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Keeping the swelling down is one reason to ice after acute sprains and strains. But what happens after that acute phase? Did you know that the alternation of cold and hot applications on subacute and chronic injuries actually speeds up the healing process? This age old naturopathic technique manipulates blood flow in and out of the area like a pump would (think dilation vs. constriction). Warm compresses dilate, drawing in healing reinforcements (i.e. white blood cells and nutrients) to the vulnerable tissues. Once the area is sufficiently dilated and replenished (5 minutes), the application of cold (1 minute) to constrict these tissues extracts out the debris (think squeezing out a dirty sponge). Hydrotherapy is an incredible tool to speed up the healing process. The hardest part is getting yourself to do it!
INSTRUCTIONS: Begin with 1 minute of a cold application to the area. Then switch to a heat pack for 5 minutes. Alternate back and forth 3 cycles and then finish with 1 minute of cold (you would wring out a dirty sponge at the end of washing the dishes, wouldn’t you?). DO NOT USE IN ACUTE INJURY: Get the go ahead from your doctor before moving from strictly icing to adding heat.
Did you know that Arnica is prescribed by many surgeons for post surgical healing? It can also be used for swelling and bruising due to bumps and bruises. It is the most important remedy in my first aid kit.
Supplements and medication get a lot of attention in the media to assist with bone health. Weight bearing exercise and dietary measures are mentioned less often. But balance is one of the most important (and most effective) ways to ward off osteoporotic fractures! Creating stability through balance exercises not only stimulates bone remodeling (via weight bearing exercise) but also trains the brain and body to work in a focused and coordinated way. Yoga balancing postures that engage the lower back and hips are excellent ways to improve bone health and prevent fractures as we age.
Looking for a ritual that decreases stress, reduces inflammation, detoxifies the liver and improves gastrointestinal function? Look no further than the castor oil pack. Regular application a castor oil infused flannel to the abdomen with heat is just the ticket to address 4 issues in one. Check out our organic and plastic-free castor oil packs in the Harmony Shoppe which come with detailed instructions for use. Makes a great gift!
More and more evidence is recognizing that chronic illness has deep roots in environmental exposures. One family of toxicants, called solvents, effect the immune, neurological, cardiovascular, endocrine, and respiratory systems. These hidden stressors from paints, carpeting, furniture and car exhaust (to name a few) continuously circulate in our homes and workplaces creating symptoms like brain fog, arrhythmias, obesity and infertility. The good news is there are many ways to reduce their impact through avoidance, air purification and fortifying the body’s ability to detoxify them through diet, supplements and lifestyle modifications such as sauna therapy. All of these powerful tools help to reduce this toxic burden and provide the opportunity for improved health and wellbeing.
We continuously strive for balance between what we consume and what we release, both physically and mental/emotionally. This is especially true in these turbulent times. Mindfulness is a fantastic way to detoxify our thoughts as well as to identify holding patterns in the body. Breathing and visual techniques can then be used to disperse and process these unnecessary stressors. On a deeper physical level, the kidneys, bowels, and skin extract and detoxify in their own unique ways. Gentle yet powerful remedies such as teas, fruits, vegetables, and broths added to your daily routine can enhance and optimize the physical body’s ability to let go of that which does not serve.
Our body has the ability to conduct electricity. Think of the shocks that we unwittingly give our loved ones when we try to connect. Electricity simply means charged particles bouncing into and off of electrical fields. Many of our physiological processes utilize these particles to function (including our hearts).
We as a species harnessed electricity within the last 150 years and are often immersed in synthetic fields indefinitely. Earthing (grounding) is an easy way to re-connect to the primordial field that we are best suited for: Mother Earth. The simplest way to do this is to connect bare skin to the earth. Even a few minutes a day can bring beneficial changes. Studies have shown earthing improved blood flow, heart rate, and other electrically influenced processes that reduce inflammation, pain, improve sleep, repair tissue and lower cortisol levels. Garden! Go barefoot! Sit on the grass! A few minutes a day can make a world of difference.
