Bust Holiday Stress

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By Ali Wetherbee

The holidays can be fun and magical and ever-so-memorable — but this busy time of year can also really stress your mind and body. From holiday shopping to fighting traffic, from being cooped up indoors with germs to being cooped up with the in-laws, there are countless hits to our time, our finances, our health, our peace and sanity. We don’t eat as well and don’t have time to exercise. All of this leaves us especially vulnerable to all those colds and flus going around. So before you wind up in bed with a box of tissues and a hot water bottle, try these ideas. 

In Your Medicine Cabinet:

Instead of toxic, chemical-laden medicines, stock your medicine cabinet with organic vitamins and herbs and homeopathic formulas. Take these daily, but especially when you are under unusual stress or already sick.

Start with Vitamin C

Whole Food Vitamin C belongs in every family’s medicine cabinet. Take it daily to keep your immune system functioning optimally, and begin taking it more frequently or in higher doses as soon as you feel something coming on. Vitamin C, when taken daily, can shorten the duration of the common cold. Taking one or two extra doses when symptoms first appear can thwart a cold before it really gets started! It also prevents and reverses free radical damage caused by oxidative stress, UV rays, and environmental toxins. Vitamin C is necessary for serotonin production, so this is a must-have for anyone suffering from depression or seasonal affective disorder.

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Adapt Better to Stress

Take adaptogens during intense periods of stress. Adaptogenic herbs help you adapt to physical and mental stress and keep the body in balance. They may be particularly useful if you are experiencing anxiety, fatigue, or depression as a result of stress or tension. Stress increases cortisol levels, which may lead to chronic inflammatory conditions, weight gain, fatigue, thyroid problems, hormonal imbalances, and illness. Adaptogens such as rhodiola and cordyceps lower high cortisol levels, minimizing the harmful effects of stress on the body.

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Get a Good Night’s Rest

Stress can disrupt your sleep/wake cycles, making it hard to fall asleep and sleep through the night. This leaves you even more prone to feeling stressed, and you wind up stuck in a vicious cycle. These all-natural formulas can ensure you get an adequate amount of sleep, whether you are up late wrapping gifts or at your company Christmas party past bedtime. Healthy sleep is critical to a healthy immune system, and those who get poor-quality or insufficient sleep are more likely to succomb to colds, flu, and viruses.

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Support Your Immune System with Antioxidnts

Take supplements loaded with antioxidants to keep your immune system in tip top shape. This is an excellent way to boost your body’s resistance to illness during this stressful time of year. Inadequate sleep, poor diet, stress, lack of exercise, increased exposure to germs, aging, and chronic health conditions can all leave you much more susceptible to illness, but these supplements strengthen the immune system, naturally.

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Treat Your Cold Naturally

If illness hits despite your best efforts, you will be glad to have a medicine cabinet stocked with healing herbs, vitamins, and supplements! Keep these items on hand for when you start to feel stuffy or achy. Sovereign Silver is a colloidal silver supplement that my family goes to whenever any of us has a cold. It can be taken every 2 hours or so to help kick the cold out before it gets a firm hold. Calm Balm is an all-natural alternative to petroleum-based chest rubs, and is great for colds, aches, and pains. Wedderspoon Manuka Honey Nuggets help soothe sore throats with organic antibacterial ingredients.

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‘Tis the Season to Stay Healthy!

Keeping healthy and fighting stress is not just a physical process. Every choice we make and each action we take can leave us more stressed or more relaxed, sicker or healthier. Try these tips to stay on track toward a healthier holiday season:

Learn to Say No

You do not need to attend every party or gathering you are invited to! Pick your favorites and skip the rest. The same goes for gift swaps among friends or at the office. Feel free to opt out of those that bring you more stress than pleasure.

Designate one day a week as a “day off” and avoid errands, shopping, planning, ordering, and organizing for the entire day. Instead, read a book, watch a movie, go for a walk, or do something else relaxing. If an entire day seems unrealistic, aim for at least one stress-free evening a week. 

