Monday, October 31, 2016

5 Brilliant Ways to Use Tea Tree Oil

Photo: Pixabay

It’s no secret that coconut oil’s powers extend far beyond the kitchen, but it’s not the only multitasking oil on the block.
Need proof? Pick up a bottle of tea tree oil. The essential oil has antimicrobial and antifungal properties, meaning it can vanquish a pimple just as quickly as it can rid your gym clothes of their, um, signature scent.
Tea tree oil has been found to have 100 different chemical compounds with antiseptic properties. It has long been used by native people of Australia for its therapeutic benefits, something even modern science can attest to.
While you can’t add it to your smoothies (the oil, sourced from trees and plants Down Under, is considered toxic when ingested), there are still plenty of ways that you can get a healthy boost from it.
tea tree oil for scalp and hair treatment

1. As an all-natural scalp and hair treatment

If you’re all about washing your hair every single day or you’r product junkie, you’ve probably got a bit of build-up on your scalp. And remember: healthy follicles = thick, shiny locks.
So the next time you lather up, Allmer suggests adding a few drops of tea tree oil into your regular shampoo. It’ll help break down any product that’s been left behind and is especially useful if your scalp is dry and itchy, or if you’ve got full-fledged dandruff. It’s calming, Allmer says, and can cut through any fungus that may be causing your flakes.
tea tree oil as a natural laundry freshener and to remove odors

2. As a natural laundry detergent for your much-loved activewear

It’s so obvious it seems silly to point out, but your sports bras, leggings, and sports socks get more of a, well, workout than the rest of your wardrobe. Thankfully, tea tree oil has an “incredible ability to freshen” super-sweaty clothes, Allmer says. It can help remove odors and launder at a microbial level. She recommends adding two teaspoons of tea tree oil to your wash load to give an extra-deep clean and keep your treasured athleisure pristine.
Photo: Pexels

3. As a toothbrush freshener

Regular brushing is key for a healthy smile, but it also means your toothbrush—which fights the good fight on behalf of your teeth and gums every day—could use a regular cleaning of its own. Again, that’s where tea tree oil comes in. “Mix a few drops into a cup of water and place the brush into the solution for a several minutes,” Allmer advises. Rinse thoroughly, and you’re good to go.
tea tree oil as a natural nail treatment

4. As a chemical-free nail treatment

Even if you know how to get a truly non-toxic mani & pedi, simply wearing polish 24/7 can take its toll. Allmer says that adding a few drops of tea tree oil to an all-natural hand cream can help lead to happy cuticles and stronger nails, which is why she advises slathering it on regularly. Plus, studies have shown that tea tree oil may be effective in treating nail infections, too. 
tea tree oil to soothe and relieve sunburn

5. As the ultimate sunburn soother

While aloe vera may be the first natural remedy you think of to treat sensitive sunburned skin, tea tree oil is an excellent option, too. When mixed with a moisturizer, it can help reduce discomfort and itchiness, Allmer explains—and you can use it in conjunction with aloe for a one-two punch.
Just remember: Unless you’re spot-treating pimples, always be sure to dilute tea tree oil with your favorite moisturizer or a carrier oil, like jojoba or almond, to avoid irritation. It’s powerful, which is what makes it such a wellness workhorse.
~Thanks to Willa Tellekson-Flash

Monday, October 24, 2016

The Best Relationship Advice Ever

Sometimes we find ourselves in the type of relationship that appeals to our seemingly insatiable appetite for companionship. We repeat the cycle of falling in love, committing, and then staying in a relationship that doesn't stimulate the soul. 
We can look at relationships in a fresh light, to break the pattern.

1. Understand the role of romantic relationships. 

We're pulled to people for many different reasons. We're often pulled by physical attraction, the way they make us laugh, their honesty, maybe even because we feel they won't trigger our insecurities. 
We may feel comfort, affection, sexual satisfaction, etc., but the larger role of romantic relationships is to help us to see ourselves, and to grow into the best version of ourselves that we can become. 
The only way you will find consistent satisfaction and fulfillment in romantic relationships is if you are dedicated not only to loving your partner and to being authentic but if you are also dedicated to using that space to heal and grow. 

