Itching for a Cure

Fall ushers in cooler temperatures and often more dry skin and related conditions. October is recognized as National Eczema Awareness Month to raise awareness of this uncomfortable skin condition afflicting more than 30 million people in the U.S. according to the National Eczema Association. Eczema is a general term for any type of inflammation of the skin and causes dry, itchy patches. Though there is no cure for eczema, Marina Peredo, associate clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital (New York City) has a few tips to share to help you manage symptoms of eczema or just plain itchy skin.

  • Take warm baths instead of hot showers. Warm baths are less drying.
  • Adding in Epsom salts will help provide anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties. The extra bonus? Relaxation! Epsom salt baths help soothe and relax the muscles, so tension is eased. Stress is a major component in eczema flare ups so relaxation is key to managing the problem.
  • Using a very gentle cleanser that maintains the skin’s barrier is important.
  •  After bathing, pat the skin dry and avoid rubbing vigorously with a towel. Make sure to apply a highly nourishing and moisturizing product within 3 minutes while skin is still damp to lock in moisture. Recommend products specifically formulated for dry, itchy skin.
  •  Look for moisturizing ingredients such as ceramides, petrolatum and shea butter to help reduce trans-epidermal water loss and restore the skin’s natural moisture barrier.
  •  Ingredients such as a light amount of an alpha hydroxy acid can help minimize the dry, itchy plaques. Try a cream that contains salicylic acid in addition to vitamin D.
  •  Look for ointments and creams instead of serums and lotions. Always opt for a fragrance free product.
  •  Have your vitamin D levels checked. Recent clinical studies have shown that there may be a link between vitamin D deficiencies and atopic dermatitis.
  •  Avoid tight fitting, rough, scratchy clothing. Instead of wool, opt for cotton.
  •  Visit your dermatologist to determine whether the use of prescription-strength products are necessary to help manage your eczema.

Thai Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients
1 butternut squash
1 tsp. olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2½ tsp. red curry paste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. fresh ginger, minced
1 cup chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
2 tsp. light brown sugar
1 (14-oz) can light coconut milk (I use the coconut milk in the box – it has less sugar and makes  a lighter soup with a milder coconut flavor).
¼ tsp. salt
chopped peanuts, for serving
chopped cilantro, for serving
limes, for serving

Directions
1. Cut your butternut squash in half and place on a microwave plate, cut side down. Add a couple tablespoons of water to the plate and place in the microwave. Cook for 5 minute increments, until squash is tender (about 10-15 minutes).  (I use a short cut and buy the squash already diced or at least peeled and cut in half)
2. Meanwhile, add oil to a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté for 3 minutes. Add red curry paste, garlic and ginger. Stir constantly for 1 minute.
3. Add the chicken broth, brown sugar, coconut milk and salt. Bring to a boil and reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes.
4. When butternut squash is tender, remove from microwave and using a spoon, scoop out the flesh of the squash halves and place in blender. Purée in batches if your blender is small.
5. Pour mixture from saucepan into the blender with squash. Remove center piece of blender lid to help steam escape and place a paper towel over it just in case soup splatters. Blend until smooth.
6. Serve in bowls with with chopped cilantro, peanuts on top and lime on the side. Enjoy!

Mercury In Retrograde – Again?

Mercury in Retrograde:  What is it?

It happens three to four times per year, when the planet Mercury slows down, and appears to stop (station) and move backward (retrograde). It’s an optical illusion, since there is forward movement, like speeding by a slow-moving train — as it recedes, it appears to go backward.

Mercury Madness?

Mercury is the messenger and so we find that things involving communication may be confused or the message gets lost en route. Some people find that their computers go on the fritz or phone lines go down. If you’re at all jittery about it, go ahead and back up your important files.

There can be delays in communication or in transportation, so give yourself plenty of time to get places.  Cars and other large mechanical items (home appliances, HVACs) may be effected – break down, need repair, etc.  In preparation for retrograde, some people arrange for preventive maintenance to occur on key equipment.

