Natural Health

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5/16/2014

Vitamins to Fight FatigueMaintaining a stable level of blood sugar (glucose) throughout the day is a vital part of fighting fatigue and feeling energized. Everything you eat affects your glucose level, but sugars, carbohydrates, fats, and proteins are all metabolized differently, providing significantly different results.

Simple sugars burn first and fast. They are responsible for the energy spikes and crashes that many people experience throughout the day.
Complex carbohydrates. Once the simple sugars are depleted, the body burns complex carbohydrates, such as beans, whole grains, and vegetables. These are broken down into glucose more slowly than simple sugars, which allows them to stabilize blood sugar between meals. However, even the healthiest carbohydrates can only provide the body with glucose for a few hours after a meal.[1]

Fats and proteins are the body’s long-term energy reserves, and can even be used for months into starvation.[1] When properly metabolized, they are the key to a steady, long-term supply of glucose.

For many people, though, nutritionally poor diets can halt the conversion of fats and proteins into glucose, which results in chronically low levels of blood sugar and decreased energy. This means that people can eat sufficient (or excessive) fat and protein, but still feel exhausted. The problem is a breakdown of energy-producing machinery, not a lack of fuel.

Minerals and Vitamins to Fight Fatigue

The breakdown occurs because protein cannot be converted into glucose without adequate supplies of certain vitamins and minerals, which are often missing from nutritionally poor diets. To restore proper metabolism and boost energy, it is vital to maintain a daily supply of these energy-producing vitamins and minerals.

Biotin is excreted from the body on a daily basis, so it needs to be replenished daily. Biotin can be found in carrots, walnuts, almonds, cashews, and other nuts.
Magnesium and zinc.
Both are found in high levels in spinach.
Calcium
is required for lipid oxidation.[2] It can be found in cabbage, broccoli, and almonds.
Co-Q10, iron, sulfur, and copper
. Kale, cashews, and avocado contain high levels of copper, while spinach is rich in iron. Read a detailed discussion on Co-Q10 supplementation here.
Oxaloacetate is an important part of the metabolic cycle. Studies indicate that a lack of oxaloacetate can cause energy production to fall by nearly 500%.[3]

These nutrients are found abundantly in whole-food, vegan, vegetarian, Mediterranean, and paleo diets, which provide all three of the important types of fuel: complex carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins. Maintaining stable and balanced quantities of these nutrients and fuels will allow the body to produce short-, medium-, and long-term energy. Give it a try and share your experience with us in the comments section below.

References:

  1. Biochemistry. 5th edition.
  2. The Journal of Biological Chemistry, April 25, 1972 247, 2255-2265.
  3. J Neurochem. 1988 Mar;50(3):673-80.


5/1/2014

"Whoever you are, you are more of that person when you're in labor." ~ Dina L.Relles 

While all labors are beautiful and miraculous, they often push a mother and beyond her mental and physical limits. Such was the case with a recent birth I attended. Momma checked into the hospital in the wee hours of the morning and rested between mild contractions until mid morning. After a few laps around the hospital hallways, a breath of fresh air on the terrace and some hip circles, momma’s sensations really began to pick up. Before long she was in and out of the stationary tub, rotating her pelvis on a birthing ball and groaning through the contractions in the birth tub. Momma was focused and consistent in keeping her energy on moving baby down and out of the birth canal. After a good nine hours of solid active labor with intense contractions, the medical staff checked her dilation. She had been 3cm. nine hours ago and was still 3cm. dilated now.

Trillium

Momma was discouraged; she felt she had reached her limit hours ago. It was evening now and momma had been awake for over 36 hours as she had not slept the night before. After some discussion of mommas’s options, the medical staff left the room to let momma make some decisions. The room was dark and quiet. The only sounds were the groans of the contractions, the shared breathing of momma and dadda and the swishing water of the birth tub. In the midst of the quietness momma said, “I am grateful. I am grateful for my baby. I am grateful for Michael. I am grateful that my mom is here. I am grateful to be in the water. I am grateful for the contractions. I am grateful for our doula, I am grateful my labor started naturally. I am grateful...” As momma continued her list, her gratefulness transformed a burdened environment back into an open and fresh experience.

