Category Archives: Holistic Woman

About my work and philosophy from an interview with Ashley Asti

AshleyOnce in a while, someone emerges who says, “Hey, what is it you’re up to in life? It sure looks interesting!” This happened to me recently when entrepreneur, activist, and writer Ashley Asti contacted me after finding my book.

What I love about this world of technology we now find ourselves in, is anyone in the world can instantly connect with someone else, just like that. So when Ashley wrote and asked if she could interview me, I of course said yes. I found her to be articulate, thoughtful, and aware, giving me hope for the next generation and its concern for our planet and all of us who inhabit it.

Thank you to sweet Ashley for writing an article with wisdom and grace.

Read the article here…

70 Blog Posts

All bundled up on a recent visit to Switzerland.

All bundled up on a recent visit to Switzerland.

My “dashboard” tells me I’ve got exactly 70 blog posts on my little Holistic Woman blog. The topics range from inner peace to vitality, from breast health to general women’s health, from finding balance to protecting yourself from wifi, from organic foods to recipes, and from releasing toxins to embracing joy.

So, I’m going to take a breather from my regular posting to focus on a book project I’ve been thinking about for awhile. Feel free to look through the 70 posts that are here. They are timely and timeless, full of useful ideas for a healthier, more balanced life.

Occasionally I’ll add a new post, just not as frequently for now, so if you’d like to know about any new posts be sure to subscribe to Holistic Woman by putting your email address in the box at the upper right sidebar. Meanwhile, for now I bid you adieu!

Bestseller List Book Review & Giveaway

Diana Ross's "Breast Cancer Authority" site features my book The Holistic Approach to Breast Cancer.

Diana Ross’s “Breast Cancer Authority” site features my book The Holistic Approach to Breast Cancer.

A while back I met a wonderfully innovative woman named Diana Ross who is the cofounder of Breast Cancer Yoga. Diana also founded a community-based forum called “Breast Cancer Authority” and I’m an occasional contributor to the Breast Cancer Authority Blog.

Currently, the Breast Cancer Authority site is featuring my book, The Holistic Approach to Breast Cancer in a bestseller list book review and giveaway. This is a fun way to share the book with people, it’s a way for you to win a free copy of the book, and I get to listen in on what a few more people have to say about a topic of great importance to me: addressing breast dis-ease from a holistic, nurturing, conscious perspective. (Here you can read a Kirkus Review of my book for an unbiased view.)

Go ahead and take a look at Diana Ross’s Breast Cancer Authority blog and comment on the current article about my book to be entered in the drawing for a free copy of The Holistic Approach to Breast Cancer. Then peruse the whole site because its one of the best I’ve seen. It’s full of information for anyone wanting support and encouragement to prevent and heal from breast cancer. And, if you get to it immediately, you’ll see that my book is featured on the Home page!

 

How to Use a Castor Oil Pack

castor oil plantInformation about castor oil packs came from the intuitive readings of Edgar Cayce in the early part of the 20th century. In these readings, he recommended the application of castor oil for various ailments. For example, the packs are used on the liver to help with detoxification, the abdomen for digestive complaints, the uterus for fibroids, and on the breasts to help dissolve growths.

Castor oil is made up of a triglyceride of fatty acids, 90% of which is ricinoleic acid, an unsaturated fatty acid. Ricinoleic acid has been shown to be effective in preventing the growth of various types of bacteria, yeast, molds, and viruses.

When I first learned of castor oil packs, I was told that the oil seeps into the skin and surrounding tissue creating a downward, outward movement. For example, a castor oil pack over the uterus can cause a delayed period to start because of its ability to start the downward flow.

In his book The Oil That Heals: A Physician’s Success with Castor Oil Treatments, William McGarey, M.D. says castor oil stimulates and removes adhesions and lesions. It helps dissolve lumps in the breasts and heal scar tissue. Using castor oil packs can enhance eliminations of all kinds, increase lymph flow, and relieve pain and inflammation.

How to Use a Castor Oil Pack

Cotton flannel is often recommended, but I prefer to use an unbleached pre-washed white t-shirt cut into wide strips and folded so there are at least three layers.

