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Health Benefits of Laughter

A clown is like an aspirin, only he works twice as fast.
                                                                           ~ Groucho Marx

Is laughter truly the best medicine? We all know we feel better after a good laugh, but is there any scientific proof to explain why? There is! Laughter has so laughterjpg Health Benefits of Laughtermany health benefits – both physical and emotional – there are several healing and therapy programs based on laughter. These programs are each based on studies supporting the therapeutic use of humor and laughter:

  • Laughter Yoga:  Uses laughter, breathing techniques and more to help alleviate a wide array of different challenges. 
  • Rx Laughter:  A national organization that helps children’s hospitals incorporate humor and laughter into the lives of children with terminal illness. The program was created after a study proved healing rates were higher for children who laughed more.
  • Humor or Laughter Therapy:  A therapy program that uses humor and laughter to alleviate pain and stress. This therapy is endorsed by the American Cancer Society and is used in many cancer centers across the US. The Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor is a not-for-profit organization that promotes humor therapy and provides training in its use. 

Laughter benefits physical and emotional health in a variety of ways. A few of the benefits of laughter include:

  • Reduces Stress Hormones:  Laughter has been shown to decrease the levels of cortisol, epinephrine and adrenaline in our blood. All of these hormones may negatively affect other hormone levels and are associated with increased muscle tension, elevated glucose levels, higher blood pressure and more.
  • Increases Feel Good Hormones:  Laughter increases the production of serotonin, endorphins and other neurotransmitters known to improve mood and make us feel more optimistic.
  • Boosts Immunity:  Laughter has been found to increase the production of a variety of cells the bodies uses to fight viruses, bacteria and other pathogens. In the mouth, laughter increases the production of Salivary Immunoglobulin A, a chemical that helps protect against respiratory infections. Laughter also increases the production of “killer” T Cells, Gamma Interferon, and various types of white blood cells called “lymphocytes.” The body uses all of those cells to kill or defend against pathogens such as bacteria and viruses.
  • Boosts Circulation and Increases Cellular Oxygenation:  A five-year study conducted by the University of Leeds School of Healthcare found patients with leg ulcers experienced more rapid healing from daily laughter sessions than from more expensive mainstream treatments. Although there is a wide variety of reasons why patients who laugh frequently heal more rapidly, the researchers concluded laughter increased the amount of oxygen in the blood stream and healing was faster as a result. Laughter is actually a mild form of exercise. It gets muscles moving in the abdomen, face and neck and temporarily increases heart rate. These effects all increase the amount of oxygen in the blood stream.
  • Strengthens the Diaphragm:  Laughing is especially good for the diaphragm, a muscle through which the esophagus, aorta, vena cava, vagus nerve and other major organs and vessels pass. The diaphragm also plays an important role in breathing. Stimulating the diaphragm and keeping it well exercised are key to maintaining overall health and wellness.
  • Relaxes Muscles:  Because laughter reduces stress hormones and increases feel good hormones, it relaxes muscles from head to toe. A good, hearty laugh may be the best remedy for tension.
  • Lowers Pain Levels:  Laughing stimulates the body to release endorphins and other chemicals which are natural pain relievers. Endorphins affect and diminish our perception of pain, providing pain relief that is as effective as morphine or codeine.
  • Improves Digestion:  Laughing while eating causes the releases of digestive enzymes that improve digestion and absorption. This is one reason eating with friends who make you laugh can directly improve your digestion.
  • Improves Cognitive Function:  Studies found that students who were able to laugh while learning remembered the material longer and had higher test scores than those who did not. Teachers could improve student performance by incorporating humor into their lesson plans.
  • Helps the Body Detoxify:  The act of laughing constricts a wide variety of muscles. The movement of those muscles stimulates the flow of lymphatic fluid in the body, which in turn helps the body eliminate toxins. For more information on the lymphatic system, please read Important Information About the Lymphatic System.
  • Releases Emotional Stress:  Laughter is the ultimate reset button. It releases negativity and provides a break in the midst of stressful situations. The fact laughter also stimulates the production of “feel good” hormones strengthens its effectiveness as a stress reliever.

The bottom line is that taking time to laugh every day can dramatically improve health and wellness. I encourage you to surround yourself with people who make you laugh, make an effort to make others laugh, maintain a list of funny videos and books that crack you up, and take advantage of every opportunity you have to laugh. In other words, go giggle!

The Alkalinity Myth

One of the current fads in natural health is an obsessive fixation on keeping the body’s fluids alkaline. Proponents of achieving ph The Alkalinity Mythextreme alkalinity claim it improves health in dramatic ways. Some even claim an extremely alkaline pH will reverse disease. These extreme claims are not 100% accurate. The scientific truth about alkalinity needs to be shared.

Most people who live the “alkaline lifestyle” do indeed have health improvements. Their health progress is not, however, due to having an internal alkaline pH. I discuss that in more detail later in this post.

Let’s chat a little bit about the pH scale. The pH scale is a scale that rates whether a substance is acidic or basic. The scale ranges from 0 (highly basic) to 14 (highly acidic). Seven is considered neutral.

Here are important facts to consider related to alkalinity and acidity:

  • The pH of different body systems, fluids and tissues varies greatly and changes constantly. For example, the stomach’s pH is very acidic because our digestive enzymes require acidity to function correctly. Blood is almost neutral, while urine and saliva should be slightly acidic. To assume a body is out of balance by solely measuring the pH of one body fluid is inaccurate and deceptive. The foods we eat affect our urine’s pH but do not affect our blood’s pH. It is therefore inaccurate to assume a person’s body tissues or blood are acidic simply because his or her urine is.
  • The pH of blood is ideally 7.35-7.45, which is essentially neutral. The body considers the pH of blood to be so important it will do anything necessary to stabilize it. Blood acidity is usually caused by physiological imbalances such as renal failure, breathing challenges, diabetes, etc., not the food we eat. If the blood’s pH becomes overly acidic, the body’s most common method of alkalizing it is via the kidneys. The premise that acidic blood is alkalized by pulling minerals from the bones is absolutely false and was proven false by scientific studies. Although eating foods which are considered acidic does increase the excretion of calcium in the urine, that calcium comes from the kidneys not from the bones. The kidneys play the most important role in maintaining the blood’s pH. 
  • Cancer can indeed grow in an alkaline environment. One of the most common reasons used to support the alkaline lifestyle is that is prevents cancer. The truth is that cancer can grow in an alkaline environment. Most cancer studies are actually done in environments that are alkaline because the cancer cells respond favorably to it. Tumors grow better in an acidic environment, but that is because they create their own acids in which they thrive. The premise that cancer will not grow in an alkaline environment is patently false. Cancer prevention hinges on many different factors, not solely on maintaining an alkaline pH.
  • Drinking “alkaline” water is pointless because the stomach’s acidic environment immediately makes the water acidic. Please do not spend money on water touted as being “highly alkaline.” I know many people claim alkaline water has miraculous healing potential, but that simply is not true. Belief has a strong effect on health, so those who believe alkaline water is beneficial may experience a placebo effect.
  • Excessive alkalinity can actually be as damaging than excessive acidity. People with extremely alkaline body systems often experience digestive disturbances, frequent urinary tract infections and other health challenges. Once they stop their extreme eating style and the consumption of alkalizing supplements, these challenges disappear.

The foods we eat may positively impact our body’s health. The most healthful choice we can make is to eat in a way that is clean, void of chemicals and which ensures the highest level of nutrition. I know many people claim an alkaline eating style reverses disease. The truth is that changing to an alkaline eating style creates many physiological changes that improve the body’s environment and may enable the body to reverse damage. An alkaline eating style typically increases a person’s consumption of vegetables and fruit while decreasing the person’s consumption of processed foods, grains, dairy and chemical additives. These changes can all have a beneficial effect on health, regardless of what the person’s internal pH is.

I therefore believe the benefits claimed to be gained by following a strictly alkaline eating style have more to do with the nutritional and detoxifying results gained by eating a clean, whole food diet than from increasing alkalinity. Many people following an alkaline eating style continue having acidic readings of their saliva and urine but experience health benefits in spite of that. The truth is that moderation is always the best path. Extremes in any eating style have the potential to lead to problems.

I”d like to hear your opinion. What do you think about alkalinity?

Supplements in Tablet, Capsule or Liquid Form: Which is Best?

One of the most common questions I’m asked is whether it’s best to take a supplement in a tablet, capsule or liquid. The supplements Supplements in Tablet, Capsule or Liquid Form: Which is Best?truth is that the form the supplement was made probably will not affect its absorption in someone with a healthy digestive tract. The importance of taking the most easily absorbed and digested supplement is increased for those with a digestive disorder.

Before I discuss the different forms of supplements, let’s chat a little bit about supplements in general. My preference is to use supplements which are sourced from food. These are often referred to as “whole food” supplements. These supplements use food – usually a fruit or vegetable – as the source of the nutrient(s) they contain. Even though the supplement is sourced from food, it is important to note that whole food supplements are still fermented and processed.

The best source of nutrients is always organic foods. My belief is that supplements should only be used to correct deficiencies, provide large amounts of a specific nutrient to correct an imbalance, or to receive nutrients which are difficult to obtain from food. (Vitamin D is one example of a nutrient that is difficult to obtain in high amounts from food.) Supplements also sometimes provide nutrients in a more concentrated form than is available from food, which may be necessary to help the body reverse physical challenges. A simple example is that a medium orange contains approximately 70 mg of Vitamin C. This means someone who has been advised to take 5000 mg of Vitamin C daily would need to eat 71 oranges per day to achieve that amount of Vitamin C. That is obviously not practical. The bottom line is that taking handfuls of pills every day is never healthy. Supplements should only be used when needed and many should only be used on the advice of a trained professional.

The most important facets of selecting a supplement include how pure the ingredients are and how well the supplement will be absorbed. Please only use supplements which do not contain a lot of fillers, artificial ingredients, artificial sweeteners or high amounts of sugar. Always read the “Other Ingredients” section of the label to identify what additional non-therapeutic ingredients were used to make the supplement.

Absorption is important. If the supplement cannot or will not be absorbed, the person taking it will receive no benefit from taking it. Digestive disorders are the primary cause of malabsorption. but the form the supplement is in can sometimes affect absorption. The adage, “You are what you eat,” needs to be changed to, “You are what you absorb.”

When discussing absorption, let me also say that seeing a change in urine color does NOT always mean the supplement is not being absorbed. Some nutrients, such as Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), create brightly colored waste material when they are metabolized and absorbed. Having neon yellow urine after taking a B vitamin is actually a very good sign the vitamin was indeed absorbed and well metabolized. On the other side of the spectrum, seeing whole tablets in one’s stools means the supplement was not well digested or absorbed. For more information on healthy digestion, please read Top Six Ways to Maximize Digestion.

