Easing Seasonal Discomfort Naturally

Do you want to know what used to annoy me? And I do mean ANNOY me.

Spring Bouquet & ButterfliesYou know those commercials of the gorgeous woman leisurely strolling to a sunny spring window with a bouquet of fresh flowers and throwing open the windows in pure joy because she is FINALLY able to breathe in the fresh, spring air? C’mon, you can picture it right? The birds are chirping, and as she flings open the windows butterflies and sparkles come swirling into her home, wrapping her in a warm, sparkly, spring hug.

Now, I fully admit that this wonderful depiction of springtime joy shouldn’t annoy me. However, when you suffer from seasonal allergies, you don’t see butterflies bearing sparkles; you see well-camouflaged little demons spreading misery-inducing pollen.

Your joy at spring warmth is put on hold while you engage in a weeks-long battle to avoid sinus infections, antibiotics, and steroids. Go for a walk with your kids? NO. That would mean suffering through the next two days not being able to see able to see or think straight.

Ok, yes, this is a bit dramatic. I was going for a bit of comic relief. However, seasonal discomforts can become severe and can ruin spring for many people…or at least put a damper on the festivities. And in many cases, the over the counter medications available don’t provide enough relief.

BUT, did you notice that I used the past tense in my opening sentence? I USED to be annoyed by those commercials?!

By taking action to naturally support my body and regain balance in my digestive system, I have been able to beat my seasonal discomforts down to an occasional runny nose, scratchy throat and mild sinus pressure. And the best part is that now I am able to use wellness products that even kick those discomforts to the curb!

Thank goodness, because I LOVE butterflies. It was quite disturbing when my mind transformed them into evil pollen-carrying demons.

It is highly likely you can enjoy the same results by considering three steps.

1) Balance your Gut: Between 65-80% of your immune system resides in your gut. In order for your immune system to function properly, it needs to be supported by multiple strains of bacteria that play different roles in digestion and other bodily functions. When we choose mostly processed and sugary foods, those bacteria colonies become unbalanced. Bacteria such as candida and H. Pylori can live in that toxic environment and can take over. They excrete additional toxic waste products in your system and can eventually cause a multitude of symptoms such as skin eruptions, digestive issues, inflammation, and eventually autoimmune issues. The best approach is to starve those bacteria and cleansing your system of toxins. The best type of cleanse is a whole-foods-based elimination diet.

Please do not choose any of the longer-period juice cleanses. Juicing removes fiber, and your body needs fiber to remove toxins. So, when you juice for long periods, you do force the release of many toxins, but then your filtering organs are flooded with no way to get rid of them.

2) Restore healthy bacteria in your gut: During any cleanse, you should at the very least take a high-potency probiotic. Based on the research and classes I’ve taken, look for a minimum of 8 strains and 50 billion CFU during your recolonization stage (usually 1-3 months). Make sure the capsules are allergen-free, manufactured recently and stored properly: preferably refrigerated to help keep as many organisms alive as possible. If you choose not to cleanse, taking probiotics is still a great way to support your immune system. After 1-3 months at the 50 billion CFU level, you can drop down to 25 billion CFU for maintenance. I use this probiotic with my clients.

3) Choose natural wellness products as your first line of defense: Before reaching for the prescription or over the counter medications, try to go natural. You may be surprised at how well natural methods can work. I have listed these options in the order in which I would follow if my discomfort continued to escalate. My family and many of my clients have reported far better results with these protocols than with the traditional methods they followed previously.