Focus on the Important Things in Life

Spend time with your family. Your kids or grandkids won’t remember every present under the tree or how perfectly the gifts were wrapped, but they will remember the days spent baking cookies, playing games, building snowmen, and cuddling by the fire. Take time out each day to do something that builds memories.

Be grateful. At the end of the day, instead of thinking about all the things you didn’t get done, spend some time thinking about all the things you are thankful for. Keep a Gratitude Jar with scraps of paper for family members to write down each happy moment or blessing, and read through the papers every night at dinner. Bake cookies for someone who has helped you out sometime this year. Bring gifts or food to those who are less fortunate.

Get Plenty of Fresh Air and Exercise

Go for a jog before work or take an evening walk with the family to see neighborhood light displays. Enjoy winter sports such as sledding, skiing, snowboarding, and ice skating. Build a snow fort with the kids or have an improptu dance party. It’s fine to do your workout indoors if the cold is too harsh for you, but also bundle up in a blanket and sit on your front stoop for a few minutes with a hot cup of tea and breathe in the fresh air.

Nourish Your Soul

Engage in soul-friendly practices. While you’re sitting at a red light or stuck in traffic, take some deep breaths and relax your shoulders. When someone cuts you in line at the store or pushes you aside to grab the very last can of cranberry sauce, take some time to think loving, forgiving thoughts about this rude person. Be present and live in the moment instead of spending the entire holiday season tallying your mental lists. Practice yoga, mindfulness, or meditation. All of these things will reduce your stress load and leave you stronger, healthier, and happier.

Take Perfect Collagen for Aches, Pains, & Joint Relief

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If you suffer from the aches, pains, and soreness of chronic conditions such as arthritis or fibromyalgia, you know how hard it can be just to complete ordinary tasks and get through the day. Don’t despair, though! Perfect Collagen may be just what you need to provide your body with the nutritional support to heal. Some benefits of taking a hydrolyzed collagen supplement for chronic aches and pains include:

  • Less pain
  • Reduced stiffness
  • Increased joint elasticity
  • Decreased inflammation
  • Reduced swelling
  • Improved mobility and function

Why would collagen help reduce pain?

Collagen is critical to the body, as it comprises nearly one-third of the proteins in the human body. Collagen is one of the main components of muscles, bones, joints, skin, cartilage, and connective tissues. As we age, our collagen levels tend to decline, contributing to loose skin and wrinkles as well as aches, pains, and bone loss. Some conditions known for causing chronic pain are associated with low levels of collagen. Therefore, collagen supplementation may be a natural remedy for osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, chronic pain disorders, and even osteoporosis.

Collagen is rich in amino acids, the “building blocks of life,” which, among other roles, are essential for growth and repair of body tissues. One particular amino acid in collagen, methionine, helps the body to produce sulfuric compounds. Those with arthritis have been found to have sulfur levels three times lower than their healthy counterparts. Methionine has been shown to reduce pain and inflammation, as well as stimulate cartilage production.

Research has found that collagen is more effective than glucosamine and chondroitin for relieving the pain of arthritis. MRI studies have found that those taking a collagen supplement for arthritis experienced a regrowth of collagen instead of the deterioration found in their non-supplementing counterparts. Muscle biopsies have noted that those with fibromyalgia have lower levels of collagen in the muscles, so collagen supplementation may benefit fibro sufferers as well. Another study found that those with fibromyalgia and temporomandibular joint pain experienced significant improvement in pain levels after 90 days of collagen supplementation. Other research suggests that supplemental collagen can improve the inflammatory response and, in effect, teach the body to control the T-cell reaction to prevent the breakdown of cartilage and connective tissues.

Collagen vs. Gelatin

Collagen is simply uncooked gelatin. While gelatin only dissolves in hot liquids, collagen dissolves in either hot or cold liquid, doesn’t change the taste, and doesn’t thicken. This means you can add it to plain water, any kind of milk or juice, coffee, tea, smoothies, and more. Another big advantage of collagen is that it’s lower molecular weight makes it easier to absorb than gelatin. Those suffering from chronic digestive issues may have a hard time breaking down the molecules in gelatin or bone broth, so collagen is an excellent, easy alternative.

How do I choose the best collagen supplement?