The table that follows provides an overview of the pros and cons of the various forms of supplements:

Supplement Form Advantages Disadvantages
Liquid/Powder mixed with water
  • Very easily absorbed. Some nutrients may be partially absorbed while in the mouth and stomach.
  • Are typically more expensive.
  • Powders may be a bit inconvenient.
  • Liquids may need to be refrigerated.
  • May contain sugars or artificial sweeteners. Read labels carefully.
  •  Easily absorbed, but not as easily absorbed as a liquid. Most softgels take 10-20 minutes to dissolve.
  • Easy to take and transport.
  • The ingredients used to make the softgel case may include toxic chemicals.
  • Typically more expensive.
  • The oil used inside the softgel may be non-organic GMO soy.
  • Often become soft and sticky and may burst in hot conditions.
  • More rapidly digested and absorbed than a tablet, but slower than a liquid. (Typically takes about 10-20 minutes for the capsule to dissolve and release the contents.)
  • Easy to take and transport.
  • Usually very inexpensive.
  • The ingredients used to make the capsule may include toxic chemicals.
  • Most capsules contain “fillers,” some of which may be undesirable. Many fillers are solely used so the supplement powder easily flowd through the manufacturing equipment. Try to find capsules that do not include fillers.
Chewable Tablets
  • Easy to take.
  • May be more easily absorbed than tablets.
  • Most taste great.
  • Easy to take and transport.
  • The ingredients used to make the chewable may include toxic chemicals.
  • Most chewables contain sugars or artificial sweeteners. Read labels carefully.
  • Higher risk of overdose if children or pets are in the home.
  • Usually higher priced than other forms.
Tablets or Pills
  • Usually the least expensive option. 
  • Easy to take and transport.
  •  Longest time to digest and absorb of any form.
  • “Time release” tablets may never completely dissolve, meaning most of the supplement will wind up in the toilet.
  • Higher choking risk.
  • Most tablets are made up of fillers which may include undesirable ingredients.
  • Tablets have to be heat-treated to be formed. Heat treatment may lessen the potency of some nutrients.

My preference when recommending a supplement is to choose the liquid form first, then a capsule, then a tablet. I try to avoid tablets completely, but that is not always possible. 

What’s your favorite form of supplement? Did any of this information surprise you?



How Many Milligrams of Vitamin C are in Oranges?

Top 10 Posts to Read on Vacation

I am a big fan of vacations. I’m on one now, as a matter of fact. I therefore wanted to focus on articles that are funvacation Top 10 Posts to Read on Vacation or which focus on topics suitable for vacation. Kick back, grab a frosty beverage, and enjoy.


sunicon2small Top 10 Posts to Read on VacationEleven Ways to be a Jerk at the Gym:  A fun and humorous look at various ways to make everyone else at the gym hate you.



sunicon2small Top 10 Posts to Read on VacationShining Light on the Truth About Sun Exposure:  This article reveals the myths that exist about sun exposure and shares the truth.



sunicon2small Top 10 Posts to Read on VacationHealing Truths I Learned on My Motorcycle:  Healing and motorcycle riding have more in common than you may think. Read about the similarities here. You may even learn some valuable life skills.




sunicon2small Top 10 Posts to Read on VacationNatural Sunscreen Recipe:  Learn how to make your own very effective sunscreen using all-natural ingredients. By making your own, you can avoid the use of toxic ingredients and nano particles.



sunicon2small Top 10 Posts to Read on Vacation


Break the Bondage of Negativity and Set Yourself Free:  An especially pertinent article for anyone who struggles with poor or overly negative self-image issue. Shares simple strategies for viewing yourself without judgment.



sunicon2small Top 10 Posts to Read on VacationHow Motorcycle Riding Improves Physical Health:  Believe it or not, riding a motorcycle is a form of exercise known to have powerful health benefits. This article shares facts about the benefits of motorcycle riding.



sunicon2small Top 10 Posts to Read on VacationHow to Live Abundantly with Diabetes:  Although these trips are aimed at people with diabetes, the powerful lessons in this article can be applied to anyone in any situation.




sunicon2small Top 10 Posts to Read on VacationSimple Marinara Recipe:  This light, delicious recipe makes a meal to be treasured. The recipe uses ingredients which can be easily found at any farmer market or local grocery.




sunicon2small Top 10 Posts to Read on VacationPerfect Smoothie Formula:  Use this formula to make perfect smoothies every time. This guide can be used on vacation to request power blends for any snack or meal.




sunicon2small Top 10 Posts to Read on VacationTop 11 Low-Carb Breakfasts:  Use these great suggestions to ensure you eat a nutritious breakfast that is not overly high in carbohydrates.

Perfect Smoothie Formula

Smoothies are a great way to pack a lot of nutrition into a small package. They are also a potential way of packing an excess of sugar and other unhealthy smoothie1 Perfect Smoothie Formulaingredients into a tiny serving. (Please read The Joy of Fruitless Smoothies for more information on how to create smoothies having zero glycemic impact.)

Here are my top five recommendations to keep smoothies healthy:

  • Don’t add too much fruit or other sugar-packed or artificial ingredients.
  • Always add at least one serving of dark leafy greens or other vegetables.
  • Freeze your fruit or make ice cubes out of organic dairy or milk alternative, veggie juice or herbal tea to avoid needing to use ice cubes made out of unpurified water.
  • Use filler veggies such as cucumbers or zucchini to add bulk without adding sugar, taste or calories.
  • Use a liquid that provides more nutritional value than water. More information on that is shared below.

Here is my Perfect Smoothie Formula. After the formula, I share more details on unique ingredients to use for each part of the formula:

Good Works Wellness Perfect Smoothie Formula

For a perfect smoothie, combine the following:

  1. 1 portion of a thickener
  2. 1-2 portions of liquid
  3. 1-2 portions of dark, leafy greens or “filler” vegetables
  4. 1/2 portion of healthy fat
  5. 1 serving of protein
  6. Optional: 1 portion of low-glycemic impact fruit
  7. Optional: Other enhancements as desired

Ideas for each part of the formula follow. Please note most ingredients in the formula – other than the liquid – are optional. All ingredients referenced are organic. Some ingredients appear more than once throughout the list of options. Please only choose each ingredient once. Please also note this formula typically creates two servings.

To create your smoothie, select your desired ingredients. Add the liquid to the blender first, followed by the other ingredients, sliced and diced as needed. Blend well and serve.

1.  Thickener Options

  • 1/2 a banana (if there is no need to keep the smoothie low glycemic)
  • 1 avocado
  • 1/2 – 1 cup organic chia seeds (allow to soak 5-10 minutes before blending)
  • 1/2 cup of oats
  • 1/2 cup nut butter
  • 1/2 cup ground psyllium seed (allow to soak for 5-10 minutes before blending)
  • 1/2 cup ground flax seed (keep refrigerated to ensure the fats don’t go rancid)
  • 1/2 cup organic yogurt (dairy or dairy and soy-free)

2.  Liquid Options

  • Aloe vera juice (use conservatively, as this can have a laxative effect)
  • Coconut water
  • Water or Dairy Kefir
  • Kombucha (limit if Candida is an issue – read Why Kombucha and Candida Don’t Mix for more info)
  • Yogurt (dairy or non-dairy)
  • Green Tea or other herbal tea
  • Milk alternative (almond, coconut, hemp, etc.)
  • Vegetable juice
  • On a wild and crazy day … coffee!

These liquid supplements may also be added in much smaller portions. Please be careful to use the recommended amount:

  • Herbal extracts
  • Colloidal Silver
  • Bach Flower Remedies
  • Chlorophyll
  • Trace minerals
  • Any other liquid vitamin, mineral or supplement

3.  Dark Leafy Green and Filler Vegetable Options

  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Beet, Mustard, Collard, Turnip or other greens
  • Radicchio
  • Romaine
  • Mesclun
  • Arugula
  • Swiss Chard
  • Bok Choy
  • Broccoli (chop finely)
  • Cucumbers
  • Zucchini
  • Peppers of any color, sweet or spicy     smoothie2 Perfect Smoothie Formula
  • Tomatoes
  • Summer Squash

4.  Healthy Fat Options

  • 1-3 tablespoons organic extra virgin coconut oil
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup nut or seed butter
  • 1/4-1/2 cup nuts (walnuts, pecans, almonds, cashews, pistachios, etc.)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup seeds (sunflower, chia, flax, hemp, sesame, etc.)
  • 1 avocado
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup Tahini

5.  Protein Options

  • 1 serving protein powder (I recommend avoiding a soy-based powder.)
  • 1-2 organic eggs
  • 1/2 cup nuts, seeds or nut/seed butter
  • 1 serving spirulina
  • 1 avocado
  • 1/2 cup quinoa (cooked or raw)
  • 1/2 cup sprouted beans or lentils (or cooked)
  • Organic dairy kefir or yogurt

6.  Low Glycemic Impact Fruit Options

Adding fruit is completely optional and is NOT a necessity. Use less than one cup if you choose to add it.

  • 1/2 cup any form of berries
  • 1/2 apple or pear
  • 1/2 grapefruit
  • 1 cup cherries (raw, not canned)
  • 1 pear (raw, not canned)
  • 1 orange

7.  Optional Enhancements

 Any of the following can be added as optional enhancements. Please follow label instructions for supplements:

  • 1 serving green powder
  • 1 serving bentonite clay
  • 1 serving liquid B complex 
  • Herbal extract(s)
  • Bach Flower Remedies
  • Spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, turmeric, Himalayan sea salt, etc.
  • Stevia
  • Colloidal Silver
  • 1/4-1/2 cup kefir grains or probiotic grains
  • 1/4-1/2 cup fermented fruits or veggies

Most Commonly Overlooked Causes of Insomnia

Chronic insomnia is a fairly common problem, but it is often addressed by prescribing a sleep medication instead of finding insomnia2 Most Commonly Overlooked Causes of Insomniaand addressing the cause of the insomnia. In my opinion, it is imperative to identify and address the cause of sleep disturbances instead of merely patching the symptom. I support the use of sleep medications on a short-term basis during times of insomnia and if other remedies have not been effective, but most of those medications have serious side effects and should only be used when absolutely necessary.

We’re all familiar with transient insomnia caused by excess caffeine consumption, stress, grief, pain, etc. Chronic insomnia is characterized by insomnia that lasts for at least a month but which may stretch on for years. Per the National Institutes of Health, most cases of chronic insomnia are side effects of other health problems which may or may not have been diagnosed and addressed.

There are a wide variety of issues that can cause prolonged bouts of insomnia. The list that follows describes some of the most commonly missed causes of insomnia. When possible, I discuss how to identify these causes and how to address them.

