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Yoga and Detox, Meditating for a Healthier You

Written by Lisa Jillanza

You wake up 20 minutes after you hit your alarm clock to catch a few minutes of extra sleep. You barely had had 5 hours or sleep after coming home late after a grueling day at work. You jump out of bed realizing that you only have half an hour to shower, dress up and grab a piece of sandwich for breakfast. Not exactly the ideal way to start a day, isn't it?

If this is the typical normal morning routine for you then you should be alarmed. Today's society is exposed to large amount of toxins from taking in loads of toxins from processed foods, prescription drugs, air pollution and everyday stress. These toxins stay in the body until it wreaks havoc on your normal body processes.

The body is blessed with natural ways of coping with these toxins. Mechanisms such as perspiration, urination and normal bowel movement are just some of the ways we could get rid of built-up toxins. But the body can only take so much so what do you do when you've reached this level?

Toxins and Free Radicals

Before you can appreciate how yoga can help flush out these harmful substances, it is important that we first discuss what toxins are and what harm it can do to you.

The reason why toxins are so harmful to the body is because its presence help trigger the creation of free radicals. These are molecules that have a missing electron. These unstable molecules rob electrons from surrounding electrons making them unstable. This can cause damaged cells that lead to premature aging or decay.

If cell degeneration is not stopped early, this may lead to medical conditions such as arthritis, stroke, hypertension, arteriosclerosis and other immune disorders.

Getting rid of toxins naturally

The body has its own way of naturally getting rid of toxins. This is basically done through four or our major organs. These organs are the skin, liver, intestinal tract and kidneys. When you ingest toxins by consuming food or drinks for example, your digestive system brings these into the bloodstream. Once inside the bloodstream, these are picked up by the liver deactivating them consequently. Toxins that are not picked up are captured by the kidney. The rest are flushed out as perspiration or passed out together with our feces.

Detoxification and Yoga

Detoxification is the process of removing harmful toxins from the body. Your liver, kidneys, skin and bowels are mainly responsible for neutralizing these substances but what happens when they are overloaded with toxins?

A fantastic part of a detox regimen is the practice of meditative exercises that are said to stimulate the function of your internal organs. And one of the most practiced meditative exercises is Yoga. This is an ancient practice from India. It involves the performance of a series of methods and techniques that aims to achieve optimum physical and mental health.

The branch of Yoga called “Hatha Yoga” in particular is a great exercise system for those who aim to detoxify their bodily systems. It provides detoxification by helping rid the digestive, cardiovascular, lymphatic, pulmonary and epidermal systems of toxins and waste. Hatha Yoga may also stimulate brain function and balances the nervous and endocrine system. This results in a greater sense of well-being, increased mental clarity and emotional stability.

How Yoga Detoxifies

Hatha Yoga is said to detoxify through the practice of Yoga poses or “Asanas,” breathing techniques or “Pranayamas,” hand gestures or “Mudras” and energy locks or “Bandhas.” Yoga poses of Hatha Yoga reportedly free up blockages and obstacles that hinder energy flow in the body.

Hatha Yoga may teach you powerful detoxification techniques and poses that help increase oxygenated blood flow to the brain, relax and cleanse the body and calm the mind of stress and worries. Every part of our body is turned, twisted, pulled, pushed and upended in a well-rounded Yoga practice. This is said to facilitate the removal of waste products like lactic acid, lymphatic acid and carbon dioxide that no other exercise or regimen could reach. These Yogic poses and techniques help push your body to heal itself and make it strong and pliable. Because of the said effects to healing, many health centers and spas consider it as an integral part in managing lifestyle diseases and detoxification.

Detox for a longer, more productive life

Detoxification is essential to prolong and improve the quality of life. If you live a hectic, toxic lifestyle then now is the time to change. Ask your nearest gym or fitness center for yoga classes so you could get more information about the types of Yoga practices.

