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Introduction to Clinical Aromatherapy: A Tool for Your Wellness Toolbox

October 15 2012

by alex

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Guest Post by Linda Weihbrecht BSN, RN, LMT, CCAP

Aromatherapy is both an art and a science. It embraces the holistic philosophy of addressing the mind, body, and spirit. Aromatherapy can be an important component in your wellness tool box to promote well-being. Scents remind us of past memories and emotions, they allow us to connect with nature, and pleasant scents encourage us to breathe deeply and RELAX. Aromatherapy is a tool to improve the quality of life on a physical, emotional, and energetic level.

Aromatherapy is the art and science of using pure essential oils and hydrosols to calm, balance, and rejuvenate mind, body, and spirit. They have a long history of safety and have been used in all major cultures for thousands of years. Egypt and India used essential oils more than six thousand years ago. Egyptians were masters at using essential oils for healing, cosmetics, skin care, massage, perfume, and embalming. In India, Ayurvedic practitioners use essential oils in Ayurvedic medicine to this day.

Modern aromatherapy has its roots in science and the term ‘Aroma-therapie’ is credited to a French chemist, Rene Maurice Gattefosse. He is said to have miraculously recovered from a burn sustained in his cosmetics lab in the early 1900’s. In 1937 Gattefosse produced a Materia Medica for the therapeutic uses of aromatic extracts titled Aromathérapie. Jean Valnet, M.D. was a French army physician and surgeon. It was reported that during World War II Dr. Valnet used essential oils to treat infections with great success when antibiotics were depleted. After the war, Jean Valnet and his students continued his work to prove the therapeutic properties of essential oils in scientific terms. Another pioneer in aromatherapy was Austrian born, Maurgerite Maury (1895-1968). She was a nurse, biochemist married to a physician. Maurgerite and Dr. Maury worked together to explore alternate ways to promote healing. Maurgerite Maury expanded the use of essential oils in healing massage and cosmetology. These aromatherapy pioneers layed the ground work for the modern clinical aromatherapy we see today.

The tools of a clinical aromatherapist are pure essential oils and hydrosols. Pure essential oils are highly concentrated natural substances extracted from a variety of aromatic plants through distillation or expression. Steam distillation is a common method of extraction using flowers, leaves, twigs, bark, berries, roots, and seeds of a variety of aromatic plants and trees. Some commonly used essential oils are lemon, tea tree, peppermint, lavender, geranium, rose, neroli, and ylang-ylang. Essential oils contain vitamins, hormones, and anti-microbial properties. The chemical profile of the essential oil gives it it’s therapeutic properties. Essential oils have been used historically to stimulate, relax, and balance. They also have a history of use as anti-virals, anti-bacterials, anti-fungals, decongestants, analgesics, anti-inflammatory agents, and digestives.

Essential oils in the United States are most often used in topical application and inhalation. Essential oils can be 75-100 times more concentrated than the dried herbs. This means drops are used in aromatherapy not ounces. Essential oils are usually diluted for topical application to the skin. Topical use may include baths, showers, dermal applications to address wounds, sprains, strains, muscle aches, pains, and tension, and skin care products. Inhalation of essential oils is used for emotional support, mood support, improve sleep, support respiratory conditions, air purifying, and environmental fragrancing. Inhalation of essential oils includes the use of diffusers, personal inhalers, steam inhalations, vaporizers, and room sprays.

Essential oils are a complement to traditional, conventional medicine. Always seek medical advice for health concerns and be honest with your healthcare provider about the complementary therapies you are using. Good healthcare practice is a partnership between the patient and the healthcare provider. Consult a qualified aromatherapist for essential oil selection, best application methods, and information about safety issues.

Aromatherapy is being used in hospitals, cancer care, senior care, and hospice to improve sleep, reduce agitation, relaxation, pain management and environmental fragrancing. Training programs have been developed in the United States to educate nurses, massage therapists, and other healthcare providers about the use of clinical aromatherapy. Demand for clinical aromatherapy services is increasing due to consumers’ demand.

If you would like more information about aromatherapy, two reputable organizations in the United States are : The Alliance of International Aromatherapists www.alliance-aromatherapists.org and The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy www.naha.org. Both organizations have credible aromatherapy information on their websites and offer educational webinars and teleconferences for members. Membership is not limited to aromatherapy practitioners, anyone can join these organizations as a friend of aromatherapy.

