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Adaptogens: The Stress Solution

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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!


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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


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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.


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5 Simple Yoga Poses to Aid Digestion

Nausea, bloating, flatulence, heart burn and abdominal pain can all point to poor digestive health. Regardless how sensitive your system is, we’ve all experienced one or more of these problems and there are plenty of ways we can influence improved digestion with better lifestyle habits, such as exercise and diet.

Whether you already have an established yoga practice or simply experience frequent digestion issues, these simple poses can help combat digestive discomfort. Each of these yoga poses combines deep breathing with stretches that focus on abdominal muscles and organs to help relieve a wide range of common digestive upheavals.

upward abdominal lock
Photo by Fotolia/fizkes.

Upward Abdominal Lock (Uddiyana Bandha)

This pose is best done at the beginning of your asana sequence. Upward Abdominal Locks benefit digestion by massaging abdominal organs, stimulating blood flow and improving elimination to relieve constipation and indigestion.

seated twist
Photo by Chris Hornbecker, via YogaJournal.com

Bharadvaja’s Twist (Bharadvajasana I)

This simple, seated pose can help with a number of health problems, including digestion and menstrual pain. It’s also easily modified for those who may have limited joint mobility; simply sit sideways in a chair, rather than on the floor.

head-to-knee forward bend
Photo by Fotolia/fizkes.

Head-to-Knee Forward Bend (Janu Sirsasana)

Head-to-Knee Forward Bend stretches the legs and spine, but can also stimulate the liver which aids digestion by increasing the body’s ability to digest fats and absorb essential nutrients.

fish pose yoga
Photo by Fotolia/dadima.

Fish Pose (Matsyasana)

For beginning yoga practitioners, Fish Pose can be modified by supporting the back with a rolled towel or blanket, bending the knees with feet flat on the floor, or keeping legs straight pressed against the floor. Like Bharadvaja’s Twist, this pose can relieve pain associated with menstruation, fatigue and constipation.

reclining hand-to-big toe pose
Photo by Rory Earnshaw, via YogaJournal.com

Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose (Supta Padangusthasana)

Stretch hips, hamstrings and other leg muscles while improving digestions, relieving back pain and menstrual discomfort with this relaxing, low-impact pose. If you’re muscles are particularly stiff, try this pose with your heel against a wall or by using a yoga block.

Digestive health and gut bacteria have been popular topics of scientific studies in recent years, and have been linked to everything from mental health to weight control. Learn more and discover more ways to improve your inner ecosystem in The Vital Importance of Healthy Gut Bacteria.

Simple, Post-Holiday Detox

chopping fresh veggies for detox
Photo by Fotolia/V&P Photo Studio.

Holidays are all fun and games until someone comes home with a few extra pounds, and it’s easy to understand how we end up with the gift we never asked for. No matter how hard you try to maintain portion control, holiday meals are loaded with carbs, fats, sugars and salt that you might usually forego in your diet. All of these indulgences can leave you feeling bloated and tired, as well as a little guilty.

Most Americans gain 1-2 pounds during the holiday season—from Halloween to New Year’s—with the bulk of weight gain occurring around Christmas, so you’re not alone. Rather than turning your holiday remorse into a resolution to lose weight in the coming year, try shedding the pounds with a few simple daily detox practices.

Drink Plenty of Fluids

Start your morning with a full glass of water, hot tea or hot lemon water to help rehydrate and flush toxins from your system, along with reducing any bloating. Throughout the day, continue to drink plenty of water or tea with the goal of drinking 64-100 ounces.

Healthy Breakfast

After you’ve had your morning glass of water, cup of tea or lemon water, follow it with a breakfast that supports healthy digestion. Oatmeal, a natural diuretic, is a light yet filling option that will help reduce bloat even further.

Have a Hot Lunch

More specifically, have a hearty soup for lunch for a few days after holiday eating. Choose a low-glycemic recipe, such as lentil, tomato or miso soup, to curb sugar cravings. Soups will also give your stomach and intestines a break from hard-to-digest foods.

