After Birth Tincture Recipe

I’ve been nesting since I was about four months pregnant. It’s been great as I’ve essentially remodeled, redecorated, and scrubbed our house from top to bottom, but this week, my energy has switched from putting in tile floors to obsessively scrubbing baseboards and getting my labor and birth kit ready. I also just strained the after birth tincture that I’ve been working on making for months (see recipe below).

Preparing for Birth

With my first pregnancy, I’m pretty sure I had my bag packed and birth plan written, printed, and in a folder with snacks for the nurses by the time I hit 20 weeks. This time, I used my energy more effectively (or at least my house would vouch for that) but I realized when I hit 36 weeks that I wasn’t ready for the actual birth part so I’ve been working on catching up.

I’ve been very grateful that this pregnancy has been my easiest and most comfortable by far. I credit having finally figured out and addressed my thyroid problem, nourished my body correctly before and during, and prioritized sleep throughout this pregnancy. I didn’t really even suffer from morning sickness at all this time, but have craved cucumbers, carrots, protein and sauerkraut.

I’m hoping (and wishin’, and prayin’) that this will mean a wonderful labor and delivery as well, but since most of my past labors have been 24+ hours, a little advanced preparation goes a long way. In the past, I’ve learned from experience that when a birth team rides out a long labor with you, they don’t get the benefit of the hormones for energy, so it is important to have enough healthy food, drinks and a place for them to rest.

After Birth

When I’m in labor, I don’t typically want anyone or anything and just want to be left alone, but once the baby is born I am tired, hungry and thirsty, so I like to be prepared for that. I also like to be prepared for the after birth adjustments as well. With my second pregnancy, the after birth pains caught me off guard since I didn’t have any with my first delivery. Until that point, I always thought that when the baby finally arrived and the placenta was delivered, labor and contractions would stop.

As many moms know… this is not necessarily the case. In fact, at times, the after cramps rivaled labor itself, at least for me. While I wanted to be cuddling a newborn, I was still breathing through contractions.

An After Birth Tincture

With my fourth pregnancy, I discovered a pre-made tincture that my midwife recommended which greatly helped with the after-pains. This tincture was out of stock with my last pregnancy so I experimented with making my own using the same herbs (and adding a few of my own for flavor) so that I would have it on hand. I was shocked that by using it regularly, I had much less after-pain with my fifth baby than with my second.

Needless to say, I was determined to have it on hand again this time and mixed up a batch using a standard tincture recipe a few months ago. I strained it this week and it is ready to go in dropper bottles for after labor.

My after birth tincture contains:

Chamomile– for relaxation and taste
Ginger– to help settle my stomach
Cramp Bark Herb– one of the ingredients in the pre-made tincture that has a folk history of use for cramps
Yarrow– For relaxation and to ease cramping
Motherwort– Said to promote relaxation and ease muscle tightening
Important Note: Check with a doctor or midwife before using these or any herbs while pregnant or nursing. I used this tincture after consulting with my midwife and under her supervision.

After Birth Tincture Ingredients

1/4 cup dried chamomile flowers
1/4 cup fresh minced ginger root
2 Tablespoons cramp bark herb
1 Tablespoon yarrow flowers
1 teaspoon dried motherwort
2 cups vodka or rum (at least 80 proof)- Can use apple cider vinegar instead if you can handle the taste
quart size glass jar
How to Make After Birth Tincture

Place the herbs in bottom of the quart size jar.
Pour boiling water to just dampen all of the herbs. (This step is optional but helps to draw out the beneficial properties of the herbs.)
Pour the rum or vodka (or other food grade alcohol at least 80 proof) into the jar.
Tightly place the lid on the jar. Store the jar in a cool/dry place, shaking daily, for at least three weeks and up to six months. (I usually leave herbs for at least six weeks.)
Strain through cheesecloth and compost the herbs. Store the tincture in dark colored dropper bottles or clean glass jars.
What I Do

I keep this tincture in my birth kit and use it pretty quickly after birth, ideally about the same time I start nursing the baby as nursing tends to make the after-contractions stronger. I’ve found from trial and error that taking it 10-15 minutes before each nursing session for the first few days greatly helps take the edge off the after-pains. I still feel the tightening of the contractions but not as much pain.

I personally took 10-15 drops per nursing session as needed under the supervision of my midwife, but check with your doctor or midwife before taking this or any herbal remedy or tincture when pregnant or nursing and to find out if and how much of a tincture like this you can take.

