Saging and smudging are terms that can be used interchangeably in our society. While smudging is done by Shamans, the intermediaries between the material world and the spiritual, it is considered the same as ‘saging’ yourself, home, or environment.
No matter your beliefs, there is sometimes an undeniable negative energy to a space. There are also times in which you may choose to simply cleanse a space that belonged to another before you, or recleanse your own surroundings to refocus, re-energize, and feel good again. While some people rearrange furniture, do a deep clean, and take up yoga, many others opt to sage their space. With the start of this new year, I decided to create a more neutral and positive air space in the office.
Shamans use smudges, or bundles of native plants, in sweat lodges and healing rituals, which may be considered if you are pursuing a healthier lifestyle, change in fertility, or chronic ailments. Today, many acupuncturists combine this practice with their own in hopes of cleansing the body to accept treatment more efficiently.
A 2007 study discovered that the Native American practice of smudging showed a positive outcome within this community for those suffering from cardiovascular disease. An early study from 1999 also showed positive health benefits to this ritual. The study compared emergency room patients with healing ritual patients, all with the same chronic ailments. Those who were exposed to the smudging traditions, sweat lodges, and healing ceremonies saw significantly higher rates of increased health than those treated at a hospital. These studies both suggest bridging western medicine with these Native American rituals and healing traditions.
For most of you looking to do a simple cleanse, it is important to know that the herbs and traditions are not meant to be taken lightly. Smudging can be done in a bowl or shell with charcoal, stones, or sand, but most commonly, it is performed with a premade smudge stick of wrapped herbs that you hold and spread smoke with a feather or your hand. It is called ‘washing’ as the smoke washes over the person, walls, or air in need of cleansing. The following herbs are typically found in smudge sticks and can be wrapped on your own if you are interested in doing so. You can create your own combination to include specific herbs not found on this list as well.
· Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
· Mullein (Verbascum thapsus)
· Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
· New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae)
· Calendula (Calendula officinalis)
· Sage (Salvia officinalis)
· Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
· Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis).
· Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinale)
· Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris)
· Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum)
· Big Sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata)
Each of the above herbs has a purpose. Mullein works gently to clear the lungs and make the air more ‘breathable;’ Calendula is an antimicrobial that can aid in healing leaky gut, liver problems, etc but while saging a room, it can act as the healer or the room’s ‘skin.’ Thyme can be smudged to help with physical or emotional pain. It is truly amazing to learn about the history and traditions behind the herbs we overlook every day.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is growing in popularity as the research is released on just how wonderful it can be for anxiety, pain, and chronic problems so many people suffer from. But the benefits aren’t just for those currently experiencing troubles. The research is overwhelmingly positive and links CBD to not only balancing the Immune system, but protecting the brain as well.
I know you are thinking that this can’t be so. That marijuana disrupts brains cells; it can’t protect them. Remember that CBD is not the equivalent to consuming basic marijuana. There are little to no side effects, no ‘high’ is felt, and the science undeniably backs the use of it.
The US National Institutes of Health acknowledge the benefits of CBD and do not discourage against therapeutic usage.
As a neuroprotectant, CBD reduces the previous damage done to the brain and nervous system and allows for the growth and development of new neurons. This means that spinal cord injuries, brain injuries, diseases, and strokes may benefit greatly with CBD treatment. The oxidative stresses caused by head injury, genetic disorders, and autoimmune diseases that typically lead to temporary or permanent neurological damage may be protected against or greatly reduced with the use of CBD oil.
But what about using CBD oil preventatively? Are the benefits still there if the problems are not?
Research has linked CBD oil, as a preventative supplement, to the following neurological disorders:
- Amyuotophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
- Epilepsy (and other seizure disorders)
- Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
- Parkinson’s Disease
It has also been proven that CBD oil aids in management of the symptoms of all of these disorders: depression, agitation, appetite loss, pain, insomnia, and inflammation.
Alzheimer’s has been proven to be caused by inflammation within the brain, although the cause of the inflammation is still unknown. Research is currently being performed with CBD oil and the prevention of possible neurological inflammation. Ohio State Professor of Neuroscience, Gary Wenk, PhD has been studying this possibility for decades. He found that after the age of 30, the human brain naturally begins becoming inflamed. By utilizing CBD, this inflammation can be halted or reduced.
The US government has recently labeled CBD not only as a neuroprotector, but as an antioxidant as well. These two titles are different, but after breaking it down, you will see that they are tied to one another. The brain accumulates excess glutamate over time, and this can lead to glutamate (a neurotransmitter) toxicity, which can destroy brain cells. Studies show that CBD reduces hydroperoxide toxicity in neurons.
Furthermore (as if you need more reason to believe in CBD!), this oil promotes new brain cell growth in adult brains!
While more research is needed, and occurring, it is believed that CBD oil can be used to minimize cell damage, promote healing, and prevent future neural damage.
As I discussed in Part 1, cannabinoids are derived from the cannabis plant, but are not the same thing as the drug marijuana. Cannabinoids, such as CBD oil do not produce a ‘high’ or other well-known symptoms of ingesting marijuana. Instead, this oil is known only to aid the body, as proven by more research than you have time to read!
I have spent countless hours reviewing the studies available, and I truly believe that CBD oil can be an added benefit to almost everyone’s lives, but more specifically to those suffering from chronic pain, inflammation, anxiety, and so many other health issues. It seems that where the medical professionals draw a blank and prescribe more medications, CBD oil may in fact be a much better supplement to the body. It is at least worth considering.
Today, I want to address another powerful aspect of CBD oil that not many know about. The oil itself reacts with the body’s natural endogenous cannabinoid system (ECS). This system is a complex network of lipids and receptors. The endocannabinoids and their particular receptors are produced naturally by the body and are located in the brain, connective tissues, glands, and the cells of the immune system. These receptors are designed to interact actively with cannabinoids to balance the body’s immune system as a whole.
