Thursday, September 30, 2010

Smells Pretty (but not too pretty)

As you may have gathered from an earlier post, I am not fond of artificial fragrance. That includes any kind of synthetic perfume, perfume-y lotions, scented candles, and most incense. Most. But not all. There is one type of incense that I absolutely, positively love. I'd like you to meet Tara Healing Incense.

Original Tara Healing Incense

I find most incense to be cloyingly sweet, headache inducing, slightly nauseating, and generally irritating. Probably because it's toxic. An occasional whiff of Nag Champa is nostalgic - and doesn't bother me too much. But really, this is the only incense that not only agrees with me, but kinda rocks my world.

It is made by Tibetan refugees living in India, and this is what it says on the box:

"Tara Healing Incense which has been used for centuries old is a traditional Tibetan medicine for stress, depression and tension. It is prepared by hand according to ancient Tibetan medical system and is composed of 31 different pure and natural herbs. It is effective, non-toxic and non-addictive."

I always have a stash at home. And a few extra boxes on hand to give as gifts. A delightful little thing. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Probiotics. Skin.

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria.

Good bacteria help keep the immune system healthy. Your diet and lifestyle largely dictate the balance of good bacteria to bad bacteria hanging out in your body. Things like antibiotics (which kill ALL the bacteria, the good with the bad), long term use of birth control pills, stress, diets high in sugar, wheat, and processed foods all diminish your body's good guy count. Sometimes the bad guys can take over and cause other problems (like yeast and other fungal infections). That's why doctors often recommend eating yogurt when you take antibiotics - because yogurt contains acidophilus and acidophilus is a probiotic.

It is optimal to take a high quality probiotic supplement. You can buy probiotic supplements at any health food store. If you ask where they are, you will most likely be directed to the refrigerated section, as most probiotics need to be in the fridge to stay alive. Here's the deal though: there are several brands of probiotics that are stable at room temp and don't need to be refrigerated. I prefer these. That way, I can simply keep them in my purse and take them at my convenience.

Here are a few brands I like, but there are many:

Jarro-Dophilus EPS

Dr. Ohhira's

PB 8


It's important to have various strains of probiotics in your supplement, too. Some brands have just one strain, some have a bunch. Go for the ones with a bunch and switch them up from time to time, so your body gets lots of different good guys.

In 1964, Dr. R. H. Siver conducted a study using probiotics to treat gastric and intestinal disorders. He discovered that, in addition to improving his patients' gastrointestinal conditions, facial skin cleared up in 80% percent of his patients with acne. And the skin improved within the first two weeks of supplementation. Wow, right? Isn't it crazy that that was in the 60s and to this day most dermatologists still prescribe antibiotics (to teenagers, no less) for acne. The antibiotics only really appear to help while you're taking them, and when you stop, the acne comes back - only now your body is more resistant to antibiotics and probably completely wiped clean of good bacteria.

Here is an article you can read for a little more info.

The skin is the body's largest organ. Your skin looks the best when your body is thriving and healthy. Good bacteria help keep bad bacteria in check which leads to better health. I take them every day. Just sayin'.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Epsom Salt Bath


What could be better than a nice, hot soak after a long, hard day of.... anything?! How about a nice, hot soak in a bathtub with Epsom Salt? That is, if you're not walking distance from a natural mineral hot spring. And, since I am no longer residing at a hot springs retreat center in the Sierras, I take a lot of Epsom Salt baths.

This long standing folk remedy (the name comes from the mineral rich waters of Epsom, England - where the salts were known at least as far back as Shakespeare’s time) for aching muscles is very inexpensive and available at most supermarkets and drug stores.

The scientific name for Epsom Salt is magnesium sulfate heptahydrate (MgSO4·7H2O). And apparently, soaking in a tub with it increases the body's levels of both magnesium and sulfate.

According to the Epsom Salt Council (yes, there is one), magnesium, a major component of Epsom Salt, helps to regulate the activity of more than 325 enzymes and performs a vital role in orchestrating many bodily functions, from muscle control and electrical impulses to energy production and the elimination of harmful toxins.

Here are some more benefits of magnesium:

• Improves heart and circulatory health, reducing irregular heartbeats, preventing hardening of the arteries, reducing blood clots and lowering blood pressure.
• Improves the body's ability to use insulin, reducing the incidence or severity of diabetes.
• Flushes toxins and heavy metals from the cells, easing muscle pain and helping the body to eliminate harmful substances.
• Improves nerve function by regulating electrolytes. Also, calcium is the main conductor for electrical current in the body, and magnesium is necessary to maintain proper calcium levels in the blood.
• Relieves stress. Excess adrenaline and stress are believed to drain magnesium, a natural stress reliever, from the body. Magnesium is necessary for the body to bind adequate amounts of serotonin, a mood-elevating chemical within the brain that creates a feeling of well being and relaxation.

And of sulfates:

While increasing your magnesium levels, Epsom Salt also delivers sulfates, which are extremely difficult to get through food, but which readily absorb through the skin. Sulfates serve a wide variety of functions in the body, playing a vital role in the formation of brain tissue, joint proteins and the mucin proteins that line the walls of the digestive tract. Sulfates also stimulate the pancreas to generate digestive enzymes and are believed to help detoxify the body's residue of medicines and environmental contaminants.

That's a lot of info. All's I know is that the soak feels great, softens the skin, and it's cheap and easy to find.

Use at least 2 cups to a full tub, and soak at least 15-20 minutes. I recommend moisturizing with coconut oil after the bath.

(Remember, I'm not a doctor, so if you have any health concerns, consult a doctor before using home remedies.)

Bonus: you can also use Epsom Salt in the garden! Read this for more info.