Monday, September 28, 2015

Supplies: Make your own Herbal Capsules

If you're like me and have purchased many different types of supplements over the last several years, you might want to start thinking about more efficient ways to deliver those herbal remedies with a fraction of the cost.  Actually, it's not just about monetary reasons, but more about the quality and the absence of those hidden and unwanted ingredients, binders, etc. Think about it...  Do you really know what all is in those supplements that you commonly buy online or at your local health store?

I'm dividing this subject into two parts.  The first subject, from a previous post, is entitled "Supplies: Make your own Herbal Tinctures."  The second subject, on this post, will involve the supplies that you will need to make your own herbal capsules - which is the method I prefer.

Not only is it fun to start making your own herbal supplements, it gives you a sense of independence and a peace of mind from knowing exactly what is put into those capsules.  My last project involved milk thistle seeds.  I made a fine powder from the healthy organic seeds that I use to mix into juice and to fill my empty capsules.  I plan on making my own ginseng supplements, turmeric, powdered hot pepper capsules, etc., in the future.  There's a broad range of herbal substances you can dry out and create a powder from, so if you have a decent knowledge about herb-related health benefits, your options and combinations are seemingly endless.

Okay, well, let's get down to the small amount of supplies that you will need to do this.  First of all, to make a powder out of dried herbs, some people use different things.  Take a mortar & pestle, for example.  Some folks like to chop 'em up in a traditional blender, as well.  But to me, the instrument that works the best for creating a very fine powder that allows for easy absorption within the body and that pulverizes the herbs within the shortest amount of time, is the coffee/herb grinder.  These little gadgets can turn hard seeds into powder in hardly any time at all.  Plus, they don't take up hardly any room at all.  The one shown below, is the coffee grinder that I recently purchased online, and I am more than satisfied with it.

* To browse through a selection of coffee grinders from Amazon, click the image below:
Next up on the list of supplies that you will need, is the empty gelatin capsules. I like the '00' size because it allows me to put about 1000 mg. of whole crushed herb into each pill.  Since it will be completely natural and not the "extract" version of one particular chemical compound of an herb, you will generally need to consume more of it.  Personally, I think it is much more bio-available and overall better for the body to consume herbal supplements in their natural state, but that's another subject entirely.

* To browse through a selection of empty gelatin capsules from Amazon, click the image below:

Even though it hasn't been a problem for me, as of yet, filling the empty capsules by hand may be a bit too tedious and time-consuming for some folks.  If that's the case, you may need additional supplies, such as the capsule filling machine.  It is a simple device that allows you to place the big part of the empty capsules in a "machine" (not really a machine by my standards) and the smaller part into the cover.  From there, you dump your herbal ingredients into the holding plate or whatever, and put the cover on.  Then, you lift up on it and the capsules will all be assembled just like that.  I'm not promoting this overrated and overpriced (for what it is) product, but if you're interested just do a search for "capsule filling machine" or something similar; cheers!

---End of Post "Supplies: Make your own Herbal Capsules"

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Supplies: Make your own Herbal Tinctures

If you're like me and have bought various types of supplements online over the last several years, you might want to start thinking about more efficient ways to deliver those herbal remedies with a fraction of the cost.  Actually, it's not just about the money, but more about the quality and the absence of hidden, mysterious, unwanted ingredients, binders, etc. Think about it...  Do you really know what all is in those supplements that you commonly buy online or at your local health store?

I'm dividing this subject into two parts.  The first subject, on this post, is entitled "Supplies: Make your own Herbal Tinctures."  The second subject, which I'll write next on another post, will involve the supplies you will need to make your own herbal capsules - which is the method I prefer.

Personally, I never use tinctures since I don't mind taking numerous amounts of herbal capsules daily. However, when the tinctures are made with alcohol, the potency of the herbs will last a long time, to say the least.  Oh, that reminds me, some of the folks that are against alcohol often choose to use vinegar as the tincture base instead, although it will not be as potent nor will it last as long, but whatever floats your boat.  Alcohol is well-known for its ability to extract those beneficial compounds from the whole herbs at a more effective rate, but that is another subject entirely.  But for those worried about alcohol extracts, fear not.  You would only be consuming a few drops of the diluted stuff and it wouldn't even register on the scale of drinking.