Cannabinoids work hand-in-hand with the ECS to help the immune system -and the body as a whole- reach it’s optimal levels by binding to the ECS receptors. This process is proven to aid in most autoimmune diseases, such as Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis, IBD, Fibromyalgia, Celiac Disease, and Lupus. Researchers are currently studying just how valuable CBD oil can be for other autoimmune illnesses; it will take time, but the current information points to positive results in all areas. This new research will be invaluable, as over 50 million people (75% of which are women) suffer from autoimmune diseases.
With autoimmune diseases, the body cannot differentiate between outside intruding germs/cells and its own healthy cells. Research shows that CBD oil binding to the ECS receptors increases the body’s ability to distinguish differences.
Our immune systems are complex aspects of the body. Often times, it falls out of balance and leaves us susceptible for illness and discomfort. Typically, the immune system becomes overstimulated and causes common ailments, but an under-stimulated immune system is linked to cancers and other life-threatening diseases. It is important to work on keeping the system balanced and healthy. CBD oil works naturally with the ECS to maintain a healthy balance.
Just as the body receives and benefits from the sun’s natural Vitamin D (and many other naturally occurring vitamins), it also greatly benefits from a plant’s natural oils.
It started off as a pink trend. Grocery stores started stocking their shelves, and customers started buying up the pretty pink salt, but other than a few ‘it’s good for you’ rumors, no one really knew anything about this aesthetically pleasing salt substance. It comes in cooking form, slab form, stone form, and lamp form. But what is ‘IT’ and where does it come from?
True Himalayan salt is mined from within the Himalayan mountains that stretch through Asia, China, and India. Crystalized sea salt beds that formed within these mountains were covered in lava millions of years ago. This lava protected the sea salt from millions of years of pollution, bacteria, and ruins. It basically kept it in pristine condition. Now the red, pink, and white salt can be found just about everywhere.
Let me be clear before I start informing you on the benefits of Himalayan salt, cooking with or on this salt, utilizing the stones, and places the lamps in your home will not be a cure all to anything. We tend to be a society driven by quick fixes, and this is not one of them. The benefits to Himalayan salt are real, but (like any and all-natural solutions) it takes multiple interventions, therapies, and lifestyle changes to truly impact your life. I absolutely enjoy having salt lamps around my home and office, and I believe that you should invest in a few as well, but please take the time to dig deeper into your health and mental state of mind to find other ideas to pair with the salt. Himalayan salt is only a small addition with great benefits that should be made to your life.
Himalayan salt is the purest form of sea salt available. It contains varying amounts of minerals and iron-rich content. Nothing is added into this salt, as it naturally contains iodine and everything needed to benefit the body. It contains:
- sodium chloride
- strontium and more
Together these elements and minerals are linked to:
- Electrolyte balance
- Mood stabilization
- Aiding in adrenal fatigue
- Increased hydration
- Balanced pH (alkaline/acidity)
- Reduce acid reflux
- Muscle cramping prevention
- Proper metabolism functioning
- Strengthening of bones
- Lowered blood pressure
- Increased absorption of nutrients in intestines
- Improved circulation
- Removal of toxins and metals
- Libido support
You will find many blogs and articles saying these benefits are tied to the minerals but not the salt itself. I beg to differ, as most natural remedies are often described in this manner. Again, depending on your main complaints, you should include healthy lifestyle changes in combination with the Himalayan salt.
Ways to utilize Himalayan Salt:
Bathing: The skin soaks minerals through the bath water; this can be more effective than ingesting them! Using Himalayan salt in the bath tub allows the body to absorb the nutrients in the best way possible.
Salt Lamps: While a single salt lamp will not purify your home, paired with an air purifier, the lamp should effectively help send negative ions into your air, impacting your focus, mood and health. Salt is hygroscopic, which means it attracts water molecules from the air. These microscopic compounds remain on the salt and not floating in the air where you would have been breathing. The heat also dries these particles and rereleases water into the air with negative ions. Every few weeks, it’s good to turn off your salt lamp for an hour, let it cool and then gently rub it with a damp cloth to clean away trapped dust and particles. The rest of the time just leave it on and let it work to clean the air in your home.
Salt Slab: These can be used hot, warmed, room temperature, chilled, or frozen. You can serve any and all food types on the slab, as it enhances taste and mineral content within the food. It is naturally anti-microbial, so clean up is easy.
Cooking: Himalayan salt is used just as table salt is – it’s an even substitution.
Neti Pot: A salt water rinse of the sinuses can help with allergies and illnesses. Using Himalayan salt kills bacteria and bonds to many contaminants that may be stuck in your nasal cavities due to breathing polluted air.
In recent years, it has become almost trendy to be seen with an amber beaded necklace on your toddler. I’m not sure if most parents even understand the true significance of this stone, but I must admit that I love seeing it everywhere!
If you are not into trends, but want to really know if your baby (or you!) should be wearing an amber necklace, read on.
For centuries, mankind has known that stones and crystals have healing powers. It wasn’t until our medicine-driven society decided that man-made is better than earth-made. With a balance in life needed, it is about time that we start looking toward the abilities that our earth can provide to us.
I need to begin with the fact that there is not one study out there that has been conducted proving that Amber does anything that I say here. You won’t find any ‘real’ research out there on the subject, but what you can find is testimony after testimony of how it has impacted individuals.
What is Baltic Amber?
