Natural Health
Better living through nature


Living a Healthier Life Through Better Self-Care

While it is all too easy to neglect prioritizing self-care and personal well-being – there is only so much time in the day and so much to do between jobs, kids, pets, and parents – it often comes with a price. Stress can be a trigger for many health problems. It is all too easy to become overstressed and overstimulated as you rush from one obligation to the next. Frustration and fatigue build until managing your life feels more like a challenge than a privilege. Self-care is the only way to fix it.

woman with arms in arm, looking up to sky
Photo by Shutterstock

Understanding Self-Care

Self-care might sound like a buzzword, but it is actually a critical component to living your best life. It is not a single focus or a road to laziness. Instead, the term refers to the efforts you take to handle your emotional, mental, and physical needs. Having the right self-care in place can help you live a healthier and happier life. It prevents issues from becoming problems and helps fortify you against whatever happens in your world.

To get started in self-care, you don’t need to disappear on a meditation retreat or even completely revamp your life. It only takes a series of small changes to start practicing self-care.

Move Your Body

Moving your body more is a good way to feel more energized. It may seem counterintuitive, but exercise is a stress-reliever and mood-booster all in one. Yoga is one option, but you could also just take the time to stretch periodically throughout your day. You could also dance, go for a run, swim a few laps, ride a bike, or just go for a walk. If your activity takes you outside, even better! Spending time outdoors, especially in green areas, is a way to improve mental health and resilience while lowering tension.

Eat More Produce

Food can impact your stress levels. For instance, consuming high amounts of sugar can increase anxiety and make you short-tempered. You can also trigger blood sugar swings, and by extension mood swings, by not eating regularly. Your digestion might suffer too, especially if you are eating the wrong foods. In contrast, when you load up on colorful fruits and veggies, you enhance brain function, improve digestion, lower your cholesterol, strengthen your bones, and improve your metabolism, as well as boosting your mood and your ability to handle stress. Research shows that eating seven servings of fruits and veggies a day is optimal for your happiest life.

Simplify Your Life

Technology has become an almost indispensable trapping of modern life. New tools help augment your reality and expand your world far beyond the neighborhood or city in which you live. It is also ubiquitous and that makes it easy to get consumed by technology. Don’t let that happen to you. One of the best ways to use technology is to help take things off your plate by automating tasks. When you automate necessary tasks like paying your bills or monitoring your identity online, you can free up time that could be better spent fortifying your health and your relationships.

Live your healthiest life through better self-care. By putting some of your needs to the top of your priority list, you can become healthier and happier. You just have to move a little more, eat a little better, and simplify your life through automated tasks. These small changes will help your body fight the impact of stress and make it easier for you to handle whatever life throws your way.


Renee Ann Butler is a freelance writer with over 15 years of experience in business and management. Her writing has appeared on SCORE, TheStreet, Marketwatch, Insider Monkey, Seeking Alpha, and Motley Fool. She has an MBA in Finance and undergrad degrees in psychology and sociology. She specializes in retail, technology, and consumer goods. Butler is also involved in a variety of nonprofit work. She has served on several boards, including an economic development commission and a local arts council. In this realm, her focus is on small businesses and the arts. Butler is also a trained artist working in photography, oil, ink, and pastels as well as fiber crafts.

Sweet Marjoram Essential Oil: A Powerful, Versatile Remedy

A close relative of sharply-pungent oregano, aromatic sweet marjoram — also known as knotted marjoram due to its production of small, tightly clustered, pale or dark pinkish-purple flowers, or “knots” — is a traditional culinary herb and folk remedy that was especially favored by the ancient Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks, who utilized it in their food, fragrances, medicines, and cosmetics. Introduced into Europe in the Middle Ages, sweet marjoram became a favorite ingredient in body splashes and bathwaters. Being a prized “strewing herb,” the plant was placed on the earthen floors of homes to subdue disagreeable odors and help repel insects and vermin. All you have to do is crush fresh marjoram leaves between your fingers and take a whiff of its pleasing scent to understand why the tenacious, warm, pungent, woody-sweet, softly spicy-camphorous aroma was so popular hundreds of years ago and remains so today.

marjoram flowers
Photo by Stephanie Tourles

I like versatile herbs, and sweet marjoram does not disappoint! Having seen use as a culinary spice, tea, decoction, and compress, it has long been recognized as valuable medicine for myriad complaints, including digestive upsets, intestinal cramps, menstrual problems, nervous disorders, respiratory infections, sprains, stiff joints, bruises, muscular and rheumatic pain, fungal conditions, anxiety, and insomnia.

