Natural Health
Better living through nature

Medical Cannabis: Nature’s Remedy

Cannabis has gone from stigma to stardom in the last decade, with healthcare headlines stretching across the states. The nation’s capital, Washington D.C., has even legalized cannabis for medicinal usage, but opinions continue to vary about just how accessible the plant should be.

When it comes to recreational usage, marijuana has been legalized for use for individuals who are eighteen and older in some states, such as Washington and Colorado. As there was the prohibition on alcohol at the start of the last century, many hope the prohibition on marijuana will soon be a part of history.

Recreational and medicinal users point out the value of cannabis as a non-dangerous, natural herb that relieves everything from anxiety to Parkinson’s disease.

medical cannabis tincture
Photo by Adobe Stock/carlos Restrepo.

Cannabis Is a “Mother” Plant with Many Remedies

For thousands of years, cannabis has been used by people of various cultures, and healers have used this “mother” plant to treat many illnesses.

From around 1500 B.C., ancient scrolls in Egypt mention the medicinal properties of cannabis, such as relieving hemorrhoid pain by adding cannabis to their suppositories. The Greeks treated nosebleeds and GI tract issues with it. Medieval doctors further east, in Islamic cultures, used cannabis to treat pain, edema, epilepsy and inflammation.

For Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), cannabis is one of 50 essential and sacred healing plants, used to treat a variety of conditions: gout, foggy memory, constipation and rheumatism.

In modern society, the list of conditions cannabis may treat is long — acute and chronic pain, headaches, nausea from cancer treatments, neurological pain, back pain, PMS, digestive disorders and lack of appetite due to chronic illness, to name a few. Promise for treatment is exhibited with Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, Alzheimer’s, dementia, depression, anxiety, chronic stress, anorexia and asthma, among others.

Cannabis is a promising herb that nurtures and heals various types of conditions. However, its current classification limits more in-depth research, with non-approved usage branding providers and users as criminals.

Currently, there are two strains that create psychoactive cannabinoids, which are Cannabis Sativa and Cannabis Indica. These are illegal in many states. The key to cannabis’ stardom is in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the most reactive of the nearly eighty strains that interact with brain receptors.

Besides Smoking: How Do You Take Cannabis?

You don’t have to smoke marijuana to take in the healing benefits because cannabis comes in many forms. Take it as a liquid extract or tincture, oil, oral spray, food or vapor. It’s present in many innovative and unique products, from lotion to cannabis-infused coffee. These products are absorbed orally or through the skin, and the degree of a “high” or cannabinoid effectiveness depends on how it is taken and for what.

No matter how you take cannabis, you need a prescription from your doctor, preferably one who has experience prescribing cannabis as a treatment. A “marijuana doctor” objectively recognizes the benefits of cannabis for medical prescription and won’t judge patients for requesting it in their treatment plan. It’s important to seek out a doctor who has experience prescribing cannabis because he or she will know the ins and outs of its medicinal usage and any legal implications.

This doctor will have a focus in primary care or a specialty, like any other doctor, except with the understanding and ability to prescribe cannabis as a treatment. They will keep up to date with research, be trained in addiction medicine and thoroughly counsel the patient and review history of any marijuana or cannabis usage to accurately prescribe the proper dosage for the patient’s case.

Overcoming Stigma to Learn About Cannabis Treatment

Due to cannabis and marijuana’s cultural stigma and its illegal status in particular states, many people are hesitant to demand more knowledge. Even in states where cannabis for medicinal use is legal, patients are afraid to approach their doctors and inquire about a treatment plan that could better their conditions.

It’s important to choose health over stigma. Life-long suffering is not worth the misinformed opinions of judgmental individuals.

Read success and failure stories of other patients with similar conditions and conduct your own research. The next step is talking to a trusted friend or loved one to help build your confidence, one who will help you make an appointment and go through considerations with your doctor. When you have enough information, you may focus on educating more skeptical loved ones with relevant data.

Your primary care physician or a qualified doctor in a cannabis-legal state would write you a prescription if your condition will benefit from cannabis treatment. You may also need to obtain a specific cannabis treatment card to receive your prescription. Your doctor will walk you through the process.

Medicinal cannabis continues to be headliner as nature’s remedy to treat various conditions as an alternative to other drugs that come loaded with side effects. From anxiety to Parkinson’s, many conditions are relieved by the use of medicinal cannabis, and the patient may take it in many forms. Check with your doctor to learn about qualifying conditions.