I find that this homemade version tastes better than the pre-made version thanks to the addition of chamomile and ginger, but when it is in stock, the pre-made After Ease Tincture has worked really well for me too.

Other Items I Keep on Hand

I also try to have a good supply of healthy but easy foods on hand for after birth, as well as some pre-made meals in the fridge and freezer. I pre-make after-birth sitz bath herbs to brew as a tea to use in a peri-bottle to ease perineum pain and also use this postpartum soothing spray.

I also keep rice heat packs (for cramp relief), a water bottle that stays cold for a long time, and a salt lamp (for a warm glow without too much light) close by for the first few days.

How to Make Natural Homemade Hand Sanitizer

I am not a fan of commercial hand sanitizers that contain drying alcohol and often contain triclosan and antibacterial ingredients that may contribute to resistant strains of bacteria.

We don’t use hand sanitizer of any kind often, and opt for washing hands (with homemade foaming soap) whenever possible, but for times that we encounter things besides good clean dirt, I keep this on hand. This recipe does contain essential oils in higher concentrations than I typically use (read this post about the risks of essential oils).

Natural Hand Sanitizer Gel

The result is a simple-to-make herbal hand sanitizer gel with essential oils. It isn’t as sanitizing as commercial versions or my other recipe which contains witch hazel, but it works great. I wouldn’t use this after visiting a hospital or other place where there are resistant strains of bacteria, but I use it when the kids have just been playing outside or at the park.

I used organic aloe vera gel and these essential oils:

Orange– Natural antiseptic and antioxidant. It also smells great!
Cinnamon-antibacterial, antifungal, antimicrobial & astringent
Clove-Antimicrobial and antibacterial
Rosemary– Anti-fungal and antibacterial
Lavender– Antibacterial and antiviral + it smells awesome!
Another benefit to this herbal hand sanitizer gel is that it doesn’t dry the skin and is actually nourishing because of the aloe vera.

This recipe is so simple that your children can help you make it and it can even be made in the container you plan to use so you don’t have to get a bowl dirty.

Ingredients

1/4 cup aloe vera gel (I use this organic one)
20 drops orange essential oil (I get essential oils here)
5 drops clove essential oil
10 drops cinnamon essential oil
10 drops lavender essential oil
5 drops rosemary essential oil
Instructions

Mix all ingredients and store in a reusable silicon tube (like this one).
Use as needed to naturally remove germs from hands.
Notes

Always check with a doctor or health care provider before using essential oils, especially on children or if you have a medical condition.

Stronger Hand Sanitizer

For a stronger hand sanitizer that contains rubbing alcohol and witch hazel and will be more similar to commercial versions without the tricolsan, try this recipe.

Hand Sanitizer Ingredients

Rubbing Alcohol
Vegetable Glycerin (optional)
Aloe Vera Gel
Cinnamon Essential Oil
Tea Tree Essential Oil
Distilled Water (or Colloidal Silver/Ionic silver if available)
Other Essential Oils if you like the smell
Hand Sanitizer Instructions

To make, mix 1/4 cup aloe vera gel, 1/2 teaspoon glycerine, and 1 Tablespoon of rubbing alcohol in a small bowl. Add 10 drops of cinnamon essential oil and 10 drops of tea tree oil along with any other oils you want to add for scent (lemongrass, orange, lavender and peppermint are good choices).

Mix well and add distilled water (or Colloidal/Ionic silver) to thin to desired consistency and add any other oils to desired smell.

Use a small funnel or medicine dropper to transfer hand sanitizer into spray or pump type bottles.

Use as you would any other type of hand sanitizer.

If want to experiment with some other sanitizer variations, check out these tutorials from a few of my favorite bloggers:

Crunchy Betty
Frugally Sustainable
Mommypotamus

Is Moringa Really a Superfood?

There is a simple tree known as “the drumstick tree,” or scientifically as Moringa oleifera, which is commonly touted as a superfood since it is rich in nutrients, antioxidants and other beneficial compounds. Unfortunately, there is also a dark side to this small tree that is native to India, and there are some important cautions to know before consuming it.

Here’s why:

What is Moringa?