The following causes of insomnia are rarely considered when someone has insomnia:

  • Blood Sugar Fluctuations:  The body has an amazing desire to maintain stable blood glucose levels. Its desire to maintain normal blood sugars is strong enough that it will not allow someone to fall asleep who has a low or high blood sugar. It is also very normal for people with a low or high blood sugar to wake up and not be able to fall back asleep until their sugar is at a normal level. Eating a snack before bed that contains low glycemic carbohydrates combined with protein can sometimes help avoid overnight blood sugar drops. Those who struggle with high glucose levels should work with your doctor to find the perfect insulin dose and eating style to avoid high or low overnight sugars.  
  • Hormonal Imbalances:  This issue is most commonly experienced by women. Progesterone is a reproductive hormone that is known to induce sleep. The highest levels of progesterone occur in the days immediately preceding menstruation. This is why sleeping more is a normal part of PMS for many women. Women who have a progesterone deficiency or estrogen excess often experience insomnia. Depending on the severity of the deficiency or excess, their insomnia may only occur during specific days of their cycle or may occur every night. The best way to identify this type of imbalance is with a saliva hormone test. My favorite can be purchased online: Hormone Level Saliva Test Kit. After identifying any existing imbalances, steps can be taken to bring hormone levels back into balance. Please work with a trained practitioner to address any imbalance identified.
  • Neurotransmitter Imbalances:  Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers the brain uses to send signals throughout the body. Imbalances in neurotransmitters can have a broad range of effects, but often include sleep disturbances. Neurotransmitter imbalances can be identified via Neurotransmitter Testing. It is important to work with a trained professional to bring neurotransmitter levels back into balance.
  • Adrenal Fatigue:  The adrenal glands are the body’s “fight or flight” organs. They spring into action anytime the body is exposed to stress. Stressors can result from external environmental sources or from internal, physical challenges. If the adrenals are exposed to stress over a long period of time, they sometimes become fatigued and stop producing normal levels of adrenal hormones. The adrenals secrete over 400 different hormones, so any deficiency will be felt in a wide variety of ways. The most common symptom of Adrenal Fatigue is extreme fatigue, but insomnia can also be an unfortunate symptom. Although saliva hormone testing can be used to test for deficiencies in some adrenal hormones, there is no definitive test to identify Adrenal Fatigue. The most common method of identifying Adrenal Fatigue is identification of symptoms and ruling out other potential physical issues. Adrenal Fatigue is best addressed via changes in eating style, rest, and herbal supplementation.
  • Thyroid Imbalance:  Many people know that excessive thyroid activity (hyperthyroidism) interferes with sleep, but many people do not realize that insufficient thyroid activity (hypothyroidism) may also cause insomnia. Unfortunately, hypothyroidism is rarely suspected in cases of insomnia and correct testing is rarely ordered. Please read How to be Your Own Thyroid Advocate for more information on how to identify a thyroid imbalance.
  • Prescription and OTC Medications:  Many medications cause insomnia. Medications for coronary issues, blood pressure, pain, high cholesterol, antidepressants, allergies, stimulants, steroids, decongestants and products for weight loss may interfere with sleep. if insomnia develops, discuss the medications you are taking with your physician.

Have you suffered from chronic insomnia? What was the cause?

In my next post, I’ll discuss natural ways to address insomnia. Thanks so much for reading!

How to Successfully Address Scabies

I’m seeing a huge increase in scabies infestations this year. I’m not sure why so many people are affected, but scabies can scabies 300x240 How to Successfully Address Scabiesbe very difficult to get rid of. Scabies are tiny mites that burrow under the skin, where they reproduce and excrete toxins that cause extreme itching. Although it sounds absolutely disgusting, scabies are very common, especially in elementary schools, daycares and other environments where people are in very close contact. Scabies are typically spread via prolonged skin-to-skin contact, such as occurs when children sit in a group or during sexual activity. Scabies cannot be caught via brief contact with someone who is infected.

It is important to note that Scabies cannot be passed to or caught from cats and dogs. The mite that causes mange is a different type of mite which cannot survive for extended periods in the human body. I have wondered if the current problem being called “Scabies” is a new mite, as I know several of my clients found their pets became infested with mites after they became infected. Further testing is needed in that realm.

The itching associated with Scabies usually starts on the hands or stomach and spreads from there. The mites can cause redness, but often very few external signs are visible. If the skin hasn’t been scratched, tiny “trails” may be visible under the surface of the skin. These trails indicate the paths the mites took when traveling. People who are extremely allergic to the mites may experience tiny sores and/or large red welts.

To say the itch from Scabies is intense would be putting it mildly. The itch caused by such tiny mites is intense. Some have said it is worse than the itch caused by poison ivy. The itch usually worsens at night and may interfere with sleep. It is the type of itch that is difficult to ignore. Topical anti-itch creams may help briefly, but the itch will remain until the mites are killed.

Scabies cannot live more than 72 hours without human contact, but it may take several weeks for the itching to subside after the mites are dead. The prolonged itching is due to a continued allergic reaction to the mites and their feces. I usually recommend repeating the treatment every two weeks until complete relief is achieved.

If you or a loved one develop an intense itch, it is important to identify its cause. Do not self treat before seeing a practitioner to confirm the cause of the itch.

My recommendations for eliminating Scabies include:

  • Seeing a doctor and using the prescription cream. Most contain permethrin, an insecticide. The OTC product Nix (a lice treatment) is also known to be effective against scabies. With the current outbreak, many people are finding the prescription remedies are not working.
  • If you prefer to not use the prescription approach, apply tea tree essential oil directly to the affected areas. It may be necessary to apply it head to toe in order to effectively eliminate the infestation. I recommend applying it at least once daily, but preferably three to five times daily. The tea tree oil is known to kill the mites, soothe the skin and alleviate the itch. I like this tea tree oil:
  • Wash bedding, towels and clothing on a daily basis using hot water. This is imperative regardless of which other options you choose. I recommend adding a cup of vinegar to the wash cycle. This will help ensure no mites are living in the fibers of clothing and household goods.
  • Make a spray using one cup of 100 proof vodka and one tablespoon tea tree oil. Shake well and spray on furniture to kill any mites lingering there. The mites will die if they don’t find a human host within 72 hours, but spraying the furniture will help ensure they aren’t able to infest anyone before they die.

Have you dealt with Scabies? What approach worked best for you?

Natural Solutions to Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a relatively common condition that can destroy a woman’s physical and emotional health. It is a hormonal disorder, but the hormonal imbalances are not limited to reproductive hormones. Current estimates are that five million women in the US have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). However, PCOS is not fully understood and is rarely tested for using the correct methods, so the numbers are potentially much higher. Another issue is that the symptoms of PCOS closely mimic several other conditions, so proper testing and diagnosis is essential to correctly addressing the correct condition.

pcos Natural Solutions to Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

PCOS Awareness Ribbon

The symptoms of PCOS vary from woman to woman, but are caused by an overproduction of male hormones. Symptoms of PCOS may include but are not limited to:

  • Weight gain
  • Facial hair or excess hair on the chest, back, stomach, fingers or toes
  • Deepening of the voice
  • Infertility
  • Menstrual irregularity
  • Insulin resistance
  • Frequent ovarian cysts
  • Acne and oily skin
  • Dandruff
  • Sleep apnea (periods where breathing stops for short periods while sleeping)
  • Pelvic pain
  • Skin tags (small “tags” of skin that are painless but can be embarrassing when they occur on the face or in large quantities) 
  • Dark patches of dry, tough skin 
  • Anxiety, depression, or wildly changing moods

Many of the symptoms of PCOS are the result of the fact the woman’s eggs never mature and she therefore does not ovulate. The lack of ovulation creates a deficiency in the hormone progesterone. That, combined with the fact that woman’s ovaries are producing excess male hormones and the woman has excess insulin in her blood stream create a waterfall of different negative symptoms.

Although no one is sure what causes PCOS, recent research suggests that insulin resistance is the cause of PCOS. Genetic predisposition, lack of exercise and exposure to excess androgens in the womb may also play a role, and two recent studies found a link between PCOS and exposure to the plastic Bisphenol A (BPA). The original belief was that PCOS caused insulin resistance, but research has confirmed that insulin resistance typically precedes PCOS and may ultimately cause it. Other symptoms of PCOS, such as weight gain, sleep apnea, acne, anxiety and depression, and skin tags are also associated with insulin resistance. (For more information on insulin resistance, please read Modern Epidemic: Metabolic Syndrome.) The simple fact is that excess insulin in the blood stream leads to lower levels of female hormones and higher levels of androgens, both of which are present in PCOS.

Unfortunately, many doctors are unfamiliar with PCOS and are unsure how to legitimately diagnose it. To correctly diagnose PCOS, the following tests should be run.

  • Fasting insulin level:  This test is essential, as it will reveal the degree of insulin resistance that exists. Unfortunately, very few doctors order it.
  • Hormone levels:  Both male and female.
  • Full thyroid panel: TSH, FT3, FT4 and TPO at a minimum. Thyroid disorders can mimic the symptoms of PCOS, so it is essential to ensure thyroid function is normal. If your doctor only ordered a TSH, find someone else, as it is impossible to gauge thyroid health solely using that test. (Please read How to be Your Own Thyroid Advocate for more information on correct thyroid testing.)
  • Ultrasound and/or pelvic exam to check ovaries for cysts and/or inflammation:  Please note that having ovarian cysts does NOT automatically mean you have PCOS. Many women have cystic ovaries at some point in their life. 

Perhaps equally important, the following question should be asked:

  • When did you stop taking birth control?  Many women have false PCOS as a result of stopping birth control. It can take over two years for hormones to regulate after taking birth control, and menstruation may be irregular during that entire phase.

Most doctors use the “Rotterdam criteria” to diagnose PCOS. That criteria stipulates that a diagnosis of PCOS must include high androgen levels, cystic ovaries and a lack of ovulation. Unfortunately, this diagnostic criteria ignores insulin resistance, which is an essential factor in addressing PCOS successfully.

Successfully addressing PCOS requires major changes in eating habits and lifestyle habits. Let me say right now that Metformin is NOT an acceptable “treatment” for PCOS. Metformin improves insulin resistance short term but does nothing to address the cause of insulin resistance, nor does it reverse the issue. To truly address PCOS, the body’s natural sensitivity to insulin must be restored via significant lifestyle and dietary changes. Metformin may be useful very short term while lifestyle changes are being implemented, but is neither effective nor advisable to use as the sole option for rebalancing insulin sensitivity.

After making the necessary dietary and lifestyle changes, hormonal balance may be further restored using a wide variety of techniques and/or supplements. Each of these must be carefully selected based on the woman’s individual needs.

The top three things to do to start the process of reversing PCOS include:

  • Following a low-glycemic eating plan and greatly reducing consumption of glycemic carbohydrates
  • Exercising daily
  • Eliminating all processed foods, chemical cleaners, plastic exposure, etc.

PCOS can be addressed and reversed, but the condition has so many varying factors that it is impossible to use a prescriptive approach. Each person’s case must be considered on an individual basis, with very careful choices made to best address the person’s symptoms and causative factors. I work with many women with PCOS and have helped many restore balance in body, mind and spirit. There is always hope.


