Categories
Treatment

Enzyme Therapy

Digestive and food enzymes are proteins that assist in the breakdown of food. There are several thousand different types of enzymes in the human body and every day we have millions of biochemical reactions taking place all of which require the use of specific enzymes. They can be further broken down into 3 different groups: digestive, food, and metabolic. Digestive and food enzymes will be the focus of this article, as the importance of properly digested food is paramount to sustaining good health. The four classes of digestive enzymes are: amylase, which digests carbohydrates, starches, and sugars found in grains, fruits, and starchy vegetables; protease, which breaks down protein found in meat, nuts, and cheese into amino-acids lipase, which breaks down fats and oils found in dairy and meat products into fatty acids cellulase, which helps digest fiber.

How They Work

Some digestive enzymes are created by the body in certain organs to assist in the catalyzation of the food we eat, and some enzymes are actually a part of the food itself. Food enzymes are already within the food that we consume, however with our modernization of heating foods to temperatures above 118 degrees F, we destroy the highly beneficial enzymes to assist us in breaking down that food, thereby placing great stress on the rest of the digestive system to do more work that it should have to do.

Benefits

By choosing to take additional plant-based enzymes with every meal one would have better assimilation and digestion of foods and nutrients, enhanced immunity would be experienced in addition to a sustained feeling of well being and increased energy from the vitamins and minerals that are now actually able to be utilized by the body because they have been properly broken down with the assistance from plant based enzymes. Ellen Cutler, the founder of Bioset acupressure allergy elimination technique feels very strongly that enzymes play a large role in reversing and healing food allergies.

Precautions

One would want to consider modifying their nutritional intake when taking plant enzymes and choose to eat whole foods, and reduce the intake of processed foods and sugar. There have been some reports of sensitivity to some of the components of plant based enzymes such as bromelain (from pineapple), in which case you should discontinue use and consult your doctor.

Summary

The addition of using plant based enzymes to your wellness routine will be a wonderful way to enhance your assimilation and digestion of food and utilize the beneficial nutrients that lay within them. After all, we are only as healthy as what we can absorb, and if we cannot digest our foods properly, it can set the stage for an imbalance to occur later in our health.

References

  • Enzymes and Enzyme Therapy: How to Jumpstart Your Way to Lifelong Good Health by Anthony Cichoike
  • Diet and Nutrition: A Holistic approach by Rudolf Ballentine
  • Micro Miracles: Discover the Healing Power of enzymes
  • Enzyme Nutrition by Edward Howell
Categories
Treatment

Supplements

We all know how important a varied diet is to our overall health but sometimes even good eating habits can use a little boost. Fortunately that’s where supplements come in.

Supplements exist in a variety of shapes and sizes from pills and powders to beverages and bars. Contents run the gamut from vitamins and minerals to herbs and enzymes to fish oils, probiotics and more.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, use of dietary supplements increased by over ten percent from 42 percent in the late 1980s to mid 1990s to 53 percent by 2003-2006.

How It Works

Different supplements provide different benefits. Folic acid, for example, is important for pregnant women to take as it can lessen the chance of birth defects while calcium and vitamin D can help encourage bone health. Multivitamins which contain at least three vitamins are the most commonly taken supplement though many vitamins and minerals can also be purchased individually.

Supplements are not strictly limited to vitamins and minerals, however. Echinacea is an herb many swear by to help lessen cold symptoms and duration of illness. Fish oil can usually be found in a softgel tablet and may help with heart health. Probiotics may assist in improving digestive issues.

Benefits

Benefits of supplements vary depending on the type and its designated purpose. It is important to note that the best way to meet daily nutritional needs is through a healthy diet featuring a variety of foods. When eating habits fall short, however, supplements can provide a useful nutritional edge.

Precautions

Just because supplements can be purchased over the counter doesn’t mean buyers shouldn’t do their homework. Some can interfere with medications or increase the chance of bleeding.

Many are water soluble with extra amounts simply being excreted but a few exist that are not and can build up in the body to dangerously high levels. In addition, some foods like cereals and breads are fortified with extra vitamins and minerals so beware how much is being ingested through the daily diet before beginning supplementation.

Also, it’s important to keep in mind supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration in the same way over-the-counter medications are and are not intended to actually prevent or treat diseases. To ensure the supplement contains what it says it contains (and not harmful contaminants), look for the seals of approval from U.S. Pharmacopeia, NSF International or ConsumerLab.com.

If in doubt be sure to discuss use of supplements with a medical professional.

Summary

While there is no substitute for a healthy diet, supplements can be useful for a variety of purposes including providing a nutritional benefit and addressing a specific issue like building stronger bones or fighting a cold.

