Bust Holiday Stress


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


‘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.

Five Ways to De-Stress


By Ali Wetherbee

Stress comes in many forms — home life, work, family, friends, drama, fun, finances, and more. Instead of focusing on the many burdens and challenges we each face, take some time to relax, unwind, and undo any damage all that stress may have done. Here are 5 ways to lower your stress level this month:

1. Exercise
Physical activity continues to be one of the top-recommended stress busters. It’s safe, and inexpensive, and improves not only stress and mood, but also overall health. If you haven’t been working out regularly or if the cold weather is driving you indoors, it may be hard to get into a good exercise routine. Try finding a workout buddy, setting some small goals, and choosing a form of exercise that you enjoy. These things will keep you more motivated to get moving.

2. Meditate
Meditation comes in many different forms; it doesn’t necessarily require you to sit silently with your eyes closed for hours on end. A quiet walk through the woods, during which you take time to notice everything you see, hear, and smell, can be both meditative and restorative. If you are new to meditating, a guided meditation can help you stay focused on relaxing. Those with anxiety or trouble staying still and quiet might find that yoga is a more appealing form of meditation.

3. Help Your Body Adapt
These supplements support our bodies in handling all kinds of stress. Adaptogenic herbs bring all systems of the body back into balance, lowering cortisol levels and regulating blood pressure, blood sugar, hormones, and cholesterol. Taking one or several of these adaptogens is a very simple step toward healing your body and feeling more at ease.

4. Don’t Forget to Breathe
When we are anxious or tense, we are more likely to either hold our breath or hyperventilate. This keeps the entire body on alert and in a state of non-stop stress. To correct this problem, practice deep breathing from the abdomen. One method many find helpful is 4-7-8 breathing. Inhale through your nose for a count of 4; hold this breath for 7 seconds. Then exhale through your mouth with a whooshing sound, for a count of 8.

5. Engage In Meaningful Activities
Sure, many of us find ourselves always busy and constantly in motion, but how many of those activities bring you true joy and a sense of peace? How many of them leave you feeling deeply fulfilled and socially connected? Often we get so caught up in obligations that we forget to take time to do the things we really love. A long chat with a dear friend over a cup of coffee, or an afternoon of digging in the dirt can help you leave your tensions behind. Commit to spending an hour this week enjoying your favorite hobby — whether that’s hiking a mountain, drawing, dancing, or playing an instrument.

8 Signs Your Pet Needs Probiotics

Mercola_Pet_ProbioticsBy Ali Wetherbee

Do you give your dog or cat probiotics? Just like in humans, probiotics help your pet’s digestive system run smoothly, strengthen his immune system, and improve his overall health. While all pets can benefit from supplemental probiotics, the signs below are indicators that your cat or dog may be in need of some extra support.

1. Your pet is on medication or recently took antibiotics

Antibiotics destroy all of the bacteria in the digestive system — including the beneficial microflora that help your pet ward off illness and keep the gastrointestinal tract in balance and functioning well. Any time your vet administers a course of antibiotics to your pet, you should follow it with a course of probiotics or increase your pet’s usual probiotic dose to restore the healthy flora in the intestines. The same is true of steroids and many other medications.

2. He’s itching and scratching all day long

Signs of allergies include not only scratching and rashes but also excessive eye tearing, respiratory problems, and poor weight gain. Allergies in pets can be caused by a variety of conditions, including yeast infections (such as candida) and leaky gut syndrome. Many people find their pets experience allergy relief, as well as alleviation of the underlying condition, from supplemental probiotics.

3. She has digestive issues

Digestive disturbances including diarrhea, constipation, excessive or smelly gas, frequent burping, and vomiting indicate food is not being digested properly. Flooding the digestive tract with beneficial bacteria can restore its proper functioning and leave your pet more comfortable and healthier. An excess of bad bacteria in the gut can lead to more serious or chronic health problems.

4. Your dog or cat has bad breath

If your dog has doggy breath or your cat’s mouth stinks, your pet most likely has a bacterial imbalance in the oral cavity or the intestines. Harmful bacteria lead to halitosis, but a daily probiotic will increase the amount of good bacteria, outnumbering the bad, and quickly get his breath smelling better. Make sure to brush your pet’s teeth regularly, too.

5. Fido has frequent infections

Infections in pets include yeast infections, candidiasis, ear infections, and urinary tract infections. You might notice a bloody or yellow discharge, a strange smell, waxy buildup, ear rubbing, a change in urination habits, or red, irritated skin, along with pain, fever, poor appetite, lethargy, or vomiting. Probiotics keep the harmful yeasts and bacteria in check, reducing or eliminating the overgrowth that causes these infections.

6. Fluffy seems stressed

Pet stress comes from a variety of sources: traveling, moving, performing, training, staying in a kennel, being cooped up for long periods of time, battling an illness, or meeting a new addition to the family. It may reveal itself as changes in mood or behavior, excessive shedding (i.e. more than twice a year), vomiting, or diarrhea, Stress can deplete the friendly bacteria in the gut, so it is a good idea to administer probiotics before, during, and after any potential stressor.

7. Your pet eats commercial pet food

Low-quality pet foods are full of cheap grains, which are hard for dogs, and especially cats, to digest, often resulting in malabsorption and signs of malnutrition. A probiotic may aid in digestion and help your pet absorb more nutrients. While there is a marketing trend toward labeling pet foods with the word “probiotics,” the labeling is often inaccurate and the food generally contains very little live beneficial bacteria due to the manufacturing process. You are better off supplementing with a quality probiotic formula containing strains specifically selected for pets (rather than humans) and verified to contain the active probiotics listed on the label.

