Yeast infections are very common. So common, in fact, that 75 percent of women will have one at some point in their life. Most vaginal yeast infections are caused by Candida albicans, an organism that feeds on sugar and yeast, and unbalanced pH levels. If you’re prone to yeast infections, or UTIs, you’re not alone and can do a number of things to avoid them.
I’ll keep this short and sweet. Follow these five recommendations and you’ll be much less likely to ever worry about vaginal health, again.
Take a high potency vaginal probiotic. If you’re like me, you like chocolate and sweets sometimes. Well ladies, we can’t eat sugar without taking a probiotic because sugar feeds yeast. So, if you don’t take a probiotic to help battle the yeast—the yeast will get out of control. I am absolutely not a pill or supplement person, but I always take a probiotic; it is a necessity. A quality vaginal probiotic, one with acidophilis (and, no, yogurt is not enough) maintains a healthy bacterial balance in your yoni and urinary tract.
Garden of Life RAW Probiotics Vaginal Care 50 Billion is my favorite. If I go more than five days without it, my body tells me to bring it back. Note: These particular probiotics do require refrigeration. When I go on vacation, I have a shelf stable probiotic with me at all times and Health Force Friendly Force is a good one. Healthy Force is primarily for gut health, but it’s good to change things up sometimes. However, any quality, high-potency, shelf stable acidophilis will do on the road.
No more polyester pants. I don’t care how great they may make you look, your yoni needs to breath. Wear only natural, breathable under garments and pants. When you can, go commando. Yep, I did just say that.
Photo by Fotolia/Jacob Lund.
Nourish your body. Eat living fruits and vegetables. Drink lots of pure water. Avoid processed foods and sugary beverages.
Avoid things that may disrupt your body’s natural pH balance. Do not douche, use scented tampons or yeast infection bombs, and stay away from unnecessary antibiotics. These things are sure-fire ways to change the healthy balance of organisms in your vagina.
Since summer is a prime season for developing yeast infections, a super-simple way to keep irritation at bay is to change into dry clothing as soon as possible after you sweat or go swimming. Easy-peasy loves!
Find more information about treating embarrassing health conditions, natural remedies for yeast infections and UTIs, and learn more about candida to keep your body happy and healthy.
Shar 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!
Massage is seen as a luxury we participate in during vacation or on a special occasion. However, according to Allied Health Schools, massage dates all the way back to 2700 BC and was originally used in medicine.
My husband and I book a couple’s massage about twice a year. Being that I am a type 1 diabetic, I couldn’t help but notice that my blood sugar was usually lower after a session. At first, I believed it to be coincidence, but decided to pay closer attention the next time. When my blood sugar dropped 54 points after a 60 minute, deep tissue massage, I was fascinated and began to read into it.
Photo by Fotolia/Rido.
10 Benefits of Massage for Diabetics
1. Medline states that massage controls and reduces the stress hormone, cortisol, which diabetics tend to have an excess of. Cortisol raises blood sugar and decreases insulin sensitivity, and massage counteracts this.
2. In the same Medline study, type 1 diabetic children were given daily, full body massages by their parents. The average blood sugar numbers decreased from 158 mg/dl to 118 mg/dl (that’s milligrams of sugar per deciliter of blood if you’re lucky enough to not be familiar with diabetes!)
3. Depression is highly prevalent among diabetics, so the relaxing nature of massage and acupressure can significantly reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.
4. Massage Magazine notes that 6 weeks of acupressure, along with breathing exercises, can reduce blood sugar, anxiety, headaches, anger, depression and stress, along with improving sleep and relationships.
5. Massaging injection sites can increase insulin absorption.
6. Circulation is improved, delivering more oxygen to the tissues, benefiting overall well-being and preventing neuropathy. When blood is flowing better, the body uses insulin more efficiently.
7. Diabetes thickens tissues and can cause stiffness in muscles, which decreases mobility over time. Making massage a regular part of your routine will not only prevent this, but help treat it.