2. There is no perfect person waiting for you. 

Many of us have an idea in our minds of our ideal mate. Although it's important to understand the core aspects that you desire in a partner, it's important to not become so attached to an idea of a dream partner that you turn people away who have many (often necessary) things to teach us. 

3. Be cautious of future building. 

The fairy tale, the dream of finding someone with whom we can spend the rest of our lives has been programmed into our subconscious from a very young age. 
Some relationships are meant for a moment, some for a season, and some for a lifetime. Our minds tend to create the trap of projecting a future with another person before we even know how compatible we are with them. 
We can appreciate what the relationship has to offer us. We can even be committed to that person. However, be cautious when your mind starts selling you on the dream of a future and you begin to sell your partner on that idea. 
You will know in time how compatible you are; relax and take your time. The quality of an authentic romantic relationship does not need to be diminished because there is no projected future. Take your time and honor what the present moment has to offer you.
If, for example, you desire optimal wellness, learn from those who are passionate about health and who really know their stuff. The same holds true in romantic relationships. You interest here indicates you are on a path to higher experiences of love, and I applaud your interest.
~Thanks to Devon Loomis

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Thyroid Imbalance? Here's A Checklist To Bring To Your Doctor

Think You Might Have A Thyroid Imbalance? Here's A Checklist To Bring To Your Doctor Hero Image

Did you know that 27 million Americans have some form of thyroid dysfunction? Even more shockingly, as many as 60 percent of them don't even know it. The American Thyroid Association estimates that one in eight women will develop a thyroid disorder in her lifetime. Yet I see this day in and out in my clinic. Patients come to me with thyroid dysfunction that hasn't been properly diagnosed by the multiple doctors they saw before coming to me.
This is a major problem because your thyroid regulates all of your metabolic processes. When it is underactive, also known as hypothyroidism, everything slows down, leading to weight gain, fatigue, dry skin, hair loss, poor concentration, constipation, infertility, low libido, depression, and low body temperature. When it is overactive, your metabolism speeds up, leading to weight loss, anxiety, insomnia, fast heartbeat, and loose stool.
If you suspect that your thyroid is out of whack, or you're already being treated for thyroid dysfunction and still have symptoms, take a look at the seven common missteps conventional doctors make in diagnosing thyroid dysfunction:

1. They're not checking for thyroid dysfunction.

This may sound shocking, but some thyroid dysfunction goes undiagnosed simply because your doctor never tested for it. If you're a woman under 40, you recently gave birth, or are a man, or you already have a condition such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, or an autoimmune disease, which have many overlapping symptoms with thyroid problems, your doctor simply may not order thyroid lab testing.
On top of that, symptoms of thyroid dysfunction can be vague. Fatigue, anxiety, hair loss, weight gain, depression, and other symptoms are often written off as signs of aging or stress. So first things first, it is important to make sure your doctor is including a complete thyroid panel as part of your workup.

2. They're not testing ALL of your thyroid levels.

If your doctor does order thyroid lab work, they often only check thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) levels. Conventional medicine still uses TSH levels as the key marker in diagnosing thyroid dysfunction because in many cases it's elevated in patients with an underactive thyroid. An elevated TSH level means your pituitary is signaling that you're low in thyroid hormone but your thyroid isn't ramping up production. However, this only tells you what the pituitary is doing, it doesn't tell you what levels of hormones your thyroid is producing, or your level of the active form of thyroid hormone vs. the storage form.
 At a glance, here are the levels I recommend testing. You can bring this list in to your doctor and request this exact panel:
  • TSH
  • Free T4 (the storage form)
  • Free T3 (powers metabolic processes)
  • Reverse T3 (slows down metabolic processes)
  • TPO, TG -AB (more on these below)

3. They rely on "normal" reference ranges instead of optimal levels.

Even if your doctor does order a full thyroid workup, they're usually relying on "normal" reference ranges that are too broad and often inaccurate. When they created the lab reference ranges for a healthy thyroid, they later discovered that they had included people who already had thyroid dysfunction! Because of this, in 2003, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists recommended that the lab reference ranges become more narrow; however, still today, most doctors and laboratories haven't updated their practices. 
This is why many patients come into my office saying their doctor told them their thyroid levels are normal but they still have symptoms. Instead, I and other functional medicine doctors aim for optimal thyroid ranges in all of our patients, which are much narrower and catch thyroid dysfunction much sooner. I've included these optimal ranges as well as a letter for your doctor explaining why I, and many other physicians, recommend them, in my book.