Now that we have gotten the intro out of the way, let's move on to the supplies that you will need.  You will need mason jars (or something similar with a lid) to store the initial tincture mixture.  You will need 100 proof alcohol (vodka) or for a weaker tincture you will need vinegar or water to add to the vodka (why would you do that?).  Most people mix about 1 to 2 cups of whole crushed herb for every 1 to 2 cups of 100 proof vodka for most herbal tincture recipes.  You will mix this in a mason jar and let it set for about 6 weeks or thereabouts.  Every day or two (at least once or twice a week), make sure to shake it around a bit to help with the extraction process.

When your mixture is ready, you will now need a strainer, a tiny funnel, and some little tincture bottles with the dropper thingy.  You first pour the mixture through a strainer and into another jar, which will be your pure, filtered tincture that you will be using.  Now, you just need to funnel it into the dropper bottles.  Depending on what type of herb it actually is, you use the tincture daily or whenever needed by simply adding several drops of the extract into water or whatever beverage you like to add it to.  Yep, simple as that.  As you can see, it really doesn't call for a lot of supplies.  It just takes several weeks to extract the herb into the solution, but that's not a big deal.  Tinctures are mainly for convenience anyway, but, like I said before, I'd much rather supplement my diet by taking the whole herb in capsule form; cheers!

* If you're in need of some of those cool-looking tincture bottles with the dropper tops, Amazon has a decent selection.  If you'd like to browse through a few, click the image below:

---End of Post "Supplies: Make your own Herbal Tinctures"

Monday, May 25, 2015

How many days of rest should you allow for building muscle?

This particular query can't be answered with a universally numerical conclusion.  Many variables factor into how many days of rest one should have for optimal muscle building results.  However, I will go over a few scenarios in hopes that it helps paint a clearer picture.

First of all, no matter what type of Health & Fitness Guru Blog you are reading from, the best knowledge comes from personal experience.  Yeah, the stuff you have personally tried, tested and adjusted to your own genetic makeup.

While browsing through the Internet, I was surprised to see many of the health blogs saying the exact same answer, which was 24 to 48 hours of rest between workouts.  Personally, I disagree. For one, what type of workout?  How intense is it?  Are you concentrating on certain muscle groups per each workout or are you taking the shotgun approach?  How old are you?  Are you a beginner just starting to workout or are you a professional bodybuilder building massive muscles?  All of these things and many more factor into how many days of rest your muscles need for optimal growth and/or safe methods of building lean body mass.

The small groups of muscles like what are found in your forearms, for example, could be worked thoroughly almost daily while larger muscles like what are found in your chest, shoulders, hamstrings, etc., will most likely need more time to fully recover from a hard workout.  Your genetic makeup, hormone levels, overall health, age, hours of daily sleep, and so on, all affect how quickly your body recovers.

I have heard of many professional bodybuilders training 6 days a week, with only one off day.  But guess what?  They only train certain groups of muscles once a week.  Yep, so that means that they allow 7 days of rest per muscle group for building mass quantities of muscle.  However, you can rest assured that they totally tear down each muscle group during those days of pumping iron/working out.

The other thing you need to do is simply listen to your own body.  If you go back to the bench press and you still feel weak from a workout you did a couple days ago, wait a few more days before trying again.  I try to wait an extra day or two after I feel ready for another intense weightlifting session.  Always try to keep in mind, your muscles grow when you are resting, not when working 'em to the point of exhaustion.

With that being said, aerobic-style workouts don't really need "days of rest" in between, but it never hurts to have a couple off days during the week, right?  As for building muscle, lifting weights, intense training, etc., I like to take 6 to 7 days off between working that same muscle again.  For optimal gains, even if I was in a big rush, I still wouldn't want to take any less than 4 or 5 days off, but that's just my opinion; cheers!

Image Credit:

End of Post "How many days of rest should you allow for building muscle?"

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Does Vitamin C help with Muscle Soreness?

Now here is another debatable subject in the health & fitness genre...  Does the antioxidant properties of the beloved Vitamin C really have much impact when concerning muscle soreness?  I suppose the best answer may be:  "It couldn't hurt."

Before we go any further, there are now major debates and issues with what causes muscle soreness.  Yeah, can you believe that?  Ha!  But seriously, now that many trending scientific articles say that lactic acid isn't to blame for that delayed soreness you feel after an intense workout the next day or even the day after the next, things have gotten a bit complicated and, uh, stupid.

