Tag Archives: holistic healing

Breast Health Through Liver Health

liverThe health of your liver is closely linked with breast health. The liver processes hormones, but also toxins from your food, medications and drugs, commercial drinks and alcohol, and the environment. When too many of these toxins are in the body, the liver gets sluggish and can’t work optimally. This directly affects the breasts because they rely on the liver to help move toxic waste out of the body, some of which can collect in breast tissue.

Some studies show women who drink two or more alcoholic beverages per day have a 40% higher rate of breast cancer than women who don’t drink alcohol. This could be because alcohol puts more stress on the liver, besides contributing to an acidic environment.

If your intestines are toxic and sluggish and do not move on schedule, toxins released from the liver to be expelled get reabsorbed into the bloodstream. This creates a cycle of re-polluting the liver. The following steps will help your liver become healthier and function in the way nature intended.

  • Eat plenty of leafy greens every day, such as kale, swiss chard, mustard greens, collards, and dandelion. I add these greens to a morning smoothie.
  • Take dandelion tincture in a little water or make an infusion by adding boiling water to an ounce of dried dandelion leaves. Let sit for several hours, strain, and drink the tea.
  • Take milk thistle extract for at least one month. Milk thistle extract can be found at any natural foods store. Follow label directions.
  • Drink plenty of purified water.
  • Heal emotions of anger, frustration, and indecisiveness through methods such as counseling and energy work.
  • Avoid all processed and fast foods, fried and fatty foods, sugars, white flour, and alcohol.

Transforming Depression into Wisdom

Sunny flowers can help brighten your mood. Yes, for men, too.

Sunny flowers can help brighten your mood. Yes, for men, too.

The way you think about the world, others, yourself, and the conditions of your life will correlate to your mood. Your perceptions of your relationships, your health, job or career, housework and chores, your money and bills will become your habitual state of mind. Often, these mental states creep in quietly and before you know it, they’ve become normal. Though it’s not fun to hear this when you’re in the midst of depression, you have the choice as to whether your mind states are pleasant or not.

Thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, and emotions alter brain chemistry. So does pollution from air, water, and electricity, processed foods, sugar, caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and even a lack of protein absorption. Dark moods can be triggered by loss, chronic illness, relationship problems, work stress, family crises, financial worries, and even unexpected change. Is there any wonder depression is so common?

But common as it might be, depression is a wake-up call to pay attention. What is the deeper meaning depression brings? What have we not been addressing within ourselves? Depression asks us to listen to its subtle messages so we can gain understanding and wisdom. We, as a culture, have been satisfied with avoiding deeper meaning. We seem determined to skim the surface, taking a pill whenever we don’t feel quite right. But when we act with courage to look within and alter habitual beliefs and thoughts, life expands and takes on new meaning.

There are many ways to be vital, strong, positive, hopeful, and joyous. Journaling and exercise, meditation, visualization, energy healing, acupuncture, chiropractic adjustments, going out in nature, proper nutrition, the use of mood-lifting essential oils, becoming more fully your authentic self, shifting your thoughts toward the positive, releasing the energies and expectations of others (often done through methods that access your unconscious mind such as energy work, hypnosis, biofeedback, or even simple visualization) ~ each of these can help you manage dark places.

Never allow yourself to despair for long. It’s okay to allow some blue moods, but if they stretch out for weeks, commit to getting assistance to help you through. There is hope and the journey is not that long.

Revitalize Your Body with Gua Sha

guaGua Sha means “to extract toxins” and has been used in China for over 2,000 years to alleviate stiffness and pain, bring back mobility and circulation, heal digestive disorders, release toxins and stagnant energy, and generally revitalize the body. It is also known to treat tumors and cysts. Most acupuncturists are trained to use this technique.

During a Gua Sha treatment, strokes are made over your skin with a smooth-edged tool such as polished jade, although an item as simple as a lid from a jar can be used. Gua Sha is done in areas of congestion, tightness, tension, or discomfort on your neck, shoulders, and back, but sometimes on your chest and abdomen. Blood gets released from peripheral capillaries while fluid under your skin is pushed, creating space. Toxic fluid from deep in the tissue rises to the skin’s surface into the space. This causes the skin to turn red or take on the coloration of bruising. It is not bruising though, and clears up in a couple of days. It is actually a welcome sight to see this “Sha” coming to the surface of the skin, because it indicates the release of old, trapped energy. The color of bruising is a sign of healing.

Gua Sha is not painful. Instead there is a sense of relief as the stagnant energy is freed. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the freed energy is also called qi, pronounced “chee” in China. Stagnant qi is associated with pain and areas of oxygen deprivation. In the case of breast disease, Gua Sha is a way to increase oxygen in your tissue while moving stagnant energy and releasing toxins. It is believed that exposing the Sha — indicated by the discoloration that occurs — removes disease from deep within the body.

If you’re in pain, or have recently had surgery or other traumas that have areas of stagnation around them, ask your acupuncturist to “gua sha” you. You’ll be glad you did!