8. The average reduction of blood sugar after a Swedish massage is about 20-40 mg/dl.
9. Diabetics can experience increased pain and Fibromyalgia, which massage can relieve.
10. Digestion can be improved, helping calm a variety of gastric issues.
There is enough evidence to call for controlled scientific studies that prove the efficacy of massage as a part of medical care. Let’s face it, most of us don’t have the money to head to the nearest spa every week for a rub down. Until a day that certain spa treatments are covered by insurance, there remain ways to access the benefits now.
Alternative Care Facilities
Alternative care centers focus on natural interventions before they tell their patients to start throwing back the pills, which can actually make things worse. I have done a lot of research on alternative treatment centers, particularly the Progressive Medical Center in Atlanta. They incorporate a list of natural approaches to treat disease and search for the root of the problem. Although they do not specifically treat diabetes with methods such as massage, they use it along with acupuncture and chiropractic care to treat symptoms such as pain. These methods also support a healthy nervous system, which aids diabetics. I highly recommend visiting Progressive, or somewhere similar if you aren’t close to Atlanta.
Karyn 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.
Photo by Fotolia
As spring begins and summer quickly approaches, many of us are looking for a refreshing, sweet treat to help boost our immune systems and stay healthy during peak vacation season. One of earth’s best, not so hidden, little secrets is found in the form of a flavorful berry that provides the antioxidants to promote immune support and help contribute to year round health.
For centuries, elderberries have been used to support wellness. The ancient Greek physician Hippocrates was particularly fond of the tiny berry for its potent antioxidant qualities and the University of Maryland Medical Center suggests that elderberries may help maintain healthy sinuses and nasal function. Today, the effects of the elderberry spans continental divides with North American, European, Asian, and African cultures utilizing them for their overall health and wellness benefits.
Due to its pleasant taste and health-promoting qualities, elderberry is found in several widely accessible wellness products. Elderberries contain vitamins A, B, and C, which help support your immune system. Additionally, the tiny berry’s extract acts as an antioxidant, protecting cells from free radicals and supporting the immune system.
Enhancing the immune system has a wide range of benefits. While many of us focus on immune support during the winter, it is just as important to keep our immune systems healthy during the warmer months as millions of people across the world travel and hit the road for family vacations and summer activities.
Whether in the form of an immune-boosting vitamin or a tasty drink mix, the nutrients found in elderberries support a strong immune system so we can stay healthy while doing the activities we love.
Bret Furio is the CEO of Zarbee’s NaturalsTM , a whole family wellness company with a commitment to providing consumers with simple, handpicked, quality ingredients to support family health & wellness. Zarbee’s uses clinical evidence to identify ingredients, and strives to avoid many unwanted additives, components or fillers, resulting in wholesome, safe, and effective options for the entire family.
Photo by Fotolia
Do you worry a lot? Join the club. It’s part of the human genetic makeup, because it can boost chances of survival. Anxiety is more than a feeling — it’s rooted in brain activity. Because anxiety is a natural body process, you can take steps to decrease anxiety levels. Many natural methods provide significant benefits. Here are my favorite.
Tea for You
A nice soothing cup of chamomile tea three times a day seems to reduce anxiety. Research from the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center found benefits over eight weeks. However, people who are sensitive to chamomile’s plant family could develop allergy symptoms. Therefore, the treatment might not be a good choice if you’re allergic to plants such as ragweed, marigolds, daisies and chrysanthemums.
Is laughter the best medicine? It helps. Laughter is scientifically proven to lessen anxiety. Laughing — even when it’s forced — releases the brain chemical dopamine, which affects pleasure sensations. Look for ways to add some chuckles to your life, such as funny books, podcasts, TV shows or movies. You can even put a laugh track app on your phone.
Belly breathing eases anxious feelings. To practice, put one hand on your stomach, and the other on your chest. Exhale slowly and fully, then pause for a couple of seconds. Push out your stomach, and then slowly breathe in through your nose. Pause when you feel comfortably full of air. Exhale through your mouth, pulling in your stomach. After a slight pause, repeat the process.
Make sure you take in sufficient water throughout the day. Your body is seven-tenths water, so you’re stressing it if you’re not well hydrated. The “eight cups of water a day” is outmoded. New research indicates that the best way to make sure you’re getting enough water is to drink it when you’re thirsty. Also, sip a beverage — preferably water — at each meal.
