Monthly Archives: October 2012

Little-Known Facts About Soap

Beautiful Bars of Handmade SoapSoap is a common ingredient in every household. How many times each day do you use it? Most of us use it five to ten times each day, yet few of us pause to think much about it. The following facts may give you a new appreciation of and perspective on soap. It’s not just a bunch of bubbles!

For information on why soap is better than hand sanitizer, please read: Why You Should Never Use Hand Sanitizer.

Next Soap Making Class: November 16, Indianapolis

Did you know the following facts? Which ones do you find surprising?

These Facts May Surprise You

  • Soap was first used as a medicinal agent.
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  • The Egyptians regularly bathed, using a soap made by combining animal fats with wood ash.
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  • Real soap is created by combining a strong alkali (lye) with oils and fats.
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  • Real soap made with natural ingredients often has a healing effect on acne, eczema, psoriasis and other skin conditions.
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  • The soapmaking process, called “saponification,” separates the oils’ fatty acid bonds and combines them with molecules in the lye to form a salt. This salt is what we refer to as “soap.” (Yes, some salts are soft.)
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  • Most commercial soaps are not true soap, but are a combination of chemical detergents, artificial lathering agents and toxic chemicals.
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  • After a perfectly balanced saponification process finishes, the soap no longer contains lye or fat. Both are “consumed” during the saponification process.
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  • The best soapmakers add extra oils to their recipes. Doing so means some of the oils do not saponify and remain in the soap. This is called “superfatting” and creates a very moisturizing, nourishing bar of soap.
    Natural Handmade Soap. 
  • Glycerin, a natural moisturizer, is a natural product created during the soapmaking process. Commercial soap manufacturers remove the glycerin, replacing it with artificial detergents and other chemicals. This creates a soap that is very drying to the skin. Real, homemade soap retains the glycerin.
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  • A single bar of commercial bar soap may contain over 20 toxic ingredients, many of which have been connected to cancer, endocrine issues, skin problems and more.
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  • The lather, hardness and moisturizing qualities of a soap are dependent on the various oils used in the recipe.
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  • A simple, moisturizing soap can be made using nothing more than olive oil, lard and lye. This soap can be made using common kitchen equipment. Nothing special is needed!

Learn to make your own soap … it’s easy!

It is surprisingly simple to make your own soap. No special ingredients or equipment is needed. If the facts shared above make you want to learn how to make your own soap, stay tuned for my ebook and for upcoming classes on soapmaking.

Twenty Surprising Facts About Vitamin D

Vitamin DThe following facts about Vitamin D may surprise you:

  • Vitamin D is a hormone, not a vitamin. (This post refers to it as a “vitamin” because that is the common terminology used.)
  • Vitamin D is a powerful anti-inflammatory
  • 90-95% of Vitamin D is produced by the skin through sun exposure
  • The natural form of Vitamin D the skin produces is Vitamin D3 
  • The Vitamin D that is added to milk and other products is Vitamin D2, which is not well absorbed
  • Vitamin D is fat-soluble, meaning the body stores it 
  • Experts estimate that 1 billion people worldwide are deficient in Vitamin D
  • Vitamin D regulates more than 200 genes in the body
  • Grass fed beef contains Vitamin D3; mainstream beef does not
  • Vitamin D is a powerful immune booster
  • Studies proved 2000 IU/day is more effective than flu shots at preventing the flu
  • Vitamin D is known to protect against Rheumatoid Arthritis, Psoriasis, Multiple Sclerosis, and over 800 different cancers
  • It is very difficult to get adequate D3 through the diet
  • Ten to thirty minutes of unprotected sun exposure is the best way to boost levels
  • Pregnant women need twice as much Vitamin D as other people
  • Dark-skinned people typically do not produce Vitamin D well and are often deficient
  • The best test to check Vitamin D levels is the 25-hydroxy-vitamin D test
  • The 1,25-dihydroxy-vitamin D blood test is very inaccurate and may return false levels if D levels are low
  • The ideal range of D in the blood is 50-75 nmol/L. Higher and lower amounts may cause or worsen health challenges.
  • Deficiencies in Vitamin D have been connected to depression, inflammatory conditions, cancer, fatigue, digestive disorders, metabolic disorders, weight gain, headaches, bladder disorders, and much more

Do you take Vitamin D? I generally recommend starting with 2000-5000 IU of Vitamin D3 per day. Check your blood levels every three months, adjusting the dose as needed. The goal level of Vitamin D should be 50-75 nmol/L.

If you do not have a doctor, you can order a home test kit at: Vitamin D Home Test Kit

My passion is helping people improve their health by identifying and correcting nutritional deficiencies and other causes of illness. I have helped thousands of people improve their health, reverse symptoms and reduce their need for medication. If you are ready to improve your health, please contact me to schedule a consultation.