5 Ways to Reduce Breast Pain

breast healthBreast pain is a frequent complaint heard by doctors. Reportedly, women complaining about it are overly busy, doing many things in little time. Like all pain, breast pain is holistic. It affects the body, emotions, mind, and spirit. Through pain we are given the opportunity to harmonize our lives before something more serious comes along with a louder message.

According to ancient Traditional Chinese Medicine, pain indicates stagnation which can lead to disease. Stagnation can occur when the normal flow of fluid, including blood and lymph, slows down and becomes sluggish. Given the high rates of breast cancer, it makes sense to get plenty of movement through the breast tissue. Prevent clothing and bras from restricting your natural circulation. Yoga, massage, qi gong, and other body movement can enhance circulation and decrease breast pain.

When we listen to the messages pain carries, we become wise, improve our lives, prevent future disease, and participate in doing something to feel better. Here are five things you can do to “listen” to breast pain the next time it speaks to you.

  1. Experiment with various food and beverage choices to reduce caffeine.
  2. Hormones gone wild can contribute to breast pain. I recommend working with a naturopath or holistic doctor to have your hormone levels tested. From there, you will be able to know what needs balancing.
  3. Wear properly fitted bras and avoid tight clothing which can compress your lymphatic system and cut off healthy circulation. A poorly-fitted bra or top leaves marks on your skin, indicating poor circulation.
  4. Process your emotions in healthy ways. Research indicates a strong link between emotions and breast dis-ease.
  5. Foster self-nurturance. If you were your own precious child, what would you do to help her feel safe, nourished, and comforted?

Balancing Your Hormones? Pay Attention to Your Adrenal Glands

Due to stress and poor diet, the function of the adrenal glands is diminished. Three naturopaths I know have indicated that almost every one of their patients has adrenal deficiency, an under-diagnosed condition attributed to many health issues including tiredness, recurring infections, failing immune system, decreased sex drive, infertility, salt cravings, achiness, low blood pressure, dizziness when standing, and hypoglycemia.

The adrenals are small glands above your kidneys in your lower back. They secrete over 50 hormones including epinephrine (adrenaline), cortisol, aldosterone, progesterone, DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone), estrogen, and testosterone. They are responsible for the fight or flight response, a life-saving mechanism designed to strengthen our bodies in times of extreme stress. As a result, stress is one primary cause of adrenal deficiency.

During stress, the adrenals release cortisol. (High levels of this hormone are linked to breast cancer.) When the adrenals are fatigued from overwork, extra progesterone is sent in to help support them. Since the hormone progesterone helps keep your levels of estrogen balanced, it gets distracted from doing so when it steps away from its post to help your adrenals. This cycle of stress and adrenal fatigue can continue indefinitely. Meanwhile, your hormones struggle to maintain some sort of normalcy.

Adrenal deficiency and the associated symptoms can be reversed. One way is to stop all the rushing around and rest. Lie down as often as you can. Meditate, sleep adequately, eat well, and limit both sugar and caffeine, which stress the adrenals. All of the things you know to heal stress also heal the adrenals.

Balancing hormones means creating an internal condition that is as close to your natural rhythm as possible. The natural rhythm of a human being does not involve speeding down a highway or rushing around to get everything scratched off a to-do list each day. To get closer to your own natural rhythm, take time for yourself, slow down, and breathe.

7 Ways to Have a Real Thanksgiving

Recently I asked a friend, “What do you think is the importance of gratitude?” He said, “I feel good. It opens my heart up. Maybe that is enough. But it is a form of delight. I have a need to get to the feeling of gratitude. I can’t will it, but instead I must feel it. It comes from the act of giving. God gives us all this abundance. Gratitude is a feeling you show toward kindness or a blessing.” Wow!

Of course, it’s easier to feel deeply grateful when life is going well. But the practice and real treasure comes when you express appreciation for life even when it’s difficult.

Professors of Psychology Michael McCullough and Robert Emmons did research on gratitude and thanksgiving. Their studies found that daily gratitude exercises lead to higher alertness, enthusiasm, optimism, and more energy. They also found that grateful people feel more loved, less stressed, and less depressed. They exercise more regularly and make more progress on personal goals. All this from having gratitude for something! And each day, there is something to be grateful for.

As our gratitude holiday approaches, my practice is to keep my thoughts focused on what it’s truly about (between running to the store for more cranberries…). Here are my 7 ways to have a real Thanksgiving.

1. List 10 parts of your body that function reliably. For example, your ears, eyes, heart, bladder, kidneys, knees, ankles, toes, fingers, wrists, stomach, nose, eyebrows…

2. List 10 things that make you happy.

3. List 10 people who have helped you in the past, no matter how small.

4. List 10 people you have helped, no matter how small.

5. List 10 things you are grateful for in your life.

6. List all of the good that has come into your life in the last 5 years.

7. Complete the following sentence: I’m so happy and grateful now that…

8 Ways to Keep the Acid-Alkaline Balance in Your Body

alkalineWhy do we need to pay attention to our “acid-alkaline balance?” Some say it’s nonsense, but I believe it’s something to keep in mind on your path to health and vitality. Your body can be too acidic if its pH, or potential Hydrogen, is acid forming. When we measure pH, we measure the degree to which negative ions and positive ions push against each other. Negative ions are alkaline-forming. Positive ions are acid-forming.