When choosing a collagen supplement, you’ll want to make sure the one you select is made from grass-fed, hormone-free cattle. The cows used to make Perfect Collagen feed on clean, green, pesticide-free pastures in Brazil. The cows are never given hormones or antibiotics. Perfect Collagen goes through a natural enzymatic process to break down the collagen into its most absorbable, bioavailable form. This process is called hydrolyzation. No chemicals, preservatives, flow agents, or fillers are added — only pure, pastured collagen.

Get the most out of your collagen supplement

  • Vitamin C is a cofactor for collagen production, so this is an important supplement to take alongside collagen.
  • You may also want to consider a B Complex supplement, as B vitamins support methionine in producing sulfurs in the body.

Does collagen have any side effects?

Collagen supplements are extremely well tolerated. Potential side effects include mild diarrhea or a slight rash, but most will experience no side effects from collagen supplementation. There are no known dangers or drug interactions associated with collagen.

What other natural remedies help with aches and pains?

  • Emu oil is excellent for achy joints and sore muscles. An oral emu oil supplement provides anti-inflammatory omega fatty acids. Topical emu oil can be rubbed right into the aching joint to reduce inflammation locally.
  • Calm Balm soothes sore muscles with menthol camphor and healing oils. This is a great natural alternative to Icy Hot.
  • Magnesium is also extremely important for easing aches and pains, as it aids in the nerve response plus muscle contraction and relaxation.
  • There is growing evidence that turmeric is as effective as aspirin in relieving pain — but without the gastrointestinal side effects
  • Avoid sugars and excess carbohydrates in your diet, as these may contribute to inflammation in the body.

 

By Ali Wetherbee

Natural Remedies for Colds & Flu

Beat colds & flu to get back to you!

Cold and flu season is in full swing and there have been lots of runny noses and coughing around these parts lately! Fortunately, we have some great natural remedies for all those yucky symptoms.

The elderberry syrup recipe featured below is one of the first supplements to turn to when you start feeling something coming on. Rich in vitamins A, B, and C, elderberry syrup is a natural alternative to flu shots that you can make at home for only a few dollars. Not only has elderberry syrup been found to prevent the flu, but it also shortens the duration of illness for those who’ve already succumbed to the flu. Plus, you can customize homemade elderberry syrup to suit your needs — for example, substituting manuka honey for extra antiviral and antibacterial benefits, adding a spoonful or two of cocoa powder to relieve coughs, or turning it into gummy candies to better appeal to kids.

Wedderspoon Organic Manuka Honey Drops – Lemon with Bee Propolis
All the antibacterial and anti-inflammatory benefits of manuka honey are packed into these convenient Organic Manuka Honey Drops – perfect for soothing sore throats and coughs.

We have also found vitamin C powder to stop colds in their tracks, and many studies indeed support vitamin C’s ability to lessen the severity and duration of a cold. Catie’s Vitamin C Plus is made from organic plant foods, not synthetic ascorbic acid. Mix a spoonful into a glass of water for a tasty fruit punch that’s actually good for you! Or try Pure Radiance C , a mix of wild-harvested camu camu berries and organic acerola cherries with antioxidant-rich organic fruits and berries combined to be a 100% natural form of vitamin C.

To alleviate the sinus pressure and congestion accompanying winter bugs, VAXA Sinus Formula combines traditional herbs with homeopathic ingredients to reduce sinus congestion and post-nasal drip, decrease sneezing, coughing, and swollen eyes, and eliminate that “stuck in a bell” feeling caused by blocked ears, dizziness, and vertigo. If you’re more prone to respiratory problems than sinus troubles, GHC AllerTrex eases swollen, inflamed bronchial passages and helps clear out mucous and supports the lungs.

Finally, for the congestion and all-over aches and pains that the flu may cause, Calm Balm is a natural alternative to vaporub, relieving congestion and soothing aches and pains with healing fermented cod liver oil, high vitamin butter oil, coconut oil, menthol camphor, and essential oils. And don’t forget the old standby of hot tea with lemon and honey — just a cup or two always makes me feel so much better!