  • To help ease seasonal sinus discomfort, equal parts of lemon, lavender, and peppermint essential oils mixed into a roller bottle blend is highly effective for most, and very easy to use. Apply behind the ears, behind the neck, base of the spine, and/or bottoms of the feet. Do not apply anywhere that will be in direct sunlight for 6 hours after application since lemon oil is photosensitive and will promote burning. This mix is safe to mix in warm water and drink as a tea.
  • To help ease occasional sinus pressure, apply an essential oil digestive blendto the bridge of your nose, above the eyebrows, and/or above the forehead along the brow line where you feel the pressure (we use one that mixes anise, ginger, fennel, peppermint, tarragon seed, caraway seed, and coriander seed oils). Diffuse an essential oil respiratory blend to help keep the airways open (we use one that includes laurel leaf, peppermint leaf, eucalyptus leaf, melaleuca, lemon peel, ravensara leaf, and cardamom seed essential oils ). If these steps don’t help, try applying a drop of frankincense over the bridge of your nose or place a drop under your tongue.
  • To flush out congestion and make your sinuses a less welcoming place for bacteria to grow, use a Netti Pot or sinus rinse (we use Neil –Med).
  • To help support clear sinus passages, especially when trying to support your body in avoiding a sinus infection, heat some water in the microwave or on the stove. Let the water cool some, but ensure that it is still steaming. Add one drop each of peppermint, melaleuca, oregano, and lavender; then breathe the steam in. Place a towel over your head for more effect. I warn you though, wait about 30 seconds before starting to breathe the oils, and start a head length away from the cup. Move closer as you are able to tolerate it. The oils are potent and can cause a burning sensation to already inflamed sinus tissue if you get too close too fast. Breathe for 30 seconds at least 3-4 times each time.
  • To support your immune system in its efforts to fight off any threatening infections, dilute oregano and melaleuca essential oils and apply to the bottoms of your feet morning and night.

For many of my clients, the gift of enjoying spring with their families again was well worth making the lifestyle changes that enabled that outcome. Please don’t let your fear of the unknown hold you in an uncomfortable pattern. You can help your body find relief. I will help you if you want and/or need me to.

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To learn more about the cleanse options, supplements, or essential oils I recommend, contact me using the form below or at alicia@healthytangents.com to request information or to schedule a wellness consultation.

Disclaimer: I am not a Physician. I am a wife, a mom, a certified health coach, and someone who loves learning about natural wellness tools and sharing with others the incredible things I learn through my classes, research, personal experiences, and the experiences of friends and family. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease. Rather, they are intended to support your body in its efforts to restore balance and maintain health.

Tune-Up Your Gut!

ImageFor some reason, it is easy for us to accept that our vehicles need an oil change and a tune-up once in awhile, but it is very hard for us to think of our bodies in the same way. But, I see the concepts as very similar.

For example, gas that is riddled with too much water causes damage to our vehicle’s fuel injection system and results in anything from sputtering and lowered fuel efficiency, to a complete breakdown. Why then do we fight against the idea that what we put in our bodies could also cause damage over time?

Up to 85% of our immune system resides in our digestive system. Good digestion requires a delicate balance of differing bacteria that work together to aid in digestion, support proper immune function, and assist with toxin removal. If we regularly put in “bad gas,” which includes highly processed foods riddled with genetically modified ingredients and synthetic preservatives, large amounts of processed sugars and bleached grains, or synthetic pharmaceuticals such as Tylenol, antibiotics, or antacids…then that “bad gas” can allow the wrong bacteria to flourish and can damage both the beneficial bacterial and your gut walls.

The following table illustrates why restoring our vehicle after exposure to contaminated gas is similar to choosing a whole food cleanse to restore healthy digestive balance after exposure to tainted foods and medications.

Steps to Restore a… …Vehicle After Bad Gas Exposure …Body After “Bad Gas” Exposure
1 Clear the bad gas from the System Clear the “bad gas” from your body
2 Flush the fuel system to remove any buildup of remaining water than can cause further damage Flush your digestive and filtering systems to remove any buildup of toxins that can cause further damage
3 Replace the filter(s) Replace the healthy bacteria in your digestive tract
4 Add good gas back in Add healthy, whole foods and natural healthcare/cleaning products back in
5 Add an additive to your gas to help remove any remaining water, to protect against future water buildup, and to increase overall fuel efficiency Add targeted supplements or complementary healthcare therapies to keep your body in balance so it can do its job and protect against and heal from illness and disease

Consider tuning-up your gut if you are experiencing any of the following:

  • Irregular bowels (e.g., bloating, diarrhea or constipation)
  • Pain or discomfort after eating
  • Difficulty in reaching or maintaining an alkaline state
  • Eczema, Rosacea, hives or other skin rashes
  • Sensitivity to strong scents, skin- or health-care products and/or foods
  • Severe seasonal/environmental allergies
  • Strong cravings for sugary foods and/or empty carbohydrates
  • Autoimmune conditions
  • Concentration issues such as poor memory, general ‘brain fog,’ ADD/ADHD or lack of focus
  • Irritability, moodiness, anxiety or depression
  • Reflux or heartburn

Please be sure to work with an educated healthcare professional if you decide to proceed. If you want me to, I will work with you to choose the best approach to incorporate into your lifestyle and support you along the way. But, regardless of whom you choose, please be sure that they are recommending a whole food approach and that, if recommended, supplements and essential oils are certified pure, all natural and free of common allergens.