Mercury in Retrograde Gives Us A Time-Out:

Mercury retrograde gives us time to catch up with ourselves, and reflect. Often it’s felt as a slowed down, contemplative time.  It can be a chance to go over old ground again, to claim what you missed the first time.  Something from the past may return in a different form. People, ideas or buried insights that are keys to moving forward, float to the surface.

Err on Side of Caution!

There’s a long-held belief that it’s best to avoid making set plans during the Mercury Retrograde. This means holding off on signing contracts, and forming partnerships and alliances. What gets put in writing at this time may turn out to need serious revising after Mercury goes direct. But since tying up loose ends is the domain of retrograde, this type of finalization might fly.

What’s the Silver Lining?

Yes, it is frustrating to deal with computers not working, cars breaking down, and arguments over unfortunate misunderstandings, but there is a silver lining.  Mercury gives us a time review our current course and life decisions.  Some dreams and goals get lost in the hectic rushing around of daily life. The Mercury Retrograde period can be a rich time of reflection on those longings.  This makes it a time for contemplation, review and re-design. You might look over old journals, review your creative work, rethink ideas you once had but thought could never work. It can make the retrograde period a time of re-committing to or re-establishing goals; changing directions in life!

Massaged Kale Salad with Roasted Beets

2-4 cups of lacinto kale (or other leafy greens if kale is not available or your fave)

½ cup fennel, sliced as thin as you can

1/2 orange pepper, sliced thin

¼ cup shredded coconut

½ Tbs coconut oil

1 Large Beet, cut into small chunks

¼ cup pepitas, lightly toasted

cumin, salt, pepper to taste

 

Prepare:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Lightly toss beets in sesame oil, cumin, salt and pepper.  Cook for 16 minutes or until tender enough to eat.  Set aside.

Massage your greens with your hands and some salt.  Do this until the greens begin to break down a bit so they are softer; then add the fennel and pepper, shredded coconut and oil.  Combine thoroughly.

Add in your beets and toasted pepitas.  Give everything a good toss before eating.

6 Ways CranioSacral Therapy Facilitates Brain Health

By Tad Wanveer, L.M.B.T., C.S.T.-D. September 1, 2014

The author discusses the specific effects of CranioSacral Therapy on brain-related problems, including chronic pain; neurodegenerative disorders; issues related to inflammation; spinal column or nerve problems; and eye conditions.

A primary focus of CranioSacral Therapy is to gently lessen the body’s connective tissue strain and decrease meningeal stress. CranioSacral Therapy is based partly on the theory that certain light-touch manual techniques can help relieve cell stress and improve health by enhancing the form and balance of the connective tissue matrix, in particular connective tissue layers surrounding the brain and spinal cord.

Enhanced brain form enables brain cells to work at their optimal level, which may improve molecular production, movement, use and clearance throughout the brain, leading to enhanced brain function and improved brain health.  Because an emphasis of CranioSacral Therapy is on facilitating correction of the whole-body connective tissue matrix, it can be used for a wide range of conditions, including:

1. Chronic pain. Lessening tissue stress that may be causing pain signals can help address the site of injury or strain. Reducing spinal cord and sensory ganglia adverse strain related to compromised tissue can aid recovery from pain, because sensory ganglia and spinal cord stress can maintain pain perception even when the cause has improved.

2. Neurodegenerative disorders. Decreasing the brain’s connective tissue container strain can improve brain form. This seems to boost cerebrospinal fluid movement, which may optimize brain cleansing of harmful substances. Harmful buildup of substances, such as toxins related to chemical exposure, in the brain may contribute in part to diseases of neurodegeneration such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

Brain issues related to inflammation. Some theories pose that brain inflammation may be part of the cause of autism spectrum disorders, attention issues, hyperactivity, sensory processing disorder, anxiety, sleep disorders, headache, migraine and post-concussion syndrome. Correction may be enhanced by addressing the following: reducing brain inflammation by lessening brain stress that exists in response to connective tissue strain; optimizing drainage of interstitial fluid and enhancing the flow of cerebrospinal fluid throughout the brain; and helping the brain flush itself of irritating or disorganizing substances, which may help the brain calm and organize most efficiently.

