Alternative Health

Vegan Chocolate Mousse

A perfect healthy treat for the warmer weather! Seems easy to make too. Enjoy ūüôāFullSizeRender-2

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Consider a Natural Remedy for Your Monthly Symptoms

Sorry, guys, this one’s for the ladies…

I am sure all of the female readers are extremely familiar with the annoying symptoms commonly referred to as PMS. Yep, most women experience some combination of headaches, cramps, nausea, fatigue, and even changes in mood. Well, since it is such a common problem, what can we all do about it?

Many women just deal with the symptoms and suffer through it. That’s not the best option. After all, these symptoms are scheduled to come back month after month, so ignoring them is basically accepting a lifetime of discomfort.

Many other women simply reach into their medicine cabinet and pop a few Tylenol, Midols or Pamprins. Sure, these products all help to ease the discomfort, but should they always be the first resort?

Keep in mind that there are many natural remedies for dealing with PMS. One of my favorite things to try is very simple: drinking a hot cup of tea. Yogi Teas and Traditional Medicinals, two very popular tea companies, each offer various types of teas formulated just for women. You can easily find these brands of tea in your local health food store, and even in the tea aisles of some regular supermarkets and superstores.

A tea bag may not be the absolute cure-all for this age-old problem, but you may be pleasantly surprised with the results. Hopefully, reaching for your teacup will become your new routine during “that time of the month.”

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Mood Boosting Foods

The article ‚ÄúEat Your Way to Happy: The Mood-Boosting Benefits of Food‚ÄĚ found in Yoga Journal is one of my favorite articles I have read in the passed few months. As I am a part of both the mental health and yoga communities, this speaks to me on both levels.

The opening paragraph gives the example of a 27 year old woman named Andria Gutierrez who felt mentally clouded, anxious, depressed and fatigued. She was diagnosed with anxiety and was prescribed medication. However, Gutierrez sought a few other opinions and it was suggested to her to change her diet. Gutierrez began to eat clean by focusing on veggies, fruits and grains. She no longer consumed refined grains, meat or sugars. Gutierrez reported all previous existing symptoms to be extinguished.

As we come into this awareness of food affecting mood, a new field of study has been created called nutritional psychiatry. The idea that the mind and body are separate is now realized as false. The mind and body are very much connected into wholeness. What we consume and put into our body does affect the brain and neural chemistry.

The article sites three more studies from the U.S., Australia and Norway. These studies suggest that when individuals more whole foods and less processed foods that the diagnoses of anxiety, depression and bi-polar are less likely. Evidence also suggests that food may affect other disorders such as dementia, schizophrenia, and attention deficit disorder. However, most studies find the biggest correlation in the risk of depression.

As a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University in NYC, Drew Ramsey, MD, recalls a patient of his that was suffering from depression and anxiety. The patient’s diet was very scattered and severely lacked in fruits and vegetables. After a year of treatment, which included an entire revamp of his diet, the patient reported the depression to be gone. (Note: diet is a part of treatment; always consult with your doctor before terminating medication).

The article gives several examples down to the molecular level of how food affects mood. For example: ‚ÄúOxidative stress on brain cells likely plays a role, too. ‚ÄúYour brain is burning enormous amounts of glucose [blood sugar] for energy, and just like when you burn gas in a car and there is exhaust, when you burn fuel in the brain there‚Äôs a type of ‚Äėexhaust‚Äô: free radicals,‚ÄĚ says Ramsey. ‚ÄúOver time, those free radicals damage your cells‚ÄĒand that‚Äôs oxidative stress.‚ÄĚ Build up enough damage, and it can affect emotion by interfering with the way your brain cells function. Brain cells and the signals they send to each other are part of what creates emotion and mood. So if the cells are unhealthy and damaged, the signals they send become muddled or irregular, and you end up with disorders like depression and anxiety. Antioxidants like vitamins C, E, and beta carotene, and flavonoids like quercetin and anthocyanidins (found in dark berries), have been shown to help prevent and repair oxidative stress.‚ÄĚ

Not only are the affects of food found in the brain but also in our gut. We have ‚Äúgood‚ÄĚ bacterium that lines our gut to help with signals between the body and brain. The article states: ‚ÄúOne way these bacteria benefit the brain is by helping to keep intact the gut lining, which is full of nerve cells that constantly send messages to the brain. The gut lining also acts as a barrier to toxins and aids digestion so your brain is protected from bad stuff while still getting needed nutrients. But overwhelm the gut lining with the wrong foods‚ÄĒprocessed sugars, some cured meats (like deli meats), trans fats, and processed, white-flour carbohydrates‚ÄĒand it can become inflamed and start to break down, says Selhub, adding, ‚ÄúAnd we know that more inflammation is associated with more mood disorders, including depression.‚ÄĚ

