March 2019

Acupressure and Reflexology have been around for centuries as a way to naturally treat anxiety, pain, injury, illness, and systemic issues the body might be dealing with.

Acupressure was first practiced in China over 5,000 years ago when they discovered that pressing certain points on the body relieved pain where it occurred and also benefited other parts of the body as well.  Gradually, they found other locations that not only alleviated pain but also influenced the functioning of certain internal organs.  As acupuncture uses fine needles to stimulate the meridians (life energy channels) of the body, acupressure uses gentle to firm finger pressure on the pressure points and meridians.  In Japan acupressure is also known by the name Shiatsu…and a Shiatsu massage deals with all of the meridians as well.

Acupressure therapy is known for producing many benefits:

  1. Boosts the immune system
  2. Releases tension & produces a feeling of over-all well being
  3. Increases circulation
  4. Reduces pain & promotes faster healing
  5. Contributes to a calmer mind & body; anxiety relief
  6. Increases muscle tone & brings more oxygen to the skin, reducing wrinkles
  7. Beneficial for arthritis relief
  8. Helps ease nausea

Reflexology is based on an ancient form of therapy practiced in China as long ago as 4,000 B.C and at the same time in Egypt as well.  It’s a system of massage that’s also used to naturally treat many issues based on the theory that there are reflex points on the feet, hands, and head that correspond to every part of the body.  Unlike Acupressure, Reflexology deals more with putting pressure on only these three areas of the body that correspond to other points and organs to elicit a reaction and produce an effect.

The health benefits of Reflexology are very similar to Acupressure and they include:

  1. Improved nerve function
  2. A boost in energy levels
  3. Increased circulation
  4. Promotes better sleep, relaxation & anxiety relief
  5. Helps eliminate toxins from the body
  6. Stimulates the nervous system
  7. Reduces headaches; treats migraines
  8. Speeds healing & relieves pain

Many people use these two ancient techniques to not only relax and treat whole-body issues, but to also keep their systems running at their optimal levels in general.  Acupressure and Reflexology are body-balancing practices that have kept people healthy and happy for thousands of years.  Maybe you too could benefit from giving them a try.

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Although there is still Winter weather throughout much of the country, today is the first day of Spring and in some areas those pesky seasonal allergies have already begun.  Pollen and mold can leave you sneezing, stuffy, and itchy which all make for a miserable time.  While there are plenty of prescription and over-the-counter remedies you might want to opt for a more “natural” way to battle the misery.

Here are some options that might work well to provide you with some relief:

Probiotics:  They can help balance and boost your immune system to better tackle allergy triggers without the overreaction and annoying symptoms.  Both foods and supplements work.

Nettle Leaf:  It can help naturally block your body’s ability to produce histamine, which is the “allergic response” compound of the immune system.  It’s best to steep whole nettle leaves along with some peppermint leaves and a small amount of honey to make an herbal tea for this tasty and beneficial remedy.

Apple Cider Vinegar:  It can help reduce mucus production and cleanse the lymphatic system.  Take 1 tablespoon straight 2-3 times a day OR place it into a cup of hot water with a bit of honey.

Neti Pot & Saline Rinse:  The Neti Pot flushes out the nasal passages and the saline rinse is also a flush…if a Neti Pot isn’t for you.

Local (raw) Honey:  This isn’t immediate relief but having a tablespoon (or two) of local honey can naturally reduce your allergy symptoms over time.  Start doing this when symptoms first occur to allow your immune system to acclimate to the local flora and reduce the allergic response.

Dietary & Lifestyle Changes:  Sometimes what you eat can exacerbate seasonal allergy symptoms.  Avoid (of course) foods you know cause you “issues”, and be sure to eat a well-balanced, healthy diet.  Also, drink plenty of water and get a good nights’ sleep.

Acupuncture & Massage:  It can treat a wide variety of health issues as well as naturally reducing allergy symptoms.  Even getting a massage can “calm down” the immune systems’ response to allergic reactions by relaxing your body and mind.

Whatever relief you choose just remember to always give your body proper rest, hydration, and nutrition so it can take the best possible care of you!

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Corned beef, cabbage, carrots, potatoes, Irish soda bread, and Guinness…these all make for a very festive St. Patrick’s Day but they aren’t exactly part of a healthy diet.  Unfortunately, what often tastes the best isn’t the best for us, but one day isn’t that bad right?  Well, it can be…especially if you’re trying to stick to a diet or even just trying to eat healthy in general, and this holiday can be a difficult one to navigate if you are.  So here are some suggestions for having a healthier celebration this weekend that might make you feel a bit better about the traditional fare:

  1. Corned Beef: this salt-cured cut of meat isn’t exactly the healthiest choice, but since it’s the traditional selection for St. Patrick’s Day you can mitigate the unhealthy aspect (fatty and a lot of sodium) by boiling the brisket either on the stove or better yet in a slow cooker.
  • In a 5-to-6-quart slow cooker put in the carrots, onion, and potatoes. Place corned beef, fat side up, on top of the vegetables and sprinkle with pickling spice; add enough water to cover the meat (4 to 6 cups, or more). Put on the lid and cook on highuntil corned beef is fork-tender (4 1/4 hours on High or 8 1/2 hours on Low).  Remove when done and take off the fat “slab” to serve.
  • Here is a site for Vegan options…while not traditional, still in the spirit of the holiday: https://www.veganricha.com/2016/03/30-vegan-st-patricks-day-recipes.html
  1. Cabbage, Carrots, Potatoes, & Onions: you can cook these with the corned beef and they take on the flavor of the meat…plus it’s a way to cook them without added oil or butter.  You can roast them as well, just use minimal olive oil to cut down on the fat content.  Sautéing is also an option, but more oil is needed to cook them this way.  Cabbage is best stovetop steamed or boiled since it cooks quickly.
  • You can also mash the potatoes and make Colcannon…mashed potatoes with cabbage (or kale, chard, or another leafy green). Just use caution with how much butter and salt you use in the mashed potatoes.
  1. Irish Soda Bread: There are sweet varieties (with raisins and a sugar topping) as well as savory versions of this traditional bread, but the savory variety (no fruit and no topping) is better for reduced calories and less sugar.  Here is the link to a traditional Irish Soda Bread (brown bread) recipe that’s not only easy but delicious:  https://www.biggerbolderbaking.com/irish-soda-bread/
  • If you don’t want to make (or buy) Irish Soda Bread you can always choose Rye, Pumpernickel, or a healthy wheat bread instead. Try to avoid rolls as they usually have more calories and don’t contribute much to the overall “flavor” of the meal.
  1. Guinness: There is no substitute for this one…but it’s not exactly bad for you…just keep in mind the calories it contains (125 calories for a 12 ounce serving).  Also, some people like to cook their corned beef in Guinness, but drinking it might be more to your liking…so whatever you choose keep track of the numbers!

You can always choose to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with healthier options…but if you don’t choose to do that just try to cut out as many unnecessary calories and any additional sugar, carbs, and fats as possible and enjoy.  Have a very Happy St. Patrick’s Day and “Erin go Bragh”!

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Ayurvedic medicine (also called Ayurveda) is one of the world’s oldest medical systems.  It originated in India nearly 6,000 years ago and to this day is one of the country’s traditional health care systems.  Meaning “science of life” in Sanskrit, Ayurveda is founded upon the belief that all areas of life impact health.  According to the practice, we all have a unique mix of three mind and body principals which create our specific mental and physical characteristics.  These three principals, or life forces (energies), are called doshas.  These doshas control how your body works and they are Vata (space & air), Pitta (fire & water), and Kapha (water & earth).

There are various resources (books, websites, practitioners, etc.) for delving deeper into what dosha you might be and what that means for following an Ayurvedic lifestyle.  Here is a link to take a “Discover Your Dosha Type” quiz that can help you begin your Ayurvedic health journey:  https://shop.chopra.com/dosha-quiz  In general, Ayurveda means not only are you eating or avoiding certain foods for the benefit of your dosha, but you’re also living a lifestyle that is in line with “balancing” your dosha…meditation, exercise, essential oils, etc….all are very important principals in Ayurvedic practice.

Here is some information on the 3 doshas that can help you remain in a physically and emotionally balanced state using the Ayurvedic holistic science of health:

Vata Dosha:    Vata people tend to be on the thin side, have smaller bones, and don’t put on weight easily.  Vatas are said to be like the wind and this dosha’s energy is primarily associated with mobility, motion, circulation, breathing, and other essential body functions.  Known to be creative and energetic when in balance but fearful, stressed, and “scatter-brained” when out of balance; also might be cold a lot, have a delicate digestive system, and have dry, sensitive skin.

Pitta Dosha:    Pitta is the energy force that governs most metabolic activity including digestion, absorption of nutrients, body temperature, and energy expenditure.  Pitta types tend to be smart, hard-working, and driven (even competitive) when in balance but can be overly angry and aggressive when out of balance.  Pitta’s tend to have a medium build, be athletic, and are versatile in terms of putting on weight or muscle.

 Kapha Dosha: Kapha controls growth in the body and is considered the nourishing dosha.  It supplies moisture to the cells and organs and helps keep the immune system strong.  Kapha people are known for being grounded, supportive, loving, and forgiving when balanced…almost like a motherly type.  When out of balance they can be lazy, insecure, envious, and sad.

There are many benefits of practicing Ayurvedic medicine, here are just a few:

  • Helps lower stress and anxiety by rebalancing the body’s hormones or “energy”. Practicing meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, herbal treatments, skin treatments, visualization or repeating inspirational mantras all play a part in improving stress and anxiety.
  • Lowers blood pressure and cholesterol by following Ayurvedic diet practices and relaxation techniques which helps lower inflammation and can help reduce plaque buildup.
  • Helps with recovery from injuries and illnesses by targeting inflammation, which is the root of most diseases. Ayurvedic medicine can help lower pain and swelling, improve blood flow, and fight inflammatory conditions like arthritis and fibromyalgia.
  • Promotes a nutrient-dense, antioxidant-rich diet filled with a variety of real, whole foods. Included are various fresh herbs, spices, teas, vegetables, healthy fats, high-antioxidant foods and protein.
  • Can help with weight loss or maintenance by using the various Ayurvedic practices and foods specific to your dosha. Even essential oils are utilized for weight loss along with specific exercises.
  • Lowers inflammation by focusing on balancing your dosha which involves various ways of reducing inflammation with hopes of regulating the heart and circulatory system, digestive tract, and the means of waste elimination.
  • Helps with hormonal balance by focusing on balancing your dosha; can also incorporate the use of essential oils along with diet and relaxation techniques that specifically target hormonal function.

As with everything, moderation is the key to success.  Please review everything with your healthcare professional before making any large-scale changes to your medication, supplements, and your exercise routine or lifestyle.  Use Ayurvedic principles and practices to enhance every aspect of your life and keep up your self-care efforts…you’re worth it!

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