Should the FDA Regulate Homeopathic Remedies?

enf7dhhros8omep2pckx_dufer-food-overhead-hig-resFor the first time in a quarter century, the FDA has announced that it is holding a hearing to seek the input on a number of specific questions regarding the use of homeopathic remedies. Although FDA regulates homeopathy, it does not evaluate homeopathic remedies for safety and effectiveness.

Why is this happening?

In the 1970s, lawmakers established a review system for all over the counter products, but left homeopathy out of that system.  Since 2009, the FDA has issued nearly 40 warning letters to companies that make homeopathic remedies, as well as issuing warning to consumers about certain products, because they caused harm to patients using them.

History of Homeopathy

The practice of homeopathy is about 200 years old and is based on the Law of Similars, which means “like cures like.”  The principle is if a substance causes a symptom, then by giving the person a very small amount of the same substance may prevent the illness. My own interpretation is that homeopathy works like vaccinations do – you give a small dose of something and the immune system builds natural resistance.

The story goes that Samuel Hahnemann was translating a book by another physician named William Cullen. Hahnemann disputed one of Cullen’s findings:

“Hahnemann’s first comments about the general applicability of the law of similars were in 1789 when he translated a book by William Cullen, one of the leading physicians of the era. At one point in the book Cullen ascribed the usefulness of Peruvian bark (Cinchona) in treating malaria due to its bitter and astringent properties. Hahnemann wrote a bold footnote in his translation, disputing Cullen’s explanation. Hahnemann asserted that the efficacy of Peruvian bark must be for other factor, since he noted that there were other substances and mixtures of substances decidedly more bitter and more astringent than Peruvian bark that were not effective in treating malaria. He then described his own taking repeated doses of this herb until his body responded to its toxic dose with fever, chills, and other symptoms similar to malaria. Hahnemann concluded that the reason this herb was beneficial was because it caused symptoms similar to those of the disease it was treating.”

To read a condensed history of homeopathy, click here.

Why FDA is considering regulating homeopathy

The problem is that there is no centralized peer review process to oversee the industry of homeopathy. In conventional medicine, there is the Health Care Quality Improvement Act of 1986, which sets standards for professional review actions. The peer review aims to lesson the likelihood of harm, and improve the quality of care and patient safety by learning from past performance, error, and near misses. Peer review is a risk management tool for the healthcare industry.

The Washington Post article stated “Last month, Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council concluded that “there are no health conditions for which there is reliable evidence that homeopathy is effective.” The organization found that there were “no good-quality, well-designed studies with enough participants” to determine whether such treatments were more effective than a placebo.”

A Peer Review System Is Healthy For All

The problem facing homeopathy is lack of centralized data and large(r) studies that would allow not-only homeopaths to interpret the effect of their medicines, but more importantly to provide peer reviewed data source for conventional doctors who have an interest in partnering with homeopaths.

Diabetes will never be cured by homeopathy, but I can tell you that every time I have a cold, I reach for homeopathic remedies because from my personal experience shows that homeopathy has fewer side effects than over the counter medicines. With the crack down on conventional medicine doctors handing out prescriptions for a cold, a peer review system for homeopathy would offer all doctors, nurse practitioners a place to investigate the possibilities of using natural medicine.

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THE DIVINE ESSENTIALS: Exploring the Beauty & Power of Essential Oils

 

“The Body Never Lies and Other Truths Illness Taught Me”

In my early thirties, I contracted mononucleosis. The relentless exhaustion, glandular pain, spleen tenderness and swelling came on swiftly and brought me to my knees. The diagnosis surprised me. At the time, I was at the height of my career as a professor and scholar and I had always enjoyed good health. I did not have the time or the patience to be ill. Focus, high energy and determination were the key elements of my success. For the first time, I felt that something inside of me had control over me and I had no understanding of what to do or how to make it different.

“How could this happen,” I wondered?

“What would this illness come to mean within the greater context of my life?”

In retrospect, I can see now that as a driven young professional, I repeatedly silenced the voice within that was whispering: “Slow down…rest.” I kept up a furious pace until the whisper became a shout and I had no choice but to come to a complete stop.

The body never lies.

The inner voice of wisdom always speaks the Truth.

Fail to listen, and the message will hit you like a ton of bricks.

