2001 there wasn’t a single research paper on ‘nature connectedness’ but that over the past decade, research in this area has blossomed due to the focus on the mental health crisis. Indeed, their study over four years has found that simply ‘noticing nature’ significantly improves quality of life. Similarly, Japanese studies have reported that just by looking at plants you can alter the electrical activity (pumping) of the heart, reduce pulse rate, muscle tension and blood pressure as well as boosting your mood.

It’s no coincidence that the activity known as Forest Bathing originated in Japan. Also known as Shinrin-Yoku, it was developed in 1982 as part of a national health programme designed to reduce the population’s stress levels. A practice that aims to open the senses to the forest surroundings, it teaches participants to inhale the forest air, listen to the sounds around them, feel the breeze on their skin and take a moment to connect with their environment. Gaining traction in the western world over the past couple of years, you can easily go forest bathing of your own accord or if you could sign up to some Forest Therapy where you will be assigned a guide to help get you in the swing of things.

Shirley Gleeson set up the Forest Therapy Institute last year which is an international training organisation for Certified Forest Bathing Guides and Forest Therapy Practitioners. “It’s a ten-day intensive course with a six-month mentored practice. Guides are trained choosing the best forest trails in terms of restorative elements (natural soundscape, flowing water, rich in biodiversity, wide variety of tree types etc) and also trained in designing sensory nature-based invitations to deepen your relationship with nature, enhance vitality and reduce stress levels,” explains Shirley.

You can find a list of certified guides and practitioners on their website but it’s becoming more commonplace than you might think so don’t be surprised to see it pop up on a spa menu. At Armathwaite Hall Hotel and Spa in the Lake District, they’ve recently introduced a two-hour immersive Forest Therapy session. “We were running a forest bathing package without a guide which was proving popular, but we felt participants were missing an important element and with a specialist, it’s a much more fulfilling experience in helping participants connect more fully with nature,” explains owner Carolyn Graves. Led through the hotel’s 400 acres, the experience ends with a tea ritual in the woodland gazebo. Bliss.

If you go down to the woods today

While the idea is to immerse yourself in the outdoors without technology or distractions, there are some apps that provide some virtual hand holding. Go Jauntly, a walking app, has a new function called Nature Notes that encourages users to record three things they’ve noticed in nature every day. Birdsong, the smell of wild flowers, an unusually shaped tree – it all counts. And if you’re getting more inquisitive by the day, there are also apps like Chrirp! that helps to identify birdsong and Plant Snap where you can upload a picture of a plant that’s caught your eye and it will report back with its vital statistics. Nature Finder is another good shout as it contains maps, events and listings of over 2000 nature reserves in the UK.

There are even festivals dedicated to the forest – Timber, held at Feanedock, a woodland site on the Leicestershire/Derbyshire border is far more than tree hugging and combines music, workshops, dance, gong baths, forest bathing and campfire stories for a nature-immersive experience like no other. And while it’s been postponed until next July, they are encouraging people to submit 60 second soundbites of the forest around them to create a soundmap that brings together tones and textures from the world’s woodlands. An ongoing project, it’s possibly the most relaxing thing you’ll hear if you’re stuck inside.

On The To-do List

Another excellent resource is forest educator Jennifer Davis’ book, 100 Things To Do In A Forest, out in August. Suitable for solo explorers or families, it does what it says on the tin and throws up original and unusual ideas of how you can spend your time outdoors. “We live in a world where we’ve become so accustomed to having goals, intentions or ticking off items on to-do lists. This book makes several suggestions for gentle activities that you can do to enable the process of letting go and just doing not very much,” says Jennifer.

Forest bathing is just one of her suggestions. Others include Nature Framing, Pond Dwelling, Urban Cooking, Fish Tickling, Green Exercise, Insect Management and Dadirri – another ancient method of reflection that utilises nature. “It’s an aboriginal practice in which people employ stillness, deep listening and a willingness to look within,” explains Jennifer. “It is far more self-focused than forest bathing which is about taking in everything around you and heightening the senses. It’s about becoming part of the natural world, rather than an observer of it. Many people find that they are uncomfortable with the level of inner-reflection that dadirri indicates as again, it’s the opposite of our fast-paced solutions-focussed society but by practising it you will become more tuned in to the energy of the world around you.”

Not all of Jennifer’s suggestions might resonate with you but even if you simply use some of them as a starting point you might notice you start to feel better in mind, body and soul. You might also subconsciously start to switch your habits. “Several years ago I read some research that said that people who spend regular time in a particular outdoor space are more likely to become environmental advocates for that space when it is threatened. I loved the idea that just being in the woods would naturally turn you into an eco-warrior and that it really was as simple as just going to the same green space regularly,” she says.

Does exercising outside count?

According to these latest studies, it’s what you notice when you’re outside that counts and will impact how you feel rather than how long you’re in the open air although the University of Exeter has found that 120 minutes a week in nature is the sweet spot. A bootcamp in the park won’t cut it though. You’ll still get the endorphins and fresh air, but your focus will naturally be elsewhere – “it’s more a form of green exercise than forest bathing,” explains Shirley. It’s also proven that the more you do your chosen activity – eg go for a walk in the woods, the more benefits so choose something that you can do almost every day rather than a once a week, weather-dependant activity.

How you’ll know if it’s working

Feeling calmer, more positive and less anxious are all wellbeing benefits that are said to come from spending time in nature. Carolyn Graves also flags up that it has been shown to accelerate recovery from illness while Jennifer says that alongside rosy cheeks and a feeling of cheerfulness, people report better sleep and is often one of the first things they notice. Then there’s the desire to share the good vibes. “If you find yourself asking other people to join you on your next woodland exploit, you’re probably reaping the rewards and subconsciously hoping to share that joy with others,” she points out.

Regardless of whether you remain working from home or the busier pace of life is returning, if there’s one thing you take from this slow-moving start to the year, make it an affiliation with the outdoors. Once you’ve found that natural high, you’ll be hooked.