Monthly Archives: August 2011

To Brush or Not to Brush…

That is the question 🙂 I recently responded to a piece about exfoliation and thought “Everything is about the latest abrasive or peel or something. What about a simple brushing?” I do Dry Brushing as often as I can and I love how my skin feels afterwards. It is simple and a nice alternative to using the butters or oils with an abrasive. I am not saying those aren’t great ways to exfoliate but sometimes you just don’t feel like having oil on you.

 

Everyone is talking about the latest, greatest fad in beauty or the latest greatest technology, but sometimes it is the very simple thing that can make a big difference in the appearance of your skin and ultimately in how you feel. Dry Brushing is a simple technique that anyone can use to help with exfoliation of the skin and to make your skin glow and feel smooth. It also invigorates the body and helps with blood circulation to the skin. The best thing about it is that it can be done, of course, without oils and with the right brush, even on the face. You can do this every day if you wish or as little as once a week!

 

Natural bristle brushes are perfect for Dry Brushing.

The best type of brush to use is a natural bristle brush. One made with boar’s hair or even agave fibers is ideal in doing a great dry brushing. The best time to do one is right before you take your shower or bath.  This way, all the dead skin cells that you have released on your body will easily be washed away in the shower. It is very simple to dry brush. First, you get your brush. You can find these in most holistic, health stores, natural skin care stores. You begin dry brushing from the extremities inwards towards the chest/heart. This way it follows the natural flow of blood and also helps with lymph circulation. Starting from the left finger tip, you take the brush and with brisk, circular motions, begin brushing until you reach your shoulder and onwards towards your chest. Repeat for the right arm. Do the same with your feet. With brisk, circular motions, work your way up from your left foot up towards your waist. Repeat with the right foot. Now start at your stomach and again with brisk, circular motions, work your way upwards toward your chest. With a long handled brush you should be able to do your back. A good and effective Dry Brush will take about 15 minutes to complete. When you are finished, step into your waiting bath (best to relax with a nice warm bath filled with your favorite salt, tea, milk or oil) or shower. When Dry Brushing your face, you still want to do circular motions, but not with as much force as you did your body. The skin on the face is much more delicate.

This is the best way to exfoliate without using oils, salts or other abrasive particles. Your skin is exfoliated, your skin glows and you  feel rejuvenated and refreshed right after.
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Allopathic vs Naturopathic Medicine

East versus West Medicine;
Which should you choose and Why?

What do we know about sickness, diseases and how to treat them? Do you know that there are two differing views on how to treat your body if you are sick? You may think that just going to your family practitioner is the only way to deal with most colds, flu and other ailments, but this is a fairly new, in terms of human history, way of treating sicknesses. That model of treating the symptoms of diseases or sickness is known as allopathic medicine. Your family doctor practices allopathic medicine. It is more commonly known as “western” or “Conventional” medicine. A more formal definition of allopathic medicine, as taken directly from Medterms.com states that “Allopathic medicine: The system of medical practice which treats disease by the use of remedies which produce effects different from those produced by the disease under treatment. MDs practice allopathic medicine.” [1] And naturopathy is defined as “Naturopathic medicine blends centuries-old natural, non-toxic therapies with current advances in the study of health and human systems, covering all aspects of family health from prenatal to geriatric care. Naturopathic medicine concentrates on whole-patient wellness; the medicine is tailored to the patient and emphasizes prevention and self-care. Naturopathic medicine attempts to find the underlying cause of the patient’s condition rather than focusing solely on symptomatic treatment. Naturopathic physicians cooperate with all other branches of medical science referring patients to other practitioners for diagnosis or treatment when appropriate.”[2] With these two types of practices or modules properly defined, we will now look at why and when you should use a naturopathic doctor and when you should use an allopathic doctor.

