Lighting a few candles and hopping in a nice warm bath at the end of a long day can be a great way to de-stress and say goodbye to the day’s troubles. Give yourself at least 45 minutes of quiet time to soak in these natural remedies, and you’ll sleep more deeply and relaxed, waking up with more energy for the next day.
Pain Relief Bath: Salt and Baking Soda
For general aches and pains, muscle tension, and even body aches from allergies or the flu, use 1 to 2 cups of Epsom salts or sea salts, and 1 cup of baking soda. Add the salt and soda to your bath and soak for at least 20 minutes. This is a highly alkaline mixture, so don’t use it more than a few times a month. (This is also an effective bath for menstrual cramps; just be careful to keep the bathwater a little cooler than usual as heat can increase menstrual flow.) Do not use this bath for acute pain, such as recent sprains, or if there is swelling present.
Stress Relief, Relaxation Bath: Epsom, Sea Salt, and Sesame Oil
This bath can alleviate dry skin and help you de-stress from a crazy day. Add 1 cup of Epsom salts, 1 cup of sea salt, and 1 cup of sesame oil to a warm to hot tub of water and soak for at least 20 minutes. You can add a few drops of your favorite essential oil aromatherapy, such as Lavender. Lavender is THE aroma for de-stressing, relaxing tight muscles, calming adults and children alike, and lowering cortisol levels–a good one to use before bedtime. Pat yourself dry, and be sure to clean the tub afterwards so you don’t slip on the oil the next time you get in.
Healing Bath: Vinegar
Try a vinegar bath when your body is too acidic. How do you know you are too acidic?
- You might have to take deep breaths often to feel as though you are getting enough oxygen.
- Your bowels or urine may burn upon elimination.
- Your skin can feel clammy, or even look yellowish.
- You might crave sugar often.
- Your stomach may feel sour or burn.
- You may just feel lousy and flu-like, with joint pain and muscle aches.
This bath is a quick way to restore the acid-alkaline balance to your body. Add 1 to 2 cups of 100% apple cider vinegar to a bathtub of warm water. Soak for 40 to 45 minutes. Vinegar baths are excellent for excess uric acid in the body. They’re especially helpful for the joints and for conditions such as arthritis, bursitis, tendonitis, and gout.
Menstrual Cramps, Muscle Cramps Bath: Hydogen Peroxide
Add three pints of 3% hydrogen peroxide to a full tub and soak for up to 30 minutes. This bath is a great muscle relaxant. Use it to relieve menstrual cramps or after exercise.
Detox Bath: Epsom Salts and Ginger
Epsom salts and ginger baths open pores and eliminate toxins. Try this bath if your feet are swollen after being on them all day. It’s a great remedy if you have been partying a little too much during the holidays, removing the toxic effects of alcohol and too much sugar. It can also help to eliminate pain. One cup of Epsom salts and 2 tablespoons of fresh peeled ginger stirred in a cup of water first, then added to the bath, is beneficial. Do not remain in the tub for more than 30 minutes. The ginger can be astringent, so be sure to drink a lot of water afterwards. Use only fresh, grated ginger, do not use dried as it may burn your skin.
Cholesterol and its effects on the body have been the subject of many news articles for many years now, so we should all be pretty well-versed on the topic, right? Test your Cholesterol IQ with this quiz. You might be surprised by the answers!
TRUE or FALSE?
1. Eating dietary cholesterol (such as in eggs and shellfish) raises your cholesterol levels and therefore your chances of heart disease.
2. Cholesterol is bad for you and is found only in foods.
3. The best way to protect against heart disease is to follow a low fat, low calorie diet.
4. Cholesterol can be only affected by diet and drugs.
5. High cholesterol can be hereditary and may not even be a valid indicator of heart health.
Although you may have heard many of the statements above, they’re all FALSE, except number five, which is TRUE. In the 1960’s, when cholesterol research was instigated, it was initially theorized that blood cholesterol values were a valid indicator of fats in the arteries, leading to clogged arteries and heart disease.
Over the last 40 years, new research has shown that cholesterol isn’t as valid an indicator as originally perceived. Unfortunately, an entire revenue source has been created from cholesterol lowering drugs, perhaps explaining why this more recent research has been slow to emerge from the medical community (although it is available over the internet). Let’s take a look:
1. Eating dietary cholesterol (such as eggs and shellfish) raises your cholesterol and chances of getting heart disease. FALSE!
No way. Eggs and shrimp are finally off the hook! There is no evidence that eating foods with cholesterol in them adversely affects your body’s cholesterol levels. In fact, eggs contain a substance called lecithin, which decreases the effects of cholesterol on the body. And eggs are a good source of protein. Shrimp are a delightful treat, full of omega-3 fatty acids. So eat up!