Of course lactic acid buildup would actually cause soreness, but since the lactic acid is said to leave the area quickly after your moments of exertion, they are blaming it mostly on microscopic muscle tears.  This sounds cute and all, but why can you simply get sore from an odd movement, prolonged flexing, or even cramps, for example?  Does that involve microscopic tissue tears?  LOL! Muscular acidosis can occur any time your oxygen is depleted in a certain area of your muscles, but that's another subject.

Before anybody gets their panties in a wad, of course a lot of the soreness comes from muscle tears and strains, whether it is micro or macro in size.  However, to sweep lactic acid under the rug while ignoring all of the other metabolic byproducts that occur at the scene of stress during strenuous exercise, is a bit ignorant to say the least.  At any rate, let's just drop the whole "what causes muscle soreness?" debate, and quickly move right through this Vitamin C craze.

In a thumbnail, Vitamin C can help pull out some of the acid buildup and byproducts that puddle around the strained muscles in question.  It is no miracle cure or anything, but there is some evidence that shows it could help.  The inflammation and tissue damage that occurs is a good thing, though, if you plan on building bigger muscles.  As you should all know, your muscles grow while resting, not when getting worked and/or stripped down during intense exercise. I've read some scientific evidence before that states that taking too many anti-inflammatory substances to combat muscle soreness may actually hinder the recovery process.  Hey, what's that old adage again: "No pain; no gain!"  Anyway...

Vitamin C can also help build collagen, which is very important for the repair of connective tissues, muscles, etc.  In fact, if you don't believe me, perform a quick web search with the keywords "collagen helps build muscles" or "how exercising produces collagen" or "vitamin c helps build collagen," and so on.

I may have slightly got off topic here, but the point is, Vitamin C definitely doesn't hurt anything when concerning muscle soreness and the recovery process. 

Image Credit/Source:

End of Post "Does Vitamin C help with Muscle Soreness?"

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Eating every 3 hours is not required for Bodybuilding

This particular 'frequent eating for bodybuilding' subject has really gained momentum over the last few years.  I'm not exactly sure why, but, like most things, it has probably propagated online more than anywhere else.

At any gluttonous rate, there are some pros to eating smaller, more frequent meals for some folks. Will it ultimately lead to enhanced muscle growth?  Not normally.  I'm yet to see any conclusive evidence that proves that eating protein (or whatever) every 3 hours is required for enhanced muscle growth, when compared to the traditional 3 meals a day - with or without a few snacks.

Two primary food-related things to factor in outside of your exercise regimen for the semi-normal person that isn't taking steroids and/or growth hormones:  1) Total caloric intake 2) Quality protein intake

3 meals of the same caloric value as 6, 7, or 8 meals shouldn't make a difference when concerning muscle growth and/or bodybuilding.  Since protein is overrated, it shouldn't be hard for a human being living in the 21st century to find enough quality protein with 3 fairly balanced meals per day.  However, since the body can only process so much protein at once, it would be a good idea to somewhat spread it out as opposed to consuming 90% of your protein in one meal.  You know, common sense can go a long way; ha!

Perhaps where this "eating every 3 hours is required for building massive muscles" thing gets more credit, is from the steroid-abusing bodybuilding freaks that inject "juice," workout constantly and eat all day to achieve monster status.  If that is your goal, then please ignore this common sense post.  I'm not about to type out a long post about the dangers of PEDs (performance enhancing drugs) or steroids, etc.  It is your body and it is up to you to decide on how you want to tax it.  And no, I'm not talking about natural supplements like Force Factor - Natural Testosterone Boosters. On the other hand, I did once write a post about alcohol abuse and how to combat the withdrawal symptoms.

In conclusion, this post was merely written in an opinion-style and didn't really provide scientific evidence for or against frequent eating for enhanced muscle gains. However, I have read numerous scientific pages and claims from both sides in the past, and my opinion still stands.  On the other hand, if you think that you have a valid point in favor for eating every three hours and really believe that it's required for ultimate bodybuilding, feel free to share your comments below; cheers!

