Mother Earth Living Blogs >

Natural Health
Better living through nature

5 Tips for Natural Stress Management

Stress is a natural part of life. The stress response system was designed to trigger the “fight-or-flight” response to save our primitive ancestors from life threatening situations. Today, this same mechanism jumps into action even if we’re not in physical harm. Although some stress can motivate us, long-term (chronic) stress can impact our health—physical and mental—negatively.

Although modern living can create extra stress, there are plenty of ways to unwind and manage it naturally. Try these simple, daily routines to improve your well-being.

woman drinking coffee
Photo by Adobe Stock/nd3000.

Go Decaf

Caffeine is often thought of as a necessary evil. It acts quickly to increase alertness and concentration, which are great for getting through a long day of studying or work, but too much caffeine can lead to insomnia, nausea, increased heart rate and anxiety. You might be super-productive, but boosting caffeine consumption ups the body’s cortisol levels (stress hormone) which results in increased sugar production and reduces the ability to absorb specific amino acids that promote calm.

Eat Well

Vitamins, healthful fats and other essential nutrients allow the brain to handle stress better. If you’re feeling depleted, stress may be to blame. When under stress, the adrenal glands release adrenaline and cortisol which trigger our instinctive “fight-or-flight” mode. Vitamin C is necessary for the production of these hormones and chronic stress often eliminates stores of this essential vitamin.

acupuncture in leg
Photo by Adobe Stock/Monet.

Try Acupuncture

Recent research discovered that acupuncture administered to the Zusanli area, below the knee, was able to reduce the production of stress hormones in the hypothalamus pituitary adrenal axis (HPA). Although the study participants were rats, the Zusanli point is the same in humans and is used by acupuncturists to help patients alleviate stress.

Calming Herbs

Even if you have tried-and-true stress-reducing habits, sometimes it still gets the best of us. In these situations, adaptogens—medicinal herbs that combat the effects of chronic stress—may come in handy. These herbs can be used in tinctures or teas and have been shown to restore cortisol to a normal level and combat ailments associated with stress.

woman walking dog at sunset
Photo by Adobe Stock/goodmanphoto.

Get Out

The benefits of physical activity are well established, but exercise is also crucial for mental health because it produces endorphins, which improve sleep and reduce stress. Take your fitness routine outside to add even more stress-relieving benefits. Research has illustrated the importance nature has on our well-being and has shown that exposure to nature, in various forms, aids in how we cope with stress.

Five Reasons to Try Trampoline Yoga


Photo Courtesy JumpSport

Yoga is an ancient, versatile exercise that can range from being deeply meditative to an intense workout. Trampoline Yoga falls into a happy place, somewhere in the middle of all the variations. After speaking with William Hedberg, contemporary dancer, California Institute for the Arts movement educator and founder of New York’s Shen Tao Studio, I began to understand that Trampoline Yoga is blossoming into a full blown trend for good reason.

If you are considering switching up your routine, I present you with five solid reasons to give Trampoline Yoga a go, courtesy of Mr. Hedberg.

Beginner Friendly

You don’t need yoga experience to start out. Hedberg notes that for one of his classes, you only need a sense of humor. “Pay attention to your weight,” he adds. Starting out is all about finding balance between gravity and levity, as well as exploring your curiosity.

Not only is the exercise beginner friendly, but it is great for all ages. “My mom just had a hip replacement; it’s been helpful for her. It has a massage quality,” says Hedberg.

The Challenge is Adjustable

Being just as versatile as basic yoga; you can add or take away things to make it more, or less, difficult. “It has its own unique challenges; it’s an hour of paying attention to that perfect bounce,” Hedberg explains. Poses range in difficulty and, of course, often consist of bouncing.


Photo Courtesy JumpSport

It’s Easy on the Joints

Yoga, in general, is not only easier on joints, but it nourishes and revitalizes them. Hedberg elaborates, since the trampoline is much softer than the ground, ligaments are massaged rather than strained. Muscles have an “elastic feeling” during a session, and are being trained to be springy. Hedberg referenced the experience to putting a literal spring back into your step.

