Does Choosing Supplements Feel Like a Never-Ending Maze?

iStock_000008226295_SmallI have been getting some questions as a health coach about how to go about choosing from the many holistic product options, especially when it comes to supplements. So, I will summarize 4 key pieces of advice:
 
1) Make one change at a time.
This is the only way for you to feel whether a product is working for you, and it increases your chances of sticking to the new habit, because you will know EXACTLY what changed.
As a health coach, I have seen people change only what they eat with no added supplementation at all, and still reach 60-95% of their goals. Nothing is more important than what you choose as fuel for your body, what you do to keep it in shape (movement of some sort), and how you manage your thoughts (lessening stress and negativity).  
Many find it easier to start with taking a supplement, because they feel it is something they can do with less effort at first, or because they feel it will help them have more willpower. If that is you, then go ahead and try it, but JUST take your new supplements at first so you know what is changing. If you start the supplements AND you start eating better AND working out more…you cannot say which change is helping most. How do you really know? 
 
2) Research your ingredients.
Natural does not necessarily mean it’s right for YOU and your body. A year or so ago I had a friend who started taking aloe daily to help with digestive issues. After a couple months, he went for a colonoscopy. Afterwards, the doctor told him he knew he was drinking aloe juice and to stop it immediately because the continued use over time was turning his intestines black, and although it would reverse if stopped, if continued it could do damage.
And did you know that if you have a latex allergy, you should be VERY cautious of taking aloe? The aloe plant contains an aloe gel in the middle and an aloe latex before the leaf and after the gel. When the aloe ingredient manufacturing process includes both, an aloe-allergic person could react and the latex portion is what causes the intestinal damage due to its laxative effects.
Now for some, aloe has been a lifesaver and works well, but most gastroenterologists agree it should be taken as needed and not proactively/daily over time to be safest. Is it possible that some supplements have found a way to harness the good parts of aloe and not the challenging parts to ensure continued use is safe? Absolutely. But if it were me, I would want to ask and know how they are ensuring that, and I would at least want to know that it COULD become an issue so that I could monitor with my doctor. This is merely one example of why it is important to know your ingredients and be aware of all potential benefits AND risks.
Basically, do your research because not all ingredients are manufactured or processed the same, and some have risks to specific groups of people. High quality supplements cost money, so make sure the ingredients and science behind it feels worth your investment. Just be sure your research is coming from expert sources, and weigh both negatives and positives against logical tests to see if you can trust all the information (e.g., Is the opinion based on newer or older research?, Does the person have a personal interest in the advice presented?, Does the article include links to science-based studies/references?)
3) No one option works for everyone.
Every body is different, with a different natural chemical plant than everyone else. So, although some things may work for the majority, no one thing will work for EVERYONE, and no experience will be exactly the same. So, do your research to ensure the line is pure, well balanced, and ask others how it has worked for them. Then trust your instincts. If you feel it may be right for you, then try it. You have nothing to lose usually. In most cases, you will receive some benefit even if it isn’t exactly what you were looking for, and many high quality lines offer a money back guarantee the first month.
 
