Botanical Nutrition

by Rob Seeman official blogger of the health food movement


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Discover blue magic (for your tea and your body) : Butterfly Pea flower tea

Butterfly-Pea-Flower-tea---TFMAhh the magic of nature.  It is truly everywhere we look, if we are looking with the right vision. Is it not?

There are many kinds of amazing and colorful flowers that are made into herbal teas; but one stands alone as a truly unique specimen – until recently rarely seen in the US – and that is Butterfly Pea Flower tea.

The Butterfly Pea flower (Clitoria ternatea) is native to many South Asian countries, including Thailand, Malaysia and Burma.  It has a number of very interesting properties – including its wide range use as a traditional medicinal herb in the Ayurvedic tradition. Medicine Hunter Chris Kilham tells us that in Ayurveda it is considered to be something that “ameliorates the wrath of the god of karma,” as well as a pleasant and commonly enjoyed herbal tea.

One of the most instantly apparent novel things about the tea has earned it the nickname the “color changing tea” – because of just that! Depending on the pH of a solution, whether it is very acid or alkaline, a tea made from the flowers of Butterfly pea can change very much in color.  When extracted in purified water it is a rich blue, then by simply adding lemon juice (with a very acidic pH) we can see the tea make a dramatic shift to bright purple!

The novelty of its vibrant blue (and various other hues) color aside, Butterfly Pea Flower tea has been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine.  It is also increasingly being validated by modern scientific exploration.  The plant pigments that make it colorful also make it highly antioxidant, with a higher ORAC value than many plants.  However, the magic doesn’t just stop there.

A 2008 article in the Journal of Pharmacology found that it has been “used for centuries as a memory enhancer, nootropic, antistress, anxiolytic, antidepressant, anticonvulsant, tranquilizing and sedative agent.”  Researchers also concluded that its extracts “possess a wide range of pharmacological activities including antimicrobial, antipyretic, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, diuretic, local anesthetic, antidiabetic, insecticidal, blood platelet aggregation-inhibiting and for use as a vascular smooth muscle relaxing properties.”

Dr Al Sears has written about the herb, called Bunga telang in Bali, and its use in traditional Bali herbal medicine for memory, for eye problems, and even for serious diseases like cancer. It is one of the only plants that contains a chemical called cyclotides. Researchers in the journal Oncology Letters have even researched cyclotides from Butterfly Pea flower tea against certain kinds of drug-resistant lung cancer.

Much more than just a color-changing novelty used in cocktails or food (although that is pretty nifty huh?) behind that magic BLUE color we find that Butterfly Pea Flower tea may have some impressive benefits for the body – and the mind.

In India, scientists have demonstrated that treatment with just 100 mg. of Butterfly Pea flower extract can increase acetyl-choline. The researchers stated “increase in ACh content in their hippocampus may be the neurochemical basis for their improved learning and memory.” Acetyl choline is an essential neurotransmitter and a major factor in central nervous system functioning.


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Whole Earth Radio Episode 3

So you say you want a revolution? The battle for the heart and soul of natural living rages on.  Which side are you on and which side will you choose?  The ensuing battle isn’t just about how we SHOP, it is about how we LIVE – and in result about the fate of our PLANET.  What more important revolution could there possibly be? All right! All right!

Listen to Whole Earth Radio now :

WHOLE EARTH RADIO Episode 3


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Dulse Sea Vegetable : Amazing Nutrition from the Ocean

Let me just say this – if you’re not eating sea veggies you are missing out.  We talk a lot about super foods; but I can say with absolute certainty there are few foods that rival the nutritional benefits from seaweed.

There are many varieties of sea veggies; Kelp, Nori, Wakame, Irish Moss – the list goes on and on.  Some of them are savory and slightly sweet, others more bitter or earthy tasting.  One of the most beneficial kinds of sea vegetable for my money is Dulse (Palmaria palmata) a vegetable that grows in the North regions of the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans.

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Dulse has a really nice umami sort of taste to it, and some folks even use it as a plant-based substitute for Bacon flavoring.  Ever tried a DLT (Dulse, lettuce and tomato) sandwich?  Try it and you might be surprised.

In addition to being a very flavorful food, Dulse has a host of health benefits.  Like all sea veggies, it contains a wide variety of beneficial trace minerals, including energizing electrolytes and the essential nutrient Iodine.  A growing body of research suggests that Americans may be largely deficient in Iodine, some even going so far as to label the deficiency a public health crisis.

But it isn’t just the minerals, like Iodine, that Dulse contains.  Scientific research published in the journal Food Research International indicates that the phycobiliproteins and chlorophyll in Dulse contribute to an anti-inflammatory effect.  Inflammation is one of the leading cause of negative health outcomes, and a major contributor to pain and discomfort in the body.

Another study showed that these same compounds in Dulse can inhibit ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme).  The Mayo Clinic says this about ACE inhibitors “Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors help relax blood vessels. ACE inhibitors prevent an enzyme in your body from producing angiotensin II, a substance in your body that narrows your blood vessels and releases hormones that can raise your blood pressure. This narrowing can cause high blood pressure and force your heart to work harder.”