4. They don't test for thyroid antibodies.

The vast majority of thyroid dysfunction is caused by autoimmunity, meaning your immune system is attacking your thyroid and causing it to underproduce (Hashimoto's) or overproduce (Graves' disease) thyroid hormones. Conventional medicine uses the same treatment protocol for autoimmune and non-autoimmune thyroid dysfunction, so they don't care if you have thyroid antibodies.
In functional medicine, we want to know if your condition is caused by autoimmunity because it changes what the treatment plan is. Environmental factors including diet, gut health, toxins, infection, and stress are the underlying causes of autoimmunity, and we want to address them, because once you have one autoimmune disease you're three times as likely to develop another one.

5. They don't test for nutrient deficiencies.

In order for your thyroid to function properly, we need certain nutrients. These nutrients help you produce thyroid hormones, convert them from their storage to their active form, allow them to enter your cells to attach to thyroid receptors, and support immune function.
Here is a list of the nutrients needed for optimal thyroid function:
  • Iodine
  • Tyrosine
  • Selenium
  • Zinc
  • Iron
  • Vitamin A
  • B vitamins
  • Vitamin D

6. They don't test sex or stress hormones.

The thyroid is just one component of our complex endocrine system that controls our hormones. Conventional medicine still tends to view each piece of the endocrine system as separate rather than working with them as an integrated whole, even though stress hormones and estrogen levels have a remarkable impact on the thyroid.
Cortisol, the primary stress hormone, can cause you to underproduce thyroid hormones, which keeps them in their inactive state and desensitizes thyroid receptors in your cells. Many patients with adrenal fatigue—often caused by chronic stress—also have thyroid dysfunction. Excess estrogen also binds up thyroid hormones, which is why many women who are pregnant or on birth control have thyroid problems. 

7. They don't consider the root cause of thyroid dysfunction.

The body is a complex, integrated system, and many factors can influence thyroid function. As I mentioned before, there are certain key environmental factors that play a big role in thyroid health, namely leaky gut, diet, toxins, infection, and stress. Unfortunately, because your doctor spends only a few minutes with you and is primarily concerned with offering prescriptions, they often aren't interested in addressing lifestyle factors to actually reverse your condition.
In functional medicine on the other hand, we spend far more time learning our patients' health history, ordering comprehensive lab work, and optimizing lifestyle changes. While this process takes a lot more time and patience, it also leads to far better results.
~Thanks to Dr. Amy Myers

Monday, October 17, 2016

5 Daily Detoxifying Rituals To Add To Your Self-Care Routine

5 Daily Detoxifying Rituals To Add To Your Self-Care Routine Hero Image
Photo: Stocksy
One of the best times to detox your body is when there is a change of season, but these practices can be done all year long or whenever you feel like you need a boost. I do these daily and like to think of the process as a daily mini retreat I do for myself. It's a moment where I can have a dialogue with my body. These five rituals will take less than 15 minutes a day, so enjoy yourself while you give your body an opportunity to get rid of toxins and thrive. Other benefits? During the process you become more aligned, have more energy, and are ready to face the day. Plus you will feel great thanks to the time you have decided to take for yourself.
The set up of your bathroom is important as it helps you relax. Switch off the light, light candles, and put on some relaxing music. This takes less than a minute to set it up. I invite you to do it, it’s good for you!
1. Dry body brushing
Brushing our teeth two to three times a day is feels so natural, it's habitual. Believe it or not, our bodies needs brushing too, just like our hair and teeth! Dry body brushing is a great way to detoxify your body and eliminate over a pound of waste a day! The skin is the body’s largest organ and it eliminates 25 percent of the toxins in your body each day, which equates to over a whole pound of waste! Every minute we lose over 30,000 dead skin cells, which are replaced by new healthy skin cells.