4) No supplement or natural product is legally allowed to claim it CURES or HEALS disease, or that it REPLACES any approved medication.
If someone is saying that their supplements will cure cancer, heal your Crohn’s Disease, or replace your prescriptions then you should be at least a bit skeptical. That sort of language is often used to convince those groups to buy, and does not always stem from truthHowever, some natural products ARE proven to be highly supportive of specific normal body functions (e.g., respiratory, digestive, etc.).
And, many times the person means well. It is completely normal process to have a product work so well at supporting a body system that a person experiences a grand improvement in their wellbeing, and of course that leads them to wanting to shout it from the mountaintops and help everyone they know feel better too! When someone says to you something like, “I took this and my reflux was cured!”, that is hopefully an accurate perception of what they believed to have happened. However, what most likely happened is that the product helped fill a deficiency within their body and that enabled that body system to fully function again. The supplement didn’t cure the reflux, it supported healthy digestion. The body then stopped the reflux because it was able to.
This is largely different than what happens when you take a manufactured drug that is synthetically produced to change how normal body functions operate in order to facilitate a change in disease state. If someone is marketing honestly and legally, then the message should be that the product supports or promotes healthy normal body functions or promotes or improves normal, everyday types of issues (aches after working out, feelings of anxiousness before a test, etc.).
According to the FDA, as soon as someone is benefiting from the sale of a product, that person can no longer say that the product stopped his or her reflux or saved them from buying reflux medicine….EVEN IF THAT IS THEIR TRUE EXPERIENCE…because it then falls under commercial speech. Someone may take that as a drug claim and purchase based on that perceived promise. How do I know? Because I carry the doTerra line of oils and supplements and our company has been cooperating fully to educate every leader and advocate in the company as to why controlling commercial speech is so important, and on how to still promote the benefits of our products in a compliant manner. I believe the best in most people, and think those who are still making those claims are doing so because they just don’t understand the laws yet, but the few who use those claims for financial gain only, the few who are the reason the FDA has to make these efforts to begin with…those are the people you want to watch out for.
The bottom line?
I think it is awesome that there are so many natural, quality supplements out there to choose from today. They are sorely needed thanks to the state of our food supply, the amount of toxins we are subjected to daily, and the latest findings that are finally proving that many of the grocery and pharmacy chains have fake supplements on their shelves or supplements without the proper ingredients to facilitate absorption (resulting in expensive urine).
 
So, understand that natural supplement products are merely a support tool that DOES NOT give you a free pass to eat like crap and never workout, yet still expect to get healthy. Research the ingredients so you know what the potential benefits and risks are. And, maintain an accurate expectation of natural supplements’ role in your wellness goals.
They are supportive. They are not magic pills.
iStock_000008226307_SmallThey cannot immediately instill perfect willpower, turn your metabolism into overdrive, erase years of bad habits, make that hot in the corner see you as sexy, or fix your marriage.
 
However, they CAN be a HUGE part of your wellness toolkit when used properly.
 
My most important piece of advice? Don’t be afraid to try different products, and once you find one that helps you reach your goals, don’t let the naysayers and skeptics talk you out of it…stick with it until your body tells you there is a change needed.

Magic Potions? They’re Hocus-Pocus!

Screenshot 2016-01-06 15.34.12As a health coach, I respect the fact that every person is different and therefore will find different products that work for them. That is why I carry more than one, and use more than one brand of product. I choose what works best FOR ME. I also help my clients choose what is right FOR THEM, even if what’s right isn’t any of the products I can supply.

In health coaching school, we are taught that choosing real, unprocessed foods that are non-gmo and grown in a sustainable manner AND managing your primary foods (emotional needs such as stress, love, exercise that you love, and spirituality) are the foundational cornerstones of health. My experiences with my family’s health and my clients’ have proven to me that this is true.

What about all these magic potions out there?

There is no magic potion, no fancy drink or pill that will make up for choosing too much sugar, unhealthy fats, or toxic chemicals. To be at our best, most of us should be eating real foods at every meal, including a full glass of water and about 6 grams of protein within 1/2 hour of waking…and I don’t mean by adding water to a processed protein shake…I mean through FOOD.

Healthy smoothies, ground by you, using fresh veggies, fruits, and food-based-proteins are fine. And, if you choose to use a healthy, no-chemicals-added replacer shake from time to time because of time constraints that is better than nothing, but it is still NOT a healthy food replacement.

Feel free to enjoy and use some of the natural herb and essential oil based products that can naturally help curb cravings and support healthier digestion and weight loss…but just don’t think they make it so you don’t need healthy foods.

What about supplements and essential oils? Do you really need them?

Supplements and essential oils support health and can have amazing benefits, but they are not a “get out of healthy habits free card.”

The answer is that with our current food supply, yes, most of us do need supplements (even those of us who eat very healthy). Again though, they are not even close to a replacement for healthy foods. And, most supplements you find either don’t have the right kind of nutrients and macronutrients, not enough of what you need even if it IS the right kind, or they have TOO much (which can also cause problems). In all of these cases you are likely to end up with very few benefits and very expensive urine…because you likely won’t absorb most of what you take in.

Most everyone needs a BALANCED multi-vitamin and mineral (no or minimal iron unless you are low), Omega-3s, Vitamin D (if it isn’t in your multivitamin in high enough amounts) and a high quality, multi-strain probiotic.