Place the folded cotton on plastic wrap, with the plastic just larger than the fabric piece.
Pour castor oil over the cotton to saturate it (but not dripping).
Place the pack on the location, oily side down, plastic on top.
Put a thin towel over the plastic and cover it with a hot water bottle or other heated pack. Avoid using electric heating pads if possible, as the electrical current can cause disturbances in your energy field. You can use a microwaveable heating pad.
Rest with the pack on for about 30 minutes.

Castor oil will stain fabric, so when you are finished with the pack, wipe the oil away completely. You might want to wear an old t-shirt or designate a couple of shirts specifically to wear right after you use the packs.

Be sure to drink plenty of water to help flush out toxins. You can reuse your pack at least 20 times by keeping it in the refrigerator between uses. Bring it to room temperature before using it. Some people use the packs for three days and take a break for three days, but you can use the packs for many consecutive days, occasionally taking a break for a week at a time and, for women, during your monthly cycle.

It’s Earth Day! What Can We Do?

earth dayIt’s been 44 years since the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970 and millions of people have been taught to protect our environment. Despite this, pollution and disregard of the planet has reached a truly disturbing level.

During an interesting but challenging moment in my life about 15 years ago, I temporarily moved from San Diego to Boston. The culture shock was stunning, but the biggest impact the cultural differences made on me was Boston’s lack of recycling. In a town full to the brim with educated people there was a complete disinterest in the concept of separating trash. This meant that I, too, was tossing paper, bottles, or anything recyclable right into the waste bin where it would head to an already crowded landfill. It hurt to do it.

Recently I met someone from Boston who told me they still don’t do curbside recycling! Is it true? Unbelievable! I did a little research and found that, yep, it’s still true. However, environmental advocates are on it and you can read about it in The Boston Globe.

We’re all aware by now that our waterways are filthy. Marine and other wildlife life suffocate on our trash. There remains little respect for the earth, a disregard for the sanctity of nature, and a lack of concern for the health and wellness of living creatures. Yet, the most conscientious find it nearly impossible to have no negative impact on the environment. There is the ubiquitous use of plastics we can’t seem to avoid. Even the gentlest of souls among us are hard-pressed to live without contributing to our collective plight. 

I believe one solution is for each of us to take personal interest in cleaning up our sphere. In my region we load up our recycle bins with any and all paper, glass, metal, and plastic. All of nature’s scraps go in the yard waste bin. Home composting is encouraged. This leaves very little trash in the actual trash bins.

Aside from stepping gently on the earth and raising our own awareness, here are some practical ways we can do more:

  • When traveling, visiting a park, getting on a boat or an airplane, we can manage our trash. Pack it out for later recycling or don’t create any. If you live in an area that doesn’t recycle, complain loudly to your town officials.
  • Rethink grocery shopping. Purchase food that isn’t prepackaged. For the omnivores, you can get meat, fish, and chicken wrapped in paper. If you’re at the meat counter, tell them to skip plastic bags. Paper is fine for wrapping meats. And if you’re in a regular grocery store, avoid purchasing items that come on polystyrene (Styrofoam) trays. Polystyrene leaches toxic chemicals into your food and beverages.

As an aside, the manufacturing of polystyrene creates hazardous waste and affects the health of those exposed. It is made with non-sustainable petroleum, harms the ozone layer, and is dumped or blown into our streets and waterways as litter where living creatures ingest it and die. Polystyrene is not accepted by most recycling agencies. It doesn’t break down. It’s not necessary to ever use it.

Fortunately, through the help of organizations like Save Our Shores, my coastal California county has banned the use of Styrofoam as well as plastic bags. We carry our own reusable bags into stores. Recyclable paper products are used in place of that old nasty Styrofoam.

I was recently in Palm Desert and bought freshly made take-out food that, to my surprise, was handed to me in Styrofoam. I’m so used to not seeing it anymore I didn’t want to touch it! Palm Desert is still using plastic bags also. I look forward to the time when all of California bans this toxic habit.

  • If you buy six-packs of cans or bottles held together by plastic, please cut or tear apart the plastic. Never take one of these onto a boat or leave one lying around. They end up in the streets and the earth’s waters where they suffocate birds and sea animals, including dolphins.
  • Plastic containers are polluters. Yogurt, for example, can be bought in a large container and put into smaller reusable containers for transport to work or school. You can replace all types of cleaning products (and reduce the use of plastic bottles) by refilling the same bottle with simple vinegar and water. With a little research you’ll discover many ways to use vinegar (and baking soda) for most of your household cleaning, including clogged drains.
  • Recycle plastic bottles and tubes that hold your personal care products. Bring your own cup for take-out coffee or tea. Take water from home in a sustainable, non-plastic water bottle. Bring your lunch from home or eat where take-out packaging is compostable or recyclable. Use only compostable doggy clean-up bags. Be mindful of plastic toy purchases for both humans and animals.