Mononucleosis hit me very, very hard and over the course of nine long months, I relapsed several times. My symptoms were relentless and overwhelming. I recall spending an entire summer in bed, rising only to care for my dog. My size eight frame rapidly became a size two. I came to feel hopeless. I worried that I would never feel well again.

My doctor tried his best to help, but each time I began feeling better, I would jump back into my life fully and optimistically, only to be back in bed days later. “Rest,” he would tell me. “Dear God, just rest.”

After many months of fighting against this illness and being angry with my body for what felt like full out betrayal, I came into a state of surrender. For as long as I live, I will never forget the moment I made the decision to let go.

Depressed, exasperated, and hopeless, I sat one evening under the light of a very full moon that hung low in the vast, expansive, Texas sky. Tearfully, I looked to the moon and I uttered these words:

“Take this from me. Take this from me. Show me my next step. I surrender fully to the lessons that this condition is meant to teach me. Please, please…what do I need to know?”

The best teachers are perpetual students. That night, under the light of the moon, I understood that my illness had arrived into my life as a great teacher and that I needed to be its student. That evening, I gave up fighting against the mononucleosis and decided to stand side by side with it—to walk with it for as long as it took for me to learn what it had to teach me. I would no longer “resist” or “fight against” the mononucleosis, instead, I came into a state of welcoming it.

What we resist, persists.

I knew that creating a different sort of relationship this illness would be the first step in my recovery.

It was the light of that full, Texan moon that illuminated what I most needed to do in order to recover. And the first step was to make peace with the virus living inside of me and to say to it daily: “teach me.”

When we surrender fully to something happening within or around us rather than resisting what is happening within and around us, we create space for the Universe to join with us the deepest sort of healing. Of this, I am certain.

Within days, two things occurred that radically changed the trajectory of my life path. First, I found myself on an acupuncture table—fully surrendered to the needles that would bring vitality back to my deeply diminished physical, mental, even spiritual state. Second—and most important, I began one of the most meaningful love affairs of my lifetime. I discovered and fell deeply in love with one of nature’s finest medicines: essential oils. To date, they are my most treasured and near constant companions.

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I fell fast and hard for essential oils. I knew, immediately that their impact reached far beyond improvements in my physical state but affected me deeply at mental, emotional and spiritual levels.

 

 

 

Three oils were offered to me during that dark time and combined with acupuncture, I began my journey toward wellness and ultimately to what would become my life’s work as an integrative wellness educator. The impact of the essential oils was immediate and tangible. Their effects were so deep and far reaching, that my experience of them during this time in my life catapulted me into a trust in and a devotion to them that has never left me. Today, as I write, I can reach into my purse for Peppermint. Next to my bedside table, I can reach for Clary Sage if I am struggling to sleep. My “medicine kit” is comprised of essential oils and various blends. My essential oil “pharmacy” is a virtual altar in my home. There is not a day that I do not utilize essential oils in almost everything I do. They support me in my writing, teaching, and healing work. They assist me as I manage the physical and emotional needs of my children. They play a central role in how I clean and purify my home. They take me deeper into my own evolvement. I use them during meditation, yoga, and they support me fully in opening up my intuition.

Mononucleusis taught me many things and those lessons remain deeply etched into my being. I learned first hand that:

*The body never lies. Conditions in the body—symptoms—diagnosed illness are often important messengers that have something significant to teach us about where we are in life and where we are headed.

*Illness and pain, whether acute, chronic, or fleeting are usually attempts that beg us to slow down and to attend to ourselves in ways that are necessary to our growth. Illness and pain are calls to exceptional self-care.

*When we are not feeling vibrant, vital and fully alive—when we come to be challenged by an illness, pain or a condition, one of the wisest questions we can ask ourselves of the illness is: “What have you come to teach me?” Your first answer is usually a clear sign of those aspects of your experience that need attention, change, repair or transformation.

*Nothing–NOTHING is worth losing your health over.

This blog is my way of opening the pathway toward a deeper understanding of wellness at all levels and the role that essential oils might come to play in your own lives and experiences. It is an honor for me to share what I know about this most precious form of “nature’s medicine.”

Are you now curious as to what 3 oils launched me into my healing and my work as an aromatherapist? If so, please watch for the next blog within which I will reveal the three oils I hinted to earlier. I look forward to continuing my story and deepening your knowledge about “the divine essentials.”