References

  • Dietary Supplements: What you Need to Know from the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements
    ods.od.nih.gov/HealthInformation/DS_WhatYouNeedToKnow.aspx
  • Dietary Supplements: What You Need to Know from the FDA
    fda.gov/Food/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/ucm109760.htm
Categories
Treatment

Hydrotherapy

Hydrotherapy is the use of water to revitalize, augment and restore health. Hydrotherapy is a generic term for any type of therapy that involves the use of water to treat illness, manage pain, or relieve stress. Taking a shower or bath are the simplest forms of hydrotherapy and others would include sauna therapy, whirlpools, wraps, and foot baths.

How it Works 

By increasing the blood circulation in the body by using different temperatures it will stimulate the immune and nervous systems to assist in the healing of injured or tight muscles, energize the whole body and relax the mind. The temperatures utilized are important.

The alternation between hot and cold water will stimulate circulation, lessen pain, speed recovery time, and eliminate waste products from the body. Depending on what temperatures are utilized you could choose what outcome you experience. For instance, cold hydrotherapy is known to invigorate the senses and enhance the mind, while using hot hydrotherapy it is known to augment relaxation and encourage sleep.

Benefits

There are many benefits to each specific type of hydrotherapy, but in general one can expect to experience:

  • Relaxation of muscles (if using hot hydrotherapy)
  • Reduction of pain
  • With increased circulation will come the better elimination of wastes

Precautions

If you are pregnant it is advised not to take hot baths. If you have any heart condition it would be wise to check with your doctor prior to engaging in this healing modality. Please be mindful that hot hydrotherapy treatments can lower blood pressure and should be limited to no longer than 15-20 minutes at a time.

Summary

Hydrotherapy is a wonderful way to relax muscular tension, ease pain and enhance the elimination of wastes from the body. It is a relatively economical way to engage in a healing modality right in your own home for the cost of some water and any additives you may choose to use like Epsom salts, aromatherapy or bath teas, all of which enhance the hydrotherapy experience.

References

  • The Complete Book of Water Healing by Dian Buchman
  • Hydrotherapy: Simple Treatments for Common Ailments by Clarence Dail and Charles Thomas
  • Hydrotherapy for Health and Wellness: Theories, Programs and treatments by Richard Eidson
Categories
Treatment

Vitamins

Vitamins are wonderful adjuncts to complement your natural lifestyle. They can fill any nutritional deficiencies that you may not be fully obtaining from your diet resulting in greater energy and feelings of well being.

How it Works

Vitamins work by replenishing deficient nutrients in the body that one may not be getting from nutrition.

Benefits

Vitamin deficiencies can cause great disruption in the body. For instance, a deficiency of just vitamin B6 and Zinc can cause a condition called pyroluria which interferes with protein metabolism, dreaming, mental balance and much more. All that caused by just simple deficiencies of only 2 vitamins!

Precautions

Consuming too much of any vitamin can also be just as harmful as having a deficiency. It is wise to consult with someone trained in nutritional response testing, who may be able to assist you in which nutrients would be most beneficial for your body. We are all unique, and should be treated as such. What the label states or what the recommended daily allowance recommends may not be correct for you.

Summary

Vitamins are a wonderful tool to add to your holistic wellness plan. Much should be taken into consideration when choosing which vitamins to take, and this challenge can be greatly lessened by obtaining the assistance of a professional nutritionist.

References

  • Prescription for Nutritional Healing by Phyllis Balch
  • Orthomolecular Medicine for Everyone by Abram Hoffer and Andrew Saul
Categories
Treatment

Biofeedback

Imagine being able to lower blood pressure or improve any number of health conditions ranging from urinary incontinence to migraines and even chronic pain simply by controlling the body with the mind? Biofeedback has been shown to help a variety of physical and mental challenges.

How It Works

Experts theorize that biofeedback's success is related to stress. Many of the ailments it has proven effective for are triggered or worsened by stress so learning to control it is key.

Biofeedback can focus on one or more techniques depending on the issue in question. Electromyography (EMG) biofeedback revolves around muscle tension, temperature or thermal biofeedback measures skin temperature, neurofeedback or electroencephalography records brain wave activity, galvanic skin response training uses the amount of sweat on the skin and heart rate variability biofeedback involves controlling the heart rate.

Often people work with a therapist in a healthcare setting. Sensors are placed on various parts of the body depending on the problem and type of biofeedback. These sensors then give responses from a monitor box in the form of a changing sound, varying brightness or line on a computer screen. The person undergoes a series of mental exercises that affect the feedback.