4. Spinal column or nerve problems. Some of these problems include scoliosis, herniated disc, nerve root entrapment, spondylolisthesis and sciatica. Correcting connective tissue restrictive patterns of the musculoskeletal system in order to lessen adverse strain of bony structures or nerve sheaths may lessen structural imbalance or distortion that may cause issues. Improving the patterning of the connective tissue layers encasing the spinal cord and nerve roots in order to decrease adverse neurological stress related to the area of difficulty can help correct bone- or nerve-related conditions.

5. Autonomic nervous system disorders. High blood pressure, dizziness, lightheadedness and constipation are some of the issues related to autonomic nervous system distress. Lessening soft tissue strain in order to decrease disturbing neurological signaling within autonomic pathways can help enhance autonomic signaling. Decreasing brain and spinal cord irritation in areas related to regulating autonomic nervous system function can improve autonomic integration and signaling.

6. Eye problems. Conditions such as astigmatism, blurry vision, double vision, dry eyes or strabismus may be aided by lessening stress of connective tissue layers encasing the eyes, covering the optic nerves, enveloping the eye motor nerves or disturbing vision processing areas.

Tad Wanveer, L.M.B.T., C.S.T.-D. (www.carycentercst.com), is a diplomate certified in CranioSacral Therapy; a certified Upledger CranioSacral Therapy instructor; originator of a new class, CranioSacral Therapy Touching the Brain 1; creator of an animated DVD set, In Motion; and author of the soon-to-be-published book, Brain Stars: Glia Illuminating CranioSacral Therapy.

Not Enough Sleep Can Leave You Sick and Tired!

10 Things to Hate About Sleep Loss

By Camille Peri, WebMD Feature, Reviewed by James Beckerman, MD, FACC

You know lack of sleep can make you grumpy and foggy. You may not know what it can do to your sex life, memory, health, looks, and even ability to lose weight. Here are 10 surprising — and serious — effects of sleep loss.

1. Sleepiness Causes Accidents

Sleep deprivation was a factor in some of the biggest disasters in recent history: the 1979 nuclear accident at Three Mile Island, the massive Exxon Valdez oil spill, the 1986 nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl, and others.

But sleep loss is also a big public safety hazard every day on the road. Drowsiness can slow reaction time as much as driving drunk. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that fatigue is a cause in 100,000 auto crashes and 1,550 crash-related deaths a year in the U.S. The problem is greatest among people under 25 years old.

Studies show that sleep loss and poor-quality sleep also lead to accidents and injuries on the job. In one study, workers who complained about excessive daytime sleepiness had significantly more work accidents, particularly repeated work accidents. They also had more sick days per accident.

2. Sleep Loss Dumbs You Down

Sleep plays a critical role in thinking and learning. Lack of sleep hurts these cognitive processes in many ways. First, it impairs attention, alertness, concentration, reasoning, and problem solving. This makes it more difficult to learn efficiently.

Second, during the night, various sleep cycles play a role in “consolidating” memories in the mind. If you don’t get enough sleep, you won’t be able to remember what you learned and experienced during the day.

3. Sleep Deprivation Can Lead to Serious Health Problems

Sleep disorders and chronic sleep loss can put you at risk for:

  • Heart disease
  • Heart attack
  • Heart failure
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes

According to some estimates, 90% of people with insomnia — a sleep disorder characterized by trouble falling and staying asleep — also have another health condition.

4. Lack of Sleep Kills Sex Drive

Sleep specialists say that sleep-deprived men and women report lower libidos and less interest in sex. Depleted energy, sleepiness, and increased tension may be largely to blame.

For men with sleep apnea, a respiratory problem that interrupts sleep, there may be another factor in the sexual slump. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism in 2002 suggests that many men with sleep apnea also have low testosterone levels. In the study, nearly half of the men who suffered from severe sleep apnea also secreted abnormally low levels of testosterone during the night.

5. Sleepiness Is Depressing

Over time, lack of sleep and sleep disorders can contribute to the symptoms of depression. In a 2005 Sleep in America poll, people who were diagnosed with depression or anxiety were more likely to sleep less than six hours at night.