In short, amber is fossilized tree resin. Baltic amber is mined from close to the Baltic Sea and contains between 3-8% of a substance called succinic acid. It comes in a variety of shades and colors, with most people claiming the lightest shades to be the most powerful. However, all shades seem to have people saying pain is eased. The same is noted about raw versus polished finishes on the stones. A polished stone is tumbled to achieve the shiny look, and is not less beneficial than a raw finished amber. The succinic acid within the amber is thought to be absorbed into the skin as body heat is released. This process allows the body to benefit from the acid, reducing inflammation and pain.
Who Can Wear Amber?
The beautiful thing is that anyone can wear Baltic amber. From infancy throughout adulthood, there are necklaces, bracelets, and other jewelry pieces that can be worn safely. Some swear by wearing amber as a preventative aid, along with a more natural lifestyle of organic eating, healthy choices, and chiropractic care. Others utilize amber to aid in reducing pain and inflammation. Many parents use a necklace on their infants when teething begins to help with gum inflammation. Most parents choose to keep the necklace long passed the teething stage, as a child’s body is always growing and changing with possible inflammation occurring at any time.
Baltic amber has been said to help with the following:
Boosting Thyroid Function
Strengthens kidneys and intestines
Swollen Glands/Sore Throat
Baltic Teething Necklaces
Please understand, that these are not to be chewed on. The necklace should not be long enough to slide over the chin and into the mouth of a child. They can be wrapped as an anklet until they fit properly, or a smaller size can be made.
I highly recommend Baltic amber to my clients. Even if you doubt the power of this stone, it doesn’t hurt to try it!
Check out Dr. Brenda’s Book on helping raise a healthy child naturally! Why Didn’t My Pediatrician Tell Me That?
The search results are overwhelming when trying to learn about the benefits of aloe vera juice. There are over 22,000 resources to sift through that are based on research and studies linking aloe vera juice to positive benefits. I have been preaching this for quite some time now, and feel the need to spread the word to everyone else out there!
Over the past few decades, aloe vera has become a household stable when it comes to sunburns, but the truth is that there is so much more to this naturally occurring resource. It’s an easy to maintain plant that can be grown indoors and may provide you with a multitude of benefits. I want to focus purely on aloe vera juice today as to not overwhelm you with all that the plant can do. As always, ensure that you are purchasing a high-quality product. Most natural stores (and many grocery chains!) will have options.
Aloe vera juice is a nutrient dense drink that contains Vitamins A, C, E, and many B Vitamins. It is one of the only plants known to contain B12. It also has a natural source of folate (known to many as ‘folic acid’), magnesium, zinc, calcium, selenium, sodium, chromium, iron, and potassium.
When clients talk to me about digestive issues, the first thing I suggest is to begin adding aloe vera juice to their routine. The juice contains an insoluble fiber that acts as a cleaning agent to the digestive track as it passes through. It also has a soluble fiber that aids the body in absorbing sugar and fat. These fibers also help the body to absorb and rid itself of toxins, helping promote a healthy detoxification and improving the gut.
Our society is not consuming the healthiest of diets, and even those of us trying to maintain a healthier lifestyle struggle with keeping our bodies in perfect alignment. Most people tend to be unbalanced and lean toward an acidic internal environment. This leads to chronic inflammation and pains throughout the body. Joint pain, headaches, ulcers, weight gain, fatigue, arthritis, allergies, and even diabetes, fibromyalgia, osteoporosis, and heart disease are linked to chronic inflammation. Aloe vera juice is a natural alkaline that helps rebalance the body and reduce inflammation significantly.
Oral administration of aloe vera (ingesting it as a drink) is a useful support for lowering blood glucose in diabetic patients as well as for reducing blood lipid levels in patients with hyperlipidaemia. What this translates to is that aloe vera juice can aid in lowering cholesterol.
Aloe Vera Juice has been shown to add in all of the following, in addition to the above mentioned ailments:
· Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
· Degenerating Eye Conditions
· Digestive and Bowel Disorders, not limited to atonic constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis
· Anti-inflammatory Lupus
· Skin Problems, not limited to eczema, psoriasis, acne, burns, athlete’s foot, cold sores, frostbite
Overall, aloe vera juice cleanses and detoxifies while stimulating cell growth. It has even been proven to improve brain function, increasing memory and danger awareness. Research also shows it aids with depression, as well as improving nervous system functioning. It is known to regulate appetite and boost metabolism (even promoting healthy hair growth!), while also reducing the risk of kidney and heart disorders.
Drinking aloe vera has a (gentle) laxative effect on the body for some people, and should be drank in moderation if this is proven for you. You do not want to throw the electrolyte balance off and become dehydrated. However, this is not the case for most who drink the juice. It is a naturally hydrating product and is safe and healthy to consume during a well-balanced diet and lifestyle.
‘Tis the season that we see pregnant women in the office asking for ways to naturally induce labor.
Around the holidays it seems that pregnant women are put on the clock before they are even in labor. Those who are due within a week of a holiday are typically given the option to induce labor as to avoid giving birth on the holiday itself. In the past year, full-term pregnancies have been relabeled to 39 weeks instead of 37 weeks due to the highest (and at that point, still rising) c-section rates of all time. Women were being electively induced as early as they could be (37 weeks), with the doctors leading the induction discussions.
It is so tempting to have the opportunity to not give birth on an actual holiday. Sharing a birthday on such a momentous day is challenging. It’s also inviting to have an exact end-date to the uncomfortableness that is pregnancy, but medically inducing pregnancy does not have to be your first choice.