Nourishes the Mind and Body

Yoga’s meditative qualities enhance our self-awareness, and when you throw a trampoline into the mix, you add in another mental concentration component. You are concentrating harder on the balance, now that bouncing is involved. Hedberg says that this level of concentration takes our minds away from relationships, money and other worldly problems. It’s an escape.

“There are moments when your heart gets going faster,” Hedberg adds of the cardio benefitting qualities Trampoline Yoga can have. “It just feels delicious; muscles open, lymphatics drain.”

It’s Fun!

“It’s hard not to smile while bouncing. Rhythm makes you feel good; it’s fun,” says Hedberg. He also steers away from pushing what’s “right” and “wrong”, like the typical exercise class. He focuses on having a good time and making sure his students do the same.

If you ever jumped on a trampoline as a kid, you can probably relate to how fun it can be. So why aren’t we incorporating this into our lives as adults?

Hedberg’s words inspired me to begin my own Trampoline Yoga regimen. The Jumpsport foldable trampoline takes about 5 minutes to set up and is a nice size for a variety of poses. Since it folds, it works for an extremely tight living space. Jumpsport’s springs reduce impact by about 40% compared to the average trampoline, making it particularly good for those concerned about their joints.

While I am still adjusting to Trampoline Yoga life, I’ve noticed improved mobility in my hip joints. Deeper stretching has relived sciatic pain as well. And as Hedberg promised, it is so much fun!


Save

Wildcrafting 101: Wild Plants in Season Now


Shar Veda

Stinging Nettle

Hooray nettles! Do you know the sting is great for arthritis and can even prevent it? So touch it as much as you want as long you're not allergic. You can eat it raw too but squish it first to get the sting on your hand not in your mouth. Also lightly sautee it like spinach and/or make tea! Nettle is an absolute powerhouse that turns the body into a brickhouse with all of the following nutrients (plus some!)- SULFUR, CHLOROPHYLL, IRON, CALCIUM, VITAMIN A, B COMPLEX, K, PROTEIN, BORON, CHROMIUM, ZINC, SELENIUM, POTASSIUM. I picked this bunch around 8pm last night and my hands are still tingling!


Shar Veda

 

Chickweed

The white starflower featured below with her sister, dandelion, is amazing in spring salad or just as a raw food snack! Chickweed contains calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, selenium, silica, sodium, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc. It also contains vitamin A, vitamin B-1, vitamin B-2, niacin, and vitamin C, protein and a lot of fiber. CHICKWEED is great juiced a spring flush and to eliminate fat cells. Check out this recipe by Susan Weed: “one ounce of dried herb (I weigh it) in a quart jar and fill it to the top with boiling water. I cap it tightly and wait for at least four hours, then strain and drink it, hot or cold, with honey or miso. What I don't consume right away, I store in the refrigerator. A quart a day is not too much to drink, but even two cups a day can help you shed those unwanted pounds.” Chickweed is also an amazing antecdote for bacterial infections, inflammation, even cysts because it so cooling and green. (http://www.susunweed.com/Article_Chickweed-A-Star.htm)

Dandelion Greens

Shown here with chickweed, dandelion greens are an excellent source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Vitamin B Complex, Calcium, and Iron. They are incredibly detoxifying and cleanse the liver. Harvest the greens and flowers from an un-trafficked area, and toss them in your next salad or eat as is. These plants are delicious and nutritious and ready to EAT NOW.

HAPPY WILDCRAFTING! Please remember to thank the flowers, thank Earth, and to be so GRATEFUL when you harvest.


Shar VedaShar Veda, Southern Oregon’s Premier Alternative Therapist, offers deep healing through loving touch and compassionate counsel. She is an Ayurveda Lifestyle Counselor & Health Educator, yoga therapist and herbalist. Shar has been blessed to study with leading teachers in Ayurveda, Yoga, and herbalism for 20 years. However, it was her adopted grandma, Doe (English-American and Blackfoot Native), who instilled within her profound appreciation for the supreme power of loving touch, healing arts, and world family. Visit her website for a video, full bio, and photos or find her on Facebook and Instagram!