Most people feel that if you go to a naturopathic medicine that you are crazy and that you live in the wild and hug trees. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Many people in today’s society now use naturopaths to help maintain a healthy lifestyle and, when needed will go to an allopath if the sickness does not respond to natural healing methods. There are many different fields within the naturopathic modality. You have acupuncture, holistic medicine, chiropractic, osteopathy, herbal medicines, homeopathy, ayuverdic medicine[Y1] , phytotherapy, flower essences, massage and other types of body work like Reiki and reflexology, and so forth. What many people do not know is that both naturopathic medicine and allopathic medicine can and do work well when paired together and used to compliment the other. “Naturopathic doctors treat their patients holistically, taking into consideration the individual’s biochemistry, biomechanics, and emotional predispositions. The body’s self-healing ability can be better understood if one takes into account the fact that homeostasis, or biological balance, is the main characteristic of any healthy system.”[3] A naturopathic doctor goes through a four year medical training much like a regular doctor. They have levels and apprenticeships and internships that they must also perform before they can be considered as an ND, doctor or naturopath. The difference with the naturopathic doctor in their level of training is that they must learn the natural healing modalities that use a non toxic, holistic method of treatment and by learning to treat the disease as opposed to just treating the symptoms of the disease. The naturopath, like the allopath, emphasizes disease prevention and optimization of a healthy lifestyle.

[1] http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=33612
[2] http://www.aanmc.org/naturopathic-medicine.php
[3] http://www.naturodoc.com/cardinal/naturopathy/whatisNM.htm#philosophy
[Y1]Practiced in India for the past five thousand years, Ayurvedic (meaning “science of life’) is a comprehensive system that combines natural therapies with a highly personalized approach to treatment of disease. Ayurvedic medicine places equal emphasis on body, mind and spirit, and strives to restore the innate harmony of the individual. (http://www.healingartistsofsac.com/Glossary.htm)

Honey…have some honey :-)

honey stock photo

“Honey is made up from fructose, glucose, water and other sugars. It also contains many enzymes, vitamins, minerals and amino acids that your body needs. Honey contains many antioxidants that are used by the body to eliminate free radicals – molecules which zip around in healthy cells and have the potential to damage them. Honey therefore makes a good alternative to sugar in food and drink. Care must be taken though, as honey does contain lots of sugars and it must be eaten in moderation. Sugars should not generally represent more than 10 percent of your total calorie intake.” (www.bupa.co.uk)

We are lucky to have here on island (St. Croix, US Virgin Islands) a rich and abundant supply of honey made from our local flowers, fruit trees and plants. Honey has been used since ancient times for everything from food to healing. And the best type of honey to consume or use is the honey that is harvested from where you live around your community. There have been stories of honey being used to heal wounds and infections that modern antibiotics could not heal. For the most part, if there is a moist wound, or a malodorous wound that is not healing, then chances are applying some unfiltered, un-heated honey will help to heal that wound.

When honey comes into contact with the skin it makes hydrogen peroxide. Glucose oxidase, introduced by the bees, is the enzyme that helps to produce this reaction of honey and the skin. This is the main antibacterial agent within honey that helps with its miraculous wound healing property. Because it is high in sugars and very acidic, as well as being low in proteins, it does not allow for contaminants to grow within the honey and also helps with its antibacterial properties.

“It is a common observation in medical journal reports that numerous benefits result from using honey to dress wounds:

* The viscosity of honey provides a protective barrier to prevent wounds becoming infected.
* Honey creates a moist healing environment that allows skin cells to regrow across a healing wound flush with the surface of the wound, preventing deformity of the skin. (If a dry scab forms on a wound, the skin cells can only grow across the wound deeper down where it is moist.)
* Honey causes scabs and dead cells to lift off the surface of the wound, leaving a clean healthy wound bed in which regrowth of tissue can occur.
* Honey stimulates the regrowth of tissue involved in the healing process. It stimulates the formation of new blood capillaries and the growth of fibroblasts that replace the connective tissue of the deeper layer of the skin and produce the collagen fibers that give strength to the repair. In addition, honey stimulates the growth of epithelial cells that form the new skin cover over a healed wound. Honey thus prevents scarring and keloid formation, and removes the need for skin grafting even with quite large wounds.
* Honey does not stick to the underlying wound tissues, so there is no tearing away of newly formed tissue, and no pain, when dressings are changed.
* Honey has an anti-inflammatory action, which reduces the swelling around a wound. This improves circulation and thus hastens the healing process. It also reduces pain. The amount of fluid exuding from wounds is also decreased by the anti-inflammatory action.
* The high sugar content of honey draws lymph out of a wound, which lifts dirt out of the wound bed.
* Honey prevents the odor that is commonly associated with serious wounds and skin ulcers, by clearing bacterial infection, and more immediately, by providing sugar to any bacteria present. In this environment, lactic acid is produced instead of the smelly byproducts of the degradation of protein.
* Honey rapidly clears infection from wounds. It is fully effective even with antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. Unlike antiseptics and antibiotics, there is no impairment of the healing process through adverse effects on wound tissues. ” (www.sdearthtimes.com)