 

IMG_6286 copyAbout the writer: Christine E. Kiesinger, Ph.D. holds a doctorate in Communication Studies with expertise in the areas of relational and family communication. After many years as an academician, Christine left university life to pursue her work as an integrative wellness educator, writer and coach. Christine is a certified yoga instructor, mindfulness meditation teacher, a Usui and Karuna Reiki Master Teacher and is presently working on her certification in aromatherapy. Christine’s life work is an exquisite blend of her passion for communication with an array of healing modalities that make her classes deeply engaging and transformative.

Christine will be teaching “The Divine Essentials 101: Exploring the Beauty and Power of Essential Oils,” workshop at The Body In Balance Center. Stay tuned for more information.

Note: Christine’s work does not promote any one essential oil company or program.

Christine can be contacted at: drkiesinger@aol.com

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Massage and Essential Oils

In the last couple of years, essential oils are making a comeback in many massage therapy practices. As a massage therapist, essential oils – also known as aromatherapy- have been used to bolster the relaxation effect, but some practitioners take it to higher level of healthcare. They see essential oils as medicine.

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When my house is filled with flu – like it was last winter – my initial response to the common cold is plenty of rest, bone broth soups, herbal teas and I turn on my infuser with my favorite essential oil. There is something so nurturing – and healing- about the air smelling of my favorite blend and sipping on a hot mug of tea, snuggled in my favorite sweater.

I recently wrote about healing vs. curing, and essential oils are something that help people to heal. I have taken a few essential oils classes and learned how to distill my own oil, but I do it, purely, for relaxation and the feeling of being rooted in something that benefits my family’s health.

There are many claims for essential oils being medicinal, but not all of them are legitimate. So the only place that I look to – for peer reviewed research – is National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health and also pub med/Medline.

Almost everyone associates essential oil use with relaxation and a spa experience.  After several days of looking at studies on essential oils, I have chosen to two essential oils for their medicinal effects, because I found the research such a surprise. Many sites make claims for medicinal benefits, but the research is not large enough for the NIH to support some of those claims. And while research is small and scant, I think it is important that we look at our health as a whole.  Where healing comes from will be different person to person.

2 Essential Oils For Specific Health Conditions:

Tea Tree oil . According to one study, Tee Tree oil, used as an adjunctive treatment, was able to kill certain bacteria, namely MRSA – a type of skin infection that is very antibiotic resistant. Have young children? Consider the combination of tea tree oil and lavender for treatment of lice and dust mites.  For a natural treatment, add 10-15 drops of tea tree to shampoo to naturally kill lice.  Among the research that I read on tea tree oil, one article stated:

“A paradigm shift in the treatment of infectious diseases is necessary to prevent antibiotics becoming obsolete, and where appropriate, alternatives to antibiotics ought to be considered. There are already several nonantibiotic approaches to the treatment and prevention of infection, including probiotics, phages, and phytomedicines. Alternative therapies are viewed favorably by many patients because they are often not being helped by conventional therapy and they believe there are fewer detrimental side effects. In addition, many report significant improvement while taking complementary and alternative medicines. Unfortunately, the medical profession has been slow to embrace these therapies, and good scientific data are still scarce. However, as we approach the “postantibiotic era” the situation is changing. A wealth of in vitro data now supports the long-held beliefs that TTO has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. Despite some progress, there is still a lack of clinical evidence demonstrating efficacy against bacterial, fungal, or viral infections. Large randomized clinical trials are now required to cement a place for TTO as a topical medicinal agent.”

Lavender – A surprising, small study in Unbound Medline looked at Lavender oil for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease, inclusive Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. The goal of the study was to look at the therapeutic effects of lavender oil on mice suffering with acute colitis caused by a bacterium called citrobacter rodentium. The study concluded that the lavender oil promoted the probiotic microbiota and increased bacteria and the intestine’s cellular activity to fight infection.  Lavender has been regarded as an essential oil that encourages the relaxation response, but scientific research that tested the theory was inconclusive. However, I believe that it’s a balancing act. Sometimes that added smell of something sweet or floral coupled with a massage teaches the body how to relax  and through the senses adds memory for the body to know lavender is about relaxing.

Essential oils have their rightful place as not only something that reminds us to breathe in and slow down, but also as helping healers.  We can use essential oils to complement good medicine and speed healing.

