• December 2013

December 2013

 

HOLIDAYS: THE HEALTHY, HOMEMADE WAY

feature holidayYou’ve heard the saying, “It’s the thought that counts.” This year, make your thoughts count and show your loved ones how much you care about their well-being by giving healthy, homemade gifts. Do-It-Yourself (DIY) gift making not only allows you to avoid the numerous hidden toxins that lurk in most store-bought products, it also allows you to save money and help promote healthy habits for your friends and family. As an added bonus, the process of making your own gifts is a fun way to exercise your own creativity and relieve some of the stress induced by the modern hustle of the holiday season. In the spirit of the season, here are 5 DIY-gift ideas that are sure to boost the health and mood of everyone on your list.

1. Infused Oils. The cooks in your life will devour these infused oils, bottled with love. Place dried herbs of your choice in a sterilized, dry jar and cover with olive oil. Place the jar in a saucepan and fill the pan about a quarter full of water. Let it simmer for about four to six hours. Remove the jar and cool completely before labeling. Get creative with your label and be sure to date the mixture and list the ingredients.

2. Aromatherapy Bath Salts. Mix one cup Epsom salt, a half-cup natural sea salt, 20 to 30 drops of your favorite essential oil and two to three tablespoons of dried herbs or botanicals in a bowl. Mix well and transfer into a glass jar. Use paint markers to decorate the jar or attach a creative label. Directions for use: add a half-cup of bath salts to warm running bath water, submerge body, and relax!

3. Healthy Homemade Granola in a Jar. For the person who always seems to be on-the-go, give a gift that will keep them energized and running at peak performance no matter where they are. There are tons of homemade granola recipes floating around the internet, and you can pick any one of them. To make it healthy, be sure to use only organic, additive-free ingredients. The great part about this gift is that all it takes is a trip to your local natural grocery store, a mixing bowl, an oven, and a jar to put it in. Suggested mix: Dried cherries, pineapple, and cranberries, almonds and cashews, toasted oats, and cacao nibs.

4. Natural Skin Care Mask. You can help the women in your life beat dull winter skin by giving them the gift of an all-natural skin care mask made of cranberries and yogurt. It’s so simple! Puree a half-cup of cranberries in a food processor, then transfer the puree into a bowl and mix with a half-cup of yogurt and blend by hand until you have a creamy mixture. For a thicker mask, mix in a little green clay or honey, then bottle and add your own creative label with instructions to let the mask sit on the face for 20 minutes before rinsing with warm water. High in antioxidants, vitamins A, C, B3 and B5, the cranberries not only lend moisture for the skin, but they’ll also aid in cell turnover and protect from free radicals, giving an anti-aging effect.

5. Herb Garden Markers. Perfect for the gardeners in your life, and even better for the wannabe gardeners, these little stones are super simple and inexpensive to make. Simply collect a variety of smooth riverbed stones, clean thoroughly and hand-paint the names of various garden herbs and vegetables on each rock. Feeling extra-creative? Paint little garden-themed designs on them too!

References
Image credit: Christmas Gift Stock Photo, image ID: 10040287 @freedigitalimage.com
112 Incredible DIY Gift Ideas. Natural Living Ideas.
Herb Infused Oils. Herbal Academy of New England.
Fun and Fruitful: Cranberries. Huffington Post.

 

 

CRANBERRIES

cranberriesNative to America, cranberries are one of the richest health-promoting foods around. Cranberries have numerous health benefits including: providing anti-inflammatory benefits for the digestive tract and cardiovascular system, preventing the growth of bacteria in both the stomach and urinary tract, promoting healthy cholesterol levels, aiding in stroke recovery and even helping to prevent cancer. Containing at least five key categories of health-supportive phytonutrients (all of which play a role in digestive tract support), recent studies suggest that cranberries are unique in that their phytonutrients work as a synergistic team. This synergistic action makes the whole, fresh, raw cranberry – by leaps and bounds – the best health-supporter when compared to the benefits offered by the berry’s isolated components. The rich, red color of cranberries comes from anthocyanin compounds which act as phytonutrient boosters, and research shows that the deeper the red color of the cranberry, the higher the potential for health-benefits.

For these reasons, choose fresh, plump cranberries that are deep red in color and firm to touch, as these will offer the greatest health benefits. During off-season times, the next best option is to eat dried or frozen cranberries. Cranberry juice tends to be loaded with extra sugars and eliminates the “presscake” (skins and flesh) which contain the bulk of the berry’s phytonutrients. If you want cranberry juice, it is best to buy fresh organic cranberries to juice yourself and add Stevia if desired. Cranberries also make fantastic additions to salads, granola mixes, blended in smoothies, and as a garnish for festive, flavored water.

References
Cranberries. World’s Healthiest Foods.
Marz, Russell B. 1999. Medical Nutrition from Marz: A Textbook In Clinical Nutrition. Portland, Or: Omni-Press.
Mills, Simon, and Kerry Bone. 2000. Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy: Modern Herbal Medicine. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone.

