Balsam fir has a fresh, woody and earthy scent that can help reduce stress. Balsam fir is primarily used for sore, fatigued muscles as a natural pain reliever. It can be applied topically mixed with a carrier oil or lotion. Balsam fir is also used to treat respiratory infections, sore throats and arthritis. It can help detoxify the body and improve bone health. When diffused and inhaled balsam fir has a grounding effect on the body allowing you to relax, while also being stimulating to the mind. Balsam fir blends well with cedarwood, lemon, lavender and chamomile.
Difficulty sleeping affects millions of Americans, and on average we sleep 2 hours less per night than we did 100 years ago. If your intention for the new year is to lose weight, be healthier or have less stress then sleep hygiene is the best place to start. Here are some tips for sleeping well so that you can be the best version of yourself that this world needs!
Aromatherapy. Scents can have a powerful effect on our ability to relax and slow down. Try using a diffuser on your nightstand or making a pillow spray with essential oils and water. My favorite is a blend of lavender, cedarwood, bergamot and frankincense.
Herbs. Herbs can have powerful sedative abilities and can be used as a tea or in pill or tincture form. Herbs that can help relax the body and mind and promote sleep include skullcap, valerian, chamomile, lemon balm and passionflower.
Dim the lights. If you use your phone or watch TV before going to sleep try turning the light down on your screens. If you have an Iphone you can even set it to automatically dim at a set time. The pineal gland needs total darkness to release melatonin which not only regulates your sleep but is also a very important hormone for burning fat.
Food is medicine. Some foods naturally increase seratonin, melatonin and tryptophan which all play important roles in regulating sleep. Calcium and magnesium are important for sleep as well. Some bedtime snack ideas include warm goats milk kefir which is high in calcium and magnesium, pumpkin seeds and dark chocolate which are high in magnesium, tart cherry juice which increases melatonin, oatmeal which has anxiety reducing properties with honey and dark cherries, warm milk or nut milk with cinnamon and nutmeg, and banana with almond butter.
Exercise. If you have a small child or a dog you know the best way to wear them out so they can sleep is to get them to run around. Same is true for you! Get up and get moving every day. Start small. Go for a walk on your lunch break, put on some music and dance as hard as you can, jump on a mini trampoline before you get in the shower or do jumping jacks while you wait for your coffee. Adding in a little bit of movement here and there adds up and can make a huge difference in your ability to sleep well.
Massage. Massage therapy can help reduce insomnia and aid in better sleep by allowing your body to relax and by relieving stress. Massage can reduce fatigue and improve the quality of your sleep. Massage can decrease cortisol (stress hormone) and increase serotonin which helps regulate melatonin (sleep hormone). Massage can also help decrease stress and pain which can both be a large cause of insomnia.
It can be very difficult to love our bodies. We are constantly sold messages that our bodies are not good enough, and that they need to be fixed or changed in some way. We often feel betrayed by our bodies due to pain or poor health. We can feel like we are at war with our bodies through dieting and restriction. Many of us have painful memories and trauma associated with our bodies that can make it difficult to love the skin we inhabit. But our bodies are resilient and miraculous vessels that are with us our entire lives. Instead of trying to change or critique our bodies, lets use this season of gratitude to appreciate all that our bodies have done for us.
You can give thanks that your body has seen you through many long years of life.
You can give thanks that your body is young and healthy and strong.
You can give thanks that your body has taught you important lessons about pain and the mental and emotional strength you have in bearing it.
You can give thanks that your body has survived the ravages of cancer.
You can give thanks that your body has given rise to new life.
You can give thanks if your body honors your parents with features it received from them.
You can give thanks if your body has the senses to know beauty, the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and feelings of the world around you.
You can give thanks if your body includes a mind that can think, imagine, and dream.
You can give thanks that your body has built, dug, cooked, sewn, planted, and shaped the world around it.
You can give thanks that your body has held and honored and taught the bodies of others around you.
Massage therapists are lucky people. We get to see the wonder in the bodies around us every day. It is an honor that I am perpetually grateful for. Receiving massage therapy has been an important way for me to grow to love my body and show it gratitude and appreciation. Take some time today to show your body some love. This could be as simple as and placing your hand over your heart and taking a long deep breath.If we all took a moment every day to send some love and gratitude to our bodies we could begin to collectively change the body negativity of our culture.
