Magical Matcha

One of the gifts bestowed on the world by the Japanese culture just has to be the art of tea drinking!  In this regard, green tea is already consumed across the globe but, now we have a supercharged green tea known as Matcha tea and tagged as the “elixir of health! 

Matcha tea is the powder that results from grinding the tips of tea bushes that have been sheltered from the sun for the last few weeks of their growth so as to increase the chlorophyll content. This extra chlorophyll provides the emerald green colour of the Matcha powder and there are plenty of reasons to call it “magical”.

A big difference is that this tea is not strained – the powdered leaves are consumed all in!

I have recently started including Matcha powder in my lifestyle as I continue on my organic, healthy lifestyle journey.  In fact, magic Macha is a new Jo Wood favourite, being a natural source of healing with health and medical benefits.

I was introduced to this superfood when a generous supplier provided Matcha tea powder samples (in beautiful little tins as this product must be shielded from direct light) for the guests at my Fortnum & Mason launch of Jo Wood Organics beauty products.

This very fine, dark green powder that makes a cup of tea the colour of bright green water paint, immediately sparked my interest – now it’s a regular part of my organic lifestyle.  The health benefits are simply immense!

I have since introduced many friends and family members to Matcha tea and it would be quite normal to see us sipping a cup of this beautiful, green liquid!  It’s beautiful to look at even before you take a sip.  Just put one teaspoon of the powder into a cup, make a paste with a little water and then fill your cup with pre-boiling water.  You’re doing your body a great favour!  

And I love to add a squeeze of lemon juice, a slip of ginger, a teaspoon of honey, a shake of cayenne or a slice of turmeric root. Or, I add my Matcha powder to fresh organic carrot or apple juice, blended with tasty cashews – yum! In this way, every cup of Matcha tea is a powerhouse of natural, organic goodness!

There are of course also many ways for you to incorporate Matcha into recipes but, I am more inclined to use it as a tea, in juices or in smoothies.  Think of a strawberry, banana-chocolate, fruit or any yoghurt smoothie with a teaspoon of Matcha powder slipped in….. mmm!    

Its benefits are many and include being an immune booster, increasing energy and endurance, boosting memory and focus and increasing one’s metabolism to burn more calories.  All this, plus being an “enhancer of calm” due to the high amount of an amino acid (called L-Theanine) that is contained in the leaves of the tea bush.

This promotes a feeling of relaxation without feeling drowsy and unable to function.  It’s just a beautiful feeling of calmness and wellbeing…much needed in our stressful world of illness, hectic schedules, demanding jobs, long commutes and news bulletins bearing bad news and negativity.  Spend a quiet and thoughtful moment when you sip this tea….giving thanks for everything that you have.

What’s more to want than this?

Matcha powder is also very high in antioxidants which is something that we all need and that can also be found in dark chocolate, green veggies and some fruits, amongst others.  Catechins and EGCs are supercharged antioxidants and Matcha powder contains so much of these that it can be called a supercharged antioxidant!   Did I say this is a magical gift from nature?

I have also learnt that Matcha powder (if taken regularly) is effective in lowering bad cholesterol and improving good cholesterol.

In my lifestyle, I include Matcha tea mainly when I’m feeling a bit “flat” or “low”.  I visualise it helping to detoxify my body, boost my energy and concentration and letting that wonderful feeling of calm come over me. I am always so grateful for these wonderful benefits, as I am for everything in my life!   At the same time I know that each teaspoon of Matcha I consume is helping my body to resist disease.  What a comforting thought!  

Matcha powder is easy to find.  Of course I like to be sure that it is organic so I get mine from my trusted health store, to be sure it comes from a quality harvester.

Remember, when pregnant or breastfeeding, always consult your health professional before taking any herbs or supplements, even if they are natural! Be informed about what is good for you as an individual.

Here’s to being organically healthy, assisted by magical Matcha! I hope you will try it soon.

Yours in love, peace and respect!






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Be your liver's best friend!

Did you know?  The liver is the largest internal organ and largest gland in the human body and weighs about 3 pounds in the average healthy adult!