The most common sleep disorder, insomnia, has the strongest link to depression. In a 2007 study of 10,000 people, those with insomnia were five times as likely to develop depression as those without. In fact, insomnia is often one of the first symptoms of depression.

Recommended Related to Sleep Disorders

Insomnia and depression feed on each other. Sleep loss often aggravates the symptoms of depression, and depression can make it more difficult to fall asleep. On the positive side, treating sleep problems can help depression and its symptoms, and vice versa.

6. Lack of Sleep Ages Your Skin

Most people have experienced sallow skin and puffy eyes after a few nights of missed sleep. But it turns out that chronic sleep loss can lead to lackluster skin, fine lines, and dark circles under the eyes.

When you don’t get enough sleep, your body releases more of the stress hormone cortisol. In excess amounts, cortisol can break down skin collagen, the protein that keeps skin smooth and elastic.

Sleep loss also causes the body to release too little human growth hormone. When we’re young, human growth hormone promotes growth. As we age, it helps increase muscle mass, thicken skin, and strengthen bones.

“It’s during deep sleep — what we call slow-wave sleep — that growth hormone is released,” says sleep expert Phil Gehrman, PhD. “It seems to be part of normal tissue repair — patching the wear and tear of the day.”

7. Sleepiness Makes You Forgetful

Trying to keep your memory sharp? Try getting plenty of sleep.

In 2009, American and French researchers determined that brain events called “sharp wave ripples” are responsible for consolidating memory. The ripples also transfer learned information from the hippocampus to the neocortex of the brain, where long-term memories are stored. Sharp wave ripples occur mostly during the deepest levels of sleep.

8. Losing Sleep Can Make You Gain Weight

When it comes to body weight, it may be that if you snooze, you lose. Lack of sleep seems to be related to an increase in hunger and appetite, and possibly to obesity. According to a 2004 study, people who sleep less than six hours a day were almost 30 percent more likely to become obese than those who slept seven to nine hours.

Recent research has focused on the link between sleep and the peptides that regulate appetite. “Ghrelin stimulates hunger and leptin signals satiety to the brain and suppresses appetite,” says Siebern. “Shortened sleep time is associated with decreases in leptin and elevations in ghrelin.”

Not only does sleep loss appear to stimulate appetite. It also stimulates cravings for high-fat, high-carbohydrate foods. Ongoing studies are considering whether adequate sleep should be a standard part of weight loss programs.

9. Lack of Sleep May Increase Risk of Death

In the “Whitehall II Study,” British researchers looked at how sleep patterns affected the mortality of more than 10,000 British civil servants over two decades. The results, published in 2007, showed that those who had cut their sleep from seven to five hours or fewer a night nearly doubled their risk of death from all causes. In particular, lack of sleep doubled the risk of death from cardiovascular disease.

10. Sleep Loss Impairs Judgment, Especially About Sleep

Lack of sleep can affect our interpretation of events. This hurts our ability to make sound judgments because we may not assess situations accurately and act on them wisely.

Sleep-deprived people seem to be especially prone to poor judgment when it comes to assessing what lack of sleep is doing to them. In our increasingly fast-paced world, functioning on less sleep has become a kind of badge of honor. But sleep specialists say if you think you’re doing fine on less sleep, you’re probably wrong. And if you work in a profession where it’s important to be able to judge your level of functioning, this can be a big problem.

“Studies show that over time, people who are getting six hours of sleep, instead of seven or eight, begin to feel that they’ve adapted to that sleep deprivation — they’ve gotten used to it,” Gehrman says. “But if you look at how they actually do on tests of mental alertness and performance, they continue to go downhill. So there’s a point in sleep deprivation when we lose touch with how impaired we are.”

SOURCES:

Lavie, P. Accident Analysis and Prevention, August 1982.

Lavie, P. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism; vol 87: pp 3394-3398.

Girardeau, G. Nature Neuroscience, October 2009.

Ferrie, J. Sleep, December 2007.

Van Dongen, H. Sleep, 2003.

