We’ve already had a lot of cold weather as we head into Winter. And the wind has been pretty penetrating. I’ve taken to calling it’s effects “deranged vata”….sort of an acupuncture/ayurveda shorthand for having your groundedness blown away by the winds.
We are mammals. Mammals slow down and sleep a lot more during the short, cold days of Winter. This means us!
The holidays are often an emotional time, and they can run our reserves down in many ways. In this post I share ways you can slow down, take care of yourself, and savor just being. This is followed by a section on how to be more comfortable during a cold or flu, and how to speed recovery.
Here are some suggestions to help keep your immune system healthy this holiday season.
Go for a walk. 20 minutes will do. Exercise releases feel-good endorphins and promotes healthy blood & lymphatic circulation helping the immune system function well. You’ll be generating much needed Vitamin D, so make sure your eyes are not covered with sunglasses for at least 10 minutes, even if it’s cloudy.
When you have time, make sure to get out somewhere more wild from time to time. Leaving civilization behind and letting the sights, smells, and sounds of the forest wash over you, will refresh your body, mind and spirit in unexpected ways.
Find time for mindful moments. It is important to carve out a few minutes each day just for you. Research shows that people who practice mindfulness are less stressed, more focused, and better able to regulate their emotions. Try the “Insight Timer” app on your phone. Not only does it have varying lengths and focuses of meditations, but also ambient & binaural music/sounds to enhance various states of being.
“You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day — unless you’re too busy.
Then you should sit for an hour.”
Wash your hands often. I’m sure you have heard this advice hundreds of times, especially in public spaces, or if someone in your household isn’t well. Wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
Drink lots of water. No matter the time of year staying hydrated is a healthy habit, and supports the body during times of occasional stress. Drinking fluids flushes out toxins and helps with temperature regulation.
I recently noticed I wasn’t drinking as much water as I normally do since the temperatures have dropped. Consequently I’ve developed a new habit of heating up water in a kettle, pouring a cup and adding ginger juice to it, throughout the day. This simple habit has helped me not only stay hydrated, but digest well and stay warm too. Ginger is a digestive aid, relieves nausea, is warming. and it lowers blood pressure too! I love plants! And this is how they love us!
Make sleep a priority. Lack of sleep can affect your immune system as studies show that people who don’t get quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to get sick.
Try these tricks for getting to bed early, and falling asleep more easily:
When my office was separate from my home I’d carry around NAC, olive leaf extract & oregano oil capsules in my bag during the late fall through winter. At the first sign of any inkling of a cold I’ll take NAC (N-acetyl cystisine), a potent anti-oxidant that also thins mucus. This is important to me as I have been prone to sinus infections. Cutting dairy out has helped immensely too. Particularly in the winter.
If the cold isn’t nipped in the bud by NAC, I’ll take an olive leaf capsule. And if I’m already ill, oregano oil capsules improve my symptoms within 20 minutes and will begin overpowering whatever it is that has me down.
A great way to stay nourished if you have a fever and no appetite is to sip Bone Broth, as you can. If you have a cold without fever, Bone Broth soup or vegetarian equivalent will give you a lot of the nutrients you need to speed healing.
Teas that are useful when you’re sick are Throat Comfort, Breathe Deep, & Cold Season by Yogi Teas, and Breathe Easy, Throat Coat, & Gypsy Cold Care by Traditional Medicinals. These can be found at the locally owned stores, My Organic Market. Horehound tea and cough drops are helpful for managing coughing and bronchitis.
That humidifier I spoke about above will come in handy if you get sick: Use the aromatherapy pad and add any combination of the following essential oils to help you breathe more easily: eucalyptus, rosemary; and use lavender to help you sleep.
Heat packs for aches and sore throats are so helpful. Here is a yummy neck and shoulder wrap that I have my eye on. I use a microwave to warm my heat packs up. It’s the only reason I use a microwave, as microwaving food destroys nutrients.
A hot bath is helpful if you have enough energy to prepare one, or someone can prepare it for you. Use a cup of epsom salts and a cup or two of apple cider vinegar with lavender and rosemary essential oils in the bath. Don’t use eucalyptus in a bath as it is too strong for your tender nether region.
Be sure to contact me if you are interested in exploring ways to work with me. To your health! ~Warmly, Angela
Here are a few things to keep you healthy as we head into cooler and colder days:
At last! Winter has softened into Spring! Persephone, the Goddess who spends half the year in darkness with Hades, God of the underworld, has returned to us. Spring Beauties, Violets, Bluets and and Toothwort are blossoming on the forest floor, Welcome dear friends, our plant allies! You have been missed! What I have learned this Winter, and what I will share in this newsletter, affects the reproductive system, energy levels, weight concerns, menopause, aging, and more.