On my daily journey to be as healthy as I can and to live a wholesome, organic lifestyle, I have become very aware of how important proper liver function is and of what I can do to be my liver’s best friend!  I have learned that my good health is directly linked to how well I can look after and support my liver!

The liver is one of the hardest working (and also the largest) organs in the body and is responsible for many functions related to digestion, metabolism, immunity and the storage of nutrients.

This miraculous organ works tirelessly to detoxify our blood (destroying old red blood cells), produce the bile needed to digest fat, break down hormones and store essential vitamins, minerals and iron. It also secretes chemicals that are needed by other parts of our bodies, breaks down alcohol and medications that we consume and makes sure that we can digest our food properly – especially fats!    

In short, because it performs so many vital functions and plays such an important role in so many of our bodily functions, we need to look after it and keep it healthy! 

How do we do that?  By now you’ve guessed it – an unhealthy diet and poor lifestyle can overwork and overload the liver, leaving it unable to process toxins and fats the way it is designed to do.  The result?  A sluggish liver function, poor health and even liver disease!

This can raise the risk of obesity, heart disease, chronic fatigue, headaches, digestive problems, allergies and many other health problems. 

Some of the things that impair our liver function are excessive alcohol consumption (a very common cause); eating bad fats; continual exposure to harmful chemicals, materials and substances; filling our tummies past 80% which strains the liver and slows down its ability to function; drug abuse (including prescription drugs) which harm the liver’s ability to filter; and just living a bad lifestyle that overworks our liver and wrecks our bodies!

Some of the symptoms of a troubled or even diseased liver are tiredness, fatigue and feeling generally weak; digestion problems; bloating and gas; a continual bitter taste in the mouth; having trouble concentrating; nausea; constipation; loss of appetite; unexplained weight loss or gain; excessive sweating; jaundice (yellowing of the skin); a yellow coating on the tongue; eye problems; headaches and hormonal imbalances. 

These can be the result of a sick or overloaded liver that is struggling to process the toxins in one’s body.  It’s struggling because it is being poorly treated!  But, there are many natural remedies that we can build into our lifestyles to avoid this happening. 

What can you and I do to ensure healthy liver function?  A lot! 

Liver-friendly foods to include in your diet – provided they are organically grown

Many foods can help cleanse, rejuvenate and detoxify the liver and there are many ways to include these in your daily eating habits.  Here are a few to try:

  • It’s very important to include healthy fats like olives, avocados, salmon and walnuts in your diet.
  • Eat plenty of green, leafy veggies which support the liver by stimulating the flow of bile.
  • Beetroot, cauliflower and pumpkin are also liver-friendly and easy to include in salads or cooked meals.
  • Add organic apples and papaya fruit to your diet – the pectin in apples removes toxins from the digestive tract and papaya is a great digestive aid which in turn boosts your liver function.
  • From time to time drink lemon water, veggie broths, juiced green veggies or a spinach and carrot juice (50/50).

My personal favourite?  I try to make good decisions before I eat any meal.  Mostly this is to eat organically, include many leafy greens, use only healthy oils and make sure my meal is tasty so that I enjoy each bite.  Food preparation is a joy to me and a big part of my organic lifestyle.  I love trying to feel healthy and this helps me to make decisions that are good for my liver and wellbeing. 

Lifestyle changes

Healthy, organic living is so dependent on the lifestyle decisions that we take!  Here are ways that you can review your lifestyle to check that it is extremely kind to your liver function.  There are things to give up and things to add in! 

Give up smoking, excessive alcohol use and eating bad fast foods NOW – this goes without saying with all the information that is now available to us. These habits are major liver stressors and causes of liver disease.  Give them up today! 

Stop overworking the liver – change how and what you eat.  Think liver friendly.  Overeating strains the liver and puts it into overdrive trying to get all its functions done.  You’ll feel grim, sluggish and down.  Try to eat only until you are about 80% full – this gives the liver a chance to get through it’s “to do list” without being overburdened.