Individual sessions can vary from 30 to 60 minutes while the number is determined by how quickly a person masters control of his or her responses. People with headaches and incontinence often need at least 10 weekly sessions with follow up appointments while someone looking to control his or her blood pressure may need at least 20 before seeing improvement.

Another alternative is to use biofeedback at home. A variety of biofeedback options are available with many containing monitors along with audio and/or visual programs.

Benefits

One of the main benefits of biofeedback is the ability to become more attuned with the body. Many people prefer treatment without using medications while others have found drugs haven’t successfully addressed their problem. Biofeedback can be a viable alternative to explore in these situations.

It has shown success in helping a variety of physical ailments ranging from asthma, constipation, high blood pressure and heart issues to headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, incontinence, Raynaud’s disease, and pain among others. It has also been useful in emotional issues such as anxiety, stress and depression.

Precautions

Medically speaking biofeedback has been shown to be safe with no negative side effects.

However, as with any medical treatment, it’s important to seek a doctor’s advice and to find a qualified provider. Biofeedback practitioners can include doctors and nurses as well as psychiatrists and psychologists. To learn more and find a therapist near you, visit the website for the Association for Applied Psychology and Biofeedback at www.aapb.org

Summary

By learning to mentally control aspects of the physical body, people can use biofeedback to help treat a variety of physical and emotional ailments.

References

  • The Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback
    aapb.org
  • National Institutes of Health—Biofeedback
    nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/news-articles/002241.htm
Categories
Treatment

Guided Imagery

Guided imagery is a highly right brained activity that is similar to meditation, but can incorporate the use of all the senses to create a wonderful healing experience that improves with each session. The body can and usually will accept as true what is being held in the mind, and through guided imagery we can use this to our benefit.

How it Works

It is the use of words, visualization and music to create some images in one’s mind for the benefit of relaxation and healing. Unlike meditation, the person using guided imagery is being guided into a creative experience usually through a recording or an instructor. This modality gives the mind a break, and instead tunes into the more creative right brain.

Benefits

Guided imagery has the wonderful ability to restore peace and calm and with some dedication to this practice one can have wonderful results with healing as well.

Precautions

There are no precautions to consider for this modality.

Summary

Guided imagery is a non-invasive technique that is highly beneficial for providing relaxation and healing from a variety of conditions. It has been found to be helpful for reducing stress and easing emotional tension. Our minds are powerful and we can augment this energy by utilizing guided imagery to modify our belief programs and install new, healthy creative ones instead!

References

  • Guided Imagery for Self Healing: by Dr. Martin Rossman
  • Staying Well With Guided Imagery by Belleruth Naparstek
  • Your Sixth Sense Unlocking the Power of Intuition by Bellruth Naparstek
Categories
Treatment

Chiropractic

Chiropractic care is a therapy that addresses the muscular-skeletal system and nervous system.  It is a combination of spinal manipulation and muscle relaxation used to restore joint mobility.   With a hands-on approach, Chiropractors manipulate the spine to align vertabrae properly thus reducing pressure on the nerves within the spinal cord.  This reduction of pressure allows the signals from the spinal cord to travel properly through the brain and reduces the brain's chemical reaction of pain.

How It Works

During a Chiropractic session, a chiropractor will use massage to loosen  the muscles in the affected  area to loosen some of the tension around the bone or joint.  With either an actuator gun (a gun that uses small pulses of pressure) or with their hands and body strength, Chiropractors will adjust or manipulate the spine and joints to a position that will relieve pressure to the area.

Benefits

Chiropractic care does not just benefit those with injury or chronic pain conditions.  It can be utilized to help maintain proper joint health and spinal cord wellness.  It can also be used to help increase flexibility and fluidity of joints for athletes or the health-minded.   

Chiropractic therapy has been used to treat many disorders and diseases including Osteoarthritis, migraines, Fibromyalgia, Rheumatiod arthritis, indigestion, pain during pregnancy, and of course bone and joint injury.

It is natural therapy that does not require medication but instead proper alignment of the spine.  This ensures that the correct messages travel to brain, helping to create perfect chemical balance.  

There are rarely any instances of pain associated with chiropractic therapy other than some mild muscle soreness that may result from an adjustment, therefore it is a non-invasive physical therapy for proper joint and spine health.

Precautions

Any manipulation of the spine, specifically the neck area, needs to be completed by a licensed Chiropractor.  Any overextention of the joints could result in damage to the bones and nerves.

The spine should never be manipulated if there is any sign of neurological disorder such as leg tingling, lightheadedness, black-outs or seizures.

Treatment of Scoliosis should only be performed under the supervision of a physician and should not consider chiropractic therapy as the only treatment solution.