SaveSave
Save

Managing Diabetes Naturally


Photo by Fotolia

I've been a type 1 diabetic for 15 years; I’m one of 1.25 million U.S. citizens with this form of the condition. Just to clarify, type 1 and 2 diabetes are very different diseases. Type 2 typically occurs after the pancreas becomes exhausted, and slows down, sometimes from lifestyle habits. Type 1 can be genetic or triggered by a virus; victims often appear to be healthy before onset. Type 1 usually occurs in childhood, and requires daily insulin injections that the patient would die without. Type 2's typically manage their condition with diet, exercise and pills.

Throughout my life as a diabetic, I've struggled on and off to afford the medication that keeps me alive; insulin. Secondary medications like Symlin have helped me so much, but are also expensive; about $1900 a month before I reach my insurance premium.

I have no choice but to remain on insulin, I'll die without it. Many people have told me "just don't eat sugar." The human body cannot survive without sugar; insulin carries sugar into cells and without it, our bodies would begin to feed off of fat and muscle, creating an acidic byproduct, ketones, that poison the blood. Diabetic Ketoacidosis is the end result and can be lethal. Carbohydrates also break down into sugar, so I'm not saying diabetics have to consume pure sugar; healthy grains and starchy veggies will do too.

All of that being said, I've had to get creative with my care; improving insulin sensitivity through natural practices so I'll need less insulin. This allows me to conserve medication, which is a personal decision. You should always talk with your doctor before making changes with your own regimen.

Apple Cider Vinegar or ACV

ACV has shown to lower blood sugar by blocking carbohydrate absorption and improving the way our bodies use insulin, according to Diabetes Self Management. Three times a day, I mix two tablespoons of organic ACV with a glass of water. In addition to better blood sugar control, ACV suppresses my unhealthy cravings and eases stomach aches.

Turmeric

I drink Taka Turmeric tea on a regular basis, because it reduces inflammation, which is an underlying cause of insulin resistance. Insulin resistance happens when cells stop responding to the hormone, then more is needed to control levels. Excess insulin means weight gain, which worsens insulin resistance.

Exercise

According to the American Diabetes Association, muscles contract during exercise, allowing glucose to be used whether insulin is available or not. Before insulin was discovered, type 1 diabetics were put on a starvation diet and a vigorous exercise regimen. While this did not stop the inevitability of death, it helped individuals live a little longer.

Exercise increases circulation and strengthens the heart, which holds off nasty complications diabetes may bring. Getting moving through riding a bike or practicing yoga also lowers cortisol, which is another insulin resistance contributor. A relaxed diabetic is a healthier diabetic.

Water

When blood sugar is high, the body uses its fluids to push sugar out through the urine. Drinking more water aids this process by providing the body more fluids to flush with, says Diabetes.co.uk. It's important to note that flushing large amounts of sugar through the kidneys may eventually result in damage, so do your best to prevent crazy high numbers. However, water is always a powerful health tool. 

While it's appalling that people have to worry about affording life-saving treatment, we should be practicing good health no matter what. Even if we have access to all of the insulin in the world, we need to use the tools nature has given us to remain healthy.

Let's keep fighting for insulin affordability, you can sign T1International's charter to make insulin accessible all over the world. But accept nature’s healing gifts as well.


Karyn WoffordKaryn Wofford is a type 1 diabetic, EMT and Certified Wellness Specialist. For years she has educated herself on wellness and natural, wholesome living. Karyn’s goal is to help people be the healthiest they can be while living fun, happy lives.


Save

Ditch "I Should" and Break Bad Habits With These 4 Tips


Photo by SocialMonsters

"I should."

You have probably uttered these two words to address unhealthy habits like: "I should work out more," "I should eat less sugar," "I should eat better..."