Media often portrays childbirth as an excrutiating experience where mothers completely loose their cool, and start cursing at their partners as they grow fangs. My earlier post about why I was too chicken to have a medicated birth was my first exposure to this phenomena. Here though, in this medical environment, with gadgets, monitors, beeps and pagers was a perfectly serene mother, choosing to be grateful. It was suggested she be given  petocin to help her uterus contract and get her past 3 cm. Momma acknowledged that at the peak of her pain threshold, she didn’t want the more intense contractions pitocin would give her without an epidural. Neither the pitocin nor the epidural were in her birth plan. But grateful for the assistance they would provide, momma agreed to both. The epidural allowed her to rest through the night and in the morning, momma spent less than 20 minutes pushing before she met the newest love of her life.

After a birth, I like to ask mommas to tell me their birth story. My perspective is valuable, but not nearly as valuable as momma’s perspective of the experience. Can you guess what this momma said?

“I am grateful for this experience,” was her first response. She explained how thrilled she was to have experienced a natural and un-medicated labor for as long as she did. She was very grateful for the relief brought about by the epidural. She was grateful that her fingers we no longer as swollen. She was grateful to eat without worrying about her blood sugar. She was grateful for her precious little boy. For each moment of her labor, she was grateful.

It is always such an honor to be present at a birth, and this birth was no exception. I gained so much from this momma’s gratefulness. Momma, you know who you are; and for you - I am grateful. 

Trillium photo by Lisa Marie Morgan; "I found this beautiful and delicate flower the day after the described birth. Grateful!"



5/1/2014

Surprising Uses for Electromagnetic Pulse TherapyBy administering energy in controlled, coherent pulses, physicians can use electromagnetic pulse therapy to treat wounds, chronic pain, and alcoholism. While research supports the benefits of this type of therapy when performed by professional physicians using clinical instruments, it does not support claims that electrotherapy mats and home devices effectively treat soft tissue pain.[1] This article, then, looks only at professionally administered therapies.

Wound Healing

Low-intensity direct current (LIDC) is safely administered by placing the electrodes from the LIDC instrument onto the surface of the skin. A very small amount of electric current flows in one direction to the site and creates a magnetic field around the wound. This creates an effect known as galvanotaxis, which causes fibroblasts and keratinocytes to travel to the wound and begin to heal tissue upon reaching the damaged area.[2,3] In studies, this effect has been shown to increase the rate of healing by 100% to 150%.[4,5] It also makes the resulting scar tissue more resistant to future damage.

In addition, LIDC has antimicrobial effects. In two studies, patients who received LIDC experienced no infections and less discomfort at their wound sites.[4,6] Typically, treatment is administered for 60 minutes each day until the wound is healed.

Depression, Pain, and More

Cranial electrotherapy stimulation (CES) is another type of electric procedure approved by the FDA when administered by trained physicians and health providers. In this treatment for depression, insomnia, and anxiety, electrodes that are placed on the ears send a small electric current into the brain.[7] This deactivates certain portions of the brain, which mitigates symptoms of neural imbalance and hyperactivity by controlling neurotransmitter release and neuron signaling patterns.