Surprising Facts About Insulin

Cells in the pancreas that produce insulin (Islets of Langerhans)

Insulin is an important hormone for everyone, whether they have diabetes or not. It performs many functions in the body that most people are completely unaware of. The purpose of this article is to show you how important insulin is and why you may need to start paying more attention to it. Unfortunately, we live in a society where many people’s cells have stopped absorbing the insulin their body produces. This insulin resistance creates a domino effect of negative consequences, even though many people never have elevated blood sugars. All of us have insulin resistance to some degree. The resistance is partially caused by aging, poor eating habits, lack of exercise, etc. However, it is very simple to regulate insulin production and insulin sensitivity. (The picture you see is a cross section of the beta cells of the pancreas that create insulin.)

Let’s get started! The following facts about insulin may surprise you.

Insulin is found in almost every life form, including single-celled creatures

Any chemical that is found in every life form on earth must be vitally important. For most single-celled organisms, insulin’s role is to control and advance aging. The older the life form becomes, the more insulin it produces. Insulin is therefore vitally connected to the aging process. When people become insulin resistant, causing their body to produce excess insulin, their cells age and deteriorate much more rapidly. Controlling insulin production and resistance is vital to slowing the aging process.

Insulin allows the body’s cells to store and create energy

We’ve all been convinced that insulin’s role is to lower blood glucose levels. Truth is, that is not insulin’s job. Insulin’s primary role in the body is to create energy. Plain and simple. The insulin your body creates should allow your cells to create energy. When cells become resistant to insulin, it means those cells can no longer create energy. Fatigue and exhaustion follow. This is why many people with insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome and diabetes are often so tired.

Insulin signals the body to store fat

Insulin is a fat storage hormone, especially when it is not absorbed by the body’s cells. Excess insulin in the blood stream tells the body to start storing as much fat as possible. This is why people with insulin resistance and diabetes often find it impossible to lose weight. It is also why people with those challenges often have extremely elevated cholesterol and triglyceride levels. It’s just that simple.

High cholesterol has a stronger connection to insulin than it does to fat consumption. I recently worked with a lady who came to me with a cholesterol reading of over 300 and a triglyceride level of over 1500. What did I do? I recommended an eating plan that was very low in carbohydrates and very high in healthy fats. (Yes. You read that right. I gave her body what it needed. A low fat diet does not help weight loss, nor does it improve coronary health.) She lost forty pounds in three months and had normal cholesterol and triglyceride levels within six weeks. Focusing on insulin instead of her blood lipids made the difference.

Insulin delivers magnesium

One of the most important jobs insulin fulfills is to carry magnesium into the cells. Experts currently estimate that seventy percent of the US population is magnesium deficient. There is a large probability this deficiency is not solely due to bad eating habits, but is also linked to insulin resistance. For information on the negative effects of magnesium deficiency, please read Why You Need More Magnesium.

One of magnesium’s jobs is to relax the blood vessels. A primary result of a low magnesium level is that blood vessels constrict and blood pressure rises. Over 80% of people with diabetes or insulin resistance also have high blood pressure. The connection is purely related to insulin. Unfortunately, the cells in blood vessels never become resistant to insulin. These cells continue absorbing all the insulin that is present. The excess insulin in the walls of the blood vessels makes them hard and predisposes them to being covered with plaque. Both of these factors create elevated blood pressure. Left untreated, these factors create serious heart disease. Few people speak about regulating insulin levels as a means of preventing and reversing coronary disease, but it is one of the simplest ways to improve heart health.

Insulin triggers hormones that create a feeling of fullness

Insulin is a hormone that tells the body when it’s time to stop eating. This makes perfect sense. As we eat a meal, our body releases insulin to turn that food into energy. As those insulin levels rise, it should trigger a feeling of fullness once a sufficient amount of food has been eaten. When the body stops absorbing insulin, it prevents the signal that tells the person it’s time to stop eating and allows people to eat far more than they need without feeling full. This is another reason why people with insulin resistance and diabetes have such a hard time losing weight. The key is to improve the body’s ability to absorb insulin. It is very simple to improve insulin sensitivity using lifestyle changes and sometimes a few inexpensive supplements.

Insulin lowers blood glucose levels

Last on the list is that insulin lowers blood sugar. Insulin’s least significant role in the body is lowering glucose levels. The fact is that elevated glucose is merely a nasty side effect of poor insulin metabolism.

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Do you deal with insulin resistance? Is this a new concept for you? Please share your thoughts in the comments section.

Please contact me at 317.489.0909 if you would like to start the process of  improving your health and slowing the aging process by improving your body’s ability to absorb insulin.

