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I’ve blogged about the benefits of massage for diabetes before. Unfortunately, massage therapy is expensive, so we can’t always afford this miraculous treatment. Fortunately, a great company has developed a revolutionary self- massage product, known as T Spheres. This product is a game changer.

T Spheres are a cost effective alternative to massage therapy. Created by a seasoned massage therapist, these gel-like spheres are infused with aromatherapy oils (which also supports a healthy nervous system) and can be used in countless ways.

I tried the Perk Up T Sphere Set with peppermint and grapefruit essential oils. The spheres are about the size of a ping pong ball and made from a firm gel like substance (think bouncy ball). The natural aromatherapy oils were pleasant and relaxing. When the smell starts to fade, use the spray bottle of oil that comes with the set to refresh it. For the past week, I have been primarily using the spheres on my stiff upper back and feet. They dig deep into my muscles, which can be a little overwhelming at first, but after a few minutes I reach deep relaxation. The T Spheres team has put together photos and descriptions for proper usage.

“Diabetes is a genetically transmitted condition and the suggested T Spheres reflex points can help prevent side effects associated with diabetes. The use of our suggested self-care T Spheres Techniques will help your body function more efficiently, and relieve daily stress and tension.” – T Sphere experts

Front of Lower Leg Points:

Photo courtesy T Spheres

Use Palm Pressure or Fingertip Technique placement 2 centimeters below the knee, as shown in the picture. Stimulate with circular motion in this area with a little pressure for 5 minutes every day. This point can help balance the digestive system – as it is a stomach meridian master point and is also used to prevent aging, arthritis and other forms of weaknesses. Combine this with a balanced Diabetes diet for best results.

Back of Knee Point:

Photo courtesy T Spheres

This Pressure point is associated with the Urinary Bladder meridian. Toxins and impurities can be stimulated to drain out by massaging this point. The pressure point is at the crease of the knee – it is important to look for any varicose veins and if there is any edema or pitted edema the pressure must be slight and avoid any veins to perform properly. Apply light pressure on this point for 3-5 breaths – release – repeat for 5 minutes daily. Excess urination and other diabetic related concerns to the urinary tract should start to be reduced noticeably.

Pressure Points on the Feet:

Photo courtesy T Spheres

Seated cross legged or in a chair with one leg bent across the other. Hold one foot and apply the T Spheres to the liver point between the tarsals of the Big toe and second toe.  This is a very effective pressure point for the treatment of insomnia, diabetes and hypertension. Regularly T Spheres Fingertip and palm pressure on this acupressure point will help to reduce side effects of Diabetes. Adding full foot Reflexology for diabetes is recommended and a great practice to help control the blood glucose levels.

Big Toe Point:

Photo courtesy T Spheres

Standing with wall or chair support, place the T Spheres under the big toe. Slowly apply your body weight to the foot and allow the pressure under the big toe to increase with the focus on your breathing. The pressure points under the big toe are associated with, and can aid in long term relief from the discomfort of Diabetes. Twice daily, standing and applying pressure on this point should prove to be fruitful, in relief from excess water retention and pain in the legs.

Hand Pressure Point:

Photo courtesy T Spheres 

Apply Fingertip Technique with the T Sphere at the crease of the wrist as shown in the photo below. This is a well-known acupressure point relating to the heart. This pressure point is stimulated with the focus on processing emotions to release stress from the body and mind.  Breathe slowly and as deeply as possible to connect to your heart and release the emotional holdings that occur from all aspects of your life. Remember to honor where you are each day and give permission to there with acceptance – every day is a chance to move forward towards better health.

Thumb and Index Finger joint:

Photo courtesy T Spheres

This pressure point is used for relief of any kind of pain. Press the T Sphere into the joint between the thumb and index finger. Press and release for up to 5 minutes a day three times a day. This is a large intestine acupressure point and it will aid in relief in the large intestine. It will also help to reduce excess heat in the body. Apply this technique daily to help energize your body and reduce stress.

My results

The benefits I have noticed most are improved sleep, overall pain reduction and reduced morning glucose. Usually, I wake up three to four times every night for various reasons, but have been sleeping straight through (waking maybe once) for the duration of my T Sphere usage. My blood glucose levels have been lower than they typically are in the morning, ranging from 10-40 points less. Overall, I feel a stronger sense of calm and well-being.

It is important for everyone, not only diabetics, to go beyond taking pills, and use healing, natural methods the earth has already provided us. We may prevent the need for medication all together, or at least reduce our dependency. However, massage is just a piece of the wellness puzzle.  Our world holds an abundance of better, alternative ways to care for our bodies. Facilities such as Progressive Medical Center, and products such as T Spheres, support our search for better medical care.