Many companies claim to have amazing probiotics and charge an arm and a leg for them, but do you know what matters in a probiotic?  The number of healthy bacteria strains, the measurement of bacteria strains (cfu), how it is stored/protected to keep those bacteria alive until you consume it, and how those bacteria are introduced into your system and how they plan to ensure most of the bacteria make it through your digestive system into the targeted location. If your probiotic brand is not refrigerate, you have no idea how long it has sat on that shelf, has only 1-4 strains, and has no explanation of how it was specially made to ensure you will actually benefit from those bacteria (rather than merely killing them during digestion)…well, I would recommending researching them more before you spend the money.

You can skip the expensive probiotic altogether if you choose to ingest foods high in probiotics EVERY DAY such as kombucha, water kefir, sauerkraut, raw cheeses, and raw unsweetened yogurts…but these can be expensive too unless you make them yourself; and if you buy the regular processed store cheese or yogurt instead of raw, unsweetened it won’t help much (and may hurt by feeding the unhealthy bacteria with the sugars and additives they contain).

Whether of not you NEED essential oils is a very personal opinion, but they are not magic potions either, but just as with supplements, they can provide great benefits and be a supportive part of your wellness toolkit.

What about a cleanse? Are they really helpful?

I believe I owe my life to a healthy, food-based elimination diet cleanse. Literaly. I am not exaggerating. So, of course I feel a cleanse can be helpful.

But be careful. There are some very UNHEALTHY cleanses out there being touted as safe, when in reality they can cause harm. For example, your body needs fiber to remove toxins, and juicing releases a lot of toxins from your system. So, if you stay on a juicing-only cleanse for many days without adding in any fiber, or even worse, while also adding in supplements to enhance the detox, you could easily overload your filtering organs and get very sick.

Any cleanse should be primarily food-based (or all). Remove all sugar, processed foods, trans-fats, and inflammatory foods for 10-30 days. That along with increased water intake of 64-96 ounces of water per day will make most Americans feel like a million bucks (at least after the first week of detox sludginess…that is a word according to me). 🙂

If a cleanse says you don’t have to change what you eat, or worse yet, that you don’t have to eat at all, please look for another one. Supplements can support cleansing, but the right foods are still what matters most. Great cleanses will teach you healthier habits you can maintain even after you are finished with your cleanse.

And as usual, don’t blindly take my word for it…do some research…look up some of these things for yourself and make an educated decision on what works best for you.

What do I advise?

Please throw out this search for magic potions and fountains of youth, and instead consider these three primary steps to work toward and maintain your version of healthy:

1) Eat real, healthy, unprocessed foods.

2) Move your body every day…in whatever form of exercise makes your heart sing. Take a hike, go for a walk, do yoga on your bedroom floor, join a fitness class group (peer group, belonging, AND exercise…helps with number 3 too)…just move somehow.

3) Take care of your emotional needs. Make your self-talk kinder, surround yourself with people who help you stay positive and celebrate your strengths instead of pointing out your challenges, learn how to say no unless you are excited about saying yes, and make yourself a priority. You deserve to be healthy, but almost no one can be healthy if they aren’t first HAPPY.

Feel free to supplement these steps with any of the holistic complimentary therapies that work for you. In my family, some of the things we supplement with are regular chiropractic care, herb and whole-foods based supplements, essential oils, an annual cleanse, and pet-therapy (we have two of the cutest dogs ever who smother us in unconditional love, laughter, and cuddles).

Which of these three primary areas do you do well in? Which would you like to focus on improving this year? What are some of the complimentary therapies you find helpful? I’d love to hear from you!

 

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.

Ohhhhh, THAT’S What it’s Like to Smell Again!

I love what I do so much!