"I should" is a common saying that comes before an excuse. If you want to adopt a healthier habit, you can only break it if you truly want to make the change for yourself and no one else. Your current behavior works for you, and until you actually believe that it's not working for you anymore can you effectively create a different lifestyle.

Here are four ways to implement change, once you've taken the step beyond "I should" and decided "I will."

Create Small Goals: "I want to eat healthier food."

If you want to overhaul you diet, start small so you don't set yourself up for failure. Eating healthier food is a general statement that ranges from person to person. For you it may mean drinking black coffee instead of cups full of sugar, or it may mean eating a salad for lunch and cooking healthy meals at home with the help of a meal delivery service like Blue Apron. Just keep in mind that it's difficult to transform your eating and drinking habits 100 percent from the get-go. An effective way to start achieving your goal is to plan to home cook two healthy meals a week or to cut out gourmet, sugary coffee drinks. Once these changes become your norm, then introduce another one.

Prioritize and Prepare: "I want to lose weight."

Even though losing weight may seem as simple as moving more and eating less, it can be a more complex endeavor. There are social pressures and emotional stressors that may contribute. Committing to drop pounds requires sacrifice and a shift in your priorities. You may have to wake up earlier to hit the gym before work. You may have to skip a work happy hour to avoid the temptation of calorie-laden drinks. You may need to dedicate more time to meal-prepping your lunches and dinners and scheduling in your workouts. You need to ask yourself, "Am I making losing weight a priority?" and then "Why have I made this a priority?" Checking in with yourself and your priorities will help you be more successful.

Be Mindful: "I want to stop overeating."

Mindfulness and curiosity are powerful ways to break bad habits. While sitting in front of a large plate of food, stop and live in the moment. Be mindful of each bite. Enjoy the flavors, without already thinking about your next bite. As you eat, acknowledge your diminishing hunger. Be aware of overeating and if you experience signs of discomfort or feelings of guilty and shame. Once you acknowledge these feelings and enjoy the bites you do take, you can better control heavy, excess eating.

Change Your Surroundings: "I want to workout more."

Your surroundings impact your motivations and behaviors, which includes your friends, family and co-workers. If the people closest to you agree to become your support system, then you have a greater advantage for achieving success. A workout buddy who shares your goal also keeps you accountable. It's a way to connect with someone and create a bonding experience. Together, you can plan workout regimens, find cool gear for your individual fitness needs and celebrate mini achievements. And remember, fitness shouldn't just be a priority when you're in your 20s and 30s. You can achieve your fitness goals at any age as long as you have support, goals and some helpful gadgets. For example, there are fitness trackers for seniors available from a reputable company like GreatCall. These helpful fitness devices allow seniors to create and complete daily challenges. The comfortable and waterproof senior fitness tracker acts as a pedometer and tracks your daily steps. Just remember, staying fit should be a lifelong goal.

As you start achieving your goals, know that you may slip up from time to time. Understand that with the highs, will come the lows. Changing your lifestyle with different habits takes time, so acknowledge that you won't be perfect. Instead of quitting after the first time you mess up, cut yourself some slack and reflect on how far you've come to regain momentum. Progress is certainly achievable.


Abby Terlecki is a marketing copywriter for a university in Phoenix, Arizona. At 5 o’clock, Abby heads to happy hour at her CrossFit gym to hang out at her favorite bar. In between writing and lifting, She explores the Grand Canyon state and enjoys the outdoors. She earned her journalism degree from Ohio University and has since made the desert her happy home.
Save
Save

Adaptogens: The Stress Solution

Photo by Fotolia

What are adaptogens?

Herbs have been used for their health benefits across the globe for millennia. Among many effective and useful medicinal herbs, one class of plants stands apart from the rest: adaptogenic herbs, or simply adaptogens. Adaptogens are a classification of herbs that have a normalizing effect on the body. Herbs with adaptogenic qualities bring the body to homeostasis or balance. Specifically, “they increase the body’s resistance to physical, biological, emotional, and environmental stressors and promote normal physiologic function.” *

An adaptogen’s power comes not from a specific action, but rather, a reaction. Adaptogens help the body respond to stressors in a more healthful way, ultimately maintaining balance in physiological functions. Adaptogens are like very good friends;

they help promote and maintain wellness.