The winter months have been a time of deep realizations and processing, rather than outward expression. I became aware of being hypothyroid, and the knowledge of this has helped me tailor the ways I care for myself. I’d been witnessing thyroid challenges my sister has been facing these past months, and through our conversations became aware that I have been managing symptoms of being hypothyroid for quite some time, using herbs, diet and supplements.
Because diabetes runs in both sides of my lineage, I thought I was staving off that disease. I have been successful in that. However I had been frustrated with lingering symptoms such as weight gain, dry skin, fluctuating energy levels and brittle hair. In my research I have found that hypothyroidism is epidemic, particularly among women. Symptoms include fertility issues, menstrual challenges, overweight or weight gain, menopause challenges, fatigue, brittle hair, dry skin and moodiness, exhaustion, brain fog, and so many more.
Many of the symptoms I have mentioned above often show up in my clients, as they are mostly women coming to me for therapeutic massage, herbal consultations, Maya Abdominal Therapy, Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy and/or Pre and Perinatal Trauma Resolution. While hypothyroidism is a challenge for me, I am happy to now, through this experience, to have a much deeper understanding of the issues facing my clients, and many more tools to support them, not only in achieving relief from these challenging symptoms, but in gaining optimal health at any age!
You may see yourself, or someone you love, in the abbreviated symptom picture I have described. My intention in this newsletter, is to empower you to regain vibrant health by helping you discover likely, greatly variable causes for the disease; share information essential to your getting an accurate diagnosis; and offer resources for resolving symptoms.
The causes of hypothyroidism, and other thyroid diseases, such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis are many, and often genetic predisposition is present, but can
also be caused by other factors. Genetic expression may be turned on through prolonged periods of intense stress, pregnancy, menopause, aging, and head and neck injuries. Other contributing factors include over-treatment for Graves disease, or Hashimoto’s; bromide (in seafood and some baked goods) and/or fluoride (an added chemical to our drinking water) toxicity; iodine insufficiency, selenium and/or iron deficiency; B12 utilization; thyroidectomy; pituitary gland failure and more.
For a more complete list and explanation you might be interested in purchasing the book Stop the Thyroid Madness, by Janie Bowthorpe, M.Ed. It is a compilation of the experiences of thousand of thyroid patients. Though I find that writing and editing are not top notch, the information is incredibly useful. And to be fair, I’m sure expediency of delivery was the objective, in order to help as many as possible.
As mentioned above, the symptoms of hypothyroidism are many and varied, including fertility and/or menstrual challenges, overweight or weight gain, menopause challenges, fatigue, brittle hair, dry skin and moodiness, heart palpitations, exhaustion, brain fog, psychiatric diagnoses, and so many more. Symptoms can begin slowly. A person may go from being hyperthyroid when younger to hypothyroid over time, with fluctuations along the way. And for some, hypothyroidism may turn into an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
I have been focusing on supporting my thyroid, based on the research I, and so many others have done, again, through herbs, supplements and diet. And I am very happy with the results so far. My feeling, is that this autoimmune disease, like type II diabetes, may be cured and at the very least managed. Success is possible through developing a supportive community for managing stress that includes family, friends and professionals, through dietary choices, and by using supportive supplements.
UNDERLYING ADRENAL FACTORS
It is essential not to ignore the adrenal glands when determining the causes of symptoms. The adrenal glands are walnut sized glands that sit above and adjacent to the kidneys. Like the thyroid, they are cued by the pituitary, the master gland of the body. The adrenal glands play a powerful role in managing stress, whether physical, emotional or mental. They are the glands that produce aldosterone and cortisol.
Cortisol stimulates blood sugar levels. You can see that if under chronic stress, blood sugar levels remain high, causing chronic inflammation, which in turn causes weight gain and oxidative stress on all systems of the body. The adrenals also produce aldosterone which regulates internal fluid balance and blood pressure, as well as sex hormones testosterone and estrogen, among others. When seeking treatment for thyroid issues, it is essential to test for adrenal function, as adrenal fatigue may be the underlying cause a cascade of symptoms, resulting in thyroid dysfunction.
BLOOD and SALIVA TESTING
The place to begin is to have relevant blood tests and a saliva test done to determine where your body needs support. Thyroid issues do not respond to a one-size-fits-all approach. Relevant blood tests are Iron and TIBC panel (Total Iron Binding Capacity), Thyroid antibody panel, anemia panel (including B12 levels), and a Weight Loss Panel which includes TSH, free T3 + Free T4, hormone levels, cholesterol and more. Adrenal testing is done through a saliva test, resources for this can be found on http://www.stopthethyroidmadness.com/ site. The book, by the same name, provides detailed information on why these tests are needed for proper diagnosis and treatment.