Steam-distilled from freshly dried leaves and flowers, the essential oil is a convenient way to employ the many benefits of sweet marjoram, and it’s one of my preferred oils for addressing general arthritic pain, rheumatism, sore or stiff muscles, muscle spasms, menstrual cramps, gout, and migraine headaches with neck tension. Its deeply soothing, warming action brings almost instant relief to all muscle and joint conditions.

As with most oils extracted from culinary herbs, sweet marjoram essential oil is effective for digestive problems, as well as intestinal cramps, infantile colic, and irritable bowel syndrome. When using it in a massage oil blend for anything to do with the digestive system, remember to massage the belly in a clockwise direction (this instruction applies if you are massaging someone else’s belly, not your own), beginning at the navel and spiraling outward, ending at the top of the left thigh, to encourage the digestive process to move in the normal direction. Note: If you are massaging your own belly, massage in a counter-clockwise direction.

Being an amazingly effective relaxant, sweet marjoram is an excellent oil to use if you have trouble winding down after getting into bed or if you suffer from insomnia. Place a few drops in your bedroom diffuser and turn it on 15 to 30 minutes before retiring. The soothing fragrance will lull you into restful sleep before you know it.

A good substitute for sweet marjoram essential oil, especially with regard to treating digestive upsets and muscular and joint pain, is Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile, syn. Anthemis nobilis). They share many of the same properties, and both are gentle enough for use with infants when properly diluted.

Psychological Benefits: Sweet marjoram essential oil is quite tranquilizing to the central nervous system and positively wonderful for easing nervous exhaustion, anxiety, irritability, restlessness, agitation, a racing mind, and other stress-related conditions, including premenstrual and menopausal tensions. It promotes a sense of peace and stability.

Essential Properties In A Nutshell: Powerful, warming muscle relaxant and antispasmodic; analgesic; deeply tranquilizing to the central nervous system and beneficial for insomnia and stress-related conditions; exceptional sedative; potent digestive agent; offers impressive immune support; strong respiratory antiseptic, countering many infections resulting from a bad cold or flu; calms a “tickly” cough. A specific for young children, the elderly, and those with sensitive skin in need of healing with a soft touch.

Safety Data & Usage Information: Generally nontoxic, nonsensitizing, and nonirritating, with possible dermal sensitization in some individuals. Avoid in cases of low blood pressure. Excessive use may significantly lower libido, cause drowsiness or extreme lethargy, or have a deadening or stupefying effect on the mind.

Always dilute essential oils properly – according to age, health, medication intake, and skin condition – prior to application. My book, Stephanie Tourles’s Essential Oils: A Beginner’s Guide, is a good reference, complete with safety guidelines and dilution charts.

The following recipe highlights the therapeutic nature of sweet marjoram essential oil with regard to its ability to greatly ease migraine headaches. This was my go-to blend when I used to suffer from debilitating premenstrual migraines. It worked like a charm!

marjoram leaves and oil bottle on cutting board
Photo by Mars Vilaubi (c2018) used with permission by Storey Publishing

Migraine Melt-Away Blend

Migraine headaches are downright torturous! They have many triggers, from stress, hormonal flare-ups, and food allergies to high altitudes, barometric pressure changes, and bright sunlight, and they are often accompanied by nausea and sensitivity to light and sound. Ugh – the sooner you can find relief, the better!

This formula combines essential oils with analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and antispasmodic properties to deliver powerful, effective pain relief with a gentle relaxing hand. The scent is rather strong but not overwhelming – aromatherapy at its finest, indeed!  If your migraines persist, please see your health-care provider. Safe for folks 12 years of age and older. This is an aromatherapeutically concentrated formula, so use only as directed.