Meanwhile, on this new Earth Day for 2014, I’m planning a new compost pile in the yard with an enclosure. My last pile flourished and I spread its rich dark soil around all the plants and trees near my house, but my dog wouldn’t stop using it as his personal round-the-clock snack bar. I’ll continue to cut back on plastic in every way possible and reduce my trash, now and throughout the year. What will you do?

The Holistic Approach to Breast Cancer Featured

BookCoverImageMy book The Holistic Approach to Breast Cancer is the topic of an article published last week in the Santa Cruz Weekly. Of course I have to tell you about it.

Written by local wellness reporter Maria Grusauskas after a personal interview, the article forced me into another level of acceptance that it’s okay for people to hear about some personal business. I’m not totally comfortable with my brush with the other side being laid bare, but I wrote about a personal subject with the intention of sharing information that will help others. And, humans are curious about some of the less-than-pleasant details.

If it helps people see the options and gain a fresh perspective, I’m for it. It’s just taken some getting used to, and it continues to be humbling, so kudos to Maria for pushing the envelope. I’ve had feedback this past week that indicates people are thinking more as a result of what Maria chose to include in the article.

As for the book itself, I do weave my personal experience through the pages, but it wasn’t my preference. My first choice was to offer the numerous ways you can build your immune system, detoxify, build your strength and courage, heal on all levels, and even reverse tumors. All this without saying a word about me or how I knew anything about it! But my editor said no. “People want a human story. You need to tell them what yours is.” Ugh!

So I returned to the book and began to add personal detail. It wasn’t comfortable to do, as I’m not one to easily reveal my medical history or even my ideas about how we relinquish our power (and minds) to a system that isn’t working all that well on behalf of breast cancer. But in the end, telling the story was a good thing.

I’ve had much positive feedback about how the book helps others see things from a fresh perspective because I shared my own experiences. In fact, just the other day someone exclaimed, “And you look so healthy!” Yes indeed. The Big C isn’t a death sentence, folks. I’m here to tell you that there is health and vitality, even after having that unwanted date with the dreaded C.

Back to the point. I hope you’ll check out this feature article and spread the news to your friends and loved ones that cancer doesn’t have to be such a scary word. There are many, many options and choices that can strengthen each of us beyond it to greater health and wellbeing. I’m not the only example. There are many of us!

Lost? Go to your base.

yoga womanLast year when I was on a weeklong women’s retreat at Spirit Rock I had the good fortune to take yoga classes from Mary Pafford. I went to the retreat in a grumbly mood, blaming perimenopause or whatever, and once there in my own private silent space I decided to indulge it. But I simply couldn’t maintain it after the first day, after Mary’s yoga class.

Her class got me back into my glorious body. Among other things, Mary teaches how to get into contact with your perineum. Brilliant! She teaches that women’s wisdom can come from deep within, deep down, way down, and so my dark attitude began to fade as I reconnected to this depth in myself through Mary’s playful example.

So, with her permission, here is what yoga teacher Mary Pafford says about going to your base, an excerpt from a longer piece titled “Periwinkle Ahoy! Tales of drought, overwhelm, and perineums.” I think you’ll benefit from her words of wisdom, especially in times of uncertainty and unease.

GATEWAY AND BANDHA

GATEWAY TO THE EARTH by Mary Pafford

This is where the perineum can be helpful. “When you don’t know where to go, go to the base.” A refrain in many of my classes. This is your internal GPS. When trauma arises we often close this area down, rather like an animal fearfully drawing its tail under and in. A temporary protection but many of us are walking around the universe with our tails drawn in as a permanent state of being. Or we have absolutely no connection to this area at all. There’s the taboo associated with sexuality and excretion and we just don’t want to go there. Beyond our own physical body, we have lost our way of being in touch with the world.

Consider the perineum not as a floor as its often called, but a sacred membrane and the way that we communicate on a deeper level with the earth, with our true nature. By simply being in contact, breathing here, one finds a sense of ground. Notice this when you are in transition or in some way threatened or overwhelmed. How helpful it is to just exist in the perineum, not contracting or tucking, just trusting the earth beneath and within you. “When you don’t know where to go, go to the base.” 
 