Eating a balanced diet helps your body handle stress. Limit processed foods and sugar. Reach for a variety of natural foods, such as fruits and vegetables. Choose complex carbohydrates, such as whole grain foods, dried peas and beans, and nuts. Include protein at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Don’t skip meals — it reduces your chances of getting enough vitamins and minerals.
Wean from Caffeine
Too much caffeine makes most people jittery. When you’re feeling anxious, you don’t need to compound the symptoms. A cup of tea or coffee in the morning is fine, but, after that, avoid anything caffeinated. Anxiety often leads to sleep issues, and caffeine adds to the problem.
Stress increases your body’s need for sleep. Seven to nine hours is optimal. When you’re not properly rested, the part of your brain associated with processing emotions is activated. Increase your chances of getting a good night’s sleep by having the same wake time and bedtime every day. Keep your room cool and very dark. Take a hot bath or do some gentle stretches. Many people sleep better if they avoid electronics within an hour of trying to sleep.
Photo by Fotolia
Ties to Exercise
Exercise relieves anxiety through short-term and long-term positive effects on brain chemistry. Exercising regularly boosts self-esteem and improves sleep. It’s also good for your health, and concerns about well-being are a common source of anxiety. It doesn’t matter what kind of exercise you do — just make sure you’re moving. Walking, yoga, running, biking, dancing bowling, badminton — you have plenty of options, so choose one you like so you’ll keep at it.
Even if you’re eating a healthy diet, hunger can trigger anxiety. To compound matters, anxiety causes blood sugar to drop. If it’s not close to mealtime, get back on track with a healthy snack. For example, try a serving of:
• Dark chocolate
• Berries (any type is fine)
• Orange slices
• Pair your snack with a glass of water or a cup of chamomile tea.
Sunshine gives you vitamin D, which reduces symptoms of anxiety. Just a 15-minute walk is enough exposure to make a difference. Plus, you’re adding exercise: another benefit. Any sun is better than no sun, but researchers in Japan found that walks in natural surroundings reduce stress levels better than catching some rays in urban areas.
Mindful meditation brings people into the present moment with curiosity but not judgment. To begin, sit comfortably using good posture. Either a chair or the floor is fine. Add a cushion or blanket, if necessary. Focus on inhaling and exhaling slowly. If your mind wanders, bring it back to your breathing. Need help getting started? Download guided meditation sessions.
Warming up the body is a great way to relax muscles and de-stress. Besides feeling good, warmth may affect parts of the brain that govern moods. Sit by a fire with a cup of hot tea. Use a sauna or steam room. Rest in a warm bath or hot tub. Spend a few minutes sitting in the sun, and you’ll get some vitamin D at the same time.
Feelings of anxiety run from unpleasant to crippling, and anxiety can lead to depression or even addiction problems. Though you may feel helpless, you’re not. Many natural approaches help reduce these negative feelings. Some are remarkably easy, like sipping decaf tea or taking a bath. All are simple enough for you to do on your own to help put you back in control of your life.
Combine the fun and support of small group workouts with the convenience of at-home fitness by hosting a workout party.
1. Make sure there’s plenty of room. Pick a spot that will allow everyone to move around freely, without accidentally poking neighbors with a wayward elbow. If needed, clear a room of furniture or head outdoors to make sure everyone has the space they need.
2. Choose an appropriate workout for everyone. Does your group want to stretch and gain balance? Build muscle or burn calories? Get an idea of what kind of exercise and intensity guests prefer. Check out the useful apps and home programs above — many offer customizable options for a variety of fitness levels. Another benefit of a group? More experienced friends can help others.
3. Create a kid-friendly area. Home workouts are great for parents. If your group includes parents, encourage them to bring children along, and make a space for younger guests to play while the grown-ups burn calories.
4. Set up a post-workout recovery bar. Plan snacks and drinks to replenish your group post-workout. Make a pitcher of infused water with fruit or herbs, or assemble a make-your-own smoothie station. Protein-packed snacks such as roasted nuts are another good option. Find an easy recipe: motherearth living.com/simple-roasted-nuts.