The Moringa oleifera tree is a small tree that is native to India but that grows in many parts of the world. The entire tree is considered edible and it is known for its long twisted pods, from which it derives its name. “Murungai” means “twisted pod” in the Tamil language. (1)

The Moringa tree has several names in different parts of the world including its common name of “horseradish tree,” since its roots taste similar to horseradish root when raw. In Ayurvedic medicine it is known as shigru and in Spanish it is referred to as Jacinto.

Moringa is beneficial as a food because of its ability to grow in a variety of climates, especially subtropical climates. In fact, Moringa Oleifera grows in virtually all countries where malnutrition is widespread and may be a great part of a comprehensive plan to alleviate malnutrition throughout the world. In fact:

It is believed that the moringa tree originated in northern India and was being used in Indian medicine around 5,000 years ago, and there are also accounts of it being utilized by the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians. This tree was, and still is, considered a panacea, and is referred to as the ‘The Wonder Tree’, ‘The Divine Tree’, and ‘The Miracle Tree’ amongst many others. (2)

It is also important to note that there are technically 13 different species of Moringa tree, though for simplicity, I’m referencing the Moringa oleifera tree in this post and using the common name of just “Moringa.”

Potential Benefits of Moringa

The same properties that make Moringa beneficial in fighting malnourishment lead many to believe that this plant is beneficial for everyone. It is well-documented for its nutritive abilities and there are even supplement companies based entirely around the benefits of Moringa, (though it is widely available in many forms including capsules, teas, and other forms at much lower prices).

The leaves are considered the most nutritious part and are most often used in supplements. Since a large part of the population is considered “overfed but undernourished,” Moringa may be a useful tea and supplement for many people, even in the developed world, but it is important to understand the cautions below, especially concerning the roots and stems of this plant.

These are a few of the benefits attributed to Moringa:

1. High in Nutrients

As mentioned, Moringa is a source of antioxidants and some vitamins, including:

B-vitamins
Vitamin C
Iron
Magnesium
Vitamin A
Zinc
Perhaps you’ve seen some of the health claims that gram-for-gram, Moringa has more protein than yogurt, more potassium than bananas, more calcium than milk and more Vitamin C than oranges.(3) While this is technically true, it is important to note the distinction that this is “gram for gram,” and not by volume. Since Moringa leaves are relatively lightweight, 100 grams of Moringa leaves would be substantially more volume than 100 grams of an orange.

Consider this: a medium size orange is approximately 130 grams, or 4.5 ounces. Now consider a leafy substance like Moringa leaves. For simplicity, we’ll use a similar leaf, Spinach, for comparison. The FDA estimates that 1 cup of raw spinach is about 30 grams. This means that to get the same “gram for gram” comparison, a person would have to eat 4+ cups of fresh spinach leaves to consume the same number of grams as one orange.

This comparison becomes even more glaring with some of the other nutrients. For instance, it is claimed that “gram for gram” this plant contains two times the protein of yogurt, but 100 grams of yogurt is only about 1/2 cup, while a person would have to consume 3+ cups (or six times as much by volume) fresh leaves to get to 100 grams.

While I’m not discounting the nutrients in this plant, I show this comparison to point out that for those of us eating a balanced diet, Moringa may not be as beneficial as it is to those who are truly malnourished.

Additionally, while it is a good natural source of the nutrients listed above, 1 cup of fresh Moringa leaves provides only 10-20% of the RDA for these nutrients listed above, so a person would have to consume a lot to obtain “superfood” levels of these nutrients. Most Moringa supplements are dried, not fresh, which reduces the amount of certain nutrients and concentrates others.

2. May Reduce Inflammation

Though Moringa isn’t a spectacular source of nutrients for those already consuming a nutrient-dense diet, it may have another benefit that makes it helpful for those in the developed world. The levels of antioxidants present in the leaves may help reduce certain types of inflammation.

Moringa has been found to contain Flavonoids, such as quercetin, as well as beta-carotene, Vitamin C, and Chlorogenic acid. Quercetin is sometimes used as a natural antihistamine for its ability to stabilize histamine production in the body. Chlorogenic acid is also found (in higher amounts) in coffee and has been found to have a balancing effect on blood sugar in some lab trials. (4)

As blood sugar imbalances have been linked to diabetes, inflammation and other problems, balancing blood sugar may be an important step for reducing inflammation.

As this article explains:

In one study, 30 women took seven grams of moringa leaf powder every day for three months. This reduced fasting blood sugar levels by 13.5% (5).