8. He has a chronic illness

Chronic fatigue, inflammation, liver or kidney disease, obesity, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, and hyperthyroidism are some, among many, conditions with which pets may benefit from probiotic support. Chronic illness is often linked to the development of cancers; for example, IBD is associated with lymphoma in cats. That is why it’s important to alleviate not only the symptoms of ongoing illness, but the underlying inflammation and the over- or under-active immune responses as well. Probiotics boost the immune system, aid in detoxification, and decrease inflammation.

The Best Pet Probiotic Formula

Mercola Complete Pet Probiotics contain specially chosen bacterial strains ideal for pets, rather than strains used for humans. This formula is also able to withstand your pet’s stomach acid. One serving of Mercola Pet Probiotics contains 58 billion active bacteria and 14 different strains — levels that exceed the recommendation of 20-40 million bacteria per serving and 10 different bacterial strains. This means it is more potent and effective than other brands, which may contain insufficient microorganisms to propagate and thus restore or maintain a healthy balance of flora. Mercola Pet Probiotics are also GMP compliant, a certification that ensures the supplement meets standards of potency, safety, and purity.


Recommendations from Dr. Oz Part 1: Rhodiola for Stress and Fatigue

Dr.Oz_RhodiolaBy Ali Wetherbee

In this 3-part series, we’ll give you the lowdown on what Dr. Oz is recommending lately. Part 1, below, features a powerful supplement that can combat the effects of stress on the body and fight fatigue. Part 2 will highlight Dr. Oz’s recent weight loss recommendations. In Part 3, we’ll discuss all-natural remedies for a variety of health issues and illnesses.

Part 1: Rhodiola, Dr. Oz’s Burnout Buster

Life is full of stressors. A busy day, cranky kids, lost car keys, or a fight with your partner can leave you feeling irritable and on edge. Bigger stressors such as planning a wedding, working a demanding job, or taking care of an ill family member can be especially taxing. Stress is not just an emotional response; it can truly wreak havoc on our bodies. It stimulates the autonomic nervous system, causing an increase in heart rate, blood pressure, adrenaline, and cortisol. You start to breathe rapidly and your blood vessels constrict. These are all adaptive responses that help us to function well under pressure or danger in the short-term, but repeated, long-term exposure to stress strains every system of our bodies. Chronic stress can lead to fatigue, headaches, hyperglycemia, hypertension, high cholesterol, premature aging, depression, impaired memory, and a weakened immune system.

Between 75-90% of doctor visits are for health issues related to stress, and studies have found numerous diseases and disorders to be triggered or exacerbated by stress. These include:

  • heart disease
  • diabetes
  • obesity
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • irritable bowel syndrome
  • gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • ulcerative colitis
  • Crohn’s disease
  • asthma
  • migraines
  • clinical depression
  • anxiety and panic disorders
  • PTSD
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • skin rashes, including psoriasis and eczema
  • adrenal fatigue
  • thyroid disorders

Rhodiola Rosea: Dr. Oz’s Burnout Buster

Dr. Oz recommends rhodiola rosea to counteract the damaging effects of stress and “reignite your energy.” He says that the brain is most affected by stress, but that rhodiola will boost your mood and energy levels. The supplement increases the production and release of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine, the “feel good” chemicals. Rhodiola also regulates hormones including epinephrine, and norepinephrine, and cortisol, which enhances mental and physical performance and improves energy.

Dosage: Dr. Oz recommends taking 150mg at breakfast every day. Standard dosages range from 100-600mg daily.

What is Rhodiola Rosea?

Rhodiola is an adaptogen, which is a term applied to herbs, plants, and fungi which help the body resist or adapt to stress. Other examples of adaptogens include ginseng, holy basil (tulsi), and cordyceps. These natural substances have a normalizing effect on body systems. Also known as golden root or Arctic root, Rhodiola Rosea grows at high altitudes in Arctic areas of Europe and Asia. Rhodiola has been used for thousands of years in Russia and Europe to survive harsh climate conditions. Rhodiola tea is used in traditional Chinese and Siberian medicine for its healing powers and ability to enhance energy. In Siberia they say that, “People who drink Rhodiola tea will live to more than 100 years old.” Research on rhodiola has found it to be beneficial for:

  • easing fatigue
  • alleviating anxiety and depression
  • reducing side effects of stress
  • improving cognitive function
  • losing weight
  • reducing binge eating
  • slowing heart rate
  • lowering blood pressure
  • protecting the liver & eliminating toxins
  • preventing and treating cancer
  • bolstering immunity
  • promoting longevity

Perfect Rhodiola Rosea

Perfect Rhodiola Rosea is made from wild-crafted Siberian golden root, freeze-dried to retain maximum benefits. It contains a minimum of 3% Rosavins and 1% Salidroside, the ideal proportions of these critical therapeutic compounds. No chemicals are added or used during processing. One capsule contains 200mg of rhodiola root.

Other Burnout Busters

Dr. Oz also suggests, for those dependent on coffee to get through the day, to add butter to your coffee to keep the caffeine in your system longer. All you have to do is stir a tablespoon of butter into your cup of hot coffee. He advises drinking one cup of buttered coffee at 9:30 and another at 1:30 to stabilize energy throughout the day.

Taking L-Theanine a half hour before bed can help you get better quality sleep. Dr. Oz says that it can shut off that constant chatter in your head that prevents you from falling asleep.

Boost white blood cell production by eating more oatmeal, barley, and shitake mushrooms. These foods contain high levels of Beta Glucans, which help fight disease. If you’re always run down and frequently sick, Beta Glucans will strengthen your immune system.