Last night, I met with a woman named Kathy who is allergic to her cats. However, since they are part of the family, she has lived with the chronic sinuses and infections over the past years. Kathy and her mom came to my house, and they were very excited to learn ways to support health naturally using essential oils. Kathy desperately wanted to help support her body’s efforts to handle allergens better. She had been highly congested for months, and was working on another sinus infection. Her chest was tight and wheezy. We discussed some holistic ways to lessen the impact of her allergies that included diet and lifestyle changes. We also explored my essential oil arsenal. Because it seemed like she had the signs of an impending sinus infection, I suggested she follow my 5 Steps to Calm Your Sinuses Naturally, and she returned home with:

  • Samples of our seasonal blend and our respiratory blend
  • Probiotics and pure Olive Leaf capsules from my personal stash
  • Fresh oregano sprigs from my garden so she could make oregano steam

I had to make sure she had enough to carry her over until her new essential oils kit arrives! Last night I received this message:

“Thank you again for all you did for us today and the amount of time you spent answering all our questions. I’m so excited to see how these all work out and hopeful that it will help me transform my body…There are many things I know I should have done in the past from reading up on things, but speaking with you actually gives me the nudge I needed to take action on those things…i.e. weaning milk out of my life, getting cats out of the bedroom. Your time and knowledge was much appreciated. Talk to you soon.”

Then, this morning, I received this message from her:

Had a few minor issues ( think I woke up 2x’s) but not like normal and fell back to sleep fairly quickly. Noticed I could breathe through one nostril fairly well when I woke up the 2nd time. Did not feel the need to hit snooze this AM like I’ve been doing often for the past month. Best nights sleep in a while. Can’t wait for the diffuser!

Yep. I SOOOO Love what I do. It means that everything my family and I have gone through had a purpose…paying it forward ROCKS. I will be even more excited in a few days when she feels even better! These results were after only 12 hours!!!

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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.

5 Steps to Calm Your Sinuses Naturally

All six of my family members would end up at the doctor or ER at least once every fall or spring (or both). Every single one of us. Every. Single. Year.

I used to joke that I needed frequent flyer miles because the chronic sinus issues and subsequent asthma or bronchitis attacks were only one of the reasons we frequented the ER. It is always bad when the intake people recognize you by name as you walk in.

BUT, in the last two years, the only one who ended up being seen by a doctor for a sinus-related-issue was me…and it was really my own fault. I was so busy making sure my sick kids were following the protocol I am about to share, that I didn’t make time to do it myself. I ended up with severe bronchitis and spent almost a week in bed.

Lesson Learned.

iStock_000041361116LargeAt this time of year, my inbox is filled with questions about how to help the body so it can fight off and keep away sinus infections. So, I will share what we do in our home. First, I will share the steps, then I will share the logic behind why each step is helpful along with some reference links.

  1. Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) Tea: Create a “tea” with 8 oz of water at your preferred temperature, 2 tablespoons of local raw honey, and 1 tablespoon of organic ACV (Braggs or Eden Organics are two great brands).  Or, add the ACV and honey to your favorite tea. Stir, and then drink. You can add two drops of lemon essential oil to help thin the mucous and a drop of a protective blend to further support your immune system.
  2. Netti Pot: About 1/2 hour after you finish drinking your tea, prepare your netti pot. If your sinuses are really bad and you are feeling pressure, dip a toothpick into a single drop of pure Lavender essential oil, and then swirl the toothpick into to the mixture. Use the netti pot at least 2x per nostril, or until you no longer see visible mucous exiting. Neil Med is the brand of netti pot we use and trust; you can find it at most pharmacies. You can also opt for a sinus rinse instead of the pot style. Just be sure to follow the directions and use the packets. They help to match the natural environment in your sinus passages. Regular water will burn and cause further irritation. You can also research how to make your own salt mixture, but I didn’t have much success making my own. The kids could tell the difference.
  3. Oregano Steam: To create the oregano steam, either (1) add 3-4 springs of fresh oregano from your garden, turn down the heat and let the oregano’s natural oils seep in the water until the water turns greenish brown, and then bring the water back to a boil before continuing; OR (2) turn off the heat, add 1 drop of pure oregano oil, stir and give it a minute to diffuse. Oregano essential oil is very potent and if you don’t pause a bit after adding it to the water, it can create a burning sensation inside already inflamed nasal passages. If you choose to use the oil, it is also helpful to add a drop of lavender, lemon, melaleuca, and peppermint.
  4. Apply pure, therapeutic-grade essential oils: For congestion due to virus or bacteria, we apply three essential oil blends: 2 drops of respiratory blend on the chest, 1 drop of digestive blend across the bridge of the nose, and 1 drop of protective blend behind each ear. For congestion due to seasonal or environmental discomforts, we still apply three essential oil blends: 2 drops of respiratory blend on the chest, 1 drop of digestive blend across the bridge of the nose, and 1 drop each of lemon, lavender, and peppermint essential oils behind each ear (you can mix your own oil blend by placing equal drop amounts in a roller bottle, diluted as needed). For young children and for those with sensitive skin, be sure to dilute the oils with a pure 100% carrier oil such as fractionated coconut oil, olive oil or grape seed oil (dilution chart).
  5. If viral or bacterial, take Olive Leaf Capsules: Just like with some of the essential oils, olive leaf has natural chemical properties that help the body better ward off environmental threats. It is also completely natural with no side effects. My kids don’t love the taste, but they love getting better. For our child who is not yet able to swallow the capsules, we open the capsule and mix the powder into a tablespoon of honey. She then swallows quickly and chases it with water. We choose East Park d’Lenolate Olive Leaf capsules for our family.