MULABANDHA

In the yoga world, some teachers encourage a strong engagement of the perineal muscles to draw the energy up and away from the earth to the heavens to cultivate Mulabandha. In this way, abandoning our human beingness ~ earthiness in the pursuit of “higher selves” ~ a new age type of refrain. If you listen to this little clip from Richard Freeman, you will see that this isn’t necessarily the most illuminating way to approach the pelvic floor… or life!

Richard suggests that the Goddess needs to be invited and cannot be forced, thus cultivating relationship rather than a practice of control, attainment, and separation from the mud of being. Can one root through the bones of the base of the pelvis and invite the rebound? The earth deities rise up and support life in the same way that we tend to the earth and this merges and supports our spiritual aspirations as many indigenous traditions encourage. In many of these traditions the earth is spirit – there is no separate word for spirituality.

Kirkus Review for The Holistic Approach to Breast Cancer

BookCoverImageAlthough I have many wonderful reviews of my book on Amazon.com, I’m pleased to present my first book review by Kirkus Reviews, a tough critic and trusted voice in the world of book reviews.

I waited for many weeks for this review to arrive, sometimes wondering what I would do if it were negative, perhaps reviewed by someone who “didn’t get it.” I figured I’d spend the first few days in seclusion, the next few weeks moping, and then get on with life. But, alas, it has arrived and I’m quite pleased with it. Here it is:

“In this debut memoir, a holistic healer shares her story of breast cancer and explores an array of approaches to physical and spiritual health.

Grant, a California-based holistic healer, found herself under the surgeon’s knife, facing breast cancer surgery, nearly a decade ago. In this wide-reaching guide, Grant details her personal struggle with her diagnosis, then touches on the variety of ways that she believes one can help combat breast cancer and most other “dis-eases.” “I simply couldn’t proceed blindly onward hoping surgery, caustic drugs, and radiation were enough to ‘get me back to my old life,’ ” writes Grant. “I had to give equal consideration to the importance of food, body movement, stress-reduction, immunity, environmental toxins, lifestyle, emotions, mind, and spirit.”

While it may be no surprise that a holistic healer would favor alternative approaches, Grant admits that she also had to overcome her own bias against traditional doctors in order to get better, with an acupuncturist friend telling her to “see them as healers, because they are. They are part of the world of healing and some of what they say is valid.” Thus, Grant acknowledges, “There is no right or wrong way. But there is a path that is best for you and I’m here to help you honor that.”

This accepting spirit infuses the narrative, which presents a host of holistic options in workbook style. Each chapter ends with a “Take a Moment for Yourself” section, featuring questions for self-reflection.

Grant’s book contains a wealth of information, from recipes to lists of inspirational music selections and health and healing reference works. Although this guide is largely well-organized, there is some repetition, and Grant’s personal story sometimes disappears within the larger topics she discusses. As a whole, however, this overview may be a welcome aid to those with breast cancer and helpful to anyone seeking to achieve a healthier life.

A personal, expansive tour into the world of holistic healing.”

Kirkus Reviews

By the way, my book is best in the paperback version so it can be easily used as a reference, but it’s a great deal for the Kindle currently at $4.99. It will be a valuable addition to your library, if I do say so myself.

Estrogen Dominance and Xenoestrogens

estrogenEstrogen dominance and xenoestrogens are words smart women are learning about to keep their bodies healthy and strong in our plasticized world.

Signs of excess estrogen in your body include painful or unpredictable periods, PMS, cervical dysplasia, depression, anxiety, worry, decreased libido, fatigue, weight gain in the hips and stomach, possibly cold hands and feet, and fibrocystic breasts or cancer. Estrogen dominance is partly caused from foods, cosmetics, and other products that carry xenoestrogens (fake estrogens) into the body.

Some chemicals found in plants act like the female sex hormone estradiol, our primary estrogen. Synthetic forms of this chemical are found in plastic, pesticides, dioxins, PCBs, and in drugs given to livestock and poultry to prevent miscarriage and promote growth.

To lower the chances for these xenoestrogens to enter your body and behave like estrogen, reduce or eliminate foods that come in plastic wrap and plastic packaging. This includes water you buy in plastic bottles, since chemicals in the plastic leach into food and water.