Give up anger by trying hard to deal with its cause.  Anger debilitates and negatively affects your health.  A side effect is strain on the liver.   

Add a habit of resting your digestive tract from time to time by eating small, light vegetarian and alkaline meals  because these need little energy to be digested, giving the liver a much needed break.   

Add getting enough sleep into your lifestyle review.  It is said that the hours between 1 and 4 a.m. is when the liver is most actively cleaning the body while you are quietly sleeping.

Add getting regular, gentle, health building exercise into your ideal lifestyle.  The health and wellbeing benefits of exercise are simply amazing.  Walking, yoga, stretching or any exercise that suits your lifestyle.

My personal favourite?  A combo of these and being very aware of striving for a healthy, organic lifestyle.  I exercise regularly (this includes boxing…); try to eat carefully and only organically by being aware of what I am putting into my body; regularly give my liver and digestion a break by eating a small, light, vegetarian meal and try to live with a positive and loving attitude towards all.  Remember, this is a daily journey!

Herbs and supplements

There are so many natural remedies that we can use to support optimal liver function.  Here are a few to try:

The big one here is called Milk Thistle that is widely known to be effective for a variety of liver problems and for general liver support.  When buying this supplement, please make sure that it is organically grown and free of any nasty additives!  Its benefits are immense.

Both lemon and apple cider vinegar restore alkalinity to the system and this helps to detoxify the liver.  One tablespoon of either of these with a teaspoon of honey, taken before meals, is a super liver support.

Licorice is an excellent remedy for non-alcoholic fatty liver conditions – pour boiling water on licorice root powder (check it is organically grown), keep for a few minutes then strain and drink.

Turmeric spice has a myriad health benefits - including being an antiseptic and antioxidant – and is recommended for general health and liver support.  Include turmeric in your cooking, health drinks, herbal teas and smoothies.

Drink organic Green tea daily – amongst other things, it contains catechins which are known to support liver function.

My personal favourite?  In addition to my Milk Thistle supplement, I just love to have a daily drink of either freshly squeezed lemon juice (organic please) or apple cider vinegar to which I add a quarter teaspoon turmeric (freshly grated root or powder form), a teaspoon of honey (check the source and make sure it’s not irradiated), and a slice of fresh ginger (fantastic for immunity).  Its yum and loving to my liver and general health! 

A healthy liver is so important for good health.  Healing our body is impossible without taking loving, tender and gentle care of this miraculous vital organ!

Yours organically

Jo Wood

(PS: In cases of chronic impaired liver function, ongoing symptoms of illness or if you are taking any medication, always consult your medical professional before you self-medicate.) 

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Fermented foods – our little digestive warriors

On my journey to live and eat organically, I have learnt so much about how a healthy gut and digestive system is the foundation for our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. I would love to share my knowledge with Natural Health readers this month!

Organic living makes you very aware of the many ways to be healthier.  But I know that digestive health is the key when it comes to optimising your health, having a super strong immune system, reversing disease and feeling amazing.      

A healthy gut depends on the balance of good and bad bacteria that live in our gut.  This balance regulates a huge part of our overall health. And I have learnt that by far the best way to have the right bacterial balance, is to eat fermented foods!  Here’s why:

Fermented foods are packed with natural probiotics

Probiotics are good bacteria, the type we need plenty of.  These good bacteria are absolutely essential for our overall health but specifically for our digestion and our immunity.  So we take probiotics because they stimulate the growth of healthy flora/bacteria in our digestive systems.   

That is why there are so many probiotic supplements in health shops and pharmacies.  Although most of these can be effective none are as amazing as eating fermented foods.

Probiotic supplements usually show an active bacteria range on the label but we now know that a serving of homemade raw sauerkraut (one of the best fermented foods) has up to10 trillion good bacteria, which is 100 times more than the average probiotic supplement!   

Fermented foods are immunity warriors

Improved digestion hugely strengthens our immune system.  Our immunity affects how well we feel and also whether we can keep disease and nasty invaders away!  Regularly eating fermented foods provides us with “good bacteria warriors” in our gut that find and destroy nasty, unwanted, illness-causing microbes. Find and destroy!

