Essential Oils- Some of My Favorites

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Essential oils can be a powerful health tool, and they are known for their subtle and gentle effects.  I love essential oils and have used the extensively in my life and in my clinical practice, but I do not proclaim myself as an expert in essential oils.  Many of my colleagues and teachers are more knowledgeable than I am in this area.   That being said, here are some of my favorites!

Notes:

*This information is from my personal experience and from my education in naturopathic medical school.  I don’t have any references for this material, it is mostly been verbally passed down from the experts.

*Essential oils are generally safe to try for people of all ages and most health concerns, but it is best to speak with a holistic medical provider before using.

* If you know that you have an allergy to any of these plants, then DO NOT use the essential oil.

*Also, essential oils are generally safe when used externally, and most should be diluted before applying to the skin (best diluents include almond oil, jojoba oil, your lotion/moisturizer, olive oil). With very limited exceptions, it is usually not recommended to take essential oils internally unless properly diluted.

Lavender- the good-for-everything oil.  Great for mental health, helps with nervousness, anxiety and depression.  It can either bring up the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest) or bring down the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight), it is very balancing.  Apply it to the inner wrist or bottom of the feet for relief.  Can be applied directly to minor skin burns, as it helps decrease the sensation of pain and heat and can prevent blistering.  It can relieve migraines when combined with peppermint.

German Chamomile- great for bug bites, skin injuries like scrapes/rugburn, hives and eczema.  It is a powerful anti-inflammatory, so it is great for any skin condition with redness.  Mix with calendula oil for a powerful healing oil, or mix a few drops into your moisturizer.

Tea Tree- a potent antimicrobial.  This works well for skin and nail fungus, but can be too strong for the skin if not diluted.  This is a great addition to liquid hand soap or shampoo.  It can also be used in a diffuser to clean the air in a room, although some people do not enjoy the smell of this oil.  Interestingly, manuka honey is honey from bees pollinating the tea tree, and has many healing properties.

Peppermint- Great digestion tonic, helps to stimulates digestion by increasing saliva and bile production. It can also relieve gas and nausea. For these uses one drop followed by a glass of water is sufficient.  Topically it is good for hot flashes because it gives the skin a cool sensation. This is also great in a diffuser to clean the air in a room.  Almost everyone likes this smell.

Eucalyptus- This is great for respiratory infections and allergies.  It has antiviral activity, and is cooling to swollen, irritated tissues.  Add a few drops to a pot of hot water to breathe in the steam when you’re sick.  You can also apply one drop to the bottom of your nose when allergy season hits to keep your sinuses clear.

Rose Geranium- Great for women’s health conditions.  You can rub a few drops on your lower abdomen for menstrual cramps.  It may be able to balance the female hormones if used regularly, and it is one of those “feel good” smells which may be related to increasing the parasympathetic nervous system.  Good for those who crave sugar during their menses.

{Disclaimer: this is not considered personal medical advice, and you should speak with a physician before making diet and lifestyle changes. I’m happy to be that physician; all you need to do is schedule an appointment with me}

New Workshops Coming Up!

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Book now as space is limited!  Dr. Ward-Selinger and Dr. Herman are teaming up to present on these exciting topics.  Please reserve your space at www.sellwoodyoga.com

April Workshop:
Intro to Cleansing, $10 to reserve your space
In this workshop we will discuss the benefits of cleanses and and outline different protocols, as well as how to choose a program that’s right for you.  Dr. Kai and Dr. Lauren will provide tips for a safe and effective cleanse program, as well as ways to incorporate these healthy habits into your every day life.  Attendees will also receive a discount to use towards the group cleanse scheduled at Elixia Wellness Group in May 2014.
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May Workshop:
Conquering Allergies, $10 to reserve your space
The incidence of food and skin allergies is steadily increasing. In this workshop we will discuss the causes and prevalence of environmental and dietary allergies.  Dr. Kai and Dr. Lauren will discuss how to limit your exposure to allergens and will discuss effective, natural allergy treatments that provide long term allergy control.

4 Steps for Mindfulness

This time of year many of us are caught in the rush.  It is often a combination of the holiday celebrations, preparing for the year end at work, or tackling the never ending to-do list.  The holidays can also bring up a lot of emotional and financial stress.  To help get through these exciting, stressful and sometimes exhausting days, I recommend bringing a mindfulness practice into your daily routine.  Here are some steps on how to start.

BE GRATEFUL:

It sounds so simple, and it is.  Take 5 minutes every day to think about what you are grateful for in your life. This can be done as formal meditation, during your shower, during your bus ride, lying in bed, etc.  Close your eyes and think about the roof over your head, the warm fuzzy animal in your house, the clothes in your closet, the food in your pantry, the fact that you have to get up and go to your job (because you have a job).  Most importantly, take a moment to think about the important people in your life.  No one is perfect and it is easy to focus on someone’s flaws, but without them you wouldn’t be who you are and where you are.  I truly believe that people feel positive energy when you send it towards them.  So go ahead, send them some mental and energetic love.  Maybe they will send it back to you!