This deactivation has also been shown to reduce the pain symptoms of fibromyalgia. Patients using CES devices report that they experience a decrease in chronic pain, and MRI scans confirm that this is due to a deactivation of pain signaling in the brain.[8] Fibromyalgia patients using CES have been shown to experience a 28% reduction in tenderness, a 27% reduction in pain intensity, and a 55% improvement in quality of sleep.[9] Similarly, patients who use CES therapy for spinal cord injuries report a significant decrease in pain intensity.[10]

Alcoholism

CES has also been used to treat the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. Studies show that CES can help alcoholics to reduce their alcohol consumption as well as the stress and depression associated with quitting.[11] The treatment plan consists of daily 30-minute sessions over a period of four weeks. Additional studies indicate that the calming effect of CES also reduces anxiety symptoms in alcoholics.[12]

How To Find Effective Electrotherapy

This discussion of electrotherapy comes with two important caveats. The first is that home use electrotherapy mats are not proven to be effective at relieving soft tissue pain. The pain relief described here is a result of direct current being applied to the brain by clinical CES devices that are operated by physicians. Mats are not shown to achieve this result.

The second important note is that CES shuts down parts of the brain. This makes it an effective method for relieving symptoms, but like medication, it is not a cure or remedy. The advantage that CES has over medication is that CES does not elicit side effects. As FDA-approved treatments, LIDC and CES are available at clinics that specialize in trauma therapy and rehabilitation, and are likely to be covered by most insurance companies. Natural Health Advisory Institute has a searchable physician or practitioner directory where those practicing electro-stimulation therapy can be located.

References

[1] Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2009 Oct 7;(4):CD004251.
[2] FASEB J. March 2005; 19(3): 379-386.
[3] Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 1990 Nov;31(11):2278-82.
[4] Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 1985 Jul;66(7):443-6.
[5] Phys Ther. 1976 Mar;56(3):265-9.
[6] Eplasty. 2008; 8: e28.
[7] Brain Behav. May 2012; 2(3): 211-220.
[8] Explore (NY). 2013 Jan-Feb;9(1):32-40.
[9] J Clin Rheumatol.2001 Apr;7(2):72-8; discussion 78.
[10] J Rehabil Res Dev. 2006 Jul-Aug;43(4):461-74.
[11] Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 1995 Aug;19(4):1004-10.
[12] Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 1986 Mar-Apr;10(2):158-60.



4/29/2014

Mother

Is it the intense colors or the larger than life forms that catch my eye? Is it the light in the sky, or the simple intimacy of her work that draws me?

I am referring to the bold and beautiful artwork of Margarita Sikorskaia. I keep coming across her images and have to pause each time that I do. The first Sikorskaia painting I saw was of a dark-haired woman in a large, dark blue shawl holding her four children close. The mother exudes a sense of strength as she protects and cares for her children with both confidence and compassion.

The next painting I discovered features another large mother in a light blue dress huddled over her infant, she is either breastfeeding or cuddling her baby. In either case, this mother seems to be deeply engrossed with her babe.

These, and most of Sikorskaia’s paintings, are set outdoors under bright skies and arid landscapes. Sikorskaia was born in Russia and has lived in Minnesota since she was 22, yet the colors in her paintings reflect the classic color combinations of southwestern desert paintings of vast sunsets and stunning rock formations. Perhaps it is the intensity of emotion that links her paintings to these incredible expressions of nature.

After seeing these two images, I was curious about what else Sikorskaia had to offer. Finding her online gallery, I found more intimate moments between mothers and babies, tender times between fathers and children and passionate moments between lovers. Her work is so large in structure and form, yet so intimate in emotion. Sikorskaia’s work really began to speak to me. So I decided that I needed to speak to her.

March 4, 2014 I had the privilege of interviewing Sikorskaia. We talked about her work, her birth, the birth of her son and her thoughts on nature.

I first asked Sikorskaia about the major themes of her work. I had a long list of anticipated answers prepared, she gave me one word, Love. The love her images portray extend to herself, her friends, her family and to nature. “With giving birth, my priorities changed,” she said, “What seemed to be so important became unimportant. What was unimportant became important, such as a connection to the earth, to each other, to love.”

“I put on the canvas what I am feeling.” continued Sikorskaia. She explained that once she had given birth she had to begin making sense of who she was both as a mother and wife, but also as the woman she was before giving birth. Her intimate images between lovers depict these feelings. “After I had a child, I had a desire to remind myself of (my) body independent of a child.” She said this helped her get her sexuality back, a struggle many couples experience when a new baby arrives on the scene.