Being induced generally includes the use of the drug Pitocin, a synthetic oxytocin. In 2012, a study was conducted by Australian and New Zealand Journal of Gynaecology that showed the use of Pitocin leads to “great pain and suffering, including serious unintended and adverse health effects to both mother and infant.” The study witnessed:
- Increased use of regional analgesia (65 vs. 22% control group*)
- Increased use of instruments for delivery (21 to 18% control group*)
- Increased use of Cesarean section (29 to 14% control group*)
*control group did not receive oxytocin
The researchers concluded that synthetic oxytocin use increased “severe” maternal and neonatal morbidity and increased the doubled the risk of c-section. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19821304
Pitocin Side Effects (directly from the manufacturer’s drug insert):
- Anaphylactic reaction
- Postpartum hemorrhage
- Cardiac arrhythmia
- Fatal afibrinogenemia
- Premature ventricular contractions
- Pelvic hematoma
- Subarachnoid hemorrhage
- Hypertensive episodes
- Rupture of the uterus
According to the same drug insert, the infant may suffer from the intensification of uterine contractions or “motility” in the following ways:
- Premature ventricular contractions
- and other arrhythmias
- Permanent CNS or brain damage
- Fetal death
- Neonatal seizures have been reported
Inducing your labor can potentially lead to issues with baby:
- Problems breathing and keeping warm
- Feeding problems because they may have more trouble sucking and swallowing
- Newborn jaundice, which causes their skin and the white part of their eyes to look yellow
- A longer hospital stay after they are born or be in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
- Are more often readmitted to the hospital with problems
- A smaller and less developed brain when they are born.
The problem is that many women are quickly approaching their due date, or already have surpassed it, and the doctor is presenting them with an induction date.
If this is you, and you are begging for ways to help get labor started before a doctor does, then read on.
You need to know that no induction method will bring a baby earthside who is not ready to be born. Medically, this is known as a failed induction and ends in c-section. But if baby is ready, natural induction methods can trigger labor. Also, make sure that you are at least 39 weeks (or more) before trying to induce labor.
What is developing and changing within baby at 39 weeks gestation:
- Advanced muscle development: Aiding with the suck swallow motion of nursing
- Body temperature control
- Further brain development
- Higher body fat
- Advanced body system development: lung development, digestive system, nervous system, etc
Natural Labor Induction Methods
Sex: Sex is a commonly suggested method of natural induction due to semen containing prostaglandins, which help to ripen the cervix. Consider a relaxing bath first; making sure the body is not tensed. Please note, that sex is safe throughout the entire pregnancy and is not linked to premature rupture of membranes or early labor.
Chiropractor: Not only can chiropractic care ease symptoms during pregnancy, there is research that show it can ease delivery time and pain as well. Research found that women who receive chiropractic care during pregnancy have approximately 6 fewer hours of labor than women who did not receive care. Chiropractors who specialize in pregnancy (Webster Technique) can not only ease pain, but they can manipulate baby’s position, turning him into the best place to begin labor. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2647084/ and http://www.prlog.org/10119754-decreased-labor-time-with-chiropractic-care.html
Nipple Stimulation: Stimulating the nipples (including your areola, as a baby would when sucking) triggers the production of natural oxytocin. Oxytocin contracts the uterus. Massage the first nipple for 5 minutes (when there are no contractions), then wait to see what happens (around 15 mins or so) before doing more. It’s a good idea to take your mind off things by getting on with your usual duties than sitting and waiting for something to happen – so try and keep busy! Once labor is well established again, stop the stimulation. http://www.bellybelly.com.au/birth/nipple-stimulation-how-to-do-nipple-stimulation-for-labour
Acupuncture: Acupuncture has been used for thousands of years to induce women who are post dates in their pregnancy. Most of the time one treatment is all that is needed to get the process going. Sometimes a second treatment may be needed. Through continual research, it’s been found that induction using acupuncture generally works within 6-48 hours of having your treatment http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19922252
Acupressure/Trigger Points: You can find a wonderful reference of acupressure for pregnancy and birth here: http://acupuncture.rhizome.net.nz/download-booklet/
- The first area on the body used for stimulating labor is located between the thumb and index finger. This point is actually the “webbing” between these two areas. Techniques vary, but this pressure point can be pressed and rubbed for several seconds or simply pressed firmly for approximately one minute and then released. This technique can also be used during active labor to relieve pain.
- The next area of the body used for stimulating labor is the ankle. This area actually has two different pressure points. The first pressure point is located on the outside of the ankle, just behind where the bony prominence is. Just like the first mentioned location, techniques vary but the pressure point can be rubbed or pressed for several seconds or one minute. The other ankle pressure point is inside the leg, above the ankle. This area may be difficult to find but it is more sensitive to touch than the rest of the leg.
- Another area is located on the back, above the buttocks and lower back. This area can also be pressed or massaged as tolerated.
Homeopathy— Homeopathic remedies use highly diluted versions of more potent substances to treat the body. Pulsatilla and Caulophyllum are two commonly used homeopathic remedies used to stimulate labor.
Evening Primrose Oil: EPO may not induce labor, but it can prime and soften your cervix. You may take the oil orally or insert it vaginally for the best results.
Red Raspberry Leaf Tea: Keeping you hydrated, as well as simulating contractions, RRL Tea has been used to tone the uterus and possibly bring labor on if the baby is ready.
Cinnamon stick tea: Take cinnamon sticks and boil them into a tea and drink. It actually tastes good so even if it doesn’t bring on labor it may help you to relax.
Clary Sage Oil: One of the numerous health beneﬁts of clary sage essential oil is to promote relaxation and pain relief during labor. It is specifically useful where muscular tension arises from mental or emotional stress. Mix CSO with a carrier oil (Like Coconut Oil) and rub on before using acupressure for best labor-educing results.
Pineapple: Most tropical fruits such as pineapples, mango, papaya, and kiwi contain proteolytic enzymes, enzymes which break down protein and are thought to have certain medicinal properties. Pineapples have been used as an anti-inflammatory, digestive aid, diuretic, and also to induce labor. Bromelain, a type of proteolytic enzyme found in pineapples, may help to soften the cervix which could explain how it helps to bring on labor. Since it is also used as a digestive aid, it may stimulate the bowels to move, which could bring on contractions as well.