HERBS, SUPPLEMENTS AND DIET
There are many plant allies that support adrenal and thyroid health. In the case of thyroid issues, it is helpful to consult a practitioner to find which herbs are right for your situation. Herbs supportive of adrenal health are schizandra, ashwagandha, licorice and ginseng (panax). Herbs that are supportive of the thyroid include bladderwrack, hops, passionflower and sage.
It is also useful to know that thyroid imbalances have been found to be aggravated by gluten. So, step one might be just to remove gluten (wheat, rye, barley) from your diet. It’s much easier to do than you think. I did, and my I soon had no discomfort in my abdomen, and I dropped about seven pounds!
Supplements that are supportive of thyroid health specifically include iodine and l-tyrosine. Patients have found that raw dessicated porcine thyroid works much better than Synthroid, and even the newly reformulated Armour. I offer this information as a beginning point, and recommend seeking supportive health care providers to assist you on your journey.
It is important to work with a doctor, or other health care provider who understands and supports thyroid and adrenal health. Again, the website http://www.stopthethyroidmadness.com/ is a valuable resource in helping you find a suitable doctor. Another resource is http://www.brodabarnes.org/, though you may need to pay to receive a listing of doctor’s in your area. I am an advocate for health professionals that will support your return to optimal health.
Remember, our genetics are a factor: Experiences that have been passed down to us through our lineage, such as famine, war, surviving holocaust and more, influence genetic expression. There are countless people who would benefit from this knowledge, yet they are unable to use it, as they have no support from family, friends, nor the society around them. I welcome the opportunity to support you in finding your way on your journey, through the challenges discussed here, or another.
It is through educating ourselves, and making empowered choices, that we will change our own lives to reflect our true values. By living these values we shape our communities, influencing the directions of institutions designed to support us. If established institutions will not support our values, our empowerment will be the catalyst in creating structures that do.
May we all flourish in the gentle sunlight and warmth she brings!
Yours in health,
Body and Soul Healing Arts
We are in the season of going within, doing less and being more. Unfortunately, most of us have obligations that do not allow us to rest as Mother Nature intended for us during this dark time of the year. Still, I encourage you, if you feel tired, rest. It is the best remedy for not succumbing to illness.
This article is written to support so many who are on the run, taking care of children and so much more all week. The herbalists out there may find some of this useful too. But mostly this is written to make it easy for those who aren’t.
Some herbal and supplemental remedies I keep on hand and use when I feel the slightest inkling of a cold coming on are; Olive Leaf Extract capsules to alkalize my body, as viruses cannot survive in an alkaline environment,; NAC (N-acetyl-carnitine), an amino acid that thins mucus so passages stay clear more easily; and zinc lozenges.
A couple of weeks ago I felt a raw spot in my throat. I bought a roll of zinc lozenges at the co-op next door to my office and kept popping them, slowly allowing them to melt and coat my throat for a couple of days. That, combined with the olive leaf extract seemed to have nipped it in the bud, thankfully!
When things get more uncomfortable, or as a staple winter brew, make fresh Ginger Tea;
1/2 -1 inch fresh ginger grated
maple syrup to taste
pinch of cayenne pepper
Put the grated ginger into a french press, and reuse the herb, as it will make a very strong tea. This aids circulation, digestion and warm extremities.
If things get really uncomfortable with deep lung congestion, try the remedy for Onion Poultice. It is an old-timey remedy that really works! Here is a link to a homemade recipe I find amusing, and I haven’t tried it yet, but I bet it works; Goot; Cold & Flu Remedy .I also always keep some medicinal teas around in the winter from two companies; Traditional Medicinals and Yogi Tea. Some favorites are; Breathe Easy, Throat Coat, Gypsy Cold Care and Herbatussin. They are very effective, and I sometimes steep one or more of them in a tea pot , depending on my symptoms, and keep near my bed if I am feeling really poorly. They taste good too!
I share these with you to empower you in your own home, to encourage you to draw on your own resourcefulness. Avail yourself and reconnect yourself to the healing powers of nature. She provides healing, peace and joy in so many ways!
As I write this I keep thinking of more and more things I could add. But those will have to wait for another day. That’s all for now.
To your health!
Please remember, I am not a doctor, and this should not be construed as medical advice. I am offering education about what other people have found helpful in the past. Please see you physician for diagnosis and treatment.