Additionally, a small study in six diabetic patients found that adding 50 grams of Moringa leaves to a meal reduced the rise in blood sugar by 21% (6).

I personally wouldn’t use Moringa just for its blood sugar balancing abilities, as quite a bit must be consumed regularly to see the benefits, but for some people it may be helpful as part of an overall diet and lifestyle plan (though certainly check with a doctor or specialist to make sure it is safe and won’t interact with any medications before taking it).

3. Positive Effects on Cholesterol

Moringa has also been studied for its ability to reduce cholesterol levels in human trials. This may be significant with the emerging research discounting the effectiveness and safety of Statin drugs. From Chris Kresser:

Statin drugs do not reduce the risk of death in 95% of the population, including healthy men with no pre-existing heart disease, women of any age, and the elderly.
Statin drugs do reduce mortality for young and middle-aged men with pre-existing heart disease, but the benefit is small and not without significant adverse effects, risks and costs.
Aspirin works just as well as statins do for preventing heart disease, and is 20 times more cost effective.(7)
Many foods that help reduce inflammation in the body may also have positive effect on blood cholesterol levels and eating a diet high in antioxidant rich foods and vegetables and low in sugar may also be beneficial, but Moringa seems to be especially beneficial in human and animal studies. (source)

4. Help for Breastfeeding Mothers

Another often-cited use for Moringa is to help increase milk supply in breastfeeding mothers. In fact, certain supplement companies regularly recommend their Moringa-based supplements as a prenatal vitamin and during breastfeeding (although see please see the cautions below before taking this supplement if you are a woman of childbearing age!).

The only scientific backing I could find for the use of Moringa as a galactogogue (to increase milk supply) is in an old study from the Philippines that looked at the use of this plant for mothers with pre-term babies in the first three days of breastfeeding only, and found:

In women during postpartum days 3-5 (after giving birth to preterm infants), supplementation of 250mg moringa oleifera leaf extract twice daily appears to increase milk production in a time dependent manner on the first day of supplementation (31% increase over placebo) as well as the second (48%) and third (165%) day. (8)

Though there are some anecdotal accounts of women using Moringa to increase milk supply (especially with this particular product), I couldn’t find any other research to back this up, and perhaps any increase in milk supply would just be due to increase nutrient consumption, which is important during breastfeeding.

5. Possible Arsenic Protection

Though it hasn’t been studied in humans, there is some evidence (from studies on rats and mice) that certain compounds in the leaves of the Moringa plant may be protective against arsenic poisoning.

Observational studies indicate that long-term exposure to arsenic may increase the risk of cancer and heart disease (9, 10).

Several studies of mice and rats show that the leaves and seeds of Moringa oleiferamay protect against some effects of arsenic toxicity (11, 12, 13).These studies are promising, but it is not yet known whether this also applies to humans.

6. Natural Energy Booster

This is one benefit of Moringa that definitely seems to have a large amount of anecdotal evidence and this may be due to the amino acid profile of this plant. Many people in online forums and discussion boards claim that they have seen a noticeable increase in energy levels from taking Moringa, though I found relatively little science to back this up and “energy levels” are one of the most difficult factors to measure objectively. (14)

Simply consuming more vitamins, minerals and amino acids may lead to an increase in energy in many people, so it would be difficult to know if this benefit is specific to Moringa or just a result of consuming more nutrients in general.

Cautions about Moringa

Like many herbs and plants used as remedies, certain parts of the plant are beneficial while others can be harmful in some way. This is true with elderberries, which are excellent at helping boost the immune system, but whose leave and stems should be avoided because of the natural Cyanogenic glycoside content, which is toxic to humans.

The leaves of the Moringa oleifera tree are generally considered to be safe and edible, but there is some controversy regarding the roots and stems and their potentially harmful effects, especially in women. These parts of the plant may not only act as a contraceptive (both temporary or permanent) but may also lead to miscarriage and other problems. (15)

Important: some sources claim that the leaves have this effect as well, and I personally avoid Moringa for this reason until further research emerges.

There is research showing a potentially immunosuppressive and cytotoxic effect of the seeds of the plant, and extracts or supplements that contain the roots, seeds and stems should be avoided for this reason until more research is done. (16)

Additionally, the leaves of the plant have been shown to have a mildly laxative effect and may cause digestive disturbances in some people.