Wide Squats, Stair lunges, and Curb Walking: Walking on an uneven surface such as a curb or lunging up the stairs can help drop baby into a lower and engaged position for labor to begin. Squatting reduces the birth canal by 10% and helps to get baby into the lowest position for birth.
Exercise/Walking: The pressure of your baby’s head pressing down on the cervix stimulates the release of oxytocin, hopefully bringing on labor, also just being upright gets the forces of gravity working for you, encouraging the baby to move down into the pelvis.
Castor Oil: Rubbing two tablespoons of castor oil on the belly (around the uterus) can possibly cause contractions, leading to labor.
Enemas or other bowel preparations (drinking castor oil): This causes the bowels to contract and could cause the uterus to contract. Use with caution as castor oil can cause vicious diarrhea.
Poor gut health affects much more than the picture displays. Your digestive health affects every physiological system in your body. The digestive system is the second largest part of the neurological system. Called the enteric nervous system, it is located in the gut. This is why the gut is known as the second brain. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19149514/
80% of the immune system is located in the digestive track.
“According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), upward of 60 to 70 million Americans are affected by digestive diseases.” Inflammation is believed to be the root cause of most diseases. Guess where inflammation typically begins? The gut. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11157355 and http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17024003
What researchers believe is that an overactive immune system results in the body being flooded with defense cells and hormones that damage tissues. Dietary and environmental toxins may build up in the body, turning the immune system on and keeping it highly reactive. As these toxins build, they throw the balance of good to bad bacteria off, causing the gut to become inflamed.
The gut contains both beneficial and harmful bacteria. Digestive experts agree that the balance of gut flora should be approximately 85 percent good bacteria and 15 percent bad bacteria. If this ratio gets out of balance, the condition is known as dysbiosis, which means there is an imbalance of too much of a certain type of fungus, yeast or bacteria that is affecting the body in a negative way. By consuming certain types of probiotic foods and supplements you can help bring these ratios back into balance and eliminate the inflammation. http://www.lifeextension.com/magazine/2012/4/overlooked-role-probiotics-human-health/page-01
Some common warning signs of a bacteria imbalance: http://www.steadyhealth.com/topics/signs-of-bacterial-imbalance
• Bad breath, gum disease & dental problems
• Sleeping poorly, possible night sweats
• Frequent colds, flu or infections
• Faulty digestion, acid reflux and other gut disorders
• Chronic yeast problems, candida
• Frequent constipation or diarrhea
• Acne, eczema, skin & foot fungus
• Frequent fatigue, poor concentration
• Extreme menstrual or menopausal symptoms
• Difficulty losing weight, sugar/carbohydrate cravings
• Allergies and food sensitivities
• Painful joint inflammations/stiffness
Two additional signs that your gut flora may be adversely impacted are depression and lowered immunity. Both of these are actually common-sense side effects of poor gut health, but they’re usually completely overlooked. Most people, including many physicians, do not link the immune system to the gut, when they should be making a healthy gut a major focal point if they want to help the root issues.
The gut originates from the same type of tissue as the brain. During fetal development, one part turns into the central nervous system, while the other develops into the enteric nervous system. These two systems are connected via the vagus nerve, the tenth cranial nerve that runs from your brain stem down to your abdomen. Hence the gut and your brain work in tandem, each are influencing the other. And this is why your intestinal health can have such a profound influence on your mental health, and vice versa. This also helps explain the link between neurological disorders (including ADHD and autism) and gastrointestinal dysfunction. For example, gluten intolerance is frequently a feature of autism, and many autistic children will improve when following a strict gluten-free diet. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/09/05/microbes-manipulate-your-mind.aspx
Foods that promote inflammation are:
• Corn and Soybean oils
• Pasteurized dairy
• Refined carbohydrates
• Conventional meat
• Trans fats
The secret to restoring your digestive health is all about balancing out the good and bad bacteria in your gut. If you are going to be healthy you MUST consider consuming probiotic rich foods and supplements daily.
What are probiotics?
Probiotics are beneficial forms of gut bacteria that help stimulate the natural digestive juices and enzymes that keep our digestive organs functioning properly. They are found in many foods and can be taken in supplement form. (Review our guide to choosing a quality supplement because they are not created equal.)
How do you benefit from probiotics?
The website Green Med Info has assembled an amazing list of more than 200 studies, which together explore more than 170 diseases which can be helped or treated with probiotics. https://www.healthambition.com/probiotics/
Digestive Health: http://www.health.harvard.edu/vitamins-and-supplements/health-benefits-of-taking-probiotics We have more than 1,000 types of bacteria that live in our digestive tracks. They help us break down food and absorb nutrients. Environmental and chemical toxins can throw off the bacterial balance of the gut. For example, when antibiotics are introduced, the drugs can kill-off the good bacteria, the healthy intestinal flora that helps us digest, as well as the bad. Probiotic intake should increase if antibiotics are being taken. The probiotics can keep the bacteria balanced throughout the antibiotic treatment so the body does not experience extreme side effects. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22071814
Probiotics can help with many, if not all types of digestive issues. Research has shown that probiotics can be helpful for people with irritable bowel syndrome, abdominal pain, cramps, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation. Probiotics can help with overall digestive health, even if you are not suffering from any urgent problems.
Urinary Health: https://nccih.nih.gov/health/probiotics
Probiotics taken regularly can help prevent bad bacteria from invading the urinary tract by maintaining a population of healthy bacteria on the tract’s adherence sites. Infections in this area of the body are extremely common, especially in women, and taking probiotics daily can help prevent reoccurring infections.