Essential Oils:

• 35 drops sweet marjoram (Origanum majorana)
• 35 drops peppermint (Mentha piperita)
• 30 drops rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis ct. cineole or non-chemotype specific)
• 25 drops eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus)
• 25 drops lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

Container:

1/4-ounce dark glass bottle with a screw cap or orifice reducer cap

To Make The Blend: This will be your stock bottle from which to make various applications. Combine the marjoram, peppermint, rosemary, eucalyptus, and lavender essential oils in the little bottle.  Screw the top on the bottle and shake vigorously for 2 minutes to blend. Label the bottle and set it in a cool, dark location for 24 hours so that the oils can synergize.

Store at room temperature, away from heat and light; use within 2 years. DO NOT store the bottle with a dropper top, as the strong vapors will degrade the rubber tip. Store only with a screw cap.

To Use In A Nasal Inhaler Tube: Remove the cotton inhaler wick from the tube. From your stock bottle, add 24 drops directly to the wick and allow it to absorb the entire amount. Insert the wick inside the inhaler tube and tightly cap the bottom of the inhaler with the plug. Place the inhaler tube inside its cover and screw tightly to close; add a tiny label.

Inhale as needed to bring relief.  For best results, exhale through your mouth, not your nose. Depending on how often you open the stick, the medicinal properties will wane and the scent weaken. If your stick is easy to reopen, simply add more drops to the wick to recharge and reuse.

To Use In A 10 ML Roll-On Application Bottle: Add 16 drops of the blend to the bottle, then add approximately 2 teaspoons of jojoba or fractionated coconut oil. Cap and shake vigorously for 2 minutes. Label the bottle and set it in a cool, dark location for 24 hours so that the oils can synergize.

To apply, roll a little onto each temple, the base of the neck, and the forehead region. Massage in well. Next, roll some onto one palm, rub your palms together to warm the oil, then close your eyes and inhale the vapors from your cupped hands. Breathe slowly and deeply for a few minutes. Avoid direct contact with the eyes, nose, and mouth. Repeat several times throughout the day, as needed, until your migraine melts away!

Yield:  1/4 ounce (7.5 ml)


stephanie tourles book coverRecipe excerpted from Stephanie Tourles’s Essential Oils: A Beginner’s Guide (c 2018 by Stephanie Tourles). Used with permission from Storey Publishing.

Benefits of Meditation and Yoga

This world is a beautiful place to live in.”

I was not a great believer of this phrase until I fell in love with yoga. As a teenager, everything that I had didn’t appeal to me; every privilege that I enjoyed was out-fashioned. During my high school days, I was so busy watching and following others that I forgot about my own being. Despite being one of the class toppers, I used to be the unhappiest student of my class. Not that my parents were unsupportive or that my classmates didn’t enjoy my company, I was just not satisfied with what was there. My mind happened to be attracted to a number of things at a time, which contributed heavily to my confusion. Many times, I lacked belief in my choices to such an extent that frustration was always on the cards.

Bipin meditating
Photo courtesy Bipin Baloni

Days of Reorientation

“Why don’t you attend yoga classes in the auditorium?” asked the new physical education teacher when I was on the ground, sitting alone during recess.

I was not very fond of meditation and yoga including all these spiritual things. For the last few days, I had been bunking off the yoga period, for these asanas were all ‘Greek’ to me. The new teacher talked to me in an astonishing motivated way and insisted me to join him in the basic level class. The very next day, I set my foot in the auditorium block-3 for the practice. I still remember how beautifully the session began with a couple of mantras — a deeper A-U-M chanting followed by the Gayatri Mantra. We practiced meditation and a couple of simple asanas. The class was over in no time, it seemed. It was the very first time that I really enjoyed doing yoga. Days went on and the yoga practice, too. Although I was not able to discern any change, my teachers didn’t miss the attitude amendment in me. In just a couple of months, I could also see various transformations in my behavior as I began relishing my engagement with my class fellows.

Meditating for a long time had an amazing impact on my mental composure. I could visualize things from a different perspective. My notebooks were no more the only friend of mine. Entry into the next level of yoga exercise instilled a good amount of faith in my abilities. Now, I could kick the soccer ball with confidence into the net. Taking part in every speech competition and speaking in front of more than 2000 students of the school was a positive transformation that really upped my confidence. And I would clearly credit Yoga asanas, meditation, and of course the PE teacher for all these.