In her paintings Sikorskaia addresses not only the changes she experienced in motherhood, but also the changes she saw in the men around her. Of her paintings of big men holding small babies, Sikorskaia said she wanted to capture the emotion she saw in men’s faces as they would pass around her baby. “'I am a strong man holding this precious thing in my arms'...it transforms a macho man into a protector and a magical creature,” said Sikorskaia.

As her son’s birth brought Sikorskaia plenty of inspiration for her work, I asked for her son’s birth story. Her son was born on March 8th, internationally known as Women’s Day, after an 11 hour labor. She was at a birth center and had wanted to give birth in the water, “but I was so relaxed that my labor stopped, and so I got out.” She was told to lie down but explained that it was so uncomfortable she had to get up. Sikorskaia said that after several hours of labor, she was worried her midwife and birth team would want to interfere. “But they were so patient and there was nothing to worry about. And I was so thankful for that” she said. In her final reflections of her son’s birth, Sikorskaia said, “actually gravity helps. I tell everyone I know to use gravity to assist.”

I asked Sikorskaia if her Russian heritage had any impact on her attitudes towards birth. Like everything else, “Russian birth is changing rapidly,” she said. But Sikorskaia followed that comment with, “One-hundred percent, I am a Russian birth mom. Labor is just a part of life you go through. You just sit down or lay down and have a baby. I delivered on all fours." The story of her own birth carries the same casual tone. She explained that her parents had guests over and when they left her mother began to tidy up as she realized it was time to have the baby. Sikorkaia’s mother and father then walked to the birth center, which Sikorskaia made clear to distinguish was separate from the hospital in Russia. As men weren’t welcome in birth rooms at that time, Sikorskaia’s father walked home and was notified that his daughter had been born by the time he got there.

While both birth stories took place indoors, Sikorskaia said she tries to keep her characters in a natural environment, “where they belong.” She explained that the human experience often leaves us feeling disconnected. But being in nature helps us feel connected and allows us to be in the moment. “I like the beauty of the vastness (of nature), you can be the only figure and not feel lonely,” she said. Sikorskaia continued by explaining that when her outdoor characters are "embracing, kissing, holding,” they display “love and affection, being in the moment, a sense of peace.”

Sikorskaia’s work has certainly raptured me and transports me to those very particular moments that make up the beauty of a mother’s experience. Although the emotions she has expressed are frozen in time by oil pastels, Sikorskaia’s paintings have still more stories to tell. “When people look at my paintings and tell me what they see, I really like what they see,” said Sikorskia,“and it expands the painting. If they put their own story on it, it makes the painting bigger.”

Nursing

Take a moment to browse Sikorskaia’s work, what stories can you tell to make her paintings bigger? Please share.



4/21/2014

Pesticide driftThe following article is reposted with permission from the Pesticide Action Network.

Pesticide drift can lead to serious medical consequences, so it's important to take all incidents seriously and immediately seek medical attention. In addition to affecting people, pesticide drift can damage ecosystems, pets and wildlife, and cause economic harm by contaminating crops and poisoning livestock. It is important that all drift incidents are promptly reported, even if no damage is apparent.

If pesticides drift onto you or your neighbors, you should:

  • Evacuate the area, warn your neighbors and seek medical attention.
  • If you were hit with spray drift (droplets or dust particles) that contacted your skin, shower as soon after exposure as you can.
  • If you experience any symptoms of pesticide exposure, immediately see a doctor or call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.
  • Call for help. Once you are in a safe location, notify the appropriate authorities of the incident (see below). If you feel your life is in danger, call 911.

Always Report Pesticide Drift

Regardless of whether people were directly exposed to pesticide drift or any ecological damage or economic harm is immediately visible, it’s important to promptly report every drift incident to the agency responsible for pesticide enforcement. The appropriate agency varies by state, but it is typically the office of the County Agricultural Commissioner.