Aside from these simple ideas, choose nutrient-dense and fiber-rich foods for all of your meals. Consider eliminating unhealthy snacks from your own kitchen to further reduce temptation. If you’re a grazer, replace them with fresh fruits, veggies, yogurts and nuts to ensure you have plenty of healthful options to choose from.

Shedding post-holiday weight doesn’t have to be painful or difficult. A few simple ingredients, most of which you may already have in your kitchen, can be combined to create this simple post-holiday detox plan. Now you can make your New Year’s resolution something much more exciting than losing weight!

The Importance of Self-Care

Work followed by dinner or cocktails with friends. Kids and after school activities. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and numerous other digital media outlets sending you notifications—all day, every day. Modern life can become stressful all too quickly, and sometimes we just need a break.

Regardless of the stressors in your life, self-care is a crucial part of maintaining the best version of yourself possible. Although some may consider it selfish, self-care benefits, not only you, but everyone in your life. Particularly for women, who spend a large portion of their lives nurturing others—from caring for children to elderly parents and everything in between.

happy girl on city bench
Photo by Fotolia/javiindy.

What Is Self-Care?

Self-care is “identifying your needs and taking steps to meet them…about taking proper care of yourself and treating yourself as kindly as you treat others.” This sounds like a no-brainer, right? Yet, when we’re stressed or feeling down, it’s easy to set ourselves aside and focus our attention on the needs of others.

Benefits of Self-Care

Avoid or reduce the effects of stress. Extended periods of stress begin to wear on your mind and body. Signs of prolonged stress can result in insomnia, anxiety, hair loss, muscle pain, indigestion and more.

Refocus. We take breaks during difficult projects and tasks to help us refocus, and come back to it refreshed. Self-care acts in the same way, and helps us perform better in life.

Improve physical health. Continued practice of self-care may make you less prone to stress in the future, and boost your immune system.

Boost emotional well-being. It also promotes feelings of calm and relaxation.

Ideas for Your Self-Care Routine

- Make time for things you enjoy. Whether its reading, watching movies, painting or taking a hike, make sure you set aside time for these activities—daily or weekly.

- Exercise. We’ve heard it, time and time again—exercise boosts mood. And it’s true! Regular exercise releases endorphins and other uplifting brain chemicals, relieves tension associated with stress and improves concentration. Your workouts don’t have to be intense to reap these benefits. Activities as simple as walking will work, and help you clear your head.

- Pamper yourself. For me, self-care often includes taking a bath or painting my nails. Whatever makes you feel relaxed, a little luxurious and special…do it!

- Eat well. Diet plays a huge part in our physical and mental well-being. Nutrient-dense meals can provide a sense of emotional stability, while less nourishing meals can leave you feeling anxious, sluggish or some other less-than-good sensation.

- Meditate or journal. Both activities give you a chance to unplug, even if briefly, and spend a little time with yourself. It’s also a good way to check-in with your inner self, remind yourself of your goals and purpose, or take notice of what you’re grateful for.

Whether you’re overwhelmed and stressed from life’s daily grind or you’re preparing for the upcoming holiday and a house full of guests, taking the time to care for yourself is just as important as your to-do list. Rather than foregoing the things that bring you joy, make sure you keep your self-care habits in your routine during times of stress.

What are some of your tried and true self-care acts? Let us know in the comments below!

Meet Moringa: The Most Nutrient-Dense Plant on Earth

 
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You may have heard the buzz of a new green superfood with endless health benefits: moringa. But do you know what it is? Native to India and Africa, the moringa tree flourishes in warm, temperate environments. Moringa has been used for thousands of years in eastern countries, but its health benefits are now becoming better known in America.

Moringa has been used for thousands of years in eastern countries, but its health benefits are now becoming better known in America. Traditionally, the entire tree has been used to support health, however, most Western nutritional uses center around the leaves, and with good reason. They pack a lot of punch! The vibrant green, oval-shaped leaves are loaded with vitamins, minerals and all 18 essential amino acids–the building blocks of protein.