Harvard Medical School: “Sleep, Performance, and Public Safety,” “Sleep, Learning, and Memory,” “Sleep and Mood.”

National Sleep Foundation: “Teens and Sleep,” “ABCs of ZZZZs — When you Can’t Sleep,” “2005 Adult Sleep Habits and Styles.”

NIH National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute: “Your Guide to Healthy Sleep.”

Anxiety Disorders Association of America: “Sleep Disorders.”

Allison T. Siebern, PhD,Insomnia and Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program, Stanford University Sleep Medicine Center, Redwood City, Calif.

Phil Gehrman, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry and clinical director, Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: “Research on Drowsy Driving.”

Reviewed on February 13, 2014

 

 

Yoga for seniors can help with balance, agility and strength. But injuries do happen.

By Carol Krucoff August 18, The Washington Post, Health & Science Section

 

The elegant, silver-haired woman poked her head tentatively into my classroom as students were setting up their mats and chairs for a “gentle yoga” class. “Is it okay if I just watch?” she asked, then told me she had tried a yoga class to ease pain in her neck and back, only to find that actually made her problem worse.

It’s a complaint I’ve heard many times, particularly from older adults: that the supposedly healing practice of yoga caused pain. As a teacher specializing in therapeutic yoga for seniors and people with health challenges, I often work with those who have had a negative experience in a yoga class, frequently because it was an inappropriate style or level for the participant or was taught by an inexperienced or poorly trained instructor.

“Teaching yoga at a senior center is an entry-level job in many communities, which means they’re putting the least-trained people with the hardest crowd,” says Gale A. Greendale, a professor of medicine and gerontology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. “There’s often a cacophony of preexisting conditions in this age group, and a yoga teacher has to be very skilled to not get older adults into trouble.”

With studies suggesting that yoga may be helpful in reducing heart rate and blood pressure, relieving anxiety and depression, and easing back pain, studios are filling up with baby boomers and older adults. Yet, seniors pose a special challenge for yoga instructors, because of their very mix of abilities and condition: Some 80-year-olds are still running marathons, and some 70-year-olds are unable to get up out of a chair.

Greendale first recognized this phenomenon when she led a study to assess whether yoga could decrease hyperkyphosis, an exaggerated curve of the thoracic spine sometimes called dowager’s hump. Her research, published in 2009, found that yoga improved the condition. However, during the six-month study, approximately 60 percent of the 120 participants — ambulatory people ages 60 to 90 — developed musculoskeletal soreness and/or pain significant enough to require modifications of their poses. Also, those with preexisting musculoskeletal conditions who hadn’t been bothered by those conditions were particularly likely to experience significant muscle or joint side effects.

“Most study participants had preexisting conditions in their hips, back, knees or shoulders that were quiescent until we started putting them through yoga poses — and we were already using versions of poses that were adapted in ways that we thought would be safer for seniors,” she recalls. “Even in robust seniors, the musculoskeletal risks were there, lying dormant until we woke them up.”

Like any physical activity, yoga has risks, Greendale says, but “I believe yoga’s benefits outweigh its risks as long as people start at the right level, don’t progress too fast and make appropriate modifications.”

Proper alignment is critical, notes Taylor, whose “Safe Yoga for Bone Health” webinar handout is offered on the National Osteoporosis Foundation’s Web site.

Safely practiced, yoga can be extremely helpful for older adults since “age and gravity are the tartar of our skeletal system,” he says. “Yoga is like postural dental floss. Just as we brush our teeth twice a day, we should do two, five-minute yoga practices a day. It doesn’t take a lot — just a few minutes to slow down, turn inward and move with attention.” This simple practice can help seniors learn — and be able to maintain — good posture, he says, which can enhance comfort, balance, respiratory function and mood.

For those interested in taking a yoga class, a good first step toward avoiding problems is to watch the yoga class and make sure the pace and moves being taught seem appropriate to your physical condition. Consider also whether the instructor explains the moves well and creates a non-competitive environment where students are encouraged to challenge themselves without straining. Be sure to start where you are — not where you think you should be — and if a move hurts, back off the pose. Talk with your teacher about modifications, and be honest and patient.