Yoga for Personal Development

When I landed in college, I was internally strong enough to adapt to the new environment and people. Although I was not in regular touch with yoga, the science had taught me numerous lessons to enjoy challenging moments as well. College life was a whole new world. The real test of your life begins here. It’s a platform to get prepared for the rest of your career. During this time, I decided to embrace the beauty of Yoga at the home. YouTube used to be my teacher and believe me, it was so amazing! Days went by and eventually my mommy, sister, and daddy all joined me in my yoga practice. I must credit yoga for bringing harmony to my life and family. Enjoying yoga with people who care for you gave rise to a sense of responsibility in me. I also went through the philosophical aspect of the Vedic science and it was influential in guiding me on the path of positivity. The spiritual elements of the yogic discipline were of extreme importance in helping me maintain a balance between study and personal fitness.

Meditation and Life’s Goals

The world, which we are living in is immensely challenging. There is no time to wait and think. After completing college and university level education, I am enjoying my life adoring the delight of this globe, all thanks to yoga and meditation while many of my friends are still struggling to get a clear picture of their future. With the mindful practice, I am enjoying mental clarity. Yoga gave me an enormous outlook of the world and Meditation taught me how to remain focused even in turbulent situations. Every time I feel exhausted the practice of deep breathing (pranayama) places me in a zone of exuberance. As a writer, one needs clarity of thoughts and inspiration, both of which I enjoy in the company of meditation.

The story of how yoga and meditation have assisted me throughout my presence on this planet can go endless. I have still not talked about my astonishing physical fitness, which marks the core of one’s mental and emotional health. I can just say one thing that yoga taught me to love this world, which is extremely beautiful and celebrate every moment that I live.


Bipin Baloni is a passionate Yogi, Yoga Teacher and a Traveller in India. He organize 200 hour yoga teacher training in Nepal. Bipin Baloni conducts Yoga Teacher Training in India in different cities. He loves writing and reading books related to yoga, health, nature and the Himalayas. 

10 Best Yoga Poses for Busy Women

The present century is surely going to be the era of women. More and more women have come forward as leaders of this world in all fields, whether it’s business, politics, education or arts. Participation of women on such a large scale in the global stage requires them to remain fit all the time. They have to maintain an ideal relation between personal and professional life as well. Yoga helps in attaining all such goals. The following Yoga poses should be practiced by working women in order to retain their fitness amidst a hectic work schedule.

woman doing yoga on pink mat
Photo by Pexels

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)

After hours of workload, you feel dead inside. The body needs rest and the mind requires peace. Savasana provides a much-needed relaxation to the mind and body so that one feels rejuvenated all day long. The asana resembles the position of a corpse and is practiced in still motion, lying flat on the ground with free hands and legs. During the exercise, keep your eyes closed to feel the flow of serenity in the body.

Utkata Konasana (Goddess Pose)

One of the best exercises for women, Utkata Konasana is all about being energetic. It is known as the Goddess Pose, for its practice mirrors the Hindu Goddess of power, Durga. Stand erect on the mat to widen your feet and bent the knees till it makes a right angle. Close your eyes and join your palms in prayer near the chest. In addition to offering immense inner strength, the pose is helpful in giving relief from constipation and a backache.

Navasana (Boat Pose)

Navasana is one of the most effective balancing Yoga poses. As a sailor maintains the balance of a boat in a river, Navasana nurtures the body and mind in such a way that one feels extreme stability in life. During the pose, the upper and lower halves of the body remain in the air and only the buttocks on the ground, balancing the body weight. Also, hands should be parallel to the ground. This pose is beneficial for strengthening the thighs, arms and abdomen. It also sponsors proper digestion.

Vriksasana (Tree Pose)

Tree stands for stability and stability is what a working woman needs the most in her life. Vrksasana teaches one to face difficulties with vigor and conquer every situation. This is a standing pose, which is performed on one leg. During the practice, the hands should be in the air, in Namaskar pose to enjoy the spiritual elements of Yoga. The exercise nourishes the mind in a constructive way and gives strength to arms and legs.