How to do it: Use a brush with soft natural bristles, preferably with a longer handle. Synthetic bristles often contain chemicals that are best to avoid. Begin brushing at your feet and work your way slowly up the body with long sweeping motions, always brushing towards the heart. When dry brushing the stomach it is best to go in a clockwise motion as that works with the natural digestive flow.
The skin may be slightly flushed afterwards but it should not be red or sore. Be sure to avoid brushing over fresh wounds, burns and cuts. The skin should be dry but not excessively dry when brushing. If you shower after brushing, it will help remove exfoliated skin cells.
Benefits: It stimulates the lymphatic system and helps with muscle tone. It removes dead skin cells. It makes your skin softer, smoother, and tighter by increasing the flow of blood, and improves circulation, which reduces the appearance of cellulite. It also improves digestion, reduces stress, and energizes your whole body.
2. Hot towel scrubbing
This is like living a spa experience at home! Body scrubbing can be done before or after your bath or shower, or anytime during the day. All you need is a sink with hot water and a medium-sized cotton washcloth. Doing it at the sink has a deeper physical, mental, and emotional effect than doing it in the shower. For a maximum effect, scrub your body twice a day: once in the morning and once again in the evening. Scrub for 2 to 20 minutes, depending on the amount of time you have.
How to do it: Turn on the hot water and fill the sink. Add a few drops of lavender essential oil if you wish. Hold the towel at both ends and place in the hot water. Don’t burn yourself! Wring out the towel. While the towel is still hot and steamy, begin to scrub the skin gently. Do one section of your body at a time: for example, begin with the hands and fingers and work your way up the arms to the shoulders, neck and face, then down to the chest, upper back, abdomen, lower back, buttocks, legs, feet, and toes. Scrub until the skin becomes slightly pink or until each part becomes warm. Reheat the towel often by dipping it in the sink of hot water after scrubbing each section, or as soon as the towel starts to cool.
Benefits: This activates the lymphatic system. It calms the mind, reduces muscle tension, relieves stress, and helps spread energy through your chakras. It helps you create a profound and loving relationship with your body. It promotes circulation and opens the pores to release stored toxins. Done it the morning, it will reenergize you and it deeply relaxes you at night.
3. Coconut oil pulling
How to do it: Before you eat or drink anything, put ½ to 1 tablespoon of coconut oil in your mouth. Swish it around for 5 to 20 minutes. At first, you might feel disgusted having oil in your mouth. Start with 30 seconds and keep at it as you will feel the benefits quite rapidly. While you are swishing it becomes toxic so spit carefully into garbage bin or toilet. Not in the sink as it will clog it up. Then rinse your mouth a couple times and wash your teeth.
Benefits: Coconut oil pulling will kill cold and flu germs, and bad breath. It whitens the teeth, prevents cavities and gingivitis, and strengthens the gums. It heals cracked and dry lips, reduces inflammation, decreases bacterial load in the mouth, detoxifies the body, and helps regulates hormonal imbalance. 
4. Tongue scraping
Tongue scraping is simple and inexpensive, yet completely transformative!
A tongue scraper is a thin, U-shaped device made of stainless steel or plastic, consisting of a blunt edge that removes build-up from the surface of the tongue. It originated in Ayurveda, which says that people who use it are more expressive and thoughtful, better public speakers, and more sincere and authoritative conversationalists. Interesting, huh?
How to do it: Apply a few quick strokes after brushing your teeth. Use the round edge to scrape gently down, while applying slight pressure. Rinse under running water and gently scrape again until no white residue is left.
Benefits: It helps fight cavities and prevents bad breath. It reduces excess mucus in the mouth, and in turn the nose and throat. It reduces cravings greatly and resensitizes your taste buds, which makes whole foods taste more delicious than ever. It even enhances kissing by making the tongue more fresh. You're welcome. 
5. Water with lemon
Lemons are jam packed with nutrients, including vitamin C, B complex vitamins, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and fiber. They contain more potassium than apples and grapes!
Because of how hard lemon juice can be on the enamel of your teeth, it’s important to dilute it with water of any temperature (though lukewarm is recommended). Drink it first thing in the morning, and wait 15 to 30 minutes to have breakfast. This will help you fully receive the benefits of lemon water.
The popular belief is that lemons are very acidic. Yes they are! But inside the body, lemons are one of the most alkalizing foods. 
Benefits: Lemon water gives your immune system a boost. Thanks to its excellent source of potassium, it’s good for your heart health, as well as your brain and nerve function. It aids digestion and cleanses your system by flushing out the toxins. It decreases blemishes and wrinkles, and gives radiance to your skin. It reduces inflammation and helps your lose weight by fighting hunger cravings. It gives you an energy boost, and reduces anxiety and depression—smelling the fragrance of lemon essential oil has a calming effect on the nervous system.
I recommend you try this mini retreat at least once a week, or by integrating different elements daily. Enjoy every minute of this sacred moment you will create for yourself.
 ~ Thanks to Paola Susin