Summary

Chiropractic care can be used to treat many different types of discomforts and pain.  It can also be used in combination with an athletic or fitness routine to maintain proper joint and spinal health.  With some minor adjustments to the spine a person can achieve pain management, better joint mobility, and more flexibilty as well.

References

The American Chiropractic Association
acatoday.org/level2_css.cfm?T1ID=13&T2ID=61

How Chiropractic
Works sciencebase.com/science-blog/how-does-chiropractic-work

Benefits
thejoint.com/health-benefits.aspx

Precautions
holistic-online.com/Chiropractic/chiro_safety.htm

 

Categories
Treatment

Aromatherapy

Whether you choose to breathe them in, rub them on, or gargle with them, essential oils have been used to treat a host of physical and emotional ailments for at least 6,000 years. From Egyptian to Roman to Native American societies, there is a host of recorded data that documents how ancient societies utilized the powerful healing processes found naturally in essential oils. This practice is known today as aromatherapy.

The method of extracting essential oils from various plants, flowers, and seeds comprises a unique sect of herbal medicine that is recognized for its incredible healing properties. From skin diseases to respiratory infections to gastrointestinal health, aromatherapy is a versatile form of treatment since it can be used for a variety of conditions. The secret to its effectiveness lies in the powerful antiseptic, antibacterial, and antifungal properties found naturally in almost all essential oils.

Most essential oils contain the germ-fighting agents necessary to knock out bacteria, fungi, yeast, parasites, and viruses. And unlike pharmaceutical drugs, essential oils interact with multiple body systems at once, making aromatherapy a broad-spectrum form of treatment. The reason behind this rapid absorption of essential oils in our bodies is due to the fact that our bodies and essential oils contain many of the same naturally occurring chemicals. Because of this similar composition, our systems very easily absorb and employ the complex chemical treatments found in essential oils.

How To Use

The best way to determine how to use aromatherapy is to consider the ailment you are treating. Almost every essential oil can be inhaled, making inhalation through various methods a popular form of treatment. This method is best used when treating respiratory conditions, colds, flu, and addressing emotional and mental disturbances. For a skin condition, wound, or burn, a topical application would be the most effective. Ingestion is a popular method throughout the world, but few essential oils can be consumed. Before taking any essential oils by mouth, it is imperative to consult with your physician as certain essential oils pose a toxic threat when ingested. There are several different ways to unlock the antiseptic properties present in essential oils.

Inhalation

The first and fastest form of treatment is inhalation. Inhalation is an ideal aromatherapy technique as it safe on the system and employs our sense of smell, the most powerful of senses. Through sense of smell, the healing properties of essential oil rapidly interact with body systems connected to emotion, nervous system, body temperature, and appetite.

Steam Tent

Creating a steam tent is most beneficial when treating cold and flu symptoms. To do so, simply boil a pot of water, remove from heat, and add in about three drops of your essential oil of choice. Create a tent around your face by standing a few inches over the pot, covering your head with a towel, and trapping the steam around you. You will want to inhale the steam deeply for a few minutes, or until your nasal passages clear and your cough subsides. Be sure to stay far enough from the pot to avoid burning your face.

Diffusion

Another inhalation method is with the use of an essential oil diffuser. As with a steam tent, you will want to add three drops of essential oil to the water-filled diffuser. Diffusers come in different forms; some are candle-lit and others are electric. As the diffuser is activated and heats up, the water will steam and release the essential oil into the air. You will want to breath deeply and slowly to take in the essential oil molecules that are released through the diffuser.

External Application

Another common method is through external application.  Utilizing essential oils in a bath is the preferred method of treatment as the warm water assists in the absorption of essential oils into the skin. As Hippocrates taught, “a perfumed bath and a scented massage everyday is the way to good health.” A recommended dosage for a full bath is 3-15 drops per tub. This form of application is effective as it is one of the few therapies that can rapidly penetrate body tissues.

Massage

An essential oil massage is an excellent form of therapy that will also alleviate the pain and itching associated with viral and fungal skin infections. To create aromatherapy massage oil, combine 10 drops essential oil for every ounce of vegetable oil or lotion. To treat physical injuries using aromatherapy, a compress soaked in essential oils will provide a soothing effect and reduce swelling of the injured area. To create the compress, utilize 5 drops of your chosen essential oil in 1 cup of water and soak the compress in the solution.

Spray

In some cases of illness, a throat spray or gargle made of essential oils may be the most effective form of treatment. This can be easily created by combining two drops of essential oil into a teaspoon of honey and taking by mouth, or by adding 1-2 drops of essential oil to 1/4 cup of water and using as a gargle to treat throat infections. It is common practice in European countries such as France to ingest essential oils to treat certain forms of organ dysfunction. However, it is vital to consult a physician before taking any oils internally, especially if you are pregnant as a few varieties of essential oils can cause a toxic reaction when ingested.