As much as possible, lessen exposure to pollutants and chemicals found in processed foods, smoke, cleaning agents and the like. Stick to fresh, pesticide-free produce like organic fruits and vegetables. Avoid complicated beverages that are packed with sugars and artificial ingredients and stick with plain water or natural juices.

Train yourself to stop worrying or thinking too much about things. Approach every problem or situation systematically and if there is nothing you could do about it, then don't stress yourself about it. Changing your outlook into a positive one contributes greatly to an effective detoxification program.

Natural Health Systems: Ayurvedic Medicine

Written by Lisa Jillanza

Ayurveda or the “science of life” is a system of traditional medical practices which was developed in ancient India. The practice of Ayurvedic medicine is included in the list of complementary and alternative medicine in the United States. Individual practices found in Ayurvedic medicine are applied in medical treatments such as the use of herbs, special diets, meditation and therapeutic massage techniques.

The purpose of Ayurvedic medicine is to maintain the optimum balance between the mind, body and spirit. It aims to provide a more holistic approach to treatment by not only healing the physical body but also spiritual and emotional needs of the person. This is done by a series of practices to help cleanse the body, mind and spirit to reestablish balance and harmony.

Practice in India

Ayurvedic medicine is widely used in India, 80 percent of the country's population currently uses it with conventional Western medicine in providing medical treatment to patients. The country maintains colleges and hospitals in major cities that cater to this type of alternative medicine.

The practice of Ayurvedic medicine is mainly based on information found in two ancient books. Texts written in Sanskrit on the Caraka Samhita and Sushruta Samhita book form the basis of Ayurvedic medicine practice. The books divide Ayurvedic medicine into eight main branches which are internal medicine, gynecology and pediatrics, surgery, psychiatry, treatment of head and neck diseases, care of the elderly and rejuvenation, toxicology and sexual vitality.


Treatment and Management

The aim of Ayurvedic medicine is to ultimately cleanse the patient's body of impurities to provide cure and relief from the different symptoms of a disease. It promotes a healthier lifestyle by restoring harmony in mind and body. This is done through the different Ayurvedic medicine practices which include the following:

  • Reducing worry and increasing harmony

The practice of Ayurvedic medicine places great stress in a person's mental and spiritual state. Emphasis on mental and meditation relaxation techniques are done to reduce the level of stress on the person's mind and body, allowing them to live a more harmonious life.

  • Reducing symptoms

Various lifestyle changes are introduced by the practitioner to eliminate symptoms. This includes the use of physical exercises, meditation, massage, breathing exercises, stretching and dietary changes to introduce lifelong changes in health habits. Examples of dietary changes exclusive to Ayurvedic medicine is taking in minute amounts of metals and minerals such as iron to the diet.

  • Eliminating impurities

“Panchakarma” is the method of cleansing the body by removing “ama.” This substance is described as one which interferes with the normal functioning of the body by sticking to the tissues which causes disease. “Ama” is driven out by a series of treatments and exits the patient's body via the digestive and respiratory system.

  • Increasing resistance to disease

Decreasing the patient's susceptibility to a disease is done with the use of a wide range of treatments. Different Ayurvedic practices include the use of tonics like proteins, vitamins, minerals and herbs to increase appetite and boost immunity.

Use of Herbs and Plants

The “pharmacy” of Ayurvedic medicine currently lists more than 600 formulas and 250 single plant drugs. They provide patient's relief from numerous medical conditions or promote health. Plants and herbs are divided into categories with regards to their effects on the patient. Herbs and plants are sometimes mixed with metals to produce their desired effects.

Toxicity and overdose are the main dangers of using Ayurvedic medicines. Because some types of Ayurvedic medicines use metals in combination with herbs and plants the danger of toxicity is great. These medications are not considered as drugs but dietary supplements, thus they don't fall under the scrutiny of conventional medicines.

