You may be accustomed to hearing your pharmacist remind to to take your medication but I'm going to give you some great excuses today to take time for meditation instead!
Whether you call it meditation, prayer or quiet time, carving out time for a mindfulness practice is as essential to your health as exercise, sleep and supplements. In fact, a mindfulness practice can augment the effects of already healthy lifestyle changes you have made and reduce your need for medications.
Meditation has been proven to help with the following common ailments: pain, inflammation, stress, anxiety, depression and high blood pressure to name a few.
Meditation is a great way to begin your day less frazzled and more focused. It's a nice pause midday to help refocus and energize your mind and body that also useful for winding down at night to prepare for restful and restorative sleep.
I try to start my day with 10 minutes of meditation in the morning, preferably outside if the weather is nice (as an added benefit, exposure to the sun first thing in the morning is great for your hormones!).
A simple Google search for "guided meditation" will lead you to tons of YouTube videos that can help get you started. I personally use and recommend an app like Calm www.calm.com or Headspace www.headspace.com.
Here are a few tips for when you're ready to start taking your meditation:
1.) Find a quiet spot where you won't be disturbed. This is why mornings are great. Typically, there are fewer interruptions and it makes for a great start to your day. For me, meditation has replaced my early morning social media scrolling and helps get my mind in the right place before all the busyness of the day begins.
2.) Get comfortable. You don't have to have a special meditation cushion. I sit on a comfy bolster or my yoga mat. You can also sit in a chair or on your couch. Anywhere besides your bed (unless you're meditating before bedtime) so you're not tempted to crawl back under the covers for more zzz's.
3.) Don't be critical. Our minds are so busy and it's nearly impossible to clear all the "chatter" away.
4.) Make it a ritual. I like to light a candle and turn my salt lamp on since it's usually still dark outside when I begin my practice. You might burn incense or play calming music. I also make sure to have warm lemon water or hot tea nearby to drink once I'm finished. Just make this time YOURS.
5.) Don't be afraid. Meditation isn't just for gurus and yogis and the super-enlightened. We can all benefit from the sense of peace and calm that spending a few minutes focused inward has to offer.
Spring is here with the fresh air, birds chirping, flowers blooming and trees budding. If you're an allergy sufferer, you likely know the other signs of spring: itchy eyes, runny nose, constant sneezing.
But spring doesn't have to be a fog of antihistamine-induced drowsiness and snot.
Would you believe it if I told you that your allergy symptoms are most likely pointing to a bigger issue? One that has more to do with your gut than with the pollen floating through the air?
Upwards of 70% of your immune system is in your gut. Yes, SEVENTY PERCENT. You don't have to be a math whiz to figure out if your gut isn't healthy then your immune system won't be up to par either. By fixing your gut, you can minimize or even eliminate those pesky seasonal allergies that everyone seems to suffer from this time of year.
It won't be an instant fix and you may not even get relief this year. However, as your gut begins to heal, you'll notice improvements in your immune system that will make you resistant to colds and other bugs in the fall and winter seasons and seasonal allergies in the spring and early summer months.
First, you'll want to focus on eliminated food groups that are common causes of inflammation that can contribute to poor gut health. These include gluten, dairy, soy, eggs, corn and added sugar. I highly recommend doing an elimination diet, like the Whole 30, to help you figure out which foods may be contributing to inflammation in your body.
While you're cutting out inflammatory foods, you'll also want to focus on adding in gut-healthy foods by eating something fermented at least once a day. (And, no, wine and beer don't count.) Options include kimchi, sauerkraut and coconut kefir. From the supplement aisle, you'll want to pick up a quality probiotic to help build up the healthy bugs in your gut that make your immune system happy and healthy,
As your gut is healing, you'll notice and improvement in symptoms. But, for those of you trying to avoid OTC antihistamines, decongestants and steroid nasal sprays, I have a few more natural treatment options for you to discuss with your healthcare provider.
1.) A neti pot and/or nasal saline rinse. These items will physically wash away any pollen (or snot) and open up your nasal passages without the use of an immune-suppressing steroid nasal spray. We want to help our immune systems, not suppress them!
2.) Local, raw honey. A teaspoon of good quality honey in some hot tea is a relaxing, fun way to soothe your throat and combat allergy symptoms. Make sure you get local honey and not the stuff in the cute little bear at the grocery store. Most grocery "honey" is ultra-filtered and has had all the pollen, that helps your body fend off allergies, removed. Or, has actually been cut with high fructose corn syrup. This is definitely NOT what your body needs.
3.) If you're still suffering, there are natural allergy products on the market that can help fight acute allergy symptoms. I've linked the one I like here. www.pharmaca.com/ortho-molecular-d-hist-natural-120-capsules.
Here's to enjoy a healthy, allergy-free spring!
I've been absent for a while but not because I haven't been working!
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As always, use common sense and speak with YOUR healthcare provider before starting (or stopping) any new medications or supplements.