Trikonasana (Triangle Pose)

Those women, who work in front of the computer and have a sitting job, should consider practicing this pose on regular basis. Trikonasana is all about motion and verve. Stand with your feet placed apart. Bend forward to touch the left toe with the right hand and vice-versa. Almost all muscles of the body come into movement and smooth circulation of blood takes place. The body enjoys liveliness and immense rejuvenation after only 10-15 minutes of Triangle pose exercise.

Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)

Back pain is a major problem among busy women and Bhujangasana is the cure of all such issues. It is a great exercise to bring vigor to one’s life by giving a reason to stretch the spine. The practice opens up the chest and allows the heart to pump more blood. If you are looking for a pose that enhances focus, Cobra Pose can be the best exercise.

Baddha Konasana (Cobbler’s Pose)

Baddha Konasana is a seated Yoga pose that gives strength to the hips, abdomen, thighs and lower back. Stretch your legs out to bend the knees and join the soles together. Keeping your heels as close to the pelvis as possible. Keep the spine erect and concentrate on any object that is in line of your sight.

Phalakasana (Plank Pose)

There is probably no better Yoga exercise than Phalakasana when it comes to strengthening the abdomen muscles. It takes a good amount of toll to hold the body on the toes and palms. The body should be in a straight line during the practice of Phalakasana. The exercise also stretches the thighs and arms, along with offering flexibility to the wrist. Plank Yoga is an awesome practice to improve the ability of your digestive system.

Virabhadrasana (Warrior Pose)

The name, Warrior Pose itself describes the whole lot of amazing goodness this asana carries. It is practiced in three forms — I, II, and III. All three poses are great for stretching the muscles of the body. Regular exercise of Virabhadrasana helps one challenge oneself more in life. The Yoga poses provide stamina to busy women, who spend most of their time in the workplace.

Pranayama (Breathing Yoga)

Pranayama is the solution of almost all types of problems in the body. The exercise is related to life, since it is the inhalation and exhalation of air. Working women, who want to remain active, should do Pranayama every morning for at least 10 minutes. Regular breathing warms the blood and purifies it. The exercise is also effective in flowing vibrant energy in the body and mind.


Bipin Baloni is a passionate Yogi, Yoga Teacher and a Traveller in India. He organizes 200 hrs Yoga Teacher training in Nepal. Bipin Baloni conducts Yoga Teacher Training in India in different cities. He loves writing and reading books related to yoga, health, nature and the Himalayas.

6 Medicinal Mushrooms That Promote a Healthier Body and Mind

When you hear the word fungus or fungi, you may think of mold or fungal infections — yuck! But some fungi are quite tasty, nutritious, and good for your health. Mushrooms are indeed savory fungi, and people have been eating them for thousands of years.

Various types of mushrooms are known and used in many dishes around the world. If you like pizza, then you must have eaten a lot of mushrooms, specifically the common button mushrooms. Besides being a great choice for a pizza or pasta topping, certain types of mushrooms are used in traditional medicine and have been shown to possess therapeutic properties.

Of the many edible mushroom varieties, there are six that top the list when it comes to giving you the most health benefits. If you are looking to enhance your health in a natural way, you should start getting more of these healthy and nutritious fungi in your diet.

shiitake on log
Photo by Shutterstock

Shiitake

Asian cultures have long revered shiitake mushrooms for their health and longevity enhancing benefits. This is one that is relatively easy to find in your local supermarket, and you can incorporate it into soups and main dishes to give you a boost of natural goodness.

Shiitake mushrooms contain different nutrients, including B and D vitamins, as well as copper, selenium, and other minerals. With proven antioxidant, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, shiitake mushrooms have been used to fight tumors and cancer.[1] They are also used to lower cholesterol levels and boost immunity.[2] If you are worried about getting sick during cold and flu season, start piling these on your plate.

Reishi

If you have troubles with stress and anxiety, reishi mushrooms can soothe your mind, body and soul. This mushroom has antidepressant, anti-inflammatory and adaptogenic effects.[3] Many people use it to help them cope with fatigue, improve mood and sleep better.