Last year I took a course on Ayurveda and it has helped a great deal with my own personal health and well being. Ayurveda translates as “knowledge of life”. It is an ancient life science from the Hindu tradition dating back 5,000. It is a way of living to keep the body and mind in balance and health. Ayurveda provides guidelines for daily and seasonal routines involving diet, exercises, cleansing, herbal healing and lifestyle . A person’s individual constitution, known as dosha, is also taken into account for a highly individualized approach to health.
One major aspect of Ayurveda is the change of seasons and the effect it has on our physical and emotional health. By being aware of these changes and using tools from Ayurveda to manage them, the change of season can be an enjoyable and transforming time. It is an opportunity to shift our patterns and ways of thinking and enter into a new rhythm of life guided by nature.
Ayurveda is governed by three doshas, Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Each person is a combination of these doshas and the goal of Ayurveda is to maintain the balance of one’s natural doshas. Each season has a predominant dosha and can cause a person of that dosha to become out of balance because of the excess of the elements governing that season.
We are entering fall which is Vata season, and the elements of ether and air are predominant. This can cause a person, especially those with high vata to become ungrounded and have digestive troubles, fatigue, anxiety and depression. There are many Ayurvedic grounding practices such as bathing, oiling the body, slow gentle yoga, doing a mono-diet cleanse (kitchari), using herbs and spices, eating more grounding and cooked foods such as root vegetables and much more.
I have often struggled with the change into fall and have begun to use many of these tools to ease the transition. Simply having the awareness that my body and mind will react differently to the change of season has made it easier. I can not eat, exercise and go, go, go in the fall the way I do in the summer. In our culture we often have to change very little about our lives when the seasons change. This can cause the changes we feel in our bodies and minds to sneak up on us and throw us for a loop. By embracing the changes and allowing our bodies to go through the natural shift we can find a healthier way of being. Below are several resources such as recipes, exercises and activities for aiding your body through this beautiful shift into fall.
Treating yourself to a massage can be a great way to soothe the body and replenish the mind through this transition.
Banyan Botanicals is an excellent resource for Ayurvedic supplies and articles.
Fall Ayurvedic Recipes
Fall Ayurvedic Cleanse Guide
Have you always wanted to make your own Kombucha but have no idea where to begin? I can help! I have been brewing my own Kombucha for over 2 years and have learned a lot along the way about how to make it a simple and easy process. The thought of fermenting anything can be very overwhelming for many people, but in reality it is a completely safe and natural process. All you have to do is put in a little time and love and you will have a continuous flow of delicious healthy Kombucha.
Kombucha Start-Up Program Includes:
Store bought Kombucha is very expensive and making your own Kombucha will not only save you tons of money but it can be a fun and enjoyable process. The SCOBY is a living organism and having it live in the same environment as you allows it to cultivate the right culture for your body. Caring for this living organism that in turn nourishes you, can be a deeply rewarding experience. Your friends will love coming over and having fresh home brew Kombucha, and it is a wonderfully gratifying thing to share with others.
Health Benefits of Kombucha:
The human body is a complex organism and one of its major components is the microbiome. A microbiome is a community of organisms such as bacteria, fungi and viruses that inhabit a particular environment. 90% of the cells in the body are microbial cells and most of these are found in the gut. The microbiome in the gut plays an important role in the body because it is where the body interacts the most with the outside word. The gut microbiome plays a large role in regulating the immune system and is your immune system's first line of defense.
The gut microbiome is a direct line of communication for the central nervous system and messages are constantly being sent between your brain and gut. This is called the gut brain axis. The gut is the site of mood regulating hormones such as serotonin and dopamine. A healthy gut plays a huge role in your mental health.
Stress affects your gut microbiome because of the role it plays in the bodies immune response. Your immune system is unable to distinguish between mental and physical stress, therefore the inflammatory response is activated, flooding your system with inflammatory cytokines which act as messengers. Chronic stress constantly activates this inflammatory response leading to chronic inflammation and disease. Having an imbalance of bad bacteria in the gut can contribute to the release of inflammatory cytokines, leading to more inflammation. Good bacteria in the gut can have the opposite effect, interacting with the immune system in a way that can reduce the stress response.