In a study at Tufts University published in Environmental Health Perspectives in 1991, Drs. Ana Soto and Carlos Sonnenschein observed that breast cancer cells placed in plastic dishes would grow quickly. Knowing these cells need estrogen to reproduce, they were curious about what contributed to the rapid cell growth. They discovered that the chemical nonylphenol, which prevents plastic from cracking, caused the growth of the breast cancer cells. Apparently nonylphenol had leached out of the plastic dishes and behaved like estrogen with the cells. Researchers then experimented with other commonly used plastics, detergents, and pesticides. They witnessed rapid growth when the breast cancer cells were exposed to these products. (See my post Breast Health through Liver Health for numerous ways to help your body clear these toxins.)

Conventionally-raised beef and dairy cows are given growth hormones. Their feed is treated with pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides. When you consume conventional milk, cheese, ice cream, cottage cheese, yogurt, chocolate, and processed foods with beef, milk, or milk products in them, you risk overloading your body with xenoestrogens. (Not to mention what the GMOs are doing.) Read more about this in Milk: Does it Do a Body Good?

Organic, grass-fed beef and dairy are the better choice. If you can’t find them or if they are too costly, look for hormone and pesticide-free products. Eat organic chicken and eggs when you can find them, organic grains, and produce that is free from toxic sprays. Note that chemicals used to kill bugs and fungi on the food supply penetrate the surface of whatever they land on, including the soil. Even washing these foods well before you eat them won’t take away the chemicals they have absorbed.

Sometimes you will be in situations where poor quality food and water is all there is. I find this happens most when I travel or attend public events. Until the “food consciousness” raises in this country and truly healthful choices are accessible, we can make the best of it based on what is available. Bless your food and water then return to your organic, food-from-nature, plastic-free diet when you return home.

Choose Butter from Grass-fed Cows ( & Never Margarine)

butterRemember when margarine replaced butter as a healthier alternative? Butter was bad and margarine was good. Even people who had heart attacks were told to avoid butter and use margarine instead. But we now know otherwise. That was simply poor advice.

This holiday season, refuse to use margarine and instead replace it with organic butter from grass-fed cows. It’s not only made a comeback, once again we’re seeing that food from the most natural sources found in nature has the most health benefits. You can set it out on the table proudly after tossing out the plastic margarine tub.

In her article “The Top 5 Best and Worst Foods of All Time,” my friend and fellow author Gina Renee says this about margarine: “Margarine is a non-food; a hydrogenated concoction of junk oils from genetically engineered soy, canola, and cottonseed mixed with artificial colors and flavors (to get it to look and taste like butter), stabilizers like propylene glycol to hold it together and make it spreadable, and preservatives so it can stay on the shelf or in your fridge a long, long, time. It’s a worthless so-called ‘food.’ Look at the ingredient label sometime–not too appetizing. Hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils increase cholesterol and rates of coronary heart disease, diabetes, cancer. And, they make us FAT–actually causing alterations in our fat cell size and number. Throw out the margarine and switch to organic, grass-fed, raw butter.”

margarineAbout 10 years ago I began to change my thinking about margarine. All my life I had avoided the dreaded butter, opting instead for margarine, which I believed was better, and which many people still believe is better. It isn’t! I can’t remember at this point why I believed margarine was better, but I can only assume it was the result of a savvy marketing campaign.

Many of our ancestors ate butter regularly without experiencing the rates of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity that are now common. Real butter from grass-fed cows contains trace minerals, lecithin, healthy cholesterol, and an important cancer preventing component called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). Organic butter from grass-fed cows provides this CLA, but when cows are fed grains or processed feed the CLA disappears.

It’s important to keep in mind that GMO soy and corn drenched in pesticides are used to feed conventionally-raised cattle. This is NOT their natural diet. Grass is their natural diet. Soy and corn cause the cows digestive disturbance and much more. So if you buy butter and it’s from a large factory farm, you won’t get all the positive benefits but you will get the pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides poured onto their GMO feed, plus the antibiotics and other drugs given to the cows to try to get them well from their horrific living conditions.

Please learn the truth about the serious debacle that GMOs are causing in our world (and in your own body) by reading a recent post by physician and guest blogger Dr. Randy Baker called Why Eat Organic Food? The time has come for us to take our power back.

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