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Self Healing

Healing Aroma Treatments for Dry Winter Skin

Your At – Home Ayurvedic Spa to Nourish Body, Mind, and Senses!

Vata is in full swing this early winter with cold blustery winds, bone chilling temps and parched – for – moisture skin. Warm and nourishing essential oil infused self-massages are a perfect antidote to vata season driven mental stress, anxiousness, excessive nervous energy, painful joints and body. Abhyanga or self-massage traditionally applied with sneha (Sanskrit word for oil and love/affection) before or after warm showers is an essential component of dinacharya or daily routine in Ayurveda. Add to this, the healing properties of essential oils and you have powerful yet gentle self – care and healing at your fingertips.

A quick word about essential oils:

These are concentrated extracts taken from roots, bark, leaves, seeds or blossoms of plants with each containing its own mix of active ingredients that enhance one’s mood, cognitive, psychological or physical wellbeing. Inhaling essential oil molecules, or absorbing essential oils through the skin, transmits messages to the limbic system – a brain region responsible for controlling emotions and influencing the nervous system. Scientists have recently discovered that our skin contains olfactory receptors, in other words, our skin has the capacity to smell, and create healthy skin cells after sandalwood oil is applied to it.

A plethora of research continues to confirm that essential oils or nature’s fragrant pharmacy contain compounds with an extremely broad range of bio-chemical effects that are beneficial in many physical, mental and emotional conditions. For example, researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center recently reported a marked decrease in stress level of their adult emergency room staff after essential oil diffusers were placed in the work environment.

The distillation process from plants to essential oils can be expensive, long and labor intensive: An ounce of rose essential oil is extracted from 300 pounds of roses whereas an ounce of lavender oil requires 6 pounds of flowers. The soil and regions in which these plants are grown further add unique properties and to each essential oil.

Here are two simple recipes that my clients have integrated into their daily routine to nourish their winter skin and senses:

1- Add 15-20 (more or less per one’s preference) drops of Essential Oil(s) of your choice – I like a combination of lavender, rose and Indian sandalwood – to 16 oz. good quality light sesame oil such as Neutrogena’s body oil.
Shake gently and massage on warm skin after a shower.

2- Add about 10 drops of EO(s) of your choice to 8 oz. of warm organic coconut oil.
Since coconut oil congeals upon cooling, you can gently warm single use portions of this infusion in a small Pyrex bowl on an electric oil diffuser in the bathroom while you shower and massage and moisturize your warmed skin.

Coconut oil is better than commercial body lotions as these contain lots of water, petroleum based ingredients and artificial scents. In contrast, coconut oil provides deep moisture, strengthens underlying tissues and like essential oils contain nature’s intelligence and healing properties.

Essential oil from Lavender has been shown to promote muscle relaxation, reduce stress, insomnia, and anxiety, disinfect skin and enhance blood circulation. It should not be used by pre-pubescent boys
Essential oil of rose may help relieve stress, according to a 2009 study published in Natural Product Communications. For the study, 40 healthy volunteers absorbed either rose essential oil or a placebo through their skin. Results revealed that those who received rose essential oil experienced a greater increase in feelings of calm and relaxation, as well as greater decrease in breathing rate and blood pressure, compared to those who received the placebo. Additionally rose oil is purported to reduce wrinkles, improve moisture, and reverse signs of aging.
Essential oil of Sandalwood contains a chemical component that stimulates the pineal gland in the brain and creates a deep relaxation of the nervous system. This is why it has been used for centuries to enhance meditative experiences and a natural sleep remedy. It also soothes and rejuvenates skin.
• Rub a few drops of EO infused body oil to the soles of your feet for a good night sleep.
• Do not apply Essential Oils directly to skin or place them near open flame.
• Essential oils should not be used by pregnant women or persons with uncontrolled high or low blood pressure without medical consult.

Future posts will include further information on essential oils, Ayurvedic routines for changing seasons and other practical and simple healthy lifestyle and self-healing tips.

Turmeric Talk

Many spices have powerful medicinal properties and been used to promote healing for thousands of years.
Turmeric and its bio-active compound Curcumin, “star players” of nature’s pharmacy, have been extensively studied for their therapeutic applications. Research has shown that they can:

• Support healthy cholesterol levels.
• Suppress thrombosis and myocardial infarction(blood clotting and heart attacks).
• Suppress symptoms of multiple sclerosis.
• Suppress tumor formation.
• Increase bile secretion.
• Suppress symptoms associated with type 2 diabetes.
• Enhance wound healing.
• Protect against cataracts.
• Suppress symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
• Protect against liver damage, etc.

According to DR. Andrew Weil, “One of the most comprehensive summaries of turmeric studies to date was published by the respected ethnobotanist James A. Duke, Phd., in the October, 2007 issue of Alternative & Complementary Therapies, and summarized in the July, 2008, issue of the American Botanical Council publication HerbClip.