Reishi mushrooms are best when steeped into a tea. Drink a cup of it when you need to relax or get some sleep.[4] It is also widely available in powder form as a dietary supplement.

reishi
Photo by Shutterstock

Cordyceps

This woody mushroom is fantastic for boosting your body’s cellular oxygen absorption. For asthma sufferers and elderly people, it helps keep the body energized, increase stamina and combat fatigue. For athletes, it helps increase exercise capacity, and may also help recover from a vigorous workout.[5]

Cordyceps has many suggested uses in traditional medicine, although there is no scientific evidence to support most of the claims. Some men and women use it as an aphrodisiac. It is also believed to have age-defying properties, so if you want to keep people guessing about your age, this mushroom may be worth trying out.

Chaga

When it comes to major diseases and chronic illnesses, inflammation is the common thread between them. By reducing inflammation in your body, you are boosting your overall health. Studies have shown that chaga extract provides significant anti-inflammatory[6] and antiviral[7] benefits.

Chaga mushrooms contain a high concentration of antioxidants that keep free radicals from doing their damage. In one study, it was shown that this mushroom has the potential to reduce oxidative stress, as well as improve cognitive functions, like memory and learning.[8]

Lion’s Mane

Feeling forgetful? Lion’s mane mushroom is ideal for stimulating the production of the nerve growth factor (NGF),[9] a neuropeptide that has a key role in the growth and survival of nerve cells (neurons). Without it, you are at a higher risk for Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases. If you have been feeling like you can’t remember things or are in a creative slump, lion’s mane mushroom could be your ticket to better cognitive function and sharper memory.[10]

Turkey Tail

This mushroom not only boosts immunity, but it also contains prebiotics[11] your body needs to fuel the healthy bacteria in your gut that help you have better digestion, mood, and health overall. With its remarkable antiviral and antimicrobial effects, turkey tail is a great fungus to add to your wellness arsenal.

Wood-based fungi, like turkey tail and cordyceps, aren’t winning any awards for flavors, plus they are not something you will usually find in your local supermarket. You will mostly want to buy these mushrooms from nutrition or supplement stores in powder form so you can easily incorporate them into your meals or drinks to reap the many health benefits they possess. Whether you cook with them, make a tea, or take them in a supplement, make sure all mushrooms you buy are organic to get the best quality without pesticides and toxins that would otherwise undo all their goodness.

References:

[1] Fang N, Li Q, Yu S, Zhang J, He L, Ronis MJ, Badger TM. Inhibition of growth and induction of apoptosis in human cancer cell lines by an ethyl acetate fraction from shiitake mushrooms. J Altern Complement Med. 2006 Mar;12(2):125-32. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16566671/

[2] Dai X, Stanilka JM, Rowe CA, Esteves EA, Nieves C Jr, Spaiser SJ, Christman MC, Langkamp-Henken B, Percival SS. Consuming Lentinula edodes (Shiitake) Mushrooms Daily Improves Human Immunity: A Randomized Dietary Intervention in Healthy Young Adults. J Am Coll Nutr. 2015;34(6):478-87. doi:10.1080/07315724.2014.950391. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25866155/

[3] Matsuzaki H, Shimizu Y, Iwata N, Kamiuchi S, Suzuki F, Iizuka H, Hibino Y, Okazaki M. Antidepressant-like effects of a water-soluble extract from the culture medium of Ganoderma lucidum mycelia in rats. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2013 Dec 26;13:370. doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-13-370. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3879659/

[4] Cui XY, Cui SY, Zhang J, Wang ZJ, Yu B, Sheng ZF, Zhang XQ, Zhang YH. Extract of Ganoderma lucidum prolongs sleep time in rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 2012 Feb 15;139(3):796-800. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2011.12.020. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22207209/

[5] Chen S, Li Z, Krochmal R, Abrazado M, Kim W, Cooper CB. Effect of Cs-4 (Cordyceps sinensis) on exercise performance in healthy older subjects: a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. J Altern Complement Med. 2010 May;16(5):585-90. doi:10.1089/acm.2009.0226. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3110835/

[6] Mishra SK, Kang JH, Kim DK, Oh SH, Kim MK. Orally administered aqueous extract of Inonotus obliquus ameliorates acute inflammation in dextran sulfate sodium (DSS)-induced colitis in mice. J Ethnopharmacol. 2012 Sep 28;143(2):524-32. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2012.07.008. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22819687/