With the right class and instructor, you are likely to feel more relaxed and energized after your first class. Over time, you may experience enhanced strength, flexibility and balance. But pushing yourself to do too much, too soon can be a setup for injury.

The silver-haired woman who watched my gentle yoga class is now a regular participant and credits yoga with relieving her neck pain, easing chronic headaches and enhancing her sleep.

“The biggest surprise to me was the relaxation effect,” she says. “I had no idea how much tension I was holding in my upper back and shoulders, and yoga has helped me let go of my tendency to grip. Learning how to relax and breathe has made a huge difference in my life.”

 

Late Summer Fun – Don’t Forget the Sunscreen! And Some Home Remedies when you do.

Late summer and we are still going strong.  Last few weekends at the beach or hiking or kayaking.  It is easy when you are grabbing these waning days of summer to forget the sun protection or to assume that you no longer need to be diligent with sunscreen because you have “built a base tan” through the summer.  But the rule remains:  if you are going to be in the sun, apply (and re-apply often) a sunscreen with at least a sun protection factor of 30 or 35.

And if you do forget your sunscreen, here are some home remedies to calm the sting of sunburn pain:

  1. Use lotions that contain aloe Vera to soothe and moisturize skin. Some aloe products contain lidocaine, an anesthetic that can help relieve sunburn pain.
  2. Topical over-the-counter 1% hydrocortisone cream may help relieve sunburn pain, itch, and swelling.
  3. Take over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve) to help relieve pain and inflammation.
  4. Apply cool, not cold, milk with a clean cloth to your skin. The milk will create a protein film that helps ease sunburn discomfort.
  5. Vitamin E, an antioxidant, can help decrease inflammation caused by sunburn. Use Vitamin E oil on the skin, or take a regular dose of the supplement.
  6. Apply freshly brewed tea after it has cooled to skin using a clean cloth. The tannic acid in black tea reportedly helps draw heat from sunburned skin, and also aids in restoring the pH balance.
  7. Cucumbers have natural antioxidant and analgesic properties. Chill cucumbers, then mash in a blender to create a paste, and apply to affected areas including the face.
  8. Place a cool compress on sunburned skin.
  9. Take a cool shower or bath. Add one cup of cider vinegar to a bath to help balance the pH (acid or alkalinity) of sunburned skin, and promote healing; or Soak in an oatmeal bath. This is especially helpful for itchy sunburned skin.
  10. The best remedy is PREVENTION. Always use sunscreen, wear protective clothing, and avoid direct sun exposure.

REFERENCES:

DrCynthiaBailey.com. Best Natural Sunburn Treatment Remedies.

 

 

7 HEALTH BENEFITS OF MEDITATION


by Anastasia Stephens, SMH
Reprinted from Food Matters, 7/14/2014
It’s a piece of advice yogis have given for thousands of years: take a deep breath and relax. Watch the tension melt from your muscles and all your niggling worries vanish. Somehow we all know that relaxation is good for us.

Now the hard science has caught up: a comprehensive scientific study showing that deep relaxation changes our bodies on a genetic level has just been published. What researchers at Harvard Medical School discovered is that, in long-term practitioners of relaxation methods such as yoga and meditation, far more ”disease-fighting genes” were active, compared to those who practised no form of relaxation.

In particular, they found genes that protect from disorders such as pain, infertility, high blood pressure and even rheumatoid arthritis were switched on. The changes, say the researchers, were induced by what they call ”the relaxation effect”, a phenomenon that could be just as powerful as any medical drug but without the side effects. ”We found a range of disease-fighting genes were active in the relaxation practitioners that were not active in the control group,” Dr Herbert Benson, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, who led the research, says. The good news for the control group with the less-healthy genes is that the research didn’t stop there.

The experiment, which showed just how responsive genes are to behaviour, mood and environment, revealed that genes can switch on, just as easily as they switch off. ”Harvard researchers asked the control group to start practising relaxation methods every day,” says Jake Toby, hypnotherapist at London’s BodyMind Medicine Centre, who teaches clients how to induce the relaxation effect. ”After two months, their bodies began to change: the genes that help fight inflammation, kill diseased cells and protect the body from cancer all began to switch on.”