Of course, raw, organic fermented foods are the ones to eat.  Think sauerkraut, kimchi, yoghurt, kefir, miso and apple cider vinegar.   

Fermented foods are full of live enzymes

Instead of taking a digestive enzyme supplement or probiotic (or in addition to), you should rather eat enzyme rich fermented foods as this is so much more effective in ensuring that your gut is healthy.  When we eat a fermented food, we immediately get a multitude of living enzymes into our body.  These act like little warriors that immediately get to work on breaking down carbs, proteins and fats that we have eaten.  The little fermented warriors can do this immediately because – remember - fermented food is pre-digested.  So eating these, eases the work your pancreas and other digestive organs  need to do thereby giving one immediate nutrients, without any hard digestive work!  

Fermented foods make nutrients available right away

Think of a fermented food as already being digested.  In other words, the food has already started to break down before we eat it, so it puts much less strain on your digestive system to unlock the nutrients we need from the food.   Nutrients are available right away without the hard work of digestion!  An example of this is what happens in the gut when we eat sauerkraut – one of the best fermented foods there is.  Because the sauerkraut is pre-digested, our digestive organs need to do very little work to give us a fast boost of life-giving nutrients like vitamins B1, B6, B9 and K, manganese, potassium, magnesium and iron, to name just a few. Clever!

Fermented foods are budget friendly and preserve well

Incorporating organic health into your diet can sometimes be expensive.  Not so with the fermented variety!  Items like sauerkraut, whey, kefir, yoghurt, fermented vegetables and many others can easily be made at home with a few ingredients.  And, because of the fermentation process, these foods generally last really long in the fridge.

So, I hope that you will consider including fermented food (organic of course) in your lifestyle right away!


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The amazing benefits of Epsom Salts

It’s easy to find, affordable, has many uses and is named from a saline spring at Epsom in Surrey, England.  It’s been used for centuries and was grandma’s favourite remedy. Now  it’s back in fashion as a cost-saving, green living wonder.  Yes, it’s Epsom Salts and it’s a household must-have!

Did you know that Epsom Salts is actually a mineral compound made up of Magnesium and Sulfate and is not really a salt at all?  We are told that both Magnesium and Sulfate can be readily absorbed into the skin so that the health benefits are available to the body almost immediately.

More than 300 enzymes in our bodies are regulated by Magnesium which we know helps to reduce inflammation and to alleviate hardening of the arteries.  Sulfates on the other hand help to flush out toxins from our bodies and to improve the speed at which we absorb nutrients.  And this from an inexpensive, off-the-shelf product that I believe is truly underrated!

Here are some of my favourite uses for magic Epsom Salts that I recommend you could try too:

 Foot soak

Tired and achy feet can be remedied by an indulgent Epsom Salts soak!  Add one half of a cup of this wonder product to a foot bath and soak for 30 minutes or as long as you are comfortable.  Add a few drops of organically produced essential oil to turn your foot soak session into a spa experience.  My favourite oils to add are citrus or lavender in summer and neroli or lavender in winter.  The heavenly smell of any of these oils soothe and delight me.  Complete the experience by sipping a cup of Organic Macha Green Tea with a squish of lemon or a mint leaf.  Aah…home comforts!

 Bath soak

It is said that Epsom Salts (particularly the Magnesium) can be absorbed through the skin to relieve muscle tension, pain and inflammation in the joints and even alleviate tension headaches and abdominal cramps.  Add up to a cup of Salts to your bath and relax for a while.  Here too, a few drops of organic essential oil added to your bath, a candle (please try my new organic Amka or Usiku candles and let me know what you think…) can turn a pain-relieving bath soak into a home spa experience.   

 Body exfoliator

Rub a handful of Epsom Salts over your skin while it is damp, to remove dead cells and leave your skin smooth, soft and healthier.  Take this idea a step further by making your own scented body scrub.  To 1 cup of Epsom Salts add one half a cup of neutral oil (almond, Jojoba) and 5 – 10 drops of essential oil of your choice.  A lavender body exfoliator?  Fabulous!  Remember to use organic only….