5. Make it a regular event. Consider turning your workout party into a regular get-together. Pick a day and time, and rotate houses or divide prep duties among your group. If your group feels disciplined, consider finding a structured workout plan to go through together.
Photo courtesy of iStock
Try these fitness apps and websites for inexpensive, effective workouts.
Skimble’s Workout Trainer offers thousands of free individual workouts, complete with step-by-step audio and video instructions for everything from pain relief exercises to kickboxing to prenatal workouts. Multiweek workout programs cost $10 each, or you can pay a $7 monthly fee to access the app’s full range of content.
Derived from “simply work it,” the Sworkit app offers something for everyone, whether you’re a strength-training newbie or a Pilates pro. Users can create and share custom-built routines from the app’s library of over 170 exercises. The Sworkit website also includes a selection of user-built workouts that can easily be accessed online, or downloaded directly to the Sworkit app on your phone.
This app, conveniently available on tablet, phone and Apple TV platforms, acts as a portable studio. It includes adjustable intensity and session lengths, as well as detailed instructions for each pose. Pocket Yoga’s website includes a searchable glossary of yoga poses for all difficulty levels, with a range of body focus areas.
Offering individual workout videos and multiweek workout plans, Fitness Blender is built for exploring a wide variety of workouts. The site also offers healthy recipes and short instructional videos for individual exercises such as Pilates, crunches and muscle stretches. Workout and instructional videos are free; multiweek plans range from $5 to $15, depending on length.
If your goal is to release tension rather than burn calories, consider Gaiam’s home massage therapy kit. The kit comes with three massage therapy balls of differing sizes and a 25-minute DVD program of relaxing exercises. Add air with a pump to increase air pressure for a deeper massage, or keep the pressure low for a gentler approach.
Photo courtesy of Gaiam
Hooray, Spring! The sun is out and it’s warming up. Trees are blossoming and flowers are pushing out of Earth, raising their little faces to the sun. Fellow Sunbirds, it’s time to start enjoying all of our favorite outdoor activities again so let’s not let seasonal allergies keep us in. I’m moderately affected by seasonal allergies and never use meds, instead I focus on these four simple steps and they work!
1. Use a Neti Pot 3-4 times a week.
I know so many people that try the neti pot once and it burns or they “feel like they are drowning” and they dismiss it as not for them. The main reason neti potting feels uncomfortable is that users aren’t adding enough sea salt in the water. You need more salt than you think. Here is how to use the neti pot properly.
How to Use a Neti Pot (the right way!)
Boil water. Pour water into clean neti pot. Add 1/4 teaspoon sea salt. Let it cool to room temperature. Lean over the sink. Pour saline mixture into one nostril, and clear your throat to bring it through your mouth or allow it to run out of the other nostril. Repeat on the other side. Then bend over and allow any extra water to drain from your sinuses. Blow your nose.
2. Keep your mucous membranes moisturized.
Put a little bit of pure sesame or coconut oil on your pinky and stick it up your nose! Rub the oil around inside each nostril, moisturizing the mucous membrane. It’s wise to keep your sinuses moist (just like skin) rather than drying out with medications. If the membrane dries out and cracks, bacteria, dust and pollen enter easier! In Ayurveda we call oiling in the nose Nasya, and use it to cure many ailments from congestion to insomnia.
3. Eat local raw honey.
When you eat local honey you are eating the local pollen from the very flowers you are allergic to which has been digested by the bees and turned into natures medicine. Over time your body will become less allergic to the pollen. (The same way homeopathy works.) Have a tablespoon of Raw Honey or more every day.
4. Reduce intake of sugary drinks and alcoholic beverages.
I know, no fun!! Replace them with respiratory tonic herbs. Make a tea of elecampane, mullein, and fenugreek or buy the tinctures. I also like red clover tea for allergies and it has a nice light flavor that’s very pleasant. It’s my favorite kiddo and adult allergy tonic herbal tea to pair with raw honey. YUMMY!
Cheers to your health, now get outside and enjoy!
Shar 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!