Massage therapy can play a role in your gut health by allowing your body to enter the parasympathetic nervous system. This is your bodies rest and digest mode and allows for the reactivation of the digestive system, which slows down during the stress response. This allows for restoration to occur in your gut microbiome and reduce the body's inflammatory immune response to stress. Massage can also help manage pain caused by chronic inflammation. Abdominal massage can assist digestion through the relaxation of sphincter muscles in the intestinal tract, increasing intestinal activity which in turn improves gut health.
You may be wondering what laundry detergent has to do with massage or wellness. As a massage therapist I do a LOT of laundry. Two years ago my friend gave me a jar of homemade laundry detergent called “super laundry sauce” and I have been making and using it for all my laundry ever since. Not only does it work great and remove oil, dirt and stains, but it is non-toxic and environmentally friendly.
Most commercial laundry detergents are filled with toxic ingredients that are harmful to your health and the environment.Your skin is the largest organ in your body and laundry detergent residues that remain on your clothes are absorbed through your skin.
Super laundry sauce uses only four simple ingredients: washing soda, borax, castile soap and essential oils. It is non toxic and is not harmful to the environment. It is made in reusable glass mason jars so there is no wasted plastic.
If you would like to learn how to make laundry sauce see the recipe below. If you would like to use laundry sauce but are way too busy to make it, I've got you covered. I will be selling laundry sauce at my office for $10 for 1 quart jar. Every time you return an empty mason jar you will get $1.50 towards your next jar.
Super Laundry Sauce Recipe
4 cups water
1 bar castile soap
1 cup Borax
1 cup washing soda
10 drops of essential oils
2 quart mason jars
1. Add water to a saucepan and turn on medium heat.
2. Cut up bar soap into chunks and grind in food processor, or use a knife to thinly slice, or grate with a cheese grater.
3. When water is heated but not boiling add grated soap and stir continuously until dissolved about 5 minutes. Reduce heat if boiling begins.
4. Once soap is dissolved remove from heat and add borax and washing soda. Stir for several minutes until dissolved.
5. Add essential oils. (lemon is great because of its antimicrobial properties)
6. Divide liquid into 2 mason jars. Add water to fill to the shoulder of the jar leaving about 1.5 inches of space at the top.
Tightly secure lids and turn the jars upside down.
7. Allow to sit for 4-5 hours. Any longer and you could end up with a grainy texture.
8. Now blend the contents by using an immersion blender, mason jar blender attachment or in a blender or food processor. (this last method makes more of a mess)
9. The mixture will be a whipped consistency and will be slightly wet at first but will thicken in a few days.
10. Use 1 tablespoon per load (really that it!). For tough stains soak overnight in warm water with washing soda.
This recipe makes 2 jars which is up to 100 loads each. So make one for yourself and give one to a friend and share the recipe!
CBD oil has been getting a lot of attention lately and you may be wondering what it is and how it works. Firstly CBD is not marijuana and does not have any psychoactive effects. It stands for cannabidiol which is one of over 85 cannabinoids found in cannabis plants, which include hemp and marijuana plants. Hemp has a higher concentration of CBD thus most CBD products are derived from the hemp plant. CBD is extracted from the plant and added to carriers and called CBD oil.
What is a cannabinoid?
Cannabinoids are the primary compounds that make up the cannabis plants. Cannabinoids can also be found in other plants and the human body. The main ones you have probably heard of are THC and CBD. THC is higher in marijuana which gives it psychoactive properties, whereas hemp plants contain less than .3% of THC.
How does CBD work in your body?
The human body has an endocannabinoid system (ECS) that receives and translates messages from cannabinoids in the body. Some of these cannabinoids are made in the body and called endocannabinoids. Others are consumed as phytocannabinoids in plants such as flax, chocolate and carrots. The ECS helps to regulate processes such as pain, sleep and immune response. This system has two receptors, CB1 and CB2 and they are found in every organ including the skin. THC attaches to CB1 receptors which control, appetite, cognition, mood, coordination and movement. CBD effects CB2 receptors which regulate pain and inflammation throughout the immune system. It was thought that CBD was able to bind to the receptors in the ECS, but new research is showing that it actually triggers the body to make its own endocannabinoids which then bind to the receptors helping to regulate pain and other responses.
What are the benefits of CBD oil?
1.Relieves pain and inflammation
Research suggests that CBD can work to reduce pain by inhibiting neuronal transmission in pain pathways. It has proven especially effective in treating pain from multiple sclerosis and inflammation and pain from arthritis.