Types of Essential Oils and Their Uses

There are over fifty kinds of essential oil that are used therapeutically. Here is a complete list of those most commonly used. As always, be sure to consult your physician before use.

  • Angelica: The seed and root oils from this plant contain properties that effectively manage menstruation, digestion, and coughing. However, this essential oil can over-stimulate the central nervous system, making it important to use sparingly and with caution.
  • Anise: This delicious tasting (and smelling!) essential oil is useful as a lactation stimulant while breastfeeding, and can soothe muscle spasms, indigestion, and insomnia. It is vital to control the amount of anise essential oil used due to the fact that large doses can cause skin rashes and retard proper circulation.
  • Basil: Basil is used to treat the herpes and shingles viruses, headaches, and indigestion issues. It also acts as a lactation stimulant and aids in the treatment of mental and emotional disorders.
  • Bay: The essential oil derived from the leaf of the bay tree relieves sinus and chest congestion and is used to improve memory and lymphatic circulation throughout the body.
  • Benzoin: This antiseptic and antifungal essential oil also alleviates dry skin and provides emotional support.
  • Bergamot: This refreshing essential oil can be used to battle the viruses responsible for flu, herpes, shingles, and chickenpox, ease digestion, and act as an anti-inflammatory for the urinary tract system, mouth, throat, and skin.
  • Birch: Often made available for purchase under the moniker “wintergreen” essential oil, birch is useful in treating psoriasis and relieving arthritis and muscle pain. However, large amounts of birch are toxic to the system, so use with caution.
  • Carrot Seed: No, this essential oil is not distilled from the carrots in your refrigerator. Carrot seed actually comes from the seeds of the plant Queen Anne’s lace, a distant ancestor of today’s carrot. This oil can be used to treat skin disorders such as eczema, rashes and certain precancerous skin conditions.
  • Cedarwood: Cedarwood is most useful in treating respiratory and urinary infections, and can also be used to fight off acne, dandruff, and chronic itching. Avoid all cedar oils while pregnant.
  • Chamomile: This versatile essential oil is used to treat a host of conditions. Chamomile acts as an anti-inflammatory agent, pain reducer, and addresses indigestion, ulcers, and liver damage. This essential oil is also commonly used to treat insomnia and acts as a powerful antidepressant.
  • Cinnamon: Cinnamon can be used to treat urinary tract infections, diarrhea, and is helpful to relieve tension. However, you will want to dilute cinnamon essential oil with a less potent essential oil, as cinnamon is a potential skin irritant.
  • Citronella: While this essential oil is more commonly known as an insect repellant, citronella is also useful in treating colds and infections. Be cautious with topical applications as it can cause skin irritation.
  • Clary sage: Clary sage is used throughout Europe as a sore throat remedy and also can be used to alleviate pain and menopause symptoms. Clary sage should not be combined with alcohol.
  • Clove bud: This essential oil is used to fight infections such as colds, flu, and chest congestion. It can also act as a stress reliever and memory stimulant.
  • Coriander: Coriander is an antiseptic essential oil that eases pain and inflammation associated with arthritis and acts as an antiseptic in treating flu, cystitis, and diarrhea.
  • Cypress: Use this essential oil to treat sinus and lung congestion or to ease symptoms associated with low blood pressure, hemorrhoids, and varicose veins.
  • Dill: Dill is useful in treating indigestion and can also be helpful as an appetite suppressant.
  • Eucalyptus: The essential oil derived from the eucalyptus tree is a powerful antiviral agent. It is useful in treating throat infections, fever, flu, chest congestion, and herpes.
  • Fennel: Fennel is commonly used as a lactation stimulant, but can also be helpful in treating indigestion, urinary tract disorders, and to quickly heal bruises. Do not use if you have epilepsy as fennel can over-stimulate the central nervous system.
  • Fir: Use this essential oil to treat asthma, chronic cough, and to soothe muscle pain.
  • Frankincense: This valuable essential oil treats fungal infections, ulcers, lung sensitivity, and chronic diarrhea. Additionally, frankincense has been used throughout the ancient world to increase consciousness and relaxation.
  • Geranium: Geranium possesses both antiviral and antifungal properties, making it an important treatment for shingles, herpes, and ringworm. This essential oil can also be used to treat menopausal symptoms and regulate blood pressure.
  • Ginger: Ginger can be used internally to alleviate digestion issues such as nausea, diarrhea, gas, and loss of appetite. It can also address infections of the lungs and urinary system.