Polycystic Ovarian Fact Sheet,

Mid-Missouri Reproductive Health and Surgery, PCOS and Insulin Resistance

Janssen OE. High prevalence of autoimmune thyroiditis in patients with polycystic ovary syndrome. Eur J Endocrin 150(3): 363-369

Fernandez, M, N Bourguignon, V Lux-Lantos and C Libertun. 2010. Neonatal exposure to Bisphenol A and reproductive and endocrine alterations resembling the polycystic ovarian syndrome in adult rats. Environmental Health Perspectives

Diamanti-Kandarakis E. P2-395. Presented at: The Endocrine Society 92nd Annual Meeting and Expo; June 19-22, 2010; San Diego.

Riley Hospital’s New ICU and Family Lounge

riley45 273x300 Riley Hospitals New ICU and Family Lounge
Photograph Courtesy of William Mollencupp

This year is the 21st Miracle Ride. Riley Hospital directs donations from each year’s Miracle Ride to fund a specific need. Last year’s donated funds were used to build and equip a Family Lounge in a new ICU unit at the hospital. The Family Lounge provides a place for families to relax, eat, meet friends, and decompress while their child is in intensive care. The lounge is well equipped with comfortable furniture, kitchen equipment, a refrigerator, computers and other equipment designed to make the parents’ time spent there as comfortable as possible. The lounge is also very attractively decorated and does not have an institutional feel. The entire Simon Family Tower is very attractively decorated and contains bright, happy pictures from various ecosystems. The elevators even have pictures on the ceilings to help entertain and distract children lying on gurneys.

While touring the new intensive care unit (ICU) in the Simon Family Tower, I was blown away by the information the physicians shared about the unit. The impressive facts included:

  • The entire building was designed using lean engineering techniques to allow it to be multifunctional and to ensure consistency between different parts of the building. Every patient room is exactly the same. The staff shared that Riley Hospital has put extensive thought into every detail of the design of every floor and unit of the hospital. The end result is that every storage facility in the hospital has the exact same layout and stores items in the same location. This makes it very easy to staff members to quickly find what they need if they need to work on a different floor or unit. It also enables staff members to quickly find needed supplies when speed is essential.
  • Each ICU patient room contains a computer system on wheels that allows the nurses to log and reference data from their patient’s bedside. The nurses’ external workstations are also brilliantly designed. Each work station is located directly outside of two adjoining rooms. The workstation has windows that allow the nurse(s) to see the child in the bed and view the child’s medical monitors to track vital signs, IV status and other important information. The doctors who miracleride logo2 300x178 Riley Hospitals New ICU and Family Loungeprovided the tour shared that intense consideration was devoted to the design and angle of the windows to ensure the maximum level of patient care while also allowing parents to be alone with their child if desired.
  • Best of all … each ICU patient room contains a pullout bed, private restroom and a Nintendo Wii. This attention to detail and comfort is highly unusual and will make the hospital experience much more comfortable for parents and children. The in-room restrooms will allow parents to stay closer to their child while attending to personal needs, and the pullout beds will help parents rest more comfortably during overnight stays. (When our son was in intensive care in another hospital, the ICU rooms were extremely cramped and did not have any chairs or furniture that could be used for sleeping. We wound up sleeping in a waiting room that wasn’t very close to our son’s room. The pullout beds in the Riley Hospital ICU rooms are wonderful.)
  • The staff spent months planning the exact location of every piece of equipment and every supply item so that every action will run smoothly for patients, parents and staff. The doctors who led the tour acknowledged this focus on consistency and ease is intentionally designed to make hospital stays less stressful for parents and children alike. As an example, the doctors shared that weeks were spent figuring out where the best location would to place the hand sanitizer required to enter isolation rooms. They also shared that they created cardboard models of every piece of equipment and furniture contained in every ICU room and then tried a wide variety of layouts so they could choose the best placement for every piece of equipment, furniture and medical supply item. The end result created rooms that are functional yet comfortable and logical in their layout.
  • The unit contains a staff training room where state of the art training mannequins will be used to train new staff members, assist with team building, etc. The training mannequins are programmed in such a way that they show the direct outcome of treatment decisions made by staff members. This means new staff members can be presented a specific medical situation and asked to create a treatment plan. Their treatment choices will be entered into the mannequin, allowing them to immediately see the results of their treatment plan. This will help medical staff quickly learn the best approach for a wide variety of medical situations. The training facility will also be used to provide advanced training to physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and other staff members.
  • The ratio of patients to nurses is incredibly small compared to that of other hospitals. The maximum number of patients assigned to a single nurse is three, assuming the patients’ needs do not require more attention. The typical assignment ratio is two patients to one nurse. In cases where patients require constant monitoring and attention, it will not be uncommon for four or more nurses to be assigned to a single patient 24 hours a day for as long as that level of care is needed. I was impressed at the hospital’s willingness to ensure each patient receives the level of care his or her medical needs require.
  • Although the hospital’s top priority is medical care, the staff devotes an amazing amount of attention to the experience each child and family has while in the hospital. The Riley Hospital Child Life program is dedicated to ensuring the child’s emotional needs are met and that each child has a chance to engage in age-appropriate fun activities during his or her hospital stay. The Child Life team consists of a huge number of staff members who ensure every child has a chance to play, avoid boredom and engage in therapeutic ways of expressing themselves as needed. The Child Life team also provides an opportunity for children and parents to tour the hospital and learn about a child’s
    riley1 300x225 Riley Hospitals New ICU and Family Lounge

    Photograph Courtesy of William Mollencupp

    upcoming procedure prior to coming to the hospital for the procedure. This “medical play” allows the child to see exactly what will occur during their stay and is designed to reduce the child’s fear. The Child Life team also works to help parents express and deal with their fears and concerns. Depending on the procedure, a Child Life team member may be present during a procedure to coach the child through the procedure using techniques to reduce pain and fear. The Miracle Ride has a long history of supporting Patient Life Programs to ensure each child and family has access to fun activities and emotional support during their hospital stay. 

Riley Hospital went out of their way to make the evening we spent there comfortable and enjoyable. After the dedication ceremony, the staff treated us to a delicious dinner and hosted our monthly Miracle Ride Committee Meeting. The Miracle Ride is still in need of volunteers and donations for the event on May 31st – June 1st. Please visit the Miracle Ride website to learn more.

If you would like to make a donation to The Miracle Ride without riding in the ride, you can! Visit The Miracle Ride’s page at First Giving to make a donation and support Riley Hospital.

10 Surprising Facts About Blood Sugars

Many people assume the only people who need to pay attention to their blood sugar are those who have diabetes, hypoglycemia or who are grossly obese. The truth is that everyone should be aware of how blood sugars affect their overall bloodsugar 300x208 10 Surprising Facts About Blood Sugarshealth and wellness. Glucose is one of the body’s primary sources of energy, and is the only fuel the brain can effectively utilize. It is therefore very important for everyone to have a basic knowledge about blood sugars. Insulin resistance is a common syndrome that causes the body’s cells to have difficulty absorbing insulin. The person’s pancreas works fine and secretes plenty of insulin, but the body cannot use it correctly. For more information about insulin and insulin resistance, please read: Surprising Facts About Insulin and Modern Epidemic: Metabolic Syndrome.

The following facts about blood sugars may surprise you:

  1. Blood sugars impact emotions in huge ways:  A blood sugar that is even mildly low or high changes brain chemistry enough to influence emotions. Low or high blood sugars tend to increase irritability, anger and may even cause feelings of paranoia. Two studies done in 2010 found that couples who had the highest degree of aggression and antagonism toward each other also had the lowest blood sugars. The study leaders concluded that maintaining stable blood sugars was a key to a happy marriage. That may be a stretch, but I believe they are on the right track.
  2. Exercise sometimes raises blood sugars:  Most people assume that exercise lowers their blood sugar. Unfortunately, that is not always true. Exercising without eating a meal, or exercising when blood glucose levels are already above 250, may cause the body to release glycogen (a potent form of sugar) from the liver. Why does the body do that? Because it does not feel it has enough energy to fuel the exercise. Exercising without eating an hour or so before a workout sends the body into emergency mode and may result in higher blood sugars. Many Type 1 diabetics (myself included) can vouch that blood sugars may rise to dangerous levels if exercise is engaged in without providing adequate fuel. This is also pertinent to those trying to lose weight, as glycogen causes a healthy pancreas to secrete high levels of insulin, and insulin is a hormone that signals the body to store fat. It is therefore advisable to eat a snack containing a combination of protein, carbohydrates and fat prior to working out. An apple with almond butter is a perfect choice.
  3. Dehydration raises blood sugar:   Those of you who follow me know I recommend that everyone drink half their weight (in pounds) in ounces of water daily. Drinking this much water ensures cells remain hydrated. When dehydration occurs, the sugar in the blood stream becomes concentrated. This causes the pancreas to secrete more insulin. As I explained above, insulin is a fat storage hormone that has negative effects on weight loss or weight maintenance. Drinking water is a simple fix to helping maintain stable blood sugars.
  4. Intravenous Vitamin C can cause false readings of high blood sugar:  IV Vitamin C is commonly used in a variety of nutritional IV therapies. Those with blood sugar imbalances need to be very careful following the administration of a Vitamin C IV, as blood sugar readings will appear high when they actually are not. This can lead to taking excess insulin, thereby causing dangerously low blood glucose levels. If receiving intravenous Vitamin C, work with your practitioner to track glucose readings and determine how to adjust your bolus and sliding scale.
  5. Hormones other than insulin impact blood sugars:  Most women with diabetes know their sugars tend to run high during the week prior to their period. Although this affects women with diabetes most strongly, the effect also occurs in women who do not have diabetes. The hormones released prior to menstruation tend to decrease insulin sensitivity. The end result is higher than normal blood sugars. For best results, cut back on carbohydrates and increase exercise to naturally reverse this effect of PMS.
  6. High cholesterol is usually caused by high blood sugars, not by fat consumption:  People who have high cholesterol levels should always ask their doctor to check their blood insulin level. (See The Top 3 Blood Tests Almost Everyone Should Request for more info.) When the body has excess sugar in the blood stream which it cannot lower due to insulin resistance, the body will – in simple terms – convert the sugar to fat. This conversion tends to cause high cholesterol and triglyceride levels. When people reduce their carbohydrate consumption and improve their insulin sensitivity, cholesterol and triglyceride levels often return to normal fairly quickly.
  7. A lack of sleep can raise blood sugar levels:  According to a study published in the Journal of Diabetes Care, people who get less than 4 hours of sleep a night often have decreased insulin sensitivity and increased blood glucose levels. Again, this effect negatively affects everyone, not just diabetics.
  8. Hot temperatures affect blood sugar levels:  On a very hot day, blood vessels dilate, which can increase the speed of insulin absorption. This can cause lower than normal blood sugars for many people. Other people experience very hot days in the opposite extreme. The stress caused by extremely hot conditions cause their body to excrete glycogen to provide energy to deal with the stress. This raises blood glucose levels and will cause a rise in insulin secretion in those who do not have Type 1 diabetes.
  9. Coffee raises blood sugars, even if nothing is added to it:  The caffeine in coffee causes a spike in blood sugar coffeecup 199x300 10 Surprising Facts About Blood Sugarsthat may last throughout the day. The caffeine stimulates the adrenal glands, which in turn stimulate the liver to secrete glycogen. (See a trend, here?) The glycogen causes blood sugars and insulin levels to significantly raise. This can have a negative effect on anyone trying to lose weight. For best results, drink organic, Swiss Water Process decaffeinated coffee without added sweeteners or creamers.
  10. Some foods lower blood sugars:  Some foods are known to contain insulin imitators that effectively lower blood sugar. The lowering effect may be minimal depending on the quantity eaten and the person’s personal physiology, but these foods are known to be helpful for weight loss and for blood sugar control. (Please note that these foods should never be substituted for insulin injections.) The following foods are known to contain insulin imitators:  avocado, cinnamon, fenugreek, Jerusalem artichokes, bitter melon, and nopal (prickly pear) cactus.