Also embedded in the leaves of this feathery tree are a surplus of nutrients:  

• Minerals and trace minerals
• Bioflavonoids
• Beta-carotene
• Magnesium
• Iron
• Fiber
• B12
• Vitamin E

Gram for gram…

• 4x the vitamin A of carrots
• 7x the vitamin C of oranges
• 3x the protein of lentils
• 4x the calcium of milk
• 3x the potassium of bananas

More Moringa Nutrition

Moringa has been used in Indian culture for thousands of years, and has helped combat malnutrition. Deemed India’s “Miracle Tree,” moringa trees often grow naturally in rural areas where poverty and malnutrition are more prevalent. Many people rely on moringa, using all parts of the tree as medicine.

Regular consumption of greens, vegetables and superfoods is known to strengthen the immune system and help shield the body from illness. But it can be tough to squeeze in the recommended 8 to 10 servings per day of vegetables. Adding a superfood green like moringa into your regimen is an easy way to increase your daily veggie intake.

Loaded with antioxidants, this plant most commonly comes in a powder form, ready to add to smoothies, food or beverages. This functional food provides essential nutrition, helps with cleansing and weight management, and supports stable energy and vitality. Higher nutritional content translates into more natural energy to do the things you love.

Daily consumption of moringa may have a positive effect on:

• Relieving stress
• Reducing fatigue
• Rejuvenating skin
• Improving immunity
• Enhancing energy levels
• Building muscle
• Promoting digestive function
• Supporting eye, teeth, and bone health.

ORGANIC INDIA  and Moringa

The benefits of moringa are no secret to ORGANIC INDIA, who harvests moringa trees year-round on small family farms in Northern India. ORGANIC INDIA practices sustainable, ethical wildcrafting, upholding seed to shelf transparency. Moringa is grown on many farms, and farmers use it for their own consumption as well. Ever versatile, moringa is also used to purify water, feed animals, enrich soil health and repel pests on the small family farms.  

While the current trend is to isolate compounds for their specific therapeutic quality, ORGANIC INDIA promotes whole herb solutions rather than extracts and concentrates. Their commitment to whole herb is founded in a belief that the sum of the parts of the whole plant is more balanced than any one main constituent. Restorative properties of herbs are derived from the synergistic quality of plants.

In honoring the divine intelligence of the earth, ORGANIC INDIA keeps herbal formulas as close to their original form as possible, bringing you the potency and balance of whole herb moringa. Their moringa is sold in powder-form, via bulk canisters, convenient packets and vegan capsules.

ORGANIC INDIA is a mission-driven company with a commitment to providing genuine, organic products and solutions for healthy, conscious living. ORGANIC INDIA’s Tulsi teas and herbal supplements are lovingly grown by small family farmers using regenerative agriculture practices to restore vibrant health to the environment and ensure high quality harvests.

All ORGANIC INDIA herbs are certified USDA Organic, Non-GMO Project Verified, and free of gluten, additives, and preservatives.

By choosing ORGANIC INDIA, you are not only investing in your health, but also in small family farmers, environmental stewardship, and a heart-centered company set to prove that business and values can peacefully coexist.

Tips and Products for Healthy Winter Skin


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Winter is tough on skin. Freezing temperatures outside, dry, forced heat inside, holiday air travel, festive drinking and more can leave skin dull and dehydrated. To maintain soft, smooth skin and keep it from drying out in winter, the goal is to hydrate well and keep moisture in.


Yogi Tea

Drink a lot of water, herbal, and green teas to hydrate throughout the winter season. Many people forget to hydrate in winter because they are not hot, don’t let this happen to you! Always carry a water bottle with you and herbal tea bags.

My drink of choice besides warm water with lemon or lime in winter is green tea. This Yogi Blend is my new fave: green tea with rose petals, red clover, and burdock.


