Archive for April, 2014

Healthy By Choice

I think it is safe to say that I, by nature, am a controversial type of person. Religion, politics, current events, healthcare….I freely admit that my view on all of these subjects tends to go against the grain. It’s not that I set out to create controversy, but it seems to happen quite often, all the same. I spend a great deal of time biting my tongue whenever any of these subjects comes up in conversation. Mostly because I think the people speaking about them are lacking ~ lacking education, lacking research, lacking common sense…just lacking. In all fairness, I can only assume that people think the same of me. I’m good with that. I tell you this to prepare you for the following post.

On a regular basis I am asked the same question; “Do you have anything that will cure (fill in the blank here ~ cancer, diabetes, gout, IBS, migraines, MD, HIV….)?” My answer is always the same. Yes.

I watch, inwardly laughing as I wait for the inevitable next question. “What is it?”

It is at this point that I usually cannot restrain my laughter any longer. It isn’t really malicious laughter. It’s more of a ‘you asked for it’ kind of laughter. I see the hopeful gleam in their eye; the expectant look on their face, and I sigh. As they wait for me to tell them the name of that one magical herb that is going to fix their ills and make them whole, healthy and nearly immortal, I wonder if it is even worth the waste of breath that I will have to expend on the speech that will deflate their hopes and burst their bubble. The speech goes something like this:

“Well, yes, there are several things that will help heal you of that condition. First, though, I have to ask…how often do you exercise, how often do you spend time outside and what is your diet like?”

Their face falls a little. Their shoulders droop, the light in their eyes dims ever so slightly. They shuffle their feet and slide their glance to the side as they reply, “My diet is not too bad. I eat a couple salads a week. I probably drink more soda than I should,but it’s diet soda!  I really like apples and oranges. I don’t really have much time to get outside, but I go to the tanning bed once a week, and I Zumba now and then!”

It is because of this very conversation, which I have at least once or twice a week, that I am writing this post. It is time to clear up some common misconceptions. Plus, I can now just direct them to my handy little blog post instead of wasting my breath trying to explain it. Here goes…

There is no magic herb. The Elixir of Life does not exist. It never has, never will. Two hours of Zumba and a five mile run will not keep you healthy. Tanning beds are not the same as real sunlight. Shocking, eh?

I know that some of you, at this point, are gleefully crowing, “Ha! She is finally admitting that natural cures don’t work! I KNEW it!”

Yeah…you are so very wrong. While I will be the first to admit that there is no magic fix-everything herb, I will also point out that there is no magic, fix-everything pill. With all of the hundreds (thousands?) of medicines created by evil pharmaceutical companies looking to make a buck from the suffering, disease-ridden humans out there, not one of them actually ‘fixes’ anything. In fact, there is not one single drug on the market that does not create a larger health issue when taken. Not one.

So, what’s the difference, then, you ask? Why not take the pill instead of the herb? Why not just fill the scrip your doctor hands you and hope for the best? That is an easy answer. Because, while there is no magical herb to fix your ills, there are natural remedies and cures for every single disease known to man. They don’t cause negative side effects. They won’t shut down your liver or kidneys; they won’t cause heart problems; they won’t cause cancer, bleeding rectums, brain tumors or any of the other horrible side effects of your doctor’s ‘magic pill’. Did you get the part about there being a natural cure for everything? Yes. Everything. Your disease or situation is not an exception.

The answer to your problem is this: Set down your coffee, tea and soda (Yes, this includes your diet soda and no, it is not healthier or better for you in any way so quit lying to yourself on that point!). Forget that fast food restaurants exist. Quit buying your meat from the grocery store. Quit buying fresh produce that is covered in chemicals to make it look pretty and last longer. Quit buying food that comes in metal cans, boxes or plastic. If there is an ingredient on the label that you cannot pronounce, put it back on the shelf and step away. Spend ten minutes a day outside. Get your heart rate up for at least ten minutes a day. It is that simple.

Stop with the eye-rolling. Seriously. If you are too simple-minded to understand this basic premise of healthcare that is your first problem. Educate yourself on the dangers of preservatives, GMO‘s, and processed foods. Go a step further and educate yourself on the dangers of the materials used to package those convenient foods you are stocking your pantry and refrigerator with.

Do not say something as ridiculous as, “Those are our only food choices”. Bullshit. Be honest with yourself, at least. Admit that you are simply too lazy to drive to the local farmer’s market instead of the grocery store. Then, head on over to the pharmacy and fill that prescription.