This protocol works like a charm for us. In a pinch or at the initial onset, we just gently blow our noses to get as much out as we can, and then follow with the oregano steam/oils. We repeat the steps both am and pm in our home, and then just reapply the oils in the middle of the day.

So why do these steps work?


Apple Cider Vinegar is very powerful at thinning the mucous which will make it easier for you to get the mucous out. Mucous sitting in your sinus passages is a perfect environment for additional bacteria to set up shop. Mixing the ACV with honey not only makes it taste better, but also helps soothe sore throats from the inflammation caused by post nasal drip. You can mix just the honey with ACV and swallow, but the water helps with hydration and thinning the mucous, so at least drink the water as a chaser if you choose this option.


The Netti Pot is the most natural and effective way to flush the extra mucous and the bacteria that may be trying to call your sinuses home. It takes a bit of practice to use it without any discomfort, but once you get the hang of it, most find it actually soothing and can feel it helping. The most important tips for success are to:

  1. Keep the tip of your head DOWN and tilted to the side that needs to drain out. If your head is too level, it may burn some.
  2. Breathe through your mouth as you are pouring the fluid into your nostril. It will not work if your mouth is closed and you are holding your breath.
  3. Remember that if my kids at the age of 2 could do it AND ask for it because they knew it helped; then you can surely figure it out. 🙂

If you absolutely cannot bring yourself to do this, then just gently try and blow as much of the thinned mucous out of your passages before continuing with the rest of the steps.


Oregano supports your body in fighting off environmental threats. It goes into your nostrils with the steam and helps make it a less optimal environment for bacteria to take hold. By clearing as much mucous as you can with the netti pot prior to breathing the steam, you are increasing the chances of the oil reaching any threats that are trying to take hold.


The essential oils we use in our home are extremely powerful at helping the body fight the causes of congestion. Lavender helps calm and sooth inflamed nasal passages, respiratory blend helps keep airways open, digestive blend helps reduce mucous production, and protective blend helps support the immune system so it can fight off the virus/bacteria that may be trying to set up camp. The essential oil blend of peppermint, lemon, and lavender has helped many of my clients ease seasonal and environmental discomforts that were previously uncontrolled. Because natural wellness products are not chemically altered medicines that slow release, you do need to reapply more often. My family is supported with 2-3 applications per day.

Just make sure your brand is pure, therapeutic grade (tested to ensure 100% purity and potency). You will not get the same results with food- or fragrance-grade essential oils. I personally did alot of research before choosing the brand I use, and learned that in our country, an oil labeled 100% pure may only contain 5% of the oil labeled. I trust the brand we chose, please be sure to choose one you trust as well.


Olive Leaf is very effective at helping your body kick infections and viruses quicker, and at fighting them off if taken at the first sign of symptoms. We used this even before we found essential oils, and we continue to use it when the cause is viral or bacterial because we feel it is an effective extra support and there are no side effects. Not all Olive Leaf is created equal though. We trust the East Park brand I linked to above.


There are many other helpful herbs and oils for congestion such as onion and grapefruit seed extract. We have just found this protocol and it works very well for us and for far less cost than conventional options, so we are sticking with it. I hope you have as much success in your home!

What protocols do you follow in your home to fight congestion? Please share in the comments below.

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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.