One of the most important characteristics of probiotics is their safety for human health. Thanks to their ability to adhere to intestinal epithelial cells and to modulate and stabilize the composition of gut microflora, probiotics bacteria may play an important role in the regulation of intestinal and systemic immunity. They actually seem capable of restoring the intestinal microbic equilibrium and modulating the activation of immune cells.
Several studies have been recently conducted on the role of probiotics in preventing and/or treating allergic disorders.
Probiotics have also been shown to reduce childhood eczema (a sign of allergies) when mothers take them while pregnant. Researchers found that pregnant women with a history of seasonal allergies who took probiotics throughout their pregnancies passed on a 50% higher level of tissue inflammation in utero, which is believed to trigger the immune system and reduce allergy incidence.
Women’s Health: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26052924
Just like the digestive tract, the vagina relies on a balance of good and bad bacteria. When the balance is off, it can result in bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections. Studies have found that probiotics can help prevent infection, manage an already active one, or support antibiotics as a treatment. Utilizing the probiotics as a vaginal suppository rather than orally may be even more helpful if there is a current problem.Probiotics have an important role in maternal health, as pregnant women are susceptible to vaginal infections.
As you have read, in detail, the gut holds 80% of our immune system. By eating probiotic-rich foods and maintaining good intestinal flora, you can maintain a healthy immune system.
A study revealed that obese people have different gut bacteria than those maintaining a healthy weight. This shows that gut flora plays a role in obesity.
There are several strains of probiotics, and each one is being shown to affect the body in different ways. Some of these strains include: http://probiotics.org/strains/
- Bifidobacterium bifidum — The most dominant probiotic in infants and in the large intestine. Supports production of vitamins in gut, inhibits harmful bacteria, supports immune system response and prevent diarrhea.
- Bifidobacterium longum — Supports liver function, reduces inflammation, removes lead and heavy metals.
- Bifidobacterium breve — Helps colonize healthy gut community and crowd out bad bacteria.
- Bifidobacterium infantis — Alleviates IBS symptoms, diarrhea and constipation.
- Lactobacillus casei — Supports immunity, inhibits h. pylori and helps fight infections.
- Lactobacillus acidophilus — Relieves gas, bloating, improves lactose intolerance.
- Lactobacillus bulgaricus — A powerful probiotic strain that has been shown to fight harmful bacteria that invades your digestive system and is stable enough to withstand the acidic digestive juices of the stomach. It also neutralizes toxins and naturally produces its own antibiotics.
- Lactobacillus brevis — Shown to survive the GI tract, boost cellular immunity, enhanced natural T-killer cells and kill h. pylori bacteria.
- Lactobacillus rhamnosus — Supports bacterial balance and supports healthy skin. Helps fight urinary tract infections, respiratory infections, and reduce anxiety by reducing stress hormones and GABA neurotransmitter receptors.
- Bacillus subtilis — An endospore probiotic that is heat-resistant. Elicits a potent immune response and supports GALT. Suppresses growth of bad bacteria like salmonella and other pathogens.
- Bacillus coagulans — An endospore probiotic that is heat-resistant and improves nutrient absorption. Also has been shown to reduce inflammation and symptoms of arthritis.
- Saccharomyces boulardii — A yeast probiotic strain that restores natural flora in the large and small intestine and improves intestinal cell growth. It has proved effective in treating inflammatory bowel disease like Crohn’s disease. It’s also been shown to have anti-toxin effects, be antimicrobial, and reduce inflammation.
Taking probiotics is extremely beneficial, but making sure that you don’t prevent them from working is also important. Be sure to eliminate the following, or increase your probiotic intake if any of the following is necessary: http://www.shanti.com.au/body/probiotics.htm
• Prescription Antibiotics
• Tap Water
• GMO Foods
• Emotional Stress
• Chemicals and medications
• Birth Control/Steroids/Hormonal Drugs
• Chlorine (Use a good filter for your drinking water)
• Coffee (I know. I know. Just add a little extra probiotics if you are a coffee drinker.)
• Carbonated Beverages
• Ascorbic Acid (In low-quality supplements, bottled drinks and juices.)
• Radiation (chemotherapy, x-rays, microwaves)
• Additives/Preservatives (Avoid processed foods)
In order to improve your gut flora balance, make sure to avoid these probiotic killers the best that you can. We are exposed to many of these foods, toxins and stressors on a daily basis, and if you’re going to restore your digestive health, they must be addressed. If they’re not addressed, your gut micro-organisms become imbalanced and your system can become a breeding ground for bad bacteria, yeast, viruses, fungi and parasites.
Headaches: Reasons and Relief.
Adults who suffer from severe headaches and migraines say that they grew up with headaches throughout childhood. Catching, treating, and preventing headaches in children can lead to life filled with significantly more pain-free days.
According to the National Headache Foundation, the most common headache in children is a tension headache, which starts in the neck and wraps around the head.
75% of children will get headaches before the age of 15, with girls being more affected than boys. The numbers are continuing to rise due to our American lifestyle. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2526375/
The main cause, you ask? Our guess: Technology. Texting, using the iPad, hand held video games, anything keeping the child looking down. Even sitting and completing hours of homework can cause tension in the neck. We need to break this habit (in ourselves as well as our children). Introduce a book stand for homework and reading, even the iPad will work on this. Try to limit your time on the phone or other device and pay attention to your posture while on it.
Move! Get outside. Play with your kids, stimulate their brains, and stimulate your brain! Engage the core muscles. Strong core muscles mean a strong back. Stand up every 20-30 minutes of sitting at work (or doing homework), sit on a yoga ball instead of an office chair, and exercise regularly, adding more core exercises into your workout.