As we gear up for our workshop on making your own essentials, we will be writing on essential oils in more depth with Christine Keisinger, certified aromatherapist. Stay tuned!

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That Pesky Carbon Footprint and Climate Change

The debate.  Is it real?

http://www.usatoday.com/story/weather/2014/05/20/national-landmarks-climate-change/9281341/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/kensilverstein/2014/05/18/rift-widening-between-energy-and-insurance-industries-over-climate-change/

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140520120135.htm

http://www.economist.com/blogs/newsbook/2014/03/climate-change-0

I’m starting this blog with links to several articles on climate change that were recently in the news.  The problem with these articles is that there are no solutions, other than big business has to change its pattern and this angle is never popular with businesses, or government. It also doesn’t serve to stimulate individuals to asses their own energy efficiency.

Climate Change has long been a debate among congress, scientists, as well as neighbors, friends and family. But, I believe a shift in hardened attitudes that climate change doesn’t exist is beginning to soften. My own family is an example of the diverse opinions about climate change. Over the years, we’ve all switched our angle of the debate and now 3 of us are firmly grounded in the fact that it makes sense to believe it, and one family member believes that whether it exists or not, you can’t stop progress, therefore you can’t do anything about it.

I grew up in a family where the mantra was “the only constant is change,” and that is a tough concept to swallow when you want things to go your way! Family debate was never boring, because you always had to prove your theory and every person at the table was an island. But having this kind of debate process taught us that if I wanted something to go my way, I needed to figure out how to get what I wanted without it impeding on everyone’s comfort zone.

One of my brother’s has a solar-powered office complex and his personal home, but he and I share the same reasons for making these energy saving moves. It has to do with modernizing and putting more money back into your pocket. The bonus is that it has a greater reach then just his personal return on investment, by reducing his impact on his neighborhood and it works to reduce what scientists are worried about.

Years ago, the idea of putting money back in your pocket was through insulation, thermal windows, gutters and down spouts, which put more money back on the table for homeowners to invest elsewhere. But today if we want more RIO, then we have to reach beyond the old standard of windows, doors and siding.

In my effort to embrace looking for cost effective carbon-reducing investment, while not throw my opinion at everyone else, I have made my choices based on the old family debate system:

  • My house should not pollute my neighbor’s property.
  • My car should not make it hard for someone to stand on a street corner and take a deep breath.
  • My use of electricity shouldn’t be to over-consume the resource, as everyone else needs it too.

We’ve always done the basics, like if the county gives you a recycle bin, use the heck out of it! We recycle everything and even take stuff to recycling centers, a couple times a year. Over the last 10-15 years, my husband and I have slowly converted some of our basic equipment into energy saving investments: we own a hybrid cars, we have a rechargeable lawnmower and we use a pellet stove to supplement our heating system in the winter.

What a lot of people claim is that the initial cost is too high.  But the truth is my Ford Escape hybrid cost less then my previous car and the maintenance has been a fraction of most of my other cars, not to mention buying gas less frequently.  That’s been a huge savings for me, and my purchase helped to improve my neighborhood’s air quality.

Our pellet stove cost less then half the price of a gas-log fireplace and burns 98% creosote free. The pellet stove has reduced our heating bill from $290/ mo to $70/ month. And the little known bonus is the ash left in the burn pot is recycled onto our lawn to help balance the PH of the soil.

Our landscape has been converted to indigenous plantings and has saved us time spent on gardening, as well as water consumption. Our current garden project is developing a couple raised beds for vegetables, altho I have to figure out what to do about our resident wild bunny. Do I share my harvest, or chase him away? The natural habitat comes into consideration for all that we do.

If you’re interested in reducing your carbon footprint, take it slowly, keep it fun and don’t go overboard. For my family, looking at what reduces our energy output has proved financially smart and cost effective. We did it to not only modernize our home, but our way of thinking about our ROI.  And the bonus is positively impacting our friends and neighbors, without saying a word.

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Winter Travel to an Ice Hotel!

Note: Most of our content on BIBC is related to health, but since travel can be such a big part of mental health we thought we would share some of our travels.

