What do the French know that the rest of us don’t? After many years advising clients at La Co-op Bio, I discerned that there are a few supplements that the French absolutely love, that are relatively unused and unappreciated elsewhere.
And they have very good reason too, as all three supplements are very versatile and in depth treatments that support the body on many levels.
- Organic Silica Liquid
- Birch Water
- Desmodium Adscendens
1. Organic Silica Liquid
Silica has so many benefits for all body tissues and systems, that it would be quicker to state what is isn’t good for than what it is!
Although the French favourite is liquid silica for internal usage, it is available in capsules and pills, as well as a gel form for external application.
Some supplements are made from the mineral form of silica derived from quartz, but I prefer the plant-based form in which the silica has been absorbed by the plants and is easier for our bodies to assimilate.
Plants rich in silica include horsetail, nettles, and bamboo, and most of the liquid silicas on the market come from the first two. Bamboo is often in capsule form.
It is easy to see why the French love this mineral, when we consider that:
- As we age, we hit a silica triple whammy: our reserves of it are mostly depleted by adulthood, our need for it increases, and we absorb it less efficiently.
- It is one of the components of connective tissue (bones, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, adipose and vascular tissues), the most abundant tissue in the body (30 – 40%), and is present in numerous organs and glands: the lungs, spleen, liver, heart, brain, pancreas, adrenal and thymus glands.
- It contributes to the production of collagen, elastin and keratin, which are necessary for the elasticity and flexibility of muscles and connective tissues, and healthy hair, skin and nails.
- Silica improves the absorption of other nutrients, supplements and medications. Take it 20 minutes to 2 hours before your other supplements to benefit.
- There are few dietary sources of silica (the skin of fruit and vegetables, the fibre portion of whole grains, and offal, foods that are often neglected in the modern diet), and they deliver insufficient quantities which are also poorly absorbed by the body.
Most of my clients take silica to help with conditions like arthritis, rheumatism and tendinitis, where it improves mobility and helps with pain relief. Some products have the addition of natural anti-inflammatories like MSM, devil’s claw and turmeric, or glucosamine and chondroitin to aid the regeneration of cartilage.
Lots of women take it to rejuvenate and hydrate the skin, or to boost hair growth and nail health. Because of its remineralising and tissue-strengthening properties, many take it to treat or prevent osteoporosis.
Silica needs to be taken on a long-term basis of at least three months, preferably a couple of times a year. Lots of my clients, especially those with degenerative conditions, take it continuously and feel such benefit from it that they would not be without it.
Even if you don’t suffer with any of the above conditions, regular supplementation will top up your reserves and keep your tissues healthy into old age.
2. Birch Water
Known as “sève de bouleau” (birch sap) in French, the French flock to the organic shops in Spring to stock up on the latest harvest of this mineral-rich, detoxifying wonder.
The French are big followers of spring and autumn detoxification “cures”, and birch water can be used at both times of the year to eliminate the toxins accumulated by the body and to bring in the new season, cleansed and re-invigorated.
Unlike may detoxifying plants, birch water does not drain away the body’s mineral reserves along with the toxins. This demineralisation is often the cause of fatigue felt at the end of a detox period, and a mineral supplement is recommended to compensate. No such worries with birch water!
Birch water works on numerous routes of elimination and is rich in active principles, which make this supplement worthy of the French, or anyone’s, detox regime.
- Has a particular affinity for the kidneys and the skin, known as the third kidney in naturopathy. It can be helpful to people with skin problems, to reroute the toxins to the kidneys and give the skin, a major organ of elimination, a break and a chance to heal.
- Has diuretic properties and aids in the elimination of uric acid and cholesterol.
- Is helpful to relieve water retention, gout, kidney and bladder stones, cellulite, rheumatic and arthritic conditions.
- Remineralises the body, and is indicated in osteoporosis.
Birch water should be taken in the morning, pure or diluted in a little water, for 3 weeks. Dosages vary according to the product, so follow the instructions on the packaging.
3. Desmodium Adscendens
This plant originates in equatorial Africa and Latin America, and has been used by natives of these regions for thousands of years to treat health issues as diverse as hepatitis, cirrhosis, back pain, allergies, asthma, eczema and psoriasis.
It is usually taken by the French for its superb detoxifying and liver regenerative properties. French doctors often prescribe it:
- To detoxify the liver during chemotherapy treatment and protect the body from its side effects.
- To treat all forms of hepatitis, including viral. Although desmodium is not directly anti-viral, it appears to boost the immune system to eradicate viruses.
- For its liver cell regenerating properties, to treat chronic liver disease from alcoholism.
- To relieve allergy symptoms thanks to its anti-spasmodic and anti-histamine properties.
Vive la France!
The French have always been leaders in the natural health domain, and their appreciation of these three supplements will hopefully spread. Silica, birch water and desmodium are so versatile and efficacious that they deserve more mainstream recognition and widespread use.
Have a look for them in your natural health shop and give them a go.
What is your favourite supplement? Do let me know!