While colds and flus don’t generally require antibiotics — in fact, antibiotics may be completely ineffective in these situations and contribute to the development of superbugs — some bacterial infections such as strep throat, certain sinus infections or ear infections, and some types of pneumonia may require additional treatment. Natural remedies for bacterial complications include colloidal silver, raw garlic, and manuka honey, all of which may be more effective than prescription antibiotics, without the dangerous side effects and the ability to breed superbugs.

If you do opt to take antibiotics, the best way to protect your immune system and digestive tract is to take probiotics daily during and after the course of antibiotics. Prescript-Assist restores the beneficial bacteria that are wiped out by antibiotics so that you can return to good health quickly and get back to the activities you love. Feel better soon!


Get 10% OFF these cold and flu supplements with coupon code: FluFighters


Feel the effects of elderberry & honey home remedies.

Homemade Elderberry Syrup

Wellness Mama makes this yummy elderberry syrup to prevent flu, as well as treat it. Use regular honey when making for a preventative, but use manuka honey when taking for treatment of an active illness, to give an added boost to the immune system. In addition to having powerful illness-fighting abilities, elderberry syrup is a delicious topping for pancakes, waffles, plain yogurt, or even a bowl of newly-fallen snow!

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup black elderberries
  • 3 1/2 cups filtered water
  • 2 Tbs ginger root
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1/2 tsp cloves or clove powder
  • 1 cup raw honey (preventative) or manuka honey (acute illness)

Directions:

  1. Add all ingredients except honey to a saucepan. You do not want to heat the honey, as this will destroy many of the beneficial compounds, so we’ll add this at the end.
  2. Bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until liquid is reduced by about half. Wellness Mama said this will take 45 minutes to an hour, but it took me over 2 hours.
  4. Remove saucepan from heat and allow to cool a bit.
  5. Use a mesh strainer or cheesecloth to strain the liquid into a jar or bowl.
  6. The elderberries are no longer needed; you can compost them, but they are also great in pancakes or muffins!
  7. Allow the liquid to cool, then mix in the honey.
  8. Pour into smaller mason jars and refrigerate.

Recommended Dosage:

The preventative dose for kids is 1/2 – 1 tsp a day; for adults, take 1/2 – 1 Tbs a day. Many suggest skipping the weekend doses to further boost immunity.

During a cold or flu, take the usual dose, but increase the frequency to every 2-3 hours until symptoms subside.

Elderberry Gummies

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. In a small saucepan, combine elderberry syrup and lemon juice.
  2. When it is hot, slowly add the gelatin. If it is added too fast it may clump and leave gross lumps in the gummies. Stir constantly until the  gelatin is completely dissolved. The mixture gets a glassy look when this has occurred.
  3. Remove from heat and let cool. You want it to be no warmer than 115° before you add the honey. The mixture should still be a warm enough to mix the honey easily, but not so hot it will destroy the beneficial compounds of the manuka.
  4. If you don’t have a silicon mold, then use coconut oil to grease the sides of a bread pan. Once the honey is completely combined into the mixture, pour into silicon mold or into the bread pan.
  5. Put into the freezer for 20 – 30 minutes.
  6. Remove from freezer and pop out of the mold. If you used the bread pan, then cut into bite size pieces for easier removal from the pan.

Manuka Honey & Lemon Cough Drops

If you or your child has a cough you want to treat, then these homemade gummy drops are an excellent choice. Even regular honey has been used medicinally for treating coughs, and has been shown in studies to be just as effective as over-the-counter cough suppressants. Manuka honey does this and more with its extra immune-boosting and healing  properties. Coconut oil is loaded with antioxidants and contains lauric acid, which gives it its ability to kill viruses and germs, so these little babies can help suppress the cough and help your body fight the cold at the same time.

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. In a small saucepan, combine coconut oil and lemon juice.
  2. When it is hot, slowly add the gelatin. If it is added too fast it may clump and leave gross lumps in the gummies. Stir constantly until the  gelatin is completely dissolved. The mixture get a glassy look when this has occurred.
  3. Remove from heat and let cool. You want it to be no warmer than 115° before you add the honey, as higher temperatures will reduce the effectiveness of manuka honey.
  4. If you don’t have a silicon mold, then use coconut oil to grease the sides of a bread pan. Pour the mixture into a silicon mold or bread pan.
  5. Freeze for 20 – 30 minutes.
  6. Remove from freezer and pop out of the mold, or if you used a bread pan, use a knife to cut into bite size pieces.