  • Helichrysum: Use Helichrysum to treat bronchitis, asthma, and pain and inflammation associated with arthritis.
  • Inula: Inula is mostly used to treat skin infections and herpes, but can also relieve sinus, chest congestion, muscle pain, and inflammation.
  • Jasmine: This essential oil is sometimes used to treat complications with the prostate. It also acts to soothe headaches.
  • Juniper: Bronchial infections, eczema, and hemorrhoids are all treated with this essential oil. Use with caution as overuse can over stimulate the kidneys.
  • Labdanum: This antiseptic essential oil is used to treat colds, coughs, wounds, and hemorrhoids.
  • Lavender: This quintessential aromatherapy oil contains the broadest reaching of benefits. From treating burns and eczema to lung and sinus infections, indigestion, and skin infections, lavender is a go-to ingredient in aromatherapy treatment.
  • Lemon: The essential oil derived from the lemon peel is antiseptic and antioxidant. Use it to treat viral and bacterial infections, aid with digestion issues, and boost immunity.
  • Lemongrass: This antiseptic essential oil can be used to ward off scabies and ringworm and to treat headache and indigestion pain.
  • Marjoram: Use Marjoram in treating colds, flu, migraines, and high blood pressure. It is also useful as a topical skin application in treating bruises, burns, bacterial and fungal infections.
  • Melissa: This essential oil contains both antiseptic and antiviral properties and is an appropriate treatment for strep, herpes, chickenpox, chest congestion, and high blood pressure.
  • Myrrh: Use myrrh as an external application on yeast infections, eczema, skin infections, ringworm, and wounds. It can also be used to boost immunity and aid with digestion, coughs, and diarrhea.
  • Myrtle: Used throughout the ages to treat the complexion, myrtle is also helpful in treating respiratory infections, muscle spasms, and varicose veins.
  • Neroli: Neroli is particularly useful in treating symptoms of menopause. It also addresses circulation problems like high blood pressure and hemorrhoids.
  • Niaouli: Use this essential oil on bacterial and fungal infections as well as in treating respiratory allergies.
  • Palmarosa: Palmarosa contains wonderful antiseptic and antiviral properties that are useful in treating acne, skin infections, and herpes.
  • Patchouli: Patchouli holds antiseptic abilities and is used to treat eczema, athlete’s foot, and skin inflammation.
  • Pepper, black: Pepper can be helpful in caring for colds, flu, urinary tract infections, and food poisoning. It is important to be cautious when using topically as pepper can be a skin irritant.
  • Peppermint: Peppermint is a powerful antiseptic essential oil and is used to destroy bacteria, viruses, and parasites found in the digestive tract. It also helps to alleviate sinus and lung congestion, irritable-bowel syndrome and the itching associated with ringworm, herpes, scabies, and poison ivy.
  • Ravensare: This essential oil is an important antiseptic treatment against flu, bronchitis, viral infections, and sinus congestion.
  • Rose: Rose oil is a strong antiseptic that fights infection and can also treat asthma, liver dysfunction, and depression.
  • Rosemary: This essential oil stimulates the nervous system, lowers cholesterol and alleviates chest congestion, sore throat and sore muscles.
  • Rosewood: Rosewood is a sweet-smelling essential oil that treats infections, colds, headaches, and nausea.
  • Sage: This antiseptic essential oil is used to fight throat and mouth infections. It should be used with caution as it contains a potential neurotoxin that is especially harmful to individuals prone to seizures.
  • Sandalwood: Sandalwood is primarily used to treat genital and urinary tract infections and can also be helpful with nerve pain, inflammation, and persistent coughs.
  • Tangerine: This gentle essential oil taken from the peel of a tangerine combats sleep and digestive disorders. It is a wonderful essential oil to use on children and pregnant women due to its extremely safe and mild composition.
  • Tea Tree: Similar to eucalyptus essential oil, tea tree oil contains strong antiseptic properties. It is useful in fighting vaginal, sinus, fungal, and viral infections. Like lavender, this is a popular essential oil for use in aromatherapy due to its extremely powerful and versatile nature in treating a host of conditions.
  • Thyme: This antibacterial essential oil eliminates intestinal worms, chest congestion, and indigestion. In the past, Thyme was actually used to treat whooping cough. Due to its powerful antibiotic nature, it is not recommended for daily use.
  • Vetiver: Use vetiver to increase circulation, treat muscle pain and sprains, and improve liver function.
  • Ylang-ylang: This sweet-smelling essential oil lowers blood pressure, relaxes muscle spasms, and acts as a strong sedative. Be wary to limit dosage, as high concentrations have been known to cause headaches.