 Did any of these surprise you? Which one was the biggest surprise?




Unhappy Marriages Due to Low Blood Sugar?

How to Dye Eggs Using Natural Easter Egg Dye

eastereggs 300x282 How to Dye Eggs Using Natural Easter Egg Dye

Picture courtesy of the Bloom Blog

When my children were much younger, one of my favorite Easter activities was dying Easter eggs. The fun the kids had experimenting with different decorating techniques and proudly displaying their works of art created many precious memories. We attached a significant event to each color as one way of teaching the wonder of the Easter story.

As the years passed, I began to have concerns about the ingredients used in commercial egg dying kits. Does it really matter that egg dyes contain artificial ingredients since we don’t eat the shells? Yes, as the vinegar added to the egg dye tablets makes the shells more porous, thereby allowing the dye to potentially soak through. On top of that, we all know how common it is for eggs to crack during the boiling stage, and have all eaten brightly colored eggs as a result. My preference is to therefore use natural Easter egg dyes to avoid any exposure to potential toxins. 

PaasIngredients How to Dye Eggs Using Natural Easter Egg DyeAs can be seen in the graphic at left, the ingredients contained in the most common OTC egg dying kits include artificial dyes and a variety of artificial chemicals and foaming agents. The artificial foaming agent sodium lauryl sulfate is a known irritant with suspected mutagenic properties that is known to remain in the body’s tissues for an extended period of time. Since we avoid eating foods or using body products containing these ingredients, it therefore makes sense to avoid them in egg dyes.

Nature provided many wonderful alternatives for making natural Easter egg dyes. The table that follows shows which common kitchen ingredients can easily be used to create beautiful dyes:

Color Products Used
Blue Pureed blueberries; red cabbage; 
Orange (light) Turmeric; carrot tops; 
Yellow Yellow onion skins; chamomile tea; 
Lavender Grape juice; red cabbage; 
Red/Burgundy Red wine; paprika; cherry juice; raspberry juice
Tan/Brown Coffee; tea;
Green Grass (yes, the stuff growing in your yard); spinach; liquid cholorophyll
Pink Hibiscus tea; diluted red wine; beet juice; cranberry juice; 

The most important issue with using botanicals and other natural ingredients for natural Easter egg dyes is to make sure the ingredients are all edible. As I said before, egg shells are somewhat porous, so you want to be sure your dye ingredients are edible. If they are not, please only use the eggs for decoration and do not eat them.

Some people like to hard boil their eggs at the same time they make their dye, while others make their dyes and then color the eggs. I prefer the latter method, as it creates less mess and brighter colors. 

To dye eggs:

  1. Hard boil the number of eggs you wish to dye. Allow to cool and store them in the refrigerator until your dyes are ready.
  2. Choose which colors you wish you make and gather the necessary ingredients. Plan on needing about one cup of plant material for each color; 1-2 tablespoons of powdered spices; or 1/2-1 cup of juices. The more colorant you use, the more vibrant the egg color will be.
  3. Boil each botanical or spice in a separate pot of 1 cup water and 2 tablespoons vinegar for about 20 minutes. A longer boil will create a more vibrant color.
  4. If using juices for colorant, there’s no need to boil them. You can use one cup of straight juice and two tablespoons of white vinegar, or can blend the juice with one cup of water and two tablespoons vinegar. I recommend experimenting with straight juice before adding water so you can find the right blend for the perfect color.
  5. After boiling, strain the plant material or spices out of the liquid and pour the liquid into a ceramic/glass bowl or measuring cup. Be sure to use non-porous bowls that will not be stained by the dyes.
  6. Gently drop the eggs into the containers of prepared dye. They need to sit in the dye for a minimum of 20 minutes, but letting them sit overnight will achieve the brightest hues.
  7. When the eggs reach the color you wish, remove them from the dye and gently blot dry with a paper towel.
  8. The eggs will not be shiny, but you can rub a tiny amount of liquid oil on the eggs to create a shine.

For added fun, make designs on the eggs with a white crayon before putting in the dye solution, or use rubberbands to make wild patterns on the eggs before dying. Both techniques will create white spaces where the dye did not come in contact with the egg shell.

To see how others made natural Easter egg dye, I recommend visiting these sites:

The Bloom Blog, Natural Easter Egg Dyes

Live Science, Coloring Eggs with Natural Dyes

Serious Eats, How to Dye Easter Eggs Naturally without Buying a Kit

That’s it! Making and using natural dyes is very simple and easy. Have you tried this before? If so, please share pictures of your creations on the Good Works Wellness Facebook page!


Important Information About the Lymphatic System

The lymphatic system is one of the most important systems in our body, yet it rarely gets the attention it deserves. Our lymphatic Important Information About the Lymphatic Systemlymphatic system plays a primary role in detoxification and immunity, and some have said the lymphatic system is just as important as the circulatory system. The truth is that we have four times as much lymphatic fluid as blood. In spite of that, very few medical professionals encourage their patients to pay attention to their lymphatic system. The goal of this article is to explain the importance of the lymphatic system and to share simple techniques you can use to support it.

The lymphatic system’s primary job is to protect the body from bacteria, viruses, fungus, and other pathogenic invaders. The lymphatic system uses cells called “lymphocytes” to protect us. Lymphocytes are white blood cells whose job is to kill pathogenic cells. In a healthy human body, lymphocytes make up 20-40% of all blood cells. Lymphocytes’ main job is to determine what type of immune response is needed and to implement that response. Lymphocytes originate in the bone marrow and are found in various organs of the lymphatic system, including the spleen, thymus, lymph nodes, etc. Lymphocytes work by binding to pathogenic cells to neutralize them and eliminate them. For every pathogen we may be exposed to, we have a specific lymphocyte whose role is to bind to it and neutralize it. There are two main types of lymphocytes:

  • B Lymphocytes:  Also called “B Cells.” B Cells handle immunity controlled by antibodies. B Cells remain in the bone marrow, where they mature into cells that spring into action when we are exposed to an invader. Some types of B Cells create antibodies that play an important role in immunity, as they develop in response to a pathogen (antigen) and work to neutralize it. Excesses in lymphatic reactions can lead to antibody imbalances such as allergies.
  • T Lymphocutes:  Also called “T Cells.” T Cells travel to the Thymus gland, where they mature to become either helper, regulatory, cytotoxic or memory T Cells. Helper T Cells stimulate the B Cells to turn into plasma cells to produce antibodies. Regulatory T Cells work to control immune reactions; while Cytotoxic T Cells work to bind to and kill cells infected with pathogens. Killer T Cells are the body’s primary defense against cancerous cells. Memory T Cells retain a memory of past immune responses. Memory T Cells remain in an inactive state until they are needed, at which time they quickly mobilize to combat the pathogen using the same approach that was effective previously. (Our body is pretty darn amazing, isn’t it?)

Although lymphocytes play a primary role in the functions performed by the lymphatic system, the lymphatic system is responsible for much more. The organs included in the lymphatic system include:

  • A network of 600-800 lymph nodes and lymph vessels
  • The thymus gland*
  • Bone marrow
  • The spleen
  • The Peyer’s patches in the digestive tract
  • The tonsils and adenoids
  • The appendix. (It is important and is not disposable.)

When you consider the fact that lymphatic organs exist from head to toe in virtually every portion of the body and that the lymphatic system plays a key role in protecting us from invading antigens, it’s hard to believe we aren’t encouraged to take better care of it. Each of the organs in the lymphatic system plays an important role in white blood cell production and in protecting the body from invaders. The lymphatic system also collects toxic debris from cells and carries it to the bloodstream for removal. Lymphatic fluid is the body’s mobile garbage system, so it’s important to keep it moving.

*On a side note, your thymus gland is located in the center of your sternum, about two inches below the ends of your collar bones. The thymus gland is highlighted in red in the graphic above. Tapping the thymus gland stimulates it to create lymphocytes and boosts immunity. I recommend tapping your thymus anytime you’re in an environment where people have contagious illnesses. I tap it frequently when I fly.

One of the challenges the lymphatic system has is that the system has no pump to move the lymphatic fluid throughout the body. The only way to get the fluid moving is via exercise, deep breathing or massage. This is just one more reason we should each engage in some form of movement on a daily basis. Our immunity and body’s detoxification efforts rely on some form of daily movement.

You can help your lymphatic system work most efficiently by:

  • Exercising daily in a way that gets arms and legs moving up and down and back and forth.
  • Drinking plenty of water.
  • Eliminating as many toxins as possible from your eating habits, skin care products and environment. Eliminating toxins will mean your lymphatic system will not need to work as hard to eliminate toxins.
  • Bouncing on a mini-trampoline for a few minutes daily, or simply bouncing up and down on the balls of your feet for a few minutes daily.
  • Getting a therapeutic lymphatic massage. If you have lymphatic blockages or stagnation, be sure to tell the massage therapist about it and request a specialize lymphatic massage.
  • Sweating in a hot bath or sauna, or using detoxification methods such as an ionic foot bath or far infra-red session.
  • Eating more healthy fat! The lymphatic system needs fatty acids to function correctly. Load up on healthy fats such as avocados, raw nuts and seeds, nut butters, organic butter, extra virgin coconut oil, organic eggs and bacon, etc. (For more information on why fat is healthy, please read Six Surprising Facts About Cholesterol.)
  • Breathing deeply! Deep breathing is known to help circulate lymphatic fluid and to help the body use the lymphatic system for toxin elimination.
  • Dry skin brushing. Dry skin brushing is a method of stimulating lymphatic flow using a natural bristled brush. Always brush toward the heart. If you don’t have access to a natural bristle brush, you can use a dry wash cloth to accomplish the same thing. Start at your feet, working upward and always brushing/stroking toward the heart.
  • Detoxification. I recommend doing a total body detoxification every three to four months. To learn more about detoxification, please read How to Know You Need to Detoxify, How Your Body Detoxifies Itself and How to Cleanse and Detoxify on a Daily Basis.
  • Eliminating tight clothing. Tight clothing restricts the flow of lymphatic fluid, so do yourself a favor and switch to comfortable clothing that allows your body to move freely.
  • If necessary, herbs such as nettles, burdock, yellow dock, or goldenseal are known to support the lymphatic system. Please work with a trained professional to help you choose the best option for your specific needs. 