2. Cholesterol is bad for you and is found only in foods. FALSE!
Cholesterol is NOT bad for you. In fact, it is essential for life. Among other things, it’s necessary for brain-cell function, it’s the naturally occurring building block of all hormones, including progesterone, estrogen, testosterone and cortisol, and it provides the body with an effective way to store carbohydrate (sugar and starch) calories. Your body makes cholesterol constantly, and eating cholesterol has little if any effect on that process. About 80 percent of the body’s cholesterol is synthesized from carbohydrates. Getting the picture here? Cholesterol is synthesized mostly from carbs, NOT fats . . .
The body creates two types of cholesterol–HDL and LDL. HDL, known as “good” cholesterol, protects against heart disease. LDL is known as “bad” cholesterol, but it isn’t really bad in and of itself. It just oxidizes more easily. It is the oxidization of LDL that can lead to artery-blocking plaque, which can raise your risk of heart disease. Antioxidants–particularly Vitamin E–protect against heart disease by preventing this oxidization.
3. The best way to protect against heart disease is to follow a very low fat, low calorie diet. FALSE!
Low calorie and low fat diets are typically high in refined carbohydrates, the opposite of what you need for good health. People who eat vegetables, fiber, and moderate amounts of nuts, hormone-free meats, seafood, and healthy fats have far fewer incidents of heart disease deaths than those who eat extremely low fat, high carbohydrate diets. Simple, refined carbs, such as sugar, pasta, crackers, corn, chips, white rice, potatoes and breads, stimulate insulin production. Insulin reduces HDL (“good”) cholesterol and leaves more LDL (“bad”) cholesterol circulating in the body, where it can become oxidized and cause artery-blocking plaque.
So What Should You Eat for a Healthy Heart?
- Unprocessed vegetables, meaning not canned, boxed, or otherwise cooked to death. If you can’t eat fresh veggies, then choose frozen. Lightly steam or stir fry vegetables, or eat them raw. Never boil or overcook. They will lose all nutrition this way.
- Fresh fruit (Avoid fruit with high glycemic index, such as dried fruit, fruit juice, bananas, mangos (darn it!), and sweetened applesauce.)
- Eggs, moderate amounts of meats, such as chicken or turkey, that have been raised without hormone treatments for growth stimulation.
- Seafood, especially Wild Salmon. Farm raised Atlantic Salmon that is commonly found at the local grocery store has very little, if any, beneficial fatty acids. Wild Salmon, especially those from the Pacific (Alaska) are highly preferred for nutrition and taste. Grilled, baked or poached, wild salmon is a life-saving food.
- Nuts, Seeds, Legumes
- Garlic, Onions
- Monosaturated Fats such as olive oil and grapeseed oil (Grapeseed oil is excellent for sauté and stir-fry. It has a higher flash point for quicker cooking than olive oil, is tasteless, and contains the same healthful fats.)
Foods to Avoid
- Refined Carbohydrates (“any white food”)–white rice, white flour, sugar, corn, corn syrup, baked potatoes, pasta
- Too much protein and saturated fats from processed red meat
- Processed or canned food
- Trans-fatty acids (margarine, hydrogenated oils), especially those heated, as in fried foods
- Soft drinks, coffee, hard liquor
- Milk and ice cream
4. Cholesterol can only be affected by diet and drugs. FALSE!
Perhaps you have discovered through routine blood work and physical exams that your cholesterol values have increased, even though your diet hasn’t changed. Or maybe you’ve “improved” your diet and had no change in your cholesterol levels. A sluggish thyroid will virtually guarantee an increase in your blood cholesterol values and more importantly, your LDL/HDL ratio. People who take cholesterol-lowering drugs must have periodic blood tests. Why? To find out if their liver is becoming toxic from the very medicine supposedly prescribed to improve their health!
5. High cholesterol can be hereditary and may not even be a valid indicator of health. This is TRUE!
You can inherit naturally occurring cholesterol values that are higher than the 200 maximum value recommended by medical groups. In fact, studies have shown that there is no correlation between cholesterol values and longevity, and there is even little valid evidence that high cholesterol levels lead to heart disease.
And now, here’s an extra credit question . . .
Which of the following people do you think is more likely to develop heart disease?
A. Someone eating tofu-broccoli salad because he’s feeling guilty and he knows it’s good for him.
B. A parent sharing his favorite ice cream with his much adored children.
Are you surprised to learn the answer is B?
Researchers at the Ohio State University inadvertently discovered that happy eaters are healthy eaters. Rabbits were genetically bred to develop hardening of the arteries and coronary artery disease. Then they were all fed a high-fat diet to speed up the process.
At the end of the study, a select group of rabbits were discovered to have clean, healthy arteries, while the rest developed artery disease as expected. The difference between the two groups? It turned out that the young students who’d been feeding the group of rabbits with clean arteries had petted and played with the rabbits before giving them their food. (This study has since been replicated, suggesting a link between happiness and good digestion!)
Of course, eating ice cream for every meal isn’t a great idea. But remember–for a healthy heart, be mindful when you eat and enjoy your food!
Sources: “Commonsense Guide to a Healthy Heart” by John. R. Lee, M.D.
“Healthy Hormones, Healthy Life” by Dr. Eric Berg
Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, by Christiane Northrup, M.D.