Or, take a little initiative and check out some online resources like localharvest.org that list all the farmers and co-ops in your area that sell real, healthy, chemical and preservative-free food. You just might be surprised at how close you live to one of them! Not only can you walk away with something healthy, you would also be supporting your local economy. This option effects everyone in a positive manner. Less fuel is used to transport your food from the grower to the table. Less money is spent on pretty packaging. Less waste is generated, so less goes into landfills (or oceans, or the atmosphere…). This option has no downside. None. Zero.

You don’t have time to play outside, exercise or prepare a meal from scratch, you say? Really? You seem to have plenty of time to play on the computer, watch tv, go to the gym, go to the ballgame, or generally waste on meaningless pastimes, but you don’t have an extra 30 minutes to prepare a meal using real, healthy ingredients? And, how much time have you wasted in a doctor’s waiting room or at the pharmacy…? Again, I call bullshit.

Don’t know how to cook using real ingredients? Buy a cookbook. Don’t know how to use an oven? Read your owner’s manual. Don’t like the taste of water? Add some fruit to it. Can’t afford a gym membership? Walk around the block…or yard…or parking lot. Just don’t want to do it? Then shut up and quit complaining about being unhealthy. Your health ~ or lack of it ~ is nobody’s fault but your own. Only you can make the decision to change it. Quit your annoying whining. Quit making lame excuses.

Next on the quit list: Quit saying stupid things like, “Why did God let this happen to me/my child/spouse/parent/friend?” Let’s get real honest here. God ~ whichever one you choose to believe in ~ had nothing to do with it. In fact, every single religion floating around out there has explicit instructions on dietary habits. If you have chosen not to follow those instructions, there are going to be some natural consequences. Illness and disease are one of those natural consequences. Period. Interestingly, all of the religions seem to agree on this one point. What you eat matters. You can’t spin that fact to suit your desires. There is not one religion that says, “Goest to thou doctor and asketh him for a pill to fix you” or, “Drinketh more diet soda with your Big Mac”. Nope. Not one. What all of them do say, however, is, “Eat more fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds. Exercise.” Okay, I am paraphrasing a bit, but you get the point. Don’t preach about the importance of religion in your life, then pick and choose which directives you are going to follow. Don’t preach on the evils of homosexuality, promiscuity or abortion while you are cramming pills in as fast as the doctor can prescribe them and carrying around an extra 50 lbs. That just makes you a big old freakin’ hypocrite.

Then, you need to address what you are putting ON your body. How many chemicals do you slather yourself with in a day? Hell, how many do you slather yourself with before lunch? Shampoo, conditioner, hairspray, perfume, lotion, face cream, toothpaste, mouthwash…have you ever actually read the ingredient list on one of your bottles? But, you aren’t quite sure why things like skin disease, brain tumors and cancer are climbing steadily, right? Seriously? Has it never occurred to you that your skin is the largest organ of the body? Your skin takes in and releases the largest amount of toxins. And the hair products? Really? You are rubbing a chemical cocktail on your head every day. You do realize that your scalp is right there over your brain and all those little nerve endings and receptors, right? Like…centimeters away from it…?

Whew…okay, now that we have that out of the way….

Chances are, if you eat and drink the way you were intended to do so, you probably aren’t likely to need any extra help with staying healthy. Most of your ills will right themselves when you treat your body the way it is meant to be treated. Once you quit poisoning your body and start giving it the proper nutrition, you will inevitably find that many of your ‘diseases’ have fixed themselves.

Unfortunately, many of us have damaged our bodies so badly over the years that even a healthy diet, fresh air, sunshine and exercise can’t cure all of our ills. Or, maybe you live in an area that has an inordinately high level of pollution. Or, your job exposes you to toxins that have serious adverse health risks. That’s where herbs come in. Herbs work WITH your body. They don’t trick your body into fixing one problem, only to create another. They simply prod your body to work the way it is supposed to work by giving it the proper ingredients. Some herbs work by helping your body to produce the natural chemicals that keep it functioning properly. Some herbs work by helping to slow down the production of chemicals that are being overproduced. Some herbs work by helping you to relax so your body can heal itself. Herbs work in a variety of ways, but they do work when used properly.

Another frequent comment that I encounter is, “I tried this natural remedy and it totally didn’t work. Natural remedies are silly.” Really? So, let’s say you and your best friend both have strep throat. You both go to the doctor and are prescribed some amoxicillin. Your friend is better in a week, but two weeks later, you are on your second round of antibiotics and still sick as a dog. Does that mean the amoxicillin doesn’t work? No. It just means that it didn’t work for you. So, while your friend has now moved on to trying to clear up the yeast infection that the amoxicillin caused, you are still stuck trying to clear up the strep throat AND the yeast infection. Lucky you, huh?