Important: Beware of juice-only cleanses especially ones that include supplements or essential oils to help with cleansing. Your body needs fiber and protein to effectively eliminate toxins. If you speed up toxin removal, but do not provide what is needed to remove those toxins, you will feel worse and could get very ill. Juice cleanses for short periods of time without the additional use of supplements or essential oils are still considered beneficial.

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To learn more about the cleanse options, supplements, or essential oils I recommend, contact me using the form below or at alicia@healthytangents.com to request information or to schedule a wellness consultation.

Disclaimer: I am not a Physician. I am a wife, a mom, a certified health coach, and someone who loves learning about natural wellness tools and sharing with others the incredible things I learn through my classes, research, personal experiences, and the experiences of friends and family. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease. Rather, they are intended to support your body in its efforts to restore balance and maintain health.

Reflecting on Jayleena’s Healing Journey

Today is my perpetual-baby’s 9th birthday. Wow. It seems like just yesterday that I was on a business trip where my phone had been confiscated, and my boss’ cell phone rang. He passed me the phone with a huge smirk on his face, assuming it was my jealous husband. Instead I heard, “You need to get home RIGHT NOW! We pick up a baby at 10am tomorrow morning.”

It was nearly 10 pm. So, I verbally tormented my boss for not driving us back to the hotel fast enough, and for choosing to stop for chocolate before he would complete the drive. I remember saying as I beamed with excitement, “Seriously? Your chocolate craving is more important than me getting home to pick up our new baby?” I am fairly certain I drove the 2 hours back home faster than I should have because I wanted to get home so badly. I shouldn’t have bothered, because we couldn’t sleep anyway.

I was nervous about raising a girl, but also excited about all the wonderful things that would mean as well. We were wondering how severe her cocaine withdrawals would be, and worried that we wouldn’t be able to care for her needs well enough. Craig wondered if we could really love her as much as we did our biological son. That concern was the main reason we chose the foster-to-adopt option for growing our family. The night continued to drag by. We can confirm that a watched clock doesn’t tick any faster than a watched pot boils.

ImageFinally the moment came. She was the most gorgeous little china doll (and I emphasize little, she was merely 5 pounds). She gazed at us as if she knew we were there to smother her in love and affection. She had us wrapped around her little finger before we even left the hospital. But she had a loooong road ahead of her, and so did we. We will never know how many of her challenges were due to the cocaine, but in her first five years and again in her eighth year we have worked with numerous doctors, specialists, holistic health providers, nutritionists, therapists, and agency workers to help her overcome:

  • Severe reflux: Her reflux almost took her life multiple times and caused us numerous white-knuckled ambulance rides. It would come out in a steady stream, fast enough that we couldn’t suction fast enough, but slow enough to slowly fill her lungs as she breathed. Once, our son Logan saved her life when he ran out, only minutes after I had laid her down for a nap, yelling that she was turning blue and had white stuff coming out of her nose.
  • Severe asthma: Doctors don’t like to diagnose babies with asthma anymore. They try and term it Reactive Airway Disease instead. But, after two separate occasions where her lung collapsed and we almost missed it and no relief from the lower-end medications, they moved it to severe asthma and loaded her with multiple medications. You may be asking yourself how we could possibly miss a collapsed lung. The doctor himself almost missed it too because she wouldn’t cry and she would still be smiling as if all was OK. The only sign we would get is that she would stop moving around.
  • Severe Sensory Integration Disorder: Jayleena rarely cried. We assumed it was because she didn’t have much air. At around 11 months old, she was also VERY rough. She always squeezed too hard, wanted us to play rougher than we were comfortable, and was regularly hurting her siblings (by this point, we had also accepted twins into our home). I was starting to think maybe something was off, but we really just assumed it was her personality. Then one day, when Jayleena was around 11 months old, she climbed our 2 foot gate at the top of our stairs and threw herself down, scraping skin off her head and arms as she fell. When she got to the bottom, she stood up and looked at me as I desperately tried to remove the gate…AND SHE GIGGLED!! She giggled as if she had gotten away with something, then ran off in a “chase me” kind of way. I was nauseous. When I turned the corner, I found her sitting on our hard wood floor, finger painting from the pool of blood that had collected around her. That was all I needed to push until we got the diagnosis. We were thankful that it wasn’t hereditary sensory and autonomic neuropathy, since that cannot be cured, but it still required a lot of occupational therapy to help her get to where she can at least know she is hurt.
  • Food Allergies: Because our son had food allergies and intolerances, we recognized the signs fairly quickly. Besides her reflux and asthma (which are potential symptoms), she also had bowel movements that would literally burn away the skin on her buttocks to the point where there were literally patches with NO skin. She would cry uncontrollably after she ate some foods, and would break out in hives regularly. Eventually, she presented with anaphylaxis reactions. Since we had already helped our son navigate the food allergy path, we began working with allergists and immunologists fairly quickly.
  • Extreme Anger/Frustration: And, I do mean extreme. Ask any of our friends or caregivers who helped us during that time. We rarely knew what set her off, but once set off she didn’t stop…sometimes for over 10 hours. She would scream, kick so hard she put holes in our walls, bang her head until it bled, and hurt other people (she broke my back molar by headbutting me with her skull). It would take all my strength to hold her down and stop her from hurting herself.
  • Benign Occipital Epilepsy of Childhood and Non-Obstructive Sleep Apnea: I have written quite a few blog posts on this one since it is the most recent, so please check my archives if you want to learn more.

My point is just to share with those of you who are struggling with similar challenges and behaviors in your own children that there IS hope. I remember feeling like there was none and that Jayleena would struggle her entire life. BUT, You CAN work through it and get to a better place if you listen to your instincts, trust those instincts, and act on them. Even if your husband, your parents, or your best friends don’t see what you see, then ask them to try and trust you or at least respect your feelings in the matter. I am not saying to completely disregard your loved ones’ opinions. I am merely saying that if you carefully consider their input, but you still know in your gut that things are not right, then keep pushing until you do feel things are right. You are the one who has to live with your decisions later. Ask yourself, “If I am wrong and I keep pushing will it harm my child?” “If I am right and there is more to this, could doing nothing harm my child?” Then, do what you feel your gut is telling you to do. If people call you crazy, let them. Who cares? If you don’t believe the doctor has the right answer, then get another opinion, or even a third.

ImageIt took me four different neurologist visits before we finally found out why Jayleena wasn’t feeling pain and how to help her. If fighting the status quo and standing up for what I believe with her medical providers makes me a crazy Mom, then I embrace that label proudly! As I mentioned, today is my baby’s 9th birthday and she is now a happy, healthy child who is a successful competitive gymnast. She has a group of best friends and a BFF that she has enjoyed since Kindergarten. She has regular hopes and dreams, without any fear of being restricted from her ability to achieve them.

I reflect on how far we’ve come, and again I am happy I pushed as much and as frequently as I had to in order to get to the source of the issues and resolve them. All the criticism we received means nothing now. All we have to do is look at her and our other three children who we also had to fight for, and we know it was what we were meant to do (I will write a blog post about our other children’s stories on their birthdays too).  It was really hard work, and it was completely worth it. We cannot even find words to describe how much we love her and how much joy she brings to all of our lives.

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To learn more about the cleanse options, supplements, or essential oils I recommend, contact me using the form below or at alicia@healthytangents.com to request information or to schedule a wellness consultation.

Disclaimer: I am not a Physician. I am a wife, a mom, a certified health coach, and someone who loves learning about natural wellness tools and sharing with others the incredible things I learn through my classes, research, personal experiences, and the experiences of friends and family. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease. Rather, they are intended to support your body in its efforts to restore balance and maintain health.