Precautions

It is vital to be aware of the potentially toxic effect of some essential oils, especially for children and pregnant women. A few essential oils that are potentially toxic when ingested include bitter almond, hyssop, mugwart, oregano, pennyroyal, sassafras, savory, and thuja. Additionally, essential oils in their natural state are extremely concentrated and have the potential to burn or irritate skin and other sensitive tissues. It is important to dilute essential oils that pose a potential irritation to the skin with less irritating oils before topical application. The following essential oils should be diluted before use:

  • Bay rum
  • Birch
  • Black pepper
  • Cinnamon
  • Citronella
  • Clove
  • Cumin
  • Thyme

For elderly, allergenic individuals, or someone who has a serious health condition such as asthma, epilepsy, or heart disease, consult with your physician before the use of any essential oils. For continual use, be sure to vary the essential oils that you employ in your treatment, as overexposure of one kind of essential oil may be harmful to your liver and kidney functions over time.

Summary

From anise to cypress to lavender, there is a bounty of useful and medicinal essential oils that will banish viral, fungal, and bacterial infections all the while improving sleep, mood, and emotional health. From Egyptian civilization through today, aromatherapy has played a major role in addressing common illnesses and ailments.

By following sage medical advice and adherence to the recommendations provided here, you can employ and benefit from the antiviral and antibiotic properties drawn from the beautiful flowers, trees, and plants that surround us everyday.

As Kurt Schnaubelt, Ph.D and Director of the Pacific Institute of Aromatherapy in San Rafael, California, puts it, “for many common infectious diseases, aromatherapy offers more effective and more wholesome solutions than conventional medicine.”

  • Alternative Medicine: The Definitive Guide. New York: Celestial Arts.
  • Natural Healing Wisdom & Know-How. New York: Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, Inc.
  • Essential Oils for Beginners. California: Althea Press

 



Categories
Treatment

Acupuncture

When most people hear the word acupuncture they immediately think of the insertion of needles in various parts of the body. While this is the most common type of treatment, acupuncture can refer to a variety of different stimulation techniques.

It has had a long history as part of traditional Chinese and Asian medicine before growing in popularity in the United States in the early 1970s. Frequently used for pain relief, the Chinese philosophy believes by putting needles in certain locations the body’s energy flow or qi can be rebalanced and provide relief. Many Westerners think the stimulation of certain nerves, muscles and connective tissues increases the body’s blood flow and release of endorphins which can lessen discomfort.

How It Works

An initial evaluation can take about an hour. Exact details depend on the practitioner and his or her approach but it may include examinations of the area in pain along with the tongue, face color and wrist pulse. Discussion of general health, lifestyle and behavior factors may also occur. After the first meeting, treatments generally last about 30 minutes. Depending on the problem 6 to 12 appointments over several months is often typical. Between 5 and 20 very thin needles are inserted in various locations of the body (sometimes some are nowhere near the area in pain). Discomfort should be very minimal or nonexistent. Once the needles are in the practitioner has a variety of options from twirling them to heating them to applying light electrical pulses to them. After 10 to 20 minutes the needles are removed.

Benefits

Acupuncture can by tried for a number of painful ailments ranging from headaches, back pain and dental pain to fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis and even labor pain.

Accupuncture is beginning to emerge as a combination therapy across western medicine that has been shown to show relief for patients after surgery.

When approaching menopause, accupuncture has been shown to significantly reduce the duration and intensity of hot flashes and other symptoms associated with that phase of life.

Precautions

Acupuncture is generally considered pretty safe but there are a few things to keep in mind. First and foremost, practitioners should always use sterile, disposable needles to prevent infections and exposure to serious diseases. A little bit of soreness or even small amounts of bleeding or bruising where the needles were inserted is possible. In rare cases needles can puncture organs if they are pushed in too far. Individuals with bleeding disorders or who take a blood thinner may not be good candidates for acupuncture. Similarly anyone with a pacemaker should likely avoid this treatment as the electrical impulses to the needle could affect the pacemaker. Finally, acupuncture in some forms may trigger labor so pregnant women may need to avoid it.

Summary

Acupuncture is an ancient Asian treatment that involves very thin needles inserted in certain locations to help relieve pain.

References

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine nccam.nih.gov/health/acupuncture/introduction.htm

Mayo Clinic mayoclinic.com/health/acupuncture/MY00946

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Yoga

Yoga is a mind-body practice with origins in ancient Indian philosophy. The various styles of yoga that people use for health purposes typically combine physical postures, breathing techniques, and meditation or relaxation.