While most people think of a warm tropical destination for a winter escape, I have long loved winter destinations because they are a escape to something unique, magical, and snowy.
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The Hotel De Glace is an interesting mix of art and ice-living innovation and proved to be both unique and magical, and Quebec’s Old City drew me in for it’s Alpine appeal. We coordinated our trip to the Ice Hotel with the beginning of the Ice Carnival in Quebec city, which is a two week winter festival filled with sporting events, sleigh rides, tobogganing and more. (I’ll have a post on our dog sled lesson, next!)

This trip was on my bucket list because it was something so unique, but we realized we may not be up for the challenge of sleeping in an ice hotel in retirement. So we decided that we would do it now. We were so nervous and excited about it, we bubbled like kids at Christmas!

We sat down and started planning out trip in December to make sure we tackled having the right clothes and gear, and coming up with strategies for my diabetes technology in the cold.  It turned out to be SO worth all the effort!

Our arrival into Quebec started with our first night sleeping in the Hotel De Glace! I guess you could say we started off with a bang! Let me begin with what we learned about cold from the staff of the Hotel de Glace, as well as facts about the building of the hotel and engineering to make it so amazing. (And Knowing what we know now, this would have been very helpful in preparing for a stay in the ice hotel.)

  •  While the temperature can be -40 outside, inside the Hotel de Glace stays a constant temp of 27-32 degrees. Snow acts as an insulator helping to stabilize the indoor temperature. A key aspect to any working ice hotel is the effort to keep moisture content low in buildings. Some of the ice structures, like pillars and counters, actually have nitrogen infused in the water making the ice feel dry to the touch. Also, the nitrogen infused water doesn’t stick to skin, which makes running your hands over the ice less extreme then grabbing ice cubes from the freezer!There are fireplaces, inside the hotel, that lend ambiance, but another reason for the fireplace is to help draw out moisture. Warm bodies produce moisture and every effort is made to keep that moisture content low.
  •  Guests are allowed to go to their rooms at 9pm, but before you can go to your room there is a strategy meeting about how to sleep comfortably in the cold. The hotel bed linens are a sleeping bag with liner, laid out on a mattress with pillows.  Each room has at least one candle that should be left to burn through the night, as the candle helps reduce moisture in the room and gives off a little heat. (So true! Our candle went out at 5:30AM and we could feel the cool moisture on our faces, immediately!)
  •  Since your feet have been in your boots for a while, there is bound to be moisture. Before jumping into bed change your socks and then cover your boots with the stuff sack from your sleeping bag. It keeps your boots from absorbing the cold air. I also stuffed my jacket into the stuff sack to keep it dry.
  •   In below freezing temps never wear cotton.  What most people suffer from is a combination of moisture and cold temps against the skin.  The body is constantly producing moisture, so appropriate apparel in freezing temperatures is anything but cotton. Todays technical materials are made to wick moisture away from the skin. Products made by Smart Wool and Ibex are perfect base layer against the skin.  Proper snow boots are also an important factor to having a successful winter vacation, and my Sorels  < http://www.sorel.com >were the best investment I could have made for this trip!

The Hotel De Glace offers day passes as well as overnight guest accommodations, so people from around the world come to visit day, and/or spend the night.  Located at the entrance building you’ll the gift store, phone for taxi service, as well as shuttle buses for the local Sheraton for meals, or a bail out plan.

Inside the grounds of the hotel there is a heated building with an overnight guest reception that included wifi access, showers and locker storage for luggage. The café serves soup and sandwiches and a few snack items, too. For me, this part of the hotel operates a bit more like a youth hostel then hotel, however it is exceptionally clean and friendly.

At night, the bar opens up and the night life kicks in. I think this is the only bar I’ve ever been to where there are refrigerators to keep bottles warm! Unlike club scenes, this bar is open to everyone, you don’t have to be a overnight guest, and families with children are welcome. There is a lovely feeling of community, as everyone is there for the unique experience of an ice hotel and the staff pitches in with games and an ice sculping contest.  I found out I’m a terrible sculptor, so I stuck to my Ice Cider drink!

Ice Cider was one of our Quebec discoveries that we loved. The taste is all apple with a kick! You serve Ice Cider plain, or the Hotel de Glace recommends their ice cider mixed drink. We also had Ice Cider paired with a cheese plate at Restaurant L’intiale and it was amazing!

Sleeping that night was just amazing! The room and the hotel were quiet and restful. It isn’t like sleeping in your own bed, but I didn’t feel deprived, either. I think it was the excitement of being there and the nervousness about whether I would stay warm through the night, but the sleeping bag was perfect, and the mattress was very comfortable.