All supplements mentioned above are 10% OFF! Enter coupon code “FluFighters” at checkout.

By Ali Wetherbee and Kerrie Bross

Beat the Winter Blues

Natural_mood_enhancerBy Ali Wetherbee

As the days get colder and darker, 25 million people across the country suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and up to 20% of Americans are dragged down by a milder form of seasonal depression. Depressed mood is not the only symptom of the winter blues; many may not notice any change in mood but instead will experience low energy, fatigue, trouble waking in the morning, insomnia, increased appetite, carbohydrate cravings, and weight gain. Other mood changes include irritability, anxiety, panic attacks, a lack of interest in usual activities, and withdrawal from family and friends. You may experience just a couple of these issues or many; make sure to see your doctor to be sure another medical condition is not causing your symptoms. If your doctor gives the OK for you to treat your winter blues naturally, here are some things you can try.

Omega-3s

Omega-3 supplementation, ideally from fish oil, is one of the most important things you can do to counteract seasonal depression, because these essential fatty acids increase production of serotonin. Studies on various populations throughout the world find that in countries where little or no fish is consumed, depression rates are up to 50 times greater than countries with high fish consumption. Multiple studies have found that low PUFA (polyunsaturated fatty acid) levels are associated with more severe depression. A Norwegian study with over 21,000 participants found that regular cod liver oil supplementation led to 30% fewer depressive symptoms, with longer periods of supplementation correlating with the lowest levels of depression. Green Pasture Fermented Cod Liver Oil is an excellent source of omega-3s/PUFAs and is one of the highest quality fish oil supplements on the market. It is available in several flavors and either liquid or capsule form. If you are already taking fish oil, now is the time to increase your daily dose. While fish and fish oil are generally considered the ideal sources of omega-3s, vegetarians and vegans may experience some of the omega-3 benefits from walnuts and flax seed oil.

Vitamin D

The other essential component in combatting SAD is ensuring that you are getting adequate vitamin D. Called “the sunlight vitamin” by many, vitamin D supplementation is particularly crucial for those who get little direct sunlight exposure. People with depression often have low vitamin D levels, which makes sense since this vitamin is necessary for serotonin and dopamine production. A review of research published in Nutrients found that in the studies without flaws, vitamin D supplementation of 800IU or more, when substantial enough to demonstrate a change in vitamin levels, was about as effective as antidepressant medication at managing depression. There is also some speculation that low vitamin D levels signal our bodies to go into winter metabolic mode, leading to weight gain over the coldest months. While the Recommended Daily Allowance of Vitamin D is only 400IU for adults, many experts are now recommending much larger doses, up to 4000 or 5000IU a day or more, for optimal health and wellbeing. Vitamin Code Raw D3 contains 5000IU of raw, whole food D3, along with probiotics and enzymes to optimize absorption.

Exercise

Since exercise boosts serotonin levels and levels of other feel-good hormones, working out daily can go a long way in easing the blues. If you don’t enjoy running and biking outside in the cold, you can join a gym, invest in a treadmill or elliptical, or find home workouts online or on your phone. Just half an hour a day, or an hour three times a week, has been shown to be just as effective as taking an antidepressant, alleviating depression in 60-70% of study participants. If it’s been a while since you’ve last exercised, or you’re having trouble getting going due to lack of motivation, start out with just 10 jumping jacks in the morning, and slowly work up to a full workout. Check out our Pinterest board for workout ideas and routines. Find something you love, because you’ll be more likely to stick to it if you enjoy doing it.