Get it Off Your Chest

Have you ever wondered where certain phrases come from? I do…often. I sometimes like to geek out on searching the internet for the origins of phrases such as “…apple of my eye,” or “…on cloud 9.” This week, I am fairly certain I figured out what it means to get something off your chest.

iStock_000022711821SmallA dear friend of mine’s parents, sister, and aunt were in a car accident. Her aunt was killed. Her mother spent hours in the police station trying not to cry over the loss of her sister because she was in public. Then, she went home and tried not to cry over the loss of her sister because she wanted to be strong for her niece, nephews, and children. She ended up being admitted into the hospital for chest pains, with everyone worried that it was a sign of a missed injury. Luckily it wasn’t. I believe it was the way her sorrow and stress manifested in her body, since she had felt the need to keep it all wrapped up inside.

Stress is a silent killer. It inhibits your body’s ability to function properly in many ways. It also causes very real physical symptoms…especially when you hold it in and do nothing to help your body release it. If you try and suppress your true feelings or desires, you are highly likely to feel it in your body, possibly your chest. You may feel a tightness, pains when you breathe in deeply, or random shooting pains that mimic heart attack symptoms. You may feel like you cannot take a deep enough breath.

How do I know?

Last week both our dog and I had anaphylactic allergic reactions that we spent days overcoming (luckily on different days or our dog Bailey would have been out of luck). Then, I worked three days straight at our local festival, by myself, educating people about natural healthcare. Although this was fun stress, it was still stress. Our bodies don’t differentiate between good and bad stress: the effects are the same.

As I was tearing down from the festival, my husband had a freak accident in our home and ended up badly cut and bruised, with an injured arm and a concussion.  Today, when I was trying to work while caring for my kids and husband who is now on bed rest, I got something in my eye. It appeared to have cut the top layer of my eye open, leaving a flap that covered my vision if I looked to the right. Thankfully, after another trip to an emergency provider, it turned out to be just a topical allergic reaction that caused that layer to swell and loosen. When I turn my eye, the loose covering bunches over my eye.

Amazingly, I am feeling pretty well in spite of my stress-filled week. But, it isn’t always this way. Often when life gets like this, I get that same pressure in my chest. But, because I knew I was under a large amount of stress, I have been taking steps to ensure I could get it all “off my chest” and continue functioning.

So, how do you get it off your chest?

  • Get moving: Exercise is a great way to manage stress levels and release pent up emotions. I made sure to join my neighbor for our morning walk in spite of all the craziness.
  • Nourish your body: When you are under stress, it is extra important to nourish your body properly. Eat whole, unprocessed foods. Avoid processed sugars. Choose whole grains and limit them to less than 2 cups per day. Eat a rainbow of vegetables throughout the week, and ensure you are getting enough healthy fats and protein. Most importantly, fight the urge to bribe your stress away with junk food. The comfort provided only lasts a few moments and will actually make your physical symptoms worse.
  • Support your body: Your body needs certain nutrients to deal with high levels of stress hormones. You may need to supplement with extra B vitamins (especially B6), magnesium, and omega 3 at a minimum. You may also use essential oils to help your body calm, to work toward homeostasis, and to combat fatigue. I use a grounding blend and a tension blend of essential oils to help me stay calm and level emotionally and physically, and I use peppermint mixed with grapefruit or wild orange essential oils to give me extra energy. Everyone is different, but through trial and error, you will find what supports your body best.
  • Listen to your body: When you are under a lot of stress, you need to listen to your body. If you are tired, find time to rest, even if only for 15 minutes. If you need to stop holding up the world for a minute, ask for help or take a break. If you need to cry, then cry. Yes, I am talking to you men too.
  • Take care of you: Carve out at least 30 minutes to take care of yourself each day. Read that article you have been dying to read or treat yourself to that thing you have been wishing you had time for (e.g., painting your nails, going fishing, hiking your favorite trail).  Play your favorite playlist while driving in the car and sing like no one can hear you.

Of course, if you are feeling chest pains and are not sure what they are, GO TO THE ER IMMEDIATELY. If it turns out that all is well with your heart and it is likely stress-related, then I challenge you to make YOU a priority, and to go get it off your chest!

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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.

What Does the Word “Coach” Mean to You?