Locally, we have used honey when we have sore throats or a cough that is irritating, or even when we have a bit of a chest congestion. Your mother would have told you to go get a lime from the tree and mix it with some honey. The Vitamin C in the lime blended with the soothing, coating honey made us all feel a little better, plus it tasted good so we didn’t mind taking our medicine so much 🙂

There are so many wonderful uses for honey both internally and externally and this is one topic that we will be visiting more than once as we explore honey.

Resources:
http://www.honeyo.com/honeyhealing.shtml
http://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/minerals/health-benefits-of-minerals.html
http://www.honeyassociation.com/healthbe.htm
http://www.bupa.co.uk/health_information/asp/healthy_living/lifestyle/diet/honey/
http://www.sdearthtimes.com/et0100/et0100s17.html

Black Pepper Essential Oil

A note for those reading this piece, itiba’s MidNite Rain and Crucian Spice both contain this wonderful, exotic, spicy essential oil. Again, when this essential oil is paired with both nutmeg oil AND clove essential oil (as in the Crucian Spice blend), you now have a wonderful blend that is great to use in rubs for tired, sore muscles. But remember, use sparingly if making your own home made remedies and make sure you are using a reputable supplier of essential oils. The information on Black Pepper Essential Oil is taken directly from the OrganicFacts.net website.

Found in itiba's MidNite Rain and Crucian Spice blends

The health benefits of Black Pepper Essential Oil can be attributed to its properties like digestive, diaphoretic, carminative, aperient, anti spasmodic, anti rheumatic & anti arthritic, anti bacterial, anti oxidant etc.

Black Pepper is a condiment (spice) which is very common and popular worldwide. It is extensively used in culinary. It tastes hot and has a nice appetizing aroma. Black Pepper is the dried fruit of pepper plant, whose scientific name is Piper Nigrum.

Once upon a time, it was considered sacred and even used as currency. It was so valuable that it was traded in exchange with gold (gold was considered cheaper to Black Pepper) and was one of the most priced trade items exported from India to the rest of the world. The main components of its essential oil are Limonene, Pinene, Myrcene, Phellandrene, Beta Caryophyllene, Beta Bisabolene, Sabinene, Linalol, Pinocarveol, Alpha Termineol, Camphene and Alpha Terpenene. Apart from them, black pepper is rich in minerals and vitamins like Calcium, Manganese, Iron, Vitamin-K, Beta Carotene, Phosphorus, Potassium and Selenium. Let us see what health benefits Black Pepper Oil has in store for us.