The way to add aromatherapy to your wellness toolbox is to talk with your healthcare provider, read, ask questions, explore, experience, and enjoy your aromatic journey!
Be well!

Linda L Weihbrecht, BSN, RN, LMT, Certified Clinical Aromatherapist
Linda Weihbrecht is a certified Clinical Aromatherapist and aromatherapy educator R.J. Buckle Associates, LLC since 1999. She presently works for The Advocacy Alliance, as a community nurse helping people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. She is the founder and facilitator of a hospital based support group, “Coping with Anxiety and Panic” (CAP) since 1994.
For more information visit www.rjbuckle.com or email Linda @ [email protected]

The Real Bears

October 10 2012

by alex

1 Comment

Stumbled upon this clip regard the effects of sugary beverages and our bodies.

Enjoy!

Confused about Omega 3 Fats?

September 17 2012

by alex

1 Comment

There is much confusion about the health benefits (or lack thereof) of omega-3 fatty acids, including those from fish oil. Negative studies are announced with fanfare, while positive studies often fall below the radars of news organizations.

Another large meta-analysis with negative finding was published recently with MUCH news attention. The analysis was highly flawed, unfortunately, so tells us almost nothing, other than the fact that an astonishing amount of flawed science actually gets published. In a nutshell, when badly designed trials are combined with well-designed trials in meta-analyses, the findings of the well-designed studies are diluted.

There is a mountain of evidence for the health benefits of omega 3 fatty acids (also caled n-3 fatty acids), heart health and otherwise.

I read a well-written commentary on this recent study and thought that it is worth sharing.

www.vitalchoice.com/shop/pc/articlesView.asp?id=1920

More on Grounding

September 13 2012

by alex

1 Comment

See my previous post on grounding or earthing here:
www.santeim.com/2012/07/earthing-or-grounding-health-implications/

Here is an interesting video demonstrating how the body voltage changes rapidly around computer equipment and plummets just as quickly when grounded.
www.groundology.com/videos?show=body-voltage#video

We can’t dispute the biophysical fact that our bodies conduct electricity and that when we are in contact with the ground, our electrical conductance changes immediately as seen in the video above. In addition, our heart rate variability improves and autonomic function shifts to a more balanced state. Small studies show a reduction in pain, normalization of cortisol levels and improvement in sleep. I don’t know just how important this is for health, but as more research is done, we will have more answers. My mother certainly had a hard time keeping shoes on my feet as a child and was not aware that I took my shoes off when she wasn’t looking. While we wait for more research to verify health benefits of being grounded, I will continue to garden and walk around the yard barefoot because it feels good!

In addition, in recent weeks, I have had the opportunity to wear shoes that have copper alloy conductors in the footbed of the shoes that go through to the outsole and thereby allow you to be grounded while wearing the shoes. This will only work if you are outside since indoor floors are almost always insulated from the ground.

This is the technology used:
juil.com/technology.php

I can say that when wearing these outdoors, I notice less fatigue as the day wears on. I’ve looked for other shoes that allow you to be grounded, but so far, I haven’t found any that are as attractive as these.

We should watch the research in this area.

Opinion on Cause of Autism

August 31 2012

by alex

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Another opinion editorial in the Sunday Times today discusses an evolving theory on autism: that at the foundation is immune dysregulation. The article is very well-written. I encourage you to check it out.

www.nytimes.com/2012/08/26/opinion/sunday/immune-disorders-and-autism.html?smid=pl-share

Big Chem like Big Tobacco?

August 29 2012

by alex

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A well-written Op-Ed published in the New York Times today is well worth reading. The author, Nicholas Kristof, discusses some of the scientific findings regarding the health risks of chemicals everywhere around us and the actions taken by Big Chem to prevent legislation to monitor and control them, not unlike the actions of Big Tobacco.