What People with Chronic Illness Wish You Knew

Heart

Most of us know someone with a chronic illness, but many people do not know how to support someone who has one. Assumptions and misconceptions about chronic conditions can create communication patterns that weaken relationships. Supporting your friend or family member will require strong communication along every step of the journey.

It is important to note that not all chronic conditions make someone look “sick.” Your friend or family member may look perfectly healthy. He or she may not feel bad every day, or may have physical and emotional issues that are not consistent. The fact the person does not look “sick” does not mean the condition does not exist. The fact you can’t see the condition or its effects does not mean it is imaginary. 

Here are my tips for supporting a friend or family member who has a chronic illness: 

Ask how you can best support your friend of family member

The simplest way to find out what sort of support your friend or family member needs is to ask, “How can I best support you today?” Note that the support he or she needs can vary from day to day, so stay on track by asking more than once a month. There may be days when your friend does not want to discuss the issue or acknowledge it exists. Respect that. Depending on the chronic condition being dealt with, your friend or family member may simply need encouragement and emotional support, or may need assistance with physical tasks. Find out specific ways you can provide support.

Note that some people with chronic illness want you to treat them as if they do not have a chronic illness. The best way to support and encourage your friend or family member may be to treat him or her the same way you treat everyone else. 

Learn about the chronic condition

Take time to learn about the condition your friend or family member is battling. Do some preliminary research, but discuss what you learned with the person you are trying to support. The information you found online may not paint a clear picture of the specific condition your friend is working to control and alleviate. Ask him or her to explain the condition to you. You may want to ask about how the condition affects him or her, how it impacts daily life, what the treatment options are, what testing was used to make the diagnosis, etc. 

Drop the pity

Your friend or family member needs your support, NOT your pity. Trust me that your friend or family member has grown to hate the pitying looks that come when someone learns of the health condition. Pity is offered in kindness, but it is not an empowering emotion. Pity dismisses the abilities and strengths of the person receiving it. Your friend or family member is still capable of providing value. Do not diminish that potential by offering pity instead of support.

Don’t make assumptions

Never assume anything. Most importantly, do not make assumptions about how the person feels emotionally. Do not assume you “know how the person feels.” You do not. Even if you have the same condition, you do not know how your friend or family member feels. Please never assume you do. It is also important to not assume your friend is not physically capable of performing tasks or attending social events. Always invite your friend to events and get-togethers. Never assume he or she won’t feel well enough to attend.

Gently intervene when necessary

Depression is a potential side effect of any chronic condition. If you believe your friend or family member is sinking into a depression, please encourage him or her to contact a health professional and to seek assistance.

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Do you have a chronic condition? Please share how you want your friends and family members to support you. Let’s help them help you! Please also feel free to share funny stories of support gone wrong. (I know you have them.)

I was able to write this post based on what I learned while dealing with chronic illnesses. I am blessed to say i was able to reverse most them, including Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, multiple auto-immune conditions and more. Please contact me at 317.489.0909 if you would like to start the process of conquering your own health challenges. Please visit my Classes page and my Free Downloads page to start equipping yourself.

 

Image courtesy of Q. Thomas Bower

Difference Between Bach Flower Remedies, Essential Oils and Herbal Tinctures

Healing Mosaic

Many people seem to have a difficult time distinguishing between Bach Flower Essences, Essential Oils and liquid Herbal Extracts. This is probably because these remedies are liquids and are packaged very similarly. In my practice, I use each of these, so I wanted to share information to help explain what each of these supplements is, how it is used, and how the remedy is made. Each description contains links to some of the most popular remedies of that type. Please consult a trained practitioner before using any of these remedies. As always, these statements have not been evaluated by the FDA, are shared for informational purposes only, and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Let’s go!

Bach Flower Remedies/Flower Essences

Dr. Edward Bach first began using flower essences in the 1930’s when he realized that his patients’ emotional state directly affected their ability to heal physically. Through his research, Dr. Bach identified 38 different negative emotional states and developed a flower remedy for each. Bach Flower Remedies are used to address emotional states such as depression, obsessiveness, bitterness, etc. The essences are made by infusing flower petals from specific flowers in brandy. (Non-alcoholic versions are available for children and pets.) The beauty of the flower essences is that they have a very gentle impact and do not interact with prescription medications. (The Bach flower remedies cannot be used with prescription Antibuse due to their alcohol content.)One of the most popular Bach Flower Remedies is Rescue Remedy, commonly used during times of extreme stress. Rescue Remedy is often used in emergencies to help people calm down. It is also known to be highly effective for pets who have separation anxiety or storm fear. (Pet Rescue Remedy is alcohol free and very effective.) I often find the Bach Flower Remedy Gorse to be very helpful when addressing long-term depression. Most practitioners use a specific set of written questions to identify which Bach Flower Remedies may be best for emotional issues and then create a customized blend in mineral water that is taken four times daily. It is very important to work with a trained practitioner when identifying which Bach Flower Remedy is best for specific issues. If you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, please read my post: Stop Seasonal Affective Disorder Now.