Herbs and other natural remedies are no different. There is no one-size-fits-all advice. That is why it is so crucial that you don’t simply take herbs as medicine without consulting a real, tried-and-true herbalist. If your herbalist isn’t asking you questions like, “What is your diet like?” “What color is your pee?” or “How often do you poop?” then you probably aren’t dealing with a reliable herbalist. Sometimes, the first herb or herb blend you try isn’t going to work. Tell your herbalist that it isn’t working and they will tweak it a bit…add something new or take something away. That’s just how it works.

It all comes back to this: there is no magic remedy. If you are not willing to give up the junk and replace it with safe, nutritious, healthy foods, then don’t expect good health.

So, let’s recap:
If you are serious about wanting to restore your good health, you need to start with the following:
~Quit eating and drinking crap. This includes anything with ingredients you cannot pronounce and/or don’t know what they are.
~Quit rubbing toxic chemicals into your skin.
~Drink more water.
~Get lots of fresh air and sunshine.
~Walk barefoot in the yard.
~Laugh more often.
~Love bigger.

Ah….I feel cleansed!





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Picture this common scenario:

It’s 2 am and you wake to a crying child.  You touch their forehead and are alarmed at the heat radiating from them.  You rush to grab the thermometer and your fear escalates when you see 100…or 101…or 102. You grab the Tylenol or Ibuprofen to medicate your child at the same time you grab the phone to call the doctor.

Okay, now hit the rewind and imagine the scene played out like this:

It’s 2 am and you wake to a crying child.  You touch their forehead and are alarmed at the heat radiating from them. You climb from your bed and head to the kitchen to get your child a cup of warm herbal tea.  When the tea is gone, you take a deep breath and lay your child in bed with you.  You give a silent prayer of thanks that whatever may be ailing your child, at least their immune system is functioning enough to build that fever!

Which reaction is the right one?  Under normal circumstances, the second scenario is the correct answer.  Really.

Yes, I know your doctor told you to alternate acetaminophen and ibuprofen every few hours to relieve pain and get their fever down.  Your doctor really shouldn’t have told you that, though.  Here is why:

Fevers are awesome!  Fevers are the bodies way of killing off all the bad little germs that try to attack you.  If you stop the fever, you stop the healing process.  If your body doesn’t get hot enough to cook those germs to death, they multiply.  Before you know it, your body is overtaken by an army of germs.

Did you know that, unless there is a condition present that affects the hypothalamus (which is exceptionally rare), the fever will not exceed 105 degrees?  Seriously.

Yes, I know that you’ve heard how a high fever will cause seizures and brain damage and other awful things.  In reality, that is unlikely to ever happen unless you fail to keep the body hydrated.  That is why it is crucial to keep the liquid intake high while suffering through a fever.  Your body needs moist heat to do its job, but a fever eats up that moisture fast.  You must replenish it often to protect the body and the brain.

Of course, water is the first choice – unless it is city water that has been treated with chemicals. Distilled water or well water is the best choice when you are sick. Fresh juice is the other option.  Notice I specified fresh?  It is almost impossible to find juice in the grocery store that doesn’t contain sugar, corn by-products or artificial sweeteners, all of which will make the germs spread a little quicker and make the body have to work a little harder to get well. Fresh juice has the added benefits of things like Vitamin C, as well as other vitamins and nutrients the body needs to heal. And, no, Gatorade shouldn’t be an option, either.  Water and fresh juice.  That’s it.

And, let us not forget that acetaminophen and ibuprofen are both known to cause health issues, including liver and kidney damage.

So, let’s go back to the second scenario.  What kind of herbal tea do you give your feverish child?  My first choice is an equal mix of peppermint and catnip.  Both of these herbs are fantastic for helping to relieve general pain, especially pain caused by an imbalance in the system like infection.  They promote sweating, which helps the body to rid itself of toxins and germs.  They help sooth and invigorate the system.  Catnip is also a mild sedative that is safe for all ages, so it will help bring on restful sleep, which will allow the body time to heal itself.

What else can you do to deal with a fever, be it your’s or your child’s?  Warm baths with a couple scoops of epsom salt will help draw toxins out of the system.

Cool wash cloths or cold packs on the forehead and back of the neck will help provide relief from the heat without actually lowering the internal temperature of the body.

Fresh air and sunshine.  This one is really important.  When illness strikes, our first instinct is to crawl into bed, tuck the covers around us and hide from the outside world.  Don’t do it!  Take 10 minutes to step outside and soak up a few rays of sun.  The sun gives your body much of what it needs to heal. Fresh air provides a clean source of much-needed oxygen, without all the nasty sick germs mixed in.

Finally, help your body out.  Garlic, onions, ginseng, astragalus, cayenne, honey, raw fruits and veggies…all of these will boost your immune system and give it some extra ‘oomph’ to kick out whatever is ailing it!

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