The very scary part is that with new research suggesting that the damage from chemical exposures may last several generations, the clean-up won’t be a quick fix.

www.nytimes.com/2012/08/26/opinion/sunday/kristof-big-chem-big-harm.html?smid=pl-share

Health benefits of Tai Chi & Yoga – NCCAM Videos

August 28 2012

by alex

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The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), a branch of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has released two videos. The first video introduces Tai Chi and Qi Gong, although does not discuss the scientific research. The second video reviews some of the scientific research on the health benefits of yoga.

nccam.nih.gov/video/taichidvd-full

nccam.nih.gov/video/yoga

This link briefly summarizes research on health benefits of tai chi and/or qi gong.
nccam.nih.gov/research/results/spotlight/071910.htm

A bit more information on yoga can be found here:
nccam.nih.gov/health/providers/digest/yoga

South Korea Shines at the 2012 Olympics

August 8 2012

by Rob

2 Comments

It is no accident that South Korea is substantially outperforming their goal of ranking 10th at the current Olympics. Better performance requires, dedication, investment and a national strategic plan. South Koreans are very conscious and committed to improving their national image on the international stage. They also make the links between image and economic performance. Just like their national goal of spending 5.0% of GDP on R&D ( note that Canada spends less than 2.0%), they have set aggressive goals in sport and continue to invest both strategically in specific sports like archery, and also quantitatively in two large training centers for its athletic development programs, Taeneung in Seoul and Jincheon, the latter opening only last year at at cost of approximately $163 million. Medal winners may receive substantial rewards, up to $60,000 for gold medal winnings, and also a pension for life. Winners may also avoid the mandatory military service! Even their cousins in North Korea are doing well at the Olympics, although the rewards may be somewhat on a different scale – a car or a  fridge for a medal, and a chance to visit a N. Korean style gulag if you fail! Hopefully the new leader will be kinder!

As of August 8, 23 medals for South Korea is a great result!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chicken & Eggs: Organic vs Conventional

July 23 2012

by alex

1 Comment

Let’s discuss some of the differences between conventionally raised and organic chicken and eggs:

  1. Arsenic.  A drug called roxarsone, which is a form of arsenic, is fed to chickens to enhance their growth.  It is converted to inorganic arsenic in the chickens, which is toxic.  It is a human carcinogen, and is associated with increased risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, neuropathy, adverse pregnancy outcomes and neurocognitive deficits in children.  Organic chickens are not fed this drug.
  2. Hormones.  Used to enhance growth in conventionally  raised chickens.  These hormones are  in the chickens and in the eggs.  There is growing evidence that these residual hormones affect human health adversely.
  3. Antibiotics.  Chickens raised in close quarters get sick. Antibiotics are used to compensate for over-crowding. Antibiotics contribute to the problem of antibiotic  resistance.  Not used in organic farming.
  4. Organic feed contains no GM seeds and grains, nor any animal products, nor hormones.  Pesticide residues are also far lower in organic feed.
  5. What about free-range?  Free-range means that the chickens are  free to roam outdoors where they can eat insects, grass and seeds, as well   as to get some sun exposure.  The legal definition is that their must be a door with access to the outside,  so it doesn’t guarantee much outdoor roaming.  Know your farmers.  Insect consumption improves the nutritional quality of chicken and their eggs.  The diet is supplemented with feed.
  6. Nutritional quality.  Free-range chickens and eggs are  nutritionally superior by a large margin.  The fatty acid profiles differ (n-3 fats); the levels of vitamins  A, D and E differ; carotenoid levels differ.  A lot.  Free-range egg yolks are bright yellow which reflect higher levels  of carotenoids and Vitamin A.  Sun exposure results in higher Vitamin D levels in chickens too!  Organic eggs and chickens are free of  added chemicals and antibiotics but depending on diet and time outdoors,  may or may not differ substantially in nutrient levels.
  7. Taste.  Yep, there is a difference.
  8. Environmental impact.  Organic farmers rotate crops which  improves soil conditions, and they use manure as fertilizer. Organic farming does not harm wildlife or pollute water. Non-organic farming can deplete the soil and adds chemical fertilizers and pesticides that can  harm wildlife, waterways and beneficial insects.

My advice:  if you eat chicken and/or eggs, eat free-range chicken and/or eggs, preferably organic.  Just be aware that truly free-range may matter more than certified organic since most of the diet is foraged from the great outdoors.

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

LDL Targets?

July 17 2012

by alex

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I found this video blog to be thoughtful and balanced.