It’s important to take these tips to heart becasue I will say there was a sizable crowd who could not sleep in their room! All of them younger then I, so I have to assume they didn’t bring the right gear and probably spent too much time in the bar, drinking. Alcohol lowers your body temp and when your liver is tired of digesting the alcohol you’ll find yourself having to get out of bed… if you know what I mean.

Hotel de Glace lived up to my hope that it would be a unique experience and if anyone asked me if I would do it again, my answer is in a New York minute!

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Using Fitness Trackers. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

It’s the start to a new year and fitness is on everyone’s mind, mine included. In the last 5 years, I gained about 10 lbs., and I decided that enough and I committed to getting back into shape. Over the last year, I bought a treadmill and my husband gave me a fitness tracker (pedometer) for my birthday.

But the pedometer is becoming old school since the invasion of fitness wearables coming into the market place.  But what really are the differences between fitness wearable and pedometers, and are they worth the investment? Fitness wearables are new technology that tracks steps, but they also allows you to set activity goals, shows calories burned and some can even track your quality of sleep!

One thing about any of these fitness devices is they are not built for people who want total accuracy.  These devices are meant to give you a ballpark figure.  In fact, my experience with them was quite variable.   So if you are looking for an accurate measure for distance, fitness wearables may not be where you want to put your money.

To start, let me review my Omron Go Smart pedometer.

Omron Go Smart Pedometer

Omron Go Smart Pedometer

 

Wearing the pedometer has been very helpful for me to see that I wasn’t reaching my minimum of 10,000 steps per day.  I had to really work at it, but now I know what I need to do and I don’t have to rely on the pedometer to tell me if I’m close to target at the end of my day. It’s also great for continued motivation.  Once I put it on I know what I have to do and in that respect, it’s a little like a virtual coach.  For this reason, I’m a real fan of using a pedometer.

But the pedometer does have some drawbacks. The pedometer is not small, it is akin to having an insulin pump on my hip and bumping into it was a bit of a problem.  If I moved it to my arm, then it didn’t track my steps as well. It needs the cadence of your stride to really work. I tried tacking it to my shoe, only to have to fiddle with it to get it tight, so it wouldn’t slap the top of my foot, and it just didn’t feel right. (Admittedly, I’m very sensitive to touch and so this may not be everyone’s problem.)

Last June, I bought a Shine. grey_01_medium A new device, made by Misfit Wearables, that is a little bigger than a quarter.

I love the design of this tracker!  It’s sleek and modern and the size was the key selling point for me, because wearing it can be so discrete. The Shine comes with a variety of ways to wear it, giving you the option of sport band, necklace or clasp.

The Shine tracks steps, calories burned and also give miles covered.  My experience with this device is that it is far less accurate then a pedometer. In fact, when I started to have some trouble with my first Shine, the tech said to focus on the goal setting and not on the step calculations. (note: I did have to replace my first Shine, but the company was great to deal with!) My husband has his own Shine and what we both find is that the measurement of activity varies greatly from day to day.  For example, yesterday he walked for an hour and easily made his goal. Today, he did a run/walk for the same amount of time and his Shine only had him a quarter of the way to his goal.

Another cool feature is if you tap the Shine 3 times, you can switch the mode from exercise to sleep and it gives feedback on quality of sleep. I seem to average 3.5 hours of deep sleep, known as REM sleep, per night. This is an interesting bit of information, because the average REM sleep lasts 90 minutes and you are supposed to average 4-5 cycles through the night.  According to the tracker, I’m not doing that well, and since I’ve had trouble with sleeping for years, I don’t doubt this is within range. So I have some reading to do to understand more about improving sleep habits!

The Shine is definitely still working out its start-up wrinkles, but I think it will be a very versatile device with good information to offer users. Also, since the device runs through an app, the one really cool feature is that upgrades to the device are made in the app, which means that you won’t have to buy a new device every time there is an improvement.

Getting out for a walk is a healthy habit to embrace, and maintaining the quality of exercise is equally important.  These little devices just help me take steps in the right direction!