SLOW DOWN:

We live in a society of instant-everything.  All of the answers are at the touch of a screen, food can be ready in 1 minute, and our cars take us across town in an instant.  Although I’m thankful for this technology and it has greatly benefited my life, I think it has led us into a trap of less satisfaction.  Take a moment to put down your electronic device and talk to a stranger at the coffee shop or the lady at the checkout counter.  Walk or bike to work to see the neighborhood in a new dimension.  Cook dinner with a friend and don’t worry about how long it takes. You will likely find pleasure and satisfaction from these activities.

LET GO:

So often we hold onto things that do not serve us.  It doesn’t serve anyone to carry around a load of grief, grudges and disappointments.  Things happen in our lives that hurt or leave us with a burden.  I can’t explain why these things happen, but I know that the sooner you can come to terms with them, accept them for what they are, and move forward, the better off you will be.  You are alive to greet another day, so don’t let something that went wrong hold you down.  By greeting the day with the wisdom from your experiences and by setting clear intentions for the future, you will be successful.  Seek assistance if you need help letting go- counseling, psychiatry, energy work and body work can be very powerful.  Remember, every ending is also a beginning.

FIND A MANTRA:

A mantra is like your spiritual theme song.  It is something you can play in your head when you need a little motivation or are faced with a challenge.  Historically, mantras have been used for thousands of years in the Hindu and Buddhist traditions and are often incorporated into yoga practices.  I am not an expert in these traditions but I have found this to be extremely powerful in my life.  It doesn’t have to be anything formal or fancy, just something that resonates with you and allows you to refocus.  Finding a mantra may help you to incorporate the other three steps above into your life.

Here are some examples:

I will greet everyone with love
Patience and compassion with all people
I choose to be healthy
I am good
I will get through this
Breathe
Slow down and smile
Today is going to be a great day
I will be successful

In Naturopathic Medicine it is important to support the mind, body and soul.  I hope you’ve found these tips helpful and allow you to face the end of the year with more grace, gratitude and compassion.

5 Tips for Staying Healthy During the Holidays

1.   Keep to a healthy diet, but don’t obsess
-Don’t go to parties hungry! This will result in way too many appetizers and overfilling of the plate.  Have a healthy snack or smoothie before you go.
-Every meal should consist of half a plate of vegetables. This will keep your digestion moving and lower your calorie count.
-Indulge a little bit.  The holidays are about celebration, so go ahead and have a piece of grandma’s pumpkin pie.  But just one.  Consider prepping yourself with digestive enzymes or taking a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar before meals.

2.   Move your body EVERY DAY
-Keep to your exercise routine as much as possible.  The holidays are a time for exceptions, but don’t make this one of them.
-Get your family moving!  How about proposing a family walk after dinner? Or a touch football game in the park?  Or joining in on that local 5K run?
-If you can’t get anyone else to join you and you can’t get to the gym, do yourself a favor and do some fun exercises for 20 minutes in your home: burpees, situps, plank holds, jumping jacks, karate kicks, running the stairs, whatever you can think of!

3.       Solid sleep schedule
-Try to maintain a schedule of going to bed and waking up at the same time every day.  Optimally, this is from 10pm to 7am.  There will be blips, but make a conscious effort to make this happen!
-Too amped to sleep?  Limit caffeine to 1-2 cups BEFORE noon.  Don’t over-indulge on alcohol, and don’t drink later than an hour before bedtime.
-Exhausted in the morning? Get your cortisol pumping right away by getting in your daily movement!

4.       Mental health time
-This is very important.  Take time for yourself during the craziness.  Spend at least 15 minutes a day on yourself, whether that is meditating, taking a bath, praying, napping or simply walking.
-Take a moment to be thankful for all that you have, every day.  The holidays are a special time for reconnecting with friends and family, family traditions, letting go of grudges, and acknowledging the passing time.

5.       Natural immunity boosters
-Have an arsenal on hand.  Most people could benefit from taking a daily probiotic, vitamin D, and a multivitamin/mineral.  Brands I like: Integrative Therapeutics Probiotic Pearls, Genestra D-Mulsion 1000, and Innate Response One Daily Cap. {I have no financial affiliation with any of those products}.
-Contrast hydrotherapy: alternate hot and cold water in the shower (ex: 1 min hot, 10 sec cold, repeat 3 times).  Always end on cold.  This stimulates your circulation and causes your immune system to fire up.
-Wash your hands! Use soap and water to wash your hands several times per day, especially after being in public spaces and before eating.  No need for antimicrobial soaps, just regular soap is the best!

{Disclaimer: this is not considered personal medical advice, and you should speak with a physician before making diet and lifestyle changes. I’m happy to be that physician; all you need to do is schedule an appointment with me}