Some sources recommend avoiding Moringa entirely as the nutrients it contains can be easily obtained from other sources and a well-balanced diet.

How to Use Moringa

Moringa seems to be most potent when fresh, and since the tree readily grows in most climates, it is possible to cultivate the plant for use as an herbal remedy. Dr. Mercola reports that he has done this but doesn’t recommend it because the leaves are very small and time consuming to harvest. (17)

It is also available in many forms like dried leaves and capsules, though due to its possible effects on hormones and cholesterol, it is important to check with a doctor or specialist before using.

Bottom Line

There are definitely some potential benefits to Moringa, especially in countries where malnourishment is widespread, but it isn’t as exceptional of a nutrient source as it is often claimed to be and there may be much better sources of these important nutrients for those who live in the developed world.

Additionally, the potentially negative effects on hormones and fertility warrant caution and are the reason I avoid using this plant, at least until more research is done.

Benefits of Onions: A Surefire Home Remedy in Your Kitchen

If vegetables could be superheroes, onions would definitely be at the top of the list. This unassuming root vegetable boasts an impressive host of health benefits. Onions are also endlessly versatile, and the fact that most of us already have a few on hand at all times makes them an ideal home remedyyou can whip up when a cold or flu is coming on.

The Powerful Health Benefits of Onions

Onions and garlic are both in the allium family and share many of the same health benefits. The word allium literally means “I smell,” and we all know onions are certainly known for their pungent scent.

Onions are potent in other ways too. They contain high levels of vitamin C, folate, potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, potassium, and calcium. They are also high in the antioxidant quercetin.

Quercetin has been shown to protect against many different types of cancer in the body, boosts immune response, and is even used to help with cataracts. The quercetin in onions has also been studied for its ability to improve heart health, prevent heart disease, and keep blood flowing freely throughout the body when used daily.

Yellow onions generally have more quercetin than red or white onions (and are usually the most affordable anyway!).

Other Interesting Facts about Onions

Onions are high in sulfuric compounds that have been shown to kill even salmonella and E. coli. These compounds also help prevent cancer and heart disease.
In the past it was recommended to place bowls of onions around the room so they would absorb any germs around.
Onions build both bone and mineral density to help prevent osteoporosis.
Onions are so healthy, that even in this study when they were fried, they increased blood quercetin from 28.4 ng/ml to 248.4 ng/ml. It also increased participants’ overall antioxidant ability.
Chewing on raw onion will relieve a toothache, kill germs, and help prevent tooth and gum disorders. Just be sure to brush your teeth really well afterward!
Onions are full of fructooligosaccharides that encourage beneficial bacteria, yet target harmful bacteria in the gut.
Onions lower blood sugar levels and improve insulin levels.
7 Onion Home Remedies You Can Count On

Onions can be used in many different home remedies. Here are seven of my personal favorites:

1. Onion Poultice to Relieve Congestion and Coughing

Onions work like an expectorant. They help break up mucus and congestion in the chest and reduce spasmodic coughs.

Onions work best for a chest poultice if they’re heated first. To break up chest congestion and soothe a spastic cough, you can apply a poultice externally, or take an onion syrup or tincture internally.

How to make an onion poultice:

Slice or dice an onion, add 1 tablespoon of water, and cook until the water evaporates.
Allow the onion to cool to a comfortable temperature, then wrap the onion in a small towel, like a tea towel. Gather the ends of the towel together and secure with a rubber band.
Place the poultice on the chest or back and leave it for 30 minutes, repeating the process every 3 hours or until the symptoms are gone.
An onion poultice is smelly for sure. To help with this I sometimes apply the poultice to the feet, wrap them in cloth or plastic, and cover with socks.

2. “Fire Cider” Immunity Booster

Fire cider is an age-old remedy made from onions, horseradish, garlic, cayenne pepper, and other aromatic plants steeped in apple cider vinegar. Onions are used in this recipe because of their potent antiviral and antibacterial compounds and their ability to support the immune system. You can get my easy recipe for fire cider (I call it “Spicy Cider”) here.

3. Onion Honey Syrup

An onion syrup is a delicious way to take your medicine. Some people use sugar to make a more traditional syrup but I prefer to use raw honey for even more health benefits. Take onion honey syrup for any cold or flu, especially if a cough or congestion is present. You can also take a spoonful every day during the winter months to help keep sickness away.