(there is a mirror blog on healthcentral.com, reflecting more diabetes insights)

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Women and Menopause: What You Need to know!

by Njemile Carol Jones, L.Ac., FABORM

The other day, I opened an email invitation to an online course on Chinese Medical treatment of women in menopause. The course looked interesting, especially since I’m moving through this phase myself.  It took me only 30 seconds to decide to register.  The provider generously offered an early bird registration discount.  The coupon code stopped me dead in my tracks… if I want the discount, I have to type in two words, “hot” & “flash.”

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Ok, so I know the course provider was just trying to be consistent and make the discount code reflect the theme of the class.  But “hot flash” felt like such an easy, yet thoughtless characterization to me.  Why are the dreaded hot flashes the first thing most people think of when we hear the word menopause.

I keep wondring why menopause is considered a disease in need of a cure, rather than a life giving transformation? The perimenopausal transition starts for most women in the late 30’s and early 40’s.  It’s a time when some women have raised children, others who’ve focused on career advancement and stability for years, are contemplating options for conceiving and birthing babies.  Still others find themselves caring for aging parents.  Yet, while our lives are enmeshed in the day to day tasks of caring for others, we quietly struggle with eratic menstrual cycles, sleep disturbances, heart palpitations, anxiety, depression  and frequently don’t know why?  It’s all a result of normal hormonal fluctuations that deserve our attention, so that we can make the necessary lifestyle adjustments and take good care of ourselves.

I’ve known for years about research studies that clearly demonstrate the benefits of Chinese Medicine for women moving into perimenopause.  My practice, Fertile Living, has come to be known for providing excellent support for women who want to conceive or are pregnant.  But I’ve always intended to have a broad gynecological focus, as that’s my training.  In fact, all of the practitioners at the Body in Balance Center want women in menopause to know this center and our services are for you.  Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine help ease the the physical transition, and at the same time, provides a safe supportive space for women to explore some of the deeply personal emotional and psychospiritual aspects of this life transition.  We can also assist you with some self-care recommendations that you can do daily, at home.  If you have any questions or would like to schedule a consultation, I invite you to call or email anytime.   My office hours are on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 11 AM to 7 PM, Fridays from 10 AM to 6 PM and Saturdays from 10 AM to 4 PM.

I do plan to take the menopause online course in a few weeks, and look forward to sharing some helpful clinical pearls with you.

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Where Have All The Honey Bees Gone?

Are you a honey fan? Honey is one of the natural sweeteners everyone thinks to use. But honey has been hit by bad business and bees have also been hit by something sinister.

Recently, a client started beekeeping and owns King Street Bees. In talking to my client, I learned that honey, locally grown, is where I need to spend my money…. Honey! (Couldn’t resist)

European_honey_bee_extracts_nectar

Some facts have come to light about honey, and all who buy supermarket honey be warned, it’s not the honey your mom used to buy.

In 2011, Food Safety News tested US grocery store honey and found that it wasn’t exactly honey. Honey has become highly filtered, thus removing the pollen that makes it possible to determine where the honey came from. By removing the microscopic pollen, the honey failed the quality test needed to meet the standard for food safety division of the World Health Organization.

Under the guidelines of the WHO food safety division, if there is no pollen there is no way to determine whether the honey came from a legitimate and safe source. The FDA has said “Ultra filtered honey, that contains no pollen, is no longer honey.”

To add to the concern, some highly filtered honey goes through a procedure where the honey is heated, then forced through small filters to remove the pollen. This is a spin off of a technique refined by honey manufacturers in China, and who have dumped tons of their honey into the US market containing some illegal antibiotics. To read the complete article, click here.

Buying from a local beekeeper is a great option, plus supports your local economy. However, our beekeepers are struggling with another problem, one that feels far more sinister.

A new movie called More than Honey examines a curious and serious worry for beekeepers. It is the disappearance of honeybees. As a kid, I remember have a bee sting almost every summer.  Now I almost never see a bee to even think about that problem.

Over the last 15 years, the US estimates that a total of 1.5million, out of 2.4million hives have disappeared. Numerous bee colonies have been decimated around the world with no evidence of the cause. Depending on the region, as much as 90% of all local bees have disappeared, and this epidemic continues to spread from beehive to beehive. No bodies can be found and no predators involved.

Aside from the fact that we may jump for joy at not having to worry about bee stings, there is a serious environmental impact. Roughly, 80% of plant species require bees to be pollinated. Without bees, there is loss of pollinization and the potential loss of fruits and vegetables could become catastrophic.