So, how can we avoid treating our bodies harshly? Here are some tips:

  1. Exclude anything processed. This can include dairy, meats or certain grains. Return to the Mediterranean Diet of fresh fruits, (dark colorful berries), vegetables, (dark leafy greens), lean protein and whole grains.
  2. Incorporate more fermented foods for your gut lining such as yogurt, kombucha, kimchi or sauerkraut.
  3. Avoid junk food, (of course), especially trans fats and artificial sugars. The article states that junk food messes with our good bacteria in the gut lining which results in a negative cycle of craving more of it and increasing depression.
  4. Increase consumption of seafood. We want those Omega-3s found in salmon, tuna, halibut, and shrimp.
  5. Concentrate on foods high in Vitamin B and D. ‚ÄúSpinach, black-eyed peas, and asparagus are packed with folate; seafood, beef, and dairy have lots of B12; and D can be found in salmon, tuna, liver, milk, and eggs.‚ÄĚ

For more detailed info about our molecules, neurons, and bacteria, (which is really cool), explore below:

http://www.yogajournal.com/article/clean-eating/eat-way-happy-food-mood-boosting-effects/

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The Numerous Medicinal Benefits of Ginger Root Tea

Even though Spring arrives in a couple of days, I have noticed that some people are getting that “end of the season cold & cough” that they cannot kick. I wanted to share with you what my mom has given to me since I was a kid to help kick those annoying colds a bit faster or even prevent them. If you like the earthy spicy taste of ginger, you’ll love the simplicity of ginger root tea.¬†Ginger is an ancient herb traced back to 5,000 years ago in Chinese, Indian, Greek & Roman cultures. It’s first use as a tonic came from the Chinese and Indians.

Let me recount the benefits of ginger root:

  • Helps settle nausea, indigestion, bloating
  • Colds, flu
  • Motion sickness
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Anti-inflammatory for joints
  • Lowers high blood pressure

The list goes on! It’s even speculated to suppress cancer cells.

How to make ginger root tea:

  • Buy ginger root at your local supermarket
  • Rinse and cut up into slices of your choosing
  • Boil water
  • Pour hot water and sliced ginger root into your mug or tea cup
  • Enjoy!

Remember that ginger is a little spicy. You may want to start with three slices of ginger root and see how you like it. This tea will warm up your entire body and is great for chest colds. Lastly, there is the option to add lemon or honey.

For more information, click below:

Scientific & History: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92775/

http://www.herbwisdom.com/herb-ginger-root.html

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The Benefits of Dandelion

Yes, you read that right! The weed that you poison on your lawn is actually extremely healthy for you. Dandelions are packed with vitamins A, C and D, zinc, iron, magnesium and potassium. They are chiefly used for detoxing the body, specifically the liver. Dandelion can aid with inflammation, eczema, and regulate blood-sugar levels. The green leaves can be eaten raw in salads, cooked, or brewed into tea. You can buy dandelion at most supermarkets and pre-made organic teas are available. Why buy the plant at the store when it probably grows on your front lawn?!

For more information, check out the links below:

http://www.yogajournal.com/article/food-diet/fresh-crop/

http://www.livestrong.com/article/241852-benefits-of-drinking-dandelion-tea/

http://www.dandeliontea.org/dandelion-tea/facts-about-dandelion-tea-benefits

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Stay Happy and Healthy During the Winter Months

Some people are able to cruise right through Fall and Winter with no problems at all. For many of us, though, the gloomy darkness and bitter cold is a challenge, especially once the shimmer and glimmer of the holiday season has faded away. 

If you typically find it difficult to keep Hot-water-and-lemonyour spirits up and your immune system strong during the harsh winter months, you may want to try a simple trick that many people find to be effective and delicious: warm lemon water. Simply warm up enough water for your favorite glass or mug, and squeeze the juice of half of a lemon into it. If you want, you can make it even simpler and just drop the lemon slices right into your drink. 

Believe me, it sounded strange (and kind of gross) to me at first, but after making a glass of warm lemon water part of my morning routine, I can vouch for the benefits. I don’t like drinking anything cold during this weather, so this routine has made it much easier for me to stay hydrated all year long. The vitamins from all of the lemons have definitely kept me healthy and strong, even when those around me are unfortunately stuck battling a cold. And on top of all of that, the best part is that the taste and smell of the lemons are very uplifting and¬†helped me start my day off right each and every morning.