Don’t go overboard with drinking this, though, as too much can cause digestive issues.

To make an onion honey syrup:

Thinly slice an onion and add it to a saucepan. Pour honey over the onion, just until covered. You should only need about ½ cup, maybe less.
Gently heat the honey over very low heat until the onions are soft and translucent. You don’t want the mixture to get over 115 degrees, or the honey will no longer be raw.
Take a spoonful of the onion honey every 3-4 hours, or until symptoms subside. To use as a preventative measure, take a spoonful or two every day during flu season.
4. Onions for Ear Infections

You may have used garlic oil for an ear infection in your kids before, but onion can be used in much the same way. A roasted or baked onion half can be cooled to a comfortable warmth and placed on the ear. This helps to relieve painful inflammation and fight the bacterial or viral infection in the ear. You can also squeeze the juice from the onion and place a few drops in the ear.

Be sure that the onion mixture is very well strained, since you don’t want any onion pieces in the ear. And never put anything in the ear if you suspect that there’s a possibility of a ruptured ear drum!

It’s always best to treat both ears even if your child only complains of pain in one, since the infection frequently spreads to both ears eventually.

5. Onion Soup

Soup is one of the easiest and tastiest ways to get more onion into your diet. Save your onion peels and add them to chicken bones and other veggies when you make bone broth. Researchers in this study thought that the onion as a whole, including the onion skin, contains higher levels of quercetin than just the onion alone. This means that saving your onion skins for a nutritious broth not only adds flavor, but potentially boosts the nutritional value more than the part you would eat.

My soothing garlic soup recipe includes onion and packs a powerful anti-sickness punch. You can also make some French onion soup to drink. The healing goodness of onion soup not only helps the body fight colds and flu but also bladder, kidney, and chronic urinary tract infections.

6. Onions for Sore Muscles, Sprains, and Strains

Onions are rubefacient, meaning they draw blood to the surface of the skin and increase circulation. The ancient Greeks rubbed onions on sore muscles to stimulate and warm them. Onions also reduce inflammation, making them perfect for bruises, strains, sprains, and even rheumatism. Just apply an onion poultice (above) to the affected area.

7. Onions to Draw Out Infection

Onions have been used for centuries to remove infection from damaged skin. Their properties will draw out pus from boils, bee stings, and the poison from an insect bite or bee sting. You can apply a fresh onion slice or onion poultice to the affected area.

How to Choose a Good Greens Powder

You can’t out-supplement a poor diet (or sleep and stress levels). But even with a perfect diet, it is still possible to experience nutrient deficiencies because modern foods can be deficient in certain essential nutrients. To ensure that we get enough of these, I personally use and recommend a whole food source multivitamin like in a greens superfood powder.

What is a Greens Superfood Powder?

In short, a green superfood powder is many servings of vegetables and superfoods in a scoop of water-soluble powder. In addition to veggies and superfoods, the powder may also contain other health-supporting ingredients like probiotics and immune-supporting herbs.

Why Greens Supplement?

An ancestral and whole-foods diet may be a significant step up from the Standard American Diet that has a lot of grains, vegetable oil, and processed ingredients. However, there are many reasons even the seemingly healthy diet alone might still not provide enough micronutrients and antioxidants.

Our Soil is Depleted from Minerals and Good Bacteria

Over the last 100 years, industrial farming has depleted the most nutritious topsoil from important minerals and beneficial soil bacteria that would grow the healthiest foods. As a result, the vegetables in our food supplies also have less mineral density. The reduction of minerals in our foods, as well as the fertilizers and pesticides, may be a contributor to diseases of civilization.

Reduced Food Diversity and Wild Varieties

On Chris Kresser’s podcast, Dr. Thomas Cowan, MD said that healthy hunter-gatherer humans ate a much wider variety of vegetables than we do today, up to 20 species per day and 100 species throughout the year. The supermarket vegetables we normally eat have been bred to have more uniform shapes and sizes, with higher sugar content and less bitterness, which also means less micronutrients and phytonutrients than the wild vegetables.

Reduced Nutrient Density in Vegetables

These vegetables may have been harvested weeks and traveled thousands of miles before they reach your table.

Modern Lifestyle Depletes Vitamins and Minerals

The modern lifestyle, with chronic stressors and pollutions all around us, increases our needs for micronutrients. We need more B vitamins and magnesium to deal with stress. We also need more B vitamins, selenium, and antioxidants to remove the chemicals that we are exposed to.