[7] Shibnev VA, Mishin DV, Garaev TM, Finogenova NP, Botikov AG, Deryabin PG. Antiviral activity of Inonotus obliquus fungus extract towards infection caused by hepatitis C virus in cell cultures. Bull Exp Biol Med. 2011 Sep;151(5):612-4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22462058/

[8] Giridharan VV, Thandavarayan RA, Konishi T. Amelioration of scopolamine induced cognitive dysfunction and oxidative stress by Inonotus obliquus - a medicinal mushroom. Food Funct. 2011 Jun;2(6):320-7. doi: 10.1039/c1fo10037h. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21779570/

[9] Lai PL, Naidu M, Sabaratnam V, Wong KH, David RP, Kuppusamy UR, Abdullah N, Malek SN. Neurotrophic properties of the Lion's mane medicinal mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Higher Basidiomycetes) from Malaysia. Int J Med Mushrooms. 2013;15(6):539-54. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24266378/

[10] Mori K, Inatomi S, Ouchi K, Azumi Y, Tuchida T. Improving effects of the mushroom Yamabushitake (Hericium erinaceus) on mild cognitive impairment: a double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Phytother Res. 2009 Mar;23(3):367-72. doi: 10.1002/ptr.2634. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18844328/

[11] Pallav K, Dowd SE, Villafuerte J, Yang X, Kabbani T, Hansen J, Dennis M, Leffler DA, Newburg DS, Kelly CP. Effects of polysaccharopeptide from Trametes versicolor and amoxicillin on the gut microbiome of healthy volunteers: a randomized clinical trial. Gut Microbes. 2014 Jul 1;5(4):458-67. doi:10.4161/gmic.29558. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25006989/


Adrian Flume has been researching and writing about various health topics for several years, particularly in the mental health arena. He writes at Breezy Brain about brain health, mental enhancement and nutritional remedies.

Yoga for Depression and Anxiety: 6 Poses to Boost Your Mood

Yoga is a holistic art of healing and has numerous yoga poses that can work miracles on the mind and body. Similarly, there are some miraculous yoga asanas that rebalance the body energetically and neurologically to restore calmness, harmony, happiness and bring positivity.

rolling up blue yoga mat
Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Balasana (Child’s Pose)

Balasana is restorative, as it relaxes the entire being and uplifts the mood instantly. You need to kneel down on the mat keeping your feet together and then sit on your heels placing the hips over them. Inhale and raise your arms overhead, exhale and bend the torso folding from the hip joint. Place the abdomen in between the thighs, forehead on the mat, hands in front of you and stay in the pose for at least a couple of minutes.

Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

The asana enables better blood flow in the body and provides calmness while reducing anxiety and depression. You need to form a posture like that of a table by being on your four — hands and knees. Then straighten your elbows, raise your hips, come to your feet and form an inverted V with the body. Keep the hands and shoulders, and knees and feet aligned. Keep your head in between arms and hold the pose for 30 seconds.

Halasana (Plow Pose)

An amazing pose of yoga, Halasana calms the brain, reduces stress, and soothes the nervous system. Lie down flat on the mat with arms and legs placed freely. Now place the hands on your back for support, and then lift your legs slowly off the mat. Then lift your hips and back off the ground placing the weight on the shoulders. Continue to take the legs over the head and hold for 10-20 seconds.

Vrksasana (Tree Pose)

Imbibe the features of the tree by being strong, steady and gracious with the asana and improve neuro-muscular coordination while reducing anxiety and depression. Stand erect on the floor with the legs together and hands beside the body. Now fold the right knee outward and place the sole of right foot on the inner side of the left thigh. Now take the arms upward over the head and join in Anjani Mudra. Hold the pose, release and repeat on the other side.

Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)

Release tension and reduce stress with this amazing mood-boosting yoga pose. Uttanasana improves the functioning of the nervous system, calms the mind and reduces anxiety. You need to stand straight on the floor and then bend the torso forward folding from the hip joint. Bring your hands down and put them beside your feet and hold the pose for 20-30 seconds.

Salamba Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand)

You will be extremely benefited from the pose if suffering from anxiety, depression or/and stress. Lie flat on the floor and support the back with your hands, and then slowly pull your legs off the ground. Ensure that the body is in a straight line while balancing on your shoulders. Be in the pose for a while and relax.