More encouraging still, the benefits of the relaxation effect were found to increase with regular practice: the more people practised relaxation methods such as meditation or deep breathing, the greater their chances of remaining free of arthritis and joint pain with stronger immunity, healthier hormone levels and lower blood pressure. Benson believes the research is pivotal because it shows how a person’s state of mind affects the body on a physical and genetic level. It might also explain why relaxation induced by meditation or repetitive mantras is considered to be a powerful remedy in traditions such as Ayurveda in India or Tibetan medicine.

But just how can relaxation have such wide-ranging and powerful effects? Research has described the negative effects of stress on the body. Linked to the release of the stress-hormones adrenalin and cortisol, stress raises the heart rate and blood pressure, weakens immunity and lowers fertility. By contrast, the state of relaxation is linked to higher levels of feel-good chemicals such as serotonin and to the growth hormone which repairs cells and tissue. Indeed, studies show that relaxation has virtually the opposite effect, lowering heart rate, boosting immunity and enabling the body to thrive.

”On a biological level, stress is linked to fight-flight and danger,” Dr Jane Flemming, a London GP, says. ”In survival mode, heart rate rises and blood pressure shoots up. Meanwhile muscles, preparing for danger, contract and tighten. And non-essential functions such as immunity and digestion go by the wayside.” Relaxation, on the other hand, is a state of rest, enjoyment and physical renewal. Free of danger, muscles can relax and food can be digested. The heart can slow and blood circulation flows freely to the body’s tissues, feeding it with nutrients and oxygen. This restful state is good for fertility, as the body is able to conserve the resources it needs to generate new life.

While relaxation techniques can be very different, their biological effects are essentially similar. ”When you relax, the parasympathetic nervous system switches on. That is linked to better digestion, memory and immunity, among other things,” Toby says. ”As long as you relax deeply, you’ll reap the rewards.” But, he warns, deep relaxation isn’t the sort of switching off you do relaxing with a cup of tea or lounging on the sofa.

”What you’re looking for is a state of deep relaxation where tension is released from the body on a physical level and your mind completely switches off,” he says. ”The effect won’t be achieved by lounging round in an everyday way, nor can you force yourself to relax. You can only really achieve it by learning a specific technique such as self-hypnosis, guided imagery or meditation.”

The relaxation effect, however, may not be as pronounced on everyone. ”Some people are more susceptible to relaxation methods than others,” says Joan Borysenko, director of a relaxation program for outpatients at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre in Boston. ”Through relaxation, we find some people experience a little improvement, others a lot. And there are a few whose lives turn around totally.”

New Treatment: Kansa Vatki Foot Treatment

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KANSA VATKI FOOT TREATMENTS 

A Kansa Vatki foot treatment (or KV) is a relaxing health-care modality which balances the body, mind and spirit. This unique treatment originates from  Ayurvedic theory and incorporates the use of a small metal bowl made of Copper, Zinc and Tin. Copper helps in reducing pain and inflammation, Zinc assists with proper functioning of the immune system & digestion while Tin helps with headaches, insomnia and stress.

The heart of the treatment involves vigorously rubbing the soles of the feet with the Kansa Vatki bowl to draw out heat and toxins thereby inducing tremendous relaxation. The bowl also helps balance the body’s energies.

The practitioner works the vital energy centers –  Marma points – with the bowl and their thumbs to detoxify, energize and rejuvenate the client. Hand techniques also stimulate the blood and lymphatic flow which assists the movement of Prana (Life force energy).

Benefits of this treatment

Body                                                                               Mind

Relax tired feet                                                                Helps reduce stress

Improve blood and                                                           Enhances mental focus

lymphatic circulation                                                        Induces sound sleep

Enhance joint mobility                                                     Restores & Balances energy

Improves in condition of the ligaments & muscles        Calms & nourishes spirit

Increases strength & stamina

Helps detoxify internal organs

Duration of the session: 60 mins. You will then be given ample time to awake from your treatment.  Call today to schedule your KV treatment!  301-754-3730.