ImageI was talking to a dear friend of mine, and we were brainstorming how to change our company name and tagline to something that better represents what we do. As we were talking, she shared that the word “coach” turns her off, that to her it represents someone who is more distant. Suddenly, flashbacks flooded my brain. My high school gym coach, in some misguided attempt to motivate me, was screaming in my ear, “C’mon you pathetic wimp…put some effort into it!” I hadn’t thought about that, and it pains me to think that someone’s perception of what is suppose to be an amazing word may stop them from reaching out for help.

I cannot change my certification title. Certified Health Coach is the legally recognized term for what I do. BUT, I CAN clarify what it means. I am the version of a coach that you either always wished you had (or I suppose some of you may have been blessed enough to have a true coach in your life).

I will NEVER yell at, insult, or demean you. However, I WILL:

  • Educate you about various holistic options that are likely to help you reach your health and lifestyle goals
  • Guide you as you apply that knowledge and choose the changes you feel are best for YOU
  • Support you as you figure out how to implement those changes
  • Challenge any beliefs, thought processes, or influences that are holding you back from realizing your goals (but in a professional and supportive manner)
  • Teach you any new skills you need to be successful (alternate cooking methods, how to read labels, etc.)
  • Partner with you (celebrate successes and encourage you through any setbacks)

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So if you don’t like the word coach, and this list isn’t clear enough, then picture a guide. On my honeymoon, we had this amazing guide who trekked with us through the rainforest of Costa Rica. He was AMAZING! He was invested. We could tell he truly cared about whether we were getting what we wanted out of our experience. He was knowledgeable. He seemed to know everything about the forest and the living things found in it. He was experienced. He had hiked through that forest numerous times and knew the most time efficient and enjoyable routes to choose.

Experience

I have been where you are and walked the same path before. I suffered from IBS, diverticulitis, and mild ulcerative colitis in my young 20s. I reacted to almost any medications and missed work so often I worried about losing my job. I was so worried about various embarrassing symptoms that I never went out to eat with friends, and I rarely went out at all. I didn’t understand how my environment and the foods I ate could be the reason I was so sick.  I was so skeptical and resistant that I didn’t make the changes I should have, until age 30 when I was given six months to live…shortly after giving birth to my first child.

I am embarrassed to say that it took something that drastic to motivate me. Yet, it did motivate me to finally explore beyond conventional healthcare and embrace more holistic lifestyle approaches. My reward was proving my doctors wrong and living to raise my son and adopt three more wonderful girls.

Knowledge

After watching almost every member of my family manage medical challenges that are supposedly severe and lifelong by incorporating holistic, natural changes; I was inspired to enroll in the Institute of Integrative Nutrition’s health coaching Program. I initially just wanted to learn more so I could help my own family better. But, while I was there, I was inspired by experts who are at the forefront of wellness. These speakers were the leading doctors, PhDs, researchers and authorities in nutrition today. I learned about most nutritional theories, what the potential benefits and risks were of each, and what the general feedback was from those who embraced those theories. So, in addition to my life experience, I also have a broad palette of information to draw from when working with my clients.

Investment

I take your success very personally. I will customize your program however we need to in order to reach your goals. I will not embark on a health coaching program with someone unless I feel that both of us feel it is the right fit, and I am confident that I can help you succeed. I feel your excitement when you have a good day, and I feel your disappointment when you have a more challenging day. I have two main reasons for doing this:

  1. It hurts me to see others suffering the way I did and to know that they don’t have to…that they really can help themselves, and that the changes are not nearly as bad or difficult as they have them built up to be in their minds.
  2. Knowing that all the struggles and challenges I’ve faced in my life, all the times I wanted to give up and quit, all the times I felt overwhelmed and angry that I had been given so much to handle…knowing that ALL of that had a purpose…well, let’s just say that I get just as much out of helping you as you get out of it.

If you are like my dear friend Tricia, and you shrink away in slight disgust at the word “coach,” then I hope this post will help you see that health coaches are not the same as the one(s) that gave you such a negative perception. I would welcome the opportunity to be the person who helps you replace it with a much more positive one, but really I just want you to reach out and find someone that will help you take charge of your own health and improve your quality of life. It is worth fighting for, and hopefully you will choose to fight before you are in a critical life or death situation like I was.

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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.