Scientists have given the phenomena a name “colony collapse disorder.” They believe that it is a combination of factors causing the demise of bees. Pesticides, parasites, EMF that disturb the magnetite nanoparticles found in a bees belly, and travelling stress, which all of these have reduced immune function for bees. (Reduced immune response? Sound familiar?)

Albert Einstein crystalized the relationship of bees and humans in this comment: “If bees were to disappear from the globe, mankind would have 4 years left to live.” Let’s hope beekeepers, who tend to hives, can find a way to stop the colony collapse disorder and bring bees back to healthy productive levels.

To try an amazing honey taste try, the one and only, Tupelo Honey.

To understand more about bees and their colonies: Marla Spivak: Why Bees Are Disappearing

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How to Choose A Style of Massage That Is Best for You

Style is something that is a personal preference, and like fashion, different body types need a certain style, and this is true of massage, too.

massage therapist getting under the shoulder blade.

massage therapist getting under the shoulder blade.

Most of my clients, who come in for the first time, often choose Swedish/therapeutic. But what does that mean? Then they explain, they are in agony from a workout! Muscles are cramping and suffering deep fatigue from not sleeping well. In my mind (and experience), those two comments would warrant another choice, something that would be deeper and more penetrating to the muscles. The reason is that a cramp needs direct pressure to stop it, if you have a Charlie horse in your foot would you take a feather to relieve the cramp? No! In most cases, you are jamming your toes on the floor trying to stretch the bottom of the foot to relieve the cramp. Basically, deep tissue massages do the same thing.

In choosing a massage, I think a great place to start with is your head. Mental stress sometimes requires a lighter touch, while physical fatigue needs more deep penetrating pressure and most therapist can bridge those two needs.

How to determine the styles on a menu

Swedish/Therapeutic Massage – Therapeutic is the most common style of massage of all that are out there. Swedish involves soft strokes and kneading strokes in rhythmic motion, with light tapping on the top layers of muscles. There are four strokes that make up Swedish massage:
• Effleurage: a smooth, gliding stroke used to relax soft tissue.
• Petrissage: the squeezing, rolling, or kneading that follows effleurage.
• Friction: deep, circular movements that cause layers of tissue to rub against each other, helping to increase blood flow and break down scar tissue.
Tapotement: a short, alternating tap done with cupped hands, fingers, or the edge of the hand.
Every nationally certified massage therapist has been trained in Swedish/therapeutic. Certifications for other styles come under their own certification process.

Deep Tissue Massage – This, by far, is the most popular style at Body in Balance Center. Deep tissue is not a certified style, like Swedish, but it is really applied to amount of pressure. This request is best for those who have “trouble spots.” Pressure is applied slowly with deliberate strokes that focus on the areas of tension, or chronic pain.

Sports Massage is a certified style of massage. It is usually done with clothing on and without lotion, or with very little lotion. Sports massage is usually available at larger events and is very helpful post race, when muscles are more likely to see injury, or small tears. Products like tiger balm, or biofreeze to help manipulate the muscles to release.

Neuromuscular Therapy (NMT) – Like deep tissue massage, NMT uses pressure, but specifically looking for trigger points to release the muscle. Once a trigger point is located in the muscle, pressure is placed on the TP, and held, until the point softens. Strokes are used to help with nerve compression, postural issues and repetitive movement injuries. It’s more medically oriented then other forms of massage and the results can be astonishing! Neuromuscular Therapy is a certified style.

Rolfing Structural Integration is a form of bodywork that focuses on the connective tissue, called fascia, of the entire body. Named after its founder Ida Rolf, Rolfing works on the web like complex of connective tissue to help release and realign and bring to balance the body’s structure and soft tissue to improve movement and restore flexibility. It should be noted that Rolfing is deep and can be uncomfortable at times, but the results can be amazing for something that has been a chronic problem!

Thai Yoga Massage is performed fully clothed and done on a mat, or futon. The client lies on the mat and the practitioner places the client into stretches, or poses, and then applies hand pressure to gently stretch and lengthen the body. Fabulously relaxing for body and mind. Over the last 8 years, Thai Yoga Massage has become very popular and more places are offering it. Don’t be shy to try it!

Like clothing, the best way to find your style of massage is to try it on.  Some you’ll like, some you’ll love and some won’t be a fit at all.

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