Your lymphatic system is your friend. Treat it well and you’ll benefit!

How to Successfully Address Low Testosterone

The new glut of “Low T” commercials has my head spinning. “Low T” is the new fad diagnosis sweeping the country because
happysenior2 300x200 How to Successfully Address Low Testosteroneso many pharmaceutical companies stand to make such a huge profit. It goes by many names: “Low T,” “Andropause” and “Male Menopause” are just a few names given to low testosterone levels in men.

An interesting side note is that “Low T” is considered a “disease” and testosterone creams for men are therefore covered by insurance, but hormonal imbalances in women are not considered a “disease” and are not covered. Let’s chat about that some other time.

Please note it is imperative to measure testosterone levels before boosting them. Low testosterone levels have many vague symptoms that can mimic many other physical challenges. NEVER take any supplement designed to boost testosterone levels without first using a saliva or blood hormone test to measure your testosterone levels. Adjusting hormone levels without knowing what specific deficiencies and excesses exist can have very negative results. Please do not try to adjust hormone levels on your own, and please thoroughly discuss your test levels with your physician.

Moving on … it is perfectly normal for testosterone levels to drop as men age. Thirty years ago, the natural drop was minor and did not produce the severe symptoms men are experiencing today. Symptoms of low testosterone levels may include:

  • Fatigue and lack of energy and motivation
  • Loss of libido
  • Erectile dysfunction, softer erections, less ejaculate, etc.
  • Hair loss
  • Inability to build muscle and/or a loss in muscle mass
  • Weight gain and an increase in body fat
  • Depression and other mood changes
  • Decreased facial hair, “man boobs,” shrunken testicles, etc.
  • Loss of height due to losses in bone mineral density

The main reasons testosterone levels are dropping to lower levels and men’s symptoms are stronger today than they were in years past include:

  • We are surrounded by xenoestrogens, or estrogen imitators, that negatively impact hormone balance in men by artificially elevating estrogen levels. These xenoestrogens exist in plastics, chemicals sprayed on crops, body products, and other common products.
  • Our food system is overloaded with soy and soy derivatives. Soy is a known phytoestrogen which elevates estrogen levels and therefore decreases testosterone levels in the body.
  • Obesity can cause the body to produce less testosterone.
  • Insulin resistance, which often precedes Type 2 diabetes, is known to play a role in lowered testosterone levels.
  • Meat and dairy raised in mainstream farming operations are raised with high levels of hormones that may impact the body’s normal hormonal balance.
  • Physical imbalances and illnesses such as pituitary disease may impact testosterone production. Many of these conditions are severe and require medical intervention.
  • Steroid use is known to decrease testosterone production.
  • Sedentary lifestyle habits also decrease the body’s natural production of testosterone.
  • Chronic inflammation can affect testosterone production by inflaming the cells responsible for producing testosterone. We live in a world where ingesting inflammatory substances such as food additives, alcohol, etc. is common and even encouraged.

For men dealing with low testosterone, here are a few approaches known to help:

  • Test to make sure your symptoms are caused by a testosterone deficiency and not by other physical illnesses. The symptoms of low testosterone can mimic many other illnesses. Make sure you’re addressing the correct cause of your symptoms.
  • Clean up your diet. Eliminate all processed foods, all white flours and sugars, all soy, soda pop, hydrogenated oils, etc., etc.
  • Insulin resistance is one known cause of reduced testosterone levels. Work with a trained professional to reduce and target carbohydrate consumption and improve insulin sensitivity.
  • Exercise! Exercise is known to boost testosterone levels and to improve testosterone receptors. There’s just no getting around the fact we all need to exercise. Start slowly and work up very gradually. Try to combine small amounts of cardio or walking with weight lifting for best results.
  • Switch to stainless steel drink containers instead of drinking bottled water. BPA – common in plastic water bottles – is a known xenoestrogen. Avoiding canned food is also a good way to avoid BPA.
  • Clean up your body care by switching to all-natural soaps, shampoos, lotions, body washes, etc., to reduce your exposure to additional xenoestrogens.
  • Sleep more. Men who get less than six hours of sleep per night tend to have reduced testosterone levels. This is in part because their body is tired and diverts its energy to tasks it considers more important than hormone production.
  • Check for nutritional deficiencies. Deficiencies in Vitamin D, zinc, magnesium and other nutrients are all known to be causative factors of low testosterone.
  • Check Candida levels and address any overgrowth. Candida tends to cause systemic inflammation that can cause the testicles to produce less testosterone.
  • Switch to a non-inflammatory eating style. As mentioned above, inflammation can directly impact testosterone production by causing inflammation in the testicles. Reducing toxins is a first step to reducing inflammation. Identifying food allergies, eliminating night shade vegetables, avoiding processed foods and drinking adequate water may all help reduce systemic inflammation.
  • Consider herbal alternatives. There are a number of herbal supplements known to boost testosterone production. I’m not going to discuss them here because some have severe side effects, I do not believe they are appropriate for everyone, and because I feel it is dangerous to take supplements that affect hormone levels without first checking to see if any hormonal imbalances exist.

There are times where physical injury, vasectomy, pituitary disorders, exposure to extreme toxins or other issues can cause testosterone levels to drop so low that medication is needed. I believe testosterone creams are often prescribed without doing adequate testing and without making the necessary lifestyle changes first. In extreme cases, testosterone pills and/or injections may be required to return levels to normal. When testosterone medications are used, it is important to test hormone levels frequently to ensure hormone levels are where they should be.

There are a number of side effects with the creams, so they must be used with caution to avoid exposing women and children to the hormones in the cream. Use caution and research heavily before agreeing to use them.

Most of all, don’t lose hope. Low testosterone levels can be improved naturally or via medication. Take the time to do adequate research and receive correct testing before choosing the program that is best for you.

A Good Time Was Had By All

I was honored to be invited to attend the 2014 Indiana Artisan Marketplace last weekend and to write about my experience. 2014iam 300x244 A Good Time Was Had By AllIn exchange for these blog posts, I was given a set of tickets to give away and one set to use for myself. I was not compensated beyond that. These opinions are my own. I was not required to write a positive review, nor were my opinions influenced in any way.

I attended the Indiana Artisan Marketplace on Sunday, March 30. I went by myself so I could wander as slowly or as quickly as I wanted. Going by myself also allowed me to give away another ticket to one of my readers, so it was a win-win. The show was held in the Exposition Hall at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. Having been to many other events and shows in that building, I was impressed with the show’s layout as soon as I walked in. The aisles were wide and traffic flowed smoothly. 

I loved this show and highly recommend attending next year’s event. The organizers have already announced that next year’s show will be held March 28-29, 2015. It’s definitely worth marking in your calendar now.

One of the main reasons I enjoyed the show so much was because it was a juried show, meaning each vendor had to submit samples of their craft which a committee reviewed. Only the best artisans and food crafters were invited to have a booth. The quality of the handcrafts at each booth was phenomenal. I was also impressed at how well the show organizers ensured booths selling similar goods were spaced far away from each other. Every row held a wide variety of different items, which meant that each booth provided a new surprise. The food and beverage artisans were interspersed among the handcrafted item artisans in a nice way.

I had a great time chatting with the artisans, admiring handmade jewelry, sampling a few wines and seeing many old friends. I also picked up a few treats, most of which were for my hubby or for Christmas gifts. The picture I shared shows a few of the goodies I picked up. I’ve highlighted some of those artisans below.

Here’s a summary of a few of my favorite booths:

Functional Ceramics:  Artist Kris Busch’s pottery uses a unique glazing technique that makes her items appear to have multiple layers of color. Every item offers a perfect blend of art and functionality.

Litterally Divine Chocolates:  My friend, Suzanne Litteral, makes some of the best truffles and toffee I’ve ever tasted. Best of all, she uses mostly organic, vegan ingredients. Her chocolates are truly divine.

Lisa Atchison, Touch of Glass Designs:  Lisa Atchison makes her own beads, but does it in a very unique way. She grows crystals in unique patterns which she then forms into incredible works of artistic jewelry. I spent quite a while chatting with Ms. Atchison while admiring her jewelry. I wound up wishing I had significantly more money in my jewelry budget!

SACS & Company:  SACS & Company makes custom-blended, handmade soaps and other body products. As a soapmaker myself, I can vouch that their products are extremely high quality. They also have fantastic aromas!

240 Sweet:  I was not familiar with 240 Sweet prior to the Indiana Artisan Marketplace. One taste of their marshmallows make me wish I’d heard of them sooner. They make artisanal marshmallows in a wide variety of flavors, but they do not use corn syrup. I picked up a package of their Guinness marshmallows for my hubby. 

Willow by Greg Adams:  I stopped by Mr. Adams’ booth to admire the furniture, and wound up leaving with a big bundle of willow branches to fill a lonely vase in my office. He makes unfinished and finished furniture, frames and a wide variety of other wares that are all wonderfully unique.

As I said, if you have a few hours to spare March 28 and 29th next year, I highly recommend stopping by the 2015 Indiana Artisan Marketplace!

Aldi Has Organic Food?

I will be honest that this blog post is a bit of an experiment. I have friends who consistently blog from their phone, but I never have. Until today. I’m committed to writing and posting this entire post from my phone. Let the adventure begin!

Several months ago I read an announcement  Aldi Has Organic Food?that Aldi was going to start carrying organic options and was creating its own line of organics. For those who have never heard of Aldi, it is a deep discount store whose parent company is in Germany. It has many similarities to the big warehouse stores such as Costco, but has much smaller stores and a much smaller array of offerings. When shopping at an Aldi, you bring your own bags, expect goods to be displayed in the carton they were shipped in, and you always bring a quarter because you’ll need one to gain access to a cart.

The goods sold at Aldi are definitely low in price. Their paper goods are extremely reasonable. If we shop at Aldi, it is only to get paper goods because most of their products are highly processed, non-organic, and heavily packaged. Their produce was usually not top quality and never organic. Their meat was cheap but often contained fillers and was never organic or ethically raised.