The wisdom of ancient and herbal healing has its place to work as a complementary medicine to conventional medical care. Don’t discount a powerful herb with many beneficial constituents simply because you fear another’s judgment. Take power over your health, do some research and discover if medical cannabis is right for you.

Natural Remedies for Poison Ivy & Oak

If you’ve been in or around the woods at all, you’ve probably heard the saying “leaves of three, let it be.” Sounds simple enough, right? Unfortunately, even for those allergic to poison ivy, it can be a bit more difficult than that to avoid breaking out in an unbearably itchy rash.

Being on the lookout for “leaves of three” is a great starting point, but what many of us aren’t taught is that poison ivy, oak and sumac all contain the same oil—urushiol—which, for some, can cause an allergic reaction when it binds to the skin and that fact can increase the odds of coming into contact with something bothersome.

poison ivy and poison oak leaves
Photos (left to right) by AdobeStock/Stuart Monk; AdobeStock/mendogyal.

Where to Find Poison Ivy and Oak

Poison ivy is the most prevalent variety of these plants and can be found throughout most of the United States, excluding California and Hawaii. Poison oak is found throughout California, the Pacific Northwest, Midwest and East coast. Poison sumac also produces urushiol and is found in super-moist, swampy areas along the East, Gulf and Upper Peninsula coasts.

If you know you’ve come in contact with these plants, wash the affected area thoroughly with warm, soapy water as soon as possible to help avoid the resulting rash. Wash all clothing, tools or other personal items that could have come in contact as well, considering that the oil resin can remain active for years, causing future rashes to occur unbeknownst to you. And, in the event that you’ve already developed a rash, you can rest easy knowing there are natural ways to alleviate itching, redness and discomfort.

“Nature provides exceptions to every rule.” –Margaret Fuller

Even in the case of urushiol-induced rashes, Fuller is right. Nature is a powerful resource for healing, and provides us with the perfect antidote to soothe irritated skin. Often referred to as “touch-me-not,” jewelweed is part of the impatiens family and enjoys the same habitats as poison ivy, oak and sumac. Odds are, if you’ve stumbled into a patch, you can readily find nature’s cure nearby!

Using Jewelweed for Poison Ivy Treatment

1. Locate orange-flowered jewelweed (Impatiens biflora) and harvest, making sure to keep stalks intact.
2. If outdoors, break the stalk and rub raw plant juices directly on exposed areas.
3. If treating at home, place stalks in a blender and blend thoroughly. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator through spring and summer. You can also boil crushed stalks to create an extract that can be frozen for up to 1 year.

Easy-to-Find Alternatives to Raw Jewelweed

If you aren’t in an area with abundant jewelweed habitats or can’t find any, French green clay is an excellent alternative. It works somewhat like Calamine lotion—but better, in my experience. Measure clay into a small, lidded jar, add water and stir to create a paste thick enough that it won’t drip or slip when applied. Apply clay to rash, let dry and cover with clothing. Seal your container to keep this remedy hydrated and ready for your next application.

Most health food stores also offer jewelweed soap and comfrey salves. Use the soap in the shower to help dry out the rash. Once the rash begins to dry out and heal, apply a soothing comfrey salve (try our DIY recipe if you can’t find one locally) to reduce redness, itching and speed-up healing time. Bonus: Keep your comfrey salve handy for minor scrapes, pain relief and bug bites.

5 Tips for Natural Stress Management

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

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

woman drinking coffee
Photo by Adobe Stock/nd3000.

Go Decaf

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

Eat Well

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

acupuncture in leg
Photo by Adobe Stock/Monet.

Try Acupuncture

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

Calming Herbs

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

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

Get Out

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

Five Reasons to Try Trampoline Yoga


Photo Courtesy JumpSport

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

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

Beginner Friendly

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

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

The Challenge is Adjustable

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


Photo Courtesy JumpSport

It’s Easy on the Joints

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

Nourishes the Mind and Body

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

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

It’s Fun!

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

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

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

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


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Wildcrafting 101: Wild Plants in Season Now


Shar Veda

Stinging Nettle

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


Shar Veda

 

Chickweed

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

Dandelion Greens

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

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


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

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Managing Diabetes Naturally


Photo by Fotolia

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

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

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

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

Apple Cider Vinegar or ACV

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

Turmeric

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

Exercise

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

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

Water

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

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

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


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


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


Photo by SocialMonsters

"I should."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be Mindful: "I want to stop overeating."

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

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

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

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


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