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.


Traveling into different time zones throws off the body’s patterns, including digestion. As you know, simple things like using other people’s bathrooms, eating earlier or later, eating out more and socializing while you eat can lead to digestive troubles like constipation, bloating, weight gain and heart burn.

If, like me, you eat for energy and enjoyment, fasting for a day while traveling is not the answer. Aside from the common sense guidelines of drinking plenty of water, exercising daily, choosing seasonal fruit and high fiber foods over dairy and bread, I fall back on these three Ayurveda digestion hacks.

digestion health
Photo courtesy Shar Veda.

Triphala, “three bitter fruits” in Sanskrit, consists of Amalaki, Bibhitaki and Haritaki. It is a powerful rejuvenating tonic that aids digestion and nutrient absorption through the colon, while maintaining regularity. Take it before bed to avoid constipation during every trip.

Aloe Vera Juice, a natural laxative and heartburn soother, also balances stomach acidity and aids in nutrient absorption.

Antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and full of vitamins, minerals, enzymes and amino acids, aloe juice naturally cleanses the gastrointestinal (GI) tract of remaining food particles that slow the process of digestion. You can’t drink too much of it.

Probiotics support colon health, bowel regularity and overall digestive function by replenishing healthy microbial bacteria. I always go gender specific because, like it or not, men and women have different physical needs.

All three products can be found at your local natural food stores and are worthy of space in your luggage. Stow these essentials in your dopp kit to ensure comfortable, healthy travels. Go, be free of digestive ailments and enjoy your summer adventures.

Email me comments and questions, I love hearing from you.

Shar VedaShar Veda, Southern Oregon’s Premier Alternative Therapist, 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. 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.



While living in Alaska I was introduced to chaga, Inonotus obliquus (pronounced chaw’-guh) which is a fungus that grows on living birch trees in the Northern Hemisphere. This shapeless black mass is approximately 10 to 30 feet up the trunk of an older tree. 

The fungus that grows on the tree is known as “clinker polypore” and has a black, burnt-looking exterior and rust red interior. Chaga’s can average 10 to 20 inches in diameter and may reach a weight of 30 to 35 pounds.

Indigenous peoples have been using chaga for its curative properties for centuries. Siberians used it in stews, soups and beverages to boost physical stamina and attain a long life. In ancient writing, Chaga is described as “gift of nature,” “diamond of the forest” and “King of the herbs,” due to its healing ability and high nutritional content.

Chaga is known for super-oxide dismutase, an enzyme that functions as a powerful antioxidant.  Another active ingredient is lanosterol, which helps the body rebuild cell membranes and supports the endocrine system. Yet another helpful constituent in chaga is the polysaccharide content which supports the immune system.

Chaga is harvested in cold regions like Siberia, Northern Canada, Alaska and Northern parts of the United States. Harvesting sustainably requires only the inner part of the plant be removed, not the entire conk. This ensures the continued growth of the fungus which protects the tree from damage and susceptibility to harmful infections.

Because chaga is a parasite of the birch tree, when the tree dies so does the fungi. This means that it must be harvested from living trees during the fall, when the trees have gathered water and nutrients for the winter. This is also when the nutritional value is the highest. Do not harvest when the sap starts running from the tree or in the summer months.

I purchase chaga from an Alaskan company that has sustainable harvest practices. Chaga can be ordered online in ground form or individual tea bags.

lemon in chaga tea

Refreshing & Healthy Chaga Iced Tea Recipe

1. Put 1 teaspoon of chaga in a tea strainer and steep in boiling water for 10 to 15 minutes. Or steep a tea bag with chaga.

2. Pour over ice. Add lemon and honey or peach slices and a bit of peach juice for additional flavor.

Desiree Bell’s inspiration comes from botanicals and natural materials. She is a vegetarian who has a certificate in herbal studies and a certificate from Australasian College of Health Sciences in Aromatherapy. Follow her on Facebook at Beyond A Garden.


putting on bug spray

Photo by iStock

Summer means spending plenty of time outdoors and in the garden. It also means the height of bug-bite season. Many commercial repellents include DEET, a chemical with a questionable health safety profile. Fortunately, making your own natural repellent is a simple process, and can also be made alcohol-free for those with sensitivities. 

Make your own using this Natural Insect Repellent Recipe.

If you’d prefer to buy a natural repellent, try these effective products:

Lafe’s Organic Insect Repellent

Lafe's Insect Repellent


Developed to deter mosquitoes and ticks, Lafe’s oil-based, cruelty-free formula employs geranium, cedar and lemongrass essential oils to ward off bugs.