A great way to prime your digestion for the day is to drink a glass of room temperature water with lemon first thing on waking. The lemon stimulates the liver and gets the whole system going. Another fun way to care for your GI tract is through herbs known as demulcents. Demulcents hydrate and soothe inflamed tissue from the throat onwards. Marshmallow Root is one of my favorite herbs for this use. Make a cold infusion by putting 1 tsp of dried root in 1 cup water. Cover and infuse for 6-12 hours and then strain. Drink this daily. If you have underlying medical conditions or are pregnant consult with a professional before using. As with everything, if it doesn’t sit right, stop doing it!
We can’t control most of the stress in our lives, especially these days…but one very important thing you CAN do is to cultivate some kind of routine or ritual into your life. Something solid that doesn’t change. Something your body can rely on as a daily touchstone. Your bedtime, wake time, meditation/yoga practice, breakfast, whatever. Synchronize your day in any way you can regularly, routinely, respectfully. By committing time daily to yourself you provide your body with a a beat, a rhythm which can be relied on in times of turbulence.
We pay a lot of money to ease ourselves of our aches and pains. Symptoms are regarded as nagging inconveniences at best. But if we ignore what they are trying to tell us and opt for suppressive therapies that make them “go away,” we are missing opportunities to move in the direction of better health and wellbeing. Harmony in Life Center has a multitude of caring practitioners trained in the healing arts who can help interpret this mysterious language and assist you in coming up with solutions that are more productive then palliation. By really listening to what our body is telling us we can usher in deeper and more meaningful change in our lives.
The skin is one of the largest organs of our detoxification system. It is often the first to show signs of illness and the last to heal. Dry skin brushing encourages detoxification by stimulating blood and lymph circulation, increasing the removal of waste to improve overall wellness. Check out our brushes in the Harmony Shoppe which include instructions for optimal use.
Did you know that by inhaling an essential oil such as lavender right before entering a stressful situation the body will actually reduce it's cortisol response, allowing you to feel more calm and relaxed? Another way to reduce stressful feelings is to make sure you are keeping your blood sugar levels steady throughout the day. Make sure to always pair a protein and carb when eating, especially at breakfast!
Did you know that 15 minutes in an infrared sauna has an effect similar to moderate exercise? That it increases endurance in athletes by 60%? It also provides tremendous benefits in chronic diseases by detoxifying heavy metals and many solvents. Perhaps the biggest benefit from sauna therapy is cardiovascular. Frequent sauna use lowered the risk of sudden cardiac death by nearly 50% in patients who suffered heart attacks previously. It also decreased episodes of angina. The risk of Alzheimer’s was lowered by 66% in people who use a sauna 4x a week. (References available on request.) Make sure the temperature is between 125F and 140F. 15-20 minutes 2-4 times weekly followed by a soapy shower. Make sure to wait at least 7 weeks after a heart attack prior to starting. Avoid in high risk pregnancy, aortic stenosis and unstable angina. Otherwise get sweating!
Homeopathy is my favorite tool to help restore wellness to the dis-eased. I mentioned Arnica for bumps and bruises in an earlier post and now I want to mention a lesser-known remedy: Silica. Silica 30c (found at most health food stores) is an excellent way to help the body rid itself of foreign objects such as splinters. Just dissolve 1 pillule in a clean mouth (away from food and drinks-water is ok) 1-3 times the first day and daily for the next few. One major contraindication: do not use if you have implants of any kind, as silica does not discern between wanted and unwanted foreign objects!
Health is a result of the free flow of energy. It is called ‘qi’ in Chinese medicine, ‘prana’ in Ayurvedic medicine, and is managed by the vital force in homeopathy. Disease results from the disruption of this flow. Energy stagnates and affects vulnerable tissues and organs creating dysfunction and decay. We often suppress the flow of energy in order to avoid the consequences of expression which can feel uncomfortable to us both physically and emotionally. Finding guides to assist you in supporting healthy expression of stagnant energies rather than suppressing the symptoms is the foundation of sustainable wellness.
As the accumulation of winter snow melts into streams and eventually rivers, now is the perfect time for us humans to promote the release of our own winter-accumulated contents. Early spring plants such as nettle, dandelion and parsley catch our eyes growing fresh and green after a long and dormant winter. Amazingly these little guys are full of minerals, vitamins, and plant based nutrients to support the liver and kidneys to clean out the blood of waste materials. Gentle detoxification through these herbs is one of the most important things one can do on a yearly basis to reset your physiology as it enters into the spring and summer months.