You should report the incident to both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and to your state agency:

  • The National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC) will report pesticide incidents to the U.S. EPA. Call 1-800-858-7378 from 8:00AM - 12:00PM PST.
  • Each state has an agency for reporting pesticide. Find your state on the NPIC webpage, and call the appropriate agency to have them record a report.

In California, calling 1-877-378-5463 should connect you with the appropriate office. If you seek medical attention, be sure to tell the doctor that pesticides are involved or suspected. In addition to helping the doctor diagnose and treat you, this will ensure that the incident is counted in official tallies, since many states require doctors and veterinarians to report cases of suspected pesticide poisoning incidents to the state.

It’s important to notify authorities as soon as possible, and to ask for a formal investigation and pesticide sampling on affected properties. This is because pesticide residue can degrade quickly, and samples should be taken as soon as possible if they are yield conclusive results. Write down all of the details of the exposure before you forget anything, including the time and date of the incident, what happened that led to the exposure, and the location of the application site and neighboring buildings.

Resources :

The Drift Catcher

In our work with communities on the ground, PAN leases or sells Drift Catchers to select groups. For advice on alternative ways to detect drift, read Getting the Drift on Chemical Trespass. You can also contact us or check out a list of pesticides the Drift Catcher can detect.

There is a commitment involved in conducting a Drift Catching study as a PAN community partner:

Driftcatching Takes People, Time and Money

While the Drift Catcher is simple to use, there is a time investment involved with taking samples and running the study, so it is best to have a group from your community working together. Anyone participating in Drift Catching studies must attend a training so that they can be certified in using the Drift Catcher. Group members must also be available to take samples when pesticide applications are occurring in the area.

The Drift Catcher is leased on a yearly basis to community groups. PAN selects these groups based on our current campaign goals. Leasing costs for the Drift Catcher are $200 per year. Sample analysis costs are high, typically ranging from $125 to $255 per sample. PAN may be able to help you find funding, or provide some support.

PAN often works with communities in the Midwest and California, but has partnered with groups from other areas in the past. Examples of previous Drift Catching projects include:

  • Communities in Illinois
  • Communities in Iowa
  • Communities in Minnesota
  • Hastings, FL
  • Hawai'i SEED
  • Philippines
  • Sisquoc, CA
  • Tehama, CA


Photo by Fotolia



4/18/2014

TMJ symptomsTemporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders affect up to 12% of Americans and can cause pain, decreased range of jaw motion, and a clicking noise associated with movement.[1] They can also lead to referred pain—pain that is felt at a location other than where it originates—all over the head and neck, including earaches and headaches.[2]

Causes of TMJ Disorders

TMJ disorders can be influenced by multiple factors, including traumatic injuries, hormonal influences, and overuse and/or improper use of the muscles of mastication (chewing). Clenching of the teeth (bruxism) is often a leading cause of TMJ muscle pain, although many people are not aware that they have this habit.[3] Women are more likely than men to suffer from TMJ symptoms, and these disorders are most likely to occur in people 20 to 40 years old.[1]

Natural Treatment Options for TMJ Disorders

There are many natural ways to treat the unpleasant symptoms of TMJ.

1. Occlusal Splint. Most commonly known as night guards, these splints are custom-made dental orthotics that help protect the surfaces of the teeth and prevent clenching. These are one of the most frequently used treatments for TMJ disorders. They are most often worn at night.[1]

Acupuncture

2. Physical therapy. Stretching and range-of-motion exercises designed by a physical therapist can help to relieve pain and restore proper movement and function of the jaw.[4]

3. Massage. Massage has been shown to be effective in relieving TMJ pain.[5] Some massage therapists specialize in TMJ and even work on the muscles inside the mouth to release tension surrounding the jaw.