Buy Lafe's organic repellent: $9

Photo courtesy Lafe's Organic





Herbal Insect Repellent Spray

Meow Meow Tweet


Meow Meow Tweet’s vegan, handcrafted spray combines essential oils and skin toners for a nontoxic blend that’s safe for everyone.

Buy Meow Meow Tweet's spray: $8

Photo courtesy Meow Meow Tweet





Bug-Bouncer Concentrated Repellent

Bug Bouncer

With 30 years of road-testing to its name, Bug-Bouncer contains ultra-effective, potent essential oils.

Buy Bug-Bouncer: $10

Photo courtesy Bug Bouncer

Bite & Burn Spray

Fat and the Moon


Treat bites (as well as minor burns) with Fat and the Moon’s Bite & Burn Spray, which uses yarrow, witch hazel and tea tree oil to disinfect and promote healing.

Buy Fat and the Moon's spray: $10

Photo courtesy Fat and the Moon





Bug Soother

Bug Soother


Simply Soothing’s Bug Soother repels a range of insects, from mosquitoes to sand fleas. Its castor-oil formula is safe for adults, kids and even animals.

Buy Simply Soothing repellent: $4

Photo courtesy Simply Soothing


person putting on bug spray 

Photo by Fotolia/Maridav

Natural Insect Repellent Recipe

This formulation is safe for pregnant and lactating women, children 3 years and older, and those with sensitive skin. Its delicate floral-green scent appeals to everyone except bugs. This version uses oil as its base ingredient, which leaves skin feeling velvety-soft and nongreasy. Organic soybean oil has natural bug-repellent properties, but you can substitute any lightweight base oil.

Caution: Use one of the two species of eucalyptus essential oil specified. Do not use other species of eucalyptus.


• 16 drops each of the following essential oils: lavender, geranium, eucalyptus (species radiata or smithii)
• 1⁄2 cup organic soybean base oil
• 4-ounce spritzer, pump or squeeze bottle


1. Add essential oils to storage bottle, then add soybean oil. Screw on top and shake vigorously.

2. Allow spray to synergize for 1 hour.

3. Store at room temperature, away from heat and light; use within 1 year.

Application: Shake well before using. Put a bit of this formula on your palms, then massage it onto areas that need protection. If skin feels greasy after application, you’ve used too much. Reapply as needed.

Note: To make a lighter-textured version, which some people prefer, especially in hot, humid climates, replace the soybean oil with a combination of 1⁄2 teaspoon each liquid castile soap (peppermint- or eucalyptus-scented) and vegetable glycerin, and 1⁄4  cup each purified water and unflavored vodka. Reapply this version every 20 to 30 minutes.

Excerpted from Naturally Bug-Free by Stephanie Tourles with permission of Storey Publishing.



Photo by iStock

Studies on botanical medicines abound, but often get mixed results. This is frequently because the wrong part of the plant or the wrong preparation is used in the study. Occasional studies compare use of botanical therapies with conventional therapies. I’d say, overall, they come out to be comparable or better. One such study, published in the journal Clinical Interventions of Aging in 2014, compared the use of turmeric to ibuprofen. In the study, 367 patients with knee osteoarthritis pain that scored five or higher (out of 10) and were 50 or older were randomly given ibuprofen (1,200 mg a day) or Curcuma domestica (turmeric) extracts (1,500 mg a day) for four weeks. They were measured throughout the study on pain qualification measurements, as well as walking distance measurements to evaluate pain, stiffness and function. The study found the turmeric extracts equally effective as the ibuprofen; however, the ibuprofen had more side effects such as abdominal pain. Ibuprofen also carries known risks of kidney damage and other side effects that turmeric does not have. Turmeric can be supplemented in a variety of ways, as well—it can be eaten; mixed into drinks called “golden milks;” and taken in capsules, tinctures and much more. I like to mix the powder with fresh-squeezed lemon juice and honey and eat a teaspoon of it a couple of times a day. Preparation does matter with herbs, and turmeric is better absorbed if it is eaten or ingested with things like fat, lecithin, black pepper or other spices. (This goes to show that Indian cuisine is practically a food pharmacy.)


people exercising 

Photo by iStock

Insurance coverage of complementary health approaches is complex and confusing—so much so that it’s almost impossible to make any general statements about it. Coverage may vary greatly depending on state laws, regulations and differences among specific insurance plans. If you would like to use a complementary approach and you’re wondering whether your health insurance will cover it, it’s a good idea to do some investigating. Contacting your health insurance provider is a good way to start.

Reprinted from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.

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