When you add a sea vegetable like Dulse into your diet, you aren’t just satisfying your taste buds – you also satisfy your hunger (iodine being a major factor in normal thyroid function), you are re-energizing your entire system with trace mineral nutrients that work on every level of the human body to help promote balance.  You’re also quite possibly helping to relax blood vessels and fight inflammation at a cellular level.

In short – if you don’t have Dulse in your cupboard, you might be missing out!


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Super Hemp CBD video

New product review on Super Hemp CBD

Explains quickly and easily why you should be interested in this exciting ‘new’ dietary supplement from the Food Movement. This pioneering extract of CBD (cannabidiol) from industrial hemp is a safe and legal product offering new options for consumers.hempmovement

Because dietary supplements are regulated by the FDA, no one selling Hemp CBD can make health claims.  But an ever-growing body of research suggests that they may just be of immense benefit.  The video explainer above gives you some insights into the product and also a $10 coupon code SAVEONSUPERHEMP for your first order!

Join the Hemp Movement today!


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Food Movement Fights Hunger Globally and Locally

The Food Movement Co is an Illinois-based company manufacturing and distributing organic super foods and bioactive dietary supplements.  Part of the Food Movement’s mission is also to donate to hunger relief groups.

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In 2015, for the first time, the Food Movement decided to support both a local group (Chicago Food Depository) and Trees for Life, a group working globally to stop famine in Africa and other important locations.  Every purchase you make from the Food Movement  helps to support this mission.

For more information on the important work behind these groups http://www.treesforlife.org and http://www.chicagosfoodbank.org/site/PageServer visit them online and find out how you can further support their work.  Long live the Food Movement!


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Which kind of Maca is right for me? US consumers enjoy a rainbow of super food options

big maca root

Maca root, used for centuries in Central and South America, has become increasingly popular in the U.S.  Personally I believe the reason that it is becoming popular is because it has energizing health benefits you can really feel! I don’t mean ‘energizing’ in that it contains caffeine or other stimulants, because it doesn’t.  Maca root provides energy because it is an adaptogen, and in particular it can help to balance our endocrine system which manages hormones in the body.

In recent months a wider variety of Maca root has come to market here, expanding to the culture use of different varieties or ecotypes – Red Maca, Black Maca and the more common Yellow Maca, as well as more specific varieties.  The color refers to the outside of the root hypocotyl (that bulbous stem which looks sort of like a radish); the inside of the plant is usually sort of tan or beige in color.

Scientific research has compared the activities of these different phenotypes of Maca and found that in addition to different appearances, they also have different chemical makeup and properties. I have provided the PMID numbers after the studies mentioned so that you can do your own research on PubMed if you choose.

Red Maca – There is a doctor in Chicago who has had great success recommending Red Maca specifically for women with menopause.  This is not surprising considering Maca’s strongest ability to balance hormones with its natural and safe steroidal saponins. Studies have also indicated that it specifically works to protect the prostate where there is dysfunction.

Black Maca – Black Maca is well-known as an aphrodisiac, and has been shown in studies to be the strongest spermatogenic.  This may be useful for women trying to conceive a child, as well as their partner, to know!

Yellow Maca – This is the most widely available type of Maca, and like the others, has been studied for promoting endocrine system (endogeneous hormones) balance.

How do they compare?  Researchers at Universidad Peruana Cayetano Herediam in Lima Peru found that both Black and Red Maca could be protective of the uterus without having an estrogenic effect. (PMID:20616517)  The same researchers found that Red Maca reduced prostate size and zinc volume in animals with BPH (enlarged prostate). (PMID:2176218).  In another study, researchers found that both Black and Yellow Maca, but not Red Maca, could increase the production of sperm. (PMID:17683465)

In another research review, the overall experimental results were summarized this way “There are different types of maca with different colors ranging from white to black. We have studied the pharmacological effects of 3 types; yellow, black, and red maca. Evidence from experimental studies indicates effects of maca on nutrition, fertility, memory, and mood. Black maca has better effects on sperm production than yellow maca which has only moderate effects. Red maca, however, has no effect on sperm production. However, red maca has been shown to reduce prostate size in rats in which prostate hyperplasia had been induced with testosterone enanthate; yellow maca has shown moderate effects here, whereas black maca has not shown any effects. Randomized clinical trials have shown that maca has favorable effects on energy and mood, may decrease anxiety and improve sexual desire.” (PMID:20090350)

All of this evidence supports the idea that, while there is difference between the different ecotypes; Red, Black and Yellow Maca are all adaptogenic foods which can be used by anyone.  Remember Maca is traditionally used as a FOOD, and we should think of it as a FOOD first. This is not a drug in the pharmacological sense. One may favor the results from taking a certain variety, and many anecdotal reports from super food users support this.  For anyone looking for better health, and hormonal balance, the best Maca is the one you personally enjoy the most. Cheers!