Things are changing! My hubby and I were out running errands today and decided to take a “field trip” to Aldi. Here’s what we found:

  • Organic bananas, apples, carrots and cherry tomatoes. (It’s a start.)
  • Organic, grass-fed ground beef for $4.49/lb. We bought six pounds and will probably go back and buy the rest since this Aldi was located in an area that typically does not have high sales in organic goods.
  • Organic real honey, which is amazing because what is sold in most mainstream stores isn’t really honey.
  • No organic milk, yogurt, cheese, bread or eggs.
  • No organic coffee, spices, condiments, juices, canned goods or snack items.

Final conclusion? I applaud Aldi for listening to the wishes of the American public, but admit they have plenty of room for improvement. I noticed a huge new store is being built close to the one we visited, so I look forward to seeing how they choose to fill the additional space.

Aldi is the parent company of Trader Joe’s, so the move to carry organic goods wasn’t much of a stretch. My hope is they will expand their organic offerings and will soon commit to carrying fewer GMO products.

Have you shopped at an Aldi since they added organic goods? What did you find at the Aldi near you?

If you were wondering , this will be the last post i write from my phone. Thus the adventure ends.

Why I Do What I Do

I want to thank @Joyful_Sparrow for recently asking me on Twitter to share how I got started doing what I do. Since I’ve never really shared the road that led me here, I thought it was a great idea. In the simplest terms, I do what I do because I love it. There is no greater joy than helping someone heal and regain health, especially if that person hasn’t been able to find help elsewhere. Have you heard the old saying about never working a day in your life if you love what you do? I’m living that quote and an incredibly grateful to have been given a gift that allows me to help others. For more information about my philosophy, read my post, What Makes Me Different from Other Practitioners.

The less simple answer takes a bit of telling. I got into this field after being so ill for over 15 years that getting out of bed was a challenge and taking a shower exhausted me for the rest of the day. During that time, I had some wonderful doctors and I had some horrible doctors, but none of them could figure out what was wrong with me. I saw every specialist under the sun, including multiple oncologists, hematologists, endocrinologists, infectious disease specialists, nephrologists, Pamela HS4a 236x300 Why I Do What I Doneurologists and multiple internists. I had bone marrow biopsies, liver biopsies, a multitude of CT scans, MRIs and ultrasounds, even more blood tests, and many other invasive procedures, yet none identified the cause of my exhaustion or severe neurological symptoms. Instead, my doctors diagnosed me with chronic fatigue syndrome, with cancer incorrectly once, and with multiple sclerosis incorrectly three times. They patted me on my head while shaking theirs and sent me on my way, hoping I’d give up and they’d never see me again. More than one recommended I seek psychological counseling. The rationale appeared to be that anyone they couldn’t heal obviously wasn’t sick. One infectious disease specialist diagnosed me with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, told me there was nothing he could do to help, and prescribed Prozac. He explained the Prozac by saying: “You’re not depressed, but the Prozac will make you not care about not feeling well.” He was wrong.

The bottom line was that it was completely up to me to determine the cause of my symptoms and figure out how to eliminate them. Trust me when I say that much prayer went into my research and many prayers for healing were uttered. My desire to reverse my symptoms necessitated that my hobby of studying herbalism and natural remedies become a dedicated passion. I not only studied alternative healing but also studied many of the same courses MDs take. I soon became more knowledgeable about endocrine disorders than many of my physicians. I progressed from doing self-directed research and study to taking formal classes. Over time I received multiple  natural health certifications. In the midst of my research, I began to identify and eliminate the causes of my symptoms. By God’s grace, most of my symptoms disappeared. For the first time in a very long time, I was able to function normally. The fact my healing came from simply identifying what my body lacked and replacing it was a huge confirmation of everything I had studied.

During this time, others began asking for my advice related to their own healing. While still working in the corporate world, I realized one day that I had spent more time providing health advice than I had doing my real job. I also realized that providing health advice and empowering others to improve their health brought me far more joy than managing IT projects did. Shortly thereafter, my company lost a government contract and many people were downsized. I was given the option of being downsized or joining another department. I gratefully accepted the offer to be downsized. I think I was the only person in the downsized group who was happy to lose their job and who actually chose to be downsized instead of moving to another department.

On a short term basis, I used my knowledge of herbs, physiology and toxicity to launch a natural skincare company while I evaluated what I wanted to do long term. I also begin receiving invitations to speak nationwide, which I loved. After closing my skincare business, I began working as a consultant in a health food store. Throughout this phase of my life, I continued studying and receiving additional certifications. I also experienced some new minor health challenges, which only served to help me learn more. I can honestly say I’m thankful for all the health challenges I’ve had, because each one taught me much and provided insight into what my patients and clients are experiencing. Being able to honestly say, “I’ve been there, but I found my way back” is often very encouraging to my clients.

I completed one doctoral program in Naturopathic Medicine and am currently completing another. I am also working to become a Master Herbalist and a few other minor certifications. I hope to be done soon. I have an office located in the heart of Broad Ripple where I see my clients and hold classes. I also accept private speaking engagements. Please feel free to contact me if you’d like to schedule me to inspire your group.

I still love what I do and take every possible opportunity to learn more. I’m currently evaluating what my next training focus will be. I’m considering medical school or becoming a Physician’s Assistant so I can provide the best of natural and mainstream options to my clients.

I guess the best answer for why I do what I do is, quite simply, because it’s my calling and I wouldn’t be happy doing anything else. To not use this gift and share it with others would be wrong.

Preview the 2014 Indiana Artisan Marketplace and Win Tickets!

indianaartisant2 300x176 Preview the 2014 Indiana Artisan Marketplace and Win Tickets!

I was honored to be selected to share a preview of the 2014 Indiana Artisan Marketplace that will be held March 29-30 in the Expo Hall at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. I am also very excited to be giving away one set of two free tickets and one free single ticket to the event. Use the Rafflecopter widget shared below to enter. Please note that this is a quickie give-away. Entries must be received before Tuesday, March 25 at 10 pm so I can mail the tickets to the winner in time.

I don’t promote many events, so here’s a list of reasons I chose to promote the Indiana Artisan Marketplace:

  • It features over 150 local artisans who live and work in Indiana and Kentucky.
  • It is low priced ($10 per ticket with free entry for children aged 14 and under) with booths that will appeal to the entire family.
  • It is a juried show, meaning artisans must apply to exhibit. All artisans submit samples of their work to a panel of judges as part of the jurying process. Only artisans providing the highest quality handmade goods are selected to participate.
  • It has one of the broadest variety of handmade foods, jewelry, clothing, metalwork, pottery, household goods, woodwork, decorations, instruments and other wares I’ve ever seen.
  • It’s in a location that’s easy to access and which has ample parking.
  • It is a show the artists respect more than any other.

Here are details about the show:

Indiana Artisan Marketplace

Dates: March 29-30, 2014
Times: Saturday, March 29, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sunday, March 30, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Location: The Exposition Hall at the Indiana State Fairgrounds
Tickets: $10 at the door, 14 and younger admitted free

IAMtix 150x150 Preview the 2014 Indiana Artisan Marketplace and Win Tickets!Here are a few of the artists whose booths I cannot wait to visit: 

The artists shown above are a very small sampling of the many artists who will be exhibiting during the show. Whether you’re looking for handmade guitars, beautiful jackets made from hand-spun wool, healthy fermented veggies, metallic sculpture, or a multitude of other handmade works of art, this show is for you! Best of all, the treasures you take home will support local artisans.

To win tickets, please complete the Rafflecopter entries shared below. Complete the required entry to gain access to others. Have fun entering. I will email the winner as soon as I receive notice of and verify the winning entry.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Top 20 Quick and Easy Healthy Snacks

This article contains product links for which I may receive a very small amount of compensation if an item is purchased. Please know I only share links for products which I use or have used personally and which I feel are worthy of recommending

Many people trying to eat healthier are stumped by what good options are for snacking. Eating a sensible snack between meals is a good way of maintaining energy and stable blood sugars throughout the day. For some people, it may also be a way of encouraging the metabolism to kick into a higher gear.

Following is a list of my favorite snacks. As always, please note that all ingredients mentioned are organic:

  • Make or buy dehydrated veggies to use as a great portable, no-mess snack. Make your own using a food dehydrator to apple 300x205 Top 20 Quick and Easy Healthy Snacksensure no added chemicals were used.
  • Make a custom blend of nuts, seeds and goji or acai berries.
  • Slice a zucchini into slices and top them with hummus, almond butter, salsa or guacamole.
  • Slice veggies and dip in pesto.
  • Slice an apple and dip the slices in almond butter or other nut butters.
  • Blend one part chia seeds into two parts green tea and two parts coconut milk. Add stevia to taste if needed. Cinnamon or other spices also liven this up. Allow to sit for about ten minutes, then drink it down. It is very filling and provides powerful nutrition!
  • Make a veggie pate from soaked nuts, soaked seeds, leafy greens and soft veggies. Eat it by the spoon or spread on veggies or gluten-free crackers.
  • Spread roasted garlic on zucchini slices or on a few gluten-free crackers.
  • Stir cacao chips and sunflower seeds into vanilla coconut yogurt.
  • Wrap slices of organic turkey around tomato boats, fermented pickles or other veggies.
  • Wrap wasabi seaweed snacks around avocado slices.
  • Stuff dates with almonds. Dates are incredibly high in sugar, so it only takes a few of these snacks to be very filling and energizing.
  • Load toothpicks with a cherry tomato, mozzarella cube and basil leaf.
  • Make guacamole to eat on veggies or by the spoonful.
  • Stuff celery or mini-peppers with hummus, almond butter or guacamole.
  • Make a plate of avocado slices and tomato slices.
  • Make a smoothie with 1/3 dark leafy greens, 1/3 veggies and 1/3 fruit.
  • Stuff half an avocado with a small scoop of chicken, egg or tuna salad.
  • Pop organic popcorn in organic extra virgin coconut oil and top with a bit of Himalayan Sea Salt and Organic Garlic Powder.
  • Dip non-GMO corn chips into homemade salsa.
  • Pack a salad in a jar. Place chopped veggies on the bottom of a Mason jar, top with a variety of mixed greens, then place a dressing on top. Shake when ready to eat. (Don’t forget to pack a fork.)

Oops. That was 21 instead of 20. Oh well!

What snacks would you add to the list?

Diabetes Control: My Story

I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in 1967. Back then, there was no such thing as disposable syringes, glucose meters or victory Diabetes Control: My Storysensible eating plans. Instead, syringes were glass, had to be boiled after each use, and were then re-used. That cycle continued until the needle became too dull to be efficient. (Discovering the needle was too dull was no fun. Injections with dull needles hurt.) It was impossible to test daily blood sugars at home, so doctors ordered morning and afternoon blood sugars for patients every three months. If patients were unlucky enough to wind up in the hospital, blood was drawn every three hours so blood sugars could be closely monitored. Many phlebotomists assume I’m a former heroin addict because my veins are so scarred from those frequent blood draws. Urine was tested for glucose instead of blood. The standard eating style prescribed to diabetics was to strictly avoid sugar, but very little attention was paid to the fact simple carbohydrates had the same effect.