Headaches can be divided into two categories: Primary and secondary headaches. Secondary headaches are caused by disease or illness and are rare.
Primary Headaches include:
- Cluster Headaches
- Tension Headaches
- Persistent Daily Headaches
- Cough Headaches
- Exercise Headaches
- Sex Headaches
Possible Lifestyle Triggers:
- Processed Foods
- Lack of Sleep
- Poor posture
- Skipped meals
Persistent daily headaches are NOT normal. Treating the headache is just masking a symptom. The thyroid, Vitamin D, and adrenal glands all can cause headaches and are generally overlooked in the mainstream population. The thyroid aids in brain development, secretes hormones, regulates your temperature, and helps with metabolism. Vitamin D is important for bones, muscles, and the brain. It is also helpful in preventing cancer, autoimmune diseases, and hypothyroid. Having lab work done to know your numbers is helpful in supplementing yourself correctly.
The adrenal glands sit on top of your kidneys and are responsible for producing cortisol and sex hormones. Cortisol has been called the “stress hormone,” and is responsible for regulating the body during stages of increased stress in life. We tend to always be in a high state of stress. That means our cortisol is always high and does not come down as it should. Again, lab work should be done to know exact levels.
While most people tend to categorize their headaches as sinus pressure or a sinus headache, this is actually not accurate and very uncommon. Roger Cady and Curtis Schneider of the Headache Care Center in Springfield, Mo., have shown that nearly 98 percent of people who believed they had sinus headaches were actually experiencing a migraine. So instead of blaming your sinuses, start a headache log and document foods you are eating, strong scents, exercise, and daily lifestyle. You may be able to find your body’s trigger.
Brain tissue does not feel pain the same way skin and other organs do. The brain is encased in a hard, protective covering and it does not respond to touch or pressure sensations. Headaches occur because of activation or irritation of structures that do sense pain: skin, bone or neck joints, blood vessels or muscles. Headaches occur in response to exposure to internal or external triggers, such as hormonal changes, sleep deprivation, fasting or stress. Exposure to these triggers prompts the brain to signal pain centers that produce a variety of chemical messengers, including serotonin and norepinephrine, which cause expansion of meningeal blood vessels surrounding the brain. This expansion results in increased blood flow, and blood vessels on the side of the head can become more prominent and tender. As the blood vessels swell they stretch the nerves that surround them, causing these nerves to send signals to the trigeminal system, an area of the brain that relays pain messages for the head and face. Activation of the trigeminal system most commonly causes pain around the eye and cheek, creating the false perception of “sinus” pain. The trigeminal system also sends messages to the hypothalamus, an area of the brain involved in food cravings, and to the upper part of the cervical spinal cord, which may result in muscle spasms in the neck. (Source: Cephalagia: An International Journal of Headache)
Ways to help headaches:
Yoga: It is important to start practicing as soon as possible after you start to feel the pain. Imagine your brain shrinking with each pose. Yoga promotes blood flow and relaxation, helping the body to align and alleviate the pain.
Exercise: Increase in exercise will aid in digestion and help with improved sleep. Nabih Ramadan, MD, a neurologist at the Diamond Headache Clinic in Chicago, and chair of the National Headache Foundation (NHF) Education and Biomedical Research Committee states that regular exercise at least three times a week can lessen the frequency of headaches. A study based on surveys from over 69,000 people in Norway, found that sedentary adults had a higher risk of headaches than their more active counterparts. Likewise, the researchers noted that study participants who reported more frequent headaches were the least likely to be physically active.
Remember that a strong core means a strong back. A strong back leads to strong, correct posture. Make sure you include strength exercises for your core.
Pressure points: Acupressure can relieve pain and rebalance the body quickly.
Points to try:
- The inside of your eyebrow, just above the bridge of your nose.
- The temples: gentle massaging motion
- The base of the skull: Tilt your head back and press upward in a circular motion
- Between the thumb and index finger: Pinch the area and massage
- Between the big and second toes: move one inch forward and press down
Magnesium: According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), nearly half of the people suffering from migraine headaches show to have a low amount of ionized magnesium in their blood. A great way to add magnesium to the body is topically, through the skin. Magnesium oil used regularly can help the frequency of headaches. Remember that magnesium needs calcium to do its job.
Two studies have shown that supplementing with magnesium may reduce the frequency of headaches. Magnesium levels affect serotonin receptors and have an effect on nitric oxide synthesis and release, as well as on NMDA receptors all brain structures and chemicals suspected to important in the formation of a migraine. www.thedailyheadache.com
Chiropractic care: Chiropractic care helps with headaches and balances all three nervous systems. A study from 2001 found chiropractic care resulted in immediate improvement in headache severity when used to treat episodes of cervicogenic headache. Aligning the body and correcting the posture can help alleviate frequent headaches and the severity of headaches. http://www.chiro.org/LINKS/FULL/Behavioral_and_Physical_Treatments_for_Headache.html
Gluten free: Diet plays a huge role in triggering a headache. A study published in BMC Medicine discovered that gluten sensitive individuals are at a higher risk of headaches. Frequent headaches can be eliminated by a simple change in one’s diet. ( www.migraine.com ) Cut out processed foods as well as gluten. Preservatives such as nitrites are linked to migraines.
Hydration: Water makes up 70% of the human body and 80% of the brain. It is a very powerful nutrient. When it is lacking, you can expect to suffer a wide range of health ailments. Headaches are one of the most common illnesses associated with dehydration. Carry water with you and remember to drink often. http://www.newsmax.com/health/Dr-Brownstein/headache-arthritis-dehydration-water/2014/02/06/id/551303/
Back to School: Preventing and Treating Lice
It was only a matter of time before Lice mutated to beat the medications and chemicals used to treat them. We have seen this across the board in the past few years. Illnesses, infections, bugs all have been altered due to the overuse of medications, pesticides and chemicals in our society. (That or they are dying off). Why people are surprised that there is now a “Super Lice Bug” blows my mind. It was bound to happen.