4. Acupuncture. Acupuncture has been shown to provide short-term relief from painful TMJ disorder symptoms.[6]

5. Osteopathic manipulative technique. A study in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies showed that this technique, practiced by a doctor of osteopathy, reduced pain and improved range of motion after six months.[7]

6. Self-management. If you suffer from TMJ pain or discomfort, it is important to be aware of your own habits. Avoid chewing gum or eating hard, chewy foods to put less stress on the TMJ muscles. Keep your teeth apart with the jaw muscles relaxed as much as possible throughout the day. Avoiding stress and learning what situations cause you to clench your teeth are both very important in preventing TMJ symptoms from getting worse or returning.

References:

[1] Dent Clin North Am. 2013 Jul;57(3):465-79
[2] Otolaryngol Clin North Am. 2014 Apr;47(2):301-331.
[3] J Oral Rehabil. 2006 Jul;33(7):473-81.
[4] J Man Manip Ther. 2009;17(4):247-54.
[5] Adv Clin Exp Med. 2012 Sep-Oct;21(5):681-5.
[6] Clin J Pain. 2010 Jul-Aug;26(6):541-50.
[7] J BodywMov Ther. 2010 Apr;14(2):179-84.



4/7/2014

My earliest memories of horseradish (Cochlearia Armoracia) include my mother's mother digging it up in late August. She would grind it up and share her plentiful batches with the neighbors, who would add it to everything from sauer krat to meat loaf. Everyone recognizes the pungent taste of this common plant. It can be found in many mayo-based sauces to complement meats heavy in fat content, like pork

Horseradish, from: https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/hn-2111007#hn-2111007-uses

The medicinal part of this plant is the root. WebMD.com lists these as other names for the peppery root:

Amoraciae Rusticanae
Radix
Armoracia lopathifolia
Armoracia rusticana
Cochlearia armoracia
Cran de Bretagne
Cranson
Grand Raifort
Great Raifort
Meerrettich
Mountain Radish
Moutarde des Allemands
Moutarde des Capucins
Moutardelle
Nasturtium armoracia
Pepperrot
Rábano Picante
Rábano Rústico
Radis de Cheval
Raifort
Raifort Sauvage
Red Cole
Rorippa armoracia

No one seems to know the exact origin of the plant, but it became rather popular during the middle ages in the Nordic and Germanic regions. By the 1600's it had spread to England where it garnered its common name Horseradish. Horse meaning coarse, in ordering to distinguish it from the common radish. It is a member of the Cruciferae family as is broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, etc. It is cold tolerant and can be planted early on in the spring.

Healing Properties of Horseradish

This spicy root has been used for respiratory ailments. The famed Dr. Christopher suggested using Horseradish for sinus ailments. He advised holding a bit of the pungent root in the mouth until the taste was gone. Anyone that has ever eaten it knows the root's ability to make the sinuses instantly drain. Even today, it is in many remedies for respiratory complaints and allergies.

For centuries herbalists have used Horseradish as a remedy for urinary complaints, including stones. By mixing the ground root with vinegar and honey to taste, the diuretic qualities of horseradish can be put to use.

It is said to be able to ensure the gut's ability to produce protective mucus when eating meat that may be slightly questionable. While I do not recommend finding out if this works, it is interesting to know that it helps create protective mucus in the gut lining. This leaves room for experimentation to find out if it can aid in cases of irritated gut. It is said to be a remedy for intestinal worms in children.

Horseradish has also been shown in studies to display anti-bacterial effects. 

I've had many clients successfully use horseradish in herbal blends and as a single remedy. Since the taste can be quite pungent, the easiest way to get this herb down is as an encapsulated preparation. I have found that about six capsules, spread throughout the day, can make a world of difference in managing the stuffy, itchy, watery nose and eyes that can make spring a terrible experience for some. The horseradish can also be added to various meals in order to get the mucus flowing. It is better to get the mucus flowing in order to relieve the pain sometimes associated with these ailments.












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