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Therapeutic Waters

hot springs

Healing water is not a new concept. As per historical records as early as 2,000 B.C., the Egyptians utilized hot baths to ease pain and aided in relaxation. The innovative pre historic Egyptians would also place sizzling rocks into water. The Ancient Greece, made structures around natural hot springs as their version of a hospital and meeting places. The father of medicine Hippocrates frequently prescribed soothing soaks as treatment for a number of conditions ranging from jaundice to rheumatism. The word spa comes from the Latin term sanus per aquam–meaning health through water. Roman soldiers routinely used hot wells to recover from their physical and emotional wounds.

To date, there have not been many studies done on hot soaks, however the few documented studies conclude health benefits from regular soaks in hot water, usually in temperatures between 100 and 104 degrees Fahrenheit are very effective. For relieving minor aches or managing life-threatening conditions, many physicians, natural healers, scientists, and others are recommending hot tub therapy as a safe, effective, and healing way to improve overall function as well as quality of life.

Research by Joel M. Stager, Ph.D., a professor of kinesiology at the University of Indiana has studied the therapeutic effects of water for 30 years. He has noted that regular swimming can slow the process of aging as much as 20 percent in some people. Swimming maintains and improves respiration, muscle mass and cardiovascular function. Water provides more resistance and the most basic water workout can strengthen the heart and muscles Exercising in water helps to prevent overheating and does not impact joints.

Healing Waters
You should consult a doctor before undergoing any new therapy

How healing waters can improve health

Sleep better.
The National Sleep Foundation states: “Establish a regular, relaxing bedtime routine, such as soaking in a hot bath or hot tub.” Rationale: hot water prompts relaxation and the increase in body temperature helps you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly. I can attest to that, because it works for me very nicely.

Arthritis relief.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, “The soothing warmth and buoyancy of warm water makes it a safe, ideal environment for relieving arthritis pain and stiffness.” “Immersing in warm water raises your body temperature, causing your blood vessels to dilate and increasing circulation.” This results in less swelling and pain, and increases mobility.

Pain management.
There is good reason why hot tubs are routinely used by physical therapists and pain management experts for everything from minor aches to recovery from serious injury: hot water stimulates the release of endorphins, naturally occurring chemicals in the brain that kill pain and improve mood. A soak after a day of skiing or other exercise also has medical credence: the improved blood flow resulting from hot water immersion means that oxygen and nutrients can more quickly and effectively remove pain-causing lactic acid that accumulates in muscles during workouts.

Decrease blood pressure.
In one noted study, Mayo Clinic researcher Thomas G. Allison, M.P.H, Ph.D., did a head-to-head benefits comparison of hot tubbing and bicycling in patients at risk for heart disease. His finding: soaking in warm water helped lower blood pressure, whereas bicycling raised it-sometimes to dangerous levels (during exercise). Yet, his study shows that hot water soaking raised the heart rate‚ÄĒthe purpose of aerobic exercise‚ÄĒto similar levels as a bicycling workout. This suggests that a spa soak might provide a noticeable heart-smart cardiovascular workout.

Diabetes improvement and weight loss.
Another study published several years ago in The New England Journal of Medicine, suggests another way that hot tub soaks simulate the beneficial effects of exercise. After tracking patients with Type 2 diabetes, researcher Phillip L. Hooper, M.D., of McKee Medical Center in Loveland, Colorado, found that participants who soaked in a spa for 30 minutes a day, six days a week, lost nearly four pounds after three weeks-without making any changes to their diet, exercise habits or other lifestyle factors. Interestingly, following tub treatments, the patients blood sugar levels reduced.

If you can’t get to a hot spring or spa, a warm bath every evening is as effective. Try it…

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Cure Colds and the Flu Naturally!

Walking outside the past few days in the blistering cold, experiencing the first snowfall yesterday, indicates that the winter weather is fast approaching!¬† People bundled up under layers of scarves, hats and coats also means that the cold weather is here to stay.¬† This is a time when colds and flu are at their peak, leaving many people with runny noses, hacking coughs, fever and body aches.¬† Grabbing for that over the counter medicine to feel better immediately may seem like the best thing to do, however, people don’t realize that there are more natural ways to prevent and alleviate cold and flu symptoms with ingredients in your own kitchen!