Most people who eat the Standard American Diet (SAD — and it truly is) who live in our modern society have too much acidity in their bodies. Processed, fried, and fast foods, alcohol, sugars, white flour, meats, stressful environments, noise and chemical pollutants, all cause an acidic environment in the body. Stress, worry, anxiety, anger, and fear cause acidity in the body.

Donna Gates, author of The Body Ecology Diet: Recovering Your Health and Rebuilding Your Immunity, says, “When cells live too long in an acidic condition, they adapt to it by mutating and becoming malignant. Long-term acidic conditions in our bodies provide perfect environments for cancer and auto-immune diseases like AIDS to flourish. Most people with these disorders also have candidiasis.”

Your own alkalinity can be tested using special strips, which you can find in a natural foods market. Your pH level is taken from your saliva or urine first thing in the morning. A balanced urine pH is approximately 6.4. It’s interesting to see what the strips indicate, but it isn’t always an accurate reading. A blood test would be more accurate.

I think it’s important to take steps to alkalize your body whether or not you know your pH levels. You can create your own balanced internal pH. Following the 8 ways on this list will encourage a healthy acid-alkaline balance in your body.

1. Spend adequate time outdoors in sunlight – twenty to thirty minutes per day. Even when it’s cloudy.

2. Have a regular pattern of sleep. Go to bed and get up at the same time each day.

3. Use an 80/20 ratio of alkaline-forming foods to acid-forming foods. You can find a list of alkaline and acid-forming foods if you do an online search.

4. Rest and reduce stress.

5. Walk by water or by the sea.

6. Eat fresh foods found in nature including an abundance of vegetables.

7. First thing in the morning drink the juice of ½ lemon water in a tall glass of warm water. Although citrus is acidic, your digestion uses the acidic parts and leaves an alkaline residue.

8. Utilize natural healing such as acupuncture, energy work, reflexology, color and music therapy, yoga, chiropractic, and spiritual healing, all of which have alkaline forming reactions in the body.

The Benefits of Lymphatic Massage for Breast Health

lymphatic massageYour lymph is part of a circulatory order in your body that defends you from harmful organisms that can cause disease. It’s important for women to note that breasts need lymphatic movement for circulation and drainage, but they don’t have muscles to help them move. This is where lymphatic massage is particularly helpful. Lymphatic massage gently moves the lymph so it can function properly. It can also relieve tightness in your back, shoulder, neck, and chest muscles which helps your lymphatic system to do the job it was designed to do.

Lymphatic movement helps you recover from the trauma of any type of surgery. It also helps release toxins in the area (and throughout your body). The technique is very gentle – and you can do it on yourself. A lymphatic massage therapist can teach you how to “pump” in specific directions and at a particular pace to imitate how lymph naturally moves in your body. For women wanting greater breast health, these following exercises which are from Daya Fisch, a lymphatic massage specialist and founder of The Breast Health Project, www.breasthealthproject.com.

For each of these exercises, use light pressure to move the breast and then release gently.

Put your hand in your armpit and push inward and upward. Go deep into the armpit. Pump upward and release. Repeat 10-20 times.
Put your hand on your entire breast and move it upward toward your armpit. If your breasts are large, you might need to use different hand positions. Repeat 10 times.
Place your hand over your entire breast and move it inward toward the chest wall. Repeat 5 times.
Holding your breast stable with one hand, use the other hand to pump the upper inner quadrant of your breast up toward your neck. Repeat 5 times.

The Healing Power of Art

Jim Dine, artist. "Four Hearts" 1969

Jim Dine, artist. “Four Hearts” 1969

Creativity can be deeply healing. A wise colleague told me that in his 30 years as a healer he never saw a person with growths in the body who didn’t also have repressed creativity. This makes sense. We are born to create. Whether we design, invent, paint, draw, color, write, sculpt, build, weave, bake, or tend a garden, creative energy needs an outlet. Let’s talk about the healing power of art.

The first law of thermodynamics states that energy is neither created nor destroyed but is changed from one form to another. The energy inherent in the desire to create is given outward expression and transformed into a song, a garden, a new deck, a soup. We don’t have to think of creativity only in the form of art such as painting. When we watch children they show us a variety of creative expression. Maybe you pushed your creativity aside as you grew older, but your ability to create something new is still there.

When creativity is held inside it’s like a stream blocked by a dam. The water has no place to go. When a stream is blocked, it changes into a puddle or a pond. There isn’t any forward movement, only stagnation. What if the same thing happens in the human body when creativity has no place to go? Since creativity can be seen as energy, a force desirous of movement, what happens when it’s blocked? Could it contribute to growths in the body?

Do you remember a time when you created effortlessly? What did you love? Colored pencils, fabric, paint, clay, daydreaming, crayons, crafts, yarn, dirt, plants, and flowers? Take a moment to remind yourself of all the ways you loved to create. Which of these could you begin again?

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