If not, here is another debatable subject:

Image Credit: Public Domain - Wikimedia Commons

---End of Post "Eating every 3 hours is not required for Bodybuilding"

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Friday, January 2, 2015

Perfluorinated Compounds (PFCs) - Do they really have any negative impact on human health?

A long while back I was reading an article about perfluorinated compounds. Within that health-related post, they mentioned that researchers from Denmark think that chemicals used (PFCs) to keep stuff grease-free and stain-free could be predisposing children to metabolic disorders later in life.
PFCs are everywhere, evidently, and are not limited to food packaging like you find with microwave popcorn bags, etc. Here is a quote from the page that I was recently reading: "...they keep your upholstered furniture and carpets stain-repellant and water-repellant and your drapes wrinkle-free. The chemicals serve the same function on permanent-press clothing and any outerwear, backpacks or other accessories that are advertised as water-repellent. While you'll wind up eating PFCs that are used in food packaging, you'll most likely inhale PFCs in all the other applications listed, since the chemicals bind to dust floating around your home." Source = [link is no longer active]

On the other hand, after reading more about the recent study they mentioned, it made me less sure if the perfluorinated compounds really have any negative impact on human health. I mean, they were basically using overweight kids to prove their point. Yet, within that study, they plainly said that normal-weight kids that had high levels of PFCs in their body didn't show any ill effects. WTF? In conclusion, they assume that people who are already overweight would be more sensitive to these supposedly dangerous PFCs. Once again, WTF?

Now, what does seem to suck, is that it takes humans much longer to rid their self of the PFCs than it would for animals out in the wild, lab rats, etc. In fact, it takes several years for a typical humanoid to flush their current PFCs out of their biological system that they often refer to as a body. If you'd like to read more about that subject, go here:

If you'd like to read another negative article about perfluorinated compounds, go here:

Now, here is where the "do they really have any negative impact on human health?" part of this post begins. What about the retired workers from places that manufacture stuff that is loaded with PFCs? You'd think they would have never lived to retirement age and/or would have all dropped dead by now or had severe problems if these particular chemical compounds were highly hazardous to human health, wouldn't ya say? Well, apparently not, since many of them are totally healthy. Could this latest PFC scare tactic all be a lie or simply some hyped-up hulajula mawktooey hoopla and ballyhoo? Either way, feel free to go visit an article about another study concerning this subject, except this one says that PFCs have no negative impact on human health: [link is no longer valid]

At any rate, I'm getting tired of these studies that are constantly picking on my damn microwave popcorn! LOL!

---End of Post "Perfluorinated Compounds (PFCs) - Do they really have any negative impact on human health?"

Semi-related Post: Worried about Popcorn Lung?

Will chocolate pills be the next health craze in the future?

Side Note:  This post is about 10 months old, as I recently moved it to this Health & Fitness Blog from another location/website.  Anyway...

 In today's 'health supplement' market, you never know which supplement will really hit the floor running until after the commercial hype turns into a trending craze. In the past, one of the biggest pills to take the market by storm was the fish oil supplements. Like fish oil, these chocolate pills are also going to be aimed at cardiovascular and heart health. Numerous studies are underway, of course, so expect to see these chocolate pills explode in the coming years.

"The study will be the first large test of cocoa flavanols, which in previous smaller studies improved blood pressure, cholesterol, the body's use of insulin, artery health and other heart-related factors." Read more about the potential use of chocolate pills, here: [URL is no longer valid]

Personally, I'm not that impressed that they found a way to extract the goodness of chocolate into a mega dose and/or high-concentration pill form. Like most of y'all, I also already knew that chocolate was good for you; duh! Dark chocolate has the most health benefits, of course, but I'd much rather have it in the candy bar/brownie format; ha!

What I'm leery about is this "mega-dose" craze. Many studies of the past have shown that basically mega anything either has no additional benefits or, in some cases, causes more harm than good. For example, a lot of people now think that extremely high doses of antioxidants that you'd find in certain supplements actually raises your risk for cancer and/or causes it. As always, moderation wins again. The bottom line is, unless they find chocolate pills to be a good drug-replacement therapy for heart patients (or something along those lines), it will be nothing more than marketing hype. Simply eating dark chocolate on a regular basis should provide all the health benefits from this substance your body needs without expensive chocolate pills.

---End of Post "Will chocolate pills be the next health craze in the future?"