 

 

RECIPE: CRANBERRY AND FRESH PEAR COBBLER

From its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties to its high levels of vitamins C, E and K, this crust-free cobbler offers an array of health benefits. It i’s also an excellent source of dietary fiber, manganese and those hard-to-find omega-3 fatty acids. While the recipe calls for dried cranberries, try using fresh, raw cranberries instead to maintain the berries’ synergistic benefits, thereby significantly increasing the cobbler’s nutritional content.recipe_zpsb0d5faa0

  • 1 medium organic orange
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries (try using fresh, raw cranberries instead)
  • 2 tsp raw honey
  • 1/2  ripe organic pear, firm variety
  • 1/4  cup and 2 tbsp walnuts

Grate enough orange rind to make 1 tsp zest and place in a mixing bowl. Cut the orange in half and juice both halves into the same bowl. Add cranberries and honey then mix until the honey is dissolved. Let sit for 30 minutes to allow the cranberries to soften. Once the cranberries have softened, cut the pear into 1/4-inch cubes and add to the bowl, then add 1/4 cup of walnuts and stir. Divide the mixture into two dessert dishes and sprinkle each with 1 tbsp of chopped walnuts.

References
Photo credit

 

 

LICORICE (Glycyrrhiza glabra)

licorice_zps040fe7c8A staple of both Eastern and Western medicine, licorice acts as a demulcent, a soothing and coating agent, and as an expectorant, making it an excellent natural alternative to drug-store remedies during the height of cold and flu season. Licorice is also considered an adaptogenic herb. Adaptogenic herbs help balance the whole body, rather than focusing on one specific area. Additionally, licorice root aids in increasing energy levels, helps the body deal with stress levels and supports adrenal gland function. During periods of stress, cortisol levels can rise and adrenal function can become challenged. Licorice root works as a blocking agent for the body’s breakdown of cortisol and allows hormone levels to normalize. With the stress of the holidays in full swing, you might want to consider licorice as a possible natural aid in maintaining your overall health. Try it as a tea, or chew on a whole licorice root. People with high blood pressure should exercise caution when using licorice. Consult your Naturopathic Doctor to determine if licorice might be right for you.

References
Mills, Simon, and Kerry Bone. 2000. Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy: Modern Herbal Medicine. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone.
Licorice. University of Maryland Medical Center.
Licorice Root. Amazing Wellness Magazine.
Adaptogenic Herbs. Natural Health and Healing.

 

 

DIGESTIVE ENZYMES

The human body, like virtually all living things, naturally contains digestive_enzymes_zpsc53e09abenzymes. Research shows that the body not only will conserve its own digestive enzymes, but it will also absorb those from the foods and supplements you take in. Digestive enzymes help break down the foods you eat, allowing important nutrients to be absorbed into your blood. It also helps waste to be passed along through the digestive system and ultimately disposed of. Although enzymes will survive, and even thrive, in your body, cooking –which is typically done at temperatures at least twice that of the normal body temperature –deactivates the enzymes contained in your once-living foods. Because of their high potential for bacterial contamination, you should continue to cook most animal foods, and rely on fresh, raw plant foods to provide your greatest supplementary source of digestive enzymes. Supplementing your own digestive enzymes with those from fresh, raw plant foods is a great way to boost your health throughout the year, especially during the holidays when fatty and sugary foods tend to take over. Before adding new supplements to your diet, check with your Naturopathic Doctor to get the right formulation for your health.

References
Marz, Russell B. 1999. Medical Nutrition from Marz: A Textbook in Clinical Nutrition. Portland, Or: Omni-Press.
Gaby, Alan. 2011. Nutritional Medicine. Concord, N.H: Fritz Perlberg Publishing.
Enzymes. World’s Healthiest Foods.
Digestive Enzymes. Mercola.

 

 

CRANIOSACRAL THERAPY

The human body is naturally equipped with the ability to heal itselfcraniosacral_zps2e31d03e but environmental stressors like the daily grind can wreak havoc on your body, resulting in pain and other health issues. Craniosacral therapy is one way of boosting your body’s natural defenses. This therapy is a noninvasive, light-touch – about the weight of a nickel – technique that allows a trained therapist to observe and treat restrictions within your craniosacral system. This system is closely connected to your central nervous system and is comprised of the membranes and fluid that surround the brain and spinal cord. Craniosacral therapy is a way to gently adjust the rhythm of the craniosacral fluid by eliminating barriers that can occur in the form of tightened body tissues, often caused by stress. Such barriers can cause tension on the nervous system and prevent optimal functioning of your nervous system.

This holiday season, don’t let the stressful hustle and bustle get you down. Instead, you might consider asking your Naturopathic Doctor if craniosacral therapy may be a beneficial treatment to keep you running at optimal health and energy levels.

References
Photo credit: Happy Woman Receiving Head Massage, image ID: 10037680, @freedigitalimage.com
Lippincott, Rebecca Conrow, Howard A. Lippincott, and William G. Sutherland. 1943. A Manual of Cranial Technique. Detroit: Academy of Applied Osteopathy.
Craniosacral Therapy and Spinal Cord Injury. Massage Therapy.
Frequently Asked Questions: Craniosacral Therapy. Upledger Institute International.

 

 

The information offered by this newsletter is presented for educational purposes. Nothing contained within should be construed as nor is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. This information should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider. Always consult with your physician or other qualified health care provider before embarking on a new treatment, diet or fitness program. You should never disregard medical advice or delay in seeking it because of any information contained within this newsletter.

 

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