These asanas infuse energy and vitality into the entire body and mind, fill you with positivity, and make you able to fight depression and anxiety.


Bipin Baloni is a passionate Yogi, Yoga Teacher and a Traveller in India. He provides Yoga Teacher Training in India. He loves writing and reading books related to yoga, health, nature and the Himalayas.

6 Ways Your Skin Reflects Your Stress

Stress is never a good thing. Apart from generating a lot of unnecessary negativity in your mind, it also brings with it a ton of side effects that can wreak havoc on all aspects of your life — from your work and relationships to your skin! Yes, you read that right! The stress you're dealing with can find many unpleasant ways to reflect on your skin. After all, the skin is the largest sense organ in the body. Any turmoil in your mind is bound to cause a physical reaction. Here are six ways your stress impacts your skin.

How stress reflects our skin
Photo by Pexels

Acne

Stress causes an increase in cortisol levels. Cortisol directly causes a jump in the creation of sebum, which makes your skin oilier. And we all know how oily skin is more vulnerable to acne. You might have noticed sudden breakouts on your skin before your exams — that's clearly connected to the stress you were feeling in that situation.

But, stress is not the only factor contributing to acne. Sometimes, acne can also be a result of the habits you indulge in under pressure. For example, drinking too much coffee, eating unhealthy junk food, or ignoring your daily skin care routine can all eventually become reasons that lead to an acne flare-up.

Dark Circles and Puffy Eyes

Losing sleep over a stressful situation is common. Many of us have spent sleepless nights before an important event — like a job interview, an exam, or a public speech. Sleep deprivation reveals itself through dark circles and puffy eyes. Stress affects the body's salt balance, which causes the eyes to hold water and swell up. Stress also causes the delicate capillaries around your eyes to leak blood, which spreads under the skin. On getting oxidized, it turns purple, giving you that sleep-deprived look.

Remember to take care of yourself. Eat healthily, sleep well, and consult a medical professional to manage the stress. In the meantime, cold compresses can help clear the puffiness.

Wrinkles and Fine Lines

Chronic stress can lead to high cortisol levels, causing fine lines and wrinkles to appear. Cortisol breaks down collagen and hampers the skin's ability to build collagen and elastin naturally in the long run. Wrinkles are a direct result of the loss of these fibers that prevent the skin from premature sagging. Stress also disrupts your anti-aging skin care routine because when you're distracted by whatever's making you anxious, it's easy to forget to care for the skin.

Delayed Wound Healing

Chronic stress weakens the epidermis. This has a negative impact on the skin's ability to act as a barrier. The resultant water loss hampers the skin's ability to heal wounds. Specific research in this area has found that even minimally invasive injuries take much longer to heal during periods of stress as compared to wounds sustained under non-stressful situations. The immune system is integral to wound healing, and stress affects its normal functioning. Cortisol is quite sensitive to stress. A higher cortisol level interrupts healing activities, such as the creation of pro-inflammatory cytokines at the site of the wound.

Thinner, More Sensitive Skin

An abnormally high level of cortisol makes your skin thinner. It breaks down dermal proteins, making your skin appear paper-thin, causing it to bruise and tear easily. But it is important to remember that there may be other reasons your skin is displaying these symptoms. It could be due to aging or serious conditions like Cushing's Syndrome. If you feel that's what you might be experiencing, do consult with your doctor for a diagnosis.

Stress Rashes

Under stress, your body releases surplus chemicals, such as neurotransmitters and neuropeptides. These chemicals affect your body’s response to several functions. The results of this can range from inflammation to sensitive skin and other unpleasant skin situations. You can deal with mild and moderate rashes using cold compresses and over-the-counter medication. However, you may need to consult a dermatologist if the flare-ups are more frequent or severe. Stress also aggravates existing skin conditions such as rosacea and psoriasis.

While these are all unpleasant displays of stress, the good news is that they are manageable. You can prevent them if you can learn to manage your stress positively. You can beat stress by trying out a variety of relaxation techniques, such as meditation, yoga, exercise, and deep breathing. Also, consult with a dermatologist, who can help you treat any existing skin problems.

Everyone goes through some pressure at some point in their lives. But it's important to take care of yourself and not let the stress get to you — or your skin.

 







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