Lessons Learned During My Hiatus: Overture

Our youngest daughter recently, happily pretending to play the piano like a pro

It has been awhile since I posted anything to this blog. That is because it became apparent to me in September that one of mydaughters was struggling with a health issue that was far bigger than what her 8-year-old brain had been able to communicate to my husband and I, and I knew any focus I could spare from the day-to-day responsibilities of caring for my four children and wonderful husband needed to be squarely aimed at helping her.

It was a hard decision. We had just invested in starting this business (www.healthytangents.com) which was very important to us, and I had built up some momentum. I had quite a few people interested in signing up for health coaching, and a few who were desperate for me to help them figure out how to live around newly diagnosed food allergies. But, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to help them if I was distracted and worried about our daughter. So, Craig and I made the decision to take a break and trust that if it was meant to be, it would all work out.

Getting to the right diagnoses was not easy, and the diagnoses seemed scary at first: non-obstructive sleep apnea and benign occipital epilepsy of childhood. However, I am happy to report that we have figured out how to help treat her conditions naturally through the use of essential oils and other natural therapies, without the need for pharmaceutical drugs…all WITH the support of her specialists. She has continued to successfully train and compete in gymnastics, and at this point is almost symptom-free.  We are so thankful that we knew how to work with her specialists to find the best solution for her, and to protect her quality of life.

For those of you who have patiently waited for my return to the blogoshphere, thank you! I appreciate it very much. Over the next few weeks I will share more of the story and our lessons learned. It is my hope that it will help inspire you as well, if and when you face a similar challenge with yourself or one of your children.

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To learn more about the cleanse options, supplements, or essential oils I recommend, contact me using the form below or at alicia@healthytangents.com to request information or to schedule a wellness consultation.

Disclaimer: I am not a Physician. I am a wife, a mom, a certified health coach, and someone who loves learning about natural wellness tools and sharing with others the incredible things I learn through my classes, research, personal experiences, and the experiences of friends and family. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease. Rather, they are intended to support your body in its efforts to restore balance and maintain health.

ALLicious Appetizer: Dill & Sweet Pickle Hummus

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Today is my birthday. I spend so much time cooking around my kids’ allergies and for their tastes, that I rarely get to pamper myself with the dishes that make me sigh in savory contentment. So today, my gift to myself is that all foods I prepare will be made lovingly for me.

I was craving hummus, but also considering making a raw herbed dill cashew cheese dip I had enjoyed in the past from choosingraw.com. I ended up deciding that maybe a dill hummus would be yummy…but, I have never made a dill hummus. I went looking for a recipe but didn’t find any one that made me excited. I WAS inspired by a food.com recipe that added dill pickle juice. However, as much as I love dill as a spice, I strongly prefer sweet pickles. So, I decided to get creative with my favorite base hummus recipe (given to me by Dr. Melanie Carr) and go for a sweet and sour version. To make, add the following into your Vitamix or food processor:

1/4 cup sweet pickle juice (or use your own homemade pickle brine)
1/2 cup organic sweet pickles or sweet relish (or use your own homemade pickles/relish)
2  (15 oz) cans organic chickpeas, drained and rinsed
5 tbs tahini (i.e., sesame paste)
2 tbs pure olive oil
3 tbs fresh lemon, lime, or pineapple juice (I used pineapple due to a citrus sensitivity)
1-3 cloves garlic (depending on size of cloves and personal preference)
4-5 tsp fresh dill leaves or 1-2 drops of pure dill essential oil

Blend all ingredients into a smooth creamy texture. Add UP TO 1 cup of additional water  (in slow increments) if needed to achieve your desired consistency. I think blending the actual pickles into the mix gives it the extra taste I was craving.  You could also substitute dill pickles instead to get a stronger dill kick!

I am thoroughly enjoying my birthday treat as I write this, and sighing in contentment between bites. I hope you do too!

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To learn more about the cleanse options, supplements, or essential oils I recommend, contact me using the form below or at alicia@healthytangents.com to request information or to schedule a wellness consultation.

Disclaimer: I am not a Physician. I am a wife, a mom, a certified health coach, and someone who loves learning about natural wellness tools and sharing with others the incredible things I learn through my classes, research, personal experiences, and the experiences of friends and family. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease. Rather, they are intended to support your body in its efforts to restore balance and maintain health.