Ivo Bačlija, phytotherapist and founder of the Matičnjak brand, explained to us why nutrition is important today when allergies and autoimmune diseases have proven to be the scourge of modern times.
For years, we have been witnessing an unusual trend - despite the constant improvement of health care, the rates of autoimmune and allergic diseases are on the rise. Food allergies, type 1 diabetes and eczema are just a few of the diseases that plague more and more of the population in countries with high-quality and affordable healthcare. At first glance, better health care means less disease, but the answer, it seems, is not so simple. Our immune system protects us from various potential threats such as microorganisms or allergens, but if the immune system is not "maintained" properly, over time it can no longer respond appropriately even to benign triggers.
Therefore, we sought more information about everything in a conversation with Ivo Bačlija, who is known to the general public as one of the most famous phyto- and apitherapists, and at the same time a beekeeper, breeder, producer and processor of medicinal plants, a long-term member of the Society of Innovators of Croatia, senior expert advisor in at the Matičnjak phytotherapy center in Zagreb, the main creator and innovator of most of the products of the company Matičnjak Sativa doo.
You grew up in nature and were preoccupied with plants from an early age. You are also family-oriented and the secrets hidden by nature. Did you already know then that your life path would be focused on researching the unknown properties of plants?
Medicinal plants have always attracted me because plants are so complex and interesting, their action is conditioned by numerous factors and every day we discover new knowledge related to their action, mostly positive. My father worked in a seed house and they were the vanguard in the production of medicinal plants such as evening primrose, black cumin, hemp, and as a child I understood that it was very valuable and began to follow, research... Plants are intriguing, especially when you try to introduce them into the lives of other people, because then you have to make them practical, which means that they must be in a form that is easy to take, without damaging their healing properties through processing. And this constantly gives us work because we process medicinal herbs in their natural complex to help health.
How did the establishment of today's recognized and well-known company Matičnjak come about?
I got to know black cumin seeds when I was little and watched how connoisseurs bought them, kept them and used them for healing. Somewhere in the early 2000s, I met a colleague who took me to Hungary, where the seeds were planted. At that time I lived in Osijek, where people suffered from allergies because mines were left in the fields after the war, ragweed spread in unlimited quantities and allergies ravaged the population. Then I bought my first cold press and started producing cold pressed black cumin oil that dilates the bronchi, reduces nasal congestion and irritation of the mucous membranes, sinuses, reduces itching and sneezing attacks and it helped people. It is a natural antibiotic and, most importantly, its safety profile is impeccable, it does not have any contraindications with medicines, and it can be taken by both the old and the young (children), so today everyone knows about black cumin. We in Matičnjak press it on a weekly basis and each of our bottles is full of all the medicinal substances that black cumin must have in order to be medicinal at all.
From your experience - how many people are actually knowledgeable about the benefits of nature and plants and what is the interest in medicinal plants?
Here in Croatia, people appreciate medicinal plants, as they should be, with awe. Medicinal plants get the most attention when people get sick. However, I noticed that every day more and more people ask us about the preventive effect of medicinal plants, to protect their body and health, maybe the corona has done its job here again. We at Matičnjak make quite strong extracts and quite concentrated, very efficient ones, and we are happy to see how much our herbal preparations help people and their health.
In recent years, allergies have been very widespread in our area and bring difficulties and make life much more difficult for both the youngest and adults. Which herbal products can help, alleviate or even cure allergies? And what is the feedback from those who use your preparations?
Allergies and autoimmune diseases have proven to be a scourge of the modern age and, as far as herbs and active ingredients are concerned, only three things can help: black cumin oil, fenugreek and omega acids. Black cumin will help best, almost in absolute proportions if we have enough iron in the body. We replenish iron in the body with fenugreek, which is the best natural source of adaptive iron. Omega acids, for example alpha linolenic from hemp, better flax or walnut oil are strong anti-inflammatory fatty acids that also help to cope with chronic conditions such as allergies or autoimmune diseases.
When everything blooms in the spring, the season of the most common allergens that cause allergies begins
To what extent does food affect health, and thus allergic complaints? What do you recommend as dietary supplements that we should all be consuming? Does the need for supplements differ by season and can children and adults use the same preparations?
Similar to autoimmune diseases, allergies are related to the immune system, the triggers are actually internal and diet plays a big role. Our food must be anti-inflammatory, not pro-inflammatory, regardless of the seasons. The most important thing is to include high-quality fats from hemp, better flax or walnut oil in your regular daily diet, which are really food and medicine because they are extremely anti-inflammatory. Second, it is very important to reduce carbohydrates from biscuits, cakes, bakery products and other fast foods. Leave everything else as it is. But we make a big mistake in choosing fats. Everyone, both children and adults, should include cold-pressed oils in their diet in order to stay healthy, and especially if the disease has already appeared.
As a phytotherapist, what do you need to know about the person who comes to you in order to prescribe a medicinal plant? Is it an individual approach?
During the conversation, I often find out what people are doing wrong and the approach is individual. For example, various food supplements are taken in a completely inadequate way, a good example is oregano oil diluted in a little water, which is against all laws, thus irritating the mucous membrane of the esophagus, stomach... Many overdo it with olive oil, which is rich in polyphenols, but also omega 6, which is pro-inflammatory, so olive oil is ideal to eat with fish that contains omega 3. There is a lot on the market today, and of course it is difficult to know what is good and what is bad. Many do not need individual consultations because they have learned enough, we write a lot of blogs and texts about our medicinal plants and preparations and general recommendations about proper nutrition. Individual consultations are mostly attended by people who are ill and need help with treatment. In the case of the most serious diseases, our help is aimed at strengthening and protecting everything that is healthy in the body, so that medical therapies can be carried out and so that everything together leads to the final goal - healing .
Black cumin – a superplant that protects your immunity
What do you consider to be the most important products that we should all include in our daily use to maintain or improve our health? What secret "elixir" from nature is the most healing and most necessary for the body?
Black cumin oil - without a spoonful of this oil we cannot use vitamins A, D, K and E, it fine-tunes our immune system because it makes it adequately prepared for various challenges - so that it does not work too strongly when it is not necessary (autoimmune diseases and allergies) or too weak when the body and health need a stronger immune response. Besides black cumin oil, the most studied is sikavica, or silymarin, which helps in liver regeneration, which affects overall health and has been shown to indirectly help in numerous situations, both in diabetics and in hormonal, skin, and psychological conditions. Our sikavica, sikavica granulate is only mechanically granulated seed, so it contains the silymarin complex, but also fibers, vitamins and minerals, because we do not damage anything during processing, we take care of everything. Cold-pressed walnut, hemp or better linseed oils, which I talked about earlier, use daily, replacing table oils with these highly nutritious oils is the first thing you need to do to protect health and recover from diseases, whether in adults or children. They can be used as a dressing for salads, whipped into porridge, smoothies or shakes, yogurt, stew, soups, but they must not be baked or fried.
Sikavica - guardian of our liver
Everyone is a being on their own and has different ailments. Can everyone who has a need contact you personally?
Of course. This is an important determinant of our work in Matičnjak, a personal approach and targeted recommendations. Generalized recommendations such as including cold-pressed oils in a regular diet apply to everyone and there is no person who has not noticed a difference in their health and vitality after deciding to eat healthy fats - metabolism improves, infections decrease, focus and mental sharpness improve. , the hormonal status is balanced, the skin, hair and nails are strengthened. However, when the disease occurs, it is necessary to act comprehensively, correct treatment requires a holistic approach, medical therapy, nutritional and phytotherapy, and we are one link in that chain. Based on experience so far, I would say that we are quite an important link.