Hand wash

Mix equal parts of Epsom Salts and organic olive oil to create a moisturising hand cleanser that is also environmentally friendly. Store this next to all the sinks around your home and use it regularly to keep hands soft and clean. 

 Spread the cheer to your houseplants

Epsom Salts is a popular supplement in organic gardening for those who, like me, are interested in “green” living. It’s affordable, gentle and environmentally friendly and does not build up in the soil.

Start by adding two tablespoons of Epsom Salts to one gallon of water and substitute this solution for normal watering once a month.  This is especially useful to apartment dwellers with no garden space as it will help them receive a bounty of blooms within a confined space. It’s also a wonderful way to nurture veggies grown on a balcony but, more about this another time….




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Soothing Spring Allergies - The Natural Way

For many of us the advent of Spring is coupled with allergies, wheezing, sniffing and itching that is triggered by high pollen counts, new plant growth and many other seasonal factors.  Such allergies are caused when the immune system over-reacts to these typically harmless triggers.   

As an organic lifestyle advocate, I always favour first using natural remedies to treat these nasties, although one should be mindful that serious allergic reactions like asthma, require medical intervention.

I have used the following natural remedies with great success, for many years.

Feed your body with lovely organic food

Although there is growing evidence that an organic, balanced diet can cure maladies, the primary benefit of this way of eating is that it helps to keep the immune system in top shape.  And, the stronger your immune system, the less likely you are to be affected by seasonal allergic reactions.  If you’re expecting allergies in April and May when the first Spring blossoms appear, start eating wisely and organically right now so that your immunity is gradually boosted in time for the pollen onslaught!

The term “organic food” is now widely used so it is good to remember that it means produce that is free of antibiotics and artificial growth hormones, that has been cultivated without pesticides and synthetic fertilisers, that has not been irradiated and that does not contain bio-engineered ingredients.  Check before you buy!

Make quercetin your friend

Pack your diet with this natural bioflavonoid and potent antioxidant that acts almost like an antihistamine – a real allergy fighter!  I have always understood that you should start increasing quercetin in your diet four to six weeks before allergy season.  How do you do this?  Increase your intake of organically grown onions, garlic, apples, red grapes and tomatoes, to name just a few of nature’s wonders.  Add berries which, like the skin of red grapes contains the famed resveratrol, and you are sure to get an additional immune boost.  If you prefer to take a quercetin supplement, remember to check with your health practitioner first, as you should do with the use of all herbal and natural supplements.

Steaming with eucalyptus oil

I fondly remember my father using steam to easy his Spring allergic symptoms!  The pine-like aroma of eucalyptus oil can enhance a steam inhalation session by some measure.  The rising eucalyptus vapour provides a soothing, menthol-like sensation that is sure to make breathing feel a little easier for wheezing allergy sufferers.  I put a few drops in a bowl of steaming water and drape a towel over my head, while inhaling deeply for five to eight minutes.  Or, I put a few drops of eucalyptus oil on the shower floor and enjoy breathing in the warm, steamy vapours.  This clears nasal passages and provides great relief.  But, remember this oil should never be taken per mouth and that pregnant women should always check with their health professional before using oils and herbs.

The “old fashioned” neti pot is back in fashion

This is an age-old way of flushing a saline solution through the nasal cavity to rinse away allergens and clear sinuses, giving allergy sufferers great symptomatic relief.  It may not be very elegant, but it really works!  Fill your neti pot with a sterile saline solution by dissolving one teaspoon of Himalayan or sea salt in a quart of warm water that has been previously boiled or is distilled. Tilt your head so that you can pour the mixture through one nostril and let it drain out of the other.  Easy and inexpensive!

There are many more natural remedies to fight Spring allergens, but I hope that the ones I have explained are helpful.

Remember to feed your body with lovely organic foods, manage your stress levels, exercise and live positively! 


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