“An NCCAM-funded study published in 2004 found that of 70 Ayurvedic remedies purchased over-the-counter (all manufactured in South Asia), 14 contained lead, mercury, and/or arsenic at levels that could be harmful. Also in 2004, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 12 cases of lead poisoning occurring over a recent 3-year period were linked to the use of Ayurvedic medications.” National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine NCCAM

Heal Your Sunburn the Natural Way

Written by Lisa Jillanza

Now that spring is in full bloom and summer is just around the corner, it's time again for some fun and sun. And while sunshine can be quite enjoyable, it can also wreak havoc on your skin and can potentially cause a pretty nasty sunburn.

Not only do sunburns hurt but they cause a great deal of damage to your skin that can be potentially long lasting and dangerous. According to Mothernature.com the redness of a sunburn is caused by clogged and swollen capillaries that supply blood to the skin. Severe sunburns are caused by ultraviolet rays in sunlight which can destroy elastic fibers in the skin causing sagging, wrinkling and can also lead to skin cancer.

Prevention is always best. In order to prevent sunburns, try heading outdoors before 10 a.m. or after 2 p.m. when the ultraviolet rays are less intense. And always wear sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher.

If it's too late and the damage has already been done, you may also want to try some of these ways to heal your sunburn naturally: Use Vitamin E- While there are plenty of sunburn remedies that you can buy over-the-counter, just look in your cabinet for any lotion that contains vitamin E and aloe vera. The vitamin E and aloe vera add nutrients back into the skin that the UV rays have left unbalanced. The aloe vera also gives the cooling effect that is much needed for that sunburn.

An Oatmeal Bath- Found on MSNBC.com take a lukewarm bath with 1 cup added ground oatmeal (grind it with a mortar and pestle; instant oatmeal works fine), 1 cup whole milk, 2 tablespoons honey, and 2 tablespoons aloe vera gel. Oatmeal is anti-inflammatory, honey is antiseptic, milk's proteins and fats soothe skin, and aloe numbs pain. Afterward, moisturize with a cream containing hydrating shea butter and aloe.

Soothing Foods- Check the kitchen cupboard and the refrigerator. Items like vinegar, mustard, yogurt, tomatoes and avocados all contain extra vitamin E and will help to relieve the burn just as any cream or lotion would.

Oils- Try Lavender Essential Oil. When used in conjunction with aloe vera, the oil helps to promote new skin growth and heals first degree burns.

Opt for Green Tea- Green tea is perfect for reducing the swelling of the skin associated with sunburns, as well as taking out the sting of the burn. To make the green tea compress, bring a pot of tea to boil then pour it over 1 teaspoon of loose green tea. Cover and let it sit for 5 minutes and then mix with an equal amount of cold water. Once the mixture is cooled, soak a clean cloth in it and put it on the sunburned skin for five to ten minutes. This can be applied several times a day.

Milk- Found on Mothernature.com the fat content of milk is soothing, so milk makes a great compress for sunburn pain, says John F. Romano, M.D. clinical assistant professor of dermatology at Cornell Medical Center in New York City. His instructions: Dip some gauze in whole milk and apply it to sunburned areas for about 20 minutes, repeating this process every two to four hours. Be sure to wash off the milk to avoid having your skin smell sour.

Baking Soda- A baking soda bath is great for soothing a sunburn. Add one cup of baking soda to a tub filled with lukewarm (94° to 98°F) water and soak for 30 minutes to an hour, using a cup to pour the water over any part of the body that isn't submerged in the bath. Pat dry. Cool down- Take a cool bath with 1 cup of black tea and 1 cup of apple cider vinegar to the bath water. The black tea helps to reduce the swelling and the apple cider vinegar helps to soothe the pain.

Whatever natural method you decide to go with to treat your next sunburn, be sure to treat the burn right away. Prolonging the treatment of the burn will only prolong the agony of the pain, so take care of your burn on day one.


Health and Acupuncture

Written by Lisa Jillanza

acupuncture image If you haven't tried it yourself, you've probably met somebody who has or have seen pictures. What seems like a million tiny needles protruding from strategic locations on a patient, lying prostrate and relaxed on a table despite what looks to be a fairly uncomfortable procedure. It may look a bit intimidating but acupuncture is one of the oldest healing practices in the world. Over the past two decades the correlation between health and acupuncture has been studied and practiced in the Western world and has grown increasingly popular, especially in the United States.

