Cigarettes, alcohol and sugar have something in common: they all make us feel more alive. I knew that I was deep into my healing process when I started to develop compassion for my so-called bad habits. I actually started to thank sugar for the role it played in my life!
The truth is, we don’t engage in any activity that doesn’t benefit us in some way, so please, please, please, ease up on your self.
Wellness doesn’t always look like yoga with green drinks and giggles.
Sometimes it looks like working in the trenches, just trying to survive…with blood, sweat, and tears.
Make a decision right now to stop comparing your journey to someone else’s. We are all fighting invisible battles with advantages and disadvantages on all sides.
And we give up our vices when we are good and ready. So if you are going to continue to smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, and eat sugar, I am going to show you how you can help protect yourself.
You can think of what I am about to teach you as things that you can add to your life that will make your light shine brighter, effectively pushing out the dark riders. This is distinct from pulling the rug out from under your self with nothing to stand on.
I wish I had known about these things 14 years ago when I gave up sugar. I gave up my drug of choice when I was sick with an acute mononucleosis infection. My vitality was at an all-time low, and I eliminated the very thing that was giving me life. I ended up with panic attacks and unimaginable fatigue. I couldn’t hold down a job. Everything was a big fat mess.
Yes, there are other ways to do this! That said, my journey took me where I needed to go and so will yours. I can only hope that these tips will help!
The number one herb I turn to for this type of support is Cynara scolymus, commonly known as globe artichoke. Many people are familiar with the food called artichoke, which is part of the plant called the bract that we dip into butter, lemon, and garlic sauce (yum!). What I am specifically referring to here are the leaves of globe artichoke. That is the medicine…
Very bitter medicine. It kind of reminds me of burnt popcorn that, well, just came out of the ground.
While that may sound unappealing, it’s a very good thing. The bitter taste is missing from our diet, and we need it now more than ever, so pucker up and go for it!
Globe artichoke leaves are profoundly good for your liver. Many people are familiar with milk thistle for liver support. Globe artichoke is like milk thistle on crack.
It has a protective effect on the liver and exhibits cleansing properties. It maintains healthy bile production and flow, which is a key component to good digestion, particularly when it comes to breaking down fats and having amazing bowel movements.
There are two ways that I like to take globe artichoke:
- You can buy dried leaves in bulk from vendors like Pacific Botanicals and Mountain Rose Herbs to make a bitter tea. Steep a heaping tablespoon in a quart of hot water with a dash of peppermint leaves to round out the flavor for 20 minutes. Strain and drink throughout the day.
- I also like Globe Artichoke 1:2 liquid extract from MediHerb, available through health professionals. Take 2.5 mLs diluted in an ounce of water before each meal.
***If you have gallstones, please be aware that bile-enhancing herbs may not be your best option. It is best to consult with your holistic health professional.
Curcuma longa, also known as turmeric, is another winner when it comes to offering your body a layer of protection.
Remember, we can limit our thinking to the organ we call the liver OR we can expand our perspective to include every single cell in our bodies. The latter option seems much more exciting, right? So think of each cell as a mini version of you, and when you turn on liver function with bitter herbs, then you just improved the function and detoxification capacity of ALL of your cells.
Besides supporting the liver energy in your body, there is another thing you can do: support your microvascular circulation.
Insulin, the hormone secreted from your pancreas to regulate your blood sugar in the face of smoking, alcohol, and sugar…constricts blood flow in the peripheral parts of your body, like your fingers, hands, toes, feet, brain, (and yes, men, your penises) and in tissues like the retina, long nerves, bones, joints, liver and kidney.
This is where much of the damage comes from with nicotine and refined carbohydrates and where many of our age-related diseases manifest, but there is something you can do…
The final piece of guidance I have for you comes from my mentor Kerry Bone, herbalist, teacher, biochemist and founder of MediHerb. He calls it his 5-Point Dietary Plan for Healthy Microvascular Circulation. It is brilliant and effective.
- Boost dietary nitrate.
Beets accumulate nitrates, which promote nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide will support healthy microvascular circulation and blood pressure. Nitric oxide is water soluble, so it is best to bake or juice your beets, not steam them, for the most benefit.
- Increase cocoa intake.
There are 30 grams in one ounce, so this is not a lot of chocolate. Cocoa has been shown to stabilize endothelial function of the blood vessels when stressed by high blood sugar.
- Increase berry anthocyanin intake.
This would include blueberries (considered less active than bilberry), strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, even pomegranate. Berries improve the integrity of connective tissue, which as a part of blood vessels is essential to healthy circulation.
- Raw crushed garlic: ½ to 1 clove per day.
Garlic demonstrates blood-thinning activity. It also dilates the microvascular system: specific compounds in garlic interact with the red blood cells to produce hydrogen sulfide, which is a gas involved in cellular communication that relaxes the blood vessels. You can easily add fresh, raw garlic to your salad dressing and meals.
One suggestion is to chop a garlic clove and add it to a shot glass. Cover it with honey and stir. Use a spoon to scoop it out of the shot glass and place the garlic honey mixture at the back of your throat and then swallow with a drink of water (no need to chew). The honey helps to mitigate any excess heat from the garlic that can irritate some people.
- Increase herbs and spices: green tea, turmeric, and ginger.
It is important to note that while any single one of these things is good for you, the synergy of all five is what creates meaningful, physiological change in the body.
I just heard someone say the other day that an overnight success is really ten years of work. So it goes with the healing process. Start where you start. Guilt and shame are not healing emotions. They only point to the need for reflection and compassion and self-love.
And if you take one step forward and ten steps back, acknowledge that you did take one step forward.
May you smoke your cigarettes, drink your alcohol, and eat your sugar in peace, my friends.
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Please remember that I do not diagnose or treat disease. If you have immediate health concerns, please consult your medical doctor immediately.
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