Reviewing some 700 studies, Duke concluded that turmeric appears to outperform many pharmaceuticals in its effects against several chronic, debilitating diseases, and does so with virtually no adverse side effects. Here are some of the diseases that turmeric has been found to help prevent or alleviate:

Alzheimer’s disease: Duke found more than 50 studies on turmeric’s effects in addressing Alzheimer’s disease. The reports indicate that extracts of turmeric contain a number of natural agents that block the formation of beta-amyloid, the substance responsible for the plaques that slowly obstruct cerebral function in Alzheimer’s disease.
Arthritis: Turmeric contains more than two dozen anti-inflammatory compounds, including sixdifferent COX-2-inhibitors (the COX-2 enzyme promotes pain, swelling and inflammation; inhibitors selectively block that enzyme). By itself, writes Duke, curcumin – the component in turmeric most often cited for its healthful effects – is a multifaceted anti-inflammatory agent, and studies of the efficacy of curcumin have demonstrated positive changes in arthritic symptoms.

Cancer: Duke found more than 200 citations for turmeric and cancer and more than 700 for curcumin and cancer. He noted that in the handbook Phytochemicals: Mechanisms of Action, curcumin and/or turmeric were effective in animal models in prevention and/or treatment of colon cancer, mammary cancer, prostate cancer, murine hepatocarcinogenesis (liver cancer in rats), esophageal cancer, and oral cancer. Duke said that the effectiveness of the herb against these cancers compared favorably with that reported for pharmaceuticals.”

Here are some easy ways to add turmeric in your diet:

1- Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s Calming Creamy Turmeric Tea:

Ingredients
• 1 cup almond milk
• 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
• 1 tsp cinnamon
• 1 tsp honey
• 1/4 tsp ginger

Directions
Heat the almond milk in a microwave, stir in the spices and drizzle the honey on top. Enjoy!

***

2-Creamy Green Smoothie
Note: Nutribullet works best for quick and easy prep and clean up

Ingredients
• A handful of mixed power greens- kale, spinach etc.
• 1 chopped celery or ½ sliced cucumber
• 1 well-scrubbed turmeric root ( available on line or at Indian, Asian or health food stores)
• ¼ avocado ( healthy fat helps with curcumin absorption)
• A handful of blueberries
• 1 tablespoon power boosters such as goji berries, flax seeds etc.
• Chilled coconut water or spring water

Directions
Pulverize all and enjoy!

***

3- Add chopped turmeric root to stir-fried veggies.

Note:
Although Turmeric usually does not cause significant side effects, it is advisable to check with your healthcare provider before taking turmeric supplements.
• Nothing stated on this website should be construed as medical treatment, advice or diagnosis.

BITS-Body Intelligence Tips

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”
– Hippocrates

Below are some health tips from Dr. Deepak Chopra.
They can be found in his book: Perfect Health by Dr. Chopra, Deepak, Three Rivers Press, 1991.

1. Eat in a settled atmosphere
2. Never eat when you are upset
3. Always sit down to eat.
4. Eat only when you feel hungry
5. Reduce ice-cold food and drink.
6. Don’t talk while chewing your food.
7. Eat at a moderate pace, neither too fast nor too slow.
8. Wait until one meal is digested before eating the next.
9. Sip warm water with your meal.
10. Eat freshly cooked meals whenever possible.
11. Minimize raw foods-cooked food is much easier to digest.
12. Do not cook with honey-heated honey is considered to produce ama (toxic residue).
13. Drink milk separately from meals, either alone or with other sweet foods.
14. Experience all six tastes at every meal.
15. Leave one-third to one-quarter of your stomach empty to aid digestion.
16. Sit quietly for a few minutes after your meal.
(Note: Find detailed information in Dr. Chopra’s book)

Ayurveda

Let’s chew on healthy digestion …

  • Digestion begins in the mouth as the food mixes with digestive enzymes of the saliva. Although we may not choose to follow the Ayurvedic principle of chewing each mouthful 32 times, thorough chewing helps break down complex carbs and saliva lubricated bolus, soft mass of chewed food, easily travels through the esophagus. Additionally, chewing helps release gastric juices and prepares the stomach to receive food.
  • Smaller food particles are easily digested while helping the small intestines absorb nutrients. Conversely improperly digested, large food particles can result in a host of digestive problems such as bloating, gas, diarrhea etc.
  • Eating food while feeling upset or angry, is discouraged in Ayurveda for many reasons including the fact that the release of stress hormones impede proper digestion and nutrient absorption.
  • Attune to the natural rhythms of nature and eat the largest meal at midday when the sun and digestion and metabolism are at their peak.

Let’s toast to healthy digestion…

  • Drinking cold water or drinks with meals adversely affect digestion by overly diluting the gastric juices. It has been shown that water that is one degree below the body temperature slows the digestive process by five minutes and so on.
  • Sipping warm or hot water throughout the day strengthens digestion, relieves heartburn, help clear sinuses, reduce cravings and flushes ama, the metabolic toxins of the body.
  • Sipping warm water with or after meals helps break down food and supports healthy absorption of nutrients.
  • According to Dr. Michael Wald, the director of Nutritional Services at Integrated Medicine and Nutrition in Mount Kisco NY, the receptors in the mouth, esophagus, stomach and intestines stimulate the pleasure centers of the brain with the consumption of hot water.

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