Photo by Fotolia

Soup’s On! In winter, soup is my go to meal. My personal favorite is chicken rice vegetable. Whenever there is a sale, I stock up on chicken and vegetable broth so I am never without it should the mood strike to make soup. Broth base soup is a great way to stay hydrated and nourished in winter. Pureed veggie soups are second on my list- think butternut squash soup or potato leek. Yummy!

Hydrate the Air in Your Home - For an easy environmental moisture boost, hydrate the air in your home with a warm mist humidifier. Add a few drops of lavender or rosemary essential oils in the water for added health benefit both physical and mental. Make sure to clean the basin of the humidifier weekly depending on the model. If you have a wood-burning stove you can put water in a pan and add essential oils that way. An old fashioned take on the aforementioned.

Nourish the Outer You:

Are you using the same skincare line you were using 5, 10, 20 years ago? Time to try a new line! Skin craves balanced nutrition just like the rest of the body! Here are a few of my absolute favorite never-fail winter beauty heroines, old and new!


Sacred Ways Apothecary

Sacred Ways Apothecary is my 2016 winter pick for most healing, magical skincare line. Handcrafted in small batches in Asheville, NC, Lorin, founder and crafter, creates essences and sacred skincare with wildflowers, trees, crystals, and gemstones, including the elements and power spots. Her Cacao Sugar Scrub contains raw and wild crafted old strains of cacao and Appalachian honey, and Purifoy Spirit Essences. A little goes a long way and leaves you hydrated and glowing. Radiance Body Butter is a base of shea butter, kokum butter, jojoba and rosehip seed oils. It enhances collagen production and gives firmness to skin. Smooth some on hands and see and feel an immediate difference. So silky! Straight love from the elemental world in this line makes it stand out; your being will react with a luscious sense of deep calm.


Trevarno

This trio from Organic Trevarno Skincare is another great choice for staving off Old Man Winter Skin. Their Rosewater & Chamomile Skin Toner is a great travel companion to refresh and revitalize. Rose Jojoba Moisturizer is a thick, protective day cream delivering deep nutrition with herbal infused oils like jojoba infused with rose buds, olive infused with calendula, and sesame infused with carrot. This amazing stuff lasts all day. At night, wash your face and get your night cap on with Sunset Salve, a nurturing night balm lightly scented with ylang ylang and sweet orange.


Botanical Bombshell

Botanical Bombshell is a lush, exotic spa quality line that smells and feels delicious and elegant, and is soooo good for you. Start your home spa experience by applying Virgin Coffee Beam Exfoliating Butter all after a shower (the ultimate treatment for dry skin). It's so rich and thick you can turn it upside and never spill a drop! Then apply Rose Berry Exfoliant to a clean, washed face. Massage in and rest for a few minutes. Rinse off to reveal smooth, radiant, moist, grateful skin! Finish by applying Blueberry Opulence Dry Body Oil all over your body, and moisturizer of choice on your face. The Dry Spray provides awesome protection without the greasy feel. All Botanical Bombshell products are chock full of essential fatty acids and antioxidants for a real winter wonder - your skin fresh, youthful, glowing!

 


Herbivore Botanicals

Herbivore Botanicals Blue Tansy AHA Resurfacing Clarity Mask is my go-to glow boost before holiday parties and events. It delivers softer, smoother, clearer skin in under 20 minutes. Aloe and Blue Tansy’s superb anti-inflammatory properties perfectly balance the alpha hydroxyl acid (AHA) resurfacing action of papaya and pineapple fruit acids. (I wore it while writing a portion of this article.)


Weleda

Finally, my old winter standbys, Weleda Skin Food and Lip Care Stick.  I've been using these products for years! Thick, rich, protective, Weleda has been sustainable, organic, fair trade, and cruelty free, since 1921! These are the products I keep in my bag every day.

There you have it my beauties. You are all set for a lovely winter season. There is no excuse to go dull. Be the ones to glow!


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!


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