Kids are heading toward the bus stop, being dropped off, or walking with friends to school each day. They spend countless hours in close confines of other little heads, possibly contaminated with lice. Even homeschooled children or those too young to be in school but go on regular outings with mom are at risk of exposure to lice. Extra-curricular activities, library play areas, dressing rooms, anywhere that other people have been or currently are can hold a risk of inviting lice onto your child (or yourself). The thought alone is enough to give you an itchy scalp.
Head lice affect as many as 12 million people in the US each year, mostly children. – According to the CDC
What are Lice?
Pediculosis humanus var capitis, better known as lice, are a bloodsucking parasite specific to humans. They bite 4-5 times a day and inject an anti-coagulant in their saliva. Scratching the bites can cause an infection. Lice are 2.5-3mm long and quite flat. They are easily transferred from head to head, but they cannot fly or jump. Sharing towels, pillows, blankets, hair brushes, or play mats are also known ways of contracting lice. Female lice live up to 3 months, laying up to 300 eggs during their life. Each egg is attached to a shaft of hair. These eggs are called nits. Nits hatch 6-10 days after being laid. (https://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/lice/ )
What are Super Lice?
The good news: Super lice are not deadly or any scarier than ordinary lice. They are just harder, MUCH harder to get rid of. Scientists have reported that lice in at least 25 states have developed resistance to over-the-counter treatments. It was found that 104 out of the 109 lice populations tested had high levels of gene mutations, which have been linked to resistance to pyrethroids. (Journal of Medical Entomology)
Symptoms of Lice:
The most common symptom of lice is itching. Lice may not cause any symptoms at first though. Itching on the scalp may start weeks or even months after lice have started to spread. Scratching can make the skin raw and cause oozing of clear fluid or a crusted over area of the scalp, and it may get infected.
Steering clear of chemicals and drugs (the cause of the mutating insects), I’ve created a list of several options you can use to prevent lice from entering your family’s personal space.
- Add a few drops of tea tree oil to your shampoo
- Add ½ teaspoon of witch hazel, 8-10 drops of tea tree oil, and 8 oz of purified water to a spray bottle and spray backpacks, car seats, pillows, and mist the hair each day before walking out the door
- Rub coconut oil with 2 drops of tea tree oil across hair line before leaving each day
You found Lice, now what?
There are many over-the-counter options such as Nix, Rid, A-200 and Pronto and prescription varieties like Ovide or Kwell. But before you reach for these, know that they are filled with neurotoxins, which kill lice by attacking the central nervous system. Rid, Pronto, and A-200 contain pyrethrins, and Nix contains permethrin, all used in common garden pesticides. Ovide contains an even stronger neurotoxin, malathion, the same pesticide band by many communities. (source: http://www.takepart.com/article/2014/09/07/back-school-lice-alert-theres-no-need-douse-your-kids-pesticides?cmpid=tp-ptnr-mommypotamus )
Natural solutions to lice that people swear by can be found all over the internet, but it’s hard to decide the best resolution for you. There’s no right or wrong answer, and you may find one that becomes your go-to over the years. I’ve pulled the remedies that seem to have the highest success rates:
- Use olive oil with a drop of rosemary essential oil, tea tree oil, and theives oil mixed in. Run this mixture through the hair and comb in small sections. Make sure to use a fine tooth comb or a specific lice comb. Once the lice have been combed out, you can wash the hair with dish soap (blue dawn) if needed to get the remaining oil out.
- Suffocation: A study showed that coating the scalp with mineral oil and chemicals would suffocate the lice, but that is NOT a natural solution. You can use a coconut or olive oil on the hair/scalp and cover with a shower cap for 12 hours. You will need to repeat the process again in 2-3 days to catch the newly hatched lice. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2933647/ )
- Create a lotion with a teaspoon of shampoo and 7 drops of tea tree oil. Lather the lotion into the hair and let it sit for 15-20 minutes and then rinse out and use the Nit Comb through small sections until all lice are gone. A study showed that a lotion containing 1% lavender and 10% tea tree oils was 97.6% effective in killing lice, while insecticides like pyrethrins and piperonyl butoxide were only 25% effective. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2933647/ )
- Salt, Vinegar and Oil: Together they work to dehydrate and kill the lice. Create a spray with ¼ cup of salt dissolved in ¼ cup on warm vinegar and coat the hair. Allow to sit until fully dry and then coat the head with coconut or olive oil and comb out the dead lice. (http://www.peoplespharmacy.com/2011/09/12/getting-rid-of-lice/ )
- Combine 1 Tablespoon of Dr. Bronner’s peppermint soap, 8-10 drops of tea tree oil, and water (use a mason jar and mix all ingredients). Rinse the hair with vinegar and apply “shampoo” to head for at least 5 minutes. Comb hair with Lice Comb. (source: http://mommyfootprint.com/natural-lice-prevention/ )
- Apple Cider Vinegar and Oil: Wet hair and apply vinegar to hair. Allow the hair to completely dry (with vinegar) and coat scalp and hair evenly with coconut or olive oil to suffocate the lice. Pull all of the hair under a shower cap and let sit for either hours before using the Lice Comb and washing out.
- A great tutorial on the process of removing nits and lice by using a natural product by Hair Fairies https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VZmHQXcQWUo
The catch: You cannot miss even one egg or the entire process will need to be repeated. Make sure to wash EVERYTHING that could be carrying the lice and dry on HOT.