In the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the world leading nutrition researcher Dr. Bruce Ames wrote that low micronutrient status can lead to metabolic disruption, mitochondrial decay, cellular aging, and increased DNA mutation (source).

These can lead to fatigue, hormone imbalances, poor immune function, weight gain, and increased risks of cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. Therefore, supplementation with a multivitamin and mineral is a recommended as a cost-effective way to prevent nutrient deficiencies.

Greens Powder vs Vitamins

As a general rule, it is better to get your micronutrients from whole foods than from synthetic or isolated vitamins. First, nutrients that are present together in whole food sources often work in synergy, like vitamin C and bioflavonoids in fruits or vitamins A and D in egg yolks, cod liver oil and butter. Second, micronutrients in whole foods are generally more bioavailable than the synthetic forms. Third, there are still important nutrients and phytochemicals in plants that we have yet to discover.

Because a greens supplement provides vitamins from nutrient-dense whole food sources, it is a great way to ensure that you get sufficient amounts of micronutrients and antioxidants. The soil may be depleted from minerals, but the sea is not. Therefore, you want to get a greens supplement that includes some marine sources of nutrients.

Most vitamins, especially B vitamins, are stimulants. Many people find B vitamins so stimulating that it causes heart palpitations and anxiety. Whereas, vitamins from whole food sources, with the natural nutrient forms and synergies, are less likely to cause this problem. You may have eaten foods high in B vitamins like vegetables or liver without the heart palpitations. Since it’s also a whole food, greens powder can help with fatigue and hormone balance without the excess stimulation.

Problems with (Most) Green Powder Products on the Market

There are a LOT of greens powders out there, but not all are created equal.

Most Greens Powders Taste Terrible

Vegetables, especially the more nutrient-dense ones, are good for you. Unfortunately, it’s hard to make vegetables taste good, especially when you try to condense as many as 12 servings of vegetable into a single scoop.

In order to make the green powders taste palatable, many manufacturers use potentially harmful ingredients, such as:

artificial sweeteners
sugar
emulsifiers or thickeners to maintain texture for mouthfeel
artificial colors
non-organic or GMO ingredients
The Processing May Destroy Beneficial Nutrients and Antioxidants

Creating a greens superfood powder is technologically difficult because many vitamins and phytochemicals are very sensitive to heat, light, and certain forms of chemical?processing. The vegetables in the greens powder have to be gently freeze-dried into water-soluble powders in order to preserve the nutrients. Whereas, in order to make use of single-celled algae, the manufacturer may need to harshly crack the cell walls of these algae to make nutrients inside the cells available.

Therefore, you want to make sure that you purchase the greens powder from a reputable company that understands the biology of the superfoods they include in their products and confirm the presence of intact nutrients in the final products.

The Greens Powder that I Use

I’ve tried many greens powders over the years, but my current favorite one that my family is taking regularly is Spring of Life Daily energy. I like it because it is easy to mix, tastes great, and doesn’t have any of the harmful ingredients I mentioned above. Just a single scoop of it provides the antioxidant equivalent of 12 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables from 75 different species of plants. I love that it is gluten-free, made without GMOs, and free of allergens and other harmful ingredients.

The Pros

Well-researched ingredients for nutrient synergy and diversity
Contains both land and marine sources of nutrients, which ensures the presence of microminerals that are lacking from the soil
Contains active forms of B vitamins and methyl donors, such as methyl folate and methylcobalamin, which means that it is a good supplement for people with methylation problems
Includes non-dairy probiotics and prebiotics
Contains digestive and systemic enzymes which can support digestive health and help reduce inflammation
Contains herbs that support the immune system, detoxification and the adrenals
The Cons

While I’m a big fan of this greens powder, people with specific health concerns may react to certain ingredients, including:

Allergies and food sensitivities to the ingredients may warrant some bad reactions
Those with small intestine bacterial overgrowth may react badly to the probiotics and inulin in the green powder.
Several herbs in the greens powder stimulate the Th1 immune system (astragalus, shitake and reishi mushrooms), while others stimulate the Th2 immune system (green tea, grapeseed extract, gotu kola). Therefore, this product may be contraindicated for people with autoimmune diseases, especially during a flare.
There are many green superfood powders on the market (and lots more popping up everyday!), so make sure to do your research before choosing one for you family.