Essential Oils

Essential oils are the highly concentrated volatile aromatic oils that give plants their aromas. They are highly medicinal and can be used for physical issues and emotional issues. (The chemicals in essential oils can have very powerful and positive emotional effects because they cross the blood-brain barrier.) Essential oils are so versatile they also have culinary uses and a wide variety of uses for cleaning and scenting. The oils are distilled or pressed from the leaves, flowers, stems, barks, roots or seeds of a plant, tree or bush. Essential oils are highly concentrated and have such strong medicinal powers that they must always be diluted before use.
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Very few essential oils are suitable for internal use. There are a few applications that do not require dilution, and several essential oils that can be used internally, but only highly trained practitioners should use essential oils in those manners. Additionally, some essential oils can actually be harmful to health when incorrectly used. Please never use essential oils without consulting an expert or doing extensive research. (On a side note, I am aware there is a network marketing company which claims their essential oils are such high quality they can always be used internally and without dilution. I STRONGLY disagree with this company’s teachings and feel they encourage very dangerous usage of essential oils.)
The medicinal effects of essential oils can be gained through inhalation, balneotherapy (bathing), diffusion, massage, compresses, etc. Essential oils do smell good (most of them, at least) and can be used for scenting, but their potential extends far beyond that. My two favorite essential oils, which I consider “essential” for every home first aid kit, are Lavender and Tea Tree oil. For more information on essential oils and their uses, please read Hand Sanitizer Alternatives with Recipes.

Liquid Herbal Tinctures (Extracts)

Most people now use the term “tincture” to refer to any liquid herbal extract, but this term is actually incorrect. My definition is that a tincture is made using fresh plant materials and extracts are made using dried plant materials. However, everyone seems to have their own definition to distinguish between liquid tinctures and extracts. Since the term “tincture” is commonly used to refer to all liquid extracts, that’s the term I use in this post. Liquid herbal tinctures are concentrated forms of medicinal herbs that contain the beneficial properties of the herb extracted into a liquid. Tinctures are typically made by placing an herb or herbs in a natural solvent, such as alcohol, glycerin or vinegar, and allowing the mixture to infuse for three weeks or longer. The amounts of herb, solvent and water used are very specific and are dependent upon the herb being used. (Some herbs require higher amounts of solvent, some require lesser amounts.)
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It is actually very easy to make your own herbal tinctures. I make them frequently and love being able to make my own in the comfort of my kitchen. For detailed information on how to make herbal tinctures and other herbal products, I highly recommend reading Richo Cech’s book, Making Plant Medicine. The book provides ample information about herbs and provides detailed information about how to use herbs in a variety of ways. Herbal tinctures can be used for any and all conditions which are treated with herbs. They are typically taken internally, although some people use them topically in poultices. Some people even add anti-bacterial herbal tinctures to their neti pot. Why use an herbal tincture instead of drinking teas or taking capsules? Because a therapeutic dose of the desired herb can be obtained in a tiny amount of the tincture instead of having to eat pounds of the raw herb or drink gallons of tea. My personal preference is to use liquid tinctures instead of dried extracts in capsules because I believe they are stronger and because it avoids consuming “fillers” commonly used in capsuled products. Herbal tinctures can have a very strong taste, but diluting them in a bit of water or juice effectively modifies the taste.
Glycerites are herbal extracts made in glycerin  Glycerin is a very sweet vegetable liquid that is often used to make liquid herbal extracts for children. The glycerin is used so that the extracts taste good. The problem with glycerites is that (for most herbs) glycerin is not as strong a solvent as alcohol, which makes glycerites weaker in terms of their medicinal potential. However, glycerites are a good compromise for anyone who cannot tolerate the taste of alcohol tinctures. (For detailed information on one of my favorite herbal tinctures, Goldenseal, please read The Wonders of Goldenseal.)

Have you tried or used Bach Flower Remedies, Tinctures or Essential Oils? What was your expereince? Please share!

My passion is helping others improve their health using a natural approach to wellness. If you are interested in feeling better and reversing symptoms by addressing their cause, please feel free to contact me. I will work with you to help you reach your goals. I will not let you fail!

The most obvious conclusion I’ve drawn from writing this post is that I need to write many more posts about the uses of specific Bach Flower Remedies, essential oils and herbal extracts! Stay tuned for more!

Photo used by permission courtesy of LaWendula Photography