I am incredibly thankful to have lived through what could be considered the “stone age” of diabetes control. I am blessed to now live in a time when research has found a multitude of ways to simplify controlling glucose levels. 

In 1967, standard treatment included one daily insulin injection with a blend of fast and slow-acting insulin. Dietary control involved avoiding all sugar. Urine tests were done up to three times daily to estimate glucose levels. Urine was tested with a Clinistix Test Kit that used urine and a tablet containing chemicals that reacted with glucose. The Clinistix reaction was performed by adding a few drops of urine and water to a test tube and then adding the reagent tablet. The blend would fizz and get very hot. When the reaction was over, the color of the end product was an indicator of the amount of glucose in the urine. Blue meant there was no glucose present; orange meant there were high quantities.

In my case, my parents were told to give me one sugar cube each time my urine test was negative. As a kid who had always been told sugar was forbidden, achieving negative test results was a strong incentive … to lie. I wasn’t usually a dishonest child, but that sugar cube was enough to push me over the edge. At that point, no one had ever truly explained how what I ate affected my glucose levels. I knew eating sugar caused them to rise, but no one had explained that breads, pastas and similar carbohydrates also did. Needless to say, I spent a lot of time with extremely high glucose levels. According to my mom, my body had become so accustomed to high blood sugars that I actually felt better when my sugars ran in the 300s. (Normal is 80-120.) I’ve spoken with other people with diabetes who experienced the same thing.

One of my biggest blessings is that my parents never made a big deal out of the fact I had diabetes. They never said I couldn’t participate in any activity due to having it, and they never played the “woe is me” card. Diabetes was simply a part of every day life. The fact my life was a little different from other people’s was irrelevant. That attitude stuck with me and served me well. Nothing breaks my heart more than speaking with a newly-diagnosed diabetic who is convinced they can never lead a normal life. My goal is to teach people how to control diabetes instead of letting diabetes control them.

When I was in second grade, I began vomiting one morning. My mother figured it was the flu and began giving me sips of 7-Up to calm my stomach. By the time my dad came home from work, I had deteriorated to the point my parents decided to take me to the hospital. My sister was just a few days old, so my poor mother went from bringing a new baby home to having a child in the hospital before she had fully recovered from giving birth. In the emergency room, I was on the verge of a coma and was so dehydrated they were unable to start an IV in my arm or hand. They wound up having to use a scalpel to access a vein to start an IV in my ankle. Did I mention they didn’t use any numbing agents? I don’t think they realized I was still conscious, and it was an emergency situation. I have no memory of the days that followed. I was incoherent and my body was trying desperately to heal itself. During that time, I was assigned an amazing endocrinologist, Dr. Paul Boyce, whose amazing compassion and skill changed my life. 

He was a firm believer in patient-led control, so I attended the hospital’s diabetes classes with my mother. The fact I was eight did not stop me from learning a lot. I also began giving my own insulin injections, which was very empowering. At the time, Dr. Boyce was using an eating plan that required every gram of carbohydrates, fats and protein to be calculated for each meal. I was given a specific allotment of each per meal and my mother was given a technique for figuring my totals. We began having to weigh everything I ate. We had a box of index cards where my mother stored a collection of meal plans that could be used again and again. The entire program was tedious and bothersome. I was thrilled when that eating style became outdated and the exchange system began being used.

During this time, I was still required to test my urine multiple times daily. I was supposed to test as soon as I woke up and before dinner at a minimum. My biggest act of adolescent rebellion was refusing to test. Having to urinate into a container and conduct the test was not something I enjoyed. The anger I felt about having diabetes also began to manifest in larger ways. Refusing to do urine testing was one way I compensated for feelings of helplessness caused by having diabetes. I wound up missing out on many fun activities because my parents thought not allowing me to participate would be an incentive to comply. They were wrong. Everyone with diabetes experiences grieving and anger about their condition. It is a normal part of life with diabetes. I now counsel many parents of children with Type 1 Diabetes about how they can help their child cope. I was in my early twenties before anyone encouraged me to work through my own anger. It was a long process and I still have times I have to work through anger, inferiority and other feelings associated with having diabetes.

Life continued, I attended college, worked, lived in Mexico and Costa Rica, married, and always lived life to the fullest. In the early 90s, portable glucose monitors became readily available and the ability to control blood sugars reached a new level. My entire care program changed as the result of using a glucose monitor. I was switched to taking 2-3 injections daily and the amount of insulin I took changed depending on how high or low my blood sugar was. I was also able to check for low glucose levels much more easily. Carrying my glucose meter, insulin and syringes with me at all times became my new normal. It was wonderful! As a result of having a glucose meter, both of my pregnancies were relatively normal and my children did not experience gross complications from having a mom with diabetes. (My daughter spent two weeks in neonatal intensive care due to physician error, but that’s another story for another day.)

Currently, I have no complications from diabetes and live an abundant life. I travel frequently, ride a motorcycle (as the driver, never a passenger), am very active. Having diabetes never stops me from doing anything. I am immensely grateful for that.

Diabetes care has become a specialty of my practice. I will soon offer a course on using natural methods to control diabetes. Please visit Victory in Diabetes to learn more about this class. I am offering it as an on-site seminar and as a webinar, so anyone in any location can attend.


 A History of Blood Glucose Monitors and Their Role in self-monitoring of diabetes mellitus

How to Cleanse and Detoxify on a Daily Basis

There are currently a glut of programs and online courses devoted to cleansing and detoxing the body. Although we each suds 300x225 How to Cleanse and Detoxify on a Daily Basisneed to set aside time to cleanse and detoxify on a regular basis, I wanted to share some simple things we can do every day to help our body naturally eliminate toxins. The truth is that our bodies put a very high priority on detoxification. Our bodies are constantly working to break down and neutralize toxins by turning them into simple water-soluble chemicals that can be easily eliminated. Before reading this article, please read How to Tell You Need to Detox and How Does the Body Detoxify Itself.

The following daily habits are known to help your body eliminate toxins:

  • Start the day with warm lemon water. Blend 1-2 cups of purified, gently heated water with the juice of one organic lemon. Drink the blend first thing in the morning every day. The combination is known to assist the liver in cleansing itself, helps get the colon moving, and is known to alkalize the body’s pH.
  • Drink at least half your body weight in ounces of water every day. Staying hydrated is one way to help your body eliminate toxins via the kidneys and colon. If your cells look like raisins instead of grapes, they cannot expel toxins efficiently. Drink up!
  • Eat a healthy diet high in fiber and free of pesticides, processed foods, fast food, soy, tap water, GMO produce, etc. The fewer toxins you ingest, the fewer your body will have to eliminate. Eating a rainbow of colors from fruits and veggies on a daily basis will provide a wide variety of nutrients that will strengthen your body’s cleansing efforts.
  • Eat foods that support the body’s detoxification efforts. A few of my favorites include turmeric, garlic, onions, beets, avocados, broccoli, cabbage, dandelion greens and flowers, blueberries, cloves, ginger, dark leafy greens, green tea, etc. These foods provide nutrients that either specifically boost the liver’s ability to cleanse itself or provide antioxidants known to neutralize free radicals. They are healthy and tasty, so it’s a win-win!
  • Skip your buzz of choice one day a week. Whether your preferred buzz comes from alcohol, sugar, caffeine, cigarettes, time spent online or something less legal, designate one day a week to avoid that item. If you have a strong addiction, start by avoiding the item for one waking hour a week and gradually work up.
  • Have at least three bowel movements per day. Yes, three. A healthy digestive system expels toxins a minimum of twice daily. Drinking enough water and eating sufficient fiber are good ways to start helping the digestive tract heal itself. Damaged digestive systems will require additional assistance. For more details on how to improve digestion, read Top Six Ways to Maximize Digestion or What Your Poop Should Look Like.
  • Exercise enough to sweat every day. Sweat is one of the body’s best detoxifiers. Even ten minutes of exercise is sufficient to create chemical changes that benefit your body’s ability to detoxify. If you do not have a habit of exercising, start slowly and work up very gradually. Do activities that are fun. Exercise should not be synonymous with “torture.” On days you’re unable to exercise, sweat by using a sauna or extremely warm bath.
  • Switch to all-natural body products and cleaning products. Women are said to absorb over five POUNDS of toxins on a yearly basis from their bath and body products. Switching to all-natural products will take a load off your liver and kidneys and will help improve the appearance of your skin. Switching to all-natural household cleaners is another effective way of reducing your toxic load. For more information on eliminating toxins from skin care products, read Top Five Ingredients to Avoid in Skin Care Products.
  • Breath deeply, from the diaphragm. Take a deep breath. Did your shoulders rise? If so, your breath was actually fairly shallow. Deep breathing gets the diaphragm moving and causes the abdomen to expand and contract. Your lungs are organs of elimination the body uses to expel toxins. Help your lungs do their job by pausing once an hour (or several times a day) to breathe deeply. Take a deep breath in, counting to four as you slowly inhale, and then exhale for a count of four. Repeat ten times. You’ll be glad you did.
  • Get enough sleep. Your body’s heaviest time of detoxification occurs while you sleep. Most people need a minimum of seven hours of sleep for adequate rejuvenation. If you’re getting less than that, start making changes to increase the amount of sleep you get.
  • Dry skin brushing. Dry skin brushing involves using a natural-bristle brush to gently brush the body from head to toe. Doing so clears the skin of dead cells, stimulates blood flow and stimulates the lymphatic glands, allowing them to move toxins out of the body more easily. Start at the feet and brush toward the heart, using gentle strokes. (It should not hurt.) Move upward, always brushing toward the heart. I recommend doing dry skin brushing before showering. It should always be done on dry skin, never wet.) The dry skin bush I use is: Natural Dry Skin Brush.
  • Take a bath. Taking a detoxification bath 2-3 times per week is a simple way of helping your body eliminate toxins. You can either use a very warm bath with no additives, or can add a wide variety of common household ingredients known to help the body detoxify. For more info, read Create a Detoxification Bath Using Common Ingredients.
  • Laugh every day! Detoxification is not a purely physical activity. We each need time to decompress mentally and emotionally. Laughter is a wonderful way of releasing tension and lifting spirits. Make a goal of having a good belly laugh several times a day. If your coworkers and family aren’t particularly funny, find online resources that make you laugh. Make a point of finding things that are funny in a positive way. Avoid humor that focuses on making people laugh by belittling others.
  • Spend time in prayer, meditation, or relaxing mind work on a daily basis. As stated above, your mind needs detoxification as much as your body. Take time every day to focus on the positive and release the negative. 

Which of these methods do you use? Please take time to share your thoughts below and to let us know which methods you’re considering adding to your daily habits.

Photo provided courtesy of Bored Now Photography but does not necessarily indicate their endorsement of this site or its content.