2. Reduces anxiety
Studies have shown that CBD can help reduce anxiety in patients with social anxiety, OCD, panic disorders and PTSD by creating a calming effect.
3. Helps fight cancer
Research shows CBD might work as an anti-cancer agent by reducing inflammation and blocking cancer cells from spreading throughout the body.
4. Relieves nausea
5. May treat seizures and other neurological disorders
6. Antipsychotic effects
7. Skin health
CBD can help to treat skin infections such as eczema and psoriasis which can benefit from the anti-inflammatory effects. It is also helpful in treating burns. It can also improve the overall health of your skin, reducing acne and improving elasticity.
CBD can be taken orally in a concentrate that can be mixed in a drink, or in capsules. It can also be used topically mixed in a carrier oil. Topical use is most effective for relieving pain. Research has shown that subjects do not build a tolerance to CBD therefore it is not necessary to continually raise dosage.
CBD Oil and Massage
Using CBD oil in a massage is a great way to increase the pain and stress relieving benefits of massage therapy. Since the endocannabinoid receptors are found on the skin, by receiving a full body massage with CBD the receptors all over your body are being affected. If you are experiencing chronic pain or even just some muscle tension, CBD oil can help to relieve it.
CBD oil can increase the absorption of anything it is mixed with so it is best to use a 100% organic carrier oil. CBD is fat soluble, so it is stored in fat cells rather than water. I use organic coconut oil as a carrier because its 80% saturated fat content makes it the perfect carrier for CBD. The fatty acids in the coconut oil make it a strong binding agent and when mixed with CBD, help it to be absorbed in the bloodstream and carried to the entire body.
If you are curious about CBD but aren’t ready to commit to purchasing it, trying it in a massage is a great place to start. You can add CBD to any massage for $10.
To summarize, CBD is an effective treatment for a wide variety of ailments and can help to improve overall health. It does not get you high and will not show up on a regular drug test. CBD massage can benefit everyone especially those with chronic pain and inflammation. There are no significant side effects to CBD, the most commonly reported side effect is tiredness and in some diarrhea, and changes in weight and appetite. CBD has not yet been approved by the FDA for any treatment as research is still fairly new and ongoing.
June is Migraine and Headache Awareness Month. According to the Migraine Research Foundation, nearly 36 million Americans suffer from migraine headaches. There are many causes of headaches and migraines, and stress and tension can either cause or play a major role in their onset and severity. There have been several research studies to determine the effectiveness of massage therapy for headaches and migraines with findings indicating massage as an effective tool in their treatment.
Massage primarily works to relieve these symptoms by releasing tension in the neck and shoulder region and the suboccipitals (the muscles at the base of the skull). Muscle spasms can also be reduced through the release of this tension. Hormone chemical changes can also be a trigger for migraines. Cortisol which is commonly known as the stress hormone, can be controlled and reduced by massage, which also increases endorphin production through the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system. Massage increases overall blood flow and circulation which improves oxygen levels, helping to reduce pain.
Here are some tips to stop headaches before they start
If certain foods or scents have triggered headaches in the past, it could be time to make a note of them and avoid them at all costs. Things like caffeine, cigarette smoke, and bright lights can be a big culprit in spurring on pain, but it doesn’t have to be that obvious. Perfumes, loud noises, flowers, and even lunch meat have the power to make you miserable.
Exercising on a regular basis reduces tension and can help prevent headaches. Choose something you enjoy doing - walking, biking, kayaking, hiking, etc. - and follow the proper guidelines for the exercise you’re engaging in. That means stretching and warming up slowly. And don’t forget proper hydration.
Eat and sleep regularly
Lack of sleep and skipping meals can aggravate symptoms for the migraine sufferer. Make sure you are getting enough fluids and are eating meals at regular times. Lack of sleep (or even getting too much sleep) will also aggravate symptoms, so implement routine and stick to it.
Stress. Stress. Stress. It happens. Sometimes it’s hard to avoid. The only thing we can change is our response to it. Learn techniques to reduce stress levels like breathing, yoga and meditation. You can also combat stress with a massage, a long walk, a hot shower, or whatever you need to do to take the edge off.
Acknowledging the triggers and patterns surrounding your migraine episodes will help you figure out what’s causing them and minimize your chances of experiencing headache pain.