Reset Your Body Clock

Swap your light bulbs for full-spectrum lights, and get plenty of time outdoors or by a window. Sunlight on a bright sunny day can be 100 times brighter than even the brightest indoor lighting. Morning light is crucial to keeping your body clock on track, so try to get outside for a short walk when you start your day. Light therapy boxes are available too, if you aren’t able to spend time outdoors. Always get your daily light exposure during daytime hours, because at night it can interfere with melatonin production. Also, melatonin levels decline as we age, sometimes preventing the deep, restorative sleep that we need to feel our best. Some people with the winter blues find that a small dose of melatonin not only helps them sleep better and regulates the internal body clock, but also improves mood and other depressive symptoms. Try Melatonin Sleep Support Spray by Mercola, and consider experimenting with the timing of your dose, as some SAD studies have found benefit to afternoon, and even morning, melatonin supplementation.

Herbal Antidepressants

Several herbs and natural formulas can help with depression, whether seasonal or chronic. A supplement known as 5-HTP, or 5-hydroxytryptophan, can help raise serotonin levels as it is a precursor to serotonin synthesis. Use this supplement with caution, as it may interact with prescription antidepressants, and take it only for a short period of time. SAM-e, a chemical naturally found in the body, is also available as a supplement, and can reduce symptoms of depression. An herb called St. John’s Wort seems to work similarly to an SSRI by keeping serotonin circulating through the brain, and many studies have found it to be as effective as prescription antidepressants. None of these three supplements should be taken alongside a prescription antidepressant without a doctor’s supervision, as this could lead to life-threatening serotonin syndrome. Consult your doctor before trying these supplements if you suffer from bipolar disorder.

Diet & Vitamins

Despite the intense carb cravings you may be experiencing, it is best to avoid sugar, starches, and simple carbohydrates such as white bread or pasta, as they will cause highs and lows as well as lead to weight gain. Also avoid or limit caffeine, which can suppress serotonin levels. Instead, focus on bright, colorful fruits and veggies, whole grains, fish, nuts, and seeds.

Make sure you are getting enough vitamins and minerals. Calcium and magnesium are required not only for serotonin production, but also for absorption and utilization of vitamin D. Magnesium has a relaxing effect on nerves and muscles. Dr. Frank Lipman, who combines Eastern and Western medicine in his practice, says, “Insufficient levels of magnesium can compound SAD symptoms by inhibiting the conversion of tryptophan to 5-HTP, which can decrease the production of mood-stabilizing serotonin and melatonin. To boost magnesium levels in winter, I recommend taking 400-600mg at bedtime.” Try Catie’s Whole Food Magnesium along with Catie’s Raw Vegetable Calcium, or if you prefer an all-in-one supplement, opt for Garden of Life Raw Calcium, which contains 80% of the daily value of calcium as well as 100% of magnesium, along with other trace minerals, or Natural Vitality Balanced CalMag, which contains the ideal ratio of calcium to magnesium.

A B-Complex supplement is also helpful. Research is finding that high B vitamin intake is associated with less depression. B-12 supplementation often improves energy, and B-6, which is particularly supportive during periods of stress, aids in the production of serotonin, melatonin, and dopamine. Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw B-Complex provides these essential vitamins as well as inositol, a vitamin-like substance that has been shown to improve depression by augmenting serotonin activity in the brain. Catie’s Whole Food B-Complex is another great option.

What else can you do?

Go for a massage — studies have found it to increase serotonin. It doesn’t seem to matter if the massage is done by a professional, a partner, or a friend. Any physical contact with another human may be beneficial, so if you can’t get a massage, at least get (or give) more hugs, and spend more time cuddling with your partner or children. Another simple way to boost serotonin levels is to reminisce about happy moments. “Think happy thoughts,” such as remembering in vivid detail your wedding day, a fun outing with a relative, a party with a friend, or a ride on the carousel when you were a child. Remembering negative events has the opposite effect and decreases serotonin, so try to avoid listening to bad news stories or rehashing difficult life situations. Consider coming up with a happy memory list to use as a starting point for those moments when you find yourself reminiscing about sad events.

Get Help

If these supplements and lifestyle changes are not helping, or if you are experiencing more severe depression, suicidal thoughts, or other serious problems, consult a doctor or therapist immediately. Don’t attempt to fight it off on your own — help is available. Natural options are great as a first resort or for milder winter blues, but some people may require professional treatment. If you are in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 immediately.