It can be highly individualized as there are many different types of yoga such as Ashtanga, Bikram, Iyengar, Anusara, Vinyasa and Kundalini and each one utilizes a different focus to assist in bringing the mind, body and soul together.

How it Works

It works by assuming different postures specific to that practice and then releasing the posture. Some practices incorporate meditation as a part of the class.

Yoga works subtly on the energetic level to clear out stuck energy while at the same time conditioning the body to bring in fresh energy through certain postures, and training the mind to be in present moment awareness.

Benefits

A regular yoga practice will assist one in sleeping more soundly, feeling more grounded, having less pain and achieving more focus. There are huge, emotional, physical and psychological benefits from engaging in regular yoga practice.

Precautions

Be mindful when trying different types of yoga, and go with what feels best for you since there are so many different styles. Do not push your body any further than it wants to go, as yoga has no connection to force.

Summary

Carl G. Jung, a famous Swiss psychologist, described yoga as “one of the greatest things the human mind has ever created.” The Yoga sutra, when translated, defines yoga defines it as, “Yoga is the cessation of agitation of the consciousness.”

The practice of whatever type of yoga you find beneficial for you will assist greatly in transcending the mind and allowing for more present moment awareness.

References

  • Introduction to Yoga by Annie Besant
  • Yoga for Beginners DVD
  • The Way of the Happy Woman: Living the Best Year of Your Life by Sara Avant Stover

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Meditation

There are many different types of meditation, from mindfulness meditation to walking meditation but the goal is usually the same: to cultivate a quietness of mind enough so as to hear the still small voice of the soul.

It helps one to bring focus to the present moment, to let go of all attachments, to push the pause button on fear and worry and learn to trust that life will provide for you. With regular practice of meditation, one will cultivate an inner peace that will remain in moments of any stress.

How it Works

It works by stilling the thoughts in the mind through the practice of several techniques such as focusing on the breath, chanting, and practicing detachment from all outside influences with non-resistance, while sitting in a relaxed comfortable position for a period of time that one feels is sufficient.

Benefits

The benefits of meditation are reduced stress, more present moment awareness, feelings of calm, and a greater flow of energy.

In a study that was initiated by Jon Kabatt-Zin it was found that the group of meditators that were studied had an increase in the frontal lobe areas associated with greater happiness and calmness than before they began to meditate.

Summary

Meditation is a wonderful healing modality that can be done at home for free, or you can choose to join a group meditation as found at some yoga centers.

It is highly known to reduce stress and enhance more mindfulness of the importance of present moment awareness. Regular practice of meditation is wonderful for healing.

References

  • Real Happiness by Sharon Salzburg
  • Awakening to Joy 10 Steps that Will Put you on the Road to Happiness by James Baraz and Shoshanna Alexander
  • Quiet Mind a Beginner’s Mind to Meditation by Sharon Salzburg
  • Getting into the Vortex by Esther Hicks

 


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Tai Chi

Sometimes described as “moving meditation,” tai chi began long ago in China as a type of martial art. Today it is an exercise-with-meditation combination used to improve health and decrease stress. Tai chi employs the idea of yin and yang along with qi or life force. Some of the movement names are nature-centric and often groups of people gather in parks to practice.

How It Works

A number of styles of tai chi exist but generally the focus is on a series of flowing movements accompanied with deep breathing. One pose runs into the next gently and gracefully which allows for exercise and increased flexibility. Tai chi is considered a kind of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) and boasted approximately 2.3 million practitioners in a 2007 survey according to the National Institutes of Health.

Benefits

Tai chi offers a number of benefits. It is weight-bearing which can help bone health while still being low impact and easy on the joints. Muscle strength and flexibility can also increase from regular practice. The focused, meditative aspect can promote decreased stress and anxiety. It may also aid existing problems. Balance and coordination can improve which may lessen the risk of falls while the gentle stretching movements can ease stiffness and pain. More research needs to be done but initial reports indicate tai chi may also boost the immune system, reduce blood pressure and increase overall well-being in the elderly.

Precautions

Tai chi is generally considered quite safe though it is important to make sure moves are being done correctly. (While it can be done at home with a DVD, experts recommend beginning with a live instructor to provide feedback and lessen risk of injury.) Individuals who are pregnant, have a hernia or suffer from any joint or back issues should check with their doctor before beginning tai chi to ensure which movements are safe for them.

Summary

Tai chi is a gentle flowing form of physical exercise coupled with mental focus and meditation. It is generally safe for most people and can offer benefits from reduced stress to increased strength, flexibility and balance.

References

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine nccam.nih.gov/health/taichi/introduction.htm

Mayo Clinic mayoclinic.com/health/tai-chi/SA00087