I posted this recipe last year from my dad, who suggested that I make this instead of taking OTC medication.¬† One day when I was sick, my dad encouraged me to try his tea concoction, which I will call the ‚ÄúRussian Remedy‚ÄĚ.¬† My dad is of Russian decent and believed that a lot of ailments can be cured naturally.¬† He told me to boil for 10-15 minutes fresh, shredded ginger, about a branch full.¬† The flavor gets more potent as you boil it so you can adjust the amount to your liking.¬† Once it is boiled, pour the liquid into a cup and add 1-2 tablespoons of honey, half a lemon and a pinch of cayenne pepper.¬† He said to drink this 2-3 times a day while hot and in no time I should feel better.¬† I have to say, as someone who always reached for medication, that this remedy made me feel better faster.¬† Now when I start to feel run down, I make this tea right away, and encourage all my family and friends to incorporate it into their regimen as well.¬† They too say that they feel better after drinking the ‚ÄúRussian Remedy‚ÄĚ!

Now this is not the only mixture that will work but I hope that you give it a try when you start to feel run down and achy and see how it works for you.  You can read about other foods that reduce cold and flu symptoms by clicking here.

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Reflexology

reflexology-feet-chart2

As humans, we are made up of physical and emotional body, in conjunction with a mind and spirit. They function interdependently. Reflexology incorporates all aspects of the human being: mind, body, emotion, and spirit. In a relaxed state, we integrate all aspects of our being.

Definition of reflexology (n)
(Dictionary)
re·flex·ol·o·gy pronounced [ ree flek sólləjee ]

1.massage therapy: a form of massage in which pressure is applied to parts of the feet and hands in order to promote relaxation and healing elsewhere in the body
2.study of reflexes and behavior: the scientific study of physiological reflexes and their relation to behavior
3.behavioral theory: a theory that explains human behavior as complex chains of conditioned and unconditioned reflexes

Studies researching reflexology in the U.S. and across the world note positive benefits. Studies, funded by the National Cancer Institute and the National Institutes of Health indicate reflexology’s promise as an intervention for pain management, enhance relaxation, sleep, and the reduction of psychological symptoms, such as anxiety and depression. Perhaps the most beneficial results have been in the area of cancer palliation (Ernst, Posadzki, Lee, 2010).

Reflexologists utilize hand and foot charts as a guide and apply pressure to specific areas. Reflexology is the application of pressure to areas on the feet, hands and ears. Reflexology is relaxing and an effective way to alleviate stress. Practitioners use items such as rubber balls, rubber bands, and sticks of wood, and crystals to assist in their work. Reflexology practitioners include, chiropractors, physical therapists, and massage therapists. There are other health care professionals that also use this as a complimentary health treatment to standard medical care.

According to the University of Minnesota’s extensive research in the matter of Reflexology, it has many benefits for an individual that may be willing to try an alternative health modality.

Benefits of Reflexology as per the University of Minnesota:

1.Reflexology has an impact on specific organs (e.g., MRI readings demonstrated an increase in blood flow to kidneys and to the intestines)
2.Reflexology can demonstrate an amelioration of symptoms (e.g., positive changes were noted in kidney functioning with kidney dialysis patients)
3.Reflexoogy creates a relaxation effect (e.g., EEGs measure alpha and theta waves, blood pressure was decreased, and anxiety was lowered)
4.Reflexology aids in pain reduction (27 studies demonstrated a positive outcome for reduction in pain (e.g., peripheral neuropathy of diabetes mellitus, kidney stones, and osteoarthritis)

Always speak with your Primary Care Physician for evaluation/consult prior to starting any kind or type new healthcare regimen.

For more information click here

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Rx: Nature

Prescription blanks

Mother nature graces at all four cardinal points of the world. We are blessed with beautiful beaches, majestic mountains, waterfalls, rainforests, parks, flowers, and a wide array of sunrise and sunset hues that keep us in awe if we just stop, look, and listen. Pay attention to the wonders of nature. When the mind, body, and soul need to heal…use the power of nature.

Citizens of our world, such as the Japanese practice Shinrin-yoku which is exercising in nature. As little as five minutes in spent in nature can decrease stress levels and decrease the level of the stress hormone cortisol, boosts mood and self-esteem, and decrease blood sugar in diabetics just to say the least.

Consider a walk in your nearest park, by a lake, near a stream or by the beach where the positive effects of the ocean and its continuous waves pounding against the shore can sooth the mind, body, and soul.

Nature provides us many healing spaces. From the Tan Tan mountain top in Morocco, in Northeast Africa to Prospect Park in Brooklyn, New York, USA. Take your pick of the natural resources readily available. Cast your worry, stress, and nerves aside in a natural space for a moment in time to improve your overall health.

Photo by:O’Connor College of Law License by:Flickr Creative Commons

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