The Stress Response

If a bear were charging toward us, our bodies would respond by turning on our “fight or flight” mode, releasing a surge of adrenaline and cortisol to enable us to run, fight and survive. The fight or flight mode, or stress response, is meant to activate and deactivate as needed. This response causes cortisol, known as the “stress hormone” to rise and fall, ultimately returning to normal levels once the stressor has subsided.

The tricky part of our current western lifestyle is that day to day stressors are taking the place of the bear: We are bombarded everyday by social media, breaking news, traffic... While we may not be in immediate physical danger, our bodies react to these stressors with the same physiological response. While there is (hopefully) little likelihood of a bear charging you at the office, you may have a deadline that’s been blaring in your head all week, causing your “fight or flight” mode to activate and remain activated. In the wild, the bear comes and goes, and with it our fight or flight mode turns on and off, problem solved. In the office, the deadline lingers in our minds and creates a phantom stressor that has very real consequences for our bodies.

These small stressors are ignited by the brain, which activates our stress response in order to protect the body, which in turn reacts as if a life or death situation is at hand. If we experience stress often enough, the continuous surge of stress hormones can prevent the body’s cortisol levels from returning to baseline; chronically high levels of cortisol have the potential to cause damage to multiple body systems.

So, what’s the big deal? It is now common knowledge that stress is a primary cause of many illnesses. More than ever before, people are waking up to the importance of practices like yoga, meditation and mindfulness. Along with stress-busting mindfulness practices, adaptogens can lend their restorative power to ward off the negative effects of today’s constant stressors.

Adaptogens have been shown to strengthen the body's natural stress response, working in the body to mitigate the ill effects of chronic stress, rather than become physically compromised by it. Daily stressors are not going away; the good news is: neither are adaptogens!


Photo by Fotolia

Adaptogens near you

Many herbs utilized in Ayurveda (traditional Indian system of holistic medicine) qualify as adaptogens. Here’s a quick look at ORGANIC INDIA’s top 4 supplements and their adaptogenic properties.

Tulsi-Holy Basil

• Also called the “Queen of Herbs”–the most cherished and legendary health-supporting herb
• Helps support: stress relief, digestion, energy, cortisol balance and respiratory function
• Balances the mind, body and spirit.

Turmeric Formula

• Most well-known herb in Ayurveda.
• Supports the digestive, circulatory and cardiovascular systems
• Aids in joint mobility and support

Triphala

• Translates to “Three Fruits”–Amalaki, Bibhitaki and Haritaki
• Cleanses and supports the entire gastrointestinal tract
• Improves digestion, elimination and assimilation of nutrients

Ashwagandha

• Also called “Indian Ginseng”–most well-known for its restorative and rejuvenating properties.
• Strengthens the immune system
• Provides natural vitality and energy

Sources:

• Winston, D., & Maimes, S. (1956). Adaptogens - Herbs for Strength, stamina, and stress relief.
• ORGANIC INDIA USA, Tulsi-Holy Basil: Herbal Guide (Image Relay: ebook-Tulsi_Herbal_Guide-2106.pdf)
• Sapolsky, Robert, (1994). Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers


One company, ORGANIC INDIA, is streamlining the merge of ancient healing herbs into western culture. ORGANIC INDIA’s herbal supplement line brings organic, adaptogenic, whole-herbs into a modality of everyday health.

 

A Possible Antidote for Carbon Monoxide Poisoning


Photo by Fotolia

The air we breathe every day is full of toxins. According to the EPA, particle pollution and ground-level ozone pollution still affect numerous areas across the U.S.