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

3 Simple Mindfulness Techniques to Help you Shine Even on Bad Days


Imagine,  you just got out of a super long meeting, suffered through a soundtrack of wailing car horns, and arrived at Trader Joe’s: and the line inside is wrap-around-the-store levels of crazy. What do you do? While it’s tempting to give in to a stress nosedive, the key to calmness may be a lot closer than you think.

You have more power over how you feel than you ever thought possible. Traditional meditation is a wonderful 2,500 year-old-practice—it simply needs to be refined for the realities of the modern world you live in.
Yes, we’re talking mindfulness—but these are actually simple, results-oriented exercises that you can carry with you throughout the day, whether you’re on the subway, in the midst of a work crisis, or navigating the general obstacles of modern life.

The breathing method

We’ve all been advised to “take a deep breath” at one point or another—but doing so with thoughtfulness is a whole other story. 
1. Pull the air down deep into your lungs and smile as you do. With every breath in, feel that smile spread across your cheeks, up to your eyebrows, and beneath your scalp. Feel the muscles around your eyes and forehead relax, and feel your tongue drop from the roof of your mouth as your shoulders relax.
2. When your body is calmed, attach that smile onto your next inhale and imagine that your breath is carrying that energy deep into your body, just below your navel.
3. Continue breathing, allowing the energy of your smile to expand beyond your lungs and into your body. Feel that energy as it expands down your arms and legs out to your fingers and toes, and imagine it washing the stress and strain from your body.

The awareness technique

It may seem counterintuitive to focus even more when you’re anxiety is through the roof—but in reality, the opposite can be true. By zeroing in on your five senses, you can actually ground yourself and put things into perspective. 
1. Stop for a moment and scroll through each of your five senses: sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. Simply note the sounds around you, free from judgment. Make a note of what scents or smells fill the air. Feel your body in the chair beneath you, or in your feet as they press into the ground.
2. If you’re walking down the street, simply notice the color of the sky, the cars, and the people. If a car is honking, label it as “honking.” Label everything, not as good or bad, but as a way to let your primordial brain understand that these are not threats you should be stressed about, but part of the modern world you live in every day.
3. Smile as you do this. (Smiling never hurts, no matter where you are.)

The two-minute break

Even if you don’t do a daily meditation, you can still get mega de-stressing bonuses from taking a series of short, mindful breaks throughout the day. These practices will create a more positive, productive, and purposeful environment for you to enjoy no matter how fast the world spins around you.
1. When you feel yourself spiraling out of control or sitting in the midst of chaos, take a small timeout to have a cup of tea or unplug from devices.
2. While you’re in “break mode,” use the awareness method above to scan your five senses and place your attention in the present moment (or the cup of tea you’re enjoying) to recenter.

~Thanks to Jeff Cannon & Eva Medoff

Blog Archive