The practice which originated in China thousands of years ago, involves the insertion of extremely thin needles through the skin, to various depths at strategic points on your body. And although Western scientists may not fully understand how or why this holistic method of healing works, studies indicate that it may provide a number of medical benefits including pain reduction and relief from chemotherapy-induced nausea.

How acupuncture works According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, acupuncture is based on the concept that disease results from disruption in the flow of the life force called chi and an imbalance in the forces of yin and yang. Health results from a harmonious balance between yin and yang. Chi is believed to flow through pathways (meridians) in your body. These meridians and the energy flow are accessible through more than 350 acupuncture points. Illness results from an imbalance of the forces. Inserting needles into these points in various combinations will re-balance energy flow.

The Mayo clinic website asserts that Western medicine has its own explanation, stating that acupuncture incorporates modern concepts of neuroscience. Many practitioners view the acupuncture points as places to stimulate nerves, muscles and connective tissue. This stimulation appears to boost the activity of your body's natural painkillers and increase blood flow.

What exactly happens during an acupuncture session? Acupuncture usually involves a series of weekly or biweekly treatments in an outpatient setting. Each visit typically includes an exam with an assessment of current condition, the needle insertion and a follow-up discussion on self-care tips.

You'll lie down on a comfortable surface. Depending on where the needles are to go, you will lie face down, face up or on your side before the needles are inserted. The needles used in acupuncture are metallic, solid, and hair-thin. As with anything, different people experience acupuncture differently. But most patients feel no or minimal pain as the needles are inserted. Some people feel energized by treatment, while others feel relaxed. Improper needle placement, movement of the patient during the procedure, or a defect in the needle can cause soreness and pain during treatment. It is vitally important to seek treatment from a qualified acupuncture practitioner.

As many as a dozen needles may need to be placed for each treatment. Once the needles are inserted, they're usually left in place for five to 20 minutes. After placement, the needles are sometimes moved gently or stimulated with electricity or heat.

Who can benefit from acupuncture? Acupuncture is useful as a stand-alone treatment for many conditions, but it's also used in conjunction with more conventional Western medical treatments. For example, doctors may combine acupuncture and drugs to control pain and nausea after surgery.

Preliminary studies indicate that acupuncture may offer symptomatic relief for a variety of diseases and conditions including low back pain, headaches, fibromyalgia, migraines and osteoarthritis. In addition, research has shown that acupuncture can help manage postoperative dental pain and alleviate chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. It has also been shown to offer relief for chronic menstrual cramps and tennis elbow.

According to the NCCAM website, a 2007 National Health Interview Survey estimated 3.1 million U.S. adults and 150,000 children had used acupuncture in the previous year. Between the 2002 and 2007 survey, acupuncture use among adults increased by three-tenths of 1 percent which is approximately 1 million people.

Pros and Cons As with any medical therapy, acupuncture has benefits and risks. Here are a few benefits:

Acupuncture is safe when performed properly. It has few side effects. It can be useful as a complement to other treatment methods. It's becoming more available in conventional medical settings. It helps control certain types of pain. It may be an alternative if you don't respond to or don't want to take pain medications.

Acupuncture may not be safe if you have a bleeding disorder or if you're taking blood thinners. The most common side effects of acupuncture are soreness, bleeding or bruising at the needle sites. If needles are reused, infectious diseases may be accidentally transmitted. However, these risks can be avoided in the hands of a competent, certified acupuncture practitioner. So it's important to do your homework when locating a practitioner.

Whether you're in tune with your body's chi and/or median zones, the correlation between health and acupuncture is interesting and impressive. Check it out if you're inclined. With a rich history rooted in thousands of years of practice, acupuncture is no longer for only the adventurous or ultra-health conscious.