How they affect each of us individually depends on our bodies, how much of the toxin we are exposed to and how long we are exposed to them. Generally, our bodies tell us when we are exposed to such a poison — we cough or our skin becomes itchy. Generally, mild exposure will cause no reaction. Higher exposure, however, can cause an immediate reaction so that we know to avoid it in the future.

Unfortunately, carbon monoxide gives no such warning. Of the toxins that are dangerous, carbon monoxide may be the most frightening because of this. You can’t smell it, see it or taste it — making it impossible to know if you or your family have been exposed to this noxious gas until it is too late.

What Is Carbon Monoxide?

Also known by its scientific name, CO, carbon monoxide is the result of incomplete burning of natural gas and other material that contains carbon. Examples of carbon-containing materials include: kerosene, gasoline, oil, wood, propane or coal. The most common source of CO in the workplace comes from internal combustion engines, though any place that uses these materials — like homes or businesses — can be a danger.

Blast furnaces, forages and coke ovens can also be causes of CO exposure. If you work in a place where these are in operation, you should understand the risks to your health. OSHA recommends:

• Installing proper ventilation
• Maintaining water heaters, space heaters or stoves that can produce CO
• Switching from gas-powered equipment to electric or battery-operated

In addition, the air should be tested regularly for CO, and personal CO monitors with alarms for exposure, especially for workers in fields with a high risk of exposure, should be standard.

Effects of CO Exposure

The effect of carbon monoxide on the body is subtle. When people are exposed to carbon monoxide, the CO displaces the oxygen in the blood, depriving the brain, heart and other organs of the oxygen necessary for life. Exposure to large amounts of CO at once will overcome people, and since there are no irritants to warn them of the poison, they are likely unaware of even being exposed, leading to loss of consciousness and suffocation. 

More immediate symptoms of CO poisoning are chest tightening, headache, fatigue, dizziness or nausea. Prolonged exposure may cause people to be confused, vomit and collapse, though symptoms will vary from person to person.

Who Is Most at Risk?

Effects of CO exposure will happen sooner to people who are more susceptible, like the young, elderly or people with lung or heart issues. Smokers will also likely be more affected than non-smokers, due to the fact that smoking cigarettes causes elevated CO blood levels.

Carbon monoxide poisoning can be reversed if it is caught in time, but in cases of acute poisoning, permanent damage may result from the brain and organs not getting enough oxygen.

People in the following occupations are the ones who have the highest risk of exposure to CO:

• Welder
• Carbon-black maker
• Garage mechanic
• Taxi/Uber/Lyft drivers
• Firefighter/police officer
• Customs inspector
• Longshore worker
• Organic chemical synthesizer
• Metal oxide reducer
• Diesel engine/forklift operator
• Marine terminal worker
• Toll booth or tunnel attendant

The nature of the exposure depends on the field, but anyone in these industries should be aware that CO exposure is a possibility.

Science Offers a Revolutionary Answer to CO Poisoning

According to the journal Science, there may be an antidote to CO poisoning — an amazing advancement. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have discovered a protein that reverses carbon monoxide toxicity in mice — the only known antidote to carbon monoxide poisoning. The researchers in Pittsburgh tested the mice by giving them lethal doses of carbon monoxide.

When testers gave the mice the antidote within five minutes of exposure, 87% of them lived — a number rarely seen in clinical situations. Such medication would be a revolutionary advancement, as more than 50,000 emergencies each year are the result of carbon monoxide exposure. In fact, globally, CO exposure is the leading cause of poison-related death.

The Next Phase of Research for CO Exposure

Until this antidote becomes more mainstream, prevention is still the best way to stop accidental poisonings from carbon monoxide. In CO removal systems like CO extractors, water is removed first, followed by the catalysis of carbon monoxide to carbon dioxide.  In homes and businesses, carbon monoxide detectors are a simple and effective way to keep people aware of CO levels.

In the meantime, scientists are working on furthering their research regarding the antidote to CO exposure in larger animals, like mice. Though all the answers to CO poisoning aren’t known yet, researchers are hopeful that this antidote will change our fear of carbon monoxide.


Save
Save