* Digestive: It is remarkably beneficial for digestion. It stimulates the whole digestive system, right from the salivary glands in the mouth to the large intestine, promoting secretion of digestive juices like acids and bile into the ingested food, thereby facilitating digestion. Black Pepper can be safely used as a spice to the food of those who are on a bland diet or otherwise forbidden to have chilies (those suffering from ulcer of the mouth of the digestive system or jaundice or extreme acidity are forbidden to consume chilies).
* Carminative: Black Pepper Oil is carminative and helps remove gases and prohibit gas formation in the stomach and in the intestines. It also helps inhibit bacteria which are responsible for formation of gas.
* Aperient: The Black Pepper oil has mild purgative properties and it is safe too, unlike other purgatives like Castor Oil. It helps clean the intestines and at the same time, cure infections in the digestive and the excretory system.
* Anti Spasmodic: It is an effective anti spasmodic and gives good relief in cases of cramps, muscles pulls, spasms, convulsions etc.
* Anti Rheumatic & Anti Arthritic: These are two of the best qualities of the Black Pepper oil. It is warming, stimulating and improves circulation, thereby giving immediate relief in rheumatism and arthritis, particularly in winters when the symptoms aggravate. It is also effective in removing toxins like uric acid from the blood, thereby benefiting people suffering from chronic rheumatism and arthritis, gout etc.
* Diaphoretic & Diuretic: Black Pepper oil, when ingested, increases sweating and urination. Both of these properties play an important role in removal of toxins from the body, clearing of the pores in skin and also disinfecting the body. Sweating and urinating help lose extra water and fat from the body, thus reducing weight, lowering blood pressure and making the body relaxed. These properties are also helpful in reducing inflammation.
* Anti Oxidant: This is yet another beneficial property of Black Pepper oil. It protects the body from damages done by oxidants (free radicals) and also helps repair them. It also delays adverse affects of aging such as vision loss, macular degeneration, wrinkling of skin, degeneration and loosening of muscles, loss in mobility of joints, nervous disorders, memory loss etc.
* Anti Bacterial: It has good anti bacterial properties and that too, without side effects. It is very effective in curing bacterial infections in mouth, colon, digestive system, urinary tract etc. It also disinfects food stuffs in which it is added and protects them from bacterial infections for long.
* Other Benefits: Black Pepper oil is rich in certain very useful minerals and vitamins too. For example, there is vitamin-A (Beta Carotene) in it, which is very beneficial for ocular health as well as is a very good anti oxidant. It has vitamin-K which is essential for maintaining proper circulatory and metabolic functions, muscles, bones etc. Then it has calcium, potassium and selenium. While calcium is good for bones and potassium for regulating blood pressure, selenium is essentially required for proper formation of bones, nails, hair, follicles and teeth and for proper functioning of brain.

Few Words of Caution: As such, there is nothing to be scared about Black Pepper oil, except that if taken in large quantity, it may cause uneasiness, unrest, vomiting, loose motions, irritation and inflammation of the intestines, sleeplessness etc. being hot and pungent. But there is nothing serious about these symptoms.

Blending: Black Pepper Oil can be blended with Lemon, Lime, Lavender, Sage, Sandalwood, Mandarin, Ylang-Ylang, Juniper, Bergamot, Clary Sage, Clove, Ginger, Geranium, Coriander, Grapefruit, Fennel and Frankincense Oil.

from “http://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/essential-oils/health-benefits-of-black-pepper-essential-oil.html”

Rejuvenating Body Scrub

It’s been a while, but I thought I would come back with a simple recipe that I know you will enjoy! In today’s very stressful times, we all need a little something that will help put us at ease and allow us to open our minds so that we can put our best ideas and self forward.

Lavender Flowers with essential oil

 

If you have access to great essential oils, please always make sure you have some peppermint (or spearmint) essential oil and patchouli essential oil and lavender essential oil as well. I used to use this blend a LOT when I worked for the Post Office and it always helped me to de-stress after a a hard day’s work. Believe it or not, the patchouli actually helps to calm the body and put you in a relaxed state while the peppermint will give you just enough of a kick to keep you from going all the way to sleep. The lavender can be added if you want to really relax and temper the peppermint. Here are the ingredients:

 

2 drops peppermint essential oil

3 drops patchouli essential oil

2 drops lavender essential oil (optional)

1 cup sea salt (fine if being used as a scrub, medium if being used as a soak)

3/4 cup of olive oil ( or any oil you choose or have on hand, use the oil if you are making a scrub and use with fine sea salt)

clean bowl large enough to combine ingredients

spatula or large spoon

 

If you are making a scrub, combine the essential oils with the salt. Combine thoroughly and then add the oil. If you feel you need a but more oil, then add a few drops until it is to your desire. Step into the shower  cleanse the skin. Rinse off and with circular motions begin to rub the salt mixture into your body. Be sure to concentrate on the heels, elbows, hands, knees. Allow the aroma to relax you and slowly begin to take away your stress. You will begin to feel yourself feel lighter and refreshed as you continue the scrubbing of your body and inhaling of the fragrance  you have created! When finished, rinse off and feel how silky soft your skin is. You will notice also that your mood will have changed to now allow you to relax but not to fully sleep.

 

If you are making a bath soak, simply omit the oil (or keep, the choice is yours, but just use less than the 3/4). While running your warm bath water, pour the salts into the tub and allow to dissolve before stepping and soaking in the tub. Light your candles, play a little soft, relaxing music and create your own personal sanctuary. Simply close your eyes and relax and allow your stress to be taken away.